Monday, August 1, 2011

Do you have an addiction to favorite-ing?

I had a bad habit. But it was a habit that I started to remedy another bad habit.

Oh boy.

I've found Google Reader and Twitter as awesome ways to aggregate content from the web. I read more world/national/local news, interact with people interested in my interests and I even learn a thing or two!


Then it became overwhelming. The trite but true complaint of our connectedness--information overload! I used a reader and Twitter to organize information that I didn't even know I'd love to at least skim. After I felt like I couldn't keep up I found one of a few ways to organize the content even better:




"Favorite." "Starred." These were the oh-so-lucky items and tweets that I found the most intriguing; I would share them, reply to the writer, or just keep it in my treasure chest of content that I'd return to for a laugh or intellectual stimulation.

I got addicted to favorite-ing.

I knew that there were...hundreds of items I marked myself for my own attention. I knew that some of them were too out-of-date to share at this point. I was afraid that I forgot about one item that would have been a great blog post because it hit a point that I've been thinking about forever.

The diet begins
Even in my effort to not be sitting in a chair for more than half of the hours in a day, I first made myself sift through all the tweets I favorited. They weren't as many as I thought would hurt but they did go far back in time. Some were just interesting so I kept them as Favorites. Some were news pieces that were outdated and just weren't relevant to me anymore. I wanted to reply to some but it seemed like it would seem odd to people if I replied to their tweets many months after the fact. But I did reply to some.

I try to be more proactive about what I find interesting. I still star interesting tweets but try to give them attention later that same day or even at the end of the week.

As for my Google Reader, I don't even want to know how many Starred Items I have. I'm intimidated by just looking at the Trends for the past 30 days:


I have started dealing with the items I star in a more timely manner. I'm still wondering what those items are that I starred way back in 2009...

Do you have an addiction to "favorite"-ing in your reader, Twitter feeds or even your browser?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In honor of brewsfest/beerfest/oh, whatever!

I'll be missing brewsfest/beerfest this year so here are some memories from last year's Summertime Brews Festival in Greensboro, NC:
  • One of the first things you must have noticed this year: the tasting glasses were MUCH smaller!
  • You think you'll get there early enough to avoid a line but you're almost always wrong.
  • You don't make the effort to say "Summertime Brews Festival". It's cut to "brewsfest" or the ever generic "beerfest". By the way, I want to watch that movie.
  • You get your fill of beers before the first hour's over but then last call seems to come too quickly after that!
  • The lines for everything aren't really as long as they seem.
  • The meadery meads were gross.
  • We saw the guys in kilts again.
  • For some reason I think I am impressing Chris when I can say the phone number of Bluebird Taxi from memory at lightning speed. It's not that impressive. Useful info, but not impressive.
  • What was that company that was selling rides home or something? They had a booth right before we got our glasses. They were...orange.
  • Two words: mike's Margarita. That was the end-of-the-night watering hole though we didn't get invited to any parties in Thomasville.
  • I got souvenirs!
  • I needed souvenirs because I dropped and shattered my tasting glass!
  • It was a shame that I broke my tasting glass. Perhaps it was even more of a shame to drop it after we already left the coliseum?
  • We meant to call Chris Howell, but I don't think anyone did. Now that's a shame.
  • Thank you to my friends that highly recommended going to the restroom. For some reasons I thought I didn't want/need to go but afterwards I felt like a new woman.
  • It was kind of sad that a lot of us didn't recognize any of the millions of people in line when we first got there but once inside we saw a few people we knew. I don't think anyone really decided whether only "a few" was a good thing or a bad thing.
  • A lot of us ended up having full-fledged conversations with people we didn't know.
  • I loved rinsing out my glass.
  • Little John's Tattoo was there. The had brochures on permanent makeup and I wanted to pick one up but I was too scared. (?)
  • This is beerfest, not Greene Street. No need to dress up, ladies.
  • Well, you can dress up if you dress up like that guy in the white suit.
  • Some woman kept calling the guy in the white suit Zach...as in Zach Galifianakis. That was kind of weird. (See below)
  • I was a shame to veganism that night. A real shame. I think I almost cried about it.
  • Emily dropped her bag in one of those buckets of beer under the water jugs. Now that was gross. Sorry, Emily.
  • We did stop by Jake's Billards afterwards.
  • I did try to stay out of the "Should we get free hot dogs or just get Domino's?" conversation.
  • Before stopping at Jake's, Laura and I stopped by The Coffee Break. I mean, I really wanted some baked goods.
  • Now all there is to do is wait for next August, Greensboro. Did I miss anything?
But, no! Beerfest is in July this year which sorta mussed up my plans to go. Pout. Oh, well. Maybe next year! Enjoy the memory below:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Building a summer/life reading list.

