March 23, 2007

Last Blogger Blog Ever!

Girl from the South officially has her own domain name.

www.girlfromthesouth.com

Am I cool now?

March 22, 2007

Buh-Bye Blogger

It's been a fun 3.5 years, but it's time to move on. After I attended a breakout session on local blogs last week at the Politics Online conference, I realized how behind-the-times I was with my blog.

Tuesday night, I set up a wordpress blog, so welcome to the new and improved Girl from the South. Wordpress is incredibly easy, and I'm shocked that I didn't switch earlier since I've been contemplating the move for a while. Within an hour, I had my template customized, my links updated and all of my archives transferred. My archives need some work since I moved them over from my orginial blog as well as this one and there's some duplication.

I still need to get my own domain name and make a few other changes, but I'm heading in the right direction. I absolutely love the customizable header on Wordpress. Thanks to flickr, I found public picture of Oak Alley in Louisiana.

Update your bookmarks and enjoy the new site.

March 20, 2007

The One Where the Smoke Detector Keeps Beeping While Pet-Sitting


Since last Thursday, I’ve been pet sitting my friend, R’s pooch while R is soaking up the rays in Ft. Lauderdale. Since I was stuck in town for the conference and happen to be a crazy dog person, I looked forward to spending the weekend with Ms. Daisy.

Daisy is an adorable Jack Russell/Beagle mix. She’s incredibly smart and R, does small-dog agility training with her. Since I hang out at R’s apartment a lot, Daisy has gotten to know me pretty well, so I didn’t anticipate any problems.

The past few days went by flawlessly. I made it to work on time every day even with the extra chores of walking and feeding Daisy in the morning. The biggest hassle was walking her in the pouring down rain. There’s something humbling about standing in the cold, freezing sleet cooing, “Poo, Daisy, Poo. It’s time to go potty,” while DC professionals pass you on the sidewalk.

Yesterday, R e-mailed to check in, and I replied that everything was fine. I should have realized that I was jinxing myself at that point.

Last night, I was getting ready for bed and watching a movie. Suddenly, I heard a beep, and noticed Daisy twitch. I blew it off since I was in a strange apartment. Then I heard it again a few minutes later. I looked up and noticed that the smoke detector right above R’s bed was beeping. I tried pressing the button to make it stop, but that didn’t work. Then I took out the battery. No luck. I pulled the case off and noticed that it was wired into the wall, so the Mr. and Mrs. M method of hiding it in the refrigerator wasn’t an option. I figured that short of electrocuting myself by cutting the wires, there was nothing I could do.

I tried to block out the beeping, but it was hard to do. I turned the A/C up and a fan on, but that only blocked out the sound of the movie and not the smoke detector. Then I noticed Daisy’s behavior. The beeping seemed to unnerve her. She’s rather skittish and takes anti-anxiety meds everyday. After an hour of the sporadic beeping, poor Daisy was curled up in a nervous ball next to me and jumping every time it beeped.

I tried to go to sleep, but nothing blocked out the noise, so I considered my options. Destroying the detector Phoebe-style wasn’t an option since it was wired into the wall. R has an efficiency, so I couldn’t go to another room. After two hours of beeping, I opted for escape.

So at 12:30 last night, I grabbed my suitcase, threw all my stuff in it, leashed up Daisy, grabbed my pillow and headed home. Thankfully, I’m only a few blocks from R's apartment, so it wasn’t bad. I’m just trying to imagine the sight of me wandering through the streets of NW DC in pajamas and a UT hoodie with my hair pulled back in a messy pony tail, holding a pink pillow and pulling a suitcase, while trying to control a nervous dog. Hopefully, I provided some amusement for the neighborhood.

Of course once we got to my place, Daisy was wound up and looking at me like, “Where the hell am I? I want Mom.” I finally got her to sleep at about 1:30 a.m. and decided that it was better both of us to get a few hours of quality sleep than a night of tossing and turning. This morning was extra fun too since I had to get ready at my apartment and then walk back to R’s situate Daisy for the day. Poor thing, the smoke detector is still beeping. She’s going to have a nervous breakdown before I get back today.

Good news is that R is coming home tonight, so at least Daisy gets her mom back.


BTW, thanks to everyone who's taken my survey. If you haven't done it yet, click here.

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March 19, 2007

Help a Grad Student! Take My Survey!

After hours and hours spent tweaking this survey, it's finally finished. Please, please take it. If you're reading a blog, you're Internet savvy enough to be a perfect responder. It's fast, easy and completely anonymous.

