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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blogcritics Rerun: Christmas Dos and Don'ts

  My first Blogcritics rerun post, How to Become a Web Designer, got a lot of hits.  It's now December, so it's the right time to rerun Christmas Dos and Don'ts, another article I wrote for Blogcritics.  Click on the link to read the original article.  Enjoy!


   It's getting close to that time of year again! The malls have been full of tinsel and bells for almost an entire month. HR departments are handing out days-off preference forms. Children are begging their parents for certain material things, and so are some adults. Christmastime is getting ever closer!

My Halloween Dos and Don'ts feature was rather popular. I can be counted on to have strong opinions about everything, so here are my tips for having a successful Christmas.

Christmas gifts are for wants, not needs.

   If you're considering getting anyone on your list white cotton socks, even if that's to accompany something else for the recipient, this tip is for you.

   Christmas gifts should be fun, they should be things that the recipient will find pleasurable. For children and adults alike, make a point of fulfilling their wants, NOT their needs. Video games often make great Christmas gifts, toothpaste seldom does.

   'But Kim, this person on my list is in poverty! They need toilet paper, because they can't afford it themselves!' If that's the case, still make their gift something they want. Giving them something they need is a very nice idea, but don't make that their Christmas gift. Give them the things they need at some other time, discreetly. Don't gift-wrap it and don't give it to them too close to December 25th.

Christmas gifts should be things the person wants to have, not things you think they ought to have.

   That's another mistake that's made way too often. If I like Hello Kitty merchandise, don't give me a plain wallet because you think it's more "adult" or in better taste. Get me a Hello Kitty wallet instead.

   If my fondness for black clothing is too much for you, Christmas isn't your opportunity to get me colorful clothing.
You're not going to change someone's taste with a Christmas gift. Don't even try, they'll resent you for that.

Get to know the recipient's taste as well as you can.

   Making assumptions about someone because 40-year-old Canadian guys ought to love NHL merchandise is an erroneous way to choose a Christmas gift. People often defy stereotypes and generalizations.

   I remember being an elementary school kid, and every June there would be some sort of craft to make for Father's Day. I remember one year, in kindergarten or Grade One (First Grade, to you Americans) we were given cardboard 'ties' to decorate.

   My father hates wearing ties. Even as a six-year-old, I knew that. Other elementary school years, we were given pencil cases to decorate with Father's Day-themed wallpaper or wrapping paper. The football, fishing, and power tool themed designs were all very inappropriate for my father. But he's a man! He's my dad! He's got to be just like Tim Allen!

   On that same note, if you think a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine is a great idea for me because I'm a young heterosexual woman, I've got news for you.

Avoid Christmas-themed Christmas gifts.

   That's a real pet peeve of mine. I do love Christmas, but only if the Christmas stuff is restricted to December 1st until December 26th. Getting me Santa Claus mugs for Christmas means I'm receiving them close to a time when I want to banish Christmas from my psyche, for the sake of enjoying Christmas next year.

   Christmas gifts should be enjoyable for the days and weeks after receiving them. So, resist the temptation to buy Christmas-themed gifts.

On a similar note, don't put up Christmas decorations too early or take them down too late!

   It's bad enough that retailers think they have to put Christmas displays up as soon as the Halloween stuff is taken down. Don't follow the lead of your local shopping mall.

   My secularized and commercialized experience of Christmas is a sacred thing. It's magical and fun only if it's special for a time-limited occasion.

   If you put your Christmas lights up on November 1st and take them down by the end of March, you have that stuff decorating your house for an entire THIRD of the year. It's not so special anymore, is it?

   My birthday is January 13th. I always tell people, the Christmas gift that the world can give me is to have all Christmas stuff put away no later than my birthday. Ideally, put your decorations and tree up during the first week or two of December, and take them down by December 27th.

With that in mind, be considerate of people who have birthdays close to Christmastime.

   Combined Christmas/birthday gifts are a huge no-no. Even though my birthday is a couple of weeks after Christmas, people are still tempted to do that to me. For people born even closer to Christmas, it's even worse.

   Birthdays, my own and those of others, are a big deal to me because it's the one day you can have made all about you, or all about them. Make sure that people in your life with birthdays close to or on Christmas day receive separate birthday cards and presents, at a separate time. That applies to children AND adults. If the person's birthday is during the week of Christmas, celebrate their birthday during a different week. A lot of Capricorns and late Sagittarians will thank you for that.

Acknowledge the different holidays of others in your life.

   Political correctness shouldn't get in the way of celebrating Christmas, but make sure that other holidays receive similar respect.

   For example, my stepfather is Jewish. Thankfully, Hanukkah is the first week of December this year, instead of being too close to Christmas day.

   I will get him a separate Hanukkah card and gift, and give them to him during one of the eight days. I will NOT get him a generic 'Happy Holidays' card on December 26th, when I visit my mother's side of the family.

   Acknowledge Ramadan for your Muslim friends. Acknowledge Diwali for your Hindu friends. I'd go out of my way to avoid giving anyone any generic anything. It's better to ask questions than make assumptions.

Don't be a perfectionist for Christmas.

   Too many people, women especially, think their Christmas entertaining should live up to Martha Stewart's standards.

   Setting the bar impossibly high will only stress you out. As long as you're able to get friends and family together, give them thoughtful gifts, and have some edible food, you're being a good host.

   You don't have Martha's staff or Martha's budget. As cliched as this might sound, the important thing about Christmas is to spend time with family and try to have fun. You can't have fun if you don't relax!

   If even one person takes my advice this season, I've done what I could to make the world a better place. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You could win autographed prizes!

   How would you like to win some cool prizes?

