The Tempo Road Trip

A big claim I have made in Tempo is that I hope to help readers develop a new perspective from which to view the world. When I finally released the book, the question that immediately occurred to me was this:  how could I demonstrate the value of the perspective? What if, I asked myself, I grabbed a camera and microphone an iPhone and went around interviewing readers and actually trying to look at different things with the lens I am selling others?

And the answer popped out at me: Road Trip!

Here is the rough route (click for larger image or here for the live Google Map) and dates. I will be liveblogging the whole trip (mainly video and photo blogging) right here on the Tempo blog.

The first leg starts next week. Between Tuesday, May 3 and approximately May 24, I will be driving zig-zag from Washington, DC to Las Vegas, NV, which is going to be my base for the next few months. I haven’t yet decided whether to start out going North and looping through Canada, or heading South.

Later in the summer (late June/early July), I’ll be doing the second leg: driving in a loop from Vegas, up the West Coast to Vancouver, and back.

If you want to meet me…

So if you live somewhere near the planned  route, I’d like to meet you.  The primary purpose is to really stress-test the Tempo perspective, but I’ll also be opportunistically looking for fodder for my other writing venues, and continuing my normal work for my consulting clients. I am open to anything interesting, including, but not limited to:

  • A quick 1:1 coffee
  • A group meetup if there are enough readers in an area
  • Doing an informal talk about the book at your workplace or a local group you belong to
  • Having you show me something interesting in your area
  • Having you ride along with me on a local side-trip or just to enjoy a good chat

If you are up for it, simply post a comment on this post mentioning what you’d like to do, and include your location (city, state). If someone from your area has already posted a comment, please post yours as a reply to theirs. Please use your real name, and if possible link to some sort of profile (LinkedIn, Facebook or a blog for instance) in the URL field. If you’d rather email me privately, you can do that too, but I’d prefer a comment here so I can see all the information in one place and make sense of it. If I decide to pass through a particular city/area, I’ll email all the readers in that area and arrange the logistics.

Quality of experiences, rather than quantity, is the criterion, so I am more likely to drive 100 miles out of my way to meet one person who I know well through ribbonfarm, or someone new who can show me a landfill or container-port than stop at a dull place to meet someone with whom I’ve never interacted before. I may spend several days on a 10-mile stretch and zip through 500 miles in a day depending on how interesting things are. The tempo of the trip is going to be highly variable.

I will also be slumming it a bit to save money. I plan on experimenting with Couch Surfing (my handle there is ribbonfarm) and Airbnb. If you’ve got a couch or spare bed you can offer me, please mention that in your comment (and I’d prefer to do that through the site).

I plan on posting several times a day, and this short format, high-frequency multimedia format will be very new for me (if you are a ribbonfarm reader, you know that my normal comfort zone is 2000+ word posts once a week).

And don’t forget. If you’ve finished the book, please post a blurb for me on the Reader Reactions page.

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About Tempo


  1. We sure would like to see you in Montreal. With Seb, I am sure we could organize some kind of talk on campus. Seb is insanely connected in Montreal, so I am sure he can turn your Montreal trip into a great opportunity to connect.

    (Seb has his own colloquium series on campus…)

  2. Hey, V!

    I live in Portland, Oregon and would love to host you for a day or two. I’m closely affiliated with Portland State Aerospace Society, and would love to introduce you to the group and maybe show you some of the avionics systems that we’re working on (perhaps by then, I’ll have some new hardware to show you as well []).

    I’ll be in touch with you shortly through chouchsurfing. My pad is located in downtown Portland and I can arrange a guest pass for your vehicle.

    • V-

      Another Portlander checking in. I expect we could probably get a decent sized group together for a Portland meet-up, and either way my wife & I would like to buy you dinner. We both think what you’re doing is the coolest. It’s like you’re taking hold of the reigns and letting go at the same time.


      • Yes, Portland is giving the Bay Area a run for its money for ‘highest density of ribbonfarm readers’ :)

        Will email all off you together shortly, when I get off this iPhone and onto an actual computer.

