Category Archives: Uncategorized

The 2020 Election

I always try to blog about the election before it happens. It’s partially a coping mechanism and partially my need to document what’s happening. Elections are a very strange tipping point in time where everything changes, so it seems key to capture your thoughts before they’re influenced by the change.

In previous elections, I’ve blogged about candidate and made endorsements and tried to help people sort through all the confusion. I didn’t do much of that this year, mostly because of my work with West St. Paul Reader and my attempt at a non-endorsement policy there (which I broke; I endorsed Lisa Eng-Sarne for ward 3 city council). In 2018 I even blogged my entire ballot (and all my picks won). I also didn’t go that route because of my Better Politics, Please book. Not that better politics means you can’t support anyone, but it just gets awkward to go after candidates hard while also trumpeting this better approach. There’s a bit of friction there.

Also, exhaustion.

Sometimes blogging is freeing and helps me get thoughts out of my head so I can make sense of them. But other times it just feels like too much work. That’s a little of how it feels now.

And honestly, that’s what the last four years have felt like—unending exhaustion.

So let’s talk about it—briefly, cuz exhaustion—and then we’ll see what happens on Election Day.

Continue reading The 2020 Election

Most People Believe the Homeless Have No Redeeming Value: Help Mark Horvath Change That

My friend Mark Horvath runs one of the only homelessness advocacy organizations in the country, He’s giving a voice to people most of us choose to ignore. Mark is the ideal person for this work, because he was once homeless himself. Mark’s birthday is this week and he needs your help.

Every year Mark does a single big fundraiser around his birthday that provides a big chunk of his donations for the year. In reality, Mark is supporting much of the work of himself, through consulting and speaking fees. About 80% of’s funding comes from Mark. The other 20% comes from donations, mostly in this big fundraiser.

That’s incredible.

First, it’s incredible that Mark gives so much of himself to this cause.

Second, it’s incredible that donations only bring in about 20%. Mark shouldn’t have to hustle so hard to keep going. And right now, his campaign has two days left and he still needs $3,700 to hit his goal. That 20% is kind of pathetic. And we’re barely making it right now.

So please donate.

Mark is doing some incredible and much needed awareness work with He captures the stories of homeless people in honest, brutal videos. They’re hard to watch. Because people want to ignore them. We want to write off homeless people, come up with excuses for why we shouldn’t help them (and in the worst cases, take selfies instead of help them). But if we understood what homeless people have gone through, what they’re up against, we’d change our tune (like Dennis, who admits, “I used to make fun of the homeless until I became one.”). Most people believe homeless people have no redeeming value. That’s horrible. And it needs to change. Mark is making it change.

I’ve been supporting Mark and his work since the beginning. I helped publish the Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness book that supports Mark’s work. I’ve interviewed him for Church Marketing Sucks and Foursquare, sharing his story of being homeless and nearly becoming homeless again in 2008, when he launched after being laid off. Earlier this year I ran a half-marathon to support Mark, ultimately raising more than $700 and barely managing to finish (13 miles is tough and I needed all the support I could get).

So I’m asking you to support Mark’s work, give to his birthday campaign. Let’s raise that 20% and then some.

Thank you.

Speaking at Ignite Minneapolis

Ignite MinneapolisTonight I’m speaking at Ignite Minneapolis. It’s a unique conference where presenters only get 5 minutes. You’re also given 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. It’s kind of a lightning round approach to presentations and it should both be fascinating and scary.

The topics are all over the map, but the general theme is good ideas. I’ll be talking about how to read a lot, basically drawing on my book 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading.

I’ll be covering some of my recent favorites, including Ready Player One, The Fault in Our Stars, The Martian and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

I’ll be sharing 10 reading tips roughly pulled from 137 Books in One Year:

  1. Take a book everywhere.
  2. Read it.
  3. Read for you.
  4. If you don’t like it, stop.
  5. Figure out your patterns.
  6. Track your reading.
  7. Have a next book.
  8. Find books.
  9. Share what you read.
  10. Create a habit of reading.

The event should be streaming live so you can watch from home. It starts at 7 p.m. Central and I’m on halfway through the second half (so maybe around 8:30?).

My favorite comment about presenting at the event comes from Julio Ojeda-Zapata: “So scary, so worth it.” That’s about how I feel at the moment, though probably veering into scary. My wife keeps telling me it’s only five minutes. Though they’re either going to be the longest or shortest five minutes of my life.

