What you missed, Part 2: Alias.

As much as I like writing... sometimes pictures just work better.

So what else did you miss the last 18 months? I already mentioned my thesis defense. Two days later, I got a new name. 

Credits (local vendors in bold and italics)
Photos - Valerie Usui Photography (or, local at time of booking/wedding planning)
Dress/Alterations - Columbia Bridal Boutique / Silver Threads Alterations
Tuxes - Men's Warehouse
Rings - Helzberg and Silver Sparrow Designs
Flowers - Wedideas
Flask - Marotte Leather
Cake - Debi's Cake Studio
Cake Topper - Mudcards
Venue/Food - Baldwin's Station
First Look Photo Venue - A Likely Story Bookstore


What you missed, Part 1: Titled.

There are some statements that could be considered exaggerations.

That was the best cheesecake EVER.

Maybe the whole thing with the fire ants was a bad idea.

I have been in school FOREVER.

In my case, I think that last one was technically true. 

I went from undergraduate right into a Ph.D. program, something I think I would never have done had I known better. At times it was fun, and now that it is over I am finding it easier to remember that. Frequently it was horrible. 

I stuck it out for a few reasons. First of all, I am stubborn. Second, the idea of quitting was scary. But I like to think the most important reason I stayed is because, every so often, it was AWESOME. I loved the moments - few and far between as they were - when I got something to work (repeatedly) and realized I was looking at something new. Something where I could go to the world "I know something you don't know" and actually be kind of almost sure it was true.

Mostly, it was probably the second thing though. I used to think that it is hard to be something that you're not.

In any case this happened last spring. May 17th, to be precise.

"So listen carefully.... SCIENCE!"

"This is what I can do with powerpoint."

"Look, some more things I can do with powerpoint."

It took me about eight weeks to recover normal sleeping habits after the defense... which was actually fine, because I did a lot of great TV show watching and reading in the unmentionable hours of the day.

The defense, like my research career, wasn't all that pretty. It wasn't really enjoyable. Fortunately I had the support of a loving and wonderful family, especially on the sprint through the end. 

And, two days after my thesis defense, I got to go to a really fantastic party.

More on that soon...


Lost voice.

About a year and a half ago, I lost my voice.

I don't mean my actual voice, more my writing voice. I went from needing a change to, for about a solid year, doing very little writing. At least, very little writing of the sort anyone would actually want to read.

And, to be honest, I did very little swimming and running, either.

A lot has happened since then.

I'll get to that in some posts later.

I've missed my voice. I know I missed it because a number of times I tried to go back and find it. I had several false starts at new blogs, because I felt like I wasn't quite the right person to keep writing this one. Food blog. Craft blog. Wedding blog. Collaborative blog. 

Each time I'd get a few posts (or less) in and lose interest. That's a lot of blogging projects to flop.

I've missed my readers (Hi Mom!) and the blogging community. 

The last few weeks have been different. I keep thinking about things I want to write about. I snap photos that need to be shared before I throw my phone out the window. I'm back to reading blogs, even if I'm quiet about it.

As for the swimming and the running? Well... one step at a time. Wouldn't want to pull a muscle. :)

"Whaaa...? We're back!"


First Amendment: The Right To Tweet

This was a pretty interesting story, in case you missed it, and it all started about a week ago.

Basically, a Kansas high schooler Emma Sullivan tweeted "just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot" to her 65 followers. A member of the Governor's staff discovered the tweet while combing Twitter for references to the Governor. Feeling the tweet was disrespectful, she got in touch with the Youth In Government program (which had put on the Sullivan's trip, with a larger group), which in turn contacted the school where the 18-year-old girl was enrolled. She got yelled at and was ordered to write an apology.

Cue the outcry. Since then, Sullivan has gained 14000+ followers. The school dropped the apology thing, and the Governor issued an apology statement.

Sullivan also indicated that the tweet was not actually true - that she didn't say mean things to the Governor's face - but that she disagreed with the Governor's conservative stance/policies. 

An opinion piece on CNN asks some really interesting questions - at least, several of which came to my mind as I was reading the story.

Among them...

  • How common is it for elected officials to have a social media monitor?  
  • Is it appropriate for an elected official (or said official's representative) to take action against negative comments?
  • Would this have happened if Sullivan was ten years older? (ie, not a high school student)
  • Should the fact that she was actually lying be a factor in the conversation? I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure the tweet quoted above doesn't qualify as defamation.

I can think of at least one instance where a complaint conveyed over social media had a positive impact. Last year, during a "HoCo Thursdays" series of posts, Erinn at Something Else to Distract Me posted about the poor state of the roads in her development. Quickly she got a response from a member of the County Executive's staff, and I know that the roads in her neighborhood sure look a lot better now. This was a great instance of a member of government noticing a negative comment and moving quickly to address the issue. (hocoblogs@@@)

Likewise, I can see how a monitor of social media would be useful in locating false claims/libel that could damage a person's reputation. 

Still, I wonder if there are specific people targeted to monitor social media, or if it's something by chance - for example, was Erinn's post noticed because the staff member reads her blog, or because the staff member is in charge of monitoring Howard County-related posts?

And if there is a staffer employed to monitor social media, should that be disclosed? Where?

Although the Kansas incident has a creepy, Big-Brother feel to it - and clearly got out of hand - I do think that social media (facebook, twitter, blogs) can be a very powerful tool through which constituents and elected officials can communicate.  

Thoughts? Leave 'em in the comments below.


Thinking ahead.

I bought a pine scented candle a few weeks ago, just before all the Christmas things came out.

Normally, I'm not one to rush the Turkey. I like the holidays. I like the time taken to slow down and celebrate with family - particularly when I have such an awesome one on both sides. But this year, I'm craving a fresh pine wreath for the door, sparkling lights, pumpkin pie, ugly sweaters, and the peek out the window that happens when snow is in the forecast.

I think it has something to do with change - wanting to close the door on the things I'm finishing up, move on.

I'm thinking about the blog, too - not closing its doors, but some changes that I'm considering for 2012. Right now, SWR is a mashup of things I feel like typing about, books, local things, and sometimes food. In short, I'm considering narrowing the scope.

If there's something you've really enjoyed about the blog in the last year or so, or something you would like to see more of in 2012/SWRv2.0, please let me know in the comments, or send an email along to swimwriterun at gmail dot com.


Occupy your job application

That's Newt Gingrich's advice, and who knew that the Occupy movement could be solved so quickly?  

I can't help but appreciate the irony in it. Because it seems to me that, if unemployment and economic inequity was not such a problem, the movement would be smaller. Not gone. But certainly smaller, and possibly less sympathetic.

Frustrated by your unemployment status?  Upset because the cascade of economic catastrophe after a speculation "bubble" put a damper on job prospects, housing opportunities, etc?  Underwater financially thanks to $50K+ worth of student loans, which are necessary for a degree that's needed for a job that doesn't exist?

It's cool. Get a job. Improve your hygiene, especially those of you that stink of pepper spray

Problem solved.

How do you say "What?" in Cuban?

Or, more importantly, how do you say "Can both sides please move away from the pandering and on to addressing the very real social and economic problems that are fueling a series of protests across the country, problems that actually affect both left and right and will only continue to be more detrimental in the future?"


To Market, To Market...

I actually didn't plan on posting about this so quickly, but thanks in part to a bout of insomnia, and also to the fact that I wanted to buy a colleague some baked goods as a "thanks" for helping me get some great data, I made it to Green Valley Market today, on opening day. 

I walked through the doors around 7:15. It was surprisingly crowded. I think the "opening" had something to do with it. The store had some giveaways - I scored a free tote - and a ribbon cutting.

I always wonder what they do with giant scissors after the ribbon cutting. Does one pair travel through a company to all locations? Do they just use it to cut really big pieces of paper? 

I also think it's a testament to how much the area was missing its anchor grocery outlet. There were definitely people doing real shopping there.

I snapped a few pictures. 

Some initial thoughts? For those of you who shopped in the Elkridge SuperFresh, the layout is actually very much the same. The interior looks newer, though. 

The bakery still looks excellent. I picked up some croissants for our "breakfast nook" at work (this would be funnier if I had a picture... but I don't.). A sample bite of a brownie with walnuts and PB icing was very tasty. Free samples... breakfast of champions. In checkout, the women behind me had gotten cupcakes that looked awesome - one topped with fruit, the other with a cannoli, each in a little domed cupcake box. 

And there was this cute cake.

The seafood and produce looked fresh.

In my first post, I mentioned that my biggest concern was prices. One nice thing is no value card is needed for this shop. I shop for certain items fairly consistently so I was able to do a walk-through price check. There were fewer sales than at my local giant, but many prices were close, particularly when I looked at value-pack meat and such. Some were pricier. I'll have to do comparisons in the coming weeks - yes, I'm that person.. aka, the poor student, remember? - but they do have a paper circular which will be really helpful. 

While the circular isn't online, I'm a big fan of the fact that the store has both a facebook and twitter presence. FB seems more updated at this point - I'm looking forward to seeing how they put social media to use once things really get running.

Have you been to Green Valley Marketplace yet? Are you a Elkridger who's looking forward to having a very close-by grocery store again? (hocoblogs@@@)

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Edit to update (11/29): Recently noticed that the circular (or a portion of it) is in fact available on the GVM website.