Posts Archived From: 'December 2010'

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Handwriting: Forever In Style

“I am a gallery slave to pen and ink.”
Honore de Balzac, French journalist (1799-1850)

Write Now: A Case for Laceless Shoes

A Case for Laceless Shoes | By Dave Terry


I don’t know why anyone uses lace up shoes anymore. It makes no sense to me. I know laces are very popular, everyone is wearing them. But frankly I don’t understand WHY people persist. There are better, superior ways to keep your shoes on.


I mean, why would anyone lace up when they can hook and loop, slip on, or zip up? None of my shoes have laces in them. From personal experience I can tell you my shoes never fall off. So then, really, what are laces for? Besides, shoes would be cheaper if you didn’t have to pay for laces or even eyelets.


When I wore shoes with laces, they were always untying themselves. And I was always retying them. What a pain. It’s a battle. Of course, I couldn’t just stop anywhere to retie the laces. I had to find some surface to steady my shoe on, like for example, someone’s coffee table.


I think laces are like a cats. You have to tend to them throughout your day. You can’t just ignore them. They’ll come back to haunt you. They’ll untie themselves if for no other reason than to get your attention. If you leave them untied and ignore their whipping stings, eventually you’ll trip over them. They only exist to remind you that you can’t live without them. Just like cats.


Laces are time bombs. Sooner or later they’ll detonate. As I walk through the day I can feel the clock ticking at my feet. I gradually feel them loosen and become increasingly disloyal. If I don’t disarm the bomb, they’ll explode in a tangle, trip me, and throw me to the floor in a helpless heap. Laces are assassins. They are dangerous. Why hasn’t OSHA acted? They ought to step in and outlaw shoe laces altogether.


Personally, I don’t own a pair of lace-up shoes. They are not part of my wardrobe. I don’t believe in them.


The biggest pain of all comes when my laced-up friends arrive for dinner. I have a No-Shoes Policy in my home. So they stop and untie their shoes at the door. They usually can’t stay as long as my slip-on friends because they spend much of their time untying and tying their shoes when they come and go. I usually try to invite them 15 minutes early so that they have their shoes off and are ready to eat by the time the rest of my slip-on friends arrive.


I’m polite and all. I hold the door open for them while they lean on the door frame and unlace. I wait patiently, making small talk. They teeter on one foot and then the other. They try to look me in the eye and untie at the same time, which is dicey. I’ve had to reach out and grab their arm and steady a few of them. We live on the second floor. I couldn’t bear to see them tumble down the porch shoeless. I may need to change my policy to a Laceless No Shoe Policy. I don’t want to be responsible for any lost souls cascading down the stairs of my home.


Laces should be outlawed. Lots of benefits could come from that: big insurance savings, less hospital stays, less slip, trip and falls. Even better, more time could be spent chatting with friends in their homes rather than standing at the door laced up. All of the advantages with none of the liabilities.


Lace up shoes are history.


Slip-ons are the future.


About Dave Tarry
Dave Terry has spent over 25 years writing software for some big companies in America.  Now he works for himself as a contractor/consultant.  When he’s not writing code, he writes words. He enjoys writing about the lighter side of life and his adventures while traveling, especially in China.  When he’s not writing software or words, he sketches, and photographs beautiful places. Visit and for more samples of his musings and travel writing.


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Radvent 2010: Cookie Crumbs and Wrapping Paper

While you sit there, cozied up to your computer and hopefully clad in something warm, you may find yourself surrounded by a Christmas, shall we say, explosion. My house certainly looks that way this time of year. Small sparkles of glitter seem to cover just about every available surface – the result of hauling home decorative tissue paper plucked from crowded shelves at my neighborhood dollar store. Glitter from holiday greeting cards and age-old Christmas ornaments have also left their mark on my end tables and dining room tablecloth.

