From Mama Kat’s blog prompts: “Top Trends of 2011 I Want to Forget.” I don’t agree with most of Mama Kat’s list (yes to Google+, zombies, and life affirmations; for the rest of her list I’m either not bothered by it or didn’t realize it was a trend, so I wouldn’t pick those things), but I liked the topic.
Not all of the things on my list necessarily rose to popularity during 2011, but they were popular – or still popular – last year. And I’m SO over them. Surely I’m not the only one.
- “Checking in” to places or media on the internet. So you’re eating at Chili’s, or shopping at Wal-Mart, or watching Arrested Development. Good for you. If you have something of substance to say about it – a really good deal to be had, a funny conversation you overheard, some critical analysis – fine, share away. But I really don’t need to know your every move. Posts on Twitter and Facebook from Foursquare, Yelp, GetGlue, etc. are about to drive me bonkers. I get that some people check in to get a discount somewhere – and being a frugal gal myself, I support that – but can you disconnect your other social media accounts from your Foursquare account? K-thanx-bye.
- Bacon.Yes, I like bacon too. I think it tastes good. I enjoy bacon on my pizza, with my eggs, crumbled up on a salad, and in many other iterations. No, I do not think it belongs in cupcakes. No, I do not want bacon on my t-shirt or keychain.
- The end of the world.How many times was that predicted by that one crazy guy in 2011? And I’m already so far over the 12/21/2012 Mayan apocalypse thing. I’m pretty damn sure the world isn’t ending and all the jokes have been made. Let’s move on.
- 3-D everything.The vast, vast majority of movies that are put out in 3-D have no reason to be in 3-D except it’s a thing now. And most of them were not filmed/created in 3-D, so the effect actually sucks. Furthermore, I have ZERO desire to wear 3-D glasses on my couch in my house while I watch normal TV. This is something that should be rare and special and well-done when it’s done, and the trendy bit needs to die.
- Skinny jeans.Let’s be honest: only about 1% of the population actually looks good in skinny jeans. I’m especially over the men-in-skinny-jeans thing. What’s wrong with normal jeans?
- Hating on people who want to change the crappy things. Did I go down to my local Occupy protest and join in? No, I didn’t – but I understood why some people did. Do I grow all of my own food and can or freeze everything and raise chickens? No, but I totally understand why some people choose that lifestyle. Did I wear the same dress 365 different ways last year or commit to buying nothing but food and toilet paper? No, but I commend those who took a stand against rampant consumerism. So many of the systems we interact with every day are broken. They don’t work. The economy, healthcare and insurance, mega-corporations, politics, big food industry…most of these systems guarantee that the rich get richer at the expense of the pocketbook and the health of the middle class and poor. These systems need to change.So why do so many people ridicule their friends and neighbors for trying to change things?
- Judging people who don’t live as virtuous a life as you.As a caveat to the above, I also hate seeing the judgment in someone’s eyes when I admit that we don’t buy 100% all natural, organic, local whole foods, or that (God forbid) we ate hot dogs for dinner last night. Because the systems are broken, it’s a lot harder and more expensive to buy all local, healthy foods – I can only do my best within my time and budget allowance. And damn it, sometimes I want to eat a hot dog – I shouldn’t have to apologize for that.
- The government pretending that the economy is fine! No, really! It’s recovering and everything will be just hunky-dory soon! For serious? My house is currently worth at least $50,000 less than we owe on it. Almost every person I know is working hard (and sometimes failing) to make ends meet. Our country is currently $15 trillionin debt. Don’t worry about all that, though. The economy is really just fine! Stop patronizing us, assholes. We’re adults. We have common sense. Lying about it just makes you look duplicitous…which you are, but I’m guessing that’s not the public image you really want to have.
- Reality TV talent shows.American Idol. The X Factor. The Voice. America’s Got Talent. You know what I’m saying. I have never really enjoyed most network reality TV, but it seems like the talent show types are multiplying for some inexplicable reason. America really does not have that much talent. You are not destined to be a star. Go back to school and learn science or economics or communications or something useful.
- QR codes.I can never get them to scan correctly. They usually just take me to a website that could have been printed using less space than the QR code. I find them to be dumb and a pain in the butt.
How about you guys? Any trends you especially hope go away in the coming year?
