Friday, February 26, 2010

Tips for the Facebook Illiterate

Greetings, mythical beasts.  I'm unexpectedly at work on this lovely Friday evening (the result of massive miscommunication but I think my staff learned an important lesson today, right?) so to pass the time, I thought I'd treat you to another post. You're welcome.

Tips and Tricks for Facebook Users over 40
(or anyone else who just recently discovered social networking)

(1) Congratulations and welcome to Facebook, esteemed guests!  Note that it is pronounced Facebook and not Faceplace, MyBook, or FarmPlanet.

(2) Acronyms. This is dangerous territory for those of you not of the texting generation. I'm all for shortcuts but we have a beautiful language. Don't be afraid to spell it out. Here's a list of common acronyms and  mistakes:
  • TTYL = Talk To You Later.
  • LOL does not= Lots of Love. It means Laugh out Loud. Best to just avoid using this one altogether.
  • IRL = In Real Life.
  • WTF does not= With the Family. Nothing is more awkward than a status update that says "Baking apple pie WTF". I'd tell you what it really means, but this is a family-friendly site and we don't use that kind of language here.
  • IDK = I Don't Know. As in, IDK why you insist on abbreviating everything.
  • TMI = Too Much Information.
For more abbreviations, please visit The Largest List of Shorthand Ever. Actually don't go there. I don't want to encourage any untoward acronym usage.

(3) Comment Courtesy:
  • Never leave a comment in all caps, unless a) you intend to be shouting at the person or b) the intended recipient has weak eyesight.
  • Avoid excessive use of ellipses (.........). Unless you are pausing for dramatic effect between each statement, it is quite unnecessary.
  • Avoid unnecessary notifications. Say you leave a comment on someone's picture or status update. Then someone else leaves a comment beneath you. If you strike up an unrelated conversation with this other person in the same comment section, please take it elsewhere. The person whose picture you are chatting under will recieve a notification after each comment and will also feel like the third wheel. And that's just rude.
(4) Friend Requests. Avoid "friending" your children's friends if you do not know them personally. I say this because they will either deny you (awkward) or friend you out of obligation (still awkward). Be cool, let them come to you. For more tips on being the cool parent on Facebook, please refer to Anne C.

(5) Sharing. Facebook is all about sharing your life, I understand that. But please, don't go nuts. Don't be that guy. Examples of oversharing:
  • Status updates about you/your child/your pet's illnesses or bowel movements. NOT INTERESTED.
  • Openly discussing other people's illnesses/personal or financial calamaties. Don't be a gossip-monger.
  • Daily photos of your pet. News flash: Mr. Sprinkles looks the same today as he did yesterday.
(6) Non-Facebook Applications. The day they introduced Farmville, part of Facebook died. I am not interested in being your neighbor, giving you fish food, battling orcs, or helping the mafia infiltrate Bangkok so please please stop asking.  I don't want to get in a pillow fight, I'm allergic to your virtual flowers, and I don't want to know your answer to "Do you think Ellie smells bad?"

Hopefully these tips will help as you transition from the real world to the virtual one. Thanks for stopping by!

your BFF Ellie

Things I Love Thursday

It's Thursday. I love you, Thursday.  I love you because you are the appetizer to the weekend. Here's what else I love today:

(1) Cocoa Roast Almonds - For those of you without a nut allergy, your life is about to change.  Last time I was home, I found Mom and Dad munching on these between meals.  For some reason, I thought they were coffee flavored so I initially passed them up. I don't know why I waited because it was like a five-piece band playing jazz in my mouth. Seriously. Chocolate-flavored, roasted almonds, same calories in a serving as if you were eating plain almonds. It's music to my ears. And my waist. Downside: they're rather pricey. Upside: THEY ARE CHOCOLATE ALMONDS.

(2) Naps - Once there was a time when I spurned naps. For babies and old people, I said dismissively. What a foolish youngster I was.  I rediscovered the joy of napping when I was a senior in high school and since then I have taken great pleasure in a mid-day snooze. Twenty minutes is really prime, quite refreshing.  On good days, I let myself sleep for forty minutes to an hour.  Anything more and I wake up not feeling well and really confused about what day it is.  I know people who can knock out four hours and then still have it in them to sleep that night. ahem. Ariana.  People like that either need some sort of medal. Or perhaps a visit to the doctor.

(3) Dial Liquid Gold Hand Soap - I fully recognize that this seems oddly specific, emphasis on the 'odd'. Hear me out. I love this soap for what it reminds me of. No matter where I am, one little whiff of this soap makes me think of my grandparents' house. When I was younger, we would go to western New York every summer without fail.  Nana used to keep this soap in the bathroom.  The smell of Dial makes me think of freshly laundered sheets flapping in the wind, picking currant berries, playing in the creek, weeding the garden, hiding in the giant firs, riding bikes to the farm, and seeing the Milky Way at night from the pool deck.  All my memories of summers in Freedom are tinged with pure gold. Pun not intended, seriously.  It reminds me of what a beautiful childhood I had.  Thanks, Dial.

