Thursday, April 22, 2010

Website thoughts, Idol Gives Back, reading to preschoolers

I am thinking a lot about my websites lately, mainly because I have to start my final project for my Internet Presence class this week, which will involve revising my writing site. My Graphic Design class assignment that was assigned this week is about Poster or, alternatively, web page design. So I have it on the brain.

With summer coming up, I will have time to really work on my sites since I'm not planning on taking any classes (most of my web design classes aren't being offered, and the only one I feel comfortable taking over summer that is being offered is only being offered at night). I hope I can buckle down, learn some more code via the W3 Schools site (which is a great site btw), and make my sites more appealing.

These thoughts also came on because during history class the other day I was double-tasking as usual, taking notes on my laptop and surfing the web at the same time (I know, I shouldn't do that, but sometimes there's not much to take notes on), and I had my GoDaddy account with my writing site open because I had just uploaded something to the file manager. So I decided to check my site analytics - something I paid to get and which can be quite useful. I found out some things. First, people are coming to my writing site and not staying very long. The "depth of visit" stats were rather indicative of this. 29 of the 31 site visitors my writing site has had just in the last week spent only 1 minute on the site. Ouch. Second, I need to write my site content in more international-friendly English, because people are somehow finding my site via search engines from Russia and China. (Plus a lot of other ones I found last time, like Google Slovenia and Google Finland). Third, my site's just not getting a ton of hits (although oddly my hits spiked way up on April 18th and 19th, maybe because I had to post a thing about my site on the discussion board for my Internet Presence class on April 17th).

I also need to improve my sites in other ways. I need to WooRank my sites again because I lost the reports. I also tested several of my sites on ReadyMobi to see how they'd do on mobile devices, and they all scored abysmally low. I personally use my iPod to surf the web a lot, so I can see the benefit of creating a mobile-friendly site (fortunately .mobi domains are on sale right now at GoDaddy. I should get one; if you buy one from there, it comes with a mobilizer that helps you make the site mobile-friendly).

Ugh, I'm tired, more on this tomorrow.

Last night was Idol Gives Back 2010. There were a lot of musical performances, which I mostly ignored because I was doing homework. I did notice Josh Groban was shown saying a few words (the guy who does "Primetime in No Time" on Yahoo called Josh Groban "one of the Jonases - I don't know which one" -- and I'm like, is he serious? How can he not know who Josh Groban is?!). George Lopez judging the judges and Wanda Sykes's bit were funny. The Black Eyed Peas performed with a crazy stage setup as usual, with the usual fare - Fergie wearing something ridiculously revealing and really strange backup dancers. Every time I have seen the Black Eyed Peas perform live on TV there are those two elements - Fergie will show a lot of skin and there will be very strange backup dancers. This is practically a given with them. Sir Elton John's song was cool. Annie Lennox was also there - no surprise there, I think she's done Idol Gives Back before. They played numerous videos of kids in Africa suffering from malaria, lack of education, HIV/AIDS, or something like that, asking for your help (this is a charity drive, after all), as well as clips of Ellen DeGeneres visiting a Los Angeles food bank with David Arquette, Ryan Seacrest interviewing Bill and Melinda Gates about their contribution to the drive, and Simon Cowell visiting a traveling pediatrician's setup in Arizona that was started using previous Idol Gives Back donations. The usual stuff. Then after running majorly over its timeslot, the results finally came out and "Telfon Tim" Urban was eliminated.

I had to go read to preschoolers today as part of the volunteering requirement Sigma Tau Delta has. One other girl also showed up today. It was actually quite fun. The other girl and I took turns reading. She read a book called Bunny Race, then I read a book called Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie, then the other girl read a book called Are You a Butterfly? (which sounded rather complicated for a preschool-age book), and then we each read a special-request book that two different boys picked out - I read Goodnight Goon (a parody of Goodnight Moon) and the other girl read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, which was an absolutely hilarious book about a pigeon who just wants to eat this hot dog he's found but can't because he's getting pestered by a very curious duckling (who he eventually ends up sharing the hot dog with). Overall, it was a good experience and I'm glad I did it. And it was cool to see that my school has an actual full-on preschool on-site. I thought it was just a childcare place - I knew there were childcare services of some kind because I pay for them every semester through my student fees, though I never use them - but I was wrong. I guess it makes sense since Education is a big major at my school (it's always been known as a good school for teachers).

