You come upon glass double doors. They seem inviting enough and you enter. To your left, a staircase that takes you back where you came from. To your right, a long hallway. It seems to be the proper direction. It looks appealing, accommodating, safe. It’s where you want to be. So, you turn right. Not long down the hallway your first choice arrives. Heading straight takes you back outside,...
What 'Arrested Development' Can Teach Us About...
Here we go again. The Arrested Development episode in question is “Afternoon Delight”, which was the sixth episode of season two. I’m sorry. Today’s lessons are more about the community of social media than actual best practices. Invest in Learning Buster was supposed to be at boot camp, but instead found himself at an arcade near the Banana Stand with a hundred dollar...
Announcing February's #ICsocial Chat
Hey. Hi. Hello. Sup. February’s #ICsocial chat is on the books for Wednesday, February 20, at 5 pm. The topic: #HigherEd uses for ephemeral apps. (Yeah, that’s right. We’re gonna talk about SnapChat. #WeirdTwitter here we come!) Some businesses have begun trying to use apps like SnapChat and Poke as marketing tools. Is this smart? Can they be effective tools for #HigherEd?...
I have hundreds of DVD cases stacked somewhere back in Pennsylvania. Almost all of them are real, but there do happen to be some that aren’t. The fake cases are full-sized and accompanied by photocopied covers slipped into the plastic lining. They’re the first few seasons of Family Guy, and I got them from my friend Steve. He passed away late this afternoon, after battling cancer. I...
What 'Downton Abbey' Can Teach Us About Social...
Looks like we’re gonna make this a thing, so you know, sorry in advance. These notes are specific to the episode that aired in the US on January 27, 2013, and in the UK some six months earlier for some really stupid reason. Probably Definitely some spoilers in here. Oh, Downton, you continue to slay me (and your own characters). Here are this week’s lessons about social media strategy...
What 'The Bachelor' Can Teach Us About Social...
Look, this is gonna happen whether you like it or not. The Bachelor episode in question aired on January 21, but if you’ve ever seen the show you should be fine. When I speak to others about social media, it’s a constant struggle to find even-footing. No one’s experience or viewpoint is the same, which is fantastic, except for the fact that it also leaves us with fewer points...
#ICsocial 1/9 Recap
It’s always a pleasure to convene on the internet and discuss things in short bursts of words, so with that in mind, I convened the second #ICsocial chat yesterday afternoon. The chat is an attempt to link my student social media team with industry professionals and alumni, as well as discuss topics of the day in a relaxed environment. This week’s topic was Teaching Social Media, and...
#ICsocial Chat Returns on January 9
Hey. Hi. Hello. Sup. When we held our first #ICsocial chat back in November, I promised there’d be more. So here we are. The next #ICsocial chat on Twitter will be Wednesday, January 9, at 4 PM. Like last time, I’ll be providing questions from my personal Twitter account, but unlike last time, my student social media team is on break and we won’t all be in the same room, making...
On Change, and a Charge
My great-great-great grandfather is considered by some to be the man that saved the entire Civil War for the Union army. On July 2, 1863, with forces dwindling and ammunition low, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge down Little Round Top toward the approaching Confederate troops. They were, literally, at the extreme left flank of the entire army, and losing the...
Rearranging the Deck Chairs of Social Media
The other day, I was looking at the change in reach the Ithaca College page has seen since Facebook announced they were throttling organic reach. Our page—thanks to the timing of a viral success—had largely avoided the drop I was hearing about from others. But no more. Where we once reached about 50% of our fans in an average post, we now reached less than a third. I screengrabbed the...
There’s a book you should read sometime, or at least try to. It’s called The Sacred and the Profane, and it will most likely blow your mind. Its author was a Romanian-born immigrant that spent a large chunk of the 20th century tinkering with religion, time, and space. Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to Mircea Eliade, and more specifically, how one of his theories helps me run...
In Case You Missed It
The world’s moving pretty fast these days, huh? Big moments create tens of thousands of tweets a minute, and that’s just on one subject! Makes it pretty hard to catch all the good stuff, right? (Thanks, TV informercial man.) That’s just a cheesy intro to this, a list of some of the favorite things I’ve written the past few years. Some are funny, some are serious, but all...
Some Musings on Vegas
It’s easy to get lost in Las Vegas. Not physically, I mean. The Strip is a well-lit straight line; you know immediately if you’ve left the beaten path by how the shadows begin to emerge and the tall buildings aren’t as tall. But spend a few days in the City of Sin and your mind is what begins to wander. Days of the week are mostly useless, save for a reservation or a show....
Five Years On →
When I was high school, I wrote a weekly column in the teen section of the Bucks County Courier Times. It was a great chance to work on the craft, as well as voice some opinions and ruffle a few feathers. I ended up writing about 99 pieces for the paper over the span of two years, and the ability to have a mouthpiece like that is something I definitely took for granted. In that light, it was with...
DJ McScruff Returns (Sorta)
Hey, person that reads my blog. Thanks for reading it and stuff. In a past life, I DJed under the moniker DJ McScruff on 92 WICB, Ithaca College’s FCC licensed FM station. They were short some staff a few weeks ago, so I hopped into the driver’s seat after a little over a year off and tried not to burn the place to the ground. Anywho, I cut up my chitchatting and threw it on the...
The Man on My Left
I stepped past the bouncer checking IDs and sat down at the fourth bar stool from the left. It was about 10:25, so the bar wasn’t packed, but it was beginning to fill up. I prefer the atmosphere of a bar that isn’t full; a place where people can have their conversations and little pockets of chatter without yelling over the din of too many people in too small a space with too much...
On My Faith
I’m on the train to NYC, where I’ll hop a bus to Ithaca later this evening. I hear multiple languages, see multiple races, and can easily pick out different cultures. The train is full of different stories; those already told, and those yet to come. But this one ride, this short jaunt through New Jersey, is one we will always share. One hundred fifteen different people have now shared...
It's Only Just Begun
The school bus arrives to take us away. We hear it roll up, make note of the calls to finish cleaning up, and slowly make our way past the work we have poured ourselves into this week. Some stop to take photos; neighborhood kids, finished projects, new friends. One of the teens living in the foster home passes around a piece of paper. We’re told to write our names down so we can be Facebook...
A Short Thought on Impact
Earlier tonight, our small groups met and discussed what sort of impact we would like to have on others on the trip, in the area we are working in, and also back home once the trip is over. It’s a tough question in a lot of ways, and it definitely made me think about a lot of the issues I’ve faced this week. For one, this is my first official trip as a full leader. Because of this...
Welcome to The Sauna
Earlier this spring, Dan (the trip leader and friend of the blog) asked if I wanted to be in charge of sheetrock / drywall this year. I said yes, assuming there were some simple patches like there had been in the past. I’m sure he told me somewhere along the way that it was a bit more complicated than that, but I clearly wasn’t paying attention, because when I discovered the scale of...
The Big Question
Under most circumstances, I am happy to let the professionals handle the kind of work I do here on the island. I’m no expert at sheetrock, or a perfect axe-wielder, but for some reason it all works out down here. And by “works out” I just mean that I don’t accidentally kill anyone. So the bar is pretty low, but still. The first day at a worksite is always full of...
On Wasps & Russian Roulette
Have you ever played Russian roulette with a nest of wasps? You can’t win. There isn’t any chance that the situation ends well, especially if the plan involves a bucket and a long stick. Of course, I knew that the plan had a chance to fail before it was even underway, but how do you turn down a chance to tempt fate?[[MORE]] The entire concept of a mission trip works kind of like that....
New Faces in New Places
Having been on this trip for eight years now, I’ve developed certain routines as I enter the island: big hug for Raoul after passing through customs, learn all the names of the new people on the trip, and figure out what condition my room at Xanadu is in. (Xanadu, for those new to following along, is a historic resort outside of Freeport that used to be owned by Howard Hughes, visited by...
A few weeks ago, I got an email from IndieGoGo, a fundraising site I’ve used from time to time in the past. It was a new comment on an old fundraiser I’d done in 2009 for the mission trip I go on in the Bahamas every summer. For the past seven summers, I’ve spent a week on Grand Bahama Island with a group from my home church in Pennsylvania. It’s a trip designed for high...
During the summer between junior and senior year of college, I was interviewed as a potential profile in a publication at Ithaca College. The interview went well and as the piece continued to move towards publication I was given a peek at one of the drafts to make sure everything was technically accurate. I don’t remember if the story had incorrect statements in it, but I do remember, and...
When I wrote a local newspaper column in high school, I would sometimes let people pick out random topics for me to work into my writing. It was partially a challenge to see how much I could bullshit on one topic or another, but when I started stacking the suggestions it became a puzzle to solve. Where do these seemingly random pieces fit? And how could I make them connected as part of a coherent...
Dying in Plain Sight
You ever seen a man die? I did once. Watched the soul pour straight out of a fellow. I was bartending at a jazz club in Illinois; some hip joint with some bad players. The guy had been coming for weeks. He’d sit wherever there was an open space - we didn’t have anyone welcoming people at the door - and have a few drinks. Was gin, I think. Doesn’t matter.[[MORE]] The way he...
We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
You think gas is expensive in the States? Or your last trip to Home Depot was a bit rougher on the credit card than normal? Try living in the Bahamas. Pretty much everything is imported, which means everything is expensive. [[MORE]] When I travel to Grand Bahama every summer, a large chunk of what I pay goes to a supply budget that grows and grows because of how hard it is to get materials to the...
The Great Census Debacle of 1890
Man on camera. A more-disheveled and haphazard version of Brian Williams. He looks up from his desk, which appears to be held together by duct tape and luck. Good evening and welcome to LineDate, the unauthorized internet version of Dateline. I’m Rock Flathead. Tonight we have an exclusive inside look at a very old and completely irrelevant story. It is not a light story, and you should know...
History Channel Presents: Long Lost Stories of...
[Ed. note: In 1907, an old castle in south-north-eastern Europe crumbled to the earth. Upon removal of the rubble, a small dungeon area was found well below ground level. On its walls were scratches that appeared to be that of a man who had gone insane. But one anthropologist, Edward Finkelton, believed the scratches to be too precise for a man without his wits about him. Finkelton took extensive...
The court was terrible. Just awful. It was a bunch of cinderblocks laid into the ground to roughly form a basketball three point arc. Except it was much smaller. Maybe thirteen blocks by thirteen, with a few random extras forming a semblance of a extension past the foul line. Grass grew up between the blocks and had to be weed-whacked often. The metal pole was solid; the wooden hoop was not. It...
Beyond Those Trees
There’s a haunting stretch of land just beyond those trees. It’s haunting to me, but not necessarily haunted. I’ve never seen a ghost come across the open field, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. The locals call this ground hallowed; sacred in nature. I don’t know what to call it, but it leaves me feeling unsettled.[[MORE]] My father used to tell a story...
Don't Stay Still, Bill
I walked up the stairs to exit the station and emerged south of the Thames near the National Theatre. It was October in London, and I moved north back towards Waterloo Bridge. To its right, the Theatre. To its left, the British Film Institute’s Southbank building. It was 2009, and I was attending the premiere of Still Bill, a documentary about Bill Withers.[[MORE]] I’ve always loved...
I’ve always been a very media-minded person, but having been fully immersed in social media as part of my job has left my head spinning a bit faster than is probably healthy. To remedy this, I’ve been changing up some of my strategies surrounding how I use social tools, especially Twitter.[[MORE]] Many of you who follow me (@rcengelsman if you don’t) have probably noticed a...
On Grievances, 2011 Edition
In 2011, I became a more bitter person. (I don’t have time to explain in detail so just go with me on the premise.) Basically, I’ve got a lot of problems with you people. We’re not talking Jay-Z problems, either. His 99 probably involve how he’s going to diversify his massive portfolio. Mine are legitimate, if not quirky, problems. Shall we begin the airing of grievances? ...
The Back End
When I thought of The Ten Three, I wanted to launch it immediately and just go for it. Luckily, I was slowed by others (and my slowly-gaining-more-patience self) to allow time to develop a firm idea, find support and build a decent site to work from and add to in the future. The site still launched really fast - somewhere around 45 days from idea to opening. Full disclosure: Maybe I...
The Ten Three launches tonight! →
Well, the day has come. My new venture The Ten Three is launching tonight, probably around 6 pm. I’ll still be posting here, but definitely check out the new site and let me know what you think!
My sincerest apologies for the lack of blogging recently. I’m sure I haven’t been missed. I’ve been working on a project based on the 1,000 word photo essay I wrote a few posts ago. It’s called The Ten Three and it will be launching in a few weeks. The site is a take on the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I’ve collected about 20 recent Ithaca...
On Hope and an Interview
It was two years later, but to the women it still felt like yesterday. It was the fall of 2003. I was in 9th grade, shooting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with five women who lost a loved one on 9/11. They were all from my town, and had agreed to sit down together and talk about their grief and sorrow. But out of the interview came a picture of women full of strength and dignity.[[MORE]] There...
1000 Words On a Photo
It isn’t a particularly good photo. It didn’t come at a moment that’s turned out to be incredibly defining, or altering, or transformative. But it’s still one of my favorites. We were in France, I think Paris, on the end of a two-week trip through Ithaca College that 20 communications students got to go on. It was right after the end of my freshman year, but the trip...
I used to listen to Creed. Go ahead, judge me. I found their music extremely helpful when I was trying to get pumped up for soccer matches and baseball games. One song I particularly enjoyed was called “Are You Ready?”, which had some of the cheesiest lyrics I’d ever heard in my life. We’re not talking typical “I will love you until I can’t love you no...
Saturday, July 23, 2011 He’s here again. Random how he always knows exactly where we are. There’s a good chance he’s chatted with a trip member on Facebook or someone told him we’d be here in the Port one more time before we fly back to the States. Meko is good at that - just showing up. He’s 18, with a massive smile and a thin build. No features stick out save for...
The end is just the beginning.
Each year it goes faster. We move through customs, have our tickets checked and head out across the Tarmac one last time. I try to imagine it’s in slow motion, but it never works. And before we know it, we’re home. This trip is incredibly difficult to define because it is different for every person who undertakes the mission. We’ve had 93 different people come on this trip over...
There’s an open field next to Xanadu that hugs the marina as it moves in towards land. The grass is short, and there is a small dirt path around the space. It’s supposed to be a track, but it isn’t a specific size and it definitely isn’t a circle. Most of the time it is empty and in my past six years here I have rarely seen someone using it. That is, until this...
We were working behind the house, next to a little statue of a lion that proudly protects the back. The wall, which we had mostly replaced in the past 24 hours, was looking much better than it had before we arrived. But one of the men who lived in the house didn’t seem too pleased. He was tall - maybe 6’4” - but built oddly. His arms were extremely muscular but his shoulders...
I was wet. Really wet. Just absolutely soaking wet from head to toe. And you know what? It was worth it. A minor accident today caused a crack in the cap of a water pipe behind a house we were painting. We worked with the villagers to stop the water from gushing out the end of the pipe, but no one could figure out how to get it off. So there I sat, holding the cap onto the pipe and trying to...
With couch comes great responsibility.
Monday is my favorite day of the trip. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that it’s usually the day that we get to break the most stuff. Today was no different, as we took to clearing out brush, breaking off rotted wood from walls, and other general destructive behavior. Sadly, none of the destruction caught up to our pick-axe-through-television antics of years...
Cot less. Or is it Cot-less? Cotless? Cotless.
Usually on our trips we go to church on Wednesday night, which is the most popular night on the island for contemporary services. This year we went today since it’s Sunday and it just makes sense. We’re usually traveling today so this was our first Sunday morning service and a great chance to acclimate our newbies to the island and its people a bit more. The service was long. Two and a...