I recently read a book.

Sadly, that is amazing news in my life. I mean, I read but of course I hardly read anything that's not on a monitor anymore. I enjoy magazines and physical newspapers make me feel nostalgia/all retro (too soon?). I need to get back to one of humanity's coolest innovations: the freaking book.

So far on my list I have:
Eh, that's a shorter list than I thought I had. I'm sure I've bookmarked other interesting titles somewhere...

Any suggestions?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vegan Fourth of July Menu Musings: A Brainstorm

It's getting all summery all around and the red, white and blue have been popping up all over the stores as we prep to remember on Memorial Day and unofficially ring in summer on the fourth of July.

We plan to host a little get-together on Independence Day and two complimentary urges popped into my head:
1) To plan ahead and make plans for vegan dishes that I can have for myself and have to share in addition to the non-vegan dishes we'll have.
2) Calm the pangs wedding withdrawal by planning this event!

I've been jotting down some dish ideas and will share them with you along with links to inspiring recipes. I am attempting to have all-American-ish ingredients and dishes while keeping things fresh, fun...and nutrient-dense? Well, let's see:

  • Chili. Based off this go-to recipe we slightly adapt but looking for alternatives. I want to use something other than tortilla chip to eat this with. i was thinking of a bread but not sure what... I'd like some slices of avocado for garnish to this. I l-o-v-e avocado.
  • Grilled romaine with Caesar dressing and croutons. Hey, it's something grilled! I tried grilled romaine at a restaurant recently and loved it! I finally found a good vegan Caesar dressing, too, which is great because in the past year or so, I've become obsessed with Caesar salads. I never ordered them before and I'm not sure why I ordered it the first time but I'm glad I did! It's basically not vegan so this PPK recipe was a gem when I made it a while ago. It tasted odd at first but after letting it sit in the fridge for a bit, it was awesome! That was a carb-alicious weekend...I ran out of lettuce so I ended up eating all of the dressing with a loaf of Italian bread! Speaking of bread, I'd plan on making the croutons, too.
  • Grilled corn. Duh.
  • Watermelon. Duh, part 2. Just the fruit or a watermelon "cooler".
  • Fresh lemonade.
  • Homemade iced tea. Not sure if I want to do the black tea, which I love, or an iced green tea, which I made once and loved. Or an iced ginger/licorice tea...mmm.
  • Jack and ginger. IZZE ginger (yum!) and a Tennessee whiskey.
  • Peanut butter mousse mini tarts. Using the peanut butter swirl recipe on Healthy Happy Life. Thinking of how to incorporate chocolate or bananas, maybe.
  • Jel dessert. I was so happy when I found a Jello-ish dessert that is vegan. This photo was an inspiration and I prepared a similar preparation for a dinner party once with the orange flavor (orange jel in martini glasses with suspended raspberries). I feel like I should prepare the strawberry flavor but I like the orange flavor so much more. Well, I can make another strawberry dish and the orange will rep Florida?
  • Homemade sorbet or vegan ice cream. Just broke out the ice cream maker this weekend! the freeze bowl is in the freezer at the moment so I'll test out my skills in a bit here. Thinking of a strawberry sorbet. Something smooth. I have a recipe for blueberry sorbet but for some reason blueberry sorbet sounds weird to me! Thinking of rhubarb, too. Not sure if it's "in season" in July but I had rhubarb sorbet yesterday and it was DELISH!
I'd like to incorporate these elements if I can think of something simple/clever to do with them:
  • avocado
  • strawberry
  • blueberry
  • cupcakes (minis perhaps?)
  • chocolate chip cookie dough...er...I mean, cookies?
  • mini tarts
  • root beer
  • cherries
Any thoughts, ideas, tips?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Recipe: Mango-peach smoothie; non-dairy milks

