Three Reminders From Europe

20130113-170235.jpg Over Christmas Hess and I traveled to Europe. I hadn’t been to Europe since 2003 and the trip served as a nice reminder of the things Europeans do in their everyday life that we should try to do in ours.

1. Eat fresh and local
Europeans tend to grocery shop everyday and often from local markets. Our meals were made from fresh, seasonal ingredients. We try to live by this philosophy in our house and our trip was a good reminder to continue this.

2. When possible walk, bike, or take public transportation
Obviously the suburban sprawl that is Ohio makes this one a little more challenging, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity to make this one a reality. Not only is traveling this way better for you and the environment, it’s also cheaper.

3. Don’t assume the worst from people
Every European we met was warm, friendly and hospitable. As Americans we tend to think the worst of people until we get to know them better, whereas Europeans seemed to think the best until otherwise proven.

I can’t wait to go back, but in the meantime, I’ll work on living “more European” in my daily life. :)

New Year, New Start

I really like the idea of resolutions because it signals the idea of change which I find refreshing. I like the idea that no matter who you are or where you are in your life you can make a fresh start. To the end I’m going to make a fresh start on this blog and in several areas of my life. So here are my 2013 resolutions.

1. Blog More
I’d like to revamp this blog and make it less about my work and academic interests and more about my general life and interests. This blog will be more for my own outlet than discussing how I feel about social media or sociology. I’ll probably still comment on those things but it won’t be my focus. I also am going to try to write once a week.

2. Be Healthier
This is in mind, body, and spirit. I’d like to try to get into meditation. I want to exercise three times a week and stick to a clean diet.

3. Read
After grad school I lost a passion for reading that I’m still working on getting back. Now I think I’m just out of the discipline of reading a book; I spend more time reading the Internet. For 20 minutes a day I’m going to work on reading things that are not online (book, good magazine, articles my dad mails me).

4. Learn a New Language
Hess and I just got back from a trip to Europe, which has me inspired to learn a new language. I’m thinking German might be good.

5. Learn HTML
I have enough HTML skills to be dangerous but I really would like to have a better base.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ll be working in this year. What about you?

Insomnia

I’ve never been a great sleeper. My parents always tell stories of how difficult I was to put to bed as a baby. I can remember hating sleep as a little kid and as a teenager I always had problems falling asleep and staying asleep.

I thought my lack of sleep was relatively normal (my parents aren’t great sleepers either) until college when I’d find myself in the dorms wide awake while everyone else was fast asleep. Sometimes I’d pace the halls to try to kill my energy or I’d write in my notebook to try to clear my thoughts.

Over the last few years I’ve gone through periods where I’ve slept a lot more than I ever have before. I always hear how great sleep is and how more sleep indicates better long term health so I figured wanting 8 hours of sleep (or more) must be good.

The way the brain and the body work together is tricky. The more sleep my body wants, the less active my brain seems. For the last several months I’ve had night after night of uninterrupted sleep (6-8 hours) and my brain has been on auto-pilot. I’ve struggled to come up with new ideas and concepts at work and I’ve stopped working on creative projects at home.

Tonight I’ve had the worst night of sleep I’ve had in a long time. Collectively I’ve had about 4 hours of sleep and most of that was in one hour increments where I snapped awake for 30 minutes or so before resting again. During this sleepless time I’ve come up with about a million ideas for home art projects and projects at work. I’ve been up sketching things out and taking notes for the last several hours. It makes me feel invigorated but also a little bit crazy.

Am I the only one like this? Does anyone else work better on less sleep?

Tracing My Roots

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When I was finishing up my master’s degree I decided my next project would be to trace my family history. I’ve always been curious about where my family is from and what patterns and parallels I can see between my ancestors lives and mine.

The show Who Do You Think You Are? also inspired me to start my research. If you haven’t seen the show, it traces celebrities on their journeys to find out more about their ancestry. It’s a fascinating show and it has given me some insight on the types of questions i should ask my elder family members in order to get the most accurate information to base my research on.

I’m starting my research with my mom’s side of the family because my grandpa (pictured with me above) already has a wealth of knowledge about his family history. Some of it has been researched before and some of it is hear-say. I met with my grandpa today to get some more details and to find out what unanswered questions he has about his family.

