Grow Up!

Growing up is hard. Everyone knows that. What everyone doesn’t know is about my growing up process. Well, I’m going to change that. I grew up normally as a youngest child. This means that I have been and still am to some extent a brat. However, I have gone through some things that made me grow up real fast, real quick. Luckily, every negative experience I had made me better, stronger, and happier in the long run; so, no need to bore you with them. Instead I’m going to show you how I’ve changed

Things I Don’t Like Then vs. Now:

venn diagram

Spiders are always the enemy.

First Facebook Profile Picture vs. Current:

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Notice the progression from cheesy quotes to cheesy pictures of questionable makeup decisions to cheesy pictures of a professional adult with her nephew.

How I Spend my Money:

pie chart 2003

pie chart 2013

To be fair, most of my food/drink cost is still candy.

So there you have it, definitive proof that I’ve grown up. I mean, just look at all those adult things I buy and dislike.

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If I Were in Charge of All the Advertising Directed at Children…

If somebody said to me, “Hey, Julija, how would you like to be in charge of all of the advertising directed at children?” I would be ecstatic. There is a lot of good advertising out there, but there’s also a lot of bad stuff, too. The biggest problem that I see, and that honestly makes no sense to me, is an extreme gendering of toy advertising directed at children. When I was a kid there was gendering, of course, but there was also a lot of middle ground. There were toys that were for both boys and girls and I liked that. I have thought a lot about this phenomenon and the only thing I can think of as the cause is this:  as the internet pushes more and more targeted marketing the toy/cereal/childhood industries are trying to do so as well. But, here’s the deal, kids are much more impressionable than adults. They don’t know what they like or dislike. So, targeted marketing for children has this strange side effect of actually creating the targeting it targets.

“Why is that such a big deal?” You’re probably asking. Well, think about the ads that have come out recently that your kid is probably watching, specifically toy ads. Do you really want you little girl to think that all she can play with are dolls and fairy princesses? Do you want your little boy to think that trucks and tools are the only things he should like? There have been quite a few backlashes to the female side of this, see goldieblox and this interview with Rachel Giordano. However, I have seen a startling lack of backlash in the boys department. Yes, products for girls tend to be sexist in an overt way, but products for boys are too. They may have much more variety in the types of toys, but they still send a message that is not entirely positive. I’m not saying that the focus should move towards backlash for young boys; I’m saying that the backlash should be for children in general.

So, I have been given control of all the advertising and what do I do? First, I don’t allow stores to separate toys by gender. Put all the Disney toys together, I say! Second, I would start a new trend in commercials where no matter if the toy is a ‘boy toy’ or a ‘girl toy’, it shows both boys and girls playing with it and enjoying it. Girls can enjoy laser shooting, color changing, bad guy fighting toys as much as boys; and boys can like sparkly, outfit changing, soft and cuddly toys as much as girls. Lastly, I would encourage toy companies to educate parents and their children about advertising. “Raise your kids as cynics,” says this New York Times article. Parents are starting to respond to transparency in companies, and if we can change the way parents think about their kids/gender maybe we can raise an awesome new generation!

The Day My Whole Life Changed Part 5

logoPart 1, 2, 3, 4

Chapter 2

‘The detainee has escaped’

‘Which one?’ I glance at my desk and see the file pop up. This insurgent is one of our more mysterious ones.

‘Crap.’

I quickly glance at the Sigma. I know the AIG doesn’t approve of such foul language, but sometimes it’s necessary. And I have to hand it to the instigators; they have a knack for coming up with curse words.

‘Is this photo from the most recent incarceration?’

‘Affirmative.’

That made 7 photos in all. 7 different faces all associated with this one name, George. Was this most recent photo the true face? There is no way to be sure. A true face might not even exist. I can feel the nearly daily headache starting. I swipe through the file to see what information we have, mostly just victims, like all the others.

I turn to the Sigma, ‘how?’

Instantly the video feed flashes on my desk. I see the instigator creep out of the cell, and somehow all the way to the exit shaft that was used last time. Then the view switches to an aerial view of the syntho-grid. The movement in the tall grasses shows someone running north away from the facility.

‘And you swept the area and found nothing?’

‘Affirmative’

I clear the image from my desk and sigh. I glance at the Sigma.

‘Report.’

‘The instigator identified as GEORGE was captured and detained at our facility in poor condition. The server deduced that the probability of GEORGE dying was dangerously high. So, GEORGE was mildly healed until the probability of death fell to a normal level. Then we transferred GEORGE to another room that was illusioned to look identical to the first. This room had fewer security measures, and thus less interference in the Sigma’s reading. The Sigma went in, and stayed there for an hour. It is in that time that the instigator escaped.’

‘How?’

‘It would seem that there was a glitch in the server. It received an all is as it should be pingback for the full hour. By the time the system rebooted and noticed the error the instigator was gone.’

