Posts made in 2016

2016 Year in Review

Posted on Dec 31, 2016 in General | 0 comments

15697440_10155094814014396_1593391325734765536_nAnother one down and much change had.

General

  • The big one – I got divorced. I’m okay, thanks. Halle is making sure I don’t get too lonely and my friends have been wonderful allowing me to third wheel anything and everything.
  • The other big one – the house is sold. Well, pending for now, but I need to find something new and move within the next three weeks. Owning turned out to be an amazing investment, but the flip side to that is I can’t find anything suitable within my price range very easily. I’ll be moving to an apartment for at least the short term. Definitely not leaving Portland. Ideas for what’s next is buy a small place to live in/rent out part time, buy a condo and live in/rent out part time, put life into storage and travel, rent long-term and buy a cabin or something fun. In case you can’t tell by the options, my feet are itchy for some movement.
  • Family is all doing very well. Grandma moved to PA so I don’t get to see her much, but that just means I need to schedule a separate trip.
  • Fantasy football was nasty. Played in two leagues and in both had top picks not perform or go on IR. In the better of the two I ended up only starting a single drafted player in the final week of the season. Can’t win ’em all.

Goals/Achievements

  • R13667741_10154620525289396_6760467099498958483_oan 12 miles. I had no goal here so this is alright, but for real for real I’m definitely no runner any longer. Had I not been sick to close out the year I’d have gone out to the track to pop off a sub-6 mile just to prove to myself I still have it, but it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe I’ll get that done early in the next year.
  • Biked 6,041 miles. Two years straight of big leaps here and I expect next year to follow that trend. Really starting to feel strong on the bike. I have to thank my indoor trainer for a lot of this mileage; it has enabled me to ride when I otherwise wouldn’t want to or be able to. Moved up a category in cyclocross, the only discipline I really focused on.
  • Swam less than half a mile. After two years of no swimming whatsoever, we’ve got data again! This was a single trip across the Willamette. I’d really like to get into a routine of open water swimming, but I’m not going to fret if it doesn’t happen.
  • Hiked 15 miles. That’s terrible. I’m ashamed of this.
  • Spent 15.5 hours snowboarding. Quickly approaching “not a beginner.”
  • Weight dropped to a low of 162 and an average of 165 or so. This did wonders for my cycling power to weight ratio. I’m currently at “holiday weight” so no good year-end number to note, but I’ve clearly made a breakthrough after years in the low 170s. Eating cleaner and burning more calories is the trick.
  • Burned 317,000 calories. 10% jump from last year.
  • Read 24 books. Well, 23 at the time of this writing, but I’m finishing another today. I’ve found this to be a healthy number, which I’ve been hitting year after year. Outliers was the best book I read.
  • Rated 140 titles on Netflix. Must-see titles according to me are Captain Fantastic and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
  • Reviewed 7 businesses on Yelp. I’m over it. I still use it for recommendations, but am not interested in sharing my opinion as much anymore. Farewell, Gold Elite status and the perks that come with it.

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Monthly Highlights

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2017? More miles, a road upgrade, becomes a “masters” racer (I’m supposed to start slowing down? PFFT!), more adventures, everyone having kids/having to step up the Uncle Mikey game. Looking forward to a fresh one.

Previous years in review: 2015201420132012201120102009200820072006.

Season’s End: A Cyclocross Wrap-up

Posted on Nov 14, 2016 in Cycling | 0 comments

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Yesterday marked the end of bicycle racing season. You can read about my somewhat abbreviated road season here. There was no mountain biking worth mentioning.

Cyclocross season started out with big hopes; I won the last race of the year last year (you can barely notice the damage anymore unless you’re all up in my grill, but still a bitch having the fake front teeth – might go for the serious replacement in the next few years when I get a few $k burning a hole in my pocket), I was in better shape than ever before, and, well, that was enough for big hopes.

14691346_523553774507815_7122188837545876297_oI was not disappointed. I started the season with a podium and a pair of near podiums. I was also skirting that line of a mandatory upgrade, but was going to be able to eke out a series podium before getting the bump… and then bikes happened… I flatted in three of my next four races. The first occurred early in a race so having plenty of gas left, I decided to self upgrade for the afternoon. I never returned to the lower class and missed out on a series award solely due to not having finished enough races (I had the points for it) – had I walked across the finish line on that flat day I think I would have qualified, but it is what it is. I KNOW IN MY HEART I’M A WINNER!

