Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Betting for a cause this SuperBowl

superbowlI’m a big football fan and, despite not having grown up in Denver, have been a fan of the Broncos since I was little (my grandparents lived in Denver and my sister and I spent a month every summer here with them – my Grandmother’s passion for the Broncos rubbed off on me at a very early age).

So, of course I’m excited that they’re in the SuperBowl (again!). This has lead to the inevitable side bets with friends in Seattle. If the Broncos prevail I’ll be eating some fine Seattle smoked salmon while watching pictures of my friend Cory sporting the latest in Broncos paraphernalia (among a handful of personal spoils for their victory).

But my most important bet is with Dan Levitan of Maveron. We thought it would be fun to put some real money on the line. But to do so for a good cause. The bet is $5,000. If the Broncos win, Dan gives that amount to the Children’s Hospital Colorado. If the Seahawks win, I give the same to Seattle Children’s. Win win for sure.

We’re doing this to have fun. But also to raise awareness about the good work both hospitals are doing in each of our communities (and beyond). And hopefully raise some more money for them as well. If you’re so inspired, make a similar bet. Or just give directly to support these worthy causes (Seattle Children’s here and Children’s Hospital Colorado here).

Oh. And GO BRONCOS!!!

#3010: The Video

I blogged last year about the amazing 40th birthday trip my wife Greeley sent me and 9 friends on – cycling through Slovenia and Italy (original blog post along with a bunch of pictures here). We had a video put together of the whole experience that I thought I’d share.

Thanks to Mike Shum for the video production!

February 27th, 2013     Categories: Life    

#3010

If you’ve been following me on social media I’m sure you noticed a bunch of posts tagged with #3010 at the beginning of September, along with some stunning photos of Slovenia. While it was fun to document the trip this way, it was such an amazing experience, I thought it deserved a full post. This was a trip for my 40th birthday (thus the #3010 hash) and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

First let me start out by stating how much my wife Greeley rocks! She’s truly amazing. This trip was her idea and she spent a lot of time and energy making sure it went off smoothly and that everyone was very well taken care of. Everything from arranging the trip logistics to putting together our schwag bags (complete with Tour of Thirty-Ten (spelled out in Slovenian), individually named “Cutters” tee-shirts, to adjusting last minute travel. Not to mention convincing 9 of my good friends to join me and then surprising me with the whole thing. I don’t even have the words to describe how appreciative I am.

We chose Slovenia to get a little off the beaten path in Europe (and I had always wanted to go to the Balkens). And we were not disappointed. Slovenia is a beautiful country with rolling geen hills and high mountains. The people are friendly and very welcoming to visitors. There’s great history and wonderful sight seeing.

 

 

Ljubljana. Ljubljana is a beautiful city, the capital of Slovenia. At only about 300,000 residents it’s a pretty managable size. A few years ago they closed off the city center to traffic and as a result its extremely pedestrian friendly with many outdoor cafes and bars. Three bridges mark the center of town and the entire city is watched over by the Ljubljana Castle from which there are pretty amazing vistas.

Below are a few pictures from town as well as 360 panoramas from the city center and Ljubljana Castle. While the weather was damp during our stay, the city was alive with color and history. I could write an entire post about our adventures there (including a fun evening sampling beers from around Europe at Patrick’s Pub in the town center as well as our rain-soaked (and failed) search for a karaoke bar culminating in Ari playing DJ at the Rock Bar (which specialized in American Rock music, but seemed to be missing the mark on what Americans really think of as classic American rock). Below are also a handful of pictures of our first day’s ride from Ljubljana to the resort town of Bled (with a few stops on the way to see the beautiful small country towns).


Marketplace

View down the river from one of the many bridges in the city

Locks on a bridge rail signifying couples’ love for each other

Great night shot in downtown Ljubljana

The morning pre-ride briefing

The food was great in Slovenia

On the road!

Team #3010 – day 1 on the bikes

Stopping to confer with our guide Ron in a town square

Beer!




 

 

Bled. After two days in Ljubljana we hopped on our bikes and rode approximately 75k to the resort town of Bled. Our hotel was right on the lake (the lake view below was from my room in the hotel) and truly stunning. There was some kind of EU security summit going on when we arrived and the hotel was crawling with special security service officers (complete with ear pieces and several with large automatic weaponry on display). We had an extremely memorable dinner on the veranda of the hotel overlooking the lake. This spectacular venue was our home for two nights, as we went on an out and back ride the next day, stopping for a hike up to Savica Waterfall and to take a cable car ride up 1535 meters to Mt Vogel where we were treated to amazing views of the Julian Alps.


