Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shared history

Today is my birthday, but it's also my sister Amie's birthday. In an unlikely twist of fate, she and I were born on the same day, exactly one year apart.

She was my first, and will always be my best, birthday present.

I've never taken my sister for granted. Over the years, maybe because we were so close in age, we really were friends, not just sisters. She's absolutely the funniest person I know. She's also unfailingly kind, insightful, and giving. She's thoughtful. She's loyal and protective of the people she loves. And she's sister, who I am so lucky to have in my life.

Today as I was getting ready to make the annual call to sing her our song:

I got a little nostalgic about what this amazing woman has done for me over the years. Despite the fact that she was a relentless tease when we were little ;), she was always the outgoing one, introducing me to new kids on the playground or encouraging me to try something new with her. As we got older, we stuck together...lots of moving meant that we always had each other, even as we each made our own friends and pursued our own interests.

Amie painted this for me (that's me on a donkey)
In high school she ran like a deer (I ran more like a hedgehog) and crushed it on the golf team; I was more of the music and theater girl. But our differences made us closer in the important ways. We shared a room for most of high school and got so used to being together that when we moved into a house where we could have our own rooms, sometimes she'd come sleep on my floor just because she missed me. Amie is a phenomenal artist and one of the best writers I know...her Facebook posts are so funny that she has people who've friended her who she's never met, just because they want to read her hilarious updates. But its not just her writing...she's always funny. One night when I was in 6th grade, I was really sick and Amie decided to put on a show for me to make me feel better. She blared Bette Davis Eyes and did a dance that, to this day, made me laugh harder than I've ever laughed in my life (there were some hand/eye gestures that, if YouTube had been around back then, would have made her a viral video bazillionaire).

Although I am the older sister, Amie was always the scrappy one. When my on-again, off-again boyfriend in high school was suddenly "off" again, she waited for him to get out of work at his car with a baseball bat and informed him that if he ever messed with me again, she'd use it. When she finished Army boot camp and showed me the video of her in the gas chamber...I was in awe. That was my little sissy. I don't think she probably knows how proud of her I am, how proud I am that she is my sister. And how happy I am that she's stuck with me forever.

There are countless stories I could tell you about her, but she could tell those stories better herself, I'm sure. She's the family storyteller. There is something powerful about shared history, shared grounds you, supports you, makes you feel safe. Amie has listened to me, given me tough love, and made fun of me my whole life (minus that first year). She inspires me and I miss her desperately, especially today.

So happy birthday sissy and my best friend. And yes, I know, I'll ALWAYS be older...I know you'd want me to add that in :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

False advertising

I've been amused to see the CFCC filing a complaint with the FCC against "Your Baby Can Read." Besides the issue of why you'd even want your baby to read, what amazes me is that people STILL set aside what they know to be true (eg, babies can't read) because they want to believe that they can make their lives better through a quick fix (eg, drinking Vitaminwater). It holds true that a fool and his money are easily parted.

People can claim anything. I run into this a lot in my business...I've been working in virtual worlds for three years now, and I can count on one hand the number of people I know who are both experts in adult learning, organizational change AND virtual worlds. There just aren't that many people who have that knowledge and depth of expertise.

I do, however, run into people all of the time who claim they design for virtual worlds or immersive environments. If you knew what you were looking for, or scratched beneath the surface even a little bit, you'd find they don't know what they are talking about. But people LOVE to hear the marketing messages and see the shiny packaging, even if it turns out to be a lot of hype with no substance.

Do yourself a favor. If you are going to pay money for something, do a little research to make sure you're not just buying the marketing message. There are experts out there who actually DO know what they are talking about, have experience doing it, and aren't just saying the buzzwords in an appealing arrangement.

Oh, and do us all a favor and don't call yourself a thought leader