Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pinterest... not the problem or the answer

So, I have a new playground and it is called Pinterest. For those of you who don't know about Pinterest, you should maybe check it out or not, it is what I like to call visual crack. Luckily for me the iPhone app has some issues and I unistalled it, otherwise I might well be in trouble.

Pinterest is the Internet equivalent of my stacks and stacks of notebooks, full of clippings and pictures and notes. I have killed a fair number of glue sticks, creating these notebooks full of pictures I liked, looks I enjoyed, pictures I found breathtaking. I even have one for my still half written novel.

The great thing about Pinterest is you can easily share these notebooks, I mean pin boards with your friends and heck anyone who shares your interests. You can create a group board and you and all your friends, your wedding party, your BFF, or your writing group - just to name a few options here - can pin and pin and pin. Sharing effortlessly. I really wish Pinterest had been around while I was in MBA school. It would have made collaborating a bit easier. During my kitchen remodel, what a great way to keep track of my wishlist, ideas, things I liked, things I didn't like. I actually currently have a board, where I am collecting ideas for the living room project. (which may or may not ever happen.)

In all fairness, I think Pinterest is simply a better organized version of what many Tumblr blogs are at present. People are visual creatures. A picture is worth at least a 1000 words and in our fast paced culture, we see so much of our lives in images.

I have been online, in a writing capacity for about 6 years, maybe 7 if we count my very early and now deleted MySpace blog. I have had my work taken, reposted by someone, who made it out to be her own original work. It made me hopping mad. I made her take it down and I made it clear she had taken it. It was uncool.

To me this is a clear violation of the trust we all place in our fellow bloggers and writers. Write your own words or PAY someone to do it for you. I have ghost written blog posts and been paid for it. I am happy to write for pay and let someone else post it on a blog under their name, provided the check clears.

That said, I have been 17 kinds of flattered when someone has liked my work so much, that they have willingly reposted and credited me or quoted me and credited me, with a link back. This is the right way to share. The Internet was designed, I think, as a way we could share and share quickly. Since I have been beating the letter writing horse, let's think about how we shared things in the past. Through the mail. You had to tear a picture out of a magazine or an article, and this meant you lost your copy or you had to make a copy or buy a second copy, and mail it. Turn around time of this sharing event - like 5 days, give or take.

Now I can share instantly.

I spy with my little eye something shiny and I can post a link here on the Edge, on my FB, my twitter, my Tumblr (I don't really have a Tumblr, but I could...) and Pinterest in about 10 seconds. I can send a link via email.

Over the last month, I have read dozens of opinions on copyright and Pinterest and who owns what and how Pinterest is evil. I don't really think Pinterest is the problem, just as Tumblr isn't the problem and Facebook isn't the problem.

The problem is as a community, as a creative community we have been lazy about copyright issues and we have stuck with an old model, which frankly does not serve to protect us, the artists, exactly, but those who have paid for our content. When the content is free and we willingly post it to our own blogs or Flickr or website, sometimes that is one and the same, but sometimes not. I also think, that in the early days, we got sloppy. This new medium, this information superhighway offered us a direct link to readers and buyers and fans. We are now able to self publish our books, produce content and make it available in the blink of an eye. Publishers were our watch dogs, not because they liked us but because they were going to protect and hopefully recoup their investment, a few times over.

What we all failed to do, is to come up with a convention, which would make it easy to identify online - what was content which was protected and what is content, which is not. Some people watermark and some don't. Some artist watermark items for sale and have it act as an online business card, some remove the watermark after they have been paid. Without a solid convention, who is to know? For those of us who produce text, there is no way to know. Perhaps we should have picked a font as the deliminator or agreed that text with a double underline meant something had not been paid for.

Being in the drivers seat was exciting and heady stuff. Too bad, we did not think 10-15 years down the road. Broader reach means the old model is outdated. Our lack of foresight has also meant we are starring into a muddy pool of our own making.

Also as Internet users and consumers, we don't like to pay for things. We want to read quality material for free. We want to look at pretty pictures, for free. We want to look at pictures of our best friends new baby or puppy or dress or handbag, for free.

And just as magazines depend heavily on advertisers to stay in print, the Internet is powered through ad dollars as well. Someone pays to host the site, where the pretty pictures live.

