Syracreamsicle Recall

**IMPORTANT RECALL INFORMATION FOR OUR CUSTOMERS**

We have just become aware that a batch of our most popular ice cream flavor, Syracreamsicle, may have been contaminated with Salmonella.  We have stopped production and issued a full recall on all our Syracreamsicle flavors.

No one has been affected and we are sanitizing all of our facilities and working closely with the CDC to isolate the problem and ensure that this is a one-time incident.

  • If you have purchased Salt City Ice Cream’s Syracreamsicle between June 1st and June 9th, please return it to any store that sells Salt City Ice Cream for a full refund. 
  • If you believe you may have ingested potentially contaminated ice cream and are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this incident may be causing our customers and want to thank those that are retweeting our recall messages.  Your health and safety is–and continues to be–our number one priority.

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5 Reasons to Keep Reading

Let’s say for the sake of argument that I have a knitting blog, instead of a blog about knitting, crocheting, writing, publishing, and how many times my cat has peed on the carpet in the past week (I’m happy to report only once this time).

<—-Culprit

So, now that you’re imagining this is purely a knitting blog, these are the top 5 ways I’m going to improve this blog and, coincidentally, they’re also the top 5 reasons why you’re going to want to stick around:

Number One: The Posting Schedule

You’ll get a new post from me every day, but Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are going to be special.  Every Monday I’ll post pics or do a short vlog showcasing the projects I’m working on and any progress I’ve made.  Wednesday will be Project Lust day, when I share links to all the projects I’ve found that I can’t wait to get on the needles (despite the fact that all my needles are already in use from previous projects).  And Friday will be Stash day, where I post pics of any new yarn or knitting tools I’ve picked up.  And on weeks where I haven’t had the time or the cash to grab anything new, I’ll be doing more of a Yarn Lust post about all the fibers out there I wish I had.
  <— A small sample of my stash (I can’t keep the whole giant mass of yarn in one place or it might get too unwieldy, glom into some sort of sentient yarn monster, and probably eat me)

Number Two: Let’s Talk Yarn, You Guys

What would be the fun of posting pics about my knitting projects and yarn hoarding if it’s just me?  I want to see your stashes and your projects as well.  So whether you want to leave a comment linking me to your WIP on Ravelry, or your own post on your site, or even if you just want to give me a brief description about what you’re doing, I’d love to hear it!

Number Three: The New Fiber Challenge

I tend to stay in my comfort zone when it comes to fibers.  I started with acrylics, and those still make up the majority of the yarns I work with.  I’ve only recently branched out into using wool and some cotton (mostly because Knitpicks makes them affordable).  So I’m going to make it my goal this year to branch out into new fibers I’ve never worked with before.  I’ll weigh in with my experience using each one, discussing the pros and cons and how they compare to my trusty old acrylic yarns.

Number Four: Square of the Month

I always want to participate in knit-alongs, but I’ve always got so many projects going that I don’t want to commit.  So I’m going to make one afghan square a month highlighting a different technique and everyone is invited to knit along with me.  I’ll post the pattern for the new square on the first of each month, and at the end of the month we’ll all share what we’ve got.  There’ll be a poll each month to vote on what technique the next square will use, and at the end of the year, we’ll all have unique 12 square afghans to share.

Number Five: Categories and Tags

You might have noticed that I’m a bit lax around here when it comes to categorizing my posts and especially with adding tags.  Well, no longer will you look at my mess of blog posts and wonder where those links to guerilla knitting sites went.  Now you’ll be able to sort through the blog archives with ease because I’m going to go through all my backlog of posts and add the right categories and tags to each.

Amelia Earhart Found after 75 Years

Amelia Earhart’s plane has been missing for 75 years.  The female pilot went down during her attempt to fly around the world in 1937, but her plane was never found, and she was never seen or heard from again.

Or was she?

