Author Archives: frizille

Post-Thanksgiving Update

Today’s a lazy post-Thanksgiving Saturday – turkey left overs & the Michigan / Ohio State game on the TV. Haven’t got the TV in the garage hooked up yet so rather than spend time on insulation and drywalling I’ve been doing some research on the ipad reclined on the couch; watching youtube vids of Ford Duratec builds, reading threads on, and searching ebay looking for a motor. Lots of progress:

  • Logged into and my profile was granted access to the owners manual, build manual, supplements, and price lists. I don’t think I mentioned it, but when I signed up several weeks ago it wanted me to provide owner information which I didn’t have. Someone at Caterham must have pushed a button which indicates I really do have a bunch of car parts being built and packaged over there (!!). Pulled down copies of the PDF’s; ver 05.2012 with 221 pages, and so far have been pretty impressed with it. Easy to follow directions, good pictures, and schematics for most of the major components. Feeling a little more comfortable with the “zomg I’m building a car” feeling.
  • Found an awesome black and white picture in the manual; copied and linked screenshot below.
  • Managed to locate a motor. There’s a used automotive parts distributor in Fairburn, about 30 miles south of me. Will have to find a weekday to head down there and see what they got in stock, but based on their ebay listings they’ve got a good supply of Ford 2.0L Duratecs with the right 8th digit VIN (“N”).
  • Pulled down a tool list off Copy and pasted into a Excel sheet – will need to go through the list this week and start acquiring tools. I know I’ve got most, but some things I don’t and will need to acquire (rivet gun, 200lb torque wrench, engine hoist, etc.). Good thing Christmas is coming up… (mom, hint, hint).
  • Got a reply from Jon at Caterham USA regarding the gearbox. I’d sent him an email on Friday trying to find out if they had gearboxes in the US already he could sell me since Caterham UK seemed to have them on back order. Unfortunately, I have to order through the UK apparatus, but the good news is they are always listed as being on back order on the Caterham UK parts website. Jon gave me the number for a contact there; will call the UK on Monday to get the gearbox ordered.

Unrelated news, I spent an hour and a half in my office this morning organizing a 5-year old stack of paperwork on my shelf and found my original Lotus invoices for the Elise and the Exige. Once I get the Caterham paperwork may need to frame all three and put them up somewhere.

Now the picture I mentioned above:


It’s a government project

Today I received the invoice for the build. Like renovating the kitchen in my old house, my last major project where I was over budget by almost double, I’m on par here too. I’m 25% over budget and haven’t purchased the motor or the gearbox yet. Which is understandable. If someone made you pick between the upgraded brakes, the limited slip differential, the wide track suspension, the wheels you want, or the paint color you’re absolutely in love with you’d probably just do the same thing I did. What’s that saying? For everything in life there’s Visa?


Mechanic’s Coveralls

It’s about 2am and I can’t stop reading build blogs looking for those little hidden nuggets of knowledge that will make this project successful. I’m starting to get nervous about this grand adventure – like any project, I’m already about ten grand over my budget. And I don’t even have anything tangible yet. But anything worth doing is worth doing the way you want it and of course I just have to be the first kid on my block with a car that’ll make grown men weep and women ask why in god’s name it doesn’t have an air conditioner, a radio, or a windshield.

Anyway, so I was reading these build blogs and found this one blog from a group of kids in the UK. Apparently they have some kind of charity project for high school kids to build a Caterham; that’s cool stuff. The build blog was scant on details, but what I found awesome in there was a picture of the coveralls the kids got – it had their name and the Super 7 logo embroidered on the breast pocket!

Like I said, I was searching for hidden gems… so yeah… I just sent 2 sets of mechanics coveralls off to the embroidery place. Frye’s Garage does have a certain ring to it. :)


I have a manual … of sorts

I stumbled onto a blog site and managed to find an older copy of the Caterham build manual. It’s a decade old, so won’t match my revision, but reading it has been helpful to grasp the scale of this project. As I was reading through it kind of hit me … “holy shit, I’m building a car”. Like… holy shit. A little in awe, a lot worried I’m gonna break something important (read that as expensive), but ehhhh… it’ll all come together in the end. Putting this thing together isn’t a race… it’s more like an experience. So with that in mind, my goal isn’t just to build the car, but to document the experience of it.

I was talking to one of the guys I work with a couple days ago and he mentioned he’d love to be able to watch the project remotely as it all comes together so I needed to take lots of pictures. I promised him I would and I guess that’s kind of the point to the build blog. It transforms one man’s journey into a spectator sport comprised of 99% men. Kind of like car racing.

