Gluten-Intolerant Life

Cutting out gluten to see if you feel better

Feeling better

Passing on free cake and cookies at every social function

Going to bars and brew houses

Realizing you’ll never drink good beer again

Juggling + Mentoring

Intentionally and unintentionally, I’ve done a lot of mentoring as of late. Time consuming, but immensely rewarding. A pattern of advice has emerged through the process; here’s one such exercise I’ve recommended several times this past month to help people with busy schedules maintain sanity and liberty within their own lives.

I call this the

Do I Have Time for X? Test

Complete this test whenever you are positioned to add something onto your already bursting plate of “shit-to-do:”

  1. Grab a pen & big piece of paper.  
  2. Find a secluded space for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Without any hesitation, start writing down all of the things that you have on your mind as they come to you—all of the things you know/think you have to do, all of the special events you need to attend, all of the obligations you’ve been saddled with. Do not pay attention to the order, just write them down as quickly as you can, with as much detail as you care to add in that moment. Write until you have to strain to think of things on your plate. In my experience, once you write down some semblance of “eating,” all the important stuff has been penned.
  4. Now, just soak in that list. Note that the really important things are the ones at the top, the things that you should probably care more about are in the middle, and try to find the neglected item near the middle or bottom that really should be at the top of the list. Pay attention to the fact that your personal well-being and health probably didn’t make the list.
  5. Now, think about that thing, X, that you were contemplating adding to this list. Is this thing more important than the first half of the list? If not, you probably shouldn’t do X.

That said:

Look what I edited recently! It was definitely something I didn’t have time for in the grand scheme of my list:

Advice

This afternoon someone emailed me with a commonly asked question:

Happy Monday! Bleh. Could you give me some advice? I am trying to put together an online portfolio/website to send to possible employers.
 
First I tried Tumblr, then it got weird. Then I looked up articles about what everyone else is using, and the top ones were WordPress, Pressfolios, Flavors, and About.me. Dunno if you are familiar with any of those besides WordPress, I just assume you are because you seem to be a journalism genius (I’m not brownnosing). If I do use WordPress, do I sign in through the University or just WordPress not-affiliated with UofO? ANYway, what’s the best way to go about compiling the shred of work that I have for people to see? Any tips? I’m trying to get an internship this summer so I just wanna impress all the head honchos out there. 

To which I replied:

I don’t bother with other CMS (content management systems) because working with wordpress serves 2 functions.
  1. It gives me a space that I can reasonably customize for $26/year
  2. Learning WordPress is a very valuable skill out in the real world. Many organizations use WordPress, and knowing how to navigate their CMS from day 1 is a huge bonus. Alternatively, many organizations don’t have a website (or a very good one), which means I can easily design a new, fancy, functional and friendly website for anyone in less than 6 hours with my knowledge of WordPress if I needed to—something I could bring up in an interview and not be lying about. Also a huge bonus, IMO. 
Honestly, though, other than the above reasons, I see no benefit from one CMS to another—just as long as what you have looks organized, is functional, and has your name on it, you should be good to go.
 
If you do decide to go WordPress, I do not recommend using blogs.uoregon.edu—you’ll have to migrate your site after you graduate, which is the biggest pain in the ass. WordPress.com is a good place to start. In the long term, and when you have more time, look into web hosting + WordPress.org—that’s the only way you’ll ever have an original site, but that kind of things is most definitely not important. Never forget that you’re not selling your website design skillz, you’re a storyteller. That’s what counts in your portfolio—your stories!

Hope this helps!

ProSem Reflection 1

For Pro Seminar, a graduate course I’m taking, I’ve been struggling for meaningful takeaways from some of the readings. It struck me, today, that I ought to use the powers of internet memes to help me out.

McRobbie: Post-Marxism and Cultural Studies (what I read, and much more here)

Grad School

This last term was, put mildly, crazy business.

I co-produced a music video:

I produced a documentary:

I was also accepted into the Communications and Society masters program at the University of Oregon on full scholarship. I’ll be a graduate teaching fellow in the fall, and excitedly working with Carol Stabile in my scholarship of video games.

I was also placed on a panel for the Console-ing Passions Conference, and I started working as a research for Chris Birke.

Somehow, I also juggled 2 part-time jobs, a social life, and my managing editor position with FLUX Magazine.

I know that one day I’ll look back on my undergraduate years as cushy and full of excitement, but a single person can only take so much fun.

FLUX Update

The multimedia department with Flux Magazine has increasingly demanded my love and attention this last month. We put up 3 stories by the end of last term, and I hired 8 more producers to the staff. For those of you interested, my staff is now the size of a small class in and of itself (18 people!). Maybe it’s the inner GTF in me—we’ll get to that in a moment—but I do have a problem with turning down eager talent.

As a staff, I think the whole department learned an incredible amount about storytelling, video production, and teamwork last term. I often reflect about what my take-aways are from experiences such as these, and I think our staff has found particular utility in working in groups. Individualized, backpack journalism has its place, but for students (myself included) who have a busy schedule, it’s nice to be able to rely on the talents of others to make sure a project flourishes in one’s absence. In particular, I think the lion’s share of our knowledge gained was on the technical front—if elements of cinematography or camerawork weren’t learned on the field, producers learned the hard way in the edit bay. I was particularly critical of each piece’s editing because if I’m good at only one element of journalism, it’s editing.

This term the staff is focused on the heart of our work: the storytelling. One of the best pieces of criticism I received recently is that much of our work is surface-y, and, from a narrative standpoint, rushed. This is particularly true for a piece I ended up contributing to, Crate Divers of the Northwest.

As a group, we put a lot of effort into a piece intended to be an accompaniment to a written story, but it failed to stand alone. We ended up with a great movie trailer for a short documentary we’ll probably never get around to making. We should have spent more time in developing anecdotes, character, etc., but we sacrificed all of that to turn the piece in on time.

This term I want to avoid vignettes like Crate Divers and Valentine’s Day, so we’re spending a lot of time learning about and discussing storytelling as an art. As managing editor I see it as my duty to compile what I’m learning about the subject for my producers to access at their leisure, so I set up http://fluxmm.wordpress.com as a resource that attempts to stand alone as a learning tool. Any additional resources or suggestions, criticisms, etc. you may have would be greatly appreciated!

I can’t forget that I’m still a student at all of this, even if I am leading others. It keeps me on my toes, and humble.

Be sure to check out Higher Point and A Prodigy Diver, the other two stories published at the end of Winter 2012.