Archive for August, 2020

Service of Value Added: Postcards to Support a Political Party

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Photo: theqnote.com

I found a good way to support my political party: Through a postcard writing initiative. I increase a modest $X donation that probably wouldn’t pay for two words in a radio commercial in Punxsutawney, Pa. by adding elbow grease. And I’m not finished: At the same time I’m supporting the United States Postal Service. How great is that?

There is a tiny snag: My handwriting. The formidable Miss Means in middle school did her best to correct my undecipherable scrawl. It didn’t work. My parents pleaded with me to type letters home when I lived in Turkey for two years. These days when I handwrite thank you notes to one far too generous friend he asks me to translate the missives. Frankly, I’m out of practice as, like everyone else, I’ve increased my speed on the keyboard at the expense of my writing. My grocery lists are a challenge to me.

But I will take my time writing the postcards because it’s important.

I passed the test required by what appears to be a smart, efficient operation https://postcardstovoters.org/. For approval they asked me to photograph a sample card with copy,  based on easy-to-follow guidelines, and email it to them.

Photo: commonwealthy.com

Volunteers pay for the postcards and stamps and receive addresses–with no names–digitally. Instead of a name we’re asked to select “ONE of these or something similarly neutral/positive/encouraging: Important Voter, VIP Voter, Best Voter Ever, Valued Voter, Essential Voter, Esteemed Voter, Terrific Voter, Awesome Voter, Patriotic Voter, Super Voter, Serious Voter, Winning Voter.”

We sign the cards with first name or initials and do not add a return address.

I am doing this alone during the pandemic while others with backyards may gather a stack of friends socially distanced on TV tables. The initiative boasts “over 76,000 grassroots volunteers in every state (including Alaska and Hawaii) who have written to voters in over 200 key, close elections since March 2017.”

Some friends make phone calls for their candidate or political party and report about one in 25 pick up. That doesn’t surprise me as calls go unanswered if I don’t recognize a number. My cards might never arrive or be tossed, unread, though it’s fun to imagine what the recipient must think about a handwritten card in an otherwise pretty empty mailbox.

Is it significant or coincidental that I’ve not identified the value added category in the posts since July 2015? [I wrote the first of five posts in April 2010.] Have you noticed or experienced examples of value added?

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot III

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Money plant cutting

Since the pandemic began, I’ve written two previous Service of Little Things posts. Two of the following four little things may really be big.

My vote counts

I’m grateful for the link a friend sent me for the skinny on which exemption to check to legitimately send for an absentee ballot in New York State. https://www.nbcnews.com/specials/plan-your-vote-state-by-state-guide-voting-by-mail-early-in-person-voting-election/.

When I drilled down to New York, https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html I learned which option to check: “Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability (temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19).

Queries to the NY Board of Elections and to one of my senators had gone unanswered.

 A tree grows in a NYC high-rise

I was thrilled that a cutting from a money tree, aka Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut or Saba nut–seems to have taken root. This baby [photo above] is two months old. I feel joy watching it grow.

E-book heaven

And while this isn’t little–I splurged and bought myself an iPad and I’m thrilled with it–the book world is my oyster thanks to the New York Public Library’s e-book collection. Some books I’ve reserved, photo right. I’d never wanted to read a book on a gadget but the library is still closed and in any case I am uncomfortable borrowing a book during the pandemic. Like any convert, I’m taken with this space saver that almost everyone else has owned for years.

Talent to Amuse

I learned that a wonderful series on Netflix–“Call My Agent”–is in production for another year. In French with subtitles, it’s a well done, funny show that takes place mostly in Paris. It’s about a quirky collection of talent agents and their famous clients.

Do you increasingly appreciate little things in these unsettling times? For what are you grateful?

“Call My Agent” cast. Photo: Netflix

Service of Character in the News

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Photo: areyoulivingwell.com

“Character is on the ballot,” sneered a radio newsman on Friday, the morning after the conclusion of the Democratic convention.

Shouldn’t such a “report,” delivered with a sarcastic intonation, have been presented in a vanilla voice, as a quote, not as a news headline?

I miss the day when you could only guess the politics of those who deliver the news or more likely you wouldn’t think about it. There still are 24 hour radio news programs where efficient newscasters reiterate highlights, traffic and weather reports. Otherwise, nonpartisan has been hard to find for years.

Doris Kearns Goodwin Photo: aarp.org

Some of my favorite reporters, such as Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, have tipped their hands. Like historians Jon Meacham, Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, whom I don’t recall before speaking up against or in favor of one or another politician, they’ve taken sides. Is their speaking up and out appropriate?

Even in the old days editorializing happened, if subtly, by the stories covered and those given no air time. Today if we tune into MSNBC or FOX we get an unrealistic analysis, a security blanket of analysis or finger-pointing that affirms what most of their viewers already think. On air personalities on both reflect their own realities.

Is character so bad a trait for a politician? Does this kind of coverage encourage extreme behavior by politicians? Can we expect nonpartisan news in our futures? If so, what will it take to revert?  Was news really impartial in the day?

