NASA Social: Day 2

It was another bright and early day for NASA Social, with our arrival at the rocket gardens at 9AM. The theme of the day was saying goodbye, having the last few moments to explore Kennedy Space Center and then spend some serious time with the shuttle. This time, however, we were joined by several thousand more people.

I could droll on and on about the logistics, but really it was a day spent with the shuttle. One great moment before we got to Exploration Park (where we could see the shuttle being moved) was a special appearance by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. He came aboard the NASA Social bus to say “Hello!” and answer a few questions. Read more

NASA Social: Day 1

It’s hard to come back at the end of the day and remember all of the awesomeness that was NASA Social. Even harder will be breaking it down to a blog post that not only makes sense, but has some value to you, the reader.

nasa-group

Warning: This WILL be full of geeking out and general nerdery.

At the start of the day, we introduced ourselves via Twitter handles, names, and an interesting fact. As last in the circle, my two stories had been told (the journey to Atlantis and the last shuttle launch). I declared that I am probably one of the luckiest people, and that I was so happy to be a part of a group of people as geeked about space, shuttles, and social media as I am. We quickly moved in towards the rocket garden for a group photo before we saw Kennedy Space Center, learned about NASA’s old and new programs, and had general nerd out sessions.

Read more

NASA Social Miracles

To say this weekend has been a doozy would definitely be an understatement. With Hurricane Sandy, I held little hope of being able to get out of NYC and to Orlando for my first NASA Social. My flight out of Laguardia was officially cancelled yesterday by 4:30PM, when they decided not to reopen it due to massive flooding. JetBlue eased the pain by writing a blog about the situation and sharing a few photos.

That looks like a place that no airplane wants to be. That being said, what’s a girl to do? No flights out of LGA, limited (and completely booked) flights out of JFK, and no busses out of the city to get to other airports in Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston, or Baltimore. Read more

International Networking & Hurricane Sandy

Last New Years Eve, I met a wonderful girl named Alexia Attwood. We were both staying in the same hostel in London, without friends, and decided we would venture out together. She told me she was a journalism student in Australia, on a pit stop before headed to the Carribean for an internship. I told her I was a recent graduate from Michigan State, on my last hurrah before moving to the Big Apple. We had a wonderful night, watching fireworks over the London Eye while standing on the Millenium Bridge.

Cue nine months later. Read more

A Trip to Krakow

In 5 weeks, I will be heading on an emotional journey to discover my family’s past in Krakow, Poland.

How did this happen? I entered the Hilton Garden Inn Life’s Ultimate To-Do List contest. And I won one of 10 grand prizes: a trip for two to any city around the world including airfare, two nights in the hotel, and spending money.

My first reaction thought was, “Wait. I’m pretty sure real people do not win these competitions. Companies just want to gain information to market to you.” My next thought was, “Oh my god, I’m going to Poland. I’M GOING TO POLAND.” I may have started crying and spinning around in my chair at work from excitement. This was two months ago. Read more

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An Interview with CNN Money

Early in August, I saw a retweet from Erie (head of Tech LadyMafia) of CNN Money Producer Erica Fink. Erica was looking for people who had used Airbnb to interview in the NYC area. I happened to have used Airbnb in June 2012 with my friend, Melissa, to stay in a lovely coast-side apartment in Connecticut. I decided to tweet her back.

This led to emailing back and forth and setting up a time to be filmed in my apartment. Her assistant producer, Spencer, ended up coming in to film after Erica was called away to film a Facebook story (how cool is that?).

After about 30 minutes of filming, including an interview and a lot of b-roll, I only ended up in the final cut for about 5 minutes. However, the overwhelming awesomeness of being on CNN’s website more than makes up for time usage.

It is a shame that they use a flash video player. Come on CNN, HTML5 video. It’s the way of the future.

Check it out on CNN Money’s website.

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Hack’n Jill

On Saturday, I participated in my second hackathon: Hack’n Jill. Hack’n Jill was created due to a gender imbalance often present at hackathons, inviting 50 men and 50 women developers and designers to join together and develop apps with the theme of Hack Your Summer.

