R.I.P. Myspace

January 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm (Uncategorized)

Once upon a time, Myspace ruled the social network kingdom. Internet users of all ages were glued to their computers. However, within the lives of persons in their teens and twenties, it seemed to be an obsession.

Whether they were looking for prospective “friends”, or uploading pictures to their page, these young people were heavy Myspace users. Myspace started a revolution, and was virtually impossible to avoid. However, in recent years it has faded as sites like Facebook have gained popularity.

College students at the University at Albany located in Albany, NY, seem to agree that Myspace is no longer a high commodity.

Megan Tatro, 21, a native of Moriah, NY, and junior at the University at Albany, found Myspace to be addictive. “I literally learned HTML so that I could personalize my own backgrounds on my page. I was obsessed. I checked it any time I could get to a computer,” she says. However, when asked about her usage now, her story changed drastically. “I deleted my page. It ended up getting annoying. I use facebook now,” she says.

Facebook’s emergence in 2004 seemed to capture college students’ attentions beyond Myspace’s capabilities. Cheryl Wilson, 21, a native of Saranac Lake, NY, and senior at the University at Albany, saw Facebook as a solution. “My brother went to college and had to meet people the ‘old fashioned’ way. I, however, made a facebook, added people from SUNY Albany, and had friends before I even moved in,” she says, “Facebook has changed how I keep in touch. I can keep tabs on my friends and family without leaving my computer.”

Students are not using facebook for much more past socialization. Job searching, and using facebook’s marketplace is not as much of an entity as the social aspect is. The belief that facebook can be used for career-related activities seems to be lacking for students. Lauren Carroll, 19, a native of Port Jervis, NY and Junior at the University at Albany has no intentions of using her facebook after college. “I would assume that I’d use something monster.com if I needed a job. Facebook is for parties and pictures, not for job searches,” she says.

Students at the University at Albany seem to prefer using their social networking sites primarily for social reasons. Students are not heavily frequenting job-related websites such as LinkedIn. Many are solely using networking sites to stay connected with friends and family, and the site most often used seems to be facebook.

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Never trust a jar of mayo…

January 28, 2010 at 2:05 am (Uncategorized)

I’m beginning to think that I am car phobic.

Not in the “I can’t get in there” phobic, but the “oh my god. oh my god. oh my god. I have a flat tire.” or the “oh my god. oh my god. oh my god. I need an oil change.”

Now, I’m not a ditzy girl who twirls her hair and cries for a mechanic in shining armor type. Nope. Never. I’m the call-Dad,-flip-out-yell-about-something-minor-making-him-think-it’s-major kind of girl. Therefore, when my tire was tragically brutalized in the parking lot of my apartment on campus, I knew just who to call.

There was just one issue – my Dad wasn’t reachable. So, I called the next best person, AAA, and waited for Ryan the tow-truck man to come save me.

In those boredom and anxiety ridden minutes that I waited for good old Ryan, I decided to look at what could have possibly given me a flat tire. I had driven past the dumpsters to get to a parking spot. Right after, I had heard this POP and boom, tire down.

So I put my Nancy Drew face on, and went to examine the scene.

I walked towards the dumpster, only to see garbage strewn all over the parking lot. Now, seeing as I had not hit the dumpster, the garbage was confusing…until I looked at the dumpster. Garbage overflowed, and lucky me  had run over the not one, but TWO jars of mayo that had been sitting in the parking lot.

Annoyed that I pay over $10,000 a year to have mayo take over the parking lot, I called Res-Life immediately.

Now, granted I was a little less than nice, but I got my point across that I was an angered apartment dweller! How dare they tell me that maintenance would get to it in the morning! Maintenance should have taken care of it in the first place!

Obviously they sent over a housing manager.

I calmly walked the young man over to the dumpster, pointing out the garbage, and my bum tire.

His solution?

He apologized, placed the mayo in the garbage (leaving the rest of the garbage out, I might add), and offered me a flashlight in order to aid in the changing of my tire.

A flashlight.

I pointed to myself and before I could stop myself said “Do I LOOK like I know how to change a tire!? Do I give off the grease monkey vibe to you!? I’m

in SLIPPERS.”

At this point, housing manager was saved by my tow-truck-god, who clearly understood that I was incapable of even contemplating changing a tire. Within 10 minutes I was home-free, and Ryan was on his way.

Moral of the story: my car got brought down by a jar of mayo, and Res-Life needs to reevaluate their response to complaints.

