30 January 2012

Life in a Soundbite Society

In my vlog this evening, I talked about a comment that was made by one of my professors. She claimed we live in a soundbite society, that many people these days are so bombarded by technology and constant streams of information that we're essentially drowning in it (my words) and, because of this, we can only pay attention to brief snippets. These brief snippets are essentially what causes us to form our opinions about much bigger issues (her words) and this isn't necessarily a good thing - more on that in the vlog.

Another big issue I have with today's no attention span society is the prevalence of buzz words like attention deficit disorder. I myself am diagnosed with ADD and have been learning how to live with it for the past six years of my life. In my experience, it seems like every time I share my diagnosis with someone on campus, there's always That Person. "Oh, wow. I think I've got ADD too. I mean, I can't pay attention to anything for very long."

Excuse me? You think you've got ADD just because you have a short attention span? Please educate yourself before lumping the two of us in the same group. There is more to ADD than an inability to focus. Hyperfocus, for example, is one of the truly awesome things about ADD. If the only evidence you have re: your "diagnosis" is an inability to focus/multi-task, I'm sorry but I'd appreciate it if you butt out on my disorder.

In my experience, ADD is turning into something of a buzz word. I'm wondering whether it is, perhaps, over-diagnosed as a side effect of our collective shrinking attention span or under-diagnosed for the same reason. There are people these days who can't pay attention to a fifty minute lecture, who can't wait three minutes for a microwave to cook food, who can't be bothered to read a book and must instead gather their facts from an abridgment, a film, or cliff notes. Do all of these people have ADD? I believe that is statistically impossible, though I've done no research on the stats. It just seems like a far too large number, hypothetically.

So, I wonder: is ADD over-diagnosed because nobody can pay attention to anything longer than three minutes or under-diagnosed because the symptoms aren't always noticed in today's "soundbite society"?

29 January 2012

What I've Got

Some days, things sneak up on you that you didn't expect. Today has been one of those days for me. The icing on the cake was hearing my roomie, in passing, comment that she didn't like our apartment because there was no dishwasher or garbage disposal. I'm sure she was just making a comment and I'm sure she thought nothing of what she was saying. The on-campus apartment I call home (which I think is totally kick-ass) apparently doesn't have some of the amenities she is used to. Her comment got me thinking.

I don't have a dishwasher...but I have running water.
I don't have a garbage disposal...but I have the money to buy trash bags.
I don't have the best looking car...but it gets me where I need to go.
I don't have the newest smartphone...but I got mine for a penny.
I don't have a 4.0 GPA...but I'm still going to graduate.
I don't have any scholarships...but I know how to defend my beliefs.
I'm not part of a clique...but I know how to listen to different opinions without arguments breaking out.
I don't have brand name clothes...but the clothes I have fit me.
I don't own new clothes...but I'm comfortable with my own body.
I don't have the newest game system...but I have more books than my bookshelves can hold.
I don't have a large group of friends...but the ones I do have I wouldn't trade in for anything.
I haven't got much money...but I know how to save up for what I want.

I'm not sure when it became a trend to complain about what you don't have. I've got good health - I very rarely get sick. I have the most supportive family anybody could ask for and four amazing parents who I know I could talk to about anything under the sun. I've got two dogs at home, both of whom are in great health and love me as only a pet can. I have amazing talent as a writer and I have the ability to recognize my own worth. I've got a roof over my head with no worry about monthly bills since I'm in on campus housing. I have the opportunity to go to college and spent the next 15 years of my life paying back loans. I'm going to leave this place with a degree in hand, a degree I worked to earn. Why do so many people talk about what they don't have and only focus on areas they're lacking in? I don't understand it. I guess I never will.

25 January 2012

Thoughts on Good Deeds

I, like nearly everyone else on the planet, would like to think I am an inherently good person. I try to do the "right" thing and help out those around me. I try to give sound advice only when I am asked for it - which can be a challenge in itself, as anyone who knows me can tell you. (I'm too diplomatic for my own good. Lol.) I try very, very hard to think before I speak, which doesn't always work, but I'm only human.