My team was fortunate enough to have three developers and three designers. We designed Why Don’t We, a fully functioning iPhone app designed to highlight events nearby to cure summer boredom. Every member of the team was essential to creating and promoting a fully functioning product. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them and hopefully we will be able to collaborate in the future. Read more

Social Media Week

It’s Social Media Week in New York City, and I am quite excited to celebrate it with a ton of great events. Due to work, I haven’t been able to attend most of the daytime events. However, I have been able to go to a few of the evening events. A recap so far:

I entered to win VIP tickets to COMMON Pitch NYC in Brooklyn, with the notion of “who actually wins these things!?” Well this time, I won. Myself and 15 others were transported on a party bus from the Big Fuel Headquarters (at 23rd and 6th) to the Brooklyn Bowl on Wednesday evening. That’s not to say the ride was our entire prize. Oh no. It was so much more.

The trip began with a stop in Big Fuel, where several blogging and media stations were set up, an abundance of Heineken, popcorn, and Popchips were available, and some of the greatest people were working. I met Amelia of The Next Web and waited for the other winners to arrive. I was introduced two several of the sponsors, CEOs of various companies, and other fantastic individuals. Ming and Pino, the two Nokia sponsors, were introduced and on the bus ride as well. I met Ben Scheim, Director of Social Media Week and VP at Crowdcentric, who was our personal escort. Read more

Europe

In just 15 minutes, I’ll be hopping in the car to head to the airport for the adventure of a lifetime. I’m heading to Europe for 25 days, traveling by myself through Paris, London, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin.

I’ve dreamed of this trip since I was a child. I may be the most excited just to walk along the Seine and sit at a cafe with a cup of coffee. I hope to find a little more about myself and what I can handle. It’s time to push the limits and try new things.

Follow along my European adventure on my travel blog. I’ll be sure to post photos of the cities and the stories of people I meet.

UPDATE

I’ve finally uploaded all of my photos. Phew! You can check them out on Google+ or on Facebook (Paris, London & Oxford, Vienna & Prague). Sadly, my camera died early in Prague and I didn’t have the chance to capture many photos there or any in Berlin. Alas, the memories will have to do it justice along with the blog.

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Defining Digital Rhetoric

What is digital rhetoric?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are so many facets to explore, all coming back to the choices made by the author for their audience.

This piece was created with non-expert, digital natives in mind. I used a program called Spicy Nodes, which allows me to create granular pieces that are all a part of digital rhetoric. Take yourself on a self-guided journey through the ideas of digital rhetoric. Navigate to any node to learn more about a specific part of my definition. Each node will lead you to smaller sub-sections, all adding to an overall understanding. Read more

Verb Manufacturers

According to Michael Lazerow, founder & CEO of Buddy Media, those of us involved in social media are all manufacturers of verbs.

Remember back in the early days of Facebook, before brands were involved or even those outside of school, all status updates involved the verb “to be.” A status update was formatted as “Alexandra is…” and it was up to us to fill in the blank. Now, status updates (soon to be known as Timeline updates) are in first person using whatever action you feel like. It’s not always a statement of feeling or action; it can be announcements, pontifications, or other utterances. Our updates have evolved. Read more

Who Owns Creativity Pt 2

Yesterday, I started my series about “owning” creative works. Today will be a much shorter complimentary entry that will help explain your rights when it comes to copyright as well as some basic best practices.

Rights & Responsibilities

In the US we’re given certain affordances. For example, when we create works of art expressly for ourselves, on our own time… we own the copyright. This is essential in the digital age, when many artists are posting their material online without going to register their copyright at the U.S. Copyright office. If we want to use others’ copyrighted materials, we are responsible for asking the artist for permission. The only way to navigate against asking for permission is when a work is used under the guidelines of Fair Use.

Ok, so what is fair use?

