Posts Tagged ‘advice’

My MBA application experience 

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , ,

A little over two months ago, I finally decided to buckle down and apply for grad school. Deadlines for Round 2 applications were the first and second week of January. I wasn’t sure if the time I’d allotted myself was going to be tight, but it was time to take this next step. Here’s how it’s gone for me… (want to skip right to my tips at the end?)

Choosing the schools

I knew that I wanted to apply to 5-6 programs, so I began looking at the top 25 ranked in the US. I considered applying to international programs as well, but ultimately decided not to because I intend to work for businesses in the states. While I would love international opportunities, my home base will always come back to the US, so going to a school domestically made more sense.

From the initial list, I came out with the programs I was most interested in: #1 Stanford GSB, #2 Harvard Business School, #3 UPenn Wharton, #4 Chicago Booth, #6 Northwestern Kellogg, #7 Berkeley Haas, #10 UVA Darden, #15 UCLA Anderson, #24 Georgetown McDonough, and #25 USC Marshall. Whew, that’s a lot! So I started narrowing down based on program structure, competitiveness, and personal appeal. That still left 8 options. I managed to eliminate Wharton and Booth because they felt more technical/finance-focused. To me, Wharton, Booth, and Kellogg were at very similar levels, so I decided to choose one of the three.

It was really hard for me to bring it down to the 6 max that I wanted to adhere to, so I kept going back and forth for awhile until I realized that I was really including Darden and McDonough for their proximity to Panda. But if you think about it, MBAs are so time-consuming that being nearby might not mean I have much time to see him anyway. So off they went and there was my final list: Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg, Haas, Anderson, and Marshall. I wanted to maintain a good spread across the rankings to give myself a very good chance of making it into at least one of the programs. #fingerscrossed

Preparing to apply

I’m fortunate enough to know some current and former MBA students at programs that I was planning on applying to. I reached out to many of them and got a chance to connect with three. After spending some time chatting with each of them, I got an understanding that I should really share my personal story. They also recommended reaching out to students or alumni of the other programs and try to do campus visits if possible.

I did manage to do some student meetups and a campus tour, but for the most part, I scoured their websites for details. Based on the courses they offer, the extracurriculars, and how they message their ideas, it gave me a sense of each of their brands. There are parts of each that I really appreciate and would love to be a part of. I definitely think it’s important to find programs that I’ll enjoy and will attract people I can connect with and learn from. Each has their own prestige, so that’s helpful too.

Thinking about essays

The very first thing I did application-wise was compile all of the essay questions and think about them all day long. Whenever an idea struck me, I wrote it down and I kept expanding my notes as I drafted and edited my essays. These were the most labor-intensive, with a lot of reflection and self-analysis. It took me awhile to finally find what I felt was a cohesive story that explained my motivations for where I’m going and how where I’ve been influenced that path.

On the surface, my jobs have been somewhat progressive, but not along a clear career path. However, digging deeper, I noticed that so many of the projects I took on stemmed from the same source. It turns out that the common thread between my roles was always the idea of empowering through resources. I really enjoy helping people and being resourceful, so I consolidated resources and built databases and processes because I believe that giving people the right tools, skills and knowledge empowers them to strive for more. No matter what, that has always driven me in my work.

As part of my research for applications, I dove into a variety of business books, online articles, and even TV shows. Each tied back to my thoughts on my essays. When I watched The Voice, I thought about expressing my true self and being genuine. When I read Uncontainable, I noted my own values and the key ways I intend to change the corporate landscape. Everything tied back to my philosophies on life and how that applied to my approach to business.

Choosing recommenders

I had always had one person in mind as a recommender, because he had worked with me pretty much since I started at my current company. He had a good sense of the many projects that I’ve done and we collaborated on quite a few. What I waffled on at first was whether to ask my direct supervisor or someone else. What if knowing that I was slowly on my way out affected the opportunities I received at work? What if that changed their perception of me? I thought about choosing someone else, but then I decided that I’d rather my manager know now instead of having to explain to him months down the line what I’d been up to. Plus, my office is a supportive environment where reaching for a goal like this is applauded.

