Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blog 9: My Last Day

As I sit here in my last class of my college days, I can't help but feel a little sentimental. I have learned so much during my time at UNI. I have met great people (and some not so great), I have had countless eye opening experiences, and I have grown as a person. I have decided upon a career path, and have made valuable connections through my line of work. I have taken classes that don't pertain to my major. I have taken classes that I learned almost nothing in, and I have taken classes where everyday I learned something new.

I have lived with a man from a foreign country, a man extraordinarily different from myself, and 6 of my closest friends. I have lived in the dorms and off campus and seen the benefits of both. I have managed to maintain my sobriety, and my sanity, through all four years. I met a girl, whom I love, and she, and her family, has changed my life forever.

I have stressed myself to the breaking point an come through the other side successful and triumphant. I have been on the brink f failure only to pull myself up at the last minute. I have changed majors; twice. I have passed tests without studying, and bombed them for the same reasons. I have butted heads with professors, and made friends with others. I have struggled through the abysmal scheduling and gotten all most of my credits taken. I have learned the dos and don'ts, ins and outs of being a student.

I look forward to being able to share my experiences with my younger siblings, cousins, and friends. I look forward to being able to help enhance their college experience, so that it may be even better than mine.

But, my journey is not over. I have been accepted to graduate school here at UNI in the field of Leisure, Youth, and Human Services. I will be emphasizing in Leisure services with my end goal to be an administrator in charge of facilities and operations at a large university. I have worked at the UNI Dome and McLeod Center for all four years of my college career. Through working here and moving up in the ranks to where I am now - a Student Supervisor and hopeful Graduate Assistant - I have gained more experience with customer service and crowd control than I thought imaginable for an on campus job. It has lead me to my career path and introduced me to something I am passionate about.

I have not only survived my years at UNI, I have thrived.

 UNI Till I Die!

Blog 8: Game of Thrones Review

Game of Thrones: Season 4; Episode 3

We join Tyrion in his holding cell as he awaits trial for the murder of his nephew, Joffrey, king of the 7 realms of Westeros. Tyrion is the main suspect in the murder after being accused by his sister, queen Cersei, after having watched her first born son die in her arms. Grief stricken, she demands Tyrion be locked up and tried for murder. 

Sansa is smuggled out of the city by the fool, formerly Sir Dantos. Once out of the city, they board a small row boat which they use to get to a larger ship waiting in the harbor. Aboard the ship is none other than Lord Littlefinger, Petyr Baelish. He reveals to Sansa that it was he who was the mastermind behind her escape, and it was he who planted the necklace that was eventually Joffrey's downfall, although nobody would ever know. Now, it is his intent to wed the lady of The Vale, Lysa Aryn, Sansa's aunt. They set off for The Riverlands. 

Arya and the Hound continue their journey through The Riverlands towards The Vale where the Hound plans on ransoming Arya to her aunt Lysa for a cosiderable amount of gold before being on his way. They happen across a farmer and his daughter. The farmer inquires as to who the Hound fought for at the Red Wedding, having not recognized who he is. Arya lies to the man an says they fought for House Tully. The man invites them to his home for supper and offers the Hound work. "Honest work for honest pay," says the man, to which the Hound agrees. The next morning, Arya awakens to a scream and find the Hound standing over the farmer having apparently just robbed him of his silver. "They'll be dead by winter, and silver is no good to a dead man," the Hound tells Arya as they ride off.

Davos Seaworth remains scrambling for a way to regain favor with King Stannis and begins to concoct ideas of obtaining a new army. However, Davos realizes Stannis simply does not have the funds needed to produce an army, so he seeks out the Iron Bank of Bravos in hopes of a loan. 

Sam has Gilly moved to the brothel in Mole's Town for her own safety as an attack on the Wall is imminent and he wants her and her child nowhere near the battle. Back at the Wall, Jon tries to warn the acting commanders of Mance Raider's army and roounds up a crew to march on Craster's Keep to kill the betrayers that still reside there. Mance and his army must not get any information pertaining to how weekly the wall is actually manned, and killing those that would give him such information is the only way to prevent it. 

