student life

Take it to the Web! A quick look into the ‘secret’ code of HTML

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Back in the day (hmm…. let’s say about six years ago) there was this thing called “Myspace.” Some of us may even remember having one and vaguely recall the days it was cool.

I admit to having had one and I thought it was the best thing ever. Not only could I send short messages to my friends, but I could post pictures and all the glitz and glam I found on the web where everyone could see it.

Myspace was also my first introduction to HTML.

Back then, I knew how to make fonts look bold or different colors. I could take the code for a profile theme and tweak it to my heart’s content and I never thought twice about it.  Today I am taking a course that teaches the wonders of HTML and CSS and I smile every time I think that I have been unknowingly writing code for years.

If you have ever thoughtlessly written a bit of code and wondered about it, look no further! I will explain some of the basics that make web pages so amazing.

HTML can be used to do a number of amazing things. You just have to learn it!

HTML (or hypertext markup language)is a name for the code that gives a web page structure. Think of it as the backbone of a web page.
There is a method to the madness that I won’t go into, but you can check out this tutorial for the “hands on” stuff.

Using simple code combinations (called tags), you are able to tell the browser where you want text, images, or hyper-links (collectively known as content) to appear on the page. It sounds so simple – and it is! The only catch is that it’s like it’s very own language and you have to know what it’s saying before you can use it. There are hundreds of sites on the web that go into detail of what all the different tags do, so I won’t waste space by listing them here. The tutorial I have linked above will show you several tags as well as how to code a simple web page. Check it out!

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS is the coding for the web page’s style. Font color, borders, margins… all this can be defined using CSS coding.
This tutorial will teach you basic HTML and CSS, while this tutorial focuses on CSS.

What’s the difference? Well, I’m no expert, but from what I have read, CSS works when it is embedded into HTML code. I think of it as similar to learning to play piano. I could learn how to play with only my right hand, then learn to play using both hands once I have mastered that, or I could learn to play with both hands at once.
Learning HTML by itself is useful at the beginning when you just want to learn to put words on a page with minimal style and get it out to the web. Learning CSS by itself probably won’t do you much good. It would be like learning to play left-handed piano alone – you would be able to play only part of a song.

Learning HTML and CSS together will allow you to incorporate all aspects of style and layout into the process without going backwards for each new concept.

However you choose to learn, once you get started you will be amazed and delighted at what you can do with a few simple tips and tricks. Best of luck and happy creating!

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The Hunt Begins – getting started on the pre-graduation job search

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Saturday was graduation day for many students at the University of Louisville. Sadly, I was not one of them.

While part of me may sigh and say that I wish it all were done and over so I could move on, the more realistic side says “Hey girl, slow down. You don’t even have a job lined up yet!”

The whole point of college (for most people) is to earn a degree and obtain a job that actually pays a decent salary. There are many jobs that do not require a college degree, but everything I have in mind does. So when I catch myself eyeballing retail stores and fast-food restaurants as a potential second job, I really have to take a step back and ask myself a few pertinent questions.

1) How will this job help me reach my goal?
I may be looking for a quick way to earn some cash, but in the long run, I know I’m going to have to make connections between all the jobs I have held and where I want to go in life.
If my goal is to own a chain of fast-food restaurants, then working in a burger joint would be a great (and essential) first step. But, if I wanted to be an astronaut (yeah, right!) it wouldn’t make much sense would it?

2) How does this job incorporate the skills I have learned?
Reading and talking about some random theory in class is one thing, but applying it out in the real world is something completely different.
While writing up a contract for my internship this last semester, I realized that I have learned quite a bit (imagine that!).

After studying for over four years now, I would be selling myself short if I took a job as a receptionist  who just answered phones and filed all day (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I would much rather work in a job that uses those skills I have paid so much to learn.

3) If I get this job, will I love it?
My current job has very short shifts – 3 hours at a time –

and some days it can be very stressful. On those days that three-hour shift seems to last a year. Other days, it goes by too fast. I have been at this job for several years now and while it may not pay the big bucks, I love what I do. I have said many times that the best way to find a job you’ll love is to think of something you already like to do and then figure out how to make a living doing it.

Personally, if I get hired on for a job I hate I am going to be miserable all through my shift, but more than that, I will be miserable as I am getting ready to go to a job I dislike and will even be upset at the end of the day thinking that I have to go back to that awful job the next day.
No, that’s not the life for me.

So I may not have graduated on Saturday, but my time will come. When it does, I’ll be ready to find the job that leads me to my dream career. Will you be able to say the same?

Dog Days Are Over

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Today is officially my last day of classes for the Spring 2011 semester and it hasn’t quite sunk in  yet.

After this, I have a full summer working not-quite full-time and taking two online classes. It’s pretty exciting, but it starts to get scary when I realize that in the fall I have only one class and then I graduate. I have always heard people talking about how time passes so quickly and before you know it things are over. Well, that’s not really the case with me.

I have been a senior at UofL for three years now and I have to say, graduation is taking it’s time getting here. One thing I have learned though is that time is relative. I could have finished my original degree in Biology and graduated in 2010, but I don’t think I would have had any clue what to do with it. 

I started out believing that I wanted to end up in medical school. While my motives were the right ones, wanting to help people make the best of their lives, my method did not hold true. Science is a subject I enjoy when I can leisurely explore different topics at my own pace. The pressure of learning it quickly and being tested over such vast amounts wasn’t for me. It may have taken me four years to pinpoint this, but once I did it changed everything.