I asked both gentlemen as soon as I made up my mind on them and my schools. Both happily agreed, and I put together a document of bullet points to share with them. I split my notes into two categories: Leadership & Initiative and Teamwork. I felt these were the key components of my experience and encapsulated many things I had done. One of my MBA friends had shared a “recommender tips” document that he had used, which I repurposed and shared with my recommenders. It basically summarized to this: the most effective recommendations are ones with concrete examples that paint a picture so vivid that the reader can feel me jumping out of the page.

I registered for all the applications and set up my recommenders to give them ample time to fill them out. One thing I learned from this is to make it crystal clear that some schools have a very specific format and set of questions they want answered. A general letter will not do. The recommenders should be prepared for the amount of effort this will take on their part. In addition to the essays, there are evaluation grids to fill out. It’s no simple task and you shouldn’t be shy about following up. Stay on top of those recommenders!

Filling out the applications

I probably should have done a dry run through all the applications early on so I would know what to prepare. For Haas, they require copies of official transcripts, which I did not have on hand. When I tried to order them from my school, they were on winter break and would only return two days before the application deadline! So I had to rush the order and ask my mom to go get them from the school. At another point, I wasn’t sure if my Kellogg application would be accepted because my GMAT scores had not been sent to the school and they needed them by the deadline! Yikes! But it turns out that they are actually ok with the scores being available later as long as they can view them when they get to my application.

To avoid any last-minute efforts, definitely go through the applications to see what fields they have and what required documentation there is. I was so caught up in essays that I figured filling out the forms would be easy, but they actually took quite a long time. You have to manually type in your previous job and extracurricular experience, which can add up quickly when you’ve had a few. Plus, there are certain documents that you may not have prepared that you should be aware of.

There were parts that I didn’t really think would come up, like my parents’ education, my international experience, and even my hobbies. I expected things like work experience, awards and honors, as well as extracurricular activities. The rest was pretty random additional information that varied by school. Stanford even asked for your favorite word!

Check, check, check!

So once you’ve got all these pieces together, make sure you have at least one other person take a look at your applications. I had my trusty husband go through and point out weak areas for me. He also kept an eye out for minor errors/typos after I’d been staring at everything for too long. Give yourself enough time to input all the data and proofread at least two or three times. You want to be as professional as possible and any grammatical error or typo can work against you.

When you’re ready to submit (at least hours, if not a day or more before the deadline), make sure you get confirmation emails that your application was received and so was your payment. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because of a glitch or because you forgot to pay the fee. Oh yeah, you’ll want to be ready to pay about $150-275 per application. That adds up fast!

For Kellogg, they had one more step after the application was submitted: the video essays. So if your program has something like that, make sure you spend time rehearsing. The program they use allows you to practice with the software until you’re comfortable, so I must have done it 20 times until my eye contact was steady and my answers could fit into the allotted 60 seconds. It’s amazing how shifty you can seem on your first try, so neeever jump right into it.

Once you’re all done, each application usually allows you to download a proof as a PDF, which I definitely recommend you do. Keep that for your records, so you can use it if there are any discrepancies. Plus, it helps you remember what you sent them!


So, these are the tips I have for the process up until those applications are submitted:

-When choosing which programs to apply to, go through each school’s websites to learn as much as you can. Try to keep your choices to 6 or you might be stretched too thin (and your recommenders won’t give up on filling out so many!).

-Sign up for their mailing lists ASAP so you know if there are local students you can meet or if/when an admission officer will be in your area. This is a great way to evaluate schools and learn things that can help with how you focus your application. Each program values different things and each school has a different culture.

-Take the GMAT/GRE before all the application madness if possible, so it’s one less thing to worry about.

-Read carefully through requirements. Do they need a GMAT score or do they accept GRE as well? Do they require scores to be sent or can you self-report for now? Do they need official transcripts sent or are unofficial transcripts acceptable initially? Prep these early as needed.

-Think about the narrative you’re going to tell. It’s hard to distill everything you’ve done and who you are into a neat package, but choose that one trait that best sums it up. Look at the work you’ve done, the activities you’ve been involved in, and even your personal background to connect the dots. A cohesive story makes the picture clearer and easier to digest.

-Based on your narrative, choose recommenders who can speak to the work you’ve done around what you’re focusing on. Put together some examples that the recommenders can choose to write about, which may differ greatly depending on your interactions with them. The more they can personalize it and relate it back to your theme (as well as tie it in to what matters to the school), the more impactful they will be.

-Follow up with your recommenders to make sure things are on track! If one of them needs to change, you want ample time to swap them out.

