Saving Lives with Cameras

A camera changed Devin Allen’s life, and he’s using that to better the lives of kids in Baltimore, MD.

One camera, an encouraging word, $5 thrown at a GoFundMe; if a camera can change one person’s life, could it change another? Could it help change 10 kid’s lives?

We can ponder and debate but we’re wasting our time. Devin is just doing it, with or without your help. Will your $10 matter? Who knows? But letting go of a few dollars (right here) could unlease something in the cosmic soup and make the world a better place.

Facebook Hates You

Matt Klinman of Funny Or Die had some pretty harsh words for Facebook, and for good reason.

Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.

Read his full interview over at Split Sider – it’s fucking good (and check out his Twitter).

Think about this; this is Funny or Die, not some small band trying to get 50 people to a gig. Or getting a dozen people to your local political event. Facebook throttles what your fans see, so rather that show your fans some tour dates it’ll show them a funny cat video that 324 shared in the last hour.

Your new video premiere? Buried under an avalanche of political drama and probably some post from a music blog about some guy playing a cover of a Metallica song with a kazoo.

Think your fans will see your post about crowdfunding your next EP? Nah, some celeb wore a Megadeth shirt!

Facebook will not help you. Twitter doesn’t care about you being harassed. Tumblr is owned by YAHOO. Instagram is owned by Zuckerburg and turning into trash by the minute.

I implore you: buy a domain name, build an email list, and send some goodies to your fans using the mail.

“But I’ll lose my 21,381 followers,” you may say. Chances are you’re only reaching 0.1% of those followers anyway, so revel in the 200 people on your email list. At least you can reach all of them.

Glowing After Weary Travels

My flight was delayed, and two babies screamed pretty much the entire duration like it was their jobs (which, as a friend mentioned, is sort of their actual job). We hit a good amount of turbulence which made me think the baby screaming wasn’t actually that bad. You know, compared to us falling out of the sky and plummeting to our demise.

A number of people nearby kept trading glances at the parents of the screaming children. Mind you, this was a three-hour flight. If a few hours of baby screaming is the worst thing to happen to you all day, on a budget-class flight, be thankful.

As I wrote about before, sometimes we have to sit through things to arrive at better things.

I’ve had to run every other day for nearly two years before I could casually head out for a seven mile run with no great pain or discomfort.

To completely avoid screaming babies, scary turbulence, and a snowy 30-minute delay, I would have to cancel all my plans and just stay indoors. But I would have missed sitting on a dock, or running along a waterway, or having a good conversation with an old friend.

All those things are glowing, but they’re never automatic. They don’t come easy, as is the case with most things worth experiencing.

Midnight Writing

Perhaps it’s the nature of blog writing in 2018. A less connected medium, free from a socially networked place where we’ve remained logged in for several months without ever needing to remember our password. After not writing like this a year or more, with no expecting audience, it’s a bit freeing.

Midnight writing can go two ways; either it’s on a deadline, cramming to finish some arbitrary word count for an editor at 7 am, or it’s typing away at something that might never be read by more than a dozen people. In either case, the night is still and only odd sounds disrupt the clacking of the keyboard; either ghosts or some intruder (though neither are the case 100% of the time).

Writing at the midnight hour, for no one, for myself, for someone who might read this seven months from now. Its purpose unknown at the time, other than an urge to write, and tending to the desires of the muse is advisable (please see ‘Turning Pro’ for Steven Pressfield). Maybe this writing gets published and it gets 20 clicks, or maybe it moves one person to tears or action or rage and their entire universe is uprooted.

That’s why there’s midnight writing. Or the graffiti artist operating under the moonlight. A musician recording one more take on their laptop before diving into bed before another shift in the morning.

Its midnight, and we must write.


When I hit the road back in 2010 on my bike I used a Chrome messenger bag. Eventually, I switched to a Chrome Yalta, and that was my go-to bag for many years. I’ve got a Goruk GR1 which I really don’t use enough, but it’s a great bag for day trips or hikes in the woods.

Then I started running in 2016, and could finally run longer distances, so when I traveled I wanted to be able to run once I got to my destination. Packing extra shoes, shirts, shorts, and jackets… running gear takes up some serious space.

I purchased a Patagonia 60L Black Hole Duffel Bag in February of 2017, so almost a year now. It’s big enough for an extra pair of shoes, running gear, regular clothes, and a small Timbuk 2 laptop sling (I usually check this duffel when flying, or throw in the cargo hold of the bus, then keep the laptop bag with me). In between buses and trains I can throw it over my shoulder with the hand straps, and if going extra distances I break out the straps and carry it on my back.

The Glow

I love long, drawn-out songs for the glow.

One of my favorites is Cult of Luna’s ‘Echoes.’ It’s from the 2004 album ‘Salvation,’ and is one of four songs longer than 10 minutes on the record.

God, this sounds like a fucking “album review,” but hear me out.

This isn’t a quick and easy song to digest. You have to sit down and take it in, in much the same way you don’t just sit down with ‘The Big Lebowski’ and skip ahead to your favorite scenes.

Back to ‘Echoes.’ The “pay off” doesn’t come until the 5:30 mark. You sit there, be patient, and when it hits, oh wow, does it hit.

Now, since this isn’t an “album review,” let me explain how this fits in other parts of my life as of late.

Getting up at 7 am to meet some other people on a cold, rainy Sunday morning doesn’t sound delightful. Then running five miles with wet, muddy feet? Why do that?

After all that trouble, the wait, the grind, I get that payoff. It’s something I’ve been feeling since I started running back in 2016. It’s the tunnel vision, the focus, like a secret you have that you can’t explain to anyone.

The glow.


I’m not trying to knock writing on the web, I’m really not. But holy damn, when you can watch a video like the one above, when Cory Henry launches into this solo? Watch out!

I’ve said it before; the writing of a seasoned pro appears exactly the same as an unpaid intern when presented on a website. The pixels, the fonts, the layout – serioualy, after 10+ years of meandering on the web, side-by-side, at first glance, it’s the same.

Sure, after reading a few lines you’ll tell which is which, but those are precious seconds that add up over the course of your day, a month, a year. Add in the fire-hose of shovel blogging, “me-too” editorials, and you see where I’m going with this.

Watch Henry’s solo (around the 4:00 mark, linked here) and you’ll see it – you won’t need to guess if it’s worth your time.

A podcast host either has it or they don’t, like a room full of musicians either bring it or they don’t. 

Because, dammit, you see it. The click-bait headlines. The social media tricks to get people to follow a link. You can just taste the tactics these days, can’t you?

Make the gates of joy and awe spring open when you release your thing. Every day. All the time.


While working at a cramped Starbucks near a busy university, I couldn’t help overhear a conversation between two people catching up. From what I heard, the one person was a personal nutritionist on the side.

She spoke of a hobby she picked up; Olympic power lifting. She got really good at it. Good enough to place well at some regional competition, apparently.

I’m paraphrasing here, but her reason was thus:

“I wanted to do something that could demonstrate my nutritionist work.”

Anyone can pick up a book and recite its contents with enough study. But it’s another thing entirely to take what you know, add your magic, and hard work, and produce a tangible result.

After leaving AOL Music in 2011 I knew I had the skill-set to help people share stories online. That’s how Skull Toaster was born! I have my resume’ sure, and that says plenty, but Skull Toaster is me showing, “I built a brand from scratch, with an engaged social media following, and a nightly email list with a 40+% open rate since 2012.” Ahem, hiring managers.

The folks at Coudal have been doing this for years. They’ve created plenty of campaigns for clients over the years, but then started making their own products. Why not? They already know how to make websites and ads and Twitter accounts. One of their projects was the Field Notes brand of notebooks, which they did with Aaron Draplin.

“There wasn’t any big corporate plan, or venture capital or a full page ad in the New York Times or anything; we printed up a batch, bought a domain name and let it grow from there.”

Just start. Find people to work with (not ask, “what do you think of this idea?”), and get it going.