Monthly Archives: August 2008

Help a Sister Out

Dear Blog Readers,

I need some help coming up with cool ideas for Website Wednesday and Foto Friday.  Sometimes an idea will strike me and I just know I have to blog about it (i.e. Yearbook Yourself), but more often than not, I find myself scurrying at the last minute for ideas.

This is especially true for Foto Friday.  My original intent was to go out and take new photos on some sort of “theme” and post them to the blog.  Instead, I got lazy and decided to highlight some existing photos.   This is fine for the short-term, but eventually I’m going to run out of pictures of my friends, family, and vacations.

All suggestions are appreciated!


Foto Friday: Scenic Beauty

Even though I’ve already done a vacation edition of Foto Friday, I decided to focus this week on some scenic photos ‘cuz, frankly, even *I’m* getting sick of looking at pictures of myself!!

Clouds over the rolling hills of Wyoming

Clouds over the rolling hills of Wyoming

Sunset over Lake Yellowstone

Sunset over Lake Yellowstone

Sailboats in San Francisco Bay

Sailboats in San Francisco Bay

The beach in Jamaica

The beach in Jamaica

From the dock of my Aunt and Uncle's cabin in Minnesota

The view from the dock--Leech Lake, Minnesota

Website Wednesday: Yearbook Yourself

I’ve been dying to blog about Yearbook Yourself as soon as I saw it on Pop Candy, my very favorite pop culture blog.

The idea is simple: you upload a photo of yourself and it shows you what your yearbook photo might have looked like in various years from 1960-2000. Some of my favorite results:


1960-- cool specs, hip chick

1968-- Very Carol Brady, no?

1968-- Very Carol Brady, no?

1974-- Scary 'cuz this is the year my mom graduated HS and I look *exactly* like her!

1974-- Scary, 'cuz this is the year my mom graduated HS and this pic looks EXACTLY like her!

1990-- I wished my hair would feather like that back then!

1990-- I wished my hair would feather like that back then!

Here’s where it starts to get REALLY interesting. Compare the Yearbook Yourself results with my *actual* yearbook photos from the same era. Eerie!

The first set is the Yearbook Yourself pic from 1994 and my actual yearbook photo from the 1994-95 school year.

The second is Yearbook Yourself: 1996 and my school pic from 1995-96.  Yes, my hair is longer, but the style is similar.

The last set of pix are Yearbook Yourself: 1998 and my senior picture (1997). They are the least similar, but I can assure you that by 1998 I was able to do that hot roller look myself!

Freshman Year 1994-95

About the 3…

A few people have asked me the significance of “flashing the three.”  It’s stupid, really… and really stupid!

Have any of you ever played the “thumb rule” in a drinking game like Asshole or Circle of Death?   Basically, someone puts their thumb on the table and everyone else has to follow suit.  The last person to notice has to drink/do a shot/whatever.

Well, for some reason on this year’s boat trip, we decided that flashing the “3” would be our equivalent of the thumb rule.   It’s a long, complicated story but we chose #3 in honor of Dale Earnhardt even though we’re not race fans.  The last person who flashes the 3 has to do something gross (which I will NOT repeat here).

It started on the boat trip and followed us to New Orleans.  I told Kristi I’d give her $100 if she flashed it walking down the aisle and now I have to pay up.

Makes perfect sense, right???


This month’s book club selection was Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It by Elizabeth Royte. In the spirit of books like Fast Food Nation, Royte seeks to educate (scare?) us by peeling back the curtain to look at ins and outs of the water industry, specifically as it relates to bottled water.

She frames her argument by focusing on a seemingly small local issue in a town near Portland, Maine. The pond on Howard Dearborn’s property is losing water and he thinks it’s due to over-pumping by Poland Springs, one of Nestle many brands. It’s a classic struggle between small town America and a multi-national corporation.   (Apparently Nestle is the largest food company in the world–who knew?)

By looking at the issues surrounding this case, Royce tells a compelling story about water use and policy in America. From pumping and bottling to purifying and delivering water to our taps, she presents complex scientific and legal information in terms that even I can understand. 

I generally like books that make me think and that help me understand things in different ways.  Although I had some slight issues with some of the writing and the arguments, I can definitely recommend this book. 

Among the things I learned are

  • There is no easy answer.  Bottled water isn’t inherently evil, but it’s not that good, either.  Yes, it’s expensive and it causes a lot of waste.  But more than that, the proliferation of bottled water is undermining our trust in public water systems.  The less we trust public supplies, the less likely they are to be maintained.  
  • On an even deeper level, Royte argues that clean, drinkable water is a human right… not a commodity to be bought and sold by the powerful elite.  By increasing our dependence on bottled water, we are denying that right to those people (the young, the old, the sick) who are at risk.
  • Simply drinking tap water might not be the answer, either.  She does a great job of explaining how water is processed and the steps it takes to get from your local aquifer (or lake, or river) to your faucet.
  • The safety of our water supply is connected to so many things.  In addition to a basic human need, water is used in manufacturing, in food production, in beer(!).  Ensuring a usable water supply is just as important–if not more so– than other conservation/environmental issues.

In the end, the book left me feeling much more informed.  It also left me feeling a little hopeless.  I’m fine with tap water.  I have a jug of it in my fridge at all times and try to avoid bottled water as much as possible.   But I’m not sure where to go from there. 

Luckily, there’s a page of water links on the web site for the book.  If you’re interested in learning more, pick up the book or check out some of the links.

Eye Candy

I have about 5 different posts to write, but I’m too tired from the weekend, so this will have to do for now:

A little eye candy never hurt anyone, now did it?    Meee-ow!

Foto Friday: Nawlins Style

Call it a cop-out, but this week’s Foto Friday will also serve as my New Orleans post.  As you probably know by now, I went to The Big Easy last week for Kristi’s wedding.  She’s my cousin, but she’s also one of my best friends, so it was nice to have friends and family in one place.

As with any good memory-making experience, the “good parts” can’t be conveyed in a simple run-down of where we went, what we saw and what we ate (and drank), so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  

There are tons more memories I’ve not included here, but here are some of my favorites (in no particular order)

Hotards coffee shop, hair salon, and bus company

Hotards coffee shop, hair salon, and bus company

Riding the Bull at the Bourbon Cowboy

Riding the Bull at the Bourbon Cowboy

Kristi getting serenaded

Kristi getting serenaded


karaoke at the Cat's Meow

karaoke at the Cat's Meow

The food at the reception

The food at the reception

Kristi's Grand Entrance

Kristi's Grand Entrance

Hurricanes and Hand Grenades the first day

Hurricanes and Hand Grenades the first day

Kristi flashing the 3 down the aisle

Kristi flashing the 3 down the aisle

Dylan's Dance Moves

Dylan's dance moves

"Killing It" with the best friends a girl could ask for

 “Killing it” with the best friends a girl could ask for!

Website Wednesday: Typeracer

I’m still kinda tired from my New Orleans trip, but it’s Wednesday and y’all are expecting a website, right? To get over the mid-week hump (or, in my case, survive your first day back to work) visit

The idea is simple:  See how fast you can type.  You can race your friends or complete strangers.  The best part is that the passages you type are fun… they come from popular movies, songs, literature, etc.  

I spend a great deal of time typing–emails, IMs, actual work– so I thought I’d be pretty good at this.  I can sometimes win a race or two, but you’ll never see me on the leader board.  Turns out there are some SUPER quick typists out there…. like 200 words per minute.  Yikes!

Look, I won!

Look, I won!

WARNING: This site has a high addictive potential and may eat up valuable hours of productivity.  It is best if you play at home or during only approved breaks from work!

Blogging about Blogging, part 2: Drafting

I’m back from New Orleans and I promise to write a re-cap post once I have a couple more photos to include.

For now, however, let’s re-visit our earlier conversation about the blogging process.  Like any kind of writing, the process of blogging can be broken down into four steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing.   Choosing topics falls into the pre-writing category, so let’s look at the other steps.

Drafting: According to this incredibly helpful article from MIT, the drafting process is supposed to be writer-centered.  Get your ideas out, they tell us, and worry about going back and revising later.  To a certain extent, this is exactly how I compose my blogs– I write out everything I want to say in one fell swoop and then I go back and revise. 

But I also revise as I go along.  Sometimes I’ll have a good idea in my head before I start, and sometimes it comes later.  At other times, I get deep into my “drafting” zone and whatever brilliant nugget I thought of earlier never finds a “place” in the natural flow of things. 

Sometimes I don’t even make full sentences or paragraphs.  I’ll simply type out the “nuggets” and build paragraphs around them.   The transitions will come later, I tell myself.  Sometimes they don’t.

For the most part, the process I use for writing blog posts isn’t that much different from the other types of writing I do.  I try to think a little more about what the audience might want to read, but that’s about it.  I try to keep my tone more conversational than I might in work-related copy and I try harder to keep  my posts more on-topic than in personal emails, but the process itself is pretty much the same.

As I’m drafting, I don’t worry much about structure, unless I have a clear-cut idea of what I’m going to say.  If it’s a top 10 list of my favorite books, for example, the structure/organization will be pretty easy.   If it’s just a rambling post about my latest idiotic adventure, I might go on and on and on for ages before I figure out where the “good parts” are.

Zach Morris Moment: If you can’t tell by now, I’m intentionally writing this post as an example of a “draft.”  The more I write the more I realize I’m rambling and I need to revise.  For illustrative purposes, I’m fighting the urge to cut, move, and refine the text above. 

Sometimes I have an outline.  Either in my head, on the screen or occasionally, on paper.  Sometimes I have almost all of the post written before I even open up my laptop.  It just depends on the type of post and the complexity of the subject.  

There is no outline for this post, for example, because even though I knew I wanted to write about the blogging/composing process, I’m not sure what I want to say about it.  In fact, I was originally going to write just one post about how I blog, but the first post was so long I decided to break it up.  Had there been a pre-determined outline for the first post, the subject of actually writing the blogs night have just been a sentence or two.

Zach Morris Moment: At this point in the “normal” writing process I would realize that this post has become too long and rambling and is not yet ready for publication.  I would also realize that it’s 11:15 p.m. and Mad Men comes on in 15 minutes.  I would normally hit “save” and re-visit this post at a later date.   Instead, I’m going to hit “publish” (without even spell-checking) and hope that my explanation that this is just a draft is enough to keep the hecklers at bay. 

(Seriously, people… I know this isn’t a well-composed piece of work. Go easy on me)

Foto Friday-Vacation Edition

As I leave on my first real vacation of the summer, I thought it would be fitting for this Foto Friday to focus on vacation memories. (say that 5 times fast!) Although I travel fairly often, I go on precious few vacations. For the purpose of this blog, I’m defining a vacation as a trip out of state not for work. (The San Fran trip was for work, but I stayed over for vacation, so it counts)

Grand Tetons 03-- You wouldn't know it was the middle of the summer the way I was dressed
Grand Tetons 03– You wouldn’t know it was the middle of the summer the way I was dressed
Yellowstone 2003-- by Old Faithful
Yellowstone 2003– by Old Faithful
San Fran 05-  With a flower in my hair in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
San Fran 05- With a flower in my hair in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
Jamaica 06... First full day on the beach. I'd had a little *too* much!
Jamaica 06… First full day on the beach. I’d had a little *too* much!
Uncle Denny, Jo, Ryan, Aunt Linda, Me
Minnesota 07– In front of the Gosh Dam Place: Uncle Denny, Jo, Ryan, Aunt Linda, Me
Missouri Christmas 07– hey, it’s out of state :)
Me, Erin, Kim, Lindsey, Kari, Steph
Vegas 2008-- I don't have many pix of myself from this trip, so the Vegas "skyline" will have to do!
Vegas 2008– I don’t have many pix of myself from this trip, so the Vegas “skyline” will have to do!
STL May 08-- Cardinals game for Jeff's bday

STL May 08-- Cardinals game for Jeff's bday Kristi, Kari, Lindsey, Jaime, Me, Erin