Ah yes, the age old question. Fair use is the use of copyrighted material without express permission from the copyright owner for a limited/”transformative” purpose. Standford University breaks down fair use of copyrighted materials into two categories: 1) Commentary/Criticism or 2) parody. Why are these two items allowed? Read more

PW’s Trip to Founders Brewing Company

This post was originally featured on beerrhetorics.com

East Lansing Beer Rhetoricians may recognize me, but just in case: Oh hey there. My name is Alexandra (some call me Ali), and I am the Beer Rhetorics Evangelist. What does that mean exactly? Evangelists (according to the third definition on Merriam-Webster) are enthusiastic advocates for a brand/product/etc. Beer Rhetorics Evangelism is all about talking to people and spreading the love for our weekly meetups, beer, and rhetoric. I’m happy to be the first person in this position.

As a part of evangelism, I am responsible to reaching out to different venues and subsets of people. After multiple discussions over the summer, it was clear we were hankering for something more than what was being done. We wanted to take Beer Rhetorics on the road. Conveniently, an alumni of the Professional Writing program at MSU, Sarah Aldrich, happens to work as the Marketing Coordinator at one of our favorite Michiagn breweries: Founders Brewing Company, located in Grand Rapids. Thursday nights often feature a Red’s Rye PA or the classic Porter. We got to enjoy the beer in the brewery (rated 2nd in the world for 2011 by RateBeer.com) where it all happens.

Dave Engbers, A founder of Founders

We arrived at Founders on a crisp, Friday afternoon. After enjoying an early beer in the tap room, we were met by Sarah Aldrich… and none other than a founder of Founders (say that five times fast), Dave Engbers. Dave greeted us and proceeded to take us back to where all of the magic happens.

Founders Brewing Company was established by Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens in 1997, after they graduated from Hope College. They both loved brewing and had been home brewing for a number of years. When they started Founders, they were brewing “regular beers.” “We were just like every other craft brewery in Michigan,” said Dave. He recognized they weren’t necessarily doing anything super special, just brewing because they loved it. The market share was small and their backers didn’t feel like there was a lot of success. Realizing they were about to hit bankruptcy, Dave and Mike decided to go big… or go home. They brewed the first batch of Dirty Bastard… and their board thought it was their “goodbye” brew.

Alas, that would not be it for the tale of Founders. Dirty Bastard, a strong scotch ale, became an instant hit. People clamored for it loudly, and the signs were clear: Founders Brewing was back in business.

Dave continued to take us through the history of Founders, including the development of beers that are “complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor.” They regularly have the Dirty Bastard on tap along with the Centennial IPA, the Porter, and the Red’s Rye PA. They also have exciting seasonal beers, such as their famous Breakfast Stout (which smells of coffee and chocolate), Double Trouble, Cerise, and so many more. The tap room regularly features beers that aren’t bottled for the public and are being tested to their local fans.

Dave showed us the bottling center of their brewery, as well as the bourbon barrels that were aging Canadian Breakfast Stout. It was great to get an insight on how the process worked, as well as meet the people who were working behind the scenes.

When Dave finished showing us the brewery, we got a tour of the offices by Sarah Aldrich. We saw where all of the big hitting decisions were made. All of this was, of course, followed by a long visit to the tap room, where we enjoyed a variety of different beers. The tap room was full of people (particularly bustling because it was, after all, happy hour). It was clearly a friendly place, where loyal visitors knew the bartenders’ names and sat comfortably side by side. The patio was open air, perfect for a September day. We instantly felt comfortable, as if we had been going to the Brewery every Friday afternoon for years. After all, Beer Rhetorics is not just about the history and passion for beer; it’s about making connections and communicating with one another. We learned a lot about brewing, the struggles of being a business, and the excitement of creative marketing that comes with such forward flavors. Even better: we spent time with each other, enriching our Beer Rhetorics community, beyond the walls of East Lansing’s usual hot spot.

I think I speak for the entire group when I say, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a Friday afternoon. Oh, and we have the pictures to prove it. Hopefully, more field trips will be happening in the future to other local breweries. We encourage all of our offshoots to find places near them that are crafting beer for little excursions. We promise, it will be worth it.

