Saturday, January 1, 2022

2021 Christmas Letter

This Christmas I decided to do a Christmas letter, this was something I've thought about doing for years, though part of that was also because I've wanted to do a FAKE Christmas letter writing a fictionalized version of my year, but that's not this. This is a real Christmas letter, updating my family, and now also my 3.5 blog readers about my 2021. And part of 2020, because that was also relevant.

Anyway, here's the letter. No guarantees of a 2022 version, but maybe I'll do that fictional version next time.


Dear Everyone,


I'm doing a Christmas card! Or at least a Christmas letter. But probably by the time I send this, it’ll be a New Years letter. I've kind of always wanted to do one of these, but I just never have, partly because I've never had anything to write about, and partly because usually the only people who do these are moms with kids, who want to give updates on their perfect, adorable families. And I'm a single 35-year-old with no kids and two podcasts. 🤓


Well, who cares. I want to do one, so I'm doing one. Will this be an every year thing? Who knows. We'll see. Let's just do year one first and see how things go.


Well, I guess for starters, I finally got a job this year! If you read my blog, which, be honest, you don't, and that's fine. I barely even update it these days anyway, because I have so much more going on. My blog hit its peak in 2011, 2012, and it's been all downhill ever since. Though I might recycle this letter as a blog post, because, well, free content. I'm a big believer in recycling, which includes digitally. 😆


I suppose I should preface all this by going back to the first half of this year, (and even last year) because SO MUCH HAS CHANGED. From January to June I was working part time at Hy-Vee in Harlan as a personal shopper. I moved back home last year because I got a job with the census. I had been living in Ames with my Grandma after graduating. I was working overnights at a hotel, and part time at the grocery store there. I would do an 8-hour overnight shift, then go work 4 hours at Hy-Vee in the morning, then go home, crash, wake up, and do it all over again. So fun.


Not really. Anyway, I got a job with the census early 2020, and started making plans to move back home. Since I still had my permanent address set to Harlan, even though I lived in Ames, they wanted me to work in Harlan. Of course everything got delayed because obvious reasons, but then everything did eventually start up again, and I moved back home. And then Hy-Vee in Harlan wanted me back too, as they were desperate for help doing personal shopping which had become huge during the pandemic. And that's what I'd been doing since the end of 2020.


And even though Hy-Vee was part time, it was nearly full time. They wanted me to work just enough hours so that I would still be classified as part time, but not enough that they would have to do insurance, benefits, etc. But a lot of weeks I got full time hours anyway, because we were so short staffed.


Anyway, that brings us up to this spring, when, as I wrote in my ONE big blog post this year, I actually FINALLY found a job in what I went to school for! In June I started a job at Harlan Municipal Utilities, (HMU) which as the name implies, is a water/power/telecom company in Harlan, IA. Shockingly, the town where I actually live. I say shockingly, because I never in a million years thought I'd find a job in my field in Harlan. I barely thought I'd find something in Iowa.


I've been applying for jobs since 2017 when I graduated, (Not counting 2019, when I took a year out of the job search to do a long-distance internship with my friend Rachel Wagner in Utah) and for the majority of the search, I mainly focused on Des Moines, and Omaha, because those were the two big cities within driving distance, and I figured they were my best bet for finding a job in advertising. Little did I know, I would end up finding a job in marketing right in my own backyard. Funny how these things work sometimes, isn't it?


So, even though my job is in "Marketing" this job has surprisingly little actual marketing duties. To be sure, there is a lot of Marketing in this job, however, HMU has three local cable channels, and the vast majority of my job has been making content for those channels.

In fact since I’ve now been here over 6 months, and have been making content all that time, pretty much all the old content that was running when I got here, has now been cycled out, and I would probably say that at this point, about 90% of what is currently running on those channels now is programming that I filmed and edited myself. And the other 10% is church services, submitted by local churches for replay.


The fact that I now do so much work with video editing is actually kind of amazing, because in addition to that internship I did, (Which was a lot of video and podcast editing) my main extracurricular activity since I graduated has been to start a YouTube channel and my two podcasts. I learned some video and audio editing in school, but I would say the vast majority of it I have taught myself in the past 4 years of podcasting, and I'd like to think that that experience is part of why I got this job.


