Author: somechum

Joy to the World: Our Christmas Letter

Christmas-trust-fund

As another glorious year draws to a close, our family can’t help but reflect on the numerous blessings that continue to pour down on us.

Yes, we Plotkins have much to be thankful for.

The year began with our annual post-Christmas shopping spree at our city’s most upscale mall (spending a small portion of my hearty year-end bonus). We like to think we’re just doin’ our part to stimulate the world economy…

Heather and Mike continue to enjoy a wonderful marriage free from all conflict and strife. Given all the sad sacks running rampant, we feel so fortunate to have found each other.

The kids never cease to impress their teachers and peers with their overachievements. Jacob earned the “Outstanding Math Student” award (for the second-consecutive year), and Jordan nabbed herself a certificate for perfect spelling performance. And even though little Jo-Jo is too young to be enrolled in Montessori school just yet, her nanny assures us that the little angel is starting to show signs of accelerated learning tendencies.

This year’s Plotkin vacations included Maui, Vancouver and the Western Caribbean. We also squeezed in several random weekend getaways, just for kicks.  

We’re pleased to report our fair share of 2010 home improvements as well: installing a pool, expanding our south deck, and renovating our five-year-old kitchen. With a few more upgrades, our home should truly be Dwellworthy.

Unfortunately, the year also had its share of sad news. Aunt Jessie is slowly recovering from her second hip replacement, and Grandpa Paul continues to nurse his chronic bad back. Diabetes has sadly taken its toll on poor Grandma Wilkins as well. She is largely confined to her house and walks with a cane. 

We were so grateful to hear the recent news that cousin Jesse successfully completed his rehab program, and we remain hopeful that the third time will indeed be a charm.

On the charitable front, we donated several trash bags of gently worn clothes to Goodwill, and several of us spent nearly 90 minutes volunteering at the local Salvation Army soup kitchen. Sometimes it can be so gratifying to give to those who are less fortunate.

We’re especially thankful to you, our cherished family and friends, for your tireless love and support. May you join us in pausing to remember the true reason for the season.

Lotsa Plotkin Love

Mike
Heather
Jacob
Jordan
Jo-Jo 

Kids

 

Giving Thanks for a Bountiful Harvest

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About 20 years ago, my dad started a Plotnick family tradition. Prior to launching into our annual Thanksgiving feast, we would go around the table and each share at least one thing we were thankful for.

A corny exercise to be sure, yet this ritual developed into a cherished family tradition. Responses typically ranged from the trite (“my health”) to the heartfelt (“being blessed with great friends”) to the downright shallow (“having four TVs.”)

In the spirit of said tradition, I’m pleased to reveal that I’m thankful for Twitter and the bountiful virtual harvest of people it has brought my way, including (but not limited to):

Special friends from @HOKNetwork: 
@anicajeanne@knd7@ArchiDame@sustainableguy@jeffsetter@jvandezande
@jodephinea@johncantrell and another couple phantom tweeters.

A real Motley Crew:
@NextMoon@GinaRMiller@AllisonBroSco and honorary crewmate @bsco12. 

Elite tweeters from SMPS D.C:
@reillybri@mike_kohn, @markitectureDC and @ErinOrr (a fellow AEC turncoat).

Divine communicators from IABC St. Louis:
@dorasmith@Mgwilson and @loiterstein

A band of merry #SoMegos:
@galvinium@HollyBolton@scottdbutcher and @a_kilbourne.

A world-class: 
author (@judywriter), blogger (@GemmaWent),
consultant (@newvoodou), photographer (@BradFeinknopf), 
ringleader(@SuButcher), CMO (@kirstensibilia), 
futurist (@Urbanverse), entrepreneur (@KellyFerrara) 
and family man (@Matt_Hawk). 

With gratitude…

MIKE

Harvest

 

Greenbuild with Envy

Frog

Anyone who’s ANYONE in the building professions is heading to Chicago for the biggest, brashest, greenest trade show on the planet: Greenbuild ‘10. Unfortunately, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines this year, having traded my architectural pedigree for an alternate one in the global payments industry.

I experienced my inaugural Greenbuild last year in Phoenix, and I had a blast helping to capture Green Aha! Moments from willing conventioneers.

This year, the HOK booth (#1122) will showcase the firm’s prototypical design of a market-rate office building with net zero emissions (check out the free companion iPhone app). And, in signature HOK style, the firm also will invite passers-by to share their ideas for moving beyond net zero.

Anyone who’s ANYONE will be there. Tell ’em SomeChum sent you.

 

Meet My New Metallic Bundle of Joy

I’ve recently endured one of the most traumatic experiences of an indecisive consumer’s life: purchasing an automobile. For someone who obsesses over buying toothpaste, this is quite a nerve-racking feat.

Over the past several months, I’ve pored over online reviews, labored through showroom sales pitches, and taken my fair share of crucial test drives.

And, of course, I’ve done quite a bit of good old-fashioned waffling along the way.

Growing weary of this madness, I finally sealed the deal this Saturday, purchasing a 2011 Volkswagen CC. She’s a delightful metallic light brown color, and her innards are black “leatherette” (our little secret).

Here’s to “CC Plotkin,” my little metallic bundle of joy. Please be gracious to her as she passes you on the open road.

 

 

Death to the Happy Meal

Unhappy

In case you missed this important development amid last week’s election hoopla, the city of San Francisco has just banned the Happy Meal.

It’s true – the SF Board of Supervisors has put a stop to those death boxes marketed by McDonald’s because (gasp!) they contain a toy that may, in fact, entice kids to want them.

