Category Archives: Press and Media

Miami without the vice

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I’m just back from a quick trip halfway around the world to Miami, Florida to attend and present at the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards ceremony and accompanying events. Thank you to James Ventrillo and Debra Gaynor for their kind invitation! Debra also presented me with the gold medal won for Being Anti-Social at the 2012 awards program (Chick Lit category).

Although it was a long trip, it was well worth it and I came away having met some wonderful people and new friends including Dete Meserve, gold medalist for The Good Sam (coming soon) and President, Wind Dancer Films, and Eriq La Salle of ER fame (Dr Peter Benton) however his creative genius also extends to writing—check out Laws of Depravity, gold medalist, and Laws of Wrath coming soon. And to balance all the authors on the panel, we had Mark Wayne Adams renowned for his picture book illustrations. I’ve posted photos on my Facebook page.

For a lot of people, Miami means Don Johnson in his white suits fighting crime in Miami Vice, which is obviously not very practical. For whatever reason, I didn’t watch the show during its heyday, 1984-1989 and I’m not sure why—possibly too busy with sport and fitness at that time. Another show we don’t watch is CSI Miami—those opening ‘poignant’ remarks from Horatio, with sunglasses poised in anticipation, weren’t.

For me, an absolute must in visiting Miami was the art deco district near South Beach. This is the largest concentration of art deco buildings in the world. Birdcage, a fantastic movie with Robin Williams, Gene Hackman and Nathan Lane was filmed at The Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive. This is one of my favourite scenes with Robin Williams.

On my first day in Miami, I set out for the Miami Book Fair International with no appreciation of how far it was from our hotel—we walk everywhere in Singapore so I was ready for the trek for the sights along the way. In the end, a bus came along headed in the right direction (and no taxis in sight) so I jumped on. It didn’t matter where I ended up; I had a map which is pretty useless if you have no sense of direction. In the end, the bus stopped right in front of the book fair. My only regret, once again, was that we only did one level of Spanish back in 1997. Being able to count to 10, hola, buenos días, buenas noches, gracias and adiós only get you so far.

Thanks to my trip to Miami, I’ve also now had Key Lime Pie at its point of origin (although I did not make it all the way to Key West) and this of course is an important aspect of my travels.

Regards
Leigh

Contact Leigh at:

Website: http://www.leighkcunningham.com

Email: leigh @ leighkcunningham.com

Twitter: @leighcunningham

Facebook: Leigh K Cunningham

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Radio interview with Michael Castner, The Daily Wrap, Wall Street Journal

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Thank you to Michael Castner of The Daily Wrap, Wall Street Journal Radio Network for his time this week discussing smart phones and how they interfere with relationships. (interview is at 32:24 mins into the podcast)

Recent research in the UK, reported in Scientific American, shows that the presence of a cell phone while two people are having a meaningful conversation significantly affects the trust, openness, and empathy expressed during those conversations; even when the cell phone is in another room. Why?

Because we know it’s there and we’ve become an ‘instant response society’ addicted to knowing what’s going on in our extended world at any given time. Maybe there’s some work issue that needs attention and there’s an expectation that we will respond immediately or maybe someone mentioned us on Twitter or tagged us on Facebook. It’s not much different to an alcoholic who knows there’s a bottle of vodka in the cupboard and is distracted thinking about it.

The fear of being without your phone is now a recognized phobia – Nomophobia, and the number of ‘sufferers’ is on the rise. Why are we so obsessed with our phones?

For some, it’s a security blanket – we feel safer knowing the world, anything we need, is just a fingertip away. For others, we worry about missing out on something if we’re not obsessively checking for messages, emails and notifications – there’s a fear of losing connection with the outside world. And there’s another group who need the continuous endorsement of their ‘self’. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the encouragement we get in the form of ‘likes’ boosts our self-esteem.

If you constantly have your smart phone plugged into your ear; if you cannot sit through a meal without sneaking a peek; if you are unable to have a conversation one-on-one with the people who are right in front of you because you’re thinking about your online world, then it may be time to establish boundaries for yourself. You can do this by ‘time’ – specifying the times of each day when you will not check your phone or social networks and will instead devote this time, undivided to the ‘real’ people in your life. You could also do it by function ie don’t use your phone while (a) watching TV (b) during meals (c) on someone’s birthday etc. 

