No Comments// Posted in Uncategorized by Lauren on 11.16.11.
So, I’m a girl. And apparently, I am exactly the kind of person Pinterest is targeting – I love recipes, art projects, ideas for kids and PRETTY PICTURES. The iPhone app makes it incredibly easy to browse and re-pin interesting ideas when I’m bored or late at night, so I’ve been amassing a bunch of boards with “Things I Should Do Eventually Someday”. I FINALLY finished my first project both inspired by and worth of Pinning. So here you have it!
It’s nothing new that I am moderately obsessed with yellow and gray – I have my own Pinterest board dedicated to it. So when I bought new furnishings for my bedroom, I was drawn to this pretty silver/gold comforter- one, because it’s close to the colors I’m crazy about and two, because it is literally the most comfortable comforter I’ve ever found in my life. The problem I found was that I already had a few things that didn’t quite match – particularly, I have two big brown chairs, and the manzanita branch centerpieces from my wedding that I enjoy in their current spot. In comes Pinterest!
To tie the silver and gold in with the brown, I decided I’d use a Pin as inspiration (Pinspiration? Does the word play ever end?) for some artwork. I hand-drew some branches, then painted them in brown, used a gray background, and used a hot glue gun to attach some cream flower buttons, brown buttons and gold-ish buttons.
I think it really ties things together, and I’m super proud to have actually finished them!
2 Comments// Posted in Blog by Lauren on 09.16.11.
(In my defense, I STARTED writing this blog on my monthiversary. It is now two weeks after that. Such is my blogging style.)
For one month, I’ve been a city-workin gal. For those of you not quite in the know, I finally re-joined the real working world after working as a freelancer for a year. In fact, my July was insane – I went to Las Vegas, accepted a job, visited Florida, moved across the Bay and started a new job… more on the Vegas experience later! But, it was an incredibly hectic and fun transition. It’s definitely a completely different experience than I’ve ever had before, and I’ve been wanting to sit down for a while and lay out my reflections.
First of all, working in a city is neat. This is the first time in my life I feel entirely non-car-dependent… I am within walking distance of a grocery store, a bank, a Starbucks and a BART station (which, technically, puts me in walking distance to much more). I walk less than a block to the station and about one whole block from the station to my work. It is convenience like I have never experienced before! It’s really nice to be close to a lot of things, to not rely on a car, to not have to worry about things like parking or speeding or car accidents or driving after having a few drinks.
Speaking of city conveniences… THE FOOD. The sheer diversity is pretty impressive, but the price is even better. I know a lot of people complain about the cost of living in a big city, but the fact that I can choose from about 90 places within walking distance of me for a delicious, authentic lunch under $10… the options are mind-blowing, and sometimes crippling. I have to fight myself from sticking with easy knowns to explore more exciting unknowns. I feel like I could live here for my entire life and eat somewhere different every day and still not experience half of what the city has to offer in terms of food.
I read a blog post the other day that said candy bowls were the key to happy employees. Now, I’ve actually worked for that particular company in the past, and I can now confidently say that they’ve got a hell of a long way to go before they have happy employees. Sure, having candy bowls in peoples offices means people are more likely to stop and interact. But beyond that, treating your employees like adults goes a profound way. My normal work schedule recently is about 10am to about 6pm. This doesn’t seem like a huge variation from the norm, but the difference is that my work schedule is my decision. Some days, I do not want to get out of bed, and I’ll start my e-mails and forum-checking and other work duties from home before showing up at noon. Some days, I’ll leave at 4 to avoid BART protests, or at 3 to make a doctor’s appointment. Sometimes, I’ll stay up working until midnight. The bottom line is – I’m doing the work that they want me to do. When I work, where I work, how I work, even how I am dressed – if I am exceeding expectations, I have freedom, and when I have freedom, I exceed expectations. It’s a very “West Coast” sentiment, I’ve found, but after experiencing it myself, I can’t see myself going back to the “other side”.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m really loving it out here, and I hope to start putting more of my reflections into blog posts more often… but every time I say that, life gets in the way. Oh well. Come visit.
No Comments// Posted in Blog by Lauren on 12.31.10.
