Surviving a Stroke: Recovery

Hello, Friends and Family,

Life can feel full of setbacks.  All very random and of varying degrees.  Not sure I would have predicted having a stroke in 2021 but it happened.  Setbacks can also be opportunities given the proper perspective.  Back when I was looking for my first job out of college, I was denied a job with a technology consulting company in the Washington D.C. area mostly because of a technicality in my application.  At the time, I was crushed mostly because I was still learning that “setbacks” were ok.  But soon after I got that rejection letter, I got invited to join a weekend of interviewing at a technology firm in San Francisco to which I accepted a job, found a group of amazingly smart technology friends that I am still friends today and of course, met my wife and mother of the my two beautiful girls. That rejection changed my life trajectory forever.  Opportunity.          

Setbacks are opportunities.  Opportunity for an alternate path.  Opportunity for growth.  Opportunity for learning.  Opportunity for motivation.  Opportunity for drive.  Opportunity for focus.  Opportunity for  humility.  Opportunity for empathy. 

And what gets you through the setbacks?  Perspective and hard work. 

My goal is to come back 125% from this stroke and use this moment as an opportunity for positive change.  My recovery has been going very well.  Recovering from anything brain related is a new experience for me.  I have never had an head injury before.  The brain seems to recover differently than other area of the body.  It needs rest, sleep, hydration, proper stimulation and all with the proper amount of time.  Through this process I’ve really wanted to test aspects of my brain like a program running self diagnostics on itself to see how things are “coming back online”.  How are my gross motor skills?  How are my fine motor skills?  How is my long term memory? How is my short terms memory?  How is my cognitive thinking?  How are my emotions?  How are my behaviors?  Has anything changed? 

In the hospital, I took the NIH Stroke Scale Assessment and a variation of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test numerous times.  One of the questions on the cognitive assessment test is being given 5 random words, committing them to memory and recalling them 5-10 minutes later.  This test was popularized when President Donald Trump said he “passed this test with flying colors” — his five words were “Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV” and they ended up being an internet sensation.     

My words were “Apple, Pen, Tie, Car,  House”.  I’ll never forget those words now.  As Sarah will tell you, I sometimes have a problem being “present in the moment” because we’re all self diagnosed with some form of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and then blame social media.  Well, at the time I was so paranoid about the test that I literally burned those words into my brain.  Now, I will  remember them forever.   At home, I find myself easing into physical and mental acuity drills just to see how sharp I am.  Secretly, I wonder if the new found brain blood circulation will unlock new comic book like brain super powers!  Nope.  That has not happened.  (yet)

While at the hospital I was provided these cool orange socks with “grippy” material at the bottom of them — clearly to prevent recreation of Tom Cruise’s scene from Risky Business.  Random unverified fact from the internet is that the sock colors you are given mean something.  Feels super logical but I’m not sure if its true. 

Red socks indicate allergies; orange means the patient is a potential flight risk, and purple signals “do not resuscitate.” Like a neon sign, the socks are bright cues to all hospital staff. It’s the yellow socks that scream the loudest, demanding the most attention. Patients wearing yellow socks have been identified as being most at risk of falling. And falls can easily lead to broken bones, head injuries, longer stays in the hospital, increased costs and liability, and in the most severe cases, death.


The orange socks meant that I was a flight risk!  Marked like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption.  Rest assured, I wasn’t planning to break out of my stay there. 

Being discharged was a glorious moment.  I appreciated every moment of my time in the hospital but it was time to go home.  My dad (who is an Endocrinologist) had warned me that patients can experience a “high” leaving the hospital but that will come down and may even experience a setback in their recovery when they get home.  He said to take it easy and not to jump back into things quickly.  Wise words.  I went home that day feeling great but then I actually fell down two stairs after everyone had gone to bed. I jumped up and laughed thinking to myself, “Whoa, it’s like I had a stroke or something.”  It was at that moment that realized I probably needed the time to heal and this was a very different injury that I had experienced before. I should have had my yellow socks on. They would have protected me.

Now, for some thanks. Holy smokes the support was overwhelming. Sarah was at my side all day long.  We joked it was the most dedicated time we spent without the kids in a long time!  Our new friends in Park City sent so much food and support.  All of our friends and family filled my phone with messages of support and offers to help.  My CEO and co-workers just told me to relax and heal. That part was very hard for me as a chronic workaholic but I needed all the healing time I think.   My old CrossFit box sent me a box of messages!  I couldn’t ask for anything more from my people.  Sarah and I are so grateful.

So, what am I doing during my downtime. Finally got the time to read Frank Herber’s Dune.  I’m a huge sci-fi fan and this had been in my reading list for a long time.  It did not disappoint and neither did the new movie for that matter. 

“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”

― Frank Herbert, Dune

Our dog is getting lots of walking. I’m easing myself into physical activity again.  I was scheduled to do a half-marathon in January but that probably isn’t going to happen.  I’ll be getting back at Park City Fit in January on a modified workout regimen.  The days of super heavy lifting is probably limited these days but my CrossFit friends would probably say I never lifted heavy anyway.  Haha. 

I’ve also been spending a lot of time trying to work my way through our medical system.  It seems that acute symptoms get immediate attention but those with moderate symptoms can get lost in the shuffle.  It took me close to a month to get a referral from one medical organization to another accepted and a doctor appointment scheduled.  It involved dozens of phone calls and offering to purchase a new fax machine that was involved in the process.  Yes, there is one actual fax machine that accepts all the referrals and it was broken for days.  I’m grateful for the medical system we have but there are aspects that ripe for innovation — and by innovation I mean stop using a friggin’ fax machine from 1985.  However, the bills got to me like butter on a hot piece of toast.

