The next time you travel to New Orleans, plan to stay at a charming historic hotel that is a destination in itself — the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. This ornately furnished gem is only one of three hotels named a literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. (The others are the Plaza and the Algonquin in NYC). My family and I spent the night there a few nights ago under the same roof that once sheltered Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and a long list of famed southern writers. The Hotel Moteleone wasn’t just a place to hang their hats — it figured into the lives and writings of many literary greats. Here is a sampling:

Nobel prize winner Ernest Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War as a journalist and the Hotel Monteleone is proudly memorialized in his short story “Night Before Battle”, which takes place during that war.

Truman Capote was fond of telling interviewers that he was born at the Hotel Monteleone. Actually, his mother stayed at the hotel leading up to his birth and the hotel staff transported her to a local hospital to give birth.

Rebecca Wells, author of the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, features the Hotel Moteleone in her novel Little Alters Everywhere.

In addition to the Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer Prize, William Faulkner received the Legion of Honor Award and was interviewed at the Hotel Monteleone by New Orleans newspaper columnist, Albert Goldstein. Faulkner biographer Joseph Blotner has written that the Monteleone was Faulkner’s favorite hotel.

Eudora Welty, born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1909, is best known as a Southern writer of short stories and novels (although she also worked professionally as a photographer). During her lifetime she was the recipient of numerous awards, including several O. Henry Awards and the Pulizter Prize. The Hotel Monteleone’s famous Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge is immortalized in her short story, The Purple Hat.

Playwright and novelist Tennessee Williams first visited the Hotel Monteleone as a young child, and always claimed it was his favorite hotel. He was so enamored of it that he included it in his play The Rose Tattoo.



I was incredibly disappointed that Viola Davis didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Help. One parent’s humorous take on the best picture nominees, however, lessened the pain a bit. Pretty clever!

The Help




The Artist




Searching the web on my iPhone has been a lesson in frustration. I don’t want to see a bunch of random text links that may or may not deliver the information I need. I want quick access to relevant information that is optimized for mobile, rather than just repackaging the PC experience … and Leap2 Navigator delivers.

Leap2, available for both the iPhone and Android, links search results with direct web browsing. Here are its features:

  • The Query Wheel categorizes search results.
  • The Category Search Selector accesses related news, buzz, images, local information, maps and answer information.
  • Direct-to-Web takes you directly to web content for the top three results, rather than providing a search results text list.
  • The Tabbed Browser allows you to select from one of the top three search results. The tabs provide full browser capability.

Take a look at the product demo:

For example, I typed “Kauffman Foundation” in the search box. The query wheel shows “Kauffman Foundation” as the main selection but also lists related topics above and below on the wheel, such as the FastTrac program (entrepreneurship training offered by the foundation) and the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center (which hosts entrepreneurship business conferences in Kansas City). The bottom half of the screen has tabs to related sites. If you click on a tab, the corresponding web page appears.

What’s next for this Kansas City-based startup? They are brainstorming around taking the idea in the other direction — integrating the mobile experience to the laptop or tablet. Very cool!



How We Learn Has Changed and Why it Matters

by Cathy on January 29, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

Maybe my antennae is up but a common theme keeps emerging. I attended a volunteer training session at an art museum and the main message was that people now learn information in new ways. Therefore, the museum was implementing creative methods to engage visitors. A month ago, a client hired me to pull together research and write a white paper about the fact that religious institutions must engage the emerging generation in new ways. Why? They learn differently than previous generations. Then I read an article that explained the technology that college professors were employing in the classroom to connect with students. Why? They learn differently than previous generations. Each group cited different research but the findings were the same. You can learn from the principles below every time you are asked to speak before a group, lead a meeting, direct a team, connect with a group of teenagers, participate in a volunteer organization or seek to broaden your own learning.

1. The Lecture is Dead. The days when a teacher could engage a young audience in a 60-minute lecture with no visuals, just endless blah, blah, blah, are over.  NPR ran a segment recently in which some college physics professors (of all people!) realized that students weren’t learning physics through the lecture method. What these professors found was that …
2. Peer Learning is In. The professors spent just a few minutes at the beginning of class imparting basic physics information. Then the students broke into teams to explore the concepts further and learn from each other. (Listen to the following link if you want to learn more:  NPR: Lose the Lecture ) It worked. The entire class began understanding physics and doing well on the tests.
3. Technology is Huge. Whether you are tech savvy or not, the truth remains. Most learning in the present and future will involve technology. Educators are using a variety of tools to engage students and expand learning. Journalism students are using tablets to record interviews, edit and upload their audio files, and create story segments. University classes have created wiki sites where students can contribute and update information pertinent to the course. Professors are presenting material via podcasts and students are creating their own content using the same. HotSeat, which integrates with a student’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, allows students to post related information and questions during a college lecture to add to the information being shared. Professors can also use HotSeat to take a real-time reading of whether students are understanding the presentation to make adjustments as they present. Also, heavy, expensive and static textbooks are being replaced by interactive, constantly current electronic text books. Take a look …

4. Self-Learning is King. The model for learning has changed with the changing economic model. The agricultural society was the era of apprenticeship when people learned from their elders. The industrial age was the era of the institution when public schools became the norm. Now, we live in information age, which is the era of the learner in which the individual engages in self-directed learning. The teacher or leader is merely a facilitator and much information is imparted by software/technology. The new learning tools are portable devices, apps, video and 3D experiences and conferences/web content.