So, at the suggestion of my husband, I will recap why 2010 has been an absolutely insane year.
January – Started my year by finding a lost doggie and reuniting him with his family. Worked a lot. Had my bridal shower! Ended the month with the flu, had to spend an entire week at home.
February - My coworkers threw me a bridal shower! So nice. Bought a lot of stuff, made a lot of stuff, wrote a lot of stuff. AND THEN WE GOT MARRIED. It was wonderful, and I’m so thankful to everyone who shared the day (or days) with us.
March – Honeymoon! Two whole weeks in Europe. Saw Billy Elliot. Ate at Gordon Ramsay’s at Claridges. Ate pastries in Paris. Saw Wicked. Met Alice O’Connor. Went back to work, and it was actually improved slightly by not having to do account services anymore. Finally got my name changed! Went to my first real bridal shower that wasn’t my own! I think I won a tampon. And at the end of the month, I accidentally deleted my Twitter account then (thankfully) got it re-instated.
April - This month, I blew a tire, fell in love with Justin Bieber, and finally put my wedding pictures on Facebook and got everything labeled and tagged. Let’s pretend April never happened, eh?
May – Was honored to be a bridesmaid in my friend Laura’s wedding on the 8th. Spent the weekend partying in St. Augustine. Work was wearing me quite thin by that point, and my frustration was… palpable. Bought my new car on the 17th, and literally a few days later Phil got a job offer in CALIFORNIA. Made the moving announcement on the 20th, and had my last day of work on the 28th! And ended the month with weddingness… Heather and Rich’s wedding on the beach and Sheila’s bridal shower in Orlando.
June - FLEW TO CALIFORNIA! Spent the month staying at the W Hotel in Newark, which shared a parking lot with Phil’s new office! Laid out in the sun a lot, despite the fact that it was incredibly cool for that time of year. Tried pho for the first time. Phil’s 26th birthday meal was Jack In The Box… because he wanted it, and because we didn’t have a car yet. Put a deposit down on a new apartment after probably only two weeks of hard searching. Got my car shipped down, just in time for me to come down with the worst illness I’ve ever experienced in my life somewhere around the end of the month and it lasted far longer than necessary. Turned 24 while still insanely ill, so my birthday meal was pancakes and a milkshake in bed. Still managed to take a drive over the mountains and see the Pacific Ocean for the first time a few days later.
July – Spent our first night in our new apartment on the 3rd! Then flew back to Florida on the 4th. Spent my month packing, packing, packing, and, uh, packing. Oh and I watched the entire series of Veronica Mars again. Had a date with my gay boyfriend. Ended the month in Orlando drinking and not singing karaoke.
August – I kicked off the month by driving across the Southern US with my little brother, dog and cat. Port St. Lucie to Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge to Amarillo, Amarillo to Flagstaff, Flagstaff to Fremont. Zoe learned how to climb stairs, then learned what “park” means. Dan spent a few weeks with us, which was awesome. We got our stuff and unpacked and got significantly more settled. Explored San Fran a little. Went to my first Bay Area Shackmeet. Visited Brad for his birthday. Dan went home. It got incredibly hot, and we didn’t have AC. Went to first board game night in San Jose. Spread rumors about my husband’s penchant for unicorns.
September – Learned that things will not grow on my porch because there is no sun. Started planning ShackCon. Went to the DMV a bunch of times. Saw Donald Glover. Slept on the couch a few times because it got so damn hot. Played lots of Professor Layton. Bought trash cans, and was really excited about it.
October – I did a lot of freelance work this month actually. Made a test turkey, and talked someone out of suicide. Dyed my hair red. Carved punkins, made an amazing Halloween cake, and went to a Rock Band/Halloween party in Novato.
November – The Giants won the World Series and everything got real loud. Politics politics election election. Baked a LOT of muffins this month. Phil’s mom came to visit… I made Thanksgiving dinner!
December – We got our tree on the 3rd, which ended up being a little bit too early. But we were in the spirit all month! Decorated the apartment, baked lots of cookies, went to an office Christmas party. Got a new Google Cr-48 laptop. Became a groomswoman for a future wedding. Had a quiet Christmas. And here I am.
I feel like everything happened this year… between the wedding and honeymoon and giant move across the country, it was a major year. But it was a great year. Still, looking forward to 2011, and even more, 2012. See you there
No Comments// Posted in Blog by Lauren on 11.27.10.
Thanksgiving. I never really liked the holiday when I was younger, but ever since I started cooking I’ve enjoyed it more and more every year… and I really think I outdid myself on this particular meal. Every single recipe I made came out exquisitely, and I think I have to quit now.
My spread :
Roasted Turkey – I loosely follow Alton Brown’s Good Eats brined turkey recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html , and I’ve made three turkeys using it. This year I picked up a 21.5lb Foster Farms fresh turkey. My brine was made of about 1/3 gallon turkey stock, 1/3 gallon chicken stock, and 1/3 gallon apple cider, cooked with the salt, allspice berries, pepper, ginger and salt of Alton’s recipe. I don’t water mine down with a gallon of water, I generally throw the turkey in the brine mix and then throw in a bunch of ice. And I use his recipe for the aromatics… they make an incredible gravy! I roasted for the first half hour at 375 then turned it down to 300 for about five hours, maybe a little more. The only time I open the oven is after the first half hour, when I cover the roaster in a tent of aluminum foil. When I pulled the turkey out to check the temperature, it was fully cooked, still moist, and absolutely insanely good tasting. My only problem? It completely falls apart. Completely. It is so moist and amazing that it is LITERALLY fall-off-the-bone delicousness. If I had to pick some problem to have in my meal… I’m happy that was it.
Gravy – To make the gravy, I take 3 tbsp of butter and melt it in a pan. Add 3 tbsp of flour, then add some of the pan juices and a little chicken or turkey stock. Mix, cook til boiling, and it gets nice and thick and delicious.
Mashed Potatoes – I am a never ending spout of disappointment, because I absolutely cannot make mashed potatoes. I over-boil them and make them gross and I know it is a weakness. But where I am weak, Trader Joe’s is oh so strong. They have FROZEN mashed potato pellets, and they are wonderful. I used an entire bag, but they’re made so you can make as many servings as you need. I threw an entire bag into a pot on the stove with about 1/2 cup of milk and a few tablespoons of butter. As the pellets melted, they combined with the milk and butter and transformed into a fluffy and delicious mashed potato dish.
Green Bean Casserole – I’ve made this enough times that I know never to use a recipe. Recipes use too much milk and make it too mushy creamy. This year, I used all Trader Joe’s products for this. Two cans of green beans, one container of condensed cream of portabella soup, and one can of fried onions. Drain green beans, add entire container of soup, mix in a bit of onions, mix in a bit of pre-cooked pre-diced bacon pieces, add a little bit of milk (I probably add a half cup or so?) until a little creamy but not WET. Cover with a layer of onions, bake until hot. The end!
Stuffing – This is an amazing recipe. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Awesome-Sausage-Apple-and-Cranberry-Stuffing/Detail.aspx My changes – I use pre-made cubed stuffing, the kind in a bag. I made it with bread once and it just didn’t come out nearly as well. I don’t use the turkey liver, and I probably add a bit more stock… since I don’t cook it inside the bird, it has to be significantly wetter before it goes into the oven. Generally, put in enough stock until it looks like something you’d want to eat, then add a bit more. I baked this alongside the green bean casserole at 350 degrees until they were both nice and hot.
Random Veggie Mix – Trader Joe’s had some bags of veggies andddd I just couldn’t resist picking them up and attempting something strange. I used half a bag of cut sweet potatoes, half a bag of cut rutabaga, parsnip and turnip, and a whole sliced fennel. Threw it into a pan with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. AWESOME.
And last but not least… Rolls. I used this recipe http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Blue-Ribbon-Overnight-Rolls/Detail.aspx to the letter, since I am terrified of baking with yeast. I’m always convinced I’m going to do something horribly wrong. The dough rised overnight, then I rolled it and cut it as described, but instead of rolling them into horns, I took each section (1/18th of the total recipe) and divided it into three small balls and put them into a greased muffin pan. Then I let them rise all day while I was cooking dinner, put them into the oven at the end of my cooking, and they came out as delicious pull-apart yeast rolls perfect for sticking a slice of butter into. I will probably make these 100 times in the future, they are amazing and so so easy. Best if served hot, straight from the oven.
And now to share with you my current food obsession… http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/panini-with-chocolate-and-brie-recipe/index.html
Brie. Chocolate. Basil. Sourdough. It sounds really weird… but trust me and make these right now.
AND for a completely different level of food euphoria… add diced bacon.
/dies of a delicious food coma
No Comments// Posted in Uncategorized by Lauren on 09.13.10.
This is an amazing cookie recipe that I absolutely love. I am putting it here so I can send the link to people when they ask for it.
1 cup flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, around room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup applesauce
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Craisins
Stand Mixer (or Hand Mixer plus Large Mixing Bowl)
2 Cookie Sheets
Medium Mixing Bowl
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar.
4. Beat in the egg. Once combined, add applesauce and vanilla.
5. Working by hand, stir in the flour and oat mix until just combined and no white streaks remain.
6. Stir in Craisins.
7. Drop tablespoonfuls on to sheet.
8. Bake about 11-13 minutes. Cookies will be a bit darker brown at edges.
• Parchment paper is amazing. If you’ve never used it before, you will use it forever and ever once you start. If you cannot find or do not have parchment paper, you can just use non-stick spray on a cookie sheet, but if you do that you are compromising the amazingness of this recipe and I do not take responsibility if it isn’t good.
• You can substitute a bunch of things for the Craisins, or mix and match add-ins! Raisins or other dried fruit work fine. Chocolate chips are great, and even better if you add some coconut. It’s a very versatile recipe.
No Comments// Posted in Blog by Lauren on 09.07.10.
Now I want to start off by saying that I LOVE LAYTON. I played and finished the first one in probably a couple of days. It’s the kind of puzzle cocaine you can’t put down. The puzzles are difficult and varied, and the storyline manages to keep you interested while not getting in the way of gameplay.
Oh, did I mention difficult? Part of the fun of the Layton series is learning how to re-assemble your DS once you’ve thrown it against a wall. Or a loved one. Sorry about that.
I don’t remember where I heard about their Ladies vs. Gents Puzzle Challenge… probably the Twitters. But I was excited! The very first one was in San Francisco! I live in San Francisco! Or, near it. Unfortunately it was on a Tuesday which meant I ended up making a trip into the city alone, but it’s nice to explore sometimes.
So, yes, I made an hour train trip specifically to try out the new Layton and see what they had going on. I am a giant freaking nerd.
I walked up and saw the iconic London phone booths and I smiled a little. I’ve been to London, and the monument in Union Square Park reminds me of something you’d see there. But the rest of the area couldn’t be more West coast, and the dichotomy was amusing to my moderately traveled brain.
When I got there, there was one line that was really really long and one line that wasn’t so long at all. I quickly learned that the long one was the men’s line and the short one was the women’s line, from a nice young chap dressed quite similarly to Layton’s apprentice, Luke. In fact, I asked him if he was Luke, and he looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. Strike one, Nintendo.
I got in line and watched as the girl in front of me struggled through some puzzles in the phone booth, amused, thinking “Oh I got this.” I asked the girl what they were basing their scores on, whether it was tries or time, and they said both, I had three minutes. Okay. So I started on a puzzle and quickly realized that these bitches set me up. It was a fairly overcast day, but there was quite a decent glare on the screen, and my puzzle was mostly based on colors that I really couldn’t see at all. It took me two tries and about a minute to finish my first one, and which point I stepped out and said “Two!” And they said “Two puzzles?” And I said… “No, two tries, was I supposed to keep going?” and they said “Yes, but uh, I guess your time is up.” No watch, no timer, and I know it wasn’t three minutes because I stood in line and watched how long they gave the other ruffians. They gave me my free shirt (tadaaaa, highlight of my experience) and I walked away, almost running into a girl dressed as Flora Reinhold who was drinking a cup of Starbucks. I didn’t dare ask her if she knew who she was supposed to be.
