Archive for the ‘Mostly For Fun’ Category

Haven’t you been thinking that you need a puppy?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

I know I shouldn’t have a favorite, but I do. I can’t help it. I mean, just look at her:

More puppies - just waiting to be adopted! - over at Newscoma.

But it’s so much nicer to come home

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

We’re back! And so far it doesn’t look like jet lag should be too much of an issue: I’ve been up since 8 AM this morning, which is a little later than usual for me, but only by an hour or so. Karsten is still sleeping, but this is fairly normal for a Saturday morning. He’ll probably be up soon, if my schedule was any indication.

Here’s the details of the sleep schedule, for those who are interested in jet lag avoidance:

We were up late on Thursday night at a bar called Velvet Lounge (kind of a gay bar, apparently, though a very mixed crowd), and didn’t get to sleep until 3 AM. Then Friday, as is my habit no matter how little sleep I get, I woke up sometime between 6 and 7 AM. Our flight out was at 6 PM (mind you: that’s 5 AM Central Standard Time). Around 10 PM China time, I started getting really sleepy, so I gave in and slept for about 4 hours, and then was awake until we got home around 10 PM Central time (which is 11 AM China time).

So I got to bed around 11 PM last night and was up at 8 AM this morning. Seems not bad for having been 13 hours off schedule for the past week.

ANYway, enough of that. I’ve missed the last few days’ worth of updates here, but it was a wonderful trip. I felt like we did just enough sightseeing to get a feel for the place and the culture without wearing ourselves out. That was balanced with getting a taste of living like locals (or at least like ex-pats) by doing things like going grocery shopping, etc. And that was balanced by getting out to lots of great restaurants and eating some of the best food of our lives. And all that was balanced by a comfortable amount of time in our friends’ modestly luxurious home, which gave us a very relaxed feeling of being on a sort of staycation.

Or perhaps more meaningfully, it also felt quite a bit like being on a cruise, where there are comfortable periods of time spent relaxing and enjoying the amenities of the ship, interrupted by excursions and sightseeing, all highlighted by wonderful food.

I think that’s a pattern that works really well for me, so maybe I’m a cruise-type vacationer after all. Only I think I prefer big city ‘cruises’ over tropical islands. I suppose that makes me weird, but hey. I’m just not that crazy about hot sun and sand, whereas exploring urban areas never gets old.

I guess, like anything, it takes experimentation to learn your ideal vacation style. I think we got pretty darned close to perfect on this trip. (Sure, it would have been better if I hadn’t been sick for the first third of the trip, but even that wasn’t as bad as it could have been had we not been staying in such a wonderful home.) And we both loved Shanghai enough to go back, which is saying a lot considering 1, how many other interesting destinations there are in the world, and 2, how long it takes to get there and back. But it’s an endlessly fascinating place and we only spent a little bit of time exploring its neighborhoods. We could easily do another two weeks there and not get bored.

So maybe we’ll try to squeeze in one more trip before our friends come back to Nashville or move on to wherever they’re going next. Or maybe we’ll put it on the list for some future year and just look for an apartment to rent or something. It’d be a totally different experience without a Chinese-speaking friend to guide us (so I should probably improve my own Chinese skills beyond numbers and simple greetings and ‘bu yao’ or ‘don’t want’ which is immensely useful in the shopping areas) and without a driver. But it would almost certainly shed more light on what it’s like to live in Shanghai.

At any rate, I would love to publicly thank Paris and Charles for their warm and wonderful hospitality and for not only putting up with our vegan pickiness but for making sure we were well taken care of. Because Paris spent all week with us, we enjoyed the luxury of having a trusted and knowledgeable guide as well as the wonderful company of a friend. Thank you so much, Paris and Charles!

And now: back to our normal lives, with taxes to file and deadlines to meet. But also kitties to pet and friends to see and favorite places to go. Vacation life is good, but our home life is pretty darned nice too.

Shanghai while sick, days 2 and 3

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

This has been an odd vacation: I’ve been struggling with still being sick (I came down with a virus infection less than a week before we left) and with having no energy due to weirdness with the timing of taking my Synthroid.

