I am a fan of folks who work together for a good cause. That is what a group of 12 ladies just did to help raise awareness of epilepsy; a worthy cause indeed.

These ladies, all connected via Twitter and certainly in real life, got together and put together a calendar with @ArveyColumbus as one of the sponsors. As an aside, It looks like ArveyColumbus carries Xpedx products and my neighbor and really good friend Rene just happens to work for Xpedx! Small world….anyhow I digress.

Go check out the site here and order a 2011 calendar.

Way to go ladies! Here is to a successful campaign and fundraising effort.


A Bittersweet Birthday

Today is my nephew’s birthday. A birthday, in general, is a day to celebrate the gift of life with family and friends. It is a good day to reflect back on the previous year(s) and remind ourselves that life moves at wharp speed.

Life Moves Fast

My nephew, Noah, turns 10 today, and while we all celebrate the fact that Noah is in our life, we are also reminded of the fact that today is also the day that his mother, our beloved sister, lost her life today as well; giving birth to Noah.

Kim lost her life due to an Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE). This is a very rare complication and the mortality rate is high, but getting better every year. The issue with an AFE is that the medical community has yet to find out a direct cause, and causation is the first step to finding a treatment and all but eradicating the mortality rate. Since this is one of the top 5 mortalities in childbirth, the attention to researching this issue is on the medical communities radar.

In todays age of modern technology and medical advancements, we tend to forget the miracle that childbirth really is. Women head in to the delivery room, go through labor (please do not take this as it is easy and not painful), and bring another life into this world…easy as 1, 2, 3 medically speaking right? Well, no not really. There are a myriad of “complications” that can take place. Usually things go as planned and when issues to rear their ugly head, the hospital staff is well equipped to deal with it to keep mom and baby safe. For this we should all be grateful.

I ask that you consider looking in to what you can do to contribute to helping us fight the AFE “battle”. The Northshore University System here in Chicago is asking for help in dealing with AFE research.

The Need For More ResearchAmniotic Fluid Embolism kills or injures several hundred mother-baby pairs in the United States every year. Research is needed to understand the cause of the disease so that it can be prevented or more effectively treated. Yet the importance of AFE extends far beyond its devastated victims. At the present, there are no broadly accepted theories or mechanisms explaining how women can tolerate the presence of their fetus—50% of which comes from an unrelated father.

To make a tax deductable donation simple click on the link below and under gift designation, check off, “research institute.” Under gift comments, simply indicate “AFE research.”

Here is the direct link: https://www.northshore.org/apps/auxfound/MakeDonation.aspx?lid=2246

And, more importantly, always remember that a birthday is more than just a time to get together. It is about celebrating all the joy your loved ones have brought into your life. Be thankful that you are rich, for rich doesn’t come from money, rather it comes from health. And celebrating a birthday means that the “riches” of your family and friends have lasted another year!

So, Happy Birthday Noah. We love you very much. And Kim, we miss you and think of you often. Thank you for the gift you have given us in Noah.

This post is to help all guys as they progress through their significant other’s pregnancy….and trust me, it is THEIR pregnancy. Your role in this miracle of life is to be there for support and do whatever it is you are told, period.

When you are married you will have a to-do list and never complete it; won’t even come close. But it is all good though. The point is not to finish, rather, it is to show progress and the list itself. I have been married for almost 11 marvelous years; short I know, but I have learned that lists are key. Let me say that again, lists are key.

Don’t believe me? Ask your significant other and she will rattle off a myriad of items that need to be done.

My wife and I are expecting our 3rd, a little girl, any day now. Once you go through a pregnancy together you learn a few things. The following are excerpts from the lists I kept handy at all times. I broke them down per trimester for ease of use. So guys, pay attention so you can provide the right support for your wife during the 9 months of pregnancy.

