October 11, 2003

proud mama

What does jeneane do when she's not doing Tech?


I wrote the copy for 18 sections and the homepage in about 10 days. That is why I've been, well, somewhat cranky lately. Glad to see it's up and looking good. I will never look at my crummy house the same way again.

note to self: Save up for cabinet refacing. As soon as we get rid of the ant infestation in the kitchen, and of course buy Jenna a private education, that is.

October 10, 2003

Skool Daze

One of those mouth-open drives to school with Jenna today. Every now and then, the voice from the back of the van says something that freezes me in mid drive--I know my reaction by now. Foot releases from the accelerator and I become a three-second statue. Whiz bang the kid pinged my mind.

Today's conversation focused around her interactions with some little girls from her kindergarten class on the playground this week--or at least on the surface that's what it was about. One five-year-old in particular has had a mission the last two days of trying to make Jenna feel shitty in the way some little girls (especially) do so well: "I'm not your best friend." "She's not your best friend!" I've been around enough of them to know that this zinger is the weapon of choice for little girls. No matter who says it to whom, or why, or when, one of them ends up crying.

anyway, I talked with Jenna as I drove about her experiences last year at Montessori, and reminded her of similar experiences, and how she sucessfully handled the same kind of experiences there, and even ended up being friends with some of the girls who started out being mean. And I talked to her about what a "good" friend is and how good friends don't try to hurt each other, and how Jenna is a good friend to the friends she has.

I finished it off with, "Jenna, just be yourself, honey. You know yourself. You make friends wherever you go. Just be who you are."

She says, "I can't be."

I say, "Why not?"

She says, "The teacher."

I say, "What about the teacher."

She says, "I have to be her.

[[foot off the accelerator]].


"I have to BE the teacher. She wants us to be EXACTLY like her. She wants us to say what she says and do what she does. She wants us to be her.


Captured and interpreted in the mind and voice of a six-year-old who notices this for one pretty simple reason. The Montessori experience is the opposite of institution. In a Montessori classroom, learning is self-directed. The teacher plays the role of "facilitator" not teacher. Children choose their own work (and it is called work), take it to a table, do their work, return the materials so the other children can use them next. The Montessori classrom is quiet motion. It is a non-choreographed dance of learning, with the teacher adding value only where needed. It's child+materials+older children helping younger children.

Montessori is very much like blogging.

This is why it was so evident to Jenna during these first few weeks the contrast between where she'd been and where she is.

The institution of public education cannot be like blogging. I get that now. Although I have promises that this new school with its own curriculum approved by the board, not the State, will not behave like a regular public school. But how can it not?

Yes, we have further stepped up our efforts here at home. You have no choice with Jenna as your child. She demands to learn. And I know that her most important learning has and is taking place right here.

But what of our public schools? What of children in kindergarten who get the message that mirroring is the way succeed. Who learn early on not to be themselves, but instead to "be who we need you to be."

What about all of them.

October 08, 2003

Note to self

Take this to group therapy: anniversary response strong recently.

I realized after heading home this evening, and only just three seconds ago while sniffing around the archives there, that RGE turned two yesterday. Happy birthday ya'll. Anyone up for a pig roast?

Going Gonzo

I could stay here this week and ride my hits with some powerful posts, suck up some of that good PR juice I've been getting, ride the education wave, maybe push myself up into that 7 out of 10 Google Page Ranking slot so coveted by the hitmakers.

Or I can go home.

I'm going home.

I'm going to play and write odes to Shelley, or maybe not do anything at all, except read Marek. I'm going to goof off and do what matters here.

It's time to dust off the old homestead. Can't afford not to. You'll see.

You want in, email me.

From the Gonzo Engaged sidebar:

"In the meantime,
the time of our lives,
all we have is intuition
and stories
to try to make sense of the world,
to provide some sort of vision
of where we're at
and where we may be headed.
But that's not so bad.
As a species,
it's all we've ever had."
-Chris Locke

see you soon.

