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SXSW Interactive 2012


This is just a short note to say howdy to those fine folks I’ve met over the past few days at SXSW.  This site isn’t dead, it’s just hibernating until I get some WordPress issues figured out.

SXSW Interactive is crazy big compared the last time I was here, but I quickly found that there’s still a small, intimate conference hiding within the larger one.  Many of the best panels and side conversations I had were with small groups, and with a few exceptions I was able to ignore the insanity around the convention center.  While the content wasn’t always as fresh as I would have liked, discussions around archiving and curating the Web, using the Web for civic good, and creating the future of journalism were important and worth having.  While I completely understand why many of those I met in years past in Austin feel the conference is too big and no longer worth it, I’m pretty sure I’ll do what I can to be back next year.  SXSW is now wearing a suit, but it still has a subversive, anarchistic streak to it, and I love it for it.

Posted in SXSW,Travelog at 4:04 am

TraveLog: The Vacation That Wasn’t


It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

Tuesday evening in southwestern New Jersey. In some ways this ends the vacation that wasn’t. From a technical standpoint, yes, we did visit Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, but to say we actually got to experience and enjoy the cities involves a bit of overreach. The region has been gripped by a heat wave since we got here–some of the news reports we’ve seen on TV have called this the worst heat wave in over 20 years–and the oppressive heat has made it difficult to do anything.

It’s not just the outdoors that have been a problem. The weather has kept people indoors, crowding the venues where we went to escape the weather. Museums in both Washington and Philadelphia have been packed. (The Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we were this morning, was OK, but that visit was marked by Mathias coming close to putting a stick through Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge, on loan from the MoMA.)

The highlights of the trip, as it happens, have come from visiting people we know out here. We got to visit an old college friend, Brian, and his wife Kara in DC, and a friend of Lisa’s family up near Philly. Aside from that, we’ve plodding from place to place, taking break after break to escape from the heat, seeing a lot, but experiencing very little. Mathias has been a trooper, but an overheated preschooler does not contribute to a great trip.

We’re already talking about coming out here again a few years from now. Mathias may be a more appropriate age to enjoy some of what we’re seeing, and I can better plan for weather, Amtrak delays and other variables. This trip would’ve been aggressive for me traveling solo. I’m not sure what I was thinking thinking we could do all of this with a four-year-old in tow.

~ ~ ~

And now it’s sad that I have to do this, but I have a paper to write for my last MBA class. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 3:10 am

TraveLog: The Road to D.C.


Well, we’re in DC. The original plan was for us to arrive here on Amtrak yesterday afternoon, but the fatal flaw with that plan was having “plan” and “Amtrak” in the same sentence. The Empire Builder rolled into Chicago over three hours late, meaning our connecting train, the Capitol Limited, was already rolling east without us. Amtrak basically gave us three options: Take the train to New York and then connect to DC, a route that would get us into DC well past 11:00 Thursday night; stay at an Amtrak-booked hotel in the Chicago ‘burbs, and then run coach on the Capitol Limited (i.e. the “overnight coach with a four-year-old” option); or get a refund and make our own way to DC. While the overnight train trip was supposed to be one of the highlights for the trip for Mathias, with our planned option off the table, I wanted us to have control over our own destiny, so I got a one-way rental car from O’Hare and got us the heck out of there.

Additional train wrecks followed the missed Amtrak connection. After a tedious cab ride out to O’Hare that included the cab driver having to stop for gas, we got the car and made it to South Bend, Indiana, which seemed as good of a place to overnight as any. 1:30 in the morning is not a great time to find out that all the hotels are booked solid, but they were, and it took six hotel stops for us to finally grab a $140 room at the Comfort Suites—the last open room in the hotel. The next morning we learned there was a twirling competition in town, which made the breakfast area of our hotel look a bit like a scene out of Little Miss Sunshine, but at least the kids were quiet.

The drive across Pennsylvania was interrupted by a huge accident backup near Pittsburgh that cost us well over an hour and a half, and a construction backup in Maryland cost us another hour. In the end, it took some automotive contortion for me to get the rental back to Budget by a time reasonably approximate to its due date, only to find their “24-hour” operation at Reagan National unstaffed.

