Posted by: singlemomadvice | December 4, 2007

Tell Your Story

I am looking for extraordinary women to tell their story. I am writing a series of articles where I will interview women who has amazing survivor stories. It doesn’t matter what type of hardship you have overcome: relational, financial, or physical. I want the world to read about you.

 If you are interested, please email me at tellitgirl@tellemgirl.com.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 25, 2007

Tell’em Girl

I finally buckled down and got my own hosting account. I like WordPress.com, but there are just too many restrictions. I like blogging, but I need to make some of those advertising dollars also. You can find my new blog at www.tellemgirl.com.

I will continue to post here until that one catches on.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

Recipe: Spiderweb Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared chocolate crumb crust
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand for 1 minute. Heat gelatin; stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat; cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in cream, vanilla and gelatin mixture until smooth. Pour into crust.
  2. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth. Transfer to a heavy-duty resealable bag; cut a small hole in a corner of bag. Pipe a circle of chocolate in center of cheesecake. Pipe evenly spaced thin concentric circles about 1/2 in. apart over filling. Beginning with the center circle, gently pull a toothpick through circles toward outer edge. Wipe toothpicks clean. Repeat to complete web pattern. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.
Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

A Friendship Broken Over Politics

I wouldn’t consider myself a very political person. As a matter of fact, if I can avoid talking about politics, I do. The person that I would consider my best friend is very political. She is very interested in current affairs and world politics. Half of the places that send her in frenzy with their political views and practices, I didn’t even know exist. I always admired her knowledge and passion as she would debate with our other co-workers on a weekly basis; that is, until we had our own heated discussion.

I don’t know what events transpired that lead up to the discussion. It was just a normal Friday, and as always we were in the copy room making plans for lunch around 9:30 that morning. Fridays are usually laid-back for us since Thursdays are our stressful and eventful days. Anxiously awaiting the start of the weekend, we socialize about family, weekend plans and possible romantic dates throughout the entire day. But, this Friday was different; this Friday would change our friendship forever.

Julie was her normal self; a little fired up over the response to a mass email that she sent all of the people in her personal distribution list. The email praised the recent comments made by John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, that pretty much told everyone living Australia if you didn’t want to be Australian and respect their culture then they should leave. Julie agreed with the sentiment, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem came when someone replied and objected to the email and stated a very long and involved reason why.

As usual, Julie passionately went over her views about politics and religion. This is behavior that I am used to and love about her. On most things, we share the same views on both topics. We are both Christians and have a great love for God, so talking religion is what bonded us in the first place. Things get complicated with politics. Julie is a conservative and is mostly republican. I am riding the fence; I am neither republican nor democratic. I am in the middle of being conservative and a liberal; not fully supporting or disagreeing with either side. I agree with both sides on certain topics. You can see why this would get complicated.

At a certain point during Julie’s rant about the liberals of the world, I was pulled into the conversation. Although, I don’t fully disagree with her viewpoints, I just don’t think it is as black and white as Julie makes it out to be. After a while John Howard and his comments were forgotten and the history of the United States came into play. This is the point where our friendship was tested.

Like I said, I don’t remember what points we were arguing or how we actually got to this point, but Julie made several comments that were kind of racist. If I didn’t explain it before, I am African-American and Julie is White. This has never been a problem before; the different colors of our skin were as minimal as the color of the clothes we were wearing. Our different races very much came into play during this conversation that was quickly becoming heated.

The comment made by Julie was �€ŔI don’t see anything wrong with what our forefathers did because we wouldn’t have the country we have today.�€� This was in reply to stealing land from Native Americans and Mexicans, and slavery. I don’t know if she meant it the way that it sounded, but all I heard was that my best friend supported slavery because she felt it was for the good of the country. Of course, you can understand why this debate was steadily becoming heated.

I love Julie like a sister and have even invited her to family functions. My brother hugs her and calls her his sister every time he sees her. She came into my life during a vulnerable time and helped me get over so many hurdles by encouraging me with her faith in God. I have never meet a more supportive and generous person in my life. It broke my heart to think that she was judging me by the color of my skin behind my back.

