Friday, August 30, 2013

PMC 2013

It’s been almost 4 weeks since Team Headstrong crossed the finish line together in Provincetown, MA and I’m already looking forward to continuing this journey next year. I want to take a minute to thank all of my sponsors for their generosity and support during fundraising and training. I also want to thank my family and particularly my wife Lindsay for her role in the Pan Mass Challenge. Outside of flying the family across country and putting them up in a hotel in Boston while I’m riding, there are plenty of weekend days where training can be upwards of 3-4hrs away from parental responsibilities and duties. Thanks Lindsay -I love you.

While there are plenty of reasons why someone would feel blessed to be able to participate in an event that will top the $400 million dollar mark in funds raised this year to end cancer, for me personally there are some specifics that I wanted to share. Below is a partial list in no particular order:

  • Randomly hearing ‘Antelope’ while you’re packing up your bags (gotta love the East Coast) 
  • All of the many beautiful “hey howahya’s” (read: how are you). And for that matter “watah” 
  • Being able to reconnect with areas of my youth, especially on the Cape and riding thru the beach towns including Orleans where I spent many a formidable youth weekend with my family 
  • To that point, riding past Maco’s bait shop where we used to get out and grab a flat of worms for fishing the stripers on Nauset Beach. 
  • Cherry Street and all the other communities that come out in support. I can’t tell you how many times someone said “thank you” to me. And we as riders back to them. The communities and supporters make this ride what it is 
  • Not to be outdone by the communities, the volunteers with name tags indicating how many years they’ve been participating, are on you with whatever you need at each stop 
  • The peanut butter and fluff sandwiches from the volunteers at the “watah” stops 
  • The “Because of you, I’m 22” sign that a girl had on the side of the road while cheering the riders on 
  • Seeing the names of riders on their saddle bags and the number of years they have ridden in the PMC 
  • The number of “California --nice!” comments I received personally and the “ex-masshole” banter that followed 
  • How people on the East Coast have it in their DNA to either A) make fun of themselves or their friends or B) Come up with hilarious comments when you might be struggling (“seriously, who put this hill here?”) 
  • Talking to the rider whose wife just finished up a treatment but also rode the first day with him
  • The rider with one leg (no prosthetic -just one leg cranking) who always seemed to be in front of me. I’m not sure he stopped at any water breaks. Fittingly enough, I watched him cross the finish of the first day in front of me. What a sight. 
  • The Star Spangled Banner and Sweet Caroline to kick off the start of the ride at 5am on the first day 
  • Being one of the last riders to get going on the second day and getting lost but actually finding a short-cut in the end so it wasn’t that bad. Yes, that really happened. 
  • Asking your teammates “what took you so long?” when they finally made it to the water stop after I found said short-cut. 
  • The Hedge! 
  • My favorite police officer who stands at the town line rain or shine and provides an emphatic “Welcome to Brewster” encouragement to each rider 
  •  Having the dj’s playing a Springsteen song every time I pulled into a water stop. Not sure how they did that but it worked. :) 
  • Crossing the finish line together as Team Headstrong with our Captain Steve Bonnell bringing us in. 

Finally, seeing my son Jack with arms fully extended and proudly holding the sign welcoming me back into port and being able to have both my kids jump in my arms when I got off the boat and kissing my mother on the cheek after a job well done.

It truly is a blessing to be a part of the PMC. Thank you again for all your support.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Improvisational blogging

Enjoying the kitchen on a Friday night and listening to tonight's Phish show from Bethel, NY. The first of the 3-night/33-night total monster Summer Tour. Professionally, the marketing efforts by the band to offer an MP3 of the entire show an hour after lights (free for ticket holders) is both brilliant and disruptive. Disruptive if other bands or service providers are taking note. Want to build customer loyalty? Page available --and he plays a mean clav.

I got to thinking about my history of listening to and participating in Phish shows. As you may know it's a good part of my "entertainment/immediate gratification cycle". New music from your favorite band made available by the community and by simple download 3hrs after they finish in the highest, soundboard "releasable" quality is pretty fun. Yeah, there's the whole coming of age, see the country on tour, lifelong friends aspect, but it's the music and the newness that keep the beat.

