When “The Big One” Strikes

Spencer Schwendiman

According to studies highlighted on Live Science natural disasters have been rising in number and severity over the past few decades. On the other hand, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has found the overall trends towards personal preparedness are decreasing. In other words, with the increase of disasters, there is a decrease in people who are prepared to respond to them. These surveys haven’t gone unnoticed, however, as multiple agencies both private and public are working to fix the problem.

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The state of Utah’s emergency management division is hard at work trying to help its citizens prepare for a disaster, specifically earthquakes. The trend of decreasing preparedness is frightening for people such as Susan Collier who works with the Salt Lake City Emergency Management Division. Collier pointed out that FEMA has shown its response time to be about 10 days. With such a long time before the federal government can bring in aid, it’s no wonder the state is pushing so hard to get its citizens better prepared.

Getting started with preparedness is easier than some may think. The state government’s preparedness website, ready.gov, says people should be doing these three things, “get informed, make a plan and build a kit.” Another expert in the field of preparedness, Scott Stallings the CEO of PrepperCon, the largest preparedness expo in the United States, agrees with this. He added through an email conversation that, “the most important thing is to put together an emergency plan for everything from a house fire to an earthquake.” By knowing the disasters, or emergencies that you or your family are in danger of encountering you can best prepare a plan to overcome them.

Building a kit tends to be the first thing people want to do when getting prepared. It is something that should not be taken lightly, however. Stallings explains that FEMA has recently adjusted its recommendations from having a 72-hour kit to a 96-hour kit. This is due to the slower response time from FEMA and The Red Cross. An emergency kit should also conform to your plans and contain the items you’ll need to complete the plan.

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Collier says that simply having a plan isn’t enough. She stresses that those who feel they are prepared ought to “be ready to evacuate in 20 minutes or less.” This highlights the need to practice a plan regularly, much like a person should change the batteries in their smoke detectors regularly. For people with children this may be more difficult, as parents never want to scare children. A great piece of advice is to turn it into a game of sorts; teach the children how to get out of the house if there is a fire by crawling low, or teach them ways out of the house if there are obstacles.

There are many reasons why practicing a plan is important. For one it can show any flaws in the plan that may need to be adjusted. It can also create muscle memory that will kick in once an emergency happens.

Some of these steps seem simple to follow from a glance, however, the decrease in people becoming prepared shows that even the simplest of instructions may often go unanswered. When Collier was asked what she thought would happen if a serious earthquake hit Salt Lake City she directed attention to a video prepared by the California Division of Emergency Management that projected the statistics of loss after an 7.8 magnitude earthquake including: lives lost, fires started and cost of reparations. Much like the state of Utah, California is overdue for a large earthquake along the San Andreas Fault.

In the event of an earthquake, electricity and other utilities will stop working, we may be separated from our families, and hospitals and other key locations may be overrun or even shut down.

Stallings and Collier agree on a lot of things, the most resounding of which is their plea for citizens to start preparing now. Professionals all over the field have echoed this plea; some, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have even turned to zombies to get their message across.

No family should be driven to fear or desperation during an emergency. That is why so many people are turning to emergency preparedness, and urging others to join them.

Spencer Schwendiman

I was born and raised in the Salt Lake City area of Utah. I am studying journalism at the University of Utah to increase my abilities and credibility as an emergency preparedness blogger and podcaster. You can find more of my stuff at everymanpreparedness.com or by checking out “Are We Prepared, Yet?” on podbash.com



Stories by me:

How Teton Sports is getting more people outdoors

When “The Big One” Strikes

Meet Chevron’s Spokesperson, Mikal Byrd

By: Ray Stowers

Mikal Byrd loves the opposition and challenges life brings her. A native from Maryland, Byrd works in the oil industry which gets a lot of criticism. She is the spokesperson for Chevron and has been with the company for about four and a half years now. She moved to Utah almost two years ago and is now the Policy, Government and Public Affairs Representative at the Chevron Salt Lake Refinery.

Since moving to Utah, her lifestyle changed as she realized how much she loved the outdoors and hiking, perhaps even working out and staying fit. Her passion is helping give back to the community any way she can. It comes natural for her to lead and take on multiple responsibilities which is evident why Chevron has her in charge.