And so we spent today in DC. We drove around, visited the Air & Space Museum (which was packed), and did our best to avoid the heat. We’re camping in a friend’s house out here, and by all indications, Mathias seems to prefer lounging on couch in air conditioning than heading outside. And that’s something I completely understand.

Sometime within the next hour the folks who own this place should show up, and we’ll see what plans we can put together for tomorrow. Then Saturday night we’ll be heading up to Baltimore for a day there, and after that it’s a couple days in Philadelphia. If the heat will hold back for a bit it should be fun, but if not, I expect we’ll be staying indoors a lot.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 9:49 pm



Well, I guess one more entry from Copenhagen.  I’m in my usual breakfast spot, only this time, for the first time in over a week, I’m not surrounded by classmates.  About half the class is in transit at this moment.  Me, I have a later departure today, so I’m leaving with a large pack of folks around 11:00.

Programs like this can be a weird beast.  It’s rare that one gets a chance to intensely study a specific subject in a foreign place with a group of folks who are, at the beginning of the trip, largely strangers.  This class represents the sixth such experience I’ve had–three in high school and three as a grad student–and it seems the ending of these brief periods always define themselves much more distinctly than other life experiences.  The difference, maybe, is that they create a completely transitory community, one that can only exist for a brief period before scattering.  (I’m somewhat reminded of that town in Canada that was intentionally shut down after the local mine closed.)

There’s also a weird quality to time on trips like these, especially when away from one’s loved ones.  I’m not just talking about the general acceleration that happens as a trip nears its end, but how the timeline of the trip itself begins to contort.  I’m looking forward to seeing my wife and son later today, but in some ways it feels like I was with them just a few days ago.  Oslo, on the other hand, seems years distant.  History as I feel it is different from what clearly must be true.

I have a ridiculous amount to write about from the class and the trip.  (I’ve apparently been using “ridiculous” quite a bit over the past two weeks.  Also, “rabid.”)  The subject matter may have to wait a bit, as I’m really split on a number of items covered in the class.  There’s something going on here, but the idea of corporate social responsibility, and the way many organizations are approaching the topic, may be distracting people from deeper, more important issues. As for the cities and the experiences, I’m already arriving at the point where I’ll need my photos to remind me.

Eight hours to Amsterdam, 18 to Minneapolis. More later.

Posted in Education,Journal,Travelog at 8:58 am


Saturday morning, the start of my last full day in Copenhagen.  I’m in the breakfast area of the Savoy Hotel–or, as I’ve been describing it, Lake and Cedar with fewer dead people–and am only a few hours away from my last MBA class.

My initial reaction to Copenhagen was anything but positive–it seemed just like Oslo and Copenhagen, except dirtier, with uglier architecture, and with graffiti everywhere–but I’ve softened on it since, and now it may actually be my favorite city of the three we’ve visited.  The city has a bit of a New-York-in-the-1970s-vibe that is kind of endearing.  One key problem with that analogy, though, is that I’ve never felt unsafe here.  I commented to a fellow traveler last night that I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a cop, and he mentioned that he couldn’t, either.

The food here, especially that of the baked variety, is great. The coffee is a crime against humanity.

Well, it’s approaching 9:00, and I have to return my bike to the central train station before I head to class today.  (The hours for pretty much everything other than alcohol are inconvenient.  Most stores are open from 10:00-6:00, a fact that has foiled us almost every day.)  I have to be going.  This will probably be my last post from Copenhagen.

More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 8:53 am

Stockholm, Part II


Monday morning in Stockholm. Once again I’m blogging at breakfast.  The second week of the program is officially underway — in just under a half hour we’re off to more site visits, and then this evening we’ll be on the overnight train to Copenhagen.

Stockholm has been amazing, and I’ll definitely have to get Lisa and M over here sometime.  The weekend was a mix of relaxing on the islands, museum hopping, bars, and amazing food.  (I had three fantastic meals on Saturday, and that’s not counting breakfast.)  The weekend will likely be better described through commentary through photos, though, so I’ll wait until I have time to do that to share more.

In one way this trip has been like both of the other Carlson trips I’ve been on:  It’s long and fast at the same time.  It feels like we’ve been here forever, but at the same time it’s difficult to believe it’s more than half over.

Well, I need to finish packing. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 8:43 am



Friday morning in Stockholm. Once again I find myself blogging in the breakfast area, but I guess that’s OK as I’m apparently one of the early risers on this trip.  When I did the Carlson seminar to India there was a huge group that gathered each morning to discuss the previous day’s events, but this is tuning out to be more of a dissection-over-beer kind of trip.

Stockholm was kind of a shock, especially after the relative Portland-like style of Oslo.  The first day in Oslo I commented–jokingly–that the city appeared to be populated by slackers.  That cannot be said here.   This city seems to have more in common with London and New York than it does with the capitol to the east.

Today we have a couple of site visits, a class, and discussion on what the hell to do over the weekend.  There’s no shortage of options for the weekend, so we’ll have to plan carefully… And aggressively.

Well, the breakfast crowd is showing up. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 9:10 am

TraveLog: Oslo


Wednesday morning in Oslo. I just got back from a 45 minute jog around parts of the city center, which was both awesome–hey, I’m jogging in Oslo–and horrible–bricks and pavers everywhere. I’m currently in the midst of breakfast, which, aside from the time opened up by rising early and depriving myself of sleep, is pretty much the only open time I have here.

After a gentle opening on Monday, the class started in earnest yesterday. I obviously can’t speak about the organizations we visited, but wanted to say days like yesterday kind of justify the decision to pursue a MBA. (Hopefully I’ll still feel that way when my crushing debt load hits around January.) The fact we are in class does make it kind of difficult to see the city–I’m not complaining, we of course knew that beforehand–but with with many of the museums and such closed on Monday, and shutting around 6:00 weekdays after that, we’ve been faced with some extremely narrow windows to take in the city and its culture. That led to things like lunch yesterday when a group of us decided to skip food and do the National Gallery in 20 minutes. If given appropriate time, we would’ve been there for at least a couple of hours.

Today we have more site visits, and tomorrow we’re off for Stockholm. I’m excited to go to Sweden, but at the same time am sad about leaving, as I was just starting to get a feel for this city, it’s people and its rhythms.

Well, I need to get ready for one of our site visits today, one for which I may have to be politely combative.  More later.

Posted in Education,Journal,Travelog at 8:30 am

Hello Norway


So, we’re in Norway. To make the most of the open day before the class begins, we decided to take the Norway in a Nutshell tour, an 18+ hour train, boat and bus journey that has proved to be more of a march of attrition than it has a tour. That’s not to say it hasn’t been awesome, but we are all completely wiped and are dreading the mile or so walk back to the hotel.

This country is ridiculously expensive, especially for food. (Today I spent over $10 for a hot dog and soda.) I’ve already stocked up on cereal from a grocery near our hotel–$15 for corn flakes and milk–which I hope to use to cover dinner for the next few days. Aside from that, my strategy is to make extensive use of the breakfast included with our room and eat as little as possible outside of that.

Well, my brain is failing, so I’m going to try to reserve my remaining faculties for the walk. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 11:07 pm



Officially, we’re here in Indiana this weekend for the baptism of Lisa’s cousin’s youngest son, for which Lisa will be the godmother, but after today I think the real reason is so Mathias can run around crazy with his extended family.

Mathias and James

It was a long drive down yesterday—Minneapolis to Northern Indiana probably feels like an eternity for a four-year-old, but all things considered Mathias handled it well—but we got to break it up with a too-infrequent stop in Madison to visit Robin, Andy, and their talented escape artist of a toddler, Calvin. Tomorrow we get up early for the baptism, and on Memorial Day we head back to Minneapolis, this time stopping in Madison for lunch/dinner (linner?) with Lisa’s folks. In all, it’s going to be a quick weekend, but it’s still been a nice diversion from everything else going on.

~ ~ ~

Despite the nice opportunity to visit with family and friends, my brain is focused on Scandinavia. In addition to getting ready for the trip, I have a ridiculous amount of work to get done at work before I head out on Friday. Two weeks is a practical eternity at my job, and I’m going to be gone when a number of Big DecisionsTM are going to have to go down, but I guess this wouldn’t be a Carlson MBA class if it weren’t disruptive to family and work life.

Early morning tomorrow, I should hit it. More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 11:49 pm
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