Saturday, October 30, 2010


I have been overly cryptic in the last few posts about what I am doing, but I finally am willing to make my plans public. I am going to open a triathlon shop in Minneapolis in the next six to nine months (that's the schedule now anyway, things are bound to change.)

As part of putting my business plan together I am visiting some cities with large triathlon communities to talk to tri-shop owners about their experiences getting started and to see what I can learn from those who have gone before me. My first stop was Chicago. My second stop has been Seattle and next week I am heading down to San Diego. 

I could bore you all with my concept, the brands I want to carry and junk like that, but that is generally uninteresting and pales in comparison to the crazy, serendipitous, coincidental contacts I have made through the few people I have talked with about this. The saga will be out of chronological order, but I really need to tell you about my unbelievable experience in Seattle over the last 48 hours. 

I flew into Seattle on Thursday, early afternoon. The plan was to meet up with Jen and her husband, Duncan, mid-afternoon, see some sites around Seattle, do this "Underground Seattle" tour and then get some Vietnamese for dinner. Driving from the airport to Seattle is beautiful. It was cloudy and rainy (as is to be expected, I guess) but much warmer than when I left Minneapolis. 

I was scheduled to visit two stores in Seattle and meet two FB/Twitter friends - Jen Huffman-Swift (AKA @ultragrrl) and Teresa Nelson and Mark Webb (AKA @tnmultisports.)

I got around Seattle surprisingly easily considering my complete lack of a sense of direction. My hotel was nice and right in the middle of the university area. I had a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley Mt. Ranier.

I met up with Jen and her husband, Duncan. They drove me around town in the rockin' Element. Duncan is an endless font of Seattle trivia. It was really cool to have a full-on tour guide telling me genuinely interesting stuff about the city. Jen did a great job driving.

We headed down to Pioneer Square to take the "Underground Seattle Tour." Let me tell you, if you've been to Seattle (or not) and you haven't done this tour, you really should. It's not super long, but it's really interesting and you get to learn a ton about early Seattle and more recent history like the largest mass murder connected to a robbery in US history.

Totem at Pioneer Square

Jen & Duncan

Under the sidewalks of Seattle


Skylight from sidewalk above


Creepy view into old bank

Old bank vault

Apparently this area is haunted.


After the tour we went for Vietnamese. I love Vietnamese food, but we don't usually get out of our bubble to get it, so it was nice treat. During our conversation I found out Duncan had run his own retail store for awhile and it was great to hear some of the lessons he and Jen learned about retailing.

Jen and Duncan are great people and I had a fantastic time talking with them. They get added to the Christmas Card list (don't worry, we don't send out stupid letters, just a picture of our "adorable" kids.) Jen, email me your address (or not, if you're Jewish or Muslim or anti-Christmas card or just plain hate me now that you've met me. The latter happens more often than you'd think, so I'm OK with it.)

Friday was store visit day. I drove around a little while I waited for stores to open. I saw Pike Place Market - decided to just drive by as I imagine it's a little more fun or interesting to visit with someone. Drove by the first Starbucks, too. Then by the Space Needle and EMP. Again, way more interesting to visit with someone.

The first store I visited was Speedy Reedy. Won't bore you with the details. Brooke was very nice and extremely helpful. Then I hiked it out to Redmond to check out Mr. Crampy. Also, very nice and helpful. Speedy Reedy has been in business for, like, 10 years where as Mr. Crampy has been in business for, like, 10 months. It was interesting to be able to compare the two and to recognize where they are similar in their core business philosophies.

Jen had time, so I invited her to meet me at Mr. Crampy's and then we went out to lunch. We talked a little more about my business and some of the avenues I was pursuing. She really did a great job of playing devil's advocate - something that is considerably more valuable than a bunch of cheerleaders. Thanks for that.

I cut Jen loose and headed back to the hotel. The evening plans called for meeting up with Teresa and Mark at a dark track to witness a beer mile.

Bunch of people I didn't know.

Same people - still don't know them. 

