Matt O'Connnell Blog

Located at Morningside College

I Believe in the importance of adoption.

I believe in the importance of adoption.

I’ve never met my real parents, my birth parents I mean. Don’t know much about them besides a few details. I don’t know their names, where they were from, their occupations, what they’re doing now or what their personalities were like. Now that you know that about me, did you know that in 2020 there over four hundred thousand children in the American foster care system? I was lucky enough to find a loving pair of parents right away, but so many aren’t as fortunate as I was. I didn’t have to wait five minutes, while some can spend years in foster homes or worse. 

It’s expensive – financially, emotionally, and physically. Unfortunately, the adoption process can seem daunting and overwhelming. Fortunately for me, my parents were persistent and faithful in their pursuit of adopting. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have times where they were discouraged or faced obstacles. On average there are one hundred thirty-five thousand children who are adopted every year. The average child waits for an adoptive family for more than three years. It is estimated that there are over a million couples waiting to adopt. So why are there so many children who are waiting to be adopted?  I believe that the process is too cumbersome and expensive, with average costs ranging from fifteen thousand to forty thousand dollars. That’s only the financial impact.  The other emotionally draining stressor is the uncertainty of the process. Couples can spend money and time and still never end up with a finalized adoption. 

The amount that the government spends on foster care administrative costs is incredibly high. The total cost of placing and monitoring children in the foster care system totaled four point three billion dollars in 2019. Imagine if some of these funds were allocated to subsidize adoption fees and expenses!

I am far from the only one in my family who is adopted. I have one of my favorite cousins Adam, who also went through an open adoption process similar to mine. Which is starting to become the most common way to adopt. There are over seven million Americans who are adopted. I think it would be safe to say everyone knows at least one family who has been blessed with being able to adopt. Although I’ll never know, I’d like to believe that I’m in a much better situation than what could have been. 

The Pandemics Grasp on Local Musicians​ Final Draft

Coronavirus has taken many things from us. It has impacted all of us differently. Whether that impact is large or small it affects us all. One of the hardest-hit groups are independent musicians. With many popular venues such as bars and festivals either postponing or outright canceling their events, this has resulted in many artists struggling to find work. This hasn’t only impacted performances, but also putting a damper on groups’ ability to get together and practice.  

Dane Lewis, a local musician has felt the effects of this first hand. “Prior to the pandemic, I would plan events out three months in advance. Now with all of these restrictions, it just makes finding work even harder.” 

Asked how the music community has adapted “I couldn’t have picked a worse time to decide to be a full-time musician” he replied with a smile on his face. “It’s difficult for all of us. I still have other sources of income, so I’m certainly lucky. I know friends who are really having a hard time now. Things can change at the last minute and are so unpredictable.” 

With the ever-growing debate on face mask use and social distancing guidelines, Dane says he has seen venues make appropriate adjustments. “You know the band went to Nashville in the beginning of August. Bars were doing things such as to-go orders and drinks but weren’t allowing dine-in seating. Nashville is such a great town for musicians, it’s disappointing to see what’s happened in regard to some of the venues. Many of these are small family-run businesses so it’s upsetting to see them struggle. 

Asked on how he thinks Iowa is handling the pandemic he replied. “I certainly understand why we have social distancing policies in place. We should protect people that have weakened immune systems or the elderly. I think the hardest part is no one knows what the governor is going to do, and some business owners are afraid to push the envelope a little too far and get shut down again.”

As the shutdown has continued, Dane and his band have found creative ways to stay in touch with their fans. “Of course, we have a social media presence on sites you would expect like Facebook and Twitter. Initially, I posted videos on Facebook to interact with our fans. Later on, I started doing live streams on Twitch where if people feel comfortable, they can donate to the stream and make a request. The band has appreciated the support that we have gotten over the last few months. We certainly couldn’t do what we love without everyone who has supported us.”