This is a prime example of why I don’t discuss politics with friends and co-workers. People’s hidden demons tend to come out when discussing such a controversial topic. I still talk to Julie and people can even consider us friends. She is no longer my sister; that bond was broken with words and a disagreement of views.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

So You Think You Are Cut Out To Be : A Writer

I know many people who grow thinking of becoming a writer. I, myself, had dreams of making a living a as a serious writer. To this day, I have yet to finish one of the novels that I’ve started. Half-way through, I wasn’t quite happy with what I’ve written. I always wanted to write something creative and profound; something that no one could think of before. I haven’t quite reached that point yet.

One thing I am quite good at writing is telling other people information on how to make choices for living their own lives. “So You Think You’re Cut Out To Be” is a new series of articles giving insight into different occupations to give the reader a better look into their dream job. I decided to use the first article of the series to write about an occupation that is close to my heart, writing or dealing with the written word.

The Work

Writers come in many different flavors these days. With the internet, the written word went from the paper to the computer screen. Blogging, online news media, e-zines, and e-books just a few venues for writers to fit into these days. The internet has made it easier to become a published and paid writer.

Even though the internet is making new opportunities, it hasn’t seemed to completely replace works in print. Books, magazines, advertisements, newspapers, motion pictures, and trade journals are just a few of the ways that writers contribute to our society. There are also something called Technical Writers, which I will cover in my next article.

For the sake of this article, we will first cover two category of writers; fiction and non-fiction. Fiction writers use creativity to create stories, poetry, lyrics, screenplays, plays and more that paints stories through publication or performance. Some are commissioned beforehand (a writer hired by a sponsored to create a certain piece of work on a certain topic or subject) and some are sold after the work has been completed (a writer following their own vision and selling the completed product).

Non-fiction writers’ basic job duty is to research. Their credibility as a writer is based on their ability to collect data and present it in a logical and analogically manner. Ethics are strong point as accuracy and relying on outside sources are essential. Non-fiction writers can be found in newspapers, magazines, and experts in their fields writing instructional manuscripts. Biographies and autobiographies fit in the category of non-fiction. You can clearly see why attention to the details is extremely important with writing non-fiction.

Bloggers are a new breed of writers. Blogging can fit into fiction and non-fiction depending on the blogger and the main function of their blogs. Most blogs are personal accounts or a form of online journals. Other bloggers give their spin on current events, entertainment, reviews, and details about their individual fields. With advertising and pay-per-post opportunities, it is possible for bloggers to make money publishing their work.

Education

For most paying jobs in writing, a college degree in English, communications, or journalism is required. There are certain times when other types of degrees are acceptable for writing positions. For example, a writer for a fashion magazine usually needs to have some knowledge and love for fashion. Some of the skills that are needed are creativity, attention to detail, perseverance, and the love of writing.

For some publications, prior experience or being already published is a necessity. This is why many writers start off as assistants to editors, copywriters, or fact checkers. The main focus is to get a foot inside the company and proving themselves from within.

Writers, like all artists, continue to improve their skills over the years. They observe the world around them, drawing in as much information as they can. So, in reality, a writer is always being educated.


Employment

Most writers are self-employed and work as freelancers. Salaried jobs are usually held at newspapers, radio, television networks, magazines, motion picture industry, software companies, Internet publishing, computer manufacturers, government agencies, businesses, religious organizations, and charity organizations. Salaried jobs in major book publishers and magazines are either located in or travel frequently to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.


Salary

A writer’s salary can be as high as their book sales. J.K. Rowling made over 100 million dollars from her Harry Potter books and is estimated to reach well into the billions in future earnings. There is no secret that there is great money to be made from writing, but not every has the type of success that J.K. Rowling has had. A typical salaried writer makes anywhere from $23,330 to $91,260, based on the Occupational Handbook.

With new technologies and opportunities popping up all the time, the amount of people partially living their dreams of becoming a writer is on a rise. The growth rate for salaried writers is about average with other occupations through the year 2014, based on a report from the Occupational Handbook. Although the growth rate is average, I see the opportunities for people to have online outlets for creative writing increasing in the next few years.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

Cool Technology: HTC Touch Phone

There has been plenty of media lately surrounding the new Apple iPhone. The iPhones has it good and bad critics, but the one common census is the touch screen. This has been one of the main selling points for the phone. It is also why you will probably like the HTC Touch phone also.

