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Month: September 2006

Still here. Still breathing. Working on writing.

Still here. Still breathing. Working on writing.

Look!  Look!  I live!  But can I just say I feel a bit like Rip vanWinkle?  I slept so much in the past week you would think I would be all caught up by now.  But no.  I am still napping and getting over this.  The only thing that lingers in the dizziness and chest pains.  (More like pressure than pain.  Annoying at worst.)

Looks like I picked a good week to be off of the cyber grid.  Drama!  Under normal circumstances, I would have replied or jumped on in.  Thankfully, I didn’t even start reading about it until it was dying down.  (If you have no idea what I am talking about, just search around for ads and blogs and you will find it.) Something that I did appreciate about the discussions that I did come across was the maturity and open-minded responses that everyone had.  Even if two people were on complete opposite sides of an issue, there was an amazing give and take that (sadly) can be rare in the blogosphere.  It really encouraged me to see such great dialogue going on about issues that people are passionate about.  That’s about all I wanted to say on that.

One thing I did do when I was in bed and not sleeping (NO not that!  I was sick!) was to find new blogs.  Fresh. Fun. Writing for the love of writing.  Can I just say how refreshing it was to so thoroughly enjoy a blog whose writer was thoroughly enjoying the writing.  Writing for the love of writing.  It was contagious.  (Much like the plague that I had.) I spend hours one night just reading blogs that were new to me (and relatively new in general).  It took me back to when I first started this blog and had no idea about hits, and blog rings, and ads and rankings etc.  I wrote because I love to write.  It is time to get back to that for me.

Anyway, I will update more, but I wanted to let you know that I am indeed back in the land of the living.  (Looking like the undead.) AND I am back on World of Warcraft playing again.  (How sad is it that I dreamed of playing while I was sick? That I dreamed of talking to the develpers on the phone begging them to level my character since I was sick?  I think my brainwashing is going to be complete soon.  Hold me.  I am scared.)

Oh and for those of you who were worried that it might be the e-coli because of spinach, no worries.  I try to avoid green food.  I think it is probably Mad Cow.  Or not.  But it is more fun to blame it on Mad Cow. 

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I choose answer A, but I admit it might be B

I choose answer A, but I admit it might be B

One of three things is happening to me these past 3 days.

a) I have unknowingly been cast in the movie Alien 8: Big Brother Edition where they have implanted an alien in my belly, have hidden cameras and are just waiting for it to burst through my gut.

b) One of the children brought home a stomach flu/bug/virus/hellish experience and decided to be completely selfless and give it all to Mom in double doses.

c) In one of my more unguarded moments, I signed up for a diet plan that requires the inability to keep anything that resembles food or food-like products in my system and I am in fact repulsed by even the word food.  We won’t go into what the sight or smells do to me.  This I blame on the terrorists.  Because I can.

Clint is insisting that choices (a) and (c) are ridiculous.  (Let him sit–rather lie because sitting is SO BAD on the stomach right– where I am and I bet he finds validity in those 2 choices.  So, I will be offline until I can be upright for more than 5 minutes without having to race to the porcelein goddess, get so dizzy I nearly faint and then end up curled up in the fetal postion where ever I fell. 

I know.  You wish you were me.  Sorry!  We can’t all have crappy immune systems that are throwing parties for every cootie in the city.  You have to work to be this pathetic, people.

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I have a crush on three women

I have a crush on three women

imageSee these three women?  Love. Them. (They are totally my new BFFs!  Really!  Call in and ask them.) They are the Radio Ritas.  Who needs Match dot com or any online dating service to crush on someone when you have Greenstone Media to find soul mates?  This morning I had the incredible chance to speak with all three of these women.  At the same time!  Who knew I could talk while in a dead faint?  But I think I spoke.  I laughed a lot because with these women, how can you not? (Ladies, I swear, there is more to me than the Texas twang and a laugh.  I use words…not always eloquently, but I have been known to talk before. A lot.  Or so they tell me when I am told to take a breath and stop talking.) If you do not know of the Radio Ritas, stop what you are doing now and go here and listen to their latest show.  You will laugh.  You will relate.  You will want to shower me with gifts of gratitude and praise for introducing you to them.  All of which I am totally fine with!

