New Year...New Focus

Happy New Year to everyone! I'm making a few changes, as is appropriate for the ringing in of a new year and a new decade. 

Change number one:

In an effort to support under-marketed and underrepresented artists, I will use this particular blog space to present the works of some fabulous artists I've become acquainted with. I plan to try and feature a different artist from several different genres (not just jewelry) every week. The first one I have lined up is an extremely talented silversmith from across the pond...I think you'll like him.

Change number two:

I am opening a new shop with a new name, a new image and a new line of jewelry. The shop will be called JoiaBela, which is Portuguese for Beautiful Jewel. As many of you know, I was lucky enough to live in Brazil for a while and love everything related to that country to this day: the people, the food, the music, the atmosphere. So my new line will have a little taste of samba, a little feijoada and a little South American soul. The website is still under construction, but watch for a grand opening announcement soon. I will also be posting a second blog featuring my own jewelry where I can post new item alerts, sale announcements and specials just for blog subscribers. I'm considering a third blog where I can just ramble on about what's on my mind (sort of like I've done here for the past year and a half), but that's still undecided (feel free to weigh in on that).

Change number three:

m.o.d. custom jewelry, aka "missouri ocean," will be a venue where I feature only a few pieces of jewelry for sale, the proceeds of which will be donated to my favorite charity, Reef.org.

Soapbox Alert...woop, woop, woop...Soapbox Alert...

It disgusts me that I live in a country that spends 18.7 billion dollars a year exploring space and less than one tenth of that exploring our oceans.

Oceans cover 71% of the surface of the Earth. 97% of the Earth's water is in the ocean. One-sixth of the jobs in the U.S. are marine-related and one-third of the United States' GNP originates from coastal areas. Yet those same oceans which support 50% of all species on the planet are 95% unexplored!

I truly believe that the answers to many of our planet's biggest problems are to be found in our seas. The cure for cancer, the remedy for world hunger and the solution to global warming are most likely all right there, just waiting to be discovered. But we're not under there looking for them. Instead, we're blowing holes in the Moon to see if there was water there 100 million years ago.

(Steps down from soapbox)

Technically, I am not sure if the new decade begins tomorrow or a year from tomorrow. I remember that debate in 2000 about when the actual new millenium began. I'll leave those debates to more intelligent beings than I. Meanwhile, I want to thank all my customers, friends and family for your support and love over the past year. I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!


176 Nights

I've been cleaning up my studio/office. It's well past time, I've let it pile up pretty badly this year. I came across an alarming number of room card-keys for hotels I stayed in this year. I usually don't turn them in at the end of a stay and I've been throwing them in a basket.

I was curious, looking at this stack of 40 or 50 room keys, about exactly how many nights I spent in a hotel in 2009, so I went back through my schedule.

As closely as I can tell, I spent at least 176 nights in a hotel in 2009 (probably more). Most of them were spent in Hilton properties (Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites), about 30 or so were Marriott, a few Omni, some Renaissance. Hilton was my brand of choice due to the fact that you can "double dip" there: earning both frequent flier miles and hotel points.

People who don't travel much always think it's glamorous and fun. I admit that I do like to travel, but it's rarely glamorous and the travel itself is seldom fun. Being somewhere I've never been is fun, or seeing family and friends is fun, but the travel itself--not so much.

So the points you get, the miles, the little perks and bennies of being a frequent flier or frequent guest or whatever, become like a little game you play. How can I best maximize my points? If I have to do a three-leg trip tomorrow, how can I get the best benefit with the fewest hassles? (Hint to anyone: avoiding Chicago O'Hare Airport is always a good call).

I've seen the ads for the new George Clooney movie, Up In the Air. I suspect that I'll find a little of myself in his character.