The Purple Squirrel (and other damaging technology myths)

So my name is Dorothea Salo and my job is making more of what Jason Scott called “angry archivists” yesterday! No, but really, the reason I’m here is I teach technology, among other things, in a professional school: library school instead of law school, but I think we’ll find we have a lot in common.

One thing I know our professions have in common is a lot of swirling anxiety about technology and technology education. Am I right? And sometimes that fuels great things like this very conference, but speaking as an educator, I find that it also fuels a lot of miscommunication and weird expectations. And that frustrates me. Maybe you too? I think part of the problem is some cultural myths about technology that we’re all struggling with. So I want to talk about those myths and the damage they do, and I want to push back on them, and I want to suggest some ways that all of us—educators, technologists, professionals, and students—can start to move past them.

And I want to start with the Myth of the Purple Squirrel.

So what in the world is a Purple Squirrel, you may well ask. Some of you may know it as a “purple unicorn” instead, but “purple squirrel” is actually a thing; it’s mostly recruiters and human-resources people who use it. It’s got a Wikipedia entry and if you look on Amazon there’s a book about it, so I ran with it. A Purple Squirrel, for purposes of this talk, is the perfect technology hire you see in really bad job ads: the one person who can do everything imaginable with technology so nobody else ever has to touch a keyboard, the brilliant polymath who knows everything about every technology since forever and never, ever, ever makes a tech mistake.

In other words, hiring a Purple Squirrel into a library or a law firm lets technology be Somebody Else’s Problem, as Douglas Adams would have put it.
Let me just say—this is probably not news to anybody but let me get it out there anyway—this is not a healthy way to think about technology, in libraries or in law firms.

If you haven’t seen the Purple Squirrel in job ads, I do know a place you have seen him, and that’s in technology competency lists. Now, the library school I work at is currently in the middle of an accreditation cycle, so let me say this with feeling: there are a lot of technology competency lists.

Now, my sincerest apologies to the competency-list compilers yesterday, because I know the intention here is often good, but… are you kidding me with these things? Are you kidding me? You could spend a lifetime learning technology and not be competent according to these lists! The only conceivable competent person is a Purple Squirrel! Competency lists as they currently exist are complete Purple Squirrelsville.

How do you detect a purple-squirrel job ad or competency list in the wild? There are some classic warning signs to look for.

First, look for a demand for more years of experience in something than are actually possible. So, in honor of yesterday’s keynoter, the amazing Jason Scott, I’ll use this hypothetical example: three years of experience working with JSON-LD. For our purposes it doesn’t even matter what JSON-LD is, but if you were at the Legal Information Institute lunch session or the value-added repository session yesterday, you heard a little bit about the Semantic Web and linked data. So JSON-LD is a web-developer-friendly way to write linked data. But that doesn’t matter; we don’t care what JSON-LD is. What we care about today is that this requirement for three years of JSON-LD looks fine until we discover that JSON-LD didn’t even officially exist until early this year! (I would not actually be surprised to find that this job ad exists. I didn’t look, don’t sue me!)

Another classic sign of Purple Squirrelishness is asking for every tech skill in every tech book in every tech library everywhere. So you want somebody who knows databases and SQL, and web design, so HTML and CSS, and programs in at least six different programming languages, and is a systems and network administrator, and can do desktop tech support for everybody else in the office, and is a gadget hound who can develop mobile apps, and is a total social-media whiz—because you have to keep those Likes coming—and and and

… and a floor wax and a dessert topping, what in the world, people? Are you kidding me here? Are you kidding me? But I keep seeing these job ads and competency lists and nobody calls them out on their total absurdity, because we have this notion, this Purple Squirrel myth, that tech-savvy people are automatically omnicapable. And if this is your notion, or if you don’t really understand how all the things I’ve put on this slide are different from each other? You’ve probably written a job ad for a purple squirrel. And heaven help you, you probably pitched it at entry-level. And if you’ve done that, I’d love it if you stopped. Please stop.

Because True Confession pulp bestseller time here: I was a Purple Squirrel.
Purple Squirrel faux book cover

(Does today’s extremely purple look make sense now? I hope so; I wouldn’t want you thinking I’m eccentric or something. Also, yes, I know the Latin on the back cover is wrong. Pulp book, right? Verisimilitude!) When I got out of library school, I knew just enough about a whole lot of different tech things to be dangerous, so I got hired into academic libraries to do all the tech stuff—and all the other stuff—relating to scholarly communication. And let me tell you, being a Purple Squirrel made me want to write this book! (I haven’t. I hired the brilliant Tommy Jonq to fake up this book cover for me. But I admit, I do wish this book existed.)

