Samantha Ettus of MomPulse. Photo copyright 2013 Donna Schwartz Mills
I kicked off the month by attending another conference on May 1.
No, not Mom 2.0, even though its Laguna Beach location this year made it a bit more affordable. Alas, I am still not in the position to have a budget to attend a blog conference. Fortunately, the Women in Video workshop (sponsored by MomPulse and Sony) was free to attend — and it was held in the same gorgeous hotel that all my friends enjoyed last weekend for Mom 2.0.
Sony already gifted me a couple of years ago with a fabulous Handycam, which had become such a large part of my work process that I went into mourning back in December when I lost it. I spent six weeks looking through every cluttered pile, box, bag, cabinet and closet in my house (plus the few hiding places in my car) before I finally ‘fessed up to my husband that I had, indeed, lost a device that retails for over $500.
I have always been absentminded, and I seem to get worse every year. This trait drives my husband crazy.
I don’t like it much, either. I waste a good deal of time hunting down items like my car keys and cell phone (and don’t get me started on things like iPod cables, sweaters and the like).
Anyway, I knew that telling him the camcorder was gone would result in a big, bad rant about how terrible I am with anything of value. And the sad thing is that I agree with that assessment.
So I soldiered on for the first part of 2013 without my beloved Sony camcorder. I attended a Food and Wine festival and attempted to take video with my iPad. That was kind of a bust: the quality was nothing to write home about and I didn’t capture enough of the right moments to even glean out any good tidbits to write about. I reverted back to trying to take fast notes at events, which works – but I end up missing a lot, especially when I have to switch from note taking to photography. The Handycam is rather elegant, because it has a button that allows you to take a still photo even while you are recording video. It has other features I love too — so even though I toyed with the idea of buying a less fancy model, I had my heart set on replacing the camcorder I lost with one that had all the same features. And those all cost way more than I was willing to spend.
Eventually, my husband located an exact duplicate of the Sony I had lost: it was a demo model at the Burbank Fry’s, and as it’s been discontinued, it was probably the last one for sale in Los Angeles County. It was a little bit beat up, but probably no different from my old one, which got jostled a lot in my handbag.
So I was well-armed and ready to shoot at the Women in Video event on May 1. And I walked away from the workshop inspired to do more with video.
I also walked away with another gift from Sony: A nice, new copy of Vegas Movie Studio – which is finally giving me the tools I need to do a decent job of editing my video clips.
And I’ve been kind of obsessed with learning how to use the software.
A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I launched a new video series for our InQuestOf lifestyle website, based on a new book called the Fast Metabolism Diet. Since then, I’ve learned that the publishers of the book engaged several bloggers I know to try the program out and write about it. I am not a part of that program: My sister learned about the book independently and thought it was something that would help me… as you can see from the first video in the series:
I have not been writing much. I blame tax season: it is just one more big task I have to juggle between all the other big tasks on my to-do list. I could handle any one — or maybe two — and do them well. If only I could focus on one at a time.
These days, my biggest goal in life is to pare that list down to something I can reasonably manage.
In the meantime, I flit from one project to the next; never quite finishing and never quite getting it right. At least, that is how I feel.
Quentin Tarentino at the 2010 Oscars. Photo copyright 2010 by Donna Schwartz Mills
The Happy Hour
There have been some constants: Over on our InQuestOf site, my sister and I have been playing with Google Hangouts. We call it our Monday night Happy Hour, because we go on at 5:00 PM and pour ourselves some cocktails or wine.
It’s very much what we would be doing if we lived in the same town: hanging out in our kitchen and dishing about what’s on our minds.
Last night, we talked Oscars. Neither my sister nor I were all that offended by Seth MacFarlane’s performance — not as much as my friends. I can’t help but approach it from the viewpoint of a refugee from the TV writers room (as an assistant, never a writer). I understand the pressures of writing a joke, how hit and miss it is — and how one that kills with the dudes in the room doesn’t land with the female taking notes (which leads the dudes to conclude that she has no sense of humor).
I also remember how it was to work for immensely talented guys who were indulged by management despite engaging in immature, inappropriate behavior. Hollywood is a place where people with talent never have to grow up — as long as they are earning the studios money. I’m pretty sure that describes MacFarlane, who became TV’s youngest executive producer at the ripe old age of 24.
