214 Simmons (Penn State) Offspring

J & A offspring

On our travels east – we stopped over at my freshman and sophomore college roommate’s house. We snapped a photo of all our kids before we left. It is just hard to believe we are all (me and my roommate) grown up and are raising potential Penn Staters!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4

Sonic 4Recently I have been playing a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It was one of my favorite games of all time and pretty much defined the summer of 1996 when I lived with a friend of mine who played that and NHL 96 with me day in and day out. I love(d) Sega and I was super excited to see they released a new true-to-Sonic- Sonic game (Sonic the Hedgehog 4 – Episode 1). I look forward to a new Sonic game with updated graphics and updated challenges. Any other Sonic fans out there that are going to get this game?

Call for All PSU Friends to Gather…

I received a long awaited phone call yesterday – from one of my favorite people of all time: Amy G (now Amy M after getting married). We had not spoken for some time – but it was great to catch up. Amy was Amy’s (my Amy) roommate freshman and sophmore year. Not only did we catch up and talk about our great times at Penn State – we decided that it would be great if we could get together again back at Penn State during the Penn State Blue and White game (annual spring scrimmage) on April 25th. I am hopeful that we can start an annual tradition with this.

So far – it will be me and Amy, Amy G, Casey, and I promised at least one Wessner – so hopefully I can pull that off. Parents/friends are welcome. We plan to get some sort of tailgating action together so hopefully we can enjoy some time together while talking about how we cannot believe it has already been ten years. Ken – you will be there, right? 😉

The Story of My Life – Told in the Header

For the last few versions of Jappler.com – I have had images in the header arranged in a way to tell a story.

  • My roots. This picture was taken out of my car on the road my parents live in NY.
  • My home. Old Main on the Penn State campus. I was destined to go to Penn State and it was my #1 goal since I was 3 years old (besides a few months in 7th grade when my #1 goal was to beat Super Mario Brothers) I spent a lot of time sitting on the front steps reading, people watching and hanging out with Amy.
  • Pita. Right after we moved to Chicago – I wanted a kitten and we chose Pita. She is my little helper.
  • Salsa. We figured Pita needed a friend so a year later after getting Pita – we got Salsa. Her name is perfect for her – she is a spitfire.
  • My Apple tattoo. Back in 2000 – I decided it was time to get a tattoo and what better and more meaningful than what changed and formed my life more than anything else?
  • My first trip to Vegas. I finally made it to Vegas in my early 20s and it was unforgettable.
  • September 11, 2001. This changed me – and probably all of us forever.
  • Chicago’s Bean. Millennium Park opens four years late – but is an awesome place!
  • Triscuit. My first dog – Triscuit who was absolutely amazing (and fast).
  • My mecca. Doug and I went to the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta. As a huge Coca Cola fan – this was awesome.
  • My Apple Cube. As an Apple collector – I had to have it (and it looked great next to my B&W!
  • Sears Tower. How could I not have this in my header? I absoltely love the Sears Tower and spending time in it.
  • Golf. I finally started golfing after a few years of not golfing and bought my first set of Ping irons – which I love.
  • My S80. This was Volvo #3 for me – and my absolute dream car. I cannot imagine getting rid of it.
  • Penn State football. After a rocky game at Northwestern that we were at – Penn State not only turned around their season, but their entire program.
  • Evan. My first born son brought a new perspective and endless entertainment into my life.
  • Colby. Colby – Triscuit’s brother found us right after Triscuit died and we feel very fortunate to share our time with him

And so you have it – the history of my life…all in a web site header collage of pictures.

Generation Social

As a history major – I tend to look at everything and find trends, think about what historians will write about our time, and all kinds of fun things that drive Amy crazy. The other day while I was thinking about playing Super Mario 3 on my Wii, I thought about the definition of being social (“interactions between people”) and then thought that my son Evan’s generation will most likely view our generation as very unsocial. We wrote letters that took days to deliver, interacted with people very limitedly, played games by ourselves, and worked independently.

Our definition of communication has completely changed. When I thought about it, I went to college before cell phones were really popular. If you wanted to get in touch with someone it was by phone, email, or by the chance of meeting someone. No one had digital cameras so most of our college pictures are tucked away in a shoebox somewhere in one of our friend’s closets. We had the beginning of networked games, but our interaction there was limited to typing in “hi” or “Don’t go in the dungeon without me Ken!”.

Now – we have instant access to other people’s statuses and whereabouts by the second. SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, cell phones, etc – people share what they are doing that moment, while other people can comment, look at your whereabouts, get notified the second any change has been made (RSS, etc), read about what you are doing/what you have done all in a community setting. People take photos and videos now and within seconds share the photos and video with family and friends…and even “strangers”. If you want to get ahold of someone – you can do so electronically and it is a good chance I will be talking to whomever I want within a matter of moments, not minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months.

The definition of face to face communication has also changed. The majority of us have high speed connections which allow us to chat via video so we can see our friends and family at any time, any place within seconds. No more waiting to see cousin x until our yearly trip to Germany. Same goes with business. Why have your office fly to somewhere to sit in a room with others while you could save money and time by doing business via video? Of course it is still nice to meet in person on occasion, but it is not always needed or the best solution.

Even gaming – all of my favorite games are highly interactive with my friends online. I cannot even tell you how many times I had to explain that I was a girl and not a 10 year old kid playing So Com II because we planned our attacks and defense using voice. I have friends online that I know I can play games with at almost any time…from scrabble to planning a sniper attack on the enemy.

On trips, I take photos with my iPhone and send them instantly to family members so they can see their grandson in his latest cute pose. Sharing no longer waits.

I look forward to talking to Evan about how he perceives me and my generation compared to what he knows and understands about the world. I am sure he will one day comment on how crazy it was to not have instant or almost instant access to everyone and everything.

Fall is in the Air

This is by far my favorite time of the year. Penn State football, cooler weather, fall golf, and no more bees…what else can you ask for? It brings me great joy to see Joe Paterno on the sidelines every Saturday – he is truly an inspiration. I hate being hot so the cooler weather (50s-60s) is a treat for me. Fall golf is the best. The courses are in great condition, not as many people are golfing, the prices per round are cheaper, and I always play better with my 2 iron after September 1st. Not dealing with nasty bees is a dream come true because if you know me – you know I am not a bee fan at all. Good times!

Music and My Life

I listen to music almost all day, everyday. Yesterday I grabbed the latest NIN album from: http://theslip.nin.com and it made me think about how the music stage is really evolving.

I realize there have been several recent changes that have really made everyone look at music and music distribution differently – but this was a big eye opener for me. I spent a good part of my life in music stores 60 miles away from my house (because that was the closest) while my mother was clothes shopping in the mall. I spent Saturday or Sunday afternoons leafing through CD after CD trying to figure out which one I was going to buy and then listen to on my Sony Discman on the hour ride home while my mother listened to her “oldies” on the radio.

I spent my college years doing the same thing, but this time I could walk to the record stores and I also had the option of looking at used CDs as well. Within the first six weeks of my stay at Penn State, I shelled out over $700 to buy all the NIN imports I could get my hands on.

I spent a lot of money on stereo equipment, speakers, and made sure my car had a great sound system because I love to listen to my music.

In the past ten years how I listen to, manage, and get new music has drastically changed. I cannot tell you the last time I was in a music store or what the last “physical” CD I bought. Most artists I listen to are not known to most because their music comes to me not through the radio, but through podcasts of their latest shows or featured on someone else’s podcasts. All my music purchases are through the iTunes music store (of course) and the most of my purchases are based on something I have heard on a podcast. Even though I have bookshelves full of CDs, I listen to my music through my computers, networked TiVOs or my iPhone. I do not even own a “CD player” besides the one in my car.

How does this all tie into the latest NIN album? The point I am trying to make is that almost all the music I listen to, enjoy, and think is the best stuff out there, is free (and legal) and from the internet…and the artists are pushing it like that. I think of telling my son when he gets older about how I had to drive 60 miles to buy the latest NIN album and it seems so antiquated when I downloaded the lastest one in a matter of minutes from my desk. I am very curious to see where this goes and if other artists will join Radiohead and NIN. This is a perfect example of when free is good and good is free. 😉

Career Advice for College Students (or Anyone)

I returned from a trip to my alma mater, The Pennsylvania State University, a few days ago after getting asked to speak at the History Department career fair. I was one of seven speakers at the event. We all had various non-traditional history degree careers (which was the point) and surprisingly we all had a very similar message to give to everyone.

  • Network. We all got to where we were by connections and relationships we had made along the way.
  • Get yourself out there. Most of our first job experiences were not what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives, but it gave us a place to start and a place to start networking.
  • Find something you love and specialize in it. This world is becoming a very specialized world and there is a job out there for just about anything. To separate yourself out – find a niche that you love and go with it. This really catapulted my business (WordPress and bbPress specialization)
  • Don’t wait for opportunities to come your way – make your own opportunities. So many people think “My boss will give me a raise if I work hard” or believe that if they do well – they will get what they deserve. This is not usually the case. Look out for yourself – and go out and get what you want in life!

Career Night Speaker at Penn State

I will be back in State College, PA in April to speak at the History Department Career Night. So, if any of you State College folks are around, I would love to get together with you while I am there (email me about my arrival/departure). I will be talking about my career outside of the typical History major norm (teacher, lawyer, etc) and how my studies at PSU prepared me for what I am doing now. I am quite honored and excited and look forward to seeing some of my old professors!

Nine Years Later…

Nine years later to the month that I proudly graduated from Penn State and I have finally paid off my student loans! This is a big day for me as I thought it would never happen. Now I can put my student loan payment towards’ Evan’s future college fund so he hopefully will not have much to pay when he graduates in 2029.