Tag Archives: Money

Spring Break

So I’m hoping everyone out there had a great spring break because I know I sure did. I may not have had the most extravagant of a spring break, I didn’t get to travel anywhere cool like some of my friends here at the college did: Hawaii, Florida, California; but even though it wasn’t the coolest break it may have been the most rewarding.

I went home for spring break, back to the beautiful Sioux City, Iowa, where I settled into the house and called up some friends who were also in town. Before I did that though I knew that I was going to need some work to keep me occupied, though I had friends that lived in Sioux City they worked during the day which meant that I would be stuck at home which would not only be boring but also unhealthy (because I tend to eat when I’m bored at home). So not wanting to go through the hassle of going back to any of my current employments: Fareway, Carousel, etc that would require me to set up a schedule etc and would have been too much hassle just for one week of work; I rather decided to post an ad on Craigslist offering to do some general labor: moving, lifting, etc as well as offering to do video and photography work as well. I was a little skeptical at first; we all know the stories about the “bad people” on Craigslist. Anyways, I quickly got a response from a nice woman who needed help with yard work and various moving. I went to her house and everything was legit, possibly some of the hardest most physically strenuous work I’ve done in my life for sure but for $10/hr I figured it was worth it. She asked me back the next day and the day after that totaling me in the end at $120, a nice stash of cash to bring back to the college with me (though to be totally honest I spent most of it while I was still at home). So bottom-line this entire story goes out to all those college students and college students in the future that your spring break/breaks in general don’t have to be boring and unfruitful.

Aside from working and making much needed money I had a lot of opportunities to hang out with some of my Sioux City friends which I greatly appreciated. My friend Jordan, who is soon to be married, let me stay overnight at his place just like we did all the time in the good-ole-days giving us time to reminisce. I got to go with him and his fiance and her friend (who I will be eternally grateful to) who took me out to see Insurgent with them.

Quinn, the one I mention in the My Life A Fan Fiction stories is always one of my go-to guys while I’m in town and we had a good time chilling together. We found ourselves at Perkins a lot (since it’s open 24/7 and we stay up pretty late) just talking and having a slice of pie. At one point we went down to South Sioux City where a friend from high school worked and messed with her until she got off. From this experience I got my first lottery ticket (I do not condone the buying of such items but I won a bet and it was pretty much bought for me) which got me some winnings of about $2.

Interesting story that goes along with what I was just talking about. After the whole lottery ordeal we went with this girl to Perkins where we sat down and snacked on pie while we all talked when in walked this guy, younger handsome looking possibly a college student, who sat a couple tables ahead of us all by himself and ordered some food. He noticed us conversing (which wasn’t hard we were kind of loud) and decided to watch us (very obviously) and listen in. We all noticed it except for Kayla (the girl with us) who was sitting with her back turned to the guy. Anyways he continued to stare which was freaking Quinn and I out and I even once looked over at him and smiled and nodded, very passively but nevertheless, and it did nothing the man did not look away. At one point I made a reference to Avatar: The Last Airbender (freaking love that series) which this guy picked up on and said, “dude you like last airbender? Nice!” and reached over to give me a high-five which I returned cause I’m just a nice guy like that. Anyways he got his food which he would eat a little of and then go back to watching us and once finished with his food left and paid without a goodbye. If you’re the guy and you’re reading this I’m not mad or anything but definitely hit me up in the comments and let me know what’s up.

The whole break had it’s ups and downs such as finding that someone had taken a dump in the Hamilton blvd McDonald’s urinal which was disgusting and if you did it and you’re reading this, dude that’s not funny it’s disgusting seriously. But thankfully the break had more ups than downs and that’s what’s important.

The Big Black Friday

Big Black Friday

     Who’s ready for The Big, Black, Friday! It’s November 2014 and Thanksgiving is almost here and one of the famous quotes that relates is: “America, the country where we trample each other over sales right after celebrating being thankful.” It’s true we have Thanksgiving Day and immediately afterwards we go full attack-mode and fight over a Bluray marked down to a couple bucks. I have partaken in the pseudo-holiday that is Black Friday so know that I’m not hating on anyone that participates in Black Friday or the sales and deals that come with it.

     Right now I’m currently awaiting the release of the Black Friday ads which I typically get from this site: TheBlackFriday.com but sadly they have yet to be leaked or released, I will keep you all updated.

