Good enough, Day 15: Arts & crafty


As the heat finally and mercifully receded this morning, it occurred to me that I need not put up with the crap design, lame typography, and gratuitous use of American flags that goes hand-in-hand with low-end school supplies. Not as long as my "Stickers" file remains well stocked. (Related: feel free to mail me your unwanted stickers.)

xxx c

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

[video] Travel baggie hack!

[watch Travel baggie hack on YouTube; running time 3:01]

Amazingly simple tip that has helped quell my (considerable) anxiety about arriving or departing without mission-critical dongles, USB cords and other electronic doodads when traveling.


  • the appropriately-sized zippy freezer bag for electronic crap
  • an index card and writing device

What you do:

  • make list of the crap that goes with your crap on index card
  • stick in bag
  • check list ITEM BY ITEM when packing on either end

As I show in the video, you want to account for all moving parts, as it were. So I don't just list "remote", I also list "USB stick for remote" and "hideous foam case for remote." (Well, I abbreviate.)

And don't forget: putting your name and number on all your stuff makes you a nerd, but it makes you a nerd with a much higher chance of being reunited with your crap if the two of you become separated.

Questions? Comments? Improvements? Leave them in the comments!

Thanks, and safe travels.

xxx c

Tip via my pal Sean Bonner, who probably doesn't use it anymore because he is a mad-crazy citizen of the globe and travels light.

[video] Roll your own "flix" queue

[Watch "Create your own 'flix' queue" on YouTube; running time 3:34]

I'm a big fan of Netflix streaming video, but there are also other groovy things on the Internet that I might want to watch sometime, "sometime" being "later, not now while I'm busy trying to stop procrastinating with these other five things and get back to work."

As I say in the video, I used to just save videos to my delicious bookmarks, but I'd find myself forgetting to go there and look for stuff in the heat of the video moment. And because I lurve how easy and delightful it is to create nice-looking, well-behaved drop-down bookmark folders in Chrome, I experimented with storing them there, and found it made much more sense. I mean, I'm there, at the computer, usually about to be four feet away, doing Nei Kung or ten feet away, making lunch, and why not just have that stuff at the super-ready.

So if you cannot bear to watch video (I sympathize and empathize), here's the drill:

  1. Create a folder in your bookmarks bar labeled something you'll remember.
  2. Bookmark the video you want to save for later.
  3. Edit the title that propagates the bar (I like to have 00:xx first, then a spacer, then something just brief enough to quickly parse)
  4. If desired, get Virgo on that shit and drag your movie bookmark into ascending or descending order, time-wise.

That's it!

Have fun, and if you use and like this (or modify it to like it better), please do let me know.

xxx c

P.S. I know it is a totally crazy nutball thing, but as I was working on this video, Netflix went down. I KNOW.

* * * * *

Various & sundry:

If you're a professional photographer, you should definitely get your shutterbug ass to Chicago for next week's Midwest tour stop of Strictly Business 3, the outstanding biannual conference put on by the American Society of Media Photographers. Insane quantities of high-quality workshops, sessions and talks, including mine (mine...MINE!!!), "How to Make People Love You Madly: Selling Yourself in the Postmodern Marketplace." April 1-3, the Allerton Hotel (tip-top-tap, old-timers!), Chicago.

As a past speaker at the Creative Freelancer Conference, I have a (not very) secret code to get you an additional $50 off the early bird registration, for a total of $80 off: CCW11. The CFC is back in Chicago, which is a lovely place for a conference, and if you're a creative type who's self-employed, I encourage you to take a look. Lots of great relationships have been born and blossomed at the previous three CFCs, and the information and personal attention is top-notch. (I make nothing on that link, baby, it's all you.)

Finally, I'm DELIGHTED to be performing at this Sunday's Tongue And Groove, Conrad Romo's outstanding spoken-word showcase at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., 90028. Six bucks, cheap; starts PROMPTLY at 6pm, and we've got a hard out at 7:30. OLD PEOPLE NIGHT. (Just kidding, I'm sure you'll go out clubbing all night afterward.) The rest of the lineup: James Brown (This River), Jo Scott-Coe (teacher at Point Blank), Alan Berman, J. Keith van Straaten, with musical guest Juli Crocket and the Evangenitals (my new-favorite band name).

