Friday, August 26, 2011

Diary of The Unemployed

You know how a lot of people complain that their job interferes with their life? Some could only be so lucky. It seems today, with skyrocketing unemployment and no recovery in sight, that the opposite is worse. That’s right, not having a job is getting in the way of my life.

To some, not having a job and therefore having the free time to do whatever you want seems like the perfect life. How awesome is it to sit around the house playing Xbox, drinking beer for breakfast, napping whenever you feel. Pretty cool, right?

Well not for me…

Wouldn't have been as fun it it was his daily routine...

It’s hard to enjoy free time when all you have is free time. Weekends and holidays mean nothing when you do nothing the other five days of the week. Thing is, I would love to be at a stage of my life where I can comfortably sit down for hours at a time and play video games, knowing all’s right with the world. But not having a job is like a dark cloud looming over me at all times.

Case in point, I spent the last week helping some friends paint their house. Activity and socializing… all good, right? But the whole time, especially during the downtime, I’m just worried that I should be home, lurking around the job boards and stalking strangers on LinkedIn. So the whole time, I’m jumpy, anxious, and actually wanted to break off my social contacts to sit in my tiny bedroom in front of my computer for the rest of the night. Last I checked, the DSM-IV calls that depression…

Thing is, I want to have an active lifestyle. Opportunities can happen anywhere at any moment, but I really doubt they’re going to happen if I’m trapped in my apartment. I’m checking right now… no girlfriend sitting on the couch, no employer in my kitchen, no investors in my toilet… you get the picture.

I want to see the world and enjoy it. Forget the world, I want to get around town and enjoy that. I want to stay out, go to local events and restaurants and clubs and stuff. I want to be that guy who buys his friends a round without even thinking. I want to meet new, interesting people. I want to accomplish things. And I’d like to be this productive member of society without freaking out about how I’m going to pay rent next month.

Worse than the money is that my skills are going to waste. I worked my ass off through my childhood to get into both a top undergraduate and masters program. I’m not saying I’m the one who was going to cure cancer, but I have the brains and the ambition to launch the next cool technological innovation. So sitting around being non-productive is just killing me. When I look back at my life, I’m going to want to see that I did something with it. And right now, that’s just not happening.

Being unemployed actually has a compounding effect on staying unemployed. This is a fact. Jobs are flat out telling people that they will not be hired if they’ve been out of work for X months. So opportunities are lost right there. In the digital age, without access to the resources of company, it’s easy to fall behind in this progressive and competitive environment. Even if you find something to do by yourself, without the accountability of a job you’re less likely (or able) to push your limits. So how do you recover?

For one, I’ve been taking online classes in some current technologies, like Python scripting and Data Mining. Hopefully this can launder my timeline a bit and make it look like I’m not some lazy unemployed bum. The problem though, topics like these take a long time and a lot of commitment to master. I have no idea what is actually going to help me most in my career, so where do I focus? And how can I dedicate this time (programming languages can take months to learn) when I have the dark cloud of joblessness raining over me?

Hard to look ahead when futility is waiting over the horizon… But for now, it’s either apply to jobs while on self-imposed house arrest, or live a liberated life and chance ending up living in a cardboard box.

To be continued…

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Idea for Google+

Hello Freedom Fans!

So a few weeks ago I reported on the difficulties a blogger such as myself has trying to express his opinions openly when job screeners may be lurking about. Or better yet, asking to see your Social Media profiles. And it is my sad duty to report that, despite getting a team of experts, nothing has been done to fix the problem that hiring decisions can be (and likely will be) made on what I have tweeted. Eh, with the economy tanking, England rioting, Verizon striking, GOPers ganging up in Iowa, and San Francisco trying to become a scene from "V for Vendetta", there have been crazier things to worry about.

Guy Fawkes wants to follow you. Accept? [Y/N]:

But I think I've come up with a solution. And Google, heads up, this one is for you. Consider it a freebie.

I like what Google+ has done with its security settings, in that they made it extremely easy for you to monitor exactly who sees your posts. So say something 'risky' and you are able to let only your trusted friends see it. Your boss can still follow you, but its easy to keep him from seeing that rant about how much you hate your job. So it is possible to have both an open and a private life on Big G.

However, if there's one thing missing from their security, it's the ability to go completely anonymous. At least without creating an all-new screen name. But still, in this case:
  1. a) it won't be synced with your existing Google App portfolio,
  2. b) your friends need to follow you on both accounts,
  3. c) you'll have to post on both your personal and anonymous account things you plan to share with both audiences,
  4. d) recruiters won't know you have a massive follower list on your anonymous account
What I suggest is to add an 'anonymous' circle along with our other permission groups. We can set up a side account for our anon identity. A handle (nickname) for the name, and maybe the ability to write a separate bio. When posting, you can choose 'anonymous' as one of the circles, and anyone you have following you in this circle will see it. But they will only see that it's from your handle. So this way you can tweet whatever you want, and no one will know its you.

This method also allows you to advertise yourself and your profile without giving out your real info. I want random people to be able to find my posts, as they do on Twitter. But in the G+ environment, I don't want to have to give out my personal info. Nor do I want it searchable on Google under my real name. So search for my real name, find my 'open-to-all' profile. Search for the blog name or handle, find my anonymous page.

One central broadcasting location, two different channels for viewing. One G-rated and one R. Only you don't know they're related.

