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Archive for April, 2009

I’m taking a break from headlines, horror stories, and other fears that are seemingly being blown out of proportion. I happened to receive an email this morning from a friend of mine, Anita Singh Soin. She and her husband have just posted a new website for their company, Ibex Expeditions,  highlighting the eco tours they provide in some of the most majestic places in the world.

Rated “amongst the best adventure travel companies on earth,”  by National Geographic Adventure, I just have to talk about them here. They are one of the most environmentally committed couples I’ve met (and working for a tourism association for fifteen years, I met many!). They truly care about this planet of ours and having heard how eco-conscious they are from people who went on their tours, I have to applaud their efforts.

Have I ever been on one of their tours you ask? No — time, distance and being out-of-shape my excuses. I have been to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other parts of that world though and know the beauty, not only of the scenary, but of the people (check out my Travel, Travel, Travel blog).  I consider myself very lucky and expect to go back someday, maybe even start working out to get into better shape to take one of those treks…

Meanwhile, I’m not going to let fear be my decision maker, either for where I travel, or whom I meet. I’m a firm believer in taking precautions and  being pro-active to learn what I need to do/watch out for, but not in just refusing to try something, go somewhere, or shake someones hand because of headlines in the news.

Speaking of headlines, I can’t resist, here’s one that’s worth a read! Wage Gap Study arrives in time for Equal Pay Day.

“A state-by-state analysis of male and female earnings provides fresh fodder for today’s Equal Pay Day. Among women with college degrees the widest wage gap was in Nevada. The widest wage gap overall was in Wyoming.”

After you check out your state and realize how much less money a woman makes than a man, go check out the IbexExpeditions web site, there’s nothing like dreaming of how you would have spent that money you would have earned.  Besides, ecotourism is still a great thing and something we all should focus on a bit more when we can. Enjoy.

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Blog for Fair Pay

Blog for Fair Pay

I’ve decided that every sibling remembers how their parents raised them as though they came from a different set of parents, so matter that their ages may be only a year or two apart. I’ve three, two sisters and a brother, and I tell you listening to our stories, you would have thought we were raised on different planets, let alone by the same two people.

Even on the issue of equality, the differences are striking. My brother, being the boy and the eldest, got a set of “you must do’s” on the grand scale, go to private schools, etc., etc., however seemed to be left alone on the day-to-day to do whatever he wanted, simply because, “oh you know, he’s the son”.  My two sisters also received a road map for their lives, much centered around the right social circles and both eventually rebelled in their different ways.

As the youngest and as a girl, I didn’t get spoiled but I did get left alone, which in my mind was just as good. I was the observer, watching the trials and tribulations of my siblings, thankful that I escaped a lot of their “must dos”, but dreaming of equality  none-the-less. Equality?? You bet, except I didn’t call it that. I called it freedom to do, for example, what my brother got to do simply because he was the son (working for above 25 cents an hour babysitting vs. $5 for his lawn mowing).

To be honest, I didn’t think again about equality in that sense until a lot later when I decided my years of reading mystery novels should help me when applying to the FBI. I wrote away for an application (no Internet in those days) and upon receipt was stunned to learn that I would not be an acceptable candidate  because I was under 5’7″! I was devastated, thinking my mind and its capabilities ought to stand for something, but no go.  In today’s language they would have called me “height challenged” I would imagine, I won’t repeat what I called it.

As I entered into the workforce, I realized time and again my male colleagues, some less able than I, often made two or three times the salary than I simply because they were men. That this form of discrimination still occurs in 2009 is what’s shocking today. I was telling a table of men and women at a conference recently of the fact that on average, women make only 78 cents to the dollar a man does, even less when you combine race with gender. A man replied, “well you all got the vote didn’t you.”  Yikes! I think he was looking for a laugh, but no one else, man or woman, even smiled.

Who knew that equality would still be an issue in the new millennium? Why is it just a dream? Although I guess one could call it a nightmare given the fact it is still prevalent not just in the United States, but throughout most of the world. What can we do? We can take action, we can spread the word, we can stop the need for Equal Pay Day. Will you?  And if you tweet, please raise your voices with us and include #fairpay and #aauw. Thanks!

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Swine Flu Vs. ?

