Songs In The Wild
Jun 3 2014

Save Me From MyselfI finally faced a big fear of putting my “art” out there for the world to judge, hate, like, love, or be indifferent about.  It’s been a multi-year endeavor, and I published them online via DistroKid back in March 2014.  Getting them on the sites below was the easiest part of this whole endeavor and apparently I’ve made $10.50 on them in March and April!  There’s a two month lag in reporting sales via DistroKid.  I wasn’t sure I’d even get $5, so I’m excited about the extra $5.50 that I can use to buy lottery tickets!

I didn’t create the songs for money.  I created them to stay partially sane during a very strange and eye opening period in my life, and I wanted to see if I could actually go from nothing to something consumable (darn entrepreneurial genes) in the world of music.  From what I hear in the music business, if I recoup my investment in a decade, I’ll be lucky.  To me the pay back is my kids humming my songs as well as some of their classmates telling me they downloaded them because they liked them…priceless!

Here’s the sparse facebook page for what I call this haphazard musical endeavor: Metaphor Mania. You can find the songs here:

iTunes:
Save Me From Myself
Soul Escape

Amazon:
Save Me From Myself
Soul Escape

Spotify:
Soul Escape
Save Me From Myself

SoulEscapeCo-written by Aruni S. Gunasegaram (lyrics & singing) and Brett Jason Wintermeyer (musical arrangement). Produced, arranged, & recorded by Ron Wikso. Chris Tondre (Guitars and Bass), Derek Morris (Keyboards), Chad and Natasha Hudson (Background Vocals), Ron Wikso (Drums).  Album cover designs by Marla Shane .

I posted the song links on facebook a couple of months ago and received some encouraging feedback.  Just like I like, love, hate, and don’t care for some songs, I suspect others will feel the same about these, but I finally did it!  And, as they say, “beauty is in the eye (ear) of the beholder!”

My kids are helping me create YouTube videos for the songs since they know how to use iMovie and I have no clue how to make a video.  We are still searching for additional appropriate random photos so it’s likely the videos won’t be ready until after summer’s over and we return from some photo worthy summer trips.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to them and share them if you like them.  As always, I appreciate all of you readers and friends who have stuck around for so many years through my entrepreneurial, parental, and musical endeavors…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, parenting, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Happy Super Bowl Sunday & Groundhog Day!
Feb 2 2014

I’m not a big football or groundhog watcher, but this year the days have collided.  I don’t plan to watch any groundhogs, but I do plan to see part of the Super Bowl.  Because my son loves sports, we will be going to a friend’s place to the watch the game so he can be with others who like to watch football.   Ah, the things us mothers do for our kids that we don’t have the patience to do for other sports fanatics in our lives. :-)

owl-seth-godinI’m hoping with the recent WordPress update, there won’t be spam links in my email feed, but it’s a crap shoot.  I haven’t been able to figure out the reason after asking several people and doing some research.  I think it’s beyond my technical expertise to figure out a fix in the near term.  I’ve managed to post about once per month mostly because I haven’t permanently fixed the spam issue and secondly because I’m still working on interesting topics to post about.  Here are some good reads:

Groundhog day and the Super Bowl – Seth Godin

The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways. – Katie Malinski

How to draw an owl – Seth Godin

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People – AlterNet.org

The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You – NewYorker.com

 Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence – HBR.org

…different people differently – Seth Godin

Life is not an adventure until it starts scaring you shitless. – Gapingvoid

 

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, Just For Fun, parenting, wordpress | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy Father’s Day – 2013
Jun 16 2013

Happy Father’s Day to all the great and dedicated dads out there.  It seems to me the role of “father” has become much more complex in the first world.  They have much more responsibility for parenting than they used to when I and my friends were growing up.  I think that increased role will have a very positive impact on our kids.  It may even create more empathy for both the mother and father roles in our society.

My life has been very busy, so blog posting has dropped down on the priority list.  I have many parenting, business, and music related things to write about so with any luck, time, and breathing room, I will be able to start writing more frequently.  But until then, here are a couple of thoughtful links on this Father’s Day:

Parenting – A VC by Fred Wilson

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking – The Guardian

Angry is a habit – Seth Godin

Author: | Filed under: Father's Day, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy Mother’s Day 2013
May 12 2013

mothers-day-rosesAnother year has passed and another Mother’s Day is almost over.  Apparently my Happy Mother’s Day 2012 – Keep Up The Good Work post had several hundred views the last few days via google searches.  I still find that “greeting” card I took a picture of and put in that post humorous in an ironic kind of way…not even sure that makes sense or not.