But at this point you may be saying, okay, this purple squirrel myth, it’s a thing, so what? Does it actually matter? How much damage can a myth really do?
Well, one thing is that there are people who lie about being purple squirrels and still get hired, because nobody doing the hire knows enough to call them on it—I’m sure you can tell as many horror stories as I can.

There are also people like me who can fake purple squirrelishness well enough to get hired, and we do our level best, but the expectations are kind of ridiculous. And I know what happens to those people, I was one! You probably know too. Spoiler: it’s not anything good. We become targets. Any workplace tech-impoverished enough to try to hire a Purple Squirrel isn’t really into technology in the first place. Actually, that is an understatement: a lot of people in that workplace hate and fear technology, I guarantee it, and in my experience and that of my students, they have no scruples about displacing that hate and fear onto a Purple Squirrel hire, not to mention using organizational and budgetary power—“soft power” if you will—to make sure the Purple Squirrel can’t get anything done.

And as someone who teaches technology to future librarians, this really bothers me. I don’t want my best, most tech-savvy people graduating just to become targets! How is it even ethical to ask me to train people up for that? I really want our professions, law and librarianship, to welcome the tech-savvy better than this, and I want this partly because the whole work-displacement and dismissive-treatment thing has some really skeevy gross echoes in law as well as librarianship:

  • “That’s paraprofessional/paralegal work.” Wincing yet? Let me make it worse.
  • “That? The Girl does that.” How about now?

Both our professions have a history of shoving off work we don’t want to do on other people, sometimes in creepy gross gendered and racialized and class-bound ways. And that is not acceptable. That is damage that the Purple Squirrel myth actually perpetuates, because whoever Purple Squirrels are, they’re not “us,” not us professionals, whoever we are.

Here’s one that actually happened to me! “We don’t need to be running all that fancy digital stuff. We need to hire some real librarians.” I overheard this shortly after starting my very first job as a librarian, and it just goes to show, right? Whatever technology is in law or in librarianship, it’s not actually real law or real librarianship. What is this? What is this divide? And why do some of us seem to think it’s okay to remain technology-ignorant, as though technology somehow isn’t part of the profession’s regular praxis?

Because—I’m sure this is not news—tech ignorance hurts. For one thing, tech ignorance is how law firms, libraries, governments embarrass themselves and hurt other people. There are a million examples, right? Here’s just a few, all from the last year or so.

  • A law professor didn’t encrypt his laptop or hard drive storage, and had a bunch of really sensitive data stolen along with it. Ouch. And if that law professor is you? I’m sorry, this must be painful, and I intentionally didn’t use your name. If you’d like a consultation about how not to have this happen again, research-data management is a thing I teach and consult on, so I’m here for you!
  • The nation’s security establishment, utterly owned with a simple garden-variety web crawler!
  • Everybody is laughing at the Federal Register, which apparently can only accept digital documents on three-and-a-half-inch floppies.
  • This one’s great! Maybe you heard it already. A huge court case was lost because the plaintiff’s lawyers didn’t realize their client was faking emails entered into evidence.
  • And if that’s not enough, you can get yelled at from the federal bench for screwing up technology! Not your Purple Squirrel, they’re not being yelled at; you are.

And I didn’t even have to resort to talking about failed redaction here. If I talked about failed redaction, we would be here all day.

Now, I additionally want to suggest that bad tech hires are also serious damage caused by the Purple Squirrel myth, and it’s damage that goes on to cause even more damage. Purple Squirrel job ads mean that law firms and libraries and governments do not get the tech hires they need. I only took a Purple Squirrel job because I was young and stupid. Tech-savvy people who’ve been around the block a few times can recognize a Purple Squirrel ad from miles away, and they do not apply, because nobody wants to be the workplace target for technology hate and discontent.

So it seems people who want Purple Squirrels can’t hire them. If you’re having trouble hiring one, what do you do? All the educators in this room know what the answer to that is: it must be a professional education problem! This is my life now, teaching technology in library school. I’m blamed for everything you can imagine. Ask any practicing librarian or archivist; they’ll tell you I’m doing everything wrong and basically I suck, because all educators suck, and I’m an educator!

