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All you have to do to have fun in Boston is buy Red Sox tickets online!

What Happened in 2013

I’m sitting in my office, knees up to my chest, shoes off, eating a lemon-cranberry-poppy-seed muffin from Flour, trying to figure out what the heck happened in 2013. I’m about to turn a quarter of a century old!

2013 was the year that I made a few life changes: I got into a serious relationship, went completely solo with my freelance business, and got my own office space. 2013 was, in some ways, less of a globetrotting Carmen Sandiego experience than 2012. Sure, I made it back to Thailand and dropped by Tokyo for a few days, but I’ve spent so much time in Thailand that I barely count it as traveling, you know?

What I’ve been up to:

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Playa love!

Did Burning Man, round 3 with an amazing group of nerds. Over a week in the desert, eating grilled cheeses and sushi made with canned tuna and black beans with cheese and salsa, cooking out of a filthy U-Haul. Riding through punishing heat on a little boy’s bike, tag still attached. Hitching a ride on a double-decker unicorn. An LED climbing wall; a wedding in a handmade castle; a sunrise over an alien temple; a morning lying on the faux fur floor of the Enchanted Forest. Some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met, in the usual desert regalia of handkerchiefs and tassles and tutus. What psychedelic are you speaking of? you might ask, as campmate meanders through an alphabet soup of enlightened recollections. The response is the breathtaking precision of a chemical structure. You taste the joy of science: it is a kind of spirituality, an underpinning of logic and natural law. Ground beneath your feet.

Felt a little bit more Republican. Business grew this year, which is good, but I have to pay more to the government. I was trying to figure out my estimated taxes for the year, so I emailed my accountant. He said, why don’t you come in. I did, and we chatted for awhile about tax implications of different income sources. Self-employment tax is absurd — it just about doubles my total tax bill. I get a letter in the mail a few days later. Oh, my accountant is sending Christmas cards to his clients! I think, seeing the holiday stamp. I open it, and find out I owe him $150. Shit, I think. Should have known better.

Wrote 2 shitty short stories in a fiction class — taken at Grub Street. Well, shitty in the sense that they’re in progress. At least that’s what I tell myself. Shitty first drafts, as Anne Lamott wrote, are where we all start. Sometimes sentences will wriggle themselves into my mind, and I jot them down in a text file. They are just these little nibbles: eating ramen with a broken fork handle, hippies in Goa in the 70’s, dealing with asian fetishists. I try and write a story, which doesn’t go anywhere. Right before I was writing this, I wrote 3 other attempts at stories. I can never quite figure out if I’m writing about my life or not. Making stuff up feels uncomfortable, somehow. Even assigning a different name to a character inspired by a real person feels dishonest. Oh Asian lady Junot Diaz, where art thou?

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Meditation is pretty unexciting to look at, so here’s me with some squirrel finger puppets. 

Discovered I’m literally allergic to stress. I wrote about my first 10 day meditation retreat, but I didn’t actually maintain daily practice after it. Looking for an escape (or a confrontation, since meditation retreats are a bit of both), I did a shorter 3 day course two weeks ago in western Mass at the Shelburne Vipassana center. As a lifelong neurotic, awkward person with concentration problems, meditation is frequently cited as a tonic for my twitchiness. My skin was also suffering: I had what looked like hives and rash over 30% of my body and trouble sleeping and concentrating at work because the itching was getting so bad. I spend hundreds of dollars buying a wardrobe of Lululemon long sleeve shirts to wear, since my arms were both itchy and distractingly ugly. Here’s the crazy part: the hives-like red blotches, which had lasted for 2-3 months, disappeared after exactly one day of the meditation retreat. By day 3, I had only a few faint scabs left.

Basically, I’m allergic to stress. I can’t explain it any other way. Changing up foods, temperature, laundry detergent, gluten, various creams/lotions don’t really do much for me. Some things help, but I’ve never seen such absurd results except with meditation (or going on a short vacation also works). It’s like my neurotic mind junk just comes out my pores, literally.

I’m now meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and evening. I’ve still had good and bad days, but more good than bad. I could cry in relief — that I don’t have to spend 2 hours a day, trying not to scratch my arms until they’re bloody. I can even wear short sleeves. This is huge.

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Had my first TV appearance. It was actually incredibly fun to film Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. The crew was really nice as well. Checked it off the bucket list…

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Hung out with friends. That’s me and Rachel in Ko Lanta, Thailand. I also met some Tim Ferris-influenced entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai who were awesome and visited my friend Marco in DC. He led me to Little Serow, an absolutely amazing Thai restaurant. You gotta go.

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Me at the maid cafe. 

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With David and some new Japanese friends! 