Look again at that picture.  Now tell me they aren’t women I would totally get along with.  Attitude with class. (And a bit of irreverence throw in for good measure.)

So when I get on the phone I am told I am on speaker phone with all three of them.

“All three Ritas are sitting right there right now?” (Yes, I said that on speaker phone.)

I immediately hear one of them spout out, “No. Nope. Not at all.”

Ahhhhh, this will work out.  The first words are sarcasm?  I can do this.  Without vomiting with nerves or gushing all over them.

imageFrom there it just started.  None of the awkward, “I am that blogger you don’t know that gushed all over you and therefore was given this great chance to talk to you because everyone was tired of me begging to get in touch with you.”

In fact, they said they were reading my blog.  My blog.  This blog.  Right here.  The Radio Ritas read my blog and verbally commented on things I wrote.  How I didn’t fall into a dead faint right there is beyond me.  But I managed to babble-ass something somewhat intelligent.  Let’s leave it at something. 

But they were so comfortable (as if you were talking with your new best friends), so I relaxed…some.

You’re worried for me at this point, aren’t you?  You are reading this with your hand covering your eyes and peeking through your fingers, aren’t you.  It’s okay.  It did at first feel a bit like a blind date.  They were telling me about themselves.  (As if there was any need whatsoever to sell me on them.  Sold.  Many shows ago.) And then I would do the “so enough about you let’s talk about me” thing that no one appreciates, but everyone has to deal with now and then.

Then, it relaxed more.  I asked them about Motherhood and what they will or will not talk about.  Perfect answer:  “If I am paying for your college tuition or bills, anything you say or do is open game for me to use in my act.” (Paraphrased because they had me laughing so much, I wasn’t taking the best of notes.  I just wanted to enjoy the conversation.  Marinate in the moment. Not vomit from nerves.  You know the drill.) I am so stealing that philosophy for my blogs.  (Thanks!)

After talking to them and getting to know them a bit better, I have to tell you the secret to their success.  Yes, the inside track on why you should be, must be and really want to be listening to them.  They are funny as hell!  Honestly.  They appeal to both men and women alike.  They are not strictly Talk Radio for Women Only–The PMS Show.  They make women laugh.  They make men laugh.  I think at one point, my Doberbutt laughed, but he may have been hacking on a bone.  They have been accused (based on a reporter looking at the website ONLY and not listening to the show) that they are denigrating women.  Say what?!  That is based in about as much truth as my saying I am a size 2 supermodel who can eat whatever she wants and has never had a bad day.  These women are empowering women through their show, their talk and their amazing ability to reach an audience of both men and women.  That is not denigrating women.  That is empowering listeners, people.

imageWe talked about Nelsie’s book, The Playgroup.  (Yes, there is a link for you to go buy it.  Go on.) I talked to Nelsie about the how awful it is and how much it fundamentally changes your life so much when your Mom dies.  (She lost her Mom about a month ago.) She asked how it is 9 months in and does it get better.  Do you know how much I wanted to tell her that it totally gets easy and the pain is totally gone.  But I totally relate to her, so I had to be honest enough to tell her that it gets easier but I can’t say easy.  We talked about how hard it is to lose your Mom especially after a long illness.  (At this point I totally wanted to crawl through the phone and hug her and then take her out for coffee.)

We talked about the fact that the “stronger than I am” Cory has not had a hot cup of coffee in two years because it takes all day to get through one cup when you have a 2 year old and you are forced to keep nuking it 15 times before you finish it.  (Honestly, by the time you get to the 16th time, it is just sludge and it is best to start with a new cup.  Just my advice to her.) Cory has a child in college and one in diapers.  I am working out how to get that medal to her because if my child went to college and someone told me “Guess what!  You are starting all over!” I would need a medal to make it through that.  Maybe I’ll just send her a box of single serve coffee filters and a coffee pot that makes coffee one cup at a time and include a DO NOT DISTURB sign she can hang on her bathroom door to hide from the toddler so she can have at least half a cup of hot coffee.

