All posts by Bill Genereux

Share Something Everyday

The book “Show Your Work” is kind of a guiding philosophy for our DIGME406 course in Social Media. In this video clip, I read from the book about one of the principles: Show Something Small Every Day.

The people with the greatest social media success tend to share frequently. They give us access to their thinking, their process, even their lives. While there is such a thing as too much information (TMI) having a balanced approach is a good way to build up a digital profile without over-doing it.


Amy Schumer’s Body

Amy Schumer responded to a stranger on the Internet who Photoshopped her to make her appear slimmer. She writes,

“I like how i really look… The other picture looks nice but it’s not me.”

The young man replied, “I’m sorry Amy, I had no idea you’d see this…”

It’s none of our business. It is everyone’s business.

Really, why should anyone be telling Amy Schumer how she should look? I guess he admitted he didn’t ever imagine she would see it, let alone respond to it. The only thing I can think of is that she is in the public eye and makes her living as a celebrity. It is fun to discuss these people and even to “improve” them with software. But do we really have a right to make comments or suggestions on their appearance?

Celebrities are people too. Some famous people make their living by willingly being objectified. Is it any wonder then that some people want to project that set of values on to all celebrities? Kudos to Amy Schumer for speaking up about this.

It is interesting that people who create these “better” celebrity images delete them after being called out. It is interesting to me that the person who posted it “had no idea she would see it.” That is the power of the internet. It can cut out the middle man. You can communicate directly with the famous and powerful.

In a most memorable incident, I once had a student who inadvertently brought the US Secret Service to our campus. I was teaching web development back when having that skill was uncommon and specialized. I had all of our students create websites on the Internet. One student made a website that included a threat to the US president at that time, G.W. Bush, I think. A few days later some men in dark suits showed up and wanted to speak with Mr. So and So, the author of that page.

Yes folks, people really do read the stuff you put online about them.


Lock and Load

One of the most memorable moments for me during operation desert storm was the night before hostilities began. I had duty as petty officer the watch on the Quarterdeck. I knew something new was happening, something big. This is because I was ordered to place a magazine clip of ammunition into my Colt 45 pistol.

At that point in my career as a United States Navy sailor, I had stood numerous watches as an armed guard. On my previous ship, the US S Cochran, I was a part of the ship security force. That ship was nuclear capable and had specialized training associated with protecting special weapons. We had orders to shoot anyone who attempted to enter the ass rock magazine. I never had to shoot anyone. In fact, even in that situation, I was never given permission to load a clip of magazine of ammunition into my gun. Until desert storm, I had always carried an empty firearm with my ammunition safely tucked away on my belt.

The night before Desert Storm commenced, I was given the order to go ahead and place a chamber of no scratch that I was given an order to place a clip of ammo into my weapon. Even at that point, I wasn’t allowed to chamber a round. But it marked the first time in my naval career that I had carried a gun with ammunition in it while on duty.

At that point, rumors were floating about. Rumors that the harbor had been mined. Rumors that something big was going to happen. Everyone was on edge, but excited at the same time.

A lot of news reports from earlier in the year talked about how hot it was in the golf region. Operation desert shield started in August 19 90. I never experienced the heat. That night that I was standing watch outside on the quarterdeck as petty officer of the watch was quite chilly. We were bundled up in our pea coats. The air was cold and damp. Most definitely an eerie feeling about.

I have transferred to the battleship Missouri for a number of reasons. Partly because I was home sick. My previous ship, the Cochrane, was homeported in Japan. My first two years in the Navy were spent in training in Illinois. I got to go home frequently when I was in Illinois. So I experienced a number of bouts of homesickness while I was in Japan. I was ready to come back stateside. The opportunity to join the crew of the battleship Missouri appeal to me.

I couldn’t have known that war was looming on the horizon. However, I had had a taste of the danger on the Cochrane. The Cochrane had been deployed to the Middle East in response to the USS Stark being struck by an Iraqi missile. This was during the Iran/Iraq war. At that time the belligerents were shooting missiles at oil tankers.

