Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cocoa Beans

When the sun rises and beams red on the mountains
I pull the covers up and roll on my stomach groaning.
The sound of water percolating over Brown and squatty, peanut-shaped beans
Has me peeking from under my pillow.
The dark, woodsy smell makes me salivate like a Saint Bernard.
The thought of wrapping my palm around my favorite blue mug from an art studio in Barbados
hot with the dark liquid
Born only from the mixture of South American cocoa and water pulls my feet down the stairs.
Savoring, I breathe in the deep smell.
The mountains rise to greet me through the bay window;
Rabbits bound through my garden flowers and smile;
Sunlight sparkles on the pergola & Japanese lanterns;
Raising my mug, I toast the cocoa and the day.

written at the Crestone Mountain Zen Center
Writing Retreat 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

A good place

A Poem Written at the Crestone Mountain Zen Center
Writing Retreat 2010

Dammit I’m good. Come hell or high water I’ll believe it.
The place with no sin is not in a Grimms Fairy Tale forest
It is a place I will believe exists.
Where judgment obliterates crappy ideas of self
Where good things wind their way around me like the wind whipping through the weeping willows
Through me, in me.
The sun will beat strong and red on my face until the quiet smile of recognition spreads.
I still feel the stones .. .the little crimes under my feet – the natural, reminder of humanity
And I will release them to the sun and the wind and the mountains.
The two hearts in me will believe.
The one that beats will release its stranglehold of guilt on the one that breaks.
There will be a thunderclap release of lightening
A flash of a better self.
Dammit I’m good. And come hell or high water I will believe it.

Monday, August 30, 2010


The music drifts into my chest and eases the tension

The chants hum down my spine and clear my head

Every muscle needs the stretch and some shake at the poses

There may not be incense but my nostrils flare with its scent

Shiva and Buddha look down on me from seated positions on the wall

My freak out of the past month may only be gone for 90 minutes

But it's gone

Friday, August 13, 2010


Drought in Alabama, Lightening in Colorado.

I heard it was sunny here 300+ days a year. What I didn't hear was that there are rain showers every afternoon. Almost like clockwork. I could just about set my watch by the 3:45 raindrops. Oh, I don't mean to confuse anyone. I don't mean the cute little rains that LA or Hawaii has every day to cool things off.

What I'm talking about is that every afternoon, I look west to Pike's Peak. Ugly, nasty, black, terrifying wall clouds ominously crawl over the top of the Front Range. I can see the sheets of rain coming with them. These clouds bear down over the Garden of the Gods and lift like a groundswell full of lightening, hail, and torrential downpours -- crashing and cracking the entire way. Coming my way, I feel the wind. Lightening hits and the darkness passes over. Trees are bending near sideways. It sits over the house. The noise is deafening. Long trails of lightening strikes on one side and then another. Enormous rain pounds on the roof like a giant stomping. All of it together surges up over the hills and sweeps over the plains taking their gale winds and updrafts with them.

After an hour or so, the dark clouds break apart to grey and then to white, the sun shines through again to sparkle on the wet pavement and grass. And then it's over.
Til tomorrow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Told Ya

Looks like I was right.

Michael Hastings' embed with the Army has been pulled. He also refused to comply with an IG inspection into the Gen McChrystal incident.

Well, can you blame the Army? I can't.

My issue is that it didn't have to happen. We provide embeds not for positive press but for accurate press. There are plenty of balanced pieces out there. There are plenty of negative pieces out there. There are plenty of journalists who understand how the military works.

Giving access provides context. When you allow a reporter behind the scenes and they know it is background for context, they know it isn't for publication. Not everything has to be available for public consumption. I'm not Julian Assange. I don't believe the world needs to know absolutely everything. And these two wars have been open to the press and to the public in a way like no other. It almost isn't fair that soldiers who are fighting can't act like themselves in their downtime.

I do however, believe, that the relationship is a two-way street. When you allow an embed into your unit. The unit must understand that the reporter isn't a unit member. He isn't a pal. If you don't want to see it on the front page or in headline news, don't talk to him about it.

I just hope the only casualty here is Hastings. Other war correspondents and units understand this relationship and it is working out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Meet the Press - Colorado Springs & Leadership Pikes Peak

Sat in a Meet the Press panel today with the group Leadership Pikes Peak. The media present were: Tak Landrok, KRDO-Ch 13 Investigative reporter, who evidently has a reputation for no-holds bar news reporting. Sue McMillin, Gazette Local News Editor, who finds less information available with the use of social media and websites. Betty Sexton, an anchor on KKTV-11, who's theme was constant communication between news editors and anchors and interview subjects. Lastly, there was James Jarman, an investigative reporter from KOAA, News First 5, who felt that government is hiding something and it is the media's job to hold them accountable.

I've sat through a few of these panels before and most of their revelations weren't new, but there were some things that struck me as interesting.

1-- They thought the role of the media is to give information to the public and the public is supposed to act on that information. They were bewildered at some of the issues people turned a blind eye to or turned away from with the attitude that there was nothing they could do about it, particularly with crooked politicians. It does make a news reader ask: what am I supposed to do with this information?

2-- There seem to be an incoherent lack of understanding about how social media works. Twitter and Facebook are not the only forms of social media, yet these plus blogs, were the only ones mentioned several times by all panel members. I understand why considering these two are by far surpassing the competition. However, I think they are missing a major news audience and opportunity by not understanding this realm.

3-- The unity with which they seem to agree that 20 and 30 somethings don't engage in the news was disheartening to me, especially since Pew Research did a study proving that wrong. James did mention that they are engaged just in different ways rather than the traditional News at 6. I almost wonder if they are alienating that age group by thinking that all they want is Hollywood news. James even admitted to getting into the business because he read the news at that age. Are they confusing "that age" with teenagers or 20 and 30 somethings in college and starting careers who are interested in the news and reading/watching it? They are just doing it on smart phones and laptops. Hmmmm....

4-- Information has actually become harder to get because of social media and online resources. They used to get the police blotter or coroner's reports or other public records by having face to face interaction with people, but now with those organizations sending out information on Twitter or Facebook, it seems that those organizations feel that is enough information. Rather than let the journalist or reporter decide what information they need, the source is doing it for them. While in some ways, this is easier for snagging new tips, it's harder for actually investigating news. Therefore, the need to cultivate relationships with ongoing sources (i.e. law enforcement, government agencies, etc...) is greater.

5-- It is also harder to get public records. What used to take a day or less is now taking days or weeks. As always, stonewalling won't get the story squashed.

All in all, I thought it was rather informative, and I'll definitely attend the next one. I just wonder if they learned anything as well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Mason Jar

I ventured out to explore today and had lunch at The Mason Jar - a cute little restaurant just outside the adobe block of Old Colorado City.

It boasts a legendary Chicken Fried Steak but I had a mouthwatering blackened salmon. It came with a salad and baked potato. I could have had mashed or french fries. One thing about a salad is the type of Italian dressing -- this was the good kind, not the cheap kind. The menu is American bar and grill. Portion sizes were perfect. The prices were reasonable.

But the best part of the meal had to be the cornbread. Now, being from the South, we know cornbread. And The Mason Jar could have any debutante from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, cheering Roll Tide! with that cornbread.

The atmosphere was nice with its Colorado log cabin motif. The entire dining room was designed for cabin comfort down to the items on the table. There are benches on the length of the long porch out front to sit and enjoy the breeze.

It was a busy lunch time but I never had to ask for refills on my iced tea, which of course was served in a mason jar. And although the girls were nice and efficient, they were not overly friendly or chatty. But then again, I am from the South so Bless their hearts. No doubt, I'll definitely be back.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Four days of driving from Alabama through Nashville, St Louis, and Kansas City. One night in a hotel and two nights with family and friends. One very long push across wide-open prairie and we finally made it to Colorado Springs -- nine hours before the moving truck.
One eight-hour day of unpacking boxes and unloading furniture and we were officially Coloradians. It took two more days before the house was livable but we did it. It will take another week to organize and make it something ready for guests and Christmas. One of the fastest moves in history.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My take on McChrystal

OK, I've heard all sides and here's my take.

Relationships with the press are a two-way street.

1- When you allow an embed, there are ground rules. I realize that we don't know what those were with this guy from Rolling Stone but I've been a PA long enough to know that the embeds are required to follow ground rules. If you break those, there is no more access. All media people know this because they want future access.

2- Military people know, or should know, never trust the press. I don't care how cozy things become, you are always on the record. Period. You should never, ever, forget this one little rule and it appears that this is what happened.

3- This will have consequences for us on the ground and I know because it already has. I've been fending off mid-level officers and my senior guy all week. Begging them to remember that embeds are OK (we've been doing it for years); that relationships with the press are necessary (how else will you reach the people?)

The military-media relationship has always been strained but when a snot-nose like Michael Hastings has the audacity to say all over national television that the relationship is an illusion, he obviously doesn't seriously understand his position. On the other hand, for the military folks to honestly assume that it is OK to say the things they did in front of him was just plain stupid and arrogant.

