Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gray Hair and Computers: A New Incompatibility?

I do not color my hair, so it has, for years, been making progress from blond to gray. I am in a minority. Only one of my friends has uncolored hair (her gray, nearly white, is prettier than mine), in my gardening circles there are a few more “gray-haired ladies”. Both my daughters, being Asian by birth and thus with black-crowned heads, color theirs; the elder started showing some gray when she was 20 or 21, the younger waited another decade. My granddaughter, who just got her driver’s license the other week, colors her hair from time to time (or, her mother does it for her), even though I am not aware that a gray hair has ever appeared on her head yet.

All this to emphasize the fact that my gray hair is surrounded by colored heads.

This “sign of old age” not infrequently leads to curious assumptions.

I am not Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but I get around a computer well enough to make good use of its capabilities and run a few businesses with its applications, not to mention the work it allows me to do for my clients.

Thus, it always amuses me a bit (O.K., it downright annoys me!) when I meet someone who assumes incapability has accompanied my gray-hair progression and care must be taken in communicating with me.

This week, I was as a horticulture conference and trade show: growers and wholesalers of trees, shrubs and other plants, mainly. Good event! I’ll be writing more about it on my gardening blog.

My math after the event showed me that only 54% of the exhibitors had web sites; 14% had no e-mail and 35% had AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo or other non-proprietary e-mail addresses. Yikes!

One of the booths I visited on the expo floor was staffed by a woman probably ten years or so my junior. She had nothing I wanted, but she tried to sell me anyway. Looking at the brochure she handed me, I asked “Do you have a web site”?, to which, solicitously, head inclined to one side, she responded with a question of her own: “Do you use a computer”?

Guess what – after I came home, and managed, somehow, to turn on a machine identified as a “computer”, and somehow to get onto a cyber space called “the web”, and, almost by miracle, typed in her company’s URL, what did I see? A message that said: “We are updating our web site; please check back later”. The company has a Gmail address (not listed in its brochure, but printed in the conference’s Exhibitor Handbook)

You know want I think? This is one of these do-it-yourself (DIY) web sites that do little but annoy its visitors. Will I go back and check it “later”?

Well, hell no! I’m thinking of going and coloring my hair instead - not! :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Does Lobbying Benefit You?

Women, you could be a member of an organization that works against your best interests!

A Congressional Bill that would provide for consumer protection in financial matters, such as credit cards, mortgages and other loans, has been approved in the House of Representatives, but is stalled in the Senate, where it is unlikely to emerge with much, if any, protection for consumers, because of furious lobbying.

Who are in the forefront of lobbying against consumer financial protection? Chambers of Commerce! Are you a member of a Chamber of Commerce? Find out if it is part (directly or indirectly, through its membership in larger associations) of this lobbying effort. You could be a member of an organization that works against your best interests!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Results Count!

Barb Giamanco, CEO of Talent Builders, Inc., received the 2009 Results Count award from Atlanta Women in Business today, with 30 women applauding her achievements over lunch at Maggiano's. Here she is (left), with BB Webb (2006 recipient), Peggy Parks (2008 recipient) and Grace Lopez-Williams, CPA (2005 recipient). Deborah Latham (2004) and Melissa Galt (2007 recipient) missed a wonderful event.

"Results Count" is Atlanta Women in Business's award program, established in 2004. It is annually given to a woman whose business has shown significant growth over the course of the preceding year and made a positive impact in the community. That certainly applies to Barb and her company!

Nominations for the 2010 award are now being accepted; request a nomination form from

Monday, January 18, 2010

Death and (In-)Dignity

I went to Barney’s funeral on Saturday. I did not know Barney, but his widow is the president of my writers’ club and I wanted to express my sympathy to her.

It was a very dignified affair. The evening before, at “visitation”, members of the U.S. Marine Corps had come to pay their respects (Barney had fought in World War II in Europe, a member of “The Greatest Generation”, in Tom Brokaw’s words), and on Saturday, the Marine Corps emblem inside the coffin’s lid, the pin on the deceased’s lapel and the American flag draped over the coffin’s bottom half all contributed to the sense of gratitude and joy Barney’s family must have felt for a long, well-lived life. It was a funeral cloaked in dignity.

Yesterday evening, on TV, there was the stark indignity of images from Haiti, with earth-moving equipment removing scattered bodies from the streets of Port-au-Prince. Limbs hanging out of large steel scoops before being dumped into trucks that would proceed to mass-grave, no-name burials.

It’s understandable that this has to be done, but does it have to be shown on television?

The United States is this hemisphere’s richest country and Haiti its poorest. Should a devastating earthquake, God forbid, strike an American city of equal size and population, is this what we would see on the evening news? Has our society become so insensitive that disaster victims are nothing more than this week’s trash? Or does being poor, black and dead bring with it an automatic deprivation of dignity? I wonder.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti; when News becomes Voyeurism

I do not need to see any more images of dead Haitians.

Yes, the earthquake has been terrible, hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost or impacted. A country that never had much going for itself lies in ruin. But television newscasts that are ¾ filled with news from Haiti, with anchors Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer on the ground in Port-au-Prince, accompanied by dozens of reporters and support staff and tons of equipment, are too much.

How is it that during the previous U.S. administration we were not even allowed to see flag-draped coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq arriving at Dover Air Force Base, but now we are served endless rows of twisted, mangled, bloated bodies on the streets of a Caribbean island on the evening news (not to mention the morning news and the midday news and the evening entertainment programs)?

This is too much. It is not necessary. The disaster struck. The recovery is going to be a Herculean task. Four hundred million dollars in relief aid has already been gathered or promised. And life goes on. Or not.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pocketbook Politics

A small group of (mostly) Republican women in North Fulton County has launched a grassroots movement to get fiscal conservatives elected to office and shun social conservative issues (such as abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc.) that have in recent years given Republicans a bad name, causing many former Reps to declare themselves Independents.

I met the group’s principal yesterday, and two of her cohorts, at the launch luncheon for Karen Handel’s bid for the governorship of Georgia, and expect to hear more from them in the weeks to come. If ethics and transparency are coupled with fiscal restraint, they might just have a winner!

Look for to go live soon.