Sunday, December 5, 2010

A night to remember - Ignite Phoenix After Hours

On Friday night, I talked about titties. Not any specific titties, you understand, but titties in general and how our perceptions toward titties have changed over time. Confused? Maybe you're not paying close enough attention.

[caption id="attachment_1589" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ignite Phoenix After Hours"]Ignite Phoenix After Hours[/caption]Friday night was the inaugural Ignite Phoenix After Hours event. I'm a seasoned vet of the Ignite format and a frequent speaker at Ignite Phoenix. The Ignite Phoenix crew have been batting around the idea of an adult-themed evening for years. Since the very first Ignite Phoenix in the summer of 2008, more than a few submissions each time are a bit over the PG-13 line they strive to maintain. Fast forward 2.5 years, and they said "fuck it, let's put on a grown-ups-only show".

And Ignite Phoenix After Hours was born.

And I knew immediately that I must speak at the event about a true passion of mine. That's right: titties.

[caption id="attachment_1590" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Evo on Titties Through The Ages"]Evo on Titties Through The Ages[/caption]So I did. My talk was "Titties Through The Ages", and it seemed to be a hit with the crowd. Unlike prior and "normal" Ignites, the presentations were not videoed and said non-existent videos will not be made available on the Ignite Phoenix YouTube channel, website or any other officially sanctioned place. Some of the presenters stepped well outside of their comfort zone and aren't all that keen on having their name and their topic be forever enshrined by The Google.

Me? Not worried about that at all. I've done and said enough stupid things in front of a mic or camera more times than I can count. So if anything, this well-polished and thought out presentation might knock some of those less-planned outbursts down a notch or two.

So with that, a video of my talk recorded live is below. (Warning: It takes a while to load!) You won't see me too much, as it was dark in the club and the screen behind me pretty bright. It's also tough to hear sometimes as the crowd was inches away from me and raucous to the extreme.

The funny thing is -- my talk was rather tame. Some of the ladies got up there and discussed other female body parts with much more abandon than I. And one G.I. surgeon discussed all the things he's pulled out of peoples' asses over the years. No, it wasn't all dirty talk. Others talked about tripping, drinking and driving, skepticism, zombies... and Lenny Bruce. A well rounded evening, I think!

Yes, they'll be doing #IPAH again. And yes, you'll want to go next time. Unless you're easily offended. Then... not so much. But you probably aren't reading this blog post, are you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Audio from Podcasting for Authors talk posted

Some of you haven't figured out that I don't post everything I do on this site. Yes, you're terribly confused and I've done a shitty job of making a clear delineation. I know... I know...

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Me and Dani Cutler - Podcamp AZ 2010"]Me and Dani Cutler - Podcamp AZ 2010[/caption]So here's a quick note to say that I've posted the audio of my Podcasting for Authors talk last weekend at PodCamp AZ 2010. It was captured, edited and hosted by the supremely cool Dani Cutler of the Truth Seekers political podcast. And it's over at my hopefully-not-at-all-douchey digital marketing site, A Simpler Way.

I'm not linking directly to the file here simply because it's a 50+ minute file and I don't want to be called a hypocrite. That's too damned long for a podcast episode. And this isn't a podcast episode. It's an audio file. If you want it, follow the links. Authors interested in using digital marketing to grow their fan base may find it of value. The rest of you... not so much.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Can Hear Clearly Now The Ring Is Gone

I'm in love with this man. Call it a bromance if you like, but he's done for me things no one else can. Specifically, he's given me back my appreciation for music.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="332" caption="George and Slau by Skepticality - truth in podcasting"]George and Slau by Skepticality - truth in podcasting[/caption]

That's Slau. (No, the one in the jacket. The other one is George. I've talked about him plenty in the past. Look it up.) Professional recording engineer, musican and friend, I called Slau recently when I was looking to upgrade my headphones. You see, I can't hear for squat. Partly genetics, partly stupidity when I was younger, but I've lost the ability to discern subtle audible changes. That causes no end of grief for my wife and co-workers. Yes, I've become my grandfather.

As you might have heard, I do the podcasting thing. Before that, I was in radio. Before that, I was in a semi-pro band. Before that, I was a recording engineer. Back when editing was done with a razor blade. No, not kidding. That's a slightly broken chain of occupations and avocations over 25 years where I spent time -- a lot of time -- with a pair of headphones clamped to my ears. Yet for the last five years or so, I've been getting by with the crappy ear buds that came with my MP3 player. That changed today.

Today I got in my new pair of Sony MDR7506 headphones, on Slau's recommendation. And for the last two hours, I've been re-discovering my music collection. Holy crap, have I been missing things.

For years I've been telling podcasters and home-recording neophytes that the very first piece of equipment they should purchase should be a good pair of headphones. But I wasn't taking my own medicine. So I took the plunge, dropping down a C-note on the MDR-7506s. It's about time I ate my own dog food, as they say.

I couldn't be happier. Yes, I could have spent more, but I didn't. A lot my hearing range is shot, so it doesn't make much sense for me to fork over close to a grand for some super serious 'phones. These do me fine. They fold up nicely to fit in a kickin' little bag, making them easy to transport to work, gigs... whatever. Though I don't gig any more, so they'll likely stay in the studio. Except for the times when I want to listen to music at home. And judging by tonight, that's going to happen more.

Thanks for the recommendation, Slau. I couldn't be happier! :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes, you have to trust the bartender

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Sazerac Cocktail by ~dgies"]Sazerac Cocktail by ~dgies[/caption]See if you know this one. Guy walks into an absinthe bar and orders a Manhattan. The bartender says "you want a Sazerac instead. It's like Manhattan, but made with rye and a dash of absinthe". Guy says, "What the hell."

That guy would be me. And that's the story of when Phil and I and our lovely wives went out tearing it up Saturday night in Boulder. Well, "tearing it up" may be taking things too far. But I did have a Sazerac, and I'm writing this blog post about it for no other reason than my attempt to not forget the name. Because it was damned good. And I have a shitty memory for things like names.

Let me say that I categorically do not like absinthe. It tastes like Nyquil™. I don't care for wintergreen because it tastes like Pepto-Bismol™. Whoever the hell first decided medicine-flavored candy and booze was a good idea is a moron. But back to the drink.

I'm not sure if I like rye whiskey. I probably do, but I don't have the necessary palate to discern what makes rye whiskey better -- or at least different -- from bourbon. Yeah, that's going to piss a lot of you off. Sorry. Not my intention. And I'm sure with a little coaching and guidance, I'd develop a taste for whiskey like I have for scotch, beer and tequila. Not that I need to develop the taste for yet another expensive sin.

But back to the drink. I let myself be lead down the path -- more like rolled down the path -- for a simple reason: I was in the Absinthe House in Boulder, and the bartender exuded confidence. It wasn't that he didn't have the stuff to make a Manhattan. He did. I saw all the necessary liquids on the shelf right near everything else. No, this guy knew that people who like Manhattans would probably like a Sazerac. But just to be safe, he floated the "rye whiskey" part out there in case I fancied myself a bourbon man. I do not.

And so... he made it. And I drank it. And more importantly, I liked it. No, I can't share the recipe with you. There are plenty online and I can't say for certain if any of them would match up to the caliber of the one I had. Hell, I can't even say for sure if the one I had was a good one or not. I can say that I liked it, and now I have another cocktail to order when the tap selection of a place leaves me wanting. Which is all too often.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The best science fiction author you probably aren't reading

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton"]The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton[/caption]On the plane coming home from Denver this weekend, I polished off The Evolutionary Void
by Peter F. Hamilton. It's the third and final (duh) story in the The Void Trilogy... and now I have to wait for new stuff. Dammit.

Peter is, by far, my favorite science fiction author. He weaves intricate plots and complex narratives to not just world-build, but to universe build. His books are long. He isn't big on exposition. And you need a fair understanding of real science and physics to get a full appreciation of his inferred science and physics.

And that's why I think I enjoy his work so. You have to think about it. Sure, it's science fiction, and you might consider scifi writing throw-away fiction. I get that. And I won't try and convince you otherwise. But the many works of Peter F. Hamilton are anything but throw-away for me. They delve deeply into what it means to be human. They explore connectivity and personal networks in expansive ways I can only hope we one day achieve. He takes on religion and "spirituality" without wavering one bit, weaving together the promise of both along with origin stories that are all-too believable. Much of his work causes me to go "Oh yeah, now I see the sort of events that could lead to some strange beliefs in a few thousand years..."

Murder. Mystery. Intrigue. Action. Love. Romance. It's all in there. In a science fiction novel. Yeah.

These are the type of stories where the word epic just isn't big enough to describe. These are stories that aren't for everyone. Heck, they probably aren't for most people, because many of the fiction book-readers I've met prefer fluff over substance. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And not that I don't occasionally enjoy the hell out of that type of story.

This ain't it. But if you think you'd like to try something a bit more challenging than the norm, I highly endorse PFH's work. All of his series can and do stand on their own, so you can start at the first book of any trilogy. Forget the idea of "linear" storytelling. This is much more fun!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yes, I really did get hit by a car today.

Yes, I really did get hit by a car today. And yes, I'm fine. So is the bike. Allow me to explain.

[caption id="attachment_1546" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="My Strida folding bike that got hit by a car today"]My Strida folding bike that got hit by a car today[/caption]Since returning to civilization (Tempe) from the boonies (Chandler), I've discovered that I'm about a half a mile from a bus route. You see, I like to ride the bus. I don't do it because of my desire to decrease my carbon footprint. I don't do it to make a stand for better public transportation. I don't do it to protest rising gas prices. All are worthy causes, and all I've supported (to varying degrees) in years gone past. Back in the deep dark oughts, I bought1 a folding bike by Strida just so I could take it on and off the bus with me, zipping to and from the stops so I could decrease my commute time. Yes, that's what the bike I ride looks like. No, they don't make that version any more. Yes, you can buy the updated version and be almost as cool as me. And you'll like it.

But today, I bike/bus for more selfish reasons: More time to decompress. Though tonight was an exception. Allow me to explain:

  • Drive to work: 20 minutes. Me, behind the wheel and paying close attention to the road and the idiot drivers around me.
  • Bus to work: 30 minutes. Me, sitting on my ass listening to podcasts, audiobooks or reading an ebook. Idiots likely surround me, but I'm not paying any attention.
  • Bike home from work: 38 minutes. Me, pedaling and expending energy to reduce stress. And get hit by a car.

  • OK, that doesn't typically happen. But it did today. Albeit a very low speed collision, but a collision none the less. I wasn't bodily injured or even bodily impacted by the strike. The bike's chassis took the full force of the impact, knocking my back tire sideways about 2 feet. My foot was mere inches from the bumper, but missed entirely.

    How did this happen? The simple answer: She had her head in her ass. The more complex answer: No, she had her head in her ass. There is no more complex answer. She claims she was "looking out for cars". And I guess by that she meant she was looking beyond the crosswalk, where my slow-moving folding bike and I were meandering across. Because she sure didn't see me as she blew all the way into the crosswalk, where vulgarity ensued post-impact.

    Save a few minor scratches, the bike pulled through like a champ. Score one for solid manufacturing skills! And save a serious tongue lashing, the young woman with the head so solidly shoved up her own ass pulled through as well, hopefully paying significantly greater attention in the years to come.

    And yes, I'll be back on the bike tomorrow. Don't hit me!

    1 - Yes, I really do own a bike that looks just like that. Yes, I really did buy it with my own money. And yes, those are affiliate links. But I assure you the story is real, and that I ride this bike damn near every single day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why my movie watching habits are better than yours

I clearly am not the target for Hollywood movie studios. Of the some 500 movies that came out this year, I've seen eight. Eight. Rarely do I bother paying any attention to the Oscars, as I've likely not seen any of those up for best picture. This isn't a new phenomenon. I thought Full Metal Jacket was comedic, didn't waste my time with Titanic, and still get Goodwill Hunting and Cider House Rules confused.

