Friday, February 12, 2016


D.M.K. (Dunbar,Merrill,Karl) is a relatively new rock band composed of singer Scott Dunbar, guitarist Ted Merrill, and drummer Brian Karl, often with bassist Percy Trayanov.

Drummer Brian Karl, Bassist Percy Trayanov,
me, Vocalist Scott Dunbar (from left to right)
 I had the privilege of watching D.M.K. perform last October in Baltimore, Maryland. The energy in the room was through the roof. Unfortunately, it wasn't a packed event, but with the high level of excitement, it was easy to believe it was. Guitarist Ted Merrill is a local Marylander, so that only added to the excitement in the room. In addition to the vivacious audience, the passion and love of music held by the band was unmistakable. Vocalist Scott Dunbar showed more love for his band, supporters, and fellow musicians than I've seen in a while. It is clear he is living his dream and doing what he loves most. Combine Dunbar's spirit with the talented work of the instrumentalists and you get a memorable show with a great band.

Check out their Facebook here, and look for them on iTunes!
D.M.K. performing at Baltimore Soundstage on Oct 25, 2015
For those of you wishing to see D.M.K. perform live for yourselves, you're in luck! Here are their upcoming tour dates, with more constantly being added, so be on the lookout for them. 
2/20/16 with Tester at the Tavern in Framingham, MA
3/3/16 with Y&T at Soundstage in Baltimore, MD
3/11/16 at Gussy's in Astoria, NY
3/25/16 with Danger Danger at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ
4/15/16 with Enuff 'Z Nuff at Elmhurst, NY

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sea-less Surfing

Technology is always evolving; we see it in our smartphones, our electric cars, and our tablet laptop hybrid concoctions. But it's not just our cool toys that are developing technologically, our environment is too. Large ponds that are actually wave pools are popping up with man-made waves big enough to surf. This advancement will not only change the rules of the surf, but could go on to change the Olympics in time for Tokyo in 2020. 

There are three important positions that can be taken when exploring this new trend - technological, business, and the surfer. 
Wave pools are a popular attraction at many theme parks and have been for many years. However, now there is the capability of creating actual ocean-like waves, with no time for flat-spells, constantly and consistently - two things you're not likely to get in the real ocean. Each wave only takes about 90 seconds, so there's plenty of time for plenty of rides. Four major technology companies in this area currently are set to compete for head title of this new sensation within the next two years. Surf Snowdonia and Wavegarden currently lead the pack. 
In August, Surf Snowdonia opened to the public bringing about the reality of this being a serious business venture. They almost reached their maximum capacity every day it was opened for the first two weeks. Drawing in $30-70 a surfer, it shouldn't take long to profit off of the $7 million expense to build the creation. Once they perfect the barrel wave technology, profits and customers will only increase. Another park is planned to open next year in Austin, Texas. 
This idea definitely draws in surfing fans from around the world. It' a great way to learn how to surf for beginners, yet provides constant waves for pros. However, it isn't the ocean. It lacks the saltiness of the sea, the marine life, and the overall depth and danger associated with riding a huge wave in the middle of the ocean, far from land. Paul Evans, editor of Surf Europe Magazine, for example, is not at all excited about the idea of a perfect wave pool. 

What Evans and the article seem to overlook is the fact this could very well be game changing for the world's view on surfing as a sport, as well as giving new hope to land-locked people. With this technology, waves are always available, making it now eligible to be an Olympic sport. People who have always wanted to try to surf yet live nowhere near the water's edge now have the opportunity to learn and try to surf, almost quite literally in their own backyard. This technology has opened up the world of surfing to the entire world. 

Wave creating and wave riding technology has been previously introduced by many parks, but neither have quite perfected it. Thanks to Wavegarden and Surf Snowdonia, we are closer than ever before.

*This post was originally published on my Info System class's blog

Thursday, December 10, 2015

SkyTruth leads to SeaTruth

Image from Wall Street Journal via Google Images

Illegal fishing, sometimes referred to as pirate fishing, is a huge problem throughout the world, but with new satellite technology, it is becoming easier to catch these criminals at sea. SkyTruth has come up with a way to determine if vessels tracked via satellite are illegally hunting fish.

Image from via Google Images
National Geographic gives readers an insight on the history of SkyTruth, the technology behind it, and the limits or problems the technology currently faces.
In 2012, SkyTruth used satellites and radar to find the ship responsible for an oil spill off Angola by noticing a white dot at the end of a black stretch on the images. Eventually they realized they could use this same detection system to look for pirate fishermen, and teamed up with Pew Charitable Trusts to help. This partnership ended up involving Google and Oceana as well, creating a website called Global Fishing Watch, allowing advocacy groups, fisheries, and governments to view the same information as SkyTruth.
This data is made available because of the Automatic Identification System, or the GPS used by the ships. Originally, this data was intended just so ships wouldn't run into each other or could help vessels in danger. SkyTruth figured out the normal patterns of a ship's movement and can therefore now determine what a given vessel is up to - including illegal fishing.
Unfortunately, there are some loopholes. Some vessels only send up a signal when they are halfway through their voyage, and some transfer their illegally caught fish to other vessels. Some avoid the Automatic Identification System completely! These activities limit the complete accuracy of Global Fishing Watch and allow some ships to slip under the radar. Because of this, SkyTruth is now working on an even more advanced tracking system, a "vessel story", similar to a credit card log. Until then, they are still advancing the Global Fishing Watch website, and hope to make some of its information available to the public in the future.

