Thursday, April 26, 2007

Daring to Ask

He was an older man with a weatherworn face. “I’m getting too old to do this,” he said to me as he crawled into the dark, narrow crawl space under my house for a termite inspection, one of those necessary steps in closing on a house. After a few minutes he climbed back out and ditched his coveralls. He started coughing and I offered him a glass of water to chase the dirt from his throat.

As is so often in the South, there was time for a little chitchat before the next inspection, and he shared what happened on one of his calls the previous day. After he had finished his work, the man noticed that the customer was doing some packing and asked, “Downsizing?” The woman suddenly burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” he asked. Slowly and tearfully, the woman related how her husband had abruptly left her. The husband took some furniture, and she was left to sell the house and move the rest of their belongings and her daughter. “I’m renting a truck and moving tomorrow and I don’t have anyone to help me.” The man with the weatherworn face said, “Well, you do now.” “I’ll be over here tomorrow afternoon.” He quickly called up a buddy and asked if he could help him move a ‘friend.’ The buddy yelled out to another friend who was over at his house, “Think you can help move somebody tomorrow?” “Sure.”

And as simple as that, the woman had three men coming to help her move. She, a freshly single mom with a daughter. Them, three men willing to give up a Saturday that could have been spent fishing, resting or watching NASCAR with a round or two of beers.

“Don’t eat,” she told the man with the weatherworn face as he was leaving, “I’ll have sandwiches for you.” “All right,” he said. “we’ll be here for lunch.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Steppin Out in Vegan Shoes

Boy, am I really falling behind the times! I tuned in to a few minutes of NBC's Today Show on Monday and caught a segment on vegan shoes or leather-free shoes. Remember the days when you wanted leather, and shoes made out of non-leather materials were considered cheap and inferior? Again, we have a repackaging or renaming that spins a product into vogue or eco-chic if you will.

From the New York City “fashion house,” Moo Shoes, comes the GI Jane shoe which actually sounds pretty natural but I don't know what all goes into car tires:
“The GI Jane is a great choice for the environmentally conscience fashionista. It has all the follwing great qualities: Woven Jute rand Nubby Cotton upper Bamboo linings Wooden button Removable natural laytex pedbed with a cotton canvas cover Natural crepe rubber midsole outsole is made of car tires Uses water based cements 100% post consumer paper pulp foot forms”
(Hey Moo Shoes folks, I'm available for copyediting)

At $85 retail, I’m not going to be buying these shoes. Shoes constructed of car tires, jute and paper pulp just don’t appeal to me for that matter, although I am a big flip-flops fan and consider those the ultimate vegan shoe; plus the price is
right. Remember the stink raised when some of Northwestern's women's lacrosse team wore flip-flops to the White House? They were ahead of their time.

However, one shoe featured on the Today Show did look pretty nice--a red patent faux leather shoe.

And while I’m not a vegan, I can appreciate those who choose to use products and foods for which no animal has given it’s life. But, me, I’m still going to buy leather (and rubber flip-flops)--the real stuff not the faux kind and please don’t picket my house, PETA.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Roll Tide, Roll!!!

Will the Tide roll next year under new Coach Nick Saban? Well, expectations are running high and anytime a team can get 100,000 fans to turn out for a spring game, you can safely say the fan-base is there. There were so many fans that turned out for the Tide's traditional A-Day game on Saturday that they couldn't all fit into Bama's newly enlarged stadium.

In all my years at BAMA I don't ever recall going to an A-Day game, but I would have yesterday if I had known in time that it was FREE. So, was it that the game was free or that we Alabama fans are letting our hopes get built up over the team under Coach Saban?

The game made the news here yesterday with the Montgomery Advertiser devoting a huge part of Sunday's front page to the story. I can't wait to see if the Tide will roll for sure in the fall, but Saturday leaves me really hopeful.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Presidential Political Advice from the Alabama Kitchen Sink

Where do I start? First off, no one is immune to the foot-in-mouth disease compounded by audio and video coverage of every move or appearance for presidents or those aspiring to be president. Are you nuts? What a thankless job! Y’all have some pretty big egos to take it on, I’ll grant you that.

Let’s just look at last week’s installment of how not to get elected president and a bonus what can happen when you do.