Sometime in October

Car is ordered and now … we wait. Patience is hard. I have none. I spend my idle time clearing out garbage from the garage, playing the stock market to buffer my cost overruns I know are coming, and googling “Caterham build blog” about twice a week. I’ve read most of them on the internet in some fashion.

Late at night, when I think everyone is asleep, I pull out my iPad and just stare at pictures of them. I’m turning into a narcissist.


Deposit is in!

Today is the day! I sent the check, receipt confirmed, and I’ve now got a deposit on a build slot in December 2013 with delivery sometime in early 2014. Final build is:

  • Ford 2.0L Duratec (~175 HP)
  • Limited slip differential
  • Standard S3 chassis
  • Ventilated front discs & quad piston calipers
  • 15” wheels / Avon CR500 tyres 7”f + 7”r including superlight suspension
  • Weather equipment & carbon interchangeable aeroscreen
  • Black Pack
  • Black aero filler cap
  • Spare wheel & carrier
  • Push button start
  • 12 volt power socket
  • Trackday rollover bar
  • Race harnesses

And then there’s the paint. Caterham F1 green with a yellow noseband and bonnet stripe. Looks kinda like this …

All-in-all I know I overspent. But I figure if you’re going to the trouble of actually building a car then by god I’m going to build the one I want!

The first time I saw a Caterham

When you talk to a guy he can always tell you the first time he saw the love of his life. He may deny it, but there’s an indelible visual memory etched somewhere in his brain he’ll never let go of. Usually they look back on that image with a sense of fondness when they think about her.

The first time I saw a Caterham was in May 2008 at a 350Z-centric track day. This low slung, flat grey pencil was bumping its way down the hot pits after coming in from the parade lap. It pains me to admit it, but at the time my first thought was one of disinterest. Here I was surrounded by all kinds of mod’d 350′s and this flat grey albatross was just one of the miscellaneous cars in the ‘other’ run group. It wasn’t sleek or sexy or turbo charged. It was just this striped down metal Twinkie one of the instructors rode on the weekends. It’s not like you’d actually commute or take a road trip in it; it had no heater, no air conditioning, no radio, no spare tire.

Holy shit was I naive.

A Christmas memory crammed in an envelope of white

I love the holidays. I love the snow, the music, the trees, the lights, and the cathartic nature of it all. Like any quality play, the Christmas season starts with a sense of foreboding, the tiny little flurry of activity which makes up Halloween. The trees glow in their hues of red, orange, and brown. Tides of change float in the air. Then comes Thanksgiving, which is nothing more than an exhibition game for the year’s festivities.

But the true Christmas holiday season starts the following morning on Black Friday. Love it or hate it, the exhilaration or sheer dumbfoundedness of that morning sets the stage for the largest economic period of the year for any country’s GDP. On top of pure shopping bliss (yes, that was satire), we come away from Thanksgiving with an ever-populated agenda. Holiday parties for work, scheduling gift exchanges with friends, meeting for a holiday drink… all of these things begin to spring up and before you know it you’ve missed the entire season trying so hard to experience it. A friend once said to me about dating, “You’re like a little boy at a pond trying to catch a frog. You chase them all around trying to swoop one up in your net and get nowhere. But if you just sat on the ground and enjoyed the moment one would jump right into your lap.” He was both right and wrong with that statement, but that’s for a different post.

That same comparison is apt for the holidays too. Every year I try to find one weekend where I do nothing and just relax; just allow myself to feel the season around me in whatever way strikes my fancy – and I’m seldom successful. It could be a Christmas show at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a trip to Callaway Gardens to see the lights, or even just a night making homemade hot apple cider and cooking a delectable tray of coronary delights.

Perhaps the reason I love the Christmas season so much is I have a big heart. Many people have told me my capacity for compassion sometimes holds no bounds – almost to a fault. Just before Christmas, when I was younger, maybe 10 or 11 years old, my mom took my brother and I to an indoor soccer game downtown at the Omni. As we were leaving the stadium sitting snug and warm in our car, coats, gloves, and hats strewn amongst us like toys discarded by an impatient 3 year old, I looked out the window and saw a group of people standing around a rust-beaten metal barrel containing a barely burning fire. I don’t remember exactly what I asked my mom, but she replied, “… because those people don’t have any homes”. Later that night, long after we had been put to bed, my mom came to check my brother and I before she went to bed. As she poked her head into the room, she caught a gentle whimper that had escaped my lips. I remember her walking closer and sitting on the edge of the bed and she said to me, “Daniel… what’s wrong honey?” I looked at her, my pillow and cheeks a tear splattered mess, and quite simply said, “I’m crying for those people who don’t have homes.”

