Sunday, July 31, 2016

7 Travel Tips for Social Media Safety

Occasionally, while scrolling through my social media feeds, I cringe and think, "Oh no, please, don't do that." 

Well, we probably all do during election season :) But specifically, my little red flags go off with concerns for people's personal safety with the info they're tossing out online -- especially while traveling. Rather than nervously comment individually on people's posts in an attempt to shield you all from harm one by one, ima just compile it here.

1. Don't post in real time.

One of my friends really took the champion cake for this recently by posting her Europe pictures an entire 2 weeks later, so convincingly that I had no idea her posts were delayed. When you're out and about, it's not a good idea to immediately post a pic of you, with an identifiable landmark in the background, with a location tag, with a bunch of hashtags that strangers can find you get the idea. Save those pics for later or the next day and post them safely from your hotel room or the next city on your route. No one's the wiser, and you're that much more unfindable by any real-time creepers.

2. Don't talk about your upcoming plans/schedule.

Bad Idea: "So excited to tour Vatican City tomorrow morning!" *insert arms-crossed NOPE emoji*

3. Don't mention when you're traveling alone.

Look, everyone has that Eat, Pray, Love fantasy of going it alone on an adventurous solo trek. If that's you, great! Just don't tell the world about it until later :)

4. Don't talk about where you're staying.

Photos, a hotel name, a picture of the street view from your window, etc. Your hotel/Airbnb is your safe space! Don't make it easy for random people to be able to track you down.

5. Don't post info about your home situation.

Sure, it's tempting to post pics of that cute new house you bought with that visible house # and uniquely identifiable paint color in the background. It's tempting, and it's also a terrible idea -- especially when you've also posted while traveling so people know your home base is empty and unguarded. Also, one of the most common ones I see: posting on Twitter/Facebook about how nervous and/or excited you are when your spouse or roommate is out of town and you're home alone in your dark, quiet house (no! don't do this! horror films are made of this!).

6. Don't post pics of your boarding pass, train ticket, etc.

If you really want to use it in a photo, arrange the shot so any trackable details (flight #, departure or arrival time, etc.) are hidden. How many times have I covered private info in photos with my thumb or other random objects? It's like an art form. Good job, thumb and other random objects.

7. Skip all of the above, and make your account private.

If you want to run free with any of the above, you could just lock your accounts down and make sure you legit know and trust every person who you let follow you. Personally, I prefer a public account (at least with Instagram and Twitter) and an appropriate level of precaution.

And while we're on a roll....

Bonus Non-Travel Tip: Never post your exercise route.

I love when people are excited about a run they completed. I feel super nervous for these same people when they post a map of the route they ran -- especially when they say it's their usual or favorite route. And when said route probably begins and ends at their home address (see #5). Careful, my friends!

Get out there and see the world, but see it smart :)

And now I am done feeling overprotective of everyone's safety and you may go back to your regularly scheduled programming, whatever that might be. (For me, it's continuing to peruse that new Harry Potter script. Thoughts TBD!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You Don't Know Your Story Yet

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story

If you're unfamiliar, that line comes from the musical Hamilton.

Which, I saw in New York in March. YAY

At work, I interact with cohorts of recent PhD grads who are transitioning into new roles -- taking their research backgrounds and learning to use it in ways that local tech companies want to hire. Neat.

Recently, we had a session where we chatted about some of their anxieties around the phase of the program we're now in -- the interview phase! If you've been around my blog for a few years, you know I have...very relevant...experience with the rollercoaster emotions of this realm.

tl;dr version -- moved to California 3 years ago for a job that immediately fell through, and thus spent the next several months interviewing, getting turned down, working a retail job at Anthropologie, getting cash for odd jobs off Craigslist like taste-testing popcorn, etc etc etc.

The thing is, looking forward, you don't know yet what your story will be.

You often know what you want your story to be. You typically have a plan. And when you can't see how that will pan out, or you can only see setbacks moving you away from that plan, and you worry that it's due to something you're somehow not doing right, it's incredibly unnerving.

Take my story. A couple months after arriving in California, shortly after I started working for Anthropologie, I interviewed for a job at Google. GOOGLE! This was the dream. This would be the perfect shiny bow on my own "young, scrappy and hungry" story. (another Hamilton reference YAY) My moved-to-California-and-had-a-setback-but-pushed-through-it-and-WOW-GOOGLE story. This was going to be the best.

And then, it wasn't. Because after several rounds of interviews, they told me no. And I cried in the parking lot of my retail job before cleaning myself up and heading in to earn my $10/hour for my $900/month rent. I was financially worried, but also emotionally crushed. That offer was supposed to be my success story. Right?

A year later, I did indeed have a job at Google. It was the third position I interviewed for at that company. And one of twice that many I applied to at Google, and one of dozens and dozens and dozens I applied to at countless other local companies. And it felt like a dream. And I knew I deserved to be there. Was it a fluke, if they told me no before? Nope. Because there are a thousand different reasons why a job interview might not pan out. And it may not say a damn thing about your skills or ability to succeed.