And Maureen.  I adore her.  After talking with Maureen, I want to immediately find a way to Fed-Ex her any fertile eggs I have left so she can have a healthy baby.  OR, I can just send her one of my kids.  (Take your pick Maureen.  You can have the teen or tween.  The kindergartener has not turned on me yet, so I am keeping her for a while.) Honestly, if I could, I would wave my fertility wand over her and bless her with the baby of her dreams.  She totally deserves it.  She is funny, kind and most importantly wants a baby.  Send baby mo-jo her way.  Or your eggs.  Either one would be nice.

I even was able to try to go the intelligent route as we spoke about consumerism.  (Money.) The fact that women make up to 80% of the household purchases–even the big ones like cars–that it is about time people (aka: The Man) realizes this and opens doors wider to let women in.  We are buying.  You should be marketing to us.  Now this, this I had enough experience with to talk about.  I might have sounded even a little bit as if I knew what I was talking about.  It was the passionate, “Yes!  I agree!  I understand the words you are saying!”

I know we talked about more.

I think I proposed to at least one of them.

I might have told them more than once twice twelvity-hundred times that I love them.

I know you trust me.  (Yes, you do.) So go on right now and listen to their latest broadcast. Tune in to listen to them live from 6am – 9am (EST) You will thank me.  You will.  And I will accept your gifts of gratitude. 

And of course, me being me, I ended the interview with this question:  “So, when do you want me on your show.”

Yes.  Yes, I did.  I will let you know.  We are BFFs now, so it is all good.

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When going into battle, one must remember to accessorize

When going into battle, one must remember to accessorize

I was talking to Clint last night about why I simply had to go shopping.  It wasn’t just that I wanted to go.  I had to go.  Being a man who is not so much into shopping, he questioned the need behind why I had to shop. 

“Well, I just read an article (again!) on the Mommy Wars.  Apparently I have been drafted.  I am a Mom.  I have mommyblogs.  So, I have to go shopping.”

He totally was not seeing the connection.

“If you go into battle you have to have the right equipment and the right uniform.  You can’t just march in looking like you came to battle unprepared.  So, I am thinking some bitchin’ high heel boots that are just high enough to shout ‘Power boots!’ but not so high they shout ‘How much per hour?’ And of course that would mean a new pair of pants.  I am thinking jeans, but they have to be the ones that make my butt look good.  You know, studies show that a woman who knows her butt looks good is 96% more likely to be successful.  Actually, I made that part up, but the pants, they must be able to make my butt look awesome.  And you know that means that I have to have a new shirt.  One that is comfortable, yet fashionable.  Sexy, yet practical.  I know the look I am going for but it may take time to find the right one.  You know what this means, right?”

I am greeted with a blank stare.

“Honey, that means I have to accessorize.  You can’t have a new outfit and not have the proper accessories.  You can’t send me into battle without the right gear.  This means a purse that can hold enough to defend myself ‘in the wars’, but not so big that I injure myself carrying it around.  A few bracelets.  Maybe a chunky necklace, too.  And sunglasses.  Sunglasses are a must to hide my eyes.  The enemy–not that I really know who that is–must not be able to see my eyes.”

Shaking his head as if he is trying to get water out of his ears, he looks at me and says, “So you are at war?  Who are you at war with?

“Oh, I have no idea, but the media and books and magazines tell me that there are Mommy Wars and apparently I am a part of it because I am a mommy.”

“That makes no sense, “ he tells me.

“Well, duh!  I know it makes no sense.  But I have been drafted and must be dressed for battle.”

“And that includes high healed boots?”

(Sometimes they just don’t get it!) “Yes, it means boots…and all the rest.  I’m off to the mall to equip myself.”

“Honey, you work from home.  Most days you stay in your pajamas all day.”

“Good point,” I ponder.  “I better get new pajamas, too. A couple of pairs.  Maybe new slippers. Thanks, sweetie.”

Off to battle.  (Can someone just tell me that if there actually are mommywars…who exactly is the enemy here? You see, no mom I have spoken to is my enemy.  I am confused, but I will be well dressed for battle either way.)

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2,996- 9-11 Tribute: Daniel John Lee

2,996- 9-11 Tribute: Daniel John Lee

image

——

imageDan Lee boarded a plane early Tuesday morning so he could be at his wife’s side in California as she gave birth to their second child.