And even if it somehow turned out that wasn't why I got the job, it's certainly why I have felt so comfortable doing a lot of what I do now, because there is SO MUCH editing in this job, and I had no idea how much it would be when I first applied.


The first of the three cable channels is not video though, it's basically a local bulletin board. We sell advertising here, which is where the bulk of my "Marketing" job happens. I also have some marketing/graphic design to do for HMU itself, but most of it happens here. I either make ads for companies who buy space here, or make/update local events calendars, I even make all the local obituaries that we run on the channel.


The second channel is the local programming channel. This is where most of my duties began when I first got this job, as the main thing that the people keeping this department going were doing was updating this channel every Monday with the local church services.

Oh yeah, I suppose I should mention that when I got this job, it was kind of in chaos. There was literally no one in marketing, and they were barely holding the position together. They had lost literally the entire marketing team within a few months of each other, and by the time they hired me, it was two guys from the telecom department doing the bare minimum to keep the marketing department functioning in addition to doing their own jobs on top of that.


The head of marketing had retired last year, then HMU decided to fold telecom and marketing into one department, then one of the two remaining marketing associates was called to a church in a different state, because he was also a pastor, then the last one was diagnosed with cancer not long after, and she quit almost immediately.


And I think it took them at least three months to hire me, because I missed it the first time they advertised the position, and it wasn't until May when Mom saw the ad in the paper, which led to me getting hired by the end of the month. And of course I gave Hy-Vee two weeks' notice, so I didn't start until mid-June, months after everything in Marketing had fallen apart for them.


So needless to say I was kind of thrown into things, and have pretty much had to learn everything on the fly. And half the stuff I've almost had to teach myself. Thankfully my boss and one of the other telecom guys had been able to figure out some things after the other team was gone, so I wasn't totally thrown in blind, but still, my boss's main job is running the telecom side of things, so, back at the beginning, I was on my own for more than I would have prefered.


Anyway, where was I? Okay, back to the second channel.


This is where a LOT of my time has been focused the past few months, way beyond just getting local church services on the air every week. One of the first big projects I was "Thrown into" was the Shelby County Fair. HMU is responsible for a lot of the local coverage of the fair, and people around Harlan expect to be able to watch the biggest events on TV.


So the whole week of the fair I was there bright and early filming the cattle show, the swine show, sheep and goats, the crowning of the Fair Queen, the parade, the talent show. I was everywhere, and I was exhausted by the end. That was a long week. And of course I also had to edit everything too, so when I wasn't filming, I was editing, basically turning all the footage I'd collected into a television show. When all was said and done, I figured I had made at the very least, a Netflix season's worth of television, 100% by myself.


Oh, and then, not to interrupt myself again, but right after this, I got Covid and ended up in the hospital for a week. And all in all I was out of work for almost an entire month. 

Thankfully this was right after my health insurance had kicked in, so in the long run, I was out of pocket for very little. I am SO thankful that I got this job when I did, because if I'd have ended up in the hospital while I'd worked part time at Hy-Vee, I would probably be in debt till I died.


Okay, so again, back to the cable channels. Right now we are right in the middle of a whole bunch of sports seasons. I filmed almost every single game that our local football team played, right up until they hit the semifinals, because at that point the rules changed, and a bigger company owns all the rights to film and distribute those games. Our team ended up winning the entire 3A Championship, and I somehow was actually invested? (Here comes another tangent.)


I have literally never cared about sports in my life. No one in my family cared about sports enough to watch them on TV. My dad moved here from Canada when he was a teen/young adult and the only sport he cared about was hockey, which we couldn't watch here, so I didn't even inherit that.


But somehow, throughout the last several months of filming every game for our hometown football team, (Including away games, which I traveled for, sometimes staying overnight in hotels) I actually found myself caring, enough so that when they ended up going into the semi finals and championships, I actually watched them on TV, because I cared enough about seeing them win.


If you had told me a year ago that in a year's time, I would care enough about the Harlan Cyclone football team to attend every game, and then watch them on TV, I would have laughed in your face and assumed you were the absolute worst psychic to have ever lived. And yet here I am.