I’m betting I’m not the only tech educator in this room who’s feeling this. Everybody wants you to graduate the Purple Squirrel Lawyer. Everybody wants me to graduate the Purple Squirrelbrarian, and everybody yells at us constantly like we’re not smart enough to have figured out that’s what everybody wants. Well, I know that’s what you want! You don’t have to yell at me any more about it, I know, I promise I know!

{In the voice of the character Hal 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey} But I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. It’s not that I don’t want to, Dave, it’s not that I wouldn’t if I could, Dave. It’s that given the time and resources I have, Dave, the students I’m working with, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. And I will make bold to say that if you stood in my purple shoes? You couldn’t do that either. Dave.

Now, I’m indebted to UK law librarian Pete Smith for how I’m about to explain why not. Most students entering library school are the technology equivalent of couch potatoes. They haven’t much experience with technology beyond the basic consumer level; they’re not used to it and they haven’t been taught about it. And I’ve asked around: is it just our students? maybe we’re admitting the wrong people? And what I hear back every single time is no, it’s everybody, every library school is dealing with that. And I’ll go out on a limb here and say it’s probably true of law schools as well. Law-school students mostly start out as technology couch potatoes.

And we educators? We’ve got two or three years, assuming a full-time student, to do something about that. And not even two or three full years—we’ve got two or three years where they’re doing lots of other things and technology instructors see them for one to three courses and that’s it.

So in those two or three years, those one to three courses, I’ve found that students can do the rough technology equivalent of a couch-to-5K run. It turns out that in physical exercise terms, couch-to-5K is a thing that a fair few people can realistically do. So there are great materials that show people step-by-step (so to speak) how to get from being a couch potato to running a 5K race without injuring themselves or giving up, and there’s lots of help and encouragement and equipment recommendations and all that good stuff.

And I flatter myself that I do pretty well at couch-to-5K technology training. A lot of other people do too. So couch-to-5K is already happening in library professional education—I certainly have no plans to stop!—and the sense I get is that law is working toward it too.

The problem is that the library world—and I’m guessing the law world too—isn’t happy with couch-to-5K. What they want is couch to amazing long- distance Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah! So, couch to Mo Farah! In three years, max! Get to it, you lazy good-for-nothing educators you! Well, I think Mo Farah’s dubious face says it all, but just to reiterate… {HAL 9000 voice again} I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. You can’t do that either. Dave.

(Any Daves in here? I apologize, it’s not about you. I couldn’t resist the HAL 9000 joke.)

And part of the reason this is impossible gets back to the bizarre breadth of expectation, right? In what universe does anybody, anybody at all, start from being a Microsoft Office and Facebook jockey, which is where most of my students start, and go on to learn all the technologies I mentioned earlier to Purple Squirrel levels in two or three years? Write all the competency lists you want, I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter. Students can’t master those lists in two or three years. I mean, be honest, could you? If you don’t think you could do it, what makes you think my students can?

Ah, but wait. It’s not supposed to be hard to teach technology to law-school and library school students, is it? Especially if they’re fresh out of undergrad. Because people that age are all—say it with me here—digital natives. Right? Isn’t that how it goes?

Well, “digital natives” is the second myth I’m talking about today. It’s a myth, all a myth. The whole thing started from lousy question-begging analysis of scanty biased data from the richest county in the entire United States that has been debunked all over the place! The truth is that young people are not digital natives. They are not, in other words, readymade Purple Squirrels!

And can we just talk about this phrase “digital natives” for a moment? I feel nasty just saying it! I didn’t even try to illustrate it, because what image could I possibly put on this slide that would not be a grossly objectionable stereotype or cultural appropriation? The word “native” in the mouth of a white European-heritage person like me has centuries of horrific abuse and destruction and discrimination to answer for. So let me see if I get this: we’re going to refer to supposedly tech-savvy younger people with a term that has a long history of being used to dehumanize people, and we’re okay with that? I am not okay with that, and I apologize to everyone here that I couldn’t find a way to talk about this myth without using this term. If you’re as grossed-out by it as I am, or even if you’re not, I really recommend the Bayne and Ross article on the subject, which you can find as a draft online. So what I’ll try to do for the rest of this talk is use “baby Purple Squirrels” instead of “digital natives.” If I slip, I’m sorry.

