Tuesday, July 31, 2007


So I have been promising for awhile that I would talk more about the company I’m starting, and I’m sort of going to do that today, but mostly I’m going to talk about the difficulty of the transition. Not sure if it will be interesting or not, but you know that saying about getting what you pay for? Exactly…

So I had pretty much made my decision to leave the day job and cast my fortune in with this new company back in April. I think it’s safe to say that for the majority of people once you’ve made a decision to follow course Y in preference to course X, it’s really difficult to wait. You want to set forth in the new direction immediately. I am definitely in the majority in this respect in fact, in the past I would have found it nearly impossible not to immediately make the switch, but a tiny bit of maturity, coupled with a huge responsibility to my family kept me at the day job, but man it was difficult…

It’s more than just the desire to immediately set forth on this exciting new path. All of the bad things about the current situation are still bad, in fact they may even worse now that you have some concrete alternative to compare them to. And all the good things are no longer good, because you’re about to have to give them up. They may in fact be negative (you should have seen the crisis that was caused when the day job added a nice new benefit.) If that was all there was to it I’m sure I could have hung on indefinitely. But there was more…

Obviously one big thing was working two jobs. One can only work 12-14 hour days for so long, plus I think for myself it’s always been easier to work long hours when I could focus on a single project rather than splitting the day between two focuses and tossing a commute in the middle (I’m always amazed how long it takes me to get my mojo back when I switch from one work environment to another.) The other big thing is that having decided which horse is the winner you want to put as much money as possible on it. Which in practice means that every hour your working at the day job is a day you’re not building the company.

All of this taken together led me to the conclusion (which I think I already mentioned) that the sooner I told my bosses I was quitting the longer I would actually end up working at the day job. It’s still entirely possible that I played my hand too soon, though overall they’ve been very understanding in terms of flexibility and reducing hours, and it appears that I’ll be able to work the day job, at least part time, as long as I need to (benefits are a big deal).

Crossing the chasm, and I dropped my balancing pole

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jump Drive

Well my man Contador won the Tour, and there ended up being only 31 seconds separating the top 3 people on GC, the lowest ever. So it was a pretty exciting tour, but the real excitement this last weekend came from another source. You might think I’m talking about watching my sisters two kids, and indeed there was a lot of excitement having six kids running around, particularly since certain skills had to be relearned like fencing kids off, interpreting baby talk and everyone’s favorite, changing poopy diapers. But the big excitement came Saturday afternoon and evening…

I had gone over to one of my partner’s houses to work on the new company and so I had taken with me my 2 GB jump drive where I basically keep all of my stuff. Normally I put the jump drive in the change pocket of my pants, but the shorts I was wearing didn’t have a change pocket so it was just loose in the same pocket with my keys. On the way home the wife asked me to stop by the supermarket and pick up some milk. When I got home the aforementioned horde of kids kept me pretty busy, so it was awhile before I decided that it was time to pull out the jump drive and see if I could get some more work done. Well it wasn’t in my pocket….

Initially I didn’t panic because I thought I had remembered having it after I arrived home, but after thoroughly searching the house I decided that it must have fallen out of my pants when I pulled my keys out, either at the supermarket or in my partner’s driveway. So I hopped in the car and retraced my steps. The supermarket parking lot was pretty full, there was a car in the spot I had parked in and cars to either side of it as well so the visibility wasn’t ideal (also I had this somewhat irrational fear that it would look like I was preparing to steal one of the cars). In any case I looked around, already somewhat resigned to the fact that if it had fallen out of my pocket in the supermarket parking lot that I was never going to find it. That, mostly likely, someone would see it and pick it up, and if it avoided that fate there were all sorts of other fates ranging from being driven over to having a bird carry it off…

After striking out at the supermarket and my partner’s driveway I headed home to consider (and mope over) the enormity of my loss (ok, it wasn’t the end of the world, but for some reason data loss always feels like a punch in the gut). I had lost all desire to be productive, and I sat there half-heartedly playing a game of solitaire. Finally after my grief had left me nothing else to do but retire for the night, I decided I would drive out and look one more time, the theory being that the parking lot would probably be empty and that would make it easier to look.

