Upcoming Summer and Fall Concerts

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We’ve got a crowded calendar of upcoming live shows all at great venues:

Willie Nelson with Kacey Musgraves, August 19 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
We were watching an interview of Willie on CBS Sunday Morning and I said, I really want to see him before he dies. He’s the last of the real country singers I remember listening to growing up. Lo and behold he was coming.  So we grabbed our tickets. Also, I’ve been wanting to go to the Greek ever since I missed seeing the Ramones there in ’92.

Dwight Yoakam with Los Lobos August 24 at the Wente Winery in Livermore.
We have seen Los Lobos so many times, I’ve lost count. I’m bragging not complaining. I love those guys. The concerts at Wente are a lot like Ravinia in Chicago – outdoors and classy.

John Mulaney October 5 at Symphony Hall, San Francisco.
One of the few standup comedians my wife doesn’t hate. John Mulaney is hilarious, plus this is going to be a gorgeous setting. We’re taking our daughter who loves John too. I’ve wanted to see the inside of Davies Symphony Hall, but not necessarily a symphony – don’t tell anyone.

Father John Misty with Phosphorescent October 7 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
This will be our second time seeing him. The first was in 2015 at the Wiltern in LA. By far one of the best shows I’ve seen in years (next to Mayer Hawthorne at the Fox). I love how people think he’s a prick and a pompous ass. It just shows that people don’t get satire. Kind of reminds me of Urge Overkill in that regard.

Sea Otter 2017 Summary

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This post is long overdue. We made our annual trek to the Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca racetrack in Monterey, CA. It was our 4th year in a row, 3rd camping.

Ready to roll.

My son’s buddy flew in and we picked him up at the airport on the way down. After we got him, we stopped for lunch and parked, a dude was yelling something about bikes. We gave him the Shaka , like that’s ride dude, we’re going somewhere cool. Then we saw him pointing, to the ground and figured out he was saying, “your bike rack broke off.’

We looked the back of the Westy and sure enough, the bike and the bike rack were gone. The fell off when we went over a speed bump in the parking lot. The guy had picked up the whole rack with three bikes and dragged into the grass. Miraculously, the bikes and the rack were fine. It was a new Thule swing-out. I had not locked the vibration knob and it loosed up over the 30 mile drive. Luckily it fell off in a parking lot and not on 101.

We camped in the usual area, I think we might have even gotten the same two spots as last year. Dustin and the folks from Humboldt State were on the corner as always. The guy to our north had driven all the way from Minnesota in a sweet 4×4 custom van complete with air compressor on the front.

Home

Settled

Contrails in the morning.

Twinning is winning!

The two years prior, my buddies from Chicago had come, but didn’t make it this year. So it was just me, Jordan, my son and his buddy. I missed having the guys, but it forced me to meet some new people including some great guys from Livermore (Chris and Tyler), and a Scottish guy (Chris) from Monterey with a Westy just like mine.

Thursday we drove down and mostly tooled around the expo. It was a pretty low key night. Fox had a dialed out RV up the hill and were showing movies outside.

The next day I met the guys from Livermore. One of the used to have a bike shop, but now reps KTM bikes. He loaned me one and I went to the expo with them. We got back to the campsite in the afternoon and Jordan arrived.

Bike-powered smoothies.

Mork the dork.

My temporary Tasco Tat.

The official Sea Otter chillin’

Saturday morning, we were going to go for a long ride. But Chris stopped by after his race and had an iced coffee with us, which led to beers, which led to the expo, and led to no ride.

Saturday night is the big night around campground E. The Humboldt State guys have their jumping contest and nobody has a race int he morning. We had a taco bar at our place and invited a bunch of neighbors to chow down. After dark, it was time for Bugsy to take his longboard down the 6-story Corkscrew curve around 40mph. But not until he’s had a few puffs and gulps of courage.

Me and Bugsy.

Jumping competition.

Jordan waiting for the Jiffy Pop to burn

The Corkscrew

Bamboo Bike with flask. Perfect for the environment.

Willie?

Dance party at the Humboldt State campsite.

Nailed It!

It was a very good year, and looking forward to next. I’m hoping that we can coordinate to get 3-4 sites with the folks I met and make it an even bigger shindig.

Kissing cousins.

Breakfast of champions.

Driving home.

Two new stickers for the window.

Back in the Shop

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I thought the Westy needed new brakes. On our first camping trip of the year, we went to Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz mountains. On the way home coming down Route 9 the front brakes started smoking. I was riding them pretty hard and we had a full load.

Big Basin tent cabins

Hiding in the thicket.

She had a few nits like the flickering temperature light, a broken steering column cover, and short in the relay. While I had her at the Buslab, I bit the bullet and asked them to see if they could find anything else. The transmission needed service, the brushing were worn out, and the radiator needed to be replaced. Ironically, the one thing they didn’t need to do was replace the brakes just the brake hoses. The good new, it came in under the original estimate.

