Tube Socks

Was emailing with my dad about Christmas presents yesterday.  Remember when the worst possible thing you could pull from the tree and unwrap was clothes?  Particularly socks and underwear?  Well…

About two weeks ago I needed to pick up some supplies for a project Harrison had at school.  Tube socks were on the list.  At the store I was shocked to find a package of 10 tube socks cost $20.  Shocked!  (I’m always shocked that things like socks and underwear cost more than $5 for “unlimited.”)  Found another brand, 10 for $10.  Sighed and bought it.  Sent 4 pair to school with the boy, kept 6 for myself.

And I must say, this purchase of tube socks has been the most gratifying purchase I’ve made in…oh hell, years.  They feel so nice and comfy and warm, putting them on in the morning.  Holding my toesies all day.

In our big ole worlds of stuff and things, how many times is it these little, grudging purchases that count for so much more enjoyment in our daily grind?

Scott Bell – – MediaDesignSeattle.com – – BLOG

What has this Writing Challenge done for you (so far)?

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How does writing every day (or intending to), affect your sense of your creative self, your communication skills, your sense of motivation?
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Google Yourself?

Figured it’s appropriate, being Tuesday, to report on how this whole November Blogarama has effected my “search.”  Though I may not be a common person, I do have a pretty common name.

Googling “Scott Bell Seattle,” I have 4 of the results on the first page, all in a row, starting 3 down from the top.

Googling “Seattle Video Production,” where I have never made a dent in search, I currently have the last result on the first page.

And lastly, googling “Scott Bell Video” I currently have two results on the first page, starting 3 down from the top.

BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEEEEEEEEN!?!?!

Like everyone says, regularly updated content makes you findable.  (And Deborah or anyone else will tell you that I’m not even really trying with my SEO settings.)

And as a footnote, my own BLOG has added about 160 views since the start of November.  Only 150 of those are mine, the other 10 are completely organic.  My BLOG is what I toss out to twitter, linkedin, facebook, via ping.fm.

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG 

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I’m not sure what to blog today/tonight, so this is a smorgasborg.

Finally saw the Muppet movie with Harrison this afternoon.  …Ok, “saw” is not quite accurate.  How about “managed to view the Muppet movie through bleary eyes filled with nostalgia that displayed like a six year old girl.”   It was a good movie.  Hilarious, really.

We picked up our Christmas tree lights and outside lights afterward.  Oh – oh!  I have a picture for that:

Oops.  Wrong picture :)

Alt text for the image, e.g. “The Mona Lisa”He was awake.  And faking.  Until I screamed “SUBURBANNNN!!!!!!”  Now he has a waffle patterned bruise on the top of his head.  It’ll look good in the Christmas pictures.

So we have our lights, our weeks worth of veggies and fruit, and a Muppet movie in our memory banks.  He’s having a hard time understanding what’s going on with mommy and daddy doing separate holiday things with him this year.  So at some point before the 20th we’ll have to find something to do together.  I tried some explaining, including that mommy and daddy are still friends, but in a six year old world where growing up to be Batman is still a possibility, explaining will only make the tiniest of dents.  (Harvey Dent)

I’m at 200 words, and some thoughts are finally brewing back up.  Time to draft another post.

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG 

Light Em if You’ve Got Em

It’s time for me to start decorating for Christmas.  I love Christmas.  Always have.  It would take….oh, how about a Christmas Miracle…to sour me on Christmas.

As a teenager I found a few strings of the giant old fashioned christmas lights and somehow convinced my parents to let me decorate our porch.  I did it every year, sometimes with more lights.

I investigated those plastic shingle anchors when they came out.  I invested in some chaser lights when they were brand new.  And of course I ran every possible combination of extension cords that I could.  And then, when I’m done and it’s completely dark, wander across the street to glance at it and behold my glory.

Some years it looked flat out terrible.  But I had fun.  And I enjoyed taking the dog for walks at night and turning the corner to see our house with the front porch lit up, sometimes with snow to sparkle upon, sometime just light rays caught on my foggy breath.

Later I graduated to being allowed to string lights on the tree.  Since I’m actually headed back to my folks house for Christmas this year, I just might be recruited for that again.

I have not yet personally done the outside lights here in the burbs of Seattle, but this year I will.  Still kind of deciding if the boy and I will go cut down a tree – – we should – – or just go grab a small one at a lot.  We’ll catch a plane on the 20th and return on the 2nd, so I don’t want to go too far overboard on something that we won’t be around to enjoy.  …and I did leave that spot for the tree when I rearranged the living room.

But first and foremost, putting those lights up outside (and not channeling Chevy Chase)!

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
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Shoppers, Start Your Engines

Is it odd that our biggest day of rampant consumerism comes the day after giving thanks?  Probably not.  Though it may sometimes seem so.