Dany takes her army to the gates of Mereen, another slave city she plans on freeing. Dario Naharys, one of her newly appointed generals, easily disposes of Mereen's champion in single combat. This leads to the fear of Mereen's masters as Dany calls out to them to revolt as they outnumber their masters 3:1.  

Blog 7: American World Cup Analysis

With the World Cup fast approaching in sketchy  lovely Brazil, the United States National Team manager Jurgen Klinsman needs to begin to zero in on a twenty-three man roster. There has been a lively debate among supporters of the club as to whether he should take an older, yet more experienced squad, or if he should bring in the young guns with great talent but a lack of international experience.

Many supporters leans towards the latter strategy due to the "Group of Death" that the United States finds themselves in. This group includes: 1)Portugal, widely known for their great team speed, flashy play, and having arguably the best footballer on the planet on their squad in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. 2) Germany, considered by many to be the best international club in the world who have seen the older US players before. 3) Ghana, possibly Africa's best international club and the team responsible for knocking the United States out of the past two World Cups. Some lack of experience with these teams may prove useful.

The main argument being made for the older, more experienced crew is due to their great international experience.

Klinsman is challenged with finding the three or four best strikers to score goals for the United States. A shoe in is Clint Dempsey of Seattle Sounders fame. Dempsey currently leads the MLS in goals scored, but had a dismal showing in a recent stint with European club Fullham, only scoring 1 goal. Another likely spot goes to Jozy Altidore, a player representing the United States in the Barclay's Premier League. Although, there is some argument to be made that Klinsman would be better off taking someone currently more "in form" as Altidore has been struggling of late. Some of these struggles may be attributed to the overall lack of team success as well, seeing as how Sunderland has been fighting relegation from the Premiere League. Chris Wondolowski seems to be the front runner for the third attacking spot. At the age of 30, it would be his first World Cup appearance, but the form he has been in during qualifiers and recent friendly matches has been impeccable. Aaron Johanson of Icelandic American decent is the dark horse in all of this and seems poised to replace Altidore or Wondolowski should one of them drastically fall out of form or get injured.

The midfield of the United States is considered the strongest point of the team with MLS stalwarts Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, and Brad Evans residing around the center of the pitch. All four of these players are well experienced in both the World Cup and international play in general, with Donovan being the hero of four years ago scoring the tying goal against England in outstanding fashion.

The back four of the Americans is seemingly the teams weakest point. Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, and Geof Cameron seems the most likely combination for the USA backline with Maurice Edu and Demarcus Beasely making cameo appearances in relief.

Fortunately for the weak USA backline, they have world class goalkeeper Tim Howard of England's Everton between the posts. Backing him up is equally capable, but someone less known, Brad Guzan. Howard has been the American's go-to keeper for the better part of a decade.

The final decision date has already been pushed back once by Klinsman because the competition in training has been so intense. It will be interesting to see how this pans out for the American side, as their initial goal will be to escape the group stage.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Project 2: Life of a Traveler

"The life of a traveler is never easy, but it can be most rewarding." This is the way one particular plane hopper views her job and lifestyle. Star Sneller, a higher up employee of a Fortune 500 company, travels, on average, 1.5 weeks out of every month. You'd never know that by looking at her. Always bubbling with energy, always the life of the party. This is a big step down from when she first signed on with the company. At that time, she was approaching every week at a different site throughout the United States.

Star's job requires her to be in charge of 8 different sites throughout the nation. They are all in different states, spanning the length of the country. She has sites in Ponca, Oklahoma; Spokane, Washington; Sterling, Colorado; Moralton, Arkansas; Wilton, Maine; Lakefield, Florida; Nogales, Arizona; and Bismark; North Dakota.

Along her travels, she has managed to make an appearance in countless cities, 43 states, and at least 9 countries. She has had breakfast with Mickey Mouse, lunch with Super Bowl champions, and dinner with celebrities. She has gone bungee jumping in Arizona, saved a man's life in a restaurant in Florida, and gotten lost in Maine. Star has almost done it all.