The meeting was extremely helpful; my grandpa loves history so I knew he would know the years things took place and if our family was involved in major historical events, like the Civil War (we were). What we don’t know is what European country we came from; we theorize we came from France. We also don’t know much about his mom’s family. I left my visit with grandpa with a great starting point for one piece of my puzzle and I’m looking forward ton seeing what I find out.

Has anyone else researched their ancestry? What tools did you use and what tips do you have for me?

2010 Recap and 2011 Plans

I had a pretty great 2010 and 2011 seems like it will be pretty awesome. Here’s my recap of 2010 and my resolutions for 2011.

My 2010 highlights:

Becoming an Aunt

One of the biggest highlights this year was becoming an aunt for the first time. My older brother Brandon and his wife Amanda had their first child this year. I’m not really into kids and haven’t spent very much time around babies so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the arrival of Mr. Spencer. It’s almost been a year since Spencer was born and it’s been soooo much fun watching him grow and spending time with him. Being an aunt is so awesome because I can hang out with Mr. S when he is a good mood and pass him back to Mom and Dad when he’s in a bad mood. :) It’s also fun buying presents for him; for his 1st birthday I plan to get him an obnoxious drum set to annoy the hell out of his parents. What kind of a little sister would I be if I didn’t buy an annoying toy for Spencer?!


Traveling to New Orleans

Hess and I went to New Orleans for our friend Maggie’s wedding. We had such a great trip. Not only was the wedding great, but we met up with Crystal, one of my old theater friends from high school. Crystal lives in New Orleans and works for WWOZ New Orleans (download their app for your phone and be sure to donate to the station). She took us out and showed us a great time and some fabulous non-touristy parts of NOLA. If you haven’t been to New Orleans I encourage you to go. It’s an amazing city with amazing people, food, and music. We plan to go back very soon.

Coop's Place Crab Claws - YUM

Finishing my Master’s Degree

The three year process that was my Master’s Degree program finally came to an end. I officially have a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies with a focus in Sociology. I really enjoyed my time in school but was ready to be done.


What’s to come for 2011?

I’m not sure yet. I have lots of plans, but I’ll need to wait and see what unfolds. I have made a few resolutions.

Spend time away from my electronic devices

I’m on a computer or my phone all day. I think technology is great but I need to work on disconnecting so I’m committing to try to do that for at least a hour or two a day.

Read more

Now that I’m done with school ‘m excited to start reading for pleasure and I plan to do a lot of that in 2011

Become more financially mindful

I’ve gotten in the habit of letting Hess manage all the money. This year I plan to really get to know our finances and to be more mindful of unnecessary spending.

Nurture my creativity

I want to spend more time doing creative activities. When I started graduate school my focus changed to academic projects and I miss the creative stuff I use to do.

I have several more resolutions but I think I’ll keep those to myself. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2011 has in store for me, my family, and my friends. Here’s to 2011!

2011

Finding My Blogging Voice

I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. I wanted to start this blog to give a fresh perspective on social media, technology, and sociology. I’m not sure I’m accomplishing any of that, but I’m working on being patient with myself as I develop this site and as I develop my blogging voice. It’s been difficult for me because I’m so use to writing on behalf of someone else or on behalf of an organization; it’s hard to suddenly step out of the shadows and share my own thoughts. The truth is, there are lots of reasons I’ve put off writing and lots of questions that pop into my mind when I think of blogging. Here are just a few:

  • Does anyone care what I have to say?
  • Will people judge my writing?
  • Do I have anything valuable to add?

90% of the time I start a blog and stop because of these questions. Over Thanksgiving my Dad gave me a CD filled with songs he wrote. The album is great and I really enjoy it; it seemed like putting it together was a breeze for him. After talking with him about it he shared that when he initially started writing he felt the same ways I do and struggled with the same questions. As he moved forward in the process he began to realize it didn’t matter if anyone like the work; the album was for him. Is it nice if people like his work? Yes, but ultimately he creates because he enjoys creating. I’m starting to look at this blog the same way; this blog is for me and I hope people find some value it in, but if they don’t that’s okay too.