  3. I wish you the best of luck on the road trip.

    Two questions:
    1. However did you manage to put your DW in storage? This nugget of info might be as important as taking “narrative driven decision making” to the rest of us ;-) :-D!
    2. Are the cats travelling with you? If not, how did you put *them* in storage?

    As always, I have a small contrarian point to your observation:
    From ribbonfarm:

    More broadly, the idea is to simply explore different places, meet different people and restock the hopper for all my writing with fresh experiences, conversations and other stimulating raw material. One of the dangers of blogging is that it is easy to get stale and start repeating yourself, drawing on fading memories of the same raw material over and over, especially if you don’t have a regular job feeding you live experiences to reflect upon

    I respectfully disagree somewhat. There’s some truth in travel broadening the mind and all that, but that’s not the be-all and end-all. You are obviously not into Zen or any such thing, so you are unlikely to have come across this:

    Actually, the essence of boredom is to be found in the obsessive search for novelty. Satisfaction lies in mindful repetition, the discovery of endless richness in subtle variations on familiar themes.

    — — — — — Mastery, by Mathew Leonard.

    Paradoxically, in a way you actually nodded to the above belief in this paragraph here ;-)

    I am more likely to drive 100 miles out of my way to meet one person who I know well through ribbonfarm, or someone new who can show me a landfill or container-port.

    Without any further nit-picking to irritate you more, I wish you the best of luck with the book and your new avatar of self-discovery. And I hope you will do that act above in order to meet me, when you come to India ;-) :-D!

    • Wife and cats will be in Vegas. We’re subletting my in-laws home there for the summer. Since it is furnished, we don’t need our own stuff.

      You and I will have to agree to disagree on how we interpret Zen ideas and the quote.

  4. Jane Huang says

    Swing by Palo Alto–I’d be happy to offer you a futon. We can also go biking!

  5. Are you planning to completely avoid the Bay Area like your map says?

    • Not sure what map you are looking at, but the second leg goes right through the Bay Area. I should be there sometime in June.

      I plan to stop for several days. It might end up being my longest time in one place.

      Leg 2 is a loop that hugs the coast northbound, and comes back down to Vegas through what some people call the “Empty Quarter.”

      • Your map has you going through Stockton & Sacramento and carefully skirting the edges of the Bay Area :).

        • Ah, that’s Google Maps, not me :). I just put in the major waypoints that represent obvious geometric turns. Assume a 100 mi uncertainty band around the nominal route.

          Actually the whole thing is a work in progress. I am now rewiring the central section drastically to hit Albuquerque instead of Salt Lake City, and putting the latter on the Western Loop. Fun engineering this thing.

          • Mark Haigh says

            I have a spare, fully finished bedroom in Japantown (i.e. North Downtown) San Jose, and you’re welcome to come and go as you please, at any hours that you please, for as long as you please. Parking is not an issue. It’s around 7 minutes to both Santa Clara and Los Gatos, 12 to Sunnyvale, and 20 to Palo Alto.

            Slightly further away (about 1.5 hours) is things like and

            We have a bewildering array of excellent food in the South Bay, from grill-it-yourself-Korean to high-end Japanese to French and native Californian. Should you be interested, my girlfriend and I will see to it that you don’t spend a cent on dinner while you’re here. Your excellent writing has already been payment enough.

          • Wow, that’s a very generous offer Mark. I’ll definitely take you up on at least part of it.

            I’ve done the Big Sur drive from SF to LA before, so I’ve seen the sights you’ve linked to. Now the trick is to see the same sights again from the perspective of Tempo and blog ’em :)

          • Adding a +1 to this stream of SF Bay area comments. Happy to help organize a meetup in whatever way might be most helpful.

            If you need a place to stay only a short walk from the BART you have your choice of futon and very spacious L-couch ;)

  6. I’ve really enjoyed reading your book, and blog, and am excited to see how you will develop your writing and thinking. A few of my friends have caught the bug of your writing, too, and are excited to read TEMPO.

    My main motivation for leaving a comment is to recommend a book to you (maybe to join you on your travels) if it seems of interest, and if you haven’t already read it. It’s “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,” by Julian Jaynes.

