Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

Three Ways the Annual Fund is Like My Step Dad

I went to my parents' house over the weekend to see my family (as I didn't go home for Mother's Day). After eight hours swimming with my younger brother and sisters, dinner, and a political argument with my step dad, I had to depart for Columbus.

It's a long drive and my mind wanders to everything except driving. (Sidenote: have you noticed how straight I-71 is? You can just put your car in cruise and it basically drives itself, assuming your car is properly aligned.) On this particular drive, I came to the realization that the Annual Fund and my step dad are a lot a like.

This seems like a stretch- as are most of my blogs- but bear with me on this...

1. They Are Providers
My step father is an independent salesman for a couple of agricultural machinery companies. He believes in the value of hard work to provide for his family. In fact, he believes in it so much that when I was younger, if I said that I was bored, he would tell me to go pick up rocks or sticks in our one-acre yard. He said that it would teach me hard work and character. Then, when I didn't go out and do it, he would make me go out and do it. Eventually, I quit complaining about being bored.

The Annual Fund provides for the OWU's operating budget. Often times, these are things that are not as attractive as a building or a mission trip, but vitally important to Ohio Wesleyan in every day operations that help the University continue its mission to educate future leaders.

2. They Are Steady
My step-father is a very steady individual- it seems that nothing sways him. A couple of years ago, I stopped by my parents' house unannounced. When I walked in, nobody was there. I walked into the back yard, where I found my step dad digging a gigantic hole in the back yard for seemingly no reason. He looked up at me and said hi to me and then continued to dig.

I waited for an explanation of this action for a couple of minutes, assuming that he would tell me what he was doing. He didn't. He just kept digging. Finally, I asked him what he was doing.

He looked up at me, said "Digging a hole," and went back to digging.

We sat there in silence again for a few moments with me waiting for more detail. None were coming. I asked why he was digging a hole. When he went to answer me, he took his attention off of the digging. He then jammed the shovel down on his ankle.

Hard.

There was another couple moments of silence. Blood started to ooze from the wound created by the shovel. I stood there, mouth agape, wondering when he was going to lose his cool. Understand that if that had happened to me, I would have started cursing, crying, and rolling around on the ground, screaming in a high-pitched, 12-year-old-girl voice.

After a minute, the only word he said was "Ouch" in a regular voice and started digging again. He didn't even stop. It didn't phase him. I don't know if it really didn't hurt him, if he wasn't showing it, or he didn't care, but I am still amazed.

The Annual Fund has been a steady source of income for the University since 1926- nothing stops it. The need is great, and the Annual Fund has been OWU's only consistent form of funding for over 80 years. Just like my step dad, it never stops for anything.

3. They Both Use Acronyms and Examples That Only Make Sense to Them
My step dad uses weird examples to get his point across. Examples that are impossible to understand, but he will defend them to the end. When I was in high school, we got in fight (I don't remember the topic) and I was disagreeing with him about everything he said, even though he was probably correct (he usually is- which is really annoying at times).

The conversation was getting heated when all of sudden he declared "Jason, it's like 70 pounds of lumpy mashed potatoes!"

That effectively ended the argument. I was dumbfounded. I didn't even know how to reply. What do you say to that? To this day, whenever the mashed potato reference comes up in conversation, he still defends it, saying it was a good point. No one can remember what it was about or what it meant, so there isn't any way to convince him otherwise.

The Annual Fund also uses weird acronyms and examples, like SYBUNT, GOLD, DIMSUM Reports, etc. It took me about six full months to understand what "LYBUNT" meant. People get confused about what the Annual Fund is or isn't. The only way to get people to understand is to explain it clearly, unlike the mashed potato thing, which made no sense whatsoever.

I have other stories about my step dad, like the time he said he sanded a car with a shark to get it ready to paint (I know, I don't understand either), or the time he was transporting air from downstairs to upstairs to cool the house (to this day, I still don't know if he was serious about that) but I won't get into those.

I love my step dad- he is one of the major influences in my life. Comparing him to the Annual Fund may seem odd, but both are steady, reliable, and sometimes confusing. He is a great man and the Annual Fund is a great cause, so I see this as a positive comparison. They both have also been around forever.

Also, he is much, much stronger and bigger than me, so I have to say nice things about him.


Monday, May 22, 2006

 

Alumni Weekend Annotations

Some observations from Alumni Weekend '06

* One class raised $13,000 at dinner for the Annual Fund. They must have had some great wine.

