Friday, August 29, 2008

Eco Camera Bag Giveaway! $23 Value


Here's the deal. When we were at Eco Tuesday, (see previous blog and video) we got these great camera bags from a company called Lowepro. We thought they were cool. So even though it was really late and we were a tad tired, we were so excited that we analyzed them on the way home, and took note of the fact that they were so eco it was amazing. Here's the product description:

Terraclime 30 is a soft-sided, protective, multi-purpose pouch designed expressly for the eco-conscious, fashion-savvy consumer. It reduces environmental impact by virtue of its materials—over 95% recycled. All of the fabric is 100% post-consumer Cyclepet®: recycled 16 oz. PET bottles turned into sturdy, water-and-abrasion-resistant material (3.5 bottles in Terraclime 30). Features include memory card pocket, adjustable/detachable shoulder strap, belt loop, and double-loop hook closure (made of plastic regrind to help reduce waste). Multi-purpose styling makes it easy to carry compact point-and-shoot cameras as well as small personal electronics and gear. A portion of the proceeds from each bag goes to Polar Bear International (PBI) to help in efforts to save polar bear habitats from the impact of climate change.

So we decided in light of the polar bear issue and other factors, we really should share the joy, so we have 2 bags to give away. To be eligible, you must be a subscriber both to this blog, musingsbyapple.blogspot.com, and the carrie freelance e-newsletter, which you can sign up with on the home page for carriefreelance.com, you'll see, it's a Constant Contact kind of thing. All current and new subscribers as of September 30 will be eligible. Good luck to the winners! And hey, if you send us your photos with the camera bags featured in the photo, we will publish them on our blogs, etc.

Just a quick note on who we are:

Sunrise Advisors: eco consulting, small business services for sustainable businesses, including communications, marketing, coaching, income generation, etc.
Carrie Freelance: writing, editing, pr coaching, e-newsletters, web site content, content management solutions
Carrie's newsletter features guest interviews, movie and book reviews, online discoveries, and other interesting items, including why I love food and hate waiting on line.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Video! Eco Tuesday and Highlights of Guest Speaker Sheryl O'Loughlin, Founder of Nest Naturals



Sunrise Advisors (www.nonprofitsunrise.com), a client of Carrie Freelance, attended their first ever Eco Tuesday event in San Francisco the other night, a networking event that brings together leaders in green business. The event typically features a guest speaker, and then an inspired "let's make a circle," where all participants have one minute or less to say what they are passionate about regarding sustainability. I said my passion was in writing and communicating about sustainable issues, as part of the Sunrise mission! It was quite an interesting group, everyone from design and marketing firms, to independent consultants, accountants, recent college graduates, teachers, and of course, eco entrepreneurs.

The guest speaker, Sheryl O'Loughlin, was amazing. In fact, she was one of the best speakers I ever heard, as she described having moved from being one of the top execs at Clif Bar, to founding her own company, Nest Naturals, (20 million in venture capital) which brings sustainable foods together under one roof. She talked about everything from venture capital, to learning about packaging, to sourcing food, to going from inspiration to funding and the realization of a dream. She got a standing ovation and rousing applause, and what really came through was her dedication to sustainability and her honesty and integrity as she talked about the challenge of staying true to oneself in the face of business dilemmas.

The video includes segments of her fantastic speech, as well as a promo for the new eco camera bag giveaway we are launching. See details in the video and the next blog post to come for more details!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How Do You Handle Testimonials?

I recently had the pleasure of receiving outstanding testimonials for several projects I had completed. Yay! Even in this age of video, it was easier for me and more convenient for the client, I felt, to e-mail me written comments than for me to visit them in person and interview them for a video testimonial, although I realized I was sacrificing a "You Tube" moment in doing so, and relying on the fact that people will look on the testimonials tab on my web site, carriefreelance.com, if they want refererences. When it came to length, I asked for 1-2 paragraphs and ended up with longer comments, about 3-4 paragraphs, which matched some prior references I had already received.