After a few trips to the University Career Development Center, I found out a lot about myself and decided to switch the focus of my undergraduate career. I was minoring in communication and loved it, so I made that my major.

At that point I decided it no longer mattered that I graduate in the standard four years (which I have since heard is more like six). I have decided that I have years to work ahead of me, so I should take my time figuring out a career field that I will actually enjoy.

It seems like so long ago that all this started. I can’t help but thinking back to how not-ready I was to graduate a few years ago and how much more prepared I am now, even if I am a little nervous about facing the big-wide world after college.

Relay for Life 2011

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It’s 4:30AM on a beautiful night. Music is blasting, frisbees are flying. This is Relay for Life at the University of Louisville. 38 teams comprised of over 500 people gather to celebrate life and to raise money to fight cancer.
We walk all night to represent the fight cancer patients go through as they fight for their lives. At this point in the night we are all exhausted and count down the hours until this is all over. Knowing that we get to go home and relax in just a few hours if a relief. As I walk I think that if only cancer patients had it so ready. They don’t get to tag team someone else to fight for them. That don’t get to decide they’ve had enough and go home or fall asleep in a tent for a few hours break.
My walking had left me with a blister that may take a day or two to heal. That’s two days of hobbling around in pain, but then it’s over and done -a short-lived reminder of my own fight against cancer- if only cancer followed the same schedule.

Headed to California…

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How many songs to do you know that have something to do with running off to California?? As I write a multitude of songs run through my head. Pink, Sara Bareillis, Jo Dee Messina… the list goes on and on. Just for kicks and giggles, I Googled “songs about California” and I must say, I was surprised at how many showed up on a list on wikipedia. So many songs singing about the ups and downs of that state. Listening to any one of them makes me wish I could take a vacation.

Something about a steady, predictable weather pattern is vastly appealing right now. In my small corner of the world it has flip-flopped from freezing temperatures to balmy breezes from one day to the next. Some may call it global warming. Others call it Kentucky.

Even without the unpredictable weather,  I am so ready to pack a suitcase and be off. Don’t get me wrong, I love all that I’ve gotten myself into, but sometimes enough is enough. It has been years since my last vacation – and I’m taking a real vacation here- not a working trip or a visit to friends and family – as much as I love those trips. Yet, I have to imagine a real vacation being more about relaxing and unwinding than worrying about being somewhere on a deadline or dividing my time between wanting to see everyone in a short span of time.

I was being interviewed for a class project once and although I do not remember the specific question, the topic of vacations came up. At the time I said I could never be happy on a vacation where I had nothing to do. I told my classmate that I would get to antsy and not be able to relax. That was back in January. Four months later I’m saying “bring on the lounge chair.”

Graduation is my first priority right now. I’ve still got a bit of work to do and I have  decided to plan a great vacation for my post-graduation celebration. I have not decided where I want to go or what I want to do, but I am almost positive the highlight of my time will be doing nothing. It may be a year away but already I’m selecting a playlist of vacation tunes and the Beach Boys are high on my list. 

Learning to Budget – misadventures in money management pt. 1

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I am a college student. Simple. So, it seems almost redundant to say that I am also broke about 99.9% of the time.

I was lucky enough to qualify for financial aid and have held a part-time job, but I never seem to have that extra $10 – $15 lying around.

With gas prices rising at about the same speed my bank account is dwindling, I decided it is time for a change.

My first step: cooking instead of buying out. I hear from fellow students that it has the potential to save some money, so why not? I splurged and bought a student-friendly cookbook for a whopping $7 at a used book store. After all, if I’m going to cook to save money, what better than a book that gives me recipes for food that is quick and inexpensive??

One of the first recipes I tried was Mac and Cheese. Doesn’t sound too difficult, right? Well, turns out this isn’t just your ordinary Velveeta-type dish. Still, I was in the spirit of the moment at the grocery store with my list as I hunted down three cheeses (one of which I still can’t pronounce) to whip up this classic comfort food.

Note to self: cheese is kinda expensive.

I waited a few days before buckling down and trying my hand at this dish, but eventually my enthusiasm got the best of me.

I put the liquids on to boil and started grating the cheese. I had my i-pod on, and life is great.

Until that is, I realize I completely forgot about the pot boiling on the stove as my brother yells, “What is that?!?”

WHOOSH! Suddenly the pot is foaming over and for a second all I can do is stare. I shriek and throw down the hunk of cheddar I was cheerfully grating and rush to rescue the all-important sauce.

Luckilly, I was mostly in time although our new drip-pans on the stove might not agree.

After that it all got better. Even I can boil noodles and stir.

Impatient to see the results of my first time making homemade Mac and Cheese, I sprinkled the un-pronouncable cheese on top of the saucy noodles and stuck the whole thing under the broiler just long enough to say that I did.

It was beautiful. It might have smelled like someone’s dirty gym-shoes, but it was something I made that did not end up burnt or too watery. I wish I would have taken a picture, but I was too dazzled to think of it.

Four days later it’s time to throw out the leftovers. Turns out only one person in my family really enjoys blue-cheese and wow! does that flavor trump the rest.

Even though it wasn’t what I expected and no one ate it, I learned a few valuable lessons from this misadventure.

Next time, use Velveeta. It’s cheaper and people actually like it. I don’t know why but for some odd reason stinky cheese tends to turn people away.

Finally, always have someone prepared to react in an over-the-top way standing by to warn you forget about boiling liquids, especially if you’re singing along to some wacky song.

Until next time…