The Question of Content

The muse for this post was this Veritasium video – I started to share/ comment on Facebook, but quickly realized I was writing a small novel.

While I certainly don’t have the kind of subscriber or viewer numbers to really matter at this point anyway (and the shift in my time and attentions once grad school started slumped down what numbers I did have as I simply wasn’t making anything at that point), but this is something I have been seeing as well: The rise in time-sensitive video topics and click bait.
 
I haven’t posted anything myself in some months – either here or on Youtube. I’ve been working on some doll unboxing videos here and there since the start of the year, nothing to upload yet, just a number of them in various states of completion. And I have been hesitant to post what I have done, as many of those videos would now be considered “old news”.
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The Moana doll that I got for Christmas? I haven’t even seen her for sale for over a month. Those Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice collector dolls from Mattel were only big right after that movie came out. Is it even worth the time at this point to finish editing the unboxing of the Batman doll I got? The big thing in the doll-world at this moment is the new Ken dolls. My most viewed blog post was from Feb 2016 when I wrote that comparison between all the new Barbies and Lammily. I’ve considered doing a companion for these new guys, but I would need to go buy the short Ken and there are already dozens of other blogs and videos at this point. So is it worth it? And even if I could manage to stay on top of every new release and quickly turn out new content for every new hot item, I certainly don’t have the income to buy every hot doll that comes out the moment it comes out. I really need to re-assess what kind of content I’m creating.
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Readership has been steadily decreasing – I deeply appreciate those of you who stick around despite the periods of lull. 

Although the Spring semester ended nearly 2 months ago, I’ve not yet produced what I had hoped to. I’ve taken some of that time to just relax and allow myself to de-stress rather than quickly switch gears and just keep pushing myself. It’s been worth it. My creativity has started to flow again. I have ideas again. That urge to make things has come back — If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen some of these results. (Sorry, Twitter people, I always mean to post there as well, I just don’t always remember).
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I made this little bodhran and tipper just the other day.

I have roughly another month and a half left before the Fall semester begins. Let’s see what I can churn out in that time.
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Still Alive!

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Thought I’d pop on here and write another check-in sort of post as I have been MIA for some months (Yay Grad School!). My blog, my Youtube channel, my Twitter, and my Facebook page all seem to have gone dark recently while I’ve been scrambling to stay afloat this semester. I’ve still been posting to my personal Facebook, though – and I had started to write another post there when it occurred to me that perhaps I can just start posting some of those things here instead. Sound good? Ok!

List of Things I Want to Eventually Do (But Currently Don’t Have Time For):

  1. Make more doll clothes – I have all of these ideas in my head of epic outfits I want to make! So much 1/6 scale Cosplay in my mind!
  2. Learn Turkish – Ok, so I actually started learning some Turkish last summer via Skype lessons with Mehmet Seyhan (I encourage you to check out his Youtube channel. He teaches both Turkish and Japanese). Unfortunately, I was unable to stick with the Skype lessons because of the demands of grad school and have lost part of what I did learn…
  3. Learn how to play the spoons – Have you ever heard anyone play the spoons? This is just cool.
  4. Get back into fiddle – I actually started playing the fiddle 11 years ago, inspired by the fiddler for a local Celtic band I was enthralled with in undergrad. I wasn’t the greatest at it, but one can only get better with practice. I haven’t touched it in years.
  5. Learn Irish – I’ve been enthralled with Gaeilge since I was in 7th grade. However, I never had many resources for learning it until recent years and no one to really practice with.
  6. Learn Irish Dancing – Another thing I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. But I lived in a small midwestern town where there weren’t many outlets for it and the couple there were, I wasn’t even aware of until I was in undergrad. And now I am much too old for any of the schools I have access to.
  7. Return to Aikido – I started studying Aikido when I was 17. (This is where the “aiki” in my Twitter handle aikifox85 and bookstore AikiFox Books comes from) I was passionate and very involved for a number of years. And then I moved to Champaign 11 years ago when I transferred from community college to the University of Illinois in undergrad and no longer had the time and money to continue. Or rather, I prioritized other things.
  8. Learn Hindi – I know a handful of words and a few sentences that I’ve picked up from movies and from Indian friends over the years. I started trying to teach myself around the same time I started this blog, actually. As is a common theme for me, I got distracted with other things. I still have the books, though.
  9. Make a quilt for myself – I made that Batman quilt for my brother some years ago, which he still has and sleeps with regularly, but have not made another quilt since. And I never *did* manage to go anywhere with the Nataraja quilt idea I had…
  10. Travel – So many places I want to visit! I want to go to India, Turkey, and Ireland most. I want to see Canada, especially Nova Scotia. I want to visit places here in the US as well that I have never seen. Fun Fact: Prior to meeting my boyfriend, I had actually started the paperwork to join the Peace Corps. For better or worse, I chose to stay and invest my time and energy into exploring and then building that relationship. I still feel that pull to venture outward, though.

