Author: Julia Van Valkenburg

The 7 Blogging Rules I’m Always Breaking

Lately I’ve been thinking about all of the sort of universal blogging and social media marketing rules that I should be following, but don’t. The truth is, I break most of these rules despite knowing that they would surely improve my blog. But is Catch-all successful already? Well that depends on how you define success… In almost every way you look at it, my blog isn’t successful. I’ve been working on it for years and it hasn’t taken off yet and may never. But that’s okay, because I like writing and blogging and for that reason I consider it a triumph in my own terms. Catch-all is a place where I can share my writing, thoughts, and photos, and people will either read, look at it, and share it, or they won’t. And that’s okay. Though I’m still trying to figure out what the identity of this blog truly is and how to best support it, I’m also just enjoying the journey and not giving it much thought. But after working on this list it became clear that if I do ever …

Calling All Vegans!

If you’re vegan and use YouTube as a resource for recipes and information, please reach out to me! I’m preparing to present on Veganism & YouTube at the Pop Culture Association and American Culture Association national conference in San Diego this April, and am looking for insight from vegans who include YouTube as part of their online community. If that’s you, please respond to the following questions using the contact form below. Be sure to include your name, age, gender (man, woman, or gender non-conforming), location, and how long you have been vegan. If you were vegetarian before becoming vegan, be sure to include the number of years you were vegetarian before transitioning. Did watching a YouTuber or specific YouTube video influence your decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle? If so, what YouTube channels in particular? How often do you consume vegan material on YouTube? What channels do you watch and why? What sort of content are these YouTubers providing for you (i.e. recipes, lifestyle tips, animal cruelty information)? What other materials do you credit to influencing and …

Watch Abha Dawesar’s TED Talk: “Life in the ‘Digital Now'”

I don’t often watch or listen to TED Talks, but when I happen across one while endlessly scrolling online or listening to NPR – like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” – they always seem to emerge at the perfect time in my life. And I love novelist Abha Dawesar’s “Life in the ‘Digital Now,’” not only because she’s brilliant and speaks to so much about our digital lives that I’ve been trying to grasp, but her talk came into my life at the exact moment I needed it. I’m currently taking an entertainment business class at USC about digital technology and the entertainment industry. For the most part I thoroughly enjoy the course, but I wasn’t prepared for all of the focus on futurism and our likely destinies as tech-obsessed individuals and societies. Taking this class has made me realize that talk of a hyper-technological reality is personally anxiety inducing. And visions of a world filled with AR, VR, and AI are absolutely terrifying. I may be typing this blog post using WordPress on my laptop, and I …

Spring Break in Tucson

When this posts I will hopefully (sorry, I’m superstitious) be in Tucson, AZ for the week. Living next to the state you originated from – though worlds away – is nice in that if I need to come home or want to, I can. Other than money or time off, there isn’t much that stands in the way of my ability to go home. There’s no massive divide of time, distance, or red tape. When I miss my family or friends back in Tucson, I just imagine a map of the U.S., and how close I really am to them. I’m also grateful, especially in these politically turbulent times, that I don’t face the absolute inability to see my family or place of origin that millions of others do. The pain that they experience on a daily basis is truly unfathomable. And knowing that borders are just unreal, imagined lines, surely makes the distance even more insufferable. As I work my way through my last semester of graduate school, I’m trying to build a more efficient, sustainable, and enjoyable …

Fun with Vinyl

My boyfriend and I, after years of wanting one, finally invested in a record player. Though I’m guilty of romanticizing records, I can’t help but adore them. Albums are fun and beautiful. Rummaging is an adventure. Listening is an experience. Not only do vinyl records produce a spectacular sound, but they require an active listener. The Spotify experience, for example, is wildly different. I can just put on an artist, algorithmically driven radio station, or expertly curated playlist and listen passively for hours. But with records you’re constantly flipping sides, changing speeds, and pulling the disks out of their sleeves and slipping them back in again. You’re picking dust off the stylus, or wiping smudges from the vinyl grooves. This interaction with the physicality of the record itself is also something I appreciate about vinyl: that it’s tangible. I can hold an album in my hands and examine its cover or the dips that circle its surface. I have to move each record from one spot to another with delicate precision. I clean them often. To actually hold onto the medium from which my music comes …

