I was at the Americanarama concert in West Palm Beach, FL. Wilco was the main reason I went and I was in the second row at the start of the concert. They open with From My Window Sad and Lonely. This song was on a compilation of Woodie Guthrie lyrics that Billy Bragg and Wilco put to music. So I start filming the show the same way I did at Bonnaroo and the security guy starts beelining for my phone. Oh well — still a great time.
Relationships have certainly changed since I was a kid. I remember being in Jr. High and asking a girl if she would “go with me”. Then you would hang out, hold hands and if you dared you would kiss. Since we didn’t have smartphones, texting wasn’t invented but if it existed I am sure we would have used it. Instead we passed notes. We would fold them into these triangle shaped footballs and shoot them over to our new found loved ones.
Remember “pen pals”? I never had one, but from what I am told people would write to complete strangers matched up by an intermediary somewhere else in the world. Smartphones, Skype and Instagram has changed all that, theoretically bringing us all closer together. Pen pals have morphed into “text pals”. But are we really closer?
Can you have a relationship and not spend much time physically or even face to face with a person? I thought it was impossible until I saw it happen to my 12-year old son. Last summer he met a girl that actually paid attention to him. He saw two girls on a bus during summer camp as they were headed on one of their field trips. The girl he initially talked to gave him the brush off and said something like “what are you looking at”? Her friend smiled at him.
He hated going to this summer camp but this one particular girl would laugh at his jokes and was just patient enough to overcome his anti-social youthfulness. After camp they became instant “text pals”. They would stay in constant communication with each other both through private text messages and on Instagram. They shared photos and feelings on what was happening in their separate lives, but in an odd way they were connected. They had a bond that is hard for a forty-something to comprehend.
It was nearing summer break again this year and my son was adamant that he was not going to return to this one particular camp. Until he received a text from his text pal about the camp, he agreed to go, they decided upon the date and it was settled. At last, they would once again see each other in person and not merely through an electronic medium.
It was Monday night, and my son was texting his friend simple things like “how was your day?”, “so excited about camp”, etc, etc. He would say things like “luv u, as a friend” and she would write back, “LOL ik” (“i know)”. This is how their digital banter would go. Shortly after this exchange my son’s friend had a massive stroke. She was rushed to the hospital where she was moderately stabilized but then sent to a children’s hospital that deals with this type of trauma. She was in a coma, barely hanging on to life.
My son found out from my wife and was obviously sad, but hopeful. Lots of banter went back and forth both in text messages and on Instagram about the condition of his friend. Everyone was providing prayers and hope. My son was called out as someone who didn’t know her because he went to a different school and was one year younger. He was somewhat hurt by this but continued to give his support through this digital means of love and affection.
My son kept his phone in his room that night hoping to get some news. He texted her saying that if you get this and respond I know you are Ok. She died that night on May 22nd. He found out from a classmate at school the next day. He was devastated. He vacillated between crying intensely to being in deep thought about it, to forgetting about it and being a kid again. Then the cycle would start all over again. He had lots of questions for us; how many people do you know who have died? Did you know any one who died when you were a kid? Tough questions and big emotions to rationalize for a 12-year old.
His friend wrote 40 factors about herself on Instagram. One of the things she said is “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. Tonight my son said solemnly that she won’t get the chance to find out.
How do you help a child who has lost someone special to them? My mom, who is a psychotherapist, is trained in crisis management. She deals with family crisis situations frequently. She said that one of the first things kids think about is “will this happen to me”? It is so rare for a child to die, especially from a stroke. It is so sudden, so unexpected. Children must be comforted, especially at night and given reassurances that they are Ok.
The second thing that helps is having the child express their feelings through art, music and writing. Have them paint or draw a picture depicting a fun experience they had with the person that passed away. If they are capable have them compose a song or write a blog post or poem about memories they have about that person or how they are feeling.
