The Skin We’re In …

28 May

I learned recently that our skin and brains are the most closely related organs. Apparently, both the brain and skin start off as the same types of cells and then differentiate. Also, our skin (our largest organ) and the brain communicate in ways that provide a feedback loop for sensory awareness, registration of emotions and much more.

Learning this had me fascinated and curious, and I decided to explore what skin looked like close up, so I searched on “electron microscope photography” and “human skin.” I was blown away by the photos. So much detail. So much going on. Look here!

human skin under an electron microscope

I first thought of fish scales when I saw this image!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 2.53.22 PM

And look at the detail in this image above.

human-skin-80012891-l

Another rather “scaly” looking close-up.

Well, people do talk sometimes of their skin feeling or looking scaly. It’s part of our lexicon when we speak of skin. Turns out we have about 35 billion skin cells, and as new cells emerge, they push out the older cells. We shed around 30,000 skin cells every minute, which results in the loss of roughly 43,200,000 each day. Word! 43 million shedded scaly skin cells a day. 43 million.

But then I found some information that really popped my brain and had me thinking. The epidermis, the outer layer of our skin (which includes the part of our skin we see every day) is comprised of more than just the skin’s surface. It consists of a number of levels, each with their own distinct role. As new cells are pushed upward through the other levels of the epidermis and toward the surface of our skin, they die along the way and eventually become filled with keratin, a very strong protein. “These dead, keratin-filled cells make up the outer parts of the epidermis and provide your body with the tough, protective overcoat it needs to survive. The dead cells on the outer parts of your skin are constantly shed and replaced by new ones. As a result, every 20-30 days, your body has an entirely new surface of skin.”

So I looked up keratin, and guess what? One type of keratin is found in the hair (including wool), horns, nails, claws and hooves of mammals. Another type of keratin is found in the nails, scales, claws, shells, feathers, beaks and quills of other animals.

In other words, the proteins in our outermost layer of skin are akin to the outer skin/hair/claws/scales of other animals. Now I can see when I first saw an electron microscope image of skin I thought of scales.

Fwiw, here are two close-up images of a human fingernail.

human fingernail, electron microscope

magnified fingernail

And here are two pics of human hair, the first damaged; the second, healthy.

microscope-human-hair-structure-damaged normal_hair_600x

Interesting stuff!

Beware, though, if you start googling electron microscope photography images. It might be a while until you emerge. It was for me. :-)

How I created a whiteboard video on Fiverr for $15

27 Mar

As a wrap up to 2014, I decided to send out a “video card” of sorts in lieu of a holiday card, which I usually send out. To tell my year-end story, I decided to do what is called a whiteboard video.

After sending out the video, quite a few people asked me how I’d made it, so I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll do another whiteboard video to share how I did the first one.” The service I used, Fiverr, is one I recommend for an exploration of possibilities of what can be done in the world now for a mere $5. It’s worth a poke for the knowledge of what people will do for $5, and who knows, you might end up hiring someone for some gigs.

Here is my “How I created a whiteboard video on Fiverr” video; this one cost me $15.75 to produce.

 

And here is my 2014 wrap-up video. The cost of this was $45 (because it was longer).

 

And here’s what started my exploration into whiteboards, a one-minute video introduction to a new community calendar website I created: TotallyHoCo.com. The cost of this video was $15.75.

 

Surving (thriving in) Frostburn 2015

17 Feb

I have always considered myself someone who doesn’t like the cold. And so it was with trepidation, fear and excitement, that I decided to accompany a handful of friends to the mountains of West Virginia for an outdoor, cold-weather camping trip to a regional Burning Man event called Frostburn. My friends, all experienced burners, were all Frostburn virgins as well.

I’d been hoping for unseasonably warm weather for the weekend trip, but that quickly became a fantasy as the weather predictions called for increasingly cold (record-breaking from 1905 type of cold) weather and severe winds. Yet I continued to pack and prepare. I was even going in early to volunteer at the gate and greet people as they arrived. (This I did for four hours, outside, in the winds and cold … and I loved it.)

My experience at Frostburn was so unexepectedly satisfying, soulful, expansive, wonderful and fun … or just EPIC! as I’ve been saying to those who asked, but this post isn’t about my experience. It’s about my packing and prep, and my notes to myself (and others) for when I return again next year and beyond.

Listed below is what I *wore*! I had many extras of every category of clothing. And I’ve included some notes about other items I packed. I definitely lean toward overpacking, and I didn’t disappoint here, though I have to say, in terms of warmth and layers, it’s almost impossible to overpack. Once I put something on, though, it stayed on and I didn’t switch out my layers.

From the bottom up, on my feet I wore —

  • Smartwool tights
  • Smartwool thin socks
  • Smartwool thick socks
  • Alpaca thick socks
  • An alpaca foot pad/warmer
  • Bogs boots
  • Crocs, for inside the tent when my boots were off

On my legs, I wore, in order —

  • Smartwool tights (as noted above)
  • Merino wool stretch leggings (thick)
  • A merino wool (thick) full-length skirt
  • A vintage 1970s very thick wool, full-length skirt

On my torso, I wore —

  • A light bra; no underwire, shape or metal (something I could sleep in and move in)
  • An athletic Tee for wicking any moisture away
  • A medium-weight merino sweater
  • A thick cashmere turtleneck
  • A thick lambwool + acrylic sweater
  • A full-length comfy soft material jacket (more light a bathrobe)
  • An oversized vintage thick wool calf-length coat with a full collar and more of fur

On my hands, I had —

  • Upcycled merino wool wrist warmers / fingerless gloves
  • Mittens with pop-off tops for finger access (not very useful without an available thumb)
  • Two Zippo handwarmers in my coat pockets (more on this later)

Note:

I did not win when it came to my hands, keeping them warm or being dexterous in the cold (and one does need to be dexterous quite often). Finding a miracle glove that provides a layer of some wind protection and warmth while being an underlayer for an even warmer pair of gloves or mittens over top would be fantastic!

On my neck and head, I wore —

  • The turtleneck (as referenced above)
  • Two gators/duff masks that I could pull up or down on my face.
  • A scarf (which I lost … anyone have word on a lovely light mint green wool scarf?)
  • A loose-knit wool cowl (great for hanging things on, such as my mug on a retractable string)
  • A small wool afghan blanket worn as a shawl and safety-pinned closed
  • Two hats at most times, layered

Personal Care

  • Tea tree oil toothpicks (in lieu of brushing my teeth as much as I might do so regularly)
  • Toothbrush, floss, toothpaste (my toothpaste didn’t freeze, thank goodness)
  • Lip balm
  • Eye drops (Similisan)
  • Nose spray
  • TP (Always bring and carry on oneself extra TP)

Notes:

I didn’t wash my face and my skin oils naturally protected my skin; the area where I could have used some TLC was my chin: the moisture from my breath and the gators/neck warmth rubbing against my chin caused some chafing. I used a disposable cup when brushing my teeth (anything to avoid dishes to wash). Should have trimmed my toenails — wearing four pairs of socks plus a thick padding inside my boots made for a tight fit and the ends of my toes were a bit sore by the final day. I pre-treated my whole body several times in the week prior to the burn with Nerium Night Treatment.

