Packing List for Firefall in Yosemite

Here’s a suggested packing list for Firefall in Yosemite. It’s winter time and you should expect below freezing temperatures and lots of snow on the ground. A lot of the paths in the park will be cleared, but lots will also have hard pack on them we’ll need to walk over. That said, the trails are pretty flat and typically run alongside or on a paved road)

Traveling and Commuting

  • Plane Tickets
  • Driver’s License or Passport
  • Credit Card / Cash
  • Medications / Prescriptions
  • Toiletries
  • *Mask and Digital copy of COVID Vaccination Record (I don’t believe these are required anywhere we’ll be visiting, but bring them if you prefer)

Clothes for 4-5 days (Think layers, there could be a range of temps and we’ll be actively walking)

  • Sturdy, water resistant hiking boots
  • Thermal underlayer (top and bottom)
  • Hiking pants (bring extra in case they get wet)
  • Hiking shirts, long and short sleeve (bring extra in case they get wet)
  • Fleece or Sweater
  • Warm socks (ideally quick dry, bring extra in case they get wet)
  • Winter Jacket (ideally wind / water resistant in case it rains)
  • Rain pants
  • Winter Hat
  • Winter Gloves (consider bringing both lightweight and heavy)
  • Scarf / Neck Gaiter
  • Underwear
  • Comfortable clothes for the hotel / restaurants
  • Gaiters (optional)

Photography Gear

  • Phone
  • Camera body
  • Camera lens
    • You’ll want a lens or lenses that fall in or near the range of 20mm-100mm
    • Bring your fastest lens (low f-stop) for astrophotography
    • If you’ve got 200mm+ you can bring it to punch into the falls if you want to.)
  • Extra camera batteries
  • 16GB SD Card (ideally, bring multiple cards)
  • Camera and Phone battery chargers
  • Tripod
  • Plastic grocery or small trash bag
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Lens cleaner
  • Remote shutter (optional, but a good idea)
  • Photo storage (optional, but a good idea)
  • ND or polarizing filter (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)

Other Gear

  • Camera bag or backpack
  • Water Bottles
  • Headlamp (ideally one with a red light)
  • Sunglasses
  • Chapstick
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues / Wet wipes
  • Trekking poles (optional)

Cloralen: Bringing bleach innovation to the US on social media

Alen’s signature bleach brand, Cloralen, was a hit in Mexico, but had no presence in the US. The social strategy generated awareness for their new, innovative product in a category that was stale and disengaged.

Project Objective
Launch an engaged community of fans and drive awareness of CLORALEN in the general market.

Help consumers take back control of how they clean by making them feel like they are the boss of their home when they clean with Cloralen Splashless Bleach.

The Work
We leveraged MRI data and learnings from our existing social media presence to develop a social persona for our target. Then we evaluated our competitors in the social space to learn what was effective, and what kind of tone the competitive set was using.

Cloralen’s Splashless Bleach product was an innovation in a category that had been stagnant for years. Our product hook was that our bleach didn’t splash, creating lots of opportunities to show differentiation. We leaned into that and identified white space for our brand position. We developed a distinct tone of voice and attributes that would guide how we talked and behaved on social media.

Using that position and our personality, we developed content pillars that laddered back to the value proposition – splashless bleach helps you take back control of cleaning your home. We focused heavily on demonstrating the product benefit in fun and innovative ways, and also meme inspired content related to cleaning and bleach.

We created a unique approach for each channel we launched in based on how our target audience behaved in each channel. The result was a response that was overwhelmingly positive and rapidly saw fans sharing memes with other fans and advocating for the brand.


  • Audience Research
  • Competitive Audit
  • Social Strategy
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Playbook

Bel Brands: Social strategy with personality

Shifting the focus of Mini-Babybel, Boursin, and The Laughing Cow cheese brands from acquiring fans to driving engagement led to an increase in brand affinity and connections with higher quality fans.

Project Objective
Develop a new social strategy for all the brands that gives them a unique voice and helps them reach more fans.

Shift to a content approach that inspires participation by developing a distinct personality and value proposition for each brand.

The Work
Our overall process was similar for each brand. We leveraged MRI data and learnings from our existing social media presence to develop social personas for our targets. Then we evaluated our competitors in the social space to learn what was effective and what kind of tone the competitive set was using.

We worked with the media team to recommend the client shift their brief from fan acquisition to engagement based on how social media platforms were evolving in 2015-2016.

With alignment on this new strategy, we developed content pillars for each brand that laddered up to each brand’s unique purpose and value proposition. For The Laughing Cow, it was helping fans savor more sensorial moments. For Boursin, it was taking entertaining to the next level. For Mini-Babybel, it was injecting a little more fun into snack time.

Each content framework included content that was product focused and demonstrated our value to consumers, as well as content that encouraged consumers to talk and play with the brand. Based on our personas, we created different content executions that were targeted to each of our segment’s interests and behaviors on social media.


