20 Questions Tuesday: 273 - Tom Merritt v2.0


On Thursday, December 5th of this year, previous 20 Questioneer and tech news enthusiast, Tom Merritt announced with grave sadness that his contract with the TWiT network was not being renewed and that on 1 January 2014 (today) he will no longer be an employee of TWiT.tv and done with the podcasts Tech News Today and Framerate (2 podcasts I listened to/ watched religiously).  Much sadness, gnashing of teeth, Internet grumbling and general consternation ensued.  I found my reaction to be surprisingly emotional and disproportionately strong, considering my actual interactions with Tom have been relatively few.  I found myself having difficulty sleeping and so I tweeted at him my condolences. He responded and asked if I was interested in asking him 20 more questions… so here we are.  Without further ado… Tom Merritt’s 20 Questions v2.0

Onto the Questions!

I was let go from a job of 9+ years back in 2009.  That company was a victim of the economic downturn, so me and another 10% of that company found ourselves boxing out stuff up and going home early one day.  About 9 months after that I got a completely different job at a large non-profit.  The non-profit job was clearly a bad fit and just didn’t work out.  Summarily I was canned from there rather quickly.  After each of these changes in employment my wife and I went and had celebratory dinners together.  These dinners were used to celebrate the release of the increasing tension associated with the obvious stress in both professional environments as well as the new possibilities for my future employment.  Question 1:  How did you and your wife mark this particular employment event?

Answer 1: On that Tuesday I found out and couldn’t tell anyone publicly I stayed up until she got home from work because she worked late that night , heh. Then there was the Thursday announcement and that fallout. Finally on the weekend, we found a nice place to have a cocktail and some delicious food. She has been unceasingly supportive and cheering me on to whatever comes next.

It is always nice when the support system really kicks in. I had the luck/misfortune of knowing that things were going to happen at some point in time at my previous employments.  It really was a double edged sword... while I knew I would not be completely surprised when the hammer dropped and I was let go, I was also living in a world of anxiety.  I had been absorbing the tension  in my environment and knew that at some time, any time, maybe even the next phone call, something was going to happen.  Question 2 Was there any indication that your contract was not going to be renewed or were you effectively blindsided by this?

Answer 2: It was unexpected right then. I really thought we were about to reach an agreement but they decided to terminate the contract which took me by surprise. Still, I knew it was always a possibility. I had heard Lisa offered my job to someone else in May and of course Leo had made it clear all along that he didn't like my having to move to LA and preferred to have his hosts in studio. So it wasn't a shock that they let me go, and I understood why. It was just surprising at the time how abruptly it happened.

I figured it was something similar to that, just from the tone of the announcement and people’s reactions to the news.  It truly is unfortunate because one of the things I really enjoyed about Tech News Today is how it embraced the changing business culture and demonstrated how a team could effectively work together without being geographically constrained to the same office.  It showed that telecommuting is a viable collaborative work environment.  That will be sorely missed when only the guest is non-local.  

Question 3:  Was there a difference between how you thought/hoped your personal support network, friends, co-workers, etc... would respond to your situation and how they actually did?  In what way, if any?

Answer 3: Somewhat? I mean I guess I hadn’t really thought about it but I had a core group of friends right beside me the whole way, texting calling and telling me things I needed to hear both good and bad. It was *extremely* helpful and I wouldn’t have handled it nearly as well without them. My co-workers were sweet too. In fact Jason, Sarah and Iyaz packaged up the show logo plaque that a fan in Hawaii had made for us and sent it to me. Plus a bunch of other little notes of support and facetime calls and such. Best of all was Eileen, my wife. Right there with solid support telling me not to worry and just keep on. She is the best ever in the world.

You seem like a very genuine person, at least the limited interactions I have had with you have been grounded and enjoyable, so it does not surprise me that your support system really, well… supported you.  Question 4: How about your fan-base?  Did you realize that you had a fan-base prior to this (because you clearly have a fan-base)? and how would you describe how this fanbase has reacted?

