Some of the takeaways were: look for categories of things that are trending in sales, but kind of niche then jump on that bandwagon. Use the existing trends on popular sales platforms such as Amazon and Etsy as your marketing. Don’t buy advertising directing to a merch page. It never pays off.
Another was that fulfilling a niche need is even more important in getting a sale than the quality of the graphic or text.
Amazon totally screwed me with the seller account, charged me without my authorization, and that situation is still currently a mess. So I abandoned both companies.
Then I went to Teespring and moved some of the designs over for my engineering company’s store. Reviews seem to favor Teespring’s and Printful’s product quality and customer service over Gearbubble’s, so the hassle of the switch seemed worth it.
Etsy, however, got me nada. In fact, I can’t even find my products when I’m intentionally trying to find the exact thing I made in Etsy’s search tool!
So, I guess the better way for me to go right now is personally driving traffic to the Teespring page through “free advertising” which is my own content published to my own network.
I thought I could “niche down” around engineering, product development and management for my Teespring company store that I would link to from my company website – SpireStarter.com .
BUT! I have all these other designs and artwork that I could turn into mugs, too. And in the past, I’ve had friends tell me they’d like to purchase some of my artwork, but the high quality art prints I had for sale were too expensive.
A mug, though? That’s not too expensive!
So I created a separate Teespring store for my more whimsical or artistic designs under my name. Two of the babies below already sold:
Have a look at this lovely model with her new #coffeetawk mug going to Linda Richman town like it was buttah:
Which ones do you like? Do you think any of my other art should be MUG-ified? Let me know, and I’ll make it!
Here’s a thing that happened: in 2020, the United States shut down, and imposed far-reaching restrictions on its citizens due to what officials considered a health threat. At the same time, the censoring of groups of licensed doctors who believe they have valuable feedback for the country — including other doctors — became acceptable to many.
What in the actual fuck. ?
If you haven’t heard — and that’s quite possible since it was censored with an iron fist — a group of practicing doctors from different parts of the United States got together on Capitol Hill to send a message last week. This group is called “America’s Frontline Doctors”. They personally treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients and they believed they had urgently important information for their fellow physicians. Additionally, they expressed concerns over a different kind of censorship; they said their ability to practice medicine in a traditional manner was being irrationally impinged upon.
I stumbled upon a Twitter message that linked to the video discussed here. And as of publishing this post, you can still find the coverage of the presser on Vimeo here (if you dare watch this “shocking” footage):
Me:“Wow, doctors treating coronavirus on the frontlines traveled to D.C. to deliver a message to the world?! Well, I want to hear that! Primary information sources are my favorite sources! There is so much less bullshit sprinkled in…”
And apparently, I wasn’t the only one keenly interested in hearing what these professionals had to say. While I can’t confirm a tally of how many views the press conference received now because the video was removed by Facebook, that one reportedly reached over 17 million viewers.
When I came across it, I let it play in the background as I worked on other things. It wasn’t until much later in the video that I realized I was listening to a Breitbart stream. Turns out, it would be highly unlikely I could have heard these people anywhere else. And then, it got even harder to hear their voices. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Squarespace cut them down with their various powers.
Words to Excuse the Inexcusable
When I posted about this censorship on Facebook to take the pulse of the masses, I got many vitriolic comments of meandering logic. Here were the main trains of…thought.
“But the Law Makes It OK”
There was the proclamation that “well, legally it’s OK”.
In actuality, no, that’s not necessarily true. But even if what the goliath publishers…er…sorry, I mean “platforms” did was hunky-dory legally without taking away their platform status, that still wasn’t my main concern. Here is my horror: some American citizens are cool with doctors being silenced during a life-halting pandemic.
Insert communal shoulder shrug.
At a time when cancel culture cares not whether a company crossed a legal boundary, and only if the mob perceives a crossed moral boundary, how is it these megalithic publishing, sorry, “platform” establishments escape unscathed?
