Monday, January 8, 2018

Towing the Line

For the past several years, I've made a name for myself not from my chasing, but from my attitude and opinions about chasing. That's unfortunate. I used to regularly engage in very public arguments and flame wars online, started a web show dedicated solely to fanning the flames of the chase community's issues and most recently, did a vlog that was nothing but me staring at the camera and commenting on any and everything chase-related.....most of it negative. I did it all to entertain, to get a laugh. But eventually it became clear to me that it wasn't my purpose to entertain. Even more obvious, people were no longer laughing with me, they were laughing at me. And why shouldn't they have? I was nothing more than a circus monkey performing for a banana.

I used to take sides on the battlefields of both the live streaming and media broker wars. What started out in both instances as nothing more than me supporting friends - people I knew and trusted - morphed into me having multiple online arguments and tension with individuals I didn't even know, only because they wore a different hat than I did. I started judging people by association /rumor rather than getting to know the person for myself. Oh there were several times when the rumor mill was accurate, but many other times when it wasn't, and I didn't care. It was easier to just go with the flow.

But I'm not a "go with the flow" kinda person when it comes to something I'm interested in. I do what I do because it makes me happy, not because it's trendy or elite. So I started thinking recently, "why do you even care anymore?" The chaser drama, the gimmicks, the controversies.....why do I care about any of that anymore? The answer is I don't. I stopped doing DCS because it felt forced after the first two years of success. It felt fake, and I don't do fake. And when I was on the fence about whether or not to quit, I decided to just stop and let the audience be the true judge. Not one person asked about DCS when I ended it suddenly, without announcement. The people had spoken: quitting was the right decision.

Perhaps the most targeted entity of my negativity regarding the chasing world was the StormTrack forum. My online sanctuary for years. I resisted the changing times and how it began to affect ST, and wasn't shy about voicing my displeasure. Looking back, no good came from any of it. While my intentions were good, well, you know what they say about that. I further damaged a forum that was already being damaged (in my opinion), which when you think about it, makes me an idiot.

But it's still there. It's still fresh. It has ownership and a staff that are as attentive and enthusiastic as any that came before them. The only thing holding StormTrack back is the community itself. The resources are there, the platform is there, and the members are there. ST can be as awesome as we the members allow it to be. ST will never be what it was in 2005, or even 2010. That's not to say it can't be just as good, but rather, simply different. It won't be what it was because it's 2018. It will be what it is. And I am excited to be doing my part.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Life's Work

After much thought, I've decided to nix the individual videos-for-download concept. Sales have proven too poor to bother with (1) learning how to set it up and (2) maintaining it. But also, I've accidentally discovered a brand new marketing gimmick: my entire life's work (to this point at least) as a single, stand-alone product. One USB stick, an entire career's worth of chase video. To my knowledge, nobody has ever done that before. Unlike other chasers who have done single DVD "career" spanning highlights that cover several years, my USB set is every actual video I've ever done. It's by far the best value on the chaser highlights market, but what I like best is that it's unique. I've finally found my selling niche. It's easy, it's cheap, and it's the first book of my chasing career. I'm all caught up, all current. Now it's all about starting that next novel.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

2017/Noob Thoughts (I Get It Now)

In recent years I've noticed something about myself. I seem to have changed my "world view" on people and personalities. For most of my life, as most people do, I always assumed a person was the way they are (how they behave/perceive/value) based on how they chose to be. Basically, they know right from wrong and act accordingly in any situation, based on instinctual or learned processes such as ethics, morals, peer pressure, or even guilt. In other words, if you're standing around and see some guy who's loud, boisterous, and clearly doesn't care about how it affects people around him, you'd point at the fellow and say "that guy's an asshole." But what you'd mean is "that guy is choosing to be an asshole, because he' asshole."

But lately I've changed my thinking on this. I look around and see so much bad or negative from people, just on a day to day basis, it makes me wonder if it's simply DNA and not a conscious choice. I mean, how can so many people who know right from wrong, good from bad, or even polite from rude, choose to be such pricks? I think perhaps they don't choose at all. Maybe it's just who they are. The question is, why are they like that? My not-so-humble opinion? I think it's largely generational/sign of the times. (You could also generalize this opinion/philosophy by just shaking your head and saying "they just don't know any better.")

This brings me to storm chasers. More to the point, today's storm chasers. It's no secret that I've had an issue with many newer chasers for several years, although most of said newer chasers have tragically misunderstood the reason why. The prototypical, stock reaction has always been "he's just jealous," which makes no sense when you think about it because the majority of the time (we're talking around 95%) my trophy wall smothers theirs. But that's not the point. The point is, the reason I have a beef is because they lack appreciation for what they see, which is a direct side effect of Entitlement. Ah, now we're getting to the root of the problem.

In the past I've often referenced this entitlement mindset by saying newbies walk up to the plate and point to the wall, a move in baseball that signals where the batter intends to knock his home run. It's simultaneously arrogant, disrespectful (of the craft, not seasoned chasers - we ain't snowflakes), and shows the glaringly-obvious entitlement mindset (I'm not gonna try to hit the ball, I am gonna hit the ball.) The lack of acknowledgement of potential failure is a key sign of the entitlement mindset....which is probably why so many young people chase now. It's fucking easy.

Now take the 2017 season to date. I don't know that I've ever heard so much grumbling and rumbling over a "lost" year in my entire career. Not even in 2006 (which was a dreadfully bad chase year) did I hear so much bellyaching and whining as I have in 2017. It's no coincidence that most of today's entitlement generation chasers weren't chasing yet back then. If they had, there would have been suicides by now. These little bastards don't even know what bad is. What is bad you might be asking? Well, the best way for me to explain it in terms a millennial would understand is: Bad is something no app can fix. Chilling isn't it?

First off, 2017 hasn't been that bad, in fact I'd say it's been average leaning towards the good side of the fence. This is an opinion from a person who chased before there was mobile data, who's experienced genuinely bad chase years and appreciates all tornadoes because the process is amazing to witness, so my definition of bad is far worse than that of someone who started chasing in 2013. Climatology is not the result of personal choices, mistakes, or results, so the first group of whiners who blame their bad results on the weather pattern (instead of their bad decisions) can step aside, remain quite, and learn something here.

For the next group, refer to the first sentence of the previous paragraph. I know you all have been spoiled to death in recent years, but you have to be realistic. Not every year is going to be full of photogenic tornadoes, easy to figure out setups, or perfectly-timed-with-your-schedule events. Much like the ones who simply fucked 2017 up and blame the weather, you guys need to get over the fact the weather hasn't jibed with you personally schedule-wise or expectation-wise. Expectations are through the roof because all of you are professional photographers now, which means you've subscribed to an existence of constant, futile pursuit of perfection and never being satisfied. Travelers who schedule ahead of time, I get it. I understand. But your personal disappointment doesn't take any of the shine off of 2017. It's had some spectacular days.

But I digress...

I find myself understanding this Entitlement Generation more and more as I get older. No longer do I believe they are spoiled, bratty, pissy individuals who just choose to be that way. No, I honestly believe they just are that way, a product of an environment where everything in life is a button push, a mouse click, a download or an app away. An environment where since birth all they've been told is they can be anything they want, do anything they want, because they exist. A world where participation is as awarded as winning, where hurt feelings take precedence over competition, fairness, and rules. A place where everything they don't deserve should never happen, and everything they believe they deserve should. But that world doesn't exist....and bless their hearts, they just don't know any better.