Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Reminder: The Orchard has Grown!

You know when a forest has a vibrant outer layer of new and mid-sized trees, and then further back there’s the old, mighty, and dying trees? And possibly a witch’s hut?

Well, this blog is that old section of trees. Lots of good stuff in here, but all the new growth is over at my new website and blog. With juicy cherries and springtime blossoms:

Break Out the Champagne, I’m Launching a Website!

…and it has a handy web address that’s so easy to remember, you won’t even need to copy and paste:

colewardell.com

If you subscribe to this blog or follow it via RSS, don’t forget to change your subscription over to this page on the new website. That’s where I’ll be blogging from now on ūüôā

After some deliberation I decided not to import my blog posts from The Orchard over to the new site. I might even continue to update over here every once in a while, for more personal thoughts. In any case, I’m not sure how this will all be organized in the end but I do know that I want to keep the blog on the new site a bit more professional and polished because it’ll be seen by potential employers and clients.

“Gosh, that’s a bit boring, design-wise, Cole” –well, yes, it does kind of walk the line between minimalist and… empty. My priority right now is getting it up and functioning for employers, so I’m using a handy WordPress portfolio template. But I have visions of organic wood textures and stainless steel dancing in my head… and my goal is to build a custom design later this year that better reflects my personality.

I think that the headshot on my bio page is probably the most professional I’ve looked in the last four years. The glasses help. Writing my bio page was an exercise in ego, and here’s a few lessons that I learned that I think might be helpful for others.

If you commit to having a portfolio website, you have to commit to selling yourself. Unless you’re already an established writer or artist, your website does not serve as a mere informational resource. It needs to draw people in, and inspire them to contact or hire you. For a lot of creative people, marketing yourself feels kind of dirty, and really fake. But if you really want to avoid this, then don’t make a website. And if you do make one, embrace your appeal!

Designers’ websites need good text, and writers’ website need good design. Actually, designers can sometimes get away with having very little text on their portfolio websites, sometimes just a sentence or two on their bio. But writers especially need to acknowledge the power of visual appeal when it comes to portfolio websites. Designers too need to find a clear way to articulate their personality and what they offer.

Show only your best. This is true of any type of portfolio, but I think we need to hear it especially with web portfolios. Don’t post every doodle and piece of art you’ve ever done on your portfolio page – that’s what your blog is for. Your portfolio page should trick people into thinking that you only produce stunning, finished pieces that have been fully cleaned up in photoshop (if they’re visual works) or edited (if they’re articles) and are ready for publication.

Psycho-technical Updates

Sure, my train may have been delayed six hours due to engine trouble,¬†and we may have finally rolled into Charlottesville at 30mph. And sure, it’s scary as hell to drive through icy back roads in West Virginia with only front-wheel drive… but eventually, finally, I’m here in Columbus, securing an apartment and pumping up my ego to search for jobs.*

I won’t have time to get back to posting for another week or so, but in the meantime I’ve been updating some of my other online presences**, so check them out!

My Goodreads Bookshelf


* Any assistance with the ego-pumping is more than welcome.
** Okay, I admit that these might be time-wasting excuses to procrastinate the job search.

Top Posts of 2010

When I realized that all the blogs I follow are compiling their most popular posts from this past year, I figured I’d be a sheep and go along with the trend.

Popularity is a tricky thing on a blog like this one, which covers such a wide range of topics. Some people come here for the artsy visual posts, and others are here for the sociological rants. Whatever your reason for reading The Orchard this past year, I’m grateful for the support ūüôā

  1. Hunting the MC1R Recessive Variant Gene
  2. Why Don’t Intellectuals Go To The Rodeo?
  3. Historical Hotties and Heroes
  4. Ink Sample Tests & Reviews
  5. Charcoal Gesture Drawings

So I guess this means that my rants tend to be more widely read than my geeky pen posts. Or maybe I’ve just tagged them more effectively…? New 2011 goal: be better at blogger-networking / online optimization. Also, rant more.

After those top five, the next most popular posts were: Review of my dad’s old Pelikan 120, Habana Notebook paired with Pelikan M400 White Tortoise, and my little Handmade Book With Clairefontaine Papers.

All That – In The News!

