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Week 4 Reflection

Choosing where to build and host my website were things I wasn’t too worried about because I had already done those things for my business. However, the end of this lesson hinted that we would be using Google Analytics to assess how our website is doing. This is really important for me, seeing as almost 6 months of having my business hosted on its own website has yielded nothing for me. Of course, I haven’t don’t much social media promotion or perhaps worked hard enough to get things going, but that’s what I’m in school for.

Once I can optimize my keywords and get my content on the website, finding traffic and a customer base should happen organically. I’m really excited for this next phase in the business creation process.

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Week 3 Reflection

This week I really considered monetizing my blog. I thought about it a long time ago when I was actually blogging regularly, but this week, learning about affiliate marketing, I realized that it might be actually pretty easy to do, though I would have to focus a lot on driving traffic to my blog seeing as it isn’t viewed much.

As for the company we are making pretend decisions for, I didn’t like either of our options between affiliate marketing and drop shipping. I don’t like the idea of drop shipping in general because I don’t like the idea of paying someone to do something I could easily do myself. It just seems a little strange to me.

Affiliate marketing doesn’t make sense for the company because they aren’t content creators, but as someone who both deals with inventory for my own business and who enjoys creating content, the information I got about these types of monitization were really useful for me. Maybe things I’ll file away for later use, but in the meantime, they were interesting to write pros and cons for because I kept changing my mind about which one I preferred.

Week 2 Reflection

This week was awesome for learning about starting a business and while I knew a little bit about making my business unique so that it would attract customers who were looking particularly for what I was selling, our activity on demand and competition made me realize several things.

  1. I picked the wrong business. It wasn’t really my fault because the business evolved based on what I liked to do and what I was good at. It’s not my fault that a zillion other people also like to knit and are also good at it.
  2. If I had known more in the beginning about demand and competition, I would have spent more time developing the products that would bring me business rather than messing around with the same things that a thousand other online stores are selling.

I really love the tools on Adsense that we have learned about because I can use it to improve not only my SEO, but also the products themselves so that more people will see them based on what they’re more likely to search rather than what I think I would search for. In the activity, many of my keywords that I picked were totally useless because no one else thought of wording them the way I did. I need to learn how other people would word things rather than rely on my own knowledge.

In some ways photography is one of the hardest forms of art in which to display principles of design. While many artists are able to maniuplate their meterials in multiple ways, photographers don’t always have the same control over their subjects or canvases.

bokeh outdoor tap by Dave Meier Depth of Field

This first photograph is called Bokeh Outdoor Tap and it, along with all the photographs in this post, was taken by Dave Meier. This photograph is a perfect example of depth of field, as the subject of this picture is in focus, while the background is not. The sharpness of the subject, the water, gives it a sense of purity and life against the mundane life that goes on around it. Everyone loves nice, clear water.

bokeh outdoor tap by Dave Meier Depth of Field edit

In order to apply this principal in my own photography, I like to turn to macro-photography.

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I took this shot using the first little toy I saw after I grabbed my camera. I used the florescent lighting setting on my camera so that my horribly dirty carpet wouldn’t look so yellow. I also had to mess around with the ISO settings to find one that didn’t wash out my “subject”. I like how there’s a kind of swath of carpet that’s in focus.

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The next principle of design we’re going to look at today is the rule of thirds. This is probably one of the best known principles of design that is used in photography.

clear-night-sky by Dave Meier Rule of Thirds

This photo is called Clear Night Sky of course by Dave Meier. This photo drew me in because I was once obsessed with photographing the sky and horizons.

clear-night-sky by Dave Meier Rule of Thirds edit

The wonderful thing about this photo is that there are two different elements on two different thirds of the photo. The bottom third contains a silhouette, tree-line that frames the sky on one side. The right third of the photo contains the trail of an airplane. The diagonal line also adds some movement to the photo.

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This variation on the rule of thirds principle is my cat Luna. Here she is, sitting atop her cat tree, looking down on the world.

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Putting Luna at the top right of the frame not only lets her look out over the rest of the photo, it makes her seem like she towers over everything.

Cyclist Mountains by Dave Meier Leading Lines

 

This last photograph by Dave Meier is called Cyclist Mountains. I chose this photo to display the concept of leading lines. This is the most difficult principle to capture out of the three. Most of the time, it requires a discerning eye, but sometimes it requires luck, expert staging, and excellent timing. While I don’t think that the cyclist in this photo was actually in motion at the time, getting the angle for this photo just right couldn’t have been easy or for that matter, comfortable.

Cyclist Mountains by Dave Meier Leading Lines edit

The soft decline of the mountain lines intersects with the subject and draws the eye to him while framing the beautiful sky in the background.

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My own pathetic attempt is in no way masterfully accomplished, but the principle is shown. Because it was dark outside, I couldn’t really venture forth to find some naturally occurring lines, so I had to improvise. I used the pencils as my lines and placed them asymmetrically in order t make them seem at least slightly less staged.

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As you can see, the subject (in this case, Frodo Baggins) sits at the top of this almost pyramid of pencils, elevating his importance.

