Problem Solving Tool – Storified

Last week I was on a call about a tool that some colleagues and I are developing.  Basically, it’s something that we want everyone in our organization to be able to use to identify client problems and match them to solutions.  We’ve gone ’round and ’round with different ways that we can put this information together but it occurred to me that this would be a great place to use some storytelling.

We could create stories around client issues that would look a little bit like this:

Once upon a time there was a Federal organization.

Every day they operated as normal, in service of the American taxpayer.

One day, 30% of their workforce announced their retirement.  They would be leaving within the year.

Because of that, the organization had to scramble to address a multitude of problems that would arise when their workforce left and took their institutional knowledge with them.  They would need to:

  • Extract institutional knowledge from the retirees
  • Reorganize to do more with less
  • Hire replacements
  • On-board replacements
  • Train replacements
  • Plan better so this situation doesn’t happen again

And then HERE is where the tool comes in, the consultant would match the above list of problems to a set list of solutions.

Because of that, the sharp, young, consultants working for the organization recognized these problems and informed the client that they had answers!  The organization hired the consultants to help them solve their  problems.  And they all lived happily ever after…..

I’m hoping this idea goes over well with my team! I’ll keep you posted.


A Missed Connection

In one of my many first jobs out of college, I worked in a local jewelry store in a resort town. During the off-season, the days were painfully slow and I often kept myself entertained by checking out the missed connections section of Craigslist.  It’s a pretty interesting little corner of the internet, full of hopeful people wishing to connect with someone they only saw or barely met.  I found it best described as “an enormous anonymous echo chamber” by a writer for the New York Times.

Whilst perusing the missed connections section this week for a suitable piece for my DS106 audio assignment, I got curious about the whole concept of the site.  How many people are looking for others? Where are these connections being missed? Do any of these posts result in successful romances??  Obviously I had to google it.

I found this infographic about where missed connections are happening, nationally and who is posting about them.

Source: Psychology Today

Source: Psychology Today

As noted in the infographic, I found a lot of missed connections on the metro in the DC Metro area. (And for single friends that live in the South – Make fast to WALMART!!!)  I couldn’t find any evidence or statistics about the success of these missed connections but that’s not part of this assignment anyway.  I digress!

So I found a pretty great missed connection posting and I read it, enhanced it with some additional audio, and embedded it here for your enjoyment.  Since the missed connection takes place on the metro, I included audio of a train pulling into the station.  I also added a layer of skeevy background music for effect.  My microphone audio is less than ideal, but I unfortunately don’t have the tools   For the full text of the missed connection, see below.


I saw you this morning on the orange line metro (towards largo/new carrollton), you were beautiful. I got on at Dunn Loring and you were already on. You had red tinted hair and a tealish bag. You were short and fit. 

I never do this and I’m sure you’ll never see this but I wish I had said something.

Tell me what stop you got off at if you see this.



A Day on the Farm

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, we’re playing with sound this week in DS106.  For this assignment, I needed to come up with a story and tell it using just sounds.  I’m not sure exactly how I was inspired but I decided that farm noises would be a good base for a quaint little story.

I found some great farm sounds on  The site made it really easy to search and find what I was looking for although I did have to sift through some recordings of humans making animal sounds to get to the good real animal noises.  That was weird.  I was tempted to use the recording of the random guy bleating like a goat but decided against it.  A couple of sounds and a few Audacity YouTube tutorials later and I was well on my way to creating my story about a day on the farm.  Using Audacity was easier than I thought it would be once I learned a few of the basics.  Below is a screen capture of my work in progress. This only shows a few of the tracks but gives you an idea of how I layered them and spaced them out over time.  I used copy/paste to repeat sounds that I thought were too short. I also used the fade in and fade out effects to give the effect of closeness as well as for the sake of blending.

Here’s a screen shot of my handiwork:Image

So this is a story of a day on the farm.  There’s a farm “chatter”, let’s call it, that runs throughout the track.  You’ll hear the chickens pipe up early on to start the day, then there’s the occasional cow and goat that make themselves known as they go about their business on the farm.  Then, the farmer goes by on his tractor.  After a long day’s work, you’ll hear the farmer relaxing in a rockin’ chair on the front porch, drinking his sweet tea.

