All the jobs I’ve had with my brother

The other day I was thinking about how a lot of the jobs I’ve had are thanks to, and were right along side, members of my family. Probably because we’re both guys and only a year and a half apart, it was my brother that I worked with mostly. Going all the way
back to 4th grade, I remember helping him deliver newspapers when we lived in Fort Adams; military housing in Newport, Rhode Island.

Paper or plastic, ma’am?
wdMy first real job, though, was bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie in Miami, Florida… once the area recovered from Hurricane Andrew, that is. Who was bagging there, too? Yep, my bro. The dynamic duo at your service! I have a few memories from this job. The one that stands out most was this lady that came through the line, you had to keep an eye on her, for sure. Even thinking about it now, all the fear I had in the moment rushes back. I think she just had some sort of mental disorder but here’s what she would do: grab something from a nearby shelf (like a candy bar next to the register), throw it on the ground and step on it. At one point, she had a loaf of bread in her hand. Tossed it down, stepped directly in the middle of it. I couldn’t believe it. She did this with a few other things, too. Weird stuff, man.

We gotta wake up at what time????
hardeesFast forward a couple of years and my brother and I were spending the summer in Monticello, Florida. Our dad was starting a new job in New York, so he went up early, before the rest of us moved there from Florida. My mom was spending time in Tallahassee with her parents. So there we were living with my dad’s parents in a house they built off of South Mulberry Street. Well, about a block away was a Hardee’s. We both got jobs making biscuits on the weekend. We only worked a couple days a week, but just knowing we had to wake up at 4am both days was enough to ruin the entire week. But it was pretty awesome to have grandparents that woke up with us, made us breakfast, and drove us the 1 block to get there. And our boss was funny, in a “does he think we’re curing cancer?” kind of way. One time a batch of biscuits came out overcooked. Lost the batch. Boss proceeded to punch the wall. Classic.

You’ve got to scalp ’em Seminoles!
Two years later we were both students at Florida State and he helped me get a job at the Leach Center, where he was already working. We both worked there for the remainder of our college careers. This job reinforced the importance of being on time. They didn’t have much tolerance for being late, I’ll say that! We both made a lot of good friends there, some we are still friends with today. And by the way, if you’re ever trying to use someone else’s ID to sneak in somewhere, at least make sure you kinda sorta possibly look like them! College kids, man, you’d think they’d be a little smarter 😉Leach New Inside

It’s where, now?
Another place we both worked was a summer camp in Lampe, Missouri. It’s called Kanakuk. I know, I know, I just said a few words you may not have heard before. But Lampe is about an hour south of Branson and Kanakuk is pronounced can-uh-cuck. An amazing place for kids to learn sports taught by college athletes and at the same time, grow in your relationship with God. No, I was not a college athlete. Unless you count being intramural champs, baaabbaaayyy! DSC09261My brother and I both count Kanakuk as a big influence on our lives, from the people we met and worked with there, to shaping our outlook on life and faith.

We’ve also worked together on various video projects over the years. One might be a workout video, another a sports highlight reel. Here’s one we made recently of his son, my nephew, playing football.

So I’ll finish by saying that of all the things my brother is great at (sports, public speaking, being a brother, friend, etc), he’s also been a great co-worker. And he’s got an amazing younger brother, too!

-Out of the Wilderness

 

 

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All the places I’ve lived, and a favorite memory from each

coast-guardMy dad was in the Coast Guard, so that meant a lot of moving around. Before I was born, my family had already been up and down the east coast, and spent some time on the west coast, too. My oldest sister was born in Key West, next oldest sister was born in Monterey, CA and then my brother in Virginia. When it was my time, the family was back in Key West. I was there for a short time before we moved out west. Here’s the list!

born: Key west, FL (December 26, 1978)

Hawaii – I was just a little guy here, about a year old, so I have three memories: attending a luau, going into a building, and going under a bridge (or tunnel?) on the way to a beach. I guess the luau is my favorite because I remember looking across and seeing my baby sitter.

