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Assortments Personal Passions

5 Things to Do if You Just Got Laid Off

These are unprecedented times. Over the past few weeks, unemployment claims have skyrocketed and we have entered an immediate recession. The possibility of a global depression could soon be a reality.

Many of us–myself included–have found ourselves redundant, laid off, or in some form or fashion unemployed.

As we enter this new economic phase thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic, here are five recommendations for what you should be doing right now if you are out of work.

It always helps to make a list, come up with a plan, and set goals. Technically, those could be the first three recommendations. But I’ll be a little more abstract. Here’s are five to get you started:

1. Take Steps to Further Your Career

If you are unemployed, your new full time job is to get a new one. Period. Treat your job search like a job. It takes work and dedication.

First and foremost, that means applying for jobs.

But there is more you can do. Use this newfound free time to take steps to further your career.

I’m currently working my way through my first HubSpot Certification course through HubSpot Academy. Other certification and learning programs I’m interested in completing include Facebook Blueprint Certification and Google AdWords.

Regardless of your career, there is likely a certification program, online class, or even a side-hustle you can learn more about in your free time.

My goal is to knock out at least one certification every few weeks.

Get to it!

2. Expand Your Personal Passions

Everyone should have at least one hobby. Why not exploit it now that you have a little extra time on your hands?

For me, it’s music. In particular, vinyl records.

While at home, I’m making sure to enjoy my hobbies.

This includes writing. I have written and published four new blog posts on FensePost in the past ten days, and another four here on my personal blog (this post included).

So far, I’m outpacing my goal of publishing a new article on one of these locations every other day.

I’m also striving to try new things and expand other areas of interest, like cooking.

For example, this morning I took a recipe for Tortilla Española and modified it to fit ingredients I had in my kitchen (OK, it was really just substituting Russet Potatoes for Sweet Potatoes and adding some bacon).

Turned out quite nicely.

3. Stay on Top of Industry Trends

Just because you aren’t currently working, doesn’t mean you should slack off. Make sure to continue reading your trade publications, and stay on top of industry news and trends.

In fact, now might be the time to seek out additional resources and find your next favorite.

As I packed up my home in Mount Vernon, WA and relocated to Plano, TX a week before everything came to a halt, I did just that: researched and began following digital marketing and e-commerce podcasts.

Some of my current favorite discoveries include: Future Commerce Podcast, The Modern Retail Podcast, and Behind the Numbers: eMarketer Podcast.

Additionally, I’m rediscovering a few favorite blogs, like Copyblogger.

4. Employ Plenty of Self-Care

Self care looks different for everyone, and for many it may overlap with Personal Passions.

Make sure to do the work to know what energizes and recharges you, what helps you maintain balance and reduce stress, and what keeps you focused and motivated.

One method of self care for me is physical activity. And my preferred method is cycling.

If physical activity resonates with you, don’t just stay at home. Or, if you have to due to the current pandemic, do something active to better yourself.

Being physically active is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, stay in shape, and build self-confidence.

My goal here is to go on a ride every other day. So far, so good!

5. Reconnect (And Commit to It!)

In times like this, our network means a lot. Unemployment can be scary, especially if you aren’t used to volatility and uncertainty.

And with COVID-19, these appear to be unprecedented times.

If you’re an introvert–even an extroverted-presenting one like myself–you may have lapsed on your network upkeep. Now’s the time to re-engage these folks!

But don’t just re-engage them. Commit to staying in contact.

If that means scheduling a check in using Google Calendar, make it happen! Heck, load your important contacts into HubSpot’s CRM and develop an outreach plan if you want to be super nerdy about it.

Furthermore, extend it beyond your professional network of people you haven’t communicated with in a while. Add four or five friends from college, the same from high school to the list, and throw in a few family members as well.

And do the same with this group of friends and family–commit to staying in touch!

What’s Missing?

Five things is not much. I’m sure, given more time, it would be super easy to double the size of this list.

Are you in the same boat? What are you taking on with your newfound time to better yourself? How are you coping?

Share your story or let me know what I missed in the comments below.

But please don’t tell me the only thing on your list right now is to binge watch Tiger King on repeat while obsessively hitting refresh on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map.