As for my sister: I think her views are colored by the fact that MacFarlane reminds her of her son. Me too, for that matter.
And then there was that awful misfired “joke” about adorable Quvenzhane Wallis, tweeted out by an Onion staffer. The word that person used is not one that should be applied to anyone, and even more offensive when used to describe a little girl. It is not a word any CEO would want to find in an official company Twitter stream, no matter the business. I was pleased to see the Onion apologize and promise to discipline the staffer. Without knowing who the person is, I stop short of advocating he or she be fired. Again, I think my experience working with comedy writers colors my reaction. Nine out of ten jokes fail — even those written by very funny and talented people. Putting them out live on Twitter is a high wire act. I want to believe that the person who used that word suffered from a brain fart. And I want to believe that the person has now learned that the word in question is NEVER OK, and if given a second chance, would not repeat the mistake.
Then again, if this is someone who persists in applying that word to women and little girls, they should fire his or her ass.
The sign is still on my lawn.
There’s a municipal primary election next week, and I’ve been trying to finish a post about the LA Mayor’s race. Yes, I am supporting candidate Eric Garcetti, as you can see from the lawn sign in our front yard. This is a first for us! We live in a conservative neighborhood, and my husband has always been afraid that displaying my political views to the world around us will make us a target of vandals. The sign has been up for two weeks, and the only damage it has suffered has been from the birds who like to perch on it.
I hope to get to that post today.
In the meantime, I still produce and host our weekly podcast each Wednesday, which can be streamed at BlogTalkRadio here or on Stitcher or downloaded from iTunes here. Tomorrow we are featuring Lee Fournier-Reyes of CoupleDumb.com, who will talk about her visit to Congress earlier this month on behalf of the Shot@Life campaign, , which is working towards eradicating deadly diseases throughout the world via childhood vaccinations. I am also trying to get a MOMocrats newsletter out before the podcast airs tomorrow.
Additionally, I am also still co-curating the MOMocrats Facebook page daily, as well as keeping our SheVotes Tumblr updated (although not as often as I did during the Presidential election — another task that needs more of my attention).
Engender Media Group
Earlier this month, Cynthia Liu and I updated the website for our little social media agency. I think it’s starting to look nice — a good thing, as this kind of web work is really, really time consuming.
Last week, I took on a brief VA assignment for my friend, Kim Moldofsky, who holds a monthly Twitter party on STEM education. It was one of those rare jobs where I got to learn something new and fascinating while I worked.
For the last few years, I’ve toyed with the idea of training for a 5K (as a walker! Please! I am not crazy). One obstacle has been the state of my feet, which suffered from twenty years of wearing five-inch heels. The result is a collection of calluses and corns and a tendency to blister; I cannot wear dress shoes for more than about ten minutes before the pain becomes insufferable. This is why you usually see me either barefoot or in cushion-y Skechers — but even those start to hurt after I’ve walked about a mile.
A friend who is a runner suggested getting fitted at the shop where she buys her shoes, and last week I took her up on that. She drove me to FleetFeet in Encino, where I met a nice salesperson who measured my sad little feet every which way and then made me walk so she could observe my gait. In addition to the corns, I appear to be compensating for last year’s broken toe, which now also flares up with arthritic pain in cold weather. This goes rather well with the arthritis I now feel in my knees.
Ech. Nothing says “I’m getting old” like complaining about your arthritic knees. Now that I have, I’ll shut up about it.
Anyway — I walked out of there with a new pair of grey Nikes plus inserts to counteract the problems with my gait. I also purchased three pairs of expensive, cushioned socks that promise to reduce the threat of blisters (“Cotton retains moisture,” I was told and these won’t).
So now that I have no excuse, I’ve begun taking a mid-morning break to walk. Only about a mile to begin with and will work my way up. That has to be a good thing, right?
When I finally realized my hair was thinning, I got bangs. I hate bangs, but I cannot go out in public without them. They are my version of a combover. I wonder if Donald Trump feels the same way about his hair, which is now a reliable laugh line for every comedian in the country? Of course, Trump could choose to forego combing his hair over the front of his head if he wanted. Bald is acceptable on men, and can even be sexy. (Ask Bruce Willis. Or my husband.)