Who’s on First

Speaking of apostrophes (well, we were a while ago), here’s another often-flubbed item:

Who’s is a contraction of “Who is”: Who’s going home for Passover? Who’s eating too much?

Do you recall how we remember it’s (the contraction of “it is”)? Same goes for who’s: Think of the apostrophe as a leftover from the dot of the i.

Whose is possessive: Whose life is it anyway? Whose family is certifiably insane?

Who’s with me?

I’m Happy: Hooray!

I love Virgin America Airlines.

I like the perky crew, the satellite TV, the under-seat plugs, the non-Unitedness. But like turned to love today, when I was perusing their music offerings and discovered one of the playlist options is “Best of Schoolhouse Rock.”

They had me at Schoolhouse.

I learned everything I truly needed to know in the 1970s, on Saturday mornings, in 3-minute intervals between cartoons and Sid and Marty Kroft shows.

I am an editor today because of Grammar Rock. I can unpack my adjectives with ease, hook up words and phrases and clauses, and insert an interjection for excitement or emotion on a moment’s notice.

I learned to spell words by singing them. What grade were we in when, during a weekly spelling test, the tapping of little fingers on 30-odd desks was perfectly in sync: “electricity, e-lec-tric-ity”?

I know about the Revolutionary minutemen who were ready on the move, that taxation without representation is not fair, and how a bill becomes a law. And I’ve known these things and more since I was, like, 3. When I was lucky enough to have dinner with the president of the ACLU a few years ago, I was able to sing her the preamble to the US constitution. She was impressed.

Seriously, Schoolhouse Rock had more impact on my life than any other single thing. And now I can brush up on language and history at 30,000 feet. I’m excited: Wow! And glad: Hey!

Kitchen Accidental

I cook twice a year: once for Rosh Hashanah and once for my husband’s birthday party every January. While three sit-down dinners in three days is exhausting, millennia-old recipes and limited attendees make the Jewish New Year manageable. Plus, if I really screw up, I can repent the very next week and, truth be told, my father usually does a fair amount of the cooking and hauls it in from New York or Arizona.

It’s the annual party that gets me. Cooking for 40-something people is doubly overwhelming for me, as I hate to cook. And I’m not very good at it. While I can multitask the life out of nearly anything else on earth, I cannot multitask cooking. I must pay very, very close and exact attention, or all hell breaks loose. I generally start cooking the weekend before the party and cook every day until it’s over. Then I plop on the couch until I feel fully recovered. That can take days.

People often ask if they can help or why in the world I don’t have the party catered. Honestly, it’s a labor of love. Not of cooking, but of Jeff. Other than the city in which we live, pretty much everything else we do is about me; this is the time when I want everything to be about him, so I cook my little brains out. Jeff, bless him, has learned much in 17 years of marriage, and he is quite good at knowing when to stay out of sight and when to come bursting into the kitchen with the first-aid kit.

This year, I have had some particularly fun snafus.

First, I was making my now-famous macaroni and cheese. You start off with what I now know is called a roux (don’t know why). I melted my stick of butter, then added the flour. The recipe calls for three-eighths of a cup of flour. Alas, there is no measuring cup for that (um, why?), so I figured I’d just use three one-eighth cups. Alas, again: Eights look a lot like threes. I used three one-third cups of flour. Instead of a roux, I accidentally made dough. Who knew that’s how you make dough? So I smushed it in a pan, baked it and realized it tasted like crust. I ate it with creamed honey. Delicious.

Later, as I was stirring polenta, I dislocated my whisk. Jeff came running. My whisk, not my wrist, I explained.

Then there was the makeshift standing mixer I made by balancing an electric hand-mixer in a batter bowl. Brilliant, until it launched itself and the bowl full of dressing off the counter and splatted all over the kitchen and me.

Which reminds me of a Weight Watchers meeting: Everyone was sharing recipes, and I lamented that none of it was helpful to me since I don’t cook at all. A woman sitting next to me said, “I don’t understand how you can like to eat so much and not cook.” I looked at her with pity, as I try to do with idiots, and responded, “I like to wear clothes, but I sure as hell don’t sew them myself.”

Brotherly Love

I met Posey when she first got to the shelter and was still in quarantine. A one-year-old border collie mix, she is black and brown and white and gorgeous and sweet and loving. Walking her was the high point of the highlight of my week: volunteering as a shelter dog-walker — Woofy Wednesdays, as my husband calls it.

Posey and I went for a long walk. She is well-trained; she sits, stays and listens. She also looks lovingly into your eyes and, best of all, hugs. Really. She is a leaner and a hugger, two of my favorite puppy traits. We chatted with a woman and her dog. She looked at me and said, “You have little hearts coming out your ears.” I couldn’t believe she could see them, too.

