5 Points

What I’m reading —

Patrick McKenzie aka patio11 on the internetz, has been referred to as one of the most helpful folks on the internet by some in the startup community as a result of his prolific contributions in writing on Hacker News and his site.

This thought provoking list of a few of his tweets is worth a browse:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/936615043126370306

The main takeaway for me is the impetus of this initial 5 Point Friday:

Meta thought: you radically underestimate both a) how much you know that other people do not and b) the instrumental benefits to you of publishing it.

What I’m listening to —

For over a decade I have been a fan of somafm.com.  I really love their Groove Saladchannel, for writing, programming, and background music.  They are also the purveyors of Black Rock FM (Burning Man) and a few other, not as popular, strange and interesting collections.  Get busy with Xmas in Frisko, a wacky and eclectic holiday mix for those not easily offended and Seven Inch Soul, vintage tracks from original 45 RPM vinyl.

What I’m watching —

Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers” of television fame) testifies before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications in 1969. If you want to see an incredibly deft display of verbal judo, watch this short clip. It’s absolutely fantastic. Mr. Rogers turns a cantankerous opponent into an ally in minutes, and it’s important to watch all the way to the end.  Hat tip to Tim Ferriss for this suggestion.  I’ve watched this before and it is truly incredible the poise and care Mr. Rogers uses in sharing his position.

Lyrical, harmonious and hilarious – Whose billy goat is this?

In case you missed it —

The most liked post I’ve recently share on Instagram is of a public bathroom at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan. It may employ more robots and technology than a shuttle launch: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcJb10hHzge/

Quote I’m pondering —

“You can hold your breath until you turn blue, but they’ll keep on doing it.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Annual Report – 2016

Aaron ‘AD’ Davis here and I’ve rounded the sun for the 39th time.  This is my 2016 annual report (read 2012, 2013, 2014 didn’t get a personal account…only via my company, and 2015). It is more of a life and times of Aaron than anything else and you’re receiving it because our paths have crossed at some point. You can easily opt out by clicking here.

Please do get in touch if it has been too long since we shared a laugh.

The last year has been a doozy to say the least!

Highlights featured here include:

  • Exploration – My primary work effort continues to mature and grow.

  • BusinessFrame – I’ve scaled back software/marketing consulting.

  • LA Hacker New – I continue to organize the LA Hacker News Meetup.

  • Travel – Puerto Rico, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Russia, Philippines, Thailand, London, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Black Rock City

  • Rugby – The ball still bounces.

  • William – A kind and gentle beast.

  • r/LifeProTips – Interesting and oft surprising ways to move through life with a bit more ease.


Exploration

Exploration is a media management and technology company.  It exists to help media companies control their data and collect their money.

I founded the company in 2014 with my friend, Rene Merideth.  If you listen to music on YouTube, there is about a 20% chance Exploration works with the owners of that intellectual property. And we continue to grow very rapidly into film and tv and other distribution networks.

For inquiries about Exploration, please visit us online or reach out via email to [email protected]

 

BusinessFrame

BusinessFrame is a software development and digital marketing company founded in 2009. I have declined additional consulting projects under this masthead for nearly 2 years. I really don’t see this changing anytime soon.

LA Hacker News

Y Combinator is the most prolific startup incubator in the world.  They are the funding source/advisor to a few companies you may have heard of – Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit…and about 1,200 more that are less known.

Hacker News is their online community and news aggregator portal.  It is one of the most respected destinations online to learn and discuss the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship.

I am the organizer of the Los Angeles Hacker News meetup.  We meet every so often to hack, learn, and debate on a particular topic.  Most commonly about building a tech company or having created technology / art. Or most recently, just to hang out with like minded people for a beer and a laugh.

We are now screening a hacker/computer film once a month at the WeWork offices in Culver City (Exploration works out of this office as well).  Tron is que’d up for next Thursday night (5/4/2017).

Free admission, beer, and pizza.  Meet someone new.  Folks will be watching the film, but it will not be theatre quiet.  Hack on the WeWork open wifi.  Come and go as you like.

https://www.meetup.com/LAHackers/events/239490386/

Huge gratitude goes to the good folks at Disney for allowing us to screen the film.  To WeWork for hosting the party.  And to Exploration for spotting for the food.

Travel

My Facebook and Instagram profiles remain the best records of my travels this past year. However, I have made significant effort to limit my presence on social media in general.

The lead up to the election and subsequent related events were/are to much for me to stomach on a daily basis…so I tuned out completely. I’ve just now recently logged back on for the first time in over 4 months and have a few ideas on how to better curb the trap (ie I created an instagram account to share photos there and on Facebook, but I follow zero people..so I don’t get snared into consuming drivel just because it is there.)

Rugby

You may know that I love rugby.  I fell in love with the game the very day I learned of it and not a lot has changed since.  As the years have swept by, my relationship with the sport has changed.  I really do consider my career to have been amazing! This included winning championships and traveling the world as a player, making friends with guys that are truly some of the most wonderful humans that exist,  and learning about life through an oval ball.

I was honored to have been chosen to join one of my best mates, Dallen Stanford, in coaching the United States team to compete in the Maccabi Pan American games last December in Santiago, Chile.

The good guys ended up bring home a gold medal in 7’s and a silver in 15’s.  Hat tips to an incredible effort on behalf of the host and visiting teams from around the world.  The boys in red, white, and blue made friends from around the world that I am certain will sustain way into the future.  I can not say enough good things about the boys that took the field…simply a massive effort.


I share my deepest gratitude again with all of you that supported our journey. With money, gifts in kind, and good vibes…it all made a huge difference!! I speak on behalf of the entire team: Thank you.

 

William

It’s been four years since this beautiful and gentle beast nuzzled his way into my life.  I rely on his consistent kindness on a daily basis.  He’s awesome.

Life Pro Tips

I get a kick out of these ideas posted on Reddit r/lifeprotips. Click through to reddit for more color and commentary on the ideas.

Conclusion

Three times dang!!! Life is good.

My health is good.  My circle of family and friends is interesting and diverse and supportive.  My work is meaningful and making an impact.  Several really good ideas are percolating.  Adventures abound.  I’m still learning.  I’m listening more.

In the spirit of being transparent, it’s important to note that the contents of this report are the highlights.  I do my best to leave the lowlights out, as focus on them tends to exacerbate depression and fuel prolonged rumination.  My life is anything but sunshine and rainbows but I’m proud of my rather recent ability to better acknowledge and compartmentalize those facets that are unfortunate and cause the blues.  I’m also choosing to leave out some of the more intimate details of my life including particulars about my family.  If you’re really interested in those bits, I’d prefer to share in person.

I really appreciate you for your interest in the musings of my life!  You’re welcome to reach out if you’re curious about any of it.  Simply reply to this email or drop me a line – 310-663-2865.

Stay close,

Aaron

ps – whose billy goat is this?  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PQrdBsrZVE

Pulling the string on the neon sign

On Main Street one would see an open sign.  The sign would be on and you would see it and know Jill business operator had come to work.

The window display was changed and you’d know they were thinking about what was new and special.  You knew that when you walked in that you would see a familiar face that could answer your questions and discuss your concerns.

Walking and moving about you would see people and they would know what you were up to.  How you were doing.  What was going down.