The Beginning

First Trimester List:

  • Fluff the pillows
  • Watch the Road
  • Redecorate – Now would be a good time ti learn a bit about Interior Design
  • Redecorate Again
  • Do what I say
  • Admire my ass
  • Walk the cat
  • Turn off the alarm
  • Drop your attitude – You may not think you have one, but you do, so drop it
  • Appease me
  • Deal with it
  • Fix it – This will come up often and is a catch-all. You can never be too prepared so have your household tools at the ready
  • Trust me
  • Do it faster – You will never do it fast enough. Just keep trying
  • Cut your toenails – Maybe this just applies to me?
  • Let me sleep in-  you will hear this at varous times throughout the day
  • Get off the computer – If you work at home, you will receive IM’s about this
  • Kill that spider
  • Adopt a French accent – I would try Rosetta stone and find French people on Skype and practice with them
  • Make more money – Refer to redecorating and this will make perfect sense (my expereince – Prior to our second child, Kate, we installed hardwood floors top to bottom and re-painted the entire house…seriously we did)
  • Get rid of your junk – Yes it is junk
  • Humor me
  • Get me a drink
  • Let me finish
  • Hold this – it could be a wrapper of piece of chewed gum
  • Do what I say
  • Shut your mouth
  • Rub harder

The Middle

Second Trimester List

  • Stop sulking
  • Love me forever
  • Go to the store – You better hope it is open 24 hours
  • Pretend you’re listening
  • Admire my ass
  • Blow your nose
  • Flirt with me
  • Watch the road
  • Turn left at the light – What light?
  • Keep your voice down
  • Don’t Smoke
  • Cheer up
  • Hold me
  • Change faster
  • Grow a spine
  • Answer the phone
  • Call me back
  • Look it up
  • Answer me
  • Be a team player
  • Embrace difference
  • Pluck
  • Stop counting my carbs
  • Count your carbs
  • Take a pill
  • Grow it out
  • Turn off the light
  • Force the issue
  • Appease me
  • Call your mother
  • Change your ring tone – Guess vibrate is annoying
  • Feign jealousy
  • Tell me the truth

The End

Third Trimester List:

  • Tell me I am smart
  • Never say never
  • Convert
  • Eschew Martyrdom
  • Bend over
  • Cover your eyes
  • Project confidence
  • Prioritize
  • Learn CPR
  • Sleep on the couch – The king size bed sometimes isn’t enough room for two people
  • Consider me your muse
  • Predict the future
  • Be there for me
  • Speak up
  • Shut your mouth
  • Judge not
  • Act on impulse
  • Prepare a thorough plan
  • Stop the rain
  • Plot the escape route
  • Increase my joy
  • Transcend
  • Get a new personality
  • Carry me piggyback
  • Stop swearing
  • Learn to fly
  • Sprinkle it with sunshine
  • Be aggressive
  • Be passive
  • Be passive-aggressive
  • Renounce desire
  • Get your hands off me
  • Come home – This happens frequently after being told to go to the store and while you are still in the driveway
  • Caveat emptor – Take the definition literally
  • Finish me off
  • Walk on water

There is no doubt that you will be a busy husband during the pregnancy…remember I said excerpt of the lists.

All kidding aside; children are a blessing, help you maintain perspective, teach you what’s important in life, make you laugh (and cry!), and keep you super busy. What my wife has gone through to bring our kids into this world is nothing short of amazing. Hopefully she will get a little chuckle when she reads and reflects back on 27 months of pure craziness!

So what is on your list? Did you keep a list? Let me know. Thanks for reading.

I have been fully utilizing Twitter for about 1 1/2 years. When I first began my #twitter experience, I really didn’t understand what to do; much less formulate a strategy on how best to start interacting and using this marvelous communications tool.

I had many, many questions regarding how to find people to interact with, do I set up a personal and a business account, do people really care about the information I am tweeting, and more.

Rather than supply a guide to getting up and running, just visit here. Why mess with a good thing that @mashable and crew developed? One piece of advice I will give is to separate your personal and business twitter accounts. A clean separation is best. Another thing, don’t start spamming and hard selling; twitter is about building relationships, both personal and professional.

I digress from my purpose….

There is a wonderful “tool” within twitter called hashtags. Hashtags were created by the twitter community to allow for streamlined search capabilities and easier data aggregation. All they are are words that have a # sign before them. For example, #agriculture #agchat #precisionfarming, #yarnweaving etc..

Naturally there is a business use for data aggregation; however, I want to focus on what you, the user can use hashtags for to enhance your experience.

Find people with similar interests:

Wondering about who you can follow and engage with? Search on a hashtag. As you may already know, I am extremely passionate about agriculture (see my All Things Agriculture blog) so I routinely search the hashtag #agriculture to find new people to interact and share knowledge with. As an aside, one of my favorite uses of twitter is the knowledge share that takes place. There are so many intelligent people on twitter that are generously sharing their insights. I am very appreciative of this aspect of twitter and try to give back to the community if I am able. Here is a snaphot of an #agriculture hashtag search: 

#Agriculture Hashtag Search

Now you can scroll through the various tweets, find the ones that interest you, and start following people with a similar interest. Keep in mind that there is a difference between similar interest and similar opinion. Please don’t let that stop you from interacting; engaging with others who have a passion for a topic and hold a different view point can actually be an ideal situation. As long as there is mutual respect, you both may learn something. I make it a point to find other passionate folks in my industry, follow them, and interact.


