Thoughts on Crops

copyright 2010. Jerry Northington. Jerry

Growing up in farm country in mid-America the relationship between seed and crop was more than easy to see in our back fields.  The land was rented to local farmers who grew corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops year after year all my time at home.  Those farmers saw the proof of the old adage, “You reap what you sow.”

A few days ago I was reminded about another similar adage.  Those who sow violence (read that any who institute a violent act of any sort) may solve one problem but very likely another issue will arise.  The reaction to violence in most human cultures is more and escalating violence.

Today we live in a world of escalating military expenditures, increasing amounts of arms and ammunition, and a continual race to be the biggest of them all.  To what purpose?  What benefit does humankind see from more and more arms and armament?  Is national security made more sure by a nuclear arsenal that could turn our planet to a cinder in minutes?

My heart tells me if we sow violence we are likely to reap more of the same.  What about if we as a nation were to take on the course of sowing peace?  There are

many examples around the world of peaceable intervention leading to improved lives.  What is to stop us as a people from doing even more.

The sowing of peace can begin with each of us in every aspect of our lives.  Instead of responding in kind to that unkind word or gesture perhaps we would be better to respond with a measure of kindness and friendly words. We need not allow ourselves to become doormats accepting all the misfortune people can hand out, but maybe if we reduce the level of the adversity in the situation we can in the end spread a message of peace and reduced militarism around the world.  At least in my mind the idea is one worth a moment or two of real thought and honest consideration.


Quote of the Day:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

~ Mother Teresa

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Jerry Northington

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Meet the Meatrix

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

As you gobble that fine food, be it steak, a frankfurter, roasted chicken, or an omelet, please, sit back relax. Put your feet up and stay a while.  I will furnish the entertainment in the form of a film. Meatrix is fun, fascinating, and far from folly.  This presentation is playful; the message profound.  

You may recall the fairy tales you loved as a child.  The plots varied, although all had elements of mystery.  Adventures were abundant.  Tots were often so engrossed in the tales, they barely noticed that the themes taught a life lesson.  Meatrix is as the fables you once anxiously awaited and even asked others to read aloud to you.

The main characters move you through the story.  Moopheus leads Leo through the world of rolling hills, the family farm, and into . . . Well, I do not wish to tell you the ending.  Please travel with the pair as they stroll along.  Follow them into the meadows and fields.  Allow yourself to suspend disbelief, or embrace mistrust.  Just as Leo, you and I, and the person who shares a meal with you, have a choice.  We can take the blue pill or the red one.  Fantasy or reality; either may be hard to swallow.  Nonetheless, let us indulge. The travel could be delicious . .  . or dreadful.  Are you ready to explore?  If so, let us go.  Let us meet Meatrix.  He will show you the way.  The decision to travel is yours.

If you choose, to meet The Meatrix and Learn About the Issues, you may want to Take Action.  What can you do?  If you wish to, Spread the word.  At least, consider what you eat, where it came from, and what sacrifices were made for your breakfast, lunch, snack(s), or dinner.  Perchance, the “Happy Meal” is not such a bargain or worth the price we pay.

Invitation to Angert Creative Suites; The Movie

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

I, Betsy L. Angert, wish to extend an invitation.  The honor of your presence is requested at The pages comprise my portfolio.  There is no obligation to attend.  Not a single event is being held at the site.  The cost is free.  The dress, casual, formal, even a partially clad person will be welcome.   You choose.  This party, my portfolio asks only that you come as you are.  If you decide to delay a visit or never travel through the portal, all will be fine.  Curiosity is all that you might wish to bring.

Within the world-wide-web Angert Creative Suites is as a grain of sand. It stands still.  It is silent.  Yet, there is sound.  The energy of thoughts that gave birth to the portfolio may not necessarily be audible; nonetheless, these ensure that the pages are never stagnant.  The hope is that the musings will evoke emotion, empathy or a frosty feeling, either or neither.  Indifference is the only response that will cause the host concern.  However, that reaction will inspire me.

The waters within Angert Creative Suites run deep. Serenity sits on the surface.  It appears in the depths of this sea of work.  These analogies are likely a bit too abstract.  If you wish to know what might be found at Angert Creative Suites, please file through the folio. Watch the film unfold.  If perchance, you are intrigued, take the plunge.  Enter the portal known as

Internet, Intranet, Extranet?

The Intranet In Action or Interaction

This Intranet post is the second in a series.  Please peruse and reflect.  I await what I trust will be a thoughtful, fruitful discussion.  

In this chapter, I will share lessons learned.  It has become apparent to me that companies and corporate regions such as Catapult Learning’s Midwest, West and South have each implemented what they thought would be an effective and engaging Intranet site.  Big businesses, Microsoft, Microsoft Tech-Ed, Hewlett Packard, Home Depot, Hilton Hotels, and several more had accepted as I had.  The primary ingredient needed to build a brand, bridge geological boundaries, give birth to greater company loyalty, is Intranet communication.  Non Profit managers at Phi Delta Kappa, Stanford University, St. Jude Medical, also  believe the Intranet is an essential business tool.  

