To Austin and Back

It’s been a busy week around the homestead. Or beyond the homestead really. Down to the south 40 in the grand ole city of Austin, Texas for a week long company retreat. Why, you may ask? With a company full of consultants scattered all around the country, getting everyone together for a few days a year is a great way to actually get to know the rest of the team. It’s incredibly helpful and allows a lot of interaction we wouldn’t normally get.

For this retreat, I scheduled a photo/video shoot with everyone to get new headshots as well as good interview footage of who we are and why we do the work we do for nonprofits. I was truly amazed (as I am most days) of the incredible people I get to work with. This crew has skills to work at any company, and they choose to apply them at a company dedicated to serving the needs of nonprofit organizations. Thanks for building up a company that people can believe in, Keith. It works.

I’ve also gotta give huge props to Marcin and Tara from ManMadeMedia for all their work on the shoot. If you ever need video work done, give them a call first. From beginning to end, they know their stuff and make it happen without a hitch. And Marcin will change the way he says his name every single time he says it if you are not careful. Great shoot, great footage, lots of editing to be done. Let’s do it.

After an exhausting week at the retreat, what do I do next? Come home, relax, get some sleep? Heck no. I got off the plane and grabbed a shuttle directly to Lost Lake Lounge to catch SF1 (and the amazing Candyman) and Julie Almeria for her birthday show. Love those crazy kids. So much talent all packed into those energetic bodies. Of course it was a class reunion with a ton of the friendlies from around town in attendance. Happy night.

So that was Friday night, Saturday night is time to rest up, right? Oh no. Saturday night is family concert night with Rob Drabkin’s birthday show at the Bluebird Theater. SHEL was there as well so it was another great show. Love seeing Rob’s dad join for the gigs. Aimee was photographing the show, so LilF and I got to hang around and enjoy the scene for a bit. The Bluebird has changed a ton from the porn theater it was when we first moved here! The whole Colfax strip has had a massive evolution. #winning

Now it’s time for sleep, right? Not quite. You see it was also the king of the local music DJ’s birthday, Alf! For his birthday he was spinning an all star gig with his 45 + 1 sets back at Lost Lake, so we walked back up for that. Again, more friendlies, more fun. For the unaware, Alf’s 45 + 1 gigs are great. He spins some great discs while a local artist riffs with it in their own special style. Saturday there were members of the Flobots, Epilogues, SF1, Eldren, and on and on and on. Great lineup all night. After that, members of the Sound and Color got together with Josh Lee for a set of something new. By this time, I was spent, so finally went back to the homestead for some resting before the Bronco game (fail).

Denver and the Front Range has a great music community. Bands and musicians from Colorado Springs up through the amazing scene in Fort Collins all cross pollinating and making great music for us. Large fun sandwiches for all. Really looking forward to the SpokesBuzz stage down at SXSW this year. Jam packed with Colorado bands, it’s going to be a damn amazing week.

Monday was MLK day, so LilF and I headed out on a beautiful day to Denver’s stellar march/parade – marade – to celebrate a man we should all know more about. As I looked at the over 30,000 people around me, it occurred to me that we are in a strange transition point. A good portion of the crowd were alive to witness Dr. King in person, many had even marched with him in years past. Others have only heard of his legacy through books and videos from our history classes. The spirit of his message was still alive in all of us, though, and while some of the younglings probably didn’t quite get it all, the vibe clearly touched everyone. We marched together down Colfax Ave, united and strong, talking about the challenges we still face so many years later. The fight isn’t over, but there is still hope within so many of us. The dream will be realized in time. Sometimes it feels a lot farther off than others, but we’ll get there.

First weekend

Starting off this year with a smooth warm up of variety. I was still recovering from illness through the New Years Day football, but was able to watch a great match between Tottenham and Chelsea. Great comeback from what started off to be another let down for the Spurs. There is hope yet.

For Friday, we took the whole family to the Bluebird theater to see Post Paradise, Calders Revolvers, Tommy Freed & The Sound, and Volitilles. One day, LilF will appreciate this, we hope. Or his friends in prison will like us.

For Saturday, after working on filming a super cool video project for LilF we decided to do something more regular, and went to see Annie in the theater, and I’ll be honest, I cried. When will I get to see a movie that doesn’t make me cry? Do they make those anymore? Sheesh.

Sunday was all about shoveling snow, running the dog, and helping LilF with the production of his video. Looking forward to seeing it all come together.
Back to work this week! Let’s go!