Stopping along the road with Pete

I can’t describe how clear this water is. Amazing!

View from my hotel room on Lake Bled

Walker taking the warning sign a bit too seriously

Ready to roll…

Savica Waterfall


Our transport up Mt. Vogel

 

 

Kransjka Gora. It’s hard to describe exactly how amazingly scenic our ride through Triglav National Park was as we rode from Bled to the town of Kransjka Gora. This was an incredibly fun and relaxing day or riding (with the occasional crazy incline to push up). We also took what turned out to be my favorite picture of the trip at the start of this day – Ari and I recreating the classic Tour de France “smoking” photo. It’s the first one below (and since a few people have asked, no – it wasn’t photoshopped). We managed to ride into both Austria and Italy on the day’s ride as well, which was pretty neat.


An intimate portrait of the Tour de #3010

Our omni-present Autin Lehman yellow support van

A brief foray into Austria

Wow!

And this wasn’t even the steepest hill we went up!

Pete was excited to take a quick side-trip into Italy

The gang ready to head out for the day

On the road

 

 

Vrsic Pass (the Queen’s Stage). Today was an epic climb up Vrsic Pass. 24 numbered hairpin turns on the way up to the top of the pass (all of those hairpins were cobbles as well, which added to the ambiance of the day) and 26 on the way down. There’s an embedded video of the descent, which included my crashing hard after my front tire went flat. About a minute after I was patched up, Brad took a more serious spill and ended up with 4 stitches and a new tooth (courtesy of a 3-D printer in the dentist’s office which Brad was pretty excited about). Scary but glad that everyone ended up ok.


The aftermath of Brad’s crash

Putting things back together after my fall

Ari celebrating his KOM

Top of the pass

That’s a lot of switchbacks!

Brad, Ryan and Jason actually decided to run up the pass (yikes!)

More beautiful scenery!

 

 

Northern Italy (the King’s Stage). What a great way to end an unforgettable week. From our overnight in Slovenia we headed into northern Italy to both catch yet more beautiful scenery as well as to stop for some wine tasting and a tour of what Bobby Stuckey from Frasca assured us was the best prosciutto in the world. An amazing end to an amazing week!


All in a hard day’s work

Our personalized Cutters tee’s courtesy of Greeley

Italia!

Vino!

The best prosciutto ever

Ready to head out for the King’s Stage
September 28th, 2012     Categories: Life    

Brad Feld Sings! (sort of)

Remember when I said that Brad can’t sing? Here’s the proof – a recording session in Jason’s studio for our I’m a VC video (Brad is wearing headphones with the music track piped in – all the better for us to clearly hear Brad himself in this outtake). Enjoy!

October 26th, 2011     Categories: Humor, Life    

How to teach your child to ride a bicycle

image This is totally off topic, but every time I tell people this story they love it and say they’ve never heard of this idea before so I thought I’d post it here. I didn’t make this method up (I can’t remember who told me about it, but living in the cycling capital of the US – Boulder, CO – it could have been any one of a hundred different people). We taught our two daughters how to ride using this method when they were around 4 and will have one more shot at it in the near future with our 3 year old son. The idea behind this method is that kids know how to pedal (they’ve been doing that just fine with training wheels) – what you really need to work on is balance and the easies way to do that is to take away all the other distractions so they can just focus on that one thing. Once they have that down they’ll be good to go. Both of our girls learned to ride using the method below in a few hours start to finish (where finish = riding around the block for the next hour by themselves).

Bike prep – Take the bike your child has been riding and remove the training wheels. Now take the pedals off and lower the seat so your child’s feet can very comfortably touch the ground when they are seated on the bike (the bike shouldn’t have to lean over at all for them to do this and they should be able to sit on the seat and touch the ground flat-footed).

Find the right training ground – You’ll need to find a concrete (NOT GRASS!) area for your kids to practice. It should be straight, have no bumps or obstacles and be slightly inclined (very, very slightly). 50 feet should do it.

Learning balance – Starting on the uphill side of your training area, have your child push off on their own down the road. You shouldn’t need to run beside them and you should definitely not hold or touch the bike at all. Their balance will be off and they’ll need to use their feet often to keep upright, which will be easy to do with the bike configured with a low seat and w/o pedals to get in their way.

Repeat – It may take a few times, but your child should start getting the hang of this relatively quickly. As the frequency with which they need to put their feet down decreases, encourage them to lift their feet off the ground a bit more. As they get more comfortable with it you may want to slightly raise the seat so the act of lifting their feet off the ground doesn’t throw their balance off.

