I am not one to voice my opinion loudly on cake drama. I have a small group of cake friends that I chat with but I am generally not the one to get on the defensive on cake forums and cake debates.Recently something happened that struck a chord. I follow several cake decorating related Facebook pages and forums. All of them talk about how they are groups where anyone can share pictures, ask questions, and learn. For the most part people do post pictures and look for advice – great places to learn and work together IF that is what is happening. But far too often the chat on these pages moves from learning and welcome advice to tearing other cake decorators and customers down. To be honest it is why I try to stay out of these pages all together. I try not to read what pops up in my news feeds. And I try to hold back the temptation of going to look when a fellow cake friend says “did you see what’s going on on such and such page today?”The cake world has gotten a bad rap for being a catty place to be. It is things like this that make this an unfortunate truth. The cake world can be very catty. But it doesn’t have to be. These pages have a great opportunity to be used for exactly what they were created for; to learn, encourage and build up our fellow cake decorators.Many of these pages state that they are all inclusive; any cake decorator who finds the page is welcome to join. Follow the simple rules and you’re in. They often talk about welcoming newbies. But here is where my problem lies… how can a cake page be welcoming to new or inexperienced cake decorators when the members of the page are posting screen shots of ads and pictures done by other decorators and making fun of them? In a page that has thousands of members how do you know you haven’t stumbled upon the picture or ad of someone from that very group? Not that doing this to someone outside the group means its okay but how embarrassing would it be for a brand new member to scroll through old posts to find that they have been made fun of in the past. How heartbreaking to someone who is just trying to start their cake decorating journey.People make comments about other cake decorator’s lack of skills, they make comments about their lack of advertising knowledge, and they attack anything and everything they can about these unknown cake decorators. Even to the point recently where people were calling or emailing these unknown cake decorators pretending to be potential customers inquiring about an order. This is the definition of catty. Actually let’s look at the definition of catty adjectivedeliberately hurtful in one’s remarks; spitefulof or relating to cats; catlike.Well we know that we’re not talking about definition number two 🙂 You could say that calling people pretending to a customer is not hurtful. You could say “I didn’t say anything mean. I didn’t tell her how terrible her cakes are or how wrong she is.” But you did… you hurt her. You hurt her because you gave her that excited feeling we all got as new cake decorators starting a business and hearing our phone ring with a potential order. And then the disappointment when nothing came of that conversation where she was sweet and trying to bend over backwards for you to get a new customer – maybe for all you know you were her first potential customer (not that it matters if it’s her first or one hundred and first). Now that could happen on any given day with an actual potential customer. But you weren’t a potential customer. You were someone calling her and then reporting back to your cake page to make fun of her with your cake friends.We have all made mistakes – every single one of us, myself included. I am not immune and I am not innocent. It is very easy to get wrapped up in cake drama. Not one of us walks on cake water. No, not even that cake decorator that you hold up on a pedestal. I have my pedestal sitters – my cake idols. And even they have made mistakes. I know they have because they are human.I look back at my early years of cake decorating and often think “what were you thinking!?!” And I know that 10 years from now I will very likely look back at this current time of cake decorating I’m in and feel that same way about things “are you kidding me Chrissie!? You thought that cake was great? You thought that marketing idea was amazing?”We all learn, we all grow, and we all change and develop our cake and business knowledge. So why can we not build each other up and help each other. Instead of attacking each other why don’t we reach out and offer help and advice. Yes, some cake decorators may not want it. But then you can say to yourself “I tried. I didn’t attack. I tried my best and I offered what I could.” Some people are fearful of helping someone who might potentially be their competition. Competition is not a bad thing. Helping your competition is not a bad thing. Being friends with your competition is not a bad thing.Imagine this – you see an ad where a cake decorator in your area is offering cakes WAY cheaper then you are. You’re angry; you’re worried what they will do to your business. You have two options – run to your cake group and complain and see what you gain out of that. (I’ll give you a hint… nothing much but more pent up fuelled anger.) Or you can call up your new competition and say “can we chat about prices and work on being on the same page.” Maybe their skill level isn’t where yours is and they aren’t at a place to be charging what you’re charging. That’s