Planet Granite Comment Cards

I’ve been meaning to find a way to share these for quite a while. There was a point in the not too distant past when I thoroughly enjoyed leaving comment cards at the Planet Granite. I would attempt to leave a couple a week. here is a collection of some of the comment cards I’ve left. Please beware, some of them have foul language.

Also, please note that throughout the entire time I was leaving these cards I had a relationship with the management at Planet Granite and it was very clear that I was leaving most of these comments with nothing but humor in mind. The people who read them are working really hard and have to deal with very tough customers day in and day out and this was an attempt to leave some humor for them throughout the week.

D.T.B.G

Do Something Great

Recently United States launches its first astronauts into space since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. SpaceX and NASA just launched at 3:30 pm eastern on Saturday May 30, 2020.

DTBG is an abbreviation for Dare To Be Great.

I was first introduced to the acronym when I joined RelateIQ in 2014. It was our official company motto. We had signs up in the office to remind us to D.T.B.G. and the number of times I’ve uttered either the phrase or acronym is probably incalculable.

It was probably years after I started using the term that I began to understand the phrases origin story. It stems from a speech from President Theodore Roosevelt titled Citizenship in a Republic delivered at Sorbonne in Paris, August 23, 1910. The speech is long, and there is a key section that is called The Man in the Arena speech. Here is that section:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This quote is at the start of Bernée Brown’s book Daring Greatly. Throughout the several hundred pages of her text (which I have listened to once and am in the process of re-reading), Bernée talks about the work that we as humans need to go through to actually dare greatly. She talks about shame and vulnerability and many stories and asides along the way. There is more to the book and more that I will write about once my thoughts have fully been collected, but using this quote caused me to look at it again.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been misunderstanding DTBG from the beginning. My understanding was that I shouldn’t just strive to do okay, but should strive for the highest honors and the greatest achievement. Going all out for everything at all times. Leave nothing behind.

After reading more of the speech and dissecting the the paragraph above I’ve come to a very different conclusion about this passage and the meaning of Daring To Be Great. Yes, Roosevelt was talking about achieving greatness, but the way to get there isn’t what I thought. There are going to be moments where swinging for the fences is the right thing to do, but more than taking a big swing, getting off the bench and swinging at all is the important thing. We have to try. It’s about the trying, win or lose. It doesn’t need to be about winning but playing the game.


In the present time with so much going on, I’ve been stuck on how to contribute, how to stand up and play. Between the Black Lives Matter and Covid 19 crisis, I’ve felt extremely powerless. I don’t know what to do. Not knowing what to do has kept me in a place of sitting on the bench. A place of thought and criticism. I’m afraid to DTBG because I’m afraid of hurting or offending others. I’m afraid of standing up and taking time and space away from other voices that need to be heard.

But greatness isn’t achieved by those who sit by and read. By those who criticize others. Who judge one thing as the wrong thing to do be done and another as the right thing. The act of doing is the art of learning. I’m hoping to follow this motto that has been in life for over six years now, and I’m finally just beginning to understand.

Cover Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Linda Motorkid

Smiling Linda

I lost a friend last week. She was amazing and I want everyone to know about Linda.

I met Linda six years ago in the Planet Granite Masters Class. She always climbed levels above me, but was never too busy to encourage me as I worked on my projects. She was a magnificent climber.

Linda shaped my life with our friendship. One such example was the following exchange (to the best of my memory):

Zack: “I really want to get better at climbing so I can climb with you”
Linda: “You are a coach, how would you coach yourself to get better”
Zack: “I would hire a coach, it’s really hard to coach oneself.”
Zack goes out and gets a climbing coach and gets better at climbing and life.

There were adventure trips with her to Yosemite (multiple) and Bowman Lake up in Tahoe. I remember a boulder adventure to Castle Rock. There were an appearances at my birthday parties and just general tons of fun and laughs.

The collection of stories that runs between our lives is complex and this is just a taste. What I’m failing to convey is the caring emotion she brought with her. The kindness and compassion that moved me and inspired me. The connections between me and others that are stronger because of her compassion and involvement in my life.

I’m going to miss her terribly. To all of those who had the pleasure of knowing Linda like I did, I’m sorry for your loss. To those of you who didn’t know Linda, I’m sorry that you didn’t get to meet her.

I reserve the right to update this post as more pertinent details about this amazing human come to me.

Covid-19

My life has been shaped by this microscopic little virus called Novel Coronoavirus. It’s a small little virus that is changing our world. It is changing the way we see each other and treat each other. It is effecting our relationships in so many different ways, and it is also negatively effecting our economy.

I am worried on so many levels. I’m worried about what this means to our human relationships. I’m worried about what this means to my career as an acroyoga instructor. I’m worried about how this is affecting my roommate dynamics.

In years we may forget what happened, so here is my interpretation of what happened. This is from my perspective, and not to supersede any truly researched document. This is from the middle of the pandemic, it is not over yet.

In late 2019 a virus emerged in China. This virus was in the same family as the common cold and flu. As we moved into 2020 it was suggested that this virus might be something more deadly than the flu, and it might be spreading, but it was still happening in China and not in the US. The news was reporting on it, but all the reports were on the spread and not very many were on the effects of the virus. I remember trying to google what the symptoms and duration of the virus were. There was no information on that. It was all about the spread. It made me feel like the news was playing into the hysterical nature of the spread and missing the actual effects of the virus. I’ll admit I did not take it seriously, my perspective was that it was a new version of the flu, and that death rate was not as severe.

Then the virus jumped from China to the US.

I went from not understanding the virus to being ordered to keep distance from people. All the Acro groups that I was involved in were looking at suspending classes and events. My work was issuing statements about working from home if we experienced any symptoms.

At this point I remember believing that this virus was only really deadly to a small subset of people: the elderly and people with conditions that already weakened their immune systems. To everyone else it was just a regular flu. It wouldn’t be bad if it I got the virus. I would get over it in a couple of days, maybe a week, and then have the antibodies in my system.

My company officially started working entirely remotely (closed down the office) on Friday March 13th (last day in the office), and there were only five of us in the office on that date. The official Shelter In Place order went out the next week. That first week I remember checking the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara Country Department of public health for information the number of cases and deaths in both areas. None of the numbers seemed to make sense for how much we were isolating ourselves. The stock market began to feel the effects of the economy being shut down. One of my roommates kept talking about how unprecedented this was. Things became more and more surreal.

I leave my house for the necessities like grocery shopping and exercise. I don’t have close interpersonal contact with anyone other than those living in my house. Connection and communication is done through phone calls, Google Hangouts, FaceTimes, and Zoom meetings. Fitness has been small in house workouts or bikes or runs. Everyone has had to find ways to cope with the situation. Personally I have invented a bunch of projects and tackled them vigorously. Everything from cleaning my room to scanning old photos. The only way I can stay sane is by finding something to do around the house.

Generally, for the most part I have felt hopeless. The Shelter In Place is now extended through the month of April. More and more people are being laid off from work. This creates an interesting space where there are some really great people out there looking for work, but there are less and less jobs out there for them.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the Shelter In Place is the right thing for us as a society to be doing. I’m disappointed that it took me so long to agree with the order. I still have concerns about our future, but I’m surviving in this plan. I have found what I need to do in order to keep myself together. Wish I had gotten here quicker than I did, but at least I’m here now.

Cover Photo: unsplash-logoVincent Ghilione

Villanova Fight Song

The other day I stumbled across this awesome project by FiveThirtyEight: Our Guide To The Exuberant Nonsense Of College Fight Songs | FiveThirtyEight while googling for fight songs. I was a cheerleader in college and still have my fight song memorized. I went the Villanova, and our Fight Song was called “V for Villanova”. The words were as follows:

“V” for Villanova, “V” for Victory
“B” for Blue and “W” for White

For the Blue and the White we will fight!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Fight for Villanova, Fight for Victory

For we’re out to win the fray;
Villanova leads the way,
With a capital “V” for Victory.