Thesis Survey

Thanks for your participation. Also, feel free to forward this link to anyone else who might want to take it. The more respondents, the better!

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Go-Go-Gadget Insults

Saturday night, I ventured down to Dupont Circle to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with a few friends. We decided to grab dinner before hitting the pub since Guinness should probably not be consumed by women on an empty stomach. The restaurant had yummy Irish-inspired cocktails that tasted like thin mint cookies (Bailey’s, crème de menthe and gin). Being girls, we decided to stop by the restroom before waiting in the extra long line for the pub. We were about walk out of the restroom when a girl walked in talking very loudly on her cell phone.

Girl: This drunk guy said I looked like Inspector Gadget and started singing the theme song! Then he said my shoes were hideous! I wanted to run to the bathroom and cry.

At this point, all four of us looked at each other and tried to suppress our laughter. The girl stepped into view and looked at us, ended her phone call and repeated her story.

Girl: This mean drunk guy outside said I looked like Inspector Gadget. Then he actually started singing the song. Do you think I look like Inspector Gadget?

To the drunk guy’s credit, the girl was wearing a belted trench coat that was rather Inspector Gadget-like. However, we assured her that she looked very nice, which she did. Then she pointed to her shoes.

Girl: Do you think my shoes are ugly? The guy also said they were hideous.

All four of us looked down at her shoes, which were a pair of cute, black flats. We all complemented them and told her that the guy was a drunken jerk who didn’t know what he was talking about.

Girl (sniffing): Thank you. After he said that I just wanted to run to the bathroom and cry.

At that point, we left the bathroom as Inspector Gadget Girl opened up her cell phone to share her story with someone else.

Now, I have to give this guy credit. Inspector Gadget is a rather witty comparison for the average drunk male in Dupont on a Saturday night. Furthermore since that was one of my favorite cartoons growing up, I’d be secretly complemented to be compared to the great cyborg secret agent, although I always wanted to be Penny with her cool book computer. However, once the guy insulted my shoes, it would be hard to refrain from exclaiming “Go-Go-Gadget Purse” and slap him crazy with my handbag.

Piece of advice for guys—never, never, never insult a woman’s shoes. Them’s fightin’ words. This poor girl probably spent a considerable amount of time examining her options and debating style vs. comfort. Even if the shoes are truly hideous, guys just don’t ever do it.

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March 18, 2007

Draft Fred Thompson

For the past couple of weeks, I've watched the buzz build about Fred Thompson's possible presidential bid. All I can say is please run!

No matter how many (placed) news stories or blog posts I read, I can't bring myself to like Giuliani, especially after I met one of his campaign directors last week, and he was an absolute jerk. Giuliani is just not a conservative. I know his camp is going for the "if you tell a lie loud enough and often enough" strategy here, but I won't buy it, nor will the true conservatives. Sure, he's a great leader and a hero of 9/11, but being President requires more than that.

John McCain? Oh give me a break. He's insane and rather creepy to watch too. The John Kerry flip-flop strategy would work well on him.

Mit Romney? His socialized health care in Massachusetts ruined that one for me. Health care is just not a right. If you want insurance, get an education. I've gone to pretty far lengths to get insurance, so it can be done. (Proving the Winston Churchill quote one day at a time...)

Duncan Hunter? Mike Huckabee? These guys really don't have a shot. That leaves us with Fred Thompson.

Thompson has high name recognition, a ton of experience, a solid Conservative record and he's from Tennessee. He's an excellent speaker and exudes confidence, and like (the campaigning) Bush, seems like a "regular guy." He just comes across as extremely likable and intelligent. His interviews have been stellar. He's a good candidate all the way around.

Also factor in his ability to carry most of the country. I honestly believe that neither Giuliani nor Romney could carry the South. My beloved region of the country has emerged as an important voting bloc, and I doubt anyone could win without carrying most of it.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a candidate that conservatives could get excited about? I've been dreading the election season, thinking I'd have to go into a "any one's better than Hillary or Obama" mentality, but Thompson could save the GOP from the brink of disaster, which seems inevitable at this point.

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March 16, 2007

Technology Thoughts

Day 2 of the Politics Online conference and my mind is swarming with new ideas and theories. The conference has evolved into buzzwords. The "Obama Phenomenon" (try saying that 10 times fast), the "Dean Model/Effect," the "BC04 mobilization plan" and the incredibly overused "Macaca moment." It seems that politicos must use sound bytes in everyday conversations now.
(Oops! I just became the person who spilled a giant cup of coffee. Damn, that was 16 oz. of caffeine that my body desperately needed. Thank goodness, I have no shame. I'm so used to making a fool of myself in public that I don't get embarrassed easily.)