Happy New Year! May 2012 find you healthy, wealthy, and wise!
Several years ago, I read a blog post where the blogger explained that a friend of hers preferred to give herself gifts for the coming year rather than making resolutions. The end result is essentially the same, but reframing your goals in this way is altogether more pleasant in my experience. I took her idea and have been doing the same thing ever since. It’s been a bit hard for me this year to think of gifts that I want and am capable of giving myself. I normally have this list down several days in advance, and yet here it is January 2 and I’m still trying to figure it out. I guess I feel like my goals aren’t really very different, that life isn’t very different, than they have been in the past few years. And then other goals that I might have, ones that cost money, are goals I’m hesitant to make for this year. Maybe that’s okay? Regardless, this is about all I have that I want and that I think I can achieve in 2012:
- The gift of a stronger, healthier body. I made progress on this in 2011, but I am by no means finished – probably ever, really. In 2012, I want to continue running – and I want to get faster. I also want to continue walking. I want to continue journaling my food most days. And I want to add a wee bit of strength training to the mix.
- The gift of an organized home and life. Because I failed miserably at this last year, I may just have to redouble my efforts. We live in a condo, and we’re not likely to be able to move out of it any time soon. We have a lot of stuff, especially books. I desperately need to purge, declutter, and organize so that we can more easily find and store the stuff we actually want to keep. This one will be hard, though – as much as I want the end result, I dread the process with every fiber of my being.
- The gift of more sleep. I don’t think I get enough sleep for me. I get enough sleep for someone else, I’m sure – at least 7 hours most nights – but my body does better with more sleep than that. I’ve been thinking about moving the bedtime routine up by about 30 minutes. I think I’m ready to try that, at least for a little while, in 2012.
So that’s about it – that’s all I’ve got right now for this year. Looking back on it, it’s kind of a lame list, but these are all things I really want, and I can’t think of anything else that is important to me in the same way. How about you? Do you make any big, year-long goals? What do you think of the “gift” list instead of the traditional resolutions?
At the beginning of 2011, I promised myself three gifts during the year:
- The gift of ever-improving health. Hey, I did good for half the year last year. Let’s see if I can outlast 6 straight months in 2011. I want to regularly exercise (3 times or more per week) and eat well (track my food intake 5 days a week) in 2011. And I want to do all this with a focus on my health, not necessarily on my weight or appearance.
- The gift of professional advancement. I will complete my Copyediting Certificate from UCSD in 2011. This is a little bit cheating since I’m already enrolled in the last class I need to do this, but I will finish, and it’s not a shabby accomplishment!
- The gift of beauty and organization. I want to continue my improvement and organizational plan from last year, finishing the kitchen and guest room organization, and doing the same for both bathrooms and the master bedroom.
So how did I do? Well, two out of three isn’t bad, is it?
I did pretty well on the first one. I did exercise fairly regularly and track my meals on most work days. As I’ve stated here recently, I’ve also begun a running program and have been running 3 days a week and walking 2 days a week in addition to keeping my food journal. I haven’t lost weight, unfortunately, but my body is stronger and healthier than it was a year ago – which was, after all, the goal.
The second was a bit of a gimme, so maybe it’s not fair to claim it as a victory, but I’m taking it anyway. I did, in fact, finish my Specialized Certificate in Copyediting from UCSD earlier this year. I also attended my first American Society of Training and Development conference for my day job, which was very exciting and allowed me to put into motion a number of new ideas for the associations I work with. So I definitely got myself some professional development for both my sideline editing work and my full-time association work, making this a win.
The third, however…oh, I kind of failed miserably on this one. If anything, I think my house is more crowded, cluttered, and dirtier now than a year ago. I organized nothing, decluttered nothing. I’d love for it to be done, but I don’t really want to do it.
So that’s where I stand on this year’s giftolutions, as I’ve been calling them. Not too bad, I think – better than lots of people do! Tomorrow or Monday you can look forward to my giftolutions for 2012. In the meantime, everyone have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!
A couple of years ago, on my former blog, I shared the details of the gifts I received for the holidays – also known as Lootmas, the part of Christmas that has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ, a phrase coined by the inimitable Joshilyn Jackson. I like to hear what other people got as presents, so I figured, hey, why not share my list during this post-Christmas time with no one is probably reading my blog anyway? I pinned this year’s Lootmas haul on Pinterest; click below to see it all.
