They Call Me the Professor

24 06 2009

A friend just recently graduated from CU Boulder and asked me for some gems of wisdom about getting a job. It was interesting that she asked me, seeing as I’ve never really had a job. I mean, I have a job, but it’s not a job job, where I have a boss and paid vacation and benefits and a 401K and such.

I am, however, a master interviewer. I have probably been to 20 professional interviews in my short stint as a working professional. Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been offered every single one of those jobs. (This is me pretentiously brushing my shoulder and mouthing “No big deal”). I think that track record is pretty good, so yes, I’ll call myself a master interviewer. I’ve also written a published article about it, only adding to my masterfulness (which is a word).

The interview is the easy part, it’s getting your “foot in the door” that’s hard. If I’ve been to 20 interviews, I’ve sent 1,000 cover letters. I’ve written 500 iterations of my resume. I’ve worked with two placement companies, and I’ve had 20 jobs. And these aren’t full time jobs; these are freelance gigs, internships, and contract positions. I’ve actually only had one “real” job, and that only lasted for six months. Can’t cage a jackolope, I guess.

The thing is, I just don’t want to be tied to anything (*cough*commitment issues*cough*), and I’m not all that sure what I could do all the time. I can’t be a copywriter because I’d poke my eyes out with pencils every time some life-sucking editor changed my clever title “Holy Craps!” to “Playing Craps in Vegas.” I couldn’t work in advertising because they work waaaay to hard. I like this marketing business, but who knows how long that will last before I do something stupid and lose all of my clients. So here I am, wondering what advice I could possibly give this poor friend of mine, who so innocently looks up to me thinking that I’ve got it made.

I studied Journalism in college, where I was taught to only be partially honest. I wrote a couple Op-Eds that weren’t well received, except by (consequently) my all-time favorite professor, Kirby Moss. He loved them because of their honesty and spent three years convincing me that the world would love them, too. Do what you want to do all the time, and the money will take care of itself. That’s what he told me when he tried to talk me out of film school (one interview I never got). Just be a writer and don’t fall into the bullshit. Don’t be a screenwriter; your vision will just get stomped on. But Kirby, you have to make money somehow! He was awesome.

I see myself falling further and further away from the vision everyday I think of starting my own interactive agency, or becoming a professor, or starting a web start-up or moving to Aspen and becoming a fly-fishing guide. That’s not the path, I can hear him say. Just be a writer.

So to my friend, and anyone else with visions of being, I say this to you: The money doesn’t just come, the interviews don’t just happen, the cover letters don’t write themselves, and the jobs are never perfect. Life is the only thing you can really count on, so if you focus on that you might fail, but you’ll never be unhappy. Just be what you want to be and be damn good at it; and make sure you have way too much fun in the meantime.

Death to Friday

19 06 2009

It’s possible that it’s the state of the economy, or simply the state in which I live; but casual Friday seems to be getting old. And I don’t mean old like running out, I mean old like people are over it. We’ve all spent the last decade (well, some of you more than others) working 60+ hours a week, Fridays, Sundays and nights. Maybe the economic downturn that seems to be producing less work also means a chance for us to rethink the way we work. Eg., stop working so god damn hard and start enjoying are lives a little.

Someone said to me, it seems a little crooked that all we do is sit through five days a week waiting for two. That means 71% of our lives are spent waiting for the other 29% to happen. That’s lame.

Some annoying optimists would say that’s why you have to love what you do. But get serious. I love what I do, but it still means I have to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours watching my ass get fat. Which view do you prefer?

View from my office

View from my office today.



My view last Friday.

Hopefully all of this hubbub about phones that will be able to do everything and more than your PC will equate to just that: complete workplace mobility. Life without cubical walls. Equality for everyone to play golf on a Tuesday. Tanned thighs instead of just tanned heads and hands. Conference calls on the mountain tops. Oh to dream big.

At least for now, why can’t we all embrace the 9/80? Every other Friday off. It seems like a good first step to me. And maybe one day everyone will just embrace death to the Friday.

Get out my facebook!

18 06 2009

I couldn’t believe my ears when CNN started talking about their leads coming from Twitter, however unverifiable. Well maybe I could. Good thing John Stewart nailed it.

It’s amazing to me that as soon as all these white-hairs finally had something to call this phenomenon, Social Media, so they were able to suck all of the charm out of it, too.

“Social networking,” as you may so flippantly call it, Larry King, in your desperate attempt to stay relevant, has been around since the Oregon Trail. We invented text messaging back in ’95 when we took a pen and paper and wrote down which numbers correspond with which letters in the pager code alphabet. We invented social networking when we sat in front of the AOL dial-up screen and ate up 500 minutes in a chat room full of what we came to find out were pedophiles. I started an online newsletter when I was 10, before there was such thing as eMarketing. It was called Collage and it was a Word document sent out to my chat room following.

Basically, this stuff has been around and my generation knows it. So why is everyone thinking it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread? Because you are afraid that if you don’t start paying attention to the previously-dubbed lazy Gen-Yers, that we’ll stop listening? Here’s a news flash: We never listened.

Social media isn’t a fad. It’s just another way to advertise. It doesn’t replace anything (except for maybe your old stuffy PR firm that’s still making tangible clip books). Social media is a way to create ultimate corporate transparency. But is that what you really want? This decade of marketing is not Web 2.0. It’s customer service 1.0. If your customer service lacks, so will the overarching perception of your brand. Social media is just a faster way for customers to find out about it.

Fresh Powder and Fresh Cookies

18 06 2009

Published in the Winter 2009 Colorado Visitors Guide; by Claire Fisher

As a seven-year Colorado resident, I have done the ski shuffle many times: Waking up at 6am on a Saturday, grabbing coffee and bagel and trekking to the mountains, watching my car’s fresh tracks in the rearview mirror. But, this day we had gotten wind of a storm — and the promise of fresh powder — the night before, which prompted myself and a friend to skip work the next day, drive to Beaver Creek and rent a condo for the night.

Beaver Creek is not your typical ski resort. It’s like a mystical land out of a fairytale. It has heated walkways, escalators up to the base, moving walks between areas of the village, an unusually chipper staff and a man who plays a 10-foot horn year-round. This luxury means you’re “not exactly roughing it” (which happens to be the Beaver Creek Resort’s marketing slogan), but it does have some of the best bumps, shortest lift lines and steepest terrain in the central mountains. Nearly trumping all of that, however, are the free, fresh-baked cookies served at the bottom of the lift. It’s like Grandma’s house with an alpine backdrop.

The mountain is sprinkled with luxury cabins from which a lucky few can ski straight out onto the slopes. I was one of those fortunate people on this epic day, and I schussed directly to the first chair from my condo (actually, I took the moving walk). As I gazed at the slope beneath the lift and picked my route, I wondered what I’d be doing this fine Friday if I lived in any other state and concluded that whatever it was, it could never compare.

At the top of the Cinch Express lift, at the summit, my friend spotted something you only hear about in après-ski bars — an untouched run along the trees. For a weekend warrior, it is a bit shocking (and thrilling) to see a trail without any scars from previous skiers. We giddily slid over the morning powder, beckoning us like a smooth lake of foam from a Colorado beer. As we made our turns, letting out giggles of glee, we skied deeper and deeper into the woods.

Skiing along in my reverie, the mountain fell completely silent. Just then, it started to snow, and I could almost hear each snowflake hit its soft cushion. This is what the best ski days in Colorado are all about: an unspoiled run in the woods with good friends, a glorious powdery descent. Oh, and the promise of fresh cookies afterward. (download pdf with pretty pictures)

19″ in Beaver Creek

13 12 2008

In case you were wondering, I got mine. I’ve decided that this year I am fully dedicated to storm hunting. A crew of about 8 people and I got a place in Breckenridge for the weekend. It slept 10 and was a block from Main Street for $149 a night. And it was nice. Deals are flowing this year, so if you’re anything like me and you want to make sure your in the mountains on the weekends in case a storm hits, check out:

We chose Breck because the town is adorable and always a good time. However, I have passes at Copper, Winter Park and A-Basin, so you have to commit to a little commute. I think it’s worth it — Copper’s dead at night.
Saturday at Copper:
The snow was really soft and the trees had deep powder. However, the entire mountain isn’t open so it’s hard to make your way around the hill without the fear of poaching. Hopefully this will work itself out in the next couple weeks so you can ski care-free. After this storm, I can’t imagine any part of this mountain will stay closed for much longer.

My crew.

Sunday at Copper: Confusion was upon my group as we awoke at 7 am to check the snow reports. Resort TV that airs in Summit County claimed that Copper received 3”. Another reliable source, The North Face IPhone application, claimed 8, but the resort only claimed 3 as well. In actuality, they probably received between 8 and 12 in some places. Why would the resort under-sell themselves? Was it a typo? 3s and 8s do look alike. About mid-day I received my daily Copper Snow Report claiming 8. It was too late. I already made the executive decision to “hit up” Beaver Creek, who claimed 14″ in every snow reporting media – which to me meant it was a sure thing.

