Browsing My Thoughts

Martins da Costa Abafado 1960

October4

My wife got me a bottle of this Port for Christmas and I just finished it last night… it was the best port I’ve ever had. She got me some new bottles for my birthday which I am looking forward to trying :)

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Grandad Merlin and Grandma Betty

September23

My Grandma died recently (on my mom’s ), she was 98 years old. She had been in a memory care unit for many years, had escaped covid once when it killed her roommate, survived covid when she got it later, and had a stroke a few weeks before she died which robbed her of her speech. It was a peaceful death and it was time. I was happy that my mom and sister got to be by her side. They even were able to give her a few bites of ice cream (which she loved).

My Grandad died when I was in high school… I was set to take the SAT or ACT and remember my mom trying to pretend everything was ok as I left to take the test very early in the morning (I knew). They were amazing people and I love them very much. I was very close with both of them.

Some thoughts and memories…

Lindsey and I visited my grandma in Florida in 2016 (after a trip to Key West for work). My mom was there for some reason and we had a good time going to grandma’s favorite beach, playing scrabble, getting orange ice cream, etc. My grandma’s memory issues were always fun as she loved sweets and she would say “ooh we should get some ice cream” or “hey look there is a fudge shop”, and that would happen again a few minutes later :) (in many ways like my wife minus the memory issues!). Grandma would also ask me who the woman was in the back seat every so often (Lindsey). And, then she would congratulate me once she found out it was my wife :). She was very sweet and I loved it when she called me her “sweet patoey”.

We drove an hour to get an orange/vanilla ice cream swirl from a specific shop on that trip (the closer shop had closed years ago). The orange ice cream was made with real Florida oranges and the best thing in the world. I have fond memories of my grandad driving my brother and me to get orange ice cream after a day at the beach. We would get in the VW camper van seats, sit on these scratchy rough blankets that covered the seats, or these big wooden beads they had on the seats in the front to help his backs. The van smelled like sand and sun lotion (and occasionally like dead crabs that my brother and I had hidden in a pale). My grandad smelled like home with a mix of safety, love, and dependability. If I close my eyes I swear I can still remember that smell and the feelings it creates. It makes me tear up.

