Fatherhood, Life Updates, Uncategorized 0 comments on Talking about hummingbirds…

Talking about hummingbirds…

After setting up the treehouse for the kids, I decided to add a hummingbird feeder off of the end to see if we could become friendlier with our hummingbird neighbors.

It’s worked!

They love our yard for its flowers, and they love our yard for its hummingbird feeder. While we’re in the yard playing, they’re buzzing around us almost as if they don’t fear us at all. Today, the main fellow (or maybe the sneaky fellow – I can’t tell the difference yet) buzzed just out of arm’s length away from me, suspended in air as we watched each other.

He then went and chased, got chased, and I lost track of where he went.

The kids started playing pirates in the treehouse, and as they were bringing the treasure into the pirate ship, I said to Amelia, “Look, the hummingbird is back”.

Mr Hummingbird in the backyard
Mr Hummingbird in the backyard

I think her expression takes care of the rest of the story 🙂

Fatherhood, Uncategorized 0 comments on You know it’s a good morning when

You know it’s a good morning when

The kiddos and I went to work/school without Micky today. She was at home to make sure some deliveries were properly setup (come check out our mack-daddy backyard & deck!!)

And so in our way that we do, we talked most of the car ride about what we saw, words that start with certain letters, and what we were going to do that day. And then when the inevitable lull came in the conversation, we popped on the Bluetooth player, loaded up YouTube, and jammed to:

Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Amelia says to me, “Daddy, point to me when it’s my turn, and I’ll sing my part” which amounts to singing “Hot Damn” as loud as she can during the chorus (with a few “OOOHHHs” thrown in as well). Luka starts wiggling his butt, and gets his funk on. That boy has hips. That comes from my side of the family. Uptown Funk was my choice.

Then it was Luka’s turn. He decided to go with an instant classic…

Idina Menzel has nothing on us. We can belt this song like there’s no tomorrow. And I’m pretty sure that we don’t get a single lyric correct. That is true Onvural singing in the car magic.

And finally, Amelia went way past her years, and chose one of my all time favorites…

And as she sang, “Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah” we got to school, hopped out, and started our own individual days.

It feels like you’re doing something right when you can have mornings like these

just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 1 comment on Bringing amplifize back from the dead

Bringing amplifize back from the dead

I’ve built a website called amplifize. It’s a small community of 10-12 folks who share articles, and talk about them together. It started as a Google Reader replacement at scale, and has downsized into my own, small Internet water cooler shared by some really fun, random, and interesting folks.

Last week, I went to add the ability to edit comments… and I took the whole site down in the process 🙁

It then took me a full week to fix things. I was upgrading versions. Backing up data. Trying every darn StackOverflow article I could find to try to fix it. When it dawned on me that the only hope left was to rebuild the box. And that that wasn’t going to be pretty.

But I bit the bullet. The box is rebuilt. I need to reinstall some things, but the data was saved, and we’re back in business.

In the process, I cleaned things up. Removed a ton of unused files from the box. And lo and behold, the spring cleaning did the server, the app, and hopefully my soul a bit of good.

The week it was down though, I constantly kept looking for it. To find a wacky article. To debate some nuance of how funny a goat video could be. It’s something  that I’ve become so accustomed to just having there. And I genuinely missed it. And I think that means I’ve built something that I really love.

That’s a wonderful feeling 🙂

I’m glad it’s back up, and that we’re already sharing, commenting, reading, and just generally back to having fun.

Adventures in beekeeping, Uncategorized 0 comments on Talking about bees…

Talking about bees…

We are on week 2 of bees. 

I’ve reduced the hive down to one super (the technical term for the boxes). It started off as 3 boxes – 1 to house the bee transport box, 1 with frames (the technical term for where the bees build comb), and 1 to house extra sugar water. 

On day 2, I removed the bottom one which held the bee transport. 

Earlier this week, the extra sugar water that came with the transport ran out. So I dumped the top box just leaving me with the middle one filled with bees. 

On a daily basis, we’ve been refilling the sugar water feeder.  

Here’s what that looks like when you pull it out. Clear the bees away, refill the jar, and for most days you’re done. 

However, today, I did a full hive inspection. Check out the process. 