It's just....your story.

Looking back at myself, rolling into California in July 2013, would I have actively chosen a route with so many detours to get to where I am right now? Probably not. Looking back, would I change any of the details? Probably not. If I changed anything, it'd only be the faltering confidence I had. I'd sit myself down and tell myself I had reservoirs of grit and determination and nerve I didn't know about yet, and also important things to learn that would ultimately shape the jobs and path I later secured.

What I didn't know then, is that my own job setbacks and interviewing saga would provide me with an empathy and passion that pointed me away from a writing career and toward a people development career. What I didn't know then, is that the very thing that made me cry and took my feet out from under me is what later gave me clearer vision and steadier legs to stand on.

As I wrote at this time 3 years ago: "I'm fine with missed shots and almost-theres and you'll-get-it-next-times. I'm fine with bruised knees and scraped palms and frustration and delayed success. I'm learning how to fall, so I can learn how to skate."

Looking ahead, I didn't know my story. Looking ahead, I wouldn't have written it the way it was ultimately written. And looking back, I'm really damn glad life took the pen out of my hand and wrote it better.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Blue Apron Review

This is a story, all about how...

...I never cooked and then started trying. For the last couple years of my life, I had jobs that included the perk of free food. Translation: I fell hard out of the habit of cooking, ate out a lot on weekends and/or scrounged for oatmeal in the back of my cupboard. And then I got a new job, had to feed myself again, and found myself living off avocados and ritz crackers.

And then Blue Apron came on to my radar.

What is it? A subscription service that delivers a box to your door once a week, including 3 meals for 2 people (you can tailor this if you've got a family to feed). For me, that means 6 meals since I get to eat the leftovers because party of 1, yo. Except sometimes I have a guest so I share.

What comes in the box? Adorable little packages of food/spices/etc in just the right amounts you need. So, no buying things in bulk only to have the extra ingredients go bad. (see: story of my entire adult kitchen life)

Does it go bad on your porch? I often leave my house for 13+ hours at a time on weekdays. Luckily, the food comes in a box packed with insulation and ice packs. All is well when I crawl in at 10pm after a day of gym/work/class/whatever. *eyes glaze over*

Did someone pay you to write this post? Nope. This is just me genuinely saying stuff because I feel like it. And because as a full-time working adult & grad student, I need things like this real bad in my life to keep me from accidentally living off granola bars.

How much is it? $59/week. So for me, $10/meal. Basically what I'd spend eating out, and usually that was on something quick (see: not healthy) I could grab wherever was convenient. So, the price point is not objectionable given my lifestyle. Especially since it causes me to finally eat vegetables. Also, you can see the recipes a week ahead and skip a week at any time if a) the food isn't up your alley, or b) you'll be traveling or whatever and don't need meals that week.

Can I have a free hint? Why yes you may thank you for asking. Since I've been using the service for about a month now, I've earned some referrals to send a free delivery to a few people who are new to Blue Apron. If you want one of those, holla at my email: katildablog at gmail dot com. I hook you up amigo.

Is the food good? Yes. Yum. And decently healthy. And has much variety. And you can specify if you are vegetarian, or don't like fish, etc.

What do I like? I'm learning to cook! Any of the recipes I've made, I could make again. And that's neat. I feel impressive! One time I made empanadas! Sometimes I mince things! Basically this involves cutting things real small while chanting "mince mince mince mince mince" to myself to the tune of Rihanna's "work work work work work." I MADE PEACH SALSA YESTERDAY WHO AM I

What would I change? They're super into cucumbers. I am super not into cucumbers. I am borderline drowning in cucumbers. Also, they assumed I would own some basic things like olive oil and paper towels. I happen to own olive oil, but it's been 3+ years since I owned paper towels. I found myself needing to dry a pork roast with nada but real towels on hand to do it. Blech. Also, while I love the refrigerated box, I wish there was a list that told me exactly what things in the box need to go in the fridge. Because sometimes I guess wrong w/ the veggies and then they get weird. So. A little more instructions there would be muy helpful! Also, what the hell is the gel in the ice packs. I felt like I was drowning a snowman trying to get that down my sink drain.

Can I see pictures of your favorite meals so far so I can be super impressed by you and the things you've cooked? Yes. Yes you may. I've made several but these are the ones I happened to take pics of! Please note they made more food than pictured on the plate. I was just being dainty for photography purposes.

Chicken, Kale Slaw & Sweet Potato Fries

Brown Butter Gnocchi w/ Squash & Soft-Boiled Egg
p.s. this one was NEXT LEVEL. Will be repeating on my own for sure.

Sweet Chili Chicken w/ Coconut Rice

Baked Empanadas de Picadillo w/ Lime Crema

Roasted Pork & Summer Salsa