Month: April 2020

Apr 29 2020

Times Like These

‘Nuff said.

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Apr 28 2020

Run A Virtual 5k With Me On Sunday May 3rd

The Second Wind Fund of Boulder County is hosting a Virtual 5k run on Sunday.

Second Wind Fund of Boulder County has a mission to decrease the incidence of suicide in children and youth by removing the financial and social barriers to treatment.

We are dealing with three crises right now: health, financial, and mental health. The first two are getting most of the attention, but I anticipate an increasing societal focus on the third, which results from the first two.

Amy and I are supporting a number of organizations doing things around mental health. I especially like supporting events like the Virtual Emerge Family 5k since they combine a bunch of things:

  • Financial support for a non-profit addressing mental health issues – in this case raising money to prevent youth suicide
  • Physical exercise in a virtual event that we can participate in – separately and together
  • Something different over the weekend that resembles something I might have done in the non-Covid world, but adapted for the Covid world

I haven’t been running much lately so I’ll use this week to train for my first 5k in a while. Join me!

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Apr 27 2020

The Disorientation of Exiting Phase 1

We are starting to exit phase 1 of the Covid Crisis in the United States. If you find the whole thing extremely disorienting, you have my empathy.

In mid-April, I was getting used to the Stay at Home mode. I’d joke about how I was made for this and was never leaving my house again.

Last weekend I took a digital sabbath and woke up feeling energized on Monday. By Wednesday there was talk everywhere about opening things back up in various parts of the country. I struggled with this based on what I knew and was relieved when, at least in Colorado, I realized that it wasn’t really opening things up but rather relaxing some of the constraints that existed.

But the narrative is complicated. It’s made worse by the contrast of getting used to the existing Stay at Home mode with the uncertainty around relaxing some of the constraints. For me, this was made amplified by the intense pressure in some of the discussions I had, as many people were scared, frustrated, confused, anxious, and uncertain.

I was exhausted Thursday at the end of the day and went to bed at 6:30pm. I slept soundly until 7:00am Friday morning. I didn’t really feel any better when I woke up. As I meditated, I realized I was anxious about a cough I had, and even though it was probably springtime allergies, my brain kept going to Covid. My back was hurting again, which was probably a result of sitting in front of my computer or in my Zoom room for 12 hours a day. My brain was tired from the week, but as I meditated, I kept coming back to feelings of fear and discomfort.

I focused on work throughout the day and planned to take a digital sabbath on Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I saw two meetings had appeared on my calendar. It was a beautiful day, but I decided to work. As Amy slept, I did the dishes, started my laundry from the week, and worked through what felt like an infinite pile of email.

At dinner time, Amy looked at me and told me I needed to take a break. She was unyielding and correct. We talked some and I started to realize that I was scared about the shift away from Stay at Home. All of my underlying frustration was really fear. The more we talked, the more I realized how disoriented I was feeling. While I was relieved that Denver County and Boulder County had extended the Stay at Home order until May 8th, I was agitated that Weld County had not, and I was complaining about Californian’s on the beach ignoring the social distancing requirements.

Amy told me I was taking Sunday off.

I took my digital sabbath on Sunday. I meditated in the hot tub and listened to the birds. I read. I called my mom and caught up. I took a long afternoon nap. I did my weekly Zoom social call with Will, Warren, and Dave. I watched the Series Finale of Homeland. I went to bed early.

I woke up this morning realizing that the anxiety I felt building up last week was simply disorientation related to fatigue, fear, and uncertainty around change. While I try to deny and power through this, I recognize that I’m in a much better, or more privileged, or safer, or pick whatever phrase you want that signifies “easier” position to deal with this situation than many. But the weight of it still, well, weighs on me.

As the birds start waking up this morning, and the sky starts to lighten, I choose to embrace a new day. And simply begin again.

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Apr 23 2020

Names Matter: Exposure Alerting vs. Digital Contact Tracing

Most people, unless you work either for government or an infectious disease “organization” (non-profit, hospital, health care system) probably had not heard the phrase “contact tracing” until a month or so ago.

I now hear and see the phrase “contact tracing” everywhere.

About a month ago, as I started working on Covid-related stuff, the phrase came up regularly on the private side as a partial solution to the problem of “opening things back up.” It was often phrased as “it will be hard to open anything up until we have enough testing and contact tracing.”

For about a week, I couldn’t figure out why many of the people I was interacting with seemed to dismiss my ideas and concerns about contact tracing. Then, in a conversation, someone in government explained what the government’s historical view of contact tracing was, which is a well-defined and regularly executed completely manual process.

A giant lightbulb went off in my brain as I realized two things were happening. A bunch of people who were hearing the phrase “contact tracing” figured “yup – we’ve got that under control” (meaning they already had a manual contact tracing effort in place or about to be launched). The rest were thinking “the tech people want to automate and digitize the manual contact tracing activity – that’ll never work and it’ll create huge security and data privacy issues.”

So, I, along with everyone I am working with, started calling it “Digital Contact Tracing.” That helped some, especially as we described its relationship to Manual Contact Tracing. But, there was still too much explanation of Manual Contact Tracing vs. Digital Contact Tracing. And, confused continued to abound.

The phrase “Digital Contact Tracing” started evolving. The ACLU wrote a great white paper titled Principles for Technology-Assisted-Contact-Tracing which generated a clever acronym (TACT). I also saw the phrase “Digital Contact Tracing and Alerting” being used.

Yesterday, Harper Reed put up a short post titled Digital Contact Tracing and Alerting vs Exposure Alerting that lays out the history of the concept and renames it “Exposure Alerting.”

Exposure Alerting is the correct phrase for Digital Contact Tracing. It is clearly additive to Manual Contact Tracing (or simply Contact Tracing as most of the non-technical world refers to it.)

So, from here on out, I think we should call this activity Exposure Alerting. I think we would have saved a lot of time and energy if we had come up with the right name from the beginning. But, since this is going to be with us for a very long time, let’s start now.

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Apr 22 2020

Entrepreneurs Are More Important Than Ever

A wave of entrepreneurship around the world was unleashed coming out of the Global Financial crisis in 2010. Today, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are more important than ever.

Techstars has been extremely active around content, community, and engagement around how entrepreneurs can help with Covid-19 as well as how they can navigate the challenges to their business. Some things that are coming up include:

Techstars has also created and is regularly updating a COVID-19 Resource Guide with the following categories:

  • Upcoming Online Events
  • General Advice
  • Techstars Portfolio Companies
  • Accelerator Program Updates
  • Community Program Updates
  • Crowdsourcing Solutions
  • Fundraising
  • Legal
  • Tech
  • Talent
  • Business
  • Real Estate
  • Remote Work
  • Parenting
  • Mental Health

It’s awesome to see the engagement around the world from entrepreneurs who are working tirelessly to help us navigate the Covid crisis and the new realities we are all facing.

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Apr 17 2020

Make4Covid Is Having An Impact In Colorado

Make4Covid is a new Colorado-based volunteer organization of makers working on making stuff related to the Covid crisis. They were started 26 days ago, have 2023 community volunteers, are working with 105 organizations, and have delivered 14,335 pieces of PPE as of this morning.

I’ve been in the Slack channel from inception and it’s just amazing to see what they’ve done. It’s an awesome example of the intersection of volunteers, 3D printing, makers, and a bunch of people motivated to help their fellow Coloradans in a crisis.

I’ve tried to do my part to connect them where I could, so hopefully I’ve been a little bit helpful. Amy and I – through our Anchor Point Foundation – just made a meaningful contribution.

Please consider joining us and making a donation to Make4Covid.

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Apr 16 2020

Leadership is Pulling Together, Not Tearing Apart

Our Colorado governor, Jared Polis, displayed an amazing act of leadership in his response to what I consider a question posed in an extreme and divisive way yesterday.

The question asked was:

We are hearing a lot of reports around here … about neighbors reporting on other neighbors for not following the orders … rebellion out here against your orders which have been called tyrannical, against local health department orders being equated to Naziism. How do you react to that? What do you say to those people who are clearly getting frustrated with this stay at home order?

I thought Jared’s response was incredible. It included:

As a Jewish American who lost family in the holocaust, I’m offended by any comparison to Naziism. We act to save lives. The exact opposite of the slaughter of six million Jews and many gypsies and Catholics and gays and lesbians and Russians and so many others.

Ok. Pause and consider that for a moment. When you watch the video (which I hope you do), pay attention to Jared’s behavior as he starts to lose his composure, but then regains it.

He follows with:

It’s not a contest to see what you can get away with. It’s a contest to see how well you can stay at home. By not staying at home, by having parties, by congregating, you are not sticking it to the government. You are not sticking it to Jared Polis. You are sticking it to yourself because you are putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy and you are prolonging the economic pain and difficulties your fellow Coloradans face.

He finishes with:

Now is the time for us to act with unity, to act together, to do the best that we can …

This is leadership in the time of crisis. This is how I want my leaders to lead and to react to challenging questions, divisive and ad-hominem attacks, and analogies to things that are personally offensive.

Notice that in the midst of a question that clearly provoked an emotional reaction, Jared answered the question incredibly clearly with a positive, thoughtful, and unifying, rather than divisive and hostile, response.

Jared – thank you for your amazing leadership in this crisis. Fellow Coloradans, let’s all pull together in this crisis, no matter what.

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Apr 14 2020

Taking Care of 2 Million Essential Ears with Glowforge

We are all looking for ways to help during the COVID crisis. The most important thing most of us can do is simple: stay home. Taking social distancing seriously is our best collective measure against the pandemic right now.

But we need to help the people who can’t stay home.

Glowforge has launched the 2 Million Essential Ears initiative. The goal is to print 1 million Ear Savers on Glowforge printers across the US and get them for free to the essential workers who need them.

An Ear Saver is a small adapter that prints in less than a minute. It lets a front line worker attach their mask comfortably and safely. The hooks let the wearer use a mask of almost any size, which is important when not every sized mask is available to every worker. Fit is crucial for forming a safe seal on a surgical or N95 mask, and the Ear Saver makes a correct fit much easier.

With essential workers spending entire days wearing their masks, the elastic straps can cause discomfort which can lead to painful ear damage. The ear straps take this pressure off of the ears of the wearer.

If you have a Glowforge printer, join the Ear Saver printing team now.

Or, go register to get some free Ear Savers if you need them for yourself, those taking care of you, or those in your community.

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Apr 13 2020

My Mother’s Prom – 1959

It’s another Monday in the time of Covid. Recently my family had an email exchange about prom and it reminded me of the following scene from Contagion.

This morning, my mom (the artist) reminded me about her email and suggested I start the week off with something joyful. So, I thought I’d write about her prom with pictures from 1959. Her email is in italics below.

SRemember when we talked about “Prom” and you said it wasn’t a big deal in Boulder and I said it was definitely a big deal in New York back in the ’50s and 60’s.

I found these pictures of Prom 1959. There were two proms that June, one from my high school (Music and Art) and one from Grandpa’s college (Columbia). I was a senior in high school and GP was a senior in college. I told you I had two fancy dresses. We think the color picture is from the Columbia prom and the black and white from M&A. My strapless (!) dress was actually a pale blue which looks white in the b&w photo. It looks like I am wearing a tiara in the color picture. Fancy, schmancy! Notice the high heels and corsage. GP with hair! 

I was minus six years old, which is kind of mind-bending to consider since that was over 60 years ago.

Mom / Dad – y’all both look awesome in these photos. Awesome, and super-duper happy. And, Dad, you had hair!

I hope this helped start your Monday off with a smile.

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Apr 12 2020

Digital Sabbath in the Time of Covid

I usually do a digital sabbath from Friday sundown to Sunday morning. No email. No meetings (except urgent ones). I used to do no phone, but the text dynamic to coordinate getting together has made that difficult (even in the world of Covid) so I check the lock screen on my phone a few times a day and deal with anything important.

Until yesterday, I hadn’t had a digital sabbath since 3/14. I also hadn’t had a day off since 3/14.

Friday night I crashed. My last call ended around 6:20 pm. My inbox was still full of stuff, but I had no energy to even look at it. We had a Zoom dinner with Ryan and Katherine, although it didn’t involve food since they eat late and I blew it by not being ready for dinner until three minutes before dinner was supposed to start … After dinner, Amy and I went downstairs and watched a little more Hunters, which I think we’ve decided to stop watching after episode two.

We went to bed around 10 pm. When we crawled into bed, I committed to Amy to have a digital sabbath. I knew she was worried about me and I hit a self-aware point that I was on the edge of good vs. not good emotionally and physically.

I woke up around 10 am. I had a strong green recovery score on my Whoop for the first time in a while (I’ve had plenty of red, some yellow, and an occasional green, but never very strong …). I went to the bathroom, meditated, and had a cup of coffee on the couch with Amy.

I then went for a run. I’m very out of shape relative to my norm because of a January back injury (muscle) combined with no consistency in exercise the last month. That ended a week ago as I started running again with some swimming tossed in.

I then ate a little and finished reading Facebook: The Inside Story by Stephen Levy which I had started on March 8th. I hadn’t opened a book since mid-March and as I read the second half of it, I realized I wasn’t very interested in it.

I then broke digital sabbath and did a Zoom call that I noticed showed up on my Zoom Room calendar. I’m glad I did it as it helped resolve some outstanding issues on a project that is launching this upcoming week.

I read a little more (Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different by Chuck Palahniuk), had some leftovers (thanks Amy for cooking so much!) and then went downstairs and watched 93 Days.

I was in bed by 9:30 pm. When I woke up this morning, I felt very refreshed.

Digital sabbath will simply begin again for me.

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