Our man in China

Tom Jr. left today for a two-week journey to China. He won’t actually arrive until tomorrow morning around 9 am our time which I think is a full day ahead of us so he’s currently traveling into the future and will be taking a trip back in time when he returns home.

He’s traveling with 12 other classmates and three teachers from St. Louis U High including the Chinese teacher who has done this trip several times. The students are all members of SLUH’s Varsity Chorus and they’ll be performing in several different cities in China but primarily, it’s a sight-seeing, tourist-type trip with a few performances tossed in for good measure.

Chris and I both figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and when those opportunities come your way, you’ve got to take them. So off he went today – no longer a boy, but now a young man, a high school graduate who is ready to see the world.

It’s hard for me to fathom the adventure that awaits him. I’ve been all around the U.S., to Puerto Rico, in parts of Canada and slight ventures into Mexico. Back when I was in college, I had the chance to visit my brother, Frank, who was studying for the priesthood at the North American College in Rome. We visited several cities in Italy, saw countless museums and churches and also traveled by train into Germany, France and Switzerland.

But China! I just can’t wrap my head around China.

To me, it’s this Communistic, militaristic, over-populated land where everyone dresses alike, thinks alike and they are constantly on the go – on their bikes, their rickshaws, their small vehicles and overcrowded public transportation. All I have are assumptions. All I have are generalities.

It is frightening to think that Tom Jr. will be over there with nothing more than a passport to prove who he is and if, by some remote fluke he were to get separated from his group and wander off into a crowded market and get confused about his bearings, I would be helpless to do a thing about it.

Sure that scares me. At the same time, I am excited by the possibilities – knowing that Tom will experience a culture that I most likely never will. He’ll see the great wall of China. He’ll be in Tiananman Square. He’ll be in major cities and tour the countryside as well.

He’s taken a camera and I hope he remembers to use it and use it often. He also has taken a journal and I encouraged him to write down what he saw or thought about each day that he’s gone.

This is our first true experience of Tom being away for any extended length of time while the rest of the household is here, going about our business. So I guess it’s good prep work for when he goes away to college in the fall.

We really haven’t seen much of Tom the past year as he’s been so heavily involved in SLUH activities of one sort or another or hanging with his friends. We are sort of a boarding house in that regard. But he’s always been here in the morning or the afternoon when he got back from an overnight stay at a friend’s. Even though he may not have been at our house, we didn’t feel like he was actually gone.

It’s not like he was halfway around the world or anything.

But now he is.

Already, I miss him.

We hope he has the time of his life.

And we can hardly wait until he’s back home to tell us all about it.


One week, two graduations

This past week, my daughter Catherine graduated from 8th grade. On Sunday, Tom Jr. donned a white tux and graduated from St. Louis U High.

So Tom’s off to college and Catherine is off to high school. Grade school is now a thing of the past in our household

We’ll have one in college and two in high school. Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

And when they say, (whoever they are), “Who knows where the time goes?” – they’re right.

It flies by. When your kids are first born it’s all a blur. But then they’re walking. And talking. Next thing you know, they’re off to pre-school and when kindergarten hits, you think, “this is a big step.” And it is.

Because it never slows down from there. Everything accelerates. Now, our family is done with grade school. In a few more games, I’ll be done coaching softball and done coaching for the rest of my life.

That’s a bummer. It’s fun to coach. Grade school years were fun years. Both Michael and Tom Jr. have loved their experience at St. Louis U High. It’s truly an awesome school, so different from when I went there but yet, fundamentally so much the same. SLUH gets in your blood (pardon the pun). You realize while you’re attending there what a great place it is and then, once you’re done, you realize you’re ready to move on.

So Tom Jr. will be attending St. Louis University in the fall. Catherine will be a freshman at Nerinx. Michael will be an upperclassman at SLUH.

They’ll all do great.

Right now, Tom Jr. is about to depart for China for a two week excursion with SLUH’s Varsity Chorus, continuing to go places and do things that I’ve never done and that’s what life’s all about.

Get out there and live it.

Always live in the present. Remember the past. Try a bit to plan for the future but know that if you’re looking more than two or three weeks down the road, you may be overlooking the joys of right now.

I’m a proud papa. I’ve got an awesome wife. I shot in the 70s today in golf for the first time in a long time.

To quote a great singer from my far distant past, “Life’s been good to me so far.”

The never-ending battle of email

Remember what life was like before email?

I’m not sure I do anymore.

