Christy Clark’s Family Day

What would be better, another day off or decent minimum wage? Ward Perrin — PNG

Last week I read in the comment section of The Province that the newspaper didn’t agree with BC Liberal leader candidate, Christy Clark’s proposed Family Day in February, calling it totally “irresponsible.”

I don’t agree with the irresponsible part, as I do love holidays, but if we did receive another stat holiday that would make our total count to 10 holidays throughout the year.

The only other province and territory that offer 10 holidays are Saskatchewan and NWT. The majority of provinces and territories have 9. Some, like Newfoundland and Nova Scotia only have six, the poor suckers.

So does that make Vancouver entitled to receive an extra holiday and include us into that exclusive minority in Canada? Well I may be completely biased (as I live in Vancouver) but after moving here from Toronto and being completely thrown for a loop by the high cost of living and, paradoxically, the very low minimum wage I do believe we deserve it, but more importantly BC needs to change their wages.

Guess what British Columbia? We are currently the lowest across Canada in minimum wage at $8.00 an hour. How do people afford living here you might wonder? Well some people can’t and are currently living in squalor. Since 2001 BC hasn’t changed minimum wage and yet since 2001 the cost of living has risen by 14%.

This affects everyone, even those who are earning more than the minimum wage, because it sets the bar lower for everyone.

I hope Christy Clark recognizes this and instead of planning to give us one day of solitude, will instead raise the bar for everyone in BC.

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Book Worm Book Reads: Three Cups of Tea

I promised myself to write a critique of each book I read from the BBC’s 100 list this year. But then I decided why not write about every book I read too? I’m an avid reader and book club participant, so it makes sense to jot down the thoughts and views I finish with after reading a novel. If anything it might help me to remember each story I read.

So for the first critique of 2011 it is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

By the end of this book it’s hard not to have a familial affection for Greg Mortenson, the real-life hero of this book, who currently spends more than half of his year in war-torn Afghanistan building schools, mending villages and helping children grow with purpose.

Map of Northern Areas, including Korphe and K2

The title, Three Cups of Tea, refers to the way Pakistanis do business with each other as Mortenson learned. The first cup of tea you are strangers, the second cup of tea you become friends and by the third cup you are family and work as such. Throughout the years Mortenson experiences many other confusing formalities and learns new languages in order to build schools for the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His dream eventually becomes reality once the Central Asia Institute (CAI) is founded in 1996 and now they support over 180 schools, as well as health and women’s centers – and Mortenson is still building more.

It’s easy to see, even as Relin jumps around the subject, that Mortenson has faults. His scope is tunneled. He wants so much to give everything he can to Pakistan/Afghanistan that he loses touch with his fellow CAI board members and some end up distancing themselves from the cause. Relin also mentions more than once that Mortenson procrastinates, he arrives late to meetings and forgets to call. This was probably one of the reasons why he lost some relationships along the way.

What is hardest on his family, however, are the long periods he spends on the other side of the world. While reading the book I began to imagine Mortenson as a soldier deployed to the front line. Each time he leaves, Tara, his wife, has to say goodbye to him as if it is their last. Mortenson has feared for his life on more than one occasion. In the book he was kidnapped, caught between cross fire and walked through mine fields. He also worked throughout the war in Afghanistan, a time when  it was considered dangerous for Americans to travel around the Northern Areas of Pakistan, the Hindu Kush and Tajikistan where Taliban would be seen. For a woman, like Tara, to let her husband work in such challenging areas of environmental and political strife, and raise their children by herself, she deserves a gold medal of her own.

 

Hushe School built by the Central Asia Institute (CAI)

Yes it does seem as though Mortenson focuses mainly at the task at hand in Pakistan/Afghanistan and forgets about his responsibilities in North America, but  that is where his heart lies. Mortenson can be described as a late bloomer, he discovered his passion, his career and his family later in life at the age of 40. For years he was a wanderer, not quite sure where he was meant to end up. Ironically, his failure to reach the peak of K2 led him to a whole new chapter in life.

What becomes a very important part in this book is how Mortenson begins discussion with U.S. Congress and even Donald Rumsfeld – which was described as ‘inhospitable’ – sets in motion his logical approach to fighting the “war on terrorism.” He begins to fully understand the distance between the Pentagon and Afghanistan. Rumsfeld’s ‘do or die’ approach isn’t doing any good and Mortenson must spread his knowledge of the east to Americans so they understand the facts of Taliban, Wahhabi madrasses and Osama Bin Laden.