Answer 4: Yeah that blew me out of the water. I knew we had fans of the show and I love hanging out in the chat room and talking to folks. And back at Buzz Out Loud we had a great tight community of folks whom I still love. But I never was sure how many people were along for the ride with me because they were just TWiT fans in general, or NSFWShow fans or what. The response was overwhelming. They organized and began spreadsheets to help me keep track of everything and sold weird shirts with my face on them and all kinds of crazy stuff. I’ve always said we have the smartest audience in the world but they showed they were also the most supportive too. I am honestly not deserving of this audience. Too amazing.

There is something here to say about self-organizing systems, but that is the forte of my wife and her mates.  I have to say that I was surprised with the rapidity and vehemence of the organization.  I figured there would be moral support and a bunch of “Man, sorry that happens” kinds of messages, but the actual mobilization of a network supporting you and just getting shit done is pretty amazing.  That is something I have never seen, and I have to say, I did not expect to be a part in.  I am a proud owner of a Merritt Militia shirt and am awaiting my Current Geek perks.  Having a fan-base must be both humbling and wonderful.    

Now, enough of the dour past and how that chapter of your work life has finished, let’s get into more enjoyable topics of what you are doing and what you will be doing in the near future.  You have announced a few items that you will be generating as you ramp up your independent productions.  But before we get into what will be new in this year of 2014, Question 5: What from your previous undertakings are still continuing?  Many people know you from your TWiT properties, but that is not all that you have been producing.

Answer 5: Sword and Laser is the science fiction and fantasy book club I do with Veronica Belmont. We have an amazing community at Goodreads, an audio podcast and a recently-funded second season of video! I also hope to continue writing the comic TenState with Len Peralta. We kickstarted the first 5 issues and have them for sale *finally*. I also have a few seasonal podcasts which means we only do 12 episodes at a time and usually one or two seasons a year. Those are all continuing, including Autopilot, a show about TV pilots, FSL Tonight, which is an imaginary fantasy sports league populated with teams from the great scifi and fantasy franchises. And It’s A Thing which is a trend commentary show I do with Molly Wood. Finally East Meets West which is my recreational podcast I’ve been doing with Roger Chang since 2005 will continue in its sporadic fashion. I also do a guest spot Wednesdays on The Morning Stream where I used to promote my daily tech news show and probably will again. I also appear on KFWB radio in LA every Monday morning as well. That’s all the stuff I had pre-existing that I’ll keep doing.

So, you have all these different properties that you are associated with and you have books that people can buy on your website tommerrittbooks.com.  You have audio podcasts, video podcasts, print media, you are on the radio… Question 6: What aspect of media have you not done (interpretive dance?) and is there a type of creative product you want to focus on or enjoy more?

Answer 6: I have not now, nor will I ever inflict interpretive dance on the world. That is a comment on my own dance skills, not on the form. I quite like a good interpretive dance when done well. I really enjoy writing fiction these days. I don’t seem to be able to stop. I woke up this morning and wrote the beginning of a story. I’m not certain I’ll ever be any good at it, mind you, but I do love to do it right now.

I have never found interpretive dance to be very good… if it is just dance in a broader narrative it makes sense to me, but just interpretive dance does not work work for me… much to my wife’s chagrin.  I have a copy of “Lot Beta” on my Kindle app right now, but due to my class readings, I have not been able to get into it just yet.  One of these days I will finish the book I started a handful of NaNoWriMo’s ago.  Lot Beta is in the chamber as soon as I am done with DogBoy: Den of Thieves by the delightful Bill Meeks.

I have a love of the words “whilst” and “ergo” (as well as some others) and have been trying to reintroduce those somewhat archaic words into everyday vernacular.  You are clearly a lover of words and quite capable of stringing together wonderful sentences in both the spoken and written word.  Question 7: Is there a word that you want to reintroduce and bring back to popularity? Could you use it in a sentence?

Answer 7: Luncheon. Lunch is a verb. The proper usage of luncheon is for the event we attend whilst we eat. Ergo, I would like people to say I lunched on sandwiches but say I went to luncheon. This is a sad and pathetic dream that will never occur and likely serve only to annoy people if pressed. But it is my dream.

That is honestly something I did not know.  I always thought of “luncheon” as a specific kind of lunch event, usually in a larger room and with a speaker droning on about a topic no one there is truly holds any interest.  The speaker's name is usually Carl or something like that and the topic is usually some new data collection method… at least that is how I see it.

You clearly enjoy the history of tech…. You had a mini-podcast called Tech History Today where you outlined significant tech history news everyday for a whole year.  You are producing tech history books monthly illustrated by Scott Johnson (Scott was also 20 Questions Tuesday: 219)  Basically you are generating multiple methods for people to consume tech history.  Question 8: Is there anything specific within tech history that you gravitate to more than other aspects of tech history, or is it the whole of tech history for which you find yourself fascinated?

Answer 8: I’ve always loved history. I love to discover how people did things in the past, how they changed and didn’t changed in the future and how our world came to be as it is today. I also have always been a sucker for anniversaries. I always had those “Today in history” books when I was a kid. And I obviously am very interested in technology. So this is just me combining all that into one happy package. It started with me helping Molly Wood research her tech history show on CNET way back in 2009. Then I kept doing it for my own fun. Then I did the podcast you mentioned for about three months, but they couldn’t figure out how to sell it effectively and it was a lot more work than it looks to gather all the video and stuff so I retired it. But I decided to turn it into a blog post and then that made me want to make a book and then the rest has just cascaded out from there.

Question 9: So where do you consider the beginnings of “tech” history to be?  Is it the advent of the modern transistor, is it the creation of the Gutenberg press, is it the creation of the astrolabe by the Greeks a long long time ago?  Where does “tech” start for your consideration in the historical context?

Answer 9: Fair question and one I don’t have a definitive answer for. I kind of center my attention around computers and the 1950s. Anything that sprang from that obviously is fair game for the chronology. For prior stuff, anything that was essential goes in, like the development of electricity, audio recording, video recording, anything that was necessary to have the things we all love to mess with today. The grammophone is the ancestor of the iPod. Then there’s also the stuff that’s just geeky or fed our technological mythos, like the Library at Alexandria which is sort of the ancient idea of universally accessible information. But to answer your question, “tech” starts March 30, 240 BCE with the first recorded observation of Halley’s comet. Astronomy bloggers FTW!

Heh, I have never thought of ancient texts as the equivalent of blogging… this changes the whole idea of what I am doing right now…  The idea of this being an artifact as a legacy of this century is a little chilling.  Chilling indeed.  Scares me a bit.  Hellooooo archeologists, how’s things?

Question 10: You have a bajillion podcasts, write books, do a radio show, etc… what do you do with down-time? Do you have down time or are you addicted to the workahol? Does the amazingly prolific Tom Merritt have any hobbies?

Answer 10: I try to turn my hobbies into my work so the line is all blended. Reading tech news, watching TV shows, all that stuff is now part of my work and it’s still fun. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately though which is only tangentially related to my work in that it keeps me alive. I was inspired by reading Darya Rose’s “The Foodist” to start eating better. It was rough the first couple of weeks but I’m getting good enough that even Eileen says I’m good, and she’s picky. I try to make three meals at home every week and all my lunches at home unless I have an appointment. It has the beneficial side effect of saving money. I’m going to sound like a freaking hippie but I’ve been making a lot of Kale salads that rock. But I also do pork chops, steak and chicken ok. OK?!?!? And sometimes Quinoa.  BUT ALSO BEEF! AND STEAK! WITH DRY RUB. sheesh.

I find that kale has a hard time getting rid of the dirt taste.  I have used it in some juices and such, but I have never had it in a solid form that was palatable.  I do most of the cooking at home but I cannot bake to save my life… well maybe to save my life, but I am much less inclined to bake now that I have gone all gluten free and such.  Gluten free sucks, by the way.  I miss donuts more than any other baked good (well, other than crusty breads meant for sandwiches), the other gluten free stuff works pretty well, but I have not found a bread that works well just yet.