Hollywood, FL – Started my academic career here at Sheridan Hills Christian School. Favorite memory: Our family took a lot of boat trips. We went down to the keys, spent nights on the water, I got sea sick for the first time, and still, these trips are easily my favorite memory!

me as 4th grader 2St. Petersburg, FL –  Attended Maximo Elementary School for 2nd and 3rd grade. Favorite memory: At school I met a friend that made me laugh so hard all the time. To this day, I measure everyone else against him. He was so funny. One of my least favorite memories: My funny friend was not at school one day, then not there the next day or the next. A few days later, his mom came in and picked up his things. I never saw him again!

Newport, RI – This is where I attended 4th grade at Underwood Elementary. Favorite memory: touring all the mansions, like these.

the-breakers

The Breakers. 62,000 square feet! 

newport-mansions-43

Rough Point. 39,000 square feet and 105 rooms!

A tie for favorite: all the lamborginis. Not sure why there were so many, but it was somewhat common to see one driving around the city. And Saabs. Lots of Saabs.

2-me-and-whitney-williams.jpg

5th grade at Widewater.

Stafford, VA – I was a 5th grader at Widewater Elementary School then moved to Stafford Middle School for 6th and 7th grade. These are my favorite years from growing up. I made great friends that I still have today. One favorite memory: trick or treating on Halloween one of the years. Somehow a friend and I got separated from our group of friends, but he and I still went around to so many houses. That was a fun night! Also, our house was situated on a golf course so we’d go out there to play football, capture the flag, flashlight tag, and hmmm, maybe hit some golf balls. I also came up with a list of things that happened in middle school that absolutely would not happen in today’s world. Here’s a link to that:

[11 Things You Can’t Do In School Anymore]

Miami, FL – Westminster Christian School for 8th – 10th grade. Favorite memory: being on the JV basketball team. And it was in 10th grade I had my first kiss. I know, I was late to the party! 🙂

New York, NY – Curtis High School for half of 11th grade. Favorite memory: I got to see a taping of David Letterman. It was really fun. We lived on Governors Island, so it was nice to have a place with grass, and trees, unlike most of New York City back then! Also, riding a ferry past the Statue of Liberty every day on the way to school was pretty neat.

Tallahassee, FL – Finished 11th and 12th grade at Leon High School. My dad retired from the Coast Guard in 1996 so we moved back towards family in Florida. Favorite memory: this is getting difficult because with each place, I have more than one favorite! But to name a few, I’d say my aunt’s lemon squares, my grandfather driving 120mph in his Isuzu Trooper to get me to school, pb and j lunches at The Brown Bag Express, basketball with friends, and graduating from the same high school my mom graduated from.

Note: I stayed in Tallahassee for college, as well. I have so many great memories in those 4.5 years. Too many to pick one!

Nashville, TN – This is where I’ve lived since the mid-2000s. Also too many great memories to pick one at the moment. So I’ll go with the lame answer: My favorite memory of Nashville is all of them. 😉

-Out of the Wilderness

Funny text about moving to New York City

Got this text from a friend of mine recently. She included a picture that shows the names of people that get the most dates in NYC. Because her name is on the list of girls, she joked that she’s moving to New York. (Names on the list are… guys: Michael, Matt, Ben, Jason, and Simon. Girls: Amanda, Nicole, Jessica, Alexandra, and Katie.)Screenshot_2015-10-02-12-06-09
And here is the list of names…image

The Reawakening: Part 11

It’s not see you later, it’s goodbye.

You know how when you are leaving your friends from high school, or college, or moving to a new town, some friends say, “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later”? I don’t feel that way at all about the job I was laid off of just a few months ago. The friends I made there? Yes, I will miss them and I know I’ll see some of them around town or in future work.