-Go through all the fields that each application requires. This will give you a sense of extra materials you’ll need to pull together, like your parents’ educational histories, your extracurriculars, any awards or recognition, or even international experience. The UCLA Anderson app had a paragraph to summarize hobbies and the Kellogg app asked for international experience as well as video essays. Know about these ahead of time so you’re prepared! Even the way they ask you to fill out work info varies greatly, so take a peek at how that’s structured.

-Start setting aside the amount of money you’ll need for the fees if you don’t have that readily available. Most seem to be $150-275. There are some cases where you can get the fee waived, so if you’re really strapped for cash, see if you qualify for any.

-I would allocate at least 10 days per app at the least, giving yourself time to have a breather when things were intense and you needed some time away from staring at these applications.

-Proofread your application a few times and have at least one other person go through the final version if you can.

-Submit your application well ahead of the deadline! I did them all the day before, so if anything went awry, I’d have the following day to figure it out.

-Be sure to get confirmation emails that your application was submitted AND payment was received. Otherwise you might not make it into the round you want!


Any other tips you’d share? Let me know! Now I’m just waiting to hear back on interviews…

How to store your lightning charger

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , ,

For awhile, I’d given up on using the charging cable for my iPhone 5. It started to come apart and I had to tape it at the end near the lightning head. It would only work at certain angles and I had to either hold it in place or very delicately position it with the phone on a surface. So, I bought another charger from a third party, which I loved. Unfortunately, it wore down over time too and stopped working recently. I started using my Apple-made cable again, but it was always a precarious situation and I could never be sure my phone was charging.

Finally, this weekend I was talking to Panda about it and he mentioned the possibility of getting it replaced. I figured I have nothing to lose, might as well try, right? So while his brother was in town, all three of us went out to the mall and found a guy at the Apple store. When I showed him my cable, he started to tell me about how normal wear and tear is not covered on the warranty and since mine was all taped up, he couldn’t replace it. He said he personally goes through them all the time (um, that’s not saying anything good about your product…) and then he shared some tips on how to preserve your lightning charger and minimize wear on it:

1. Always ensure the cable is straight when plugged in, both on the end plugging into your device and on the USB end. The connection to those areas are the weakest, and consistent bending causes them to rip.

2. Make sure you pull the cable from the firm plastic head and not the actual cable. This will reduce strain on the cable.

3. Never loop your cable a few times to store it, since this bends the ends. Instead, fold it over twice, then loosely knot that, as shown in the picture. This keeps the ends from bending, once again protecting the weakest points.

example of recommended way to store lightning charger cable as shown by apple store rep

Did you know this is a better way to store your cable?

Now this is all fine and dandy, but why didn’t they explain it to me when I got my device? It’s kind of too late now. Panda’s brother immediately asked to speak to the manager and as we explained to him how the tips were helpful (but way too late), I suggested that this is the type of thing they as an organization can educate us on when we buy a device. Panda asked whether the fact that my issue is not covered in the warranty was outlined, so the manager pulled up the agreement and looked for where it said that. It was pretty ambiguous with language about normal wear and tear (which means what, exactly?) and he must have been in a helpful mood, because he decided to replace my cable *this one time* (they always say that).

Luckily, some persistence (and getting to the right person who could actually make an executive decision), a peppering of questions, and a polite but disappointed demeanor seemed to do the trick for us. I got my new cable, no other questions asked, and now I am better educated on how to take care of it. Hopefully, you’ve now learned something that will help you from damaging your cables too!

6 tips for landing a job in one month

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , ,

I’ve had a pretty good track record when it comes to finding work. Whenever I’ve wanted to find something, I’ve been able to land a job within a month of initiating my job search. I hear of a lot of stories about people searching for months though, so I thought I’d put together some tips for how I optimize my efforts. Perhaps I’m just more flexible in my search, but I’m probably doing some things right too!

six tips for landing a job in one month at

Tip #1: network!

An important thing to do while you’re job hunting is make sure you mention it to people. You never know when an off-hand remark about your job hunt can lead to a promising opening. Strike up a conversation with that stranger in line and you can usually insert the topic since it’s common to discuss what you’re up to. Don’t be spammy and talk about nothing but how hard it is or what your dream job would be, but don’t be shy about bringing it up. They might have great suggestions for where to look or you might just get a referral!

