Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Why I buy my business cards and why it’s important

In The Writing Life on July 30, 2011 at 2:21 am

I received a couple of fun things in the mail today. I’m happy, because I ordered a batch of business cards from Moo, and they arrived this afternoon (even though the expected arrival date was August 8). I also received a surprise gift card from T-Mobile, which means I will probably buy a car charger either tomorrow or when I come back from New Hampshire. (The quality of my pics isn’t great, because I’m still learning the ins and outs of taking good pictures on my phone.)

I pay for my business cards, and I’m happy to do it. I know that Vistaprint offers free business cards. I could get 250 free cards instead of paying around $15 for 100. Vistaprint offers all sorts of templates and colored inks and features. However, the impression I’ve gotten from the cards of many of the creative types I know who have used Vistaprint is that the bells and whistles Vistaprint offers make for cluttered, unprofessional cards. I worked for a company that used Vistaprint, and the company-offered cards were on cheap paper with a fuzzy logo. Vistaprint’s free cards also have the Vistaprint web address on the back; the free advertising on the company’s part is what really pays for the business cards. There are also a lot of extras and services that are a good idea to take advantage of but once added up could bring the tally for the 250 cards up past $20 (like card editing, better quality paper, carrying a front design to the back of the card).

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the importance of having access to free business cards. It’s a great idea for college students, people who are just starting businesses, and people who don’t think they can afford to order cards to take advantage of the service. But, I’ve had some great reactions to my Moo cards over the years. They always come out simple yet elegant.

I like Moo because they offer mini cards, which are half the size of standard cards. This has proven to be memorable. I also like that they offer back-of-card designs by independent artists. If I have a book published, I will be able to upload my own pictures (or if I have designs commissioned by an artist friend), but for now I have been very pleased with the results from using their offered designs. Even better, anyone who orders can mix and match designs from different artists in their gallery.

When I network, I want to be remembered in a certain way. I’m building a brand. Everyone who has received my card has given me positive feedback, because these cards are fun and fashionable. They reflect my personality. And, they’re printed on high quality, glossy paper. I see the $15 as an investment, and I’m happy that it goes towards supporting a growing business in an iffy world economy. Even better, I always feel like the company is looking out for me when I order from them. They have always exceeded my expectations when it comes to quality and the speed with which I receive my order. That means a lot when so much of business (especially online business) has become impersonal.


Leaving paradise

In The Writing Life on July 29, 2011 at 3:39 am

No, that isn’t a canal. It’s the street a block away from where I work after our daily thunderstorm. When I took the picture, I almost expected to see ducks floating by.

Also, this is a pretty standard sight in the New Orleans metro area, where there are parts of New Orleans proper that flood even worse during smaller storms. What a surprise I would be willing to leave a paradise like this for a week.

I love it here, but it will be nice to enjoy a real vacation.

Tonight, I’m pretending to pack for my trip. In reality, I’m watching Luther and reading The Magicians.

The joy of living local

In Awesomeness, New Orleans on July 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm

One of the things I love about New Orleans is how easy it is to buy local (to differing extents). I volunteer and buy produce at a local farmer’s market and buying club, which buys produce, dairy products, and meat from producers within a radius of a few hundred miles. They keep track of all of their buys, which means I know when my peaches come from Alabama and when my rice comes from Louisiana. When I buy from them, I know my money is going towards supporting people I know and have worked with in the market.

This morning, I bought supplies to bake cookies from a locally owned supermarket. The chocolate chips are Hershey’s and the butter is from Virginia, but the people who own the market itself are from here.

After my shopping excursion, I bought an iced cafe mocha from the locally owned fair trade coffee shop next door to the market. They coffee isn’t local, but I like knowing that my money is going to support the girl with the candy red hair who works there. The coffee shop also hangs art from local artists on the walls, sells books by local authors, and has a number of community gatherings throughout the week.

I’m pretty poor, all things considered. But, it makes me happy knowing that, instead of giving money to huge corporations intent on supporting their bottom line at the expense of their customers and employees, I’m doing my part to support businesses who are, in turn, trying to support New Orleans and make it, and in some sense the world, a better place.

With the knowledge that Washington has (probably long ago) lost sight of helping and supporting normal, every day Americans, I’m glad that I can make some sort of positive impact on the world around me.

As our elected leaders squabble and show how out of touch they are with what we need, please join me in buying local and supporting local commerce. Support local libraries and educational institutions. Instead of looking to them to save us, consider doing your part to help out your neighbors and community members, because this is what it will take to get everyone through this bump in the road.

Unexpected summer vacation

In Awesomeness, Judaism on July 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I am very excited about this August. In about three weeks, I will be on an airplane to Boston, where I will get to spend time with a good friend (and old crush). Then, I will take a commuter train (FIRST TRAIN RIDE!!!!!) to New Hampshire, where I will spend a week at a Jewish learning and community building institute put on by the National Havurah Committee. Then, I will either grab a ride back or take the commuter train back to Boston, where I will spend another night and then fly back to New Orleans on August 8. I think it will be a lot like the summer camp I went to (Camp Anytown, a camp that teaches teenagers about diversity and leadership) in high school.

This is the first vacationy type trip I’ve taken in years; visiting my mother doesn’t count, because there’s a lot of stress involved in visiting my family or having them visit me here.

What’s even more exciting is that I got my acceptance for an institute fellowship in my inbox yesterday. I asked my rabbi for a loan to cover travel costs and some expenses, and tomorrow I’m buying my plane ticket! The institute theme is peace, so I’m hoping I can bring back some programming and inclusion ideas when I come home.

On Torchwood

In Movies on July 8, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Torchwood Swag

I went to a special screening of Torchwood last night. I figured I’d give my general impressions, since the rest of you folks (in the U.S.) will get to see it tonight. Hopefully, there won’t be any real spoilers.

Torchwood was full of explosions and some gore. There were familiar characters revolving around Gwen Cooper and Captain Jack looking heroic in his suspenders and duster.

I thought that I would like the first episode more. After spending last night and today pondering, I realized it didn’t work for me as well as the previous seasons because it was trying to press too much information in my brain in a short amount of time. There were the description and first reactions to Miracle Day. A slew of new characters were introduced. They took the time to explain what the possible repercussions of Miracle Day were. And, on top of that, they crammed in a storyline continuing the lives of the old characters that evolved into the explanation of how the new characters would get involved with them.

Because there was so much going on, the episode’s emotional impact was lost to me.

For a while, I convinced myself that my high expectations were to blame for my lukewarm reception to the episode. But really, the previous seasons that aired on the BBC were the cause. It also goes back to advice I often receive from my professors to narrow focus on papers and stories. When too many elements are introduced in a short space or time slot, it’s harder for the audience to see past the noise. Previous incarnations of the show worked, because it focused on one storyline an episode or, if it branched out, it stuck with characters who were already well established. The characters last night became extreme character caricatures, because it is easier to show a guy is REALLY, REALLY COMMITTED to his job by having him hobble through a hospital corridor leaning on his crutch while talking on a cell phone and batting away a doctor than it is to take the time to subtly bring in elements that would suggest this trait.

I’m really rooting for Torchwood. I hope future episodes of the Starz series begin to smooth out the storyline.