The Synthroid thing really threw me — hard. Here’s the thing: this is a medication you’re supposed to take at the same time every day. And for me, I’ve found that I need to wait at least an hour and a half after taking it before eating, and then wait at least four hours before taking my calcium supplements, which interfere with the effectiveness of Synthroid. But I have also found that to go back to sleep after taking Synthroid seems to concentrate it in some weird, intense way, so that I wake up jittery like I’m on speed or something. So trying to juggle all those restrictions and requirements while 13 hours off my normal schedule? Not easy. I initially tried just taking it at the same actual time (about 6 AM CST), which meant evening here, but that meant I was trying to fall asleep when I was just starting to feel energized. Yesterday morning that meant that I woke up (well, I never really slept) all shaky and with my heart racing. So I waited through the time difference and switched to taking it first thing this morning, and am just now starting to feel more normal, but I’m still a bit weak and woozy.

So I have truly been in the apartment almost the whole time we’ve been here. The only exceptions were on Saturday morning when we went out for a walk around the block (which wore me out) and for lunch when the driver took us to a Thai place for lunch, and we briefly walked around the Xantiandi area (which also wore me out). Yesterday I just resolved to stay in all day and let myself recover so I don’t ruin my whole week with this half-assed weak crap, but yesterday was also the day I was hardest hit by the Synthroid timing discrepancy, so while I was off my feet almost all day, it wasn’t exactly restful.

Nonetheless, I think the virus infection is almost gone (I still have slight sinus congestion and a trace of a cough, but it’s very minor) and I expect I’ll have my strength fully back within a day or two. Of course, we’re only here three and a half more days. So I’m going to try getting outside today, and see how it goes.

Shanghai skyline

In the meantime, I have to say, if you’re going to be stuck indoors, our friends have an awesome place to be stuck. I’ve taken a few pictures from their panoramic picture windows and have played with ColorSplash on the iPhone with the one shown above. More pics are here, and more will be added in the coming days, I’m sure.

Day 1 in Shanghai, in incomplete sentences

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Idea borrowed from Jae from her updates about her most recent vacation. I love the idea of documenting highlights, but not bothering to write up whole sentences and paragraphs to describe what can be 90% summed up in loose phrases.

Day 1:

Survived 14 hour flight with massive head congestion: blew through 3 pocket packs of kleenex; stayed high on Sudafed; read several chapters of ‘War and Peace‘ (seriously!); watched ‘Burn After Reading‘ (good stuff); ate too much; slept a bit. Happy reunion with Paris at airport (Charles is away on business but will be back Saturday mid-day). Introduced to Tom, their driver. Rush hour traffic into town.

Tour of apartment (wow!) & shown to our guest room suite (wow!). Paris should win awards for being super-thoughtful friend and hostess. It helps that their place is amazing.

Much-needed sickie nap for me while Karsten & Paris chat over snacks & wine.

Dinner of vegan fried rice and dumplings with tofu & spinach (and more wine), prepared beforehand by housekeeper apparently despite confusion because  “egg is not meat” so it should have been OK to include. She did an awesome job anyway. Can’t wait to meet her and thank her for such a delicious meal.

Amusing overview of content on Chinese TV stations. Introduced to ‘True Blood‘ - watched first 2 episodes. Alan Ball is a genius. Belgian chocolates and yet more wine. Paris points out that we can see The Bund from where we’re sitting in the living room. Have I mentioned their place is amazing?

Off to bed. Cozy with Karsten. Not a bad night’s sleep.

Day 2? Coming soon.

The holidays smell so good!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Chanel - Chance

Image by Mail Order Bride via Flickr

My coworkers gave me a bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume from my Amazon wish list during our holiday party last week. Karsten gave me a bottle of Prada perfume (also from my Amazon wish list) for my birthday yesterday morning.

And then our neighbor who works for Chanel left me & Karsten each some cologne in a gift bag on our doorstep last night. Woo hoo! I’m not sure why so many gifts have been fragrant this year, but I’m sure not complaining.

Hope you have a very merry Christmas, or happy Hannukkah, or festive holiday of your choice, or just a relaxing time off from work. I’ll be celebrating the latter, for the most part, and gearing up for the new year. I’ll be deciding on my songwriting goals for 2009 very soon and announcing them here, so that’s on its way in the next few days.

Happy holidays!

Yes, I’ve now seen Hall and Oates on the Daily Show. Thanks!

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Everyone who knows I’m a Hall and Oates super-fan keeps asking if I saw them on the Daily Show the other night. Never fear, I just did.

I loved it! (OK, I loved it in spite of it seeming like they could have maybe used another rehearsal of the song.) They’ve made guest appearances on other shows in the past, but they usually don’t get to interact much before they launch into whatever song they’re there to perform. It was fun to see them have a little comic setup before they played.