A flashlight, psht.

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Journalist, Shmournalist…You’re a human being first

January 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm (Uncategorized)

If you choose to stand by, and watch someone  be victimized, you are just as guilty as the person committing the act. Placing myself within Haiti, in Anderson Cooper’s situation, I would react in the same way.

When disaster is happening, the natural instinct is to protect oneself, not others. However, in Haiti, Cooper himself was not in danger, yet a young child was. His almost unnatural (in comparison to others’ reactions) reaction to step in and save the child is one which should be commended. If Cooper had continued to film this act of brutality, he might have been punished by the public for his decision.

By getting involved with the story, Cooper has created a bias for himself.  Assumedly, the majority of the public will agree that what happened in Haiti is a terrible tragedy.  The idea that any and all steps should be taken to save lives is strong. However, the majority of the public is not the entirety of the public. Therefore, Cooper’s act reveals his opinion on Haiti, creating a bias in the story he is reporting.

Personally, I feel that journalists should relate to their audience as both a human being, and a respected reporter. Cooper’s actions revealed his “human” side, and allowed people to see his values and morals, something often not shown in journalist’s works. This reveal could help him in the long run, by making him a trusted figure in the public’s eyes.

If I had been Cooper, and was witnessing a brutal attack on a child, I would undoubtedly step in. I feel that by standing back and watching violence occur, you are just as guilty as the person committing the violent act. Things like the Good Samaritan Law are in place so that people can help one another. At the end of the day, no matter what title or position you hold, you are a human first and should not allow unnecessary suffering to occur in your presence.

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Albany Art Room

December 2, 2009 at 3:05 am (Uncategorized)

It’s not often that one finds a haven for artists, and art lovers nestled in between an infamous Albany tavern and a Tex-mex joint. However, the Albany Art Room seems to have made itself at home within downtown Albany. On busy MadisonAvenue, your eye can’t help but catch the bright pink and purple trim that surrounds the building. It’s a welcoming and friendly exterior, which not only displays the type of business it is, but the type of people running it.

Owner Karen Schupack is the first to greet you as you walk in the door. Standing behind her bright purple desk in her paint-splattered apron, you instantly sense that you can relax here; even make a mess, and leave with something unique.

How it all started

Schupack, originally from California has an extremely varied background. This includes a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Architecture and Historic Preservation, as well as a Masters degree in Elementary Education from St. Rose. The variation continues with her careers in community development, teaching, and educational administration.

Within her teaching career, Schupack sought out positions within private schools. “It just suited my style of teaching better at the time,” she says “I couldn’t really fit into the restrictions of having to prepare kids for tests, and doing a lot of really standardized curriculum. I needed a more open-ended possibility.

This need for an unrestricted and relaxing environment led Schupack to venture into the entrepreneur lifestyle. In 2008, she realized that there was a void in the connection between people and art. “I wanted to do something on my own, and this was a combination of lots of different things that I thought should exist here,” she says.

After getting help to write her business plan from the Entrepreneur Assistance Program, she used $60,000 worth of her own money, and money from family to open up the Albany Art Room.

The Building

Although the building itself is not historic, it is located in a historic district of Albany. This forces any exterior changes to be approved by a historic committee.

Schupack’s purple and pink paint was up for debate by the committee in August of 2008. “My colors had to get approved, and since they’re kind of wild, that wasn’t the easiest task,” she says.

Inside, the Albany Art Room consists of three rooms, each specific to what kind of art one would like to make. The Open Studio room is where customers can create whichever sort of art they choose.

The second room is dedicated to classes, which are taught at the Albany Art Room for both adults and children. The room is also used for birthday parties, which are also available for all ages.

The third room is the newest, and has become the pottery room. Schupack proudly showed off her new kiln and space during the tour. The room offers six new pottery wheels and the space to work with and paint the pottery.

Within the building there is also a gift shop, as well as a mini gallery, which showcases the work of local artists.

Albany Art Room and the community

The Albany Art Room resides in the downtown area of Albany. This area can present some issues.  “It’s urban, we have homeless people wandering in,” Schupack says. However, departing from the area’s issues is the Albany Art Room, and its attempt to enhance the neighborhood.

“There’s very little for families to do, especially, and there’s very little for adults to do, except for eat and drink. It [this business] provides another thing to do in the neighborhood,” Schupack says.  Her business attracts those urban locals as well as those suburbanites, and uses the area to its full advantage; showcasing artists and hosting local schools for field trips.

