Windows with a new home

My husband and I have been going through a slow and long process to finish our basement.  Last summer we ripped out our old aluminum windows and replaced them with double-pane energy-efficient ones, and we posted those old windows on CraigsList.  I figured someone would have a use for them.

Turns out, that someone is living an awesome little dream.  Meet Greg, who is converting a beat-up old camper into a little mini-house that they’ll park on the beach somewhere in Mexico.  He bought our old windows for his new house.  This makes me unbelievably happy.  To think that my old windows are retiring on a beach in Mexico just makes me smile.

Anyway, I thought I’d share his website as he recently reached out to me to share their progress.  I love it when people set their minds and build something amazing.  You go Greg.

Read more about his Little Casita Project here.

The Thank You Card

The art of the thank you card has largely gone by the wayside, which is unfortunate because I love them.  We’re all so busy, that just to take the time to hand-write a note, find an envelope (just in case you forgot what one was), and even get a stamp – it speaks volumes and always sticks out in my mind.  Plus 99.99999& of all mail I get are bills, so just getting something truly personal is a breath of fresh air.  I just wanted to give a public shoutout to the teams at Lasso, Doccaster, MyReci, and Insatiable Genius for the fun thank you cards and gifts.  You’re awesome.

Why yesterday was my worst day

I spent the last 12 weeks reading over 1000 applications for 10 spots to the TechStars program in Boulder.  Of those teams, I probably talked to 500+ companies, either in person or over email.  I got to know them as people, not just as a business name.  My head hurts with all the companies I’ve crammed in there over the last 3 months.

And yesterday, I had to cut 95% of those teams.  It’s gut wrenching and it’s the worst part of my job.  I spent all night and most of today responding to teams – some were disappointed and wanted to know why, some took it as a challenge to kick more ass, and some were just angry and needed to vent.
So to those that were cut – I said this in my email to you and I’ll say it again.  It’s not a vote against your team.  Many times you’re just subject to what’s most interesting to us right now, and that’s a matter of personal opinion.  You could be doing something KILLER and we might  just be interested in something else.  There’s no defense against this, it’s nothing you did wrong and nothing you could improve upon.
My suggestions to you now are to kick some ass and prove me wrong.  TechStars is a path, not the path.  You can make your own TechStars experience by finding some mentors and subscribing to the Lean Startup methodology.  Make sure you’re doing customer development ad nauseum!   Build, get feedback, iterate, build, get feedback, iterate.  If you do that, pretty soon you’ll wake up with some traction under your belt and you can thumb your nose at me. And not making the final cut for TechStars will be the best thing that ever happened to your company.
I truly wish you all the best of luck.  I hope you apply for the Seattle program, and that we’ll run into eachother again.

Come find me at SXSW

I’m doing lots of fun stuff at SXSW.  Come say hi! 

Friday 3/9 – I’m a judge for the Startup Bus competition, at RackSpace in San Antonio.


Friday 3/9 @ 4pm – TechStars Happy Hour and Q&A session – if you have questions about TechStars, come hang out.  I’ll answer them.


Friday 3/9 @ 8pm – TechStars Party, but it’s sold out. Sorry!


Sunday at 930 – I’m a judge for Hatch


And check out more TechStars events… there are lots!

A weekend of helping non-profits

What are you doing this weekend?  From Friday, Feb 19-Sun, Feb 21st, SnapImpact is having a weekend-long retreat to “make doing good easy”.  SnapImpact is a local Boulder non-profit that has developed an iPhone application that shows volunteer opportunities near you.  The goal is to break down the barriers to volunteering and get people involved in their local community.

As luck would have it, SnapImpact has partnered with (sponsored by Google and Craigslist) and  the data store that powers  We’ve been tasked with improving their website and database,  and we’d ideally like to port the SnapImpact iPhone application to other devices.  We’re having a weekend-long retreat to get some of this stuff done with the help of the community.  So if you’ve got some time on your hands this weekend, come join us!  You can come for all or part of it,  all skills sets are welcome, and you’ll be spending your time with a family of volunteers that care about our community.  And just think – helping SnapImpact helps non-profits around the country.  Click here to learn more or to register!