That Love Hate Thing

Whenever I get disgusted about weblogging, where I see it going, and where I hoped it wouldn't go, I do one thing consistently: I go home.

I go back to my roots, return to the lake, that grey-blue place I started with one tiny pixel in 2001 that became the first team weblog on blogspot. Who cares about firsts? Not me usually. But I care about how old the place is and how longstanding the relationships are with the people who made their home there. And still do. For many of us, Gonzo Engaged was our first home--the blog that came before most of the Class of 2001 had their own blogs.

I love that place still and because of.

When I hate everyplace else in blogspace, even this place, and when I despair over what the same passionless boring been-there-done-that bullshit small-dicked Institution jockeys want to bring here, I go back there.

And that blog opens its big fucked-up-templated arms, and says HEY! That blog, where every member is an administrator which provides no end to fucked up formatting and lost shit, is home. That blog is honest. That blog reminds me:

Remember joy? Remember passion? Remember outrage? Remember when VOICE was supposed to be the antidote to institution? Remember why we came here in the first plalce? Remember that the solution is poetry? Remember what institution looks like? Remember what it feels like? Remember how it ate your brain the firist time around? Remember what business as usual looks like? Remember that shit?

Another reason the place still feels like home is that He's usually waiting there.

He's a citizen now, you know. Consider that. America finally got clued.

How bout you?

AKMA, Michael O'Connor Clarke, Hernani Dimantas, christophe ducamp, Mike Golby, Denise Howell, Chris Locke, Steve MacLaughlin, Marek J, Kevin Marks, Tom Matrullo, Frank Paynter, Helen Razer, Doc Searls, Jeneane Sessum, George Sessum, Tom Shugart, Gary Turner, David Weinberger.

Note: Links to many blogs above are outdated. You people are all administators over there. Get off your butts and change your own links.


Tom Terrific

What he says.

Public School Blues (Clues)

We generated some very fascinating and impassioned (my favorite kind) of conversation over here the other day with my post about going head to head with the Principal at Jenna's new school.

We picked this particular school (rather than the "traditional' traditional public school right around the corner) because we thought it would offer us an opportunity to get a smart montessori graduate six-year-old (whose birthday just missed the very-firm first grade cut off date in Georgia) out of Kindergarten and into first grade. This particular public school is of a self-directed flavor, so, therein, thought I, was my hope for having a say.

What we got was two months of the runaround.

So we met with the Principal, guidance counselor, and I'm not sure what the other one was, on Monday to express our dissatisfaction over what our child wasn't learning, and WAS learning, in their midst. To discuss her growing frustration at being stuck listening to lessons from two years ago (for her) without an opportunity to help the younger children ("my teacher says, thank you jenna but I don't need your help..."), thereby turning an enthusastic learner into an increasingly discontented kindergartener.

The meeting was absolutely, positively exhausting.

Several times in front of them I turned to George and said, "Are you sufficiently beaten down yet?"

I felt as if we were buying a Buick.

George held the bad cop role="Just move her to first. Why are we wasting time here? You're going to lose her."

I held the angry but open to discussion role="So what are you planning to do and by what date?"

At one point, the Principal pretty much told us, in her nicest southern drawl, that we should find the best place for our child. I said, "Can you translate that? Are you telling us to move her to private school, and is that the kind of decision you'd be happy with?" Then I went on to explain the reasons I chose this school in the first place. She backed her demure southern ass right off.

We made a good, if not exhausted, team during the meeting.

In the end, after an hour and a half back and forth, examining her reading comprehension and test results, they agreed to let her go to First Grade for reading and math work, and to re-evaluatae where she's at with us at another meeting in two weeks.

Beyond the interesting and facinating themes on education that run like a current through posts and comments like this, I couldn't help but consider how blogging played its part in that meeting.

I told George on the way home, if the discussion around the situation, and resulting encouragement from bloggers who commented, hadn't happened before our meeting with the school officials, I fear I might have backed down about half way into the meeting.

But I didn't.

