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What are 5 interesting things about you?

One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about blogging was learning more about fellow bloggers.

So I thought this might be a fun exercise for anyone who wants to participate. I’ll link to everyone’s post here (use the form below to alert me to your post).

No rules, just 5(ish) vignettes about something interesting or unusual or noteworthy about you or your life so far. Short or long, it doesn’t matter, whatever you like. If you’ve already blogged about something you want to include, just include the link in your post. Don’t overthink it, just pick a few things and write about them, then send me the link.

5 Interesting Things participants

  • (your name and post link here)
  • Eugene Glover
  • Me – posted below, just scroll down some more

Five Interesting Things about me

Whew boy, I made some of these long enough to be their own standalone blog posts! Oh well, they’ll live here for now. I’ve added some anchor links to make it easier to jump ahead if you’d prefer.

Coding my first “real” website

Back in college, I learned that one of my friends was running for city council. She didn’t have a website, and I thought she really should. So I stayed up late for a few nights and learned some rudimentary html + css and made her one.

It wasn’t great, but it was serviceable and certainly better than nothing. I helped her get her stuff online and served as her “webmaster” (remember those?) for her first several campaigns before she finally hired a professional. She continued on to became a (rather infamous) US Senator.

I registered for the wrong college course and it changed my life

I abandoned my anticipated career path after my first year in college, so I decided to take a semester or two off to find a new path. Of course, I didn’t realize that I needed to be a half-time student to keep my medical and car insurance under my parents’ plan, which was the only way I could afford them.

I discovered this with about an hour to spare on the last day of late registration, so I raced over to the local community college and scrambled through its schedule of classes (available on newsprint!). I didn’t have time to research which courses would be useful, and they didn’t have any course catalogs for me to look through. So I had to just squint at the table of small print and choose two classes that had no prerequisites, whose title sounded somewhat interesting, and fit the time windows I had available. Finding the right time was far more important than finding the right class, as my then-girlfriend and I lived in an apartment off campus, shared one car, both worked across town, and would now be going to different schools.

I found a political science class that seemed to fit the bill. It was a three credit class that only met for one single hour on Thursday nights. Jackpot! I had no idea what the course was, though, as the title was just some weird abbreviation, something like “SRCLNG.” I called the automated student registration system and dialed in my choices, crossing my fingers that it was still available. It was.

The following week, I got a call from the “professor,” explaining to me that I had actually registered for an internship (they called it “Service Learning”) and asking how I had unwittingly done that without having any polisci credits. I talked him into letting me do it in spite of the error.

I looked through his list of local organizations that were open to interns and arranged an interview with one of them. After some initial conversation, a photocopied law review article was pushed rather dramatically across the table towards me and I was asked, “Scott, do you want to help me change the Arizona Constitution?”

It was, obviously, a surreal moment that felt torn from a movie, and certainly a memorable question to ask an 18-year old wannabe community college intern who hadn’t even taken an intro to polisci class yet. I mean, I was half expecting to make photocopies of things like this, not actually be involved in them.

So I helped him and his organization, which was collaborating with a number of other advocacy groups, political leaders, and other movers-and-shakers, to author a ballot initiative that would change the Arizona Constitution by creating an Independent Redistricting Commission, removing from the legislature the ability to gerrymander their own district boundaries.

Now, it’s not like I was making major decisions in this coalition, but I was known by name to all and I got what I considered extraordinary access to the entire process, all the meetings, some of the juicy backroom gossip, and so forth. I learned so, so much; it was incredible. There was even one change I was able to make in the draft text that survived to the final version. Admittedly, it was a typo that would have been caught or mentioned by someone else, but it’s still a fun tidbit.

I first extended, then re-enrolled in the internship once or twice again, and was eventually hired by the campaign to assist the campaign manager as we worked to collect signatures to get it on the ballot, and then to get it passed by the voters. It passed 56-43 in 2000, and was later upheld by the US Supreme Court in two separate decisions. It remains the law today.

Obviously, working on a successful effort like that really adds to your sense of efficacy. It was sorta hard to take classwork seriously after having just made a difference “in the real world.” And as an idealistic college student who wanted to make the world better, it definitely fueled the direction I took from there. With all the connections I had made in the political advocacy arena, I naturally got involved in countless other efforts, organizations, and such and eventually leading to my career in public lands conservation. No class has had a bigger impact on me than that fateful internship “mistake.”

I was sober until my 30s. Then I started drinking.

I wasn’t at all happy with my dad’s drinking during my childhood, so I vowed to remain sober. I’m generally immune to peer pressure, so it was something I didn’t have trouble sticking with, even in high school and college and into my 20s. Of course, I was left out of a lot of the fun, but since I was already living with my then-girlfriend (who had also decided not to drink for similar reasons), we got along fine together as the non-drinkers and non-partiers. We always had each other, even if others looked at us with distrust or disdain.

We divorced in my early thirties, and I suddenly found myself dating someone who drank. It was pretty jarring, initially; I had unexpected feelings of resentment and social infidelity. It felt gross.

I realized that I had let my dad’s relationship with alcohol define my own. So I decided that I should approach alcohol on my own terms, not his. After experimenting for a bit, I finally landed on craft beer (luckily, I completely missed a cheap crap beer phase). It opened an entirely new scene for me, which was well timed in my life. You absolutely do not need alcohol to have fun, but I reluctantly admitted to myself that it does act a social lubricant that can be useful, especially in group settings.

So why did I choose craft beer, specifically? Well, it was an intentional choice. While I’ll (very occasionally) drink wine and cocktails, I wanted to limit my alcohol consumption to one primary “type” (which comports with my personal One Vice Rule).

Craft beer is, well, crafted—love went into the process in a way it doesn’t with mass beer. It’s tastier, more complex, offers much more variety in styles, is generally “higher” quality, and often reflects values I appreciate, such as localism and inclusion. Craft beer aficionados generally drink craft beer because they like all these things about it, not because they’re just trying to get drunk—a key difference, which is readily apparent when you compare craft breweries with neighborhood dive bars. And because of all this, it’s also more expensive than cheap beer, which naturally limits one’s consumption, too.

Many breweries get started because a hobbyist enjoyed brewing beer at home and eventually expanded the operation. They’re generally locally owned, and the people who work there generally love craft beer, too. And, comparatively speaking, the brewery locations themselves are generally cleaner, more open and lively, and much inviting than your standard bar. One of my favorite brewery trends are reclaiming old buildings in an attempt to revitalize downtrodden downtowns, offering pooch-friendly spaces, and inviting food trucks to provide yummy sustenance for your customers.

In spite of my previous distaste, I came to view both bars and breweries as important third places. They’re one of the increasingly rare places where you can strike up a conversation with a stranger seated next to you, no matter who you are or where you’re from. In nearly every destination (outside of tourist areas), they are legitimate hubs of community for many people. In fact, I consider craft breweries (and even some local dive bars) to be excellent destinations for meeting locals when you’re traveling—I integrate them into many of my own trips.

I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy beer—craft beer, at least—in a way that I would not have believed when I turned 30. And I certainly would not have helped my dad graduate hospice by wheeling him over to the local bar (a feat his doctors marveled at), which taught me a lot about the importance of these places like this in people’s lives.

These days, I’m a regular at our favorite local brewery, which is a leisurely 5 minute bike ride from our house (I’m actually writing this right now over a pint). Since I started drinking, I’ve tasted more than 5300 unique craft beers, visited more than 530 local breweries, and raised a pint at more than 1300 total venues. I really enjoy trying new brews and new breweries, as further evidenced by my various beer quests (visiting every brewery in each of the US territories, a brewery in each of the 50 states, every brewery in Arizona, hitting the 5000 unique beer mark, etc). On net, it’s been a positive in my life.

But it’s not all positive, of course. There are definitely a number of downsides, as my waistline can readily attest. Many really great people find themselves struggling with alcohol, and that sucks. And I’m proud of so many of them for finding their way through those tough times. It feels a bit weird to have gone the opposite direction than the norm, but I also know what it feels like to be the sober one at a social gathering. I’ll support you whether you drink, or not.

I pushed the boundaries of employment pretty far at my first job1

Throughout high school and college, I worked at Staples. First in Mesa, then eventually in north Scottsdale, which was just being developed at the time. A lot of “new money” was moving in, mostly from California. Most of their kids were decidedly spoiled.