Ok, I'm going to go to bed now. Goodnight!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trying to relax

This has felt like a rather long week. Maybe it's because last week I had spring break, which felt way too short. Since I have school Tuesday and Thursday (my other days off), I find myself looking forward to Sunday, when my only commitment is church and the rest of the day is mine to do as I please. Saturday is also technically the only day I can stay up really late and not have to worry because I can sleep in (especially since I go to a later church service parents have to take me now since the off-site venue I was going to moved and isn't within walking distance anymore, and having me go to the later service works better for them because their service starts at 10 and mine at 10:50, so they can drop me off on the way to their church).

There's only about a month of school left before summer. I can hardly believe it. The time until spring break feels like it takes forever, and then after spring break is over, everything goes so fast. But then again, ever since I got the job at Stater Bros in January '07, it seems like time has been escaping me faster than usual. Maybe because I worked a lot at first. I can hardly believe I've been at Stater Bros. for 3 years already.

I tried to plan out my remaining classes the other day, again. It looks like I should be able to finish my B.A. by next spring as planned, unless I can't get a class for some reason. I also hope there isn't an issue with my French minor elective -- the class I took to substitute for the normal requirement -- which isn't showing up on my degree progress (the degree progress also says I didn't meet the requirement for French 101, but I should have from taking French in high school...I've e-mailed Dr. Anover about both of these issues). So the plan right now is to take my last two elective classes in fall (especially since one of them, my genre class in Fiction, is only offered in fall) along with the first half of the Lit Theory class and the first half of British Lit. Then next spring, I'll take the second halves of British Lit and American Lit, along with a 400-level Cultural Studies class that's part of the core but requires that you take both of the Lit Theory classes first before taking it (I've taken the second half already).

As for my web design certificate, since I just started it I have a ways to go. Assuming I pass my Graphic Design class and the school accepts that I've taken Web Design 1 already, I'll have two core classes and one emphasis class (my Internet Presence class) out of the way by the end of this semester. Then I have one core class, three more emphasis classes, one advanced course, and a portfolio development class left to take. I'm planning to save the portfolio class till the end (for obvious reasons). I think I may have to take a class in the summer if I want to get this certificate done at the same time as my B.A. I'd rather not take a summer class, but I don't see any other way, since realistically I can't take more than 2 classes for this per semester in addition to my CSUSM load (and even the 2 classes were hard to handle). I'm trying to figure out which class I'd be ok spending a shorter amount of time taking (since the summer semester's shorter than the regular semester). Definitely not the Photoshop or Flash classes, since those are program-based and I want as much time to learn those as possible. That leaves the two Web Design courses, Interactive Media Production, or Dynamic Web Development (my advanced class). It's advised that you take MAT 165 (Web Design 2) before taking the Dynamic Web Development class though so I may save that one for the end.

Ok I got the bright idea to actually see if MiraCosta's Summer schedule was up. It was. The only MAT classes offered this summer are the Photoshop class, Web Design 1, Web Design 2, and a class in Adobe Illustrator (the sequel to the Photoshop class). So unless I want to take Web Design 2 as a night class (the only way it's offered) that's out. So I might not be able to finish it at the same time, especially since my final semester at CSUSM I will probably be super busy - all the people I've met at CSUSM who are seniors seem to be really busy in their last year.

In other news, I put in an application to join Sigma Tau Delta, an international English honor society that has a chapter at my school. I'm still awaiting confirmation one way or another as to whether I've been accepted. At any rate, if I am, I won't be formally inducted until the induction ceremony later in the semester. If I get in, it provides lots of opportunities for scholarships, awards, and publication, as well as apparently volunteering. I already put my name down to read to preschoolers in a couple weeks, assuming my work schedule stays the same as it has been on Wednesdays.

Also, a big news thing I didn't have the time to share last time...I AM NOW A MISS DREAM STAFFER! Yes it's true. I have been added to their staff to do French to English translations and vice versa. My current project is scanning and translating the French Sailor V manga, which will then be Photoshopped (or "shooped") by Jen, another of the staff members. I've also been asked by Jen to translate the French words in the songs from the CD Sailor Moon SuperS in Paris, which contains all "Frenchified" songs. (Or I guess "Frenanese" or "Japrench" or some odd portmanteau like that works too). Since I love the songs on that CD, and since lyrics of them aren't available anywhere (even on, I'm more than happy to help. The version of "Moon Revenge" on there is uber cool.