One--although not the only--reason was that I kept hearing the words of Elaine and Yule, Stuart, adamsj, Trevor, Brooke, Michael, BMO, Jeremy, and the illustrious Mr. Paynter.

This is NO small cast of characters!

And in the back of my mind, playing like a virtual "you go, girl" theme song, were all of you. I was conscious of not only not wanting to disappoint our daughter, myself, and the very principle of the matter (not principal, mind you), but I didn't want to let down the bloggers cheering for us that morning, cheering for Jenna to get back some of that school-inspired fire she's known for. And, cheering for VOICE versus INSTITUTION--our ongoing battle HERE.


That is intense.

You were there with us. I knew I had to come back and report on what happened. And I was damn sure not going to come back empty handed.

So thanks to those who offered their insight. The information of all flavors was appreciated, considered, and is STILL playing a part in my emerging understanding of what I can expect and what I can as a parent of a school-age child in this country. Understand that we haven't "won," but we have lengthened the battle and learned a heck of a lot from the fight.

RageBoy Develops New Google Game


Since I've never met "That Asshole Dave Winer," I cannot confirm for you whether Dave is just superficially an asshole OR whether the layers of his assholedness run deeper. (If you didn't know, there are many variations of assholes. I would link to a site demonstrating this phenom, but that'd be kind of gross).

The point of this post isn't to determine if that asshole Dave Winer deserves his new(?) moniker or worse.

It's really to say that the pig picture at the end of RB's post is perhaps the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life.

Shelley, I think if you print out the pig picture and hang it by your bedside post-surgery, your healing time will speed up by multitudes. If only because you will want to have the necessary vim and vigor to run screaming from your room.

MAN OH MAN, you gotta love blogging. Not only does the emperor have no clothes, but he has a penis head too.

Sooie! Sooie!

"For those of you who do not know, a razorback is a skinny, long-legged, half wild, mongrel hog with a bad disposition."


October 07, 2003

I need to be working, but instead I'm thinking about my inference from a conference

Two nasty deadlines in the next two days, and this afternoon I slept.

I slept this afternoon.

Now I'm majorly screwed, and I'm majorly sucked into blogging and reading blogs in some sort of proxy-blogger-con fever.

But I don't want to talk about the CON ference (CONflict CONman CONgame CONtrary). Instead I want to ditch the CON and put an IN up front.

IN for inclusion
IN for inside
IN for Internet
IN for intent

So, onto talking about what I inferred from not attending bloggercon.

First, I somehow feel as if I know everyone I would have met a lot better than if I had not not attended at all.


And I'm trying to figure out why, since I, you know, didn't go.

Maybe it felt live, and not memorex, because unlike a lot of the other cons, this con had bloggers writing as much about the periphery action as they did the wineriphery action.

In other words, I learned more from what people wrote about their INtersections with one another than I did reading the blogscripts of the sessions, or than I ever could have as one person with two eyes.

Reading the goings on in real time, it seemed to me like living hyperlinks were jumping all over The Berkman Center.

bing, bing, leap, leap.

From Elaine, I learned that AKMA had a blast with SI and that they are a special father and a special son.

From about 100 people, I learned that Halley Stealth Discoed Joi.

I know David, Doc, and Chris sat together at dinner one night.

And apparently Frank Paynter is the new babe magnet. (Talk about stealth!)

These are the things I care about as a blogger.

Esther Dyson said it loud and proud here. (I'm thinking Esther's not the "you go, girl" type, but if she were, I'd high five her and do the bump a couple three times for what she shared with us in her "attention divide" post.)

Read Esther. I think matter moves fastest at the periphery, doesn't it?

I really need to get to work now.


Betsizzle Devine Is in the House!!!!!!!!!!!

Brilliant. Just brilliant. If ConBlogger did nothing else, it sent the traveling trubadors of blogging back to their keyboards with an amazing extra sizzle to their writing, and some stunningly hystericizzle posts.

Now put your hands in the air...
wave em round like you just don't care...

I need to get out more.

In case you're wondering

Michael O'Connor Clarke is an incredibly smart, brilliant-even, marketing/PR strategist, with a sense of humor that knocks your knees out from under you. I learned that in our too-brief phone conversation yesterday.

