Thursday, April 30, 2009

Morel Mushroom Season

It's Morel season. Here in Ohio Morel mushrooms pop up in the woods during the months of April and May. Old Shroomers look forward to it every year. They all have their "secret spots" where they know Morels are likely to grow, and most would endure waterboarding before revealing their location.

Morels are a very tasty spring time treat. One of the few things left in this world that are still seasonal, rare, and special. Some great recipes can be found here.

Hunting for Morels is an art. It's like searching for treasure. They grow in the woods and only in very moist soil. Look for May Apples in bloom growing near rotted wood on the forest floor. Apple, Elm and Poplar trees are favorite clues for trained shroom hunters.

Julie Zickefoose hunts morels on her 80-acre nature preserve near Whipple Ohio. She writes about her priate like passion on NPR's website:

The morel organism is a huge underground system called a mycelium, which is made up of connected fungal strands and clods that can cover acres. It can live for decades, but it doesn't put forth fruit every year. What we see aboveground — those hollow, rubbery, wrinkled manifestations — are just the fruiting bodies of the ancient, secret creature living deep beneath the ground.

We pick ours into a mesh onion bag, and we swing it like a censer as we walk, hoping that we're spreading precious spores as we go. Back home, we rinse them briefly, then sprinkle the holy wash water back where we found them, completing a ritual of thanks to the fungus that feeds us.

Picking morels feels like stealing treasure from the rich soil; cutting their firm, shapely forms into little wheels is a sensual pleasure. A rich, peaty smell rises up from them. When butter begins to bubble in the pan, you drop the mushrooms in, and the liquid pours out of them. They're tender in moments, and you must remove them while you reduce the sauce. A dash of white wine, a tiny dollop of mustard, green onions and a whomp of sour cream; salt to taste, and you return the little wheels to their sauce, drizzling them over rice, pasta or meat.

Morels fairly explode with complex flavor, with woodsy, earthy, mysterious notes.

They taste like nothing else on Earth; they're in a class with truffles and caviar. And best of all, they're free.

If you decide to give Morel hunting a try, do a little research first, or go with an experienced shroomer, because the "false morel" is a similar looking mushroom that grows in the same conditions and while some people tolerate it well, it ha been known to make others very sick.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Strolling Alone in a Thunderstorm

On a recent trip to New York I had some time to kill before my meeting, so I took in a lunch seminar at the Tribecca YMCA in Manhattan. A fella named Mark Stevens was doing a little promo for his book Your Marketing Sucks. Mark was entertaining and informative, and the salad buffet was pretty good too.

Below is Marks latest blog post. The writing is surprisingly good. I love the construction of the opening line, and the way it all ties back into a reinforcement of the theme at the end.

By Mark Stevens

When I was a teenager, the rolling, rumbling drumbeat of an oncoming thunderstorm was a clarion call for me to run outside into the slashing water and the electric bolts and take in the random beauty of nature gone wild.
I did not believe lighting could strike me. I had not an iota of concern about a tree crashing down on my body. I felt exhilerated to be alone in God’s fireworks and to learn from them.
What did I learn? Well, before I get directly to that, many years later I was walking by the ocean on a December day in the salty freeze of a Maine beach. All around me, the remains of a thouands storms were strewn by the waterfront, tree trunks laced with weeds and fishermens’ boots, all topped by sand and sea foam.
The storms and the sea shared a common element: both were shaped by the unpredictable. The random they were driven by a dynamic I could never understand or comprehend.
But that I could learn so much from. So what did the teen storms and the Maine beach and similar bouts with the wild teach me?
*That there is little value in the linear. It is the way traditional teaching is conducted and it is why the traditional rarely leads to breakthroughs.
*Putting yourself in the danger zone, out of your comfort zone, forces you to think in ways that are catalysts for change.
In business, every time I have had to deal with a threat, I have grown. Not immediately or directly. There were moments of fear and indecision and concern. And then, in the midst of the dilemma, I would see through the lightning and the foam and the pieces would assemble into an arrow that would lead me to a new direction. Often to personal growth. Always to passion and exhileration.
Just this week, I spoke to a friend who is frozen in the locks of a life that is not working. No joy at work. No discovery at rest. Just the perpetual motion machine of going through the motions of an existence that can be changed if the fear of the unknown is challenged and overcome. It is not easy but nor is anything worthwhile.
The only way to move through the ziggeraut of a life of achievement is to roll the dice now and then, risk the unknown, stroll in an electric storm. In business, it means expanding into unknown markets, investing in untested advertising, funneling dollars into R&D when the only certain outcome is an expense, trusting managers who have never yet to prove themselves.
There are a zillion reasons to do none of this. Played against the grand scheme of things, of the drive for success, none of these reasons are valid. They are why civil servants delight in safety. They are why risk takers roll the dice, absorb the speed bumps, detest safety nets, and invest in their companies, their team members, and in themselves, time and again.
The next time I want to make a step or a leap forward, I will not attend a Harvard seminar.
That will be me you see strolling in a hurricane.