Raising a child is hard. Dealing with trauma or emotional stress makes it even harder. For us, dealing with the situation openly and honestly seems to be the best way to handle the it. When you feel like crying cry, if the child wants to talk be ready to listen. But continue to support them and remind them that they will be Ok.
When I was 13, I played my first real piano recital. I had done some smaller ones before at the beginner level when I was younger. This time I was playing a “serious” piece by Beethoven and many of the kids in the line-up were older and had ambitions of going on to Julliard or majoring in music in college. I had prepared for the recital and could play the piece by heart, but when it was my turn I played a few bars and then I froze. I couldn’t remember the piece. My teacher had to come up to the piano, sit down beside me with the sheet music and coach me through it in front of everyone. I was mortified and I quit. I am not sure if quitting was the right decision, but my heart didn’t seem to be in it at the time and I moved on with my life.
Fast forward 35-years and now its my kids’ turn. Both of them had entered their schools Evening of the Arts recital where the kids have to choose a music or dance composition, perform before a panel and if selected they get to participate. My daughter and two other girlsÂ choreographedÂ a dance number to a One Direction song and did great.
My son last to go. His choice? Firework by Katy Perry on sax.
He had played the song in front of friends and family a couple of times and was pretty comfortable with it. Just like I was prior to my recital. But the few hours before the show his stomach was in knots and so was mine.
Seeing how nervous he was and the anxiety he had built up while practicing before the show took me right back to that place in 1977 when I was a nervous wreck and I froze. As a parent the emotions are “please Lord let him perform, let him be free of his fear and just play his heart out”.
Well he nailed it!! Â The audience went nuts after his performance. When the headmaster got up to address the school after the performance he asked the crowd to “give it up” again for my son.
Fear and quitting are interesting things that should be confronted and examined every day if you are going to live a fulfilled life. I can’t say what would have happened to me if I would have stuck with piano and pushed myself through The Dip as Seth Godin coined it. I decided to guit taking piano lessons at 13 and pivot. I played in a band in college and found that I actually liked playing again. I am now enjoying life as a husband, father, entrepreneur and lover of music.
If I can do anything for me kids, it would be to continue to provideÂ positiveÂ reinforcement, to get them to face their fears and to help them understand that the decision to power through the dip or pivot is perfectly normal.
I backed my very first Kickstarter project about six months ago. Being a noob at this I wasn’t sure what to expect, but since Seth Godin had gained my trust many years ago I was comfortable plopping down $360.00 for the ability to get copies of his latest book, The Icarus Deception, a 250-word blurb written by me in the Kindle version of the book and other assorted goodies.
In classic Seth Godin style, the package I received was beyond my expectations. He definately delivered “WOW” when I began to unveil the contents of my Seth care package.
Unveiling of the box
8 hardcover copies of The Icarus Deception
“V” is for Vulnerability – 2 signed hardcover copies + 4 “This is my Art” bookmarks
Handwritten note from Lori Koop ceramic artist
Lizard coffee mug by Lori Koop
The Icarus Deception album – Seth said he always wanted an album cover with his name on it.
The big box. What is this?
The largest book I’ve ever seen. All of Seth’s blog posts from 2006-2012 with graphics.
This will give you a feel for how big it is. Picture taken next to a standard iPhone.
One of the best parts was seeing my name listed in This Might Work as one of the Kickstarter contributors. Now go make your art!
There are three things you can do if you want to improve your writing skills: 1). practice your craft, 2). read and 3). take notes from the pros. Tonight I was fortunate enough to experience #3 as we attended a speaking event that Carl Hiaasen gave to a group of environmentally minded kids called the RiverKidz. My two children are part of the RiverKidz, a group of youngsters who are interested in cleaning up the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. These bodies of water are being impacted in a very negative way by the fresh water run off from Lake Okeechobee in Florida.