Question 11:  So will there be a tech of cooking show coming up or is the cooking going to stay more of a private thing?

Answer 11: Well never say never but right now I have no intention of doing a cooking show. Just for me and the wife. Though I will say massaging the kale in a lime and miso dressing softens up and almost eliminates any dirt taste. (Kale Radicchio Superhero Salad with Farro)  I also like it pan-roasted with pecans. My god!  What have I become!

You’ve changed, man.  You’ve changed. I don’t even know who you are anymore. Kale, lime and miso, pan-roasted pecans…  Oddly enough this is the second 20 questions interview that I am doing currently that has brought up pecans… Growing up, we had two pecan trees in our back yard.  I am still pretty tired of pecans.  Yep, even now.  I do love cashews though…  not sure I would want some cashew production plant in my backyard.  Mainly because cashew trees are weird.  

Ah, Question 12: Top dozen podcasts, in your opinion…. and go.

Answer 12: NO!  I will not fall into that quagmire. You trickster god with your seemingly innocent question. That way lies peril. WITH the caveat that I don’t listen to VERY FINE podcasts because Veronica makes me read too many books, here are the podcasts on my subscription list. WARNING: These do not constitute a list of Tom’s favorite podcasts nor should be taken in any way as a ranking of value. OK. In alphabetical order: The Angry Chicken: A Hearthstone Podcast, Common Sense with Dan Carlin, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Do We Need This?, The Economist All Audio, The Instance: World of Warcraft Podcast, Jawbone Radio, NASACast: This Week @NASA, The Shakespeare Sound, Tangential Convergence.

Fine, question dodger, just go ahead and dodge the question, like, like, like a question dodger…  When I posed this question in a slightly different format last 20 Questions, you only mentioned 3 podcasts that you regularly consumed.  This time, 10 podcasts in alphabetical order… slowly I will get a ranked list out of you.  I feel that I am wearing you down, eroding your podcast ranking defenses.  I am surprised you did not just list 12 of your current and past podcasts and just be smugly self-referential… that’s what I would have done… except I have no podcasts and only this one blog… this one lonely blog.  All of that being said, I will take on the mantle of the trickster god.  I am Coyote, I am Loki, I am Lugh, I am Mercury ascendent, I am not Anansi… spiders creep me out.  /shudder…

Question 13 is usually all about superstitions and rituals, but we covered that in our previous 20 Questions foray.  So today we will make this question all about the year that was.  We will put 2013 to rest with Question 13.  Question 13: What is the best thing that happened to you this past year? and to what do you want to say goodbye (and/or good riddance)?

Daft Loki

Daft Loki

Answer 13: I’m up all night to get Loki. Best thing that happened to me this year was getting to spend the summer with my nephew. He interned with me and we got to hang out and drink beer and go to the beach and generally have a fantastic time. I would like to say goodbye to dramatic life changes. Moving cities. Major job changes. Family deaths. All of that and other stuff piled itself into 2013 and I’d like to be mostly clear of that when I leave 2014. So goodbye and good riddance to 2013.

2013 was, all in all, a perfectly respectable year for me.  I am now two semesters closer to my degree in User Experience Design.  My job is still full-time employment with pretty good benefits.  The kids both made it another year, and my wife's work continues to grow and thrive.  This was our first full year of living in our house, and the old house now only inhabits my memories when I  stop and think about it.   It was a pretty good year.  There was nothing especially groundbreaking that happened either positive or negative… which means it was a pretty great year.  There is nothing I can honestly say goodbye or good riddance to from 2013.  The more I think about that, the better I feel about 2013.  

So… 2014 is nothing if not filled with potential.  I have good feelings associated with this upcoming year, and, honestly, it is time to start looking forward in these 20 Questions.  We have looked back enough.  Question 14:  What are you getting ready to say “hello” to for 2014?