Beaver Creek this weekend: Got 19″ total. Sunday was my second ski day of the year. My legs were burning beyond burning. It was between 0 and 10 degrees all day. But the snow, as it tends to be at Beaver Creek, was phenomenal. We reached Stickline, a glade run off the Centennial Express lift, just as four ski patrollers auspiciously dropped the rope on it. I can’t really explain what this meant it words — but if you’ve ever stood alone in the trees with snow up to your waist, I’m sure you could imagine. You can find out more about why I LOVE Beaver Creek in my article in the Winter Colorado Visitor’s Guide — And it has nothing to do with the free, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies at the base.

Women, are you sick of freezing extremities?
Me too – which is better, mittens or gloves? Thin socks or layers? Tight base-layer or loose? Glove liners or hand warmers? I feel like no matter what I do, I can’t keep the circulation going in my finger and toes! Let me know your thoughts and recommendations! HERE

For snow reports on your IPhone: search on the ITunes library for The North Face and download the snow application. It lists all resort reports and resort maps. One more reason IPhones are the coolest.

The Un-Powder Days of Denver

3 12 2008

I have failed as the weekend adventure examiner. I haven’t been able to write because I’ve been bombarded by emails – 5 new inches here, 6 more there, 6-12 on Thursday, 32 at the top of Loveland. I’m not saying I don’t want it to snow… after all, snow will only benefit the overall season by creating a decent base. But here’s the thing, it is so overwhelming when you know there is powder to be had, and you can’t touch it. I can’t even turn on my blackberry because every two minutes I get a message from Copper, Winter Park, A-Basin, Steamboat, Taos, that says “MORE POWDER!”

And then there are my friends, all who are planning to “hit it up” this weekend – they won’t shut up.

There are no friends on a powder day. But it seems there is family. I will be traveling to California this weekend, just in time to get the beginning of the chilly rains of winter, and just late enough that getting in a bathing suit is completely out of the question. Hurray for me.

Last weekend, I spent my time playing touch football in Albuquerque with my 11 year old cousins – which was awesome – but that blackberry wouldn’t stop blinking. I wanted to tell you all about this slide-proof trail up on Berthoud Pass, which is up to my knees with fluff. But alas, I am writing about my weekend adventures yearning to be on skis.

Here’s my checklist for how to get through those un-powder days – the ones where you envy those jerks living up in Summit, skiing A-Basin in the morning before work:

  • Go see a movie. There are some really good ones out right now, like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It’s a holocaust movie, so it will certainly take your mind off your powder-woes (and make you feel guilty for griping).
  • Plan a trip for the following weekend – the one you can actually make it to the mountains. There are some great deals early season in Copper and Winter Park. Plus, if you come then, I’ll have some people to hang out with!
  • Cut off all ties with ski-bum friends. At least for the week.
  • Buy gear on It comes in about four days, so there’s four days of anticipation to help you pass the time.
  • Research the Acai Berry. It’s supposedly this super food that makes you lose weight. Oprah and Rachel Ray endorsed it, so you know it’s good. This research will take up at least three hours – you won’t believe what they’re saying. Finally, a miracle pill to make you lose weight! (Can you say tapeworm?)

Denver. You are so far from the powder, it hurts. Why do I have to have a job?! A family?! Responsibilities?! Because I like expensive Pinot Noir, that’s why.

For more people I hate: Teton Gravity Video
Credit: Thanks for the video HeyItsDaver on YouTube! (whoever you are…)
Email Me.You know you want to.

Avalanche and Backcountry Prep

19 11 2008

Don’t be a dummy. There’s a reason Colorado has the highest death-by-avalanche rate in the world. Now I’m not saying it’s because we’re a bunch of dummies, but by sheer volume of backcountry skiers in Colorado, surely we will win the title. However, preparation and the right gear increase your chances of surviving. DUH. But did you know that 3 out of 4 people die from being buried? Having a beacon significantly increases your chances of being found. Mostly, knowledge increases your chances of never getting caught in one to begin with.

What to buy: You know the tools:  probe, beacon, shovel. But did you ever think about what you’re friends are carrying? Your tools can be the best on the market, but it’s your ski-partners’ tools that are saving your life. Don’t skimp. Buy the good stuff. You don’t want that cheapo shovel you bought at a garage sale to be the reason you lost your best friend.

Get over it: Beacons are expensive and rarely go on sale. However, REI is having a sale Nov. 21-December 1 on the Backcountry Access Tracker Transceiver for $229 (originally $289). So there you go, on a silver platter. Don’t worry, I’ve already got mine.

Back to School: There are as many free avalanche courses in Colorado as there are dumb enough people not taking them.

Want to learn more? Then read a book! (these can be found at REI also)
Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass by Jonathan Lipp
Staying Alive by Bruce Tremper
Now, I am not a backcountry expert. This is my inaugural year. I’m buying skins, randonees, AT gear, and taking the courses. And I’m still scared. I’ll let you know how this all plays out for me this year, so stay tuned!