Buslab rescue buss

As I drove her to work from the shop, everything was humming along. The creaking was gone, the brakes had grip, and she was moving down the highway like a car and not a pushcart. About five miles from Berkeley, the oxygen sensor light came on. Shit! Shit! Shit! I got all the other lights off and now another one. At least it’s a fix I can do myself.

I don’t want to jinx it, but she’s in the best shape ever since we bought her 3 years ago.

### The Latest Upgrade

The latest addition was a roof rack for our kayaks. I put on extra-wide, 72″ Yakima bars and towers. Drilling into the fiberglass top was the second-most nerve-wracking job. Drilling into the metal to install the awning was the first. Now, she’s looking good, doncha think?

Some new stickers, and some old ones had to go.

Ready for the great flood.

A little top heavy

Kayak and Paddleboard

Karma is a Bitch

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Okay, I’m sorry.

I have been bragging way too much about California weather since moving back here from Chicago 3 years ago. When we moved here, California was suffering an epic drought that appears to be over. As I type this, I actually heard thunder, something rare in these parts.

Shitty Bay Area Weather news.

Since January it has been raining all the time. While I could Google the stats and be official, I’d guess that we’ve had 85 days of rain out of the last 100. Today, the rain is especially annoying because it’s starting and stopping every hour. Just when you think we’re done, it starts again.

Granted, this is a shitty topic for a blog post, but I felt the need to apologize.

The last time I lived out here was the El Niño of 1997-98 and this has totally surpassed it for rainfall. I vaguely remember it being bigger news back then. The news about this winter’s rain has been tempered by the drought. We’ve needed relief so badly people are taking this in stride.

Eventually, it’ll stop and we’ll enter our 6-7 month dry spell and I’ll have forgotten what all this fuss was about.

Image courtesy of SFGate Website.

Cola makes a successful exit

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For the last 20 months or so, I was involved in a startup I co-founded called Cola. It’s a cool app that let you send interactive messages along with plain old texts. It’s an amazing piece of software built by one of the best team of people I’ve ever worked with in my 25 year career.

Last week, we announced Cola was acquired by a company called Layer. It’s bittersweet leaving a company you poured everything into, but also exciting to have an exit.

Granted, this exit isn’t nearly the scale of Postini, the first startup I did in the 90s.

Communication platform Layer raises $15M and acquires interactive messaging startup Cola

Meantime, I’m not sure what my next move will be. I still have the entrepreneur bug, so it’s most likely going to be something to do with another new business.

Stay tuned. I promise to expand on this later.

Happy New Spring

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Just killing time at a swim meet. I’ve been here since 6:30 in the morning. It’s now 1:30 and probably another hour and a half to go. Thank God I have the Westy. I have read books, taken a nap, and now writing a blog post. Having this little sanctuary on wheels makes all the difference in the world.

It’s a gorgeous day. We’re finally getting a break in the rain, and the hills are all green. It’s the most beautiful time of the year right now.

Speaking of the Westy. There’s always something to deal with. Some times it’s an expensive repair, other times, like now, it’s a little quirk. Lately the horn has been shorting out and honking at random times. What’s worse, I installed a train horn last year that’s obnoxious when it honks. The old one was like a duck fart no one ever acknowledged.

This new horn required some extra wiring for extra power. In fact, it gets louder the faster I drive. I think the short is a bad connector. It tends to honk when I flick the turn signal, or turn the steering wheel. It just kept getting worse. What started out as an spurious honk turned into a constant bleating. Which was especially embarrassing at 6am in the driveway.

I haven’t had a chance to troubleshoot it, so I disconnected the wires altogether. Now I have a raw steering column exposed, no horn, or turn signals. I’m kicking it old school with the arm signals. Since no on pays attention to them, I just use extra caution when changing lanes. Besides turn signals weren’t much use before. Whenever people see me signaling they just speed up so not to end up behind me.

Removed the steering column cover and pulled the wires to stop the honking.

I hope to get to it this weekend. Most likely, I’ll end up taking it back to Buslab in Berkeley to finish the job.

 

Future of Text

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I was invited to speak at the Future of Text Symposium. The event was at Google headquarters in Mountain View. It was an open forum to discuss and predict where things are heading with written and visual communication. I gave talk on what we’ve learned about Cola and how messaging is changing the way people communicate and how our app is built to address these issues.

I was one of the few “business” folks presenting. The rest of the speakers were from academia and research. One of the highlights was getting to meet Vint Cerf and get my picture taken with him. He’s a charming guy, and he told me he enjoyed my presentation. That means a lot to me coming from someone like that. I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask if he’s sick of Al Gore jokes.

Me and Vint.

Me and Vint.

Vint Cerf and Peter Norvig

Vint Cerf and Peter Norvig

Hi Fi

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Linda has been on the hunt for an old school hi fi since we bought our daughter a turntable for her birthday. The original plan was to check the Treasure Island flea market, but we didn’t feel like making the drive. So she hit Craigslist and five minutes later found the perfect match.

It’s a Magnavox with a tube amp. Judging by the style, I’d guess it’s from the 60s. It sounds pretty good. We dug out some vinyl from our vast collection and spent a good chunk of Saturday showing the kids what “real” music is.

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"real music"

“real music”