I was watching a TED talk on Youtube the other morning as I was getting ready, just like any good engineer in the Bay Area. Once the talk I was watching finished, the next talk was by a woman who was trying to convince me that life wasn’t about happiness, but rather purpose.

It may just be me, but this is not a new theory. I’ve always believed that there was a purpose, but I have had no clue about what it is.

In this cacophony of words, images, video, sounds, and generally multimedia, I often feel that sharing my opinion with the world is a bit trite.

I have traveled more than most. I have experienced a lot of different cultures and have unique experiences, but so does everyone. I’ve always wondered what makes mine special?

The answer is simply, it isn’t special. I am not special. Or more specifically, I’m probably exactly as special as anyone who would ever read this. If I’m special than so is everyone else.

Recently I’ve been contemplating the sources of information I consume. With Facebook maybe effecting the last Presidential election, I’m concerned that I spend so much time reading a plethoria of potentially unreliable articles. I don’t know if these writers are good stewards of my mind. As more and more information is available on the internet, it is hard to know what to trust.

This has lead me to two truths. Firstly, I should not be reponsible for deciding if you want to read my content. That is your choice. If you think my experiences are worth reading, great, read them. If you think I’m full of crap, write poorly, or am just generally annoying, feel free to ignore what I say. My second truth has been that if I ever want to be a voice in this world, I have to publish. I have to learn to write. There is relatively little harm in writing and having people ignore my content.

Sure, if someday I really learn how to write, I could be embarrassed about what I’ve written previously, but that is a risk I’m prepared to take in order to move forward in my writing.

Swim Across America, Year 3

Every year around the mid of September I do a swim in the SF bay. Well, by every year, I mean the last two years and I’m about to do my third year. Swim Across America is a special event.

Year One

I somehow got talked into doing this swim by one of my teammates, Jessica Steffins. Jessica is a phenomenal swimmer, she was actually part of team USA Waterpolo in 2012 that won the gold medal in 2012. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. It’s a very early morning start, around the palace of fine arts in the city.

Half asleep they throw you onto a bus and ship you across the city to where you board a ferry. Once on the ferry, you get tatted up with some temporary tattoos marking your commitment to the event. First year, you get a rookie tattoo. I plastered an additional tattoo on my forehead.

They then put you on a boat, and take you out into the bay. There is a ceremony where they invite people who have been touched by cancer to talk about their experiences with the disease. Some get up and talk about their loved ones, some doctors get up and talk about their experiences treating cancers, but the most powerful stories are those who are surviving with cancer and still out here to swim.

Those stories are really very powerful. I’d do the swim just for those stories alone.

Year one was a smaller group, we had only a couple of people from Salesforce signed up on our team. I believe there were four of us.

Once you jump off the boat you swim in to shore. I was wearing a full sleeved wetsuit and was very hot the whole way in. I panicked just out of the boat and was concerned about making it in. Jessica was there to calm me down and had me focus on taking a couple of strokes and breaking then doing a couple more then breaking again.

Year Two

Year two I practiced more. I spent a lot of time in the pool working on my swimming. We even did a practice run in the ocean. The group was much bigger, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 people. I got salesforce tattoos for the team.

The process was roughly the same, but there was a lot more current and it made the swim much harder, and I actually had to be towed in a bit at the end.

Year Three

It’s coming and I haven’t done any real training. I’ve been spending more time in the water this year, both in Newport, surfing, wind surfing, and wake boarding, but I have spent very little time on long swims. This is really going to be a change. Please consider donating!

Reasons to Donate

I’ve had several friends ask why they would donate to a swim that I’m doing? Here are several reasons why you should consider donating:

  • Most importantly: you agree with the notion that cancer is a terrible thing and it is especially terrible in the young ones. Childhood is rough enough, going through cancer as well just seems like too much.
  • You wish you could swim this year, but didn’t register in time, so you want to donate your sign up money to my fund.
  • The more you donate the more I feel like crap if I don’t make the swim. Help me raise my minimum so that I have no choice but to get up at 2 am, drive to the city and then spend some time in the super cold bay! Think of it as a punishment for all the ways I’ve annoyed you over the years. Get me back!
  • You want to support the engineering team. Currently I’m the only engineer on the SFIQ team, please don’t let Will Roller and his product ways beat me.

How to Donate


Go there and donate some money. Any little bit helps.

July Off

Two years ago I got to visit Newport, RI for a couple of days in October, but because we were right before Dreamforce I had to work almost the whole time I was here. I realized that even if I hadn’t needed to work I wouldn’t have been able to experience all of Newport that I wanted to experience, a weekend just isn’t enough. I promised myself that I would take the summer of 2017 off from work, and when I got back, I started asking my bosses how I could do it. Guess what? It’s the summer of 2017, and while I’ve decided not to take the whole summer off (I technically could have), I am taking July off.

There are no rules about this month. I’m not allowed to get mad at myself about doing a thing or not doing a thing. I’m not going to berate myself if I don’t build something spectacular, I’m just going to relax and do the things I feel like I need to. I’m reading a little about swift, I’m looking at a couple of other programming things that I’ve been meaning to look at but been too busy, but there are no requirements. I’m not accountable to other people this month, I’m accountable to what I want to do.

About half way through the month, I’ve driven across the country, done an acro yoga festival, visited seven different Patagonia stores (eight if you include Newport, which is a technically not a corporate owned store, but might as well be), sailed four of the last five days, been to Maine for the first time in over a decade, seen my niece and nephew, played with dogs, driven a scooter, and eaten at some of my favorite childhood restaurants (though I’m still searching for a good latté in Newport).

In short, my dream two years ago has been realized and I’m ecstatic about it, and I still have two weeks left!

As people we often talk about what we want to do, but if what you want to do turns into a dream, I suggest you find a way to make it happen. This one ended up not being that hard to pull off and I encourage you to look at your dreams and evaluate what it would to turn them into reality.

Five Dollar Fifth – The Conservation Fund

I’ve been thinking a lot about the environment ever since we elected a President that doesn’t believe in Climate Change. Apparently, so has my favoriate company Patagaonia. They donated 100% of their Black Friday sales to grass roots movements to help the enviroment, totally around 10 million dollars.

For this month’s fifth, I chose The Concservation Fund this month for my donation. Found it from Charity Watch, they have an A+ ranking. If you feel like going out and exploring is important to you, maybe you can consider donating as well.

The Story

This post is originally posted on clairevango.com

When I was a kid my family moved around a bit. We lived in CT, PA, KY and then back to CT again. We spent a couple summers on a boat in RI while parents handled the move between states. While my brothers and I were seperated by years, interests, and social cirlces, we found a way to coexist. We weren’t close, but we were never too far apart.

As an adult, I feel like I’ve missed something something by moving the west coast. I’ve missed opportunity to be closer to my family. I’ve missed the opportunity to see my brothers grow to be men. I know I will be missing much as they begin to start families and I’m 3000 miles away.

When my youngest brother told me I was going to be uncle, I felt emmense joy and also sadness because this was a transition in stage of life for him. I haven’t been around since he got out of the marines. I’ve never been close to him as an adult.

When the middle brother told me several weeks later that they were expecting, I realized that both of the relationships with my brothers were about to change.

I thought of the things I wish I had done with my brothers. I thought of the times I missed the most. My first thought was the long annoying road trips we used to take. From our home in Connecticut to skiing in VT. That time we traveled all the way to Maine, to visit our best friends the Beckers. At the time, these were painful experiences, but looking back on it, these were times where we learned about each other. One brother would pick the first CD we would listen to, another the next. Spencer got us into listening to the entire Harry Potter series on tape.

We learned a lot about each other on the road, stuck in a metal box for hours at a time.

These memories inspired my crazy idea:

Buy a van, build it out, and travel with them before they had their first children.

I’m a firm believer that I learn about myself and others on the road. This is the story of me, trying to learn about my brothers and myself on the open road.

Zen and the Art of Zack

This week I caught myself hunting for new sneakers. I’m in my room right now, and I can see no less than 5 pairs of sneakers in sight. I know have a bunch more around my room. The thing is, I don’t need more sneakers. I’m hunting for sneakers. I could find the perfect pair of sneakers. You know, sneakers that at the same time magnificently comfortable and also incredibly stylish and durable. Sneakers that would be great to run a marathon in or take to the tumbling gym.

This whole thought process makes me think of a TED talk I heard called: The Paradox of Choice. The general concept is that as we have more choices we get consumed by finding the best choice. This exercise is somewhat futile because even if we find something good we are consumed with the thought that there is something better out there.

This idea that there is always something better has haunted my life in all aspects. There must be a better way to train. There must be a better food, one that is both healthy and tastes like candy. There must be a better pair of pants that is both cool (in temperature) and cool (in style). There must be a shirt that fits me perfectly. There must be a better way to make this View Controller (for all you iOS programmers out there).

I’ve been consumed with the hunt for the better. While some level of striving for better is a good thing, the obsession I have with it doesn’t feel healthy. I’m never going to stop pushing myself, it is just part of my ethos, but I am going to try and accept more. Be tolerant of more. Take the steps I need to get there.

As another aside, I’d like to mention that I recently re-watched the last two episodes of Life. It is a great show, and has a lot of Zen concepts. I used to be sad that this show ended in only two seasons, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that it was the way it was supposed to be and I have to be content taking the lessons I can from the two seasons that were produced.

Reverse Quitting

I was listening to a radio ad the other week about quitting smoking. It was very compelling. The ad said that all people who quit smoking are people who have tried to quit before, failed, and kept trying until they didn’t fail. They learned each time what didn’t work, until they found what did.

I’m not quitting.

I’m starting.

I love beginnings.

I love the beginnings of each day, I’m a morning person.

I love the intro skill, the back handspring, the toss hands, the hello world program, the basic rule of thirds photograph, the empty notebook before it has been marked.

There is a lot of promise in a beginning. Somewhere along the way I feel like I mess it up. I make a errant mark in the notebook, miss the exposure or composition of the photograph, lose the technique on a harder stunt, each too much junk food by the end of the night.

I keep trying to get started and don’t make very much progress. I give up and live in despair for a couple of days, and then try again.

The problem is, that I’m not sure I’m good at keeping track of my mistakes and avoiding them the next day, the next start.

I’m going back to my “Make Something” manifesto. I’m going to stop ending each night by just watching NCIS episodes. I”m going earn each episode. I’m going to earn each nights sleep. I’m going to earn it by eating better, working on building my projects (van, travel, climbing), and taking care of my body.

I will keep trying to figure it out, and if/when I fail, I’ll figure it out and start again.

Today doesn’t feel like a failure, and I’m excited about carrying this beginning into tomorrow!

TLog-007 Nitro Morning

This post was pulled from my TLog project, but it felt relevant enough to make it to this blog as well. Some interesting stuff about reading and writing code.

I’m trying the Nitro Cold Brew coffee from Stumptown that they just started carrying at Planet Granite. It is tasty, but I like the regular cold brew better and will be sticking to that in the future. Still, I do love coffee.

Grateful List

I was listening to a podcast the other day, I believe it was Finding Mastery with Ariana Kukors: Swim. And they were talking about gratitude practice. The part that really stuck with me was that practicing happiness is really hard. Being happy is a by-product of the world around and the best way to approach getting that feeling may be through practicing gratitude. I’m going to try and say three things I’m grateful for each day.

  1. I’m so grateful that we as humans discovered coffee. It has a profound effect on my life and while I only drink about 2 cups a day, I love it.
  2. I’m grateful that I can afford to take as many pictures as I do now. I love photography and there was point when I was in college when I felt like it was too expensive. Thankfully I can now afford great gear and enjoy using it.
  3. I’m very grateful for my climbing community. Yes, I don’t see as many of them as much as I used to, but I love having a second home at the climbing gym. It is more adult that my cheer community (not that I don’t appreciate that as well), and much closer to my house.

Reading Code

I spend a lot of my time reading objective-c code for work. Reading the basic syntax is pretty easy, but understanding what is going on in someone else’s code has always been relatively difficult for me. I’m not sure how everyone else does it, but the way I tend to read code is to go through a live example of the code and see how variables are manipulated. I like to track a path from a point I understand to a point I need to discover. The larger the piece of the code the harder it is for me discover the flow and the process.

The best analogy I have to this process outside of code is my attempt to read the Odyssey. I moved around a lot as kid and didn’t get to read greek theology in school. I have tried to pick up post school, but understanding the Odyssey or the Illiad has been very hard for me. I can read the words and understand the basics of what’s happening, but I’m not sure I can see the forest through the trees. When you are in class, you have a teacher and class to discuss the book with. The concepts in the book are discussed and you collectively discover what is going on.

When reading code, the teacher/class is akin to being able to talk to developer who originally wrote the code. Sometimes they are sitting right next to you. Sometimes they are downstairs or close by. Sometimes they are phone call or email away. Sometimes there are cliff notes in the form of a really good tutorial or ReadMe. Most of the time, though, you just have figure it out on your own. If the code is written using some common conventions (like a restful api, or common design pattern), it can be easier. Sometimes the code is all over the place and impossible to discover.

Yesterday I was working on understanding MGSwipeTableCell. It’s a pretty well built piece of code, but still rather confusing to figure out for me. I figured out what I needed to, but only after a couple hours of debugging. I wish I had done a better job reading the original piece of code from the beginning.

T_Logging It

T_Logging It

Casey Neistat Is a videographer in NYC. I started watching his youtube channel this week. Apparently he has decided that it would be good to V_Log every day. I can’t imagine the amount of work he puts into each of his daily videos. They are so well produced, and often quite interesting. Sure there is a goal of promoting his product Beme, but mostly he just shares his life.

I want to do that. I brush my teeth every day, that takes two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night. It’s a routine I never miss. I’m neurotic about it. I might shorten the time, but it always happens. Logging is going to be a part of that. I’m going to put it two places, my day one publish, and my tumblr. That’s it. Maybe I’ll get to P_Logging (with pictures) or possibly even V_Loggging it like Casey, but honestly, that is too much commitment for the commit-a-phobe I am.

Today is Halloween. I dressed as Indiana Jones last night, it’s hot outside today, not sure if I feel like doing the dress up thing again, if so, I may switch to shorts and a shirt sleeve shirt. Why is it 80 degrees on the last day of October?

Aside for this site

I’ll post the best things here, the stuff that I feel is useful. Tumblr is a place I feel more comfortable posting life things that aren’t really useful to anyone but my friends. I try to keep that irrelevant stuff off this site.


My company is awesome. Check it out: SalesforceIQ.com. Beyond the product we build our company is based on four company values:

  • People
  • Moments
  • Ideas
  • Results

Each of these values is important to the company and also personally to me. I wonder if this is why I’m so happy working with my team.

In relation to my own professional development I had a conversation with one of the company’s founders recently and he told me a story about why moments was such an important value to him. He story really connected with me and I wanted to share it with you. 

He had been working for someone else for one of only a few times in his life. He is a constant entrepreneur. If you’ve ever met Adam you feel the intensity he gives off. Apparently he was applying it to his job and his boss was concerned he might have been driving too hard without perspective for the accomplishments. She gave him this analogy. 

Imagine you are a tenacious mountain climber. You are climbing a fictitious peak that never ends. No matter how hard and how far you climb it just keeps going up. You are fine and keep climbing with it and don’t have to stop, but if you don’t stop every once in a while to turn around and look at the view, what is the point?

See, our lives are like the mountain. We don’t know when or how they are going to end. Many of us are driven by internal forces. Adam’s point in telling me this story was that I needed to stop and look around, appreciate all that we have achieved.