Why Charity Matters to Me

If you only started following this blog recently as a result of my NaNoWriMo posts, you might have missed the fact that I’ve been running a charity drive to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with the proceeds from my book as well as my Patreon page.1Additionally, any comments made on any blog posts through December 25 also generate a donation. Since that drive is coming to an end tomorrow, I’ll be posting some results from our drive on this blog by the end of the week. If you haven’t already bought something from one of the folks participating (or downloaded the free podcast that’s also part of this), I’d encourage you to go back to the introductory post linked earlier in the paragraph and see what you’d like to get for sake of donating.

That said, my primary intent for today’s post is not to push that charity drive. I wanted to take some time to talk about why charity matters to me. On one hand, my answer is a fairly stock answer. The idea of being able to do something to give something to those who don’t have the ability to get the things or services they need for themselves is appealing on a lot of levels. It’s a nice feeling when I can say that I’ve been able to use the money and resources I’ve been fortunate enough to have for myself to help those who don’t have the same privileges. 

I also recognize that while there are charities such as food banks and Toys for Tots that provide specific types of resources directly to those who need them, not all charities deal in tangible goods in the same way. Services like those provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, UNICEF, the Special Olympics, or Planned Parenthood aren’t as easy to quantify because they aren’t cans of food or dollars going directly to someone in need. The services, however, are typically things that wouldn’t be accessible to those who need those services if those charities did not exist.

Even organizations that aren’t classified as charities can often do charitable work in their communities. This is particularly common in smaller communities. This reality is actually how I experienced my first brush with charity (at least the first one in my life that I can remember).

Some time around the age of 10 or so, Christmas time was nearly upon our household. My brother and I were living with my dad, my then-stepmom, and my then-stepbrothers. We’d been struggling with finances for a while at that point, and while I did have a bit of an understanding of how much of a struggle that we were having, I didn’t have a full grasp on exactly how much of a struggle it had been.

On Christmas Day, one of the local police cruisers showed up to our house. This wasn’t a particularly odd occurrence — between one of my former stepbrothers having a few run-ins with the law, the fact that my dad went to high school with the police chief, and that we lived in a very small town, we typically saw a cop in person at our house at least once a month. The visit on Christmas Day, however, featured two of the station’s officers bringing in boxes full of toys, which my stepmom attempted to sneakily maneuver into a back bedroom without anyone noticing. I saw it happen, but didn’t think much of it. Fifteen minutes later, the policemen left, and my brother and I opened our presents — the same presents that had been guided to the bedroom before, wrapped in plastic grocery bags.

Even after couple of years and a lot of larger financial issues that befell our family, I never quite made the connection that the fact that people who weren’t my family bringing my family Christmas presents for me and my brother was an act of charity. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school when my then-girlfriend noticed that a family we knew was the recipient of the 7th annual charity toy donation from the local police station that I realized that not only was I once part of that same program, there was a good chance my family was one of the first recipients.

While I had participated in charity things my high school had done at various points up to that point, I started caring a lot more about doing stuff for others once I recognized how I had benefited from the help of others. The following spring and summer, I volunteered at the local therapeutic equestrian center in our area. I’ve been involved with various charity drives — both ones that I’ve set up and ones I haven’t over the years — benefiting various organizations including local Special Olympics groups, To Write Love On Her Arms, UNICEF, and the AFSP. I’ve also made an effort (once I had the means to do so) to donate some amount of money every year to charities that matter to me.

I wrote this post not as a plea for you to donate to a specific charity. If you want to take part in the charity drive I’m running with some other folks, that would be amazing. With that said, there are organizations that matter to you. And I do believe that there is benefit in trying to help those less fortunate than yourself — not just for their sake, but also for the greater good2*Hot Fuzz voice* The greater good. of society. There are people who will benefit this holiday season from the charity and kindness of others. My hope is that, if you are able to do so, you consider providing that help to someone who may be in need of it.