Technology and Modern Life

  • Apparently¬†smartphone users don’t download health-related apps. Wait, actually, I don’t have a health-related app on my smartphone! Does this mean that smartphone users don’t care about their health? In my case, it just means that I prefer to handle my health in the real world, where, you know, my body lives.
  • Pen and Ink bloggers were spreading this article a few weeks ago:¬†How Twitter made handwriting cool. But the article doesn’t actually answer the question in the title (good lesson for article-writing, kids!). Instead, the article pits “notebookers and stationary fetishists” and “social networking, commenting and blogging” on opposite sides of “a modern social divide.” And frankly, this is just incorrect– but that will have to wait for its own post.
  • Apparently men with liberal arts degrees are fairly screwed, professionally speaking. This is a good example of how sexism affects both women¬†and men.¬†Those poor artsy boys…
  • So smart people are more likely to use drugs. Despite the titillating headline, the real point of the article is that in terms of evolution, intelligence doesn’t lead to healthy choices; it leads to innovative ones. Setting evolution aside for a moment, I think there’s a more important social meaning to this, in terms of today’s society. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the War on Drugs tends to punish drug users more than drug lords. Despite the inspirational posters in elementary schools, our society does not reward thinking outside the box (of capitalism, of a two-party political system, etc).¬†When it comes to drugs, drug lords are thinking inside the box: they’re making money through exploitation and dependence. (Capitalism at its finest!) Drug users, on the other hand, are a problem because they reveal deep vulnerabilities in the United States: racial oppression, and the threat of innovative intelligence.

Rurality and Urbanism

Update on the Boulder Wildfire

I don’t know whether you’d call this a “technical update,” exactly…

On Monday morning, I walked out of my apartment to a sky that looked like this:

…which turned out to be a wildfire in Fourmile Canyon, which is– well, really close to where I live.

The Fourmile Canyon fire has since become Colorado’s most destructive fire in state history: it has destroyed about 7,000 acres, including 170(ish) homes, and it has displayed 3500 people. And even after four days, they only have about 20% of the fire contained.

We’re all a little frazzled here in Boulder, but I’m also reminded how lucky we are to be an affluent, tech-savvy community at a time like this.¬†Unlike New Orleans or Haiti, affluent communities like Boulder (which often means affluent white communities) are far more prepared for natural disasters: the vast majority of Boulder residents have wealth in the form of investments (not to mention, all kinds of insurance), which means they are financially resilient in case they do lose their homes in the fire.

Still,¬†they just announced this afternoon that my neighborhood should prepare to evacuate. So, I’m now sitting with my emergency bag packed and I thought I’d take a few minutes to check in here.

September Holidays

No no no, not the BIG holidays (“Labor Day”? pah!).¬†I mean those celebrations and commemorations of weirdly specific phenomena: “Snowman Burning Day,” for example (that one is March 20, for the record).

Since September also my birthday month, I figure I’d share some of the holidays I’m excited about (or, well, just curious about) this September.

Things To Celebrate All Month Long:

  • Backpack Safety Month
  • Be Kind To Editors & Writers Month
  • College Savings Month (how about, “pay back college loans month”?)
  • National Honey Month
  • International People Skills Month …AND National Self-Awareness Month (contradictory?)
  • Subliminal Communications Month (does that count as “people skills”?)
  • Mold Awareness Month (…um)
  • Pleasure Your Mate Month (do they really need a month for this?)
  • One-on-One Month (redundant)
  • Women’s Friendship Month
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month

Week-Long Celebrations:

  • National Waffle Week (5th – 11th)
  • Beer Days (16th-18th)
  • Turn Off Your TV Week (19th – 25th)
  • National Chimney Safety Week: (Sept 26 – Oct 2)
  • National Keep Kids Creative Week: (Sept 26 – Oct 2)
  • Banned Books Week: (Sept 27 – Oct 2)

And, For Only One Day:

  • National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day: Sept 1
  • International Literacy Day: Sept 7
  • Swap Ideas Day: Sept 10
  • International Chocolate Day: Sept 13
  • National Urban Eden Day: Sept 13
  • Anne Bradstreet Day: Sept 16
  • Talk Like A Pirate Day: Sept 19
  • Autumn Equinox: Sept 22
  • Dear Diary Day: Sept 22
  • Elephant Appreciation Day: Sept 22
  • Celebrate Bisexuality Day: Sept 23
  • Love Note Day: Sept 24
  • National Public Lands Day: Sept 25
  • Ancestor Appreciation Day: Sept 27
  • National Women’s Health & Fitness Day: Sept 29

Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

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