Ted's Tidbits

Merry Christmas

Ted and Megan's Christmas Card 2010

In all seriousness, Merry Christmas!

Ted and Megan

Ode to the Fair

The other day, when the air turned cool, I had the thought: “This is Fair weather!”  My husband, Ted, and I practically live at Fair Park for those 24 days of the Great State Fair of Texas.  People are always surprised by how often we go, saying things like, “There can’t be that much to do,” or “It’s the same every year!”  I dispute the first statement:  there is plenty to do.  The second statement is mostly true, but, I also think that is one of the reasons I love it so much.  When I breathe in the fried grease mixed with smells from the livestock pavilion, see Big Tex waving his hand and booming out a Hello, it’s like visiting a good friend you only see once a year.

Every year, Ted and I take off Friday to go to the Fair on Opening Day.  There’s nothing quite like beginning a celebration – and we definitely don’t want to miss it.  Most people think the Fair is only vomit-inducing rides and rip-off Midway games – but it is so much more.  Ted and I hardly spend any time on the Midway.  We don’t have time!  There are the pig races to see and the butter sculpture to ogle. The Vitamix demonstrations and the car show.  Open museums with new exhibits and African acrobats defying gravity.  Cooking shows to watch and searching for friends’ award-winning jellies in the Creative Arts building.  And the food – the glorious, decadent, completely unhealthy but totally worth it food.

If we did nothing else at the Fair but eat, I would be a happy woman.  I first have a round of all my favorites:  fried green tomatoes, a cinnamon roll (admittedly, I will have more than one round of this particular item), a barbecue sandwich from Smokey Johns, and my new favorite:  fried shrimp corny dog.  We, of course, must try all the new foods, especially the award winners.  Fried Frito Pie, here I come!  But sometimes the food vendors get a little too creative and come up with something I can’t stomach.  Sorry, Fried Beer, I won’t be tasting you this year.   However, last year’s most creative prizewinner, Fried Butter, was a surprising dose of comfort food.  I wish we could try every single food item, but alas, even attending all 24 days would not allow us to try them all.

The real joy of the fair is just soaking up the atmosphere.  The Fair, for us, isn’t so much a place to do as it is to be.  It’s a showcase of Texas culture and our exuberance for doing things BIG.  Everyone is here to have a good time, suspending any dower thoughts or harsh realities.  How can you frown while watching a hawk shoot out of the top of the Texas Star (the giant Ferris Wheel, for those of you squares who don’t know) and race above your head to the stage upfront – all while eating a corny dog and a Lemon Chill?

Sometimes the majesty of the fair can be too much.  The crowds are massive and the constant sun exhausting.  But even at the fair, there are places of reflective quiet.  After an exciting day of walking 9 times around the park and eating more in a day than I do in a week, I find solace in a little known spot – The Texas Discovery Gardens.  When the day is just turning into the first shadow of night, we’ll find a bench near the fountain to watch the casual butterfly float by.  We rest our tired feet and feel the cool mist from the fountain on our sunburned skin.  We talk over the day, the food we’ve had, the shows we watched, and the friends we unexpectedly ran into (which always seems to happen).  We sit and we remember, savoring the day, and feeling just a little sad that only 23 days are left.

My Trip to Ghana

I recently returned from Ghana, West Africa where we spent a week at a children’s home called the Village of Hope. There are so many things to tell about this trip, but first here are some videos I made about what we did while we were there.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY0DgqTQga4?fs=1&hl=en_US&w=640&h=385]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-mgQ4SZAFM?fs=1&hl=en_US&w=640&h=385]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcH5gK-nIbk?fs=1&hl=en_US&w=640&h=385]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAzEEQ7zaBs?fs=1&hl=en_US&w=640&h=385]

Distraction of The Week: Erykah Badu

This week, the local Dallas media gave lots of free press to Erykah Badu. This came in the form of a controversy. As I’ve watched everything unfold, I have come to the conclusion that the controversy is all manufactured. Please allow me to lay out my case.

When the Story Broke

Ok, so here’s a quick summary of events.

  • Erykah Badu films a video downtown in which she strips naked.
  • This offends the sensibilities of the citizenry of Dallas.
  • Investigations begin questioning how this could have happened.
  • New laws are proposed.

Here’s the problem with that: According to our paper of record, the scene was shot on March 13, three weeks ago. The first reporting of the “incident” wasn’t until March 30. Why did it take almost three weeks to break a story about a celebrity stripping in the middle of downtown Dallas in broad daylight?

What else happened on March 30? That was the same day she released her new album featuring the song she recorded in the video. Coincidence? You tell me.

Where's the Outrage?

Aside from the fact that it took nearly three weeks for anyone to realize that a celebrity had exposed herself in the middle of downtown Dallas, why have there been no witnesses coming forward to complain? In an article dated today, our only paper mentioned this fact:

Dallas police said this week that no witnesses had come forward to complain. That has since changed; police now say they are gathering information and have spoken to at least one woman who said she witnessed the video shoot.