Following my upgrade, I continued to flat all over the place and battle a bike I probably should have fully overhauled in the off-season. Bearings were seizing, brakes a mess, tires/wheels not working out at all. Not something I cared to deal with with double-header weekends all over the place so I went full tilt and ordered a new bike from Norco through Western Bikeworks (both team sponsors). Upon arrival a few days later I converted it to tubeless, sized it up, and that was it – fast, futureproof, and reliable. I’ll likely set the old bike up as a pit bike over the off-season since it’s worth very little used.

14595682_10154292147998557_8910834915856431712_nRacing the new category was… interesting. Due to some reworking of classing, moving from 4 to 3 puts you up against the 2 racers as well unless you’re 35+ (next year – shit) so it’s effectively a two class jump (some 2s race 1/2, but they don’t like getting beat up so many do not). This put 3s in a really funny position where they have to beat all of the 2s to even become a 2. I knew I wouldn’t be competitive, and I wasn’t, but it was refreshing to not care about winning, have fun, and watch the lines of the guys passing/lapping me. I started the final series finishing towards the back of the pack due to overthinking things and making a bunch of mental errors, but I’m safely in the front half now despite not having a call-up (the first ~25 riders always get to start at the front, which is a monster advantage) all season.

Yesterday was likely my best race of the season. I started 7th from the back and finished 29th of 64. It was a course that really suited raw power over my lack of technical ability.

What’s next? I’ve already accomplished my yearly mileage goal so I’ll probably take a few weeks “easy” (ratchet down to ~100 miles/week), think about an offseason training plan, put on a few pounds, get involved in some online racing (how badass is this kit!?), and start planning out the 2017 season.

The goals for 2017 are pretty much already set since cycling progression is pretty clearly defined – upgrade to 3 on the road, try track, maybe pick up a new mountain bike so I’ll actually go out and do that, get to the front of the Open 2/3 pack or upgrade to Masters 2 in Cross, and generally do a lot more travel/riding stuff – trace along with the Tour of California, maybe go to Italy with a teammate, maybe go to France for the Tour, PacNW/Cali bike touring, etc… Bikes are good and making it through an entire year (24 races) without a trip to the ER is great.

Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love

Posted on Oct 14, 2016 in Books | 0 comments

inspiredlgLong time since a book review, eh? I might get back to it. I make tons of highlights when e-reading that I never get back to/review and therefore I get little out of. Recalling my school days, rereading my notes one extra time made them sink in way better – this is more for me than you.

Background: I moved from QA to Product Management about a year ago. Our teams were growing, I had a lot of product knowledge, I’m pretty decent at communicating, my background had me thinking of the customer already… It was a pretty natural fit. Still learning a lot, messing up a little, and enjoying it. If nothing else, it’s been great to have an opportunity to get out of QA – I was feeling a bit pigeonholed there and am no more.

Anyway, one of the best ways to learn this new role is through reading. I’ve reviewed a couple of design books on here before, but I’ve also read a lot more that I’ve not added. GETTING BACK TO IT STARTING NOW.

I discovered this book through a list of recommendations at work, which have been hit and miss. I’d call this one by Marty Cagan a hit and would definitely recommended it. There’s a strong focus on internet service products and consumers, but a lot of it crosses product and customer types.

My Highlights:

  • The job of the product manager is to discover a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible.
  • Engineers are typically very poor at user experience design—engineers think in terms of implementation models.
  • The job of the product manager is to identify the minimal possible product that meets the objectives.
  • The product manager has two key responsibilities: assessing product opportunities, and defining the product to be built.
  • Your mission as the product manager during the implementation phase is to jump on their questions and get answers as fast as humanly possible.
  • It’s all about the team and the caliber of the individuals.
  • Everything begins with the right product team.
  • If you neglect the infrastructure, all software will reach the point where it can no longer support the functionality it needs to.
  • The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
  • It can be dangerous for a product manager to have too much domain expertise.
  • Every new product manager needs roughly three months of hard learning before you can entrust them with the responsibility of guiding a product. During this time, the new product manager needs to immerse herself with target users and customers.
  • If you micromanage your product managers, they will not step up and take ownership the way you need them to.
  • Always hire people that you believe are smarter than yourself.
  • “Specials” (doing explicitly-defined work for a specific customer typically in exchange for their agreement to purchase your product) are so dangerous. They represent bad revenue, and hurt your company’s ability to deliver products that create happy users.
  • The more latitude you can give your engineers and user experience designers in coming up with the solutions to the problems you are trying to solve, the more likely they will come up with something that customers will love.
  • Most managers prefer to see your recommendations on how to solve problems you encounter rather than just a statement of the problem.
  • Every member of the team should be able to see the goals and objectives you are using, their priority, and how you assess each option. The decision—and the reasoning behind how you got there—should be clear to all.
  • Your goal is to [have] at least six happy, live, referenceable customers from your target market.
  • Customer surveys are so easy and so inexpensive, that they’re a must-do for any product.
  • Winning products come from the deep understanding of the user’s needs combined with an equally deep understanding of what’s just now possible.
  • It is an extremely common mistake for a product to try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one.
  • Any startup has to realize that everything starts with the right product, so the first order of business is to figure out what that is.
  • In many cases, the best ideas come from the bottom up.
  • Innovation is rarely about solving an entirely new problem. More often it is solving an existing problem in a new way.
  • [Product managers should] focus on the most miserable thing people have to deal with everyday.