Scraps of wrapping paper have been left here and there, and crumbs from a recent cookie exchange have found a home on my kitchen counters. Nearly every available corner and space in my home looks like Christmas. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Of course there have been times these past few weeks where I have found myself consciously taking deep breaths – in and out, in and out – as I force my way through crowded shopping malls, frantically searching for The Perfect Gift. It also happened not long after Thanksgiving, as I pawed through stacks and stacks of boxed holiday greeting cards, determined to find The Perfect Christmas Card this year. The voices of Martha Stewart and other notable do-it-yourselfers echoed throughout my head as I strived to make each and every holiday selection flawless and memorable, even down to my fire-engine-red fingernails and coordinating holiday earrings worn to a Christmas party last week.

In case you haven’t noticed, attempting to be perfect is exhausting work.

But I have really tried this year to force myself to embrace my holiday errands and surroundings in a more relaxed and enjoyable way, knowing that every to-do list I write is part of a bigger picture, a better experience. The tiny tasks are, quite simply, on the periphery of what this time of year really means: reflection, family, friends, and very good food.

The stressful aspects and seemingly endless errands are not what Christmas is all about. They are the proof that we annually need to understand why this time of year is so darn special. At the end of it all, we finally sit down, truly exhale, and savor the friendship and love of those around us. Eventually the overhead lights at Target go dark; the parking lots empty; the streets become desolate. We find ourselves each Christmas season remembering and recalling not the check-out lines or department-store chaos. Not the ongoing “messes” from wrapping gifts and baking cookies.

But love. Pure and easy and memorable. Laughs and giggles. And food. And, of course, the sparkle and the glitter.

On my kitchen wall hangs a small decorative plate that once belonged to my late grandma, Dorothy. (But to us, she was known as Maw, the Polish word for grandmother.) The plate was displayed in her kitchen for as long as I remember; and when she passed away several years ago, I knew I wanted to take ownership of that little treasure. On the plate it reads as follows:

Thank God for dirty dishes,
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We’re eating very well.

The little decoration is a reminder that I refer to often when the STUFF and JUNK and CHAOS of daily life, at times, feels overwhelming. The temporary and sometimes fleeting headaches and stresses don’t really mean life is bad and all for naught. Hardly. The gray hairs atop my head, the crumbs on my kitchen floor, the tiny bits of wrapping paper are physical proof that my life is being lived, each and every day. It is a mantra I have held close and returned to throughout the Christmas season, and one I plan to carry with me into the new year.

Remember to breath and savor, wonder and love. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Lucky You: A Princess Lasertron and Nerdy Thirty Giveaway

I found myself somewhat speechless this morning while reading Princess Lasertron’s blog posting about Nerdy Thirty for her Radvent 2010 project. Wow! I met Megan Hunt about two years ago through the Big Omaha/Silicon Prairie News collective, and we have been good friends ever since. While Megan writes so glowingly about me on her blog, I must admit that I took several cues from her as Nerdy Thirty slowly became reality. Megan’s approach to marketing herself – and, as a result, her fabulous bridal accessory business – is very smart and one that can be adopted by creatives of all walks of life. What Megan shares on her blog doesn’t appear by accident.

Megan put it best earlier this year when she said we both recently gave birth: me to a book, her to a sweet-as-sugar baby girl named Alice (who also happens to be on Twitter.)

To celebrate today’s Radvent theme of sharing, Megan and I are both giving away some goods through her website. By commenting on today’s post, you will be entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of Nerdy Thirty, plus one of Megan’s signature notebook covers and a few other goodies from her online store. The winner will be announced later this week, and the giveaway is open to readers in the United States and around the world. (Just saying “around the world” gives me goosebumps.)

As I mentioned earlier, today’s giveaway is part of Megan’s month-long Radvent 2010 project, where she offers daily blogging prompts on a variety of topics. So far this month I have written about being daring (through a fancy red dress), staying organized, and remembering. The daily prompts have been a much needed kick-in-the-pants for me and my blog. While I want to write on a more regular basis, I often struggle with what, exactly, to write about.

Use the graphic below as a starter for today’s Radvent blogging topic, and encourage yourself to continue writing on a regular basis. You will be amazed at what you discover when you take time for yourself and tell your story in your own words.

Merry Christmas!