If you have spent any time trying to “keep up” with all of your friends tweets, you have probably experienced how difficult this is. For me, it is impossible! Just think about it: Twitter is a global community; your friends my be located in another country (ie Japan). While you are finishing your day (5PM CST), the Japanese are just starting theirs (8AM). Luckily I found a great tool on Facebook to help me keep track of information that I want to be sure and browse for interesting content that I can RT! Naturally you need to Facebook account. If you do not have one, navigate here. Once you have an account, navigate to the Applications page and search for Social Transcripts. Once you have authorized this app, you will be able to setup your twitter feeds based on the appropriate hashtags.

Here is a snapshot of the feeds I currently have in place:

My Twitter Hashtag Feeds

Following Special Events:

As we all know, the 2010 Olympics recently concluded. I was not able to follow every event that transpired, so I depended on the hashtags being used for the Olympics to keep up to date on the “going’s on”. It is really nice to be able to search on a hashtag and have the latest and greatest displayed, especially with commentary from some of my favorite people I follow; they just add that extra umphh to the information! Another great example is conferences and trade shows. Naturally we cannot attend every trade show and conference that is relevant to our work; however, live tweeting with hastags allows you to experience, albeit vicariously through someone else, the high points and presentations. As an example, I could not attend the Commodity Classic this year so I added a column to my Seesmic Desktop Client titled #Classic10. I could then just browse through that column, read through some of the highlights, and decide what interviews I wanted to listen to. Nice! So, whatever your interest, I am sure there are shows, meetings, or conferences. If you can’t attend, do it vicariously through the twitter hashtag.

Live Streaming Chats:

I so love live chats on Twitter. Of course my favorite is #agchat being that I have a slight ag bent. The live chats allows multiple individuals to interact using a hashtag. Even if you are not following someone, you can interact with them using a hashtag. Other services also make use of the hashtag; my favorite is Twubs.

Follow “Issues of the Day”:

As is evident, I am involved in the field of agriculture. Since agriculture is compromised with so many complicated methodologies, passionate individuals, and pressing scientific questions, it is impossible to keep track of the information I need to formulate my opinions and provide a balanced view of my industry. Rather than perform a Google search and only look at trade publications, I use the Twitter hashtag to see what people are reading, listen to their view points, and see what people are saying on their blogs. A great example of this is the #GMO hashtag. This is a very heated issue, globally, so the #GMO hashtag allows me to review the excellent information that is available.

So what do you use Hashtags for? Following the latest trends on twitter or maybe something else. I would love to hear some of your uses. Thanks for reading.

What I am Thankful For

I meant to write this post earlier in the week; however, the flu took the wind from my sails, especially when you consider it hit the entire family back to back. The flu season was not kind to the Taylor tribe. H1N1 and the “regular” flu. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that the “regular” flu was much worst.

Although there isn’t much time until Christmas; some have already celebrated with extended families, I still would like to share what I am thankful for. And at the end of the day, this applies not just on Christmas.


I am most thankful for my family, without which I would not be who I am and where I am today. My wife deserves the utmost in respect and love. After all, she can actually live with me and be happy while doing it….no small feat indeed! She makes me a better person and is certainly my better half. My wife has blessed us with 2 wonderful children and soon to be a third. Words cannot express how I feel about my children. I am in eternal amazement. What a blessing. I am also blessed with a wonderful mom and younger sister, both of whom stood by me when times were hard, really hard, so I could complete my education. Marrying Sue also came with a very large extended family, and they are all wonderful. Yes, the in-laws are great….told you I was blessed. Family is what keeps me going.


I am thankful to say that I truly love my job. I get up in the morning looking forward to what comes my way. It is #agriculture afterall. I get to deal with mathematics, science, logistics, animals, SCM, CRM, manufacturing, sales, development, marketing, business analysis, project management, and above all else, #farmers. Agriculture brings me a great deal of joy and satisfaction. What I am doing will hopefully have a positive impact on future generations (my children and beyond). What more could you ask for in a carreer?