Mark Stevens
and Author of The Unconventional Thinking Blog

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Twitter, Blogging, Linked-in: A Soical Networking Review

O.K., I am going to admit it: Twitter bores me. When I started writing and blogging back in the Bronze Age, I was excited about social media. I wanted to get my fingers on the pulse of the collective. I wanted to be informed, involved and Connected with a capital C.

Blogging was great for a while. I worked hard to seek out interesting voices and dynamic communities. I built my link list, I read other peoples work, commented on their sites, and followed best practice protocols. (Which basically means find a niche topic, blog every day, link to related sites, join communities, comment often, don't spam, and never feed the trolls.)

It was exciting, (especially during the elections) and in retrospect, I did learn a lot from the experience. But after a while, it all started to sound like white noise.

Then twitter came along. (That's twitter with a lower case t, as I'm told the creators prefer.) The buzz proclaimed it's wonderment. So I hooked in. I followed and was followed back. I tweeted and re-tweeted, and downloaded twirl and tweetdeck. I checked it often and clicked the little linkies. I tried hard to be a good little bird in the big bad flock. But it bored me.

Sure, I read stories from others who explained the practical value of twitter, and how it can be used as an effective tool for the on-the-go networker. I get it, it's has its uses. But in my personal experience, I have yet to tell one story of how twitter has provided me with a single snippet of information that has improved my life in any way shape or form.

I also got going of Facebook, because all the buzzers proclaimed it was the platform place to be. That experience has actually offered some mild amusement, as I have hooked in and chatted with some old school chums from long...(LOOONNNGGG) ago. But from a productivity standpoint, I put in in the category of my crossword puzzle: an amusing time waster that takes up about six minutes of my day.

After that, I built a self hosted blog on, because all the social networking gurus swear it's the only way to blog. The jury is still out on that one, as I need to give it a full six months to analyze the results; but for now, I am skeptical. The blogger platform has great community connectivity, and, uh, it's FREE. But we shall see, what we shall see as the experiment continues. I'll let you know.

Over all, the one platform other than blogger that I have found useful is Linked -In. Linked-In is referred to as an On-Line Resume tool, but it is so much more than that. People on Linked-In upload their professional resume, then join community user groups related to their fields of expertise, then write articles and join discussions. Everyone is careful to present a professional image, because its a job networking site. So, there is little troll behavior, no goofy gossip, no sexually explicit behavior, and almost all of the articles are well polished. Linked-In has led me to many real life networking events, seminars, classes, and work opportunities.

So all in all, I will continue to check facebook to connect with old friends, I will keep blogging when the muse strikes, and I will absolutely spend more time writing articles for Linked-In, but twitter bores me. I won't give up on it yet, as I want to carry the experiment through a full cycle, but for now, it earns a three yawn review.

