After a (not-so) brief hiatus

…two-plus years, specifically….

I’m reviving this site. I’ve wanted to bring back this blog for a long time now, but with balancing photography and either Chipotle or my other work, it’s been a little much.

It’s been a pretty amazing two years. Let’s see if I can summarize quickly:

  • Worked for Chipotle for about a year and a half during one of the most difficult times in the company’s history. Ultimately was a casualty of their business downturn — they call it “restructuring” in corporations — and parted ways a year ago.
  • Leaned into Shane & Alli Photography in a big way. The business is doing really well and continues to be a lot of fun for Alli and me.
  • Spent most of 2017 working for a nonprofit, leading their marketing, community fundraising and annual giving efforts. More “restructuring.”
  • Traveled to some really amazing countries — Iceland, Ireland, Czech Republic. I’ll come back to those in a future post.
  • Adopted two dogs after Dreyfuss passed away. Named them Buzz and Woody.
  • Turned 40.
  • And 41.

So yeah, that’s what’s been going on with me. I still tweet a ton and I post a lot of photos on Instagram.

The blog just became kind of secondary to all the other social media things that were going on. I pointed this domain to my Tumblr for a while because I at least was pushing my Instagram posts there…

Over the holidays, I had this idea to start a movie blog that took a slightly different approach. Then I thought to myself, “I can’t even blog on my own site, what makes me think I could do a movie blog?” So a few days ago, I dusted off the SQL database for this blog, installed a fresh WordPress instance and voila! Here we are.

Let’s see if it sticks.

What I’m Reading Right Now

books
Work has quickly returned to the fairly normal breakneck pace. The box office has returned thanks to some surprising numbers from End of Watch, Hotel Transylvania and Taken 2. I’m trying to catch up on some reading, whether blogs books or otherwise and wanted to share some of what I’m reading right now.

First, since I live online, here’s what I’m reading there:

  • First on the list is the terrific new blog from the folks behind Uncrate — GALLIVANT, a travel guide for guys. The site is divided into five categories: Stay, Scarf, Sip, Shop and See. Exposing great hotels, restaurants, bars, stores and locations in cities around the world. Really obsessed with this site right now.
  • Fake TV Character Twitter accounts from Aaron Sorkin TV shows. Love Will McAvoy from HBO’s The Newsroom (who I wish was a real news anchor and debate moderator) and Fake West Wing President Josiah Bartlett. (Consequently, both accounts are actually written by the same guy.)
At work, I’m reading some short reads on new and current approaches to building websites.
  • Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski. A part of the brilliant A Book Apart series and a terrific follow-up to Ethan Marcotte’s Responsive Web Design that I just finished. These books are written by guys who have actually done it. As someone in the middle of a project like this, I’m intrigued by these new approaches.
And the books I’ve recently read or am currently reading for enjoyment:
  • Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. I love Hornby. High Fidelity is one of my all-time favorite books. But for the last several years, while he’s collaborated with Ben Folds and written young adult fiction, he just kinda lost his way. Juliet is really a return to the style that made him famous.
  • Love Wins by Rob Bell. I’m a fan of most stuff that Rob Bell writes. His latest is pretty controversial. Looking forward to reading it. Hoping that it inspires me somewhat.

So what are you reading?

What did I miss?

So I’m back from Jamaica.

The Jamaican Sky

Alli and I and the rest of the family have been at Beaches Negril since last Saturday. While we were there, my brother and his lovely significant other Kelly got hitched on the beach on Tuesday afternoon. Both families were there as were a bunch of Jake’s friends and we had a great time. After an all-day journey yesterday, we’re back in Kansas City, away from the island humidity.

It looks as though the internet didn’t break while I was gone, although I  did win a contest and my biography was posted on Brad’s site. It looks like everything else is as it was. 

I read two books while I was gone, finally finishing Wild at Heart by John Eldridge and quickly consuming Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. I’ll post reviews soon.

As far as the rest of the week…I’m taking the rest of the week off from work. I may tackle a redesign of my own site if I can do it quickly. We’ll see.

How are you?

