Leaving Town Abruptly

macbofisbil:

This little story sparked some interest in me to start using writing prompts to get some creative juices flowing in writing. I feel I have been a little stagnant lately and maybe doing something like this would be a good idea.

Originally posted on Creative Metaphor:

Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: Leaving Town Abruptly:

A friend rings your doorbell way too early in the morning to be ringing doorbells. You answer the door in your PJs, and the friend says, “Pack a bag quickly. I have to get out of here now and need you to come with me.” You are intrigued.

I grabbed her arm and pulled her inside.

“Ten minutes,” I said, both of us knowing I would take twenty. I stood in the middle of the living room for a moment, my body trying to move in three directions at once as my brain moved in twelve. Finally they both settled on one at the same time and I ran up the stairs, two at a time.

Fortunately I hadn’t put away my travel bags from my weekend trip to the islands so there was no having to dig them back out…

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Starting a business…fun, but not that easy

This past July I have been in the process of trying to establish my first company. It’s called ‘Anytime DVD and Photo’ and specializes in creating quality presentation videos and photography for events that people are having. This whole thing started when I created a video for my sister’s open house and my family members just went crazy over it, calling me “a genius” and that I am missing my calling with this kind of stuff. The video was amazing, way beyond their expectations. I even ending up calling it my own – adding that I created it along with a promotional message at the end.

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So after my mom suggested that I start a business making and selling videos with people’s pictures, home videos, and music on them, I jumped right into the potential money making pit by starting off conjuring up a temporary logo and creating a Facebook page that has, as of July 30, 67 likes and growing. My relatives also suggested I get some business cards to pass out to people to spread the word. I went on Vistaprint, created a custom card with my info on it, made it look nice and purty with a glossy finish, and ordered 250 of them. Well the $30 bucks I paid for them (that included shipping and handling), hasn’t gone very far because I’ve only given away two (just yesterday). This is because I felt funny about going up to random people and showing them a business card, feeling like I could be an annoyance. I didn’t feel so confident about showcasing my company to people but I guess I have to fight tooth and nail any which way to get it known out there. I could have gotten 50 cards free with FreeLogoServices.com, which I did later on while creating a more professional looking logo on that site, that I couldn’t use without purchasing it first, arbitrary to the website name.

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Things got more serious when I decided to create a website for my brand. It all started while I was watching a golf tournament and a commercial for web.com appeared (the only one I’ve seen so far), since the tournament is sponsored by them. I thought, “hey, that’s just what I need. It’s a fast and easy setup and I’ll be successful in no time”. That’s what the commercial pitched and piqued my interest immediately in the site. So I went to the website without hesitation and signed up for a domain name under ‘anytimedvdandphoto.com’.  Then I had a choice between the basic, standard, and professional website. I chose the pro because it included a shopping cart that would be beneficial to my operation. So the cost of all of this seemed like a sweet deal with the promotion that was currently being offered at a low price. In a few days time, though, I found out that the price of running a website with web.com, including all the perks such as SEO, Facebook Boost, Google listing, and professional help from the design team, would all add up to cost about over $300 per month. If I’m billed every four weeks, that would be about $1000 a year that I don’t have. Right now I have until around the 25th of August to decide if I want to continue with this service. I looked at the site builder on webs.com, with an ‘s’, and they offer a more flexible option of paying for either $24.95 monthly, 1 year at $10.41 per month, or 2 years at $8.33 per month. I’m still fairly confident in my business taking off with web.com and will only consider trying out webs when I get near the billing date for web and I have not made many or any sales. I’m not eager to give up on this business. I had a website done by the people at web.com and I was really impressed with it. I made a couple of changes and asked the design group to make some changes as well. It’s not a very dynamic page, everything stays the same and I only have so many ways to customize the page (being that it is template based and doesn’t require any coding to work). Still, it is good for me because I’m a beginner at this sort of stuff and need something that is easy to manage. Currently, I am featuring two products on my ecommerce: photo prints and special event videos. I know there is not a whole lot going on right now but if I give it time and put some hard earned effort into the page, I could have it streaming with products and interactivity that’s up there with some of the best websites. Could have.

If this business of mine takes off one day I am thinking about opening up a shop somewhere locally or out-of-state if I ever move away. I’m pretty good with video making software such as Sony Vegas and CorelStudio. I haven’t used After Effects that much but I think it would be beneficial to the work of my company if I learned more about it and applied it. I would also invest in some camera and photography equipment to give my operation more potential.

For now, this is more of a fleeting hobby of mine than a serious business since I haven’t made any money yet and don’t know where it is going to go. I’ll continue to go along with the ride and if someone happens to be interested enough to buy my product I might just reconsider not going through with it after all. I knew not to expect amazing results right out of the gate. It takes work to get a company going good and strong. Since I’m the only employee right now and I’m not yet officially incorporated as a business, I really shouldn’t be too upset if things don’t go like I want them to. Like any successful company, it starts with a dream and then a vision. Getting that vision to become a reality is no one step process. I know because I am now experiencing it for the first time.