When I started researching other web sites online and other businesses to see how they handled the testimonial issue, I found a lot of variety, including testimonials in quotes all over the home page, a separate link for video testimonials, and on mediabistro.com, for example, simple written quotes with the name of the author at the end and a photo of the writer. In some cases there were very detailed case studies, which got a bit long at times. In a workshop I attended today, the speaker suggested that if you as a business had a great success story, you should document it as a case study, and doing it on video is particularly effective.

How have you handled testimonials and what have you found to be most effective? Do you think video/You Tube is necessarily the best method, or is the written format just as good in some cases? Also, what do you do when you know you did a great job for your client but they continue to procrastinate and not send in the testimonial?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Micro-Writing the Latest Trend

An interesting article in last Thursday's New York Times discusses the latest trend in writing and publishing: micro-writing. Author Jeremy Kaplan writes "short is in," and cites several examples of six-word works, including the recently published, "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure," the rise of Twitter, and "a revival, on YouTube, of Weird Al Yankovic's (This Song's Just) "Six Words Long."

If 6 is the new, say 10, maybe 5 is the new six, and we'll all see our word counts newly reduced, and a general thinning in the literary marketplace. Is shorter better? When it comes to blogs, I have seen everything lately from one paragraph entries to significantly longer posts that take me a while to get through, which begs the question: how long does it take to really make a point, and do some topics lend themselves to longer articles or posts then others? Is this trend going to migrate to television, where we we suddenly start to see the five-minute news broadcast or the 5-minute Oprah? Maybe Rachel Ray will debut the five-minute meal, which would effectively eliminate takeout, which, we all know, takes at least five minutes just to decide what you want and pick up the phone. I'm a firm believer that some things will never change. That was 10 words, by the way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Crafts Show at Fort Mason Using IMovie



This is a different version than the previous blog, which used Animoto. I basically took clips form my Kodak camera, which has video capability, as well as the new Flip camera, and mixed them together. I also incorporated a slide show from .Mac slide show software/iPhoto. Wow! No wonder I'm tired! Music wise, I stuck with the Native American Soundtrack I had added to the movie, but kept the slide show music so there is a nice contrast. I'm pleased with how it turned out, but would like You Tube to improve their quality so the sharpness is there. I'd appreciate any feedback!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

American Crafts Show and Animoto-How to Make a Quick Video of an Event

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR-i3wxeZew

I attended the American Crafts Show at Fort Mason last week, and as an experiment used my new Flip video camera to do some interviews and shots. I ended up making still shots out of some of the interviews that were running too long, and then I used Animoto, the animation software I learned about at the You Tube Coding workshop, to do a quick video to send out. I also was able to upload my own music by using some music files I had converted to MP3 and saved on my desktop. Any questions?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Woody Allen, King of Nihilism, Quote About Fame and Fortune

When I was in high school, I wrote a paper about famous figures in modern culture who were nihilists, and used Woody Allen as the focal point. Nihilism, the idea that nothing really means anything, is sometimes chic and sometimes not, but always food for thought. So I wasn't surprised to see this recent quote from him. And while he certainly has done some controversial things in recent years, he is certainly a writer's writer, and for that matter a filmmaker's filmmaker, and he knows how to nail relationship nuances down and capture all of us in our most neurotic moments. Yay for that. So let's go to the movies and enjoy him for what he is, a great filmmaker and the ultimate capturer of relationship angst. In the meantime, here's a good depressing quote from the king of nihilism himself. Enjoy it while you're eating your Chinese takeout - alone or not.


"I remember years ago coming home after a great triumph with "Love and Death" and the girl in the apartment across still wouldn't go out with me. I was home by myself eating Chinese food out of a bucket, with nothing to do, watching television. It never means anything."


If you see the vicky christina etc. and want to add your review here, you're welcome to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to Prepare for Your First Video Small Business Introduction