Checking … Apple, Pen, Tie, Car,  House … yup, still ok. 

Few things I’m keeping an eye out on —

  1. I’m keeping an eye out on is being hit by another stroke.  I have a much higher likelihood of having another stroke within the first three months of had one. 
  2. How the heck did this happen to me?  The doctors might never know. 

You might be asking yourself why am I being so open about having a stroke?  Well, I really do think that stroke awareness is a real thing.  I really didn’t know much about strokes before this or what to do when they happened. I just got lucky.  Folks need to know that strokes can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere.  Folks needs to know the symptoms and what to do when it happens.      

The other thing I’m committing to is raising and donating $10,000 to stroke research and awareness in 2022.  I’m not sure how yet because I want to find the right charity.  It might be that I start my own non-profit in 2022 that is focused on this but that will be for a future blog post. Stay tuned. 

I truly believe Sarah, my dad, my response and medical staff saved me from long term damage or even saved my life all together.   Will never forget Sarah telling, “Call your dad, you might be having a stroke.” 

Do I think being so open about having a stroke might impact if folks might look at me differently or my employability?  Whatever, if I can help one person be more aware of strokes then its worth it.  Don’t hire or invest in me.  You’ll regret it.    #125percent

Hope you found my post interesting! Comment or reach out!

Surviving a Stroke

Photo from my hospital bed in the Neurological ICU in Murray, Utah

Yup, I had a stroke.  Seriously. 

First, let me take a step back.  About ten years ago, I was about 60 pounds overweight and horribly out of shape.  I told myself that I wanted to be alive for when my girls got married so I went on this big health kick.  I started CrossFit, cut out carbs, cut back my drinking and just started being more healthy.  It worked.  I lost a ton of weight and was in the best shape of my life.  Fast forward today, I consider myself a healthy person. 

  • CrossFit 2-3 times a week
  • Jog 2-3 times a week
  • Training for a half marathon in January
  • Avid skier (35+ days last season)
  • New mountain biker
  • Lots of hikes and walks
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low cholesterol

But, it didn’t matter.   I still had a stroke.  Lesson learned, life is random as fuck. 

It all started out one Saturday morning in November.  I woke up like a normal Saturday but for some reason I had a peculiar headache.  A headache that just felt different.  So much so that I told Sarah, “Honey, I have a strange headache”.  Other than the passing observation, I didn’t think much of it.  I popped two Aleve and headed to CrossFit for my usual Saturday WOD.  It was a partner WOD and I ended up working out with a trainer visiting from Montana.  Super cool dude.  Not a noticeably hard workout but I had been pulling back heavier weights because of strain on my back and joints ahead of the ski season. 

Sunday.  I spend most of the day raking leaves in the yard and taking care of odds and ends.  That evening after we came back home from dinner I crouched down to tie my shoe and my left leg started to feel weird when I got up.  I’m pretty sure whatever was happening to my brain had started  that weekend. I just went to bed thinking I had pushed myself too hard with the yard work all day. 

Monday morning — I was supposed to go to the 5:15am CrossFit WOD like I usually do but I slept right through my alarm.  That’s was odd.  I got up a little later and reached for my phone like I usually do to check on things at work — my right hand and arm just didn’t feel right.  I could not scroll through notifications or type normally.  I kept having to shake my arm out thinking my arm was still asleep.  I got up thinking that it was a transitory issue — got the kids to the school bus and walked the dog.  I went for a jog afterwards since I didn’t make it to the gym.  My right arm felt like it was barely attached appendage on my body.  At that point, I knew something was going on.  Jumped in the shower and really got concerned when I couldn’t button my pants or put my watch on.  I went to reach for a bottle of baby aspirin in the kitchen and could not grip the bottle.  I called Sarah and told her something was up.  She asked me casually, “Could you be having a stroke?”.  How prescient.  I called my dad who is a doctor.  We ran through some basic stroke questions and recommended that I get to the emergency room as soon as possible.  Oh boy, here we go. 

Generally speaking, I tend to be a cool person during a crisis.  I have had to deal with that a lot as part of my job.  So, I was staying cool and could feel the adrenaline start to flow.  It was 9:30am at this point and I have a work meeting with my Vice Presidents to get the week going.  I jumped on the Zoom just to tell them that I was headed to the emergency room — I was shaking my right arm trying to get some feeling back.  Trying to click on my touch pad was like my arm was replaced with a whiffle ball bat.  I just didn’t have any control of it.   I told my staff and they immediately told me get off the Zoom and get going.  My team at work is the best and have been the best since I’ve been going through this.  More specifically, my CEO at work has been absolutely amazing through this.  Probably one of the best CEO’s I’ve had the opportunity to work for.   

Ok, bad decision time.  I went upstairs to grab my shoes.  I couldn’t tie my shoes so I tucked my laces into my socks.  Rather than call 911, I jumped into my car and drove myself to the hospital.  Dumb.  I should have called for an ambulance.  I didn’t have enough control in my right arm to effectively use the touch screen properly. In my head, if something bad happened, I would hit the autopilot button and the car would take me to the rest of the way and maybe I would be some poster boy for autonomous driving.  Haha.  Dumb.  But I did have enough control to find some Christmas music to play while I drove.  So, there I was cruising down the highway driving with my left arm, listening to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, shoe laces tucked into my socks like a homeless man and having a stroke.  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself that this is ridiculous. 