Yay for breakfast. Do yourself a favor and make a mango-peach smoothie. Updated, 4/11/11: use 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk--instead of one cup--(I've used both organic soy and almond), half a cup or frozen mango chunks, about 4 slices of frozen peaches, one banana and a bit of fresh ginger if you're feeling sassy. Updated: throw in some strawberries, frozen or fresh!
I've been meaning to learn more about soy and the arguments against it and for it, if that's what the situation really looks like: a battle over soy. I don't know what agenda either side of the argument have but for now I am sticking to what I think common sense + marketing + advertising has got me thinking: buy organic soy products and try non-soy products.
I don't like to drink non-dairy milks nonetheless dairy milk. Ok, maybe even less would I like to drink dairy milk. I'll stick to water and juices (and champagne), thank you. However, I do use non-dairy milk beverages in baking and smoothies for the most part. I've recently started purchasing almond milk and it seems to work well as an alternative to dairy milk--and soy milk--it recipes.
I've psyched myself out on almond milk. I make myself think it's "different" from soy milk, not as good as soy milk. What the heck? Maybe I'll become a bit more adventurous in the non-dairy milk aisle. Oat, hemp, rice...
Anyways, here's to spring, the perfect time to start making those smoothies!
 ***
Here's one review on non-dairy milks. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

How have you responded to the current situation in Japan?

GiveWell has posted it's responses and recommendations (posts on 3/11 and 3/15) in regards to the ongoing difficulties in Japan. GiveWell articles are sometimes hard to digest for the first time, especially during heightened times of awareness due to recent news of tragedy, but their analyses offer a fresh perspective that may help us be more effective as a part of doing "good" in the world.
The posts also link to specific and general information on donating for disasters on Good Intentions Are Not Enough. In the wake of situations where it seems like time is of the essence, perhaps time is what we as observers should take before taking actions. As connected as we can be with today's continual media coverage, two of the best things we can do is stay well-informed of what is going on during a natural disaster that affects any population and to keep those people--individuals, friends, families, societies--in our thoughts.
With all that said, GiveWell understands that we emotionally donate and want to be a part of "something". With that, I recommend This Paper Ship's Thousand Paper Cranes and Cherry Blossoms prints. They are sentimental pieces and perhaps can be bought as gifts. Part of the purchase price goes to the American Red Cross. They are $20 each. This Paper Ship is a local design business in Greensboro.
Personally, I have two friends from the United States that are working in Japan and I immediately thought of when I heard the news of the earthquake and tsunami. I've met various Japanese students at UNCG during the years I was there and thought of them as well. My friends and I shared news we heard of our friends abroad and we are keeping abreast of the news from Japan and how it is affecting the people and place there and the world as a whole organism.
How have you responded to the current situation in Japan? Do you have friends or family that have been affecte, directly or indirectly? How have you personally been affected? Do you get your news on the disaster(s) from one, a few, or as many media sources as possible?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How do you consume public broadcasting? (Subtitle: My first #twibbon!)


I'm using Twibbon for the first time. I was inspired to use a twibbon on Twitter and Facebook through the 170 Million Americans campaign to "save public broadcasting". I personally like this because I have recently decided to maintain one profile photo across social networks that looks relatively current and the twibbons let me switch things up without too much change and with supporting a cause online.

On long drives, I always search for the local NPR station. PBS can't help but be intriguing. Show your support for public broadcasting; learn why and how at http://www.170millionamericans.org/. Like PBS and 170 Million on Facebook. Follow @PBS and @170million on Twitter and #savepublicbroadcasting.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why I failed (but not really) at #SMFS.

Danielle Hatfield (@dhatfield) posed the challenge to have a social media free Sunday this past weekend. As I was wading through the many tabs I had open in Firefox and Chrome, going between Hotmail, articles, my Google Reader and the like, I noticed the prompt in my Piedmont Triad Twitter list in one of my Hootsuite streams and thought, Why not?

I didn't know if there were any rules about Sunday. I thought it was a pretty simple concept. I hadn't read Danielle's blog post on how to unplug until after Sunday.

Now, #SMFS has come and gone and I will admit that I failed at it. I admit this while also considering the circumstance that I failed at a test that didn't exist to me.

Why does it mean to be free of social media? Even Google Search didn't seem to get the concept. Between the time I learned about #SMFS and the actual #SMFS, I had these vague plans of what I'd do on that Sunday. I, of course, thought, Oh, well I just won't go on Facebook or Twitter...or Hootsuite for that matter. Easy right?

Well, that plan is pretty straightforward. However, nowadays we are so connected through devices and apps and we constantly want to share. What of that should be excluded on #SMFS?

Some people are surprised to find out that I don't have a smart phone. I'm not really surprised at myself; I can't afford a smart phone! If I did have one, though, I am sure #SMFS would be more difficult. It would let me cheat. Wait, no, that's not cheating. Accessing your social networks though a smart phone is a pretty direct method of staying in the loop. That's just failing at #SMFS. With my "dumb" phone, however, I did sort of cheat.

What happened on Sunday?
I woke up on Sunday at 5AM. I know, pretty early, right? So early that I get bored because there's usually no one else to talk to! I go to my new computer desk with my new flat panel monitor and start the computer up. My laptop is sitting on the table beside me. I check my cell phone and see that I have new text messages, letting me know that from 40404 I have new mentions on Twitter and that Facebook has sent me my notifications via SMS.

I put my phone away and get on the computer. I open more than one tab at a time in my browser to check the usual: Google Reader, Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook and Hootsuite. All at once. I take my phone back out and delete all the text messages to free up space for more updates via SMS and the occasional texts I get directly from friends.

It's right before 6AM and I realize, It's #SMFS! (Yes, I sometimes think in hashtags.) I already failed and the sun hasn't even come up yet!

I paused and took a breather. I cut myself some slack. I said, Ok, I've already sort of failed so...I'll start my #SMFS when the sun comes up!

Sunrise. Around 7AM. Still online. Dutifully going through my Google Reader. That's what weekends are for, right?! Running errands like cleaning out your reader! Ok, I slipped up. Avoiding social media isn't easy, I reason. It's work. There's an idea! Make #SMFS a work day! meaning...what? Meaning, well, as you know, that the workday will start at 9AM. Two more hours.

I starred some funny comics in my reader. I ade my last Facebook comment at 8:59AM and was way too proud of myself. 9AM came and I left for breakfast. Breakfast was about 5 feet away from the computer desk but was a busy enough task that I really did step away from "the world at my fingertips".

Back online at 9:07AM.

#sunrine #procrastination #fail
I only succeeded at being social media free on Sunday when I was out of the house. Again, I don't have a smart phone so if I am not at a physical computer, I will probably have no access to social networks, email and the like. I can receive and reply to tweets on my cell phone but I didn't when I was out of the house. I can receive Facebook notifications on my cell phone, too, though I can't reply to them.

I told myself that I was out of the house almost all day on Saturday, away from social media, so that will count as my #SMFS(aturday) (or I could at least average the two days!).

I thought, Ok, I can be away from the social networks but what about sharing? When I run through my Google Reader, I often email interesting posts or share them easily on Twitter or Facebook. Or, I bookmark things with the intention of sharing later. Or I star them. I even scheduled tweets in Hootsuite and made myself believe that that didn't count.

Should I have done the extreme and just shut everything down? Close the laptop, shut down the computer, put the phone on silent, or better yet stop the service of SMS notifications? It seems like extremes are the usual suspects for failures, like the extreme and restrictive diet. But with being online, it usually works--even for me. I've looked at the clock at night and said, It's 10PM. Slam! Laptop goes down. Even if I was in the middle of something, I seem to let it go and it feels good! I shutdown the desktop computer and all those electronic, fuzzy, eerie sounds of the computer and monitor running go away. I go to sleep with intent, without being sleepy and without eyes strained from a pixelated life.

Now, #SMFS has come and gone and I will admit that I failed at being social media free. But, again, I admit this while also considering the circumstance that I failed at a test that didn't exist to me. I have to think through my situation, my circumstances, and my habits to find out how I can not only give myself peace from social media but from other things that make up that invisible tether to the computer desk. I'm the kind of person that gets anxious when she hears a landline phone ring and can let a cell phone call go to voice mail so I can finish the task at hand. How can I let myself unplug from the online world? I'll have to make up my own test and be diligent and responsible to myself.

I mean, when was the last time I read a good book?

(And not just listen to a book review on an NPR podcast of a book that seemed pretty good and then Googling or Wikipedia-ing the plot of the book until I ended up on an article about how celery really doesn't have "negative" calories.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A couple of the Sandman brothers are doing some crazy things for some good causes.

A couple of the Sandman brothers are doing some crazy things for some good causes.

Chris Sandman (@chrissandman) is participating in PlungeFest, the 15th annual Polar Plunge benefiting the Maryland Special Olympics. Chris' individual fund-raising goal is to raise $500. Support Chris' cause with your donation.

Joel Sandman is shaving his head in in support of children with cancer who typically lose their hair during treatment, while raising critical funds for childhood cancer research. As a "shavee," Joel will be shaving his head on behalf of the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Joel's individual fund-raising goal in $1,000. Support Joel's cause with your donation.

Thank you! Chris is my fiance and Joel is my brother-in-law-to-be. I myself will be watching Chris at the Polar Plunge in the polar cold on Saturday, January 29th. I better get my cold-weather-spectator outfit ready. Once again, I've bought a new par of gloves this season and I've lost one glove of the pair. Oh, tradition.