As this is improv blogging -I got to thinking also about my musical background and influences. Being that Phish is a big slice of the pie, I was curious if it may have been a studio album that catapulted this. Lawn Boy, Phish's 2nd album got a lot of rotation back in the day ('94). However, with the availability of live shows now, rarely do studio albums get played --outside of the analogue types. Aside: Trey just threw out"wtf" to open up the 2nd set tonight with Carini, or as one might refer to as "no you di-n't just drop a Carini in our (Shoreline) house.

Would Lawn Boy be considered most influential musical album to date? I haven't listened to Lawn Boy in 10 yrs, likely more. But I listen to Lawn Boy songs weekly. Antelope is a Lawn Boy song. If that isn't a game changer, I'm not sure what is.

Ranking the most influential albums for yourself is a tough call and admittedly relative on an infinite amount of factors. Currently, the live album of tonight's show that I'm listening to right now is tops. Some "type" of Phish album would have to be in the top 3 to keep me in the game for so long, maybe Lawn Boy. Listening to the Thriller tape nightly validated this whole thing. Bruce and Born in the USA introduced me to the greatest live performances on the planet. But if I had to choose, I'd go with the first album that I ever owned. I first heard the J. Giels Freeze Frame album with my sisters at a babysitters house, who happened to also be dating my cousin. It didn't hurt that there was a swear word in "Piss on the Wall", or that "Rage in the Cage" still rocks today, but the hook of "Centerfold"on Freeze Frame introduced me to rock and the power of music.

Beatles White Album, Marley and reggae -it's a tough question. What's your most influential?

Finally, we caught Anastasia clapping today and of course encouraged it as much as we could. What's interesting is that it began after Daddy was rocking to the live stream of tonight's show (worthy of another post) during her dinner. 5/27/11 her Freeze Frame maybe?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why do we share (social data)?

I know, I know, three posts already this year, I'm getting sick of myself too. I had one of those amazingly geeky SF days a few weeks ago that mostly happen to people you follow on Twitter and not you. Well, not me anyway. It happened a little like this (cue the dream sequence music with Matt Damon as your hero).....

I was running a bit late on Wednesday morning rushing to get into work for a 9:30 sales call (yes I see the irony). As I parked and headed down 2nd Street towards Misison, I realized as I was halfway to the office that I left my phone in car. Doing the quick math of where I was (midpoint) and lead time for my call (about 15min) I decided to double back. One the walk back, I looked over my right shoulder and saw someone that looked slightly familiar. I've never met him before but I was sure it was Eric Reis, who, for all intents and purposes is, if not the godfather of the customer development community, then he's Steve Blank's right hand man. He may even be Rocky to Blank's Apollo. I've seen him at meetups, follow him on Twitter, read his blog etc., but never met him, so I introduced myself. We only chatted for a few minutes but I asked about his book, we chatted about "pivoting" and "failing fast" and then with him thanking me for saying hi, we shook hands when I got to my lot.

On the walk back down 2nd St., phone in tow, I ran into a colleague who I'm doing a business deal with. One of my goals during the day was to try to get this person on the phone --no need. We chatted about our project and timelines and I was back on my way down 2nd towards Mission. A truly serendipitous few moments all because I left my phone in the car.

Why is this post not titled "Serendipity on Second"? Good question. The reason is because the geekiness continued later that afternoon when I attended the SF New Tech event --The Social Data Revolution. It was my first time attending one of their events but certainly won't be my last. It was $40 at the door but I had two beers and two tacos and managed to find a great lead (we're in discussions now about an opportunity). Still don't get the title? I know, here it comes. The panel with folks like Joe Stump, Founder of SimpleGeo and Eric Ly, Founder of LinkedIn with Reid Hoffman, was moderated by Andreas Wiengerd, former Chief Scientist at and was on the topic of social data. If I can use the word 'fascinating' without my friends spitting our their food, I think that may be a good description. The content was filled with interesting nuggets like the collection of data on the internet, how ALL content is relevant and that every 1.5yrs the amount of data we're working with doubles. In a year and a half, the amount of data online doubles and that timeframe is only shrinking. The big question that I took away was a simple one --Why do we share?