As a clean social media presence becomes a near requirement of employment, we need more ways to protect ourselves. But to censor ourselves is both immoral and un-American. Google has a great track record for giving users product features they both want and need. So ball is in your court, Google... can you do this for us?


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Profit Sharing is Caring!
and The Trickle-Up Effect

If you've been paying attention to the news lately, it's no doubt that we're in a serious mess. Our lowered credit rating makes us a laughing stock on the international market, and people are only going to further tighten their wallets. Unemployment is still high, estimated to be in the high teens assuming you count the unreported millions who do not or can not collect government benefits. Gas is upwards of $4 a gallon, and companies are consistently laying people off while collecting record profits. So what are we as a nation to do?

The more I consider the economy, the more I realize we are powerless to end the shareholder-minded profit maximization ideals that companies subscribe to. At least without some revolution that would involve some sort of devastating teardown of our country. But this mentality isn't necessarily a horrible thing for the economy. Ideally we want big, rich companies… they are indeed what keeps an economy strong.

We just need to invoke some sort of profit sharing mandate.

That’s right, enforced profit sharing. As in a set percentage of what a company makes need be distributed fairly through the workforce that allowed the company to make said profit. While some economists theorize we need to place caps on salaries or the size of companies, this allows and encourages businesses to grow. There’s no fear of increased regulations or per-worker costs that make hiring unattractive to big companies. The only cost is a function of the gains that everyone works for. Since this is an after-profit bonus, companies can still boast to their shareholders that they increased profits for the year, which hopefully won’t devastate a logically minded stock market. And this cost all goes into building a stronger work environment.

Most companies these days tend not to reward employees for additional effort. Maybe it’ll lead to a promotion down the line, but there’s no direct compensation for immediate effort that leads to an immediate gain in profits. Does the grill chef at McDonalds get more money if the store is packed that night? Probably not. Does the cashier at WalMart make extra money if the line is out the door her whole shift? Doubt it. The customer service rep during a company recall? You get the point. Add in the ability for companies to make salaried workers round-the-clock employees for no extra pay, and you see the mess we’re in. To quote the immortal words of Peter Gibbons, “It’s a problem of motivation. Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation?”

Fire bad, Profit Sharing good. Staplers better!

Profit sharing is a direct investment in your workers. Well compensated workers tend to be happier workers, right? Show them their added effort, that extra money the company made from their labor, is worth something. If Initech had profit sharing, Peter would have seen a few dimes from working his ass off. And trying to lay off people won’t be a ‘fix’ for this issue, since a mandatory percentage is enforced whether the company has a thousand employees or a million. So workers taking on the burden of a downsized department would actually see an increase in the money they make.

We’ve been reading reports about runaway executive compensation for years. Million dollar bonuses for people on the upper levels in return for corporate success. Why do we stop there? Is it fair that only certain people get rewarded? I mean, in football, even the practice squad gets a ring if their team wins the Superbowl. Obviously these companies have the money to distribute to their staff, executive or not. Now this is their chance to reward the rest of the staff for that same hard work.

Now I have to predict that there are some wingers out there who are going to squawk their favorite buzzword… Communism. How dare I try to mention the idea that we tell a company what to do with their money in this country?!? And I’d like to point out that the communist argument just doesn’t hold up. This system still encourages companies to grow. Free markets and all. No tax increases. All the money stays in the company family. One of famed Republican Ronald Reagan’s legacies is the “trickle-down effect” in which we’d develop a system in which those that make the most money pass it through our economy by hiring and buying things from those economically below them… so on and so on down to where the higher populated lower classes have opportunities that leaves them financially stable (ie not struggling to put food on the table) and able to themselves contribute to the economy, creating a cycle that keeps our economy going. And ideally this is a good, reasonable plan.

Except it has never been enforced. Nowadays, the upper class is notorious for hoarding their money, leaving it in banks and big corporate investments. They cut down on the number of people they hire, lest their profits and stock price take a hit. And those who are not as financially stable are forced to follow suit. And none of this is necessarily for amoral reasons, but for security, as the future holds no certainty. We as struggling citizens are forced to cut back on extraneous expenses, ie going out to dinner, or buying that new car, or even going to school to better ourselves.

And this just compounds the problems we are seeing. Now the once-profitable restauranteur can’t afford a new car, and now the car dealer can’t afford to send his kids to a good school, and the kid can’t get a job because he didn’t go to a good school. Didn’t we say the trickle-down effect was a good thing?

What will help jumpstart our economy is a “trickle-up effect”. It’s proven that lower classes spend a higher percent of their income. So if the lower classes had a few extra bucks to spend, they could potentially buy that dinner once a week, and the restaurant owner seeing a rise in business can buy that new car. And the car dealer can send his kids to a good school. We need to encourage domestic spending, and keeping money out of the hands of the masses isn’t the way to do it.

No handouts, no rewarding people for not working, no deterrent to hiring. Just making sure credit is given where credit is due. It may be the only good ‘credit’ we see for a while in this country. And things just might come out ok in the end…


Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to be a stud at Social Media and keep a low profile?

These days, employers are more interested in what you've done than what you know. So, as a 'career Marketer', it's fairly critical that I keep up an active Social Media presence. Which means, like them or not, I need to be on just about every new social media site that pops up. I'm sure you're aware of our accompanying Twitter feed (@TNOReality), and possibly a fun little PHP site that can warn those with certain vices about certain tests for employment. ( I'm also on digg,, myspace, quora, linkedin, and facebook. And gotta say, I only really use the last two. (Quora is pretty cool tho). Now with Google Plus coming to life, I gotta wonder how far its gonna go.

The main advantage I've found with Google+ is going to be privacy control. A bit too early to test, since I really only have friends in 2 circles, So not much to block off yet. And I don't see Mom and Dad joining any time soon, especially that they only just discovered Facebook are barely use that. But this makes me wonder if this is finally a network in which I can keep an uncensored profile, yet keep potential employers and easily offended family members from seeing the fun stuff.

Yes, these days you gotta censor yourself lest you get denied employment, or even fired. Don't want to lose a job just because I have a differing opinion from the boss on a political issue, or because I might drop an f-bomb to accent my writing, or even because I'm seen holding a beer at a friend's bbq. Just keeping a casual or comedic tone on your site can incendentally imply to an employer you won't take your job seriously.

So in response, I have measures on each of my accounts to make sure things are only seen by those who need to see them. I keep LinkedIn 100% professional. All serious business on there, since anyone, preferably employers, can see my profile. Facebook is the exact opposite. I am very selective of who gets on there. Friends and family only, and some of the things I post I just hope my parents don't read. I don't allow even work friends on there, since who knows what can be revealed of me through them. (this is something I hope changes) But it's complete, unfiltered me. Of course I do the typical "update" posts like "At the Rush concert with Geddy Lee and it is AWESOME!!!"... I'm not on my soapbox all the time... but the rest is political, contraversial, funny... or as I prefer to think of it.. Interesting.

Take out the interesting stuff, and you'll see a lackluster, or at least poorly maintained, site. How effective can I look with scattered chatty blurbs every few days? Case in point, I do actually keep an open, moderated version of @TNOReality on Twitter that I can show employers. But since most of my schtick (and the account my phone is tied in to) is based around my social activities or political humor, the private account goes ignored for days some times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentaly.

So this leaves me with a site that doesn't exactly scream "social media expert". What they say expert, they want someone who eats, drinks, and lives social media. So no job for me. If I show them the full version, well I risk turning off a potential paycheck. I doubt any corporate employer would hire me if I showed off "" to them, despite showing flawless coding (and shameless plugging!).

Real life example: Anything and everything about Bonnaroo was declined from my "PG" account. A few because it wasn't worth changing accounts for one scattered tweet, but mostly because I don't need some employer to make some assumption about me given the festival's obvious correlation with drug use...

So what to do... Dull & Unimpressive or Active & Agitating? I've tried a middle ground and toned down things, sometimes it worked, and sometimes it made my writing reek of Bipolar disorder. I like being vocal about my opinions, and don't feel the need to change that just because its on a website instead of phone or in person. My quest is to uncover the uncensored truth, and if some people aren't offended I'm not doing my job. But as we reveal ourselves in a virtually "all or nothing" manner, the pressure is increased, and pushed into our private lives, to write bland, socially conforming and comforting material, just in case the wrong people see it.

Hopefully with Google+ they'll get permissions down to the individual posts over who sees what, and won't let anyone not in a circle see your profile. And maybe throw in a way to make your full "useage stats" known, just to show lurking employers how influential you really are... And hopefully get enough users where it will be a viable social media platform!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Index

You're busy. Here's the quick guide to the Blog-a-roo.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Welcome to the Show!

Most of what we’ve covered so far had to do with the action outside the Centeroo stage area. See, there’s more to Bonnaroo than you think! This part will give you some pointers on how to thrive on the inside.

There are two main gates to get in, one by the main “WHAT” stage and another by the “Other Tent” stage. It’s just an additional security gate to make sure you’re not bringing in a carload of crap. Typically they check your bracelet, look in your bags, and maybe pat your pockets. Most guards don’t really care if you sneak in a beer or glow stick, but some will take it away immediately. As stated, volunteers get to keep what they confiscate, and I know guards who greatly increased their ‘glassware’ collection if you know what I mean… At times, these gates can get backed up, especially in the morning and before the headlining acts, so give yourself a few extra minutes if you’re in a hurry. Not sure how things are going to work out with the new RFID bracelets, but from Coachella videos, it does look like a faster process.

So you’re in. Awesome. The first thing you want to do is find out where the five stages are. They are aptly named the WHAT Stage and WHICH Stage, and the “THIS”, “THAT”, and “THE OTHER” tend, as if to send thousands of concertgoers into an Abbott-and-Costello-enraged fit. But you’ll get the hang of it soon enough, even if you end up calling them “the big one” or “that one by the beer tent”. For the most part, the big name acts will be on the stages, and the up-and-comers in the tents.

Tip: it takes about 15-20 minutes to walk from “The Other Tent” to the “WHAT Stage”, depending on how distracted you get with everything on the way there.

But it’s not just about the music. There’s also a Comedy Tent, a few smaller stages for acoustic sets and local bands, an all-day Silent Disco, cabaret shows, a huge neon ferris wheel, the Adult Swim games tent, giant waterslide, and much much more! And tons of artsy-and-crafty things to check out. There is something for everyone and then some!

That said, what you have to realize is, you’re not going to be able to do it all. There’s just no way. There will be bands that you will want to see that will have conflicting times. It’ll be hot out, so you might just not feel like moving, let alone walking for 20 minutes. Or the Comedy Tent may be filled to capacity when you get there. It sucks, but it’s the way it goes. Don’t worry about it so much, you’re gonna have an amazing time anyway. In fact, it’s a good excuse to stop in on, or wait around for, smaller name acts. Last year I missed headliners because there were bands I saw en route to the main stages that kicked enough ass for me to stay around for. Thievery Corporation over Jay-Z any day!

Tip: the shade from the tent stages is enough to get you to park it for a few hours no matter who else is playing.

While talking about the Comedy Tent, it works on a ticket system. You line up about an hour (check this, it changes) before the set and get a ticket, and then you can come back right before the show begins. The morning shows (which includes Cheech Marin this year) tend to have ticket lines starting 2-3 hours in advance, so you may want to get to Centeroo a bit early. If they are out of tickets, don’t worry, they typically have room for a bunch of extra people. And if that doesn’t work, come back 10-15 minutes after the show, people will have left and chances are they will not even ask for a ticket. Lots of people show up there just for 10 minutes in the air conditioning. Which is amazing by the way…

You’re also going to have times where there aren’t bands you want to see. These are times when you can ask your camping neighbors if they have anyone to recommend. Or, check out the artsy stuff going on. It’s not Bonnaroo until you take a photo with each of the Bobbleheads. And it’s definitely Bonnaroo when you see people having “conversations” with them -this will happen... You’ll also find some cool things in the Sponsors’ tents. Honest. Not being a corporate shill here. Most have air conditioning and give out some form of food or beverage, along with some music or art. Some will even wash your hair, charge your cell phone, or let you check your e-mail, all for free! It’s a great way to spend your time between shows.

Tip: Some sponsors have clean water hookups in their tents. Get in good with them, and they’ll let you fill up your water bottle without the long wait of the water stations.

And make SURE you keep hydrated. 100 degree Tennessee days are grueling without the stage-to-stage trekking. Heat exhaustion sucks, and heat stroke is even worse. Take advantage that this is one of the few festivals where water is cheap and plentiful, so long as you don’t mind standing in a potentially long line.

After the headlining acts end, the raves begin. The tent area is lit up from laser light shows, strobes and the party goes until the sun comes up. The tent stages are fairly close together so you can easily check out what’s going on at all three. Each DJ has his own unique charm, and a crowd to boot. Whether it’s the neon costumes and dance-offs during Deadmau5 or blacklight beach balling during Girl Talk, there’s plenty to watch and plenty to groove to. Wait, can you groove to a rave? Who knows. What I do know is that it’s gonna be hard to stay at Shpongle while Ratatat is playing….

Tip: Don’t trip on acid before going to see GWAR. Just… believe me on this one.

You’re allowed to stay in Centeroo 24 hours from the time it opens to the time it closes. But there’s kind of a lull in the action from 5 to 9am. You can hang out for a bit in the air-conditioned Cinema Tent which is a nice way to cool off after some late night dancing. But watch out, inside or outside they’re wholly uncool about people sleeping there. I guess if they didn’t give you a hard time, everyone would try to crash out in the ice cold tent…

So that should be all you need to know. If you haven’t made up your schedule yet, check it out on; they even have a way to personalize your planned lineup. I’ll follow up with some more pointers if need be... Please leave a comment if you crave more info!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo:
We were halfway to Manchester when...

Now for the part of the weekend that gathers the most questions: what about the drugs. Now the official stance by the promoters of the festival is “drug use is not part of the festival and will not be tolerated”. And that shall be the tone of this blog. But we all know the realities of music festivals. Four days of nearly 24-hour music, dancing, and art? Yeah…

They can be fairly thorough on the check-in, so if you plan on bringing anything you shouldn’t, be extremely discrete. Like hidden. You’re better off safe than sorry. And think about this – even if you don’t get arrested, it would suck to lose your stash before the festival. I’d say don’t risk it… you can find what you need inside.

Things begin to chill out by the tents. I actually took count, the first twelve tents I passed all contained people getting happy. This is another reason it’s important to make friends with the neighbors. Chat it up, you may have things to trade. Plus, “salesmen” tend to flock more towards larger groups. And it’s always good to have a second set of eyes out to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. You want to make sure you’re not getting an aspirin for $20…

You’ll see security on the main roads of the camping areas, so don’t be dumb and light something up you shouldn’t while walking to Centeroo. I’ll say it again, be discreet. The cops will leave you alone, but if they see anything weird they’ll swarm. Like if a ton of people emerge from your tent breathing in and out of balloons… they tend to frown upon that. Also keep in mind there’s a security checkpoint to get into Centeroo, so expect bags to be peeked in and pockets patted. Legend has it the volunteer security is paid in whatever they confiscate, so be careful!

Things have been safe throughout the history of Bonnaroo, and it plans to stay that way. So remember that Bonnaroo is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t want to burn out too early. I’ve heard stories of people taking too much Day 1 and being too burned out to leave the campground the rest of the weekend. If buying things there, make sure you know what you’re getting and how to use it. I suggest not taking things you haven’t done before, but if you do, do a bit of research on the internet first.

And if you want to hear something weird: You really can’t find pot there. No shitting ya, I have yet to see someone selling it there. I’m guessing that because of its bulky size, it’s not worth the risk trying to smuggle it into the festival for profit. Crazy, right? The safest drug out there requires the most effort to hide. Just another reason why we need to make it legal, but I’ll leave my soapboxing for another day.

One thing about the common substances – they will dehydrate you. It cools down a bit at night, but when you’re jumping and dancing around a tent with tens of thousands of others, it can be hotter than the day. And all these chemicals speed you up and make you pour out sweat in buckets. Hey, I’m not lying when I say Bonnaroo is great exercise. Make sure you make plenty of trips to the water stations, and take a run through the Mushroom Fountain. Depending on what you’re on, you may find yourselves unable to resist! When the sun comes up and you finally get back to your tent, down some Gatorade so you’re replenished for the morning. The key is, STAY HYDRATED!!!

And if drugs aren’t your thing, that’s all good. To each their own. I’ve met plenty of people there who don’t partake and they have just as good a time. People are discreet about it, so you need not worry about it being in your face. It’s enough of a high just being there, and there’s so much to do that you’ll be mentally occupied on or off the stuff.

Oh yeah, and just to disclaim: I am not advocating the use of drugs nor implying they exist in any manner at Bonnaroo. But this article exists to keep people informed and safe in case they do. Stupid technicalities…

So let me conclude with my overall suggestion on the topic: “Keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground” and all will be good throughout the show…

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Awesome Eats

Time for another common topic for the New-to-Roo crowd: Food. Believe me, there’s lots of it. You won’t go hungry during this festival, and you can easily have something completely different for every meal. From Coffee and Eggs in the morning, to Gyros and Burritos for dinner, your meals can be just as festive as the festival itself.

When it comes to festivals, people always complain about the high price of the food. In this festival, that isn’t the case. There are a ton of vendors all competing for your business, which keeps things reasonable. Most dinner platters are $10 or under, and are huge portions. You can find sandwiches and lunch-style items in the $5-$7 range, and breakfast as low as two dollars. The best bargains are outside Centeroo, on the flea market strip known as “Shakedown Street” so keep your eyes out on your way to the stages. All in all you’d probably spend much more at a restaurant for these items.

Some of the sights you will see include Burritos that cover two full plates, giant corn dogs, turkey legs, Southern Barbecue, and a variety of Asian and vegetarian dishes. There are so many good things that, despite all the exercise you get over the weekend, you might actually gain weight during the festival!

Trust me, the vendors know what type of customers they’ll have and what kind of “munchies” they’ll be hungering for! You’re covered.

Try to resist the urge to splurge on the Bacon-and-Cheese Loaded Butterfly Fries. They cut them right in front of you and the process is hypnotic. Yet another way to attract those with “the munchies”. Not to mention the giant plate they give you will reel you in. Additionally, resist the urge to put additional ranch dressing on them. Yeah. That made up for four days of walking 10 miles in the burning hot sun. And I could only get through a third of them. But soooo good…

If you’re new to ‘Roo, there are two food experiences you need to have. Both have become Bonnaroo celebrities: The World’s Greatest Grilled Cheese, and Spicy Pie. Spicy Pie is a pizza stand in several locations both inside and outside Centeroo. For $5 you get a nice size Pizza slice, with a variety of toppings. But the one to try is the self-titles Spicy Pie slice. It’s a pepperoni-and-cayenne infused slice that’ll give you a nice mid-day kick. The World’s Greatest Grilled Cheese is located outside Centeroo on Shakedown Street and serves just that – Grilled Cheese. For a dollar. Yes, ONE dollar. $1. And this is no joke Grilled Cheese… texas toast loaded with cheese and cooked in garlic butter. Expect a long line at times, but it’s worth it. Last year anytime there was a short line I just ran up and got one. Yeah, easy to overeat this festival!

In addition, some of the sponsors hand out samples throughout the day. Got to load up on Butterfinger Ice Cream and Wheat Thins in years past. They’re hard to resist, especially since most sponsors have air conditioned tents!

Aside from that, I suggest packing your cooler full of snacks. Never know what you’ll be craving. It’s good to have some granola bars and beef jerky to munch on throughout the day… they’re both good for you, and Bonnaroo is very much a hike. Plus a few homemade sandwiches can cut down the festival food calories and save you a few bucks. Snack smart my friends!

And if you're thirsty, don't fear. There are water stations located throughout Centeroo. Look for the blue mushroom-shaped domes. The water is cold and free. The only downside is that the wait can be very long. Sometimes there's no water pressure, which can cause the line to back up. And the dehydrated masses tend to get irritable. My suggestion: try to get in back of people who are only filling up a small water bottle - Camelbacks can take forever when the water comes out drip by drip. But if you have one yourself, you won't have to worry about the lines as much.

For those craving a stronger drink, there’s a beer garden in the middle of Centeroo. There’s a lot of craft beers to try out. It’s a bit pricey, but if you want to meet some friends for a quick beer between sets, this is the place. Otherwise, I would wholly recommend bringing in a case or two of your own favorite brew, and having some fun at your campsite tailgate.

And if booze isn’t your cup of tea, check out the next section for the scoop on some of the other intoxicating-ly awesome aspects of the festival!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Campin' Out

If this is your first time going to roo, and especially if its your first time at any rock festival, get ready for the part of the show you didn’t expect to enjoy the most – the campout! Welcome to your village of 80,000 people all looking to have a good time. It’s like the largest, most chill party ever. And it’s very easy to meet people and make friends.

When you get to the camp site, try to grab as much room as you can. Every inch will count. You want to make sure you can fully open your car doors, and that a tent and a few chairs can fit in front/behind you.

So quickly set up your tent… you’ll notice that everyone around you will be so pumped up that it’s almost like a race. Very likely you will notice a neighbor who needs help setting up. This is method numero uno to make an introduction.

