Browsing articles in "General Observation"

America the Brave or America the Backwards?

Before I start this rant, I just want to make a small disclaimer. I’m not a political analyst, I don’t know all the facts. However, I am an American and I do have the first amendment to back up what I’m about to say.

Some things transpired this weekend that have brought myself to question the my American sense of pride and justice. When I think of America, I think of a country that embraces differences, allows for a variety of opinions, and above all the freedom to be whom ever you would like to be. However, we’re also a country that believes in justice, doing the right thing, and holding those accountable for their actions.

This weekend, as the election drew nearer each day, Republicans were becoming more and more defensive of their position, as were Democrats, I know I said some very shrewd things about Palin in the last few days. In any rate, this sets the stage for what I’m about to share with you.

I am sitting at a table of new acquaintances, all good hard working, delightful people, celebrating a birthday, a definitely enjoyable occasion. As I sit there, comments about the election are discussed, and soon I realize I’m the only Democrat at the table. But why should I be concerned about that? They have a right to their own opinion, especially considering some of them have considered way more factors than I have regarding their decisions. Initially I was intrigued, I wanted to know what had changed their viewpoint to the other side, did they feel differently about some hot topic? But then a experience happened that I thought was below everything I know about good Americans.

The man of the hour pulls out a card that he’s received for this birthday, as he looks at the front he chuckles slightly. I’m a fan of humorous birthday cards, so I’m excited to see what has him grinning. He holds it up for everyone to see. It’s a card with Obama’s face on it, someone has drawn a noose around his neck, devil horns on his forehead, fire behind him, and a large, red swastika on his forehead.

The table roars in laughter. He hands the card around the table and each person gets a chance to have their own private chuckle as they review the handy work.

I’m simply stunned. I sit at the table, quiet, just watching the macabre of laughing faces. How could this be funny? How can I live in a country, so beautiful, so embracing of different opinions, and so just and honorable to be seeing this? Sure, they’re entitled to think that Obama isn’t the best choice for President, I can respect that. But to equate a man who wants to help and serve this country to the devil, to make a racist statement that he should be hung with a swastika carved in his forehead, how is this right and just? Sure this country has it’s problems, it’s dark side, it was not long ago that racism was a way of the public and not in hiding corners. Perhaps it was simply a joke, meant to be funny. But I would think in this day in age, these good, hard working, people would know in their hearts they had gone too far. It saddens me to see that mainstream society still accepts these items as acceptable ways of voicing their disagreement.

Honestly, I’m a bit upset by myself. For not standing up, for not saying something. I feel as if I’ve done my own dishonor to my homeland to sit there idle and not say anything to my fellow Americans. So, instead of letting this occurance go silently into the darkest corners of my memory without notice, I’m sharing it all with you. I hope that it shocks your system as much as it did mine, regardless of party, regardless of race. If it doesn’t, God help this nation.


Band of Brothers: Building Offline Community

While there’s a lot to be said about online community and how much value it creates in the web industry, I’d like to focus on offline community for a second.

A great deal of time and money has been spent on building online communities and connecting people from one nation to another, but lately the web as a whole is becoming more ‘local’. People want to know who’s been where we are, what our real friends think, and connect on a daily basis and are using the internet to do this. Then once they’ve checked in on their mobile phone, sent out a twit about tonight’s BBQ, or uploaded the photos from last night’s drunken bash, they go back offline to continue those interactions. The internet is now bringing people together locally quicker than any networking event could have. It’s creating a depth to our online interactions that was previously overlooked, and it’s powerful.

Offline community is often overlooked as just “friends hanging out”, but honestly it’s more than that. Through offline interactions you can build respect, work together quickly, share great ideas on a whiteboard, and also enjoy a good laugh or two. Over the past few months I’ve seen a few new offline communities spring up due to online interactions and I’m loveing what they’re bringing together. I’ve been able to learn more, do more, help others find more business, and make great friends with people I really enjoy.

A few years ago I was at the first meeting of Refresh Phoenix, a local group that wanted to bring the web community together to start working together and make a name for Phoenix as a technology center in the United States.  From Refresh Phoenix sprung some offshoot commuities such as Refocus Phoenix (a local photographic community), Refactor Phoenix (local software developers), and Tiny Army (local illustrators).

Earlier this year I started using Twitter, but really didn’t get addicted to it until SXSW, when several Refresh Phoenix community members started using it as our primary device to stay connected during the conference. Once we got back, I started attending local TweetUps, meet ups of twitter users in Phoenix. Many of us were into social media, but just didn’t know of eachother because we were just different *enough* not to meet up through other means. Once I tapped into the social media crowd I found out about Social Media Club in Phoenix, which is a meetup of people who enjoy discussing social media, how it effects our lives, and how technology is becoming more ingrained in regular social activities.

Over the last year I’ve become part of Drawbackwards, which is one of the companies that Integrum Technologies shares it’s offices with, that includes the likes of Forty Agency and obuweb. Intergrum has since opened up the offices as a co-working space called GangPlank, where anyone can come and work. GangPlank has open house events as well, one of them being Hackmania every Wednesday night where you can come and connect with other webbies to create great applications and work on other side work that you may not have a chance to focus on normally during the week. This time has allowed new ideas to spring up all over the Phoenix valley, and I’ll be sure to show case some of them here in the future.

I’m really enjoying all the friends and real connections I’ve made through the past few years, and it’s always getting better. I really hope that you can connect with you own local community and build a niche for you to grow in within your own backyard.  Bringing people together can help the comunity as a whole and really bring strength to your ideas and interests. Good luck! 🙂


Self-Inflicted Undue Pressure

I’ve been speaking to several colleagues lately within the web design community, and I’ve come to a harsh realization. I think that as a whole, our industry creates it’s own self-inflicted pressure with deadlines and customer relations.

Granted, some customers can come into the relationship wanting the impossible, but often, with a little enlightenment, customers can grasp how Rome cannot be built within a week. But I feel often, instead of investing in this conversation, we instead push ourselves to build things quicker, faster, and cheaper.

Sometimes we can just have a simple conversation with our clients, and often they’ll be totally accepting of our need for more time to create the desired product. Many times when I talk to a client, they themselves are not prepared for the product to be finished, they don’t have the content ready yet, they still need to gather all their product photos, etc.

Why do we tend to forgo these honest conversations that can strengthen our client relations and really give us a better working relationship in the long run? Is it our need for deadlines? Perhaps our procrastinative nature drives us to seek this adrenaline rush that is the last-minute push? Maybe a way to curb our creative natures that drive us to constantly expand the scope of possibilities for the project?

This issue has always frustrated me, why push ourselves to slam something out when there’s always more time to work? Sure, things have to get done, but does the quality of work have to suffer? We quit trying to achieve the best possible, and start undercutting to hit some date that really isn’t anything more than a spec of time in the span of the universe.

So I thought I’d toss it out there and see what you guys thought, why do we do this to ourselves?


Doing What You Love vs. Having a Job

Doing what you love is the key to career happiness, and when I mean doing what you love, I mean the WHOLE package, not just the industry, not just who you work for, the place you work at etc. You can love who you work for, but not the exact tasks you do for the company. You can love the tasks you do, but not the environment you work in. But there are some tell tale signs that you’re working a job vs. doing what you love, here are some of them from my perspective…

A job pays you to be somewhere for 8 hours and feels like you’re at the dentist.

Doing what you love pays you to do what you’d normally be doing anyways for 8 hours.

If you get off of your 9-5, and you feel relieved or excited for the pure sake of getting off of work, and I mean on a routine basis, not just every once in a while when something horrible blows up, then you’re working a job. If you’re doing what you love to do, sure there are those days where fire drills happen and you save the lives of millions with your super human powers of greatness, but chances are you’re happy about the things you accomplish every day at that thing we call work. If you feel your employer should pay you for “time served” chances are you’re working a job, and not doing what you love.  If you get your paycheck every week and you remember, “oh yea! I get paid for this too!” you’re probably doing what you love.

A job puts you in awkward situations for which you feel unprepared for and doing things you dread to do.

Doing what you love lets you explore avenues that you have always wanted to travel and gives you life lessons you can use later.

There are times a work where we can’t know all the answers, where we have to “work” to really get some where, sometimes we even have to do those tasks which we find mundane or boring. However, if you’re working at a job these moments in time are going to be significantly harder on you. If you don’t consider that rough patch just a challenge or a bump in the road to the next big span of fun, chances are, you’re at a job instead of doing what you love.  When you’re doing what you love, you’re interest in taking on a challenge and learning something new about what you love to do is significantly increased. You step up to the plate instead of sinking back into the crowd. Sure, working means there’s always some part of it that would be described as “work”, but when you’re doing what you love, those periods in time are fun and interesting instead of dreadful and scary.

A job feels like a foreign environment.

Doing what you love feels natural and comfortable.

If you get off work, walk out the door, and feel like you can be “you” again, you’re working at a job instead of doing what you love. When you do what you love, you’re simply changing locations for 8 to 10 hours, not changing mental states or forcing yourself to be someone or something you’re not. Sure, sometimes growing pains are hard, it’s natural to feel a strain every now and then when you’re trying something new or traveling down an unworn path. But, when you feel like you completely metamorphize when you leave the office or a meeting, you’re not being your true self and after a while that can really wear you out just keeping up the facade instead of using that extra bit of energy to really do what you love. I know lots of people who LIKE to wear a suit because of how it makes them feel, when the right person is doing what they love to do and wearing that costume, it DOES something for them and they ENJOY it.

Remember, just because you don’t love something about your current job, doesn’t mean you can’t change it just a smidgen and turn it into something you love to do! Maybe it’s small, like the changing your schedule up two hours to get rid of the two hour commute, maybe it big like starting you own company, or maybe it’s you for not making the leap already into that situation you KNOW you’ll enjoy. What ever it is, remember you’re in control of what you do and how much you enjoy doing it as a career, you’re never stuck. 🙂

So how do you know you’re doing what you love?


Walking on the Ceiling

I was in a meeting with one of my co-workers today when she mentioned that as a child she would lay on her back with her feet up in the air, as if she could walk on the ceiling. It brought me back to that time in my life, remembering how life would be if you had to step through door ways and your head would bump on bookcases and chairs hanging from the ceiling.

Remember playing that the floor was lava? Jumping from one piece of furniture to the next, trying not to scald your feet on the red hot bubbles below? Your mom screaming at you to get off the entertainment center or the refrigerator?

The days in life, where you could make rabbits and dragons out of clouds, where ants crawling on the ground still made you point and stare.  Those days when rain drops and bubbles made you laugh and when that soft blanket made the worlds troubles go away.

Stop when the 9 to 5 starts to grind on you, when your love life seems not so lovely, or when you have to rush groceries in between the post office and the vet. Then remember, laying on your back, pretending that you’re walking on the ceiling and smile.


New Year, New Me?

Sorry I’ve been in hiatus the past three weeks or so… I was all on track to get some serious blogging done over the break and instead found myself in a mess of personal life crisis that made me wonder if Doctor Phil needs me to fill in some days.

In the last three weeks I’ve hatched an awesome Christmas plot to give Kaleb an HD TV, purposed to, had my dad visit from Kansas, took my father to San Diego to meet Kaleb’s parents, built a website for my father’s dream, landscaped my backyard with dad, drove straight through to Kansas to say good bye to my grandmother on her death bed, kicked out my brother’s girlfriend and some of her friends who were living off my dad in his house, enrolled my brother in college, realized how much my grandmother sacrificed her entire life to provide for her family in the time of her death, held confession for past love and realized crossroads in my life, flew back to Arizona the same day as my grandmother’s funeral, found good in restructuring our department for the second time in the past year, sent home from work for poorly executed light-hearted comment, became unsure of my employment for twelve hours, went back to work, met with co-worker to find our friendship completely intact, had life realization.

I touch so many lives, trying to right wrongs, trying to make life easier for people to cope with. Sometimes people need to see it for themselves, sometimes people will never be able to see through the haze, regardless, I need to realize that I cannot force people to see at all. As much as I want to open the eyes of the world to have people see what’s really important, they slam shut. I need to learn to open my own and remember the gift that has been given, free will.

I am not perfect. No one is. We all make mistakes, but the beauty of life to to realize those mistakes and become better for them. Don’t waste time wishing you had said this or done that. It’s done, it’s over, look at what’s next. What will tomorrow bring?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily grind that we forget there’s a higher purpose for us all. Realize your purpose and live through it every day.

Don’t be scared of change, the ebb and flow of life seldom is stagnate for long. Sometimes you’re at its mercy, but after the storm, you may find yourself washed up on a better shore than the one you left.


Links of the Week Vol. 1

Welcome to the first week of LINKS OF THE WEEK! I come across some great informative and humorous content online, and I want to share that.. with all of you. Enjoy!

Wonderful cartoon explaining the communication struggle in development of applications.

Happy Webbies is like Happy Bunny for web geeks. Check out the animated talking heads of web design.

Burns Marketing will be closed up for the holidays, but they created a great viral marketing campaign with their Virtual Account Manager.

“wOOt” crowned as word of the year by Merriam-Webster, what does I have to say about this? WOOT!

CSS for Accessibility takes CSS a bit further, discussing how CSS can play a role in accessibility as well as layout.



Human Inspiration and Interest

Why do we do the things we do? When we’re born we can become anyone and effect anything. Why is it we choose the paths we do? Why are we so inspired by some experiences in life and not others? A person’s attention is very segregated to what they what to pay attention to. But what makes one item more of interest than another? How is it the human race is so diverse in interests and abilities?

Not only are we so diverse in what we’re interested in, but those interests change over time, and drastically. Just because we’re currently on one path, does not mean we can’t jump the track to an entirely new direction in a matter of moments if we so chose. We are never tied down by anything but our invested interest to stick with something. How do we so suddenly choose to become unstuck? What moves us to drop everything and run to something else, and even sometimes, to come back to that which once no longer interested us?


Girls Love Money

Call me a girl who loves money, but I think the security features in all the new American currency are fascinating. The different levels of complexity of design, the material the dollars are made out of, the metallic inks, the list goes on. Anyhow, I was reading The New Old Five Dollar Bill article over at A Brief Message when I got curious as to what the new $5 actually looked like. I followed through to one of their reference links only to find a really cool interactive flash piece that actually goes through, highlights, points out and explains some (I’m sure not all) of the security features that the new currency provides. Neat huh? I’d wager that cost a pretty penny to make. 😉


Forgetting Thanksgiving

I wondered into the grocery store the weekend after Halloween, only to be greeted with wrapping paper and Christmas cookies. What the hell? I had to check my calendar, nope, it’s still November.

Why does America choose to totally skip over Thanksgiving? Is there no money to be had on turkey and football in the backyard with the fam?

For me, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. You don’t have to stress out about what to buy that Aunt you only see once a year, or get all creative on making a costume no one else has.  You slap on some jeans, a sweater, and fast for two days so that your tummy will be completely empty to take in all the gut busting goodness. You don’t worry about counting calories, and you have that second piece of pie. You come together with the ones you love to give thanks for all that has been bestowed upon you in the past year. You share stories of children learning to walk, raises at work and new additions to the family.

But appearantly, all that goodness isn’t good enough to keep the commercial beast at bay. I’m already getting red and green mailers, catalogs of expensive toys, and TV commercials about where you can get the cheapest candy canes and fake trees.

I just want some pumpkin pie, coffee and good conversation with family I don’t get to see often enough. But I suppose, you can’t sell that.

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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