Today, out of the blue, I started thinking about good deeds and heroes and people who do good work and leave their mark on others. This category of "good" people spans so many groups. Friends, family members, celebrities, singers, internet celebs, writers, on and on. I got to wondering: is it ever weirdly awkward when a fan comes up to a celeb, artist, etc. and says "your work saved my life." I'm sure it's flattering to hear that kind of thing, but it strikes me as a feeling that would come after the fact, especially if the person in question has never heard this particular statement before. If someone came up to me and said "something you wrote in your book saved my life" I don't know what my response would be. A statement like that suddenly puts a lot of weight on the shoulders of the person on the receiving end. Something you did literally changed someone's life for the better by ensuring they are still around. How much pressure is attached to that idea? Seriously, think about it.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be a tremendous honor, but my god it would strike me, in the moment, as so awkward! Then again, I suppose that's a part of human nature. We're trained, programmed, conditioned, whatever phrase you want to use, to shy away from such issues as our own mortality. That feeling of awkwardness when the issue of mortality is pointed out to us is a pre-programmed response. How do you fight that? What do you say other than "wow"? How many lives can one person or one work actually save? Do some people say those kinds of things in exaggeration or to bring forth that awkward moment? Do they do it in order to deliberately give more depth to the person or thing that did the "saving"?

In my opinion, not to belittle the base idea of inspiration, if the thing that "saved" you was a work created by someone else that was not deliberately created for you, I rally don't know how much the creator had to do with your being saved. You attached significant meaning to the work, whatever it may have been, and that significant meaning you brought to the work caused you to make a change in your own life. Is this a bad thing? No, of course not, but you made that choice. Nobody made it for you.

Yes, I'm probably doing a lot of generalizing and maybe being a little overly cynical. I tend to overthink things and that might be the case today. Nevertheless, there it is. Today's random thought. Hope somebody found it interesting.

22 January 2012

A very simple request

All I wanted to do tonight was get a vlog recorded. I managed that, then went to edit so I could post it on youtube, only to discover that the audio and visual were not synched at all. The camera (a logitech webcam c110) was recording my lips every three words or so, if that, while the audio raced ahead. This is the second webcam (different brands, models, and prices each time) I've purchased in less than a week and both had the same problem. This leads me to believe my computer might be the problem, but I have no idea how to fix it! I need this to work so I can vlog again! This camera has totally FTBA (forgot to be awesome). I miss my vlog!!!!

21 January 2012

An Experiment in Free Writing

Most lies are not big. They're small. They look harmless. Until they multiply. The first lie comes, a spot of jam on a tile floor, a small imperfection that needs to be covered. Put something over it. Now, a stool sits in the corner, covered with a bright floral fabric. The stool has been moved. Something has to take its place in the living room. The coffee table gets shifted, then something is added to occupy that extra space. Because it wasn't there before, it gets accidentally knocked over, the pieces swept under the rug. This creates a lump, an obstacle, that someone may trip over. A chair gets moved, its legs acting as sentries around the lump of debris. Now, there's a chair in the middle of the room. Another tripping hazard placed too close to the couch for it to be comfortable. Wouldn't it be easier to tell about that small spot on the kitchen floor than rearrange the living room? Covering a lie causes more mess. Better to tell the truth right from the beginning and take care of the problem while it is small.

A winner announced!

Congratulations to the winner of my first give-away! Robin L. Scott, I hope you enjoy your $10 Starbucks gift card! Please contact me in the next 24 hours to claim your prize.  Thank you so much to everyone else for entering! I plan on having more give-aways in the future - here and on my vlog. Keep watching!

18 January 2012

Textbook Torture

This evening, I decided to be a good college student and do some homework. Once I found my textbook. After tearing my room apart, I found it, which was fantastic because this meant I wouldn't have to spend $100 on a new copy of a book I already owned. The book in question is for my Spanish class, which I am taking as an online course and am required to complete with at least a D in order to graduate college in May. (No pressure!) After a good ten minutes (and a bad even more minutes) of searching, I finally found the unbound textbook and stuck it into a bigger binder than the one it had been in. No, I did not destroy the textbook by ripping it free of the binding. This is the new trend - unbound textbooks are, apparently cheaper and can't be returned for any kind of refund once the semester is up. Yay for keeping books you'll never need again!

