Is Your Job Killing You? [infographic]

We may accuse each other of exaggerating when we say our jobs are killing us, but it might not be that much of an exaggeration. Dozens of studies over the years have linked job stress to increased incidences of disease and death. With this infographic, discover who is most at risk, what causes workplace stress, what the likely consequences are and how both employers and employees can reduce the problem.

What do you think?

Is your job killing you?

What are you going to do about? 

Is Job Stress Killng You?
Infographic Credit:



A Skull A Day for 365 Days

Noah Scalin at Gel 2009 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

This is one of the most interesting video’s I’ve come across in a long time. I find projects like this inspiring. To be able to be so creative, daily for a year, while so many people are watching is incredible.

Music Social Media

A ‘Five Iron Frenzy’ Story

Bringing a Dead Band Back to Life

Two weeks ago today, Five Iron Frenzy announced that they were coming back to the music scene. After months of waiting to see what the band’s website countdown was about, weeks of teasing social media posts, and a scavenger hunt that was more hype than substance, the two words that fans had been waiting years for hit the web “We’re Back!” There was a Kickstarter campaign launched to raise $30,000 for a new album, which was funded in 54 minutes. That number reached $160,000+ in just two weeks. Since the band released their first new song in eight years (for free), it was downloaded over 17,000 times from the band’s website and social media profiles (not including iTunes, Amazon, etc.) in first ten days after the announcement. Facebook and Twitter had thousands of fans talking about the band being back. It had been a long 8 years without them. The funny thing is, just six months ago, no one in the band was seriously considering a comeback, seeing as they said it would be at leas ten years until a reunion. Everything started one afternoon when two unlikely events happened almost simultaneously…

The Back Story
After almost 9 years of touring and record label deadlines, Five Iron Frenzy did one final tour. They called it Winners Never Quit, to thank their fans. The band said goodbye via one last concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in their native Denver, CO in front of a sold out crowd in November of 2003. The following year a a live album was recorded from the farewell tour and was released and the band parted ways. Eventually the website was abandoned as well. The domain name held by the band for years as an official source of news and promotion,, eventually expired.

As a long time Five Iron Frenzy fan and general web geek I had been watching the domain name’s registration expiration date and wanted to save it from the fate of other band’s abandoned domain names. Just look at the domains Bleach and Supertones lost as examples. I didn’t want the band’s music and legacy to be forgotten or tossed aside. I also didn’t want spammers or domain name squatters to get the site. Over the years I’d been to countless FIF shows in several states. I’d grown-up with great memories associated with those shows and even took a road trip to Denver from Chicago to see my favorite band one last time.

In early 2008 the domain name dropped and I was able to enter an auction for the domain name. After several days of bidding and waiting and bidding again I won ownership to the domain name. A few days later a fan site was up and fan-based updates happened regularly with photos, interviews and links to the bands music online. In 2010 the band produced a documentary called “The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy” that covered the bands often troubled existence with all of its ups, downs and what ifs. There was some talk of the band’s history and music on the web after that, but it wasn’t time for a comeback. There was no real prospect or hope of a return for several years, if ever, based on the documentary’s view of things. As a fan I was sad, but I remained hopeful. Anything was possible. Right?

Two Events That Only Meant Something When Together
At the Cornerstone Music Festival on June 29, 2011 Leanor Ortega-Till (the band’s ex-saxophonist) was misquoted as saying that Five Iron Frenzy was getting back together. On that same day, before the reports of Leanor’s misquote came out, I setup a countdown timer to Five Iron Frenzy Day of 2011. Five Iron Frenzy day happens every year on November 22 in remembrance of the day that Five Iron Frenzy quit the music business in 2003. My plan was simply to post a new website design and content because nothing newsworthy had happened related to Five Iron Frenzy since the release of the FIF DVD in 2010. With both things happening in the same day, a slew of online posts and articles began speculating that FIF’s return would soon follow.

A few days later Leanor clarified her statements as “hopes” of the band getting back together, but that they were not even in discussions about it. This post was published on Leanor’s Jeff the Girl fan page on Facebook and the then fan based FIF website on July 5.

This is Leanor. I agree it is a long shot–call me the optimist, but I do hope it happens. I did not CONFIRM that we will play Cornerstone or any show in fact. In conversation I said to a person, I hope so, we have talked about it, and if it were to happen (us play shows again) it would not be until after 2013.


I still do hope we do all play together again someday. I do hope we write new songs and release them. Will it happen? I can’t say, and I am only one member. But I do agree, it will take a TON of work, and a TON of communication and vision. In the future–please do not post conversations as interviews. Words are so strong and my wanting to convey hope came off as fact—-I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.


-Leanor Ortega Til

On July 6, 2011 I drafted a clarification letter “from the band” and sent it out to the FIF members to be OK’ed before posting it online. While I was hoping for a comeback, I realized that this was probably not the time because the band wasn’t talking about it yet.

Hey Kids,


There has been a lot of buzz about Five Iron Frenzy going around the internets in the last few days: countdowns, technical difficulties, rumors of a reunion tour happening, and so on. The record needs to be set straight. Some of you folks have been with us for a very long time. You deserve only the truth. As of right now none of us (the members of FIF) have agreed to a reunion in 2013.


We tried to pull it together for a new record and a tour about a year ago but it sort of fizzled out. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen, but it certainly is NOT confirmed. We all have families of our own now and are spread all over the country; we can’t just leave our jobs and go meandering all over the country to play shows.