Weightloss secrets

About 3 years ago, my husband and I underwent a lifestyle makeover in order to get healthier.  The goal was health, not weight loss, and at the time I figured I had about 5 extra pounds to get rid of, nothing major.  Four months later, when I was shedding weight faster than I could eat, I had lost about 17 lbs and went to the doctors to make sure nothing was wrong.  It turned out I was in insanely good health, I was just doing it right.  Because of that little era, a lot of friends kept asking me the secret, and after responding many times over email, I figure I should put this on the blog (3 years later!).  Now, given I’m about 8 months pregnant, this might be a funny time to write a blog post on my weight loss secrets.  But it’s relevant because while I’m not trying to lose weight right now, I want to remind myself of what we did back then to get in such good health.

I don’t believe in quick fixes.  I don’t think there’s such thing.  A pill isn’t going to help you.  Neither is an all grapefruit diet.  You need to learn to eat how your body was designed to eat – we have tens of thousands of years of evolutionary design behind our digestive and metabolic systems that fit with our environment, and only about 100 years of the current quick-fix, salt-and-sugar-laden, preservative ridden, pesticide-infested nastiness that companies try to pass off as food.  They inject growth hormones into that cow, and then you eat it – shocking it should make you gain weight too.

This is a commitment.  It’s really hard to do.  Its not a diet.  Its a complete lifestyle change.  Your friends will hate you for looking good and hate you even more when you go to that restaurant and can’t eat anything on the menu, so you order a piece of fish, baked, with nothing but lemon and a side salad with oil and vinegar dressing.  But you’ll look and feel fantastic.  You’ll be the healthiest and leanest you’ve ever been in your whole life.  You’ll glow.  You’ll sleep better at night, your hair and skin will be fantastic.  You’ll have more energy than you’ve ever had.  And if you are like us, my husband and I cooked together.  It became our nightly ritual – the thing we did to spend time together.  We caught up, we talked, we shared.  It was the best bonding of the day.  We did this about 3 days a week, and made sure to make enough for leftovers the rest of the time.  Cooking becomes infinitely easier, more fun, and less time consuming when there are 2 of you doing it together.

So here goes:

The food we were eating basically followed a caveman’s diet, or what a nomadic native American might eat, but anything you had to cultivate, we didn’t eat.  So meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, potatoes, stuff like that, all good.  Bread, not good.  Rice, not good.  We weren’t avoiding carbs, we were just avoiding processing and artificially occurring sugars.  A conscious decision was made every single time something went into my mouth.  After a while, it became second nature, but at first, I was constantly deciding if what I was eating was okay.  If it wasn’t, I found a substitute.

