Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Delivery for Me?

The mail-room guy comes by every day, and usually he just passes by. But yesterday afternoon, he stopped at my desk with these!  My boyfriend sent me this bouquet of 100 gorgeous flowers!  What a lovely way to start my day this morning. I am so lucky to have him.  He is a keeper!  :)

Love, Caryn

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Simple Way to Add The Reply Option for Downloaded Blogger Templates

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog and those who have left comments.  I cannot express how much it means to me.   It is you, my readers, that motivates me to keep writing and inspires me to continue to share my posts. Otherwise, it would just be like an online diary.  I am sorry up until now I haven't been able to reply to your thoughtful comments.  But that just changed!

One of the downfalls to Blogger is that it lacks a reply feature, as I am sure you have noticed. This is a serious issue because it is important for blog authors to be able to communicate with their readers.  So, for the longest time, I was really frustrated because I wanted to be able to respond to your notes but didn't know how.  Yes, I could put a single comment up below your comment but that did not facilitate continuing the conversation.  I Googled the issue and found some blogs that showed a hack around the issue. I thought, Yes! A Fix!  They all cited the same source code: "" in order for this to work.  The process made sense to me, but the problem was that the code did not exist for me.  The catch - my template is not a Blogger template but one by Theme CraftThis means my HTML comment code was different.  I knew I had to find another way to add this reply feature if I wanted to be able to communicate with you.  I had responded to one of the blogs that explained the process for Blogger to see if they could help me too, but I never got a response.  I contemplated emailing Markandey over at for his help, again.  His blog post on How to Add Tabs to Your Blog was by far the easiest and most helpful How To guide I came across on the topic. (Thanks again, Markandey!) He was beyond insightful and knowledgeable. We emailed back and forth and he took a lot of time to help make sure my blog was exactly how I wanted it to be. If you need blog help, I highly recommend you seek him out. Anyways, I didn't want to bother him again.  I wanted to try to fix this on my own.

Finally, a light bulb clicked this morning and I decided to check out Disqus. It is so simple! I set up an account, and TA-DA! It merged and transferred all my comments with ease and now I am able to reply to comments as well as be notified if someone responds to one of my comments. 

If you are having a similar issue, consider using an alternate commenting forum like Disqus.  It is Blogger compatible and easy to use.  All you have to do is sign up, link your blog to your profile, select preferences for your blog, and you are ready to rock and roll! 

Happy replying!

Love, Caryn

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bring On The Warm Springtime Sunshine!


It is still chilly outside in Chicago. This week will hopefully be in the 40’s. Doesn’t sound like spring, does it? I can’t quite retire my winter-gear, or take out the flip-flops and t-shirts yet, but I am excited for the temperatures to warm up.

When I think of Spring, there is always one image that comes to mind- like a still snapshot in my head. In college, there was this large open grassy field on campus where students would go to read, sleep, listen to music on their iPod, or tan in the grass. The field would fill with people playing Frisbee with friends or with their dogs between classes.  Just walking by this field in the Springtime made me want to smile and skip home. It wasn't until college and seeing this field each year, did I realize just how much I love Spring. 

I love this time of year. I love when people come out of the woodworks, when restaurants put patio furniture out, and people are out and about going for walks.  Dog parks are loaded with puppies playing, animals come out of hibernation, birds chirp, tulip buds begin to sprout and trees begin to blossom.  I can walk to work and the days are longer. There is optimism that the end of the dreary days is near and that Winter is almost over.  The sun shines out from behind cloudless blue skies. People seem to have an extra spring in their step.  

You can feel love in the air.

When Spring is in the air, you can smell the crisp scent of freshly cut grass and possibilities. Springtime rain smells different than any other time of year. Now is the time, we plant our vegetable gardens and flowers.  You can smell neighbors barbecuing.  I love going to the park and having picnics. Colors, just like our attitudes (thanks Seasonal Affective Disorder), go from dark hues (like my favorite Russian Navy by OPI) to bright, cheery, pastels and florals. 

2011 OPI Texas Spring Collection colors {via}

We clean out our closets and homes, remove unwanted clothes and bad habits. It is our time to start fresh and remind us what we have been missing while cooped up for the Winter. Spring cleaning brings fresh starts. 

I love summer weather, going to the beach and soaking in the hot sun rays. But there is something special about Spring that makes me happy and gives me the feeling that anything is possible. 

Bring on the warm springtime sunshine!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

So What If I Can Be Easily Amused?

I sometimes find pleasure is the silliest things. Yes, I admit I can be easily amused. Here is a website I came across that kept me entertained for a bit.  Sometimes it is fun to forget all that is going on in the world and be like a five year old for just a few minutes.