Lookin’ Good: Radvent 2010

When it comes to my wardrobe, I always prefer to arrive overdressed than underdressed. There’s something that changes my swagger and my state of mind when I get all gussied up for a creative meeting or an evening gathering. The holiday season is the perfect time to go pretty as parties abound. If you can’t get gorgeous for a Christmas party, when can you?

Monday was my birthday. I turned thirty-two in a relatively non-emotional way. The day arrived and, to celebrate, I put a sizable dent in my Christmas shopping. It was relaxing and fun. At thirty, I cried for something like twenty minutes, moped around the house for a small while in my fluffy robe, wondering what the rest of my life would look like, and then got over it and moved on with my day. Thirty-one was fine, and, now, so was thirty-two.

To mark the occasion, I had a lovely family dinner at Omaha’s historic (and now nationally known, thanks to the Travel Channel) Piccolo Pete’s on Sunday, the eve before my birthday. It was cold on Sunday and my outfit was already picked out: black Mary Janes, dressy jeans, a black cardigan and these fabulous, vintage-like floral earrings: black enamel over gold with tiny crystals in the center. Perfect for December in Nebraska.

Before dinner Matt gave me my birthday gifts, among which was a drop-dead-gorgeous, fire-engine-red dress by Bettie Page Clothing. We visited the Bettie Page shop in the Haight during our summer vacation to San Francisco earlier this year. I lusted after nearly every item in the store, always fond of clothing styles well before my time.

As I pulled the dress from the box and its wrappings, I gasped. My eyes grew wide. I was even a little speechless. I was so touched that Matt remember my reaction to the store nearly six months ago.

“You can wear the dress tonight to dinner!” Matt said enthusiastically.

As I held the dress, I knew I wanted to. Heck, I wanted to put the dress on right there and never, ever take it off. But I knew our dinner would be a casual affair, and I, very likely, would be the only one in a fancy red dress. I shared with him my thoughts.

“Who cares,” Matt said. “It’s your birthday.”

After much mental badminton – going back and forth in mind, back and forth, back and forth – I decided to put on the dress for dinner. My new vintage-like earrings would be perfect with the dress, as would my knee-high black boots. And what better color to wear than red during the holidays?

Of course I was overdressed for dinner, but the dress was stunning. It fit perfectly and I felt fantastic. Later than night, I reminded myself of my philosophy of always overdressing than underdressing. Not only will I (and you, when you wear your best) always look lovely, but you have the confidence knowing you took the time for yourself. Had I opened the dress from Matt earlier, I might have even applied a thick red coat (or two) of polish atop my fingernails to complete the look.

Allow yourself to be pampered this season. I can’t afford a manicure every week – something I would absolutely love – but I almost always make time to paint my fingernails. Shop your closet. Wear your favorite pieces and pair them with your most treasured accessories. Who cares if it’s not “matchy matchy.” What matters most is that the better you look, the better you feel. I guarantee you that my new red dress will make me happy and feeling wonderful for years to come.

Overdue Gratitude

While writing Nerdy Thirty, public speaking was never on my radar. Preparing for publication involved spending hours writing and editing on my Macintosh, finalizing the cover with a graphic designer, stumping for media attention, and hosting book signings around Omaha. Standing in front of a group of people and yammering away about the writing process and even the promotion of the book was the farthest thing from my mind.

But in April of this year, the speaking requests slowly started rolling in and continued for the majority of 2010. When I look back at the number of organizations that invited me to pontificate in the nerdiest manner possible, I am left a little speechless and extremely humbled. As such, I wanted to again extend a heartfelt thanks to those groups who hosted me and my little book this past year.

Bellevue Chamber of Commerce
Junior League of Omaha
Lincoln American Marketing Association
Public Relations Society of America, Nebraska chapter
Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce
Small Business Association of the Midlands
Social Media Club Des Moines
Social Media Club of Lincoln
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Wine, Writers and Song Festival

And 2011 is shaping up to be a busy year, including a return visit to the Public Relations Society of America, Nebraska chapter, for their annual Professional Development Conference on January 28, and the March 3 Greater Omaha Young Professionals Summit, hosted by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

To those groups and everyone who has supported the Nerdy Thirty movement, I thank you!