Shop locally if you’re able to.  What’s on my list?  I am really really starting to feel the pull to a flat screen TV.  Ensuring that I can plug either of my laptops into it for editing, netflix, hulu.  If I were smart I would be at Best Buy in the wee wee hours of Black Friday to accomplish this.  While the pull is strong, it’s not that strong yet.  I need to exercise patience with this purchase, actually do my research, find out what I really like, and then find the item I really want.

The only time I ever rose early on Black Friday was back in Nebraska, remodeling my house.  I went to Builder’s Warehouse at 4am for a $20 cordless drill.  It was sort of exciting.  The drill turned out to be too low powered (my need for research) to do much good, and then Harrison hid the battery charger somewhere.  I haven’t used the drill in years.

If you’re out in the dark, good luck to you.

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG 

Giving Thanks

Today has been a beautiful wonderful day.  And it’s that time, sooooo, here are several of the things I am thankful for, in no particular order:

warm dry shelter
food in my belly
family / community
a pleasant relationship with my X
my son
my dogs
love
The Four Agreements
opportunity
my clients
the skills I am blessed with and the ability to learn
the lessons of the last year
all this rain
all that sun
the upcoming ski season
being able to sincerely smile at myself in the mirror
sharing sincere and authentic experiences with my people
rediscovering the value of giving
the new friends I’ve made
the longtime friends who have managed to keep in touch with me
And of course, the Tuesday Circle and dear Deborah.

Happy Day of the Turkey!

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG

The Rise of Narcissism and Fall of Resilience

….and other humorous short stories.

First off, here’s a Narcissistic Personality Quiz.  Take it.  It’s fun.  Take it now. 😐

My own score is 11.  High scores were “3” for “Exhibitionism” and “Vanity,” low scores were 0 for “Superiority” and “Entitlement.”  Yesterday, that’s how I scored :)

Mentioned in another post that David Brooks was on Charlie Rose the other night.  Topics and conversation covered many subjects, but this was the final topic: the rise of narcissism and fall of resilience.

Paraphrasing from memory, the US population’s general narcissistic tendency has risen 30% since the 1950’s.  This is the sense of entitlement, general lack of humble behavior.  Part of it, as an IT friend of mine calls it, is “The god damned silver spoon.”  Another part is the need to be famous.

One of the ways that the rise in narcissism is reasoned is this:  corporations in the ’50’s made a lot of money, but CEO’s didn’t demand million dollar paychecks until the 70’s 80’s 90’s.

1 Side effect of narcissism: spending beyond ones means.  This is clearly measured and documented as debt spending in the US.  We know it’s created a few national catastrophes.  The advertising appeal of “Do it for you.  You deserve it.”

2 Side effect of narcissism: as mentioned above, ordinary people desiring fame.  One guy that I’ve worked with on occassion flat out declares that he wants to be famous.  That’s the root of why he does what he does.  He wants to be famous.  Snookie also wanted to be famous.  Paris Hilton and Kim K have made a living off of being famous.  We have a reality show called “Storage Wars” for gods sake.  (sparks are gonna fly….as I get in line to not watch this.)

So on the one side there’s Narcissism. Which I find very difficult to spell correctly.

On the other is the fall of resilience.  Which is also difficult for me to spell.  An individuals tendency to cope with stress and adversity.  The ability to bounce back.  To quote from some random googling that lead to The Road to Resilience,

  • The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • Skills in communication and problem solving
  • The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses

If you’re gaining on the narcissism angle, and you’re not a sociopath, chances are that you’re going to be lacking in those four points.  (on point #2: “When I’m famous I’ll feel good about myself.”)

I found the overall 10 minute discussion on Charlie Rose interesting.  You don’t have to.  But I’ll try to tie this together with What does this have to do with blogging?

Conversation sometimes comes up in the Tuesday reticent’s circle about, “Why should I blog?  Why would anyone want to read about me?  I find it very hard to brag myself up or even sell myself.”

This is a direct reflection of being raised during more humble times.  Times when tweeting, facebooking, and blogging didn’t exist.  Where in the past we had to suck things up and move on, now we can tell the world about anything and everything.  (Granted I’m only 35 years old, but I grew up in Western Nebraska.  Computers and video games were things that one of the neighbors had.)

It’s hard for some people to blog because it feels narcissistic.  It doesn’t have to be narcissistic, but it feels that way.

I think blogging does hold the opportunity for narcissism, but authentic self expression, and authentic artistic expression, can easily remain a safe ground of humble behavior.  As Deborah says,

Gratitude gratitude gratitude.

There’s my paper, professor.  I know I should have researched it better.  Have a great Turkey Day.

