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Musings on a hot summer day
Friday, July 13, 2018

Musings on a hot summer day

I’m not going to complain about the sultry weather as I have a strict “I can only complain about one season” policy (and, in case you’re not sure, it’s WINTER), but I will say that I finally relented (for today) and turned on my air. It hasn’t quite hit my second-floor office yet, but hope springs eternal.

Here, in no particular order, are a few things I’ve been thinking about this week.

The rescue of the Thai soccer team. I’m thrilled all the boys and their coach were rescued safely, but’s let not forget the sacrifice of the one man who didn’t make it home: Saman Kunan. I can’t find an image that isn’t subject to copyright, but here’s a tribute posted by his wife that’s heartbreakingly poignant. 

The end of the middle child. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the reality that if most families are having two (or fewer) children, that means there will soon be no more middles. Sure, they’ve been the eternal punching bag (ala Jan Brady), but did you know, for instance, that there have actually been more U.S. presidents who were middles, than oldests (the common stereotype which was likely perpetuated because—another fun fact–many of these were originally counted as “oldest” because they were second to a sister, who, of course!, didn’t count). I’m an oldest myself, but have a lovely middle child and am married to another lovely middle so I’d hate to see middles go the way of the passenger pigeon. Check out the story here. 

Middle school literature. Have you ever noticed that there are quite a few delightful books aimed at the age 12-ish crowd? (And I am not talking about you The Hunger Games, though I admit to having read the entire series).

My most recent middle school read: She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. It’s about a Beatles-obsessed girl struggling to find her way in the wake of a best friend’s discovery of the cool kids and I thought it was just delightful. Of course, it might be because I’m not a middle school girl and no longer share an address with any (i.e., not watching that kind of angst close up undoubtedly made it easier to read about), but check it out and see for yourself.

The reality that big ugly tennis shoes are apparently in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that big ugly tennis shoes are only in if you’re 20 and look like Karlie Kloss, but maybe I need to dig out the lovely orthopedic shoes from a few years back (it was following a foot injury, not a fashion statement) and see what happens. 

Some how I don’t think these are going to net me a lot of compliments.

The beauty of cold treats. This requires no explanation, but let me put in a plug for these delicious things: 

 

Keep cool and have a great weekend!

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Building a table with Ryan Gosling
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Building a table with Ryan Gosling

Ok, I’m just kidding (and apologies if you were all excited about the possibility that RG and I had bonded over the wood glue). But the guy who recently sold me the wood to build a table did have a certain Gosling nonchalance so he’s become “Ryan” in my mind (actual name: Marty).

Marty was one of the very nice employees of Heritage Timber who kindly moved approximately three tons of lumber (and I’m not kidding) to help my husband and me find the perfect boards to build our daughter a table. I would have expected Marty and his co-worker Thomas to be put out by having to move wobbly towers of old barn remnants via forklift, but they were both friendly and cheerful and assured us this was just another day at the lumber yard for them. 


One of the many towering stacks that Marty kindly moved.

Thomas and Marty hard at work. 

A perfect day to polyurethane…again and again and again.

Ta-da!

I felt a bit like Chip and Joanna Gaines as we repurposed old barns and embraced the chance to build something with our own two hands (though I must confess that “my own two hands” only wielded the debit card to buy the wood and the brush to apply the polyurethane).  Certainly beats an Ikea table and comes with a full set of memories to boot!

 

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One space or two?
Monday, May 14, 2018

One space or two?

When I learned how to “keyboard” (which is what we used to call “typing” when I was learning all about my friend QWERTY), you learned to put two spaces after a period. I don’t think I ever questioned it. I just did it.

Fast forward to the era of word processing and computers and all the rules changed and I learned that now we were supposed to only put one space. I reprogrammed my brain and adjusted to one space and, again, didn’t really question it just figured, “That’s how it is now.”

So, imagine my surprise when I recently learned that one space vs. two isn’t necessarily a given—and has actually created quite a lot of controversy. Who knew?

In an effort to answer the question once and for all, three psychology professors from Skidmore College have decided to employ science to address the two vs. one conundrum. 

You know you’re dying to know the answer. So click on through and find out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Long live School House Rock!
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Long live School House Rock!

Driving home mid-afternoon yesterday, I was sad to learn Bob Dorough, the mastermind behind School House Rock had died.

If you aren’t a child of the ’70s you might not be familiar with his catchy tunes that explained everything from how a bill becomes law to my personal favorite, “Interjections!” But take a few minutes to check him out (and sorry in advance for the ear worm that will undoubtedly follow).

