During my first few weeks in the Netherlands, I ended up canoeing to Germany with my girlfriend's family. The matriarch of this particular clan of Dutchmen and Dutchwomen was celebrating her 60th birthday with a day of canoeing, pancakes and an amazing dinner.
The latter two activities are favorites of mine. The first one really rustled my jimmies. Canoe who?
Despite my fear of canoes (aside from not knowing how to swim), I gave it my best effort as we all hopped in canoes and tried to paddle into Germany. There were three or four of us in each canoe, which we had to pull out of the channel every few miles, run a small distance, then put it back in the water. It was madness.
We came very close but were ultimately too tired to complete the journey. Instead, we ate pancakes.
It was the hardest thing I've done in a long time. If you doubt my account, here is proof that it went down:
It was hard, friends. We paddled for at least four hours.
I love my backpack. It's the Vandal by Mission Workshop. Sturdy and huge and my best friend on these Amsterdam streets. Just wanted to show it some love, after getting a few nice comments on it recently. What are the three best things about it, you ask?
- It's bigger than my ego, which means it will fit pretty much anything you need inside it. 4,000 cubic inches of space, homeboy.
- It's weatherproof. In some areas, it's waterproof. I don't know what those terms mean precisely, but I've worn it in the rain, and my stuff was dry like a bony thing with dragonwings.
- It looks super cool. I must look super cool at all times.
A little over two weeks ago, Stephanie and I arrived in Amsterdam. The first few days were a blur as I personally struggled with the time change. Amsterdam is eight hours ahead of Boulder, so the 9 a.m. environment we stepped into upon arriving at the hotel was like 1 a.m. It took my body longer than I expected to adapt.
Anywho. Here is an easily digestible Q&A for you to read:
1) What do you regret not packing?
My beard trimmer and my Newton running shoes. They're both on their way or in Customs.
2) Any run-ins with the law?
Yes. I was questioned pointedly by the Amsterdam police after visiting some friends at Spotify. They thought I was a burglar. *Shaggy voice* It wasn't me!
3) Have you learned any Dutch?
Brood is bread. Kaas is cheese. Once I figure out how to say ham, I'll be the mayor of Sandwich Street.
4) Aren't you supposed to be posting loads of travel photos like everyone else does?
Yeah, I don't do that. Here's a bag of chips, er, crisps that I found.
5) How is Amsterdam different from Boulder?
They like mayonnaise a lot more here. It's freaky.
Reviewing anything I do is an inevitably flawed mission. My perspective is skewed not only by knowing waaay too much about what went down, but also by fatigue. Boulder Startup Week 2012 wore me out. If you didn't know, I've served as the five-day event's head organizer for the past two years -- guiding it from a creative, purpose and community standpoint.
It's a sprawling, distributed affair that requires loads of communication across many fronts in order to stay afloat. It concluded a few days ago, and I've laid relatively low in the meantime, gathering my wits with gardening gloves. Despite my current double-vision and hazy gaze, I wanted to jot down a few notes before they slipped from my memory.
What we did right:
- Started early. According to my email records, we got started planning this business in December 2011.
- Added more team members. Last year's BSW consisted largely of myself and Ryan Wanger. This year, we added Elaine Ellis (on PR) and Sarah Jane Griesemer (on scheduling). If I were going to run 2013, I'd add even more folks.
- Flew in more people. One of the big imperatives of BSW is to drive acquisition of tech talent. There are so many open tech jobs in Boulder that we decided to gather as many sponsor dollars as possible to fly in candidates with the hope that they'd fall in love with Boulder and move here. It's happened before. Last year we flew in 6 folks. This year we flew in twice that number. Shall we double it again next year? Yes.
What could use improvement:
- Moar shirts. I made quite a few enemies after ordering only 200 shirts this year. Sorry, all.
- We need to be a little meaner to people to ensure that the event's purpose(s) are kept in mind. Being a pushover is fine if you're hovering above a ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. It's not fine if you're hovering over an alligator pit. Mo' backbone at all times.
- Better RSVP system. We used Plancast this year and last year. It's easy, but it lacks a few items. I'm sure the team will track down something solid.
I wish I could say that I'll do everything I can to make Boulder Startup Week 2013 even better. I can't. I'm moving to Amsterdam and have left the event in other people's hands. However, I'm absolutely certain they'll bring the flava to your doorstep, drastically increasing the property value of your abode.
If you made it out to Boulder (or out of your house), thank you. If you didn't, circle the month of May on your 2013 calendar. Boulder wants your bones.