Ever increasing media coverage on the possible swine flu epidemic has caused most conversations at work today to start with, “have you heard…?”. As a quick reference, I found this  HealthandSurvival.com blog that lists symptoms and precautionary measures. I do have to wonder if the medical profession is ready this time around.

Now I’m like the next person, I’ll likely quickly turn my head at someone coughing, wash my hands and wash my hands, etc., but I also want to keep it in perspective. More people are killed by drunk drivers, by suicide, by other less spoken about illnesses than because of the swine flu. Just because it has reared it’s ugly head in Mexico, will we see discrimination against all things Mexican rise? Yes, I want everyone to be cautious and be proactive with their health, but no, I don’t want to see fear set in and reactions blown out of proportion.

Hopefully there will be  a rise of people going to the doctor’s early if they have any symptoms that match what is listed for the Swine Flu. According to a report I saw this morning, not going to the doctor or hospital early enough led to the deaths of some of the individuals.  That is a lesson we all can learn from, even as we send sympathy to the families.

Now if we could only get as much media coverage too about other issues that need attention and resources as well.  Let’s not make it swine flu vs. cancer or alcoholism, or other illnesses that don’t have such media impact. Keep it real, not hype.

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A recent article as disseminated by @welovecrowds this morning on twitter, reports on a finding by LexisNexis that there is a distinct gap between the Boomers (44 – 60) and Generation X (29-43) and Gen Y (28 and younger). I liked this article because while it reports on the findings, it also questions the analysis done. Who did they interview, a bunch of stuffy “lawyers” (love that!)? How did they come up with the finding that Gen Y spends 22.9 hours a day on social media? Guess they forgot what that age group would rather be spending 22.9 hours doing.

Per their age definition, I fit in the Boomer category. Per their findings, I fit in the Gen X with leanings toward Gen Y. I’m an inveterate multi-tasker, on my desktop at any given moment you can find Word, Excel, my organization’s web site, Yahoo, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, CNN, Google as I explore new sites and yet even Internet Explorer. In the evenings or weekends, you will also find me, if I’m at my computer at all, in at least three or four of those sites, plus others and now in Second Life too, where speaking of reports, the fastest growing demographic is 50 + (as with FaceBook).

Yes, I think there is a gap between the ages (isn’t there always), in the tech area. But I don’t think it’s as great as the study portrays. Much of the gap stems from how experienced a user is with different platforms and the obvious is the younger you are, especially since schools use so much technology these days, the more time and varied experience you have with these things. And it’s not just the laptop of course, it’s the smartphone (where I not only talk or web surf, but have at any given time at least a half a dozen books to read in case I’m stuck anywhere), it’s the MP3 device, it’s even the vacuum that moves itself (I’ve yet to get one of those, sigh).

I may be older, but my sense of exploration, whether new worlds in real life or via technology, is as keen as my niece’s who at 25 believes life without IMing would be like a pub without beer. The difference? I believe in active conversation with full attention, she believes in active conversation with one eye and two fingers on her phone. I’m getting used to it as I recognize it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t listen any less to me — well, any less than someone 25 ever listens to someone older. It’s just a different “listen” and that’s ok by me. In fact, I know that I’ve been the one she’s been exchanging e-chat with while at dinner with others, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

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Exploring this old/new world of social media, I’m finding numerous points of view around the pros and cons of a newish tool like twitter. Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes wrote of an interview she had with the inventors of Twitter, one of them Biz Stone.  I found myself chuckling at her attempt to belittle this new medium and loving Biz’s answers, the last in particular when she asks,

ME: I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account. Is there anything you can say to change my mind?

BIZ: Well, when you do find yourself in that position, you’re gonna want Twitter. You might want to type out the message “Help.”

I learned of a new Twitter application (apparently there are thousands), Tweetmeme which shows you at any given time, which are the most popular tweets. Low and behold there was a tweet with a link to a response to Dowds NYTime article, from Bldg/Blog, an architectural based blogger who wrote, “In defense of how the other half writes, in defense of twitter.” So within a matter of hours of Dowd’s article, there was a full blown response from an unexpected audience (architects), that is making it’s way around the world via Tweetmeme.  Hmmm.. makes you get a sense of the power behind the tweet.