It seems I'm not all that mainstream. Go figure. But I do enjoy movies. Sometimes that movie is one currently being enjoyed by the masses. But more often than not... not. Here's what I've seen or am planning on seeing this year:

  • Shutter Island - Knew something was wrong 10 minutes in. Figured out Di Caprio was an inmate in half an hour, then spent the rest of the movie wondering how they'd tie it together. It was OK.
  • Kick Ass - Pretty fantastic overall. Ending was meh. I'll likely end up owning this one.
  • The Karate Kid - Hey, it was this or some crappy M. Knight Shamalamadingdong movie. 7-year-old niece/nephew combos must at times be appeased.
  • The A-Team - A good romp. More a re-imagining than a remake, since I have a stanch NO REMAKES policy. Don't take your physics book with you.
  • Inception - I liked this because it kept me guessing. But in hindsight, it sure seemed a long way to go for the desired outcome.
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World - Major disappointment here. It's almost as if I'm not enough of a geek to have enjoyed it. Sorry.
  • Jackass 3D coming soon - Sometimes, you have to let the id have its day. Don't make fun, or I'll punch you in the junk. With a SCUBA tank filled with Cool-Whip™ or something equally as unexpected.
  • Tron: Legacy coming soon - The expectation bar is set rather high on this one. I want "Empire Strikes Back", not "Beneath Planet of the Apes", OK? Or there will be hell to pay.

But as I look back -- and forward -- at those, they all pale in comparison to my two favorite movies by far for 2010:
  • The Human Centipede
  • Machete

[caption id="attachment_1522" align="alignleft" width="128" caption="One of my favorite films in 2010 that you probably won\'t see."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1523" align="alignleft" width="128" caption="Another of my favorite films in 2010 that you probably won\'t see."][/caption]

I love these movies primarily for the same reason: You probably didn't want to see them until some nutjob like me started going on ad nauseum about them. And then you probably still didn't go see either. That is why I love these movies. They are polarizing. Much like Snakes on a Plane, you know in a moment if that's a movie you want to see or not, and no amount of cajoling from those on the other side will cause you to waver in your decision. That. Is. Cool.

Both are made of awesome. Both are a kind of movie making and story-telling I deeply enjoy. And neither will be represented at this years Oscars. And I love that.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Have Beer PHXation

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="374" caption="De Construction by Odell Brewing - Evo Terra on Flickr"]De Construction by Odell Brewing by Evo Terra[/caption]I like beer. Good beer, you understand. Beer where a brewer had an intent beyond producing a lowest common denominator swill that would be consumed the world over.

I live in Phoenix. Sometimes I get sick of the heat, but by and large, I enjoy this city.

My friend Rob Fullmer has a new project that blends those two nicely. It's a new blog; Beer PHXation. Rob and Dave are just getting started, but they're already carving out a niche for themselves. Both are active and talented homebrewers, and champions of many of the Phoenix-based craft breweries.

They recently released a "manifesto" of sorts, aimed at Arizona Restaurant Week. The issue? Loads of attention paid to wine lists of mentioned establishments -- but beer was an afterthought. They wrote about the subject much more cogently than I would have. It's worth a read.

So kudos, Rob. Keep 'em coming! There's a lot of beer-related happenings in this town. Thanks for showcasing all of it!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The ghosts of distant quasars past

I've always considered myself a sort of amateur astronomer. Blame it on Mom, who kept me up late watching the meteor showers from the hood of the car when I was a wee lad.

My friend Dr. Pamela Gay makes it easy for would-be stargazers to do more than simply look up at the stars. She's one of the brains behind Galaxy Zoo. Think SETI@home, if you recall that project, and you've got the basics of this. You, the person reading this because you have nothing better to do with your time, can help forward human-kind's collective intellect by looking at pictures taken by the Hubble telescope and helping classify the astronomical objects shown. No PhD required!

Sound cool? It is cool. Very, very cool.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp"]Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp[/caption]And sometimes, that cool becomes something even bigger than before. That happened when school teacher Hanny van Arkel discovered a strange blob of glowing gas in one of the images she was analyzing through the Galaxy Zoo interface. She brought this strange blob to the attention of the project scientists, and for the past 3 years astronomers have been using telescopes around and above the Earth to try and find out what it is. They now think Hanny's discovery, which she called a "Voorwerp" (Dutch for Thing), is the first known light echo of a quasar.

The significance of that may be lost on you at first. It was for me. But with the help of smart people like Pam and Phil Plait, I've come to understand why it is, in fact, so cool.

But not everyone has an astronomer in their back pocket. So Pamela and crew decided to take an odd turn in their educational outreach programs: comic books. Her team received funding to write a comic book telling the story of Hanny's discovery and the subsequent adventure in understanding it. That comic book will premier at Dragon*Con on Sep 3, 2010 (10pm Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton), and will be available for digital download on their website.

I can't go to Dragon*con, but I will be watching the event, thanks to the magic of the interwebz. You can too. Either directly from UStream, or from the webcomic's page.

See you there. Don't hog all my bandwidth. And go join Galaxy Zoo. Helping forward the cause of science, reason and understanding seems a might more worthwhile than fertilizing non-existent crops.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why I'm protesting Liberty Market in August

I'm a huge fanboi of Joe Johnston. He's the mastermind behind Liberty Market, Joe's Real BBQ and other iconic eateries past and present in the Phoenix area. And he's a super nice guy.

But this time, he's gone to far. And I'm registering a formal protest.

You see, I just found out that Joe and crew are launching "Burger Daze" at Liberty Market this Sunday. On that day, and following every day for the month of August, they're putting out one specialty burger. And it's only available on that day. They know how to do burgers right at Liberty Market.

But back to my protest. I'm protesting this on the following grounds:

Exhibit A: Liberty Market is too far from my house to drive there every day.
[caption id="attachment_1500" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="See how far away Liberty Market is from my house?"]See how far away Liberty Market is from my house?[/caption]Putting the pressure on me to drive that far each and every day during the month of August to enjoy each tasty burger is simply too much to ask. It goes well beyond reasonable and customary practices and borders on cruel and unusual punishment.

Exhibit 2: Like I need to add any more mass.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Weighting Game or Why My Ass Doesn't Need To Get Bigger"]Weighting Game or Why My Ass Doesn't Need To Get Bigger[/caption]I'm over two decades out of high school and am not proud of the fact that I've gained an average of 2 lbs. every year since then. Now with Joe pumping out a burger a day, I fully expect my mass to increase exponentially. Which means I'll weigh 896.4 lbs by September. Good thing I can't wear white after Labor Day.

Exhibit III: What am I made of money?
So there's the burger, the obligatory beer, maybe a coffee and most likely one of those GIANT cinnamon rolls... Now multiply that by 30 and you get just under the Gross National Product of Tuvalu. Dammit, Joe! I've got a kid in college and wife with expensive hobbies, man! One of them will have to be sold off to slavery for me to afford this!

So join me in protesting Liberty Market and their insidious "Burger Daze" next month. I figure the best place to protest is on-site. We'll get our message across that way better. And I hear they have some real tasty burgers in case we get hungry carrying those signs.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Phil Plait is the only thing stopping the universe from killing you

"When you're dealing with the Universe, ignorance can be deadly."

One of the baddest quotes from the Bad Astronomer himself, my Dr. Phil Plait. He's been playing all super seekrit with everyone for the last few months, as he jets all over the place filming and shooting his new project. And today, we found out what that super seekrit project is. I give you a sneak peek of a new Discovery Channel series, Phil Plait's Bad Universe!

I've watched it at least a half dozen times already. Partly because it looks so stinkin' cool. And partly because I can say, yes, that man is a friend of mine. He has the hots for my wife, and I have his cell phone number. How the hell do I deserve such cool friends? I don't know. But I'll take it.

Congrats on the pending release, Phil. Know you've got a dedicated household hoping you'll show us how to save us from a universe that obviously wants us DEAD!

And if you haven't picked up a copy of Death from the Skies!: The Science Behind the End of the World by Phil, I highly recommend you do. I wouldn't call it an uplifting read, but it's fascinating none the less. And you can hear Phil read from the book on on the track by the same name on George Hrab's latest album, Trebuchet. (Another person who I'm just giddy to know calls me a friend!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Skepchick Party Rock Band Xbox Now On Auction

I don't play Rock Band. I'm convinced of an inverse proportional relationship to your skill as musician with the real world analog of the Rock Band "instruments" and how well your performance is measured by your ability to strike or "strum" the shitty pieces of plastic required in said game.

But get a few beers and shots of Knob Creek in me, and that theory can go screw itself. Sort of. I still won't pick up the "instruments", but I will sing.

And at the Skepchick party at TAM8, sing I did. Here's a shot of me rockin' the house to the smooth groove of Stevie Wonder's Superstition. Prior to this post, you could only live the glory that was me on that night vicariously through photos. But now, you can own a piece of history legend.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Signed XBox on Auction"]Signed XBox on Auction[/caption]The Skepchics are auctioning off the Xbox, having first acquired the signatures of such luminaries from the party like... me! Oh, and I suppose a few more. Like these fine folks and close, personal friends of mine (to steal from Phil), in no particular order since I'm not first:

And your money just isn't going to support the drunken abandoness of skeptics in Vegas. At least not all of your money. This is part of the Skepchicks "virtual bake sale", which according to Rebecca Watson, will...

... raise the money to get me to ATL! We’ll auction a few items so that you get cool stuff while I get to attend Dragon*Con, do some outreach, and host Maria’s Star Party (a big success last year raising money for the American Cancer Society in honor of Jeff Medkeff, who once named an asteroid after me).

We’ll be using the eBayz to auction off several items through the Women Thinking Free Foundation, which was set up by Skepchick Elyse to do awesome things in Chicago like fighting anti-vaccination misinformation. Your winning bid will go toward a plane ticket and hotel room for me, and if we happen to raise more than we need then the rest will go to the WTFF.

So get a piece of history. With me on it. And good luck getting what you play to match what's on screen to howthe song actually should be played on a real instrument. Or just set it on your coffee table and use it as a conversation piece.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy retirement to my Mom!

[caption id="attachment_1474" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Vickie and the most handsome boy in the world"][/caption]This is my mom, Vickie. Today she passed a milestone that I'll never make: she retired from her job with the state of Oklahoma after 387 years*. With budget cuts looming and just a few years short of her initially planned date, they offered her an out. Which she took. Smart cookie. She takes after her only and most favorite son. He's the devastatingly handsome little boy wondering how the hell her eyelashes got so gigantic.

[caption id="attachment_1475" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Vickie teaches aerobics to my highschool class"]Vickie teaches aerobics to my highschool class[/caption]So while this is by all auspices a congratulatory post, it's also a chance for me to post a bunch of photos of Mom. (Click any to open full-size.) Hey, she mugs for the camera as much as her son. So the first thing you'll notices is that Mom is smoking hot. The first question you'll have is "did she have you when she was eight?" No, she did not have me when she was eight. She had me when she was 20. So if you know how old I am (hint: it's on Wikipedia), you'll know how old Mom is. Never tell a ladies age. But I can't stop you from knowing math. Nor could I stop her from teaching aerobics during my junior year in highschool to all of my friends. Yes. I assure you it was just as much as a treat as you are imagining. But I grew a pretty thick skin as a Lamarckian response.

[caption id="attachment_1476" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Vickie as The Village Person"]Vickie as The Village Person[/caption]Mom still gets mistaken for for being decades younger than she is. Just a month ago, the lady at the local convenience store referred to her as "my wife". That doesn't mean I look old. No, gods dammit it does not! It means Mom does and always has looked much younger than she really is. And she acts that way too. I recall when she was in her late 30's -- I was in high school -- and she got carded. Carded! She was so grateful, she leaned across and hugged the attendant. And then showed her ID. She was with a friend some 10 years younger than her. Who did not get carded. Hi-larity ensued. Here she is at Halloween in the 70s. She's on the right, you idiot.

[caption id="attachment_1477" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Vickie and NJ"]Vickie and NJ[/caption]She's also the best grandmother you could ask for. I can't speak from personal experience. Instead, I come from this knowledge vicariously through my son. I can't think of a major milestone she wasn't here for -- and that's living about 1,000 miles away from him since he as 4 months old. Talk about dedication. Oh, and he has her good looks too. Not in this picture. This is when he was incredibly fat. He grew into it.

[caption id="attachment_1478" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Vickie and a pig"]Vickie and a pig[/caption]So here's to you, Mom. Congrats on sticking with the same boring, dull and mind-numbing job with the State. Enjoy south Texas or wherever the hell it is you wind up. Or flitter around. Isn't that what you're supposed to do when you retire? I'm looking forward to having you and your band of four loonie girlfriends out here in August. I just hope Phoenix is ready for you and yours. I'll end with a pic of you and a pig. With no explanation. They can just wonder.

Love you!

* - It may have been less time than that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Confessions of a skeptical herbalist

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption=" Skeletons in the closet"] Skeletons in the closet  Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig,[/caption]In November 2004, I seriously considered getting into politics. Luckily the voice of reason -- my wife -- spoke up, with the true fact that I've not lived nearly a clean enough life. It's not that I have a lot of skeletons in my closet. No, I have an entire basement full of them. I'd have to expose each and every one of them before entering a race, and no one would bother to read a press release that long. So no politics for me.

But in the post-TAM glow, I'm compelled to do more work to forward the cause of skepticism, science and rational thought. And just as with my brief flirtation with politics, there are few things I need to clear up, save someone expose them as evidence (heh) that my skepticism is somehow false.

Lucky for me, I've lived pretty much out loud and online since the early Oughts. So my big reveal shouldn't come as a surprise, since it was well documented.

In 2000, I completed a 18-month intensive study of western herbalism. To be specific, the class was taught by a wonderful practicing herbalist named JoAnn Sanchez, and classes took place at the Southwestern Institute of Healing Arts, or SWIHA for short. And yes, it's primarily a massage school. I have no knowledge of the curriculum of the school outside of JoAnn's classes. And quite frankly, I don't care. JoAnn's credentials in the herbal community -- whatever that may be worth to you -- were and remain impeccable. I learned much from her and the handful of other herbal medicine practitioners she introduced to me and the rest of the class.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Healthy or insane shelf 3"]Healthy or insane shelf 3[/caption]Yes, some of what I learned I'd call bunk. But not all. Herbal medicine isn't like homeopathy, which is 100% bunk. To be more specific, there's nothing in homeopathic "remedies", save water. Nothing. I repeat. Nothing. If you think that's incorrect, I encourage you to do some research. Or wait a few days and keep reading. I'll have more to say on the matter of homeopathy and a grassroots movement I'm a part of.

But back to the non-bunkness of some (and that's an important word) of the claims made in regards to herbal medicine. Many plants -- hell, MOST plants -- have chemical compounds with pharmacological properties. Some of these pharmacological properties do effect the human body. Sometimes the effect is small, sometimes large. Sometimes the effect is good, and sometimes bad. As in dead-bad. Just ask Socrates.

So yes, I studied herbal medicine. And yes, I learned a lot. And even more yes, I still used plant-based medicine at home. I also use medicine my MD prescribes. And I use medicine I can buy over-the-counter at my local pharmacy.

While I wish I could say that all the herbal remedies I used had been adequately -- or even tentatively -- studied; I cannot. I, too, fell for the woo. I, too, fell for the "its been used to treat this for thousands of years" bullshit. On some plants. Guilty as charged. Yet the skeptic inside of me never died. He just got over-shadowed by the latent Believer that hadn't been let out since my brief fascination with UFO-ology in high school. Then I learned about the vastness of space. But I digress...

So yes, I know a lot about plant-based medicine. And yes, I still use plant based medicine. AS an alternative to "conventional" medicine? Some of it, sure. If I'm coming down with a sinus infection, I'll take some tincture of Mahonia repens. That I prepared myself. The antibacterial properties of the alkaloid berberine are well documented. Sure, I could go to the doctor and he could give me a broad-spectrum antibiotic, or maybe culture a sample of my snot and pinpoint the bacteria in question so he could prescribe a more specific antibiotic. But I know what I have (in this case) and know how to treat it (in this case). That's not woo. But if I don't know what I have? I'm calling the doc. And if I know what I have but I don't know how to treat it? I'm hitting the pharmacy. Or the doc.

Am I an expert on plant-based medicine? Probably more so than you. And for a handful of specific conditions I'm likely to deal with from time to time, close enough. But I know my limits. And I'll not be so foolish as to suggest a trip to the herbalist is as good as a trip to the doctor or pharmacy. In some cases, it may be. But unless you know what those cases are, don't risk it. Yes, I used to rail against "allopathic" medicine and the strawman of "big Pharma". Yes, I once questioned a doctor -- very, very briefly -- on his prescribed choice of treatment when my son developed a pretty nasty staph infection in his elbow joint. It took me all of about 5 seconds to realize there existed a vast gulf between what I knew and what the trained medical professional knew. Hence, my kid got the best that allopathic medicine had to offer. And kept his arm. As JoAnne taught us, "If I'm hit by a car, don't take me to an herbalist. Take me to the emergency room!".

Retrospectively, I probably couldn't have made it through the intensive program if I had my skeptical hat on. And maybe that would have been a good thing. But I don't think so. I have a hunger to learn new things. My cursory investigations lead me to conclude there was something to plant-based medicine, and I wanted to learn more. Studying with Joann seemed a good choice then. And it still does now. But don't expect me to rush to the defense of all plant based medicine. Nor should you expect me to lump herbalism in with the quackery of homeopathy. More on that quite soon. But for now, I think I've adequately aired out the biggest skeleton in my skeptical closet.

How about you?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Perfect Cuban Mojito

It's hot. And to combat the heat, I've created the Perfect Cuban Mojito. No, it doesn't use white rum. It doesn't use piles of sugar. And no, you probably won't like it. But if you like drinks the way I like drinks, please enjoy.

Evo's Perfect Cuban Mojito
  • Dark rum, probably by some distiller you've never heard of
  • Powdered sugar
  • Seltzer water
  • Key lime juce
  • Fresh spearmint
  • Ice, from a tray. Not a machine. Or a bag. You pussy.

Take four (4) leaves of fresh spearmint and add them to a highball glass. Add one (1) heaping teaspoon of powdered sugar and cover with one (1) shot of fresh Key lime juice. Find something to mash it around with. You aren't trying to pulverize. Simply mash to release the flavor of the spearmint.

Add three cubes of ice, two (2) shots of dark rum that doesn't rhyme with "Brock Hardy" and two (2) shots of seltzer. Add in a new fresh sprig of spearmint to look cool. Stir gently. Drink. Beat the heat.

Happy 4th.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sprint terrible customer service saga

I'm very close to being done with Sprint. I've been here before over the last 10+ years and it always boils down to the same thing: Sprint's customer service is terrible. So if you'll indulge me (and this is my blog, so you have to indulge me,) I'd like to share my story from today.

I figured I'd go buy the new HTC EVO™. And yes, I gave up on my halfhearted attempts at getting them to give me one. As a Sprint Premier customer, I'm eligible to upgrade yearly. And my year was up in early June. So down to the store I go.

Ceser was great. He managed to produce two phones -- the plan was to buy two of them to replace our getting-worse-by-the-day Palm Pres -- and started the process. But he was quickly thwarted. Seems that my phone number wasn't the one that had the "Premier" status associated with it. Neither was it associated with Sheila's. They stuck it on NJ's number, for some inexplicable reason. No, he couldn't fix it there in the store, but it should be cleared up quickly enough with a call from me to... Customer Service. Que the "dun-dun-DUH" effect.

The first person I talked to (from Topeka, Kansas, she proudly offered upon answering) said they could easily make my phone the primary number, in effect associating the Premier status with me. The problem was that it wouldn't be active in Sprint's computer system until the start of the next billing cycle. Next month. So those phones Cesar found? Not gonna happen on a free upgrade.

But I'm no fool. I asked if she could bring in a supervisor to see if things could be hurried along. Since I'm right here, right now, and ready to purchase. After a few short minutes, I'm on the phone with Cindy(?) from Albuquerque, New Mexico. (There's probably a good reason for telling customers where the rep is located, but it escapes me right now. I mention it because I thought it humorous at the time.) Cindy informed me that the prior rep was incorrect, and that it might take several billing cycles before the error could be fixed.

This didn't sit well with me. Mustering some righteous indignation for my voice, I impressed upon Cindy the inconvenience lumped upon me due to a clerical error. I also mentioned I cared little for "the process" and wanted to see if someone might be able to force a change through their system outside of said processes. Acting upon this new found line of reasoning, Cindy checked with a manager. And wouldn't you know it! There was indeed a work around.

Turns out that the person -- she made it sound like the ONLY person -- who could fix the issue just happened to be there in the Albuquerque office. But the fix would not be instantaneous. This unnamed person would begin forcing the change right away, but it would take some time. How long? Cindy wasn't sure, but she was sure it would be longer than a few minutes. But the unnamed person with the magical fingers departed work at 5:00p local time, so it would be before that. Huzzah! A solution had been found.

Not wanting to waste a trip back to the store, I asked if I could receive some sort of notification when the change had been made. Cindy said that she would call me as soon as she received the confirmation email that the work had been completed.

That was... 3 hours ago? Cindy hasn't called. I called Cesar back at the store to see if the status had been moved in his system. It had not.

So thanks once again, Sprint, for living up to your continued reputation of shitty customer service. I hear that new iPhone 4G is pretty slick.

Update Tuesday, June 29th @ 1:42p

    Yesterday I received the following Tweet from @SprintCare:
    Saw your tweet. Were you able to get that issue resolve?

    To which I replied:

    No, not at all.

    And that earned me the following suggestion:

    Hmmm, u can send us an email w/ details (incl acct phn#, name on acct, + PIN) to & we'll have smbdy check

    So I did. I emailed all the info, starting off with "The details can all be found here" and including a link to this post. They just responded to me with the following fantastic reply"

      Thank you for your email. We reviewed your account records and found that phone line (928) 593-9678 will be listed as the Premier line of service effective July 7, 2010, which is the first day of your next billing period.

      According to, you are currently eligible to upgrade that line of service. I recommend visiting a Sprint store location and speaking with a member of management regarding your upgrade options.

      Thank you,


    As you might imagine, that's not response I was hoping for. Yet completely within the realm of what I expected. Here's my unedited reply back:

      Did you even bother to read what I wrote? Did you even bother to read
      what someone at your organization promised, then failed to follow
      through with?

      The answer to both of those questions is an obvious "no". Please
      change your account to SprintCaresNot.

Wow. Can't wait to see how this ends. Not. Though I'm pretty sure I can predict the future.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Talent is more about technique and less about tools

I'm fortunate to have lots of friends with talent. Talents come in many shapes and forms, but it seems a large number of mine are talented in artistic ways. I'm not without skills in this area. I'm just without the drive necessary to hone many of those.

Take video editing. I did some very VERY basic editing back in the late 80s. When it was hard. Well, maybe not hard. Manual might be a better word. But it's all digital now, and things are less-manual. But it still takes talent to go above and beyond. And if you've seen any of the videos I've ever put up, I don't have that talent. Or at least I haven't taken the time to hone it.

But my young friend Brent Weichsel has. For barely existing on the planet two decades, the boy knows what he's doing. And will only get better. Among the projects he's done is a a video for Scott Sigler's Ancestor contest. It's dark. Disturbing. Minimalistic. And really well done.

Did I mention disturbing? Yet I love it. It shows that you don't need a lot of bells and whistles to make something fantastic. You just need... talent.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trebuchet, by George Hrab

For months, I've been walking around, singing songs aloud that no one has ever heard of. That's not all that unusual, as my musical tastes plunder the eclectic. But recently, there's been an air of exclusivity to my music of choice. I was fortunate enough to get a copy of George Hrab's Trebuchet before it was available. And yes, I gloated. Loudly. And with feeling.

But that time is over. George has asked me -- and a host of others -- to make the .mp3 version of his entire album available as a single download here on my site. An honor to which I am happy to oblige.

What kind of music does George play? Well... that's hard to classify. And why I like him so. So I won't even try. If you're a fan of odd time-signatures like me, Hrab's music will appeal to you on a deep level. If you have no idea what the hell an odd time-signature might be, don't worry. No advanced music appreciation classes are necessary for the enjoyment of this album.

The image associated with this post is a word-cloud of the lyrics. The larger the word, the more often it's used. If you are fortunate enough to know George or his work, you'll immediately know why "know" is so prominent. George's music is smart. You will be, too, after listening.

So enjoy. And go buy the CD from CD baby. It comes with an incredible booklet. And everyone needs a backup. Plus, it supports an amazing (and I don't use that word lightly) artists doing incredible work.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

George Hrab's Owner of A Lonely Heart cover video

In about 18 hours, I'm going to do my level best to piss off a good chunk of those who consider themselves part of the creative class. I'd apologize in advance, but what I have to say needs to be said. For you are not as fantastic as you think. And those who keep telling you that you are share in the blame, so I'll be lambasting them, too.

But in advance of that, and to prove that I'm not a complete and utter curmudgeonly bastard, I present to you the antithesis of the above:

You can claim George Hrab has innate talent. He'll likely mention his education and hours of dedication and practice. Those of us fortunate to know him will attest to his unwavering dedication to quality and quest for perfection.

And he's creative. Scarily creative. Can you be this good at your chosen craft? Yes. Anyone can. But most won't. Which will you throw your lot in with?

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How NOT to get a free smartphone from Sprint

Image by louisvolant via Flickr
I'm having a blast in San Francisco. Sheila spent a long weekend with me, and now I'm attending ad:tech. Guess which part I like more?

And while I'm here, I've been continuing my "Give Evo an EVO" movement. Thus far, I've posted 27 videos of me pining for the new HTC EVO from Sprint. Hey, if you name a phone after me you should expect me to ask to be one of the people who get the sneak preview.

Here's the one from last night:

If this is the first time you're hearing about this, don't be surprised. I haven't pushed it very hard, outside of linking my YouTube account to Twitter. That's partly because I'm curious what YouTube can do on it's own. My answer: not much. Surprise! It needs pushing. I get 10s of views on videos that I don't push, with a mix of visits from Twitter and some searching on the keywords. And as you'll tell from the comments on the videos, the searchers aren't too happy with my daily habit. :)

But some of you have noticed. There's a Facebook Page for the Give Evo an EVO movement, and it wasn't set up by me. Promise. Nor did I request it be set up for me. Yes, I obviously know the person who did set it up. Thanks, Corey! So if you'd like to become a fan of like become a fan of the page, that'll help.

Some notable episodes if you don't want to wade through all 27 (and future) episodes:

So... time to push. Hey, I'm no David Lynch. And I know that some videos are more creative than others. The later in the day, the lower the creativity. Maybe I should do this in the morning? Sorry. Sidetracked.

Go watch some videos. Share and like some videos. And let's see if we can get Evo to give me, Evo, an EVO.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Can I get a cup of coffee?

Clearly, I am an enigma. Offer me a quality craftbrew beer and I can wax poetically about a host of subtle nuances that are completely undetectable -- or unpalatable -- to most consumers of beer. I can do the same (to lesser degrees) with scotch, sushi, tequila and chili rellenos.

But I have to scratch my head at boutique coffee shops. I really, really do.

Now don't get me wrong. The swill served out of my office's coffee machine is just that. And while I love me some donuts, the coffee they make for dunkin' isn't made for drinkin', IMHO.

I've never been a big coffee drinker. Mom wasn't. So I'm not. Hell, I drink Yerba maté most days, which puzzles the hell out of my co-workers. But from time to time I do enjoy a cup of coffee. And I've had some excellent coffee in a variety of flavors and permutations. Thanks to everyone who has helped me experience something new with the bean.

Now allow me to throw that all aside and tell you my dirty little secret: I like Circle K coffee.

[pause to let the retching sounds cease]

Circle K logoNo. Seriously. Circle K dark roast is damned tasty. For one thing, it tastes like coffee. I get 20 ounces for just over a buck and can add just a splash of half and half. Hard to find cream these days, I guess. And yes, I think it tastes great!

Even more important: I can always get a cup of coffee at Circle K. Yes, there are times when a nice mocha is what I need. I've been known to get an iced toddy when the weather is warm. Which it often is in Phoenix. But at that same place that makes a great mocha and a refreshing toddy, it's nigh impossible to get a cup coffee when I want a cup of coffee. You know, with coffee in it. Just coffee.

Go ahead and throw things virtually in the comments below. I'll manage.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weird Time - Ignite Phoenix #6

So right about the time of this posting, I should be on stage doing my thing at Ignite Phoenix #6! This is my fourth time to present to the Ignite crowd, and I'm stoked to be doing it again.

For those who can't make it and aren't watching the live stream, here's my dry run of Weird Time in SlideCast form. Note that I had rehearsed this for a couple of hours, nailed it, recorded another "Give Evo an EVO video" and drank a couple of glasses of scotch. So this one isn't nearly as polished as I know it will be be tomorrow night. No drinking then. Promise.

I hope you enjoy Weird Time. And I hope I've given the chance to do Weird Distance and Weird Numbers at future Ignite Phoenix presentations. I figure I'll keep submitting until they start turning me down. :)

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Help me convince Sprint that I need the new HTC EVO 4G... NOW!

Dear Sprint,

I just got off the phone with Monica. She's a great customer service rep of yours. She informed me that I've been a Sprint customer since December 1, 1999. Sure, we've had our ups and downs, but the scales have been tipped more in to positive for most of that time.

I pay you just under $200 a month for our service plans. Three of them. All phones with unlimited data plans -- the big ticket item for you -- because we use the heck out of our phones. My wife and I are both on the Pre, and our son -- 1st year of college -- is on the Rant. In a world where at least 75% of our friends have made the switch to the one that rhymes with "eye-bone", we've not. Primarily because I want a phone first and a device second. But also because I really don't want to switch away from Sprint. We just had our 10 year anniversary, and I'm sentimental.

HTCEVOBut enough beating around the bush. I want the new HTC EVO™ 4G, and I'd like it now please. You've already let Engadget play with one. Gizmodo gushed about the 3.7 seconds they had access to it. CNET, Slashgear... you must have employed Santa to get you all over town in a single day doing demos.

I realized I'm not those media outlets. I've got a decent rep in the social and digital sphere. Some say I'm an influencer. But I have one thing that those other places don't, and that one thing makes me the perfect spokesperson for the new HTC EVO™ 4G from Sprint:

My name is Evo!

Who better to be carrying around the EVO than Evo? It's not like you're going to get that guy from Bolivia to make you this offer. He's a little busy. And I don't think 4G coverage works there.

But that's OK. You don't need him. You've got me.

So let's do this thing. It's the least you can do, considering the branding hell you're going to give me with this product. Not like I already have to compete against the above mentioned guy, a car company, tree-huggers1 and dog food for my name, right? Reach me at 602-325-3045 and I'll give you an address where you can send the phone. We'll take care of the necessary paperwork when you're ready.

Yours in love with the EVO,


Note to friends: Help me get this phone first and to be THE spokesperson for it. Or at least just the first part. Tweet it, re-tweet it, facebook it, re-blog it, call your congressman, pressure, pressure PRESSURE! Let's see what happens. :)

Update: I put a plea out on YouTube, recorded with my Palm Pre. You could help spread that, too!

1 - OK, OK... I'm a tree-hugger, too.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where has the fun gone?

This is the Waldo we are looking for !
Image by Stéfan via Flickr
Actually, I'm having a lot of fun over on my new blog about digital business strategies, A Simpler Way.

Now you may not care. In fact, if you're a loyal follower of my antics over here, you probably don't care about the new blog. And that's OK. Just know that things may be a little slower over here as I shift my attention to there... and other places.

But I do have some new fun stuff to tell you about. And I'll still do that here from time to time. But I'm posting over there about 3x a week if you need more of me. And hey, who doesn't? :P

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Yes, I still write about podcating sometimes

Recently I was asked to write an article about podcasting. I don't do it very often, probably because I've said about all I had to say in the 2.5 books I co-authored on the subject. But this was an article about podcasting and fiction, and I haven't wrote extensively about that. I do that extensively, mostly though the love that is So... why not?

The article on ErgoFiction is now live. And no, it wasn't one huge commercial for the serialized free audiobooks we help distribute on At least, I don't think it was. You decide.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

The magic of Trololo

I went from hating this, to not being able to get it out of my head, to loving this.

And because I continue to run into people who've not experience the awesomeness that is Trololo...

There's also version for people on ludes, ecstasy, and LSD. Yes, each one is a different experience.

I love the internets.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Time gets weird at Ignite Phoenix #6 March 30th

W007! Just found out that I've been selected as one of the presenters at Ignite Phoenix the Sixth! I'm totally stoked!

When I wrapped up Ignite Phoenix #4, I said that had reached the end of my three-part series on Big. I sat out -- as in, in the audience -- for Ignite Phoenix #5 and a bunch of people asked me what I would be doing next! Guess I didn't bore you -- at least some of you -- to tears. I had lots of good suggestions from those who saw my prior talks. Many thought I should go Small, but I see small as a different type of big. Yeah I'm strange.

After batting a few of my own ideas around, the topic of Weird rose to the top. There are lot of things that aren't big or small but are damned weird, and I want to talk about them. So that's what I'll do starting March 30th. And I'll follow the same progression as before, with my first talk on Weird Time. No, you won't have to bring your International Baccalaureate high school physics teacher with you. Hi, Charlie. Though I think he'll like it, too. Expect what you've come to expect from me in these short talks -- a different way to look at something you've been surrounded with all your life.

Thanks to whomever green-lighted my talk. I'm happy to see some of my good friends also got the nod. It should prove to be an interesting night!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

More video silliness: Twitter Uncovered: History and Monetization Revealed!

It's been one of those months. Sorry. But though I've been neglecting the blog, I've not been neglecting fun.

Here's a bit of stupidity that Jeff and I came up with some time ago that has finally been green-lit. Green-lighted? Green-lanterened? Anyhow, it's all about the little-known monitization angle and history of Twitter.

Or maybe we just made it all up. My money is on the latter.

And if you missed what kicked this off, here's the two of us pontificating on social media. Yes, we're serious about being not serious some times. And all the props go to Joe Holt for shooting and editing. He truly is the man.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Help me find an email management system for

Email contact help needed for
Image by evo_terra via Flickr
You know about, right? Pushing around 80,000 episodes of close to 400 serialized free audiobooks out to thousands of listeners every single day. Some listeners opt to make a donation to a book, and the author gets 75% of that. Yeah, I'm a hell of a guy.

I use PayPal in a very non-automated system to handle both the collection of donations from donors and distribution of funds to authors/producers. I've got a pretty good system going, but there's one spot I constantly fall down on -- thanking those who have donated.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I simply can't thank each of these people one at a time. It takes me the better part of 2 days to do it when they pile up, and I simply don't have the bandwidth to do it daily. It's hundreds of people that donate per quarter, but thanking them individually takes time.

And I really don't like the thought of an auto "thanks" to be sent out as soon as the donation is received. Yes, I could set up PayPal or something else to do this. But I don't want to. What I'd rather do is wait -- maybe a month -- and then send out a big "thanks" email to everyone who donated during that time. I'd include some quick stats on growth, new books coming... that sort of thing. Something of more value than just a "thanks", but something that doesn't have to be customized for each donor.

And that's why I'm turning to you. I need personal recommendations on good, solid and inexpensive contact management services. I'm perfectly capable of searching Google on my own and doing research on my own, so spare me the links to LMGTFY. I want to hear from those of you who know of a system that will accommodate my needs.

Here's the weekly/monthly/quarterly workflow as I see it:
  1. Export week/month/quarter of donations from PayPal
  2. Import that list -- just names and email addresses, probably -- into CMS
  3. Write up a nifty little letter of thanks and tells the list a bit about what happened to Would like this to be pretty-fiable.
  4. Send.

That's it. Of course, I know I'm building up a list -- possibly a big list, though we have many repeat donors -- of donors. I may opt to, though I never yet have, send them important updates from time to time. Things like the new site launch, and when we start selling versions of some of our books, too. Those will be one-off and certainly few and far between.

I have the names and email addresses of everyone who has donated in the past, so I'd like to start with a big import of those (no sending of anything), then import a list of donors since October 2009 that have yet to be thanked... and thank them.

So... what do you think? More importantly, what do you use? Spread this around if you know someone who uses email/contact management software and may be of assistance.

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