When people and businesses moved online, it was hard to let the passers by know you had the open sign on.  That one was getting on in the world.

Until one grew an email list and spoke to them.

At first. And even now, to some degree. It didn’t matter what one said to let the passers by know how you were keeping. So long as one let folks know something.

But one can do more than that.   One can help others.  Deliver value.  Enormous value…just by sharing their own life experience.

Pulling the string on the neon sign, via emailing those in my life, has been a great asset to my life.  I hope it has been for other, too.

Annual Report – 2015

Aaron ‘AD’ Davis here and I just rounded the sun for the 38th time.  This is my 2015 annual report (2012, 2013, 2014 didn’t get a personal account…only via my company). It is more of a life and times of Aaron than anything else and you’re receiving it because our paths have crossed at some point.

Please do get in touch if it has been too long since we shared a laugh.  

The past couple of years have been exciting to say the least!  Highlights featured here include:

  • Exploration – I’ve founded a new media company with a friend
  • BusinessFrame – I continue to operate this software consulting company
  • LA Hacker New – I continue to organize the LA Hacker News Meetup
  • How to Start a Startup – I facilitated a class via Stanford University and Y Combinator
  • Traffic Light – An 8 year project is reaching culmination
  • Travel – Morocco, Chile/Peru, London, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Black Rock City
  • Rugby – The ball still bounces
  • William – I adopted a most furry and gentle beast, known to the world as William the Terrible
  • Resources – Blogs/podcasts/videos I’m loving – tools that will save you money  

Exploration

Exploration is a media management and technology company.  It exists to help media companies get the most from the copyrights they control.

My friend Rene Merideth and I co-founded the company and officially fired up the engine on January 6th, 2014.

The short story is that she (Rene) brought me a round of beers immediately upon my arriving home with a very broken leg.  I was thrilled to see an old friend and we immediately got into all of the goings on of life.  In addition to all of the excitement of life in general, she informed me of her work managing the efforts of music publishers on YouTube. The process utilized by the industry to find these videos involved a room of humans searching YouTube.com. There was no software to aid the process.

I had a bit of time on my hands and with the help of an engineering friend, decided to build it.  

The software initially was pretty janky, but it worked!!  The core functionality was syntax based search at regular intervals. The idea was to use software to identify videos that might contain the music controlled by the publisher, as they were being uploaded. A person could then confirm and apply ownership and then tell YouTube to place ads on the video in order to generate revenue as a result of that video being viewed.  

I reached out to several of the players in the space and no one wanted anything to do with my janky robot.

**scratches head**

Perhaps a bit of context helps…

A song has a few layers of copyright to consider.  Take Jailhouse Rock, for instance.  It was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1957 and made very famous by Elvis of that same year.  Those written lyrics, melody, and notes of the song are what is referred to as a composition, which is owned by a music publisher.  The unique recording that Elvis made in the studio is called a master recording, as they go in and make sure all of the levels are just right and mastered.  Master recordings are owned by record labels.  A ton of other folks would go on to cover this song, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Motley Crue, and Queen, wherein new master recordings were created using the original composition.

In the past, one would find it very difficult to create a cover of material value. The home studio was rare and getting a song on the radio or performed was a task left to only the “Stars.”

You see where this is going…

Then YouTube and the iPhone happened.

Everyone on planet earth can create a cover or interpret a song and distribute it globally to produce real money with the click of a mouse.

YouTube’s Content ID system works similar to Shazam, the popular iPhone app.  It uses a known digital signature to identify, claim, and apply a match policy to any video that contains matched media.  YouTube knows about that particular version of Jailhouse Rock because the original owner previously uploaded Elvis’s version and told YouTube – “Hey!  This is Elvis!  If you find another title with this same sound please claim it to our benefit with all of these particular settings.”  

Here’s where it gets funky.

I don’t sound like Elvis so that cover might not get identified by YouTube’s system.  And rightfully so! I have created a new master recording, so I likely have no obligation to Elvis’s label.  I’m an indie artist.  However, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller still deserve to be paid and attributed.  The same is true for remixes, mashups, remashes, and mixups.  

And all of this media is making it’s way online.

That’s where the simple syntax based search application came in.  I architected the software to continually search YouTube’s database using words – in the titles (ie Jailhouse Rock Cover), descriptions, tags, and comments of videos to locate those titles missed by Content ID’s digital fingerprint search.

We realized we had a tiger by the tail, Rene gave her notice, and we began to plot world domination. I mean, why not?

Rene had literally grown up in the music business and has a wealth of knowledge about the industry, those in it, and specifically the nuances of the music publishing business. I committed to architecting the software and selling the idea.

Bing bang boom! We’re open for business!

It wasn’t very long after announcing publicly that we were a growing concern before we were offered venture capital. We thought that if someone were keen to give us real money before we even had clients, even though our technology was pretty solid, that perhaps we were on to something. We turned the money down and it has proven to have been a good decision.  

My apartment morphed into an office, as couches were replaced with solid core doors set atop filing cabinets.  Several kids from Music Institute came on as interns and we ate ramen noodles more than once.  Looking back, I’m not sure of many friends that didn’t lend a hand in the attempt to help me breath a bit of life into the beast.

2 years later and we are one of the largest managers (by # of copyrights and play volume) of music publishing rights on YouTube and SoundCloud in the world.  A week rarely goes by without adding new clients and we have now added master recordings, film, and TV to the asset classes we control.  We are being considered thought leaders in the space.     

The coolest part is that our best days are yet to come!  

We are very close to debuting completely new software that we believe will be a boon for the entirety of the music business and beyond – all will benefit. The digital media creation and consumption sector is relatively young yet continues to explode globally.  We are enjoying solid growth in revenue and profits in addition to market share and brand equity.

I wrote an Annual Report for the company last year and have another set to be published in the next couple months.  

In any case, I find it incredibly exciting to be working with creators, artists, and writers as well as their managers from the periphery and behind the scenes. I get a rush being able to help them better manage their businesses and get the most from the creative assets they own and control.

The future looks extremely bright for this company.  

For inquiries about Exploration, please visit us online or reach out via email to [email protected]

exploration-logo_small_2x (1)

BusinessFrame

BusinessFrame is a software development and digital marketing company founded in 2009.

Software development dominates about 80% of our business and concentrates on PhP, Python, and JavaScript web based applications/interfaces.  Marketing consulting is typically a very short (2-3 days) project based consulting engagement.  We no longer execute on marketing projects as I believe business operators are much better at telling their story than we might be.   Plus it’s a dang lot of work!  I have a very small subset of clients with whom the majority I have worked with for many years.  I am the sole owner and have a reliable team that works with me on a per project basis.

This business has contracted significantly since the founding of Exploration and will likely continue to do so moving forward.  I keep the lights on as the company remains a solid channel to discuss gigs, ideas, and events that I have a capital interest in, but are not directly related to my core business.

Despite custom work not scaling very well, the fees are still great.  I also expect an intimate knowledge of software development will prove to be valuable moving forward.

***

Story time and a free tool that will save you a lot of time, money, and heartache.

Aaron once used WordPress to quickly build a few mockups and test sites.  

One day he got an email that a few of these test sites had been hacked and the automatic backups had been overwritten with corrupt files.

Then Aaron was angry and wanted to break all the things.