I know that many people have moved away from using email, shifting instead to texting all the time. But texting is not any way to hold on to documents and key info. Email often is.

And just like junk mail used to fill our regular mailboxes, it now fills my email in-box – only technically, the emails that clutter my daily mailbox aren’t junk.

I created a few of these problems myself. I’m in around 15 different LinkedIn Groups and every time anything happens in any of those groups, I get an email. There is one group in particular with one recurring email that pops up in my in-box on almost an hourly basis. The group is called Advertising Professionals and about two months ago, some person asked the simple question, “Do you have a favorite motivational quote?” Apparently, just about every group member wants to share their favorite words of wisdom.

It’s mind-numbing. I’ve tried exiting the conversation but LinkedIn won’t let me. Every time I click on ‘Stop Following This Discussion’ it gives me a message that something is wrong with my request and asks me to sign in. For a while I did, and then I’d go to the group and there were all the quotes – to date more than 600 of them – so then if I clicked on stop following this discussion guess where it took me?

It’s Catch-22 circa 2012.

I follow a number of blogs and get email updates on those as well. I get Facebook updates, WordPress updates, twitter updates, deals from StLWeekly, Barnes & Noble, travelocity, Behance – I could go on and on. Because they go on and on and every once in a while there’s something of value that keeps me from hitting unsubscribe.

If there was an email edition of Hoarders, I would be featured on it. Because all these emails are in addition to the daily emails required when you’re dealing with clients or potential clients or the people you work with who send you their bids and your own work in progress and then you email them back with your comments on their bids or your bids or your work or their work and toss in the occasional email from your friends or your children’s grade updates or your wife who’s sending you a reminder not to forget whatever it is you’ve already forgotten because this happens almost every day throughout the day and when you wake up in the morning and open your email box, there to greet you are another 10-20 contestants to take up your time and get your morning rolling.

I’ve created folders. I delete regularly but not often enough. I try categorizing. I try simplifying yet the totals are always climbing, email on top of email, piling on top of each other like some giant compost heap that try as you might, just won’t go away. I try and set a designated time period in each day to deal with emails but like some junky, I’m always lured back in when I get a visual alert on my mac that previews who sent it and the subject matter.

I can’t resist opening. I’ve got mail!

Emails are a great way to communicate. They allow you to conduct business with people from almost anywhere. And yes, I do use the phone – a lot – to discuss the email that I sent or was sent or will send. And when the opportunity comes to actually meet face-to-face, that’s often followed up by an email re-capping the meeting.

In the time that I’ve been typing this blog post, I’ve received eleven new emails. But this day is done so I’ll check them out in the morning.

Am I the only one suffering from email inundation? I doubt it.

Why not send me an email and let me know what you think?


I’ll be happy to hear from you!


A rare post about the work I’ve been doing

Starting your own business is an adventure.

Providing integrated advertising and marketing communications to a wide range of clients is even more of an adventure especially when you have to be the new business developer, the creative director, account service guy, marketing strategist and the overall linchpin to keep things rolling.

Things started off kind of slow – I had to completely overhaul my old website and make it much more functional. Then I needed to begin to reach out to contacts and seek new business. One thing I have learned, no one is waiting around hoping to give you business. The world goes on every day and unless you’re out there pursuing and selling and then delivering once you get an assignment, you won’t be asked back to do more.

You have to deliver. Every assignment you get needs to be the most important assignment you’ll ever have.

I have been fortunate so far in that I have worked on some very good pieces of business. I’ve had the opportunity to do things I’ve never done before. I’ve had clients call me back for repeat business and that is the most rewarding part of all. They value what I’m delivering.

So who is all this work for and let’s see some examples of it. Some of it’s on YouTube. Some is hard to miss as you drive by locations containing the new window displays we’ve done. Other work is online or in the hands of customers. But before showcasing, I need a thing called permission.

I hope to obtain it in a few days or so and then post the work on both my BloodLines Creative website and on my BloodLines Creative Facebook page – which, if you haven’t, I would love to have you visit and like it.

And if you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so.

I really enjoy writing it. I enjoy it even more when I know lots of people are reading it.

Have a great week and if you live in San Diego, oops, I mean St. Louis – I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful run of weather we’ve been having.



Not on our license plates!

The border war between MU and KU began over slavery issues in 1850. Now that we’re not going to play each other in football or basketball anymore, the war has shifted to the back of our vehicles.