An (Updated) Career Desire History

Earlier this year, I wrote a few posts talking about searching for — and ultimately finding a new job. I originally had written this post as an extension of those posts, meant to go up in May of this year. But that never happened. So I’m putting it up now.

The main idea for the post below came from a post I wrote in the summer of 2013, wherein I discussed my career aspirations throughout life as a response to a blog post that did the same3Said blog is apparently now dead, as the domain is up for sale.. I’ve kept most of what I wrote on the original post, which accounts for about 800 words of this article, though I have added to that content to help it make more sense here and there4Such as footnotes like these.. I’ve also updated the post to include more information about how my career aspirations have changed since 2013…not that it’s happened at all or anything.

Age ??? – Second Grade – A professional wrestler AND a football player

As a young boy, I fell into the stereotype of wanting to grow up to be a professional athlete. Despite being the smallest kid in my class, I was convinced that being a wide receiver in the NFL was the optimal life choice I could make. My idol at the time was Brian Blades, a diminutive wideout for the Seattle Seahawks who put up four 1,000 yard seasons during his eleven years in the league. When I later played football in middle school, I wore the number 89 because of Blades5I was blissfully unaware that Blades was on trial for murdering his cousin, a charge he was later acquitted of.

At the same time, I was convinced I could also be a professional wrestler. I loved watching pro wrestling, particularly mesmerized by the acrobatics of Shawn Michaels6Oddly enough, my favorite childhood wrestlers — Edge and Christian — weren’t even the ones that first got me into wrestling. and the sheer power of The Undertaker. I even had a gimmick thought up for myself. My ring name was going to be The Jukebox Hero (blatantly lift from Foreigner’s song by the same name), and I’d be a musician who hit people with guitars as his finishing move (basically a tolerable version of Jeff Jarrett/The Honky Tonk Man).

Second Grade – Third Grade – A history teacher

My first experience with public school came midway through second grade, thanks in large part to my parents getting divorced. I was an incredibly shy child — the only two people I talked to in second grade were my homeroom teacher and the school counselor, with third grade not being much better — though I did find that I loved learning. My favorite subject of all was social studies, primarily because I was the only kid in class who could spell Czechoslovakia and knew that the former Cold War nation had dissolved in 1993. When the third grade class did a musical based off of careers, I was first in line to sign up for the part of being a teacher. My interest in actually teaching history didn’t stick around long, however.

Third Grade – Seventh Grade – Sports Statistician

Despite not having a television or internet in my house throughout most of my childhood, I was exposed to computers for the majority of that time. My dad had a Macintosh LC 520 that he used for work, though I mainly used it to play Monopoly and Spectre7It might have been Spectre VR that we had. I’m genuinely not sure at this point.. After he replaced the LC 520 with a new computer, I got the old desktop and started fiddling around with some of its other programs. A spreadsheet program caught my eye, and from there forward I routinely started keeping statistics from kickball and football games that my cousins, my brother, and I would play after school. To this day, I still think it would be pretty cool to work for the Elias Sports Bureau, though I’m content with not working there as well.

Seventh Grade – Ninth Grade – Anaylst

I had no clue what I wanted to analyze, I just knew that I wanted to analyze things. Most of the time, my desire to be an analyst fell into the realm of watching for changes in stocks and bonds, or attempting to forecast future athlete performance based off of past trends. Had Bill Barnwell, Jayson Stark, or Matthew Berry’s writing been easily available to me in middle school, I’m fairly certain my career path desires wouldn’t have changed. The start of high school signaled my next change in career choices, all prompted by a sudden increase in my skill level of something I did every day.

Ninth Grade – Early Senior Year – Jazz Trumpeter or High School Music Teacher

I started playing the trumpet (very poorly) in the fifth grade. For the first four years I played, I was horrible at the trumpet. I really wanted to get better, and I’d try to practice when I could, however my stepmom was pissed off I didn’t choose a manlier instrument like the drums8She also told me I had a vagina and that “I might as well get gay married” when I told her I didn’t want to play football anymore., so I wasn’t allowed to practice at home. My dad divorced my first stepmom midway through my eighth grade year, and I began practicing trumpet every day at home9My dad was a trumpeter himself, so he didn’t mind..

