The 9 Books I’ve Read in Self-Isolation: March Reading Wrap Up

In the past couple weeks I’ve have been self-isolating, and in order to keep myself entertained I’ve been 100% keeping up to date with ALL of my school work! Oh wait, no, sorry. I have actually been keeping up to date with about 0% (maybe 1%?) of my school work. What I’ve actually been doing is reading a lot of books and watching some movies and binging some TV. However, today I’m going to be focusing on the books that I’ve read. Mainly because there are 9 (NINE!)

1.) I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

This first book is actually one I read as part of a book club! It’s essentially a “soft sci-fi” which pretty much means it’s a contemporary book with some sci-fi elements mixed in. Following three teens on the journeys they each embark on after earth is contacted by aliens, telling everyone they have seven days until hey are put on trial. I enjoyed this book, but found myself disconnected from the characters due to the way that it was written. And the ending kind of feels like the author just stopped. That being said, I would actually recommend this to anyone looking for an “end of the world” type thing, especially seeing out current situation.

2,3,4.) Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, Chain of Gold and Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare and others

The reason I have lumped these all together is because they are all part of a much larger series of books known to many as The Shadow Hunter Chronicles. Cassandra Clare has three (going on 4/5 now) complete series, as well as three short story compilations that follow characters known as Shadowhunters — humans with angel blood who fight demons. The problem with the three books I’ve read this past month is that I can’t really recommend them to anyone who hasn’t already read her books, because they do contain spoilers for her other series! That being said, I really enjoyed all three books and if you’ve read Clare’s other books and liked them, I would definitely suggest checking them out. And if you haven’t read any of her books, check out either The Infernal Devices or The Mortal Instruments first.

5.) A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

This is an extremely sweet as well as heart wrenching — but also warming — book. Following a young muslim girl who moves to a new town just one year after the 9/11 attacks. chronicling her year at a new school, the new people she meets, as well as the break dancing club she starts with. her brother. I really enjoyed this book, especially because I have never read anything with this subject matter. Being an own voices story, inspired by the author’s adolescence (break dancing and everything!)

6.) Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

This book isn’t really a book, and is rather two (very) short stories compiled into two bindings. The first Midnights follows a girl who pines after her best friend and has to watch him kiss a different girl at midnight every single New Years Eve. And the second story, Kindred Spirits, follows a young girl who waits in line for the first movie in the new Star Wars sequel trilogy. And the trials and tribulations of sleeping outside a movie theatre for two days and with two people who don’t know — despite the fact that they share a love for Star Wars. Now I’m not a HUGE fan of extremely short stories like these, mainly because I’m an extremely character based reader. I love to get to know characters, and by the time I got to know these ones — the story was over. That being said I really enjoyed the second story, being a Star Wars fan myself. There were lots of cute little references mixed in that I was able to enjoy.

7.) In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund

This next book I read was yet again for the book club i’m a part of! inspired by the board game Clue, this is a modernized murder mystery. Taking place in a fancy boarding school and following the few students who get trapped in one of the school buildings when there is a horrible storm. The only way I can describe this book is fun. It’s extremely easy to read and gets it’s point across easily. My only complaint is the different points of view that it’s told in throughout the story.

8.) All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

This is an audio book that I ended up listening to as I cleaned my room one day. I signed up for the Scribd free one month promotion, and chose a book I saw a few people talking about online. Putting a modern twist on Agatha Christie novels mixed with The Breakfast Club. X teens are invited to a scholarship dinner with the mayor, but he never shows. With the door slamming shut and trapping them in the room, stuck with a bomb, a syringe, and a note saying: they have an our to kill someone, or everyone dies. Although, unfortunately I just don’t think it was for me. I had trouble believing the overall “reveal” and like many of the other books I read this month — I didn’t love the way that it was written.

9.) If We Were Villains by M.L Rio

The last book I read this month is one I have been DYING to read. Following the 7 teens that make up the fourth years of a very prestigious Shakespearean theatre program. It goes back and forth between their 4th year and ten years in the future when one of the students is being released from jail, for murder. I really really enjoyed this one. It is so pretentious, but that’s something I really enjoy — so if you get annoyed at 21 year olds who quote Shakespeare in everyday conversations it’s not for you. I will also say that I started to read this one day, tried to stop, but then ended up staying up until 3am so I could read the whole thing. But if you don’t like Shakespeare, this is probably not for you.


So there we have it! the 9 books I read in March! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and healthy. If anything this is the best time for us to be turning to things like literature and film, as they help us escape the world outside.

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Looking Forward: Process Post #11

Today was our last PUB201 class, and to be honest I’m a bit sad. Publishing classes are always a fun and a highlight of my semesters — I mean today in our online lecture we started playing pictionary, what other class would that happen in?!

But alas, as it is the last class that does beg the question: where do we go from here?

for me, I’m looking forward to continuing this blog. Especially in a time like this I think not only those who pop in and read my posts need this — but so do I. It’s been so much fun to post different reviews, lists, and everything in between this past semester and I’m looking forward to continue to do so!

However, in the upcoming weeks I do have exams. And if I can’t focus on studying when I’m freakishly busy with work — how on earth am I going to be able focus when I literally have all the time in the world!? So, that being said, I will most likely be able to get back up and running some time after the 20th of April (my last exam).

I look forward to posting all the reviews (mainly books because literally every single new movie has been pushed back to the end of the year or 2021 🙁 ) While also using all the knowledge I have gained from this course. Including SEO, Google Analytics, and everything in between. I also look forward to taking more Publishing courses in the future, and most likely sticking a shiny Publishing minor alongside my English Major.

P.S — Thank you Suzanne and William!

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Motivation: Process Post #10

The other day I was talking to my friend over FaceTime. I said to her, “my TA wants us to post a response to the overall discussion question and then a another response to someone else in the class — I don’t have time for that!” To which she replied, “actually Emma, you literally have all the time.”

This was a moment when I really noticed the way that this change in pace has affected my motivation to complete school work. I literally have no excuses. I’m not going into work right now, so my usual excuse of having to teach kids dance from 3-6 Thursday through Sunday isn’t going to work when i’m not up to date with the many tasks I know i’m behind on. And I literally have all the resources I need in order to be the successful — ie: working computer, internet, food in a kitchen — and I’m very lucky for that. However, I did realize the other day (while trying to write I long paper in approximately 48 hours) that I have the most uncomfortable desk chair and will likely need to upgrade before my summer courses begin or my back WILL begin to resemble a cave man’s.

But anyways, I’m hoping that in the summer I will be able to motivate myself to keep up to date with my classes. I think (and i HOPE) it will be easier due mainly to the fact that those classes are always going to be online. What was most difficult these past few weeks was not just doing classes online, but the abrupt switch to online. I felt like I got whiplash going from a 3 hour lecture on film history to a short recorded lecture that my professor sent out.

So that being said, I’m hopeful for the coming months. And I hope that this all starts to settle down soon. Because if there’s one thing that’s not helping — it’s everyone freaking out.

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Imagine: Process Post #9

I’m not too sure if everyone has seen this, but last week actress Gal Gadot posted this video to her Instagram account. And it caused quite an uproar. I could see the sentiment behind it, but all in all I think it’s pretty cringey. Most people just asking: “what’s the point?” There was no charity attached to it, which could’ve to possibly encouraged people to donate to those in need — but it was instead a bunch of celebrities awkwardly singing Imagine by John Lennon horribly off key. Although, what it did do was make me interested in looking to see what different celebrities have been doing online. Not only trying to brighten people’s days, but helping charities as well. And two of the main things that stood out to me were: living room concerts and late night talk show hosts.