Relin captured Mortenson, faults and all, as someone we can identify with because most of us still don’t really know what we want to be either. The fact that he managed to overcome so many obstacles in such a humane way shows readers they can do just as much with very little. A very inspiring story and a very good read.

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My Blog’s New Years Resolutions

After looking at my 2010 blog stats I was happy to see that many of my posts are well read. I’m especially happy that the post I wrote of my grandfather last year is still found on top search engines.

But there is always room for improvement right? And judging by my stats I could do a little bit extra in order to receive more views.

I have no plans on making a theme for my blog. I’ve never meant for it to be based on media, public relations, or skills, rather as a respite for my own musings and interests (which is usually current events and something learned.)

So my new years resolutions on how to make my blog better will be:

  • Re-do my Bio – A must as you can guess things have changed in the past few years. I’ve been meaning to do this but haven’t yet thought of one as interesting as the bio I have right now.
  • Write Once a Week: Which can be difficult sometimes as life takes over or I may have writer’s block. Quality over quantity I always say. However, I think once a week is doable.
  • Update my Flickr Photos: I have some lovely photos that I never bother to put up on Flickr. I need to showcase my favourites.
  • Post my BBC Book Reads: As a personal goal I have promised myself to read ten books from the BBC’s Top 100. I will post a critique for each book I finish throughout the year.

And that’s how my blog will be that much more enjoyable in the new year.

Happy New Years everyone!

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2010 in review – My Most Popular Posts

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 43 posts. There were 7 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.

The busiest day of the year was December 3rd with 48 views. The most popular post that day was About Sure Writer (Erica Timmerman).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, en.wordpress.com, en.search.wordpress.com, and hootsuite.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for beverly thompson, nancy holt, chris gailus, isamu noguchi, and bev thompson.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About Sure Writer (Erica Timmerman) March 2009
5 comments

2

Centenarian Breaks Four World Records in Swimming…and he’s my Grandpa June 2009
2 comments

3

Love in the workplace with Chris Gailus and Jane Carrigan November 2010

4

The BBC’s Top 100 Books List and which ones I will read this year November 2010
4 comments

5

Do you know the new face of Canada’s Veterans? November 2010

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Five Media Relations tips from a journalist’s perspective

It’s no secret that journalists and PR  have a love/hate relationship. In many editors’ minds, PR professionals are those little annoying buzzers that never give them rest. “We look at you as the dark side,” quipped Chris Gailus of Global BC TV. He does admit however, the relationship is much needed and important. Both sides get a good deal: the journalists get the stories, and the PR team get the publicity for their product.

But how does it work? And who is the most successful? Gailus and his wife, Jane Carrigan reporter for Global BC, were kind enough to offer five tips on how PR professionals can promote good media relations with journalists and explain how, “the most successful understand The Beast.”

  1. “There needs to be news angle. Make it controversial, a human interest story,” says Carrigan. The press release has to grab the interest of an editor, so write it like a journalist. Research the daily newspapers and look for an angle in your product. What makes it new and different from the others? Write the most interesting part of the story in the first paragraph so your message gets through before they throw it out.
  2. “Provide video and images,” advises Gailus. This works for all types of media. Sometimes the difference between your story getting into the paper and another not getting in is the fact that you had a picture added to it and they did not.
  3. “Understand time constraints,” says Carrigan. This means you need to know the deadlines before sending out a press release. Television airs the morning news between 6am – 9am so send out a media advisory the day before to morning editors. There are also noon slots and 6pm news to take into consideration. Schedule your event at a convenient time for TV reporters. Same goes for radio and newspaper. Usually their story meetings are set at 10am, so send your story in early A.M. when journalists are looking for news.
  4. “Choose a dynamic spokesperson,” says Gailus. TV reporters are looking for interesting visuals and that includes interesting people. If your CEO can’t deliver a message the way you want it, then pick someone with power in the company who has charm. 
  5. “Provide good relationships,” says Carrigan. Don’t send out press releases to every media outlet available. Target media and say they will receive exclusivity as long as they get back to you by XX date. If they don’t, assume you can then contact others.