He's also considering becoming "A Reefer".

This where Michael's Bio lives.

I don't want you to hire him.

No, I really don't. Not yet.

I am so selfish I scare myself.

You see, I want MOCC to collaborate with me on something reaaallly big and sarcastically biting.

That is, I want his brain for myself. Problem is, I can't pay him.

Can't even pay me.

So, the right thing for me to do is to tell you that if you are looking for one of the smartest business heads who is tapped into spontaneously generating micromarkets on the Net, someone who happens to know how to sell, market, position, spin-when-necessaray, THINK, and, most importantly, HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION, then, go ahead. Hire his ass.

I dare you.

MOCC and JDS on Billability - aka The PR Firm Ate My Brain

For a chucke, here is a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder humor for ex agency/firm/consultancy POWs...

I relate it here, also, billing as I type, I assure you (she looks over her shoulder):

Jeneane to MOCC

Are you billing now?


yet? Are you billing yet?

are you...



How about now?

Right now--are you billing?

Right now?

I mean, billing.

Are you... billing?

Okay, now are you?

You know, billing.

Are you?

No really.

Are you billing now?

MOCC to Jeneane

Actually I just billed ALL of the time spent typing up that story to one of your clients. What was that docket code again?

And now I'm off to pick up Charlie from school. I intend to bill the walk there to...um...let me see - perhaps one of H&K's clients. And the walk back to...oh, I don't know - how about an FH customer? That should do.

I hope you're billing for reading this.

And for thinking about reading this - and for thinking about billing while you're reading this thinking about reading this and thinking about billing for thinking about reading this.

Are you billing this?

And how about this?

Is this pixel billable? Can we claim that one? How many dots per inch can we apply 20% markup to?

October 06, 2003

All Sea Loving Bloggers, Dig This.

I was talking to a colleague and friend today who has a client she is jazzed about. I blinked on the other end of the phone, having long forgotten what excitement of most varieties feels like.

My first thought was: oh dear.

I know what it takes to get enthused these days. The bar for enthusiasm among PR folk has been, um, shall we say raised a bit since the dot-com frenzy when everything was exciting at first, but then nothing mattered in the end. We are now a skeptical (read: paranoid) bunch. Suffice it to say, I didn't know what to expect.

Then she told me what has to be one of the strangest stories I've heard in a long time.

She's working with the partner company of an organization called RBDG, an international non-profit group that is helping restore ocean ecosystems. In case you didn't know, reefs are in big trouble, as are the marine creatures that rely on them.

That's interesting, and pretty neat, but it's not the thing that got me excited. And yes. I did. Get excited.

The story that got my attention was about a group of college friends -- and fellow divers -- who decided they could help restore these natural reef formations by making these rather strange looking "Reef Balls," which are apparently giant environmentally-friendly cast concrete balls with holes in them.

As I understand it (and understand I could be wrong--I haven't read the whole site yet), these big balls can weigh up to 4,000 pounds, and they're lowered into the water by crane onto the ocean floor, where over months and years, they regenerate as a place of life and activity for sea creatures. These patented reef balls have been deposited in ocean locations around the world.

Here's where the story gets really interesting. The father-in-law of partner Don Brawley wanted to be buried at sea, and asked Don to put his remains into one of these reef balls so he could be around some of his favorite grouper and red snapper in his final resting spot.

Apparently, the son-in-law wasn't sure this was legal, for one thing, but after investigating it learned that since ash is a component used in the concrete mixture, well, human ash could fit the bill. However they did it, they got the legal go ahead.

So the Atlanta-based company called Eternal Reefs has now included the cremated remains of some 200 people in memorial reef balls that have been returned to the sea.

Apparently, although more and more people are choosing cremation, many relatives don't actually make it around to the next step--you know, doing something with the ashes.


"My dogs!" I say. "We have three dogs in tins. I know what you mean."

The excitement hits home.