So no complaints from the citizens. The paper claims there was one witness, but we are not provided with a name or a statement. All we know is that somebody saw the video being filmed, a fact which is obviated by the crowds of people that appear in the video iteself!

The News Is Promoting the Video

Take a look at the original article again. I want you to notice a few things.

First, look at the page header. What section of the paper is the story in? Breaking news? Local news? Nope, it’s in Entertainment news.

Now, look for a box in the body of the story titled Also Online. Here is where they will typically link to related stories. There are three links for this story. The first is a link to an interview with her about the video. The second is a link to her website where you can watch the video. The third is a link to her Twitter page. This isn’t a news story, it’s a PR stunt.

The Disturbing Part

What really bothers me about this whole thing is the story that “broke” today in The News.

Regardless of whether Dallas officials decide to charge Erykah Badu with a crime for getting naked in Dealey Plaza last month, city law ought to be strengthened to prevent similar incidents, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said Thursday.

Was this really such a horrible incident if no one complained and apparently no one even noticed it had happened until three weeks after the fact?

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway had this to say:

None of this would have occurred had she stayed clothed. But since she didn't, it elevated the need for making sure that we have policies in place that will protect folks and the integrity of the city as best we possibly can.

Who do we need to protect? Who was injured? Has our reputation as a city been ruined by this incident?

He goes on to say:

What if there is a part two and we don't take some type of action or put it up for discussion and she comes out and really gets with it and does a Michael Jackson-type video and have 15, 20 people and all of them take their clothes off?

Right. We have to act now or we’re going be infiltrated with legions of people stripping and filming! It will be pandemonium!

Give me a break! Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating public nudity, but we already have laws and ordinances that deal with this. The fact that someone breaks a rule doesn’t mean the rule wasn’t strong enough. The solution isn’t more rules and ordinances. If she broke the rules (and I’m pretty sure she did), then she should pay the penalties. Then we should all move on with our lifes, and remember that if it wasn’t for the Dallas Morning News promoting her new album, none of us would have even known it had happened.

The E-Myth Enterprise

I went to Half Price Books the other day looking for a copy of The E-Myth Revisited, a book that’s been on my “to read” list for a long time. I arrived at the store, headed for the business books, found the Entrepreneurship bookshelf and started skimming. Sure enough, they had it! And then it caught my eye. Sitting on the shelf next to the book that warranted the excursion was another similarly titled book by the same author:

The E-Myth Enterprise: How to Turn a Great Idea into a Thriving Business.

How do you like that? Here I am, at the bookstore, with an idea that I’d like to turn into a thriving business. It must be destiny. So I purchased it and we left the store before Megan had a chance to grab her usual armful of books. (Just because they’re half price doesn’t mean we should buy twice as much!)

Over the past week, I devoured the contents of the book. I didn’t just read it; I underlined it and made margin notes. Then I turned those into notes on a separate notepad. Then I typed the notes. Then I reformatted my notes into a blog post. Yes, the very post you are reading right now.

Epiphany #1: A Business Must Be Designed, Invented

It’s right there in the introduction, as if it’s something I should have already known. And once I realized it, that fact does seem pretty obvious.

When you design a company, you design it visually, emotionally, functionally, and financially.

Epiphany #2: Business is Hard

Again, this should come as no surprise. Everybody knows that most businesses fail. I’ve even witnessed a few do so, and they failed for very different reasons. In fact there are many ways a business can fail, and very few ways a business can succeed. To help out would-be entrepreneurs like myself, he gives some great encouragement with statements like

...how do you provide an answer to a question that you know has no answer? ...that's the game called business.

and

...a free market system provides all of us with significantly more opportunity to fail than to succeed.

Yeah, he just barely comes short of directly telling me I will fail. Ok, well how about something constructive?

Epiphany #3: It’s About More than Customers

Sure customers are important, but if you build your business on the principle that the customer is always right, you’re going to upset a lot of people that you don’t want to upset. Those people are your employees, your vendors, and your financial backers. A business must be designed with customers and these other three groups in mind. If a business is serving all four groups, it has a chance at success.

There is so much in this book including the five essential skills of an E-Myth Entrepreneur (concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation, communication) and the four categories of preference that an E-Myth Enterprise must be aware of (visual, emotional, functional, financial). There’s a lot to be said about all of these, and maybe some will be the subject of future posts, but I don’t want to end up reprinting the whole book here. If you want to know more, go buy it. It’s a quick read, but it’s packed full of goodies.

In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of design work ahead of me.

My Prediction on Tomorrow's Apple Announcement

This morning I did a little research on all the Apple themed stories with the purpose of making an educated prediction about what Apple will announce tomorrow at their press event. As I looked into this and discussed the possibilities, I realized that there is no good way to accurately predict what will be announced tomorrow. Therefore, I will lean on the eternal wisdom:

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Proverbs 17:28

The illusion of my intelligence survives another day!