Photo: orlandoweekly.com

Service of While You Were Distracted by the Pandemic & Election, Environmental Protection Initiatives Were Seeping Under the Radar

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Photo: azocleantech.com

Millions are focused these days on ducking the dreaded virus, deciding whether or not to send their children back to school, looking for a job, figuring out how to balance job deadlines with childcare, flinching at diminished savings and/or following their candidate for the upcoming election.

Photo: reynolds.k12.or.us.

Meanwhile the administration is at work dismantling environmental protections. Two headlines in The New York Times this week tell the story: “Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling,” and “Trump Eliminates Major Methane Rule, Even as Leaks Are Worsening.”

Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain reported: “The Trump administration on Monday finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States.”

Millenials
Photo: travel.earth

Carol Davenport wrote: “The Trump administration formally weakened a major climate-change regulation on Thursday — effectively freeing oil and gas companies from the need to detect and repair methane leaks — even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known.”

Who cares? I’ll tell you. In addition to me and most of my friends and acquaintances, I’d wager millennials and Gen-Zers too. There are some 83.1 million of the former–aged 22-38–and 74 million of the latter, aged 5 to 25.

A hint: “When it comes to dating 20-somethings, there are few bigger turnoffs than putting refuse in the wrong receptacle, according to a new survey by Cluttr, which found that millennials and Gen-Zers prefer dating someone who regularly recycles,” reported Ben Cost in The New York Post. Cluttr is an “unwanted item bazaar.”

Regarding the survey of 1,332 young Americans Cost continued “a whopping 69% of youths would boycott a brand for not adhering to green business practices, while 67% believed that global warming is a serious man-made threat. In fact, 71% even felt that the environment warranted more concern than the economy, which recently suffered its worst blow since the Great Depression amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Can these harmful actions against the environment be put back in the bottle? What else has happened while we’ve been distracted? Are you watching out for other issues at risk?

Slipping under the radar. Photo: dancelovetoknow.com

Service of an After Pandemic To Do List–or Not

Monday, August 17th, 2020

Photo: makeuseof.com

There are a few things I’ve put on a list to address when the pandemic cools and companies reestablish their sea legs.

  • One large corporation doesn’t recognize either my phone or account numbers so I cannot access my online account. I finally got customer service to mail a hard copy of my monthly bill. It worked once. Here’s hoping for subsequent ones.
  • Customer service at another company that’s supposed to send money can’t find me in their system so I can’t set up direct deposit. Some computer knows I exist as I get a mailed check. Don’t ask.

Photo: atlantic.net

Meanwhile, there are other companies that are buttoned up in spite of the pandemic. I use Saashost for a variety of email functions. The company was changing platforms which meant that all my devices/computers that receive email–laptop, phone, iPad and desktop–needed to make changes to accommodate the upgrade.

It’s a pandemic for me too and the timing was the worst because my IT consultant had other issues to settle and could only help so much. Life goes on.

The upgrade word always gives me the shivers. In my experience every “upgrade” makes it longer and harder for me to do what I did before, usually involving many more steps.

My IT consultant went through the first round so my laptop and phone could communicate to the new platform under the guidance of the indomitable Shaun at Saashost.

The rest was up to me. I was petrified. I didn’t need to be.

Shaun and Bradley held my hand virtually. They didn’t utter a single techie word or slap their heads in exasperation when the desktop–the mother of challenges because it’s a granny–didn’t perform or because attempted fixes took so long to download. They had me laughing as we delved into the scary depths of the ancient desktop.

Eventually Shaun had to rescue granny with some behind-the-scenes techie pyrotechnics by entering the computer remotely. He fixed it! Granny gets emails. Hooray!

Do you have a list of follow-ups you’ll be making once corporations are comfortable with the new normal? Have expert, patient, kind tech support staff worked you through treacherous steps in an unfamiliar world of behind-the-scenes letters, numbers, links and downloads?

Photo: steemit.com

 

Service of Too Ambitious: Mixed Signals

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Photo: flexjobs.com

To apply for the advertising director position I took a psychological test required by the magazine I worked for as an editor. I didn’t get the job. I was “too aggressive” according to the analysis. That was eons ago.

The day after the Democrat VP pick, the 28th White House Press Secretary and former White House Communications Director for DJT, Sean Spicer, told 710 WOR Radio morning show co-hosts that one of the downsides of Kamala Harris is that she’s “too ambitious.” That’s one reason he thought Susan Rice would have been a better pick.

Photo: todayifoundout.com

At the same time going Dutch on a first meeting is not appropriate according to many otherwise progressive, independent women who have always supported themselves and who applaud the professional successes of women. Even though the initial face-to-face meeting made possible by online dating websites is a crapshoot for both, they expect men to pick up the tab for the wine, coffee or meal or they say there won’t be a second date.

Mixed signals.

Are customs and conventions for business different than social ones? We’ve come a long way from the Hepburn-Tracy movies of the 1940s like “Woman of the Year”–or have we? Should men always pick up the tab?

Name a politician who isn’t ambitious.  Why are ambition and aggression such bad traits for women? Do those who object to ambitious, driven women prefer a wallflower to run the company they work for or the ones they invest in?

