Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Jersey Public TV Will Now Broadcast from Tokyo and Feature Frequent David Bowie Appearances?


He doesn't know where he's 
going from here, but he promises 
it won't be boring.
"Thanks, New Jersey."

That was NJN Senior Political Correspondent Michael Aron's sign off last night as he reported live from the State House after a senate measure to stop the transfer of NJN to WNET failed in a 20-19 vote.

Beginning Friday, July 1, NJN will be replaced by NJTV, the new public television network for the state of New Jersey operated by WNET Channel 13 in New York. I'm definitely going to miss NJN. I've truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the staff there. It has, without a doubt, been one of the best experiences I've had as a freelancer and of my career in general. 

I'll spare you a lengthy recap of this saga since it's been covered in great detail elsewhere. Instead I'll do that lazy blogger thing where I just link to other articles. Here's some tweets:

I'm eager to see where public broadcasting in NJ goes from here. I'm especially anxious to find out where you'll be able to watch Classroom Close-up, NJ this fall. The series had been a co-production between New Jersey Network and the New Jersey Education Association.

I'm also hoping that NJTV will surprise its critics and put up a good showing for public television in the Garden State (as I suspect they will). In my eagerness to know more, I did a little Googling last night to see if I could turn up any new info about NJTV. This is what turned up when I searched for "NJTV" on YouTube:

I'm absolutely certain that video has anything to do with New Jersey or public television. If anyone knows what the heck that was, please tell me.

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Story About the Healthcare System, Family, Art, and Patient Rights [Video]

Regina Holliday
Regina Holliday tells her story at e-Patient Connections 2010.
I just started working on a promo video for e-Patient Connections 2011. This year, my goal is to get some live streaming coming out of the conference so that people who aren't able to attend will be able to see some of these incredible presentations as they're happening. I'd love to write a post that tries to explain empowered patients and participatory medicine in more detail, but my friends over at Krū Research can do that better than I ever could in their blog, The Patient Will See You Know.

This is the video that they released today, Regina Holliday: The Worst Pain Imaginable. It was one of the most memorable presentations from last year's conference, maybe the most memorable. In the presentation, Regina relates her experiences with the healthcare system during her late husband's illness, the effect it had on her family, including her autistic son, and how she became an advocate for patient rights.

For those of you not familiar with Regina and her story, here's a bit from her own blog:
Regina Holliday is a DC-based patient rights arts advocate. She is currently at work on a series of paintings and blog posts depicting the need for clarity and transparency in medical records. After the death of her husband, Fred Holliday II, on June 17th 2009, She began a large Mural Titled “73 cents.” This piece can be viewed at 5001 Connecticut Ave. Washington, DC 20008. This piece depicts Holliday family’s nightmare journey through the medical system during Fred’s cancer care. The painting became part of the national healthcare debate and was covered by the BBC, CNN, CBS, AOL, VOA, NPR, The Washington Post and the BMJ.
The video is 15 minutes long, but absolutely worth your time. You will be moved by Regina's story.

The gamut of things covered at this conference is pretty amazing. One minute you might be watching a panel discussion on FDA regulatory procedure pertaining to social media. Next it might be a race car driver talking about Twitter, a demonstration of a gadget that helps you sleep better, a cautionary rhyme about new age medicine, or an incredibly moving personal story like this one.

Learn more about the voice of the patient by following Regina Holliday's Medical Advocacy Blog. If you're interested in all things e-Patient and health 2.0, be sure to follow Kru Research's blog, The Patient Will See You Now. And while you're here, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rebecca Black is Better Than a Slushy in the Face! [VIDEO]

I couldn't wait till Friday to share this.
I've mentioned before how much I love getting e-mails from teachers with follow-ups to the stories we cover on Classroom Close-up, NJ. Today I got one of those e-mails from music teacher Carl Botti at Frank R. Conwell Middle School #4 in Jersey City. You might remember Carl from my post, I Didn’t Get a Slushy in the Face, but I Did Hear a Great Band, about the story we taped with his students.

Here's the note he sent me:
Hi Adam,

If you get a minute please check out the band's recent performance on VH1 "Big Morning Buzz". Is it something for your blog? A followup? NJN show helped us get the gig!

Carl Botti
Music Teacher MS4
Jersey City
You bet it is! So without further ado, here's the KYBD Band's VH1 debut with their cover of Rebecca Black's "Friday".

How freakin' awesome is that!

Really happy for these students and thrilled to hear that our story helped them land this sweet gig. Way to go gang!

And just in case you missed it, here's the KYBD Band story from this season:

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Tale of Three Salespeople, the BEST Way to Not Make a Sale

The recently deceased.
A couple of months ago I related the tale of how the Bausers decided to defy national statistics and become a single-car family. Right before Memorial Day we took it a step farther and became a no-car family.

