Instagram Then and Now

A Brief History

I’ve been using Instagram since April of 2011 when the site was about 6 months old. It seemed like a creative challenge and I didn’t know if I was up to the task. Back then I was most likely shooting photos with an iPhone 4 or 4s (can’t remember which) capturing images at less than 400 pixels per inch. By comparison, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL I now use are capturing 12.3 megapixel images—so massively greater image clarity is possible.

Looking back at my early photos, they look kind of awful. Despite some images with halfway decent composition, the clarity is “not good.”  Below is a sample, and you can follow the link to blog post with more examples and “tips.”

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Minimal Activity = Stagnant Follower Count

I’m not good at “gaming” followers, and unlike many of the huge accounts out there, I have never bought any. So while I was doing “okay,” my account was never great. Then it got worse. In 2016 I accepted a full-time job. It was demanding and negatively impacted my ability to create and engage on most of my social channels, including Instagram. I was basically on “maintenance mode.” I tried to post an image most days, but weeks or months would go by, and I would “like” a bunch of photos, but I wouldn’t exchange comments with anyone! Needless to say, my account stagnated, I lost followers, and I’d be lucky to get 30 or 50 “likes on an image. I was stuck at about 2800 followers and nothing I did seemed to make a difference.

Some of you who know me pretty well are aware I left my job about a month and a half ago. The reason is long and boring, but suffice it to say I’m on the road to recovery and feeling better each day, and one thing that has been soul replenishing is reconnecting with people on social media. Engagement has been essential. I’m now up to about 4100 followers and have made lots of fabulous connections with fun and interesting new people.

Ramping Up

Assessing my Instagram situation, I realized there are now a lot of great photographers  there, some of whom have massive audiences, and I seriously needed to up my game. The first order of business was to be more thoughtful about what I was shooting; then looking at how I was prepping the work, and how I framed the image’s narrative. I’ve been a brand partner of Verizon for about 5 years and I wanted to do a better job representing their products and service, so it meant changing up the way I had been doing things. Instead of “maintenance mode,” it was more like, “Banzai!”

Before and After

I’m going to share a series of “before and after” photos, so you can see what a difference it makes to properly prepare your images. This means cropping, sharpening, adjusting contrast, boosting the color saturation, and applying filters.

Here goes:

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Kind of a “blah” shot of Alki Beach, right?

After being cropped, adjusted and filtered, it looks so much more interesting, AND detail in the bird that I didn’t even know was there, shows up.

©Terri-Nakamura_Alki-Beach-IG-20180627_232201_127

One thing I’d like to say about Instagram — there is no shortage of brainy people there. Seems that each time I post something and don’t know what it is, a number of viewers will chime in and school me! An example is this shot below. I didn’t know what the flower was, and boy, did I get some great feedback!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The bee isn’t very apparent. Maybe because there are many distracting things in the shot, plus the color is subdued.

©Terri-Nakamura_Allium-bee-IG-20180721_205509_931

That’s better! And as Verizon says, “Better Matters!” And for the record, the flower is an Allium.

Reg Saddle @zaibatsu and I frequently discuss things like what the algorithms are rewarding or penalizing, and how it affects what we do. One of the things we go back to is what our audiences want. Think about what you post and which things get the most traction.

Here’s something “off the beaten path” for my feed — a glassblower in the Glassy Baby hot shop, not far from where I live. One of the most necessary steps was to crop this photo. You’ll see what I mean.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Interesting but a lot going on, right? Below: where the action is.

©Terri-Nakamura_GlassyBaby-IG-20180723_215223_959

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

My “boyfriend,” Hunter. Dark. But cropped and adjusted:

©Terri-Nakamura_Hunter-IG-20180728_221254_803

I don’t know about you, but our cats are shedding like crazy!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

So my brother-in-law is the head of the California Leafy Greens Board. His wife (is she my sister-in-law?) said this is NOT a thistle. But man. I’ve never seen an artichoke this tall. The main thing is, too much is going on and did you see the bee? Take a look:

©Terri-Nakamura_Thistle-bee-IG-20180727_223213_153

I almost hate to show you this one. Check out this tree photo, taken on a dreary Seattle day in late spring. I have a thing about shooting UP a tree. This is a classic case.

©Terri-Nakamura_Tree-20180417_190945.jpg

I didn’t like the way the trunk was drawing the eye away in the bottom right corner. Cropping was calling. But how about those colors? Drab!