The Kickstarter Yo-Yo

The King's YomenOnce upon a time I was a yo-yo master. I was one half of the yo-yo performing duo known as The King’s Yomen. I slung a yo-yo on the corner of Michigan and Pearson in Chicago, a bonafide street performer. I’ve even reflected on how the yo-yo became my salvation from a soul-sucking chapter in high school. Heck, my company even celebrated its five-year anniversary with a yo-yo.

That’s all once upon a time. I still have lots of yo-yo’s. There’s even one sitting on my desk. But I don’t throw a yo-yo on a daily (or hourly) basis like I used to.

But my friend Adam does. He’s the one who taught me how to yo-yo and dragged me on stage as the other half of The King’s Yomen. A couple years ago I saw his face in Walgreens, plastered on a yo-yo and still spinning strong. He’s still at it today, cranking out how to yo-yo videos at

This week Adam launched a Kickstarter campaign to create his own yo-yo. Not just some wood yo-yo with his name on it (been there, done that), but a $90 aluminum yo-yo with ball bearings, perfectly balanced and designed for advanced players to do 1A string tricks.


That’s right, you’ve just had a glimpse into the intricate world of yo-yo geekery.

I knew it existed it, I was neck deep in it once upon a time. We had $90 aluminum ball bearing yo-yo’s in my day (Look: Here’s my 15-year-old self playing with one), but they weren’t that good. And we didn’t produce them ourselves.

Now before you dismiss this as being too geeky and not worth your attention: Adam’s Kickstarter campaign has raised $4,700 and counting in less than three days. The geeks shall inherit the earth.

Adam has another 30 days to raise funds, so it’ll be fun to see where this goes. You can get his fancy new yo-yo for $75, but if that’s not quite your speed you can get a beginner yo-yo for $15 (and learn how to use it at

Check out their video and see some amazing tricks:

I love Kickstarter. Now I just have to decide how badly I need a $90 yo-yo.

Blog Action Day: Clean Water

Today is Blog Action Day and thousands of blogs will be talking about clean water. I wrote a post over at HalogenTV about why I care about clean water. Last month we met the goal of raising $5,000 for charity: water through my book, Addition by Adoption, raising enough to build a well in Ethiopia (and then some). So I already know many of you care about clean water. And rather than telling you more about what you already know, I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you.

As you see lots of talk about clean water today you can give a hardy thumbs up. You’re already on board and that’s pretty cool. Thank you.

What is Social Media Good For? Ask Johnny

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t get the blogging or the Twitface and always scratches your head wondering what this stuff is good for, well, just ask Johnny. I talked about him the other day: Johnny is a disabled veteran who has been living in his mobile home until it got impounded. His very home was impounded and he had to live on the streets in his wheelchair for 19 days.

Thanks to Mark Horvath of spreading the word through social media, he was able to raise an additional $345 to go with the $280 Johnny had raised on his own and get his home out of the impound.

Here’s the story:

Helping the homeless doesn’t have to be so hard.

If you’re in the Twin Cities, there’s a local ‘sleep in your car’ event organized by a guy who sleeps in his car. It’s an opportunity to experience what the homeless experience every day and get motivated to do something about it.

Head-Spinning Changes

I tweeted yesterday about a big, hairy, life-changing phone call (in a good way). The details are still confidential, so I can’t share anything.

But a few days back I was talking to a reporter for a story about Addition by Adoption (yes, a real live reporter—the publicity machine continues, though again I won’t divulge my sources, don’t count your chickens and all that) and we were talking about this very blog. I bragged that I’d been blogging since 1998, but then had to fess up to how awful it was back then. Full of diary-type yearning that were completely incomprehensible to anybody but me. Rather than being up front and clear about what I was writing about, I was vague and obtuse. Occasionally I think it worked (of course my blog posts didn’t have titles back then). But mostly it was weird. I’m glad I stopped.

But considering the confidential nature of this potential life changing deal, it seems like being vague and obtuse might be just the thing… or not. I tried some of that, and it felt just as pretentious as it did back then. Bubbles floating on air and all that.

So you’re left with one of those obnoxious, I-have-a-secret-na-na-na-boo-boo blog posts. It may come to nothing. And it may change everything. And wow, focusing on any kind of productivity is impossible.

Lexi in Times Square

So yesterday we went on an impromptu trip to New York City.

We took Lexi to the Hershey store. A store of chocolate. She wanted a rubber ball.

We took Lexi to the M&M store. An entire wall covered with pick-your-color M&Ms. She wanted an 8 oz. pack of M&Ms that you can get in every gas station, convenience store and mini-mart across the country.

My kid is weird. I love it.

(And today she threw up because all she had for supper was a pack of M&Ms and a chocolate shake from Jamba Juice. We suck as parents.)