I attended the Blissdom conference last week, and it was awesome. I did things that I can't ever do when my wife is around. Like fall sleep with my shoes on. Oh yes I did. P. Diddy where you at? You better sign this bad boy. 

Let's put this east coast west coast beef aside. It's all about the Lisa Leonard Blissdom bling, baby. Also the friendship bracelet kit that Marie gave me. (photo courtesy of MomoFali's Flickr)

I was invited to Blissdom to present a session, and I will get to that later. First, the real reason I love going to blog conferences:

Being silly and responsibly inebriated with friends, as model parents who set a good example even when their kids are thousands of miles away often do:

Errbody in the garden gettin tipsy: Lotus, me, Mishi, Aimee and Momo (photo courtesy of Secret Agent Mama's Flickr)

Goofy Goobers: me, Heather, Karen, Momo, Maile, Allison, Rachel, and Lotus... up in da club (photo courtesy of Secret Agent Mama's Flickr)

Indulging my Asian Karaoke Gene by singing... a Toby Keith song (and defining irony better than Webster ever could).

Kelly and Julie ask Who's Your Daddy... Blogger (photo courtesy of Secret Agent Mama's Flickr)

Indulging in indulgence.

Filling myself with heart, spirit and pressurized dairy product (photo courtesy of Secret Agent Mama's Flickr)

Losing my bid for Mayor.

I should have just used Foursquare (photo courtesy of Secret Agent Mama's Flickr)

While all of the above was fun and games, the reason I went to Blissdom was that I was invited to speak. It all happened so suddenly. One day I was casually emailing with Megan (who did a bang up job soliciting and choosing the conference sessions) about topics that I would hypothetically take vacation days off work and fly to Nashville to go see, and the next moment, I found myself on a plane headed to Nashville, feverishly finishing a PowerPoint regarding a topic I hypothetically would take vacation days to go see, minus 2 vacation days.

And then it was showtime.

The conversation between my homette Rachel and me probably went something like "knock 'em dead Jim!" "I think I forgot to pee." (photo courtesy of Heather Durdil's Flickr)

The session itself was entitled "Innovative Writing Techniques." So of course I opened it up with a slide of double rainbows, unicorns, bacon, the Death Star and ninjas, proving that I never forgot the first rule of math club: find the common denominator.

Because even ninjas can't carry a room for 90 minutes, I'm glad I had the help of my very talented, highly professional, all-around awesome co-presenters Mrs Flinger and Amy Turn Sharp. They talked about writing prompts, finding your voice and a whole lot of other compelling, relevant subjects, while I yelled at the computer.

I got your RAM right here!! (photo courtesy of Heather Durdil's Flickr)

When I got the PowerPoint presentation to work again, I spoke on the topic of the importance of medium. Essentially, my thesis was how you tell a story is often just as important as what you tell. And to illustrate that, I took a very common saying, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," and showcased some interesting ways I would go about telling that tale.

And now, for the first time on national internet, are the videos and other randomness that were previously available ONLY to session attendees.

But first, a word from our sponsor:

Well, Huggies Little Movers diapers isn't technically my sponsor, but they are paying me in caaash money and diapers to blog  about my diaper experiences on their website High Chair Critics (click through to my intro post - even if you don't read it, there is an ultra cute pic of Fury and Lessi kicking it old school). They were looking for a dad who has trouble keeping up with life to represent them in their "Too Fast, Keep Up" campaign, and considering I can only blog like once a month, I was a shoo-in. I said yes because the opinions and the absurdity are all mine. Also, if one of you wins some of their $5 million in prizes and points (contest codes inside of every pack of Little Movers diapers), I will have done something useful in this life.

And now, the back to our scheduled post...

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
A study in ways to "write" things when you are too lazy to actually write

Make a list:

Make a haiku (nothing beats a 17 syllable commitment):

Write an opinion piece:

Get scientific on it, a la Mythbusters:

Piggyback on the most viral video of the year:

Get your friends involved:

When the smoke cleared, and the sessions were done, and the flashmobs were danced (yes I was in that), and the drink tickets were spent, and the sponsor booths were dismantled, all we were left with was what we came for in the first place: our homies.