This Mother’s Day, we find ourselves living in an extended stay hotel for a couple of weeks while we wait for our new home to be ready.  We’ve already had several friends over to eat and swim with us. Our new home was supposed to be ready in January, and we are crossing our fingers & toes that we will be able to move in soon.  So many amazing things have happened on this journey and invariably they involved wonderful people with big hearts who have gone the extra mile to make this transition as smooth as possible given the other unexpected changes in my life.  I really can’t thank some of these people enough.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be a grandmother with some of the best First World war stories ever!  :-)

So today for Mother’s Day, my son played soccer, the kids did their homework, they took me to Firebowl for lunch where mom’s ate free, we saw The Croods, they went swimming in the heated & nicely shaded hotel pool, they took me to Macaroni Grill for dinner (using gift cards the buyer’s of our house gave us), and they listened to me 90% of the time without me having to repeat myself multiple times.  All in all I’d say it was a very good day with the only downer being me having a cold.

I told the kids that I would share the fortunes (or statements) from the fortune cookies we chose at Firebowl in this post, so Happy Mother’s Day and here they are :

  • Embrace change, don’t battle it.
  • Don’t be so critical and overly concerned about details.
  • Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens.
  • Drastic means are not as necessary as you think.
  • Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.
  • Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent.
  • Help people reach their full potential.

 

Author: | Filed under: mom, mother, mother's day, mother's day, movie reviews, parenting, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Lemonade Day Austin – May 5, 2013 – Entrepreneurial Kids
May 5 2013

Every year there is a nationwide effort to encourage kids to think like entrepreneurs called Lemonade Day.  This year it was held in Austin on May 5 (cinco de Mayo), 2013 and both of my kids participated with some of their classmates.  One location was at the Rookie Triathlon and the other was at Mueller Lake Park. My daughter’s team made a profit of $91.  They split $90 three ways and gave $1 to the 3 year old sister of one of the girl’s on the team.  Her younger sister is so cute and had a sign that said “buy my sister’s lemonade” that she held while yelling the words on her sign.  She drew in many customers by her sheer cuteness and confidence! Although she deserved more than $1, she is only 3 and thought $1 was an amazing amount of money.  My sister and her friends are 7 and 8 years old…oh what a few years of living does to change your perspective on the value of $1. :-)

My son and his buddy are still calculating their returns, but it looks like they made money after deducting costs.  I’ve told both my son and daughter that no gloating is allowed. I have a feeling my daughter’s team performed better mostly because of Location, Location, Location!

Lemonade Day is a great way to teach kids about the economics of running a little business and was started to help teach kids about entrepreneurship.  The kids create signs and are supposed to figure out what supplies they need and how many drinks/snacks they need to sell to make a profit.  It’s fun for the parents too and gives us an opportunity to talk about business, marketing, and selling with our kids.  Those are skills that will serve them well for life!  Gone are the days of steady jobs that last 20 or 30+ years.  Here are the days where most people will hold 10 to 20 different jobs [infographic] at different companies in their lifetime.  Might as well teach them how to pick themselves into the job/career that they want!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Perspective – April 2013
Apr 10 2013

“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”  –Regina Brett (Thanks Jeffrey Fry for sending out that quote on Feb 23, 2013).

When things get challenging and life seems overwhelming, there is generally always someone worse off than we are.  I think being educated in the United States means you have mostly a privileged life.  We lose perspective when we think our troubles are “not fair,” we haven’t achieved what we thought we wanted to achieve, or everyone else has it better than we do.  I think a big part of the reason Reality TV has taken off is because it gives people insight into other people’s messy lives.

Success is not a straight line not just in a start-up business, but also in life.  How you define (and redefine) success also matters as it constantly evolves based on where you are in life.  Sometimes success can mean getting the kids up and out the door in the morning on time and other times it can mean closing a multi-million dollar deal!

Here are some morbid articles I recently read that gave me perspective.  Most of us can’t imagine dealing with the situations mentioned in the articles.

SKorea: NKorea may be preparing to test missile -  Associated Press

Six Americans, including three civilians, killed in attacks in Afghanistan – The Washington Post

Suicide bomber kills 20 at political rally in Iraq – Associated Press

Man kills 13 people in Serbian shooting rampage - Associated Press

I do feel really sorry for the individual who might be at the bottom of the “life sucks” totem pole, but my guess is that even they can think of someone worse off than they are because what’s important to them may not be important to someone else….

