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 :)

22 July 2020

A Core Thesis of Gary Vaynerchuk's: Put Content Online

For those of you who have seen me publishing posts on this platform (and other platforms, as well), you may have noticed that I have been sharing a fair amount of Gary Vaynerchuk-related content. Today is no different, as this is a quick clip of his sharing a core thesis amongst his ideas: put content online:

10 July 2020

A Few Key Gary Vee Videos

Having mentioned my appreciation for Gary Vaynerchuk videos, I've recently found myself commonly sharing a small number of key Gary Vee videos that I have found valuable and want to share with other people who I think would derive a lot of value from them, as well.

The first of these videos is not only the first Gary Vaynerchuk video/talk that I watched/listened to, but it's also an incredibly helpful and insightful video (which I may delve into further on another occasion):
After beginning to get into Gary Vaynerchuk content, I mentioned this newfound interest of mine to someone who respects Gary Vee and had even met him years ago. He shared with me this solid video from all the way back in 2015, which has remarkably - and insightfully - stood the test of time (at least so far):
Finally, having mentioned earlier on this blog about my appreciation for "Tea with Gary Vee", there has been one particular segment that has not only been deeply impactful for me in the way I think about charging for services, but is also incredibly fascinating (okay, and entertaining), which is the last half-hour of this video:
I hope you derive value from these videos! Enjoy :)

30 June 2020

Gary Vaynerchuk on Why Businesses Don't Seem to Care Much for Social Media

While beginning to listen to yesterday's "Tea with Gary Vee" episode on my way home from work yesterday, I found this segment to be greatly fascinating regarding businesses and social media:
I have mentioned before regarding my appreciation for "Tea with Gary Vee", and have been so glad that, after a few week hiatus, the show returned last week on a daily basis during the week! I am so excited for more episodes - this is really great Gary Vaynerchuk content!

21 May 2020

Starting New Job

Wearing a surgical mask for my first day on the job
New Job
I started a new job yesterday! The new job is working at Cedar Village, set to take over the position of Director of Pastoral Care. I am very fortunate that my predecessor and I are overlapping for a few weeks, allowing her to pass along her knowledge to me, helping foster a smoother transition, as she shares institutional knowledge with me.

Not Due to Coronavirus

While we are in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, the process for this job started before everything shut down due to this novel coronavirus. My first meeting to discuss this position took place right before everything shut down - it was a coffee meeting at the JCC. That seems so long ago, as Coronatine has so strangely distorted our sense of time. It was a different era!

Coronavirus Precautions
In addition to wearing a mask - I was actually given a surgical mask instead of the cloth mask I was wearing, due to the facility not permitting cloth masks to be worn within its walls - there are, as one would surmise, many, many precautions in place. Due to these precautions, much of my job is different at the moment than it will be when we don't have to worry about Coronavirus.

Coronavirus Differences
While aspects of the job description include making sure there are various classes (including teaching them), prayer services on Shabbat, and helping comfort families with regard to the condition of loved ones, those are not taking place in-person. However, this does help me focus, for the moment, on both adjusting to the new facility, the new job, as well as to developing relationships with those at Cedar Village, which will be significantly important in my pastoral role there.

Lot to Learn
I certainly have a lot to learn, in general, but certainly in the next few weeks as I glean insights from my predecessor about my new job!

07 May 2020

New Zoom Series: Star Wars & Judaism

Having spent the past five Sunday evenings convening a Zoom chat during this Coronatine period, which is something that developed off of a suggestion from a Coronatine project of mine, I have been wondering this past week about doing a Star Wars & Judaism Zoom series.

Starting Something New

Today, I decided to stop wondering and decided to go ahead and do it. Partially inspired by Star Wars Day this week and seeing a lot of interest in these two beloved topics, this series will be taking place over the next 12 Sunday evenings at 8pm EDT (5pm PDT) on Zoom. And there is no charge.

Temporal Structure
My tentative idea is to start off with welcoming people, as well as letting people sign-on for the first five minutes, followed by 20-25 minutes of textual discussion, and finishing-up with 10-15 minutes of Q&A. This is based off a 40-minute Zoom call, but if we can work something out, it's possible to make it longer.

My plan is to look at both broad themes in these theatrically-released movies (e.g. hope, luck, revenge, anger, etc.) and particular statements (e.g. "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering"), then find relevant Biblical and Rabbinic texts to compare and/or contrast them. I know other people have used a much broader range of texts (e.g. Kabbalistic texts, Hasidic texts, philosophical texts, Mussar texts, etc.) in comparing/contrasting with Star Wars, but I will stick to my meat-and-potatoes texts of Biblical and Rabbinic texts. I will be sharing these texts on Sefaria, so anyone can view them and/or use them.

Open to Ideas
If you have any suggestions, ideas, etc., feel free to send them my way!