There and back again

Today, I embark upon a journey. From the muggy swampland of Northern Virginia, I’ll venture to the mystic and plastic land I once called home: Los Angeles. Then, in my golden chariot, I will ride across this majestic country, through 13 states, to return to my Capitol City-adjacent home in Arlington, VA.

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Along the way, my trusty sidekick and I will face perilous obstacles that make us ask ourselves questions we’ve never explored before, like “How much is too much BBQ?” and “How long can I hold it so I don’t have to stop at that nasty rest stop?” Our path will take us through

  • California
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Virginia

With stopovers in Las Vegas (Nevada), Denver (Colorado), Jefferson City (Missouri), and Morgantown (West Virginia), it promises to be a thoroughly blog-worthy adventure. Stay tuned to the Star-Spangled Girl and the “Everywhere in Between” tab for more on the sights and sounds from across the U.S. of A.

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A Different Kind of Post

The metro is a swamp. I checked the weather last night—89 degrees with 70% humidity and a 30% chance of rain. It’s impossible to dress appropriately for this weather. I wait through the first train that comes. It’s packed and I don’t want to have to stand in other people’s sweat.

I get to work. My desk is at the opposite side of the office as everyone else, but sometimes people make small talk as they walk by me. They don’t slow down.

I read about health policy. I realize that putting together the morning issue updates might make me one of the more up-to-date people in the office. This scares me. I hope it’s not true.

The morning drags, but I have plans at noon. Last week, a classmate invited me to lunch. I checked my work schedule to make sure I wasn’t on any calls or attending any meetings or events—nothing. I agree. He suggests Old Ebbitt Grill because it’s midway between our offices. I agree. He sends me a Google Calendar invite. I accept.

When I get to the restaurant, I discover he made reservations. I’m glad. The line is long and I hate being out of the office. I order the soft-shell crab. It comes with asparagus, a potato cake, and remoulade—not enough remoulade. I had a conversation last week with my British friends about remoulade when they were visiting. I said it was “Like mayonnaise or aioli.” They asked the waiter anyways. I hate that. They hate it when I say “awesome”, but they call eggplant, “aubergine,” and zucchini, “courgette.”

The food is good. We talk about our weekends. Mine sounds more eventful, but I envy his. After splitting the check, we part with a hug and a promise to do it again soon. I smile as I walk away because we aren’t just saying that.

I get back to work. It’s a big day. An important bill is coming to a vote and it looks good. One executive jokes that I’ve single-handedly put the bill through. Later, my boss introduces me as the girl who does all the work. I wonder if they think I’m a workaholic. I wonder if I am.

I ride the metro home. The sign as I get off at my stop says “Welcome to Virginia”. I’m a Virginian now, but I can’t decide if that means I live in The South.

A friend comes over for dinner. It’s nice not to be alone. Over plentiful heapings of chicken and orzo, I talk about my brothers. I haven’t seen them in almost 6 months. If someone told me last year I would go that long without seeing them, I would have never have believed them. I wonder what they are doing. “Looking in the mirror,” I think. I smile. I look in the mirror. I’m vain. The Brits said that too. I didn’t deny it.

I had a can of soda with dinner and I feel the caffeine. I work off the jitters by making macaroons. I don’t have any bar chocolate or chips so I melt M&Ms with soy milk and butter. It’s good. I’m proud.

I watch basketball with my friend. He doesn’t stay for overtime. Even with the chatter of the TV, the apartment seems quiet.

I open my computer, deciding to write a different kind of post. I finish it and hope that no one—and everyone—read it.

Cheers, to no one and everyone.

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
~Virginia Woolf

Good Tweet, Bad Tweet

A couple weeks ago, my parents and grandparents stumbled their way from Los Angeles to the District. Somewhere in between getting lost on the wrong side of the Key Bridge and chowing down at some of DC’s finest, I got stuck on a topic that I never talk about–social media.

Techies aren’t just born, they are bred.

I filled the 8 days I shared with my family with talk of tweets and pins, teaching them how to check-in on Facebook and explaining Twitter and Pinterest. The result? I was tagged into every restaurant we went to 3 times, and my grandpa (@MillenniumMayor) has been spam tweeting Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Martha Maccallum, and Sarah Palin.

It’s not surprising when social media noobs like my family ask how to do Twitter the right way. I hesitate to say that there is a right or wrong way to tweet, but there are definitely better, more effective ways. Have I lost you?

Don’t fret–I have a perfect DC meets LA way to explain!


Bad Tweet

Earlier today, the US Embassy in Brussels tweeted:

The tweet references the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) which had an event on the topic of women and counterterrorism (#WomenAndCT) yesterday afternoon. It’s a well-done tweet, with the exception of using the wrong handle for CSIS. On the other hand, CSIS does a terrible job with their response:

I have a ton of respect for (and would love to work for) the Center for Strategic and International Studies, but this tweet is simply bad form. CSIS has forwarded a modified tweet from the US Embassy in Brussels that looks like it was written by Justin Bieber after he raided his parent’s liquor cabinet. Why did they shorten keywords like instrument and expert and remove the space between 4 and peace, but leave important and according complete? This tweet could have read:

MT‏ @usembbrussels #Women are important weapon against terror & instrument 4 peace say experts @CSIS http://bit.ly/HXg9jG #terrorism #Verveer

Is this better? What do you think?

