Tag Archives: Network

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

Twitter has been my strongest ally in getting my blog out there. For those who have yet to join the tweeting phenomenon, or who have not yet gone to my Twitter page, check it out.

Twitter Screenshot

My typical number of hits per day prior to my active use of Twitter was in the 70-75 range. Now, I manage at least 100 hits a day, averaging about 130-150 hits a day on week days.  Below is a screen shot of my blog’s stat recorder. Look at that line climbing that mountain. I’m a proud mama.

Blog Stat Screesnshot

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Breaking Blog Records… Again!

It’s only 2 p.m., but I’ve already had a record-high 148 hits today! I’m stunned, but elated.

I noticed that my blog is being posted on other Web sites as a reference, so that probably makes up for a good hunk of the new hits. For instance, Austin Explorer has listed my article on Hamilton Pool Natural Preserve as a link under their “News Headlines” section. Pretty nifty stuff.

Thanks again for following and making me feel like I’m writing things worth reading. Ciao ciao!

 

Update
The total for the 24-hour period was 193 hits! Very nice…

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“Twitter in Congress, With the Accent on Twit”

This is a really interesting article by Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English at Emory University. For those who don’t know what Twitter is, you might be a little lost.

Essentially, Twitter is a real time internet tool that allows users to let their “followers” (or people who subscribe to their Twitter profile) what they’re doing. This is also called “updating a status” or “tweeting.” Many use it just to keep connected with friends; however, writers, politicians, and the like are using it to let followers know up-to-date news, when blogs have been updated, etc. So yes, this is the context for the following article.

President Obama’s address this week turned out one of the biggest viewing audiences ever for a chief executive’s visit to the chamber. But while people at home were admiring Obama’s delivery and accepting or rejecting his statements, some in the seats in front of him were doing something else.

Here’s the story by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. Several members of the House and Senate came to the occasion equipped with real time digital tools, and before and during the speech, they sent out “content,” what they saw and heard and judged. Or, as Milbank puts it, “They whipped out their BlackBerrys and began sending text messages like high school kids bored in math class.”

Some of their broadcasts:

“‘One doesn’t want to sound snarky, but it is nice not to see Cheney up there,’ Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced as Obama entered the chamber.‘I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg,’ Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) broadcast, misspelling the name of the ailing Supreme Court justice. McCaskill could be seen applauding with BlackBerry in one hand.

‘Capt Sully is here — awesome!’ announced Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), spotting the US Airways pilot in the gallery.

Then there was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), in whose name this text message was sent at about the time the president spoke of the need to pull the country together: ‘Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour.’ A few minutes later, another message came through: ‘Disregard that last Tweet from a staffer.’”

Culberson provided a live streaming video, and before the event approached some Capital Police and asked them to name themselves. Others gave minute remarks about where they were sitting and who sat nearby. More dispatches: “We must stand our ground as conservatives”; “Not many applause lines. Some in the audience not sure how to react”; “Americans are not quitters — Amen — what a great story.”

If this is the mindset of our representatives, we need an administered dose of Mark Twain, who said: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

And: “Congressman is the trivialist distinction for a full grown man.”

And: “All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.”

Indeed, a representative with a live-action tool in hand may be the clearest expression of a vital principle of communication: The faster people can record their experience, the stupider it gets. We hear a lot about infantilization, but this is “adolescentilization,” and it reaches all the way to the top. With everyone so equipped, we’ll never see another Webster, Clay, Taft, LBJ, Moynihan . . .

(Source: Chronicle.com)

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Chilean Architect Visits St. Edward’s

This article was originally written for the Hilltop Views.

Alejandro Aravena, the Chilean architect who designed St. Edward’s new residence halls, was in Austin this past Friday to see his completed project before the residential village grand opening.

Earning his degree in architecture from the Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile, and having his postgraduate studies in theory and history, Aravena was chosen by St. Edward’s so that he would bring a global perspective to the campus. “[St. Edward’s] took a year to choose the architect, it took a year to design, and it took a little over a year to build,” Aravena explained. “It says a lot about the campus when it takes over a year to choose an architect.”

The new residential community is Aravena’s first major project outside of Chile, as well as his first dormitory. “It was a challenge,” Aravena explained, “to consider what the institution needed, but still consider what the [residents] wanted.” It was important to him that “it is not social housing with just good will,” and that the halls cater to the needs of the campus.

Aravena said that “open space is a novelty in dormitories. This is not the typical ‘corridor with rows of rooms’ designs.” The layout is very much focused on freedom and visual stimulation, with the intermediate spaces between halls acting as a mutual gathering place for students and the red, grey, and white glass windows being used as “visual noise,” as Aravena called it. “All the rooms have light and openness, without sacrificing privacy. [St. Edward’s] has private spaces. Dorm rooms, offices, and classrooms are given.  The openness [the new residential village] has is distinctive,” Aravena explained.

However, the architect insisted that his designs are not “inspired.” In fact, the idea that architecture is a visionary, idealist process irks Aravena. “Architecture is not about being inspired. It is simply answering a client’s problem with a form.”

“I am not an artist. I am an architect.”

Aravena did admit, however, that elements of nature give him ideas about to solve problems that he often faces in designing. For instance, Aravena wanted the common area in the residential village to be cool in the brutally hot Texas weather. He turned to canyons to see how those physical forms filter wind and bend sunlight so that the
area is a few degrees cooler than its surroundings.

