Trying to Reach the Sun

Starting a business is hard.  There’s always the fear of failing and when things fail, the idea that it was all your fault and you could have done things better. It’s a shitty feeling.  That’s what struck me about this poem below was it celebrates the accomplishment before the failure.  I often think about the skiing mantra, “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” 

So, to all of you who are trying to reach the sun like Icarus, bless you, and keep on flying…

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Roger Ebert’s “Life Itself”

I recently finished Roger Ebert’s memoir, called “Life Itself.”  I really liked it.  I’ve always liked Ebert and his movie reviews.  He claims he writes every review with the thought of “be honest of what you saw and how you felt when you saw it.”  Somehow, in the process of doing so, his reviews were more than just a barometer of whether or not a film was good, but an interesting article itself. To this day, I always read the first and last paragraph of Ebert’s review before I see a film, and the rest of it after I see it.  He’s the only must-read critic that I know of.  


His book is a full reflection of his life. He covers everything – his childhood in Illinois, his job as a newspaperman, alcoholism, being a film critic, education, his romances, his relationships with actors and directors, and his views on religion and the greater cosmos.  Lots of thoughts are shared in a very frank and honest way, and it makes for an interesting read.  Ebert and I come from different generations but we share a passion for film and for pondering “the truth” and I appreciated leaning about how he’s developed his perspective as I could see a little bit of myself in him. 




Fixing WiFi

I normally don’t just repost stuff, but my cousin Sara sent me this story and I found it amazingly awesome.  Enjoy:

——————————–

IN WHICH I FIX MY GIRLFRIEND’S GRANDPARENTS’ WIFI AND AM HAILED AS A CONQUERING HERO.

BY MIKE LACHER

Lo, in the twilight days of the second year of the second decade of the third millennium did a great darkness descend over the wireless internet connectivity of the people of 276 Ferndale Street in the North-Central lands of Iowa. For many years, the gentlefolk of these lands basked in a wireless network overflowing with speed and ample internet, flowing like a river into their Compaq Presario. Many happy days did the people spend checking Hotmail and reading USAToday.com.

But then one gray morning did Internet Explorer 6 no longer load The Google. Refresh was clicked, again and again, but still did Internet Explorer 6 not load The Google. Perhaps The Google was broken, the people thought, but then The Yahoo too did not load. Nor did Hotmail. Nor USAToday.com. The land was thrown into panic. Internet Explorer 6 was minimized then maximized. The Compaq Presario was unplugged then plugged back in. The old mouse was brought out and plugged in beside the new mouse. Still, The Google did not load. Continue reading Fixing WiFi

Some things i’m changing in 2012

With the new year, i’m going to try to do some more things.  Here’s what i have in mind: 

Read More.
 I hit a reading rut in 2011 where i went a few months without finishing a book. This was for good reasons (i was pretty busy doing actual work), but I want to get back to reading a book a month. I’m already on a good path as i’m busting out Ebert’s memoir and also Lean Startup and i’m really enjoying both. 

Exercise More. I used to exercise every day and lately i’ve been finding myself at only 2 or 3 times a week.  I want to give crossfit a go and stay at 4 times a week for the entire year.  Some other goals are: biking to and from Boulder from Denver twice a month in the summer.  And, possibly, doing a triathlon if I can get back in the pool.  

Eating Better.   I still have horrible eating habits.  I eat portions way too large and i eat stuff that’s just not good for me (ahem, Domino’s pizza).  I haven’t been able to do smaller portions.  I think cooking will help this (see next).  

Cook More.  My goal is to cook at least once a month in 2012 (twelve times total).  I had the same goal in 2011 and failed miserably with only about 4 or 5 cooking attempts.  I’m looking forward to Liz’s blog (one that is going to tell me exactly what to make) helping me out here.  Hopefully I’ll be a master chef by the end of the year. 

These are my lifestyle goals for 2012.  You have any you’re doing that i’m missing? 


Looking back at 2011

Some things i’ll remember about 2011:

Steve Jobs’ Death & Legacy. As Esquire says…

No one ever died the way Steve Jobs died. Other people have died of cancer. Other people have died in the public eye.  But no one has ever died with the inexorable logic of their mortality feeding into a logic of expectation that they themselves created and aroused.

Reading about Steve Jobs in 2011 was a terrific experience.  He inspired me to take my passion in products to the next level.  He was truly a special individual and will be missed.

Mavericks vs. Heat. The stage was set: a team of underdogs who lost to the Heat in 2006 vs. a team of selfish divas. Down 2-1 and nearly 3-1, the scappy Mavs fought back and took the title in the most exciting NBA Finals I’ve ever seen. Continue reading Looking back at 2011

Steve Jobs Biography was Great

I just finished the Steve Jobs book and it was probably one of the most enjoyable books i’ve read in a long long time. I might say the past 10 years.  Here’s why:

Steve Jobs really cared about his products, deeply.  He had an intuitive feel for what the consumer wanted, and what he wanted.  He truly wanted his products to be close to art.   Even though very few in the industry believed him, even after the Macintosh had been around for over 10 years, he continued to hold on to this belief.  Each button, CD tray, color, and line was important to him. There’s a great passage in the book when he found out that the CD-ROM drive of a Mac was a tray instead a slot and it brought him to tears.

It was also fascinating to hear about the infant PC industry.  I had no idea how the PC industry started. I knew there was Apple and i knew there were was IBM but i didn’t understand how it emerged.  The narrative of the hobbyists building the board in garages makes sense to me, and i now understand.

