Harris to Eliminate Middle-School

Her new plan will put sixth graders in with elementary and 7th & 8th graders in with high school.

Checking the comments section at dispatch.com makes me realize I'm not alone in thinking this is a bad idea. I am not as far removed from high school and middle school as Harris is and thinking back to those days of middle school mayhem, no way would I have wanted to be housed in the same building as high school kids.

Seventh and eighth graders are not emotionally or even physically ready for high school. Harris states that it will save money. Well letting eighth graders teach first grade would save money - payment in nachos and video games - but it doesn't make much sense either.

I'm just wondering - is it strange that Columbus can come up with money to build new arenas and transform the former Big Bear warehouse, oh and let's not forget the millions it took to fix the archway in Short North, but comes up with a bootleg solution to funding for schools? Let's stop using the album cover to sweep up the dirt, there are better solutions.

Harris says it will also stop kids from dropping out during the transition from junior high to high school and will help parents get involved in their kids' schools because they'll be able to form a relationship.

Kids who are going to drop out in transition need more support than just sticking them in the same school with adults in training. And parents who are going to be involved are involved from day one. They don't decide in the 3rd year of a six year tenure at high school to suddenly show up for a parent-teacher conference. Here's how adults form relationships with those involved with their kids: "Hi, I'm lil' Mary's mom. Anyway I can help in the classroom? How's she doing in Algebra?" There are more serious, in depth solutions to the problems of school drop-outs and uninvolved parents.

Blanket solutions don't work, especially this one.


Missing writer...

Wait, I've been found. Whoops! Lost myself there. Ever lose yourself in whatever it is you're doing?

You may have seen me, jamming to whatever Jefferson Airplane or other evergreen Top 40 hit playing on the store's intercom. I'm the woman in the next aisle that has forgotten I'm not at home. Sure I'm looking for peanut butter. I'm also shakin' my booty until I almost mow you down with said booty after I get carried away shakin' my groove thing around the corner.

Instantly I'm embarrassed, you're amused and I slink away to another aisle quietly until "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" comes on...

'Fess up - where do you lose yourself?


Let it Snow Columbus!

It's here! It's here! The white stuff, the winter wonderland, the heavy accumalation that makes people break their backs, kids go nuts and drivers in Columbus absolutely lose their minds.

What is it about bad weather and drivers here? I swear, as soon as it looks like things may get a little hairy, folks run about like the sky's falling running into each other.

As a Columbus transplant I'm still confused. I've been here over 10 years now and I witness it every year. As soon as snow hits the ground folks hit the gas pedal!

And we're not going to even talk about those folks who roll SUV's and pickup trucks that we always see on the side of the road after they float past doing 80. Come on folks, be nice and take care of each other out there.

I'm going out to make snow angels!


Back to the National Championships! Why all the hatin'?

I love Ohio State I really do. But, I like to believe I'm pretty darn objective about our teams and our chances. I know that if Channel 10 ever interviews me before a tough game, I'm going to be the spoilsport that says "Well, it's going to be a tough one, LSU is a great team, the game is going to be fought and won upfront." Boooo. What they want me to say in a loud, slightly blitzed voice is "Whoo hooo! OSU 50, God 12!!! Go Bucks!"

As we head back to the national championships I have to wonder why there is so much hating on OSU. We only lost one game. We're a great team. The way the bowl game circuit is set up, we deserve to go back. Yet the folks drinking the haterade still wonder aloud why we're there.

Mark May has had a burr in his side for us since forever, not sure if he's pissed we didn't recruit him or what. But May aside, many analysts think we just coasted while they jump up and down to defend 2 loss LSU.

"They lost in overtimes," they cry. But they still lost. Twice. Late in the season. When we were undefeated folks passed over us saying "Oh, their schedule is weak." Michigan lost to Appalachian State. That's weak.

What happened to all the Buckeye love? Do folks tire so quickly? Now if we lose to LSU, they'll say we weren't supposed to be there. If we win, Mark "Punk Butt" May will find a way to steal a little of our thunder. A bit. Because at this point no one but other haters even pay him any attention.

Did anyone watch the Bowl selection last night? What was up with Mark May eating jerky while everyone else was listening to Tressel? Then he dismissed Herbstreet's analysis and pointing out of May's bias as just Buckeye blather... Somebody needs to hit Mark May with a buckeye. Hard. On the kneecap.