[video] Curbing (online) impulse spending

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbv7wIBR2o&w=480&h=390] [Watch "Curbing (online) impulse spending" on YouTube; running time 2:24]

What this is:

Having taken quite the hiatus from earning money last year, even dealing with it, you might say, I've been getting very serious about becoming a grownup with money. I promise not to turn this blog into a big, long, snoozy preachfest, but as I think of little ideas that might be useful or fun to share, you know I'll do it. Because that's how I roll, baby!

In this video, I explain a little browser-bookmark action thingy I do to maintain some control where there might otherwise be impulse spending. Basically, it's a semi-nerd version of creating a little distance between you and the purchase, to see if you really want it. You're probably doing this anyway, because you are way smarter about curbing your impulses. As I say in the video, I'm not half-bad at it in real life, outside of bookstores and when there is delicious (legal) food around.

Some notes on this week's video:

I got all CRA-A-A-AZY with ScreenFlow this time and taught myself two new tricks. See if you can spot 'em! (Just kidding, I learned how to make things bigger and smaller and how to make a spotlight thingy. I feel omnipotent and will probably try to chew through a car bumper now, just for fun.)

The site whose amazing stuff I'm lusting over is Tinkering Monkey. I want that Don lamp so bad I can taste it. (Tastes like car bumper! Rrrrrawr!) But the pendant, now that's a nice, modest treat a lady could get for herself if she did a really good job at something-something, right?

Sigh. I can point fingers all I want, but I'm as much a product of consumer culture as anyone I'd be pointing at.

xxx c

UPDATE [03/16/11]: I've removed the pendant from the menu bar because (drumroll) my friend Mike Monteiro surprised me with one at SXSW. Thank you, Mike! And I love you, little tinkering monkeys!

Rid yourself of unsightly browser tabs [video]


[Watch "Rid Yourself of Unsightly Browser Tabs" on YouTube; 2:29 minutes]

After recording this, it occurred to me that there's a whole thought process behind using this hack which may not be immediately apparent in the hack itself. So if you're still confused after watching the video, or if you'd rather skip the video altogether, this written rationale may prove useful.

If you're like me, you occasionally find yourself with a fat, soggy browser and a million open tabs, wondering how the hell you got there and more importantly, how the hell to get back to the original thing you were working on that had you launch that initial tab in the first place without losing all the good stuff you just found.

And if you're like me, you probably also know about the convenient "bookmark all tabs in folder" feature baked into modern browsers. It's great for creating a collection of tabbed windows you'd use for, say, blogging (your WordPress dashboard, Flickr, a dictionary site) or your daily social media circuit (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Reader, etc) or what have you.1

What is less obvious or intuitive or whatever (at least to me) is where and how to save them. And to answer that, you have to look at why you're saving them. (Note: this is the key, lifesaving question to ask whenever you find yourself doing almost anything automatically, a quick "why" can stop the senseless spiraling-downward, save you a boatload of pain, and start to usher in meaningful changes.)

In my case, I'm usually saving them for two reasons, one "good" and one psycho.

The "good" reason is that in wandering off, I've likely found some juicy stuff I might want to read more carefully or share or otherwise implement to make me better/stronger/faster.

The psycho reason is that I am terrified to let go of something for fear of that whole, vague, Depression-born, clutter-laden "But what if I need it later?" mindset. (In fairness, I often have needed something later, and spent stupid extra time trying to hunt it down via browser history or brain-scraping.)

My version of "save all tabs in folder", then, mimics the time-tested decluttering practice of moving clutter you're unsure about to a holding area for a certain period of time before pitching it completely. It's also not unlike what some have called "declaring email bankruptcy", moving all of your unanswered, saved, crufty emails to one folder and starting with a fresh, new "inbox zero."

  1. I have one folder in my menu bar labeled "current."
  2. When I wake up from zombie-like surfing to realize I have 20 tabs open and a column still on deadline, I execute a "save all tabs to folder."
  3. I label that folder with the date. (I use a built-in TextExpander shortcut to do this: year/month/day, written as YYYY_MMDD to keep things neat and tidy.)
  4. I save that folder as a subfolder in the "current" folder.

Now I have a neatly-marked and organized history of where I was at the moment I wandered off. I usually end up saving the subfolders for a month or so; a little distance makes a remarkable difference in the ability to discern useful from clutter-ful, which is the point. But also, if I did happen to have something immediately useful open, it's much, much easier to find in the next few days when it's stuck in a folder with the date, in a place where I can reliably find it. Which draws on another great ADD person's hack (which was just commonsense Heloise-type stuff before we all knew about ADD): "Always leave your (keys/purse/etc) in the same ONE place."

