Archive for the ‘Everything’ Category

Magic

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I believe there are just a handful of moments in one’s life where you feel the beauty of what it is to be alive.

Even more precious than those are the rare instances where you can share that experience with those you truly love.

Mr. Big Stuff

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

After a loved one passes away, your mind and heart go into a state of panic. First there’s the disbelief that you won’t ever see them again. You have recurrences of seeing them out of the corner of your eye. Hearing them only to discover it was someone or something else. Each time this happens, your mind remembers that they’re gone and your heart breaks all over again. As you work through it, you become obsessed with remembering the mundane things about them: the sound of their voice, things they’d say at certain parts of the day, little looks they’d give you. This obsession is fueled by the fact that you know you will forget many of these things, and you don’t want to. You know that your mind is built to forget, and by it’s nature you will end up not caring as intensely as you do at that moment. It is a survival mechanism, it is unavoidable, it is heart-breaking.

Plenty of people don’t like cats, are allergic to cats, prefer dogs, think pets are silly, don’t understand how people can be so attached to animals, etc. If you are one of those people, stop reading now and go share of your time in some other productive way: feed the homeless or raise money for breast cancer awareness. Otherwise, read on for an epically sad tale of how much I miss our cat.

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Happy Thursday

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

“Why doesn’t Mark blog anymore” you ask?

It’s not because I have nothing to say. To the contrary, I have plenty of things going on, and many many thoughts keeping me up pontificating at night. No, it’s because of something my father told me many years ago, “Say anything you want, but never put it in writing.”

Of course, my father was referring to things like angry exchanges with an employer. But through my work with Vanilla, I became afraid of over-promising and under-delivering. I decided to not write about anything we were doing until it was done. This practice led into my personal life as well. And before I knew it, I didn’t want to put anything on my blog because the thought that someone might want to debate a point with me made me feel nothing but exhaustion. I figured that if I don’t care to hear another’s opinion, what right did I have to share mine?

Well, as things go, I’m in yet another “transition period” in my life. We all go through them. We cut ourselves a nice groove and ride it for any number of years, and then eventually we begin to vibrate at another level and we decide to either accept our circumstances as they are, or take the responsibility for changing them. Recently I (finally) chose the latter.

I’ve found that during these transition periods you become introspective and melancholy, but it is eclipsed with an immense feeling of pride for all you’ve been able to accomplish (even accomplishing the decision to finally make a change), as well as a warm feeling that great things are in your future. Tonight I’m at home alone and I decided to take a glance back at all that has happened to me since my last point of life-transition.

Four years ago my wife and I were not happy. I had taken a keen interest in “getting healthy” and yet somehow managed to “party” constantly. I exercised until I was at a point where I was happy with my physical appearance, and I was out with my friends until ungodly hours doing things that I’m definitely not going to put in writing. It was not just unfair to her, it was completely reprehensible of me. I woke up one day thinking (not for the first time), “I can’t believe she puts up with me. I need to get my shit together before she leaves.”

That was when I reached out into the world and discovered TechStars. To say that TechStars saved my life is probably an overstatement, but to say that it set me on a positive life trajectory is completely accurate. I plucked myself out of the world I’d created and put myself into a foreign one. One filled with warmth, friendship, knowledge, passion, technology, venture capital, belief in the unbelievable. A world that literally felt like the wild west. Anything was possible.

For about three years I’ve struggled up the steep hill of entrepreneurship, rebuilt my relationship with my beloved wife, been witness to the birth of our first child, and watched in awe as our lives unfolded before our very eyes like a hazy dream. We struggled, we fought, we cried tears of anger, joy, passion, and happiness. And now we’re moving on.

I can’t believe how amazing the last three years have been, and I count myself extraordinarily blessed to have taken on the responsibility to change my circumstances, and to have met and befriended so many incredible people along the way.

Everyone at Vanilla, TechStars, and Real Ventures; Everyone in the Boulder/Denver, SF, and Montreal startup scene; You all know who you are. I’m a lucky man to have enjoyed the pleasure of your company, and I look forward to seeing you again some time soon.

Here is a slideshow from the last three years full of people, places, and things that I love.

… and here’s a soundtrack for the slideshow:

Mugshot

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Does the burly woodsman up there (^^^) scare you?

I’ve received mixed messages from many different people about my mugshot. Some have told me that I look handsome. Some say that I look like I’m about to commit mass murder. Some people have used a plethora of curse-words to describe me (I’m not so sure that had anything to do with the mugshot, mind you). Others have simply said that it is “unprofessional”.

I’m the kind of guy that judges a book by it’s contents rather than it’s cover, so I’ve intentionally spent a very small amount of time “designing” this blog (Not to mention the fact that I hate having to work around in other people’s code when I should be working on my own).

So, should I put up a picture of some kittens or puppies and remove my ugly mug? You be the judge.

Nice Furry Undies

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

big foot

The infamous Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film has been stabilized frame-by-frame to give you a better view of the lumbering woodland beast

Stabilized Bigfoot Film via Boing Boing

Is it just me, or can you totally see the separation between his waist, undies, and legs?

Kind of makes me sad: this film was an inspiration for all things unbelievable when I was a child.

Travel Burnout

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Barcelona

I’ve been away for the last two weeks (which is why I haven’t been able to post here very much), and I’m actually still away now. I just thought I’d pop in and post this thought I’ve been having over the last few days of travelling: When you begin traveling, everything you see is the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen. But after a few weeks of traveling, you tend to find amazing things to be … less than amazing.

Today as I was walking around the dirty, beautiful, scary, and intriguing city of Barcelona I kept having to force myself to really pay attention to everything. I was rarely pulling out that camera, and hating myself for it. I wish I was as excited about everything today as I was two weeks ago when I left home.

Connecting

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Connecting

I went to Seattle to visit a friend, do some shopping, and see Hot Chip. On the way there I got stranded in Calgary, and had to make the most of the situation. Now I’m home, but on the way back I picked up a cold somewhere, I’m starting to lose my voice, and I currently sound like a dragon. Over.

Ignorance a survival instinct?

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Last week I was sitting in my car waiting for someone and I noticed five men on the roof of a house across the street. They were tearing up the existing shingles on the roof. One of the men was standing with his back to the ground, his heels resting precariously on the eaves trough. Another man was sitting on the edge of the roof with both legs hanging off the edge. All of the men were moving about on the roof as comfortably as if they weren’t two stories up, and none of them had any safety harnesses of any kind. It got me thinking about our mental condition as human beings.

I can understand that while doing a job like roofing you would develop a certain level of comfort about your work (“I’ve never fallen before? Why would I fall today?”), but what is it about us that allows us to reach that place? I think that it is ignorance, and my theory is that we have ignorance ingrained into our DNA as a survival instinct. I think that if we didn’t have the ability to see danger, and subconsciously choose to ignore it, we’d never have done any of the amazing things we’ve done in our history. We probably would have been too afraid to do anything, and we would have become extinct as a species long ago.

I’m not talking about ignorance in terms of the negative connotation that most people give it. I’m talking about ignorance as a necessary part of survival. The reason it inevitably gets a negative connotation is because we don’t use it exclusively to accomplish “good” things. Take drug addicts, for example. Everyone knows that certain drugs (Heroin, Crystal Meth, etc) are incredibly dangerous and damaging to your health, but they do it anyway. Why? Sure, everyone has their reasons for doing drugs: “I hate my parents”, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”, “My life is boring”, etc. But regardless of their justification, they are choosing to ignore that it can kill them.

I have a friend that is a fishing guide at a lodge in Northern Saskatchewan. This is a lodge that can only be reached by airplane (it lands on the lake) and would classify as “adventure tourism”. My friend says that at least twice each season he will be having “shore lunch” with his customers and a bear will show up. My friend is 6’4″ tall, and he says that these bears are so immense that it is like facing off with a living, hairy truck. He is not allowed to carry a gun for protection because it is federally protected land. The only thing he can do to protect himself and his customers is get the hell away. Whenever in this situation, he will send his customers directly back to the boat (facing the bear, backing up slowly), and he will stand between them, trying to make himself “look big”. Once they are in the boat, he will slowly back up and get into it. Then he will get away as fast as humanly possible.

He tells me that he’s been six feet away from the biggest bear you can possibly imagine, had the bear roaring at his face, thought to himself, “This is it”. He’s survived this, and he’s gone back again, and again, and again. To a place where the rules of our society to not apply. Where things are truly “wild”. A place where ignorance is an absolutely necessary part of survival.

Can you imagine?

Think-And-Click Computing

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I realize I’m way ahead of myself before I’ve even begun (take that sentence as a case-in-point). However, I’ve been thinking about where to go after “the mouse”. I’ve always felt that the death of the mouse will come with the birth of what I call “think-clicking”. Instead of moving your mouse around the screen, the pointer and cursor will be gone. Instead you will look at the screen and think about what you want to do.

A simple example would be: think about opening a program, it opens. Think about creating a new document within that program, and it prompts you with some specifications about your new document. You think about how you want to move through the prompts and they disappear.

In my mind, I can imagine how this type of “think-clicking” will work. It won’t necessarily be word-association, but more likely it will be a boolean. I’ve read that the sensation of thinking TRUE or FALSE is the easiest “thought” to evaluate. Yes or no. Black or White. 1 or 0. So, prompted with “Would you like to continue?”, the responses would be easy to differentiate.

Obviously this type of computing would immensely increase our workflow with day-to-day tasks. No more “finding the spot” with your mouse. Instead instantly thinking your way through prompts and windows. Anticipating the windows that will come up next and moving through them before they even appear. I can’t wait!

What has recently occurred to me, and promptly scared me, was the thought of how Malware could take advantage of this. Imagine being able to write a program that does the *opposite* of what you want; and does it before you are even aware you made that mistake? Grandparents around the world are easily fooled nowadays by evil websites and trojans and malware. Imagine if they could even fool the most tech-savvy of us?

Obviously the eggheads who are coming up with this stuff in a lab somewhere have already anticipated this, and they’re laughing at my short-sighted ignorance. But hey, I’m just thinking out loud.

We Just Got Punked!

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Did you hear about Paris Hilton and her guru?



The story goes that she was spotted with a “guru” by paparazzi and the gossip spread around the internet like wildfire. Then, this morning The Huffington Post reported that this was a reverse version of Ashton Kutcher’s tv-show “Punked”. 20 celebrities have signed on to do a “prank” like this, wait for the world to go crazy with the news, and then reveal that it was a big joke on Kutcher’s new TV show.It’s a clever idea. But what really got my gears turning was: of all the news of recent days, what was true and what was false? Here’s a list of four recent celebrity-related news items that I sincerely hope weren’t true:

1. Patrick Swayze’s Pancreatic Cancer: First we lose Sir Ulrich Von Leichtenstein to a prescription drug overdose and now Baby’s gonna get put in a corner?!

2. The Owen Wilson Suicide Attempt: Who wants the happy everyman to be depressed? I’m actually torn because why would a guy with so much value life so little? No matter how depressed I get, I wake up every day happy to be alive.

3. The TV Writer’s Strike is Over: Please say it ain’t so. I swear I saw more and more people at the local bookstore as the weeks passed by. Watch Less TV! Support novelists!

4. Britney Spears: Anything and everything. No explanation necessary.