Check Yo Self: STD Awareness Month

Guess what month it is? Time to get yourself checked. April is STD Awareness Month. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) are the icky things that like to attack your genitals and may become a hindrance to a fulfilling sex life if left untreated. For many people, STDs rarely show symptoms until it’s too late. Almost all of us are aware of HIV/AIDS, but there are other diseases just as deadly. These STDs/STIs below are just a few you should be aware of.

Herpes. One of the most common STDs is herpes. There are actually two types of herpes, HSV-1 and HSV-2. It’s been reported that approximately 67% of people under 50 HSV-1 . Outbreaks present themselves as what we commonly call canker sores, cold sores, or fever blisters. Often, we contact HSV-1 early in life; our parents, aunt, uncle, etc. will kiss us probably not evening knowing they have the virus.

Herpes 1 & 2_Medium

Image courtesy of Google Images

However, the one most of us think about when we think about herpes is HSV-2; genital herpes. As with any virus, once in your system, it’s there for life. More often than not, the virus will remain dormant; with many people never experience outbreaks. Herpes is transmitted by skin to skin contact and is not protected by condom usage.

Chlamydia. Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs and can leads to infertility in women when left untreated. Burning and unusual discharge are common symptoms of a chlamydia infection. Women may experience painful sex, lower back pain, or abdominal pain. However, according to ASHA, 50% of men and 75% of women experience no symptoms. If left untreated, chlamydia can infect a woman’s entire reproductive system, including ovaries and Fallopian tubes.

Gonorrhea. Also known as the clap, gonorrhea often goes undetected, especially in women. Signs of infection are a foul smelling discharge coming from the genitals or a horrible burning sensation during urination. Men may feel intense discomfort in their testicles or experience discharge from the penis that is yellow, green, or white in color. Women may experience painful intercourse. If the infection has spread to the stomach or Fallopian tubes they may also experience extreme pain in their lower abdomen. With early treatment, gonorrhea is curable. However, left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to throat, rectal, or genital infections.

Image courtesy of Google Images

Image courtesy of Google Images

 

These are a small handful of STDs/STIs. Many don’t show signs of their presence or share common symptoms. This is why, if you are sexually active with someone other than yourself, you will want to add regular check-ups to your sexual health maintenance. Part of an enjoyable sex life is being safe and knowing your STD/STI statuses and sharing that information with anyone you may be interested in sharing your body with.

If you have a regular primary healthcare provider, you can include a full STD/STI panel during your annual physical. There are also clinics throughout the country that offer free or low cost testing. Your local Planned Parenthood is a good choice if you are unsure where to go.

Sex is fun and should always be a pleasurable and safe experience for you and your partner(s). To keep that pleasurable and safe experience going taking responsibility for your sexual health is a top priority. Get tested and get tested often. You owe it to yourself to know your stats.

~ Mistress

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5 Tools Aspiring Communications Professionals Should Consider for Their Toolkit

Since Fall 2013 I’ve been studying to get my Masters degree in Communications. As I near the end of my program (graduating in February) I am now transitioning from a Communications Student to a Communications Professional. It’s got me thinking about core tools I want to add to my professional toolkit. With so much new media and digital tools it’s difficult to narrow the list down to only 5. In no particular order, my list.

Smartphone

I admit it. I’m suspicious of anyone who does not own a mobile phone in 2015. What are you…still living in 2003??! C’mon, son. Aside from businesses, the only person I know with a landline is my Dad. He did upgrade to an IPhone late last year. It is cliché, but the truth is, the future of communication is mobile. How often do we pull out our phones during the course of the day? If you are still rocking (as the young people say) a feature phone, or worse, no phone, you are going to be left behind.

Smartphones

Smartphones-Courtesy of Orange Folks

As an aspiring communications professional, your smartphone is almost essential as a vital organ. It keeps you connected with your audience; allowing you to send or receive information within seconds. Are you really going to wait until you get home to your laptop to send out those amazing tweets you’ve had percolating in your head? What about that photo or video opportunity you could have shared if you weren’t still walking around with a Nokia 1100 in your purse.

Thesaurus (cause like, really, you shouldn’t say really so much, ya know?)

OK, maybe you don’t necessarily need a thesaurus. More so it’s important to have a decent command of language. I am by no means an English aficionado and I misspelled words occasionally just like everyone else. I’m not always sure where a comma is supposed to go and have no clue how to use a semicolon properly. Having a command of language is about being able to clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas so they’re easily understood by your targeted audience.

