Something(s) I’ve been thinking about lately:
The other day I was perusing through Jenna Marbles’ blog and came across a video interview, so I clicked to watch it. When the Jenna Marbles interview ended, a video titled “When should I have a baby?!?” began to play.
The video starts and the hosts begin discussing when they decided they were ready to start having children. My ears perked, as the women on this show began having children a very young age. The truth is, I’m continually blown away by people my age and younger having children. How do college students/recent college grads afford to have children? I also don’t quite understand the desire for children at this point in life, but that’s another topic for another blog (as well as a matter of opinion).
By the 14 minute mark, I think there was actually steam coming out of my ears. I was perplexed. For the rest of this post to make sense, watch the following clip between 13:15 – 14:20.
My first reaction: “How do you think it’s completely acceptable/are advocating for using government-funded programs to pay for groceries/classes/diapers/etc. if you want (not need) to have a child before you can afford one? Wow. My mind is actually blown right now.”
My reaction stems from how I was raised. I was raised with the following principles: work hard, earn a salary, live within your means, and plan ahead. I knew that government assistance was available, but only was to be used as a last resort due to circumstances outside of my control (i.e. unplanned medical costs, emergencies, etc.). I never thought: “I think I want (not need) ______ (a baby in this case). Although we can’t afford it/didn’t plan for it, I want it now, so we should just go ahead and have one now instead of planning/budgeting. We’ll just have the government pay for groceries, classes, diapers, etc.”
My thoughts: People find themselves in emergency situations outside of their control. And sometimes even the best planning/prepping/saving cannot prepare one for unforeseen expenses. And it sucks. For these types of situations, I feel grateful for our system and am happy to pay taxes to fund these organizations that offer help. (Knock on wood, but who knows? One day I might need it). However, when I watch videos like this, then look at the net vs. gross income that shows up on my paycheck, I get
I get frustrated/angry, as I see this as an example of people misusing the system for selfish purposes. It’s clear that some people, such as the woman in this video, don’t share my viewpoint. Not only do we not see eye to eye, but it seems that she believes these types of programs and services are in part for young couples wanting to have children who are not yet able to afford them.
So with that said, I’m curious. I’m curious what you all think about this? Are her ideas of how organizations such as WIC correct? Should one be able to take advantage of government-funded programs if one voluntarily puts themselves into a situation? If so, why? If not, why?
I would consider myself to have a fairly mild personality; however, there are a few things I’m pretty passionate about and well…recycling is one of these things. This most likely stems from growing up in the ridiculously crunchy granola eco friendly recycling obsessed Pac NW. Many Pacific Northwesterners have similar mentalities regarding recycling: you do it, you love it, not recycling isn’t an option, and if you throw something out that could be recycled and/or composted, you’re most likely going to hell. Here in Austin, there’s a similar mentality. Even my host family in Mexico was extremely pro-recycling.
So, the other day I was Facebook chatting with a friend, Ofir. I met Ofir this past summer when I was in Israel – he was one of the Israeli soldiers that joined our birthright trip. (And by the way, I know I haven’t blogged about my Israel trip yet…I’m still trying to sort out my thoughts; however, I will give away one spoiler alert – hands down, my favorite part of the entire trip was having the Israeli soldiers and students join our group. They provided an entirely different dynamic for the group and truly made an already incredible trip even more amazing. More on this later.).
While in Israel, I ended up having many conversations with our Israeli soldier and student friends about differences between life in the US and Israel, cultural differences, stereotypes we had of one another, etc. One day, we were walking down the street in Tel Aviv and I noticed this giant metal structure filled with plastic bottles. I realized I didn’t know much about recycling in Israel, so I asked Ofir about it.