The article also mentions drones are being used to also collect data and track illegal fishermen, yet they never dive into the drone aspect. It also mentions the White House plans to do something about this, but doesn't mention what. That would be an interesting and informational addition to the already informative article.

According to National Geographic, 20-32% of the wild-caught seafood imported into the United States ends up coming from pirate fishermen. This makes the information relevant to readers; it's where a lot of seafood is coming from! To bring this attention to more readers, this should have also been developed a bit more so more people understand the importance of this issue. It provides a serious question to ponder as well. If illegal fishing stops or is no longer as common, will people in the United States still have the same amount of seafood available to them?

National Geographic Article

*I originally published this article on my Info System class's blog

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The2Tails Mermaid Tails

 Have you ever wanted to be a mermaid? Don't lie; I know you have. Or at least, you know someone who has. Still does even! Isn't it impossible? After all, at first glance, you do appear to be...a mere mortal...a human. With legs. Yuck, what good are they? All you want is a beautiful tail to help you swim in the sea. Well my dear, your wish has been granted.

 For a while, I searched near and far for affordable mermaid tails. I was fine with not necessarily buying one of my own, so long as I got to spend a day as a mermaid somewhere. Turns out, buying my own was actually the cheapest way to go! provides affordable, swimmable tails for all mermaid fans! They have a variety of sizes, from children to curvy adult. Oftentimes, they have sales and giveaways on their Facebook page as well.

Send in your pictures of you in their tails and you might even be featured on their sites!

Of course, the pictures weren't the only thing that interested me about my mermaid transformation (although, let's be honest, they played a major role). I am also a huge water baby, so getting in the water and swimming around was pretty much a must. As a child, you often swim like mermaids or dolphins, imagining what it'd be like to swim under the sea and live like that.
Thanks to the monofin-ed tails, that experience can be a reality. Like flippers, but together as one, the monofin provides powerful kicks to those who try it. It's really quite amazing. One kick can save so much energy and propel you so far, it's an amazing feeling. But be careful, though helpful, they are not a magical device that can make the non-swimmers professional. If you cannot swim, DO NOT try swimming in your fin as it will only be more difficult for you and could end in disaster.

*Photographs taken by Helios Photography

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cruising on the Wi-Fi Waves

Smartphones, smart watches, smart boards, now smart ships. Cruise ships, that is. For any of you who have previous traveled aboard a vessel of the sea, you know the struggles of on-board internet. Super slow speeds, practically dial-up, on the few computers in the "library" room keep ships stuck in the late 20th century. Well, not anymore. Royal Caribbean has announced their new SmartShips and Carnival has announced their new "Got Wifi?" campaign, with other cruise lines quickly following the fleets.
Fortune magazine does a good job of mentioning three key points to this new innovation incorporated into the ships - a step toward the future, new customer opportunities, and customer satisfaction. Faster wi-fi is the key to these upcoming successes in the cruising industry. "O3b Networks, a company that provides ship-to-shore communication systems, started working with Royal Caribbean back in 2011 to upgrade its internet connections. It developed a new type of high-throughput satellite which quadrupled connection speeds, according to Steve Collar, O3b’s CEO". These new speeds transport cruising from a pre-connected time into the current era. Because of the new internet availability found on board, businesses can now take their business conferences, training, and other trips via cruise ships without losing connection to the business world they need to stay connected with while on the trip. Whether this be via internet communications or simply business workers working on the vacation, it means many new customers for cruise lines. But business workers aren't the only new clients gained; millennials that can't seem to be separated from their connections can now stay connected while cruising, opening a whole new world to them.  With wi-fi so readily available now, people stay connected to social media, posting and sharing how much they're loving their cruise-cation, thereby promoting the cruising company and expanding their customers in that aspect as well. After a few trials of the new wi-fi systems were imposed, customer satisfaction jumped 50% because of the connections now available. Such improvement shows wi-fi is a strongly desired aspect of life nowadays, and now not only is it readily accessible from the seas, but the accessibility and connectivity are ever expanding and increasing to support the high demand of the quick-paced connected world we live in.
Unfortunately, the Fortune article fails to mention the losses this new implementation brings forth. It also focuses only on the wi-fi aspect although it is clear more advanced technologies are involved in the new smart ships emerging.
While it is true that this is a major step for cruise lines and cruise-goers, the importance of escaping the prison of a strong cellular or internet connection shouldn't be given up so easily. The world is full of natural beauty, and cruises are certainly a great way to get to experience a lot of that beauty, but if your nose is in your phone 24/7, why bother going on a cruise when you could do the same thing from home?