Seems city officials deemed the calorie, fat, salt and sugar content in these meals to be too elevated for the public good. Accordingly, McDonald’s and its brethren must either adapt their kids’ fare to meet specific nutritional criteria or remove those plastic lures altogether.

I guess their logic is that kids will be less likely to beg their parents to buy a Happy Meal if it doesn’t contain a Buzz Lightyear action figure.

Childhood obesity epidemic or not, I think this action is highly misguided – and a bit frightening (in the slippery slope sense of the word.)

But while they’re in Gestapo mode, our government friends in the city by the bay might also consider enacting bans on the following activities immediately:

Trick or treating  [a needless ritual whose entire goal is to gather – and ingest – as many empty calories as possible]

Backyard football  [everything’s fun until someone gets paralyzed]

Hairstyles exceeding the shoulder region  [far too distracting to others and a potential tangling nightmare]

Neighborhood ice cream trucks  [menacing mobile marketers of bomb pops and other frozen evil]

Sleeping past 8 a.m.  [let’s face it, only sloths sleep in]

Casual kissing  [unless, of course, you want to expose yourself to herpes, hepatitis, trench mouth and a host of other communicable diseases]

Coloring outside the lines  [an obvious gateway to nonconformity and lawlessness]

Lighting candles after dark  [these wax infernos are just one enormous fire hazard]

Midnight snacks  [cereal after noon is completely irresponsible and unnecessary]

Wearing Crocs  [they just aren’t appropriate fashion statements for anyone at anytime] 

 

Hi, I’m Mike, and I’m Not a Mormon

But I do know a compelling marketing campaign when I see one.  

A series of “I’m a Mormon” TV and radio spots are running rampant in St. Louis, and they are striving to convince the non-LDS masses that Mormons aren’t as freaky as we might believe.

Not surprisingly, these vignettes make no mention of such contentious “Mormon issues” as polygamy, special underwear, baptizing the dead, or Joseph Smith and his golden plates.

What they do present are attractive, articulate, successful men and women talking about their lives and interests. Joy is a world-champion longboarder. Jeff is a sculptor and motorcyclist. Cassandra is a painter.

So why are our LDS friends investing in this high-end, pricey media campaign? Some have surmised that these spots (which are running in nine mid-sized “swing-state” cities) were created to help normalize the Mormon faith in advance of Mitt Romney’s run for the White House in 2012.

Spokesmen from the Mormon organization have vehemently denied this accusation, but I’ll admit it’s a compelling one.

We’ll have to see if the campaign spreads to other cities and builds momentum alongside a certain former governor from Massachusetts.

Tb_mormon_450

The man behind the curtain?

 

Even a counter-campaign is spawned!

 

My Dancing-with-the-Stars Recruits (#DWTS)

I’ll admit I can barely distinguish a Quickstep from a quick lube. But I can spot a must-see TV lineup from miles away.

That’s why I am coming to the rescue of the Dancing with the Stars producers with some kickin’ nominees for next year’s season.

Despite exceptional ratings for this (my virgin) DWTS season, it’s going to be a challenge to maintain the momentum next year. So I have taken it upon myself to suggest a DWTS Dream Team, representing the finest in politics, athletics and show business:

THE GALS:

Gloria Allred – I’ll bet this ambulance-chasing “attorney” is just aching to kick off her sensible shoes and kick it into high gear.

Sylvia Browne – Clearly, this psychic wonder needs to get off her psychic ass and start her blood a-pumping.

Ann B. Davis – At 84, this Brady-loving maid could show up that spotlight-craving Florence Henderson in no time flat.

Mindy McCready – In and out of jail (even after her stint on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”), this country gal is poised for a Texas-sized comeback.

Janet Reno – Ever since Saturday Night Live concocted the infectious “Janet Reno’s Dance Party,” I’ve craved a glimpse of this former Attorney General busting a spicy cha-cha.

Raquel Welch – No 70-year-old woman has a right to be this hot. But since she is, let her dance, people!


THE GUYS:

Dennis Kucinich – His wife is half his age and twice his height, so this presidential hopeful has absolutely no trouble reaching for the sky.

Yao Ming – At the other end of the spectrum is a 7-foot 6-inch, 310-pound man who consistently tears it up on the basketball court. Let’s see what happens when King Ming is mainstreamed with normal-sized humans.

Dick Cheney – Rumor has it that this ticking time bomb of a former Vice President has some impeccably fancy feet.

Joe Paterno – This legendary, nerd-like Penn State football coach has the potential of becoming the first contestant eliminated before the music even begins.

Brett Michaels – Who doesn’t adore this heavy-metal-god-who-nearly-died-then-won-the-Celebrity-Apprentice? The camera loves him. He loves himself more.

Mel Gibson – He’s offended Jews, blacks, women and various other minorities. That still leaves a good portion of us ready to witness another meltdown.

 

Any other nominees you’d like to put forth?

 

Get Thousands of New Followers…

…Be Worthy of Following.

Twitter

Pardon the glib counsel, but I’ve grown weary of the get-rich-quick-without-lifting-a-finger schemes being peddled to greedy little tweeters.

I’ll admit to being intrigued by these “services” – particularly during my primitive tweetin’ days, when I naively bought into the hype about the importance of building up my raw numbers. I assumed more followers must mean more power and influence.

Silly, silly boy.

The truth is, thousands of random, disengaged “followers” are virtually worthless for anything other than puffing up one’s sense of self-importance.

So, tempting as they may be, I will forego these promises of a gazillion instant Twitter followers and opt to get mine the good old-fashioned way. By earning them.