Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm ransoming beer. Until 5pm Tomorrow

I recently sent out a fundraising appeal; and I thought that you might enjoy reading about it here. Now, the fundraising is absolutely dead-nuts serious. I'm trying to cure cancer here. No jokes about that. But - and it's natural for me - to brand it with my own writing style and write in "the voice" that's authentic for me. There are some key elements in a fundraising appeal that, over the years, I've found work well. And I think that I've hit my marks on this one, and you might enjoy.

It's not that I set about with a cunning template and a formula to plug things into. But read through the note, and use the purple stuff as editorial, much like in the DVD director's cut with actor voiceovers describing the scenes

You can read this post in one of three ways

  1. As a treatise on copywriting.

  2. A one guide to fundraising

  3. As a base appeal to the worst, and best, aspects of the human condition

My first goal is already achieved. Despite your best judgment, you're reading this thing. It's a compelling headline isn't it? Me+beer is second only to Me+SmallBrownDogOrMrsLongSuffering.

And, there's a deadline. People LOVE deadlines. People act on deadlines. If there's no deadline, it gets put off. So, that's a key for item 2 (the fundraising guide). Put a deadline in your offer.

At this point, you, the audience, are engaged and curious and you know You Have To Act Now. Or not, but that's ok, too.

I’m ransoming beer.

Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers. I am hoping that my participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.

So, deadlines are a great inducement to act. And people will act for a variety of reasons. There are two I've come to learn are pretty common amongst most folk:

  1. Altruism and aspiration: we're embarked on a large, important cause here.

  2. Personal connection: as I've learned, far too many people I know have a connection to the cause - a loved one who has had the scourge of cancer invade their life and leave lasting scars that wound not just the patient but their friends and family

So, now we have an intellectual tension. We have beer; we have marketing; and we have a Cause. I have three different topics going on. How can these things be related? This tension gives rise to curiosity and a desire to plunge onwards into this already-long communication. At this point, the audience is looking for resolution.

There's a third which is not unique, but certainly prevalent amongst my friends. And that is this: you like to see a fat man suffer.

Ah. Humor. Self-deprecating humor. Certainly part of the "DHK brand". At this point, you're fully immersed. The brand relationship is reinforced (for good or for bad) and we have emotionally retreated from the "cancer is awful" sub-plot but while still retaining audience engagement.

So, "When Butter Knives Attack", the link above, is the first part of this compelling call to action. The second part, below, is, I think you'll agree, a carefully crafted appeal to those who know me best, and understand the worst and basest parts of me the most.

I'm ransoming beer. There you go. For every $50 that is raised between now and 5pm tomorrow, I'll donate a 6 pack of beer to the worthy cause of your choice. If that worthy cause is you, so be it. I will ride to your place of work or home, carrying the beer in an refrigerated container and deliver it to you. I will shake your hand and thank you and then, and this is the part that kills me, Leave. Without. Drinking. Any.

Further, I will not replace this beer in my cellar.

The Shock! The Horror! The Dreadful Inhumanity of it all. Two things happen

  1. The intellectual tension is resolved.

  2. If I'm offering to give up beer it must be important to me

  3. This is funny. Cancer's not a funny subject; believe me. And fundraising is not a joke. But if we can leaven the mood, why not?

I. Will. Go. Without. You will know, while you're enjoying your frosty malted beverage, that I am without beer. There will be a fleet of trained medical professionals on hand in case I go into anapaleptic shock, or whatever.

Now, for the terms and conditions

  • It has to be beer. Good, decent American beer. Preferably micro brews. No fizzy Belgian fizz water, no rice-based concoction, nothing I wouldn't drink myself. We'll negotiate according to your taste preferences. After all, this should be fun.

  • You can't live more than 25 miles from a BART or MUNI stop. After all, it's 50 mile round trip with a six pack on my back and a keg on my stomach.

And now for the denouement, and, critically, the call to action.

Interested? Compelled? Horrified? Still here? Well, if nothing else, my material is holding your attention, so if you're smiling, then I've done my job.

You can make a donation at

Quick note: if you've already pledged support to me this year I apologize - I'm trying to keep my InBox Irritations to a minimum; so I’m trying to keep duplicates to a minimum

Monday, March 1, 2010

When Butter Knives Attack: The Graston Technique

Those of you who know me well will know that I've been dealing with a variety of soft tissue ... situations. Earlier in my career I would have called them injuries but now they are part of the cost of doing what I do. But they are, or have been, painful, debilitating and at least part of the cause of me DNFing one Death Ride Season. (The larger part was me not H'eningTFU; but that's a different post)

Research led me to a therapy known as The Graston Technique. It's revolutionized my life, in ways both large and small. I am a huge fan of it. But, I would be remiss if I did not examine it through the gray tinted lenses of sarcastic cynicism that is my duty to you, my loyal readers...