When the tents are all up, grab a beer and pass some around. Chances are they will reciprocate. It’s easy to get into random conversations at ‘Roo… “where are you from” “who are you here to see” “have you been to Bonnaroo before,” etc. are all common topics. Always good to have some buddies around. They can point you out things you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of checking out, and it’s just cool to have some people to chill with during the shows.

So that said, let’s get to the roughing it part. The first thing to realize is that it is either going to be extremely hot, or extremely rainy. Trust me, the latter is better. Make sure your tent can handle both conditions. If you have a canopy tent, place it over your sleeping tent. This will keep it both dry and shady. If you want to put in the effort, place a tarp under the tent too… this can help keep additional dirt or bugs out. Put a sheet down and then your sleeping bag and you’re good to go.

But what if you can’t stand the idea of sleeping in a tent? Well, here’s a trick I used last year. Note that this might not work (and could be dangerous) if you’re parked in direct sunlight, or it is extremely hot out, so try at your own risk… Yup sucks you gotta disclaimer this stuff if ya don’t wanna get sued…

Take two solar reflectors and put one in the front and back windows. Make sure no light is getting in. Then drape a thin, dark sheet over the roof so that it covers your side windows. Tie the corners to part of the car, or close it in the door. Roll your windows all the way down, and there you have it. I found this to be much more comfortable than sleeping in the tent. You can even turn the AC on in short bursts if you’re confident about your gas and batteries. (keep both in mind before leaving the AC on)

Two things you’ll need while sleeping: something to cover your ears, and something to cover your eyes. When you go to sleep, no matter what time, there will be someone just waking up to party, blasting music or walking right next to your tent. So don’t expect a quiet night’s rest. Bring some earplugs to minimize the effect. And as for a blindfold, well, the sun will be beating down from 5:30am on… it’s gonna get bright!

One of the best things about Bonnaroo is that you can bring food and booze into the campsite. I’ll cover food in a later section of the blog. But for now, let me suggest you keep your cooler in your trunk. That will keep it as cold as possible through the weekend. You can also bring in some barbecue food and set up a small grill if you feel so inclined. Most just bring sandwiches or stick to fair food, but some grounds come armed with gas grills and coleman stoves. Depends on you.

Another pointer: Keep your valuables locked in your car. Bonnaroo is fairly safe, but that doesn’t mean you can just leave stuff lying around. Every year I’ve had some neighbor have cash, ipods, beer, etc stolen from their site. Leaving it in a zipped-up tent isn’t enough. But there’s nothing to fear if you just use some basic common sense

Now how do you keep clean? There are indeed showers at the campgrounds. But they might not be near your tent, cost like $10 and you should expect at least an hour wait. But I hear they do have plenty of hot water and they’re not bad for getting clean. But I’d say most people rough it. Now hygiene will be a joke to a lot of people this weekend, but if you’d like to have some semblance of cleanliness, here are some two pointers:

Baby Wipes – Kind of like a portable shower. Keep them in a cool place and use them constantly. Great to get the sweat off and clean those hard-to-reach areas. You’ll go through a lot of them, and it will be worth it

The soda bottles filled with water - Ok here’s what those are for… When you get to Bonnaroo, place them on the back shelf of your car (or otherwise sunny area). It’s basically a solar hot water heater. Take a bottle, test the temperature, and pour it on your head, stopping every few seconds to soap up. If you pour it right, one bottle should be enough to clean one person. So there’s your shower. If you want to get fancy, they do sell portable ‘shower stalls’ at Walmart and sporting good stores, but this method is quicker.

There are also sink houses spread throughout the grounds. They’re good to freshen up, and typically will have soap. The water kinda smells bad (sulfur filtering) but it can help get mud and other dirtiness off you. You typically won’t seen people bathing here, but go later at night if you want to give yourself a thorough rubdown.

FYI the Mushroom Fountain and water stations are off-limits for bathing.

And what about bathrooms? Bathrooms shouldn’t be terribly far from your campsite, but will likely not be a convenient stroll in the middle of the night. But it’s a wooded area, so you shouldn’t have trouble making your own. Probably cleaner than the porto-potties too. Did I mention that the ladies should really practice their squatting before this weekend? Luckily, the bathroom situation is better (but not necessarily cleaner) once you get inside Centeroo.

So lets start heading that way… a few stops before we get to the inner sanctum of the festival

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Getting There
a.k.a. The Road to 'Roo

The first thing that shocked me about Bonnaroo is from just how far away the fans come. I probably met more people from Philadelphia than the whole South combined. Canada, Australia, Brazil, England, you name it, they’ll be there.

This section will be for those driving into the festival. This is probably the most, but only, annoying part of the weekend. My first year I got there early and it still it took over 9 hours to get in. Luckily Green Day just released a new CD so the music went non-stop. Hopefully this won’t happen to you, but prepare for it.

The first thing to take note of is the appearance of your car as you approach Manchester. I’ve heard stories of cars being pulled over and searched as far away as Kentucky and Virginia for blaring hippie memorabilia. From what I’ve noticed this is definitely true as you get within a few miles. But these were the only cars pulled over. Your best bet is to go incognito. Don’t hang peace flags from your windows, write “Bonnaroo or Bust” on your trunk, cover your tail with hippie bumper stickers, or drive up with fun-smelling smoke bellowing out the car. That basically sends an instant signal to the cops saying “Drugs on Board!!!” Play it smooth, and things will go smoothly. Personally, I go a step further by loading all my camping gear in the trunk and putting on a collared work shirt, just so I don’t look like trouble. Most cops in the area don’t want to be dicks this weekend (unusual but true)… they want to get you into the festival and out of their hair as quickly as possible. Just don’t give them a reason to pull you over and you’ll be fine.