Living Room Concerts

“living room concerts” are simply celebrities (usually singers) posting videos on Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, or through live stream services where they perform different songs. While I’m not sure who did the first one ever, John Legend was one of the first big celebrities to do it. Doing an Instagram Live along with his wife Chrissy Teigan and their children. What’s interesting about this is that when John posted the video to his Instagram, he used the hashtag #togetherathome, tagged fellow musicians to do the same, as well as included links to the WHO (World Heath Organization) and this website. And what the website shows is a way in which they are getting different musicians to come together and encourage people to stay home — all through music.

Similarly I’ve been seeing videos on various different Broadway themed sites. As some of you might know, all of Broadway has shut down due to the virus. Thus resulting in thousands of Broadway performers (and those who work behind the scenes) without work. Sn Broadway.com’s youtube channel, they’ve been done a live show hosted by Rosie O’Donnell with numerous broadway guests — all to raise money for The Actor’s Fund! Similarly, Broadway World has been posting videos on their website and Instagram page of various Broadway performers doing living room concerts. And another one of my favourite things has been Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has been asking his Twitter followers to send songs they want him to play on the piano — all while sat in front of his beautiful and giant Cats oil painting! (another awesome charity is Broadway Cares, known for the Aid’s fun they regularly raise money for when shows are happening!!)

Late Night Talk Show Hosts

Now I’ll admit, one of my guilty pleasures is watching late night talk shows. I don’t watch them all the time, but I really enjoy some bits of Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon’s shows. And in this quarantine I’ve actually been tuning into Jimmy Fallon’s Youtube channel quite regularly, because he’s been doing The Tonight Show: Home Edition for the past few weeks. I believe Jimmy Kimmel was actually the first talk show host to do this, but I genuinely enjoy the way that Fallon has been running his show from home. He has his wife film (as well as not laugh at a single one of his jokes), and his two young daughters often steal the show — with an inability to listen to him, and the youngest always ending up climbing all over him. What I also really enjoy about Jimmy Fallon’s show is that they’ve been highlighting various charities throughout the episodes (on the first episode alone they have already raised over $53,000 dollars for Feeding America). So I think he’s done a really good job of not only continuing to entertain people, but bring awareness of what’s going on. [Seth Meyers, Conan, James Corden, & Stephen Colbert have also been doing at home episodes of their talk shows]


I think there’s quite a difference between the video Gal Gadot posted, and the one’s I’ve included here. I get what she was most likely going for, but it definitely didn’t have the same affect as these celebrities, who are coming together to bring awareness to not only the virus, but bringing help to those who have been affect most — all while continuing to do what they do best and entertain the general public.

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Eat | The Lockup

The Lockup is a reservation-based horror prison-themed all-you-can-eat restaurant that can be found in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. They have a lite 10 item menu, regular 150 items menu, seasonal menu, and occasionally collaboration menus with different artists. The restaurant holds the Monster show 3 times a day at the 18:30, 20:30 and 22:30, hence to not miss the show, I booked our table at 18:00.
[I apologize in advance for all the blurry pictures due to dark lighting]

The entrance of The Lockup

The Introduction

Our cell of the night

Before entering the restaurant, a staff approached me and my food buddies to confirm our reservation. Shortly after that, an announcement urged us to enter through the rear door. We were in an empty room with mirror walls. The light slowly dimmed to complete darkness, and suddenly the emergency alarm rang loudly. A door on the left opened up and a server dressed in a police costume was waiting for us. She asked what sin brought us to prison, and one of us said eating too much mochi. Then she guides us to our cell, with comfy sofa seats and a table inside. The whole restaurant is really dark with mere lightings just enough to see the person across the table.

After ordering our meals, we excitedly wait for our food when looking around like we have never been in a prison before (sadly none of us are criminals).

Main Course

Drink in IV bag

We ordered deep-fried chicken, pasta, fries, takoyaki, salad, potato wedges, rice, drinks, desserts and way more than I can remember. Everything tastes really good, but what’s better was the plating and garnishes. Drinks were put into IV bags, which you have to lift up the bag and drain the drink into a science lab beaker. Fries were put into a red envelope so you can shake and mix in the fries and spices. Sauces for pasta and deep-fried chicken are made into purplish pink colour, some hues that are too creepy for food. My favourite one is the Russian roulette takoyaki with one out of 6 pieces filled with deadly spicy sauce.

As we are happily enjoying our meal at peaceful times, the emergency alarm rang and announced that the top criminal at the prison has escaped! It’s the Monster show time! We did not ask for danger tapes on our cell door since we wanted the monsters to bang on our door and come inside to grab us. And luckily they did! One of them even sit next to me and invite me for a selfie!!!

Me on the left and the Monster prisoner on the right

It was a really fun time for all of us, and as I am writing this blog post I am also planning my next visit to The Lockup. Their food is really good and the overall atmosphere and show are very engaging. If you have a friend that screams for the least scary peekaboo pranks, bring him/her to this place cause it is going to bring you so much entertainment during the Monster Show (not saying I did, but you know, it was fun). Promise me to find some time to lock yourself up in your next Japan trip!

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The Power of FaceTime: Process Post #8

I’m an introvert. And so, I’m someone who usually prefers time to myself. So, if i’m being honest, self-isolating hasn’t been the most difficult thing for me to do. However, as the weeks go by, I have begun to get restless. As much as introverted people enjoy their time alone — that does not mean that we are all recluse. Some of the things I have enjoyed doing during my self-isolation is reading and watching movies, but I’ve also been FaceTiming my friends and family. I think I’ve used the FaceTime app on my phone more in the past couple week than I have in the however many years I’ve had an Apple device! (like 8 years?)

I live at home with my parents, but I have three older brothers who live with their significant others. Two of them live in Vancouver, while the eldest and his wife live in Toronto with my baby niece. And so, in order to talk to one another regularly, we’ve been having makeshift family dinners in order to connect with one another during quarantine (at about 3pm because of the Toronto/Vancouver time difference and because my niece eats at 6’clock). In some ways I would actually say that the virus is bringing us closer, as ironic as it might sound. I see the two brothers who live in Vancouver quite often — but I’m definitely not able to talk to the oldest as often. Although, through the power of the internet, we’re all able to check in on one another and make sure everyone is doing well — and it’s of course awesome to see my baby niece walking and “talking” (she has about two words in her vocabulary “light” and “hi”).

Alongside my family, I’ve been trying to stay in touch with my friends as well. One of my best friends and I would always meet up at SFU on Wednesdays, during a break we both had between classes. And so, even though we’re not in school, we’ve been facetiming at the same time! It’s not only nice to see my friend, but it still feels like I’m maintaining a part of my old routine.

So while I’m doing a lot of reading and watching a lot of movies, I’ll be honest and say that those are things I would always do during my free time. So, during this time, I’m also trying to keep in touch with those around me — and I’d suggest you all do the same!

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Week 13: Process Post

A part of me still can’t believe that we finally made it to the end of the semester alive (jokes of course). I thought that last semester felt like a lifetime when it slugged on by, but getting kicked out of school due to a lung-drowning virus made me realize how much I missed attending in-person classes, as online lectures really put a damper on self-isolation.

