Sunday, October 11, 2009

Austin Under Graffiti Snail Attack

Yesterday we ventured out into 'Hill Country' about 30 minutes outside of Austin, TX to check out Hamilton Pool. With overcast skies and temperatures in the 60's, it was a pleasant brief hike down the trail to reach the natural spring grotto.

When bacteria levels in the water are safe, visitors are welcome to spend the day swimming at the pool. Otherwise, it is an extremely peaceful and beautiful spot to check out.

By no means am I a geological buff, but I couldn't get over the layers of seashells embedded in limestone from thousands of year ago. If you disregarded the 'warning, this is a fragile environment - stay on the trail' signs posted every five feet, you could literally pick full shells out of the rock.

My 'discoveries' for the day included a painted snail shell once inhabited by a slimy friend. I also lucked out and snapped a shot of a giant blue dragonfly resting on nearby berries.

After our hike, we stopped in at a local townie bar, Bert & Ernie's. It had redneck charm with its mix of bait shop, general store, and back-room bar with minors selling beer. I couldn't help but smirk; the townies were getting worked up when a rival biker gang showed up clad in leather. The locals were muttering about which ones they'd take in a fight, and a leathery-faced guy who resembled Chong said, 'I'll take the women'. Wouldn't recommend eating here or hanging out after sundown, but it was entertaining and friendly enough.

Rewind for a moment - graffiti snail?! It was amazing to be hiking and find Pikachu snail art loitering on a mossy rock on a rainy day. No other signs of graffiti or kitsch for miles around. Upon conducting additional research, graffiti snails are more common than you'd think. Artist, Slinkachu, as part of his 'Little People, Big Streets' project, decorated snails all around London. The project was called, 'Inner City Snail'. Has the graffiti snail wave hit Austin, yet it has taken on a Manga spin? Exciting!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Update: Artist Frances T. Trammell

Earlier this month I blogged about a wonderful email I received from a stranger (now friend, Robyn, pictured below) that was inquiring about a painting marked with a 'Frances T. Trammell' signature.

Robyn lives in Boulder, Colorado and purchased the painting at a secondhand store. Upon sharing with her that the painting was in fact Frances' and remarking how fun it was that it surfaced in CO (keeping in mind Frances spent her whole life in Maryland), Robyn responded:

What a shot in the dark to find you and information on your grandmother. I found the painting in a secondhand store here in Boulder, Colorado just a few days ago. It just spoke to me, she definitely was an accomplished artiest and you can feel the life in this little painting. Having said that....I would love to send it home to you if you would like. Maybe your grandmother tapped me on the shoulder that day to buy it then find you so you could have this bit of her in your life to inspire you. You wrote about the dream you had of her. I don't know, there is just something about it that is very solid and peaceful. Let me know if you want it and where I can send it.

I thanked Robyn for the incredibly kind gesture and insisted she keep the painting. The exchange prompted great dialogue with my mom, her sisters, and my cousin recalling Frances' life and her work, and for me, brought happiness knowing that Frances' work and story now bring a new friend joy. Robyn shared that she too is an artist (and married to an artist), so hopefully they'll get a smile on their faces when they look at their great secondhand store find.

No wonder I love to share this story - it includes some of my favorite things: technology, thrift stores and art!

Evolution of social marketing & tagging - what's next?

It was announced this week, that Google released an improved version of Picasa photo software (v. 3.5) that integrates with Google Maps.

PC Magazine explained, "Now you can add location info to photos - one photo at a time or several photos at once," Google wrote. "Simply select pictures, click the Places panel, search or surf to a place, and drop a pin in the right place on the map. Once you've added geo tags, you can select a group of photos and see where they were all taken."

Associating images with geographical locations on Google Maps isn't something new, Picasa's feature to tag images with geo data upon uploading them shows where tagging is going - mobile.

Personal Travel Tip: Site note about Google Maps and images, when I moved to Austin last month, I used the 'More...' menu on Google Maps (pictured at right) often to see photographs of restaurants in my area. This feature was extremely helpful and expedited getting acquainted with my neighborhood.

Tags are getting more sophisticated. The Dell
Lounge utilizes a tag cloud as an alternative way to navigate the site. The more Web 2.0 users gain comfort with tagging, there will be an increased likelihood sites will do away with traditional site navigation (menu bars) and only have a tag cloud.

Tagging on photo sharing sites or applications is something web users have strong familiarity with. On Facebook tags are utilized to identify 'friends' or for humor.

With the surge in corporate fan and group pages, there has been an increase in tagging friends in corporate promotions or coupons as a way to share consumer information with friends.

Example posted below: My friend, Amanda, was tagged in a Coldstone Creamery image by a friend. The friend included a promotional caption, 'Cold Stone Creamery now has delicious cupcakes for a limited time only! Get a 6-pack for only $9.99...Oh what a bargain!' and tagged all her friends she wanted to share this information with.

Where will social marketing and tagging of corporate / promotional content go?

Will there be promotions to tag an image to enter a contest?

Or will technologies eventually track early adopters (the first 100 people to tag a popular promotion) and strong influencers (people that tagged all of their friends) to learn about how how friends influence buying decisions in the social marketing space?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Artist, Frances T. Trammell

Several months ago, I blogged about sources of inspiration and focused briefly on my late grandmother, Frances T. Trammell. Frances was a local artist in the Maryland area that towards the later part of her career, focused on nautical paintings. She had a MFA from University of Maryland, taught art in Hyattsville, is referenced in the Pola Nirenska Collection of the Library of Congress, and even had a local artist exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in D.C.

