Thursday, January 4, 2007

Debt: Visually

I remember reading an article in HOW about keeping an illustration journal (which I did for all of a week). One of the suggestions was to draw everything you own as a way to drum up creativity.

While blog surfing, I came across Kate Bingaman's Obsessive Consumption (also mentioned in HOW here) and was reminded of that article...and how much Dwight thought the idea was an interesting way to become intimate with your own bad spending habits. It really became a commentary on consumerism in America - which tends to be a hot topic around our house and in his classroom.

*Dwight I thought you'd like this as she had a studio in Lincoln while getting her grad degree*

I admire Kate Bingaman, for having the guts to embrace her spending and turn it into art - including the gut-wrenching credit card statement. Money and personal debt represented visually for everyone to see (I feel fat and naked just thinking about it). She is able to transform the sick feeling debt can produce in the pit of the stomach into something to be admired, talked about and, in the end, accepted and possibly resolved.

Maybe it's time to start back up with that journal.

In a separate but related thought - thru Kate's site I came across I have a hang-up when it comes to art - unless it's a favorite artist of mine like David Goines - I try to only display signed prints (it's amazing how many wonderful artists live in Midcoast Maine*) and original art. That being said...we are a young family with a 3 month old which leaves little money to spend on art by known artists (or any artist for that matter). This is where a site like etsy (or Kate's for that matter) can be very useful. Affordable and wonderful original art.

*Anthony Venti, Paul Caponigro, Alan Magee, Jamie Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth (and father/grandfather NC)

Ringing in the New Year...

Thanks Lichen...looks like we know now who is the piggy 'round these parts (and don't you forget it)! For New Year's, Dwight and I went down to Portland to visit friends for gobs and gobs of sushi, sake and well, more sushi of course. Needless to say, I had a sushi hangover the next day - could have also been all the red wine before and after dinner...weeeee.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Perfect Friend?

As a communications professional (one of my many hats) I have become fascinated with the world of blogging as a viable marketing/pr strategy - personally and professionally. It's not necessarily the "pay per post" game (which very closely mirrors the online porn industry) that many bloggers play that impresses me but rather the ebb and flow of product/service/company/personality popularity that is completely controlled by the online community. Tho my site has no PR at all - I still like to think that sometimes my links or entries can matter and that somewhere, someone might actually be reading my blog; taking an interest in what I might find amusing that day. In order to increase the popularity of this blog...I have been reading up on it.

All very interesting.
Using blogs for personal marketing
Making your blog popular through content
A Blogger's Big-Fish Fantasy
Making your blog popular

I am also truly in awe of how anyone with a computer and brain and a bit of perserverace can not only become a known entity online but become part of an entirely new peer group in a short amount of time. I have always been a very social person, however, my social circle has generally been limited to the size of the area in which I live. I am currently living in Maine, therefore, my circle can only be so large - but now, with the Internet being an extension of my personality - my peer circle can be as large as I want it - and as deep. I can have an entirely new peer group for as many interests as I like - not that I have the time to actually do this...but it could happen.

Blogging, online forums etc, in theory, could not only allow me to fill the void rural Maine might not be able to fill but I can actively monitor how involved I would like to be in a particularly chosen peer group. It can be the perfect friendship in a sense - as deep or shallow as you choose it to be. Unless, of course, all you want is to go have a beer...

Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog

The abstract goes on to say..."Many bloggers see blogging as a way of developing relationships, via linking back, with an online community: “the linking that happens through blogging creates the connections that bind us”(Hourihan, 2002). They also manage those relationships through both linking and commentary, which become forms of social control, signs of approval, acceptance, value. For example, LiveJournal’s “friends” feature allows bloggers to link to other blogs and allow differential access to their own blog. Blood notes that bloggers “position themselves” in the community of bloggers, indicating through their links “the tribe to which they wish to belong” (2000). Both linking and commentary create the hierarchy that structures the social world of blogs, leading to the A-list celebrities and the thousands of others, as well as to multiple complexly linked micro-communities. Clark calls the blogosphere a “culture of upward mobility” based in the desire for recognition and approval (2002). "

I really am enjoying the blog the above article came from...makes for great conversation.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pen and Links

Now this is why Sharpie pens can be addictive...also, I keep forgetting about this link and how much I like it until I come across it on other sites.

Holiday Cheer

Thought I'd share some good pics from Xmas. Attie has graduated to the Johnny Jump Up; he really doesn't do too much jumping - but I think he likes it.

"and what is it that you expect me to do here?"
From xmas 2006

From xmas 2006

opening gifts with the fam
From xmas 2006

nap time
From xmas 2006

Lost Post

I just lost an entire post that I had been working on (on and off) for the last two hours. Needless to say I am a bit pissed as it was a great post about how if one followed the web surfing paths of an individual, you would most certainly get a glimpse of how their brain works. I had a huge list of all the sites I have been to today and why (plus from where I got there and how my personal brain must work.)

Damn. Oh well...I guess in the end, I was writing that entry for myself and in the process feel like I have gained a bit of my creativity back. Since having Attie - I have been as uncreative I have ever been. It's nice to know i still can feel passionate about creating again.

Here are some recently viewed crafty/design/cool product sites. I am putting this list here to show what i have been looking at the last hour or so but also to have a list here so i don't forget - many of these sites have great link lists.

Slow Day

When looking for articles to blog about on working moms vs. stay-at-home-moms - I found this cool tut...what a great little idea (I have been known to hoard paint chips just WAITING for something like this to find me).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Time

I bumped into a friend of mine yesterday at Sage - she also has a new baby; 5 months. After asking if we had bought Attie any presents for Christmas (we haven't), she went on to tell me she had actually been getting shit from acquaintances because she hadn't either. Strange. As far as a new baby cares, his hands and feet are more of a toy than anything I could buy him (seeing as he is unaware that his hands and feet are actually attached, he could probably give a crap about holiday gifts).

Some of the things that people with no children say or do to those with children are amazingly shortsighted...and I can say this knowing that not even four months ago - I am positive I made some of the same comments myself. There are times I wish I could go back and just kick myself.

I am counting down the days until my new position starts in January - it will be so nice to be around people again. It's crazy how much I miss interacting with others, being apart of the community and conversation - any conversation at this point. I absolutely took it for granted before.

Christmas is tomorrow. For someone who said she has no money for gifts - I certainly had a ton to wrap in preparation for tomorrow. Happens every year.

Speaking of the holidays - there is nothing like a long nap on the couch during the long weekend. We have learned thru trial and error that the best way to get Attie to doze off (espeically if he is overdue for a nap) is to swaddle him like a mummy - works almost every time.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday with Gramma

Thursday is Attie's day with my mom which means I am always late to work- not because she is late picking him up but rather because we sit and have coffee before they leave making me not want to get on the road at all. Here we are this morning...I think I was already late when I took this.

From Dec 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Checklist Lover

Interesting NY Times article as a follow up to the Marriage Checklist Dwight mentioned below.

While I am certainly not one for super short courting periods before marriage (Dwight and I lived together 4 years before we finally married)...if my partner already knew all these items about me - and we "agreed" upon the terms of the marriage - what were to happen if something changed? or a life altering event occurred? or, God forbid - one of the parties was in a horribly disfiguring accident? Does that make the marriage null and void? I am certainly not a romantic - truth be told, neither Dwight nor I are - but to me, this idea of a checklist spouse is horribly unromantic and, as long as there is mutual respect and a love to learn, unnecessary.

Dwight - You do remember before procreating, we agreed I would provide the necessary caloric intake for the Homo Sapien offspring as long as you would agree to provide enough of the financial means to secure shelter and food? Not to mention the agreed upon twice a month sexual relations. Are we still on the same page?


Maggi Here.

There are many things that I took for granted before we had Atticus that I now really look forward to...namely weekend mornings and driving alone - especially at night

I have never been a morning person (my family can attest to that), but with Attie waking up every morning all's hard not to look forward to them. After what seem like grueling evenings filled with colicky crying - it is so nice to spend quality time with a smiling and utterly happy baby. Conversely, weekday mornings can be rather heartbreaking because of this...the last thing I want to do is drop off my perfectly content and beaming child at daycare knowing they will get to stare at all those wonderful smiles while I am sitting at work staring at my not-so-smiley computer. Computer or smiles...I would have to go with the latter. BUT then there come the weekend mornings. Coffee in bed with a baby full of smiles. If you would have told me before Atticus that I would love mornings...I would have laughed in your face.

Last night I dropped off some food at Vini and Rob's and was able to sneak a peek at their new little girl. At only a week and a few days old - she is so tiny! On the quite drive home alone (another activity I used to take for granted) it struck me how far Dwight, Attie and I have actually come in the past three months.

It took a brand new baby and two very tired and very new parents to make me realize that, believe it or not, we are actually doing an okay job at this parenting crap. Yes, the nights seem to be longer that ever and yes, there are very very few baby-less moments between Dwight and I - but we ARE progressing and things ARE getting more familiar. Hell, I would almost say - we are beginning to know what we are doing (until the routine changes again of course). We are all going to be just fine at the end of all least until the rules change.

First Timer

Well, here it is-my very first blog post. I like to think that my postings will remain focused and relevant to the issues of the day, but in reality I'm sure I'll do exactly what I try not to do in the classroom-rant and break off onto strange tangents. But, in the interest of time, I'll share with you what's on my mind at the moment and then see where that leads us. I just finished reading a couple of New York Times articles over my lunch break and I have to say I'm excited to see the new Clint Eastwood movie about the battle for Iwo Jima as seen from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers tasked with defending the island. Why am I excited? because I believe this is the first time a director has filmed two movies back to back depicting the same battle as seen from opposing sides. While A.O. Scott makes mention of the dehumanization necessary on either side of any military conflict, I strongly recommend Gwynne Dyer's War to anyone interested in learning more about why soldiers on any side do what they do. Additionally, check out Why We Fight, a great documentary on the rise of the military-industrial complex in America. As a former infantryman myself, I'm morbidly fascinated by studies/reports/films/novels that analyze the psychology behind armed conflict and how any boot camp can undo in 4 months the moral training of the prior 18 years. Any thoughts? Can we blame video games? Apocalypto?
The second NY Times article that caught my eye is a checklist for couples considering marriage. While worthwhile and interesting, I am a little suspicious of supposed experts who claim that a marriage can be made more ideal by ticking items off of a list. Is it possible that such lists attempt to simplify and streamline what cannot or should not be simplified and streamlined? Can two dynamic individuals ever honestly complete such a list knowing full well that any of a thousand different things could radically alter the agreed upon results of the checklist? And what then? A new checklist? Now, I know that most of the items on the list are logistical issues that probably won't change all that much-for example, barring any mid-life-crisis-inspired decision to buy a Corvette on impulse (is there any other way? Do people who buy Corvettes really plan years in advance to purchase one of these things?) the couple in question is unlikely to alter their spending/saving habits all that much-but other items are too subjective. Maggi and I never actively discussed our mental health backgrounds, but then I never invited Maggi to my prostate exam, either. Now see that, what I just did? That's a rant. But seriously, is a "good" marriage defined by the kind of e-harmony profile matching "try before you buy" mentality so pervasive in our society? What if I suffered from frequent bouts of insomnia and my wife didn't know because I felt ashamed or afraid of losing her? I know I'm oversimplifying (I often do, call it the curse of the high school teacher), but checklists like this seem dangerously appealing to people who foolishly believe that their marriage can as tiered and structured as their career track. That is all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

3 Months Old Today

Maggi Here.

The little man is already 3 months he is with Dwight on the front stairs.

From Dec 2006

I take of every Tuesday in order to spend with Atticus (plus we only could get daycare three days a week). Today just happens to be his three month b-day. I am still in awe at how fast and slow time can seem at the same time. Fast when you look back at what has been accomplished and slow when awake at 2 am, 3:30 am and especially 4 am with a baby up for no reason.

Every week Tuesday rolls around and I expect to accomplish all the items that have been on my mind but have not had time to do - and every Tuesday they never get done. The goal today was to get some xmas shopping done...but of course, it was a no go. I even took Attie to TJMaxx, walked around and decided to do this all another day - and walked out with nothing. Some of me is annoyed that I can't seem to get anything done, but the majority of me has started to not care as long as I can spend a good day with Atticus. Amazing how my priorities have shifted and things that were at one time very important...seems to fall by the wayside or find themselves getting pushed off the to do list (or at least to the very bottom).

Here's Attie and my mom from Thurs of last week

From Dec 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Snooze, snooze, snooze

Maggi Here.

With Attie's not-quite-awake-not-quite-asleep-fussing last night - both Dwight and I didn't really get much sleep. Seems like the best sleep of a restless night is around the time the alarm goes off. After hitting snooze, snooze, snooze - we are both up late leaving 20 minutes to get Attie fed, changed and ready for Pen Bay. Needless to say, I was 1/2 hour late to work. Even tho I really don't need to be here at any specific time (somewhere between 8 and 9 is fine) I still felt I needed to take off in the Fit without fully defrosting the windows. It is around a half a block from home when I usually realize that looking thru a quarter-sized peephole is not the safest way to drive to work - my ego will not allow me to pull over to let the windows unfreeze - and I find it necessary to use copious amounts of windshield wiper fluid to keep the windshield from freezing back over into a frosty mess.

I only have 11 days left here in Union making it very hard to want to work on any new projects. There are a handful of things I know I need to get done - somehow, none seem very appealing. Instead I find myself surfing around online or catching up on emails. I have found that i find some of the greatest links when procrastinating during the day - especially design links. Most are tools that I promise myself I will use when working on freelance - but promptly forget the minute I get home. To help stop this, I am going to start cataloging my bookmarks online with at work so I can find them. (my user name is magpie0816)

In the past the thing with blogging that gets me is the fact that I always have so many ideas for blogs during the day - but either can never remember them later OR feel like I have blogged too much with too many entries for one day (makes it seem I have no life). So instead of blogging on every little thing I think of, I will just have a little topic list at the end of the entry so I can both remember what i wanted to talk about (for future entries) and not bore the crap out of everyone. Deal?

Topics: Pumping, lunch at work, friends having babies, Portland condos, instant coffee

Today is the day

Maggi Here.

I have decided that today is the day to start blogging again. I have been thinking about this blog for some time and what I could write - especially during my down times at work (which until I start my new job in Jan, are quite often). I have also been working on a running list of cool and useful links from my hours of surfing that I would like to find home for.

A bit of background. This is the blog of Dwight and Maggi Blue (this is currently Maggi). We live in Midcoast Maine with our new son, Atticus in an old farmhouse (1905) that we are slowly renovating. Dwight is a HS English teacher and I work in various forms of communication, public relations and design. We are both 30 years old and were born and raised in the Midwest. Dwight in Nebraska and me Illinois.

I would like this to be a blog for my random thoughts, links and projects - and of course of baby photos. Who can resist a blog of baby photos - eh? I will let Dwight explain his blogging reasons as they may be different from mine.