Hilary Parker

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

iTunesU and Your Next Big Thing

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2012 at 9:00 am


Anyone else hooked on iTunesU? The Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders seminars alone are beyond amazing. This is a flying car… being able to listen to world-class ideas with the push of a button, anytime and anywhere you want.

And having found a home in the irreverent, big-think world of startups, I’m reading more and more about the future of the Internet and our evolution from sharing information to sharing wisdom. At last, 2012 is starting to resemble the future I imagined when I was a kid. Good stuff.

What can you find on iTunesU? What do you have to share? What’s your next big thing?


Woot! Another day, another satisfied client!

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm

It was a Monday of deadlines. Then Solvate.com hooked me up with a surprise new client today. I turned around a rush job for him after hours in hopes of impressing him, and it worked!

“Well, all I can say is ‘Thank you, my new friend!’ I love it. You will be hearing from me again for sure. Look forward to getting the invoice.”

How’s that for a nice cap to my day?


Finally: “When You Get a Chance” Month begins!

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

It’s when this blog goes quiet that you know I’m rolling my rock, Sisyphus-style, up the deadline hill.

Between doing PR work for this amazing company, writing features for this awesome industry magazine and pitching new services to existing clients like this fantastic company, I’ve had very little time for blogging. But that’s about to end, as December is clean-up month here at Bullpen Communications.

This is the month I long for all year long — a chance to catch up on the bits and pieces of middle- and lower-priority items for my clients. This is “when you get a chance” month. And it’s amazing. You might think, as I initially did, that this month would be a lower earning month or that it would be a bit piecemeal in terms of artistic work, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, I do some of my best work in December. And in talking with some of my freelance cohorts, I find that is true for them, as well. Their “when you get a chance” month might be July, or September, but everyone has one. And they’re glorious.

The challenge, of course, is to stay motivated throughout this month. I keep focused using three tools: music (mostly “that noise the kids are listening to now”), the knowledge that Christmas bills are coming and the idea that if I can get all of these odds and ends tied up, I can start fresh next year. So I’m grateful that my cleanup month is, in fact, December.

But back during my Cheese Market News days, April was the big deadline push month and May was our  chance to clean up. And it worked then, too. The most important thing is to have a month, regardless of when it is.

When is your “when you get a chance” month, and how do you put it to good use? Let’s exchange ideas in the comment section!


Ever Wondered Why You Hate Visiting Political Campaign Websites? Normal Modes Knows

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

Bullpen’s PR Magic Shares Normal Modes’ Brilliance with the World

What a fun week! Got to work with my awesome client Normal Modes on its fabulous new user experience study of GOP presidential contenders’ websites. As epolitics.com‘s Colin Delany put it, “when a campaign has months to prepare and is spending millions of dollars, it has absolulely no excuse for a sloppy or poorly planned website.”

The study also is also a top story at Campaigns & Elections:

As tech-savvy Republicans take to the Web to discover more about their potential nominees, some don’t like what they see. According to a new study of the usability of six of the GOP presidential candidates websites, respondents said information was hard to come by and they often found themselves rushed to donate to the campaign.

“It’s like dating. They’re trying to jump the gun and rush to marriage, when they should be thinking about the first date,” says Angela Schmeidel Randall, president of Normal Modes, the Houston-based firm that conducted the study. “These websites are built around the campaign objectives, like raising money, rather what’s important to the people visiting the websites. There’s a way to balance campaign objectives with voter needs and motivations, but instead what you have campaigns and voters at a standoff.”

Interested in learning more? You can download the entire study for free here or watch a presentation of its highlights here.

I’m looking forward to watching the campaigns take note and make a few changes!

Well done, Normal Modes!

1 in 9 are now self-employed (thanks, CreditDonkey!)

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm



Stop job hunting and start building your own factory

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm



I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t try:

Seth’s Blog: The forever recession (and the coming revolution)

Born Again American: How Losing My Job Rekindled My Spirit

In Uncategorized on October 10, 2011 at 11:07 am

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are focused on what’s wrong with America. We’re “occupying” Wall Street and voting for politicians who promise you can both have and eat your cake, so long as we stick it to someone else. Blame is the new black. “Mine!” is the new “allow me.” Whining is not only acceptable, it’s practically encouraged. And we have no one to thank but ourselves for this mess, no matter how good it feels to point out others’ faults or go scapegoat hunting.