©Terri-Nakamura_Tree-IG-20180714_234817_201

Through the miracle of filters, the tree came to life!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

So this is a weird one. I noticed this magnolia blossom was so heavy, the bough brought the blossom to my eye level. When I peered inside, I was like, “WHAT?!?” Very cool, but I knew there was potential in making this better. As shown below, I cleaned up the shot, and there is now more detail and clarity.

©Terri-Nakamura_Magnolia-bees-IG-20180731_223407_789

Yes, folks. The bees were having a cabana party! Interestingly the following day, ZIP.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

This shot is just plain beautiful any way you look at it. But even something this perfect can look better through cropping and a number of adjustments.

©Terri-Nakamura_Wild-roses-IG-20180713_221643_086

Things to Try

So, you can see that even a somewhat hopeless-looking photo has potential. It’s about post-production. Some things to think about:

  • Composition
  • Cropping
  • Color Adjustment (including saturation)
  • Ambience
  • Sharpening
  • Clean up
  • Filters

I’ve witnessed incredible transformations of the images posted by beginners who then found their mojo. Their photos went from “not good” to amazing!

If you’re on Instagram and follow me, simply post a comment on one of my images to let me know that you’re following, I’ll reciprocate! Here’s a link to my feed: https://www.instagram.com/terrinakamura/

If you’re NOT on Instagram, what are you waiting for? 🙂

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know!

More about Terri:

Her store on Alki Beach: Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

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Alki Surf Shop Turns 4!

Alki Beach-June 2015-© Terri Nakamura (2).jpg

Next month will mark the four-year anniversary of a small journey my husband, David Horsfall, and I started in 2014. Alki Surf Shop began as an online store that became a brick and mortar reality once we were able to locate retail space on Alki (pronounced ALK-eye) Beach. Retail spaces are rare, and it was through a chance conversation that we learned of an imminent storefront space opening up. Tucked around the corner from Homefront, the most popular ice cream store on the beach, it’s not the easiest place to find, but people find us, and somehow we’ve become a destination of sorts. We’ve cultivated a loyal base of customers—many of whom have become our friends. Our fans and supporters want us to succeed, and they bring in friends and family whenever they have visitors, from everywhere.

It’s been an amazing learning experience, and I can say with certainty we are doing most everything more intelligently than when we started (there is always room for improvement, though). Along the way we have met thousands of people from all around the world and have 4 volumes of guest books to prove it. Packed on every page are drawings, messages of goodwill, and touching expressions of friendship spanning every continent and country, often written in the language of the visitor.

In the store’s nascency, I brought in a Nokia* tablet to use, but eventually we needed full-powered computer and replaced the tablet with a 21’ iMac. Our music continues to be piped out onto the sidewalk with a UE Boom* that it has been in use nearly every day for the past 3 and a half years and is still going strong! We have a WeMo* camera for security, and our Verizon service has even rescued us when our credit card terminal service was down by enabling us to use Square to process transactions. This is all to say, for a very low tech-looking, laid-back beach store, we depend on technology to keep the wheels turning each day.

It’s gratifying that beside that fact that we offer a valuable service, our business provides so much joy to our visitors. Most people enjoy the friendly vibe where we take time to learn where people are from and what brings them to Alki. Each day we have customers hug us as they’re leaving. How many businesses can say that? And many exchange a conspiratorial wink with us when they introduce new people to our store. They whisper, “Are you going to do the ‘horn,’” which is actually the blowing of a conch shell and shouting of “mahalo” as customers depart.

Seafair Pirates © 2015 Terri Nakamura.jpg

We’re in the midst of our busy summer season and look forward to some fun upcoming 2018 events:

Beside the special events above, on an everyday basis there are things happening — Saturday salsa dancing, volleyball tournaments, beach parties at the fire pits, paddle boarding, bicycle rentals, and happy people everywhere.

Looking out at the view from our store and seeing the Olympic mountains and Puget Sound, we are reminded that life is better on a beach.


 

We’re grateful to our real-life and social media friends from Twitter and IG who have visited Alki Surf Shop. If you’ve visited the store please let me know so I can add your moniker here!