Positive Change as an Individual

In these socially and politically tumultuous times, I think it’s important to reflect on what we can do as individuals to contribute to the greater good. While significant change is enacted by policy-making, progress within one’s lifestyle and personal relationship to society as a whole is also essential in creating change. Below is a work-in-progress list of ways I think an individual can create positive change. While I’m sharing this on Catch-all, it’s also a personal reminder of the many ways I can use my individual power for good. This list will always be evolving, so please comment below with any suggestions you may have. Ask more questions! Think critically, engage with new ideas, listen to your peers, confront your own problematic assumptions, and always look beyond the surface level Cultivate a community of friends and family who hold you accountable for your actions and words Support businesses owned by immigrants, women, people of color, members of the LGBT community, etc. Support the work of diverse journalists, artists, authors, and filmmakers, etc. Question the status-quo Avoid fast fashion and …

Resistance Podcasts

Here’s a list of some of the resistance-related podcasts I’ve come across in recent weeks. My favorite so far is BloomCast, by civil rights attorney (and fellow vegan) Lisa Bloom. Please be sure to share any relevant political podcasts that you’ve been listening to in the comment section. BloomCast: The Voice of the Resistance by Lisa Bloom Pod Save America by Crooked Media Trumpcast by Slate The FourFiftyOne by Summer Brennan Can He Do That? by The Washington Post Indivisible by WNYC And for additional resources check out this post, which I’m continuing to update. Keep resisting! ❤

Riding the Pacific Surfliner

This past weekend I rode Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego & back. Here’s a diary entry-style post about my experience: From industrial neighborhoods to the ocean, journeying on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego takes you through some of California’s distinct landscapes. Leaving from Union Station in downtown LA, the first views from the train are what I’d describe as hyper-industrial: cement trucks, train cars, wires, fences, and giant warehouses that are either overwhelmingly grey, or dotted with colorful graffiti. It’s dirt, metal, and cement for miles. The illicit art on buildings and walls – ranging from indecipherable messages to exceptional works of art – interrupt the monochromatic dominance of the landscape. Oddly enough, I think there’s something particularly beautiful about Los Angeles’ industrial and warehouse districts. The area isn’t at all glamorous, but the beauty is in its history and scope. Downtown LA is home to global industries and distribution centers. It’s where clothes are made and shipped internationally, and produce is organized and distributed across North America. Downtown is a hub …

On Nostalgia & the Home in “Fuller House”

Nostalgia-TV has had a recognizable presence in the American televisual landscape for the last decade – from Hawaii Five-O (1968 – 1980, 2010 – present) to Dallas (1978- 1991, 2012 – 2014), and beyond – but in recent years, producers and networks have turned to reboots and revivals more than ever before, as the film industry follows suit. This trend towards remakes and spin-offs seems to reflect an economic model – one that depends on a preexisting audience as an example of profit potential – but nostalgia’s marketability extends beyond those parameters. As a result of revisiting an idealized past, nostalgia-TV relies on capturing the attention of viewers for whom the past is romanticized and may represent a more stable time. In particular, the recent rebooting of popular family and child-oriented 90’s series seems to tap into a specific audience with newfound political and economic power. Netflix’s Fuller House (2016 – present), a reboot of Full House (ABC, 1987 – 1995), offers an example of a series intended to rely on a passive and non-critical …

Watch “Hate Rising” With Jorge Ramos

I first heard about Univision anchor Jorge Ramos’ documentary, Hate Rising, from an interview on NPR that aired in the fall (listen to Jorge Ramos in Hate, Politics, and the Trump Effect, and To Make ‘Hate Rising,’ Jorge Ramos Spent Time with Hate Groups), but didn’t watch the film until after the election. Surely, seeing this documentary following November 8th had a different impact than it would have had if I had watched it earlier, and post-inauguration viewing will again produce a new meaning. In the film, Ramos explores the concerning rise in hate in the U.S., speaking with members of the KKK and the “Alt-Right” (a young, tech savvy version of the KKK), as well as those effected by their deplorable ideologies and actions. While Hate Rising is a particularly difficult documentary to watch, I believe it’s necessary in this current political climate to know exactly what we’re up against. And due to the administration’s recent executive orders on the border wall and immigration ban targeting Muslims, this film is more relevant now than ever. Please watch Hate Rising and share it …