Author: | Filed under: parenting, random stuff | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Broken Hearts and Broken Minds
Dec 16 2012

I try not to get too political on my blog, but sometimes an event happens like the killing of 20 six and seven year old kids and 6 educators by a mentally unstable individual, who had access to a semi-automatic gun, that compels me to write something.  The stories about their little bodies riddled with multiple bullets, make me shudder.  I can’t imagine the horror and pain those parents must feel.  I am partly in shock and cannot even wrap my mind around dropping off my 7 year old daughter at school to subsequently find out some lunatic shot her and her friends.  It makes me sick to my stomach.

There are so many random shootings by mentally unstable people and it seems as if this one is really striking a different chord.  People are tired of this nonsense.  There are no easy answers. I believe people have rights to own a licensed hand gun or even hunting weapons, but semi-automatic and automatic weapons just don’t make sense.  The people who fill out the right paperwork and clear the background checks aren’t usually the crazy people.  It’s their friends, relatives, or others who have access to the places the law abiding people keep their guns who have the potential to wreak havoc.  Can we feasibly check everyone that could potentially come in contact with a gun that someone is legally registering for?  Probably not.

I heard America has the worse statistics (behind Somalia) on gun related murders per capita in the world.  Some say we should arm our teachers like they do in Israel or Switzerland.  Others say the problem with that solution is that both of those countries require military service by all young people who get solid gun safety training as well as psychological screening.  Plus, who wants our kids going to school with teachers who have guns strapped to their backs?

I signed a petition at Whitehouse.gov to make discussion on this topic around the proper interpretation of the 2nd amendment a high level priority.  The petition is HERE.  Based on my understanding, the 2nd Amendment was primarily made to enable the common person to protect him/herself from the government, not insane people.  Advanced US Government weaponry is no match for anything available in the civilian market these days.  I mean, who is going to say it’s okay for Joe Blow to own a nuclear missile or an armored tank?

There are no easy answers but in my opinion, questions and potential solutions need to be asked & examined that include gun regulation combined with mental health screening.  What is going on in our society that enables mentally ill people to hide their illness so well from others?  Why is it that those closest to them do not speak up to get them help?  Hard questions to answer because of the numerous human, financial, and psychological variables.

My thoughts, prayers, and well wishes go out to those families dealing with so much heartache and pain right now.  They can no longer hug & kiss their little darlings good night. :-(  I hope our country will come up with some solutions that prevent something like this from ever happening again!

Author: | Filed under: father, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Lego Fest Mania – Austin – September 2012
Sep 2 2012

Lego KidsFest was impressive!  We were there pretty much the entire time we could be this morning.  It was at the Austin Convention Center and it was packed full of fun.  Mostly boys signed up for the workshop with the Lego master.  He talked to them about interweaving Lego’s and told him he was the youngest master Lego builder in the company.  He was 29 and had helped build, among many other things, the Lightening McQueen sculpture.  He said it took 1,800 hours to build and weighed about 1 ton.  They had many figures placed around the showroom floor like the Hulk, Batman, Hagrid, Wonder Woman, Superman, Toy Story characters, Ninjago characters, as well as many animals.  Who knew you could make a living building figures out of Lego’s?

The kids could build sections for the mini-nation they were assembling in one section of the showroom floor.  The photo in this post  is of a tower my son built representing the UT tower, and he asked to have it placed it in Texas.  My daughter built another tower and asked to have it placed it in Colorado.  Together the kids built a super tall tower and placed it in California I think.  They said there will be an aerial view of the entire area on their website after the Fest was over.

Lego started a line called Lego friends aimed at girls that had stereotypical pink colors and designs to build houses, patios, landscape gardens, etc.  My daughter and her two friends spent much of their time in that area.  Apparently, Lego’s sales to the girl market went from 10 to 27% after they designed that product line.  Go figure.  Girls like to build, but we still seem to like to build using small purple and pink pieces.  Maybe in 10 to 15 years because Lego created products that girls (or parents of girls) like playing with, we will see more women pursuing career paths in design and construction.  Who knows…

Author: | Filed under: FYI, Just For Fun, parenting | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Interesting Links And Random Thoughts – August 2012
Aug 12 2012

Until I figure out a strategy for this blog, which may continue to be known for it’s non sequitur personality like it’s owner, here are a few interesting reads and observations:

The 11 Ways That Consumers Are Hopeless at Math – The Atlantic

It’s Alright To Cry – gapingvoid cube grenade

Where does trust come from?  - Seth Godin.  “Hint: it never comes from the good times and from the easy projects. We trust people because they showed up when it wasn’t convenient…

“I don’t even know what I’m afraid of” – Seth Godin.

I wonder if there is such a thing as brown/tan-gray/silver color blindness.  If so, I think I have it.