* Those who did not attend the All-Alumni Dance on Saturday missed the dance clinic put on by the University Relations staff and student workers. I think it can be best summed up by the following: toward the end of the night, when everything was winding down, the only person on the dance floor was Annual Fund Intern and Alpha Sigma Phi President Matt Garvey '07. I mentioned that he was on the floor alone and that it was time to go.

He stopped, looked at me earnestly and said "I'm not stopping until the music stops." Then he started dancing again.

By himself.

* It didn't rain at all over the weekend. Typically, every Ohio Wesleyan event is a like a Charlie Brown baseball game (you know, where all you can see is lines because it is raining so hard). It was awesome.

* The classes of '46, '51, and '56 look great. Seriously; to the tune that they are better looking than me.

* Basketball coach Mike DeWitt '87 has a killer set for his version of the University Update for reunion dinners. Following his appearance at the Class of '61, Mike will be playing the Funny Bone in Columbus, and then heading out into the Midwest for recruiting/comedy tour.

* I think I developed a nervous twitch from the massive amount of coffee I drank this weekend.

Man vs. Nature (or the Definition of Bravery)
In last week's blog, I casually mentioned that I once killed a bat with a boat oar. While I would usually save this tale for around a campfire, I doubt that I will ever be around a campfire with all of you, True Believers. Thus, here is the story of Jason and Ryan vs. The Bat:

One night, after I had just lain down for a night of serene slumber, I saw a dark shadow flash across my ceiling. I thought it was a figment of my imagination until I saw it again. Thinking it was moth, I turned the light beside my bed on. The dark flash turned out to be a bat; 6-inches of fear. When it saw the light, it swooped down at me. Like a man, I yelled (probably closer to "screamed" or "shrieked") and threw the covers over my head.*

One of my roommates, Ryan, came to the door and asked what was going on. I told him there was a bat and for him to open the door. He refused and just stood there. He kept saying "I can see it," as there was a window above my door. My room had a staircase up to another level of the house, and The Bat (after what seemed like an eternity) flew up into the next level.

I sprang into action. I had my sleeping bag under my bed; I grabbed it, and then nailed it to my ceiling and the stairwell in order to create a force field of fabric between myself and the embodiment of evil. Thinking I had won, I went back to bed. The Bat scoffed at me, found an opening, flew back into my room, flipped me off, and then flew back upstairs.

I knew it was either The Bat or me. I recruited Ryan, arming ourselves for battle. He grabbed a golf club (a 3 wood, I believe) and I procured a boat oar (I am still not sure where that came from). We were on a mission- a mission of death. We knew what we had to do. Failure was not an option. I ripped down the sleeping bag and we ran upstairs, screaming. I flipped on the light, The Bat swooped at us, and we ran back downstairs.

Once we collected ourselves, we ran back upstairs, not yelling quite as loud. As it turns out, bats have keen sense of sight (or sonar) and are impossible to hit with either a golf club or a boat oar. We went around in circles, swinging at The Bat, breaking lights and hitting the wall. Finally, The Bat swooped at me- I stared into its beady, blood-lusting eyes. I swung the boat oar with all of my might. I missed The Bat completely and fell onto my back, my feet up in the air. At the same time, Ryan swung the golf club. There was a loud crack.

He also missed the bat, but he did connect with my foot. He dropped the golf club and ran to the stairs, peeking up over the top. I was a crumpled heap on the floor.

"Thompson, get out of there!" he yelled.

"I think you broke my f*&#$@*% foot," I yelled back as The Bat circled me, waiting for me to die. "Go! Don't worry about me!"

"I can't leave a fallen brother," he said. Just then, I noticed that the bat had landed on the wall. I saw my opportunity. I grabbed the oar, pulled myself up, and lunged at The Bat, screaming and stabbing the air. I caught the bat's neck; the primal struggle was mighty. Finally, I knew it was over. I pulled the oar away, and the bat fell onto the floor.

We put The Bat into a trash can. As I hobbled outside, I looked down at my enemy with a feeling of fear and admiration. "You fought well and hard, friend," I said. "I shall tell tales of your great bravery. Peace to you in the next world." Then I threw him into the dumpster and ran/limped quickly away, in case it wasn't dead.

* upon seeing The Bat, I realized that I am lucky I live in this period of time. I probably wouldn't have lasted 15 minutes in pioneer times, or even the 1950s. Or even now in a place like northern Canada or Pittsburgh (the hooligans).


 

Dare you say, not sexy enough??

It happened again. For the third time in less than a year, a "significant" donor said the Annual Fund isn't sexy enough. I don't get it. It is a Fund, after all, that is nearly 80. Isn't it enough to be witty, wise, kind and supportive? Truth is, the Fund still needs to provide vital operating budget support (for faculty resources, student scholarships, and "all things OWU"). If that's what it takes, how do we add "sex appeal" to the Fund?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

Mardi Gras Has Got Nothing on Us

Alumni Weekend is upon us.