The 34-year-old Van Nuys man was on American Airlines Flight 11. His wife, Kellie, spent the day praying he had missed his plane. But the set carpenter for the Backstreet Boys tour had not.

The couple had been together 10 years and married for six years, his wife said. He still opened car doors for her and kissed her over the table at restaurants. Although he traveled the world as a roadie for acts including Yanni, ‘N Sync and Barbra Streisand, Lee called his wife three to four times a day to tell her he loved her.

On Thursday, Kellie gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She gave her the first name the couple had picked out together–Allison. But Kellie gave her a different middle name, Danielle, to honor her late husband.

Lee was a carpenter who worked on the crew of pop musicians the Backstreet Boys. He had been using a two-day break in the band’s touring schedule to travel from their date in Boston back to Los Angeles to spend time with his wife.

Danny Lee was determined to be at his wife’s side when she gave birth to their second child. The roadie for the Backstreet Boys had permission to peel away from the band’s tour after Monday’s concert, and after a long night breaking down the stage in Boston, he caught the first flight home to Los Angeles the next morning.

Kellie Lee, however, spent most of that day praying her husband had missed American Airlines Flight 11.

Thursday morning–two days after Danny died when his hijacked plane slammed into the World Trade Center–she gave birth to a healthy 8-pound, 12-ounce girl, Allison Danielle.

“I had a hard time being happy,” said Kellie, 32, who was in a hospital bed holding her gurgling newborn. “[But] I’m all teared out at the moment. . . . He would’ve held my hand. He would’ve been in the room.”

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Van Nuys resident Danny Lee, 34, was remembered as a sweet man. Friends said he’d been enamored of rock ‘n’ roll and a life on the road since his teens, but put his family first. Tuesday morning he’d called Kellie, as he always did, to say that he’d be home soon and that he loved her.

“In the touring business, we’re out here to do a job, but when there’s family at home that’s the No. 1 priority–and for Danny that was especially true,” said longtime friend Brian Crouch, a roadie with the veteran rock band REO Speedwagon. “I’d see him call Kellie every day.

“But he wasn’t an early riser. They’d probably just finished the load-out from Monday’s concert, and I’m sure he’d gotten a couple of hours’ sleep and got out to the airport, waiting to see his little girl get born. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”

On Thursday after the attacks, mother and child were resting at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center after a routine caesarean section. Relatives and friends said Kellie had been in shock over her husband’s death.

Gathered around her in the hospital room were her parents, Tom and Sandy Whitford, and her older daughter, Amanda, 2, who has her father’s wavy hair and does not understand that he is gone.

“I told her, ‘Daddy isn’t coming home,’ “ Kellie said. “She said, ‘Yes he is. In five minutes, he’ll be back.’ “

Tom Whitford said his daughter is worried about an uncertain future as a single mother. She had recently lost her job as an office worker, and she and her husband were planning to make a new start in Erie, Pa., where her parents live.

“Right now she’s flat broke,” he said. “She has no ####. She has nothing left. But today, she’s holding up great.”

Danny and Kellie, who would have been married six years the following month, had struggled with the decision to move to Pennsylvania, but felt it best that she be close to her parents while he was touring. He’d traveled as far as Australia and Asia as a set carpenter for the likes of Yanni, Barbra Streisand and ‘N Sync.

Friends said the couple met 10 years ago at a rock show back when Danny was playing drums in a band.

Whitford said it took awhile for him to get used to having a son-in-law in the music business, but he eventually came around.

“I knew he worked hard. I’d heard where he sometimes worked 21 hours a day on that job. We did share a game of golf a couple of days ago and we had a good time.”

Lee was still planning to move with her daughters to Erie in the weeks follwoing 9/11, Tom Whitford said. One of Danny’s employers, Mike Hirsh, owner of L.A. Stagecall, said he was sending workers to load load her truck, and other friends talked of establishing a fund for the girls.

Lee’s mother, Elaine Susino, lives in Palm Desert. He is also survived by two brothers and a sister.

“We’re holding up,” said one brother, Jack Fleishman of Los Angeles. “We have a lot more closure than a lot of people have in this. At least we don’t have to wait up to see if he’s lying in the rubble, like a lot of people do.”