And here’s the result ( I went over the 90 sec. time limit for this, but I got carried away…)


DS106 has kicked off some adventures in audio this week.  I don’t have a lot of experience with audio editing so this should be interesting.  I’ve got my SoundCloud account set-up  and I’m starting my first assignment on Tuesday evening so I’m already feeling like I can’t lose.  I’ve never heard of SoundCloud before but I’m always game to try something new.

Here’s a sample of my first audio endeavor on SoundCloud.  I chose to give a little weather report since it’s on my mind given how drastically it’s changed in the last 36 hours.

I found SoundCould easy to use and easy to embed into this post.  I shouldn’t be surprised at how intuitive some of these tools are but I always am. Perhaps I’m just grateful! Tomorrow’s mission – figure out the audacity software so I can continue to tackle this week’s DS106 work one day at a time.

Week 3 Summary

When the announcement came out for this week’s content, I was pretty jazzed. I got a digital SLR camera for Christmas this year and I love playing with it and trying to learn how to make great photos.  in fact, I struggled with some of the assignments because my “startup disk” is full so programs kept shutting down on me!!)  Lucky for my the camera does a lot of the work but I know there is so much to learn!  I’ve definitely got the tips on how to be a better photographer bookmarked on my computer!  This week’s content has given me some tools to be a better photographer but has also inspired me to be a little more thoughtful about the story I want to tell when I take or share a photo.

I got to play with my coveted DSLR camera for the photoblitz assignment but I had a little trouble being creative with the 5 Card Flickr game.  I clearly had a favorite when it came to these two.

I did two assignments this week from the visual assignment bank.  I was intimidated by both but found some cool online tools and realized that they weren’t as complicated as I thought they were going to be.  It’s really true that “the answer lies in the Google.” A few quick searches and one YouTube video later I’m a photo editing pro.  I was able to give the Thomas Jefferson memorial a new home and told the story of a 10 year military career with one color splash.

Lastly, I came up with another idea for something that could benefit from a little storification, the Arlington trail information.

This was a great week of content and work and although it took me a while to get it done I am so glad that I did.


Trail Runner

Here’s another idea of something that would benefit from a little storification; information about running trails in Arlington.  My husband and I are big runners and when we first moved to the area we had trouble finding a single resource for trail information or one good map.   There are a few bike maps that publish information about the trails, but they are usually done at such a high level you don’t see all the tiny, street-side entrances that the only the folks in the neighborhood know about.  Really specific trail information is best found by word of mouth or trial and error.  I remember I found a cool new way to enter the Custis Trail while on a run club run, only to spend 30 minutes getting lost trying to find it again by myself.  I wonder if a resource where runners share information about their runs, and the trails they use, other’s would benefit from each other’s information.


I really enjoyed this assignment, to color splash a photo.  It was super simple in execution, so it made me think a little harder about the message I wanted to share through the use of the technique.  I used a website called Fotor to edit my image.  Before selecting my image, I went to the site to check out the tools and maybe play around with it. On the color splash section, there was a sample image of a bride and groom in black and white with the bride’s bouquet in a pop of color.  I was inspired – I’ll use a wedding photo!  At first I thought of doing something similar and highlighting my bouquet but I decided I could do a little better than that.  The photo I chose is of my husband’s jacket that is a part of his Army Dress Blue uniform.  It’s a gorgeous photo and in just a flash it captured 10 years worth of military accomplishments.  There are medals for completing Ranger School and Air Assault school, a Combat Action Badge for having served in combat, and various other medals earned at home or during his two tours overseas.  If you’re interested, you can take a look at some of the medals and what they mean here. This jacket tells the story of his entire military career and all the things he did in service to the United States.

Using the Fotor site was really easy.  I uploaded my image and it automatically turned the image to black and white and then I used a little tool to ‘rub off’ the black and white to expose color.  So easy to do but I think the result is powerful – at least to me anyway.  I feel that it draws well deserved attention to the hard earned medals from 10 years of service to our country.

