Category Archives: Personal

We are standing in our own way

I know to be a writer, one must write. My self-censorship is a roadblock, correction, a hurdle. Something that can be overcome. Everywhere I read that writing is hard even for those who make a living at it. That there is desperation with the blank page. That there is solitude and doubt. I must ask myself, how is that different than my life without writing? I doubt constantly, I fear permanence. That once an idea is out there, that someone will recognize I have no right to be commenting on whatever it is I’m commenting on. Paralyzed before even starting.

And I KNOW that is all a bunch of bullshit. I’m standing in my own way. Is there anything more frustrating than that?

Imagine a copy of yourself standing physically in front of you telling you that you can’t move past them. Actively blocking to counter your attempts to step around them. How long would you let this go on? Would you meekly shrink from this version of yourself, obviously stronger and more determined than you. Or would you at some point be fed up enough that you leaned back and with all the force you’ve ever known, knock them down?

Odds are you have been dancing with this version of yourself for years. I have. Why are they so strong and you so seemingly unable to muster the strength to punch or kick your way past them? Like in a passive-aggressive dream you try to punch but everything goes in slow motion and you never actually connect.

The truth is, this person in front of you, is you. For some reason they are strong enough to stand in your way, but that strength is yours as well. Everything they have in the persistence department, you have. All that stubborn determination to talk you out of whatever it is you want to do, is yours.

So kick, punch, shove, go for the soft spots. Knock them down.

If you’re able to get past them, even for a minute, you’ll feel better. You’ll probably be even more scared than you were when they were busy keeping you in your comfort zone but that is because this is somewhere new. Like any travel it takes a bit to find your bearings in new lands. Just remember this, it gets better.

Be aware, this is not a one time battle. This is an ongoing fight. Be brave. This obstructing version of yourself will get back up, over and over again. They’ve had years of practice and training keeping you in your comfortable little box.

So you are going to have to knock them down, over and over again. You are going to have to explore this new land. You are going to have to be scared. You are going to have to fail and fall back into the place you came from. You too are going to have to get back up.

Everyone around you, everyone you’ve ever met, is going through this exact same scenario all the time. You are not alone.

Be honest with yourself. Be aware that letting your guard down can be a weapon in this fight. Being vulnerable got me past my blocker just long enough to get this written.

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Filed under Personal, Writing

1st Anniversary

Summer and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary a couple weekends ago. The year has just flown by us. It’s hard to imagine the chaos that was only just beginning to subside about this time a year ago.

To commemorate the leap into marriage we decided to jump off a bridge.

About an hour North of Portland there is a very high bridge in the woods of Amboy Washington owned by the good people at How high? About 230ft. making it the highest commercial bungee bridge in the US.

You have to walk out on the bridge when you get there which allows you to look down at the foot deep stream of water running below. There is nothing comforting about it. However, the five people that got there ahead of you that are screaming with excitement as they bounce around on the long cable attaching them to the bridge, is comforting. This like many dangerous activities, with proper care, can be done safely. The people running the bridge are all about safety. They double and triple check the gear, select the correct cables for your weight, and tell you how to avoid getting popped in the face by the (padded) cables.

When you get to the platform you really aren’t thinking about how far down it is anymore. You’re only thinking – Jump – and then you do.

Summer had to wait quite a while to get her jump in so they gave her the option of doing a running jump off the opposite side of the bridge. Most people aren’t given this option until their third jump. She went for it without hesitation. You’ll hear her say “Go big or go home baby!” as she’s running toward the edge (right before all the screaming).

That’s my girl!

And then two more jumps before she was done.

It was a fantastic day, all day long. I wonder what we’ll do next year. 🙂

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Filed under Adventure, Personal, Video

Pick up the paper

“I’m insanely grateful to make my living as a traffiker of ideas.” – Scott Berkun

I hope one day to be able to say the same thing.

I’ve just finished reading “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Berkun and am still absorbing all of his many incredibly useful, and well presented points. I’ve read or listened to a number of books about public speaking (one of my irrational fears) as it is something I hope to do well one day.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone that does any form of persuasive speaking. Whether you’re in the board room, a PTA meeting, or on a dais in front of an audience of thousands.

Two major themes resonate throughout:

1. Settle down. The audience is (most likely) on your side, they will give you wide latitude and likely aren’t going to remember this tomorrow anyway.

2. Be prepared. The audience has given you the opportunity to enter their lives for a short while. Respect that by taking the time yourself to be worth their time.

With excellent examples and personal illustrations from other well known public speakers he does a good job of convincing you that everyone stumbles, and that’s part of the adventure.

My most memorable public speaking crash-and-burn was while introducing a former United States Ambassador to  Afghanistan at a World Affairs Council of Oregon event. I’d prepared the night before by reading up on his resume and accomplishments. I typed up the highlights and printed them out in an extra large font so that I wouldn’t have trouble seeing them.

We had dinner with Ambassador Eliot before the event and I felt fairly comfortable with what my job was. Upon entering the room I noticed that there was no podium as I’d anticipated, just a table. Someone handed me a revised set of notes as I walked to the front of the room in a much smaller font than I’d prepared. I scanned the notes and, for some reason, was convinced that I would have to recite them from memory as it would be bad form to read them off the paper.

