A selection of work published under my own name.
Standard-operating-procedure for a ghostwriter is to sign a non-disclosure form. All work I do for my clients is strictly their property. Check out my ghostwriting credit list to see what kinds of writing projects I’ve done for my clients.
UTSA Creating Opportunities for Outliers
Originally posted on KonectEaze.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) recently announced an expansion of their cybersecurity and data sciences programs. This ambitious project is aimed at fulfilling a need in the future- qualified cybersecurity specialists and data scientists. The University of Texas Board of Regents approved a $70 million investment. Graham Weston, founder of Rackspace and a San Antonio area investor, has also contributed $15 million.
This new center will be creating thousands, possibly millions, of career opportunities in the cybersecurity industry.
There is another opportunity, albeit indirectly, that UTSA is creating.
An opportunity for an outlier.
Back in 2011, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the bestselling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, published Outliers: The Story of Success.
In Outliers, Gladwell argues that successful people, though hardworking, were uniquely positioned in history to take advantage of a new opportunity.
Within the first chapter, Gladwell breaks down the rosters of the NHL All-Star Team. These are the players who consistently outperform their teammates and rivals, the best-of-the-best.
And Gladwell points out a commonality among most of them- their birthdays.
Most of the NHL All-Stars have birthdays that fall within the first three months of the year. The reason for this is junior hockey leagues have the age cutoff at January 1st. All players born during that year end up on teams competing against each other.
Gladwell points out that players of a same age are not all the same. Those born in January, February, and March will have a slight age advantage. Thanks to their early births, they develop a little bit more than those born in the latter part of the year.
Thanks to this slight age advantage, these players perform just a little bit better than the rest. And when it comes time to pick the players to join the traveling teams, these are the ones who most likely make the cut. Thanks to this slight advantage, they find themselves on a team with dedicating coaching. Now the slight advantage becomes a more noticeable one.
This doesn’t mean all NHL All-Stars are born between January and March. There are still All-Stars whose birthdays fall between April and December. Gladwell’s simply pointing out that they’re in the minority here.
These players who have a slight advantage were able to turn it into an even bigger one when the right opportunity came along.
Gladwell goes on to identify other outliers who followed a similar path.
Take Bill Gates for instance.
Thanks to his enrollment in a private school, Bill Gates had access to technology few others had- the computer. He was part of a coding club at the time, and they were given a computer to work on during club meetings. They also were given a block of coding time at General Electric Computers. Thanks to this computer and the coding time, Gates and his fellow club members found coding interesting and fun.
By learning coding at a young age, Gates already had a firm handle on the topic when he reached Harvard. When his friend Paul Allen approached him with a business idea, Gates seized on the opportunity.
This would eventually lead to Microsoft and Gates status as creator of the personal computer.
There was an opportunity and Gates jumped on it.
At the time, coding wasn’t a well-known hobby, at least, not for kids. For Gates to have experience at such a young age, Gladwell marked him as an outlier.
The remainder of Outliers is full of examples of people, or groups of people, who fit into a strange criterion identified by Gladwell.
This set of criteria is mostly hindsight. Because who would know that computers would be such a hit? Or that coding would become so important?
But there’s one thing Gladwell keeps circling back to—seizing opportunities.
What’s UTSA Doing?
The University of Texas at San Antonio has been aggressively expanding their programs and working to establish themselves as a top-tier school in the United States.
On September 6th, UTSA announced plans to expand their cybersecurity and data science programs, as well as create two new facilities; The National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC), and the School of Data Science. These two new schools will be housed in a new facility. This new facility will be part of an ongoing plan to expand UTSA’s campus in downtown San Antonio.
According to Sean Attwood, the Senior Director of Workforce Management for SA Works, the new center will fill a widening gap in the cybersecurity industry. As the tech sector grows, there’s a need for more and more qualified specialists in this field. Some sources state that by 2019 there will be two million jobs in this field without qualified candidates to fill them.
UTSA’s expansion will go a long way in filling that need.
The Silicon Valley of Cybersecurity and Data Science
The creation of the NSCC is only part of San Antonio’s potential.
As more and more cybersecurity and data science jobs are required, UTSA is going to need to fill the classrooms first before they can offer qualified applicants.
But plans are already in place to fill that need.
UTSA, as well as school districts in and around San Antonio, has launched initiatives to help students get a jump start on the learning curve. Schools already have coding classes and specialized programs to promote interest in this growing field. A common practice among area schools is for students to pick a specific career track. Based on their choice, students will receive focused instruction for their chosen career path.
Getting students to think about this choice earlier is part of a larger initiative to create quality enrollment for colleges. Especially UTSA. With quality enrollment, students are more likely to enter a field related to their degree.
Thanks to these initiatives and efforts, San Antonio is poised be the cybersecurity capital of the nation. The city already claims the second largest concentration of cybersecurity and defense professionals after Washington DC and UTSA is first when it comes to cybersecurity education.
It also doesn’t hurt that the 24th and 25th Air Force Wings are stationed within the city limits. The 24th Wing concerns itself with the global cyberspace capabilities of the Air Force, specifically, cybersecurity. The 25th Wing of the Air Force is tasked with providing security throughout the Air Force overall.
With these two wings stationed in San Antonio, there’s an above-average number of trained professionals in cybersecurity, as well as data sciences, in that area.
As a result, there is an abundance of cybersecurity companies and consultancy firms that are headquartered here. According to Attwood, over 90% of those companies are working on government contracts.
What about the commercial side?
When commercial companies catch on to this, San Antonio will explode with potential.
Providing an Opportunity
As cybersecurity and data sciences grow in importance, the stage is set for another Bill Gates-like entrepreneur to rise in the ranks.
It’s likely this person (could be either a woman or a man) has already been born and is in grade school right now. As they grow and see the need for innovations in cybersecurity, they’ll most likely think up the next big thing.
One more point Gladwell made in his book- timing.
Gates, NHL All-Stars, and other successful people were typically born at the right time to take advantage of a new opportunity. If they were born too early, then they were too established in the “old ways” to take advantage. If they were born too late, then they were too young to have the skills or the freedom to take the risk.
The timing had to be just right.
As UTSA builds the NSCC and expands their Data Sciences department, we should also be preparing for that outlier to appear.
And it may not be one, but five, ten, possible a hundred outliers who come through the San Antonio area and end up changing how we see cybersecurity and data sciences.
Check out what’s happening with UTSA and the San Antonio area by getting the best internet deals. You can also find and download Gladwell’s Outliers to learn more about the opportunities that could lead to success and monumental change.
Has Disney Lost the Streaming Wars?
Originally posted on KonectEaze, Summer 2018
As Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu continue to expand their streaming services, other players are getting involved too. Walmart’s pumping up Vudu to compete and even Vizio has launched a streaming service of their own.
But where—oh where—is Disney’s?
The official word has been that Disney will launch their streaming service sometime next year.
In the meantime, other forces—ahem—other streaming companies are allowed to expand and amass subscribers. Moreover, Disney is still working on getting entertainment assets from Fox. Add to this the fact their Star Wars spin-offs came to a grinding halt following the flop-better-known-as-Solo.
Will we ever get to see a streaming service put on by Disney?
This slow reaction is vaguely reminiscent of history.
General George McClellan
On April 12, 1861, Fort Sumter was fired upon.
Historians have set this as the official date the Civil War started in the United States.
Abraham Lincoln, the president at the time, called up Union forces to head south and quell the rebellion. Unfortunately, most of the generals at the top of his list decided to fight for the newly formed Confederacy.
Lincoln found himself with few options.
Though not the first one he chose, General George McClellan was put in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan assumed command after the previous two commanders either performed poorly in battle or retired.
McClellan, who saw himself as a “Young Napoleon,” took his time to train and organize his men. He also complained that he didn’t have enough weapons and ammunition to supply his troops with. While he waited for the extra supplied, he drilled and trained his men.
Training men for battle was a good idea, but the Confederates weren’t going to sit around and wait for someone to come to them.
It would take an executive order from Lincoln himself to get McClellan to move…kind of sounds like what Disney’s doing now.
History Repeating Itself?
The Empire that is Walt Disney seems to be moving slowly.
Sure, they’re creating movies, TV shows, and other content. Don’t forget their parks, cruises, and merchandise.
However, it doesn’t seem to be moving quickly.
Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, however, are putting out new content almost daily. Walmart, through subsidiary Vudu, is getting into the streaming game as well.
Now Visio has a new streaming service too. It’s not anywhere near Hulu or Amazon, but it is a start. Vizio has taken a selection of OTT (over-the-top) channels and made them free through their TVs. A bold move. Sooner rather than later, they’ll probably have a channel with original content on it.
Yet, Disney has done nothing.
Much like McClellan, they’re sitting there doing the same thing day in and day out. While McClellan drilled and trained, Disney is rebooting movies and turning movies into shows.
A good plan, no doubt, but it’s not groundbreaking. At. All.
It appears they think they’ll be able to ride their name brand until the sun dies out.
But history proves that to be a foolish idea.
Disney’s Late to the Party
Netflix does have a lot of Disney content, as well as Disney-owned properties available. That seems to be working for them.
Rumors were circulating years ago that Disney would launch a streaming service. Those rumors have been proven correct. However, it’s still been years.
Had Disney committed to the new streaming service even two years ago, it would have happened by now. Instead, they seem content with trying to get most of Fox’s entertainment assets and create Star Wars spin-offs.
While I can’t speak with much authority on the first item, I can speak about the second.
The Dark Side
When I first saw Star Wars, I thought it was awesome. And what seven-year-old, growing up in the early nineties, wouldn’t love Star Wars?
Then the special editions came out, and I thought those were cool. Episode I was next, and I was sure we were on the cusp of a new era in movies.
It turned out that we weren’t.
The prequels didn’t do too well, and even in my young age, I got a feeling that these movies weren’t all that they could be. Looking back now, maybe I was too harsh.
Think about it for a minute; a young man, going through the awkward years of his life, looks to the heroes of yesteryear to inspire him. And that inspiration doesn’t come.
Instead, we got a whiny Anakin, and Jar Jar Binks.
It was as if Hollywood reached down from their stacks of money and slapped me across the face. “The force is not going to be with you, ever!”
Well, you learn to live with it and move on.
When Disney bought Star Wars, I had a little hope.
Then they hired JJ Abrams.
All hope was lost again.
When they started producing spin-offs, I thought they might have some merit to them. By that time, I had kids to take care of and going to the movies wasn’t high on my priority list.
When Solo debuted, I was curious…then I saw the headlines. I couldn’t help myself when I read what they had to say, and I laughed. The film didn’t perform as expected. As a result, the future spin-offs found themselves on pause.
I guess the force wasn’t strong with them?
What Disney Can Do
Derek Thompson of the Atlantic Monthly pointed out how Disney could rise and become the dominant entertainment company once again.
In his article, “Disneyflix is Coming. And Netflix Should Be Scared.” Thompson detailed how the behemoth could indeed show its size.
Instead of launching just another streaming service, Disney could pull all of its content off of the other streaming services, as well as its cable channels, and put it all onto one big streaming service. Add in their original movies and the Star Wars properies, and they’d have a unique offering.
Netflix and Amazon might lose about 10% each from their subscriber base, but both companies don’t seem to be worried about this.
Thompson takes it a step further.
Make merchandise available through the streaming service. Do you want tickets to a Disney park or a cruise? Put that on the streaming service as well.
Now Disney wouldn’t have just another streaming service. It would be everything under one roof.
Thompson has dubbed it “Disneyflix.” I call it “Disney on Steroids.”
While such an endeavor would be a boon for the company, there could still be problems. Putting everything under one roof may work for Netflix, but Disney hasn’t operated like that.
To pull their content off other streaming services would mean consolidating. To make it work, Disney would have to market it as they’ve never marketed before.
However, what am I saying? Disney’s a huge company, they should be able to pull off a move like this and make it work.
That is if they decide to do it.
The streaming service has been set to launch in “late 2019.” A lot can happen between now and then. People could change their minds, and Disney may decide not to go through with the plan.
Whether Disney launches a streaming service or not, you at least have the option of finding the best internet and cable bundles. This way you save some cash and cut down on the number of bills you have.
Eventually, just like McClellan, Disney will be forced to move.
By then, hopefully, they’ll have a solid plan in place.
Five Ways to Stop Teddy Maynard
Originally Posted on KonectEaze, late 2018
On August 15th, 2018, Google finally published an archive of all the political ads across its platforms. Included in this report are results from Search and YouTube. Dubbed “The Ad Library,” Google is reacting to lawmaker’s insinuation that stricter laws could be passed if they don’t make a move towards greater transparency.
Good news for voters.
Bad news for Teddy Maynard.
Back in 2012, John Grisham published “The Brethren.”
Aaron Lake, a significant character, is a representative to Congress from Arizona.
He’s affable, good-looking, and well-connected in Washington DC. Everybody likes him, and he doesn’t make a fuss. However, he doesn’t seem to want to move up in the party at all.
That is until he meets Teddy Maynard.
In the world of “The Brethren” Teddy Maynard is the Director of the CIA. Although he suffers from ailments that plague him continually, Maynard is just as cunning and shrewd as ever.
Maynard is also worried about a specific political figure in a foreign land. Given he’s in charge of the Central Intelligence Agency, Maynard is aware of a great many things. The United States general population, however, is kept in the dark.
At the beginning of the book, there’s a presidential campaign that’s already underway. The front-runner is not someone Maynard is fond of. It has very little to do with the man’s personality and more to do with his politics.
This guy’s soft on foreign defense.
Maynard wants someone in the Oval Office who is tough…which is why he’s keen on Aaron Lake.
Lake is likeable, and with the right amount of money behind him, Lake could be the sleeper hit for the upcoming Presidential Election. All they need to do is find contributors and staff. With Maynard’s connections and a long list of favors, it’s possible. Difficult, but possible.
So, Maynard sets off to disrupt the election.
I should mention “The Brethren” was published in 2012 before President Trump was elected. Before the accusations of Russian collusion. Maybe Grisham knew something?
Whether he did or not, Teddy Maynard presents an interesting scenario; The Director of the CIA who is messing with a federal election and no one being the wiser.
It’s 2018 now. Google’s launched their political ad archive. Should Teddy Maynard have tried to pull off his little covert plot, it would have been a lot more difficult.
Thanks to Google’s archive of political advertising and a recent report, here’s why.
The Ad Library tracks the money
Google’s Ad Library is logging ads that appear on its platforms, and this includes Search and YouTube. It’ll list who paid for the ads, a rough estimate of the cost to deploy the ads, and how many impressions each ad received.
For Teddy Maynard to start running ads now, someone is going to be watching him. Well, maybe not him specifically. Maynard’s plan was to get others to fund Lake’s campaign. He’s got the favors, and he’ll be cashing them in. In return, Lake gets a lot of money, really fast. These contributors can then run ads on behalf of Lake.
With the Ad Library and similar programs from other social media sites, all these contributors are listed. A swift uptick in spending on a candidate, like Aaron Lake, will catch someone’s attention.
The concurrent report Google released with The Ad Library will list keywords. Specifically, keywords that advertisers are going after. These keywords are linked to demographics and critical audiences.
A watchdog agency or a very concerned public citizen could find that specific keywords are being targeted more than others. When this happens, Teddy’s going to get found out.
Spending by State and Congressional District
Beyond the keywords, there’s the spending by State and Congressional District.
For the battleground states or swing districts, Teddy will likely spend more money on advertising here. His goal is to garner more and more favor for Lake in these areas.
As the old saying goes “follow the money.”
This would be another way to catch on to Teddy Maynard and expose his evil scheme.
Only Federal Campaigns
As of this writing, The Ad Library is focusing on federal elections only.
Good news for Teddy, if he were trying to rig a state senate election or the election of a city. Though bad news for someplace like San Antonio. Someone could seize control of a smaller area without the ad archive tracking them.
However, Maynard’s going for the big one.
Issue Ads Not Included
While there are plenty of ads for and against candidates, there are also issue advertisements.
These issue ads, though sometimes annoying, are meant to raise awareness. Should Maynard seek to sway the public to vote on issues, this could still work for him. However, elections are increasingly about the person running for office and less about the issues.
Case in point, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.
This most recent presidential election was between two people whom both had rabid supporters and vengeful critics. Moreover, there were those people stuck in the middle who liked neither candidate.
Instead of talking about issues, the media focused instead on something else. The main topic in 2016 became “who is the better person?”
Not “what’s their stance on X?”
While their positions were part of the discussion, inevitably, it came down to who was liked more. If someone disliked both candidates equally, the question became who was less of a horrible person?
Both had their flaws, and some of those flaws got broadcast louder than others. Both had their skills and strengths. Ultimately, it was about which person was a better person.