Food & Cooking — This is what I ate & drank

  • Beef bone broth (home-made … YES!)
  • Ham stew (home-made; brought a lot)
  • A bag of potato chips
  • A handful of almonds
  • Bratwurst (cooked over the fire)
  • Sour chewy candies
  • Water – it all froze
  • Alcohol – little bits here and there; not much
Notes:

I ate very, very little, and I ate infrequently. I drank very little quantity of liquids,  though I had some nice servings of warm bone broth. I had visions of always having hot tea in a thermos: totally didn’t happen. Definitely put the kitchen area inside a shelter/tent. Only bring teflon/nonstick pans for easy cleaning. Clean immediately after use with a paper towel. Tea (never made any … and I drink tea daily; the hassle of heating up water and exposing my fingers … not worth it) Bring nothing that requires prep or creates extra dishes. There is little not-frozen water and who wants to do dishes! (No one!) Paper plates, disposable insulated cups and silverware. Put everything you hope won’t freeze in a good-quality cooler. (It will probably still freeze … just not solidly.) Propane and fuel gets cold. Lighters (even high-powered propane lighters) won’t work well in the cold. Keep JetBoil inside yurt to keep fuel from freezing / getting too cold. Keep water inside yurt.

Shelter & Sleeping

  • Wolf brought his amazing velcro-binding yurt which was sturdy, beautiful and easy to set up.
  • Propane heater for inside.
  • Cot to elevate off the cold (and wet) ground.
  • Sleeping pad, plus two sleeping bags.
  • Many wool blankets.
  • My memory foam pillow froze(!) though it warmed where I laid my head.
Notes:

My campmates brought the structures, heat, lights, generator, fire pit and many, many other items I didn’t have. I brought my REI Kingdom 6 tent, which was used as the kitchen tent. I’ve been to the playa and Burning Man five times with this tent, but I don’t think it was ever buffeted around as much as it was at this event. I slept in all my clothes minus my coat, the overskirt and my boots. I added another layer of socks while sleeping and wore soft mittens, too … and always a hat.

Zippo Handwarmers: My thoughts

They’re great when they work. They’re seemingly temperamental and certainly inconsistent. Definitely “season” your warmers ahead of time and use them prior to an event where you need them. Light/start them an hour or two before you think you’ll need them. Share them with friends, for a few moments. Keep them in your coat pocket and help dry out/keep warm wet mittens or gloves. Do not put them directly against your skin.

Notes for next year

Get a small propane lighter I can wear around my neck and keep warm with my body heat. “Season” my Zippo hand warmers before going to the event. Get more fuel for the handwarmers; always keep them going, even while sleeping so that they are warm when I wake up. Definitely make more bone broth and stew. Figure something out with my fingers and keeping them warm. Bring plenty of windproof matches. Lots of ultra large safety pins are good for keeping on my clothing to use when needed, e.g. when going into a dance space and/or bar and wanting to take off some layers; it’s super helpful to be able to be able to clip my items together.

It’s calendars, dear ones.

11 Dec

Yes, yes, I know. There is this thing, this phenomenon. I don’t believe this thing is called “the curse of knowledge,” though it’s something similar. (Anyone know?) It’s the thing that happens when something becomes so — it becomes true — and everyone assumes, “Well, of course, that’s how things would have developed. Anyone could have seen it coming.” Except, of course, that that’s not the least bit true when the thing is not yet fully formed.

An example, we drive cars versus — for a wild example — learning how to teleport. Or LGBT rights moved so rapidly from a fringe movement to what it is today, politically and culturally. Or that we drink water out of plastic bottles by the billions (vs, for example, keeping ourselves more healthfully hyrdated by consuming good quality salt and more water-rich produce and foods). See, once something becomes “so,” it seems a natural trajectory that it couldn’t have been any other way.

There are a zillion things I’ve never seen coming, but in some areas of my life, I’ve had “a sense.”

  • In 1982, I was telling my college professors that I envisioned a world where CEOs would actually have their own computers and typing pools would die away. They laughed.
  • In 1991, I was telling graphic designers that they were going to need computers to do their designs vs typesetting and manual layout. They laughed.
  • In 2007, I was telling friends and businesses that they were all going to need Facebook profiles and that FB pages and social media marketing was going to come up and happen so fast the entire world was going to change. They laughed.
  • In 2008, I was part of an invited panel for the US military’s strategic communications training and was told, “maybe in five years or so the US military will start to use social media.” I told them they didn’t have five years. They laughed. (The miiltary moves slowly, they told me. I laughed.)

Now, my spidey sense say: it’s CALENDARS. Folks, it’s time to start getting your calendars in order.

I’ve yet to decide whether it’s insane or brilliant to take this project — TotallyHoCo.com — on, but whether you’re local or not, I encourage you to start putting attention on your personal, biz, org calendars and how they publish, synch, look and communicate! If it’s not your job at your company to make this happen, bring the tool/possibility to the attention of those whose job it is.

Me? I’m going with Time.ly. And while you may scoff, or laugh, you’re going to be joining this movement and shift eventually, so you might as well get on board sooner than later.

TIP: For most organizations and businesses, Time.ly’s free or $9/month service will give you all you need and more than you could have thought to ask for.

Turnips to die for … and some magical ingredients

27 Nov

Many things happen in cycles of seven: human development and consciousness being the biggest one. There’s the seven-year itch and relationships going through cycles of seven. Hair growth supposedly changes in cycles of seven; and tastebuds change in cycles of seven. Ever notice how you can hate/loathe/not like at all some food in younger years (onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, organ meats, for example) and then all of sudden, one day you wake up realize that you not only no longer loathe said offensive food item but actually like it ?

roasted turnips with white balsamic vinegar from secolari'sWell, apparently, when I wasn’t paying attention, turnips crept up on me and went from the No, Thanks! to the Yes, Please! category in my book. Here’s my favorite way to make turnips, and I think I could convert a turnip-hater into a turnip fan with this recipe. My magical ingredients are marked by the asterisks.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then get a nice oven-safe dish out — one where your volume of turnips won’t be more than about two inches high. Place the ingredients directly in this dish.

Peel and dice a couple/few fresh* turnips

Drizzle good quality* olive oil on them; enough to coat them

Liberally add fresh or dried thyme

Drizzle some White Balsamic Vinegar** from Secolari’s

Add some super-good quality salt** (Piran Sel Gris or Meadow Flake from The Meadow)

Toss the ingredients together, coating everything well; I use my hands. Bake/roast the turnips until they transform, change from a thick opaque flesh to a lighter, clearer color, and carmelize. Try not to eat them all before you serve them.

Image from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Letter to the Editor, Columbia Flier / HoCo Times

18 Oct

Here is the Letter to the Editor that was published in the October 16, 2014, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times. Thanks to these pubs for publishing my letter.