So as you pull up to Exit 111, you’ll start seeing the cars lining up on the northbound side of the highway. This can go back 10-15 miles. The year I waited 9 hours, I had come from the north. They made me drive up to exit 127, and the line was backed up past that point. I got rerouted through the back roads, but needless to say both lines were equally long.

The waiting can get very boring. So make sure you have some awesome tunes to listen to. What will happen is you’ll likely stay stopped for 15-20 minutes at a time, then move upwards of half a mile, just to stop again for another 20 mins. So you’ll have time to get out of the car and stretch. Or maybe throw around a Frisbee. I walked around and talked to some of my ‘new neighbors’. So you could say the traffic is part of the party.

Make sure you are gassed up before you go. This whole process can take a long time, and if you have your AC blasting, it can really eat up your gas.

So it’s been asked “what if you need to go to the bathroom?” Well, I can’t speak for the highway line, but if you’re on the backroads, there are many sections that are lined with bushes or behind haystacks and dirt mounds. So you should be safe. Ladies, you might want to practice your squatting, or figure out a good way to do it in the car.

This is one of the areas where fortune favors the prepared. If you do some research, you can try to find an alternate ‘locals’ route through the side streets. I’m not giving away my secret (lest it be secret no more) but lets just say it only took an hour to get to the gas station at the end of the exit 111 ramp that signifies the entrance to ‘Roo.

So you’ve been waiting for hours, and you finally get to the gates to get in. Don’t worry, there’s about another hour or two from this point. Keep calm, and resist any urges to crack a beer or light up. You’re gonna be amped up as soon as you pull in, and that’s an amazing high on its own.

The reason why is because they have a checkpoint before you enter the grounds. And they can be very thorough. The rumors of cars torn to shreds on the sides of the “tollbooths” are true. But you really need to attract attention for that to happen. Still, you never know when the security guard is going to be a dick and want to go over every square inch. Another good reason to look professional! I’ve had them check in my door pockets, glove box, center console, trunk, cooler, and spare tire compartment one year, and another they just peeked inside my windows, popped my trunk, and looked in my cooler and that was all. So if you plan on bringing in anything you shouldn’t (which you weren’t planning to do anyway, wink wink), make sure it is extremely well hidden.

Once you’re past the tollbooths its only a few minutes before they direct you to your camp site. They’ll try to pack you in like sardines, so try to pull as far away from the adjacent cars as possible. Once you make friends you may be able to work with each other to rearrange them for maximum space. So set your tent up, say hi to your neighbors, and meet me for the next chapter!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: What to Bring


Lets start with this, since much about the festival will be revealed through the items that will help you get through it. Pay attention, there are some things you wouldn’t necessarily think of bringing.


· 5+ comfortable t-shirts

· Cargo shorts

· A fanny pack if you’re not fashion conscious (no one will judge you here)

· As many socks and underwear as you can hold

o You will want to change ‘em as often as possible

· A bathing suit

o Will be more comfortable than cargo shorts. The more pockets the better. Most will have velcro or buttons to keep your stuff safe. The best part is, it will get filthy, and you can just hop in a pool to clean it!

· Something colorful and fun to wear during the raves

o Yeah, no one is judging. But you’ll see some crazy outfits during the late night sets. Raver or not, it’s fun to put on flashy clothes for the all-nite dance jams!

· A hooded rain poncho

· A hooded sweatshirt

· Old ratty sneakers that you won’t mind throwing away

o Because you probably will want to at the end of the festival. I’ve tossed mine without regret the last two ‘Roos.

· ** Cushioned insoles (the thicker the better) **

o You’re gonna do a lot of walking and standing and this will make it so much more comfortable

· A watch

o A cheap one will be fine

· A pedometer

o For fun and bragging. And your health. I walked between 9-10 miles each day last year!

Food, Drink, and Toiletries:

· *** A CASE of bottled water

o Freeze as many as you can before putting them in the cooler.

· Four additional soda bottles or bigger filled with water

o Tap water is fine. Will be explained later.

· *** Sunscreen. As high a SPF as you can find and tolerate

· *** Baby Wipes

o Probably the most important thing you will need. This is the best way to clean up at your campsite, which will likely be nowhere near sinks and showers. It will also make your ‘business’ time much quicker and cleaner. If you can find individually wrapped wipes, go for it.

· The biggest and strongest cooler that can fit in your trunk

· Granola bars, Beef Jerky, other high-protein easy-to-carry snacks

· Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. If you trust your cooler, prepare a few cold cut wraps.

· Those serving-size packets of iced tea/fruit punch/sports drink that are made for bottled water

o Usually have some added vitamins and simple sugars. And good to mix with vodka!

· 4 bottles of sports drink

o Freeze at least 2. Good to replenish fluids throughout the day.

· Multivitamins

· A camelback

o Not mandatory. But the lines for the drinking water often back up, so might as well grab as much as you can when you get there. Trust me, others will…

· Alcohol in CANS/PLASTIC

o I suggest sticking with beer. Light beer, believe it or not. It will dehydrate you the least. Bring enough to last you four days, plus some to share with friends! Don’t overdo it on liquor. Hangovers SUCK when you gotta walk a mile to the stage in 100 degree weather.

