One of my biggest post-grad goals was to never stop learning. And not in that Grey’s Anatomy end-of-episode, moral of the story way. Like actually continue to put new knowledge into my brain on a regular basis.
Lucky me - I’m a tech-savvy kid in the age of the Internet. There are many (pretty cheap) ways for me to learn online, in person, and through a mix of the two. I’m currently using a lot of different web tools to get my learn on, and I thought I’d showcase some of the websites and organizations that I think are doing it best.
Time Commitment: Four 2-hour classes
Meetup is an awesome platform for GDI’s goals, because its function is to bring people together in digital spaces so that they can actually come together (um, meet up?) in real life. Meetup lets event organizers and attendees get a feel for who’s going to be in the room before they get there.
Sewing 101: Hand & Machine Basics
Time Commitment: One 2-hour class
Due to the love and patience of master chef and Grade A best friend Sophie Amodeo, I have accomplished one of my essential domestic to dos: learning how to cook. However, sewing has yet to be crossed off. My mother, my boyfriend and an assortment of kind and generous people have taken a stab at showing me how to make a basic stitch, but my stitches almost always come out by the next day or totally ruin the thing I’m trying to sew. Thank God for cheap one-time classes that promise to teach me the basics.
Dabble is a site I recently discovered after partnering with them for a program I ran during Chicago Ideas Week. First reason I think they’re great: Dabble’s CEO is an absolute gem via email. But more than that, Dabble is a great place to take a class you’re interested in without having to make a big commitment. The site layout is beautiful and the sign-up process is super duper easy. I look forward to seeing them grow in other cities (like Detroit!) so that more people can get Dabblin’.
Learn the Ins and Outs of Illustrator
Time Commitment: Variable; a 4-part online class with 2-3 videos per part, approximately 12 minutes each
Adobe Illustrator is something I’ve been meaning to learn since high school. I’ve learned the two other most popular components of Creative Suite (Photoshop and InDesign) in classrooms or on my own, but Illustrator is one of those programs I end of force quitting due to frustration every time I open it up.
I recently signed up for a class on Skillshare to give myself the extra motivation to stick with it. In this class, I’m watching instructional videos and completing a project at my own pace (creating a vintage poster - oh la la!). There are PDF resources included in the online classroom and a bulletin board where students can ask questions. Out of all the classes I’m taking, this is the one I could most easily reproduce by just watching YouTube videos. But I think the motivational emails from Skillshare and the $25 I invested in the class have given me more incentive to actually stick with the class than plain old YouTube videos would.
Google Analytics Academy
Platform: Google and YouTube
Time Commitment: Variable; Google says expect about 4-6 hours total
As a person who describes herself as a “digital media consultant” I feel a little guilty admitting my limited understanding of Google Analytics. I’ve run a few AdWords campaigns, I know some of the lingo, and I’ve had fun tracking the analytics on my various Tumblrs. But overall, I haven’t used Google Analytics very much in my work, mostly because I don’t know where to get started.
God bless the Google gods for creating these info-packed video sessions and comprehension quizzes. The lessons are quick, full of great tips and knowledge and totally worth the hour or so it spent me to get through the first three units. The best part - if I finish the last three units before October 30, I get some sort of certificate (woo!). The other best part - Google Analytics Academy is totally free.
Hey, Walker Sands! Here’s just a little more information about me and my social media background. We both know Tumblr is the kingdom of GIFs, so here’s one I made just for you.
Not bad, huh? A little self-congratulations might be in order.
Today, October 1, 2013, is the first day of open enrollment for healthcare provided under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).
This is a BFD for two reasons. The first is that the government of the United States is shut down right now because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree to pass a spending bill that would provide funding for Obamacare (Dems are mostly for it, some radical GOP members hate it). Why these two issues are tied together is a totally separate and confusing issue, so I won’t get into it, but you can read this BuzzFeed story with Ferris Bueller as Ted Cruz and get the main idea.
The second is this is the first real step towards universal health care in the United States. We’re one of the only developed nations that doesn’t provide universal healthcare to its citizens. About 48 million Americans are uninsured, and medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US.
To honor this prestigious day, and because I am a freelancer with no health insurance, I decided to enroll. Here’s a live blog of my first experience with government-mandated healthcare.
To kick things off, I went to healthcare.gov to browse the marketplace and enroll.
I clicked the big green “APPLY NOW” button (hard to miss) and was redirected to a new page.
The site indicated that I can use healthcare.gov to shop for insurance since I’m from Michigan. I tested a few other states, and there are a couple (like Hawaii and Minnesota) that have state-sponsored online health care marketplaces that residents can shop on instead.
This was the first screen I saw when I clicked “APPLY NOW” on the page with the state dropdown menu. I’m guessing the site is pretty packed with visitors this morning. I waited about 10 minutes (the page automatically reloads), and finally…
…I was able to create an account. (Don’t spam my email, porfa! But you can send cat videos or whatever.) I was glad to see that the sign-up page included links to email providers that users can sign up for if they don’t have one already, because I’m sure many of the uninsured do not have a personal email address (or may not remember the username/password for the one they have). Say it with me, friends: access and inclusivity.
Next you had to create a username and password combo. Even I had a little trouble with this at first because both the username and password have very specific character combinations you need to use in order for them to work. I can see this being a problem for older/non-tech-savvy individuals trying to sign up for the exchange if they don’t read the small print or have trouble understanding what it means.
But I did get it to work after a few tries. Unfortunately, after that…
Wamp wamp. The system has been down for about a half hour now. Pretty anticlimactic right? I’ll keep reloading and add more updates once the site is back up.
9:05am - After an hour the system is still down. To entertain myself, I start Google image searching “Boehner” so I can send my sister a pic text of his cry face (see tab on the right).
9:20am - One hour and fifteen minutes later, and we’re back in line! And waiting. Let’s hope I sign up before open enrollment closes.
9:25am - Site is up! Unfortunately, the security question page isn’t working, so everyone hoping to sign up for health insurance today is stuck waiting until this page is up and running.
10:40am - An updated “Please wait” page! This one’s got a noticeably friendlier tone. Good job, copywriters. I’m sure customer service has been getting a lot of not-so-friendly emails this morning. Still no healthcare, but good to know changes are being made to the site.
3:16pm - It’s actually four hours later, and I’m still getting the “Please wait” page of death when I try to log in. Feeling pretty bad for their IT guys - this kind of stress has to be bad for your health. (See how I threw a pun in there?)
Start with your face. Relax your jaw. Let it hang lower than usual. Make your cheeks feel heavy. Pull your bottom lip up slightly over the top one so that you’re almost frowning. Tense the muscles below your bottom eyelids. Let your eyes to narrow into slits. Once they glaze over, you can begin walking.
Now take a deep breath. Let your shoulders sag. Shake your legs out a bit so that your steps are longer and looser. Walk with confidence and purpose. Take up space. Every two steps, repeat the phrase don’t fuck with me, don’t fuck with me, don’t fuck with me.
Take the usual precautions. Keep your earrings in your pocket until you get to work. Sling your backpack over your right shoulder only and drape your entire arm over it so the pockets are covered. Make sure the zippers are zipped so that they face towards your body and not away from it. Put the valuable things like your wallet and your cellphone in the largest pocket farthest away from the front so that if someone tries to slip their hand in you’re more likely to notice. Hide your coin purse in your bra. Don’t walk close to walls or sit in the window seat on the bus. That way no one can corner you.
Never carry more than you actually need. Forget your laptop, your iPhone, your credit card, your ID. Every time you leave the house, ask yourself: If I lost everything I brought with me today, would I be okay? The answer has to be yes.
Don’t speak English. Don’t look anybody in the eye. When you walk by large groups of men, cross to the other side of the street or put your head down and move quickly. Have a hood? Put it up. The harder it is for them to recognize you’re a girl, the better. Keep staring straight ahead. Keep moving. Don’t stop, even when they hiss at you or call you precious.
Try not to walk after sunset. Try not to walk alone. Try not to look pretty. Try not to look like a woman. Try not to look like money. Try everything until you are tired of trying and then look for the taxis with the orange license plates. Hope that one stops. Hope that it’s safe. Get in and go home.