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42: The answer to the universe

dontpanic

Yesterday I celebrated my 42nd birthday. I have to say, I’m both excited and a little concerned for what the next year may hold. Mainly because the past year has been pretty much insane. Let’s recap:

Business

What started out as a 3 person partnership went down to 2 at the beginning of 2011. Then, in early 2012 that went down to 1. I’m now the sole owner of 9seeds. I’m thrilled to say that I was able to lose two partners but keep both as friends. Their friendship means way more to me then having them be part of the company.

You might think that having 2 partners leave means that things aren’t going so well. Well, you’d be wrong. We just wrapped up one of our best months in our nearly 3 year history, and July is already shaping up to be better than June. So on the business side, things are good and the next year looks to be a big one for us.

Aside from just my own business, I have also had a lot of involvement with two groups looking to change the outsider’s perception of Las Vegas. VegasTech is a group of technology enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. Downtown Project is a group of passionate people looking to revitalize downtown Las Vegas in new and unexpected ways. After only a year there are already signs that big changes are on the way. I’m positive that what you seen in downtown Vegas 18-24 months from now is going to knock your socks off.

Personal

On January 10th, I did two things I had never done before. The first was something I had been wanting to do for a while. I gave a presentation at an Ignite event. For whatever reason, the shorter and more structured format for the talk made it really interesting to prepare for. I had an absolute blast.

What I didn’t know was also going to happen that day was that my tastes in certain foods was about to change. After Ignite, a group of us walked across the street to a little restaurant called Le Thai. If you had asked me earlier that day if I liked Thai food, I would have said no. But, we went and I really liked it. The spice level I chose (level 1) was a little outside of my comfort zone. The next time I went I ordered the same meal but with a zero spice level and realized I didn’t like it as much. I’ve switched back to level 1 and have probably eaten at Le Thai 20 more times since then.

The other big food/drink related change worth noting is my recently acquired interest in addiction to coffee related drinks. Blended Vanilla Mocha or Caramel Macchiato, neither of these would have ever been something I would have seen myself ordering. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have at least one of these each of the past 3 or 4 days. I haven’t gotten to the point of just ordering a cup of black coffee yet. But something tells me it’s probably not far off at this point.

Throw in my recent switch to ordering ‘mild’ rather than ‘plain’ chicken fingers and I think you can see that it’s been a pretty weird year. More than once I’ve been asked “Who are you and what have you done with John?”

What to do while 42

I’m not usually somebody who sets goals or plans things too far in the future. But, for the past year or so I have had a fun little idea in the back of my head. You see, I’ve pretty much been a geek my entire life. I bought my first computer (with my own money, mind you) when I was about 10. Around that same time I read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for the first time. I’ve since read the book a couple more times, but, something I have never done is read the entire series. So I figured, when better to read the entire series than while I’m 42? Nerdy? Absolutely. But it sounds like fun to me. And if you don’t get the reference, please go read the first book in the series.

Since I probably should do more than just read a handful of books over the course of the year, I’m also going to devote some time each week to sharpening my dev skills. Currently my focus is on JavaScript. There have been far too many times where I have put off building projects simply because I don’t know the JavaScript needed to make them successful. No more. This year I WILL learn how to use JavaScript to do the things I need.

I’ll set a reminder to write an update post each quarter to report back on how things are going with both projects.

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Not just any tequila will do

tequilaheader

How do you say happy birthday in Spanish? I’ll tell you how, Chinaco tequila!

chinaco-negroI have long been a fan of Chinaco tequila. I even wrote about taking it to our company holiday party back in 2005. But last summer while on a business trip in Santa Barbra I was having lunch at a tequila bar called Left at Albuquerque and found a bottle of Chinaco I had never seen before. I asked the bartender about it and he said it was called Chinaco Negro and was an extra anejo tequila. I didn’t feel comfortable having a shot of tequila just before hopping in to the rental car to drive back to the airport, so I passed up the opportunity to try it out. I have been kicking myself ever since.