I also am not unconvinced that Pinterest is a reflection of a larger issue facing social media and the Internet right now. I am not sure Pinterest ever thought that its platform would be a place where brands went to build their brand image. Maybe I am just naive. This uncomfortable balance of sharing and selling is just getting more and more complicated with each passing second.

I also think that Pinterest Users should be honest and share their sources. Link back to the creator of the photo or the publisher of photo they are reposting. It is proper blogger etiquette and it is how the net is supposed to work.

I think splitting hairs about the TOS and what constitutes ownership in this day an age of click and share and not going to bear any fruit. The playing field is different now. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and the like, have changed how we communicate with our families, our friends, our work groups and with each other, even when we don't actually know each other.

Like this article says - "Pinterest is in someways just like Xerox and a VCR."

As a creative person, believe me I am concerned about the use of my work for profit, without me being compensated or credited properly. I also want my work seen and read and talked about and frankly shared. I love when my DIY pics get re-pinned on Pinterest.

Our current copyright laws do not balance this well. The intersection of commerce and creativity have always had an uneasy marriage. As artists and as publishers - we have limited control over what happens with our products. Is selling a used book a copyright violation? What about those magazines found in the garbage and resold by the someone who found them.

The Internet has only made this intersection all the more complex and confusing.

I don't think Pinterest is the problem or the answer. Just like I think SOPA and PIPA weren't the answer either. I think it is time to figure out a crediting convention that we can all live with and I think it is time to come to terms with the fact that we no longer share information the same way we did even five minute ago. We cannot quibble with whose server has the content and the storage resolution, because in two years it is all going to be bigger capacity and more storage. We cannot quibble with whether posting a link on FB or Twitter or even Pinterest is claiming ownership, it is sharing and if the reposting or sharing mechanism are engineered correctly, platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter are a means to spread the word and share one's creative output.

If someone takes a picture or some writing or something and says it is their creative work product, when it isn't that is not only a possible copyright issue, it is plagiarism.  That is off the charts wrong. If someone shares something on a board titled "Rocking cool photos" - on Pinterest -- and properly credits his/her source(s),  that is a compliment. Be happy your picture is now highlighted by someone with 1000 followers.

Being adequately compensated for ones creative output is a wholly separate issue. I am not sure many famous artists or writers would say they feel adequately compensated. Pinterest et al, is not the problem with that paradox, nor is it exactly the answer, either.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A new series

I am having a writers identity crisis. My writers block is never the absence of ideas, it is always an overwhelming abundance. I do write creatively, but I do not post those writings here. I used to post them to my VOX blog, but VOX as a platform shut down well over a year ago. I miss VOX a bit. It is where I got my blogging start. I have copies of all I had posted there, but I have not reposted much of that content. I could - I have a blog for my alter ego, but reposting can be a chore. Maybe I will give some of the good bits again, it couldn't hurt I suppose.

My creative work routinely appears in the Naked Sunfish. It is an honor to publish with that group of talented writers. In the last few years I have only missed on issue and that was the issue around the time my mother passed away, I was just not up for writing, much of anything at that point.

For awhile, I was writing and publishing over at Stiletto Woman. I actually like writing about business. I think business is interesting. (I know right, I have an MBA.) I am a business geek in many ways, less interested in actually do business but more interesting in understanding how other people do business. I am interested in what businesses say they do and comparing that to how they actually do it.

I am also flexing my creative muscles of late. I enjoy the creation process. I used to think I had no art talent. Let's face it, I can't draw. I really can't and in school, most of our art classes where drawing intensive. Honestly, there is so much more to art than drawing. In high school, I gave up on art because I was tired of being told I wasn't an artist because I couldn't draw.

I still can't draw, but my definition of art has expanded greatly. I am committed to exploring this creative side of me. (In case the photos on this blog haven't been a clue or anything.)

Focus has been an issue for me and over the coming months, you may see some changes to the blog. (This may include a move to Word Press - I am undecided - but there are so many cool plug ins and gadgets. The cool kids often say they are on WP, I will let other cooler people decide that.) I never set out to have any focus, it was random, is random and in many ways that is its edge, it is very much where I am in the moment, I am on the edge... the edge of something great, the edge of writing something I am very proud, the edge of my parenting sanity, the edge of a project, on the edge of an idea... it really is hard to say. Sometimes the world around me, particularly popular media, news or what have you will push me to my edge.