I made it the Park City Hospital Emergency Room.  Hazzah!  This part becomes a bit of blur because it went from listening to “White Christmas” to turbo mode.  I checked myself in and sat down for 1.5 seconds before a group of health care workers came out to help me.  At that point, I was dropping things all over the place because I instinctively hand things to my right hand that effectively stopped working.   I was whisked into the emergency room and I could hear the head nurse say “Move it. We have a stroke.”.  She noticed that I heard her and said to me, “Don’t worry. That is just to get people moving.”

Then, a full battery of tests — blood pressure, temperature, IV, CAT scan #1, CAT scan #2 with some die that almost made me pee my pants, MRI #1, CAT scan #3, blood,  more blood, COVID test, and even more blood. 

Long story short, they found a blood clot on the top of my head and bleeding.  Well, that earned me a ticket on the life flight helicopter to the primary Neurological ICU.  It got super real at that point.  Sarah looked at me and asked me if I wanted to leave a message for the girls.  I’ve never had any brain trauma before so my thoughts went to all the scary stories I’ve read on brain surgery or stroke treatment. 

The helicopter took 8 minutes to get to Park City and it was a quick 8 minute flight over Park City Mountain to get to its destination.  The Canyons side of Park City Mountain has a lift called the “Orange Bubble Express” that I easily identifiable because each chair has an orange shield that riders can pull down on windy days.  It connects the main resort to some epic trails that Brooklyn and I spent a ton of time last season skiing.  The helicopter flew right over the Orange Bubble Express — so low it felt like I could touch the peaks.  I thought to myself, “well, those were good times”.  I won’t lie, the fragility of my own mortality became very real at that point.     

I spent a little less than a week at the hospital with most of that time in the Neurological ICU with the most amazing medical professionals.  I am so grateful for all of them and the care they provided me.  I owe my life to them.  Sarah was at my side through it all.  Both sets of parents flew in to provide support.  Our new Park City Community provided dinners and support.  The messages from friends and family.  All the soup!  It was amazing.  I am truly grateful for it all. 

My doctor told me that I hit the lottery twice.  The first was having this type of stroke at my age.  This type of stroke impacts only 3 out of 1,000,000.  The second was making my way out of the stroke with likely no long term damage.  I’m more grateful for the later.  Haha.  My prognosis is for a full recovery and I’m taking the time now to heal. The brain needs to heal in ways I’ve never really realized.  

So, what higher level observations through all of this?

  • Life is short.  Life is fragile.  Find your joy.
  • I’ve gained a deep  level of Perspective and gratitude.  It’s good to be alive. 
  • Know the signs of a stroke and go immediately to the hospital.
  • Don’t drive yourself to the emergency room regardless if your car can drive you there on its own. 
  • Listen to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” during stressful times.

I’m so grateful for my journey through this that I’m going to donate and raise money for the American Stroke Association (a subsidiary of the American Heart Association). Stay tuned for the GoFundMe. I’m also going to see what other creative things I can do to educate of strokes and help those that have had one. Did you know —

  • In 2018, 1 in every 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease was due to stroke.1
  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.2
  • Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.2
  • About 185,000 strokes—nearly 1 of 4—are in people who have had a previous stroke.2
  • About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked.2
  • Stroke-related costs in the United States came to nearly $46 billion between 2014 and 2015.2 This total includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.2 Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.2
    [reference link]

I’ll provide a follow up post with my recovery.  I can’t think of a better place to heal and reflect than Park City, Utah — for a resurgence going into the second half of my life living life at 1000%!

Thank you all for the support.  Onward and upward!

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Stephen King

Coming Soon: Ski Season 2021-2022

Fall is upon us here in Park City, Utah.  We’re in the middle of “first winter” — where it snows early and those new to the area freak out.  It is followed by “second fall” where the snow melts fast and it feels like fall again.  Followed by “second winter” which last until March.  We got a wet, heavy snow a few weeks back that resulted in a tree from my property falling on my neighbors house.  That was fun.  The snow has since melted and mother nature has been recently toying with some more snow but it’s not really sticking. 

Last year was fantastic season on the mountain for the family.  I was able to get 36 days on the mountain, almost entirely at Park City Mountain.  I’d normally be happy with 10-15 ski days when I was living in California or New York/Connecticut.   We only committed to the EPIC pass last year.  It was hard not to  want to keep hitting the largest mountain in the United States and the second largest ski resort in North America behind Whistler Blackcomb. Park City Mountain is gigantic.  The terrain is super cool. We were exploring new trails all winter long.  Brooklyn got more than 45 days on the mountain!   She’s been really enjoying learning the all-mountain terrain with Park City Ski & Snowboard (PCSS) where they did their lessons at Utah Olympic Park.

This year we are approaching things slightly different — the family got the EPIC & IKON base passes this year and we’re hoping to hit a wider variety of mountains.  The local, blackout and kids versions of the passes are solid discounts over normal adult pricing so it’s not as bad as it sounds.  And we tend not to go to the mountain when it’s super packed anyway. It pays to be a local. The EPIC and IKON passes provide solid coverage across most of the best mountains around this area. Some folks in Park City can get super crazy — they get the EPIC and a dedicated mountain pass where they get the IKON pass as an add on. For example, EPIC plus Deer Valley Season Pass and then add on the IKON. That would be for the true Deer Valley lover. For those coming to visit, I highly recommend evaluating the various cross mountain passes because the day passes are outrageously priced. Hit a week in Utah plus your local mountain and your pass is paid off.