  1. Eat nothing processed: Absolutely nothing out of jars, cans, boxes, or bags.  In America, this is really hard to do.  No cereals, no breads, no crackers, no cookies, no chips, no pizza, no pastas, no sauces (unless you’ve made it yourself).  This will cut out about 99.9% of the sugar you eat on a daily basis.  It will also keep you from eating in restaurants.  You’ll be cooking like mad.  Yummy dinners would be fish and broccoli, or steak and potato.  I highly recommend The Whole Foods Cookbook – we made about 90% of our meals from that thing, and they are yummy.  Time intensive, but yummy.  This will be one of the hardest things you’ll have to do.
  2. Eat organic: I didn’t lose any weight the first 3 months of our change, but the end of month 3 and beginning of 4, I lost 17 lbs all at once.  The doctors told me this was because of organic eating.  I haven’t done any research to backup the docs claims, but it sounded sane to me, and if nothing else, environmentally responsible.  Anyway, the pesticides, preservatives, and growth hormones they spray/inject into your food gets into your system, and basically clogs your cells, radically reducing the efficiency of your body’s ability to metabolize the nutrients in food.  It takes a while for that crap to get out of your system, and once it does, your body metabolizes food more efficiently and effectively.  This isn’t hard, just expensive!  But I’d rather be healthy and lookin’ good than watching cable TV, so get rid of you cable subscription and add that back into your grocery bill.
  3. Eat as much as you want, over time: I always made myself a super small meal, but promised that I could go back for seconds and thirds after waiting a full 15 minutes before the next helping.  I was always ravenous after finishing my first helping, I didn’t feel satisfied at all.  But after 15 minutes, I really wasn’t hungry anymore.  It just takes a while for your head to understand your belly is full.  This will account for a radical reduction in the number of calories you consume in a day.
  4. Eat lots of small meals. Of course, when I ate a super small meal (I used one of those salad plates to judge), I was hungry again in about 2 hours.  Fine!  Eat again!  I would eat breakfast around 7am, then have a piece of fruit around 9am, then around 11 would eat a handful of nuts or something, then I’d go to the gym.  Around 1 I’d eat half my lunch, around 3 I’d eat the other half, around 5 I’d snack on carrots or broccoli or another piece of fruit.  Dinner was at 7, then if I was hungry before I went to bed, I’d drink a glass of juice or milk.
  5. Drink tons of water. I stopped drinking teas, coffee, all soda.  Only juice (100% fruit juice), milk, and water.  I started getting creative with my water though, putting lemon in it, or other fun stuff.  A friend just told me about putting ginger and lime and honey in water.  Sounds strangely good.
  6. No added sugar or artificial sweeteners of any kind. None.  Honey is okay.  This goes back to point #1.  Sugar is in EVERYTHING processed.  Ketchup, salad dressings, salsas, breads, pastas, cereals, canned soups, canned vegetables, EVERYTHING.  If you start making your own sauces, you can leave the sugar out.  When I had a sweet tooth, I just drank some juice or ate a piece of fruit.  It isn’t nearly as satisfying as a cookie, but after a while I stopped craving cookies and starting craving mango orange juice.  Yum.
  7. Exercise: The funny thing about exercise is that I was ALREADY exercising about 4-5 days a week.  I bumped it up to about 5-6 days a week.  So I can’t say that 1 day a week extra helped me lose weight.  In fact I just read an interesting TIME article today that exercise isn’t really directly linked to weight loss, primarily because you come back hungry and offset your caloric burns with eating more.  But exercise does get me in overall better shape, keeps my mind sharp, keeps my curves in the right places, and keeps my husband on his toes since he has to really try to beat me.  Heheee, that alone is worth it.  But I was doing at least 1 day a week of weight training, after all, muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.  If you’re curious, just ask and I’ll share my workout regimen too.

As an aside, people keep asking me if I’ve been able to keep it up.  During really busy times in my life, no.  But most of the habits have stuck.  I still workout.  We still make our own sauces, keep the sugar consumption to a bare minimum, cook 3 times a week, and eat mostly organic.  Where I fall down is when I’m busy, I’ll eat out, and I’ll eat everything on my plate instead of rationing it and waiting 15 minutes.   I always pay the price too, I feel sick about 30 minutes afterward because I’ve eaten too much, and an hour later I still feel sick because my intestines can’t handle the processed crap in them.  Before I got  pregnant, I had about 5 extra pounds on me (but down 12 from when I started the whole thing).

Good luck, and make that New Years resolution to get healthier stick!

Jury Duty

I’ve just finished a week of jury duty, and now that it’s over, I can talk about it.  The case and proceedings are in the public record.

Jury duty is one of those things – I didn’t really want to do it because like everyone else, I’m busy.  And right now in particular, I’m a contractor, so when I’m not working, I’m not getting paid.  Furthermore, the county courthouse is over an hour from my house, each way.  But I’ve never served on a jury before and was interested in the process.