Local website offers resources for voters

I quite like the new banners about town: the ones proclaiming the many accolades earned and “best of” lists made by Columbia, Ellicott City and Howard County. Seein the many banners I was reminded that I live in one of  “the most technological counties” in America. And I can imagine the kind of stats that put us there: the number of houses with high-speed internet, the percentage of tech jobs and tech companies in the area, the number of mobile phones per the population base, and so on.

Yet there is a metric that is hard to see and certainly challenging to measure: it’s how much Howard County rocks as a social media ecosystem. With hundreds of active bloggers; untold Facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts for businesses, organizations and individuals; a robust list of local #HoCoHashtags (http://goo.gl/WdvB86) and much more, we are, indeed, a “most technological county.”

As the elections get closer, I’d like to share yet another digital resource that I believe contributes to our acclaimed status. It’s a website listing the social accounts (blogs, Facebook and twitter) from Howard County political candidates. The various social streams provide an interesting perspective on the candidates … a perspective above and beyond their marketing materials, crafted speeches and three-minute answers at public forums. The social streams provide insight into what catches these politicians’ attention on a daily basis, how they see situations and what they consider important. Take a look! http://hocoblogs.com/elections2014.php

And get to know your local candidates even better!

Jessie Newburn

Oakland Mills


Jessie Newburn is a co-founder of HoCoBlogs.com and the #HoCoElections site.

Getting my invasivore on with autumn berries

23 Sep

I was encouraged a few years back to explore foraging … and I love it. Less interested in that which grows deep in forests and very interested in that which grows in meadows and suburban lawns and at the scrubby edge of well-manicured community paths, lawns and corporate office parks, I find myself thrilled with foraging. It’s the ultimate in sustainability (it requires no input or labor, except in the harvesting); it’s a no-brainer for locavore eating and, for certain, it makes eating (some food) seasonally quite easy.

Autumn berries! And a few wild grapes found along the way.A year of so back when Pinterest was all the rage (is it still?) I decided to learn about Pinterest and I chose to create a Howard County, Maryland – Wild Edibles board, at which time I discovered that this insanely invasive bush, the autumn olive, produced edible, tasty, nutritious berries.

Come “autumn” I decided to find and harvest some berries.

I read one post where a forager spoke of filling gallons of buckets in less than an hour by pulling on the branches and letting the berries drop into a bucket. I tried that. I certainly didn’t get gallons, though I got a lot of leaves, unripe fruit and organic bits that required a fair amount of cleaning. I also had a hard time balancing the bucket.

The next day I went out with a sling-style bag and picked each berry by hand, producing a yield of near-perfect berries with almost zero debris and, certainly creating a much happier experience for me. As the berries are in season now, I’ve been reading more about them and, Lordamercy, are these things ever invasive. They seed and spread so easily, they grow to be rather large bushes, they are super-prolific in their berry making and, resultingly, they are nudging out many other plants, thus decreasing the biodiversity and habitat for other creatures, blood-filled and otherwise.

Here is where I discovered a growing movement of invasivores, people dedicated to eating invasives. (One site includes an autumn olive and goat cheese dressing, interesting!) This “movement” motivated me to denude (to the level I can comfortably reach) one of the richest-in-berries bushes I’ve found to date. It’s quite a challenge and one that will take me several days and will yield many thousands of berries.

So now that I’ve picked — and have many more yet to pick — berries, what do I do with them? To date, I have —

  • Eaten them by the handfuls
  • Made fruit leather
  • Muddled them (with sugar, lime juice, ginger, etc.)
  • TBD … I keep picking a lot … who knows

For fruit leather (my first attempt) I found it a disaster. I got so many steps wrong. I made it in my dehydrator, but didn’t spray the fruit leather tray with Pam (or equivalent) and found the labor of trying to remove the thin layer of fruit leather a PITA. It was also messy as the autumn berry liquid (boiled in water, seeds and pulp removed via a mill) was super liquid-y and it didn’t sit or stay well, though it did a darn good job of rolling over. And I could list a half dozen other mistakes I made. What to do?

I had a load of berries and no interest in making autumn berry wine, jelly, jam or ketchup. And I liked the taste of the fruit leather. (Dehyrdrating always changes the flavor of a thing, and in the autumn berry case, it definitely does so for the better, imo.)

An inspiration! I found a dozen or so large yogurt container lids, put them in the dehydrator and filled them with the liquid. And while I ate some of the fruit leather the next day, I also wanted to make a more substantial snack, so I poured in a second layer of the liquid on day two and doubled up the thickness of the leather. Delish. Super easy to remove and quite awesome.

Fwiw, I added a small amount of sugar and a bit of citric acid. And now I’m experimenting with other flavors and a fruit leather of the seeds and pulp left over; I like the taste of the seeds, personally. Stay tuned.

photo 4

Fresh-picked autumn berries. I’ll boil these and run the liquid through a mill to remove the seeds and some pulp.

My nifty solution of pouring the autumn berry liquid into yogurt container tops, thus creating a contained space for the fruit leather ... and make the removing of the dried leather much easier.

My nifty solution of pouring the autumn berry liquid into yogurt container tops, thus creating a contained space for the fruit leather … and make the removing of the dried leather much easier.

Autumn berry fruit leather.  Two layers of drying for a thicker leather.

Social capital as currency

10 Sep

Yes, I hark on this point often: social capital is a form of currency.

While money is the currency most recognized in commercial transactions, alone it’s flat, bland and doesn’t tell the whole truth of an exchange and engagement. Nothing wrong with it. It does its job. It allows for transactions and exchanges, particularly when relationships of trust don’t exist, and sometimes when they do. 

Yet there is another form of currency, one rising in power and influence, particularily these past six-seven years, and one that helps distribute wealth to a larger group of people, and that’s the currency of one’s social capital. In looking at generations and in understanding that each generation forms and is formed by the surrounding generations and the cultural era in which it sits at whatever phase of life its in, I’ll bring forward again the claim that the Millennial generation (the Hero archetype and those born 1982-2004ish) will always “fight” for the “right to a middle-class existence.” They may not know this thought consciously, but they feel it deep within their individual and collective spirits. They are The Common Man, The Average Joe, generation (as much as they’ve been raised to be special … go figure).

GenXers, now in mid-life, trust no institutions, particularly not monetary, government institutions, and they feel instinctively that the primary wealth that matters is the skills, connections and resources that can be moved in a moment’s notice … things that travel with them. And that makes sense because GenXers are the Nomad archetype, per Strauss and Howe’s work

Social capital can take many forms: an introduction for a job opportunity or a date, bending some rules as a favor to someone to give them a break, encouraging acquaintances to try a new product or business service and many, many other forms. In particular, an area where I tread is as a party host. I host lots of parties, notably and recently with a bent for connecting local bloggers with readers, civil servants, politicians, reporters and everyday folk in the community.

These parties, while in some sense, I can do, figuratively, with my eyes closed, do take time and e-f-f-o-r-t. But the thing that makes them considerably easier for me is when a business (usually a restaurant) approaches me wanting to do the parties. Wanting to have the bloggers and readers at their venue. The energetic difference between having to explain, convince and sell someone vs simply organizing, planning and hosting a party is huge. And the easier the parties are for me to host, the more (quantity, type and frequency) I can host. 

