Fooducate to Eat a Bit Better

FooducateLast week I attended the Small Business Workplace Wellness Conference and I really enjoyed it. I usually enjoy any conference not in my industry (I crave information) but this was a really nicely done, small event. So, not only am I going to torture myself with living a better lifestyle but I have tools to torture my colleagues as well (insert evil laugh).

One of my first orders of business when I left the conference was I bought a whiteboard, hung it up above of company snacks that are always readily available and I graded each item. I graded them using this really cool app Fooducate. I wrote about Fooducate for Guiding Stars this April too.

With Fooducate, you simply use your wicked smart phone and scan the bar code on almost any item of food and it grades it for you (A – F). You can also search for a food by name if you don’t have a bar code. Not only do you get a grade for your item but you also get healthier alternatives to that item and the reasoning behind why your items is getting the grade it is.

Cool ‘eh?

I even like their tagline: Fooducate – eat a bit better.
Their logo is pretty cute too.
Did I mention the app is free?

I really do use this app. I like it. As we know, eating better isn’t about freakish diets, it is about small changes you can make just to eat a bit better. You want to make a change in your diet that you can maintain.

So I wanted to tell you about the app too. Also, pretty much all the snacks at work got a C- to a D. I have my work cut out for me!

Search for Any Image on the Web and a Story About a Home Wrecker

Yes, I know this blog is all over the place – but that was the warning I gave you with the very first post. Some things just aren’t a good fit for other places that I write, so I am going to put them here.

How cool is this?!

Henri Matisse Purple Robe and AnemonesHave you checked out Google’s Search by Image yet? Well if not, chalk this up to something cool and I will let you figure out how you can use this.

Now you can search for information on any photo on the web or that you have on your computer. All you have to do is go to Google’s Search by Image and you can either drag and drop your image into the search bar or click on the camera icon and upload the image you want to search.

The results may be all over the place as Google learns how to ‘read’ and identify photos but they can also be pretty cool.

Need a video to how you how this works better? Watch it here

How I finally got to use it

I have known this for a few months, but I had yet to try it until this weekend. As you may know, my office recently moved into the Casco Bay Technology Hub. With the move, we got a new neighbor who has shared in my pangs of having to decorate a new office.

Our new office neighbor brought in print that she liked but she was afraid to hang it because she heard a rumor that the woman who was the focus of the painting was a ‘woman of the night‘. She didn’t want clients or art snobs to point out the painting of a prostitute she had above her conference table.

So what I did was took a picture of the print, uploaded it to Google’s Image Search and voilà! With my quick search, I found a calendar of paintings by Henri Matisse. A little more searching and I found the name of the painting – Purple Robe and Anemones. With the name of the painting, I was able to search for the model – Lydia Delectorskaya!

So was she a whore?

LydiaNo, but Henri’s wife thought she was. Lydia was a model who became Henri’s artist assistant. After years of service she started modeling for him, she even lived with the artist and his family. After awhile, Mrs. Matisse, had about enough and was convinced something was going on with Henri and Lydia so she kicked the model/assistant out.

Even after Lydia was out of the house, Henri’s wife was not convinced of his fidelity and she left him. Eventually Lydia moved back in with old Henri and was his caretaker in his final days. So she may not have been a prostitute, but she was a home wrecker.

Thanks Google Image Search!

The Future of My Library of Crappy Books

wall of booksI read books. I alternate one business book and then one ‘for me’ book. I dream of having a library, one of those ones where you need a ladder to reach all of the books in my collection. I want the library to cover all of the walls in the room. It will look very sophisticated – from afar.

When you get closer to my collection of books, you will notice that they are all very crappy books. You see, I love buying books, I love reading them but then if I LIKE it – I love to pass it along to a friend, family member or the woman next to me one a plane because I think they will enjoy it. I usually don’t get a lot of those back but I don’t mind. I hope that they in turn maybe lent it to someone else that they think will enjoy the book.

So as I giveaway all of the books I liked, what I am left with in my slowly growing library are all my crappy books that were just ok, that too many other people have, that I for some reason had multiple copies of etc.

In walks the Kindle

Now we add a new player to my crappy library dream – my Kindle. I love it. I can have dozens of books on me at all times. I can switch between them or read them in order. I can buy new books on the go. The books are cheaper. My carry-on luggage is so much lighter!