That's alright, we buckeyes thrive as the underdog.

By the way, what was up with Lee Corso not remembering anyone's name last night?


Yikes it's cold!

Button up folks, winter's here! It may not be official but it's a chilly 39 degrees out there right now. Those who didn't put up their Christmas decorations yet may be cursing their delay.

I'm getting ready to wrap myself up and head out there so my 3 year old will quit harassing me. Eventually I'll learn not to show my hand or talk about fun stuff until I'm ready to do it. My daughter will make a good detective or agent someday. She can find any candy hidden in the house, she has razor sharp hearing for things she's too young to hear and she can badger international secrets out of anyone.

She keeps me on task though! Anyone else put up their lights yet?


Brutus on Parade

If you haven't heard, Ohio State is putting Brutus on Parade. Like Chicago's Cows and Cincinnati's Pigs, Brutus will be up for interpretation and placed throughout Columbus. There will be 250 Brutuses or Bruti(?) and already there is a Wood Hayes Brutus, a Christopher Columbus Brutus and an Elvis Brutus.

I'm submitting my designs this week for two of the statues. I'm not telling what they are but I'll keep you all posted on any news!

Check out photos of the four finished statues here.


In Sickness and in Health...

The whole house is sick. Call it the Revenge of Preschool. My daughter goes to preschool, comes home teeming with cooties, she probably left a few herself, gets sick and then begins to pass them around to her sister and then finally chopping her father and me down.

This round has been particularly nasty as she has missed 3 days of germ exchange, I mean school. Now her little sister has become a wiggly, but cute, mucus machine. Yeah I know, not so pretty a picture.

I've been battling their symptoms the old fashioned way since you can no longer give kids cold meds. We've been corn syruping it up over here and our 3 year-old is loving it. It really does stop the cough and then she gets the sugar rush that I'm too sick and run down to defend against.

Here's the thing: sometimes being a grown-up sucks. I mean really, it's not the bills or jobs or responsibility. It's when you get sick you hate it the most.

The same cold that leaves the kids with loads of snot, but doesn't affect their energy level or their demeanor can knock grown-ups out like Captain Trips *see your Stephen King reference guide...

The other thing - if both you and your significant other are sick there's no one there to take care of you. Now that REALLY sucks. We discovered this inconvenient fact shortly after we were married.

David and I had one of those horrible, can't move, constant shivering, "I've got to be decomposing as we speak," viruses. As we laid in bed under as many covers and clothing our weak bodies could heap on, I thought about how thirsty I was. Dave couldn't get me water, I couldn't get me water, who was going to take care of us?

My family lives in another city, Dave's mom would have bugged the poo out of us or maybe the virus and our friends were all single and really not too good at taking care of themselves, let alone us. All I remember thinking is: I want my Mommy.

Ah well, I shall do what grown-ups do: complain a little more, though I'm so congested I can't hear myself, force down soup - yuck, and wait for Thanksgiving where I can drive home so somebody can look after all of us.


Connie Schultz, Ohio State versus Michigan...

OSU vs. michigan
I'm sitting here on the eve of the greatest rivalry game in college football. OK drinking game - every time you hear or read that take a drink. I don't drink so I'll take a shot of good old H2O. Hang on water intoxication...

I'm strangely absent from all the fanfare this week. I've been keeping my eye out, but not reading or hearing too much about it. I know, what cave must I be in? The cave in which I have two sick little ones and a pile of work to complete.

Though I've been out of the build up for much of the week - I have been doing my part. I've been harrassing the Michigan lovin' moms in my moms group. I've been flying my flag high and I plan on going completely scarlet and gray tomorrow despite the twinge in my throat and the threat of a fever...Uh oh...

If we win I shall be estatic as usual and pass out for some rest. If we lose I'll be heartbroken and pass out for some rest - and avoid the phone...And those moms I harassed...And one of my editors...Boy we buckeyes have big mouths!

Connie Schultz
I had the immense pleasure of seeing Connie speak Wednesday night on OSU's campus. Though I was about ten minutes late, I enjoyed all that I heard. I walked away thinking, THAT'S what I wanna be when I grow up. A strong white woman married to Sherrod Brown - just kidding. A strong woman will work. A fantastic journalist/writer will do it too. Maybe it's age or maybe it's the realization that you earn wisdom when facing the wind. I read or saw that somewhere recently...