Can’t we get over this baby Purple Squirrel thing already? Well, no, no we can’t, because it figures so prominently still in talk about technology and technology education—and why is that? No, seriously, why? Why won’t this sketchy, false, dehumanizing myth go away?

Well, part of it is the usual dumb “Kids! I dunno what’s wrong with these kids today” generational friction that’s been around since ancient times, and it’s really stupid, but I can’t make it stop with one lousy keynote address. Truthfully, though, I think it’s more than that. There’s got to be something attractive, something that’s useful to somebody, in this myth that young people are baby Purple Squirrels who know everything about technology and never have to be taught about it ever and don’t need any actual time or opportunity to learn. What might that attractive thing be?

To get at it, I want to introduce the flipside of the baby-Purple-Squirrel myth. This is, of course, another myth, and another really nasty repellent myth at that. It’s the “One Funeral at a Time” myth, illustrated as a pulp mystery-book cover by the amazing Tommy Jonq:

One Funeral at a Time faux book cover

According to this myth, people who are too old to be baby Purple Squirrels—and for the sake of argument I’ll define that as “anyone over 30” because that number has cultural resonance for some of us—absolutely cannot learn anything ever about technology, so all they do is get in technology’s way. The only way that will ever change is for those incompetent incapable oldsters to retire or die.

Well, yesterday’s conference kickoff gave the lie to the whole “old people don’t know tech” thing, but in case you need more evidence, it so happens that starting next Monday my age will be equal to Douglas Adams’s answer to life, the universe, and everything: 42. I am way too old to be a baby Purple Squirrel! But this old lady, in addition to rocking the purple, is rocking the technology and she is not at all retiring! One funeral at a time? If you want my funeral, you’ll have to engineer it.

But again, I have to ask, what is attractive or useful in this pair of myths? Why don’t more people push back on One Funeral at a Time? Nobody wants people rooting for them to die! And to answer that, I keep coming back around to that knowledge-ignorance dichotomy that the myths exemplify. We oldsters, we’re tech-ignorant, while those youngsters, well, they just automagically know everything about technology. Both these myths construct knowledge as innate: you either got it or you don’t. You either have infinite technology knowledge essentially from birth, if you’re a Purple Squirrel, or you don’t know anything about technology and never will, if we’re waiting for your Funeral. Nothing to be done about it either way, it’s just the way we are, right?

And that is what is attractive to a subset of established professionals in both our professions! It lets them get away with what I call being “ignorant like a fox,” the kind of person who just loves Purple Squirrels so much because technology is so hard and they just don’t understand it and they never will either because it’s so hard so it’s so great there are Purple Squirrels to do that scary hard tech stuff for them! Or the person who blusters, “well, I’m far too important to do that icky tech stuff, go hire a Purple Squirrel for that.”

These people are not myths. I know some. I’m betting you do too. And it’s not everybody, but it’s enough people to do real damage! Put another way, some established professionals cynically buy into One Funeral at a Time, grossly insulting and wrong though it is, because it’s a Get Out of Technology Free card. Or, if we want to think about this as educators, a Get Out of Learning Technology Free card.

Remember the skeevy gross echoes of workplace mistreatment I was talking about? It’s the ignorant-like-a-fox folks who do ninety percent of the damage here, I really believe that! Ignorant-like-a-fox folks will write job ads for Purple Squirrels, and they’ll hire them because they need them, but it’s exactly these ignorant-like-a-fox folks who have a way of not thinking of Purple Squirrels as fellow professionals, much less colleagues. They’ll talk smack about Purple Squirrels behind their backs because hey, Purple Squirrels are not Real Lawyers or Real Librarians, right?

That’s the gross, skeevy, insidious thing about this. A thing foxes refuse to do, often because they don’t know how and refuse to learn, they also refuse to respect or reward other people for doing. Take social media. A fox might “dabble” in social media, and then write snide editorials about it. Someone the fox respects might be “engaged” with social media. Purple Squirrels? What’s the word in those snide editorials? Yes, I’m hearing it: “obsessed.” I dabble, you engage—they’re obsessed.

And that’s how Purple Squirrels, and tech-savvy people generally, end up as workplace targets. This is not acceptable and it’s got to stop.

