07 January 2021

Removing "Try" From My Vocabulary

Growing up and watching The Empire Strikes Back, I had heard the Yoda saying of "Do or do not; there is no try", which I didn't care for and just wrote off as just being some interesting philosophical rhetoric. However. having taken a real estate course called BOLD in the fall of 2019, I had a very different insight into using this Yoda line.


One of the most powerful lines I heard was, "You can have either reasons or results, but you can't have both." This was so deeply fascinating for me because I had always valued effort, but this positioned effort in a different light: trying is good, but you're not trying something simply to try it, you want to accomplish something. While it comes to real estate, yes, results are ultimately what matters, but this is more broadly applicable far beyond simply real estate.

So now I've got into a place where who cares about trying anything, it's not actually accomplishing something. Did you actually do something or not? And if you don't, you're merely left with excuses, which shows a lack of responsibility. Ever since being exposed to this idea, I have realized that it's been about understanding my responsibility and not just generating excuses. It's about results.

Ultimately, that's my reflection back on that Yoda line from The Empire Strikes Back, which is that it's about getting something done, it's about results, it's not about having simply exerted some effort, but it's ultimately about what you are actually accomplishing. What are you actually getting done? And that is why I have been working on removing "try"/"trying" from my vocabulary for over the last year.


01 January 2021

Discussing The Jewish Drinking Show on Two Podcasts This Past Month

For the first time, I have appeared on a podcast, discussing The Jewish Drinking Show. Actually, two times now.

The first of these podcasts is the Designated Drinker Show, of which I was the featured guest on the 152nd episode and they even crafted a cocktail for the episode(!).

The second of these podcasts is the Let There Be Light podcast, on which I was a guest on the 28th episode of the show.

In addition to these two podcast guest appearances, I also, of course, hosted the 54th episode and the 55th episode of The Jewish Drinking Show.

04 December 2020

Shifting my Hot-Take Videos on the Second Season of "The Mandalorian" to Provide Background

After the very first episode of the second season of The Mandalorian, I realized I should create an initial reaction video - a hot take of sorts - and I did that, in a way that was like a preview piece, since I really wanted to avoid spoilers, because I was putting it out so soon after the episode's release (the same morning). 

However, when the second episode came out, I realized I didn't need to avoid spoilers, since most people watching the video probably already watched the episode (as they probably wanted to remain far away from spoilers), so I could just give my reactions and hot takes on the episode(s). And that's what I did for the next few episodes. 

When I got to the fifth episode, I realized I should probably mention something about Ahsoka Tano and Grand Admiral Thrawn so I mentioned them and where they had appeared previously. But, as I've been seeing online and talking to more casual Star Wars fans, they want to know what these references are - who are these characters? 

That is what has caused me to change my approach to these videos, and I am adjusting for the 6th episode that just came out this morning, and perhaps the 7th and 8th episodes, as well, in this second season. 

So, now, my series, due to what I'm hearing from friends and fellow fans, is now shifting into a little bit of a guide, a helpful resource to people who may be less familiar with the Star Wars universe, and to provide background on characters and other things that have happened.

So here is what I've published today as the sixth video: 

(And here is the playlist for my videos on the second season

(Related: this series is a result of publishing more Star Wars videos in 2020)

29 November 2020

Beginning to Take My Star Wars YouTube Channel Seriously

Years ago when I created my Star Wars website, I also set up my Star Wars YouTube channel, and, sure, I put up a few videos here and there, but no particular concerted effort. However, helped in part by the global pandemic, I recently realized that I had doubled my YouTube output, from 11 videos published on my Star Wars YouTube channel from when I published my first video in late November 2014 through early December 2019, with another 29 having been published since - so I've nearly tripled the output in the past 8 months versus the first 5 years(!).

While a big driver of the new content were my quick book reviews, there has been a huge renewal in interest from fellow Star Wars fans, largely due to The Mandalorian, so I've been focussing more on that, with not only quick reaction videos after each episode of the second season, but also some further helpful videos related to the episodes (e.g. "Cobb Vanth in Boba Fett's Mandalorian Armor in the Aftermath Trilogy", "Mandalorians DO Remove Their Helmets", and "M-Count = Midi-chlorians?").

I realize people are loving the Mandalorian content on my YouTube channel, as well as the Darksaber, so I've been working on developing more of it, content-wise, but I also have begun thinking about visually working on my YouTube channel, including getting a new banner.

I would love to see where I can take this - both the YouTube channel, as well as developing my Star Wars content. I've also recently begun thinking about defining my niche(s) - it seems that I've had a lot of Mandalorian, Darksaber, and book content. I may also bring to YouTube some of the focus I have had with my Boba Fett and Darth Maul series....