Tomorrow is a big day! I am doing my first video introduction for my writing business, through one of my networking groups. There is going to be a professional filming crew, and I am eager to see how it's going to turn out. Having researched many videos in the last few months, I have seen many that I like, and many that I don't. Some people speak so fast you can hardly hear them. Sometimes the lighting is off, the backgrounds strange, or the images or sound of low quality or fuzzy. Here are some of the tips we are being given, as well as some of my own, to produce a successful one-minute video:
1. Type out your script beforehand in large type, and rehearse reading it out loud. Time yourself, and make sure it is within the one-minute time frame. For many of us, a minute is a lot shorter than it seems!
2. Be sure and smile throughout, and maintain eye contact with the camera. I have seen many videos with people looking off in all directions, and it really looks odd.
3. Keep water handy in case you get a dry throat.
4. Wear professional clothing as you would for a head shot or pro photo. Avoid distracting jewelry and for women, heavy makeup.
5. Try and get plenty of rest the night before the taping so you look alert and awake. I watched a video last year of a woman launching her own company. It was 1 am, and she looked and felt exhausted, and said so! I'm not sure how many clients you attract that way.
6. Arrange a professional background, even if you are in your home office or at your desk, and be conscious of what the viewer will see in the background. Ideally, you want a solid screen in the background as you would for photographer, so as to keep it simple and clean looking.
7. Speak slowly. We all have a tendency to speed up when we get nervous are are doing something new.

In my next post, I'll include a link to the video and some tips on what I learned, including regarding the camera work, lighting, etc. Wish me luck, and I'll keep you "posted."

By the way, if you've seen a small business video intro you really like, send me the link, I'm interested in what folks are doing.

Del Monte and Social Networking...Who Knew?

While the value of social networking tools is not exactly "quantifiable," more and more businesses large and small are seeking out their higher "widget" with hopes of greater profitability, more online sales, increased online presence, and a better connection to their customers. I was interested to read this latest article from baselinemagazine.com, that discusses the company's need to elevate their traditional marketing tools with online tools.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Edwards and 99% Honesty...The Lexicon of Cheating

I don't usually write political blog posts, but in reading over the latest Edwards/Rielle Hunter affair fiasco, I just had to say something, and it's really not about the affair, although shame on him, of course. It's about the language of admission. Maureen Dowd, in her New York Times editorial of August 9 (see link above), states: The stunning admission Edwards made to ABC’s Bob Woodruff, and in a written statement from Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon, was that he’s a narcissist.
OK, but what I really think is most stunning about the Edwards admission, is his so-called desire to be more than 99% honest- as if that little one percent left over is somehow not as important as the 99 percent accounted for, and only now an issue because the cat - or in this case the swingy 42 year-old filmmaker - is out of the bag. If I go to the supermarket and pay for all my groceries, and then sneak out with a pack of chewing gum, am I forgiven for the chewing gum because I paid for everything else? Is there such a thing as 99% honest? I don't think so, and the American public doesn't either, so if you made a mistake, admit the mistake, and don't get all Madison Avenue about it.

All mistakes are relative, but this was a big one, and when political candidates admit to their "trangressions," they have to take into account what it is they are talking about. For example, "I smoked, but I didn't inhale..." Hmmm. It's quite a different story when someone a la Bill Clinton, says "It depends on what the definition of is, is." Who would put up with this from their next door neighbor, much less a US president.

It's funny how the English language is suddenly up for grabs in the lexicon of cheating. And I mean that, all 100% of it.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Why Watching the Olympics is Torture for Former Gymnast Jennifer Sey



Shawn Johnson of the U.S. practises on the floor during an artistic gymnastics training session at the National Indoor Stadium ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 7, 2008.





I'm posting this link (see link to title) of Jennifer Sey's comments on salon.com because I think they provide a unique look at what an athlete really goes through at an event like the Olympics. I think there is a tendency to glamorize these events, particularly women's gymnastics, where powerhouse girls perform all kinds of acrobatics at rapid fire. We envy their elegant grace, their leaness, their dancer- like flair. But we don't know all their stories - or at least - not yet. Or maybe we do, and that's what makes it all the more dramatic.The struggles they have gone through, the sacrifices they have made, indeed the injuries, which Sey discusses and apparently also highlights in her book, Chalked Up, a memoir about her life. She writes in the salon article:

"As a former athlete, I understand what it means to compete at an international level in a way an armchair fan cannot. I know what it feels like to stand alone at 16 years of age on a 4-inch-wide plank called a balance beam, carrying the heavy burden of personal and parental expectations, not to mention the unthinkable heft of a coach's dreams and a country's misplaced political fervor. I know what it's like to stand before that beam, legs shaking, throat closed with trepidation. To feel choked with the fear of letting people down, not least of all yourself. To have your mind race with visions of a wasted half-lifetime of brutal training caused by a split-second misstep -- a wobble, a fall from the bars, a foot out of bounds on the floor. To banish that dastardly vision to make way for one of victory. And then to go. Despite the nerves, the shakes, the hunger, the million possible outcomes. To enter the tunnel and commit, whatever the result."