Not by choice.

For the second time in less than a month, Lauren turned the ignition on the station wagon only to be met with the coolant warning light. Bone dry. A quick top off and a trip to the local Pep Boys confirmed the worst. Leaky head gasket. Coolant in the oil. Bad stuff. The mechanic recommended that the only place our car should be driven was to its final resting place. He felt so bad for us that he didn't even charge us for the diagnostic or the coolant to get the car out of his lot.

Now, I'm not one to quickly put vehicles out to pasture. In my opinion, a thousand dollars of annual maintenance is still a lot cheaper than owning a new car and having one of those pesky car loans. This time however, it was only May, and I'd already exceeded my usual budget for auto repairs. I know a head gasket isn't cheap to fix, and I knew that the job was beyond my abilities. Replacement was the only logical option. Fortunately, we had our Zipcars and good friends to help us get around for a few days while we shopped for a new car.

Did I mention I hate car shopping? To make it worse, I hadn't purchased a non-Volkswagen in more than two decades, so I had no idea where to begin. A quick consultation with my Facebook friends and a lot of time spent on Cars.com had me settled me on buying a used Kia Rondo because A) Kias don't cost a fortune, B) Rondos aren't super big and are thus easier to street park, and C) The kids really wanted a car with three rows of seats so their Nana and PopPop could ride with us when they visit.

Three web-inquiries later and my phone was soon ringing off the hook with calls from eager salespeople who wanted to sell me cars. I made two appointments:
There was also a third salesperson from an actual Kia dealership, Mike. We spoke on the the phone and via email several times before deciding the price of his used Rondo was too high for me (plus it only had two rows of seats).

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of the sale, not even the part where the salesperson told me the story about her mom cutting off her finger in the sliding door of their minivan when she was a child (Mazda 5's have sliding doors, Rondos don't). I don't like to mess around when I shop. It was the car we wanted at the price we wanted. I bought the Rondo.

The new BauserMobile.
If you've ever bought a car from a dealer. You know it takes a long time to fill out paperwork. I walked into that dealer at 9AM and didn't leave with the new car until about 2PM. This included two test drives, a trip to the bank to get the cash for the down payment, and a trip to pick up Lauren from work so she could sign over the title on the wagon. Needless to say, I didn't make make it to the other appointment and I was too busy filling out papers to call and cancel it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can't stand being late or missing an appointment, so please understand that I don't take them lightly. Here's what happened next. 

First, the salesperson we bought the car from, Sheena, does all the right things to close the deal and up-sells us a warranty (I was planning to get one anyway). We drive off happy with our decision. 

Second, at about 2:30PM, I get a call from the salesperson (who I won't name) with the Mazda 5. The one I made an appointment with and didn't show up for. I apologize profusely and tell him that I had just purchased a car, a Kia Rondo, so I wasn't going to come look at the Mazda. Remember, this is the dealership where we'd bought the Passat and been fairly loyal service customers for nearly eight years. This salesperson's exact words to me were:

"Pfft. Whatever. Good luck with that, dude." (click)

Sheena even threw in
a free key chain
Did that just happen? Did this guy just bury a longstanding customer relationship in about five seconds? You know, I might need another car someday. I know I missed my appointment, but how many times did you not have a loaner car for me when my car was in your shop? How much time did I spend in your waiting area in the last decade? 

So, who's the best salesperson in this story? 

Sheena? She sold us a car. She wins, right? She even had that awesome severed finger story. Who cares if it was true or not?

Nope, it's Mike. The third salesperson who I never even made an appointment with.

I get an email from Mike that afternoon saying he'd still love to show me the Rondo he's got on the lot. I write him back a quick note saying we already bought one. I tell him it was the third row of seats that made the decision for us. Here's what he writes back to me:
Dear Adam,
Congratulations.... unfortunately we cannot earn every sale in this highly competitive market, however As a proud new owner of your recently purchased vehicle, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to our service department. We offer services ranging from routine maintenance to the unexpected repairs.
Always striving to be the best, you will be treated as one of the family. We realize that being without transportation can be very inconvenient, so we offer a shuttle service to take you where ever you need to go within a reasonable distance.
If you would like, you can take advantage of our "Early Bird Drop Off". You can pull your vehicle onto our lot the night before, fill out an "Early Bird Drop Off' note, and drop the note in our drop box. Please be sure to read our specific "Early Bird Drop Off" instructions here at Coleman Auto Group or on our website.
We have a very high commitment to service here at our dealership, so we are asking you to keep us in mind for your future service need.
Thank you and have a great day!
Now, I realize that's a form letter, but I still think it's awesome. This dealer's sales department is smart enough to realize that:

  • This guy just bought a used Kia. 
  • All cars need service at some point. This guy's used Kia will need service someday.
  • We've got a Kia dealership that specializes in servicing Kias and it's close to where this guy lives.
  • This guy really seems to like Kias. Maybe he will want to buy another one in the future. Maybe he will buy it from us.

That's a way better way to not make a sale than, "Whatever, dude."

Monday, June 6, 2011

The End of the Season, the End of NJN, and the Things I Learned

She probably didn't realize it, but
I learned a lot from this interview.
The 2011 season finale of Classroom Close-up, NJ airs tonight on NJN at 7pm and it's likely the last time a new episode of the show will air on a network with that name. The Governor announced today that the network will be taken over by WNET out of New York beginning July 1 and rebranded NJTV (pending legislative approval). Contrary to earlier rumors, nightly news will still be a part of the new network, though not the existing NJN News. Whether or not Classroom Close-up, NJ will air on the new NJTV is still unknown.

Unfortunately, I don't have an embed code for tonight's episode, but you should be able to watch it here

Since I don't have a video to share with you, I thought I'd do my own personal season recap and share one thing I learned on each of the stories I produced. (Note that I didn't start producing regularly for the show until towards the end of the season, thus I won't have a tidbit for every episode that aired. Also, this is going to be a long post, which means it will likely be riddled with typos that I'm certain my editor/wife will find for me.)

What I Learned While Making "Robotics" for Show #1
That robots are freakin' cool, duh. No really, I learned about FIRST and the robot competition mania that has infected so many students. I like to kid myself and think that Soledad O'Brien got the idea to feature FIRST in her new documentary from the multiple times we've featured them on the show.

What I Learned While Making "iPals" for Show #4
Kids in Iowa get to ride horses and drive tractors way more than kids in New Jersey. Every kid in in the Garden State would probably love to be a member of the Two County Dusters.

What I Learned While Making "Envirothon" for Show #7
Holy cow is there a lot of pollen in New Jersey in May! It was so thick while we were shooting that we had to keep wiping it off the camera lens, not to mention out of our eyes. Normally I'm pretty immune to this sort of stuff, but even I was choking on this shoot. Despite the pollen, it's still my personal favorite story of the past season and I was reminded that it's not about whether you win or lose, it's about how you play the game.

What I Learned While Making "Odyssey of the Mind" for Show #9
Again, another competition that I was totally clueless about. The creativity and confidence of these kids is amazing. I think I would have loved OTM when I was a student. I also learned that Michael Jackson apparently had a really large clock.

What I Learned While Making "Mentoring and Creativity" for Show #12

It's hard to summarize how much I learned from Sir Ken Robinson and Soledad O'Brien. I don't think I've ever been as nervous for a set of interviews as I was about meeting these individuals. After spending two days at the NJEA convention, reading books by both of these authors, and getting to ask them questions, I left Atlantic City with an entirely new perspective on education and journalism that's impacted just about everything I've worked on since. I also learned that it is possible to take the train from Princeton to Atlantic City if you're willing to make enough connections.

What I Learned While Making KYBD Band for Show #15
That KYBD stands for "Keyboard", that music sounds way better in person than in home movies on YouTube, that Marty O'Kane watches Glee, and who Colbie Caillet is.

What I Learned While Making "Gami TV" for Show #16
Other than the fact that Absegami has a kick ass media program full of great teachers and students? I think this story reinforced something I try to share with students I meet who are interested in media and communications careers: That pushing buttons and playing with gadgets is a just fun perk of working in media, the real job is about being organized, having confidence, and telling stories.

What I Learned While Making "S.A.I.L" for Show #17
Another big eye opener for me this season. I learned just how vast the special education services offered by public schools are and that most people don't even realize it. This is the kind of story that I think turns people into warriors for public education funding.

What I Learned While Making "Literature Links" for Show #18
I learned how to read again. Before I covered this story, I was mostly just sitting there listening to my child read, and correcting her pronunciation. Going into this story, I thought it was going to be this simple little tale about a parent book club. Little did I know how much it would affect me and that it would touch so many people.

What I Learned While Making "Get On the Wall" for Show #19
Ok, I confess, I'm an art dummy. I had to research the titles of those paintings in the Picassso Girl mural (other than The Starry Night, I do watch Dr. Who after all), so that's the main thing I learned. And something about some kind of painting technique using q tips, what was that called again? I'm going have to go back to the tape for that one.

What I Learned While Making "Teaching Every Child" for Show #20
That clip shows are still hard to make. And that New Jersey has great public schools. Of course, I already knew that.

Till next season...

(Ugh, I just realized how many links to NJN.net are in this post. I'm probably going to have to update all of those after July 1)

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.