‘What is the probability of such an error occurring?’

‘1 in 13,422.’

‘So not impossible. This George obviously has tactical skills. What happened next?’

“The instigator GEORGE made it to the outside access shaft and climbed through. Then upon reaching the syntho-grid, there was another glitch that allowed a clear path to freedom and GEORGE took it.’

‘And what is the probability of both of those glitches happening to aid in George’s escape?’

The sigma takes a second to calculate. It must be a very small probability.

‘1 in 1,000,772,585,200,006.’

‘So either our instigator is supremely lucky, or….’

I trail off. What else could it possibly be? To my knowledge there is no technology that could allow a human to pull of these types of feats. I head throbs as I pull up a blank document on my desk and start writing down my thoughts.

‘Thank you, Sigma. That will be all for today. Please go and report to your next designated authority.’

How are they doing this? This isn’t the first insurgent we’ve had with this kind of ‘luck’, but I have never seen anything on this scale. What is going on?!

A Call to End Nerd Girl Shaming

A lot of people have written about what it feels like to be a girl nerd. It can be very hard sometimes, and I happen to attract a lot of negativity because of my appearance. This is me:

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I clean up pretty good, right? I have been on both ends of the spectrum that this ↓ comic cleverly outlines, and neither side is fun.

However, I have also been fortunate enough to experience the middle ground, the ground where I am treated as an equal and not an item to be worshiped or mocked. As my previous post has shown, I enjoy the Warhammer 40K universe, and I was lucky enough to learn about it from a group of gamers who were patient and understanding. They knew that I was new to the nerd community and treated me like they treat all newbies. I was not afraid to learn as many girls are because I didn’t have to deal with the snide comments or the rolling of the eyes. I knew that I could ask stupid questions and only get good-naturedly mocked before being taught.

In order to become a proofreader for Fantasy Flight Games, I had to take a test to prove I was familiar with the Warhammer 40K universe. Needless to say, I was not. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I Googled it. I figured there couldn’t be that complicated (spoiler: it is). Luckily, the test questions were simple enough to answer and I got the job. I was also so blessed to be working with a friend of mine who lived and breathed Warhammer. He was editing a series of books in the DeathWatch line and that’s where I really started to learn and love 40K. I met with him when he gave me my first chapter to go over the edits and proofreads that I made. I asked him a whole slew of dumb questions about the game and the universe which led to a very interesting and enlighten discussion about how awesome 40K is. He never made me feel like an idiot for not knowing, and that helped me get through the newbie phase and into the obsessed with the universe phase. Now, I am nowhere near an expert, but I can hold my own.

Unfortunately that is not the case for a lot of other girls. Girls who try and learn about new nerd things are often greeted with scorn and rude behavior.  So, let’s all make a pact today, nerds of every gender. Raise your right hand and repeat after me, “I solemnly swear to uphold the sacred oath I am about to take. I acknowledge that nerd girls are people too. I will treat them no differently than any other nerd. They are not ‘nerd girls’, they are just nerds.”

All About Cheese

So, unfortunately, I am sick today. Thus I’m going to be writing a short post so I can go back to bed and get better. You know what’s great, cheese. Cheese is a magical substance that can transform almost anything into awesomeness. So, here are my favorite recipes concerning or featuring cheese because who doesn’t love cheese. (Click on the photos for the recipe)

Baked Fontina Cheese:

Caramelized Onion, Gruyere, and Bacon Spread:

Creamy Caprese Pasta:

Mac and Cheese:

Bacon Cheese Bites:

The Slow Dance Grilled Cheese Sandwich:

Wedding Tips and Tricks: Venue and Wedding Party

I have never personally planned a wedding, but ever since the beginning of college I have been fascinated by them. I am going to preface this blog post by reminding everyone that these are just my opinions, and a wedding is your big day; make it as personal as you want. So, that said, here are some ways to make your wedding spectacular, and some common mistake to try and avoid. (Part 1: Dress and Theme here.)

The Venue:

This, in my opinion, is the one part of the wedding that couples should splurge on. A great venue can make all the other parts of the wedding easier simply because most great venues have tools in place to make weddings seamless.

My tips for the venue:

Do lots and lots of research. Having a couple venue options will allow you to relax a little bit if one of them is unavailable. Also, doing research into typical pricing in your area for the size of the party you are having can help you get the best deal. Researching your area can also help you find a surprising and unique place that you may not have thought of.

Don’t reserve the venue the first time you visit or even the second time. Visiting the venue at different times of the day/year ensures that the atmosphere is really what you want.

Do ask a lot of questions, even if they seem dumb. Does the venue allow outside food? Who is responsible of set up/ tear down? Do you offer any additional services, e.g. flowers, decorations, even a fill fledged wedding planner? What is the maximum capacity? What does the price include (preferably itemized out)? What is the parking situation like? What is the time limit, and what happens if we go over? If it is an outdoor venue, what is the backup plan in case of less than ideal weather? Asking every question you can possibly think of, and some you haven’t yet ensures that you know exactly what you are getting out of your venue.