John Edwards gets $400 haircuts and film of him primping with a compact mirror while a woman sprays the ‘do’ with hairspray ends up on YouTube with an “I Feel Pretty” soundtrack. Advice: John, I love ya’, but next time go down to the barbershop and get a cut. The kind of shop where they leave the hair on the floor until it builds up real good. Take a film crew with you. Chat with the old codgers while you’re at it. AKS Advice to John’s team: don’t allow the senator to be filmed with any mirrors, combs or hairspray.

John McClain tries to be funny with a take-off of an old Beach Boys song, ‘Ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann,’ except his version is Bom bom bom bom bom Iran. AKS Advice: Senator McClain please refrain from singing or making jokes. You look so uncomfortable. AKS Advice to handlers: what are you guys doing to this candidate? He’s self-destructing. Senator, find a coffeeshop, you know the one where all the old war veterans hang out for their morning coffee and visit it. Definitely not Starbucks. Take a film crew with you.

Tommy Thompson complains about the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel which suggests he pull out of the presidential race after the former Wisconsin governor says making money is “part of the Jewish tradition.” AKS Advice: Governor, quit bellyaching and tone down the dye-job on the hair. AKS Advice to campaign team: figure out a message fast because I have no idea what Thompson stands for, and if former Senator Fred Thompson gets into the race, your guy is toast. Sorry, but he already is.

And I saved the best for last. President Bush deviates from the prepared speech and takes questions at Tippecanoe High in Ohio with apparently the world’s oldest students judging from the audience shown in the video (look at Keith Olberman's site on MSNBC if you can bear it) of the loopy appearance. AKS Advice: Sir, any conversation that involves a discussion of “chicken plucking factories or whatever you call them” is going to leave people shaking their heads and wondering what were you thinking or more likely, have you forgotten how to speak without a script. AKS Advice to the team: you guys are one swell bunch and you’re doing everything just right. Don’t change a thing except encourage the President to do more impromptu speaking.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I’m With You Mary

Long time readers may recall that our family is sending a son off to college next fall. Scott (and I) fell in love with Berry College in Rome, Georgia, when we visited last fall. This weekend he’s visiting Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, by himself, and it’s looking more and more like this will be the school for him next fall. Both of these colleges are small, private liberal arts schools. His dad and I would have liked to see Scott attend our Alma Mater, The University of Alabama, but it’s a large school and we thought he’d be more at home in a small college since he attended a small high school. Plus, he’s not so keen on football, the Greek system and Alabama in general.

With the Virginia Tech shootings so fresh on my mind, I tuned in this morning to MSNBC’s morning show with Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory hosting while the network figures out what it’s going to do with the Don Imus time slot. I don’t know if he’s pulling double duty, but so far I really like Gregory and the news-heavy focus. He has good guests and asks the questions I would be asking. Since it’s so early and his kids are younger, though, I could see him saying “no thanks” to a permanent assignment.

Anyway, I digress, dear gentle readers. I happened to catch a bit of Republican strategist Mary Matalin’s appearance this morning. She’s nearly always rubbed me the wrong way until today. The talk turned to how some colleges treat students as if they were begat by she-wolves instead of having parents who cared about what was happening to their sons and daughters. Now, they didn’t say that. That’s my take on it.

Here, you take first-year students who have mostly been concerned with downloading music for their i-pods and ask that they get themselves up for early class (you old-timers know all about the Sonic Boom alarm clock episode), wash their clothes, study, eat, get along with all kinds of people (including some scary ones), manage money when mom and dad are not around to dole it out and handle all the stress that this transition from dependency to adulthood brings with it.

The term ‘helicopter parent’ has been applied to parents who overly involve themselves in this process. Matalin said, “I’m going with them (meaning her kids when they go to college).” I think my case of helicopterism is a little less extreme compared to parents who have written college essays for their kids or who contact professors with pleas to change grades or who pick the college or courses for Junior.

Yet, as I read the Wall Street Journal article, “Colleges Ward Off Overinvolved Parents” published nearly two years ago, I thought maybe something is out of kilter here. Have we gone too far toward turning our young vulnerable sons and daughters loose on the world, while as parents failing to teach them these necessary life skills? Have we instead babied them along as my elder son seems to think, rewarding each accomplishment with a gold-plated trophy?

I can talk to Scott about the routine issues: you sort the dark clothes from the light clothes, you keep track of the bank balance so you don’t run out of money, you go to class or you get behind and flunk, if you eat high-calorie food you add pounds and you will likely add the “freshman 15” no matter what and so on. His dad and I, however, can’t be there to select friends, write assignments, choose to drink or not and hold his hand through this high-stress adventure nor do we want to be. I would, however, appreciate a call if someone notices my son is not handling college life well.

