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  • Meeting the Cookie Monster Shaped my Career Path

    Cookie Monster Loves cookies!!!!!!!In 1982, I met the Cookie Monster.  Well…maybe not THE Cookie Monster – most likely just someone officially sanctioned to dress up in the Cookie Monster suit. But I digress. Meeting the Cookie Monster ended up playing a significant role in my professional life.

    I was 7 years old, and my mom heard about a radio contest to win tickets for Sesame Street Live. Sure, I had already pretty much outgrown the show, but my mom insisted I enter. I guess she  knew how much I loved the series even a year beforehand. “Meh, whatever,” I must have said to myself…and so I entered. The rules stated that I had to write “why I wanted to go see Sesame Street Live” on a postcard and send it into the station. I didn’t know what to say, so I said “I want to go see Sesame Street Live because it’s one of my favorite shows.” A blatant lie, as I already mentioned – I had outgrown the show and cared more about Saturday morning cartoons. I kind of wonder what my mom were to say if she were alive today to read this. Such a big moment in my young life was about appeasing her – about going with the flow and not really caring if I won! Eh, she’d probably laugh. Maybe she’d  insist that I was still very much into the show. She’d probably say I was remembering wrong. Granted, that wasn’t the only lie involved in entering this contest. She transcribed my words to the postcard and later admitted to writing a few letters backwards. When I found this fact out, I laughed, but I was secretly offended as I never wrote letters backwards to my recollection. I knew my alphabet forwards, even at that age, thank you very much!

    What was probably a few weeks passed, and  found out that I, along with five or so other kids, won tickets. The radio station wanted me to read my postcard over the air on the radio, so one Saturday morning we trekked down to their studio. They sat me  in an early 80s DJ booth, and read my words into the microphone (somewhere, I still have a recording of this). Afterwards, we were ushered downstairs into what seemed like a gigantic room with huge couches. There we waited for what seemed like forever. The other contest winners were also there, and there were refreshments – meats, cheeses. Probably cookies – after all, we were about to meet Cookie Monster! Mostly though, I was kind of bored.

    Finally, I see a big, blue, carpeted muppet entering the room. Some of the other kids thought he was real. I knew better – he was just someone in a costume. Regardless….I thought it was cool. He didn’t say anything –  confirming that it wasn’t Frank Oz. A legit Frank Oz would have said “Me want cookies” or something like that. I felt kind of shy, but I did hug him, and my mom got a really cute picture of me and him embracing. He didn’t stay too long – did his rounds with all the kids, waved bye, and left.

    After the meet and greet, we were given a tour of the radio station – and that’s where I saw the most fascinating room of my young life. It was full of knobs, and levers, and buttons. I swear, one of the tech people said that one of the machines was for dispensing meat and cheese. Certainly a joke, but I saw him pulling a piece of salami from a slot. I would love to tell said tech how much his joke influenced my life. To this day, whenever I’ve walked into a strange control room, I wonder if they have the mysterious meat and cheese machine. But back to the story…what I can only assume was master control fascinated me on a level I had never experienced before.

    Master control from a radio station.
    I bet that machine on the bottom is the meat machine!

     

    Ever since that day, if you asked my inner, deeper self what I would do as an a adult, I probably would have said working in some control room somewhere. Sure, if you had asked surface me, I would have said something else. As a kid, I wanted to be “a doctor In Hawaii.” In high school, I wanted to be a youth pastor. Even now, I’m still trying to make my college dream of being a professional writer come true! Despite all those dreams and ambitions, something deep inside of me told me that I would be working in a control room. And If I hadn’t entered that contest, and then met Cookie Monster, I would have not gone on that tour. The fascinating room would not serve as a basis to my aspirations.

    To be fair – I really don’t work in a control room anymore. I did when I got my first job in television, I was a master control operator. My career has progressed from that point onwards. Even though I now work in an office behind a desk and with a computer, it is essentially still a control room. Sure, all the noisy machines and buttons and levers are in the room next door, where I no longer need to go – but I still control a good portion of those machines. I still give those machines input, and watch their output. It’s just that those inputs and outputs are, like most things, done via a computer instead of levers and buttons and knobs. So I still stand behind my statement! I always knew I would work in some control room somewhere and here I am.

    Of course, the Cookie Monster may have been one of the reasons I work in a “control room somewhere,” but it’s not the only reason. I was also greatly inspired by my dad, who ran the sound at my church every single Sunday. I’m sure sitting behind the sound council with all those knobs and buttons and sliders made me think “This is what I’ll be doing one day.” That’s actually how I got into television. I volunteered to do sound myself at one church, knowing that I could pick it up pretty quickly.  A couple family friends who happened to work together at a TV station knew I had some skills in “control room work,” and got me onboard. 18 years later, and here I am. Sorry Cookie Monster. You did have a little help in your attempts to shape my career.

    If there’s a moral to this story, it’s just this: Don’t be afraid to let your kids take chances at stupid things – even if they’re just a tad bit too old for said things. The memories I have of that experience are something I’ll always have with me, sure. But the seeds that experience planted shaped me in a deep way and continues to do so, some 35 years later. I’m not saying their experiences will lay out their career path – but maybe it will.  At the very least, it will teach them to take chances. And if you happen to scribe their letters backwards, well…they’ll forgive you.


  • Breaking Up with Godaddy.

    I’ve spent most of today doing something I should have done a long time ago….I’m breaking up with GoDaddy. I’ve had my domains and hosting with them for over ten years (maybe even closer to fifteen). The aaronjedwards.com website literally launched and grew into its current form using GoDaddy’s servers. So why would I kick GoDaddy to the curb? Well, let me tell you!!!!
    The very first reason…a few years back, I found out their CEO hunted elephants. This bothered me enough that I thought “it’s time to change.” I, however, didn’t make the change at that point. I was much too busy to really look into what needed to be done. It’s a pain for sure. So….GoDaddy continued to get my money, month after month for hosting, year after year for domains. They treated me ok, sometimes gave me annoying sales calls, but whatever. As much as I want to stand against the slaughter of elephants, I guess I just had better things to do. The rumor mill is that they’re going to replace their CEO anyways – with a guy who only slaughters puppies…..(sarcasm).
    The second reason emerged about a year ago. I get a notice telling me that some of my files had been infected with malware and I needed to deal with it. Ok….great. I really didn’t know exactly what to do on this front, so I procrastinated. A few days later I get a call from one of their customer service (or lack thereof) reps. The dude was insanely rude, acting like I had done this on purpose. He said it caused their entire system to slow down. Yeah….my dinky little website, which traffic logs state barely had any visits at that point, really did sooooo much damage! I’m totally sure! I eventually just deleted the files they said were problem files…..I really didn’t know what else to do. It caused some minor damage to my website, but nothing that I couldn’t fix with a few Google searches.
    At this point, I decided I needed some extra security, so I looked at a few different highly recommended plugins for WordPress. I installed a few, and got a message saying “ PHP v5.3.24 is not supported….upgrade to PHPv5.4 or higher.” OK, simple enough, or so I thought. Yeah….GoDaddy wouldn’t give me that version of PHP. As a special go (bleep) yourself to those of us who had been using my particular hosting program, GoDaddy would not be giving us anything new and shiny like that. Thanks so much – signed, your loyal customers.
    Regardless, I thought I had my security under control. I thought…..yeah. In September 2017, I got another email from GoDaddy telling me I had more malware. This time I researched what to do and found they have a rollback feature. Wow, this was great….I just selected a restore point and voila! Website fixed and no new calls from GoDaddy! Wooohoo, I knew what to do if this happened again!
    And it did happen again. December 2017. Right after my mom’s funeral – talk about timing, sigh. Ok….so this will take ten minutes, or so I thought. I log in…..and hey! They decided to change my website’s IP address! Guess what I lost in that process? All. My. Restore Points. Maybe if you tried to visit my website during that period of time, you’ll recall an unfriendly error message. It was a constant thorn in my side for over a month, as I couldn’t figure out what exactly to do and really didn’t have the time or energy to figure out a fix. Oh, and my files were still supposedly infected on top of that!
    It turns out that these types of things are prone to happen to bigger shared hosting companies like GoDaddy. I’m not sure of the specifics, but it happens….I guess.? This is actually why they changed what server I was on. Some of my server mates were less than reputable people. But back to that….in doing so, a firewall plugin I had for WordPress was not updated to reflect the new IP address, and thus gave everyone that wonderful error message! For a month! While I googled solution after solution only to get more and more frustrated. Yeah…..ugh. Some of the suggestions I found were to call GoDaddy and tell them what was going on – basically tell them to fix it. Yeah…..when I called, I was once again treated rudely. They told me to go fix it myself – and by fix it myself, they – their attitude implied I do another thing to myself beginning in the letter F. Even though they caused the error….and gave me no warning. Just……ooops! Sorry! Ugh.
    When I found the solution, quite simple. Still, this whole ordeal motivated me to finally end this abusive relationship once and for all. I found the time and that’s all I did that day. And oy what a process it was. For a week after, I wasn’t sure if my website was running on the new host or the old, but I do know when I went to transfer my domain name, GoDaddy was like, 20 percent off if you stay!!!!! I laughed so hard. Yeah….no…..nothing was, will, and would ever keep me from leaving you. GoDaddy….go…..away. I’ve got a new hosting service now, and it’s not you.
    To be fair, I know some of my issues had to do with my level of expertise. I’m a novice on websites, and really only know enough to keep my head above water. But maybe if GoDaddy had been less cold and unforgiving…and maybe if they hadn’t yelled at me over the phone, I might not have had to take the time and perhaps I could have done something fun instead. I’m still wondering if I made a big mistake, sure….but I’ve come too far to turn back now. I’ve given the new hosting service (A2Hosting) my money, and they’ve transfered my domain name. Yeah, some of my stuff still exists on GoDaddy’s servers, but that’s going to change soon – I’m hitting the cancel button this week! The transfer did make my website go down once more – but what a way to learn about MySQL databases!
    One more thing – to the CEO of GoDaddy, if you ever read this…killing Elephants is something only small cowardly, boys do. You should be ashamed of yourself.


  • I hate it when that happens!

    So, some of you may have seen a half written article about video games. This was nothing more than a draft, and was never meant to be seen in it’s current state. It’s got bad grammar, missing points, and needs a ton of editing.

    So what happened? Well, a month or so ago, I started writing it, and instead of save draft, I hit publish. So….being the optimist that I am, I unpublished it by putting a publishing date, thinking I would have this story finished by the time it went live. And then I forgot I started writing this! Yep!

    So….maybe my next post will be a bit more polished. Until then, here’s a picture of a cute Cheetah:

    Isn't he cute?

    Awwww, hey there guy! You want to play? I think you do! Can I take you home?