Adult Spring Break! Bad for your short term health, good for your long-term outlook

Hey you, yes you, the one with the job and the responsibility and the kid (that you may or may not know about).

Do you yearn for the days when you could drink too much and stay up late without caring about the repercussions?¹

Do you remember fondly the days when you could forget to wear sunscreen (or only apply sunscreen haphazardly to your left forearm and neck before getting called away for an emergency volleyball session) and then laugh hysterically at how purple your burnt skin looked?

Do you long for those mornings when you wake up unable to speak and only then realize how much you were yelling over terrible loud “bass-y” music for hours upon end?

photo 3

While this place did miss some of the charm of a spring break in Mexico in the 90′s (alas, no whistles followed by mandatory pours of strange red liquids), it carried the air of spring-breakery quite well (crowded, loud, and generally a meat market).

If you are, then you are not alone.²

Guess what? There’s a place for you. Nestled in the valley of the sun, just outside of Phoenix, with sweeping views of endless golf courses and upscale strip malls, lies Scottsdale, Arizona – Home of the Ultimate Adult Spring Break™ or UASB for short.³

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Observations of the Ultimate Business Power Moves

I am a student of both verbal and non-verbal cues and pride myself on picking up on them faster than the average person… who is communicating in their 2nd language or is a toddler. That is to say, I’m quite dense in the moment, and frequently pick up on them in the shower days or weeks later. Usually as I’m running back the encounter in my mind for the 3rd or 4th time. SO, THAT’S WHAT THEY MEANT!?

One such “recentish” encounter brought this to light and got me thinking about the most exciting game in all of business. Power moves. These power moves can only be pulled off with the proper training and enthusiasm and are not for the faint of heart (or really anyone with a conscience).


I’ve frequently worked in startups and have had regular encounters with the CEO (not just because I’m a big shot).  At one such meeting at a previous employer I was meeting with the CEO recounting the merits and tactics I’d employ in pursuit of various targets from a trade show. During my 15 minute recap it was pretty hard not to be distracted by his behavior. I thought that he must surely be on some  powerful medication because he frequently (and progressively more violently) yawned.

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Commitment Bias is Building Another Real Estate Bubble, Which is Cool.

Take it from someone who has terrible timing, but is pretty good at learning from his mistakes — the real estate market is in another bubble. Prices are back up, with recent reports that some Seattle locations are actually selling for above their pre-bubble/2007 highs.

Yet… wages are more stagnant than ever.

I bought a house in June 2007, which turned out to be the absolute pinnacle of the market. We were trying to live the American Dream to own a home. It seemed brilliant (though not that original) to get in on a starter home, build some quick equity, and then sell it in 5-7 years for a tidy profit. That’s what everyone was doing, and as you know, if everyone is doing it, you should too, stupid.


Something to keep in mind when evaluating features of a new home; the more cars you can fit in the garage, the better human being you are. In 2007 you could have gotten pre-approval on the loan for this, even without proof of income! Photo: d0ug&r0byn

Buy high and sell low – that’s my motto. Continue reading

Hard Lessons Learned from being “Hella Disruptive”

I’ve been working in a new industry for the last year or so in two very different capacities. Both are Healthcare related. The first was exciting; the launch of a consumer service that would revolutionize simple patient care with better accessibility and transparent pricing. Two things that conceptually everyone wants. Unfortunately it was basically a total flop. No one’s fault really (certainly not mine), just a little too bleeding edge and too many market factors working against it. This last point is a common theme in those trying to break into Healthcare with technology – the technology disruption is not welcomed with open arms.

This "modern technology" is actually still in regular use of many medical practices and now services are launched making it HIPAA compliant! Illustrative of the pace at which tech adoption happens in healthcare.

This “modern technology” is actually still in regular use of many medical practices and now services are launched making it HIPAA compliant! Illustrative of the pace at which tech adoption happens in healthcare.  Photo courtesy: USCPSC

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Raging River Continued: The Bad Bet

Jake and his wife were playing pool in the corner when we walked into Brews n’ Screws in Hayfork California, trying to line up a ride between our put-in and take-out spot. I recounted how we’d heretofore struck out on lining up said ride, despite our generous offer of 30 bucks.

The bartender had called everyone he knew with our amazing offer and despite enthusiasm from various folks, we huddled around the bar mildly depressed (or was I happy?) that we weren’t going to be rafting the mysterious class TBD rapids of the deserted canyon. Perhaps we should have been more concerned that E wasn’t quite sure how “rapid-y” this off-the-grid spot on the Trinity River was, but we weren’t, we were laser-focused on lining up a ride.

Scotty and I meandered outside and struck up a conversation with Jake and his wife as they were smoking. Jake’s wife appeared to have a bun in the oven, but we were not there to judge. The conversation pretty quickly veered into our ride sitch.

