Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bard's Eye View

Oh, if only more teachers took this approach to Shakespeare there might be a few more who would appreciate the turn of a phrase as much as a turn of an ankle.

Yes, I confess to being a nut about Shakespeare. See that beard! Bet you did not know that I grew it (in my younger days) to trod the boards as Lord Northumberland. I did. I grew it to hid my youthful chin. To look the old and distinguished gentlemen that the Lord was supposed to be. The beard came slowly during the fall and winter of senior year at Assumption College, the performance was in the spring. I did not have a heavy beard so I took the time to make sure it was worthy. It came off (at my mother's wish) for graduation in May of 1976 and has been back ever since. My wife and daughters, indeed amongst many people who know me, have never seen me without it except for pictures of the "before time".

But anyway, I spent part of this afternoon with Shakespeare in Love, one of my favorite movies. I had just received the DVD for my recent birthday. Carolyn was out working when we viewed it so she decided to see it this afternoon, and hey, this is what vacations are for! I had some things to finish up but inspired to complete them early, I did join her for the later part of it.

Still in a far off Elizabethan world, I came to Bloglines to find Jeremy's newest posting: Benvolio Deciphered. If you have seen the movie, you may recall that it is a play within a play set of course within Romeo and Juliet. The part here with Benvolio is not covered but still....

Oh, tis true, the stars are aligned!

But alas, someone calls.
I come anon.

Whilst I go, read bardseyeview!

Vacation Time

I am enjoying the time off this week. Mixed in with family, errands, and chores I get to read and blog. It is a wonderful thing.

It seems like many take their vacation time away from blogging. My Bloglines feeds are not filling up as fast as they normally would. To each their own.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Monogram pancakes

This started as a comment on Patti's recent posting. I decided to fix it up here.

Patti, I have this vision that you must spend time crafting this weekly piece. Time akin to preparing the pancakes.
  • Monday - to the store for the ingredients (or maybe the inspiration just pops up).
  • Tuesday - put the dry mix together and sift well.
  • Wednesday - for the fresh eggs and milk.
  • Thursday - the skillet is greased and warmed on the stove.
  • Friday - the dry and wet ingredients fold together and set for just a bit.
  • Saturday - the skillet is ready, the batter is spooned out into wonderful shapes and served up.
No additional sweetener is required. The chocolate chips inside just starting to melt is sufficient sweetness.

I, probably not alone amongst your readers, come here for a fulfilling breakfast and leave quite satisfied, yet anxious about having to wait another week for more pancakes.

Keep'em coming!

PS - I found Patti Digh writing at 37 Days back in June and posted about it on the Hitchhiker's Guide. Since then I have quoted from her a number of times. If you have not added 37Days to your RSS reader or blogroll, you are missing out.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Twas the blog before Christmas

'Twas the blog before Christmas, when all through the house
No blogger was stirring, no hand moved the mouse.
The postings were stacked by the tag cloud with care,
In hopes that more readers soon would be there;

The users were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of updates danced in their heads;
And me with my podcast, downloaded like that,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out from my laptop there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the portal I flew like a flash,
Tore open the reader and refreshed the cache.

The enclosure attached soon gave me to know
That new entries were here, more news I should know.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a raft of new updates, eight headlines so clear,

With a quick Wiki update, who could it be?
Our investor, of course, a leading VC.
More rapid than eagles his portfolio came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Blogspot! Now Feedster! now, Movable Type!
On, FeedBurner, FeedBlitz! (On Marketing Hype!)
To the top of the feed! To the top of them all!
Now blog away! blog away! blog away all!"

As valuations that before the wild bubble do fly,
When they meet with a fund, mount up to the sky,
So up to the top of the investments they flew,
With RSS data, and named it Web 2.

And then, with a twinkling, I read in my news
Each notable posting, contrary views.
As I drew back my hand, and was turning around,
Down to my trackback he came with a bound.

His comments were brief, what was ado?
Were adwords OK? Did users click through?
A bundle of mashups he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

Our AJAX - how it twinkled! Our tagging - how merry!
We socially networked to his brand new BlackBerry!
Our RSS valid, we were well syndicated,
We subscribed to the feeds that we loved (and we hated);

The stump of our web site held tight in our teeth,
The hyperbole encircled his head like a wreath;
We tagged Technorati, we blogged with the best,
On Feedster we surged and made the A-list.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And marked us on Frappr, and Flickr he searched.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
Updated his blog, up our OPML rose;

He sprang to his feed, gave his investments a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,


With best wishes from FeedBlitz to everyone this holiday season!