Will I continue to watch and enjoy football? Ehh, I don't know. I'll continue to watch and enjoy Harlan football, as that's now literally my job, but I'm not really invested in any other teams right now. But I guess the moral of this story is, you never know what the future holds.


Okay, back to my job. Currently we are in basketball season, and even though I do not travel for this one, (We only cover away games for the football team) I am filming a LOT more games than I was for football. I guess I never knew how much more basketball is played than football, at least in terms of the numbers of games played. I guess part of that is that both girls and guys play basketball, so that does double the number of games I have to film, but it sure seems like I am filming a lot more than I ever did during football.


And sports aren't the only thing I'm filming now anyway, because we don't just cover sports for the school, we do as much of the arts as we're allowed, (plays are copyrighted so no filming allowed unless it's written by someone locally) and this mostly entails concerts. And unlike sports where we only cover high school stuff, we cover concerts for all ages. And we're right in the middle of the Christmas season, so there have been a not insignificant number of non-sports events to film as well.


PLUS, I haven't even told you about the third channel yet! The third channel that HMU owns and operates is the local government access channel. And I film and edit everything there too.


This includes not just our own board meetings, but city council meetings, school board meetings, county supervisor meetings, and even hospital board meetings! Plus any other special government things that happen locally.


And I only just started getting back into those after the football season was over, as my boss has been trying to ease me into everything slowly. Which I am grateful for. I would have been totally overwhelmed if I'd have had ALL of this thrown at me when I first started.


So, as you can tell, this new job keeps me VERY busy. And I somehow have been able to keep my podcasts going all this time as well. I have had to cut way back on the number of episodes I make, but I would never want to give them up entirely, I have friends all over the country that I keep in contact with through the podcasts, so that alone makes it worth it for me to keep them going, even if my spare time is now far more limited than it used to be.


So, I guess that's all my updates from the year. I know some of you know a lot of this, but I still thought it would be fun to write this, and it was. We'll see if I end up doing this again next year, I did have fun with this, so if anything worth writing about happens, I'd say chances are pretty good I do it again, but, like with literally everything that's happened to me this year, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.


Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, Bye!


Your friend, son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, etc.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Out of Context! - The Breakfast of Weird Champions.

I have totally neglected my blog this year. Between getting a new job, and working on my podcasts and other projects, I just have kind of forgotten to post much of anything. But for some reason today I felt like making a post, and I still had a backlog of Out of Context Quotes, so I decided to just do it.

So of course, you know the drill: These are all real quotes, they all made sense in context, but I thought they were funnier without.

And of course, as usual, full disclosure: Most of these are from me and my cousins. We say weird things. Like a lot, apparently.

"It's like a hairy stick."

"It looks like a sloth riding a camel."

"It pays to be discriminating with pickles."

"I like quietness. And soft surfaces."

"I keep trying to do these romantic, rat's nest hair-dos."

"He drank some mud water over there."

"I remember a lot of sleeve sniffing."

"He used to love his leopard print jingle Mousie."

"That's a war cry? What? That's pathetic!"

"It could be a llama girdle."

"My alpaca has a magical shark belt."

"The breakfast of weird champions."

"You have beautiful toes."

"Mmmmmmm, flesh. Your favorite."

"I don't normally lick my fins."

"Why do I suddenly want a picture of myself as a duck?"

"Most kids are sad little pickle haters."

"I'm a bubble snob."

"She's the one with the chickpea shampoo." 

"I think I'm just smelling my skin." 


If you like reading these Out of Context posts as much as I like making them, you can find the entire collection HERE.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

I Finally Have a Job!

It has been awhile since my last blog post, but I've blogged every other education related milestone since the very beginning of this blog back in 2010, so I had to get on here to let you know that after all this time, four years since I finished school, and over a year since I finished my internship, I finally have a job in what I went to school for! My Bachelor's degree has finally paid off!

Last month I applied for a marketing position at a local utilities company. I tried not to expect much, after all, I've been applying for jobs since 2017, when I "Graduated" (finished my classes) all the way through to 2019, when I got the internship necessary to get the degree, you can read about that Here.

And then since the beginning of 2020, when I finally finished that internship and got the degree, I haven't stopped looking, and applying for all kinds of jobs. From ones only vaguely related to my advertising degree, like a car dealership lot photographer, weirdly enough, I applied for a bunch of those over the years, to actual positions in real advertising agencies, from Omaha to Des Moines. I almost never heard back from any of them.

So imagine my surprise when not even a few days after I applied in Harlan, I got a call for an interview. And that interview went great! But then I didn't hear from them in over a week, long after I expected to hear from anyone, and I assumed I didn't get the job. I went from trying not to expect too much, to fully expecting way too much, and completely defeated before I'd even been rejected. ðŸ˜†

By this point in my life/career/whatever I am beyond tired of my job at the grocery store. I've been working in an online shopping position since I moved back to Harlan last year, and it has been getting more and more frustrating. From the "Upgraded" electronic shopping system, that has SO many bugs, to the fact that we just do not have enough help, not just in my department, but everywhere in the store, I was just ready to be done.

So Thursday, the week after I had the interview, I had fully given up on the job, and I started making plans. I was leaving. I was starting to plan a vacation, and I wanted to be gone at least three weeks. I'm pretty much broke, but I didn't care, I wanted to get away from the store ASAP.

So I talked to my friend Rachel, the one I did the internship with, started making very tentative plans to take a train from here to Colorado to visit my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Nathan, then from Colorado to Utah to visit Rachel, and then from Utah to California to visit another friend who could potentially get me into Disneyland for free, since she works there.

I had only disclosed these plans to Rachel, and then the next morning before I left for work, I found an email, asking me to call as soon as I got the message. I had a job offer. Never have I been so happy to have my vacation plans completely ruined. ðŸ˜†

I tried to quit my job at the store that very day, but neither manager I talked to wanted me to leave, so I guess I'm technically still employed there, but I just told them I'd see how things went with the new job. Maybe I can be on call or something.

My last day there was Sunday, and that morning a few of the people at work put together a little going away gift for me. It was really sweet, and totally unexpected. But I really appreciated it. I will definitely miss a lot of the people I worked with, even if I won't miss the store that much. ðŸ˜†

I post more on instagram than I do anywhere else these days, so here are some more pictures you can scroll through. :)

I don't really have much to share by way of photographs of the new job. I did take a picture of some clouds over the building the other day, so I guess that will have to do. ðŸ˜†

My new job is probably going to be mostly boring office stuff that I won't be able to photograph. Or won't want to photograph, 😆but there will probably eventually be things that I might be able to take pictures of.

Part of my job in the future will be to manage the content for the local cable channels, and film events around Harlan. Most of these events will be things like city council meetings, hospital board meetings, etc, but next month we'll be covering the Shelby County Fair, so I will probably be able to take some pictures to share there. But you might have to follow me on Instagram, if you want to see them in a relatively acceptable amount of time. ðŸ˜†

I will try to do updates in the future, but I make no promises. This is literally my first post of the year, and we're over halfway through June. ðŸ˜†

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Rotoscopers Roundup 10

This year was super busy, so I didn't have a huge amount of time for writing, but I still managed to do a few reviews for the Rotoscopers. As always, I'm linking them all here for future reference.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker - Blu-ray Review

Dolittle - Blu-ray Review

Alice in Wonderland - 1933 - Blu-ray Review

Sonic the Hedgehog - Blu-ray Review

Trolls: World Tour - Blu-ray Review

Muppets Now - New Series Review

World of Tomorrow - Teaser for Episode 3

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous - Season 1 Review

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Amazing Trick-or-Treat Ideas 2020 - PANDEMIC EDITION!

I know it's tradition for me to give you ten delicious Halloween handout suggestions each year, treats to give to all the adorable costumed kids who parade through the neighborhood, but this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all Halloween treats are to be replaced with tricks. Sorry, I don't make the rules. (Or do I?)

Anyway, as the tradition is "Trick-or-Treat" the option to go exclusively with tricks was always there, we just needed a reason to use it. So with that in mind, instead of ten treat ideas, here are ten easy, socially distanced trick ideas you can use to frighten off any crawly little germ carriers that come creeping round your Hollow this 'Ween.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but set up a video camera. You're destined for TikTok virality with these tricks!


A Plastic Bag Fulla Pumpkin Guts
Load that sucker into a trebuchet, and launch it at whenever a germy little gremlin trespasses across your yard. Bonus points if you manage to hit them.

A Swarm of Holographic Bees
This is exactly what it sounds like. Set up a projector with a fog machine, a copy of John Williams' "Realistic Swarm of Bees" soundtrack, and voila. The most visceral Halloween terror of all. Nature.
Sort of. 

Rotten Eggs & Mustard Balloons
The old standbys. Sometimes the classics are the best. Just chuck those puppies out a two story window and wait for the police to show up. You won't get away with this one, but it will be worth it.

Non-Dairy Creamer
No this isn't a treat, even though non-dairy creamer is a dusty delight, on Halloween it's a perfect rugrat repellent. You'll need about a 3 ton pile of Vaguely Vanilla™, as well as an industrial fan with a motion activated sensor. I think you can see where I'm going with this. *PLOOF!* Classic!

A Tiger Pit
Dig a ten foot pit in your front yard, cover it with a tarp and leaves, and wait. Little Suzy won't know what got her. Oh, and put some pillows in the pit of course. You're not a monster.
I hope.

A Massive Pile of Old Magazines
Everyone has at least one old grandma who's been hoarding magazines since the 1950's. Make a huge mound just inside your fence, barring entry, and surround it with tripwire attached to firecrackers, set to go off any time anyone gets close. It's important that you don't let anyone actually take the magazines, Grammy Gladiolas needs those back. They could be worth something someday.

Plutarch Heavensbee
Just hire an actor to sit behind a raised podium in your yard, and interview passing children as if they are about to enter the Hunger Games. Hilarious!

Just fill your yard with hundreds of old fashioned, antique baby dolls. Position them in vaguely unsettling configurations, and have a speaker playing an adorable little voice repeating, "Mamma! Mamma!" "Feed me! Feed me!" "Baby needs a change!" And

"¡̩̗̂̕D͓̒ark̫̀ ̫̈́Lor̼̽d̈͜,̙͝ w͕̒e ̻̅b̻̿e͖̊see̠̾c̼̀h̟͂ ̈͜ṯ͋hi̯̾ne̳̐ ̳͘ǐ̗n̻͘t̐͢e̛͕rv̪̂ȩ̔nt̳͑iö̫n ̅͢i̧̅n ̱͛th͚̚e̱̽ ̳̈́m͚̒or̈́͟t̜͂al͇̽ ̨̆r̭̐ë̟́ḁ̐l͖̇m̜͛!̼͂"

No child will get anywhere near your house again.

A Clown Ballet
As clowns are obviously not human, they cannot get or spread Covid-19, so there's no need for them to self-isolate. Gather a large crowd of them in your front yard to perform the classic clown ballet, Honk Lake, which features an ordinary clown that is magically transformed into a Volkswagen Beetle. The passing children will not know how to handle the beautiful representation of a foreign culture, and will be so entranced, they will no longer attempt to mooch candy off your porch.

Vegan Candy
The ultimate trick. They think they're getting a delicious treat, and bam! Carob chips and unsalted almonds! Just make sure you light the whole container on fire the next day. You don't want to risk getting any diseases potentially left behind in your bowl. Also it's vegan, so, you know, gross.


So there you go, these are my suggestions for all the various tricks you can play on passing children this year. I know it's not the same as the wonderful treat suggestions that I usually give, but these are extraordinary times, and we all must adapt.

If you want to look back on the way things used to be, you could read all my sweet suggestions from previous years, and wax nostalgic for all the delicious ideas I've given you.

2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018 - 2019

Hopefully we can return to normal next year, and I can suggest more wonderful Halloween handouts, like a full pan of steaming hot lasagna, a used dish sponge, and a homemade egg salad medley complete with eggshells for extra crunch and texture. Mmmmm... I'm getting hungry! See you next year!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Out of Context! - An Affectionate Clothespin

It has been way too long since I posted one of these. I have really neglected my blog this year. I wish I hadn't but things have come up. Despite everything, 2020 was a really busy year, and my blog definitely fell by the wayside. I made a few posts, but my regular series, like my Out of Context Quotes, just didn't happen very much.

But now I'm back! And I have posts coming! I won't say how many, or when, but more are coming! Starting with one of my favorite series! Which is probably only funny to me, but who cares. This is my blog.

Anyway, you know the drill: These are all real quotes, yadda, yadda, they all made sense in context, but I thought they were funnier without.

And of course, full disclosure: Most of these are from me and my cousins. We say weird things. Like a lot, apparently.


"I got these pickles with the face of an old lady."

"I saw someone make a rice pudding that haunted me."

"She is definitely hairy and nubbly."

"I wouldn't mind a few pineapple clumps."

"I'm like a mother who wanted a librarian and got a rocket." 

"It's a lettuce tornado!"

"It's a Baptist vampire."

"I was channeling a punk rock princess."

"You could give her an affectionate clothespin."

"Mmmm... I like gnawing on q-tips." 

"She started collecting a whole bunch of hair from all over the place."

"We're gonna need both our guns for when the burlap comes."

"If you're going to be my pastor, then you should know I make these noises." 

"That's like eating a turkey sandwich and hoping for the best." 

"I figured he'd like little old ladies breaking the law."

"You've always been a shoe baby."

"He was on that commercial with the roadkill that I loved."

"Did you hear about the night Timmy drank the pancake batter?"

"It's so cute how you still make baby otter noises."

"Is a strange man touching your toes?"

If you like these Out of Context posts as much as I do, you can find the entire collection HERE

Friday, July 17, 2020

10 Years!

So, it has been 10 years to the day since I started this blog! I started writing here on July 17th, 2010, because I had been reading all kinds of blogs for several years, and I had really wanted to start my own. It took me forever to actually begin though, because I had to get past my own thinking that I had nothing to write about. That's kind of a theme with me, because I remember wanted to start a diary or a journal when I was a kid, and thinking I either had nothing to write about, or that I needed to start it at the beginning of the year, and then I just never did it.

So, I didn't want to just never start a blog, like I never started a journal, so finally I decided to just go for it. I didn't have a theme, I didn't really have anything to write about, I just wanted to write, so I did. Now it's 10 years later, and I still don't have any real theme, I just write for fun whenever I feel like it.

A lot has changed in the last ten years. Soon after I started this blog I decided to go back to school. I had always wanted to go to art school, so I decided to go for it. I used this blog to chronicle my time at Iowa Western Community College, and to some extent I did the same when I transferred to Iowa State University, though since I switched majors and had a lot less art to share, those posts were a lot fewer and father between than my Iowa Western updates.

I also ended up using this blog, as well a second blog I started in 2011, to explore photography. I still continue to take pictures most everywhere I go, but sitting down and blogging them has proved to be a challenge. I do want to get back to that at some point though, so I guess keep an eye out. I will get back into that eventually.

Nowadays I have a bunch of different projects that I've prioritized over my blog, though everything I do is teaching me new things, so that's not really a bad thing. I have my YouTube channel and podcast, which I have now spun off into a second podcast, and those take up most of my free time. The YouTube channel was another instance, like the blog, or even going back to school, where it was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and finally I decided to just go for it. I seem to make a lot of impulsive decisions like that. I want to do something for ages, and then I just jump into it randomly one day.

Some things in my life seem like they haven't changed at all, like when I started this blog I was living on our family farm, and working at Hy-Vee in Harlan, and even though I moved to Ames to go to Iowa State, and I've now worked at several different places over the last decade, this year I moved back home, and I'm back at the Harlan Hy-Vee. So even though so much has changed, in some ways, nothing has. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, I guess that's all I have for this post. I just wanted to mark the occasion, and I didn't really have anything special in mind. Like I've said multiple times, I have plans for more blog posts, whether it's pictures or writing, but I can't promise timely updates. With all I have going on, they'll probably just happen whenever they happen, but I haven't forgotten about this blog, and I'm going to keep writing. This blog was where I got my start online, and I have no intention of quitting any time soon, so we'll see you next time. :)