So granting that these myths are a problem, what do we do? How do we shatter the myth of the Purple Squirrel and replace it with healthier technology behaviors and attitudes? I think a couple of very simple ideas will do the job, if—if—we can push them as hard as everyone else is pushing Purple Squirrels and One Funeral at a Time, and if we are willing to live with the consequences of those ideas.

Here’s one such idea: knowledge of technology is not innate, but learned. Whether it’s learned through experience or instruction or both, technology knowledge is learned. Simple, right? True, right? And it blows up the Purple Squirrel myth on the spot. Old people, young people, nobody’s born knowing how to develop mobile apps or troubleshoot Excel. We all learn how.

Here’s another idea: you don’t learn tech once and you’re done, any more than you learn law or librarianship and you’re done. None of these is a fixed body of knowledge; they’re all changing, so we’ve always got to be learning and relearning. All of us. And I’m preaching to the choir here, I know that, so what we here have to do is spread the word. If that means we’re knocked off our Infallible Know-it-all Purple Squirrel pedestals, it’s worth the price, because the emphasis on continuous learning is what gets the ignorant-like-a-foxes in the gut. If everybody has to learn, then so do they. There is no more get-out-of-tech-free card.

But, you know, we’re not going to be able to turn our ignorant-like-a-fox folks into Purple Squirrels. You know, I know, we all know that’s not going to happen. And anyway, Purple Squirrels don’t actually exist, so we need another symbol for an acceptable professional level of technology knowledge.

So how about a nice gray squirrel? Let’s envision technology education for law and librarianship as the cultivation of regular, ordinary gray squirrels. Gray squirrels are actually pretty amazing creatures in their own right. First of all, they’re real—they actually exist! And those of us with birdfeeders aside, we have tolerably warm and fuzzy feelings toward gray squirrels; we think they’re fun to watch, even cute. Even more importantly, gray squirrels are ubiquitous, absolutely everywhere; they fit into a lot of environments, and they are absolute masters at adapting themselves to what they find. That’s what we ultimately want from professionals with respect to technology, right? We want them to adapt to what they find. We want them to fit in technologically wherever they happen to land. We want them to survive just about anything the changeable technology world can throw at them. And we want everybody to feel empathy and respect toward gray squirrels doing technology work, which is a lot easier if everybody feels that we’re all basically climbing the same tree with regard to technology.

I want to close with some suggestions about how all of us, educators and working professionals, can make more gray squirrels.

The first thing our professions need to do is commit, commit one hundred percent, to this goal: every professional a gray squirrel! Every lawyer, every librarian. Not after a billion funerals, either—now, today, or at least as soon as we can make it happen. Ink still wet on your diploma? You need to be a gray squirrel. Had your diploma hanging in your office so long that the dust on it’s an inch thick? Guess what? You, too, need to be a gray squirrel.

Now, that’s easy for me to say; it’s much, much harder to do! But I do think that even if this goal turns out to be mythical, keeping it as a mission statement is useful, because it will kick us out of some of the bad habits of thought that led to the myths I’ve debunked today. An example of such a bad habit is the “curricular rigor in the degree” kick some people are on, this idea that we’ll graduate a whole lot more Purple Squirrels if we just make everything really really difficult. I really need people to get off this, at least with respect to technology education. If you think I’m saying this to make my life as a technology educator in a degree program easier—well, yes, and then again, no.

Yes, because asking me for “rigor” in my technology teaching boils down to the same old “hey, where are all those Purple Squirrels? You’ve got three years, where are those Mo Farahs you promised us?” I’ve been hearing all along. And it totally ignores everybody who’s done with their degree, which lets them play the ignorant-like-a-fox game. If that’s not enough, here’s one more reason the rigor kick isn’t cool: we know that technology knowledge, even technology access, is conditioned by societal disadvantage accruing to certain demographic groups. Digital divides are emphatically not a myth. The notion that tech is some kind of meritocracy that’s open to everybody equally, that is the myth.

So if what people mean by “rigor”—and it does seem to be—is weeding students out because they don’t achieve Mo Farah levels of tech knowledge in two or three years, these people are asking me to contribute to disadvantaging women, people of color, the non-wealthy, first-generation students, rural residents who can’t get broadband, and others. These people are telling me that such students can’t be part of our professions, and it’s my job to make sure they don’t become part. And I refuse. I flatly refuse to do that. It is wrong and I refuse.