Ready for pedals? The step above may take a bit and, of course, you’ll want to be giving plenty of encouragement. Our daughters thought this was a blast (I think they thought it was funny to ride without pedals). We let them do it for a while – making sure they were completely comfortable with balancing their bike. Once your child gets the hang of it, put the pedals back on the bike, but keep the seat low so they’ll have no trouble getting a foot down in case they need to. In our case, our kids took off around the block the very first time they tried to ride with the pedals back on. In other cases you may want to run the incline a few times while they pedal so they have the hang of it.

The best part of this method is that neither my wife nor I ran behind a bike holding onto the seat a single time. Seriously – not once. The kids had fun and they felt a great sense of accomplishment learning to ride so quickly. Two years later they are trail riding (this is Colorado, mind you).

October 6th, 2010     Categories: Life    

Head in the clouds

I spent the month of July up at our place in Granby, CO (just outside of Winter Park). My partner Brad has been a longtime fan of taking a month to work somewhere else, not travel and clear your head, but I’d never given it a try. And while I understand that not all jobs allow for this, I suspect that more people could do it (at least for a week or two) if they really wanted to.

Let me be clear that this wasn’t vacation. While I didn’t get on a plane for a month (which in and of itself felt like vacation), I was working full time – completely connected via email and phone. I actually intended to take a week of the month off, but with a number of financings closing and a Thursday full of board calls, my week off turned into about 2 days off instead. Other than those two days I was fully connected.

And the amazing thing about taking some time out of the office was how amazingly productive it was. I was completely caught up on email, totally connected to the happenings of the portfolio and my “to call” list shrunk down to zero. More importantly, I was able to spend a lot more time with my wife Greeley and our three kids (by far the biggest downside of my job is the time that it requires me to be away from my family).

While I recognize that time in the office is important I realized this summer that time out of the office is just as important. I’ll definitely be doing this again. And hopefully my pace of blogging will pick up this fall with some of the ideas bouncing around my head from July…

August 10th, 2010     Categories: Life    

How I lost my 1K status

If you followed this blog last year, you know that my quest to hit United 1K status ended with a December 26th trip from Denver to Washington DC. I left the house around 7:00am that morning and returned home that evening at 6:00pm, happily tweeting about the 30 miles I had to spare. And while I never want to make 1K again (that’s just too many miles to fly – especially back and forth from Denver to the east and west coasts, and in particular considering that I probably had another 20k miles on other airlines last year as well) I was pretty pleased with my achievement.

Fast forward about two weeks. I’m on my way to CES in early January. My (United) flight has already been delayed by two hours. They’ve loaded the plane, allowed us to sit on the tarmac and then pulled us back off the plane to try to locate a new aircraft. I’m four hours into my travel day and I haven’t gone anywhere and it’s not clear that I’ll be getting out at all. I’m sitting in the gate area downloading email when I receive the following from “United Mileage Plus” with the subject line “My Mileage Plus — Your updated account balance, 2009 Error in Calculation”:

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Seth Levine
Member

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Dear Seth Levine,

On behalf of United Airlines we wanted to thank you for your business and your continued support during these difficult economic times.  I am writing to you with regard to your current Mileage Plus account and an computer error we experienced last December.

Several thousand 1K Members’ Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) balances were incorrectly reported due to a processing error.  Fortunately we have corrected this and our systems are now accurate.  As a result your December 31, 2009 EQM balance was:

93,356 miles

We understand that this balance disqualifies you from the 1K Membership level, however due to the fact that we had a reporting error, we would like to extend an opportunity for you to travel by January 31, 2010 to achieve 100,000 EQM.  At that point your 1K Membership status will be restored

Below is your December 31, 2009 mileage summary. For more information, simply visit the My Mileage Plus home page now.

My Mileage Summary                                                              Premier Executive

Account Summary

Account Number:                                        XXXXXXXX

Current Membership Level:                       Premier Executive

Current Redeemable Miles Balance:        144,996

2009 Elite Qualifying Liles (EQM):            93,356

2009 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS):      55.5

Lifetime United Flight Miles:                      552,760

Redeemable miles expiration date:          Jun 30, 2011

Again, on behalf of United Airlines we are very sorry for this error and any inconvenience it may cause you.  We hope you will take advantage of our extension offer by January 31, 2010 to achieve your 1K Membership status. We look forward to seeing you on another United Airlines flight soon.