There was a time when smoking in restaurants was considered acceptable, but now smoking anywhere is pretty much considered antisocial. Perhaps we’re heading towards a banning of phones in restaurants; maybe that will be a niche offering by some savvy owners who guarantee a phone-free environment for your dining experience. The next time you’re in a restaurant take a look around and see how many couples are actually talking to each other with no sign of a cell phone. Do they look anxious? 🙂

Contact Leigh at:

Website: http://www.leighkcunningham.com

Email: leigh @ leighkcunningham.com

Twitter: @leighcunningham

Facebook: Leigh K Cunningham

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Radio Interview with Larry and John, CBS Pittsburgh

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I had the pleasure this week of talking with the legendary Larry Richter and John Shumway on their morning show on KDKA, CBS Pittsburgh. We discussed the intrusion of smart phones in our lives, and whether talking and texting simultaneously is multi-tasking or just plain rude. You can listen to the interview from their website.

Larry mentioned that his wife, while watching TV together, is usually also on her iPad, and when she misses something critical, she will rewind the show to the appropriate place. Larry did not think this was fair since he is paying attention and can do without the interruption. This approach had not occurred to me primarily because I am rarely in control of the remote control in our household, which can be rectified. My approach, until now, has been to ask my husband, “what did he say?” or “what just happened?” which he also finds annoying for some strange reason.

I actually knew quite a bit about Pittsburgh before the interview because our friends and travelling companions, Donna and Terry live there – born and breed. This means I also know some Pittsburghese. And to ensure we practice our language skills regularly, our friends gave us a Pixburghese talking keychain when we caught up with them in Africa last month. One of those cultural sharings includes, “Yinz are Jag Offs”, which I’m saddened to report my husband now uses, by pressing the key chain button, in response to any and all inquiries aimed at his person. Communication in our household has suffered as a result – or improved, depending on your perspective.

Some quick pointers about the wonderful city of Pittsburgh:

  1. It’s football team is the Steelers (or Stillers in the local dialect), which originates from the extensive steel trade that was the foundation of the city. Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles and AFC Championship Games than any other AFC or NFC team. The Steelers also share the record for most Super Bowl appearances with the Dallas Cowboys. Impressive – now I understand why I ‘follow’ them. Out of interest and sheer irrelevance, my nephew is also contracted to the Cowboys – but it’s the North Queensland Cowboys and the sport is Rugby League (Australia).
  2. The Allegheny river joins the Monogahela river in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River. Downtown (or Dahn Tahn) Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the two rivers, and looks quite spectacular.
  3. According to our friends, it’s the best place in the world, and we absolutely must, and will, get there one day this decade.

Contact Leigh at:

Website: http://www.leighkcunningham.com

Email: leigh @ leighkcunningham.com

Twitter: @leighcunningham

Facebook: Leigh K Cunningham

Radio interview Leigh K Cunningham with Jordana Green, CBS Minnesota

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A special thank you to the lovely Jordana Green at CBS Minnesota for her ‘air’ time last Friday night. We talked about smart phones and social networks and how they can consume our lives. We can’t live without them so we need to ensure they don’t take control over our ‘real’ lives and relationships.

Listen to the Podcast. Visit Jordana’s Blog and/or tune into her radio show.

All I knew about Minnesota before the interview was that it is in the mid-west, close to Canada, and likely to be very, very cold, especially for a girl from Australia who has lived near the equator for nigh on a decade (Singapore).
Now I know that Minnesota means ‘sky-tinted water’ – sounds divine –  and it is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The lakes, forests, parks and wilderness areas offer an outdoor lifestyle, which, being Australian, I certainly do appreciate. Not surprisingly therefore, Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the US.

Minnesota also has a high rate of civic participation and has a highly literate population (this was obvious talking with Jordana!). There is a large proportion of residents of Scandinavian descent (as am I – great, great grandfather) and it is the center of Scandinavian American culture.

Nearly 60% of residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, known as the Twin Cities, as is their baseball team.

It looks and sounds like a place I should visit! My bucket list overflows.

Contact Leigh at:

Website: http://www.leighkcunningham.com

Email: leigh @ leighkcunningham.com

Twitter: @leighcunningham

Facebook: Leigh K Cunningham