Hiaasen is a native Floridian who has been writing fiction novels based in the state of his birth since 1986. TheÂ satirist has written over 20 novels, two of which were made into full featured moviesÂ includingÂ Strip Tease starring Burt Reynolds and Demi Moore.Â Â Hiaasen’s sense of humor is quick and contagious. His mannerisms are very natural and flowing, not calculated or rehearsed. Since the audience was made up of a number of kids, he talked about the three children’s novels he wrote. After his talk he opened up the floor to questions. My son asked the first question. “Do you feel that you had a good childhood?” He seemed a little taken aback by the directness of the question but answered with a resounding “yes” as he was able to spend most of his time outside, riding his bike, fishing, hiking, hunting for snakes and exploring what was wilderness back in the late 50s in western Broward County.
He had some great advice for aspiring writers, both young and old.
1. Read a lot…as much as you can. Aside from being a best selling author, Hiaasen still writes a weekly column for the Miami Herald. To stay current with issues he told us that he reads three newspapers per day.
2. Write a lot too. Pretty obvious sure but he said if you want to write you need to train the writing muscle and the best way to do that is through journaling. He encouraged the kids to write down at a least a few sentences each day about what was on their minds and what they did. He said that after a few months you would be amazed as to how much improvement you will see between what you wrote say a few months ago and what you write today.
3. He then talked about what he seemed to consider his key to success. Never write your ending before you begin. He feels that character development is the most important part of the process. He builds characters in his mind, commits them to paper and then builds upon them, shaping their personalities throughout the book and potentially from book to book. Much to the chagrin of all of the English teachers in the audience, he does not start with an outline. He starts with the characters and lets the story build around them. He doesn’t feel that writing would be very fulfilling if he has the ending figured out before he writes. He lets stories evolve and admitted that he has no idea how a book will end until he ends it. He creates interesting characters and then lets them write the story.
The Grand Canyon is truly of the national treasures of the United States.Â Nearly five million people see theÂ 1 mileÂ deepÂ Grand Canyon each year. This photo was taken near the South Rim overlook. The double rainbow was an added bonus. This is the place most tourists visit.Â A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim,Â which lies just 10 milesÂ directly across the Canyon from the South Rim.
Why just look at it through a lens, right? Not good enough for us. We decided to take on the rim to rim to rim (aka Death March) challenge. We wanted to hike from the South Rim to the top of the North Rim and then back up the South Rim in less than 24-hours.
Don’t want to read all of the gory details? Skip to theÂ Just the Facts. I’ll be bummed but not offended.
At the beginning of the year I started doing the P90X2 workout program. I had done P90X (kind of at my own pace) and wanted to try out the new one. In my mind there was no correlation between preparing for the Death March and doing P90X2. But during the hike it became clear to me just how much that workout program helped me. First and foremost, it was the upper body strength I gain from it. Strange that this would be useful on a long hike, but when you are in those 4,000 feet stair climbing ascents, your hiking poles will become your best friend. Get good, light and sturdy hiking poles. I relied on them a lot, especially during the South Kaibab ascent.
Outside of P90X2, the main training regimen used by me and the guys I hiked with was stair climbing and taking long hikes on the weekend. We live in Florida, which doesn’t have terrain conducive to training for 4,000 foot elevation changes. So we took to the stairwells. Stair climbing as a training exercise is both grueling and boring. Trapped in a hot and humid stairwell with your closest friends for a couple of hours on the weekend is anything but glamorous. But its effective and although it didn’t fully replicate the ascents we were about to encounter in the canyon, it did help to build up leg strength and endurance. Long practice hikes are also useful. It gets youÂ acclimatedÂ to being on your feet for a long period of time, carrying a pack and ensuring that you are drinking and eatingÂ adequately.
The Death March
We did the hike on Saturday, Oct 13th. Although we had up to six guys in our training routines, only four of us actually hiked the Death March. Two of the guys had done it before which by definition makes them more insane than me and the other first timer. The day before it had rained most of the day and was cold. That night it dropped into the low thirties on the south rim. This really concerned us since we were starting at 4am. We had a big pasta dinner at El Tovar the night before and we saw some spectacular views as sunset approached. The double rainbow in the canyon made me feel that things were going to be Ok the following day.
