Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

Hi, I'm Blake.

I run this joint. Don’t know where to start? Let me show you around:

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal

Published works: Airport tips, Disney cruises, Nevada road trip, not-so exotic vacations, and online security

Photo credit: Lindsey Snow

Photo credit: Lindsey Snow

Here’s where my travel column went last month:

Here’s what I wrote for Cisco.com recently:

Notable tech: 5 gadgets that rocked this year

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I’m by no means an expert on technology. But I’ve covered the industry long enough (since the mid ‘80s to be exact) to know that very few innovations really matter. The vast majority of mainstream releases are merely novel diversions that fail to fundamentally change our lives, let alone improve them.

They are the opposite of personal computers, the web/email combo, GPS directions, social media, high definition, touchscreen phones that double as cameras, YouTube, and increasingly voice search. Over the last thirty years, those are the real innovative heavyweights.

Although nothing released this year approaches that status—uneven virtual reality very much included—they are several gizmos released this year that excited and even enhanced my life on a near daily basis.

They are as follows:  Continue reading…

The Struts: Sober performances and the return of stage presence

courtesy photo

courtesy photo

“Who does this guy thinks he is?”

I asked myself that upon seeing Luke Spiller perform with The Struts for the first time. He had just finished ripping through the opening four songs of their recent set in Salt Lake City. Two singles. Two of his debut album’s most anthemic tracks. No stops or pauses in between songs. All in the first 15 minutes of a performance that would eventually double the running time of their only album plus one new song.

But unlike a punk act that similarly keeps the punches rolling, Spiller was wholly uninhibited on stage. He wore glittered capes and spandex. Shimmied his shoulders like Freddie Mercury. Calculated dramatic toe steps and emphatic kicks in every direction. Choreographed his carefully rehearsed movements to the music.

While observing all of this, I couldn’t decide if Spiller wanted to imitate Michael Jackson, Robert Plant, Prince, or Mick Jagger. On top of that, the size of his mouth suggests his mother may have slept with Steven Tyler during the British leg of Aerosmith’s Pump tour.

In a later interview after the show, he brushed off a facetious question about his outrageous showmanship. “That’s just what I am,” he told me. “It’s just what I enjoy.”

For lovers of live performances that make you forget the troubles at home, Spiller’s dramatic charisma is all for your gain.  Continue reading…

Things I enjoy doing as a tall man

Courtesy Pixar

Courtesy Pixar

I’m not quite 6 feet 2 inches tall. But I laughed out loud at some of the things a 6′ 6″ man can do, as written by Jaime Barth:

  • I like standing awkwardly close to people, so they have no choice but to either look up at me, or stare directly at my chest, because that’s where most people’s height brings them.
  • Elevators are my favorite, because there’s an entire little room of people who can’t help but notice that I tower over them.
  • Over-exaggerating the fact that I have to duck to get on the subway. I make a show of it.
  • Holding the door open for people in such a way that they have to walk under my arm, like a child. (so good)
  • Complaining about stores with low-hanging signs that I bump my head on.
  • Running my finger on the top shelves at supermarkets and pointing out all of the dust.
  • Reaching all the way to the back of a display for something at a store.
  • Holding up my hand for a “high five” and watching my students struggle to hit it.

#messingwithshortpeople

What do 50 year-olds know that 20 year-olds often don’t?

creative commons

creative commons

Craig Weiler has the answer:

You have one set of teeth, one set of knees, one set of lungs and one back. If you don’t take care of them, you can’t re-boot. You can get knee replacement surgery and you can get your teeth capped and wear dentures, or get new lungs, but it’s not the same as your originals. The back is much more tricky and if you damage it enough you’re never coming back from it.

You have one set of hands and feet. They are irreplaceable as is your brain. So if you damage them you’re never coming back from it.

Your body, in other words, is a one-off. You will never have another one as long as you live. If you start taking good care of it and you’re mindful in your 20’s, you’ll be far healthier and happier in your 50’s and beyond.”

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How to have better conversations by asking better questions

starwars

I whole heartily agree with Confucius when he said, “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

Because of this, I’m always asking new questions of everyone I encounter in an effort to learn from them. Long-time family and friends. Acquaintances. Complete strangers. Everybody!

When it comes to getting better answers (i.e. more lively conversations), there are few better ice-breaker questions than these:

  1. What do you like to do? (more fun than the default and boring “What do you do for work?”)
  2. What is it like to live there? (asked as as a follow up to “Where are you from?”)
  3. What are your favorite websites, hobbies, and topics? What cheers you up?

To adopt for people you now, just add “now” to the above and voila! Instant learning. When you feel ready, you can really dig deep with, “What are your guiding beliefs?”

Hat tip, Ahmed Arshad

Best songs I heard driving “The loneliest road in America”

My family and I recently returned from a weeklong road trip along U.S. Route 50 through Nevada. Famously dubbed “the loneliest road in America” by an unnamed AAA agent, the highway is as beautiful as it is devoid of life.

