Ah, back-to-school time. Nothing says “new school year” like the smell of new school supplies, the rush of college students coming back into town—and music, for some of us here at Hammock.

Nothing makes me want to close my browser tab faster than a website littered with graphics, ads and text all jammed in there together, filling up the entire page. Like with print, using white space online is crucial — especially since web readers’ eyes are likely to be taxed more from reading a web page than a printed one.

Social media surprises from our mothers
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started to recognize my mom had an identity beyond being putting a healthy, home-made meal on the table every night, making sure we understood our homework, and offering encouraging words or a forgiving smile when we needed it the most.
Now, I always knew she was a cool lady, but recently I’ve been starting to see where I must have gotten the Internet-nerd gene from in the family. Over the last couple years, my mom has started to get into social media: She uses Bloglines to read RSS feeds (she’s got mine in there!), we chat more over IM than we do on the phone, and a few months ago she asked me how hard I thought learning Dreamweaver, a website-building application, would be for her (my answer: Go for it!). Oh, and although she doesn’t have an account yet, she knows what Twitter is. I can’t even say that for most of my friends.
Since we’re all very passionate about social media here at Hammock, I figured I wasn’t the only one whose mom was starting to warm up to the new media bandwagon. Read on to find out whose moms have embraced this new technology and whose might still be a bit leery.

Around 1 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2009, my town of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was slammed by an F-4 tornado that killed two people, injured 50, completely destroyed 59 homes and damaged 291 more. Numerous businesses were damaged or ruined completely. The National Weather Service reports the path of the tornado extended 23 miles.

I was overwhelmed with relief when my husband told me our house, located in the southeastern part of the city, was not affected by the tornadoes. (There was also another smaller tornado reported, an F-1, that hit closer to my house, but luckily all we saw was hail, rain and green skies.) All of my friends and family members are safe, though a few have some damage to their homes.

I wanted to blog about this earlier in the week, but I’ll be honest: I have been pretty freaked out. Ever since my apartment building was damaged by a small tornado (or perhaps straight-line winds; the jury is still out on that one) back in 2003, I have had a great (and admittedly irrational at times) fear of tornadoes. My husband was at home on Friday, which, while I was concerned for his safety, also brought me comfort in that I had a direct line to what was going on at my house while I was stuck in Nashville waiting out the storm until I could drive home.

This was a huge tornado that has affected so many people in my community. There is so much damage and devastation, and my heart breaks for my fellow Murfreesboro residents. I can’t imagine what I would do if the tornado had come through my neighborhood as well—and at the advice of others, I’m trying to stop thinking about that. Tornadoes are just random acts of nature’s vengeance, and in Tennessee you have to expect them and deal with them.

So in an attempt to stop focusing on what could have happened, I’ve been concentrating on what I can control: Buying a fireproof safe (in case my home ever does get blown apart, my valuables will be sturdily contained). Knowing where our safe spot is should we be home if one comes through our area (the downstairs bathroom, the most interior room in the house). Making sure our homeowner’s insurance is up-to-date. Loving on my (four!) cats a little more each night when I get home.

And I’m also ready to help with the recovery. I’ve got clothing and household items to donate, and I am ready and willing to help with any clean-up or rebuilding projects. Murfreesboro is a great city and has been good to me. I know it will rebound, but I also know it will take time.

Over the last few years, my life has become almost entirely wired—I pay all my bills online and haven’t bought a stamp in ages, I blog instead of writing in a journal, I take digital photos and publish them to Flickr instead of printing them out, and I get all of my news online. (Is it obvious that I work in digital media yet?)

But despite my gravitation toward all things digital, one hard-copy habit I haven’t been able to totally kick is magazines. No matter how obsessed with my computer I am (and believe me I am—friends tease me for having an emotional attachment to my Macbook), sometimes I just need to curl up on the couch with a cat and a magazine. (Also, it’s a lot less hazardous when eating a ham sandwich and drinking a Coke.)

Some of my subscriptions have changed over the years, but one I have loved as long as I can remember is Rolling Stone. The writing is edgy and witty, the layouts cram a ton of information in but stop right before I feel overwhelmed (Wired, which I used to love, could learn a thing or two here), and the photography often makes me feel as though I’m standing right in front of my favorite artists.

I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed in Rolling Stone‘s decision to abandon the large format they had used since 1981 for a traditional size, perfect-bound (no staples) style. I loved how the cover photos were larger than life almost. I loved the crinkly sound the cover made as I cracked it open.

But more importantly, I still love the content (everything music + acerbic, unforgiving take on politics + cussing = perfection, for me at least), so I’m letting this one slide. Just no more Britney Spears covers, ok?!

Our Favorite Magazines
Posted in Magazines, by Megan Morris
February 18, 2009

It’s no secret we’re nuts about magazines around here. So today when I asked the Hammorati what their favorites were (besides the ones we do for our clients, of course!) it was no surprise that I was immediately inundated with passionate responses.

My magazine subscriptions have changed over the years, but my favorite will probably always be Rolling Stone. Read on to find out the favorites of the other Hammock staff:

Just like you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, you don’t want to build a website without a wireframe. Whether you’re building an entire site from scratch or just adding on a new page or section, wireframes are a big help to the design team as well as the site developers.
What wireframes do
Essentially, wireframes are the blueprints for your site. They tell the people building the architecture of the site what sections will go where to give them get an idea of what they will have to code, and they give the designers an overview of how the different pages will work together, which is helpful in choosing design elements.

Fall has always been more than just a season to me. It’s the feeling of crisp, cool air, the smell of leaves changing color, the taste of Oktoberfest beer. Fall is a state of mind, for me, and it has a soundtrack, too.
No matter what time of year I hear certain songs (“Gaia” by James Taylor, “Pinch Me” by Barenaked Ladies, “If You’re Gone” by Matchbox Twenty), specific artists (Counting Crows, Katie Todd Band, Mat Pond PA) or even a single album (Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie), I immediately have a desire to don a hoodie and go camping, like I do most autumns.
To make sure I wasn’t the only one who associated music with the season, I asked my fellow Hammockites if they had any songs that made them sentimental or nostalgic for the fall, and luckily I discovered I am not alone. Here are some other fall favorites from around the office:

A name change
October 21, 2008

A couple of weeks ago (Oct. 4), my longtime boyfriend, Ian, and I snuck off to the mountains of Asheville, N.C., where we got married (barefoot) in a creek. In a really private ceremony: Besides us and the woman who married us, the only two other people in attendance were the photographer and the officiant’s husband (North Carolina requires two witnesses.) On our drive back, we called our family and friends to surprise them with the news. They were excited for us—even more so when we assured them we’d be throwing a huge party a few months from now.

A few people have asked me if I would change my name, since Goodchild was so, um, “unique,” to which I replied with a resounding “YES!!!” My entire life I have been called “bad child,” “devil child” (I have no idea where these nicknames came from, I swear), been asked incredulously if that was really my name, and have had to craft polite responses to “And are you a good child?” as though it was the first time I had ever been asked such a hilarious and witty question.

But now, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration at least, I am Megan Morris. So bring on the quips. After nearly 30 years with Goodchild, I can handle anything.

Megan, Jamie and Bill regained the championship trophy at last year’s NALC Spelling Bee (where the theme was, obviously, pirates).

It’s spelling bee time again, and Bill, Jamie and I are gearing up to reprise our roles from last year on Hammock’s winning team. The 15th Annual Nashville Area Literacy Council’s Spelling Bee takes place Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Nashville Public Library, so if you’re in the area stop by to cheer us on!

This year’s theme is NASCAR, so I’m guessing we’ll see some dueling No. 8 and No. 24 t-shirts—and hopefully some stick-on mustaches, too. But besides planning our costumes, Bill, Jamie and I (ok, mostly I) have some studying to do to ensure the checkered flag is lowered first for us. Because if we win, Jamie has promised to take a victory lap around the library garage.

But I bet we could convince her to do a burnout, too.