And “the only non-douchebag on that show”? Gold.

The PubCon Twitter song. Apparently, this songwriter takes requests!

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

By somewhat popular request (OK: two people), I’m capturing the Twitter song here in my songwriting blog.

I’ve been trying to do better about keeping the content of this blog related to Honey Bowtie Music, meaning Karsten’s and my writing, our pitching & publishing, and our life at our home office & studio, so I wasn’t planning on doing any kind of post PubCon follow-up here, but hey! this is relevant to songwriting. It’s some of the only writing I did while I was in Las Vegas, so it counts.

The story is: on Wednesday afternoon, I was taking a break in my hotel room, watching the #pubcon search feed in Tweetdeck burn up while everyone chatted about the “5 bloggers and a microphone” session, when I noticed that Kate Morris tweeted:

#pubcon someone needs to write a country song about losing love for twitter!

Fearing that there might not be too many other songwriters in the PubCon crowd, I felt it my duty to respond to the call.

@katemorris Just for you: “A hundred forty letters / And spaces in between / Isn’t near enough room / To say what you really mean” #pubcon

@katemorris 2nd verse: “It’s getting kind of silly / How everyone I meet / Instead of asking if I blog / Now asks me if I tweet” #pubcon

@katemorris I’ll let the rest be crowdsourced. It’s more the Nashville songwriting style to collaborate anyway. :) #pubcon

Only the rest never ended up crowdsourced, since everyone was caught up in what was going on the session. I mean, how wrong is that? Paying attention to the panelists instead of Twitter?

So if you attended PubCon and you end up here after searching for blog posts about it, here’s your chance: take a swing at writing additional verses in the comments. This is not limited to PubCon attendees either. My Nashville buddies, long-time net-friends, and songwriting colleagues are all encouraged to play along. I’ll update the post with the song’s progression, and it will be ready for performance by March in Austin.

Everyone who comments with additional verses gets songwriting credit. As we say in Nashvegas, “add a word, get a third.”

So who’s up for some cowriting?

Swanky!

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008


Swanky!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Even the bathroom icon people are pretty sophisticated.

John Irving at the Ryman Auditorium

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

“Suppression is very American. … If you don’t like abortion, don’t
have one. … Why should it matter to straight couples if gay couples
get married?” - John Irving, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, November 8,
2008

Raven’o'lantern

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008


Raven’o'lantern

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Sweet carving job on a pumpkin at Sitening HQ.

But it wouldn’t be speeding if everyone else would just go faster!

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

I hate to copy the post outright but it’s so short, and the whole quote is just hilarious. Because it’s so true.

From Seth’s Blog: “Trying to convince a CEO of anything is a little like trying to convince a cop not to give you a ticket. It’s possible, but rarely worth the effort, given the odds.”

And how.

Believe it or not, it gets better. In the linked interview, he goes on to say:

Instead, just do it. Go fast, get where you’re going. The odds of getting stopped are small, the price of the ticket is small and if you’re doing the right thing in the first place, it’s worth it.

The only quibble I have is that the “price of the ticket” may not be all that small; it could well cost a great deal. I can vouch for that. But I certainly agree that if you’re doing the right thing, it’s worth trying to get where you’re going anyway. One of my favorite quotes is from Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker:

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.

There’s nothing wrong with sobriety, responsibility, or caution; in their place, they make a great deal of sense. But they’re no guarantee of success, and they certainly aren’t associated with many of the great long-term success stories. They’re good tools to have at one’s disposal in times of difficulty, but should not be the default position. Otherwise, what fun is anything?

It’s official: Sitening took me on.

Friday, October 24th, 2008

From the Sitening blog:

Sitening LLC, a bright, growing web marketing agency has hired Internet veteran Kate O’Neill as Managing Director.

Sure, sure, I’m excited about “the focus we’re going to be able to apply” and joining “such a talented group of web professionals.” Whatever. The real reason this rocks is this:

Dude. Coffee goes high tech. I like it.

Reducing eco-impact in the daily commute

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

I want to reduce my gas consumption and my carbon footprint. But little by little, I’m getting talked out of my bike commuting plans. Several people in the past few weeks have expressed concern over the lack of shoulder in several places on the road I’d be riding along with the speed of traffic on the road, particularly relative to a (slow) cyclist.

I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that, dammit, they’re probably right.