    After reading your book I started reading Jaynes’ book. I’ve only just begun it, but have already noticed similarities in the way you both see language (with metaphors and the use of linguistic mindscapes to present metaphysical concepts). The thesis he puts forward is ambitious, but bizarrely comfortably, and I think it would collide with your passion in decision making in interesting ways. My main hope is that you’ll post your thoughts about the book so I can read what someone like you would have to say.

    Can’t wait to continue reading, and good luck with everything,

    • Thanks Alex, you are the second person to recommend the book to me in a week, so that definitely means it needs to go on my reading list. Besides my own writing, curiously the guest blogging I’ve hosted recently has also been on these themes, and I believe Jaynes has been mentioned in the comments (perhaps by you?).

      Since you’ve finished the book, do leave a comment on the ‘Reader Reactions’ tab.

      • I read TOoCitBotBM (as I like to call it) years ago, and it’s affected me a lot. My whole view of my own consciousness stems from the first chapter or so.

        In fact, I’m currently working on a major project based loosely on the book.

  7. If you decide to take your Leg 1 alternate route, you’re welcome to crash at Telluride House! If you’re around during the summer (late June-early August), I bet our summer program folks would be happy to hear from you.

    Looking forward to reading your book!
    Happy couch surfing!

  8. Hey Venkat – my couch surfing profile is a bit out of date but I’m toacircus on there (I think it still has my college address in New Orleans). If you plan to stop in Santa Monica, I’m 9 blocks from the Pacific Ocean and you’re welcome to crash on my couch.

    Things near me that I think you’d enjoy
    -The Museum of Jurassic Technology
    -The most amazing sandwiches in all of California can be purchased at Bay Cities Deli
    -An hour drive or so down to Long Beach to see the geodeisic dome that used to house the Spruce Goose
    -The Los Angeles “River” ( )
    -The La Brea Tarpits
    -The City of Industry

    At least a dozen other things that are slipping my mind.

  9. Question: Would you be willing to pretend to be Sudhir Venkatesh in exchange for a place to stay? I told a friend about this and he was like “Yeah, totally! He’s that gang guy, right?”. :)

  10. Please let me know when you plan to move through Los Angeles. I’m sure that there are others here for a group meeting.

  11. Depending on when you make it through San Diego, I may be able to arrange a speaking engagement with local tech entrepreneurs. Email me when you have exact dates.

  12. Nashville, TN.

    If you are up for coming through here, I can offer a place to stay, some decent coffee, and depending on what day you come through, can introduce you to 8 or so people of wildly divergent religious worldviews, who regularly get together to annoy each other.

    I’m also not creepy, though I sometimes pretend to be on Twitter.

    • Awesome :) Nashville wasn’t on my route originally, but lemme see if I can detour through. 8 widely divergent religious worldviews sounds like quite the party.


  13. Here’s a second voice for Portland. Perhaps we could do a small Tempo meetup of sorts downtown, and put the event on Calagator (, Portland’s techie event calendar.

  14. Ben and Ian: two invites is a party in my book. Portland is definitely on the list now.


  15. etcwarrionr says

    Presumably there are tons of us in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, DC area that would enjoy giving you a warm send you off as you begin your journey. A hike on the Billy Goat Trail on the Maryland side of Great Falls is close, inspiring, and can accommodate a reasonable number of people. If I overestimate your local support, then a small contingent could meet up at Cafe Amouri on Church street in Vienna, which roasts the best coffee you have tasted outside of New Orleans. Who knows, maybe someone will give you some Lembas bread?

    • There’s a few people here, and I’ve met several of them 1:1, but I am afraid I am not spending much time here. Am in Vegas right now (had to move the cats by air). Plan on getting into Dulles late Monday night, staying the night nearby and starting out the next day. Had planned to do something near Baltimore, but a late morning coffee in Vienna on the way out sounds great. I’ll email you.

  16. Jared Seehafer says

    If you’ll modify your itinerary to hit Dallas/Fort Worth, I can gladly put you up on my couch while you’re here. for more on me.

  17. I’ll be house-sitting in Portland from late May through mid-June, so if your PDX stop falls somewhere in there, count me in on the party!

    By late June, I’ll be back in Los Angeles. Happy to help organize a meetup while you’re here. (I’d offer a couch, but after a series of mad stuff-purging, all I have is a floor. Also, my nickname for the apartment during the warm summer months here is the E-Z-Bake Oven.)

