Merry Christmas everyone! Today I am having a quiet Christmas all by myself but I am enjoying the time of contemplation and rest. Today I finish my holiday movie watching … Continue reading Merry Christmas 2019
RHAP Con in SLC
Today ended up being a fun little break from my normal routine. I have mentioned before about my love for Survivor on this blog. Part of my enjoyment of that … Continue reading RHAP Con in SLC
Survivor Second Chances
I recently did a post on the current season of Survivor called Survivor 30 Being Annoyed and Abuse.In the post I talked about how mean spirited the season has ended up particularly centering around a woman named Shirin who was verbally assaulted by a fellow castmate named Will in a personal attack that hasn’t been seen on the show before. I was feeling pretty down but found something I could take away from all the conflict. I realized how I can rationalize doing hurtful things to people because their personality is annoying to me which really isn’t a good reason when you think about it.
So I took something away from it and I am curious to see how it all ends (hope for Mike!).
Luckily Survivor didn’t leave us all depressed with season 30 for long. They announced season 31 is going to be called Survivor Second Chances and they are doing something they’ve never done before. They have nominated 32 players, 16 women, 16 men who have all played the game once before. Some of these are old time players from seasons 1 and 2 and others are from the current season 31 including Shirin (hurray!). I’m so excited to see any of these 20 back again but it has been like Christmas for Survivor fans to hear the campaigning and try to decide what people to vote for.
My favorite podcaster over at RHAP has been working overtime to interview as many of the contestants as possible and these are thorough 45 to an hour long interviews which again is like a holiday for fans. We get to hear all about their original seasons plus what they would do differently. We can even provide ideas and suggestions for the upcoming season something that has always been impossible (we usually don’t know the cast until it has already filmed!). So if you are fan of the show it has been a real treat.
To listen to Rob’s interviews go to http://robhasawebsite.com/category/survivor/survivor-second-chance/
The graphic above shows the people I have decided to vote for. I looked at it as if I was a casting director and what mixture of personalities and types would I want on the show. That’s why I have some strong personalities like Troyzan and Abi, some thinkers like Spencer and Stephen, some challenge beasts like Terry and Tasha and some who will play with real heart like Kelly and Woo. The rest are just people that I like a lot and am curious to see what they do. Whoever gets picked it is going to be a ton of fun to see, as I don’t dislike any of them.
I tried to pick people that I think will be positive while still being competitive. Even if there are some feisty one’s I think the one’s I picked keep it to the game and know it is all in good fun. If it is mean like this season and misogynistic I will be very sad. Let’s play hard but have a good time while in the game guys and girls!
Feel free to follow my ballot and vote every day at http://www.cbs.com/shows/survivor/second-chance/
Are any of you voting? Who do you like? Please let me know!
On a side note today is my 7 year blogiversary! That’s 7 years writing my silly thoughts about life. I should do something more important but I’m saving that for post 1,000 which is 2 posts away. Wow!
NYC Trip Day 4: Rainy Goodbye
Quicker than it probably should have the final day of my trip came on Saturday and while I was sad to see it all come to an end I had the beginnings of a wicked virus, my feet hurt and I was tired. Ready to come home you might say.
But fortunately we still had Saturday to enjoy and it ended up being a rainy day in the city. We decided to do a bus tour because we figured that would be better than walking in the rain and I wanted to see the 9/11 memorial before I left.
The bus was fun but I wish it had been more of a tour. There really wasn’t much of one so it was kind of like a wet taxi ride and then to my great annoyance they dropped us off like 8 blocks from the 9/11 Memorial. It was the 9/11 stop and we had to walk forever and again nowhere in NYC has benches to rest. There is also construction at the site and it is very confusing where to enter and go but eventually we found it and I was able to stop for a moment and pay tribute to those who lost their lives on that horrible day.
We didn’t have time to go to the museum but at least we were ale to see the Memorial and then we made it back to the bus and finished the tour. After a quick lunch my shuttle picked me up and it was bye bye New York!
I was exhausted and have been sick all week but it was worth it. It was a great experience to take a risk, do something different and unexpected, a little bit unplanned which is hard for me. Everyone at the RHAP Survivor event couldn’t have been nicer and I’m so grateful to all of them.
