One of the clients I work with at DesignCo Marketing is Morgenroth Development, a general contracting company in Pleasanton, CA. I chiefly write for their Builder’s Blog, but I also provide copy for their website and I wrote their e-book, Remodeling v. Moving.
Below is a list of some of my favorite articles I’ve written for their Builder’s Blog, which include interviews with subcontractors, book reviews, and current housing trends:
“Preparing Your Home for Resale to Millennials”
“Hardwood Floors: Prefinish v. Job-Site Finish”
“Quality Over Quantity — The Not So Big House”
“6 Ways to Make Your Home Staycation Ready”
“Home On The Range: Gas Ranges v. Electric Ranges”
“Man Caves That Match Their Men”
“5 Artisan Smore Recipes for your New Outdoor Fire Pit”
“Hardwood Flooring: Pre-finished Engineered v. Pre-finished Solid”
A valuable part of my graduate school experience in Austin, Texas was being involved in my church, which had an active student congregation, an Institute of Religion next to campus, and a Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) campus club.
During my first year, I volunteered as Editor-in-Chief of the Capital Ward Newsletter, a weekly tri-fold with a readership of 100+ that told of the weekly happenings of church members. Now, this wasn’t your usual church newsletter. The Capital Ward Newsletter blended fiction with reality in a fun, Onion-like, photoshopped publication that was known throughout the state of Texas. Each issue featured a cover story, a student spotlight interview, an advice column, humorous quotes overheard during the week, articles about current events, and an inspirational quote.
Church leaders complimented my work for its role in generating energy, excitement, and unity among church members. However, since it made it difficult for people to focus, they requested that it be distributed after the church service. I could see their point, since I had one girl tell me — in all seriousness — that the reason she came to church was to get the latest issue of the newsletter.
Brigham Young University is famous for its dating and marriage culture. While lasting relationships often form, there is no shortage of drama and heartache along the way. In the spirit of “if you can laugh at it, then it can’t hurt you,” the BYU Date Club was formed to help students cope with and seek to understand the realities of the love quest.
It all started as a funny t-shirt design, but it quickly grew into a social force when it received front page media coverage in The Daily Universe. This was soon followed by Date Club Prophecies, a collection of my philosophizings and musings about dating, and Date With Destiny, a 30-minute no-budget sci-fi film about the 500th anniversary of the Intergalactic Federation of Romance.
Today the BYU Date Club, which has never been a sanctioned campus club, exists on Facebook, where people often post interesting articles, hilarious pick-up lines, memes, and personal stories. The hope is that it will continue to help people in their quest to find an everlasting love.
Since July 2012, I have donated over 4 gallons of blood at the American Red Cross for the exclusive use of newborns .
Somewhere along the line I had the idea that I could help promote blood donation by posting pictures of each of my donations. By making it fun and involving others, I could help rebrand the experience so people would no longer associate it with fear, discomfort, and needle pricks. Instead, it would be seen as an inviting, desirable experience that promoted good.
In January 2012 we packed up our belongings and, at sunrise, drove west across the Brooklyn Bridge and through the Holland Tunnel. Our destination was the San Francisco Bay Area, three thousand miles away on the other side of the country. Once we were situated in California, we decided to start up a new blog about our adventures in the Golden State.
S’MORMONS Artisan S’mores grew out of a creative exercise to develop S’mores for regional areas of the world. The first creation was the ‘Utah S’more’ (or ‘S’MORMON’), featuring pioneer-esque molasses cookies and a Ghirardelli Toffee Crunch square, along with a dab of marshmallow creme. The tasty success of this idea led to others until I had many ideas inspired by different types of cookies, flavors of chocolate, and holidays. Through it all the S’MORMON name stuck and became the general name for all varieties. As the list of S’MORMON varieties grew, my wife and others encouraged a blog, which I dutifully obliged.
Ever since high school, I’ve had a fascination with the history and ideology of Communism and have read several books on the subject. A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to Leninade, an artisan soda that is a satire of Soviet propaganda. Last year I had the real pleasure of meeting Danny Ginsburg, the creator of Leninade, who is witty and awesome. We became friends and have kept in contact via social media.
In October of last year, inspired by the book I was then reading, I had an idea for a way to promote both Leninade and scholarship about the realities of Communism. Why not drink a Leninade while reading a book about Communism during the month of October? ‘Read October‘ was born.
The Natural History Museum of Utah has been described as “a superior museum” by the New York Times. Its location on a 17-acre site above the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains certainly contributes to its appeal. As Edward Rothstein writes, “Most natural history museums are in urban centers, offering reminders of a distant natural world, but this one is housed in the realm it surveys; it is at home.”
The building itself reflects its natural setting. With an exterior “skin” made of copper (Utah’s state mineral), native plants growing on the rooftop, and “a voluminous central public space” known as the Canyon, it is the state of Utah in miniature. Ultimately, because of its location and design the museum “places humans at the nexus of environmental stewardship.”
“Past Worlds” Exhibit
The main attraction at the Natural History Museum of Utah is the “Past Worlds” exhibit that presents 200 million years of Utah’s past. Imposing dinosaur bones feature prominently, as well as “displays that capture plant and animal diversity, sights, sounds and smells [of] long lost ecosystems.”
While I have previously seen the “Past Worlds” exhibit, I wanted to get a fresh perspective and see it through children’s eyes. So, this week I invited my friend, Suzanne, to take her family to the museum to check out the exhibit. Suzanne is a Utah native who grew up in St. George, shadowed by red sandstone cliffs and black basalt ridges. After finishing college, she spent a few years back east and now lives in the Salt Lake Valley with her husband and three kids: Tennyson (age 9), Tait (age 6), and Julie (age 4). They are an adventurous family that enjoys outings into the natural world. Since this was their first time at the museum, I was curious to see what each member of her family would like about the “Past Worlds” exhibit.
When Suzanne lived back east she visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History several times, so she naturally compared that experience to her experience at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Upon entering the “Past Worlds” exhibit, she was immediately impressed by the “functioning paleontology lab with scientists and paleontologists working on fossils. I thought this was cool,” she told me, “because the Smithsonian has this too, but no one is *ever* in it.”
Suzanne’s kids were drawn to the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, which they loved. When Julie (age 4) saw the Tyrannosaurus Rex skull across the way she was initially taken aback, exclaiming, “This is scary,” before quickly losing her fear to fascination. After passing through the glass-floored dinosaur dig, Tait (age 6) “really liked the fake crocodile and fake eggs.”
Two interactive displays were particularly appealing to the kids. First, they all thought the squirt-a-scents, where you press a button to enjoy a prehistoric scent, were “so funny.” Second, the spinnable wheels that describe the dinosaurs and animals that are found during a particular time period and location were a big hit with Tennyson (age 9), who “was able to get the full educational use” out of them. Julie and Tait, on the other hand, “just liked to spin the wheels and see what animals they would get.”
The dinosaur skeletons were “the most magical part of the exhibit.” The kids “loved any dinosaur that was big.” The Brachiosaurus, with its impressively long neck, was “a huge hit.” While there were several interactive displays and activities nearby, the kids “really just liked looking at all the dinosaurs. It was fun for them to see the actual sizes of the various dinosaurs next to each other to put everything into perspective.”
Finally, the kids “absolutely loved, loved, loved the giant ‘crocodile'” and Julie loved the “little baby crocodile” next to it. The woolly mammoth, the long-horned paleo-bison, and the giant ground sloth were also engaging for everyone.
In evaluating their overall “Past Worlds” experience, Suzanne once again made a comparison to the Smithsonian:
“I think it was an impressive exhibit because of the sheer quantity of fossils. I went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum a lot when I was in DC and I wouldn’t be surprised if this exhibit had more specimens. There were some really classic dinosaurs, but there were some really funky looking ones, too, that I had never heard of or seen before today, and I have watched a lot of Dinosaur Train with my kids.”
She also found “Past Worlds” to be the most “contemplative” exhibit at the museum. She explained, “Even though they are dead, the bones speak for themselves as you absorb the enormity and spectacle of these animals that once lived here. Time is the only thing keeping you from standing face-to-face and it is sobering.”
The Natural History Museum of Utah is a world-class experience for anyone interested in the natural world and especially those who enjoy Utah’s natural wonders. As Suzanne’s experience shows, the “Past Worlds” exhibit is as good or better than anything you’ll see at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. My own experience matches this sentiment, as I found the Smithsonian museums rather dated. “Past Worlds” has something to offer everyone, as its design allows for personalized, age-appropriate engagement. Immersing ourselves in an exhibit like “Past Worlds” is a healthy reminder that we are a part of this world and have a responsibility to act accordingly.
During the two years my wife and I lived in New York City, we kept a detailed blog of our activities. In the end we published over 100 posts on topics ranging from the well-known to the obscure in New York City culture. In addition to being a fun way to share our adventures with our family and friends, it also became a resource for locals to learn about their own city and for tourists to plan their upcoming “trips of a lifetime”.