Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I spent my weekend indulging my inner child. I poured over Harry Potter and went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The movie was entertaining. Johnny Depp was excellent (and still beautiful). His Willy Wonka was somewhat reminiscent of Michael Jackson, although I hear he denies the character is based on MJ (it's based on the lead from Marilyn Manson supposedly.) I just finished Harry Potter, and it was excellent. But very sad. Very, very sad. If I had children, I don't know if I would want to read it. But I think the sad ending might hold an important lesson for kids. But what do I know - I'm not a parent. Not to give anything away, I'm hoping given Rowling's other nods to other fantasy writings, a resolution may relieve the sadness. Can anyone say Gandalf?

I've been paying more attention to television and magazine ads lately. Partly because the TV is on constantly (it simulates human interaction - hey, you take what you can get). But mostly because of my interest in marketing. I like trying to discern the messages the marketer is trying to convey through the ads.

One cool ad that's on the airwaves now is the Coca-Cola Zero ad. It evokes the memory of the old Coke ads with the people on a hilltop singing "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" and putting flowers in their hair. OK I'm not sure about that last thing, but you get the picture. It was all multicultural hippies, flowers, and Coca-Cola. Now the new ad says "I'd Like to Teach the World to Chill" and instead of a flower covered hilltop it's on top of a building in a dense urban area. Well that dense urban area happens to be Philadelphia, and that may be why I like the ad. It's probably not the most effective. It doesn't tell you why this Coke is any different than the other 20,000 Coke varieties. But that may be because Coke marketing is all about the BRAND not the varieties. But I do think they are missing an opportunity to tell people what the heck Coke Zero is. Coca-Cola Zero is a zero calorie soda that doesn't taste like diet soda. This stuff tastes pretty good. It's a great alternative for people who don't like the diety taste of Diet Coke. But Coca-Cola doesn't tell you what it is. I guess they want you to figure it out.

Another interesting ad, or rather series of ads I've noticed is the IBM Consulting ads. It features these scruffy looking men around a round table, like the knights of the round table. They are trying to vanquish a witch or some other medieval evil. In between shot changes, you see a modern boardroom. Throughout the series the scruffy looking knights seem baffled by the solutions to solve the medieval evils. One solution is a person who reads white papers, and the scruffy looking knights don't know anyone who reads white papers. Cut to the IBM Consulting name with an announcer saying these people, "The Other IBM" can solve your medieval evils. I'm not sure about this ad. It's clever. But is it a good idea to compare your potential clients to medieval troglodytes who don't even have the mental capacity to read a white paper? Maybe it's just the corporate people I've dealt with, but most business people don't see themselves as idiots. I don't think they want to hire a consultant that might be condescending, which is kind of the feeling I get from the ad, as clever as it may be. But maybe I'm reading too much into the ad. Maybe the target market won't interpret it that way.

After all what do I know. Just enough to be dangerous really!

Friday, July 15, 2005

T minus 12 hours and 24 minutes until Harry Potter.

Yes, I'm a total dork for knowing how many hours are left until Harry Potter is officially released. You can call me whatever name you like; I'm looking forward to starting the book tomorrow. When the last book was released in 2003, many of the stories in the media contained spoilers. In fact, I distinctly remember yelling out "NOOO!" in horror after reading a spoiler at work on MSNBC the week before the last book was released. I hate knowing what's in a book before I read it. It ruins the surprises. So I've been diligent about not reading or listening to anything about the book. So all I know is the name of the book, that someone dies, and that it's available in a little bit over 12 hours. I know I'm a dork.

Work is getting really interesting. Beside the subject matter, I'm fascinated by the politics of large organizations. And I'm not just talking the petty, "my intern gets more resources than your intern" crap, although that's fascinating as well. I mean, do adults ever mature beyond the stupidness of high school? I'm starting to realize we don't mature - we just make more money. But what the really fascinating stuff is the strategic decisions that go on. It's interesting to be in on conversations about competitors and how strategic decisions will affect the company and its competitive environment. I feel like I'm in a big game theory matrix. And what I've learn is that people are never rational. Fascinating stuff. I'm really enjoying it. Guess that gives me another geek point. Oh well...

T minus 12 hours and 13 minutes til Harry Potter....

