Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

I’ve been to San Francisco a few times now.  I’m a lucky man.

First time wasn’t as a man at all, but as a boy, travelling with my parents on a trip down to California one summer.  I don’t even remember if we stopped there… I think maybe just for part of a day.  I remember the Redwoods, and Disneyland, and motels, but San Francisco, not so much.

I next went there driving a red Chevy Beretta, with my friends K.T. and Debbie onboard.  We slept in a clean hotel in a slummy area, and I new it was clean because it reeked of disinfectant.  One of us had to sleep on the floor.  It was so long ago that I forget who it was, but it might have been me.  I learned never to drive a stick shift car in this city.

I went there several times with Susie. We stayed once with our friend Chris, listening to his electronic keyboard mixing with the traffic noise rising from the street below.

We also spent our honeymoon there, at the Triton Hotel at the gates of Chinatown, and the hotel’s brightly colored, Dr. Suessian furniture was whimsical and lovely. We walked the dark streets, found a French cafe and had mussels, bought a Tintin bathmat for our new shared bathroom from the official Tintin store, sadly long-closed.

I’ve gone there for conferences, most recently for EECI, where I learned that ExpressionEngine developers are excellent drinkers but yet bad at organizing where to meet for drinks.

This time, I was there for ONA2012, the Online News Association conference that brings the editors and producers of online news away from their computer screens to exchange tips, see new tools, and learn about the latest trends that affect how news is created and distributed online.

I’ve gone to this conference on and off for the last 12 years, and this was a fantastic version of the conference.  There were so many people from beyond the U.S. borders (including me, I suppose).  And there was a polish and an energy to the conference that really made the experience wonderful.

Compared to the last one I attended, this one had more of a feeling of being about the meetings, the networking, in the vein of South by Southwest Interactive.  And yet, the sessions I attended were uniformly excellent, with the best one being Amy Webb’s “10 Tech Trends”, which was not just interesting, but also gave really excellent meta-advice on how you yourself could tell if something is going to BE a trend.

I heard there were about 1500 attendees there, at the Regency Hyatt, but there were basically no problems despite this number; lines were short, wifi ran smoothly, the sessions were on time, and I have moved this conference back onto my list of “Class A” events to attend if you, like me, like online content.

Sunday, there was no conference to do, but I decided to spend the day as a tourist, and I wandered all up and around the city that I first came to as a student. I explored Union Square and Missiona and Chinatown, walked down to the Ferry Building, did some light shopping and ate at Lori’s Diner. I passed 13 Starbucks on my walk, took some amusing pictures, and generally had a wonderful day.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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