Fellow bloggers, have you experienced similar feelings when writing your posts? If so, how have you moved past those questions of self-doubt?

The Social Network & Valuing Ideas

The-Social-NetworkOn Friday a group of social media friends and I went to see The Social Network. As many of you may know, the film is about how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea of Facebook, how the company was launched, and the drama that occurred as a result of some of his less than ethical business decisions. The story, which is written by West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin,  is based on factual information, but — like any great Hollywood film — there are parts that are fictionalized. As an audience member it’s up to you to discern what is true and what’s not, which is very difficult to do.  Overall, the film was pretty good; as a group we gave the movie about a 7 out of 10. The acting was great and the writing was excellent, but it’s not the best film I’ve ever seen. One thing to note is the musical score, which was done by Trent Reznor. The score is amazing and the way music was used in the film was pretty cool too.

After watching the film, the group I went for a cup of coffee and had a chat about our thoughts on the film. One of the most interesting things we talked about was how creative the idea of Facebook is and how unsurprising it is that a college kid came up with it.  As a 20 something working on my career it dawned on me that most of my really creative ideas and moments of inspiration happened while in college.

After graduating from college and hitting the workforce I found I had to be a “yes” person in order to climb the corporate ladder and achieve career success.  Becoming a “yes” person often meant stifling my creativity.  Looking back at my career I can identify many times when my ideas were dismissed without really being listened to or taken seriously. This makes me wonder: What would’ve happened if Mark Zuckerberg presented the idea of Facebook to his first employer? Would it have been so well received?

So what are you going to do today to make your big idea heard or to make the people around you feel their input is valued?

How to Pass the Google Adwords Exam

As many of you know, I recently took a new job with a Search Engine Marketing company called Bizresearch. As part of my hiring process I was required to take the Google Adwords Fundamentals exam and one of the Google advanced exams in order to obtain my Adwords Certification. These exams are challenging and if you are are like me and have limited experience in the SEO/SEM world they are even tougher. Today, I’ll give you my tips for passing the Google Adwords Fundamentals Exam.

How to Pass the Google Adwords Fundamentals Exam:

1. Study, study, study- This may seem obvious, but a lot of people don’t take the exams seriously. If you want to pass you have to study and Google has created a nice learning center with helpful lessons in a variety of formats to help you retain the information. Make sure you go through each lesson thoroughly and you complete all of the exercises. I encourage you to take notes and even create flashcards to help you retain the info. It’s a lot of work, but going the extra mile will allow you to pass the first time. Remember, these exams cost $50 and you only get two chances per month to pass the exam.

2. Know the layout of the Adwords Menus- Many questions on this exam involve knowing where you can find certain information within the Adwords menu. If you don’t have an Adwords account create one and get to know the menus/layout. It’s important to know what reports you can pull in your account and how you would do this, as well as the type of information you can see in each section.

3. Know the difference between account, campaign, and adgroup settings- Make sure you know what settings are stored in each of these areas. For example, where would you adjust your budget or location and language targeting? (Answer: campaign management). To help me remember, I created a organizational chart that lists what each area has control over.

A good portion of the questions revolve around hypothetical situations so it’s important to know how to apply the content you have memorized.  Passing the fundamentals exam can be a challenge; be sure to study hard, take notes, and focus.  Up next, I’ll give my tips for passing the Reporting/Analysis Advanced Exam.

Social Media Tracking & Analytics Seminar

For a few years I’ve been friends with Laura Thieme, president of Columbus-based Bizresearch, a search engine and marketing analytics company. Recently, she informed me she will be presenting a free seminar on tracking social media and how social media can feed SEO and PPC search marketing campaigns. I think this seminar could be very valuable to business owners so I thought I’d pass along the information.

What: Free seminar on social media tracking & analytics

Where: TechColumbus

When: Friday, September 17th at 10AM

Registration is required so make sure you go here to register.

I addition to Laura’s presentation, Mike Eldredge from tekOrange, a web services agency, will begin the seminar by discussing the growing phenomenon of social media as well as analyzing some social media sites and their effectiveness in business.

I hope to see you there!