These posts were originally published on the Tempo book blog between 2011-14, and imported here in 2019 when that blog was shut down and replaced with a single page.

Haircuts and the Guy Clock

Haircuts are mind-clearing events for me, and I look forward to them and get anxious if I don’t get one for too long. My recent romanticization of barbarian lifestyles doesn’t stretch to enjoying facial hair or over-long head hair, though I did sport a moustache for a few years (going with the flow of default hair culture in India). And in case you were wondering: yes, barber and barbarian are etymologically related. All through yesterday I had a nagging sense that I needed a haircut, both because it was approximately the right time and also because my mug is going to be in pictures and videos quite a bit. I almost went out of my way to go to my regular place in the DC area. Then it struck me that I had unconsciously been associating “haircut” with home, and that I didn’t need to add more to an already-packed day.

Today is a low-tempo day. I had only one meeting planned, lunch with reader Ilya Lehrman in Philapdelphia at 1 PM. I’d planned to drive around the waterfront areas, but the rain made me change my mind. So instead of waterfront stuff, I got my haircut at a random Supercuts.


[Read more…]

An Evening of Pace, Pace, Lead with Chuck

I’ve been iPhone-only for the last 36 hours and it feels good to be on laptop again.  Yesterday was one of those intense max-tempo days where I left almost no slack and did everything I’d lined up (I wrote in detail about what such a day feels like in a ribbonfarm post, Allenism, Taylorism and The Day I Rode the Thundercloud). I like doing such days occasionally, simply to calibrate my operating envelope of tempos. I am taking a slower day today. More driving and blogging. Less activity.

I already blogged the events in the early part of the day, so on to the evening events. I had my first couchsurfing experience. My host was Chuck Wortman, a DJ in Wilmington, DE.

Hanging out with Chuck was a very unusual kind of fun for me, but the evening was bizzarely apropos for Tempo, for multiple reasons. Here goes.

[Read more…]

Island Time vs. Mainland Time

Let’s hope this works. My first dashboard cam video. Julio rode along with me to Baltimore and we talked of, well, shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Somewhere along the way we figured out how to do the camera/mic thing without me causing an accident. Here’s a snippet: a discussion of island time vs. Mainland time. If you’ve lived on or visited an island (SMALL, UK doesn’t count), weigh in.

The Tempo of Food



A packed first day. Am sitting here in a bar in downtown Philly watching a Salsa lesson and attempting my first non-trivial iPhone post. I am here because I am tagging along with my couchsurfing host, Chuck. More about Chuck later, but let me get caught up on older stuff.

At the Cafe Amouri in Vienna (a DC suburb), I had a mini meetup with three readers: Left to right, we have Julio, Ben and Jared.

We ranged over a whole bunch of topics. Two book recommendations came out of the meeting: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and Titan by Ron Chernow.

Main topic: The tempo of food. The table agreed that improv cooking beats recipe cooking. Still processing the conversation. Here’s a picture for you though.

A Moment of Silence with John Boyd

A visit to John Boyd’s grave site in Arlington National Cemetary seemed like a good way to start my road-trip. I wrote about Boyd and his contributions to decision-making in an issue of Be Slightly Evil.




Week 1: DC, Wilmington, Albany, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto

Here’s the itinerary for week 1, with approximate days/times and a partial itinerary of planned events. Post a comment if you want to do something at any of these locations or any obvious waypoints.

Tuesday, May 3

Morning: micro-meetup at Caffe Amouri in Vienna (a DC suburb) at 11 AM with readers Benjamin Eason and Julio Rodriguez. Join in if you’re around.

Afternoon: drive to Baltimore to check out the Beehive Baltimore, a coworking spot I’ve always been meaning to check out. Julio will be riding along and I’ll get to test my in-car iPhone based video interview rig. Fingers crossed.

Evening: drop Julio off and drive on to Wilmingon, Delaware.  Why? Stay tuned.  Plan for the night is to couchsurf.

Wednesday, May 4

Drive leisurely north to Albany, NY, stopping randomly along the way. Holler if you are along the obvious route. Will probably make a stop in New Jersey somewhere. Plan is to camp out at an old friend’s home for the night.

Thursday, May 5 and Friday, May 6

Drive to Montreal. Seb Paquet has kindly offered to host me for a couple of days and I’ll also be meeting up with Daniel Lemire.  Trying to pull together a talk about the book for the group Seb runs, Technologies et savoirs. I thought it means “Technology is our Savior” but apparently it means “Technology and Knowledge.” Good. I don’t do Messianism well.

Saturday, May 7 and Sunday May 8

Get myself to Ann Arbor, MI by Sunday night, weaving vaguely through Ottawa, the Lake Ontario shoreline and Toronto. Haven’t made any concrete plans yet, so I am very open to ideas. I’ll stop somewhere if I can find free/cheap  accommodations (hint, hint), otherwise it is a straight dash to Ann Arbor where I have accommodations.


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.