Gen McChrystal didn't put up a fight because that is not what senior-ranking officers do in the Army. They take the fall for the bad things and let the junior ranking folks take the accolades for the good things. It's called leadership.

Will this have an effect? Yes. And we'll see it soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The A-Team

Yahoo! users gave ""The A-Team" an A.

I personally would give it a B.

The show was a family fav when I was a kid so of course I wouldn't miss it. It was fantastic...lots of action, great characters, funny lines, good set-up for a sequel. The four main characters could have walked out of the 1980s roles. Murdock was just as silly as he was back then. Hannibal was as god-like. Face and Barracus -- the same cool dudes kickin doors, communicating with mere nods of the head.

BUT, the thing that nagged at me through the entire movie was Jessica Biel's character.

Who is this Army captain that rarely wears a uniform and bosses around 4-star generals? Her character was never developed and her role was never clearly defined in the movie. Maybe it's because I know that a captain would never wield that kind of power...perhaps a CID captain. (That's Criminal Investigative Division)
But even so, no captain I know, not even CID, would ever speak to a 4-star that way. And no 4-star I've ever met would take it past the first word.

So my question to Hollywood is this: please tell me who this person is that is giving orders to colonels and generals? If you could define her authority for me, I think your movie would go from a B to an A, hands down!

Beyond that annoying little splinter, the movie rocked!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Social Media Out the Wazzoo

Linked In

That's a lot of social media. Do you need to belong to them all? Personally, I don't think so.

When you thin yourself out, then nothing is good quality.

I say focus on making your website or your blog great. If your thing is photos like my pal Scott, fill up the Flickr.

Find your niche, then use one or two social media sites to your advantage to market it.

Remember the adage, less is more.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Death & Agony by PowerPoint - DoD's real enemy

We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint

Yes he is! The DOD spends an exhorbitant amount of time building PowerPoint presentations.

Now, I had an entire 4-hour credit course one summer in college to learn this nifty little skill. Except back then it was the "other guy's" product, mPower. But it was all the same. I did not know in my young idealistic days that my military officer salary, paid for by taxpayers at more than $60K a year and that doesn't include benefits and allowances, would really not require more than that 4-hour credit course. I would have happily skipped all the pain of statistics and chemistry lab!

Twitter today had a great tweet by @pricefloyd "Death by PowerPoint. Why is DOD so enamored by this communication tool?

What a spectacular question! My follow up is this: why hasn't the audit agency done a study to see how much time and money is wasted on making these things? My last job had two lieutenant colonels preparing massive briefs - 125 slides with 36 or so versions of the same brief for one general? What is wrong with Gen Mattis' approach? Just get up and talk.

Maybe we should send our officers back to Speech 101 and throw PowerPoint out the window.

I don't have a product

Just finished reading DM Scott's World Wide Rave.

Love the book. Love the ideas. Ready to implement. Two concerns.

1 - I don't have a product.
2 - I work for a company that won't fold, ever.

So, I don't have a product. Maybe that should be my product. I'm just a girl who really likes social media. Sees the value in social media and networking. I mooch off news organizations and I blog about what other folks are saying and doing.

His book didn't talk about blogging and I wish that he did. Sure everyone has an opinion and in this narcissistic society, everyone wants to be heard and be famous. Is that new? I don't think so. I also don't think that is a new concept to psychologists or anthropologists. Maslow might even argue that the need for acceptance is right up there after food. So I'm not sure that narcissism is unique to this generation. We just now have the tools to feed it (hence, the World Wide Rave).

Two, I don't work for a company that will fold, ever. I work for the U.S. government. On page 99 of his book, Scott encourages you to quit and "work for a company that embraces the new world" because "your company won't be around in a few years." That is good advice if I were a corporate weenie but I'm not. I'm a government weenie. And in the hierarchical, dictatorial society of "do it because I've been around a lot longer therefore I know better" - social media is barely cracking the operational security iron curtain of pentagon firewalls, bandwidth and paranoia that I'd like it to.

To be fair, the DoD just put out a blanket policy to open unclassified computers to social media sites and the Air Force is testing it right now. Is that enough to crack the culture? No way but it is at least a start.

So.... if my product is how the DoD can speed up this integration, then maybe I can write an eBook as Scott suggests. or maybe I can make fun of how complicated the DoD has to make everything. Any ideas here are greatly appreciated.

Otherwise, my product will be that I don't have one and I will create a blog, Facebook, Twitter and other accounts with my opinion on the direction of DoD social media integration and conservative US politics. Any takers?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Border Control

So the Arizona governor signed illegal immigration legislation today. That spun everyone up!