 

 

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You had me at high falutin’
Monday, March 19, 2018

You had me at high falutin’

Think long form copy doesn’t sell? Although I haven’t actually purchased this watch (yet! I admit that I’m tempted to see what $29 buys me—because I don’t need a fancy watch with lots of extra zeros in the price tag darn it!), but this ad does stop me every time I see it. I know we’re supposed to have  a short attention span in this era of Instagram and insta-everything but for some crazy reason this ad appeals to me. 

A quick online search confirms that other writers/marketers have pondered the value of these ads too. And additional searching seems to indicate that I’d probably get my $29 worth—which doesn’t in any way imply this would be a GOOD watch, though it might be worth it just for the experience. Stop me before I pull out my Visa card!

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What would Frank do?
Saturday, March 3, 2018

What would Frank do?

Have you ever read the book Cheaper by the Dozen? I discovered this treasure sometime in elementary school—I’m guessing it was an assigned book, but I honestly don’t remember.

I fell in love with the Gilbreth clan and their loving but, I would imagine, incredibly hard to live with father, Frank. For those of you who have never read the book, Frank Gilbreth—along with his wife Lillian—was a pioneer of time and motion study.

Organizations hired the Gilbreths to study everything from factory floors to kitchens and determine better, more efficient ways of developing workflows and floorplans. Throughout the book, the twelve Gilbreth children were frequently enlisted to test out whatever their dear ol’ dad was researching, and there are some interesting stories about applying efficiency to a wide variety of things, including baths and tonsillectomies.

 

I’ve been thinking about Frank of late in the context of modern life and the reality that we’ve made things so efficient we’re in danger of turning into lifeless blobs—ala the humans in a movie I actually didn’t like at all, WALL-E

Alexa will certainly be no help here. Though I can imagine plenty of things I’d love “her” to handle for me—like complicated flight arrangements, can she do that yet???— perhaps I’m better off turning off my own lights or walking to another floor to see if I’m out of butter.

Thank goodness technology is also helping nag me to better health. Exhibit #1: my Fitbit.

That hourly buzz on my wrist reminds me to get up already and move around. And I find myself looking for ways to be less efficient  just to push myself to achieve—or, glory be! surpass—my daily 10,000-step goal. I might not be making the ghost of Gilbreth happy, but my heart says “thank you!”

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Celebrating our fair state—check out my new book!

The pressure was on when I got this assignment: Capture the highlights of what makes Wisconsin great in 48 pages at a 4th grade reading level.

But I rose to the challenge and the results just arrived courtesy of my friendly UPS driver. If you need any fun facts about Wisconsin, I’m your (wo)man for at least a few days until my brain is filled with other random facts about who knows what.

Thanks for the opportunity Scholastic!

Want to see what else I’ve written for kids? Check them out here or at my favorite place for books—your local library!

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Want to watch me (potentially) embarrass myself for a good cause?


No, it’s not a dunk tank—which I intend to NEVER subject myself to unless it would deter a national incident of some kind—it’s Madison Reading Project’s READ(Y) To Wear Fashion show on Feb. 10 at the Concourse Hotel.

Participants create and model a garment made out of paper—sort of the local version of Project Runway famous “unconventional materials challenges. 

I’m playing a very small role in designing a garment—local graphic designer extraordinaire Corin Frost is doing the heavy lifting there (thank you Corin!). But I will be subjecting myself to the potential of long-term embarrassment because I’ve offered to be the model. (A big “thank you” to my sister for attempting to help me learn how to “model walk,” although she was completely unsuccessful at helping me avoid bursting into laughter).

Want to experience this for yourself? Get a ticket today! You’ll be helping a great local charity (who doesn’t love to help get books into kids’ hands???) and sharing a memorable (but, hopefully, not too memorable) experience with me! 

 

Practicing my twirl.

Skirt prototype (my design contribution).

Thank you technology—courtesy of my lovely husband—for enabling production consistency.

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Proof that a picture’s worth a thousand words

As someone who makes their living because people still believe there’s value in using words to communicate (thank you clients!), I should probably be bemoaning the increasing tendency to use graphics instead of words.

But I couldn’t help but think this article (from a 2002 issue of Martha Stewart’s magazine—an “artifact” courtesy of the library’s magazine recycling box) could have benefited from a few well-placed photos.

Please Martha, just a couple pictures!

I don’t love to iron in the first place and the idea of keeping this article handy while I attempt to get the wrinkles out of a dress shirt? Just not gonna happen!

Of course, who even needs photos when you can just jump right to video? I plan to only wear no-iron-required sweaters for the next six months, but once it warms up again, I’ll be all set with this:

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In the spirit of the season…
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In the spirit of the season…

This caught my eye during a cold Sunday night walk down State Street with my dear husband. 

I love the little random acts of outreach that occasionally cross our paths if we keep our eyes open for them.

 

What could you use a little more of?

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Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

I love to learn about new things. And I love to tell a good story. Let’s get together and tell yours!

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