**Proceed to scream expletives at all animate and inanimate objects for the next 30 minutes at top of lungs followed by silence for several hours followed by gorging on all food I get my fat hands on followed by depression for the evening.**

The enormity of the task was not lost on him.  It was going to take FOREVER.  But he had to do it.

Aaron restored all of the sites from piecemeal folders on his computer, Dropbox, Google cache, and the Way Back Machine.

It took a long time.  Aaron was sad because he wanted to go outside and play.

It was extremely expensive, extremely time consuming, and extremely soul sapping.

Then he resolved to never have to do this again.  

Aaron feels no one should have to do this either.

And they don’t have to.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/backupwordpress/

If you have a WordPress site, download and install this plugin right now.  There is a free version and takes about 4.3 minutes to set up.  It takes all of the files (text, pics, etc.) and databases (file organization of your WordPress core and theme) and backs them up in their entirety at regular intervals.  (I backup my sites weekly and monthly where there is a copy that never gets overwritten and versioning on other copies that don’t start to get overwritten for 6 months).  It will send you an email with all the files on a regular basis.  

If you ever get hacked, delete your files accidentally, install a theme that has crummy code, your host isn’t all that good, or any number of reasons that read ‘user error'(and you will) then it may be a good thing to be in control of a copy of your site.    

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to install this plugin and it costs exactly zero dollars.  

If you personally don’t have the tools to backup your business websites and critical files, perhaps zap your IT gal or web designer that link or a quick note:

***

Piggie,

Where do we have all of our files backed up?  Mind sending me a copy of the databases and files in a zip file to my email?

Thanks a lot!

Kermit

***

I am very keen to learn more about data backup and redundancy.  It’s no surprise that businesses and professionals are creating files and data at rates that are simply staggering.  To me, being involved in the data storage industry is fascinating!  Expect more on this topic in the future.

***

For inquiries about BusinessFrame, please visit us online or reach out via email to [email protected]

 

LA Hacker News

LA Hacker News is a salon for interesting people to connect and learn.

Y Combinator is the most prolific startup incubator in the world.  They are the funding source/advisor to a few companies you may have heard of – Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit…and about 800 more that are less known.

Hacker News is their online community and news aggregator portal.  It is one of the most respected destinations online to learn and discuss the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship.

I am the organizer of the Los Angeles Hacker News meetup.  We meet every so often to hear, learn, and debate with an expert on a particular topic.  Most commonly about building a tech company or having created technology / art.

Andrew Cholakian created the group about 6 years ago.  Originally, I was a volunteer and took over the leadership reigns after about 3 years.  

In fairness we haven’t met a whole lot this year.  I was on the clock facilitating a class twice a week for four months in the fall of 2014 and found myself a bit burned out in the wake of the experience.  At the time of publishing this report we have 1,598 members!  These are some of the most brilliant and focused software engineers and entrepreneurs in the greater Los Angeles region.

If you are keen to hire an engineer or are looking for work, these meetups can be a good spot to find a fit.

The events we create and organize are really only contingent upon finding interesting speakers to discuss compelling topics.  If you would like to speak or know of someone who is, please do not hesitate to reach out!  

I buy the beer and soda and attendance is always free.

Join the group for updates.

http://www.meetup.com/LAHackers

 

How to Start a Startup

How to Start a Startup was produced by Y Combinator and taught at Stanford University in the Fall of 2014.  I facilitated the Los Angeles class at General Assembly in Santa Monica and nearly 250 people participated.

The course highlights many aspects to breathing life into an idea.  Each class was filmed and shared online for free.  All of this material is highly recommended for anyone curious about what it takes to build a technology company, focusing mostly on software.

Date Speaker Topic
9/23/14 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator

Dustin Moskovitz, Cofounder, Facebook, Cofounder, Asana, Cofounder, Good Ventures

Welcome, and Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part I

Why to Start a Startup

9/25/14 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part II
9/30/14 Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator Before the Startup
10/2/14 Adora Cheung, Founder, Homejoy Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing
10/7/14 Peter Thiel, Founder, Paypal, Founder, Palantir, and Founder, Founders Fund Competition is For Losers
10/9/14 Alex Schultz, VP Growth, Facebook Growth
10/14/14 Kevin Hale, Founder, Wufoo and Partner, Y Combinator How to Build Products Users Love
10/16/14 Walker Williams, Founder, Teespring

Justin Kan, Founder, Twitch and Partner, Y Combinator

Stanley Tang, Founder, DoorDash

Doing Things That Don’t Scale

PR

How to Get Started

10/21/14 Marc Andreessen, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz and Founder, Netscape

Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel

Parker Conrad, Founder, Zenefits

How to Raise Money
10/23/14 Alfred Lin, Former COO, Zappos and Partner, Sequoia Capital

Brian Chesky, Founder, Airbnb

Culture
10/28/14 Patrick Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe

John Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe

Ben Silbermann, Founder & CEO, Pinterest

Hiring and Culture, Part II
10/30/14 Aaron Levie, Founder, Box Building for the Enterprise
11/4/14 Reid Hoffman, Partner, Greylock Ventures and Founder, LinkedIn How To Be A Great Founder
11/6/14 Keith Rabois, Partner, Khosla Ventures How to Operate
11/11/14 Ben Horowitz, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founder, and Opsware How to Manage
11/13/14 Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch How to Run a User Interview
11/18/14 Hosain Rahman, Founder, Jawbone How to Design Hardware Products
11/20/14 Kirsty Nathoo, Carolynn Levy,Partners, Y Combinator Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups
12/2/14 Tyler Bosmeny, Founder and CEO, Clever

Michael Seibel, Partner, Y Combinator

Qasar Younis, Dalton Caldwell,Partners, Y Combinator

Sales and Marketing

How to Talk to Investors

Investor Meeting Roleplaying

12/4/14 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Later-Stage Advice

 

Traffic Light

I’ve lived in Venice Beach for 10 years and for 8 of those I have been urging the city to install a traffic light in front of my house.

I finally got it 🙂  

Thank you Venice Neighborhood Council for giving me an opportunity to speak and supporting this good idea! #keepvenicemellow

The full monty can be read here – https://www.change.org/p/mike-bonin-install-traffic-light-on-pacific-ave-sunset-ave-venice-ca-90291

vnc_light

Travel

My Facebook and Instagram profiles are the best records of my travels this year.

The capsule summary is here:  

Miami – 100% work – Billboard Awards and Conference – Speaker – Facilitated workshop

New York – 100% work – Multiple visits to Google offices and clients

San Francisco – 80% work – YouTube Offices – Tech partners – Phage

Ensenada, Mexico – Yacht race – Aboard Merlin with a bunch of bilge rats that deserve to be in Davy Jones’ locker

Morocco – 100% vacation – Marrakesh, Fancy party, Atlas mountains hiking, Essaouira, Casablanca

Black Rock City – 100% vacation – Burning Man. Saw all the things.  Had all the fun.  Danced to all the songs.

London – 60% Vacation 40% Work – 2015 Rugby World Cup – WeWork Soho – Piccalilli Circus – Devon – Londongram

Chile/Peru – 100% vacation – Pan American Maccabi Games – Coach – Machu Picchu

 

Rugby

You may know that I love rugby.  I fell in love with the game the very day I learned of it and not a lot has changed since.  As the years have swept by, my relationship with the sport has changed.  I really do consider my career to have been amazing! This included winning championships and traveling the world as a player, making friends with guys that are truly some of the most wonderful humans that exist,  and learning about life through an oval ball.

