Archive for category self-portraiture

will work for food

It seems we can’t go a day without ever more disturbing news about our downward spinning economy. Bank failures, auto industry bailouts, rising unemployment rates. Those newly laid off are just beginning to feel the pinch, dipping into savings accounts while they try to find new jobs. Meanwhile, those who were on the leading cuts have long ago turned to 401k and supplemental retirement accounts.

I first started to feel the pinch over two years ago as the company I was partner in struggled to line up new clients. First it was half-pay every other pay cycle. Then half-pay every pay cycle. At its worst, I drew only 20% of my expected monthly draw. Things improved, then declined again. The partnership ended as September 2008 ended. My stake in the company was so small that I had no say in the matter.

I’ve have yet to land another full-time position. I’ve filed applications, submitted resumes, had over a handful of interviews, and dozens more informal conversations. Some opportunities led to second and third round interviews only to be end with a “we are holding off on hiring” or something similar. In some cases, I’ve discovered weeks later that company is implementing ideas I presented during my interview. I’ve taken on two part-time jobs, a roommate, and contract work. It’s still not enough to sustain me.

The point of this sob story is not sympathy. It’s context. Yeah, things have been hard. Sure, I’ve felt defeated. And yes, I’ve sobbed. But somewhere among all the pieces, I discovered something…

Will Work for Food (photo credit: Technosailor)

Will Work for Food (photo credit: Technosailor)

We work. We earn an income. We buy things we need. We dream about things we want. We get better jobs. We earn more income. We buy the things we want. We call them needs.

That’s generally how things go when one climbs the ladder of success. But when the ladder morphs into a slide and income declines or disappears, we look for ways to decrease our needs. We turn of the lights when we leave the room. We cancel cable. We put student loans in forbearance. We take public transportation. One by one, we eliminate budgetary line items. Until in the end, you realize… We’re all just working for food!




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7 things that are not like the others

I got memed. Just before the new year. That tattle tell known as Google alerted me that someone had been talking about @MsHerr. I employed my keen detective skills to discover that Dani Cutler had tagged me in one of the two circulating memes. I love memes. Isn’t meme just web jargon for chain letter? And I love chain letters. Especially the completely irrational, yet annoyingly persistent, feeling I have of letting down friend/family/acquaintance/imposter while I blatantly ignore the letter.

But I’ve been known to look on the bright side of things. I thought it could be a good way to kick off ‘09. So I started writing…

one: I want to adopt at least one child.

I think that there are people who have an obligation to love each of us, and the first among these are the two people whose actions conceived us: our birth mothers and fathers. Yet real life rarely follows the shoulds. Families form through blood and change through choice.

My birth father was absentee before, during, and after the short nine months he and my mother were married. When I was four, another man came into our lives. When I was seven, this man became my mother’s husband. In sixth grade, I was given three choices: keep my birth name, change my last name, be adopted. I chose adoption. But he became my dad long before that, and I have been blessed to receive a father’s love from a man who had no obligation to show such concern.

Consider that there are many children in this world who, for whatever reason, have birth parents but no mom and no dad. I want to share the blessing that I still enjoy. I want to love and care for, to adopt, a child who is in need of a mom.

two: I used to be a puppeteer.

Growing up in Gallup, the church I went to had a couple of youth groups. One was a puppeteering group for 6th through 12th graders. We’d learn skits that we’d then perform during services or various public events throughout the community. Some were funny. Some were dramatic. Not all were religiously-themed. But all had a lesson of some sort. We had a large collection of high quality puppets and props, a stage large enough for up to seven puppeteers, and a sound system. Not exactly small-time for a church youth group.

Besides being moderately interesting, I share this because, believe it or not, there is some serious technique to operating a puppet. Rather than explain it, check out this video from Puppets and Stuff and Expert Village.

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Then verbosity became my downfall. I had set out to briefly capture the story behind each of these seven things, but the lack of a consistent theme has plagued me. My attempts to be consistent in voice, inspiration, and length have been thwarted. Each time I put finger to keyboard, I’ve spun time’s wheels. So here I take a page from Jeremy Tanner’s book, err… blog. Keep it simple. Keep it brief. Stick to the headlines.

three: Kid-in-a-candy-store is my favorite flavor of happy.

four: Braiding my hair is my one pre-race ritual.

five: I enjoy traveling alone.

six: Of all the virtues, patience is the one I dislike the most.

seven: I’d love to work for Harley-Davidson. Corporate. *

There. It’s done. It’s no longer the start of new year. That shiny newness has worn off. The novelty is gone. That unalterable pattern of 24/7 has reasserted itself. It’s only the start of the remaining 96.9% of ‘09, a rather arbitrary statistic.

And so I close with an offer… Should you find any of the above headlines so intriguing that you want a story, holla at me. I will gladly oblige.

And a promise… I shall not meme anyone unless you, again, holla at me.

