I write... occasionally

Here's a collection of 634 pieces of nonsense that I've felt the need to journal about over the past 21.08 years.

My First Hole-in-One

I grew up playing golf, but fell out of the game for work and other priorities. I'd been wanting to get back into it, but kept procrastinating. So, when my friend Ben asked me to join him for 9 holes to celebrate his 40th birthday at Glen Oaks, I thought… here's my chance.

At first, I was a bit intimidated and hesitant to have my first round in 8 years be at a fancy country club. I didn't even have clothes to pass dress code, but I figured this would be a great way to dive in head first and get back out there. So, I quickly went shopping and got a few practice swings in at the driving range.

On Ben's birthday, I showed up to find him sipping on a Miami Vice cocktail with his buddy and business partner, Ben Sinclair. This …

Joining and Leaving PayPal

I recently decided to leave PayPal so that I could take a few months off and recharge.

Here's how I got to where I'm at...

2013-2015: Building Modest

Building a startup is quite an experience. In our situation, it was even more strange because we had a team of 4 with a nice chunk of funding before we even knew what to build. So, we spent ~6 months flipping back and forth between ideating and contracting while we figured things out.

Once we got the idea to build a contextual, mobile-focused commerce platform, we moved fast. In a couple years, we grew the team from 4 to a little over twenty and had some solid initial clients. We built a full-fledged commerce API, a couple web apps, JS SDKs, mobile SDKs, white label mobile apps, …

Associate Principal KBROOX

A couple weeks ago, Kari applied to be an Associate Principal / Dean for the largest school district in our state.

She applied on the down-low, ignored most people's advice and went to her in-person interview rocking adidas wedges and kbroox fashion. She ignored dropping obvious industry buzz words and talking points, and responded as herself, with her values.

This would be her first time stepping out of special education to represent the larger student population... and she apparently nailed the interview. She went in as the full kbroox and got the exact placement that she was hoping for.

Before she was even offered the position, I was proud as shit at the way she presented herself, but I'm even more proud now.

🥰

2021 - The Big Disappointment

2021 was the year that was supposed to be normal again.

I really thought that we would get together and beat this pandemic, but nope. 2021 was somehow worse than 2020, at least for me.

The disappointment was real.

The depression was real.

The loneliness was real.

...

I was born and raised in the middle of nowhere and have always been sort of a lone-wolf nerd with close friends that were few and far between.

In elementary school, one of my best buddies died in an accident. I found another best friend in junior high, a couple more in high school, some in college, and a few more after... but with the past couple years of this pandemic coming after several years of working remotely, having most of my best friends living …

The alligator in the woods

A few weeks ago, Josh, Jeff, and I went camping at Lake Okoboji. We booked a campsite in a completely unreserved loop in the back of a state park and had the entire area to ourselves... which is always a good idea when our group gets together.

The trip was great. Bullshitting. Disc golf. Swimming. Driving the topless Jeep around the lake. Night hikes. Cooking over fires. Beer. Hanging just like old times.

But this story is about Saturday night.

The skies were clear and there was a full moon. So naturally, every time one of us caught a glimpse of the moon we’d belt out a big ol wolf howl… and as you can imagine, the other two would follow suit like normal ~40 year olds. It was good that we were in that loop all by ourselves.

Benny the Butthole's Short Life

Last night, around midnight, our dog, Benny became pretty restless. He started moving about the bedroom as if he couldn't get comfortable. This was followed by incessant panting and pacing about the house. He'd had a bit of restlessness the night before, so we didn't think anything of it at first.

But it kept up for quite a bit, so I tried to think about what was different that day. I'd kegged some homebrew earlier and spilt a bit of the filtered trub onto the floor. As he does with everything edible that falls within his range, he quickly lapped it up... and he's lapped up a bit of spilt beer before, so I didn't think anything of it. But I googled homebrew + dogs and found that hops can be very toxic for dogs. This particular …

Forty

I’m 40 now. Almost dead.

So, as I approach my final years (RIP), I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past decade and what I want going forward.

On my 30th birthday, I moved to Chicago to kick off a new, stressful, and fruitful trajectory in my life and career.

In that decade, I took some risks, took advantage of some big opportunities, worked hard, had some big wins, lucked out, and burned out.

On paper, our net worth quickly went from negative to a couple milli. We got a new house. New cars. Traveled a lot. It felt like success. Not quite "made it" success, but definitely success..

After buying the house, we immediately started remodeling it, which turned into the biggest set of personal construction projects that I've …

Benny's Juicer

So, Kari subscribes to this weird service that sends her random home/beauty/gym stuff every month. A couple weeks ago her package came with a juicer... but we already have a juicer. So she was gonna give it away.

The next day, I found the juicer in Benny’s bed, so I asked Kari if she decided to just give it to the dog instead. She didn't. He apparently just found it laying in Kari's mud room locker and claimed it.

So, now Benny’s just running around the house. Proud as shit. With his new favorite toy.

A juicer.

2020 - That quarantine life

My goals for 2020 were to:

Covid really helped me nail three of those, hah. But with nowhere to go, I didn’t get on the bike nearly as often as I wanted.

So first of all, Kari and I were incredibly fortunate to have steady work, income, and a spacious home and yard during this pandemic. I absolutely feel for everyone that had their pay scaled back or eliminated, or were cooped up in apartments or city spaces without being able to fully enjoy their local amenities.

The only way that I knew how to stay sane in isolation was to be outside and stay as busy as possible on projects, so I started the pandemic with a lot of yard work and …

RIP Garth Brooks

Today, we had to say goodbye to the sweetest, most awkward, and lovable dog that I’ve ever met.

Garth was a stray that was picked up in SE Iowa in 2010 and put on doggy death row at a kill shelter. A foster home in Cedar Rapids rescued him and we adopted him soon after.

We got the privilege of hanging out with this sweet boy for nearly 11 years.

Later in life, Garth started developing lots of tumors, which eventually found their way to his pancreas and caused him to over produce insulin and cut his blood sugar to half of what it’s supposed to be. Insulinoma. We found out too late to be able to act on it in a meaningful way.

He started getting weaker and developed seizures that became more and more frequent. An episode this …

The Jefferson Lake Fiasco

We went on the sketchiest hike today.

It was at Jefferson lake, which sits in the mountains between the cabin we're staying at and our friend, Clint and Jacqui’s house. It's a very pretty lake, with no one else around, and what seemed to be a nice, easy trail.

A little over 1/3 of the way around the lake, we had a decision to make.. Go all the way around or go back the way we came. This was largely dependent on our old man dog, but also on Kari’s balance and how rough terrain can be exhausting for her brain.

Garth wasn't really showing a sign of slowing down and Kari felt good, so we decided to keep going. This was mistake number 1.

It went from an easy trail to straight up boulder climbing. And since it looked like an easy …

Two Thousand Nineteen

A few weeks into 2020 and I’m still not sure how I feel about 2019. The entire year felt like remodeling and travel... which turned out to be a lot less chill and a lot less healthy than I had hoped for.

House

I started small by tiling a window ledge in my office.

Then, I remodeled the entire basement (with a little help on the plumbing, flooring, tile, and drywall). I replaced (and finished) every door, piece of trim, plumbing fixture, light fixture, switch, cabinet, and repainted every square inch. We also upgraded a lot of furniture in the process. The whole thing took much longer than I'd planned, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and am really happy that it's done.

I also remodeled the garage... Removed some …

Twenty Eighteen.

I really, really want to bring this suuuuper dated website up-to-date, but I've been so focused on things outside of technology that I haven't devoted any time to broox dot com.

Let's fix that... at least for one blog post.. and talk about last year.

2018 felt incredibly productive.

It started with some fun travel and ended with me literally canceling all travel for the last 4 months and just hangin at home. I got a new job. I built a lot. It was awesome. It was all awesome.

Work

I moved from a Commerce team at PayPal to the Commerce Team at Venmo, which has been much more my speed. They brought me out to Colorado and New York a couple times, which were nice trips, but the best part is: I'm building rad, heavily used …

Marv Hardisty

At the end of my senior year of college, I drove out to this country road to make a phone call. There was a spot on the edge of this cornfield that I always went to for important calls (without being interrupted by one of my crazy dorm mates).