In any event, I am curious to see how this continues to develop and we'll see where it goes.

08 November 2020

Growth in My Video Content Output Contributing to the Boost in Video Content for My Star Wars YouTube Channel

Having had a realization recently that I produced more video content in the past year or so than I had in the previous decade, and feeling a little bit bummed that I had missed out on so many opportunities over that decade, yet also realizing how much more opportunity there is in both the present and the future, I have felt the need to produce more video content to take advantage of the opportunities out there. 

A big part of this is directly attributed to my having got into Gary Vaynerchuk's content and ideas about putting out content, as well as the significance of video content. However, a big unlock for me came in the spring during quarantine when I got the idea to do daily videos unedited and for me that was a big unlock - not only to come up with ideas to speak about them and to not worry at all about post-production or any editing work at all and that was huge for me to go into it and just speak.

One of the ways that it actually contributed in a fascinating way has also been with regards to Star Wars videos. I created my Star Wars YouTube channel 6 years ago in November 2014; from November 2014 until March of this year, I had published 11 videos. Since then, I have doubled that production. 

Largely, this is due to the positive influences and ideas of Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as the realization I don't necessarily need to edit down my videos. So a huge major piece of that was just talking about books and not worrying about any post-production work. I've also begun to be less afraid to put out content also realize there's an interest in certain pieces of content. In addition, I just discovered a week ago the ease with which it is to record off of a screen, so I don't necessarily need to try to find and download various files of various television episodes of Star Wars shows, so it is a lot easier to go and record clips and then insert them into videos such as this video on The Mandalorian or this video from this past week on Jango Fett

So I'm very excited to continue producing video content and also to be working on my Star Wars YouTube channel, especially since we're only a quarter of the way done with this season of The Mandalorian and there's a lot of renewed interest in Star Wars and especially Mandalorians, as well as the Darksaber, of which I already have not only relevant video content, but a bunch of written content on my Star Wars website. I'm very excited to see what can happen and, hopefully, I'll be able to break through to 300 subscribers on my YouTube channel soon :)

13 October 2020

Julie Nolke's Excellent Explaining the Pandemic to My Past Self Series (So Far)

Sometime this summer, I stumbled upon a couple of videos entitled "Explaining the Pandemic to My Past Self", and found them hilarious. When the third in the series was published on Thursday, I knew I had to share them!

Created by Julie Nolke, an actress from Canada, this series envisions her travelling back in time to an earlier month in 2020 to speak to an earlier version of herself, which results in hilarity.

First Video: April 2020

The first video in the series was published on April 9th and envisions her speaking to her January 2020 self, which is greatly amusing, as her January 2020 self has no idea of what is coming:

Second Video: June 2020

The second video in the series was published on June 4th and has her June self visiting her April 2020 self immediately after her April 2020 self visits her January 2020 self:

Third Video: October 2020

The third video in the series was published five days ago and has her October 2020 self speaking to her June 2020 self. To be honest, I don't know why Nolke held off for four months to release the third video in the series, especially since so much happens in 2020. Nevertheless, the wait was worth it, as this one has been the best of the series so far:

I truly hope that she doesn't stop this series any time soon and that she continues releasing videos, as these are fantastic!

25 August 2020

Finally Starting My Real Estate Website

I finally did something that's been on my mind for months and I just hadn't pulled the trigger previously: creating a real estate website for my real estate business. I probably should have done it when I first became a real estate agent but I didn't, and then I should have done it after I completed my first real estate sales transaction and, again I didn't, and then I should have done it when I celebrated my one year anniversary of being a licensed real estate and, yet again, I didn't do it. 

The time has come, I decided, I really just need to have a website. Of course, yes, I do have one provided by my brokerage, however, I said that I really wanted a place especially to have information about my services, but I actually what was particularly driving me to have a real estate website was a place to showcase real estate videos.

Having published weekly real estate videos for over a year now, I wanted to feature these videos, as well as directing people to certain pages containing relevant real estate videos to help them out. Providing that value to people regarding real estate is something that deeply motivated me to create it. And, yes, there will also be various blog posts on the website, especially concerning the real estate market and other related information.

I finally created my real estate website and now I've got to go work on it - not only populate it with content, but also to get it into good shape.

23 August 2020

Fascinating Article on American Police History

Having never thought about policing and its history, I had simply been under the impression that policing has been around for many centuries. However, in the Western world, that has not necessarily been the case. I found a recent article to be quite enlightening about the police. Published in an issue last month of The New Yorker, Jill Lepore's "The Long Blue Line" in the July 20th issue (pages 64-69) (as well as online as "The Invention of the Police"), the article discusses the origins of policing in America.

Starting off etymologically, Lepore writes

"To police is to maintain law and order, but the word derives from polis—the Greek for “city,” or “polity”—by way of politia, the Latin for “citizenship,” and it entered English from the Middle French police, which meant not constables but government. “The police,” as a civil force charged with deterring crime, came to the United States from England and is generally associated with monarchy—“keeping the king’s peace”—which makes it surprising that, in the antimonarchical United States, it got so big, so fast. The reason is, mainly, slavery." (64)

However, as Lepore notes,

History begins with etymology, but it doesn’t end there. The polis is not the police. The American Revolution toppled the power of the king over his people—in America, “the law is king,” Thomas Paine wrote—but not the power of a man over his family. The power of the police has its origins in that kind of power. Under the rule of law, people are equals; under the rule of police, as the legal theorist Markus Dubber has written, we are not. We are more like the women, children, servants, and slaves in a household in ancient Greece, the people who were not allowed to be a part of the polis. But for centuries, through struggles for independence, emancipation, enfranchisement, and equal rights, we’ve been fighting to enter the polis. One way to think about “Abolish the police,” then, is as an argument that, now that all of us have finally clawed our way into the polis, the police are obsolete. (64)
The serious issue that is confronting us nowadays regarding police is

The crisis in policing is the culmination of a thousand other failures—failures of education, social services, public health, gun regulation, criminal justice, and economic development. Police have a lot in common with firefighters, E.M.T.s, and paramedics: they’re there to help, often at great sacrifice, and by placing themselves in harm’s way. To say that this doesn’t always work out, however, does not begin to cover the size of the problem. The killing of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, cannot be wished away as an outlier. In each of the past five years, police in the United States have killed roughly a thousand people. (During each of those same years, about a hundred police officers were killed in the line of duty.) One study suggests that, among American men between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four, the number who were treated in emergency rooms as a result of injuries inflicted by police and security guards was almost as great as the number who, as pedestrians, were injured by motor vehicles. Urban police forces are nearly always whiter than the communities they patrol. The victims of police brutality are disproportionately Black teen-age boys: children. To say that many good and admirable people are police officers, dedicated and brave public servants, which is, of course, true, is to fail to address both the nature and the scale of the crisis and the legacy of centuries of racial injustice. (64)

Lepore goes back a century to modern policing, which incorporated militaristic conceptions:

Modern American policing began in 1909, when August Vollmer became the chief of the police department in Berkeley, California. Vollmer refashioned American police into an American military. He’d served with the Eighth Army Corps in the Philippines in 1898. “For years, ever since Spanish-American War days, I’ve studied military tactics and used them to good effect in rounding up crooks,” he later explained. “After all we’re conducting a war, a war against the enemies of society.” Who were those enemies? Mobsters, bootleggers, socialist agitators, strikers, union organizers, immigrants, and Black people.

To domestic policing, Vollmer and his peers adapted the kinds of tactics and weapons that had been deployed against Native Americans in the West and against colonized peoples in other parts of the world, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, as the sociologist Julian Go has demonstrated. Vollmer instituted a training model imitated all over the country, by police departments that were often led and staffed by other veterans of the United States wars of conquest and occupation. A “police captain or lieutenant should occupy exactly the same position in the public mind as that of a captain or lieutenant in the United States army,” Detroit’s commissioner of police said. (66-67)

Pointing out a cultural disconnect about how police were appearing on television, Lepore observes that

Two kinds of police appeared on mid-century American television. The good guys solved crime on prime-time police procedurals like “Dragnet,” starting in 1951, and “Adam-12,” beginning in 1968 (both featured the L.A.P.D.). The bad guys shocked America’s conscience on the nightly news: Arkansas state troopers barring Black students from entering Little Rock Central High School, in 1957; Birmingham police clubbing and arresting some seven hundred Black children protesting segregation, in 1963; and Alabama state troopers beating voting-rights marchers at Selma, in 1965. These two faces of policing help explain how, in the nineteen-sixties, the more people protested police brutality, the more money governments gave to police departments.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared a “war on crime,” and asked Congress to pass the Law Enforcement Assistance Act, under which the federal government would supply local police with military-grade weapons, weapons that were being used in the war in Vietnam. During riots in Watts that summer, law enforcement killed thirty-one people and arrested more than four thousand; fighting the protesters, the head of the L.A.P.D. said, was “very much like fighting the Viet Cong.” Preparing for a Senate vote just days after the uprising ended, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said, “For some time, it has been my feeling that the task of law enforcement agencies is really not much different from military forces; namely, to deter crime before it occurs, just as our military objective is deterrence of aggression.” (68)

While the article is not a complete history of policing, nor, for that matter, is it even a whole history of the culture of police in America, it's a fascinatingly insightful overview of police in America.

05 August 2020

Star Wars & Judaism Series Completed

Having announced in May that I would be doing a Star Wars & Judaism Zoom series, I am proud to share that I have now completed this series.

Taking place on Sunday evenings from late May through this past Sunday, I am thankful to the handful of folks who joined me every Sunday evening for a dozen weeks to discuss similarities and dissimilarities of scenes from Star Wars movies against Jewish texts.

Drawing upon Biblical and Rabbinic texts, I compared and contrasted scenes and dialogue from the twelve theatrically-released Star Wars films, here are all of the source sheets from this series:
  1. A New Hope
  2. The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Return of the Jedi
  4. The Phantom Menace
  5. Attack of the Clones
  6. Revenge of the Sith
  7. Star Wars The Clone Wars
  8. The Force Awakens
  9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  10. The Last Jedi
  11. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  12. The Rise of Skywalker
While the first session was kept to 40 minutes, as I was on a basic Zoom account, I am fortunate that a couple of people stepped-up to sponsor and subsidize me upgrading to a paid Zoom account, for which I am very appreciative.

Thank you to all of those who joined in the discussions - it was a great experience! :)

23 July 2020

Reflecting on This Spring's A Few with Drew Series

Back in the spring, while on a walk around my neighborhood and listening to an episode of "Tea with Gary Vee", I was inspired to create a Coronatine project: "A Few with Drew" (which you can read more about its genesis here). Basically, I would create a new few-minute video every day, whether in the morning or evening, Sunday-Friday, and talk about a few things I was doing or what was on my mind. 

I posted the episodes to Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram; I did not successfully post to YouTube every day, but I was good about posting to Facebook and Instagram. This series lasted up until my first day at my new job. To some degree, I really thought I could continue creating "A Few with Drew" videos, but the next day, I really was no longer in the mindset of creating such videos. After all, these were meant to be both reflective of my Coronatine experience, as well as a creative outlet for me amidst Coronatine, but going into work for 7.5-8 hours a day no longer seemed to be in any way related to the Coronatine experience.

Wrap-up Episode?
I thought it would be a great idea to do a wrap-up episode of "A Few with Drew", but, as time went on, it just never happened :( This post is the closest I plan on getting to such a video (unless I discuss it on a different video...).

Beneficial Consequences
The effects and consequences of the 44 episodes I did with "A Few with Drew" extended beyond the actual episodes, themselves. One key consequence that I had been shooting for was literally sharing my experiences and having people react/respond, which I received and was great. I wasn't in it for huge numbers, just anything, and I was happy with that.

A halfway unexpected consequence was forcing myself to get comfortable and work on the skill of speaking to a camera in one-shot. While previous video projects of mine have involved editing, whether to remove my filler speech or for other reasons, I knew from the outset that I didn't have the bandwidth to take on a new video-editing project (in addition to my weekly real estate videos and weekly videos/podcasts for Jewish Drinking), so I would have to really have a sense of what I was planning on saying and speaking on the shows prior to recording. I have mentioned earlier that it caused an unlock in my reducing friction in creating video content, allowing me to create more Star Wars videos, as well as making my real estate videos less heavy on editing, which was great. 

Finally, an unexpected consequence of this project was live Zoom sessions: the first evening that I posted a "Few with Drew" video, someone suggested on Facebook that I turn it into a live Zoom discussion/drinking opportunity. So, that Sunday, I did a live Zoom session, which went well, then ended up doing a further four more. Out of these five Zoom sessions which brought together various people looking to connect amidst Coronatine, Star Wars kept coming up and I realized I wanted to do a live Zoom series focussing on Star Wars.

So, inspired by a rabbinic colleague's doing a special Judaism and Star Wars Zoom session, I recognized that no one has ever done an entire series on Judaism and Star Wars movies. So, after taking off Mother's Day for a Zoom session, the following Sunday, I began doing weekly Zoom sessions on Star wars theatrically-released films and comparing them with Biblical and Rabbinic texts (so far, ten sessions completed with just two further sessions to go(!)).

Going Forward
Although I was done with the series of "A Few with Drew", I really quite liked the idea of doing short, daily videos. Thus, a new series was inspired, "Minute Morning Musings", which I plan on discussing in a future post :)