I am a consumer. I enjoy walking up and down the grocery store aisles to just look at the many different products available. Sometimes I find things that I think are just GREAT! But the sad side to this is that sometimes those products are discontinued. I the consumer can no longer consume what have become much-loved items! So now I present you with my list of favorite discontinued foods. The products that can no longer put a smile on my face.

Wrigley’s Extra – Original Flavor
extra_bubble_gum.jpgWhen I was a kid, I had a friend whose father worked for Wrigley. I had the honor of trying their “Winterfresh” flavor of gum before it hit the mass market, and I always had an endless supply of gum when I went to his house. My friend introduced me to a very special flavor of Extra gum. It looked like the typical bubblegum flavor that everyone knows, but this was something very different. The flavor was called “Original.”The packaging was a slight tinge more purple and the taste was phenomenal. Wikipedia describes the flavor as “a unique blend of strawberry, bubblegum, and raspberry.” It was hard to find in stores. Every time I or my friend found a pack of it, we would share it with the other and rejoice in our good fortune. It was only recently, however, that I discovered that this joy would never be realized again. Wrigley’s discontinued “Original” Extra on July 1, 2003. You can’t find it anywhere even though it was the best flavor that has ever existed in the Extra lineup.

Planters Cheez Balls
cheeze balls I made a video that included my complaints on this particular topic, so I won’t go on about this too much. The reason I liked cheez balls so much (besides an awesome taste) was because of the container, and shape. The container easily fit between my legs as I drove, which made for easy snacking. The lid made it easily resealable and the balls were fantastically bite-size. Sure there are other cheese balls out there, but none of them have that crunch, none are in the can, and none are made by planters. Goodbye Cheez Balls, I will miss you!

Dweebs.gifDo you remember Dweebs? There is a good chance you don’t because they were only around for about 3 years. They were promoted as “cousins of Nerds” They were bigger, softer, and had a different flavor. The boxes were just like nerds except Dweebs boxes had 3 compartments with a flavor in each section. Dweebs were out at the height of my candy-consumption career. They were one of my favorites. I always have loved tangy candy, especially the chewy ones. I wish Dweebs would come back, but alas, they are yet another delicious candy never to be seen again lining the shelves.

Square Laffy Taffy
laffy.jpgKids today still eat Laffy Taffy. It is one of my favorite candies (again with the chewy tangy thing). But I can remember a time when I would go to Ben Franklin (the ultimate place for candy in my neighborhood growing up) and there was a whole section of Laffy Taffy. I believe they were 5 cents a piece and they were square. They weren’t thin rectangle strips like today, they were little blocks of taffy. But the more important thing is their flavors. Laffy Taffy used to come in a BUNCH of flavors such as: orange, vanilla, blue punch, in addition to the usual flavors you see now. I REALLY wish they would bring back those flavors. I would KILL for an orange Laffy Taffy.

So in conclusion. If you really like an edible product, it may be a good idea to stockpile it just in case that horrible day comes that it is discontinued. P.S. if anyone can find any of these products for me still today, PLEASE contact me and I will do whatever it takes to eat them again!

The Multifaceted Vlogosphere

multitask.jpgWhen I tell people that I am a videoblogger, the first thing that comes to their mind is that I make videos. This is very true. I consider myself a content creator, a creative person, a person who works with moving images to express myself and tell stories. But what they may forget is the other jobs I, as a videoblogger, have. I am a cameraman, on-screen talent, writer, director, editor, web designer, graphic designer, video compression technician, marketing team, billing department, collection department, content manager, community builder, and teacher. I do this in addition to a full time Job as a Radio Producer. Videoblogging is not just creating videos, It is adapting, redesigning, and handling every aspect of the creative, technical, and business side of this new medium. Ideally, I would be able to just create the videos and have other people handle all that other stuff for me, but that is almost impossible.

I am, however, very thankful for all the people in the vlogosphere who specialize in the areas that I am weak in. I am happy that people like Kevin Buckstiegel and Rudy Jahchan who know PHP, CSS, and all that other code out there backwards and forwards are in this sphere. I am thankful for people like Enric who solve the problems of video formats and RSS aggregation, allowing me to focus on creating. I am thankful for people like Tim Shey/NNN and Zadi and Steve who have given me opportunities to do some freelance work and put my skills to use. I am thankful for Verdi and Ryanne for figuring out compression stuff every time apple changes things. I am thankful for the creators of Fireant for making it easy to watch all the video out there. I am thankful for Blip.tv and all the work they do to make posting and hosting easy. I am thankful that all these people work in the same space creating things for each other. It is a match made in heaven. It is the beauty of the vlogosphere: people with different passions cooperating to make the user experience that much better!

Some New Gear

hc20Over the past few months I have been doing some freelance video work for some folks. So, a few paychecks and a good tax refund later, I am finally getting some new video gear. I started video blogging partly because I got an ibook for Christmas in 2004. Shortly after that I was enrolled in a television production class at Calvin. I was allowed to take out video equipment whenever I wanted. I always checked out the tiny HC20 Sony Handycam that was available. That is what I started video blogging with. I borrowed it for all my videos until May 2005 when class ended and I bought my own HC20.

imovieI always edited my videos using iMovie. I tried to push the software to the limits. I utilized free plugins to do some picture in picture stuff and over time gained an extensive of the software’s quirks. But over the past two years, there were always some things that really irked me about iMovie’s limitations. I wanted to edit my brother’s wedding video. He had three cameras covering the event, but with one video track, it was a big pain to do, so I haven’t edited it yet even though they got married in the summer of 2005. The other thing that really bugged me was the limitations of titles. The lower thirds were unimpressive, and placement of titles was really limited. So even though I had used iMovie for hundreds of videos, I finally decided it was time for an upgrade.

In addition to iMovie I was starting to realize that while my HC20 is small and easy to use, it is limited in it’s low-light performance. It wasn’t as sharp as a nice 3ccd camera. I wasn’t able to do analog pass through and I couldn’t monitor the audio with headphones. I needed an upgrade with my camera too!

ibookg4But with these two changes in my brain, I started to think that it might be a good idea to get a new computer too. My 1.33ghz 512mb RAM iBook G4 served me fine for the past 2 years but if I was going to have fancy editing software and a fancy camera, I would probably need a computer that could handle all the complex edits and loads of video I was going to be working with. So I decided on a computer upgrade.

After much research, I have decided on the following: Final Cut studio 2, the Canon hv20, and a 24 inch iMac.

final cut studio 2Final Cut Studio 2:
I learned first how to edit with iMovie. Then in my college courses, we used Avid. I never really liked avid all that much, because iMovie was so easy to use. I am excited to use Final Cut Studio to make more advanced videos but I am also intimidated by all the features that I will have to learn to use. I worry that my patience for learning will make me resort back to iMovie to make my videos unless it is a really complicated video. I am most looking forward to having some new visual effects using Motion and have the option to edit multiple tracks of video for once!

canon hv20Canon HV20
I didn’t want to spend a crazy amount of money on a camera, but wanted something that wouldn’t be completely obsolete and make me want to get a new camera in 2 years. I wanted something that did really well in low-light, had a mic-in and audio-out ports, could handle some advanced accessories, and was small enough to hold at arm’s length. I did some research reading lots of reviews and then decided on an HD camera. I figure that over the next couple of years everything is gonna go HD so I might as well get in now and not have to change again later. The Canon hv20 got some good reviews, had what I wanted and was in the right price range, so I went for it. The camera should be arriving on my doorstep this week.

24 inch iMac24 inch iMac
I love my iBook, it is a big reason I am a videoblogger. But video is an information-rich medium and it takes a lot of processing power and memory to deal with it all. I have a good iBook, but If I am going to continue to push myself and my video production, it was inevitable that I would need a more powerful machine. I like having a lapop, but I also like having a large visual workspace to edit on. I needed a big monitor, but I can’t afford a powermac with a cinema display, so I decided on an iMac. I figure I will upgrade a few things like the memory to 2 gigs and the hard drive to 500 just so It won’t be obsolete in 2 months. I am going for the 24 inch version, that way I have enough work space without having to do the dual monitor thing.

Do any of you have any of these three things? If so, what has been your experience with them?

Sleeping with a Kitten

My cat Winnie Cooper has recently proven to be a hindrance to a good nights sleep. In the past, while I was sleeping, she would scratch my hamper, claw at pictures at the wall, knock down lamps, play with toy mice, scratch at drawers, lick my face, get into the trash, play with the kitchen sink stopper, and mess with the blinds. Most of these activities would wake me up at night. I would undoubtedly have to get up, remove the distraction from her, and then return to sleep. But this has dramatically lessened since we have figured out a good routine, and made some modifications to my room. This is how the average night now goes:
1. I make sure to gather up all the toy mice in the house and hide them so she can’t find them while i sleep
2. I go to sleep.
3. I am woken up by Winnie scratching at a dresser drawer
4. I call winnie, she hops on the bed near my head, I lift the blankets and she crawls in.
5. Winnie sleeps a little bit lying on my arm then gets up and walks off the bed
6. Winnie goes to sleep in her drawer.

Yeah that Is right, my cat sleeps in the dresser next to my bed. I pulled out an empty drawer and put her little mat in the one below it. When I wake up in the morning, I call her name, and out pops her head. I get a better nights sleep, and she has her own space. She still sleeps on the bed from time to time, but only part of the night.

so that is how I have managed to sleep with a kitten in the house.

The Cat Co-host Controversy

When Little Jerry Seinfeld (my former cat) and I started working together in 2005, we got off to a good start, but after starring in some of my most popular videos, he demanded more from me. He wanted me to agree to a contract where he would get a can of tuna a day, and a new toy mouse every week. During negotiations he got really heavy into catnip and started to be really belligerent. I told him that I couldn’t agree to his demands so he left. I told everyone it he videoblogging world that he ran away, but it was a little more complicated than that. We lost touch after that (I do know that he started hanging out with a group of strays who had not yet been neutered or spayed).