     My friends and I, since about three years ago, started a tradition of going Black Friday shopping. We would meet at one of the guys’ house and leave at about 8PM (or whenever the deals start, which seems to be getting sooner and sooner every year) and make a game-plan of which stores we wanted to hit and which deals we were going to go for. We do our best to try to help each other as much as possible; if Mike wants that flat-screen TV for $100 at Target, then we all swarm that and if one person grabs it they hand it off to Mike so he can get that item he was hoping for.

     It’s a dangerous holiday activity and one of the big things we look forward to every year are the videos that birth from the hectic nature of Black Friday. It tends to piss me off when I see someone getting video of a fight at a store and all the police/guards are focused on is the guy with the camera, because for some reason it is illegal to record video in many of the stores. What I understand is that you ARE legally allowed to film in public places which can include retail stores, the issue is that you ARE NOT allowed if the store has a no-photography sign posted in the front of the store which typically Wal-Mart typically has. If you ARE thinking about filming during this Black Friday check out the rules of filming in public here: ACLUPA.organd feel free to share if you do!

Checking the Status of Social Media

Originally I wrote this as a homework assignment, but I really got into it. It intrigues me when i hear the negative things people have said about Social Media and how it’s been affecting us as a society and humankind in general, so this is my response to the social media haters out there as well as just something social media lovers can read and keep in the back of their heads in case you ever have a run in with a social media hater who poses an argument. Bottom line I just hope it helps clear things up in some way or another.

It has been argued from the earliest of developments whether or not social media is good or bad. Many have taken a stance against it saying that it is harming the youth of today pushing them into a state of anti-sociality and others argue it’s a good thing that allows us to connect with those who we might normally have difficulty connecting with. My personal stance that I will be fighting for is that: yes, social media is a good thing.

I want to start this post off addressing the negatives of social media, or at least the negatives that people claim based off of social media. First of all is the social media side-effect of cyber-bullying a new way for people to prey on others through the internet. Many have pointed out the cases of people being bullied online leading to depression and even suicide by the victims, one thing that’s important to remember though is that bullying happens in real life as well as online. It is practically impossible to refrain people from picking on others whether it be through social media or in reality. In any case though bullying is going to happen, it’s sad to say I know, but the truth is still there. Whether online or offline social media cannot be blamed for the side-effect of cyber-bullying which is just that: a side-effect. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yik Yak, etc are not to blame for the arguments, wars, accusations, fights, and general drama that goes on they did not create it they simply created a place where it can happen. The concept to remember, though, was that cyber-bullying was obviously not the purpose of the creation of social media. Anything can be perverted from its original purpose and the same is the case with social media.

Another issue many have with social media is their privacy. Many think that social media is constantly taking the information that we share online and shares it with companies and organizations. This is true social media does in fact pass this information around, but one also has to remember that they were the ones who posted that information in the first place. Any random person on Twitter can see a post you made so how is that any different than a company happening to stumble upon it as well? You as the consumer of the social media site are putting yourself out there, and all those companies that get your information pay good money to do so which pays for sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up online and so you can keep playing Candy Crush and posting selfies. Social media sites have terms and conditions that one agrees to in order to create an account and on top of that they can only use the information that one gives them.

So far we have seen that all the complaints made about social media and what it supposedly does to us all revolve around the individuals. We see that individuals are responsible for bullying others online, we see that it is the individual who is responsible for what they post publicly online, and now we will discuss how it’s the individual’s responsibility to be responsible when they partake in the fruit that is social media. In many of today’s workplaces whether it be schools or businesses we see an increased use of technology: tablets, computers, laptops, and even phones all capable of accessing social media. With this in mind there is the argument that social media is distracting us from our jobs and the work we should be doing. It is known that many employees have been found slacking off during work because they are chatting with someone on Facebook, or young adults and kids caught sneaking a look at their Twitter feed during class time, and it has thus been claimed that it is social medias fault. Why, though, is social media blamed like it is a person waving its hands about in front of us diverting our attention from our work when in all reality social media is an inanimate object unable to grab us and drag us away from what we should be doing? Again, I venture to say that it is we who are allowing ourselves to become distracted by social media, we can make choices we are free-minded beings not robots whose minds are being controlled by the creators of our online societies. Also, we could be just as easily distracted by a book or television as we could with Facebook or Twitter.

Studies show that Social Media is a close second place just behind newspapers for how people receive their news, with 28.8% of people receiving their information from newspapers and 27.8% from social media. Social media is so instantaneous that it outdoes any other news source in existence. People who were at the scene of an event have the ability to immediately share what they’ve seen on social media as it’s happening, this may sometimes detract from the accuracy of the news due to people having the tendency to lie and exaggerate, as well as the fact that you’re seeing it from one person’s view as opposed to the story as a whole but bottom-line these issues result in any medium of getting our news anyways.

