She’s Not a Baby Anymore

I haven’t had a good Lexi blog in a while. So here we go…

Lately I’m amazed at the sudden developmental growth my daughter is going through. A couple Sundays back she started wandering around church after the service like she’d never done before. She no longer needed to have mom and dad in sight at all times and she was perfectly happy saying hi to total strangers. It was the strange moment where she suddenly had confidence in her walking ability and in whatever it is that makes kids not need their parents for every waking moment and it suddenly clicked.

We stayed later than usual just watching her wander.

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Multi-Faceted Promotion

I’ve gotten a little over-zealous promoting the Cat in the Hat free book giveaway. But can you blame me? It’s so easy. Send a free online card and a kid who needs a book gets one. That’s worth getting excited about. And tomorrow’s deadline gives it some urgency.

Not only did I plug it here, but I spread the word through Personality™, sending out a MySpace bulletin and adding a feature on First Book. Then I realized that reading skills can help you escape poverty, which meant a nice tie-in to the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07, an event I’m helping to promote. The event is championing three causes, one of which is fighting poverty. So such a simple way to fight poverty only made sense.

Now I just have to find a way to connect it to church marketing and I’m 4 for 4. Nothing’s coming to me yet, but it’s early.

Send a Card, Give a Book: Last Chance

I mentioned before how Random House is giving books away in honor of the Cat in the Hat’s 50th birthday. At the time they were giving away 1 million books, one for every birthday card they received. Well, with more than 1.4 million cards so far, they’ve upped their commitment to 2 million books. So you can still make a difference, but you’ve only got until May 1 (tomorrow).

All you have to do is send a free card online and Random House will donate a book to First Book, a non-profit that gives children in low income families a chance to own their first book.

How to Write for the Web

A client asked me if I had any tips for writing online, and I salivated at the prospect. I’m just full of brilliant ideas. So I dove into my meticulously organized file of links and articles to find a collection of sources worthy of a college syllabus. Unfortunately I didn’t find much. Either there hasn’t been much written or I’m not as meticulous as people think I am.

So I figured I’d better write it myself. This isn’t anything new, simply tips and ideas I’ve picked up over the years. And much of it should be obvious–this isn’t rocket science. Unfortunately, it’s also not always followed (especially on this blog).

The key to writing for the web is readability. Anything you can do to increase readability is huge. That’s basically true for any type of writing, though certain elements become more important for the web.

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Nostalgia, Shelley & Cancer

5th Grade TripI came across a blast from my past yesterday, this lovely photo from a fifth grade class trip. My dorkiness doesn’t so much surprise me. I’m used to that. But it’s the collective dorkiness that’s impressive. At least in hindsight.

While stumbling across the picture, I also came across a story from an old friend. I’ve talked about Shelley before (though reading it now it seems a bit stalkerish–sorry Shelley), but that was before I reconnected with her. She tells the story on her MySpace blog (I think you need to be her friend to read it) of her struggle with cancer. It’s riviting. Nobody my age is supposed to be fighting for their life against cancer. But I guess they are. But Shelley kicked cancer’s ass. And honestly, that doesn’t surprise me. She recently participated in a walk to raise money for cancer, hence the recollection of her experience.

Here’s one small excerpt:

On the drive from my apartment to school for the relay, I started to get teary eyed, reflecting on everything that has happened over the past few years. I was headed to an event that honored and celebrated my survivorship, something that I would gladly give up and never wish upon anyone. Sure, my life is so much more fulfilling after having cancer, but it’s horrible to think that I had to suffer so badly before the good fully entered into my life, or at least into my awareness, as I do believe the good was always present.

As I sit here watching my daughter crush Wheaties with her bottle, such a monumental struggle seems so far away. But it’s not. It always amazes me what people go through, if only we take the time to find out.

Marketing Wisdom from Seth Godin

I’ve got a triple whammy of marketing wisdom from marketing guru Seth Godin (who else?).

  1. Meetings: Everybody always whines about how unproductive meetings are. I suppose they can be, but when I worked on teams most of our meetings seemed pretty necessary. But if you’re sick of meetings, Godin offer some fresh tips on how to make your meetings intentional and productive.
  2. Apostrophes: You get nothing when you use them correctly, but you lose big when you mess them up. Making up a word would be losing big.
  3. Recognition: Godin talks about recognizing a band from one second of a song. Same is true with seeing the corner of a magazine or the sound/smell of a coffee shop. He says that recognition is branding and it’s no accident. And that kind of consistency requires an anal person to put their foot down and enforce those brand rules. That’s the kind of thing proofreaders and editors are good at. You might think those grammar Nazis are nuts, but they know a thing or two about consistency.

Fear What’s Different: We’re a Stupid People

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting racism is on my mind. The morning after the shooting NPR had a story about the impact of 9/11 and the unfounded racism anyone who could be mistaken for an Arab experienced. A similar story appeared earlier in the month based on the documentary Divided We Fall, about Sikhs persecuted after 9/11 (an estimated 19 people were killed in the racially charged aftermath of 9/11).

And now that the Virginia Tech shooter has been identified as a Korean, there are fears of backlash against Korean Americans. NPR (can’t find the link) had a story about a Korean student who was afraid to take the bus to school and once at school noticed that everyone was looking at her strangely.

I just don’t understand this type of response. It’s so stupid.

Continue reading Fear What’s Different: We’re a Stupid People

Best Donuts in the Twin Cities: Granny Donuts

Forget Krispy Kreme. The best donuts in the Twin Cities can be found in a tiny little shop called Granny Donuts on Robert Street in West St. Paul (Robert is quickly becoming our “New Snelling” since we moved).

I’m not exactly a donut connoisseur, but I picked up half-a-dozen this morning while on a diaper run (actually seven donuts–half-a-dozen are $3.75 but you can get one more for a quarter), and I’m willing to say they’re the best donuts I’ve had in a long time. I’ve eyed the shop a number of times while driving up and down Robert and today it seemed like a good incentive for the Monkey Outta Nowhere staff.

The place is run by an older Vietnamese couple who opened the place more than 17 years ago (according to the clipping of unknown age next the counter that I quickly scanned before paying–so I may have butchered my facts). And you better bring cash–separate signs on opposite sides of the register warn that they don’t take checks and they don’t take credit or debit cards.

Ask a Ninja About the Future of Entertainment

Kent Nichols of shares his take on how to succeed in the future of entertainment in another Pop!Tech video. (This one’s about 24 minutes–kind of annoys me that tech-savvy folks didn’t think it important to tell you how long the videos are. And while I’m whining, where are the permalinks?)

It’s a crazy world we live in when someone can wrap a piece of fabric around their head and make a living. It’s obviously more than that (which is why you and I aren’t creating our own explosively successful viral video series), but it always makes me wonder. What would it take to be the next Ninja, ZeFrank or Homestar Runner? Sometimes I think I should start a club and set out to do just that. (link via