2016 Year In Review

Goodbye 2016…

2016 was a crazy year for me. Following the advice of Tim Ferriss, instead of drafting a New Year’s Resolution, I’m going to do a review of 2016 and all of the weirdness that may entail. Bear with me…

Writing:

In 2016 I wrote and published book #4 of The Corsair Uprising Space Opera Series: The Lost Corsair. I also put out a compilation of The Corsair Uprising books #1-3 on Kindle. I also wrote some short stories that need some more work before they can be published. This was not my best year from a writing standpoint, but in my defense, I had a lot of distractions. More on that later.

Master’s Degree:

I’ve been working toward a Master’s Degree in Business for two years now, and have just one more year left. It’s proven to be a major time-suck, but some of the things I’ve learned have helped me to make 2016 by most lucrative writing year ever, despite writing less than I wanted. Perhaps one of the most useful things about the program was the reading list. You can check out my 2016 and 2017 reading list here.

I’ve been skeptical of higher education since I was about sixteen, jaded with the constant search for the ‘right’ college and major. I always knew what I wanted to do, but there was a much harder path to making a living through writing in 2003-2005 than there is today. Despite my reticence, the MBA will be my third degree. If I were to advise someone else about the pros and cons of college, I would say this: almost every syllabus from every college is available in some form online. Get a library card and the kindle app, read the books, and absorb as much as possible. I was always a reader growing up, sitting with a good book on the floor of a Barnes & Noble while my dad did a book signing, but I never read so enthusiastically as I did after graduating with a Bachelor’s in English and tearing through volume after volume, realizing that I could learn an incredible amount all on my own.

Conclusion:

As for the MBA, the classes themselves are mostly pointless (save for the practical entrepreneurship classes). The most important parts for me were the books and the contacts I made in my community. If you decide you absolutely need an MBA, I would find one that focuses on practical knowledge and building relationships. That being said, an online program might be able to impart practical knowledge, but is probably not the best for making business contacts.Italy Trip 2016

Italy Trip Review 2016
Hotel in Calabria

Travel:

I was able to visit distant family members in Italy last June. The only things better than the wine were the food and company. My great-grandfather lived in a small town in southern Italy and some of our relatives are st
ill there. To prepare for this trip, I completed most of the Italian Duolingo Course as well as a number of grammar books and parsing my Italian-English dictionary for necessary words (mostly types of food and bad words). Nothing, however, was more helpful than Facebook messaging back and forth with family there. If you’re going to learn a language and don’t know any native speakers, there are tools like WeSpeke that can help.

Military:

I rarely talk about my military service, though someday I expect I’ll write about it here. In 2016 I was promoted to Staff Sergeant (finally) and spent a lot of weekends looking at a screen
like a true cyber-warrior.

Tesla Raffle 2016
Should have been my Tesla

Work:

For a while, I worked for an advertising agency (though despite my penchant for social media, doing it for work proved less than desirable). One of my many jobs was photographing events for our clients. With Tesla coming to the area, it seems like every big event in Reno now features the raffle of a Tesla Model S. Hey, I’m not complaining, but one of these days my ticket had better be called, that’s all I’m saying.

Personal Life:

Saving the best for last, 2016 was also the year I met my future wife! Out of respect for privacy, this photo is all you get.
roger's ring 2016

All-in-all, 2016 was a pretty successful year for me! I may not have accomplished everything on my list, but when my list was a moonshot that’s understandable. In 2017, I intend to broaden my knowledge base through aggressive reading, finally finish my MBA, and with that, focus more on writing and other pursuits. Oh, and I’ll probably get married too.

 

The Great Tea Conspiracy

Is there a tea conspiracy?

Yes, a tea conspiracy. No, I’m not talking about the Tea Party. I’m referring to the health benefits of Green, Black, and Oolong Tea and the relative lack of support by government regulators and American health officials. Let’s break it down.

The National Cancer Institute acknowledges that tea contains Polyphenols which are antioxidants. These are well-researched to be related to cancer prevention. In addition, Green tea has been tangentially linked to a host of health benefits. For a good starting point, visit the University of Maryland’s page dedicated to Green tea. On this page, it describes multiple times when the FDA has prevented tea makers from using statements regarding the health benefits. I’m about to go out on a limb here and discuss some of the reasons why.