@queenhorsfall @jackandpele @muz4now @lorimcneeartist @jenniferannegood @nixkuroi @felicelam @blueweed_songs @becauseuarehere @savvyangie @kurt.nac @Joe996s @sheelala @lemness @wasian206 @dougplummer @michipeterson @lindacriddle @kennapete @lindafreeman_ @jshuey @thidekow @ryankanemagic @vickiehorsfall @freshprinceofmi @crimsonlotustea @x2tap @jrome2032 @hollymariephotos @slydehandboards @feliciakayne @artistpoint @mikedadams206 @horsfallscott @georgesta3000 @PutBarber @lupdesign @lindabrill


More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

*Verizon generously provided us with technology used at our store.

 

Me and My Pixels

Some of you know I’m an Instagram fan, and try to post a photo daily. I love Instagram for the variety of images I see every day and that it allows me a place for self-expression.

I’ve been shooting with a Google Pixel2 and a Verizon Google Pixel 2XL for quite a while now. I have to say after being a devoted iPhone user since the beginning, I now think Android is a piece of cake, but more importantly, I am in love with both Pixels.

It’s not just the ease of using an Android. Once you get the gist of how they work, it’s pretty easy to figure out any of them!

So ease of use is important. Service quality is important, too. I’ve mentioned numerous times we have a house near Mount Rainier that is listed on AirBNB, and Verizon is still the most reliable service out there.

But the cameras on these two devices! Wow. They’re amazing. They capture such minute detail that often I’ll shoot something then blow it way up and crop a tiny part of it to post, still maintaining incredible details.

This week I stopped by my mechanic, CarTender, on Capitol Hill. Paolo, one of the guys who works there, told me he bought a Pixel 2 BECAUSE of my INSTAGRAM PHOTOS! Wow!

So I’m sharing a few of the photos I’ve shot this month. From the top down, are:

  • Peonies from my sister’s garden
  • A view of the Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle
  • Wild roses from my garden
  • Basketball scrimmage after school
  • The “Eraser” sculpture at the Seattle Center
  • Weird graphic asphalt lines leading to the Museum of Pop Culture
  • A view of the Madrona Bathhouse on Lake Washington
  • The view from the end of the bar at 13 Coins in Pioneer Square
  • Plants reaching for the sky
  • A shed in Madrona with a pretty patina
  • Glimmering city of Bellevue seen from Madrona at Lake Washington
  • Happy sunflowers!
  • The first Amazon Bookstore, located in the University Village of Seattle
  • Century Link Tower seen through a gap in a grate
  • A tree before it budded
  • Expressive clouds seen from the Montlake Bridge

I’ve posted more than 16,000 photos on my Instagram account. As an early adopter, I went crazy at first, sometimes sharing a dozen or more pictures a day. Now, usually just one a day, although sometimes I skip.

I’d love to have you check out my photos. If you follow me there, post a comment to let me know, and I’ll follow back! And if you see the photos I’ve previewed below, you’ll usually find a more complete description on Instagram

Thank you for looking! And remember: #BetterMatters

29 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -28 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -24 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -23 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -21 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -19 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -14 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -13 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -12 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -10 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -9 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -8 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -4 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -3 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -2 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -1 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -

More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

Mind Officially Blown at #CES2018

c2a9-terrinakamura-2018-ces.jpgLast month I was invited by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to attend the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV. It was my first-ever experience at CES, and I had the honor of attending as a Key Online Influencer. My badge was met by curiosity as well as respect. I was given a press credential that was a special all-access pass to all of the various venues, and I was also able to use areas reserved for journalists, bloggers and major media from all over the world. I met inventors, CEOs, educators, international executives, journalists, geeks, and all manner of people who were working the showroom floors. It was incredibly exciting!

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My donut and Google Mini outside the Google Donut Shop #CES2018

I spent the first day wandering around in a surreal haze of light, sound, motion and colors, with electronic eye candy in every direction. My real-life friends and family know I lack an internal gyroscope, so it wasn’t surprising that it took me two days to get a good handle on where things were. I can’t adequately describe how huge CES is. And it’s not limited to the Las Vegas Convention Center — there are CES events taking place in hotels and other venues all up and down the Las Vegas strip. Some of the things I saw and experienced were so amazing, there were times I simply wanted to share with someone! Like the moment I went into the Google Donut Shop and won a Google Home Mini, I had to call Reg Saddler @zaibatsu immediately!

There were amazing displays of OLED screens (like the one shown in the video below), phones, cameras, drones, robots, speakers, VR (virtual reality) headsets, and AI (artificial intelligence) integrated into everything from cars to personal assistants, games and more. There were accessories for everything, including accessories for your accessories. There were phone cases, and stuff to clean your phone cases or stuff to protect screens before you put your device into a case, and beautiful and utilitarian gadgets for every imaginable purpose. There were drones, bicycles, motorcycles, and there were cars, cars, CARS. I had no idea the huge role cars would play at CES.