After only months online l ascertained that secondarily, if a Intranet site is to be effective interactivity must be a constant.  People must be brought into the conversation and helped to feel comfortable.  Through this missive, I will share studies that support this realization.  I will present what countless corporations and organizations stumbled upon belatedly.  Microsoft and Catapult Learning’s own Midwest, West, and South Region are amongst the enterprises that recognized this reality.  The two seemingly disparate groups will be the focus within this essay.  

You may be surprised as I was; the mega-software conglomerate and share many commonalities.  I now recognize a reality.  Through my research, reading, conversations with colleagues, and chats with innumerable businesspersons, I understand parallels exist for most any business.  

Companies that dare to dive deeply into the world-wide-web come to acknowledge the seriousness of the medium.  The benefits of being active online quickly became apparent.  Corporations that delay risk being left out of critical conversations.  Offline organizations miss opportunities to grow the business, build the brand and make best use of professional relationships.  Then there are the companies that enthusiastically enter cyberspace, create business blogs and fail to reap rewards.  There are reasons why. All of which takes me back to the future, the analogy: Microsoft and

Please peruse Why Do Corporate Blogs Fail? This comprehensive analysis offers insights and addresses what Microsoft and learned.

A Shared Experience; Microsoft and

During our three and one half years venture into cyberspace, our Advisory Board and I came to understand as the leadership at Microsoft did.  Many of our earliest assumptions were erroneous.  

Just as Executives at Microsoft found, those of us at came to understand that if we were to be successful, our webpage could not solely stand as a commercial endeavor.  Nor would a mere online reference center do.   A full range of real rewards is garnered through regular interactions.  If we were to authentically connect colleagues, we would need to engage our coworkers and take a people-centric approach.  We envisioned a day when would to do as the large conglomerate did, bring customers into the conversation.  As Microsoft SharePoint users, you might relate.  Perhaps, you may have been one of the many who comment at the company’s Get The Point Blog.  You might have been helped by the  observations of another SharePoint client.  Perchance, after minutes on this Microsoft site you said aloud, as several visitors to have, “Thank you!  I am going to enjoy exploring the website.  Thus far, it seems it has a plethora of ideas and information to help strengthen teaching skills.”

An abundance of meaningful, informative, and personally pertinent articles can be as a smorgasbord. Variety is the spice of life, be it on a plate or in posts. Better than a barren menu, there is a tasty morsel for anyone who wishes to dine, or dig into the Intranet table.  Questions, interviews, case studies, multimedia diaries, events commentaries, news, reviews, hints and tips, tutorials, links, resources, parables, and predictions, as Web Strategists espouses, tantalize a hungry palette.  At Microsoft Corporation and at, in time, we realized much of what Information Technology authorities assert  

Indeed, there are 10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites,  The first of these is but one of many misconceptions.   Scores of organizations believe that either a marketing or IT department are best suited to manage the webpage. “However,” as Paul Boag, Author of the Website Owners Manual, states, “this inevitably leads to a turf war at worst, with the website becoming the victim of internal politics.”

In action, many analysts assert, a Web strategy is not aptly suited for either division. Information Technology may excel in the delivery of complex systems.  Yet, these technologically trained professionals do not necessarily present a friendly user experience. The establishment of an online brand is not their expertise.  While marketing can move many mountains of copy and art, the singular focus on sales does not engender great web experiences.

The Web is a conversation. Marketing, by contrast, is a monologue… And then there’s all that messy business with semantic markup, Cascade Style Sheets (CSS), unobtrusive scripting, card-sorting exercises, HTML run-throughs, involving users in accessibility, and the rest of the skills and experience that don’t fall under Marketing’s purview (or for that matter Its.)

Some Catapult Learning’s Executives, much to their credit, understood this truth years ago.  Then, some observed that regardless of how lovely the look of our corporate website, or how profound our prose and product descriptions might be, these did not necessarily create the interchange of ideas they desired. Indeed, the standard webpage did not provide current employees with the tools to interact.  

In the Midwest Region, this was stated aloud as an outcome to our 2006 Summer meeting.  We hosted a Regional Conference late in that year.  Teachers and counselors were invited  The guest speakers were plentiful, powerful, and sensational. In post-conference discussions and evaluations, the consensus was that corporate colleagues, those who live in another city, state, or just in another office down the street, had been the best teachers.   In open discussion seminars or during snack time Catapult Learning staff encountered soul mates.  Much to the surprise of many Educators, Managers, and Executives, persons from another territory shared their questions or had the answers these individuals sought.  

Over and over again, as I read the assessment surveys, one thought stood out in the form of a request.   My Catapult Learning colleagues wanted to communicate in cyberspace with those that they might have never heard from or met before.  They asked; might we share stories and resources, ask for assistance, view videos, scan snapshots, and just get to know each other better. The attendees had built bonds and broadened horizons at this get-together,.  Most felt, what they had experienced was worthy but not enough.  Thus, was born.