"This lady has to be single then" you might be thinking. Not a chance. She has a loving husband of close to 25 years and two children whom are attending college. Photos of them and the rest of her family line the fridge and walls of her home.

How do they handle her being gone so much? "It's honestly just routine at this point," says her oldest son, a senior in college. "About once a month we will get a text with where she is headed that week. Usually Denver or Tampa, hard to feel bad for her down there when it's been a record breaking winter here." Do you even miss her at this point? "Of course we miss her. But at the same time, we are in college so her being in a different state doesn't affect us as much as it would've in highschool. That got rough sometimes, her not being able to make it to some stuff or be around to help out with homework. But God bless her she never missed a football game for either of us. Whatever it took, she'd be back for Friday night."

When you think about it, that is actually an insanely difficult feat to pull off. Six years of highschool football games (for an admittedly sub-par team) and through cancellations, weather delays, and a plethora of unforeseen circumstances, she never missed a Friday night where her children were playing. Her younger son weighed in on this too: "She's amazing. It's really that simple."

Star is a member of the platinum million miles club for Delta airlines. In short, she basically gets whatever she wants when she flies with them because she gives them so much business. She also has an ever increasing abundance of hotel loyalty points that she is more than willing to share with her friends and family. Her view on it being that there is no way she could use them all. "I sent my son and his girlfriend to New York to see a friend of his last year during spring break for essentially nothing. I love being able to do that," she says.

Star has some stories of her own that's for sure. She talks about a time where she was out with clients at a dinner in Tampa, Florida when a man at the table next to them began choking. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around the man's midriff and performed a perfect Heimlich maneuver. Needless to say, they got that client's business.

At a recent Denver Nuggets game, she got to meet and take pictures with a current Denver Broncos player, Malik Jackson. Her son, a longtime, huge fan of the Broncos, was incredibly jealous. "I hear my phone buzz and see it's a pic from mom." he says, "Open it up and there she stands next to Malik. Not to mention she was in a luxury suite at an NBA game. Just another day in the office for her."

Seeing the Nuggets play might not be as cool to her as it is to her sons or husband, but the rest of Denver, and the whole of Colorado might make up for that. She has dined in the John Elway's restaurant, the premiere eatery in Denver. "It was just surreal to be sitting there, in Denver, in John Elway's restaurant. "I'd move to Colorado in a heartbeat. It's so beautiful there with the mountains."

Colorado isn't her favorite site to visit, however. "Maine is absolutely gorgeous. Everything about it is beautiful," Star says. She has a story about Maine too. She got lost there once. "I turned either either before or after the GPS told me to because it hadn't been updated yet for the construction on the road. I ended up 30 miles away from where I wanted to go in the mountains before I could finally turn around. It took me three hours to go 45 miles." Looking back now she laughs while telling it, but she admits it was very scary at the time.

Star has come to appreciate the cultures she has been exposed to as well. Even here in America, she has realized there are many different cultures and ways of life. "The food! Maine has some great lobster shops that I will never get to enjoy. I'm allergic to seafood unfortunately, but the South has great food. In Nogales, you're only 10 miles from the border of Mexico. Naturally, that is some of the best Mexican I've had."

Surely someone that travels so frequently has seen her fair share of celebrities around town? You betcha. Off the top of her head she can list Miley Cyrus, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Justin Bieber's mom. "I was in the Atlanta airport in a shop and I see this huge guy get off the escalator and stand there with his arms folded the way secret service does. The clerk says 'O, here come's Justin's mom. She's in here all the time with her bodyguard.'" Good to see that Star doesn't just know who Justin Bieber's mom is then. That'd be weird.

It takes a tole on her too though, all the traveling she does. "You effectively lose two days of your life out of every week. Hopping time zones means you don't really have a full day, especially when there are layovers and inclement weather." She has been sick on the road before and had to stay overnight one more time before she was fit to fly again. She has been part of emergency landings and day long cancellations. She had been delayed more times than she can even guess at, too. But through it all, she continues her travels; because she loves it.