My name as an anagram is "NERVY CLAY" or with middle names: "VERY LYNCH BEAT"
My boyfriend Jason's is awesome: "JOVIALNESS AND IDOL"
My mom Laurie: "REALLY, I'VE UREA"
My sister Stacy: "ENVY CLEAN STAY"
(The anagrams include their middle name, but for their privacy and safety I am not publicising that information.)

Yes it is pretty mindless and they make no sense, but amusing? Yes!  Please comment and share what you get from your name! Anagram your name here. 


Love, Caryn

Friday, March 11, 2011

Help Japan Now!

I just wrote an entire post and lost it! I'll try again.

It is hard to enjoy this beautiful day in Chicago when so many people have been struck with tragedy. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the earthquake and tsunami. The greatest concern now is that the nuclear reactor in Fukushima will explode- I PRAY this does not happen. That would be detrimental and beyond dangerous for all. The effects of this is global and Mother Nature is not finished yet.  There are always aftershocks after earthquakes like this. I hope you are all safe.  

This video of the Tsunami gave me chills. Fox News- Tsunami Video and click here for UNREAL VIDEOS of footage.

Are you worried about a friend or loved one? Google launched this fantastic site to help:

If you can donate, here are some great options. If not, please spread the word so we can all do our part to help in this disaster.

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation

Praying is good, donating is better. 

It is in time like this that we must be thankful for those in our life and those that we love.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is (news) Ignorance Bliss?

Zite: Personalized Magazine for iPad from on Vimeo.

I remember when I was a little girl, my father used to sit at the kitchen table, with one knee bent horizontally over the other, arms stretched out, reading the Sunday paper.  While he was reading a particular section, whether it was Sports, Business, World or Local News, I would pick up a section he wasn't reading and mimic his posture reading the paper.  I would check out Tom Skilling's weather Q & A column, read my favorite comic strips or my horoscope, and scan for headlines that caught my interest.  When I had questions, we would discuss.  I'd read The Police Blotter to see if I knew anyone who was caught doing something so stupid, it warranted being written up and publicly humiliated in the newspaper. We would attempt to do the crossword puzzle together when we were done with the paper. I loved this time I got to spend with my father.  By time we were done, my fingers would have ink on them, and I’d leave evidence, accidentally of course, that I had read/touched the paper on the white kitchen table.  I also remember my Grandma’s hand written holiday or birthday cards she used to send.  They would always come with a newspaper clipping of The Family Circle cartoon.  That was her thing.

Fast forward to college where I studied Journalism.  I specifically remember being told the encouraging defeating lesson that newspapers are dying. The field in which you are studying to get your degree is dying.  Thus, by time I graduated, I was completely prepared for looking for a job outside of journalism.  I was aware that new forms of news were being created and that the Internet was quickly becoming/if not already had become the primary source for news for most people.

Today, my parents still get the Chicago Tribune and the local town paper.  Sometimes when I'm home, I flip through the pages briefly for any articles that might be interesting to read and of course steal the coupons. (Hey, I need to save all the money I can, trying to support myself isn't easy!)  Like most people my age, I don't subscribe to a newspaper right now. I get all my news from TV, the Redeye (local free daily paper) or the Internet.  I am not sure the percent, but I have heard that a large percent of the population age 18-35 get their political news from John Stewart.

Today, while watching Taxi TV in the cab on my way home, an ad came on talking about a new personalized magazine app for iPad users, called Zite.  It touts itself on being an intelligent magazine that allows you to customize and personalize subject matters.  Then it suggests topics based on your interests. That way you can read the news that only you care about. I am sure apps like Zite requires some effort on a reader’s part to set up the different topics of interest in order for the algorithms within to know what to recommend. My guess is that many people probably won't take the time to input all their interests and possible topics they would potentially like to read about. Thus, creating a limited amount of news for Zite to deliver. I would also bet that this kind of app, like fine wine, only gets better with time.

 I do not have an iPad so I have not had the opportunity to play with this particular app but Zite I know that it is not alone. There are many other sites out there, like Dailyme and News Republic just to name a couple.  I realize that many people get their news on their mobile phones and it is the latest trend to personalize your news. We already are an egocentric country, is personalizing our news so that we ignore anything outside our personal bubble really a good idea? Who does that benefit?

When I look at a newspaper, I glance at the page and scan for topics that I want to read about.  I might stop to read about the latest research on what pregnant women should avoid, or I might choose to read about the most recent developments in Libya.  But what if I hadn’t set up my personal news source to display articles on pregnancy? Because lets face it, that is not on the forefront of my mind because I’m not pregnant!  Or, what if I had not yet looked up anything regarding the rebellion? Have you ever seen a headline that looked so bizarre you just had to click on it? Or what about those random articles that sites like MSN have alternating at the top. One of today’s random headlines was titled 25 Weird, Wild Vending Machines. Now that was one wacky headline that caught my attention, but I never would have thought to add it to my my customized news source.  In fact, all these articles would have been overlooked on my personalized news source. 

If people select their own news topics and do not even have an opportunity to glance over other headlines, what will that do to our intelligence? Even glancing gives us an idea of what other news is out there, even if we don’t read the full article.  In general, as Americans, we look like dimwits when compared to people in other countries who speak two, three, four or even more languages fluently, when we can barely speak our own native language, let alone master a second language.  The basic fundamental knowledge that Americans lack is quite disturbing.  Have you ever watched the Jaywalking segment on The Tonight Show? Click here to watch The Best Of Jaywalking but be prepared to be appalled by your fellow Americans. It is rather pathetic that people don’t know things like who our first president was, who our current vice president is, what states border the U.S., who shot Abraham Lincoln, or what the D.C. in Washington D.C. stands for.  Maybe I am making an assumption that people, like those on Jaywalking, would even download an app that provides news. Perhaps they would be too busy with Angry Birds or Flood-It or watching shows like Wipeout? 

 The Internet is the grandfather of news selectivity. I admit I use it to get a large portion of my daily news. Call me old fashioned but I still like traditional news.  I like being able to scan zig zag from top to bottom, from page to page. In newspapers alone, I enjoy flipping through the different sections and selecting which news topic I want to read that day.  I like getting towards the end and reading the horoscopes followed by the crosswords and Sudoku, which I try to complete. I like the sense of accomplishment I get when I close the newspaper and know I finished reading it.   I know technology is advancing and changing how we receive our news and information. I know newspapers are struggling to stay afloat.  But I miss those days of cutting out articles, getting The Family Circle from Grandma, sitting with my father at the kitchen table reading, or seeing the news for the day in its entirety, and having the news given to me, rather than me customize it.

They say ignorance is Bliss. But we are only hurting ourselves when we are not aware of what is going on in the world around us.

How do you get your news? Do you think personalized news is a positive or negative advancement. Knowing how far we have come in so few years, how do you think we will get our news in 5 – 10 -20 years?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day

In honor of International Women's Day - I thought I'd share this video. The adorable Daniel Craig stars in this TV spot for  I am not a feminist but I do believe in equal rights for men/women and hetero/homosexuals.  If you only watch one video online today, watch James Bond here. I really couldn't have said it any better myself.

Happy International Women's Day


Love, Caryn

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Update

This weekend flew by! It wasn't all that eventful but it was a still a nice weekend anyway.

Even though I had to work Friday, my weekend fun started on Thursday.  I should tell you, I rarely win anything. Once, in high school, I won VIP tickets from a radio station to meet Jimmy Eat World. They gave a private performance in a record store to me, my friends and a few others who had also won. I was supposed to meet them privately but that didn't happen. It turned out to only be a CD signing line. Well, this past week my Boyfriend and I won eight free tickets Zanies Comedy Club! Hurray! We actually won something! Well his name was drawn, but I told him to enter, so I still get some credit. Right?  Anyways, we started our weekend off on Thursday with seven of our friends at the comedy club. The headliner, Baron Vaughn currently stars in the new hit show Fairly Legal.  Weird guy, but we had a great time.

On Friday, I had a nice evening full of me. Sometimes, it is really nice to have some quality-personal-relaxing-alone time, especially after a long stressful week. My boyfriend is in the midst of tax season right now, so he works late hours. Thus, I had the apartment to myself. I caught up on TV shows while sitting on the couch, being a bum. A.MAZ.ING. Saturday morning I went to my favorite yoga class. I try to go every Saturday morning. The teacher for Yoga Music Flow is fantastic and plays awesome music. This week she played Rolling in the Deep  by Adele, Forget You by Cee Lo Green and Blackbird by The Beatles and some Reggae too, just to name a few.  The music is key to helping class go by quickly and keeping my focus. If you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend this class at Exhale Spa.  I had gift cards to Borders and Barnes and Noble that I desperately wanted to use before they officially closed their doors so I bought some books and a few cookbooks online.  I am super excited to get those packages! If you have gift cards, I recommend using them ASAP.  (You can use them online if the store near you already closed/is closing and has no inventory left.) That night I celebrated a friend's birthday. At the party, I met this one girl and we hung out for most the night. It wasn't until the end of the night, when we realized that we had worked together. What a small world! Between cleaning the apartment, paying bills, doing laundry, grocery shopping ( I love Trader Joes!), and having dinner with the parents,  I had quite the productive Sunday!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? Please share!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hey, Will You Facebook Me?

I finally saw The Social Network this past weekend, on Netflix. I thought the movie was very well done, especially how it flashed back and forth between the past and the present.  I do not think it was worthy of Best Movie (The Academy apparently agreed with me) but it was an entertaining movie nonetheless. But I am not going to write a movie review today. I want to talk about Facebook itself.

I remember when Facebook first came to my university in the fall 2004.  The semester started and I began to hear little rumblings that this was the new "It" thing on campus. I thought, "What a silly website, this will just be a fad." I seriously questioned why people would want to document their every waking moment in detail, on the Internet, for all to see.  If people are friends, shouldn't they know what is going on and not need to read about it online? I didn't think people would care what Susie Q thought about her Econ class or that John was going to see a basketball game at Assembly Hall. (Mind you this was before we used the Internet for anything other than email, AIM, or researching and definitely before Twitter.)  I was told about the awesomeness of 'stalking' but I thought that was creepy. The four months that I protested felt like years, but eventually I caved because I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.  To me, putting pictures and personal information online seemed dangerous (and still does) so I was very reserved when I first signed up with my .edu account.

Through Facebook, we find out that “friends” are getting married, having a baby, that they like the latest pop song, or are moving away on our Newsfeed. I think the whole concept of a 10-year high school reunion has changed now that we have constant updates on the Internet, 24/7. Gone are the days of getting reacquainted at the reunion with people you haven't heard from in years, or being shocked that Lindsay married the guy in your English class, or even that Andrew finally accepted his sexuality. In some circles, a relationship is only "official" if it is on Facebook. We know about people’s lives without even talking to them! 

Jobs and College admissions We've all heard that employers use it as a tool before they hire/fire you. I know of someone who didn’t get the job in radio sales because he didn't have an online presence.  Even some colleges are using the website to recruit students. One Harvard recruiter said, "But when you’re looking at a tie between equally talented students, social media content could be the tiebreaker."  Jobs are one thing, but college admissions? Getting into college is hard enough; I do not think Facebook should be a tiebreaker. Kids worry about things like SAT or ACT scores, GPA’s, and whether or not they did enough extra-curricular activities.  Now students have Facebook to worry about, too? This article goes into more detail about this, so be sure to check it out. Facebook Profiles Are Now Part Of 80% Colleges’ Admissions Outreach

Facebook stripped us of privacy. It started when the creators made it open to the public and not just .edu accounts. They added a phonebook with our personal cell phone numbers, and then they sold our information to 3rd party vendors.  I disabled those features real fast. Facebook is open to everyone and anyone, so that means just about anyone can see your phone number?  This is a breach of privacy and violates our sense of security.  I should be able to control who has my phone number, not Facebook.  We, as a society, don't really think much about privacy until ours is personally violated. We are a generation of “it won’t happen to me” attitudes.

Photos - I honestly do not remember if photo albums were on the website when I first signed up, but I do know that I finally posted my first album in November 2005, nearly a year later.  The pictures we put up become property of Facebook. And even if we delete them, I heard Facebook still has the rights to the photos, or at least they used to. Speaking of photos, not everything needs to be uploaded. Yes, birth is a miracle and a beautiful thing. That being said, I think it’s okay to post pictures of your newborn but wait until it is cleaned off, wrapped up, and has bonded with mom, before you post the picture.  Mother-baby bonding is more important than uploading a photo to Facebook.  For more on Facebook etiquette be sure to read Linda's excellent post How not to be an asshole on Facebook.

Facebook's impact. Facebook paved the way for other inventions like Twitter, Foursquare and Farmville, just to name a few. It has changed the employer and employee relationship. It helped form the rebellion in Egypt, one person even named his kid Facebook!  It helps reconnect long lost friendships.  It is ironic because while Facebook helps some people “keep in touch”, we are not social beings anymore. We sit behind the computer and stalk, tweet or search. Have you been on a city bus lately? Everyone is looking down at his or her phones, iPods or Kindles. Our interpersonal, social, and communication skills are hurting.

If there is ever a time to admit I was wrong, this would be it. I was wrong, people! I could never have imagined, even in my wildest dreams, the impact that Facebook would have on society, technology advancements and even on how we communicate, or lack thereof.  Today, Facebook is even on As you are well aware, common phrases like “Facebook me”, or “OMG, he friended (or de-friended) me!” are all part of our daily vocabulary. 

Can you remember life without Facebook? What was your initial reaction to it? Have you ever been frustrated and considered de-activating your account? What are your thoughts on this? Please share!

I thought it would be fun to share the first message I ever sent.   It was sent to a high school friend at another university.

Caryn Levy November 8, 2004 at 6:10pm
Hey! So people here have been nutty about this all semester, and I was like no way! But I gave in, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! How r you?! I miss you! xoxo

Love, Caryn

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