Her urban location can have a negative impact on her business, however in terms of the parking situation in downtown Albany. Schupack is able to combat this with the off-street parking that the Albany Art Room provides. “Having off-street parking is key. A ton of our customers come in from the suburbs. They don’t want to drive around an urban neighborhood and have to parallel-park,” she says “when they hear it’s near Lark Street they’re afraid that they’re coming here. When they know there’s parking, it helps them get over some of that fear.”

A local customer, Lisa O’Brien, along with her six children, have frequented the Albany Art Room for the last year. O’Brien, like most customers discovered the Art Room by word of mouth. “I heard about it [The Albany Art Room] from my sister-in-law who has triplets, it was a great place for her to come and safely entertain her children. It’s just a really stimulating environment for children,” O’Brien says, “I think this is just such a good thing for the community.”

Fulfilling a need

Schupack’s Art Room is filled with endless possibilities when it comes to producing art. In many lives, art has not been present. This is especially true in those lives where art has been cut from a school program, or a household budget.

In regards to her business’ ability to provide such art supplies and space, Schupack says: “I think it definitely fulfills a need. Whether it’s that they don’t get enough art, or whether the art is too restrictive, and this is more open-ended…for one reason or another they do say this is fulfilling a need that their children have or that they have.”

In terms of who is coming in to fulfill this need, Schupack’s main customers lie within the children of the area. When asked who is most present within the studio, Schupack says: “I guess if its just a question of numbers of people who come in, I think we have more three to five year-olds than any other age group.”

Although three to five year olds may dominate the Art Room, Schupack does acknowledge the fact that a lot of adults benefit from the business, as well as the ages coming together. “Having people of all those different ages and levels of experience mixing together and appreciating each other’s artwork is really a big art of it too. You’ll have a young child painting at the easel, and an experienced adult artist sitting at the table working, and the adult will be watching the child and learning from the child,” she says.

Everyone an artist

The Albany Art Room’s homey and welcoming feel stems from the idea that art should be for everyone. “It’s the idea of helping everyone understand that they can be an artist,” Schupack says.

For a reasonable $7 for one hour, you can relax and be any type of artist you want. Such sensible pricing has left Schupack with a business that is flourishing during national economic hardship.

Schupack’s business has not only been a financial success, but a success in terms of making art accessible to the people of Albany.

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I am the pudding ambassador…here me roar

November 18, 2009 at 8:45 pm (Uncategorized)

So during the summer my Aunt told me about this internship her company was doing, a “pudding internship” she called it. I thought, “hey, I like pudding!” and consented.

It’s actually a whole social media/marketing internship though, and so I get to use this online interface which is set up like facebook, and I communicate with other “ambassadors” at other schools. I also have to hold a sampling at my school, which I did so today..tadaa!

I was suppose to meet this woman from Chartwells so she could help me set up my booth in front of Outtakes. She was suppose to be there at 11am. I waited for her until 11:15am and then decided to start the process myself. (Whatever  Chartwells)

They had shipped a bajillion boxes of pudding with my name on it (which I thought was funny because who doesn’t love tons of pudding being held for them by chartwells?) to the campus center kitchen. My cousin Mike happens to work in the warehouse of the company and ended up packing up the boxes, so I got a nice little “Hold for Alexis Gaines…..from Mike” note on the box (whatever, I thought it was funny).

I started unpacking and setting up the table, placing the chocolate and rice puddings out. All of a sudden with everything together, I became Car-salesman-Alexis. I was calling people over, I was yelling about pudding, the world seemed right! I think…

In the middle of my hyper-mode some woman approached me asking about the internship and whether I got paid or not. Obviously I said no, (and that I was solely compensated in POUNDS of pudding!) and that I was doing it for my college resume and the experience. I thought she was interested in the program, but then she decided to offer me a job! Well, actually, first she asked when I was going to be 21, which made me nervous as I’ve watched wayyy too many Law & Order: SVU’s. When I told her my birthday was in February, she proceeded to write her information down on a napkin (now I was REALLY convinced she was trying to kidnap me…or hit on me..either way I was uncomfortable). She works for a company that does liquor promotions, and she said she liked my energy. The girls make $25/hour doing wine tastings, and I’m po’ so maybe after February 25th we’ll be in touch falsely-accused-kidnapper-lady.

Anyway, 45 minutes prior to the official “end” of my tasting, I ran out of pudding (which is what made my “where’s the pudding?” button even funnier). I decided to pack it in, and went on my merry way.

