Saturday, May 17, 2014

How I Use The Internet

The internet has had a profound approach on nearly every aspect of our lives. What started out (for the average person) as a means for sending messages, chatting with others, and playing games, has turned into a 24 hour research source, a way to pay bills, shop, and conduct business, as well as an instant delivery service for a wide variety of direct to user content from advertising to streaming favorite television shows.

When I think about how much time I spend in front of the computer on an average day... well, I really try not to think about it. (Thank goodness for my garden!) So much technology has evolved or come into being since 2009 when I posted the article, How I Use the Internet. Back then I said I mostly used the internet for correspondence and research. Of course, that was before the boom of social media...

How I use the Internet

At the time I first ventured onto the internet I didn't know very much about it let alone the potential of what it could be used for. I had seen journalists in movies and on television accessing some kind of massive computer library of information and I assumed the internet functioned much like that.
When I first discovered the internet I did not have access to it at my home, or even my own internet ready computer, for that matter. I think I first learned about it through a friend whose husband did some kind of work. They had internet service in their home and she was always on it, usually visiting the chat rooms. It was an outlet for her because at the time she was a stay at home mom.
A short time later I started out using the internet at my mother's house and in the beginning I would visit chat rooms and occasionally look up information. There was not nearly the amount of online resources then as there are today, but it was new and fun and because I had my own screen name on my mom's AOL account I was able to receive email.
Once I started to learn how to navigate around the Internet Super Highway I also learned how to download and save documents for future reference. The best thing about it was that when you wanted to do research you could do it at any hour of the day, unlike visiting the local library. Back then it was all via dial up service using your home telephone.
When I was able to start accessing the internet from home I would spend hours on it looking up all sorts of information on how to do things. At times I would not have the budget to go out and buy books and the internet was a valuable twenty-four hour resource for learning new information from a variety of sources I would not have been able to access otherwise.
Over the years I have gotten away from visiting the chat rooms. I ventured into the sphere of online dating briefly without success and I delved into some of the early social networking sites. I visited online game rooms and did a little shopping. During the time I didn't have a car being able to shop online made a huge difference in my ability to get the things that I needed.
At one point time I spent a lot of time on email reward programs like My Points and Bonus Mail (which are now merged into one program) as well as a couple of programs that no longer exist like Freeride. Those programs made a significant impact in my getting to go out during periods when I wasn't working via the gift cards and movie passes I earned.
Today a lot of things have changed. Now I mainly use the internet for email correspondence and I still spend quite a lot of time researching information. I occasionally play games and do a little shopping and I am the organizer for a meetup group. Recently I have been spending more and more time with passive income writing sites and I am trying to carve out some time to develop my blogs. I check my email multiple times per day and just I can not imagine my life without the internet.

How to Choose the Right After School Club for Your Child

One of the things I'm proudest of is my collection of articles on education topics written to Helium titles. While I was teaching enrichment classes in New Orleans area schools post Katrina, I had the opportunity to reflect on a great many things that were good and bad about the way education is approached now as well as my own experiences as a student growing up.

Those reflections are neither here are there, but for a short time I had a blog I titled "Engaging Kids, Enriching Lives. By the time I left teaching and ended up with my first ever grown-up day job, I'd also been involved with YES, the YMCA's adult literacy program. That led to another short-lived blog, Literacy is Important.

Because the demands of "real world" (as in not artist world) life (day job, moving out of the house for yet more post Katrina .renovations, etc.) once again got in the way, when I finally got back to blog posting I decided to narrow it down and deleted the ones I wasn't as focused on (Music that Makes Me, The Writing Life...).

If you look at the dates of my posts, it's obvious that time management is still one of my greatest challenges, and life is still throwing obstacles in my path. I am choosing to look at the closing of Helium as an opportunity to breath much needed new life into the blogs I have left, and for every article that doesn't fit into those (travel, wine, art/crafting, and New Orleans) Let Me Say It Well should more than suffice.

The first education topic article to transcend here is How to Choose the Right After School Club for Your Child. In some instances, an after school (or enrichment) class will be the option instead of a club, but the how of choosing is still the same.

If you're a parent, I urge you to keep in mind that while it's great to expose children to things with a sort of Liberal Arts kind of approach, it's also great to just let them be children. If they don't show an interest in something after a reasonable amount of time, let them move on to something else.

The article:

How to Choose the right after School Club for your Child

After school clubs are a great resource for working parents as well as for students. In addition to the social aspect, clubs provide an outlet for kids to engage in everything from art and drama to chess, and clubs keep kids occupied with something constructive until parents are done with the work day.
When it becomes time to choose a club for your child you’ll want to do so with his or her specific interests and aptitudes in mind. It is also good to consider your child’s current social skills as well as their strengths and weaknesses in order to pick a club that can help them grow or address any challenges.  
A child who likes singing might enjoy being in the glee club (especially with the success of the hit show, Glee), but if he or she is already in the church choir, you might instead choose to place them in something like a poetry club that might one day help them become a song writer.
While it’s obvious that an outgoing child could benefit from being in a drama club, there are many great benefits when you choose this option for a shy child. Being a part of the drama club can help kids develop or improve their self-confidence and become more comfortable speaking in front of groups. The vocal exercises help kids to become better, more articulate speakers, and mumblers can learn how to project and be heard.
Imaginative young children in kindergarten and first grade would benefit greatly from being part of a storybook club. Those in second, third and fourth who struggle with reading, could also benefit from some type of book club, particularly one where students take turns reading out loud and engage in discussions about the books that they have read.
Parents of creative students will want to choose clubs that allow them to express themselves and grow at a particular craft such as art, writing, and photography. These types of clubs will help students become more observant of the world around them as they learn about perspective and composition.
Every child should have the benefit of being a part of a service oriented club at some point in their academic career and when young children participate in service clubs they learn about important life skills and concepts such as compassion. Service clubs are also an opportunity for children to begin to develop leadership skills.
Academic clubs such those centered around Science and Math help children with an aptitude in those areas go beyond the book and the classroom to explore fun with numbers and interesting experiments. These clubs are ideal for children who might otherwise get bored during the school day when the majority of their classmates are working on a different level.
Game clubs are not just all about fun and play. Parents may want to choose one of these for a child who is still struggling with turn taking and fair play, or for kids with quick wit who enjoy a challenge. Games offer a variety of benefits and contribute to improved critical thinking and problem solving. Clubs that include strategy games such as chess help students develop skills they can use later in life.
More and more schools are offering parents and students fantastic options for a wider variety of clubs than have ever existed in the past. This means that parents can pick and choose based on their kids’ current interests, or expose them to something completely new. The benefits of clubs is far-reaching and all parents and students should take full advantage of any after school enrichment offered.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences. Those are the words of Silvia Plath and the inspiration for this "new direction" blog, which for the time being at least, will become the new home of the bulk of my more than 300+ articles now residing on the soon to be nonexistent Helium web site.

Naming a new blog is no easy task. What you may think of as a clever or appropriate name for your blog is quite often not going to be available once you finally get started. I've learned the easiest way to name a new blog is think of a phrase that goes with your theme and find a way to turn it into a usable title.

After several failed attempts at naming one of my previous blogs it was through a quote from Mikhail Baryshnikov that I finally arrived at To Dance Better Than Myself. This time though, the theme wasn't as cut and dry so it was more difficult to try and come up with a name. This blog is meant to be home to my writing, yet it's not a writing blog. It's not an ezine either, or a virtual archive, 

Once the articles have all been migrated, it's most likely that subsequent posts will be primarily OpEd in nature, though perhaps I'll be inspired to continue to create new articles in some of the topics I've covered in education or general How-To.

At any rate, Crafting A New Direction, can be daunting, tedious, and even time consuming. It occasionally happens in bursts as opposed to consistent ongoing periods, as you sometimes have to put your energies in other directions. Helium shuts down for good in 6 months. If I can transfer three articles per day, I'll be done in just over 100 days. It's more likely I will push do to as many as possible and then get a few more in here and there.

For a long time Helium was seen by many as being on a level above the internet content mills, but over time it became less and less profitable for experienced writers to post new content there. Other sites have come and gone as well, but as the ease of self publishing grows perhaps more and more writers will find it easier to create their own opportunities.

With four down and well over 300 to go, it may be a while before I produce any new content, but not long ago I did a guest blog post, and I've promised to review a dating book, so you never know what might turn up in this space in the future.

Stay tuned...