On Sunday we had a few friends over to celebrate my birthday. I was extremely excited to open the gift presented by the entire group to find a bottle of Chinaco Negro. We each had a shot and I have to say, this tequila is, without a doubt, the best tequila I’ve ever had. I plan on keeping this around for a while and enjoying it slowly.

I had to do a little research to find out what the differences are between the different types of Chinaco. They all have to do with how long the are aged. The Blanco isn’t aged, Reposado aged 8 months, Anejo aged 3 years and the Negro aged 5 years.

You can read about the Chinaco Negro tequila at tequila.net

Big thanks to Chris, Gloria, Marcia and Charles for this amazingly awesome gift!

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OMG! He's 18

pax-17

Paxton at 8 WeeksIt’s nearly 3am. My friend Dave and I just finished playing Sega Genesis for the past 4 hours. I tip-toe in to the bedroom trying not to wake Chris. It’s no use. She’s awake.

“Don’t get comfortable.” she says.

“The doctor told us to stay home until you can’t stand the pain any more. Let me get a little sleep and then we’ll see how you are doing.” I tell her.

I dive in to bed and fall asleep hoping to steal 4 or 5 hours. But it’s no use.

12 days had passed since her due-date came and went. After 9 months and 12 days, and roughly 6 weeks before I’ll be able to legally purchase a beer, we are headed to the hospital. This is it. The big day.

I’m scared shitless.

After a relatively uneventful labor, sometime around 5pm, my wife gave birth to our first child. Our Son. Paxton.

That was 18 years ago today.

18 years. Wow. It still sounds incredible to say. My Son is 18. How is that possible? How did that happen? Where the hell did the time go?

It would take weeks to write about all the fun, exciting, terrifying, frustrating and proud moments I’ve experienced over the years. Instead, here’s just a few that jump out.

The first day
Paxton at 1 yearThat day was filled with a bunch of firsts. I remember vividly how amazing it was to watch the doctor hand my wife our newborn baby. A few minutes later I filled out some paper work and wrote a word that had taken on an entirely different level of meaning; Father.

Chris and I hadn’t confirmed the gender of our baby with the doctors ahead of time. Though we both strongly felt we would be having a boy. Even still, we hadn’t purchased any gender specific items prior to the birth. Even though I was running on almost zero sleep, after the Paxton was born and the doctors ran through their litany of tests, while Chris took the opportunity to get some much needed rest, I ducked out of the hospital with a friend and went to the mall. I returned a short time later with a pair of infant sized Air Jordans.

Paxton at 6
Eye surgery… yikes!
When Paxton was 6 he needed to have surgery to fix a “lazy eye”. This is one of those times in a parents life where they would give anything to switch places with their kid. No parent EVER wants to see their child having surgery. And of course, because of this, the whole process leading up to the event is absolutely terrifying to Chris and I. But, as parents, we need to explain to our Son what is going to happen. And, like the honest and forthcoming parents that we are, we sat Paxton down and told him the following; “Here’s what’s going to happen. The doctor is going to give you something to drink that will make you go to sleep. While you are sleeping he’s going to pull out your eye and pop it in his mouth and swirl it around to clean it all up. He’ll then pop it back in place and you’ll be all done.” There was a whole visual that went along with this where the doctor at one point drops the eyeball and it rolls around like a marble which he picks up, dusts off on the sleeve of his jacket and pops back in his mouth for further cleaning.

Remember: Honesty is the best policy!

Kids say the darndest things
I used to play in an ice hockey league which always had games late in the evening. Chris hated to stay home alone, so many times she would drag the kids along and sit in the stands to watch the games. As you can only imagine, as a little kid Paxton didn’t really enjoy going. He’d play some games, have some snacks and mostly be fairly civil. But that wasn’t always the case.
Paxton at 12
One night at a game on the other side of town, Paxton did his best to give Chris a hard time the ENTIRE game. By the time the game is over and I’ve had a chance to change in to street clothes, Chris had had all she could take. We got in the car and headed home. I was driving and Paxton was in the seat directly behind me. Paxton was not ready yet to give up on driving Chris crazy that night. While Chris temper increased, mine shot through the roof. After having had quite enough of his antics, (while driving on the freeway, mind you), I reached behind me to give him a smack on the leg to let him know I meant business. Unfortunately, the angle was horrible and I couldn’t reach him while driving without putting all our lives at risk. So instead of a smack, it was much more like a tap.