He said that although the concept of recycling was catching on, it still was fairly new and not completely accepted/prioritized. Ofir asked me about recycling where I’m from so I gave him a brief overview. He then asked me about the water bottle I had (it was one of those Nalgene-style bottles) – I explained the concept of one reusable water bottles vs. continually recycling plastic bottles. After my overview and this water bottle conversation, I pretty much assumed he viewed me as some crazy tree hugging crunchy granola composting hippie earth child. (:
Anyway, back to my original topic of conversation – my Facebook chat with Ofir. So, during our chat, the following conversation happened. I know this might make me appear to be a super crunchy granola and well…yeah, I guess it’s totally true. Perhaps it’s silly to get so excited about something like recycling plastic bottles, but well…I don’t think so! When I read when he wrote, I was pretty much bouncing out of my seat with excitement!!! Here’s our conversation:
There’s something about airports…more specifically, airplanes, that cause so many of us to lose any ability to function with rational thought and/or logical behavior.
I was recently on a flight – it was one of those small regional jets. One of those small regional jets with overhead compartments that can accommodate an item no larger than a medium sized purse, at best. On these flights, people with the roller carry-on suitcases generally gate check their bags, i.e. they avoid luggage fees by dragging their suitcase through the airport, waiting for airline staff to tell them the bag is too big, then having their bag complimentary checked at the gate. It’s a pretty not-so-sneaky way for passengers with the small bags to avoid fees.
Anyway, I’m in the line to board the plane. You know, the line that everyone rushes to get into and ends up standing in the same spot for about 20 minutes while those in front take an insane amount of time to get situated in the plane. The guy in front of me was middle aged, 5′ 9″, pushing 200 pounds, had longer than average/slightly greasy hair, thick hipster glasses that might or might not have been prescription, and a large sports coat. His carry on item looked something between one of those small roller bags that fit in the overhead compartment of a regular sized airplane (which ours was not), a briefcase, and an old-school video camera case. Basically, it was way to big to fit on the plane.
We approach the plane entrance, he takes three to four large steps, reaches down, grabs his suitcase and lunges it with all his might up and into the overhead compartment, somewhat like a shot put. He sees the bag will clearly not fit – especially as he is trying to jam it between 2 hard cased bags that are already up there. He throws his bag down on the ground and tries to forcefully shove the two side bags to their respective sides to make room. In my head I’m thinking: A. “Sir…I’m no math/science person…but I do understand the basic laws of umm…the world…and can almost guarantee you that pushing two solid objects into one another will not create more room.” and/or B. “You know you CAN have that bag gate checked for free, right?”
Alas, I keep this unsolicited advice to myself and watch him reach down once again and launch his bag into the overhead bin. At this point, he starts furiously punching the bag into the bin with all of his might. Greasy hair flying all over the place, hipster glasses bouncing all over his nose. He’s putting his whole body into it at this point. I can tell the man sitting in the seat below this commotion is highly uncomfortable, though I’m not sure if he’s more concerned for his safety, or more grossed out/in shock by the hipster man slamming his body into the seated man’s chair, with every punch thrown at the bag. After about 20 seconds of punching (which is a long long time for this type of situation), the bag is finally wedged in the overhead compartment, the hipster man rips off his jacket, takes his seat, and I proceed down the isle.
I was recently interviewed about my thoughts on new media…a topic of interest, one could say. Here are my musings:
“How does social media influence your international education job?”
As the New Media & Research Assoc. at API, social media plays an active role in my position. As many of us use social media as a main source of communication, research, etc., a significant portion of my time is dedicated to creating, managing and monitoring our online presences.
“How did you get into social media?”
In 1992, I created my first e-mail address, began blogging in 2001, created a Facebook profile in 2005 and signed up for Twitter in 2007. I studied advertising with a focus in new media, creative research and strategy. During this time, I spent a year researching social media infrastructures and developed a new social media model to support our converging online/offline communication behaviors. I’ve held various internships and jobs in the field and was one of the contributing authors to The Project 100 (a collaborative book on marketing in the era of social media). I suppose you classify me as a digital native, but the truth is, I’ve always been interested in the relationship between and convergence of humans and technology!
“What is one social media tool you cannot live without now?”
As there are so many social media tools with such different purposes, it really just depends on the end result I’m looking to achieve. With that said, one tool I’ve really found useful is Google Analytics. I’ve learned quite a bit about online behavior via analytics tools.