When the Stark was hit, our ship which was forward deployed out of Japan, had to make haste to the gulf region. However being in the weapons department, we were a little disappointed that our ship was not permitted to enter the Persian Gulf because of its lack of a CIWS anti-missile system. So we were left to do circles in the Gulf of Oman just outside the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran. Not long after we left the golf, another U.S. Navy ship, the USS Vin sans was involved in a skirmish

Also about that time, our sister ship the USS corral was called into the golf even though it had the same limitations of the Cochran, and was given orders to shell Iranian oil platforms. Oh how we fire control and gun types would’ve enjoyed we would’ve enjoyed actual live fire missions.

Little did I know that by transferring to the battleship Missouri I would get my taste of many hours on the ground right.

Battleship From A Distance

After talking with some students today about our upcoming 30 day challenge, I have been thinking of my own project I want to work on over the 30 days. I am planning to write a book, or at least a big chunk of a book about Operation Desert Storm from the point of view of sailors who served in the Persian Gulf. I have a number of videos that I recorded there aboard my ship the USS Missouri. Some of these I have published on YouTube.

I have found some other interesting videos on YouTube from other sailors there at the time as well. But today I decided to look on Twitter to see what, if anything, people were saying with the hashtag #desertstorm. To my surprise, only a few tweets down from the top of my search results, I found a tweet with a link to a video of my ship, the battleship Missouri, that was recorded during a fire mission into Kuwait from another nearby ship, the USS Curts.

I have never seen footage like this from another perspective before. I have only seen the Missouri firing the big guns from aboard the battleship itself. I watched the video several times, that’s how mesmerized I was by it. I enjoyed hearing the comments of the sailors on the Curts as they watched us do our thing. It was interesting seeing the fire and smoke, followed by a long delay and then finally a boom. Aboard the Missouri, a gun firing was bone-rattling. Aboard the Curts, from a mile away, it was more like a regular gun shot sound.

Today I was thinking that whoever recorded that footage was documenting history in action. The USS Missouri and the USS Wisconsin were the last two battleships in the world to fire their guns in combat. That footage captured some of those final moments. Unless Mythbusters or some other such reality show manages to secure a surplus 16″ gun and some ammo, the world won’t ever see anything like it again.

I was also thinking about how I would explain to others what it was like to experience the fury of a sixteen-inch battleship gun firing. Even those sailors aboard the USS Curts didn’t get to feel the full effect. I thought I would take a big metal 55 gallon drum and bang really hard on it with a metal pipe or something. That might be somewhat like the sound (not really even close, but a start).

But banging the drum would just simulate the sound. You also need the blast of air in the face. A shot in the face from an airzooka toy would be a start, but again not even close. It really needs to slap you hard in the face and the chest. You would also need to feel in instant blast of heat as well. I don’t think a standard hair dryer would be hot enough. Maybe a flash from an industrial heat gun blowing on you.

Do all of these things simultaneously, bang a 55 gallon drum, shoot an airzooka in your face, blow a short blast of hot air in the face with a heat gun, and you are getting in the ball park of what it is like. You still would need to feel the deck rattle beneath you. Maybe you could do all of this while standing on top of a small trailer that someone could strike with a sledgehammer to make it vibrate. Finally, you would need to light one of the big smoke bomb from July 4th, because you need to inhale some smoke as well. Do all of these things and you would have a simulation that only somewhat describes the experience of seeing a single sixteen-inch gun being fired up close. Now for full effect, you can multiply that by nine to feel the fury of a broadside!

I honestly did not enjoy watching the battleship guns firing up close. I’m glad I experienced it, but it really was overwhelming. I preferred to be and usually was, down inside of the plotting room where the guns were being fired from deep within the ship. Maybe I was just a wimp, but the plotting room was where I was supposed to be.

However, seeing that footage from another ships perspective was a wonderful find today. It makes me wonder what else is out there for me to discover?


Professor Gx’s 30 Day Challenge

I am challenging my distance education class in Social Media to learn  and document a new skill in 30 days.

The steps are:

  1. Pick a skill or activity that we would like to learn how to do
  2. Find information online about how to do that thing
  3. Work at doing that thing every day for 30 days
  4. Document the process
  5. Share what we are doing online
  6. Support one another in the class who are doing the same thing.