More importantly, there were some good moments this Christmas that made me quite happy, all warm and fuzzy, like the following:
- Sharing a delicious Christmas dinner out with Dave’s family a week before Christmas
- Getting homemade eggs benedict after a nice sleep-in at Dave’s parents’ house
- Watching the old home movies that my mom had put onto a DVD for my cousins and sister, seeing our grandparents (and great-grandparents, and parents) in younger days
- Seeing my cousin’s daughter weep with joy over the Coach purse she’d been pining for that her Mimi (her grandmother, my aunt) got for her
- Watching my niece be delighted over all the awesome presents she got: a new bike, a tablet (Kindle Fire, her new BFF, she says), a new American Girl doll, a Lalaloopsy tree house, a gumball machine/bank, and lots lots lots more (8 is such a fun age for gift-giving)
- Working on a big pretty puzzle (which was a gift from my in-laws) with my mom and Dave, and a little help from my sister and niece
- Going to see the lights at the Elks Home and Liberty Lake Park, like we do every year
- Having my niece so attached to us that she jumped from me to Dave and back again and didn’t want to let us go so we could drive home
- Seeing all my family and just spending time with them and visiting – we don’t live far from either of our families, but it’s still wonderful when we get to spend quality time with them
I hope you all had a particularly lovely holiday. Any good loot or warm memories to share?
A few weeks ago, my friend Jen on the Edge invited her fellow bloggers to participate in the 4th annual Holiday Homes Tour that she hosts on the blogosphere. I immediately thought, What a great idea! Everyone posts photos of their holiday decorations and she collects the links all in one place! I’m in!
Ah, yes. Ambition. I haz it.
Too bad that my life has been so full ever since then that I have not had time to decorate. No tree. Nary a wreath or stocking. Not even a sparkly garland or a single strand of lights. And now that we’re so close to Christmas (and we’re not even going to be home on Christmas), it seems like far too much work to put it all up just to take it down again a week later. But I still wanted to participate – I thought that maybe by “decorating” on my blog, it would put me in a more festive spirit. So I asked Jen if she was okay with me posting pictures of holidays gone by, and she told me to do what I wanted. Since my house looks essentially the same every year anyway (I don’t change up the decor very much; I’m a creature of habit), this is a fair representation of what my house would look like this year if I’d had time to decorate it!
And there you have it, folks! My standard holiday decorating scheme. As you can probably tell, I have a bit of eclectic taste, and I’m totally sentimental – I most treasure my ornaments with sentimental value, not just the ones I bought for myself because I thought they were pretty (though I have some of those too). I don’t do a “theme” for my decorations, and I don’t buy ornaments or ribbons or whatever in particular colors. I tend to use things until they fall apart and keep all of my ornaments – even the childish or ugly ones, if they’re sentimental – on the tree.
How about you? Is there a method to your madness? Do you plan out your decorations and change things up every year? Or do you just do like me and put out the same stuff every year, maybe with a few extra ornaments that you were given the previous year?
I’m taking a break from the holiday cheer today to talk about something that happened a couple of weeks ago that I think is just incredibly amazing. You guys know how famous comedians usually do specials on cable TV, right? I mean, most well-known comics have had a special on Comedy Central and/or HBO. Those specials are usually recorded by the cable company and distributed over the cable network so that only subscribers can see it. They usually take a long time to put it out, too. The comedian usually gets an up-front fee, but doesn’t have rights to the video after the fact. The up-side of this for the comedian is that they get their name and their jokes out there without having to pay the significant fees to record and edit such a special. The cable company then makes money by offering exclusive content to its subscribers, either keeping them as customers or recruiting new customers, and also from advertising sales (for some cable networks, anyway). And those who already subscribe to the cable channels get to see the special for “free” (not really since they’re paying for cable, but whatever, they feel like they’d be doing that anyway). For the rest of us, though, we usually have to wait ages to see such a video until it’s released on DVD, then pay about $20 or so for said DVD, or rent it (paying money for something we then don’t own and have to give back)…or else steal it off the internet, as a growing number of people seem to be doing. It works OK, but I’ve long felt that cable companies are really losing out by ignoring a growing population of people watching TV online and not willing to pay $100+ per month for it. They’re stupid, actually – people are stealing from them* rather than paying those crazy prices. Not to mention it kind of sucks for artists to lose control of the rights to their work.