The main thing I got was about getting involved in the political process. If I want health care for all children, better schools and a bigger emphasis on social issues at home, I've gotta get out there. Make a difference. I remember my revolution days that slowly gave way to work to eat and do a little revolution on the side, to aww let someone else bring it... But I have been re-inspired. The revolution will be televised....



So it's Tuesday of beat michigan week (notice the lowercase m) and what are you planning to do today? If you are of like mind and love the Buckeyes, you'll want to do all you can to encourage our team to take the Big 10 title and the bid to the Rose Bowl.

Today's top five things you can do to show your spirit (for the ravenous buckeye).
  1. Paint your children's faces each day in scarlet and gray.
  2. Wear all of your Buckeye gear ALL WEEK.
  3. Annoy the person in the next cubicle by humming the fight song - ALL WEEK.
  4. Stand outside the stadium with a "Free Hugs for Buckeye Fans" sign.
  5. Give blood at the Beat Michigan Blood Drive.
Top five things you can do if you still have some sanity and regular business to conduct during the day.
  1. Wear one piece of Buckeye gear each day.
  2. Fly your Ohio State flag.
  3. Keep a single buckeye in your pocket or purse for a quick smile or tool of destruction (you know they're poisonous).
  4. Order an Appalachian State T on express shipping for Saturday.
  5. Give blood at the Beat Michigan Blood Drive.
Here's a list of fun things going on at the University today and tomorrow!

Buckeye Bonanza Sale and Raffle

-purchase a variety of OSU crafts handmade by students from Barrington Elementary School
Shannon Peterson

The Greatest Rivalry in Sports...in Concert!

Join the Columbus Symphony and OUAB for the best pep rally in town! Featuring the OSU Marching Band, Men's Glee Club, varsity cheerleaders playing fight songs and recaping all the times Michigan has fallen.
Matt Suguitan

Format Change!

OK. I admit it. I'm not on the in's and out's of the Columbus party scene. I don't hit the Short North often enough to know who the cool kids are and I don't rub elbows, often, with the elite of the Columbus political world.

What I do know about is being a parent in Columbus. Being a worker in Columbus. Being a Buckeye Fan and Ohio State Alumni in Columbus. So that's what I'm writing about. I resisted becoming a parent blogger because let's face it - there are a billion parents out there and everyone thinks their kids are hilarious, that they have unique insight and that everybody's interested in their every post about poop and carpooling.

My reality is that I work from home, have two kids and spend alot of time with other parents, buckeyes and alumni so shoot me. I just do not have the time, nor the true inclination to research the latest tapas bar to open. I rather write about the cool things that I come across in Columbus naturally.

I'm going to post as usual Monday, Wednesday and Friday - today's a bonus, count yourself as lucky :0) And let's see if we can't get a community going. I swear we won't go nuts, often, about the Bucks, I will keep the poop posts to a minimum and if I happen to rub an elbow or two - you'll know about it! So how was your Monday?


Did you vote? Elections in Columbus come to a close.

Another election has come and gone. Mayor Coleman keeps his job along with several other Dems on city council. You do realize Coleman ran against someone right? Well to be fair, Todd did get 31% of the vote... It's not like he thought he'd win anyway.

Though Todd does have a base on which to stand and advocate for his pet issue - schools. Maybe he can live down that AWFUL crime/rape radio commercial. Where the hell did that come from anyway?

Another issue on the ballot that got approved was the Levy for seniors. This levy ensured that programs like Meals on Wheels continue so more good news.

On the bad news I never got picked or contacted regarding the poll worker position. Pity too, I would have ROCKED the vote. Sorry, I'm really into "Private Practice."

Did you vote? If not, why not?


Apple's Slow Leopard Eats Entourage!

I feel like I'm waking up from my infatuation with Apple. After the Leopard Log In Debacle and the Apple Customer Service Caper I thought it would be pretty smooth sailing on the Apple love train. Sure I had read the issues with the firewall or lack there of and sure enough my firewall was not engaged upon upgrade, but I had decided to love my boyfriend Apple and Steve despite that. It was like an unsightly blemish that would be taken care of with a few patches.