Now, (after I cleaned up my spill and found a new chair on the other side of the room) I'm sitting in a session on data management. This does actually interest me because your campaign is only as strong as your research. However, the moderator just said that they're "bringing the sexy back to data." Sheesh.

Brief memo to conference speakers:
1) People aren't switching ISPs frequently anymore.
2) The digital divide doesn't exist or is a minor factor. Between 75-80% of all Americans have web access now.
3) The divide on the web is now between people with high-speed access and dial-up.
4) Myspace is not the panacea for social networking. Read the news articles. It's actually trending down. Facebook is a much better example of using social networks efficiently.
5) Does anyone over 35 actually understand the concept of social networking? Does that explain why the parties just don't get it?
6) Just because something is talked about a lot doesn't make it a good fit for your organization. Don't just create a Facebook profile because everyone else is doing it. The tactic needs to fit your strategy.

Overall, I've noticed several themes coming from this conference that fit the general trends in communication. We're at a crossroads in the communications world and are literally watching a paradigm shift in the way that we communicate. Traditionally top-down models are no longer accurate. While they're still being used and probably will be for a few more election cycles, they are quickly going to be outdated. New media or Web 2.0 are changing strategies and tactics so quickly that it's difficult to figure out how to build a plan. We know that these new methods should be used, but how do you measure? What are the metrics of social networking? Are click-through rates on a web site accurate measures on changed attitudes? How do you incorporate bloggers and youtube into a traditional media campaign?

What we're seeing is a widespread demand to relinquish control of the message. Best case scenario--this is incredibly scary. Worst case scenario--the decision makers decide to keep control of the message and eventually work themselves into oblivion. The gatekeepers are no longer necessary, and the established powerhouses in politics and the mainstream media really don't know how to adjust to that. We're finally seeing democracy enter the communications world.

There's also another phenomenon that's paralleling this paradigm shift. The wall between the virtual world and the real world no longer exists. Not only can we access the web from practically everywhere (the buzzing BlackBerries at this thing only make that painfully obvious), but we think about the web differently than we did 10 years ago. When AOL made the Internet accessible to the masses, the web was a very segmented thing from our lives. You physically had to sign on and off and plan what you were going to surf. E-mail was a novelty. Using your credit card to purchase something was insane. Now, huge segments of the population are living lives fully integrated with the web. In addition to Blackberries, we have web functions on cell phones. The iPhone and new products like that will only further this integration. Furthermore, it's becoming increasingly difficult to have a web personality and a real-world personality. The web is becoming a giant paper trail of everywhere you've been and everything you've said. New gadgets in the next few years will continue to help integrate the web into our lives.

The RNC data guy is talking. this is rather funny. The RNC may have databases that are incredible, but they sure aren't taking advantage of that information (see my thoughts above about controlling the message). While data can make or break your campaign, you need to build a campaign the responds to what your data actually says and not what you want it to say. Does the GOP actually think that card-carrying members on the ground are happy? Are they that out of touch with the base? Did the 2006 Election not teach them anything? We're 18 months out from a major election. We need to be completely reforming the party, not attempting to justify the traditional methods and catering to the blue bloods.

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March 15, 2007

Google Is Taking Over the World

Live blogging from the 2007 Politics Online Conference at GW. Elliot Schrage, the VP of Global Communications for Google is currently giving the key note.

This is like Mecca to all the political techies out there. Seriously, this is one of the coolest things I've ever been too.

While he's talked, I suddenly realize how many Google applications have become part of my everyday life. From chatting on gchat to blogger and then google scholar. Kinda creepy. Ha! I just realized that I'm sitting in the midst of the Google contingent. There are about 5 VPs sitting around me.

It's pretty funny to see how the political techies are using everything. The guy sitting two rows a head of me is apparently the official blogger for the conference.

Also, a public service note: when you're miked and giving a speech or serving on a panel, turn off your BlackBerry. The vibrating function causes feedback.

Google also has a sponsored lounge here. Note to the engineer who's probably looking at my blog,:don't put bean bags at a internet conference. It's extremely difficult to balance a notebook while sitting in a bean bag and wearing professional clothes.

About me

  • girl from the south
  • Washington D.C./Chattanooga, United States
  • Twentysomething Southerner from Tennessee with Cajun roots. As a graduate student in communications, I'm learning to depend on God while navigating through life in our nation's capital.
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