Sure enough the parking lot was basically empty, but initially it didn’t appear that it would make any difference. Every unusual spot on the pavement ended up being a piece of paper or some gum. But then just as I was about to give up and go home I saw another piece of debris. Not in among the parking spots but out in the lane, sure enough it was my jump drive. It had obviously been run over by a car, perhaps more than one. The connector was somewhat flattened, and I feared that even having found it, that I wouldn’t be able to get the data off.

Well I guess I should never underestimate solid state construction. I used some pliers to straighten out the connector and plugged it in, and sure enough there it was, all my data. Needless to say I quickly made a copy of everything and I’m going to buy another jump drive. The old one seems like it's working okay, but I wouldn’t want to risk it going bad some day as the lingering wounds of being driven over by a multi-ton vehicle finally claim it.

Somebody up there is looking out for me

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

250th Post on Blogger

This is my 250th post on blogger. (I had 678 on the old system, so still a ways away from 1000.) One would hope that it would be a happy post, but instead it's just more bad news from the Tour. At work the company intranet is my IE homepage and Wikipedia is my Firefox homepage. I had just opened up Firefox, I'm not sure where I was headed, but the name Rasmussen caught my eye in the news section. Sure enough he'd been kicked out of the tour. Obviously no one is happy about this (least of all Rasmussen I imagine) but I'm glad it happened now rather than after the tour had ended (like last year). On top of this announcement it turned out another rider (Moreni) riding for the Cofidis team had tested positive for testosterone. Which meant the entire Cofidis team was out... *sigh*

There was one good thing about the Moreni test, he immediately admitted he was guilty and didn't bother to have them run the "B" sample. I honestly feel that if the guy confesses that there should be some room for lenience. In any case my man Contador is now in Yellow, but I'm sure that this is not how he wanted it to happen. In fact the Discovery team spokesperson said:

"We just heard the news 20 minutes ago, obviously, this is not good news. We are in no way celebrating. It's a major disappointment for us. It's going to reflect very negatively on the whole sport. We are quite shocked and upset about it.

Riders were just getting to bed when they heard the news. They have all heard the news now, and not one of them had a smile on their face. This is a sport they have all done for a number of years, and nobody is very happy about this.

Like I said I'm glad it happened now, I would have been happier (the opinion many doping officials expressed) if he had never made it into the tour. For any of you who don't want to follow the link the thing that finally got him was that when he was missing all those out of competition tests he wasn't in Mexico, as he claimed, but in Italy, working with a as-of-yet-unnamed doctor. Obviously it's hard to imagine any explanation for this deception that's not very suspicious.

Anyway back to Contador, yeah obviously you'd like to win out right, but allow me to paint you a scenario where he would have. All of Rasmussen's advantage came in the first day in the mountains when the major contenders let him go because they didn't consider him a threat. Had they known, I'm positive that Contador and the rest could have stayed with him. Add in Contador's flat tire (in other words assumed he finished stage 8 with Moreau and Valverde) and suddenly, even after the time gained by Rasmussen today, Contador is a few seconds ahead. I agree that this should-have-would-have-could-have scenario is not entirely convincing, but my point is, particularly when you look at how squirrelly Rasmussen has been, that there should be no asterisk next to the name of whoever wins this Tour (obviously I hope it's Contador).

I'm intensely interested in hearing Rasmussen's side of the story, but I imagine that will have to wait until tomorrow. I apologize that I haven't been blogging that much, and that when I have it's all tour all the time, (and I haven't even mentioned Vinokourov) but it ends on Sunday and then I'll fill you in with more details on the company I'm starting.

et tu Vino?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter 7

Well I took a brief break from starting the business to read HP7 over the weekend. As it turns out I’m mostly waiting on other people at the moment right now anyway, so it was a fairly ideal window. I don’t expect to get another one, in fact August promises to be pretty busy. As usual people who wanted to schedule something during the summer invariably realize, right about now, that it’s just about over and so everything ends up in August. Complicating matters the Bells on Temple Square have just asked my wife to be a permanent sub for their December Concerts (One that just them and the one with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir), so that’s every Wednesday night. Other than sacrificing the one night a week I couldn’t be happier for her, it’s an awesome opportunity.

In any case Harry Potter. Well I’ve never seen more people afraid of being spoiled, which is in fact one of the reasons I read it so fast, so that no one could spoil me. So other than to say that I enjoyed it, and that it was one of the stronger entries in the series I won’t give any kind of review (my sister panicked when I mentioned that the book had a powerful ending). I got my copy at Midnight on Friday. I showed up to the local grocery store at 11:20 and was 8th in line. By the time I left at 12:03 there was a huge line. But I’d hazard a guess that everyone still got a book.

The tour has been interesting. I started cheering for Alberto Contador from the first mountain stage and he’s been awesome ever since. It’s apparent now that the race for yellow is down to him and Rasmussen, since no one else can hope to match either of them as climbers. I really hope he wins, because my sense of the situation is that if Rasmussen wins it will end up being bad for the tour, and I’m not the only one who feels this way. Also these allegations are fairly disturbing as well.

My dad reminded me (with no small amount of glee) of my prediction that Rasmussen was not a real contender. And I freely admit that, like most people, I completely underestimated his time trialing ability. But I’m going to make another prediction, which if it turns out to be untrue will, I’m sure, be once again gleefully brought back to me. Rasmussen will not do as well in the final time trial as he did in the first one. There are a few reasons for this:

First, the initial time trial had more slope to it, which obviously plays to Rasmussen’s strengths. Secondly, the rain hit in the middle of the day, so the roads just kept improving, meaning of all the main contenders Rasmussen had the best roads. Finally there wasn’t as much pressure. On the first time trial no one expected him to do that well, few even expected him to stay in yellow, and with the Pyrenees still to come he could relax a little. On the final Contador (and even Evans and Leipheimer) are going to be close enough that he’s going to have to do really well again to win it all, and there’s not going to be any mountains left if he does poorly. I think the combination is going to cause him to falter, not as badly as he did in 2005, but bad enough that he won’t be as close to the top as he was the week before. I’m not necessarily saying he’ll lose the jersey, just that he won’t do as well as he did the week before.

Finally on the work front, word is starting to get around that my time is short. Lots of people have offered their congratulations, some have started panicking, but mostly it’s been very positive. I will definitely miss this place, in general, there are some people who if I never see again, it will be too soon.

Harry Potter wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette and discovers it’s all been a dream

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Doing something epic

Perhaps long time readers of my blog may remember my post from the end of last year (second post down) where I mentioned that I felt the need to do something epic in 2007. Initially my idea was to go on a really long backpacking trip, so the fact it morphed into starting a company means, I suppose, that it was simultaneously both very vague and very deep. A few months later a couple of people asked me to help them out with some side projects, one person wanted me to do some team writing and another wanted me to help him out with content for his website. I agreed to both, but shortly afterwards realized that I had probably a dozen side projects requiring various degrees of effort, and that if I really wanted to do something epic I needed to pick just one.

This seems self evident, but it ended up leading to a major epiphany. I always knew I didn't want to work at my current job for the rest of my life, that I wasn't a "lifer" as we call them, which is why I was prone to accept any side project that came along because I hoped that one of them would give me a way out. But by just casually committing to each of them I basically guaranteed that none of them would reach the critical mass necessary to give me the kind of out which would overwhelm the huge advantages of my current job (pay and benefits being the biggies). In other words if I was going to jump ship it would take one... epic thing, not a bunch of half-assed things.

So I looked around at all the different side projects I was involved with, and asked myself what would I choose if I could only do one. Well I have a couple of friends who are always doing one business or another, and they were in the very early stages of starting their next business. One of my dozen side projects had been helping them with market research and some other miscellaneous stuff but I hadn't made any big commitment. As is often the case when a business is starting, the people starting the business need all the free help they can get. In fact the only thing better than free help is free help and money. Which is where my next, totally obvious, epiphany came in. If I wanted to do something epic it might entail accepting a certain amount of risk.