As I’m sitting here, warm and cozy under a six inch thick down comforter on a twin bed in my 10×10 cell of a room in 1 degree Fahrenheit Oslo, Norway, I’m reminded of yet another Christmas memory. When high school ended most of my friends went their separate ways. One friend in particular, my only real female friend in high school, had gone into the Navy. There she was stationed in Washington D.C. as part of the honor guard at Arlington. She and I would chat occasionally, every few weeks or so, and during one of those chats she mentioned how disappointed she was that she couldn’t come home for Christmas and this was the first Christmas she wouldn’t be home with her family. As the holidays continued to wind their way into the cathartic culmination of Christmas my friend grew more and more frustrated she was not going to be able to come home; she just did not have money for a plane ticket and her parents didn’t have it either.

You can guess where this is going…

Then one morning, about four or five days before Christmas, I talked to my dad and asked if he had any frequent flyer miles I could maybe use for a ticket. He asked where I wanted to go, and I explained I really didn’t want to go anywhere, but really would like to get Kristin home to be with her family. My dad said he would look into it and that was that.

About a day or so later, my dad said he had enough points for a ticket but that due to the short time we had to get the ticket it would be a $125 fee for the last minute booking. So I said no problem, I think Kristin can make that work and promised I’d get him the $125 when she got here. So I called her and told her my dad had a free ticket that I could use to get her here if she was really serious about coming home. She was so excited I was afraid she’d pee herself. I’m still very glad to this day she didn’t.

So the next day, now only two days before Christmas, I was in the car with my dad en-route to the Fed Ex store to get the frequent flyer ticket in my hands sent to Kristin in a priority overnight envelope. Note – for someone never in the service, much to my regret, understanding the military postal nomenclature is a challenge.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, shortly after 9am, the Fed Ex package arrived and off Kristin went to the airport – her flight was literally that afternoon. A few short hours later I was at the C concourse in Hartsfield Airport laughing softly to myself as a smiling, tall, crazy blonde girl waved her arms erratically as she rushed through the airport terminal to hug me (this was back when you could go right to the gate to meet your party; things are much different now). As she came toward me I can’t describe to you how happy she was in that moment; in a pang of retrospective selfishness I have to say I was proud of myself for orchestrating and leading this ‘miracle’ to success.

After picking her up at the airport I took her over to her parents house and parked a little way down the street; her arrival was supposed to be a surprise. I helped her get the luggage out of the car, wished her a Merry Christmas, and then watched as she walked through the yard and knocked on the front door. When her mom opened it she just stood there in disbelief. Here was her daughter, completely unexpected; it was as if a ‘miracle’ had been granted or teleportation invented. It disheartens me slightly to acknowledge teleportation is not yet a reality. Mother and daughter hugged, and cried, and as I pulled away I saw them holding each other tightly.

That is one of my favorite Christmas memories and I will always carry it with me no matter what happens in my life. That is what the season is supposed to be about. It’s hard to remember sometimes. We get caught up in our own world of parties, shopping, expectations… we lose meaning in the season. One thing you might be asking yourself if you were paying attention… that $125 thing… I told her it was free, I told my dad the money was from her. In reality I paid it, but didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. What I wanted was my friend home with her family without any sense of obligation to myself other than a hug and a thank you.

Along the same lines of a heart warming Christmas story, this past week a friend sent me one of those chain stories that makes you all teary-eyed go “awww…” at the end. In this particular story a man has cancer, so he puts a white envelope on the tree branches with a note listing the ways he has donated to cancer victims instead of buying gifts to other people. After this man dies from cancer his wife and daughters continue on the tradition. You may have seen this story already; it’s been covered numerous times in both print and online media. In fact, my brother and I did this several years ago. We each donated $100 to a charity of our own choosing instead of getting each other presents – I’ll do the same this year for him.

Shortly after that email, I got an email from my mom which had a link to a blog from someone she knew. She said I should read the post about what this guy was doing for his back pain. I read it, was nothing I hadn’t seen before, but I continued to read the rest of it too…and my misting eyes turned into clear, salty droplets of compassion. It could be the steroids have caught up with me emotionally, I’ve been on a high dose of Prednisolone these past few weeks due to the pain in my back, or I could just be a giant vagina and I’m having my man period; we may never know, but as my psychology professor once said “if the question is either / or, the answer is usually both”.

As I read this man’s blog I couldn’t help but be consumed by a predisposition for compassion fueled by the outright optimism demonstrated by the words of this man and his wife. In summary – he and his wife had been battling a multiple myeloma (cancer) for many years; their architecture company was on the dregs of bankruptcy, but managing to scrape by while the man slowly recovered from such a devastating disease. The particular post I read mentioned all the people who had come to his aid to help make ends meet; when you’re spending $11,000 a month for medication life becomes … difficult.

In appreciation of all the things different organizations had done for him, the man and his wife are taking part in a charity event walking a 15K for the Leukimia Foundation. He did not think he’d be able to do the whole thing, but was making valiant effort training for it. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of connection with this man I’d never met; I can tell you all about getting ready for something like he’s doing and being much less than optimal medically. As with any charity event, Bob had pledged to raise a little bit of money so … yep… I went and got my wallet off the dresser and donated on the spot. And I think I got frostbite in the process – that floor was COLD!

Nobody asked me to donate; hell, I talked to my mom later that night on our first “you mean we can talk over the internet on the computer?!!?!?” chat and I didn’t even mention it. The amount I donated is immaterial; I was moved and so I said why not? I also made the donation anonymously; he’s never met me, never will, so why bother with a name? And besides, I didn’t do this to toot my own horn.

As I got done talking to my mom a thought occurred to me; maybe I could make a Christmas memory for this guy? Something that he thinks back on for the rest of his life and just is amazed at what coincidence and fate has wrought.

So with all that said, here’s what I’m asking everyone to do:

1)   Go to the following address,, and then click to donate to the team.

2)   Fill out all the fields they ask for, but then submit anonymously. In the message / description box just put in something that mentions the white envelope and a heart felt message from yourself. I don’t care how much you donate, it could be just $1 dollar, but I want to fill this guy’s inbox with supportive messages … from people he’s never met. To be clear, I’m not asking for donations of money, I’m asking for an anonymous donation to his spirit.

Imagine how good you’ll feel in a year from now, or five years from now, when you can think back about how cool it was to be part of something really neat that came out of nowhere to support someone you will never meet. And the best part, is you’re doing it for yourself too. See, what I figured out as I was writing this, is Christmas is about giving. The memories that you will keep with you forever are the ones where you brightened someone’s Christmas by giving, not by getting. Even when the thing you got was a jillion pieces of Lego, it is always better to give.

So with that said, I really hope you’ll take a couple minutes to donate a dollar or five to Bob. Let him be your cup of coffee today, let him be your white envelope this year. Everyone loves a white Christmas… make Bob’s white – not with snow, but with envelopes.

Merry Christmas… and to all a good night.


[ Editor's note: It wasn't until after I wrote this and showed it to my mom last night that she informed me of something profound. This guy, Bob Cain, before he got into architecture, used to be a race car driver and is a huge fan of the Lotus marquee. He never had the chance to own one, but championing this cause for him brings me untold joy as a fellow car and Lotus enthusiast. It's a small world... ]

Hei fra Norge!

Nine hours on a plane is a long time. About seven hours in my hip started to hurt, no surprise given I had trouble getting through the three hour movie the night before, so I squirmed around in my seat looking like a baby crankily stretching from a nap. Or the way I look when I get up from a nap. After landing in Amsterdam my first thought was how different everything was, yet how much the same it was. It was like ordering lasagna at a new restaurant so its new and unknown, yet its lasagna, and intimately familiar. I don’t know, this is my first time going to Europe so I could just be making shit up. Also, I had a hot meal on the plane – no fucking shit … it was Chicken Cordon Bleu. My hobby kit for one – Fight Club faithful will get the reference. What are the odds?

Amsterdam was brief, a 40 minute sprint from one flight to the next with an unmistakable pain in the ass checkpoint in the middle of the airport. Bear in mind I had been cleared through security in Atlanta, yet in Amsterdam got stopped and searched for having a water bottle in my bag – I mean, you can’t carry a bottle of water from the plane you arrived in on one side of the airport to the plane you’re boarding on the other. What the fuck, over? So that was a PITA. Especially since I had one sip out of it. Fuckers. I also managed to lose my travel adapter when they made me remove all my cables from my bag – oops. That would have some dear consequences later, which we’ll get to… later.

So going from Amsterdam I had an hour and a half flight to Oslo Godermoen Airport. My first impression that I’d left Kansas was when they gave the safety speech on how to get out of the aircraft, if we survived the impact, in Norwegian first and in English second. It’s a small thing but you’re used to hearing English first; trust me.

Upon landing in Oslo I noticed snow everywhere. The sun was just coming up… at 9:30 in the morning and the air had a gray palor to it. It looked cold. As I got off the plane I was greeted by a wall of arctic air. It was a palpable feeling across my body, like a shockwave from a low flying plane exceeding Mach 1. I was back in the terminal pretty fast. And the terminal was a windowed maze where corridors stretch into yet more glass corridors like those optical illusions with the stairs go both up and down and never end.

From there, I followed the herd of cattle (people) to baggage claim and then managed to find the information desk. I asked them how one might get to the Thon Splottskatarkengen hotel if one was an idiot foreigner trapped in the glass rat maze of an airport. Note – if you’ve ever been to the airport in Vancouver I swear they were designed and built by the same deranged mad man. The lady laughed at my colorful euphamisms; I don’t think she realized I was serious. So after a bit of dialog I ended up finding my way to the train terminal. There I was greeted by a less than helpful train agent and an automated ticket machine … with everything in Norwegian. After about 10 minutes I figured out which key was the ‘OK’ one and managed to buy a ticket. Let’s hear it for trial and error coupled with strict use of the scientific method; can I get a woot woot?

I hopped a deserted train for my 30 minute ride to Oz – the ‘Express Train’ is bad ass.  I would pay to ride that thing in a circle at home if it existed. It was like riding a rollercoaster with wheels made of Crisco, so smooth … and after conceptualizing MARTA in my memory I realize how far the US has to go to catch up to urban travel in Europe.

After the train comes the Death March. In the email I was sent with instructions on how to get to the hotel, the walk from the train station to the hotel was described as a “pleasant 10-15 minute stroll through downtown Oslo”. It was 11 degrees Fahrenheit when I landed in Oslo. It was 8 degrees when I got off the train. 8 degrees of arctic air is FUCKING COLD. Ohh, did I mention I was too lazily stubborn to pack my giant bulky, winter coat so I only have the Splunk wind proof / water proof thermal jacket I got for free while speaking at their user conference? And I have some gloves I bought from REI and my winter skull cap I bought at Phillips Arena – Let’s go Thrashers, Let’s go! So back to this coat thing… Splunk, thank you. Your coat kicks ass due to its impenetrable lightness of being therefore keeping me warm in 8 degree artic air. REI… fuck you. Your gloves suck. I’m throwing them out when I get home.

I set my stuff down and broke out my unexpectedly awesome coat, my shitty gloves, and my Thrashers hat after navigating the rat maze of subterranean concrete called a train station. I mean the only reason I found the surface was I followed the hot blonde in front of me like a stalker. If she walked faster, I walked faster. Note – it wasn’t until later that night that I found out Oslo has a serious rape problem. I’m sorry for scaring you little blonde girl with the cute ass, my bad. I’m a foreigner, I don’t know these things.

I’ve finally found the surface … and have no idea where I am. There are buildings all around and a frozen fountain in front of me. Momentary panic sets in – I’m in a foreign city, alone, I’m feeling the blood slowly freeze as it circulates within me, the hot blonde is nowhere to be found, and I already can’t feel my hands. So, I use my powers of sublime observation to focus my thoughts on deducing which way to go. My thoughts occur in this order:

  1. I’m in a former Soviet Bloc country. Every building looks like it is a former Soviet Bloc building. I’m looking around for a statue of Stalin. There are none I can see. (Editor’s note: Norway was not part of the Soviet Bloc. I’m a dumbass.)
  2. Whoever did the graphics for Ghost Recon absolutely got the building textures right. I seriously thought I was on the streets of ‘Embassy’ minus an M4. Every time I go outside I think about Ghost Recon. Weird how we build up these word associations in our mind.
  3. It’s fucking cold. While I’m thinking about video games my core temperature has dropped by 2 degrees.
  4. I pull out my phone and attempt to fire up the GPS. I have no data feed – I’m roaming at $19.99/MB. Yes, per megabyte. Fuck me. I enable roaming data. No signal. In the middle of the city I have no signal. Shut off roaming data.
  5. Go to backup option – the ‘Foreigners for Dummies’ paper map I picked up in the airport from the information desk. Nothing says I’m a lost tourist like a dude with luggage wandering around the streets with a 3 foot by 3 foot map in front of his face.
  6. I find the hotel on the map. It’s northwest. Which way is northwest? There are no street signs. I’m fucked… or am I… It’s about 10 AM. The sun is rising (yes, rising on the horizon at 10AM)… the sun rises in the east. So if I put the sun at my 4 o’clock the hotel should be at my 11 o’clock. So off we go on Frederk’s Gate. There are no roads here, they are called gates.
  7. I pass a group of girls walking down the street. They are all hot. All of them. Hot. Very hot. I notice this yet the fundamental light bulb has not turned on.
  8. I wander, using the sun as my guide, through the labyrinth of desolate Oslo city streets and alas… I find the hotel. I should have been a boy scout. I could totally have gotten my urban navigation badge. With honors bitches.

Now I get to the hotel, get checked in, and get to my room. A guy gets on the elevator with me who was outside smoking when I walked up to the hotel. I make a comment, in American English, about how he could smoke out there with it being so cold. He said, in unflawed Texas English, “Sheeit son, I was in Germany in the Cor’ an’ this ain’t no crap!”. So we chat, he’s from Texas, and an ex-marine. Ok, cool, I feel safe. He’s in IT. He asks if I’m single, I say yes. He looks at me and says this is a single man’s paradise. I ask why. He shrugs, laughs, and walks away. No lightbulb yet.

I get into the room and it is the size of a 10×10 cell. It is fucking TINY. But it’s also enamored with versatile solutions for modern living. Want to experience Norway? Go to Ikea, find one of the 200 sq. ft mock-apartments, then live there for a week. Congratulations, you’ve just stayed in the Thon Hotel Splottsparkentaken. Something cool – you have to put your key card into a slot near the door to turn on the power to the room – this saves energy when you leave. Very cool. Yay, for going green. Next was find the thermostat – there is none. The white plastic knob on the radiator behind the curtains underneath the window controls the only heat to the room. That discovery took 20 minutes. Thank god I grew up in 1980’s Detroit and my grandparents had a house built in the ‘30’s… with radiators in every room. That’s the only reason I knew to look for one. At one point I thought maybe the thermostat was controlled through the TV. I mean, it seemed logical at the time… 10 minutes of the 20 was trying to find the control software through the TV menu. Did not find the control center, but think they have an XSS somewhere in the menu system though. /shrug.

So then I napped. Not much to report there. I’d been up for 23 hours straight. No sleep on the plane – remember the leg thing?

When I got up I journeyed down for dinner. No restaurant or bar in the hotel. So I went to the reception desk and asked for some recommendations from the hot girl manning the front desk. Nope, no lightbulb yet. She recommended Tullin’s Café down the street so off I went.

It was a right at the end of the block, a right at the next street, a right after the bus stop and the next thing I know I’m back at the front door of the hotel. Seriously… what the fuck. It’s cold. Like 1 degree cold. No shit it was 1 degree. So I try this again. And I find it after the bus stop – language barrier. The bus stop is where the bus picks you up in the US… the bus stop in Norway is where all the buses stop. We’d call it a bus terminal, they call it a bus stop. I don’t know what they call a bus stop here. Who knew?

Let me describe Tullin’s. It’s brown leather, green and red paint, and poorly lit. Think Café Intermezzo and you’re 90% of the way there. And it’s warm and small with tables on top of tables. Warm and small in that way that makes you feel all kinds of cozy and want to strike up conversation with the hot girls at the table next to you. Nope, no lightbulb. The fact that I was starting to get feeling back in my hands seemed to indicate I should have a beer. Upon walking in I felt stupid standing at the door alone – do I wait to be seated or just go sit? The sign was written in Norwegian; it could say flap your arms like a chicken, turn in a circle four times, then jump up and down for a waitress to seat you and I wouldn’t know. After a couple minutes of me standing there anxiety was starting to settle in. I felt like every pretty girl in the place was looking at me, and I was a 165 lb buffoon foreigner standing in the door. Nope, no lightbulb yet. So I took the middle ground – I headed for the bar and got a Newcastle. A little something about the beer here – it’s fucking awesome. I can’t tell you how good something simple like a Newcastle is. Holy shit it was good.  So damn smooth and yummy. Mmmm… (editor’s note: I’m drinking one in Tullin’s right now as I write this).

After looking around the room, and inadvertently making eye contact with several really hot girls, I realized something. Every girl in the place was hot. Not like just really pretty, I mean like HOT. In shape, not a fat person in sight, all hot, all pretty in the face, all with little curves in the right place, and they all walk with this feminine sensuality where everything moves in right angles to everything else like they are propelled on some kind of invisible wave of sexual energy. And finally, the lightbulb. Scandinavian women are hot. Like everyone says how hot Swedish blondes are… well Norway has brunettes. And I love me some brunettes. This place is heaven. When I die I want to come here.

So anyway, back to Tullin’s. I wave down a waitress and corral a table. However, side note, I cashed out at the bar. The tab was 60 NOK. I tip 20%, or about 10 NOK. I don’t know how much money that is in dollars, but 20% is 20% right? So the bartender looks at me a little weird, takes the 10 NOK coin, and gives me this look again, then wanders away. It wasn’t until later that I learned you don’t tip here; it’s a cultural thing. Ooops. Foreigner for Dummies strikes again.