However, I’m sick. So that, coupled with the yelling about the wonders of pudding equals me having no voice. So now I sound like a blues singer, but I’m kind of OK with it, I mean, I’m working it…that and a box of kleenex.

 

Link for the album of photos from my sampling event: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30860533&id=1357410123

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Falling Up.

November 18, 2009 at 3:35 pm (Uncategorized)

I don’t think I’ve fallen and then cried since I was 6  years old. I had missed a step coming off the bus, and landed face first onto our school’s lovely concrete entrance way. There was blood,  there were tears, and there was a phone call home.

Needless to say, I survived.

I’ve gone a good 14 years now, pretty much tear-free and accident free, with the exception of a few broken toes added to my repertoire. My long running ability to stay on my own two feet was also pretty great in the fall, spring, and summer. However once winter comes I turn into sir (or miss in my case) falls-a-lot. I slide on ice, I slide down stairs, down driveways – the works. Always tear-free.

These instances are why my hugely embarrassing episode last night is unbelievably shocking to me.

After finishing a particularly agonizing night of babysitting (they were trying to kill each other via lightsabers, I swear) I drove to my boyfriend’s apartment to walk the pup. I’m walking, I’m texting (my biggest mistake), and I’m holding a giant thing of hot tea (stored in my newly bought reusable cup! thank youuuu outtakes!).

All of a sudden, I’m down. I’m lying face first on the stairs, my tea has taken flight, and my shin has been brutally assaulted by a step. Embarrassed and thankful no one is around, I “ow” myself up the stairs.

I finally make it into the apartment after three tries (the puppy likes to play a game I like to call Alcatraz – you open the door and he tries to escape..only he never has, ha ha! Alexis 1, Luka 0). As I limp into the kitchen, “ow”-ing my way to the freezer, I decide it’s a BRILLIANT idea to take a look at my shin and see the damage.

Lifting up my pantleg, I reveal a baseball-size bruise. Tears. Instantly.

Not only do bruises make me seriously queasy (pooling blood, vomit.) but the sight of the lump on my leg is making me want to dial 9-1-1.

Instead I call my Mom.

My Mom, who I am pretty sure knows all, assures me I’m not dying and that I really should stop sobbing (obviously I’m in hysterics…it friggin hurt!). We both diagnose me as having fallen due to the fact that my balance is off because lately I feel like I have the plague.

So, I go to ice it, and not only has Luka been barking at me and doing his cute head-confused-twist thing at my insane tears, but he now runs away with my ice pack! I’m officially hysterical now, which is why it was the PERFECT time for my boyfriend to call.

I answer the phone, sounding like someone has tried to kill me. I explain the story, and he laughs. I almost die via staircase, and the man laughs! RUDE. His solution however is to bring home chinese food, so I’m not sure how mad I can be..I mean, who doesn’t love some good moo shu with a side of tumor-bruise?

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Jimmy Vielkind doesn’t have 9 kids…

November 17, 2009 at 2:54 am (Uncategorized)

The New York Observer’s political blogger Jimmy Vielkind does not have nine children. However his last name says differently in German. He also did not always have the intention to be a journalist, which you would never gather due to his passion for the field.

 

Somehow, Vielkind has found himself far into a profession he didn’t intend to be in, and a bachelorhood, which defies his own name. Yet, from all of this Vielkind has prospered and grown from the kid who solely got into journalism because he wanted to make $8 an hour.

 

From his $8 an hour job, a career has been formed. At 24 years-old Vielkind is writing and striving in a field which seems to be experiencing constant downsizing.

 

Vielkind writes a political blog for The New York Observer. The blog focuses on “the state as it circles the drain” he says “I write about him [the governor] when he does governor-type things, and I write about him when he does not so governor-type things.”

 

Vielkind’s quick wit and excitement is just as infused within his blog as it is within his responses, making it clear why he has survived four rounds of company layoffs.  Vielkind’s resiliency may have to do with that fact that he is not only is focused on the writing aspect of his blog, but on the photography, videos, and audio that appear on the blog as well. Currently, Vielkind’s passion extends to being his own photographer and videographer. “I’ve kind of become my own one man band,” he says.

 

Such technological prowess and constant drive can also be seen as what has secured Vielkind in his profession. Journalism is a “workaholics profession,” he says, “I am a workaholic, I’ll die a workaholic.” This attitude however, may be the one, which is able to carry him through to his 30-year goal of being a general interest columnist.