(c) www.feedblitz.com 2005
Full reproduction permitted only with full attribution and links intact.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

DAILY Life Booster Blog!

This is good stuff.
I like the fresh approach.
It has email.
It does not have an RSS feed.

What's going on here?

I sent an email on Nov 17th and did not get a reply. I sent another one today and now am writing this. We'll see what happens.

In any case, this is good stuff. Check it out!

Updated 12/22/05 6:00PM
Exchanging email with Karen on this. She does have a couple of RSS feeds.

You can try either

Both work!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Robert Sabuda

Have you seen a Robert Sabuda book? They are absolutely marvelous. Each is a work of art and wonder.

Open the cover, turn the page, a fantastic world unfolds before you.

Dolores uses them with her kindergarten class. They learn very quickly to respect the book. It is a delicate thing to hold but they do very well with them. To see their eyes light up as the page unfolds before them is a wonder unto its own.

If you are looking for a last minute gift for someone to treasure, you can't go wrong with one of Robert's books.

His most recent is appropriately, Winter's Tale.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Starting to feel like Christmas...

Yes, it is starting to feel like Christmas here at the Sherlock household...

Of course, we hung the wreath earlier.

Brought Allie home from college on Wednesday.

Bought the tree today. Mounted it in the stand and left it on the porch for the girls to decorate tomorrow.

I put the lights in the windows. I don't go much for some of the other decorations that the houses can have. I really like the simple single candle light in the window.

Now need to finish the buying and the wrapping and then the food shopping for the family gatherings coming up... All in good time...

HowBlog - Continued

If you have not caught up with the postings at Sandhill Trek, I do highly recommend that you check out the various points of view (and not just because he quotes me from blogSynergy and links to my own writing here).

Hō‘ike‘ike: Managing and Leading in 2005

Rosa Say has put together 28 contributions from the blogging community on "Managing and Leading in 2005".

Reading one a day to fully digest the thoughts presented would take you into the New Year of 2006.

Peruse them. Devour them.

Go for two or three a day.

Be patient. Enjoy the reflections.

PS - you will find one entry from me amongst this august company.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Quick updates

It is frigid here. 4 degrees this morning on the back porch and should be like this again tomorrow morning. Brrr!

About noon today picked up an email at work from someone who had a question on a process and how a particular situation should be handled. I answered the question and as I re-read the email before replying, noticed one of the names of the people in the story was someone I thought I knew. I looked her up in the directory, gave her a call and sure enough, it was the same one who had hired me into the company. She had left shortly after I started to take care of her young children and do work consulting. The kids are in school now so she is back full time. Small world!

Picked up Allison at Assumption to bring her home for the holidays. As she is taking a bunch of art classes, we have art work to bring home. One of which almost didn't fit inside the van. It would have had a cold ride on the roof!

When we got home, we found that Carolyn had gotten some good news. Her first college acceptance letter arrived from St Michael's. There are still a few more to hear from before she decides where she'll end up (of course, the financial part is an important factor) but it is good to get the first one. Congratulations, Carolyn! It doesn't feel so cold anymore.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Plum Choice at Circuit City

Via InformationWeek:

Circuit City Offers Remote PC Support
The retailer uses desktop-sharing software to provide support for home offices and small business.

Circuit City is using Plum Choice to provide this service. They started in 2001 and are based in Bedford, MA.

Somehow they have flown along and escaped my radar. I will keep it in mind the next time my daughter has a problem with her system at college.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow today (update 2)

Ah, this is New England, no such luck in dodging the bullet as seemed to be the case at one point today. We did have a brief respite, then it came back with a furious finish complete with thunder and lightning. Yes, not often you get that with a snow storm but there were at least three bursts inside an hour.

And then the sky started clearing:

Time for me to shovel.

But that is all done now. I am warm and ready for dinner.


Snow today (updated)

Yes, it's here and already looking like it's slowing down or stopping so we may end up with less than the 10 inches forecasted.