I am also grateful to my sister for coming up and spending the time with me at my pace. It is rare I have anyone who is fine walking with me and waiting with me and occasionally listening to me moan and groan over my feet. She was there just to spend time with me and that was really touching. I’m someone who isn’t often doted upon and it meant a lot to me that she did that.
Overall it was a great trip. Highlights were the RHAP event, my trip to Soho Birchbox and video, American in Paris and the yummy food. Thanks New York! Hope I see you again soon!
NY Trip Day 1: RHAP Know it Alls 2
Well, I’m back from New York and I’m afraid I’m sick as a dog but I will try to get up some posts about my recent trip to New York City! I had a blast cold, sore feet and all!
It started Tuesday night with a red eye flight starting at 11:30 western time and getting in at 6 am eastern time.
The flight was ok. I was able to get an upgrade and fly first class both ways which makes the world of difference (I don’t know how I’m going to go back to wedged in coach!). I also had my cool sky ready kit with all you need. I highly recommend getting one when you travel.
I slept a little bit on the plane but not much and certainly not deeply. But I did finish our book club book called Wonder which I thought was ok (I know other people love it but I thought it was kind of corny and didn’t love all the narrators but it was fine). Eventually we landed in New York and I was excited to get going…
Well, it started out kind of rough with me losing my wallet. I’m not sure what happened but my best guess is when I went through security they rearranged my stuff in different bins and I must have left it there. Luckily my ID and Amex were in my backpack or it would have been a disaster. So I called the 2 cards I had in the wallet and got them cancelled when I got to the airport. My phone was running out of juice so I had to buy a charger and find a corner to plug it in and call the companies and try to find out where the shuttle pick up was. It was extremely confusing because the signs said ‘airport shuttle’ take the air train to Fredrick Circle or something like that. I went all the way to the other side of the airport and it turned out it was the spot for the hotel shuttles not the type that I got. I was so tired with no sleep and frustrated at my wallet but finally I got to the shuttle.
Unfortunately the driver was a madman and was zooming through alleys and around town and I was so close to throwing up. I opened the window to get some air but it was big city air and I was beginning to feel like Homer in New York City vs Homer Simpson. The city was out to get me!
A very tired weary creature I made it to the hotel and it was a nice affordable place called The Row in the Theater District of Manhattan. My only regret is not getting a place with a pool/hot tub which would have been nice but it certainly filled the bill for my needs. Once I got there I crashed for a few hours before the festivities started in the afternoon.
I also got breakfast ordered in and that was delicious. Great thing about New York is you can have anything delivered. That would be so nice.
Then around 4 I met up with the other Rob Has a Podcast (RHAP) patrons that were attending the event. Here’s where it started to get fun. We went to a bbq place ( I know bbq is not what you think of in NYC but it worked out) and it was so great visiting with everyone.
It kind of warmed my heart to meet such great people in something as random as a podcast gathering. It can be easy to be cynical of the world and all the problems. All you have to do is watch the news and it can feel like we are all going to Hell in a hurry. But then you have moments like this where you see that there are lots of great people out there trying to live good lives and all it takes is something as silly as a podcast to bring you into a kinship with them. The truth is we aren’t as different as we sometimes think and it was a nice reminder- especially with what a rough day I had getting there.
We then went to Gotham Comedy Club and got ready for the big live Survivor Know It All’s event.
The club was different than I had imagined. I thought it would be like a theater but it was more tables and chairs and they had us jammed packed in. My only regret of the night is there wasn’t enough time to mingle and meet everyone. I have friends I’ve gotten to know through the patron group who I wasn’t able to meet which was a bummer. Next time it would be nice if it was more like a cultural hall kind of space where you could mix and mingle and get around to everyone but it was still really fun.
There was a 2 drink minimum so of course that means 2 shirley temples for me! (No alcohol in STs just in case you were wondering.
Then we all watched the episode together and during the commercials Rob Cesternino (the Rob of Rob Has a Podcast) made different announcements and we got to see his wife Nicole, last seasons winner Natalie (and Miss Survivor winner) and Mr Survivor winner Spencer from Survivor Cagayan get his belt.
Then Rob and Stephen did the podcast and some in the audience had a chance to ask questions. There were a whole bunch of former (and one current) Survivors in the audience and they particpated in the podcast as well.