fine! Experience has value and you’ve earned it. Customers will be placing orders based on what each of you can provide and has to offer. You can still offer them advice so that they are not undervaluing what they can do which is harmful to every cake decorator’s business. Or maybe you’re both at the same skill level but they’re new and trying to get their foot in the door. Having the conversation with them about keeping pricing on an even playing field will help you both. Customers will be getting similar quotes across the board and booking who they feel comfortable with. Opening the door of communication also means you’ve found someone who will very likely refer business your way that they can’t take on and vice versa. They will probably be very grateful to have an experienced cake decorator reach out to them and help them realize they shouldn’t be short changing themselves. Wow! Look at that! ; Two different ways to react one with no gain… one with quiet possibly new cake orders and maybe even a new cake friend. (And we all need those. I’ve called on many a cake friend to help with all kinds of things. And I’ve had many a cake friend call me for the same.) I think the choice there is pretty clear.We can’t all do every cake out there. When chatting with a new cake decorator and trying to get them to understand pricing I often say “Do you want to be the person who gets orders because you make cheap cake. Or do you want to be the person who gets orders because the customer wants YOUR cake”. I don’t ever want a customer to pick me because I was the cheapest. I want a customer to pick me because they felt comfortable with me – they liked my design, they liked my personality and they were excited to have me doing their cake.This is just one example of the things I have watched happen. It doesn’t stop with pricing. It carries through to attacking many other things about a cake decorator and even attack things about customers. I am all for going on boards and asking for advice about difficult customers. We’ve all had them and often times it’s hard to know how to deal with them. But there is a difference between asking for advice and outright complaining just to put it out there. Who wants that negative energy really?The point I am getting at in all of this is that there is absolutely no gain making fun of or attacking other cake decorators or your customers. People may feel these pages are private because they are closed groups. But they are open to just a few thousand cake decorators. That is not private! If you’re irritated with something discuss it with your husband, wife, cake spouse, partner, mom, dad – whoever your go to person is (provided they’re not tired of listening to cake stories). And then move on! But only get irritated about it if you can honestly say you’ve done something to try and help the situation. If at the end of the day you have done something that will help better the cake world well then pat yourself on the back and head to bed. You’ve probably got a long cake day ahead of you and don’t need to be spending your time on cake drama.About Chrissie BoonAward-winning Chrissie Boon is a member of the Canadian Cake Decorators Guild and runs a custom cake studio and school in Ontario.She began her baking career as a teenager, when she took over a cookie business her mother and next-door neighbour had started.While at university, Chrissie took some cake decorating classes and realized she had found her career.Following her passion, Chrissie opened a small cake and cookie shop. Today, she and her husband run Too Nice to Slice, their custom cake studio – which is also home to Icing Inspirations, their cake decorating supply store and school.Chrissie currently travels to teach throughout the world and is thrilled to be the first Canadian instructor for the Craftsy team.She has been featured on numerous blogs, magazines and Canadian TV shows. Her and her husband were the season finale winners of Cakewalk: Wedding Cake Edition.www.icinginspirations.ca www.toonicetoslice.ca
Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” graced the stage at O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s Monday night with a performance by the Aquila Theatre company. Six actors, united by Aquila’s mission to make classical works accessible to everyone through performance arts, brought the classic novel to life under the direction of Desiree Sanchez.“It was a marvelous performance,” director of special events Richard Baxter said. “Very well put together, very clear. You know what I loved most of all? No mics.”One of the production’s lead actors, Kali Hughes (Cathy Earnshaw), said although the show is demanding, it is gratifying to perform.“It’s a really tough show,” Hughes said. “It’s kind of shocked me. I’ve got to stay fit and healthy. You can’t have a day off, but it’s immensely enjoyable as well.”Dale Mathurin (Heathcliffe), who is just older than most members of the Saint Mary’s audience, said “Heights” has been on the road for three weeks and the central role can be taxing for such a fresh actor.“It’s a very hectic show,” Mathurin said. “I’m fresh out of drama school. This is my first time abroad. There are a lot of days in the van getting to different venues.”Mathurin said she and Hughes lived in London, England prior to touring “Heights.”