Jazz, Peanut, Ikea. $150 per dog we've spent on the cremation of our pets over the 20 years George and I have been together and have been pet owners.

Three tins. Dog tags on the top. We've moved two of them from Rochester to Atlanta, then three (after Jazz died) from one house in Atlanta to another. They've been packed and unpacked more often than I'd like to think about.

It's gotten to be one of those sick inside jokes some couples amuse themselves with. We're a morbid lot anyway, but how can you not laugh: "Honey, don't forget to pack the dogs!" (muffled laughing)

Then one of us starts whistling from the other side of the garage, you know, a "here doggie, here doggie" whistle.

It's really not right, but it's what happens when you've lost enough animals and enough time has gone by that your grief eases into humor. Or at least ours does. Thank God.

But the truth is, in all the places we've lived with our dog tins, we've never felt right about "leaving" the ashes in any of those places. No place really felt like a "place" where everything tied together--a place you'd like to think would remain undisturbed, a place you'd like to think back and remember the dogs enjoying.

I started thinking about that old half-lab jazz dog, and how she might feel pretty good taking one last swim.

So I ask my friend, do they do pets too?

And they do!

Check it out. For $395 all three dogs (you can mix pet remains) can land someplace that makes a difference--AND you get to ride out on the boat and watch them lower the reef, you get to go ahead of time and help cast the ashes in the reef ball if you want to, and you get something that tells you where the reef is (GPS location) in case you want to head back there one day.

Call me crazy, but for someone who's been moving around the ashes of animals I loved dearly for the last 15 years, it sounds like the coolest idea on earth (or at sea).

If we do it, you better believe I'll blog it.

October 05, 2003

a voice of reason?

Oliver Willis has a good post, post bloggercon, on the (somewhat annoying--that's my addition) tendency of bloggers to take ourselves a bit--uh--too seriously, and our tendency to generalize our personal transformations to the world at large.

In other words, slowwww down bloggercon disciples: that pesky real world still turns, and most of it doesn't blog.

I think I do a double take on the topic Oliver writes about at least three or four times per day. One minute, I think blogging is nothing short of the most important revolution of our lifetime. The next, I think it's a self-serving playground for people with the misfortune of being stuck working on computers all day for a living.

But if you made me pick a side in the "blogging is changing the world" and "blogging is just blogging" debate, I have to come down on the "blogging is changing the world" side. Even if it is just a million people at a time, and even if it is still today a white majority geek-heavy somewhat elitist activity.

Yes, even if.

Because in my mind, blogging is the most open, free, passionate, cross-cultural media for conversation--short of being in 26 places at one time--that we have at this moment, in this world. It is the most efficient and meaningful way to connect you to me, and me to him, and him to her, and.....

More than for any other reason, blogging is changing the world as an exercise in voice, an exercise in giving ourselves permisision to speak and in getting others used to hearing us.

I think blogging is changing the world one post at a time, but not because of the individual posts themselves. I think you have to look at it outside in, from the spot at which the voice resonates backwards to the source. The power is at the point of connection, and in tracing it back to the originators, and yes, in seeing those personal transformations too.

Hyperlinked voices can change the world at the point of sound. And what else can?

There are a million (so we hear) blog points right now, so then multiples of millions of intersections. How can that many points of conversation/information/poetry/hate/love/passion/power not influence the world in some way? My money's betting that they can, and that they are.

To me, then, the power in blogging to change the world isn't so much what we say, or what the Dean bloggers say, or what the Warbloggers say, or what Oliver or I say.

The power of blogging is in the saying.

So says me.

People like this

I have so much respect for Yule Heibel and her post about distance learning, home schooling, and the problem with age-segregating kids within the learning environment. You should check the post out if you are the least bit interested in how the other--and I would say better--half lives.

I have much respect for Yule's writing, not to mention her accepting the challenge to home school two children. If you have any doubt about how well the kids are keeping up, check out their blogs, linked off Yule's blogroll.


I am humbled--and inspired to kick some principal ass tomorrow.

Most of all, glad I found Yule's blog!