Mountain Collective, Yeti Pass, Reciprocal Pass and the Indy Pass are the other multi mountain ski passes with coverage in Utah. All are unique with they pros and cons.

ResortOpening (estimated)Distance From HomeSki Pass
Alta Ski Area [map]11/20/202133.6 miles IKON, Mountain Collective
Beaver Mountain [map]TBD134 miles Indy Pass
Brighton Resort [map]11/20/202136.4 milesIKON
Deer Valley Resort [map]12/4/202112 milesIKON
Park City Mountain [map]11/19/202110.2 miles EPIC
Park City Mountain (Canyons)11/19/20217.5 milesEPIC
Powder Mountain [map]TBD76.4 milesIndy Pass
Snow Basin Resort [map]11/24/202161.4 milesEPIC
Snowbird [map]12/1/202132.5 milesIKON, Mountain Collective
Solitude [map]11/19/202134.5 milesIKON
Sundance Resort [map]12/10/202141.2 miles
Woodward Park City [map]11/19/20212.4 miles
** Resorts in bold are higher priority for us to visit this year

It will be interesting to see what happens with COVID this coming ski season.  EPIC Pass run by Vail Resorts published this in terms of COVID restrictions for the 2021-22 season.  The two most notable items is no reservation system and masked only required indoors.  I’m excited not having to worry about reservations and not wearing a masks outside.   

In terms of gear, last year I upgraded my 20+ year old battle skis to entirely new gear — Salomon QST 92 and Salomon S/PRO 100‘s.  Huge upgrade from my old Solomon Pilots that were so old that they little “shock absorbers” were leaking.  Haha.  The new skis are shorter and wider on foot and a modern day design compared to my old skis.  The QST 92’s have decent float on powder but I might look out for a wider powder ski later down the line.  For now, these are a great all mountain skis.

Finally, I just wanted to pay my respects to “the Farmer” who was a staple at Alta.  I didn’t know him at all but appreciated his passion for the basics joys in life.   

Here’s to a great 2021-22 ski season!  #prayForSnow

Congratulations Waterford Women’s Soccer Team for Girls 2A State Championship

Congratulations to the Waterford Women’s Soccer Team for their 2A State Championship win against Rowland Hall at Rio Tinto Stadium. Molly is the starting midfielder on the team and is surrounded by a super talented set of players. I’m super proud of Molly and the entire team for battling against a team they lost two regular season games against. Sarah and I have always said that we want our kids to #1 have a passion for something and #2 realize the value of consistent hard work towards their passion. Success will happen over time if they have those two things in place. Molly has found the passion and is one heck of a hard working kid.

Here are some articles on the lead up and championship game —

  • High school soccer: Waterford and Rowland Hall renew rivalry following convincing semifinal victories [link]
  • High school girls soccer: Seven Castain scores four goals in Waterford’s 2A championship game victory [link]
  • Waterford beats Rowland Hall 4-3 to claim girls’ 2A soccer title [link]
Waterford vs Rowland Hall 2A Girls Championship Game Walk In
Waterford vs Rowland Hall 2A Girls Championship Game Introductions
Waterford vs Rowland Hall 2A Girls Championship Game Closing Seconds

Phish @ Chase Center (San Francisco, California)

Live Music is Life.  It’s one of the biggest things I missed when the world shutdown because COVID.  There is something about watching musicians who have spent tireless hours being good at one instrument and and then even more tireless  hours working with other musicians to form a band. I’ve been a Phish Phan for years … too many years.  I wouldn’t consider myself a “super fan” only because some of my friends are absolute super fans.  They know every note, riff, tease and can call out show openers like a modern day Nostradamus.  Thats not me. I just enjoy their groove and have an appreciation for their masterful musicianship. 

The 10/16/2021 and 10/17/2021 shows in San Francisco, California were rescheduled from COVID canceled shows previously set for 7/25/2020 and 7/26/2020.  When the tickets went on sale my family and I still lived in the Bay Area and the idea of moving was just an idea.  I had put in my “mail order” request for the shows in San Francisco and at the Gorge back in February 2020 and had completely forgot about them — one month before California closed.  Well, we moved to Park City and surprise, I got an email that I had tickets on the way to my old house in California — haha.  I even had to email them and ask them “what shows did I purchase?”.

I ended up selling all of my tickets online but serendipitously found myself traveling to the Bay Area for work and decided to meet my friend at the Sunday 10/17/2021 show at the Chase Center in San Francisco — the new home of the Golden State Warriors.  First, it was so amazing to see my buddy who I had not seen in years — second, the show was amazing. The setlist was solid. The energy was high. The groove was groovy. The light show was off the charts.    

10/17/2021 Phish @ Chase Center Setlist

  • Set 1: Bug, My Soul > Back on the Train, Maze, Steam, Destiny Unbound, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Reba, I Never Needed You Like This Before
  • Set 2: Evolve, Set Your Soul Free, Wingsuit > Chalk Dust Torture
  • Encore: Lawn Boy, Wolfman’s Brother

Steam contained a Dave’s Energy Guide tease. Chalk Dust Torture included a Wingsuit tease. This was the rescheduled date from the show that had been postponed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

Unfortunately, I woke up the next morning to a slew of text messages about how the Phish message boards were a fire with discussion of a “death” at the show. I didn’t notice anything that night other than a section across from us was empty but pointed it out to one of my friends that it was weird. The news would not pick it up until later that day — two individuals fell/jumped/not sure from the upper balcony to the lower level — one of those individuals died. Very sad.