“I worked for the company last year,” Hughes said. “I knew they were doing ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and I begged for the role. I love ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and I think every teenage girl holds this book close to their hearts.”Mathurin happened upon the role after a chance audition, he said.“I’m a baby, literary,” Mathurin said. “It’s funny. I’m in my third year of drama school, and as I’m ready to leave school, my agent posted this audition to me. I turned up, and I got a recall, went to the second audition. What kept me here was the book and the cast, the environment and the story.”Hughes said bringing Bronte’s world to life has been a challenge.“It has been a hard book to adapt,” Hughes said. “You’ll notice we have only really have done the first half of the book. Cathy dies in the first half of the book, and I think part of that has to do with having a young Heathcliff. It’s just a more truthful story.“As brilliant as the book is, it really does peak in the middle, it’s really exciting, this bit where we ended. A novel is different. On the stage you need to be gripped. Despite the absolute mess they’ve gotten themselves into. If we were to put the whole thing onstage, when [the characters] fail, we want to see more, do we care? It’s like a book with lots of little ends. It kind of leeches the drama.”Hughes said part of the challenge in adapting “Wuthering Heights,” is the complexity of Cathy’s character.“I actually find Cathy to be an energy vacuum,” Hughes said. “She walks into a room and sucks the energy out of everything, like a vortex. But she’s also very human, and she makes a mistake. I think she’s just this fantastically flawed individual. She’s trying to claw back her love for Heathcliff.”Mathurin said Heathcliff’s mysterious side makes the role appealing.“What draws me the most is his mystery,” he said. “I find him to be very enigmatic to play with in the scenes that he’s in,” Mathurin said. “The mystery of the character’s what drew me. I don’t think at this point in time I want to be anyone else but Heathcliff.”Tags: Aquila Theatre Company, Bronte, Wuthering Heights
Lying in a Havana hospital bed as he recovers from cancer surgery, President Hugo Chavez thanked Venezuela’s military for their loyalty and love, the vice president said on January 16. Nicolas Maduro told a military audience the president expressed this message to Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, who is Chavez’s son-in-law and is with him in Cuba. “He told us to pass on to the Armed Forces, from the bottom of his heart, all of his gratitude for so much loyalty from you toward the commander, a humble soldier of this country,” said Maduro, who saw Chavez over the weekend in Havana. “Thanks to everyone for so much loyalty and so much love,” Maduro said, quoting Arreaza as quoting Chavez, a former military officer who is now 58. Chavez underwent a fourth cancer operation on December 11 in Havana, and remains there recovering. His latest complication is a pulmonary infection. He has not been seen in public since before he left Caracas. But before he left, he warned the Armed Forces to be on the lookout for any attempt, “from outside or from within,” to destabilize this country, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. At the ceremony at a military academy, Defense Minister Diego Molero said the Armed Forces remain faithful “now more than ever” to Chavez. And they will respect a Supreme Court ruling upholding a parliamentary vote last week that indefinitely postponed Chavez’s inauguration to a new six-year term following his re-election win back in October. Chavez’s absence and silence has unsettled many Venezuelans. Some in the opposition complain that the country is in effect, and illegally, being ruled from Cuba and with Cuban influence. No gesture goes unnoticed as a nation so thoroughly dominated by the populist comandante goes without him and ponders an uncertain future. For instance, the official government gazette published a decree in which Elias Jaua was named as Venezuela’s new foreign minister. The decree is dated in Caracas and carries the stamped signature of Chavez. Henrique Capriles, a state governor whom Chavez beat in Venezuela’s October presidential election, said it was puzzling that the decree on the new foreign minister carried the president’s name. “If the president of the republic can sign decrees, I call on him to appear, speak to Venezuela and tell us what is happening in this government, because what Venezuela has is ‘dis-government’,” Capriles said. The government has been releasing minimal information on the condition of Chavez, who first came to power in 1999. Many in Venezuela find it hard to believe the flamboyant Chavez, a near fixture on television and radio for more than a decade — would not address the nation in some way if he were able to do so. Chavez’s absence, combined with his decision to be treated in secrecy in strictly-controlled communist Cuba, has fueled questions about his health and the future of his leftist “Bolivarian Revolution.” By Dialogo January 18, 2013 The suck-up gringos, they know what our leaders are doing, have relationships with whomever they want without consulting anyone but the gringos. Consulting with the North is over, they ones who decide now are the countries of our Latin America. It is inexact or at the least hardly credible to say that the President sent the message. Since December 08, 2012, the President can’t be seen anywhere, consequently, nobody can be sure of the veracity of that message.