In case you haven’t heard, our elected officials in Jeff City are really earning their pay as Republicans and Democrats alike have joined forces in an effort to keep the dreaded KU Jayhawk off of Missouri license plates.

You may well wonder why anyone would even want a Missouri license plate to have a KU Jayhawk on it in the first place. The combination of Missouri and Jayhawk just doesn’t go together. But apparently, some KU alums who live in the great state of Missouri petitioned the KU alumni association to seek approval to get the plates made.

Since Missouri has no real budgetary problems or important issues that need resolving (like making I-70 a toll highway, raising our academic standards, or addressing our unemployment rate), a bipartisan team of Missouri lawmakers shifted their attention to this brewing battle. Missouri Representative Stephen Webber (D), and Missouri Representative Caleb Jones (R), are leading the charge and have vowed to take this all the way to the Governor’s desk to assure that the only red-headed bird that ever sits on a Missouri license plate will be a Redbird, not some overstuffed-looking creature with a KU on its chest.

As a loyal University of Missouri-Columbia alum, what do I think of all this?

Personally, it reinforces my general impression of politics. Big issues are never resolved. Little issues are brought to the forefront that generally accomplish nothing in the grand scheme of things and show me just how hard our elected officials are working. Like virtually every political ad says, “I’m fighting on your behalf.”

Oh blah, blah, blah and blather, blather, blather.

If a few Missourians want to put a KU Jayhawk on their license plates, more power to them. They are setting their vehicle up to be the target of egging, keying, rear-ending and the driver within to be the subject of much verbal abuse – none of which I would ever condone or consider. But it will happen.

Well, maybe it won’t. Because our hard-working legislature is fighting on our behalf to keep that dreaded bird off of our plates and from ever being more than just a flight of fancy.

Silly, isn’t it?


How to become more creative #9 Do nothing

This is the ninth and final post from my now not-so-recent “Unleash Your Inner Artist” presentation where I showcased a few thought-starters on how everyone can become more creative. I will state again that this whole presentation was based on ideas found in Roger von Oech’s book, “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants”. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and Mr. Von Oech deserves the credit.

Here’s a technique that doesn’t necessarily work very well when you’re about to start a project. Procrastination is never a good trait to have. When a major project awaits you, you have to dive in. But when you’re knee-deep in the midst of trying to come up with the big idea and you find yourself stuck, unable to come up with anything you consider even remotely creative, take a break.

Go for a walk. Get away from your computer. Take a nap. Better yet, sleep on it overnight.

You need to let your creative juices simmer a bit. Let your synapses do a little random firing of their own rather than try and force your thinking.

The time away from trying to force yourself into coming up with a solution will do you well. When you return to your project, you just might find yourself rejuvenated and fired up to go into attack mode again.

Sometimes, big ideas are lurking right around the corner. But you end up finding them by taking a completely different route to get there.

So when you really find yourself stuck, try doing nothing at all and let the seeds of inspiration grow.

Well, that’s it. That’s the ninth and final post from this series. As you can see, I did a little procrastinating of my own in pushing these out over about a two month time period.

The question is, what comes next?

I think I’ll do sleep on it.

Extreme housing

The front page of today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch had two extremely interesting stories. (I guess that in itself is news.)

One showcased the new proposal submitted by the St. Louis Rams for the renovation of the Edward Jones Dome. The other covered a new controversy brewing over a proposed tent city that would go up on property leased by Larry Rice off of Vandeventer near Highway 44. Talk about compare and contrast!

As a co-PSL holder for all but the first year of the Rams existence here in St. Louis, I have seen good times and bad times at the Dome. The bad certainly outweighs the good but I always tell myself on game day that I’m getting to see professional football in action – and the Rams are playing, too.

I definitely want the Rams to remain here in St. Louis and I’m all for progress and building construction of any sort to take place downtown. When was the last time a major new building or structure went up in the downtown area, anyway?

Busch Stadium? That cookie-cutter design still disappoints me. To me, creating a new sports venue should be seen as the chance to make an architectural statement, creating something that is truly unique.

The actual playing field of a baseball stadium should not be messed with – no hills in center fields with flagpoles to potentially run into, no garish multi-colored walls or cascading waterfalls – that’s not necessary. But the outside presentation is the chance to shine and the Cardinals ownership group dropped the ball, going the route of seven other throwback-style stadiums. It’s nice, but certainly uninspiring, particularly when your stadium is number eight in line.

So what about the new plans for the Dome? Personally, I like just about everything I read about with one exception.