Who Owns Creativity

We are in the middle of something of a war here — what some call “the copyright wars.”

-Laurence Lessig, “In Defense of Piracy”

Let me start off by saying: intellectual property is indeed something that needs to be protected. I understand and am thankful as an artist for Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution. Without such a law, there would be several consequences, including the difficulty of being able to profit from your own work and an inability to claim something definitively as “yours” for future use. Furthermore, it would eliminate  a sense of ownership and pride in creation, while creating a possible fear of sharing work. I am thankful that I can call my work my own and benefit from it.

Although there are a variety of types of intellectual property, this series will focus strictly on copyright. Copyright protects tangible works of individuals/groups/companies such as books, music, video games, software, and movies. The copyright allows the author(s) to distribute and profit from their work. Read more

Bonjour Europe

It’s booked. I’m officially going to Europe (for 25 days) as a graduation present to myself.

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamed of walking along the Seine, standing in the middle of The Globe, and being fully enveloped into European culture. Granted, I’ve never been to Europe. My vision is a compilation of movies, tv shows, photos, and books. However, I’ve always known that it would somehow make me a happier person. In addition, I’m a complete history geek. Nothing sounds better than being in places where people have traveled for hundreds of years.

Question: How are you financing your trip abroad?

I’ve been working an hourly, non-babysitting position since I was 15 years old. I’ve been relatively responsible with that moneyin order to help pay off my soon-to-come college debt. I made it my goal to graduate with a certain dollar value in the bank to be my cushion if I am without a job for any period of time. With my internship this past summer, I’ve been able to exceed that amount, by almost 150%. In addition, it will be my last time when I’m really not tied down to anything. I’ve decided to take this opportunity to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing. Read more

RIP Steve Jobs

It would be impossible and quite frankly irresponsible of me not to talk about the death of Apple’s co-founder (and until recently, CEO), Steve Jobs. I found out about this at exactly 7:40PM tonight, Wednesday, October 5, 2011 via TIME Magazine’s twitter.

This blog entry will be divided into two parts: the devastating information received and the way it was received.
steve_applehomepage

The Death of Steve Jobs

The History: Steve Jobs has had a long battle with his health. In 2004, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Although this tumor was subsequently removed, he continued to become thin and frail, even without a reccurence of the cancer. In April 2009, he had a liver transplant, causing him to take a medical leave of absence. He returned in the end of 2009, but he left again on medical leave in January of 2011. He maintained his position as CEO with Tim Cook running day-to-day operations. His final resignation came on August 24, 2011, as he could “no longer meet [his] duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO”. Read more

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Once Upon a Splash Page

I’ve been building this portfolio since January 2011, but I’ve been thinking about it for a very long time. As soon as I entered professional writing, I was told of the requirements. We all must graduate with a web site that will say who we are and make us marketable for jobs. I knew I wanted to build something on my own, not to use someone else’s template. I know that this was limiting at first, having little experience with HTML prior to sophomore year of college. Through web authoring courses and my own personal time dedication, I’ve really come to make this my own.

It’s gone through a lot of changes since I initially came up with my design. For a long time, I was interested in a splash page with either clouds or some other form of interesting navigation. I built it several different times, modifying it slightly in order to serve a better purpose. The final splash page included javascript animations, to which I am very proud.

In the end, it wasn’t saying what I needed it to say. As “cool” as I thought it was to have a splash page, there was no sense of my interests or what I do. I had to take it off the main site.

I couldn’t bare to remove it completely, after all of the work I had put into it. Feel free to check it out here in the most recently updated format.

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MSU Bucket List Update

I’ve crowdsourced through Twitter and Beer Rhetorics to find some necessary items to add to my list. My updated list is below. In the meanwhile, please tweet me if you have more suggestions!