When Spring semester first started, Suzanne heavily encouraged the class to sign ourselves up to present our blogs to the class in the final week of classes. At first, I thought, “no way, I would never do that.” But as the weeks flew by, and I started posting regularly on YouTube and adding more bits and bobs to my website I realized that it was something that I did want to show the class. In the beginning, I was extremely nervous to see what everyone would think, but I realized that I share my life everywhere I go to a global audience, never once batting an eyelash if they saw what I was up to. So why did sharing it to the class seem so daunting?

It’s easy to share your life online- every photo you’ve ever taken was taken in the past, every video you’ve ever filmed was filmed in the past, it seems as if nothing is ever really happening in the moment anymore. It’s easy to feel your best when you’re posting a stock photo of yourself dressed to the nines while you’re at home in your bed with a facemask on shoveling ice cream into your mouth. In a way, I felt that if I presented my website to others I’d be exposing myself as someone who doesn’t capture things in the moment, but at the end of the day that’s what I wanted, I wanted people to get a real glimpse of these fake lives we make up. I’m not saying my life is a complete figment, but I definitely don’t look like how I do on Instagram everyday. I’ve struggled a lot with branding as well as expanding my brand since I’m the literal face of it, worried that if I change one little thing that people won’t resonate with it the same way. 

I realized on a bus ride home from PUB 201 that I was going to present my brand to the class because I was proud of what I was doing and that I wanted to be the one to show others that although I created this extravagant life for myself that I was still me at the end of the day. 

When we post, we let the content speak for itself rather than using our own words. People can never really get to know who you really are when you don’t explain who you are and from what I’ve learnt over the last 13 weeks is that people want to see who people really are behind the cameras and filters. I’ve always wanted to inspire others, so ideally the only thing standing in the way of me and my presentation was myself.

Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of the virus we are unable to present our sites in-person, however after doing many peer-reviews and attending tutorials I’ve found that every person in our class has something that they should be proud of. If we all signed off of social media and banded together to share what we’ve been working on all term then I think all of us would’ve felt confident enough to present because there is an unbelievable amount of talent in that room that just wasn’t ready to speak up about it. 

Blog Post #24: Author Appreciation (Installment #5)

ca. 1930s-1940s — Laura Ingalls Wilder Signing Book — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Photo courtesy of time.com

Hello lovelies! Its another author appreciation post! This week I thought I’d talk about someone whom I’ve admired since I was a little girl. The author for this next installment is…Laura Ingalls Wilder!

She’s most well-known for writing the Little House on the Prairie book series, which were based on her life growing up in the late 1800s. I was introduced to these titles by my mother and just loved the stories ever since. History, especially around the time Wilder lived, has always been an interest of mine. I remember eagerly opening the first book, Little House in the Big Woods and I couldn’t put it down. Overall, I adored her vibrance, spunk and fun-loving personality throughout the series. Reading them further gave me a vivid glimpse into what life was like back then. Although Wilder highlighted both the difficulties her family faced and happier moments, it made me truly appreciate the opportunities that I have currently as someone living in the 21st century.

Discussing this era makes me want to go back to being an 8-year-old when I found out that the series was created into a very successful TV show, starring Melissa Gilbert. Little House on the Prairie also became one of my favourite programs. I was amazed by every aspect of the show including how well every actor portrayed the individuals Wilder incorporated. If she were alive today I would definitely try reaching out and tell her how much Little House on the Prairie meant to my younger self and even now. I without a sliver of doubt consider Wilder a public figure who has had a major impact on the cultural landscape. She was a force to be reckoned with.

Calling all the big history buffs out there like me who have not done so already: I highly recommend you check out Laura Ingalls Wilder and her work.

Challenge Accepted

This week, instead of writing to you from the comforts of my dimly lit dorm room, I’m coming to you from the confines of my childhood bedroom, only about 5.5 hours away with the Georgia Straight being the only thing separating us. Amidst this unique time, I’ve found that over the past week being adaptable is not only a huge part of our lives (yours and mine included) generally speaking, but equally huge part of being creative. To come full circle here, I need to jump through a few hoops and bounds so bare with me as I swear that I have a term worthy ending for you. 

I’m currently enrolled in an upper division Communications course that focuses primarily on sound engineering, putting a critical lens on the history and relevance of podcasts in particular. When I first read the syllabus in January- which seems like a lifetime ago, I was well aware that I’d be handing in a 5-10 minute podcast as my term project worthy of a heavty 30% contribution to my final grade in the course. 

About four weeks ago, my prof David decided (on the fly) that conducting an interview within our podcast was no longer optional, but mandatory. Given the time frame, this was prior to the University shutting down as the severity of COVID-19 ramped up. Within a week of his firm decision, five out of the thirty five of us attended our last in-person lecture and since then, all of us have been now working online to complete the course. Nearly two weeks ago now, David sent us an email to see how we were all doing on our projects. Upon opening the email, I assumed that he would be extremely lenient with our “mandatory interview” or even axxex it, but he didn’t. Instead, he wrote and I quote, “we need to be imaginative about how we respond to our situation.” With the world going into toilet paper bankruptcy, I thought that David would have  been without-a-doubt more understanding of our situation. In hindsight he was, I just couldn’t see it yet.

All during this time period, I planned on staying at the SFU campus until my scheduled move out date (April 26th), and then moving to my grandparents house for the rest of the summer. However, like many things in life, that didn’t go to plan or even remotely so.

I found myself arguing back and forth with my parents on where I’d be staying and for how long, each phone call ending without an exchange of goodbyes, but with the sound of the call being cut in one of my ears. Ideally, this virus and other viral pandemics in the past have been an occurrence that I and many others have been lucky enough to have not yet experienced in their lifetime. I’m completely guilty of underestimating this virus. Like many others, I can’t comprehend what it means for the future, not just my future or your future, but the future of the human race. It sounds extreme when I type it out, but since COVID-19 is unlike any other past pandemic, nobody is really sure what tomorrow will bring. In my mind, it was easier to think about tomorrow being a better day, but with each tomorrow things actually haven’t been getting any better. Due to its increasing severity, my parents made the final decision to bring me home to Vancouver Island. 

At the end of that phone call, my heart started rapidly beating as I saw the life I built for myself flash before my eyes. All I could think was, “How am I going to create from there?” As all of my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals are located in the city, I felt like I was nothing without them. Going back to the island felt like I was being exiled…banished…annexed from everything that I had built within the last year. BUT, at the same time I was having my little meltdown (trust me, I realize how ridiculous I was being), the ENTIRE population was experiencing the exact same feelings as I was. 

As my mom and I drove down the mountain onto Hastings Street- which is my most well known street thanks to the R5, I had a crystal clear view of the city. Since I was a little kid, Vancouver has always held a special place in my heart. I visited lots as my grandparents live there, always having so many things to see and do whenever I wanted, it was so unlike living in a small town. Although it’s true about what they say, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but it was undeniable that the city offered more opportunities than that of a small town. To this day, my eyes still widen in awe as I’m greeted by the city as it’s always been a place where I’ve dreamt of living. In that moment my heart started to tremble as I realized that living in Vancouver was the one thing I had never once taken for granted, and I believe that’s why leaving hurt so unbelievably bad. We drove and drove and drove as the signs passed us, it was as if every first memory I ever experienced at those places started flashing through my mind one by one. It really put things into perspective for me as to how much I’ve come to grow and love the life that I’ve built for myself out here. My heart started pounding a little less, and it made the hurt go away. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a goodbye forever but merely a heartfelt, “see you when I see you.”

As my journey continued back to the westend of the coastline, I checked my phone notifications. I had about 15+ missed messages from my CMNS 357 group chat about our individual podcasts- the three of them were debating whether or not they should complete the final assignment. One of them said that they were willing to nix the assignment completely taking an overall pass with 60% (due to our circumstances, this was approved by SFU as a “P” grade) as we no longer had access to a professional sonic studio, the other one was saying that we should complete our podcast for David (as he’s our homie and has been extremely good to all of us), and the last one admitted that they were too lazy to even bother with the assignment.

As I read the incoming messages I realized that my theory about the island being the reason why I lose my creative touch was just about as backwards as my classmates debating our final assignment. After that, I stopped asking myself, “why…”

“Why didn’t David excuse the interview from our term project?”

“Why did COVID-19 have to banish me back to Vancouver Island and ruin my creative streak?”

…and I started asking myself what. 

Specifically, what I was going to do, not only to produce a term-worthy podcast (with an interview) but to remind myself and my classmates that we as individuals were the only thing we needed to be creative.

In the very first lecture for this class, David said, “the podcast is one of the oldest acoustic artefacts to date, and yet still remains, and continues to grow in popularity.” He encouraged us to think outside of the box and told us that this virus was an even greater reason to go above and beyond, to show him that not only could we use the software, but we could use it in a way that told a story- a human like experience. And this is exactly the state of mind I have when I create, limits don’t exist, COVID-19 can’t and won’t stop me from being creative. Yes, It can take me out of Vancouver, it can take me away from the skyscrapers and the urban landscape, and it can take me away from my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals, but what it can’t do is take me away from being creative. I mean unless I actually am unfortunate enough to catch the virus… but for the purposes of this story, the only thing that can stop me from being creative is myself. 

And then the aching stopped, and I realized how happy I was to be home, with my family, and most importantly in a safe space rather than being cooped up in my dorm room for the next however long.

Creating content out of the island is something I haven’t done before (at the level I’m currently producing content at now), but I’m willing to accept the challenge. As a creative you need to be adaptable, and since my brand is myself, it shouldn’t be too hard bringing that with me unless I stop myself.

I picked up my phone and began hastily typing back to classmates. I’m glad that I could not only get them to reconsider their assignment for David (he really is a homie), but more importantly, for themselves. We don’t need access to sonic studios to create term worthy podcasts, and I don’t need Vancouver to keep creating. Instead we need to focus on telling meaningful stories that encapsulate human-like experiences that relate with our listeners, which believe me can be done with all but the very devices we hold so dear. I hold every ability to create within the palm of my hand, and so do you. 

So what’s stopping you?

Process Post #11: Podcasts, Online Audio, and Games

This past week, Suzanne discussed effective blogging practices and provided insight as well as relevant statistics regarding what the general public looks for in a blog. She mentions how they are no longer just spaces that have blocks of text, but rather, websites possessing other engaging elements to them. Podcasting, for example, has proven to be a great way to connect with your audience. Suzanne also, however, elaborates on both undertakings possessing their corresponding opportunities and drawbacks.

There was additionally a discussion how “online audio” has surged in popularity, with millions of people around the world listening to podcasts (Norman, 2020). Suzanne shared some recording and editing software we can maneuver should we consider doing so. Smart speakers are also highly utilized tools and examples would be “Amazon’s Alexa” and “Google Home” (Norman, 2020). I personally listen to a podcast on a regular basis but never imagined producers/hosts using these kinds of speakers. Evidently, if I were to feature a podcast, it would most likely include interviewing people about books that have inspired them or had a significant impact on their lives.

 Amazon further uses the term “skills,” meaning “apps” (Norman, 2020). They have templates allowing people to make the desired content or “skill” and add it to a database, where other individuals are able to stream them, which I was completely unaware of until now.

Then, Suzanne gave us step-by-step instructions for creating “skills,” like games, through “Alexa Skills Blueprints,” a platform that does not need code (Norman, 2020). I think this could potentially be the next recurring aspect of Four Purple Walls. I have been exploring different channels I believe the audience will find interesting. I do want them to experience a more interactive side with my brand and what the following steps may encompass when going about achieving this feat are, initially, generating more creative ideas that involve means such as Alexa Skills Blueprints. Overall, I am very excited to investigate the many possibilities that I can incorporate onto my blog after the semester concludes.

References

Norman, S. (2020). Beyond Blogs [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from: SFU Canvas.

Week 12: Process Post

Since technology has continued to ramp up over the years, bloggers have expanded their sites and adopted other platforms to deliver content to their audience. Bloggers have had to adapt their content based on the way their viewers consume content as other platforms have overgrown in popularity in comparison to blogs. 

In my case, I’m primarily passionate about creating photos and videos for my audience and spend most of my time developing that part of my brand. However, my blog came in handy as it was a place where my audience could get to know a little bit more about me. My blog gives my audience complete access to my portfolio which contains photos that may have never been released on my Instagram, as well as every hyperlink to the videos I’ve created and posted on YouTube along with the creative reasoning behind them. My blog is primarily a way for me to tell a real life story from a written point of view.

On Instagram, I would normally let my photos speak for themselves as the platform focuses primarily on static visuals. On YouTube, I’m allowed to fully explain my creative concepts to my viewers, which for me is the rawest form of content I’ve ever created as I’m able to capture my voice and my thoughts in the very second they’re taking place. I’ve found that my blog has basically allowed me to tie my two other main platforms together into one. 

In the next few months I hope to start working on a podcast as I’ve always been interested in sound engineering and have taken many classes in that field. However, for myself, I’d primarily use a podcast to tell the same story that I would write on my blog but use a platform that allows my viewers to listen rather than read. Personally, I would much rather watch a video that implements both audio and visuals rather than just using audio but I’m still interested in giving it a shot.

Although the example I’m using isn’t a blog, I thought it was relatively interesting how popular magazine Bon Appétit implements brand extensions to their site. 

I had originally heard of Bon Appétit through their YouTube channel which gives viewers a step by step walkthrough, teaching them to cook extravagant dishes. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I found out that Bon Appétit actually originated as American food and entertainment magazine. After checking out their website, I found that Bon Appétit runs a podcast or “Foodcast” as they call it, interviewing chefs, writers and anyone else who has something to say about food. Bon Appétit has also created the brand extension Healthish, which focuses on providing healthy alternatives to people and Basically, which provides a written step-by-step guide to cooking. When Editor in Chief, Adam Rapoport (2019) was asked what Bon Appétit was, he said that it’s, “whatever you want it to be. Even a magazine.” 

References

Rapoport, A. (2019, March 26). Bon Appétit Used to Just Be a Magazine. Not Anymore. Retrieved from https://www.bonappetit.com/story/not-just-magazine

Small Town Living with Uptown Dreams

As the days go by, I’m finding myself in a love-hate relationship with this self-isolation thing. On one hand, a part of me is frustrated that I’m being cooped up inside, forced to sit and relax and the other part of me is stoked that I finally get some time to catch up on the hundred and one things I’ve been putting off. I’m torn.

Prior to the world being taken over by COVID-19, I used to meet up with local photographers and creatives on a weekly basis, all while taking a full academic schedule, making time to hang out with my friends, making sure I went to the gym everyday and forcing myself to get a reasonable amount of sleep every night. I have to hand it to myself, for the first time I was actually balancing my life pretty well (the best I ever had), but now I worry that with all this free time on my hands I might not be as productive as I used to be. I’m a very scheduled person, I need tasks and directions to fully function because without those I find that I have no purpose. However, I’ve decided to look at this situation as optimistically as I possibly can.

A part of me is actually really excited to take some time off to teach myself the things that I never had time to do like, learning how to play the ukulele again or the piano, I want to get back into working on flair (practice of bartenders entertaining guests), but I also want to continue expanding my brand in the ways I never could. Primarily speaking, I want to direct my focus from Instagram and bring it towards building an audience on TikTok as well as YouTube. I also want to reach out to local brands based both in Tofino and Vancouver in order to collaborate with them in the near future. And lastly, I have massive plans for my blog! Since this has been a space that I originally built for school, I am actually quite interested in moulding it into my own little space as I’ve found some free time. Generally speaking, I’m thinking I want to redesign it entirely, keeping the same colour palette but adding more to the menu, like an advice column and content not just relating to modelling, photography and videography but rather to beauty, health and aesthetics. 

I really want to take this time to reflect on all that I’ve done but at the same time continuing to stay positive and optimistic towards the future. Ideally, I’m really trying to focus on building a true fan base and increasing my viewership based on what I stand for rather than just what I create. My main goal is to start building a community of like-minded people who not only come to see what I create, but get inspired to create themselves. 

Although I’m incredibly heartbroken that I’m no longer living in Vancouver for the time being, I’ve realized that the city didn’t give me all the tools I needed to create, I already had all the tools I needed to create, I just needed to figure that out for myself. 

Even though it’s back to small town living for me, I promise you that I’m never going to forget my uptown dreams. 

Movie Series to Marathon Now: Self-isolation Recommendations

If you haven’t already, now is the time to revisit your favourite movie series — or discover new ones you haven’t seen before. And if you can’t think of any films, I’m here to give you EIGHT series that you can marathon — as well as the number of hours it will take you to watch them all. Since these are all quite long lists, I will be linking the Rotten Tomatoes collections to make linking much easier for me. So, you’re interested in watching any of these films — just click the links and you’ll find every one!


1.) Star Wars (25hrs)

To me, this is one of the obvious ones. Although, there are a couple ways that you can watch these films. There is release date order — and timeline order. If you have never seen a Star Wars film in your life — I would suggest watching in release date order (option A). However, you also have the option of watching them chronologically (option B). Which would be when each film takes place over the timeline of all Star Wars films.

Option A.) RELEASE DATE ORDEROption B.) CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Episode 4: A New HopeEpisode 1: The Phantom Menace
Episode 5: Empire Strikes BackEpisode 2: Attack of the Clones
Episode 6: Return of the JediEpisode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Episdoe 1: The Phantom MenaceSolo: A Star Wars Story
Episode 2: Attack of the ClonesRogue One: A Star Wars Story
Episode 3: Revenge of the SithEpisode 4: A New Hope
Episode 7: The Force AwakensEpisode 5: Empire Strikes Back
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryEpisode 6: Return of the Jedi
Episode 8: The Last JediEpisode 7: The Force Awakens
Solo: A Star Wars StoryEpisode 8: The Last Jedi
Episode 9: The Rise of SkywalkerEpisode 9: The Rise of Skywalker

I’ve chosen to not include the many animated TV shows, because that would just further complicate things (this article places each show in the chronologic order). However, if you’re watching on Disney+ I would suggest adding in the live action show The Mandalorian (in option A it would go between Solo and Ep.9, and option B between Ep. 6 and 7). It’s not necessarily essential to the overlying plot of Star Wars, but the show is so good (and that’s not just because of Baby Yoda!)

Image from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

2.) The Lord of The Rings (9hrs 18mins or 18hrs 3mins)

To me, the first series that comes to mind when I think movie marathon is Lord of the Rings. Similarly to Star Wars — you also have a couple viewing order options:

Option A.) RELEASE ORDEROption B.) CHRONOLOGIC ORDEROption C.) SHORT CUT
LOTR: The Fellowship of the RingThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two TowersThe Desolation of SmaugThe Two Towers
Return of the KingThe Battle of the Five ArmiesReturn of the King
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey The Fellowship of the Ring
The Desolation of SmaugThe Two Towers
he Battle of the Five ArmiesReturn of the King

Having seen all three painfully long Hobbit movies in theatres, I don’t think they’re necessary viewing. They’re nowhere near as good and impressive as the LOTR, but they do provide context to the story as a whole so if you don’t mind the extra 9 hours— watch them. 


Thankfully the rest of the movies on this list don’t have complicated viewing orders — so you would just watch the following series in release date order!


3.) Harry Potter (21hrs 52mins)

Another series that comes to my mind almost instantly when I think of marathoning is Harry Potter. And one of my favourite things about watching them one after the other is that way in which you not only watch the story develop — but the actors grow! It’s also cool because the movies were being filmed as the books were coming out — so no one really knew the fate of their characters! 

4.) The Hunger Games (9hrs 8mins)

A personal favourite of mine — but definitely not one that many people think about. The Hunger Games is (i think) one of the very few successful YA book adaptations, especially with the second movie Catching Fire (which is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen). The Hunger Games are very close to my heart so I find it very difficult to not just ramble on and on about them, so just watch them. 

Image from The Hunger Games

5.)The Twilight Saga (10hrs 11mins)

Now, the Twilight movies are nowhere near as good as the other movies I’ve mentioned in this list. However, they are extremely entertaining. And so, I still decided to include them on this list (and they also have the best soundtracks ever, so listen to those afterwards!)

6.) Blade Runner & Blade Runner 2049 (4hrs 39mins)

Now I will admit that this is less of a marathon and more of a double feature. If you have only seen Blade Runner 2049 I would highly suggest watching the original one and then follow up with the sequel. And if you’ve only ever seen the original — watch 2049, the only thing you’ll be disappointed about is the fact that you didn’t see it in theatres!

7.) MCU / X-MEN (50hrs 3mins or 24hrs 26mins OR 74hrs 29mins)

So, I kinda lied when I said that none of the other series on this list would have complicated viewing orders — but I wanted to save the biggest marathon for last. Yes, every single movie in the MCU. I’m sure there are many people who did this before Endgame came out last year. However, if you weren’t one of those people — now’s your time! Similarly to my first few picks on this list, you have a 2 options for watching these films. 

Option A.) RELEASE DATE ORDEROption B.) CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Iron ManCaptain America: The First Avenger
The Incredible HulkCaptain Marvel
Iron Man 2Iron Man
ThorIron Man 2
Captain America: The First AvengerThe Incredible Hulk
The AvengersThor
Iron Man 3The Avengers
Thor: The Dark WorldIron Man 3
Captain America: The Winter Solider Thor: The Dark World
Guardians of the Galaxy Captain America: The Winter Solider
Avengers: Age of UltronGuardians of the Galaxy
Ant-ManGuardians of the Galaxy Vol.2
Captain America: Civil WarAvengers: Age of Ultron
Doctor StrangeAnt-Man
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2Captain America: Civil War
Spider-Man: HomecomingSpider-Man: Homecoming
Thor: Ragnarok Doctor Strange
Black Panther Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity WarThor: Ragnarok
Ant-Man & The WaspAvengers: Infinity War
Captain Marvel Ant-Man And The Wasp
Avengers: EndgameAvengers: Endgame
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSpider-Man: Far From Home
Image from Marvel’s The Avengers
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
X-Men
X2: X-Men United
X-men: The Last Stand
The Wolverine
Deadpool
Deadpool 2
Logan

However, if you want to spice things up — you can add the X-men films onto your marathon. They aren’t part of the MCU, and don’t coincide with any of the events in those films — but this is the order in which you can watch those:

However! These films are not simple either! There are some alternate timelines in these films and thus different viewing orders because certain movies aren’t included in each timeline. if you want to know more, and perhaps watch the films accordingly, I would suggest reading this article (because I don’t have the time to explain the different timelines because it is confusing). 

And lastly, as you might’ve noticed, I didn’t include the many Marvel TV shows that have happened on various networks (Netflix, Hulu, FX). I didn’t include them because it’s somewhat unclear if they are all canon or not — so, if you want to watch those too, I’d suggest reading this article as it places them all in the MCU timeline.


So there we have it! Plenty of movies to keep you occupied throughout the rest of this quarantine! Some of these are nice and simple marathons, and some will take DAYS, so prepare yourself! and stock up on snacks while you can.

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A Spoonful of Vanilla Helps the Medicine Go Down! Peer Review #3

For my third (and final!) peer review I am going to be looking at the blog of Christina from A Spoonful of Vanilla

A Spoonful of Vanilla is a blog filled with recipes everyone and anyone can try at home — giving us recipes that are also vegan and gluten free ones too! With a simplistic and minimal theme, what really stands out and draws you in are the photos. The baked goods she makes stand out against the white background and almost beg you to try and make them yourself. And while each photo is of a different baked good — they all fit together cohesively to push the aesthetic of her blog as a whole. And that is seen even more so when you look at her instagram — made easily accessible through both the side bar and icon in the upper left corner. Her Instagram is filled with just as many photos of delicious looking treats. Baking is inherently visual, and so I think instagram is a great social media app to use alongside the blog. Because If you see a photo of a delicious looking cake on instagram, and the caption says: “there’s a simple recipe for this in the link in my bio” — I’m going to click the link! I also think this minimalistic theme makes it look very professional and clean — two things you definitely want from a baker!

One of my favourite features of this blog is that on each recipe you can easily adjust the serving size — which would make it about 100% easier to double or halve the recipe if you wanted to. And if you’ve tried to halve a recipe, you would probably know that it’s not as easy as it may seem! Each recipe also clearly shows the amount of servings it will make, the difficulty of the recipe, prep time, baking time, and then the complete time in which it will take you to complete the recipe! I really appreciate that this is at the top of the recipe — because it helps to know right away if you even have time to make something, or if it is easy enough for an amateur like me to do! 

Alongside her recipes Christina also sells her baked goods. This is easily noted by her “orders & pricing” tab at the top of her blog. And she clearly states that she works in a peanut-free kitchen— which is great. However, this feels much more like a blog — with a business on the side. Rather than a baking business — with a blog on the side. A suggestion I have is altering the bio on the right sidebar. And perhaps saying “I’m a baked based out of Vancouver, BC etc etc.” Which I think would put the business aspect front and centre! I also think adding an about me page could similarly help and make the site feel more personable — thus making customers feel like they know who’s making their cookies!

Other than that Christina has an extremely cohesive blog. It is clear that it’s about baking, and the mix of visuals and text are perfectly balanced. One of my hobbies I’ve begun to adopt in the last few weeks of quarantine is baking, so I’m hoping to try some of Christina’s recipes soon! 

you can find a spoonful of vanilla and Christina’s recipes here

The post A Spoonful of Vanilla Helps the Medicine Go Down! Peer Review #3 appeared first on [NOT SO] ELOQUENT EMMA .

Process Post | Beyond Blog

Reading about artificial intelligence (AI), I began to think of ways to implement this technology into my blog. One way is to import an AI chatbot app into my WordPress template and start an automatic reply chat area for readers. There several plugins to choose from including Botsify, Chatfuel, Flow XO, Landbot.io, Hubspot, Collect.chat and more. With plenty of YouTube tutorial videos available and my basic coding skills, I think it will be easy to manage.

The overall flow of the chatbot experience would be first greeting the audiences, like “Welcome to my blog! Are you looking for…”, then let them choose the pre-programmed choice of “Travel”, “Restaurant” or “Information”. Each choice will correspond to “Travel with Me”, “Eat with Me” and “Learn with Me” section of the blog. After choosing from these categories, readers will type keywords of what they are looking for and related articles will be listed. For example, if a visitor chose “Restaurant”, then typed the keyword “fish”, it will bring them to a result with restaurants that have fish dishes. In my current blog it will be the “Eat | Zauo Main Store”, “Eat | Umeyama Teppei Shokudou” and “Eat | Kane Hannosuke” posts.

Another feature can be having a “Knowledge of the day” selection within the chatbot. This will generate a result of a randomly picked post from the “Learn from Me” section. This function encourages audiences to check out different types of posts that they might not have thought of, but interested to read once provided.

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Travel | Akihabara: Non-maid Cafes

In the centre of Tokyo, there is a famous otaku camp that houses all kinds of Japanese pop-cultures, aka Akihabara. There are tones of manga shops, gaming stores, anime figures showrooms and much more in the area. A really popular concept store that attracts a lot of tourists is the maid cafe, which I guess you have already heard of and got tired of it. Therefore, in this article, I will introduce 2 non-maid cafes that are even more attractive.

Shinobuza Cafe

Shinobuza Cafe staff

Shinobuza Cafe (n) is a ninja-themed cafe with all waitresses dressed up in cute and sexy ninja costumes. Similar to maid cafes, they serve their customers as “prince/mister” or “princess/mistress”. The interior design of the store is based on traditional Japanese style, bringing customers back in time to the Edo period. Other than the food and drinks catalogue, there are some wondrous items in the service menus such as shuriken throwing experience, flame torching with a ninja staff, wood board breaking performances and more. There is also an intriguing service item to let a ninja staff remove the cover and show her face under the mask. Ninja costume rental is also available on request, so you can wear a twin outfit with the staff!

NEWTYPE

NEWTYPE staff

NEWTYPE, in my humble opinion, is the most interesting cafe out of all. It features male staff, or transvestite, who enjoy dressing in clothes appropriate to the opposite sex. They look just like any other girls with long hair and makeup dressed in a one-piece, yet, as they approach and begin to talk, yup, they are guys. The overall atmosphere and service is comparable to a gay bar but more interesting and relaxed. This is absolutely the place to go to if you are into the transvestite culture.

PS: To all the girls out there, don’t feel bad about how the guy staffs looking prettier than you when they crossdress, all we treasure is inner beauty. 🙂

Rules and Manners

Whenever I am travelling, I want to take a selfie with everything I see, post too many Instagram stories that annoy my friends and experience the stupidest thing like toilets that automatically opens up when you step nearby. However, when visiting a maid cafe or any concept cafe with similar services, there are a few rules we need to keep in mind.