  18. What? You’re not even coming close to Minneapolis! How disappointing.

    • Believe me, I tried real hard to make up a route that could cover all 48 lower states. There just isn’t one that can be done without killing yourself in the amount of time I have available.

      So I optimized for places I haven’t been to before. I’ve been to Minneapolis so had to strike that, I am afraid.

  19. Anyone else in the greater New York City area interested?

    I’m out on Long Island, and not really able to host, but perhaps could help out in other ways.

  20. Hey, I’m in Berkeley and would love to have coffee or do a general Bay Area dinner.

  21. I’d probably be willing to cook a dinner in SF if someone has a place to host it. It won’t be all vegetarian though, that would suck :P.

  22. Just doing the math here… Seattle would be a perfect halfway stop on the drive between Portland and Vancouver. I’d love to meet you if you swing through. Not sure if you’ve heard, but there is some damn fine coffee to be had around these parts, as well as tasty microbrews, if you’re so inclined. As for a suitable venue, we can slum it with the tourists at Pike Market, hit up one of the local neighborhoods, or head out of the city for an easy hike in the hills. Options. We got lots of options.

    • I actually have plans for an extended stay in Seattle, since I am hoping to record the audiobook version of the book at a friend’s studio there. So yes!

  23. Wonderful. You’ll definitely find a welcome around the mid-Bay, as well as south Bay. Being an SF snob (I dun wanna go to Oakland, I said no, no, no) or alternately transportation-impaired, I’d love a get together in the City. If you can hammer out dates, we can probably arrange a group space. And coffeehouses are no problem :)

  24. If you come by Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, (about 100 km west of Toronto,) I’d like to meet you.

  25. If you are planning to go from DC to Georgia, I’d love for you stop in Raleigh, NC. I can put you up for a night in Cary, NC (a suburb) and show you around the campus of the largest privately owned software developer in the world and Fortune Magazine’s best place to work in the US.

    If you’re interested, I’ll also connect with some folks in the startup community in nearby Durham and Chapel Hill. I’ll bet you’ve got a few fans there and certainly a lot of folks who could benefit from your ideas.

  26. If you are headed from DC to Georgia, I’d love to host you in Cary, NC. (Near Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) I can give you a campus tour of the largest privately held software company in the world (which also happens to be Fortune’s best place to work in the US).

    I also know a few folks in the Durham/Chapel Hill start-up community. If they’re not already fans of yours, they could certainly benefit from your ideas.

  27. ilya lehrman says

    Looks like your route takes you into Philadelphia? When will you be in the area?

  28. Brandon Hudgeons says

    Austin? I could find you a crowd, and we’ve got a garage apt for you. If not, I think it’s about time for a Vegas trip :)

    • Austin: Not this time I am afraid. Trying to optimize for new places, and I’ve actually lived in Austin.

      But yeah, come on over to Vegas!

  29. Venkat,

    Read Tempo and enjoyed the thoughts within. Considering what my book passing on criteria should be.

    If you’re anywhere near Indianapolis, would love to meet up. Thanks!


  30. Awesome, looking forward to see you in Atlanta, Venkat.

    Anyone else here from Atlanta?


  31. Assuming you do in fact make it across the border into Vancouver (Vancouver, BC, right? Not WA), my wife and I would be happy to treat you to dinner. I would offer our couch/hide-a-bed, but since our new baby is due May 19, it may not be the most pleasant couch. Guess it depends how tolerant you are!

    Depending on available time, we can probably suggest things to see and do. There are obvious touristy things like Granville Island, Stanley Park, or Whistler). There are other non-obvious things like the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve/Lynn Canyon, Burns Bog (hey, you asked for a landfill), and the Iona Beach spit (walkable/bikeable man-made sewage outfall 4km into the Georgia Strait).

    We also have at least two major container terminals, but they are heavy on security, so I don’t know how interesting they are to look at. Maybe one can call ahead to arrange a little tour, though I have a feeling they wouldn’t go for it…

    • Thanks, yes it would be Vancouver, BC. Thanks, will probably be late June/early July by the time I make it there though.