Met some crazy people on the road. In Tokyo: I couchsurfed with a French guy named David. He had hitchhiked and couchsurfed for 2 years straight in Europe, and had some crazy scheme of learning 8 languages in 80 months. When he couldn’t find a place to stay on couchsurfing, he’d walk up to people in the train station, ask them if they’d heard of couchsurfing, and ask if he could stay at their place. I just loved Japan overall, and it’s at the very top of my list of places I’d like to explore in detail. I loved the food (of course!), and the orderly, neat way things ran there. I went to a cat cafe, a maid cafe, and a psychiatric prison themed restaurant where the waitress stuck a vibrator in my mouth. (About as weird as it seems.)

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One of their surly llamas.

In Sonoma: I was watering my friend Dan’s Bonsai trees over the summer. He had Airbnb guests staying at his place in Cambridge, and we ended up chatting while I was watering the dozens of little trees on his balcony. They were a really nice couple from Sonoma County, California, with a son at MIT. The father recalled taking his son to Burning Man, and getting in the midst of a light saber battle. He invited me to come visit their house in Sebastapol. House is not really an adequate description: it was a huge property, with an apple orchard, a vineyard, 2 surly llamas (!), a few shy goats, a water tower-turned-treehouse, a land boat-turned-apartment, a couch swing, a bocce ball court, and a house they’d designed themselves, with solar power. It was pretty magical. I cooked them a dinner that I got predictably anxious over, played bocce ball, ate apples from their orchard, and watched a documentary about a harmless Asian fetishist marrying his mail order Chinese bride (“Seeking Asian Female”). Can we live on an apple orchard in Sonoma with llamas and a water tower? I asked my boyfriend. And design our own house? He humored me, saying it seemed like a nice life.

But really, I just work a lot. There’s this whole issue with social media, where only the shinest bits of people’s lives get publicized, making you feel inadequate. And I’m guilty of that. I’m not going to put up some photo of myself where I looked like I got whacked with two black eyes and I’m about to pass out over my laptop. Most of my days are spent wearing either my yoga pants or my stretchy denim jeans, getting to the office before 10am, and working late to hit client deadlines. I actually like working (and routine is a thing of beauty for some shifty, creative folks), but I don’t spend everyday running around Tokyo eating sushi. Only like, two days.

Well, this got long. Hello friends, new friends, soon to be friends – let me know if you have ideas for what I should do in 2014.

Welcome to Themeology!

Themeology is perfect for business sites, photography blogs, photoblogs, and portfolios! This is an example of a WordPress post, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many posts like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress. The entire theme includes non-obtrusive JQuery tricks too, so the theme will be as slick any any website you’ve ever used!

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Theme Typography

While custom control panels and plugins are great, one of the strongest points of Themeology is it’s meticulous attention to details in the area of typography. Every major type element has been addressed; You can even change both the Title Fonts and Body Fonts with the flip of a switch in the dashboard; Heck, you can even disable the title-font-replacement if you feeling like straight forward web-fonts instead of the flashy new stuff.

[left_col]

Custom Title Fonts

The theme comes pre-packaged with a very special version of the Mido Font, complete with ALL characters (including the funky stuff like $^*#@). That’s not all though, you can quickly switch to one of the other 5 font-styles included or turn font-replacement off altogether.
[/left_col]

[right_col]

Custom Body Fonts

This brand new option in the control panel allows you to quickly flip between a “Serif” and a “Sans-Serif” font stack so that you have exactly what you need for your project. Additional tweaks can be made easily using a little CSS and the Firebug plugin if you so choose.
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[clear]

Superquotes

[superquote]
95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.
[/superquote]

Optimizing typography is optimizing readability, accessibility, usability(!), overall graphic balance. Organizing blocks of text and combining them with pictures, isn’t that what graphic designers, usability specialists, information architects do? So why is it such a neglected topic?

Back in 1969, Emil Ruder, a famous Swiss typographer, wrote on behalf of his contemporary print materials what we could easily say about our contemporary websites:

Standard Blockquotes

Today we are inundated with such an immense flood of printed matter that the value of the individual work has depreciated, for our harassed contemporaries simply cannot take everything that is printed today. It is the typographer’s task to divide up and organize and interpret this mass of printed matter in such a way that the reader will have a good chance of finding what is of interest to him.

With some imagination (replace print with online) this sounds like the job description of an information designer. It is the information designer’s task “to divide up and organize and interpret this mass of printed matter in such a way that the reader will have a good chance of finding what is of interest to him”.

Macro-typography (overall text-structure) in contrast to micro typography (detailed aspects of type and spacing) covers many aspects of what we nowadays call “information design”. So to speak, information designers nowadays do the job that typographers did 30 years ago:

Integrated Shortcodes


Themeology comes jam packed with useful features, like shortcodes, custom admin options, several custom page templates, and more! This page will walk you through the basic shortcodes that come pre-installed and ready for action:

Shortcodes

Shortcodes are a cool feature in WordPress that essentially allows you to do some pretty incredible things by just inserting a “shortcode” into a page or post. Using Shortcodes is a breeze, just insert one where you want the relevant content to show up and, whallah!, it works like magic. Here’s a list of just a few of the shortcodes included in Themeology. Remember to replace any squiggly brackets “{” with square brackets “[“, and for the shortcodes that require customization (like the donation shortcode), edit the information in functions/shortcodes.php. Enjoy these!