Leanor did not confirm that we would play Cornerstone or any future show as fact. In conversation she mentions hopes, ideas and view of a future with Five Iron after 2013. That is the 10-year mark we as a band agreed to before we broke up. If we do any thing new in the future it will take a TON of work, and a TON of communication and vision. In the future kids, please do not post conversations as interviews.


Words are powerful. Hopes were viewed as fact and that caused confusion. Please receive our apologies for any misguided hope or despair that was caused this week.


We all agree that a tour it is a long shot, but many of us hope it happens one day. For now? Buy our dvd or some of our music. Again if you already own it.


-Five Iron Frenzy

An important conversation started online that day. Instead of everyone giving the go ahead to post the letter and move on with their lives free of FIF, Reese Roper (the lead singer) suggested actually doing a reunion tour in 2013. Band members started to chime in—everyone had jobs, families, and more responsibilities than before. Not to mention the amount of debt some band members still had from years of touring with very little pay. Why couldn’t they do a reunion tour of some kind? Maybe it wouldn’t be 4 months of straight touring, but some long weekends out on the road, a few festivals, or a two-week tour. In the following three days, a playlist, the new song release idea, and practice dates were setup.

Everything was starting to happen, a Five Iron Frenzy reunion was going to take place. Woot!

Fast forward a few months…

Social Media Buzz
In order to get the word out as best as possible I came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt to precede the band’s comeback announcement. Everyone in the band seemed to agree that it was a good idea as well. Many fans were already following the countdown, but a scavenger hunt would help to get more people involved. There were three main parts to it:

Day #1: 
A simple, yet maddeningly complex (if you didn’t use “view source”), Find the Blue Comb game was posted. Very web 1.0.


Day #2:
Leanor Ortega-Till launched a personal website via a clue given on the URL Day #1 led to. There was a page selling her poetry book online and a page with clues on what to do next… Post the Fire Extinguisher image (based off of an old FIF sticker) all over the web.


Day #3:
There was a word hunt across several Five Iron Frenzy related domain names. Lyrics of variuos FIF songs were posted with some letters bolded, italicised and so on. Images on those posts has hidden alt tags that equaled parts of a password. All of this put together correctly led to the below “badge” and yet another teaser about the Nov. 22 announcement.

The final announcement of a new song and reunion of the band via letter from the band and videos from Reese Roper and Andy Verdecchio (the drummer) were posted online. The band’s official site and social media outlets all mirrored this in an effort to get the word out as quickly as possible. That’s when everything in the last two weeks started to happen. Band members and fans alike were overwhelmed with thankfulness that Five Iron Frenzy was back and its project was funded.

The events that make up the reunion story of a band loved by many are all to blame on the combination of events one day in June 2011: a band’s hope to play again, a misquoted saxophone player, and an inspired web designer.

Apple Steve Jobs

The Web Says Goodbye to Steve Jobs

Here is a small collection of website pages from
around the internet on October 5, 2011, the day Steve Jobs died.

You made the world a better place Steve. Rest in peace and Thank You.

Press Release Writing Sample

PRESS RELEASE: Chicago Couple Travels to ‘Star Trek’ World Premiere in Sydney

April 21, 2009

For Immediate Release

Chicago Couple Travels to ‘Star Trek’ World Premiere in Sydney

Chicago, IL – With just two weeks until the official release of ‘Star Trek XI’ in the United States, one Chicago couple flew to Sydney, Australia just to see the world premier.

That screening was at the Opera House and featured some of the cast and crew of the new film, including J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Eric Bana. No, this is not a celebrity couple, but Joel and Abigail Gratcyk are known to take last-minute international trips. Last year the Gratcyks took a four-day trip to Buenos Aries because the flights looked open a week before they planned the trip.

“On March 29 I was reading my normal online blog list and found out 300 tickets were going on sale for the ‘Star Trek’ World Premiere in Sydney, so I called Abigail.” said Joel recalling the events that led up to the trip. “She was on a trip for work and I didn’t want to make sure big plans without talking to her first.”

Abigail said she “was sitting in my hotel room on a layover in Pittsburgh and received a phone call from Joel, ‘The Star Trek movie is premiering in Sydney on the 7th. Tickets go on sale in an hour. Can I try and get some?’ I answered with an ‘Um, sure…? If you get tickets we’ll go.’ I honestly didn’t think he would get them.”

Out of the 300 tickets that went on sale the Gratcyk’s were able to get a pair. “It’s a pretty cool story to tell people. One Sunday I was reading online about the premiere and by that Friday I was on my way Sydney.”

After some sight seeing in the city on Sunday and Monday the couple attended the movie premiere at Sydney’s Opera House. Abigail was especially excited about being able to walk the red carpet. “I was made for this, ” she recalls. “That was probably my favorite part of the trip, or at least close.”

What did they think of the movie? Joel’s answer was that he “loved it!”, not surprising though because he has been a Trek fan for years. Abigail on the other hand was surprised that she liked the movie so much. “The movie was surprisingly good. I’ve never been a Star Trek fan, I’ve only ever seen a handful of episodes. This movie was not your normal Star Trek. J.J. Abrams is brilliant and the movie was nonstop action. It kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I actually really enjoyed it. Just don’t start calling me a Trekkie… yet.”

Joel and Abigail Gratcyk have lived in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood for the last two years or so. He is a graphic designer for a church in the west suburbs and she is a flight attendant. All interview and photo requests and can be directed to the couple at their respective addresses.

joel [at]

abigail [at]

Hi-Res images are available upon request.