Anyway, I find the book and get online and go to the site where the class is and read up on all the information and am thrilled that I now don't have to spend $100 to purchase another copy of this textbook. I got my refund check earlier today (helped pay bills at home) so I'm not flat broke, but $100 is a lot of money for one textbook! Especially when it's a book for a class outside my major field of study and outside any field of interest. I'm taking the class because they're making me. So, I go online and I look at the information and I realize I need a book key. A book key is a 19 character one time use only code that registers your copy of your book with the site. It comes with the book when purchased new. I'm pretty sure I bought my book new...but I can't find the book key.

Resume the tearing apart of the room I'd almost had cleaned. I'm looking for a piece of paper covered in printed type with the code on it that I need to register my book online. Without the code, I can't do any of my work or even see the assignments. I check everywhere - all my bookshelves, under my bed, my trashcan, even my car - but, alas, it is nowhere to be found. This also means that the solid paper and ink book sitting on my desk is of no use to me. I check the site and there's a question there. "What if I bought my book used and don't have a book key?" I check the answer - and the link provided takes you right back to the spot where you can pay $100 for a digital copy of the book, required code automated so it will work with no trouble.

I start searching the internet, ranting about the situation, and the like. A friend heard about my problem (because I called to vent my frustrations) and found a place online that sells just the book key for $30. Oh, joy! A way to save money! I purchase the code and get the code and plunk it into the site where I still have not managed to begin my Spanish assignment and it's now been an hour...and the code gets denied. I try again. Denied. I type it manually. Denied. Denied, denied, denied.

Okay. Setback. Irritating setback. Maybe I can get my money back. Oh no, wait. Because the book codes are one use only, it's in the site's rules that no refunds are allowed on those products. Does this make sense? Yes. Am I happy about it? No.

After another block of searching/ranting/searching/exercising some of my vocabulary's more vulgar selections, I swallow my pride and feel my pocket-book tighten. I have to spend $100 to buy an e-book copy of a text I already own so that I can do the required work for the class so I can graduate after six long, exhausting years. I go to the site and type in my information. My card gets denied. Twice. Because it had been used too many consecutive times in one day (what with the bill paying and such) and the activity, understandably, would seem suspicious. You know, if thieves regularly went around paying bills registered to the same address as the card they stole.

Oh, did I mention that this Spanish class is having an online meeting tomorrow for anyone who might have questions about the content of the course? Yeah. I'm essentially meeting with my professor tomorrow, albeit over the internet, and I have not managed to do ANY of the required work and, in fact have no idea what kind of work is in there because I can't get a freaking book key! Tomorrow, after class, I'm going to, again, try to give this company my $100 to purchase an electronic copy of a book I already own so that I can cram in as much work for the class as physically possible from the time my classes end at 2 and the meeting starts at 7.

This is how colleges make their money. They team up with websites/organizations/textbook companies who have no simple solutions, only sticky fingers. I can't wait to get out of here! Give me my diploma! It's been six years!

15 January 2012

Reminders, excuses, explanations

First things first: check out the links in the sidebar to the right! Clicking the first link for the giveaway might lead you to win a $10 Starbucks gift card! Keep an eye on my blog/vlog (you're reading one, the other is linked up on the right) for more giveaways once I get money!

Current giveaway entrants, if you tweet the giveaway, please make sure you return to the entry each day you tweet so that your tweet can be recorded as an entry because if you don't those tweets will not help you raise your probability of winning! Thank you so much everybody for entering! You're all amazing!

Moving on.

I spent part of yesterday roaming around campus with the intention of vlogging. My netbook (the teeny laptop with the built in webcam and very little storage space) didn't want to connect to the internet in my apartment and I didn't want to try and figure out the issue. Therefore, I had to walk the three blocks to get to campus where I could pick up a wireless signal. My theory was that I would pick up a wireless signal and then record a vlog entry from either my iPhone or my netbook.

