Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 In Review

Posting here because I'm fairly certain no one reads it, but I wanted to do this silly survey and reflect!

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Moved thousands of miles away from home, graduated from college

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Probably work out more, which I did, so yay me! My new resolution is going to be accepting myself for who I am, particularly addressing certain body image issues I have. Just in general trying to be more happy with the way I am.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. Thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit?
I moved to Texas. Seriously is another country.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A trip abroad.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
1/27 (my birthday). 5/18 (graduation). Actually, 5/12-5/18 (senior week). 6/7 (first day of work).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Graduating Summa Cum Laude (a huge goal for me). Moving to Texas, supporting myself, loving what I do. Taking steps towards my future without too much fear.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not spending all of my time with the group of friends that meant the most to me and not keeping in touch as well as I should..

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Got my butt kicked by the flu. Oh, and had some sort of cyst that just kind of.. went away. That was actually a happy ending!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My massive print of Tower Bridge in London.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All of my friends'. Colin, for being so open for moving down here and coping with my stress and breakdowns all by himself. My parents, for being really nice to each other during my graduation.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The way some people treat my friends

14. Where did most of your money go?
Moving to Texas (gas, rent, food). Oh... and I kind of spend a lot on wine!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My friends, graduating, taking the next step

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
"Don't Forget to Remember Me", "Don't Stop Believin", "Livin' on a Prayer"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier.
b) thinner or fatter? same, I hope?
c) richer or poorer? a smidgen richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hanging out and relaxing

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Stressing, worrying about classes and grades, feeling sorry for myself, giving into anxiety

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
In New Jersey with Mom and then in Vermont with Dad.

21. What was your favorite month of 2008?
January and May.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Stayed in love.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Psych (It's on USA and it's hysterical!) and Chuck!

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Actually, yes, but just because of what they did in #13.

26. What was the best book you read?
Every trashy book by Janet Evanovich that I could find! The lead character is a Jersey Girl!

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Neko Case

28. What did you want and get?
My first "real" job, an insane GPA, trips to San Fran and Hawaii, the best friends in the world

29. What did you want and not get?
I think I got everything I wanted. Wow. At least, 2008 has not left me wanting, as far as I can think of at the moment.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hm... I just saw Rachel Getting Married and that was fantastic, so let's go with that.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
It was my 22nd birthday and I saw a Neko Case concert and went to a pub and the next day went wine tasting at Seneca Lake with a bunch of awesome people :-)

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being able to stay in Ithaca with everyone and be crazy college kids forever

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Poor professional.

34. What kept you sane?
Colin :-)

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
That guy from Journeyman who's now in Grey's. And the guy from Psych.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Human rights

37. Who did you miss?
Wine night people. Ithaca friends. My mom. My dad.

38. Who were the best new people you met?
In January, everyone from wine night. In June, my awesome coworkers!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Don't be afraid to make a change and go outside your comfort zone. It might be the best thing you've ever done.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Cause these are the days worth living
These are the years we're given
And these are the moments
These are the times
Let's make the best out of our lives...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Mount Vernon is the happiest place on Earth. No. Seriously. It beats out Disney in my book. Everything about it is a historical site gone right. From its painstakingly accurate representations of George Washington's home and grounds to a state of the art museum that matches media with in depth historical interpretations, Mount Vernon is a testament to the man Washington was.

The highlights:

1. Only 25 visitors at a time are allowed into the actual house, preventing it from getting unbearably crowded. Each section has its own guide that points out items of interest and tells you what occurred in each area. These people know their stuff - I didn't hear a question they couldn't answer. And Martha Washington had some good decorating sense!

2. Washington's tomb, built to his specifications in the early 19th century. It's in a secluded area of the grounds and it almost feels magnetic, pulling you forward to look upon the markers for George and Martha. It was quiet and serene, and twice daily ceremonies are held at the site.

3. The view! Washington was right when he said "No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this."

4. The education center, which just opened recently and is a testament to where museums can go with a little funding and a lot of ingenuity. From videos to interactive exhibits to a great children's room, the Mount Vernon museum did so many things right. The best part, by far, was a film about Washington's role in the American Revolution, complete with rumbling seats, fog machines, and multiple screens showing reenactments. So cool!

5. The Mount Vernon Inn, with its 18th century theme (including costumes for the servers!) and really nicely priced lunch menu... rosemary chicken to die for!

I think that's it. I also visited American University and absolutely loved it! Oh, and we visited the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum and I was consistently underwhelmed... I also felt bad for Pluto, whose "dwarf planet" status led workers to cover it in black plastic bags and attach tacky captions explaining its new title. An example to come once I find internet that works consistently (which is why this post has no title).

That's all for now! More museum reviews to come, I'm sure!

Monday, July 2, 2007

GM misses the point... again

"As you know my online handle is Optimus Prime. So I'm like set up...or whatever...with the best possible net handle for when the movie comes out."
-Elias, Clerks II

I'd like 5 minutes in a board room with GM and their ad agency just so I can talk to them and they can hear the voice of someone from their so-called "target" of young people 18-34.

I'm most upset by this heinously underinformed and completely biased article that appeared in the New York Times today. I'll pull out a few quotes in case you can't access it or don't feel like reading an article that shows exactly what people don't get about product placement.

''You're going to see these cars as the heroes. You're not going to see the other actors,'' said Dino Bernacchi, GM's associate director of branded entertainment. ''These cars are the stars, literally, in the movie.''

Hey Dino. Listen up. Product placement is NOT supposed to be at the fore of an "artistic" production (artistic in quotes as the director is Michael Bay, who has produced such gems as "Pearl Harbor"). The cars are supposed to complement the overall plot line, blending seamlessly in and giving viewers only a hint of the brand, so they merely walk away with more brand familiarity and perhaps a better opinion of the brand.

''Product placement has never been so blatant, and the potential for a global platform to build brand awareness could not have come at a better time for GM,'' said David Koehler, a clinical marketing professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dave - As a marketing professor, you should know that overly blatant product placement has, for the most part, met with negative reactions from the general public (for example, Heroes fans complaining that the Nissan Versa has too much of a role in the plotline). Repeat after me: blatant is bad, subtle is super! (Edit: from a New York Times article on 6/13 - "For example, many viewers of the NBC series ''Heroes'' scoffed at scenes in which, as part of a deal with the Nissan Motor Company, characters not only drove a Nissan Versa but referred to it by name continually in the dialogue."... just to back this up with sources, unlike other stories I could mention.)

Those who shell out to see ''Transformers'' probably aren't all that concerned about free-falling market shares or upcoming union negotiations. They want action, and that's what they're going to get from these GM vehicles.

This is a quote from the article itself. Clearly, making assumptions is good journalism. So is promoting the GM brand by saying that these vehicles provide action.

The Solstice, TopKick and Hummer can be seen driving down a local thoroughfare on any given day, but the Camaro won't be produced until late next year.

This is an insult to the practice of product placement. Why place a product that's not even available for sale? If this does even appeal to a 28 year old with thousands to burn on a GM car, they can't even get it.

GM has some serious issues with advertising, this I already knew. But even when they turn to alternative means, they screw it up. This blatant show of the GM name is sure to alienate their 18-34 target audience, who are very advertising savvy and, unlike Elias from Clerks II, unlikely to buy a car just because it played a Transformer in a movie.

So, GM, before you spend hundreds of millions more on your advertising budget and continue to cut employees to compensate, why not have a few focus groups, maybe hire a few interns, and get a grip on reality. Oh, and drop $20 and pick up a copy of "Life After the 30-Second Spot". It'll save you millions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Small problem at the Smithsonian

This morning I was reading this article, and it really upset me. Not just because some jerk was allowed to come into a museum, a source of public knowledge, and abuse it for his own material gain, but because he was allowed to get away with it because there was no method of watching over his spending. That's absolutely outrageous, when it comes to spending as much money as he did.

A key point in the article is this 55 page report that I'm going to try to track down, and it includes "a new rule that prohibits staff members from serving on corporate board". No... really? I understand the quest to earn as much money as possible in a lifetime (well, sort of), but to take a position on a board that would call into question not only ethics but level of commitment is outrageous. This is what I will go to graduate school for, this is what I will train to do. It will be a job. There is a world of difference between moonlighting and serving a for-profit company that conflicts with non-profit interests.

A point that I'm confused about in the article is the complaints about the former director's deal with Showtime to create Smithsonian programming, so stay tuned, I'm going to look into that.

But the Smithsonian's annual budget is $700 million. Contrastingly, the museum I work for up here (granted, a small town historical society) makes it work with less than $100,000 in grants each year, constantly dipping into reserve funds. Are they a worse museum for it? Doubtful. I'd say it's more a matter of dedication. Yes, the director of the Smithsonian deserves to be compensated for his traveling and work-related entertainment expenses. But a house? Transport on a private jet? Get real.

A job like this should be done for the love of it - not for the ease of the scam or the contacts you'll make. Good riddance, Small, and clear the way for those of us who will love what we do.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Coming home

Tonight I spent some quality time with kids I haven't seen since I left middle school (and never looked back) - about 7 years ago. It was interesting, considering they only know me as that girl in 8th grade who was pretty smart and not ashamed of it. It was definitely weird being around people that only knew the 14-year-old version of me.

That's why I'm grateful for my family - which I was remind of because it's Father's Day... my family knows me better than most people I know - and that's so important to me. They're proud of me and they know what I've accomplished and what I ambition to do, and knowing those two things tells them so much about me - and that they care is amazing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now that's a mountain to climb...

I stumbled upon this while reading this morning, and it's something I just have to share. I'm reading "1776" by David McCullough, and early in the book he discusses the different maps created by the Continental Army and the British while the British were under seige in Boston.

According to McCullough, "All fortifications were clearly marked, all landmarks neatly labeled, including 'Mount Whoredom', Boston's red light district."

(To semi-properly footnote, that's on page 27.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Becoming unboring

It's no secret to most people who know me that I really really love museums. A lot. In fact, the highlight of my trips around Europe were frequently museums (or cathedrals or ruins, but the basic idea is the same). On the other hand, there are plenty of people (kids and adults) who start yawning at the very mention of visiting a historical site or (God forbid) actual museum.

I'm not including science museums in this generalization. Science museums have this added bonus of being very visual, very hands-on, and that attracts all sorts of people. The challenge facing art and history museums and sites is entertaining someone with something that isn't inherently dynamic.

My internship in London was at a site that used both its historical prowess (it was built in 1775) and its innovativeness (add an ice rink to digital exhibitions and what do you get?) to create what I feel is something much more than a gallery or museum. Visiting was much more of an experience, much more active than simply viewing or reading.

It's plainly obvious that museum attendance will suffer with the advent of Wikipedia and other online resources. Why would you need a museum when the information is at your fingertips? The answer to that question comes with changing the very foundation of what museums appear to be. They are not merely collections of objects - they are places that have an opportunity to tell an audience the story of the past, the lessons learned, the hows, whos, and whys of what made us... us.

Museums have to step up into the multimedia age and deliver an experience, but they can't forget why they are so unique - the access they have to these stories and their related artifacts is unmatched by any Wikipedia article.

I promise this blog isn't going to be all about my thoughts on museums and public history - but it is good food for thought!