Will I take on the job of making people who have been disadvantaged for whatever reasons into gray squirrels, rather than purple ones? Sure! I think I can do it, and I think it’s what both they and our professions need a lot more than they need “rigor,” whatever that is when it’s not being exclusionary. So yes, a gray-squirrel approach to technology would make my life as an educator in a degree program easier.

But then again, no, a gray-squirrel approach to tech knowledge will not make my life easier, because it means we educators will seriously have to step up our continuing-education game! Both our professions have to get profoundly serious about true lifelong learning in a way I know they’re not right now! That scares the daylights out of me, because it will be so hard: hard to pay for, hard to deliver, hard to work out the right pedagogies for, hard to lead the horses to water and make them drink (as long as I’m on the animal-metaphor kick), just really, really hard. While I do not want to minimize those difficulties one bit, I still believe with all my heart that the gray-squirrel approach will get better results than the blame-the-degree, blame-the-educators quagmire we’re stuck in right now. I think whatever progress we can make will be worth it!

Another thing we’re going to have to do to make gray squirrels is calibrate our expectations properly. And for me, that means going from competency laundry lists, which as I said tend to be total Purple Squirrel fantasylands, to competency roadmaps, the Open Street Map of competency development. Roadmaps acknowledge where people start, as well as where we want them to end up, and roadmaps give them actual directions for how to get to where we want them to end up. They even take into account how people are travelling—if you’re driving, you’ll get a different route than if you’re walking. Learning works the same way. People start from different places and they have different needs, and a roadmap approach can account for that where a competency list can’t. There’s just a lot more embedded advice, a lot more usable wisdom, in a map than in a list—and let me tell you, the number of people I’ve seen in library continuing education who desperately need some advising and some direction because they don’t really know what they’re doing or where they’re going? I won’t tell stories on people because that’s super-hurtful, but I am telling you, it’s scary.

So sure, it’s a heck of a lot easier to just make that gigantic Purple Squirrel competency wishlist, but it’s not nearly so helpful, and it’s not grounded in professional reality.

The third thing we need to do is bust yet one more myth, one that is a real barrier for long-time professionals who are not where we wish they were in their technology knowledge. The myth is a broken syllogism, thus Aristotle here with his terrifyingly guilt-inducing empty eyes, and it goes like this:

  1. Smart people know technology.
  2. I am a smart person.

And that’s where the syllogism breaks, because they don’t know technology. This hits my students pretty hard sometimes; I’ve seen it. They feel guilt. They feel shame. They feel the kind of I’m-just-a-fraud inadequacy that research calls Impostor Syndrome. I can only imagine it’s worse for longtime professionals, and the worst thing about that is that these feelings keep them from learning! So if we’re seriously planning to deal with the low level of tech knowledge in our fields, we must acknowledge and then deal with this broken syllogism, both in our degree programs and in continuing education.

And that brings me back around to the couch-to-5K idea. If you look at the very best how-tos for doing a couch-to-5K, you’ll notice that there’s no blame-and- shame in them, there’s no fat-shaming or fitness-policing or anything like that, and no one makes assumptions about why you’re doing it. You want to do a 5K? Great, here are the clearest, most specific instructions we can make for how to get there from wherever you happen to be. And rah rah you for doing it!

We need that in continuing technology education, in both our professions. I’m thinking it will unfortunately take some strategic pushing, maybe even sometimes a little blame, to get the ignorant-like-a-fox folks past that broken syllogism to seek training, never mind people who have been systematically disadvantaged or who are just afraid. But once they’ve taken that step? No blame. Ever. No shame. Ever. No judgment. Ever. We meet them wherever they’re at, and we help. That means a lot of us who pride ourselves on our Purple Squirrelishness will need to check our dismissive attitudes at the classroom door.

So this is the vision that I hope to see some strategy work on, right here at this conference: how to turn every single professional in both our professions into a capable, adaptable gray squirrel with a whole lot of gray-squirrel friends. I want this because… well, let me just end this with a shout-out to CALI’s own delightful Sarah Glassmeyer—I am so done with this creepy-ass mofo of a Purple Squirrel here!

Thank you very much, thanks to John and Sarah for inviting me, and Jason Scott for handing me that great opening line on a silver platter, and now let’s CALI on!