Reflections on the Big Easy

I wrote the following while I was on my way to New Orleans last Thursday and thought I’d throw it out to the Internets to see how you like it. It’s been edited, but mostly it was my gut reaction as we flew toward the Crescent City…

My Hotel Room View

I oftentimes forget that people travel to New Orleans because of its history. And it is a city very rich with history. Unfortunately, that’s been tainted by years and years of poverty piled on top of the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

The first time was in 1993. I remember the year because we went for the Final Four. Kansas was playing in one of the most stacked final weekends of the tournament ever, with Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Kansas lost their semifinal game to the Tarheels, who were led by Eric Montross.

North Carolina went on to win the National Championship, defeating Michigan in a game that would go down in infamy as the one where Chris Webber called a timeout at the end of the game that the Wolverines didn’t have, resulting in a game-sealing technical foul.

What I remember of New Orleans from when I was 16 was really more the spectacle than anything. I remember traveling to the Tulane campus with David Rowe and visiting Frankie & Johnny’s for my first experience with crawfish. We saw Bourbon Street and the debauchery in all its glory on the first night, the streets packed with fans from all four schools milling around from bar to bar, from strip club to strip club, drinking and generally just making asses out of themselves.

We toured the French quarter during the day, which is really when people should see it. Bourbon Street is too much to take, but the rest of the quarter is intriguing, filled with art shops and tarot card readers along the streets.

I was reminded of this New Orleans today as I sat on the plane returning to the city that I’ve grown to dislike very much. It is rich with history, sure, but the smell of sewage in the city casts an overwhelming. I’ve not been back since Hurricane Katrina hit and I’m interested to see what’s been done to overcome that tragedy.

The woman across the small plane from me was sifting through her “Walking Tour Guide” and other assorted New Orleans tourism maps and such. She reminded me that some people (myself not included) still visit this city at the mouth of the Mississippi because it’s fascinating. There really is a lot to see if you want to find it. You just have to ignore the smells and the other negative things that go along with a city that has endured what New Orleans has.

This is my fifth trip to the city. While my first experience was amazing, being led around by a former native, going to the Final Four, etc., my following experiences (outside of the amazing food) have been less than stellar. There’s no reason I could point to particularly…I just remember the city being dirty and less impressive with each additional viewing.

Now I realize that like I said earlier, what I don’t like about New Orleans is that it seems like a city with a lot of potential, but it just can’t get it together. Something horrible happened to the city, but the government has thrown TONS of money there, but it still is a ways from being right again and I don’t know if it ever will be because the people in charge have about as much of a clue as to how to run a city as those running Kansas City, Missouri proper.

Either way, I just don’t see myself ever going back there to visit. I’ll go when I absolutely have to for a conference or whatever, but I’m not going to voluntarily go back. It would take some serious motivation for me to do so.

Back from The Big Easy

I’ve was in New Orleans Thursday through Saturday for a conference. As we drove back to the airport, I summed up the trip as such:

“I just can’t understand why anyone would want to live in New Orleans. I barely ever want to even visit here.”

And it’s the truth. Sure, the food is great (it really is) and the music is good, but the negatives vastly outweigh the positives there. The town has been very slow to recover from Hurricane Katrina, but frankly, I didn’t think it was that great before the disaster. Any major city that situates itself 2 to 6 meters below sea level isn’t making good decisions, if you ask me.

Add that to the overwhelming smell of sewage, the high violent crime rate (4 times the homicides of Kansas City), and the vast poverty and you’re looking at a city that isn’t really appealing to me.

The food is pretty darn good though.

The first night, we ate at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, an upscale seafood place right on Bourbon Street. I ate raw oysters (teetering on the edge between gross and intriguing) and an absolutely amazing entree of crawfish-crusted Gulf fish (see below). That meal was by far the best I had, although the Shrimp Po-Boy I had at Landry’s for lunch the next day was pretty tasty too.

Crawfish

I’m glad to be home. We flew ExpressJet and had to actually walk out on the Tarmac to get on our plane. To call it small is an understatement. One seat, aisle, two seats. That’s it. The Bose QC2 Noise-Cancelling Headphones made the flight a lot easier. It was weird getting back from the 80 degree weather of Louisiana to the high 30 degree weather in KC. You gotta love the midwest.