We may certainly be “. . . part of a cultural shift toward more involved parenting -- which many of today’s students welcome. There are some good reasons for it. The trend reflects societal fears about campus safety, amid growing media coverage of campus murders and deaths, mounting mental-health problems, and rising alcohol and drug arrests at colleges and universities.” Again recent events come to mind, and I wonder, what did the parents know?

A University of Georgia professor laid out one of the reasons that it’s just so darned easy to become overly involved. “The cellphone, he says, has become ‘the world's longest umbilical cord.’”

When I went away to college in 1970, there were telephones and mail. No E-mails or cell phones. My mom worked and was 90 miles away. As an only child, I relished my freedom and struggled through an incompatible roommate situation, dropped Spanish, dated strange guys, got drunk for the first time. It was a wonderful time of uncertainty and exploration. My mom stepped back and let go, hard as it was for her. I hope I can do that for my younger son.

But first, is there anyone in Conway, Arkansas, who can wake up my son for class next fall?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CNN Moved My Morning Anchors

This creature of habit had been watching a bit of CNN’s American Morning on a regular basis. This past Monday I tuned in to find two new faces. Where were O’brien and O’brien when I needed them? You know, Soledad and Miles. I grew to like their chemistry and playful banter. I hope I don’t offend Mr. O’brien, who is a talented reporter, but he reminded me of Steve Carell’s Michael Scott character on NBC’s "The Office." Miles shares just a hint of boss Michael’s loopy sense of humor and similar hair. Thankfully, mama Soledad would always correct the course if the puns were too bad.

Anyway, I wrote CNN to let them know I was going elsewhere and that I didn’t like it one bit. They kindly wrote me back with “Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien will remain at the network as featured special correspondents. Soledad O’Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN: Special Investigations Unit and Miles O’Brien is CNN’s chief technology and environment correspondent.”

Well, at least they still have a job. I also let CNN know I wasn’t happy about Jack Cafferty being moved some time ago from American Morning. Oh well, MSNBC is looking better and better and I find myself watching more and more news on their channel. Heck, I’m even beginning to like Joe Scarborough, who just so happens to be a Bama grad like me. I’m getting worried.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hindsight, Foresight & A Troubled Mind at Virginia Tech

I’ll leave the blaming to others, but the details now coming out about the shooter at Virginia Tech are indeed troubling and open the doors to much conversation about how society and our institutions should handle troubled individuals.

I don’t think anyone wants to go back to the days when we would lock a person suspected of having a mental problem away in a “Snake Pit” mental hospital never to be free again (The Snake Pit was a 1948 movie where Olivia de Havilland wakes up in a state insane asylum with no clue as to why she’s there). Yes, there are people who must be locked away to protect society and themselves, but today we are more apt to turn to pills and the family doctor to handle some rather serious mental health problems. And that’s if the problem is going to be addressed at all.

Pretty much the mantra has become, “if he’s no threat to himself or others.” Well, perhaps, it’s time to reevaluate this idea. Yes, I believe in a free society and an open society, and this is part of the troubling part. How do we get the help to people who don’t want it? At what point should we intervene? Must there first be a crisis? Most health insurance coverage limits mental health benefits. I think this is dangerous.

Right here in Alabama we had a federal court case, Wyatt v. Stickney, that largely influenced how states care for those with mental health problems. U. S. District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., for many years guided and watched over that case which set what’s been called the Wyatt Standards regarding the right to treatment: humane psychological and physical environments; qualified staff in numbers sufficient to administer adequate treatment; individualized treatment plans; and services in the least restrictive environment.

Court monitors, special masters and 33 years later, a predecessor of Judge Johnson’s finally felt that Alabama had done what the law and justice required. How ironic it is to me that Judge Johnson, the judge who took Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and applied its principles to civil rights case after case involving the Montgomery Bus Boycott, voting rights, the Ku Klux Klan, the Selma to Montgomery March, Freedom Riders and so on, lost his own 28-year-old son to suicide, coming after years of harassment over his father’s high profile decisions.

I don’t have the answer. But we need to be thinking about this.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

This tragedy coming out of Virginia Tech today is really disturbing to this mother about to send a son off to college next fall. My heart goes out to all of the families who have received a parent’s worst news—the call that will forever change their lives. It is so hard to hear the news and to know the many young lives cut short today. It’s too soon for more than a few sketchy facts, but in the coming days no amount of exploration as to why will ever make this more than a senseless and immensely tragic loss of life. May those at Virginia Tech find strength in knowing many are sharing in their loss today.