Similar to the view at Thanksgiving, the chairs have been covered witha tarp to help protect them for the winter and the grill is wearing it's snow cap!

Snow today

I chose to work from home today. The snow has just started and is forecasted to deliver about 8-10 inches here before it tapers off later today. They have called off school in Franklin so the lucky teachers (yes, Dolores) and students (yes, Carolyn) get to linger in bed for a bit before doing what they feel like on a "free" day. Rather than park at the train station, take the train to the office, and then have to shovel out later, I'll work from the home base. No meetings scheduled that I can't do via the phone.

But while I work, Dolores and Carolyn have a free day. The discussion at supper last night was that Carolyn and her friends were getting together for some fun in the snow, as it is the first real big storm this season. Good for them. They are seniors this year and will be heading out into the real world of college and work sometime soon. Enjoy this age/time while they can.

If I had a free day; other than shoveling, and playing in the snow myself, I'd probably spend some extra time reading or blogging.

What would you do on a "free" day?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Red Cross Fund Raiser - Build a Calendar

I am reprinting an email I received from a good friend who has a fund raising effort for a good cause that you might be interested in participating in. If you would like to contact Doug directly, let me know and I'll send you his email address.

In the spirit of the upcoming Holiday Season and the New Year, the Danville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has elected to initiate a calendar fundraising program called "Vintage Red Cross Calendar Builder System". The Vintage Red Cross Calendar Builder is a fundraising process that allows a supporter to build his/her own completely personalized calendar on an interactive website. Images may be selected from a library of vintage Red Cross posters and photographs, a specific starting month may be picked, and particular dates may be added to each calendar. You can even enter special dates to be printed, like birthdays and anniversaries. The calendar is very professionally printed and bound, and mailed in less than 10 days. This system costs nothing to the Chapter to use and 50% of the calendar purchase price of $29.00 is provided to the Chapter to help reach fundraising goals that support disaster relief, blood services, and health and safety programs.

The website has been set up to be a fully interactive site just for the Danville Area Chapter. It enables supporters to build their personalized/customized calendars, sign up for our mailing list, or make an online donation directly to the Chapter. We're all familiar with the traditional calendar fundraising appeal and it's become somewhat stale and tired. Hopefully you will agree that this new and novel approach is fresh and powerful, an approach that gives donors the ability to personalize the calendar they receive as a thank you for their donation.

The Chapter's goal is to sell 100 calendars by December 31, 2005. If that goal is accomplished, the Chapter will raise $1,450. I believe that's quite feasible if you begin the process by each purchasing a calendar yourself and then electronically sharing this e-mail, with the attached link to our Chapter's website, with as many of your friends, extended family members, and acquaintances as possible.

The Danville Vintage Red Cross Calendar Builder System website address = http://Danville.VintageRedCross.org So, play around with it. Build some calendars. Have fun! Seeing the images and getting a calendar of your own is simple.

Just take these four steps:
1. Got to http://Danville.VintageRedCross.org
2. View the images and build your customized calendar.
3. Review your calendar and make sure everything's right.
4. Buy the calendar with your credit card and support the Danville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

And most importantly, share this e-mail with everyone you know. The Chapter has already purchased five calendars and they look extremely "sharp".

Feel free to contact me with any questions. And, thanks in advance for your support of this Red Cross fundraising campaign.


Douglas W. Bastian
Executive Director
Danville Area Chapter
American Red Cross
I did order some calendars and the process is easy to follow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How do I blog?

Good question.

I usually sit with something to say (hence my 2 cents), or I find something that spurs some thought and a reaction (yes, that 2 cents thing again).

So much is out in this wonderful internet world. So many opinions. So many voices. I am exploring my own voice. Sure, I have been talking since early on. I mean in finding ways to express my voice in my writing. Ways that hopefully, others will appreciate. Ways that will help to add my view to the matter in a constructive fashion. I get very easily turned off by the flaming attitudes that arise from some people over the least little thing, nevermind getting into the tough subjects like race, religion and politics. I quickly say to myself, "Take it down a notch, or two, folks." and move on to something else.

I recall Joni Mitchell's live album Miles of Aisles. In one of her song introductions, she talks with the audience who have been calling out suggestions of songs to sing. She says something like: You know that is one of the great differences between arts and the performing arts. No one ever said to Van Gogh, "Hey, paint a Starry Night" again man!".