I became interested in autonomous vehicles and spent a lot of time talking with various chip designers about self-driving vehicles, which, up until that point, weren’t of serious interest to me. But after CES, I was ready to roll. Almost. A friend, Doug Dobbins @takesontech, was arranging to have me picked up by a self-driving BMW. Um…wait. Did you say 7:30 AM? It was tempting, but I didn’t know what I’d do once I arrived at CES and had to wait an hour and a half for the convention center to open. Probably I blew it when I said no, but something tells me I’ll have another chance to ride in a self-driving vehicle one day.

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This is a cool looking plexiglass model by Intel, showing the placement of dozens of sensors (represented by the aqua colored lights) that gather data from all directions to protect passengers in autonomous vehicles.

I’d like to explain something I didn’t understand about self-driving vehicles: They aren’t simply cars that drive around by themselves using a GPS. There are dozens of sensors located around, in, on, and under the car. And at all times the sensors perceive data: objects, traffic, people, motion, proximity, speed and other factors. Now stop for a moment and think about getting that phone call from your office, informing you of an urgent matter. Even hands-free, can you be sure you are not in the least bit distracted? Autonomous vehicles are always tuned in. I now feel accepting of the idea that an autonomous vehicle might, in some ways, be safer than one driven by a person!

Over the course of five days, and even being surrounded by all sorts of connected devices, I was naturally worried about running out of phone power. So I used both my Verizon MotoZ and Pixel2 to shoot most of the photos and videos posted here and elsewhere on my personal and workplace Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and elsewhere. The Motorola has a battery “mod” by Tumi, and basically was impossible to run out of juice. And thankfully, I found super connectivity in all parts of Las Vegas.

I’ve never been personally impressed by robots. I’ve seen them all my life on television, in cartoons and sci-fi films, and I know robots have changed our world forever and will continue to do so. CES was the first time I had a close-up experience. I was singularly UNimpressed by the robot that straightens up a messy room. Each action took so long, I wanted to jump over the barrier and show the robot I could perform its tasks in milliseconds. But these robots are like children—sometimes you need to stand back and just let things happen.

There were coding robots I thought were amazing, fun and cool. Children are so quick to grasp coding through the understanding of programming a robot, and there were all levels of robots, from small spheres to forms with articulated arms, legs, pincers and artificial faces. And I made contacts that could be useful to my workplace, UPrep.

Kitty Robot at CES2018 © terrinakamura

Cute kitty-faced Robot #Sanbot at CES 2018

Not all of the things you see at CES are done deals. There were concept vehicles and machines, like the Laundroid robot, that folds and catalogs your laundry (not ready for prime time) but also massage chairs, 3D images created with emitted light, medical gadgets, smart assistants and VR make-up applications where you could see what you would look like with blue eye shadow. There was even an autonomous helicopter…which didn’t inspire the same confidence I felt about self-driving cars. While most things on display are actually in production, some were conceptual and showing us what we might expect in the future. There was a hall devoted to CES innovation award winners, which included some of the most successful new design and engineering inventions of the past year.

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I saw this beautiful, light-weight, foldable electric scooter at #CES2018. It had hub-less wheels! #Ujet

CES has been around for 51 years. My real-life friend, Marsha Collier @MarshaCollier has been going for two decades. I really only became aware of it in 2008 when I would read about friends and acquaintances on Twitter who were making the trek to Las Vegas. Like SXSW, it sounded so cool. But I lacked the self-confidence to venture into such an alien world alone and didn’t know anyone well enough to buddy up. Having gone to this incredible show and spending 5 days by myself, I urge anyone to go and explore. If I can do it, YOU can, too!

Undoubtedly you find yourself meeting a lot of interesting people you would never otherwise meet. Curiosity and common interests make for easy and fun conversations. I wandered into the Gibson venue and was so glad I did. For days I could “HEAR” it from far away and didn’t know what was waiting inside until I walked in. I’m glad I saved it for my final day.

There were so many opportunities to take photos and was glad I had great devices to back me up. I especially appreciated Travis Ames, the drone rep at Uvify who allowed me to film with my hands just beyond the protective netting. And guys, I apologize for the vertical video. Ugh. I can’t stand watching them but I was kind of excited and wasn’t thinking clearly.