Friday, March 20, 2009

AIG Bailout Security Memo released a leaked security memo from AIG today, warning employees of the beleaguered financial company to use caution in the face of public rage regarding the use of taxpayer bailout monies for million dollar executive bonuses. During congressional hearings yesterday, AIG CEO Edward Liddy expressed concern for the safety of AIG employees and entered into the record a threat letter that said “All of the executives and their families should be executed with piano wire around their necks."

Comedian Stephen Cobert personified public sentiment by wielding a pitchfork and calling on the mobs to storm the gates. The security memo advised employees to avoid wearing AIG apparel, travel in pairs, and dodge conversations with the media. Some additional words of caution might include:

*Avoid piano repairmen, and cancel any symphony engagements involving a strings section.

*Carry your golden parachute with you at all times.

*Refrain from lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, especially in public.

*Bulletproof your limo.

*Keep your “Get Out Of Jail Free” card on hand at all times.

Or, they could just , yanno, GIVE THE MONEY BACK!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pitbull Problem

I just got one of those viral "Warning" e-mails about Pitbulls. It said:

If you are an owner of a dog that belongs to a 'dangerous
breed category
and you also have a small child please take this as a
warning. Don't leave your
dog with the child unattended under any
circumstances. Only a little moment was
enough for the following to


Then I was directed to open the photo:

I've gotta tell you, it totally made may day. I once rescued a dog, a boxer mix, who was labeled as a Pitbull under Ohio law. Petey was the coolest, most laid back, gentle giant you could ever meet. He had the heart of a real softie, just like the dog in the photo above.

Now I don't want to lead people to believe they should not be cautious around these dogs. One thing I learned when working with wildlife is ALL ANIMALS CAN BITE. Caution is warranted. Especially when working with large animals that have the power and potential to do real bodily harm.
I almost lost my leg from an unfortunate incident with a horse many years ago, and still carry the scars. That horse was a sweetheart -- never meant me a lick of harm -- but she was a very large animal. She reared up when a tractor drove by and honked it's horn. We were riding on loose gravel. She lost her footing and fell over backwards. I was on top of her, and then underneath her. The saddle horn crushed my chest under her weight. My foot got caught in the stirrup. When she got up, she drug me about a hundred yards down the road. It nearly tore my leg off.

Big animals are dangerous. But that does not mean I no longer ride. And it does not mean large dog breeds should be eradicated as companion animals. It means proper training (for both animal and human handler) are in order. It means following good care and safety protocols. It means treating the animal in a loving responsible manner, and remembering risk exists in just about anything we do.

But as for me, well, I'll take those risks, because the wonder and joy of sharing my life with these animals is part of what makes life worth living.

My son with our ol' pal Petey.
(We miss ya buddy boy.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Peter, Please Answer

This site is a riot! Go to Peter, Please Answer and ask a question. If you do it right, Peter will know the answer.

It works like this:

You need a typer, and a person to ask a question.

the typer is in on the trick.

The typer says "ask any question, and Peter will know the answer."

So the skeptical person will ask something like "What's my dogs name?"

The typer types the question into the computer, and WOW! Peter Knows!
"Sparky-Boo-Boo-Doggy" appears on the computer screen in big bold letters.

The person is amazed and asks several more questions.

How does it work?

Peter takes over the keyboard. When the typer is supposedly typing the question, he or she is actually typing the answer.

Try it. Its a blast!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ask and ye shall recieve

I'm laughing under my breath this morning in pure amazement at the universe.

I am thankful for my friend Maggie, my "spiritual eye-doctor" who always helps me see The Divine with 20/20 vision.

Maggie is a spiritual teacher who says we can receive whatever we need from the Universe.

All we need do is ask.

She meditates and prays for the energies she needs in her life. She visualizes what she wants, and when she can see clearly, in her minds eye, a picture of her desired future, she often finishes her meditation by exclaiming: "Thank You Very Much! I'll Have Some of That!"