There are so many wonderful and exciting things in this life, so much to do, to see, to learn – more than can be experienced in a single lifetime. And this is leaving aside the fact that in many cases time and/ or money are luxuries people do not have. And now, back to homework – in the hopes that someday I will have the time and the money in which to do all of these things.

The Tale of Warby Parker

This blog post will be showcasing cool new eyewear from Warby Parker.
This post is a bit different in that I was specifically asked if I would write something.
I do my homework on anything I plug and value transparency, so I’m being upfront that this post is a bit different. I’m not being paid or given anything for this beyond a promise to share my blog. So, exposure.

What is Warby Parker?

In simple terms, they are a cheaper, socially conscious alternative to the traditional route of buying glasses. They offer designer eyewear in a range of styles starting around $95. I’ve only ever purchased one pair of glasses in my life, and it cost me upwards of $200 with vision insurance. So, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me, based on my one prescription eyewear purchase. How are they able to cut the cost? According to their website:

“Most high-end brands do not produce their own eyewear. Instead, they sell those rights to massive companies who design, manufacture, and sell branded glasses directly to optical shops. Those optical shops tack on additional mark-ups to frames and lenses before selling them to you. We cut out the middleman by designing and producing our own eyewear, then passing on the savings to customers. We effectively sell glasses wholesale (because it makes no sense for customers to pay for multiple mark-ups).”

The trade off of this that I want to point out, so that you can make informed choices in your purchases, is that the “middle man” is other peoples’ jobs. If you’re seeing an eye doctor from a local business in your community, not buying your glasses from said local business might be cutting into their ability to stay open. If you’re seeing an eye doctor that isn’t connected to their own shop or is located in a big box store, just get your script and buy from these guys.

That said, you’re already reading this online, so chances are you already do oddles of shopping online, sending money outside your local community. I do too. I’m not placing any value judgement or saying one option is better than the other, I just try to lay everything on the table. There are also other options for buying glasses online (which also hurt the local shop), that aren’t as committed to sustainability or fair labor practice or working to connect developing communities around the world with better vision.

They also have a freaking monocle! That’s admittedly kind of awesome…

The Goods

Warby Parker introduced 10 new frame styles for their Winter 2016 collection. I’m going to showcase some of my favorites, but you can see the rest of this collection and all they have to offer HERE

  • Daisy
    These are my favorite. If I ever need to replace my current glasses or decide to get new ones just for a change in style, I’d go with these. They’re like a sleeker, sexier version of the classic nerd look. I like it.
  • Morris
    I don’t really have much of anything of substance to say about these. Another take on the classic nerd look. Mostly I just think this model is hot. And I honestly think the glasses are adding to that appeal – I’m trying to picture him without the glasses and it doesn’t seem the same. So, if you’re a dude with this face shape and want to increase the likelihood that I or someone with my taste would think you’re attractive, maybe go with these ones.

Hey girl, I think we should study together.

  • Goodney
    Cat Eyes! Meow! Updated take on an old school style. Can’t go wrong.
  • Welty
    Alright, clearly I have a thing for the classic nerd look. Here’s something a bit more fun.

The Struggle Is Real

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Homework keeps me away from blogging for long stretches of time, and so the traffic dwindles. Looking at that bigger picture, though: My MSW.

Oh, do I long for the days when I was complaining about what I thought was a lack of time. Nary did I realize just how much I could push myself to do in short spans of time. Grad school does not screw around. I’d been out of college for 7 years – there are parts of my brain I’ve had to drown in WD-40.

One of the myriad assignments I’m working on this weekend, is a policy brief for the school’s blog site. Yeah, I’m about to get graded on blogging. And, for better or worse, I’m putting my name on it and planning to link back here. I figure any prospective employer or future client can easily find my blog through a cursory googling of my name, so I may as well just go for the cross traffic.

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Although, I am competing with a doctor in Texas for relevancy.

Afterall, I’ve been watching my stats steadily decrease as this page has fallen to the bottom of the priority list since entering grad school. So, Hello newcomers, those trying to decide whether or not to employ me, and random stalkers! Welcome! 😀

As I was saying, I’m trying to put together something decent for this blog assignment. Of course, it made me think of my own poor neglected blog. And so…

I’ve missed you, Blog. I can just be myself with you. You never care about what I’m wearing or how I look – Video always demands that I look my best and then he makes me feel bad because I’m not as conventionally attractive as other Youtubers. He doesn’t listen to me quite the same way. He never wants to just lay in bed and relax in peaceful contemplation together. But, I have to admit that I’ve been seduced by Video. He’s flashy, charismatic, and is quite popular. Can you blame me?
You see, Blog, as much as I love you, there is no way you can ever meet all of my needs, just as Video can never meet all of my needs… I love you both, I…

Ok, that might be the line on literary personification. I don’t see any way going forward with that wouldn’t get creepy. Anyhoo — If you follow this blog, I do recommend checking out the Youtube channel as well. I don’t always link all my videos here, and there have been quite a few. Here is a bit of what you’ve been missing:

-I recently made one of those sped-up coloring videos. The time it took for all the video to render was ridiculous.

