“Flee, Hide or Fight!”

Tonight, I watched ABC’s 20/20 episode on what to do in case of a dangerous situation. It showed armed ex-employees in the workplace, store shooters and other situations. It interviewed people from multi-car pile-ups, rescuers of customers trapped in a burning building and those involved in the car hijacked by the alleged Boston bombers. It also gave suggestions of what one can do in such a volatile situation. It was riveting!

One of the video clips shown was from the City of Houston, regarding steps to take in case of an active shooter. I remember it well as I had a small part in the taping of that video. I was one of the people who fled and hid behind a fire truck. (You can’t see much more than my sunglasses in the half second the camera panned by.) There was plenty of down time, so I would pump the assistants who worked on the script for more information.

Tonight’s show had me thinking about school shootings. I googled active shooter videos. Currently, Ohio is giving out an active shooter training video from the Attorney General to every school district in the state. In such situations, school staff and other employees become first responders. Every second counts. The video is titled, “School Shootings: How to be Aware, Prepare, and be a First Responder in a Crisis.”

One of THE best videos for high school and college students to fight back that I found is by Alon Stivi, ex-Israeli Special Forces commando. It requires a determined mindset as students must step up. If there is no door lock or the attacker is determined to sho0t his way in, Stivi gives simple step-by-step manuevers to distract and disarm the intruder. It doesn’t require brute strength. It requires staying calm and having an action plan. If you are cornered, hiding under a desk will make you a sitting duck. Empowering students to fight back can save lives. Many of the techniques demonstrated are adaptable for other defensive situations. It’s excellent!

In Bergen County, New Jersey, a training video called, “Lockdown,” shows what two “teachers” did when active shooters entered their school. It goes on to explain what each did and did not do right. Knowing how to make split second choices under intense circumstances is a valuable tool.

Scott with Pragmatic Survival goes over some insightful tips to survive an active shooting. He points out possible tricks attackers may use that I didn’t even consider might happen. Years ago, I wouldn’t think that attackers would take the time to set traps. After seeing video of police swarming a shooter’s booby-trapped apartment, it’s no longer a far fetched idea. Scott’s video is worth watching.

The school year is winding down, but we parents can’t let our guards down. If you are able, consider volunteering at your child’s school. Seeing many extra sets of eyes watching out for our children’s safety might deter potential attackers. Whatever you read or watch, please do something to help prepare yourself and your family against a possible attack. The more we know, the better the chances for survival. We can’t always be with our children. Praying daily for our families is a good thing.

Events People

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

A week ago, on a bright, glorious day in Boston, two brothers decided to show their contempt and hatred for the country in which they resided. Video shows them making package drops along a street teeming with spectators during the Boston Marathon. First, a bomb blast sent an enveloping cloud of smoke into the crowds. Further down the street, another bomb discharge caused more pandemonium. Three, then four casualties and close to 150 injuries later, a bewildered and shocked city struggled to take in what had occurred, Boston Marathon. A roar of deep pain and an angry determination for justice mobilized one of the most comprehensive manhunts in Boston history. Several days later, a suspected attacker is killed and his brother is in police custody in a hospital. One striking photo from that horrific day is of a woman kneeling on the sidewalk fervently praying.

Two days after the Boston bombing, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas blew up, sending a huge plume of smoke and fire into the evening sky. In a small town of 2,800, emergency first responders arrived quickly to contain the fire. That’s when a second, even more powerful explosion rocked the plant, knocking people to the ground. It launched into the night air flaming embers, pieces of burning metal and anything else it could to decimate a four block surrounding area.   The fire took 14 lives, of which 11 were emergency responders, West, Texas Plant Explosion. Approximately 200 people were taken to area hospitals. In such a close-knit community, most everyone knew the 11 emergency volunteers. The U.S. Geological Survey stated that the explosion registered a magnitude 2.1, comparing it to a minor earthquake.

Please pray for the people affected by these two devastating events. Their hearts must be breaking over the many lives lost or affected physically and emotionally by unexplained circumstances.


Marketing People Social Media Travel

Simple Marketing

Bucko & Mac wait for trick-or-treaters
Bucko & Mac wait for trick-or-treaters

Years ago, I fostered two adorable puppies for the Houston SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The energetic, furry bundles of joy each had to weigh five pounds before they could be available for adoption. I, along with our children, took care of brothers, “Bucko” and “Mac” (so named by my son), for six weeks. When I brought them in to be weighed and they hit the magic number, the shelter took them. My son cried when he came home from school and they weren’t there to jump for joy and lick his face. He said he didn’t even get to say goodbye. The next day, Saturday, we went by the SPCA around noon. They were gone … both of them. He was very sad. We were both teary eyed. There were plenty of puppies and kittens at the shelter. I think that my information about the pups helped find them new families. I had brought a photo of them obediently sitting by the doorway, wearing capes at Halloween, along with a brief description of their personalities. Both pieces were attached to their cage. (“Bucko is like the Energizer Bunny and his brother, Mac, is a little lazy.”) Unfortunately for my son, sometimes a bit of marketing can bring about a speedier response.

When my husband and I owned a retail shop, I made a point of getting to know the neighbors along the strip shopping center. Small business owners are not known to have large advertising budgets. I went to all the merchants and asked if they would like to meet and see if we could all work together on combined promotions. We met before retail hours in one of the shops and brainstormed. A successful promotion was the sidewalk sale. Stores displayed merchandise outside the door, sale signs plastered the storefronts and cross promotion offers were handed out. If I remember correctly, the photo processing store (a rare sight nowadays) gave out a discount coupon with purchases, for picture framing at the frame shop next door. When we wanted support from the landlord for events or a shop owner had an issue, I was nominated to represent the merchants. When we moved the shop a decade later, I repeated the process. It’s a good way to get to know others who may come back into your life. Years later, when I was organizing Women in Action luncheons, I was able to get my old landlord to be one of the sponsors!

