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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Two Weeks In Homer, Alaska

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Amy and I have been up at our house in Homer, Alaska for the last two weeks.  We try to spent every July up here – something we’ve tried to do every year for the past decade (we missed in 2007 and 2009.)  I’ve had a lot of people say things similar to “I hope you are having a great vacation” which I corrected for the first few days (we aren’t on vacation – just living in Homer for the month) but I got tired of this so I stopped correcting folks after a few days.

Our lives are generally insane.  Anyone that knows us knows that we both travel a ton, work like maniacs, and generally cover a lot of ground. We don’t have kids, so we get a lot of time together in between things, but there are rarely any uninterrupted stretches of just “living together.”  We address this four times a year by going off the grid for a week of vacation (no phone, no email) but these are special events rather than just the normal tempo of life.

Our month in Homer gives us a chance to spend a real month together each year.  As I type this, we are both sitting at our dining room table (our “office”) typing on our laptops listening to the Augustana channel on Pandora.  It’s a beautiful sunny day – I’m going to head out for a run after I post this and then I expect we’ll both settle into an afternoon of writing.  The days are long so we don’t worry too much about pacing as the sun doesn’t go down until 11pm or so and we usually just sleep until we wake up.  We spend most of the 24 hours a day physically near each other – often less than two feet away – for an entire month.  This is just priceless for me.

The past two weeks have been a little too busy for my taste.  I don’t have any of the normal friction of work (travel, meetings, getting from point A to point B) so I expected things to calm down a little and give me some room to finish the final draft of the TechStars book now that David Cohen and I are in the “march to publish with a real publisher” process with a goal of having the book in the stores and on Amazon by October.  I’ve had little bits of time between things but no real space to just concentrate because of all the other stuff going on in my work world.

When I look forward, the next two weeks are a lot less scheduled so I’m optimistic I can finally get in a rhythm.  Amy says it takes two weeks to knock off all the stuff from life when she tries to settle down to write.  She’s correct.

The one thing I get to do when I’m up here that I wish I could incorporate into my non-Homer time is to sleep more.  I wear a Zeo when I sleep and during the week I usually score in the 50′s and 60′s each night.  I’m always a little tired and sleep whenever I’m on a plane and often do long stretches of catch up sleep on the weekends where I score 120+ and sleep 12 to 14 hours.  I know this isn’t healthy long term, but I haven’t figured out a solution.  The last two weeks I’ve been averaging 10 hours of sleep a night and scoring between 90 and 110.  I’m not using an alarm – I just wake up when I want.  After two weeks of this, I feel well rested and physically much better.

We have two more weeks up here and I feel myself shifting into a mellow gear where I can concentrate on longer arc things rather than just reacting to all the day to day stuff in my work world.  We don’t have any visitors so I get to spend another 336 hours in a row (minus a few) with my best friend.  Life is good.

The View From My Office Window Today

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Local. Organic. Wi-Fi.

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On my way back from the Homer airport this morning (five minute drive from my house) after dropping off a pair of packages at Fedex (yes – Fedex is here – at the airport – but you’ve got to drop off by 10:30 for next day delivery) I saw a sign that caught my eye.

Local.  Organic.  Wi-Fi.

The sign was outside the Sourdough Express Bakery, one of Homer’s local restaurant institutions (it’s been around since 1982 and is on the “must eat there once every summer” list.)

I’ve noticed Wi-Fi signs on most of the Homer restaurants, coffee shops, and stores this summer. Almost all of it is free. There’s even Wi-Fi available on the Homer Spit that’s free for an hour at a time.  After being gone for two years, Wi-Fi appears to be almost ubiquitous up here.

Not surprisingly, there is no AT&T 3G here.  We’ve got excellent AT&T Edge service and the AT&T phone service is spectacular (thanks to ACS) but no 3G.  So my iPhone is extremely slow up here, except on Wi-Fi.  Which I can get almost everywhere.

I’m kind of intrigued by the marketing around Wi-Fi.  I get local, especially in a place like Homer (hippy town, lots of local farms, almost all local fish, cost of transportation for stuff to here – the end of the road – is high).  I also get organic (as organic is the super trendy extra hippy movement of the day). However, Wi-Fi surprised me a little, but when I think about it, it makes perfect sense as this is a heavy tourist town in the summer.  “Stop here, check your email on your laptop using free Wi-Fi, and eat some halibut while you are at it.”

When I’m in Homer, I pay a lot of attention to the local small town patterns that exist.  Most of the places outside Boulder that I spend time in are large cities (New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles) so I feel like I’ve got the big city rhythm in the US figured out.  But I definitely struggle to understand “the small town” as I’m hesitant to use Boulder as a reference point.  While Homer is also a pretty unique place, it’s probably a good proxy for tourist spots in the US that are under 10,000 permanent residents that is no where near a big city (the largest – Anchorage – is 222 miles away.)  If nothing else, the tempo of the place is radically different than the other places I spend time in during the year.

I expect I’ll have plenty of other missives from (and about) Homer this month.  If you want pictures, Amy’s got plenty of them building up over on her site Thoughts in Random Patterns.

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