I always smile when I hear that expression, especially when she is working with women's groups. I see their eyes light up with surprise.

She demonstrates the prayerful optimism of a woman who feels deserving of the gifts of the divine.

I think a lot of people are pleasantly surprised by this, because deep down they feel unworthy to ask, and unworthy to receive. (Yanno, the old born sinful and filled with guilt thing.) But not my Maggie. In her world, we are all beautiful, perfect, and deserving of the Divine. Which is a pretty cool way to approach life if you ask me.

I love that concept, and I love Maggie for spreading that energy around.

So why am I laughing? Because in yesterdays blog post, I was writing about folks who blog, and our need to feel appreciated once in a while.

*Ask and the Universe will answer. *

Yep. It sure will. Guaranteed.

"So you need a little shot in the arm KelBell?" The Universe asked. "No problem, You can Have Some of That. Step right up and receive your gifts."

(The Universe answered my blog post via e-mail.)

That's right folks, The Divine uses the Internet. Go figure.

Apparently my other blog, won an excellence in Blogging Award yesterday, which is strange, because I didn't even know I was in the contest and even stranger because the timing is so very "Twilight Zone".

(Cue the theme music: doo-doo,doo- doo...doo-doo,doo-doo)

Here is what the e-mail said:

Dear Kelley,

I wanted to let you know that your blog made it to the semi-finalist round of the Blogger Appreciation Awards. Our judges looked over thousands of nominations and yours was only one of 200 (less than 10% of the submissions) that has been recognized for blogging excellence. While you did not make the final round of voting, you should feel proud of this accomplishment, knowing that we determined your blog to be in the top 10% of all submissions.

We encourage you to let your readers know about your accomplishment by featuring this badge on your blog:


So the Universe knows I'm trying, and knows I was feeling a little discouraged. I was asking myself if it's worth it to keep writing, and the Universe answered my question by sending me some bogus little blogger award.

She sends me a boost. Not a boost big enough to blow my head up, not a "HEY YOU WON THE BEST BLOGGER IN THE WORLD AWARD", but just a little "Keep on Truckin" message to give me the hope and fuel I need to keep on typing and try even harder tomorrow.

Pretty Cool.

But even cooler, is my gift from Maggie, who sees The Divine at work in every little thing we do, every single day.

Ya gotta Love that.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blogging communities

Blogging is about community. We set up our sites, connect to other sites, read each others posts, make comments, and make friends. We learn from each other. We experience the world through a wider lens. We are inspired by those amazing little insights we happen upon, and hope to inspire others in return.

We make each other laugh, and empathise with the struggles of people we have never even met.

But blogging is sometimes frustrating. When we write and hit the publish button, we are making a formal request to be heard.


Anybody out there?

Usually not.

Then comes the negative self talk. Nobody cares. Maybe my ideas are not valid. Maybe i don't have anything worthy to add to the conversation. Or a Stewart Smally of SNL might put it:

"I'm not good enough, I'm not smart enough, and nobody likes me."

Sometimes we go to blogs that get ten thousand comments for a post that consists of nothing but drivel. We look at an essay we wrote, or one of our on line friends wrote that clearly has heart and style and relevance, but garners nothing but a big fat goose egg on the stats page.

Hey if nobody is reading, whats the point?

Do you ever feel this way when you blog? If so, what makes you keep typing?

I have my reasons, which might be different than yours, but it is a subject I am exploring, and would like to learn more about. Ultimately, I believe this new world of Social Networking has the power to change the world, and I want to be a part of that. I believe when we empower individuals to speak their truth, and connect to one another, we all have the opportunity to grow as individuals, and improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

I see bloggers out there making a difference in the world of politics, by keeping the professional players honest, and by uniting large groups to pressure the establishment to do a better job.

I see artists and writers inspiring each other through their creative works.