Good Tweet

If you are scoffing at seeing my own face listed under the title of good tweet, fear not. My vanity has not yet taken over.
Earlier this week, I had an exchange on Twitter which I think demonstrates best practices for political and advocacy Twitter usage. As an extra bonus, it also includes one of my favorite topics, Kim Kardashian!

Kim Kardashian took headlines by storm this week when she said on her reality show that she might consider running for Mayor of Glendale someday. The city of Glendale, sometimes referred to as “Little Armenia” by locals, is very close to where I grew up–in the same congressional district, in fact. Congressman Adam Schiff represents the district, and so I thought I’d poke a little fun at him and the situation.

I never expected a response, and yet within 24 hours:

What can politicians take away from this tweet? The response (1) demonstrated that he was actually listening and engaging rather than just broadcasting, (2) took the opportunity to share one of his positions that his constituents feel strongly about (Armenian Genocide), and (3) it felt personal and real, not stiff or like a form letter. These are the kind of interactions that politicians should be aiming for to maximize the impact of their online discussions.

But the conversation didn’t end there. No, Kim Kardashian didn’t chime in. @CharaGG, however, did:

The link posted goes to an indiegogo website that asks people to donate to her documentary project that deals with Armenian genocide. My guess is that she either follows Rep. Schiff due to his strong support of Armenian Genocide recognition, or she searched for Armenian genocide on Twitter and inserted herself into relevant conversations. In doing so, she tapped into a conversation that was already occurring online with people who care about a topic. This is good social networking. This is digital engagement.

Until next time.

A toast, “To Mayor Kardashian, may the stress of politics not make her want to pull her own extensions out.”

“The people drawn to Twitter are people on the cutting edge, the real nerds who are resentful of the fact that the general population have found and taken over Facebook”

~Steve Dotto, host of Dotto Tech

The Way to a Happy Life

9497585-road-to-happiness-search-and-find-a-happy-life-joyful-living-fulfillment-arrowIn honor of my family visiting me this week, I want to share a poem written by my grandfather’s uncle and stepdad (long story), Basil Venti. These words have been recited at every important family event for as long as I can remember. The first time I recited it, I was four! It’s traditions like these that keep families strong.

The Way to a Happy Life
by Basil Venti 

Journey on through the years
Speak kindness and cause no grief
Do good along the way
Even a little, but every day

Never idle the precious time
Never quarrel, yell, or whine
For as long as the Earth is under the sky
Always some argument will eventually arise

Always do whatever is right
Help the weak and conquer the pride
Above all, strive to do your best
And leave to God to do the rest

Looking forward to (hopefully) blogging some of my thoughts about the visit very soon. Between school, work and getting ready to move next month, I’m swamped. You know I’ll do my best, though.

I Put the Social in Social Media

imgresThey say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

I wrote a blog about QR codes, my Thanksgiving had a hashtag, and I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow — My name is Liane and I’m a technoholic.

When I sat down to write today, I intended this blog to be a defense of the social aspect of social media. Then, I remembered the cardinal rule of writing: know your audience. If you are reading this BLOG, chances are you’re pretty okay with social media as you probably got here via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail. A defense of social media belongs in a newspaper….and that newspaper belongs in a museum where other old, historic things go to be forgotten.

Instead, I’m going to invite you to share in the joy that is Social Media Week DC!

From February 13th-17th, cities all over the world (Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, & Washington DC) are participating in Social Media Week. As a girl with a passion for new media, I could not pass up the opportunity to sign up for a couple of the amazing events happening here in DC. Hopefully, I’ll also have enough time this week to blog about the events, but if not be sure to follow me on Twitter @liane_w for live tweeting from the following events:

Monday, February 13, 2012
Nothing! — I need to work on the formative research for my Media, Development, & Globalization project :/
Tuesday,  February 14, 2012

Digital platforms have changed the media landscape forever, but how has it changed the way the media covers politics? We’ll ask a panel  from Gannet, National Journal, ABC News and Politico as they discuss 2012 election coverage.

The social media landscape has changed drastically since 2008. We’ll hear directly from panelists from Google, Twitter and Facebook as they delve into the tools and innovations that candidates and campaigns have utilized as the 2012 campaign heats up.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We will explore the driving forces that have been evolutionary markers for social media, transitioning it from the past to the present, and giving us a glimpse into the future. This session is for those wishing to understand where their organization is placed on the evolutionary timeline, what is next for social media, and why. In our interactive discussion, we will reminisce about famous flops, share success stories, and discuss the future of what social media can be for Government agencies and Non-governmental organizations.

As we look back on the impact social media has had on the healthcare industry over the past year, we see dramatic growth in social media adoption by health care consumers, providers, and organizations. While the industry has taken a giant leap forward into the brave new social media world, we’ve only scratched the surface of what is yet to come.

