“Hi Jeremy…..Okay, I have to go now.”

I write this from a hotel room in Phoenix with some time alone to finally process a goodbye to my paternal grandmother. Her life came to a sunset a couple of weeks ago on Thanksgiving.

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My grandmother, Margie Reardon (Nelson) 1933-2017

 

Even though her mind was fogged with memory loss and her failing body was resigned to a bed in a distant Pennsylvania nursing home, I was able hear her voice one last time.

My aunt held the phone close to her bedside. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember me.

“Hi Jeremy,” I heard with familiar enthusiasm. My aunt said she gave a “big smile” as she said my name.

I really want to believe this is the exact greeting my grandmother said to me on the day I met her for the first time at age 5.

I don’t remember much about that day in 1984.

I just remember seeing my father cry for the first time while I was trying to comprehend that this light-skinned woman named Margie Reardon (Nelson) was somehow related to me and that I should call her “grandma.”

The story of how my father tracked her down 30 years after his adoption is for another time. It’s too complex and too long to begin tonight. I know if I started, I’d be up writing until 2 a.m.

I will say her decision to give up my father 63 years ago has a profound and everlasting effect on my own personal identity today. The 17-year-old ranch hand she fell for back in 1953 in New Mexico is a complete mystery. He may have been oblivious to my father’s conception.

I wish I pressed my grandmother more about my father’s father, but those are waters I thought were too dark to explore, especially over the last few years as her memory dwindled.

I often wonder what it was like for her to see her grandchild for the first time that day in 1984……the child of the child she let go.

I had the blessing of seeing my grandmother a few times over my life. She came to my wedding eight years ago. She was the first to greet me after the ceremony with a big smile.

Now’s the time to say goodbye here, through the therapy of writing.

And as I come to a close, I just realized in the paragraphs above I described three greetings with my grandmother.

A day to reconcile a birth.

A day for a wedding.

A day to acknowledge an end.

“Hi Jeremy,” are the last few words she said to me. I’ll remember them forever as a beginning and an end.

I take comfort in that greeting and oddly, what she said immediately after:

“Okay, I have to go now.”

I understand grandma. It’s okay.

 

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My grandma at my wedding in 2009 

 

 

 

 

Don’t click on this link about gun control, because now is not the time.

How could you click on this link?

Shame on you.

Now is not the time to talk about gun control.

Shouldn’t you be sending your thoughts and prayers somewhere?

Okay fine, you’re here.

Let’s talk about bump stocks, even though now is not the time to talk about gun control.

At ANYTIME, while we’re not supposed to be talking about it, someone can purchase a bump stock, which can make a semi-automatic rifle fire like a fully automatic weapon, all within the confines of the law.

The shooter in Las Vegas had multiple bump stocks to enhance his weapons.

Bump stocks use the recoil of a gun to bump against your body and trigger finger in rapid succession for enhancement. Here’s a video of a bump stock in action. 

They are LEGAL and approved by the ATF.

These devices were pulled off the online shelves by Walmart and Cabela’s in the immediate wake of the incident in Las Vegas.

But let’s not talk about bump stocks and how lawmakers have tried in the past to make them illegal.

Let’s not talk about them now because we should be focusing on the victims who are already dead.

Let’s hope our thoughts and prayers are enough to keep a deranged madman from walking into a shop and getting more bump stocks.

Keep thinking about it.

Keep praying about it.

But don’t talk about it.

There and back again (the anchor chair)

Anchoring a newscast is like being the captain of a ship who takes the wheel after so many talented and hardworking people have toiled all day to make sure the boat is ready for sail.

You’ve got producers, directors, assignment editors, production crew members, etc.

There’s A LOT going on behind the camera.

Viewers are also on the boat. Some are enjoying the ride. Others are picking apart how the captain is turning the wheel and questioning his or her bias to the starboard or port side.

I absolutely love the job. It’s fun, especially when there’s a great crew of people making sure sailing goes smooth.

As I’ve been filling in as an anchor on a temporary basis, some of my old memories of sitting in the anchor chair back in Albuquerque about 12 years ago have been coming to the surface.

Perhaps it’s the scent of a freshly printed stack of news scripts that’s making me remember.

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The KASA Fox 2 set. Year? Oh geez…maybe 2005? 2006? That’s Jessica Kartalija who is now an anchor in Baltimore.

While I had fun anchoring then, it was extremely tough mentally since I had two roles at the same time.