So now I’m left wondering what I want to do about my commute. Besides commuting by bike, I’ve decided to catalog the options I’m weighing, and see if anyone has any other suggestions:

  • I was willing to trade off lots of time (a daily three hours of bike commuting vs. 50 minutes on average by car on the highway) in order to get to zero, so I should be willing to make the same or similar concessions if I can lower my ecological impact. For example, if I were to buy a hybrid car, it would mean shuffling around some financial plans to accommodate it, but that should be no less inconvenient, in some ways, than the bike commute would have been.

    On the other hand, I was actually looking forward to the quiet time on the bike, whereas I’m not so eager to spend ~$20K on a new car. On the third hand, I do rather like being alive and don’t want to risk life and limb just to be stubborn about being a zero-carbon commuter.

  • Carpooling is a possibility. Unfortunately, no one I work with lives in my neighborhood, so there are no obvious arrangements. A few of my neighbors work in the same suburb I do, so I could pursue sharing rides with them if we can compromise on work hours. And some of my coworkers live on the east side of town, which is easy enough to get to. We’ve tried a few times to have Karsten drop me off at a designated meeting spot, like a gas station en route to the highway, and that’s been reasonably successful, but all of the carpool options do require conforming to a work schedule that may or may not suit my day-to-day needs. On the other hand, bike commuting would have been even more restrictive, since my choice would be to ride during daylight hours, and that means much shorter workdays than I’m used to. Not at all a bad thing, but a big adjustment either way.
  • Another option, albeit one I have less direct control over, is to try to work out a telecommute arrangement with my employer. I have experience with successfully introducing this arrangement in other workplaces, and there is sort of a precedent for it here — we have associates in remote locations already, so it’s not as if we don’t know how to get our jobs done when we’re not face-to-face. But this doesn’t seem like an easy sell and it probably wouldn’t be an immediate change, even if all parties agreed on the terms of a telecommute arrangement.
  • Finally, so as not to ignore obvious options, I could always quit my current job and find work closer to home (or freelance and work from home full-time). But I like what I’m doing, so I’m not ready to explore that option — especially not before I’ve explored the telecommute option.
  • I suppose another obvious option that should be stated is to move closer to work. This, however, is simply not going to happen. Karsten and I love our house and our neighborhood; our remaining happy in Nashville is heavily contingent on feeling as if we’re in a charming urban oasis in a sea of strange Southern suburban sameness. It’s one thing to work in the suburbs — exurbs, even — but living there would make me go postal.

    Other than that, I’m out of ideas. Anyone out there have any novel approaches for reducing ecological impact on the daily work commute?

  • Drinkhaus - our new neighborhood coffee shop

    Sunday, August 10th, 2008


    Drinkhaus - our new neighborhood coffee shop

    Originally uploaded by Kate O’
    Very excited about this cool new coffee shop with tasty drinks and a
    lot of style.

    Check it out: http://www.drinkhaus.com/

    Look here, youngun. I’m a danged EXPERT, and I say…

    Monday, August 4th, 2008

    My first article in Circulation Management’s “Monday Morning Expert” column is now up on their web site:

    Circulation Management Magazine - kate artice.png

    Can’t believe anyone believes a word I say with a promo picture like that. :)

    Nashville just got a little more perfect

    Friday, August 1st, 2008

    I don’t know how I missed the news that my favorite local cafe and patisserie, Provence, is now partnering with Intelligentsia Coffee. From Chicago. It’s my favorite coffee EV-AR.

    I detect the need to modify my daily commute so that I head downtown before leaving the city on my way to the exurbs each morning: I’m going to need to stop by the Provence at the main library.

    Now if only that location would open on Sundays, I’d be a very happy girl.

    I am a major pain in the neck

    Saturday, July 26th, 2008

    My neck and throat feel all puffy and swollen today, for some reason, even though they don’t really look any different. Still, I keep making jokes to Karsten about it, like asking while he drives if my neck is blocking his view of the road — stuff like that. He shakes his head and asks if it’s going to be another two months of neck jokes before my surgery. Magic 8 Ball says “you may rely on it.”

    Get a car off the road AND get a great workout? Sure!

    Sunday, July 20th, 2008

    My planned bike commute route, and first attemptI’ve only done one practice ride and I didn’t even make it all the way, but I think it’s still feasible enough to say it out loud: I may become a bike commuter.

    Mind you, my commute route is 18.14 miles long (according to Google maps), over hilly middle Tennessee terrain (according to my legs). It’ll be one hell of a workout. But on the plus side: it’ll be one hell of a workout! I’ll never have to visit a gym again.