I was making a call to Marv Hardisty because I'd interviewed for a position on his team a couple weeks prior and wanted to check in. It was for my first potential, big corporate job after college and Marv would've been my boss's boss if I landed the gig.

Once Marv got on the phone, the first thing he wanted to talk about was the portfolio of work on my personal website. He told me that he was impressed, but was especially interested in brooksfsw.com. As soon as he asked about it, my heart …

Rilee's Big Walk

So, we're dogsitting Kari's parents' dog, Rilee, right now while they're traveling... and before I go out of town tomorrow, Kari wanted to see if she could walk both dogs at the same time. Our dog is kind of an asshole on the leash, just letting his nose pull him every which way, and Rilee is kind of annoying to walk with as well. She really pulls on the leash and is one of those dogs that violently kicks all 4 feet, tearing up the lawn after every time she pees or poops or whatever. Walking them together was gonna be a chore.

So, we went on the test walk. Kari was holding both leashes and I was just there for support.

There were a couple minor twisted leash issues, but aside from that, everything was going fine... until Rilee had …

Sixteen and Seventeen

At the end of the year, I always try to write a little retrospective blog that highlights all the awesome things that happened. It's one of the few times that I actually take the time to write on this weird little site anymore.

But, I didn't do that retrospective for one of the seemingly raddest and most successful years of my life: 2016.

It took a while, but I eventually realized that despite the rad experiences, I didn't write about 2016 because I was generally unhappy. Over the past couple years, I've been stuck in my head. Overly critical, anxious and destroying myself with perfectionism, etc.

I was straight depressed.

In 2017, I came to terms with that and took a step back to work on fixing things. Through that process, …

My first trip to Asia

Some weeks ago, my friends Harper, Ivan, Abbie, and I flew to Southeast Asia to meet with a bunch of small companies and do some research for work.

It was my first time in Asia, and actually, the furthest east and south that I've ever been. As cliche as it sounds, it really is a-whole-nother world over there. The way they've completely skipped over things that have changed or slowed down innovation in the US was super interesting. The fashion, diets, and everything in Asia is just so different, and in many ways, much better. I spent a lot of time internally comparing the paths that these countries seemed to be on with our own. Some of it was better and some it was worse, but either way, it was something new ... and I loved it.

I …

Our trip to Mukul Resort in Nicaragua

As a lot of you know, Kari and I just got back from a pretty rad trip to a resort in Nicaragua... and nearly everyone we've talked to about it asks, "how did you pick Nicaragua?"

Well, it kind of started with our friends' Mindy and Ryan's wedding. They had a destination wedding a couple years ago at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba resort in Mexico. Here, we had our own villa that came with it's own pool - devoid of other people's children and ... well devoid of everyone. This private home-like beach tropical experience ruined Kari. She actually said that she didn't want to go on another vacation that didn't come with a private pool.

Fast forward to 2017 - Kari asked our travel agent to find us a similar resort with its own villa and a …

Our Master Bathroom Remodel

So, after having every single room in our house anywhere from 25-95% done for several months, I finally decided to buck up and finish a room... The master bathroom/closet... and I'm gonna tell you all about it.

Our goals were pretty simple. Make it bigger, more modern, more accommodating, and more "spa like" - a phrase thrown around wayyyyy too often during the entire process. Seriously. Almost every discussion that Kari disagreed with started with her saying, "well, that's not very spa-like."

Anyway, the existing bathroom was very utilitarian but had some nice features, like a connected walk-in closet and ... well, that was pretty much it. Other than that, it had a sink, next to a toilet, next to a shower, and ... carpet floors.

RIP Miller Bracelet

In 2005, I drove to my buddy, Zach's college town to help celebrate his birthday. As soon as I got into town, another one of our buddies (Aaron, aka Turbo) was passing through, so we decided to meet up and grab a drink at a local bar. It was a typical college town bar, complete with deals on Miller Lite, and sponsored Miller girls walking around, handing out terrible college Miller Lite swag. For some reason, when the girls came up to me, they decided I looked like the kind of dude who could really use an Official Miller "Drinking Glove" ... like, wtf even is a drinking glove?? I dunno. But I had an Official one.

So then, they turned to my buddies, Aaron and Zach and gave them these dope black rubber bracelets. This was at a time when …