Sincerely,

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Ted Peters

VP Customer Relations

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I’m already steaming about United because of the delay and here I find out that my little trip to DC was all for naught – I’m still 7,000 miles away from my 1K goal. And I had checked probably 3 times with United about my account balance (making sure all of my December flights were in the system, checking to see if there were any other ways for me to get the miles w/o having to take a vacation day trip, etc.). I can’t believe they had it wrong. I tweet about the note. I tell the people around me at the airport what just happened. But I decide to wait until I cool down to actually call United and tell them when I think about their “computer error”. I’m sure that I’ll talk my way back to 1K, but if I call them right now I’ll just end up yelling at them and likely won’t make any friends in customer service.

Eventually my flight takes off and as it turns out I land at about the same time as my partner Brad, so I send him an email to wait for me so we can ride to our hotel together. We sit down in the car and he turns to me to ask if I had called United yet. But with a curious smirk on his face. I tell him I hadn’t – that I was too mad at the time to do it but was planning to do so from the hotel. I guess he felt sorry for me after such a bad travel day, because he looked at me and said: “yah. that was actually me and pete” referring to Pete Sheinbaum, CEO of Mandelbrot Project (and email expert from his days running Daily Candy). Kelly Collins from Foundry had also been in on the act (she has my United creds so they could log in to get the exact mileage amounts). They had planned to tell me later, but he couldn’t let it go any further. I actually didn’t believe him. Of course it had never occurred to me that this was anything but legitimate. And as it slowly sunk in that I had been utterly and completely taken, I literally couldn’t stop laughing.

Brad, Pete and Kelly really really got me.

And I’m still plotting my revenge…

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June 15th, 2010     Categories: Life    

Customer Loyalty

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I travel a lot. It’s mostly to relatively fun places (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, etc), but it’s pretty much all within the US. Living in Denver and traveling to the coasts makes it pretty difficult to rack up frequent flier miles (a round trip to New York is barely 3k miles). So while I feel like I’m constantly on the road (trying to change this habit for this year – more on that in a different post), I’m perennially falling just a little short of reaching 1K status (100,000 flight miles) on United.

So when I checked my account balance after my last scheduled business trip in December and found that I was only a few thousand miles short of 1K this year I felt compelled to remedy the situation. Even if it meant a pointless flight (United won’t allow you to purchase a flight to get miles – you actually have to make the trip). It’s a great example of what happens when you offer your best customers meaningful rewards (in United’s case better upgrades, shorter lines, priority boarding, etc; see a great post on this topic from Jim Keenan here). I spent about $600 and a day of my life flying from Denver to Washington, DC to earn just enough miles to hit 1K (I ended the trip with 100,030 flight miles in 2009). And I did it happily. Just to get the additional rewards offered by 1K.

Now I hope to never make 1K again (that’s a lot of miles and too many nights away) and at least one of my partners thinks I’m completely insane for doing what I did, but I’m extremely happy with the effort and the outcome.

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Let’s hope United can get me where I’m going a little more reliably ontime this year…

January 26th, 2010     Categories: Life     Tags:

AT&T reminds you not to use your phone

My wife received an email this morning from AT&T that said in part:

Our systems have detected that you are transmitting a substantial amount of data while roaming in areas not directly served by AT&T. The Terms and Conditions of our data plans (including unlimited plans) provide an "off-net usage" allowance that is equal to the lesser of 24 megabytes or 20% of the megabytes included in your plan.

I was surprised by this, not only because I hadn’t completely read the terms and conditions (I subsequently did and it’s in there – they can go so far as to cancel my account if they don’t like my network usage – on net or off, voice or data) but mostly because our phones were registering that they were on the AT&T network in all of the places that we travel to regularly.

I called customer service and learned a few interesting facts: 1) despite the phone indicating it is on network, sometimes it isn’t (in our case the town where we spend many of our weekends turns out to not be on their network); 2) AT&T has a new policy of going after "abusers" of the system (the Ts&Cs aren’t new – their aggressive enforcement is); and 3) going after abusers means that if we continue to use off-net data services they will either cut of our data when we’re outside of AT&T’s coverage area or simply terminate our account.

I can’t be the only person to see the unbelievable irony in AT&T’s action. Not only do they have one of the lowest quality networks in existence, and a very limited network outside of the major metro areas, and aren’t actually identifying to customers when they are on network vs. off network (presumably to give the perception that their limited network is actually larger than it really is), and they are the exclusive seller of one of the most powerful (read: data consuming) smartphones, but now they are threatening to cut off our service for using our phones for what they were designed for. My wife summed it up perfectly (and I think reflects a sentiment that is widely held): "If they didn’t have the iPhone I would drop AT&T!"

Even more amusing was the fact that my call to customer service was terminated when the call was dropped (there are many many dead zones around Boulder). My wife joked that we should send AT&T a termination letter stating that we weren’t going to honor the contract because their network coverage was so poor.