Then I got hurt.

I wrote about how gutted I was when I broke my leg in my final tournament over two years ago. Reading it now makes me cringe a bit as I b!tched and moaned all grades of displeasure.  I wished I’d had a bit more patience and gratitude for what was right instead of focusing so much on what was wrong.  Alas, hindsight is 20/20. In a fraction of a second, I went from being an avid player to not.

Writing about the experience did have some positives.  I was able to organize what happened and observe why it bothered me so much.  I also got tons of feedback and advice on ways to move forward.  My perspective might be different were the same thing to happen to me again today.

In any case, I shied away from rugby after my injury.  I came to grips about not being a competitive player anymore and that made me sad.  A lot of my best friends were players so I didn’t see them all that much and the discussion at the pitch to watch on Saturday wasn’t exactly unicorns and kittens. Santa Monica Rugby Club has been having a rough time at the office and been in a bit of a slump the last couple years.  It was a gloomy period for Aaron and rugby.

Sunnier skies are upon us now!

I sometimes join the Beachboks for a dash of touch rugby on the beach.  Tuesday, Thursday @ 90 minutes before sunset, Sundays at 11am.  All are welcome.  Expect to be shredded by the lot in attendance if you are a car door or have flippers.

Robert Knox has a knack for convincing me to participate in activities that some might consider bad for one’s health, but I’ll join that whirling dervish just about anywhere.  We met as a result of my frequent closeness to his excellently shaped posterior, as he was my prop and I was his lock.  Our first two seasons together at Santa Monica RFC had us winning back to back National Championships.  

Our shadows now weigh more than we did back then.

In any case, Rob and I set the island on fire at the Catalina Old Boys Tournament and broke records / nearly drowned in an international yacht race aboard Merlin.  We would also meet up for tea and crumpets in a most fancy castle in Devon and big belly roll laugh at Twickenham during the Rugby World Cup finals in London.  So much fun!

I went to the RWC with Dallen Stanford, naming the adventure the #poisontour.  The sheer volume of shenanigans we got up to was unprecedented.  It was perhaps the best trip I’ve taken in a very long time.  “It’s going off like a frog in a sock!!” ~ DS

I will be coaching for the very first time!  I have accepted the head coach position of the United States team to compete in the Maccabi Pan American games this December in Santiago, Chile. The Maccabi games are a multi-sport event for Jewish athletes from around the world held in Israel every 4 years, with ancillary events taking place in the the Americas, Europe, and Australia.  I have competed as an athlete 3 times and this will be my first as a coach.  We leave in less than 3 weeks as of this writing!!!  Mayhem!!

If you’d like to contribute to our effort I would be most thankful – https://www.gofundme.com/rugby-chile

Here is a quick video (2m) with a special thanks!

 

William

It’s been two years since this beautiful and gentle beast nuzzled his way into my life.  I rely on his kindness on a daily basis.  He’s awesome.

IMG_4940

Blogs/Podcasts/Reading

I’ve been enjoying these resources.

Tim Ferris Blog – Lifestyle design and personal performance enhancement – Weekly

Radio Lab – Incredibly well produced radio show on interesting topics – Monthly

Brain Pickings – Beautifully constructed reviews of important books and articles – Monthly

Hacker News – News and think pieces on technology and entrepreneurship – Daily

Okdork – Marketing – As often as he publishes

Andreesen Horowitz Newsletter – Macro level economics and business guidance – Weekly

The Macro – Curated topics from partners and founders of Y Combinator – Its new…

Paul Graham Essays – Some of the most valuable advice on building a software company – Every few months I like to revisit this catalog

Kalzumeus – Transparent perspective on running a small software company – As often as he publishes

Gatesnotes – Thoughts from Bill Gates – As often as he publishes

SOMAFM – The best ambient electronic station around – Groove Salad – Daily

 

Conclusion

I’m thrilled about life and ever grateful for the journey!

My health is good.  My circle of family and friends is interesting and diverse and supportive.  My work is meaningful and making an impact.  Several really good ideas are percolating.  Adventures abound.  I’m still learning.  I’m listening more.  

In the spirit of being transparent, it’s important to note that the contents of this report are the highlights.  I do my best to leave the lowlights out, as focus on them tends to exacerbate depression and fuel prolonged rumination.  My life is anything but sunshine and rainbows but I’m proud of my rather recent ability to better acknowledge and compartmentalize those facets that are unfortunate and cause the blues.  I’m also choosing to leave out some of the more intimate details of my life including particulars about my family.  If you’re really interested in those bits, I’d prefer to share in person.  

I really appreciate you for your interest in the musings of my life!  If you are curious to learn more about any of it you’re welcome to reach out.  You can simply reply to this email, ping me on Facebook, or drop me a line – 310-663-2865.

I hope that all that is beautiful in this world is illuminated for you and yours and that it will not be too long before we’re able to share a laugh in person.

Stay close,

Aaron

PS – Here’s the link to the fundraising drive to take my team to Chile – any support is greatly appreciated  – https://www.gofundme.com/rugby-chile – we’ve nearly reached our goal!!!

PPS – Here’s a link to 3 bulldogs surfing to some Ethiopian jazz  – https://www.facebook.com/TheInertia/videos/1057424477630703/

 

Aaron Loring Davis

aaronloringdavis.com

 

68th Annual Newport to Ensenada International Regatta – Santa Monica Rugby Yacht Club

Santa Monica Rugby Yacht Club

6 skilled and fearless SMRYC members competed in the 68th Annual International Yacht Race, from Newport, CA to Ensenada, Mexico.
Robert Knox (Captain), Aaron Davis (Main Trim), Simon Jones (Bow), James Corr (Mast), Brian O’Rourke (Videographer), Chris James (Tactician and Voice of Reason) sailed Merlin, a 39′ 1972 Columbia in the Cruiser Spinnaker B class out of South Coast Corinthians Yacht Club.
The men of SMRYC competed is classic fashion.
Having competed in the California Yacht Club Wednesday Night Sunset Series over the course of the summer and finishing within the bounds of the law once, the crew were ready to embark upon an international voyage.
Much preparation was done over the weeks leading up to the regatta.  Fuel, gear, supplies, beer, maintenance, beer, scheduling, and more beer was gathered. Oh, and party flags, to hoist when needing a surge of festival for adventure.
It’s noteworthy that Rob Knox exuded the generosity and patience he is famous for.  Without his dedication to participating in this event, it would not have happened.
The ship was delivered from Marina del Rey on April 19th. Friends and dogs joined for the short 6 hour voyage to San Pedro. The air was light and seas kindly. An uneventful trip was brought to an end when high winds and loud shouting at docking contributed to a kerfuffle.  Simon at the helm, a 25 knot cross wind had the high beamed vessel sliding to port as we entered the slip. The lowly deck hands jumped aboard the dock, lines in hand. Not to be outdone, Rob perched high above the mess at the shrouds holding about to the life line hollering and directing traffic. Looking like a burrito doing a jack knife atop the 10 meter platform, he got in a tussle with the party flags, and when Simon ran us squarely into the dock, did a tuna fish right into the drink. It’s a damn miracle the winded boat didn’t squish him against the dock, but the muscles and grit of the private first class hands fended off the big blue behemoth. He was gracefully pulled from the frigid water and Simon single handed the vessel under control. Completely lacking sorts and unsure which way was up, Rob then did a swan dive backward into the next slip that was deserving of a 9.7 and again he was in the water.  Although comfortable in his natural habitat, twirling around and providing a show all wet, he finally relented and allowed us to pull him from the icy grips back onto dry land. He cursed like hell the name of Simon Jones for docking like a blind squirrel and of Aaron Davis for buying and ultimately hoisting the joyous party flags.  The day was done.
On the following day, Sunday April 20th, with a short handed crew, the Merlin made another quick hop to Newport Harbor.  The wind had kept up, having the master and commander to nearly kiss the sea wall upon embarking. It was exciting and hands were shaking! Finally she was side tied to the dock to allow the the wind to push the nose out far enough to spin around and make way. Off she sailed and made portage in Newport without incident.
Provisions would be stowed and the captains meeting needed attending.
On Wednesday, April 22nd, Simon and Rob went to Yachtman’s Lunch at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and the Captains reception in the evening at Balboa Bay Club. Their task was to check in and grab the racing pennant, signifying our class.  Lore has it that they made plenty of small talk and fair well signed in, but accidentally got drunk, forgetting the small flag that would be our license to race.

Thursday night would have the lion share of the crew turn up in Newport, full of excitement and fraternity, at the hint of danger that lay ahead.  It was then that the ever present James Corr realized his massive brain had failed him, contributing to his forgetting his passport.  His fair maiden went into overdrive and sent the enabling document via carrier pigeon to her prince, such that he could ensure safe passage.  The ship was stocked and poised for greatness. A hot meal aboard with all provisions stowed sent the boys off to the regatta pushing off party at the Newport American Legion.  A live band played classic beach hits while a heavy handed bar keep kept folks happy. There were 100’s of sailors, hailing from up and down the California coast, and one Frenchman.  Several not so rare Orange County Cougars were witnessed in their native land, circling a bit, excited by the diversity and amount of hair that existed among the men of the sea.  Stories were shared about that one time when a gale sprang from a calm and when the madman met his Hyde 30 nautical miles offshore. Comparison of provisioning always finished with, ‘Well, it’s to late to make any changes now. Cheers!’.

We were in heaven!
At dawn, on Thursday April 24th, the full compliment of the crew arrived and off we pushed.  Final communication was made and charts were checked for what way ahead. We knew the wind, the waves, the swell, the timing in which should have us where, the shifts of crews, and what meals would be cooked by who when.
Then the wind died.

Bobbing about like apples in barrel, boats were spinning about, jockeying for the start. However King Neptune smiled upon us, sharing good fortune, blowing a slight puff, our timing was right and gone!

What about the racing pennant? Oh, sh!t.
In a flash of genius and remembrance of darker days, Rob reached into the deep crevices of his overgrown brain to recall the party flags!!  Perfectly, among them, was our burgee. James Corr quickly laid his handiwork to the task, dismembers the string and hoisted the correct signal in just the nick of time.
The gun went off and Merlin slid across the start after only another 90 seconds!! We’d won our start! Cheers and celebration ensued, beers were popped and the party started.
And then the wind died again.
It was touch and go; nerves were high. We couldn’t get steerage and the fast multihulls and MAXI’s were starting right behind us. Merlin, being of vintage nearly 43 years prior and positioning as a bit of a fat bottomed gal that likes a bit of breeze to get moving, trouble was afoot.  Hard decisions had to be made.
Normally, safety was third.  Have fun, go fast, and be safe, in that order was our code, but the dollar signs on carbon fiber our proper racing ships adjusted our consciousness.  We decided the best course of action was to motor out of the way of the big boats bearing down upon us.  10 minutes later, the stink pot was extinguished and the sails were trimmed.
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Wind wasn’t all that consistent but we made a solid 5.5 knots for the next several hours.  Passing the lights sprinkling Oceanside with San Diego in the distance, night had already fallen.
Always keen to enjoy a nap, Aaron found his bunk and fell fast asleep after a delicious meal that had been previously prepared by Rob’s better half, Dawn.  The seamen told stories, drink cold frothy beverages, and laughed loud as the miles clicked by.
Then disaster struck!
Aaron later explained that he was dreaming of his girlfriend’s golden locks and warm bosom, when a frantic Simon woke him from his slumber.
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‘We are taking on water!!! Get up now!!!’, he shrieked!
By the time he came to, the boys were dedicated to the task.
About 15 clicks west of San Deigo, Merlin had about 3 inches of water sloshing about the sole. The bilge was already full.  James Corr was busy on the manual bilge pump in the cockpit, Chris James was steady at the helm, Brian O’Rourke was shuffling gear to and fro, Simon Jones was busy with another hand pump, and Rob Knox tried desperately to find the void allowing the pacific to swoosh in.  Aaron Davis, in his stuper of having just woken up, was staring at his shoes.  We would later learn that he found putting his warm and dry sock laden foot into a wet and floating shoe a bit harder of a choice to make than to respond to the command of “All hands on deck!”.  He was cursed thoroughly and appropriately and finally joined the crew in saving themselves and the ship.
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Almost by instinct, Aaron recalled a 5th grade science experiment he did on buoyancy and fluid dynamics, and postulated that perhaps one of the native holes in the vessel was the culprit.  The order to close all seacocks was given by master Rob, but the water seamed not to stop. The electronic bilges were pumping away and diesel infused salt water was everywhere. Panic was afoot and Simon gave the directive to change course toward San Diego in the event all would be lost, the swim would perhaps allow us to save our souls. The manual pumps then began to earn their keep the water line began to move down.  After much work and collective thought, we localized the trouble to the galley sink.  Turns out that when Rob did the dishes from dinner, a syphon was completed with the great pacific and the sea would help itself right into our safe haven.  It had been about an hour of chaos by the time we were drying things out and pointed the old girl back toward Mexico. Our route was nearly due south at about 117.5 degrees west, as there would be a solid breeze rolling in from starboard, allowing us to fly the spinnaker once we tacked to port.  Aaron immediately went back to sleep with much fan fare.