I’m so proud of my son for asking people to donate to mycharity:water, bringing clean drinking water to those without, instead of giving him birthday gifts.  He exceeded his original goal by $160 so far for a total of $360!  He never once complained or mentioned that he didn’t get any presents and was happy he could serve so many people & families.

Close friends and even co-workers can often know you and accept you better than your own family, who may only be able to see you in the box that you desperately and continuously tried to break out of most of your life but you let them keep putting you back in there until you couldn’t anymore.

 

Author: | Filed under: parenting, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Around The Corner…
Jul 14 2012

Why is it when we are stressed or depressed we usually can’t envision peace and happiness around the corner, but when we are happy and things seem to be going well, we are more likely to anticipate bad things around that corner?  Not everyone thinks like that but most people are not as enlightened as Buddha professed to be and events, people, pets, and words affect us.  We doubt ourselves and our future.  The ironic thing is that if something really bad does happen it’s usually not anticipated.  So we get ourselves worked up over things that usually don’t happen because we can never really prepare for the really horrible stuff.

I saw this photo of a little Indian boy rowing in a metal bowl (not sure where I got it now since I saved it months ago) and it evoked several thoughts/emotions in me as a mother:  “That could be my son.  What a brave little boy!  Does he know where he’s going?  Where are his parents?  Was there a big flood or is this his usual morning routine? Will he be ok? Who is waiting for him on the other side.  I hope someone hugs him.  I hope someone gives him some food.”  Who knows what he’s thinking, but he apparently found a big flat oar like stick, got in this metal bowl, and decided to row to a better place.

Author: | Filed under: mom, mother, parenting, random stuff | Tags: , | 8 Comments »

7 Signs of Dysfunction
Jun 14 2012

Chinese Dragon

I recently read an article called Workplace conflict is a management problem via either my University of Texas at Austin Business School or the LinkedIn email newsletters.  That article linked to a couple of others called 7 signs of a dysfunctional company and 7 signs of a dysfunctional boss.  Check out also 7 Signs You May Be a Bad Manager.  If only there were just 7 dysfunctions!

We are all dysfunctional in some way (not sure if I’ve ever met a “normal” person) but when parents, companies, and bosses are exceptionally dysfunctional (i.e., abusive, extremely disorganized, inconsistent, non-responsive, abandon their kids/employees, have an untreated medical/psychological condition, have zero empathy, etc.), it has a negative ripple effect on everything around them.

Anyone who has managed people has probably had times in their careers where they were exceedingly dysfunctional for professional, personal, or medical reasons.  The best people I’ve worked with have done a lot of self examination/exploration, took time to learn from their mistakes, and can extrapolate how their behaviors effect those around them as well as the achievement of the goals of the organization.  This is why there are very few great leaders and managers and tons of books and articles on the topic written mostly by people who aren’t currently managing or leading an organization (or never have managed but are good academic observers and researchers) because they finally have the time to write about their experiences!

 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Summer 2012 – The Heat Is Here
Jun 13 2012

It’s already breaking 100 degrees in Texas.  Summer is here…well officially on June 21.  My kids will finish school this week.  Then, hopefully, they will go on a couple of trips and attend a bunch of summer camps including a Spanish immersion one held by their school and have a lot of outdoor fun at Doublecreek Camp.  They have been given things to work on during the summer and, of course, they are complaining that it’s not fair they have a tiny bit of summer “homework.” Little do they know that I would be fine with year round school!  If only they could grasp now how “not fair” life usually is and how “more than fair” their short lives have been when compared to the majority of kids around the world, it would save them much disillusionment later.

This summer is going to be an interesting one for many reasons that I’ll post about soon.  Lots of changes, mostly good.  But with changes in situation and temperatures, there is always an adjustment period. :-)

Author: | Filed under: parenting, random stuff, working mother | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Importance Of Being Consistent
Jun 10 2012

I’ve been observing businesses from several different perspectives for most of my career.  After I became a mom, I began observing other parents so I could learn from them.  It’s clear to me that being consistent in action whether it be disciplinary or rewarding in nature is very important….but so very hard to do “consistently.”

If you aren’t consistent as a manager/leader or as a parent, your team or your kids can easily get confused and frustrated.  They aren’t sure what behavior will result in what reaction from you. If you keep changing direction before your team or your kids understand where things are going, it can result in fatigue and rebellion.  I’ve seen this happen countless of times in business.  The entrepreneur/CEO isn’t sure where things are headed, so they shift directions before the team gels and can improve the situation or in really bad cases they don’t even tell the team, and they find out only when they are in a random meeting weeks later!  I’ve seen cases where one day the manager is happy with the way someone is doing something and the next day they act as if they have no idea what you are talking about.