All of that has its place. At least in my head and this is my struggle. Do I write this blog to please me or am I writing it for a given readership.

The answer is I don't know. I don't know which master I want to serve. Do I want this space to be a place where I can write what pleases me or should I become more focused for the sake of my readers (if I even have any readers.) I will admit, sometimes of late I have been testing out various social media ideas, in part to satisfy my curiosity and in part to just see what will happen. This blog is not and will not be about commanding an audience or achieving any type of social media rank. I am not looking of advertisers, not here. This is my own playground.

And sometimes I am unfaithful to this blog. I keep other blogs elsewhere. One is private and the other one is sporadic at best. That is how I have been focused in the past - I segmented in order to be focused. Weird I know...

For now, I will commit to my faithful readers and new readers and to the guy who is reading this because he got here by accident while googling Post Cards from the Edge for his mother in law, to the following reasonably regular feature. I say reasonably regular because my schedule is fluid and I do not want to tied down to a schedule.

1. Music Monday. This may not be every Monday, but I like this feature and it is fun to write.

2. Social Media - I am becoming increasing obsessed with social media and I am thinking of doing a round up on articles or providing some sort of comment about social media.

3. My DIY and Craft features. I like writing these. I like sharing my creative process.

4. Travel bits. I still owe you all some pictures of Iceland and I aim to deliver, soon.

5. Gluten free and cooking tips. This is an on an off again offering.

6. Reviews when and if I have something I want to share. I shop in sporadic bursts, there is no telling about my shopping mood.

This is the working list for now. I also think there will be another category - like other... sometimes I just have things on my mind and I am going to share it.

Phone Photo Sets Week 4 Yellow

As a general rule, I am not huge fan of yellow. For clothing I tend to avoid yellow for sure. I also thought this would be a superior challenge, finding yellow things in the winter. Not true. I am surrounded by yellow things and see yellow things everywhere. This week, the challenge was selecting my favorite four out of the over twenty photo I snapped during the week.

I hope you enjoy them.

Again, I have to say, I learned alot this challenge. I think I was trying to take pictures close up to really focus on the challenge color and if I had it to do over again, I think I would not try for close ups with my iPhone. I also found that shooting in the natural light makes for better photos overall with the iPhone.

I also learned how to zip a file on the MacBook. I know, it is a basic skill, but remember I am returning to the world of Apple from PC territory and let's just say so much has changed in the last few years.

In summation, I should stand back, get outside and zip, I mean snap.

I am going to keep on taking pictures. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter - you will see my quick shots that I do thru Instagram. I am still toying with a weekly photo montage, we will see. I am sure I will take on another challenge. It is great fun. I might still write some poems based on these shots, we will see where my Muse takes me.

And finally, thanks to Allie. She has sparked my creativity and faithfully posts our photos weekly. Thanks again for all the behind the scenes labor that goes into making this an amazing collaboration.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Music Monday: The Box Tops -- The Letter

"My baby sending me a letter" seems somehow much more powerful than "my girl, she sent me an email."

Maybe I am just biased. I am not sure.

Do people still write letters? I suppose so, there are places in the world where the Internet cannot/does not reach. Last week I volunteered in E's classroom and the teacher had me assembling booklets, so = the kids could write letters back and forth with their big buddies. She had the preformatted sheets set up like an old fashion letter, with a line for the date at the top right and two lines on the lower right for the closing remark and signature.

For a minute I was taken aback. Do we still use that format? Business letters are usually left justified these days.

I have a stack of letters H sent me back when we were dating. It was in the early days on the internet and I did not have reliable leisure time access to a computer or the World Wide Web.

I am not sure what my obsession with letters has been of late. I feel like maybe I should write more letters. Is it a lost art. I think clearly this is why the Postal Service is on the brink, well bad customer service is a major contributor, but really it is a lack of demand for their services. Other than birthday and Christmas, and maybe other Hallmark holidays, the number of letters sent seems to be steadily decreasing.

So my challenge to you this week. Write a letter, lick a stamp and mail someone a letter. It might just make their day.