Why do we share our typically private information on social networking sites? There were plenty of answers and all seemed acceptable --from showing others how awesome we are, to looking to be a part of something. I thought Andreas had a good way of explaining it --ABC. A)Attention B) Belonging and C) Two-way communication. Opposed to the traditional A) Advertising B) Branding (bullshit) C) One-way communication (how a typical business communicates with its consumers). Other than maybe taking the consumer approach myself and using C) for Creativity, I think this does a good job of explaining why it is we're comfortable putting personal data online for all to see. As a people we're narcisstic and this is a perfect outlet for that --we also just want to belong to something, a group or similar -something that we can align ourselves with, to be part of something bigger.

There was one aspect that wasn't discussed, and that's the notion of social capital. The idea is you gain by sharing --well the real idea is you gain by facilitating a positive outcome for someone else. In doing so, you gain social capital that you can either bank or let naturally burn down through serendipitous events ("is that I point I smell coming around?") Tara Hunt wrote about this in the Whuffie Factor, how to be a better social capitalist, My cousin Vincent calls it "surfing the karmic wave". Either way, by putting yourself out there, by sharing what it is you know, your experiences, hopefully you're improving the outcome of someone else's experiences. If you can do so, you're increasing your social capital, your whuffie, and are opening yourself up to positive experiences you might not have had originally coming to you following a mistake of leaving your phone in the car.

I know this is a broad subject, there's the whole privacy implication that I didn't touch on. If Mark Zuckerberg had his way, there would be no privacy online and everyone would share everything on their wall. But surely that is not the case, and not simply because of the status of my current employer. So I'll leave it with that question --why do you share? To date, sharing and participating has served me well, so I'll continue doing so. What about you?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Everything's amazing and nobodys happy

This is a great bit by Louis CK on Conan. It hits home on such a real level and he's a funny bastard. From Boston actually. If you're interested there's a terribly funny story/hustle he has about stealing/selling scales in high school. I think it's Newton. Newton South, but for no other reason than I think the dudes from The Office (US version) went to Newton South.

But it's also an unfortunate state of mind that I see too often. Often times its myself, and apologies to my family who are living with weather that I certainly have not experienced, even in the lake-effect CNY. But overall I think we need to start feeling better about ourselves.

As a Red Sox fan, believe me--I understand the 'misery likes company' excuse. We were the loveable losers! Or is that the Cubs? Either way, it was never the Sox year, but we all went thru it together and that was our identity (vomit). And don't let us win a World Series, we'll lose our identity. But guess what happened, we did alright with success. Turns out it was ok to be happy (fucking shocker). Let's win one three years later in '07. And surely my friends in the Capital of Earth would disagree, but we'll do it again in '11 -kangfirmed!

I believe we're living thru an amazing time in our lives right now. Personal computing, mobile communications, immediate information. Look no further than Egypt and Tahir Sq. It may not be totally accurate that social technology that, is really no more than 10yrs old, resulted in the largest revolution in the Arab world, but it certainly played a role and that is amazing. Technology, that's less than 10yrs old, played an integral role in the emancipation of Egypt, a country of 79million people. Pause.

We have to celebrate this time in lives. We all have different issues to address, and we can't be Guy Smiley every day, but dang it, there's plenty to be grateful for! We're contributing on a social level to actual change (thank you Dr. King), the economy is stretching its arms and waking from its slumber, and the responsibility of this country is being passed down to a generation who's had access to more information about every topic than has ever been available. Couple that with the understanding that in the end, as a people, we're alright ---that's a good feeling.

Myself, I'm spoiled with a healthy family, a roof and a job. I know I'm blessed, am thankful for everyday but want to be sure we're not taking this for granted. Likely shit will hit the fan, we know this and we've agreed to this. But before and after we should be thankful for what we have. Everything is amazing --as long as you look at it right.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Why I'm Claiming the Giants 2010 World Series

Happy New Year! I'm starting off 2011 with a commitment to blog once a week. Wait, I mean once a year --same as this past year, although I missed it by a week. Or as overheard on this Day 4: "good resolutions were made to be broken". Below should be retroactive to 2010 por favor:

I'm claiming this past World Series by YOUR, San Francisco Giants! Yep, stewed on it a bit (not long) and confident enough to post this, THE post of 2010.