I think AT&T is walking into a PR nightmare if they start shutting people off like this. It’s one thing to have a crappy network. It’s another to punish your customers for your shortcomings.

September 1st, 2009     Categories: Life    

Denver to the top of Mt. Evans take II

Last year was my first joining Walker on his annual “Colorado Hajj” trip riding from the state capital building in Downtown Denver to the top of Mt. Evans (a 14,000ft mountain west of town) and back. It’s a pretty insane ride, but extremely fun and the kind of challenge that once you’ve tried it, it’s hard not to crave doing it again. This year’s ride came significantly earlier in the season’s than last year, meaning that legs and lungs were that much less prepared for the massive undertaking. Last year, Walker and I did the ride alone, but this year we had a gang of 8 to make things more interesting (and provide better drafting during the early ride). To give you a sense for what we did, check out the ride elevation profile below. You’ll see we stopped at mile 100 on the way back – more on that below.

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Here’s the chronology of the trip for those interested:

3:40am: Roll-out from Walkers house in Wash Park (just outside of Downtown Denver)

4:00am: Capital Building. We met up at the state capital building to officially hit the “5280 step” (the step leading up to the capital, pictured below, is officially one mile above sea level). Weather was surprisingly balmy – probably 65 degrees with almost no wind.

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5:58am: Top of Lookout Mountain. Just outside of Golden we hit our first real climb up Lookout Mountain. Last year we rode Lookout just as the sun was rising. This year, riding so close to summer solstice, we were riding in the morning sunlight. The top of Lookout Mountain is fantastic – we followed a rolling road for a few miles with great vistas west to the divide before descending slightly to a quick ride along I-70.

From I-70 we took the frontage road that descends down to the river and then up and over Floyd Hill. We eventually ended up on the old highway 6, which is now a bike path that leads into Idaho Springs (the Scott Lancaster Memorial Path)

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7:44am: Idaho Springs.  We stopped in Idaho Springs for a well earned breakfast burrito. From here it was to be about 30 miles – all uphill – to the top of Evans.

10:19: Echo Lake Lodge. 14 miles from the summit of Mt. Evans is the Echo Lake Loge and the fee station to the road up the mountain. We stopped at the Lodge for a refill of water (they couldn’t be nicer to cyclists at the lodge) and heard reports from the top of high winds and snow flurries. Still, undaunted, we layered up with clothing and figured we’d head up as far as we could.

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The weather up wasn’t as bad as the reports had indicated and while cloudy and somewhat brisk, the riding was smooth and, for me, relatively comfortable despite my being the only person in the group not riding a triple or compact gear set-up (although I do run a 12-27 in back for a small amount of climbing relief). From Summit Lake we headed up the final 5 miles of steep climbing and switchbacks to the summit of the mountain.

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1:32 Mt. Evans Summit! The time gaps here should give you some sense of the difficulty of the riding, but persistence is key on this trip and at just after 1:30 we topped out at on the Summit. The weather was starting to turn, but we had time for a nice shot by the trail sign (that’s me, Bo and Pat in the picture below).

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With the weather quickly deteriorating (it was snowing when we took off from the summit) we started back down. By this time the snow was really falling and the roads were completely soaked. Unfortunately breaking caused my hands to freeze up and I spent most of the very fast ride down trying to keep my fingers from going completely numb (think ambient temperature in the 30′s and speeds of 35MPH through the rain). Towards the bottom it was actually enjoyable (after the feeling returned in my fingers and toes) but at the top I was seriously considering whether I could hitchhike down.

2:45  Back at Echo Lake Lodge. After about 45 minutes of the coldest, wettest descent of my life I was back at the Echo Lake Lodge. Fortunately the Lodge is heated and we warmed up with some lunch and hot beverages. The rain was really coming down now and we decided that we’d ride up and over Squaw Pass and down into Evergreen and then make a decision about whether to call in a ride.

The ride down from the top of Squaw Pass (which wasn’t a very long ascent, although my legs were not happy with me at the time) was extremely fast and extremely fun. In hindsight I might have backed off a bit given the rain but I was very focused on hitting Evergreen and meeting up with the sag wagon we had called in to come pick us up.

4:45 Evergreen. Definitely worse for rain ware but happy to be off the bike, we called it quits in Evergreen and grabbed a ride back into Denver.

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The final ride stats according to the Garmin GPS that we had along were as follows:

Mileage: 100.48

Time: 9:42hrs

Total Elevation Gain: 13,203

Max Elevation: 14,179

And despite the cold and rain, we’ll all be doing it again next year. Care to join?

 

 

June 25th, 2009     Categories: Life