Back and Forward Again

Sure, sure. Every year I do this little ritual of looking back over the past year to reflect on what was good, bad, interesting, boring, useful, or somewhat less than useful. After that I look forward to pick out a few things to focus on for the coming year. It’s not the most exciting ritual, but it’s mentally necessary.

Looking Back – 2014

2014 was generally a good year. Let’s take a look.

  • I kept the same good job for the full year, making two years straight at the same company. As volatile as the job market has been, I’m happy with this.
  • I finished up teaching at FRCC. I’ve been teaching there for about 8 years I think – Game Design, 3D Animation, Photoshop, Capstone. I’ve had great students and learned a ton, but it’s time to get back to doing some things. Time is never our friend, is it. I’ll still be on the advisement board and help out when I can with mentoring my replacements, but I won’t be actively teaching for a while.
  • Reading more was important to me this year and I was able to read more for recreation than I have in the past. Not a ton, and a lot of sci-fi and cyber books. I left out the software manuals and blog series. They don’t really have interesting titles. I also left out the real paper and binding books that I’ve read and that don’t show up in my Kindle app. I tend to give them away and forget I’ve read them.
    • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (In progress, good but slow.)
    • Relativity: Special and General Theory (In progress, good but denser)
    • Post Human Series Books 1-4
    • Enders Game
    • Speaker for the Dead
    • Xenocide
    • The Sirens of Titan
    • Dune
    • Cyberpunk: Stories of Hardware, Software, Wetware…
    • Freedom
    • Mona Lisa Overdrive
    • How the Scots Invented the Modern World
    • Ready Player One
    • Sword of Fire and Sea
    • Rocket Surgery Made Easy
    • The War of the Worlds
    • The Time Machine
    • The Information: A History, Theory, Flood
    • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    • Sherlock Holmes: Complete Collection
    • Neuromancer
  • Not as many movies this year, even though LilF is getting older and interested in more movies. I’ve missed a ton that I’d love to see, but here are a few I’ve seen, some with LilF, some with the beautiful Aimee:
    • Guardians of the Galaxy
    • Big Hero Six
    • How to Train Your Dragon 2
    • Captain America: Winter Soldier
    • Xmen: Days of future past
    • Lego Movie
    • The Nut Job
    • Horns
    • Pompeii
    • Rio 2
    • Maleficent
    • Video Games: The Movie
    • BoxTrolls
  • We were able to go to ComiCon in Denver this year which was a blast!
  • Watching the World Cup this year was amazing.
  • I was able to travel some this year, but again, not nearly as much as I’d like. Aimee had a ton of trips this year, but me not as much.
    • Company retreat to Berekley, CA
    • Family weekend to Seattle, WA
    • Conference in DC
    • Los Angeles
    • Snow Mountain Ranch
    • Dreamforce in San Francisco, CA
  • Concerts – There have been a bunch of great shows and festivals this year including Tellerpalooza, UMS, Westword Music, Higher Ground, FoCoMX, Bohemian Nights, and Riot Fest. I haven’t kept track of all of them this year, tho. Check on Greeblehaus.com for photos of the ones that I’ve been to as well as the ones Aimee as been able to shoot.
  • What else, what else… There’s been a lot going on here at home and around our family, but it’s tough to keep it all in mind for the full year. Which brings us too…

Looking Ahead – 2015

I’m looking forward to 2015. It should be a good year. A lot of the craziness of the last few years with health and work has seemed to stabilize, so we are ready to mix things up again this year! There’s a razor’s edge between comfort and terror that is fun to glide.

Some random goals in no particular order:

  • Help LilF and Aimee find the direction and people they want to be. They are both in amazing times of change and growth. I’m here for them.
  • Figure out  how to cook more, both by making time and learning how to cook things. It really shouldn’t be that difficult. LilF wants to cook more too, so I can rely on him for encouragement too.
  • Take advantage of work flexibility. Travel more, see more, do more. Not expensive stuff, but just see and experience more. The world is out there, and cries out to be revealed.
  • Keep getting more and more input from more places. Reading, movies, music, lectures, events, podcasts. I always need more input.
  • Output – Create and build. Tired of having so many ideas that grow fungus. Fanplan, BandBeef, Pick the Weather, Live Streaming, Unity games, my music.
  • Support local music more this year. I didn’t get out to see nearly as many gigs as I wanted. We have a great scene in Denver that is well worth getting out for. I also want to do more to help the SpokesBuzz crew and other such entities. I don’t have to start from scratch for everything, do I? Most things, but not everything. :)
  • Be physical. Skateboard, bike, run, ski, wrestle, box, something, anything. I’m getting rounder by the second.
  • Drink good whiskey. Drink less, learn more. Denver Whiskey Club FTW.

