Hurricanes Suck

After seeing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, I’m reminded of the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. We were living in West Palm Beach, Florida at the time and had never been through a hurricane, which is like a right of passage there.

Without a doubt, we were exceptionally fortunate. Over the course of two years, we made it through three hurricanes (Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma) and numerous tropical storms with minimal damage. But, although we were fortunate, it was heartbreaking to watch people lose their lives, their homes, and their livelihoods.

All this aside, it was refreshing to see communities, neighbors, friends, and family come together to support one another in a time of need. Florida is not known as a tremendously friendly place, but I watched, time and time again, people come together to help each other – from sharing food, ice, and electricity to clearing debris and rebuilding roofs.

With that being said, I ask that you consider helping in any way you may be able to – whether it’s volunteering, making a donation, or simply sharing information. If you’re inclined, you can find a few ideas here:

#sandy how to help (via Twitter)
Hurricane Sandy: How you can help
(via NBC News)
How to Help the Survivors of Hurricane Sandy (via The White House)
Volunteer & Donate Responsibly (via FEMA)

Note: Don’t get scammed. It happens. If it seems shady, it is.

Louis Sahuc | The Brentwood Collection

A few years ago, I was in New Orleans and stumbled into Photo Works New Orleans, Louis Sahuc’s gallery on Jackson Square. He’s taken some spectacular photos, but I was particularly enamored with The Brentwood Collection. It’s a series of photos of chairs in different, meaningful positions. Simple really. One of the staff gave me the background and although it is a little fuzzy these days, it went something like this…

Louis and a business associate couldn’t come to terms on something and his business associate stopped taking his calls and was unwilling to meet with him. Sitting in his office, he looked at two chairs and came up with an idea. He took a number of photos of the chairs in various position, representing the fact that they don’t agree, but they needed to talk. Then, he sent them over. Once his business associate received them, he got Louis’ visual message and they met, and have had a strong relationship since.

I’d post a photo, but, you know, copyrights. So, check out the photos here.

‘Shark Tank’ with More Oreos

As a father of three, I’ve had the opportunity to hear kids say some extremely funny, creative, and brilliant things. Recently, my son and I started playing a game that frequently combines all three elements. We don’t have a name for it, but some might think of it as ‘Shark Tank’ with more Oreos. To be fair, a lot of people would simply call it ‘brainstorming.’

Basically, he pitches me business ideas, sometimes very raw, sometimes very well detailed and thought out. As you can imagine, the spectrum of ideas is all over the place, from Minecraft mods and social networking tools for kids to buying and selling bikes.

Once the ideas have been pitched, we talk through them. This can get a bit squirrely at times and the ideas can seem pretty off the wall, but we always talk through them. We go through the why’s, the how’s, and the whatnot’s, which often leads to new ideas and a fresh string of questions.

Some ideas we’ll research on the spot and other times, I put the ball in his court. And it’s great to see him get excited about an idea, dig in, and learn something completely new. Regardless of the outcome, we’ve started putting all the ideas in his ‘Startup’ idea book.

Each time we play the game, it evolves and his understanding of the business world grows. It’s also great to see his younger brother and sister wanting to get involved and starting to pitch ideas of their own, like “What about puppies that don’t poop, dad?”

Moving forward, we’ll be testing some of his ideas, giving him an opportunity to learn more about entrepreneur-ing, and hopefully earning him enough to buy that X-wing Fighter he’s always wanted.

Bungee Jumping | Pacific Northwest Bridge

Last spring my sister called me up wanting to go skydiving for her birthday. I was pretty jazzed (doing a celebratory dance with jazz hands) as I’ve wanted to skydive for years, but my son was all, “Um, dad, I want to go…” Unfortunately, he’s only 12 and since you’ve got to be 18, it wasn’t going to happen unless we went all D.B. Cooper. So, we decided on what we thought was the next best X Games alternative, bungee jumping.

We scoured the Earth (googled “bungee jumping oregon”) to find the most intense experience we could (something relatively close where death is considered uncool), which led us to bungee.com. The fine (friendly, competent, and not shady) folks at bungee.com own and operate the highest privately-held bungee bridge in North America, the Pacific Northwest Bridge. So, we made reservations (highly recommended) for the summer.

The bridge is about 45 minutes north of Portland in Washington on some old timber land. From the bridge, you stare 200-feet to the river below. The Jump Master helps you into your harness and gives you a safety briefing, which you forget the second you’re ready to jump. As you’re waiting, other people are jumping off the bridge, some look calm, cool, and collected and others not so much.

When it’s your turn, they attach the bungee, run through a safety check, run through a safety check of the safety check, and have you climb over the bridge rail. Your first jump is forward and your second, if you choose to cheat death a second time, is backward. These guys mean business, too. As soon as you’re on the platform, they count to three and you jump, no hesitation.

Now, you’re plummeting towards the Earth at around 68 miles per hour. And within seconds, you are shooting back towards the bridge faster (around 70 miles per hour). Then you bounce around, most people are laughing, but others like screaming “HOLY SH*T!” over and over.

My sister jumped forward and then quickly put a check next to bungee jumping on her bucket list. My son, more adventurous, jumped twice and would have probably jumped three or four hundred more times if I he could have. Since he jumped twice, I had to jump twice, too. I think its’ a law or something.

They have a photographer about 15-feet below the bridge taking pictures of each jump. Although you have to buy them, it’s totally worth it. We got about 30 images per jump. And, no matter how cool I thought I looked when I jumped, the pictures proved I was on the verge of crying.

Having owned and operated a recreational business (scuba diving) in the past, I was really impressed by how they ran their operation. They were friendly and funny and safe and didn’t let us die. They are also opening a zip-line Spring ’13 if you are into that kind of thing.