But I’ve got this comfortable feeling of rest and relief, maybe it’s called peace, about leaving that particular job in the past. It’s a part of my history that I’ll remember with a smile. Lots of good things can be directly related to it:
the first girl I ever loved
great downtown parking
amazing live music performances
an introduction to Roy D. Mercer
helping to produce nationally televised shows
great friendships
trips to places like Las Vegas, the gulf coast, Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, and many more

The people that told me how fast time goes after you get laid off were not wrong. Hard to believe it’s already been over 5 months. But I haven’t missed the job for a second! I’ve had a great summer that I will look back on and thank CMT for making it happen. Soon I will have another job or two, I’ll be back in the “real world” of making paychecks and scraping by, but for a few months, I lived how I imagine my dogs feel every day. Wake up, have some fun, bark at things, eat, sleep.

-Out of the Wilderness

The Case of the Missing Retainer

I was a junior in high school living in New York City. We had just moved there from Miami, Florida, where we had been for 3 years. Our stay in New York wasn’t for long, only 6 months because my dad retired from the Coast Guard. We couldn’t continue living on the military base (Governor’s Island) so we packed up and moved to Tallahassee, Florida. I wasn’t sad about the move because during the 6 months I was able to do make some memories: snow skiing, sitting in the audience for a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman, playing flag football, learning how to type fast, trying out for the school basketball team, and whitewater rafting with my dad. But one thing I wasn’t able to do was get my braces taken off. I was in 9th grade when I got them. Why? Well, let’s just say the theme song for my teeth was Fleetwood Mac’s…

Some people had buck teeth. I had a buck tooth. And none of my other teeth pointed the right way either. I got braces in Miami, kept them in New York, and it was my senior year at Leon High School (go Lions) in Tallahassee when they were finally removed. “Phew! Just in time for my senior pictures!” But it was in New York that the unsolved case of the missing retainer happened.

One night, a lot like any other, I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I dutifully inserted the retainer which I was supposed to wear while I slept. However, when I woke up the next morning, it was gone. Ruh roh Raggy. I checked everywhere. The bathroom trash. My bed sheets. Under the bed. Beside the bed. Under the pillow? Nope. Days went by and the retainer was still missing in action. When it came time to move, I thought, “OK, now that retainer will turn up!” It didn’t. To this very day, I can’t explain what happened that night. The only chance of reopening this cold case is to find the retainer in the box of my stuff in my parent’s attic. And honestly, I hope it’s not there. That would be gross. Can you imagine the smell? Of course, I’m curious how much a vintage 1996 retainer would go for on eBay.

The moral of the story is that sometimes things just go away and you have to be alright with that. It could be a retainer or it could be a person you love. In the end your teeth might still be a little crooked and so might be the path you take, but you should still smile, and smell the roses along the way.

-Out of the Wilderness

Hotel Reviews: The Millennium UN Plaza in New York City, New York

Another trip and another hotel, this time in the city so nice, they named it twice… New York City! My colleagues and I arrived on a Wednesday. On a late flight in, we checked in around midnight thirty. The hotel staff greeted us quite pleasantly. There was only one hiccup in the process, but I don’t imagine this happens to everyone (because this week was also Fashion Week in Manhattan, so the hotel was pretty full), the following day we were told we’d have to switch rooms. Could be an inconvenience, but for making us do this, they gave us passes to the buffet breakfast at the hotel on the main level. Score! With that said, there were a few decent restaurants close to the hotel, including a Sushi Time, a few pizza places and a number of grocery convenience stores. However, the breakfast was a fair and pleasant compromise. Plus, we didn’t even need to ask for any kind of compensation, they simply gave us the breakfast. They also promised a robe in my room, which leads to the next critique.

Robes: No robes! I won’t say this is a deal breaker, but it’s up there close to the top. They may offer robes, but you definitely need to ask at the desk to make sure your room includes them. Neither of the two rooms I stayed in had robes.

The beds, one of the most important features of any hotel, were quite comfortable. I read many reviews of area hotels about the comfort of the beds they offered, so when you go to NYC and beds are important to you, the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel should be at the top of your list.
 The view from the rooms was good. One room’s view was almost completely taken up by the building next door, but the other room had an amazing river of the Hudson (I believe that’s what river it was).
Another important factor in your choice of room is the shower. This shower was quite nice. The water pressure was good (better in the second room I stayed in), and the shower head was the detachable kind (see picture) so that was an added bonus if you’re caring for a small child and need to wash their hair. The water stayed hot for as long as I needed it. There was no bathtub.
Internet was not free in the hotel. You could pay by the hour or by the day, and I believe it was available only in the lobby.

As far as size goes, the first room I was in must of been a suite, because it was very nice and extremely roomy. You’ll notice in the pictures it even had a spiral staircase up to the next level which included the bed, another bathroom (no shower) and another entrance door. The second room was not as big, but still had plenty of room to spread out. Given the choices you’ll have in New York, these rooms were quite big and for the price, were better than 90% of what you’ll find at that size.
To sum up, I was pleased with my stay at The Millennium UN Plaza. Something that should be mentioned is what one of my colleagues informed me of upon our return to Nashville. Throughout the stay in his room, he consistently heard a pitter patter of little feet. I assumed he was going to say he could hear the people in the room above him, but he clarified by saying it was the sound of the four-legged nature. Yes, mice. So that is a major issue. If you are looking at this hotel, be aware this might occur, but my guess is that if you mention it to the front desk they will be more than happy to make you comfortable during your stay.

As always, if you have stayed at this hotel and care to offer some feedback, it’s much appreciated!
 

 

The Art of Being Funny

“Women of New York… frost yourselves!”

In the movie, “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days,” Matthew McConaughey’s character Benjamin Barry is pitching a slogan for a new advertising campaign when he yells this memorable message out a New York high rise window. The response is a guy on the street below yelling back, “Frost this!”

There are a simple factors in humor. Below you’ll find pointers in how you, too, can be funny. Let’s start with example 1:

Your friend: Dude, can you pass me the ketchup?
You: Sure, here it is.

Your friend asked for ketchup. Because you’re not funny, you passed it their way with little thought. Now check this out:

Your friend: Dude, can you pass me the ketchup?
You: No, but I’ll pass you YOUR FACE.

There you go, much better. Note that it’s important to raise your voice a tad when you get to the “YOUR FACE” part. Now you’ve learned one way to be funny, ludicrous comments that are over-the-top, borderline offensive and typically unexpected. A few other ingredients for being funny are the same things that make a baby born. Timing and delivery. An excellent example of this is Heathcliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Time and time again the most funny scenes aren’t even what he said. It was the way he said it. Other times it was the look he gave as he parented his children. Without even speaking a word, he could have the live studio audience ROTFLing. So if you’re taking notes, I’ve covered two ways you can be a funnier you:
1. add “your face” into a conversation
2. practice timing and delivery

Another thing that can help you be funny is remembering that comedy comes in three’s: setup, setup, punch. Take note the next time you’re watching television. You’ll be surprised how much the setup/setup/punch delivery method is used. In comedy, two is not enough and four is overkill. Three is the sweet spot. A recent example of this from Spongebob Squarepants:

This ties in nicely with the next pointer I have for you: repetition. Take a mildly funny comment or thought, repeat it enough and someone will start laughing. It’s true, try it. If you’re still having trouble making people laugh, here’s pointer five: make clever observations of common events. I’ve seen this on the Late Show with David Letterman. The President is giving a speech and Dave will point out the kid picking his nose in the background.

Something else you can do to be more funny is what most people are embarrassed and/or afraid to do. Belly flops for example. Or this:

So to sum up, anyone can be funny. Even you. The idea, though, is to make sure it’s on purpose, unlike “text and walk” lady above. Practice timing and delivery with clever observations, repetition, and a willingness to laugh at yourself instead of being embarrassed. However, if none of these work and you still aren’t that funny, try this:

Not funny:
Your friend hits a tennis ball towards you.
You jump out of the way.

Funny:
Your friend hits a tennis ball towards you.
Ball hits you in the crotch.

When all else fails, crotch shots.

Other thoughts on funny:
Shiny Mess
Scenic Route Snapshots