We started out at South Kaibab Trail – Elevation 7,260. There is no water on this trail so we had planned to drop some Gatorade and food at about the midpoint of South Kaibab.Â It was in the lower 30s when we started . I had four layers on top and windbreaker pants over my convertible hikers. Furthermore, I had gloves, a knitted cap and neck warmer. I was nice and cozy when we started, but once we were a mile or so down I started to heat up pretty fast. I was sweating to the point that I drenched my silk base liner. There was also a concern about ice on the trail, so we had mini cramp-ons as well. As all hikers know, whatever you carry in, you carry out. So we paid a high price in carrying the extra weight around.
After about an hour in we hit Skelton Point which is mile marker 3.0 on our hike. Here we dropped food, our warm clothing and cramp-ons. We put our food in Tupperware and marked them with our names, the date and reflective tape. We wanted to make sure that anyone else who happened upon the stuff knew we were coming back to fetch it. We also dropped Gatoraid here, since we knew on the way back up that South Kaibab had no running water. In hindsight we took too much food. We made three food drops. Lots of hikers do this trip without dropping any food. Even though you can burn up to 10,000 calories on this hike, your body can only absorb about 3,000 calories per day.
We got to the bottom of South Kaibab in two and half hours. The views ofÂ 6.3 Black Bridge and the Colorado River are spectacular. We crossed the bridge over toÂ Bright Angel Campground where we made another food drop. This is also a good place to change clothes if you need to. A fresh pair of socks always feels great. This is where I had the first of peanut butter and jelly meals.
At 7.7 miles into the trip is Phantom Ranch where we replenished water our water. The elevation there is 2,460 feet. Since I live in Florida, I am not accustomed to these types of elevation changes. The elevation at my house is 40 feet.
The next 14 miles of the hike is the so called flat part. There is one area about halfway between Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood that some people call “Silly Hill”. WE decided to avoid this by taking the Ribbon Falls trail. You have to cross Bright Angel creek to do this. If the creek is running high you aren’t getting across unless you plan to swim. Fortunately for us we were able to hop across a couple of rocks in the creek to get over it.
Cottonwood Campground is 14.7 miles into the hike. This was our third and last food drop. There is water here, so I made a quart of electrolytes to last me until the next stop.
REST AREA with new bathrooms. The next stop which we felt was optional is , where we ate some more, refiled water and went to the bathroom. The bathrooms here are brand new and the best on the trail.
You start to experience the ascent when you leave REST AREA. Supai Tunnel is about halfway up North Kaibab and 19.8 miles into the trip. This was our third and final food drop. There is water and restrooms here too. We decided to leave our packs for the summit up to North Kaibab. It sure felt great to have a break from the packs, but we did run the risk of something happening to them. We each brought a water bottle, gloves and an outtershell in case it was cold.
The North Kaibab Trailhead is 21.5 miles and it put us halfway. The push up to the top was challenging. One of our guys was looking a little piqued according to the ranger up there. The elevation at North Kaibab is 8,250.
We only took a 15-minute break at the top of North Kaibab. Due to the elevation and open exposure, it was a bit colder. However we had to get some photos at the top before we get to do this all over again. So from there we made good progress back down North Kaibab. We retrieved our packs at Supai Tunnel, eat the food we stored there and then made the trek down to Cottonwood, with a quick stop at REST AREA.
One of our hikers started to feel poorly on the way down from North Kaibab. He was eating and drinking but he felt hot and then chilled. By the time we got to Phantom Ranch he was in pretty bad shape. We had some friends staying at Phantom Ranch and tried to convince our buddy to stay with them. He refused. So when we got about 30 minutes up South Kaibab he said “Guys – I am going to turn around”. We had a “we are all in this thing together” attitude. So when our buddy wanted to bail, we felt we had to go back down with him. Ask lots of convincing, he talked us into letting him go back on his own. He is an experienced hiker and he convinced us that he could make it.
And then there were three…so we started back up the very difficult slog to the top of the South Rim. I broke down the North and South Kaibab ascents into Hell 1 and Hell 2. I got through Hell 1, so now it was time slog through Hell 2. Your mind does strange things when your buddy is under so much stress combined with mind numbing monotony. For me tunes stream through my mind. The same tune over and over again. For me its was The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind”. Very appropriate for a trip like this.
When we got about 1.5 miles up South Kaibab we started to loser another buddy. He asked us to stop and after drinking some water he got sick to his stomach. I looked at the remaining healthy hiker with a look of “we lost one, now we are losing another one, what do we do now?” After he got sick we asked him if he felt better and he said “Yes” he just wanted to go slow and take breaks when we turn the corner on the switchbacks. So after 2-3 switchbacks we would stop, allow our buddy to drink some water and then start walking again.
About 2 miles up we saw this light coming up from behind us. The voice said “Move over”. We thought it was someone jogging up, but it was in fact our friend that we thought was going back down. What he did instead was simply lie down for 10 minutes, collect himself and then he started back up. He made good time and caught up with us since we were going slow to keep our other buddy engaged.
Back as a four member team we got reinvigorated to hammer out the remaining 4 miles. South Kaibab is switchback hell. You don’t appreciate this when you are going downhill because you are moving fast and feeling great. When we got to base of the South Kaibab we had been at this for 16-hours. Now it was time to make thatÂ final uphill push which took us over 5-hours.
When I saw the mule sign I knew we had made it. My buddies were like “big deal – its the mule sign”. But I remember that it was right near the top of the trailhead.Â We were at the South Rim by 4am and returned to the South rim at 1:21am. We hiked 43 miles in 21 hours and 21 minutes. Here are major waypoints.
Just the Facts:
We did NOT do the traditional 44.9 mile Death March that begins at the Bright Angel trail. We did the 43 mile South Kaibab Death March. South Kaibab is 1.9 miles shorter than Bright Angel (a good thing) but its a bit steeper and there is no water on the South Kaibab trail. Tip: Drop a container of water or electrolyte infused beverage at Skelton Point or some other landmark on the way down South Kaibab, so you will have something to get you home on your way back up.
We were at the South Rim by 4am and returned to the South rim at 1:21am. We hiked 43 miles in 21 hours and 21 minutes. Here are the major waypoints.
0.0 South Rim – South Kaibab Trail – Elevation 7260
3.0 Skelton Point (dropped food and clothes here)
6.3 Black Bridge / Colorado River (2:30 in) Lapped here on stopwatch. Second food drop at Bright Angel Campground)
7.7 Phantom Ranch (replenished water) Elevation 2460
(Tip: Want to avoid going up a hill and back down again? If so take the Ribbon Falls trail to avoid what some people call “Silly Hill”. Note: You must cross Bright Angel Creek. If the water is too higher you either have to turn around and go back or swim.)
14.7 Cottonwood Campground
19.8 Â Supai Tunnel (Third food drop – we actually left our packs here to for the ascent to the North Rim)
21.5 North Kaibab Trailhead (parking lot) Elevation 8250
Turn around and repeat. We finished the Death March in 21 hours and 21 minutes.
This week I came in close contact with what ails the once-pristine St. Lucie Estuary.
In 1964, I was born on that very river, in Martin Memorial. My family left Stuart before I was 1, but my mom tells me stories of how clean and pristine the river was almost 50 years ago. I returned to Stuart in 1997 and have lived on the river ever since.
My iPhone was accidentally dropped in the river one recent Sunday. It fell near my dock so I had an idea of where it was. I borrowed a 120-volt underwater Q-beam and dove down to find it. Even with the Q-beam, I still could not see my hand if it was more than 3 inches from my face. Unless you are a fish accustomed to living in total darkness how do you survive in that?
The only way I felt I could find the phone was to rake a 10-by-10-foot section of muck under the boat and dock. The bottom is so loose that it required little effort. I had a mound of muck around my feet and then I dove down and felt through all the rocks, oyster shells and muck that was raked up. Miraculously one of the handfuls of stuff included my phone.
