Buried Treasure Found on the Treasure Coast – Daddy Adventures

My wife Kathryn is a stay at home mom. She works her butt off every single day. I always knew she worked hard, but to be honest, I didn’t realize the amount of patience required to do what she does day in and day out. Kathryn sometimes leaves me with our daughter Penelope when she needs to run errands or go to the gym.  When she does, try as I might, I cannot get a thing done on my to do list. Yesterday, an obvious thought occurred to me “If I am unable to get tasks on my list done, how on earth does Kathryn get tasks on her list done?” It turns out, she doesn’t. Kathryn has a list of personal priorities that she just doesn’t get to, ever. I work a lot, and don’t get as much time with Penelope as I would like.

THE SOLUTION: A DADDY ADVENTURE

Kathryn needed some time. When I came home from the gym yesterday morning Kathryn was hard at work making one of her famous nutritious lunch bowls for us to eat. I tapped her on the shoulder and told her that I talked to a “pirate” at the gym who told me where to find a secret treasure. She looked at me like a lunatic, and I told her that Penelope and I would be hunting for it all afternoon. Kathryn would get some freedom. I have never seen her so excited. She threw her arms around me and said “thank you, are you serious?” Clearly I should have done something like this much sooner.

Kathryn helped me gather some old costume jewelry she had and a watch box that would become the “treasure chest.” Kathryn also gave me a crown depicting Penelope’s favorite Disney Princess – Elsa to add to the pirate loot. After assembling the package I broke the exciting news to Penelope. She has a thing for pirates lately and thought my gym encounter was the coolest thing she had heard. She made a dead sprint to her bedroom to get her swimming

Penelope Chavez digging for buried treasure.

suit and bucket to hold the treasure.

When Penelope and I got to the beach it was deserted (it was a Monday afternoon). I buried the treasure when Penelope was away looking in a different spot. After the treasure was buried, we went to work searching for it. Penelope dug and dug in the sand until she finally found it!

Oh, the glorious spoils of her search!

Having a closer look at the treasure

Needless to say, it was an amazing day for Penelope and an equally amazing day for Kathryn. When I was putting Penelope in the car to head back home after the adventure I thought to myself that today had been one of the best days of my life. That sounds like a big statement, and it is. I have had thousands of days in my life that I would have considered were “better” than yesterday, but this was different. Our day was was so simple, and so pure, and so wonderful. Seeing the joy in my wife and daughter’s eyes gave me a feeling of peace and happiness. We have been under a lot of stress this year and I want nothing more than to recreate the positive feelings of yesterday again for my family. I have committed to creating little adventures with Penelope on a weekly basis to give Kathryn time to focus on her greater purpose, and to fully invest myself in my beautiful daughter who brings so much joy to my life.

Wearing her buried treasure.

Boulder Colorado Grand Jury Indictment – Ham Sandwiches Beware!

Originally posted on March 10, 2017

I, like most people had no idea what it meant to be indicted by a Grand Jury.  I just knew it sounded terrible and that only really bad people that have done terrible, awful reprehensible things were indicted.  Moreover, I thought the words “indicted” and “guilty” were synonymous with one another.  I thought that if a person was indicted by a Grand Jury then they were indeed guilty and found guilty not by a regular jury, but a grand one!  They must have done some really bad stuff, right?

That was of course before it happened to me.

On December 6, 2016 I was informed by my attorney that I had a warrant for my arrest.  I said to them “are you kidding me?”  I was standing in an office space we were building out with an architect and had to excuse myself.  It was the most shocking moment of my life.  I just kept asking my attorney “for what” and he kept answering “I don’t know, they won’t tell us.”  This didn’t make any sense to me.  How can I have a warrant for my arrest and not know why?  He informed me that I would need to travel from the East Coast to Boulder Colorado to turn myself in.  I couldn’t understand how I could be expected to turn myself in without being given a reason why.  This is America, isn’t it?  Shouldn’t I know what I am begin accused of and by whom?

My attorneys planned for me to go to Boulder to turn myself in on December 14th  and I did exactly that.  The next day after posting a $100,000 bond and before I could blink it was in the paper – the prosecution’s version of a story that was filled with inaccuracies, misstatements and horrifying false accusations.  I was reading the paper and finding out the prosecution’s version of their story at the same time as everyone else in Boulder and the surrounding community.  That’s when my wife’s and my phone started to ring.  We will never forget the wonderful support of our friends, neighbors, community members and family during that terrible time.   We love you!

So how does this sort of thing happen?  How could all of this occur without the subject of the indictment (me) know what was happening?

The Grand Jury Process:

There is an age-old adage that a prosecutor could get a Grand Jury to “indict a ham sandwich” if that was the prosecutor’s goal.  In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study on plea bargaining, “Grand juries are notorious for being ‘rubberstamps’ for the prosecutor for virtually all routine criminal matters.”

Grand juries do not need a unanimous decision to indict.  It simply needs either two thirds or three fourths agreement for an indictment.  The jurors are also not deciding on “gult or innocence” they are deciding on whether the one-sided case presented to them by the prosecutor established the low barrier of “probable cause” that a crime was committed.

Grand juries originated in 12th century England to prosecute criminals; in the early 20th century, England abolished them.  All of the other members of the former British Empire – Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, and Canada have done the same – but not the United States.  Even here in the U.S. most states have stopped using them because those who truly seek justice have found that the secrecy, lack of oversight, and disregard for the rules of evidence do not serve justice.  Boulder Colorado not only still uses grand juries, but the District Attorney advocates for them.

I am filled with gratitude to have the support of my friends, family and community members during this lengthy process.  This has been a terrible experience but each time I see my family and glance in the mirror I’m filled with the calm assurance that a regular jury at trial that has the benefit of all the information, not just one-sided crafted testimony will set the record straight and my name will be vindicated.  I hope that my fellow good community members that made up the grand jury that indicted me on incomplete, inaccurate and crafted testimony fed to them by the prosecutor will watch the trial closely so they can see how different the version they were presented with is from the truth.  When that happens, I encourage them to not remain silent about their experience.  Thank you for reading.

The High Cost and Low Value of Anonymous Reviews

March 6, 2013

In the last decade the advancements in self-publishing blogs, forums and discussion platforms have given a voice to any industrialized citizen wishing to communicate their opinions on products and services they use.  In general, this open dialogue has been a positive one for the companies who receive feedback on the good, bad and ugly of their respective product offerings.  Despite the value created by this communication there are some bottom feeders that are using this new technology as an opportunity to advance agendas at the expense of their personal integrity (which clearly matters very little to many of these culprits).

I decided to write a few of my thoughts on this matter today because one such anonymous troll commented on a recent positive review that I posted on Amazon.  The review was for a book that my wife and I enjoyed by someone in our hometown of Boulder that we respect a great deal.  We loved the book and its practical advice on the subject of relationships and entrepreneurship and decided to share several copies of the book with our friends.  The book has overwhelmingly received praise by serious entrepreneurs to the tune of over 96% being glowing reviews on that site.

I received a notification that I had a response to my review, and while a hand full of people previously posted stating that they found my review helpful, the anonymous troll immediately resorted to personal attacks in an attempt to belittle my family, my hometown, my intellect and my proud ancestry.

I have pretty thick skin, but I had some free time due to the snow yesterday and decided to spend 5 minutes to find out who this anonymous idiot was and try to extrapolate a motive for his inaccurate review and the personal attacks.  I come to learn that the hateful ramblings were written by the hand of a transplant to Colorado who is in his late 60s.  He has spent the last couple of years building and trying to launch an unimpressive and unmarketable app for the iPad.  I’m not sure what the direct connection was to the author of the book I reviewed, but I can only conclude that the author chose to pass on an investment in this man’s company.

Internet attacks are common in business these days.  Back in early 2008 when a recent startup of mine was celebrating a goal milestone with sales cresting $2m in the previous 30 days, we became the target of a vicious and desperate attack from a competitor through anonymous postings online.  A short and expensive court battle provided us reprieve through a court order barring the principals of that company from posting anything about our service, anonymously or otherwise.  We were naïve to think that would be the end of it, or that we could limit anonymous actions on the Internet, but that experience left a bad taste in my mouth for cowards that hide behind usernames to do bad things.

Far from being an isolated incident, it seems that anonymous negative and bias reviews are a huge business on today’s web with parasitic companies such as ripoffreport.com and complaintsboard.com charging tens (or even hundreds of thousands of dollars) in some cases to remove negative posts made by anonymous users on their Google-friendly SEO enabled pages.  Companies like Facebook take the opposite approach by pouring huge resources into deleting fake or anonymous trolling accounts.  Facebook does this because their user base is valuable to them chiefly because each user is being and acting on their own behalf, as themselves.

The people who write anonymous posts must die a little inside every time they act out of sync with their integrity.  If you are going to say something, be strong enough in your conviction that you are willing to stand behind what you say with your own name on the line.  If a poster is passionate about what they are writing but they are not willing to put their name on it, what does that say about that person’s depth or self worth?

I implore those reading this to go out and make a statement…shout it loud to all that will listen, but shout it from your own lips.

StubHub Saved me Over $1k

July 17, 2013

Last week due to my own disorganization I purchased 8 nonrefundable tickets to the wrong concert in the wrong state on the wrong date from TicketMaster.  Normally, this would have been a costly mistake as I am not the type of person to spend time posting ads on craigslist and ebay to facilitate a financial transaction with strangers, but I had the good fortune to stumble upon StubHub.com.

It was when I was searching for the correct tickets to purchase I came across this site.  Call me naïve but I never realized the huge aftermarket for event tickets.  My former impression was that the robust gentlemen standing on the sides of the street with signs reading “I Need Tickets” adequately served the market (see included image).  Clearly this isn’t so as StubHub has aftermarket event tickets for every possible event at a range of prices.

Long story short – I spent less than 4 minutes posting my tickets for sale on Friday of last week and as of yesterday they had all been sold at my list price.  Granted, I did price them lower range of their posted “average range of sales” for the event, but losing $300 is better than losing $1400 on my silly mistake.  I certainly could have posted them at a higher price but this was an experiment.  The site even provides a printable UPS label for convenience to send the physical tickets so this took me almost zero time.

The $300 was well worth the introduction to this well run company.  Despite the fact that I don’t foresee a need to sell many tickets on this site in the future, I will always shop here when pricing tickets for a future event.

Support the Ten Island Renewable Challenge

We just returned home from Jamaica early yesterday morning.  While this wasn’t our first trip to the beautiful island country it was especially hard this trip to ignore the drastic delta between the haves and the have-nots outside of the gates of our resort.  On previous trips we have gone into the local market where local Jamaicans hustle to eke out a living selling fruit, hand made jewelry and the like.   While this is a bit of a novelty for us Americans to witness, it was evident that it is a daily struggle for many of these Jamaicans to earn enough to provide necessities beyond food and basic shelter for themselves and their family.

Before leaving our resort while I was standing in the lobby waiting for our bags to be loaded in the transport I saw a picture on the wall of Sir Richard Branson.  I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for his entrepreneurial vision and his willingness to champion causes he cares about.  Thanks to WiFi on our flight I was able to read about a charitable campaign he is helping to promote called the Ten Island Renewable Challenge whereby he is helping to bring attention to the local economic benefits created by bringing sustainable energy sources such as wind and solar to island communities.

When I watched the video and saw that some island inhabitants spend up to 1/3 of their earnings on energy it absolutely moved me and I chose to show my support by donating to this cause.  I encourage you to at least watch the video so you understand the problem and if you feel so compelled to throw a couple bucks to support this effort. 

Pressery Juice Cleanse Results

June 14, 2013

A couple of weeks ago a friend of ours introduced us to a new local product he has helped to create and bring to market called Pressery.  The Boulder company produces juices that are raw, cold-pressed and fresh from locally sourced fruits and veggies – and of course they are all organic.  Due to the hand crafted process these juices are not cheap (~$9 each), but they are a value considering the results from my two day cleanse.

I don’t have the patience to post the exact juices taken each day but I will tell you that I drank 5 juices each day according to the cleanse schedule that came with the package.  The schedule is manageable and I was really surprised that at no time during the 2 day cleanse was I even a little bit hungry (truly, not even a little), despite having only these 5 juices and water for a full 48 hours.

THE RESULTS:

After my two day cleanse I stepped on my Aria scale and was floored that I had lost 6.4 pounds in 48 hours!  This was nearly 2 weeks ago that I finished the cleanse and the weight has stayed off with less than 30 minutes of daily exercise.

CONCLUSION:

For those of you interested in losing a few pounds quickly I would highly recommend this 2 day cleanse.  In fact, I am going to be doing another 2 day cleanse next week before we head to Jamaica to try to lose a couple more leisure pounds for good measure.

Also, don’t let the cost dissuade you.  Just compare the nonorganic weight loss supplements that millions of people cram down their throats every day with less results at a higher cost.  The value is in the results and this is the best juice I have ever had – period.

Fear or Action – Response to Boston Marathon 2013

April 16, 2013

I woke up at 3:30 AM this morning with an irrational anxiety tied to the Boston Marathon bombings yesterday.  I couldn’t fall back asleep thinking about why someone would take innocent lives and forever change the future of countless others (amputees, family members etc).

While I was struggling with how to understand what had occurred yesterday I came across across a blog post from Brad Feld in my Twitter feed.  Brad an avid marathon runner who lived in Boston for a period of time and has strong connections there.  Though overcome with emotion, he committed to running the Boston Marathon in 2014.

When I read that, my anxiety evaporated and a sense of duty and purpose took its place.  This was the correct response to this terrible attack.   I realized at that moment that my initial anxiety was the result desired by the cowards responsible for the horror yesterday.  The cowards want to paralyze Americans with fear.  I made the decision at that moment to get up and demonstrate my commitment to not live in fear.  This is the one decision within my control that can undermine the terrorist motive.

Here is my commitment:  I am running my first Marathon in 2014.

We as Americans and as human beings have a choice to direct our actions or allow fear to determine the course of our lives.  I have never ran a marathon, or even a half marathon but I am making this public commitment to do so next year to symbolize my commitment to myself, my wife and our future family that I will never allow the course of our lives to be directed by fear.

We can’t predict when or where random acts of violence will occur (a movie theater in Aurora, a school in Littleton or a friendly race in Bean Town) but we can choose to frame the impact they have on us and fight to ensure we do not forfeit our freedom and our happiness to the perpetrators.

I ask you to choose action over fear, and let’s do this together.  If you are interested in running a marathon in 2014 or even a 5k in the next year – let’s do it.  Let’s get our calendars out and make it happen (we may even burn a few calories and make some new friends in the process).  Comment, Email kristopher@kristopher.com or Tweet if you are interested.

Deprogramming my Pavlovian Notification Conditioning

April 14, 2013

Executing a successful startup strategy requires an incredible amount of mental focus and concentrated problem solving.  With today’s technological distractions it can seem impossible to spend more than five minutes intently focusing on anything without phone, Skype, text, email, Facebook or twitter notification.  It’s amazing that anything of value actually gets done with so much incoming stimuli.

I recognize now that over time I have conditioned myself to be in pure reactive mode much of the day.  Not unlike Pavlov’s dog, when I get a notification regardless of what I am doing, I have been immediately refocusing at least a portion of my capacity on either tending to the stimuli or at least recognizing it as an extra line item on my todo list.  I have come to realize that this is not healthy, nor is this reactive relationship with my notifications in line with the personal and professional goals I have for this year and beyond.

The past week I took the small step of turning off my desktop email notifications.  With an average of 50-65 substantive emails each day, this has been a real challenge.  I still think that I check my email too frequently but I am committing to batch the emails into 4 email response sessions daily beginning Monday (eventually I would like to get this down to 2).  I haven’t tackled my other notifications yet as I want to get a handle on the largest culprit first.

We all know the efficiency benefits of “batching” our daily tasks, but the concept is much harder to create a habit around when we are conditioned to be reactive.  Our devices can be an amazing tool for efficiency, but if these devices begin dictating our actions in a reactive way it turns from help to hinderance.  This is the first step I am taking to free myself from this unhealthy reactive relationship and if you know me, you know it is going to be a challenge.  I’m ready for it.  Wish me luck!

kris.ly – A Short URL Experiment

April 4, 2013

Most people that use Twitter are familiar with URL Shorteners such as t.co, bit.ly, ow.ly etc.  It has always bothered me that even though these URL shorteners save space when posting URLs in a tweet, they still take up valuable real estate in the 140 character maximum.  I bought kris.ly earlier this month because I was interested in owning the metrics behind the links that I post instead of using a traditional URL shortener owned by someone else.  I had a few minutes last night and we set it up.

Companies like Pepsi (pep.si) and Nike (swoo.sh) are just a couple of examples of brands taking advantage of custom short URLs for branding.   During the few short minutes setting kris.ly up last night I started wondering why we don’t see more individuals, and especially companies (large and small) taking advantage of this simple branding opportunity.  It seems there is a healthy mostly untapped market out there for the right guy or gal looking for a nice lifestyle business.  My plate is clearly full so go for it!

Why not create your own URL Shortener Business?

The Model:

This business would be almost free to start and would generally entail setting up a quick website and tweeting to people and companies that could use the service.  You wouldn’t even need to buy adwords to make this work.  The model would be simple:  Charge companies $3-5k each to set them up with their own custom tracking system and vanity short URL.  Charge every individual like myself $1,500 to set them up with a short URL and tools.  You can then charge an annual fee to host the service for them.  At 10-15 sales a week you are making nice money and residual income with an extremely minimal time investment of less than 10 hours a week setting up the URLs and closing the deals.

Cost:

It’s relatively inexpensive (Domain name ~ $100.00, Hosting ~ $0 – $8 a month, URL Shortening code is FREE open source), and the system can be set up in about 10 – 15 minutes if you know what you are doing.  You can host multiple short URL sites on the same hosting plan but as you grow you may have to rent a dedicated server ~ $300/month.

Margin:  

Without office space and employees you can see that it is reasonable to expect a healthy 95% margin on company accounts and 90% on individual accounts.

I did go on a bit of a tangent here but I mainly wanted to say that I like my short URL kris.ly and I know others would likely pay to have one of their own.

The Latte Effect – An Open Offer to the Community

April 2, 2013

An entrepreneur/software consultant by the name of Brent contacted me yesterday and mentioned that he was moving to Boulder in a couple weeks from Austin and was “looking forward to getting involved” in the community here.  I have never met or spoke with Brent, but the fact that he reached out meant a lot and I offered to buy him a welcome latte when he comes into town.  I am fairly new to Boulder myself and as open as our community is, it can be intimidating at first to get to know others even if one is fortunate to know where to start.

Most of us are familiar with the theory of Butterfly Effect, where a small seemingly meaningless change or influence at one location creates a force with larger, more drastic implications elsewhere.  Strangely, I woke up this morning thinking of this in the context of the welcome latte and decided I would try an experiment.  Why not, right?

So, here it goes; the first “community” event I attended here in Boulder was the Boulder Open Coffee Club held at Atlas Purveyors twice a month, every other Tuesday (check Facebook page here for updates).  My first attendance was at the beginning of March this year and it gave me a great insight into the inclusiveness of the community.

The Experiment:

If you are new to Boulder, thinking of moving to Boulder, or you’ve been meaning to get involved but just haven’t taken the first step – I want to buy you a latte (or another caffeinated bevy of your choosing) on your first #BOCC Tuesday you attend.  I am going to do this 100 times for the first 100 people who take me up on this offer.  You’ll have someone to hang out with there if you want or you can take the latte’ and run the other direction.  The only string that is attached to this offer is that you must commit to buying a latte’ for 2 people you don’t currently know today in the 30 days following #BOCC and these do not need to be at #BOCC or at Atlas Purveyors.

How to Redeem:

Email me at kristopher@kristopher.com or tweet @kristopher_com.  Introduce yourself and we will meet at Atlas Purveyors on the day of the event.

Why??:

Why not?  The community in Boulder is awesome.  The energy is great here but frankly, I would just like to see more Brents coming to Boulder.  (Speaking of which, give Brent a welcome shout out on twitter if you have a minute @spinuplabs, I’m sure he would like to hear from you.)