My column on the experience will publish next week. But one of the highlights was undoubtedly listening to rural country radio through much of it. And by rural I mean no more than four FM stations at any time; two of which were gospel, one talk radio, and one country.

Because our rental car’s auxiliary music jack didn’t work, these are the best songs we listened to while cruising through the beautiful Great Basin of Nevada:  Continue reading…

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Good question: When is being politically correct wrong?

heroesstampJoe Devney convincingly answers, “There is a famous photo from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Three firefighters are raising an American flag over the rubble of the towers. The photo was even made into a U.S. postage stamp.

“I remember reading about someone who found a problem with the picture. All three firefighters were white. This person said the photo should be restaged. There should be a white firefighter, a black firefighter, and a Hispanic firefighter raising the flag. That is, change a record of history, falsify the event, because what actually happened is not what you wish had happened to give the correct unrelated cultural message.

“This person’s priorities were wrong. Three Americans had taken it upon themselves to make a statement by hoisting their flag at the scene of an attack on their country. And someone thought that two of them should be erased from the event and replaced by people who weren’t there.”

Winning at life after leaving the rat race

noelle-hancock

“Writing an essay that started with a chicken in my shower turned out to be the most meaningful accomplishment of my life,” says Noelle Hancock. “It’s unfathomable and humbling, having strangers say you inspired them to leave a job, relationship, or place they weren’t happy in—even when others told them it was a terrible idea.”

Five years ago, Hancock left a $95,000 job and the capital of the world to scoop ice cream on the U.S. Virgin Island of Saint John. Why? She didn’t like her increasingly wired and phone-driven life in New York. Four quiet years later, an old friend asked her to state her reasonings in a story for Cosmopolitan. The story blew up.  Continue reading…

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7 things I learned in Costa Rica last week

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I’m writing this at 30,000 feet just off the pacific coast of Nicaragua. Twenty minutes ago I left San Jose, Costa Rica on a Delta flight bound for Salt Lake City via Los Angeles.

I was in Costa Rica this week as a guest of the tourism department. They want me to write about all the reputable adventure here in my travel column for Paste Magazine. Thanks to the renowned canyoneering, rappelling, cliff jumping, rain forrest-ing, mountain biking, waterfalls, surfing, zip lining, Tarzan swinging, river rafting, and exotic fauna and wildlife—all within close proximity, mind you—I gladly will.

But as usual, encounters with new (and familiar) humans while here had the greatest impact on me. Here’s what I really learned from Costa Rica:  Continue reading…

Published works: Skydiving, Australia, computers killing writers, and battery tech

front

Here’s where my byline published last month:

The Network (aka Cisco magazine)

Paste Magazine

The IRS considers these two my oldest and youngest dependents.

But oh! How I depend on them, including the ones not pictured.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life,” says Richard Bach. “A happy family is but an earlier heaven,” adds George Bernard Shaw.

I’m grateful for mine.

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MAP: Where in the world have I been?

courtesy traveltip.org

To date, I feel lucky to have visited 11 countries on five continents: United States (home), Canada, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Brazil, France, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Each have touched me in a unique way. And yet I’ve only scratched the surface—just 5% of the world’s 195 countries.

Furthermore, the above map is grossly skewed. I’ve only visited two thirds of America instead of the whole she-bang (and much of that was only sections of larger states). I’ve yet to visit mainland Mexico or Canada—just Cozumel and Newfoundland (what a place!). I’ve never visited massive Asia, Eastern Europe, and 90% of the rest of Africa. And I’ve visited just one giant state (New South Wales) of the USA-sized Australia.

Granted, I have no intention of visiting every country or plot of land in the world. It doesn’t take that many to realize we’re all largely the same and that we live on the most beautiful rock in the observable universe. Plus, I still have a lot I want to do in my own backyard, not to mention repeat trips abroad (i.e. New Zealand take two).

But I do hope to visit all seven continents someday, if not next year. Not only does distance makes the heart grow fonder, but a change in geography is good at keeping us on our toes.

Love you, Earth!

PS—Airplanes are amazing and travel is overrated for the following reasons.

My approach to selling all boils down to this:

Courtesy New Line Cinema

Courtesy New Line Cinema

“Hi, human. I sell this thing (in my case writing) for a living because I believe in it. It’s benefited myself and others you may know. Are you the right person to pitch? If no, do you know someone who is? If yes, is now a good time?”

I’ve been writing full time for 10 years now. Much of that time, if not half of the time, is spent asking people if I can write for them. In that sense, I’m either a writer who knows how to sell, or a seller who knows how to write.

Either way, I’ve followed the above pitch for the last decade. I don’t know if it’s the best sales approach, but it’s worked alright for me, and it’s one I feel is the most respectful.

Know a better way?