At this current moment our entire family is healthy, excluding a short bout with the flu. Given the size of our family, this is a major positive. I am thankful that we are all healthy as this is a major component in an active lifestyle.


Yes, I just put that as a heading. And yes I am ever so thankful for Twitter…here is why in two words: Relationships & Knowledge. For me twitter is much much more than a marketing, business, or “just having fun” tool. Not that it isn’t any of these and I certainly do not want to detract from any of them. To each his own. I actually have a business account (@zedxinc) to gain visibility and manage the brand of my company ZedX. What I mean is the lasting relationships I have made thanks to Twitter. Just let the “lasting” part sink in. This is both from a personal and professional standpoint. How awesome is it to find people like that?

Knowledge you say? Why yes, knowledge. There hasn’t been a day go by that I have not learned something from the wonderful people I follow. Not only are they funny and witty, but the content they share, to take an expression from a twitter friend of mine @lakelady, “fertilizes my stream”.


I must keep this short and to the point as there are still remnants of the flu around. Let us all reflect back on what is and what should be important in our lives. There is sometimes a disconnect there, and I stand guilty of this as well. I can assure you that once you live your life by what is truly important, all the wonderful verbs like happiness, contentedness, satisfaction, love, and passion will be words you utilize every day to describe what you are up to….without even thinking about it!

To all my twitter friends, thank you so much for what you have graciously shared over this past year. I look forward to a fruitful 2010 with you all. One last bit of thanks to my lovely wife. The past 11 years of marriage have flown by much to quickly. I aspire to have a soul like hers. If you knew her, you may feel the same. So, thanks for the past 11 years honey. You are the best!

I leave you with this quote as we move into the year 2010 AD. (Anyone who follows me on twitter knows just how much I love quotes!!! :-))

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie

Well said Melody, well said indeed. It is also exactly what I feel when I reflect back on 2009 – #Gratitude

Veteran’s Day 2009

It is November 11th, 2009. As we go about our day today, let’s all take a minute and reflect back on what our military men and women have done for our country.


I had a recent conversation with a friend of mine on Twitter. We were actually talking about the current Health Care legislation on the floor of Congress. He made the statement that we have all heard many times before, “freedom isn’t free”. How very true that is.

Costs of War:

Freedom and the ability to choose your own destiny costs, sometimes dearly. Our ancestors new this and believed in it to their very core. As a result, we won The Revolutionary War and defeated one of the worlds greatest empires. Ever since, this country has enjoyed an extremely dedicated Armed Forces. The men and women who served, and still serve, make sacrifices day-in and day-out to ensure our safety and freedom. All told, as of August 2007, approximately 1 million military members have paid the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, with some 1.5 million more wounded. It would do us all good to remember these sobering numbers. And the sacrifice goes further when we look at the families of these heroes. While their loved ones were/are serving on the front lines protecting our country, their mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, and all other family members were/are at home with constant worry. Life does not stop at home when duty calls our soldiers; it keeps moving. So while we are thinking about what Veterans Day means to us, let’s all remember what it means to the families who sacrifice every day. Costs indeed.

Brief Overview of Veterans Day

Veterans Day was originally started at the end of World War I, “The Great War”. It was first called Armistice Day to signal the end of “the war to end all wars.” President Wilson proclaimed the first ever Armistice Day on November 11th, 1919 with the following statement:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

In 1938, Armistice Day became a federal holiday under Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a). The name was later changed to Veterans Day as a result of the World War II troop mobilizations and at the request of veterans organizations in 1954 so we could honor all veterans of all wars.

Eisenhower signs Vets Day resolution

We honor the service and sacrifice our military members and their families make by remembering what it took to get us here. We take part in parades and celebrations today, spend time listening to the various ceremonies, make an extra special effort to reach out to our friends in the military and offer our thanks, and volunteer at local festivities. All of these activities are wonderful; however, I urge you to consider doing a little more. There are many ways to help: check out The USO, DOD website, or search local organizations sending care packages to troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our Troops

I attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy. As such, I have friends of mine who are still deployed overseas. They proudly serve our country and do so despite the political maneuvering back here at home. What they do for us transcends politics, and thankfully so. I am so grateful for our military members and families. On this day especially, I truly hope our politicians can see past their differences to formulate an effective strategy to accomplish our goals and bring our soldiers, my friends, back home. Thanks to all veterans of all branches of service. Your dedication and service make us a better country.