We discussed a little about social media and school earlier, but there’s another aspect we haven’t even delved into about how social media can positively affect school and students and that is the fact that a lot of schools use social media as a way to get information around as well as turning in assignments. During my own senior year at high school we began using Google docs as a way of turning in assignments, and schools all over the US and even the world are doing this. Here at Buena Vista University we use Angel and Canvas to get notes, times, dates, homework, etc for classes. We can use Facebook to connect with other students while doing a group project. Social media allows us to keep from using as much paper which in turn helps the environment (never thought that was possible through the internet).

Social media has allowed us to connect. I can talk to someone all the way around the world in seconds from my phone. Many, though, have argued that it makes us antisocial but I beg to differ. I again will return to the argument I made before in that one’s choice to lack in interactions due to their over usage of social media. Yes social media can be addicting, but that only means it’s up to the user to decide when too much is too much.

One aspect I think is great for social media that has been under a lot of debate is: an employer using it to look into their employees or potential employees profiles. I’ve heard it said that this is unethical but I beg to ask the question: why? Why is it so wrong for an employer to see what an employee is publicly posting online? Other people are seeing it, so why is it so bad for me, a boss of a company or branch, who wants a hard-working employee who is going to be a positive piece of my workforce, who I will be paying with my companies money, and looking into what their like. If that person is a partying, racist who demoralizes women over Facebook posts, he’s not going to tell me that in his interview. As I’m going to say later on, social media is a tool and if it’s available to me as an employer I have the right to use it.

As far as economic growth goes social media has helped create jobs as well as helps businesses both big and small. Even aside from free advertisement it allows businesses to easily post information as well as deals for their customers. It helps small businesses to grow and become recognized, and allows customers to easily gain access to their products. As discussed in the book Spreadable Media social media is “spreadable (it’s in the title). This is what allows us to see something we like and share it around with others. This aspect works wonders for companies, businesses, and the like because it publicizes their product or service, what people do and don’t like, and shows them where they can improve.

In conclusion I would like to reiterate that I stand for social media. We as human beings have choices we are capable of making and those choices have outcomes both positive and negative. What we do with social media is our choice, remember: social media is a tool and we decide how we use it. In the words of Estaban Contreras the author of Social State: Thoughts, Stats and Stories about the State of Social Media in 2013:

“We create and collaborate on virtual collages with Pinterest, we upload real-time videos on Socialcam, we learn together on Udemy, we shop for our friends on Amazon, we turn links into memes on Reddit, we share presentations on SlideShare, and we stream out friends’ favorite songs on Spotify. The web, or at least most of it, has become social, and this is because it is a reflection of what we care most deeply about.”

 

Citations:

 

N/A. “Social Networking ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. ProCon.org, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 05

Oct. 2014.

Mullaney, Tim. “Social Media Is Reinventing How Business Is Done.”USATODAY.COM. USA Today,

16 May 2012. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

Jenkins, Henry, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a

Networked Culture. New York: New York UP, 2013. Print.

Contreras, Esteban. Social State: Thoughts, Stats and Stories about the State of Social Media in

  1. 2013. N.p.: n.p., n.d.com. 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

Tips for Beginning Filmmakers

So you want to create visual stories? It’s a defining attribute of humankind to want to tell stories this is why we have social media, a direct link to the entire world; but making a visual story isn’t quite as easy as just pulling out a camera and waiting for one of those crazy accidents to happen like on America’s Funniest Home Videos, one must prepare to tell a story especially if they are going to do it with video.

1. Get a Camera

canon-eos-rebel-t2i-dslr-camera

How can one make a video without having something to record it on. Getting a camera can be easy, but getting the RIGHT camera is a little more…expensive. One could get any cheap $20-$100 camera from Wal-Mart but that’s not going to get you very good quality. What you’ll probably want to go with is a DSLR camera which you can get at almost any store and definitely at an electronics store like Best Buy. These cameras are reasonable priced at about $300+ but you can always get one used. One thing to note though is that not all DSLR cameras have video capabilities, so make sure you check before you buy. One of the great things about DSLR cameras, aside from being cheaper than a compact high-end video camcorder, is that you can do a lot as far as lenses go. With the ability to interchange between lenses you increase your quality and allow you to add depth of field to your shots. I suggest a 50mm lens for great depth of field.

If you’re really short on cash that’s ok you can still tell your story. use your phone or tablet (if they have cameras) or even a webcam, these will still let you tell a story but don’t expect the quality to be great.

2. Create a Story

Obviously you can’t make a story if you have no story. Come up with a concept, a theme if you will. Great ways to brainstorm ideas is to start off with a genre. There are many genres: Action, Horror, Adventure, Romance, etc and you don’t have to stop with just one. Also, look around you at the areas you have available for you to film at. When I was just starting out in high school I filmed a lot at a good friend of mine’s house. So take that setting and decide what you can do with that. If it’s night time and you’re stuck inside maybe make a horror video. Whatever the case is get creative and be original!

example-movie-script-page

Also, if you’re not too short for time create a script and a breakdown, and maybe even a shot list or screenplay. A script is the written out form of what you want your actors to say. This helps them to be prepared and it helps you, the producer/director, to have the story planned out so you’re not flying entirely by the seat of your pants. If you DO want to write a script use Word or Pages (depending if you’re a Mac or PC kind of person). Or go online and use Adobe Story which is a great way to write your script and make it look professional as well.

A breakdown shows all the aspects of your production as far as the where you’ll be filming and what you’ll need. This includes actors, costumes, locations, props, etc. Anything you will need for whatever scene is important to know ahead of time. Along with these you might want a shot list, which simply tells you what kind of camera angels, pans, zooms, etc you will be wanting for each scene. Get as detailed as you are comfortable with. If you aren’t intensely comfortable with terms and words for a shot list you can instead make a storyboard that illustrates your shots. Hey, you don’t have to be really artistic either so long as you can draw stick figures you’ll do just fine.

3. Get Together Other Equipment

field-tripod-46lar

Maybe you want to do fancy pans, make you want to do dolly shots or jib shots, whatever the case you will need a tripod at the least. You can probably get a decent tripod for $10 or so at Wal-Mart (Note: this will be a very cheap tripod so be careful with it because it will break easily). What you want to do though is simply keep your shots in mind and prepare accordingly. If you’re short on money (probably from buying the camera) but you still want some cool Jib or Dolly shots (Both Jibs and Dolly rigs are incredibly expensive by the way) there are ways to either substitute (use a wagon instead of a dolly) or even build your own. If you go to YouTube you can always find some great DIY tutorials to build your own film equipment such as: Film Riot or Indie Mogul.

4. Actors

Our film professor at the college I’m attending once told me that actors will always be one of the hardest parts of making your video, and he was right. Finding people willing to act in your videos and then getting them to actually show up and take part is one of the hardest things in filmmaking, especially when you’re just beginning. Try getting everything else planned out first then plan a day when you need your actors to show up that way you have everything set and ready to go. If you’re using your friends that’s great, but one thing to remember is that people are easily bored so make sure you’re not taking their time to set up etc. This will lead to them becoming uninterested and want to leave.

5. Start Filming

So now you have all your equipment, your script, your actors and you’re ready to start filming. Hold on a second though, there are some things you want to keep in mind.

Lighting:

Light

You can have a great story and good actors, but when it all comes down to it if you can’t please the audience it won’t matter for squat. Make sure you have some kind of lighting in your video especially if it’s dark where you’re filming. Lighting can set moods and help in telling the story and making the audience feel a connection to the situation. Use lamps, flashlights, etc to add lighting to your scene and add mood.

Audio:

boom mic

If you went with my earlier suggestion and are using a DSLR camera, audio shouldn’t be too difficult. One can buy a shotgun mic or even a shoe mic online for around $20 which will greatly improve the quality of your audio. You can also buy lavaliere microphones and attach them to some kind of audio recorder or even one’s phone, then syncing it up later in the editing process.

6. Post Production (Editing)

Windows Movie MakerimovieAvidFinal Cut ProAE

Alright so you’ve done it, you’ve gotten through the filming of your story. Congratulations that was the hard part, now on to the part that can be a bit tedious: editing. There are a lot of options when it comes to video editing software that all depend on what you’re used to or what you can afford.

Windows Movie Maker or iMovie

The most inexpensive video editing software are Windows Movie Maker or iMovie because they are free on your Windows or Mac. These will let you put your videos into a timeline and splice up the clips and move them around as needed. You won’t have a whole lot to do in the effects department, you should be able to do a little color correction but other than that you’re pretty limited.

Stronger Programs

If you’re looking to do some simple effects you might want to look into going a little higher end with programs like Adobe Premiere Elements or Pro. These will allow you to do some green screening and keying as well as stronger color correction. The kinds of programs will range from $50-$100 depending on where you get them, but are worth the cash if you’re looking to make your final product a little better.

Getting Professional

If you are really comfortable around editing or want to start learning early you might want to go with programs like Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro, etc which will allow you more freedom in effects. These programs will give your videos a much higher quality look (remember though that nothing can fix bad camera work) if done right.

7. Sharing

YouTube_logo_2013.svg

One of the beautiful things about the technology of our time is social media, letting us share our thoughts and other content with people from all around the world. With film and videos this is a great asset to sharing your visual story, YouTube especially. Making it simple to upload your content YouTube is definetely the place you want to go to post your video, and hey maybe it goes viral and you can make some money off of it as well. Also are blogs and your social media such as Facebook.

Final Thoughts

You’ve succesfully created your video and now you can share your story visually to the entire world. Making a video can be a complicated process but bottom-line it can also be fun if you keep it that way. So have fun and share your stories with the world!

Flipping from Goodwill Part 1

Being the poor college student that I am I’ve always been searching for clever ways to make money that don’t require me to go too far or get a degree in anything I’m not already getting a degree in. One way that I like is flipping items that I buy from second hand stores such as Goodwill. It’s not quite that easy though. You could probably sell anything you find at a second-hand store online, but to actually make some decent money off of it is the tough part. Now obviously you can’t control what items you find at your local second-hand since things are constantly going in and out of them but it’s always good to know what to look for when you go right?

Tip:

When you’re flipping always remember to bring your smartphone or something else that can get you on the internet to allow you access to see pricing on Amazon or Ebay (or even a place like Etsy) so you will know what is and isn’t valuable.

1. Games

Recently I went into a Goodwill with my smartphone and started to search the items I found that looked either antique-ish or brand new still in the box items. I searched and searched and eventually I discovered a section with some small classic handheld games.

Handheld games by Radica such as this one that are still in the box can bring in $20-$100+ on Ebay. I found this Bass Fishing one that was still in it’s package and can go for around $30, but there was a poker game I found that (were it still in the box) had the potential for being worth almost $100!

Me and Work Part 3

As I was saying I wanted to work Dairy section at the grocery store I worked at, but getting there wasn’t easy or maybe it was honestly I had no idea! We had just gotten a new assistant manager who seemed really friendly and was a great guy but I didn’t know him well enough to just go up to him and ask for the position, and as for the main manager i was always intimidated by him which was weird because he was also a really nice guy who was always encouraging his employees to be better. So I waited, I waited for an opportunity and I kept working hard being the best employee I could be and let me tell you that hard work really pays off, sometimes not in the way you’d expect though because a week or two later one of our freezer part-timers left and the freezer manager was in need of someone to take his place. I was good friends with the freezer guy so i immediately without hesitation offered to take his place and there I was finally off the floor. Sure the freezer was really cold but i didn’t have to do as much since freezer didn’t go empty very often which meant if I was bored I could go hang out and help my floor friends with their work (by then though they would have done all the hard stuff) and on top of that if I ever wanted to I could still go hide in the freezer to get away from the hustle and grumpy customers. Yet, I still wanted that dairy section to be mine, and now that I was in freezer (which is right next to the dairy) it made me want it even more. To be continued…

Me and Work Part 1

So as a typical American young adult I know a decent amount about working. Currently I’ve worked about half-a-dozen different jobs in my lifetime. It started with helping my dad who is a contractor, some of the most boring or sucky work I’ve ever done. I helped him fix various things at people’s houses and apartments: leaky pipes, holes in walls, etc and also installing things like A/Cs and water heaters all pretty boring stuff and required me to either sit around handing my father the next tool he needed every 10-20 minutes, or carrying something (typically) heavy from the car into the house. At the same time I did a lot of mowing, and honestly as long as I was getting paid to do it I really didn’t mind. I started doing a weekly mowing job for my uncle that got me $20 a week and his lawn was really not all that big, I kind of felt bad like I was taking advantage of him or something. I still do this job during the summers. Sometime in 2010 I started working for a local grocery store, if you like in Iowa or the surrounding area you might recognize the name Fareway, great company they make really good fresh meat that they slice etc right in front of you as opposed to pre-packaging it like most other grocery stores do. Anyways this was the first professional job I ever had where I was on an actual payroll etc. I’m gonna stop this blog post here and move into a part two.