Fortune Article

*I originally posted this article on my Info Systems class blog;

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Elephant Pants

With the holidays quickly approaching, everyone is scrambling around trying to find the perfect gift. Well, look no further! The Elephant Pants makes the perfect gift for anyone! A portion of all sales made through the clickable link (just click on the top or bottom pictures or "The Elephant Pants" in the previous sentence) go to the African Wildlife Foundation to help raise awareness to elephant poaching and attempt to prevent it. When you order the Elephant Pants, you are helping to save the lives of many African elephants.

So far, $143,419 has been donated to the African Wildlife Foundation through purchases made by customers. They also are very supportive of other causes as well; for Anti-Bullying week they had an anti-bullying campaign completed by the many ambassadors and workers of the company. They've also teamed up with Hmong Hill bags in support of education in third world countries. The Elephant Pants is truly a company that cares about many charitable causes and does it's best to help others.

You don't want harem pants? No problem! The Elephant Pants also sells tapestries, bags, rompers, shorts, shirts, and leggings! Portions of ALL sales, not just pant sales, go to the African Wildlife Foundation! Some items even help other causes as well. In October, a portion Ruby and other red pants went to breast cancer research, for example.

If you're stuck on what to get someone for the holidays, browse The Elephant Pants before you freak out anymore.
Oh, and tell your friends.

PS. Sizes come Standard, Large, and Children's so that's one less thing to worry about!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Suzanna Linton Guest Post

"Quitting My Day Job to Live the Dream"

In one of the few romantic comedies I enjoy, When Harry Met Sally, Harry (Billy Crystal) says to Sally (Meg Ryan), “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

That pretty much sums up my decision to leave my day job and write full time, with me as Harry and my writing as Sally. However, this is a blog post, so maybe I should elaborate.

My day job was working part-time as a library assistant for the Reference Department of my local library. My job consisted in helping people sign into their email, answer phone calls, and research some of the most random questions in the history of man. And, every now again, I looked up a book.

From a writer’s standpoint, it was a dream job. I only worked half a day, leaving me entire afternoons or mornings to write, and when I did work, I had a front row seat to human nature. (Seriously, the best way to know someone’s true nature is to see how they treat their waiter. Or, the library assistant at the Reference Desk.)

However, as time went by, I grew increasingly discontent. It was a mix of not being suited for customer service work and office politics which often left me on the firing range no matter what I did.

In my writing life, I was trying to get an agent or publisher to take notice of Clara and having zero luck. So, in a fit of frustration, I designed a cover, formatted the manuscript, and published it on Smashwords. Then I started learning what being an independent author was all about. I discovered I had, essentially, jumped into the middle of the major battle of a role-playing video game without knowing how the controls worked.

As I scrambled through a crash course on author platforms, things at work continued to deteriorate, not only with the public but also with my fellow coworkers. My panic attacks and bouts of depression, though lessening in frequency and magnitude thanks to medication and therapy, led to misunderstandings and missed work. A change needed to happen.

One Friday last year, I managed to offend the same coworker for the third week in a row. As I sat at the desk with the tension between us charged enough to set hair on fire, I thought to myself, “I could be writing a blog post right now. I could be promoting Clara. I could be doing any number of things I need to be doing if this whole indie author thing is going to work. Hell, I could be reading and it would be better time spent than this.”

It was my “Harry” moment. I realized that I wasn’t going to get any better at customer service and it probably didn’t matter that we were getting a new library director. Even if things turned sunny and I was given a position away from the Reference Desk (something I had been trying to do for months), I would still be discontent because I would not be doing what I was meant to do. And, perhaps, that discontent was part of the root of my problems with depression and anxiety.

On that following Monday, I put in my notice.

Eight months later, I'm still doing what I love. The rest of my life has started. And, I find myself to be a very different person and very different writer.

Firstly, I'm more confident. When working at the library, I was never sure if what I was saying would be taken well or what sort of person was about to call or approach the desk. But doing what I love and what I know I'm good at, I feel more confident about what I'm doing. I feel more sure. I rarely have panic attacks and haven't had a severe case of depression in months.

Secondly, I'm more committed. When I worked at the library, I couldn't wait until the next break or the moment I could go home. However, now, my husband has to threaten to take my phone or laptop away from me. I love what I'm doing, so I look forward to getting to work in the morning and it's hard for me to leave it at night.

Finally, I'm more serious about my writing. That's not to say I wasn't serious about it before but I have time now to act out that seriousness. I have the time to study writing, read books and articles, and practice through exercises or journaling. Beforehand, my days were taken up in working, housework, and other activities. What time I had for writing was limited.

Yes, there is a measure of uncertainty. Sometimes, I worry finances might force me back into the realm of the day job. Yes, sometimes I get depressed or a little anxious over a current project. But I still love it. I have a second novel out, Willows of Fate and I am so excited about it. I wouldn't change a thing.

The rest of my life has started. I am living the life of a writer. And that is enough.