She died approximately one year before I was born, but as an aspiring artist myself, I am extremely interested in learning about her and tracking down her pieces of work. To the best of my family's knowledge, some of her work had been at local galleries and was lost / never returned. I believe these pieces included Punch & Judy puppets and paintings.

This morning, I received an email from a woman who found my blog entry about my grandmother. She was researching the painting pictured below, Googled 'artist Frances T. Trammell' and found my post. She emailed me with photos of the painting inquiring whether the piece is in fact hers - at first glance it looks like her work and is her signature / appropriate year (Frances Townsend Trammell = Frances T. Trammell).

Although I am a self proclaimed online marketing 'geek', I've been disturbed by the social disintegration of our culture at times. Less in person chats at coffee houses, more following on Twitter or 'friending' someone on Facebook. At my office, every web developer has an iPhone, and people can't even walk to the printer without having their phone in front of their face - as though it is a compass to navigate around an office making zombies of us all.

Moments like this though - spontaneous connections made through online and unlikely to happen in the 'real' world - that is the power of this tool and our modern technological age. It is remarkable to try to think how a granddaughter of a late artist would be connected with a woman on the opposite side of the country researching a painting she perhaps purchased / saw in small local gallery. Wild. Humbling. Very, very cool.

More updates to follow as I gather additional information on the painting and other pieces of work by Frances.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quirky on Good Day New Mexico / KOB TV

Ah, small claims to fame...

This morning on KOB's Good Day New Mexico, a previously taped interview is airing highlighting me discussing online marketing services provided for Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Specifically, in May we launched a social marketing campaign to compliment the existing paid search, email marketing, and analytics services. The results have been very strong - high engagement and measurable ROI (taking online surveys, buying merchandise, growth in quantity of Facebook fans, etc.).

The interview airs today at 11 am MST but will also be accessible on for the next month.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Beauty in the Breakdown

It is time to let go, and let your internal compass guide you.

Those instincts that scratch at your sides.
Heaviness sitting on your chest
as you try to fall asleep,
making it hard to breathe.
Nagging. Tugging.
Chaffing. Weight.
Thoughts of 'what if'.

I can't find peace of mind
looking to prose and poetry
neatly organized into numbered chapters
to point to a clear path.
Or sitting on benches
looking onward
as one directs the masses
from a far off, pristine pulpit.

There is chaos in this world
with energy and magic.
Spontaneous connections. Sparks.
Encounters not missed.
New faces. Connections.
All around us. All the time.

I am the welder.

I understand the capacity of heat
to change the shape of things.

I am suited to work
within the realm of sparks

out of control. I am the welder.

I am taking the power

into my own hands.

Cherrie Moraga
This Bridge Called My Back

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Things I'll miss about Albuquerque...

We are almost a month away from moving to Austin, TX. As the date nears, I'm taking a more discerning look at Albuquerque and appreciating all this area has to offer.

I've lived in Albuquerque for the past three years of my life. It was a bumpy transition from Chicago to here in 2006 - Mike and I had just been together for a few months and were moving in together in a new town, I had just left a group of amazing friends, a great job, and found my self in the land of adobe, tumbleweeds, kitche Route 66, and vistas without a clue how to make it all work. To add some 'spice' to my situation, I additionally had a health issue that emerged (while w/out health care) and my mom in Maryland was diagnosed with breast cancer. A lot for anyone to stomach, let alone all at once in a new and unusual area.

It takes a really grounding place to keep one's life stable during a turbulent time. One by one, each of life's dilemmas worked themselves out, and through the process I started figuring out what matters: enjoying life, being kind, having fun, adding value to others' lives, and not taking oneself so seriously.

Finding myself was part of the process. Literally I also morphed into a different twist of me - pescatarian for almost 2 years, agnostic, flaming liberal, second tattoo, etc. This area helped me sift out some things I wanted and didn't want to be moving forward.

Things I'll miss about New Mexico the most or just general Albuquerque classics:
  • The mountain - how humbling to wake up to a snow-capped mountain and understand why it is called Sandia (watermelon) at sunset each day.
  • Artwork - the city oozes with creativity and quirkiness. Whether giant-sized sculptures of Paul Bunion, murals, carved tree stumps in a sunflower field, to day of the dead folk art, it is hard to not feel inspired here.
  • Balloons - every morning around sunrise the horizon is speckled with gumdrops ascending towards the sky or gently floating down towards the Rio Grande and tree tops. Around Balloon Fiesta, you become accustomed to laying in bed and hearing the primal hissing sound of gas burners guiding a balloon over your house. Or watching colorful shapes morph and grow out of fields to then ride an invisible escalator to the sky - gorgeous.
  • Outdoors - whether hiking Tent Rocks, La Luz trail, Pecos river-side camping or even up around Durango, this region is gorgeous. I hope it remains a secret and the people who think it is in Mexico, remain thinking they need a passport to get here and never come.
  • Quirky - Albuquerque is brilliantly weird and understanding its charm is something earned not given away. Small mountain towns in Madrid and Tijeras with funky saloon bars... colony in Taos of hippie Earthship dwellers... alien influences at Roswell or Taos hum... monster trucks, roadrunners, haunted Press Club... it's all here, you just gotta find it.
  • Food - smoked green chile is divine. Breakfast burritos are an art form. Pinon coffee - delightful. And it all tastes better looking at the amazing views in town.
I could go on forever with this list. Albuquerque is special. I hope Austin will be equally as queer and brilliant. There's one way to find out... that reminds me, I better get back to packing.