   As I mentioned in my earlier blog post (A 'Shout-Out' for my Dad (and Stepmom), I design and maintain a website for my father, stepmother, Felix Baron, and Madeline Moore.  The website just launched last week:  They're crime thriller and erotica novelists.

   The contest runs from Monday, November 29th, 2010 until Friday, December 10th, 2010.  See contest rules for details.

   One lucky winner will receive three autographed books- The Women's Club by Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton,  Sarah's Education by Madeline Moore, and The Persian Girl by Felix Baron.

   Go to for rules and entry.

   You may also want to check out my interview with Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton, authors of The Women's Club on Blogcritics.

    Have fun and good luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A 'Shout-Out' for Meanderings and Muses

   Wow!  Two shout-outs in one day... It's so much fun to promote great stuff on the web!

   Kaye Wilkinson Barley is a Facebook friend of mine.  I have a lot of Facebook friends in the literary community, thanks to my father and stepmother.   When I was promoting the last post (A Shout-Out for My Dad (and Stepmom) on Facebook, she was kind enough to 'like' my post and comment on it.

   As she's a fellow blogger, I decided to check out her blog, Meanderings And Muses.

   It's great stuff!  She gets all kinds of fascinating writers to post on her blog.  I love getting into the minds of novelists and other writers, so I made sure to bookmark Kaye's blog for future visiting.

   If you're intrigued by novelists and storytellers in general, you'll be glad you visited Kaye's blog.

   Visit Meanderings and Muses at  Maybe I can get my dad to guest blog on the site!

A Shout-Out For My Dad (and My Stepmom)

  Today, I just want to promote my father and my stepmother.  You can't blame me for wanting to do that, eh?

  My dad is Michael Crawley, and my stepmom is Laurie Clayton.  They're both popular novelists.  My dad and stepmom have an exciting new crime thriller published by Max Crime, The Women's Club.  Read my interview with them on Blogcritics here, and there's also a link in my interview to buy the novel from Amazon.  I've read it, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  I designed a brand new website for them (and the mysterious erotica authors Felix Baron and Madeline Moore),

   On the new website, there is a lot of great content.  Read their fascinating life stories.  Read my dad's writing tips, he's helped many people become published.  Read questions and answers from all four authors, and submit your own questions!  Plus, you can read synopsizes of all of their titles on Amazon, and buy the titles via the handy Amazon shop widget.  Check it out, you won't regret it!

  The new website encouraged my dad to start a blog.  He writes about being a novelist, and ideas that interest him.  There's one post in which he defends atheism.  It's intriguing stuff.  Visit his blog at

   Of course, I'm going to take this opportunity to promote Madeline Moore's blog again, as she's a featured novelist at  What is it like to write sexy stories for a living?  Find out at

  Don't miss any of my previous shout-outs!  To my dear readers, check out the new posts I have coming next week!  Happy Friday...


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Brief History of the Web- Part nine...

  Finally, my 'Brief History of the Web' series continues with part nine.  I'm sorry for the long delay.  I've been busy writing for Blogcritics and Dragon Blogger.  I also was busy creating a website for my father and stepmother,  More about that in my next post...

  If you've missed previous posts in my 'Brief History of the Web' series, here's your opportunity to catch up.

   In part eight, I told the tale of Mozilla Firefox, which debuted in 2004, and the other web browsers in the new browser war, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari.  The days of IE versus Netscape are no more, but much of Netscape Navigator's code lives on in Firefox.

   Earlier in the series, I introduced Friendster, which was the launch of social networking as we know it today.

  Friendster launched in 2002, and became a web phenomenon by 2003.  Well, employees of eUniverse, which later became Intermix Media, took notice.  Intermix founder Brad Greenspan, Chris DeWolfe, Josh Berman and Tom Anderson launched Myspace in August 2003, months before Firefox made its public debut.

   Actually, Chris DeWolfe already owned the domain as a website for customer data storage and web hosting. in 1997 in 2000

  In February 2004, Richard Rosenblatt became Myspace's CEO, and Myspace went from a little unknown website, to a Friendster killer. in October 2003 in October 2004, after Richard Rosenblatt took the helm

     Throughout 2004 and 2005, fewer and fewer people were using Friendster, and more and more people started using Myspace.  It was a boon for musicians, because they can feature their music in their profiles.  Myspace started to generate a huge amount of ad revenue for Intermix, until Intermix and Myspace were bought by News Corp. for $580 million in July 2005. in October 2009
  By 2008, though, Facebook started to make gains ahead of Myspace in the number of users.  Now, Facebook is the Goliath to Myspace's David.  In 2010, Myspace debuted a remarketing campaign.  Myspace is now officially stylized as my______, and the site has a new look, with new features. today, with a new look

      Time will soon tell how successful Myspace's rebranding campaign will be.  Richard Rosenblatt left the company in 2006, and founded Demand Media, the company behind  In my very brief career there as a writer, I learned how horrible Demand Media is to their writers.  See the views of other former Demand Media writers- Demand Studios, 4 Reasons Why It Sucks on

     It's a little known fact that YouTube launched as a Myspace widget.

    The YouTube website launched on Valentine's Day 2005, after YouTube's success on Myspace.

YouTube in April 2005

  Former Paypal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim founded YouTube.  They saw a need for an easy video sharing venue on the web.  The very first YouTube video was uploaded by Jawed Karim on April 23rd, 2005, titled Me at the zoo.  Here it is!

    The YouTube beta test started in May 2005, and the official launch was in November.

    By November 2006, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion.  Yes, that's a BILLION, not a million.

    As of November 2010, videos have been viewed via YouTube over 14 billion times.

    When 'A Brief History of the Web' continues very soon with part ten, learn how Facebook started!  Well, we all saw The Social Network, so it'll be a brief refresher course.