The left is screaming that it's racial profiling and violating all sorts of individual civil liberties. The right applauds it as a tough stance in the face of violence and the stoppage of the illegal use of American programs. Others say that Jan Brewer is in a super tough political race this year and it's a political stunt.

However, when you look at the Robert Krentz murder case, a local Arizona rancher who was found dead in his truck last month -- the locals say all evidence points to an illegal smuggler. The day before he and his dog were shot, Robert's brother had called border patrol about a caravan of illegals. They found 280 pounds of marijuana, which makes you wonder if it was a retribution killing.

This is the first murder in 30 years but the foot traffic through the area is so rampant that it looks like a dump from the clothes, food, water bottles, trash dropped by the folks walking across the border every day. It's just proof of the amount of people crossing the border. Pleas of federal assistance have been ignored.

Does one murder constitute a new state law requiring people to carry their immigration papers? No. But drug traffic over the border is uncontrollable. American tax dollars pay for free school lunches, emergency room care, ESL programs, welfare and other programs. Violence is up, especially in places like El Paso, Texas, across from Ciudad Juarez where the drug cartels have been known to kill DEA agents and leave them in open graves. Locals claim that illegals just walk through their land every day. And they do take jobs away from people who are here legally.

And that is the bottom line. It will be an interesting next few days as the pundits debate it. Obama has already said it's "misguided." I'd like to see if it helps or hurts the Arizona governor. They already have that great Sheriff in Joe Arpaio. Looks to me like they are leading the way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

iPad - thinking about it

98-year-old Virgina Campbell bought her first piece of computer equipment - ever! And it was an iPad. The woman has glaucoma and just sped through 2 books on the iPad. Talk about an advertisement.

From everything I've read, I'm thinking this might be a good buy, next year. I'd like to wait for the second generation because other than being a great eReader and according to one friend, it will change the gaming world, I'm not sure yet about it's ultimate significance.

It isn't a laptop. If you want one of those, get the Macbook. It isn't a phone. If you want one of those, get an iPhone. It doesn't have a camera and won't run multiple apps at once.

I am in the market for an eReader and I was looking at the Kindle, but I love the hype about the iPad. However, this one appears to be more suited for magazines and comics. Still more research to be done. But I'm on the edge...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Where do you get your news?

Evidently if you feel the need to pay attention to the news, then most of you get it from at least 4 different sites. That is according to a Pew Research Study that came out last month. I am definitely one of those people - a news junkie.

Some of the most compelling information about the study included:

People still read local newspapers and watch local television news coverage.
TV is how most get their news, with the internet coming in a close second.
Over a third of cell phone users access the news on their phones
Out of all internet users, almost 40% participate in the news
-- creating the news (iReports)
-- commenting on the news
-- forwarding the news via email or social networking (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace)

I get my news from at least 6 different sources via Twitter and forward it from Twitter, post it to my Facebook site or email it. I also check news gathering sources like Yahoo News, Google, Drudge, Huffington and Early Bird. Not to mention I switch my office TV between CNN and FoxNews throughout the day.

What I like about this study is that it shows that although newspapers around the country are struggling, people are still more likely to use local sources for their news. That tells me their is still a market for a local source. Tapping that source is important. Utilizing a mobile app or internet site would benefit those trying to project a message. Now, it's a matter of marketing the site.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Military Facebook - Is it Worth it?

So there is a new study out that basically says people want Military Facebook pages but the military doesn't know how to engage very well. Or maybe it's that the military wants to engage but doesn't have the manpower to engage. I think it's a matter of both.

Janson is a PR firm that focuses on the Defense Industry. Their 17-page report can be found at their website (click on the title of this blog or go to Looking at nearly 700 military Facebook pages, the trends they found were pretty telling. Here is my interpretation:

-- The military would like to be engaged in the social media realm because it hits the demographic they need. After all, 40% of the Air Force is under the age of 26.

-- The Marine Corps seems to get this better than all the other services. Go figure, they are better at recruiting than any service as well. Semper Fi!

-- There is little to no interaction on the pages (84%) but the fans want it. Well, the same is true in the "real" military too. We all like it when the higher ups make us feel a part of the team -- a real part. Social media is no different.

-- 74% of location pages gave no updates on real information. This one brings up another of the military's problems -- divulging information. They want to play the game but they don't know how to effectively. Information exchange is what social media is all about but the military is traditionally tight lipped. Gonna have to loosen up and that goes against all they know.

-- On a decent note, only 4% turned into "zombie" pages, which means nothing had been updated for months. That's a good note. It's critically important to update often if you want to stay relevant.