Once everything coalesced I talked to my wife, about me quitting my day job to start a company with my two friends and the possibility that there may be a gap between when the day job stopped paying me and when the company started paying me, and that we might have to dip into our "reserves". That's when things got interesting, in a good way. She said, "Every other time you've talked about quitting your job I've been filled with dread, but not this time. This time I feel pretty good." I think that may have sealed the deal right there, but I did actually do a lot more thinking before finally deciding, but it did seem like the stars had aligned... I had found my epic task, the thing that people will still be talking about years if not decades from now... Well maybe not people but I'm sure I'll still be talking about it, as in: "Remember that time I bankrupted the family when I foolishly quit my incredibly stable, lucrative 9-5 job to start that ill-conceived business?"


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Tour crap

As I was watching the Tour coverage this morning the commentators kept saying that they felt that there were 9 people who were in a position to win the race at this point, and my prediction from yesterday was similar except I said 8, because I was, somewhat ironically, eliminating the person who currently has the race lead. Mostly because I remember Rasmussen’s time trial in 2005 (pretty sure that was when it was) one of the most disastrous performances in the 94 years the race has been around. Hinault (5 time winner back in the 80s) thinks that Rasmussen would have to get a lead of around 10 minutes to have any chance of holding off the others in the time trial, and based on the fact that he couldn’t match Contador, or even Evans on the Galibier I don’t see that happening.

So basically what I’m getting at is the time trials are going to be a big part of determining who wins the race. This morning the commentators broke the top group of 9 into strong time trialists, average time trialists and poor time trialists. The poor group included Rasmussen, Sastre and Mayo. The average group included Contador, Moreau and Valverde. The strong group was Evans, Leipheimer and Kloden. I broadly agree with this assessment, but I thought it might be interesting to look at the prologue results and see what they might reveal, in order of their current standings:

Rasmussen – 166th (out of 189 in the prologue)
Valverde – 32nd
Mayo – 109th
Evans – 17th
Contador – 15th
Moreau – 56th
Sastre – 92nd
Kloden – 2nd
Leipheimer – 26th

As you can see my man Contador was only beaten by one other person (though Evans was really close). So I’m inclined the think he’s going to do fairly well. Now I realize that a prologue TT is not the same as a long TT, but I think the numbers from the prologue are at least as good a predictor as what people did in previous years. Also after running these numbers and seeing how well he did in the Alps, I really like Evans’ chances. And furthermore based on these numbers I’m going to cut some more people from my list of possible winners. I’m cutting Moreau, Mayo and Sastre (they could still end up on the podium, they’re just not going to take it all). Which leaves us with a short list of five people: Valverde, Evans, Contador, Kloden and Leipheimer. Just wait, the winner will be one of those five.

I know I told you I’d be giving out tidbits of information about my new endeavor, and mostly I’ve just talked cycling. But I promise there will be a big long entry tomorrow about how I arrived at this fateful place.

Cycling vicariously

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tour de France Alps Recap

EDIT: Here's a video of the incident with the dog that I mentioned. And here are two more crash videos (the 2nd is from this year) Video 1 Video 2

Well the Tour de France had its final stage in the Alps today. It has been exciting. I woke up at 5:00 this morning to watch the coverage (which actually didn’t start until 5:30, but I was up and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep). After the half hour pre-race show they cut to the live action just in time to see a t-mobile rider run into a dog who had wandered onto the road. He tried to avoid it (obviously) but there were bikers to either side of him, so he ended up broad siding the poor dog. He hit it hard enough that the rim of his front tire crumpled. I expected the dog to be hurt pretty bad, but it got up (a lot quicker than the rider did) and just kind of wandered off, not appearing to suffer any discomfort, which is hard to believe, but perhaps the crumpling wheel absorbed most of the impact. I’ll have to see if I can track down the video and post it later (for my sister).

I’ve really been impressed with the younger riders on this tour; particularly Alberto Contador, who rides for Discovery. I’m starting to dare to hope that we’re seeing the dawn of a new drug-free (or at least accusation free) era. To give you an example of what’s impressed me. Contador was with the lead group on today’s stage, with all of the GC hopefuls and he put in a gigantic attack in the last 5K of the Galibier, and dropped everybody (Cadel Evans caught him briefly before being dropped again) we’re taking Rasmussen, Valverde, Mayo, Kloden and more. Now you may be thinking that he’s one of these pure climbers that will get slaughtered in Saturdays ITT, but he came in 15th in the prologue, which is nothing to sneeze at. So, as of now, he’s officially the person that would make me the happiest if he won it all. That’s not a prediction, that’s just what I would like to see. My prediction is going to be far more cautious: the eventual winner of this year’s tour is going to be one of the people currently sitting between 2nd and 9th place. And given that there’s only a 1:18 between all of them this could be very exciting.