So, Graston Technique - what's it all about, then?

I could quickly - and succinctly - reply, saying "it's an innovative technique designed to improve athletic functionality by freeing up the fascia which otherwise binds to muscle & ligaments preventing smooth biomechanics. But that's like saying the last 15 miles of the Death Ride is all downhill. It misses the point. By a long chalk. Plus, who uses one word where 17 would do?

So, the Graston Technique:

You know how when you've finished cooking spaghetti and you trip over the cat while you're trying to drain the pasta and it ends up in a tangled heap on the floor, now garnished with cat hair and the dog lapping up the bits around the edges and you frantically dancing around because you've slopped some of the boiling pasta water on your reproductive apparatus? That's what your muscle fibers look like when they're all scarred up and, well, tangled. (The spaghetti on the floor, not the, ah, boiled areas) Let's call that Situation (A) - Prior to Graston Technique Treatment.

You want them to look like the spaghetti in the box - all nice and tidy all running in the same direction (of course, you want your muscle fibers to be all elastic and not dried out and strong and stuff, but that's still what you want the overall effect to look like). Let's call that Situation (B) - Post the Graston Technique Treatment

Obviously, you wan to get from Situation (A) (just as obviously, I hope, sans the self-cooking) to Situation (B). How do you get there? Clearly, via The Graston Technique Treatment.

And this is what it is.

Take a butter knife. Scrape it across your muscles fibers to encourage them to straighten themselves up. Skin in the way? No worries - just press harder. Muscles/ligaments being resistant to the technique? Press down some more. Working on a big muscle or one of the really tough ligaments that is so critical to your locomation? Easy solution - Dig it in ALL the way. Trying to go into one of those deep muscles that are near the bone? You guessed it. Go harder. I mean Just Dig That Mother In All The Way. Touch bone if you can. And keep going.

Go Big Or Go Home is the motto of the Graston people and none of them knock off work early. These are people with a super commitment to their annointed profession.

Key question: how do you know when you're going hard enough? Well, when you're flaying the flesh from the client's body, you'll detect scar tissue. It'll feel like crumbs of toast. Big crumbs. Not quite crouton size, but sizeable all the same. When you're grastoning away on someone and you find these crumbs you cry "Aha!" and scrape all the deeper, until the crumbs disappear under your ministrations. Where do the crumbs go? As far as I can tell, they form themselves into tears of blood which you then weep. (You the patient, not you the Graston Technique Afficionado.)

What does it feel like? Well, let's say it hurts. Imagine if someone was using a cheese grater on your achilles. That's what it feels like; which is presumably why it's called the Graston Technique.

Amusingly, on the Graston Technique website, they say, in FAQ5, "it is common to experience minor discomfort." Now, either the definition of "minor" has changed a lot since I was growing up; OR the definition of the word "common" has changed a lot; or this is straight up, and there's no other way to express this, bullshit.

So Why Am I Doing This?

Cancer's not going to cure itself. My commitment to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is to raise $10,000 in calender year 2010 to support the important work they do.
  • If you're able to offer financial support, you can do so at my fundraising page
  • If you're curious about participating in Team In Training, let me know - I'd be delighted to tell you all about it. At length (now there's a surprise)
  • If you feel so inclined to share , either this blog or, more importantly my fundraising page, please do so. More people than you could ever realize have been touched by these diseases.
Once again: thank you for your support. All idiocy aside: we spend a lot of time training hard and acknowledgement from our friends, colleagues and family means more than you might think. Go Team!

A rare diversion into sincerity

Let me just say this: Graston Technique, and Active Release Therapy, have been pivotal to me getting healthy again. I wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend it; and a couple of practitioners I've worked with, to anyone who may need it. It wouldn't be fair of me to nominate them here in this post, but if you ping me I'll be more than happy to provide references - either in San Francisco, or Oakland.

You can check out a pretty comprehensive description of the practice at

An Inevitable PostScript

PS - apropos of the boiling spaghetti story a friend of mine told me about a friend of his (so it must be true) who was serving Tuna Tetrazzini for Thanksgiving. That's not the horror of it. Her guests had arrived, the tuna was cooling and she wandered into the kitchen. To discover that the cat was eating the Tuna Tetrazzini. *Tha'ts* not the horror of it. The cat was, and you want to take a moment to visualize this, Standing. In. The. Tuna. Tetrazinni. And **THAT'S** not the horror of it.

My own related cooking experience was my one (and, as you'll quickly determine, only) attempt at making broccoli soup.
1. Purchase and trim the broccoli
2. Steam it until just fork-tender
3. Place in blender with salt, EVOO and a drizzle of truffle oil. Blend to puree
3. Remove from blender. Pour over trousers
4. Remove trousers.
5. Serve pizza.

The End.

Thanks to Melissa for the Crumbs Analogy; and to Lisa O for Michael's Tetrazzini Story