After Jerry left, I was forced to find a new cat-co-host. I searched all over and found some real talent with Winnie Cooper. As she grew she proved to be a fantastic partner. She helps me edit videos, curates joshleo.com/vlogcats and has starred in a few of her own videos. I am happy with the way things are going and hope there isn’t too much bad blood between Jerry and I. Last I heard he was thinking about going into rehab and getting back into the videoblogging scene, but we will see how things play out. I suppose that there could have been ways to prevent the whole situation, but you learn from your mistakes.

5 Things

Man this has been passing around like ebola. I don’t know the origins, but I do know that I got double-tagged by both Casey/Rudy and Chris Brogan! So I guess I will do my best to come up with something new (one of the downsides of having a personal blog and vlog is that I tell a lot about myself).
1. In elementary school I would often not eat my sandwich at lunch and end up hiding it in my backpack, cabinet in my bedroom, or other strategic locations. When I would clean my room, I would undoubtedly find no less than 4 ancient salami sandwiches.
2. In my younger days, I ate the following on a regular basis while showering: cereal, fritos corn chips, soda.
3. I make it a regular habit to look at people’s name tags and use their first name whenever I am being served, shopping, or visiting any other business that requires employees to wear name tags.4. Before settling on a communications major I considered the following fields of study:
  • Environmental Science: I took AP Biology in high school to see if I liked studying upper-level science even though I didn’t qualify to take the class. I didn’t do very well, and thus am not an environmental scientist.
  • Elementary education: I wanted to teach middle school history and science, but after taking 2 years of el-ed core classes and a summer at the Boys and Girls club of Alaska, I decided it wasn’t for me.
  • Ethnomusicology: I loved studying folk music and the orgins of traditional songs… but there isn’t much of a market for ethnomusicologists, and my school didn’t offer the subject either.
  • Recreation: really I just wanted to be a teacher who was a park ranger in the summer, (thus me wanting to do environmental science, and education) But when I found out that job opportunities are minimal, and the program is not really all that serious an area of study, I decided not to do it.
    5. My right ear always produces more wax than my left.Extra: my mouth was probably made crooked by the doctor causing nerve damage with forceps or something when I was born.Ok Well I guess I am supposed to tag some other people, so here we go: Markus Sandy, Mike Hudack, Jay Dedman, Joel Leo, Chris Daniel

I Called 911 Last Night

Last night (around 12:30 am) as I was playing fetch with my cat Winnie, I heard a noise coming from the apartment above me. I recognized the sound as the buzzer/doorbell of apartment 7. I looked outside to the front stoop of my building and saw a guy pressing the button. I think it was the same guy that I had seen the night before. He was helping the girl above me move into her new apartment. At first I thought that maybe she was asleep and he needed to get back in. Maybe he left something in the apartment. Maybe he got locked out. Maybe they had a fight and he wanted to apologize. He made a few calls on his cell phone, rang the bell some more and then walked off.

I went to bed but as i was trying to ease into sleep, I heard something outside my bedroom window. You see, my building is shaped like a horeseshoe. There are 6 apartments but they are not connected in the back of the building. There is a small pathway on the ground that separates the back of the building. This dude was shimmying his way up the inside of my building by having his back against one side and his feet on the other. I saw the light from his cell phone reflecting off the brick of the building next to my window. (Remember I live on the second floor) He managed to get all the way up the the third floor (I immediately said a tiny prayer for this idiot because I did not want to see his brains all smushed on the pavement 3 stories down) and then he stood on a window sill. By this time I had my way to the bathroom to get a better view out the window. I couldn’t see him any more so I walked out of the bathroom. As I was walking I heard a crash of a window. The dope had kicked in the window and crawled in. I heard his footsteps above me and then he quickly walked right out the door, down the stairwell, out the front door and off into his car. I don’t know if he stole something or what but I knew something shady was up.

My first thought was “Well that sucks, oh well im gonna go to bed.” However I was convicted to do something about what had just conspired and decided to call 911. I told them what happened. they said they would send someone over and I was to wait for them (it was already 12:55 by that time). Well, it took the officer about a half hour to get there. When he arrived, I told him everything, showed him the back area and the broken window, and gave him my name, birthday, and phone number. He gave me a card and said “Give this to the girl if you see her, tell her a report has been filed.” That was it. Completely anti-climactic. I had to stay up an hour past when I wanted to go to sleep because of some dopey dude breaking into his girlfriends new apartment, and because of the tardy Police officer. Nevertheless, it was an interesting night and I am eager to hear the backstory of what transpired if I do talk to the girl again…


Michigan Public Radio pushed back the feature of me to tomorrow so it wouldnt get lost in the shuffle of the state of the union reaction…more news on that tomorrow…