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Quick, take your motion sickness medicine!

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I have to thank Sam Mallikarjunan (@Mallikarjunan) who just tipped the Twitterverse off to something that can only be described as wicked cool.

Type “do a barrel roll” into Google.

Enjoy.

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Categories: Just plain fun, Living

New Year resolutions; but first, some Old Year hindsight

December 29, 2010 2 comments

Yup, it’s that time of year.… the  last dull dredges of 2010, when we spin fantastical plans for the still-untouched 2011. I’ve got my own goals – some fantastic, some realistic, some dull and some energizing. But before I dive in headfirst, I’d like to apply some 20/20 hindsight to 2010 and share six things I learned this year.

  • How to make gravy. Real Thanksgiving-turkey-fat-gravy, under the tutelage of an endless source of wisdom. No, not Google. I mean Mom. She taught me that there is a lot of stirring and even more guesswork. Also, do not manhandle the flour.
  • Expensive sunglasses have both an independent streak and a short attention span. They will wander off at will towards greener pastures – usually eight to ten days after their purchase date. This year, I learned to buy two pairs of cheap-o sunglasses instead (two, just in case one breaks). They have both remained in mint condition for many months with no hint of a runaway in the makings. (Much like cheap ballpoint pens never run out of ink or get lost – even reproducing at times, somehow, as my smallish pen holder can attest to – while slightly-more-expensive gel pens disappear overnight.)
  • Pilates. I started taking classes and, once I had the hang of it, really enjoyed it. It was relaxing, fun, improved my flexibility, and enhanced my posture impressively. (Not to mention it forced me out of the office by 6:45 on Tuesdays.)
  • Pilates. It is not saving any money if you stop taking classes and buy all the equipment so you can do it at home… and then never ever do it at home. Lesson learned: pony up the moolah, make the time, and go to the darn class. (But if you do man up and do it at home, check out the Youtube videos from blogilates. They are great and ten minutes a pop, so you can mix and match yourself up a workout.)
  • Do not let him touch that car. The guy who stops on the side of the road to help you when your car dies does not know how to fix it, despite being handsome and charming. Do not let him touch it. He will make it worse and also lose a cap to an important valve of some kind so that gasoline sprays out if you so much as look at it. Your mechanic will be disappointed in you.
  • It is time to take the “Ron Paul for President 2008” bumper sticker off of your car. In 2008, it’s a statement, buys your guy some free publicity, and is conducive to getting honked at on the freeway. In 2009, it shows your dedication to the cause no matter how doomed. In 2010, it is no longer topical and your bumper space is better dedicated to a more current cause. In 2011, it is laziness and there’s no excuse for leaving it on there. (Unless you are planning on giving your car to your politically-opposite-minded little brother. In that case, belt out a HA!)

What did you learn this year?

Reflections: Vacay the stay way or the X-ray way?

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Now is the time of year when the concept of “holiday vacation” begins to surface in our cultural consciousness. The rising bubble of  joy is tempered by the certainty of long lines at airport security checkpoints, and an awkward patdown if you don’t wish to pose body-scanner nude for TSA agents to enjoy in a private room.

This post is not about the body scanner, personal privacy, or getting anybody’s “junk” touched. And definitely not a statement on the TSA – hey, they do a difficult, dangerous, thankless job trying to protect us. Misguidedly so on occasion, perhaps, but let’s not judge too harshly (with the one exception of when it gives you the makings of a really good joke.)

Nope, in this post I’m shilling for a stay-cation this year.

Right about this time last year, I was in full-fledged panic mode getting plans (and wardrobe, for this native Floridian) in place for an 8-day long excursion to visit a dear friend in Switzerland. Ah, the stress… soon to be replaced by elation, jetlag, snow, and more elation. 8 days of glory; then all the glee was replaced by exhaustion, jetlag, stress, and more exhaustion.

Even thinking about a similar vacation this year makes me want to hide underneath my desk. And that’s more or less what I plan to do until January. Get some spring cleaning done, household projects I’ve been putting off, reading books that have gathered dust, sleep, eat, and sleep. And I can’t wait.

But lo and behold, what do I find as I dig through last year’s unfinished/unpublished blog posts? Apparently that Swiss trek was an awesome vacation. In the post I wrote when I returned (and never posted), I’m glowing with vigor and bragging about having detached from the grid, reveling in sleeping to an absurd and humiliating degree,  and slurping down Swiss fondue like cheese was going out of style. Reading this brings back all of the wonderful memories of one of the best trips I’ve ever taken – and reminds me that there are compelling reasons for waiting in line for a quick groping before I board my flight and fold my legs six ways to fit into my seat. I’m posting it here for nostalgia and as a salute to my dear friend who made every minute worth it.