That is the only quandary I ask the masses to wrestle here. I don’t care if what these licensed doctors suggest other MD’s investigate is an ultimate answer to our problem or not. I wouldn’t even care if I felt 100% that what these doctors said was ludicrous. Free dialogue itself is important. It’s for times like these especially that free speech was written in blood at the tip-top of the United States Constitution.
And no, I’m not saying that what these companies did is necessarily unconstitutional. I’m only pointing to the pure, undeniable, and moral importance and purpose of free speech’s existence.
“It’s Not Really Censorship”
Further, I was mocked for not understanding the meaning of “censorship”.
FYI, yes, it is still called censorship even when it is not a governmental body doing the silencing. Auntie Erin, for example, tries very hard to censor her own potty mouth around her surrogate nieces and nephews.
“I Personally Think the Religious Beliefs of One of Them is Silly”
Then, there was the outrage over one of the several doctor’s religious beliefs.
OK, so now censorship of licensed doctors is OK but only when you don’t share their religious beliefs? I disagree.
I don’t care what religion these docs practice. If one of them drives to the middle of Kansas 3 times a year to sacrifice a goat to their idol god while dancing naked around a fire, drinking Everclear from the bottle and singing “Sweet Home Alabama” it matters not. If we’re in a pandemic and that doctor successfully treated 350 patients suffering from the illness in question, I still want to hear what that person has to say.
Would I want to know about the other thing and would I watch video footage of it? Yes, and maybe — it depends how attractive they are. But that’s irrelevant to what they have to share about their first-hand experience of treating several hundred patients on the “frontline”.
“Any Opinion Not Promoted by Mainstream News is a Conspiracy Theory”
Others on the FB shouting hall started throwing around the term “conspiracy theory” like it was a slur. However, I’m pretty sure that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Censorship can be pretty clearly seen to have happened on Twitter. Additionally, a Facebook employee publicly and proudly admitted taking down footage of those speeches made in Washington, D.C.. Again, I’m only concerned with the act of silencing doctors.
“Wanting all Sides to Be Able to Speak on a Subject is Proof of Confirmation Bias”
My favorite comment from the peanut gallery was that I was told I only read content that would satisfy my apparent confirmation bias. Confirmation bias regarding what, exactly? That a gathering where degreed, licensed, actively-practicing doctors speaking to the public was blocked by many publishers…er… platforms? Can we not agree this happened?
As I mentioned there, and which was obviously lost in the over-100-comments fray, I read all angles. That is, I did up until I was done herding the comment cattle back to the original focus for 3 days. After a point, I couldn’t bare 1 more blood-pressure raising Idiocracy quote. Yes, it’s true that after 3 days, I received one more link I was told I needed to read and I didn’t read it. The title itself was a derogatory, anti-Christian straw man in the context of this convo. That was enough of that Medium article.
As I said there, I’ll repeat here:
When something happens in the news, you usually won’t see me comment right away. I have a superpower of being able to reserve judgment and remain open-minded on a matter for an extremely and abnormally long amount of time. I consider evidence from all sides — **to the point that Facebook’s algorithm thinks I politically lean the exact opposite of how I actually lean**. I read the full article. I listen to the public hearings in full, without biased commentary or editing as much as possible, to preserve the integrity of the source. I don’t rely on pundits for bullet points and argument “gotchas” to use as a regurgitated debate weapon; I come to my own conclusions.
In fact, here is my laughably inaccurate Facebook Big Brother data which I believe is largely calculated by content a user engages with:
Unfortunately, after reading many of the opinion-pieces-disguised-as-unbiased-reporting which my friends throw up links to, I know I don’t have many like-minded acquaintances. Reading one of these is like tuning into an old-school MTV’s Real World episode!
I imagine the editors directing their “journalists” this way:
What I want to see is jump-cuts galore! Cue dramatic music. Cut this person off at the beginning of her sentence. Good. Now again at the end. Perfect. Now let’s write an entire opinion piece wildly misrepresenting the intended meaning of that quote. Make it 3 pages long. What’s that? Oh, no, don’t worry; you’re safe! No one will check the original source. They’ll read the headline, take our word for it and spend more time in their own comments section berating the subject than they did ingesting any original content. Remember they’re not seeking truth. Haha! Oh goodness, no. They’re only interested in intellectual masturbation and we provide the lube.
