Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

09 Oct
by Caitlin Thayer, posted in Book Review, Books   |  No Comments

Full disclosure, I’m not even done reading this book yet and I had to start writing about it (so I seriously hope the ending doesn’t disappoint). I’m 3/4 of the way through it, and a few characters in the book just started this seemingly silly project, and it hit me. I want to live in this world, with these characters. The three characters in this scene – all men, all complete nerds in their own way – have just come together to do something, and it’s the way they all jumped on board to complete it that made me think, “I want that in my life”. People who will, without question, jump on board for a silly project because they know it’s important to me or because they’re up for an adventure.

The characters in this book are weird, kind, nerdy, eccentric and imperfect, and I want to be friends with them all. I want to go on adventures with them and stay up all night doing something silly. I want to work in a bookstore (for reals, I really want to work in a bookstore) and get to talk to people about my favorite book from when I was in middle school.

I think what I love most about this book is the mix of the old with the new. It’s set in a bookstore, with a task of figuring out a secret code that was created thousands of years ago; and yet some of the main characters work at Google, create apps, make millions on gaming. But they all fit together seamlessly.

UPDATE – I finished the book. I loved the book. I want to live in this book. The ending did not disappoint, it was perfect. I highly recommend this book – it’s fun, it’s readable, it’s action filled, and with a little romance mixed in.

So what is this book about? It’s about a young man who is a little lost, and finds himself with a job at a 24-hour bookstore. But he finds that there are books that are unreadable, written in some sort of code, and that something bigger is going on than just selling books in a bookstore. He stumbles upon some clues and decides to figure out what’s really going on. He enlists the help of his roommate, childhood friend and girlfriend, and adventures ensue. Along the way, we fall in love with the characters, with the intrigue and with the puzzle. It’s a wonderful story and it’s crafted beautifully.

Festina lente, my friends.

Facebook: It’s Personal

08 Oct
by Caitlin Thayer, posted in Facebook, Social Media   |  No Comments

When I first joined Facebook in 2004, it was for college kids only. I connected with  my friends at school, and we updated our status with our every whereabouts like it was AOL Instant Messenger. Then Facebook opened up to the rest of the world, and people started using it a little differently. There are definitely still the people who share where they are and what they’re eating (I’m still guilty of that), but now people are connecting to their families, friends who live across the country, and anyone else they meet. They share news articles, their scores on Farmville, photos of their kids/nephews/grandkids, books they read.

When I started Barefoot Media in 2009, I connected with people on Facebook much like I would connect with someone on LinkedIn. If I met someone briefly at a networking event and they friended me, I would accept. But a couple of years later, as I went through my friend list, I realized I didn’t actually know most of the people there. And considering the things I share – photos of family, trips, food, and updates on running, it seemed strange to share those things with strangers. So I un-friended them.

Fast forward to 2014 and along with Barefoot Media, I also do programming for a young professional’s networking group. This job means that I meet people every day, and I see a lot of the same faces at the events we hold. So when those people started friending me, I accepted. It didn’t take long for me to have the same realization as before, that I don’t actually know these people, outside of our networking events. You could say that social media is a way for me to get to know them, but something still felt strange being friends with someone that I’m not actually friends with. Taking things too literally? Maybe. But still, I went through my list, and anyone that I don’t see outside of those events (which are work for me), I un-friended. A couple people messaged me and asked why, and I explained my reasoning, and no one seemed upset. They all seemed to understand.

CTSo I wonder, how many people stop to think about how they’re using Facebook? Do people think about who is on their friends list, and what they’re seeing? Some people share some pretty personal things on the site, and do they really want near strangers seeing those things? Something to consider.

So for me, Facebook is personal. I will limit it to actual friends. People I choose to spend time with, and share my life with. It hurts, a little, saying no to someone when they friend me, because I feel guilty (they’re all very nice people), but I’m making this decision for myself so I’ll stick to it. It is after all, my account. And no one else should be able to decide what I share, or who I share it with.

As If Women Mattered – Virginia DeLuca

07 Oct
by Caitlin Thayer, posted in Book Review, Books   |  No Comments

In my last trip to my favorite bookstore (RiverRun, Portsmouth, NH), I picked up As If Women Mattered by Virginia DeLuca. It was a staff pick, and published by Piscataqua Press, RiverRun’s publishing company.

The premise, four women who meet at a women’s rally in 1972, who form their own circle and become lifelong friends, living their lives while navigating through a world that didn’t value women, raising families and trying to have careers. I was immediately drawn to the book, as a former women’s history major, and as a woman who thinks a lot about women’s roles in today’s society.

The four main characters are wonderful. Realistic, in the way they supported each other, fought with each other, gave and ignored advice, made good decisions and made mistakes. I felt like I could have been reading the combined diaries of the four women.

Mostly, I loved reading the narratives of four women who were living in a time when it was hard to be a woman, it seems to be. Constantly having to prove themselves, be strong, feminine, perfect, sexual, motherly, and in eighteen places at once. It made me think about where we are today, and what barriers women still face. While women like these four, who lived through the women’s liberation movement, paved the way for much of the freedom I enjoy today as a young, single female, we still have so far to go.