That's it!

Please let me know what you think in the comments. On the video posts, I'm especially interested in reactions and helpful feedback to make these things better. And I'm especially ESPECIALLY interested, because I'm going to teach myself how to actually use all of the great features in Screenflow this year to make better screencasts.


1In Chrome, Firefox: ⌘ + shift + D. In Safari, you have to use the drop-down menu, although if you want to get super-fancy, you can find an AppleScript that does the trick. And if you're still using Internet Explorer?Please use it right now to download a copy of Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

iPhone addy hack for introverts [video]


[watch "iPhone addy hack for introverts" on YouTube; 1:35 minutes]

This is so dirt-simple and so effective it will blow your mind. And you don't even have to watch the video, although it's kind of a cute one, complete with A SURPRISE PLOT TWIST, so maybe you might want to.

Here's the deal: many, many introverts hate answering the phone. Hell, as far as I can tell, there are a fair number of extraverts who hate answering the phone. The phone sucks! Except when the phone is awesome, like when it hooks you up with your fave people who cheer you up and make your life nicer and better for five minutes.

So what you do is, dirt-simple, remember?, assign a nice photo to each person you need or want to talk to on your smartphone. Er, iPhone, I'm pretty sure you can do this with any phone that has a camera, but I'm Apple-centric and what do I know from other telephonic devices? Nothing, that's what.

Bonus-extra ridiculous-but-useful tip: if there is someone you really, really do not want to talk to but must for some reason, name them something cute in your address book ("Rainbows and Flowers!" "Ice Cream and Doilies!"), pick an adorable picture of bounding puppies or bunnies in cups, and you will answer every stupid, hateful call with a secret smile on your face. Or, you know, just smile as you watch them go into voicemail.


People in this video (besides me): Heidi Miller (social media/self-promo junkie); Jodi Womack (women's business networker extraordinaire)

Making gatherings better [video]


[Watch "Helpful Networking Thingy" on YouTube; 03:12 minutes]

We had a great time at last week's Biznik event at Jerry's Deli. We pretty much always do, but this time, we introduced a new, fun, sharing-kinda thing that really reinvigorated everyone, provided interesting things to talk about and gave each of us insight not only into each other, but some ways we might improve our lives and businesses moving forward.

I describe one of the tools I used in the video above. Basically, it comes down to this:

  1. Have each attendee to your gathering come with a problem or question they'd like to crowdsource.
  2. Provide some means for them to write the question and collect answers, we used 8.5x11" sheets and markers, and laid them out on a table. I rolled out some kraft paper underneath it all so I could tape the sheets neatly. You could also put giant sheets up on the wall, or use a big whiteboard and take pictures after.

If you're the organizer, it's helpful to seed things with a question or two, or press a willing friend to ask one as well. It will help people get over their initial shyness with the new idea.

If you were one of the attendees and happen to be reading this, please feel free to leave your thoughts about how this worked in the comments.

If you've done something like this and achieved great success with getting people to loosen up right away and share, I'd love to hear your methods.

Oh, and if you're an entrepreneur in the Los Angeles area, I'd love to meet you at an upcoming event. There's one on February 16th; sign up for Biznik (free!), then you can RSVP to the event.



Knowing you're getting your money's worth [video]


[Watch "Entertainment Book Hack" on YouTube; 1:45, I'm gettin' there!]

One of the most baffling (but flattering) bits of feedback I kept getting last year was that I should post more videos.

WHATEVER. I mean, who watches videos when they can read? Only, well, I get it. There's a je ne sais quoi about seeing someone on video, where the "quoi" is "you get a much better real-time feel for what they're really like." And not everyone can come to the excellent and lively Biznik mixers I host out here in Los Angeles, or to SXSW, or wherever, so there you go. Me, out loud and in your damned face, from the comfort of your desk. Or the couch, if you're on an iPad.

I will try like crazy to keep these like me, on the short side, but as you know if you've met me in person, I am one loquacious motherf*cker. This one clocks in at 1:45, which ain't bad. On the other hand, there's probably :15  worth of actual info, so, you know, not great, either.


I have been buying those stupid Entertainment Books for years, since getting roped in by a fellow Toastmaster who was helping his Girl Scout daughter raise money.

The cover of this thing says "OVER $18,200 IN SAVINGS," but frankly, if you ate that much fast food and saw that many stupid Hollywood blockbusters, you'd need twice that amount in colon hydrotherapy, plus a good smack upside the head.

Still, theoretically there are enough good deals in there for most of us IF we plan carefully and use them. So this year, I'm taking it out of the theoretical and into the measurable. You can, too. Here's how:

  1. Affix large Post-It type sticky note to front of book.
  2. Write down amount paid for book.
  3. Each time you realize savings, write down the item/date/amount.
  4. Add up at end of year and see if you've been a sucker or a smarty-pants. (NB: I have not done this part yet.)

That's it!

As per usually, feel free to leave comments and suggestions here, or email me if you're feeling shy: colleen AT communicatrix DOT com.

And if you have awesome money-saving tips to share with other frugal types, do leave them in the comments.

Oh, most importantly, if you have ideas for things you think would make good videos, please please please let me know. Until I learn to orient myself toward video thinking, it's gonna be an uphill slog.



Video Vednesday: To-read/Amazon Wishlist hack


(on an iPhone/iPad/non-Flash-friendly device? Click here to watch on Vimeo, I think.)

In an effort to wrangle my ever-growing list of books I'd like to read, I've played with everything from hard-copy lists in pocket notebooks to Evernote, with a thousand .txt files in between.

My ideal list is:

  1. easiest to use on my computer (since I'm here most of the time)
  2. portable, so I can consult it when I find myself in an indie or used bookstore, grappling with overwhelm
  3. digital (because my handwriting sucks, and because it is easier to copy stuff digitally)
  4. updatable from multiple devices (i.e., is something I can sync between a handheld device and my computer, which is technically portable but which is such a hassle to haul around, I avoid it where I can)
  5. provides a way to sort by genre, author, etc
  6. contains a reminder of how I came to find this book (i.e., reco) and/or other context

The hack I describe in the video uses Amazon's Wishlist function and their browser add-on, the Universal Wishlist tool. It's easiest to describe how easy it is by showing it (hence, the video), but basically, you plug the title of the book you like and "Amazon" into your browser's search field, then click on the inevitable Amazon link that comes up. Instead of adding to your wishlist then and there, you click on the Universal Wishlist add-on, which brings up a little dialogue box that includes a space for comments. In this comments field, you add whatever context and/or reco reminders you like.

This is really a few steps away from my ideal book-saving tool. I'm hoping that someone makes my perfect iPhone app: one that would let me add context or other note, include a cover graphic, sort, sync and work offline. This way, I do have a list of books I can consult in the store, but it's dependent on network coverage, plus I have no access to my notes. I used text lists for a long time, but I realized at some point that I remember things visually, and text leaves out too much information to be helpful.

As always, comments are appreciated, I'm increasingly interested in refining my quickie-video skills, as evidence points to a not-small chunk of the population who, for some completely baffling-to-me reason, enjoy getting their information via video. (And this is not a fishing expedition for compliments, I know that there's something nice about getting to know the bloggers you "know" via video and audio as well as text; it's just that when it comes to learning stuff, I find myself impatient with even the best video screencasts, for the most part.)

Oh, and if my perfect book-collecting iPhone app exists already, PLEASE let me know. I'm tempted to partner with someone to build one, but I'd be a sad sack liar if I added a big project like that to my plate right now.


Video Vednesday: Reducing visual clutter


Kinda-sorta getting the hang of these babies, I think. For instance, this one only took eleventy-six hours to export to YouTube instead of eleventy-seven. Which is not bad for a 90-year-old.

Some notes! Because dammit, floating a video out there without text feels naked-like:

  • I absolutely could not find the place where Martha Stewart talks about removing labels, but I'm 99% certain it was an ancient issue of her magazine. Mostly because it has to have been 10 years (at least!) since I read her magazine. Which was a great magazine, but pretty p0rny for a non-crafty schlub like me.
  • I did, however, turn up this awesome post on Apartment Therapy about re-labeling the crap in your house, which would probably be a fun, puttery, "my brain is dead but I need to do something" kind of activity. And there are links to etching, which is both dangerous and cool!
  • I say "anyway" a lot. If I was still going to Toastmasters, they could probably cure me of that in a month. If anyone has any non-Toastmasters ways of curing myself, by all means, let 'er rip. Although just my embarrassment over saying it so much may cure me. Anyway! Anyway! Anyway!

And because these Wednesday posts have turned into a great place for me to ask questions and get answers:

  • What one thing, if any, would make this site easier for you to use? (I have a list as long as both my arms, one leg and a foot, but I need to start somewhere.)

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


IMPORTANT ADDENDUM! While I am barely responsible for myself and not at all responsible for anyone else, it would be irresponsible of me not to note that you should probably limit your label-ripping zeal to benign, i.e., non-hazardous, non-medicinal, items. And if, like me, you are a nutty bargain shopper, make sure you clearly label any spray or other containers you offload your cleaning supplies into. Safety first, please!

Stop! Sucking! Day 2: How would the Dalai Lama drive?

There was much stopping today, which means, of course, that there was much starting, restarting, backsliding and general waking slumber.

I'm guessing that much of my slumbering wakefulness--or wakeful slumberingness--is due to the soporific qualities my day-to-day, hour-to-hour life has taken on over the past two to three years. The life of an actor is many things, but dull and repetitive is usually not one of them.

Not that you can't sleepwalk your way through anything (and from what I've seen, certain types of regular theatrical employment can be spectacularly stultifying) but when you're in the thick of the hustle--running from class to audition to rehearsal to gig to audition--even with lots of lather/rinse/repeat, there's just too much randomness to get dull. Not to mention heartache. Way, way more than my life now, which changes hardly at all, heart-wise included, from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour.

Or does it?

Or, should I say, are things changing around me all the time that I'm just not seeing, because I'm making myself see things in a certain way, because it's just...well, so much easier than living every moment.

Easier up to a point, anyway, that point for me being yesterday when something flipped a switch in me and made me go public with one of these #$%^!) salutes. And really, they're not easier, any of those things; it takes a lot of energy to throw up the walls and batten down the hatches day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. It isn't really less taxing to stick to the same-old, same old; it's just less scary. Which is why, every once in a while, I have to throw myself under a bus.

Today, I stopped and checked in during tea brewing, egg making, email checking and Quark wrassling. Stop and check, stop and check. Probe. Wait a beat. See if something bubbles up, something instructive.

Nothing nothing nothing. (Although just the stopping and checking made me feel a little better. Probably the feeling of control over one's own destiny.)

Finally, I had to go out in the world and meet people. The owner of this place, actually, who is lovely and interesting and one hell of a cook. Angelenos, take notice! But I wasn't thrilled about it, because I wasn't thrilled about any of it. I just felt kind of...oogy, which as any major dude will tell you is no way to go meet up with a relatively new acquaintance to talk bidness.

As I'm tooling across town in hot, late-afternoon traffic, feeling the crankbutt in me gearing up for a big tantrum, a thought flashed through my head: how would the Dalai Lama drive across town in afternoon rush hour?

How, indeed! Well, the Lama would sit up a little straighter, I imagined. And he'd probably slow down...maybe let a few people cut in, even if they didn't technically have the right of way.

He'd be wearing those nice robes, I thought, and would probably have his sandaled feet in relaxed and ready position. And, since he didn't get the chance to drive himself around Los Angeles in a Corolla very often, he might even be...interested. He might look around 3rd Street--which most Angelenos would think looks like a run down P.O.S. stretch of strip-mall-and-cheesy-fast-food nothing and think..."Cool!"

And it was kind of cool, now that I was looking at it like the Dalai Lama. Everything was so different. Every inch of everything was unique. A small girl wearing a wide gold lamé belt. A brick wall with earthquake retrofitting. Run-over fast food cups in the gutter. An old, old woman in a sweater fully half as old as she was, rolling her cart across the intersection. Things that were ugly were suddenly so beautiful just by virtue of their being, it was kind of overwhelming: not unlike being on magic mushrooms, only without the nausea and the timesuck.

I wouldn't say I was happy, exactly, but yes, there was a kind of strange, joyful connectedness. An ache for the specific aliveness of each thing--that simultaneous thrill that so many different things existed and that someday they would all be gone. Maybe horribly. Maybe all at once.

I left the Dalai Lama somewhere around Virgil, and rode the rest of the way as myself. No filters, no hacks. The rest of today has been pretty peachy-magical, and I can assure you that I won no lottery, lost no 8 lbs. in an hour, shed none of the woes I haul around with me from place to place.

Except the idea that I can't, on a dime, shrug off those woes by slipping into a different way of thinking.

The Dalai Lama says "stop"...then go...

xxx c

Image by el Fotopakismo via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.