Students make great consumers

Categories Thoughts

Students are in a position where they have to constantly consume. They buy books, pay tuition, consume information from teachers, spend time with friends, and indulge in various forms of entertainment. They often have to work menial jobs to pay for it all, too. And when you’re caught up juggling that day to day, you tend to forget that you’re doing nothing for anybody.

We’re in a world where creating important work for people who find it valuable is all that matters but with students, the emphasis has always been on consuming.

Press releases are just a formality

Categories Thoughts

Many people see them as “must-haves” to let the media know what’s going on. They aren’t required for every situation, it’s just a “nice-to-have” for most. It all depends on the pitch.

The press release allows journalists to do less digging. Media will often expect one when organizations hold events or announce changes, but make no mistake: this is only so they can get the who, what, when, where, and why quicker. Here’s the thing about formalities: the higher the value, the more likely they are to be skipped.

Because everything is based on value – what will this do for them? On a bigger picture, it’s to make money selling advertisement space to companies who want to reach the viewership. The viewership gets roped in and stick around for interesting stories. The newscasters/journalists have a certain number of stories to make a day/week/month. What kind of story are you bringing to the table?

It’s really close to today

Categories Thoughts

If there’s one thing reading philosophy will teach you, it’s that the human experience today is really close to the human experience thousands of years ago.

The politics, the rich vs. the poor, leadership, the ways we suffer, everything. In school, when we’re taught a ruler from a distant time period got stabbed in the back, we seem to make no connection to today. It sounds like a fairy tale and we treat it like one. The lessons are abundant but lost. To make matters worst, the teacher moves on as if all that is there is a shallow stream when in truth, it’s a deep lake.

Below is a quote from Seneca (5 BC – AD 65), On the Shortness of Life.

Why do we complain about nature? She has acted kindly: life is long if you know how to use it. But one man is gripped by insatiable greed, another by a laborious dedication to useless tasks. One man is soaked in wine, another sluggish with idleness. One man is worn out by political ambition, which is always at the mercy of the judgement of others. Another through hope of profit is driven headlong over all lands and seas by the greed of trading. Some are tormented by a passion for army life, always intent on inflicting dangers on others or anxious about danger to themselves.


In a word, run through them all, from lowest to highest: one calls for legal assistance, another comes to help; one is on trial, another defends him, another gives a judgment; no one makes his claim to himself, but each is exploited for another’s sake.

Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds like it was written today. It shows you how many of the problems we presently face are the same ones we use to face, despite all the progress we’ve collectively made. Presently, isn’t there still an abundance of people dedicated to useless tasks? Alcoholics? People worn out by political ambitions? Aren’t people in politics still always at the mercy of the judgement from others?

And interestingly, how often does our society question those “tormented by a passion for army life”? We don’t, not even in 2017. But Seneca did, ~2000 years ago.

It sounds more like a game of what to avoid when you plainly see history repeat itself today.

What else can we learn from people who have lived vastly different lives from our own?

Celebrating Gus & YiaYia day

Categories Thoughts, Video

Most people didn’t know the day existed. It’s something the City of Pittsburgh does to celebrate people who contribute to the culture. I think it’s a good tradition that should be continued.

After posting this video, many people shared it expressing great remorse over how they can’t believe they missed the day. That they should have been there to celebrate it.

I didn’t know about it either. Just happened to Google “Gus & YiaYia’s” a few days before and saw an older article by the Northside Chronicle about the ice ball stand being awarded a day – April 25th.

And I’d be darned if I’d miss a chance to celebrate a neighbor. A Pittsburgh icon. A person that I’m surprised let me film everything that I did. He barely ever does interviews. He turned down around 7 just after talking to me about Mr. Rooney passing away.

That’s a firm demonstration of values if I’ve ever seen it. They really don’t make them like Gus anymore. I’m very honored to have made this video with him. Did you know it’s my most viewed video, too? 43K and counting on Facebook.

It would probably have more on it except for the fact I left that stripper story in there. My intuition tells me government, corporate, and nonprofit entities are substantially less likely to share something that has edge to it. They seek to limit the scrutiny they could be under from sharing – or appearing to endorse – content on social media. In general, the formula is: the safer the better. Both in artist and art. But something told me to leave it there. When you mix love, nostalgia, and a dose of the truthfulness; you get a beautiful mix.

Link to video.


Ask Pittsburgh – should marijuana be legalized?

Categories Thoughts, Video

A continuation of my series, this episode we Ask Pittsburgh: should marijuana be legalized?

This series exists for one main reason: I like watching people talk. As mentioned before, the idea was inspired from iamOTHER‘s series StereoTypes. I’m just not nearly as charismatic as Ryan Hall, the host of the show. Really I just want more episodes but it doesn’t look like that’s happening anytime seeing that the last episode came out 3 years ago. I’m not crossing my fingers. But I can remix the idea to my own liking.

The other big reason is it encourages discussion in our city and brings exposure to other opinions in a really cool way, and I’m not just saying that because I made it. I’d watch every episode if someone else had beat me to the punch.

Link to video.

For the near-future episodes, I’d like them to be a bit longer. I’m probably going to have to spend more time out and about. The goal is to get the stronger opinions to represent many of the people watching the show.

I’m looking to fix the wind problem as well. For my camera, I have a quick workaround: a makeshift micromuff.

I’m pretty sure I’ve fixed the out-of-focus issue… for the most part.

And for the record, for every person you see on this video I’ve probably gotten about 15 no’s. It’s a game of persistence if anything.

Thank you to NEXTPittsburgh and Upgruv for featuring the video, and to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for putting it in their 4/20 article.

Leaving money on the table

Categories Thoughts

We often leave money on the table with the choices we make and how comfortable we choose to be. Public speaking often takes us out of our comfort zones, so many of us avoid anything to do with it. But we also leave any money behind that we could have earned. And of course we earn less that way. We get back what we give. We’re providing less value to humanity when we choose to give less.

Our choice to not learn more also limits our value we provide to others around us.

It’s a mental choice we’re making. I’m very intrigued thinking about this throughout the day. The thoughts we juggle in our head are actually determining our degree of choices we can make in the world.

Sometimes it’s a great idea to leave money on the table, like when a choice compromises your character. If you accept money to take on a job that you’re morally against, it could come with a cost greater than the money received.

But we owe it to ourselves and others to make sure we’re not compromising when we don’t have to.

RIP Dan Rooney

Categories Spotlight

Pittsburgh lost a great man today.

As a baby, my parents would take walks with me through West Park and would often run into Mr. Rooney and his wife, Patricia. One thing they always remembered is how exceptionally humble and friendly they were. ~20 years later, my parents started the Allegheny City Historic Gallery, a space dedicated to the history of the Northside of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Rooney was personally always kind to me and told my father that he loves what he’s doing for the Northside and that he would like to write a book with him. My condolences to his family, he will be missed by myself and my family.

RIP Mr. Rooney.

Everybody won’t get it

Categories etc, Thoughts

I’m realizing more and more that no matter what you do, everybody won’t get it. How you communicate what you do – through your work and words – will greatly increase the number of people who would. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand while also leaving an open door to those who don’t yet. Public speaking is a powerful way to reach sizeable groups of people. I’m sure getting good at that would boost anybody’s career.

Yesterday, I knocked on the door of Randy Gilson (of Randyland). I messaged first; it was for me to make an introduction between him and a new business owner in the neighborhood. He walked into the courtyard where I was sitting and 5 other people were looking around at the art. “Hey Willy! How’s it going man??” He immediately goes into public speaking mode, everyone pays attention and draws closer to where Randy is standing. “Hey everybody! I’m Randy from Randyland. This place is…” he regales the founding of Randyland and the importance of art.

He spent a good amount of time mentioning to everyone what I’m doing and how it’s important for the community. I felt validated, it always feels great when you’re acknowledged by those who you also respect.

Afterwards, two people came up to me, eager to find out where to watch my videos. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, if I hadn’t known so many people who do public speaking, this might look new. Spending time on the people who pay attention, matters. At the end of the lecture, those interested for more approach.