Indeed, True Believers, this is the weekend of all weekends at Ohio Wesleyan; the epitome of the year. If there are 52 weekends in a year, this weekend is 3/52 of importance (all of the other weekends are 1/52; to make up the difference, we'll forget the second weekend in February and the first weekend in August).

Yes, this weekend is when the Battling Bishop becomes the Pied Piper of OWU alumni and leads the reunion classes of years that end in 1 and 6 back to the hallowed halls of Grey Chapel, Slocum Hall, and Thompson Hall, where they pay to sleep in the dorms again. Is it ironic that you pay to sleep in uncomfortable dorms with three other people 25 years after you promised yourself you would never live in those conditions ever again? Sure it is- but witness the beauty that is Alumni Weekend.

Ah, Alumni Weekend. Over 1,000 alumni will be on campus, partaking in the festivities, including many dinners, speakers, parades, and the ever-important All-Alumni Dance. If you are not making it back for this weekend, this archetype of alumni events, you will be missing the most important- nay- the quintessential Ohio Wesleyan experience. I will be there and I didn't even attend Ohio Wesleyan.

The campus is abuzz in preparation- currently I am looking out my window, watching the Service Department power washing the sidewalk, Delaware sparkling in the background. Come back, see old friends, meet new people, watch me attempt to two-step or do the hustle or whatever other dance I am talked into trying at the Alumni Dance (I promise it will be horrible- but probably not the worst).

I am attempting to procure a name tag that doesn't say "Assistant Director of Annual Giving" on it so people will talk to me without thinking I will hit them up for money. I guess you'll have to come to see if I actually reach that goal. If you see people running away from me, please come up and say "hi" to me. I promise that I won't ask you for money (yet).

A Man's Man
This weekend, I moved to a grown-up apartment. Prior to Sunday, May 14 (and yes, I do realize that it was Mother's Day; it was the only day I could move for the rest of the month), I lived in a large house with 3-5 roommates; the number varied frequently. My new place has exposed brick, track lighting, and heat. It is also clean. Every time that I walk in the door, I feel like I'm walking into a hotel room.

My old place was like a pseudo-fraternity house crossed with an episode of "Wild America." Nothing worked, no one cleaned because we were all "trying to make a point," and even we did clean the common areas, dust and grime would appear 10 seconds later. You can see a picture of the house on my old roommates band site (yes, I lived with a band).

What was amazing was that instead of fixing things, we would just let them go. I know that inanimate objects shouldn't fix themselves, but I learned that if you let things go long enough, it will always work out. For example, we had a clogged drain for a couple of months, and then one day- POOF!- it fixed itself. As my roommate and witness Seth said:

"It made a loud,weird, burpy sound, and the water disappeared. I guess the weight of the water pushed the gook down the drain. Or maybe it just got tired of being there."
"Maybe it just got tired of being there." As if the clog was alive. Who knows, maybe it was? Living there was like living in Opposite World- another dimension, if you will- where nothing worked as it should.

We also had a variety of animal guests (or maybe we were the guests- that blows my mind) in the house, including mice, ants, gnats, fruit flys, black birds, a squirrel, suicidal sparrows, a dog, and a bat that I killed with a boat oar. It actually was a science experiment as man and animal learned to co-exist together (except for the bat). I will save those stories for another day.

I sleep better in my new place and I feel older and more mature. I feel refreshed and warmer (as in physically warmer because in my new place, the windows actually stop the weather from coming in). Maybe I will turn the corner and actually write a legitimate blog at some point, choc full of information and news that you, the reader, can use, instead of useless information.

Then again, maybe not.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Rounding Third

We're heading into the home-stretch for the Annual Fund: there are only SEVEN more weeks until the June 30 deadline. There has been much change at Ohio Wesleyan this year: new staffers, Mr. Rickey's campaign, the Shipps setting sail from Cleveland and down the Scioto to set up camp here at OWU, and, probably the most important development, the advent of the Annual Fund Blog.

Oh yeah, the Annual Fund is on pace to break the most money ever raised in its history.

The goal for the Annual Fund is $3.8 million. Sometimes people describe the Annual Fund as keeping the heat running and the lights on. I know what you are thinking: that is a whole heck of lot light bulbs (8,571,428 to be exact- our service department stays busy), or about 13 minutes of natural gas heat from the furnace in my current place of residence (I think the efficiency rating for my heater is -75%. Seriously).

