Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fifty Uses for Vinegar

1 Kill grass on walks and driveways.

2 Kill weeds. Spray full strength on growth until plants have starved.

3 Increase soil acidity. In hard water: one gallon of tap water for watering rhododendrums, gardenias, or azaleas.

4 Deter ants. Spray vinegar around doors, appliances, and along other areas where ants are known.

5 Polish car chrome. Apply full strength.

6 Remove skunk odor from a dog. Rub fur with full strength vinegar; rinse.

7 Keep cats away. Sprinkle vinegar on areas you don't want the cat walking, sleeping, or scratching on.

8 Keep dogs from scratching his ears. Use a clean, soft cloth dipped in diluted vinegar.

9 Keep chickens from pecking each other. Put a little in their drinking water.

10 Tenderize meat. Soak in vinegar over night.

11 Freshen vegetables. Soak wilted vegetables in 2 cups of water and a tablespoon of vinegar.

12 Boil better eggs. Add 2 tablespoons water before boiling eggs. Keeps them from cracking.

13 Soothe a bee or jellyfish sting. Dot the irritation with vinegar and relieve itching.

14 Relieve sunburn. Lightly rub white vinegar; you may have to reapply.

15 Condition hair. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to dissolve sticky residue left by shampoo.

16 Relieve dry and itchy skin. Add 2 tablespoons to bath water.

17 Fight dandruff. After shampooing, rinse with vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.

18 Soothe a sore throat. Put a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water. Gargle, then swallow.

19 Treat sinus infections and chest colds. Add 1/4 cup or more vinegar to the vaporizer.

20 Feel good. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, with a bit of honey added for flavor, will take the edge off your appetite and give you an overall healthy feeling.

21 Deodorize the kitchen drain. Pour a cup down the drain once a week. Let stand 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.

22 Eliminate onion odor. Rub on your fingers before and after slicing.

23 Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards. Wipe with full strength vinegar.

24 Remove fruit stains from hands. Rub with vinegar.

25 Cut grease and odor on dishes. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to hot soapy water.

26 Clean a teapot. Boil a mixture of water and vinegar in the teapot. Wipe away the grime.

27 Freshen a lunchbox. Soak a piece of bread in vinegar and let it sit in the lunchbox over night.

28 Clean the refrigerator. Wash with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar.

29 Unclog a drain. Pour a handful of baking soda down the drain and add 1/2 cup of vinegar. Rinse with hot water.

30 Clean and deodorize the garbage disposal. Make vinegar ice cubes and feed them down the disposal. After grinding, run cold water through

31 Clean and deodorize jars. Rinse mayonnaise, peanut butter, and mustard jars with vinegar when empty.

32 Clean the dishwasher. Run a cup of vinegar through the whole cycle once a month to reduce soap build up on the inner mechanisms and on glassware.

33 Clean stainless steel. Wipe with a vinegar dampened cloth.

34 Clean china and fine glassware. Add a cup of vinegar to a sink of warm water. Gently dip the glass or china in the solution and let dry.

35 Get stains out of pots. Fill pot with a solution of 3 tablespoons of vinegar to a pint of water. Boil until stain loosens and can be washed away.

36 Clean the microwave. Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize.

37 Dissolve rust from bolts and other metals. Soak in full strength vinegar.

38 Get rid of cooking smells. Let simmer a small pot of vinegar and water solution.

39 Unclog steam iron. Pour equal amounts of vinegar and water into the iron's water chamber. Turn to steam and leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow to cool. Any loose particles should come out when you empty the water.

40 Clean a scorched iron plate. Heat equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub solution on the cooled iron surface to remove dark or burned stains.

41 Get rid of lint in clothes. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

42 Keep colors from running. Immerse clothes in full strength vinegar before washing.

43 Freshen up the washing machine. Periodically, pour a cup of vinegar in the machine and let in run through a regular cycle (no clothes added). Will dissolve soap residue.