I should have known right away that I was going to get selected. My juror number was the first number required to even show up on that day.  Then once there, there was the usual snafus that happen only when I’m involved – we had to wait outside for 30 minutes to enter the building, and it was 15 degrees outside.  Once inside, we discovered the computers were down, the copiers were broken, there was problem after problem with the courthouse’s normal procedures, causing us to wait further.  Finally around 3:30 we were called into the courtroom, and of course I was called first to the jury box.

Through the counsels’ questioning of the jury, we learned that the case would be a sexual assault case and would take a minimum of 5 days.  Great I thought, I’ll get out of this given I’m pregnant (emotionally unpredictable, right?), a contractor (undue hardship on me), and in college I used to volunteer for a rape victim’s support group.  After all, no means no.  Period.  No exceptions, none whatsoever.  Turns out I was the only female on the jury that wasn’t dismissed by counsel, and one of the few people that wasn’t dismissed.  What did I say right?

In this case, we had to determine whether Larry Flippo had sexually assaulted this young woman, Dawn.  Here’s the quick background:  They meet on a phone-dating line; she lives in Denver, has 2 children under the age of 2, has no car, no money, is married but separated, and is 21 years old.  He lives in Greeley and is 30.  They spend a few weeks having phone sex.  He invites her up for a week-long “vacation” – she accepts under the pretense that it’s only as friends, since it would be the first time they met.  Given she doesn’t have a car, she has a friend drive her, her two children, and a week’s worth of clothes up to Larry’s house in Greeley.  Her friend actually recruits a cousin to do the driving since they are short on gas money.  They drop Dawn, her children, and stuff off in Greeley and head home to Denver.  Dawn has no money, has no car, doesn’t know where she is in Greeley, doesn’t know where ANYTHING is in Greeley.  This story is already fraught with bad decisions on Dawn’s part, but that doesn’t change the fact that No means No, right?

Apparently, Larry gets frisky with her right off the bat.  He grabs her ass, she moves out of the way.  He invites some friends over for dinner, and they witness him being inappropriate with her and her mildly rebuking him.  Things like rubbing her shoulders, and she scoots over out of his reach.  He tries to untie her shoes, she doesn’t let him.  He sticks his head up her skirt, she pushes him off.  His friends tell him to back off, that he’s freaking her out, and he doesn’t.  He kicks them out of the house, claiming they are interfering with his ‘relationship’.  At some point in the evening when Dawn’s 18 month old son is sitting at the table eating dinner, Larry begins to masturbate in the chair right next to him, outside of his pants, by rubbing himself.  Dawn says nothing, but does call her son to her and just averts her eyes.  If that were me, I’d run.  She remains, but does call her friend to see if she can’t return to Greeley to pick her up.

At this point in the story I should mention that Larry is mentally retarded.  He is developmentally disabled, in addition to having a frontal lobe injury from a premature birth, and has the mental capacity of a 12-13 year old.  He has been living on his own for the last 4 months for the first time in his whole life – prior to that he was living in institutions or with his mother.  I should also mention here that Larry has been married, twice, both times to women with developmental disabilities.  He’s not totally clueless about sex and relationships.  Larry has also written love letters to Dawn at this point, saying that he wants to be with her, that he loves her, he wants to hold her.  He even draws her pictures of little hearts and helicopters.  I read these letters, they aren’t the letters of a man just seeking to get some, they are from a young boy who is trying to express a feeling of love.

Anyway, the night progresses and Dawn somehow, stupidly, finds herself in Larry’s bedroom, with her daughter asleep in a car seat on the floor and her son asleep at the foot of the bed.  Larry begins to masturbate again, Dawn ignores him, not wanting to wake the children, hoping her friend will be there soon.  At some point, Larry pushes her down on to the bed and holds her arms with one hand.  He tears at her panties and bra, then proceeds to violate her.  She claims her first concern is not waking her sleeping children – which I buy.  What is not clear is how much protesting she did here.  It is physically impossible for him to effectively hold her down the way he was if she was struggling hard.  She admitted not using her legs to push him off.  So it’s clear she didn’t put up much of a physical fight, but how much verbal protesting did she do?  I’m still not clear.

