Can the human brain actually calculate risk?

Japan’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear plant explosions have prompted thousands of news segments and blog posts on risk. Here in Los Angeles, we’re being inundated with risk calculations from experts and officials on a variety of potentialities – the risk of radiation exposure in LA from Japan among them (I was […]

Oklahoma clay takes beautiful form in Frankoma Pottery

There’s nothing particularly fancy about a piece of satin-finished Frankoma pottery, made of creamy beige clay from the Arbuckle Mountains or reddish clay from Sugar Loaf Hill. But something about its blend of Western inspired lines and practicality appeal to me, and I’m proud to have more than a few pieces around my home. And […]

Google can do that?! JC Penney manually demoted in search ranking for black-hat dealings

New York Times writer David Segal likens Google to the entrance to the largest shopping mall on the planet. I’ll take it a step further and call the innovative search company one of the most powerful media companies in the world. Its search results dictate the information that most of us read on whatever topic sparked […]

How to write a media advisory easy as pie

Whether you’re promoting a pie-eating contest, a press conference on the courthouse steps or a perfume product launch, a media advisory is a great tool for inviting the media, particularly television and radio. I think of media advisories as shorthand press releases – a means for delivering the who, what, where, when and how in […]

Even the ghosts have left this Oklahoma town

It was the opposite of an Oklahoma land rush in Picher this week, as giant yellow CATs started knocking down abandoned homes and businesses in this town scarred by eight decades of mineral mining.   Most of the town, including its multiple piles of discarded rock, zinc and lead the size of office buildings and […]

Writing a news release that works

Despite widespread reports of its demise at the hands of social media, the news release is not just alive, but relevant. Its basic format continues to be an important way to distribute content to both online and traditional media.   The same principles that scored publicity for “Mad Men” still work today — a good […]

Get past write fright to the first draft

Write fright, or fear of the blank page, is hard to overcome. The white page on the computer screen seems naked, and my attempts at sentence fragments, much less paragraphs, offer it as much cover as a fig leaf. Maybe I should use a larger font. Try double spacing.   More experienced writers offer abundant […]

Hallelujah flash mob video

Came across the video of a flash mob choir at a New York mall food court giving an impromptu performance of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. The singing is beautiful, the enjoyment on the faces of the listeners and the performers is sweet, and the debate on the comments among atheists and Christians alike in favor of […]

Funny Writing Has Attitude that Binds

Like a stand-up comedian, a writer who wants to make a reader laugh out loud uses attitude combined with observation.  Usually, this means departing from the norms of polite conversation or objective writing, and incorporating feelings, opinions and (mis)perceptions to grab the reader’s attention. Observation provides the topic; attitude makes compelling writing. Judy Carter, author […]

Fall is best time to plant in SoCal

Department stores are decked out for Christmas, and the turkey cooking hotlines have operators waiting to assist you with Thanksgiving dinner questions, and I’m thinking about spring. No, I’m not a scrooge looking to get the holidays over as quickly as possible. I’ve learned from experts and seven years experience promoting drought-tolerant gardening that right […]