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Assortments Digital & Social Marketing & Branding Personal Passions

COVID-19 is Changing How We Do Business

A little over a month ago, it was business as usual. The economy was strong, the stock market was at or near all-time highs, and unemployment was at stunning lows. Then COVID-19 began to rapidly spread across the globe and dominate the media.

Everything changed, and at lightning speed.

Within a one to two-week period, millions began filing for unemployment, many companies froze their hiring, and those who were able to began working remotely.

The impact to how we do business was immediate.

In a time where partisanship continues to dominate my Facebook feed, where fear is rampant in most and complacency in the rest in regards to the current health care and economic crisis, and where negativity is literally everywhere, I’d like to point out some positive ways companies are adapting to our current situation.

Growing Trend: Curbside Pick Up & Delivery

Small to medium sized businesses are experiencing enormous hardship amidst the nationwide COVID-19 social distancing measures. For those that provide somewhat essential services, curbside pick-up is a growing option.

For those that don’t, it’ll get there.

My old employer–a regional Harley-Davidson dealership in Washington State–has been offering curbside pickup for motorcycle parts, albeit with a reduced staff.

Businesses are still taking orders, they’re just fulfilling them differently. Unfortunately, these changes likely require reduced staff. But it could also lead to employment opportunities, especially in urban areas where quick delivery could be an option.

Case in point: a friend on Facebook shared a photo yesterday of an order he placed, delivered to his door by Easy Street Records in Seattle. he got two LPs and a handful of CDs.

An Immediate Change for Restaurants

Restaurants that can afford to stay open are transitioning, ramping up takeout and delivery models. I got three notifications yesterday about MOD Pizza offering free delivery through Thursday of this week.

Others, like Legacy Hall here in Plano, are creating geo-targeted social advertising campaigns to communicate about curbside takeout availability.

Sunday Vibes☀️….Curbside Pickup from 11am-9pm!!! Chicken Sausage Breakfast sandwiches (12-2pm), Mimosa and Bloody Mary…

Posted by Legacy Hall on Sunday, March 29, 2020

Online Grocery Shopping is Expanding

Online grocery orders are finally here, and they’re expanding to more grocers as well. While the industry has struggled to take off, outside of light success at Amazon, it’s now changing real-time.

At Kroger yesterday, I saw multiple employees with carts, picking orders for customers who placed them online, by phone, or at the curb.

It was exciting to see the change, providing expanded employment opportunities for workers and filling a now essential service. Not to mention, Kroger and others are offering bonuses, raises, and expanding paid time off for its workers.

Video Hangouts Are Now Mainstream

Once a thing for nerds and freelancers, video hangouts are suddenly a huge thing. I’ve attended a few myself. People are flocking to create Zoom accounts and host friend and family game nights. Others are jumping on the Netflix Party bandwagon.

A contact I have in New York City was diagnosed with COVID-19 and has had nightly family game nights as she’s mended. Others have binged Tiger King on Netflix as a group using the Netflix Sync service Netflix Party.

And for those of you just hopping on this bandwagon, here are three hot tips for video hangouts:

  1. Don’t forget to mute yourself if you’re not actively talking.
  2. Wear pants. Everyone will see you in your underwear when inevitably you stand up to stretch.
  3. Make sure to bring your Conference Bingo card…

Businesses Are Stepping Up

Amidst all the negativity, all the shortages of medical supplies, all the fear, and all the desperation, there are rays of hope. Good things are happening.

Here are a few of the businesses jumping onboard to make an impact:

Estee Lauder, Diageo, and Pernod are among many makeup, fragrance companies, brewers, and distillers helping make hand sanitizer.

Ralph Lauren, Gap, Prada, and other fashion retailers are committing to make face masks and health provider garments due to the current shortage.

Ford and Dyson are just two of many companies that will help make ventilators, along with private parties who are 3D printing ventilator valves to donate as needed.

Some hotels in New York, like Four Seasons, are opening their doors free for health care providers so they don’t have to potentially expose their families.

Starbucks is giving free coffee to front line health care responders.

Renewed Self-Care

I’ve seen it in others–this renewed effort for self-care. I’m also experiencing it first hand, being in a new and unfamiliar place where I’m also stuck at home a lot of the time.

I’ve committed to doing the things I love. I’m committed to setting and achieving goals. Here are some things I do to ensure I stay on top of who I am and who I want to be:

Cooking: Try new recipes, cook fun meals, share favorite dishes. A friend shared a simple 4 ingredient flatbread recipe on Facebook the other day. I made it my new pizza crust.

Health & Fitness: In the past two weeks, I’ve rediscovered my love for bicycling. I have just about 60 miles under my belt in just over 10 days, and I plan to keep riding as long as the parks remain open.

It’s Time to Focus on the Good

As a society, we get caught up in the negative. We hyper focus on the bad things we see in the news, get extremely critical about political parties that aren’t our own, and shame people who view things differently or don’t abide by our own personal set of morals. In times like this, it’s even easier to get sucked down that rabbit hole. I just wanted to point out some of the good I’m seeing reported out there in the world.

With social distancing now extended through the month of April, these trends are likely to keep growing.

What trends are you seeing? What good would you like to see come out of our current situation? Let me know in the comments below.

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Assortments

The Top 5 Instagram Photos of My Cat in 2013

Thundercleese Fang Yawn

Alright. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, and for good reason. I’ve been busy at my new job with Vaughan Premier and Lights for All Occasions.

So, since it’s the holidays and I’d like to share something with you, here are a bunch of photos of my cat Thundercleese. The top 5 photos I’ve posted on Instagram in 2013.

Need I say more?

#5. The “Lights Out”

#4. The “Beached Whale”

#3. The “Cuddlez Plz!”

#2. The “I’m Too Sexy for my Fat”

#1. Totally Adorable.

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A Constant Reminder, A Little “Thank You”

Office Appreciation

As you enter the break room on the ground level of Vaughan Premier, in the inner corner of the warehouse for Lights for All Occasions, Little Bright Lights, Décor for All Occasions and an assortment of other e-commerce sites, you are greeted with a message.

It reads as follows:

“I cannot say it too many times
THANK YOU
You are the best”

It is a resonating message, one that provides a constant reminder that it’s not just doing a great job for awesome customers that make a place great, it’s the people: the people that package the items that ship out of here each and every day, the people in customer service who take customer calls, the people who ensure that the products and service we provide is top notch day in and day out.

As I looked at this sign on my first day, it made me smile. I snapped the above photo as a memento; a mantra to remember how Vaughan Premier has some amazing people. On my first day, it made me very excited to get to know them.

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That Moment When…

…you take off your socks after a busy day, and a sense of relaxation causes a ripple of shivers to cascade up your body. That is the best.

…you ride your first 20-mile bike ride in a month, snap a few great shots of the beautiful rural landscape, and have that good soreness when you get home. That is also the best.

Here’s one of the shots, from Rexville:

Rexville by Bike

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Convert Energy into Mobility // Praise the Light

Design Chat: August 8, 2013

Every month or so, the firm at which I work hosts a lunchtime event with our architect firm friends down the street. We call it Design Chat, and it brings together nearly a dozen design-minded individuals with a passion for aesthetics, sustainability and progress.

As we haven’t really done one of these in a while, we revisited an old theme: Good Design.

Items presented have included everything from graphic design to architecture and product design to industrial design. I chose the bicycle, and the following is what I presented, in blog form with minimal words.

Convert ENERGY into MOBILITY


“The bicycle is a tremendously efficient means of transportation.

efficeincy

It is more efficient than any other method of travel–including walking!
A bicycle can be up to 5 times more efficient than walking.”

(Source: The Physics of Cycling.)

Skagit County has some of the most beautiful roads I have ever traveled by bike. Design Chat has also given attendees a chance to share art, photographs, and personal experiences related to design or not.

The Project: 1972 (or 1974) Schwinn Varsity


Next, I talked about my current project, an early 1970s Schwinn Varsity, which I have disassembled and am now stripping of paint. It will be rebuilt as an elegant, flat black cycle with white-wall tires and plenty of shiny chrome. The plan is to fit it with a Brooks saddle, and I’m still debating whether to make it a freewheel single speed or multi-speed.

Progress


The Goal


Growing the Revolution: Mission Bicycle


I follow a small handful of bicycle makers. There is Fast Boy Cycles in NYC and — my favorite — Mission Bicycle in San Francisco.

What They Do

• Make lightweight hand-made cycles.
• Custom built to order, one at a time.
• Built for city riding.

Their Products


One reason I am such a fan of Mission Bicycle is due to their Instagram account. They take fabulous photographs of their products, of which I noted above are all custom made to order.

PRAISE the LIGHT


A Different Revolution: Revolights


Revolights are a revolutionary new bicycle light that mounts to the front and rear wheels. Not only does it light your path forward and back, it provides adequate adjacent lighting to give you greater visibility to other riders and drivers at night.

I am fascinated with this product and would love to install it on one of my future cycles.

Revolights™. Now landed. from revolights on Vimeo.

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In Photos: Seattle to Portland by Bicycle

PREFACE: Like my previous post, this is less a story than it is a journal entry recounting a great moment in my life.

WE BEGIN: In 2011, my father asked if I would join him on his annual participation in the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bike Ride, also known as the STP. What I didn’t know was that my answer would essentially change my life.

Two years later and I have completed my third STP. Biking has become an integral part of my life, logging roughly 1,000 miles on my bike each year. It is my “commuter car” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Each year it begins the same: a photo of my bicycle resting the evening before the trip, posted on Facebook with the famed Twin Peaks line (as delivered by the mysterious giant): “It is happening again.”

The night before, I joined my parents and my friend and Green Light Go Publicist Janelle Rogers in my parents’ room for a celebratory pre-ride bottle of wine. We used styrofoam cups.

With my parents, it is always an ordeal to get on the road. It is always a hurry up and wait scenario. Everything has to take place now in my father’s eyes, but then we get held up by things he did not finish.

We got a very late start, leaving the hotel roughly 30 minutes later than hoped and the starting line a good hour-plus later than planned. They called 5-minutes ’til starting line closure as we rode through. The time was 7:25am.

We cruised through the first stop at REI’s headquarters. Things were wrapping up; the crowds had dissipated, food was essentially gone. What was left were plain tortillas, plain bagels and oranges. We left quickly, concerned lunch might find us with an equal lack of food options.

The second stop is a mini-break in Puyallup/Sumner before what everyone dubs “The Hill” — a somewhat brutal mile-plus incline that never seems to end. Shortly after the hill is the lunch spot. We were pleased to find plenty of sandwiches remained.

After lunch, we ride alongside Fort Lewis, a road that is typically a bit terrifying. For one, it’s narrow. Cars drive fast along it, and the heavy quantity of bicycles make for bunch-ups behind slow riders, and closer-than-normal passing by fast cyclists. Last year we witnessed the aftermath of a few bike-on-bike accidents along this road, one of which resulted in hospital treatment.

This year, the road was easy. Given our late start, bike traffic was light.

At the end of this road, we hop on a bicycle trail for 14 miles. In the past, this has been an arduous ride, but this year it seemed to go quickly. The heat was still blaring, but I had trained a significantly greater amount this year in comparison to last.

Perhaps the best part of the STP is the overnight stay in Centralia. Each year we stay with a wonderful couple who hosts a get-together with plenty of beer and wine, an amazing BBQ, and actual beds for riders to sleep in (most riders camp).

Contrary to previous years, our very generous hosts expanded the party and invited neighbors, family and other friends. Met some great people that night, had a little too much beer and wine, and woke up the next morning with a light hangover.

Our hosts, of course, have the perfect cure: an amazing breakfast with homemade cinnamon rolls and oatmeal, all the coffee we can drink, and fruit and muffins and more.

Like much of this year’s STP, the second day was very untraditional. We three rode separately for the most part, my father going ahead early on while Janelle and I took a longer break. I rode with my father up to the Banana Bread stop, but he left us behind at Winlock, home of the World’s Largest Egg.

By the time I arrived in Vader, dad had a 30-minute-plus lead. Following Vader is a school stop, then Day 2 lunch. I left Janelle behind a few times and met up with her again at the stop-points. We also met up with a few of our fellow overnight stay guests along the way.

Perhaps one of the most notable paths during the STP is the crossing of the Columbia River in Kelso. Traffic is split: a large group of cars crosses, followed by a large group of bikes, and so on.

Last year at the peak, I lost my chain. It jammed and I cut my fingers an knuckles yanking it loose. This year, with a new bike under me, I was determined not to have the same fate.

The bridge arches tremendously, and at the peak you can see miles in every direction. Of course, in a crowd of bicycles, you don’t look. Especially at the peak. You focus on what’s ahead — the decline.

It’s known as a water bottle graveyard. You can achieve great speeds on the way down — thirties, forties, if not higher. It’s the dividing sections of the roadway, subtle bumps in a car, but back-jolting impacts by bike. It’s always a bit terrifying, but a thrill nonetheless.

From there, it’s on to the final large stop of the day in St. Helens, about 30 miles outside Portland. Arriving here is always a welcome sight. They have plenty of water and crude PVC-pipe misters. The more daring bikers walk through the arches, while most stand eight to ten feet away and let the mist roll over them.

It’s a welcome feeling after a sixty to seventy mile ride. It’s even more welcome as by the time you arrive, the temperature is in the 80s.

However, one of the best stops on Day 2 is the Dairy Queen in Scappoose. By 3:30pm, we’ve been riding in 70 to 80+ degree heat for hours, and all we can think about is something nice, cold, and refreshing: ice cream.

It’s a popular destination.

In St. Helens, I caught up with my dad. We rode together to Dairy Queen where we each had a treat. With the sugar rush that followed, I left him far behind. Had I clocked it, my average speed is likely to have topped 20mph the last 20 or so miles.

People always talk about the Puyallup hill as being one of the most hellish parts of the trip. I quite disagree. I think it’s the hill up to the bridge in Portland, given it comes up so unexpectedly. We always forget about this hill, and it’s a bit of a monster.

At the top is quite the sight.

The bridge is so iconic — We have arrived in Portland!

What follows is another easily-forgotten path: the winding streets through the city to the finish line. It’s a good seven or eight miles, and it always seems so much longer as in the city there are endless stoplights and crowds of bicyclists.

Then it’s done.

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In Photos: A Hot Vegas Wedding

PREFACE: This is less a story and more a journal entry, recounting my wedding on July 1, 2013 and the road trip there and back…

WE BEGIN: Andi and I have been together for nearly six years. We’ve lived together for over five. Last August, I, in my normal state of awkwardness, proposed and she gracefully said yes. She didn’t want a fancy ring. It nearly brought tears to my eyes; she was satisfied with the ring I presented her on the day we got engaged — my late grandmother’s engagement ring from the 1940s.

Us: we’re not much for large get-togethers. She especially will shun big parties. Likewise, she doesn’t like being the center of attention in a large group. So we decided the best route to a wedding was something small — we set a mid-summer date and scheduled a small ceremony at the famed A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas (Elvis not included). The date: July 1, 2013 — all prime numbers (a requirement of Andi’s).

Homemade invitations were distributed to a small number of close family and an even smaller number of close friends.

Given Instagram has added embed functionality to their photos, I figured I’d give you a visual rundown of our trip.

The trip was amazing. What we didn’t expect, though, was 117-degree weather.

We left our Mount Vernon, Washington home on the Saturday before our wedding and drove to Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a long drive at over ten hours, but we stopped in the cute town of Nampa just outside Boise for dinner at Messenger Pizza. The second day, we traveled south to Vegas, quickly passing through several small desert towns.

We arrived in Vegas Sunday afternoon, the day before the wedding, and checked into our room at the Flamingo. Andi’s parents had arrived earlier that day, and mine the day before. We met up with hers for dinner, hopping from casino to casino to take advantage of their indoor air conditioning. The heat was already near unbearable with thermometers reading the hundred-teens.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced this type of heat, but it’s like being in a slow cooker. The air is thick with the heat — not thick like it is when it’s humid, though, just a pure, hot thickness. Almost immediately, we began to dub Vegas as Las Vegas, Hell.

We ultimately settled on The Cheesecake Factory in Caesar’s Forum for our meal after a few unsuccessful attempts to find a spot that offered gluten free options. By that time, Andi’s parents had gone back to the room to rest, and we were joined by Andi’s sister and her sister’s husband (where we are Andi and Andy, they are Jesse and Jessi).

The rest of the evening was spent looking for the piece Andi would ultimately wear in her hair during our wedding. We scoured the Forum for hours, looking in this store and that.

Marc By Marc Jacobs, a store in which we spent a fair amount of time, had a 1979 El Camino sitting in the window. Being that I drive a nearly identical car (but jet black), I had to take a picture. Finally, we gave up as 9:00 came around.

Heading back to Flamingo, Andi noted that she would probably find it in the least obvious place possible: our hotel. She was right.

That night, I took a few shots of the view from our hotel room on the 24th floor. The view was astonishing at night, lights everywhere, traffic and crowds never ceasing…

The morning of our wedding, we drove downtown to apply for our marriage license. At a Starbucks down the street, we met a wonderful elderly gentleman from Nevada who was nearly as hot as we were. He said this was unusual weather, even for the desert; the night before, it barely dipped below 90.

Andi dropped me off at the hotel around 11am. She and her father ran additional wedding errands while I met Andi’s friend Gypsy, who was just getting into town, and assisted her in checking into the Flamingo.

Our limo was to pick us up between 2:15 and 2:30pm. Andi hadn’t returned from having her makeup done by 2, and I, being the stress case I can be, was freaking out thinking she wouldn’t be ready in time. But we made it; she returned five minutes later and was ready within fifteen minutes (quite the feat for her, I must say).

She had her makeup done at Sephora, and expressed concern at the thickness of her eyebrows. Gypsy noted that on film and in photographs, having slightly bolder eyebrows is a good thing. She, of course, was right — despite our Girls references (i.e. when Hannah’s co-workers do her makeup, which prompts Adam to comment You look like a Mexican teenager. It rules.).

We made it to the limo just in time (or, about five minutes late). Andi’s mom gasped noticeably from the lobby as we descended on the escalator to where our ride was waiting. Joining her at the bottom, she commented that Andi looked stunning with her hair and makeup and 60s-referencing, Mod-era dress.

The limo ride was nearly unbearable. 117 degrees outside, but it wasn’t much better inside — 105 at least — as the air conditioning was terrible. The six mile drive to the Chapel nearly killed us. We rode back to the hotel in my parents’ rental car (though Andi’s family took the limo).

Technically, you’re not supposed to take your own photos in the Chapel, but we snapped a few from the lobby, including one with an Elvis cameo (he was not part of our ceremony):

After the ceremony, we congregated at The Center Cut, Flamingo’s signature steakhouse, for our reception dinner. We all ate steak and me, being a social drinker, had nearly 12 glasses of water. I snapped a photo of my parents, my brother and his wife, and our wedding dessert. In retrospect, I wish I would have had one of the waiters take a photo of the entire party at dinner.

Andi and I had a very untraditional honeymoon. The majority was spent on the road, driving home from Las Vegas. But it was along these roads that we had the most fun. Driving northwest toward Reno, we turned down a side street in Goldfield, NV and discovered a gold mine.

Not literally, of course, as those dried up years ago.

Goldfield is a partial ghost town, parts of which appear to have been abandoned in the 1920s. We could not pass up the chance for the photo op.

Walker Lake is a picturesque lake just outside Hawthorne, Nevada. We stopped here for a restroom break, questioning why the resort-like beach was vacant. We soon learned why.

Stretching our legs and getting ready to use the restrooms, Andi almost stumbled into a bush. It was at this moment she realized the bush was covered in inch-long spiders — nearly fifty in all! It’s wasn’t just this bush — it was EVERY bush.

Creeped out, we left as quickly as possible, not pausing to get a picture for proof. For miles around the lake, as we cruised by at 55 to 60 mph, we saw similar bushes along the side of the road, all infested with spiders. The following article about Walker Lake notes:

…woe to the motorist who pulls over and doesn’t pay attention to the guard rail. It is spider central — spider nirvana. It’s as if a B-movie director put out a casting call for large, nasty looking arachnids, miles and miles, thick with webs and spiders, packed together and ready to pounce.

On July 3, we were those motorists.

That night we splurged in Reno, staying in a room with a jacuzzi at the Silver Legacy Casino and Hotel.

The next day we drove the best road I’ve ever traveled: CA-139 from Reno, Nevada to Susanville, California. It’s a road I hope to drive again someday. Along it we stopped at Jacks Valley, a watering hole from the settler days and early 1900s.

On our way to our evening stay in Bend, Oregon, we took a planned detour and visited Crater Lake. For those who have never been, Crater Lake is exactly that: a giant lake in the crater of a dormant volcano. What you don’t get from the name is that it features one of the bluest, most serene and picturesque lakes in the world.

That evening, we were spent. We stayed at your standard Super 8, woke early the next morning and drove north to Yakima, over to Seattle, then home.

Exhausting as these types of drives may be, we decided that road trips are the way to go.

You experience so much of America by driving back roads and byways, by traveling two-lane state highways and scenic routes. You discover towns like Goldfield, Nevada, drive breathtaking roads like CA-139, and have unforgettable experiences like Walker Lake.

The old saying Why drive when you can fly? should be reversed: Why fly when you can drive!?!?

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One Weekend: Two Farewells

Last weekend, the world lost two inspirational individuals. Both likely had no idea of each other’s existence, nor could they be considered inspirational for any parallel reason. One a politician, the other a musician. Yet each touched the lives of those with which they came into contact.

RIP Booth Gardner (Former Gov. of Washington): 1936-2013

RIP Booth Gardner

I met Gov. Booth Gardner on several occasions during my employment at Strategies 360. I found him to be an inspiration; he had a brilliant, charismatic demeanor despite having long suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.

Gardner was elected the 19th Governor of Washington in 1984 and held the office for two terms between 1985 and 1993. Prior to his Governorship, he served as Pierce County Executive, and after his term through 2008 – and likely well beyond – Gardner was active in some regard both in the local community and in the state government.

He publicly announced support for assisted suicide in 2006 and headed – successfully – Washington’s Death with Dignity Act in 2008. Per wikipedia about the Death with Dignity Act:

In 2009, The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner, a short documentary film, was produced by Just Media and HBO, chronicling the Initiative 1000 campaign. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

In a letter to my old employer, Ron Dotzauer, the family spokesperson, I stated: I know he touched the lives of and inspired countless people, myself included. He will definitely be greatly missed by all who knew him and many who didn’t.

Rest in peace, good man. You were a true inspiration.

Watch this clip of The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner:

The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner clip from Just Media on Vimeo.

RIP Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co): 1973-2013

RIP Jason Molina

I caught a partial set by Jason Molina several years ago at Seattle’s Folklife festival. I can’t quite recall the year, not can I recall the name under which he performed. It could have been Jason Molina, Songs: Ohia, or even Magnolia Electric Co. What I remember of the performance is that out of his minimalist style, he was effortlessly enigmatic in the songs he created.

Somewhere between indie-folk and alt-country, Jason Molina’s music was without a doubt heartfelt and revealing, despite having a sound that was often difficult to describe. The first song I ever heard of his was the stripped-down opener and title track to Songs: Ohia’s 2002 LP, Didn’t It Rain.

Molina ultimately succumbed to health complications resulting from alcoholism. Despite his ailments, Molina was an artist whose music moved those who heard it. Loved by many throughout the indie music scene, he too will be a greatly missed soul.

Listen to “Heart My Heart” by Molina from his 2012 release Autumn Bird Songs:

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When In Vegas: MRI, Red Bull & A Quiz

Here it is, my blog-slash-web presence under my very own name, Andy Fenstermaker.

This is what was recommended we create at a two-day intensive Account Executive Advanced Training session by Agency Management Roundtable.

What a concept!?!?

In now fourteen years of blogging, I never thought to create one using my own name; likely to my own fault. It just always seemed more notable to create something under some pseudonym — something witty or clever.

But this makes perfect sense: I am now peeking behind the veil that is “Fense” and saying Hello World! in the most generic WordPress manner possible.

The AMR event saw me in Las Vegas for the first time. (Talking with someone later, I noted that the only items I didn’t use in my über small carry-on bag were the 14 quarters I took to play the slot machines.) And what a trip! Lots of new friends; an amazing learning experience.

The final night I ended up a Vodka Martini and four beers deep while hanging out with a new friend from Massachusetts. After she took off for a red-eye flight, I made my way to my new hotel, checked in and powered up the laptop.

Looking for a spare plug, I found the following behind the couch:

When In Vegas

Plenty of WTF, this was the perfect wind-down to an amazing trip.