Blogging is so ephemeral. What we write today rolls over into the archives shortly thereafter. Unless it happens to trigger something with someone and come back in a search result, it might never have been written. I have already written about audience so I leave that aside for now.

How do I blog?
I have only a couple of hours of time with which to do it so I need to be focused. As I started with, I generally come to Blogger with something to say. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, I have my running to write about.

Most days, there is something about a good customer experience to write about. Life after all is an experience. Having been in customer service for many years, especially on the technical end user support side, I usually have plenty of opportunity to share in this area.

Exploring the internet turns up many good blogs with a variety of interests. Some better than others. The better ones, the Hitchhiker Team write about to share with others.

Troy Worman gathered up some like minded folks to discuss synergy so my thoughts on team work and other topics in that area find a home.

Troy also recruited me for the recent 100 Bloggers effort. I'll admit he did not have to try to hard. I jumped in and have posted there a couple of times.

My writing about parenting, growing older, caring for parents who are growing older, caught some eyes and I have been participating in the ThirdAge Blog Carnival.

Every other topic finds a home here at Steve's 2 Cents.

Will I ever be an A lister?
I do not expect to be. The long tail is good enough for me.

I attempt to keep track of the various blogs I discover, read regularly, read occasionally with Bloglines. I did use and like one of the free RSS readers but the RSS feed is prohibited at work so the odd moment I could use at work (during lunch of course!) wasn't very effective that way, hence Bloglines.

I do review Google News at least twice a day. This tends to serve up the major headlines so I can stay current. The Boston Globe, my other daily read, is continuing to shrink so I tend to get less opportunity to find some good things to write about from there.

As for other print subscriptions: Runner's World, Worthwhile, FastCompany, National Geographic are the only paid ones. I get a free copy of InformationWeek, but that gets recycled quickly as I prefer the web version.

Some of my readers have asked if I have time to shower?
Yes, I do, regularly. I really try to focus during the couple of hours I have. I guess if they are asking, then I must be making some progress (if volume is any indication of progress).

Which raises the question on how frequently one should blog?
I like to do it almost daily. But there are a number who do so less frequently. And a number who do it multiple times during the day. So much so, this must be their full time activity. Either that or I should look into their job as an opportunity.

And then there is the quality of writing.
I hope I write quality stuff. I know I only attempt to do so when I can add my 2 cents. So this should be somewhat different from what else is out there. And if the discussion has already touched the major points or taken a turn in another direction, I'll take a pass on commenting. My blogroll contains the folks whom I read daily, many of whom I admin greatly for the quality of their writing. I am an eager learner!

I'll make notes during the course of the work day, or in what book or magazine I am currently working though to serve as an inspiration for when I sit later. But tonight, those notes are still sitting there because I got consumed with this "How I blog?" question.

The time will come tomorrow.

Unless someone says:

"Hey Steve, write 'How I blog' again man!"

Concert Season

Yes, you may have noted that I went to the Sanders Theatre Friday for HRO and Beethoven's 9th. Saturday was Robbie O'Connell and A Celtic Christmas at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse.

This Wednesday, the concerts continue with a performance of the Assumption College Choral. Allison is part of that group.

And Sunday, Carolyn takes the stage in the viola section for the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra for their holiday concert.

I do not know where the girls got their talent from as I can not carry a note. My wife and I do appreciate good music and have apparently succeeded in this area with the girls.

There should be a number of opportunities for local performance in your area.
Look them up.
Check them out.
Go to one.

A live performance is a wonderful thing!

FYI - Checking out the future schedule for Sanders Theatre I find that Natalie MacMaster is coming in February followed the week after by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. These two will stay on the horizon and if things work out, I will attempt to get there for both performances.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two recommendations

From Rosa Say at Talking Story comes this posting on The Wonder of it All.

After he had read our December Ho‘ohana on Faith and Family, Charles Pappas of our Ho‘ohana Community sent me a link to a wonderful presentation called The Wonder of it All. Chuck and I would like to share it with the rest of you on this winter’s Sunday. Froth up an Eggnog Latté and enjoy.

The Wonder of it All.
- this is the presentation link, and
- this is the link to the poem by Ralph S. Marston, Jr.

