Do I have a special needs child?

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Joey after his surgery, almost 5 months old

Do I have a special needs child? The short answer is: I don’t have a damned clue. I’m not even sure what special needs means anymore. I know that when people ask questions about my child, they want to know exactly what the problem is, and that it’s been solved. I’d love to know that, too.

My son, Joey,  is 7 months old. He’s our third child, and since the beginning he’s been an adventure. During his first bath, I watched as he stopped breathing. Doctors, nurses and medics rushed in. Soon after, he was in the neonatal intensive care unit. A few days there, and a few more in the hospital room with us, and we took him home. About a week or so later, he was admitted to the hospital for “failure to thrive.” Simply put, he was losing weight. He had low muscle tone. Tests, tests and more tests. The first thing they hit us with was that he exhibited symptoms for Prader-Willi Syndrome. Googled that. Panic.

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Getting a job

Enjoyed this blog post from trumpeter Stan Curtis, titled “How not to get a trumpet job,” though you could apply it to any instrument. In fact, there’s a lot of good points for any profession. As an added bonus, most of the comments seem to revolve around some music fraternity. Missing the forest for the trees, I suppose…

Listening is the key to social media

I’ve read several articles online, similar to this one by Shel Holtz on Ragan’s PR Daily, talking about social media tactics when tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing grip the nation. And almost every one I’ve read misses the point.

trending on twitter

Looking at trending topics is the bare minimum of listening

It’s pretty simple, really. Think of a Facebook newsfeed or a Twitter feed as a group of people standing around talking to one another. Most of the time, people are talking about a variety of things: sharing funny stories, talking about their kids, discussing current events or pop culture- you get the point. It is completely natural in these cases to walk up and share something interesting from your company or organization. This is how social media works most of the time.

Sometimes, everyone in that group is talking about the same thing. It could be the Superbowl, the finale of “American Idol,” an election, or anything else non-tragic you might think of. You would seem out of touch if you walked up and shared some random story about your organization. If you tie your content into what they’re talking about, you’re golden.

Finally, tragic events will occur that everyone in your target audience is talking about. If you’re a consumer of social media, you’ve seen it before. Every single Tweet or status update is about the same thing. Our group of people (the ones standing around and talking), are sharing details, asking questions, and looking to one another for emotional support. If you think this is a good time to share your content, you might be in the wrong business.

What are the takeaways? I think there are a few things to keep in mind to be successful in the social media space:

  • Be a social media consumer. You can’t join the conversation without knowing what the conversation is or listening to what others are saying.
  • Be aware of autoposts and scheduled posts. If you’re going to be a part of the conversation, you should actually “be there.”

A lot of people think you should be paying close attention to current events, but if you take just two or three minutes looking at Twitter or Facebook before you post, you’ll have all the information you’ll need.

The RWSL™ study method

As part of my transition to a new career (music to public relations), I returned to college last fall. The first thing I noticed was the difference between being a mass communication major and a music major. When I was a young college-aged student of music, I spent most of my time either playing with an ensemble, or alone in a practice room. What studying I did was a secondary concern to perfecting my craft as a musician.

Fast forward a decade. Now my classes are all books and lectures and discussions and writing and exams. Suddenly, studying is very important. And last fall, I was hopelessly lost in the area of studying. I feel comfortable now, but it took some experimentation. I present to you the RWSL™ study method… Continue reading

Don’t be an email asshole

Have you ever received an email and, while reading it, thought that the person must be in a bad mood, or maybe the guy’s just an asshole? There are a few ways you can use email and not be “that guy.”

There is a subject line. Use it. The subject line is there for you to quickly summarize what the email is about. Take a few seconds and make it meaningful.  “Minutes from the 7/13 meeting – no response required” is much better than “Last meeting.” Continue reading

5 reasons to play D&D

Confession time: I play D&D. I actively play Dungeons and Dragons, the iconic fantasy role-playing game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and first published in 1974. Depending on who you talk to, people who play this game are nerds, outcasts, rejects, and sometimes Satan-worshippers or witches (or something, I don’t know). Some of that is probably true.

What is this D&D, you ask? Well, here’s the official line from Hasbro-owned Wizards of the Coast.

Since the people of the Web love lists, here are five reasons I want my children to play D&D… Continue reading

NEA mag talks military bands

From an article by Michael Gallant in NEA Arts Magazine…

Military musicians are regularly called upon to perform at the highest of levels with tremendous poise and dignity, regardless of location, playing conditions, or repertoire — a demanding set of requirements, to say the least.

In addition to their duties at home, military bands play key roles in ceremonies around the world, often serving as morale-boosters, ambassadors, and diplomats, all at the same time.

I would add that military bands also serve as an effective community outreach tool for the military. It’s important that the American people know what their tax dollars are being used for, and the bands are an excellent way to do that.

Type treatment at its best

I consider myself a very amateur graphic designer. That being said, I’d like to think I know good design when I see it. I visited the Baltimore Sun’s website yesterday to see how Baltimore’s own Michael Phelps was faring in London. [Special note: Phelps' mom, Mrs. Phelps, was my middle school home economics teacher. I made a stuffed baseball bat and a blue and black sweatshirt.] Imagine my delight when I saw this header.

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Damn, that’s fantastic design. What I love about this is that they’ve blended the type in with the photograph, but made it so that it’s still instantly legible. The photo features a pretty stark gradient to white at the bottom, but you don’t even notice it with the text. It’s simple, elegant, and sums up what Phelps is all about. Great design, if you ask me.