Once the podcast was over we had to clear out pretty quickly which was a little bit of a bummer but I got the chance to get some photos with some Survivors.
It ended up being a really fun night. After the club wound down we went to another club but I was so tired at that point (I had been up for basically 48 hours!) and my new friend Karen helped get me an Uber ride (what a find that service was) and I went home.
So with all the junk in the 48 hours I had been through it was still worth it to have a unique experience, with some great people and I was glad I took the leap and went on the trip. Worth it!
When I got back to the hotel I got a stramboli which was actually one of the only unhealthy things I had during the trip. Seriously it was one of my most healthy New York trips ever! It was delicious! Great way to end the day.
Stay tuned to the blog for day 2, 3, and 4. In the meantime ‘Achoo!’ I’ll be sneezing away as I recover from this illness. Take care!
The Oddness of Modern Community
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned on this blog I am going to be in New York next week! On Tuesday night I am taking the red eye to the Big Apple and going to be visiting until Saturday! I am so excited because I love New York, get some time off work, see a show, visit with my sister and meet up with a bunch of friends I’ve never met before in real life.
Let me explain that last one for a second. It’s an interesting situation. You guys know I like the show Survivor. I find it fascinating to look at the choices men and women make in the game and how every game is different with a different style of win (except for Sandra who won twice). It’s now going into Season 30 and we have a very promising season with a lot of super fans after season 29 was a super snoozefest.
I would say I was a big fan at the beginning of Survivor and then picked it up again in spurts when there was a Utahn on the show and then with Heroes vs Villains I started watching again regularly. I missed One World and Philippines but got the rest of the seasons but nobody I know is into the show, which is frustrating because it is the kind of show you want to talk about with others.
In fact, I miss the social aspect of movies and TV. In my 20s it was quite common for me to gather with friends and watch American Idol, Survivor, Lost or The Office. Now that never happens. Same thing for movies. Most movies I go to by myself these days.
But around Season 26: Survivor Caramoan I stumbled on a podcast where former Survivors Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach were talking about the show each week and I loved it! A lot of people don’t care for Caramoan but I love Dawn and Cochran and it was my introduction to the podcast and the Rob Has a Podcast Planet.
I think someone could enjoy Rob’s podcast even if they didn’t watch any of his shows. Kind of like I enjoy Car Talk and I hate cars. Rob’s just so personal, funny and engaging. Plus, it was so much fun to get involved on the chatroom and talk about the episode. Again, it reminded me of those times in college when media was a group experience.
Well last year Rob made a proposal to his little planet that if we would support his podcast for .25 cents an episode he would give a monthly patroncast where we could ask questions and set up a patron group to further discuss the show. Wanting to support Rob I decided to become a patron and so I joined the facebook group at the same time. I believe I was in the first 100 patrons in the group. Now I don’t know how many hundreds of us there are but it is an active vibrant group with patrons from all around the world.
We even did a secret Santa last Christmas where I came up with a gift for a woman named Ana from Brazil and I received maple syrup and some bacon bowl makers from a patron named Rebekkah from Canada! Each week we talk about whatever reality show is on (Big Brother, Amazing Race and Survivor being the big 3) but also scripted shows, movies and occasionally other silly news. There have been a few cantankerous souls in the group and some people are too sensitive about spoilers IMO but for the most part its been great!
It sounds crazy but I really feel like it is a community of friends and it seems amazing to me something as silly as a podcast about reality TV could bring people together in a community. It shows it really doesn’t take much to gather people together, especially in the world of social media and the internet. But I think even in real interaction if you can find something you have in common with another person, it can be the silliest thing and yet that is enough to start a friendship and get people talking. I’ve seen it a 100 times that a shared love of dolls, books, Judy Garland, musicals, whatever it is, it’s all it takes to get the ball rolling and create a relationship. Get enough of those balls rolling and you have a community. Kind of amazing!
I’ve seen it with my open water swimming- how a love of the water and being outdoors brings people who have little to nothing else in common together and fast friendships are formed. It seems to me sometimes all it takes is finding that one thing you have in common with someone, no matter how stupid, and you can make it work.
Anyway, when Rob announced they were doing a live podcast in New York on March 11th I initially dismissed it. Who flies across the country after all to listen to a podcast? That’s crazy talk!