And one of the most important things I need to do is make sure the people I care about know about it. Family, friends, bar buddies, concert crew, and more. All you wonderful people are the ones that I learn from and grow with. I look forward to another year with you all!

One step at a time

Every journey begins with a single step, and this year is no different. To start my journey off on the right foot, I took my first run of the year today. Not a big one, and I was dragging DogFrog most of the way, but I did it. We will learn and grow together, like rats, or cockroaches.

A New Adventure Begins

If you look back a few posts, you’d see that I was between jobs. I say was between because I have just accepted a position at a company that I am very very excited about. I have been hired as the Director of Marketing for Heller Consulting, a great company that helps non-profits do their caring work faster, better, and more effectively (and with less redundancy). There will be a bunch of new challenges, and new ways to apply all the work that I have been doing for the last 20 years or so, with an added bonus of lots of room for new ideas and creative solutions to interesting problems. Get ready for the brainstorms!

Like I typed already, I am very excited. I have been groomed by fate to be perfect for this position, and am looking forward to it like a frog looks forward to maggot transformation season. I do not have a long sticky tongue, but I’ll be able to make up for that. All I wished for this holiday season was a job, so now I’m set. I plan to spread my good luck around to as many as I can this season, and continue for the rest of the year. See you soon!

My superpowers

LilF and I have gotten into discussions about superpowers. If we could have any, what would they be? The discussion started with what one superpower would you want, and has grown to 3 powers, just to make it interesting. I think he has increased the number to make the conversation last longer, and to try to draw me out of my reserved shell.
We’ve been talking about this for about two years, and I am amazed at how his wishes have evolved and how sophisticated his powers are becoming. They used to be things like “I want to be able to turn rocks into black beans so we can eat them.” or “Make stuffed animals come to life.” or even “Make dull time go fast and fun time go slow.”
I like to ask him what he would do with his powers. How would he apply his amazing ability to the world we live in? His answers are always interesting and rarely the same, so I’m sure he considers these things for days at a time. “I’d turn all the rocks around a bully into beans and he’d get stuck, then when the ants ate the beans, he could go free.” “I’d send out the stuffed animals to be waiters so we don’t have to wait so long at restaurants.” “I’d make our breakfast last all day.”
I love that there is a logical structure to it all, but it’s new. It’s his own net logic where things are loosely coupled, related but not permanently linked, and fluid within a structure. When I don’t pick up on the structure, I get lectured that I am not paying attention, and I shouldn’t be so rude. It’s not being rude, you are just talking crazy, Professor Xavier. Move on to the next power. Sometimes I can’t help but ask odd questions just to be a moron. He gets so mad.
Now, they are getting abstract. “i want to make anything stick together.” “I want to be able to eat with my belly button.” I won’t tell his most recent because he’ll write that on his own blog, and I really couldn’t do it justice. It’s amazingly complicated and techy, so I just beam with pride every time he tells me and it gets more and more elaborate.
Since we’re talking about it, here are my chosen powers:
First, and the most lasting one for me is to be able to speak and understand any language. I use the term language loosely as any form of communication between beings. And to understand is to grasp and process the meaning and intent of the speaker, not just translate the words. Grasp the cultural tone and richness that saturates our ways of communication. Truly connect and communicate. That would be fun, and would make travel easier.
Second power, hands down is being able to fly. Up up and away and all that jazz. Weak, I know. Screw it. I want to fly. Fast. High. Loops and rolls. Blast through clouds, and dive through hurricanes. Watch an all day sunset, or run from sunrise until I see tomorrow. The day I can fly don’t expect me to be in town for a few days. I’m going to go talk to people, and tell them I can fly.
Third power for some reason has to be the ability to shoot marshmallows out of the palms of my hands. Ironman has jets, Spiderman has webs, and Yoda has the force. I want marshmallow shooters. Not high powered ones, just 5 to 10 feet maybe. And they would make that fun Pop sound when they come out too. Imagine talking with someone and Pop! Right in the forehead. Driving in traffic and someone cruises past Pop! In their car window. Flying next to a jet liner and roasting a few in the engine for the trip home. So much fun.
Oh well, unless LilF gets the power to distribute superpowers, I guess I’m stuck with my one unique ability- finding the exact wrong topic to bring up with new people I meet. But that’s another story.

I am nervous about Black Mountain Ranch.

I admit it. I am nervous.

I have never been on a ranch before. I have absolutely never been on a Dude ranch before. When I was in 2nd grade, we moved from the city to the country, right next to a 5 acre ranchlet that would get 2 or 3 baby cows each summer. I told my dad I was amazed at the size of the dogs in our new neighborhood. They must have had a different ranch for the adult cows, because after the first summer, we wouldn’t see them anymore. I think the big cows must have picked on the little ones, so this was cow pre-school.

Horses are different. I know all about them. I’ve been watching the Preakness since I was little. I’m from Maryland, you know. Can’t wait to see the jockeys in their bright outfits. BTW, no matter how many times you type it, Preakness never looks right. Anyway, horses are second nature to me. Jousting is the state sport in Maryland (although Lacrosse is the state TEAM sport, which was a pretty brilliant move, too). They no longer joust by knocking opponents off of their flying ostrich, but by riding a horse and putting a stick through a tiny suspended ring. Whoever the marketing team was that sold that package must have gotten a HUGE bonus. Amazing.

I am still nervous. I’m not sure what will happen at this dude ranch. I’ve seen City Slickers, but will I really be able to hack it? I’d love to just get put in a field and chop wood all day. That would be fun. I’m a good wood chopper. My favorite weapon is a battle axe, and if they don’t mind me drawing little orcs on the ends off all the wood, I’ll be happy as a Level 34 forester.

We’re going to Black Mountain Ranch. (@blackmtnranch) It’s a family run ranch near Vail and Steamboat Springs. They say our trip includes “unlimited horseback riding, an overnight pack trip, a longhorn cattle drive, whitewater rafting, fly and spin fishing, rifle and trap shooting, a trip to a local rodeo and so much more.” Cowboys had the life, for sure. Watching cows is great for the first month or so, but after that, they get to do all that other stuff. I’m sort of hoping the “more” part is some sleep after all that and the wood chopping. I’d love to be able to bring all my friends from around the country, meet up for a cattle drive, and then go home with a baby cow as a pet. Just kidding! That sounds like a script from some goofy movie with Ray Romano riding a motorcycle or something. Does sound fun though. Not the cow as a pet part. Those things are MESSY.

When I was growing up, my dad had a huge garden next to where the ranchlet cows lived, and every morning towards the middle of summer, he would go to the garden, pull out some weeds or plants that had already fruited, and give them to the cows. By the end of the summer and into harvest season (also known as child slave labor season), he would have tons of stuff for those pudgy moos, and every morning as soon as the sun would start to peak out from the horizon, those cows would be mooing like crazy at the fence, waiting for Dad to bring them some treats. Tomatoes, Brussels sprouts stalks, corn, cabbage, peas, whatever we had too much of. We had too much of a lot of stuff. The first year, Dad planted 52 tomato plants. 52. Do you know how many tomatoes comes off one tomato plant? We had 52. There are only 5 people in my family, and at the time, only 3 of them liked tomatoes. Mom learned how to can that first year, and 12 years later when we moved, we still had tomatoes from that first year in our larder. Dad gave tomatoes to everyone we knew every day. People would hide from him to avoid having to take more tomatoes.

“Hey Bob! Want some tomatoes?”

“Um…thanks, Carroll. I’ve got enough for a while. That last batch was so um…robust.”

“That’s what’s so great about fresh garden tomatoes. Robust flavor. Does your wife can?”

After a few years he got a handle on the whole quantity thing, but we still had more than enough to keep the cows coming back day after day. By the time fall came around, Dad would walk out into the yard and moo, and they would come running like Disney puppies to a milk bowl, except over 1,000 lbs each with rough sticky tongues. It was like being the son of Dr. Moolittle. Other kids could brag about their dads, but my dad was the hero of the biggest animals in our world. You should have seen the way they swooned at him with their big brown eyes and inch long eyelashes. Pure love. Sure it was love of the food he gave them, but love is love, wherever you find it. He loved those cows, for sure.

Maybe I’ve got the blood of a cowboy in me, after all. Hopefully my dad will look down on me, take pity on my sorry city ass, and guide me through the John Wayne plains of doubt into the Jack Palance palace of wisdom. No matter what, I’m looking forward to this trip like no other. All the above has been about me, my dad, and those cows, but this trip will be about being with Aimee and our son. Our urban son with his Nintendo 3DS and iPhone apps. Us with our Apple umbilical cords. And cows.

If he ever looks at me like I looked at my dad, at least for one day, I’ll be able to say “I am a cowboy.”