In less than a year, I went from being 14th chair (out of 15 trumpet players) to 4th chair of all grade levels (1st in my class). The emotional and ego boost of succeeding made me strongly considering going into music for a career for a couple of years, though soon enough my desire to work in sports would resurface.

Early Senior Year – My Final Semester Of Undergraduate College – Sports Radio Talk Show Host

At one point, I wanted to be a journalist. Well, more accurately, I got pissed off at how certain members of my high school’s staff had a shitfit when I told them I didn’t want to work in science for the rest of my life, and it caused me to go even harder towards considering journalism or broadcast media in college. Though the more I look back at my decision to go to school for communications, the more I think it was a ploy for me to get out of the house and get a college degree more so than what I actually wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working at a radio station in college, however the longer I talked about sports, the more I realized it wasn’t a viable career path thanks to my strong distaste for anything baseball or basketball related. Fortunately, a class during my final year of my undergraduate degree changed my career direction.

Last Semester at State Tech – Mid 2015 – Curriculum Designer

In my final semester working on my communications degree, I took a filler class to get my course load to a full-time schedule. The class was meant for upperclassmen to teach incoming freshmen how to deal with the stresses of college, including everything from study habits to handling alcohol (seriously). Each of the four upperclassmen was responsible for creating lesson plans for two classes across the semester (in addition to the class sessions created by the graduate assistant teaching the class), then they would teach the content they created. I found that I loved creating lesson plans, going so far as to go to grad school a year later with the intent of learning to develop curricula for college students.

While I no longer work in higher education, I still have a passion for creating plans to help individuals learn and grow within their fields. The problem isn’t that I dislike doing curriculum development. It’s that it’s not all I want to do for the rest of my life. I actually got to be a curriculum designer as a component of my job from mid-2014 to mid-2018. And it’s enjoyable under the right circumstances. In designing curriculum for various departments in the company I worked for, I began to realize that there was something I wanted to do even more.

Early 2015 – Present – Author
Mid 2015 – Present? – Human Resources Professional

Something changed in 2015. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was, but something made me have a drastic change in desire of how I wanted to make a living. A few of my friends began to share that they thought my writing was good. Really good. To the point where I should take one of my NaNoWriMo stories and turn it into a book. I did something along those lines in 2016, publishing a book of short stories I’ve written. That said, I’m still working toward getting my first novel done. I’m hoping that to have it in decent shape by the end of 2018.

As for those changes to my career desires thanks to my job I mentioned? All of the training I created helped me to realize that most of the things I had an interest in fell under the realm of human resources. So I started doing everything I could to point my career in that direction. In recent posts, I’ve covered why this hasn’t worked out so far. That said, with a new start, I’m hoping my career trajectory begins to take me that way.

What are some of the jobs you’ve wanted in your past? Do you have any career desires that you look back on now as being silly or amusing? Share them in the comments.

Q4 2018 Patreon Q&A

Hey all!

If you weren’t already aware, I have a Patreon where you can help support my blog, my writing, and my other creative endeavors. One of the items I do in conjunction with my Patreon is a quarterly Q&A session where you can ask me questions, be it about my writing, podcasts, or really anything.

To access this month’s podcast, click on this link. You can also get to the podcast by going to my Patreon (https://patreon.com/timbaughmanjr) and clicking Posts.

If you want to submit questions for future Q&A posts, I would recommend becoming a patron. While I was able to get to all of the questions (both patron and non-patron) this quarter, I think that I’m going to try to keep future Q&A podcasts in the 25-35 minute range like this one was. This means that if I have too many questions to fit in that time span, the non-patron questions will likely be the first ones cut. Beyond that, there’s some pretty awesome perks you can get as a patron, including bonus podcasts, bonus blog posts, and bonus signed images.