To say Jake was violently enthusiastic about our generous offer would be a major understatement. “WHOOOOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The feeling was mutual amongst Scotty and I as we walked inside to tell E what we had just lined up. As our “driving member”, E should have been wildly excited to have secured a shuttle, but he appeared to be shaking his head as we came back inside.

“You got us a ride?”

“YEAH! That guy and his wife are going to shuttle us tomorrow!! Awesome, right!?”

“Did you notice that swastika tattoo on his hand?”

…….. dramatic pause ………

E is Jewish. More accurately, he’s a devout atheist whose mom’s side of the family has been non-practicing Jew for at least a couple of generations. He’s also my friend who is probably least tolerant of assholes and unafraid to start something with someone who is much much bigger.

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The Raging River Continued: Beer-Drinkers Roads and Lining up the Shuttle

I recently realized the memory was getting cloudy as I half-heartedly recounted the story of Jake, his interesting tattoo, and backwoods winter whitewater raftin’ that was once my go-to anecdote. This story exposes both my wild-sportsman and outrageous prankster sides, as well as my humanity — and it was becoming a bit opaque.

You can find my lame attempt at the start of this story on the internet$, Raging River – 3 men enter, and it’s not worth clicking on (despite the PV earning me millionths of thents!). In theory I gave it this sensationalized 3 men enter title because I was going to turn the story into something else.  Something with death and violence and perhaps one character would come out of the closet. In actuality, the real characters and weird things that happened make the story good enough as non-fiction.

Now that I’ve built it ITBTS (impossibly-too-big-to-succeed), let’s continue…. The alps, deep Northern California, chilly February, 3 friends, a cab-over-camper, some serious parallels to what you might expect to find in rural Arkansas, West Virginia, or Kurdistan. We did a bunch of rafting in my friend E’s “pea,” a small-yet-mighty 4 person raft.

E is a rafting obsessive; spending his summers between law school livin’ out of his van, rafting the froth¹ and buying a bunch of gear, including this pea. He spent 10 summers outside of Salida, Colorado at a couple of different rafting companies that run the Arkansas river, and now lives outside Denver. I’m convinced that if he could find a decent woman to live in his van with him, he’d probably have foregone the whole law thing and just stayed livin’ down by the river. Why some good woman simply won’t MOVE INTO HIS VAN!!! is something I still can’t figure out.

This was our beautiful home in the Trinity Alps. Scotty's cab-over-camper replete with chef's kitchen, and enclosed patio. We lived out of this beauty for 3 days of rafting Northern California in the mid-00's.

This was our beautiful home in the Trinity Alps. Scotty’s cab-over-camper replete with chef’s kitchen, and enclosed patio. We lived out of this beauty for 3 days of rafting Northern California in the mid-00′s.

Advanced rafting technique, whereby you try to knock your friend's helmet off so that he has to jump into the freezing river to retrieve it. Safety first!

Advanced rafting technique, whereby you try to knock your friend’s helmet off so that he has to jump into the freezing river to retrieve it. Safety first!

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Roadtrippin’ with a Lost Boy of Sudan

This was the gas station where we were stranded without petrol for what seemed like days. It's also where we met our traveling companion/lost boy.

This was the gas station where we were stranded without petrol for what seemed like days. It’s also where we met our traveling companion/Lost Boy of Sudan.  That’s my brother standing on our little rental car that we drove across Southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana)

He had spent years in a refugee camp, thrown out of his country in the late 80′s, but eventually decided to walk from what is now Southern Sudan to the south. He ended up at a gas station in Botswana where my brother and I were temporarily held up.

This was 2002, and that’s a breezy 3,000+ mile stroll, but it sounded like it really was his only recourse. His story on our brief road trip with him was the first time I’d ever heard about the Lost Boys of Sudan, which is now much more part of the public consciousness with the amazing Dave Eggers Book What is the What (2007), and the influential documentary God Grew Tired of Us (2006). This drew attention to the more than 2 million killed and many hundreds of thousands that were displaced in the over 20 year Sudanese Civil War (or the 2nd one as many refer to it). I was thinking about our short time together recently, because he didn’t look like a boy, it had been years since he’d been displaced- he was probably around my age now.

I’m really pissed at myself, because I recorded a lot of our conversation and can’t find it. It’s probably on some long lost dead hard drive, somewhere. I thought it was on the digital recorder I used and still have, despite its recording capabilities being worse than my iPhone. I checked it yesterday and while it does have a terrible interview I did with Tom Smith of the great UK Band, Editors, in 2006 (I was an even worse interviewer than I was a writer) — nada from our road trip in Botswana. I also had a photo of him and my brother that I can’t seem to track down either, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that he existed and was with us.

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