How are YOU learning and facilitating learning in this new world?



Work/Life Balance: Seven Fun Ideas

by Cathy on January 20, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

Many of us — myself included — make a living at a computer keyboard. I love technology as much as the next person but please, we need a little work/life balance here! If your idea of a full life has been reduced to watching your favorite TV show (we have all been there!), you may need to shake things up a bit. Here are seven ideas I’m putting into play within the next few weeks. Feel free to copy or come up with your own plans to break the mid-winter blahs.



Fashionable for Less

by Cathy on January 14, 2012 · 0 comments

in Fashion,Ideas

Winter is well underway and if you are like me, you are looking for a few items to jazz up your wardrobe. Mid winter also offers some great shopping bargains, and boy, do I love finding cute clothes for less. Check out a couple of pieces I found recently.



Life’s Third Act: An Inspiring TED Talk

by Cathy on January 8, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

Last night, I went out with some neighborhood friends to welcome another member to the Big 5-0 Club. We shared funny stories about hot flashes, sleep apnea machines and the general charms of 50-year-old bodies. With these conversations fresh in my mind, I came across this TED Talk that offered some encouraging words about life’s third act. As the speaker notes, we are living on average 34 years beyond the age our grandparents lived. Unfortunately, we often live chained to the old paradigm that this last third of life means living in decline. We can cut loose from the old way of thinking. The question now becomes: What can we do to make these added years successful and use them to make a difference? Take a listen …



New Craft to Try: Simple Collage Making

by Cathy on December 30, 2011 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Style

Whew! Okay, I’ll be the first to say it: I love Christmas but I’m also glad it is over! The day after Christmas, my sister, daughters and I got together for some relaxing crafting and here is what we tried — simple collage making. It was fun, easy and we were pleased with the results. Below are two collages we made, as well as simple instructions.



  1. Take a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of masonite (available from the craft store), cover it in a thin layer of Modge Podge adhesive using a foam brush.
  2. Place a sheet of black scrap booking paper (or whatever color or print you prefer) onto the sticky masonite. Use a clean paint roller to smooth out the paper and remove bubbles. Then press around the edges with your fingers to ensure that everything is glued down.
  3. Then comes the fun part: layer paper, embellishments, favorite greeting cards, ribbon, glitter, buttons — whatever suits your fancy.
  4. To finish the piece. you can either frame it or drill two holes an inch apart near the top of the masonite. Then string a ribbon through the holes, tie the ribbon and use it as a hanger to hang the collage on a wall.

Happy crafting!



Creative Christmas Gift Wrapping

by Cathy on December 7, 2011 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Style

The Christmas gifts are starting to pile up so it’s time to start wrapping. I like to put as much thought into the wrapping as I do in the gift buying. Below are some stylish wrapping ideas, along with the lovely blogs/web sites providing the inspiration.






Younger Next Year at Any Age

by Cathy on November 27, 2011 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Resources

What advice would you give to your 20 or 30 year-old self knowing what you know now? One thing I would do is discuss the principles in the book Younger Next Year for Women with my younger self. Admittedly, this book appeals to me because I’ve joined the ranks of the Menopause Mommas, but it also contains great nuggets of wisdom that can equip any women to turn back the clock by making the most out of her life.

The book’s authors — one a doctor and the other a vital 80-year-old who could pass for 50 — write that a person’s approach to life can mean either a step forward to vitality or a step backward to decay. The book’s life-stretching principles can be summed up in three words: exercise, connect and engage.

Exercise: Commit to working out six times a week, no excuses. Regular cardio exercise and weight training helps treat a variety of health issues, including depression, insomnia and weight-related illnesses. The chemistry of exercise is the chemistry of alertness, optimism, and an increased willingness to connect with others and with life.

Photo courtesy of, from an article on the connection between exercise and creativity


Connect: We are wired for regular contact with other people If you make this your job to build new bridges make new friends and build new communities, you can stay connected virtually forever. You  can do this at any age but it is far easier if you start early. Studies confirm that isolation hurts us and connection heals us. Social connections are a more powerful factor in health than anything else, including nutrition and exercise.

Engage: Continually explore new interests and seek to learn something new every single day. Look for ways to serve others and make a positive difference in the world. Always keep working and work on a variety of projects all the time. Seek to achieve, excel and accomplish whatever is of interest to you.

Photo courtesy of

Jessica, a woman whose story is shared in the book, provides a perfect example of this life approach. Though she was widowed for the last 40 years of her life and faced numerous challenges, she lived a  vital life and was fully immersed until her last day on earth. The reasons:

  • Jessica did stuff — she worked as an editor, ran her own shop, hosted a local TV show, wrote a cookbook … she hosted dinner parties all the time, though she wasn’t a good cook,
  • She worked hard at nurturing and growing a circle of friends. She would meet new people all the time and invite them to dinner parties. One of the great risks in life is that you run out of friends, Jessica did not let that happen.
  • She worked hard at keeping herself in great physical shape. ‘Nuff said.
  • She had a great attitude, great courage, and a great sense of humor.
  • She was always exploring and learning, game for anything.

So, exercise hard and you will grow physically younger; care about other people and you will grow happier; build a life that has meaning and you will grow richer.




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