As to this song. I remember hearing this song for the first time on cassette tape (yeah, something else you just don't see that much of anymore.) My mom was subscribing to a series or something of "Oldies." I am not sure what it resonates with me, but it does.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Q & A

Allie had this on her blog the other day and I decided I would go ahead and accept the challenge. I used to do these fairly frequently, both here and on my livejournal. Anyone can participate and all I ask is, leave a comment with a link to where you responded, so I can go bone up on the ins and outs of you.

  1. Post these rules
  2. Post 11 random things about yourself
  3. Answer the questions provided by the one who tagged you
  4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag
  5. Go to their blog and tell them they’ve been tagged!

1. I love eating bacon, I dislike cooking it.
2. I really am a homebody, but I enjoy traveling.
3. I think the TSA is the biggest violation of civil rights and waste of money. It makes us look foolish to the rest of the world.
4. I seem to always have overdue library books.
5. I did not do very well in middle school home economics, but I aced shop.
6. I have been listening to CD101 since their first day on air. I am still struggling with their name change... but so glad they are still around.
7. I knew where they made book and played the ponies in my hometown by the time I was L's age.
8. I do not like most floral scents.
9. H and I make the beds European style.
10.Sometimes I feel a tiny bit guilty buying used books. The author doesn't make any money from a used book sale.
11. I like all things ginger.

11 QUESTIONS FOR THE PEOPLE I’VE TAGGED (and anyone else who wants to participate)

1. If you had the day off, what would you do?

 If I had a "day off" I would sleep in, go out for tea and find a quiet place to write.

 2. Who is your favorite cartoon character?

3. What book do you display just to impress guests?

We don't have a coffee table and on the end table I haven't decided what to display. I have the books on the built ins arrange by what I have read and what I need to read. Honestly, I only keep books I like and think I might read again, otherwise I give them away or go to Half Priced Books. Life is too short for bad books and for keeping books you don't like.

4. Are you a dog or a cat person?

Cats all the way. I am just not a fan of dogs. I like others people's dogs and only then from a distance.

5. Describe an awkward high school moment?
    I cannot think of one. Perhaps I have been out of high school a tad too long now. 

    6. What part of your morning regiment can you NEVER skip?

    Brushing my teeth.

    7. What was the last album that you purchased?

    Adele 21. I mainly bought it for L, but I have listened to it a ton also. For Valentines, the kids and H gave me iTunes gift cards and I am aiming to buy some music with them. Anyone have any suggestions?

    8. How do you sign your emails?

    Before my HP laptop died, I had a very nice professional signature on my Images Written email account. I had outlook set up, just so and everything. Now I have not invested any time in getting anything set up. I guess we can add that to my long to-do list too.

    9. What’s one of your guilty pleasures?

    Taking a nap.

    10. What’s one food that you could eat every day?

    Berries. I love berries.

    11. If you could sing like anyone, who would it be?

    Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore.


      I am not sure who is blogging these days - so my facebook friends or others reading - leave us a link in the comments, as to where to find you.

      1. L (she will write hers and I will post it next week.)
      2. Any and all my Twitter or FB friends who want to play along. 

      My Questions:

      1. Name one place you would like to travel to in the next 5 years.
      2. Favorite TV show.
      3. Do you buy books or check them out of the library?
      4. Mashed or baked?
      5. Favorite pepper?
      6. If you could be an artist, what medium would you favor?
      7. World leader you would most like to have coffee with?
      8. Last book you read.
      9. Do you own an apple device? If so what?
      10. Favorite birthday meal?
      11. Do you like surprises?

      Friday, February 24, 2012

      Write me a letter

      I shot this pic a few weeks ago. I posted it to instagram and made some comments. It is a letter to my maternal grandfather from his half brother. Oliver. My grandfather was raised by his paternal grandmother in Thurman, Ohio. His mother had "run off" or perhaps more correctly left his father and return home to the Akron area. She was a career woman. She worked as a telephone operator. My maternal great-grandfather was a real peace of work, although as the story goes he wasn't much for actual work, drifting from one odd job to another.

      As the story goes Oliver was only a few years younger than my grandfather and was a happy go lucky kind of guy. Amy Jane, my maternal great-grandmother, did not stay married to Oliver's father very long at all either, if in fact she was actually married, as no one could really say if she was actually divorced from my maternal great grandfather.

