Friday, January 18, 2008

Me, A Sports Writer?

Those who know me wouldn't consider me a sports enthusiast. I'm one of those people who comes up with excuses why not to attend most popular sporting events. I look forward to the Superbowl commercials, I pretend not to know the difference between soccer and lacrosse, and I refuse to watch any basketball except the Kansas Jayhawks (who somehow revived their football team this year in surprise to many). This is simply because it's more of a religion than a sport when you grow up in Kansas.

Well, now I'm going to be reporting about the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships next week for BlogHer in their Sports and Fitness area, and I realized that technically makes me a sports writer. Who would've thought? As a freelance writer, I've written about skating before for newsletters and here (see skating category; see also my post about last year's nationals), but this will be my first professional project and I can't be more thrilled.

I've been skating since I was five, I competed some as a kid and then more as an adult including winning medals at national and international events in my age and test category, and one of the most major accomplishments of my life was passing my Adult Gold Figure Skating Test. That took a lot of time and dedication. I've worked behind the scenes on countless figure skating events, I've done a little judging, and now my two year-old is taking to skating so I'm moving into the role of skating parent. I understand most of the angles and pressures involved in the sport as well as the physical mechanics involved and the number system as to why some things are ranked with more difficulty than others. So I'm looking forward to infusing some of my knowledge into what I write about the event.

For the Nationals TV schedule, current news and an online skating challenge, check out the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) site. And to get more coverage of the event for figure skating fans, it's inexpensive to join and see the events from the whole 2007-2008 season online.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Happened to Customer Service?

I remember the days when you could call someone on the phone and ask them about your computer software or hardware or your ISP account. (OK, so I can still do that for my ISP but it's an independent entity and that's why I use it.) Why is it that these days you can dig, dig, dig on web sites and not get to any actual human responders about questions? I have this eternal curse of being able to crash pretty much anything and nobody ever knows why. I'm a great beta tester and bug reporter, but it should be a two-way street.

I tried making some changes in my Blogger template for this blog tonight, for example, and it royally puked. I have no idea why - well I have a couple of ideas, but still the software shouldn't hang like this. I tried the changes in another browser, same problem. I went to the Help page and there's no human help or link to human help anywhere - no email address, no phone number, no online chat, nothing. Is that what they mean with "you get what you pay for"?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Caucuses and the Zone Diet

40/30/30 is how the Zone Diet reads - 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein. That's how the Iowa caucus results came across for the Democrats. 38% for Obama, the sugars - what brightens our eyes, what gives us energy and motivates us. 30% for Edwards, the fats - buttering us up, telling us what we want to hear about change. 29% for Clinton, the proteins - for substance, strength and stability.

The truth is we need all of these things. Every diet is different and you can agree or disagree with them, but the Zone Diet immediately came to my mind when I saw the results tonight from the caucuses because the Zone Diet prescribes the ratio of 40:30:30 to keep the human body working. Iowans showed us tonight that they want a mix too.

Whomever will win the Democratic nomination (and from my POV, hopefully the general election) needs to come across with some sugar - inspiring speeches, some fat - issue substance, and some protein - concrete plans for how to achieve the change so craved by the majority of American voters. (I'm just projecting here based on polling, turnout thus far, and the current administration approval level.) I know it sounds silly comparing politics to dieting, but our country has been yo-yo'ing for a while now and we need to stop.

Also posted at here at

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Do Iowa Caucus Results Mean Anything?

It's all about money and surviving through February. The top three in each party will keep raising the money and the rest are basically out at this point. Some will stick around just so their voices are heard, but this is when Dodd, Biden, and sadly Richardson will say goodbye. (CNN has announced Dodd and Biden are already officially out.) It's all about Obama, Clinton and Edwards. We knew Edwards would do well in Iowa because he did well in '04. But that doesn't mean that the election has gone to Obama. He won the MySpace primary, but that's because his campaign has been working hard on MySpace since day one and most of the others haven't been giving it much thought. So my feeling here is that the race is still up for grabs. Iowa gave Edwards the momentum he sought, but whether it'll give him the money or the votes in other states to keep him alive remains to be seen.

I just watched Obama give his speech as winner of the Iowa caucuses - he's such a great speaker, but it remains to be seen as to whether he can actually deliver. But the good news is the race is finally on. All of these months of campaigning the past year are finally producing results! We're steps closer to either our first woman or first black president. Time to re-engage and start watching the sparks fly.