  • Audience Research
  • Competitive Audit
  • Social Strategy
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Development

Midwestern Gothic Winter 2017 Issue

Midwestern Gothic Issue 23 Fall 2016We gave Midwestern Gothic a complete reboot from the ground up. We redesigned the cover and the interior with gorgeous new artwork and photographs. We’re including not just fiction and poetry, but also non-fiction in our bi-annual format. Last, the Winter 2017 issue also features the winners and finalists of this year’s Lake Prize.

Basically, this issue is killer from top to bottom. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Even with all the changes, we’re still laser focused on shining a spotlight on the Midwest to celebrate its diversity and explore what makes the region tick. Good, bad, and ugly.

Shop for Midwestern Gothic Winter 2017 Now!

Midwestern Gothic: Issue 21 (Spring 2016)

Midwestern Gothic Issue 21 Spring 20165 years and counting! The spring 2016 issue marks the fifth year we’ve been putting out the journal, and what an insane, amazing journey it’s been. So many people have been a part of it, and there are so many people to thank, but here are just a few.

Robert James Russell is a top notch partner in crime. Wouldn’t do it with anyone else.

Christina Olson brings the noise to poetry submissions, book fairs, and so much more.

Katie Marenghi, Lauren Crawford, Jon Michael Darga, Laura Hulthen Thomas, Kayla Silverstein, Emily Paull, Hannah Bates, Hannah Gordon, Giuliana Eggleston, Rachel Hurwitz, Allison Reck, Ally Wright, Stephanie Bucklin, Jamie Monville, Stephanie Mezzanatto, and Michelle Torby (among others) have all played small and large roles in making this possible.

Plus too many contributors and readers to thank. You guys are all awesome.

And of course, my wife, Sandi Pfaller, for doing an infinite number of things to give me the time and energy for this little side project.

Check out Midwestern Gothic: Issue 21 (Spring 2016)

Napkin Haiku Review – A Dance With Dragons, George R.R. Martin

With most fantasy series, it’s usually quickly apparent what the author’s end-game is. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo will either destroy the ring. Or not. Wheel of Time, the Dragon will defeat the Dark One in the Last Battle. Or not. You get the idea. With George R.R. Martin’s fifth entry into the Game of Thrones epic fantasy series…I have no idea where he’s going with this. I won’t give any spoilers, but this particular author is notorious for having no qualms about killing off important characters. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended the series with a completely different set than he began with. A few of my favorites are gone, and at this point, I’m not really sure why I want to continue reading. To see who avoids getting killed off? This world is awesome and the characters are great, but his last two books have been a bit of a wander.

A Dance With Dragons

Boundless worlds smash and
Weave. Unstitching disappears.
Void destination.

Get A Dance With Dragons

Napkin Haiku Review – A Thirty-Something Girl, L.M. Stull

I usually don’t dip into the literary romance genre, but L.M. Stull’s book was a pleasant surprise and has inspired me to check out a few more titles like hers. It has lots of heart and just the right amount of sugar – the perfect book for burrowing into a warm corner of your house and reading it cover to cover. Even though the main character, Hope, has seen more than her fair share of hard times, the book focuses on the upswing and her struggles to get back to happy. I don’t recommend many books to my wife, but I’ll definitely give her A Thirty-Something Girl.

A Thirty-Something Girl

Broken, on her knees
Surges up, down, back up again
Settles bittersweet

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Napkin Haiku Review – They Live, The Deep Focus Series

I got this little gem of a book from Matt Butler, a college friend who’s managed to put up with me for a few years. If you’ve heard of They Live, you probably know of the indescribable John Carpenter film starring the indomitable Rowdy Roddy Piper. (Hint: if you haven’t, go watch it. Now.) You’d never think of this cult-classic as a stinging social commentary, but that’s exactly what the author, Jonathan Lethem, does. The results are hilarious, I laughed out loud several times while reading it.

Deep Focus Series has a few others in the collection that are definitely worth checking out if you like the treatment of They Live.

they live deep focus

Soul piercing look at
a movie with no soul. They
Live wins yet again.

Get They Live (Deep Focus)

Napkin Haiku Review – Towers of Midnight, by Brandon Sanderson & Robert Jordan

It’s an understatement to say I’d been looking forward to this book – I started reading the Wheel of Time series in the 7th grade. When Robert Jordan died, I figured any hope at a satisfying ending was lost. Thankfully, I was wrong in the second to last book of the series, Towers of Midnight, by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan.

I plan on checking out more from Brandon Sanderson. He’s done beyond a bang up job taking over a complex universe that was, quite honestly, getting stagnant and breathed new life into it.

towers of midnight

Epic tale goes for
the throat. Never lets it go.
Glorious battle.

Get Towers of Midnight