 

HTC Touch is very similar to the iPhone in design, both having large touch screen. The HTC Touch also run Windows Mobile 6 Professional and has support for Wi-Fi. With the 2-megapizel camera built-in, you will find it a good substitute for the iPhone.

 

The following quote is from HTC’s website about their Touch and Touch Dual phones. “Style, innovation and practicality meet with the HTC Touch Dual’s sleek look, powerful hardware, touch screen navigation and slide-out keyboard for intricate typing tasks.”

 

They are also introducing a sister phone called the Vogue. Vogue copies the design and features of the Touch and Touch Dual, thus making is another replacement for the iPhone. While the Touch’s GSM version runs on the EDGE network like the iPhone, the Vogue is rumored to run on the EVDO Rev A network and provide true 3G speeds.

 

After being introduced to these phones, I eagerly searched the web trying to see where I can purchase one or the other. Currently I could only find the Touch available in the UK. Being one of the people who was eager to have the iPhone for its features but losing interest after the problems started popping up, I was bummed to find out the Touch wasn’t available in the states.

 

Good news quickly arrived with the reports that a CDMA version of the Vogue was approved for the U.S. and either Sprint or Verizon would be carrying it since they are the only two wireless companies that are currently using the CDMA technology. I would have preferred Verizon over Sprint, but I am still excited about the fact that the Vogue will be released in November as the Sprint Touch.

 

I have my problems with the iPhone. One problem being the fact that it is only restricted to the 25 ring tones that are available; I am one of those people who loves to customize my phone and ring tones based on my mood and the person calling. Plus, there is no third party applications allowed on the iPhone and the user interface themes are unchangeable. It seems as if the iPhone was made for Steve Jobs and people just like him, and it is perfect if you want it ‘as is’.

For now, I think that the iPhone has some growing up to do, and will probably be a good product with a few more releases.  Until that happens, I will be happily looking out for some very good replacements.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

Why Humor at Work is a Good Thing

During an average week, I have at least four meetings, deal with at least 5 different department heads, take 120 irate calls, answer 400+ emails and have at least three negative run-ins with my boss. Some may ask how I deal with all of this. The answer is simple; with humor.

 

Humor is a great tool to use in the workplace to deal with difficult situations on a daily basis. If I didn’t have other co-workers that I can laugh with, I would be bald from stress. Humor works with bosses, clients, business associates and co-workers.

 

Coping with unpleasant situations can be awkward with all parties involved. Of course, you don’t want to be the idiot making jokes about really serious events at work such as racism, sexual harassment or employment illness. But, if a deal is falling apart because of bad communication, break the ice with humor to release the tension and make everyone comfortable to start negotiations again.

 

Once, I had a very important meeting introducing a new idea to the top bosses. Everyone in my team prepared for this meeting for two months. I loaded up the PowerPoint slides on my flash drive, gathered all the paperwork and headed to the conference room. In the middle of my pitch, I opened the PowerPoint presentation. Everyone in the room was introduced to a picture slideshow of my girlfriends and I having fun on vacation. I brought the wrong slideshow. Instead of freaking out, I lighted the air with a joke at my own expense and entertained the room while a member from the team went to gather the correct slideshow. The situation could have been very bad if I had succumbed to the embarrassment of the moment. With humor, I was able to continue with the meeting and getting approval for the project we were trying to pitch.

 

To incorporate humor into the workplace effectively, remember that there is a fine line between being funny and being offensive. You should avoid inappropriate humor at all cost. Your joke about a certain race or religious group may seem funny to you, but it could rub some people the wrong way. Humor should never be hurtful.

 

It is always better to make fun of yourself than someone else. People respect other people who don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t laugh at their own mistakes. But, there are some people who don’t like the joke pointing at them. Before trying to lighten someone’s mood with jokes about their performance, make a joke about your own. It will be more received than always talking about someone else.

 

Humor in emails or written communication can be tricky. The person on the other side of the computer monitor can’t see your expression or hear your laughter to know that you are just kidding. They make take it seriously or misinterpret it in any way. A way to diffuse this type of situation is to use emoticons or LOL acronyms.

 

Humor can also be misinterpreted with face-to-face situations also. Body language is a big indicator when trying to let people know that you are not serious. Use comical facial expressions and gestures.

 

On the telephone, through email, in meetings or in one-on-one interactions, humor can be used to ease tension, break the ice or just to set the tone for the communications. When used effectively, it can help make your career a successful one. If misused, it could get you fired or established unpleasant work environments. Before trying it, know your audience.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

30 Dates In 30 Days: Mr. Preppy

There isn’t a day that goes by that every single woman feels the pressure from their married friends and family to marry. The pressure is multiplied by ten when you are recently divorced and your ex is already remarried with a new family already being started. Blind dates, ‘innocent’ bump-ins, and the occasion bold states are just some hints that my friends think I am lonely and it is their jobs to find my next husband.

 

In an attempt to quiet their matchmaking efforts, I agreed to go out on several different dates with several different types of men from every background. I am not expecting to find a husband from this little dating venture, but it will be interesting to see what type of man that I mesh well with.

 

Day One: Dr. Preppy

 

My first date came courtesy of a family member. I am omitting names for obvious reasons; so I will call the guy Dr. Preppy. He received his doctorate in Education and is currently teaching in our local university. The instigator of this date, a cousin of mine, works in the office next to his. The usual conversation ensued and I agree to go on an early dinner date with him by it being a weekday and we both have to work the following morning.

 

He was scheduled to pick me up at 6:00, but it was closer to 6:15 when his Volkswagen GT finally pulled in front of my house. I am not an overly impatient person, but I am from the south. In the south, we call when we are running late. I expected the same from this professional southern man who should have known better.

 

His tardiness was the first thing to turn me off from him. When he blared his horn in an impatient honking in front of my house without ever stepping foot out of his car, I almost called the whole thing off right then and there. I consider myself a fair person; I will give him the benefit of the doubt.  I quickly grabbed my purse, locked my door and almost broke a sweat sprinting to his car. I didn’t want to make him later than he already was; I told you I can be reasonable.  Plus, he did get out of the car to open the passenger door for me, so he received some of his ‘good points’ back that he lost from his other bad manners.

 

The ride to the restaurant was filled with the usual small-talk filler conversation. As a matter of fact, we talked about every mundane thing in the world sans the weather. It was pretty clear that Dr. Preppy and I had nothing in common, and probably shouldn’t be going on a date in the first place. When my cousin told me that this guy would be perfect for me, I was wondering what she was referring to because I could find one thing that would constitute us being a ‘perfect’ couple.

 

By now you can guess what my impression of this guy is. So far, I didn’t like anything about him. Even his tweed jacket and bowtie was making me uncomfortable. His discomfort was evident is the beads of sweat on his temple and the firm grip he had on the steering wheel. The date started off in a disaster and was going down fast.

 

After settling into our seats in the restaurant, we depleted our supply of small talk. A thickening silence served as our appetizers as we waited for our drinks. All of a sudden, he lets out a sigh and unloosed his tie. To clear the air, the first thing that came out of his mouth was an apology for being late. That was all I needed to loosen up myself, and thus making him feel comfortable enough to pursue a conversation.

 

I quickly realize what an idiot I am to jump to conclusions about someone. My earlier preconceptions of him were quickly explained over a pasta dinner. Apparently, he left the piece of paper with my phone number on it on his desk at work. When his 5:00 lecture was running over, he called my cousin to explain and to see if maybe we should just reschedule. My loving cousin then informed him just to pull up and blow his horn since I was at home anxiously waiting on him. This plus my obvious sprint towards the car gave him the impression that I was just another desperate woman trying to snag a husband.

 

I explained the sprint and the fact that I never received the infamous call from my cousin, nor would I ever just advise him to honk his horn like a mad man. We had a few laughs at our own expense and the date settled into a nice laid-back evening. After talking to him, I realize that we had more in common that I thought. We both were content just meeting new and interesting people, and not interviewing potential spouses.

 

We didn’t stay out long; like I said we both worked all day and had to get up early the next day. Dr. Preppy changed my perceptions of that particular type of man, and I look forward to seeing him again. All and all, this date was definitely not a waste of my precious time.

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

Rate This Game: A Look Inside ESRB

In this day of violence, sex, drugs, and inappropriate language clogging every corner of entertainment, it is almost a guarantee that our youth will be exposed to it if parents doesn’t pay attention to what they are purchasing for their children. That is where ratings come into play; for parents to make conscious decisions on what the do or don’t their children exposed to in their own homes.

 

If you play video games then you have seen the ratings posted on the front of them.  Did you ever wonder about the board that is behind the game ratings and what they look for when rating these games? This article gives inside the ERSB to better inform you on the process of rating games.

 

ESRB stands for Entertainment Software Rating Board. It is a self-regulatory board that appoints themselves to apply and enforce entertainment software ratings for the U.S. and Canada. But did you know that they also govern the advertising and online privacy ethics.

 

Back in 1994, the Interactive Digital Software Association, with the U.S. Congress encouragement, felt the need to somehow monitor the content of games after the market was introduced with violent and sexual content in videogames. They received criticism at first, accused of trying to restrict game producers and publishers. On the other hand, the general public felt it was a necessity for the ratings guidelines put on the motion picture industry to spill over to gaming. This is when the ESRB was born.

 

The primary duty of the ESRB is to view the content of games submitted to them and apply the appropriate rating. Their purpose is to inform consumers and parents of a game’s content and suitability. After a rating is applied to the game, the publishers must post it on the cover of the game, in any advertisements, in the media, and on any websites associated with the game.

 

How it works

 

When a game is ready to be submitted for a rating, the publisher prepares a videotape of the game’s most graphic scenes. They then ship the videotape along with a questionnaire about the content of the game and a check in the amount anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000. Although submittal for a rating is purely voluntarily, most game publishers decide to get a rating on their products.

 

The ESRB assigns three raters in which the ESRB descriptions as “adults [who] typically have experience with children through prior work experience, education or by being parents or caregivers themselves.”

 

The three raters independently watch the videotape and give their rating. All three has to agree on the rating before content descriptors are issued and the publisher notified. If they don’t agree, other raters are called in to review the videotape.

Next, it is passed on to ESRB in-house personnel for verification of accuracy. A certificate is mailed to the game publisher. The publisher has three choices at that point. They can either release the game with the rating given, change the content and resubmit, or appeal the decision.

 

The ESRB receives a copy of the game with it is ready for final release. ESRB randomly reviews games to once again verify that the correct rating was giving. They check to make sure that the publisher was completely honest in their description of the game during the review process. A penalty can be given if the publisher was misleading about the game’s content.

 

Publishers aren’t aware of the identities of the raters. They are also selected randomly. They are employed by ESRB. The board has stated before that their raters are very diverse. As a matter of fact they said this in 1994: “The raters represent a wide range of backgrounds, races, and ages and has no ties to the interactive entertainment industry.”

 

Ratings

 

The rating itself is made up of two parts: rating symbols and content descriptors. The rating symbols are used to represent the appropriate age groups that the content is best suited for. Content descriptors give the breakdown of the content components that can be found in the game, and the reason the particular game received the rating symbol assigned.

 

Rating symbols includes: EC (Early Childhood), E (Everyone), E10+ (Everyone 10+), T (Teen), M (Mature), AO (Adults Only), and RP (Rating Pending). Out of all of the rating symbols, AO is probably the most controversial. Most major chains such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target do not carry any game with the AO rating. Publishers say that particular rating put a strain on sales.

 

So far there are only 25 games that have received an AO rating. Of the titles is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Playboy The Mansion: Private Party, and Manhunt 2. Most of the content that has received the rating is only available on Windows and Macintosh computers.

 

Posted by: singlemomadvice | October 24, 2007

A Flux of Posts Today

Well, I’ve been complaining about Associated Content rejecting many of my articles. They say that I can still submit them but not for upfront payment. It is an insult because it is telling me that they won’t pay for my article but they still think they are good enough to post on their site. Anyway, I am going to post them here and see what type of response I will get.

 From now on, that is what I am going to do. So, don’t be alarmed about the amount of articles that I am posting here. I am writing alot these days because I need to make extra money, but it is clear that I won’t be making alot of extra money with Associated Content.

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