On Wednesday, the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted the latest installment of Students Talk Back, “From the Pentagon Papers to WikiLeaks: The Government’s Need for Secrecy and the Public’s Right to Know,” featuring Daniel Ellsberg, a former government official best known for his release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.Patriot · Daniel Ellsberg, known for releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, spoke on technology’s impact on today’s whistleblowers Wednesday. – Austin Vogel | Daily TrojanThe Talk Back series is hosted in conjunction with USC College Democrats, USC College Republicans and the Daily Trojan. The panel was moderated by Kerstyn Olson, interim director of the Unruh Institute, and Heidi Greenhalgh, a graduate research assistant at USC CREATE, the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events.Other panelists included Stan Stahl, president of the Information Systems Security Association of Los Angeles and students Kevin Driscoll, a Ph.D. candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Annalise Mantz, the former Editor-in-Chief and current special projects editor of the Daily Trojan.Olson began the event with a question about the differences between Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who revealed classified documents showing the existence of a top-secret government surveillance program.Ellsberg also spoke about the contrasts between him and current-day whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning, a military whistleblower who revealed classified information about the human cost of U.S. violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ellsberg questioned Manning’s decision to reveal documents that she was not personally familiar with.“But now, with digital technology, [Manning] was able to put out hundreds of thousands of documents, a questionable aspect I’ve been doubting from the beginning,” Ellsberg said. “Obviously, [she] put out more than [she] could have read personally. I didn’t do that, and I don’t think I would have done that. That was a problematic thing to do.”Ellsberg also stated that he, like Edward Snowden, wanted to make sure that people would know who was revealing the information. He believes that he, Manning and Snowden shared a common goal of wanting the public to know what they saw as deceptive government actions.“None of us joined the military, in Chelsea’s case, or the government, with any thought of being a whistleblower or breaking the promise we made not to reveal any information,” Ellsberg, who worked at Rand Corporation, said. “We had come to realize that to keep that promise was to break our oath, more conscious in their minds, especially Snowden’s, than it was in mine, that we had all taken to support and defend the Constitution, which was very blatantly being violated by the governments we were serving.”Stahl spoke to the audience about the connections between Ellsberg and current-day whistleblowers.“We had a very strong belief in the 1960s that, in fact, our government was lying to us,” Stahl said. “It wasn’t just the war in Vietnam, it was also the Civil Rights Movement — that whole time of ferment when, in fact, people were dying for the Constitution and going to jail because of their strong, strong belief that we had to defend the Constitution.”In response to the issue of how to draw the line between the public’s right to know and classified information, Stahl emphasized that the answer should come from the wider public.“It’s not ‘Snowden belongs in jail’ versus ‘Snowden’s a hero,’” Stahl said. “It’s, ‘How do we collect the information? How do we put limits on that collection? How do we get a court to approve it?’ And we’re not going to solve that here. We’re going to solve that collectively, all of us, but it means it needs to be in all of your consciousnesses.”The moderators also asked the students on the panel how they, as journalists, would deal with disseminating classified information to the public.“What it comes down to for me is the central principle, and one of the reasons I got into journalism is the need to inform people and let our readers know what’s going on,” Mantz said. “That being said, I would want to make sure that I knew exactly what I was publishing and that I have the legal backing-up to do so.”Driscoll explained that the scope of the general public has become much wider over the past several decades and that its meaning has changed, including people across the globe who might not be considered citizens.“In the case of Chelsea Manning, I think she imagined a global audience for the documents that she released,” Driscoll said. “And not everybody in that public shares the same rights and access to structures of participatory democracy as other folks do.”Shayla McMurray, a freshman majoring in gender studies, law, history, and culture and political science, said that she was inspired by the patriotism of the speakers. “Overall, the event was really inspiring,” McMurray said. “I thought it was really touching how [Ellsberg] talked about how the word ‘traitor’ might be tossed around colloquially, but the type of impact it has on someone who firmly believes that they’re a patriot like he did.”Ben Shiroma, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, said that the topic was an issue of great importance but that he wished there were more diverse viewpoints regarding whistleblowers on the panel.“It was an important conversation that needed to be had,” Shiroma said. “However, it would have been nice to have more conflicting views on the panel. Everyone more or less felt the same way, but I feel like there is a need to censor or not release documents that have a potential to harm people.”