“It is fine if people interpret parts of the building as a canyon or a geode, but I was not inspired by those. It is not wrong to interpret it that way, but I simply used those elements for problem solving.”

In fact, Aravena is gaining notoriety in the world of architecture for his “problem solving” techniques and ideas. Being able to work with low costs and scarce resources has caused prestigious architectural magazines, associations, and the like to take notice of Aravena’s skills and capabilities. However, Aravena says that being able to work with a small budget and limited supplies “ought to be the rule, not the exception.”

When asked whether or not he considered his finished products may be considered art, the logic-ruled, humble Chilean took a long pause. “You know, there are things that can be spoken about, and things that cannot—that are unspoken. Art is unspoken, much like the concept of time. I cannot tell you what time is, but I know what it is. Art is
something you reflect silently about. I think if someone looks at what I built—which was an answer to a problem—and sees something else in it, they can reflect on that internally. That is fine. But I am not an artist. I am an architect.”

The residential village grand opening is set to take place at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 17. The St. Edward’s community is welcome to take a tour of the new residence halls, enjoy free food, enjoy live entertainment, and participate in online university housing sign-up.

The Residential Village

The Residential Village

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Austin’s Muse

The Green Muse, located in the ever-eccentric south of Austin, is a coffee bar hidden away in a discreet niche off of Oltorf. Without the typical lit-up sign out front, a company Web site, or even any kind of bona fide advertising, the Green Muse booms mostly due to client word-of-mouth.

This coffee mecca is exactly what you would conjure in your mind if I told you that it was uber “Austiny.” Eccentric Indie music? Check. Wonderfully strange, local artwork? Check. Fliers promoting local events and bands? Double check. Not to mention, the Muse has a mélange of coffees, teas, and other drinks that are sure to sate your pallet.

Hungry? Try a piquant panini, scrumptious sandwich, or savory soup. You can also get a side of hummus, tabbouleh, baba Ganoush (served with toasted pita and cucumbers).

At the Muse, you’ll find students plugged into chairs, laptops, books, and papers within arm’s reach. It’s a hot spot for the twenty-something crowd for the very reason that it’s just a chill, local shop. I recommend it. The free Wi-Fi isn’t bad either.

The Green Muse
519 W Oltorf St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 912-7789

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“Hometown Glory”

Adele, the Grammy-winning English crooner, has had mad props given to her for her divine talent and sensational debut album, “19.” Her commanding vocals resemble those of Etta James and Amy Winehouse, yet Adele maintains a very distinctive sound.

Songs like “Chasing Pavement” and “Cold Shoulder” rocketed Adele to stardom, even earning her the Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance awards at the Grammys this year. The song that ignites my bones, however, is Adele’s soon-to-be smash hit, “Hometown Glory.” It’s poetic; it’s haunting; it’s ardent.

I beg you to listen to it, and see if you don’t find yourself reminiscing of summers during your childhood or growing up in the cities and suburbs.

Love that Adele.

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Dr. Shirley McKellar Speaks to St. Ed’s Students

This article was originally written for the Hilltop Views.

A group of roughly thirty-five individuals filled a room on the third floor of Fleck Hall this past Thursday, February 5, to listen to Dr. Shirley McKellar, the founder and chief executive officer of her own company, a retired major who served overseas during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom,” and a motivational speaker for breast cancer and women’s issues.

The kind-looking, African-American woman stood from her seat in the
front row of the room and gracefully made her way to the podium. After
carefully adjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose, McKellar began her lecture, “Good evening, St. Edward’s University.”

McKellar (left) and her sister at a political rally

McKellar (left) and her sister at a political rally

“I want to challenge you tonight to do five things. First, listen carefully. Second, understand what is being said. Third, believe in yourself, because how else do you expect anyone else to believe in you? Fourth, retain what I say to you. Fifth and last, please act on whatever your passion is in life.”

McKellar delved right into her motivational talk on education and  leadership. Her personal apothegm, “Reach one, teach one,” was the underlying theme of her presentation, “Unfettered Potential: Military
Success and Women’s Health.” McKellar passionately spoke of the importance of education in today’s world in the shaping of leaders. She stressed that we must share our wisdom with others if we want to instill change nationally and internationally.

“Why should you have knowledge if you won’t share it with others?” McKellar asked the audience.

McKellar spoke of how her experiences in school and in the military —both the good and bad experiences—shaped the natural-born leader in her. She reflected on the monumental day in 1975 that Congress broke down walls for women in the military, and that a mere five years later, 217 women cadets graduated from West Point in Annapolis.

However, McKellar also recalled the discrimination in the military she experienced for being an educated African-American woman. McKellar, who had stood at the podium with the utmost dignity and poise the entire evening, shook her head sadly when she called to mind her stint at Tyler Junior College, where her professor had two exams—one version for white students and another for African-American students. She looked back up at the audience afterwards, and she said she had decided then that she would not allow anyone to make her feel less capable than she knew she was. Decades later, McKellar now sponsors grade-school trips to Tyler Junior College to encourage young girls to pursue math and science. “We can’t let these young girls feel intimidated.”

McKellar brought the evening to a close by emphasizing the importance
of education. “If you have nothing to do or say, read!” McKellar’s diagnosis for what she calls the world’s “education deficient syndrome” is “a dose of math and science, a helping of standard English, a mental health day or two, and lots and lots of sleep.”

As the audience applauded at the end of the lecture, McKellar quickly spoke into the microphone once more, “Students, if a door closes in your face, unlock a window.”

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