      My grandfather did complete high school and worked a variety of odd jobs in his teens and early twenties. This is all in the mid to late 1920s. He drove a truck from the "hills" up to Columbus on a fairly regular basis, hauling whatever he could find. Christmas trees, coal, lumber, whatever. My cousin, who I have always thought of more as an Uncle, remembers times when they only ate meat because my grandfather had stopped to visit them and brought some, from either down home or he bought it with some of his earnings.

      Oliver apparently had been visiting the family at the time the letter was written and had found work at a beer garden or brewery in the Akron area and was explaining to my grandfather that he should come north where the jobs were plentiful.

      I am not sure if my grandfather gave this serious thought or not, because shortly after this letter was written Oliver was killed. He was struck by lightening while standing under a tree.

      Eventually my grandparents did leave Gallia County and came to Columbus. My grandfather got a job as a "fireman" on the rail road and made a living slinging coal for a number of years. He also worked second and third shift in a factory in what is now the Short North, during the war making munitions. A stick ball injury and a bum ear drum kept him out of the army. The railroad rented them a house on Central Avenue in the early years and later they moved to Grove City and bought a house of their own. This was an accomplishment for two people who left "the hills" with little more than their car and the clothes on their backs. After trying to make a living "down home" they faced the facts and moved. They had no other choice.

      Later my grandfather worked at the Ohio Penn, which is now the Arena Distract. He survived the riots and would tear up, telling the story of an inmate who shoved him in a small closet, full of mops and buckets saying, "Captain, you be a kind man and a fair man, and I don't want to see you get hurt, but if you stay out here in the thick of it, they kill you. They want you all dead."

      He did survive the riots, he was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. The man who locked him away, died in the riots. Most likely shot by corrections officers or killed by an inmate who had witnessed him tucking my grandfather away safely.

      I found this letter, tucked in with a box of my mom's sewing stuff. Why? I have no idea. I know there is a box of other letters tucked away still at her place, which is actually now my brother's place.

      This letter got me thinking. How will we keep our family histories in the digital age? I seldom keep emails, I just read them, act on them and delete them. Sometimes I keep really special notes and cards, but then again, I don't get long letters these days. Even just 20 years ago, when I was a teenager, I wrote long letters. Sometimes in English to friends in the States and much of the time in German to my pen pals and such.

      For historians, letters have been a wonderful window to the past. But what if their aren't letters? What if we have no first hand accounts of life, as normal people lived it. Will my blog survive for my great grandchildren to read? (goodness I sure hope so) With all the changes to technology and the possible electromagnet changes, servers and hard drives could be erased in a blink of the eye.

      As the pencil fades and the paper weathers, this note penned in a masculine scrawl, from a man I never met and who lived a very short life, is a piece of my family's past, which is fading away with each passing year.

      Wednesday, February 22, 2012

      Guest Blogger: L's Craft - Squishy Donuts

      Today I welcome a very special guest blogger to Thoughts from the edge, my daughter L. She came to me with a shopping list and some ideas and asked if I would take her to the craft store. After seeing her beautiful creations, I suggested she blog about the process. She agreed and wrote this post, with only minor spelling and editing assistance.

      My Craft
      by L

      I made squishy doughnuts and I wanted to tell other people how to make them!

      What you need: you will need scissors, acrylic paint, round sponges, and carpenters glue. You can get these at Michaels.

      Here are the steps you need to take to making your doughnut:

      1: If you are not making a jelly filled doughnut take your scissors and hollow the middle but don't cut all the way.

      2: Using your acrylic paints pick a color and paint your doughnut, pick a new color to make a design for example, I did a zigzag. 


      3: If sprinkles are needed use beads and carpenters glue to glue on the beads. You might have to reglue them but that's ok.

      4: Let them dry overnight. 


      That is how you make your doughnuts.

      Tuesday, February 21, 2012

      Phone Photo Sets Week 3 Grey

      I think Grey is a fascinating color. I actually like smokey greys as a color choice. I have more than a few grey sweaters in my closet. While I favor the deeper greys, the smokey color, I do like the light greys and the heathers as well.

      As I was thinking about what to photograph this month, I was thinking about shades of grey. There is silver, pewter, steel, smokey, gunmetal, light grey, dark grey, weathered grey, battleship, ash, charcoal, cadet, blue-grey, green-grey and the list I think goes one and one. Grey can be a soft shade or a harder edged shade.

      In the programing world there seems to be a few less shades than at the paint store:

      light gray


      dark gray

      dim gray

      lights late gray

      slate gray

      dark slate gray

      (from Wikipedia...