I feel slightly overwhelmed right now though...I have school and work, which should be more than enough to deal with for anybody. But then there is my writing - and the marketing that comes with it - to worry about, as well as my spiritual life. Plus trying to keep up with the song requests my friend AmyMizunoPGSM sends me for our YouTube singing group LAR Productions, trying to figure out stuff for my websites, writing my articles for The Pallet Tribune (my latest one still isn't up...what the heck, Ducky-von-Karma?), trying to keep up with my forums and social networks, and now doing this gig with Miss Dream. In a way, I can see why one of my YouTube friends said he was taking a break from YouTube and stuff. I feel like I need that too. I could pull it off too if not for Amy-chan, the 16-year-old leader and founder of LAR Productions. I said in my LAR vlog that she's "keeping us on task," and she is definitely doing that. I've had three song requests (one a re-do) just in the last week or so from her. The fact that I've been tired a lot this week, have had homework, and had my allergies flare up hasn't helped this. I think that Amy-chan forgets that some people have lives. Considering how often she posts on Facebook, posting mostly seemingly pointless, arbitrary status updates with the occasional dash of "I miss [insert boyfriend's name here], woe is me" sort of messages, I'm guessing she has a lot of free time on her hands. (Actually, she has some boyfriend right now, because he helped her write the lyrics to the LAR parody she did recently). She actually used to post a lot more of the second kind for a while, after her dad found out about her boyfriend and got angry. She kind of reminds me of Que a little bit, minus Que's sob story about being born out of wedlock as the 6th kid of her mother and being given up for adoption to people who later divorced and remarried. Que never had a relationship longer than 3 months long in the time I knew her. And based on the few things I've heard about her since she was expelled from Tri-City for her bad grades - that she became a teen mom herself and has taken up smoking - Amy-chan might be headed down a bad way. Now you may wonder why I would worry so much about a girl I've never met who lives in Puerto Rico and posts too much on Facebook. Technically, I have no reason to care. But she considers me her friend and oneesan (older sister), so I kind of feel obliged to care.

I admit being in LAR with Amy-chan is a tough thing. I like being in such a group, and have fully supported it by creating the group's website and trying to maintain our Facebook page. I also try to keep updating with videos on our YouTube channel - I was in fact the only one to post all five of the Christmas singles Amy-chan requested of us. But aside from the thing about the song requests, I almost can't stand to hear her sing. She may or may not know this, but she is a really bad singer. Everytime I listen to/watch one of her solos, I almost cringe because she sounds really bad in general (and also out of tune). It's too bad, because she's a great fandubber (as I learned because she's in one of mine). I don't think any of the three of us have had singing lessons though so I probably shouldn't be too hard on her. But I can't help it.

As for my spritual life, I do feel like God is speaking to me through the sermons at church, and I'm reading the Bible every day. But I haven't really taken time to reflect on it. I was just re-reading On My Own, the 4th of the Caitlin books in the Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson, today and it's amazing how Caitlin just talks to God about anything and trusts him a lot too. One of the sermons on prayer - I think the one on the Lord's Prayer - mentioned how nothing is too trivial to bring before God. But I have met really on-fire people who seem to bring up God no matter what they're talking about and involve God in every decision - probably even over whether to have cereal or toast for breakfast - and they bug me. I mean, yes, God should be my #1 and I am supposed to surrender everything to him. I understand this. But I have some issues. First, applying the Bible. Obviously, it's one thing to read it or even study it, but you have to put it into practice or reading it is useless (as James says "faith without works is dead"). I have difficulty doing this. I think this because of what I just mentioned - how much of our lives is ours and how much is God's? Well, I guess all of our lives ought to be God's, because he died for us and bought us for a price, as the Bible says. But he gave us free will, right? That's how we got into sin in the first place. There are some decisions I'd like to make without having to shoot a prayer up first - like what shirt I'm going to wear, what I'm going to have for breakfast, what time to go to bed, that sort of thing. Those sorts of things seem like stuff we shouldn't have to pray about, right?

Second is trust. Ever since high school, with family deaths and the whole Kyle debacle, I've found it hard to trust anybody, let alone God. I know I should trust him, and I want to, but I don't know how.

Third is uncertainty. I have had moments where I feel like I have spiritual insight, but since the insights don't result in change or action on my part, I've begun to doubt whether the insight moments even occurred, or they were just wishful thinking, figments of my imagination created to make myself feel better.

Fourth is fear. Well, fear and worry...they sort of go together. Just recently on American Idol when they talked about what a worrywart Lee Dewyze is, I could totally relate. I have intense fears of failure and rejection (well, and heights too - I actually get anxious in high places, but don't go so far as to suffer vertigo). This added to intense perfectionism (which may be because I'm the firstborn, or just a character trait) makes for not a very pleasant life. I dislike taking risks because I cannot control the outcome. I try to be everything to everyone, because I desperately want to be accepted rather than rejected by people. I have difficulties saying no and care a lot about what others think of me. My current job has been hampered quite a bit by worry that if I did one too many things wrong, I'd get fired (much the way I was let go from my previous job partly for behaviorial reasons). My clumsiness and social difficulties, both symptoms of my Asperger's Syndrome, don't help matters. Thus my fears and my tendency to worry are closely linked.