But then the rest of the community kept talking about it and it sounded like so much fun. A few weeks ago I decided to look at plane flights just out of curiosity and to my surprise they weren’t half bad, and then I found a hotel which was reasonable and in a safe neighborhood. The idea kept germinating and I finally said
“What the heck! Why not! I’m a super predictable person and for once I’m going to do something strange and fly across the country for a podcast!”
So I got my ticket and it turns out my sister is going to come down the day after the show and we are going to spend a couple days in New York together! It should be a ton of fun!
There is a side of me which still thinks I am nuts for going to a podcast and meeting strangers but another side is really excited (and nervous) to meet all these people I’ve interacted with over the last year. I’ve heard their voice when they call into the podcast. I’ve read their posts, sometimes surprisingly personal and I feel like they are friends. I really do.
I just hope it is a good experience and people aren’t too rowdy. I normally don’t go to places like bars or comedy clubs but it is 300 people and the girl I am sitting with doesn’t drink and there are other dry members of the group so it should be good.
I love being a part of this strange modern community so I hope it is a lot of fun. At the very least it will be something new and different and that is a good thing.
(Plus I get to meet a whole bunch of famous Survivor contestants which I am very excited about!!!).
Have you ever been a part of a community that was unusual or strange? Maybe played bunco with girlfriends for years or have a group of online chess players or something like that? I’d love to hear about your experience. Do you agree sometimes all it takes is finding the one thing you have in common with another person and a friendship can be built?
Well, I look forward to sharing the week with all of you. Take care!
What Collar Am I? Survivor 30
So you guys know I am a big Survivor nut. It’s such an entertaining show and a fascinating look at human nature and the way we interact with one another. What alienates people from one another, gives power, forms bonds, and why they make certain choices never gets old and they are now on season 30! I have seen most of the early seasons and later seasons and playing catch up on the middle (still got Fiji, Palau, Guatemala, Cook Islands and Pearl Islands and a few others to watch).
What’s amazing is given the similar rules of the game each winner has been different and used a different strategy. It makes it a fascinating show to watch. You just don’t know who is going to win.
My favorite season recently was season 28 Survivor Cagayan because of the fantastic casting and one of the most engaging winners the show has ever had- Tony Vlachos. He was building spy shacks, voting off his friends, running around the island and all the while remaining incredibly likable. It was so great to watch.
Season 30 is coming up and this time they are dividing the contestants into 3 tribes of 6 just like in Cagayan (I believe this is the 4th 3 tribe seasons). Cagayan was also a 3 tribes and it was separated into Beauty, Braun and Brains, which at first I had an issue with because I felt they were objectifying everyone, putting a label on. However, it ended up being kind of a wash because there were people on all the tribes who fit all the descriptions so it didn’t end up meaning much.
What’s got me thinking is season 30 has taken a similar approach of labeling the 3 tribes but instead of appearance they are going with careers- white collar, blue collar, and no collar.
Kind of an interesting concept for the show don’t you think? What tribe would you be put on? Their definition of collars according to Jeff Probst is a little wonky with white collar “making the rules”, blue collar “following the rules”, and no collar “breaking the rules”. I don’t know anyone else who would describe it that way but it’s Jeff Probst and he can do whatever he wants when it comes to Survivor (especially after season 29 which was a royal snoozefest…).
So given that further definition what tribe would you be on? I would definitely be on white collar because I have a computer job and I am part of a religion with a lot of rules (although I don’t really make them?). That said, I also have little pieces of no collar in me. I work from home, don’t have a boss and the idea of working in a cubicle ever again makes me want to jump off a cliff.
I feel like most people these days are a mixture of all the collars. What do you think? Now with computers, social media and the internet doesn’t everyone have to be pretty savvy? The days of a large blue collar class of unskilled factory workers and farmers just doesn’t exist much anymore. Even if you are in the service sectors like working as a hairdresser you need a website and facebook page to promote your business or you will get slaughtered. Farmers have to be able to use complicated machinery, same with what factory workers are left in America. It is by no means simple, mindless work of yesteryear.
Do you think this has any effect on our culture as a whole the fact we are collarless? I could see some ways it is a good thing and other ways it might force people into a type of work that is outside their nature. In previous societies there may have been more choices for such people? Does that lead to a whole bunch of depressed blue collar and no collar types who are wedged into white collar? I know the worst time of my life was when I was stuck in cubicle hell every day, never seeing the outside, entering data all day- and I was probably considered one of the lucky one’s with a decent job.
On the other hand perhaps with careers becoming similar there is less class division amongst the 99%. After all, is it really a big deal these days to marry someone who has a different career path than you like it might have been the past? (At this point anyone would be glad for me to just get married!).. I don’t think so as long as you can support a family and have similar values. Perhaps we are becoming a little less judgmental based on jobs because they aren’t that different (or at least have more in common than they used too?).
I don’t know. I certainly don’t feel any smarter or better than those with technical skills because I have an MBA. It’s just a different set of skills but still using a lot of the same stuff I use everyday. In fact, they are probably better than me at more things than I am better than them (if that makes sense…).
Or perhaps the whole idea of self-identifying with your career isn’t as important as it used to be? Maybe our jobs are more of a fluid thing and we will all have periods wearing many collars? I have been hard core white collar in several jobs including as a missionary. Now I’m white with a little dusting of no collar. If I get married and stay home with my kids I guess that is blue collar? I don’t know what collar are stay at home Moms? I’ve worked in food service so that was my blue collar and I was a teaching assistant in college and I’m not sure what collar teachers are?
Now that I have a job I love I do self-identify with it more than my old job but for about a decade people would ask me to introduce myself and my career was one of the last things I would mention. Honestly I think I would say survivor fan before accounting clerk. It just wasn’t how I saw myself. I might have mentioned work from home. I still would be inclined to say ‘I’m collar I would rather be swimming”
Are you that way? Is your job a means to an end or something that is a big part of who you are? Would you see yourself as part of a larger working group, wearing a collar if you will?
Anyway, what do you think? Do you ever watch Survivor and do you think this sounds like a good twist? Would love to hear your thoughts.
As the new season is starting check out Rob Has a Podcast for great post show debate and commentary by former Survivor Rob Cesternino. I love it!
Charity vs Crowd Funding
So I just finished doing my taxes and had a chance to go over my expenses of the previous year, think about 2014 (I am not the best with a budget!). One thing that stood out as I was reviewing my books is what I was able to do for charities over the year. I won’t say much because that is private but I was very happy with how I was able to stretch myself in that regard.
Whether it is donating clothes to DI or giving pocket change to the Salvation Army Santa’s most of us can do more to stretch our influence and give to causes we believe in. If we cannot give money we can volunteer hours or promote said charity on our social media. You can give blood (which I am doing next week and did in December). You could volunteer at schools, churches, and help out friends.
That said, I would like to focus this piece on 2 major ways of monetarily giving to others that are available to us in this day and age- traditional charities and crowd funding.
Are just that traditional. They probably don’t need as much explanation. Churches, not for profits, civic organizations, schools all count as traditional charities. These are great ways to contribute to society and help causes that are near and dear to your heart.
Most of my personal charitable contributions go to my church, LDS Church. Some is also given to Utah Food Bank, March of Dimes, American Red Cross, LDS Philanthropies, United Way etc.
Here’s an example of the kind of good you can do with a contribution to a traditional charity
You can give to such organizations through events like walks and parties or you can make a donation via website or over the phone (even through texting). Make sure that you go through the legit websites and are not responding to emails requesting money.
Also I personally do not make donations from calls as you can never be 100% sure they are who they say they are and since they ask for my credit card I simply tell them I will make a contribution at another time.
Also, make sure if you make a donation that it is an organization with a 501k tax exemption status if it is something you hope to deduct on your taxes. Such deductions can be a nice perk of donating to causes over individuals but some organizations that look like non-profits actually aren’t. Like our local Utah Masters Swim clubs are not 501k exempt.
You can also keep track of miles and purchases if you are a leader in such causes. Donations to political candidates do not count as tax deductible. The same is true for PACs.
Also make sure to get a receipt to verify your donation and remember that any perks given are taken out of the value of the donation. For instance, if I donate to PBS and get a Downton Abbey DVD set the tax deductible portion of the contribution is minus the price of the DVDs.
So Traditional Charity-
pros- set organizations with track record and staff to implement what they hope to accomplish, 501k tax exempt and can deduct on taxes, easy to contribute and help online when crisis occurs. You can’t go wrong with such donations!
cons- less one on one interaction with people you are helping. Can feel corporate and stale. Corporations can suck up a lot of the money you donate in advertising, staffing, etc.
The next way to help others and contribute is collectively known as crowd funding. I recognize I am kind of late on this bandwagon but I hadn’t heard of it until 2012 when swimmer Anthony Ervin mounted a comeback to the Olympics using the website Indiegogo
Ervin is a type of person who hates dealing with the media and corporate sponsorship and when supporting his run me an ordinary person had the chance to help out an Olympian. That’s pretty cool.
There are a number of sites but 4 I will mention here are Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Give Forward and Patreon. Each of these sites tries to duplicate the influence of one investor by building up a fund of many (or a crowd) investors. So if there is a movie or video game that sounds cool you can donate sometimes as little as $5 and receive updates, perks and feel a part of things, which is neat.
A youtube contributor I’ve really gotten into recently is the Nostalgia Critic (beware language on it but very funny). His experience with indiegogo:
There are all kinds of categories on each of these sites- food, sports, movies, music, people. Giveforward.com is another one just for fundraisers (this is more like a traditional fundraiser, no real perks).
Right before Christmas a byu student suddenly died of a brain aneurism after holding his son and they set up a giveforward.com account and have earned 103k for his widow and child. What a neat opportunity to help someone you hear about in the news instead of just reading and moving on.
Other people have more modest goals and requests like ‘help pay for a funeral for our Dad’ or ‘help me get shots for my cat’. Whatever it might be I guarantee you if you go on there you will find causes that tug at your heart strings.
You can also get behind small companies that produce products you like. Last year I donated $75 to Oogave sodas that make lower sugar sodas and I got 3 cases of soda as my perk. Not a bad deal for me and I got to help a company I really like.
I also donated to a set of romance novels being written with a clean perspective, from BYU grads, because I love supporting local authors and I look forward to reading the books. Another one I did was for the Jane Austen board game. I get a copy of the game and it just sounded fun.
Finally you can help artists make more of what you like. A singer that wants to make a new album, a movie to be made, a painting to be painted. Patreon is all about supporting artists and creators (podcasters, youtubers, authors, artists, etc).
Kickstarter is probably the most popular crowd funding site. They set limits that funding has to make in order for the creator to receive that funding. https://www.kickstarter.com
The thing I think is cool about crowd funding is that unlike a traditional charity you get to help an individual and be apart of their journey. I recently started supporting a podcaster I enjoy called RHAP (Rob has a podcast) who does reality TV podcasts (former survivor veteran Rob Cesternino hosts).
While this may not be as noble an enterprise as a widow and a child it is a chance to help someone with a very minor amount do something that he loves and that is pretty great (its about $2-5 a month). I’ll admit it. I don’t do what I love nor do I really know what that is. I’m content with my work and very grateful but it’s not my great passion. It feels neat to help someone else figure that out and succeed.
The downside to crowd funding is that it can be a one time contribution as opposed to the ongoing relationship we can have with traditional organizations. They are also purely monetary and don’t have physical labor opportunities aside from perhaps attending a concert of a performer.
The other big downside is they are not 501k exempt deductions so aside from the perks (which can be awesome) there isn’t a ton of financial advantage to being involved. It’s more about helping someone because you want to help someone not to help your books. And maybe that makes it even better and more touching?
Crowd Funding- (also named Crowd sourcing)
Pros- help individual artists, creators, causes. Get great perks and rewards.
Cons- no tax deduction, risks of not getting rewards (kickstarter is very thorough with the risks of a project), no guarantee like a traditional organization has as far as how the money is used, what is done with it.
Remember that giving time, prayers and energy can be the greatest gifts. So by no means feel guilty if you cannot contribute to any of the above monetarily. I was just thinking about these two avenues and what I would do this year and thought I would discuss it with all of you. And sometimes all we can do is take care of ourselves and I’ve been there and that’s ok too. Time and season for everything.
I’d love to hear about what you have contributed to. What charities do you like? Do you prefer traditional charities with set organizations or helping individuals you know through crowd funding or just helping individuals? Do you like crowd funding? What are your experiences? Do you feel the perks have been worthwhile?
(You can also simply help individuals you know. Like one of my old roommates is from Monroe, OK and I was given a chance to help people she knew affected by the tornado. So many opportunities)