      In thinking about photography, it seems to me that Black and White photos are really all about shades of grey. In this photo challenge, in editing the photos, I resisted the urge to change the photos to B & W.

      I also do wonder which spelling is correct, Grey or Gray. I have found that in the US we favor Gray and in Britain they favor Grey and both are equally correct. So just like much of life, the spelling of grey is more or less gray area and not exactly black and white.

      I have to say, I think gray was the easiest color yet. I am currently sweating this weeks color! Yellow!!!

      Monday, February 20, 2012

      It is the company you keep, as much as the economy

      The other night, I watched the unfortunate You Tube video Rick Santorium made. All of it. All agonizing 44 minutes of it. As I have said before, I think it is bad form to criticize things or people, you have not properly vetted.

      When Newt was being called out by his ex-wife, I read alot. Herman Cain, the same. Bill Clinton, and his very public situation, the same. John Edwards. Again...

      I will say early on in the GOP quest for implosion, I had not heard of Santorium and I stumbled upon some of his thoughts on taxes and fiscal responsibility. I liked what I read, until I read more. Yikes, he makes Ron Paul look pretty palatable, and that is saying something, because on a good day Ron Paul is just left or right of crazy.

      None of this should imply that I think Obama is doing a bang up job. I don't. We have seen in the last few years some very suspect and down right scary maneuvers. The TSA has grown in power under Obama's watch, we are seeing an acquiescences to torture and the slow erosion of our civil rights. All on his watch.

      None of that is a good thing.

      And frankly, the economy is still in the toilet. No matter how you massage the numbers, the economic future isn't that rosy. We have no vision for the long term growth and development of the economy.  That debt ceiling, that is scary.

      I would say in any other year the Democrats would have at least had rumblings of someone wanting to at least run against Obama.  Not this year.

      One wonders why not... the economy isn't great, the Congress has remained deadlocked. Obama has not shown a willingness to build consensus, and honestly seems to favor the deadlock. I am not saying someone should run against Obama, I am just saying that for a Democratic upstart, the conditions are good. A splash could be made.

      The GOP could have run a pickle with a sign saying, "It is the Economy!" and had a proper showing. Sadly, they can't even manage that.

      So what is a GDI like me left with? I have only once or twice declared a party and voted in the primary.  This year won't be a third.

      News flash - I don't like either party. Neither party has a place for me. I am fiscally conservative, social progressive or a social liberal -- with a Libertarian bent. I actually think more should be done at the State level and less at the Federal level. I think abortion is a medical procedure and it is between a woman and her doctor and no one else. I think the government should not be in the marriage business and I think our tax system is for the birds. I think the two party system is broken and we need to look to the Europeans and learn something, a multi party approach will create an environment of compromise and if it doesn't - you send them packing, dissolve the parliament and vote in some new blood. I think the government should butt out of social matter, stop giving religious groups tax breaks when they engage in political campaigning and start focusing on the meat of the matter and stop being distracted by social issues.

      I think the GOP has made a fatal miscalculation. Mixing conservative values with respect to money, spending, and interpretation of the Constitution with that of social conservatism. Getting into bed with radical religious groups, will not ever get my vote. Rick Santorium's vision of a religious (ie Christian) utopia is not going to EVER get my vote. Wasting time (ie money) debating why homosexuality is against the Bible's teaching is never going to get my vote. First of all, I don't care, I don't necessarily use the Bible as my road map and secondly, it isn't the business of government what religious teaching is most valid.(And hello, there are other religious groups in this country. Lots of them. A fair number of agnostics too.) It is the business of government to ensure we have roads to drive on, a means to support the free flow of goods and an orderly commerce. Protecting our boarders and so forth. The road map that ought to guide our government is not the Bible, but rather the Constitution.

      I suppose, if Rick or Newt or Mitt can fix all the problems connected to the roads, the tax system, the subversion of our civil rights and finds himself bored, then I suppose a deeply religious and philosophical discussions of morality can ensure - but only after the real work is done.

