Thursday, June 28, 2007

Being a Boy

As the only child of my parents, when I was born a girl, my Dad said, "What do I do with a girl?" He soon found out that joyous role of being the all-time hero of your daughter's life and having a "Daddy's little girl." But, given my Dad didn't have the pleasure of raising a son, I got to be exposed to lots of sports viewing and actually enjoyed watching most sports. Aside from my affinity for sports, there isn't much else I could do to fill the boy role, because, well, boys are especially different.

A co-worker shared with me yesterday about a book he heard promoted on NPR: A Dangerous Book for Boys. After reading about it online, I found it quite fascinating. Conn and Hal Iggulden, brothers from Britain, wrote this book after realizing that in this over-protective culture, boys need to be introduced to danger and risk. It's the fabric of a boy. But, in our technologically-spinning world, most boys don't make it outside the four walls of their house much, and rarely are untethered from their computer, gameboy, or iPod. Although technology is what pays my bills, I fear this generation of boys is missing out on a whole lot.

How many Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn admirers are there these days? Very few. And, that great classic movie, The Sandlot, tells the tale of a summer with boys - full of baseball, treehouses, s'mores, and crushes on female lifeguards. I see little boys in my world that are afraid of their shadow and would never take on The Beast like the boys of the Sandlot did. Who knows what causes that fear, but a little 'roughing' it up with some other boys in a mudpile would surely do the trick.

This book details all the important skills a boy must to make a bow and to build a to skip to play paper football. There's even lots of stories in the book about our history, including the famous battles that every boy can fantasize about. This is definitely a must read for every boy in your life.

They have a site devoted to the promotion of the book, including a YouTube trailer. Maybe my favorite part of the book is the instructions given for interacting with a girl:

"If you see a girl in need of help--unable to lift something, for example--do not taunt her. Approach the object and greet her with a cheerful smile, while surreptitiously testing the weight of the object. If you find you can lift it, go ahead. If you can't, try sitting on it and engaging her in conversation."

I think I'll buy this book for every man I know...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fuzzy Internet Toys

Last month our sales team was in town for a two-day meeting. As we adjourned at the end of the first day and headed to our dinner destination, one of our salespeople got a call from her daughter. She was trying to convince her Mom to let her purchase a much-desired Webkinz on eBay. I said, "A what?" I pride myself in being pretty hip with the latest fads, although Heelys took me by surprise, but I hadn't heard of these Webkinz thingies.

According to this Mom, these stuffed animals are the latest craze. Sold in small gift shops and Hallmark stores, you purchase your Webkinz, then use the secret code to access a whole world online. Once you "adopt" your pet and give it a name, you then spend time on the site playing games and earn KinzCash so you can shop for toys, furniture, and clothes for your pet. A pretty ingenious way to use an old standard, the stuffed animal, and a new medium, the internet, to engage a salivating audience of young 'uns.

I loved stuffed animals as a kid. Shoot, I still do. So, this whole Webkinz madness is intriguing to even me, an adult. It's interesting to see how toys have evolved over the year. I thought pulling a string and hearing Mrs. Beasley talk was fantastic, but she's old news these days. These virtual stuffed pets are slowly becoming the new Cabbage Patch Kid or Beanie Baby it appears, and if a kid can go online to join the Webkinz Clubhouse, they can probably navigate a bidding war on Ebay to nab the elusive pet they desire.

Maybe I'll indulge one day and get one just for grins. It sure beats the old, boring pet rock I had.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Gospel According to PR

In my past lives in the technology industry, I served as a PR Manager. For those unaware, "PR" stands for "Public Relations." It was my job to handle all external and internal communications initiatives. In laymen's terms, I made us look good to the media and put the words in the mouths of the management team when speaking to our company.

There are two times in the life of a company that you have to be ultra prepared as a PR professional - in times of crisis and in times of acquisition. Many companies that may easily fall prey to a crisis have extensive plans in place to respond. Although, many companies do not and end up scrambling at the last minute to put together ka-zillion pieces of communication. During my uber dot com days, I was part of a PR team that had to handle quite a few acquisitions - some for companies or entities we acquired, others were for the acquisition of our own company.

We'd spend days, even months, preparing multiple versions of press releases, creating FAQ documents to answer potential questions the media and others would ask, and briefing management on how to properly reply to employee and media questions alike. Contrary to what you may know about PR, "no comment" is an unacceptable way to respond. It screams "I'm lying or guilty" like nothing else can.

In I Peter 3:15, it says "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Every time I read that verse, I think of the world of public relations and how it relates to us as believers. Peter is instructing us to first, set apart Christ as Lord, which is mandatory as a Christian. Then he tells us to always be prepared.

That's the life of a PR professional - always prepared. We planned and worked for weeks for the chance to share our good news with the press. Sometimes we got the opportunity, but a lot of times we didn't. Nonetheless, we remained prepared.

And that's the life of a Christian - always prepared. We should be living daily, studying God's Word, understanding what it says, and being ready to answer. Sometimes we'll get the opportunities, but sometimes we won't. More accurately, we get a lot of opportunities, some we take, and some we don't.

If you have Good News to share, always be prepared. You never know when you might be used to comfort in a crisis or plant a seed for the next Kingdom acquisition.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Road Rage

A recent incident at a nearby Kroger parking lot was very disturbing to me. A retired police officer shot a man after an argument at a four-way stop. There is a lot of hoop-la here in town about the whys and who is to blame, but just the fact that guns were drawn over a four-way stop dispute is troublesome. How antagonistic can one person be over who has the right away? Come on people, watch a few Chip and Dale cartoons and be nice and let the other person go, and leave your gun in your holster.

Given this shooting occured within about 4 miles of my home, I've become a bit more attentive to people on the road that might not be too happy with what's happening around them. I didn't think it would be so close to home until my drive into work yesterday...

As I pulled on to Taylorsville Road, happily traveling at the speed limit, a huge black Ford F-something-50 zoomed up on my tail and flashed his lights. Now, normally, the unsanctified part of me would want to slow down to a creep just to agitate him, but given the recent outcome at a four-way stop, I decided to continue on at the correct speed and hope he calmed down.

I then turned on a two-lane curvy road and he almost swallowed me up in his grill. Ok, now I wasn't too happy and beginning to get a little paranoid. The winding road ends at a three-way stop (whew, close call...could have been a four-way). I stopped, let someone go, and then proceeded through hoping and praying that this would separate us enough in traffic - and give him some time to cool off - all would be forgotten. Au contraire.

After being able to "leave him in the dust," I continued driving down a major 4-lane road and lo and behold he finally caught up with me. He had dodged in and out of traffic, as I observed in my rearview mirror, to go around other perceived irritating drivers, and ended up in the left lane, almost next to me. Now, the panic set in. He was next to me, not ahead of me, nor behind me. And, he honked his horn repeatedly. I looked straight ahead, kept driving, took a deep breath, and said a prayer. I should have started by saying a prayer. I slowed down a bit, hoping he was wanting to get in front of me, but no, he zoomed on to the next light and turned left.

Whew. Crisis averted.

I now wish I had taken note of his license plate and called the police....which is what local authorities are advising motorists to do in town who observe some possible out of control road rage. I guess if it happens in the future, I'll have my wits about me to take down the number.

You know, I remember prior to 9/11 how violent the world seemed. School shootings, violent local was brutal. Then, a terrorist attack seemed to push a crime reset button and for a while after that horrible day, crazy crime seemed to diminish. I even had a man in traffic next to me honk to tell me a tire was looking flat. I sure don't want another terrorist attack to occur to right side the world of crime.