My theory was severely flawed.

As I discovered, campus was dead. Like, dead dead. Classes start on Tuesday and this weekend everything, everything, EVERYTHING is closed. The library was closed and the student center was closed and the dining hall was closed and it's really creepy to be walking around this moderately sized college campus and see NOBODY walking around ANYWHERE. Well, I did see some people, but they were on a tour of the campus, which told me they were not yet students and caused them to fall from my radar. Okay, it wasn't quite that literal nor that immediate because I'm really not that rude, but hopefully you get my point.

After roaming and prowling my apparently abandoned campus, I settled in to do some vlog recording from my iPhone, which I don't like because it formats weirdly. Yes, I could have used the netbook and let it run off battery power, which would have allowed me to also edit my video before posting it and would have led to no bizarre formatting, but I didn't want the netbook to just run off battery power and with my luck it would die.

I also had no idea what to vlog about.

Interestingly, in my mind, this was the lesser problem. You would think it would be more of a pressing issue, but it wasn't. Instead, I roamed campus some more and wondered at its complete emptiness and lack of visible life. There were times I was thoughtful, like "this is the last time I will be walking around campus on the Saturday before a semester begins because after this I'll have to go into the real world." And then I would wonder what I was going to do out in the real world and why the "real world" has been turned into such a significant phrase. At other times, I would look around and think things like," my god, it's beautiful outside; where is everybody?"

Long story short: I didn't vlog because I didn't know what to say and couldn't find a good place to record. Now that this blog is done, I need to get to the more important things I'm ignoring, like the clean clothes in my closet that are awaiting hangers.

Comment, follow, check out my other ramblings (in both text and video form) in the links to the right and don't forget the giveaway!

13 January 2012

Getting to the Point

As I approach my final semester of college, I find myself wondering about stress. How much of it will I be facing? What sort of jobs will I be given in the two theatrical productions remaining in my collegiate career? What extra work will be required of me as I face an advanced directing class, a theater management class, a spanish class, and a speech class? How much free time can I find for my own writing? Will I ever find my textbook for spanish or will I be forced to purchase a new copy? That would suck. Stay tuned to learn the results of my search.

There's not much that can stop all these questions and concerns, but I'm working on keeping myself calm. All in all, the things that best calm me down are reading and writing. I just finished reading a remarkable book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and his stream of consciousness narrative style is helping me to explore that idea more in my own writing. You remember my previous post on writing routines? As a writer, a reader, a technician, and a college student, I have trouble functioning without my coffee. I'm sure other people have this problem. Well, if you do, never fear! Just try for my give away.

Redesigned logo used from 2011-present.
Image via Wikipedia

Yes, I am doing my first give away. The prize, now that you've sloughed through my above rambling and round about way of thinking (welcome to the ADD mind!) is a $10 pre registered gift card to Starbucks. Instructions to enter the giveaway can be found below. The drawing will be on Jan. 21, 2011. Good luck! I'm off to get more coffee. a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 January 2012

Home again!

Well, as the title of this entry implies, I've made it home. I missed my little apartment and I'm going to miss it even more when I graduate and they make me leave. There was an unexpected shock when I arrived and learned that my roommate from last semester left. Living room walls empty, her room totally bare, and all her belongings gone. I think she's still in the complex because her car is parked next to mine. I guess she moved in with her friend, who lives next door. I'm not really complaining, but a little heads up would have given me a clue as to what to expect.

Shortly after this shock, I checked my email and learned that I'd be getting a new roommate. Today, therefore, will be spent cleaning and trying to find out where to put everything I came home with. I know I didn't bring enough hangars for all these new clothes. I may not have enough for the ones I took to be washed. Time to get to cleaning and take some sinus meds. This weather is giving me a really bad toothache.

