Sunday, November 30, 2008

December 1st Deadline for eMailOurMilitary Holiday Postage Campaign Needs Your Help Today

December 1st is the deadline set for postage donations needed to send the holiday cards and packages to deployed troops. The postage goal for this year was set at $2,500, and the total collected so far isn't even half that.

Help send holiday support to deployed troops by donating to the postage campaign right now.

Donate now

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are the Salem Witch Hunts Now Occurring in California?

I'm all for the transparency of the internet when it's in the cause of a good deed or when a blogger can relay important information (see, for example, my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post about the USO). But I have serious concerns when the transparency leads to Salem-style witch hunts.

Apparently donors to California proposition campaigns are public record. And bloggers have published the names of those who donated to help Prop. 8 (banned same-sex marriage in California) pass.

Some anti-Prop. 8 supporters have been using this information against the donors to the campaign. And Richard Raddon, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, has fallen victim to the witch hunt. Raddon has resigned in the face of the pressure against him.

People's private political views are their own. And as long as these private views do not affect the job they are performing, these views should remain private and NOT be used to force someone out of a job.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Get Your Flu Shot Now! If You Need Prodding, Watch This Fun Video

Thanks to Matt Rosler and his University of Pennsylvania alum website for alerting me to this video.

Saying Yes: Opening Up New Horizons in Your Life

On my visit to Chicago this past weekend to celebrate my parents' 84th birthdays (they were born three days apart), my father gave me the book "Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up" by Patricia Ryan Madson. I read part of the book on the plane back to LA.

While I'm not sure I understand or agree with everything I've read so far, I do agree with her first of 13 maxims: "Say Yes." And I particularly agree with this because it fits the philosophy of having an open mind, which I learned about from Carol Dweck's book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success."

Here's an exercise from Madson's book that we can all try:
For one day say yes to everything. Set your own preferences aside. Notice the results. See how often it may not be convenient or easy to do this.

Obviously, use common sense in executing this rule. If you are a diabetic and are offered a big piece of pie, you'll need to find a way to protect your health. Perhaps you can say boldly, "Yes, I'd love to have this pie to take home to my son who adores cherries."
This is an interesting exercise that I'm hoping I'll do one day this week. In the meantime, I'm continuing to follow Dweck's advice about having an open mind: I'm willing to undertake new things -- and I'm willing to fail at them -- in order to expand my knowledge. The alternative, of only doing what I'm good at, is the opposite of a growth mindset.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Local Family Decides to Forgo Expensive Presents This Year and Instead Spend Their Holiday Money on the Needy

My husband received an email from a client with the subject line: Thoughts for the coming holidays …

The long email went on to describe what he and his wife, although they can well afford to spend a great deal on presents, had decided to do this year for the holidays.

I’d like to share some of his words.
Neither one of us felt quite right about the gifts we were about to embark on purchasing for our kids, our families and friends. Something feels very different about this year.

[I]f our community is feeling the pinch and concern of this economy (to whatever degree), then obviously those who are most in need are also. While this difficulty may be a daily inconvenience for some of us, others actually struggle with the issues of where to sleep at night and if they will be able feed and clothe their children. Their daily need doesn’t remain in the realm of the theoretical; it is present and frightening.

During difficult times such as these charitable giving drops and the people already living in the margins simply go unaccounted for. (There are an abundance of articles on line documenting the downturn in charitable giving and the grim holiday forecast it portends.) [We] asked each other how we can participate in the holidays in a more purposeful way. In a way that feels appropriate.
The email goes on to describe two local charities that this family will be supporting this year, and then the email concludes this way:
So rather than buy all of our friends things they don’t need, rather than buy our kids ten things instead of one or two, rather than buy each other one more unnecessary thing, we are going to break the chain and try and apply our efforts to the kids and families these two fine organizations represent. In the grand scheme it’s only a small effort. But it is our effort and we can own it. If you were considering something for our family, we would kindly ask that you redirect your kindness to either of these two organizations.
This is definitely in keeping with what Scrooge at the end of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” did. And I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby Blue and Baby Pink Clothes: The Case Against Gender Stereotyping

Today at the gym I saw adorable twins – a boy and a girl about 10 months old (still crawling and not yet walking). Only the way they were dressed made me see red.

The boy was dressed in blue and the girl was dressed in pink. This gender stereotyping has always driven me crazy. There have been studies done dressing a non-descript baby in one or the other of these colors and recording the different reactions people have to a “boy” baby or a “girl” baby. These studies have shown that gender stereotyping starts at a very early age.

Now I understand that there are differences in genders, important differences. But what shouldn’t be gender-specific is the encouragement young children get to try new experiences. I cringe when a parent says about a toddler – “she’s shy,” thereby reinforcing this behavior. And I strongly suspect that pink or blue clothing on babies and toddlers influences what adults say to these children.

And, yes, if the mother of the twins at the gym had dressed one child in a bright green outfit and another child in a bright yellow outfit, I might not have known the children were boy-girl twins. But did I really need to know that to appreciate how cute they looked together?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who Should Get to Display the World's Art or Why Are the Elgin Marbles in Britian Rather Than in Greece?

If any of you follow art world news, you'll know that recently there's been much news about museums having to give items back to "source" countries. In many cases these are items whose provenance (history of ownership) is not clear or not authenticated. (In other words, were the items stolen from the "source" countries?)

I'm reading a new book about this problem: "Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World" by Sharon Waxman. If you're interested in knowing more about all the sides of this issue, check out this book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

THE COSBY SHOW: Barack Obama Is in This Show's Debt

When my children were little we would watch THE COSBY SHOW. We loved watching the problems of this family, and we learned so much from some of the more serious episodes (like the one that taught Theo how much it cost to live on your own). Perhaps that early bond with THE COSBY SHOW explains why, when the children were in their late teens and saw the musical SOUTH PACIFIC, they didn't like it. They couldn't understand what the big deal was about the two romances -- why couldn't those couples marry?

Today on a back page of Daily Variety I found a letter to the editor from Mickey Gardner, the author of HARRY TRUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS: MORAL COURAGE AND POLITICAL RISKS. Although I don't discuss politics in my blogs, I wholeheartedly agree with Gardner's letter to the editor, which I found so compelling I'm reprinting it here in its entirety:
As we celebrate the election of this country's first African-American president, your readers and the creative community should take note of the fact that two people in your industry -- Marcy Carsey and Tommy Werner -- made a huge contribution more than two decades ago to making Obama's election possible. By stubbornly refusing in the early 1980s to give up their vision of a Cosby as a professional African-American role model and not the stereotypical black standup Vegas comedian that cautious network officials preferred, these two fiercely independent producers contributed mightily to the colorblind attitudes of many of today's middle-aged and younger voters who grew up on "The Cosby Show."

Obama just did not happen overnight. His ability to be elected president started back on July 26, 1948, when Harry Truman, this country's pioneering civil rights president, did the unthinkable and integrated not just the vast American military but the entire federal workforce. While Truman forced blacks and whites to work, eat and sleep alongside each other at Army camps and on Navy battleships, Marcy and Tom showed their viewers how an ordinary black family could live harmoniously with their white neighbors in a world where they all dealt with the same family issues. They shattered another taboo -- all white neighborhoods were still pervasive 25 years ago.

I hope you will take editorial note of the great contribution made by the Cosby team of independent producers who could have sold out and agreed initially to a noncontroversial Cosby and not the beloved Doctor Huxtable who became a friend and weekly visitor in millions and millions of U.S. homes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Earthquake Drill in Los Angeles on November 13 -- Get Prepared

Imagine my surprise to read on the front page of the November 11th Wall Street Journal that at 10 a.m. on November 13th Los Angeles is having a major earthquake drill.

According to the Journal article, scientists realized their harping on the need to be prepared was not being taken seriously by people. So the scientists decided to take a new tack and make a gigantic earthquake drill like a city-wide block party to encourage people to participate.

I immediately went to the website of to register and get more information. And I printed out the instructions for what to do when an earthquake hits, which apparently are different than the ones I learned years ago.

I'm also updating my emergency contact information (contact people outside California to whom everyone in the family should call in if no local phone service) and thinking about what other preparedness tasks I've let slide over the years.

If you live in Los Angeles, go register at the site. And if you don't live in Los Angeles, tell any friends or family who do that they should check out this site before Thursday.

Oh, yes, the earthquake is going to be a mock 7.8 magnitude.

Veterans Day: Take a Moment to Say Thank You to Our Men and Women

As U.S. military personnel continue to fight and sustain casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is only fitting that today on Veterans Day we honor the men and women past and present who fight for and protect our country.

Read my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post in honor of these men and women:

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There was a place that was dug out and it was pitch, pitch black, no moon out. They put three of us up there and we didn’t know what to expect. All three of us sat there and stared all night wondering what the crud was going to happen, ...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Marketing Books: Introducing Queens of Book Marketing

When my book MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL came out in April, I knew nothing about how today's internet -- known as Web 2.0 -- could be utilized to market my book. My first published book, the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION co-written with Rabbi Karen L. Fox, had been published in 1992. I would soon learn that 1992 was the Stone Age in terms of modern book marketing.

And I would also soon learn how much I had to learn. Which is why I've been tied to my computer since then, intensely listening to teleseminars, taking webinars, reading ebooks, reading books, and doing everything else to learn how to optimize Web 2.0 for book marketing.

I decided that other book authors who were also new to Web 2.0 shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. I would launch a website to help them learn much more quickly what I learned the hard way.

Trumpets please! I've now launched to provide information and resources for book marketing. The other queen besides me is my daughter Yael Miller, an award-winning playwright who is currently writing the first in a series of children's fantasy novels.

Check out and then tell your friends. Yael and I are planning to develop an online writing community that can help writers and authors benefit from each other's experiences.

And we welcome you to follow me at and Yael at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Identity Theft: Don’t Help the Crooks

I got an email today supposedly from Wells Fargo security that was so clearly bogus. Every piece of personal identification from Social Security number to the PIN of the ATM card was requested. I deleted the message, but I worried whether some people might be taken in.

Just last night I friended someone on Facebook with whom I had already been in email contact. I was surprised to see that he had his month, date and year of his birth public. This is not a good idea if you want to avoid identity theft. And Facebook provides privacy settings that enable you to keep hidden the year of your birth. I emailed this person suggesting he remove the year of his birth.

I know it’s not possible to keep all personal identification safe. But, for example, when you’re on a cell phone in a public place, it’s probably not a good idea to say all the digits of your credit card aloud. If you must give your credit card number at that moment, step away from everyone within earshot.

Years ago I had a security clearance for a job with U.S. military intelligence in Munich, Germany, when my husband was an intelligence officer stationed there. I still practice some identify-protection techniques I learned at that time. For example, if I’m going to read one of my newspaper subscriptions at the car wash, I remove the visible address from the front page of the newspaper.

We can’t protect ourselves from identity theft, but we can try not to help the crooks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Today: It’s an American Duty and an American Right

I hope that all of us, standing in long lines to cast our vote for the President of the United States, can temper our impatience at the lines with remembering that for much of the world this privilege to vote for the country’s leader does not exist. And even in many countries that supposedly have “free” elections, the single choice of officially sanctioned candidate doesn’t truly provide choice.

Of course, I was afraid that I was going to be stoned by the people in my own long line when a poll worker walked down the line asking for people assigned to the pink table. It turned out my address was in the pink table area. Thus at that particular moment I got to enter the polling place ahead of all the people in line in front of me.

Later today I’m invited to the home of a couple in which each spouse is voting for a different presidential candidate. The couple is calling the event a “victory party” because, no matter who wins, one-half of the couple will be happy.

And I also tweeted on Twitter that I had voted by entering #ivoted on an update. Now I can rely on the Twhirl application of Twitter to give me political news updates while I work at my computer. What a brave new world we live in!