– The mainstream media news editor in my imagination
Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions.
– Bari Weiss in her NYT resignation letter
“You Only Want All Sides of an Issue to Be Heard Because Your Political Affiliation Makes You Biased”
Back in the Facebook war room, accusations of my confirmation bias somehow turned into comments about politics. Or perhaps that was a different thread on the post. I’m not sure; it’s all a blur now. But in any case, talk targeting my personal political persuasion also came up.
For the record, I am not a Republican. A lot of people are perplexed about which “side” I’m on and ask. Others make assumptions — incorrectly — most often that I’m a far left-leaning Liberal. So here it is as best I can describe. I am registered Independent and for the past several years I was a practicing Apathetic. In the last presidential election I voted “Stayed Home And Drank”. Look, I even made an awesome graphic about it back then:
However, if you’d put a gun to my head that day and made me actually pull a lever, I would have voted for “DEFINITELY NOT HILLARY”. The last presidential election in which I voted before that was in 2008, and I literally voted for Bugs Bunny.
I stand by that vote. He would have made a damn fine president. (And he wouldn’t have fined me for being poor when I was struggling and chose not to purchase health insurance, either. AH-HEM.)
So, in summary, I am skeptical of all politicians and agendas and people in power and I investigate all the things I speak or write on. I have no political horses in this race.
In any case, however, why is this being thought of as a partisan issue?!?! The uncensored speech of doctors should not be a political topic!
“Speech Should Be Suppressed Because I Haven’t Heard Similar Speech that Was Not Suppressed”
Another IRONIC argument I heard to discredit these doctors (and again, whether their warnings had merit or not was not the subject), was that the commenter had not heard similar comments elsewhere. They believed that because large governmental bodies held particular views and because they hadn’t heard a loud outcry against those views, the powerful authoritarian voice must be correct. It’s undisputed, after all.
Aside from the paradoxical ridiculousness of this notion in its own right, I have indeed heard many other doctors dispute the way our omniscient overlords are handling all this mess. I wonder why my friends hadn’t heard of them…
Senator Scott Jensen of the Minnesota State Senate springs to mind first. He is both a representative and a practicing family doctor. Jensen wears both hats at the same time, and so has a particularly interesting perspective. I believe it was a 2-part video on Twitter where I first saw Dr. Senator Jensen (or Senator Dr. Jensen?) You can watch the first one here so long as Twitter doesn’t take it down.
Dr. Jensen publicly spoke out on disturbing things he’s seen. These included the handling of death certificates in regard to COVID-19 and the way this disease is being described to the public. Now, Jensen is being investigated by the Board of Medical Practice in Minnesota for those statements.
“…doggone it, if this could happen to me, my view is it could happen to… anybody.”
– Senator Dr. Jensen
Jensen also expressed deep concern over bureaucratic moves regarding COVID not aligning with what he sees as prudent measures from a medical standpoint. In fact, by how he describes some government mandates and information reported by authorities, it might all be more aptly labeled as deception.
Of course, there’s also Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi from California. Oh, but they were “debunked” when some articles were slapped together to question a portion of the many statistics they mentioned in their now blacked-out broadcast. Gotcha. So we can just call them quacks, too, and hand-wave away all their concerns, right?
Did you also read a fact-check/debunk/smear piece on Judy Mikovits and so now you have the social permission to dismiss her or roll your eyes and say you know better than to listen to a word this scientist says? But is it even possible to dismiss someone if you don’t have the chance to listen to them in the first place? That film tied to her name was found to be so “dangerous” it was banned…
So, is that all it takes now? Just one mocking, ridiculing article from an opposing side and the American people are rendered incapable of critical thinking?
“We Need Big Brother to Burn Books For Us”
Other comments on my wall voiced worry that other people are foolish and have difficulty with their critical thinking. Granted, this part was hard to deny in the face of the general thread. However, there was one espousal to the claim that it is the duty of higher authorities to protect common folk from their own feeble minds.
So we’re back at the point in the human social establishment cycle where we’re burning books again? Is that where we are? We’re afraid of words?