Visual Assign 2


The NC-TJ-Memorial

I felt really intimidated by this assignment at first.  I’m not so good at photo or video editing software so while I was glad to get a little practice I was worried this assignment would take me a long time.  I used the Pixlr editor and after a few YouTube videos I had the hang of it.  The best trick I found was to open each image as an individual item in Pixlr, and then paste them all together.

I felt inspired by this week’s blooming of the Cherry Blossoms.  The base layer image here was taken last year on my iPhone while on a sunrise run down at the tidal basin.

Tidal Basin 2013

Tidal Basin 2013

The second image I used was from that same run – a shot of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial from across the way.  It had this really beautiful glow as the sun was coming up.  Surely old, TJ could use a new view!  I decided to see what it looked like floating in the basin so I pasted it in on top of the first image.  I used the lasso tool to select the memorial from the image, then I copy/pasted it onto the tidal basin layer.  I then used the eraser tool to clean up any rough edges.

T. Jefferson Memorial

T. Jefferson Memorial


The last photo I used is of the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign, found off of Hwy. 85 on the border of North Carolina and Virginia.  It’s my home state and I love get ridiculously excited whenever I see this sign. I wanted to show a little state pride!  I think Thomas Jefferson would appreciate the NC State flag waving from his memorial in the middle of the tidal basin….right?  This photo was taken on my daughter’s first trip down to North Carolina back in November.  I used the same process here to lift the flag from the sign as I did for the above image.

Welcome to North Carolina

Welcome to North Carolina


And the final result – kinda neat 🙂 Thomas Jefferson has a new view from across the tidal basin and he gets to show the world how much he loves North Carolina!

Visual Assign 1

TJ in the Basin Loves NC


A Codelson Photoblitz

This week was brutal at work but I finally made the time to do a little photo-blitzing on Friday afternoon.  The photos were taken at home during the precious 1 hour and 30 min. I get to spend with my daughter on weekdays between work and her bedtime.  You’ll see that she is the star of my photos and that my world clearly revolves around her.  I had taken a look at the list and written down a few ideas for some of the photos and thought I could wing the rest.  I was wrong – some of them were a lot harder than they looked! Also not sure I was at my creative best.  If my daughter isn’t in the photo she was riding along in my arms so I admit I was a bit distracted. Nonetheless it was a fun exercise to look at things differently in my own home.  Obviously, my favorite photo is the one that represents joy (my daughter smiling!) and my other favorite is the one that looks like her toys are talking to each other – that’s probably my most creative one.  I had lots of toys to choose from but I decided the doll and the circus monkey probably had the most to say 🙂

Here’s the original list of photos to take.  I scratched off the ones that I wasn’t able to get.  You can view the images in my gallery below.

  • Take a photo dominated by a single color.
  • Take a photo of an interesting shadow.
  • Take a photo of something futuristic.
  • Take a photo at an unusual angle, e.g. looking looking up at something or looking down at something, or from the view of an ant.
  • Take a photo into bright light.
  • Take a photo of someone else’s shoe or foot.
  • Make an inanimate object look alive.
  • Make a photo that uses converging lines to draw us into the photo
  • Take a photo of two things that do not belong together.
  • Take a photo that shows a repeating pattern.
  • Take a photo where you move the camera as you take the photo, so it gives the subject a suggestion of motion.
  • Take a photo that is looking through a frame or opening to something else.
  • Take a photo that represents joy.
  • Make a photo that is abstract, that would make someone ask, “Is that a photograph?”
  • Take a photo that represents a metaphor for complexity.

I Also Cheat at Apples to Apples

So I played the five card flicker game.  You can read my story here. I have to say, I was not a huge fan of the game.  I guess it’s cheating a little but I had to start over 5-6 times before I got images that I liked. It wasn’t even so much about whether or not I could connect them in a story line, but I really just wanted to find images that I found aesthetically pleasing.  Is that cheating?

(It reminded me of how I usually have to cheat when I play the game Apples to Apples and I still don’t win.  I usually sneak extra cards into my hand to see if I’ll come up with better, more winning options.  It never works.)

As for the story I came up with — it’s a little weak, I know.  I tried to give it a storyspine format.  I didn’t have too much trouble connecting the images since I could go in any direction of my choosing!