Then we went to a local bar with their 14 closest friends and had dinner and watched the beer run festivities continue. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard. Teresa, Mark and their friends are super inclusive and very funny. I had a fantastic time. (They probably think I'm super quiet, but my voice was so shot from a cold I battling that I could - and even now can - barely talk. That was probably all for the best since my words tend to get me in trouble.)

Teresa and Mark was super fun. Mark is very funny with a few beers and several vodka tonics in him. (How'd pacing your athlete on your bike go, buddy?) They also get added to the Christmas Card list (see disclaimer above.)

To learn about Saturday morning, read the post before this one.

All I have to say is I really like Seattle and it's people very much. The PNW is a wonderful place and I'll be back with the family sometime.

This week - San Diego.


I walked into Portage Bay Cafe in Seattle this morning and it was packed - 10 AM in a university town on a football Saturday will do that. I was alone and the hostess asked if I minded sitting at the bar facing the window. No problem - I got to sit right away. As is human nature in a situation like this I chose my seat with insulation between myself and the strangers around me - there was a single empty chair to my left insulating me from the line of people waiting to sit and a single chair to my right insulating me from the couple at the end of the bar. 

Midway through my meal an older woman asks me very nicely, "What are the chances you would be willing to slide over a chair to allow me and my granddaughter to sit down?" I gave her a lighthearted look like I was really considering her request and then in my croaky voice from the stupid cold I have I said, "The chances are very good. I'd be more than happy to move." I asked if she had a preference of direction but ultimately I decided to move to the left toward the line of waiting customers to give the two of them a more comfortable experience. 

I ate my meal and overheard a little of their conversation. It was nothing particularly interesting, but the fact that these two had such a friendly relationship made me smile. I decided that I was going to pick up their check - the giant rock on "grandma's" hand said she could afford it, but I just really felt like it was something I needed to do. 

I finished my meal and the waitress cleared my plate and I sat and waited for my check. And I waited. I was getting a little annoyed. Finally, the waitress comes back, asks if I need anything else and leans closer to my ear to tell me that "the two women to the right of me had picked up my meal." 

I could not believe it! First of all they beat me to the punch, so to speak, but it perfectly capped off my incredible visit to Seattle. I thanked them profusely and walked out to my car feeling like I had just been given an incredible gift. ME! A stranger did that for me.

So, for the grandmother and granddaughter at Portage Bay Cafe on Roosevelt  in Seattle, Washington at about 10:30 AM on Saturday, October 30, 2010 who did me such an incredible kindness I am sending two pairs of brand new shoes to my friend Bree to help the Marshall Islander community she has adopted in Hawaii for Christmas.

There is something about the venture that I am pursuing right now that feels so incredibly right, to me this is yet another indication that I am on the right path.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finnism (written)

It probably doesn't fully qualify as a "Finnism," but I get to make the rules. I'd like to point out one item that makes me laugh, but there are just too many. My kids are something "special."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Trip

I am embarking on a few weeks of travel for "something I'm working on." First trip is to loverly Madison, Wisconsin - site of the most epic of Ironmans and impetus for the most "Dickensian" (as in lots and lots...and lots of words) of Ironman race reports (in case you missed it, your "grueling ordeal" starts here.) For what fantastical and magical reason are you visiting the glorious capital of America's Dairyland and Minnesota's Special Needs neighbor, you inquire. Well, if you must drag the details out of me - I am meeting with my accountant.

Don't you worry, I'll provide a detailed explanation of every tax shelter and potential deduction we contrive, because, hey, it's never too early to start thinking about your taxes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just You Wait

I have been remiss in posting, but there is a good reason. Unfortunately, I can't reveal that reason right now. I will know more at this time next week and then I will have much to say. This has been keeping me busy and I'll be doing some travel in the next few weeks that will be blog worthy. (All you people I'll be visiting, you better make it funny and blog worthy or these relationships may not work. ;-)  )

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


My sister: "F, which singers do you like? I bet you like Miranda Cosgrove, Demi Lovato, Salena Gomez. I bet you even like Justin Bieber."

F: "Just because I have long hair and I'm a boy does not mean I like Justin Bieber!"