After Monday’s show in Boston, the Backstreet Boys’ crew moved on to Toronto. Before Wednesday’s performance, they called their crew onstage and told the audience how the week’s events had affected them directly and asked for a moment of silence.

“Man, I’ll tell you, we’re all just devastated out here,” said tour manager Marty Hom. “What we do out here is not really important–it’s entertainment. What he was going home for, that was really important.”

Daniel Lee was returning to Los Angeles to witness the birth of his second child. He had gotten a 10-day leave as a stage carpenter for the Backstreet Boys and, after a long night Monday dismantling the stage in Boston, he boarded Flight 11.

Hours earlier, he had called his wife, Kellie, to remind her to be at the airport to pick him up.

He was excited about the birth, which was to be by Caesarean section. The couple had chosen Sept. 13 as the date, to make sure he could be there. “He would have held my hand,” Kellie Lee said.

The scheduled birth of his daughter went on as planned. Allison Danielle Lee was born at 8:10 a.m. Thursday. The 8-pound, 11-ounce baby girl not only shares part of her daddy’s name, but also his nose, her mother said.

Those close to the 34-year-old Lee said he was serious about his work, sometimes putting in 21-hour days. As a roadie, he had traveled as far as Australia and Asia, and had worked with Neil Diamond, Yanni, ‘N Sync and Barbra Streisand.

But his family was top priority. He called home every day, friends said.

The couple met 10 years ago at a rock show in which “Danny” was playing the drums. Oct. 7 would have been their sixth wedding anniversary.

—————–

The following was a tribute written by a friend of a friend for Daniel John Lee:

A tribute to a friend of a friend

a strong lady in the storm

She still stands proud

Our flag is still there

Still flying

Roadie Warrior

By Claudette

We met at the hotel bar last night about 11:00pm. Of all the things I thought I might do while on tour with the Boys of Pop, planning a memorial service was not one of them.

It takes about 200 people to put on a show the size of the Backstreet Boys. There are riggers, carpenters, electricians, lighting and pyro technicians, wardrobe, and a whole team of production folks to coordinate the logistics. They are what the outside world would call “roadies.” I guess I should say “we” are what the outside world would call roadies. A lot of this crew has been together since the Millennium tour a couple of years ago. The really big one that put the BSB on the map of pop sensation. I, being the nubile tour-sponsor-roadie, not in the thick of it like the rest, have only just recently gotten to know the crew. They are really an amazing group of people.

Sometimes, when I have an extra minute during the day, I sit in one of the arena seats and just watch the action. At any given point there is someone climbing high in the rafters, someone leading a crew of local hands assembling parts of the stage, and someone else mastering all the pyrotechnics that make the show go boom in ways I will never ever understand. These are all the same people that just ate toast and cereal with me or laughed about a favorite Simpson’s episode the night before. Many people have families who we get to meet when we pass through home cities, or who visit the tour during a long stay in a city. As cheesy as it sounds, though, the people who you tour with quickly become a different type of family – they become the constant in the very surreal and inconsistent world of concert motion.

Anyway, we had just finished three nights in Boston, making up for the shows we missed in July when AJ entered rehab. It was actually great to be back in Boston. This time around, we all knew exactly what to expect with setting up the show, so it went oh-so smoothly. Plus, we were looking forward to heading North for a day off and three nights in Toronto. You know how much I love Canada. So, on Monday night, after the last show in Boston, we got into our busses for the overnight drive to Toronto. If all had gone as planned, we would have woken up across the border ready to change our dollars for loonies and enjoy a day off before our first show on Wednesday. It didn’t quite happen like that.

Tuesday, September 11. By now, you all know what happened. What you don’t know is that one of our carpenters, Daniel Lee, was aboard the first airplane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Daniel was taking two weeks off to be with his pregnant wife who was due any day. Actually, I think today’s her due date. It was hard enough to believe the live coverage on CNN was anything other than a gross Bruce Willis flick intended to rile the audience against some foreign terrorist – but to imagine that someone who you’d just seen the night before was on that plane is unfathomable. I watched several crew members break down unabashedly in our hotel bar, where we sat watching the details unfold. I did something I don’t normally do – get rip-roaring drunk. Cosmopolitans seemed the only appropriate response to the ludicrous events in New York and DC.

