Introducing . . . #101DaysofWriting during a pandemic

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There is no way you can sugarcoat it. Life is odd right now. As many of you are I am self-isolating with my family and just taking time to come to my office to work (I have an office where I am the only one here) and to take a daily morning walk. Each day feels like a week and we are effectively only on Day 3. So, what is a guy to do! Well outside of trying to continue to focus at work and take care of my family I have have decided to complete a few projects that I have been putting off for a long time. After all, up until a week ago the hustle and bustle of the daily grind kept us from remembering to take care of ourselves and commit to the things that make us whole.

Besides, I feel like it would be a bit of an insult to those first-responders, grocery store workers, healthcare workers, and teachers doing their best to keep things as normal as possible and the shelves stocked with toilet paper. So here is what I am hoping to accomplish. Each day I am going to chronicle how my projects are going and also add a thought of the day focused on a random collection of writing prompts into one dandy post a day. I hope that if you read this you will be inspired to do the same. The writing will be random, sometimes the prose will be long, sometimes short, but it is the best way I know how to take care of myself. So on day one I wanted to list out what I will be reviewing:

  • My personal project of the day – how did I spend a few minutes with a chore or idea around the house to keep everything moving forward. I will also update you on my attempt to complete the Insanity workout plan. I am doing this with Caroline and we hope one outcome will be getting fit in a time of illness.
  • I will list out my album of the day. I have compiled my personal 100 essential rock, pop, and hip hop albums and beginning tomorrow I will introduce a new one.
  • My writing prompt of the day. I will have a different subject I will consider and take 10 minutes to extemporaneously write about it.
  • Gen X Pop Culture moment of the day. Like with my albums I will have a pop culture moment that shaped my life and likely the lives of my Gen X cohort.
  • Finally, like the Dan LeBatard Show, I will have a stat of the day. This stat will NOT be COVID-19. I am a huge fan of data and how it can impact our lives. I will scour the internet for interesting data to share.

I realize I am likely writing into an abyss and few will read this but writing is therapy to me. If I can accomplish this goal then hopefully by day 101 this whole pandemic will be behind us and the results will be far fewer sick and far fewer deaths that we predicted. Stay sanitized people. More tomorrow on Day 2.

Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day – A Personal Perspective

It has been a while since I have put some ideas down on my blog but today seemed like a good day to come back. When I woke up this morning I was not thinking about suicide. I honestly never really think about it because I don’t think I have any suicidal tendencies. But when I got to my office I fired up my favorite radio program; The John in the Morning Show on KEXP out of Seattle. Each morning if I am in the office going about my day I will stream this station. Their music mix is amazing and they are the kind of socially responsible art I want to be a part of. John is great at knowing he is speaking to a global audience and while the show is apologetically Seattle he knows we hear him in Orlando too. Continue reading

Pop Culture Blind Spots – Marvel Universe and Game of Thrones Edition

The past few weeks have been rough for a guy who cherishes his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. I believe I am veritable wasteland of useless knowledge and pithy opinions on music, movies, and television. I am a 46 year-old man but I got up early on Tuesday to take a look at the latest fashion on the red carpet at the Met Gala. And, like always, it did not disappoint. I am often the ringer on any trivia team. Trust me, you want me on your side when it comes to worthless barroom questions on listing movies Hugh Grant was in or what was the release year of the Clash’s London Calling. And I’m even better at sports. Want to know what happened in the 1996 NBA Finals? I’m your guy. The last five gold medalists in women’s Olympic figure skating, done. Continue reading

Gen X Chronicles – Every generation has their Saturday Night Live cast

This week on Saturday Night Live former cast member Adam Sandler hosted and it certainly had a throwback feel. From the opening monologue he had Chris Rock on the stage trading jokes. There were plenty of silly songs, the Opera Man made an appearance, and there was a skit dedicated to many of his more outrageous characters in his movies. It was, as SNL episodes go, an above average episode. And I should know, I have been watching and have watched virtually every SNL episode since I stumbled upon the Buckwheat’s Been Shot episode in March of 1983. I was ten years old and while I may not have understood every skit it introduced me to humor in a profound way. Since that episode I likely have seen 800 episodes of this Saturday Night tradition. Continue reading

Are internships really that great? It depends #500daysofwriting

For decades the conventional wisdom for students in college has been in addition to your coursework it is a really good idea to get an internship. Internships provide eager students with a window into the working world, provide valuable skills and work experience, and help the student network their way into a career. Of course these opportunities come with a price. Internships are, by their very nature, designed to be a bit of a boot camp for the interns. Students toil away at sometimes menial tasks with the hope to be included in major projects or given tasks which allow them to showcase their talent. And of course the experience can vary widely from deeply involved and rewarding to the stereotype of the intern getting coffee and the dry cleaning. Continue reading

Its Not About The Salmon, but it Kinda is

Two weeks ago I was at a major higher education conference. I was invited by a partner of the Florida Consortium to attend the conference and sit on a panel on employability and nomenclature. It was a huge success. I enjoyed working with my peers to discuss this important topic and to suggest ways business and universities can work together to create more sensible and transferrable terminology for students moving from the classroom to the workplace. But this is not a blog post about that. It is about what I experienced at the conference that now shade my feelings on higher education forever.
First, it should be noted that the conference is expensive. Participants paid over $3,000 each to attend and it was held in a city known for expensive hotel rates, higher than average airline fares, and the food is plenty expensive. I was lucky in that I did not have to pay for a registration because I was an invited speaker. So one would expect the event to be nice. And it was. Continue reading

Getting the Doctorate is all about timing

I graduated with my EdD in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M – Commerce in 2011. It was the right, albeit, expensive choice for me. Since receiving my doctorate degree I have gone on to serve as the director of the office of Student Involvement at the University of Central Florida, teaching the higher education department at the same school and now serve as the Executive Director of the Florida Consortium. I have had more chances to present, write, and speak in environments where I know my EdD was a critical designation for my selection. So being Dr. Preston has been a good thing overall. Continue reading

The Unseen and Seldom Talked About Responsibility of Privilege

I am sitting at a deli in downtown Atlanta on a chilly Friday. I am attending the AAC&U Annual Meeting and it is time for lunch. As you can tell by the picture I had a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup and I got a Diet Coke (after all this is Atlanta, home of Coke). This morning I enjoyed breakfast at my hotel (one that I did not pay for out of my pocket). I got here using a plane ticket paid for by my employer, rode the MARTA train, attended the conference, and tweeted about my experience on a phone that was subsidized by my employer. Throughout the conference I will enjoy complimentary snacks at a reception, be provided unlimited tea, coffee, water, and soda, and given lots of resources I get to take home. I have to admit, it’s pretty great. Continue reading

How I learned to be the trimtab and not the boat

Working for a university is hard work. There is a lot of pressure to perform and you always know that a failure at your work affects if students can do their work. There is also the pressure that comes from the perceived pressure to be great all of the time. Finally, there is the issue of impostership. When you are constantly surrounded by really smart and accomplished people there is a sense that you don’t quite measure up and you will one day be “found out”. I find from time to time I suffer from this lack of confidence and push myself to be all things to all people. But I am getting over it, here’s how. Continue reading