When I brought Posey back to the quarantine area, we were greeted happily by her bother, Dolby — a bigger, older, all-black version of Posey — who was residing in the booth next to hers. If he stood on his hind legs, he could see her and talk to her through the divider. Posey and Dolby were found together as strays and came to the shelter together.

I went home and told my husband about Posey and set about looking up her breed(s) to see if she could be happy in our sedentary apartment life. Border collies like to have a job and to herd things, I learned. “She can herd the beanbag chair around the apartment,” I exclaimed. (Yes, I have a beanbag chair.) “Probably not what they had in mind,” my husband said gently. And they need space and lots of exercise. Damn.

On the following Woofy Wednesday, Posey and Dolby moved up out of quarantine into the shelter, where each dog has its own spacious private room. They had come upstairs that very morning. We took Posey and Dolby on a dual walk, where they played with each other nonstop. When they went back to their rooms, however, all was not well. I sat in Posey’s room with her, and we listened to Dolby bark and cry and hurl himself against his door. Posey cried and barked and alternated between pawing at her door in response, jumping up to try to see him through the clear part of her door and looking at me with beseeching eyes. She put her paws on me, trying to make me understand.

I needed to leave to walk another dog. All I could hear were their cries — their literal cries — along with barking and a lot of thuds. I came back from my walk and nothing had changed.

The (human) dog attendants reminded me it takes time for the dogs to settle in and get used to their new surroundings. And, since the chances of Posey and Dolby being adopted together are slim to none, they need to adjust to being apart (please say you know someone to adopt these two perfect, gentle dogs together). Maybe if I spent some time with Dolby, they suggested, it would help him calm down a little.

I went in and sat with Dolby. He licked me and hugged me and climbed on me, but he never stopped crying and barking and scratching his door — nor throwing himself up against it to get to Posey. He was inconsolable. He climbed on my shoulders to get a better look out the clear part of his door, to see if he could find her. I hugged Dolby and stroked him and whispered over and over it would be OK, as tears poured down my face. And he threw himself against the door, trying to get to his sister.

Old Friends

I’m grateful for a definitive answer. It’s unfriended, not defriended. As in when you deliberately stop being someone’s “friend” on Facebook by purposely removing him or her from your friend list. As I did this very thing recently — it being my only (passive-aggressive) recourse against a familial schmuck — I wondered aloud on Facebook about what the action was officially called. I am grateful to New Oxford American Dictionary for choosing the accepted term (unfriend is, in fact, the 2009 “Word of the Year”). Now if those kind folks could only help unfriending feel as good as punching the aforementioned schmuck in the face…

Lauren’s LinkedIn

Having done LinkedIn profiles for several clients, I was asked to give a little presentation on LinkedIn to a little networking group to which I belong. I am all for repurposing, so here are some of my insights:

1. What/Why/How

LinkedIn is basically an online resume, minus the detail. Yes, you need a LinkedIn profile, especially if you don’t have a website. (If you do have a website, be sure to include the URL.) Potential clients and contacts often look first to LinkedIn for information when deciding about you.

Easy to fill out; just answer all the questions and fill in the blanks. Whether you include a photo is up to you; many different opinions. Do write a good, solid summary statement, which should be some version of your regular branding statement (told you I like repurposing). Don’t have a branding statement? Consider hiring a professional experienced with doing these things (hmm, such as whom?) to help you develop one.

2. LinkedIn vs. Facebook

LinkedIn is for business contacts; Facebook is for personal contacts. Exception is if you have a Facebook profile for your business that is separate from your personal profile. Don’t be Facebook friends with your business-only contacts. A friend, who is one of the best networkers I have ever met, shared with me her criterion for accepting a Facebook friend request: “Would I happily climb into a hot tub with them?”

3. Building your network

The goal is not to get the most people in your network; the goal is to get the most valuable people in your network. If you would not consider meeting them for coffee or going to their office, don’t make them part of your network.

4. Using your network

Search for connections to companies, by geography, industry, etc. The closer the degree of separation (1 means you know them; 2 means someone you know knows them; 3 means you know someone who knows someone who knows them), the better you’ll feel about asking for an introduction.

5. Recommendations

Yes, make them. It’s often considered good etiquette to write a recommendation for someone who has provided one for you. That’s how you can increase your number of recommendations without directly asking for them. But if you feel comfortable asking, do so.

5. Groups, Updates, etc.

Yes, join groups in which you might be interested. Yes, update your status when you feel like doing so. Yes, joining discussions can lead to better contacts and networks and, potentially, make you a thought leader or expert.

6. InMail

InMail lets you get introduced to people outside your network (for a fee). I have heard people speak who swear by this as a way to build business. It’s the modern equivalent of cold-calling.

Feeling Sadly?