So what does the future hold? Join thought leaders from Eli Lilly, Inspire, Ogilvy and Ozmosis as we explore the positive impact social media has made throughout the healthcare system.  Together, we will examine how patients, providers and healthcare organizations have leveraged social tools to enhance communication, promote education, improve the delivery of care, and reduce growing costs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How does social media change how statecraft is practiced in the 21st century? Who’s participating and why? What have been some lessons learned from the pioneers who have logged on to listen and engage? Three representatives from the U.S. Department of State will share case studies and professional experiences gleaned directly from the virtual trenches.

This panel discussion and networking event will introduce you to some of the people behind “American Censorship Day” and the “Internet Blackout Day” for a candid discussion discuss their the strategies and tactics that lead up to  over 14 million people to contacting Congress in a single day.

We will discuss how Internet experts, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs from across the political spectrum came together to successfully derail SOPA and PIPA and offer a glimpse into what this means for future advocacy campaigns.

Friday, February 17, 2012

While Sean Parker may predict that social media will determine the outcome of the 2012 election, governance is another story entirely. Meaningful use of social media by Congress remains challenged by a number of factors, not least an online identity ecosystem that has not provided Congress with ideal means to identify constituents online. The reality remains that when it comes to which channels influence Congress, in-person visits and individual emails or phone calls are far more influential with congressional staffers.

“People think it’s always an argument in Washington,” said Matt Lira, Director of Digital for the House Majority Leader. “Social media can change that. We’re seeing a decentralization of audiences that is built around their interests rather than the interests of editors. Imagine when you start streaming every hearing and making information more digestible. All of a sudden, you get these niche audiences. They’re not enough to sustain a network, but you’ll get enough of an audience to sustain the topic. I believe we will have a more engaged citizenry as a result.”

This conversation with Lira (and other special guests, as scheduling allows) will explore more than how social media is changing politics in Washington. We’ll look at its potential to can help elected officials and other public servants make better policy decisions.

Alright, enough of that! I will try and update as much as possible about the fascinating information I learn this week. Let me know if you want more information/want to hear about a specific event/really love newspapers–yeah, right. Stay tuned 🙂

In honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday, today’s extremely appropriate blog quote:

“In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
~ Charles Darwin

Notebook of a Nomad

Ah, an homage to my former blog of choice. Check it out at http://www.notebookofanomad.blogspot.com.

I felt a little like a nomad again today as I wandered alone through the streets of Foggy Bottom, the area of DC where George Washington University is located. It sounds like some place out of Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring series, though, doesn’t it?

Oddly enough, I did see a female dwarf/midget/little person today and then shortly after a man who was 6’9”. I feel bad for people who are extremely tall. I was sitting outside of Starbucks, when this giant walks passed me and this conversation occurs:

Awkward Guy On the Bench Next to Me: (yelling) Hey man how tall are you?
Giant: 6’9”
Benchyeller: Did you play ball?
Giant: Used to
Benchyeller: College?
Giant: Yeah
Benchyeller: Professional?
Giant: Only in the Dominican Republic
pause
Benchyeller: You’re tall

I thought that last “You’re tall” was really necessary after he felt like publicly playing 20 questions with him. That’s excessive. You know tall people are tired of hearing it. Like people with accents probably want to punch people in the face when they are asked where they are from!

The picture above shows where this conversation occurred. That is not why I took the picture, though. It’s hard to take a picture of GW campus because it’s not a campus like UCLA, it is more like NYU. The school is flush with the city, camouflaged if it weren’t for the disproportionate amount of people under 25. You can tell a GW building by the blue and yellow flag. This is one of the school libraries. GW knows how to do it right, as the same building also houses a Starbucks, and just outside the doors a Sabrett hotdog stand. Studying students need their brainfood.

This is where I ate my breakfast today. I ordered a Venti Iced Sugar-Free Hazlenut Soy Latte and a Hot Veggie Panini from Starbucks. How LA, right? The barista looked at me and I could read her eyes “Who the hell does this girl think she is?”

DC is not a Soy Latte city- its too complicated and showy. DC is CERTAINLY not a Frappuccino city either- its too much frilly and whipped cream, forget it. Cities have personalities, not unlike people. And different cities have certain drinks which are more suited to its vibe. DC is most definitely a Cafe Americano city. Cafe Americano is no nonsense- expresso and water; strong and bold a Cafe Americano means business.

  • Los Angeles is a Skinny Latte city. Lively and fashionable, but nonfat.
  • Seattle, home of Starbucks, is a Black Coffee city. It’s raining, they just need to get the job done.
  • Dublin is an Irish Coffee city. They throw Whiskey in everything.
  • Rome is a Cappuccino city. It’s got flair and a kick.
  • Madrid is a Hot Chocolate city. Coffee would be too stuffy and not nearly as good with the churros!

Can you think of any others? I’d love to hear what you think about city coffee culture.

A toast, “To coffee, after all these toasts you will certainly need a cup.”

“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.”
~Ronald Reagan