Flash-Loitering: Jana, Rachel,  Me and Momo (photo courtesy of Secret Agent Mama's Flickr)

To my OG friends from back in the day, like Rachel, Momo, Mishi, Lotus, VDog, Jenny and Kim...

To friends I have picked up along the way, like Julie, Amy, Becky, Kelly, Leah...

To friends I looked forward to meeting in person for the first time and was so glad I did, like Aimee, Karen and Jana...

To new friends I just met, like Heather, Kelli and Emily...

To my comrades in the session trenches, Amy and Leslie...

To the friend I owed a Guinness to for a year, Kat...

... and of course to anyone at Blissdom who went out of their way to say hi and didn't make me feel like the creepy dude at the women's conference.

Thank you for laughing with me (and at me, when appropriate), singing with me, shakin wit me, drinkin with me, chillin with me, and generally making me feel at home, despite our chromosomal differences. Admittedly, it's a difficult line to walk as a male blogger in a female world. But when you have close friends who can accept you as one of the group, but still make you feel like a guy's guy (these shirt buttons are snaps, ladies!), it's blissfully the best of both worlds.

But just in case, I kept the toilet seat up the entire time.

Stones, birds and killing them

Help me fellow blogger... you're my only hope.

Some of you may know that I'm going to be speaking at Blissdom in a few days. This is not unlike me, 28 years ago, saying "some of you may know, I have a book report due in a few days." Because tonight is when I crack open the book, read as fast as I can and hope that some semblance of coherence comes out of my mouth later on. Also, since speaking at a blog conference kind of requires one to have a blog, I have to dig this old thing up and post on it.

So, bird #1. Killed.

For bird #2? I'd like to use one of my lifelines: blog a friend.

My presentation is titled: Innovative Writing Techniques: How to Keep Your Audience Breathless

Funny story behind this. See, I'm a lazy home writer. A large part of my day job involves writing, as in proper intro paragraphs, good grammar, sentence transitions, punctuation, and all these other elements that communicate an idea as coherent narrative. This means that when I write for pleasure, the last thing I want to do is use any of that. Instead, I do lazy things like make videos, impersonate the Food Network, sing duets, dance, write fake newspaper articles, make more videos, do mad libs, write some Haikus, eat dog food (and put it on video), make lists, photoshop LEGO scenes, etc. All in an effort to avoid paragraphs. And I say it's worked out pretty well so far.

Until someone thought it was innovative.

Now I have to stand there in front of hundreds, dozens, tens, some people and talk about it. Is this what they call a public calling out? Luckily, I have some real pros helping me with this (Amy Turn Sharp and Leslie Flinger). But I still need to drag some others down with me. My powerpoint skills only go so far.

Here's where you come in: I would like to highlight as many "innovative" blog posts as I can during my presentation. Have you ever written a post that conveys an idea or story in an unorthodox way? Something that wasn't neatly wrapped up in an intro paragraph, 2 body paragraphs and a conclusion?

If so, leave me a link to it in the comments below. I may use it in my presentation at Blissdom. You scratch my back, I get Blissdom attendees to marvel at how creatively lazy you are.

I can see the birds falling out of the sk...

Too soon? Yeeeah, sorry.

Dadvatar: The Blissdom Chronicles


There is a community living among us that few outside observers have successfully documented, let alone infiltrated. It is a collective of beings who organize themselves in complex social networks based upon tribes and niches. They frolic on Pandora, but can also be found on Twitter, Facebook , Flickr and other imaginary worlds. And their lifeblood is a seemingly infinite energy source called comments and connection. This community I speak of is the world of women bloggers. And I ran among them for three days.

This is my story.


You can say I was recruited for this mission four months ago. Selected by the US Potato Board to participate in the Tastemaker Challenge, I was the sole male representative out of nine contestants pitted against each other to do creative things with potatoes and put them on YouTube. After I had accepted the assignment, there was a conference call.