I can’t say too surprising though. The combination of raucous dancing, the steep balconies, low glass railings and likely drug use is a deadly combination. I had the opportunity to see the third concert at the Chase Center which was Dave Matthews Band back in 2019. It was my first time in the brand new building and my first reaction was how steep the balcony was an how oddly low the railings are. I’m sure they will make some changes after this incident. Trey said a few choice words about it at the next Phish show in Eugene, Oregon. The Phish community is small so it was a bit rattling. My condolences go out to the friends and family involved with the deceased.

So, even through it was a Great show. Great vibe. Great performance. The cloud of the death will hang over that show.

There is Life Outside of the Bay Area (Part #4)

Hello, Friends and Family!

Alas, the last installment of “There is Life Outside of the Bay Area” series of blog posts journaling my family move from Danville, California to the mountain town of Park City, Utah.

And now the next check in! The family and I have reached another milestone — we’ve now been living in Park City, Utah for 15 months!  Holy smokes.  It feels like we’ve been here for longer — the time has flown by.  Park City feels like our little mountain town. My family loves it here and we have not really looked back. We have met the nicest people in our neighborhood, community and school.  Mountain living is definitely full of adventure and creates a sense of peace that is hard to explain. Looking back, the original hypothesis on the move was that the family needed a “change in gear” that would provide adventure and a lifestyle improvement. TLDR; We feel really good about our move to Park City. No regrets.

I decided to throw together a list of things we got right and those that we got wrong through our move.  Consider it a mini-retrospective in software development process speak.

Things that went right —

  • We made the right decision to move. Staying in California was “comfortable” and we found something different someplace else. It was not easy but worth the work.
  • We picked the right place to move. Park City is a super unique mountain town. Small enough to still feel like a mountain town but 30 minutes from Salt Lake City and a major airport. Plus, this town has the best skiing, hiking, mountain biking in North America.
  • We picked the right neighborhood — lots of families, away from the touristy Park City downtown and closer to Salt Lake City.
  • We picked the right house at the time. Housing inventory felt like it completely bottom’ed out after we found our house. I think our time here would have been very different if we were in a rental.
  • We picked the right school for the girls. They are thriving there.
  • We guessed right that things are more accessible in Utah as compared to California. There is lots to do in California but we found it challenging to do those things because it was just far enough or just enough traffic or just too many people. There is less of that here in Utah.
  • We underestimated the wildlife — its amazing. There is a nice family of moose that visit from time to time to watch sports on our TV.

Things that went wrong — 

  • We didn’t anticipate number of tourists in Park City. Wow, every other car is from another state here and from all over the United States. There are only supposed to be ~8580 residents in Park City but it feels much more than that given how many owners have moved into their 2nd homes because of COVID. Keep in mind that Danville, California has ~44,164 residents so it’s still ok.
  • We didn’t anticipate that the restaurant scene was going to be so bad. We were just pampered by having the best restaurants in the greater Bay Area. Our theory is that that the lowered demand and state restrictions on beer, wine and liquor creates a different sort of business dynamic for restaurants. Oh well, nothing wrong with Panda Express.
  • We didn’t anticipate how homogenous the population is — skewed white (see below). We were warned but wow, its true. That being said, Danville California was generally a white community as well but there is a significantly higher Asian community — 3x more Asians in Danville. What does that mean … more Panda Express.
Park City, Utah Population by Race [Reference]
Danville, California Population by Race [Reference]
  • We didn’t anticipate the raising cost in labor, commodities and how the construction labor market is just different here. The home we bought needed some renovations and finding the labor to do that work at a reasonable rate was harder and more expensive than we thought.
  • We underestimated how cool Salt Lake City is as a city. So many fun things to do.
  • We underestimated the proximity of University of Utah and BYU. Very cool schools with great sports programs.

So, will we be here in Utah for the rest of our lives? I’m not sure about that. My recent trip to Boston, Massachusetts to visit colleges with Molly reminded me that there are still some very cool cities on the east coast. I think Park City will always be our mountain town for sure and is going to be a fantastic chapter for us until the kids go to college.

Overall, if you want to try something new — take a chance. You only live once.

Thank you for reading. Please don’t hesitate to ping me with questions, comments or feedback!

There is Life Outside of the Bay Area (Part #3)

Hello, Friends and Family! 

In previous blog posts I outlined why my family and I decided to leave California and the logic behind choosing Park City, Utah.  Now, it’s time for the next installment — how the heck is it going? 

I cannot believe that we’re into March 2021.  The Mascardo family has now been in Park City, Utah for 6+ months, we’re 2 trimesters into school and there is only a few more weeks of skiing left this winter.  Around this time last year, California and most of the world was starting to lock things down — more specifically on March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic following weeks of community spread from China to the rest of the world. And on March 16, 2020, the Bay Area went into lock down. I vividly remember the city of Danville, California taking down the basketball hoop rims to prevent gatherings. And, being super excited to have find toilet paper at Costco. And, having conversation with our neighbors about them buying a freeze to store food because they were preparing for a huge run on meat products. These are some of the headlines I screen grabbed during that fateful March in 2020.

What has mountain living been like?  I thought it would have been like living in Connecticut because New York/Connecticut got pretty cold and snowy but it has not quite been the same.  Coming from Danville, California — clearly totally different, haha. 