Then as my system slowed to more of a turtle than a Leopard, I thought it was just me. Maybe I had done something wrong. Maybe I just needed to restart. I was leery of restarting when I had so much work to get through, so I suffered through Leopard slowing up every program I had going - Firefox, Entourage and Word. No games, no heavy graphics, just three of the base programs.

Every time I'd move from one program to the next I would get the spinning pinwheel of despair. This went on for two hours when I only had about an hour's worth of work to do. Finally at midnight I used my Entourage to send a project I had just finished. It took forever for the email to send and then I realized I had forgotten the attachment. I resent the email with the attachment and suddenly Entourage shut down!

Then it came back on as if I had just installed it and asked if I wanted to make it my default program - "Sure, maybe it's just a glitch," I thought hopefully. When Entourage asked me if I wanted to import my old contacts I really started to get worried and when it told me I had no old information I FREAKED OUT! Apple's Leopard had eaten my Entourage!

No editor contacts, no long lost friend emails, no saved "this is your registration information" emails, NOTHING. It was over. My boyfriend Apple had given me a line "this is it baby, you need me" just to get me into bed with him and Leopard and now he is acting like an ass and I'm confused and crying in the shower. Yes I dropped a tear or two. You know how it is when you find yourself banging away at search engines and support threads trying things that don't work and you realize you have to find help or drag your ass back to the store. I just never thought it would be the Apple store.

Am I still in love with Apple? Maybe, yeah, yeah I am. It's hard to let go of something that was so good. I just wish we could go back to Tiger when things were pretty sweet and Leopard hadn't come between us. I feel like I'm waking up from the honeymoon and realizing that my boyfriend Apple/Steve is just human, maybe more Clarke Kent than Superman. I'm hoping that Apple is just having some growing pains, rushing things because it feels it needs to live up to a certain bravado. I'm hoping that Apple isn't turning into a big fat jerk like that badboy Microsoft just because it finds itself the most popular kid in school.

So later on today I've got an appointment at the Apple store AGAIN and I hope they can find my lost info. If they can find old emails crooks have sent, surely they can find mine. If not, I think I may have them switch me back to Tiger. I'll consider myself a born-again Leopard virgin and wait until I'm really ready for it. Or should I say until it's really ready for me.

Anybody switchin' out there? Having any trouble?


Apple's Leopard Trick *Update!

OK. So I am back typing from my MacBook Pro. Whoo hooo! I would love to say that I got the Leopard problem taken care of quickly, but I'd be lying.

I spent the morning on the phone with Apple Support. The helpful phone voice said I'd be on hold for 15 minutes or more. Not a good sign. I put the phone on speaker and bounced off to answer the door. Got to talking with a friend came back to a phone making that annoying, someone has hung up on you sound. Nice...

Called the back. My VoIP decides to drop the call or is it Apple? Conspiracy? Nah....

Finally, after a feeding and diaper change - my baby not me - got on the phone with a live person. I told him the Leopard log in issue, added that I know he's heard about it all weekend and he says, "OK. I'm going to have to research that."

Huh? Really? The problem that's been burning up the phone lines, causing the 15 minute or more wait is something that has to be researched? His research took another 10 minutes, I swear. I watched the minutes click down on my phone.

The Apple rep gets back on the phone and has me going through the fix I found online 3 hours previously. Didn't I just blog that I don't think I should have to type in commands into a system that costs as much as MAC's does?

Well that didn't go as planned. I was typing, he'd go "Wait, there was supposed to be a space after that slash." I'd sigh, do as I was told and it still didn't work. He escalated me to an Apple product specialist or was it a Leopard product specialist, I never found out because after waiting another 20 minutes I gave up.

Luckily my brain and my hubby's ancient PC was working long enough for me to make a reservation at the Apple store. I showed up for my appointment with the Geniuses or Geni at the Genius Bar and after two attempts they got me going by doing an archive and install. By this time my daughter's out of school and the baby's awake looking for a snack.

Heavy one hungry ladybug and one miniature Snow White (it's Halloween) I wait for the system to get ta workin.' And finally, about an hour after we got there, we walked out of the Apple Store. I'm happy, so happy to have my buddy back. I am disappointed with the experience though and discouraged that no one followed up on a tune up for my buddy simply because I haven't paid for the Apple Protection Plan. So the money and productivity I've lost doesn't mean to much to Apple I guess.

Steve, why so cold? I thought we had something. I hope Leopard's a whole lot better than Tiger, enough for the trouble, but right now I can't even play with it, I've got deadlines!


Apple's Leopard a Nasty Halloween Trick for Some...

Apple just screwed me. No, it's not my Steve Jobs fantasy again - I just upgraded to Leopard, Apple's new operating system, yet I'm typing this from a PC with Windows 98. I feel so dirty....

Apparently Leopard has a nasty side for some of us MAC users. When you upgrade, Leopard decides you shouldn't have access to your old files. As a matter of fact you can't even log into your MAC. I'm talking about a complete lock out here people. Your MAC give you a log in box with the only option of "Other." I said what the heck, I'll just type in my normal username and password - no good. NO GOOD!

I have deadlines swimming around me like sharks, which is why I'm upstairs on my husbands PC which has given me the "blue screen of death" twice. Normally I'd sit all smug when PC users would bemoan the Windows upgrades and the many, many kinks and bugs. Then Apple does this to me.

Last night I searched the net looking for any info somebody might have. As it trickled in I realized I am not the only one. The Apple discussion boards are alive with Leopard upgraders who are looking at an empty log in box. Some solutions are offered, including one from Apple, that has users restarting in single user mode and typing in commands. I'm sorry the last time I typed a command into a computer involved:
10 Run
20 Left
...or something to that affect. That was in second grade when you made the turtle make shapes. For those of you don't remember - too bad :-)

The upgrade isn't exactly cheap and now I'm being asked to reprogram my own system so that when I screw it up I'm even more screwed. Did I mention I've got deadlines? So I move a couple of posts down in which someone says that Apple has a patch available, which is great for those who have UPGRADED YET! WTF Apple!

Come on Steve, ya killin' me. I'm losing my edge and my sanity. Is this a Halloween Prank? Because I'd rather if you'd TP the house. So instead of wrapping up my DEADLINES and taking the girls out for a little candy huntin' I'll be hanging out at the Genius Bar with a few hundred of my fellow MAC users.

In the freelance world it's important to make sure you've got backups. Mine is an old computer with an obsolete operating system while my top of the line MACBook Pro sits on the sidelines with it's own version of the "blue screen of death."

Updates to follow...


Boo at the Zoo, Ohioana and Elections, Oh my!

This weekend was a busy one! Being the fab parent I am, I hustled my two children and husband off to the Boo at the Zoo. This annual Columbus event is a great one for families and those looking for free candy.

Besides the cool animals and the free candy, there are always "enrichment" programs for the animals. Basically the zoo personnel give the animals pumpkins to smash for entertainment. Both humans and animals - is there a difference - get a kick out of smashing fruit. Remember Gallagher?

The great kids costumes were cool to see and then there's the free candy. I remember last year it was tootsie rolls. Everyone had tootsie rolls, boring! I'm glad to see some vendors stepped it up this year. I mean let's be honest - the kids do the collecting and we parents do the pillaging. Saving the kids from cavities right?

The construction appears to be coming along nicely and I for one can't wait 'til the waterpark reopens. Though one thing I do hate is the loooong walk from inside the zoo to the parking lot. I feel like Clark Griswold going to Wally World.

I got to volunteer at the Ohioana Gala Friday night and rub elbows with well-known Ohio authors and literary types while selling raffle tickets and eating stuffed mushrooms. I'm just putting myself out there and I realized quickly that the literary crowd is one I halfway know already. Old professors and former classmates were all over the place. It was cool to catch up and meet some new friends while serving a good cause. I made over $350 bucks for the organization with my raffle tickets. Not bad for a girl who can't sell Girl Scout Cookies.

Elections are Coming
Last week the Franklin County Board of Elections announced it was short over 100 Democrats and Republicans to work the polls for the upcoming election. Fearing anarchy I answered the call and filled out an application last week to be a judge or presiding judge - whatever, I'm not choosy - get it voting, choosy... I expected a call immediately or at least by the end of the week since they were so desperate.

Today I still had not heard from them so I decided to give them a ring. Turns out they've been working all weekend going through applications. The nice lady on the phone told me to "give them a couple more days." Not a problem, unless of course you realize the elections are next Tuesday. I assume there's some sort of training involved or maybe just a short video of the 2000 election in Florida as an example of what not to do. I'll keep ya posted and in the meantime log on to the Board of Elections Web site to check your polling place, sign up to be a poll worker, etc. Vote people!