Tanner Wright a recent Western Iowa Tech graduate has always had a passion for music. “I still remember how excited I was the day my parents took me to the local music store. I remember looking at all of the guitars lined up and almost feeling overwhelmed with everything. Ever since then music has been one of the most important things in my life.” After graduating from college with a degree in sound engineering, Wright went straight to work. “My first job out of college was a miserable production assistant job at a local venue. It just wasn’t for me; I just wasn’t passionate about the work.” Shortly after he would find work at a recording studio called The Sonic Factory. “While I’ve only been a part of the team for a short while, I feel like it’s a great fit.” 

Asked about how the pandemic has impacted his line of work “Thankfully we have a very diverse clientele. I have friends who work in larger markets who are just having a hell of a time finding work. Some people don’t realize how expensive recording something like a multi-track project really is, particularly for people or bands just starting out. I’ve been lucky where I have lots of independent work for smaller clients.” 

On August 27th Iowa governor Kim Reynolds closed bars in six counties included in that is the Des Moines area. As someone who frequently performed in the area, do you agree with this decision? “It’s difficult to say, I would be happier if there was clearer guidance from our government. But something people have to realize is that when you shut down something it has a huge negative impact on the owners of that business. I’m just concerned that there may be lasting damage to some of these businesses.” 

Some would call Tucker Long a jack of all trades. Even with the pandemic raging on, that he hasn’t detoured him from finding work. “First and foremost, I am a family man. Nothing is more important to me then my family’s wellbeing. My son has an autoimmune disorder, so we have taken the pandemic very seriously.” Tucker, who is the production manager at the Hard Rock in Sioux City, knows how quickly things can change. “My job is to oversee any event that comes through either Anthem which is the indoor venue, or any outdoor events. At the beginning of the year, we had a full schedule going for us. Now all of those events are canceled for the foreseeable future. It’s been unfortunate for a lot of our staff and stage crew. I’m friends with many of these people, so it’s upsetting that they are out of income that they were expecting.”

Tucker has also seen changes in the classroom. “I teach several audio production classes at Western Iowa Tech. Thankfully our class covers a large area so there is room for social distancing. We have a lot of the same guidelines that you see at other institutions. You hate to see it because there is no way the department can do things that we have in previous years. In the past, we have the audio students set up two typically outdoor concerts with local talent. I just don’t see that happening this year.”

This uncertainty and unpredictability that everyone feels forced musicians to be more creative and to broaden their client base and stay connected to their current fans. So, we all agree that it has taken may things from us, but it’s also required people who want to stay in the industry to adapt to the ever-changing environment. We know it may never go back to the way it was before, but the future is being molded by people who love the industry and are willing to persevere.   

The Pandemics Grasp on Local Musicians​

Coronavirus has taken many things from us. It has impacted all of us differently. Whether that impact is large or small it affects us all. One of the hardest-hit groups is independent musicians. With many popular venues such as bars and festivals either postponing or outright canceling their events, this has resulted in many artists struggling to find work and to pursue their passion for music.

Dane Lewis, a local musician has felt the effects of this first hand. “Prior to the pandemic, I would plan events out three months in advance. Now with all of these restrictions, it just makes finding work even harder.” When asked how the music community has adapted, he replied “I couldn’t have picked a worse time to decide to be a full-time musician” he replied with a smile on his face. “It’s difficult for all of us. I still have other sources of income, so I’m certainly lucky. I know friends who are really having a hard time now. Things can change at the last minute and are so unpredictable”

With the ever-growing debate on face mask use and social distancing guidelines, Dane says he has seen venues make appropriate adjustments. “You know the band went to Nashville at the beginning of August. Bars were doing things such as to-go orders and drinks but weren’t allowing dine-in seating. Nashville is such a great town for musicians, it’s disappointing to see what’s happened in regard to some of the venues. Many of these are small family-run businesses so it’s upsetting to see them struggle. When asked how he thinks Iowa is handling the pandemic he replied. “I certainly understand why we have social distancing policies in place. We should protect people that have weakened immune systems or the elderly. I think the hardest part is no one knows what the governor is going to do, and some business owners are afraid to push the envelope a little too far and get shut down again.”