I also joined a couple of networking groups. One was of merchants in my shop’s area that focused on projects to help the community. We sponsored events for kids, volunteered with children’s activites at the community center, supported the police bike patrol and looked for ways to build up the area. The other was comprised of professionals that met in the Galleria, an upscale area of town.  There could only be one of each type of business and members (attorney, courier service, etc.) gave each other business. I learned that marketing in numbers is a good thing. Working with both groups, any projects that we promoted together was stronger. 

Ed Shaerf is the chef patron of One Blenheim Terrace in St. John’s Wood, Westminster, in the United Kingdom. He re-tweets followers’ photos/comments on his wonderfully creative dishes! One of the amazing things that social media allows is real time interaction. Chef Shaerf knows how to connect. He entices walk-ins with tweeted “tonight only” freebies:

    Ed Shaerf ‏@EdShaerf  6 Apr

    We have a few tables left at @oneblenheim tonight! Come and try our new menu and have a glass of champagne on me!

    Call 0207 3721722 to book!

I have to add this as I just viewed the fun video: Talented songbird,  Jeanie Barton, will be performing at the restaurant’s jazz brunch. And because this restaurant has posted offers on Groupon and received 4.5/5 stars from TripAdvisor, I must remember to join Groupon when over there and to check out other great travel offers for hotels, events, etc.!

Lynne Smelser, @LynneSmelser, was a literary aide at a Michigan elementary school when she made up imaginative stories of an inquisitive young sheepdog and his friend. She hoped to spark a love of reading through the adventures of “Noodles & Goo.” She began with copies of word documents and worked up to self-published copies. Now, she is on Kickstarter, seeking a relatively small amount to take her stories to the next level. That includes a more polished version of the series utilizing industry professionals and marketing to a wider audience. I am considering donating $25 so that I can get an autographed copy of the book when it comes out in a few months. It will help an educator encourage young readers and make a wonderful gift for a  little one!

These are just a few simple, affordable ways to market your business or projects. I hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing to find ways to easily promote anything!

Events iPhoneography People Social Media Travel

iPhoneography is Growing Up!

Recently, a professional photographer was scolded for mis-titling his article. Maybe “CONNECT”, the photography site he guest blogged on punched it up a bit, not taking into consideration that it might seem misleading. After that, commenters found fault with his using an iPhone instead of his wonderful DSLR to capture wedding shots at a secluded island’s mass wedding. As the islanders had possibly never seen a professional photographer with big-lensed cameras and blinding light accessories, Kevin Kuster used his iPhone so as to not intimidate them. (His DSLR was used in a smaller capacity.) He also showed two images he had taken at another time of a reenactment soldier. I personally preferred the one taken close up. The other, taken with an iPhone, didn’t have the sharp, polished look of the first, but it seemed to me that he captured more personality. Judging by the blistering comments, you would have thought Mr. Kuster had committed a sacrilege by not using his big camera for the wedding couples! Now, before the DSLR League starts getting riled up, I L-O-V-E the wonderfully crisp, detailed shots from DSLRs. I REALLY do!!! I greatly admire those who take the time and effort to share just gorgeous, phenomenal images with the world. I defer to their dedication to the craft and step aside to go another direction. I can’t afford hundreds of dollars in lenses and I’m too lazy to do more than compose the image, check the lighting, hold steady and click. Anything more is done through my blessed apps, Camera+, Snapseed, etc. ( App designers, has anyone told you lately how wonderful you are?!!? )

Many of the scathing comments to Mr. Kuster were quite mean spirited. Never mind that he was not charging the non-profit group that organized the event and went at his own expense. Or that the couples were quite happy with owning their first ever photographs, holding precious images that would last longer than their lifetimes. An old adage came to mind: “No good deed goes unpunished.” I will say that Mr. Kuster replied with good humor and took the high road. There’s another saying: “Virtue is its own reward.”

I can understand Kuster’s reasoning. I have also photographed people for interviews, albeit for a much, much smaller circulation. They would face my modest Canon PowerShot SX and start fidgeting, becoming a portrait of restless discomfort. Maybe they were just plain shy. Maybe they realized that friends and neighbors numbering into the thousands would see them in a publication that also has an online presence. Having a decent sized camera aimed at you, and only you, can be unsettling.

Well-known sports photographer, Nick Laham, recently used his iPhone to get the perfect shot of the New York Yankees’ third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, That appeared on the New York Times’ front page … yes, the NEW YORK TIMES.

VII Photo Agency Mentor, Peter DiCampo, has stated that his smartphone allows him “to return to photography’s original and vital purposes: self-exploration and remembrance.”

Photojournalist Ben Lowy covered the Libyan riots last summer, using his iPhone. An iPhone was used instead of a DSLR to allow easier access to the real people. Regarding the Libya assignment, this is what Ben Lowy put on his site: “I was also tasked with using social media platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook to immediately post images of Libya, bypassing traditional print venues and perhaps paving the way for a new type of interactive and immediate visual storytelling.”

That last thought perfectly echoes my sentiments!

Events Uncategorized

Easter has Past, but This Never Will …





 “For God so loved the world

   that He gave his only begotten son

   that whosoever believeth in Him

   shall not perish

   but have everlasting life.”


   John 3:16