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

So my jobs are coming along. Both require LOTS of reading. Since I've never worked in either industry, I need to get caught up on industry lingo, happenings, and hot topics. So that means a lot of reading.

I'm actually enjoying getting up to speed in different industries. I like learning about the nuances of each field. The mechanics of the analyses that I'm doing in both jobs are similar. Knowing the elements of a competitive analysis or how to calculate a NPV is the same no matter what the industry. It's the assumptions and data - the meat of the analysis - that change. Given how much I'm enjoying working in different industries, I'm actually considering consulting as a full time option. But who knows - we'll see...

And in broken foot news - I had the four external pins removed yesterday (or should I say yanked out of my foot - OW is an understatement...). Soon I'll be able to lightly bear weight on my foot. And anyone who's ever spent any extended amount of time on crutches knows that development is huge. So I'm pretty happy about that. I might need another surgery on one of the bones that isn't healing well. I'm a little concerned about missing the beginning of classes in September if I need surgery. I pray I don't need another surgery. That would suck. But I'm trying to think positive and send mending thoughts to my foot.

Maybe I should go an buy a pair of shoes? Isn't it cruelly ironic that my good luck charm is cute shoes? **sigh**

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I haven’t really lived in Texas since college. And even in college I spent most of my time in the Northeast. As a Texas native with a more liberal leaning than most Texans, I wanted OUT when I was 18. So I went far away to college, and settled down in the northeast.

But absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I actually love Texas now. I love the people, the culture. I love the Texan twang. I love going to the Rodeo in February. I love TexMex. I love Texas BBQ (it’s ALL about the beef people – you betta recognize…)

But there are parts of my home state that I don’t miss. Intolerance being at the top of the list. I remember when I first heard of the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. in 1998. I wasn’t surprised. Stuff like that still happens in rural Texas. As a woman of color growing up in Texas, I learned early on there are parts of the south where it just wasn’t safe to go out at night. I know it’s sad to live life thinking that draggings and lynchings are a part of life. But it’s an unspoken reality of the American South.

But as the year’s go by, things get better in Texas. I guess as people are more exposed to other cultures they realize their bigotry is misplaced. Their stereotypes are wrong.

But sometimes, the more things change, the more things stay the same. The Minutemen movement in Texas reminds me a lot of the Klan – they have similar rhetoric. I guess it’s true history repeats itself. Vigilante justice is never the answer. Let’s face it; it wasn’t day laborers from Mexico who flew those planes into the WTC. This isn’t about homeland security. This is about cultural intolerance. There’s got to be a better way of protecting our borders from bad people while allowing people to immigrate to the US. Immigration is core to the American Dream and the fabric of our country. Closing our borders now is like denying who we are.

On a less depressing note, I went with my mom to see some movies this weekend. We saw “War of the Worlds” and “The Perfect Man.” “War of the Worlds” scared the crap out of me. The special effects in this movie are AMAZING. Stephen Spielberg did a fantastic job on this movie. I was even able to see past the annoyingness of Tom Cruise. “The Perfect Man” was cute – definitely a chick flick. I’d definitely say wait for the DVD. In fact the best part of this movie was the previews.

There were quite a few I’m looking forward to – most of them chick flicks (“Pride and Prejudice” and “In Her Shoes” both look particularly good.) I was most excited to see the trailer for “RENT.” Some of the actors they picked for the flick can really blow. I love musicals. “Chicago” is probably one of my favorite movies, and I enjoyed “RENT” when I saw it a few years ago. While I’ll probably miss most of the movies that come out in the fall because of school, “RENT” will be one of the ones I will not miss. (That and “Harry Potter.” of course!) Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How DO you measure a year in the life?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

It was a beautiful day.

The sky was a color of blue you'd find in a box of crayola crayons. There was a warm summer breeze. The sun was shining, cheerily saying GOOD MORNING WORLD!! I remember how the American flag on the side of my office building billowed in the breeze. I remember thinking, "Thank you, God, for such a beautiful day." And I remember feeling calm and at peace with my life.

And then the beauty of the day was shattered when a plane flew into a building not too far away.

This morning when I turned on the news and heard about the attacks in London, I remembered the panic of a day in September when life in America was changed forever. I remember the panic. And I remember the eerie quiet that captured my world after the cities emptied.

My thoughts and prayers are with people in London.

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