    Except, of course, that part of the logistics involve visiting a gym every morning. Part of what makes this possible is that the Cool Springs YMCA is mere blocks from Magazines.com, so I can shower at the Y and coast downhill to work.

    My next step is to try another test ride, this time with some of the gear I might use to commute. If I go through with this plan, I’ll need to invest in:

    • lights and reflectors to be safe on the ride back after work
    • panniers to carry change of clothes, laptop, and miscellaneous stuff
    • neon-bright bike wardrobe that protects against leg chafing — definitely an issue yesterday

    Me at the farmers marketAnd yes, I probably want to buy a new bike. I love my fun and adorable cruiser for riding around town, but I gather that a road bike would make the long ride much easier and more efficient. But I want to be sure I’ll actually do this before I invest in a commuting bike.

    Because there are several other considerations: I’d also want to try to adjust my schedule so that I leave the house as early as daylight will allow and leave the office while there’s still enough light left to avoid riding home in the dark, at least for now. If I do this through the winter it’ll be pretty tough to avoid riding in the dark, since it’s already pretty dark by 5 most days in December. Not to mention what it might be like to ride that far in the cold.

    But December is a long ways away, and the conditions now are pretty much opposite: plenty of daylight, and too much heat for comfort.

    Still, I’m excited. I really want to do this. If I could manage to do it five days a week, I’d be riding 180 miles, saving 175 lbs of CO2, burning 8,460 calories, and saving almost $40 in gas costs each and every week.

    Any one of those numbers would be incredibly motivating, but all of them together? How could I not give this a go?

    New bikes!

    Quick, what does this remind you of?

    Saturday, July 12th, 2008

    Seen this?

    searchmonkey.png

    It’s Yahoo’s SearchMonkey program. Hmm. “Searchmonkey.” That’s kind of cute… and very familiar! Where have I heard that before?

    Oh yeah! Here:

    searchmonkey-me.png

    I’m not bitter, though. They can have it. What with Yahoo’s current difficulties, it’ll probably do them about as much good as it did me.

    Kiss and make up, kiss of death, or how about just vamping for the camera.

    Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

    You know all those articles I’ve been linking about Maghound? Well, in case it wasn’t obvious, it’s an initiative I’m keeping my eye on. Time Inc. is launching this online magazine service in late Q3, and oh by the way, Time Inc. happens to be an investor in an online magazine service called Magazines.com, too, so… I guess that’s a little weird, right?

    Anyway, last week at this conference I was speaking at, I got chatting with Dave Ventresca, president of Maghound. We’d met once before and were having a nice enough conversation, and then… someone approached us with a camera.

    Quick: what’s the best thing to do when someone wants to take what they think will be a caption-worthy photo?

    Why, make it MORE caption-worthy, of course.

    daveventresca-me-kiss.jpg

    Your caption suggestions welcome here.

    A wordle of my own

    Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

    I’ve seen some cool wordles, but it wasn’t until a friend posted one she created using a recent research paper that I got inspired to create one of my own. This wordle uses my “manifesto,” which was a 37-page, 6,889-word document outlining a proposed strategy for how we at Magazines.com interact with our customers to optimize lifetime value.

    No surprise that “email” and “customers” are the prominent words for a visualization of a document describing, essentially, how best to communicate with our customers.

    Yawn.

    Sunday, June 29th, 2008

    I had stress dreams all night about work. Not just work, but, um, well, strategic issues that influence the future of the company.

    Maybe I already need another vacation?

    links for 2008-06-28

    Saturday, June 28th, 2008

    Letter from a jilted lover

    Thursday, June 26th, 2008

    My colleague pointed me to a letter a friend of his wrote to American Airlines, “breaking up” with them.

    Dear American Airlines,

    I don’t think we should see each other any more.

    I know that’s hard to hear. But you’re not the same airline I met a few years ago. You’ve changed. And not for the better. Sure, you say you love me… that you’ll take care of me… that I am “Elite” in your eyes… but those words just seem empty now. I need you to show me that your love is genuine.

    There’s more. Lots more. And it’s brilliant. Check it out.

    Please don’t cry

    Thursday, June 19th, 2008


    Please don’t cry

    Originally uploaded by Kate O’
    My coworker Andy told me a sad story about a coyote killing a cat, and then left me a little chin-up note to counteract it. This place is nutty.