-I also managed to pick up one of the 50th Anniversary Star Trek collector Barbies…

The Smell of Melted Plastic in the Morning…

On a day when my energy is all but drained and my uterus is waging war on me, this is how I manage to maintain some semblance of productivity. Hello again, long abandoned reader! Tell me in the comments how you’ve managed to survive without me over the past month – I promise I’ll read it, but I’ll likely make one of the dolls respond. Let me know who your favorite dolly is and I’ll tape them to the laptop with the hair dryer pointed at them until they write back to you.

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Now… updates. I survived my first semester of grad school – I even aced both of the courses I took. I don’t really feel the least bit celebratory about it, though. I’ve been out of school for some years and I’ve never held a 4.0 before. You’d think I’d be ecstatic. I think I’m too busy looking at the 5 classes I’ll have to juggle starting a week from tomorrow. If I come out of that in December with the same success, then I’ll let myself acknowledge it.

I’ve been doing my best to make the most use of these two weeks between semesters: I took a trip to visit friends and family for a couple of days last week, I spent another couple of days doing a major purge of clothes I’ve been hoarding in my closet for 6 years, and I’ve been working on filming videos for Youtube that I can hold onto for when I inevitably get too bogged down with homework to create during the coming semester.

I recently collaborated with the Volunteer Superviser from the Books to Prisoners program I’m involved with to create a couple of videos. The first of these videos serves to break down how the Books to Prisoners program works overall and how to go about connecting inmates to them. The second of these videos, which I’ve just publicly released today, discusses what volunteers do and how to get involved.

Despite having been working with them for over a year, this was a learning experience for me as well. For the most part, the role I play, important as it is, can sometimes feel disconnected from the everyday workings of the organization.

I don’t have a coherent ending to this, so, here are some photos of dolls:

On My Mind

I should be working on my midterm paper for my human development class right now. But I keep getting distracted and checking my personal Facebook account. My heart is so sad right now…

I don’t even know what to say or where to focus my grief. A couple of weeks ago, I posted this video on Youtube:

Already overwhelmed by all of the important news stories going on throughout the world, I didn’t know what I should say or how to process it. I needed to tune out and take a break. In just the couple of weeks since that video, even more chaos has erupted. There have been terror attacks by ISIS in Istanbul and in Baghdad, during Ramadan of all times. I considered whether I should change my profile picture to an image of the Turkish flag but then decided not to because I didn’t see how that would help any more than all of the well meaning, but ineffective, thoughts and prayers. And this coming in the wake of the Orlando shooting that I was still processing.

Now there have been more lives needlessly lost on American soil as two more black men have been murdered by police. Unfortunately, this is not a new story. This has happened time and time again, more times than we have news coverage for. There is a long standing pain being felt in African American communities that I have never experienced, but have heard about from the voices of members of those communities. Then just the other night, a group of police officers in Dallas lost their lives by sniper fire that, from accounts I’ve read thus far, came from a couple of black men. And I feel pain for the loss of these lives as well. As much as it seems the media wants to have us believe that this is an either/ or situation, it is not. I recognize and commend the men and women in law enforcement that put their lives on the line to serve and protect – but we also need standards and accountability.

There is so much pain and hate and hurt and sorrow…

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A Transition and A Shameless Plug

     A couple of fairly significant changes have taken place over the last few weeks. 10 days ago I officially started Graduate School. I knew this was coming, I’ve done my best to ready myself for entering into full time school again after getting my BA 7 years ago, but I am admittedly still scrambling a bit. My first paper was due yesterday morning and I only managed to finish it 8 minutes before class started. (I may recycle some of my homework here if I ever find myself in need of subject matter >:)  )
I also handed in my resignation letter and left the full time job I’d had for 3 years on the same day. I had intended on continuing to work full time, but, about a week and a half before my (former) co-workers and I were all handed letters saying that the shelter would be closing and we were to be reassigned within the agency. I chose to leave rather than chance jeopardizing school with an uncertain but likely fluctuating schedule.  I am a day-walker once more.

     Fortunately I was eligible for student loans, so as long as I stick to a budget, I will be able to survive. However, being loans, I will have to pay them back eventually. I don’t even want to do the math on what my student loan debt is going to be when I’ve finished this program. Why is higher education in the United States so damn expensive?
Thankfully, I’m still generating some kind of income from my gig with Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners. The downside however, is that I can’t budget it as there is no way of knowing how many books I will sell from one month to the next. So, if you’re reading this, whether you’re a regular reader or someone that happened across this one post, consider buying a book from my Amazon store, AikiFox Books, and helping to support both myself and this pretty cool non-profit. Especially now since this is now my primary income source. I’m not trying to guilt trip you or anything (totally a guilt trip)  😉

And for all of you that haven’t followed me on Youtube yet (what are you even waiting for? Go subscribe to me, damnit!) here is a video from earlier in the month (perhaps a week before finding out about the shelter closing) that shows you what is pretty much a typical night at B2P: