Leaving India

Its midnight Maharajah and I am sitting in the lounge at the New Delhi airport waiting for a flight that is about ten hours away. I have not written for the past few days not because there was nothing to write, on the contrary there has been so much to write that figuring out where to start would be even more difficult than actually putting pen to paper.

I think that I left off in the Pink City which seems like a million years ago. This was a long trip, but no where near long enough at the same time. We spent about eleven days in Rajastan and we only went to four or five cities out of about a dozen. And Rajastan is only one of about twenty states in the Indian pantheon each of which has a unique and flavor and character.

The last few day have been spent in Bombay, the most vibrant city that we visited. The oppressive heat means that the city really lights up after the sun goes down. We dined at the cities premier seafood restaurant Trishna a once in the trip journey into luxury. The mean cost about as much as a night in a hotel but the garlic prawns and de-boned whitefish Hyderabad style were Amazing! Well worth the splurge as our last dinner in India. Ok, enough about that meal, incredible as it was.

I have been sneezing since the moment we stepped off the plane, there is something in the air or perhaps the air itself that is just generating this torrenting tornado of bloodshot eyes and a snotty nose. Lisa is unaffected by this so it must just be me. This place is alive, everywhere you look there is a crowd, this is unlike anything that I have seen or even imagined. The impromptu commuter passages, the sidewalks that become roads and how six cars can fit on a four lane road make me think of an ant colony. When you look at the hustle and bustle it seems disorganized but when you take a step back the elegance really shines through.

I know that the book Shantaram helped me tremendously on this trip, without it my perspective would have been skewed by my own personal biases. Bombay came alive on the pages of the book and visiting Leopolds Bar anchored me in the experience. The heat, the hustle, the crush of people getting onto the train (a whole story here) is spontaneous and passionate. I loved every moment here even with my head feeling like it would pop.

Read More

Bombay – Train Time – Santacruz Station to Church Gate

Being our first night we headed back to our hotel in a Second class train ride. Our original journey on Sunday morning cost us 156 Rupees, which equates to a good breakfast so we decided to take the second class option which costs 14 for both of us. The train car was crowded but not claustrophobic and one of the older gentlemen that we were sitting near came up to us and started talking. The usual, where are you from, how long are you here, what’s your name, he was very well spoken and after a while he told us that tomorrow we would be unable to take the Second class option because there is not enough room to breath never mind sit, so we would be better off taking the First Class option as he would during the week.

The next morning, MADNESS. I have never seen anything this chaotic, pushing, shoving and people jumping from the over stuffed train doors before the car has stopped. Scary. The book Shantaram describes this perfectly and one of the things that he says is that the amount of force required to do anything in India, including boarding a train is “just enough.” Just enough to get the job done, just enough to make sure that you don’t miss the train. Trains are usually on time, maybe a minute late, but these clunking beasts are not sitting for long.

I estimate that they are only in the station for about 30 seconds and in that time hundreds of people change places some getting to their station and some getting onboard for the office. Most people start work by 10am so the crashing trains happen until about 10:30 and then lighten up. Somewhat. Today we took the train and Lisa had to sit in the ladies only section because of the number of people and I sat in the baggage car with the fish merchants who were transporting their catch and the road workers with their pick axes and steaming hot chai teas.

I was sitting and holding a one Liter bottle of water that was half finished. While I was sitting down I got a tap on the leg and the guy next to me motioned for the bottle. I offered and he took a sip in that all to Indian style of drinking. Never let ones lips touch the cup or the container. The is the land of sharing especially water. On the streets one water merchant may only have six stainless steel cups for 100 customers. Each one making sure that his lips never touch the rim of the glass. Its more of a pour than a sip. But any way, no local would dream of carrying around a liter of water so having a half finished bottle in the baggage cart was just an invitation to share.

Technology is Fragile

Technology is fragile. What we expect and what we receive are usually in sync, especially if we have used the technology before. When it gets out of what, that’s when things break down. Today I lost (scrambled) my brand new 2GB SD memory card from Costco the last seven days of pictures have been lost to the corners of my mind. Without warning the card just displayed “Card Error” on the camera and when I was finally able to buy a USB sync cable (another great story) I was confronted with a Macintosh error messages that the “disk volume could not be mounted or repaired.” Oh well, we love it when it works and are shocked when it doesn’t. I am not going to sweat it, I have another card and plenty of time here in India. I’ll have to rely on postcards for a while.

I have traveled to more than fifteen countries in the last six years and with each adventure I learn a little more about trekking the world with technology. Here is my advice as it applies to India. We have a hired car taking us around and we are staying at 2-3 star hotels that by American standards are relatively clean, very loud but have private western toilets and rooms that lock.

1. The power adapters from REI / Frys or other electronics stores do not fit the plugs in India. The shape of the 3 prongs is similar to but not the same as South African travel plugs. But finding simple adapters on the streets is easy. The cost is about 15-25 Rupees, which is about 50 cents. Get more than one. If you need to charge multiple items like a cell phone, laptop and iPod you will have to wait until each is charged to charge the next one. Additionally you cant just leave your gear charging all day because the rooms do not have working power until you lock the door from the inside and put the key into the power box on the wall. This triggers the flow of juice, A/C and lights. No key in the box, no power. So either you leave your room unlocked for the day or you get multiple power adapters. (Yes, I know some people remove the key fob from the key and get around it that way) I however prefer to leave the key at the desk when I head out for the day.

2. Check the power rating of your equipment. Everything that I own has a 120/240 volt power adapter but some things like hairdryers do not. When in doubt ask, a blown breaker at 2am means that you could be sleeping without heat if the front desk is closed.

3. Laptops are fine to bring along. I have the MacBook Pro with the standard Mac power adapter. It is protected with a hard plastic shell and a discreet black laptop backpack. I never take it out at the hotels; I just use it in my room with the doors closed. I also boot it up when the car trip is going to take a few hours and there is open road ahead. Check with your guide, there may be safety reasons not to have it on your lap in certain areas. I have yet to have issues.

4. Handy to have are the little battery boosters for cell phone batteries and iPods. I purchased one with 12 different tips that will charge my cell phone or iPod or even my camera. They cost about $35 and weight almost nothing. A must have item.

5. Walkie-talkies. There are two of us traveling. If we ever get separated at a market or inside a monument we turn it on after a few minutes and figure out where to meet each other. Thank goodness we have not had to use it, but it is worth the peace of mind.

6. If there are critical pieces to make your technology work like cables or connectors. Pack them safely or even consider buying a duplicate cable before you leave. No one wants to be walking the bustling streets of Jaipur looking for a fricken USB cable at 10pm. Been there, Done That.

7. Get a computer lock with a motion alarm. One of my favorite accessories. It allows me to lock up the computer when I am out of the room to a chest of drawers, a pipe or almost anything else. And it has an ultra sensitive motion sensor that starts to shriek after 10 seconds of meager moments. I also use this on the door at night to alert me if someone is opening the door. It cost me about $39 but I use it every single day.

8. Have your cell phone unlocked before you come. I always but a local prepaid card just for emergencies, I also program the tour companies number the guides number into the phone. Test it and makes sure that they have your details as well. SMS’s are big here; you can communicate almost anything with SMS. Like meet me here or please pick us up there. I paid $10 for a prepaid SIM with 100 minutes of talk time; it expires after a year of no use but well worth the price. You will need to have your passport ready to signup for the service. I always have a photocopy at the ready for situations like this.

9. If your provider will not unlock your phone buy a simple phone in a store in India. I have seen phone starting at $35.

10. I use a blackberry from ATT and it took me about a week to get the unlock codes. I ordered the unlimited Blackberry International plan that costs about $65 with a one-year contract. It is $10 more expensive per month than my regular BES plan but well worth it.

11. In dire situations I use my phone via Bluetooth as a modem on my computer. Speeds are not great, but a whole lot better than no Internet connection at all.

12. Don’t be flashy. Your phone or your camera may not be a huge item at home but here, it can be more than half a years earnings. Be wise, and be safe.

13. The Internet is everywhere and so is spyware. Unless you have a business need to have a computer or you just like having all of your own software or whatever you can always get connected to right a quick email or book travel to the next city. The current price is about 60 Rupees per hour, about $1.50.

14. Most hotels are technology friendly; if you need something just ask. It’s not the first time that they have been asked. Most of the time they can arrange for it to be dropped off or picked up or whatever you need. Pay when the work is complete, not before. If they don’t get it right the first time, provide more details and they will get it handled. The people area really amazing. Bring all of your chargers and cables and spares and everything should be fine.

The Pink City – Jaipur

Just leaving Jaipur the Pink City another Fort built by the brothers, sons, sisters husband of some Emperor of India from 300 years ago. I don’t want to sound cynical but we have probably seen 6 forts and twice that in Temples and Palaces. The reason for my lack luster attitude is not the locations or the architecture but it is really the similarities between these buildings. I am finding myself trying to find the differences between one fort and another, some subtle hint that in the fifty years since one was build and the other started that they learned something, changed something and were not doing the same thing the same way just in a different city.

Metal rings at the House of Commons on the exterior of the building indicated that when the House was in session that there were carpets draped from those rings to shield the goings on from the women in the crowds. They also protected from the elements and enclosed these great walls. Each guide has their own special way of doing these tours, some use repetition and others comparisons between this fort and that fort.

The huge differences in my unsophisticated mind are where the structures were build. In Agra and Delhi there are almost no hills or mountains, the land just goes on and on like an Iowa cornfield. But here is Rajasthan mountaintop Palaces and Forts are the pride of the city. Elephants amuse the tourists with tours up the windings paths to the encampments and down in the cities they haul heavy loads for the locals. I have said it before, but India is Incredible.

The balance and the harmony is just something that is indescribable, like an Indian G-d, there are many hands to India. One the one hand it is a shit hole; The smell of human waste in the alleys can be overwhelming, but you then emerge onto a bustling and relatively well lit, and clean street with name brand clothing outlets. On the other hand you see so many handicapped people that you want to just cry out for each of them, but then you see that the people that have no use of their legs have specially designed bikes that allow them to propel their load with their hands. A man without legs and a man with functioning faculties both deliver the same goods by bike up and down the crowded streets.

There is a fascination that I have with the balance; things just seem to work here. From the claustrophobic crowds all moving together like a school of fish towards the market without a complaint or care when then are bumped into. Or the way that using the sidewalk as a road when a cow decides to block the streets. The people just seem to understand that the inconvenience of loosing the sidewalk is nothing as compared to traffic stopping for five short minutes. For me, it’s the people. The sites are amazing and have to be experienced but it is the people that really stand out.

Our guide Sanjeev from Abyss Travel in Delhi has been absolutely amazing. His mantra seems to be “I am here to be of service to you.” And there is nothing that happens during the day that seems to take that serious small from his face. I still have some good old skepticism about the relationship that we have, but I have complete faith that being with him here in India is the best thing for us right now. His English is not great, but he makes up for it in driving acumen and knowledge of the scams and commission hungry guides. I know he survives on tips, his happiness is directly related to our happiness. I enjoy symbiotic relationships; they keep things in check.

Quote of the Day

Lisa Day 3 – My burp just tasted like curry.

India – LAX to New Delhi

Today started at about 6am with the final packing and getting ready. I made sure that I printed (again) the boarding passes and the information for the first hotel in New Delhi the Suncity Hotel. I was up the night before until after midnight doing the needful, like writing those last emails to clients and wrapping up some loose ends. Despite my lack of sleep or perhaps because of it I was overly cheery and pumped for the upcoming adventure. Mom and dad stopped by at about 10 to say goodbye and as per usual I was handling some customer emergency, you know the kind of emergency that people have when there is nothing else to worry about in the day. Never the less it took time to resolve and ultimately the customer was happy, but I did not really get to spend quality time with the folks.

Lisa was picking me up at noon for our adventures and I know that she is never late 🙂 Amazingly she was on time and we set out on our one-hour drive to her parent’s house in Laguna Nigel where we were getting picked up by a shuttle service for the last leg to LAX and our twenty-six hour journey on India Airlines. I am skipping out the parts where I was getting phone calls from clients right up until we board or the whole security process at LAX which is less than organized and I will pickup at Gate 2 waiving for our flight.

Air India is so ultra security conscious (or they just don’t trust the TSA) that they have their own round of baggage checks and people screening. Each bag, and each person were screened and checked and then permitted to sit in the waiting area. If you went to the restroom you then had to stand in line again and get checked. The crowd just formed a line and everyone stood there patiently waiting their turn.

The plane was a Boeing 737 that looked as if it was freshly painted on the inside and ransacked on the inside. This plane lacked the modern comforts and conveniences that we have come to expect. On my seat you could either have the headphones working or the seat reclining, but not both at the same time. On Lisa’s chair the armrest covering was gone and a shiny piece of metal gently poked at her the entire trip. The bathrooms were actually cleaner than I expected during the flight, we had head horror stories of filthy toilets and the constant smell of curry. The smell of curry did permeate everything, the seats, the air the whole experience. But it was clean. The toilet although clean did have a small issue, for most of the flight it was detached from the wall. Balancing there if by the grace of G-d performing its services without fail.

Now most people that I know order a special meal on long distance flights, you know ordering vegetarian or Kosher just so that you know that you will be getting a quality meal. We had ordered the Kosher meal and as far as airplane food goes it was quite good, but let me tell you if you fly Air India and you LOVE Indian food, skip the special meals and just eat what they serve. It looked and smelt amazing, honestly if this is what plane food is like, just imagine authentic Indian food!

One Ambian later and we woke up just in time for our decent into Frankfurt for a refueling stop. We had left Los Angels about an hour late so we only spend about forty-five minutes on the ground before boarding and an on time departure. Another ten hours in the air and we would be landing in New Delhi.

Landing in Delhi at five in the morning, the city was still dark. The first thing that hits you is the smell. Its not the smell of shit and piss that everyone warned us about, this was more familiar somewhat easier to tolerate. It actually smelt like the city was on fire. San Diego just recovered from a huge fire, so for about a week the smell of smoke was everywhere. This is exactly what Delhi smells like. Smoke from burning wood, the air was absolutely pregnant and about to pop. The air is thick and the first few breaths leave you gasping for more, my body readily accepted that each breath was delivering about half the air that it needed and the pace of my breathing changed to match my needs. Dirty yes. Filthy not really.

We walked out of customs and into the great wide airport hoping to see a sign from our driver. No such luck, we spent about thirty minutes looking for our prearranged transport but he was nowhere to be found. Everyone was saw or spoke to be unbelievably friendly and willing to help. Finally we changed some dollars into Rupees and make a phone call at the payphone to the hotel number that was printed on our confirmation. The hotel then gave us the number to the car service, they checked our reservation and noticed us that we were scheduled for a pickup; But the pickup was at 4PM and not 4AM, I assured the man on the other end of the phone that we were indeed at the airport and in need of his services and that 4PM was a clerical error. He agreed and he asked me where I was standing and what I was wearing. Blue jeans and a black sweatshirt and within three minutes a man walked up to us, on his cell phone and confirmed with us that we were going to the Suncity Hotel and with a smile he took our bags and we headed for our first venture out of the predictability of the airport.

Umm, remember what I was saying about the sweet and smoke filled smell? For a few moments the smoke gave way to an overwhelming smell of who knows what and the first thing that entered my mind and leapt from my lips was that ‘my farts smell like roses!’ This unidentified smell dissipated after a few seconds and has not returned since.

Driving! If that’s what it’s called is more like a video game or Mr. Toads wild ride than a predicable and positive experience. I will say that Lisa sat closer to me and held on tighter than she ever has before. What a ride! Disneyland should consider creating a ‘Streets of Delhi’ roller coaster! Lanes are simply suggestions and honking horns serenaded us for the forty-five minute ride.

When we got to the hotel it was clean and characteristically Indian with an Ikea modern feel. Not quite old, but not quite new at the same time. The room by American standards would be considered small. Maybe 80 square feet including the shower and toilet. It had a double bed that consumed 85% of the floor space but it was clean and the sheets were crisp. It was perfect.

By the time we checked in, and headed to the roof for breakfast it was about 9am, and we anything but tired. Wired is a more accurate description. Ready for anything. Breakfast was cold white toast and curried potatoes that were lukewarm but amazingly tasty.

We went down stairs to the front desk and the guy behind the counter asked us if we wanted a map of the city. (This is where it all starts. The simple question of asking us if we needed a map started the sales pitch.) We responded that we were interested in a map and a well-groomed guy came up to us from the travel agency that had shuttled us for the airport and walked with us to get a map. They were back at the offices 🙂

They pitched, we caught and within about an hour we had negotiated a tour of Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan for 14 days including hotels and a driver for $1000. Which worked out to be less than $45 per day per person including transportation, and hotels. We were well researched on this and willing to accept the offer after some specific accommodations were confirmed. The company name is Abyss Travel and as a side note we have completed the first three days with them and everything has been excellent. Well above our expectations. The driver Sanjeev has been at our beck and call and has whisked us to see the amazing sites of New and Old Delhi. If everything on the tour goes like these last three days it will be phenomenal.

Muse Missteps

First Muse Failed

I am a big fan of the 4 Hour Work Week, I maintain one of the largest 4HWW groups on meetup.com and started the 4 Hour Work Week Forums as part of a bigger marketing plan. By following the rules of the book, setting goals, defining the ideal outcome and testing the product before I invest too much TIME into it. (As we know time is money in 4hww terms)

4 hour work week

My original plan for the site was to create an offshoot community of 4hww readers and provide them with the most up to date content on the net about Timothy Ferriss and the 4 Hour Work Week. I hired a freelancer to do utilize blog / rss and internet searches to find the most current and up to date posts about the New Rich, Dream lining, mini-retirements, DEAL and other peoples 4hww experiences. I had them post the articles to the site after a few short weeks I started to build a community.

My goal was to have 200 active members by December 1 2007 and then start introducing some affiliate programs and other resources into the forums. Each of these outbound links would give the readers of the forum a discount on a relevant product or service and I would get paid a referral fee if they purchased. The type of products included marketing and PPC resources, e-books on how to start a virtual company, coupons to freelance sites, web hosting accounts and the like. I ended up with 84 total members, a huge disappointment for me.

4 Hour Work Week

Process and Planning

The setup of the site was pretty straightforward. I setup a web hosting account at MediaTemple, ordered vBulletin and a theme called Coffee. I then purchased and installed what I think is a must have plugin for vB called VBSEO, which allows the site to have static pages urls and link backs. I then setup an RSS / Blog search for common 4hww terms and head to elance.com to find a subcontractor to make posts for me. Pretty easy to this point.

I then setup an Adwords account with specific keywords and within a few days I am getting a 3.5% CTR on my terms and traffic starts coming. New members are signing up at the rate of about 1 per day. Not good enough for what I need, I up the ad spend a little change my keywords, broad match some competitive terms and now I have a CTR of over 6%. I do a ton of A/B testing for ads and I am happy with the traffic but not the new signups. I am tracking conversions with Google Analytics and I know exactly what each new user is costing me, in both time and money.

4 Hour Work Week adsense

The amount for effort required to maintain the site is not an issue, it maintains and polices itself and with my Indian freelancer it was costing me about $16 per day to have dozen of current and relevant posts updated to the site. I am getting Google PR, tons of backlinks and I am in the Google index. I have 376 indexed pages in less than three months; I have 301 redirects from common misspellings of the domain and I am getting good traffic. From an execution perspective I have done everything right. I am just not meeting or exceeding my plan.

Google Index Pages

Knowing when to say when

Having a plan about what I needed, an execution road map and plan helped me to plan my attack for this muse. It did not work out, but I also have not wasted time in pretending that it will eventually work. The NR plan, check, test and execute. We also need to know when to say when.

So what to do? I have tested. Retested and have changed variables that have given me great responses, but I need to move on and focus on more muse creations. For those of you who have read the book I am sure that you can appreciate the “why??? I am doing this. For those of you who have not read the book, do yourself a favor grab it. It might just change your life.

As of December 1, I am 301 redirecting the forum to my personal blog. I will keep updating the blog with 4hww news. Same information, just a different format.


Turkey Trot 5k San Diego Run

On Thursday I just completed my very first 5k. It was the SDJA Turkey Trot. The race started at 8am and Lisa and I were consistently in the middle of the pack the entire race. At about the 1 mile marker my achilles on my left leg really started to kill me, I think that it was the uneven pavement, but none the less it hurt.

We finished in about just shy of 35 minutes and for my first 5k I am thrilled with the results. I am looking at the calendar to see what other fun runs there are in the next few month. The best part of these little runs are the causes that they support; I am always happy to support a local charity or children’s organization!

Mark my words, the first of many 5k runs…

Industry Press / Broadband Wireless Exchange Magazine

Its always nice when a article about your company gets picked up by the major players in your industry.

Robert Hoskins from Broadband Wireless Exchange Magazine wrote about Skyriver’s efforts during the fire and how we as a company responded to the needs of the community.

Broadband Wireless Network Demonstrates Its Natural Disaster Survival Capabilities By Providing Emergency Communications During Southern California Wildfires

Brad Slavin, Skyriver’s VP of Engineering and Network Operations stated, “The fact that our network survived these tremendous fires without a single network outage is a true testament to the carrier-grade engineering approach we have implemented. We have full redundancy at each of our sites, ensuring that our customers have seamless connectivity through even the worst of natural disasters.”

Skyriver Communications Emergency Response to Fire Storm 2007

As you all know I work at Skyriver Communications as their VP. of Engineering. Skyriver is a very progressive company that is led by Saeed Khorami. Part of our corporate directive is to provide support and relief in any way that we can and during the fire storm of 2007, we were able to provide support not only the the victims and volunteers but also the the President of the United States on his trip to San Diego.

For the people directly impacted by the Fires Skyriver set up free WiFi Hotspots at disaster sites including the Del Mar Fair. We are covering the stable areas for all of the horse and pet owners and a majority of the sleeping areas by the main grand stands. And for the President of the United States we provided emergency Internet communications to the press corps when he was in San Diego.

Due to the nature of the Skyriver service we can rapidly respond to emergencies, events and critical bandwidth needs within hours. Our comprehensive coverage area leave very few areas unserviced.

Fire Storm 2007 has been called the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans on 29th August 2005. One of the most vital services is communications. Emergency services need to be able to contact each other and just as importantly families need to be able to contact each other.

During a disaster, concern and worry about family members as well as the state of the family home runs high, and without access to up to date information panic can occur. Skyriver Communications experienced no network down time or outages during the raging fires and we provided our customers with continued connectivity. Because of our reliable network we were able to respond to the communications crisis by sending volunteers out to install much needed equipment to enable free wireless internet connectivity to the evacuees. Skyriver Communications donated free broadband wireless internet access to 2 locations at the Del Mar race track.

The Del Mar race track was one of the only shelters that allowed animals inside the buildings as well as providing fully equipped stables for horses, goats, pigs and more. Along with the animals, the owners were also gathered around the stables and although needs for food, shelter and support were provided, communication needs were left unattended. In fact the only communication devices were cell phones and due to the fires, lines were jammed and service was sporadic. Skyriver’s emergency response to this need was to donate and install two access points and repeat the signal down. We were able to provide free service in each of the two areas of about 1000 feet each.

The second location Skyriver donated service two within the Del Mar race track was the Plaza Mexico, the central gathering location for evacuees. Skyriver’s high capacity services penetrated the building insuring people could use the service from the comfort of indoors and away from toxic ash falling from the sky.

To finish up our disaster response, Skyriver Communications provided the press contingent to the President of the United with on demand WiFi Hotspot and high speed Internet coverage on the Miramar Airbase. The Presidential coordinator contacted our office at 3pm on Wednesday evening for a 9am visit. We were able to coordinate our back office team and deploy a 3Mbps link by 5:30pm that same day. Our typical installation has a 3-day turn around but for critical emergencies we can respond within a few hours.

The Skyriver offices are located in Poway and many team members were evacuated from their homes and our hearts and thoughts go out to them and everyone affected in these difficult times.

POTUS in San Diego

In response to the current fires in San Diego County; Skyriver responded to the ever changing needs of the President of the United by providing a last minute high capacity link to his staffers and the press corps at the Miramar Airbase on Thursday morning.

We were contacted at 3pm on Wednesday after our competitors provided failed to install their connection as promised. Knowing the urgency of the link we were able to install by about 5:30 that same day.

Aaron and I went to the base to see the President and Governor Arnold Swarchenegger before they boarded Marine 1 to survey the fire damage. We were close enough to see Air Force One and Marine One but not close enough to be seen by the President. We then spent part of the day in the Press room making sure that the link was working for the crew.

We were about 300 feet away from Air Force One

Here is a copy of the pass to Meet the President:

and a copy of the Press Schedule for October 25th.

Picture Inside the Press Room

Volunteering During the Fires

Today I got to make a difference in the lives of people who were affected by the San Diego Fires. Skyriver Communications choose to come to the aide of the community by providing Free WiFi Internet Access to the people who were displaced by this emergency.

We installed two major hotspots at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to provide Internet access to the evacuees, the press by the main grandstand and to the pet owners at the stables.

Click to see all of the pictures of the Skyriver Volunteer Effort

I was amazed to see how many people were responding to this crisis and just how organized the people at the Del Mar Fair seemed to be. There was an efficient drop-off location for food, clothing and other necessities and a process for sorting the items out into specific categories and distributing to those in need.

It took a few hours for us to install our links, but once they were up and Lisa and I had finished walking the grandstands to tell people about our free hotspots there were about seven people connected within 15 minutes.


As of today November 26th those displaced by the fires who were situated at Qualcomm Stadium have been moved to the Del Mar Fair. We have verified that the HotSpots are functioning normally and we are hoping that everyone has uninterrupted Internet access. We labeled all access points with an SSID: SKYRIVER-FREE-WIFI just to make sure that everyone knew that it was free to use.

The whole company came together to support the San Diego community in the best way that we know how. We wanted to make sure that it there was even a slight possibility that providing free Internet could make someones life a little easier that we needed to be a part of the solution.

Rancho Bernardo List of Homes Destroyed

List of Homes Destroyed in Rancho Bernardo
**This list was compiled by the Office of Council member Brian Maienschein and is
not an official listing of all structures lost. I will continue to update this list as
more information becomes available.

Aceituna Street:



Aguacate Way:

Read More

Amazing Customer Service – sleepinnovations.com

So about a month ago I ordered a King size memory foam mattress from Costco. I had gone online and read all of the reviews, the overall consensus was that it was the most amazing sleep ever.

The bed was shipped in a box weighing about 150 pounds and after I lugged it up the stairs, the excitement began. The opening of the box and the removal of the mattress is one of the most incredible processes that I have seen.

You cut through a sealed bag and air just wooshes into the bag and the bed starts to expand towards it full size. I let the bed expand for about 96 hours before touching it and other than a hump in the center the bed expanded completely without any inflation issues with the corners. I installed the mattress on a new eastern king size platform. Moving this 150 pounds by yourself is not recommended, but I was able to muscle it into place.

After buying a new set of sheets, I was ready for my first nights sleep on the bed. Climbing onto the mattress was really, I mean REALLY comfortable and it did not take me any time to get used to it. The first nights sleep and honestly every subsequent sleep was unbelievable.

So if the sleep was amazing, why did you return the bed? Honestly thats a touchy subject so I have embedded a Youtube video.

Memory Foam SexSex on a Foam Mattress

So now that you know sex on a memory foam mattress sucks. If you are in any way athletic or like changing it up the imprints that mold support your body for sleep, screw you up for sex. I liken it to playing tennis on a grass or clay court when you are used to playing on a standard court. Its not better or worse, its still tennis but it is not really played the same way. There would be a huge learning curve and I was just not willing to take the time.

I have read that a number of people are cool with memory foam mattress sex, but I am not one of them. I like a little more support and bounce. Just personal preference.

Sooooooo, I thought that it was going to be a problem to return the mattress – one because it is not “new” and that it weights 150 or so pounds. I know that it came in a small box but once it was inflated, there is just no way for me to get this to my local Costco.

Read More

The Worlds On Fire

With San Diego burning,

I am reminded of a song by the Housemartins called The Worlds On Fire. Growing up the Housemartins and the Beautiful South were one of my favorite bands of all time.

I had the opportunity to see the Beautiful South about a year ago at the HOB in San Diego.


There’s a couple sunbathing on a freshly mown lawn in England
It’s a house with a view and all you see is green and blue for miles
The local Vicar has pretended that the church is well attended this morning
As he wanders without purpose to the Sunday Service he smiles
{Oh-ho!} What a beautiful morning
{Oh-ho!} What a beautiful day
{Oh-ho!} What a sickening feeling
It took this long to make it, now we’re throwing it away

Now, I was told not to play with fire
I said, look out Church the flames grow higher
I said, watch those flames lick that spire
I said, look our Church the falmes grow higher
{The World’s on Fire}

There’s a curtain closed early in an upstairs room in England
There’s a couple misbehabving when they should’ve been praising Sunday
And there’s a bounce in a walk and the neighbours stop to talk for hours
And when eyebrows are raised at the next song of praise come Monday

{Oh-ho!} What a beautiful morning
{Oh-ho!} What a beautiful day
{Oh-ho!} What a sickening feeling
It took this long to make it, now we’re throwing it away

Now, I was told not to play with fire
I said, look out Church the flames grow higher
I said, watch those flames lick that spire
I said, look our Church the falmes grow higher
{The World’s on Fire}

The world’s on fire!

29 Hour Days

Its about 3pm on Sunday and I woke up about two hours ago after being out until sunrise. But before I get there lets start at the beginning. Friday night I hosted a dinner party at the house for about twenty-five people; it was a huge success. The party started at about 6:30 and went until just after two.

It was nice to be back in the swing of entertaining again. Last Saturday I had a small party of eight friends for dinner, so I am slowly getting back into it. I get so much energy from planning, cooking and executing. I love the rush of being with other people. Here at the pictures from the YAD Shabbat Connection party at my house.

Lisa told me that I need to stop cleaning up while people are still around, but with the layout of the kitchen its really tough not to do a little cleaning up or else everyone is looking at piles of food and plates after dinner. So Friday was a smashing success. Dalya, Robin and Jason helped to clean up – thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it.

Saturday morning early Brooke called and reminded me that we were hiking Torrey Pines with two of her girlfriends. So 9:30 we met at the Lodge and hiked together for about an hour. I called Robin to see where he was going to be watching the Rugby World Cup 2007 – The Blarney Stone at noon. Perfect, just enough time to get home, shower and head over there.

The place was packed, chock full of Expats from Ireland, England and of course South Africa. The place holds about 90 people and there was this energy in the room the whole time. Perhaps it had something to do with South Africa being in the lead from the beginning but what an experience. Robin is from the UK, so being in a group of South Africans with him cheering for his team is always entertaining. Our Rugby World Cup Blarney Stone pictures.

After the world cup game, I headed home to get ready for one of the biggest blowout Halloween bashes of the year. It was the
SEO, Inc Halloween Bash hosted by Garry the CEO of Seo Inc. The party started at 8pm and I left at just before 6am and there were still people partying when I left. With a clean shaved head, it is amazing the number of great costumes that are available to you. For this party I choose to go as the Devil himself. Red painted skull and attached horns. Man it was fun.

Garry is well known for his Absynth and cigar collection, and believe me he pulled out all the stops. He really knows how to party.

They Might Be Giants – San Diego

Last night I went to the TMBG Show at the House of Blues and it was absolutely fantastic.  The old faithfuls like Istanbul (Not Constantinople), Anna Ng, Birdhouse In Your Soul and a handful of new tracks.  I grew up with these guys and their off beat lyrics. So seeing them was blast.  The show was everything I could have wanted. 

The venue is small enough to feel connected and these guys really know how to take charge of the stage and the whole theatre.


These guys really do rock, they know how to hold the crowd and stay engaged with everyone.  They took the stage at a few minutes after 9pm, with very little fuss and no typical band BS.  They were very enthusiastic and energetic and constantly worked the crowd.  These guys are professionals that have done this before, you can just see how much they love what they do. 

Most people, including myself were a little out of touch with their new music but the old faithfuls caused the walls to shake.  It was amazing.  I was able to capture some video of the show but the best was their grand finale, Particle Man.
Here is my video, you can see me at the last few seconds of the video with a my buddy Micah.

A Purpose Worthy of My Life

The purpose that my life is for is to create a connected world where everyone feels love, connectedness and is actively united by participating in their communities.

The values that are at the heart of who I am are:

Integrity, communication, clarity and unwavering dedication.

Integrity means that I value my word as my bond. What I create through speech has the power to move mountains and change the world. I am at the source of transformation and connection.

Communication means saying what is so. A free exchange of ideas without a story, the most primal and host conversation are possible when the truth sets you free.

Clarity is the understanding of the goal and the ability to see the forest for the trees. The power to ignore the perfunctory machinery of life and focus on the choices that are made to meet the goals of life.

Unwaivering Dedication is the knowledge that the commitment is as important as the goal. The proverbial “Rome was not built in a day??? attitude. The understanding that transformation requires commitment and commitment comes from within. The ability to go without for now while keeping eyes on the road.

What I can be counted on for is: To live a fully expressed and powerful life, while connecting and creating communities where ever I can. I can be counted on having the dedication to keep reaching for my goals while exceeding expectations.

Men still go for looks, women for wealth

There is a new study that was published about the preferences of the modern day single. They state that “the results suggest that modern-day singles, like generations of their ancestors, are driven by biology with men seeking the best specimens to procreate with, and women seeking the best long-term partners.”

How much did they spend on this study? As a modern single person I could have told them this a long time ago, men like beautiful woman and women like men who will be protective and a provider. Pretty simple stuff here.

The funniest thing that I read was the application of a pre-speed dating questionnaire, where most people said that they were looking for a mirror image of themselves. Someone that they could connect with. BS, I have read Malcolm Gladwells position on speed dating and it ties into this revelation quite nicely. No matter what you respond to in the pre-dating questions, the reality is quite different.

“There’s this disparity between what people say they want in a mate and what they end up choosing” but then again, we know this already.

I prefer speed dating to online dating, less BS and good or bad, you get to make those little snap judgments in the Blink of an eye. In my opinion speed dating is the most honest way meet people, other than a chance encounter.

You can read the original article here.

Patience is a virtue, virtue is a grace, and Grace is a little girl who didn’t wash her face!

For those of you that thought that petty communications would slow down after you break up are just plain wrong. As part of the divorce agreement, and as standard practice you need to change your IRA’s, 401K’s and life insurance policies so that your ex-spouse is no longer listed as the primary beneficiary.

Seems pretty simple right? You get the paperwork, standard forms from the insurance company and brokerage house nothing but and acknowledgment that they are no longer the beneficiary. With review time and a little bit of stalling, what should it take – a day or two to sign?

I am now going on over a week and a half…oh well. Everything in its time.