Change for a Year

Take a year. Change your life.

Author: Jeff (page 2 of 6)

Rape Culture, Homophobia, Veganism: Changing the world one drop at a time

I’m a white, straight male who lives in Wisconsin, yet I’ve been called a “faggot” — not once, but twice — for holding a disabled man’s hand as we crossed the street. I worked with another man, an ex-police officer, who talked openly of his disdain for women officers.

“When they called for help, there was an unspoken rule the other officers would wait a beat. We’d go,” he assured me. “But we’d give them a chance to figure it out themselves.”

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When Your Heroes Die

In many ways it’s silly to mourn the death of a celebrity. It’s a one-sided relationship, and chances are you never knew the real them: their fears, their loves, the intimate moments — sometimes throwaway, sometimes profound — that can only be shared by those in a tight-knit circle.

But when I learned today that James Gandolfini had died, I was truly sad. I grew up watching him as Tony Soprano, the labored breathing exploding into anger, the love for both his families, the depression and the ecstasy. Someone once said that television actors are on a different level. In film you spend just a few hours with a character in the movie theater. In television you invite them into your home every week for years on end. Sunday nights were for Gandolfini to come into my home. Now he is dead. Just 51 years old. And I will no longer be able to pick up a new film and spend my Sunday nights listening to new stories from him.

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Five Reasons Every Writer Needs to be on Google Plus – The Newbie Freelance Writing Guide

UPDATE (7/30/15): After spending a few years trying to push all Google users into Google+, Google is apparently trying a new approach. They’re calling it a chance to “lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+.” Others are more direct, saying the social site is essentially dead.

Original Post: Some writers say social media’s bullshit. They look on it as some unholy abomination, all that’s wrong in the world. I’ve heard others say to just write, just do your job, marketing isn’t worth the time. They have a point. It’s easy to get sucked into half a day of music videos, top-10 articles and cat memes. But those writers are ignoring the future, and they will increasingly pay the price.

The days are coming where freelancers will get hired based not only on their portfolio, but their social media presence.

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Singing from the Mountaintop and Achieving Your Dreams


I started blogging because I hated myself and I wanted to change. So many people I knew were feeling suffocated. Life has a way of doing that, of slowly taking over, creeping in from the edges until those visions of a wide open future become more and more narrow.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” -Henry David Thoreau

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1912: Persian Cannibals, Old Vegans, Does a Girl Need a Bank Account?

The other day I became possessed while stumbling through an antique store. I found an old paper — two of them actually — sitting on a shelf tucked away among old bicycles, antique model tractors and dirty figurines.

The idea that I absolutely must read them suddenly washed over me. Old, rusty, used-up crap doesn’t normally excite me, but after spending a weekend immersed in The Great Gatsby and living it up vicariously through the rich, spoiled high society of the 1920s, I thought it’d be nice to get a little taste of old-school journalism and sense of what reality was a century ago.

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What’s so Great About Gatsby, Old Sport?

It’s been a Gatsby weekend. I finally saw the movie, which I loved. I reread the book for the third time, which I continue to love even more. I even made a promise to address everyone as “Old Sport” all weekend in honor of Mr. Gatsby.

Rereading the book has been a delight. Rarely does a book make me laugh in giddy joy simply by the arrangement of words on a page. I’ve written about Gatsby quite often — strange for a blog about going vegan — and as I read the book again I was trying to think what it is that makes me love this book so. In school I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but now I have to agree with many that those eight chapters and 180 pages are among the finest ever written.

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On Being a Badass and Taking Over the World

When I started this blog and got my first follower and my first comment, I thought, “Wow, ain’t that cool. Someone actually read my stuff.” Six months later I get this little notification from WordPress: seems I’ve surpassed a thousand followers on

I’d like to give a giant shout out to Discovering Garrett for being lucky number 1000! You win, well, gee-whiz, I don’t really have anything cool to give you. So I’ll just wish you best of luck on the new EP you will be releasing. Yeah, it’s scary, but someone once told me you should be uncomfortable every day, because that is the only way to grow as a person.

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Best and Worst Writing Advice – Newbie Freelance Writing Guide

The internet is filled with writers, opinions and advice. Some of it is excellent. Much of it is utter nonsense. To paraphrase my favorite favorite fictional vice president as played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss: I’ve met plenty of people, and most of them are pretty fucking stupid.

Sometimes it seems writers spend more time writing about writing than they do actually writing. I know. You’re probably thinking, Jeff, isn’t this exactly what you’re doing right now? You got me. Guilty. The only reason I’m adding to the nonsense is because people have asked. And, well, let me be perfectly honest. I should be productive and start working on the two articles that are due Friday morning, but I’m putting that off by blogging about writing instead.

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What the hell is wrong with you, you dirty, hippie vegan?

Since going vegan, one thing has fascinated me more than anything — other people’s reactions. Who would have thought simply trying to eat more vegetables would be a cause for such concern among friends, acquaintances and random strangers. Some people even seem downright offended. “Are you serious?” they practically ask with a sneer. “Who doesn’t want cheese on their pizza?”

People being curious, sometimes idiotic, occasionally judgmental — no surprise there. That’s life. What’s odd is how no one used to be any of those things or continues to be any of those things when I swing to the other end of the spectrum. I can show up with a gallon of mountain dew, a large double cheese and pepperoni pizza, and a container full of cookies and no one bats an eye.

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Why would you ever re-read a book?

It is childish, someone once told me, to return to the same thing again and again. Children will re-watch movies dozens of times. They will want the same book read to them every night. They will listen to the same song again and again, and so I always viewed it as a childish act.

Think of all the grandeur in the world — all the books and songs and films. There’s so much greatness that no one can possibly experience it all in their lifetime. It’s impossible to read them all, to hear them all, to see them all. And it is our duty to soak up as many as we can before leaving this great world.

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The 14 Best of Def Poetry

Poetry is supposed to be spoken. I imagine a time before the internet, before television, before radio. The people there are crowded around poets, listening to their words. When I was a kid I discovered Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. I’d watch the poets late at night, and though I didn’t understand half of them, they fascinated me.

April was National Poetry Month, and I spent the day watching some of the old clips on YouTube. I’m a bit late to the party, but oh well. Here are 14 of my favorite def poets.

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Newbie Freelance Writing Guide – How to Develop Sources

The one thing that amazes me whenever I read about freelance writing online — no one ever mentions sources. What’s a good story without a good source? In fact, think it’s so important I’m leading off this series with the topic.

I blame blogging. Or the internet. You could say it’s lazy journalism, but I’m going out on a limb and saying people just do not know any better. Say you’re a reporter. There’s a fire, and you have to write a story. That’s easy. Everyone knows what to do, even if you’ve never written anything before.

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Five Months in, 45 Pounds Down

May 1st I stepped on the scale — 326.

Ahh! When will I ever hit the 50 pound mark? Oh, you mean eating Skittles every day is a bad idea. Okay, makes sense.

But it’s not all bad news. At least I’m back on track after wallowing in the 330’s for months. I lost a whole 10 pounds this month, and, honestly, I can eat and certainly exercise a lot better than I’ve been.

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A Teacher’s Worth

“At the beginning of the year the teacher was told some of her students were gifted, and she should she expect some of them to grow by leaps and bounds,” my professor said. I was sitting in an introductory sociology course. It was the first time I’d learn of theories like expectancy and self-fulfilling prophecies.

“In reality the students she was told were gifted were chosen completely at random. They were no different from the others. But do you know what happened?” he asked. No one spoke up. “By the end of the year they were at the top of their class. The teacher raised her expectations, asked those few students she perceived to be smarter to work harder, and, amazingly, they did. The power of suggestion has amazing ramifications.”

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C25K Start and a Fat Man’s Runner’s High

A few years back I got into running. I even ran (with a lot of walking) a half marathon, though technically I never finished — at 95 degrees they shut down the timer before I crossed the finish line.

Flash forward a few years and I can’t even run 60 seconds, so I’m starting all over and doing the couch to 5K program. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a great way to slowly ease into running by alternating running and walking until you build up to 3.1 miles. Last night I finally went to the health club and hopped on the treadmill. I’m taking it pretty easy and will probably add a few weeks to the 9 week program. That’s the great thing about C25K, you can change it up, add weeks, go faster if you like. I want to do everything I can to avoid the shin splints and plantar fasciitis that crept up on me before.

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Juice Fast – A 24-hour guide to feeling like a starving, murderous psychopath

Alternative title #1: How to NOT do a juice fast

Alternative title #2: Will juicing cure all my disease? Man says, “I’d rather die.”

Alternative title #3: Big Macs and Cheese Pizza Dreams: How juicing made one vegan want to personally kill and eat a cow

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Author Flashback – Patrick Rothfuss (Part 2)

The rest of the my 2007 interview with Patrick Rothfuss — before he published his first novel, The Name of the Wind — where he discusses the joys of getting published, blogging, reaching out to fans, and what he learned from reading between five and ten thousand fantasy books.

Here is part 1 of the interview.

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Author Flashback – Patrick Rothfuss Before Becoming a Bestseller

In 2007 I was a young journalism student writing for The Pointer, the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point student newspaper. Alongside my articles ran a hilarious, satirical advice column by soon-to-be bestselling fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss. At the time he hadn’t yet released his first book, The Name of the Wind, and the second installment, The Wise Man’s Fear, was still years away from debuting #1 on the NY Times fantasy bestseller list.

I’d never met him, but I’d heard tales of his English 101 class and his epic beard. When I heard one of our own was set to publish a novel, I set up an interview and brought my tape recorder. We met at an old coffee house which has long since closed up shop. The story for the paper would only be a few hundred words, but he talked for half an hour.

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Confessions of a “Moderate Binge Eater”

I’m a 23 on the Binge Eating Scale. Right smack dab in the middle of “indicating moderate binge eating.” Score one for me. I thought I’d be worse. Not that I much trust self-assessment tests like these, but it’s an interesting little experiment. There was a time in my life where I think I’d have scored much higher.

For the normal people — those who don’t struggle with food — all the yo-yo dieters out there must be fascinating to watch. I’ve witnessed people on an all-liquid diet, nothing-but-fruit diet, pound-of-hamburger-a-day-diet, and only-eat-egg diet. I’ve seen counting calories and running 8 miles a day do wonders, only to watch that person, or myself, go on a three-month binge of McDonald’s and put on all the weight again.

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Battle Over Rhino Horn, 99 Percent Vegans, and Mike Tyson’s 100 Pound Vegan Loss

Every Friday I post the most interesting vegan news articles and blogs I’ve read. This week in vegan news …

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