Month: March 2011

[video] Travel baggie hack!

[watch Travel baggie hack on YouTube; running time 3:01]

Amazingly simple tip that has helped quell my (considerable) anxiety about arriving or departing without mission-critical dongles, USB cords and other electronic doodads when traveling.


  • the appropriately-sized zippy freezer bag for electronic crap
  • an index card and writing device

What you do:

  • make list of the crap that goes with your crap on index card
  • stick in bag
  • check list ITEM BY ITEM when packing on either end

As I show in the video, you want to account for all moving parts, as it were. So I don’t just list “remote”, I also list “USB stick for remote” and “hideous foam case for remote.” (Well, I abbreviate.)

And don’t forget: putting your name and number on all your stuff makes you a nerd, but it makes you a nerd with a much higher chance of being reunited with your crap if the two of you become separated.

Questions? Comments? Improvements? Leave them in the comments!

Thanks, and safe travels.


Tip via my pal Sean Bonner, who probably doesn’t use it anymore because he is a mad-crazy citizen of the globe and travels light.

The 24-hour writer (or, “It’s not you, it’s You of the Past”)

food log (with bowel movements noted!)

Warning: while this essay is really about writing, it contains highly descriptive talk, and quite a bit of it, about poop. If you’re very sensitive to poop-talk, you may want to skip it. Plenty of other stuff for you to read on the interwebs!

Back when I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and trying to figure out this crazy new way my body was functioning (or not), I kept several diaries.

The first was a diary-diary, where I’d blather about what was happening in my brain and my heart because of all the upheaval in my gut. This is the diary that kept me sane, along with a few very carefully chosen friends who were good at dealing with illness and could either look at me without draining of color or talk to me like this was just something I was going through, not something I was destined to be.

Within this diary, I also kept a kind of secondary diary-slash-visualization-map of my gut healing, drawing my poor, broken colon every day with all of its current inhabitants: the Asacol, prednisone, Cipro, and mercaptopurine; the “bad” bugs that had taken up camp and brought me to my knees; and the “good” bugs that I was now sending in via massive infusions of SCD-legal yogurt. I added callouts and anthropomorphized the bugs with little faces and talk bubbles, using a lot of gentle encouragement to usher them out, with plenty of “Thanks for the help, we’ll take it from here!” reassurances from the new troops.

But in addition to all of this fairly squishy emotional stuff, I also kept a ridiculously comprehensive third diary of input and output. By which I mean I wrote down everything that went into my body and everything, including the quality and consistency, that came out. We called them “food logs” in SCD parlance, but let’s face it: they were poop journals, filled with page after page of Mr. Hankeys and the stuff that made them.

I kept this diary daily for well over a year, refining and finessing it as I went along. As I became sensitive to things that might impact my intestinal health, I’d add them: my menstrual cycle, my sleep (both quantity and quality), my external stressors. After a while, it became ridiculously obvious what worked and what didn’t, what I needed to do more of and what, or whom, I needed to do my best to avoid.  Toward the end of the first year, my father’s Crohn’s took a severe turn for the worse, and his organs began shutting down. The day I got the call, almost immediately, I started bloating and cramping. And sure enough, the next morning I was gifted with an enormous explosion of diarrhea lurking behind the perfectly normal poop that had formed in the chute before the bad news.

The good news, however, was that I’d determined what bad news, or too much broccoli, or too few hours of sleep, would bring.

* * * * *

I have a friend who is a sort of Program maven, by which I mean she has spent a lot of time figuring out how 12-step thingamajiggies work, and the patterns they tend to follow. And one of the central tenets of all Programs is bringing your full attention to that which, up until now, you have not. You start with the obvious thing, your drinking, your beating yourself up over someone else’s drinking, your sexual fixations, your spending, and you note it. All of it. She told me that in Debtors’ Anonymous one of the mandates is that you keep a diary noting every penny that goes in and out of your life. Every penny, no rounding!

What it does is bring awareness to the actions you likely had been sleepwalking through before: picking up “just” a pack of gum at checkout, sticking a couple of quarters in the parking meter, blowing a month’s rent on the third race at Santa Anita.1 As an experiment in untangling my own clutter around money, I test-drove an index-card hack my friend Alison came up with, for two weeks, I noted every expenditure or bit of income, and any emotions that bubbled up around it. It was illuminating and not a little alarming, seeing all the anxieties secretly embedded in each transaction. Were I to do it long-term (like the Debtors’ Anonymous tool) and add a lot of surrounding detail (like my poop diary), I’m guessing I’d start to see some pretty helpful causal connections.