  • So far, I’m loving the seasons.  We had a generally mild winter — bad for early winter skiing but good for my Californian family to start to get used to the cold and snow. We are all looking forward to the summer and a summer with activities now that the COVID numbers in Utah are looking good. 
  • The snow really is “the greatest snow on earth”.  It’s light and fluffy.  Easy to shovel.  Amazing to ski in.   
  • Downside to all the fluffy snow, it is dry out.  More dry than the arid climate of Danville, California.  Managing humidity in your house becomes a thing.  Places here have central humidifiers but if that humidity gets trapped someplace like in the attic, it can create a very bad moisture situations.  Proper air circulation is super important in those cases. 
  • The winter is warmer than I expected here and I think that because its so dry.   A wet cold can really feel super cold. 
  • The sun comes out a lot.  A storm might roll through but then we’ll get sunny blue skies right behind it.  This place is nothing like when we lived in Seattle/Bellevue.  There it was “gray” for more than half of the year.  Awful. 
  • The altitude has not factored much in our day to day.  Our house is at roughly 6600 FT which feels like the perfect altitude for mountain living — anything higher and I think we would have had to deal with it more.  Visitors don’t complain about getting altitude sickness. 
  • There are sharp temperature drops at night so you need to watch for things like frozen hose bibs if you keep the external water running.  I never had this problem in New York/Connecticut for some reason.   You also need to “blow out” the sprinklers at the beginning of the winter or else all those pipes will break. 
  • Snow removal isn’t so bad. Similar to New York/Connecticut but the snow is much lighter. My snow blower is amazing and in those cases when I might be traveling, we have a plow service that is cheaper than what I paid for the minimal yard services in California. 

How about the other aspects of life in Park City?

  • The kids are living their best lives.  Utah is generally open.  The kids go to school, have made new friends, play their sports, are active with skiing and hiking on the weekends. They have thrived. 
  • The pace of life is slower but it’s easy to take the pace from California and just move it to Utah.  Thats what happened to us in the beginning and we are still transitioning out of that mindset.
  • Work for Sarah and I has generally been as expected because most companies are still remote. Access to other work opportunities has been higher than expected. There is high demand for folks in tech and they don’t care where those folks are based. We have both seen an uptick in interest in our skillset despite living away from Silicon Valley.
  • Silicon Slopes is definitely a far cry from Silicon Valley but that’s ok.  I’m surprised to see all the technology companies having an office in the greater Salt Lake City area.  
  • I am amazed by how many out of state license plates are in town. Just the other day, I was surrounded by cars from Maine, Connecticut, Florida and California.  Florida feels super far from Utah for a drive — 2300 miles far.  Folks tell me this isn’t normal but I would imagine there are still many visitors here even during a non-COVID year. 
  • Access to legendary skiing has been amazing.  I’ll do 35+ ski days this year.  Sarah has been doing cross country skiing. 
  • Restaurant selection is bad especially compared to San Francisco and New York City. 
  • I’ve not really noticed the LDS influence except that Sundays are mostly open because lots of places are closer and they there are no kids activities. That has been amazing. 
  • Park City and Utah is definitely very caucasian.  That stereotype if very true. 
  • Pickle ball is a thing there.  Folks are really into it. 

Do we miss anything specific about living in California?  Friends and family for sure.  The beach.  The food. But, given the California COVID lockdown still in effect — I’d say we didn’t miss much in these 6 months.

So far so good.  We’re all looking forward to summer in Park City as the winter season starts to wind down. I’ll provide a 12-month update post-summer when we get there.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your feedback. Please post or share.

Interview with Authority Magazine on Digital Transformations

Hello, Friends and Family! 

I enjoyed my interview with Authority Magazine on the topic of Digital Transformations — here is a link.  I have no idea why they used such a large photo of me.  It makes my forehead look like its two stories tall but that’s a different problem.  It’s amazing to think that at every place I’ve worked, regardless of the size of the company there is always some element of Digital Transformation — it comes in all different shapes and sizes —

  • Start ups trying to transform an industry
  • Start ups trying to transform into their next stage of growth
  • Existing companies trying to transform their existing customers
  • Existing companies trying to transform themselves into something new
  • Any size company trying to transform themselves out of technical debt

Digital transformations are a constant for technologists.  On that note, technical debt is a constant for all companies.  Things are moving so fast there just isn’t any choice.  “Transform or die”.

Folks think its just a technology challenge but I’ve found it more about the people than anyone ever imagines.  Digital transformations require have the organization doing things its never done before.  It can hurt a lot.  Many think they want it but don’t realize the cost.  Failure is required in the leaning process and most don’t like that. 
Here are two of my favored questions & responses from the interview —

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I could write a book on this topic. I owe so much of my success to my parents. I’m a first-generation immigrant; both my parents were born and raised in the Philippines and were also both doctors. My mom is a Plastic Surgeon, and my dad is an Endocrinologist. They both had successful practices in the greater New York and Connecticut area. They taught me the value of hard work. They would leave the house at 6 am and come back home at 10 pm. Watching them taught me perseverance. We worked through issues because there was no other choice but to get through them. I also learned a sense of perspective. I take nothing for granted and value everything their hard work had afforded me in my career.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I have so many favorite books, but my utmost favorite is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s the story of Hari Sheldon, a mathematician developing a theory of psycho-history, a new and effective mathematical sociology that allows him to predict the future. When I first read it in high school, it felt so different than anything else that I had read before. When I re-read it as an adult, it felt prescient on topics like artificial intelligence, software, and robotics. Isaac Asimov wrote the first book in 1951. How in the world did he predict some of the things he did? My favorite thing is “zooming out” in search of a broader perspective. The Foundation series forced me to zoom out and think about the holistic impact of building things. Also, it broadened my definition of innovation throughout my career. There exists a level of innovation that does break how we are doing something.

If you missed it, here is a link to the interview. Enjoy the read! 

Apple Needs to Buy Sonos

Hello, friends and family!

Ok, so let’s take a break and talk about some consumer products.  I started writing this post back in April 2020 right around the time I took a stock position in Sonos but never quite finished the post mostly because I was distracted with evaluating a move.  At the time, I was re-reading the Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and enamored by value investing. 

“Why not invest your assets in the companies you really like? As Mae West said, ‘Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.’”

Warren Buffet

So, I went out looking around for a companies that I very much “liked”, were sold off and that I wanted to hold for the long term.  Thus, Sonos.  Sonos has it figured out.  I love my Sonos setup in my home and always excited to think what new products or services they are coming out next.  Here is my current setup:

  • Two Sonos Three (since discontinued) for my office
  • One Sonos Soundbar (original), Sonos Subwoofer and Two Sonos Ones (original) for the basement home theater
  • One Sonos Move for the kitchen and on the go

I’m very interested in taking advantage of the Sonos Upgrade Program to get some of the new equipment such as the Arc or Beam.   Sonos really has their ecosystem figured out —

  • Sounds great or good enough for me
  • Easy setup and configuration
  • Intuitive and effective mobile integration 
  • Seamless integration with all my streaming services including Apple Music, Spotify,,   
  • Central control of every room 
  • High quality and reliable hardware  
  • It just works 

The Sonos Move was my latest addition and it travels with me in the backyard or in the garage when I’m working on my Jeep.  It’s a bit too big for me to take to the park and use via bluetooth but that’s an option as well. The Sonos product family reminds me of Apple products from a technology and design perspective. It’s probably where the Apple HomePod or the Amazon Echo’s wants to go long term but Sonos owns the wireless home speaker space in my mind.  I can’t think of a competitor that is close.  The Apple HomePod never really captured my attention but I’m sure its a good product. It will be curious to see how the smart speaker market and the home speaker market come together. Sonos does have a Sonos One with Google Voice and Amazon Alexa integration but the value of Sonos to me is the mesh of high quality audio speakers throughout the home.  I own separate, lower cost, lower quality Amazon Echo devices to fill that need.  

On top of all of that, their integrations and services are killer.  All my music services — Amazon Music, Apple Music, Audible,, SiriusXM, Spotify, LivePhish+,, Calm and TuneIn.  Yikes — all of that at the tip of my fingers from any of my home speakers.  There is also Sonos Radio / Sonos Radio HD — Sonos Radio is an internet radio service available exclusively on Sonos. It features 60,000 radio stations from around the world, including a curated selection of original stations.  With a subscription to Sonos Radio HD, you can access premium features* such as high-definition audio quality, access to more exclusive original content, unlimited skips, and ad-free music.  Clearly, Sonos is expanding their ecosystem play.  

Sonos feels like they are innovating faster than Apple in this specific home theater speaker space.  It would strike me as a perfect complement to the Apple eco-system and push Apple ahead of Google and Amazon. 
There are others that think this as well as news of such a move pushed the stock up in Nov/Dec 2020.  Regardless, I’m a huge fan and stock holder — keep up the good work Sonos. 

There is Life Outside of the Bay Area (Part #2)

Hello, friends and family! 

My previous blog post outlined why my family and I decided to leave California.  Now, I will try to answer the second question folks commonly ask me — why did you pick Park City, Utah?

Sarah and I don’t have a tremendous amount of history with Utah or Park City.  We are not Mormon. We don’t have family there but I did do several ski trips to Park City in the last decade.  On our trips to Wyoming, we would drive through Park City and say to ourselves, “this town looks super cool”. Here is the wikipedia description of Park City, Utah which I actually thought was a pretty good description —

Park City is a city in Summit CountyUtah, United States. It is considered to be part of the Wasatch Back. The city is 32 miles (51 km) southeast of downtown Salt Lake City and 20 miles (32 km) from Salt Lake City’s east edge of Sugar House along Interstate 80. The population was 7,558 at the 2010 census. On average, the tourist population greatly exceeds the number of permanent residents.

After a population decline following the shutdown of the area’s mining industry, the city rebounded during the 1980s and 1990s through an expansion of its tourism business. The city currently brings in a yearly average of $529.8 million to the Utah Economy as a tourist hot spot, $80 million of which is attributed to the Sundance Film Festival.[6] The city has two major ski resortsDeer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort. Both ski resorts were the major locations for ski and snowboarding events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Although they receive less snow and have a shorter ski season than do their counterparts in Salt Lake County, such as Snowbird resort, they are much easier to access.

In 2015, Park City Ski Resort and Canyons resorts merged, creating the largest ski area in the U.S. In all, the resort boasts 17 slopes, 14 bowls, 300 trails and 22 miles of lifts.

The city is the main location of the United States’ largest independent film festival, the Sundance Film Festival, home of the United States Ski Team, training center for members of the Australian Freestyle Ski Team, the largest collection of factory outlet stores in northern Utah, the 2002 Olympic bobsled/skeleton/luge track at the Utah Olympic Park, and golf courses. Some scenes from the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber were shot in the city. Outdoor-oriented businesses such as backcountry.comRossignol USA, and Skullcandy have their headquarters in Park City. The city has many retailers, clubs, bars, and restaurants, and has nearby reservoirshot springs, forests, and hiking and biking trails.