That was not a good idea.

I welcomed everyone and went blank. I couldn’t remember his name, the school he was dean of and no amount of mental gymnastics brought the details back to me. The paper sat on the table only 3 feet from my eyes but I wouldn’t touch it.

A long enough pause occurred that an elderly woman in the front row said, in the way that only an annoyed elderly woman can, “Just pick up the paper!”

I was mortified and then saved moments later by the Ambassador “Thanks Brad, I’ll take it from here.”

I stayed away from speaking in front of crowds for a long time after that even though I’m positive I’m the only one that remembers my performance that night. (Except for the friends I’ve reminded of the event.)

Happy 2010. Here’s to picking up the paper.


Filed under Personal

Goal: Hawaii

A bit of adventure.

Yesterday Summer and I packed our bags and headed for the airport. Our plan was to catch a flight to Seattle and then another to Lihue Hawaii.

Well, we made the connection, but the flight was full. After we were sure we wouldn’t be making the flight we checked the departures board and attemped a flight to Honolulu and then one to Las Vegas. Having no luck on those flights either it was getting pretty late and the list of destinations was dwindling so we decided to return to Portland and try again on Friday.

Friday morning came early and we headed back to the airport, resuming our attempt at Hawaii. With no small amount of luck we got the last two seats on a flight to Maui. Neither of us have been to Maui before (this is my first trip to Hawai’i) and as of the time of this writing, I’m somewhere over the pacific sitting next to a cute couple with a seemingly endless supply of little Captain Morgan bottles that they have been kind enough to share.

Summer and I have nowhere arranged to stay when we arrive. For me, that’s the fun part. We’ll touch down in another couple hours and figure the rest out then.

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Filed under Adventure, Fun, Personal, United States


Anyone that’s been around me for any length of time in the past year or so has probably heard me rattle on about “Make“. Either the Blog, that I spend a great deal of time reading, the Magazine,  the long anticipated Make:TV, or the Maker Faire that I had an incredible time at last year.

“Make” is an idea that’s been around forever but has found some new momentum. It used to be that skills were handed down from generation to generation, then learning was institutionalized in the guilds, schools and colleges, now it has been globalized with the Internet. Anything you want to know, or want to know how to do, is within your grasp. Even better, if something you dream of isn’t available to buy, the means of production are available to you so that you can create it yourself. Given that you have enough drive to see it through…

Make is creativity, resourcefulness and the desire to create. Make is DIY with a hacker ethos.

As I have become a part of all this I am inspired daily by how people are rethinking, reimagining, and redesigning the world around them. In an effort to further this idea a few friends and I have been working together to launch a local Chapter of the Make: groups that have been popping up around the country.

And with that effort I give you Make:PDX

Portland, Oregon is a magnet for creative people and has a social scene second to none. There is a group of people getting together somewhere for nearly every interest you might have. Make:PDX has the lofty goal of bringing together groups of focused interest to trade ideas. To act as a community builder, not to replace any of the individual passionate groups of people chasing ideas but hopefully bring more people into their ranks by raising awareness. This extends from rockets to robots, cooking to crochet, electronics, woodworking, writing, roasting coffee, brewing beer, etc…

If there is one thing I have learned in this life, it is that the more skills you have and the more you understand, the more beautiful and full of possibility the world around you is.

If you’re in Portland this weekend, we’ll be having our first get-together. If for no other reason than to watch me squirm as I attempt public speaking after a long hiatus it should be interesting. Oh, and also for the cupcakes and cookies Summer and I have been busily making. 🙂



Filed under Culture Jamming, Design, Hack, hobby, Make, Personal, trends

What I did on my summer vacation…

So, we had a bit of a media black out this summer. It started around the end of May when I descended into my basement and stuck my face in a bunch of books. I was studying for the CISSP certification for about two months. My nights and weekends were dedicated to the obscurity that is the depth and breadth of that study material.

Well, after burning June and July on test prep I flew down to Los Angeles and sat for the exam. It is considered the standard for computer security professionals and is taken on scantron paper with a #2 pencil. (This may give you some idea how much they trust computers.) 3 hours and 46 minutes into the the allotted 6 hours I walked out. I wasn’t entirely sure what the result would be. Two weeks after that I found out I passed. Whew… finally. I’ve been looking at that test for a long time.

Summer and I then attempted to reclaim the rest of the season in a short period of time by squeezing Camping, Hiking, Jack Johnson at the Gorge, and a week vacation into the last couple weeks of August. It wasn’t so much a vacation as a let’s-get-a-bunch-of-stuff-done-on-the-house week but it was incredibly productive! Oh, and we built something really fun…


A FULL SIZED HOME ARCADE!!!! It isn’t finished. We still need to add the trackball, cup holders, and the *very important* kegerator with taps for Player 1 and Player 2. It isn’t as pretty as some models you can buy for lots of $$$ but whatever, I learned a lot in the process.

I’ve got some other projects in development so stay tuned for updates.

Let’s move on


Filed under Hack, hobby, Make, Personal, Random