      America is and has been off track. We are refusing to deal with the real issues and instead wasting time and millions on the non-issues. Social issues are not the business of government. The mountain of debt owed to foreign nations and the lack of checks and balances in spending, those my friends are the make or break issues. I have heard my friends making fun of Greece, judging Greece. Well... let me just say, debt snowballs quickly and the Baby Boomers, well the Baby Boomers aren't getting any younger and in case anyone was confused, when the economy tanks, the amount of tax revenue generated trends downward also.

      It isn't just that we are seeing a huge erosion of the middle class in this country, what we are seeing is the development of a new class of entitled individuals. The members of congress. They want the big bucks, the nice health plan and the retirement plan that knocks your socks off. They are above the law because they are writing the law. Newt is a prime example, I think of this thinking, as is Obama, by the way. The career politician who makes rules for the rest of us, but feels no need to be bound by it. Their grasp of personal honor and integrity is shaky at best. They are above us, the unwashed masses.

      And think about it... their livelihood depends upon it. They are not serving their country, they are gutting it. One bill at time. Looting and gutting, while beholden to their special interests and campaign contributors. Not the voters back home... they forget about us the day the polls close.

      So here is what I have to say to the GOP - who frankly my vote was yours to lose and lose it you have. For me it isn't just about the economy. It is about the company you keep and all the times that you have a chance to really take a stand, even if it is painful one and you passed. Blame the democrats for luring you into a debate designed to divert attention from the true matters at hand, you went and with gusto. Blame the liberal media, you know - there is Twitter and blogging and money talks, buy an ad in the paper - you didn't. Each and every time you have a chance to really speak up, be a true agent for change - you pass( and hold nonsense hearings instead.) If you cannot even control your own public image, divorce yourself from social conservatism - which by the way is leading you down the path of big government of a religious controlling sort - cannot show me some real passion for change. How then, can you as a party possibly get this country back on track.

      You can't.

      And let me be clear, a primary reason for this, is directly connected to the company you choose to keep.

      MyGlam: My Review

      I discovered MyGlam from my Twitter stream. It is a service very similar to Birchbox. For $10, MyGlam will mail you a make up pouch full of full-sized items or deluxe samples (which I think of purse sized versions of many products.)

      I have to say that from the beginning I was not sold on MyGlam. The website is a bit less than user friendly. I also followed them on Facebook and Twitter, which was likely a mistake. Over use of twitter was annoying and I ended up muting them via Echofon.

      When I heard they were having shipping issue with their January bags, I followed that conversation on Facebook for awhile and then quietly canceled my subscription. I was resigned to just being out my $10. I could not locate a contact me function on the MyGlam website and I decided this would a $10 lesson learned. After seeing a few not so positive reviews, I just let the matter go.

      Imagine then my surprise, when I discover this in my mailbox just the other day...

      Apparently in the flood of tweets, Facebook posts, and spammy emails, I missed the fact that I had signed up for the February Bag and not the January Bag.

      While I love the glam of the make up bag, the items in the bag were not exactly what I had in mind when I think of full sized portions of make up and skin care items.

      The kiddos ate the two squares of chocolate and I am intrigued by the creme eyeshadow, the rest of the items and the odd "gift card" did not really do it for me. I have no idea what I will do with the shine inhibitor, I haven't had that issues in years and years.

      It terms of presentation? I think they are onto something. The bag is super cute and the bubble mailer, love the shiny pink.

      All in all I am excited I actually got a bag and I am equally satisfied with my decision to cancel my subscription. I think MyGlam is more than likely not targeting us ladies in our 30s and is perfect for highschool and college and new professional ladies.

      I also think, if MyGlam is to survive, tone down the over tweeting and focus on improving your site. Your business model is great, your sense of style and piazza, fantastic, the execution and professionalism and perhaps overall focus, needs a bit of tweaking.

      All in all, I think this worked out well and I wish MyGlam lots of future success.

      Sunday, February 19, 2012

      Umba Box: My Review

      I have been trying various subscription services. First I tried Birch Box, which I love. I have enjoyed their lovely little boxes, full of make up, hair and skin care, and wellness samples.

      When I saw a post somewhere on the interwebs about Umba Box, I thought, well I will give it a try. The idea is for $26 a month (inclusive of shipping) you will get something: "home goods, women’s accessories, jewelry, stationery, and bath products" mailed to you monthly. What I like is the items are homemade or artisan made. This appeals to me on so many levels. I think we have moved away from homemade items and it is at our own peril. Call me old fashion, but I do think homemade goods, can be superior to mass production. I have committed myself to trying to shop local and if not local, then stay focused on small businesses, specifically artisan and homemade businesses.