Tip #2: use your social groups.

You should definitely try to make an effort to meet more people and expand your network, but also tap into your existing networks: family, friends, classmates, previous coworkers, etc. If you’re meeting up with friends, they’ll probably want to know what’s going on – what a perfect time to share your job hunting status! Also, a couple of posts on your social media accounts could bring in opportunities as well. Just be careful not to let it take over or people will just tune you out.

Tip #3: don’t be afraid of Craigslist.

The first time I looked for a “real” job (aka full-time with benefits) I shied away from Craigslist at first. I figured the best leads would be on job listing sites – I mean, that’s what they’re set up for, right? While there were plenty of listings there, I actually found it to be quite challenging to navigate. The CEO of the company I was interning for at the time asked if I had tried Craigslist and I kind of cringed… “Craigslist? Isn’t that kind of shady?” But she assured me that she knew plenty of people who got great jobs out of it. Thank goodness I listened to her! I found a great job not long after and once again it was Craigslist that came through for me this time around.

Tip#4: scour job listings like a pro.

It’s always hard browsing job descriptions trying to figure out what is a good fit for you. I always choose one or two features that I really want to focus on and center my searches around that. With my most recent search, I wanted a company with a entrepreneurial vibe, so I searched terms like “startup” (and I believe that’s how I ultimately found the Craigslist post that led me to my job). When I was first starting out a few years ago, I wanted something related to “associate/assistant manager” so that’s what I searched for (and I came across the affiliate manager listing for the job I got). Hone in on what matters the most to you for your search and find terms related to that – don’t just think about job title or responsibilities, but consider the work environment and even things like travel opportunities.

Tip #5: evaluate what you already use and love.

I actually looked at a bunch of positions at companies that are a part of my normal routine – everything from the technology I use to the things I buy. Take a look at brands you already love and see what openings they may have. Chances are that at least a handful of these companies appeal to you not just because of the product or service you use from them, but because of their company philosophy and culture. These would be great places to look to advance your career! I know I got pretty excited about some of them. I even thought of what I could do for that organization that they weren’t necessarily hiring for. If you enjoy the brand enough, it’s definitely worth a try reaching out to their HR department pitching a role that you’d be perfect for. They may not even know they need you until you show them what you can bring to the table!

Tip #6: apply like it’s your job!

Finally, and very importantly is to be very dedicated to your search. Job hunting could easily be a full-time gig and if you put forth that much effort, you will be rewarded that much faster. For my first job I applied to a good 10-15 listings every weekday. For this latest job hunt I was a lot pickier, but still forced myself to find half a dozen promising leads I would pursue each day, focusing on getting out an application to at least one of those. As long as you continually have a pipeline of leads, you are giving yourself your best shot at finding a fabulous job ASAP. Be sure to take the time to research the company and write a thoughtful and custom cover letter for each. That’s your chance to truly stand out! I was contacted about the job I got because my cover letter was one of the most detailed that they had come across. My qualifications weren’t super strong but I sure did make up for it in effort!

And of course, remember to keep your head up and keep plowing on even when things are looking grim. I pushed through that dark period of my search and found a job that I couldn’t be happier with. It’s always going to be challenging trying to find a great job with promising career prospects, the pay you want, near your home, and the company culture that fits your style. I hope that my tips help you think about different ways to approach your job search. Good luck!


Disclaimer: I don’t know your individual situations so of course I can’t guarantee these methods will work for you. They’ve worked for me but your success rate and time may vary.

How to: not waste soap

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , ,

Don’t you hate when you get those little pieces of a soap bar that you can’t quite use but don’t want to waste? Well, hopefully you do or else you’re probably losing out on a lot of soap uses! So here I’ve compiled some ways that you can make the most of those broken pieces:

collage of various solutions to using up small broken pieces of soap

1. Put in cloth or bag

Fold it into a small facial cloth or cloth baggie, get the cloth/bag wet and then rub! Suds are able to make their way through the porous material and you might even get a better lather than usual. This way you also get some exfoliation out of it and the pieces don’t go down the drain.

2. Insert into loofah

Similar to the cloth, loofahs are great for exfoliation and improving lather, so if you’re into suds, stick those pieces in the center of your loofah and scrub away! It’s ideal if you can actually stuff them into a compartment where they won’t fall out, otherwise you might still struggle with small pieces falling through.

3. Stick to a cap

One of the greatest challenges I find with small pieces of soap is how thin and flimsy it is. I feel like I have nothing to grip on to, so by sticking it onto the cap of something, it gives you something to hold easily. Then just treat it like a tube of lip balm and rub around on your skin. It’s pretty similar to when you used the brand new bar, but of course with less material.

4. Adhere to wall

Ok, this one is probably the strangest suggestion I have, but hey it’s fun and hilarious. If you don’t have a cap to stick your soap to, just press it onto your shower tile. Then rub your hands or fingers on it when you need to use some! You’ll also help clean part of the wall that way… 😉

5. Shake in container

Finally (and probably least effective), you can throw those pieces into a plastic container, add a bit of water, and shake like crazy! You’ll get a watered down soapy mixture you can spray onto yourself if you have a nozzle or pour out to use like a super watery body wash. Alternatively, you can aim to just use the suds that you create as a foam cleanser.

So there you go! Never waste so much soap again with these 5 tips. 😛 It looks like I inadvertently ordered these in approximate from the most effective to the least effective method. Do you have anything to add?

How to: Link Social Media Accounts

laelene Posted in how to guides,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

With the ventures I’ve been working on, much of my time and effort have been spent figuring out the nuances of social media.  I think these issues are pertinent to many people, particularly business owners, so I’ve decided to put together some of the lessons I’ve learned and tips for how to improve your experience and avoid pitfalls.  These will be filed under the “social media lessons” category, so you can filter by category to sort by relevant posts.  Hopefully you’ll find these things useful in optimizing your own social media strategy!

social media icon buttons: facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram, vimeo, etsy

Icons courtesy Brandi Girl

Today I’ll cover how to link your social media accounts to offer consistency across social media platforms.  It can be quite time-consuming to post content across platforms, so why not link them and get more bang for your buck?  Most sites will allow you to connect with Facebook and/or Twitter to post your activity and updates; just check the settings and look for something like “Sharing Settings” or “Connect Accounts.”

First, you can interlink your Facebook Page and Twitter accounts.  That way, any post on Facebook gets updated to Twitter, and any update on Twitter gets updated to Facebook (except @replies and direct messages).

Link Twitter to your Facebook Page

  • You will be prompted to use Facebook as yourself (instead of as your Facebook Page) if you aren’t already.
  • Your personal Facebook account and any Facebook Pages that you are an admin of will be listed.
  • On the right side, click “Link to Twitter” for the account you want to link.
  • On the next page, make sure you’re logged in to the correct Twitter account and click “Authorize app.”
  • You will be returned to the previous page, where you can choose what to share (Status Updates, Photos, Video, Links, Notes, & Events). By default, they will all be checked so all updates will be shared on Twitter as well.

Link Facebook Page to your Twitter account

  • Scroll down to the Facebook section and click “Sign in to Facebook and connect your accounts.”
  • There will be a pop-up prompting you to allow Twitter access to your personal Facebook account. Allow it.
  • Now your account is connected to Facebook and you can choose to allow Twitter to post to your personal profile page, or one of the Facebook Pages that you are an admin of.


For all the rest, make sure you are signed in to the correct Facebook and Twitter accounts first.

Link Facebook* & Twitter to your Pinterest account

  • Scroll down to the Facebook section and click “Login with Facebook.”
  • There will be a pop-up prompting you to allow Pinterest access to your Facebook account.  Allow it.
  • Now “Login with Facebook” will be ON and you can choose to also turn “Publish activity to Facebook Timeline” to ON. If you do, another pop-up will prompt you to allow that type of access to your Facebook account.  Allow it if you want Pinterest updates to show up in a box on the right side of your timeline.
  • In the Twitter section, click “Login with Twitter” and authorize the app.

Link Facebook, Twitter, & more to your Instagram (instructions for iPhone app – Androids may vary)

  • Open up the Instagram app on your device and click on the icon that shows you your profile (bottom right).
  • Tap on the settings icon in the top right corner.
  • Scroll down to “Sharing settings” under the Account header.
  • Tap on that and choose the accounts you want to link. You’ll be prompted to log in and allow access.
  • For Facebook, your personal profile will be connected by default, but you can change it to a page by clicking on “Facebook,” then “Post to.” This will take you to a page in the FB app. Allow access here to then be able to connect Instagram to one of the Facebook Pages that you are an admin of.


  • Click “Connect” next to the account you want to link.
  • You will be prompted to allow access. When you accept, your account will be linked.
  • For Facebook, you will automatically be connected as yourself, but you can choose to link to a Facebook Page that you are an admin of instead by clicking on the dropdown.
  • Note that Vimeo will only send updates when you ‘like’ a video. When you upload a new video, you will need to manually choose “Share” in the top right corner of that video.

Link Facebook* & Twitter to your Etsy account

  • Click on “Connect with Facebook” and/or “Connect with Twitter” under the Connected Accounts section
  • You will get a pop-up prompting you to allow permission. When you do, your accounts will be linked.
  • For Facebook, you have the option of sharing your Favorites from Etsy on Facebook. Check the box if you’d like to, otherwise leave it alone.


*Pinterest and Etsy don’t appear to allow you to link your account to a Facebook page – right now you can only post updates to your personal timeline.


Is there another social media platform you’d like to see here?  Did I miss a step anywhere?  I’d love to hear some feedback.  Let me know if it worked for you (or what happened if it didn’t).

Financial intelligence

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

My mom lectured me about smart financial moves today and though I was tired and didn’t really want to think about it, she makes a good point.   I can save a lot of money if I take advantage of tax breaks, save and invest wisely, and limit my spending.   At this point, I don’t really want to think about it and plan for it, but it really is the time to start as I get a steady paycheck.  Unfortunately (and despite one of my majors being Economics), I’m not really interested in the financial field and have little patience for all the complexities of it.   At the same time, I can save a lot of money by knowing how to handle my money smartly and not pay a financial advisor to figure that out for me.

It’s a bit of a dilemma because I just don’t have the interest, but the stakes are pretty high and the ultimate benefits do warrant a closer look.  As of now I’ve been letting my Roth IRA money sit there, whiling away, but what I need to do is invest it in a somewhat aggressive mutual fund or index or something.  There are many other things to do, such as figure what areas of tax avoidance I can take advantage of (note that that’s not the same as tax evasion, which is illegal).  I need to put in a lot of time and effort into this area, but I just don’t have the interest.  I wish I could just let someone else handle it, but why spend good money on something I can learn myself?

At least if I start early in my working life (like now), I’ll be setting myself up for a better future that will be able to ride out the periodic financial downs.  I just wish it wasn’t so complicated.

Why computers should be cleaned

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , ,

If you’ve had your laptop or desktop for a few years and the fan is having trouble cooling the device like it used to, it’s more than likely you are the victim of a massive dust bunny.  It’s a fun adventure to take apart your computer to clean it out and help lengthen its life.  After all, you don’t want it overheating and oftentimes, that can be caused by these dust bunnies!

dust bunny sits inside laptop

The little devil knows how to block air flow.

massive dust bunny

The dust bunny inside Panda's laptop. No wonder his fan was having trouble.


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

When I was up in Ojai for a lovely weekend away, my boss from the internship with Opportunity Green called me “Technolo-Mary” during dinner, which struck something in me.  He had been referring to how I seem to know all the newest gadgets and services out there.  It made me realize that I really am a great resource for many new technologies that have come about in the past couple of years.  I liked that someone as techy as he (he got a degree in engineering and is awesome at all things related to building and maintaining websites) found my knowledge useful enough to consider me a valuable go-to person.

I do like to stay on top of things, whether it’s things like Google Voice, Dropbox, and reQall or more of things like new social media forums, mobile technologies, and many more.  I’ve always loved to learn more about technology, so anything new captures my attention and I like to spend time learning more about it.  If I like what I see, I’ll usually go on to become an adopter and even spread the word.  That’s what I’ve been doing with CauseWorld, which is a great app for your smartphone that allows you to choose where sponsors’ money is donated.

I really enjoy troubleshooting (for the most part) and solving problems through logic and trial and error.  Also, it’s rewarding to discover the best technical solutions for everyday issues, like streamlining processes.  Whether it’s organization, documentation, or retrieval, there’s probably a better way to do it than the one you’re doing now.  I’m all about efficiency and effectiveness, which is probably also why technology fascinates me so much – it solves a lot of our problems and saves us a lot of time and effort!

Perhaps I should start a help line called “Technomary” – not “techno Mary,” but “tech-nom-ary.”  A play on technology and Mary AND -ary as a suffix that means “having to do with.”  It’d be a fun name for a tech blog, if I were to ever write one.  It could be a cool place to get answers for your “Dear Abby” type tech questions like how to convert a scanned JPEG into a PDF or what type of free phone services there are.  Hmm, now there’s a thought…

Work preoccupation

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve been really preoccupied with work lately.  When I’m there, I don’t think about personal things, and when I’m home, I’m tired and just want to relax, which has meant the e-mails in my Yahoo account are piling up.  I’ve managed to go through them this weekend, but there are quite a few newsletters that will probably go unread for months.  I don’t follow my social networks the way I used to and I’m just barely pumping out posts here.  For some reason, I’ve been really tired during the time I’m at home.  Plus, the Olympics have been a nice distraction, which makes it easy for me to never think about turning on my computer.  Let’s not even go into the problems I’ve been having with my charger.  I’m about ready for a new computer.

It’s been a month now, so I hope that I can get into a better rhythm that fits work, sleep, meals, entertainment, exercise, relaxation, and quality time all in one nice bundle.  I don’t have much energy for cooking dinner, which hasn’t been good, so I really need to start getting more sleep.  The good thing is, one of the guys at the office told me about an app that lets you track your sleeping cycles!  I looked into it and found the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, which will monitor your sleeping pattern and wake you up during a lighter sleep stage so it’s easier to get up and you feel more rested.  It’s a really awesome app that you should go check out if you have trouble getting up in the morning!  I’ve only used it one night, so it’s still calibrating to my sleeping pattern, but it could be quite useful in the future.  For a buck, more energy and less time wasted pressing snooze is totally worth it.

Southern California wildfires: suppression is not the solution!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
blazing wildfires in southern california

photo credit: Chris Doolittle

Firefighters in California have adopted a fire suppression policy for over a century now, which works very effectively in the underbrush type fires of Northern California, but do very little to stop the brush type fires of Southern California.  In fact, wildfires are still occurring increasingly year after year, with over 99% of the ones in coastal Southern California started by human activity.  It’s not just an issue of how we fight the fires; it’s how we prepare ourselves to prevent the fires.

Much of the problem arises with urban sprawl.  As our communities push further out into the undeveloped land surrounding us, we not only put ourselves at risk of being in the path of a wildfire, we are more in danger of starting them.  Since fires are something humans feel they can control, more or less, there is often a misconception that we can just stop the unwanted ones from happening.  However, that is not the case, especially since our homes are teeming with highly flammable materials, including the very palm trees swaying our backyards.  Fires are bound to break out, whether caused by humans or nature.

So, we should follow Dr. Jon E. Keeley’s advice: think of wildfires like we do of earthquakes.  We certainly don’t go around trying to patch up the San Andreas Fault, and neither should we try to stop all the brushfires from igniting.  As a matter of fact, in a study conducted by Keeley and Fotheringham in 2000, they found that chaparrals (native plants in Southern California) need periodic wildfires to help their seedlings grow!  It’s actually the smoke and chemicals from charred wood that allow the seeds of chaparral to germinate, otherwise they lay dormant.

Chapparals have adapted to the wildfires that swept the area every decade or two and now need them to continue to survive.  That’s not to say that the increased frequency of wildfires is a good thing, though!  When fires occur too frequently, native chaparrals die before they get a chance to recover and soon the hillsides are replaced by non-native weeds and dry vegetation.  These new plants are far less resistant to burning, increasing the frequency of fires, which spread to kill off even more native plants.  And thus the cycle continues, to the point that of the nine megafires (fires that burned more than 100,000 acres) in the past century, half occurred in just the last six years.

So how should we deal with the wildfires?  Well, to start off with, it would be smart to NOT build homes and developments in high-risk areas, which experts have identified.  Then, for those homes that are already on the fringe of wild land, clear out the vegetation in a 100-yard radius.  Also, homeowners should be cognizant of the materials in and around their homes.  Palm trees in particular are dangerous because they are extremely flammable.  Embers flying from a burning palm tree in your yard could then ignite a fire on nearby structures.  Finally, we should accept that wildfires are part of the cycle of life for our local vegetation and have a plan like we do for earthquakes.

To learn more, check out Dr. Keeley’s Oppenheim Lecture Series presentation.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...