Her job has opened an endless number of doors and has even given her the opportunity to live in a different country. She spent a year of her life living in Ireland before she could no longer stand to be away from her family, the bi monthly visits and long distance, extended phone calls just weren't cutting it anymore. So what did she do? "I brought them with me! I told the company move me back and have the branch fail or move my family to me." So the company did just that.

Now, with her kids in school away from home and her husband busy with the improving housing market and the middle of every hunting season imaginable, she has begun traveling a bit more frequently. "Soetimes I hate my job because I'm a manager and I have to fly down somewhere solely to reprimand or fire someone. But then I remember that this has presented me with so many opportunities. I can't imagine my life without it being classified as 'the life of a traveler'".

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blog 6: Donald Sterling

Sterling; Silver: Unpolished

Recently, Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, was caught on tape making racist remarks. His mistress girlfriend (Sterling and his wife are long separated, not divorced) posted a picture to her Instagram account of her at a Clippers game with Magic Johnson. Johnson, a former NBA star famous for an abundance of things, is black. Here is where the trouble starts. 

In the tape, Sterling asks his girlfriend to "not bring blacks to my games. Don't take pictures with them and put them online. Do you have to be affiliated with them?" The tape continues in a similar manner with Sterling making it incredibly apparent that he is unhappy that his public girlfriend affiliates herself with people of color. Here's the kicker, the woman in this situation is HALF BLACK, HALF MEXICAN. Yeah, no Caucasian or "white" in her at all. Pot, meet kettle. 

In light of these events, the recently appointed new NBA commissioner Adam Silver was faced with his first major decision. How does the NBA handle this situation? If you do nothing, it gives the impression that you simply don't care about what was said, or worse that you as a league SUPPORT what was said. Being that the NBA is a majority black league, this cannot happen. 

On the other hand, if you as the NBA commissioner for Sterling out of ownership, you open a can of worms that needs be avoided. This route sets a precedent where anything anyone in the league has said, publicly or privately, is up for debate and able to come under scrutiny. So now, if an owner of one of the most valuable franchises in the sport can be forced out, nobody is safe. 

So what do you do?

Silver, in a bold statement of power and authority, banned Donald Sterling for life from all NBA activities. Can of worms: opened blown up. On top of the lifetime ban, sterling was fined $2.5 million - the maximum amount that can be fined per the NBA constitution. Admittedly, this is a drop in the bucket for someone with Sterling's wealth, but it was a necessity with whatever the punishment ended up being. Sterling was also strongly advised to sell the franchise. Valued at roughly $550 million, buyers - including people such as Oprah Winfrey and Floyd Mayweather - are already lining up at the chance to own this team, and the bidding war, if it happens, is expected to rise above $1billion. 

The majority of the country has praised Silver's actions. But a few analysts and fans have spotted the new issue: the precedent has been set, presuming the NBA governors (the owners in the NBA) get a 3/4 vote (expected to be unanimous 29-0), Sterling will be forced to sell. This means anyone can be forced out; nobody is safe. 

It is also interesting to note the absolute uproar that arose from these statements. While what I say next may ruffle some feathers, it's not untrue. This type of incident can't still cause problems. The guy is 80 years old, grew up in a time where segregation was still a thing, and was, in good likelihood, raised by racist parents. People are surprised by this? People are genuinely surprised he said something like this? Naturally, the man has a strong set of views deeply engrained in his mindset and thought process. It is true that racism needs to be vanquished, but it is an ongoing process, it cannot be done with just one foul sweep.

Sterling has practically lived in court throughout the majority of his adult life, so an appeal or lawsuit is very much expected to happen. This will prolong the process into a saga rather than an incident. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the future. 

Blog 5: "Live Tweet" from QUASH

On April 25th I attended the annual UNI QUASH event. Unfortunately, my phone died mid updates as the teams began to return. It was however, a great turnout for the event and they raised a lot of money for Alzheimer's research.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blog 4: Ad & Promo Interview

Today, I interviewed Jennifer Williams of Me&V(an advertising, public relations, and marketing strategist business for companies nationwide). Williams is a senior copywriter and marketing strategist for the company. Her job consists of composing the "copy," or words, for advertisements that the agency puts out. She also has final say on all proof readings and messages the agency releases. She seemed to love her job and, from what I could tell, the place she works.