January 4, 2010

Just returned from a pretty epic adventure in Switzerland over Christmas and New Year’s. Coming straight from Miami, it was like being in a strange new land. Which was even stranger given that I was (almost) completely off the grid and off my usual schedule.
– Email checked: Once.
– Tweets: 0
– Facebook: Nein.
– Work: Und nein.
– Photos: hundreds.
– Sleep: A year’s worth.
– Sick: only two days at the end.
– Fondue: Check.
– Skiiing: No thank you.
– Trains, backgammon, and wine: More than I expected.
– Alps: Yes, and cold. Really, really cold. I have to give a shoutout to my friend Denise Jacobs here, who, having once resided in Seattle and being even taller than me, was able to lend me a wardrobe of warm, properly-scaled-for-a-six-foot-woman clothing. Thank goodness for the sheepskin coat.
– News watched: (eek) Once. Just long enough to learn about several terrorism attempts on Europe-US flights and almost long enough to realize that flying home was slated to be a nightmare.

Not too bad, actually, even though I went through four – count them, four – security checks at the Zurich airport.

Compared to the cattle handlers at JFK, the Swiss are really good at moving people along politely and kindly. Plus, I got to watch a baggage handler do a pretty impressive moonwalk and a boarding-stairs-driver (?) do donuts on the tarmac. One only lives once.

Yes, one only lives once, and moments like that are once in a lifetime when you don’t have your camera handy.  So do what you got to do this holiday to get where you want to go – whether it’s fly cross-Atlantic to be with friends, drive across the state to be with family, or walk slowly and lethargically from bed to couch to be with your cat. I think you already know what my route looks like. Happy vacation to all, no matter what form it takes!

State secrets revealed #3: Rosemary Garlic Chicken

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s another quick, easy recipe from the original JKW cookbook. It’s a savory but light chicken dish that goes well with fresh vegetables or wild rice. Most of the materials you may have already on hand; the others are easily available. The whole operation will take you half an hour tops.

 

ROSEMARY GARLIC CHICKEN

You’ll need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • a bit of white wine
  • fresh rosemary – chopped, leaving a few whole sprigs for garnish
  • garlic – thinly sliced
  • butter
  • dijon mustard
  • salt, fresh-ground pepper, and olive oil

Saute the chicken at medium-high heat in a bit of olive oil for two minutes each side, or until golden. Turn the heat down to medium and let it cook a few minutes longer – 4 to 5 minutes each side, until it’s cooked through (this depends on the thickness of the chicken breast). During this time, you can add the garlic slices, but be careful not to burn them – splash in a little white wine every now and then to keep the garlic and chicken moist.

When the chicken’s finished, remove it from the pan and leave the pan and whatever oil’s left on the stove. Toss in the rosemary and a healthy glug-glug of white wine. Cover the pan, turn it on high heat, and let it nuke until most of the alcohol has burned off and the sauce begins to thicken. Then, remove it from heat, and pop in a tab of butter and a spoonful of dijon, whisking until the butter is melted, the dijon is mixed in, and the sauce is syrupy. Add your salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over the chicken, dress it up with a few sprigs of rosemary, and serve!

In the unlikely event you have leftovers, you can slice up the chicken and make a delicious sandwich on French bread.

Enjoy!

Categories: Food, Living, Uncategorized

“Edit-bots?” The PR Game Has Changed

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

This post originally appeared on “May the Schwartz Be With You,” the official blog of Schwartz Media Strategies, on December 3rd, 2009.

by Julia Wakefield

Connect to Julia on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

The public relations business and the strategies we use to achieve success are changing rapidly in an age of constantly-evolving technology.  In yet another example of how the game is changing, PaidContent.org (a news site covering the “economics of content”) reports that AOL is replacing its news editors with robots.

That is,

“rather than just rely on editors and journalists deciding on what kinds of stories to run, AOL will employ a system that relies on a series of algorithms that will predict the kinds of stories, videos and photos that have the greatest appeal to audiences and advertisers.”

Further, AOL is developing a site called Seed.com to coordinate article assignments for the 3,000 freelancers it employs.

“The new system will also help determine how much freelancers get paid, as it predicts how much marketers might pay to advertise on a particular article.”

The edit-bots will also screen for grammar and spelling mistakes – even plagiarism.

What does this bode for public relations professionals like us here at Schwartz Media?

Read more…