What did you do this weekend? Did ya bring me something back?


12 Week Maternity leave proposal...

You just got the hang of getting those little arms inside the little sleeves of the onsies. You're starting to recongnize the subtle difference between the "I'm starving woman!" cry and the "There is something cold and wet in my pants" cry. Six weeks after giving birth you may even feel less squishy. (Those who've given birth know what I'm talking about.) But just as things are getting to a new normal, it's time for you to go back to work.

Time for you to get over that dull ache in your back from the epidural and carrying around that lovely smelling sack of baby that weighs between 5 - 10 pounds. Time to separate from the new love of your life and hand over that new love to a babysitter. Time to figure out how to relax and pump milk while at work going over deadlines and missing your baby.

Is six weeks really enough time? Definitely not, especially for women who had to start their maternity leave early. Well there may be good news coming, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission voted to have the mandatory maternity leave extended to 12 weeks.

Of course there will be challenges to this new ruling. It has to be seen if the Rights Commission has the right to make such a significant change. Others say it will hurt small businesses. Some business owners say they will have to find and pay temp workers to fill the time missed by recovering moms. How many pregnant women are there in one particular business at any given time? What would be the difference if she was ill with cancer and out for 12 weeks?

Others argue that the vote discriminates against men. Stop laughing. They're serious. Insert obvious counter argument here:______________________________________. Seriously stop laughing, your boss is going to notice you're not working...

On the Dispatch's Web site, a woman chimed in on the comments section that pregnancy should be treated as any other illness because it's a choice. No special treatment. I think she should call her mother and tell her that. Since when is pregnancy an illness?

Let's look at common sense for a minute people. It took 9 months to grow and produce a child. Nine months for a body to change to produce the next set of workers. So what makes anyone think it will take 6 weeks to get back in fighting shape? Businesses should pay pregnant women for producing more potential members of the workforce.


300 Ohio Drivers Affected by Stolen Information

Ohioans have another reason to be worried. A printer holding 300+ drivers license images was stolen Saturday from a BMV office.

Yikes! If you weren't involved in the whole intern-stolen-data debaucle you might have counted yourself lucky. Then the next thing you know you've renewed your license and opened yourself up to more personal data loss.

I'm sure everyone will be asking the usual questions of why is the info stored that way, how can we prevent this from happening again, etc. My question is what nut would break into the BMV?

How stupid could you be to break into a state agency? Isn't the whole point not to get caught? So the genius who did this bypassed several regular offices, perhaps a gas station or two and went straight for the the place you're guarenteed to have the fuzz intensively looking for you. Nice.


Playboy's in town!

Men on OSU's campus are swooning at the thought of co-eds lining up to be in Playboy. The men's magazine is in town scouting for their "Girls of the Big Ten" edition. Bust out the thongs! Or better yet, don't and get your butt to class. The last thing Daddy wants to see is your Physics grade and your ass spread out on page 23 with a list of your turn ons. Hmmm...I've got two girls, can you home school a college student?


Skybus Cancellations Not a Fantastic Voyage for Customers

Skybus customers hoping to get to the West Si-ide of the country in the coming months got a rude awakening via email this week.

As reported in the Columbus Dispatch, Skybus, Columbus' new discounted airline, has cancelled routes going to San Diego, CA and Bellingham, WA. It has also cut one of the daily routes to Burbank, CA, leaving customer holding refunds and little else.

Understandably customers are upset, especially those who got a sweet deal with those $10 fares Skybus offers. It appears that Skybus is taking feeling its way around seeing which routes are the successful, profitable ones a good sign given the state of the airline industry. An airline that is making smart business decisions as opposed to putting all their money together in a pile and burning it? Better call and check the temps in Hades folks!

Too bad customers had to get shafted on that one. What's in Bellingham, Washington anyway?


Welcome to Blogging Columbus, or B.C. as we will come to call it. I am excited to get to work on blogging the news and happenings in the great city that is Columbus, Ohio! Mainstream, off-the-wall and alternative news and events get talked about right here, right now.

My goal is to create a composite of what it's like to live, work and play in Columbus. In turn I hope that you all will be open with your chatter, information and yes, even criticism. So let's get started!