Nerdtackular Links


Sometimes I can be a little “geek chic.” It’s been an exceptionally nerdy morning for me out here in DC as I combed through Twitter onto a couple too-dorky-too-ignore links. Who better to share these with than my dear friends at SSG?

  • The Harry Potter Alliance – Mashable featured this nonprofit as one of 9 Non-Profits that Get Web Humor last January. While that’s a century ago in social media time,  I couldn’t help but be impressed with what I saw. After all, they are doing exactly what I want to do–make a difference in the world by getting people to care about the issues that matter by reaching out to them in new, fun ways on issues they already care about. Did I mention it’s fun?

Here’s their mission statement:

The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit that takes an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights. Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.

  • My second nerdtackular link of the day also involves wizards and social media. Facebook founder, Sean Parker got married on June 1st in a lavish Lord of the Rings-themed ceremony. 10 million dollars of elvish lavish. And because everyone hates money when they don’t have it, there was some backlash. In what Social Times called “a Tolkienesque-length novel,” Parker took to Tech Crunch to respond to some of the media reports. Really, though, this is all about the wedding. Jaw. Still. Dropped. I want to go to there.
  • Lastly, and most excitingly, earlier this week reported that scientists identified 3 potentially habitable planets around the star Gliese 667C, about 22 light-years away from earth. These super-earths could host alien life forms. A couple years ago, I joined tens of thousands of Americans in signing a “We the People” petition asking the White House to officially acknowledge the existence of aliens. My decision to sign was more about the petition process itself than the content (although, um, yeah, obviously aliens exist *scoff*). That said, I was only somewhat disappointed at this response issued by the White House. ET may have phoned home, but nobody phoned the White House–yet. Anyways, promising stuff for Team Alien in the fight against Team Twilight.

How to Fall in Love Every Day

Jack London once said,

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Recently, I’ve invited some of my friends to contribute to the Star Spangled Girl with guest blogs from “Everywhere in Between” to bring some new, interesting points of view. You can tell that someone isn’t a writer when they say, “Sure, I’ll write something when I’ve got some time.” While there are certainly legitimate time constraints that can prevent someone from being able to sit down and write 200-400 words that will suit my high standards, if I only wrote when I was inspired my page would probably be blank.

6a00e5521e68af8833012877a0490a970c-500wiIt’s a blessing to be able to write inspired. As the great writers of history have taught us, in the absence of inspiration, there’s always alcohol. I prefer caffeine–a Venti Skinny Hazelnut Soy Latte, thanks! If “blogging for a living” has taught me anything, inspiration is overrated. Inspiration can get you the first 10%, but after that, it’s work–a labor of love. In fact, writing is a lot like falling in love.

Coming up with a great idea is chemistry, it’s infatuation. It’s the spark that drives the pursuit. Then you’re off, not really knowing where things are going to take you. You fantasize about the idea, thinking of all the places you could go and the people you could quote. You brag about the idea, wanting to tell everyone who’ll listen about this new-found gem.

You’re dating the idea, seeing where things go. What are the possibilities? You have to open up a bit, allow yourself to be vulnerable. No good idea or relationship can begin without honesty and a willingness to be open, no matter how uncomfortable. Soon, you begin to uncover a bit more, there’s depth. Some of the things you thought you enjoyed about the idea, you may find less than appealing. Other things are even better than you thought. Another idea may tempt you, promise you other creative outlets to seduce you away. You weigh the pros and cons, decide if you want to proceed.

If you do, you’ve got to commit. You put the pen to the paper or your fingers to the keys. It’s not always easy, and it takes work. You’ve got to compromise–it’s called editing. You have to be willing to divorce yourself from things you thought you absolutely, unequivocally wanted and needed, like extra clauses or turns of phrase. If you focus too much on the little things, holding on to them for dear life, you can ruin an otherwise beautiful narrative. But if it’s the right piece, with enough work, you can usually write your way through it. Maybe you can really have it all.

Sometimes things get messy. You’re writing, trying your hardest. Not every idea is meant to be brilliant. You have to cut your losses. You may throw it aside, violently scrapping the idea that you once held so dear. Or you may choose to publish, accepting that while it wasn’t what you expected and hoped, it’s time for you to gracefully move on to another idea.

Once it’s over, you may never want to see it again. Then, one day, you stumble upon it, running into it in an unexpected place or seeking it out in a moment of weak nostalgia. You might rediscover the love you once felt, rekindle a passion and excitement. Otherwise, you may tip your hat to it, acknowledging that while it wasn’t your magnum opus, it was once something you loved with a reckless abandon.

Successful art is never quite finished. Like love, an idea will continue to evolve, far beyond the day it posts on a website. It deepens and expands, bridging to places you never quite expected when you first felt that spark of inspiration. You can continue to work on a piece of art, or a relationship, forever. In many ways, you should continue to allow the idea to develop and grow.

They say “If you love something, set it free.” This is publishing. If you over-edit and overwork your idea, like a relationship, it becomes stifled and stale. Set your idea free, into the world. If it’s the right idea, it will come back to you. You can continue to work on it, but it will stand up to the test of time–and Internet trolls.

To my brilliant friends, I encourage you to embrace the idea of blogging. Accepting that there is an element of reckless abandon, a vulnerability, an imprecision that it requires. There is no formula. You have to just embrace the unknown and trust your heart.

I’ve Had Some Work Done…


In case you haven’t noticed, your favorite star-spangled girl’s had a bit of work done. While she’s now LA beautiful, she’s also DC smart. Check out the new features and functions, including:

  • The Star-Spangled Table: Recipes from my table to yours – grill to goodies!
  • Everywhere in between: Since 2011, the SSG charge has been to conquer LA, DC and everywhere in between. Until now, there’s been a lack of adventures in the “in between” places. Thats about to change! Keep an eye on this section for updates from my upcoming trek across the country, plus news from SSG’s friends.

What do you think of the new layout? What features would you like to see?

Papa Can You Hear Me?

552078_10102161522154096_1903565911_nThinking of my relationship with my father, I’m reminded of a quote by the great American author, Mark Twain,

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Add 3000 miles to that equation and suddenly there’s an appreciation that’s its nearly impossible to put into words. For my hero, my father, here’s something I put together.

The Secret to Happiness

There’s been a lot of big things happening in my life. Big things lead to big thinking. What’s the meaning of life? What’s my purpose? Which pair of pumps should I wear to work today? And when one starts pondering such questions, there’s really only one place to go to get the answer: Twitter.

I present the #SecretToHappiness…according to Twitter.

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What’s your secret?