Vill-a-no-va, V-I-L-L-A-N-O-V-A
“V” for Vic-tor-y, V-I-C-T-O-R-Y
It’s a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye,
and a “V” for a V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

“V” for Villanova, “V” for Victory
“B” for Blue and “W” for White

For the Blue and the White we will fight!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Fight for Villanova, Fight for Victory

For we’re out to beat the foe
Show the en-e-my we know
how to win with a “V” for Victory.

This isn’t included in the 538 study because it wasn’t part of the schools they selected. Regardless, I’ve decided to post the values for the CSV that they are using:

ColumnValue
schoolVillanova University
conferenceColonial Athletic Association
song_nameV For Villanova
writersLes Irving
yearUnknown
student_writerUnknown
official_songYes
contestNo
bpm145
sec_duration73
fightYes
number_fights12
victoryYes
win_wonYes
victory_win_wonYes
rahNo
nonsenseNo
colorsYes
menNo
opponentsNo
spellingYes
trope_count5
spotify_id3Xe4aLJbQcEAmbyeM5DJbC

A couple of additional notes:

  • BPM is a guess by someone who knows better than me.
  • Information obtained for this was sourced from several places and may not be completely accurate. Information is provided to the best of my abilities.

TLog_0021 – Bringing it back – Mac tools

Like the great Mr. Neistat, I have taken a very long break from writing daily. Having something important to share with the world is hard, and honestly, I don’t. There is nothing overly important about me. Nothing super unique about the way I think or what I experience, so finding something to write and share is not easy.

So on with the unimportant things I can share with you. Lets talk about the tooling I use every day on my computer that helps me get through all the work I do every day. These are tools that I’ve come to trust and when I go to another machine that doesn’t have them, I can get very frustrated. Here’s a list:

  • Flycut – This is a keyboard manager that allows me to have a history of my text clipboard. This is super useful when you might need to copy multiple things.
  • SizeUp – This is a window manager. I have they board shortcuts managed. Only gripe is that the up spaces gets in the way of the Xcode change between .h and .m so I have delete that mapping. Other than that, this piece of software is a saver.
  • Sublime Text – This is what I wish the Mac text editor app was. Sometimes I even use this as a pass through to paste things into google or excel so it looses the format. I used to use text mate, but switched to sublime text and now it is a requirement.

There are many other little pieces that I use on a daily basis, but these three tools make the a Mac usable and without them I have a pretty hard time. Some other things worth noting:

Deciding To

As an adult life gets in the way. You need to clean (we actually hire someone to clean our space), you need to take care of your stuff, you need to process the events that occur. Life is full of change but if you spend all your time processing the change, you won’t change yourself.

Changing oneself isn’t an easy thing.

It takes time and effort.

What is stopping you from change?

I’m not even talking about a dramatic change. This post is inspired by finishing a book about self improvement and committing to try and make space for the changes in everyday life I want to make. Here are a couple:

• Learn to cook

• I’ve been baking for the drop zone (yes, I’ve started sky diving, more on that later). In the process of learning to bake, I’m learning about the appliances and equipment we have in our kitchen. My cooking is limited, but I’m enjoying it.

• Clean my room

• I’ll admit, I have too much stuff. Some of it is great to have, some of it just takes up space, both in terms of what is going on in my brain and what I need to manage. Cleaning my room means figuring out what stuff I really love and what stuff I don’t and trying to cull my crazy collection of stuff.

• Get in Shape

• Part of this is diet, and learning to cook will help, but I’ve put on a bunch of weight as I’ve gotten older. Some of it is really helpful for ballast while balancing people on top of me, but my belly gets in the way when trying to do some L-Basing Acro, and it would be nice to be lighter to climb harder things.