I’ve seen parents (myself included) say one thing and do another because we are tired, not sure what to do, feel guilty, are under extreme emotional duress, or think because someone else is doing something a certain way we should too. It’s not easy being consistent from bed times to drop off/pick up times to homework with your kids as well as expectation setting, messaging, or rewarding your employees.  I’m sure someone somewhere has done a more scientific study than I have that would prove the value of being consistent.  If it were easy, I’m pretty sure we’d have fewer wars! :-)

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, mom, parenting | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Happy Mother’s Day 2012 – Keep Up The Good Work
May 12 2012

Happy Mother’s Day to all you fabulous mothers out there!  Being a parent and especially a mother these days is probably one of the hardest jobs on the planet.  Unlike an OB doctor, who can be liable for a kid’s physical health until they are 18 or sometimes 21, mother’s can be blamed or praised for their kids successes or failures until they die.

I have been blessed with great women friends who are amazing mothers.  Most of the older women I know have stood by their now mostly-out-of-the-nest kids through many ups and downs even if their own parenting styles and home situation might have had an impact on some of the “down” parts.  They realize they aren’t perfect and don’t expect their kids to be perfect either.

It’s not easy being an adult and raising kids when you sometimes feel like breaking down from exhaustion and other things because you are still trying to figure out life and yet you’re expected to model the best for them.  Most of the time motherhood is the greatest thing since sliced bread but sometimes you wonder how those little babies turned into talking beings.  Some of us can keep it together better than others and are the poster children of great motherhood, some of us are extremely narcissistic, and some of us keep it together too well and have little emotional connection with our kids.

It’s easy to brag and boast about your kid when everything is going great and the world sees them as well behaved “darlings.”  It’s not so easy when things take a turn down the road of bad health, abuse, depression, drugs, alcohol, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, emotional issues, divorce, differences of opinion, lifestyle choices, etc.  But to those mom’s and dad’s who accept & love their kids for who they and are there for them despite the sometimes disappointment, pain, health issues, talking back, expressions of sadness & anger, and embarrassment, this post is for you.

The photo in this post is from a card I saw in a grocery store.  I found it so hilarious I had to take a picture of it.  Inside it says “Keep Up The Good Work.” :-)

 

Author: | Filed under: mom, mother, mother's day, parenting, working mother | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

3 Quirky Business Ideas That May Just Be Brilliant
May 2 2012

Following is a guest post by Amanda Green.  Amanda writes extensively on the subjects of business and personal finance.

3 Quirky Business Ideas That May Just Be Brilliant

Great ideas come from anywhere. You can be standing in line for ice cream and voila—new business plan. That’s part of the glory and excitement of entrepreneurial thinking. It’s like magic sometimes! Lately, I’ve had a few quirky little ideas pop into my hopper that I think may actually be borderline brilliant business models—sorry if that sounds arrogant. The following are my latest offerings to entrepreneurial readers looking for inspiration:

Vending machines for zines—I’ve always loved zines, those little nostalgic holdovers from the 80s that just don’t seem to go away. Many traditional zine makers now operate online, the new village square. With the rise of the Internet, I actually see a niche for a return of physical off-line zines that could make for a good business. I could see it operating out of a vending machine, which could be customized in any number of ways. It may be time to contact 1 800 Vending before someone steals my idea. Although I guess I need to think about how I’m going to get all those zine publishers on board too…

Place based messaging app for parents—Parents use technology too. In fact, stay-at-home moms are some of the newest early adopters of helpful smartphone apps. The success of location based media apps like Foursquare and Gowalla also demonstrate many openings for innovation in this field. I suggest a place-based messaging app specifically designed for parents on the go, offering specialized discounts for check-in’s at parent-friendly venues and businesses. This app could also offer a GPS-like service that may behoove a soccer mom with a minivan full of screaming children.

A parent-friendly Internet radio service—Pandora and Last.Fm are great. In fact, I use them all the time, as do millions of other Internet users. But the problem for a parent is that you can never be sure whether something inappropriate will sneak into your playlist. Sure, they claim to have filters for that, but the reality is parents should be able to have total control over the content they expose their children to without resorting to guesswork. I think there would be a huge market for a parent-friendly internet radio service that operated similarly to Pandora, but with an algorithm that specifically eliminated any untoward subject matter from playlists.

Alright, truth be told, these ideas might require a little start up capital. And some brilliant marketing! But I think with ample time and effort they could catch on and appeal to certain niche markets.

Note: Consideration was received to review, edit and post this article.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, guest post, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »