Phoenix Day 3: Skydiving

Today was the big day. The only goal was to jump out of a plane and land safely.

We did it. It was awesome.

There were two groups in front of us, so we had to wait for a couple hours before we jumped. There were only two people doing tandem jumps, so they asked who was going to be brave and go alone. I was the lucky one and went first. I could spend thousands of words telling you how awesome it was, but instead I’ll just show you. This is the video from Phoenix Area Skydiving. My favorite part is when the guy pulls my head back to keep my back arched so we fall correctly — and they put the whole part in slow motion.

My brother Tyler and Aunt Rebecca were next to go. The video shows both of them at the beginning, but then it only focuses on Tyler. My favorite part is the end, wait for it.

Continue reading Phoenix Day 3: Skydiving

Phoenix Day 2: Sedona Jeep tour

Today we drove a couple hours north to Sedona for a Jeep tour. The Sedona area is known for red rock formations and famous inhabitants (including John McCain, Al Pacino and more) and caters to millions of tourists every year. The premise of the tour: Take a tricked out Jeep up a couple of trails and listen to the driver/guide as he tells you interesting facts about the area. As it turns out, we hit the lottery when it comes to guides (more about that later). For now, here’s what my brother Tyler thought about the tour as we were driving north in the morning.

Tyler thinks the tour is going to be AWESOME!

Continue reading Phoenix Day 2: Sedona Jeep tour

Phoenix Day 1: Climbing mountains

After spending a week in Austin with my friends and future business partners I flew to Phoenix, AZ to see my Aunt Rebecca. She moved out here in April 2004 and I’ve wanted to visit ever since. She’s an amazing aunt and gave me some money to do just that for Christmas this year, so here I am. I’ll be posting throughout the week about Phoenix, and once I get back to Muncie I’ll also post photos from the Austin trip. I was using a big boy camera in Austin (thanks to Cassandra for that one) so the files aren’t with me.

I’ve been in a state of constant amazement since I arrived. Everything here is absolutely gorgeous and I catch myself looking around at the scenery instead of paying attention to what I’m doing. The pictures and videos in this post won’t do it justice, but they’ll come close.

Today we climbed a mountain. Camelback Mountain is a 1.62-mile climb with an elevation of 2,704 feet above sea level. It was great to get out and exercise, but the view at the top was the best part. The closest experience I’ve had is being at the top of a tall building, but this was different because I had to climb all the way up before I could enjoy it. So here’s the day, starting with the car ride. Continue reading Phoenix Day 1: Climbing mountains

Austin mobile blogging

I’m sitting in a high-back leather chair at the Spider House Cafe in Austin. I was planning on posting a bunch of pictures from the trip so far, but Cassandra is on my laptop trying I submit a photo story for the Hearst competition. I figured today would be a good time to test out the WordPress iPhone app for the first time and it seems to be working well. Not using my laptop is a small price to pay because she’s been nice enough to let me use her camera body and glass to shoot some semi-pro photography. I’ve always loved photography and she’s helping me stumble through my first real introduction to it. Anyway, the photos will come later.

I’ve been in a state of almost constant amazement since I crossed into the Austin city limits. I knew this trip was going to be good when my aunt from Tyler, TX said, ‘You’re going to fit right in when you get to Austin, it’s a very progressive place.’ She said ‘progressive’ with a hint of amusement, as if it was an oddity in Texas. She was right, and I’m glad the feel of the city seems to be in line with my personality.

Since we got here (we includes Cassandra Adamson, Peter Gaunt, Drew Preston Hainz and Becky Rother) we’ve met with a start-up incubator company called Capital Factory about possible funding, we’ve visited the multimedia journalists at the Austin Statesman, we’ve met up with BSU grads at amazing hole-in-the-wall blues bars and we’ve eaten tasty food every day. Those are just the big events, but even the small stuff like talking to random people in various businesses and locales has been great.

Overall, this city is everything I imagined and more. It’s a big city with good people, tech, food and music. What more can a guy ask for? Not much, I think. It’s time to sign off for now, more updates to come as (or if) I find time.

Mobile blogging experiment = success.

RIP Bailee (November 1998 to February 23, 2010)

I don’t cry often.

For a long time it was impossible. The numbing properties of the chemicals I threw into my body put a stranglehold on my tear ducts. Now the chemicals are gone and I’m still not the most emotive person you’ll meet. Thoughts of my prior actions are the catalyst for tears much of the time, but even those have lost their power as I’ve slowly pried the fingers of the past from around my neck.

Bailee did a lot of relaxing toward the end. This photo is from a few weeks before she died.

I cried yesterday. And the day before. And the one before that.

Most of the droplets were from a sense of loss. The rest were from an unlikely combination of joyous reminiscing in one moment and raging loss in the next. Many slip down my face and onto my lap while I type this post.

Bailee, my family’s wonderful chocolate labrador retriever, died today. My parents took her to the vet to be put to sleep. My mom confessed guilt at their decision, but there was nothing to atone for. It was time. Continue reading RIP Bailee (November 1998 to February 23, 2010)

My college life (and a preview of the future of journalism schools)

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. Not surprisingly (to me at least) I got caught up in other things. Today, the distraction came because of a plane crash in Austin, Texas. It’s an interesting story that seems to be heading in the direction of, “Guy has bad experience with the IRS, guy gets upset about bad experience, guy decides to fly his plane into a building with IRS workers and auditors inside.” Sad story, but at least no one from the building seems to be badly injured. It’s fascinating to see how the local media is covering the story, especially because I’m planning on moving there for a journalism start-up soon.

I’ve managed to get off track and it’s only one paragraph in, but bear with me. Back to journalism schools.

I graduated from Ball State University in December with a degree in journalism. Toward the end, I noticed many of my conversations were about the merits of journalism school. Oftentimes, my peers and I were wondering if journalists-to-be should even bother paying anyone for training. Most of the time we quickly decided that a formal journalism education was worthwhile, but it was difficult to come to a consensus about the specifics.

My fascination with the Austin news means this is only going to be something of a preview. I was going to write specifically about journalism school until I read this article. I decided to write about school in general after reading Kevin Carey’s somewhat cynical take on his undergraduate studies. His Chronicle of Higher Education column laments his college days, despite the fact that he “aced” them. I’ve often had similar thoughts, especially about how easy it would have been to get a degree by doing the bare minimum. So, today you’ll get my take on school and next time I’ll lay out my journalism school experience and thoughts for the future. Continue reading My college life (and a preview of the future of journalism schools)

Newspapers and money

There’s a lot of talk about how to make newspapers profitable. I have some ideas (after the jump) but no Ultimate Solution. It’s going to take hard work and a lot of smart people to figure it out. I think it’s important for journalists to discuss what newspapers can and should do to ensure all types of important journalism have a place in tomorrow.

This is the beginning of my history of newspapers. Read on to see the entire graphic.

That said, I don’t agree with pay walls. I also don’t agree with people who argue for them in this manner.

Andrew Heller from the Flint Journal in Michigan is the latest I’ve seen calling for pay walls. He does so by writing about how they’re going to save journalism. His column showed up in my Twitter feed and I was hoping it would turn out to be worthwhile, but I was wrong. Heller doesn’t have a time machine but that seems to be the gist of his solution to the problem.

To summarize Heller: I want to go back in time and make newspapers charge for online content. I can’t, so back to the future (now). They, specifically the people at the New York Times, are starting to play with charging models and pay walls. This is good, because a product shouldn’t be free and newspaper stories are undoubtedly products. Also, I’m not an expert on the Web but I have common sense because I know you just don’t give anything away for free.

It’s a sad argument that makes for a depressing picture of the current crop of newspaper journalists. I’ve been down the newspaper path, first as a reader of two dailies in my hometown, then in various positions at my high school and college student newspapers and finally in a stint as an intern at a professional paper. I loved working at the professional paper because of the people and environment, but I knew the business end of things was in trouble.

Does this make me an expert on journalism, newspapers or anything else? Hell no. At least no more (or less) than Heller. I do have one thing going for me, however.

I can’t imagine giving money to a newspaper for any reason.

I’m a news/information junkie and former newsprint lover who thinks newspapers deserve every bit of hardship coming down on them. It’s going to be scary, but read on if you dare. I have some ideas and  you can check out the rest of that graphic that’s previewed to the right. Continue reading Newspapers and money

When snow is no longer amusing

I wanted to go south for Super Bowl XLIV. I had it all planned out: I would get in the Camaro, take the T-tops down, drive until I was barely awake, sleep at the next rest stop and do it all over again until I arrived in sunny Miami. The ticket would be there waiting for me. My Indianapolis Colts would spank the New Orleans Saints and everything would be great.

Then I woke up.

In reality, I was planning on watching the big game with my Pops in my hometown of Fort Wayne. I was pretty much set on making the trip and the forecast came and ruined my day. I heard varying predictions from a couple of inches to a foot for the final accumulation, and I knew my trip was likely canceled before it even started. You see, the only part of the dream above that’s true is the Camaro. As you can imagine, a rear-wheel drive muscle car with a 350 under the hood and summer tires doesn’t do well in the snow.

I was discouraged but determined to have a good Super Bowl without the family traditions. It was a pretty down day until my Pops agreed make the trip to Muncie despite the forecast. It led to the most harrowing drive I’ve ever been a passenger on, and I have the pictures and video to prove it.

Continue reading When snow is no longer amusing

It’s time

It’s almost February. The cold turns my hands into sandpaper. The snow keeps my beloved Camaro hitched to a parking spot. The wind snatches my breath away without warning. If winter brought simple annoyances like these I could handle it, but this year it also delivered a crippling sense of time.

Time is the worst mangler in my life. I might have too much of it, which leads to boredom. I might not have enough, which leads to panic and poor performance. I might have just the right amount, until someone comes along and asks for help I can’t refuse to give. It might be the right or wrong time, which both come with similar anxieties. I can have a good time, a bad time, a fun time, a time for the ages or any other combination. All this talk about it doesn’t seem to be worth my time, but I can’t help it.

Take, for example, this blog. I’m ashamed to point out that it has been “Under Construction” since August, 2009. I can only blame my sometimes dysfunctional relationship with time for the delayed launch. At first, I’d tell myself the time to work on the blog would be soon in the future. Soon would come, and I would tell myself I didn’t have time to work on it because of school or work or that deep desire for sleep. That went on and on until graduation in December, but even then time was my nemesis. Continue reading It’s time