I want to send out a giant memo typed in capital letters that tells marketing directors that sending your shitty interns to do your public marketing events isn’t a great marketing strategy. Not one person there seemed to give a flying fuck what was going on. Not one person tried to talk a bit more about the game. And really, not one person was qualified to be taking the results, because they didn’t seem like they had any clue what the game was supposed to be, and they definitely didn’t have a clue how to communicate their directions. Maybe this would be a more effective event just to grab people who had never heard of the game before, but I’m not sure. The entire thing felt so entirely sloppy, mismanaged and a waste of potential that I don’t know if I’d buy the game if that was the first time I had tried it.
Plus, the fucking puzzle made me want to throw their DS at the wall.
(Professor Layton and the Unwound Future goes on sale Sunday, September 12, and I will probably be purchasing it sometime shortly after. The series really is fantastic and despite my disappointments in their event, the new game seems just as intriguing and challenging as the rest.)
No Comments// Posted in Blog by Lauren on 09.03.10.
Pigs are flying, nerds are wetting their pants, and a video game announced during the Clinton Administration might actually get released some day. But I’m not going to talk about bubble gum, strippers and bad-assery… I’m going to talk about marketing.
This is actually a weird topic for me to suddenly feel like writing about. I’ve never been huge on the Duke franchise, though I know many who are. But I became quite excited when I realized that I actually personally KNOW a handful of people involved in both the game development and marketing with the new Duke Nukem wranglers. So it is by pure fluke that I even ended up paying attention to today’s release shindig.
The rumors spread quick and started early. We knew days in advance that something Duke related was probably coming to PAX, and we anxiously awaited the 10 a.m. PST live stream (Note: Feed replay is available through the link). When it started, we were greeted by the lovely Elizabeth Tobey of 2KGames (Did you know she is one of my wives? I bet you didn’t) and her apparently hamfisted and attention-deficit cameraperson. It all quickly got… weird. Technical difficulties are almost expected with mass streams, and this one got off to a late start, had some initial hiccups with what I can only assume was massive server load, and suffered greatly from flaky microphones (especially during interesting parts, like interviews). But that is all completely understandable. The biggest WTF moment for non-PAX spectators, I believe, was when Gearbox Software CEO and President Randy Pitchford unveiled his massively giant career erection and introduction us to footage… we wouldn’t get to see, due to ESRB restrictions. Heh. Okay. I can understand that. It even makes me laugh a little. Elizabeth and Hamfist were wooshed out of the room, we heard something in the background, and we then watched as Hamfist managed to go from play screen to play screen capturing the same 12 seconds of elevator footage each time. Oh, and then there were some interviews. And then she went back in, we saw Randy again, we got wooshed again, and I stopped fucking watching.
The first thing that confused me was trying to find the new Duke Nukem website. I tried dukenukemforever.com, I tried dnf.com. I honestly didn’t even think to try dukenukem.com until a while later. Not a HUGE deal. BUT HERE’S THE CLINCHER. When I finally FOUND the website, I clicked the little “Like” button so I could follow the feed and have it on my Twitter. As did apparently over 500 other people. But that “Like” button leads to a link to dukenukemforever.com, which is a GoDaddy parked domain. Yeesh. For those looking to fan Duke, the correct link is apparently this one. Maybe.
The second was that I had no idea how to spread this information best. I re-tweeted the live feed, but 2KGames themselves were using multiple hash tags, which REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS. I wanted Duke to TREND but I had no idea how to make it happen! With such a major release, you pretty much have to start the party line, then try to keep people on board. Now, as I say that, Duke Nukem Forever (with no hash tag) has jumped to the number one trending topic in the US, mostly due to an insane number of retweets from Wil Wheaton and Kotaku, so in the end the goal was reached. I just felt like in the moment, some potential was lost, and it maybe felt a little sloppier.
The third was that the footage was nowhere to be found online yet. Yes, she said it would be there “later”, but I am impatient that decision confused me as well… and it apparently not only confused but absolutely enraged many fans. There are basically a couple of scenarios I’ve played out in my head that could have happened.