44 Brighten fabric colors. Add a 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.

45 Take grease off suede. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over grease spot.

46 Remove tough stains. Gently rub on fruit, jam, mustard, coffee, tea. Then wash as usual.

47 Get smoke smell out of clothes. Add a cup of vinegar to a bath tub of hot water. Hang clothes above the steam.

48 Remove decals. Brush with a couple coats of vinegar. Allow to soak in. Wash off.

49 Clean eyeglasses. Wipe each lens with a drop of vinegar.

50 Freshen cut flowers. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar for each quart of water.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Writers Guild Strike news

November 28, 2005
Writers Guild Strikes Back
Guerrilla Protests Only Start of Action on Reality, Product Placements
By James Hibberd
Storming high-profile industry events with shouting, flier-toting activists is only the beginning of the Writers Guild of America's plans to assail television's powers that be.

In the coming months WGA plans to disrupt more public functions, create Web sites mocking embedded advertising and take its complaints to key industry investors in its quest to establish a dialogue with networks on key WGA issues-namely, representation for reality storytellers and compensation and guidelines for writing product placement into programs.

"We're just getting started," said WGA west Executive Director David Young, the labor leader behind the guerrilla tactics. "We're going to put pressure on them in every way possible."

The moves so far have at a minimum drawn attention to the WGA's point of view. Mr. Young said he expects the guild's continuing campaign to ultimately effect real change in WGA's favor.

He said the radical protest efforts, which longtime industry observers say have not been used by any of the major entertainment guilds in recent decades, are the result of months of trying in vain to bring about discussions with producers.

"Being nice and asking politely for six months didn't get us anywhere," Mr. Young said. "We've respectfully asked for a dialogue, but haven't gotten one. Since we're not invited for a seat at the table, we're inviting ourselves."

Whether the tactics will sway the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the guild negotiating arm of the industry, remains to be seen. But Mr. Young claims the efforts are already having an impact.

WGA west President Patric Verrone, Mr. Young said, has recently been invited to appear on three major industry panels, presumably to avoid having the party crashed by protesters.

"We have no reason to think that we would have been invited otherwise," Mr. Young said.

Also, five of the six networks represented at a recent International Radio and Television Society panel discussion crashed by protesters discussed the issue with Mr. Young after the event. Granted, the discussion mainly consisted of how unhappy the executives were with the WGA. "But they weren't calling us back before," Mr. Young said.

The AMPTP had no comment on the tactics. But one studio insider described the current WGA leadership as out of touch with reality.

"This industry has long-established forums to discuss these issues and they've been discussed during contract negotiations and during ongoing research studies," the insider said. "I don't think their tactics are all that unique. What's unique is that the radical fringe now seem to be in charge. They don't understand the business and fired all the level-headed professionals because they didn't get their own way."

Thus far the WGA has invited itself to three industry events, each resulting in a more contentious confrontation than the last.

The first was Sept. 27, at an Advertising Age Madison + Vine conference at New York University. The guild hired comedy troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade to stand outside the venue and impersonate Donald Trump and Martha Stewart, their body parts designated as advertising space, and slipped a plant into the audience to interrupt the talk.

The second was in October, during a panel on reality television (sponsored by TelevisionWeek) at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. About 20 WGA members walked into the panel to pass out leaflets and demanded to know why reality storytellers are denied overtime and health benefits.

The most recent was earlier this month at the IRTS breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. About 20 WGA members stormed in, shouting and passing out fliers, and one protester took to the stage. The broadcast network executives on the panel-including Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori, UPN President Dawn Ostroff and ABC Primetime Entertainment President Stephen McPherson-were visibly startled. The protesters were escorted out of the building.

Mr. Young's tactics appear to have the support of at least some high-profile WGA members.

"I think they're effective," said Jonathan Rintels, president of the Center for Creative Voices in Media and a WGA member. "Inevitably, it does annoy [executives]. But does that prevent both sides from then sitting down and trying to discuss the issues in a serious way? I don't think it does. It's not like they're setting fire to buildings and taking hostages."

The aggressive stance follows last year's contentious employer contract renegotiation, which led to widespread dissatisfaction with the current agreement within the writers' guild rank and file.

Instead of waiting until the next round of negotiations, set for 2007, in recent months the organization has tried to address gripes through alternative measures. The WGA filed two class-action lawsuits against reality producers and networks alleging sweatshop working conditions, and released a policy paper calling for a code of conduct regulating product placement on television programming.

In September the guild elected a new president, Mr. Verrone, whose campaign promised to end guild infighting and adopt a more assertive stance on key issues. Mr. Verrone fired WGA west Executive Director John McLean and promoted veteran labor organizer Mr. Young to his post. Mr. Young said his tactics were inspired by his 1990s work representing garment industry laborers who disrupted retail clothing events.

One longtime guild observer said the tactics are more the style of Teamsters than modern entertainment guilds.

"It's like old-time unionism," he said, "like when the projectionist guild members would throw smoke bombs into theaters. Not dangerous, not violent, but not always welcome."

A top broadcast network executive who was a panelist during a disrupted event said he took the protesters in stride.

"It's America. As long as nobody breaks a law, they are open to expressing what they want," he said. "It was a little rude, but no one got hurt. It is interesting that they are getting more militant."

(from TV Week)

Good business

Stolen verbatem from an e-mail. Those of you working in the retail or service sector may find it at least interesting (and I gather some of you will disagree). For all except the first article, tou will have to register with BNET, but it's free.

  • BusinessWeek has a great interview/book review on the importance of details to customer service.

    Author Michael Levine says that operational details, such as limited hours and dirty bathrooms send a message to customers about the general quality of a business.
    These details have a more significant effect on customers than you might think:

    "The consumer mind has a logical and emotional part, and if you don't speak to both, you will lose them, especially when they're hungry, tired, angry, or lonely.
    "We're living in an age of anxiety. When people are not hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, the emotional side will win the debate with the logical part of the brain 80% of the time. When they're hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, emotion wins 100% of time. We are often hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, so it's exceedingly dangerous if you're a business to ignore the emotional part of the brain."
    What do the details of your operation look like? If they could use a tune-up, these BNET resources will help you get started.

  • Best Practices in New-Customer Service
    New customers are a delicate client sector virtually for any organization. Because they do not have a history with the company, they have no reason to be loyal-until, through excellent service, the company gives them one. Article discusses a study commissioned by Entergy, to learn how leading organizations define excellent customer service and achieve the high levels of service to new customers that lead to their retention. The scope of the study included discovering how "best-practice" organizations: optimize new customers' experiences, elevate first impressions, improve customer interface, provide beneficial new customer services, emphasize a focus on the customer, and follow up with new customers within six months to one year.

  • Perfect Customer Service: Bigger is NOT Better
    The bigger the customer service department is the less efficient it is at serving customers. If management developed alternative solutions to customers' needs, some or all parts of the customer service department could be eliminated. Customer service departments would look very different than they do today if products showed up on time, employees did what was expected, orders were completed with precision and products rarely, if ever, failed.

  • Organizing for Customer-Centric Marketing
    Marketing communications is shifting away from mass media toward an approach informed by deep audience knowledge. This places database marketing groups -- and the customer insight they have amassed -- into the organizational spotlight. But many of these groups play a service-focused role that hampers customer -centric communication. To help firms map out a vision, road map, and skills portfolio for customer-centric direct-to-consumer marketing, Forrester has developed a four -stage maturity model.

  • Differentiate Your Business Based On Outstanding Customer Service
    Outstanding customer service requires several things: 1) a sincere and powerful commitment to serving customers and prospective customers at the highest possible level each and every time, 2) excellent people, 3) stringent expectations and policies regarding how customers are served along with a high level of accountability for enforcing those expectations and policies and 4) a discipline about serving customers consistently in manner that not only meets customer expectations, but often exceeds them. Achieving outstanding customer service means hard work and attention to detail as well.