With Chevron, “My job is to protect the brand, engage the community and represent Chevron the best way possible.” Byrd appreciates the variety of challenges she gets to face with her job. One night she could be having dinner with the Governor, the next day she would be out at the refinery working with the guys, and the next morning she would be on a field trip to a conservation site with a group of 4th graders. “I really do have the best job in the world, I get a little bit of it all” she replies.

What are some things that make you proud of Chevron? “I am proud to say that Chevron really cares about the community and is always looking for ways to help out in any way through donations, scholarships, services and special projects.” On the Chevron website it states, “We contribute to the economic and social well-being of the communities where we operate by creating jobs, supporting local businesses and training the work force of the future.” In the past 3 years, Chevron has invested more than $170 million in education and programs to help further improve the quality of learning and hopefully in return improve the company itself. Wherever there is a Chevron dealership, the company strives to build lasting relationships with that community and aim to create prosperity for the future.

Some of the challenges Chevron face on a daily basis are “Making the community understand what we do. Where ignorance tends to be, people will fill in the gaps if they don’t know.” Her main focus is to educate the community on what Chevron is all about. Whether it’s through newspapers, social media, television, or the internet, Byrd’s job is to shed light on any grey areas or concerns that people may have on the company. Some of the problems that Chevron has been working on are air pollution and water usage. They’ve invested a lot of money to help find the best possible solutions. She says, “In the last 10 years we invested hundreds of millions of dollars to get air pollution down 90%.” Along with the environment, Chevron is passionate about community service. “The public should know how much Chevron really cares about the community and is always looking for ways to help out in any way through donations, scholarships, services and special projects. We are always looking out for the public’s safety as well and want everyone to know that we are the best at what we do by keeping our gas as clean and safe as possible, which separates us from all others.”

Byrd certainly sees herself retiring with Chevron. In 10 years from now she hopes to be working overseas for the company and do international projects. She is always optimistic about the future and she has no doubt Chevron will continue to flourish because of the high standards and ethic morals they stand by.

From Beauty Queen to Banker

Article and Photo by Adam Fondren


Fabiola Boscab at her desk in her bank branch

Fabiola Boscan at her desk

“When I feel the ceiling on my head my mind starts thinking, okay, what is the next step? What is your next adventure?” Fabiola Boscan says this with bracelets jangling as she taps the top of her head with the palm of her hand. Boscan is the manager of the US Bank branch inside Smith’s Food and Drug in Rose Park, Utah. She is much more than just a woman from Venezuela who runs a small bank branch inside of a grocery store. She has become pillar for the community of Rose Park.

Boscan was born in the coastal town Maracaibo, Venezuela, just outside of the capital city of Caracas, where she attended university. Interestingly enough most students in the business administration field where guided towards work in the banking industry, but she was told that she would never work in banking because of her poor English, which is a mix of rasp and melody with the rolling “r” of Spanish thrown in for added flavor. Much like everything else in her life, struggling with English has never stopped her. She attended two different intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to improve her spoken English. As Boscan says, “I’m going to be the best at one thing at that time,” whether the activity is speaking English or opening new bank accounts.

In Venezuela feminine beauty is a matter of national identity. In the last 10 years there have been three Miss Universe winners and one Miss World winner from Venezuela. Beauty has become a form of national currency. One in five women get plastic surgery. There are state run modeling academies. While Boscan considers herself outside of that world, she grew up being teased for being short chubby wearing glasses and having fairly bad acne. However, she has definitely taken many of the values from her country and made them her own. She is always clad in jewelry has immaculately manicured nails and six inch heels. She has perfect hair with highlights and is always fiddling with it. She clearly has a keen sense of current fashion. She came to the interview with a black blouse with perfectly matched black leggings and a high waist gold buckled belt. Her jewelry was loud and perfectly matched to her belt and stiletto heels.

Boscan is an extrovert with both her fashion and her technical knowledge, she is serious about what she does, who she serves and how she does it. She goes out of her way to create a sense of family for her customers. She is quite knowledgeable about banking, personal savings and credit management. But, she views being the manager of a branch as much more than giving accurate information. Her aim is to make their banking experience exceptional and an overtly pleasant and personal experience, a place where an underrepresented cross section of society can come and interact with a friendly knowledgeable ever present person. She is family to many and a friend to many more. She has wept with customers over the deaths of family members. She has become a guiding voice to many more. She views her role of not only helping people do banking but that of family and giving her customers a remarkable experience every single visit.