  1. Do not take unauthorized photography of the maid in the store. They charge for photos, so you are stealing their business by taking your own picture.
  2. Any threats, including loud interrogation, are not allowed. Please be nice to everyone!
  3. No shouting of offensive statements is allowed. So if you are in the emergency to read out the F word, do it quietly so it is not disturbing other customers.
  4. Try not to repeat the same request over and over again when the staffs are busy. It only makes them anxious and makes you annoyed.
  5. Do not ask private or personal questions. And do not threaten them by telling them you know about their personal life.
  6. Do not exchange contact for dating purposes, and do not wait for or stalk staff when they are off work.
  7. No body contact is allowed. Not their hands, not their hair, not their clothes. No touchy touchy!
  8. Do not visit the store when drunk or feel uncomfortable.

Maid cafe and concept cafes is always interesting to visit especially when you find one that matches with your own hobbies. I obviously will visit NEWTYPE the next time I go to Tokyo and will write all full review on one of my eat with me posts. I am looking forward to it!!

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Peer Review Three

The site that I am reviewing this week is Marylou Villegas’s blog (http://marylouvillegas.com/). Marylou Villegas is a singer, songwriter and a silver award Youtuber with more than 100,000 followers. This blog is another platform for her to share her creativity and build up her brand.

The site has several compelling and recognizable branding elements, including the harmonious theme colours of natural earthy wood tones, warm white, browns and black. The consistent use of fairy light is also very interesting, giving visitors a more memorizable first impression. 

Marylou is doing a great job in terms of monetization as YouTube offers financial awards for successful YouTubers like her. She also has a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify account, allowing audiences to subscribe to her regular content updates. I believe that the major focus of Marylou is her YouTube channel since it is the platform that generates the most revenue. Other social media, including this blog, are some platforms for her to attract more subscribers and more importantly, maintain interactions with her current fan base. 

In the second peer review, Marylou was recommended to decrease the size of some header images to reduce scrolls. I believe that she implemented this suggestion as no big image header is found on the contact and PUB201 page. Content on the “Home” page and “About” page can be reached within 1 scroll, which works perfectly well. The second suggestion from the peer review for Marylou is to be more active on social media, which I definitely agree with. Knowing that her Instagram account has the biggest follow comparing to other social media, I would recommend an update on Instagram at least once a week and once a month for other platforms. This will keep her subscribers engaged and maintain a closer relationship. Marylou surely has her own style when it comes to posting videos and creating content, which explains how she made it into such great success. Yet, after browsing through the YouTube channel, I feel like I would also want to see more about her personal life, or maybe some processes behind all the creative works. These contents might be a good fit for platforms outside of YouTube.

I really enjoyed Marylou’s blog and her skillful use of all social media platforms. She is pursuing her YouTube business into the next level and expanding through all types of media. I really look forward to her next YouTube video!

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Peer Review #3

Hi Zeh,

Upon first glance at your website, I absolutely fell head over heels in LOVE with the photo on your homepage!

As far as I can tell, you’ve decided not to monetize your site, and in my personal opinion I think this was a good call. As I also work within the same industry as you do, I’ve noticed that many of the photographers I work with prefer to keep their websites clean of ads, but rather pay to promote their work on Instagram and Facebook. Not only do you get to keep your website ad-free (letting photos speak for themselves), but there are much higher amounts of traffic on social platforms with better ways to share and link back to your brand.

Your work is incredibly clean, which is reflected through your creative eye straight back onto your website. According to your “About” section, you mentioned that you were “moving into the brave new world of freelancing.” I’m not sure if you haven’t put your rates down on your site because you haven’t figured them out yet or if you’re just focussing on building your portfolio for the time being. Either way, you have a wide range of talent when shooting from behind the lens as you’ve dabbled in shooting urban landscapes, street photography, portraits as well as nature. I personally suggest that you check out a group on Facebook called, “604 Vancouver Models & Photographers!” Not only are you encouraged to share your work, but it’s a great place to get advice as well as begin your freelancing career. As someone who has worked in the creative industry, freelancing is a really great way to meet people and network. The connections you build are priceless as acquiring a list of contacts could potentially help you down the road for bigger projects you might want to work on.

According to your last peer review done by Katie (2020), her only critique was to “create a warmer space” as she thought your site came across as very cold. This really boils down to your own preferred taste, after looking through your Instagram feed (which is beautiful), you seem to go for an incredibly minimalistic vibe letting your audience make meaning out of your work (@zeh_d, 2020). You’re an artist in your own way, so your minimal website shows me as a viewer that your work is very minimalistic as well. I personally like the cold, gloomy aesthetic. However, I do think you could benefit by implementing more storytelling on your site as I really got to know who you were and how you found photography from the story you told in your About section. Storytelling will not only tell your viewers who you are, but how you feel when you take your photos which can build a sense of emotional connectedness for your viewers (Sherret, 2012).

Overall, your site presents a compelling brand, but not a clear persuasive business strategy. However, as I am someone of the demographic you’re targeting, I’m most definitely inclined to engage in a call-to-action. The only suggestion I have for you is to clean up your menus! I would personally remove your “Home” menu as when you click on your logo/title it already takes you to your home page. I would also move the, “PUB 201” category to the end of your menus and remove your “Instagram” menu as you already showcase it on your website respectively. 

Great work,

Tyler

References

Daruwalla, Z. (2020). Analog Analogous. Retrieved from http://analoganalogous.ca/

Sherrett, M. (2012). “Storytelling for Business.” Retrieved from http://www.boxcarmarketing.com/storytelling-for-business-do-you-have-a-story-to-tell

Watson, K. (2020). Peer Review Two. Retrieved from https://katiedoeskards.com/pub201/peer-review-two/

Zeh_d. (2020, Feb 26). DAMAGED PT.1… [Instagram Post]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B9DXM2xhifC/

Blog Post #23: The Nest Review

Hi everybody! I hope you all are finding ways to be productive while remaining in isolation. This week’s review is on The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

The Nest is about the hilariously dysfunctional Plumb family who are awaiting the fate of a trust fund following their father’s death. As they anxiously watch its worth increase in correspondence to the stock market, Sweeney takes the readers on the journeys of each sibling during this crazy time. From Leo, the eldest brother, recklessly getting himself into a car accident a few months prior, subsequently placing the fund at risk, and Melody, dealing with a mortgage as well as future tuition fees for her two teenaged girls, to Jack, making a huge decision that would keep his antique shop running but may destroy his two-decade long marriage, and Beatrice, experiencing extreme writer’s block who can’t finish a novel she’s been working on, the story showcases how finances put the relationships between people closest to one another to the test.

Sweeney also designates various sections focusing on specific members of the siblings’ own families. For example, Louisa, Melody’s daughter, deals with an all-too familiar challenge of trying to figure out which post-secondary institution to attend after high school. Also, Walker, Jack’s husband, does quite a bit of reflecting throughout the book.

I remember when I first sat down to read The Nest. I was so captivated by all the characters that I just couldn’t put it down. One of the main messages I took away is how money can evidently bring out the worst in people. But sometimes seeing how they react to difficult circumstances is necessary to know if your relationship with them should continue on as it always has or even if the person is right for your life, period. The outcome might be heartbreaking, but a necessary step towards taking the best courses of action.