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG

That durn thievin’ Facebook

Occassionally I’ll read an article that simply makes me mad.  This was one of them:  Is Facebook Stealing From the Pockets of Small Business Web Designers?

When I read an article that I dislike this much, I can’t comment on it, because I can’t think of anything good to say about it.

That’s like me accusing Apple, Droid, Canon, Sony…any smartphone or camcorder maker of stealing business from me by making affordable and accessible HD camcorders.  I have Photoshop and an inkjet printer, yet I’ve never put a Professional Printer out of business.

The article’s comments make a sound argument, listing reasons why businesses should not use Facebook as their website.  The only one I really cared about was “You don’t own your content, Facebook does, and they can sell it or do whatever they want with it.  They can change things on the site without your permission.” (paraphrase.)

While that makes sense, I don’t really care.  When you’re buying free, you get what you pay for, and many many people are fine with using Facebook as their business website in spite of not having overarching control or owning the content.  Even in our own Tuesday bloggers group, discussion has come up about commenting on each others blogs during the November Blogarama, and the fact that we aren’t notified when someone else comments on a thread that we have commented on (Scott commented).  Maybe it’s buried somewhere in the hopeless mire of WordPress settings…who cares.  With Facebook, it’s already there.

Facebook is easy.  Building a website is not easy.

I will couch my rant by saying that I’m quite lucky to have Zaifworks as a web/IT partner.  I know it’s hard to build a website, because I did build and rebuild my website 3 times before my partner stepped in to put something nicer together.  All of that said, I never did go solely the free route, because “free” never gave me what I wanted.

Good friend Don Burrows likes to remind folks that a business is worth nothing if it’s only You working your ass off.  Or some such words.  A rough example is: if the only way that you make money is by personally doing the work and personally handling every aspect of the relationship, if you can’t go on a 2 week vacation and continue to make money, the value that you would get for selling your business is nothing, because YOU are the entire business.  YOU are the entire product.

I imagine that’s the case with these small business web designers whose pockets are being picked by Facebook.

Instead of complaining about it, look at the opportunity.  No, not the opportunity to educate people on how awesome you are and how evil Facebook is.  You’re a web designer.  It’s time for you to create an easy-to-use utility that will let you copy your Facebook content and automatically publish it to your own domain.

Of course this will involve code, so if you are just a web designer, you may not be able to pull this off.  But I bet you know someone who can.

And once you and your partners pull it off, you’ll have a product.  A product that is a lot more than YOU.

Will you get your pants sued off by an evil corporation?  Maybe.  Or maybe your utility has an interface where you type in your updates / photos / videos / notes and they automatically load to Facebook and your own domain.  Like ping.fm, but more robust.  Then you’re not taking your content from Facebook…it becomes the one way your content gets to Facebook.

There are probably a lot more kinks than just that in my little idea.  But you might get the point.  Facebook is easy and free, so small business owners use it.  Building a good website is not (or rarely) easy or free.  Where is the market going to go if you’re a small business web designer?  Away from you, unless you create a positive alternative to “designing” with benefits and ease of use that exceed Facebook’s.

Going back to the Biznik article, Nando Caban-Mendez posted a thoughtful comment:  Facebook, Google+, et al are not stealing our money. We’re letting them have it if we don’t educate clients.

…I agree with part of it.  The key to this type of survival for web designers isn’t going to be so much in education as it will be in innovation.

Please feel free to disagree with me.  But pleasepleaseplease don’t even think of using WordPress to support a disagreeing argument.

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG 

Disapproval

Is anyone surprised that the congressional “Supercommittee” failed to come up with a solution to the nation’s debt problems?  Really?  Surprised?  It would have been a great and pleasant surprise to see them not fail.

Two weeks ago I saw a bit of Nancy Pelosi talking to John Stewart about the Supercommittee.  There was no doubt in her talk that the Supercommittee would succeed.  John Stewart reminded her that this had been tried with no success several times over the last decade.  How about I just link to the damn thing?  …jump to 5:32 to skip over a bunch of gladhanding and worthlessness.  Wow, and now my “enter” key to toss in a line break isn’t working.  wordpress.

There we go.  I’m wrapping this up in a moment.  There’s an enjoyable NTYimes article on this supercommittee nonsense today.  Here.

And one more link.  David Brooks was on Charlie Rose last night and commented on something about which I’m working on a different post.  Here’s his op-ed on the current political parties.

Anyway.  Faith in the system?  Zero.  Proof the system works?  1%.  When I saw that Patty Murray was on the Supercommittee, I was reassured that it wouldn’t work :)  Call it my impression of PacNW resolve.

On a completely different subject, I was quite happy learn that WA State liquor laws have apparently changed.

Love,

Scott Bell
MediaDesignSeattle.com
BLOG