Yes, we had our beautiful, and healthy, baby Anastasia this year on the 11th of September. It was a truly amazing experience with the sun shining, amazing help, and hearing Michael Franti playing the Power to the Peaceful concert in Golden Gate Park a few blocks away.

And so there's no debate-- THIS was the greatest day of year!

What was debated or at least internally discussed, was claiming this World Series win by the San Francisco Giants. You see, when you wear your home team's club on your sleeve (literally at times) you can't expect to think that it's going to be as easy as just deciding to be a part of the party. There's a little bit of self-assurance that needs to happen, which I believe is not only necessary but healthy. The below is why I'm claiming this World Series, without a doubt.

There are a number of us "transients" who've made their way to the Bay Area. We are baseball fans, but we are very much fans of the history of the game. We appreciate the game of course, but it's what happened before us that makes us who we are. For me, it seems to be the history of the game first and the beauty second. Good or bad. This is what makes it so fun to root for a West Coast team and meet fans on the west coat. They have history of course, but not to the same degree. There's the element of pure baseball enthusiasm that brings the game back to its core -- beauty first and the history second. Of course I'm talking about the Red Sox, but this is what happens when you've had a team for over 100 yrs and thru multiple generations! Also, the beauty of a National League coaches duel is really something to behold and a totally different game than those we are used to in the North East. Putting an NL coach in the AL should be as bad a use of talent as putting a pitcher who can hit .300 in the AL (San Diego, say hello to Casey Kelly).

As fans we're drawn to the local club and for me it's been fun, exciting, and rewarding to root for the 'Sey Hey' kids for the past 12yrs. A great history itself, this team has been an easy fit for me. As a Red Sox fan, the Yankees rivalry elevates everything about the team. The same holds true for the Giants and their rivalry with the Dodgers. If not for the Sox/Yanks rivalry -the Giants/Dodgers (NY/NY and SF/LA) rivalry is right up there. Plus I've always related Boston to NY as SF is to LA --this made it easy for me to find a place with the Giants early on.

Thompson, Mays, McCovey, Will Clark, Barry Bonds and now Timmy, Buster and the Beard. The most beautiful ("modern") ballpark in the country. A team who hadn't won the World Series since 1954 and not since moving to San Francisco in 1957.

I remember when my good friend from NY was living in LA and myself from Boston at the time living in SF. He told me "it's good to have a National League team". The Giants would start out as my "National League team", but this year they become my World Series champion! Yes, I'm totally claiming this World Series. Happy to do it, ecstatic! This is my parade! This is my reward. I'm claiming this World Series and below are my Top 10 reasons reasons why:

10) If you've ever frozen your ass off in the bleachers at Candlestick --you can claim this World Series
9) If you've ever participated in season tickets --you can claim this World Series
8) Lowry and Cain and pray for rain
7) If you talked about where to head for the party during Game 6 up 8-0 during the 8th inning in 2002 --you can claim this World Series
6) If both your kids were born in San Francisco --you can claim this World Series
5) Is Tim Lincecum not the love child of Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon ('04)?
4) Were the 2004 "idiots" that much different than the 2010 "Cast offs" this year?
3) Renteria, Freddie Sanchez, Ramon Ramirez, Javy Lopez: Sox
2) I missed out on the Red Sox and Patriots parade(Z) ("poodles everywhere!")
1) You're still reading this (stolen from Letterman)

Happy New Year everyone! Go Giants; Go Red Sox!!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Vegas conflict

It’s been a week. Lindsay reminded me this afternoon that it was a week ago that we got to the pool for the start of our friend’s wedding weekend. She also mentioned that she very well still may be hung over from that weekend. I, for one, am still feeling the effects. It took until Wednesday to snap out of it, but the residuals still remain. Whoosh, three days and two nights in the City of Sin will do this to you, or to me at least. But as the dust settles, and the headaches subside, there is still the question that stays with me that I couldn’t help but take notice of yet again while I was there – what the eff is up with this place?