“What is one thing you wish you knew about social media that would have made getting involved with it easier?”
There are a handful of insights I’ve picked up over the years.
Authenticity: Be yourself, be genuine, be transparent, be interesting, be entertaining and if you do make a mistake, acknowledge it…we’re all human!
Collaborate/Connect: How can you collaborate with people in a meaningful way? How can you make it easier for people to communicate with one another?
Details: Don’t be hasty! Though the message may be brief, take time to think through what you are saying. Before publishing, take a breather. Read. Re-read. Then click send.
Measure: There is so much to learn by monitoring analytics. Quantitative results are important but don’t forget about qualitative results!
Research: Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, Digg, Skype, Blogspot, MySpace, WordPress, Flickr, Slideshare, Ning, Flickr, Delicious. Whew! Just because it’s available doesn’t mean it should be used! Make sure to research before diving in – watching, reading, listening, collecting, and conversing. What are people saying? What are people looking for?
Strategy: Of course it’s necessary to understand the functions of new media, but it’s just as important to understand people’s motives for using these platforms. New media will come and go, but human behaviors and patterns will always be around.
What do you think is social media’s biggest impact has been on international education?
The web was originally created to display static documents – more of a monologue model. However, the web has evolved into a dialog model, where social elements have been incorporated. Now, people are not just looking to “experts” for answers, but crowd sourcing their respective social networks for information.
It’s important to remember that social networks are not new. We’ve formed social circles for thousands of years. Social media merely adds an online element to our offline worlds.
With this said, I believe incorporating sociability into communication strategies has been the biggest impact social media has had on international education.
Why do you continue to use social media?
As long as the relationship between technology and people continues to evolve and my curiosity remains, I’ll continue to use social media. (:
Kim Karalekas is the New Media & Research Coordinator at Academic Programs International (API), specializing in online user experience, research, brand strategy, new media & web development. Away from work, she enjoys salsa dancing, playing the violin/piano, and geocaching. To connect with Kim: @API_KimK I http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimkaralekas Ikim.email@example.com
About 438 years ago when we were kids, my mom would say: “Don’t get me any Christmas presents – I have everything I need!” I remember thinking: “Wow…I really wish I could say the same thing & actually mean it.” I thought it was so amazing that my mom was so content with what she had. I really really really wished I could be content with what I had. It’s not that I wasn’t content…it was more that the excitement of opening a bunch of presents on Christmas morning got the best of me…as hard as I tried, I couldn’t help wanting presents.
Fast forward to 2007. Study abroad. I was allowed 1 suitcase and that was it. How was I to fit 4 months of living into 1 suitcase? FML is what I was thinking.
But I somehow did it. And at the end of my 4 month study abroad, I realized I was completely content with 1 suitcase worth of stuff. And in fact, I was even more content than before because I didn’t have to spend time maintaining all of my stuff. I got to use this time to enjoy life. I lived in a room that wasn’t mine and had my suitcase with my stuff on the floor. It was perfect.
When I came back to the states, I made a decision: I never want to have more belongings than what I can fit in my car.
In 2009 I moved to Austin. I cheated and brought 2 suitcases worth of stuff, as this move was indefinite. Everything else was left behind and none of it was missed.
So now it’s 2011, Christmastime, and retailers are going crazy. Black Friday makes me sad as I am reminded of how gluttonous Christmas has become. I googled “What is Christmas?” and this is what I found:
“The annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25″
So, Christmas is celebrating a birth. Of jesus christ. So, how does celebrating jesus translate to buying mass quantities of gifts for people who are not jesus? I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness, but I do wonder how excess and gluttony have become such a large part of this holiday season. I wouldn’t say I subscribe to a particular religion, but I will say I subscribe to common sense, educating myself, and holding myself to the morals and values I’ve established. And with this said, to me, our society’s current Christmas traditions/behaviors/expectations don’t correlate with the original reason for a Christmas celebration.
I’m not suggesting we stop giving gifts at Christmas. In fact, I’m suggesting we give gifts year-round. I give a gift when I see something that I know someone will like, whatever time of the year it might be. This is the point of a gift. The reason behind buying a gift should not be because December 25th is rolling around.
David & I did not give each other gifts this year. And I am so happy about that. I couldn’t have said this and meant it when I was a kid, but today, I really can say this and mean it. Of course I still enjoy receiving gifts – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t – but I enjoy receiving gifts when they arrive unexpected and with meaning. For now, I have what I need and that’s enough. And although I might not have a ton of stuff, I am completely content. Why? Because to me, stuff just doesn’t bring value and long-term happiness. The stuff that’s worth it to me? Memories, experiences, time with friends and family. 20 years later and I finally get it.
I ended up listening to a contemporary christian radio station the other morning. Not because I listen to contemporary christian music, but I wanted to sing along to christmas tunes and contemporary christian radio stations are gold mines this time of year.
“Silver Bells” came to an end and it was time for a commercial break. Before the commercials, there was a PSA-type announcement from the radio station saying something to the effect of: Christmas is a special holiday because jesus christ, our lord and savior was born. It’s not about the presents or materialism, but about rejoicing and celebrating jesus and this glorious day. So let’s make it a point to think about jesus alot and spend lots of time worshipping with our christian family and friends, because Christmas is about jesus, not presents!
Immediately following this PSA was a commercial for Fred Meyer, Jared Jewlers and a slew of additional retailers promoting last minute Christmas sales and extended store hours for last minute shoppers “to get those final presents for everyone on your list!”.
Anyone else find this a bit incongruous?
Driving through town the other day I came across this complete random and out of place ugly sweater sidewalk sale. Aside from the general weirdness I thought was so great, I most appreciated the unnaturally massive stuffed barney advertising the sale.
I really love reading. However, with so many life distractions, I’ve unfortunately put reading on the back burner more often than I’d like to admit. However, I’ve made it a goal to spend more time reading. Actually I’ve made it a goal to spend more time doing stuff sans technology. I will be the first to say how much I do love my technology…but I do love my IRL hobbies as well. I’m in the midst of reading 4 Hour Workweek. Perhaps this book will give me tips so I can be more efficient both on and offline.
Only in Texas. Need I say more?
When I worked at Old Navy 4 years ago, I could fit into a size small. I am more or less the same size now; however, now I can’t fit into any women’s sizes as sizing has increased so drastically. The small, medium and large tags stayed the same…the clothes are just bigger now. I’d say an Old Navy small today is probably the size of an Old Navy large cerca 2008.
Aside from the feeling of annoyance for having to shop in the kids section if I want to shop at Old Navy…I really just feel sad. If you gain weight, you get bigger clothes, if you lose weight, you get smaller clothes. Clothing companies shouldn’t make clothes bigger without changing the label. I presume this is done so people will have false hope that the bathroom scale is wrong and they actually didn’t gain those extra 20 pounds…impossible if they haven’t gone up a size at Old Navy!
I tried this dress on at Old Navy. It’s a size small but it looked like I had tried on a garbage bag with head and arm cutouts. I put the hanger in the pic for size reference. Fail.
So speaking of gaining weight, I made some sweet treats that WON’T make you gain wait, if consumed in moderation. 85% dark chocolate topped with either banana, peanut butter, or died cranberries.
I woke up this morning to find this message waiting for me. I’ll be honest – it made my morning. And now I am off to write my own letter.
So I found your senior pic you gave to me! while i was cleaning my car and I just wanted to drop in and say
1) you are a fantastic person!
2) I am so grateful for your friendship (even though we have not really talked in forever)
3) I feel like I owe you so much because you were one of the best friends ever at writing me on my mission and you will never really know how much I appreciated that and loved getting every single one
4) You are seriously so great! so dedicated! and just one of those people that is not afraid to go for it!
5) I look up to your determination and hard work at doing things, it always seems like you just got the whole world figured out, and what you want from life, and how your going to get it.
6) because of these great qualities you are one of those people that when I think about how to make my life and self better i think about you. and try and be just a little bit more like you!