If you’ve never attended CES, or even if you’re not a technology geek, don’t let that stop you from going. There is literally something for everyone at the Consumer Electronics Show, whether you’re a hobbyist, aficionado of large or small screens, a music fan, a gamer, or simply curious to see what all the hubbub is about. I learned so much. If you enjoy learning, you will love CES!

I hope some day you have a chance to go to Las Vegas and experience CES. If you decide to go, book your hotel early. By the time I started looking, about a month before the show, it freaked me out. Everything nearby was booked or insanely inexpensive—like $800 a night! Luckily I found a great AirBNB about 20 minutes away, and was even able to convince the host to drive me to and pick me up after the show each day, all for about $450 total, for five days/four nights.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to CTA (Thanks, Erica Corley!) for making the entire experience possible for me, and Richard Kassissieh @kassissieh, the assistant head of school for academics and strategic planning at University Prep in Seattle, who recognized the honor and value of the CES experience, and supported my participation.

Thanks to them, and thanks for reading! I’d love to know if you’ve visited CES, or would like to some day!


More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

Terri on The Medium

Holiday Gifts for the Techie in Your Life

The past few weeks have afforded me opportunities to connect with friends, old and new, in real life. For a social media aficionado, there’s something special about getting to meet the people behind the half-inch avatars we encounter on Twitter.

It was great to see Suzanne Kantra @Techlicious, Megan Wristen @MeaganWristen, Josh Kirschner @joshkirschner, Terumi Johnson @helloterumi and see other familiar faces at the CTA Seattle Technology Event produced by the team at Techlicious.

But what was even more cool was to get a hands-on opportunity to check out some of the most popular tech gift ideas for the coming holidays. It was fun to take a retrospective look at what was popular in 1997 and 2017…like, “VCR*?” Remember them?

CTA RESEARCH 1997CTA RESEARCH 2007

It made me wonder how the 2017 top of the list will look in 2027?

CTA TOP TECH 2017

Personally, I enjoyed using the TREKZ Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones. The name sounds weird, but they work great! The product design is unusual, but the proof was in using them. The sound quality is rich, and because they sit outside my ears, which again sounds odd, they allow me to be aware of what’s going on around me. They were originally developed as a sports headphone, and would be a terrific gift to use while running or working out.

Another cool and affordable item was the iHome | Control wifi-outdoor smart plug, which works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. I don’t have my lights up yet, but it will be great to be able to control them remotely, and after the holidays, other appliances using my iPhone. “Hey Siri? Turn on the lights!”

There was a great variety of products on display. I took some photos of a few of them and loved learning about them.

Top, left to right: Ecouvacs DEEBOT 995 (it vacuums and mops your floors) ,a fun fashion Fitbit bracelet and Fitbit Ionic health trackers, Middle, left to right:  Lily Next-Gen Pro (drone), Play Impossible game ball, that takes digital action indoors and out, Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus, Bottom, left to right: another shot of the VR headset, Amazon Echo Plus hand free smart hub, and the Lenovo Tab 4 10 (tablet for the family),

With so many amazing products out there, I’m trying to decide what I’m going to buy for Christmas this year!

Good luck with your holiday shopping!

If you’re interested in any of the products here, just click the link to find out more, or contact Danielle Cassagnol, CTA: DCassagnol@cta.tech (email) @ConsumerTechnologyAssociation (Twitter).


*VCR = Video cassette recorder

More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

Holiday Madness to Gladness

christmas-decorations

What would you say to making holiday gift exchanges a pain free, sure thing ?

Every year our family members shop brick and mortar stores, and scour the Internet to find gifts for each other. We often email wish lists with ideas, and to make it mistake-proof, sometimes there are even links going to the exact item! (I’ve been guilty of this.)

Most often, the same list goes to everyone in the family, so if we don’t check with each other, it’s not unusual for two people to buy the same gift for someone. Duplicates have been re-gifted, returned or traded, but inevitably, everyone smiles and says thanks!

There is at least one person who doesn’t believe in gift lists and buys whatever feels right, regardless of whether someone wants it or not. And at least there’s no chance of duplicates!

For a couple of years I’ve been wanting to try an experiment during the holidays. It’s really a pretty flexible, and potentially stress-free strategy.

I have the best family. Six months ago I asked them to try an experiment for our holiday gift exchange, and this is the year everyone is on board!

