Laughing a little bit more with every mile.

So when did it become August? My summer is winding down and I am starting my job on Monday, the 13th–woah, did time fly! I have been busy these last couple of weeks spending time with family, working on my tan, watching the Olympics and my most recent trip to Philadelphia.

Family
This past week, Doug came home for an evening to spend some time with the family. Before heading out for our family dinner, Doug and I walked to the pond next to our neighborhood to throw a few lines. Using a lure and an 8lb. line, Doug caught a few largemouth bass. I even reeled one in!

Later, we went downtown to J. Christian’s  for a nice dinner. Kim and Kevin had celebrated their one year wedding anniversary on Monday, July 30th so it was nice to get the family together to look back at the last year and how fortunate we all are. We are so lucky to have each other in our lives!

Philadelphia
Besides a quick stop in Philadelphia during a road trip, I have never explored the City of Brotherly Love. My cousin, Lisa, is starting her second year at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and had some free time in which I took the opportunity to go visit her in Philly. Her apartment is located in the Northern part of the city, off of Locust Street and is absolutely adorable. Everything needed is located in walking distance including great restaurants, bars and public transportation.

We spent the beautiful, summer afternoon walking around the ‘old city’ and then ate dinner at Pat’s King of Steaks. Pat’s is supposedly the original inventor of the Philly cheese steak sandwich and one of the best in Philadelphia. Since it was my first time having a Philly cheese steak, I didn’t have much to compare it to, but it was DELICIOUS. There is a certain way to order like a local and I got my ‘whiz wit’ and was definitely a GREAT choice. My steak sandwich came with onions and cheese whiz…yes, CHEESE WHIZ! So good!

The next morning Dana and I met Lisa at UPenn and got to explore the campus. Later we visited some landmarks (Art Museum, the ‘Rocky Steps’) and did a little shopping before heading to the Phillies v. Braves game. It was a perfect night for baseball and we enjoyed the atmosphere of the ballpark and each other’s company as much as watching the game. (Phillies lost 6-1. It’s okay– GO SOX!). The next morning, after an awesome breakfast at Marathon Grill, Dana and I got back on the road for CT after a fun visit to Philly.

(Blog title inspired by On My Highway by Jason Aldean)

Drownin’ worms and killin’ time.

My father is the definition of a fisherman. Any free time that he has, you better believe he will have a fishing rod and reel in his hands, either fly fishing in a stream or marine fishing from the beach. My dad passed this love for fishing to my brother and they have shared countless hours of quality time together engaged in the sport. After a day of fishing, I always hear their stories about the one that got away. Now it was my turn to share these memories with dad.

Thursday night (7/19) my dad and I headed up to Boston to visit my brother, grab dinner and spend the night at his apartment before our fishing day on Friday. Doug lives in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts a cute little town on the outskirts of Boston. Newton is about 50 miles south from our fishing destination of Plum Island, making it a good in between point for the night.

For dinner we stayed in town and headed to O’Hara’s, an Irish pub, where we were able to catch up with Doug and his second year of residency at Beth Israel. He is definitely busy (and tired), but I am so proud of my brother and all of his accomplishments. I am certain that Doug always puts the patients needs first and will be a successful doctor in whatever field he decides to specialize in. But for now, the long hours of being on call, even over the weekend, had Doug jealous that he couldn’t join my dad and I on our trip to Plum Island, where the weekend before he caught a 30 inch striper!

Plum Island is located right off of Newburyport, an adorable New England town on the Merrimack River. The Merrimack River empties into the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the river is where we began our fishing adventure. Before hitting the beach, my dad and I stopped at Surfland Bait & Tackle to pick up a dozen sea worms. Sea worms are supposedly great bait for striped bass, but are also some of the ugliest, creepy crawlers I have ever seen (not to mention they ‘bite’). Let’s just say I left baiting the hook for my dad.

We threw our first casts out around 10 a.m. After countless casts, one lost lure, and many crab eaten sea worms later, my dad got his first hit around 1 p.m. He reeled in a striper about 18 inches long with a lure. That one fish raised our moods and with high tide at 1:15 p.m. we hoped to catch a few more. Unfortunately, the rest of the afternoon was unsuccessful and we decided to call it a day around 2 p.m.

Before making the drive home, we stopped for lunch in Newburyport at a place called Agave, a Mexican bistro. I don’t know if it was the salty sea air, the long day fishing or the company, but this was some of the best Mexican food I have ever had (I had a chicken tinga burrito with a bean and corn salad that was absolutely delicious). My dad and I were able to reminisce over our lunch about the day, our visit with Doug and just catch up altogether. After being away from home for five years, my dad and I have not had much time for just the two of us. So the 24 hours that we spent on our little daddy/daughter date was so special and we were so lucky to have the time to spend together.

At the end of the day, we may not have been the most successful fishermen on the beach, but we both knew we weren’t just fishin’–we were creating memories…

(Blog title inspired by Just Fishin’ by Trace Adkins)

I think I’ll go to Boston.

When I was a little girl, going to Boston was always a special trip. My family would make the two hour drive every now and again to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. What’s a better memory than walking around Yawkey Way with a Fenway Frank and a small baseball helmet filled with soft serve ice cream? Needless to say, Boston was one of my favorite cities growing up and continues to be today.

Fortunately within the last couple of years I have found more excuses to travel up to Boston. Two of my closest friends from home attended Bentley University with one still residing in Brookline and my brother just entered his second year of residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Not to forget some of my closest girl friends from Elon now call Boston ‘home’. So since officially moving back to Connecticut a week ago, I have already made two trips up to Boston.

Boston Beer Marathon weekend (7/14-7/15)

Boston Beer Marathon

The Boston Beer Marathon is a day event dedicated to drinking and attempting to visit 26 bars without losing your swag (swag meaning gifts from sponsors of the event including a t-shirt, a viking helmet, Mardi Gras beads, etc.). Mike, Phil and I decided to forgo the $25 ticket to be ‘official’ marathon participants, but we were still able to enjoy the purpose of the day: drinking. We met up with Alison in Fenway at Jillian’s where we downed a few PBRs and attempted to bowl without bowling shoes. We got a few good laughs before getting told we couldn’t play without proper footwear and headed to another bar on the marathon, Cask ‘n Flagon. Alison and I took the time to have girl talk while stuffing our face with a delicious buffalo chicken dip, boneless buffalo wings, and rally sticks. Before long the boys and I had to head back to Brookline and we wished Alison luck checking off the rest of the bars.

Later that night we met up with Mike and Phil’s friends from Bentley and attempted to go to The Estate Nightclub. Unfortunately, this upscale club does not let guys in without pants so the five guys and I ended up at Hennessy’s. We danced to the band and I played a great wingwoman for the guys.

The next morning was a little bit rough for everyone and Phil and I put off driving the mini-van sans A/C back to Wallingford until the evening. The day was spent napping and watching the Sox and Yanks with a few mumbled jokes in between. It was nice to just spend the day with Mike and Phil since it has been forever that we were able to do that.

By the way, we did receive word that Alison survived the marathon, but lost all her swag by the end of the night.

(Blog title inspired by Boston by Augustana)

I’ve got a plan. I’ve got an atlas in my hands.

Wow. Where has 2012 gone? It feels like just yesterday I was starting the spring semester of my graduate program and was panicking about having a job by graduation (refer to Feb. 8th).

No, I did not have a job by graduation, but that was not due to lack of effort. I searched endlessly for open positions, sent hundreds of resumes, and received interviews with various places. With each rejection came disappointment, but I am thankful for the experiences and having the opportunity to explore a new direction after each one (It’s true: When one door closes, another opens). The process helped me narrow down what I was looking for in a career and eventually led me to accepting an offer for a Marketing Communications Associate position with King Industries, Inc. I am psyched to start this new chapter back up North.

But this chapter titled, Real World does not begin until mid-August. So I’ve decided to end this last chapter with some excitement. A trip out West? A fishing trip? A drive to see the Field of Dreams field? A visit to the PEZ factory (yes, this is located in CT)? Okay, maybe a few of these ideas are unlikely, but I want to make the most of having this time off. I will update my blog after each new adventure so make sure to check back!

Let me know if you have any suggestions on what I should do/where I should go before it’s high heels and skirt time.

(Blog title inspired by Atlas Hands by Benjamin Francis Leftwich)

Still Photos: Coffee

Different uses of coffee:

Elements of Viral Videos

Anyone can be famous on the Internet, but not everyone can go viral. Here are three elements explained by Kevin Allocca, a trend manager at Youtube on how videos go viral and become a cultural moment :

  1. Tastemakers- Tastemakers introduce us to new and interesting things and bring them to a larger audience.
    For example, Double Rainbow, which has now been viewed over 33 million times was posted on YouTube months before it became a cultural moment. It wasn’t until Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about the video that it gained popularity and eventually went viral.
  2. Communities of participation- The introduction of a video through tastemakers accelerates the video to an audience that forms a community and becomes a shared experience among viewers.
    It is common to see a new video shared on Facebook by one Facebook friend and then come back a few hours later and see that 20 other friends have shared the same video. Once a video has been presented, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and be a part of the shared experience of the video. For example, Rosie, the eight year old who raps to Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass was shared by one of my friends on Facebook. At this point the video had about 150,000 views and after watching it I told my friends about it. The next day everyone was talking about the video and it was well on its way to its current 33,541,702 views.
  3. Unexpectedness- Complete unexpectedness helps a video become viral.
    This video of an angry dad shooting his daughter’s laptop has over 31 million views. It starts with the dad sitting in his yard speaking into the camera about his daughter’s inappropriate Facebook post. In the last minute of the 8 minute and 23 second video, the dad  pulls out his handgun and shoots the daughter’s laptop multiple times. The title of the video is ‘Facebook Parenting: For the Troubled Teen’ and a viewer would never expect for someone to shoot a laptop. Since people have never seen something like this before, when someone mentions it the first instinct is to go on YouTube and watch the video. The unexpectedness of this video is what helped make it viral.

Content producers can use these elements of viral videos in order to get their message or brand to a large audience. To make this happen they will have to make a video that is not common or never been seen before and have some tastemaker (celebrity, public figure, etc.) introduce it to an audience. It is easy for a video to get lost in the clutter, but these elements can help make the video successful.

Creating Empathy Through Interactivity

Empathy is the identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives. It is a powerful emotion and everyday advertisements and news stories try to appeal to the pathos of the viewers. Pathos is one of three modes of persuasion stated by Greek philosopher Aristotle, appealing to one’s emotions. While appealing to pathos descriptive words can create an emotion, but it usually requires recreating the scene or event that would in real circumstances arouse the emotion. It is argued that pathos is the strongest of the appeals with the power of emotion to sway the mind.

With the decrease of people’s attention spans on the Internet, it is hard to capture the viewer simply through text on the Internet. Where people spend 25 minutes reading the newspaper, online viewers spend 70 seconds on a news site according to data from Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist. Interactivity is a way to allow active participation and engagement by the viewer. CEO of Eyewonder, John Vincent explains how video is an emotional and powerful way for advertisers to communicate with customers. The recreation of a scene visually can spark the real emotion of being in that situation, causing the viewer to feel empathy or some other emotion.

Jim Burch, a marketing executive, realized the need for engagement during trade shows. He decided to replace old display methods with touchscreens where the users could touch, pinch, and swipe the screen to navigate through clinical images. The increase in interactivity at the station resulted in an increased average time at the exhibit by 20 minutes. Although he was not directly evoking empathy, Burch put users in a real situation allowing them to see what it was like to be a radiologist.

The engagement and interaction of a user is what can really appeal to pathos and this can be accomplished through a game. For example, the game Spent challenges users to make it through a month financially after being unemployed, a single parent, with only $1,000 to start. The game gives scenarios that many people across the United States deal with daily. By selecting a certain answer, an outcome is presented making the game a very real experience for the player. The game creates empathy by putting the user in the position of someone trying to make ends meet on a budget.

Iconic Still Photography

What makes an image iconic? What turns a photograph from an image to an icon? By definition, an icon is a pictorial representation. An iconic image is an image that strikes emotion. While looking through The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011, emotions of shock, sadness, disbelief, & happiness make these images memorable. Either intentional or unintentional, the photographers of these images have captured a moment that may have never been experienced. For example, this image to the right was taken at the exact

right moment when the officer was spraying the pepper spray into the  face of a protestor. The viewer can almost feel the pain of the protestor just by the reaction on her face and sense the unexpected response of the officer by the nonchalant audience. Through a single image, a powerful message is sent to the viewers.

Besides evoking an emotion, there are other elements that make an iconic image.

The image induces public opinion: Images are open for interpretation and may not have a single meaning from one person to the next. However, no matter what the image is representing, there is always some form of message. Depending on how the viewer takes the message, public opinion and action may be induced. Using the above image as an example, this photo from an occupy movement protest may either frustrate people and make them join the protestors or scare them. Either way, there has been some reaction and opinion made about the occupy protests.

The image is well-known: Most iconic images are well known.  Julia DeIuliis wrote, “For an image to be iconic, a lot of people need to have seen it and be familiar with it.” The Mona Lisa is a good example of a well known, iconic piece. Everyone has seen the painting and it is impossible to replicate it because most people know the original so well.

In order for an image to be iconic, it does not have to be taken from a shared experience. Some of the most powerful and well known images come from a shared experience or event, however, like September 11th. But an image can give power and awareness to a whole different experience even if it was not a shared event.

Audio Elements

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if a viewer walks out of the room during a television commercial are they going to understand the message? Strong audio is an imperative element for advertisements. Audio can make or break a video.   If the audio does not present a clear message standing alone from the video, the ad will lose the audience who may have walked away from the television or navigated to another site online. Below are a few examples of video advertisements that have compelling audio:

Ford F150:
This Ford truck commercial has very strong audio that accompanies a motion typography approach to a commercial. The minute long ad has a narrative voice-over of a man describing the current economic situation and how the Ford F150 can help. There is quiet background music throughout the whole ad that is noticeable, but does not take away from the message. Sound effects are used to enforce some of the graphic elements of the commercial. For example, when the ad mentions bourbon, there is a graphic of ice falling into an empty glass and the clanging of the glass sound effect is used. These sound effects reinforce what the message is saying and also ads a more compelling argument for the advertisement.

Bud Light: Here We Go
This humorous commercial for Bud Light  has good use of audio, music, and sound effects. Without the video, it may be hard to understand the product of this commercial until the sound effects, if not the last voice-over. The clanking of the bottles, the sound of a bottle getting pulled out of ice, and the whining of the dog, helps paint the picture of what is going on in the video. The final voice over ties the whole commercial together and enforces the message. The use of Bud Light’s slogan, “It’s the sure sign of a good time” and the “Here we go” makes sure the viewer knows the advertisement is for Bud Light.

Taco Bell: Beefy Crunch Burrito
The voice over in this Taco Bell commercial is what makes it a strong audio example. Although it may be difficult to understand what is going on without the video, when the voice-over starts it is obvious the ad is for Taco Bell. The voice over helps illustrate what a Beefy Crunch Burrito is and does a good job at making the viewer salivate. The ringing of the bell and saying “Taco Bell” helps drive home the purpose of the ad. However, Taco Bell recently changed their slogan from “Think outside the Bun” to “Live Mas” and it may take a while for the new slogan to be recognizable with Taco Bell.

What makes good writing for the web?

There are a few generally understood guidelines when writing for the web. These guidelines include short, scannable pieces that are search engine optimized.

Keep it Short

The principle for short writing is to write 50% less text than you would on a hardcopy. Readers also don’t like to scroll or navigate to further pages and don’t have time to sit down and dedicate time they don’t have to long content. You do not want to bore readers.

Make it Scannable 

The fact that people’s attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter with web browsing, the reader wants to be able to scan documents. Writing for the web can be made scannable through structured headlines, the use of italics, bolding, & underlining to emphasis important words, and using hypertext. Hypertexts help keep the writing short and interactive for the reader.

SEO Optimized 

Search engine optimization is important for getting readers to the content. Most people find articles by Googling topics and keywords. The fundamental elements of SEO writing is keywords and phrases. Keyword density should be kept around 4%. Web writing should also be organized and simple being kept around 300-600 words.

For Longer Content 

On the other hand, the shorter the article, the more risk of not getting the point effectively conveyed. Sometimes content needs to be longer to get the point across, and other times readers want more because of the quality of the content. Good content is going to make readers want to keep reading, even if it is online. Longer content answers more questions and goes into more depth. People who are truly interested will keep reading. Here is an example of an interesting, compelling article about  conjoined twins that kept me interested even with the lack of traditional web writing elements.

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