06 January 2012


I love my family, those I'm blood related to and those I'm not. However, I sometimes have to wonder about a few of my relations. We've been having some minor issues at home because my dog Chip, a lab-chow mix, has taken to escaping our fenced in yard. She climbs it. Because I don't want my girl picked up by the pound, we've had to put her on the chain in front of the house. She can reach our shaded porch as well as food and water, so it's no torment for her to be out on the chain if the weather's nice. Chip likes being outside.

I was less than thrilled this morning when I saw my girl limping across the yard with a grass burr in her paw. The fact that she was in the yard meant she'd been put in the fence instead of on her chain and had, of course, gotten out. The entire family was informed of this arrangement yesterday and told that Chip's on the chain punishment would last at least a week. My girl is smart and I know that she knows she's being punished. The theory is that enough time restricted to the chain will make her want to go back to the yard, where she can stretch out and walk around. However, the punishment won't work if there's no follow through from my family members. If she's caught in the front yard without the chain, the dog catcher can come pick her up and we'd have to pay money we don't have to get her out of the pound again.

Dear family, almost everyone in the house owns at least one dog. Let's all work together to keep them taken care of and safe. I don't want to lose my baby any more than you would want to lose yours. Of course, with that thought I can't help but wonder if you really care about your pets at all, never mind mine.

05 January 2012

A Bookworm on Books

E-readers seem to be the new "thing." I'll admit, I've been in on my fair share of fads in my life and I do own an e-reader - albeit an out of date one that I was given for free. I do appreciate my e-reader and I love having it, don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not going to get rid of it or anything foolish like that. However, a neighbor recently got an e-reader (new, brand name) for Christmas. Because she has the e-reader, she seems to have given up on the idea of paper-and-glue books. This baffles me.

Yes, an e-reader is light, but unless you're reading a biology textbook for fun, a book can't be all that heavy. Yes, e-readers are well lit and portable, but that big ball of fire in the sky can illuminate paper as well as it illuminates electrical devices. Call me a purist, if you like. I prefer the term bookworm. I have books on my e-reader that I do not own in print. This does save me money, but looking at my personal library, I know I'm not ready to add much. I'm already taking home a trash bag full of books (also free gifts; can't wait to get into them!) and, as such, can see where the e-reader will be taking up a lot less space in my car and on my crowded bookshelves. Those are two benefits of e-readers I can't deny - they do save money and take up less space.

Still, there are times when I want to really live the story with the characters and you can't always do that with an e-reader. A prime example is my e-reader copy vs. my printed copy of Watership Down. There are footnotes in the book, designed to explain aspects of Lapine life as the author has developed them. In the e-reader copy, these footnotes are contained where the page ends in the hard copy. What does this mean? You're reading and you come across an unfamiliar phrase, but in the e-book copy you can't find an explanation of the phrase until you hit the end of the printed page, which may not happen for another screen. The footnotes appear in the middle of the narrative, in some cases. This just makes for awkward reading.

Another example of awkward e-reader reading is when I'll run across a typo. Well, not a typo. It's more like two words were accidentally jammed together. I have to go back and re-read to figure out which words I'm supposed to be reading. This breaks the narrative and interrupts my reading - do not want!

As I said at the beginning of this blog entry, I do like my e-reader. I enjoy the ease of reading - when I don't run across an amalgamated typo - and I like that I can read multiple books at once. I like having the e-reader, but it has its place. I don't see an electronic device ever replacing my books. I mean, when's the last time you had to plug a book in to charge it before you could continue reading?

03 January 2012

Writing Routines

It's said that a lot of writers have routines, behaviors they repeat every time they sit down to practice their craft. Stephen King shuts himself in his writing room from 9-5, viewing it as his job. Some writers have special emblems or totems or "lucky" clothing. Some only hand-write while others only type. If you think about it, we can be just as superstitious a group as actors. (Some of the actor superstitions I've encountered include an actor who repeated the same pre-show routine from the first tech run to the final curtain to the point he arrived at the same time each evening, left at the same time, and did the same things in the same order. I knew a pair of actresses who would only let one technician tape their mics in place because that was the tech who did it during the first dress rehearsal.) Enough about actors. On to some of my writing habits/routines.