To continue with the theme of the young riders, of the three alpine stages two were won by cyclists eligible to compete for the white jersey (best young rider). The first was won by Linus Gerdemann and today’s was won by Mauricio Soler. Neither are considered contenders for the overall victory (unlike Contador) but the fact that they could hold off the everyone else is still hugely impressive. Linus’ has a particularly funny story, he was coming to the top of the final mountain and he knew if he could get over it ahead of everyone else that he had a good chance to not only take the stage, but the yellow jersey as well. He had passed the 1 km to go banner, and was desperately looking for the 500 meter banner, not realizing that at the Tour de France (unlike other races apparently) they don’t have a 500 meter banner. Obviously it was a big relief once he hit the summit since up until then he thought he was going twice as slow as he actually was.

The summit is always farther away then you think

Monday, July 16, 2007

Big Announcement

Late posting, I might not have posted at all, but I did promise you a big announcement on Friday, and having already dropped the ball on the Tour de France coverage so I figured I'd better not disappoint you anymore. Anyway without further ado, the big announcement: Today, I told my boss (actually my bosses) that I was quitting to start a company with a couple of friends of mine. Yep I'm breaking out of the cube farm, flipping off The Man (not literally) and leaping into the abyss.

One of the advantages of leaving to start a company, rather than just leaving to go to some other cube farm (I actually never would have left where I was just for some other 9-5 job) is that I have some flexibility. So today wasn't my "two weeks notice" it was more, "my time here is coming to an end, and if you help me smoothly transition into being essentially self-employed, I'll help you smoothly make the transition into not having me around." My bosses really appreciated that, and I think the whole thing is going to end up being, to use a cliche, a win-win.

I'm sure at this point you want some details about the company. Well I don't want to blow all the excitement in one post, so the plan is to dribble out details over the next few weeks (plus it's probably not the best idea to just post the entire business plan on the internet). The dribble today involves the really positive reaction of the angel investors we'd talked to so far. One in particular who's already made a dump truck full of money off of his own businesses is really excited by the idea, to the point where he thinks we can set a valuation on it about twice what would normally be expected for a business of this type, because the plan and the idea are just that good...

Cliff diving into water of unknown depth...

Friday, July 13, 2007

I have failed my loyal audience

I've been pretty bad at posting lately. There is an explanation, but I expect that it will have to wait until Monday, when I expect to make a big announcement. I only recently realized the magnitude of my dereliction. Generally while the Tour de France is in progress I blog not only regularly but expansively. I can only imagine that there are people who are counting on me to keep them abreast of what's happening (I imagine that there is an even bigger group who uses this time as an excuse to take a break from reading my blog, but we're not going to talk about those people.) So I apologize, though you haven't missed much, the first true mountain stage is tomorrow, but this is not to say there hasn't been some excitement. I'll try to summarize it up:
  • Cancellara took the prologue and the yellow.
  • Robbie McEwen crashed hard right near the end of the stage, but still managed to catch up, work his way through the entire peloton and then drop everyone like they were standing still and take the stage.
  • Cancellara showed everyone why he deserves to be in yellow by riding everyone (and I mean everyone) off his wheel in the final 500 M and taking a stage.
  • Vinokourov crashed hard yesterday near the end and was never able to catch back up to the peloton and ended up losing 1:20 on the stage.
  • Zabel who just the day before said "I'm too old for this shit." (He's 37) stayed with the main bunch over the hills and took the green jersey.

Like I said you haven't missed that much. If you want some excitement tune in tomorrow morning.

It will be legen... (wait for it) ...dary!!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

All the way to the top

So every Saturday morning me and a buddy go on a hike. Thus far it's always been the same hike (something about being able to judge if we're getting any better), but we've never made it to the end of the trail, mostly because of time constraints, well this last Saturday we made it to the end. It was more tiring than I would have thought, the final hill was really long and steep. I ended up with really tired legs and a surprisingly tender achilles tendon on my right side.