Dissing Rap Music, Dissing Wordsworth

I love to read fellow blogger Naomi and her Diary from England. She posted recently about Cumbria Tourism’s attempt to appeal to the YouTube generation. Now, as much as I love YouTube, I love the poetry of Brit poet William Wordsworth a whole lot more.

The YouTube production by Cumbria Tourism has bastardized a favorite poem of mine, Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, you know the daffodils poem, with a rap "music" version of the famous poem. I endured the whole rap treatment of the poem delivered by a be-bopping squirrel mascot known as Sam, a.k.a, MC Nuts.

Lovely Lake Ullswater serves as a backdrop to this large annoying rapping rodent.
“The modern re-working manages to stay true to the original sentiment but with some slight variation of the lyrics. As well as making the works of Wordsworth relevant to a new, younger audience, it also shows how modern-day rap and its clever use of wordplay is a distant relative of poetic rhyming verse.”
So says the Web site for the Lake District.

Crap, or as some call it “rap,” has it’s following, and I have actually found a couple of “songs” that worked for this old, white Baby Boomer. I’ll have to show it to Scotty and see what he thinks. I predict this 18 year-old will agree with his mum.

And no, I'm not intentionally becoming a poetry blog. Check in tomorrow for a crazy photo.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: -
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -and gazed -but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lemons and Lemonade

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Clint Eastwood as Detective Harry Callahan in the classic Dirty Harry.

I don’t feel lucky lately. I’ll spare you the details, dear gentle readers. I’m old enough to know that we all experience times like these. You know, the Yin & Yang of life, good & bad—yada yada yada. But, dang it, I don’t like it one bit.

So, how do I deal with present circumstances? One way is to laugh. Sometimes the ridiculous nature of life must be laughed at. What else, fickle Fortuna, are you gonna throw at me? Bring it on. I’m ready. That’s the feisty Sheila.

Then I look at the quote from Coach Taylor in the previous post.
Every man at some point in his life is going lose a battle. He’s gonna fight and he’s gonna lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself. This battle is not over. So let’s hear it one more time. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

And the wisdom voiced by that fictional character sweeps over me.

“It will be ok in the end. If it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.” I don’t know to whom to attribute this little pearl to, but Allison passed it along to me and I like it a lot. That’s the “don’t worry dear” approach that always seemed to help especially when delivered by Mother.

And my final source of inspiration comes from a well-loved poem that I always think of and thank my fifth-grade teacher for making me memorize it, If, by Rudyard Kipling.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Note: Those who know my history might wonder if this is health-related. It isn't.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Why I Love Friday Night Lights

UPDATE from Sheila
Please help fans of this show convince NBC that this is the kind of television we need. Newspaper writers from the Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and many other papers have written that this is a great show worthy of saving. Now, it's up to those of us tired of silly shows and dumb gimmicks to take a few moments and voice our opinions. One fellow blogger fan is mounting a campaign and there may be more. Here's the link: and I am also writing NBC while I'm at it. If you want to write to NBC, here's the E-mail address:

The Dillon Panthers are down 26-0 in the state finals, and Coach Taylor’s halftime speech to the team is worth repeating:

“When Jason Street went down first game of the season, everybody wrote us off. Everybody. And yet, here we are at the championship game. 40,000 people out there have also written us off. There are a few out there who do still believe in you. A few’ll never give up on you. You go back out there on the field. Those are the people I want in your minds. Those are the people I want in your hearts.

Every man at some point in his life is going lose a battle. He’s gonna fight and he’s gonna lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself. This battle is not over. So let’s hear it one more time. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose. “

Wednesday night concluded the season for the best show on television, NBC’s Friday Night Lights. Its future is uncertain. Apparently a few new episodes have been ordered. I don’t want to see this show go. Not yet. If you love the show, please write to NBC and let them know that we need good shows like this one.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Should We Bring Back Public Flogging?

DON IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women’s final.

SID ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

BERNARD McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That’s some nappy-headed hos there. I’m gonna tell you that now, man, that’s some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don’t know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --

CHARLES McCORD: Do The Right Thing.

McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMUS: I don’t know if I’d have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?

ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.