Our river is in sad shape. I knew we had a problem. But I felt like someone else was handling it. However activism is required â€” standing by won’t solve this or any other issue that negatively impacts our community.
I would like to know from those who have studied this issue whether a practical solution is available to us.
I just spent the past couple of days wiring up a persistent data store in the mobile web app I am developing. I want to move the app with Phonegap to iOS and I realized that persistent data storage was a must. Even not being a native app, giving users of mobile web apps the ability to function when they have no or poor internet connectivity is a must if you are going to achieve a level of customer satisfaction that approaches that of a true native app.
So I didn’t read between the lines and I spent the past couple of days learning how to implement SQLite for the web. SQL is a comfort zone me and many of us who’ve been in this tech game for a while. The data I am working with maps well to tables and is easily manipulated with joins. I got my prototype working and when I stumbled across the raging debate over WebSQL vs IndexedDB.
NEWS FLASH: Web SQL was Deprecated in Nov of 2010. So I’ll admit I’ve been hiding under a rock but this debate continues to rage. I’ve been glued to the back and forth happening at HTML5ROCKS and this great thread by Kevin Dangoor on Google+.
For starters, html5rocks is where I found the most useful tutorial on developing a simple web database. They followed that up with a great post by Ido Green on how to migrate from Web SQL to IndexedDB. But man this move by the W3C just isn’t sitting well with people. I guess if I was a 20-year DBA and staring at the NoSQL tidal wave, I’d be nervous too. Personally I am just getting back into development after a longÂ hiatusÂ and find the rock throwing amazing but counterproductive.
I have been so lame on the blogging front lately. I’ve been consuming less and producing more with a number of projects I am in the middle of. I’ve been grooving on this idea of “scaling back for growth”. Can’t wait to start talking about it more here. Anyway, I’ve been using WPEngine on two projects, ExumaTech and HeroLaunch. The latter is a network of niche social media sites built on WordPress.
The migration to WPEngine has had its challenges, but the performance, along with a number of really nice features like a ready built staging area and restore points, has made it great. The picture below on the performance improvements as per Google Webmaster Tools speaks volumes.
These are the Crawl Stats Googlebot activity in the last 90 days.
So it takes about 1/10th the time to download a page. Thanks @wpengine.
About a month ago I entered the Four Hour Work Week App Empire Contest sponsored by Chad Mureta with an idea called StitchaVid. The contest was a great learning experience for me because it was the first time that I had really sat down and worked through the process of researching and designing an app idea for consumers. I am currently working on a business app that is nearing alpha, but I had never done a consumer app.
There were over 500 app entries and mine made it to the final seven. The seven finalists received a signed copy of Chad’s book App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life and Let Technology work for you. Here is an excerpt from the email we received from Chad:
I'm sending this message to a very select group of folks (only 7 of you, in fact) to say THANK YOU for the incredible effort you put forth in our recent contest on Tim Ferriss' blog. I was blown away with the thought and care each of you put into your entries, and I had so much reviewing everything you guys put together. You all made this whole contest idea worthwhile!
We're still wrapping up our final choices and deciding who the winner will be, but in the meantime, I wanted to offer each of you a free signed copy of my book. No strings attached -- just a small token of my gratitude!
I decided to step back from my StitchaVid app idea and let things simmer. After all I am running a business and nurturing a start-up all at the same time. The app is not relevant to either of those efforts. I’ve decided to NOT pursue the StitchaVid app. While I think the project would be fun, I believe it’s an expensive app to develop. Unlike an emoticon or flashlight app, a video production app would take some real development effort to do it right.
Even though I am not pursuing the app, the process I learned to research and design apps should serve me well in the future. It’s already helped me evaluate other app concepts that are more relevent to both my business and the start-up. So…I wanted to publically say Thanks Chad for the inspiration. Its not often that you read a post that produces 15-hours of productivity out of a reader.