Snow Day Reflections on Elevator Pitches

I got up early this morning, partly because I knew I wanted to shovel the snowdrifts from last night, and partly because I heard my neighbor’s snowblower, shortly after 5:00 a.m.

I don’t have a snowblower. I’d rather shovel. It was the wet, heavy stuff. It was still coming down when I charged outside without breakfast, not even coffee.

While I was slogging away at the snow, I kept thinking about how to update my YouTube trailer. It’s been about a couple of years since I made the last trailer. I’m evolving since my retirement from the hospital where I worked as a consulting psychiatrist. I guess it’s time to update my About page on this blog as well.

The further I get in time away from work, the more I wonder what I’m evolving into. Work is not my focus. Sena and I got a big kick out of doing the Iowa cribbage board video. It brought back memories of our travels in Iowa.

I noticed my YouTube trailer is long by usual standards. It’s about 2 minutes. I found instructions for making it on YouTube. It’s supposed to be no longer than 30-45 seconds. Technically it’s supposed to be sort of like an elevator pitch.

I tried to develop elevator pitches back when I was working. There’s all kind of guidance for them on the web.

The framework is designed for those who are job seekers and students and salesmen. I tried googling “elevator pitches for retirees” and didn’t get any real hits.

I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m not competing for a job. The basic format for an elevator pitch could include:

  • Who are you?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What’s your proposed solution?
  • What’s the benefit of your solution?

I guess the answer to the first one is that I’m a retired psychiatric consultant. I’m not sure who in his right mind would be interested in that. If I shorten it to just “retiree,” that doesn’t seem to gain much traction.

The second one is even harder. Frankly, the problem I’m trying to solve is deeply personal although arguably could be applied to any retiree. I’ve been trying to adjust to no longer having a professional identity. I know George Dawson, MD remarked that he had little trouble with the meaningfulness issues with which one could wrestle after retiring from one’s profession, some after several decades of work.

I’m actually still wrestling with it and I would say it’s normal, at least for me. The loss of my professional identity was a real struggle for at least a year after my last day of work on June 30, 2020. I often failed to cover it up with a sense of humor, although I never fully lost that trait.

I don’t have a solution, and therefore can’t propose one. I have discovered other interests, which have gradually overtaken the one which kept my mind on the hospital most of the time, even when I was not at the hospital. I know I never really seriously considered the solution of going back to work in my former role. Some of my colleagues did, though. I hope they were happier when they did.

Since I don’t have a solution to the problem of adapting to retirement, I can’t really talk about the benefit. On the other hand, I notice I’m changing very slowly from being the firefighter psychiatric consultant to whatever I am now.

I think mindfulness meditation has been helpful, which I started in 2014 mainly as a way to cope with burnout. I was in a class with several others who had various reasons for being in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class at the hospital. The class is no longer given there, and my teacher, Bev Klug, retired. However, resources for it are available elsewhere on the University of Iowa campus.

Maybe I have the beginnings for an elevator pitch after all.

It’s Iowa’s 175th Birthday; Get Out and Shovel Snow!

Today is Iowa’s 175th birthday. It’s also the first day of snow this winter. I had to get out there and shovel. I can celebrate Iowa’s 175th year of statehood by rubbing liniment on my sore shoulders. The Iowa statehood anniversary will be a year-long commemoration. If it snows anymore, I’ll be bathing in muscle cream for at least that long and will likely miss many of the events.

It was a wet, heavy snow. I pushed it around for hours. While sweeping snow from the front porch, I slipped off the first step and came down hard (but on my feet!) on the sidewalk instead of the second step. I was unhurt, but it was jarring. It reminded me of one of last year’s big snows which left enough ice on the driveway to make me slip and fall on my butt. The next-door neighbor, who was also out shoveling, saw it and looked at me a long time—but I bounced right back up. No need to call an ambulance. I’m good!

And then the city snow plows came through and did what they did last year. They left snow droppings in our driveway, which wasn’t really plugged but looked unsightly.