Social Media Presence (an active presence)

Reality check. If you are not online in the digital 21st century you do not exist. Social media is our new church, community center, and school. It is how we are connecting with each other. As communications professionals we need to be where the people are. The people are online. They’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Which sites you use will depend on you, the audience you want to reach, and the message you want to share with that audience.

As much as we may dislike it, I do believe that one of those sites needs to be Facebook. Let’s face (pun intended) facts. Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. When we think social media, it often the first name that comes to mind. While it’s important to have an active social media presence, you are not obligated or required to be on every single new site. Not every site will gain traction or attract the audience you’re looking for. Anybody remember Ello? Yeah…neither did I until I started writing this post. Currently, my top social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are how I am currently showcasing my brand and fabulous personality; while YouTube is for learning and Pinterest for daydreaming.

Social Media Icons

Social Media Icons-Photo courtesy of Free Social Icons

FYI: if you’re using your social media for professional reasons do not have a locked account. Nothing is more frustrating than finding an amazing person in your field on YouTube only to find all their other professional online presences are locked. Communications requires you to be open. Unlock those accounts, people!

Your own website

Your website is your own, specific corner of the digital world. Everything you do needs to lead back to your website. All your social media, online writings, business cards, etc., need to make reference to your website. A website affords you the opportunity to go beyond character limitations of other social media platforms and expand on your ideas and theories. It is a repository of your previous accomplishments and future projects. When at all possible grab a domain under you real name. You may never use this domain, instead choosing to work under a different alias, but at least you know you own you own your name. Owning a domain under your legal name prevents other from co-opting your identity and potentially misconstruing who you are. There are surprisingly quite a few Nilaja Montgomerys out there, but guess who owns the domain www.nilajamontgomery.com?

Drive

Having a smartphone, accounts on social media, a website, command of language are all meaningless if you do not have the drive and determination to put in the work to promote your brand. This is an area I struggle with daily. Despite my continual complaining about some of the boring classes I’ve been required to take and repetitive nature of homework assignments, I have enjoyed the overwhelming majority of my time as a Communications student. Now, as I begin the transition from student to professional, I have to work extra hard to keep the drive going. I’ll admit, I much rather spend hours becoming part of my couch while consuming Netflix than work on creating content for this blog or building my brand and business. Sometimes it really takes too much effort to construct 140 characters for a Tweet. That’s OK. We need to take time out to recharge and stare off into space…just remember to get back to building your brand ASAP.

Ambitious Professional-Photo Courtesy of MaseTv

Ambitious Professional-Photo Courtesy of MaseTv

These are just a few of the tools I’m adding to my ever growing Communications arsenal. What are some of your favorite tools?

~Nilaja

Writer’s Perspective

[This was originally published on my other blog. I have a new class this semester that requires a public blog so I’m moving posts from that blog to this one.]

Choose one of the archived articles from Writers on Writing and create a blog post that describes the author’s perspective on the writing process. Do you agree or disagree with the author? Has your thinking changed throughout this course regarding a writer’s perspective in the social media environment? 

Alice Walker has always been one of my favorite authors, even though I have actually only ever read one of her novels, “The Color Purple,” and that was only after seeing the 1982 Steven Spielberg film. It is not her writing, rather her energy and her presence that puts Alice Walker in my list of favorite authors. To read that she meditates regularly is to be told that the sky is blue and water is wet. It comes as no surprise that Walker engages in meditation.

To be a writer…to be a great writer one must engage in routine, discipline, and practice their craft on a regular basis. Mastering meditation requires discipline. Doing it once every few months does not a make you a practitioner of meditation. The same goes with writing. You cannot sit down to write once every few weeks and expect to produce literary gold. It must become second nature.

There was a time when I considered myself a writer. Just has I would awake up every morning and put my glasses on first, without thinking, I did the same with my writing. I did not think about writing, I just wrote. It was something I didn’t think about doing. I just did it. Over the years, and this pesky requirement to be an adult and do adult things such as work, pay rent, pay your bills, writing got put on the back burner. One day, I discovered the stove had been turned off and nothing was cooking anymore.