  • Paint the rock
  • Visit the 4H Garden and dance on the chimes
  • Walk through the Botanical Gardens
  • Visit Holden’s Cafeteria (completing my tour of the dining halls)
  • See a show at the Williamston Theater
  • Revisit my freshman dorm
  • Go to all of the events offered by UAB
  • Try an obscure dairy store flavor
  • Get something from the student organic farm
  • See a(nother) concert/play at the Wharton Center
  • Visit the MSU Museums
  • Canoe on the Red Cedar
  • Take a Picture with Sparty
  • See a show at the Planetarium
  • Go inside Beaumont Tower
  • … and more

MSU Bucket List

In just 67 days, I’ll be walking across the stage at the Breslin Center and receive my diploma from Michigan State University. Woah. The end is near, and I can’t believe it. With that, I want to make sure I take advantage of everything I can prior to leaving East Lansing. I may return as an alumni, but it will never be the same as when I was actively participating in classes and student life. I’ve decided to make a bucket list in order to achieve my goals before graduation.

  • Paint the rock
  • Visit the 4H Garden and dance on the chimes
  • Walk through the Botanical Gardens
  • Visit Holden’s Cafeteria (completing my tour of the dining halls)
  • See a show at the Williamston Theater
  • Revisit my freshman dorm
  • Go to all of the events offered by UAB
  • Try an obscure dairy store flavor
  • Get something from the student organic farm
  • See a(nother) concert/play at the Wharton Center
  • … and more

Do you have more ideas for me? Tweet me with items to add to my bucket list.

CSS Fixes

For the past two weeks, my website has had a severe design malfunction. The navigation on the front page was awkwardly off center. I spent days trying to fix it, adjusting the names of the divs and re-styling them in order to try and make it cooperate. I knew it would be something simple that I just couldn’t see to fix. Upon one more look this afternoon, I figured out it was because I was missing a letter. The width was set as “width=1000x” and upon first glace, you may not see anything wrong. It should say: “width=1000px”

That silly mistake caused  a lot of mental strain, if only because of my frustration in not being able to fix it.

Lesson learned: always, always, always double check even the littlest details. A missing semi-colon or letter can completely alter the work that you’ve put into your creation. Now, I won’t feel embarrassed sending my portfolio off to potential employers across the world. Furthermore, I can continue to focus on cultivating my portfolio pieces and worry less about the site design. The stress level may be high, but at least that piece is fixed.

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Life Catch Up

I’ve been in a bit of radio silence since Residence Life training started and with the start of my (final) semester. I have just 93 days until graduation, and I can hardly believe it. I still have a lot of things I need to accomplish before graduation, including passing my classes (and staying on the track of graduating with honors), applying to jobs, going to the Botanical Gardens, and hitting all of the essential East Lansing places.

Life is hectic and crazy with seven jobs. Yes, that’s right. Seven. Technically seven are “jobs” and two are e-board positions, but it all adds up. Basically, I’m ridiculously busy. Here’s a screenshot of a week from Google Calender for some perspective.

My September Calendar

My September Calendar

Read more

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Campus Services | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

When you live on campus, you have a variety of services that offered to you for help and fun. Many of these services are free! (Or, as my father would say, “included in tuition”)

Feeling sick? Olin Health Center is located on the most northern part of campus, right on East Circle Drive. You can take the 33, 31, or the 1 bus in order to get there. In addition, if you’re extremely ill, they do have courtesy shuttles that take students back and forth. You get 6 free visits a year, and they have a pharmacy right inside to take care of any prescriptions. Honestly, it gets a bad rep. People tell you to steer clear. The one experience I’ve had, I had been losing feeling in my left hand. Turns out I had carpal tunnel syndrome. From setting up my appointment through the pharmacy, it was a highly professional environment. In addition, Olin has a satellite in Hubbard Hall and the Brody Complex.