Is this the America we want? What happened to the pioneering spirit this great nation was founded on? America was once the land of plenty. It was a place of hope, of opportunity. America has always been more than our GDP or our credit rating for one reason: Because Americans were people who strove, who dared, who dreamed big.

Sure enough, somewhere along the line, all this striving and daring and dreaming paid off. And strangely, that’s where things went wrong. We got comfortable. Really comfortable. We replaced working with owning, and replaced paying for items with charging them on our credit cards. Where once an expectation of sacrifice existed, a sense of entitlement crept in. I know. I was right there, too.

Then I lost my job just over two years ago, and had to totally rebuild my life. And you know something? It has been an amazing experience — one that I would repeat again and again. Turns out I didn’t really appreciate the money I had been bringing in. No matter how much we made, it seemed to go right back out the door… We spent it on things, not experiences. On stuff, not making memories. We had attained the American dream. And you know what? It was no good. It didn’t bring happiness. Because what brings happiness is the pursuit of it, not its attainment. (Huh. Go figure, right?)

Now, in these troubled times, the American dream can be born again. If necessity is the mother of invention, then we should have some very pregnant minds out there. Don’t forget that Steve Jobs and Apple Computers came of age in the 1970s, another period of terrible economic conditions. Didn’t matter: They knew what they wanted the future to look like, and they weren’t going to let the present get in the way.

Here’s what I learned over the past two years: Bringing your dream to life will be harder than anything you’ve tried before. It will be terrifying, and also way more rewarding. And it will make you more grateful for and generous with your success than you were when it was practically handed to you.

So instead of bemoaning the present, let’s turn our attention to the future. Ask yourself: What is the trajectory of the path I am on? What are the consequences of the choices I’m making? Am I sacrificing my long-term goals for short-term wins? What am I passionate about, and am I bringing that passion to my work each and every day?

In the end, we are the only ones who can bring meaning to our lives. Politicians can’t. Corporations can’t. We don’t want them in charge, anyway. But that means each of us has to step up and take responsibility for him or herself and face these trying times head-on.

I have a feeling it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But I say bring it… a little strife is good for us. It’s certainly been good for me.

Moosejaw + Zingerman’s = FUN

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

When I was measuring out the last of my eldest daughter’s antibiotic medication this morning (we’re going through Infant in Day Care-itis, meaning at least one member of our family has been sick with something for the past six weeks), it occurred to me how little “fun” there can be had with prescription labels.

Take One Tablespoon By Mouth Twice A Day.

First of all, what’s with the caps? Second of all, when did we need to dumb-down “orally” or “daily?” That’s just sad. But what’s worse is this: This bottle is representative of all the space in the world in which flashy turns of phrase and plays on words are verboten. It’s an example of yet another “no fun zone” in our lives. Granted, we don’t really need more confusion in the medical arena; that’s what insurance companies are for.

But we do need to put our collective foot down and have fun where possible with language.

That’s why I love to see fun, flirty, even flippant language from corporations. Moosejaw is a fave; this Madison Heights, Mich.-based sportswear company will never be accused of taking itself too seriously with copy like this recent promotion of its softshell jackets (“YDKWYGATAGT”? You bet I clicked.) or this link that promises to throw in a diagram for the best way to butter toast under the “Current Promotions” CTA. The company is currently offering $10 off your next order if you complete a survey, but really, I should pay them for making it fun with selections like “I’ve never bought anything from Moosejaw, but I do like your hair” and this strange question:

3. When shopping for new shoes, what type of smells do you prefer?

Autumnal morning mist
Strange feet smells
Bacon and eggs
Why smell when you can taste?

I can occasionally get my crack my favorite North Face jacket cheaper elsewhere, but I remain loyal to Moosejaw because really, we need more fun in the world. In fact, I recently ordered another of these jackets but it turned out they were out of my size. Moosejaw alerted me via e-mail AND called my house to make sure I knew the trouble with my order and help me resolve it. When I told the nice woman on the phone that I’d already ordered a different color, she said, “That one will look better with your eyes, anyway,” and hung up, but not before issuing me a command to “Rock on!” I had to smile.

Another company way ahead of its time is Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Mich. The people who brought you the brilliance that is the Reuben Sandwich Kit and the Food Coma Gift Box have a long history of breaking the rules. Who else in their right mind would start a mail-order gourmet food business and not use photos of the food? These cartoon-loving maniacs are laughing all the way to the bank, with artisan cheese in one hand and freshly-baked, crusty-as-the-day-is-long bread in the other.