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Shifts would have the men turn around 3am, sending Aaron to helm to replace James, with crew from Simon and Chris James there to offer the occasional quip about a voyage from another time. Rob never would sleep and roamed about the ship for hours, peering into dark spots looking for more leaks to no avail. We considered ourselves among the luckiest men alive as the sun began illuminating the mountains of Mexico on our left and the great expanse of pacific to our right. As day broke we were joined by dozens of dolphins frolicking in and around the curl of water broken by the bow.  After a hot breakfast and coffee a giant grey whale blew used air and spray high into the air several times about 50 meters to starboard.  Many species of fowl circled our craft inspecting us and giving loud reports.  The area was teaming with life.
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Checking out charts, we were ahead of schedule and by noon Ensenada was on the horizon.  The large spinnaker was full and all hands were busy on deck as we neared the committee boat.  It was surprising to see so many ships astern, as we felt alone for most of the voyage.  Just before noon Merlin would hear the horn as we gracefully eased over the finish line.  Cheers abounded and another beer was clanked in celebration.  We’d done it! Almost…
Perhaps 200 meters past the finish line would be the mouth to the Hotel Coral Marina, a small but accommodating port.  We fired up the iron horse and stowed all sails. Then it sputtered. Then again. Once more. Knowing his girl, Rob ordered the genoa to be unfurled quickly. No sooner than the sheets became taught did the old diesel finally die. Sh!t.  We tried in vain to bleed her lines, as it’s only ever air and fuel that will spoil an old stink pot, but had no success. We finally resorted to calling for help and two friendly locals were soon on their way with a reliable panga to bring us home. It would be only 20 minutes more and we found ourselves securely tied in at D38, toasting and relishing the adventure.  We’d not even finished our first beer when two mechanics turned up and found the culprit, a blocked fuel line that was replaced in short order. We then topped off the tank and ran her for a good while for insurance and the party began.  Finally, we confirmed we’d made it safe and sound.
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The party at the hotel was cool, with those souls that had made it (many had turned toward Catalina when the breeze died in the night) relishing in another successful voyage.  In checking the leader board, we learned we came in second in our class and that someone had protested our finish.  Aaron set out with Chris to present before the judge.  They explained to the race committee that they felt safety was paramount and gave rationale to motor off the start.  They commended us for being forthright and corinthian and scolded the protesters for not coming to the Merlin men before filing.  In the end we received a Retired at Finish as our official ruling for the regatta.  Aaron then quickly filed a protest against the opposition’s haircuts, which was upheld by the high court.  The finest tequila shots followed.
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A hot shower was the cherry on top as we donned our best to hit the town.  Chris James and Brian O’rouke said farewell and jumped a bus for the border, while to remaining dodgers hailed a buggy for the square.  Loud music and low riders and donkeys and trannies and sailors and mariachi bands and one Frenchman elbowed their way from tavern to tavern. It was like a scene from another world.  We toasted to the experience and hours passed like minutes.  It didn’t feel like much time had passed before we were in another roller coaster, stopping only once for ice, back to the boat.  Sleep came easy and was only broken by the easy dawn light and chirp of seagulls.
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Sunday would have us relaxing.  We made breakfast aboard and we all enjoyed the spoils of Rob’s recently compiled bloody mary bar. After one or more, a fellow from a neighboring ship came by for laughs. He’d been a navy man, aboard the only vessel able to be called a boat, a submarine. He had jokes and stories and a hat to trade, sending Simon away happy, as we learned that was the only reason he came on the voyage.  We quickly became famous for insisting passers by take a cold beer and laughing loud at anything that moved.  We might have been drunk but no one remembers.  Berths were found early.
We were off the dock before sunrise. Under motor, Merlin was back in US waters by 4pm and clearing customs by 5pm. It was an easy process, apart from James Corr getting asked thrice to remove the peanut butter from his mouth, for the serious border men understood nothing of what he mumbled.  It wasn’t long after that we appreciated the reciprocity of being members of South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club by tying up at San Diego Yacht Club and sitting down for a hot meal at their beautiful restaurant.  The sun would set and the final four toasted one last time before Aaron and James jumped a car home.
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Captain Rob and First Mate Simon were alone back to San Diego.  The voyage was easy for the first half, but the fuel lines proved to show their fickle and Seatow was beckoned a final time.  They clinked glasses for having paid the nominal fee to AAA of the sea, allowing for pull at no cost.  The final leg brought them home to Newport where Merlin would rest.. until next time.
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It had been an unbelievable voyage, a true adventure, with triumph and failure, hard work and relaxation, uncertainty and confidence…and one Frenchman.

How to Start a Startup – Final Lecture & Party :)

How to start a startup

Howdy

Thank you so much for attending the How to Start a Startup Lecture!

It’s amazing to have participated in the entire program and to have now arrived at the final lecture.  There was so much incredible information shared and discussed and it would not have been the same without your input and shared ideas.  A huge Thank You goes to General Assembly for being such gracious hosts for the duration of the course.

Feel free to review and reference the lectures moving forward.  They are all online and available for free – http://startupclass.samaltman.com/

No worthy endeavor is complete without some sort of celebration, so we are throwing a wrap party to mark the completion of this program.

Please join the group to view the final lecture tomorrow night, Thursday 12/11/2014 @ 6:30pm (film starts at 7pm), followed by a solid party.

General Assembly – 1617 Broadway 2nd Floor Santa Monica CA 90404

We’ll have beer and goodies on hand – FREE

More important that visiting another lecture or party, of course, the idea is that you go out and create something that will make this world a better place.  In that spirit, if there is anything I or any of your classmates can do to help, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Stay close,
AD

Aaron Loring Davis
310-663-2865
www.aaronloringdavis.com

Happiness Check List

I keep this list handy, so that when I find myself feeling down, I don’t have to think about what to do to get back up.  I often find that after doing just a couple of them, I’m already feeling better and ready to take on the world again.  See below for a video of a talk I gave presenting this list.
  • Listen to music – I love reggae, jazz, and ambient electronic (somafm.com)
  • Meaningful engagement with friends and family – I like to ask questions and let them tell me stories.  Light stuff, but intentional and meaningful.
  • Water – 1 liter+  At least a full glass as soon as I wake up and as often as I think about it during the day
  • Sleep – 7+ hours.  Melatonin and water at bedtime.  F.lux to get rid of blue light from computer screen
  • Green food / smoothie, preferably with friends
  • Meditation – I like to focus on my breath in the shower in the morning for 3-5 minutes
  • Small victory – Something small that I can complete in under an hour to feel like I’ve done something worthwhile
  • Help someone – strangers are the best.  Helping with groceries or just open a door.
  • Write – Writing forces me to collect my thoughts.  Privately in my journal or publicly on my blog
  • Group exercise – Getting a sweat where I can talk to other humans. Basket ball/hike/rugby
  • Yoga – close to meditation, given the breath work and mind focus, but adding a physical component
  • Read fiction – Fiction allows my brain to travel to another place.  Non-fiction tends to make me add things to my work todo list
  • Hug my dog – He doesn’t care at all about problems and is always eager to show me love
  • Guard myself from takers – Energy suckers can wait 48 hours until I’m up again.  When I am wounded, sick, and/or vulnerable I’m not interested in interacting with them
  • Create art – I love to paint, sculpt, and build stuff (usually with electronics or wood)
  • Hire help – Call for back up to get my house in order – laundry, cleaning, cooking
  • Intentionally smile and breathe – Just do it
  • Say good morning to strangers – Its nice and they almost always say it back.  When they don’t I have a reason to laugh AT them for being so fussy
  • Ask friends for help – That inner circle of 3-5 people that love you most.  Yeah, they want to know when you need them.  I’m not bothering them.  That’s what friends are for.
  • Reread The Four Agreements – 1) Be impeccable with your word 2) Don’t take things personal 3) Don’t make assumptions 4) Always do your best
  • Return to the Up folder – When my crazy isn’t acting up I like to save interesting and inspiring tidbits from around the web (articles, posts, videos, pictures).  When I’m in the pit of sorrow I have it right there to help.
Some of these things are habits.  Others are not.  But that is why the list is so good.  I can read it without having to think when I’m down to be able to get back on top.

Response to: How do you deal with disappointment and loss?

I broke my leg nearly 8 months ago.  Recalling the feelings of the moment, I can not recall ever being as disappointed as I was then.  I wrote about it (that was a good idea) and my family and friends helped me.

Writing this now, that seems like a place that is so far away.  I suppose it is and it isn’t.

In any event, things are definitely up.  Of course, pieces are still coming in to place as a result of the overall event, by my life has taken a turn that I could have never expected (more on that later) and my leg is nearly 100%.  The doctors said it would be a year, but last week I played a full game of regulation basketball.  I nearly fouled out, scored exactly zero times, and was pretty sore the following couple of days, but I was happy.  To be able to run was what was important.

Finally, over 100 people wrote to offer support, kernels of advice, and show me love.  It filled me up and I return to it again and again.

Below are a collection of of those nuggets in response to my question: How do you deal with disappointment and loss?

“I workout.

I remember what I do have in my life and what at I least was fortunate enough to have no matter how temporary it was.
I stay focused and work hard to be successful in my career.
I have a hobby that helps me relax.
I remind myself that I am a mentor to others. Even to some that I may not be aware they are watching me.
I listen to elders when they are sharing stories. There’s usually something there that I can file away –  knowledge.
I talk to strangers.
I remember good times and look forward to even better times.
I remember not to take everything so serious.
I think about what is really important.
I remember others feelings and not just my own (that’s easy to overlook).
I forgive.
I cry.
I laugh.
I love.
I live.

So there’s my two cents. If you remember anything at all that I’ve written, it’s this:

I do give a shit.”

“I can honestly say it never gets easier. There are going to be things that frustrate the shit out of you for the rest of your life, and some of those things are going to be way harder to deal with than not getting to enjoy the trip of a lifetime…All you can do is prepare for the next meaningful thing in life and maybe give back to the sport you loved by fueling someone else’s love for the game.”

“You’re surrounding yourself with supportive people, and the kind sorts, and I’m sure you’re trusting your instincts, and refining them as responses to adversity show you where your personal connections are misplaced, and where you didn’t realize there was so much love!

From my experience, LA’s a hard lady, and we’re sometimes drawn to the fun outgoing friendly-in-good-times crowds, but we discover that the kind people we forgot sometimes are the ones that really mattered…it’s those who admit their weaknesses who turn out to be the best and strongest in the end!

As Sir Winston once said: When you’re going through Hell, keep going!”

“From my experience, staying in hell is a choice. Once you decide you’ve had enough, you can choose to leave.”

“I know you. You are an “up” kind of guy. Honestly, that is not what makes you loveable. Your honesty and truth telling is what helps you connect to people. You, like all of us, are worth being cared about and not everyone has that capacity to care, and some do. Just keep telling people how you feel, really feel. You’ll find the ones that can accept you regardless of whether you are brilliant or stupid. It won’t matter to them. They will just care because you are worth being cared about. You don’t have to do anything for folks who really care, just be you, all of you. That’s what unconditional love is all about. I love you.”

“Be thankful for the 30 minutes against Canada, as you are going to remember it for a while.- If life didn’t deal us challenges and disappointments every now and then, we’d all be soft and useless.  What you lost by not going to Burning Man you made up for with growth of character, even if it doesn’t seem that way.- You’ve got your whole life to live!  Go enjoy it.  You can start by becoming a rugby coach or referee.”

“Read If by Rudyard Kipling”

“Say thank you (mentally) every time these thoughts come. Let them go, do not resist them. You can choose to be at peace in the middle of the situation.”

“I’m certain there are several gifts or diamonds with in the experience. Life is fast and ephemeral”

“Things happen for a reason and despite setbacks and failures, I think that’s an opportunity to learn from them.  Without those failures, you wouldn’t otherwise learn what success and happiness means.  I learned that and am grateful for the lessons and things I learn from disappointment.  I think you’ll reflect on this months later and realize that there were good things to be gotten from it (ie, you realize who your true friends are and who will be there during the tough times).  Anyway, hang in there and it’ll only go up from there!”

“Let me start by saying you’re right, that there is a lesson, that you must grow from this, and that there are things you can do differently.”

“None of this maybe relevant or worthwhile, but two quotes come to mind.  One is from a former yoga teacher: ‘no expectations, no regrets’, and the other is from Ray Liotta’s character in Blow: ‘when you’re up, its never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, it feels like you’re never going to be up again’.  Take these for however many grains of salt they’re worth to you.

I don’t know how much more i can say.  I guess we just have to keep our eyes open and our head on a swivel, and do our damnedest to not bemoan our station.

Life’s a funny fucking dog.  Keep your head up and your heart open.  I’m sending you good vibes.  Keep me updated on your progress.  I’d love to hear from you.  I’m on whatsapp if you’re inclined.  I love you, brother.”

“Hey douchebag…wanna come to aspen…I will cover room and flight.”

peace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay close,

AD

On Love and Hammers

I was talking to my mom when she asked about my weekend.
***
It was late. Maybe 10:30pm and I was oblivious to anything apart from the materials in front of me.
I had met with Dan Busby, Holden Bonwit, and Laurent Pelletier, down at the Brewery to take another night of abuse from the task master, Dan.
You gotta understand, Dan, is brilliant, fun, and patient, but every human has their limits. Between the confederacy of dunces that he had been voluntold to work on the Moveable Feast that evening, he would on occasion fly off the handle.
Before and after pacing about, he would repeat, “Where is are the pliers? Hummmff.  Same place last time you grabbed em.”
He would ask, “What do you mean you don’t know how to make that there 50 year old lathe create a cone with the measurements derived from the delta of these hypothetical braces out of a solid piece of steel?”, whereby everyone in the room knew damn well he could absolutely tackle that task.
I…we all…would try to find tasks that allow us the minimal amount of sheer terror that he would inflict upon us.  Oh, the dread and misery.
I tease.
When tasked with a job that allowed for extended immersion, it was fun to get lost in it.
In any event, there I was, working away on some bit of metal and had my hammers laid out in front of me. A brad hammer that was about as big as my pinky. A ball pean hammer resembling the size of my thumb. And a 16oz framing hammer that I feel could easy knock the doors of hell off their hinges.
Over my shoulder leans in an older man. He startled me a bit, hovering over a little closer than was comfortable. I could see a week old white gruff on his face and nose hairs that were obtuse and characteristic of old men that lean in a little closer than is comfortable.
“Aaron! It is ‘Aaron’, right?”
Before I could answer..
“You’re using the wrong hammer there.” He said very matter of factory and rested back on his heals to invite conversation.
I snickered.
“I’m not sure I caught your name…”
No response
“Well, perhaps not. But frankly, I think I can do anything I need to do right here with these three hammers.”
Awkward staring.
I could see his mind twining around, not so much to what I was saying, but in the direction of the tools I was using. It was as if I was only a hook. A hook to hold and utilize these tools, hammers, that were one of the human race’s oldest known.
I asked how his day had been going. No response. It wasn’t so much that he ignored me as it was that he didn’t even hear me.
He stepped around to get another vantage of the project and he leaned in closer.
Finally, I got up. It was unnerving to just be sitting there with him shuffling about.
I got a cup of water and grabbed a cigarette.
He followed me and postured up to chew the fat.
Engaged, I took a drag of my smoke and asked again. “How was your day, man?”
“Oh, it was good. Solid afternoon. Had some good food late.”
“Oh, cool.”
Another drag.
“I’ve been working with metal for a good many years.” And his gaze drifted down. It was as if he boasted his experience as much in pride as in embarrassment.
My mind raced to my home, North Carolina. It wasn’t uncommon for old men to come up just to talk. Not about anything in particular. Just to share stories.
But I was in downtown Los Angeles. A 100 year old brewery that was only the second Edison substation in the country had morphed into an artist colony.
And now I was drenched in the yellow light of a street light sharing stories and a cigarette break with an old man that just wanted to talk. Not about anything in particular.
“Want to come over over and see my  shop?  I’ve been fascinated with hammers for a good long while.”
“Well, sure.”
I was due for a break anyway.
As I walked in to his shop, about 15′ x 30′, the walls were covered.  Hammers everywhere.  All different types, hung on peg board taller than I could reach, and I’m 6’5″.  The materials the hammers were made out of were listed – wood, leather, polyethylene, steel. The applications the hammers might be used for were labeled – metal work, leather tooling, hammer repair.
It was overwhelming, all of the hammers.
My thought was “Get me the hell out of here.  This guy is bonkers.”
But then I stopped.
I thought “This guy is passionate.  He loves hammers.  He has something that keeps him up at night, even if its strange to me, its something.”
For that, I loved him.
I spent the better part of the next couple hours getting schooled on the ancient tool and all of its marvelous glory.
I finally headed back to my project smiling.  I had learned something interesting.
But more importantly, I was reminded that there are folks out there that have a restless mind and do something about it.
Old man whiskers has passion.
***
Mom laughed at me…with me.  In retelling the tale, I had to chuckle as well.
“So, Aaron, you went out with that girl a couple weeks ago.  You said she was fun to hang out with.  Any new developments?”
“Nah.  I don’t think so.  I kind of let it fizzle.”
“Why is that? I thought you liked her.”
“I did ma.  She was fun, but she is sort of just floating through life.  She didn’t have any hammers.”

Annual Report

 

Annual Report

2013

Howdy Friend,

Lots of year end articles, lists, and posts are circulating and it moved me to create my own.  Its really just a personal stock of my own life, what I’ve experienced, and a few notes on what I have learned.  My hope in writing this is that I will be more aware of what I’ve been getting on about, where I’m headed, and what I’m thankful for.
Highlights from the past include:
Making it to the Sweet 16 with Santa Monica Rugby Club
Making life long friends and winning a Bronze Medal at the Maccabi Games
Adopting WIlliam

Restoring a Hobie Cat sailboat
Getting a bicycle that is built for tall people
This is a partial list of books I’ve read:
I browse the following blogs and news aggregators for interesting and compelling articles and posts nearly every day:
Of course I use my blog and Facebook to share my life, but over the past year I have found these mediums to be a wealth of knowledge and advice as well.  More times than I can count, I have posed a question to my social networks to be completely blown away from the responses.  Thank you for that!

***

I sit here on new years eve morning, thinking back on yet another most interesting year of my life.

2013 brought about incredible victories and crippling disappointments.  I am a better man having lived to tell the tale.

I am so grateful for my life.
A friend said to me just the other day that they remember to check if they are still breathing when they wake up.  If so, yay!  What a good reason to be happy!  One is still alive and that is the most important thing about life – life itself!
It got me thinking about not only what i have to be thankful for, but ways to increase happiness and decrease unhappiness.
First, allow me to address a few thoughts on unhappiness and what causes it for me.
1) Not keeping promises to myself.  This is a big one.  When I have failed to keep a promise that I made to myself, it causes me to acknowledge my own lack of self control, and being out of control is a big reason for worry and stress.
Solution – Be realistic and honest with myself regarding the specificity and difficulty plans, tasks and promises I make to others, and more importantly to myself.  Inasmuch, keeping said promises becomes easier and more enjoyable.  Its also worth mentioning that understanding “why” I am making the promise in the first place is probably more crucial to the success in keeping them than actually what the promise is.  I am well aware of the fact that if the “why” is strong enough, rationalizing the follow through, or lack there of, becomes much easier to act upon.
2) Not listening to my gut.  Honest to goodness, I am not aware of a single time in my life where listening to my gut has sent me in the wrong direction.  The other side of that rusted coin is just as consistent.  I don’t know of a single occurrence when I wavered from the voice in my gut that didn’t leave me with feelings of guilt, remorse, regret.
Solution – Slow down for a moment.  Think.  Back in the days of selling real estate there was an old rule of thumb regarding disclosing a particular item during the transfer of a piece of property – If you are questing whether or not to disclose something, you probably should.  I think the rule can be applied here as well.  If I am having a mental dialogue with my higher self about whether or not to do something, and my gut has strong feelings one way or another, that is reason enough to listen…and act accordingly.  Empirical evidence tells me it will be the right choice.
Distilled down to a simple directive action – Understand “Why” something is important and make sure my actions are in alignment.  Simply asking myself why I might be doing something is enough to help myself live better.
With underlying reasons for unpleasantness aside, its important to recognize that what makes me happy, what I have learned, and just how grateful I am.
1) Deep personal relationships are the most important thing in life.  Who with doesn’t matter.  The depth does.  People are weird and quirky and selfish and have their own agenda and make mistakes.  We all have these qualities.  That much we know.  What is important to recognize is that despite of these things, our deep personal relationships attribute to our most profound and lasting levels of happiness. Period. Deep personal relationships at their core come from communication, consistency, honesty, trust, patience, giving, and fortitude.  When veering from these tenants, I have always found myself hung from the rungs of the items listed above.  When I am true to what I know mixes to make wonderful connections with my family and friends, I always…ALWAYS come away from the experience lifted up and better equipped to move through the disappointments of life.
2) Good health is a lifelong process, not a goal.  There is no end point one is trying to reach, as no one makes it out alive.  So, I am reminded that in the spirit of being healthy, its important to embrace and enjoy all of what being healthy entails. Living a healthy lifestyle makes me feel good.
     – Deep personal relationships
     – Mindfulness and meditation
     – Regular exercise
     – Lots of water
     – Learning
     – Green vegetables
     – Plenty of sleep
     – Journaling
     – Laughing a lot
     – Honoring myself
     – Vice in moderation
     – Being kind to myself
3) Learning and growth is essential for me.  It is the catalyst for creativity in areas of interest that have no relation whatsoever to the topic I might be studying.  Learning new things allows me to contribute more.  Growing permits me to have a bit more of the good stuff and helps to subdue a bit more of the bad stuff.  Expanding my mind to new ideas is just important to my overall happiness as oxygen is to my ability to breathe.
I love life!  I love the experiences, good and bad, that life brings to me every day.  I make mistakes and generally make an ass of myself with regular frequency.  I’m ok with that.  It doesn’t stop me from striving to grow and push forward in spite of those missteps and I am thankful for the good and bad that come as a result, just the same.  The amalgamation of the up and the down make me, me.  To play it safe, is but for losers.  To challenge life and to win and to lose.  That is to live.
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ~ William Shedd
I am so grateful for those in my life, look forward to the possibilities of 2014, and hope this next year brings you happiness of all stripes 🙂
Stay close,
AD

Aaron Loring Davis
310-663-2865
www.aaronloringdavis.com