“And for the final challenge, we’re sending you all to cook live. At Blissdom.”

The Adventure

Before I knew it, I was placed into a metal sleep chamber with the words Southwest painted on the side. When I awoke, I found myself in Nashville, TN, carrying a swag bag containing a “smoky eyes” kit, facemask creams, binkies and bling. My mission had begun. As I explored this new world called the Opryland Resort, I couldn’t help but notice how sharp the color-coded rugs were, and how 3-D the vegetation looked under the resort’s bio-domed enclosure.  

I knew I had little time to waste, but was hesitant to just jump feet-first into this community. Sure, my feet were sporting new shoes I bought just for Blissdom, but just because you look the part, doesn’t mean the tribe will accept you.  

Luckily this acclimation period was made a lot easier by friends I had on the inside. Julie made the cross-country journey with me, and I had Tanis, Rachel and Melanie on speed dial. No matter how confident, one must never step into a conference full of women bloggers without someone to vouch that you're a "friend of ours." It worked for Donnie Brasco, it works for BusyDad.

My first day was spent simply adjusting to the environment. Diving right into an estrogen fueled crowd has seriously scarred brave predecessors of mine. And like the bends, it can mess with your blood. By the late evening, however, I had taken a good dose of Jack Daniel's magic elixir and thus began my night of exploration. To my pleasant surprise, the crowd was very friendly. And I never once had to dig into my aresnal of secret ninja moves from the government.

But they did make me learn their ways. My mind was an empty vessel. I was thirsty for knowledge. And, as it turns out, not at all allergic to feathers.

(That's me bein' gangsta fabulous with Rachel. I posed this way because
when Secret Agent Mama asks you to pose for a picture, you don't say no.)

Here's one of me just having a great time with the natives. I don't remember when this was taken. I don't really remember taking it. The official reason on the post-mission brief is: the oxygen on that planet is too thin and I was lightheaded. Go with it.

(Mishi, Rachel, Melanie and me. Because everyone celebrates the unveiling of Google Buzz by getting...)

The next day, I was feeling a lot more comfortable in my new skin. Mostly because I got to do what I came to do: cook. The Tastemaker Challenge finals took place Friday night and it was everything you'd ever want in a cooking showdown. An array of ingredients, fanfare, drink tickets and my very own Team Jim cheerleading squad.


(Lotus, Tanis and Mishi. I had to beg them repeatedly not to kneecap the other contestants. Especially Tanis, who was weilding a bedazzled pimp cane all weekend. I still have welts.
Not pictured, Vodkamom... and my welts.)

 (My assignment was to use feta cheese in a potato salad. Note exasperation on face and 3rd vodka gimlet next to small bowl. Pic courtesy of Secret Agent Mama.)

When the dust settled, I was waist-deep in random chopped up items. I figured if my dish wasn't going to win, I would at least have fun with the fact that I didn't have to clean up my mess. Plus, I have this thing for blades.

Even though I didn't win, the victories went to two very deserving competitors: Jo Lynne won in the video category, racking up the most votes over the past three months, and Rachel won the evening's judging with this dish.

[insert more random stuff in here so that people don't realize that you don't remember much between that and the next picture.]

The next day can be summed up with one word: Karaoke

(Yeah. I know. Watch the video. Pic courtesy of Rachel.)

If you couldn't tell from this post, I had an amazing time mixing and mingling with the women of Blissdom. Admittedly, I was very apprehensive going into it. While I had been to Blogher before, there is a growing male contingent at that conference, so at least you have your school of fish to hide in if needed. This time, however, I was literally the only male on the registration list of 500. While I knew that my closer friends would be ok with this, I really wasn't sure how the others would take to my crashing the party. On the final evening, I shared this sentiment with a small group who had assembled in Blissdom founders Alli Worthington and Barbara Jones' suite.

"I wasn't sure if I'd be accepted here..." I muttered.

"We don't just accept you, we welcome you, Jim" Alli responded.

 This blue facepaint? I'm totally keeping it.