Monday, May 28, 2007

Firsts are always the best

I experienced two firsts with my kids today. The first first was running in the Bolder Boulder this morning with my daughter. She is eight years old and it was the first time running it for either of us. It was just an awesome day. The birds were singing, the bands were playing, we were shot with super soakers about every three tenths of a mile. We ran it in 99 minutes and she finished strong going into the stadium with tens of thousands of people cheering. We saw half naked Santas, couples getting married, super heros, princesses, and a fairly representative cross-section of running humanity out on the streets of Boulder today. Tonight, when I tucked her into bed she asked, "Dad, that was great running in the race today. Can we do it again next year?", and quickly fell off to sleep. Yes dear, we can run that race together as long as I have breath left in me. I had a great time and you made it special.

The second first was taking my one year old son to the pool. He immediately took to the water and wasn't scared for an instant, just fascinated, bordering on "irrational exuberance." He laughed and played, for perhaps about 10 minutes too long. I know this because we had to warm him up with a number of towels and hold him until his lips returned to their full rosy color.

I love seeing the world through my kids eyes. It immediately lifts the veil of bullshit and cynicism that makes us adults so myopic to the wonder of the world around us. I think this is what Buddhists refer to as Mindfulness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

club penguin acquisition

my daughter is a member. we pay club penguin about $60/year. Reportedly they are in acquisition talks with Sony for $500 million. Can u freakin' believe it? There seems to be a bit of a consumer bubble boys and girls. If club penguin is worth half a billion, what is second life worth? $4 billion?

It's pretty good, but not that good. My daughter will go through phases where she'll play it for a few days and then forget about it for a month. The games earn money that can be used to pimp your igloo or purchase pets (puffles), so it creates two significant draws for returning to the site.

  1. igloo envy - you come back to climb the social igloo ladder
  2. taking care of your pet - you have to play with your pet, give it rest and food for it to thrive.
I don't think the games are a good enough draw, although with Sony behind them this would be a natural place to contribute. Build those gamers early.

sciatica got you down?

I've had sciatica for the last two years after herniating a disc in my low back during a snowboarding accident. At times it has been bad enough that I could hardly move without excruciating pain all the way down my leg. I contemplated surgery but have held out in favor of alternative healing methods. I've had a number of friends who've undergone back surgery and almost all of them eventually regretted it.

If you are in the sciatica boat then this post is for you. A friend recently pinged me with a request to give some advice to one of their friends who was diagnosed with sciatica. Since I seem to meet people almost weekly who have had this painful condition I thought I'd post my response in the hope that it helps a few people out there.

I've got four things which have helped.

  1. walk a lot. If I take at least one 45 minute walk each day I feel a lot better. It gets blood moving in the lower back area which will loosen it up and will help deliver nutrients to the injured area to enable the body to heal itself.
  2. traction. Get an inversion table. Start out by hanging 3/4 upside down for a few minutes and gradually build up to 10 minutes twice per day upside down. Again, helps blood flow to the area, and also creates space between the lumbar discs. My sciatica is due to herniation at L5, so this helps greatly.
  3. yoga. Your friend could do pilates instead, but some kind of movement based yoga through a series of postures helps to create flexibility and stability in areas where it's been lost. The lack of flexibility in those areas contributed to my injury.
  4. IMS. This doesn't work for everyone but worked for me. It involves deep needle therapy along the back and legs. This resets the muscle-nerve interaction. Sometimes sciatica gets into a nasty feedback loop where the nerve fires due to trauma and becomes hypersensitive. It then continues to fire from the slightest irritation. I'm currently getting IMS treatments at the Centeno Schulz Pain Clinic in Westminister, Colorado.

Net is that I was practically unable to walk last May and this year I'm training for triathlons. The non-surgical route does take some time though and will go through lots of ups and downs, so he has to be patient with it. Good Luck!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What are you doing?

That's right. I've become Twittified. I'm sure some of my friends would tell you that happened long ago, but this time it's for real. In this odd age of making ourselves more transparent, I've joined the Twitter revolution and have started posting semi-intimate details of my daily comings and goings for the amusement of someone out there. I believe we do this as a head nod to the digital age, acknowledging that privacy has been left behind, steamrolled by the progressive march of digitization. Who among us remains anonymous? Even my mom leaves behind a click stream that can be analyzed and categorized.

Anyway, I've added the Twitter Badge up on the blog, so it's easy to monitor my day 140 characters at a time.

Entourage the program, not as fun as Entourage the HBO series

No, I wouldn't thank you. No really. No, I'm not freakin' kidding. Go away entourage. [Force Quit].