• Figure out me

• I do a lot of things. People are often surprised at the amount of stuff I do. What people don’t know is that I often do things just to do them. I need to spend some serious time investigating what I enjoy. What I would like to do for me.

The point is that while completing a change might be complex and intricate, requiring countless hours of toil, starting to change is just about deciding and doing. It doesn’t need to be giant. In my head, starting to change is about intention. Even before the action, you need to derive your intention. Using this intention is the only way I can think to motivate myself. Why do you want to make the change? Write down your answer and check every day if that is really where you are. If it’s not, either you have a new reason, or that change wasn’t for you. You don’t need to share the reason with anyone. I’m not sharing all my reasons here.

Anyway, I, personally, live in a space of over contemplation and want to shift it to a little more action. Maybe this will inspire you to figure out what you want, maybe not.

Bay Area Acro

For those who don’t know, I’m a little obsessed with AcroYoga. I found it about two years ago and I’m a certified Acro teacher now and teach at least two classes a week (hoping to pick up a third).

There are already a bunch of really great resources out there for finding classes. Acromaps.com is one of my favorite. The problem I’ve found is that is often challenging to figure out what is current and what isn’t. I’ve gone to acromaps to find jams and hangouts that just don’t exist.

To that end I’ve created a website called bayareaacro.com. It is a simple website with a curated list of Bay Area AcroYoga classes. It is by no means comprehensive, does not include San Francisco or the East Bay (though I’d be open to changing that if someone wanted to the curator for those areas).

Hopefully you find it useful.

Life Is Short, Don’t Wait To Dance

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Life is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance is a nonfiction work by Valorie Kondos Field about her life, beliefs and coaching philosophy. This book covers her history as a coach, how she ended up as a member of the UCLA hall of fame and brought the best out of her athletes.

This book is worth the read. Even if you read this whole post, I won’t do it justice.

Valorie is special. She led a team of female gymnasts to a national title without ever being a gymnast. Coaching something you’ve mastered is one thing, coaching something you’ve never done is a whole level up. Valorie talks about how she got into the field and how she learned how to be a better coach. How she realized that skills she needed to teach her athletes weren’t quips, but were the same life skills she had used to be successful in her life.

If you want a taste Valorie before committing to reading this book, I would recommend her appearance on The Finding Master Podcast at Valorie Kondos Field, UCLA Gymnastics Head Coach | Finding Mastery.

Here are some of the key concepts I took away from the book:

  • Choose Happy – You can choose to be a happy person or a sad person. Instead of looking at all the faults, choose to be happy.
  • Act “As If” – Acting as if you are a healthy person can lead you to be a healthy person. Sometimes stepping into the role before you actually are the role will help you get there.
  • Gratitude – This one is huge for me. Everyone I know has been talking about gratitude recently. I’ve started a 10 things a day list and am pretty happy with how far I’ve come in reframing my life here.
  • Personal days – This is a concept that I have at work but have never thought about in athletics. Respecting the athlete to have personal practice days where they need their time. I believe Coach Val gives athletes 3 days per year, but the athlete can ask for the day or the coach can suggest an athlete takes the days and there are no consequences for missing it.

Just to wrap this review up. Reading this book was very inspirational to me as an athlete, coach and human. I would recommend this book. I’m not sure if it will be the first book I’d recommend to everyone, but Miss Val has lead a very inspirational life and I enjoyed getting to know more about her experiences, coaching beliefs, and funny stories.

Poem: Tahoe

Mecca of Snow + Ski

A great place for gaining chi

 

Not too far from Reno

Best enjoyed with a glass of Vino

 

Snow is better than the east coast

Good enough for this worthy toast

 

The air is so crisp and clear

So raise your very best beer

 

Lets start this off with the right level of cheer

Stand Up, get off your rear

 

Get your ass out here

Even if you are not near

 

Because this is the place

Come show your face!