In the end, having a beautiful subject can create a beautiful photo, but for the less than perfect subject, using these principles of design can take your photographs from ordinary to memorable. It’s important to take time to think about what you’re trying to say about the subject of your photo before you take it because you might be able to say it better with one of these design principles.

The Filet-O-Fish

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On the one hand, the ability of a food to be turned into a sandwich could be seen as an advantage, but in the words of my father, “A sandwich is what you eat when you can’t find anything else for lunch.” Whether or not you like sandwiches, you have to admit that this ad from McDonald’s is breathtaking (http://www.sortrature.com/30-most-interesting-ads/).

contrast

One of the most striking things about this ad is the contrast between the blues and the oranges. The choice of fish in the bowl is one made to provide contrast. The fish that actually resides in the Filet-o-fish is the magnificent Alaska pollock. This fish is pretty much all grey. You put that in a sandwich shaped fishbowl and it’s going to be pretty hard to see what’s going on. Not to mention the most common fish you would see as a pet is a gold-fish.

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The next most interesting next to the fish is the glass sandwich. Though a normal sandwich would have many different textures and colors, creating this sandwich out of glass makes the sandwich a single object rather than an amalgamation of ingredients. The only critique I have is that I would have made the words look like they were glass as well, but without seeing it, I can’t be sure it would work.

alignment

The centering of these to elements places them at the focal point of the ad. They’re big and central, which means that the viewers eyes are kept in the center of the piece; they don’t have to search around for the main elements. The odd man out, however, is the McDonald’s logo, which is aligned to the right edge of the picture. This contrast of alignment allows the viewer to know that McDonald’s is related to the photo, but that it’s not the main focus.

proximity

The two main elements are quite close together, signifying their relationship to each other, but they’re far enough apart that they’re easily identifiable and don’t look crowded. Putting the logo out of alignment with the other elements distinguishes it as separate, creating further contrast.

color

While most of the piece is using the same tone, the subtle differences help create a template for the viewer as to where they should look. The background of the piece is a gradient going from dark to light and then back to dark. This nudges the viewer to look to the center of the ad where the main elements are. The colors of the fish and the logo create contrast in the piece.

All of these elements work together to give the ad dimension. The depth of the piece pulls the viewer in and makes them feel a part of the world the ad exists in. The contrast then allows the viewer to feel like what is being advertised is not ordinary. This sandwich isn’t complicated or too diversely portrayed to make the viewer feel overwhelmed, instead intrigued. The piece is elegant and leaves me hungry for more.

Depression

Okay, people, let’s talk about Twilight. I know, I know, the only people that like twilight are messed up teenage girls, but hang with me for a moment.

There are a lot of people who spend a lot of time ridiculing the part in New Moon where Bella sits around and does nothing because Edward left. Yeah, people LOGICALLY shouldn’t be that hung up over a dude leaving you, but when do teenage girls act logically?

The thing about depression is that it doesn’t make sense, not chronic depression. I’ve been there. I had absolutely everything I needed to be happy, but I wasn’t. So what if the cause happened to be a medication on, people’s bodies sometimes get messed up.

I sat around for months knitting and watching television. I would wake up every morning and lay in bed for a few hours because I had absolutely no motivation to get up. I’d go to my classes sometimes and then I’d go back home and do absolutely nothing productive for the rest of the day. So maybe I wasn’t staring out the window for nine months, but I was staring at a screen for a few. I don’t even remember what happened during, like five seasons of Supernatural.

These days people are all into mental illness awareness, which is great, but the majority of people are still totally judging others because of the more extreme effects of mental illnesses. People can understand if I walk around without putting much effort into things, but they can’t understand that I could lay in my bed for six or seven hours without sleeping or doing anything.

People could understand if I’m nervous about going to a loud, crowded party, or talking in front of a large group of people, but I highly doubt they’d be very understanding if they were there when I woke up screaming in the middle of the night because my mind set me on panic mode for no reason at all.

You can’t pick and choose which mental illnesses or behaviors of those who are ill you are going to accept. You can’t reject people for doing extreme, unusual things and then say that you accept them with or without their illness. It doesn’t work like that.

As far as Bella is concerned; yeah, she falls in love with Edward because he was forbidden and dangerous. She then falls in love with Jacob because he pulled her out of the dark place that she was in; a place that EDWARD put her in. There’s obviously going to be conflict there.

You can hate Twilight, just be careful you aren’t hating on something that is pitiable in real life.

Anyway, rant…

The Friendzone

The “friendzone” has always been a guy thing, from my perspective. The only people I’ve ever heard complain about were guys. I’ve never experienced this before myself, but I don’t want to discuss how unfair it is to be placed in the friendzone. Instead, I want to talk about the opposite end, the person doing the friendzoning.

I’ve had a lot more experience in this than I like to admit, but I believe a lot more blame is placed on the friendzoner than should be.

Imagine this situation: A perfectly nice girl is minding her own business one day when her friend invites her to meet some of her friends behind the school. These friends turn out the be very suspicious and much older than the two girls. One of the boys takes an interest in the girl and eventually asks her to be his girlfriend. Very uncomfortable with this idea, the girl suggest that they just be friends.

