It’s been one crazy day

Storm of the Decade
Last night, Bemidji got crushed with the worst thunderstorm I have seen in the 11 years I have lived up here. It was intense even by Kansas standards, which have barely been approached in the decade I’ve lived here. It had everything – the ominous green sky, rolling thunder that continued uninterrupted for around 30 minutes and was enough to keep the house constantly vibrating, lightning that tore through the entire sky, 80-mile-per-hour straight-line winds, and torrential rain. In short, it was awesome.

Mostly, it was awesome because we escaped basically unscathed. We had some decent-sized branches down in the yard, but nothing that was too big to just pick up and drag to a pile, and the only tree we lost is in the very back of our yard and fell over into a brush pile anyway — so honestly we may not even mess with it for awhile. And we lost power around 7:30, but had it back by about 3 a.m. this morning. Some people are still without power, now about 25 hours after the storm started. We got incredibly lucky. There are thousands of trees down in town, reports of more than 100 downed power lines, and the police had a curfew from 11 a.m. until 6 a.m. (and apparently arrested a huge number of kids who were out trying to loot — which is great. I have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who chooses to take advantage of a disaster situation to steal from people).

I did some work covering the storm for Bemidji State’s social media outlets, and overall I think we did a pretty good job with that. Coincidentally, we had just last week talked as a staff about how we might approach a situation like this after discussing how schools in Duluth reacted (or didn’t react) to the massive floods that wrecked that city a couple of weeks ago. So we already had in our heads an idea of what we’d try to do. I won’t go into much detail about what we did; I’m working on a timeline for how we covered the story over on Storify, and that pretty much sums up how the day went.

In short, social media proved its worth in this situation. We reacted quickly, had pictures of damage on campus out to people who were curious to know how the storm impacted the university within maybe two hours after the storm ended, and were continually updating with new photos and new information throughout the morning. There are things I wish we’d have done differently, but they were mostly minor things regarding timing of some of the information we posted. But, especially when you consider that we were running the immediate reaction type information regarding the storm with power out in the entire city, meaning we were limited by the life of our cell phone batteries, I think we did a really good job covering this event for the campus.

Work on home office/studio space
I finally took some time on Sunday afternoon to spend about two hours in my upstairs office at home and get it back into a condition that’s fit for human habitation. It was a mess before, to the point that it was very difficult to be in there to do anything. I bought a drafting table last year out of some guy’s garage for $50, and this weekend was the first time it’d ever been set up anywhere in my house. Everything is set up now, and I’ve got two really nice surfaces to draw on now; it’s a pretty solid studio space. I still have some work to do on lighting in there — it’s horrible — but in terms of how the furniture is arranged things are as good as they’re going to get until I get my ancient PowerMac G5 out of there.

G.I. Joe Retaliation at Retail
Thanks to Apple’s new Podcasts app, out just a few days ago on June 26, I finally have taken the plunge and started listening to podcasts. Podcasting is one of those things that I really could not tell you why it’s taken me so long to get into. It’s one of those things that seems like it should be right in my wheelhouse, and the subject matter of a vast majority of podcasts are things I’m into — computers and nerd stuff. But, the delay is over, and I’m now subscribed to a whole bunch of stuff.

One of the things I started listening to is a G.I. Joe-related podcast put out by a bunch of guys I follow on Twitter called “What’s On Joe Mind?” They did a couple of wrapup shows for the annual JoeCon collector’s convention, which was in New Orleans over the weekend. One of the wrapups featured a group of designers from Hasbro, who were talking about the direction they’re taking the toy line, providing some more insight into some of the things they had on display at the convention, etc.

The discussion turned to the toys for the G.I. Joe Retaliation movie — which was supposed to come out on Friday the 29th, but just a few weeks ago was pushed back to March 2013. The first wave of toys to support the movie was scheduled to come out just a couple of days after the announcement was made to push the movie back, so there was a lot of speculation about the toys being recalled, etc. But the first wave of toys did make it out with a full retail release, and one of the Hasbro reps, when asked how it was selling, said something along the lines of the toys “doing very well at retail” and that Hasbro hopes to use that success as a springboard for further retailer traction when they “re-release Wave 1 in the spring” when the line ramps up to again support the release of the movie.

Re-releasing Wave 1 is a move that seems like it could backfire. The big fear with movie-related toys is that retailers go all in right away, and end up ordering more of the early waves than they can sell. That leaves shelf space full of old figures, which leaves them no room to put out new releases, which makes the new releases difficult to find (the toys for the first G.I. Joe movie were a textbook example of this; retailers massively over-ordered waves 1 and 2, and the subsequent figures became challenging to track down). Hasbro has a situation where Wave 1 has already been at retail, and as it is by their own admission selling well, putting that same product out a second time is taking a pretty big chance that next spring there will still be people who want to buy those toys who haven’t already purchased them.

Hasbro has a lot of great product in the pipeline for 2013, and hopefully sales of the early Retaliation stuff will justify them putting in the effort to get it to market

Grad School
My second summer school course is underway. I’ve got a forum discussion to participate in this week already, and I probably need to get my work on that done tonight to the extent that I can with tomorrow being the 4th. No word yet on grades for the course that wrapped up last week. I think I did well enough in that; I’d like to think that I’ll get an A and keep my 4.0 going, but we will see. There were no grades posted during the course as updates for individual assignments, so everything will be posted all at once. Not having feedback on the progress of my grade during the class is the source of all of my anxiety about this class, I’m sure, since the only thing I’ll see will be the final grade.

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