I also didn’t understand how Jobs could get kicked out of his own company by a CEO and board that he selected.  But, after reading the story, i’m surprised he didn’t get kicked out sooner.   To hear of his return and his path back towards success was riveting.  Just a great story.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s enjoys Apple even a little bit.  Most people didn’t revere Jobs that much when he was alive (except, obviously the fanboys) but looking back at his accomplishments and commitment to excellence and innovation, we have to place him in the pantheon of business and product innovators.
I do think the world is a better place for having him here and i wish more people followed his path and held on to their dreams and reached for the stars.  It’s a great thing when it happens and actually works.




Allegory of the Cave

I was reading Nick Flynn’s new book The Ticking Is The Bomb and he recites in the Allegory of the Cave which came from a Plato dream.  

In this dream prisoners, locked-up in a cave since childhood, are chained in such a way that they cannot look away from the wall they are facing.  Even their heads are fixed, somehow, in that one direction.  Behind the prisoners, some still children, is a walkway, sightly elevated, and along this walkway the jailers, or their assistants, carry various objects back and forth.  Beyond the walkway a fire burns, continuously, a large fire, and this fire casts light onto the objects, which then cast shadows on the wall for the prisoners to contemplate.  The object might be something benign, a bunch of carrots, say, but as a shadow the carrots can appear frightful – each could be a knife.  Or an apple could be a rock that could crush a man’s hands. Or his son’s testicles. Or a jar of milk could be a jar of acid, if all one sees, all one is allowed to see, are shadows.  And the jailers grunt and snort, sounds that echo off the walls and so seem, to the prisoners, to come from the shadows themselves.  And don’t forget the fire, which makes another sound, and which heats their backs, perhaps too much, and fills the cave with smoke, making it hard to breathe.  It must seem a little like hell, with its silent goons carrying menacing shapes, with your head strapped into place, though this allegory comes from a time well before we perfected our modern-day concept of hell.

I have found this to be quite true in startups as well.  If all you see are TechCrunch articles or tweets of possible competitors, you can’t help but imagine the worst.  All you can do is try to get out of the cave and into your customers offices and work on actually solving problems and adding value.  The rest are only shadows.

Book: City of Thieves

After reading Toby’s suggestion, i picked up the novel City of Thieves by David Benioff. Let me tell you, this book is really great – one of the best books i’ve read in a long time. I bought for $4 used on Amazon – do yourself a favor and get it.

The story starts with a screenwriter (the guy who wrote 25th Hour) talking to his grandfather about WWII. It’s his grandfather’s story that takes us to Leningrad in 1942 when he was 17. He gives us the core story but then leaves the interview session telling Benioff, “you’re the writer, make it up.” And he comes up with a fantastic tale

It’s not that long but is still a great story of friends, war, snipers, girls, and a box of eggs. Read it

The Wire in Schools

There’s a good article in Slate about how the TV show The Wire is becoming a common item for professors to assign to college students.  Some schools have a whole course dedicated to it.  As many of you know, i’m a huge fan of the show and can understand why profs would use it.

One of the professors teaching a course on the show is the sociologist William Julius Wilson—his class, at Harvard, will be offered this fall.  He says,

Although The Wire is fiction, not a documentary, its depiction of [the] systemic urban inequality that constrains the lives of the urban poor is more poignant and compelling [than] that of any published study, including my own

That’s how badass the show is.  Anyone who hasn’t checked it out, should get into it.

iPad Thoughts

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about the iPad.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you can’t avoid the Apple madness.  I’m up in San Francisco this week and couldn’t help but feel the Apple riptide and get drawn into the hype.  So I watched the announcement and here are my thoughts

The iPad is super-duper slick.  I can see some great use-cases for it, such as:

  • If i was pitching a presentation to someone at a restaurant, in an elevator, or anywhere – the iPad would be a much better way to present the presentation than a laptop.  I could see it becoming a must-have for entrepreneurs
  • If i had kids and a family room with lots of people, having a family iPad that people use publicly would be great. Anyone in the family could us it in front of the TV or as the home iTunes download system for movies and TV shows that syncs with their AppleTV
  • Games. This could be one of the most sick gaming machines. It has the graphics, accelerometer, and connection needed to really be badass. I could see someone making a truly unique iPad gaming experience.

All these great ideas and reviews make me love the iPad but i’m not going to get one.  I’m not feeling it yet (not because of the video joke and jokes) and here’s why

  • i have an iPhone and i have a Macbook. I’m not feeling a huge need to have an iPad. If i did, i would want to replace my MacBook and i don’t think the iPad is powerful enough to be a replacement yet. I want all my songs on it (need more than 64 GB) and i want to run a browser and email at the same time. Until those happen, my laptop is vastly superior.
  • The A4 chip seems like a bad idea.  No way Apple is going to consistently be better than Intel or AMD at making low power chips.  Maybe they can now and early billions from it, but it can’t be a long-term solution
  • No camera bums me out.  I’m not sure but i think I’m going to want to take pics with the iPad. Maybe not but i like video skyping and i like taking random pics.  Give me a camera

If you know, you know that i feel that i’ve seen the future. I know what i want and where i want Apple to take me.  It’s this:

  • I want an iPhone device that has huge storage, enough for music (b/c i don’t see cloud music solution for another 5 years), and a fast enough processor that i can put all my files on it and use Google Docs and Dropbox for shared files
  • A portable keyboard and docked monitor so i can plug my phone into them and use it as a desktop computer when i’m at home or at work.
  • Over time, the files get saved more and more in the cloud and my phone become a portable processor, harddrive and network card.  That’s all

I saw with the iPad a keyboard doc and saw this future is coming.  It’s coming but slowly.  i can’t wait