A tweeter (@real1) listed interesting links to news tweets that give news before it makes the headlines, including @cnnbrk, and @breakingnews. I like @fastcompany, @anncurry, @nytimeskristoff, and @greenbizdaily. As to other types of tweets, yes, I’m now following @oprah like millions of other people and also enjoy @aauw and @punditmom for information impacting women and girls; @cynthiadamour and @pinnovation for association leaders; @pattyhankins for great photography info; and @mashable for social media info. And these are just from being on twitter for a very short time.  There are thousands of twitterers  now and more to come, keeping up with them all is the real question.

Even in the short time I’ve been tweeting (@christytj) or following news or personal tweets, I find access to information I’m interested in but didn’t have to search for has multiplied exponentially. And that’s a good thing.

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About this time every year, we hear stories of mankind destroying pieces of  the planet most of us live on. Very few species destroy their nests, why does it take what some consider the most intelligent of them all to negatively impact the living areas of every other living being? The latest news, how tons of released drugs taint U.S. waters, shows us how out-of-control we continue to be, no matter how many Earth Days we have, decade after decade after decade.

The good news? Earth Day actually does some good. It brings attention to the seriousness of the situation, on corporate, governmental, nonprofit and individual levels. It forces action, through legislation, guilt and positive guidance. And we are tuning in to the need for education, information and “things we can do” by the millions.

Recently I received notice from the virtual world,  Second Life  (SL). Launching today is EcoCommons, a virtual location “designed for environmental organizations in the 3D world of SL. Developed by TechSoup’s Nonprofit Commons team in partnership with OneWord.net and OneClimate island In SL, EcoCommons provides a network for environmentally focused nonprofits to promote awareness, community-building and environmental education efforts in the virtual world and beyond.”

Huh? An environmentally concious element in the virtual world? Isn’t that where young kids go to play games, chat or do whatever they do in there? Not really. If you haven’t read the news about SL recently, you won’t know that the fastest growing population in SL are 50+ with six figure salaries. The Nonprofit Commons group itself meets weekly and holds event after event to educate us on every type of cause you can imagine – all for the good.

To recognize the importance of the thousands of individuals SL reaches, the launch of the EcoCommons today features a keynote speech by Jacqueline Chenault, New Media Specialist, U.S. House Select Committe on Energy Independence and Global Warmingand will be broadcast live from SL. The event starts at 11am PST, and activities will continue throughout the day and week as part of Earth Week Second Life.

Real Life, Second Life, my life – where ever we live, we all need to take responsibility for our home, and in this case, not just our house but the planet we live on. Let’s make it last for beyond a week or two, beyond the “fad” of today and incorporate it into our lives and our expectations. We should hold businesses accountable, something totally out of whack as we’ve seen only too recently. We should let our voices be heard on the highest levels. And we should practice safe . . . environment every day 🙂

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Having just come back from a fascinating Digita Now Conference, I’m all hyped up about using the Internet and its tools to communicate with family, friends, colleagues, members of my Association (AAUW), and even strangers – folks whom I don’t know but whom might enjoy reading something I’ve written.

Renewed energy finds me sitting down, getting comfy, fingers at the ready and then a giant pause as I realize if I do indeed use all those new communicating tools, I’ll be at my desk for hours before tackling my as they say in Second Life, my Real Life work.

Hmmm… Posting blogs, commenting on others blogs, twittering (at least 10-12 times a day to keep/get a following), Ninging (is there such a word?!), Evernoting (brand new), PageFlakes (new to me), setting up shop as part of the nonprofit community in SecondLife, Facebook, and of course what takes most of our online lives, email. How do you manage all of these?? As a writer, as a reader, as a professional?

By the time you realize that you have just started learning about social media, and the Digital Now conference taught me that with it’s #dn09 twitter code which found me turning into a twitterfiend, you realize that you need to figure out a way to manage all of these. And that’s just you the individual. Combine it with you the professional, you realize you need to know how to get the most out of these to help promote your mission, your product, your information.

Real life you ask? The family and friend stuff, , the chores, the phone calls and emails – the office, with its own phone calls, emails, and meetings that never end no matter how much you communicate via online tools. And sleep, we’re supposed to have at least seven hours of that somewhere in any given day.

One thing no one has yet figured out? How to make 48 hours a day worth of “to do’s” fit into 24 hours and still leave you sane. Please – any hints, let me know!

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