* Don’t worry Phoenix, I’m not leaving you yet. There is too much great stuff going on here, now, that I want to be a part of. But someday, perhaps two or three or seven years from now…

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a few considerations before starting that 2nd, or 3rd, Twitter account

“Who should I follow?” It’s a question every new Twitter user asks. But it’s also a question that established users continue to grapple with. As our following counts escalate, so do the challenges of keeping up with it all. The questions may shift to more narrow focuses such as follow etiquette, data quantity and filtration practices, but the root question is the same.

There is a worthwhile conversation emerging on this subject on Tomas Carrillo’s blog. I highly encourage you to read both his original post and the comment string before continuing with the rest of this post.

Tomas is leaning toward creating a second account so that he can manage his professional and personal interests separately. For many, this can appear an attractive solution.

The jump into multiple accounts is a critical step with a variety of implications. The benefits will vary depending on your goals, but there are some ramifications, for both user and reader, that are easy to overlook.

  1. Compartmentalizing business, personal, and niche identities as separate entities forces others who may be interested in the multiple sides of you to follow multiple streams. It’s easy to think others might only be interested in the _blank_ side of you, or that you’re only interested in the _blank_ side of others, but that’s rarely true. Being one-dimensional is usually considered a character weakness.
  2. Maintaining multiple accounts is likely to increase your overall time investment on Twitter. Just as you are forcing a reader interested in the multiple sides of you to read multiple streams, there will be individuals you engage both professionally and personally. On which account do you then follow them? More often than not, you’ll probably choose to follow them on each of your accounts, increasing the redundancy of your feeds.
  3. One account is likely to become favored, while another will become neglected. While your time invested on Twitter increases, time available in a day remains static, making it less feasible to devote equal and adequate attention to each account.
  4. You may undermine your brand. Whether you are a company or an individual, your brand is the unique composition that emerges from a variety of facets, from history to aspirations, from deep-seated values to social connections. As you siphon off certain facets for promotion in other channels, you risk the overall richness of the fuller brand. This risk is greater for freelancers and sole entrepreneurs. Your business is most likely an extension of yourself, and as such, your professional and personal lives are mutually reinforcing.

Using multiple Twitter accounts to separate interests is a growing trend, but in general, it’s something I would advise against. The exception may be for highly niche interests. For example, I maintain @PhxArtYC to provide updates on events at the Phoenix Art Museum. And consider Francine Hardaway who tweets as @Earth911 which is dedicated to environmental and recycling content.

Unless there is a need separate a niche interest from your personal brand, keep a single stream and show of all the different sides of you.

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rant: the resolution waiting game

I like goals. I dislike resolutions. New Year’s resolutions specifically. They go a little something like this…

Spend the last day(s) of December reflecting on the prior year. Identify one or more things that you want to change. Make sure they’re significant enough so you can feel accomplished when you succeed. But not so significant as to set yourself up for failure. Set a start date of January First. Celebrate the last hour(s) of the old year with general debauchery and proclamations of how great the new year will be.

Wake up January First and do one of two things:

  1. Succeed.
  2. Fail.

I’ve no issue with either success or failure. Each have their purpose. I do, however, have issue with waiting to start working toward some goal, whether ginormous or itsy bitsy, on some day that is rather arbitrary in the greater scheme of time. Days, months, years are just markers that while relevant to the documentation of historical occurrences and the planning of future events, are less meaningful than both history and future.

January 1, 2000-whatever ain’t nuthin’ but a number.

Whether you hope to make a lifestyle change or launch into a new project, does it really matter if the start date coincides with something so arbitrary? January First may be generally accepted as the dawn of a new year, but are the mechanics that change the dial from ’08 to ’09 really any more significant than those that change it from 2:59 to 3:00? Set a goal and start it today. Sure, today is January First, but what if today was April 17? Or August 29? Or December  23?

Celebrate beginnings.

But don’t wait for them.

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a good samaritan stiffer

This morning I went to Daily Rush (soon to be D’Lish) for a morning coffee date. After dropping a friend at the airport, I was an hour early. A perfect opportunity to have some breakfast so that I wouldn’t be talking with my mouth full of food.

It’s crude and it’s lewd to talk with your mouth full of food. Why, even the milk cow who moo’d as she chewed never talked with her mouth full of food and the cuckoo would never have ever cuckoo’d if he coo’d with his mouth full of food.*

So I ordered a breakfast sandwich with bacon and a double syrup black cherry mocha. I ordered my food from the bar, which is the only place to order food other than the drive-thru. I sat down. My order was brought out to me. I ate. It was tasty. And I drank. Also tasty. I did stuff on the interwebz. I met my coffee date. He talked. I talked. We talked. We both had other meetings. We said our goodbyes. I left.

An hour and a half later, it hits me: I didn’t pay. I ordered my breakfast sandwich and coffee at the bar, but was not rung up. I was not given any sort of check in the two+ hours I was there. And when I left, I was already running a tad late for my next meeting.