  • I remember my grandad getting out a big tin when I was little. It rattled and was heavy… and I was sure it was treasure! When he opened it it was full of coins. My brother and I helped him put all the coins in the coin sleeves and we used the money to go to Bush Gardens. I remember a baby chimpanzee in diapers that I wanted to take home. I also remember my grandad and mom running after the little train that dropped us off at the parking lot as Nick and I were still on it and the driver had decided to leave (also this was the moment when I cognitively realized as a kid that my mom was similar to a female gorilla in that she had the strength to rip someone’s arms off if they messed with her babies).
  • I remember being in the VW van on the way to getting ice cream and grandad telling me it was about to rain and to watch the cloud in front of me on the highway. Sure enough, I could see a wall of rain coming, it hit the car, and then minutes later was gone as we exited that little rain cloud. It was magical.
  • I swear I saw my grandad in Valencia in 2020. I was biking on this one stretch and off in the distance I saw him. There is a neighborhood on the beach that has these houses with white walls like their house in Florida and he was dressed like my grandad, white hair like my grandad, and similar mannerisms. I still think it was him. I look every time I bike past on that route, wondering if he will be there.
  • I lived in Florida for a bit and would visit my grandma. We would play scrabble (her early memory issues didn’t seem to impact her ability to kick my ass at scrabble). Grandma would pull out chocolates she hid in the lining closet for me, and a little Ouzo as we played. We often would challenge each other’s words and had the dictionary on hand. We would watch TV as it got late and I remember watching the Sound of Music with her (one of my favorites).
  • As a kid my grandma’s gold bracelets were magical. They would rattle and she would shake them. They were thin gold bracelets that grandad had bought her from around the world. One of my favorite things was to ask my grandma where they were all from and she would tell me this one is from an island on Greece or Egypt etc… I think it made me want to travel and see all these magical places my grandparents had been.
  • I remember traveling with my grandad and grandma in that VW camper when I was little. I remember sitting in the front seat with my grandma while grandad took a nap in the back. I remember her face looking very intense and she swerved that van all the way into the other lane and then back and then made the van wiggle a little bit. My grandad yelled with alarm from the back and apparently, my grandma had seen a snake sunning itself in the other lane and she took it out (she didn’t like snakes). She was also worried it might be on the wheel when she got it out so she made the car shake a little bit. My grandad didn’t seem to think it was funny as I did but his eyes seemed to be laughing (I don’t know how old I was, maybe 7?). I remember on that trip he lovingly grumbled and called her “speedy gonzola” a lot. I remember eating with them at a park and not finishing my sandwich and being full, and they told me kids didn’t have enough to eat somewhere else so I told them they should mail it to them. They thought that was funny and they both had amazing laughs. I remember traveling with them and staying on military bases (since my grandad was a vet). I got to see amazing airplane museums, soldiers, and PXes (or whatever they are called). I remember my grandad getting cranky sometimes after a long day in the car. But never for long. He always wanted to stop and find a place for the VW camper that had a pool. After a while, he would always play with us once he got in the water for a bit. He loved the ocean and even as a kid I would think about why he loved it so much.
  • I loved my grandparent’s house. My brother and I would play in the bushes with lizards all around. We had this amazing tree in the front that was perfect for climbing. We would buy plastic bows and arrows and chase each other around the bushes shooting at each other. Or with ninja turtles or these mech figures in the front yard having battles. My grandad had fruit growing in the back that smelled amazing. The grass was different too than in Fayetteville, it felt sharper but also like a carpet, and nothing bite me in the grass (unlike Arkansas). In the evenings we would all walk along the sidewalks around the neighborhood.
  • I remember taking the bus from Arkansas to Florida one time. I had just had my birthday but I am not sure which one, maybe 7, 8, or 9? My mom took us the entire way and since I was the oldest I had to sit with the stranger. I remember playing ninja turtles with a kid on the floor for a long time. I fell asleep on a nice black man’s shoulder somewhere around Memphis. I remember seeing TVs that took quarters in the bus stop (like you put in a quarter and then could watch something on a super small screen). I remember seeing people on TV like striped prison uniforms, although I am not sure why at the bus station. I wonder why we went by bus.
  • I remember all the seagulls at the beach. Sometimes grandad would give us bread and let us fed them, throwing in the air for them to catch in a mid-air glide.
  • I remember Tarpon Springs and eating greek food. The waitress would give Nick and I a special drink with a small plastic pirate sword with red cherries impaled on it. Nick and I would eat greek bread and butter and tomatoes/cucumber/feta salads (so good). I would order shrimp as it was the one time I ever got to eat them. I remember getting a toy in Tarpon springs when we visited, often the bow and arrow sets, sometimes a plastic head of a dinosaur or bird on a pole that bit people, etc… cheap plastic fun :).
  • I remember every restaurant was a bit of a nice fight between my mom and grandad about who was going to pay.
  • When we visited them in Florida I remember playing a lot of Uno. Good memories as a kid :)
  • I loved making my grandma laugh, she had a great laugh. We got along well.
  • My grandparents would often visit us at Christmas. I remember the last time before my Grandad got pancreatic cancer as there was a snow storm coming and they decided they better leave before it hit. My grandad gave great hugs, strong hugs, and I miss him. My grandma was a great hugger too.
  • When I lived in Florida I visited my grandma. I remember how nice it was to sit and play scrabble and just be in a state of contentment. We didn’t really talk about anything, sometimes she would ask me about work or other things. But mostly we just sat and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a good feeling.
  • My grandparent’s relationship with each other is a model I treasure. They seemed to love each other so much. They were always smiling at each other, they joked with each other, they would hold hands when they walked, and I loved their grandparent kisses. As a kid, it felt like they were Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause. After my parents got divorced I swore I would never involve myself in a romantic relationship as a kid. It didn’t seem worth it and everyone seemed so miserable. I didn’t lift that vow until I had a serious medical issue early in college that made me reflect on life/death a bit more. I decided then I should try fun stuff like drinking, drugs, adulting, women, etc… And, I don’t think I would have ever entered into a relationship/marriage without the optimism and faith my grandparent’s relationship inspired.

I miss them both :)

 

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40 Years Old :)

July20

Goodbye to my 30s and hello to my 40s :)

I am very glad to have made it this far.

And, here I am… turning 40 in a small town outside of Porto in Northern Portugal. It is amazing where life takes you!

This week I’ve been thinking about my 30s and what I want from my 40s.

My 30s…

I moved to DC at the end of 2010 when I was 29. I had been living in Denver and needed a change. Denver just didn’t feel like it was the place for me. I wanted to travel more and have some adventures while I was young and unattached. For my 30th birthday I was living in Washington DC and I had a chill night with Iris. We grilled some steaks on the porch, drank some really peaty scotch (thank you Chappy for that introduction), and talked all night. It was a great birthday!

Site5 was doing well by this point and we had owned it for a little over 2 years. We had cleaned out a lot of the financial/technical baggage and the previous year we had finally seen the results of all that work. And, I was feeling a bit more confident in my ability to run and grow the business. Not to say there were no bumps… but I had a better idea of what I was doing.

By the time of my 30th birthday, I knew I was going to spend 2012 and 2013 traveling and had some rough plans. I knew I was going to start in Central America and then move down to South America over the first 6 months of 2012. Then, I was going to meet my brother in Australia and live with him for a year. Beyond that, I didn’t have much figured out. The two years I traveled were some of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had so much fun with Rose and Steve as we crossed paths throughout Central and South America, with Joel and Laura in Chile (wonderful introduction to Havana Club), and living with my brother in Melbourne (my “life coach”). I celebrated my 31st birthday with my brother in Melbourne and my 32nd birthday on a boat off the waters of Croatia. My mental state was in such a great place by the end of those two years. I was a calmer and more confident person for many reasons. 

In October 2013 I flew back to Fayetteville for a quick 3-day trip to surprise Joel, Iris, and the Fayetteville crew (big ultimate tournament). I went to dinner with Lindsey that Friday and everything just clicked and I had this amazing feeling that I was going to marry her. After I left I wrote to her often and she visited me in Scotland a few months later.  We started dating when I got back to Fayetteville in late December, we got engaged in October of 2014, and we were married that December 😀. Not to imply that was an easy year, as 2014 was the hardest year of my life for a number of reasons (much longer story there mixed between work and health).

What is amazing to think about is that from 33 onward I’ve shared my life with Lindsey, from 34 onward we’ve been married, and from 35 onward Calico has been part of our little party. A lot of great adventures and hopefully many more to come :).

 

Looking back, what strikes me about my 30s?

  1. There were massive changes with whom I spent time. My 20s were primarily spent with close friends and the ultimate community. But the majority of my 30s were spent with Lindsey and Calico. In my early 30s, some of my closest friendships faded away or were abruptly dropped. That was painful. I thought that was due to me and specifics in my life, but I watched my wife go through similar. I wonder if that is common and if there is a big shakeup as people settle down, get busier, and choose where they spend their limited time and energy.
  2. I lost a ton of anxiety/fear and gained a ton of courage/confidence about who I wanted to be in this world. I credit that to a lot of solo travel, a lot of time alone to think, ayahuasca, and an intense job I had to grow into. The difference between me in my 20s and me by my early 30s is insane.
  3. This might be a weird one… but over my 30s I gained such a better “understanding” of humans, and this helped me feel confident in interacting with them as my “full self”. This is a big change over my 20s when interacting with people was just confusing and frustrating and I was a much quieter person. In my early 30s, I attributed a lot of this to my job. I was interacting with a large and diverse group of people across the world and I learned so much from them. But, being married has taken that “understanding” from a kindergarten level to what feels like a Ph.D. That doesn’t mean I *really* understand humans better, as they continue to astound me, but in general, I understand motivations for why they say and do things better. This “understanding” has helped me become a calmer and more patient person… and weirdly… a bit more uncaring about people but in a positive way. Not sure if it makes sense but it is a big change over my 20s.
  4. I have a much better handle on how to keep my body and energy levels healthy. They should make physical rehab and training a mandatory part of junior high and high school along with financial education (and practical real-world ethics, morality, and philosophy).

 

What do I want from my 40s?

  • I want to work on a fun project that challenges me, uses my creativity, and helps people.
  • I want to spend quality time with my family and not live an overly stressful life.
  • I want to have a lot of fun adventures (solo and with Calico/Lindsey)
  • I want to stay in good health, great physical shape, and maintain healthy levels of stress/energy.

I’ve got a long list of how that translates and I am looking forward to it :)

 

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Rough week :)

May16

Calico brought home the “preschool plague” and it has been a rough week. Luckily it was not covid. I got a nice bike ride in last week on Saturday, and then sick again on Sunday and just wiped out for the last 7 days (just a nasty head cold). Today is the first day I feel better but still low energy. I managed to work all week, and I am looking forward to getting out of this plague :).

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Calico’s First Day Of School

January4

Big day! For the entire Fox family :)

From Lindsey:

He just walked right in, said hi to everyone- and I’m not even kidding- never looked back. We had to get his attention to say bye! 🤣 As soon as we walked off, I could hear him ask the teacher, “where do I hang my jacket and put my stuff?”

On his second day, I didn’t go this time, Lindsey did and he asked her the following at different points in the walk/drive:

Calico: “Do I go to school the next day and the next day?”
Lindsey: Yes.

Calico: “That is great, then I can get away from your screams.”
Lindsey: Laughing, we don’t scream at you.

Calico: “Yes, you guys do. When I do something really really bad.”

A little later in the journey…

Calico: “Momma, do you get lonely and all alone when I am at school?”
Lindsey: A little and they talked about it.

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2021 Plans.

January1

2021 is going to be fun!

I’ve been wanting to do something with books for a while and I am excited to get it going. It should launch in Spring 2021 and it is a new way to find great books. Plus it will help authors build fans and sell more books.

Here is a quick mockup of what it is going to look like to start:

 

My big 3 for the year?

1. Work to build a new business, have fun, and make money.
2. Have more adventures in Europe.
3. Let it go. Short hand for the continued work to keep my energy in a good place.

Onward to 2021!

Let’s hope 2021 doesn’t have any BIG surprises, just a routine year… quick cut to humanity after 2020…

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2020 in Review.

December31

2020 was an interesting year to be alive.

It is always those damn air ducts.

For me, it was a great year with brief but intense moments of chaos and stress. When I think about 2020 it feels as if it was three years long but not necessarily in a bad way… but also not necessarily in a good way. The year started with us settling into our new home in Valencia Spain and ended with us moving to Viseu Portugal. In the middle, there was an intense period of lockdown where we couldn’t go outside, a fantastic road trip around Europe, a lot of wonderful time with Lindsey and Calico, and a lot of bike rides. All with a decent load of stress for family, friends, and the world.

At work the year started with a pivot for my startup, a lot of good responses from possible customers, signing up our first paying customers, and then Covid hit. By late April, I decided to shut it down as we couldn’t afford to sit and wait 12+ months for things to return to normal in the HR/Recruiting space. In hindsight, I think it was a good call. If we had been 6 to 12 months further along I think we could have weathered the storm, but we got hit at a bad time in the product’s birth.

Our family is very lucky in that our income wasn’t affected by this crisis. It is a lucky place to be given the devastation billions of people are feeling the economic crisis. A lot of people in the tech industry should thank their lucky stars.

The Amazing
Our little family is healthy and happy. Lindsey and I have been married for six years and we are going strong 😌. Our family had a lot of fun this year. I especially had a lot of fun watching Calico go from 3 to 4 and just exploded with imagination, complexity, and questions.

I’ve been disease-free and feeling good. I still eat a pretty strict AIP diet, work to maintain good sleep habits, and some other things. But, I did have some nice breaks and treats along the way.

We moved to Valencia which is my favorite city in the world. Our time there was amazing and I LOVE that city. We wish we could stay longer if not forever (we could only stay 2 years due to badly designed tax policy).

I did not do a bike tour this year, mostly because of Covid. But, I did get 1,000+ km of bike riding on our European road trip. Over the course of the year, I did about 6000km of rides. And, my back has been amazing 94% of this year.

What fun stuff did we do this year?

  • An amazing European nature road trip over 36 days in a big van with my bike. It was amazing! We started in Southern France and slowly made our way across it all the way to Avignon. Then a few days in Italy before shooting across to visit Slovenia. Finally, a little time in Salzburg Austria, and Freiburg Germany before heading home. I had so much fun on this trip… we saw some castles, Roman ruins, ate delicious food, enjoyed time with my family, swam in lakes and the ocean, and had some epic bike rides. We were super safe the entire trip and spent most of it in nature in long term Airbnb stays. We never ate inside (in fact we haven’t eaten inside since February).
  • I read a lot of great books this year. And, hit a new reading record crazy enough.
  • I ate so much delicious food and learned to cook steak really well.
  • We got an amazing new kitchen at our place in Valencia. I love cooking in it! And, I miss our amazing apartment.
  • We spent so many fun days at the Valencia parks and beaches. This is especially amazing in February.
  • The weather in Valencia is insanely good, that was a joy to be in.
  • Amazing carefree bike rides in Valencia and out along the beach. Just super recharging and peaceful.
  • I had a lot of really amazing dates with Lindsey before the pandemic when we had some amazing babysitters.
  • Lindsey took just me on this utterly amazing day trip to hot springs and other stops near Valencia. It was the first time we had a full day of just us. It was so much fun. We even went swimming in January (semi-hot spring)!
  • We spent a chunk of time exploring Portugal and trying to find the right city for us. That got a little stressful at times, especially as covid got worse, but we also had some amazing times as a family:).
  • I started planning a business idea I’ve wanted to do for a while and finally going to do it (around books).
  • Health! After last year I really focused on listening to my energy levels and not pushing myself too far. As a result, I didn’t really ever get sick (apart from one bad case of food poisoning). That feels good after 2019 where I got sick around 5 times.

The Challenges!

America
2020 is the year I finally said RIP to America. It has been a long time coming. Now I want to work on WHY, IF, and HOW I can still love America. It is hard to love a country that can’t get the most important things right and is hurting its own people so much. We do a lot of things really well too but are failing in almost every big category.

Covid
I am super introverted and it wasn’t a hard change. But it has been a big challenge for Lindsey and Calico. Lindsey can’t visit her family, and they can’t visit. And, visiting friends we made in Valencia got a lot harder. Calico is very social and loves playing with kids so the impact on him was hard. I am looking forward to him starting school in a few days.

How did I do on my goals for 2020?
I did really well on the let it go a bit. It is something I will always work on. I had a great meditation guide/therapist in Valencia. He helped me integrate some little meditations into my day.

On the business side, 2020 was not great. I shut down the startup due to Covid, but also because I didn’t listen to my gut and pivot sooner. I learned a lot and I am confident that will help me get to the next thing :).

We had some awesome European adventures despite Covid, so a big thumbs up there.

2021…
I am sure this will be a *really* interesting year.

I am looking forward to getting the vaccine. And, I am looking forward to seeing political ramifications as the economic damage becomes more evident and longer-term. Especially in Spain, I have a dream they fix the tax code so we can move back to Valencia long term.

For our family, Calico is about to start school for the first time. And, I’ve got an external office for the first time since 2004. This is going to be a big adjustment for our family and Lindsey.

Longer post coming soon…

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6 Years Married :)

December21

Lindsey and I celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary today, hooray :)! I am looking forward to another 6 years and hopefully way more after that!

Love you, Lindsey!

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Ted Lasso = Amazing TV Show

December8

This TV show is stunning, it is the best thing I’ve watched in years. I can’t wait for season 2. I don’t care if you like soccer, this is about humans and soccer is just the vehicle :). Go watch it!

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Moved to Viseu Portugal.

December6

As mentioned we have been looking for a place to live in Portugal and settled on Viseu Portugal. Why Viseu?

It is in nature, we like the feel, it has a great bike path, we met the mayor the first day we were here, and it seems like a great place to wait for Covid to pass. It is not a place we would normally choose, as it is a bid small (~100k) and a bit sleepy. When I am biking around it part of me is still surprised we picked it as it feels very rural. I like to say it is a covidenture (covid + adventure)!

So the last couple weeks have been doing things like turning water on, electric, getting a fridge, Ikea orders, Ikea building, and so on :).

Here we are celebrating Thanksgiving out at our fav restaurant! Calico had such a good day he crashed before we could even start getting him ready for bed :).

And here are some pics from the last month or so!

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RIP Sean Connery…

October31

I grew up watching him in Bond movies with my dad. He was always my favorite Bond, classic style for a different time. I also loved him in First Knight, The Rock, Hunt For Red October, Indiana Jones, Highlander, Bridge too far, and so many others. He is probably the only actor I can do a half-decent impression of.

There can only be one.

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News Fasting.

September28

Lindsey and I have been on a news fast since early September. It has been really good. I think I am going to stick with it and only do news every 2 to 4 weeks on a Sunday. We are just tired of it and powerless to do anything about the direction of the USA. We bribe politicians, we vote, we call, etc.

I wish I could click my heels and it was Nov 10th and the election was over just to get through this period.

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39 Years Old :)

July20

Birthday!

We got to Slovenia yesterday and we are just taking it easy today after a few days of driving. Slovenia is the 47th country I’ve visited and pretty cool to add that to the list :). I wonder when and if my age will bypass the number of countries I’ve visited. Lindsey had candles and some wonderful cake and balloons. Good birthday week :)

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Trump’s Plague

June30

How long until the USA is hitting 100k a day in new infections?

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Good watch.

June12

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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