Overall, I thought this title was absolutely fantastic. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is an incredible author who really digs deep into the challenges each character faces and created story as engrossing as they come. I hope to read more of her work soon.

Process Post #10: Taking another look at Google Analytics and learning about SEO

This week, Dr. Norman went into further detail regarding Google Analytics. She provided us with additional resources to help us learn more about it as well as explained how to access them. I was unaware these resources were available and really appreciated the time that she took during lecture going over the different demos, free courses, etc.

She also introduced the acronym “SEO,” which stands for “Search Engine Optimization” (Norman, 2020). When undertaking SEO, one of the main goals is having one’s site appear as close as possible to the top results when individuals are using key words to search for content, on platforms such as Google, directly related to yours. Overall, the ideal outcome is that it appears on the first page of the search results; however, if not, possibly “higher up in the search rankings” (Norman, 2020). In an informative video Dr. Norman shows, Common Craft (2011) explains using basic, analogous terms that search engines including “Google and bing are” like the “librarians of the internet” as they gather “information from every page” to assist people in “what they are looking for.” SEO essentially emphasizes improved visibility and truly knowing what makes your website/blog stand out compared to everyone else.

Dr. Norman then described the most crucial factors when discussing the most effective SEO practices, a factor in particular that I found interesting was “references to reliable sources” (Norman, 2020). The best way to go about doing so is to incorporate links to external, “primary sources” that do not compete with your brand. I am interested in taking a closer look at these strategies and plan to conduct research on how I can make use of the opportunity. MozBar Chrome Extension, furthermore, is an insightful tool because it possesses an analytical aspect, generating quantifiable data that allows its users to gain significant insight relating to SEO. I believe encompassing linking to other pages will initiate a more engaging viewer-experience as well and I look forward to creating this experience in the near future.

References

Common Craft. [Search Engine Land]. (2011, September 12). What Is Search Engine Optimization/SEO [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF515-0Tduk

Norman, S. (2020). Google Analytics And SEO Week Ten – PUB 201 [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from: SFU Canvas.

Assignment: Peer Review #3 (“Nick McKay’s Professional Portfolio”)

For the third and final peer review, I will be analyzing Nick McKay’s blog from a business/monetization perspective. To provide a brief summary, his website is a portfolio that showcases the various projects he is/has been involved in relating to interactive arts and technology. From what I have seen thus far, it truly showcases Nick’s passion for these kinds of endeavours. I enjoyed browsing through while getting glimpse into the effort and creativity that goes into them.

Challenges Identified in the Second Peer Review

I would first like to start off with the aspects Julianna mentioned in peer review #2 regarding what she believed could be changed. Julianna initially states how she saw that the links to his personal social media accounts are not very locatable as they reside on the bottom-right corner of his blog. While I personally do not think this implementation is a huge issue, I do agree with her in regard to possibly moving them or even simply enlarging the icons to enhance their visibility.

Another feature she found and what I noticed as well is if one were to click directly on “My Projects,” it brings viewers to a blank page. Individuals need to utilize the arrow to access a drop-down menu so they can view the different types of projects within the “My Projects,” category. However, when clicking directly on “My Writings,” as well as also having a drop-down menu, it does in fact display all of the posts placed under this category, indicating that Nick possesses the know-how to impose the same for “My Projects,” which I encourage.

Brand and Business Strategy

The site does present a compelling brand. Nick’s originally designed logo is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of establishing his unique identity. His business strategy is very persuasive as not only are his professional posts clearly representing the blog’s topic, they further encourage the targeted demographic to engage in a type of call to action. The term ““call to action” refer[s] to any ask or request that you make of a user on a site,” such as “shar[ing] on social media,” which is precisely what Nicks has executed (“Call To Action,” (n.d.)). He facilitates viewers sharing his content by having buttons linking to different social media platforms situated underneath posts following the words, “Share this.”

I also like how Nick exhibits work that involves relevant issues. An example would be undertaking projects supporting causes including designing a sticker for the “Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline” and writing a report on the ethics of self-driving cars. The fact that Nick seamlessly incorporates these issues whilst simultaneously adhering to his website’s focus, he demonstrates a keen understanding concerning effective content creation practices.

                                                                            New Challenges Faced

In addressing the new challenges this blog faces and my observation is completely dependent on whether Nick is considering this undertaking for clarification, it might be difficult to utilize Google AdSense or any other ad-based monetization strategies due to the site’s layout and colour scheme without them seeming overwhelming or distracting. But as I said, the difficulty is only applicable upon his decision to do so.

Conclusion

The challenges stated above are no different to what Julianna elaborates on in the second peer review and in my opinion, are very minor. Overall, Nick has quality content that is presented really effectively on his website and I look forward to what he has in store for the future of this portfolio.

References

“Call To Action.” (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.optimizely.com/optimization-glossary/call-to-action/

McKay, N. (n.d.). Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline. Retrieved from: https://nickmackayportfolio.com/2020/03/11/marine-mammal-incident-reporting-hotline/

McKay, N. (n.d.). The Trolley Problem Becomes a Reality: The Ethics of the Self-Driving Car. Retrieved from: https://nickmackayportfolio.com/2020/01/22/the-trolley-problem-becomes-a-reality-the-ethics-of-the-self-driving-car/

Blog Post #22: Let Your Fears Make You Fierce Review

Hi everyone. Hope you all are staying healthy and safe. This week’s review is going to be on a good one! Its Let Your Fears Make You Fierce, by Koya Webb.

Let Your Fears Make You Fierce is an all-encompassing motivational title about making the right choices for you to live as your best self. From improving your eating habits and incorporating daily affirmations to going after your professional goals and having healthy relationships with people, this book dives into the “why’s” and “how’s” of practicing personal wellness on a physical, psychological, and spiritual level, and provides meaningful guidance in every area of one’s life. Moreover, whilst addressing these levels, the overarching theme it tackles is being mindful, further containing advice on difficult topics including overcoming hurt and understanding the true meaning of forgiveness.

She additionally emphasizes knowing what or what isn’t nourishing your soul regarding establishing as well as chasing your goals/objectives/mission(s). However, one of Webb’s most powerful messages is encouraging people to choose “love-based” over “fear-based living,” meaning that you can choose to let your fears hold you back or utilize them in a way where you can grow.

Throughout, Webb draws upon her own personal experiences as well, such as beginning the book by describing a previous goal of hers that started in middle school of wanting to be a track star. She won a full track scholarship to Wichita State University and wanted to become a gold-medalist in the Olympic games. Unfortunately, following multiple injuries and years of intense training sessions that took a major toll on her body, she made the difficult decision to stop pursuing it. But trying yoga completely changed her life’s and eventually career’s trajectory. Webb chose a different path leading her to another passion and has since achieved massive success in doing so.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Oprah Winfrey’s “Aha!” moments. As I progressed through the novel, I think I had multiple “Aha!” moments in every chapter! What really struck a chord with me is when she discusses letting go of the past – something I still need to address in order to effectively work on myself.

A unique aspect of Let Your Fears Make You Fierce is that she actually gives readers space to write down their thoughts and responses to her prompts directly into the book. Examples would be “Say “I forgive you” for ________________” and “I am grateful for _________________.”

Overall, I was in absolute awe. I’ve learnt so much from Koya Webb and am grateful that I came across this book. To anyone looking for a solid work within the self-help/motivation genre, I highly recommend Let Your Fears Make You Fierce.