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!

03 May 2020

Becoming a Marvel Cinematic Universe Fan

Starting Out with Iron Man and Avengers
When Iron Man came out in the theaters, I saw it with my wife, then we saw its sequel when it came out, followed by seeing Iron Man appear in Avengers. However, I didn’t know who any of the characters were in Avengers, aside from Iron Man and Black Widow, so I didn’t know or care about any of them, so I came away from the movie not really understanding what it was about. And, yes, I subsequently saw Iron Man 3, which was neat to see Tony Stark dealing with his PTSD. However, I knew I had to start catching-up and saw Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers Age of Ultron (we didn't know who all of the characters were in the first Avengers movie, so we didn't care to see the sequel in theatres, but watched it in preparation for Captain America Civil War).

Captain America Civil War was what felicitously triggered my MCU fandom
Captivated by Captain America Civil War
All of this changed with Captain America Civil War. I had agreed to go see it on its opening evening with some other folks and one of the other people in our group who was a Marvel fan came over and convinced me to watch the first Captain America movie, which was enjoyable and provided a backstory for Captain America. When I saw Captain America Civil War, I was utterly blown away at the experience. Not only was the action compelling, but the dialogue was spectacularly fantastic. With such an incredibly entertaining and well put-together cinematic experience, I was deeply intrigued at the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and wanted to know more about all of these characters in the movie and their backstories/what their motivations were.
Having seen Avengers, I liked it, but didn't know the characters' backstories

Fortunately, a few weeks later, I happened to be on a flight to Israel from LA, as I was staffing a Birthright Israel trip, and our Delta flight had a lot of Marvel movies available for watching - lucky me! So, I watched what I could and, on the return flight, not only continued to catch up on my MCU-watching, but even re-watched a couple of movies, such as Avengers and Avengers Age of Ultron in order to gain a better sense of where everyone fit in in that universe. In that short period of time, spurred on by the incredible Civil War and catching up on most of the MCU was fantastic. After returning, I watched whatever other MCU movies I had not yet seen to catch up.

From there on out, I watched every MCU movie and even found out about the MCU prelude comics, which were helpful in understanding the MCU. In addition to the clever dialogue in the movies (especially those directed by the Russo brothers), what I have found to be so fascinating about this series of movies is that they have well-developed characters, a well-developed universe, but here’s the thing that really gets me: they weave them in together so well. The universe is well-constructed, with plots that intertwine so intricately and cleverly that provides a curious amount of interest, especially since it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into it.

Continuing to Enjoy
Having enjoyed the MCU, if you've seen a movie here or there, you may find a lot of enjoyment in gaining a broader perspective of the MCU through watching the other movies. If you do, I recommend watching them in their release order, and I hope you greatly enjoy the MCU!

19 April 2020

Getting More Into Making Videos

Real Estate Videos
When I heard about the power of video for real estate, I knew I had to begin publishing videos about real estate. Having now been publishing real estate videos for over a half-year, I still have more coming up.

That, in itself, is not particularly noteworthy.

Surprisingly, however, I received a lot of compliments on my videos. What I hadn’t realized was that not a lot of other real estate agents were publishing videos, at least not here in Cincinnati.

And Also JewishDrinking.com podcasts
While that felt good to receive the compliments, I also began to work more on video-editing due to my video and podcasting for JewishDrinking.com.

A Few with Drew
A big jump for me recently, however, has been doing my daily Coronatine project, “A Fewwith Drew”, a [nearly] daily video of 3-5 minutes speaking to the camera about a few topics and possibly with drink in hand (whether coffee, tea, beer, whiskey, etc.). Inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Tea with Gary Vee”, I decided to embark on this project, but I knew I didn’t have the time nor did I have the energy to engage in another video project involving editing. So I decided to do something I’ve never done with video-production and publishing: no editing.

For some context, I began playing around with publishing videos in 2008-2009 (which also happened to be my final year in rabbinical school), on a few topics, but also did a weekly vlog post for 26 weeks (yes, a full half-year). (Here's one of my final ones, following that 26th weekly vlog post.)

(While I had a lot of enjoyment as a kid recording videos of various things (including videos of me shooting hoops and playing other sports with friends (I remember having a great clip of a really awesome badminton move with a friend)), there wasn’t a lot of editing, although I did sometimes hook up two VHRs and copy over certain scenes from one VHS casette to the other one (such as that badminton highlight), but none of that was in the era of publishing to the Internet.)

Following that vlogging experience, I then did my 30 Videos of 30 Drinks by a 30-Year Old, which was a cool project, which also got me an article write-up in an Israeli newspaper, but the most important takeaway for me from it was thinkingabout my speaking to the camera, especially in seeking to decrease or even eliminating filler words (e.g. eh, um, uh) from my speech, even if just on-camera. Of course, it also helped my video-editing skills through practice.

At this point, when people ask which software I used for video-editing, the answer is simple: I used Windows Movie Maker, which had come with my computer. That’s I got my start with video-editing - on a simple, video-editing software.

In 2013-2014, when I began editing and putting together some Star Wars material, I was looking around for some software online that would convert certain video files to other video file formats and stumbled upon one that also had a video-editor associated with it. Having downloaded it and liking it, I paid some money for the license to it. This software was Wondershare’s Filmora, which worked nicely.

While I would occasionally publish a video here or there over between 2014 and 2019, I really didn’t work on it much.

That is, until I began working on my real estate videos, as well as the JewishDrinking podcast videos.

“A Few with Drew” Serves as Catalyst for Further Videos
Having seen how easily I can make videos and publish them with no editing has served as a catalyst for considering how much more video-production and publishing I can involve myself in. The clearest example is having begun publishing a couple of Star Wars videos, especially on books. While those were directly-inspired by my “A Few with Drew” videos, as they involved no post-production and removed the friction of taking the time and energy to edit them.

Taking the lesson of my cocktails videos project of seeking to remove filler from my speech, at least on-camera, I have sought to eradicate any filler from my speech on-camera for the “A Few with Drew” project, which I haven’t fully perfected, but have definitely been improving. Taking this non-editing approach has enabled me to make more Star Wars videos, even if I need to be quite mindful regarding speaking to the camera without fillers and really knowing what I need to speak to the camera, as if it will be a complete product right there.

While I plan on doing some more with a bit of editing, certainly for these Star Wars bookvideos, I can do it with less friction for my own energies and time, which is great, and which I hope yields further Star Wars video content.

I am now also tempted to create more video content on Talmudic topics. While I have a broad interest in Talmudic texts, I really probably should focus it for JewishDrinking.com on Jewish drinking texts in the Talmud. Perhaps, at a later point, I can branch out.

For the time being, I am now excited about this “unlock” of ease of video-publishing that I had made more difficult for myself by necessitating or at least thinking I needed to edit any of my videos prior to publication.

Stay tuned.

08 April 2020

Hitting the 25th Podcast Episode Mark

I still remember sitting and struggling to research podcasting mechanics 3-4 years ago and trying to wrap my head around podcasting (if you must know, I was having a hard time understanding where to deposit the podcasts and how podcatchers work),* and thinking that I basically understand recording and editing, but was struggling with exactly doing those things. However, a larger struggle I was experiencing at that moment was what the podcast would be – my mind was heading towards a Star Wars podcast.

For those who know me, I am excited about sharing my knowledge of Star Wars and discussing it with fellow fans, and have even appeared on another Star Wars podcast, yet I had concerns: there are already so many Star Wars podcasts out there – what would my podcast add? Also, why? Just because I wanted to do a podcast? That’s enough of a reason for beginning a podcast – why would anyone want to listen? Also, I’m not the most on-top of Star Wars news, etc. as I know I could be and that others out there are already doing.

Last April, I posted on this blog that I was thinking yet again of podcasting and had no longer been desiring to podcast about Star Wars, but was turning to Jewish textual topics. Here, there is a wide-open space for content, as I could easily come up with a dozen different topics that are both interesting and that I could speak knowledgeably on, get guests, and that are not being handled elsewhere (e.g. an entire podcast about Pirkei Avot).

Finally, September rolled around and I was inspired to create JewishDrinking.com,** but was mainly thinking about the written content, especially what I had previously published elsewhere, which I imported to the website. However, I was dragging my feet on other media until a phone conversation on September 13th with someone who urged me not to worry about technological concerns, which could either be solved by purchasing equipment, renting out equipment, or finding spaces with equipment available. I then realized I didn’t need fancy equipment for podcasting – I could just shoot a video, edit the video (which I’ve done before), take the audio out of the video and figure out some podcasting website to publish it. That night, I then shot and edited my first episode, which I then published.

On a Skype call with a guest for the Jewish Drinking podcast
Since then, I began reaching-out to potential guests, scheduled our Skype or Zoom sessions, recorded them, edited them, and, as of yesterday, hit the 25th podcast episode’s publication! (All 25 of them are available here.)

One of the coolest aspects of these episodes is both connecting with other people seriously thinking about these drinking aspects in Jewish history, tradition, and more! Whether they are academics, fellow rabbis, or others, it’s been enjoyable to both connect with them, learn about their fields, and, above all, bring all of these disparate conversations into a single place where people may not have known about such matters. 

Weirdly enough, in the half-year since beginning the podcast series, I’ve been surprised to see that this is the main content I am publishing on Jewish Drinking – who would have thought that I would be less interested in blogging than in producing audio and video content?

I am excited for what’s coming down the pipes for Jewish Drinking and am excited to have crossed this milestone, and looking forward to more podcast episodes!

06 April 2020

A New Coronatine Project Yields Unexpected Byproducts In First Week

One week ago, while out for a walk, I was listening to a “Tea with Gary Vee” episode and got inspired to do something new during this “Coronatine” era we are currently experiencing.

“Tea with Gary Vee”
While I have written before about my newfound appreciation for Gary Vaynerchuk’s content, he has a new daily show called “Tea with Gary Vee”, which is a two-hour “call-in” show, where people Skype/Zoom/whatever tele-call in to ask them their questions about what they can be doing for their businesses/professional aspirations during this challenging time. It’s a clever idea.

More Videos?
While listening to it, one of the callers had asked him about building her business/brand and he said start a podcast, do something new, just like he was doing. While I already have a podcast going, I decided I don’t need another one. While I do weekly videos, do I need more video projects?

“A Few with Drew”
However, it dawned on me, what if I just do a simple video, without any editing and just publish that? I then came up with a simple concept: daily 3-5 minute videos of me chatting about a few topics, including what’s going on with me, but also open to listener/viewer questions. I went with the cute moniker, “A Few with Drew”, referring both to a few minutes with me, but also a few topics.

Live Zoom Chat
So, one week ago, I began this project, and, after the first video, someone commented I should have a live Zoom meeting where we get together and drink and chat, so I created a Zoom meeting for last evening.

Keeping the Conversation Going
Amidst the chat, which actually got a few people to attend(!), we discussed a few things, including Star Wars and more and...it was suggested we continue this group beyond the Zoom meeting chat. Someone else suggested we use Discord to keep the conversation going!

So now, there is a Discord server with separate topics, including Star Wars, Jewish Drinking, and there will be more. Oh, and we plan on continuing the Zoom meeting chat on a weekly basis.

It’s unexpected what can happen when trying new things!