With the timing of seasoned comedian, Paxton says, “You hit like a girl.”

Houston, we have lift off.

I pulled the car over to the side of the freeway. I’m pretty sure Chris thought she was about to watch her son lose an arm or leg. Chris pulled out the perfect mechanism to defuse the situation… she started crying. We sat on the side of the road for a minute, collected ourselves and then got back on the road. The rest of the ride home was fairly silent. When we got home and put the kids to bed, Chris tells me that she had to start crying just to keep from laughing her head off. We must have spent the next 45 minutes cracking up about the whole scene.

To this day, “You hit like a girl” never fails to make me laugh.

Kids say the darndest things, part 2
Mom does all the laundry in the house. Which is a good thing or else we’d all walk around either naked or wearing some seriously stinky clothes. As kids get older, the size of their clothes start to get closer and closer to those of the adults in the house. So it’s really only a matter of time before somebody ends up with a stray item of clothes in their drawer that doesn’t belong to them.
Paxton at 13
One day Chris took the kids to Chuck-e-Cheese. After getting home Paxton goes to change in to his pajamas. When he comes out he says to Chris, “Mom, why did you buy me these freakishly huge underwear?”

Realizing that Paxton had been wearing my underwear the entire time they were out, Chris doubled over in laughter.

And now, here we are less than a month away from his high school graduation. Chris and I are pretty much in a state of shock. At any given moment one of us is always on the verge of vomiting. But really, we feel like the luckiest parents in the world. Paxton has always been a great, great kid. He’s never once been in trouble at school, he’s nearly a straight A student, we constantly get complements on his manners when we’re out… now, if we could just get him to clean his room.
Paxton at 14
Yesterday afternoon he hopped on a chartered bus with his classmates and headed to Disneyland for Grad-night. He got to spend the first few hours of his 18th birthday at the Happiest Place on Earth. Sounds like a pretty good birthday to me.

Happy Birthday, Paxton.

Now, get a job.

Paxton at 17 Paxton at 18
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Pole Position Indoor Karting

John Go-Karting

Saturday night, in honor of Kristen’s Birthday, a group of us met up at Pole Position Raceway for some go-kart racing. We had about 20 of use there, but only a dozen of us were racing. We signed up for a 2 race event. The first race has all 12 of us on the the track and they record your lap times. Then, in the second race they line you up NASCAR style and you have an all-out race.

These go-karts are like none I had ever seen before. They are all electric powered and they are all tied in to a hand-held remote control carried by one of the track officials. When they first let you out of the gate, they are on minimal power. Once everybody is on the track and they have the gate closed, he pushes the button put the karts in high gear. If there is any sort of incident on the track, a quick push of the button and the carts are back in low gear. It’s really a cool way to moderate the races. I’m sure that for more experienced racers, there is a gear higher than they let us have access to. I should thank them for keeping it away from us.

Todd and I both took our camera equipment. I was having a great time taking pictures of the other races that were going on between ours. Shooting at high speed was proving to be quite a challenge. I think I’d like to go back there and just practice shooting.

I hope to make it out there again. We had a great time and it was an awesome way to spend an evening with a dozen people and get them all involved in a single activity. I’m sure this would make a for a great team-building outing for companies. (If any of the higher-ups at my office are reading this… hint hint)

Before you pack up the kids and head over to Pole Position, keep two things in mind. First, it’s not cheap. The two race deal was $55 per person. For a family four, that’s a pricey evening out. Also, these cars are fast. My daughter basically missed the final part of an S turn and drove UNDER the barricade. It ripped her helmet off her head. Amazingly she wasn’t injured at all. Shaken up quite a bit, but nothing that some Aleve and rest couldn’t handle. Make sure the people you take with you have all had experience driving karts before. These are probably not the best for first timers.

Here’s a link to some additional photos from our racing adventures.