Daily, I had to find a story and report for the 10 pm news on KOB. But before I went live for that report, I anchored the one hour 9 pm newscast on KASA.

I often had to sprint from the set of the 9pm show to another studio for the 10pm show.

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Going live as a reporter minutes after anchoring

My reporting duties and anchoring duties collided, literally at the same time, and I often had to forfeit concentration on one job for the other.

I often read the newscasts cold. I stumbled over words and sentences. I often couldn’t carry a script on air because I had no idea what was coming next. I was new. I was green on the set. Thank god YouTube didn’t exist then.

The gig, while exciting and a great opportunity, also had an impact on my confidence.

I often felt down on myself and second guessed my anchoring abilities, almost nightly.

The stress of trying to be perfect made my performances worse. I often took frustrations out on coworkers and producers who were just trying to beat the clock too.

Looking back at those times, I believe I was too tough on myself given the circumstances.

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Producer Zach Pearl (far right) reviewing my 10pm report just before I had to hit the anchor chair at 9pm. Producer Brian Close on the left is now in Colorado too and works as an attorney. Hi Brian!

I appreciate that experience even more so today. It’s taught me that taking time to craft a news script, even it’s just a 10 second blurb, is extremely important to make it sound concise and clear.

People have been asking me if I enjoy anchoring now that I’ve been filling in temporarily. I really do. I love it, especially with a perspective of being off the desk for the past 12 years or so. Plus I really love the crews I work with. They make the job cake.

It’s an extremely fun position and I’d like to hope my enjoyment for the anchor chair can be seen by people who’ve watched.

Anchors away!

 

All images in this post were taken by Gadi Schwartz who is now a correspondent for NBC News.

How I survive airplane turbulence 

While I may seem calm when turbulence happens, I’m running up and down the aisle of my mental fuselage like a terrified renaissance painting figure while screaming OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING DOWN….THE WINGS ARE GONNA FALL OFF. BYE WORLD. 

Is that flight attendant freaking out? Watch her face….if she looks worried it’s time to accept death. I think she looks worried. Shit. This is it. We’re gonna make the news. My body is gonna be shredded.  

Will a last will and testament survive on this Southwest napkin?

I sat in the worst section to survive this crash. Maybe if I jump before we hit land, I’ll live. 

I’ve been traveling by plane since I was 5 years old and fly often for work and personal reasons, yet there’s something about turbulence that jacks with my instincts. 

I know, thanks to the logical side of my brain, turbulence isn’t dangerous at all. But still, something deep down in my consciousness surfaces with silent terror. 

So how do I live through it? 

Just thinking about turbulence, you say, could make me more nervous, but I like to put on some mental armor before I find my seat. 

Before I fly, usually as I’m waiting in line to board, I read on my phone about how much turbulence planes can handle. 

Turns out it’s a shit ton and planes never really go down or are damaged because of the shitty shakes. 

This is a really good article by a pilot who also breaks down some comforting numbers. I have it bookmarked: 

About sixty people, two-thirds of them flight attendants, are injured by turbulence annually in the United States. That works out to about twenty passengers. Twenty out of the 800 million or so who fly each year in this country. – askthepilot.com

I also drink. Not a lot, but one to two beers just before and during the flight. This really helps me stay calm and feel good. 

The last long flight I took was from Washington D.C. to Denver. As we passed by a storm, the turbulence didn’t feel bad thankfully to some Fat Tires. 

I also try to get a window seat when possible. Focusing on the ground or at least looking outside decreases the sense of doom. An aisle seat might as well be a coffin in my book. 

And lastly, I know this sounds weird, but sometimes I’ll crank up some Rage Against the Machine or Metallica on my headphones. The aggressive music can put me in a tougher mood. 

(This article is not very metal….I know.)

Aside from turbulence, I really enjoy flying and traveling. 

If you’re someone who came across this post while searching about turbulence, don’t sweat it. 

Relax and take it easy. 
You’ll live. 
(I hope so.)

What happens when your Uber account is hijacked 

When I woke up to Russian text on my iPhone’s lock screen I knew something wasn’t right. 

This says a driver is on the way–one of the notifications I received
To sum it up, someone managed to hijack my Uber account and attempted to order several rides on two of my credit cards linked to my profile. 

These attempts occurred in Russia while I was fast asleep in the United States.

My banks were quick to stop the fraud as I waited on Uber to reset my account. 

Here’s what I learned:

This is common

A search for the terms “Uber” and “hacked” on Twitter will show users are regularly reporting their accounts have been hijacked in Russia. 