It showed, and the store had trouble attracting quality employees. It wasn’t hard to rise above the bunch, especially if you were “college material” to begin with. So my wife and I gained some impressive leverage as employees. We were essentially quasi-managers for the store, and while we accepted as many pay raises was we could, we refused promotions that added responsibility; after all, we were in school and had no interest in a career in retail.

We used this leverage to ensure that we only worked the schedules we wanted (always the same hours so we could share one car), take whatever days off for any road trip we wanted to do, and also to never miss an ASU football game, which we had season tickets for.

I was pretty anti-consumerism and very vocal about it, which was a bit incongruous with my employment. But the benefits and ease of the job outweighed the downsides, so we stuck it out. But that didn’t end my frustrations with working for a big box retailer. So, I leaned into my leverage much more, and openly protested as much as I could. Always pushing the line far beyond where others would get fired, but that the rest of my work performance—I was highly capable and effective at the actual job—would save me from.

For instance, for almost three years, I refused to be on time. My wife and I would drive to work together, and she’d clock in before the appointed time, but I would just wait outside or in the break room, wait until I was 8 minutes past (we had a 7 minute grace period), then clock in. Again, I did this years, without a single write-up.

“That’s just Scott being Scott” I’m sure the managers sighed to each other. It helped that my wife (also very effective and a model employee) and I were a “package deal,” so to speak. How could they replace both of us? It’d be pretty tough with the kinds of applicants they were routinely getting.

On big sale days, I’d often park our car in front of the store in a prime parking space (a “no no” per store policy), and would conveniently plaster the rear window with anti-corporate materials, such as “Buy Nothing Day” from AdBusters.

I got even more brazen and eventually launched a website called, which I circulated among fellow coworkers as a place to complain about stuff we hated about the company. Somehow, I stayed employed and continued to enjoy those benefits, like telling management when I’d work and not work. I won a national customer service award, which provided even more “cover” for my exploits, especially since the higher ups knew who I was.

Eventually, my wife finished her degree and got a “big girl” job as a social worker; and a semester later, I moved on to a professional job in conservation, too. It was definitely time to move on, but I always laugh about how I managed to leave on my own terms after all I had put them through. (Note: I left out a lot of other shenanigans)

For a year, I co-authored one the most popular blogs on the web

Back around 2005ish, I was blogging on my own website and enjoying conversations with other bloggers. One of them started a political opinion blog and asked me if I wanted to join as a co-author. We both wrote for about a year, steadily watching our site rise in the Technorati Top 100 list. That list was a popular “ranking” of blogs, primarily based on how many other sites were linking to them. We started to get noticed, quite a bit, and took on more co-authors.

When we broke into the top ten (wtf!!!), things started to get a bit nuts. Our blog now had more incoming links than Coca-Cola, Ford, and Target…combined. CNN started to cover the “blogosphere” in segments and our logo was one of those that flashed across the screen. Someone started shadowing us for a documentary. I got to interview a popular author whose work I had followed. We topped out, one week at least, at number 4. Crazytown.

And all the while, our comment section was going insane, and we made the dumb mistake of reading and responding to many of the flamewars there. I found myself spending far too much of my day (often during work) writing about things that made me far too mad. We never monetized the site (ads? no way, fuck that!), and hosting costs were growing and growing. I finally stepped away, and my buddy eventually sold the site.

So, how did we manage to get so damn popular? Well, it wasn’t intentional. We were just two bloggers who wanted to write about issues we cared about. Just like so many other folks, who were also adopting WordPress as their platform. And that’s the reason.

See, my buddy had made a few free WordPress themes that became quite popular, and each of them contained a footer link to his own site…which was the site that we had turned into our blog. And that’s where so many of those incoming links came from. Not readers, but other bloggers who were using his themes. It was an unintentional strategy, but a successful one, at least in Technorati’s eyes. Either way, it was a close enough brush to fame to keep me forever satiated.

  1. Ok, Staples was my first “legal” job. I had been working “under the table” as a dishwasher at my friend’s restaurant since age 14 before I applied to Staples when I was 16 (and legal to work in Arizona). I still miss the free Philly cheesesteaks, grilled cheeses, and western omelettes. ↩︎