So to all of you who take the five minutes to tweet and use the venue’s correct Twitter handle (so that they can see and witness your social capital in action), or to upload a photo to Instagram and tag it well, or to like the venue’s Facebook page and write a comment of thanks for their generosity in hosting us … and particularily for those of you who blog and take the time to write a post about a party, bless you and thank you. It’s an honor and joy to host the parties and to help people connect, and it’s not my show … it’s our event. I may be the organizer, but without the ecosystem of which you’re a part, it would be flat, bland and just another party. 

Amen for us!

 

Here are some examples of local parties and social capital currency.

HoCoBlogs at Nottingham’s 

Super Sana and Secolari

Storify and Second Chance Saloon

Annie Rie and Petit Louis Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

Gen Z is here! (No, they’re not.)

28 Jul

Some friends asked me to comment on this article, Get ready for Generation Z. So I did.

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I’m a Strauss and Howe purist. Generations are 20 years in length, plus or minus a couple/few years, there is no Gen Z (just as there is no Gen Y); the nomenclature is all wrong because it speaks to one generation coming after another in a sequence. Generations come after each other, of course, but cyclically, not sequentially.

Btw, the Homelanders (the generation born after Millennials) are only about 8-9-10 years old at the top end, not 16ish as stated in the article.. These pics and examples of kids in this article are mid- and late-wave Millennials, that’s all. You can call ’em what you want — call them GenZed if you want — but that doesn’t make them a new generation.

The Homelanders aren’t “smarter,” per se … of course not, but they will become “the credentialed experts” as they rise up the age ladder. Just as GenXers/nomads (the shadow gen to the Artists/Homelanders/Silent gen) rail against “the credentialed expert” — noticed the power of social media to create DIY experts and rock stars? yeah, that’s GenX energy to destroy the cultural hold of “credentialed experts” made powerful by the Silent Gen and to circumnavigate the power hold of Boomers (read: “I was here first, therefore, it’s mine”) — the next round of artists (the Homelanders) will bring back to front and center the importance and value of the credentialed expert. This will begin to rise gently in importance in their young adult years (starting around 2024) and will become solid and unshakable in the midlife years (starting around 2044).

More Carrots, Indeed!

30 Jun
more carrot burning man campHey loves, Many/most/all? of you know I go to Burning Man and am involved in a camp called More Carrot. Burning Man is much more (indescribably more) than just a big party in the desert. It’s a place of community, principles and values withwhich I deeply resonate. I’m asking for your support in our annual fundraising campaign. 
 
We keep our camp numbers small (30ish) and each camp member contributes $400 to our operating costs plus their own ticket and other costs (about $2500-$3000 each in the US and about $4000-$5000 for our many Aussies), and we do this so that the participation, community and intimacy of our camp is greater; alas, our costs and investments are more than our camp contributions provide. Please consider even a small donation to our camp and this amazing growing/developing/expanding space and experience that is Burning Man and More Carrot.
 
Thanks for your support!
 
Actions you can take to help —
  • Share our campaign link in your network
  • Donate to our campaign today, even $10 helps
  • Gift a box of fresh produce to a burner you love ($100 and $15o)
 
And at no cost, help us get more followers and reach a larger network —
 
 
Burning Man More Carrot

Please support my Burning Man camp with your donation today!

Two local parties, an opporunity to be highlighted and a HoCo voter-focused website

19 Jun

Hi there! I’ve got —

  1. two local parties coming up,
  2. an opportunity to get highlighted and
  3. a HoCo voter-focused website I’d like your help in sharing with others.
Nerium Firm party at 39-Minute Workout

One party is mine alone and it’s this weekend. It’s a Nerium Firm party at 39-Minute Workout in Ellicott City, and it combines two things I love: the Nerium product/plant/business/opportunity and kettlebell training (who knew!). I know that for most of you Nerium isn’t for you. I get that. I’d still love your support to be there and/or to send referrals my way. Everyone’s got skin … and Nerium’s products work! Saturday’s party deets here.

HoCoBlogs party at Secolari Artisan Oil and Vinegar

The other party is a HoCoBlogs party at Secolari Artisan Oil and Vinegar in the new section of the Columbia Mall. I love this store: it sells three of my favorite things: quality olive oil, superb vinegar and artisinal salt. Honey, too! The staff are super friendly and the store is locally owned by a Clarksville couple. Imagine that: a locally owned store in the Columbia Mall. Kind of makes me feel nostalgic for the ’70s and early ’80s. Love to see you there. It’s free to attend and there will be nibbles and tastings. Please share this party invite with local foodies.

Getting highlighted

On the new party/event tool I’m using (EventJoy), there is an opportunity to highlight people by posting a short bio, a headshot and links to key social media sites. I need people to highlight. (You need to be at the party to be highlighted; that’s the one catch.) Post your info here on this form if you’re interested. You can see my last party’s invite and how people were highlighted. Just scroll over the photos; see the bio and social media links?  Even if you can’t make the Secolari party, I can include you on a future party announcement. I’d love to help you find and deepen more local connections.

#HoCoElections 

As you probably know, I’ve been championing social media as an integral element of healthy communities for over seven years now, and much of this energy has found its form in HoCoBlogs.com, a site with, as of today, 444 local blogs listed on it. For the primaries, my tech partner, Robin Abello, and I have hired a developer to create a #HoCoElections site in which we include the key social media sites (blogs, Facebook and Twitter) from local candidates. The elections site is found here, and it will be updated after the primaries then after the general elections. I’d very much appreciate your sharing this site with other people in Howard County, either on Facebook, an email you send, Twitter or perhaps simply telling a neighbor about it. As much of the local conversation and elected positions are dominated by older people, and as Columbia and Howard County face a very-real danger in not being appealing to a younger, dynamic generation, I believe it’s even more important that politicians use social media and that voters of any age can tune into their streams of communication and become more involved and engaged in our community.

Well, that’s it for now.

Hugs from the east side!

Jessie

#HoCoBlogs

HoCoElections page offers voters insight and perspective via candidates’ social streams

12 Jun

Check out the new HoCoBlogs’ Election 2014 page.

Click the hashtags for race-specific Twitter streams.

And definitely follow and use #HoCoPolitics!

***

With the primary elections around the corner and early voting starting now, many voters may find themselves shrugging their shoulders, essentially saying, “Eh, I really don’t know who to vote for. All the candidates sound so alike. What if I vote for the wrong person? … I guess I’ll leave the voting to those who are more involved and know better.”

Does this sound like you? It sure is how I was for years; nay, decades. I still find it challenging to differentiate one candidate from another when all I have to go on is their printed election material, which almost always make a candidate look good, reasonable and worthy of my vote.

Sample page from the new site for HoCoElections.

So how do you get to know the candidates? How do you get a sense for who someone is? How do you gain insight, perspective and confidence to vote for the person who seems like the best candidate to you?

One way and one angle to gain this perspective is through the candidates’ social media activity in the form of blogs, Facebook updates, tweets and more. In social media, there is usually less vetting of content, more in-the-moment-ness and more opportunity to see into someone’s personality than exists with highly edited and strategic printed campaign mailers.