While the Annual Fund money does purchase a few light bulbs and helps with heat, it does much more. It helps pay tuition, salaries, upkeep, keeps this blog happening every week. To reach the goal, everyone that cares about OWU is going to have to become involved. June is always a big month for the Annual Fund because you and people like you understand how important the Annual Fund is and what it means to Ohio Wesleyan. If you've already given, thank you; but also please think about making an additional gift.

Don't wait to make your gift- make it now. It's getting dark in my office- I'm sick of not having any light bulbs.

Random Meanderings
I really enjoy working in the Annual Giving department and at Ohio Wesleyan in general. Nice people, pretty campus, good alumni, El Vaquero is right down the street, Freedom to express myself- sometimes my selective narcolepsy hits me in the office, and no one judges me (maybe they do, but I don't know it).

There is one thing I hate: expense reports. They are the bane of my work existence. There is nothing that I hate more- if expense reports were people, it would come to fisticuffs. Me vs. Expense Reports. I mean, how can so much be expected of one person? Or maybe I just mean "How can this much be expected of me?"

To keep track of receipts, remember dates, figure out tips, and then have to write it all down; it's a lot of pressure. If I happen to be out of town or at a conference, I'm expected to keep the receipts for longer than a day. That is way too much commitment: I can barely choose a brand of toothpaste because it lasts for a couple of months.

I am really, really horrible at expense reports. I'm big enough to admit it. When I finally get around to completing a report, it looks like I'm in first grade learning cursive writing: horrible hand writing, eraser marks, Xs through mistakes, errors in the math computations, water marks from where my sweat and tears hit the paper. All that I need is that brown paper with the solid blue and dashed red lines. It's a good thing that we have an understanding accounting department, otherwise I probably would have been fired by now or at least have had my credit card taken away.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

The Not-As-Attractive Friend

"Why should I give to the Annual Fund?" one may ask upon receiving a mailing or phone call from OWU. "Aren't there many other attractive things I can give to at Ohio Wesleyan, like a building, or a bench, or something else? Something that will last? Something that will show my name forever (or until the weather wears it off)?"

Yes, there are. However, the Annual Fund is still there, even when there are other more attractive things to give to. The Annual Fund is kind of like the hot girl's friend in high school. Sure, the hot girl was hot, a cheerleader, bubbly, always dating someone older and much bigger than you. Not much substance. The friend, while not as attractive, was cool, smart and fun. But you never wanted to date the other girl; you only wanted to date the hot girl, even though the intelligent choice would have been the friend. In the end, after the hot girl went on a couple of dates with you and left you sitting alone in your 1992 Plymouth Acclaim to go party with a college guy, you realize that maybe you made the wrong decision.

Or maybe the Annual Fund is like going grocery shopping. I never, ever sit down and think to myself "I really want to go buy some groceries today." No, I sit down and think "I really want to go buy Browns season tickets, or the new Arrested Development season on DVD, or a 62" flat screen plasma TV, or (fill in the blank)." V8 just doesn't excite me. But if I did that every time I wanted to buy something rather than buy food, I would eventually starve to death- but at least I would have my flat screen.

The Annual Fund is Ohio Wesleyan's groceries; OWU needs the Annual Fund and the support from donors to stay alive. It may not seem like the most attractive choice, but it is the most important. It's the choice you need to make before you make another gift to the University, because it supports the current operating budget. It is the only funding option that directly affects every part of OWU. Without it, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog (which could possibly motivate you not to give, depending on your opinion of all of this).

An Update on Me
I have reached a new level of tired in the past week. I recently started business school at night after work at the large campus-nation south of Delaware and we're in mid-terms. While I do believe that getting my MBA will be worthwhile and rewarding, if one more person says "It will be over before you know it" or "You'll make it all back," I'm going to lose it.

Just yesterday, I was working with a group to get ready for a midterm in Managerial Finance, and we were talking about the price of tuition. Turns out that the price that I thought this little venture would cost was about $10,000 off, as in I will owe more. I felt like my brain hemorrhaged. Apparently I need to take remedial math along with marketing and finance because I can't compute multiplication. This will just have to go to my theory of unreal numbers (see April 4 blog).

I will live in this state called Ignorance with the capital of Bliss for as long as I can.

P.S.
If anyone does happen to have a 62" high-def flat screen and they want me and a couple of buddies to come over a watch the Browns games, just call me and let me know. You'll hear:

Me: "Hello"

You: "Hi Jason, this is (whomever). I was wondering if you and a couple of buddies want to come over to watch the Bro..."

The next sound that you will hear will be the phone falling to the floor, feet running, doors slamming, and tires squealing.


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