Answer 14: Independence. Frightening, unexpected, independence. On a less heady note, I’m looking forward to making four fantastic shows. Sword and Laser’s second video season kicks off this year thanks to generous Kickstarter support. I can’t wait to head back to the space castle and chat with more amazing science fiction and fantasy authors. Cordkillers is already underway and Brian (Brian Brushwood, 20 Questions Tuesday : 210) and I are enjoying its regeneration. My Daily Tech News Show is only going to get better as well. And Current Geek with Scott Johnson may have the most potential to surprise and delight people of any show I’ve ever done. That and my casual efforts to write interesting fiction are all plenty to keep me really interested in 2014! I welcome my new year.

I too am looking forward to your 2014.  I truly do think of this as a year for you to creatively thrive.  The rest of these 20 questions are going to focus on the future, so for all you readers out there in the Internet who don’t like the future, I suggest you put down your printed out copy of this blog post and stop reading now.  Question 15:  Since Current Geek will be posting in a matter of days, if not hours, can you give a hint at the awesomeness that you and Scott have in store for the rest of us?  Or are you just going to tease us for 2 more days?

Answer 15: Yes of course. Although I really have no idea what we’ll end up doing, I’ll tell you the aim. Scott Johnson has created a pretty amazing association of kind, talented and entertaining people covering all aspects of things geeks like. From comic books to tv shows, to movies to tech to all the things, you can find a Frogpants show with good people having interesting conversations about it. So Current Geek will gather together people from that group each week along with special guests to talk about the interesting things happening that week. It should be really fun, at least for us, and hopefully the audience gets something out of it too.

That sounds pretty darn amazing.  One of the things that I am looking forward to with Current Geek is the lack of constraints that you will have this time around. You did seem pretty hamstrung in the previous version due to your non-compete clause with CNET. Iffens I remember correctly, by the time you did not have that non-compete, Current Geek had been relegated to a segment for Scott’s The Morning Stream, and it was clear that it was withering a bit on the vine.  I think it is an interesting and exciting concept to see Current Geek being a potential hub tying together all the spokes on the Frogpants Network. At least that is how I am viewing it, and you cannot tell me otherwise.  

Now I am going to go old skool Fourcast on you for this next question in regards to this new chapter in your professional life.  Question 16: A: What is a short term, B: medium term, C: long term and D: crazy-ass prediction for your professional career post 2013?

Answer 16: Yes you remember correctly and I think you’re viewing Current Geek right. And Current Geek will have a little Fourcast in it! A: This year I’m going to have a lot of fun. It’s scary, because nothing is guaranteed but it’s amazing for that same reason. By the end of this year I hope to have figured out a main direction. B: In the medium term I want to get in a rhythm of what things work for me and what don’t and be able to do fewer things but do them a lot better. I also want to write. Not because I think I’m any good at it, but because I love coming up with stories. C: Eileen and I retire to Hawaii/NewZealand/Island somewhere and continue to make amazing independent things that support our geritol. D: Crazy ass prediction. All this independent stuff that you and Scott and Brian and Dan Benjamin and everyone else are making becomes the dominant way of making most things from real products to entertainment and beyond.

I love that your long term is not your crazy-ass prediction.  Many people would not consider retiring to an Island paradise as merely “long term” when “crazy ass” is an option for the prediction.  I would bet that your short term and medium happen in a time-frame you were not expecting.  I also think your crazy ass prediction seems to be more and more reasonable.  There are some ideas I have had with this blog to change it up and kick it up to a different level of multi-media. I have toyed with the idea of making this a podcast, with my wife and myself.  She would play the part of asking the questions and I would take the time to obtusely answer them.  Then, when I could, I would create an interview with interesting folk, such as yourself.  I think this is an idea for when I am not also in full-time classes for this UXD program.  It is a medium term goal to be sure.

So we are rounding the corner on these 20 Questions.  Question 17: is there a question that I have not asked you that your are surprised that I haven’t, or feel that I should have?

Answer 17: Nope.

MWahahahahahaha. I kid. Although in all honesty I always have a hard time with this. You know, like in the interview for a job and they say, “what questions do you have for us?” and you cast about and can’t think of anything. I guess you could ask me “How were you able to marry such an amazing person like Eileen?” but then I would say “I don’t know, she must be insane but I’m glad she did,” or something sappy like that.

Marrying up is the way to go.  I did it for sure.  The wife (20 Questions Tuesday: 262) was actually patient enough to do one of these 20 Questions as well.  I. Clearly. Married. Up. No one doubts that.

Question 18: With your new Daily Tech News Show, who is a dream guest outside your normal cadre of dream guests (you have so many great friends and delightful colleagues)?  Who is your elusive white whale of a tech news podcast guest?... and do you have aims at landing that whale?

Answer 18: Well now I feel odd answering because you’ve cornered me into unavoidably comparing my dream guest to a whale. So very carefully, and pointedly NOT comparing these people to a whale, these are folks I’d love to interview. Jeff Bezos to chat about his unique take on what’s important in a tech business. Linus Torvalds, to get his perspective 30 years on about what open source means. Same for Tim Berners-Lee about the semantic Web. Tony Hsieh to talk about HIS perspective on what’s important in business compared to his boss Jeff. Marissa Mayer on how she has formed her guiding principles for Yahoo. Ian McKellan, because Ian McKellan. David Tennant because he just sounds like a fun chap to talk too.

Ooooh, all of those are great.  I would also love to corner any one of those “whales” and ask them 20 odd questions.  I think comedically I would love to get Jimmy Pardo, Patton Oswalt, and John Hodgman to answer 20 Questions.  There are so many actors I would love to get… weirdly, Emma Thompson, is near the top of that list… but there are so many others… I got whales to the left of me, and whales to the right…

Anyway, now is the time on this blog where I let the tables be turned.  Question 19: Do you have any question you would like me to answer?  You have been crazy candid with your answers and I will strive to do no less.

Answer 19 that is actually a question: What is the one thing (or three) you think you need help with to make your projects really work the way you want to? I don’t just mean time, or money, either. Our community of creative types has proven themselves willing and more than able to help each other out. All of the Internet is listening. What do ya need buddy?

I honestly can say that this question caught me off-guard.  It is most certainly not an unwelcome question, but definitely an unexpected one.  To be able to answer it fairly, I first had to sit down and contemplate what it is that I actually wanted.  I need to know the direction and desire before I can consider the obstacles involved.  After much deliberation I decided to just focus on what I would like to do to make 20 Questions Tuesday a thing.  It may be a bit of a cop-out, but I have no idea what I want to do professionally and feel it would be wise to be further along in the UXD program before thinking about professional goals.  Plus, my job is the one with benefits, and until there is a single payer system in the US, I will need to be gainfully employed with benes. So, for the time being, let’s simply consider making this a thing.   

I have been doing 20 Questions in some way shape or form since August of 05. Holy Crap!  That is a long time.  Other than the aforementioned time and money (of those 2, time is the more salient issue… not that my fam is proverbially “rolling in it,” but we are doing okay) the hurdles are mostly very typical… I need to...

  • get a url (Done)
  • find hosting and have a plug and play template (ie squarespace) (Done)

  • consolidate my content from the blogger days and the more current tumblr run onto the new platform (Done)

  • get an audience

  • switch up with a monthly podcast where the Wife reads the questions and I obtusely answer them...as my classload subsides, maybe ramp this up a bit

Of all these, the finding an audience is the most daunting of the tasks.  I think some of this is due to the relative randomness of the content.  One week I have an interview.  Some of the interviews are of relatively well-known people.  I got Clark Gregg (20 Questions Tuesday: 202) of Agent Coulson fame to do 10 Questions and then asked comic book artists 10 questions about the character Agent Coulson.  That one was super popular.  I have done a sizeable number of comic book artists.  Primarily they were young up-and-comers and now are drawing marquee books and becoming fan favorites.  I have done a handful of stand-up comedians.  Some of those 20 questions have been absolutely stunningly wonderful, because comedians typically have a depth that most people don’t see.  I have done a goodly number of Internet personalities that seem to have orbited around the TWiT network either as hosts or as guests. Coupled with these I have also done local people I know and find interesting from my Wife to a local mommy blogger nutritionist to the local Baklava Fairy (20 Questions Tuesday: 260 - Ann Marie McCallister).  In-between these interviews I ask friends, colleagues and some people I only know on the Internet for 20 questions for me to answer obtusely.  I give this bevy of questioneers a loose topic and they collectively send me 20 questions.  Last week’s 20 Questions about Christmas was one of them.  