Sometimes I get invited to speak at things. It's fun. Other times, I get invited to speak at college graduations. Those are beyond fun -- especially when it's the school I got a degree from.
Here's a photo of me speaking at the University of Colorado's School of Journalism and Mass Communication Fall '11 Commencement. (It was a few months ago, but I finally managed to score some photos -- long story.) I asked the young graduates to raise the roof with me one last time. It was the dumbest thing I've ever done, but I have opted to live without regret.
Did I mention that the ceremony was at Macky Auditorium? Haven't been on that stage since the last TEDxBoulder (which is returning to Boulder on Sept. 22). Gorgeous venue. Huge venue. It dwarfs all.
Having skipped my own commencement back in 2007 because I was too cool for school, it was wonderful to have finally put on a cap and gown. I wore my tassel on the wrong side, but I'm legit enough to own up to it (and not reverse these images before posting them). Live and learn.
Boulder Startup Week returns for its 3rd year of events, breakdancing and derring-do. As the head organizer of the event, I'm privy to all of the potential shindigs as they're submitted. While I'm probably not supposed to pick favorites, I'm going to do so anyway because I'm leaving town at the end of the month. Jerks.
I'm totally biased, but it's totally the best event of the week. Blend public speaking with public geeking -- that's Ignite Boulder. It's sold out, but if you managed to grab a ticket, please come to the front of the stage and say hello.
Easily my second favorite event this year, it's not to be missed. Local startups demoing their newest efforts, an iPad giveaway and lots and lots of geeks.
This is hosted by my favorite cafe owner *at* my favorite cafe -- Atlas Purveyors. I'm delighted to have something out of the ordinary during BSW. This will be marvelous and jittery.
The Boulder Chamber is putting this together, and it's going to be rad. I'm honored to have them involved with the week, even though I wore a hoodie to my first meeting with them. (Sorry, folks!)
Some former colleagues of mine have started a new agency with a fascinating focus. I confess I don't know much about the state of American manufacturing, but I'm eager to get schooled.
Quick Left is one of my favorite local companies. They do amazing, amazing work and so I'm stoked to see what they came up with for BSW's closing party. There is nowhere else you should be on Saturday night.
You know how accepting a new quest in World of Warcraft often takes you to a completely new and different continent, full of strange adversaries and stranger avenues? Life is like that. Except without as many dragons.
I am moving to Amsterdam. My remarkable girlfriend Stephanie was offered a dream job there, which she accepted with twinkling eyes and dancing toes. I will be joining her because I can't bear for her to be alone there, being wooed by unsavory Dutch lotharios.
I'll be in Boulder until early June, so all my commitments will be heroically fulfilled. But if I squeeze your hand a bit harder the next time we meet, it's because we may not do so again for a while.
If you have marvelous connections in Amsterdam, please let me know. Every adventurer needs allies.
I have come to the end of the mustachioed road, friends. After giving it 30 days, I have acquiesced to my girlfriend's wishes and extinguished the bristly flame that used to burn 'neath my nose. Here are its final moments for posterity.
To refresh your memory, my old face:
And here is my sweet, sweet face after a 30-day mustache march:
A bit more close up. Gasping is fine.
The still-sparse side that never grew in completely:
And the impossibly more burly side that I refer to as "The Grotto."
It was a hoot. I like the color of it and it was fascinating to watch it fill out. However, it totally made me look way old. I'm not quite ready for that mess. Thanks for your support, my dearest Mustache Militia. Perhaps we'll play this game again in November when it's trendy to do so.
I plan on heading over to the Newton shop in downtown Boulder in a few hours, where I'll try them on and see what the scoop is. I understand that Newton espouses a different style of running than "normal" running. Something about striking the ground with your forefoot instead of your heel.
I don't know much about all this, but if I can pull off wearing bright yellow shoes, it will be gamechanging for people who say things like "gamechanging."
I'm totally an overpronator. I'm told that means I have flat feet. Which I do. My feet are insanely flat.
Since I live in Boulder, I have many friends that run. I would like to join them, but running bums my feet out a bunch. They hurt, yo. A couple years ago, I went to the Boulder Running Company and picked out a pair of Nike Zoom Nucleus MC+ shoes after having my stride recorded and analyzed:
I confess they haven't gotten as much use as I'd initially intended. Lately, I've wanted to run more because the weather's nice again and the birds are chirping obcenities at me from the trees. I wish the shoes I'd picked were a bit lighter. They feel bulky. Thoughts or recommendations?