Boscan describes herself as a hungry person, someone always looking for the next phase. “I don’t want to be a branch manager for the rest of my life,” She says. Her mother always taught her to not be a quitter always pushing her to be a better person. She is feeling the ceiling right now and is eagerly looking for her next adventure.

Building the Boaz Brand

By Samuel Knuth

How many kazoos do you own? Probably not as many as Boaz Frankel. He says that he has “between 100 and 200 kazoos” in an upbeat, excited tone, and “about 60 or 70 are on display at the museum” at any given point in time. You read that correctly. Frankel owns and curates a kazoo museum in Beaufort, South Carolina.

For some, this may seem out of the ordinary. For Frankel, however, kazoo collecting is only one of several unconventional projects he is working on. Frankel is a media personality who has cultivated his brand and internet presence through enterprises that, while not setting out to specifically buck convention, definitely do not fall under the usual definition of particularly “normal.”

Frankel cut his teeth in media while he was a student of dramatic writing at New York University. On the Cusp, a late night talk show style program that Frankel produced, broke viewing records for NYU-TV, NYU’s internal television station. He then gained more experience in media by interning at another talk show, Last Call with Carson Daily.

Since moving home to Portland, Frankel has continues putting out content. “I’ve never really liked driving,” he says. He instead operates a scooter to get around his hometown of Portland. His apathy towards cars was the inspiration behind his “Un-Road Trip” documentary series. On his not-quite-so-road-bound adventure, Frankel crossed America over 10 weeks aboard 101 different modes of transportation, none of which were cars. Notably, these included a couch bike, a camel and a “motorized cooler.”

Between his early experiences with talk shows and his experiences with modes of transportation, Frankel’s preeminent new media project should come as no surprise: The Pedal Powered Talk Show. It’s exactly what you’re thinking: Frankel, on a bike, interviewing celebrities. Among other things, Frankel realized there had been no real innovations in the quintessential news van. It is big, bulky, and cumbersome as transportation. Frankel got together with his friend, an expert in building bikes, and between the two of them they came up with a unique design: a polished, executive-style wooden desk which houses Frankel and the recording equipment situated on top of a long bike with a low center of gravity. The desk-bike hybrid comes equipped with stands so that Frankel and his companion do not have to balance their way through an interview with the likes of Bruce Campbell.

The project that Frankel is currently working on is true his style. Podcasts are typically lengthy broadcasts, some upwards of four hours an episode. So, of course, Frankel had to spin that around. His upcoming podcast, “What’s Your Favorite Sandwich?” addresses exactly that question. He asks people to describe their favorite sandwich in as many or few words as the respondent would like.

Frankel attributes his particular brand of unique creative output in large part to his Portland heritage. According to him, people in Portland are always willing to support new, creative, and weird things. When asked about the divide between old and new media and his transition, he simply put it “I like doing fun and weird things wherever they’ll have me.”

Boaz Frankel is both man and brand. You can find out more about him and his exploits at http://stuffbyboaz.com/. There you will learn great facts about him and his projects, such as that three of his high school teachers all thought that he was a “pleasure to have in class.” His website and exploits are just like him: interesting, funny, and a little weird in all the right ways.

The life of a student athlete

Samuel Damiani de Barros

Lauren McCluskey loves being a student athlete at the University of Utah. McCluskey has being doing Track and Field since she was 8 years old. She has faced many challenges until she was recruited to do Track and Field for the U, such as injuries, but never got discouraged. McCluskey is always trying to improve herself.

Track and Field involves running, jumping for height and distance, and throwing for distance. “When I was 9 years old I started competing nationally,” said McCluskey. She has received many awards and she was a state champion during her freshman year in high school. “I got injured in high school and that was a challenge for me,” said McCluskey. Her mom has been her biggest support during the difficult times. She said that her mom would take her to different parts of the country to help her gain more experience. Even though she did not always win, her mom was always very optimistic about her potential.