1. Related Posts

Related posts are an easy way to get your visitors staying longer on your blog. There’s tons of plugins to display them, but you can also use this simple shortcode and be in business in mere seconds!

{related_posts}


Source:
http://blue-anvil.com/archives/8-fun-useful-shortcode-functions-for-wordpress

2. Multiple Column Content on a Post or Page

Just wrap the following shortcodes around a “left” and “right” column of content and the Theme will do the rest – whallah, 2 columns on one page or post!

{left_col}Your Left Column{/left_col}
{right_col}Your RightColumn{/right_col}

[left_col]

This is the Left Column

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged.
[/left_col]

[right_col]

This is the Right Column

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged.
[/right_col]

3. Google Charts

Including Google Charts into your posts and pages has never been easier. Just use this shortcode and fill out your own particular details and the chart will be posted automatically, like in this example:

{chart data="41.52,37.79,20.67,0.03" bg="F7F9FA" labels="Reffering+sites|Search+Engines|Direct+traffic|Other" colors="058DC7,50B432,ED561B,EDEF00" size="488x200" title="Traffic Sources" type="pie"}

[chart data=”41.52,37.79,20.67,0.03″ bg=”F7F9FA” labels=”Reffering+sites|Search+Engines|Direct+traffic|Other” colors=”058DC7,50B432,ED561B,EDEF00″ size=”488×200″ title=”Traffic Sources” type=”pie”]

Source:
http://blue-anvil.com/archives/8-fun-useful-shortcode-functions-for-wordpress

4. Google Adsense Integration

Use this simple little shortcode to include Google Adsense directly into your pages and posts!

{adsense}

[adsense]

Source:
http://www.wprecipes.com/how-to-embed-adsense-anywhere-on-your-posts

5. Premium Content for Members Only

You can offer premium content for registered visitors by using this shortcode on the premium content pages and posts!

{access capability="switch_themes"}


Source:
http://justintadlock.com/archives/2009/05/09/using-shortcodes-to-show-members-only-content

6. Remove WordPress automatic formatting

Use this shortcode to display code snippets on your blog and remove that pesky WordPress automatic formatting on certain portions of text.

{raw}This is some unformatted text{raw}


Source:
http://wordpress.org/support/topic/280732

7. Add administrative notes

Use this shortcode to leave messages on posts that can only be seen by other admins. The blog owner can now, for instance, make editorial notes on a post.

{note}This is an editorial note - only visible to admins!{/note}

[note]This is a personal note that only admins can see![/note]


Source:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/02/mastering-wordpress-shortcodes/

8. Grab the last image in a post

Use this shortcode to display the last image in any particular page or post!

{postimage}

[postimage]


Source:
http://www.wprecipes.com/wordpress-shortcode-easily-display-the-last-image-attached-to-post

9. Create a Send To Twitter button

Use this shortcode to send posts to Twitter, automajically!

{twitter}


Source:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/02/mastering-wordpress-shortcodes/

10. Embed an RSS Feed

Use this shortcode to display an RSS feed directly in your posts and pages.

{rss feed="http://feeds.feedburner.com/MakeDesignNotWar" num="5"}


Source:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/02/mastering-wordpress-shortcodes/

11. Embed an RSS Button

Use this shortcode to display an RSS button directly in your posts and pages.

{subscribe}

[subscribe]

Source:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/02/mastering-wordpress-shortcodes/

12. Display your blog stats using shortcodes

Display all sorts of awesome information about your blog by installing this plugin and using these shortcodes:

{pagerank}
{feedburner_subscribers}
{alexa_rank}
{technorati_authority}
{technorati_rank}
{user_count}
{post_count}
{page_count}
{comment_count}
{trackback_count}
{avg_comments_per_post}
{category_count}
{tag_count}
{link_count}
{google_backlinks}
{yahoo_backlinks}
{delicious_bookmarks}


Source:
http://www.improvingtheweb.com/wordpress-plugins/blog-stats/

13. Add a Donation Button

Replace the default ‘account’ with your paypal email address, and output using [donate]. Remember you can override the default ‘text’ too in the shortcode. You can style this link with css (as ive done) easily.

{donate}

[donate]

Source:
http://blue-anvil.com/archives/8-fun-useful-shortcode-functions-for-wordpress

Aspire is on the horizon

Themeology for WordPress
Themeology is perfect for business sites, photography blogs, photoblogs, and portfolios! This is an example of a WordPress post, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many posts like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress. The entire theme includes non-obtrusive JQuery tricks too, so the theme will be as slick any any website you’ve ever used!

(more…)

Lana Lingbo Li

I'm a world traveler / enthusiastic eater who's now blogging and producing videos over at HelloLana.com. Visit me there!

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