 

With such a large goal for the future, Vielkind continues to “feed” his blog five times a day, and utilize all the newest technology available for journalists. All, but Twitter that is. “I don’t [twitter],” he says “it’s because I’m a bad person. There’s no logical reason for me not to twitter.”

Even when giving final advice to young journalism students, Vielkind’s personality and excitement comes out within his choice of advice to share. “Journalism is like a calling to the priesthood,” he says “you’re not going to make a lot of money, and you’re probably not going to get laid.” Yet even with such a comparison to his profession, Vielkind continues to prosper and enjoy being a journalist and covering the “BS in politics.”

 

 

 

 

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Dairy Update:

November 17, 2009 at 12:49 am (Uncategorized)

Another milk carton down…

 

Anger level: 100000

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Why scrabble should replace the NYS teacher certification exams

November 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm (Uncategorized)

At my job, my co-workers are pretty much all going to school to be teachers, which is who I would expect to be working at a before/after school day care. Being someone who is attempting to educate the future, you would think that these girls would be qualified and bright (or at least literate at best).

Newsflash: they’re not.

Scrabble changed my perspective on future educators forever Wednesday morning, all starting with a pore/poor debacle.

We were on two teams of two, one counselor and one child on each team. The other team was already getting competitive, and my team had realized it was 7:45am and the only thing we wanted to be serious about was getting back into bed. However, we put our game faces on and put down our first word: “hen.”

“Hen” was a good first word, lots to build on, especially which the “e” in the middle. However “hen” and that very same “e” is  what started the downfall of Scrabble, and my coworker.

Girl: ‘p-o-r-e’ or ‘p-o-o-r’ is the one on your face?

Me: “p-o-r-e”

Girl: “oooh, then what’s p-o-o-r?”

Me: “Poor, like, destitute?”

Girl stares with confused look (oye.)

Me: “Like, not rich?”

Girl: “oooooooh!”

Game continues, painfully, with the word “ripen” put down by my team

Girl: “uhm, ripen’s not a word (note: said rip-pen).”

Me: “yes, it is. Ripen, as in fruit must ripen.”

I’m annoyed by now. Scrabble wasn’t made for nobel prize winners alone, like come on. “Cast” is on the board now, I add an “e”

Girl: “caste (said kays-stuh)? Caste is not a word!”

Me: “Ok. It’s a system. The untouchables? Ring a bell?”

Girl: “Uhmm, if you say so.”

Me: “I’m going to go play with the Lego’s.”

And that is how she wasn’t strangled. She should thank Lego’s.

It’s not that she wasn’t good at Scrabble, or the English language. It was that she was an imposter. Someone who is saying to parents that they’re educated and qualified to teach children. I’m sorry, but if you don’t know the word “ripen”, you’re just dumb.

So in the end, I’m thinking that NYS needs to rethink all the certification exams, and have a giant Scrabble tournament.


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The Great Milk Mystery of Monday…

November 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm (Uncategorized)

Friday Afternoon:

The fridge is stocked, and the milk carton in question has been used once since purchased on Thursday, making it practically full. My initials are on it, clearly stating that the dairy product is mine, and mine alone.

Monday Morning:

I open said fridge to begin to make my breakfast (shredded wheat, spoon size! – obsessed.) and reach in to grab the now EMPTY milk carton.

I yell at the carton. However, it’s not the carton’s fault, now is it? Nope, there’s a milk thief in my apartment.

Monday Afternoon:

After thinking and considering that there are three milk cartons (two now that mine has been sacrificed to the unknown) in the fridge and four people living in the apartment, I can narrow it down. If three out of four of us have cars, then we would all be able to run out and grab milk when we run out. However, one of my dear apartment-mates has no car or license. Mystery solved.

 

The Confrontation:

I decided to be sly and text her with “do you have any milk? Someone drank ALL of mine!” I figured that this would produce a “oh, it was me, I owe you some milk, sorry!” type of response. Instead I got, “nope, don’t have any. Hey, if you’re going to Walmart, I need blah blah blah blah.”

I know she drank it, she knows she drank it, and instead of a confession and apology I got errands?

Solution:

I went to Walmart, got some milk. I also got some permanent marker and wrote my name on every free space of that milk carton. I thought it was artsy, yet sent a message. I swear though, if that milk is gone, good luck to anyone around.

 

 

End dairy-infused rant 🙂

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