Do pick a place that fits your theme or is special to you and your partner or both. This is a party celebrating you guys so make sure you have it somewhere that makes you happy. Hopefully, you will be able to afford your dream venue, and even if you can’t you can make your venue a dream with the right team.

Do decide if you’re going to need more than one venue before starting the hunt. It’s possible that you may want a different venue for the ceremony than the reception. If you are doing this, make sure you come up with a plan to get guests from one place to the other. Using just one venue is a generally more cost effective option, but it adds a layer of complexity because the space needs to be changed between the two events. Two venues can be a challenge, but can also provide couples with a necessary gap between the ceremony and reception.

The Wedding Party:

For some, the wedding party is the simplest and easiest part of the wedding, but for others it can be a struggle. Different personal styles, too many candidates, and difficult to please personalities can give even the most relaxed couple an anxiety attack. The number one piece of advice that I want you to give is that you need to remind your wedding party that it is your wedding, not theirs.

My tips for the wedding party:

Do ask the party members at around the same time. This makes it easier on both the couple and the members of the wedding party because it streamlines the process. It also means that you can celebrate with them all at once.

Don’t try to have everyone you know in the wedding party. If you have so many friends that your wedding party could easily be 8 or 9 pairs, maybe consider only having family in it. Or if you want, only have friends you’ve known since childhood. There are other roles that your friends can play like readers and ushers. If someone is unhappy with your decision just gently remind them that this is your wedding and although you dearly want them to come, they don’t have to.
Do take their ideas and tastes into consideration. Try your best to please everyone, but always remember that you probably will not be able to. These people are hopefully your friends and family, you don’t want to alienate anyone. Also, your wedding party can be a treasure trove of ideas if you get stuck.

Do rely on your wedding party. They are there to make your life easier. So, let them. You should allow them to take over on the day of the wedding so that you don’t have to do anything. If they are thrifty or good at DIYs let them help with the center pieces and decorations. The people in your wedding party love you, and want to make your day awesome. Just always remember that.

Don’t forget to thank them. Write them a heartfelt letter; get them a gift; or even just a hug and thank you. These people love you and have probably been there for you through the crazy process of planning a wedding. They were there when you melted down about the venue or had doubts about your flowers. They deserve to be thanked in the most wonderful way.

YouTube Advertising Strategy

YouTube is definitely the future of advertising, as many people have commented.  It is an interesting platform that has millions of potential customers, and most companies are using it completely wrong. The people who are advertising on YouTube at the moment are not thinking about the platform enough. Most companies just take their TV spot and make it their YouTube ad. This can work if the commercial is posted on the company’s page and gets views that way, but as an ad before videos, it will never work. Here’s why:

YouTube videos are generally short, and watching a 30 to 60 second ad before them is just not going to happen if the video is only 90 seconds. Also, the ability to skip the ad after 5 seconds means not, as many believe, that you need to be engaging in those first second to ensure the continued viewership; it means that’s the ad needs to be 5 seconds long. Millenials will more likely than not skip the ad even if it is interesting. That’s just what we have grown accustomed to.

My proposed solution is simple, make a 5 second ad. This may seem daunting and challenging to a lot of people, but as a millennial I would be impressed with a company that made an ad before a video that just said, “We at XYZ Co. support this video and think it’s really great.” The nature of marketing is changing in a very interesting and counterintuitive way. On the one hand, long form commercials that tell in-depth stories can become viral and get a lot of attention for companies. But on the other hand, millenials don’t want their content interrupted and have gotten very adept at filtering out the noise of the internet. I think that this has created some confusion in how most companies advertise, since they aren’t sure which route to take. Unfortunately, a lot of times this just leads them to fail somewhere in the middle. Instead they show focus on making one of the extremes, great. A 5 second add, supporting a YouTube personality can go a long way in the minds of millenials, much further than an awesome 30 second spot that they skip.

My solution can also be very effective when trying to brand a company because you can show consumers what kinds of things you support. For example, let’s say I am a branding manager for a line of skincare aimed at teens, and I want to show consumers that our line wants to empower girls and promote a healthy body image. One of my strategies would be to find videos on YouTube that promote healthy body images and empower young girls and support them. All I would have to do is film a couple second spot saying, “Our brand thinks that girls are beautiful and cool no matter what. Just like this video.” Not only will this reach the target audience, but it will also reach parents that want to empower their daughters. This, coupled with releasing YouTube videos of our own, and supporting charities and other organizations that empower girls is all you need to brand the product. Obviously, this is a very simplistic example and there are a lot more things that go into advertising, but I think that more companies should understand that YouTube is its own media type and cannot be lumped in with other video types.