(4) Thank You Notes From My Boss - Before you accuse me of pandering, let me tell you I am 100% sure that my boss does not read my blog. It just feels really good when I occasionally find a sticky note or a card in my inbox, thanking me for my hard work.  Nothing makes me more productive than to know she notices all the time and effort I put into my job.  Her notes mean more than just seeing a little increase in my paycheck after my review (because let's be honest, it's not exactly moving me into the next tax bracket).  I only hope when I get a job in the "real world", I have someone as cool as this lady.

(5) Doodling - I endlessly amuse myself with how bad awesome I am at paying attention in class.  Quite truthfully, I have to keep my hands busy to focus on the lecture. When I don't have colored pens (see previous TiLT post), I have to draw epic scenes in the margins. These two photos are actual examples of my artistry:
Here we have a fierce caveman battling a T-Rex. His hair is on end because he can't believe that this dinosaur didn't die out 65 million years ago with the rest of his kind. The stegosaurus/cow can't be bothered to join because he is too busy reading about the mobilization resources of lobby organizations.

To our right, we have a friendly (if somewhat lopsided) dragon fellow, helpfully pointing out Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition and how it ended the united front between the Nationalist Party and Chinese Communist Party in 1927.  Duly noted, dragon.

Probably the best part is looking over after completing a particularly intricate scene to see the guy next to me who has been watching the whole time and can't believe I'm drawing pictures like a seven-year old. Whatever dude. You haven't even seen the intergalactic alien adventure in yesterday's notes on Congressional leadership.

What do you love today?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why I Love History

Often when I tell people that I want to be a historian, their immediate reaction involves a sour face and some variation of "ugh, why history? Were all the good majors taken?"

Well aren't you a barrel of laughs.

So I'm going to try and illustrate just how this subject draws me in.
While researching for my thesis, I came across the following article:
{transcribed from the Daily Evening Bulletin, (San Francisco, CA) Thursday, October 12, 1876}
 A Union Soldier Who Took a Ham from a Rebel Wants to Pay for It.
          EDITOR BULLETIN: Mr. Sargent's speech, delivered at Platt's Hall on the 9th instant, reminds me of a debt which I was forced to contract in the service of the United States Government near Farmersville, Va., a few days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court-house, and which is not yet paid.
            During that historical march of the Army of the Potomac which culminated in the episode near Appomattox Court-house, we were very short of rations, and consequently I was forced with others to subsist on forage.  How heavy these evil deeds weigh now on my mind! Especially do I repent, in looking back on those days, that I was so unfortunate as to find a delicious ham in the smokehouse of a Virginia farmer, and for taking it along with me with the intention of putting to rest the rebellious cravings of an empty stomach.  That ham is no yet paid for! If the Virgina farmer, who was once the owner of it, wishes to enter in communication with me, I am willing to sign before a Notary Public a bill of claims in his favor on the United States Government to the amount of the price of said ham.  I promise that this bill will be paid when the people, sustaining the Democratic party, declares by its vote that the war for the Union and freedom has been a failure.
SAN FRANCISCO, October 19th, 1876.
         How blithe and snarky! Well done, good sir. Who was this amusing Union fellow who stole a ham and then eleven years later, wrote about it to the editor? And why did he do it? 

         There are so very many things in this short little editorial that illustrate Northern versus Southern and Democratic versus Republican relationships in the post war period but I will save such brilliant insights for my thesis.  The point I make here is that too often we ascribe wit and sarcasm solely to our modern society, as though previously it was unknown.  We are guilty of viewing the past through a lens of self-supposed superiority.  But history is not merely a chronicle of simpler times.  History is a rich, complex, and enthralling story only waiting to be discovered. There are faces and names and people. There is patriotism, revenge, love, hate, fear, and passion.
 I love history because it is entirely subjective and inevitably ambiguous.  I love it because it is an approach and not a science.  I love it because it is ultimately a race between education and catastrophe. 

And most of all I love history because I love telling the story.

Who's laughing now?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Blurb

The week always starts off with a bang. Too much to do and not enough time to do it.  I have a paper due on the Confederacy tomorrow morning.  That said, I wanted to take the time to say hello to readers new and old and thank you for taking time to read my ramblings!