I dream of JeannieI just read two books that I wished I could share with someone. Last night, I finished The Help. I really enjoyed it and wanted to pass it along to a friend but I can’t because it lives inside my Kindle – like Jeannie in her bottle from I Dream of Jeannie.

I guess I could lend someone my Kindle, but that is weird and my next 4 books I want to read are already queued up in there. Other than that my options are to just tell people about it and delete it from my device. I have been able to handle that for the last 8 or 9 books I have read. Just today I started to worry about the larger implications of this – my crappy library!

How am I going to fill my crappy library if all my books (crappy and good) are stuck inside my Kindle like I Dream of Jeannie? Do I build the four walls of shelves that I would put my books in and instead just place my single Kindle and tell people – there were thousands of books read on that thing?

I am a nerd for a living but in this instance, the technology is interfering with a dream I have always had. A whole physical room or space is being threatened by a convenient, pretty, practical, little invention that I love dearly. What is a dreamer and reader to do?

Photo credit: Mr. T in DC

Conference Necessities

The product links in this post are affiliate links. That means, in short, if you click on them and buy something, I might make a fraction of a penny. I am telling you because I am legally bound too, not to urge you to buy anything. I love and use all of these products.

Bear Conference NecessitiesI am leaving for Washington DC tomorrow for a conference for work. I kinda forgot too. I go to my fair share of conferences each year. This one snuck up on me, but that is fine. Things have been busy and my mind has been on other things.

The thing about conferences is after 10 or so, you sort of have the routine down. I have a good idea of the things I have to pack and what I need. I thought I would share some of my conference necessities, no matter the conference, these are the things that help me get through a long week or so of networking and learning.

Top 12 Conference Items

  1. Hand sanitizer (health needs) – Conferences are for meeting people, hunderds or thousands of people. After a lot of conferences, everyone is sick. New people from all over the country have all kinds of nice germs that you can’t fight off because you are out of whack, overtired and constantly exposed. A small, pen sized hand sanitizer, like Purell Spray Pen should do the trick. Just a little spray here and there can help and you don’t feel like a weirdo lugging around a jug of Purell.
  2. Airborne (health needs) – Just like above, meeting people and flying when your system is weekend is dangerous. I don’t even know if Airborne works but it makes me think it works so I take it. It also has vitamins and healthy stuff in it, so it doesn’t hurt to take it.
  3. Filtered Water Bottle (health needs) – I recently purchased a Brita Bottle with Filter and I love it! You can fill it from water from any tap and it filters in the bottle. Ice cubes also fit in there perfectly. Being a Mainer, I am spoiled with delicious water. Now I can tuck this is my bag and fill it whenever, wherever! We all know water is so good for you and for keeping you healthy. Why chance it by hoping they have water in the sessions and make sure you have a back up plan.
  4. Running shoes (health needs) – One of the reasons I picked up running is that you don’t need a lot of equipment. When you are away at a conference is a GREAT time to squeeze in a run (or a walk). Like the previous two examples, your body is run down at a conference but just getting up and about and sweating out some bad juju can really help you fight things off, feel energized and get you on track. You are also away with less of the distractions of home. I also like exploring a new city or area on a run. Obviously you need to be safe and know where you are going, but some of my favorite SXSW experiences were running around Lady Bird Lake. I got to see more of Austin than almost all of the hundreds of thousands of attendees. So bring your sneaks, lace ’em up and get out there (safely).
  5. Sheer Band-aids (health needs) – No matter how comfy you think your shoes are, there are few that can stand up to the work load you put on them at a conference. Drop a few Sheer Band Aids in your carry on and cover up any soft spots or cuts before they get out of control.
  6. Ballet Flats (fashion needs) – Conferences mean a lot of standing and walking. Most of my day to day pretty shoes can’t handle the stress of a conference. Heels are suicide, flip flops are unprofessional and end up hurting your feet too and sneakers just look funny. A good, comfy pair of ballet flats may be your best friend at a conference. The Gap has rarely done me wrong with their ballet flats. They are pretty durable and don’t cost a fortune.
  7. Fitted suit style jacket (fashion needs) – Conferences mean leaving your hotel room at 7am and not sure if you will be back before midnight. You might have an impromptu meeting, client dinner, drinks with a friend, been added to a panel at the last minute – not to mention constantly going from warm to overly air conditioned rooms. Having a nice fitted jacket that you can easily take on and off and not look unprofessional is key.
  8. Kindle (entertainment needs) – I read a lot and I read even more when I am traveling. My carry-on usually has my laptop, running shoes, camera and 4-5 books – that gets pretty heavy. I just got a Kindle 3G for my birthday and I am SO EXCITED to bring it with me and drop about 10 pounds from my carry on. I usually have the book I am currently trying to finish, one business book and then two or three ‘for me’ books that I bring. Sometimes you want to read smart things and sometimes you want to read brain rotting things (like almost anything with a pink cover). Now I can take as many books as I want with me and it won’t ever weigh more than 8.7 ounces!
  9. Angry Birds (entertainment needs) – Find a few minutes of downtime? Have to stand in line to pick up your packet? Want to look busy so that the guy across from you won’t talk to you? Two words for you – Angry Birds. I will be very busy throwing birds at pigs in houses trying to get my eggs back. If I save the eggs on the regular version there is still Seasons and Rio to save too. They need me!
  10. Mini power strip (sessions needs) – Being a plugged in gal, I use a lot of power when I am on the move. Adam got me this great mini power strip that tucks right in a pocket in my bag. It has three spots to plug things in. I could even share with a friend, if I felt like it.
  11. Big girl camera (new places needs) – Adam got me an awesome big girl camera (Canon Digital Rebel) for my 30th birthday (it was a gift for ‘us’). I love going to new cities and if it takes a conference to get me there, I am going to find time to go exploring. When I go exploring I love having a nice camera that I can bring with me to capture the things as I see them.
  12. A good, positive attitude (all around need) – Traveling is tough, being on your feet and constantly ‘on’ is tough, being away from your family and your own bed is tough. If you don’t have a good attitude about it, you will suffer and your chances of getting sick seem to go through the roof (not a doctor, just an observation). You have to have a good, positive attitude or your time will really stink. Load up your iPod with happy songs, make yourself go home early and get enough sleep, have a good breakfast – keep yourself as normal as you can and be happy you have this opportunity!