· Plastic ziplock bags

o Keep the contents of your pockets dry in case of rain or spontaneous fountain jumping. Seriously. Not to hold illicit substances… ;)

· Baby Powder / Gold Bond

o Lots of walking means lots of chafing. Even the strongest crotch will feel the burn. Don’t forget this.

· Deodorant

o Out of respect for your fellow festival-goers, please don’t forget this…

· Addl. Spray Deodorant / Cologne

o Quick easy way to freshen up

· Condoms

o Bonnaroo is nowhere near the sex romp that Woodstock was. Remember, most people go unshowered the whole four days, so you probably won’t even be thinking about getting laid. But hey, best to be on the safe side…

For the camp site:

· Tent, Sleeping Bag

o Self explanatory. Make sure the stakes are with your tent. Otherwise it will blow away.

· Gazebo tent

o Those awning-style tents. They’ll help keep the sun off your tent and give you a cool place to sit

· Small flashlight

o The battery free ones work great and will safely last the whole weekend

· A bed sheet or two

· Those solar blockers for your car windows. Get 2 if you can…

o I’ll explain how to use these and the sheet to comfortably sleep in your car

· One of those quick-folding field chairs

· Hackey Sack

o Ya know, in the past two years, no one brought a sack with them. WTF?!? Can’t think of a better place to have one.

For the show:

· Your ticket

o Duh

· ** A notepad and pen **

o The second most important thing. It’s so much fun writing down your thoughts and observations when chilling in a huge open field with music blasting and people acting all sorts of awesome.

· 4 copies of the Bonnaroo Map

· 4 copies of the Bonnaroo Lineup schedule

o Try to print double-sided so you can have two days on each sheet. Regardless, bring at least one copy of each day. The more you bring, the more you can share with your new friends!

· ** Digital Camera with video **

o Soooo many things you’ll want to take photos of. Especially if on substances that enhance visualizations. Make sure it has videos, cause at some points, still photos just won’t give the story justice!

· Cash

o Don’t expect anyone to take credit cards even if you know how to do it on your iPhone… There’s food, drinks, and snacks everywhere. And nearly a mile of flea market style arts and crafts leading towards Centeroo (stage area).

Now for the Do Not Bring. This list could go on, but these are things that tend to get lost or confiscated:

· Glow Sticks

o Hate to say it, but they WILL take them away at the gates if they find them. Yes, it does say it on the official website’s “Bring” list. But every year you’ll see a pile of them in garbage cans on the way in. They’ll be easy enough to find once you’re inside Centeroo.

· Balloons

o Same deal with the Glow Sticks. Don’t know why they say you can bring them in. They will get taken away. I think they’re afraid people will use them for whip-its.

· A cell phone

o Fine to leave in your car, but you really won’t need it on festival grounds. Especially if you’re solorooing. There are many areas where you can, and will probably want to, get wet, so don’t let your expensive phone get fried.

· Too much cash

o Lack of sleep, dehydration, booze, drugs… you’ll lose it or spend it all. If you’re not looking to go souvenir or “party favor” shopping and have a homemade sandwich each day for lunch, $100 should be fine. The food isn’t terribly priced for a festival (<$10 for dinner) and you can find cheap snacks around if you know where to look.

· Sandals or fancy footwear

o Remember, you’re gonna do a lot of walking. Uncomfortable shoes will ruin it for you. And your feet will get stepped on when dancing up to the stage…

· Glass

o They’re really strict about it and don’t take it lightly. I’ve seen them toss bottles of cologne away. If they find glass bottles in your car, you can guarantee you’re getting a thorough search. Don’t chance it when you can easily buy cans and plastic.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo

Hey Kids! It’s that time of year again. The days get longer, the cicadas swarm non-stop, and the annual Bonnaroo Music Festival comes to Tennessee. Four days of music, comedy, raves, art, camping, some more music, and chilling with new cool people. Nearly 80,000 converge in the Nashville/Chattanooga suburb of Manchester, TN, and for those who haven’t been there yet, well, I’m gonna teach you how to survive it all.

Ok, Bonnaroo is nothing to be afraid of, but to have the best time possible it takes some due diligence. Expect to sit in traffic for several hours before you get to walk several miles each day in possibly 100-degree weather with minimal bathing facilities. Yes, all those rumors are true. But don’t worry, it’s all fun from there.

Most of my friends take off for the summer, so the past two years I did the ‘Roo alone. Solorooed it! And I gotta say, for someone who isn’t the most outgoing person, the experience was so much better for it. Consider Bonnaroo a “social boot camp”. The people you meet at your tent will become your best buddies for the weekend, and you get to meet plenty of interesting folks at the many activities, art exhibits, stages, food tents, or passing around a proverbial HIMYM-style sandwich.

he's not giggling cause of the lettuce...

If there’s one way to describe Bonnaroo it’s this: An Experience. Simply put. There is so much going on it will seem overwhelming. Chances are in the four days you will not even get to see everything you want. But you will also get to see a ton of new things you never thought you’d stumble upon. And it will be AWESOME!!!

To be honest, I don’t even care for any of the bands playing this year. But I’m going just for ‘The Experience’. Relax for a weekend, meet new people, see some crazy things, and maybe discover a brand new favorite band.

So stay tuned. My next few posts will walk you through everything you need to know about preparing for, getting to, checking out, and surviving the greatest festival this side of the bible belt!

And if you got questions, ask away. I’ll throw a FAQ together if I get anything good!