Road Recap

Posted on Sep 13, 2016 in Cycling | 0 comments

Hi there! Still alive. Lots to share about the summer, but we’ll save most of it for later. Road racing season has come to a close and while it’s fresh in my mind I might as well write about it!

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Killer camping and biking weekend w/ the team at McKenzie River and Pass

I had an amazing off-season thanks to my Kickr. Came into the season with a ton more focused miles and strength than ever before, but my mind wasn’t really there. Life, burnout from 31 races in 2015, crashing in the final race last year… In the end I didn’t really race much – ten races, mostly weeknight series.

The bulk of my racing was at the Tabor series. I upgraded in the middle to end of the series last year and it was a struggle. I had resigned myself to winning prime laps and hoping to hang on. This year with added fitness and down about 10 pounds, I actually had some climbing skills! I still couldn’t hang with the big guns for the final sprint, but I was there at the end of the race and even capable of going for primes and recovering as if they didn’t happen. Last year I averaged 15th place, this year… hrm, only 11th, but it was overall a much stronger note than last. I finally got things together with a 6th in the final race with lots of gas left so while I think I had the fitness all along, I simply didn’t know how to race it until the end.

Following Tabor I did a couple of Monday/Tuesday races at PIR. Things went surprisingly poorly following a 4th in the first race. Tactical errors above anything else, but that’s part of the game. I’m certain had I done more races and gotten a handle for it I’d have seen a handful of podiums. Alas, I wasn’t focusing on road this year so no big deal.

On a whim, I went out and raced the state championship down in Eugene. It would be my first and only proper road race of the year. Things were going pretty well in the 3/4 race, but it was an extremely hot day and without support it was not possible on the two bottles I had. With ten miles to go (sixty mile race) I ran out of fluids and my body shutdown. Pretty miraculous I made it to the finish. I probably should have stopped when I noticed myself woozily avoiding riding into ditches on uphills. Yeah, bad… A lot of folks didn’t finish that day so I don’t feel too bad about it, but it was a lot of effort for naught. I hadn’t done a lot of long riding this year either so I pretty much set myself up for failure by not knowing the resources I’d need to get through it or even having the muscle memory/makeup to make the ride possible.

No podiums, but also not much effort. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and (spoiler alert!) it’s really showing in cyclocross. I’ll provide a wrap-up of that and other things around November.

Results

That Brain Cancer Awareness Campaign

Posted on Jun 10, 2016 in General | 0 comments

If you’ve not yet blocked me on Facebook due to the overposting that was the month of May (or any given month depending on your taste), you will likely have noticed that through the entire month of May, I was reposting a new daily image about brain cancer. The campaign was the brainchild (PUN!) of a friend named Noelle. Her father was diagnosed with brain cancer around the middle of last year, and being a friend of friend, she found her way to me and we’ve been chatting ever since.

What she put together for this campaign was nothing short of amazing and extraordinary. The best part is that it can be reused every year with little to no modification. It was just the two of us sharing this year [I think], but my hope is that we can raise more awareness of the campaign among the brain cancer community and make it go crazy. If you see me posting these next May, please don’t hesitate to repost – brain cancer sucks, it can hit anyone for no good reason, and for something that is more or less a death sentence, it receives far too little attention.

The full campaign can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/26p4PVD and I’ve attached the images below.

Lastly, if you have any design needs, while I’ve never personally used her services, based on what she’s done here I’m pretty sure she’d do a kick-ass job for you: http://noellemullinsdesign.com.

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