Photo: whydoguys.com

Service of Ignoring Pressure When Your Gut Says “No”

Monday, August 10th, 2020

Photo: superpreneur.ie

I’m always sorry when I haven’t listened to my gut and I’m angriest at myself when I’ve given in to pressure. I first wrote about the subject in 2017. These days it could be life or death if you ignore your instinct.

Photo: hopkinsmedicine.org

This excerpt of a comment on Facebook from someone waiting in line for a Covid test reminded me. The writer ached, had low fever, cough and sore throat adding: “Could be a cold/flu but for fact that a stupid inconsiderate friend hung out w me Sunday —no mask—after testing positive on Friday…he got the results after contaminating my home. Shouldn’t have let him in.”

One friend did follow her instinct. She refused to leave the car when she saw that none of the guests at an outdoor celebration wore a mask. Another was embarrassed to wear a mask at a gathering of 10 because nobody else wore one.

It’s not easy being green, or an outlier, though if September 11 and the pandemic have taught us one thing it is to avoid or extricate from situations when our antennae flash “danger.” Would I have exited the World Trade Center, I asked myself, even though people were told to stay in place? Since 2001 there’s no question that I’d head for the stairway–and I did several times when my office was in a building with a sketchy fire alarm system and no loudspeaker to warn or explain why it went off. I always left the building.

Is your gut reliable? Do you listen to it? What’s happened when you’ve ignored it? Have you missed opportunities when it directed you to be too cautious?

Photo: pinterest

 

Service of Because I Say So: When is a Hope a Lie?

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Photo: ffonts.net

I ordered something on the Internet and tracked its whereabouts a day after receiving an email stating “your order has shipped.” Someone had printed a label. Would you call that “shipped?”

Photo: pinterest.com

I’ve largely represented consumer products, organizations and events in my  career–no politicians or controversial issues. I’ve counseled clients when I thought they might word a description in a different way–a pattern featuring a green leaf is not “unique”–or suggested they drop an unsuitable element from their special event. Sometimes clients agree, sometimes not. I resigned one account run by a person whose inappropriate behavior and demands would have rubbed off on my reputation.

Nobody can counsel the president. I wonder if any try. He discourages me when he raises false hope and makes inaccurate declarations. The headline on Berkeley Lovelace’s article on cnbc.com, “Trump says U.S. may have coronavirus vaccine ‘far in advance’ of end of the year,” quotes the president from his August 3rd news briefing. He didn’t soften it with “I wish,” or “I hope” –which we all do. He declared it.

Photo: centracare.com

We want to believe it. Maybe he knows something we don’t know. But it doesn’t seem that way.

Vaccinologist and physician Gregory Poland, MD, of the Mayo Clinic predicted in an interview on WOR 710 Radio yesterday morning that the soonest we can expect a vaccine approved for emergency use would be early in 2021 though March/April for full use would be more likely. Even then, there wouldn’t be enough vaccine for everybody and essential workers would be inoculated first.

Is false hope a successful strategy if expectations are consistently dashed? Should a leader treat citizens as some adults do children declaring regardless of what it’s about–audience size,  state of the economy, vaccine readiness– “it’s true because I say so”?

Photo: mspoweruser.com

Service of Apology V

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Photo: my-confidential.org

I first addressed the subject of apology in 2010 when I covered one by the editor of a student newspaper for publishing an inappropriate cartoon and subsequently when a high school sports coach apologized for a tantrum and later by Whole Foods for overcharging. Then there was a post about those who didn’t or don’t apologize: Donald Trump, Quentin Tarantino and a department store customer service staffer.

Photo: inc.com

I have the opposite problem: I apologize too much. One friend attributes it to my sex, age and maybe upbringing. In his experience women apologize more than men, especially older women. “I’m sorry” pops out of my mouth as automatically as “God bless you” and “thank you.” I need to snap a rubber band on my wrist to stop me. Just today I almost collided with a man coming around a blind corner on the street. Me: “Sorry.” He: silence. Culpability: equal.

I cannot pinpoint the date at which businesses big and small and the people who work for them stopped apologizing–maybe 30 years ago? No apology, never my fault traveled from C-suites to NYC delis at that time. I was once yelled at when I told the cashier I’d not ordered OJ and she insisted that I had while holding out her hand for the additional money. I’d been going there every morning for months and had never ordered juice. Reminding her didn’t elicit an apology.

Photo: teamoutpost.com

There is dissent among lawyers as to whether or not to apologize if you’re in an accident. To some it might imply culpability that will be reflected in a crushing settlement. Some insurance lawyers  negotiating settlements find that an apology has impact: the injured person often agrees to a lower settlement. A friend was crossing a Manhattan street with the light when a taxi ran into him. One of the first things he told me was that the driver never once apologized. His lawyer is still negotiating the settlement. If I remember the no apology he also does–as well as the pain in his hip.

Has a stranger apologized to you lately? A business associate or colleague? A friend, family member, spouse or companion? Under what circumstances, if any, do you apologize?

Photo: policyholderpulse.com

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