We still live in a society that values beauty, seemingly above all else. It’s not about who I am, but how I look, and I get judged on that every day. I was a little heartbroken for Vivian when Katie, who Vivian worked so hard to raise on her own, was so focused on her body and thinking she wasn’t pretty enough, which equaled not being good enough for a man. And remembered how cruel kids can be to each other about it.

We live in a society that doesn’t support the choices that women make for themselves and their families. A woman decides to work full time? She’s a bad mother. A woman decides to stay home and be a full time mom? She’s throwing away her education, and throwing away all of the work that women before her did so she could work. Why can’t we let women and their families decide for themselves, and save the judgement? I loved the turnaround that Alix’s mom experienced in the book. I actually cheered out loud at that last conversation they had!

We live in a world where girls are expected to grow up, get married and have a family (aka, children). How many times have you been to a wedding, or seen newlyweds being asked, “So when are you planning to have kids?” It’s a) no one else’s business, and b) not necessarily the next thing in life. Not everyone wants to have, or can have kids. I find it to be an incredibly rude question. I felt for Gemma when people would ask her about her and Willie having children, or when everyone assumed they would have kids.

I really appreciated this book, for being a wonderful story of four strong, amazing women and their lives, and for making me stop to think about my own life.

Should Employees Be Allowed to Use Social Media?

06 May
by Caitlin Thayer, posted in Social Media   |  No Comments

For many people who work for large corporations, having social media blocked at work is the norm. I continually make the case to my clients for creating social media policies that allow employees to use social media while on the job. The major reason that I hear for keeping staff off social media is that organizations believe their employees will be less productive if they have access to social networking sites. I think this reasoning underscores a larger issue – that employers don’t trust their employees to get their work done. I believe that if an employee really doesn’t want to do their job, they will find any reason not to do their job, whether or not they can get access to Facebook.

Recently, a local nonprofit that I love created an employee policy which stated that employees could not use social media during work hours and not on work computers. I continually see their staff using social media to talk about programs and events at this nonprofit, sharing photos and showing pride about their organization. This new policy was a huge step back for what I had considered to be a very progressive organization. Thankfully, because of the backlash from the staff, they have temporarily changed the policy and put it under review.

There are so many great reasons to allow employees to be on social media during the work day. Here are just a few:

1. It shows trust. Allowing staffers to have access to social media during the workday shows that you see them as responsible adults who can manage their workflow, and get their job done while also using social media.

2. Your staff are your biggest advocates. Encouraging social media use during the workplace will make them more likely to engage with your organization’s social sites, share information about programs and activities, and talk about your brand. When it comes to sharing information about your brand, 41% of people believe that employees are more trustworthy than a company’s CEO or PR department. (via Top Rank, 3/27/14)

employer-blocked-facebook-twitter-work1

3. Studies have shown that employees can be MORE productive when allowed to use social media. You can Google “social media productivity at work” and find dozens of articles with studies that show how employees are actually more productive when allowed or encouraged to use social media. And companies that use social networking sites to communicate with their employees are seeing great results. Here are a few examples:

  • Forbes – “Want To Be a More Productive Employee? Get on Social Networks”
  • Wired – “How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive”
  • USA Today Money – “Social Media Tools Can Boost Productivity”
  • Mashable – “How Social Media Can Make Us More Productive”
  • Monster.com – “The Debate About  Blocking Social Media in the Workplace”

Are you allowed to use social media at work? Are you encouraged to use it? Let me know!

Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half Marathon & 4 Miler

09 Apr
by Caitlin Thayer, posted in Connecticut, Running   |  No Comments

Team HMFThis past Sunday I ran in the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half Marathon & 4 Miler. The race started in Downtown Middletown on Main Street, and it was the perfect day for a race. The sun was shining and there was a breeze. With just over 1,500 runners, there was a good crowd but it wasn’t too packed. I ran in the 4-mile race, which ran along the same course of the half marathon for the first 3 miles before they split off.

I didn’t check the course map and elevation before the start of the race, which turned out to be a good thing because the first mile and a half were almost all uphill! I’m not sure I would have been as excited for the race if I had known that. But it was a great course that ran through Wesleyan’s campus and the neighborhoods. It started and ended on Main Street, and I found great course support throughout. People in the neighborhoods came out, handed out tissues and cheered on the runners. There was also live music which is Middletown Halfalways fun!

Something else that I noticed during this race was an extra level of support runner to runner. Every time someone had stopped to tie their shoes or stretch, other runners yelled out to them to make sure they were OK. It happens during races, but there seemed to be extra efforts made during this race, which I thought was great.

And something else that doesn’t happen much during races, I made a friend! I’m not terribly social during races – I find it difficult to run, breathe and talk at the same time. But by Mile 3 another runner and I had been running near each other for almost the whole race, so I started chatting with her. I found out that her sister had signed her up for the half marathon, but she decided to downgrade to the 4-miler because she didn’t feel ready for the half. We ran together for the last mile and chatted, and it was great! Made that last mile fly by.

After the race I hung out at the finish line and cheered on other runners, and saw the first finishers of the half come in. I’m always amazed that someone can run 13.1 miles in the same time it takes me to run 6-7. Amazing. All in all, a great race that I’d totally do again!

ctmiddletown

 

 

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