Do we really need a retractable roof?

Two NFL preseason and eight regular season games take place each year. They also mention the possibility of a college game being played there, maybe even a Super Bowl. Professional soccer is another possibility but I somehow don’t see 68,000 fans lining up to see nil-nil MLS draws for a franchise that we don’t even have right now. And if memory serves me right, of the 12 possible football dates I mentioned, at least half would be taking place in November, December, January or maybe even February. And I would just as soon sit in the confines of 70 degree, climate controlled comfort rather than sit outside in temperatures that hover at or below the freezing mark. But maybe Mr. Kroenke knows more about global warming than I do and St. Louis really is turning in to the San Diego of the MidWest so on every game day we should pop that baby open and let the sun shine in.

The little $700 million dollar price tag is going to be a tough sell in this market in this economy. Maybe if they subtract the roof and the deluxe flushing toilets I read about, they can get the price tag down around $500 million. Considering the going rate for NFL stadiums these days, that would be a bargain and in the end, the whole area would benefit – but just like the federal debt, we’d probably be passing on the burden of paying for the Rams new roost to our children. And I know it doesn’t sit well with many people when you have a multi-billionaire at the helm who’s asking others to pay the freight so he can earn even more money.

Perhaps Stan could do us all a favor and chip in $200 or $300 million to cover part of the price tag. We’ll gladly call it the Kroenke Dome if he’d like. Then again, he’d lose money via the naming rights so forget about that.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, we have the well-meaning Larry Rice proposing to build a new tent city (no retractable roof to my knowledge). Though I applaud his actions and I understand his intent, I just don’t think a tent city is the answer to anyone’s problems, even the homeless. As we recently learned, tents are not storm shelters. When nasty weather hits them, bad things happen. There’s also the issue of sanitation – with no running water, no toilet facilities (with no fancy flushing), no utilities and no real ordnances to cover how many people can live there, it just doesn’t seem very well thought out and doomed to failure.

So St. Louis has two proposed new structures that both seemed destined to fail – one because it costs too much, the other because it probably doesn’t cost enough. In either case, I just don’t see St. Louisans ready to pitch in and help.

Will we be able to find a middle ground on either one?


What do you think?

That’s what mothers do

Mother’s Day has come and gone. The home-made and store-bought cards may still be on the mantle and the flowers may still have their bloom. But already, the day is now past tense and everyone has moved on.

All the sentiments expressed have been noted but now it’s back to reality, back to where kids take their mothers for granted. And husbands forget to give their wives that extra hug or take the time to find out how their day was.

It’s a shame there’s only one day a year set aside for such sentimentality. It’s also a shame how quickly we fall back into our routines.

Monday morning hits and moms everywhere go right back to doing what they do. They pack lunches in the morning. Remember who’s going where and when and often provide the shuttle service to get there. So many, (Chris included), have full-time careers that are every bit as demanding as what their hubbies do all day yet then they come home, they cook dinner, help with homework and maybe towards the end of the day, get a brief respite to sit back for all of 15 minutes or so before it’s time for bed as they prepare to get up again and repeat the cycle. That’s what mothers do.

They give their love selflessly. They’re always proud and supportive of their children. They give of their time and ask for little in return.

And it’s so easy to take your mother for granted – until the day comes when she’s not around anymore.

I think of my mom quite often. She died several years ago and I often try and call back specific memories I have of her. I’m thinking of her right now and I took a moment to thank her for all she did for me.

I can guarantee if your mom is still around, she’d be happy to get a call from you not just on Mother’s Day, but every day, just to say hi and to tell her you love her.

My kids don’t read this blog but I’ll be telling them personally to try and do a little more to make every day, Mother’s Day.

Most likely, they won’t. They’ll keep on doing what they do and taking the unconditional love they get from their mom for granted.

And I guess that’s just the way it is. Chris knows her children love her deeply, even with all the day-to-day whining and reminding and expecting everything for nothing that so many kids seem to expect. It won’t stop her from loving and doing and giving all she has everyday. After all, that’s what mothers do.

How to become more creative #8 Fool Around

This is the eighth of nine posts from my now not-so-recent “Unleash Your Inner Artist” presentation where I showcased a few thought-starters on how everyone can become more creative. I will state again that this whole presentation was based on ideas found in Roger von Oech’s book, “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants”. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and Mr. Von Oech deserves the credit.

Nothing is more frustrating than when you’re stuck for an idea. The harder you try, the less the ideas seem to roll in.