The experiment  🙂

Instead of sending out lists of things we want, each person is simply in charge of buying their own presents this year. Each present we buy ourselves will be designated as a gift from another family member. Family members will have no idea what they are “giving.”

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For example, I could buy myself a new LG K8V smart phone and wrap it up as a gift from my husband, David. He knows I love technology and gadgets, but he is a self-avowed neo-Luddite and wouldn’t know which features matter to me or what phone I’d want. But if I know I want an LG K8V and I buy it, when I open my gift from David, he will be surprised, and I end up with a perfect present!

For David, it might be a load of lumber to build a new basement stairway at our vacation home. I don’t know a thing about treads and risers, but HE does!

Do you see how this can work?

In all cases, there will still be an element of surprise because no one knows what they are giving to the other recipients. It might even provide insight into the things some of us really like. AND, all clothing will fit; there will be no unwanted duplicates, and whatever a person’s budget is, it will work! Furthermore, we end up buying the same number of presents as usual…or maybe even fewer.

My brother, a retired Sr. Technical Fellow for Boeing, asked, “Can we buy one gift and make it from everyone?”

AND OF COURSE, THAT WORKS!

If you’ve been wanting a big-screen television, or a computer, you can buy it and make it a gift from the whole family. One-stop shopping and you get something you really want and need.

Or maybe you are tired of getting “stuff” and are trying to purge things instead of acquire more possessions? You can buy a bottle of your favorite nail polish, a pound of your favorite coffee, or a new supply of socks or underwear. You get the idea — maybe kind of unglamorous stuff, but things you really want, need and will happily use.

If the thing you love about gift exchanges is the look of surprise on someone’s face, just remember, it can still happen. It’s just that the look of surprise is on “your” face when you see what you’ve given someone!

So, what do you think? Is this a hair-brained idea or a stroke of brilliance? I’ll report back with the results of our experiment whether it’s a success or a bust!

Meanwhile, U.S. residents who leave a response to this post by December 12, 2016, will be eligible to win a new Verizon Smartphone: the LG K8V— a beautiful Android device with a ton of amazing features, including a large 5” HD display, a hands-free “selfie” feature, an SD-slot and removable battery. And it’s a good traveler since it works in more than 200 countries. I’ve been impressed with LG for its amazing color quality, quick charging and ease of use.terri-nakamura-lg-k8v

The winning comment will be chosen by one of my cats. The selection will be posted here, and you’ll need to check to see if you’ve won. I’ll give the winner 2 days to get in touch with me to provide me with mailing information. If I don’t hear from him/her, I’ll move to the next in line.

Who knows? You could end up with your own Christmas gift, courtesy of Verizon 🙂 


 12/12/16 — THE WINNER OF THE LG K8V can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqltzLOQsas
Please contact me with your mailing address!

Seattle’s Homeless: Building Communities

Homeless in Seattle

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Over the course of the past six months I’ve watched a homeless encampment sprout and take over a strip of land along Airport Way S., on the edge of Chinatown in Seattle.

I’d been tempted to stop and check it out, but felt wary. Unlike the nearby Nickelsville encampment, which appeared to be orderly and governed, Airport Way S., looked scarier.

On my way to work one sunny day in late summer, through my open window, I heard live music coming from the camp, and decided to pull over and park.

Three visiting pastors from S. Carolina and Kenya were leading a youth group who came to minister, distribute clothes and entertain the people living in the camp.

They were happy to talk:

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Volunteers minister to homeless

After interviewing the volunteers, I wandered between tents, parked vehicles and makeshift structures, and came upon a three-sided tent where a few people were sitting around a table. I thought they might be “in charge,” but they were inhabitants. One man was coloring in a coloring book; a woman was industriously rolling cigarettes, (which she was selling to others in the camp); and a third was a young man who had been on the road for a while and found himself in Seattle with no means to live. Here’s our conversation:

terri-nakamura-jaster-of-the-cheshire-airport-way-seattle-20160910_145659JC: I’ve been here 7 days and I’m a traveler.

TN: So how did you even find this place [homeless encampment]?

JC: It’s not hard when you’ve been on the streets as long as I have. You find places like this relatively easily.

TN: So how long have you been on the streets?

JC: Since before Katrina. I left one year before Katrina and I haven’t been back since. I was supposed to be there but I came here for a friend. If I had a forge and foundry, I wouldn’t be here.

TN: So you’re a metal worker?

JC: I’m a blacksmith, yes. I generally end up making weapons, chain mail, hell, if I had a bunch of coat hangers, I could make something right now. And I can could pack that b1tch out custom. All I need to do is get their measurements.

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TN: That’s quite an operation you have there (talking to a woman making cigarettes) they look quite professional

JC: I love those little packers. I had a small one once.

[Guy comes up to buy cigarettes and talks to the woman. There are 20 in a pack. He’ll come back for two packs.]

TN:  (to the woman) So, how long have you been here?

Woman: I’ve been here three weeks.

TN: This place wasn’t here a couple of months ago.

Woman: It’s probably because people get pushed out of certain areas. And then they get pushed into another place. This is kind of what happened.  I’ve seen it before. Make a community, make a family.

TN: Someone comes along and says, “OK you guys can’t stay here anymore,” — then what happens? How do you find a new place?

JC: Day by day we look and we see little things. Like I know of about 50 sleep spots that I could  use and no one would ever see me.

TN: You’ve been in Seattle seven days and you know of 50 sleep spots? That’s pretty amazing.

JC: It’s not hard. Walking around, you see ’em. I’ve been in this life for a while.

TN: You don’t seem very old.

JC: I know I don’t. I’m actually not that old. I’m 20.

Woman: I’m 27.

TN: You guys both look young.

JC: My name is Jaster of the Cheshire. Don’t ask me how to spell Cheshire.

TN: You sound like a Game of Thrones character. 

JC: I like to make things with my hands. I like to work on my own. I don’t work well with some people who mess with the creole boy. Oh he1l, no. I’m a crazy Louisiana boy.

TN: You don’t have a southern accent.

JC: Because that’s how long I’ve been away from home. The only time my southern comes out is when I’m angry. Or drunk. I drink on someone’s birthday or when someone dies. 

That’s a good way to grieve. I want to send my friend off and i want him to know I’m smiling and enjoying myself, knowing one day I’ll join him, wherever in the he1l we’re going.

TN: Well, I wish you the best of luck.

JC: I wish you luck, too.

TN: Thank you. Everybody needs some luck.

JC: We do. It helps us through everything we do every day. Lady Luck can sometimes be a cruel mistress.

Homelessness can be the result of many causes, including drug addiction, untreated/undiagnosed mental health issues, domestic violence, and tragic life events like death of a loved one, job loss, and family disputes.

Natural disasters or the elimination of options due to financial stress are other causes. It’s possible to be living a normal life until circumstances drastically change.

A friend found himself in several of the conditions above, and became homeless. I wanted to talk with him about his journey, but during the process of searching for him, I discovered he had died. There are people all around us who, as a result of some bad luck and lack of support, find themselves in his shoes.

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A border around a 10′ x 10′ plot of dirt was being reserved for “Redd.”

Homelessness is a concern to almost everyone in this city. On a neighborhood blog, I read a thread about homeless people camping in greenbelts, and the huge amount of trash they generate and leave behind. People had concerns about health, safety and how homeless encampments can negatively impact a neighborhood.

One idea was to create an area for homeless people to stay or camp, where restrooms and facilities for washing or bathing and disposing garbage are made available. One person likened homeless people to unwanted pets that have become too burdensome to maintain, then released in the wild.

Despite studies, meetings and participation by community organizations, there has yet to be a permanent solution.

Should Seattle make itself a hostile environment for homeless people?

Are urban campgrounds the answer?

Homelessness is a vexing problem here. Our city government is spending  time and money to identify a solution, and other groups are also working toward an answer.

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Tent City Collective has an objective: To mobilize, educate and unite students and people experiencing homelessness in order to end the many inequities that perpetuate homelessness.

It’s a lofty goal. But when the warmth and sunshine of summer gives way to the cold and rain of fall and winter, the solution can’t come fast enough.

I’ve gone back to visit the Airport Way S. camp twice more. It still looks scary, but the people living there are not. They arrived for all kinds of reasons, and they are bonded by their circumstances.

Those living there hang onto the community they’ve created. And when they’re forced to move, they will start again. The cycle will repeat itself until we find an answer.

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A miserable place to exist


Domestic violence is one of the major causes of homelessness.Verizon Wireless supports Hopeline, where donated phones are then turned into valuable resources for nonprofit organizations and agencies that support domestic violence victims and survivors nationwide.

The video and photos in this post were shot using a Samsung Galaxy S7, provided by Verizon Wireless.

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