      Subscriptions are sold as 1 month, 3-months, 6-months and 12-months. You can also give a subscription as a gift, which is a nice option. Signing up is easy, you don't get mountains of SPAM, just a confirm email and an email letting you know your item has shipped. I like this. If you choose, you can also follow Umba Box on twitter and facebook.

      When my first box arrived, I couldn't wait to see what was inside.

      It comes in a plain box and the shipping time isn't unreasonable.

      Inside I found a plain fabric drawstring bag and some beautiful packaging material. The children love shipping peanuts, I do not.

      Inside  the fabric pouch, I found a very pretty make up/what not pouch. In cream canvas and buttery brown leather. (and yes I consider this a twofer... the little drawstring bag is so nicely made, I plan to use it as well as the actual make up/what not pouch.)

      I was busy thinking about how I might use the pouch, when I stopped and read the card. At first, when I read about the artisan enclosure card, I thought, well I guess that is nice, but will it actually add to the buying experience? I think it does. On the Umba Box website the artisan enclosure card is explained:

      What makes Umba Box so special is the personal relationship each subscriber has to the artisans who make them; stories of the artist and product are included in every delivery. Stories that artisans can share with consumers are what the Big Box sellers just can’t match. It’s so much more enjoyable to buy something when you feel connected to the person who made it. Umba Box brings together the best from the handmade community.

      After receiving my first box, I have to agree. I liked hearing about Angeline's experience and learning about her business, Velle Purse. She went to school in the US, studied for a field that she did not enjoy, went back to school and then returned to the country of her heritage, but not her language and stumbled upon something, in her case a scrap leather shop, and that was the spark.

      As a creative person and a woman, who has had similar career dissatisfaction, this speaks to me. I also have to say, I have a beautiful hand made pouch, from an artisan in Indonesia. The craftsmanship is exceptional and I know I am going to enjoy using this little pouch.

      When I signed up for Umba Box, I decided I would try it for a few months. It is a nice way to perhaps find some great gifts for friends, meet new to me artisans and test out this new way of shopping. I do think the subscription service is a nice way to shop, you answer some questions about your skin type, your color preferences or find a service like Umba Box, where they narrow the field to a list of types of items and you are good to go.

      I am already wondering what Umba Box might have in store for me next month.

      Tuesday, February 14, 2012

      Phone Photo Sets Week 2: Red

      When I first took on this challenge, I was certain white was going to be hard to capture. Not so, white proved a walk in the park compared to red. Red is a bold intense color. The color of passion.

       In the literature black and white are often portrayed as opposites, but red and white are just as often portrayed as opposites. So true for photos as well. While I am overall pleased with my set of photos, I have to say, I was not at all pleased with a number of my photos. Finding 4 good ones was a mighty challenge. I seemed to have the most trouble with over exposure. Which could have to do with me, the iPhone camera, or me, or the lighting, or the color red, or did I mention, me.

      In any event, here are my photos for this week. If you did not swing over to Show&Tell last, shame on you. You really must. The white photos were breath taking, simply breath taking, I could not pick a favorite photo or set for that matter. All so good.

      Monday, February 13, 2012

      Music Monday: Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You

      Whitney Houston - - I Will Always Love You

      My mom loved this movie. She was partial to Kevin Cosner. I think this movie was well done. I also think this particular song was very powerful, sung by a very powerful singer.

      While I am not a huge fan of pop songs or pop music or love songs, exactly - I have to admit that this one gives me goosebumps. I immediately thought of this song when I read the news that Whitney Houston died Saturday night. There is something powerful about the idea of always loving someone. While the tabloids and gossip magazines rehash all that was wrong in Whitney's life, I instead choose to think about all that was right. She touched so many people with her gift of song. That gift, will live on forever.

      Tuesday, February 7, 2012

      Phone Photo Sets Week 1: White

      This is my photo set for week one of the #phonephoto challenge

      I had hoped to have a poem for you this week, but I am not coming up with much. I had a great time shooting this week. At first I thought white would be challenging but I actually found a variety of white things to snap pictures of and frankly there are so many shades of white. I actually had a hard time deciding which photos to include.

      Now I am on the hunt for red things... should be fun.