At HoCoBlogs, we’ve pulled together local candidates’ social media activity in a new website: HoCoBlogs’ Election 2014, which you can find atwww.hocoblogs.com/elections2014. Come visit (again and again, we hope) and get to know your candidates. Perhaps, and hopefully, you’ll feel more confident to cast your vote and participate in local elections this year.

***

PS – Yes, we are aware that many a tweak still needs to be made. We wanted to get this site mostly done before the primaries, and we’ll update it after the primaries to reflect the elections. Feel free to send updates and new or corrected info to jessie@hocoblogs.com.

Columbia Association Needs Bob Fontaine

24 Apr

Here is a Letter to the Editor I wrote which was printed in the April 24, 2014, issue of the Columbia Flier.

To those of you living in Harper’s Choice, if you’ve already decided for whom you’re voting in the village elections come Saturday, great; it’s good to have convictions. But my sense is that most people don’t have strong convictions about the CA board and can’t tell much of a difference between one candidate and the other.  On paper, pretty much every candidate sounds good, wouldn’t you agree? But in person, how people act, function, collaborate and solve problems — well, that’s a very different story.

I have known CA board candidate Bob Fontaine for a number of years. He is, hands down, in my opinion, the best candidate for the position and will bring professionalism, experience and capacity that his opponent simply can’t match.

While I’ve been guilty myself, many times, for choosing not to vote because I really didn’t know which candidate was better or why, I urge any of you living in Harpers Choice to take the 30 minutes or so to get to the polls, to vote and to help CA become a more professionally managed organization.

Bob Fontaine is the type of leader the CA board needs, now more than ever.

Jessie Newburn

Oakland Mills

***

PS – Ditto for Harry Schwarz in Hickory Ridge, and Suzanne Waller in Town Center.

#HoCoPolitics

How to get Nerium Day Cream for Free … for the rest of your life; no risk but one small catch

28 Mar

Hello loves,

Yes, it’s true. You can get the age-defying NeriumAD Day Cream for free for the rest of your life. Here’s the information, the how and the one small catch.

Here’s what you need to do
  1. Become a Preferred Customer (a $45 savings over the retail price) who is signed up for auto-delivery (a monthly shipment) and receiving the day cream and night treatment combo pack.
  2. Stay on the auto-delivery for three consecutive months. Then your fourth bottle of Nerium Day Cream and every other bottle thereafter, for the rest of your life, is free as long as you stay on the auto delivery.
The company’s no-risk guarantee

Nerium International offers all customers a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can return the product for any reason and get your product purchase price returned to you as long as the package is post-marked within 30 days of your purchase.

My no-risk guarantee

If you want to try Nerium and sign up for the free day cream for life, I will call you 25 days after you purchase the product to see if you’re happy with it. If for any reason you want to return it, either I will get your bottle from you and return it for you, or I will use one of my own used bottles and return it on your behalf for your refund.

The catch

This offer, open since October 2013, ends soon. You must act by March 31, 2014.

Click here to get your Nerium Day Cream FREE for the rest of your life

Pick the middle option ($12o + S&H and tax … about $137, all told).

I love this product!

I love this product and heartily recommend it! While there are many amazing before-and-after photos, in my own experience, I’ve had improvements with texture (in days) and tone (in a few weeks); and reduction with discoloration, fine lines and wrinkles (visible within a couple months).

eyes crows feet wrinkles and bags under the eyes nerium

Nerium works on tightening loose skin. Here is an example of improved skin and texture with bags under the eyes and wrinkles.

 

back of the hands , skin, discoloratin and wrinkles

Smart! This woman applied Nerium to one hand to test her own results. See for yourself!

 

nerium works on cystic acne and Atrophic scars

Nerium works on many skin conditions; here is some atrophic scar improvement.

Nerium AD Safety Information: answering questions about Nerium skin cream’s toxicity

17 Mar

I am a Nerium Independent Brand Partner and sometimes when people hear the word “nerium,” they have an understandable, “Whhaaaa….??? Nerium oleander is poisonous!” reaction. Yes, the plant has toxic components. But the nerium extract, obtained by a patented process that renders it non-toxic, is not. A week or so ago, I saw in a company email this wrap-up of links and information about NeriumAD’s skin cream safety and the science behind it. Reposted here, verbatim.

NeriumAD Safety Information
Nerium age-defying treamtment - safety concerns

Nerium age-defying treatment and day cream.

At Nerium, we’re exceedingly proud of the wealth of painstaking research that’s gone into our product development. Leading researchers, pharmacologists, toxicologists, and physicians heartily tout the safety of NeriumAD. We want you to be able to use their knowledge and research to refute negative, uneducated opinions.

Dennis Knocke, CEO of Nerium SkinCare, wrote this memo, which summarizes the educated views on the safety of NeriumAD. To see the experts quoted in this memo, please watch this video. If you have someone questioning the research behind NeriumAD, Dr. Robert Newman describes it here. In addition to these esteemed scientists, doctors and researchers, we’d like to share with you how leading estheticians feel about NeriumAD!

We are committed and dedicated to offering skincare solutions that are based on proven science and actual customer success.

***

For more information, to try Nerium skin cream free for five days, or just to say “hello,” here’s my contact info —

Jessie Newburn
Columbia, Md.
jessienewb.nerium.com
jessienewb.arealbreakthrough.com
facebook.com/jessie.newburn
443-794-7521
Email

An at-home before-and-after photo from a Nerium customer.

An at-home before-and-after photo from a Nerium customer.

Comb-overs, faces covered in a mess of gray hair, embracing baldness and wearing hats: men, hair and generations

13 Mar

I like bald-headed men. Then again, I’m of the generation where men have embraced baldness rather than fighting it. Here’s my take on how how men approach their hair, through the lens of generations.

Silent Gen, b 1925-1942. Born too young to be GI Heroes and too late to be peace-love-n-rock-n-roll Boomers, Silent Gen men  hit midlife in an era of increasing desire for personal expression in what we now call the Consciousness Revolution. As a generation, they helped loosen the grips on responsibility and adulthood; they were the swingers of the ’70s. And they were the ones  who embraced the comb-over and toupe. They’been known for their bad, DIY home hair-coloring job, trying to be a generation younger and not succeeding. No need to say any more about this. Close your eyes and try not to remember.

Boomers, b 1943-1960. One of the core experiences of the Prophet generation (today’s Boomers) is that they first fight a new phase of life and deny the personal implications, then they embrace it, call it Good. They perceive of themselves as forever young (no one else does) until they finally embrace elderhood and become what are historically and cyclically known as “Gray Champions.” But during their mid-life and early elderhood years, you can spot Boomer men by their facial hair (beards and moustaches that cover their faces). Often accompanied by glasses and a cheap haircut. The antithesis of style. It’s as though they picked a look that worked for them at 27 and haven’t updated their style since then. May they grow their beards longer, wear white robes, grab a cane and do as their generation does in elderhood: provide the moral compass for society in an era of Crises. (Note to Boomer men: You all look alike! Well, those of you with moustaches, beards and glasses do.)

GenXers, b 1961-1981. GenX men remember all too well those Rogaine and Hair Club for Men commercials. Come GenXers into midlife and look at the cultural shift toward baldness. Bald guys are hot. Even men in their early 30s often shave their heads. It’s a look. It’s a statement. Being bald  — which for most men is really an act of embracing hair loss and “the inevitable” by shaving off their thinning hair — is taking a step forward, rather than fighting accumulated years. It’s an “I am what I am” thing. Embracing assets that are abundant — moustaches and beards —  expresses a GenX value to work with existing resources.

Millennials, b 1982 – 2004. At the top end, they are 32 in 2014 and hair loss is not big on their radar; the youngest in their generational span are but ten years old. My prediction: hats. That’s how they will deal with their hair loss. Formal, informal, but definitely stylish, quality, hats harking back to the 1930s. (Just go back 80-ish years to see the trends; it’s all a cycle!) Hats and more focus on things that shape a man’s face with refinement (vs the GenXers’ embracing of the beards reminiscent of the ’70s and a nostalgia for their childhood years). You can already see the change in the flamboyant moustaches, that GenX and Millennial men are sporting. Millennial men in midlife, I’d think, will wear monocles, have well-slicked hair, groom for pencil moustaches and, in general, embrace anything that is anti-grunge, leaning instead toward a conservative, preppy and ready-for-success look, which they are already doing.

This is, of course, one woman’s opinion, unedited. Not proofread.

The Fat Drug — and an open letter to Millennials for when you’re in midlife

11 Mar

From the NY Times, “The Fat Drug.” “How humankind unwittingly joined an experiment on antibiotics and weight gain.” / and / “In the meantime, we are faced with the legacy of these drugs — the possibility that they have affected our size and shape, and made us different people.”

*****

The Fat Drug.

The Fat Drug.

Dear #Millennials, please remember antiobiotics (these good-ideas-gone-horribly-wrong) when you’re in mid-life (42-62 years old). You probably don’t know this but it’s your generational archetype (Heroes) that ushered in Vaccines For All (wheee!!!) and  promises of “antiobiotics are good”  to the masses the last time your archetype was in midlife. That would be, for your reference,  the GI generation, born 1901-1924. And in some ways, they weren’t wrong.

But see, the thing for your generation to understand about itself is your Achilles’ heel: your hubris. Your generation is upbeat, trusting of institutions, increasingly powerful as it ages, and focused on a few grand solutions rather than scattered countless gambles (that’s the GenX role) or moralistic, values-driven contemplation (Boomers’ role).

But, in your collaboration and agreement, in your assumption that because you all find X or Y or Z the Thing To Do, what you forget to do is assess, to look at repercussions, to look at the effect and the effect of the effect. That’s what your junior generation (the Homelanders) will do for you in their young adulthood to your mid-life years. Heed them. And more so, remember in your feelings of glory and power, that the things that seem so grand today will — like clockwork — become the profound problems that create the crisis situation for society and the next round of Millennial-like kids and young adults 80 years hence.

You’ll do great work; that is certain. Just remember to listen when your elder cautious GenXers and your younger sensitive Homelanders say, “um, maybe this could be tweaked just a bit.” And heed. For truly, your generation’s weak point is your hubris, a problem which becomes increasingly pronounced — not too surprisingly — the more older and powerful you become.

A spring fast, cleanse and detox

9 Mar

Some friends and I have decided to do a spring cleanse and detox. This is not my first rodeo, as They say, but it is theirs. I’ve done quite a few cleanses over the years, and that would perhaps seem normal, healthy and wise were I a European blogging to a mostly European audience. But I’m not European and my assumption is most of my readers will be /are American. I am not an SME, a certified whatever or a deep studier on the subject. I’m offering here my perspective and feelings.

So, first things first. There are many ways to cleanse and detox, many products, many approaches and many reasons. My friends and I going to do the Blessed Herbs product cleanse, with some of us doing the five-day fast, cleanse and detox (I’ve gone as long as 10 days with this sytem) and others choosing a lighter approach where they’ll be eating for five days and using the cleanse and detox products.

This post is aimed at the fast-and-cleanse group and I’m providing some tips that I can offer from my experience, namely:

  1. Get your products and go shopping.
  2. Find good juices.
  3. Find savory drinks.
  4. Find satisfying water alternatives.
  5. The hunger will pass.
  6. Cheat with coconut oil.
  7. Open to whatever needs to be cleansed.
  8. Make it a meal!
  9. Do your best and don’t fret the rest.
Get your products and go shopping.

You’ll need a bottle of the Digestive Stimulant (DS) and two 14-packet packs of the Toxin Absorber (TA). I prefer the ginger flavor as I feel it mixes better with other juices. Start taking the DS and TA, one per day, a couple-few days before you start your full cleanse. You can skip the kit, save yourself some money and just buy the two items. You’ll need a shaker jar to shake-shake-shake the TA. You’ll also need juice and other items, so check out my shopping list at the end of this post. If you use this coupon code for Blessed Herbs, you’ll get 20% off and I’ll earn $10.

Find good juices.

In a perfect world, you’ll buy organic fruits and produce, juice them in your world-class juicer (I have one, a Champion) and drink healthful, nutrient-rich juices. Right. Been there. Done that. You might as well take vacation days for all the time and effort it takes to prep, juice, clean-up and then repeat the process for a total of five times a day. You do need juice (imo) to mix with the TA; I prefer sweeter juice rather than vegetable-y juice as the TA gets thick quickly and it’s just easier to drink a sweeter drink quickly.

When mixing the TA, put half  juice and half water in the jar, add the packet; shake; have your glass ready to pour it into; drink quickly; do not delay. Juice has loads of sugar in it, so going forward, I’ll be cutting down the amount of juice I consume when cleansing and detoxing. If you purchase juice (recommended, though I used to be a purist and made all my own juice) get healthier alternatives where you can and stretch your juice with flavored teas.

Find savory drinks.

I find having something savory and tasty makes all the difference. I feel more satisfied and less denied when I have savory drinks. For me, this has included home-made beef broth, miso soup (a bit of a cheat as miso is a solid) and any sort of soup broth. I’ve recently purchased some Numi savory tea for my upcoming cleanse and feel this will be a big help to have something that feels/smells more substantial than “just” cold fruit or vegetable juice.

Find satisfying water alternatives.

Regardless of how many experts say “drink lots of water,” I do not believe this nor do I find it sound advice as it does not, in my understanding, match pre-industrialized human history and behavior. I personally think the “drink more water” mantra promulgated is really an unconcious battle against the crazy amount of cheap, low-grade, poor-nutrient, industrialized salt added to tens of thousands of food products. And it is my opinion that rather than dealing with the issue of crappy food, crappy salt quality and poor eating choices, our Society has collectively decided to declare that drinking more water is good , unconsciously attempting to lower the salt quantity in our bodies (by adding more water and diluting it) rather than dealing with the true problem in food and salt quality. But I digresss…

Personally, I do not find drinking water satisfying except in small amounts at key times, and yet to cleanse and detox with the Toxin Absorber packets, you’ll need more liquid moving through you. I need satisfying alternatives to water. For me, this is mainly tea; thankfully, in the realm of tea, there are so many choices. I’ve been experimenting with various flavors, quality levels and types of tea. Explore. Also, drinks such as unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, honey and water are nice, or the Numi savory teas, or barley water can be good. I’ll be doubling up on my homebrew kombucha before my cleanse so that I have something tasty to drink. Ginger and/or tumeric rhizomes, chopped up and placed in really hot (not quite boiling) water with good quality honey can be a nice drink too. Options abound.

And while this may seem sacrilege to purists, alcohol is liquid. Have a good quality beer, a really nice glass of wine or cocktail made with top shelf liquor. In other words, enjoy your liquids. The fast, the pills, the TA packets are enough of a challenge; there’s no need to suffer.

The hunger will pass.

There are times when you will be hungry. No doubt. The Blessed Herbs Toxin Absorber can provide a surprising sense of fullness.  There may be times when you feel lethargic and spacey; other times when you have such a surprising amount of energy (because your body isn’t expending so much energy to digest food).

Cheat with coconut oil.

For this upcoming fast, I’m going to “cheat” with coconut oil. Most any other fast — even ones that allow eating during the fast and cleanse — will have admonitions about avoiding processed food, animal protein and fat. But we need fat for vitamin absorption, to feel satisfied and yada yada. I’m not a SME here. Google it. Coconut oil is king among fats. Or at least royalty. I’ve recently discovered that a teaspoon of coconut oil added to hot tea is quite enjoyable, especially a fruity-tasting tea. I steep the tea, then add the coconut oil; wait for the temp to drop just a bit and then drink it. I will definitely be having this drink a lot on my next cleanse and fast. Plus coconut oil helps with expelling parasites … which some people have. It happens.

Cheat with chia seeds.

Super small, known for suppressing appetite, providers of great energy and chockfull of nutrients, these little seeds help with so much, including hydration, and are a most-excellent cheat. When I did a 10-day fast and incorporate daily consumption of chia seeds, I had no hunger. It was amazing!

Open to whatever needs to be cleansed.

With every cleanse I’ve done, something else has been going on. Sometimes I’ve gone through my wardrobe and reviewed what I wanted to keep or pass on to a thrift store; other times I’ve gone through years of old paper and/or computer files; one time I helped a friend thoroughly clean the scrub growth encroaching into her yard and we cleaned and prepped her yard for spring. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it does matter, imo, that you’re aware that the physical cleanse and detox is the anchor, but your whole life — or a part of it — may also need a cleanse and detox. Be open to it. And fear not the sudden wave of saddness or some deep emotion that appears “out of nowhere.”

Make it a meal.

There will come a time when you’re facing your fourth Toxin Absorber packet  of the day is just not a pleasant thought. So make “a meal” of it. First, when possible, try to take your packets and pills with another person. Celebrate that you’re doing a cleanse. Acknowledge what you’re up to. When cleansing and detoxing, I often pull out of the back corners of cupboards any abandoned or forgotten bottles of tinctures, vitamins or supplements. I keep them on the kitchen counter and make a bit of ceremony and effect out of the process. If I’m already swallowing one pill (the Digestive Stimulant) why not also swallow a handful more of pills, use up the bottles around my house and get some more nutrients and curative elements in me?

Do your best and don’t fret the rest.

The fast, cleanse and detox outlined by Blessed Herbs is an “optimal” plan. Do your best. Enjoy the ride. Have the experience. And enjoy the benefits.

My shopping list for a cleanse

  • Blessed Herbs cleanse products (Digestive Stimulant and Toxin Absorber)
  • Somewhat healthy juices, various flavors
  • Teas (good quality)
  • Good quality broth (or ingredients to make your own broth)
  • Coconut oil (Kelapo is my favorite)
  • Miso soup – bonito flakes, miso and kombu
  • Chia seed
Optional Liver Cleanse.

There is an amazing liver-cleanse drink — garlic+olive oil+lemon/citrus+sweet juice drink+ginger liver-cleanse — that you may find is a tasty and satisfying (it helps with hunger, too). Each day the amount of garlic and olive oil increases one notch, starting with one clove of garlic and one tablespoon of olive oil; day two, same drink but two cloves of garlic and two tablespoons of olive oil. Here’s how I make it —

  • Peel a clove of garlic.
  • Peel a 1/2 inch of ginger.
  • Juice (not puree or blend) a lemon and lime (seeds removed, rinds included, trust me).
  • Juice several apples with some grapes (or buy unpasturized apple juice), or juice a couple/few oranges and grapefruits.
  • Place all of these ingredients plus a tablespoon of olive oil in a blender, blend on high until emulsified; drink.

Liver Cleanse Shopping List

  • Garlic
  • Really good quality olive oil
  • Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit (for the optional add-on liver cleanse)
  • Ginger
  • Apples and grapes, or unpasteruized apple cider, or lots of oranges and/or grapefruits

This whole text is yet to be proofread.

Dennis.

29 Jan

I wrote this post the day after Dennis Lane’s death. I didn’t publish it then, posting something shorter instead. His birthday is today, and his life is one I will always celebrate and cherish.

***

Dennis.

I first met Dennis in 1991. It was then that I’d started my first business, Do The Write Thing, and I had not a clue of how to get clients other than by advertising. But I’d heard of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and someone suggested I attend some of their networking meetings, so I went. I was scared, intimidated, clueless how to show up for the events and — at the time — significantly younger than easily 90% of the Chamber event attendees.

Dennis Lane, Blogger, Commercial Real Estate Agent

Dennis Lane

But there I met Dennis, and there I met a jovial, welcoming, kind and warm gentleman who always made me feel welcome and included. And as it was, I went to many such events in those early years, saw Dennis once or twice a month and developed a friendship that included some more in-depth conversations  over drinks at — yeah, you guessed it — Clyde’s.

Our lives continued to cross paths — at the Columbia Business Exchange, being involved in the then-called Columbia Business Monthly newspaper and running into each other at community event after community event. While I have my own version of bubbly-ness and extroversion, I often need to first get grounded to a place and event before I can connect with others. Dennis has for many years and many events been one of my grounding points, making me feel welcome and included.

Over the years, I’d see him at coffee shops with a frequency higher than “just random” and we’d often catch up for a few minutes while standing in line together. I’d see him when I was out and about running errands, and we’d stop and talk for a while. Sometimes we’d go out for an impromptu drink after finding each other at an event. Whatever the case and whatever the place, he always seemed to have time for a conversation.

When I came back to my hometown, Columbia, after being out of the country for a while, there was this relatively new thing called blogging. I was quietly experimenting on my own and I started to find some local bloggers. One day, I commented on a post by Wordbones (who at that time had not revealed his identity as a blogger, but I was 99% sure it was  Dennis). My comment was a snarky one, and I posted anonymously.