"I like to talk about this type of surf," she told me when I posed my first interview question. I explained that this was an assignment for class and we were required to ask what advertising formats they use, if any. She was very one to taking about what they do, saying that the book, while useful, is way over the top. "Sure, we use some of this stuff, but we don't name them. We don't call them "Copy Heavy" or "Frame". We just make the advertisement work for what we are advertising."

It was interesting to interview someone in the ams field as the professor that instructs the class the assignment was in. Williams, or the company through her, had a very different approach to how ads should be done. They believe in humanizing advertisements and that ads without humans in them don't really do much for results.

Williams really went through and picked apart the advertising book, claiming "this is more of a book for a the design element of advertising." This was interesting to hear as we have been drilled all summer that this book covers the vast majority of advertisements when, apparently, it does not.

The interview put into perspective how some professors teach their subject. While I don't agree with the "read the book, lecture the book, test the book" strategy that some professors use, I do believe that the text should have some relevance to the class. So when you take your text book to an interview with a professional that has been in the field for 20+ years and they do everything but say "this book is crap," it makes it hard to take seriously.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Project 1 : UNI Wrestling

"You can run on for a long time. Run on for a long time. Run on for a long time. Sooner or later God'll cut you down. Sooner or later God'll cut you down...."

Amidst the sound of Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down", enters the starting lineup for the Panthers. One by one they jog across the mat, shake hands with the opponent, and return to their bench. Enter coach Doug Schwab as he makes his way to center mat to shake hands with the visiting coach and official before he, too, makes his way to the bench. Now entering his 4th year as the Panther's head coach, these are all his boys, and he's about to show the nation what they can do. 

The 2013-2014 wrestling season is underway. 

The season may have kicked off two weeks prior to tonight, but this is the real deal, this is the first home meet. A chance for everyone at home to see what Coach Schwab has been so excited about all summer. And to top it all off, it's against a "big boy" school from a "big boy" conference: Wisconsin. 

The dual starts off at the 165 pound weight class, and Northern Iowa's Cooper Moore easily handles the first home match of the season defeating his opponent in a major decision 13-2. The rout is on. There are some close matches within the next three weight classes, but UNI wrestlers all walk away with their hand raised in victory with one wrestler, returning All-American Ryan Loder, picking up his 100th career victory. 

UNI drops it's first match at the heavyweight class as Wisconsin's Connor Medbery, ranked 6th in the nation, quite literally escapes with, and holds on to a win against UNI sophomore Blaize Cabell, 2-0. With the match score now at 13-3, the wrestlers of the 125 weight class step onto the mat. For UNI, that spot is reserved for highly touted redshirt freshman Dylan Peters, and he quickly shows the crowd why. Peters, entering the match claiming the number eight ranking in the country, pins his man with thirty-two seconds left in the first period. 

This spurns UNI on to winning the next four matches before Jarrett Jensen would fall to 6th ranked Isaac Jordan, which is nothing to hang your head about seeing as Jordan finished the season 24-4 overall. At the end of the match, Jensen and his teammates could stand tall as they had handily defeated the Badgers of Wisconsin 29-9. 

So THIS is why Coach Schwab has been excited all summer. The team has "bought in" to his way of doing things: "Expect to win. Score and attack. Above all, compete."

Coach Schwab's way of doing things started an hour north of Cedar Falls in Osage, Iowa, where he grew up with his two older brothers; both of which would go on to wrestle at the collegiate level and become All-Americans for Northern Iowa. Doug took a different route and ended up wrestling for Iowa, one of the premiere wrestling schools and teams in the nation. During his time as a Hawkeye, he was a three-time All-American and Big Ten champion. He also won the 1999 NCAA championship at 141 pounds in an excitingly fast paced match. After finishing his career with 130 total victories - ranking him 10th all time in Iowa's historic program - he represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics. 

Upon graduation, Schwab joined on as an assistant coach to wrestling great Tom Brands at Virginia Tech. From there, he returned to Iowa and became an assistant coach for the University of Iowa wrestling team from 2006-2010. It was then that the opportunity to fulfill his dream arose. 