Do you feel sadly? No. You feel sad.
Do you feel gladly? No. You feel glad.

So why, oh why, do so many people — including many fairly well-educated folks —
say they feel badly when they just feel bad.

If you feel badly, it likely means something is wrong with your hands. Have you
lost all feeling in your fingers? Is your sense of touch on the fritz?

Once and for all: If you feel sorry about something, you feel bad. No –ly.

No need to feel bad about this; just say it correctly.

Fund-Raising 3.0.1: Printing Money

I hate looking into someone’s face and asking for money. I just can’t do it. Hence, I am not a development officer. I am, however, rather good at asking people for money via media other than the mouth.

From UJA walk-a-thons to synagogue bazaars to PFLAG dinner dances to nonprofit board-member letter-writing campaigns, I’ve unwittingly been involved in fund-raising my whole life. Still, when I began my eight years of work in a university development office, it was a rude awakening.

Thankfully, I was not unleashed on alumni and donors all that often. My job was to craft messages, design campaign materials, produce magazines and publications, and write creative yet heartwarming fund-raising appeals. I did most of this in the comfort of my little office. When I was allowed to leave, perhaps for lunch with a potential donor who happened to take a liking to me (go figure!), I begged for a warning sign so I could excuse myself to the bathroom when the big ASK was to take place. I seldom got that warning, so a well-timed duck under the table to retrieve my dropped fork often had to suffice.

Enter electronic fund-raising. You’d think I’d be thrilled, that the passive-aggressive medium of e-mail would be my saving grace. Alas, no.

It is widely known in fund-raising circles that 90 percent of the money comes from 10 percent of the people. And those 10 percent need care and feeding … in person. So no help there.

Then there are those who believe electronic communications can take the place of print communications. They are my enemy for a number of reasons. And they are wrong.

I am an old-fashioned print person. I love paper; I love ink. I love to read on the bus; I love to read in the bathroom. Reading electronic media in a moving vehicle makes me motion sick. Reading electronic media in the bathroom makes me … um, that’s just gross.

And every fund-raising study I’ve read supports the fact that electronic media cannot REPLACE print. It can augment; it can complement. But, praise be, it will NEVER replace it. Cue applause.

I use both kinds of media for fund-raising, and pretty much everything else. It’s time to talk about using these media together successfully — and, more importantly to me, how to use your print budget in the most effective, productive, creative and money-raising way.

With apologies to one of the smartest and most successful people I know (Anneke Seley, author of the terrific book, Sales 2.0): I am so over the 2.0 world. Really, how much staying power can one number have?

So, I will be drawing on my umpteen years of fund-raising experience to share some of my principals for Fund-Raising 3.0: Using Print Media for Fund-Raising in an Electronic World. Cue applause. And stay tuned.

Speaking of Bodily Functions…

Please don’t use the word impact as a (transitive) verb. It’s not nice. And it makes me wince.
Every time.

Your dictionary may tell you it’s OK. But it isn’t. You want to have an impact on something
(noun). But you do not want to impact something (verb).

Here’s why: If something is impacted, such as a tooth or your digestive system, it is a BAD
thing. So you don’t want to do that to someone or something. To impact is hurtful. To have
an impact is noble.

Most of the time, when people use impact as a verb, they should be using affect. You want
to affect an outcome; you do not want to impact an outcome. Wince.

I Pee for Free

I used to get paid to pee. I also got paid to walk around my office, talk on the phone, surf the Web, do my expenses, stroll around the block, eat lunch and visit with my co-workers.

Now I don’t.

That has been one of the hardest things to which I have had to adjust now that I work for myself. No one pays me to go to the bathroom or lunch or, well, anywhere. If I am not producing actual, tangible stuff, I am not getting paid. Ick.

While charging by the hour does allow me to happily make round 83 of changes and answer my client’s phone call on Saturday night with a smile, it also means I am never really “off,” and there is no such thing as “downtime.”

I always loved downtime.

And I often find myself reaching the end of what I thought was a busy day and looking back to find my billable hours were minimal. What the hell did I do all day? It’s 9 pm, and I felt busy until that moment. And I earned, like, $1.50 all day. Ick, again.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal talked about how self-employed people can’t take vacation. Sing it, sister. My past couple of “vacations” were really just changes of venue: I worked in a hotel room instead of in my apartment. Granted, I was so very happy to enjoy real theater at night while working in New York, where they mercifully make you turn off your cell phone for at least two hours. Of course, the rub continued: No one was paying me to see Hair (which I didn’t love, by the way).

And no one is paying me to write this post, which I am doing while watching a baseball game and a football game, answering e-mail and responding to a phone survey about the “Times Square-ization” of San Francisco (they wish!). This is my new downtime. So now I’ll just cross my legs and try to think of a way to make peeing billable.