First, many studies regarding the health benefits of Green tea and other teas have been conducted. One of the main inconsistencies is how the tea is brewed: how long it steeps, temperature, what kind of water is used, etc. Because of this, it could be difficult for blanket statements to be made about the effectiveness of tea if one way of preparation trumps another. So far, I have not seen a study that attempts to find the best methods of brewing to maximize polyphenol content or the compound EGCG (the most active polyphenol in Green tea). It is because of things like this lack of creditable research that the National Cancer Institute and other organizations cannot advocate drinking tea as a cancer prevention tool.

Second, and I’m really going out on a limb here, what could the FDA gain from allowing these statements on Green tea labels? I recently bought 100 packets of Green tea on Amazon for $14.39 at a cost of 14 cents a packet. Big Pharma has lobbyists in Washington that protect their interests (see: making a profit). We know this. Big drug companies don’t want a product as cheap and ubiquitous as tea to eat away at their bottom line when they can come out with a drug that essentially does the same thing as green tea but costs the consumer 1,000 or 2,000 percent more. That is the real reason I think we will not see health statements on tea packages anytime soon.

Tea has been in use in India and China for thousands of years. If even 1% of the proposed health benefits of drinking tea (green in particular) are well-founded, we would be fools not to drink a few cups a day. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, and there haven’t been any studies that have proven a downside to drinking it (at least that I’ve found; please comment if you can find one). If a product has no downside and a huge potential upside, I say go for it. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can afford to drink it. It would cost less than $50 a year to have a cup a day. Most people spend more than double that on Bottled Water. Water!

In conclusion, if you are in a position at a University or Research Laboratory to run a study on the health benefits of Green tea or the effectiveness of various brewing methods, please do so. I would love to hear about it and will be glad to post any findings, regardless of the outcome, on my blog. I’m fully prepared to eat my words should the health benefits of tea be ill-founded. Until then, I’m going to continue drinking it regularly.

Are you a tea drinker? What kind is your favorite and why? I’m currently hooked on Morrocan Mint Green Tea from Stash. Do you think there is a tea conspiracy afoot to limit the wording available for tea producers in favor of prescription medications?

Reno, NV: Startup City

Reno, NV: Startup City

With all of the talk about the Tesla Gigafactory coming to Reno, NV some of the smaller players have gotten a little overshadowed. However, Popular Mechanics recently recognized Reno, NV as the #8 Best Startup City in the Country! Between the Reno Collective and Startup Row, Reno has a lot going for it these days, which is great given its slow economic improvement since the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Here’s a few of the companies sprouting up in the area and a little of what they’re about.

inqiri:
inqiri operates the premier online collaborative decision-making platform. Our patent-pending technology combines the power of collective intelligence with a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methodology. The inqiri solution provides organizations with a structured, objective, rational technique for improving decisions. Founded in 2012, inqiri develops advanced business intelligence solutions designed to enhance business outcomes.

Dunce, LLC:
Dunce, LLC is college planning that’s clever! Founded in 2013, we help high school students determine their paths after graduation, and provide resources and guidance to help them achieve their goals. Dunce prides itself in challenging our clients to think outside the box when it comes to their goals after high school, as well as develop an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to life and learning.

TrainerRoad:
TrainerRoad provides indoor-cycling software to cyclists and triathletes with the goal of making them faster on the bike. TrainerRoad records athletes’ workouts and displays live data such as power output, cadence, and heart rate.

In addition to these great startups, there’s a lot more in the works for Reno. Apple is expanding their Data Center presence in town, Petco is opening a new distribution center, and Amazon is moving their distribution center from Fernley, NV to Reno, NV. This is just the tip of the iceberg for great companies popping up in town and it looks like the next few years will greatly expand the presence of tech companies and the ever-present warehouse/distribution business.

I know there are a lot more startups out there in Reno, NV, but for the sake of time I limited my post to only a few. If you have a startup in Reno and would like to talk about it on my blog I would be happy to let you do a guest post or conduct an interview.