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The BBC’s Top 100 Books List and which ones I will read this year

Today I saw the Top 100 Books the BBC recommends reading before you die. Disappointingly I’ve only read 26 and so many of the novels on this list are ones I’ve been meaning to read. So as a result I’ve decided to challenge myself in 2011 to read ten books on this list, along with my bookclub books I read each month, and increase my number to 36. That means I should read no less than 22 book next year.

Below are the BBC’s top 100 books.

The instructions are to copy the list, bold the books you’ve read and italicize the books you started but ended up never finishing.

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Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions:

  • Copy this into your NOTES.
  • Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
  • Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
  • Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On the Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In French)

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

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Because of time constraints, I’ve already decided to exclude novels running as a series (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter.) I do have to think about my working day and social life after all, haha.

My top ten for 2011:

  1. Number 86 – A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry: Set in Mumbai, India from 1947 – 1977 during ‘The Emergency’ a time of political unrest and civilian suppression. Four characters from varied background come together by circumstance and create a bond.
  2. Number 66 – On the Road by Jack Kerouac: A largely autobiographical work based on the road trips of Kerouac and his friends across America in the 1950s. Its considered the defining lifestyle of the Beat Generation, including trends such as jazz, poetry and drugs.
  3. Number 62 – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: Hailed as one of the all time best of the 20th century, narrated by 37 year-old Humbert and starring his obsession, a 12 year old girl named Dolores.
  4. Number 76 – The Inferno by Dante: The first part of Dante’s fourteenth century epic poem, The Divine Comedy, it is an allegory of hell, a story of Dante’s travel through nine circles of suffering located  within the earth.
  5. Number 31 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: A classic tale of love and adultery in late 19th century, high brow Moscow and St. Petersburg. The novel follows the disastrous tale of the beautiful married socialite Anna, and an army officer Count Vronsky, with dozens of other characters weaved through.
  6. Number 100 – Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: The novel focuses on ex-convict Jean Valjean’s redemption and his run from the law throughout his life. The novel follows him and other characters from 1815 to the French Revolution of 1832 examining theories of law and grace.
  7. Number 21  – Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell: A story of the genteel south during and after the American Civil War. The book focuses on the growing up and romances of spoiled and vivacious Scarlet O’Hara, daughter of a wealthy plantation owner.
  8. Number 19 – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: A romance novel about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably and his wife who must cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences.
  9. Number 13 – Catch 22 by Joseph Heller: Set in World War II, and based on the author’s own experiences during the war, the story focuses on the character, Yossarian, who serves as a B-52 bombardier stationed on the small island of Pianosa in Italy.
  10. Number 64 – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: The story of  girl, who, after being raped and murdered, watches from limbo as her family try to move on in their lives while she comes to terms with her own death.

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Top Five Tips Before the Crisis Hits

I had the opportunity of listening to crisis communication guru Cynthia Lockrey – the woman who was the PR communicator for such disasters as SARS, Walkerton Tragedy and the Saba Road plane crash – offer tips on what to do before a crisis hits.

  1. Make it a living document - and that means update it frequently. Create a plan for every freak accident that could or would happen then write up the key messages you want your spokesperson to say. Set up roles for each team member and file contacts, home, cell and otherwise.
  2. Practice makes perfect – Practice your plans, you will be glad you did. This way you can see what works and what doesn’t, more importantly you learn who you can trust and who you can’t when the shit hits the fan.
  3. Relationships are your saving grace – It’s important to know the people of organizations such as emergency, media, police. Take them out for coffee and get to know them as people. Don’t let a crisis be the first time you pick up a phone to call them.
  4. Own the crisis- When a crisis hits approach the media and state the obvious. Also explain the schedule you will be running on and keep to it, allow briefings to be every morning and evening until the crisis has died down.  Make announcements early before the media finds their own experts.
  5. Don’t forget to debrief – You can learn from each crisis. Find out what worked and what didn’t, then share with organizations and help others. You can become the expert.

These tips will help you in a time of crisis. They even have the promise of changing things for the better and, if done properly, raising you to humanitarian status. Think of Rudolph Giuliani. Before 9/11 he was considered one of the worst mayors in history, post catastrophe he is considered a hero for the way he became the face of New York. Remember you cant control what the journalists write, but you can control the message you give out. That’s the start to a right path.

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