Those are some of my top conference needs! Hope some of this helps someone else! If I forgot something just let me know and wish me and Jenika luck in DC.

Have I told you neither of us have been to DC before? This should be interesting!

The Smiley Face Scale

Smiley FacesBIG conversation over the weekend on the smiley face scale. You know, which smiley faces (emoticons) mean what and what are the levels of their smiling.

We tiered the big 3 from lowest to highest:

🙂 [colon, close parentheses] – is your typical smiley. It means, I am smiling while I say this. It means, you can’t get mad at me for what I just texted because I ended it with a smiley face.

😉 [semi-colon, close parentheses] – is your winkey face. It says you are being silly, maybe sarcastic but you are too scared to not add the smiley for fear of coming off like an asshole.

😛 [colon, capital P] – is the ‘I’m so silly smiley’. It says ‘I am so crazy I just stuck my tongue out at you while I typed this’. It is a little over the top and Adam isn’t a big fan.

Of course there are thousands of variations of smiley faces but those are the biggest ones. Anything more than that in a text and you should be sure to lay the ground rules with the person you are texting or you could get yourself into some trouble.

Added bonus: I just learned this emoticon the other week
Conan O’Brien smiley face.
You are welcome!

Photo credit: South Carolina’s Northern Kingdom

Reflections from my 10,000th Tweet

I am on Twitter (@amanda_pants). Yesterday I sent out my 10,000th Tweet.

amanda_pants 10000th tweet

That is no major accomplishment or anything. I know lots of people who have tweeted much more than I have. Much like birthdays though, I found coming up on this number I was very reflective on Twitter itself, how my life has changed being a social media nerd and about some of the amazing people I have met on this cyber-journey.

And in case you have not figured this out on your own yet – I know, I think way too much.

So coming up on this Twitter milestone, I started thinking about why I joined Twitter and the people I met in the beginning. In this post I am going to quickly tell you my story and then I asked a handful of other people that influenced me on their thoughts on their early days of Twitter.

Why I signed up for Twitter

I signed up for Twitter in April of 2008. At the time of me writing this I have 3,358 people subscribed to my Twitter feed. When I joined I had just left my job at the radio station and was starting at my new job at Hall. I was sad to leave all my good friends at the station but I was really into nerdy stuff like web design, email marketing and helping people promote themselves on things like MySpace (oh yea, I said it). I knew the internet was what I wanted to be working with and the station just did not have the opportunities available that I needed to grow.

I was told to join Twitter by my friend and recent ex-coworker, Jeff Parsons. I thought, if nothing else, it would be a good way to geek out with Jeff online now that we wouldn’t be in the same office.

In the beginning…

When I started I had no idea what I was going to use this for (sort of like this blog). My original username was amnewell22. That changed after I realized a) this was getting kind of big b) trying to tell people in person my username was challenging and c) an impending marriage (and last name change) was going to make it make no sense.

I slowly started to connect with people in my area and some people that were just saying some interesting things. I did not know then, that some of those relationships I made then were going to change the next few years of my life.

Since joining and being active(ish) on Twitter I have met some amazing people. Some from right here in town that I don’t know if I would have met without the cyber-introduction and others from all over the world. The people I have met have asked me to come to invite-only conferences, to write for them, to share ideas with them or just to meet for a drink to talk about an opportunity.

What I use it for

I use Twitter to hear other people’s ideas, to laugh, as my primary news source, to connect with new people and get to know some people better. I use it to share my thoughts, what I am working on, events I have coming up and ideas I may have.

It is fun and it is easy to do. I can go days without tweeting and some days I tweet 20 times a day. It doesn’t matter. It is a stream of information. If I dip my toe in the stream, I collect some information and talk to some people. If I don’t, no harm – no foul.

People that influenced me in my early Twitter days

I asked some of my early Twitter friends who got them to join Twitter and to share someone that influenced them early on in their Twitter days.

I of course have to start with Jeff Parsons, morning show DJ (and a bunch of other things) for WJBQ who was the one who got me to sign up for Twitter. He also was kind enough to have me as a guest on his podcast ‘Word on the Tweet’ in those early Twitter days.

Jeff Parsons | @jeffparsons | Joined Twitter December ’07 | 1,848 Followers

Joined via @LeoLaporte and TWiT podcast and @ebertchicago‘s tweets influenced me the most. Twitter is his new voice and he tweets brilliance

Next I asked DJ Waldow, the Director of Community for Blue Sky Factory. Before his career at BSF, I remember catching up with DJ around a bunch of topics, including when he was selling his house on Twitter. DJ is a great example of someone using a new tool like Twitter to just extend their personality – in his case his helpful and social traits excel in this space.

DJ Waldow | @djwaldow | Joined Twitter March ’08 | 8,425 Followers

Who got me to join? Dylan Boyd (@dtboyd).
As you may be able to interpret from my first tweet on 3/27/08, I joined reluctantly.

I was VERY skeptical at first. VERY. Dylan certainly influenced me to join. I’ll never forget also getting an @ reply from Guy Kawasaki shortly after I joined. I was thrilled, shocked, amazed, humbled…and HOOKED from that point forward.

I also asked Rich Brooks, President of flyte new media. I had known of Rich for awhile. I really admired the work they were doing over at flyte. From the beginning of my Twitter experience you can always count on Rich for some good tips on internet marketing, a joke or a zombie reference.

Rich Brooks | @therichbrooks | Joined Twitter Nov ’07 | 7,209 Followers

Who got me into Twitter? Blogworld in general, Dave Taylor specifically. However, I saw how stupid it was and stopped using it almost immediately.
Six months later Des Walsh from Australia told me how he helped broker a business deal between someone in Texas and someone in China, and I realized I had missed something, so I went back and gave it another try.

I don’t know who “influenced” me per se, but besides the people already mentioned, Twitter for me got really interesting when I started talking to local people
who I might not have otherwise met.
Keith Luke, Chrystie, Jaica, Justin Ellis and you all come to mind.

So in my early Twitter days I met all these cool people and we were getting really nerdy-excited about all these things we could do online. It was helping us find reviews, new businesses, drive traffic to our websites and more. There was even a little company trying to take all these principles and make them standard and teaching other companies how to do the same. That little company was Hubspot. Hubspot CEO, Brian Halligan, was a huge influencer for me.

Brian Halligan | @bhalligan | Joined Twitter June ’08 | 8,763 Followers

I remember exactly who got me into Twitter — it was @ellieeille. At the time, she was one of our junior marketers and is now working in our product development department. I remember it well because she came to my desk and said something to the effect of “HubSpot and you specifically need to get into this Twitter thing, its gonna be huge.” I said, “Cool, can you show me.” Ellie showed me her latest tweet and it said, “my feet hurt from walking to work in my new shoes.” My response, “Twitter is BS.”
Two weeks later, I was hooked! ( – :

Not bad! So here is to another 10,000 tweets and hundreds of more new friends, experiences and wherever this nerdy social media life takes me.

Twitter birdHow about you? Are any of you using Twitter? When did you start and can you remember who got you to start? Did you think it was a joke? Do you still think it is a joke? I would love to hear more stories. I loved just these few I was able to get together!

Happy Tweeting!

Oh and if you are upset this post isn’t about Brody, here he is yesterday chillin on the back porch with Chili. Brody has his second chemo treatment on Tuesday and he is a very happy pup all around.

Photo credit: ryan2point0

The Thing About Birthdays…

Amandas 2nd BirthdayThe thing is for my birthday and Brody’s birthday (his is September 1st) I get really reflective. I think about where I am and where I want to be. I think this annoys Adam sometimes but I am not a party hat wearing, binge drinker on my birthday – I am usually pretty calm and I spend a good time alone and/or thinking about the state of me. I was surprised to see two men I respect professionally seem to take a similar birthday approach – CC Chapman and Chris Brogan.

Last year was the first year that I can remember that I had a hard time setting my goals. I have found and married an wonderful man who loves me very much and makes me very happy, we have a great little house of our own, we have two of the most fun dogs on Earth, I have a great family who love and support me, I have a good job that is near my home and I was feeling like I was really finding my way.

So my goal last year was more a basic idea – BETTER. I just wanted all the things I already had but I wanted to make them better. I wanted to spend more quality time with my husband, my family and my dogs. I wanted to eat better, become a better runner, take care of some things to make our house better, be a better friend, do my job better and all in all just be a better person.

I think I did a pretty good job with that. We really have had a great year. We have gotten to do some amazing things. I have spent some really great time with my family and I do feel better.

So what about this year?

Today I turn 32 **gulp** . Everything is about the same, generally speaking, as last year with some recent road blocks. My dog, who is just the love of my life is sick, my work is morphing and we are still working on getting Adam into school. Not a whole lot I can do about some of those, which is hard for me because I am ‘a fixer’.

So this year I am going to not go for specific goals but a general goal like last year. This year I want to become stronger. I have some big decisions to make, we have some changes to get ready for and I will feel more equipped to handle these things if I am stronger.

  • Stronger physically – Becoming stronger physically will help me achieve a few goals I have for running. I am not talking about entering any weight lifting competitions or anything but a little more muscle in this body wouldn’t hurt.
  • Stronger mentally – I am a constant learner. I read a lot, I write a lot, I go to a lot of conferences and webinars and I try to soak up a lot of information. I have been pretty busy lately and feel like this learning has slipped a little so I want to try to bulk up my brain a bit more this year too.
  • Stronger for Brody – As you probably know Brody has bone cancer and we recently amputated one of his hind legs. This has been beyond hard for me. I know that we are in our final chapters here but I want to be stronger for him so I can continue to make the right decisions for him and make sure our last stretch is a kick ass one. I want to make sure he is happy, knows he is loved and is well taken care of.
  • Stronger for my husband – How awesome is my husband? Pretty awesome. Our biggest ‘problem’ is that we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like (we work opposite schedules). He has a big year coming up and I want to be better about being there for him when he needs it.
  • Stronger for my family – My family is fantastic. We are unlike any other family I have seen before and I wouldn’t change that for the world. This past year I was lucky enough to get to spend more time with them. I don’t think I spent this much time with family since I was a little kid. It has been awesome. I want to keep that up and be able to help them if they ever need anything.
  • Make my company stronger – My work is in an interesting place. We are growing, moving and in the starting gates to take everything to another level. In the position I have, I am partially responsible for how that growth happens and making sure we execute it well. I want to make sure I do the best job I can growing our company for all the people that work there.
  • Be a stronger writer – One of my heroes, my grandmother, wanted to be a writer. Times were obviously different then but I can only hope she can see all of the work I do. I think she would be very proud. Writing here has been a tremendous help in finding my ‘voice’ and for sorting out some problems and sharing things that I think are important. I have a few projects I want to complete that will involve me taking writing more seriously so I want to become a stronger writer and be more confident in my own writing.

Oh, oh AND I want to make a fish tank out of a television. That is a goal for this year too 🙂 I have the television console… just need to figure out the fish tank part. I am serious.

So I guess those are my birthday goals this year – to just be all around stronger. I am excited to have a fun day with the people who love me and I hope you have a great day too! Thank you so much to those of you who take the time to read this, comment on this and support me in this weird little blogging project.