 

Tots, Clocks, Bikes, and Air

A few more of my favorite things…

0717141745-00Golden Tater Tots: A family classic. A favorite food of a classic cult character.

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Clocks: Time comes in many forms; also a visual representation of Coldplay’s hit.

0712141910-00 (2)Badass Bikes: Belonging to some big badass bikermen and bikerchicks at a motorcycle rally. Not even close to the size of the Sturgis gathering held every year. Bikers come from miles away to participate in that one. At this particular one, I got near the stage where a cover band was playing and it was LOUD! I thought the whole place was going to blow up or something.  

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Max-Air: A high flying exhilaration ride that turns your world upside down. Just don’t get hit in the head by falling shoes. Reminds me of a pendulum clock, only this one belongs to Death himself. BTW, check out this eight year old on the Gatekeeper, a ride I had high hopes for when I first rode it this year but was kind of let down.

The 365 Project of 2014 continues on facebook

Besides that, I am also getting a business together that focuses on creating videos for special events, as well as offering photo collages, photo books, and possibly in the future a whole line of party supplies. All of this is an if because I don’t know if the business will even get off the ground let alone having one customer approach me. Doesn’t hurt to try.

 

 

 

Something Fishy – July 8

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“Sea life on the Ceiling”

In the doctor’s office, just before a small surgical removable of something on my neck, I looked up and saw this artwork and it instantly had a calming effect on me. Obviously this place is meant for little kids in order to give them a form of entertainment but to anyone this can make a stressful visit seem more enjoyable.

 

View my entire project here.

Now on the second half of the year I have thoughts of why I even consider continuing on with this daunting project day in and day out. It’s when I find something interesting or unusual that immediately puts that thought on the backburner. Every picture is worth a thousand words and that phrase has stayed with me since January.

 

Why My Mall Sucks

I’m not one to visit a shopping mall very often but I know a winner when I see it. The overall experience of walking into a giant super plaza like The Mall of America is magical and unforgettable. Seeing all the people bustling about and all the wonderful stores and side attractions makes you feel like you’re in a wonderland of some sorts; the carousels, bungee jumping, and kiddie trains choo chooing about adds to the eye and ear pleasing scene. I would like to say the same thing about my own mall close to home but that is not the case. The Westwood Mall in my hometown of Jackson, Michigan pales in comparison to other multi store complexes I have been to in other cities around Michigan and in other states. For one reason, it seems like it is so dead there most of the time; no wonder certain stores can’t stay in business. Compared to other shopping malls, I would say Westwood is pretty bland and boring. Kansas’ Great Mall in Olathe had a lot of cool stores to choose from and the entertainment value there was endless. Plus, it had a lively atmosphere that Westwood is lacking right now. Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor is, in my short opinion of malls, probably one of the best in Michigan, you couldn’t possibly walk out of that place disappointed, especially if you drove a ways to get there. The mall in Novi, Michigan has two floors and lots of picture worthy tourist attractions. The food court, another thing Westwood lacks, is amazing and it includes some well-known restaurant brands and others that are more local to the area; this also provides an area to chill, eat, and chat it up with friends and family. Westwood has two floors but the second is for staff only and probably storage as well. Hmm…I wonder what the employees do up there while on their breaks?

This is all you’ve got?

I recently went to the mall in Rockford, Illinois. It was called the Cherryvale and sported two floors, escalators, a glass elevator, and many store outlets that are popular among people today. There also were video screens around the food plaza that showed up to date news on movies and sweepstakes being held throughout the mall. These screens had a recurring section of featured YouTube videos being played, most of them involving cats and goats in trees. The ethnic diversity in Rockford made this mall an interesting place to hang about. I found it neat to order a frozen yogurt from a man that I was sure had roots in India and thought resembled Raj’s dad on The Big Bang Theory from the way he spoke; I was a little intimidated by him. Another neat thing about this Cherryvale was the free samples being given out around the place by employees. They seemed so nice and I tried every one of the samples that I came into contact with, even the little cups of yogurt from Mr. Kootherpali. The Chinese restaurant actually had people of that heritage working behind the counter and giving out samples. A Spanish person spoke Spanish to a cashier who also spoke Spanish and I was like “this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen at home”. That same thing happened at a McDonald’s in Rockford; it was the first time I heard a real conversation all in Spanish, besides in TV and movies.

It is no quick trip through the gigantic plaza of Cherryvale and unlike Westwood or even the Jackson Crossing you feel like the outside is far away and you are in the “belly of a beast”; at Westwood, it is only a short walk before you see the doors again making it seem less intimate and appealing. That’s what I like about malls, feeling like you could never go home because there is always something new to see everywhere you look.

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This shopping mall in Manila, Philippines completely blows the tiny Westwood out of the water.

If Jackson’s old time mall wants to get back in the game it should add some attractions that would bring people in again and rejuvenate the area. Renovate, add something new and exciting that other malls clearly did their homework with when they were being designed. Of course the thing that Westwood has against it is available space, with Walmart hogging up most of the real estate and threatening to grow even bigger in the future. If Westwood could ever become a centerpiece mall again, not being unapologetically shoved to the side, it would make it much more recognizable and viable for business there. Some of the best malls in America are centerpieces and are the first things people see when driving by the particular block of stores. Having lots of available space allows freedom for improvement of aesthetics, scenery, and expansion. All Westwood has managed to do in the last few years is add a tacky sign that people can walk under. The one option that Westwood could entertain doing would be relocating to a more convenient location that isn’t so dominated by the behemoth of Walmart. They could build more and have more anchor stores that would boost business. It would be smart to relocate to a well developed area, of course, but one where it could become a mall of it’s own, not a secondary stop. It’s not really that bad to be a small place but at least try to put some spirit into it and get up to date with the modern world. Putting in an arcade room (with Xbox Kinect systems) wouldn’t hurt. Or perhaps a small movie theater or miniature golf course. Or entertain the thought of putting in a swimming area. Ok, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. But the fact is that there literally isn’t much to do at the old Westwood except it’s main purpose – to shop. And sit on a giant green turtle near the front.

 

Then there were four…

All of the partying and pouring over brackets now long since mangled and tossed in the garbage, or forgotten online, has come down to this. Through all of the smoke,gas, and debris of the war torn battlefield, four teams have emerged in 2014’s edition of the NCAA tournament.

Florida. Connecticut. Wisconsin. Kentucky. A 1,2,7, and 8. Unusual Final Four numbers but nonetheless these teams are heading to Dallas and knocking on the door at a possible chance at a championship – and all four of these schools have storied traditions with winning. By making the Final Four these teams have shredded lingering doubts cast upon them.

Florida did what is was supposed to do against Dayton, pulling the dreamers back down to earth and ending Cinderella’s story. They won by ten and now face a surprising UConn team that has hit their stride at the right point in the season. Still, the Flyers’ journey had it’s benefits. Now the school has gained some exposure which could lead to better recruiting and future appearances in the tournament. They’re still Ohio States’ much smaller brother but maybe now there is something to gain from the two teams playing each other if Dayton’s program is finally getting up to par; reaching the Elite Eight after a 30 year absence has got to send shock waves across the program. But we’ll see. Meanwhile, the Gators haven’t lost a game since December 2 and have won all four of their tourney games by double-digits. Scottie Wilbekin might face trouble against Napier and Boatwright of UConn, though. The last time Connecticut and Florida faced each other, Napier scored 26 points and Wilbekin had more turnovers than assists, the only time that happened to him against a non-SEC team in all of 2013-14.

Connecticut took down the team that a majority of the nation had pegged for the Final Four or possibly winning the championship. Sure, it was more of a home game for UConn at Madison Square Garden but that doesn’t take away the fact that this team has been absolutely on fire. Senior Shabazz Napier has led his Huskies through the tournament, averaging 23.3 points per game, while facing tough competition against Villanova, Iowa State, and Michigan State. And all three of those opponents were handled with expertise. Against Florida, Napier will need some help; the Gators boast the number 1 defense in terms of adjusted efficiency. UConn’s defensive rebounding will also have to improve drastically if they want to get by Florida.

Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison beat Michigan on a three-point shot with a couple of seconds to go to send the Wildcats on an improbable trip to the semifinals. He has also been quite consistent during this tournament, while his brother Andrew has not. A key for Kentucky against Wisconsin is it’s ability to grab offensive rebounds with 552 on the year and an offensive rebound percentage of 42.5, both ranking first in the country. Kentucky has been a frequent visitor to the free throw stripe, 26.3 percent of its points coming from there, highest of the four teams still standing. But only three Wildcats – the Harrison boys and Julius Randle – make even 70 percent at the line.

The Wisconsin Badgers are suddenly a favorite of mine to roar into the championship game and take home the gold. After totally dismantling Baylor I believe this team has peaked at the correct moment. The one thing that will come into play against Kentucky is size. Wisconsin has three players with heights of 6-1, 6-2, and 6-3 while Kentucky counters with the 6-6 Harrison twins. The question will be whether the Badger trio can get to the basket and score the way Michigan’s bigger guards could. Wisconsin picks up 72.8 percent of defensive rebounds that come their way, good for sixteenth in the country while the Bluegrass cats got 17 offensive rebounds in their match against the Wolverines alone. Frank Kaminksy, at 7 feet tall, is a tough player to guard, even by the biggest men. He averaged 22 points on 58.7 percent shooting in his last three tournament games and made easy pie out of Arizona’s frontcourt of Kaleb Tarczerwski and Aaron Gordon. The towering trio of Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, and Marcus Lee will not be easy to get by in this match up.

All in all, the two games at AT&T Stadium are sure to be action packed and quite competitive. Whoever wins, it’s hats off to them for their amazing season and journey through what’s been called time and time again the greatest tournament in sports. It has been total madness this time around.

My predictions are Florida vs. Kentucky in the championship game, with Florida winning it all, the Gators being the only team still intact in my flat-lined (dead) bracket.

 

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