* * * * *

Writing is physical. There’s an emotional component, certainly, and maybe even a mystical one. When I get cranking, it certainly feels like I’m channeling something that’s not exactly me.

But physically, it’s your ass in the chair and your hands at the keyboard (or on the pen, you freak, you). Even the rogue, fairy-dust stuff is fueled by whatever keeps your brain floating in a happy mix of water and salts. And none of those things work as well, your ass’s ability to stay put, your hands’ ability to move, your gray mass’s ability to process, unless a whole series of things have happened before. Things like eating and drinking the right things in the right quantities. Things like exercise and rest and full-on rest, a.k.a. adequate sleep. And high-quality sleep: sleep begun and ended at the right times, uninterrupted, if possible. I have written enough and long enough that I can power through a crappy body day, but it all goes much, much more easily if, for at least 24 hours before I sit down to write, I have been living right. Because writing takes literal, physical energy.

If it didn’t, Laura Hillenbrand would have 14 amazing books written by now and I’d feel even worse about my inability to produce a single one.

* * * * *

It’s easy to mock the body optimizing movement: Tim Ferriss has done some pretty extreme and even borderline creepy things in the name of getting the most out of his original-issue equipment. What’s more, he’s done it in such a way that it would be equally easy to chalk it up to hubris, a need for attention, a desire to cheat death, a lust for winning. But that would be me (or you, or anyone else) judging: even if he was completely forthcoming and totally forthright about his reasons, it’s still him articulating them, and there’s still some part of the spectrum we’re all unable to be completely honest about because we can’t access it: we have a blind spot, we don’t know what we don’t know, and because we’re constantly evolving, we can’t know everything about ourselves. (Although with time and practice, we can get a lot better at guesstimating.)

But I’m starting to get it now, on a deeply personal level. While I don’t fear death, I live in abject terror of a long, slow, decline. I am wild at the idea of not being able to get all the music out before certain music-making parts of me shut down. What a cruel joke, that I finally start to “get” it, and another “it” is taken away. So I stay in and soak in a hot bath when I might rather go out. I forsake my beloved espresso for weak black tea, and slowly work in green instead of even that, though it always and forever will taste to me like drinking a wet lawn. I note the days when the writing comes well, and what I have and have not ingested/done/experienced in the hours leading up to this.

I am not just a writer when I sit down to write: I am a writer three hours before, in my last REM cycle. I am a writer 10 hours before, when I forgo another half-hour of BBC porn on my laptop for a (fiction, non-self-improving) book to wind down with. I am a writer 14 hours before, when I make my worker-bee self stop for the day.2 I am a writer 18 hours before, when I elect to do my stupid Nei Kung instead of answering another 10 emails; I am a writer 20 hours before, when I stop myself from eating a Medjool date, yes, that’s what it’s come to, and have some yogurt with applesauce instead. (No one can say I don’t know how to live it up, baby!)

The gift of operating a writing business from a rapidly decaying, overused-and-abused bag of aging parts is that I see with far more clarity what works and what gums up the works.

To be a better writer today, I had to start yesterday.

Fortunately, to be a better writer tomorrow, I can start today.


1Hey, I don’t judge, I’m the lady who spent the better part of a year divesting herself of (mostly, for nothing) what it took dozens of years and thousands of dollars to mindlessly acquire. And when Brooks helped me bring my awareness to the tangle of emotions I had caught up in my clutter, he did it the same way: we looked at each item, one at a time, and asked whether I still needed it or could let it go.

2If you’re doing the math as we go, I usually start writing at 9am, which means I’m still stopping my work day late, at 7pm. Worker Bee is working on it, okay?

Frrrrriday Rrrrroundup! #44

blossoms on branches

An end-of-weekly roundup collecting fffffive of the fffffoxiest things I fffffind stumbling around the web. More about the genesis here. Every dang Friday Round-Up here, you procrastinating slacker!

RIP, o Volvo wagon! [Facebook-ed, via Rob Walker]

What would happen if you took all the photos people took of landmarks and smooshed them together? It’s even cooler than you could imagine. [Tumbled, via Letters from Here]

I don’t bother reading memorial columns anymore, unless they’re written by Roger Ebert or Danny Miller. [Google Reader-ed]

I’ve had a delightful cover-of-a-cover in my head for weeks now, but this version in particular has stolen my heart. [YouTube-ed]


Aaaaand a couple of pimpy-type things for excellent causes:

  1. The second-greatest dog in the world (and possibly the best girl dog in the world) needs a new country home.
  2. I’ll be performing (a couple of poems, probably) at Tongue & Groove this Sunday, 6pm, $6!

Image by ~Minnea~ via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

[video] Roll your own “flix” queue

[Watch “Create your own ‘flix’ queue” on YouTube; running time 3:34]

I’m a big fan of Netflix streaming video, but there are also other groovy things on the Internet that I might want to watch sometime, “sometime” being “later, not now while I’m busy trying to stop procrastinating with these other five things and get back to work.”

As I say in the video, I used to just save videos to my delicious bookmarks, but I’d find myself forgetting to go there and look for stuff in the heat of the video moment. And because I lurve how easy and delightful it is to create nice-looking, well-behaved drop-down bookmark folders in Chrome, I experimented with storing them there, and found it made much more sense. I mean, I’m there, at the computer, usually about to be four feet away, doing Nei Kung or ten feet away, making lunch, and why not just have that stuff at the super-ready.

So if you cannot bear to watch video (I sympathize and empathize), here’s the drill:

  1. Create a folder in your bookmarks bar labeled something you’ll remember.
  2. Bookmark the video you want to save for later.
  3. Edit the title that propagates the bar (I like to have 00:xx first, then a spacer, then something just brief enough to quickly parse)
  4. If desired, get Virgo on that shit and drag your movie bookmark into ascending or descending order, time-wise.

That’s it!

Have fun, and if you use and like this (or modify it to like it better), please do let me know.


P.S. I know it is a totally crazy nutball thing, but as I was working on this video, Netflix went down. I KNOW.

* * * * *

Various & sundry:

If you’re a professional photographer, you should definitely get your shutterbug ass to Chicago for next week’s Midwest tour stop of Strictly Business 3, the outstanding biannual conference put on by the American Society of Media Photographers. Insane quantities of high-quality workshops, sessions and talks, including mine (mine…MINE!!!), “How to Make People Love You Madly: Selling Yourself in the Postmodern Marketplace.” April 1-3, the Allerton Hotel (tip-top-tap, old-timers!), Chicago.

As a past speaker at the Creative Freelancer Conference, I have a (not very) secret code to get you an additional $50 off the early bird registration, for a total of $80 off: CCW11. The CFC is back in Chicago, which is a lovely place for a conference, and if you’re a creative type who’s self-employed, I encourage you to take a look. Lots of great relationships have been born and blossomed at the previous three CFCs, and the information and personal attention is top-notch. (I make nothing on that link, baby, it’s all you.)

Finally, I’m DELIGHTED to be performing at this Sunday’s Tongue And Groove, Conrad Romo’s outstanding spoken-word showcase at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., 90028. Six bucks, cheap; starts PROMPTLY at 6pm, and we’ve got a hard out at 7:30. OLD PEOPLE NIGHT. (Just kidding, I’m sure you’ll go out clubbing all night afterward.) The rest of the lineup: James Brown (This River), Jo Scott-Coe (teacher at Point Blank), Alan Berman, J. Keith van Straaten, with musical guest Juli Crocket and the Evangenitals (my new-favorite band name).

On not falling for Postcard Living

woman on beach in a gauzy windblown dress

There’s a moment in The Jerk that’s definitely not the funniest from that excellent Steve Martin film, but that’s stuck with me the longest.

Navin Johnson, the lovable, Candide-like fool played by Martin, sits across from his beloved Marie in what is for him the scenario of his dreams: through a combination of optimism, hard work and being in the right place at the right time enough times in a row, he has recreated down to the tiny bamboo umbrella a cheesy print ad showing a mustachioed man in robe and ascot, self-actualized and potent via the rum drink in his hand. It’s an ad that has driven and haunted him since he first saw it, so much so that he carried it with him like a treasure map, projecting himself into that ad, using it to propel him forward toward his dreams of fulfillment.

Shortly thereafter, of course, everything goes to hell in a handbasket, and in the process Navin learns the meaning of true happiness: love, friendship, and hootenannies on the front porch with your family of awesome musicians. (For the record, not far off from my ideal.)

There are better moments and there are funnier moments, but that moment wormed its way under my skin over 30 years ago and stayed there. Because I walk around with a collection of folded-up, idealized images of life tucked into my back pocket at all times.

* * *

I dislike ads. Or I guess I should say, I distrust them.

I distrust them because I have watched stylists fuss over too much Jell-O and too many English muffins. I distrust them because my father assured me that all shampoo was the same even as he sat there on the fold-out couch of his Divorced Dad Apartment, plotting the treasure maps that told America differently. I distrust them because I saw what the real mothers of the children whose Fake TV Mom I played looked like, and they all looked 10 years older than my child-free self, even when they were 10 years younger. I distrust them because at the height of my own adhole glory, I knew exactly how hard I could push up against a parity claim so the FTC wouldn’t push back, and how to bedazzle it so the public filled in the gaps for me.

This is not to say that I was impervious to their charms. Quite the contrary, ads could make me laugh and cry and feel as much, maybe more than they could your average non-ad-dynasty, non-copywriting, non-acting schmuck who hadn’t stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the man behind the curtain at the craft service table.

This, more than anything, may be why I distrust them so.

* * *

Do you get depressed looking at Facebook sometimes? I do. And there’s officially and scientifically a reason for this: we’re looking at a curated stream of happy moments and pretty pictures, for the most part, which makes us feel worse about our own sad sack state of affairs.1 I get so depressed looking at Facebook sometimes that I have to stop looking at Facebook sometimes. There’s a fairly direct correlation between my enjoyment of Facebook and my health, for instance: much like my sex drive, I know when I’m getting worse because the desire falls away, and I know when I’m getting better because it returns.

In other words, I’m no better than anyone else; I, too, tend to share the good and crawl away into the radio silence of my cave for the bad. Which is odd in one way, because I certainly have no problem talking about flailing here, and I’ve never had an issue with showing how ridiculous I look. Even then, though, I’m conscious of the curation, of the action of choosing the most hilariously unflattering shot, or phrasing the pain in a particular way. And I know that people who don’t blog have a hard time believing this but trust me: no one who is blogging is sharing everything. Even the oversharers. It’s impossible, for a variety of reasons, starting with time and ending with the observation of a thought changing the thought. (Although some people really do push the envelope, bless ’em.)

We see what we see, and that’s all we see. We don’t see the Photoshopping, unless it’s obvious. We don’t see the restrictive foundation garments, the crying quietly into pillows or glasses of Chardonnay, the cranky, low-blood-sugar moments with loved ones, the sad lapses when too much traffic intersects with too little sleep, the worry and self-doubt in the wee, non-posting hours of the morning. Most of life is mundane and most of life is work, and most of Facebook is not. Which, you know, is probably a good thing both for Facebook and us. But the imbalance is a little, a LOT more in Facebook’s favor than it is ours, is all I’m sayin’.

* * *

My last art director used to have a phrase for those pretty, impractical things that ended up crowding out the utilitarian inhabitants of her closets: running-on-the-beach dresses. This was back in the early ’90s, the apex of the J.Petermann/J.Crew/Victoria’s Secret era, and a big, big time for gauzy, billowy, running-on-the-beach dresses. Because the early ’90s were, of course, the true 1980s, one of the most bullshit-laden decades I’ve lived through. I mean, any era that serves up Pretty Woman, a hooker twist on the Pygmalion story, as a feel-good romp with shopping montages is one sick fucking era.

This is what we see, though, on Facebook and Twitter and the rest of it: rack after rack of carefully selected, highly styled, running-on-the-beach dresses. And we think, “Damn! How are these ladies prancing about on these beaches all day long in these dresses? When does the work happen? How do the dishes get done? Is there sleep on Planet Awesome, or do they power through with pixie dust? Loser! Loser! Loser!

I am here to tell you that there is no such thing as postcard living: that outside of the beautiful framed shot, there is every manner of squalid something-or-other. That what is within that postcard frame is only a version of the truth, from a moment in time.

It takes me four to six hours to write a blog post like this, this! a little nothing of a blog post! I am thin largely because I have a debilitating chronic illness that interferes with digestion and absorption. If I am full of energy and warmth when we meet at an event or a conference, it is because I am genuinely happy to see you, but it is also because I have spent days resting up before (and will likely follow it up with days more on the other end).

* * *

More than any other type of email, I get email that says “I had no idea anyone else felt that way.”

For now, for always, for that day I finally hang up my spurs and buy my own billowy dress to hang in my own seaside shack, everyone feels that way. Everyone feels good/bad/ugly/hopeless/mighty/sad/small/indifferent.

And it always takes longer than you think it will (except when it doesn’t).

And there is always a backstory (even if its a boring one).

And an ad is rarely the truth.

And the truth is always the only way out of wherever you are…


1I do have several friends who provide a valuable service as Debbie Downers, posting about their ill moods, misfortunes, and Armaggedon. I pause here to thank you. Bring on those horsemen!

Image by jesse.millan via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Frrrrriday Rrrrroundup! #43

shadows on the playa at burning man

An end-of-weekly roundup collecting fffffive of the fffffoxiest things I fffffind stumbling around the web. More about the genesis here. Every dang Friday Round-Up here, you procrastinating slacker!

This bit on the high-WASP diet is a shining example of why Lisa is one of my favorite writers on the interwebs. [Facebook-ed]

Yes, George Carlin got off a good one now and then. Yes, that Louis C.K. “everything is amazing” bit was amazing itself. But I wonder if anyone will ever best the late Bill Hicks for heart + smarts. This monologue on life being just a ride is a perfect example of why. [Tumbled, via Wreck & Salvage]

I question whether I’ll ever be orderly enough to travel with a single carry-on, but this video from Michael Hyatt (along with his typically helpful links and points in the post itself) is something to aim for. [Google Reader-ed]

Both Sugar herself and Daily Rumpus founder Stephen Elliott pointed to this Dear Sugar column on getting unstuck as their all-time favorite. And it’s easy to see why. [delicious-ed]



Image by perfecto insecto via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

A quiet, simple life with dollops of insanity

me, by mike monteiro

A few months ago, I had occasion to take an unusual and particularly interesting inventory of my life.

I say “unusual” because as a chronic self-dev-junkie-(slash)-overthinker, my default setting is “taking inventory.” Taking Inventory is a sort of state of being, an always-on operation that provides a constant, low-level background hum.1 (Which, given this hearing loss I seem to have sustained from a particularly fabulous but surprisingly loud record-release party last fall, is actually a boon.)

I say “particularly interesting” because while any reasonably thoughtful inventory can yield some pretty wowser data, the circumstances surrounding this one changed both the way I approached the inventory and, I’m guessing, the quality of the results.

In this case, I had a really limited window to get very, very clear on my priorities, with probably no further at-bats. So the thing had to be vast and done fast, and the stakes were much higher than usual. This created an uncharacteristic mix of thoroughness and detachment in my execution, and a startling clarity in the results: quietude and simplicity are more important to me than, well, a lot.

They are more important than money, for sure. This is non-news, I’ve walked away from a lucrative position (with benefits! and opportunity for advancement!) because while I very much liked the stuff, I did not like the nonsense demanded as payment. Even more insanely, perhaps, I walked away from a consultancy I’d just started developing because it felt overly complex and “noisy.” I get that there are very few true “mailcart guy” jobs, but I’m still prepared to scale back even more and take a dumb-ass day job that supports a simple life rather than push through noise and complexity for money. Comfort isn’t comforting if you’re using it as chaos management.

What the inventory made clear (and which is still hard to wrap my head around) is that quietude and simplicity are more important than being liked, or in some cases, loved.2 I have always had a deeply-felt need to please and to serve. I still do, but I’ve finally ceded my physical limits: there is neither enough time nor enough me to go around; what’s more, I have some faulty factory-installed parts that shut down operations if I don’t handle them gingerly.

* * *

So why the hell would someone who likes to keep it quiet and simple go to something like SXSWi, a now-22,000-person-strong (by some estimates) clusterfuck in a town barely able to accommodate half that, an “educational” conference whose programming is legendarily spotty (and getting worse), and whose noise and activity levels drain the lifeblood of even normal, hardy extraverts with youth on their side?

At first, back in 2006, I went out of curiosity and a need to be game. My then-boyfriend wanted to go, and I have learned that leaping has its rewards. So I leapt, and it was good, except for the burning out, which was bad. I learned about what makes a good (and a bad) talk. I learned actual stuff about podcasting and design. I saw movies, which was reason enough to go.3 I was really grateful I went, and grateful to him for encouraging (i.e., pushing) me to go.

When I leapt again in 2008, it was because I’d met a bunch of people online and wanted to meet them in real life, and while I was still uncomfortable with the practice, I recognized that the only way to it is through it. 2009 and 2010 became more and more about connecting with my now-friends, while slowly expanding my circle.

This year, quite frankly, I went because I had gone before. I went because I was afraid if I didn’t, I might be missing something. While that’s true, I actually would have missed a number of terrific chance encounters and planned meetups, going “just because” is no longer adequate as a sole reason to do something.4 And the drawbacks inherent in a massive, out-of-town conference, where it’s impossible to get true downtime, where the panels are so many and so spread apart it’s literally impossible to get to some of them on time, where the crowds are so thick and the control of them so absent a small person feels unsafe, mean this was probably my last South-by. It would take extraordinary circumstances to get me back, and a lot of ingenuity in the personal engineering of it. I like my insanity as much as the next guy, but I can only like it in micro-doses.

* * *

I had a short spasm of semi-coherent debriefing in the Wave with my friend Dave. I vented my frustration, my feelings of overwhelm, my nostalgic longing for the Good Old Days when it was a “tiny” conference of less than 10,000 people. He reminded me that even then, way back in 2006, there was an old guard complaining about how SXSWi had tipped, how it had been taken over by non-makers, how it had been “ruined” by this next wave of people discovering the web as a publishing tool, a means of connection. And he was right. And I am right. And SXSWi is right (if a conference can be right): it is a living thing, there to serve the people of the web in the time that they are using it. I greatly enjoyed my five visits, and I’m fine with handing it over to whomever is moving into this ever-changing, always amazing space.

May you enjoy your glorious new thing, and may I find my new dollops of insanity easily and joyfully, and may we all leave the world a better place in our own particular way.


1What I mean by this is that I am constantly analyzing where I’m at and examining ways in which I might be resisting not moving further. Kind of like relentless self-development. There are obvious actions like being part of a growth-directed mastermind group, psychotherapy, and reading a great deal of self-development books and other materials on how other people tackle change. There are less-obvious actions like simply turning my attention (constantly, consistently) to whatever thing I’ve identified that I want to change, noticing envy, for instance, and going through a sort of on-site inspection/analysis/implementation process. If you have questions about this, please do ask them in the comments, or, if they’re super-private (and I totally get how they might be) feel free to email me.

2The “loved” part I still don’t have a handle on. I’d like to believe there’s a way to be me and be in a primary relationship, if only for the seemingly contraindicated reason that primary relationships are the world’s greatest self-development labs. Also, division of labor is a great time-saver. Also, footrubs!

3Although strangely enough I preferred the tech-y stuff and the meeting people. Mostly, I treated the movies, once we were inside, and over the stress of the lines and the “will this Gold Badge actually get us in and decent seats?”, as a way to be quiet and shore up needed energy for more mixing it up.

4I did also go because it’s still a cost-efficient way to see a number of people at once. The problem is that there’s a cap on the number, say, 30, and that’s on the outside. Over four days, given my capacity, I have the ability to have meaningful meetups with about 30 people. Hugs in the hallway are awesome, and it’s always nice to make a quick connection to someone in real life which you can then continue later, online and off. But meals, drinks and hangouts? You’re talking 30, maybe 40. 50 if you don’t need the insane amount of disco-nappage that I do these days.

UPDATE 4/7/11: Many writers have posted pieces, chiefly grumpy, about how SXSW has finally jumped the shark. Or that maybe it did last year. Or two years ago. Or 10. My favorite take on the hoo-ha is one written by my pal John Gruber. (And it should be noted that John and I “met” via Twitter, then met a few years ago at…SXSWi! After it had jumped the shark and everything, according to the old hands.) John’s take is, as per usually with John’s writing, straightforward, thoughtful, and succinct. You should probably read it, if you’re interested in that kind of stuff.

But for sheer charm, you should treat yourself to my friend Alissa Walker’s SXSW writeup. Because no one touches Alissa Walker for sheer charm. Especially with photodocumentation!

Photo of yours truly in a rare SXSW moment of relative quiet by Mike Monteiro, used under a Creative Commons license.