Does this girl deserve to be labeled as the bad guy in situation? The alternative could have been honesty where the girl tell this boy that he makes her uncomfortable and wishes never to speak to him again. Which reaction would hurt his feelings more?

Here’s another example: A girl is at a dance with her best friend and her bff’s boyfriend. A half an hour into that dance, the boyfriend breaks up with her best friend. Near the end of the dance, the now ex boyfriend asks the girl to be his girlfriend. The girl values her friendship with both her best friend, not wanting to hurt her feelings, she suggests that they just remain friends.

Does THIS girl deserve hate? It’s an awkward situation for this girl to be in and maybe the friendzone is the best way she knows how to handle it. Any other alternative would turn out worse.

Another girl may be asked by someone to be in a relationship and is just not emotionally ready for one. It would be smart of her to just be friends with that someone instead of trying to be in a relationship before she’d ready.

Then, there’s the classic. A guy tells a girl that he likes her, but she just doesn’t like him back. Does she stop being friends with him? That seems harsh. Does she enter into a relationship with this guy that is pretty much a lie on her part? Of course not. Lying to someone like that is horrible in any situation. The friendzone is the only way she can keep the situation from getting out of control.

Besides the friendzone, what do all these girls have in common? Well, for one, all these girls are me.

Now, maybe I am just a terrible person, but I will say that I’ve remained good friends with every single one of these guys (except for the first one).

Guys, girls, the next time you’re friendzoned, instead of feeling hurt, why not try to understand that it could be a lot worse… You could have no friends at all.

Family

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, on Facebook this month there have been a storm of posts about gratitude. Every day you’re supposed to post what you’re grateful for. I’ve never been really interested in doing this myself, but it is a good exercise, I guess.

Anyway, Thanksgiving time has always been about family for me. It’s one of the only times of the year that I get to go hang out with my extended family for a few days. There’s yummy food which is always the best and then we spend the rest of the time playing games. The Shepherd family LOVES games. We play board games and card games and video games and pretending games (when we were younger). We watch movies and run around and laugh and talk. I’ve never been all that comfortable being around a lot of people or just outside really, but when I’m with them, I let loose like you wouldn’t believe.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m loud and I talk a lot. I talk about whatever everyone else is talking about and I do it without speaking all that clearly or fluently. I stutter and I get stuck on words and I lose track of where I am and apparently I use the word ‘and’ a lot. My point is that anyone who knows me like that would be surprised at how much worse I am with my family and how the rest of the Shepherd clan are exactly the same. It’s loud and it’s awesome. My wish would be to live in a world where no one had to work and food just appeared out of nowhere. That way, I could spend all my time with my family. I’m pretty positive that we would be out living in the forest where there’s no one else and where we can just be ourselves and bask in the awesomeness that is my family.

I’m not usually a mushy person, but I’m very grateful for my family. If I didn’t have a chance to let loose with them, I would be wound up so tightly that even the best knot-picking people wouldn’t be able to untie me. They’re my favorite people in the whole world.

Children

First of all, I’m not pregnant. I’m not engaged or married. I don’t currently have children. I had to clear that up because when I posted the ideas I’m going to outline in this post on Facebook, everyone flipped out.

Being an adult now, I’ve been thinking a lot about the family I may have some day. It causes a lot of anxiety, but there are some things that I want to do for my future children that I’m pretty excited about.

First, I want to write a collection of variations on popular fairy tales that I can read to my children at bedtime. I want my children to love reading as much as I do, so I plan on doing a lot of reading with them when they’re young. If they continue reading as they grow up, then that’s pretty darn cool, but I’ll let them choose that and just give them a proper start. The other thing I want is for them to grow up with screwed up versions of fairy tales. Number one because I can’t wait for the moment they realize that they’ve been learning different stories than other children their whole lives. It will shock them out of a conformed view of the world and hopefully it will make them think a little about things. Number two because I want to give them intelligently written (hopefully I can manage that) stories with actual substance instead of sorry little tales that have no basis and a horrible amount of plot holes. Number three, I want to give them something from me. There’s something special about me spending all that time making these stories for them and then letting them grow up with that. It’s the same as me sleeping underneath a quilt that my grandmother made for me my entire life. Right now, I’m still sleeping with my baby blanket that a neighbor made for me.

The second idea that I had was to collect books for them to read. This doesn’t mean that I run around buying picture books. I actually pick books that are meant for kids from the eight to twelve age group. This should keep my kids occupied until they’re old enough to go out and search for books themselves. Not to mention I have an impressive collection of both young adult fiction and literary classics. Based on what kind of books I liked when I was a kid and the kind of books I like now, I’m pretty sure I’ve got all my ducks in a row.

The third idea is a little vague, but I want my kids to be able to talk to me. I didn’t figure out the whole talking to my parents thing until I was pretty old and I don’t even talk to them about a lot of stuff now, but I want my kids to be able to tell me stuff. Then I can also live vicariously through them, so it’s a win-win.