I’m taking the blogging challenge

Because I should be more “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do,” I have decided to take the WordPress PostAWeek challenge. (I was tempted by PostADay, but I realized that’s overreaching and bound to fail.)  I will be asking my Social Media students to blog about once a week throughout the semester — it’s the least I can do to keep up. I also want to develop my brand and my own writing style on the blog. Lofty goals.

I can take my own advice as well. I need to come up with about 10 topics to write on, so that I never can wail to myself: “I don’t know what to write.” With all I scan/read on Twitter, the topics should be endless anyway.

Here’s one of 52. Happy 2011



A full life, lived well

I had a great time at a wake service tonight.

That might sound odd, but I did. We were celebrating the life of Bette L. McMahon, wife of Gene, mother of six, grandmother and great-grandmother. A South Omaha girl.

We prayed, we laughed, we cried. Her son, Tom McMahon, gave a wonderful eulogy with stories and details and jokes that painted a lovely and loving picture of his mother.

A slide show that followed captured the young Bette and Gene — South High’s cutest couple — and family through the years.

Bette, you will be missed. But oh, what a legacy you have left behind.


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Sometimes you do things right and it still doesn’t work

I am not the handiest of people. I come from a long line of those who would rather ignore home repair or don’t hesitate to call someone to fix it or paint it. I admire those who tackle the projects themselves. Despite those genetic traits, I had thought I was OK at painting. Slowly, I’ve removed wallpaper and painted many of the rooms in my house.

But I always liked the wall paper in my downstairs bathroom. It was a little over the top for me, but it looked good.

I decided to paint that bathroom ceiling to get rid of some old water spots. I blithely taped the wall, spackled, sanded, washed down, primed and painted with good paint. I was feeling pretty good — though wondering how Michelangelo ever painted the Sistine Chapel.

Time to take down my carefully applied blue tape. Yikes. My wallpaper. The only wallpaper I liked in my house is coming with it. So instead of a nice white ceiling and nice wallpaper, there’s a white ceiling and some torn off pieces of wallpaper all around the ceiling line.

I’m mad at myself for not thinking that might happen. though most of the time, the wallpaper in my house has taken industrial-strength scraping to get it off.

This makes me think of writing in that sometimes you write, you follow the rules and the model, and yet your piece still doesn’t work. You can’t be too careful or too meticulous. Sometimes, I’m neither. It’s what I need to work on in many areas of my life. I’ll start with cleaning up all of the painting gear and go from there.

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It’s snowing!

I know it’s goofy, but I love when WordPress turns on the snow for the blogs during the holidays. So, thanks, WordPress.

From the other side of the classroom

I’m taking a class this semester, something I try to do every so often to learn a new aspect of journalism or design or, in this case, computer programming. The very basics of computer programming in Computers and Scientific Thinking.

I love taking classes because I love learning new things. My head actually hurt today when I was trying to wrap my mind around the speed of a computer processing chip.

Being a student has an added advantage in that I think it will make me a better professor. It’s good to take a seat in the student section and see what it’s like. I’m lucky to have a prof like Dr. Dave Reed. He is organized, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and funny.

I’ve found that having to do homework, study, pay attention in class and worry about tests makes me look at how I teach in a different way.  I know it will help make me a better professor.

How am I as a student? I’m engaged, talkative (there could be eye-rolling from some in the class as I raise my hand and comment on almost everything…), but I tend to be late (ouch… I really frown on that in my class).

Lesson learned.

It’s all in the family

My weekend was spent at a family reunion at my mom’s family’s cabin on a small lake right outside Kansas City. My sister Karen got the ball rolling for the reunion, which had been a relatively common event until seven years ago. Everyone got busy and it became difficult, if not impossible, to find a weekend that would work for the four siblings in my family and the six siblings and their kids who make up my cousins.

Some family business got us  all communicating this year.  Karen and I decided to just pick a date and meet up with whomever could make it. We had a terrific turnout with almost everyone able to make it on Saturday or Sunday. And, true to form in a big family, we had a medical emergency (hope Maggie is doing well without her appendix!), assorted football and soccer games and the dreaded homework — in short, life, that kept some away.

It’s fitting to write this post today because it’s my Mom’s birthday. She and her brother Barney spent time at the cabin while they were growing up, just as we did. I know she and Uncle Barney are smiling because all of us got together to share stories and laughter and great food. We exclaimed at how grown-up the little ones are, said prayers of thanksgiving and hope for a brother-in-law fighting cancer and laughed.

Thanks to Karen for arranging the date and Alisa for arranging everything else.

Lauren, the daughter of my cousin, Alisa, and me eating barbecue on Saturday.

Everyone gathered for a group photo on Sunday.

Social media 101

I had a great experience meeting with a fascinating variety of small business/retail store owners from Rockbrook Village. We talked social media and, as usual whenever I am teaching something, I always learn a lot.

The session, which was lively, reinforced my own idea that social media is a must for small businesses to build their brands and the idea that small training/coaching sessions to work with these talented but busy people may be the answer.  That’s what I want to start working on.

My own interest in entrepreneurial journalism is fed by these kinds of sessions too. Thanks again for asking me, Rockbrook!