I see self help groups banding together to help people work through their problems.

and beyond that, I feel so privileged to have had the chance to meet people out there who use their blogs to shine their own little lights, and just make my day a little brighter by sharing their souls with the world.

If you are out there, and I have seen your posts, Thank you. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have smiled, or laughed, or had pause for thought because of the things you have shared.

Collectively, you have all made a difference. You have all inspired. You are all a part of this journey. And i for one, am better for it.

I thank you, one and all.

Kelley Bell

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Great Tip for Dealing with Cold Winter Weather

I hate cold weather. REALLY hate it. I am one of those people whose toes turn to ice when the temp dips under 72 degrees.

But this morning, this lovely morning, when I awoke, I learned a new trick to make the cold months more bearable.

Last night I left my sweater hanging on the kitchen chair just above the heater vent.

When I put it on, oh my, what a delight! It felt as if it has just tumbled out of a hot dryer. I tell ya, it changed my mood for the entire day.

Old man winter, bring it on baby! I've got my defense now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Feminist Fumes when Insight Cable Co. Pulls a “Deloris Clayborn” Stunt

Insight Communications has implemented a "new security policy" that some (or at least one) feminist finds offensive.

After nearly twenty years of being the person in our family who calls Insight to make changes/upgrades to our service, today I was told “Your husband will need to call us and give permission for you to make any future changes to this account.”

I felt like Kathy Bates in the bank scene from the movie Dolores Claiborne.

“I’ve been the person handling this account for almost twenty years.” I said.
“It’s a new security policy. The account is in his name.”

“Yes, I know that. He started the service before we were married, but every time I call, ----and I am always the one to call-- you just ask me for our account number to verify my authorization.”

“Just have your husband contact us and provide his permission for you to handle the account. Then we will be happy to help you.”

Say What??????

Now maybe they DID institute a “new security policy”, or maybe, the difference is that today I was making a request to downgrade our service instead of upgrading. Maybe they added this policy in anticipation that a lot of wives would be calling in to cut back during these tight economic times, so they figured they might be able to “secure” some of their precious revenue if they added a few extra hoops for us to jump through.

I suspect that might be the case, because when I called, the rep asked for my account number as always, and was ready and willing to help me... that is until I mentioned I was mulling a scale back in our services. THEN all of a sudden, that "new policy" went into effect.

What Insight might well remember is that this ain’t the 1950’s and even the mere idea of a policy that invokes memories of the gender inequities of the past, is something they would be wise to avoid. Otherwise, their financial security might really be at risk, especially when they realize that 70% of the consumer spending in this country is controlled by women.


If you have any questions or concerns about your Insight service, they have a toll free number for your convience: 1-800–686–2200

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free Valentines Day Poetry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is offering a free download of her Cherished Pulse poetry as a Valentine's gift.

Isn't that sweet? Her offer embodies the free sharing of information that makes the webbernet so wonderful. (Her idea is also pretty handy for spendthrift Romeos trying to survive in our current economy.)

Click here to learn more about Cherished Pulse and how to do it.

Print out a poem on some fancy paper. Spray it with perfume. Glue on a flower or two, and present it to the one you love with a nice chunk of Ghirardelli Chocolate.

Happy V Day!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Do you want more readers for your blog?

Hey gang,

Do you want more readers for your blog? If so, I have a helpful tip to share. I have been off researching all the hottest websites, trying to learn what exactly they are doing right. Well, One of the things they do is apply to the Open Web Directory at DMOZ.

It is apparently a rather coveted thing to be accepted by DMOZ. Some folks wait several years before being accepted, and others never get accepted at all. The good news is, if you have a great site with good content, and stick to a subject matter that is not already over saturated, you might just find yourself accepted overnight.

It only takes a few minutes to apply, and is well worth it. Once your site is listed, it gets pumped out to all the major search engines on a regular basis and will drive tons of new traffic your way.

So give it a shot...we could all use a few thousand new friends.