I’ve been to Vegas a handful of times. I’ve stayed in old school rat pack hotels, crazy “wizard chasing a princess thru a casino” hotels, and outlandish jumping out of fountains 10 feet into the pool hotels. I prefer the latter. Each time, while certainly different experiences, the result is the same –am I a Vegas person? I know, I know, “VEGAS!!” But really, do I need to take it to the desert to enjoy myself at this level? For those that know me, I can have an amazing time in a cardboard box, so the allure of “breaking loose” doesn’t resonate with me. Gambling? Meh, I enjoy a few hold-em tourney’s with friends but I’m not setting aside 2G’s for tables, especially now that I don’t smoke. Oh the smoke. I’m not sure what’s worse, the constant “dingdingdingdingdingdingdingding,” or the fumes of cigar and Newports when you’re walking to or from your room. Dinners? Yeah, I imagine the restaurants are a draw if you don’t live in a metropolitan area where you can find these. And the shows, while admittedly I haven’t seen a show there (other than Phish, Halloween ’98), can also be found in your city of choice.

A friend who I was with this weekend had the same sentiments as the above, but also brought it down to a level of concern. How much of an enabler is Vegas and at what point should we be concerned? He mentioned that together we probably make more than 90% of the people in the casinos, but yet we’re doing the least gambling. Of note, I guess I never realized how much this guy made! But point taken –should we be concerned with the “type” of money that’s being brought into Vegas? The classic question, am I finally my brother’s keeper and at what point does it affect my fellow citizens? The allure, the craziness, the ability to walk care-free on the floor without regard for others in your path. Is this what we agree to when coming to Vegas? We agree that there is money being spent here that shouldn’t be? We recognize this and we agree that we’re ok with this? We understand that there are individuals that are here who are splitting 10’s, but have no regard for the immediate concerns of family life like paying the bills?

Of course there is the other side of Vegas and it’s the side I chose to defend during the “Vegas is bad for my soul” debate. There are good, moral, responsible people that LOVE Vegas. They get up in the morning and go to work each day. They pay their bills on time and wait for those couple of days a year when they can head to the desert oasis to enjoy and reward themselves for the work they’ve put in. There are the families who make a yearly guys trip out of it. Fathers, uncles, cousins, friends. A bonding experience at the least and ultimately an excuse to get everyone together and enjoy themselves. Then there are the couples that truly love the experience. They live in the metropolitan cities but still feel the buzz from the pools, restaurants and shows. They may gamble a bit, but it’s only one aspect of the whole.

So where do I net out, am I Vegas person? I think the answer to that easily is no. I would find it very difficult to stay there more than two nights which is all I’ve been able to hack to date. I do, however, not have a problem with Vegas. During this 4th of July weekend, and in the patriotic spirit, Vegas is as American as it gets! Talk about a melting pot, it’s all there. And the foreign tourists? There are a ton who are making trips to America and checking out Vegas. Why wouldn’t you, VEGAS!!! right?
Oh, and one more thing that I noticed while I was sitting at Cleopatra’s barge next to an older retired couple. When I’m that age and need a place to act the fool like I did in my 20’s and 30’s, I’m booking a ticket to Vegas –but just a night or two.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Social Networking -Thumbs up?

Myspace, friendster, linkedin, facebook...$5 for the next social networking site to get your 2.0 traction. Rupert's paying out...

Is it possible for businesses/"half-way decent motives" to benefit from this on-going phenomenon (loosely described as possible)? And if so, are you separating yourself from the 21 yr olds posting funneling pictures (21 is the legal limit as we all know)?

I've recently joined a new social networking community, Facebook. I chose not to wait 3months for the next one because it was spawned by co-wokers. Co-workers who I have the utmost trust for based on my own personal views.

I had a discussion over a lamb meatball sandwhich at Paragon recently about the validity of it all. There seems to be a number of different integration points that Facebook offers, but the question remains: Why should I accept an invitation to a new social networking community when the next best thing is not questioned but anticipated?

ps. add me on facebook here: