Archives for September 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches?


Today Mark Zuckerberg, founder of, donated $100 million to the Newark public school systems and before the announcement was even officially made, the critics were out for blood. The New York Post reported the story of his donation by calling Zuckerberg a “conniving backstabber who may have stolen the idea for his social networking site.” New York Magazine called it the “PR move of the month.” And many are speculating that this was only done to improve his social image and erase some of the ill will that has befallen him since it was announced by the Forbes 400 that he was the 35th wealthiest person in America. The Wall Street Journal even states that Zuckerberg has “learned the offsetting PR value of philanthropy.”

Are we really going to encourage people to do good deeds when this is how we treat them? Mark Zuckerberg is donating $100 MILLION to the Newark public school system! I feel like I need to keep repeating that, lest anyone forget.  Yes, we live in a cynical society because we’ve been privy to the dirty underbelly of the wealthy, powerful and political and maybe I’m being overly optimistic and naïve when wanting to believe and see the best in people. I really do feel that Zuckerberg is doing a great thing for the educational system in Newark because no matter what, those children are going to benefit.

When he made his announcement on today’s Oprah Winfrey Show, Zuckerberg said, “I’ve committed to the startup education foundation whose first project will be a $100 million project grant.” Oprah had to actually urge her audience to give a standing ovation but I think that had more to do with shock then disrespect. “Every child deserves a good education. I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life and a lot of that comes from having gone to really good schools and I just want to do what I can to make sure that everyone has those same opportunities,” Zuckerberg continued.  He said he chose Newark because he “really just believes in these guys,” referring to Newark Mayor Cory Booker. “Being good in business is about finding really great leaders and investing in them.”  Zuckerberg said that his overall goal is to turn Newark into a symbol of educational excellence and Oprah let Zuckerberg know that all eyes will be on Newark.  She also informed the audience that she actually had to convince Mark Zuckerberg to go public with his donation, something he had originally wanted to do anonymously!

Whether or not you believe he did this altruistically or with ulterior motives, at least we can agree that this will change the educational landscape of public schools and possibly inspire other financial leaders to step up and give back to our educational systems all across the country.

The Pomodoro Technique: Efficiency at its Best


I strive daily to discover new ways to work better, harder, and be more efficient. Typically this involves a lot of surfin’ the net, which, as you can imagine, is not conducive to being more efficient. If anything, it is the exact opposite of efficiency. Researchers are discovering that all of these distractions we are bombarded with on a daily basis are actually detrimental to our thought process and can lead to shorter attention spans and possibly inferior intelligence. Think about, how many times do you check your email or get distracted by an advertisement or link on a website? How often do you search the internet not really knowing what you are looking for or what you hope to find. You end up on a shopping site and before you know it you have purchased a pair of boots and a purse when you were supposed to be writing copy for work. It isn’t all bad because if not for randomly searching the ‘net I wouldn’t have found The Pomodoro Technique to begin with and therefore wouldn’t be on my way to productivity transformation.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method. It was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s as a way to improve his own study methods. Essentially, what Cirillo did was use a 25-minute kitchen timer (it happened to be in the shape of a tomato, hence the name “pomodoro” technique).  What Cirillo advises you do is turn on a timer and force yourself to sit down and face the task at hand for at least 25 minutes, with 5 minute breaks in between. Once you have completed 2-4 25 minute timed increments you should have completed your task. It takes a lot of self-control and you have to be dedicated to the focus needed to stay true to the technique. If you don’t have a timer you can use an online timer like this one. (Thanks to Sarah Wilson for directing me to this “method” and the handy online timer as well). I personally like the ticking sound because it really pushes me to completely zone out on any exterior distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.  After you use it a few times it really does become white noise and it is a great way to keep track of your time and efforts. The key to success is to avoid distractions, enhance your focus and concentration.

In just the first few times I tried this timing method I was able to accomplish everything on my to do list and that, to me, is a success!

I’m amazed


I’m amazed sometimes when I see what people are capable of doing to change and improve their lives. These people have hope and believe in the possibility of great things happening at any given moment. They are optimistic and energetic and inspiring. But here is the interesting thing about people who make great things happen in their lives, at some point along the way they felt like giving up. They felt like throwing in the towel and wallowing in their own self-pity. Why? Because it is a lot easier to collapse, to pull the sheets over your head and cry until your face is puffy and tear stained and your eyes are swollen. It is a lot easier to say “Why me?” then pull yourself up by your bootstraps and push forward. And even the people who have made huge strides in their life and are either on the brink of success or smack dab in the middle of it, they still feel like failures from time to time. They, too, have bad days. Worthless days when they feel like everything and everyone is conspiring against them.