So what can be done differently? A stand-up comedian that we like a lot in this house – Louis CK – decided to do things differently, as an experiment. He paid to record his own performances in New York (which took place in November 2011), directed and edited a special together, paid someone to set up a website for him to sell it, and sold digital copies for $5 (starting in December 2011). The rules were that $5 would get you a couple of times to stream the video from the web and also a couple of times to download it so you could watch it for all time. The downloads were totally open – no DRM or restrictions or anything; you could burn it to a DVD to watch as many times as you wanted or whatever. On his website, he simply asked people not to steal from him, because he knew that the non-DRM format of the video would make it really easy to pirate but that he’d tried to price it really cheap so no one felt ripped off. He was advised that this was a bad idea. He was advised that people would steal the video and no one would pay for it. That he’d never recoup the cost of making the video with such a low selling price.
You know what? All those advisers were WRONG. Four days after he released the video – four DAYS – Louis posted this statement on his website noting the financials so far. He said how much he spent to record and produce the video ($170,000) and how much he spent to have the website and e-commerce set up ($32,000). Then he shared how much he’d made from people spending $5 per copy in 4 days. That figure was $500,000. FASCINATING. Sure, a few people probably stole it and pirated it on the internet. But by and large? Most people didn’t. Most people bought a copy. I think this was for several reasons: 1) Louis offered it at a fair and reasonable price; 2) they knew the money was going directly to the artist and not to a big corporation; 3) it became available quickly (less than a month after the original show) and easily to everyone with internet access.
This is not the first time an artist has bypassed a big distributor to sell straight to fans. In 2008, Radiohead made headlines by offering their new album (at that time), In Rainbows, for download on their website at the price of whatever people wanted to pay – including free, if they chose not to pay anything. The internet went wild – they loved the idea. The critics and lawyers, on the other hand, warned that they wouldn’t make any money at all. If they offered the album for free, then obviously everyone would download it and no one would pay for it. Fortunately for the band, all those skeptics were wrong. Not only did people buy the album – paying for whatever they wanted, as suggested – the album made more money than all three of their previous albums.
Certainly, in both of these cases, the artists were already very well-known. They had pretty large fan bases that were prepared to support them. Even so, in both cases, the digital product sold far beyond expectations, and pretty quickly at that. In addition, a number of authors – even relative unknowns – have bypassed the traditional publishing route to self-publish to Kindle or other e-books for less than $1 a copy, and they’re making money, even without the marketing or editing of a professional publishing house. And a few well-known authors have gone this route with new books, seriously upsetting the apple cart in the traditional publishing industry. What’s the takeaway here? Well, to me, this demonstrates that people are perfectly willing to pay a fair price for a product they want. But they’re not willing to pay what’s perceived to be a significant mark-up on a creative property, especially when the majority of the price doesn’t go to the creator.
Yes, some people will always steal things. They will take whatever they can get for free, legally or illegally. But given the opportunity, a fair price, and the knowledge that the actual creator is benefiting from the sales more than a faceless mega-corporation, most people will pay. Most people who I know that pirate material do it because they feel like there’s not a better alternative: they’re not willing to pay $1200 a year – or more – for cable, but they still want to access the programming that’s being aired when everyone else gets to see it. They don’t want the show spoiled for them in this age of the internet, where many websites, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. spill the details of the previous night’s episode almost immediately and unavoidably. They’d buy just that programming if it were available at a reasonable cost, but it’s not. And so they steal, pirate, torrent, whatever. In that scenario, everyone loses. But more and more artists are trying the direct-sell method, leaving out the middle man, and they’re doing it successfully. Maybe HBO needs to learn a lesson here?
*I’m not defending those who steal music, movies, TV shows, etc. Dave and I do not do that. We believe in paying creators for their creations. So we play by the rules…but it’s hard sometimes. And we know many people who do this and feel little guilt, because they believe the megacorporations are ripping everyone off. It’s not a terribly uncommon thing, and I applaud the artists and innovative companies who are trying to think of ways to fix the situation rather than making it worse.