Suddenly I’m feeling pretty guilty. I was in the food service industry once and I know from experience that walkouts suck. Besides, I go to local coffee shops like Daily Rush to support them. I don’t think stiffing them is a very effective way of supporting them. I considered driving back to Daily Rush to pay them. I think about gas. I think about my financial pinch. I think about just forgetting about it and carrying on merrily with my day. Saved gas + saved money = … well in truth, not much except prolonged agony given my pinch is being applied by a vice grip. Prolonged agony is postponed certain death. But remember the part about supporting local coffee shops?

Long story short… err… shortened…, I called Daily Rush, told them what happened, and asked them to charge my credit card. The gentleman who answered the phone seemed very confused by my request. I’d guess they get very few walkouts. And even fewer who call back asking to be charged.

* Coffee date for the first person to correctly guess the author.

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update: a map of sorts

Back in January, I conceived a plan to document and visualize how I spent my time. The project has been tabled for many months, but I’ve recently begun to devote time to it once again.

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still quite pleased with myself: coming out a merciless flirt

I’ve always, quite proudly, claimed my flirtatiousness. I like boys. I like to spar with them. Verbally. And non-verbally. In not so innocently provocative ways. One-line affairs hold little interest for me. It’s the ebb and flow of playful banter that I find so engaging.

As the heat of flirtation often escalates, so did confession, into reputation, and now to an actual manifested web presence.

Introducing mercilessflirt.com, a collection of thoughts and media about flirtation. Quotes, video, stories, rumors, how tos … it’ll all be there. Nothing is off limits, even politics (see Exhibit A and Exhibit B).

A handful of you may have heard enough about it to consider it old news, but I’m still quite pleased with my accomplishment. Here’s why:

Two weekends ago, I began an effort to turn an idea into reality. I set up a tumblelog, designed the logo and supporting graphics, customized front-end code, established multi-channel presence (primary domain, Twitter, and YouTube), activated email, and set up Google Analytics for traffic measurement.

I started on a Friday afternoon. I launched that following Monday morning. I did it all myself.

This might seem like no big deal, but I don’t bill myself as a designer, or a developer. So a sub-three-day start-to-finish for my first microsite feels pretty damn significant.

BTW, merciless flirt hit the front page of Google search results for title sans quotes and .com in less than 10 days. Might take a bit longer to hit the front page for flirt. 🙂

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social media wh()re

At last count, I had 33 profiles on 30 different social media related sites. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a few, and I have 2 profiles on each Twitter, MySpace, and 43 Things. I’ll list and link to them all sooner or later, probably sooner as I’m about to embark on a systematic update of each and every one of them. In the meantime, here’s a very non-interactive roll call.

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rumination: web presence addendums on a resumé?

I’m such a joiner, signing up for accounts across the spectrum of social media platforms, each time motivated by different objectives. I explore functionality, satiate curiosity, actively socialize, or simply squat my handle before someone else snags it. I had 28 profiles at last count, yet few of them see enough activity to be considered active.

Like brain crack, my best-laid plans would see these profiles folded into a larger (as of yet, undrafted) strategy for not only building my personal brand, but also for composing a virtual portfolio of my knowledge base, skill set, and interests. Sites like LinkedIn or Biznik already provide a template for users to network resumé-esqu profiles. But as more companies become wise to less business-centric social networking sites, from MySpace and Facebook to Twitter, they are including an investigation of prospective employees’ comprehensive web presence in their due diligence. This post by John R. Hopkins got me thinking … and has me still thinking … does it behoove the social media savvy job seeker to append their traditional resumé with a “reference list” of the sites where they maintain profiles?

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endnotes on the avatar project & process

The new face of Ms. Herr when online launched Friday afternoon on Twitter.

What started with a friend’s critique of the photographic quality of my then default profile pic and my own feeling that the same pic was ill-suited to serve my growing adoption of both personal and professional networking platforms, led to a strong desire for a new social media avatar. Subsequent conversations on personal branding and web presence cemented a notion that one’s avatar was a tool, an iconographic representation of self, serving to frame perceptions of their unique identity.

Already a fan of his abstract fine art work and his Dog a Day series, I was excited to work with Tyson Crosbie (@tysoncrosbie on Twitter) for my shoot, which in essence, was a conversation traversing a number of subjects during which he captured over 50 moments of self-expression.

Having spent much time discoursing the power of social media to engage audiences in meaningful conversations and crowd-source information, I felt it was important to include my own audience in the image selection process. Tyson posted a soft edit set* of 16 images on Flickr and we asked people to select their favorite. (*Link may take you to set of another individual/subject as Tyson and his clients continue to use this process for soliciting feedback. Selections from my set are currently archived here.)

The crowd-selected image is not the image I would have selected…and I consider this incongruence indicative of a successful process. It is often said that each of us is our own worst critic. How we perceive ourselves, how we hope to be perceived by others, and how we are truly perceived by these others are rarely perfectly aligned. What I believe to be my greatest attributes may not sync with those attributes that draw others to me. And so by yielding the selection of my avatar to a voluntary participant group, what rose to the top was an iconographic representation of self that connects most strongly with others.

Want another perspective? Tyson blogged his thoughts on the relationship between the avatar and personal branding.

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