When evidence surfaced that maybe someone, from outside the US, had been working to disrupt the election, things got worse.
Hence, the push for transparency in political ads.
Does Teddy Succeed?
While Teddy Maynard’s dubious plot to get Aaron Lake elected is a significant part of “The Brethren”, they are not the main characters.
The eponymous “Brethren” are three federal judges who’ve come to find themselves in federal prison. Each one has committed some crime, and as a result, they’re now serving time. To pass the hours, and to earn money, they’ve taken to running a scam. This scam gets embroiled in Teddy Maynard’s scam. Only John Grisham could write something like this and make it entertaining.
I won’t ruin the ending, but rest assured, bad things happen and mostly to bad people.
Go pick up a copy of “The Brethren”.
You won’t be disappointed.
As mid-terms approach, politicians running for office, or running to keep it, are wary of someone messing with the election for the sake of disruption. While they work to manipulate voters and constituents, someone may be managing them. That’s not a fun way to think of the next election.
The good news is that Google, along with other social media platforms, is pushing for more transparency. They’re digging into their advertisers to find where the money comes from and how many people are affected by it. With this knowledge, we’ll have a better idea of who’s getting involved.
While these moves may not erase disruption and manipulation, they will make it more difficult.
In the meantime, do your research into your favorite candidate. Also, pick up a copy of “The Brethren”. Who knows, you may find a real-life Teddy Maynard!
Moreover, check out the best Spectrum internet deals in your area while you’re at it. You’ll get to research the issues, the candidates, and save some money in the process.
For more news on Google updates, and book reviews, keep your browser open to On The Download.
Digital Literacy: Seeing Through Technology
Originally posted on KonectEaze, October 2018
Digital technology is a fantastic thing, but not without its dangers. Which is why we need digital literacy.
Digital literacy provides a means to see through technology for what it is.
Look at it this way, you’ve traveled to a new city. It could be Chicago, New York, or even somewhere a little less glamorous, like Dallas, TX. These new cities can be filled with amazing things to see, terrifying in scale, or both.
And they’re not without their dangers either.
As you walk down a crowded street, a man is inviting you to play a game.
“It’s easy, just watch the ball,” he says as he places a ball under one of three cups. He proceeds to move the cups. You follow the cup you know has the ball. He moves the cups around but not too fast that you lose sight of the right container. When he’s finished, he lifts it to reveal that, indeed, the ball is still under the right cup.
“Want to play?” He asks. “You win, you get double your money back.”
To play, you need to pay five bucks.
You hand over your five-dollar bill, he pockets it and places the ball under a cup.
The cups move a little faster this time. Not too fast though.
You follow the cup until he stops.
You point to the right cup.
He lifts it to reveal there’s nothing there.
Seeing Through the Con
It’s a standard street con. The method behind it has been modified many times to use different elements for different situations.
You could say it’s a magic trick, but magicians do this to entertain, not take your money.
On the internet, there are many cons. Some of which are blatantly obvious. Has anyone gotten an email from a deposed prince of a foreign nation?
Others are a little cleverer. I once got a bill in my inbox claiming I’ve purchased an expensive program. Of course, I didn’t. But I wanted to make sure my bank account wasn’t hacked. So I check my bank account and no money is gone. This is good.
I sigh in relief and go back to the email.
There’s a convenient link at the bottom to confirm the billing information.
I deleted the email right then and there.
And then there are the cons that don’t involve money at all. These are the more nefarious ones as they want you to believe something that’s not true. Or take information from you.
Digital literacy is a means to see through the cons out there on the internet and protect yourself. It’s a field of instruction that’s growing. But not enough people are aware of it yet.
In response to some inauthentic profiles and growing concerns with protecting subscriber data, Facebook has launched their Digital Literacy Library. This accessible online repository is full of lessons, activities, and articles to help subscribers become more digitally literate. The Facebook Digital Literacy Library, however, can’t teach you how to detect CRAP.
This isn’t to say Facebook’s Digital Literacy Library IS crap. It’s a useful tool. And it’s an excellent place to start. But it’s lacking information on discerning fake news from real news and more.
For that, you’d need a comprehensive curriculum.
In 2010, Diana Graber taught her first digital citizenship class.
The school had just witnessed its first ever incident of cyberbullying. Graber, having earned a Masters in Media Psychology and Social Change, offered her academic knowledge to prevent similar incidents from happening again. The goal was to teach students the life skills needed to be wise and competent digital citizens.
And since the subject matter involved technology, Graber brought in technology to help teach the concepts to her students.
It began as one class once a week class for only the 6th grade. The class grew in popularity and became a full three-year curriculum for middle school students.
The coursework begins with a foundation of understanding digital citizenship. Upon that foundation, students learn about cyberbullying, sexting, researching, and of course CRAP.
CRAP is the acronym used to teach students how to tell if an article or post is fake news.
Is it Credible?
Is the source Reputable?
Who’s the Author?
And what’s the Purpose of their Point-of-View?
Now, Graber admits with a smile, students look forward to the class where they get to learn about CRAP.
Students have also expressed more significant interest in this class over other subjects. One went as far as to say “Why do we have algebra five times a week and only come here once? We’re going to use this way more than algebra!”
Cyber Civics has expanded from a pilot school in California to 41 states and four countries.
For students, and parents, who attend a school where Cyber Civics curriculum isn’t taught, there is a homeschool option available. If there’s just not enough time in the school day to cover the entire curriculum, Cyber Civics offers a condensed version of their Level 1 material.
There is also a family option. This curriculum isn’t restricted to students who attend a school where Cyber Civics is taught. It’s available on their website for download. Any family can order it to learn more about digital citizenship within their own home.
Diana Graber also has written a book full of information gleaned from her first eight years building and teaching Cyber Civics; Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology.
The book details the fundamentals of Cyber Civics, lessons to do at home, and more information. It’s a great supplemental resource or introductory course to Cyber Civics.
Why Become Digitally Literate?
Anyone and everyone who goes online is a digital citizen. To survive in a digital world, and to not let it control us, we need to become digitally literate.
And much like Chicago, New York, or even Dallas, the internet is a place with both people who want to help and people who want to hurt.
Everywhere we go on the internet there is someone who can see what we’ve been doing. Some may think what they’re doing won’t matter to the larger crowd. But what if someone decides to look at the digital footprints you’ve been leaving?
A scammer would know where to look.
And much like the street con, these scammers can either get your information out of you directly or by seeing where you’ve been. Once they have it, then they can use it against you.
Then there are those who aren’t scammers but are trying to gather people to their cause. It may be a noble cause, it may not be. Or worse, they’re trying to spread false information.
With a program like Cyber Civics, you’ll at least be able to discern if there’s CRAP.
Why is it Important?
Digital literacy programs aren’t meant to restrict students from getting on their phones. Instead, it’s intended to equip them to handle the technology properly.
Kids today spend up to 11 hours per day on their phone. That’s half of the day just on their smartphones. That’s a lot of time being exposed to a whole world of information.
It’s not easy to monitor.
Kids are also very perceptive and can pick up things quickly, especially when they’re interested in it. Smartphones will hold sway over kids, even adults, for a long time. Wouldn’t it be better to build a mindset that prevents the technology from controlling them?
Facebook’s Digital Literacy Library, though not sufficiently comprehensive, is a good place to start. For the good stuff, check out Cyber Civics. They even have a few free lessons you can work through.
As you learn how to become digitally literate, you’ll learn how to avoid being conned.
Posted on CityOf.com/sanantonio April 2019
San Antonio is a great city.
So great, in fact, that every April the entire city- a city of 1.7 million people- has a party. And not just a party, but a party with a purpose! This is Fiesta San Antonio.
No matter where you are in San Antonio, or even if you live close by, you won’t have to go far to find an event connected to Fiesta. With 113 events over eleven days there are plenty of opportunities to participate.
Earn Some Cred
A common tradition during Fiesta is Fiesta Medals! What first started as a small promotion for the local military presence to get involved in Fiesta has become a way for all businesses to promote fun and enthusiasm. These medals are custom made by businesses all over the city. They typically go on sale early in the year and sell out quickly.
Don’t worry if you miss out on a chance to buy a Fiesta Medal from your favorite business, you can go to Pin Pandemonium during Fiesta at Hemisfair where you can buy medals or trade with Fiesta Medal hoarders. Then get ready to wear these with pride around the city, denoting you as a legit Fiesta participant.
Spread Good Luck
Another key part of Fiesta San Antonio is the cascarón. These hollowed out eggs are colored and filled with confetti. Buy them by the dozen, or two dozen, at your local grocery, convenience, or roadside stand so you can be prepared for a Cascarónes Party. It’s common to see these parties happening everywhere during Fiesta. As a sign of good luck, cascarónes are cracked over the head of a loved one or friend. You can see who has the most luck by the amount of confetti in their hair. So don’t shy away when a friend approaches you, cascarón in hand and a smile on their face.
The cascarónes party is integral to all Fiesta events. Especially at the very first event, Fiesta Fiesta. During this party you’ll meet your King Antonio and El Rey Feo. These are the Fiesta Royalty who reign over Fiesta and San Antonio for the following year. These, and about fifty more kings, queens, princesses, and princes, are all part of the Fiesta experience. Most of the Fiesta Royalty earn their titles by raising the most money for their organizations during the previous year.
As part of the grand spectacle of Fiesta Fiesta, King Antonio and El Rey Feo have their neckties cut. This is to emphasize the comfort of Fiesta and really, who’s comfortable wearing a tie to an eleven-day long party? After the ties are severed comes the most important part- El Rey Feo and King Antonio have cascarónes cracked on their heads. From then on they’ll have good luck for Fiesta.
Stick around Fiesta Fiesta as traditions are introduced, entertainment is provided, and of course, there’s food too!
Which Event to Go To?
Given that there are 113 events planned for this year alone, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. The more popular events are…
NIOSA (Night in Old San Antonio). This event is held in La Villita and put on by the San Antonio Conservation Society. A four night event, welcomes more than 17,000 participants who enjoy music, food, and of course, drinks. For such a small village, NIOSA will have 200+ booths and 15 culturally themed areas. Though there will be a large crowd, it is a lot of fun to visit, so make sure you get your tickets for this event.
Fiesta Gartenfest celebrates San Antonio’s German heritage. This means plenty of beer and German food. Well worth the ticket for a taste of authentic German food. There’s also a concert of the Beethoven Maennerchor, the oldest active singing society in Texas. If you’re late to this event, you may miss out on meeting Fiesta Royalty. And I’ve heard there’s a chicken dance as well.
Fiesta Arts Fair is put on by the Southwest School of Art. Here you’ll see art pieces from artists all over the country. There’s also the Youth Art Garden where kids have the opportunity to work with professionals to create their own masterpieces.
Battle of the Flowers Parade. The event that started the whole thing, this parade has been going since 1891. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the various floats that highlight San Antonio’s history and culture. Just make sure you find a good spot along the parade route to watch the spectacle. Some businesses sell premium seats, so check out The Battle of the Flowers to view the parade route and plan where you want to catch the show.
UTSA Spring Football. The University of Texas at San Antonio is hosting a special spring football game at Dub Farris Stadium. This FREE football game gives you a chance to see tomorrow’s NFL talent play at one of the best stadiums in the city.
Growing Up Female is a workshop for teenage girls in grades 6 through 12, presented by the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. This event is packed with speakers, engaging activities, and a chance for girls of all ages to talk about the issues faced by all!
Fiesta Mariachi Mass. Come down and see the Fiesta Royalty in person! For 22 years Fiesta Mariachi Mass provides a blessing for all Fiesta Royalty, Fiesta Commissioners, and even the participants. Open to everyone, regardless of faith, this event precedes the official start of Fiesta, tying in the long history of the Catholic Church and the cultural heritage of San Antonio.
This is just a sampling as there is also Fiesta Carnival, Senior Fiesta, Taste of the Republic, Pop Up Fiesta in the Galleries Exhibition at Witte Museum, and so much more.
The real question is, where do you start?
Party with a Purpose
Fiesta San Antonio isn’t just a yearly celebration of our city’s culture and heritage, or an excuse to party, or an excuse for local schools to take a day off–Fiesta helps San Antonio’s economy.
After the 2017 Fiesta, the University of Texas at San Antonio conducted an economic impact study and revealed that Fiesta contributed over $340 million to the local economy! This means all the tickets, medals, cascarones, food, drinks, and other souvenirs you purchase are helping a business, a non-profit organization, or a community initiative throughout the following year.
So don’t wait to join in on the party.
Mark your calendars; this year Fiesta starts on April 19th and ends April 29th.
Go Party with a Purpose!