So, I started thinking about vacations, and realized that it has been over 10 years since my daughter and I have been out of this state. Don't get me wrong, Minnesota is a lovely place to live, but I really love traveling, and have not had any chance, with all the changes I have gone through the last decade.

So now that things have finally settled down, and there is steady income again, I decided a vacation was in order. I have been to most corners of the US- from the East Coast, to the South, to the West (not the Southwest- doesn't hold much appeal for me), but I have never been to the Pacific Northwest. Lately I have been feeling a need for a big change, and I have been dreaming of moving to another part of the country. My whole life I have lived in the Midwest (Wisconsin and Minnesota) and there is so much more to see and experience out there. So one night, I hopped on Expedia and impulsively booked a vacation to Seattle. Had no ideas about areas of the city, but that is why the internets is so great. I spent the next couple of weeks researching so that by the time we left, we had a whole list of things we wanted to see and do. Trouble was, we only had 4 days there. Not nearly enough time.

Here is the hotel where we stayed. The Red Lion Hotel on 5th Avenue. It was wonderful- right in the heart of downtown. We opted not to rent a car (parking is ridiculously expensive there- $30 a night at the hotel) and just hoofed it all around the city. The public transportation there is fabulous. Free in the downtown area.

Minneapolis is somewhat smaller than Seattle in population, but there is a hugh difference in the pace and bustle of the city. The streets and sidewalks were crowded from sunup to long after dark. We were amazed by how much foot traffic there was on the sidewalks. Everyone drives here, and after 5, when the office workers go home, downtown pretty much turns into a ghost town. Not so in Seattle. And the weather made it very amenable to walking both during the day and at night.

All in all, a great place to visit (and I bet, a good place to live). More posts and pics on the Seattle trip to come.

Long, long, time ago

It has been a very long time indeed since I have updated this blog. Since my last post, I have been trying to get back into some normalcy without classes two nights a week and weekends spent writing papers. It has been 6 long years since I have not had a class!

I thought that when I finished my bachelor's and my master's I would have all kinds of time to get things done. What has happened in 8 months- where has the time gone, and what exactly have I accomplished? Well, let's see...

I started working on my house, room by room. We moved in almost 10 years ago now, and have done relatively little with the place. A fresh coat of paint in some of the rooms, new fixtures in the bathroom. And then the great remodel just stalled out. I found I didn't have the extra income to put into the house- there was school to pay for (mine and my daughter's) and lots of major home repair- repair, mind you, not renovation. That is what happens when you buy a house that is 60 years old!

I had lots of great plans for this place- a new bathroom in the basement, new carpet, refinished hardwood floors. Instead, I ended up with a new furnace, water heater, central air, and main sewer line. For what it cost to get all those repairs done, I easily could have had my downstairs bathroom.

But, now school is done, and I have been spending some time (and considerable bucks) on finally starting the things I wanted to do for the last 10 years. I bought all new appliances- lovely stainless steel- for the kitchen, and a new washer and dryer. A couple of weeks ago we got a new area rug for the dining room. We pulled up all the old perennials in the flower gardens and planted fresh ones.

There is still plenty to do. A driveway sealcoat is next on the agenda. Maybe soon our tired old homestead will look young and fresh again.



Just a quick self-congratulatory posting. I finally finished my Master's degree in Technical Comunication last week. What a great feeling. Although it really didn't take me that long (5 semesters), I was quite ready for it to be done. Like the glutton for punishment that I am, I'm already looking into the next phase of my education! I am pretty interested in taking the Web 2.0 Technologies certificate course offered at St. Paul College. I have approached my employer about tuition reimbursement, and have gotten a tentative favorable response. I think it may be a go! After that, I am considering getting some kind of technical degree- maybe in graphic or web design, to help balance out some of my theoretical knowledge.


Making Your Blog Work For You

I just read a good article on the Microsoft Small Business Center website about using your blog to generate some income. There are 5 basic ways to do it, and the author spells them out here. Here is a quick rundown:

  • Sell advertising space on your blog
  • Help sell others' products
  • Solicit contributions from readers
  • Market your own services in your blog
  • Build an existing customer base

I think I would be comfortable doing of these except for the solicitation. I have seen many blogs in which the authors do that, and to me it is merely begging for money. I can go many places for information- blogs are just one medium out of many. If the person blogging chooses to share information/opinions with the blogosphere, that is their choice. I don't feel particularly obligated to pay for that.


A friend of mine recently sent me an e-vite to joing WAYN (Where Are You Now), a Web 2.0 site which tracks the countries you have been to on trips. Like many other social sites, WAYN allows users to upload profiles and photos. Users can then search for friends who may be on the site, as well as send and receive messages using email, discussion forums, eCards, and WAYN IMing.
One feature I enjoy is the virtual map which allows me to see where each of my contacts is located around the world. It is a great way to keep track of friends while they are traveling. There is also a blog feature that I have yet to explore- I think I need to limit the number of sites where I am blogging, or I would feel compelled to update on several sites!

A little cautionary note, however. The site has taken some criticism for the option of adding friends via your email address book. WAYN then sends out automatic inviations which many view as spam. I have not been able to figure out how to turn this feature off, and all my contacts did in fact receive an e-vite. I am not sure how many of my friends were annoyed by this or not.


Writing Digitally vs Digital Writing

I have been reading a fair amount lately about "digital writing," and what it is supposed to be. From what I understand, it is supposed to be writing for a digital medium- not just using technology to create writing. Digital writing must take into account all the facets of technology- audience, medium on which it will be viewed/read, download speed, etc.

Here is an article which professes to be about digital writing. The author proposes that "good writing is a lost art, but doesn't have to be if you use the tools that come with your processing software." I take a lot of exception with this article. The author is implying that simply using the tools that come with Word (or whatever you use)- spell checker, grammar checker, the thesaurus- will make a person a better writer. Although it is, of course, important to pay attention to mechanics when you are writing, it is impossible for these tool to make you a better writer. To me, that phrase is all about the content, the meaning, the skilled turn of a phrase. No matter how important the author thinks these tools are, they will never be able to help an author hone natural or learned writing talent.


Web 2.0 Certificate

In my mailbox today I found a course catalog from St. Paul College. Typically I don't spend much time looking at catalogs from tech schools, but this one caught my eye. They are offering a new certificate (16 credits) called "Web 2.0 Development Technologies." Even though I have just spent the last 5 years in school, I just may have to extend that time a bit and go for this certificate. It only consists of 4 courses- Web 2.0 Architecture, Web 2.0 Multimedia Tools, Open Source Software Foundations, and Web 2.0 Programming and Software Tools.

If anyone is interested, click on the graphic below to go to St. Paul College's page describing the certificate and any prerequisites. Based on the cover picture, this could be a pretty fun program. Apparently students get to spend a fair amount of time in Second Life.