First, I take off the cover  


The bees are all over it, and that’s ok. This is the view inside the hive when everything comes off:

  Each of those black frames is a double-sided comb structure. Most of them are filled with eggs, larvae, and (slowly) capped comb that mean a new bee is about to be born. 
I pull each one out to check it out

And I’m greeted by a swarm of happy bees helping the family grow. 

I’m really close to adding a second box. The queen is busy working away at the outside frames, and then she’s going to want more space to lay eggs. 

The adventure keeps getting better! 

Adventures in beekeeping, Fatherhood, Uncategorized 0 comments on Don’t teach fear; teach respect instead

Don’t teach fear; teach respect instead

The bees are drinking as much sugar water as the kids are drinking milk. It’s amazing how quickly two sets of little ones can consume these liquids.

And so yesterday, I went to refill the sugar water for the bees so I wouldn’t have to do it this morning. Mornings are just too crazy to add another chore, but that’s a blog post for a different day. And one little worker bee decided she didn’t want to hop out of the feeder. So we brought her along, refilled the jar, and I was going to turn it over, but I didn’t want to drown her. Instead, we shook her out of the feeder onto the mulch, and put the feeder back in place.

At this point, the kids decided they wanted an up close view of a honey bee.

I can’t tell you how many people seem to be freaked out at the concept of being close to bees. Everyone’s first shared thought has been that I’m crazy because bees sting. We think this way because we’ve had bad experiences, and so we’ve either been taught, or taught ourselves, to fear stinging insects (as if they’re all created equally).

And so here we are, mere inches from the bee. Luka pointed out that she has stripes on her abdomen. Amelia counted her legs. We looked at how big her eyes were on her face. We talked about how it’s a girl bee, and that boy bees don’t fly. We talked about why you don’t touch the bee, and even though I mentioned that they sting when they’re scared, the conversation was more about not wanting to be touched, and respecting the life of another creature.

I don’t have to teach them to be afraid of bees. I just need to teach them to understand and respect the bees. And isn’t that a better state of mind for how to approach new things? I sure think so.


just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 0 comments on Why the “G” word doesn’t matter

Why the “G” word doesn’t matter

Today is the 23rd of April. It will be celebrated across Turkey as The Children’s Festival. It’s the day that the first government was established after the independence war against the Greeks and Allied occupiers after World War I. It’s called the Children’s Festival because Ataturk dedicated the government to the children and to Turkey’s future. 

Tomorrow is April 24 – which to the Armenian community is Armenian Genocide Commenoration Day. Specifically, it’s the 100th anniversary of the events between the Ottomans and the Armenians. 

In Turkey, my blog would be banned for putting those first two words – Armenian and Genocide – together in a sentence. 

President Obama has announced that he won’t call it a genocide, which is a big “win” for Turkey according to the Armenian-American community. 

I think they’re wrong. I don’t think the word matters. 

Here’s what I propose we worry about instead…

Let’s all use tomorrow to think about how easily, and effectively, modern technology has made it to mass murder millions of individuals with whom we disagree. 

Let’s look at the actions of the Americans (Trail of Tears) Belgians (Congo), the Ottomans (eastern Anatolia), the Germans (the Holocaust), and way too many more to list over the last 200 years, and understand what we need to actively do to prevent industrial mass murder from happening again. 

Because you see I can’t change what happened in the past. And the title I give those events doesn’t change that they happened. What I don’t know is whether there are legal ramifications of calling it a genocide, but I doubt Turkey would acknowledge them anyway. 

So I acknowledge that I can’t change the past. I also acknowledge that the past happened (this too might be illegal in Turkey). But I can be part of building a future that makes sure that the innocent, the young, the disadvantaged, and the unlucky still have a voice and a protectorate. 

And I think building that future (by learning from those events in the past) is way more valuable than redefining the words the President uses to describe them.

So I don’t think whether a politician calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide or not matters. People who didn’t need to, and shouldn’t have, died in numbers that were appalling (regardless of whether it was 1, 400k, or 1.5mil). 

But I do think that we have a responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And those are the words I want to hear from the West Wing. 

Life Updates, Uncategorized 4 comments on This week in review

This week in review

I’m bringing back this fan favorite because what a week it has been!

Micky and I took most of the week off to get our house in order for the baby. We spent Tuesday cleaning up the garage, and then went out to buy a car. We ended up with a white Acura 2011 MDX. I actually quite enjoyed the negotiation because the guy was very clearly surprised at the price he’d quoted us via email. So it goes. He got rid of the inventory. We picked up the monthly payment.