Finally, a huge thank you is owed to Mike Lampasone for serving as my question deliverer on this quarter’s podcast. Mike is one of my co-hosts on We Were (Kind of) a Big Deal in College. Check out our latest episode on your favorite podcast player of choice (Apple Podcasts here, as that’s what I use).

A Slight Bend in the Road

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posts about nothing to have a post about something. A novel concept isn’t it? And no, this isn’t a work in progress update. I’ll likely have my next one of those sometime in November10That’s my hope at least. We’ll see if that happens..

Over the past few months, I’ve intermittently lamented on Twitter how things aren’t exactly taking off for me. It’s a phenomenon I’ve faced before with my first book, as well as one I’m facing now both with my Patreon, as well as the editing services I offer. It’s frustrating to say the least. I feel like I promote the work I do pretty frequently on the limited social media I have. It’s to the point where I feel like I’m doing self-promotion too frequently, which has to be annoying as all hell to those who follow me.

So I took to Twitter looking for advice. How could I better use my blog to show off what I do? I’m wasn’t necessarily looking to make drastic changes before receiving advice, though I wasn’t opposed to the idea if it made sense at the time. My main goal, however, was to find out if people I interact with — be they other bloggers, readers of this blog, writers, or just people who give me good advice — thought making drastic changes to push my freelancing/Patreon work made sense with my blog.

I was fortunate enough to receive some great feedback from this request. Leading this off (as well as spawning quite a bit of additional feedback from others) was a few tweets from David Carlson of Young Adult Money. I’ve watched David grow his side projects significantly in the time I’ve followed him and his blog, so if anyone has advice on this from personal experience, it’d be him.

If all I’m looking to do with my site is freelancing, I think what David is saying makes a lot of sense. I need a portfolio of works that I can clearly show on my site to highlight the work I’ve done. While I’m building a portfolio currently, aside from the resume writing I’ve done, I don’t have a particularly long portfolio at this point. Even beyond that, a couple of the projects I have worked on have been writers who are writing under pen names, meaning that they’ve also hesitant to tie testimonials to their work11While this hasn’t always been my experience with authors writing semi-anonymously, I have found it’s more frequent than not.. So, what other ideas would potentially help spread the word about what I do? Dem and Charles provided some insight that had crossed my mind, but that I didn’t think about too much.

Human interaction. Cool. I can do that. I already do it in a lot of cases. I make an effort to personally reply to every person who leaves a comment on my blog12Except for that one guy who left comments on my Fire Emblem posts in Portuguese. The extent of my knowledge of Portuguese was a few words I learned to flirt with a girl from Sao Paulo in one of my college classes. I don’t think that’ll help.. I do my best to interact with people I know who read my blog, be that on Twitter, by sharing their content, or by being a consumer of their work myself. I feel like I do this a good bit now.

With that said, I also feel like this runs the risk of becoming super annoying, as I mentioned earlier in the post. It can feel disingenuous to constantly be trying to promote your work. I did that very early on with my college radio show on my Facebook, only to get feedback from quite a few people that I was talking about my show way too much. I’m not sure if that stuck with me more than it should of or if I really was that annoying13And since my Facebook is long deleted, I have no way of checking., however I do worry about being that annoying guy on social media who doesn’t shut up about the work I do.

One of my regular reads, Todd, shared this sentiment in his feedback.

I do get a lot of traffic to the regular blog content I write. I reached my entire 2017 blog traffic volume before mid-August of this year. The past four months have been four of the five best months my blog has ever had traffic wise (though comments are lagging recently). And in order to get eyes on my site, I need traffic. So I do think keeping the blog itself is great, both short and long term. Plus there’s always the idea that Victoria presented about trying to keep the current blog format and just better highlight my technical knowledge, either on the blog or in stories I write.