I intend to join in the fun. The activity or skill I have selected is writing a book. For years I’ve had some ideas about writing some books. I’ve jotted down some ideas, but never have made a serious effort towards making it happen. So for 30 days beginning this coming February 4th, 2019, I plan to write my first book. Or at least make significant headway towards that goal.

The topic I’ve decided to write about is Desert Storm in the Gulf: Experiences of Ordinary Sailors During Operation Desert Storm.

I plan to use various social media and online platforms to locate sailors who were there. As preparatory work this week I want to develop an outline of subtopics to explore, start collecting names of people to request interviews with and locate the videos on YouTube made by people who were there.


Gillette Advertisements

Before you read on, please be sure you have seen the heartwarming Gillette story about the man who shaves his father’s face for him each day. It will be the best three minutes you spend today. I will wait until you get back…


Wow, how moving was that one? Every time I see it, I am filled with emotion about those two men. It makes full use of the memes that move us, namely mission, pproblem-solving caring, and distinguishing yourself.

Since I am on social media often (probably much too often) I encounter many things that might simply slip past most people’s radar. However, I saw this particular story on the evening news so it must be getting some greater traction. It seems that the Gillette brand of shaving razors has created a video that is generating some controversy. As of today, it has over 20 million views with 582K up votes and 1M down votes.

I was first alerted to it on Facebook by a friend from California criticizing those angered by the ad’s message. He writes


“… If guys gotta prop “masculinity” with being a violent, ragey, obnoxious total asshole… damn, boy. Ya got issues. Go get some therapy or something before you make everyone else’s life a mess.


Another Facebook friend, a woman from California shared this parody:

When I am presented with two such widely differing views from people I truly respect and admire, I know it is an opportunity for me to reflect and think about my own stance. I also recognize that since it is a divisive issue, it will probably be a good question to raise with students who are developing their media/information literacy skills.

The main question I have is why does Gillette owned by Procter and Gamble, or any company for that matter feel compelled to lecture us about morality? Why should we pay any attention to it? As Stephen Colbert asks, do we need to be taught moral lessons by razor companies?

I always refer back to the key questions of media literacy when thinking about these things. These days I want to think critically about any corporate message, positive or not, because I know it ultimately seeks to influence me as a consumer. Ultimately they want me to buy what they are selling.



Most Heartwarming Advertisement Ever

A year and a half ago, Gillette Razors released this short video, but it took me a year to discover it in my social media feed. It is probably the most heartwarming “commercial” I have ever seen. It is a perfect example of short-form digital storytelling. I often give an assignment to my students called mini-documentary and going forward I plan to show this to my students as an example of how it is done well.

The pacing, the lighting, the sound, the music and the story all flow effortlessly. It quickly draws the viewer in and you become absorbed in the story. That, my friends, is good storytelling. Please watch first, then come back and read what else I have to say after the video.

Did you watch the video? Read no further until you do. I will wait…

You’re back? It is really good, right? Ok, I have more to say, but that will come in another post. Click here to continue…

Kids & PBL

Yesterday my daughter was involved in presenting at a teacher in-service about her work with the other students and her teacher on the topic of Project Based Learning.

I told her congratulations on making her first professional presentation. She said, “It wasn’t my first. I presented last year at the national FBLA conference in Baltimore.” Yes, I said, but that was a conference for kids. I’m not knocking that achievement, but this one is pretty special because it was meant for adult professionals. In a way, you could think of it as your first professional presentation since the intended audience was professional people.

Practice What You Preach


I justify using external services instead of courseware discussion boards so students can always refer back to previous discussions if they choose. However, I just deleted all of last year’s students from our private DigMe406 LinkedIn group. Doh! I shouldn’t have done that!

Thankfully, not much happened for that group on LinkedIn, more happened on Twitter, which can’t be deleted. I’m hopeful that this year more private discussion will happen on LinkedIn because we are starting our discussion there. Last year we started on Canvas discussions then I tried to get them to move to LinkedIn and it didn’t work well. People want to stick with what they started with.