I emailed him shortly after to say I was back in town and to see if we could get together for lunch. He asked me then, “Hey, did you comment on my blog about (xyz)?” “Yes,” I told him. To which he responded, “I thought that was you! It sounded like you.” And at that exact moment in time, I made a decision. A big one. I decided that I would never post anonymously and that I would take a stand for people owning their own perspectives online, in particular and with passion, when commenting on blogs in a local community.

Ian, Me, Dennis and Bill at a Columbia Foundation party several years back.

Ian, Me, Dennis and Bill at a Columbia Foundation party several years back.

When I decided to create HoCoBlogs.com with Robin Abello, back in 2007, Dennis’s blog, Tales of Two Cities, was one of the most regularly updated, locally focused blogs around. Ian Kennedy’s HayDuke was the other, and there were smatterings of other bloggers, though Dennis held then and continued to hold the spot as the most long-term, consistent local blogger. I couldn’t have — and wouldn’t have — started HoCoBlogs without Dennis as an anchor blogger. We started with about a dozen or so bloggers. Today HoCoBlogs has over 350 Howard County bloggers in its database. Not all active each day or even each month, but all local. And much of what has happened with HoCoBlogs is because Dennis was part of the DNA and seminal energy of our local blogging community forming. He provided, with his writing, his perspective and his personality, a center of gravity.

A short while later, the small posse of bloggers had gotten into a fight of sorts. A he-said, she-said fight where He and She were Democrats and Republicans. It got nasty. So nasty that the bloggers took their conversations off the public blogs’ and into private emails with the intent, I presume, that no one else would see the mud slinging that was going on. After a week or so of this, Dennis said in a stentorian voice, “Enough! We are a community. We’re neighbors. We know each other. It’s time we get together and have a drink together. I’m buying the first round!”

To which, I piped in and said, “And I’m happy to organize it,” and, thus, the HoCoBlogs parties wer born. (We called them blogtail parties at the time._ Nine of us came to the first such gathering and — yes, you guessed it — we met at Clyde’s. Nine became 12. Twelve became 15. Fifteen got stagnant for a while. And one day, after a dreadfully boring party where we all sort of stared at each other in too small of a space for way too long, the parties almost ended. But the blogging community was growing, with Dennis and Tales of Two Cities as a steady — the steadiest — voice in our community. And the parties found their groove and grew.

dennis lane at the library

I found this photo on Dennis’s Facebook page and I love it! Here’s Dennis popping his head in for a photo opp (photo bomb?) at the library’s Choose Civility Symposium

One of the more simple yet of-impact statements Dennis said to me a few years back was this: “I want to make sure that writers get paid.” I remember how deeply this sunk into me when he said it, and it motivated me. I think Dennis always dreamed of a life where he could write professionally, perhaps not full time, but enough so that he could earn a living and provide for his family. He had his profession, his connections, his career and his industry; but if I had to guess, I’d say he’d trade all that in a sec if he could have made his living writing.

We — individuals and the community — benefited from his dream because he did love to write, and he loved his community. As others have quoted in their memories of Dennis, his blog profile says, “I live here. I work here. I love this place.” In some ways, Dennis didn’t compromise. He didn’t give up his dream of writing because he couldn’t earn a living at it. He did it anyway. And he wrote a newspaper column. And he did a biweekly podcast. He found his way to be in the world as a business man, community member, board member, friend, advisor, colleague … and he found his voice and a way to express himself while being deeply integrated in the institutions and organizations of our community. He spoke his mind without being mean, and when he didn’t like someone, he was clear about it … and such people made me pause if they didn’t pass the Dennis-o-meter of Good People-ness.

When it was time to vote, I read his blog posts, his perspectives and his thoughts, trusting his voice more than I did the local newspaper recommendations. Day in and day out, I read his posts. I came to know him even more, in the way that many people who read his blog did… we followed the community through his eyes and felt the ups and downs of his own life.

And then, yesterday, Friday, May 10th, he died. That’s what I heard first, that Dennis was dead. (Sad!) Then in the tweets and Facebook updates and news updates, I heard he had been killed. (Shock!) Then I read a tweet that used the M word, “murder.” (Tragedy!) I’m not going to process my feelings here in this blog because I don’t even know what to say.

I can tell you my experience though. There was a gathering. A spontaneous gathering of others in shock. Yes — you guessed it — they went to Clyde’s. Out of town for the earlier part of the day, when I walked in, I was greeted by an open half circle of people facing the door. On each person’s face and in their hearts was the shock, the sadness, the grief. Usually at bars, groups of people face in to each other. They put their backs to the outside and form an enclosing. With this gathering, it was more like a basket, an opening, a welcoming into the circle of people united in their love of community and their love for one of our greatest citizens. In this group, I felt welcomed and included.

And time after time, story after story, I heard the same common denominator, the same thread. People who didn’t even know they registered on Dennis’s awareness beyond a hello were often surprised to discover that he knew of their dreams, read their blogs, knew if they had or hadn’t been blogging lately. They told tales of his encouragement and how he motivated them to start blogging, or to pick it up again. And in these stories there was a note that rang true: to a person, each of them felt from Dennis welcomed and included.

There’s a happy hour in celebration of Dennis’s life tonight. Clyde’s, 5 p.m. I’m sure that when you show up there, you’ll be both welcomed and included.

#HoCoBlogs

Dennis Birthday Photo plus happy hour

Now, with 50% fewer blog posts

21 Jan

It’s been a long time coming: this purge of posts. I’ve cleaned, sorted, reorganized, tweaked and deleted posts before, but this purge was significant. I deleted over 200 posts. And I know I’ve deleted that many and more over the years. What was my filter for the mass purge? Just like going through one’s closet to see what clothes to keep, I had to ask myself what still “fit.” Did it still represent me? Had it been around too long?

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 7.19.42 PMOne filter was de-localizing my blog. I started out as a local blogger in Howard County with many a post about this event, or that org; this community issue or that community-related observation. Most of those are gone. Many of them deleted years prior when I decided to be a personal blogger rather than a community blogger. Now, my local focus occurs mostly over on HoCoBlogs’ blog, and I have much more freedom to get hyper-local and specific there.

Then there is the once cutting-edge-now-almost-silly swath of posts on social tools. One of my posts was “Facebook is heating up” and it was written in mid-2007 with the intent of encouraging people of a certain age, businesses and local government to get involved in Facebook. In the post I made the claim that Facebook wasn’t just for kids and that was, instead, a powerful tool for community engagement for companies, organizations and governments. To which you may be saying, “Yeah, of course. Everyone saw that coming.” But not in 2007. And so, easily, a hundred or so posts in that category are gone. They weren’t wrong, but they seem rather antiquated now.

Then there are the rants. I left many of them in, these rants of mine, as blog posts, by nature, are often rants. I also deleted quite a few. I observed what I observed, felt what I felt, said what I said, and now it’s done.

I’ve appreciated blogging these many years, particularly as an unlike-any-other way to express my feelings, my thinking, my observations and my vision. And in this expression, to have it organized, collected, shared and available for others to see … and for me to review over time. It’s quite something that someone who doesn’t blog can’t quite grasp, I imagine.

I’m glad for the change, the cleanse, the purifying. It’s been a long time coming.

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