Many action items I will be taking care of soon after I post this.  I will have a url and a squarespace site, and slowly building the site for public consumption. The piece that I have no idea about is the gaining an audience.  The technical aspects of creating a podcast and getting that feed going are also a bit daunting.  At one time I was acutely technically savvy, but 1995 was a looong time ago, and I need mentoring along that process.  Technical support mentoring as well as moral support.  So… of the list I have presented, the two obstacles that I need some motion and help with is the audience building as well as the technical aspects of adding a podcast to the mix.

Enough about me…

Question 20:  What are you taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you?

Answer 20: Calm. As you probably noticed I had to rewrite those first few answers a few times to make sure I meant what I said. It’s hard to keep your answers straight sometimes when you’re emotional. 19 questions later and I’m relaxed. I feel hopeful about 2014. Nothing is certain but at least I know what direction I’m headed and like you, have had to do a lot of thinking about what things I want. Now it’s a matter of doing them. Thanks for helping me out in that thinking process Scott.

You know, it’s easy to have convictions when they’re never tested. A lot of virtuous people both famous and not, get by on that one fact. I’m not saying they’re not good folks, just that circumstance can make it easy to be one way or another. When you’re thrown out of your comfort zone, you find out what things you really believe and what things you’ve really learned. Losing my job in December is far from the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but it was not easy and it was not fun. I’ve been lucky enough to be supported by amazing friends and an insanely awesome audience. I keep reminding myself not to forget how lucky I am to have that and never to take it for granted.

I’m a kid from a town of 5,000 who’s Mom wouldn’t let him ride his bike more than one block away. A trip to downtown Greenville was a big deal for me. A trip to downtown St. Louis seemed the pinnacle of existence. That certainly has changed for me, partly, maybe mostly because of the Internet. The Internet has opened the entire world to lots of kids like I was and I want that to continue to be a net positive. (Pun! Sorry) We’re all in this together. Let’s go make something great!

On my blog, you never have to apologize for a pun.  Speaking of making something great… Where can people find what you are doing now, and how can they consume what you are producing? (an unofficial Question 21)?

Answer 21: Well the easiest way to find everything is tommerritt.com. I collect all the linky things there in a page called ‘subscribe to stuff’. There’s even a link where you can subscribe to all the stuff in one go, if that’s your preference. I also chatter a lot on Twitter @acedtect and Google +. I have a fan page on Facebook but I’m embarrassingly absent from it.

Everyone should follow what this man is creating.  He is a voice of reason in a sea of chaos when it comes to the things that could be labeled tech and/or geekery.  But you should also follow what he does because of more than just his professional capabilities.  Tom is a nice man, and I do not say this lightly or flippantly.  He is genuine and all of my interactions with him have been just delightful.  He is witty, enjoys both good and bad puns (probably bad ones more than good), knows when to be silly, and brings out the best with whomever he is working.  I know this personally because in the two times that I have interviewed him, he has made me better.  He continues to do so through example and through my hopeful continued interaction with him.  I often say that my interview “was a delight” and sometimes to say “delight” is stretching it just a bit.  With Tom I can easily and without reservation say that this interview was a delight.


To Recap:

Tom Merritt = Awesome

A new year is upon us

“Let’s go make something great” is a great mantra for a new year

The kids really need to get back into school

They are running around like caged monkeys in the house

Thursday they go back to school… that will be good

We had a delightful Christmas

And it is a new year full of promise and opportunity

Tom Merritt made me get 20QuestionsTuesday.com

Made me…

With his forcefulness

The site will become more visual as the weeks progress

Check back early and often

Happy 2014

Have a great year, everyone!