The only excuse I have for not going back out to clean it up is that it was raining steadily, and my winter coat and gloves were still soggy from sweat. It’s not like it was a couple of years ago, when we lived another part of town and the plows banked in drifts the size of small cars across our driveway. However, I have modified my shoveling technique. I no longer twist my back and throw snow over my shoulder (the John Henry model). I bend my knees and keep my back straight.

There will be more snow tomorrow, later in the day. Maybe it will be late enough that it will be too dark to shovel. Or maybe all the shovels in our garage will meet with some sudden, mysterious accidental breakage that makes them useless. The roads will probably be too icy and impassable from snow drifts for driving to the hardware store to buy replacements.

That’s how things go in the winter around the Midwest, especially in places like Iowa, ravaged by 175 years of snowstorms, freezing temperatures, shovels, and oceans of liniment.

On Christmas eve, when it looked like there would be no snow for Christmas Day, I remembered my blog on WordPress had a setting that would make snow fall and blow across our websites. It looks like that stopped about 6 or 7 years ago to allow a sharper focus on the business aspect. A lot of bloggers were unhappy about the change. You had to pay to play to get the Holiday Snow, which means you had to purchase the Business Plan blog and a special plugin, which could then be exploited by hackers.

Today, I got all the snow I would ever need. Happy Birthday, Iowa!

ADDENDUM 12/29/2021:

Today I used an ice chopper to clear the snow blobs from my driveway, which had been frozen into ice blobs overnight. I also chopped the ice from the curb ramp on my sidewalk which the city snow plow had also plugged yesterday. An official city truck was driving by and witnessed me clearing it. Will it make a difference? It started snowing again this evening.

Try to Keep Your Buns Warm

I was out shoveling snow this morning in the subzero temperatures.  It’s getting down to 20 and 30 degrees below zero with the wind chills today and tomorrow—and likely beyond. Try to keep your buns warm in weather like that. Sena helped by making hot cocoa when I came in for a break. Little things like that make a big difference. Like many other people in the country, we’re getting out despite the wind chill warnings. There are a couple of reasons for that. None of us want our neighbors falling on our sidewalks. The other reason is that you look for just about any kind of a break from the indoor routine caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, part of which is the TV show lineup.

On the other hand, I get a kick out of the Ancient Aliens program. Last night, William Shatner, the Star Trek star who has his own show about the weird and wonderful, UnXplained. He sat at the head of a table lined by a group of Ancient Aliens heavy hitters, along with video guest stars including physicist Michio Kaku. I think Shatner was playing the role of devil’s advocate, apparently trying to argue against the idea that aliens are driving their UFOs recklessly around our planet while intoxicated on oregano, crashing them on the Weather Channel’s Highway 401 in British Columbia, forcing the Heavy Rescue crews to pull them out of ditches using 65-ton rotators (which look like they’re from another planet, by the way) and occasionally kidnapping various humans for the odd anal probing.

Anyway, I suspect Shatner was playfully provocative and this got the Ancient Alien crew to talking loudly and rapidly all at once, interrupting each other and challenging Shatner to a knife fight and whatnot. Just kidding; they were all very polite and respectful.

Me at the Star Trek Museum in Riverside, Iowa in 2016

I think it’s possible to take the Ancient Aliens show too seriously. I really wondered why Shatner was invited as a guest on Ancient Aliens. Maybe they don’t take themselves as seriously as some people think. Well, OK, they probably do.

In fact, I don’t think Shatner takes his own show, The UnXplained, seriously. I wonder if the title of the show is a sort of jab at the X-Files? Remember the 1999 episode, “The Unnatural”? Josh Exley (played by Jesse Martin) was an alien who took the form of an alien and was an excellent baseball player. He hid among an all-African American baseball team in Roswell in the 1940s but was executed by an alien bounty hunter who didn’t want him mixing with the human race. Think about that irony. The episode was warmly comical and at times, even poked fun at the preoccupation with alien invasions. I actually liked Jesse Martin’s version of the gospel song “Come and Go with Me to That Land.” There is no full version of it, but I also liked Sam Cooke’s rendition. Sena and I both really enjoyed watching the X-Files while eating popcorn. I treasure the memory.

Well, the sun is shining and it has finally almost stopped snowing. I have to go back out and finish shoveling.

Have a great Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

Me and my valentine in New York
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