Hot Beverages This habit, I believe, is a throwback of learned behaviors from NaNoWriMo. When I sit down to write and it's not school related, I have to have some hot caffeinated beverage within reach. Even if I completely ignore it til it's ice cold, it has to be there from the start. I end up drinking it cold 90% of the time. Lol.

Energy Drinks If I don't have coffee, I'll reach for my energy drink of choice - Monster. There's not much like the feel of wanting to get up and not letting myself do it. When the only way I can burn excess energy is through my fingers moving across the keyboard, man do I get a lot written!

Change Scenery There are times, I just need a change of scenery - for myself, not my characters. One of my best writing days was in a coffee shop during NaNoWriMo. I wrote over 6k words that day. It's amazing what a simple change of scene can do for your mind.

Handwriting When I'm handwriting, it has to be lined paper and it has to be black ink. That is all.

Talk it Out Proof that most writers are a little nuts. I'll sit and discuss dialogue with myself, talking it all out and visualizing the entire scene.

Dare to Write Badly or The What If Universe When I talk things out, I often come up with a lot of things that, while entertaining to write, I know will never fit the story or the characters. So what do I do? I write it anyway and get rid of it later. Sometimes, it's one small moment in the impossible scenario I've dreamed up that will spark the next legit scene in the story.

Write or Die An amazing online program, a lot of my friends think I'm sadistic because I use Write or Die on kamikaze mode - this means that if I sit with the program open for too long without typing, the program will start to automatically delete words. Talk about incentive.

BICFOK The best advice I've ever received - tied, of course, to NaNoWriMo. BICFOK isn't the newest swear word; it's an initialism. Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard. Sometimes, that's the only way to get things done - sheer force of willpower.

"One hasn't become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological, and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating." -Niyi Osundare

02 January 2012

Salmon Patties - a fantastic recipe

I thought I'd put together a nice quick blog post today, so I'm going to share one of my favorite recipes. It's kind of my signature meal at home and I love making it. What is it, you ask? Salmon patties. They're super super easy to make and they taste delicious. Here's the recipe.

Ingredients: 4 cans alaskan salmon (any brand)
2 eggs
1 sleeve of crackers
salt & pepper to taste

Makes 2 dozen patties, depending on size

First step: open and drain the salmon (if you own cats, put the juice in a bowl or over their food - they'll love you!) then prepare to debone

Deboning takes a lot of time, but I always make a point to do this. To be fair, if you don't debone, it won't be a huge deal. The bones get soft and kind of powdery if they cook in, so it's not like anybody's gonna choke. Still, I suggest getting your hands in there and picking out all the bones. I also remove all the bits of skin. and, yes, I said use your hands. It's the only way to be sure you've got everything out.

Second step: make sure all bones/skin have been removed from all salmon

Third step: crack eggs into bowl

Fourth step: crumble crackers in sleeve, then add the crackers to the bowl

Fifth step: Mix it in! Again, I suggest using your hands. It won't kill you, I promise. ;)

Sixth step (optional) add salt and pepper to taste

Let the mix sit in the fridge at least half an hour

While the mix is sitting, pour no more than 1/2 inch of oil in a pan and put it on the stove to heat. Once it's popping, start forming patties with the salmon and fry them up. No breading or anything is needed. This recipe is so easy and a sure hit if you're a fan of salmon. Try it out!

01 January 2012

Updates from 2011

Well, here I sit at the kitchen table with a glass of wine in my hand. I'm typing this blog entry up on my iPhone 3GS and liking the convenience. This November, I secured another NaNoWriMo win with a final word count of 58,912 words. I'm going to try to get more writing done this year, as well as more writing in general, and more vlogging. I got a set of workout DVDs for Christmas. Between those, my running, and my swimming, I can't imagine how many calories I'll be burning. I need to watch what I'm eating so that I don't lose weight in my attempts to get in shape. These are a few of my goals for 2012. I'm also facing my last semester of college and that, frankly, scares the hell out of me. I've got to get through the semester intact. Wish me luck.