Let me also just say how much I hate having a car payment. Or any payments really. I know I have the mortgage, and that feels like a given. Everything else just feels like too much coordination. And it takes away from the other things I’d prefer to do 🙁

Oh well. New baby means bigger car. And there was no way we wanted to get a van. And so it goes.

Then we painted, cleaned, filed, organized bank accounts, fixed garage door openers, organized the garage, and everything else that it takes to feel like you’ve got your house put together.

The baby’s room looks really good. All of that credit goes to Micky.

The garage looks amazing. I’ll take 50% of the credit for that.

It was a really good week of work… ending with a Frozen Sing-a-long at the Castro Theater on Saturday.

just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 1 comment on Doing it right is hard

Doing it right is hard

There is a ton of DIY that I hate doing. And laundry. And in general most house hold chores. It’s just not my thing. 

But Micky is the exact opposite (except with the laundry). She loves DIY, and she does it well. 

Building the bee stand, and hives got me back in the spirit of building things, but I noticed something I know I need to fix. I measure once, cut twice way too often. 

I dinged our front door pretty badly a month or so ago, and so I had to fill it, and repaint it. Again, I measured once, painted twice. 

Doing these things where I don’t know the cheat codes is really frustrating. It’s slow. And I’m usually wrong no matter what I do. 

But when I redid the front door today, it looked like it had been finished the right way. And I could hear in Micky’s voice that it didn’t bother her to look at anymore. And that feels so good. 

I’ve been thinking about how to apply this at the office as well. If I know the answers am I waiting too long to share them with my team? What’s the balance of teach vs do? And how do I give that feedback successfully?

And on the flip side, am I demanding the right feedback from my peers? Are they letting me fail too much? And how do we help each other more?

All I know is, these days I’m the king of sanding, painting, and laundry 🙂

just thinking out loud, Uncategorized 0 comments on My urban jungle

My urban jungle

Micky and I are taking the week off to do tasks around the house to prepare for the baby. And before I started today’s adventures, I decided to sit at the back window and watch the backyard.

There’s a male hummingbird who lives in a tree two houses down. He loves our yard. He zips in and out. Always at the speed of sight. When the sun hits him just right, his red neck shines in the light like a neon Las Vegas sign. 

The bees agave made for themselves a home. They’re carrying in pollen, drinking the sugar water, and building their combs. 

A family of turtle doves sits at the base of the hive. I don’t know if they’re waiting for drops of honey or errant bees to make a snack out of. Either way they sing while they wait, and the harmony is beautiful. 

Spiders build webs. 

Along the fence evidence of skunks, rats, and raccoons are many and evident.

The artichoke plants are larger than life, with small artichoke hearts starting to make their way into the world. The grasses are growing. The bushes are blooming. The lemons ripen. 

Out of my window, in area code 94122, I have my own urban jungle. And a little sunshine to go with it. 

Becoming a PM, Uncategorized 2 comments on Accountability requires humility

Accountability requires humility

A big area of improvement for any product manager is demonstrating that they can be more accountable for a larger and larger scope.

First I think demonstrating that you can properly own a product is hard enough. Customer development, documentation, was it the right feature, should we kill it. All of these are not easy to get right.

Then add building and selling a road map to the mix. Vision statements, frameworks in which to make decisions, making long term bets. That doesn’t make it any easier. And you have to keep getting better at the first set of things.

And now, it’s all about doing the above  while putting together a series of large bets. Based on market analysis, competitive analysis, willingness to pay from the customer, intuition about what’s next, and how willing you are to fire your present to invest in your future.

The only way to do it is to admit you don’t know what you’re doing, and start to climb.

But I think that realizing that humility comes with this climb is something people forget. Humility to say, “I did that wrong. I own it. Let’s try again”. Humility to admit, “I don’t know what that is or how to do it. How can we figure it out?”.

I think companies need it as they grow up. People need it as they advance in their careers, and paths in life.

I also think it’s rare to see, hard to appreciate, and oftentimes a victim of finger pointing, and infighting.

So the question I need to solve is how do I create a culture of accountability (not hard) with humility (very hard)?

I’d love any ideas because I’m pretty close to all out.