I think part of my problem is that I don't fully understand myself. I'm still in an identity crisis right now, which is why I think it is hard for me to brand myself as a writer as well. I'm still dealing with the more-or-less confirmation that I have Asperger's, a condition I don't understand very well. Plus, often times it is only the small measure of self-control I seem to possess that keeps me from lashing out when I get frustrated or angry -- like a typical Scorpio, I am intensity hidden behind a placid exterior (I don't regularly read horoscopes, but I have read about my own sign). I know I need some help if I'm ever going to live on my own. I definitely need help learning to budget my money and stuff and probably also help with social relations. Dr. Feder suggested cognitive behavioral therapy, which according to the Wikipedia article on Asperger's, is supposed to help "to improve stress management relating to anxiety or explosive emotions, and to cut back on obsessive interests and repetitive routines." And I know Dr. Feder thinks I have anxiety as well, as in an anxiety disorder (though which one I'm not sure; the term "anxiety disorder" is really a blanket term for many other conditions; in the summary he e-mailed us he is rather vague on the subject).

I'm listening to samples at the moment of a CD by Ōe Hikari, a Japanese musician who was born with brain problems and is also autistic. He's never spoken more than a few words, but he has become able to express himself through music. The music is quite amazing. I might buy his CD's (he has two).

Ok, I think I'm going to take a shower. Good night!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Long time no update again

Happy Easter everyone! Wow I haven't updated in quite some time yet again. I guess because recently when anything worth blogging about comes up, I end up actually talking about it to real people rather than blogging. A good sign? I don't know.

First, to update on my last post, my domain issues got resolved finally, and the domains have been transferred. Myu Corner is up now and Sparkle Moon will be up in probably not too long - though with the home stretch of the semester starting this coming week (now that spring break's ends today) I might put it off till summer.

I haven't bought the Sakura Wars game or the Tatsunoko vs Capcom game. I tried to pre-order the Sakura Wars one to get the artbook, but it wouldn't go through, and I'm not sure whether I still want the Tatsunoko vs Capcom game. I haven't worked on my writing site. I haven't played Tales of Symphonia, though I've had the time. Particularly during this spring break, I have been a lazy bum, sitting at home not doing very much. I have all this homework to do today and tomorrow because of how much of a slacker I was. On Tuesday and Thursday, my full days off, I sat at home all day, Monday afternoon and Friday afternoon and yesterday afternoon ditto. On Wednesday after work I went and saw How to Train Your Dragon in 3D - which was pretty cool - had lunch, and then came home. Actually, I had planned to try to go to the beach on Thursday, but the weather wasn't good that day.

Agenda for today: go to church (I actually have to leave in a few minutes for that), have a big Easter lunch/dinner, and then work on my Graphic Design class homework, which is due today by midnight. Then after that, probably work on more homework, like my story for Creative Writing class, my French assignment, or my document discussion for History. Or all three.

There was a bit in the paper today about how people lined up outside local Apple stores yesterday at 4 a.m. just to get an iPad. That is insane. I'm not sure I want one. I don't really need it, and it's expensive. I just Googled to see if it comes with a stylus (slate-style tablet PCs, which is what the iPad basically is, usually do) and apparently it does not. However, third-party company Pogo is releasing styluses for it. That just makes sense; there's no way you could write anything long using just the oversized iPhone keyboard the iPad has. One article I read said that Steve Jobs does not like styluses, so I don't see any ones coming out from Apple any time soon, but sooner or later they probably will release them because I bet you anything people will want them after a while. On the other hand, Apple seems perfectly fine with people buying third-party accessories for their products (like the PowerBlock thing I bought that lets you charge your iPod touch via an outlet, which can be very convenient). So they might just let the third-party people like Pogo cover that market. As for me getting an iPad, I will probably hold out to see what apps come out for it and whether it goes down in price (as the iPhone has done). That's the same way I feel about e-readers; they're so expensive and I don't know if I need one. Plus I'm not sure what the differences are between the Kindle, the Nook (Barnes and Noble's e-reader), and the Sony e-reader. If I could get my textbooks on it, that would be awesome; but then again there's something about having a real book in your hands that's just not the same with an e-reader.

Okay I should go. More later maybe.