‘Tis the Season

In the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to share a few favorite photos of my Christmas décor at home this year. I gave up trying to have a theme or matching Christmas decorations throughout my home, and have instead opted for cute and cuddly pieces that make me smile.

The majority of ornaments you see on my Christmas tree have been collected over the years, primarily given to me as Christmas and birthday gifts. But I also have hung onto homemade gift tags from Christmases past and add those to my tree every year.

Radvent 2010: Finding Peace in Organization

Some people are just born to organize, and, perhaps freakishly, I’m one of them. As a young child I remember making sure my toys and clothes and other child-like belongings were always just so. The innate behavior continued when I entered school, finding its way to my desk, my backpack, my pencil box, my Trapper Keeper, and eventually, my locker at high school. College and my office at The Gateway was simply more of the same. For my entire school career – and now as I enter the thesis stage of my master’s program – I simply cannot even think of getting to work unless my supplies and resources are orderly and organized.

My home life mirrors the rest of my life. I’m known to wake up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to empty the dishwasher, make my bed, and put clean clothes away before getting ready for work. I have this thing about leaving my house spic and span before departing for the day.

Call me crazy, but I have respect for the tangible things in my life that make me happy. If they are pretty, I want them displayed in a tidy manner. If they are functional, I want them neatly stored away for whenever I need them.

The mantra “a place for everything and everything in its place” is the creed of my freakishly neat tendencies, and it makes organizing my life rather easy. When I bring new things into my home – groceries, clothes, beauty products, cleaning supplies, and the like – I don’t simply dump them on a counter or shove them in a corner. I determine the best “home” for each item. And if there’s a duplicate or similar item in its place, I toss out the old and make room for the new.

I suppose the “no mercy” approach I take to owning things is what helps keep me organized. If I haven’t used an item in a few months time, I toss it. If I need it again down the road, I can almost always buy another one.

The few days after Christmas – when many of us are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of new belongings both big and small – is the ideal time to clean out the closets and assess what we really use. Make donations to local charities. Compare what you have to what you want to what you really, really need.

Be vicious! You will be amazed at the breathing space created, both internally and in your spaces, by cleaning out the clutter and only surrounding yourself with the necessities.

But remember to keep and treasure the pretty things, too. A life without a little beauty isn’t worth enjoying and sharing.

Goals and Reflections: Radvent 2010

As the joyful chaos of the Christmas season approaches, I find my to-do list growing by the minute. Holiday shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating, cocktail parties, festive gatherings, and baking fill my awake hours, but other errands and small projects inevitably surface, as well. When this happens, blogging and my own writing quickly become less of a priority.

Bah, humbug.

You can imagine my delight when a request from Megan Hunt – best known as Princess Lasertron – recently landed in my inbox. The proposal was simple enough: respond to daily questions on my blog as part of her inaugural Radvent 2010 project.

In Megan’s words, the blogging project is designed to “honor and respect the experiences from this year and re-examine my goals and hopes for the coming year.” As a writer, I jumped at the opportunity to do the same – in my own words – periodically throughout December. And as I quickly approach my thirty-second birthday, the timing of such reflection could not be more appropriate.

The first topic for December 1 is all about remembering.

To see where I was in December 2005, I first needed to check my website to confirm my place of employment. As the snow flurries began to fly that year, I was a few months on the job of my very first public relations position. Earlier in the year I left the world of newspapers for a new life in public relations, a tough decision that I still think of to this day. Newspaper ink was in my blood – still in my blood, to some degree – and I often wondered whether the professional transition from reporter to pitch(wo)man was a smart one. I floundered at first in a sea of press releases, media advisories, client meetings, and talking points. Yet I stood solid on my experience and talents as a writer, and knew practice would eventually make perfect … or something resembling it. I made mistakes, but learned from them, too. I met a new cadre of other young public relations professionals who today remain good friends.

Without my conscious knowledge, one relationship was ending while another was just beginning. The following spring of 2006 would become one of the most challenging of my life, but it made me stronger and the person I am today. A peek at a December 31, 2005, blog posting provided a prelude of what was to come. Personal and professional change certainly permeated the air, and I routinely prayed that my decisions at the time were the best I could make. Among the chaos I kept busy with my relatively new full-time job, side projects, volunteer commitments, and new friends. I grew into my twenties and became more of an adult than ever before.

And as challenging as adulthood was at the time, it felt good and right. Exactly where I was supposed to be, even if my surroundings were new and quite unfamiliar. I sought a peaceful, calm, and creatively gratifying life that motivated me to work hard, meet new people, and embrace new ideas. Five years later, I’m pleased to report the work has been well worth it.

Now, allow me to pose the same questions to you: What were you doing five years ago today? As the holiday season began? Where were you? Who were you with? What did you want? What did you have?

Portrait Day to Support Needy Individuals, Families

On December 4, Omaha will participate in Help-Portrait, an international, non-profit event that allows area photographers, hair stylists, make-up artists and volunteers to give their time and talent by providing a first-class photography experience to individuals in rescue missions, neighborhood clinics and hospitals.

The idea behind Help-Portrait is simple: 1. Find someone in need 2. Take their portrait 3. Print their portrait and 4. Deliver their portrait.  Individuals participating in Help-Portrait will be treated to a professional hair stylist, make-up artist and experience a professional photography session.  About a week after the event, participants will receive two 8x10s, two 5x7s and a frame free of charge.  Costs of the event are underwritten by donations and sponsors.

Venues currently being organized include:

–       Pediatric patients at the Nebraska Medical Center

–       Hand in Hand Program through Children’s Hospital

–       InCommon CD Community Meal

–       Open Door Mission

“Help Portrait is a way to make everyone feel beautiful and special,” said Christine Pagan, Omaha Help-Portrait lead organizer.  “During the holiday season, the Omaha creative community has the opportunity to celebrate skills that inspire and build self-esteem in others.”

Amy Jacobberger, a Help-Portrait volunteer said, “One of the reasons I have volunteered is the unique, unconventional platform of the event.  I can always give a monetary donation to an organization, but donating my time is a personal way to help motivate someone, give someone renewed hope and possibly a positive view of themselves.”

In 2009, Help-Portrait Omaha surpassed their goals and reached out to more than 130 families in need.  This year, it is anticipated that the number of those photographed will more than double.

“Poverty steals a lot of things, like your home, car and food, but it also steals something on the inside. Help-Portrait feeds that something on the inside,” states Help-Portrait Event Coordinator Annie Downs.

This unique movement has nabbed the attention of local, national and international media.  Those photographed all had a story – all unique and heartbreaking in its own way.

For more information and to get involved in giving back and changing lives, visit

About Help-Portrait

Help-Portrait, a non-profit organization, was formed in 2009 by a Nashville celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart.  Cowart uses his skills and expertise to give back to those who may not have the opportunity for a professional photo.  The idea is that a photographer has the unique ability to help someone smile, laugh and return their dignity.

Last December more than 41,000 portraits were given by 3,400 photographers and more than 5,000 volunteers were involved.  In just one year, Help-Portrait became a global movement in 543 locations in 42 countries.

Inspiring quotes from those impacted by Help-Portrait

“The portrait,” he said, “Represented where I’m going, not where I’ve been.”
Phillip Jackovich, Help-Portrait subject, OC Register story

“One of the ladies at Help-Portrait today cried the entire time I took her photo. I said ‘Are those happy tears?’ She said, ‘Yes, very happy!’”
Millie Holloman – Help-Portrait Photographer, Wilmington, New York

“Giving a photo to a stranger gives you a unique opportunity to speak a kind word of encouragement, value, beauty and truth that isn’t quite as tangible without that photo to give your words context. It’s hard to argue with art when you give it positive meaning. It was profound how encouragement, value, self-esteem and worth were given through actions, words and the foundation? A photograph.”
Joel Mills – Help-Portrait volunteer, photo editor Charlottesville, Virginia

“Today was the one of the best days I have had as a photographer and as a human being.”
– Kwame Reed – Photographer, Brentwood, California

• For more information, contact Christine Pagan, Omaha Help-Portrait lead organizer:

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