Chantae! Thank you so much for visiting with my classes last week! You were such an inspiration for them!
Long Beach State is a great school. But it is also a working class school. I often remind myself that students at Stanford have probably been told every day of their lives that they can and should be empowered people. That they can innovate. That they can disrupt. That they can invent their own futures. That they can change the world.
I don't think any of my students have ever been told that. Not even once. You talk was filled with valuable details on how to actually build a career. I think those details will help them. Those details will specifically help some students, and they will more generally or contextually help many others. But even more basically, I hope that you gave them permission to dream, and to seriously consider living out those dreams.
Both times you spoke I wanted to ask, and then forgot to, about your famous 2010 trip to Nicaragua. You said you were in a philosophy class and that you googled,
What can I do with $500?
I don't think you actually said that the philosophy class was boring, but I sort of assumed that.
It seems like the life you are living today is very you! Perhaps you'd be here no matter what. But it's also amazing to think about all the semi-random events in our lives that somehow add up to our experiences, our identity, our reality.
This is Maya Cox she was hoping to join us for lunch. At least, as you can see in the photo, she got to chat with you in class. She graduates next week and begins a world tour, starting in London, on 10 July. She was so excited about your talk!
I think you inspired my students. I know you inspired me! I've got a zillion websites, mostly WordPress and some other platforms. I write posts for classes, art projects, clever observations, and so on. But I've never really tried to focus on a niche, or to build an audience.
After your talk, it feels crazy to love The Net as much as I do, and to spend as much time messing around with websites as I do, and not focus on finding and connecting to an audience. Whether or not I'll have the quantity, quality, and relevance to monetize, I'm not that concerned about right now. But at least to focus more makes so much sense.
So, what's my new website?
I did like your idea of having a site for the city you live in. And your insight that hosting so many CouchSurfers might give me some eye on what visitors are interested in.
Of course, I'm also involved in the arts. And really, I should be, and would like to be, more involved. When I hosted the radio show it was an "excuse" to read books, go to music and dance concerts, look at art, and so on. Being engaged in the community and doing some form of journalism is a nice, symbiotic scenario, I think.
Even though I might be able to write a few articles about Tourists & The Stars on Hollywood Boulevard, I'm not sure that I'd really have that many articles to write, nor that I'd be all that passionate about them.
But perhaps some sort of Art 4 Tourists, (with a better name) is something I could write over a longer stretch. Besides an enormous music scene, Los Angeles is home to huge museums, batches and batches of indy art galleries, dance and theatre performances, and more. Apparently it's also a big YouTuber hub.
When I hosted the radio show, I did not do reviews. I focused on feature interviews. I think reviews weren't my thing. I feel like good reviewers are ridiculously smart. And maybe a bit egotistical too. Their job is kind of to tell playwrights and actors what to go do with their production. I loved the feature interview because it was less about me. Also I can recall a time or two where I interviewed a choreographer or other artist, and I hadn't really thought their work was all that successful, but when we discussed their ideas — wow — they were really going for something. As a critic it's your job to say that they didn't achieve it. As a feature interviewer you get to explore powerful ideas with this artist. You get to explore the artistic impulse. The urge to create.
All that, and I just think the arts are so marginalized in our culture. Yes we need critics, but I'd rather be a cheerleader and celebrate the impulse to make, to create, to express, to speak.
As you know, I'm a little obsessed with free speech, free culture, openness, transparency, and pretty much all things that American Presidents, new and old, hate. What I have come to appreciate is that Speech is incredibly fragile. It isn't nearly enough to say that we tolerate free speech. You have to encourage it. Celebrate it. Tease it out of the reluctant.
Every time Tehran issues a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, or Beijing arrests Ai Weiwei, or Moscow imprisons Nadya Tolokonnikova, or DC sentences Chelsea Manning, I can't even imagine how many thousands learn the lesson of self-censorship for decades to come.
So, uh, Art & Speech 4 Tourists - huh - maybe a little too eclectic! :P
I'm not sure what Art 4 Tourists + a dose of Liberal Mediology exactly is… maybe it's "California Republic." Just brainstorming, of course! But perhaps there's a space that could make sense. No doubt travelers would be interested in Art Activities & Events. IDK if dabbling over toward my ideological tendencies makes any sense or not. Even before Trump, I do think the majority of the CouchSurfers I hosted were politically aware and interested. Linda & Joe from Kirchentellinsfurt, Germany were here in January '16. Joe said that clearly, only stupid people would vote for Trump, but that to their surprise, after crossing the breadth of of North America, they hadn't actually met any stupid Americans. I had a fabulous time trading John Oliver FIFA videos with Carl & Maria from Sweden. Anyway, probably SoCal Arts is more than enough!
What do you think, Chantae!?
I mentioned that I spoke at WordCamp LA '15. My talk was on Sustainable WordPress. I asked the question,
Will your grandkids be able to read your blog?
And tried to answer it. WCLA '17 is coming up Sept 29-Oct 1. I'm thinking I might submit a proposal for WordPress for Writers. Even though WP began life as blogging software, WordCamps are, I think, kind of dominated by people working on CMS' for business applications. But there are writers there too. Journalists. Bloggers. Corporate content creators. So a look at techniques, tools, and choices for writing, might be an interesting talk.
I was telling you that I upgraded my WordPress installs from PHP 5.4 to 7.1 and the speed improvement was impressive. (PHP is the programming language that WordPress and lots of other things are built on. And FYI, there was no PHP 6. The sequence is 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 7.0, 7.1)
We should have looked at your site while we were sitting on the veranda outside the food court! I meant to do that! Oopsy! Anyway, IDK if you have WHM, cPanel, etc, or how SiteGround works, but the easiest thing might be to just install a dashboard plugin. It puts a panel up on your dashboard with various info on your site. You could leave it there if you like it, or just install it to see if you might want to contact SiteGround about your PHP version or not, and then uninstall it. I use a simple plugin called Site Info.
When you spoke to the class you went through your daily schedule I think you said 3 hours each morning of writing, followed by 3 hours of… hmm… I forget… was it 3 hours of writing for other publications and 3 for your own? Or was it pursuing projects?
It was interesting because you lead such an active life that someone like me, looking from a distance, can think you only ever spend time doing sports in the water! Yet apparently you're staring at a flat screen for hours a day! Just like so many of us! :P
Do you use a treadmill desk? I do - it's the greatest thing. You definitely don't seem to be at all short on movement, but still, they say that
Sitting is the new smoking
So I like the treadmill desk a lot!
Here's a few links!
My TEDxCSULB talk is supposed to be out next month. Meanwhile, here's a short video from late last year that sort of got the ball rolling for the ideas I expanded upon in the TEDxCSULB talk:
Oh! I forgot to say all day that I first learned about you from a short, 1-page article you wrote for Surf Girl magazine on keeping a surfing log. I've kept a scuba log in the past and I thought it might be nice to try keeping a workout log. Something very brief that could be updated daily. Well, I kept it for a month or so. Then I got carried away in a surf ski race and I think I tore something in my shoulder. I'm finally going in to have it looked at in a week, but anyway it would up causing my workout log to lapse.
Thanks so much for spending your day with us Chantae! The students loved hearing about your work - I'm already hearing have more visiting artist talks! And I had a wonderful time meeting and talking with you.