Now I’m sitting at my table, devouring a steaming plate of a moderately sized portion of Lasagne (yes, that’s spelled right, it’s Lasagna in Norwegian) and three people come sit down at the table next to me. An older gentleman, with a tinge of a Santa Clause air about him with a jolly smile and the laugh to match, another older gentleman wearing a humorous yet serious-always-processing kind of stature which I find immediately comforting since it reminds me of myself, and an older lady which for some reason I immediately see as someone possessing a carefree demeanor that’s belied by an intelligence that sits just slightly behind this extroverted smile. So the four of us begin talking and I learn they used to live in Atlanta and went to GA Tech. I mention I went there briefly and so we begin discussing Georgia, college, what brings us all to Norway and so on. The waitress comes over and we joke about running into other American people here and she makes the comment I’m welcome to join them at their table. So the older jolly gentleman says sure, come on over. So I head over and pull up a seat. And for the next several hours I sit there with the inventor of Citrix, his wife, and another co-conspirator at Citrix (employee number 3) and talk security, talk about how the moral degradation of society will prohibit the establishment of online privacy, we talk about startups, business ideas, I tell him about Fuzzdot and the work I’ve done with building relationship models for online data, and on and on and on. That was quite simply the best group of people I could ever have run into. And the fact I did it in Norway adds a sense of perfection to the entire experience. Such a fun night.

So with that meal complete, and the desire to get a little more rest in me, I head back to the hotel. A little time spent working and getting ready for the next day, cut short because I have no power adapter compatible with European electric plugs, and then a four hour nap interrupted by fits of tossing, turning, burning in my hip, and so on. Finally I break out the Percocet and pass into a fitful slumber.

That was the first day of my trip. Some lessons learned, some new friends made, and every bit of it was adventure spent fulfilling the discovery of lifelong memories. In closing I’ll leave you with my one overwhelming thought comprised of the two most important discoveries I made here in Norway…

Come to Norway!

Where the weather is cold,

but the women are hot.

Yes, I saved that up in my pre-pubescent brain the entire time I was writing this. Hei fra Norge!


Tears of Love

About this same time last year I wrote a story about a boy and girl in love. It’s the quintessential story we envision our lives to be; filled with love, children, happiness, and that little sliver of what makes us … us. It’s a Wednesday night and I can’t stop thinking about that story. I can’t stop thinking about it to the point that I have tears clinging to my eyelashes like dew on morning grass.

What’s brought me these tears, these tiny misting tears of happiness, is that there is a little blonde head, filled with hair, blocking my view of a cirque du soliel show. And as I sit here, craning my neck left and right, shifting in my seat so I can get a better view of the performance, her little blonde head keeps capturing my eyes and hence my thoughts. The thing is, last year that little blonde head was as smooth and hairless as the day she was born. Many people, myself included, were scared we might lose someone who brings joy to everyone around her. As the show goes on, that little blonde head bobbing and weaving in and out of my sight, I am amazed at how much the news of her cancer affected me just under 2 years ago. The fear, the concern, the ability to do … nothing. It wasn’t a problem I could solve; it was emasculating and on a very self-aware level understood I had been exposed to something that would forever change me and how I view the world.

So on that Wednesday night, July 25th, 2012, I let those feelings wash over me; as Morrie said “feel, and feel deeply”. It was a special night for a single reason … earlier that day she had been told her treatment was a success and she was cancer free. To someone who has lived under the fear of disease for years there is no greater joy you can experience than to hear you are cured.

Most of us can’t understand that feeling; so let’s try a thinking exercise instead:

Now do all those things then look me in the eye and tell me you’re going to be OK… and mean it.

I do not know how she has done it. I really don’t; I would have given up long ago and I can be exasperatingly stubborn at times. Despite all she had been through here she was, sitting in front of me, watching a cirque du soliel show with me. Through all that, she made it. She’s the bravest person I’ve ever met. And the kindest. When I woke up from my surgery, exactly three months ago to that day, you know who was there to greet me? Dana and my mom. I remember when they walked into the recovery room I burst into tears. I’ll lay claim that my mood was affected by the sedatives, the pain medication, and all the other wonderful accoutrement from the surgery but honestly, it was because I was scared. I was so happy to see a face I knew, someone who I knew was there for me, and when I think of Dana I will always think of someone who was there for me.

After the show ended that Wednesday night in the city of glitz and glamour, we all said our goodbyes, and I went off in search of a glass of wine at a piano bar; somewhere to sit down, sip a glass of wine, and ponder how I would convey this story to all the people who supported me when I walked with Dana last year in the 3-Day. That night in Vegas I went to bed happy.

Then one day later… the happiness ended. I got a text message sometime that next morning, I want to say it was about 11 o’clock or so, and when I read it my heart sunk.

I have had a few moments in my life when my brain just stops. Where it gets such a jolt that it feels like it needs a reboot just to get cognitive thought working again. Just last night I was reveling in the thought that my friend was here, safe, the cancer gone, and now this. And after my head cleared from her message I did the only thing I could think of – I got down on my knees at the edge of the bed and I said a prayer. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it wasn’t much of a prayer; it would be more honest for me to label it as a tirade. The message I sent God: “Why are you making this good, loving, caring person suffer? I’ve got my own struggles right now, and I’m willing to take on more pain myself, if you’d just kind of back off on Dana a bit you know? Let me have whatever pain, anguish, and struggle she has if it would spare her some.  Hasn’t she shown you she can be strong? Hasn’t she overcome enough?”. That might have been too blunt but I figure God is a busy guy and he’d appreciate me being direct and to the point.

Last year I hobbled 60 miles with an 8mm protrusion from a ruptured disc grinding against the sciatic nerve in my back like a hack saw (well, to be honest not quite 60 but I gave a damn good account of myself in my opinion) to support Dana. And as I walked I shared in the experiences of other women and at the end of it realized in my own little corner of the world there is Dana, but in the world at large there are many, many other people affected by breast cancer.

“I remember one lady I talked to – her younger sister became sick, was diagnosed with breast cancer, so the doctor recommended her other sisters get tested. The middle sister, the one I was walking with, tested negative. The older sister… tested positive. Within a year this lady had lost both of her sisters to breast cancer. “

And another.

“I noticed this lady limping along as I was. One of the other walkers, who was in good health, approached her and asked if she was alright. The limping lady responded by saying she was trying to make her way up to the top of the hill because her family, and most importantly her daughters, were waiting for her at the cheering station not far ahead. With an exasperated sigh, she commented on how important it was to show her daughters how to be strong, how to overcome challenges… how to live. And so the lady who was in good health grabbed the limping lady’s arm, draped it across her shoulders, and said to her “Girl, how about we get up this hill together?”

There are millions of other women with similar experiences. Just a couple weeks ago I was in Vancouver for business and a cute brunette waitress at dinner one night had a little pink ribbon tattoo on her ankle. I inquired about it and she told us the story of how she lost her aunt to breast cancer when she was 11. That’s a lifetime of love… lost.

After talking to the waitress, I realized maybe God did answer my prayers after all. Dana is still here. Dana is still struggling. And Dana is still walking. And I will still walk with her.

So that leads me to the point of this post – last year we raised over $4,000 in less than a day. I want to do the same this year, and to do that, I need your help. I had about 20 or so people donate to me last year and I am so grateful to them I wish there was a way to bundle this emotion of gratitude up and pass it back to them in a box with a little pink bow. I’m sure they felt it when they supported Dana and I, but I feel it times twenty – for those who didn’t donate last year, if you need a reference to describe it let me know – I’ll get you in touch with someone who gave me over a thousand dollars in a single donation and called me to tell me they were proud to know a man who would support a friend in need … and they’ll tell you what I’m telling you right now – it’s worth the money.

Now that you’ve read my tale I hope you feel something in your heart, and if you do, what I’m asking is this:

1)      If you donated last year, and wish to donate again this year, I won’t stop you – in fact I’ll be incredibly grateful – but what I really need is for you to send a link to this post out to your family, your friends, and help spread this message. Everyone is on social media now, this should be easy – Twitter this, Facebook this, spread the message. I mean, my Facebook wall is always covered with friends posting heart touching posts about saving animals and stuff; all I’m asking is you post a link to and tell your circle of friends you know this guy who’s passionate about saving boobs, and he needs their help.

Here’s the link to donate and here’s a music video to put you in the right frame of mind while you do it. Turn up the music and when people come by asking what that garish noise is, tell them what a great thing you did to support someone you don’t even know.

2)      If you didn’t donate last year because we had never met, or maybe because you couldn’t quite get over the burden of procrastination, then this is your chance to do something good … and if you’re a woman do it for yourself. Any amount helps. I’m pledging $500 like I did last year, and I’ll pay the entire $2300 out of my own pocket if I have to, so don’t feel obligated, just feel lazy.

Again, here’s the link to donate and here’s a music video to put you in the right frame of mind while you do it. Like I said, turn up the music, turn it all the way up, and when people come by asking what that garish noise is, tell them what a great thing you did to support someone you don’t even know.

So in closing, I have two last things to say:

  1. My message this year is much more emotional to me than last year; I guess maybe that’s because it’s been a long road and I just want her to get better and put all this behind us.
  2. Or maybe it’s because being single now makes me realize how precious a girls boobs are. So to all the male’s reading this … think boobs. And go get your wallet. Then give your wife, girlfriend, or daughter a kiss on the cheek and tell her what you did to save her… because there’s a one in eight chance you’ll be walking one day for her.