We got through yesterday’s show, which was an amazing feat. The managers debated about whether to cancel the show, and everyone was mixed about what would be the most appropriate response. The consensus seemed to be that “keeping busy” would somehow help the pain. The Boys went on stage and asked for a moment of silence for Danny. I have never seen an audience of 15,000 so quiet. Carolyn and I did not do our Pop promotion last night, either. How could we go on with our silly shtick like nothing had changed?

I volunteered to organize a memorial service for Danny on Friday before the show, which is what put me back at the bar last night at 11:00 pm. I asked for a couple of crew that knew him really well to help me. I just want to make sure I do it right. If we do nothing else but come together as a group to acknowledge the personal tragedy, that will be a start.

These past two days have been traumatic on so many levels. I had to excuse myself from the lunch table yesterday when a fellow crewmember commented that perhaps it was finally time to “kick out all the foreigners.” I also excused myself from a conversation where, after I pointed out that we have been bombing the Middle East for years, a crewmember responded that we just “need to try harder.” I understand their pain and you understand my politics, and this is a hell of a time for me to learn patience and restraint.

I am saddened that at this time in history, there is no Gandhi, no MLK, no Mother Teresa to help guide the world through what could be one of the worst moments in history. Even the Pope couldn’t seem to say much beyond the obvious. I’m sitting here listening to the music of the Sufi mystic Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, wishing he, too, was still around. It helps that he is singing in Arabic. It helps that I can’t understand what he is saying. Sometimes there are just no words for sadness.

With much love,

Claudette

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In which the one who can talk to anyone freezes up

In which the one who can talk to anyone freezes up

If you know me or have met me or even read this blog, you know I have no trouble spouting off whatever I feel like saying with very little regard to how it comes out.  Meaning, I am who I am and am not usually intimidated when it comes to speaking to anyone.  (Thus the frightening results of the McVlog BlogHer interview.  See, the mouth opens and I just say anything.  Not. Shy.)

Until last week.

Yes, finally there was someone who made me stammer and be blown away by her presence to a point that I have blocked out whatever inane thing I said and am hoping it was not too idiotic.  People, I FROZE.  I never freeze.  They brought a camera crew to my house to interview me before and I was all, “Would you like some coffee?” Miss Relaxed in the face of interviews and/or cameras.

Who could do that to such a “Gimmie the mike!  I’ll talk!” woman?

imageThis woman right here.  That’s right.  Gloria Steinem.  I had the perfect opportunity to ask her something absolutely brilliant and I think it came out something like:  “Ramblgifc adhnd, but ehhidr brrstoglglfg? What do you think?” Like I said, I don’t freeze up.  I take things like this in stride.  But, people, Gloria “are you kidding me in the real life” Steinem?!  And I was chosen to ask my question second.  Meaning, I could not steal borrow follow-up in the brilliance of the other amazing women who were in on this call with us.

But being the amazing world that it is, fate has smiled down on me and I have been given another chance to ask the incredible Gloria (Yes, in fact she did tell me to call her Gloria.  We are so BFF now.  –And no I don’t really believe that.) So, if you were given a chance to ask Gloria Steinem a question, what would it be?  I have a question or two in mind now that my brain has de-gelled from its blithering idiot mode, but I would love to hear what you would ask her.

So, speak up!

———

Now why was I on the call with Gloria (so on a first name basis now!)?  Well, in part to help promote the incredible new launch of Greenstone Media. Their motto:  Talk. Listen. Connect. Well, hello!  Is that not what we are doing here?  This is why Greenstone Media and the awesome personalities they have on air right now have made me go into complete crush mode.  I have listened to the hysterical and great trio of the Radio Ritas. Laughed at the incredible commentaries of Women Aloud.  And listened intently at the passionate way that Lisa Birnbach brings her topics alive with warmth and ease as if you are sitting there face to face.

I mean it!  I am totally crushing on this new venture.  I have had numerous opportunities to talk to some people there and *fingers crossed* may have another opportunity for an interview coming up.  Have you checked them out yet?  If not, go.  Now.  Go.  Greenstone is on the verge of something awesome and huge.  You can say you listened way back when some blabbering blogger suggested it to you.

And remember…one question for Gloria Steinem.  What would YOU want to ask her?  Let me know!

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