Coaches Doug Schwab(left) and brother Mark 
"It's always been my dream, ever since I started wrestling, to be a coach. Not just any coach, but a head coach and be able to run my own program, to see what I can do," says Schwab as he sits behind his large, well polished wooden desk. Although, that desk is by far and away the fancies thing in his office. Everything about the room screams wrestler: multiple pairs of wrestling shoes, workout clothes everywhere, a very large and comfortable couch, room dividers set in a ramshackle way giving the illusion of a wall between he and his assistant coaches' offices, a white board with the year's pin count on it, and a seemingly endless supply of Mt. Dew. You can tell, he loves everything about it. 

"UNI has its own history here, as I'm well familiar with after watching my brothers come through here. Now that one coaches with me, it's all the better to be able to add to this tradition." 

The tradition he speaks of so fondly is embodied in the northern most hallway of the West Gym. There, pictures and plaques plaster the wall. Past All-Americans, former National Champions, even former Olympic Champions are embodied upon the walls as you walk down the hall. Inside the wooden double-doors on the north wall, there is the Bill Koll Wrestling Room. The room is named for William "Bill" Koll who is a 3 time NCAA champion, among a plethora of other accomplishments. Inside the wrestling room itself hangs a sign spanning the width of the room displaying Northern Iowa's past NCAA Champions. In the corners of the sign, it lists UNI Olympians, and the years they have been the team National Champion, 1950, 1975, 1978. Some might go so far to say they're due. 

His office is stationed in the West Gym, where all of the Panther's home meets are located, even the larger ones such as Oklahoma, Missouri, and in state rival Iowa State. "There's a definite advantage to the West Gym," says Schwab "the fans are right on top of you, so it gets louder than some larger arenas. When it comes to big meets like the Iowa State one, sure it would be cool to have it in the McLeod Center, but I actually prefer the West Gym. I would rather have a full capacity West Gym at 3,000 screaming fans right on top of the match than a half full McLeod Center." Well, can't say there would be much disagreement there. "Plus, the guys are familiar with it. There's a place to warm up, there's the wrestling locker room with all of their stuff already in their, and it's that comfort level here that actually helps them perform better." 

Speaking of performing better, the Panthers check in midway through the season ranked 5th nationally as a team, their highest ranking since 2005. Not too shabby for a first time head coach. "I credit a lot of that to the hard work of the athletes and coaches." In the 4 years Coach Schwab has been at UNI, there have been exactly zero coaching changes. That is almost unheard of anymore, and that is an astounding model of consistency, a key factor to any successful team. 

He will never say it, but a large part of it also comes from his and his assistants' ability to recruit high school athletes to the team. Dylan Peters, mentioned prior as a highly touted redshirt freshman, was being recruited by both Iowa and Minnesota as well as UNI. He chose Coach Schwab over the two national powerhouses. If that doesn't qualify as going toe to toe with the big boys on the recruiting trail, then nothing will. 

So what's the ultimate goal here coach? Where do you see this program heading? "I want to be the top in the country, I want nothing more than to bring that back here. And I think we can do it. I can't see myself stopping until we do, anyways." 

Well, it would seem the Panthers are definitely on the right track. They finished the regular dual season undefeated with a perfect 13-0 record - the first time that has happened in nearly 60 years for Northern Iowa - and are sending 7 wrestlers to the NCAA tournament with 5 ranked within the top 15 of their respective weight class. One wrestler, senior Joe Colon, is the number one seed in the 133 lb. weight class. 

Coach Schwab and all 38 of his wrestlers are gearing up for the long hall and they only have one message: they are here, and they are here to stay. 


**Basic Team Scoring Rules for Collegiate Wrestling**

3 Points - decision
4 points - major decision
5 points - technical fall (winning by 15 or more)
6 points - Pin (or forfeit)

More in depth rules available here.

Blog 3: Networking: Just ask!

Lately I've been reading a book - I Was Write All Along: The Need to Write Came Early by Richard Dietl. It is an autobiographical type of book, which is not normally my cup of tea, but this book is different. This time I've met the author, and all it took was saying to him "Wow! That was a big hit!"

It was the last game of the UNI Panther's home schedule and I was working the game, as usual, as a student supervisor and crowd manager. I found myself standing next to an elderly gentleman who seemed to be watching the game alone and also seemed even more captivated by the sport than I was (that's saying something). After a particularly hard tackle, I merely turned to him and said "Wow! That was a big hit!" He chuckled and began talking to me about how football used to be when he played, and then coached. I asked him where he coached, his response? UNI. He had coached with Sheriff, the man the field is named after. From there, I found out, he made his way through college athletics occupying an assortment of positions, even a couple of stints as an athletic director before ending up as the sports information director for the University of Oregon. He eventually pulled out a copy of his book from his coat to show me, and I promised him I would read it someday. To this day I find it hard to believe that I actually met this guy beneath the "Section L" sign in the UNI Dome just because I stopped for a break. 

This encounter opened up my mind to people's stories. So, I have begun networking more and more. I have found, much to my surprise, it is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is ask something, really anything, and let the conversation roll from there. Of course, sometimes you may have to steer a conversation in a particular direction if you know the person you're talking to can be of assistance, but that is usually not a problem. 

For instance, just this weekend I was working the annual antique show that passes through the Cedar Valley. I had been working for two days alongside the woman in charge of it and her husband but I knew nothing about them. So, during a down moment, I merely asked the her how she got into this business. I won't bore you with the story (not to say it was boring, just not entirely relevant), but I found out that her husband is in the business of Arena management. Well then! Now we're in business. 

I strike up a conversation with her husband by asking (already knowing the answer) if this was his full time gig. This got him to tell me who he was and what he does  - he is in charge of the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Yeah, turns out this guy runs the Huskers' basketball stadium. (Cha ching!)

I explain to him I'm interested in the field and we continue talking throughout the day. I actually assisted him with clearing up some problems they were having with the televising of the women's basketball game. Before the event ends, he ends up giving me his business card and tells me to shoot him an email when it comes time to look for jobs and he will see what he can do. 

Boom, simple as that, and all I did was ask his wife "Why antiques?" By no means am I guaranteed a job now, but I have one more person who knows my name, and that is really what networking is all about. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blog 2: "It's Beautiful" - A Beautifully done commercial

In case you, for some reason, were not watching the Superbowl (we won't talk about the outcome) then you probably missed Coca-Cola's surprisingly controversial commercial. It is available for viewing below. 

For those that didn't watch, it is a series of clips of people - presumably Americans - living life while "America the Beautiful" is played in the background. The kicker here is that it is a multi-lingual version of "America the Beautiful". This caused a bit of an uproar. 

The message of course is one the Coke has portrayed for years as it is a global company with an American base and it is apparently for the diversification of America. 

I will admit, at the start of the commercial, once the song switched languages, I had a very real problem with it. The first language was Spanish and I thought it was going to be some Spanish heritage commercial but using an incredibly patriotic song. However, once the third language kicked in and it became apparent it was a Coke commercial, all was forgiven. Seeing as I had this knee jerk reaction not 5 seconds into the commercial, I wasn't all that surprised to hear of outrage spreading across Twitter and other social media platforms; #SpeakAmerican was trending. 

I was fine with people being mad about the commercial for singing that particular song in a non-english language, and I was fine with people forgetting that this country was founded by immigrants. After all, being ignorant is what people do. best. However, #SpeakAmerican? Really? America has no national language, so that settles that argument. 

A few of my favorite tweets:

Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful

-Todd Barnes (@toddbarnes) February 2, 2014

An american song in like 10 different languages #(expletive)coke #teampepsi
— James Butler (@jbutler6499) February 3, 2014

Actually, this whole DeadSpin page is pretty entertaining. Warning, foul language. 

Although, it wasn't all negative feedback. Many people thoroughly enjoyed and embraced the message of diversity that Coke was conveying. People across the internet praised the commercial with sentiments such as "I haven't loved my country like this in a long time. Thankful for the reminder." and "I am in love with this commercial and don't care who knows!"

This beautiful commercial has exposed the harsh truth that there are still far too many ethnocentric people living in this world. It has exposed that we as a country have forgotten where we came from - we were all immigrants once. It has exposed that people have seemingly given up on the idea of  the"melting pot" society that the United States is supposed to be. It has exposed us to the world as a country of unaccepting, uneducated, bigots. 

On another note, what seemingly went unnoticed at first, and perhaps this is a glimmer of hope for our country, is that the commercial featured what is documented as the first gay couple ever shown in a Superbowl advertisement. So not only did Coke test the water with this commercial, it jumped right in without testing the temperature. Bravo Coca-Cola. Absolutely outstanding. 

Perhaps it is because I go to UNI, which seems to have a "large" LGBT community and an even larger acceptance of it, that I am almost unaware of things such as the couple in the commercial. I know I missed it the first time around and had to actually go look for it once I heard about it. I can only hope that, by being further exposed to other people with different ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles, that our generation will be able to make things like this a non factor in the future. 

This advertisement for Coke is a stroke of genius; it did exactly what is was supposed to do. We are still talking about it 2 days after the fact; how many commercials can say that? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blog 1: Concert Review

If you tried to drive down Hudson Road this past Friday night, you probably had a bad time. As you may have noticed, 22,000 people were headed to the UNI Dome for country music star Luke Bryan's 3rd trip to Cedar Falls and the University of Northern Iowa. This time, Luke Bryan was the main attraction, as his previous trips he was either a warm up act or only sold out the McLeod Center; still a respectable 7,000 person crowd, but not quite on the same scale as Friday.

The show was a hit, and as Luke Bryan announced to the crowd that "It was my dream to sell out the UNI Dome!" the stands erupted with cheers. After playing a full hour over his regularly scheduled end time and thrilling the concert goers with a two song encore, he was off to Omaha, Nebraska for another show the next day. Those attending the show promptly left the building, not so much the parking lot, and went home after an evening of excitement. What the average concert goer wouldn't know is how much work went into setting up for that concert, and how much remained to be done post-show.

Here is roughly a 1 minute summation for you. (from Facebook)

If you took the one minute and fourteen seconds to watch that video, you now have an idea of how much work went into setting up the staging, lighting, and floor seating. If you didn't read the description or watch carefully, you probably missed the clock under the scoreboard. Setting up the entire stage and chairs took a total of about 42 hours, or three straight fourteen hour work days. If you counted, there were no less than twenty-five semi-loads of staging, production equipment, and sound gear moved in as well as a full sized crane. Catch all that? How about the upwards of 200 people that assisted in set up? The 5,400 individually labeled chairs on the floor? This set up makes UNI's May Graduation Commencement look like child's play.

During the concert itself, all phases of planning must come together in unison for it to go smoothly. For this particular event, a sort of command post was utilized. It operated as a dispatch center, where someone would radio in with a problem, and the command center would radio to the nearest available person able to take care of it. Workers from all platforms are instructed to watch the crowd instead of the actual concert and monitor for any problems or potential trouble makers. All of this for the safety of 22,000 strangers, most of which have been drinking, some heavily, and some that just want to take a swing at you. I know of at least one employee that left with a heavily bruised jawbone.

Post show, the stage, chairs, lighting, sound boards, video boards, and everything else took a mere twelve  hours to completely tear down and loaded out. When you compare that to the monumental number of man hours that went into planning, setting up, and putting on this type of event it seems ludicrous to even consider doing such a thing. But take a second to consider how much good it has done the community. Money from outside of the community was brought in and spent here, making the university and community more profitable. It brought our university to light for those that were previously unaware of everything our university and the UNI Dome has to offer.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14th, 2014

Snow Fall/Elyse's Video

To hear Elyse Saugstad talk about the avalanche that almost took her life, you would be astonished at how calm and collected she remains. All things considered, it seems as though she simply awakened from a horrifying nightmare rather than survived a very real catastrophe. Elyse very simply describes being trapped in the avalanche as "like being stuck in a washing machine. I didn't know which way was up, I didn't know which way was down." A simple way of putting it, but extremely effective.