A podcast known as Reply All found this has been happening and explores how hackers may get access to profiles. 

So….how does it happen?

Uber has reportedly said it’s not the target of the hacks but that hackers are obtaining passwords from other social media accounts or from companies that have been hacked.

If you’re like me, you may have made the mistake of using the same password for several sites online. 

(Honestly, if I had a different password for everything I log into, I’d probably have about 20-30 different passwords. Who wants to do that?)

Anyways, hackers may get your username and password combo from large databases that have been hacked (LinkedIn, Adobe for example) and apply that to Uber to see if it works. 

The hackers can use special software to attempt “credential stuffing” according to one of the experts on the Reply All podcast. 

What to do

If you’re waiting for Uber to respond, try tweeting at their @Uber_support account. Be courteous and polite. Eventually I got a response from this account and then about two hours later I got an email with a link to reset my Uber profile. 

I’m going to be changing all of my passwords on every account I have using a password manager. These are apps that you can download that will generate passwords and then store them in a digital place for you to access when you need to log in. 

How long does it take to resolve?

It took about 12 hours for Uber to respond and then resolve my account. Other users have reported on Twitter it’s taken Uber several days to make the fix. Again, things may work faster if you approach Uber through Twitter. 

Sex & drugs in Denver’s library – inside the “Ban Book”

While investigating skyrocketing crime and overdoses at Denver’s main library, I was able to take a look inside the “Ban Book” used by security officers to stop those who are banned from entering.

It contains pages upon pages of people caught doing…..uh…..some really bad things inside the library.

I covered faces and names of the people in the book because I haven’t confirmed any official law enforcement action on these particular cases.

Here’s the cover. A three-ringed binder. It’s really thick and organized by month.

BAN_BOOK

The most egregious case I found in the book is probably this guy:

CHILDREN_MASTURBATE_CAUGHT

The Legacy Room is where the library keeps the table used in the 1997 G8 Summit that occurred in Denver:

Unknown Female

You can see a dude walking behind her in the women’s restroom.

SEX_IN_BATHROOM

This kind of thing seems to be common. This guy isn’t the only one…..caught.

masturbator

The book contains loads of people caught shooting up inside the library. It’s only May, and the book was quite thick with many of these cases:

IV_DRUG_WITH_KNIFE

The library bathrooms contain sharps containers, which are always full of needles. This woman apparently dropped her syringe right in front of library staff:

DROPPED_SYRINGE

The book also contains people who have been repeatedly told they’ve been banned. They don’t get the hint and somehow manage to sneak past security, like this guy:

MASTURBATOR_BANNED

This man seems to be a repeat problem for security.

refuse_service

During my time at the library, I noticed a few people come and go who seemed clearly agitated and perhaps under the influence. Here’s a shirtless guy creating a frustrating scene:

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Another guy who’s deemed to be uncooperative.

uncooperative

 

Again, the above pages are only a small fraction of the ban book.

I thought it was interesting people who make the book can be allowed back in the library if they have a talk with security and sign some sort of behavior agreement.

 

 

The 5 minutes in school that impacted my life the most

Below is an email I just sent to a teacher from my middle school. I tracked her down and just sent it today. I feel compelled to share the note since it’s Teacher Appreciation Week. The good teachers often may not know how powerful they really are. I’ve redacted her name for privacy.

Ms.  [REDACTED FOR PRIVACY],

I hope you don’t mind me addressing you that way because that’s how I fondly remember you.

I’ve been wanting to reach out to you for years and I hope this message finds you well today.

Funny it’s Teacher Appreciation week….so perhaps this message is fitting and timely to express my appreciation for you.

I don’t know how many hours, days, weeks and months I’ve spent in public schools growing up. I’m sure it’s thousands upon thousands of hours. But out of all of that time in school, there were five minutes that mattered to me the most.

Let me set the scene to one day back in 1993.

Back at Swope Middle School you taught Speech and Debate. From what I recall, this class was my favorite class because students were free to be themselves in such a positive environment. You made it that way. You were such a great teacher.

On this particular day I had a presentation.

Being a student who struggled with grades and essentially saw school as an obstacle, I, for some reason made sure I would do my best on this presentation. I wanted to impress you.

After I spoke before the class and received applause, I sat down and I remember feeling felt pretty good.

But here’s where something extraordinary happened in all of my time in the public school system.

You pulled me aside after class and sat me down near your desk. It was just me and you in the classroom.

You began to cry and then said these words:

“Jeremy, I honestly believe you’re going to make it someday. I really believe that. You’re going to make it.”

At first I felt awkward and sad you were crying and didn’t really understand when you said I would “make it.”

Then I understood you were talking about success in life in general.

As a C student and as kid who felt out of place in school with a dangerous lack of confidence in academics, I can’t express enough to you how much that five minutes impacted my life.

My mother and father worked hard to give me what I wanted growing up and they instilled in me with much confidence as a child.

However, you were the first person outside of my family circle, within the public school system to sincerely express your belief in me.

And since then, you were the only one. You were the only teacher to tell me I had talent and worth.

You were the first teacher to make me feel valued as a student. You saw more than my grades. You saw me for me. It didn’t matter at that moment that I failed English the prior year.

You did something powerful for me.

Anytime I was feeling down about myself, I would think about that five minutes. And I still do think about that brief moment often.

I’m not sure if you remember me or not since you’ve thought hundreds of children, and that’s just fine by me.

I just wanted to say I will always remember you. Always.

Thank you, from the very bottom of that middle school kid’s heart.

Jeremy Jojola

P.S. Today, I’m an investigative journalist for the leading television station in Colorado and have won some pretty good awards over the years for my work. I speak in front of thousands of people now. Quite the increase in audience since that day in Speech and Debate!  Thanks for your inspiration over the years.  All the best for you and your family.

Thinking about a DNA heritage test? Here’s my experience….

Growing up, I always imagined my ancestors in shiny medieval armor, living in cinematic-like glory as they entered the New World with perfect posture on horseback.

As a boy, I was always told I’m a descendant of the Spanish Conquistadors and thanks to dramatic exaggerations and illustrations in my sixth grade social studies book, I had this portrayal solidified in my consciousness. 

I knew I was some form of Hispanic, but that definition was confusing to me and nobody seemed to give me a clear definition of what that meant.

Perhaps American society’s tendency to compartmentalize race and heritage like a TV dinner tray has an influence on my yearning to know more.

During my early adulthood, I consumed LOADS of history books about the Spanish settlement of New Mexico in a quest to find out more about myself.

Of course what was omitted in elementary and high school came to light, raising many personal questions about by heritage.

Add in my father’s lineage and his unknown father, and that has compelled me to get a better picture of who I am and who my grandfather is/was. 

Taking the DNA test and the results

Two months ago I sent a vial of my saliva to Ancestry after spending about $100 on a DNA heritage test kit.

I’ve been hoping the results will help connect me to my unknown grandfather and help me have a tangible, visual connection to my somewhat confusing background.

As I opened up my results, I admit I was a bit nervous because the test has been known to fracture old family stories and long-held personal beliefs of heritage.

(Example: Why many people think they’re part Cherokee.)

Results finally popped open in my email this past week and I was somewhat surprised, and honestly relieved because mostly what I have been told has been true.

In summary, the results say the bulk of my lineage is 73% European and traces back to Spain, Scandinavia and the Germany region. Results also say I’m 17% Native American.   

The results also place me in a specific genetic community that is tied to the early settlers of New Mexico, which wasn’t surprising.

Here’s are my results showing percentages and two maps from Ancestry.

In Ancestry, I can see other family members have done some genealogy work, connecting my tree to the first Spanish settlers who came into New Mexico back in 1598.

The accuracy…..

In the DNA results section, Ancestry placed thousands of people who are considered my “4th cousins or closer” in a list that tops with people who are closer to my branch.

From what I can see, the test is quite accurate because it has connected me to known cousins who took the DNA test. The top cousin on my list is a known first cousin to my mother.

But then there are many other cousins who I’m dying to know more about. I can say this test has raised even more questions now about my lineage.

What’s happening now

Since I’ve opened up the results, I’ve been emailing my Ancestry.com cousins in an effort to find my father’s biological family tree.  

I’ve been getting a few interesting responses that have raised some hope I may be on the right road in tracking down my grandfather.

As I search for his family tree, let’s just say at this moment I strongly believe, based on a few responses I’m in the right forest.

I hope, once my father takes his DNA test, I’ll be able to whittle down with precision his relatives by comparing his DNA cousins with mine and perhaps, I’ll find the right branch.

Conclusion

The test does reveal an American story that isn’t all unique, however, it is unique on a micro-scale. I am a blend of native peoples and other immigrants from other parts of the world who came to this land for something better.

I find a connection to this country even more, because while my heritage is different from a southerner or someone from the northeast, all of us here in the U.S. share this land. 

We are all in the same orchard of many different trees. 

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From left to right: My great-great-great grandfather Anders Nelson who immigrated from Denmark to New Mexico. My great-grand parents Adolfo and Carmelita Blea, and my great-great grandmothers Carmelita and Lucia Lopez.

 

Why I switched to this LOUD-ASS mechanical keyboard

I remember the day, sometime in the mid 80s, when my dad brought home an IBM personal computer.

It was beige, heavy and clunky.

And the keyboard, which is considered one of the greatest keyboards of all times, was LOUD.

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IMB’s Model M – Hello Gramps! (via pcworld.com)

I remember learning how to type with my 8-year-old fingers trying to reach the home keys.

The buttons were big and boxy and each gave a loud, delightful audible KLICK when pressed.

Klick, klack…. Klick, klack…. Klick, klack….

Everyone in the house knew when someone was on the computer.

Over the years, technology has allowed keyboards to evolve with flattened buttons and minimal noise. Typing doesn’t sound like it used to.

WELL NOT ANYMORE!

A couple of weeks ago my new mechanical keyboard arrived:

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My new mechanical keyboard. I can type “arrogant” and “loud” really fast.

If you google “mechanical keyboards,” you’ll find loads of companies that make them for people who wish to travel back and feel that old school feeling. I got mine on Amazon for about $35. Not bad.

My new keyboard feels just like that old IBM classic, but with a nice makeover. It’s black and has some sweet backlit blue lighting. Keyboard, have you been working out?

The keys are raised like little volcanos and each one makes a loud KLACK when pressed.

Here’s a little video I made to illustrate the difference:

When I type, it feels like I’m actually typing and getting shit done.

It’s like a Prius versus a Mustang. Sometimes it feels good to press the pedals and get an audible response. Sup, ladies…..I can type 80 wpm on this sweet baby. 

For now my mechanical keyboard is working just fine, although I may soon become the office pariah with the noise.

Wanted: An attacker I once confronted (video)

I debated with myself about posting this story and the raw video (see the bottom of this post) because, admittedly, I act a bit douchey in the footage and this incident happened nearly a year ago.

However, with news the city is installing cameras to monitor crime at Denver parks, I felt compelled to put this incident out there, especially now since this case remains active in the justice system.

In short, I came upon a man attacking a woman at Denver’s Commons Park last June and I got involved.

I was spat on, police came and they eventually arrested the dude.

The attacker is Simplicio Mendez-Santos, 19, who has been charged with misdemeanor assault and is currently wanted on a warrant.

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Video Still: I came upon Mendez-Santos (blue shirt) with his hands around a woman’s throat.

I’d very much would like to see this guy answer for his crime.

The backstory:

Last June I was walking my dog at Commons Park when I saw a guy place a young woman in a headlock. He began throwing her around inside a brick structure at Commons Park.

There was nobody around seeing this and I felt compelled to stop the attack out of fear things would get far worse.

Video is the best witness, especially in situations when someone may be doing something wrong, so I began to record as I ran towards the direction of the attack.

As you’ll see in the video, Mendez-Santos was on top of the woman choking her as I ran up and started yelling.

The young woman escaped and after some heated words were exchanged, he spat on me.

Police responded and arrested Mendez-Santos. They took my video as evidence and filed a case against him.

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From the police report. They redacted my name when I requested a copy.

Mendez-Santos is currently wanted on the misdemeanor warrant for this assault case because he failed to appear for a court hearing.

Simplicio_Mendez-Santos
Mug shot – Simplicio Mendez Santos, 19, is currently wanted for assault.

What’s happening today:

I ran his background and it turns out this 19 year old already has quite an arrest history.

Records show he was arrested again for misdemeanor assault in Adams County about three months after the choking incident. He was convicted in the Adams County case.  

His first arrest dates back to November of 2015 for failing to appear in court on another case.

That brings the total number of arrests on his record to three. He’s only 19.

I’m not sure if the new cameras at Commons Park would have helped in this case because the attack was happening behind a brick wall, however, I do hope cameras will aide law enforcement when necessary.

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A montage of photos of the new cameras at Commons Park

Warning: Video contains loads of douchey statements made by me and loads of F-bombs. 

EDIT: I’ve removed the YouTube embed. You can see the video and coverage on my station’s website here.