With all that feedback in mind, I’ve decided to make some modest changes to my site in order to better emphasize the work I do, along with keeping my blog active. You might have noticed the new home page14This went up September 15 for those wondering. Thanks to Stephanie, Tabitha, and my wife for their feedback on the layout. when you came here. This page now features a slider with some of my commonly accessed content, as well as a quick link to my freelancing work. Just below that, you’ll find other links, which include my Patreon and more info about the other media I have (including my book). I’ve also added testimonials to the home page (which is still being worked on as we speak).

While much of what I mentioned above is still being built out or is a work in progress in some capacity, I have transitioned the site to a new color scheme. While I’m not 100% sure exactly how I want the color scheme to fully be used on the site yet — especially with the slider — I did decide that it was time to go away from my previous scheme. Keeping the charcoal gray and Volunteer orange theme was something I seriously considered, as I do love that color pairing. That said, you’ll start to see some greens, teals, and beige/golds on the site in the near future. A new logo is coming soon too, as I really haven’t had a good one of those to speak of15This is because I’m garbage at Photoshop/Canva..

Although this is still a work in progress, I do very much feel like I’ve taken some steps in the right direction. I appreciate the feedback everyone gave to me as part of my desperate search for inspiration. If you have additional feedback about my quandary as to how to market my work better, or you just want to talk about the site redesign, feel free to throw some of your thoughts in the comments.

Travel for Travel’s Sake

Over the past decade or so, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel a good bit for work at various jobs. I’ve gone on work trips with three of my last four employers, including trips to Manila, San Diego, Boston, Chicago, and other locations. I’ve written about a handful of those trips, including a recent venture to the city with the worst food on the planet.

One of the few places I haven’t had the chance to visit — either directly or via an airplane layover — was the state of New York. I’ve technically been there via a short layover in LaGuardia during undergrad, however I haven’t set foot in the actual state for any reason. So I went to the place that everyone thinks of when they think of the state of New York. Buffalo.

The thing about travelling that I’ve noticed16And I’m certain I’m not the only person to think this way. is that the more I like the food available in the city I’m in, the more likely I am to like the city itself. There are some exceptions to the rule, as there are cities with really good food that I’m not a particular fan of (Pittsburgh, Cleveland), as well as cities I love with food that isn’t so great (Santander, Spain comes to mind). Regardless of my thoughts on each individual city, the act of travelling is pretty great.

Prior to the age of 18, I had never been out of a one state radius of Ohio. Even then, nearly all of my trips out of state were to visit family that lived in the southeastern part of Kentucky. It wasn’t until college when I got to travel by myself for the first time that I truly understood the appeal to travel. Yeah, airports and planning can be hectic. And yes, if you pack your travel schedule too tightly with too many activities, travelling can be a draining experience. But the idea of exploring somewhere new for the first time is exciting.

That’s not to say I go into my travel blind. I’m the type of person that looks at maps17Be that Google Maps now or paper maps in my childhood and early adulthood. Even though I wasn’t travelling as a child, I still loved looking at maps. in excruciating detail prior to going on any planned trip. I love to know the layout of the city I’m travelling to. In many cases, I want to know where the history of the city is. That way, if time and funds allow me to, I can see that historical place for myself. And while some cities have more interesting places to visit than others18Every cathedral in Spain was the same thing. I know they’re all different. But I wanted to pull my hair out after hearing about how yet another church was built by rich people to honor some saint I didn’t care about., there’s still an appeal to it all, regardless of exactly what the location is.

In an ideal situation, there’s lots of places I’d love to visit. I might even write a post about those locations at some point in the nearish future. But until then, I’m going to be happy that I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a good bit for various jobs. This travel has allowed me to see interesting places (and also Tampa), eat tasty food, and get to experience locations I don’t believe I otherwise would have had the chance to see for myself.

Oh…and if you’re in Buffalo, get a pizza pod. They’re really good.