I accidentally clicked on the Entourage icon at which point the application (that I haven't been using for about a year now) fired up and wouldn't go away. I kept clicking on "cancel" but it would just repeatedly pull up the same dialog box. I had to "force quit" to get out. It's like a virus...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Al Gore running for president?

I attended a meeting of the National Organization of Investment Professionals (NOIP) yesterday in Washington DC. My CEO, Don Springer, sat on a panel discussing the future of alternative research and did a great job. There is a sea change going on regarding the dissemination of research information. Dollars spent on traditional research are declining while alternative research is increasing. This is on the same scale as advertising spend decline in traditional news while increasing on-line. So this was a very timely event for us with lots of good discussion around the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on new forms of research and research delivery.

The other discussions were focused on legislation and the 2008 election and how it could impact Wall Street. It seemed that the consensus was the republicans were on the run and in a bit of disarray. One Washington insider still believed that McCain has the best chance of winning the GOP nomination. On the democratic side, he felt that Obama would eventually fade because the Clinton campaign was just too experienced and tough and would "eat Obama for lunch." One of the funniest quotes though was about Al Gore running. He said that Gore is the dark horse and certainly has the popular capital to make a serious run for the nomination and the presidency (didn't he already win the presidency once?) but that Washington folks were keeping an eye on Gore's wasteline, "If he loses 20lbs in the next few months, no later than August or September, he's probably going to make a run for it."

The truth in that observation is absolutely hilarious.

the importance of cafes

Statistical evidence suggests a correlation between caffeine and startup company success. I was sitting at a local coffee shop in Boulder this morning, going over some thorny research issues and wild ass product ideas with one of my lead engineers when it occurred to me. All of the companies that I've been in that have been successful have had close proximity to good coffee. The thesis would be that the further your company is from good coffee the less chance you have of success. We would need to further constrain this thesis to high tech companies, since this is the only industry in which I have a reasonable amount of history.

This is somewhat akin to the correlation between ice cream sales and warm weather. Where good coffee shops exist with free internet, good techies exist. It is the natural habitat of the tech savvy, high energy, startup type.

Within two blocks of my office there are 4 really good coffee shops. Success is just around the corner :)

My favorite is The Cup at 15th and Pearl.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Key Man Insurance

In the midst of negotiating a series B round of financing for our company, one of the term sheet requirements was to get key man insurance on the founders. The reason for getting the insurance is that theoretically the business would suffer a significant and potentially life threatening loss if one/all of the founders snuffed it. Wikipedia has a fairly concise definition here. The amount is fixed, so it will be interesting going through the exercise of determining how much coverage is needed (how much am I worth vs. other founders). I'm kidding of course, but do want to know how the amount is determined.

On a side note, this insurance policy in no way covers the buy out of my shares from my estate in the event of my death. I'm told by my attorneys that this is not often done because if the company is still a good bet than the estate would be better off with the shares. I'm not sure this makes complete sense, since the investors want the company to take out Key Man insurance on the assumption that the company may not be as good of bet in the event of a founders death, but I'll mull that one over for a bit.

One thing that has become more popular is the creation of a vesting trigger in the event of death. I've heard this mentioned recently after a company co-founder nearly perished. The next company they started, they put this trigger in place. Certainly makes sense to me.

24 on the rocks?

Has season 6 of the series 24 lost it's way? I think so. This season started out very strong, IMHO. About mid-way through though it wavered, bordering on soap opera drama. Jack's dad and brother are evil, although the dad seems too conflicted (guilt?) to kill Jack as cold bloodedly as he has his other son. The presidency is in constant turmoil now, with trysts and insider plots to kill the sitting president, while that president has now fallen back into a coma. ridiculous! Even Jack seems to have had a fling (or near fling) with his sister-in-law. Yuck! The crowning piece of dullness is bringing Audrey back from the dead as filler for the rest of the season. The writers have been very good in the past, but I'm not sure they're going to be able to dig themselves out of this hole.

My script for season 6 begins with Jack still in the chinese prison, but with no outside help over about 4-6 episodes figures out how to escape his captors (ala Prison Break). The next 17 or so episodes follow Jack's chaotic flight from China with increasing help from a subcast of previous season characters. The season ends with Jack back on American soil among friends and at peace. There are no nukes, no terrorists, just Jack mano y china. This would be a set up for a climactic series ending 7 where Jack dies a hero's death in a 2 hour finale thus properly ending his conflicted, tortured, heroic life.

pull your banner ads until google does a better job