New evidence has just been discovered that Earhart and her navigator, Noonan, may have landed safely on Nikumoro–or Gardner’s–Island, an uninhabited island in the West Pacific, and sent out 57 radio distress calls.  But these calls were ignored and the two person crew never found.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery believes Earhart made these distress calls from the island, until her plane was swept away into the sea.  A jar of anti-freckle cream has been found at the site, further proof that she may have crash landed there 75 years ago.

The group has been searching for Amelia Earhart for 24 years and will test their theory on July 2nd, the 7th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance, by visiting Nikumoro Island, where they hope to find evidence of her remains.

For more information, see this CNN article.

Knitting Inspiration Links – Guerilla Knits

Looking for some rebellious knitting inspiration?  Whether you’re working on a colorful sweater for the tree across the street, looking to decorate the sign posts outside your yarn shop, or thinking about covering an entire bus in knit graffiti, these links are sure to inspire your inner fiber arts rebel.

Cheekbones and Couture This post showcases guerilla knitting from across the globe, including a British telephone booth covered in yarn, a couple trees with bright, quirky sweaters, and a bus that’s been yarn bombed from roof to tires.

Aka Tombo Millinery Another picture showcase guerilla knitting, here you can view lamp posts, street signs, bike racks, statues, and more that have all been knitted over in amazing rebellious works of art.  There also another view of the bus from the first post.

Knitta Please An article on Wikipedia explaining the knit graffiti movement and how it got started.  Short and to the point with a few example pics.

Magda Sayeg  The founder of Knitta, Please shares some of her greatest guerilla knitting conquests, including famous landmarks around the world.

Knit the City A fun site dedicated to the yarnstorming movement in London.

Winter Knits – The Top Five Warmest Fibers

I know it’s summer and not everybody’s thinking about Fall and Winter yet.  Here in Seattle, it’s been unseasonably cold (even for the NW and our notoriously short summers).  My toes have been freezing, which reminds me of my friend Laura, who has Raynaud’s and gets horrible pain in her toes when she gets cold.  She’s been living in sunny CA for the last few years, but now is moving back to rainy WA this summer and I want to make her a pair of socks.  Not just any old socks, but warm socks.  The warmest socks I can make.

So I did a little research on which fibers make for the warmest knits, and this is what I found:

  1. Musk Ox –  the Musk Ox’s undercoat, also known as Qiviut, is made up of hollow fibers that hold in air and provide extra warmth.  Yarn made from the Musk Ox is supposed to be 8 times warmer than wool, super soft, and stays warm even when wet.  It’s also about $100 a skein, so not exactly a practical buy.
  2. Great Pyrenees – yep, this is yarn made of dog fur.  The Great Pyrenees have a double coat–an outer layer of more coarse fur and a soft undercoat–and is said to be 10 times warmer than wool.  Not nearly as expensive as Musk Ox, but a bit difficult to find, unless you know someone with a Great Pyrenees and a spinning wheel.  I also read somewhere that it can be itchy.
  3. Possum – New Zealand has a possum problem, and one of the ways they’re dealing with it is to create a market for possum fibers.  Possums have long, hollow fibers, and yarn made from their fur is up to 40% warmer than wool.  It’s also supposed to be super soft and fluffier than Angora.
  4. Alpaca – Alpaca is the only fiber in this list I’ve actually gotten to try, and it is very soft.  I’ve read that it’s also 7 times warmer than sheep’s wool, but has some of the same sturdiness and will keep its shape.  Alpaca is readily available both from commercial suppliers and independent sellers.
  5. Cashmere – can be expensive, since it’s a luxury fiber, but is also extremely soft and warm.  It comes from the underbelly of the Mongolian goat and is shed naturally, though it can take years for one goat to produce enough fibers for a sweater.  The quality and price can vary, but pure Cashmere, while wonderful to touch, may be out of the average knitter’s price range (me included).

There are of course a lot of other warm fibers out there to knit with as well.  I was a bit surprised to find out sheep is pretty much the lowest on the list for warmth, though some sheep–like the Icelandic sheep–are warmer than others.

If anyone’s curious, I decided to try out possum and alpaca for the socks I want to make.

Naming Potential

Here are my naming suggestions for the three blogs assigned to us this week.

1.  For a small bakery in Syracuse named Bill’s, I choose Bakery Bill’s.  The name is reminiscent of Buffalo Bill, making it more intriguing than just “Bill’s,” and also helping to make it memorable.  The domain http://www.BakeryBills.com is available.

Pros:

  • Catchy and easy to remember
  • Available domain
  • Incorporate’s the name of the shop–Bill’s–but also makes it clear what it’s about–baked goods

Cons:

  • Isn’t the actual name of the store
  • People might misread the domain name as “bakery bills” and be confused

2.  For Fang Films, a straight to DVD movie studio that produces horror films, I suggest the name Fangtastic Films.  The domain name http://www.FangFilms.com is already taken–otherwise it would make a simple, easy to remember url.  However, http://www.FangtasticFilms.com is available and is still short, to the point, and memorable.  It conveys that they make horror movies and makes a slight pun that indicates both that their films are fantastic and that they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Pros:

  • Easy to remember
  • Available
  • Indicates what the site is about–horror movies
  • Creates a fun vibe that is neither too serious, nor too hokey

Cons:

  • Since FangFilms.com is already taken, users might still go there instead and be confused
  • The company might actually take themselves very seriously and the name might not give off an appropriate vibe for them

3.  For Happy Pup Doggy Day Care, a new doggy daycare business in Syracuse, I suggest using the name of the business as the blog name and for the URL: http://www.HappyPupDoggyDayCare.com.  Even though it’s long, many shortened versions of the name were already taken, and since it’s a business, it should be easy enough for customers to remember and type in the full name.  And as for users searching for doggy daycares online, the name is self-explanatory.

Pros:

  • Same name as the business
  • Customers don’t have to remember a different name for the blog
  • Available domain name
  • It’s clear right away what type of site it is

Cons:

  • A bit long for a URL
  • Doesn’t really stand out

Which Platform Suits Your Needs?

With all the available blogging platforms available today, it can be hard to choose which one is right for you.  Are you a WordPress person?  A Drupal person?  Are you blogging to build your business or to have fun with your friends and other like-minded people?

There are too many combinations of people, purpose, and platform to go through them all, but let’s go over a couple of possible scenarios:

1.  You’re a giant coffee retailer looking to connect with your customers.

Most of you reading this are probably not giant coffee retailers, but if you’re any kind of retailer, your purpose is probably still going to be making that customer connection.  If this is you, you’ll want to check out Compendium, a website platform for drawing users in with your company’s and your customers’ stories.  You can easily add customer testimonials about your products and use them to engage readers.

2. You’re a photographer interested in making your work go viral.

You need a platform that easily allows you to post your latest pics and that lets your followers share them with their friends.  If this is you, you’re going to want to sign up with Tumblr.  Users can reblog your content, adding comments and showing it off to their friends, who can then reblog it again, etc.  Each reblog keeps track of where the post originated and who’s liked the post, shared it with others, or made a comment, giving it a snowball effect and the potential to go viral.

3. You’re a Syracuse Crunch hockey blogger looking to write daily updates.

You want an easy-to-use platform you can customize to fit your style and give your readers a sense of who you are.  A Blogger site is easy to set up and has a drag-and-drop layout system, making it easy to customize the look of your site without any technical know-how.  There are tons of themes to choose from, and you can even upload your own.  You’ll get a stats feature built into your account that will let you keep track of how many people are reading your posts.

Hopefully this gives you a sense of where your starting off point might be, depending on what type of person you are and what your purpose is.  Choosing a platform can be overwhelming, but it can also be a fun way to express yourself and open up a channel to connect with your readers.

Blogger vs. WordPress

I’ve been using WordPress for years, but once a year or so I get it into my head that I should switch to Blogger.  I never actually have, though I’ve made Serious Claims and I do have an account there.  I think what appeals to me about Blogger is that it feels simpler and more hands-on than WordPress, which can feel overly complicated sometimes.  Also, Blogger makes it easy to import pictures from Picasa, which is what I use to upload pictures anyway, so it takes a step out of linking to photos.

So who is Blogger for?  Blogger’s changed their behind-the-scenes interface since last time I claimed I was going to switch to it, but it’s still very easy to use.  It’s easily customizable with a drag-and-drop layout system.  It automatically tracks your stats with Google Analytics (since it’s owned by Google), and you can view them without having to go to another site.  Blogger also makes it easy to incorporate Google’s AdSense to earn revenue from the blog.  You can also access the other blogs you’re reading, just like Google Reader.  It’s a great platform for users who want easy access to useful, customizable features without needing technical knowledge.

Pros:

  • Easy customization, including drag-and-drop layouts
  • Behind-the-scenes interface is more user-friendly
  • Google services like Picasa, Google Reader, and Google Analytics already integrated into the site
  • It’s easy to connect with other Blogger users

Cons:

  • Even sites with their own domain names still show the Blogger bar at the top of the page
  • Not as customizable as WordPress
  • You can’t import an existing WordPress blog into Blogger

Blogger sounds pretty amazing, actually, and I can see why I keep being drawn back to it.  So why do I stick with WordPress?  For one thing, I don’t want to lose all the comments and posts I’ve built up over years of blogging.  And even if WordPress can be frustrating at times (when it refuses to install new features or themes properly), it’s also extremely customizable.  Its interface isn’t as intuitive as Blogger’s, but the more I learn about how to make use of WordPress’s features, the less intimidating it is and the more I like it.

Pros:

  • More customizable than Blogger
  • You can import an existing Blogger site into WordPress
  • You can use your own domain name without a bar at the top of the page

Cons:

  • WordPress can be extremely frustrating when not working properly
  • Less intuitive interface
  • No built-in social networking

An average person looking to start more of a blog than a website, who wants convenient tools and integration with Google and who doesn’t want to deal with any technical issues, might be better off going with Blogger, at least to start with.  Someone looking for a more professional website who isn’t afraid of a little technical difficulties–or who can hire someone else to deal with it–would be better off starting with WordPress.

Why Am I Taking IST400/600 – Blogging for Information Professionals?

I’m a grad student at Syracuse getting my MLIS through the distance program.  I live in Seattle, WA, and pretty much everything I do these days involves communicating with people online.  I’ve been blogging for years, starting with Live Journal back in 2004, though my main blog now is a WordPress blog on my website.

I write books for teens, and before I was published, I blogged constantly.  I always had something to say (to my, like, ten followers), mostly about my struggles as a writer.  I thought when I got published that’s when I’d really have a lot to say, but my post count has actually become almost non-existent.  Partially I blame Twitter, because now if I have something to say, that’s where I’ll say it instead of writing a whole blog post about it.

But also I feel more pressure about blogging in general, because if I post an opinion, people WILL tell me if they disagree.  Also my parents read my blog now and call me to discuss each post.  I still have plenty of struggles in the publishing world, but now that I’m an author, it’s not cool to post about them.  Especially if I ever want another book contract.  So I feel pressure to only post about positive things.  And I have no idea what my followers want to read from me, so I tend to not write anything, and then the more I don’t write, the more it feels like the next post has to be Important, but that just makes it harder to come up with anything, and when I do write one, I can’t help thinking, “What kind of phone call am I going to get from my parents about this?”

So ANYWAY, a lot of my professional life involves blogging effectively, and, while I know how to blog in general, I feel like I’ve lost the “effectively” part.  So what I’m hoping to get from this class is reclarification on building an audience, how often to post, what to post about, and how to deal with blogging as a professional, whether it’s an information professional, a writing professional, or whatever other professional projects I take on.