  • Top honors go to Mom and Anita for faithfully checking in every week!
  • Also, apparently I already had a lot more followers than I thought. I'm looking at you Ashley. and Jami.
  • Thank you Sarah for your tip on links! I'm honored you stopped by. Your site is what my blog dreams it wants to be when it grows up.  :) I'm also a fan of your fiance's work.
  • I am now a member of 20 Something Bloggers . It's like the long lost internet family I never had. Still figuring out how to add the badge to my page though...
  • Advertising yourself on Facebook and Twitter does wonders to increase site traffic. (A 'duh' moment, indeed, Ellie)
  • Still trying to figure out HTML to jazz up my layout. But thanks Bryan for the links you shared!
 Well, I must get back to my paper, the Civil War awaits! Before I go, a sweet little stop-motion video for you nerds:

Adobe Photoshop Cook from Lait Noir on Vimeo.

Photoshop & cookies FTW

(Thank you Michelle for sharing on Facebook!)


    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Interesting Finds on the Internet

    Happy Saturday, World!
    As a college student with an extremely low-maintenance job, I spend quite a bit of time on the Internet when I'm at work. To break up the monotony a bit, I decided to skip Things I Love Thursday and share my most interesting finds on the webernets. [Links are in blue, ctrl/click to open in a new tab so you don't leave my page!]

    (1) Tumbleweed Houses - This company custom builds tiny homes for people trying to reduce their carbon footprint and simplfy their lives. How tiny? The smallest is only 65 sq ft! The smaller homes have to be built on wheels--they are too tiny for regular housing codes. The largest home on wheels is 130 sq ft. That is exactly how big my dorm room is. I cannot begin to imagine squeezing a bathroom, kitchen, and living room in with my bedroom furniture! They build homes with foundations too, but the largest one is only around 800 square feet. Here is the inside of one of the larger models. Tiny but adorable!

    (2) Anthropologie Housewares - One day in Chicago I wandered into this store and nearly drowned in the whimsy and pure joy of it all. Unfortunately, Chicago is the closest location with a store. Whenever I'm having a really bad day, I check out the website and sigh with longing and happiness. Some far off day, when I get my own apartment and am making more than peanuts, I will outfit my life in Anthropologie.
    <<--Flower-shaped measuring cups = domestic bliss

    (3) Poladroid - I am in love with Polaroids. They are the ultimate in point-and-shoot. You can't change the aperture or shutter speed or adjust the focus. You can't even edit in post. It's snap, print, shake. Anyone can create amazing photos with a DSLR camera and Photoshop. But a good Polaroid is magic. I have been trying for a long time to buy a camera on ebay but I always get outbid at the last minute. In the meantime, this is free downloadable software that makes any photo look like a Polaroid. Fantastic!

    (4) Readymade - This website and the print magazine it spawned from are chock-full of DIY projects for home and garden. They range from organizational tips to interior design ideas. Their lighting projects are especially inspiring. While most of them are irrelevant to my dorm lifestyle, there's a lot of cool projects to do that I would otherwise just buy in a store. I plan on doing this over spring break. Well, not all of it, but the creating my own duvet cover bit.

    (5) SocialVibe - SocialVibe is an innovative website that is capitalizing on social networking and internet marketing and using both to promote charitable causes. By creating a profile and choosing a cause, you complete "activities" from the sponsors to earn points. The more activities you complete and share, the more points you win, and the more money (and awareness) you raise for your cause. I currently support Surfrider Foundation, an organization focused on protecting beaches and keeping the oceans clean. Click on the widget in the upper right to earn points for me!

    (6) ThinkGeek - The Mecca for tech nerds. I can hardly be described as such, but items such has the USB LED Beverage Cooler and Grassy Lawn Charging Station fill me with 400 gigabytes of happy. Until Sam showed me this website, I never knew how much I needed a pocket-sized synthesizer.

    (7) Blippy - I am definitely pro-sharing my life on the internet. Exhibits A-F: I have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, SocialVibe, Photobucket, and YouTube, as well as three working email addresses. That doesn't even include the social networking sites I've used and abandoned (see: Hi5, Bebo, Myspace, and Xanga). But I draw the line at Blippy. Here, you enter in your credit card information and it publicly posts to your profile everytime you spend money on that card. It shows what, where, and how much you spend. Everything from movie rentals and where you ate for dinner, to how much money you spent on gas yesterday. I mean everything. I thought Mom was kidding when she told me about this website. Social networkers, in my opinion, fall into three categories. There's "Hey, here's a glimpse of me!" and then there's "Hey, here's my daily life!" and then there's "Hey, here's my filing cabinet, medicine chest, and underwear drawer. May I show you the attic?" Blippy is firmly in the third category, a place I hope to never reach.

    Victory is mine! I have sufficiently passed almost an entire work shift writing this post. Hopefully all the links work. Aside from my blog (of course), where do you like to go?

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Things I Love Thursday

    AAAGH quick, post something! There are only 55 minutes left in this Thursday!
    I promised myself a while ago that I would be better at this. I think a small part of me hoped that by forcing myself to write here, no matter how irrelevant or pointless it may be, I will be more inclined to work on my thesis.

    well, HA. joke's on you, self. If my thesis was an animal, it would be a tiny fish, flopping about on the shore and gasping for air.

    too bad, little fish. You're only 45 pages shy of thriving.

    But that's depressing. And that's not why we're here. Let the happy musings begin!

    Rainbows and butterflies, activate!

    (1) Twitter - I love Twitter. It is the silliest of Internet phenomena but something about it is so addicting. Condense your life into 140 characters. And then do it again 15 minutes later if you so choose. It is microblogging at its finest. Some people are frustrated by the character limit but I see it as a challenge: how can I pack wit, insight, and a coherent thought into such a small string of letters? I don't know if I've quite figured it out but I sure try. Sometimes multiple times a day. I am 100 percent aware that it is self-indulgent and meaningless. But there is something so satisfying about being able to take a whim, a moment of frustration, a stream of consciousness and publish it immediately. I often think, "what a pompous creature I am, to expect the world to want instant updates on my life." But then someone retweets me or @replies. The pompous creature adjusts her crown and smirks. And the cycle continues.

    (2) Sudoku - Speaking of addictions, how about those Japanese number puzzles? When they first became popular in 2005, my math teacher loved to give them to us as busy work and extra credit. Since they were associated with math class and numbers, I was predisposed to despise them. I didn't understand how to do them and was frustrated that they were irrelevant to the mathematical concepts I was allegedly learning. However, once on a long trip, I bought a book of Sudoku, mistaking it for a book of crossword puzzles. (Apparently proving that I was predisposed to illiteracy as well.) Stuck with nothing to do but these cursed number games, I slowly figured out the way to solve them. And I was hooked. Now, I cannot tell you how many boring lectures, clerical meetings, and waiting rooms Sudoku puzzles have helped me suffer through. Until I get to the five star ones. Then I just count ceiling tiles.

    (3) Long walks - on the beach. Kidding. This is not my online dating profile. Because I don't have one.
    But seriously. There's nothing that clears my head like a long stroll outdoors. Not just any outdoors, it has to be a rather calm setting. I don't often walk around outside at school because let's face it, even if the sidewalks weren't teeming with noisy college kids, there would still be the constant hum of traffic. and the sirens. and the construction. Oh, how I hate the construction. Living in a cluster of buildings that has been undergoing renovation for the last three years is definitely taking its toll. But that is a story for another time. Moving on...
    I just adore taking a jaunt around the neighborhood when I'm home, like last weekend. Saturday dawned so very clear, feigning innocence of the ferocious winter storm it hurled down on us the night before. The blue sky/white snow was a dazzling combination that beckoned me outdoors. What a pleasant refreshing walk it was! Until I fell into an unsuspecting creek. Yet another story for another time...

    (4) Valentine's Day - "What a cliche you are, falling for that corporate-sponsored myth of a holiday. You don't even have a boyfriend! HA! Loser." (That was the voice of the Pompous Creature who Twitters. She is also my alter ego who is not allergic to cats, and likes to lord that over me too. ) Well stuff it, Pompous Creature. Go crawl back under the figment of imagination you came from. I'm not ashamed and I will declare it from the rooftops: "HEY. I LOVE VALENTINE'S DAY!"

    Yes. I appear to be a bird. Hey, I work with what Flickr gives me.
    I love the shades of pink and red and white. I love the hearts, the x's, the o's, the glitter, the conversation candy, the saccharine poetry, the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, the flowers, and the sweet signature of a child on the back of a store-bought card. I love exchanging cheesy gifts with my sister and my friends. Most of all I love love. That king of emotions that everyone wants so desperately to have, to feel, but defies explanation. But more importantly, the Love that is boundless, true, deep, and everlasting; the Love that is not of man, but is given without reserve and extends beyond the grave. That's the love I love the most.

    (5) Making Lists - duh. The reason I enjoy Things I Love Thursdays the most: I can write in a list format. My life exists in lists. Case in point, I made a list during class today of the five things I was going to include in today's post, and have been checking them off as I type this. Also, upon finishing, I will be checking "update blog" off today's to-do list. And then will be checking "complete 2/11/10 list" off of this week's to-do list. I could go on, but it dissolves into an M.C. Escher scenario.

    You get the picture.

    This has gotten quite out of hand. I hope this Thursday finds you happy. And so I leave you with a pretty, vintage Valentine's Day image that will make the Pompous Creature cringe.

    Now I need to go brush my teeth after all that sugary sweet.

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