Feeling blue? The Counseling Center is another fantastic resource. With 8 free visits a semester (and a small fee for extended counseling) and a versatile staff, there is a counselor for anyone. They do take walk-ins, and you can also schedule appointments in advance. This is a resource that I’ve taken advantage of as well. At the end of my sophomore year, I was feeling anxious. It felt difficult to reach out to friends, and I started having panic attacks. Read more

The Importance of a Good Adviser | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

For the past few weeks, I had been going through a life crisis revolving around graduation:
When should I graduate? How will I get a job? What if I DON’T get a job? Can I afford to move back home (mentally)? Can I afford to stay in East Lansing (financially)? I’ve never been to Europe, and it seems like I’ll never have the time again, would it be irresponsible just to go? I’ve been crazy this summer working a billion jobs, can I keep that going?

All of those questions and more had been swirling in my mind for weeks, when I decided: I need to see my adviser(s).

I’m lucky. In my department, I not only have a top notch adviser, Danielle DeVoss (who, anyone will tell you, they leave their office with “stars in [their] eyes”), but I also consider her my friend. Furthermore, I also have a great relationship with the head of PW, Laura Julier. I know that if I need life advice, they’re both more than willing to help.

Laura Julier

The total of three hours I spent in their respective offices last week (2 and a half of which, were after 5PM) were the most enlightening and helpful hours I’ve had. I had my feelings justified and left with to-do lists of how I was going to accomplish all of my goals. Although I had spoken of my life-fears to friends, they could only do so much to help me.

Finding a good adviser is not only essential to your college career, but can completely change the decisions you make. When I was a theater major, I never quite developed a rapport with my advisers. Perhaps it was because my focus changed from acting to theater, and then I decided to get a BA not a BFA, which puts you at an adviser disadvantage. Because of all of that, I was off-track and un-happy. Read more

Candice Ransom

In October of 2010, I was charged to write a paper about my literacy for Writing Center Theory. I thought back to the first books I could remember reading, and my memories distinctly went to the book, “Who Needs Third Grade” by Candice Ransom. My first copy was falling apart from the amount of times I read it, bringing it to the dinner table and to the playground. I was completely set on becoming just like the main character’s archnemesis, Delight.

I know what you’re thinking. Archnemesis? What little girl wants that? I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but they end up best friends in the end.

I did a little internet investigating to see if I could find a way to contact her. I was pleasantly surprised to see she had a pretty active (and relatively well designed) website, including an email address to send fan letters. How could I resist?

I didn’t know if she would ever get it, or even if she did, if she’d ever respond. Imagine my surprise when I checked my email the next day, and a reply with my subject line was sitting in my inbox. Read more

Lansing Series Finale | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

So far, you’ve gotten to read about shopping, music, free entertainment, and more. What’s left? I a series of 9 blog posts, there is no possible way I could cover all Lansing has to offer. However, before I move on to another series of posts (including a countdown to move in), I figured I’d wrap it up with some final words of wisdom.

If you have a car (or a friend with a car) take a trip down the road to Uncle John’s Cider Mill. There are a variety of activities for all ages, including hay rides in the fall, a corn maze, delicious apple cider and donuts, and even a winery. It’s a great place to buy local produce and sweet treats, as well as spend a fall afternoon just exploring.

Stop by the Michigan Historical Museum for a lesson about the development of Michigan, from prehistoric times to the 21st century. It’s located right in downtown Lansing, on Kalamazoo St.

The Grand Fish offers a variety of boat rentals, offering residents the chance to Kayak down the famous Red Cedar. They also provide music in Old Town Lansing, with local artists without amplifiers.

Speaking of which, Old Town is possibly the most exciting and eclectic area in all of Lansing. It’s home to Golden Harvest (remember? Make breakfast plans), art galleries, dining, several festivals, and so much more. There are historical walking tours offered to take advantage of. In a couple of weeks, the Renegade Theatre Festival will be taking place, with free theater with a variety of performances. Learn about the rich history of Lansing, and take in the beautiful architecture.