The goal was to find a way to connect to our widely geographically scattered colleagues and thereby potentially to assist them to form a community of Catapult Educators who could share ideas, questions and thoughts, Secondarily, we hoped that by using the Intranet, Teachers, Supervisors, Administrators, and Staff would became better acquainted with technological tools.  Indeed, we envisioned techno-savvy Catapult Educators.  With consideration for the current educational climate, requiring computers in the classroom and curriculum, were our personnel to be better prepared to teach using technology Catapult Learning would be more marketable.  Surely, the mere mention of having worked with Microsoft on a résumé has an influential effect.

While the Microsoft brand may be on the decline due to quantifiably diverse business decisions, respect for the knowledgeable workers within the company remains exceeding high.  This truth has helped to maintain Microsoft’s mindshare and a strong reputation.  As stated earlier in this essay and the Introduction, Marketing and Information Technology alone may make an initial sale; however, without competent workers in other divisions much is lost.

Intranet; Interest, Activity, Accessibility, and Amicably

Our Regional cyberspace community is one of millions, or billions of business related enterprises in the Ethernet.  There are likely just as many domains that are individually owned and operated.  Small companies, middle size manufacturers burgeoning beacons of industry, and buyers can be sought and found in the world-wide-web.  While a webpage can scream we are here, it can be nearly invisible.  It is difficult for an entity to garner a loyal audience.  Even corporations with a strong and stable following in the physical world can be swallowed up in the noise of myriad net neighborhoods.

The Midwestern, South, and Western region realized that if we were to achieve as we had imagined, it was essential that we use technology well. We understood the need to build bridges, the brand, and our business.  Although our technological trek has barely begun, and admittedly, we learned some of the 10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites belatedly, we did make an impressive appearance online.  Up until the moment we converted our public page to a private one, site traffic was good.  

As studies show, “Companies that blog have far better marketing results” and higher morale.

Through, we offered an online community, a means for colleagues to connect in cyberspace.  This venture has provided us with abundant experiences, each of which corroborates what many specialists state is best practice.  

My only regret is my earlier trepidation.   Unlike tycoons at Hewlett Packard, I did not appreciate the need to reach out, interact, and discuss what we were learning and experiencing at Encourage Education with the broader Catapult Learning community. I realize now, as I read the research and think of the lessons learned not sharing the experience with all was a mistake. It is primarily for this reason I write now.  Admittedly, I hesitated.  

Today, I grapple with what I have read and recognized over and over again,  Blogs Will Change Your Business.  In the corporate world, “The winners will be those who host the very best conversations.”

This truth is as Microsoft and later learned.  If the site is to be effective, essays must be read and reflected upon.  Treatises cannot be dry.  “Diaries” must come to life as they do on business blogs such as the ones Microsoft hosts.  

Did you happen to read the reflection at Microsoft’s Blog, Stranded in Seattle? This treatise successfully blended myriad of truths.  An Icelandic volcano prompted reveries of Mount Saint Helens.  Flight cancelations helped to flaunt the fantastic benefits of cloud computing services.  Ultimately, this saga reminds readers that we relate to real life tales and learn from stories similar to our own.   .  I am reminded of a recent reverie, or two, read at our Regional site:, The Who Dat Nation … an explanation! and Why I Celebrate Kwanzaa.  I think it sensational when we learn from the life and its effect on others.

Perhaps, that is why the management at Microsoft concluded just as our Catapult colleagues at did; delivery must allow for interaction.  People who are given the opportunity to participate in a conversation glean much knowledge and enjoy being part of an energized community.  Be it Catapult Learning’s or Microsoft Technical Communities through an interactive Intranet companies can build a brand, bridge geological boundaries, give birth to greater company loyalty, and grow glorious.  

May we Learn, Grow, and Glow.  


References for Internet, Intranet, Extranet realities . . .

Moms Speak Out: End This Brutal War

By ReThink Afgahnistan and ReThink Afghanistan on facebook

Dear BeThink Reader,

Mom hated war. Hated it. In fact, that’s why she invented Mother’s Day — to denounce the death and destruction brought by war.

By “Mom,” I mean Julia Ward Howe, considered by many to be the “mother” of the Mother’s Day tradition in the U.S.

In a tribute to Howe’s vision, for Mother’s Day, we created a new video that puts the focus back where it belongs: On ending a war.

In 1870, Howe wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation that said, in part:

“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.”

Mom would have hated the Afghanistan war, too. Let’s give her what she wants this Mother’s Day. If you’re on Facebook, share this video with your friends. Or, email it to your friends.

(You may wish to follow  Rethink Afghanistan on Twitter.)

Help us get the word out about this costly, brutal war.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Robert Greenwald, Derrick Crowe

and the Brave New Foundation team