Of course the big problem with something like that is that it's not just the time it takes to do it, but the time it takes to recover. I ended up having to take a nap that afternoon, so all in all, the day was not nearly as productive as I had hoped.

Apparently while I was hiking and napping, and being unproductive, what I should have been doing is seeing transformers. Everywhere I turn people are talking about it. My Mom (if you can believe it) liked it so much that she's volunteered to watch the kids for us while we go and see it...

The mind boggles

Friday, July 06, 2007


For the longest time I wanted to be a Science Fiction and Fantasy writer (to an extent I still do). And I'd like to say that I took a pretty good swing at it, and though I never did finish my novel I did learn a lot about how I write most effectively. At the moment I working on a side project which involves writing some provisional patents and interestingly enough the things I learned back in the day when I was working on a novel have just as much bearing on writing a patent. Before I pat myself on the back too much I should mention that I wasted a couple of days being mostly ineffective before I remembered what I already knew.

See my writing problem is that by default I try and write and revise at the same time. If asked, I'm certain I would deny that I'm trying to do the final draft in a single pass, but that's how I end up operating. What I discovered when I was working on my novel and what I rediscovered now that I'm working on the patents, is that it's much more effective to take 15-30 minutes and just write as fast as you can. As long as words are getting on the page you're doing great, forget about word order, misspellings, grammar, etc. Just get some version of what you're thinking down on paper.

Now of course this first vomitous draft is going to be pretty bad (though not as bad as you might fear), so that's when the revision starts, but we're still no where near the final draft stage. You're going to go through many passes over this stuff, each time you'll be doing a little less writing, and a little more editing. Now it may seem like doing all of these passes will end up taking way more time than just doing it right on the first pass, but at least for me, it's not so much an issue of which takes longer, but rather that the first ends up erecting an insurmountable wall that I never manage to get over.

Mmmmm.... Meat Twinkie...

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Well the last few days have been pretty crazy. Sunday-Tuesday the family reunion took up all of my time, and energy. Yesterday was the traditional Fourth of July breakfast, and when I got home I crashed for about four hours... I tell you the constant heat really saps your strength. I think my one critical mistake over the last few days was going on the Tilt-a-Whirl at Lagoon on Tuesday. For those unfamiliar with the ride, imagine a couch on wheels which rides around the edge of a circular pad about 4-5 feet in radius (a long arm connects to the center of the pad). Then this pad and dozen more like it spin over a wavy course. So in essence it's on of these rides that goes in a a big circle with each of the components going in smaller circles. But instead of rotating in a fairly fixed fashion this ride will sometimes spin slowly or not at all and sometimes spin faster than basically any ride in the park, and not always in the same direction either. In any case the upshot is that it made me really, really nauseated.

The high point (at least from a story telling view) was going on their new roller coaster, Wicked. The ride starts out with what they call a camel hump (yes I know the website is in German, but it's the best picture I could find). Where basically you shoot straight up 110 feet and then come straight back down. After that there's a half-pipe and a barrel roll, which are a lot of fun, but certainly the main event in terms of adrenaline, is the very first "hill". I definitely recommend it.

Well somehow the Tour de France has snuck up on me, probably because I'm still just so shaken by the revelation that Bjarne Riis doped when he won the tour back in '96, add Landis, Basso and Ullrich to all of that and it's really fairly depressing. Of course there are bright spots. Levi Leipheimer will be the main guy for Discovery and David Zabriskie who's actually from SLC, has been looking really good in the mountains at both the Giro and the Dauphine. My dad is similarly despondent and has decided not to engage in our annual bet, which maybe the saddest part of all...

I'll still watch, just with tears in my eyes

Monday, July 02, 2007


Well I'm in the middle of another family reunion, fortunately all I have to do is attend this one, other people are running it. It's also on my wife's side. They've decided to do a series of one-day activities. Yesterday was the dinner at Grandma's house, today is a visit to some park, and tomorrow is Lagoon (the local amusement park). I confess that I'm really worried about the heat. Yesterday I spent most of the time sitting in the shade and I still could barely drink enough water. I can only imagine that today and (especially) tomorrow are going to be brutal.

I can't say this enough, I don't like the heat