The most important thing is to keep on going! Keep pushing through the dark times, through the difficult times, through the times when you are convinced that nothing is ever going to go right. Don’t say, “who cares?” or “why should I even bother?” You should ALWAYS care because we only get one shot at this thing called life and we owe it to ourselves, and to everyone who has ever or will ever love us, to give it all we’ve got.

I lost two people this year and it made me question the meaning of life A LOT! It made me wonder why we even bother making friends or loving people if we are just going to lose them. Throughout the year I have faced some really dark days but also some really beautiful days. That is what life is all about, peaks and valleys. Make the most of those peaks, squeeze every bit of beauty and appreciation out of them. See every beautiful star in the sky, watch every sunrise with awe, soak in the sound of children laughing or the rhythmic beauty of waves crashing on the beach. Breathe it, feel it, live it. And when things go wrong, or darkness falls, as it will from time to time, barrel through. Endure it, learn from it and move on. Take pride in your life. Be kind to yourself and throw as much love out into the world as you possibly can and I promise it will all come back to you in ways you never expected.

Love, love, love,


Boardwalk Empire on HBO


Steve Buscemi has found the role of a lifetime! In Martin Scorcese’s television series, Boardwalk Empire, he plays a politician who plays all sides of the law in 1920’s Atlantic City. Prohibition has just gone into effect, people are living it up in whore houses and dancing down the boardwalk in all of their flapper glory. This show just might do for alcohol in the 20’s what Mad Men has done for advertising in the 60’s. Entertainment Weekly wrote:

Buscemi’s shifty-eyed fixer has no scruples about ordering beat-downs, but he also has a soft heart for a few people who impress him. One is Michael Pitt’s Jimmy Darmody, a smart but indigent World War I vet who’ll do as he’s told with tortured loyalty to rise in Nucky’s operation.

I love the 20’s and the sets and details are impeccable, the costumes, the scenery, even the advertisements. Michael Pitt shines as Buscemi’s sidekick and reminds me of a younger Leonardo DiCaprio. Apparently Buscemi’s character “Nucky” is based on real-life Nucky Johnson, a political boss and racketeer. Watching a pregnant mother get physically abused by her husband in front of her crying children just about broke my heart and someone needs to give the three-year old daughter an Emmy right now because those tears left me weeping! And I also loved the historical drop-ins like Al Capone, it makes it fun and brings history to vivid, HBO-style, technicolor life. (Could have done without the Steve Buscemi sex scene.)

This was certainly a departure from my Kardashian, Bachelor, CW bubble gum shows and it is violent, complex and dark, but it is also intelligent and well-crafted. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from the light fluff and learn a thing or two. Don’t worry…tomorrow is the premiere of Dancing with the Stars and I can guarantee some thought-provoking analysis of Bristol Palin’s dance floor skills and Brandy’s chemistry with Maksim.

The Killers


Not since the 1989 Tom Hanks movie The Burbs has suburbia seen so much weird action. However, I will say that Ashton Kutcher oozes charm in this slightly lackluster but nevertheless entertaining film. It’s definitely an enjoyable rental and one that can hold your interest right through to the end. Katherine Heigl is a little stiff in the role of female comedic lead but Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara shine.

Gossip Girl


I admit that I fell behind last season with the wonderland that is Gossip Girls and I have heard murmurings about a Dan Humphrey/Michelle Trachtenberg baby!? How did I miss that?! So you can imagine how upset I was when I learned that not only did I miss the finale last season but the PREMIERE came and went without so much as even a slight twinge that something was missing from my DVR list. Luckily has full episodes on line, so all was not lost.

First of all, the hardest part about watching a show online is that it almost seems as if there are more commercials than on traditional television…or maybe it’s just because I have become so accustomed to watching my shows on DVR. Yes it is convenient to find shows you missed online, but it is still a nuisance to see the same commercial for Under Armor or Nike or just the CW’s “TV to talk about” ad on repeat. But that is beside the point.  Let’s get right to GG.

How much do I love Paris!? doesn’t need to have advertisements for running apparel, they just need to get funding from Paris because this show made me want to book my ticket asap! It was like one long (and luxurious!) commercial for all things Paris. The shops, the Eiffel Tower, the cobblestone streets! Oh mon dieu! I was hooked from the first scene, which is probably why I missed most of the plot surrounding Blair and her prince. However, I did not miss Serena’s short shorts? Is that really first date attire? In Paris? And with royalty, no less? Oh poor Blair, you will always remain in the shadow of your blonde (slutty) friend, no matter how adorable you are. But the push in the fountain was sweet, sweet revenge!

I do like the new addition of Katie Cassidy as “Juliet”…she’s the perfect love match for Chace Crawford. Their babies would be beautiful! And the cherry on top was her reading House of Mirth when she made her first GG appearance.

Continuing with my CW themed post….I did NOT miss Miss Tyra Banks and her newest “smize-ing” batch of wannabe models.

America's Next Top Model

This week the girls were asked to reveal what qualities made them feel unpopular in school (manly, queer, weird) and write these destructive words on their bodies along with an empowering word to go along with it. Disney star Demi Lovato came to speak to the girls about the issue of bullying and how it’s something she, too, has had to deal with in her life. Apparently, this year Tyra has upped the ante and the girls are now competing for a spread in Italian Vogue. There are a few early standouts, one being the extremely awkward, gangly and amazingly tall Ann, the Gisele Bundchen-like Esther and the square jawed Jane. I’m not super excited for this season, but I am always slightly ambivalent to a new cast of characters. It usually takes until the makeover episode (which is scheduled for this Wednesday) for me to become fully immersed in the lives of Tyra’s girlz.

{Image via The CW}

New Real Housewife of NYC


It hasn’t been officially confirmed by Bravo but US Magazine is reporting that the newest cast member to the Real Housewives of NYC is Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare, a chain of spas specializing in hair removal. I’m sure this will lead to some very uncomfortable and way too personal conversations with the women, particularly Ramona Singer who has spent the past few seasons telling us about her sweating problem. Apparently the Real Housewives franchise had to scramble to find a replacement for the beloved Bethenny who just announced that her solo series will be coming back for a second season…no word on what the name will be but they do have to change it from Bethenny Getting Married? to something a little more relevant (considering the question was answered last year when Bethenny DID get married…and had a baby to boot).  How about Bethenny Getting Richer! ? That way they can cover everything from her new book to her workout video to her Skinnygirl mixed drinks. Did that sound snarky? I’m sorry if it did…it’s just that I much preferred Bethenny when she was the voice of reason on the RHONYC…now that she is solo, she just kind of rubs me the wrong way…but maybe I liked her better when she was the underdog. Now that she’s the “Top Dog” things aren’t as fun.



I am beyond excited to begin my Australian adventure! Every Australian picture I have stumbled across seems to depict a bright, sunshine-filled wonderland of adventure, lush tropical life, bustling cities and enormous expanses of beaches.  The people seem larger than life and there doesn’t seem to be a shortage in activities (snorkeling anyone?). To be a part of the Oprah Show audience when Oprah herself made the announcement still seems surreal. There I was, sitting next to my mother, surrounded by friendly strangers, all anticipating Ms. O’s appearance on stage. What will the topic of the show be? Will it be the premiere episode? Will there be a celebrity guest?

When I first found out I was going, I immediately started going through my litany of to-do lists and obligations. I feared that taking a break wasn’t a realistic or even doable possibility. “I can’t go halfway across the world in less than three months?” I said to myself. “That is completely unrealistic and just plain crazy.” I live a life of routine. My days blend effortlessly into one another and I rarely stray from my path. I work diligently and consistently and every to-do list that I create in the morning, I have completed by the time I go to bed. Australia wasn’t on my to-do list. Australia wasn’t even a tiny speck on the horizon. Travel wasn’t in the itinerary for my life right now. But then life took me on a wild ride. Flown to Chicago, put up in the Omni Hotel on Michigan Avenue, a dinner overlooking the city lights, none of this was planned. It all came out of nowhere. And now this. A trip to Australia out of the blue! And I get to go with my mother. I get to build memories and experience the trip of a lifetime.

Now I get to create a brand new to do list. “Things to do to prepare for Australia!”

-Get a passport!

I can’t wait to cross that off my list. Stay tuned…

The Farewell Season Begins…

in a little over 24 hours. I was lucky enough to be invited to be a part of this spectacular episode. I can’t wait until Monday afternoon when the world will know what happens! Stay tuned…

Sephora Splurges


What did I get at Sephora tonight….

Well, let’s see…I started off with Laura Mercier’s Tinted Oil-Free Moisturizer


Then I continued on the LM bandwagon with their Mineral Pressed Powder


And because I have been feeling like I have neglected my curls lately, I bought a mini-travel pack of Ouidad products because they come in perfect sample sizes. I’ve never used Ouidad products but have been very curious about their efficiency. So I will test them out and let you know. (All my curly-haired girls can sympathize with the unpredictable nature of curls and the endless desire to find the “perfect” product.)

One curly-haired girl who rocks the curls is Keri Russell (although, ever since her Felicity days, she seems to be going the loose curl route). I have to admit that I thought she was one of the best dressed at this weekend’s Emmy’s and her makeup was absolutely flawless! I love the light pink hues with a very natural look.


I’m attending a wedding this weekend (even though Hurricane Earl is threatening to ruin all the fun…and the hair!) and haven’t decided if I am going to go straight or curly, so I will be testing out these products between now and Friday. I also picked up some pretty eye shadows in grey tones and I’m going to be experimenting with them as well.

And I was really, really tempted to buy the Clarisonic MIA


It’s about $145…kind of expensive…which is why I didn’t buy it and instead bought this for around $6: