Blog Redesign!

Note: This is a lot of designer-y and tech-y speak, so if you want to skip it, I’m going to have a fun post up later today. 

My birthday is Friday, and the present I gave to myself, aside from making a promise never to go on WebMD ever again, is learning CSS and HTML to redo my blog in WordPress.  The result is what you see here, and I think it’s a little easier on the eyes, more cross-browser-friendly (*cough* IE users you know who you are and please for the love of God stop using it), and just easier to navigate in general than the previous version.

There are still some tweaks I have to make, such as tag all the “Friday Links” with the same tag so that you can open them up via nav bar, but not have them clutter up my main posts. Overall, though, I like it a lot, and hope you do, too.  If you have any constructive criticism, either from a user or designer standpoint, I’d love to hear it.

The major improvements I’ve made:

  • Better spam blocker for trackback spam and comment spam
  • Better image viewer so when you clicky to enlarge pictures, you’re not taken away from the site onto a new page
  • Better comment-leaving system incorporating HTML (bold, italics, etc.)
  • Comment trackback so you know when someone replies to your comments
  • Easier to navigate Friday links in one category tab (coming soon)
  • Prettier layout, easier to read with the light-gray colors
  • IE/Firefox compatible
  • Easier to scroll through site to see past posts with snippets instead of whole posts

Basically, I have enough tools under my belt now that I can design WordPress blogs for pay.

I’m going to have another, non redesign-related post up today, but just for fun, kind of like Design*Sponge’s cover post,  I thought it would be cool to show you how I went through header ideas and color schemes for the site.  Design is hard, yo.

This was my original logo and placeholder.  I love using the font Creampuff for all of my logos so that it’s easily-recognizable as my “brand”- whimsical and humorous.

Second iteration. I knew I wanted something other than “Russian, Jewish, named after a strawberry,” because I think the tagline’s too limiting in what I discuss on here, which is practically everything, but within the framework of Russian and Jewish and strawberry-ness. But still playful. Cause you know how I do.  So I decided on the tagline below. I wanted to also keep the Creampuff logo with my name.

I decided, after that, that I wanted to go in a more comic-y  direction, since I often do a lot of comics on this blog. So I started with this:

But then I felt like it was too busy, so I changed it to the following, so the background could bleed through:

But then that was too plain again, also the photo was a little TOO cynical, even though Mr. B said “You look like this 90% of the time”,  so I started moving it around and came up with..

Which eventually became…

and finally….

P.S. A big thank you to, first and foremost, Mr. B, for helping me on the backend (that’s what she DIDN’T say) with Apache, DNS, and other issues that I am too stupid for on my own right now. To Jamie for inspiring me to make my site look pretty as the ones she designs although she totally doesn’t know it, to Andrew for lots of helpful tips via Twitter and also being a stellar designer I look up to, and to Matt Mullenweg for having a very cool blog design that served as inspiration halfway through. 

 

Friday Links

I don’t know, you  guys.  It’s been a long, hot summer and I’m kind of in a funk. Adjusting to Philly by ourselves. People in the family in the hospital.  It’s too hot for Nutella right now. House still doesn’t quite feel like home yet. My creepy lawn gnome stopped working for  a day.  No vacation in sight.  Suggestions for cheering up?  I need to look at this for a while or something.

Links:

  1. If you love your friends, tell them to switch to Gmail.
  2. The story of Marinka’s papa’s circumcision (no pictures, I promise)
  3. Sheryl Sandberg: icon for women, or just an example of privilege? Read the whole thing, it’s interesting.
  4. The difference between being single and in a relationship
  5. Ways to become a better writer
  6. Where I write” A green room in Gujarat
  7. Should you take a limo to your divorce? Yes.
  8. What IS a cooling center?
  9. J. Lo is getting divorced to stay relevant
  10. Oo! Did you know NPR now has a Books section?

Don’t major in history for the love of Charlemagne

Everyone got their outrage hats on?

Here’s mine:

Let’s go.

This article. (via Leora and others)

Let’s start parsing, shall we?

William Klein’s story may sound familiar to his fellow graduates. After earning his bachelor’s in history from the College at Brockport, he found himself living in his parents’ Buffalo home, working the same $7.25-an-hour waiter job he had in high school.

So that’s the normal paragraph.  How does it read to me?

William Klein’s story may sound familiar to his fellow graduates. After earning his bachelor’s in history from the College at Brockport, he found himself living in his parents’ Buffalo home, working the same $7.25-an-hour waiter job he had in high school.

Kids, what did I tell you about majoring in liberal arts and then trying to find Real People jobs?  Unless you are a trustafarian, don’t major in stuff that sounds nice in your head but not on a resume. If you are majoring in liberal arts and are aware that you have less chance of finding a job, that’s coo’. But otherwise, don’t whine that grad school is the next new thing. I guarantee you no one in the companies you think you want to work for will hire you when your resume is in a stack against B.S.s in Finance or Chemical Engineering.

What’s that?  It was your life passion to pursue history?  Why not do it on the side then?  Why not volunteer at a historical society as you work in a soulnumbing job and at some point are able to turn that volunteering gig into a full-time position?  Oh, you feel like you’re compromising everything you stand for?  But living in your parents’ Buffalo home isn’t?

Ok.  So you blew this one.  Looks like you’re going back for a Master’s?

So this fall, he will sharpen his marketability at Rutgers’ new master’s program in Jewish studies (think teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community). Jewish studies may not be the first thing that comes to mind as being the road to career advancement, and Mr. Klein is not sure exactly where the degree will lead him (he’d like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East). But he is sure of this: he needs a master’s. Browse professional job listings and it’s “bachelor’s required, master’s preferred.”

Ahem.

So this fall, he will sharpen his marketability at Rutgers’ new master’s program in Jewish studies (think teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community). Jewish studies may not be the first thing that comes to mind as being the road to career advancement, and Mr. Klein is not sure exactly where the degree will lead him (he’d like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East). But he is sure of this: he needs a master’s. Browse professional job listings and it’s “bachelor’s required, master’s preferred.”

*mind explodes*

So you have one unmarketable degree, and you’re going to get ANOTHER?  If your goal is to work in the Jewish community, by all means, get that degree.  But, why not research the market first? Do you realize that most Jewish orgs struggle to pay people, and pay is usually around $30k or so for someone starting?  Will that balance out the debts you’re incurring?  Do you already have contacts in the professional Jewish community that will get you started? Did you do Jewish stuff in college?  These are the kinds of questions he should be asking himself instead of aimlessly going for a second degree and being not exactly sure where the degree will lead him.

Hint: If you want to work for the CIA, you need to be in DC, not Rutgers, and you need to be learning Arabic and Farsi and prefrably a third language like WHOA.  Jewish Studies will not help you, unless you are EXTREMELY resourceful.

Don’t waste your own time and money.

Are we all sufficiently outraged?

I need that hat for real.

I Feel Like a Whole Red Square of People is in My Head and Other Personal Branding Problems

When I started this blog two-some years ago, personal branding was all the rage, and everyone was all like, you have to blog under your own name so your ideas get heard and you build yourself up.  What everyone didn’t tell me is that once you blog under your own name, you have to self-censor to the point where all your content becomes bland and boring, especially if you’re employed and have family. Maybe this is why most personal branding and social media blogs are terrible and I have no idea how those people are taken seriously and make money.

At first, I didn’t self-censor, and  see how edgy I was back in the day?  I wrote about economics. And Yiddish.  And all sorts of non-Boykis household related things.  Just pretty much whatever I felt like without any fear of repercussion.  But then, somewhere along the way, I gained readers and I stupidly decided to publish my blog feed to my Facebook, which meant that now all my real-life friends know about it.  Also, somehow their friends know, my family, etc.

So whereas before my blog post thought process went something like this,

“Hm.  I think I’ll write a post making fun of Polish juice.   As I write, I have an image of an audience in my head.  For most writers, they try to write to a generalization and I do as well, but I can’t help but picture my audience reading it:

 

I’ll show Mr. B my post to see if he thinks it’s funny and Nice! Post done. ”

But now, since I’m very aware of my audience, I feel like I’m writing to this:

 which I know is stupid because I only get, like, 60 blog hits every day, but somehow everyone always brings it up at in-life social gatherings.  So I’ll start brainstorming a post, and the process will go something like,

“Why don’t I write about my job and my career…ohhhhh terrible idea.  Well, why don’t I write about a family member that irritates meohhhhhnooooo. Well, why don’t I write about this restaurant we went to ohhhmannn they might be checking their Google Alerts.  Well, why not something that Russians do that annoys me. Nooooo because someone that’s Russian and reading might get offended.  I might as well be writing about abortion and prostitutes.  If I swear in my post, will that offend my family?  If I don’t swear, will it be edgy enough for the Internet?  What about The Foreskin Man?  No, too racy and too opinionated.  Wait!  I can write about Polish juice!  But ohhhh what if Polish people read my blog.  WHAT IF JUICES READ MY BLOG AND ARE OFFENDED?  OHMYGOD CRIPPLING INDECISION.”

So then you get posts like this. Which, I mean, is cute in its own way, but it’s boring as hell. No conflict. No new ideas.  Humor is not at the level it should be.  Etc.  The post I was considering writing in its place was about Bangladesh, but that story is now three weeks old and if some upset mommyblogger sees it and starts a comment war, I honestly don’t want to get involved.

So, how can I break out of

and remember that I’m only writing for

 

again?

 

Maybe I can write anonymously.

Look for my new anonymous blog, right at this address.