Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

They're probably my favorite decorations, regardless of the holiday. And not just because I like seeing them out the window of my workroom but because I get to watch all the little kids in the neighborhood walk by and enjoy them.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Well, I hope this year Halloween will be a little more "normal" in terms of trick-or-treating, especially as the CDC has issued guidelines to make it less scary.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I think that the coronavirus has genuinely been the scariest thing to appear in our lives. Full stop. And while I'm not making light of the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, I can't help but wonder if we're going to see Halloween "COVID" costumes since there seem to be costumes of almost everything else that's considered scary.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

FYI, there is a shortage of store-bought costumes (and decorations) due to pandemic-related shipping delays, so there is no telling what you will see. Hopefully, this year's trick-or-treaters will include lots of kids dressed up as front-line workers as they are the true superheroes. Not to mention, the costumes would then include masks that are functional as well as decorative.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Do you have to look at Halloween pragmatically? And does that mean I'm about to get a lecture on how Halloween's big business?


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

No, my "treat" to you is I will not tell you how it is a $10 billion industry that did not take as big a hit in 2020 as you would have expected.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Yeah, except you just managed to tell it to me anyway. So, I guess that falls under the "trick" category.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

That is merely semantics. Sometimes we "package" things to make them more palatable for the recipient. But, some people take it to an extreme and disguise who they really are … but, I do not want to make this a conversation about politicians and the "costumes" they often wear.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Please don't! Although I know you've occasionally "pretended" to be me.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Except, whenever I try to do "warm and fuzzy", I have a hard time keeping a straight face. And, being "nice" can be a challenge, not to mention time-consuming. I remember when we taught at KIPP and its motto at the time was, "Work Hard. Be Nice." and I asked if I could just "Work Hard. Be Fair."


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

Of course, you did. But I can think of a few times when you've been in situations where I thought you were going to take a stand, yet you used my "default" setting of conflict avoidance. It was very out of character. And more than a little scary.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

You pick your battles. Keeping in mind that some things are not worth the time and effort. Or, need to be saved for another day.


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io

Are you saying that you give them the "treat" of letting it go when in reality you are "tricking" them into a feeling of complacency?


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I guess that is one way of looking at it, but only if you are trying to give it a Halloween spin. At the risk of "tricking you" into talking about marketing, do you remember years ago when we worked with Rob (an advertising creative executive director), and he told us how he could envision little kids one day dressing up as the characters Red and Black?


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I had forgotten about that! At first, I thought he was kidding around or being sarcastic until he clarified that he was serious. Explaining how he could see kids pairing up with each other, pretending to be us. Obviously, the one pretending to be me would be sweet and nice, and the other would be … well, you!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Actually, I think he was focused on the differences in our appearances. Regardless, I think it was crazy. Although the costumes would be easy – mine could be high heels, tattered jeans, white top, black jacket, and a wig with short, black, spiked hair.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

I guess that means my "costume" would be something boring and "mom-like". But even with a wig of long red hair and comfy shoes, I'm not sure any kid would choose to "be Red".


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Yes, but what is that old axiom about you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Maybe the trick-or-treating "Reds" would be rewarded with more candy …

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by Joseph Sohm for Shutterstock


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io

When I read the "Breaking News" email about the passing of Colin Powell from complications from COVID-19, I realized that many of us didn't even know he was being treated for illnesses that weakened his immune system. To me, he always seemed to be one of those incredibly strong and resilient men that could overcome anything, as I knew he served as the country's first Black national security adviser (during the Reagan administration), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under President George H. W. Bush) and secretary of state (under President George W. Bush).

I first became aware of Powell during Operation Desert Storm and was living in Hong Kong at the time (shortly after I married a Brit, Shell assigned him to the Far East). I can remember being halfway around the world from home while watching seemingly non-stop news briefings featuring "Storming Norman" Schwarzkopf, with his "larger than life" details about the extraordinary precision of the airstrikes. At the time, it almost seemed more like a computer game than an actual war.

However, Powell had a far greater impact on me as he exuded calm mixed with steely determination, projecting an air of confidence that you sensed came from experience and deep personal commitment. And at this time of war and conflict, he provided a comforting feeling of power and control.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

I will not pretend to be a history buff, nor will I reflect on Mr. Powell's greatness as a military figure, statesman, and trailblazer. I will leave that to others. But, several things stand out about Powell as a man. First, he put America ahead of political party, stating, "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."

Thanks to Punchbowl News, I learned that as a young man, he worked in a toy store, and the owner, a Russian immigrant Jew, admired the young Powell so much that he impressed upon him the importance of getting an education. Powell was so touched by this that he stayed in contact with him for the next 50 years. (I loved the sprinkling of Yiddish phrases as Powell tells the story.)

Of course, I could not help but smile rewatching this video of Powell along with two other motorheads, Jay Leno and (at the time) Vice President Biden "racing" Corvettes. And, may explain why one of my many favorite Powell quotes is, "Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror." But in his passing, you cannot help but look back over all he did for our country.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he rest in peace.

Image by Arseniy45 on iStock


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io

I know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, so banks are closed, but otherwise, it's barely celebrated. Growing up, it seemed like it was an important part of fall, not only because we had off from school, but because I can still remember (yes, those straight-A student school memories) learning about America being discovered by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Especially since he was trying to find a new way to get to the "riches" of Asia (without having to sail around Africa) and found the Americas instead! I still recall hearing that some people thought the earth was flat and his ships would fall off, and although it may not have been many people – it still made a lasting impression. Regardless, he became one of the most famous explorers in history.

I love history, so I loved everything about the holiday and even remember the names of the three ships, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, all these decades later. And although I've long forgotten most dates in history (after knowing them for the test, of course), the year 1492 is etched on my memory, as I suspect it is for many people.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io

Obviously, Red needs to "update" her history on Christopher Columbus, and I am not talking about "obscure facts" like that might not have been his real name. Information has been discovered (pun intended, although this is a serious situation), leading to significant discussion and controversy about Columbus "the person" versus the romanticized hero originally depicted in history books.

As you would expect from any explorer traveling the world, there would be encounters with indigenous people. However, historians now believe Columbus' interactions were despicable (my word, not theirs) due to his use of violence and slavery, and forcing people to become Christians. In addition, he exposed the New World to diseases and other complications in what is now referred to as the "Columbian Exchange."

So, in keeping with the spirit of today being a holiday to celebrate, a "replacement" holiday, Indigenous People's Day, was created. And, although technically not a federal holiday, it does fall on one and hopefully will help us all refocus. In fact, this past Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day, stating,

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."
Stock photo on iStock

It all started with a visit to Dunkin' (Donuts), which isn't an unusual event for me as I come from New York, and it has always been a part of my life (and explains why I struggle to call it by its "new" name). Even before I was old enough to drink coffee, I loved their donuts, and one of my favorite childhood memories is my dad coming home with a box of a dozen Dunkin' donuts (his favorite was the chocolate glaze and mine the Boston cream).

Now, fast forward to my recent visit to Dunkin', which didn't go as expected – on several fronts. But it had nothing to do with donuts. Rather, with coffee, which I drink all day long, although I'm very particular about how it's prepared. (I admit, that's an understatement.)

Keep Reading ... Show less