I usually watch a little of Imus in the Morning on MSNBC but missed the comments that are causing the ruckus swirling about the I-Man. Boy, did he look uncomfortable this morning. You know it’s serious when a visit to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show is scheduled. The I-Man is set to visit Rev. Al this afternoon.

Should any of this surprise you? Some folks are acting like Don Imus is some normal pretty-boy broadcaster. Heck, I believe he might hold the title as the original “shock jock,” although he has worked to clean up that image and regularly gets politicians and pundits to appear on his morning show. He’s no stranger to controversy either. With a mouth like his, it’s no wonder he’s been fired before. Well, I’m not sure if it was the mouth or the coke and vodka and I don’t mean Coca Cola either.

But a contrite Imus with big ole cowboy hat in hand has apologized. On Friday he said,
“Want to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning regarding the Rutgers women’s basketball team. It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry.”

And again today, more apologizing. It was a stupid thing to say and he shouldn’t have said it. And now he joins the cadre of foot in mouth public figures. Should he keep his job or not? As with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Rosie O’Donnell and other full-of-themselves TV characters, I have the choice whether I will subject myself to their opinions, and quite frankly, I prefer to let the free market determine whether we will have Imus in the Morning.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Get Yourself a Gun

Woke up this mornin, you got yourself a gun, you got yourself a gun..

All the Sopranos fans already know tonight's a big night with the start of the final season. I've pretty much stuck with the series through the whole life of it and I'm gonna see it to the end, bloody as it may or may not be. Yeah, there were some things that bothered me, but I won't concentrate on those right now. Right now I'm looking forward to a great night of tv.

Friday, April 06, 2007

And What Do You Say?

I’m gonna live forever
I’m gonna learn how to fly
lyrics from Fame

I see her trimming around her flowers. It is my first chance to say anything, and I am challenged. “How are you?” I ask, and “I’m so sorry.” There, I suppose that is okay. Not profound but once I get over the awkwardness, I feel at ease again.

“I have four more treatments,” she says, “and then we’ll see. Some days I think about it a lot and some not at all. I try to keep busy. The hardest is in the morning,” she says as I listen and wonder how one gathers the resolve to face what she is facing. One day at a time seems trite but appropriate. We talk and laugh. I feel her safeness with me. She can let her fear and sadness show with me.

As my son calls out, “Mom, we’re ready to go,” I’m tempted to say, ‘Not now, son.’

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course

A horse is a horse, of course, unless it’s a vehicle. “Woman on horseback charged with DUI” the headline read. A Lady Godiva of sorts went out for a Saturday midnight ride hopped up on crystal methamphetamine and ended up arrested for ramming a police car with a horse. I kid you not. Go read the AP story. Only in Alabama.

Oh, in case you were wondering, the police chief said the horse “wasn’t in the best of health, but it’s still alive.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Old Woman is Looking for a Shoe

I’ve been thinking. Well, thinking and looking if you want to know the truth. Now if we are gonna move, we need to find something to move into. Sorry, a double-wide doesn’t do it for me. I want a home with a foundation and a roof. That’s the bare minimum.

I’ve been looking at a ton of bad MLS real estate listing photos lately and in the spirit of helpful, smart-ass advice, I offer up the following to the agents putting them on the Internet:

First off, don’t photograph your seller’s house with brush piled up from a major ice storm in front of it. I don’t care if you have to haul it away yourself. This looks bad.

Get a decent digital camera—they are pretty cheap these days––and stage the shots. Bad house photos are a big turnoff especially for this designer. Turn on the lights and make sure the sellers have already decluttered the house. If they haven’t, it’s going to hurt them. Put up lots of photos––as many as you can––but not ones of stuff the sellers are taking with them like the waterbed. Please don’t include three exterior shots and nothing of the inside. You want to get potential buyers to consider the property, not rule it out. Shots of the kitchen, bathroom, entry, and backyard are great. Avoid dark and depressing interior shots. Likewise, look at what’s outside of a window shot. I can’t think being this close to an industrial plant is good. Lose the fuzzy, out of focus shots that look like the camera lens has been coated with Vaseline for a Playmate photo shoot. Do you actually go to the Web site to see how the photos look?

Take some effort in writing the description. Throw in words like charming and classic for older homes. But please don’t call the security system a burglar alarm. Hello. Is that not a big red flag? You may love that bathroom covered with monkeys-in-palms wallpaper, but do you have to brag about it? I don’t like monkeys any more than Bill likes clowns.

And one final bit of advice: awesome is rarely awesome.