As the shutdown has continued, Dane and his band have found creative ways to stay in touch with their fans. “Of course, we have a social media presence on sites you would expect like Facebook and Twitter. I have a friend who streams video games on twitch, and he introduced me to the platform. At first, I would just occasionally post videos on Facebook to interact with our fans. Later on, I started doing live streams on Twitch where if people feel comfortable, they can donate to the stream and make a request. As a band, we have appreciated the support that we have gotten over the last few months. We certainly couldn’t do what we love without everyone who has supported us.”

Tanner Wright a recent Western Iowa Tech graduate has always had a passion for music. “I still remember how excited I was the day my parents took me to the local music store. I remember looking at all of the guitars lined up and almost feeling overwhelmed with everything. Ever since then music has been one of the most important things in my life.” After graduating from college with a degree in sound engineering, I went straight to work. “My first job out of college was a miserable production assistant job at a local venue. It just wasn’t for me; I just wasn’t passionate about the work.” Shortly after he would find work at a recording studio called The Sonic Factory. “While I’ve only been a part of the team for a short while, I feel like it’s a great fit.” 

When asked about how the pandemic has impacted his line of work he replied “Thankfully we have a very diverse clientele. I have friends who work in larger markets who are just having a hell of a time finding work. Some people don’t realize how expensive recording something like a multi-track project really is. Particularly for people or bands just starting out. I’ve been lucky where I have lots of independent work for smaller clients.”

On August 27th Iowa governor Kim Reynolds closed bars in six counties included in that is the Des Moines area. As someone who frequently performed in such areas do you agree with this decision? “It’s difficult to say, I would be happier if there was clearer guidance from our government. But something people have to realize is that when you shut down something it has a huge negative impact on the owners of that business. I’m just concerned that there may be lasting damage to some of these businesses. I will say that every event that I attended before the ban had limited capacity with other distancing guidelines like mask-wearing.”

Some would call Tucker Long a jack of all trades. An experienced and creative artist in the community. Even with the pandemic raging on, that hasn’t detoured him from finding work. “First and foremost, I am a family man. Nothing is more important to me then my family’s wellbeing. My son has an autoimmune disorder, so we have taken the pandemic very seriously.” Tucker, who is the production manager at the Hard Rock in Sioux City, knows how quickly things can change. “My job is to oversee any event that comes through either Anthem which is the indoor venue, or any outdoor events. At the beginning of the year, we had a full schedule going for us. Now all of those events are canceled for the foreseeable future. It’s been unfortunate for a lot of our staff and stage crew. I’m friends with many of these people, so it’s upsetting that they are out of income that they were expecting.”

Tucker has also seen changes in the classroom. “I teach several audio production classes at Western Iowa Tech. Thankfully our class covers a large area so there is room for social distancing. We have a lot of the same guidelines that you see at other institutions. Things like mandatory mask-wearing in certain areas, standing six feet apart, and a hybrid learning structure. You hate to see it because there is no way the department can do things that we have in previous years. In the past, we have the audio students set up two typically outdoor concerts with local talent. I just do see that happening this year.”

(Conclusion)

Article 1 Sketch

What impact has the Coronavirus pandemic had on local musicians?

For this project, I plan to interview two local musicians. I will also be interviewing a music producer to see how COVID has affected his business. With many smaller venues not being able to make accommodations for live music, I want to know what methods and if any social distancing is happening at these events. Particularly I am interested to hear from Tucker to find out how the Hard Rock has adapted to not having any events.

People who I have interviewed.

Dane Lewis- Siouxland Musician

Tanner Wright- Producer at The Sonic Factory in Des Moines

Tucker Long- Production Manager at the Hard Rock/ Local Musician

Re-Construct a Scene Activity

The trip to Minneapolis certainly didn’t go as planned for Hailey Barrus and her boyfriend Dylan. Like any road trip, it’s always more bearable when you can jam out to some music. Unfortunately for them, their car speakers blew up on the drive up. Fortunately, they were still able to play music from their phones. That may be ok for a while but of course, that’s not the best way to listen to music on a drive. So Hailey with her quick thinking created a makeshift amplifier using an empty cup.

After they arrived the young couple went to several breweries in town. “Something that I found different was that everyone was wearing a mask and the breweries were limiting parties to three people. It seemed like there was universal mask wearing everywhere we went.” Hailey said.

The ride back to Sioux City wasn’t short of surprises either. Hailey received a call from her roommates informing her that there were bats in her house. Relieved that she wasn’t there at the time, her roommates then called animal control to remove the bats. As it turns out the blown speakers were the least of her concerns. When headed back to Sioux City Hailey found out that her roommate tested positive for COVID. Because of that, we had the pleasure of doing this interview over Zoom in class.

Reverse Scavenger Hunt

Clocking in for my shift working security for the college. One of the first things I do is write out Free Fruit Snacks Inside! on paper and post it to the door. Around an hour goes by before someone entered the office. Alex Freeman was just there to pick up his parking permit. Little did he know he would receive at no cost to him a package of Annie’s Organic Bees, Bugs & Butterflies fruit snacks. After breaking into the package and trying a few, Alex soon had a scowl on his face. I asked him what was wrong trying to hide the smile that developed on my face. “What kind of fruit snacks are these again?” asked Alex. Scarcasticly I asked him “What’s wrong you’re not a fan?” Judging by his expression he most certainly was not.

A short while after Alex left I had a student who wanted to appeal a parking ticket that they had received. I notified him about the process of appealing a ticket and told him there was nothing I could do on my end. Before he left I offered him a package of fruit snacks. He looked at me with a look of confusion asking what I was doing handing out the fruit snacks. “There for an assignment for my feature writing class.” He wished me luck as he left without taking a snack.

As I was gathering my things getting ready to leave Jack Shaver came in to replace me. Before I left he asked me what was up with the sign on the door. “Why do you want some?” I ask. “Sure you know college students can’t turn down free stuff” Jack then tried some of the fruit snacks. “Well, what’s the verdict?” He paused and after a few seconds he responded “Not bad they have a weird aftertaste.”

Overall I was disappointed that my snacks sign seemed to be ineffective in drawing people in. I’m sure that I could have attracted more people by using a different approach. Perhaps I should have chosen a different location to carry out this assignment. By choosing a more open spot such as the library I may have drawn in more participants.

Longform Writing #3

http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/9659225/espnw-feminization-bill-laimbeer

This story is about Bill Laimbeer former Detroit Piston and current coach of the WNBA Los Vegas Aces. This article was written in late 2013 when he had just become the head coach of the New York Liberty. There is a lot that I enjoyed about this article as a basketball fan. While the author Kate Fagen spends some time discussing Laimbeer’s days a Detroit bad boy, the more important focus is how particular at that time people didn’t view the WNBA with much respect. Laimbeer’s first experience coaching basketball came as an assistant coach with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. Unfortunately, he didn’t have great success with the team and left shortly after.

I found that the headline of this article compelled me to keep reading. “The Feminization of Bill Laimbeer” is something that I never though I would read. You have this tough guy who certainly didn’t have a great relationship with referees, opposing players, and even sometimes his own team. I certainly believe that this is a true story. Now I’m sure that some of the quotes may have been changed because of his fiery personality. But I certainly believe the events that are covered. I particularly found the exchange that he had with Chucky Jeffery particularly colorful.

Leads

https://www.theringer.com/nfl-preview/2019/8/16/20807654/nfl-black-coaches-forgotten

This lead grabbed my attention right away. It alludes to the obstacles that black coaches face in the NFL. It draws the reader in by teasing a quote in the lead. It made me want to read further to learn about specific experiences that many different black team personal have had.

  1. The uphill climb of being a black coach in the NFL.
  2. The “cookie-cutter” landscape of the NFL.
  3. Widening the NFL talent pool, how Bryan Leftwich broke barriers to become an offensive coordinator.

Spinoff Ideas

  1. How violent protests are drowning out peaceful protests.
  2. Does the National Guard need to get involved.
  3. QAnon conspiracy members
  4. Police reform
  5. Violent clashes between right-wing groups and BLM
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