All in all, for those of us in military Public Affairs, the Janson study didn't widen any eyes but it did give us some ammunition with the boss (they like hard facts). We want to play ball but there must be people to update the page, interact with the fans and we must be allowed to put real information on the page. Otherwise, we can just use a military internet site & avoid interaction altogether.

(Most stats and info about the study came from Military Facebook Study, Janson Communications March 2010. Air Force stats came from the Public Affairs Center of Excellence, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Olivia Hair Salon

JR gives one amazing shampoo and it's almost insulting to call it that. I would go back to this hair salon on Taylor Road in Montgomery every day just for it!

I used to think the girls at the Dragon Hill Lodge on Yongsan Garrison were the best. Little Korean girls who were taking your scalp off also took your headaches away. These little demons with fire on the ends of their hands massaged away anything that might have been a thought. I've held onto that for over six years.

But today long, very strong fingers ran over every inch of my head and neck. No thought entered my normally frantic brain. Muscles that plague into migraines were tamed and phrenologists from the 18th century would have been jealous of the knots he smoothed into submission.

Not quite ready to yank the gold from the Koreans and hand it to JR...I'll have to go back for another try and it will be so worth it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Social Networking

Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, GovLoop..... which one? All of them? None of them?
How did we ever make friends growing up? Do you ever wonder?

In the playground of digits and keyboards, social interaction has become an avatar and screen time. Not face-to-face interaction but acronyms and shortened phrases that our parents won't recognize. Conversations are short and to the point and meeting people has become an electronic game of who knows who.

I can remember when my sorority sister met her fiance through an online dating service and all of us were appalled. Being from the south, it was unheard of. Simply not done. To put yourself out there without the protection of your sisters. Entirely too independent. The safety net of the flock nowhere to be found.

Now it seems the way to find a job, a colleague, information for your work project is to post it out on Twitter or Facebook or LinkenIn and see who can help you. It's fast and efficient and who knows what matter of expert is out there to assist you.
The way we work has changed and the way we make friends has changed.

And I like it. There are people all over the world and social networking has opened up avenues so far beyond the backyard playground that our experiences can expand so far past what we once knew. Exposing ourselves to other cultures and ideas that the possibilities are limitless.

So I say pick Facebook to reconnect with your hometown buddies, LinkedIn for your professional life, Twitter to stay on top of things, GovLoop if your a DC careerist and use Google or Yahoo if none of these work for you. Cynic? Privacy feign? Look into them. They have the settings and you determine what you want to put out there.

This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. Those silicon valley basement geniuses will come up with something even better next.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

'Get the Terrorist' Program for All

Flight 253 from the Netherlands to Detroit - One 23-year old Nigerian is taken out by passengers Alain Ghonda and Jasper Schuringa. That tells me that maybe what we need is to take the 3 oz bottles out of the little plastic baggies. Keep our shoes on and leave laptops in the bags. I'm pretty sure the marmalade I brought back from Barbados wasn't loaded.
But instead how about training all passengers on self-defense?

Let's forget forboding, irritating security at all airports worldwide that is obtrusive, annoying and evidently not working. Forget massive amounts of troops overseas for years on end that seem to result in Al-Quaida moving training camps to more fertile breeding grounds (read Yemen.)

Let's put our effort toward training every day Americans on thwarting threats. Rather than relying on ill-trained TSA guards or putting our faith in drones flown out of Nevada, how about we each take a little piece of responsibility in our own protection?

So here's my idea: a two-day "Get the Terrorist" program. Teach regular Americans how to identify suspicious activity, radicalism, fundamentalism and how to report it. Volunteers of course. This should also teach the difference between a regular Joe and fanatic. Obviously this isn't easy. But if you notice someone who checks no bags, pays with cash, wears a skull cap and shouts "Allahu AkBar" as he boards your plane, I might reconsider my trip to Aunt Bessie's and call my local FBI agent.

Of course, if all of this gets missed and you end up on the plane or bus or train or some very crowded public place that could cause mass casualties with a person like this, then the program should teach you how to take this person out. Just like Alain Ghonda and Jasper Schuringa had the nerve to do. Just like the Flight 93 passengers had the nerve to do. When it comes to terrorism on American soil, our military is not going to be there to do anything about it.

We, the American people, are going to be there. We need to be able to do something about it. And we need to be able to recognize the difference between a bottle of water and the PETN that this kid exploded in his pants - or at least be able to put it out, take him down and land the plane safely.

(Time Magazine article in the link above on What We Can Learn from Flight 253)