So here’s my question to you.  If there are 2 backpacks on the ground and you take one without permission, is that stealing?  Yes, right?  But what happens if you thought the backpack was yours?  Then no, it was a simple mistake, right?  My point here is the law is very clear on intention – your mental state.  If you intend to steal the backpack, then it’s stealing.  If you accidentally took it, its not stealing.  Same with sexual assault in Colorado’s eyes.  Sexual assault in Colorado (18-3-402) is a crime when:

Any actor who knowingly:

  • causes submission
  • by means of consequence
  • against a persons will

So what this means is that Larry had to be aware that he was doing something against her will, that he was causing her to submit, by means of consequence (threats, intimidation, fear, whatever).  Given his diminished mental capabilities, how aware was he?  Given he had a couple of weeks of phone sex with her, given she lead him to believe she might have sex with him, given his love letters to her, given her lack of effective communication and struggle, given he has the mental capacity of a 12 year old – did he knowingly cause her to submit?

The law also states that the jury has to be unanimous on its decision.  And that we are to find him not guilty unless we are sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is guilty.

It took us, the jury 7 hours of deliberation, up to about 7:30pm on Friday night.  It’s not clear how long we would have stayed there had we not come to a decision.  For most of the deliberation, the jury was split 10/2 guilty/not guilty.  I was one of the 2.  Its not that I thought he was innocent.  I just had reasonable doubt that he knew what he was doing.  The guy is mentally retarded.  And he has a frontal lobe injury, making it difficult for him to process messages, especially in a heightened state.  I’m not saying a guy like this should be allowed to walk the streets if he can’t process a “NO” when he hears one.  I’m just saying I had a small doubt that he was deliberately forcing himself on her.

I ended up voting guilty.  Why did I vote guilty when I had reasonable doubt?  There is one thing in my head that didn’t add up.  Larry is ‘highly suggestible’ given his mental disability.  He confessed to the rape to the police, but in a way that suggested he was being ‘agreeable’.  He answered yes to almost every question he was asked.  He apologized for things.  I think he was just being agreeable as he knew he was in trouble.  Just like a child would.  But if he was so agreeable, and Dawn was saying NO all night long, and Larry thought he loved her, then one would think he would be extra-agreeable to Dawn.  He would want to do everything he could to please her, including heeding her sparce “NO’s”.  But since he clearly ignored every clue thrown at him, it lends me to believe he knew what he was doing.

The sick part is that either vote is yukky.  Larry now goes to prison.  And I don’t think the mentally retarded belong in prison.  But not-guilty would allow him to walk the streets – which I also don’t think is the right option for him.  If he can’t understand a basic NO, he shouldn’t be able to operate unsupervised in society.  I can only hope that the courts give him an appropriate sentencing.

This case was not as cut and dry as one would think a sexual assault case might be.  We had a retarded man’s life in our hands.  I can only hope we did the right thing…

A one year walk through China

Anyone that knows me, knows that I have wanderlust.  I think the longest I’ve ever stayed in the country without some serious walkabout is 3 years, and that was nearly devastating.

My friends at Everlater, Nate Abbott & Natty Zola just tweeted out about a guy that walked through China for a year.  Here’s a video on it.  Absolutely inspiring.  I’m wondering – think this is possible with an infant?

The Longest Way 1.0 – one year walk/beard grow time lapse from Christoph Rehage on Vimeo.

And I’m pregnant

Well, what can I say.  It’s a girl!

I can tell you that since I keep myself in pretty good shape, I thought I’d be one of those cute pregnant girls who’s only point of expansion was her belly.  HA!  What a crock that is!  The bad news is that your ass grows in proportion to your belly, to keep you balanced I guess.  The good news is I have a set of BOOBS to go along with this little phenomenon.

Man I wish I had these in college.