Lansing is also home to several non-profits. Get involved, make a difference, and have a ton of fun. In March, there is an event called Lansing Give Camp where over 100 volunteers come together to help bring 10-15 non-profits to the digital age. I attended last year and helped re-vamp the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council website, along with their social media. It was the most fun weekend I had in the Spring, making a difference by doing something I loved. No matter what your passion is, there is a way to fulfill it in outreach in the community.

I was scared of Lansing when I moved here in 2008. Now, I’ll leave knowing only part of the wonderful opportunities offered. Venture out into the community and make the most of your experience at MSU. Take advantage of all of the opportunities you’re offered here. Trust me, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

Feel free to tweet me at@DesignLightning with any follow up questions or conversation!

Bearded Charity

beard

Me and My Beard

Today, I read an article on GOOD about a company who is giving back with the help of the interwebs. This project is called the Build a Beard Workshop.

What do bearded pictures have to do with charity? If you select one of their many options, add it to your face (via a photo editor, or a printed version) and submit it, then they will donate $1 to Kiva, a non-profit designed to help people in developing countries with micro-loans. There are even beards of well-known celebrities to choose from (Bob Ross, anyone?).

steps

It’s really that easy. So what are you waiting for? Beard up!

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Lansing for Free | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

My past seven entries have mostly featured things to do for some form of a fee. However, we can’t always afford to go out and do things that cost even a bus ride. Sometimes it’s nice to know that you won’t spend a penny to have fun.

Campus Center Cinemas feature movies every weekend, Thursday through Sunday. They generally run 3 or 4 films, all of which were released in the last 6 months (you can expect HPDH pt 2 in late November). All you need is a student ID for access, and it’s free for students who live on campus. Other students can come as well for the ticket price of $2. They also provide free popcorn at their main center in Wells Hall (which wasn’t open last year, but should be available this year). It’s a great way to catch up on those movies you meant to see on a big screen. Posters are put up at the beginning of each week that list all of the movie times, as well as other events going on that week.

Or, if you fancy a movie without leaving your room, rent one from the RHA movie offices. There is one in each neighborhood and they have everything from the Lord of the Rings trilogy to Amelie to The Sound of Music. All you need is your student ID.

The Botanical Gardens are located behind the library, and are a beautiful place to take a walk. Explore various fauna and flora, some of which is endangered. You can visit it right behind the library (take a study break!)

Get active. You can play volleyball at a sand court located by almost every dorm. Play ultimate frisbee in one of the fields. Go running on a track in one of the IM buildings, or take a run around campus. There are also outdoor soccer fields and basketball courts that you are free to use.

There is free bowling and pool once a week at the Union. For the 2010-2011 school year, this was featured on Thursday nights. Be sure to get there early, because everyone wants in on the fun!

If you want to help plan many of the events offered on campus, head to a University Activities Board meeting. They’re the ones who bring you free movies and free bowling. They also help plan several concerts that happen through the year and Sparty’s Spring Party.

Several dorms and locations have media lounges with big screen TVs and game systems (Sparty’s in Holmes or the Pillar Room in SnyPhy). Friends can lounge on the couches and play video games or watch TV. There is a rumor that they’ll be building a lounge in Linton Hall for College of Arts & Letters students, so be sure to listen up to any upcoming news.

Every semester, MSU takes part in Humans v Zombies, a two week long event where students fight for survival. Hundreds of students participate (as noted by their bandanas and nerf guns) and it’s completely free to sign up. Think of it as a giant game of moderated tag. A Facebook event is created closer to the date, but in the meanwhile, check out the main website. Several of my friends have played and love it.

Later this week, I’ll have my final series post about Lansing entertainment. Feel free to tweet me at@DesignLightning with any follow up questions or conversation!

Lansing Shopping | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

Two posts ago, I spoke of things to do in Downtown East Lansing, in which I featured several shopping option. Well, those aren’t your only options. There are lots of places in the greater Lansing area for all of your needs.

If you’re into malls, there are two I recommend checking out: The Meridian Mall is located at the end of Bus 1’s route towards Okemos. This mall is open 10-9 Monday through Saturday, and 12-6 on Sunday. Store sales are featured on their website, and they boast several department stores: Macy’s & JC Penny’s are your standard national chain, as well as as smaller midwest chain, Younker’s. Meridian Mall is also across the street from Target, Marshalls, and the makeup store Ulta. Finally, their is an AMC theater behind it for all of your movie desires. Read more

EL Dining | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

There are so many options for food in and around campus, it’s overwhelming. I couldn’t possibly mention all of them here (and look for a better restaurant review in a future blog post). However, I can note some of the local highlights:

Woody’s Oasis Bar & Grill: There are several Woody’s around campus (one in the International Center, one off of Trowbridge, and one on Grand River). The one on Grand River is by far the best, with an extensive menu and a good amount of seating. They have a good balance of Middle Eastern cuisine and Western food, for the internationally timid diners. It’s not exactly what you’d get if you were to go to a Middle Eastern country, but it’s pretty delicious regardless.

If you’re a fan of Sushi, there are probably 8 or 9 options. Do NOT go to Sushi Go. Trust me. Also, NEVER EVER EVER order delivery sushi. I know you were considering it. It’s ALWAYS a bad idea. If you’re looking for delicious sushi, check out Sushi Ya. It’s located next to Espresso Royale on Grand River (and they have some pretty awesome tempura rolls). At the end of your meal, your table is served tempura fried bananas that are to die for. If you have a little more money to spend, try Sansu in Hannah Plaza. It’s a little higher class with a larger selection and a slightly larger bill at the end, but it’s worth it. Take your parents. You can also head there on Tuesday with your Student ID for a discount.

If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, check out Sindhu’s in Hannah Plaza. They have a lunch buffet with a large amount of options, or they also have a large menu of choices. It’s hard to be disappointed at their authentic cuisine.

A lesser known restaurant is What Up Dawg?, a hot dog spot on M.A.C. They have beer for $2 and a variety of dogs and toppings. If you’re a Chicago hot dog fan, definitely check it out (and get the poppy seed bun. Mmm mm). They serve chilli and fries, too!

My favorite restaurant of all time happens to be located in Old Town, Lansing. The magical, the mythical: Golden Harvest. The food is so good, it’s almost impossible to go without a line of people waiting outside (whatever the weather looks like). They have new specials every day, open from 7am to 2pm. It’s the best breakfast you’ll ever have. Furthermore, the atmosphere is so fun. It’s a very small restaurant with tattooed cooks and loud blasting rock music. The wait (which may be 30 minutes or more) is 100% worth it. Technically, it’s not East Lansing. But it’s too wonderful not to mention now!

Are you looking to get some work done and enjoy a variety of tea options? Check out Wanderer’s Teahouse on Grand River. With several options for tea, unlimited refills of hot water or iced tea, and a selection of homemade crepes, sandwiches, and salads, it’s hard not to love this place. It gets pretty packed during the school year with students studying, but there’s always room for more. They also are often hosts to open mic nights for a fun evening activity!

Other places to put up your feet and enjoy delicious caffinated beverages include the original Biggby on Grand River (open 24 hours) or the Biggby in the Union, Espresso Royale, and Starbucks. Whatever coffee floats your boat, we have it. We also have several Sparty’s cafes around campus, which boast Combo X-Change (your future best friend).

For the 21+ crowd, there are numerous bars located in East Lansing. There are so many, I could hardly amass an appropriate list, so check out this website instead. Woody’s always has great drink specials and the Peanut Barrel is famous for their cheap & delicious Long Islands. They do, however, cap you off after two. Harper’s offers a selection of homemade beers, stouts and ales. Crunchy’s is known to have great pizza and karaoke on weekend nights; July is also Michigan Beer Month, where they’re featuring local craft brews.

Ok, so that’s great. But sometimes, we want to stay in and not worry about going out. Good news! Get delivery from some of your favorite restaurants, straight to your dorm or apartment! Check out Campusfood.com and register to collect points (which lead to coupons) every time you order.

Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @DesignLightning with any follow up questions or conversation!