Tag: Rob Cesternino

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.

bye slc

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.

skyreadyI 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!

thecityofnewyorkvs-homersimpson5_thumbA 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.

At the hotel

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.

Yummy breakfast delivered right to my hotel
Yummy breakfast delivered right to my hotel

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.

Here we are at the bbq place.  There were probably 40 of us!
Here we are at the bbq place. There were probably 40 of us!
Made a new friend in Brianne from Washington DC who is originally from Utah and also LDS

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.

know it allsThe 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.

shirley templeThen 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.

nicole rhap
Rob, Nicole and Stephen Fishbach
miss survivor
Natalie Anderson getting her Miss Survivor crown
Spencer getting his Mr Survivor championship belt
Stephen and Rob doing the podcast

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.

Here I am with Spencer and Brice from Survivor Cagayan (one of my favorite seasons)
The man of the hour Rob. So fun to meet this great guy!
Got to meet the twinnies! Nadiya and Natalie who were on the Amazing Race for 2 seasons and Survivor 29. Natalie was the winner of that season.

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.

stramboliStay 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.

rhapWe 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!

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.

popular charities

Traditional Charities-

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.

Crowd Funding-

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.

give forward

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)