Mahalo nui loa Chuck.

From Patti Digh at 37 Days comes this posting on Dip your wheels:

I have decided to bike across the continental United States.

I will do this to celebrate my birthday in four years, the one that brings me perilously close to the age at which my father died, the one I never really believed I’d see since he barely did, my 50th. The inspiration behind this goal is a woman I’ve never met – and probably never will.

Jean is a cyber cipher, a member of a storytelling list serve who posted last spring about a trip she was readying to take—58 days of biking across country with women aged 50-72. She celebrated her 62nd birthday on that trip, a journey that began by dipping bike wheels in the Pacific Ocean at San Diego and ended with a dip of those same wheels (aside from the replaced tires along the way) in the Atlantic Ocean at St. Augustine, Florida.

Read the full posting here. Patti posts only once a week, but each week the posting is a gem!

Robbie O'Connell Concert

Caught Robbie O'Connell in concert at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse here in Franklin on Saturday night. One of the many songs he sang in this "Celtic Christmas" show was the following:

Harry O'Donovan

You may talk of your outings, your picnics and parties,
Your dinners and dances and hoolies and all
But wait till I tell you of the gas that we had
On the night that we went to the Charladies' Ball.
I went there as Queen Anne and I went with my man.
He was dressed as a monkey locked up in a cage.
There was pirets and pirots and Hottentots and whatnots
And stars that you'd see on the music hall stage.

At the Charladies' Ball people said one and all,
"You're the belle of the ball, Mrs. Mulligan."
We had one-steps and two-steps and the divil knows what new steps.
We swore that we never would be dull again, by dad.
We had wine, porter and Jameson.
We had cocktails and cocoa and all.
We had champagne that night but we'd real pains next morning,
The night that we danced at the Charladies' Ball.

There was cowboys and Indians that came from Drumcondra,
Sweet Francis Street fairies all diamonds and stars.
There was one of the Rooneys as the clock over Mooney's
And a telegram boy as a message from Mars.
Mary Moore from the Lots was the Queen of the Scots
With a crown out of Woolworth's perched up on her dome.
There was young Jemmy Whitehouse came dressed as a lighthouse
And a Camden Street Garbo that should have stayed home.

Second Chorus:
At the Charladies' Ball people said one and all,
"You're the belle of the ball, Mrs. Mulligan."
We had one-steps and two-steps and the divil knows what new steps.
We swore that we never would be dull again, be dad.
We had wine, porter and Jameson,
We had cocktails and cocoa and all.
We had rumbos and tangos, half-sets and fandangos,
The night that we danced at the Charladies' Ball.

Mary Ellen O'Rourke was the Queen of the Dawn.
By one-thirty she looked like a real dirty night.
Mick Farren, the bester, came dressed as a jester.
He burst his balloon and dropped dead at the fright.
Kevin Barr came as Bovril, "Stops that sinking feeling"
Astride of a bottle, pyjamas and all.
But he bumped into Faust, who was gloriously soused
And the two of them were sunk at the end of the hall.

Third Chorus (same as before but with these last 2 lines):
We'd a real stand-up fight but we fell down to supper
The night that we danced at the Charladies' Ball.

(From "Songs of Dublin," edited by Frank Harte: this song was made famous by Jimmy O'Dea and written by Harry O'Donovan. The song was written for performing on stage, but it has so much that is Dublin in it, that it has been accepted by the tradition.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Wreath 2005

Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Sunny day here in Franklin, MA.

The wreath is now mounted front and center to welcome those who chance to come by the home base.

I have posted this here as well to help welcome those who come by via the internet.

Thank you for visiting!

And special thanks to Connie for the wreath!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In Memoriam - Stan Berenstain - 1923 to 2005

I picked up this story on CNN yesterday and was immediately saddened. My daughters were voracious readers and along the way The Berenstain Bears were a requirement.

Stan Berenstain has passed from this world into that magical place beyond.

The book shelf from which they could choose their nightly reading at one point was comprised almost entirely of Berenstain Bears' books.

The Big Honey Hunt

The Bears Vacation

Moving Day (yes, this came in handy when we moved from NJ to MA)

Go to the Dentist

There were many more. One for every occasion.

Thank you, Stan!

What was your favorite Berenstain Bears book?