If you’re of a pro-book burning mentality, maybe you wonder why we can’t just let one main, overarching body mandate procedure for all peoples in situations of limited understanding. I’ll tell you exactly why.
The Danger of Removing Doctor’s Discretion
Even before COVID, it was difficult for doctors in certain situations to act in what they believed to be the best interest of their patients. What follows may just be an anecdote to you. To me, it was vivid, excruciating proof of how dangerous it can be when doctors play strictly by the book instead of being allowed to use their own critical thinking skills to “do no harm”.
In January of 2017, I admitted myself to an emergency room in Manhattan. I had one request: to be tested for a rare disease that can only be accurately tested for during an acute “attack”. There was most definitely an acute attack going on.
Many incomprehensible things happened during my “treatment” over the next several days. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and the testing they put me through in that condition added to the pain in a way I can only describe as true torture. In the past, without medical intervention, these attacks have brought me to beg God to take my life during the peak moments I suffered through them. I didn’t know it was possible to feel even more pain than that until I began to receive medical attention for the first time during one of these episodes. In the hospital, it was difficult to speak for myself and advocate for what treatments I accepted or wished to refuse. I was alone, I was weak, and I was at the mercy of “best standardized practices”.
After initial test results came back, the several ER docs, students, and specialists all stopped by to tell me I had a different disease because it was more statistically likely than what I asked to be tested for, and statistics rule decision making in the hospital. They never tested me for the disease I asked to be tested for.
Standard protocol for that common disease was to put the person on an IV drip of a certain flavor of antibiotics. A nurse stopped by to attach a bag to my arm without telling me what I was prescribed. I had to ask as it was drizzling into me. “Oh this is common for what you have. It’s just an antibiotic.”
I snapped a picture of the bag because I knew in my mental state it would be the only way I could remember later what they put in me. I was also extremely skeptical of their record-keeping procedures at this point.
Shortly after the drip started, I went from unimaginably bad to somehow worse. My heart began to race, and I broke out in a sudden sweat. The feeling of impending doom that I sometimes typically feel at the beginning of an attack escalated to a level I’d never experienced before.
Two doctors happened to come in to check on me as this was happening. I asked them to turn the drip off. They told me they would not because this was a standard drug for what they were guessing I had. I then instructed them to turn it off. They still refused. All the while, the physiological symptoms increased. Then, I rapidly started to lose my peripheral vision to the point I was nearly blind. And then I finally found my voice. “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF! I CAN’T SEE. I’M GOING BLIND! TURN IT OFF OR I WILL RIP IT OUT OF MY ARM I SWEAR TO GOD.”
They turned it off for a while, discussed it, and decided I couldn’t have been experiencing anything from the drug because not enough had gotten into me to cause a reaction. Then, they turned it back on.
Several minutes later, as I dragged myself out of the ER bathroom, IV stand in hand, I ran into one of the doctors and told her it was happening still. I said she could put me on a different antibiotic but this one needed to stop. She put her hand on my chest and felt the sweat and whispered, “oh shit… You’re right.”
I was switched to a different drip and didn’t have a problem with that one. Then, I was admitted to an actual hospital room. When the nurse in the hospital room was going over my personal data I asked if the antibiotic that nearly blinded me was on my list of “don’t even think about it” drugs in his records. He said there was no mention of it. I had him add it to my records and showed him the photo of the IV bag because it was the only record I myself had of the name of the drug.
This was all extremely upsetting, but I haven’t even reached the point of this unreasonably long tangent…
When I was released, the specialist who shoved cameras up my ass and down my throat during some additional testing told me my problem looked absolutely nothing like the disease they’d been guessing it was. Yet because they still didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me, the diagnosis would remain as that same statistically likely but incorrect diagnosis. Because statistics. Because common practice has it that hospitals don’t get sued when they just make decisions according to statistics.
I was then given a prescription to get filled when I left. Guess what the prescription was.
I’ll give you 2 guesses, but you only need one.
They prescribed to me the drug that they witnessed me having a devastating reaction to. I asked the professional who gave it to me, “uhh, what the hell is this? You should know I had a reaction in the ER. I nearly went blind and passed out. I made sure this was on my record so you didn’t give it to me without my knowledge in the hospital room. Why are you giving me this prescription? Why didn’t you even warn me that this was the drug I couldn’t tolerate?“
The medical professional looked flabbergasted and then said, “uhhh.. let me check.” He left the room to have a meeting about the situation and when he returned he told me, “well this is what we have to prescribe you when you have the disease we diagnosed you with. It’s standard procedure. We have to.” And then he whispered, “but it’s up to you whether you want to get the prescription filled or not…That’s up to you.”
Several days later when I’d recovered enough from being hospitalized that my brain could work well enough to do a simple Google search, I found something interesting. There is a list of drugs that could potentially kill a person with the disease I’d asked to be tested for. The antibiotic that caused no reaction in me was on the “safe to prescribe” list. The antibiotic that seriously fucked me up was on the “we don’t know for sure but there’s a chance this could seriously fuck up or kill a person with this rare disease” list.
So, if you didn’t get the meaning of this tangent – the topic of doctors being able to use their own sound judgment at their discretion is fucking personal. Invariable rules laid out by a hospital’s insurance company or a medical board should not get in the way of what a doctor knows to be best for his or her patient. And if those rules are seen to cause harm, directly or indirectly, doctors need to have the freedom without fear of retaliation to question, to speak out, and to practice their art.
When doctors are made to be more afraid of losing their license or of ostracization than they are of causing or allowing bodily harm to their patients that is a big, big problem.
While many of my friends see a bunch of doctors standing on Capitol Hill as quacks simply because a biased rag published a smear piece on 1 of them, I see that group differently.
I see several individuals who invested more time and money into their careers than most Americans would care to imagine doing for themselves. I see a few who have been scared they will lose that career they built, their livelihood, their reputation, and their ability to provide for their families if they spoke out. And yet, they still spoke out.
They have so much to lose, but what do they have to gain by being there?
I see a group of doctors who each, independently, came to the decision that it was more important to protest a higher authority than to yield to it. I see doctors who must truly care about Americans’ health whether you agree with their perspectives or not.
I see heroes. And they’re ticked off. I am, too.
I also see a different type of hero in all of this.
At a time when a historic NASA-SpaceX mission is making a landing, I find I’m much more in awe of another industry. I actually toyed with the idea of training to become an astronaut when I was a tyke. However, the idea never really filled me with excitement. No, there weren’t any roles I saw in society that I found truly admirable and inspiring until about 8th grade when we learned about Muckrakers.
These were the badass investigative journalists who exposed corruption at the turn of the last century. These men and women went to great lengths to do so including risking their safety or chance of prosecution. Most exciting of all, they uncovered truths for the public to view which often led to real reform.
On Capitol Hill last week, if it weren’t for the Breitbart News stream Matt Perdie filmed, millions of people might not have heard those doctors’ voices. But was that “muckraking”? Wasn’t it rather just regular, old, unbiased reporting?
I think it was both. And that’s a scary thing. When a supposedly far-right syndication is doing something controversial by simply airing an unedited broadcast when experts speak at a press conference, that should raise alarm bells in all of us.
Most of all, that should immediately concern other news outlets. If vitally important, apolitical content continues to be absent on moderate and left-leaning outlets, ya’ll are going to drive people to the other side of the aisle just to get their regular news.
At some point, though, we sometimes have to give our swollen arteries a breather and call it a Matthew 7:6 moment. So for me, right now, this “cast” is over; I’m signing off.
Getting paid to travel around drinking delicious beers and telling the world about it?! Well, I sure as hell wouldn’t mind that gig. In fact, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing with my life lately — in between testing new entrepreneurial ideas, that is.
In the past 6 months, I’ve drank in Ireland, Germany, and a whole shitload of Asian countries: Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore (Thank You God for the beer in Singapore), Indonesia and Russia. All the beer I tried in Asia (aside from Singapore) really made me miss American craft brews and old-style Euro-brews. I would crack open a can of something, take a sip, and then look back at the cold metal with bitter sadness. “Oh grains, you could have been so much more. What did they do to you?” At least I enjoy novelty to the point I could find delight in trying the new things even when they tasted like disappointment. Plus, all the bad beers enhanced my appreciation of the good stuff in the West. Beer and internet speeds: I never truly knew how good I had it.
Then there is the food. A delicious craft beer is lonely without some truffle fries with aioli or a perfectly grilled meat which was lovingly massaged by off-grid hippies every day of its living life. When I finally got to Singapore after months of travel, I was craving a well-made burger and craft beer so hard that I blew my food budget for the week on those items. It was one of the most sensible decisions I ever made. Upwards of $50 to once again taste a hoppy, in-your-face Bridge Road Bling IPA from Australia, and a thick, juicy, flame-licked burger smothered in cheese, onions and mushrooms. Magic.
Of course, just as with drinks, I enjoy the novelty of new foods even when it tastes strange in bad ways. I brought you along in all those food discoveries as I tried lamb shanks in Ireland to pair with my Irish red, and chocolate banana roti in Indonesia to compliment a refreshing can of Bintang Radler. These were the things that tasted fantastic. You were also there for raw horse meat, fried octopus tentacle balls, and chicken heart. These were in the more-totally-fucking-strange-than-savory category, but I think you enjoyed the novelty, too.
Onto the part where you can get paid to do all of the above:
World of Beer is selecting 3 “Drink It Interns” to travel for 3 months this spring/summer, learning about beer, drinking beer, and telling the world all about it. They’re looking for beer lovers who can learn, travel, drink and social media proficiently. Yes, social media can be a verb; it just makes sense. It probably helps if you’re comfortable roaming the planet alone and striking up conversations with strangers in places where beer lives. I so got this.
If you want to apply, too, hurry! Application deadline is March 26th, 2016. That’s my birthday, by the way. So, you could just not apply as your present to me to help my chances. That would be great!
Here’s my application:
And here’s where you can apply on the WOB site if you plan on getting me something else for my birthday:
I only have one full day left in this country and threw this rambling, boring explanation together as to why. Ain’t got time to explain it to everyone who asks!
The final thing I was told by the Immigration officer who kicked me out was that it had to do with me not having a ticket to leave within the first 90-day visitor stamp I was issued in September… but as you’ll see, there’s a whole lot of other disturbing and confusing stuff going on, too.
A lot of my new Irish friends have expressed vitriolic anger and indignation on my behalf. I find this amazingly kind and sweet! But let’s not repeat the same actions the officers took and take things out of context… I am not an Irish citizen. I’m just some asshole American who wants to spend my money here. The officers are there to protect Irish citizens, not their economy. And then there is Paris, remember. If I were them, I might lean toward “better safe than sorry”, too, if my ass were on the line.
Side note: So glad I spent a grand and waited 2 months for Panasonic to fix and send me my brand new fucking camera which required me to buy a 2nd video editing software and resulted in the worst quality video I’ve ever made. Fuck you, Panasonic. So hard.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Kettering University’s 2015 homecoming festivities along with the celebration of the Physics Department’s 20th anniversary. As a physics alumna, I felt especially compelled to visit this year. I didn’t see all of ya’ll there, however, so here is a rundown of what you missed.
FLINT HAS CRAFT BEER AND COCKTAILS
I attended the pub crawl and bus tour that was one of the many activities available over the 3 days and it was surprisingly awesome! While some (all) of us were a little disappointed not to pick up a dollar-pitcher of moldy PBR from Churchill’s, or survive a trip to the bathroom at Rubes, our more sophisticated, adulty palates appreciated the change. We went to 3 different places where we had highly decent bar food, interesting craft cocktails and excellent beers, including 501 Bar and Grill at Saginaw and E. 1st Street pictured here:
This club did not exist when I attended the university, but I THOROUGHLY APPROVE. Our tour guide explained there are grills. There is meat. Students show up and eat the meat. All these key features combine to make it one of the most active clubs on campus. Yes. Yes to all of this. Can I still join?
BJ’s LOUNGE SERVES BEER
Ok, this one is a little misleading. Yes, BJ’s serves beer now, but it’s only granted 4 single-day licenses or so per year which are only used for alumni events. Still, my buddy and I were compelled to drink a Labatt when we had lunch at BJ’s JUST BECAUSE WE COULD. And it was everything we dreamed it would be. The food wasn’t bad either especially when compared with that slop Ernie would feed us that had us camping out in the restrooms. Remember that?
By the way, BJ’s has been completely revamped and it’s awesome. They regularly serve food and there are games and great study areas with screens that connect to your laptop. It’s great. I’m so damn jealous.
As Kettering University was once General Motors Institute, a place where people with man parts went to study, it’s always been a bit difficult to locate the nearest ladies’ room. That was especially so near the library and by the physics labs. It was actually noticed finally and something was done about it! If you’re a former female Kettering student, I know you can share my excitement:
NO ONE GOT SHOT
My fellow alum and I stayed in downtown Flint, near where the bar crawl began and ended up walking, like without a car and everything…through Flint…at night…and no one died! We actually didn’t feel afraid. Really! At one point a crack addict did approach us and pestered us for… well, not really sure what she wanted. There was no attacking or other crimes committed, however. This was probably the most seriously amazing and weird feeling part of the weekend.
THE STUDENTS ARE STILL SMART AND AMAZIBALLS
Below is one of the fantastic posters from a session held during the weekend. I’ll probably write more detail about this specific poster later… We got to meet several students and they are still sharp and driven and that signature Kettering weird that’s the endearing kind of weird. It’s good to see not everything changed.
THE PRESIDENT IS NOT A DB
The new president, Dr. McMahan has gotten a reputation as a savior of sorts, and I can see why. Around when I graduated around 2006/2007, it was looking like Kettering was getting ready to close its doors forever. Lots and lots of changes have happened since then which are very difficult to grasp, even still. The vibe is different. The staff and faculty have hope. Building is happening, funding is pouring in, and more building yet is planned. The concrete desert where GM used to have it’s plant will be a beautiful park, thank you very much Mary Barra. More housing. More places for students to want to be on campus. More restaurants.
Most surprising, however, may have been my own reaction to hearing Dr. McMahan speak. In prior years, I remember a talk by the president to be always accompanied by groaning and eye rolls from the student body. This guy is different. This president very actively communicates with all the people on campus and it is apparent that he genuinely has a passion for turning things around and growing the university into a vision of all it could be. I think he is one of the most inspiring examples of leadership I’ve ever witnessed and the results of that leadership are already beginning to bear fruit. In short, the president is not a DB.
NO, GLEN AND I ARE NOT DATING
Just in case I missed someone who meant to ask us how we met but didn’t have a chance, no, fellow alum who joined me, Glen and I are not dating or married or otherwise coupled up. Some of the people we met for the first time were actually assuming I never attended the university and was tagging along, but that’s understandable… I guess. Anyways, just thought I should put that out there. He’s lovely though, everybody. And single…like me!
….plus so many more changes that need to be experienced to be understood. If you have the urge, give in to it and pay the university a visit. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, too.
Although Augsburg, DE was never my home, it is a familiar place to the point it evokes a strange feeling of comfort. That is — when I’m not getting trampled by large beast men. Of course, it certainly helps that a very dear friend, his lovely wife and his adorable new spawnling also reside there.
Nevertheless, my buddies wanted to give me a real touristy tour type tour of the place, and I think we all got to see parts of Augsburg we’d never seen.
First up, we broke into this gaudy piece of architectural magnificence — the Goldener Saal in Augsburg’s town hall. We stared up and around in awe of the detail and beauty created by ancient artists reaching us through oceans of time.
I especially liked these weird little carved dudes decorating the walls:
Looking out from the “golden room”, I spotted a rainbow spread across the town! But…but, I’m pretty sure we’re inside the pot of gold. What could possibly be over there?!
The next day, we went on an official, guided tour of Augsburg, and got to see the Goldener Saal again! Yea! This time we learned that the building was pretty much obliterated in WWII and this was a complete reconstruction. Talk about a buzzkill…at least there was the Fuggerei on the tour to look forward to!
I half believe my friends took me on the Fuggerei tour because in German, G’s sound a lot harder than English G’s — it’s almost like a “K”…and…well, think about it. My friends expected me to break into giggles everytime I heard the word “Fuggerei” or heard mention of the “Fuggers” – the family that runs the Fuggerei.
Ok, so maybe they were right.
The Fuggerie is a social housing project that dates back to the 1500’s and is probably the only successful one in existence…unless you count Cabrini-Green. Oh, I just made myself chuckle. Ha! I was pretty impressed that such a thing existed. Old man Fugger was a very rich dude and built some very nice, though plain residences for needy Catholics who vowed to pray daily and pay (something like) a buck a year. Here’s a pic of inside the complex (and other tour-takers, not Fuggerei-ers):
When we went inside one, I recall noting that it was much bigger than the last apartment I rented in Chicago. My friends thought it was tiny. PFFT.
There are a few factors I believe led to the success of this housing project:
1. There is limited space in these things, and if you are lucky and blessed enough to get in, you really, really don’t want to screw that up. People tend to live there until they die.
2. It’s gated and if you come stumbling home after 10 p.m., you need to pay a guard to let you in, or you’re out in the cold that night. That would serve as a pretty good deterrent for debauchery, too.
3. Back to point #1, there is limited space and so there are strictly abided selection criteria. You have to earn/win a space to get in.
I don’t think any U.S. housing projects had such stipulations attached to them…
We continued strolling through the city center and right before we were about to take in the lovely sun-shiney moment below, I was bowled-over by a gigantic German dude on a steep hill who would have literally knocked me over if not for my friend breaking my fall. And then gigantic beast man kept on walking without a word or hesitation… There’s nothing more interesting to that story — just wanted to mention that that kind of shit sometimes happens in Germany, because… comparative social weirdness. Oh look, the sun is out!
Our final stop on the tour brought us to this breathtaking statue which, when created hundreds of years earlier, mysteriously foretold the final game of the 2014 World Cup between Brazil and Germany.
Either that, or my brain was tired of listening to German and just made shit up. Really couldn’t say.
Later that day, I scored my own VICTORY. Much of this was brought home with me… NOM NOM NOM. I don’t know why I got so much milk, but it tastes Totally Different in Germany, omagerhd. So good.
And then another remnant of the World Cup victory, which I’m told is an absolute oddity in this anti-nationalistic country when it’s not a Cup year:
Later, we went out to dinner, and I embarrassed my gracious hosts with the Sauberer Saubär when I was confused about the word “Saubär“. It’s kind of like when you call someone a “dirty pig” or a “lazy dog”, but in a really cute way that you might admonish a child. It means “pig bear”. Trouble is, it sounds a lot like, “sauber” which is an adjective meaning clean. WTF? So I made the “clean dirty pig bear” because it’s just as ridiculous to my silly American ears.
The next day, my gracious hosts, presumably pissed about the “pig bear” thing at the nice restaurant, tried to finish me off. They thought they would take my fat American ass for a hike around the world and up and down mountains. OK, not quite. I survived, afterall! It was an absolutely picturesque trip to the Ammersee:
I could have sat and stared at this beautiful lake all day:
Unfortunately, my friends wanted to get to that killing-the-American part of their weekend. So, they took me half-way up this mountain thing — the castle circled shows the tippy top:
I couldn’t be agitated though, ’cause I was too busy trying to keep from giggling as they tried to push the all-terrain baby stroller up an Alpine mountain. 😀
It was sad to leave the next day, especially the part where I had to say goodbye to my new surrogate niece. She was Not Happy and “couldn’t even”. 🙁 So heartbreaking! At least I had one last beer garden at the airport to console myself with:
And also, the flight to Ireland was pretty entertaining, or at least the part where I tried to imagine the badass they needed to make this caution sign for:
There’s a sign. You know it happened at least once.
Hoping to see you all again soon, my Germany-residing darlings. I’m missing you already so very much!