Stand back. Look at your problem. Turn it into a joke. As an artist, stop using clay and instead, switch to Silly Putty.

If you can find humor in your situation, you just might also find the gem of an idea. Stop taking things so darned serious and have some fun.

One way to do this is to try and use puns in your idea generation. Punbelievable, right? Yeah, right, that’s not punny. No, it’s snot.

Get yourself into a fun, word-playing, mind-spinning frame-of-mind and who knows what you’ll come up with. Because a big part of it all is indeed your frame of mind.

If you’re ready to play, you’re also ready to create. There is truly a close relationship between ha-ha and a-ha!

Humor and word play can lead you to the big idea so get a little jiggy with it.

So right before you set to work, try watching any movie with Leslie Nielsen in it like Airplane or The Naked Gun. Read a joke book or google a page of puns.

And instead of wrapping this blog post up with some magical little play on words, I’ll instead give you a few questions to ponder …

How come wrong numbers are never busy?
Does that screwdriver really belong to Phillip?
Does killing time damage eternity?
Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
Why is it called lipstick if you can still move your lips?
Why is the third hand on a clock called a second hand?
Why is it that when you’re driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Day light savings time – why are they saving it and where do they keep it?
Do pilots take crash-courses?
Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as “4’s”?
Do stars clean themselves with meteor showers?
Have you ever seen a toad on a toadstool?
How do you get off a non-stop flight?
How many weeks are there in a light year?
If a jogger runs at the speed of sound, can he still hear his walkman?
If athletes get athlete’s foot, do astronauts get mistletoe?
If Barbie’s so popular, why do you have to buy all her friends?
If blind people wear dark glasses, why don’t deaf people wear earmuffs?
If cats and dogs didn’t have fur would we still pet them?
If swimming is good for your shape, then why do the whales look the way they do?
Why do the signs that say “Slow Children” have a picture of a running child?
Why do they call it ‘chili’ if it’s hot?
Why do we sing “Take me out to the ball game,” when we are already there?


19 years and look what we’ve done

Tuesday, May 8th makes it 19 years of marriage for Tom and Chris Blood and I am thankful and grateful for every single day.

My wife is a superstar. She is a loving, caring, charismatic, outgoing, involved, fun-loving, hard-working, beautiful woman, both inside and out. She should be rewarded tenfold for all she does.

I still remember proposing to her on the 17th hole of the Lodge of Four Seasons down at the Lake of the Ozarks.

I had intended to pop the question on the golf course since we’re both ardent golfers but I was running out of time. We had been paired with this twosome who were certainly nice but not anticipated in my original game plan. I was looking for the right opportunity to get down on one knee and ask Chris to marry me but the time never seemed quite right. We got to the 17th hole and we both hit strong drives, far ahead of the other two. It was time to go big or go home. We drove up to her ball and she got out to size up her shot.

“Hey, I was wondering …”

“Yes, what? …” Chris asked as she looked at me.

Suddenly I was on bended knee. “Would you maybe want to … do you want to get married?”

“What? Here?” Chris was dumbfounded. Then she looked at the ring in my hand and realized I was asking for real.

“In a heartbeat,” she said as I asked her to remove her golf glove to put on the ring … which barely fit due to the heat and humidity and I guess her fingers swelled a bit during the round.

Whatever. It fit, kind of. She double bogeyed that hole, somewhat flustered as she had never been asked for her hand in marriage on a golf course before.

I failed to capitalize though, and ended up losing the round to her.

On our honeymoon, we played golf three times and all three times she thoroughly whooped me and thus began our marriage.

Tom came first, a honeymoon baby in all probability. Then Michael. Then Miss Catherine. Three tremendously talented children, all individuals in every sense of the word and each, quite different than the other. They amaze me every day.

We’ve had our shares of ups and downs, most more centered around me having downs – hip replacements, golf balls in the forehead, baseballs breaking my nose, job losses and now the struggles of launching and growing my own business. But we’ve also had a great deal of ups that easily knock the daylights out of any of the downs we’ve had.

You never know what you’re in for when you get married. For richer or poorer, for better or worse.

I love the life that I have and I am blessed to have Christine Elise Meyer Blood as my wife, my soul-mate and the mother of our three awesome children.

Every day is a blessing. And every day that Chris is in my life, I know I am blessed indeed.

Happy 19th Anniversary to the woman I love – my wife, my best friend, my soul mate – Miss Chris.