I remember I had a brief ankle injury in high school that I got from rehearsing a dance piece over and over again, without the right shoes. The pain was tough, but not nearly as bad as what these athletes go through. It makes me cringe just to think about it. Still, like Sey, I'll watch, probably peeking though my fingers as I too, always worry about an athlete falling off the 4-inch wide plank. As for Sey's book, to be honest, I'd love to read it, but I'm afraid it might be too painful.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

2 Clients, Similar Lessons

I recently completed 2 projects which were completely different from each other, and yet remarkably the same. One was a brochure for a small business, where I was asked to provide editing as well as to review the document for any content that might be confusing or require explanation for the average reader/consumer. The other was a web site review for a food company, where a similar request was made. It was interesting that in both cases, certain terms and references were overexplained in some places, and completely underexplained in others, for no apparent reason on the part of the original writers. They thought everything was fairly clear throughout, or they wouldn't have even had the documents in this stage. This leads me to further believe in the subjectivity of all writing, and the need for folks like me - EDITORS - to be the objective third party and say "look, this is very clear on p. 1, and totaly confusing on p. 3!"

Why is it so difficult for many of us to write clearly and objectify information? Is it because at times we are too close to our topics? Is it because details merely get lost in translation, much the way a story repeated so many times loses its resemblance to the original? (Remember the game "telephone?")

The other lesson learned is one that I have always maintained, mainly that consistency in writing is one of the hardest things to attain. End result? Lots of red marks on the page, another round of updates, happy clients, an improved final product, and moving on to the next project. Does anyone have a pen?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Eco Emeril Feels Forced

I watched "Emeril Green" on Planet Green tonight and I have to say I agree with today's New York Times article (see link) that says that his show leaves "a huge calorie wake." Emeril walks around the food aisles of Whole Foods (shameless product endorsement!) and points out organic foods and thrills at the bins of grains and oats, which are not particularly new discoveries at this point. I'm a big fan of Whole Foods even though it is overpriced, because the quality is generally so good. But I don't like feeling like my cooking show is one long commercial, and it's a misguided idea to framework a television show in this way.

In the meantime, his dishes are fried and cholesterol laden. The premise of the show is that he plays "food therapist" to at home cooks with "problems." The first case study was a Washington D.C. writer who "missed Puerto Rico." The camera shows her sadly running in D.C. as she longingly glances at tropical travel posters in a window. Give me a break. Given everything going on in the world today, are we really supposed to feel sorry for this woman who can sit home all day and do travel writing in a fancy apartment while nibbling on cherry tomatoes? I think not. He then treats her to a joint shopping trip, where Whole Foods staffers explains the inner working of pork (is this holistic?) and the various types of plantains. Yawn. In between, he asks shoppers what they are making for dinner. "Chicken and tomatoes," one customer shouts out. "Steak," another one says. "Who cares?" I am thinking to myself.

The next case study is a busy mom and at home cook who needs easy organic dishes she can whip up for her family. What we get are a series of dishes that are so complicated I cannot imagine making them on a weekend, not to mention a weeknight. Humus and falafel, which demand just the right portions in the food processor or they get stuck there, and a fancy baklava which involved filo dough, one of the hardest substances to cook with. I don't know about you, but if I'm looking for a quick easy meal, I am not going to go searching for philo dough!

Emeril was best on "Emeril Live," doing what he did best, hamming it up in front of a live audience and loading up on cheese, butter, and any fattening substance he could find, without pretending he was being healthy about it all. This show is an example of the continuing confusion about the fact that organic on its own is not healthy. The fact that he shoved a muffin loaded with butter to poor busy mom before she was barely done explaining her overbooked schedule, is such a case in point.

Let's not sugar coat organics when we've gone to so much trouble to replace corn syrup with natural cane juice.