7) today someone from Brazil wrote me a letter thanking me for my work and stuff down there and it made me feel so great that I wanted to pay it forward, and I hope this made you feel great too! because you are! the end!
I travel quite a bit, but am never quite sure how to write about my experiences. Perhaps it’s because during my trips, I usually see only a handful of places – airports, hotels, long stretches of highway, and schools. It’s challenging for me to completely reflect upon a place I’ve only experienced a small part of.
By the same token, this is my blog and these are my experiences. There’s nothing that says I must experience something to it’s entirety before writing about it. Plus, the task of experiencing something to it’s entirety is quite subjective.
With that said, my Reno experience:
The first thing I saw when stepping off the airplane was a bunch of slot machines. What wonderful foreshadowing for the rest of my Reno trip.
Our hotel/casino: The Nugget. My first Nugget impressions? 1980s, smoke, smoke, smoke, flashing lights, sensory overload, smoke, smoke, smoke.
I must say, I saw far too many elderly people with blank stares parked in front of slot machines, chips in one hand, oxygen tanks in the other. It made me sad to think these people were gambling away money they probably should be spending on medication, decent food and really any activity that isn’t addicting and/or mindless.
However, back to the note of subjectivity – I am judging these people’s lifestyles by my standards/perspective rather than simply appreciating the fact that just maybe this is what makes them happy.
At the hotel/casino, we were on the non-smonking floor. And yes, I said smonking. I could not quite figure out what “smonking” was; however, as the floor was filled with cigarette smoke, I figured “smoNking” and “smoking” were not synonymous.
Here’s a view from the hotel. This was taken from the side with the pretty view.
This machine will NOT accept half dollars.
One evening, we had dinner at a restaurant just off casino grounds. As we were walking back through the casino, we came across a bit of evening entertainment. Please enjoy a snippit of the “Steppen Stonz”
Our last night in Reno was spent in a different hotel, as every last room at The Nug was supposedly booked. We took a cab from one casino/hotel to the other – THAT was an experience.
It seemed our cab driver was hot boxing the cab with his cigarette smoke. He told us he moved to Reno from Mass. to get away from the cold weather and because he is a gambler. He also told us the other cab companies in town were all a bunch of “arrogant bastards”. Perfect.
The cab fare was ~$12 and I gave him a $20. He did not hand change back. Here was our conversation:
Me: “Could I please get my change?”
Guy: “Oh, uh, I thought you said I could keep it.”
Me: “No, I didn’t. Unfortunately, I’m not authorized to give you a 65% tip for doing your job.”
Ok fine…so I left off the “for doing your job” part. But seriously. I presume he’s used to people not paying attention to him not returning change, or people giving 65% tip because what the hell…they’re on vacay! Unfortunately, I don’t have that monetary luxury. Or that desire to support him and his gambling addiction.
Our next hotel. Slightly less depressing…slightly less smokey…slightly more trashy…slightly more Christmassy.
So, the new casino was promoting the heck out of their Facebook & Twitter. Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me, so I hopped online to check it out. Upon reaching their Twitter page, I saw they were giving away a pair of Wynonna Judd tickets (she was performing that evening at the casino). After a quick search, I confirmed that no one had yet “entered” this contest. So of course I replied and BAM! Wynonna tickets were mine!
I’ve never been a Wynonna Judd type of girl, so we immediately pulled up as many Wynonna YouTube videos as possible, in an attempt to “learn” as many songs as possible. Shows are so much better when you know the words to the songs.
The show was in some sort of a multi-purpose hotel basement room. I think my favorite part of the show was the crowd. I’d say we were about 25 years younger than the average aged person there.
Many people in the crowd felt the necessity to heckle Wynonna. For the entire show. Wynonna ate this up at the heckling buffet. How did she react? Oh, you know, by heckling the crowd back. Between Wynonna’s heckling & liquid courage, I would say about 1/2 the concert involved various audience members screaming complete nonsense at Wynonna. I wouldn’t have asked for anything less.