1) Some sort of exclusivity with PAX or another entity kept the release of the footage online. I can get this, but honestly, if this is it, you gotta say it up front. Exclusivity and Penny Arcade don’t usually have much to do with one another, so honestly this option would be perplexing to me. There’s potentially a lot of politics or restrictions that goes on behind the scenes, but I’d be simply curious to the answer if this is the case.
2) Thoughtlessness. Someone simply didn’t think about having the footage released at the same time as the PAX announcement. I’m really hoping this isn’t true at all, but I have to at least include it. A generally harmless mistake, but a mistake nonetheless, could easily be to blame.
3) Strategy. This is what I’m betting on, but what I’m also torn about. Announcing what is essentially the re-awakening of Duke in a personal, in-the-moment (however sloppy some feel it was) live feed. Holding back a little something from viewers. Letting conference-goers experience and spread their excitement. And finally releasing footage and more media information a little later. It surely builds up the anticipation, and that’s why I’m pretty positive that this is what those pretty little marketing geniuses must have dreamed up. But at the same time, I’m hesitant. What happens if the footage doesn’t live up the absolutely massive expectations that have been built up to it just over a couple of hours or days of non-release? What happens if the gaming community is so perplexed over what could look like sloppy marketing that they quickly doubt the ability of the developer to actually follow through with making a good product? Many gamers vehemently embrace an “open” strategy of… everything. And when doors are closed in their faces, the knee-jerk reaction isn’t just to wait and check back later. It’s to pound the FUCK out of that door until someone realizes that there is a MOTHERFUCKING MOB waiting to see a BADASS MOTHERFUCKER PISS IN A URINAL AND FUCK SOME HOES.
That’s inappropriate. But honestly, this was a post about motherfucking Duke Nukem, and you should know better.
I want to thank Elizabeth and 2KGames and Gearbox Software for their sneak peek this morning and for maybe helping get this shit out by 2011, and I hope I can write some more when we see what the fallout of this epic announcement is. Oh, P.S., if you wanna save me a t-shirt, I’ll buy you lunch.
2 Comments// Posted in Uncategorized by Lauren on 05.02.10.
It’s hard to teach something you know. This sounds kind of counter-intuitive, but it’s pretty extensively documented, and I’m having a really hard time teaching something I feel like I truly “get” to people who simply don’t.
It’s easiest to teach a subject when you are semi-proficient at it. If you are not familiar at all, you don’t have the basic skills necessary to link together concepts. But if you are TOO familiar… if it is a subject you live and breathe… suddenly, the most basic concepts become common sense, and more advanced issues become basic concepts. The small facts and concepts that are the building blocks of the knowledge become your common sense, and they link together to build something you believe in. But to an outsider, the small facts and common sense make absolutely no sense at all, and everything you put together AFTER that is voodoo magic.
I graduated with my B.B.A. in Marketing almost exactly one year ago. A week after that, I got my first job at an ad agency. A year later, I am developing an agency social media strategy from the ground up. It’s an absolutely enormous undertaking without, I feel, the resources to back it up quite yet. And on top of that, I’m feeling enormous pressure to produce statistics and solid metrics that show typical results.
… but there AREN’T typical results. Part of my entire premise on social media is that it is completely individualized. The product, the market, the approach, the venues, the resources… there is no comparing of apples to apples. Even if companies are similar, there is no telling that what works for one will work for another. Are there lessons to be learned, absolutely. Are there case studies to be discovered, surely. Are there metrics to track progress, of course. But this isn’t like a statistical pay-per-click or analytics-based campaign. These are CONVERSATIONS. These are relationships with real people. There is only so much the numbers can measure, and they aren’t going to be very helpful in terms of estimation.
Should you set goals? Of course. SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You learn what is attainable for YOUR company and YOUR market as you go along. You check against similar companies and markets to see if they are doing anything you think might work for you. You pay attention to what people are saying about you. And you understand that whatever results people get, it’s because they took their time to make things work, and kept at it.
I’m not sure how to move forward. It’s a stressful and unnerving situation, and I wish I could vent further. For now, I guess I’ll just keep practicing my tongue-biting.
No Comments// Posted in Uncategorized by Lauren on 04.19.10.
I hate to post on the same thing twice, but I feel like I have to follow up my previous post with an update.
The other day, I went in to Bank Atlantic to change the name and address on my debit card (I’m officially Lauren Kates now, hooyay!) and the “Overdraft Assistance” option came up yet again. This time, in the form of a piece of paper they gave to me to sign to affirm that I agree to Bank Atlantic’s new overdraft policies.
Let me recap from my previous post on the subject on the BankAtlantic Debit Card Overdraft Assistance :
“Overdraft Assistance” is exactly that… it HELPS you to OVERDRAFT. Recent banking regulations have made it so that overdraft fees have to be an opt-in program and banks have to have their default option to simply decline your card should you overdraft, a provision that is meant to protect consumers from the absolutely exorbitant fees that can occur simply from a miscalculation. I’d personally MUCH rather have it decline and myself potentially face momentary embarrassment than to potentially face hundreds of dollars in overdraft charges simply because I didn’t realize I was overdrawn.
I was immediately taken aback by the form, because I knew what these policies were and had specifically NOT opted in, and now it was being presented to me as if I didn’t really have a choice. The girl helping me was quite nice (I actually went to middle school with her) but she didn’t even seem to realize that the “feature” her bank was pushing is actually BAD for it’s customers. When I told her I did not want to be a part of the program, she said “Oh, it’s just about overdrafting, so that if you overdraft you can still make your purchases.” It’s like people aren’t thinking this program through at all, and that’s terrifying.
So I did get away with not signing the form, and I did note on the account that I will absolutely never be adding that particular “service”, but I feel like I have to post one more time to get the warning out there.
Also a note: I wish I could link you back to a Bank Atlantic page explaining this valuable program, but it is mysteriously not mentioned on their site. COOL.
1 Comment// Posted in Uncategorized by Lauren on 04.12.10.
Hell. I want to subtitle this post “Hell”. I had heard the horror stories about post-wedding name changes… and I figured, I’m not stupid, I know how to deal with paperwork. Most of these problems are caused by people not knowing what to expect, right?
A good friend of mine is getting married coming up rather soon, and recently posted about changing her name. Now I never had any of the feminist agenda hangups about changing… personally, my maiden name trips up my minor speech impediment and I was happy to get rid of it. But I do have some advice for those looking to go through the name change process in the future.
1) Social Security.
This is step one, and where all of my troubles began. You essentially need to change with S.S. before you can do ANYTHING else. First of all, go at the middle to end of the month- if you try to go at the beginning of the month, you’re competing with a completely different crowd. As with any government agency, I recommend bringing something to distract you from the unfortunate crowd you will be sharing intimate space with. Anyway. For Social Security, you need to have:
- Application for a Social Security card. This is the form you fill out either when you get your first card or when you are changing your information.
- Identity. Current identity. This can be your drivers license, state-issued ID card, or U.S. passport.
- Citizenship. U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.
- Proof of name change. Marriage document, divorce decree, or court order for name change.
Just a point of clarification for those thinking about changing names BEFORE marriage. You can start changing in a lot of ways, but going through the system and starting to change documents might not be the best idea, and step 1 is the first reason why. A marriage certificate is the easiest way to prove name change, and it’s one less step you have to go through in the process. I can’t personally say I know how easy or difficult it is to get a court order for a name change, but I can’t imagine it’s easier than just waiting until you have your marriage license. On ANOTHER note, I spoke with another friend on a similar topic when he spoke about changing both his future wife AND his name. Does anyone have any clarifying information they can give on how difficult this is? The marriage license is considered a universally accepted proof for changing a woman’s name… what about both changing to a combined name, or the man changing his name as well? I’m not sure, but with my proven track record of government agency inconsistencies, I foresee some difficulties trying to get that accomplished… and it might require a court order as well.
PRE STEP 2 NOTE:
Social Security can take at LEAST 24 hours and up to a week to update in their system before other agencies (i.e., the DMV) can verify the name change. Apparently whether or not they tell you or agree with this is based on the person you get that day, but in my personal experience, it’s the truth. Some may tell you that the print out you get telling you to expect your new card is enough to get a license. It isn’t. You don’t necessarily need your new social security card (which can take up to a few weeks to get to you… mine took about a week and a half) to go to the DMV, but it definitely does not hurt, because at that point you know your number is updated in their systems.
Congrats, you have a name! Now, get a license. Note that this section will vary depending on state, and my experiences are with Florida. Which sucks. You need to bring:
- Citizenship. U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.
- Proof of residency. You need this whether or not you are changing addresses, but if you ARE changing, this can be tricky. Make sure to check the DMV’s Gather Go Get website for a list of acceptable forms of proof and MAKE SURE you have AT LEAST two, if not more, when you go. Now, if the home is not currently in your name or you don’t have any proof of address (say, you are moving in with your new husband), you have to bring two forms of residency in HIS name, plus a signed statement saying that you are living with him. This… is ridiculous. I could have signed it myself in crayon and they wouldn’t have known the difference. But it’s required if you currently don’t have any acceptable proof.
- Proof of Social Security number. This is where that above part gets tricky. If you don’t have your new card, you need your old card, and they’ll look it up. But if it doesn’t match, you won’t be able to change your license. When my social security number had not yet updated when I visited the DMV, they offered to make my drivers license hyphenated. DON’T. DO. IT. Apparently, having things not match like that can affect how easy it is to do a lot of things in the future.
- Proof of name change. Same issues as with Social Security, you need a marriage license or court order.
My advice for the DMV? Make. An. Appointment. There are multiple “lists” at Florida’s DMVs, and which one you end up on affects how quickly you are called. If you make an appointment, you end up list A. Walk-ins are on list C. I have no idea what list B is, I think it might have something to do with a driving test or something. List A goes the fastest, and if you’re like me and the ticketing system goes down while you are there, they will only accept from list A until all of the A’s are taken care of. AND, if for some horrible reason they can’t take care of you that day, ask them for a slip of paper so you can return without an appointment. I got onto list A as a walk-in with it, and I was incredibly thankful for it.
Oh, another note! This is a good opportunity to become an Organ Donor if you aren’t already. I tried to and they completely didn’t pay attention to anything I asked them and I just now realized I’m NOT a donor, but if you’ve been on the fence about it, changing your name is a great time to go ahead and get it done!
3) Health insurance.
This was fun for me to figure out as well. I get married, and suddenly… am I still covered under my mom’s policy? Do they continue it automatically? How can I sign up under him if my name change isn’t completed yet? He eventually added me to his policy under my new name (once it went through with social security of course) and they extended my policy back to my wedding date to avoid any potential coverage gaps. But we ALMOST missed the deadline for a qualifying event – check requirements, we had to notify them within 30 days of the event, and after a two week honeymoon that date came pretty quickly.
4) Everything else.
I am currently working on changing over my bank information. Interesting note for those pre-marriage: Have you thought yet about depositing post-wedding checks? Ask your bank about their policies, because most are surprisingly annoying. It’s fun trying to cash a check in your new name when your ID and account are in your old name! Or cashing checks made out to both of you when you don’t currently share accounts. Apparently all banks handle this differently, but it was quite the headache for us. “You have to sign. I mean, you both have to sign. Wait, his signature needs to be last. Can you sign in both your maiden name and your new name? Thanks. Oh wait, some of these might not go through but if they don’t we’ll send them back.”
I read somewhere that you shouldn’t start your name change until you return from your honeymoon. Interesting things happen if you try to travel and your passport doesn’t match your license or your ticket or what have you. It’s generally a much better idea to keep your name until you return… but have all the paperwork and requirements ready to take care of before you go back to work, or you end up stuck like I did. It’d be absolutely heartbreaking to not have your passport back to you in time to leave, or to not have a new debit/credit card with your new name on it.
Everything I’ve talked about so far is to do with changing your name legally… Social security, DMV, bank information, passports, debit cards, credit cards, car insurance, health insurance, etc. But also remember that you will possibly have the need for a new e-mail address, domain name, Twitter name, etc. My online presence was changing long before my legal name did; I had to protect the territory! Keep these things in mind as well and plan accordingly!
Best of luck to anyone starting off on the process, and I hope maybe this helps a little. Or maybe it just made you appreciate your maiden name just a little bit more. Either way… congratulations, the worst that can happen is that you end up married.
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