Read for Change?

A few weeks ago, kids from a local scout troupe were door-knocking in our neighborhood, asking if they could rake leaves for $5 / bag as a fund-raiser. Sadly, we have a gardener armed with rakes and a leaf blower, and had no leaves to offer them, so I gave them a donation of $20, and wished them luck. I’m not particularly pro-scout, though I was a brownie when I was a kid, but I think kids who are doing anything for a cause should be encouraged.

Besides, they’re so cute and eager at that age.

It got me wondering about the stuff I did when I was in grade school. The Scholastic Book catalogs, the candy sales, the M.S. Read-a-thon. Does anyone still do read-a-thons? And if they do, are they still raising money for research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, or is the cause more modern now. Are kids reading in support of treatment for malignant mesothelioma instead?

I participated in the read-a-thon for several years, but my favorite was the year we lived in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a cute beach-front town, just up the shore from Asbury Park. I’d solicited all the neighbors, but one of them said he’d only sponsor me if I came and gave a brief report of each book I’d read. I thought that was fair.

I’m a fast reader, so every couple days I’d visit and give overviews of what I’d read so far. I think the neighbor was impressed, at first, and a little concerned for his wallet, by the end, but he kept his part of the bargain, as I had mine.

I kind of miss the days when picking up a book was a way to promote change.

Unconscious Mutterings #248

I say… And you think… ?

  1. Assets :: Joint
  2. Concern :: Cause for
  3. Over the top :: Lifestyles of the rich and tasteless
  4. Supplies :: Office
  5. Mustache :: Twirling
  6. Doug :: Henning
  7. Coach :: Purses
  8. Bleachers :: Bums
  9. Stripes :: White
  10. Assortment :: Array

I found this week’s words a bit awkward. Nothing really struck me about them. Maybe it’s the cold meds.

Like this meme? Play along here.

Just Dial

When you run a small business, one of the things you have to resolve as early as possible is what kind of phone system you want to use. I remember endless conversations with providers, stacks of catalogs and finally, desperately, calling Mike the Phone Guy who came with his little green Radio Flyer wagon, clad in overalls and an engineer’s cap, to help us sort everything out.

Mike was great. He introduced us to the world of PBX phone systems, and explained how they worked, that we could have virtual extensions, headsets for roaming, and even a digital receptionist to route calls, as well as unlimited expansion of voicemail boxes without having to add numbers. At the time, we didn’t understand how cool PBX systems are. Now, after working with a company that refused to spend the money for good phone, and then working for one of the largest financial institutions in the world, I understand better why your phone system can make or break your company.

And that’s why I like Talkswitch. It’s a PBX system designed for small businesses, so you don’t have to buy a thousand pieces to get the best rates on hardware, and it’s a hybrid system. That means it works over VOIP and analog phone lines, and that combination is important, because VOIP saves you huge amounts of money on long distance calling, but if the network goes down, or there’s an emergency, you need to be able to just dial.

Talkswitch is also great because it’s designed for the do-it-yourself small business owner. It doesn’t require an office building with a whole phone room – you can install it in the all-season porch you’ve turned into an office, if you need to. It’s scalable, as well – you buy what you need, and the number of licenses you need, and expand as necessary.

The other really cool think about Talkswitch is that it works with offices in multiple locations, integrating all the different extensions so if you’re on the road, or have employees in other states, or any number of possible combinations of homes and offices, no one ever misses a call, and callers have one central number to dial.

Having experimented with many PBX systems, I’m comfortable recommending Talkswitch, which you can buy from a company called NeoBits. They work both over the phone and online ( and have discussion forums as well as product faqs for you to browse through. TalkSwitch isn’t their only product, of course, but if you need a small business phone solution, it’s the one they recommend.

I think Mike the Phone Guy would agree.