Archive for February, 2012

February 29, 2012

Taking the Pig for a Walk

Alex has been in the field lately. While it is undoubtedly hard work with long days and lots of physical exertion, I know he loves driving the “Pig.” The pig is his platoon‘s Light Armored Vehicle. I think I have written about this before. It isn’t really all that light. It weighs 16 tons. It is hardly a high performance vehicle. I think its top cruising speed is 35 miles. But you can’t tell me a bunch of Marines out in the middle of the desert driving around in this big pig can’t have a good time. The only downside is that when you get back to the depot, you have to clean the “Pig” not to mention yourselves.

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To be quite honest, I had never seen the video before. As a mom, I will confess I am a bit more nervous about Alex’s obsession with the driving the pig. No wonder they got so dirty…

February 27, 2012

The Capricious Hedgehog

In keeping with our ongoing love of Hedgehogs, Jim has shared his word for the day. How cute is this little guy?

Feb 27, 2012

This week’s theme Words with hidden animals
This week’s words capricious hedgehog

Do I look capricious?

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A.Word.A.Day

This week’s words are something like that. There are animals hidden in the words. You just need to put them under the microscope of etymology to see them. Focus your eyepiece and this week you’ll see hedgehog, ox, cuckoo, wolf, and ram.

capricious

PRONUNCIATION:

(kuh-PRISH-uhs, -PREE-shuhs)

MEANING:

adjective: Whimsical, impulsive, unpredictable.

ETYMOLOGY:

From Italian capriccio (caprice), literally head with hair standing on end, from capo (head) + riccio (hedgehog). Earliest documented use: 1594.

USAGE:

“Such is the peril of entrusting one’s employment to the whim of a capricious oligarch.” Rory Smith; Whispers of Disapproval; The Independent (London, UK); Dec 1, 2011.

Explore “capricious” in the Visual Thesaurus.

February 23, 2012

Mrs. Frost Goes to NYU

Well, I guess going to school was good enough for Jim, it should be good enough for me. I won’t say I am embarking upon a master’s degree, but I have signed up for some continuing education courses at New York University to give me an academic background in fundraising.

As I work to move into the nonprofit world, a recurring concern voiced by prospective employers is my lack of significant fundraising experience. I can’t say I agree with them that this is an issue and I can’t solve this perceived lack immediately, but I can at least give myself a basic understanding of the principles and look for more opportunities to apply them.

I get asked a lot if I have any trouble making the “ask.” That doesn’t bother me at all. In publishing we made the “ask” all the time. Yes, there was usually a check going in the other direction (to the author), but a lot of the process was parallel. Understanding what the other person was looking for or needing and communicating the reasons that you were the person to fulfill those needs are a good portion of the ask. Recognizing what the actual dollar figure for what the ask should be is not that different from calculating a potential advance.

So, beginning February 27th at the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, I will be taking Fundraising Concepts and Practices: Develop a Fundraising Plan. That course lasts through May 7th and meets each Monday night. I am also signed up for a one day seminar in late April called How to Be a Successful Fundraiser.

Guess all those times I made jokes about Jim going back to school are going to come home to roost. You can be one thing: I asked him immediately if he would look over my papers before I have to turn them in. I may be an old student, but I am not dumb. Oh, dear, I hope there isn’t a final exam. I am not sure I could take the stress.

February 18, 2012

Bullriding: My Favorite Sport

There is always some hullabaloo going on about a sport. In the fall and winter, football is America’s obsession. In the spring and summer, everyone catches baseball fever. The only reason I care how many days until pitchers and catchers is that it means winter is almost over.

Of course, right now the big obsession is Lin-sanity. Longterm business stand-offs like the fight between Time Warner Cable and Madison Square Garden are being resolved by a tall, dark horse, Harvard graduate who has vaulted to the top of everyone’s consciousness. It is hard not to find Jeremy Lin exciting. Who doesn’t love an underdog showing just what they can do and astounding everyone? But just because I admire Jeremy Lin, I am not actually going to sit down to watch basketball.

My sport is one with all the blood and guts of football, the athleticism of basketball and the studied skill of baseball. My sport finds just as many teeth knocked loose as hockey and requires the stamina of a soccer star. My sport involves one on one competition along with competition against other athletes, but it is not a team sport. My favorite sport requires the questionable sanity of a rugby player and is as international as cricket.

I love bullriding. There is nothing better than spinning the dial on a Saturday night, knitting in hand, and coming up with a broadcast of Professional Bull Riding. Well, actually being there is better. The dirt, the crowd, the cowboys, the wrecks, it is all good.

Now, I have to be honest. Bullriding is not Jim’s favorite sport. In fact, no one else in my family really enjoys a nice evening of watching the bulls and boys. But every once in a while, they let me indulge.

February 12, 2012

Making It Matter

As I continue to make contacts in the nonprofit world, I am the recipient of much new information and advice. One of my recent connections suggested that I consider working with the Taproot Foundation. Taproot provides pro bono consultants for nonprofit organizations. That is a simplistic statement of what they do because there is actually a lot of process and procedure involved.

Over the course of the ten years of their existence, Taproot has developed extensive experience in insuring that both the nonprofit and the consultants have a positive experience. Making sure the end product is what was needed in the first place and is of high quality is important both because everyone spends a significant amount of time and resources on the projects and to insure that Taproot itself can gain funding to continue to be the key provider of services.

I have been extremely lucky with my Taproot experience so far. I seem to have contacted them at the perfect moment. They staff projects three times each year and I hooked up with them just as they began the staffing for the first wave of the year. They had accepted proposals for service grants from nonprofits until December 1st. Then they evaluated the grant requests over the holidays and January. This evaluation process includes interviewing the requesting nonprofit and making sure that they understand what they need and want and that they are prepared to do the necessary work on their end. A similar process of training and vetting occurs with regards to the consultants. Most consultants are actually engaged in the for-profit world and simply want to use their skills to help an organization. Of course, I want to move into the nonprofit world so I hope to help an organization and gain some very useful hands on experience.

I am tremendously excited to be starting a Visual Branding project with a family services organization. This week I will meet the team at the Family Center with whom I will be working. After this initial meeting, we will begin pulling the team of pro bono consultants together and shortly thereafter, we’ll have our Kickoff Meeting.

I am extremely fortunate to have gotten a project so quickly and I look forward to meeting new people, working as part of the team and making a positive difference for a worthy organization.

February 9, 2012

Generosity Day

Sasha Dichter writes a blog which I read. He is leading a movement to create Generosity Day, an upgrade of Valentines Day. I think this is a great idea. I hope you will join in and also spread the word.

Also Sasha has a TED Talk on this subject as well: http://www.ted.com/talks/sasha_dichter.html. Sasha is Chief Innovation Officer at The Acumen Fund.

Ideally, every day would be Generosity Day, but this is a good start.

February 4, 2012

The Fabric of Time

Recently I met my friend Shaye for coffee and she gave me a gift of earrings made from pieces of aluminum knitting needles. The old-fashioned kind of needles which were long and straight and came in blue, green, red and a golden yellow. The size was marked on a flat disc on the end of the needle and when you knitted next to someone (like on the train) you would continually jab them with the end or they would poke holes through your knitting bag.

I am lucky enough to have all of my grandmother’s knitting needles. She has two large atrocious-looking Sixties-era fabric cases which hold jumbled sets of needles and crochet hooks. I don’t actually use them much because I prefer wooden circular needles, but I treasure having them all the same. They bring back many happy memories of time spent with my grandmother, some of my fondest memories of my early childhood.

My grandmother lived in a big, old, angular Victorian house.  She lived in a small city in Central Illinois on the shores of  the Fox River.  It is a place where time seems to flow along the river’s banks with a smooth and easy current.

In my grandmother’s front hall stood an ornately carved foot-pumped upright organ.  It wheezed and groaned and thumped, but made a powerful, wailing noise which filled the house.  My grandmother was a musician and throughout my childhood played the organ at the local Methodist Church. At an age when “no” was a common word, I was allowed to play it even though my feel could not fully reach the pedals.  The front stairway to the second floor was lit by two large leaded-glass windows.  On sunny afternoons their prisms threw rainbow waves across the stairs. In the colorful lights, dust motes danced in the air.  The house was suffused with a pleasant musty smell.  My grandparents had raised their family, including my mother, in this house and  had been in this place for a long time.  It smelled safe and warm and impervious to change.

Early each morning my grandmother awoke and padded in her slippers down the stairs to the kitchen.  There she sat on an upholstered bench in the eating nook.  The sky was still dark, but she was in position quietly smoking  a cigarette playing solitaire or, when I visited, knitting.  The kitchen was an island of light in the darkened, quiet house.  It was our world and ours alone.

My grandmother taught me to knit and, sitting together, hour followed hour as I painstakingly knit row after row of garter stitch on my most recent scarf.  We chatted about the worldly concerns shared by a small girl and her grandmother.  My grandmother’s fingers were long, the fingers of a pianist and organist, but gnarled and twisted with arthritis.  They looked like well-used and very capable hands.  With her sure touch, she guided me through the process and patiently picked up dropped stitches and set me right to going again.

Time ticked by very slowly in those hours.  My grandmother’s old, black  Seth Thomas wall clocks marked each moment’s passing. Now as I sit knitting, I can remember back many, many years ago when I was a small girl. Spending time with my grandmother was very special and our connection through knitting bridged decades of time and generations. I can feel the smooth flow of time as I hold my needles and stitch follows stitch.  Each stitch and each row marks the continuity. They flow together, forming the fabric of time.

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