In the summertime, many valley residents of the Wasatch Front visit the town to escape high temperatures. Park City is usually cooler than Salt Lake City as it lies mostly higher than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above sea level, while Salt Lake City is situated at an elevation of about 4,300 feet (1,300 m).

In 2008, Park City was named by Forbes Traveler Magazine as one of the “20 prettiest towns” in the United States.[7] In 2011, the town was awarded a Gold-level Ride Center designation from the International Mountain Bicycling Association for its mountain bike trails, amenities and community.[8],_Utah

So, what criteria did we use to guide our decision?  Here is our list of strategic criteria for a new home. I’m sure there were others but at this point I don’t remember them anymore.

  • “Not California” — I love California and have really enjoyed living in California, we still own property in California but the struggles are real. And looking ahead, it feels it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
  • “Smaller” — we wanted a smaller town feel, slower paced and more manageable day to day life.
  • “Up and coming” — we wanted a broader metropolitan area with a bright future
  • “West of the Mississippi” — we wanted a place within striking distance of the Bay Area for the purposes of work and to be close to Sarah’s parents
  • “Better school situation for the girls” — we didn’t want to go someplace that would be a step back from the schools in California. COVID influenced this criteria as it heavily impacted the school situation in California. Public schools were ill prepared for the remote learning and private schools, be it better prepared, were all waitlisted and very expensive.
  • “Seasons” — we wanted a place with four seasons.
  • “Adventure” — finally, we wanted a place that would line up an adventure for the entire family during the final years the girls would still be in our home. New experiences for all of us to do together.

The short list of cities that we considered over the years was long – the ones in bold were in heavy consideration towards the end:

  • Denver, Colorado
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Austin, Texas
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Park City, Utah

A fun list of cities; and I’m sure I forgot some of them we evaluated.  Ultimately, we have huge interest in moving abroad to Europe or Asia for a period of time but that was not in the cards for us this time around. That felt like too much change during a pandemic. We’ll consider those opportunities later.

Sarah and I realized quickly how hard of decision it was to pick a new place.  It very much felt like the unsolvable problem.  There just was not the perfect place but we soon realized that if we were going to actually make a decision, we needed to pick a place that checked off enough of the boxes for everyone.  And I’ll be honest — I was the big hold out.  I was/am too much of a workaholic to think that I could move away from Silicon Valley and all the start ups I love. Well, the stars aligned and we took the leap in a very condensed and hectic summer during one of the craziest years on record. 

I want to say that COVID didn’t impact our decision making but it surely did.  COVID seemed to created an intense need for change and at the same time loosened standard life constraints like “living near an office for work”.   I think that these new  dynamics just helped push over the top our existing interest to do something different.  Plus, Sarah and I are both of the belief that change is good. At the end of the day, we were going to come out of this with new experiences and friends that should broaden our outlook.

Park City, Utah won out. Hazzah!   It checked off more of the boxes than any of the other city on list.  Below were some of the reasons —

  • Duh, Park City Utah.  Park City is such an awesome little city.  Beauty.  Quaint.  Hiking.  Skiing.  Mountain Biking.  Cross country skiing.  Fly fishing.  Sundance Film Festival.  Moose. 
  • Quality of life. Holy smokes, it’s a fun town. It’s smaller and slower paced.  There are no kids sporting events on Sunday because of the LDS influence and that is glorious. We are literally 10 minutes away from the best skiing. And the summers are even more glorious!
  • Better education and life opportunities for our  girls.  We found a wonderful private school at a higher ranking and half the cost of the private schools in the Bay Area. Molly found an ECNL soccer club to play for and they are actually safely playing through COVID. Brooklyn also found a great soccer club and two terrific AAU basketball clubs to play for.
  • Favorable work environment and opportunities.  The company I work for has a sizable office in Salt Lake City so whenever we open again, I’ll have a place to go. “Silicon Slopes” as it’s called is up and coming for sure. Also, The Salt Lake City International Airport is a quick 25 minutes away from home so work trips are easy. 
  • Mountain town living that is 20 minutes from Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City is a very cool city and so close. Other mountain towns are just more remote. Tahoe was never interesting to us — it feels completely overrun right now and more of the same.
  • Lower cost of living as compared to California. It’s true. I’ve seen the numbers with my own eyes and its material. Housing. Real Estate tax. Income tax. Utilities. Food. Gas.
  • Smaller community to ride out COVID. Utah has been generally open and managing things reasonably well. There are surely parts of Utah that “don’t believe in the virus” like any other state but Park City folks are very respectful to the realities right now. Our theory is that small communities will be able to manage through COVID more effectively just because there are less people.
  • Proximity to Universities.  The University of Utah is 20 minutes away. We have our season tickets to PAC-12 Women’s Basketball whenever we open up again.

For those that might be interested in knowing, we live in a neighborhood called Jeremy Ranch, north of downtown Park City. It feels like a classic mountain neighborhood nestled up in the hills. We like it because it’s closer to Salt Lake City, slightly away from the tourist areas but close enough to the action.

So, how is it going in Park City?  That will be my next blog post.

I hope folks find this information useful. At the end of the day, life is short. Find your happy path. Take action. Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your feedback. Please post or share.