The University of Utah is known for having a very prestigious sports program. Many high school kids from Utah and other states compete to be recruited and receive scholarships here. McCluskey’s success during high school got the attention of many schools. The U and five other schools contacted McCluskey in order to recruit her. She visited them all, but “when I visited the U I was very impressed with the facilities that they had and the coaches, I really liked the environment here,” said McCluskey. She also mentioned that she felt that the U had a good program for her major: strategic communication. She knew that coming to the Utah would be the right decision to make. McCluskey is from Washington State and Utah has become home for her.

Adjusting to being a student athlete in college was very hard for McCluskey. “The training is very intense and a lot harder than high school,” said McCluskey. She also thinks that college is a lot more competitive than high school. “I was very stressed out my first year here,” said McCluskey. At the same time she loves the university and the classes here. She has made many friends since she came to Utah. She is on her second year at the U, and her goal now is to relax more and enjoy more her experience. When I asked her about the hardest thing about living in Utah McCluskey was quick to respond, “I miss my family, but overall it’s a good experience.

McCluskey has many goals in her life. ‘’My biggest goal is to always improve myself, said McCluskey. Even though she is always busy with her classes, she always finds some extra time to go practice by herself. Her practice often lasts three hours and she mainly focuses on doing specific workouts that will help her prepare her body for future competitions. She believes that you can achieve anything in life if you work hard. Even though she has been very focused on her athlete life since she was 8, she has more goals for her life after graduating. “I want to find a career that I am passionate about, I also want to travel to new places,” said McCluskey. She has not been outside the United Stated and looks forward into that. She is not very sure about her career after graduating, but she has some interest on working with public relations. Despite the challenges of living away from her family, McCluskey is a true example of a person who works very hard to achieve her goals in life.



Mike Tuiasoa and Watchtower Café: The powers of caffeine and comics unite

Heilala Potesio

SALT LAKE CITY—The smell of fresh brewed teas, coffee, and the cafe is adorned with nostalgic memorabilia of comic book superheroes like Batman and Spiderman brings the inner child of any customer that walks through its doors. Watchtower Café is not a typical cafe but it’s inspiration from the childhood and personality of the owner Mike Tuiasoa, aka Tui the human.

Watchtower Café was established in October of 2015. It is a brand new cafe that replaced Coffee Connection on 1500 South and State Street. The coffee shop has attracted customers of diverse backgrounds mainly individuals who have a love for comics.

One customer on Facebook shared, “The atmosphere is wonderful and they have a wide selection of games to play. They have ample seating, so it never feels crowded and stuffy. And everyone is so nice here.”

Customers can enjoy weekly events such as board game nights, open mic displaying local talents within comedy and poetry, drink specials on Wednesdays, latte art night as latte masters dress up your cup of latte, live music, art galleries and geek hangouts to meet new geeky friends.

Initially Mike Tuiasoa was not interested in the food services industry. He wanted to do something different that was based on his childhood pleasure of comic books, action figures and Saturday morning cartoons.

Tuiasoa always knew that he was different from his own family but his conversation with his cousin who had similar interests inspired both of them to start a business involving their childhood interests.

“We both hated our jobs, we wanted something fun to do but it would be really cool to run a comic book shop,” said Tuiasoa.

He also realized the challenges of owning a comic book shop and then decided that they should run a cafe in which people can grab their favorite comic book and also enjoy a cup of coffee.

Since the age of 13, Tuiasoa has always kept his interests in comic books hidden from his peers and later on, even his wife. He always thought he was too old to enjoy them or too geeky that he would lose friendships and relationships. But he realized that reading comics has always been a hobby that brought him happiness.

Even in the darkest moments in his life he would find his happy place. Tuiasoa shared, “I grabbed onto the one time that I was happy in my life and that was reading comics, playing with action figures, watching superheroes and cartoons to bring me out of the darkness.”

Many have wondered how a Polynesian man would own a coffee shop based on comics. Reading comic books or owning a comic book shop is not common among the Polynesian community. Tuiasoa shared, “I grew up in Hawaii, I couldn’t find anyone else that was into comics or playing action figures.”

How has Tuiasoa been able to navigate his personal ethnic identity and also balance with his own personality? “I refer myself as a day walker like Blade in which I can be in both the geeky world and also be with my Tongan culture,” he said.