Casino buffets. I don’t even know where to begin with this. I guess I could best sum it up with 2.5 words: glutton’s paradise. Here’s what I had for breakfast. Ravioli, pasta with red sauce, green beans, rice, eggs, potatoes, bacon, strawberries, watermelon, artichoke, tomatoes and some other meat thing.
Oh wait. I can’t forget my 2nd course of breakfast: ice cream and chocolate cake. So healthy.
Although I look happy in this picture, I really am sad by how horrible buffet restaurant mentality is. I walked by people who were so big they could barely walk, but still had plates jammed packed with bacon, pastries, ham, waffels, fries, rolls, pie with whipped cream and donuts.
I’m just as guilty as the next guy as I was there, therefore technically supporting buffets. …although I like to think I redeemed myself a little because I only ate what I was hungry for, rather than downing as much as was physically possible. Regardless, it made me sad. Womp womp.
By the last day, I had hit my max on sensory load, second hand smoke & breakfast buffets, so we decided to take a walk and get some fresh air:
Y ya. Finalmente, it was time to head home. All in all, the trip was good. I saw alot, I learned alot, but I must admit…I was pretty darn exhausted by the end of the week. Happy to have experienced Reno. Even more happy to be coming home to clean air, fruits & veggies.
Upon arrival to AUS, I took a shuttle to get back to my place. As the shuttle driver dragged my suitcase to the van, he said: “Do you speak any other languages?”. My first reaction was: Hmmm. What a dangerously specific 1st thing to say to someone.
I let him know I speak Spanish. One thing let to another and I ended up learning the following in the time span of about 10 minutes: He is from Cuba. He’s been in Austin for about 10 years. He was given a visa to come to Austin through some sort of visa lottery program. He really likes Austin. He does not know how to salsa dance. He knows how to speak Italian. He knows how to speak Italian because he used to work at a hotel in Cuba where there were alot of Italian guests. He speaks a little French. He likes Thai food. Especially Thai food from Thai Passion. Need more?
Upon arrival to my place, I expected the guy to hand me my suitcase y ya. Donezo. But no. This was not the case. In addition to handing me my suitcase, the guy proceeded to hand me the mix CD we had been listening to in the car…as well as a take out menu from a Thai restaurant. (what?)
I’d like to say I was perplexed by this complete and totally random bearing of gifts…however, based on the festivities of this past week in Reno, it actually seemed to be the perfect conclusion.
This morning I was reading an article in ODE about holistic medicine – what it said just makes alot of sense:
“Health care is not a business for stock listed companies. It is about human relationships and the understanding that, given the right circumstances, the body wants to – and can – heal itself.”
Reminds me of a conversation I had with Ashly about the difference she’s seen between health care in Amsterdam vs the U.S. Said when she’s visited the doctor in Amsterdam with flu-like symptoms, the doc. usually does not prescribe medicine and rather says to drink lots of fluids, go home and sleep so the body can fight the flu off naturally.
Kinda threw me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. As much as I like the idea of getting better as quickly as possible when sick, the idea of letting my body chillax and repair itself the natural way rather than pumping myself with medication sounds alot nicer.
A little more from the article:
” . . . the fight against cancer requires more than the traditional surgery, radiation . . . the lack of breakthrough should lead to modesty and new appraoches from health-care providers.”
“This industry makes money from drug patents, not acupuncture needles. But sometimes needles are better (and cheaper) than pills, love is more effective than drugs and healthy eating has its own healing effect.”
Integrative health care – the combination of Western medicine with holistic treatments. Creating a system to include relationships, education & natural fixes rather than focusing on quick fixes, business & profit.
Our health care system has evolved into short-term fixes rather than focusing on long-term “big picture” stuff. Perhaps it’s working well enough now, but the system we have now won’t work forever.
I think it really can all be summed up in one sentence:
“You can only see the future with open eyes.”
Marc showed this to me. People are so smart.
Proud to know her – smart thoughts on human / technology relationship from Amber Case:
I’ve recently been acquainted with another Austin gem. Meet Trash Vegas, i.e. The Cathedral of Junk: