Since I posted the nativity version around Christmas, I thought I should share the Passover story as told through social media.
This post was written by jjarvis on April 18, 2011
If you check into any of the 100 locations around the country with ties to African-American history, you’ll get the badge during the month of February.
The only Iowa location is the Fort Des Moines Provisional Army Officer Training School at 7200 Southeast 5th Street in Des Moines. It was the training schol where African-Americans were trained to be officers in the U.S. Army during World War I.
Unfortunately – I don’t think I’m going to be in Des Moines this month to pick it up. But hopefully a few of you can!
This post was written by jjarvis on February 8, 2011
Most years, I work on Thanksgiving and the day after, so I’ve never faced the Black Friday decision. Last year I contemplated joining in before work, but decided against it.
This year, I’ll be spending the holiday weekend with my sister, and we find ourselves torn – to shop or not to shop?
While I haven’t found any sales worth braving the early hours, extreme cold, and complete chaos, I’m still preparing just in case I change my mind.
Most years, I browse the ads just to see what’s out there. I’m the type of person that I enjoy the real paper ads. I can circle and clip and combine and organize.
But the beauty of the online version is that you can prep earlier, create your shopping list and sign up for e-mail reminders. But I’ve written about that for the past two years on this blog, so I’m not going to cover the same ground again. Here’s a link to the 2009 edition.
This year – it’s all about mobile.
On the App front there are several Black Friday apps that scan in ads, let you create shopping lists, and browse by store or product. I tested a few of the free ones and TGI Black Friday is my favorite so far. It’s available for iPhone and Android.
But a deal is only a deal if it’s the best one around. I’ve mentioned ShopSavvy before, the app where you scan a barcode and see instant price comparisons. New this year is the Amazon app that let’s you scan the barcode or take a picture of the item to compare Amazon listings.
And the apps aren’t just about price. The mall where my sister lives has its own app. I can see a mall map, mall hours, check my gift card balance and even get a reminder about where I parked my car. That might come in handy considering I have difficulty remembering where I park my car on a normal day.
And for those of you in the geolocation game, don’t forget to check in on Friday. Several stores including Sports Authority and Toys R Us are rumored to be offering deals through Foursquare and Facebook Places.
For those who choose to join in – happy shopping! Feel free to share your Black Friday tips in the comments!
This post was written by jjarvis on November 22, 2010
Technology is awesome when it works, but can really ruin your day when it doesn’t.
I was so proud of myself and my creativity for my Mother’s Day present to my mom this year. Most of my regular readers know that my parents live in Tanzania, so unfortunately I can’t take her out to lunch or buy her flowers. The distance means that we have to get a little creative with gifts. If you plan far enough in advance, you can normally find someone traveling from the U.S. to Tanzania who can carry a care package. Otherwise, we go on big shopping sprees when we actually see each other about once a year to make up for all the ungifted holidays.
So for Mother’s Day, I came up with a thoughtful gift for my mom – a video chat. It doesn’t seem like much, but my mother frequently comments on the fact that she gets to “see” my sister but never gets to “see” me because I don’t have a Webcam. So I borrowed one for the weekend and planned to Skype my mom on Sunday as a surprise. I could almost hear the surprise and excitement in her voice as she walked into the office to see I was calling and then she’d see me pop up on the screen.
Tanzania is in the midst of laying the groundwork for a country-wide fiber optic network. While I was in Tanzania in December, driving across the country from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, we passed hundreds of people digging ditches by hand for the soon-to-come cable. And just this week, a new under sea fiber optic cable was being tested off the coast of Tanzania, which resulted in my parents losing their Internet service for almost a week. At least that was the reason they were given when they inquired about the outage.
And while we’re all excited about the progress, since their connection speeds when things are working has been much faster than it was when they lived in the U.S., it’s still disappointing when it keeps us from talking to each other.
We have an agreement that we never actually make a phone call to each other unless it’s an emergency since it is so expensive. Instead, we call each other on Skype. It’s free or extremely cheap which means we can talk as much as we’d like. But if the Internet is out in Tanzania, mom will normally send a text message to let me know not to expect a call on Sundays, our designated talk day. I could tell that her text message yesterday was tinged with sadness, as was my reply.
As I drove through my neighborhood yesterday on the way to the store, it was easy to feel sorry for myself, seeing all the other families gathered for cookouts and driveways packed with cars.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much technology has changed how I talk to my mom, and that one day of broken technology is still infinitely better than it used to be.
Last week, Tara was blogging about things she couldn’t live without and asked for my suggestions. My immediate response was the Internet, and it had nothing to do with GPS, Facebook or eBay; and everything to do with long-distance relationships.
When I was 13, I went off to school in Kenya while the rest of my family moved to Tanzania. That meant there was an international border and about a 12 hour drive between us. Our communication consisted of a short phone call each Saturday, if the unreliable landlines were actually working. There was no Internet those first few years, and it was even a while before we had basic dial-up e-mail access. And if something happened and the power was off or the phone lines were down, which happened extremely often, you had no way to notify the person waiting on the end of the phone. So that meant there were a lot of disappointed Saturdays.
Now I call my mom while I’m at the grocery store because I can’t remember what’s in her sweet and sour chicken, or I text my dad to see what kind of oil I should get in my car. And occasionally we’ll get on a roll and spend hours talking on Sunday afternoons. My parents are more accessible than ever before and instead of being one country away, we’re on different continents now. It’s cheap, it’s accessible and, most days, it’s reliable.
So my pity has turned to thankfulness. My mom sent an e-mail this morning saying things seem to be up and running, which means we can have a nice belated chat as I get ready for bed and as mom is waking up in the morning.
Even one day late, she’s still the best mom ever.
This post was written by jjarvis on May 10, 2010
Earth Day is like Valentine’s Day, and many other holidays for that matter. You don’t tell the important people in your life that you care about them only on Valentine’s Day, and if you believe in being environmentally friendly, it’s a lifelong commitment and not just a yearly celebration.
But, Earth Day is a chance to highlight the best the eco-friendly community has to offer. And here are some of the most interesting sites and apps I’ve come across on this particular Earth Day.
GoodGuide.com and its corresponding iPhone app claim to rate more than 50,000 products on their health, environmental and social impact. If you’re in the store deciding between Product A or Product B, you can scan the barcodes using the app and get an instant rating from Good Guide. The website provides methodology the company uses to develop the ratings.
Good Guide is going to rate basic household items but EPEAT focuses on electronics. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool is run by the Green Electronics Council. Products must meet 23 environmental criteria before being registered with EPEAT, then the products receive a bronze, silver or gold rating based on 28 additional criteria.
Mashable’s Recycled Gadgetry
Okay – something a little more creative. Mashable had an interesting post as part of series sponsored by Best Buy’s RecycleItOn.com. It includes 10 examples of innovative recycling including a chair made out of Playstation consoles and a necktie made out of cassette tapes.
And for some artistic flair, one of my favorite photo editing sites is looking for Picniked nature photos. Use the hashtag to share with the Twitter and Picnik communities, or follow the hashtag to enjoy.
Share your Earth Day finds below!
This post was written by jjarvis on April 22, 2010
I’ve blogged about my secret (or now public) love for Farmville…which some of you didn’t seem to appreciate. But, I like to balance the serious and the trivial. So here’s a little of the latter…
Harold Hocken sent this picture to the newsroom of a Farmville cake his sister-in-law Denice made for Easter. It even has the little pink drops over the animals to show they are ready to harvest. Harold says it took Denice over a week to finish all the intricate details!
PS – Does anybody else love the new co-ops as much as I do?
This post was written by jjarvis on April 9, 2010
Well, it’s been a tough financial year for most of us, and the holiday season isn’t going to help. I love to be generous, but I also have to be realistic and stay within my budget. And for some, the end of the year and the start of the shopping season may be the perfect time to get some financial training.
Starting next week, Iowa State University Extension program will be offering online holiday financial classes. Classes will meet for one hour on Mondays at noon or Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. The class covers everything from creating a budget and tracking expenses to credit and predatory lending.
For more information or registration forms, contact the ISU Extension office at 641-512-0650 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was written by jjarvis on November 27, 2009
It seems like a female right of passage. Your first Black Friday. A mixture of child-like anticipation, consumer-driven desire and competitive adrenaline. It’s an American tradition that I’ve never really had much interest in. Last year I blogged about Black Friday, but didn’t admit that I’ve never taken part.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop. I especially love Christmas shopping. But I’m more of a leisurely browser than a power shopper. I carefully plan each gift for my friends and family. And I do not like crowds when I’m shopping. That’s why all through college I would go grocery shopping in the middle of the night.
But, just like everyone else, I’m trying to save a few bucks, and I think I might take the plunge this year and have my first Black Friday experience.
Here’s what I’m using to prep:
These sites include product lists with photos, icons showing door busters and rebates, and include full scans of the original store ads. You can also choose to add items to a shopping list so you have a clear game plan.
I’m also adding an iPhone app to the mix. Tara Thomas introduced me to ShopSavvy. It will scan any bar code and then show you online listings for that product. Basically, it’s a way to do some comparison shopping in the middle of the fray. I spent some time running around the newsroom scanning books, food wrappers, the Kleenex box…just to test it out.
What are your Black Friday secrets? I’m looking for some guidance from the pros!
This post was written by jjarvis on November 20, 2009
Ahoy me mateys! Tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day!
I was introduced to this holiday last year, and it’s become something to look forward to. Who doesn’t love a chance to dress up and talk in a completely ridiculous manner because of a completely fictitious holiday?
Last year, media giants like Facebook and Google embraced the unofficial holiday. There’s been no official announcement, but I’m hoping to see the same features when I log on tomorrow.
Here’s my short list of pirate goodness.
Last year, 12seconds featured a feed of all the pirate videos uploaded to their site. Twelve seconds is really all you need to say an over-the-top pirate phrase. You can still see a bunch of the videos if you search their site, which has grown considerably since Tweetdeck added it as a toolbar feature.
Last year, Facebook and Google gave you the option to view pages in pirate. For example, on your Facebook menu at the top you’d see Home Port, Me Hearties, and Bottle o’ Messages. I just checked and “English (Pirate)” is an option under language settings on Facebook.
You can’t have an online guide to the holiday without a shout out for the official Web site. The site’s creators claim to also be the originators of the holiday. You can buy bootie, play games and investigate all things pirate. There’s even a tutorial on how to talk like a pirate (in English and German).
So…God speed and fair winds!
This post was written by jjarvis on September 18, 2009