Tuiasoa’s love for comics and portraying his geeky personality has influenced the cafe. The place has transformed into his personality as if customers can understand his story. The cafe has been running successfully and has a strong social media presence that has raving fans. One fan shared on Facebook that, “It has quickly become my favorite place for coffee, and to meet up with friends over geeky interests, like card trading. The baristas make a fabulous cup of liquid heaven!”


From Vietnam to Salt Lake City Salon Owner

By Falande Swain


In 1984, a young women left her home, family and culture in hopes of a better future. At the time, Vietnam, her home, was a corrupt country where people couldn’t do what they wanted. The government was known for taking people’s money and opportunities for education were limited. Cindy Tran left her country to join her sister in America for freedom and to pursue her education. That was over 30 years ago, and today Tran is the proud owner of Sixth Avenue Salon in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tran welcomed me with a warm smile as I walked in and asked me in her strong Vietnamese accent, “How are you today?” I was always curious what it was about the beauty industry that interested her. This was a great opportunity for me to learn about her culture and how she was able to start her own business.

Going into the beauty industry was the last thing Tran thought she would do, since she moved to the U.S. to pursue her education. After high school, a friend suggested they go to beauty school. The idea wasn’t appealing to Tran at all at the time, but her friend told her that she should try it and if she didn’t like it she could drop out. After a month of beauty school Tran’s friend ironically dropped out and Tran stayed because she was actually loving the experience.

Learning English was by far one of the most difficult things for Tran. “I cried all the time when I went to school. You read and write and when people speak, it’s so different,” she said. She learned English from her niece and nephew but doing nails is what truly helped her. “I learn a lot when I do nail because my clients teach me a lot.” She said that Americans are really nice and always help her pronounce words the right way.

After her 1-year program of beauty school, Tran worked at a nail salon called Nail Master where she was able to shadow others and become better at her job. After four years of working at Nail Master, she was able to start her own business through the help of her clients. “They don’t help you with the money, but they help you to know where to go and how to open my own business,” Tran said. Her clients guided her to the places she needed to go to start her salon.

Sixth Avenue Salon is located on 480 East Sixth Avenue. The building was recently remodeled and has a beautiful dark blue exterior with big glass windows and doors. Tran opened Sixth Avenue Salon about 14 years ago. In addition to manicures and pedicures, she also does facials, waxing and body massages. She owns and runs the place by herself. If she ever gets busy she has a niece and a friend who she calls to come help her.

Tran has built a clientele over the years and provides services to regulars each week. She said that her clients have become her second family because she sees them so often. “I love when I make people look beautiful and making others feel good about themselves,” she said. Other than doing nails, Tran loves cooking with her husband. Tran says that people from Vietnam are really good with their hands and going into the beauty industry was a great way for her to start her own business. However, she hopes to open her own restaurant someday and her ultimate dream is to open a day spa.

How Teton Sports is getting more people outdoors

Spencer Schwendiman

The world of advertising has been completely changed by the Internet. A company would spend large amounts of money for billboard space or airtime on the TV or radio. Now, the Internet and social media provide opportunities for free or cheap advertising that reaches a larger audience. A great example of this evolution is the Utah-based outdoor gear retailer: Teton Sports.

Teton Sports is a small company based out of a single warehouse on the industrial side of Salt Lake City. They started with making backpacks that were a high quality product that people could purchase for cheaper than most products of equal quality. From there they moved to sleeping bags, tents, sleeping pads and cots.

Shawn Perry, the head of product design and marketing at Teton, spent years doing print marketing has helped Teton to avoid this dying system. In his opinion, using social media is a more beneficial system of marketing because it “brings people together.” Once he saw that Twitter was a way to bring a community of people together he helped Teton Sports co-create a twitter chat known as “Hikerchat” which is the largest outdoor chat on Twitter and trends quite often on Friday’s when it is held. The other perk of using social media for marketing, according to Parry, was the “instant feedback we can receive from customers.” He finds it is much easier to keep customers happy when he hears directly from them about a problem.

From Twitter they adopted a form of marketing many companies use known as an ambassador program. This program makes it possible for people from all over the country to get their hands on a product and share that on their own social media or with friends. Ambassadors are selected based on their ability to teach others about enjoying the outdoors or staying safe. Once selected, the ambassadors develop a strong relationship with the people at Teton Sports.

In order to do that, Teton decided that they would take their ambassadors on an adventure, hiking throughout Colorado, Washington, Oregon and other surrounding states. This helped to create a fun new idea to send the ambassadors throughout the country advertising Teton Gear.

The idea grew into a program that would send ambassadors all over the country. This is known as the Your Lead Van.

The van is handed from ambassador to ambassador and will be driven all across the country, even up into Alaska. They will stop at Sportsman’s Warehouse stores along the way and educate the store associates, as well as the general public on products from Teton Sports, Goal Zero, Merrell and Camp Chef.

This is part of their three-part system for the van, Parry explained, first is education, second is a thank you to the ambassadors and the third is a “trade-up program”.

The trade-up program is a way to say thank you to people who have helped them to grow as a company and help people who want to share in a passion for the outdoors. People can send their old, worn out gear to Teton via the ambassadors, and Teton will send them new gear that matches what they sent and then repair the old gear to give it to someone else. The best part according to Parry is when they “connect the two people through social media” that way, the person who donated sees the gear that they loved being used by someone else and bringing them joy.

Teton Sports’ motto has always been “get outdoors”. Now, according to Parry, using a mixture of social media and the “Your Lead” van they encourage people to do just that. To see where the van is going next, visit: http://www.tetonsports.com/yourlead.htm or follow the van on Instagram and Twitter by following @yourlead_van.

Malibu Jack’s: bringing fun Hollywood-style to Kentucky

By Angel Cortes

The ocean, palms trees, and entertainment as seen in Hollywood inspire the creators of a fun center, Malibu Jack’s to come up with an idea to bring a piece of California to Lexington and Louisville in Kentucky. Malibu Jack’s started as an idea when owners Terry Hatton, his son Bryan and his brother Steve sat together thinking what was going to be their next successful business. Bryan said that before Malibu Jack’s there was a scarcity of family entertainment in Kentucky. He mentions that there were movies theaters, ice cream places, but nothing that involved fun for all ages.

Hatton said, that “we  are looking for ways that the  community could embrace fun that will pass on generations to generations.” Hatton  reflects that he wanted to open a business where families could enjoyed a time together and convert Malibu Jack’s into a cultural center. Where fathers could bring their children to Malibu Jack’s and create a place that has the perfect setting for gathering the community together. “Malibu Jack’s is successful and great when customers and their families are able to enjoy time spent together,” he said.

They faced some challenges before they could open a business of such magnitude. The most challenging  was finding the right building. They wanted to find a place that was accessible to the people in the  community that could comfortably fit the attraction they had in mind, and close to the interstate in a growing metropolis. In Lexington the Hattons found a building of 50,000 square feet that was essential to the creative ideas that they had in mind.

One of the things that Hatton mentions is that they wanted to open the business as soon as possible. However,  they had some step backs because they had to repair some things in the building. Once they had done the repairs in the building they moved forward to build the first Malibu Jack’s in Lexington, Kentucky. The first business attractions were miniature golf, go karts, and arcade. The miniature golf is one of the main attractions. The miniature golf course include palm trees, waterfalls, and a big giant shark. One of the newer attractions is the Xrider. Is a 4d motion simulator with hydraulic seats that make it feel as if were really on a roller coaster with great graphics and wind “The success of Malibu Jack’s is making the customers happy and this is demonstrated by the returning of its clients,” Hatton said.

The Hattons employ a good code of ethics. They make sure that each individual is treated fairly, both customers and employees. What business skills did it take to make Malibu Jack’s successful? Bryan said it was  hard work, communication with people to make good deals, and his motivation to be able to help the community are the most important to him.. One of their goals is to open more businesses and continue to franchise, expand their business. Another of his goals with Malibu Jack’s is to make a certain amount of money per business quarter. Malibu Jack’s have customers anywhere from 100 to 2,000 per day. Because of the success of the first Malibu Jack’s in Lexington they opened another one in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Our company loves offering a place where friends and family members of all ages can come together and have a great time and make memories together while having fun at Malibu Jack’s,”

Bryan Hatton said. “When this continues to happen is when Malibu Jack’s is the most successful.”