Over the past 11 weeks as I’ve worked my way through my Knowledge and New Media course, I have rediscovered my love of writing. I’ve also discovered how the world has changed when it comes to writing and giving your words to the public. We now live in a time when just about anyone can publish their writing and call themselves a writer. All you need is a WordPress or Blogger platform and voila! You are a writer! Whether you are viewed as a good writer is another matter. The idea of ethics and ethical writing has been so drilled into my head these past weeks, that I feel I could recite the Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics in my sleep. With the exception of school assignments, all my writing has been purely fictional. In fictional writing, your imagination is the limit. As I have begun to explore the world of blogging and nonfiction writing, my perspective on writing has evolved. I find myself verifying and verifying again information before I post. Even if it is just a tweet on Twitter or a Facebook status, there are many times when I ask myself “is this really necessary, do you need to put that out into the world?” Often, not only is it unnecessary information, it is information that has already been distributed by countless others across the super information highway. Some may call that self-censorship. I see it as not using my tiny piece of the World Wide Web as a trash dumpster.

Being viewed as a writer with high standards and a reliable source of information has become very important to my writing. That’s not to say that I won’t occasionally make a crass remark about silly celebrities or idiotic politicians. However, I rather focus on creating new content that is accurate, ethical, and stamped with my own unique and awesome perspective.

Press Release…Now with Multimedia

[This was originally published on my other blog. I have a new class this semester that requires a public blog so I’m moving posts from that blog to this one.]

This week’s assignment required me to add some multimedia to the press release post I created a couple of weeks ago. For the final production I used Camtasia. I initially wanted to use Jing to capture screen shots. Then I realized that I couldn’t add music to the video and I was not up for doing a voice over. I’ve been battling a cold for the past few weeks and find myself coughing every 5 seconds. It wouldn’t have been pleasant to the ears.

Adding multimedia to the press release, or any blog posting, helps to break up the monotony of lines and lines of text. While I prefer my cupcakes without icing, I do agree with Zachary Sniderman (2010) assessment that “website without multimedia is like a cupcake without icing: Functional but lacking.” Visual elements help maintain the readers interest. For my press release, there didn’t need to be anything super splashy. If this was a real site, I would want viewers to see the video clip and go immediately to the website. That’s where all the splash would be.

Camtasia was fairly easy to use…once I stopped hitting random buttons and watched a few of their free tutorials. I created the visual stills using Microsoft PowerPoint. Since I’ve only had to use PowerPoint once before, that was also an interesting experience. Once I got the slides how I wanted them, I just hit record and my images were captured. For the music, I used one of the free samples offered by Camtasia. Then I uploaded it to my YouTube site and viola! Using Camtasia was fun. I got to be created and it made me want to seriously reconsider pursuing film as a career option.

Sniderman, Z. (2010, July 28). How to: Add multimedia to your blog. Retrieved November 22,

2013, from http://mashable.com/2010/07/28/add-multimedia-to-blog/
__________________________________________________________________________________
Oakland is keeping it sexy and healthy in 2014
All your sexual health needs at the tip of your fingertips!

Oakland, CA. Nov 10, 2013/Sexy Oakland/- Oakland will soon have a new source of information for all things related to sex and sexuality. Sexy Oakland strives to keep its readers informed on all the new research and discoveries happening in the world of human sexuality. Our mission is to provide you with the most update to date and accurate information to assist you in making educated sexual health decisions.

Our writers have spent years researching and writing on all aspects of human sexuality. Whether it’s about the serious side of sexuality such as HIV/AIDS and STI prevention or the fun side such as what to expect your first time at an adult toy story, Sexy Oakland is committed to being a role model when it comes to sex education. We work with reputable leaders in the field of human sexuality who share the same belief that we are all entitled to healthy sex lives. Five days a week, Monday through Friday, our readers will be able to visit our blog and discover topics that are of interest and concern to their well-being.

You, the reader, can be assured that we authenticate and double checked the information we publish before we present it to you, our readers. Sexy Oakland aims to be your reliable, number one go to source for trustworthy sexual health education. We believe in providing quality, non-judgmental, and thoroughly vetted information to the communities we serve.

About Sexy Oakland
Sexy Oakland is the brain child of Rachel Lee, PhD. A lifelong resident of Oakland, Dr. Lee and the staff of Sexy Oakland believe that sexual pleasure and education is a right that everyone is entitled to experience. Our objective is to present information in a manner that is honest, accurate, open, and non-judgmental and empowers our readers to live healthy and pleasurable sex lives.

Contact:
Nilaja A. Montgomery
Sexy Oakland
Phone: 510-555-7474
nmontgomery@sexyoakland.com
http://www.sexyoakland.com

Best Practices: Blogging

[This was originally published on my other blog. I have a new class this semester that requires a public blog so I’m moving posts from that blog to this one.]

This week’s assignment: choose a blog and analyze the functions and substance of the blog as a form of writing and information delivery. In your opinion, what are the “best practices” when creating a blog to ensure appropriate form, function, and substance?

As a future sexual health educator, I follow a lot of sexuality related blogs. One blog that I frequent often is Good Vibrations Online Magazine (somewhat NSFW). The site has 8 main pages in total. 5 of these pages take you different areas of the site and each of those pages have their own sub pages. The remaining 3 pages take you to the Good Vibrations (also somewhat not NSFW) store site where you can purchase items or find out about upcoming events or workshops. The multiple pages might feel a bit overwhelming initially for the new reader; but that feeling quickly passes once you dive in and start surfing the site.

The goal of Good Vibrations is to promote a world that embraces healthy sexuality and sex positivity. The blog site does this task efficiently. Information is provided without judgment by a multitude of writers. The writers range from doctors to therapist to people just sharing personal experiences. A key component of best practices for blogs is the frequency of posts. Good Vibrations is updated regularly with at least 3 new postings a week.

The blog also offer links to Good Vibrations’ Twitter, Facebook, and Pintrest pages. The blog also includes an RSS feed which is a must for any blog that wants to its readers to always be update on the latest postings. One flaw that I noticed with this site revolves around sharing of posts to one’s own social networks. I’m used to finding the share options located directly above the specific posts or right below. On the Good Vibes site, the options to share a particular post are found in left hand sidebar. For me, that falls under poor web designing and doesn’t follow the logic of most blogs.

If you’re not quite sure what you want to learn about you can use the “search,” box that is found on every page of the blog. You can also take advantage of the “tag cloud,” which allows you to click on a specific word and you will be directed to every post that was tagged with that word.

Overall, the Good Vibrations site embraces best practices when it comes to operating a blog. They update regularly, posts are easy to read, and information is plentiful and easy to find.

Press Release

 [This was originally published on my other blog. I have a new class this semester that requires a public blog so I’m moving posts from that blog to this one.]

Oakland is keeping it sexy and healthy in 2014
All your sexual health needs at the tip of your fingertips!

Oakland, CA. Nov 10, 2013/Sexy Oakland/- Oakland will soon have a new source of information for all things related to sex and sexuality. Sexy Oakland strives to keep its readers informed on all the new research and discoveries happening in the world of human sexuality. Our mission is to provide you with the most update to date and accurate information to assist you in making educated sexual health decisions.
Our writers have spent years researching and writing on all aspects of human sexuality. Whether it’s about the serious side of sexuality such as HIV/AIDS and STI prevention or the fun side such as what to expect your first time at an adult toy story, Sexy Oakland is committed to being a role model when it comes to sex education. We work with reputable leaders in the field of human sexuality who share the same belief that we are all entitled to healthy sex lives. Five days a week, Monday through Friday, our readers will be able to visit our blog and discover topics that are of interest and concern to their well-being.
You, the reader, can be assured that we authenticate and double checked the information we publish before we present it to you, our readers. Sexy Oakland aims to be your reliable, number one go to source for trustworthy sexual health education. We believe in providing quality, non-judgmental, and thoroughly vetted information to the communities we serve.
About Sexy Oakland
Sexy Oakland is the brain child of Rachel Lee, PhD. A lifelong resident of Oakland, Dr. Lee and the staff of Sexy Oakland believe that sexual pleasure and education is a right that everyone is entitled to experience. Our objective is to present information in a manner that is honest, accurate, open, and non-judgmental and empowers our readers to live healthy and pleasurable sex lives.
Contact:
Nilaja A. Montgomery
Sexy Oakland
Phone: 510-555-7474
nilajamontgomery@gmail.com
www.sexyoakland.com

New Media Tools: RSS and Online Collaboration Tools

This week’s assignment: choose two Social Media Tools that you have not used before and try them out. Compare these two tools and share your thoughts about which one will reach audiences most effectively.
Real Simple Syndication

Real Simple Syndication, more commonly known as RSS, allow users to subscribe to their favorite blogs, news sites etc. and receive site updates regularly in their email. Instead of having to go from website to website to website, users can access their favorite blogs right from their email. There are also some RSS sites that allow users to add their favorite sites and read updates right from the RSS site. This is convenient if you don’t want your email clogged up with emails from all the blogs you follow.

Google reader was a popular RSS site until it shut down in July 2013. A good alternative is Feedly. Gizmodo also has a list of popular RSS reader sites.

Online Collaboration Tools

Online collaboration tools allow multiple users to access documents via cloud computing. Cloud computing, also known as cloud storage, backs up data on a server instead of a hard drive and is accessible to users via an internet connection*. This allows anyone with the proper credentials to access specific documents or files saved. If you’re in California and working on a class projects with classmates in other parts of the country, state, or world using online collaboration tools allows everyone to work on the project at any time without having to sync up personal schedules.

A popular online collaboration is Google Drive. If you have a Google email address, you have access to Google Drive. Documents can be shared and edited between anyone who has the Google login and password for the account.

RSS and online collaboration tools are both beneficial new media tools. RSS is best served for individual use. You can stay update on all your favorite and important websites in a quick an efficient manner. All the sites you want are right there in one convenient location. If you have a blog or website that allows for RSS subscriptions your readers will never miss updates when new content is added to your site. Online collaboration is amazing for both professional and personal use. With this tool multiple users are able to work on projects without geographic or time limitations. This has the potential to be an effective way to distribute content on a quicker basis. Anyone can work on media content when it is convenient.

Source
* http://aids.gov/using-new-media/tools/index.html#tool-bookmarkingNew

~Mistress

Social Media and the Truth

How do I know what I know? What I know has come from years of listening and questioning. I like to ask “why,” quite a bit. Why should I do that? Why are you doing this? Why is this important? I believe that if I don’t know something I need to ask someone who either has knowledge of the subject or can direct me in the direction to find answers.
On my Twitter feed today, I discovered that there had been, within the past week, a conference entitled Black Sexual Economies:Conference on Transitioning Black Sexualities Research. As future sexual health educator I was quite disappointed that this was the first I was hearing of this conference. It was quite easy to determine this conference was an actual event by Googling the name. Additionally, one of the experts in the field of human sexuality, who I follow on Twitter, mentioned the conference in her tweets and included a link.
Social media site can be very reliable for obtaining credible information. It’s not the site that creates credibility; it is the users who participate on the site that create the credibility. Who you follow determines what information you come across. Those people are the starting points for information knowledge. The burden then falls upon you to further research the topic of discussion.
~Mistress

New Media

I am avid Facebook and Twitter user. I also enjoy time on Instagram, Pintrest, and watching way too many videos on YouTube. I purchased my first smartphone a couple of years ago and recently updated to a newer, even smarter phone a few months ago. My daily new media use also consists of email, a copious amount of texting, and glances at the front page of Yahoo News.  Although, 9 times out of 10, by the time I see news on Yahoo News, I’ve already become aware of the topic from either Twitter or Facebook.

Social media has made me more aware of current events, often as they are happening. It also helps me to better formulate my own opinions on the topics of the day by first reading what others have to say. One of the most positive outcomes of new media is that is allows virtually anyone who wants, the opportunity to participate in discussions of the day.

A few weeks ago, on Twitter, there was a discussion regarding feminism, sexism, racism, and how these all affect the lives of black women. One of the hashtags was #solidaryisforwhitewomen which discussed racism in the feminist communities. The other hashtag was #blackpowerisforblackmen which discussed sexism in the Black community. For close to a week, there were exchanges of thoughts and ideas regarding race privilege, gender privilege, the intersectionality of identities, and how for many Black women these intersecting identities could not be ignored.
Much of the new media experience, such as Facebook or Twitter, greatly depends on who you are following or what information you are seeking on these sites. People who are negative or thrive on drama will always find themselves engaging in such antics online. Those will always be the people who complain about how Facebook or Twitter are time wasters and are leading to the moral decline of humanity.
The outcome and effect of social media are truly what you make of it and put into its creation.
~Mistress

Apparently, grad school takes up a lot of your time

Who knew? I keep telling myself I should blog more about my adventures in library school. Between working full time, going to school full time, and starting a side business, blogging just slips my mind. I bet if I gave up TV I would have more time.

Yeah, right. Like that is going to happen.

Anyways.

I’m coming to the close of my second semester. I feel like this is the longest 15 weeks ever. Who the hell thought up the semester system. Around week 8 my brain had enough. I’m taking three classes this semester. Unfortunately, two of them are repeat classes. Nothing pisses me off more than missing a “B” grade by just a few points. Apparently a “B-,” isn’t the same as a “B.” I’m passing those courses this time around and will quickly forget them as soon as the semester.

As for my third class, LIBR 240-Information Technology Tools and Applications, I am thoroughly enjoying this course. It’s the first time since I took typing in high school that I feel like I am learning skills and information that I can take out into the workplace. The class is an introduction to web designing and some programming languages. I’m quite pleased with myself that I have been doing so well in the course. For my final project I have to build a website. I’m creating a site for my accessories business.

Yay me. This YouTube clip below is just a quick video I did for a homework assignment that involved embedding a piece of media into a webpage.

~Mistress