But it’s not just the cartoons that set them apart; their sincere love for — OK, borderline stalker-like worship of — great food comes through in the copy. And it’s not because they have some overpaid ad agency (or lucky freelancer, unfortunately) spending hours getting the tone just right, but because the guys who run the company source the products and write about them personally. With all the jittery devotion of a peeping Tom (and I say that with love, because who doesn’t like attention?).

It all boils down to one word: Passion. Moosejaw has a passion for gearing people up for their adventures with memorable, personable customer service. Zingerman’s has a passion for great food and, unlike so many of us (OK, me), is willing to share their finds with the world.

Passion can’t solve the current global economic crisis, and it won’t broker peace in the Middle East. But it sure makes life more fun. Here’s to more fun!

Have a safe, happy, fun weekend. But make sure to save some fun for the work week, too.



Yes, I write about technology

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

I love writing about technology. I love writing about cows. Somehow, the stars aligned and I got this awesome client through Solvate.com: E.I. Medical Imaging. Now I blog for the company a few times a month, and it’s awesome. I’m going to branch out into ultrasound use on horses next. Totally psyched!

Cows just don’t make cows like they used to

By Hilary Parker

bovine ultrasound

How have dairy producers come to rely on ultrasound technology to increase bovine conception rates? Simple: Since cow fertility rates have dropped dramatically in the past few decades, they need a practical, affordable tool that can bring them out of the breeding basement. And with many herds in the west experiencing conception rates with timed breeding programs in the 20 percent range, something’s gotta give.

It’s a good thing that ultrasound is a breeder’s best friend.

Kevin McSweeney, DVM, Bovine Reproductive Specialists, Loveland, Colo., says that ultrasound technology, when used as part of a timed breeding program, can greatly increase pregnancy rates.

“Cows just aren’t showing heat like they did even twenty years ago,” says Kevin McSweeney, DVM, Bovine Reproductive Specialists, Loveland, Colo. “Even those that do give you less activity for a shorter period of time.”

And reproductive ultrasound has a larger role to play in the dairy industry than only as a means of early pregnancy diagnosis, he points out. Being able to identify open cows as soon as possible and then initiate a timed breeding program can improve pregnancy rates by increasing the heat detection rate, but ultrasound also allows the user to ensure synchronicity.

bovine ultrasound

After all, according to research conducted in Colorado on commercial dairies, a large percentage of cows at first service or diagnosed not pregnant are not within the optimal 5- to 12-day window to start synchronization programs. When these cows are allowed to continue through their programs, they conceive at a much lower rate: Not only are these non-synched cows outside the optimal window, but a large percentage end up being poor candidates for synchronization in the first place. Allowing these non-synchronized cows to continue breeding will lower your pregnancy rates. Deferring one week or applying different strategies can greatly increase conception rates to timed AI and, ultimately, your pregnancy rates.

Ultrasound allows scanners/breeders to assess the entire ovarian structure, meaning they canbetter predict when cows are in the optimum period to initiate or continue in synchronization programs. By using ultrasound, cows can be assessed and synchronization programs can be modified when cows fail to respond to the first GnRH injection. Combining ultrasound with a synchronization program can be a powerful management tool to maximize not only heat detection rates but also conception rates, resulting in improved overall pregnancy rates, McSweeney says.

“Ultrasound technology used to be cumbersome and costly,” McSweeney says. “But lately there have been significant improvements in less expensive, portable ultrasound units which has turned this kind of technology into a cost savings tool.”

But, he warns, producers need to be willing to change how they run their breeding program.

“Acknowledging that cows are not the same and then implementing intensive management protocols to overcome these obstacles is critical to improving reproduction,” McSweeney says. “Everything we thought we knew about the reproduction of lactating dairy cows has to be reconsidered. Thinking outside the box and applying new strategies to reproductive management can pay big returns. Incorporating ultrasound intensively into timed artificial insemination and estrus detection programs can improve rates dramatically, but requires a different mindset for managing cows.”

Do you use ultrasounds to help boost reproduction rates on your farm? Tell us all about it!

Even Hitler wants Wake to win

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm

C’mon Tim, let’s get these Red Sox back on track! And win No. 200 while you’re at it!

Even Hitler wants you to win! (Watch through 1:51 – the line about Carl Crawford)