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Live Life Love | Volume One

Hello Everyone,

Happy Holidays! I hope 2007 has been as great a year for you as it has been for me and Anna. We bought our first home. I landed a great new job. Anna became Director at her company. I finished the Burrito Project and put three more marathons under the belt.

When I last reached out to everyone regarding the end of my previous “Project” some of you took notice that I used a different email address other than my norm. The reveal is I have become an enthusiast of Stephen Covey’s four dimensions of renewal (physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional) and have been looking for an efficacious way to progress in these four areas. Voilà! I created The Live Life Love Project as a de facto lynchpin to address them all under an umbrella concept.

The short version of the new project is I am creating a personal 25 year plan. In that time I want to meet and learn from 100 wellness leaders and 100 business leaders. Experience life in 100 new and exciting ways and give $65,000 (plus volunteer 2000 hours) to charity.

It has been said by some that the strongest commitments are publicly made, so the idea is to check in with you once a quarter for the next 25 years and let you know how things are going.

The first wellness leader is Dr. Michael Gervais. His forte is developing systems and strategies for improving performance for individuals and organizations. Dr. Gervais, as the CEO of Pinnacle Performance, Inc., is an authority on the psychology of performance excellence. Throughout the past ten years Michael has consulted with numerous NHL, NBA, NFL, MLS, AVP, MMA, Olympic, collegiate, and high school athletes. He is an internationally recognized speaker on issues related to human performance. My five questions with Michael Gervais about Sport Psychology can be found here.

The first business leader is Stuart MacFarlane. Stu has been a good friend to Anna and I and was very patient as my first subject (so thanks Stu). I singled him out because of his recent work on a fairly new development platform (Ruby on Rails), which I believe is going to do for back-end Web technology what Flash did for front-end Web technology. Stuart was the COO and founder of MXG Media, an executive at idealab!, and the CEO of Insider Pages (one of the first large scale Ruby on Rail commercial projects). He is now Managing Director at Momentum Venture Management where he aids early stage technology companies gain the necessary traction to turn their ideas into successful businesses. My five questions with Stuart MacFarlane about Venture Capital can be found here.

My first exciting life experience to report is going to La Tomatina in Spain. The festival was absolutely amazing and definitely a must for everyone’s “bucket list”.

La Tomatina | Buñol, Spain | Michael Rucker

La Tomatina | Buñol, Spain | 2007

 

As far as charity, I am not going to give myself credit for any of my volunteer work to date but I am going to count the recent monetary donations I gave Adrene, Pat, Roger, Karen, Tracey, Ashley and Mark for their athletic achievements. I know first-hand that it is not easy to ask your friends for money. I don’t have much to give but if a few bucks gets my friends across the finish line then I have helped them knock out a few of Covey’s dimensions and helped myself (through reciprocity) too. What a bargain!

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. Being the extrovert that I am, reaching out to you is what keeps me going. If I can help you at all in your journey, please let me know.

Here is to a great 2008!

Warm regards,
Michael

Interview with Stuart MacFarlane about Venture Capital

Stuart MacFarlane was the COO and founder of MXG Media, an executive at idealab!, and the CEO of Insider Pages (one of the first large scale Ruby for Rail projects). He is now Managing Director at Momentum Venture Management where he aids early stage technology companies gain the necessary traction to turn their ideas into successful businesses.


Here are my 5 questions with Stuart and his answers:

1) What are the top 3 things not to do in a venture capital meeting?
a. Don’t start talking about your technology until you’ve explained the problem your technology is solving. Often times entrepreneurs will be so focused on the proprietary technology they have built that they forget that their audience doesn’t have any context to understand whether the technology really helps someone.
b. Being defensive and/or arguing. I am here to help and my job is to fund businesses. If I ask hard questions or offer constructive criticism it is because I am doing my job. If someone is unable to keep their composure I am left wondering how well they will attract and keep a quality team. Furthermore, the VC world is so much smaller than people think. If you upset one of us, your reputation will precede you faster than you think.
c. Do not try and close a deal on the first meeting. Often times in a first meeting you are not meeting with someone who can make the ultimate decision. If you are not aware of this there are many things you could do that would jeopardize the deal.

2) What does Web 2.0 mean to you?
Web 2.0 has been used to describe so many different things that it’s hard for anyone to know exactly what it means anymore. For me, Web 2.0 means several things. It means software as a service rather than a product. It means websites or technologies that foster communities, facilitate openness, and incorporate user generated content such as voting or reviews. It’s Flickr, Digg and YouTube. You’ll see Web 2.0 on websites that pull content from multiple other sites to improve the user experience. Look at a Google Map mash-up or any MySpace page to see how many different sites are feeding their content onto the page. It also means new technologies like AJAX that allow easier user interaction on websites.

3) Viewing start-ups as a product, what do think the VC market is going to be the hungriest for in the foreseeable future?
Any business that solves a real problem, can scale quickly, has great margins, and can make a 10x return for the investor! To try to be slightly more specific, it’s difficult to predict where the VC dollars are going to flow. Web 2.0 companies are still hot but there are a number that have been funded that are now looking like me-toos and that have dubious revenue models, so who knows if they will continue to be funded in the future.

4) In your experience of reviewing (and also creating) business plans, what is the most common mistake would-be entrepreneurs make?
One big mistake is building a technology before you really understanding the problem you are trying to solve. Most successful startups come at it from the other way. Understand the pain point — then find a way, often using technology, to make it go away.

5) Being the principal of a multi-million dollar startup that you had to help through bankruptcy, what is the most valuable takeaway you received from your experience?
If you ever have to take a business through a distressed situation, like a bankruptcy, remain honest, open, and compassionate and treat everyone as fairly as you can. This includes the people that work for you, your business partners, your creditors and your investors. You will have to deliver a lot of bad news during a situation like that, so make sure people understand that they can trust what you say and that you will do what you can to help them.

Interview with Dr. Michael Gervais about Sport Psychology

Dr. Michael Gervais, as the CEO of Pinnacle Performance, Inc., is an authority on the psychology of performance excellence. Throughout the past ten years, Michael has consulted with numerous NHL, NBA, NFL, MLS, AVP, Mixed Martial Arts fighters, Olympic, collegiate, and high school athletes. He is a published, peer-reviewed author of sport psychology systems for innovative strategies toward performance excellence. Mike is an internationally recognized speaker on issues related to human performance.


Here are my 5 questions with Michael and his answers:

1) Under the constraint of having to pick only one, what one change can an average athlete make to improve his or her overall performance?

Enhanced perspective; I know it might sound a bit esoteric, but one of the greatest tools that athletes can add to their “toolbox” is the interpersonal depth that comes from experience in life, with an openness toward growth (i.e., change)… which, at some level, requires risk… risk of being uncomfortable, risk of pushing outside of comfort zones, risk of failure, risk of not meeting “goals”. The process of enhancing perspective is a life-long journey… with perspective being defined as the ability to continually better understand how you “fit” into the grander scheme of things… whether that be in sport, business, or life. So, I guess I’m not really providing a concrete recipe for improved performance, but rather suggesting that with a posture of being open to change and a continual passion for rich experiences, people naturally grow and enhanced performance is often a pleasant by-product.

2) With regards to performance, what is your favorite natural supplement?

Most people think of supplements as some sort of dietary enhancer. I see it just a bit differently. For me, a supplement is anything that enhances performance when it’s added to the mix – and in that context – my favorite supplement for performance is anything that keeps the body loose, yet retains technical movement. And this is going to sound way too simple, but the most powerful supplement is our inner dialog. That little running script, while running, can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy. The good news is that we can train that dialog to be our greatest “supplement” towards enhanced performance. That is a big part of high performance psychology… getting your mind and body aligned so that your performance becomes more fluid.

3) What is the biggest mistake you see in novice athletes?

This question ties back to the first question — novice athletes, by definition, lack experience which greatly decreases their ability to set realistic, yet challenging (performance-based) goals. A second mistake that I see many athletes make is paying way too much attention to the variables that are not within their control. It is really important to have a clear understanding of what is with-in. and what is outside of one’s control. Once this is established, the mentally tough athlete becomes absorbed in developing, with excellence, each variable that is within his/her control.

4) What does imagery mean to you and how can athletes use imagery to help them achieve their goals?

Imagery is the process of using all five senses to create experiences in your mind. To simplify, these images become the “software” programming for your neurological and muscular system. That being said, your body doesn’t really know the difference between the pictures that you create in your mind and the real experience. Think about that… your body, when the images seem “real”, can’t tell if you’re actually in the event or simply creating it in you mind. Pretty powerful! These pictures (images) come from the words you use (your thoughts)… so it becomes very important to be aware of your thoughts, to become aware of your pictures, to become aware of these “invisible” habits that are continually programming your neurological and muscular system. If you have clear goals, the benefit of having successful images/thoughts speaks for itself.

5) What is your favorite professional success story?

I’ve been blessed… I have many “favorite” success stories… and in particular with one female ice skater who changed the perspective of what others thought was not possible. More specifically, this athlete (competing at the world level) was able to do for her sport, what Roger Bannister was able to do for running. She did something that completely changed the way the sport can be done… this change unlocked a new vision, a new image for others. She was able to see what others couldn’t see… she was able to trust that vision… to trust her training… and perform a feat that still to this day has not been done on the world stage. That being said, the reason that this story stays present with me is because she really had to work for it… along her path of excellence, she experienced many personal struggles… and in the face of each of them, she was able to anchor her inner belief, and truly become absorbed in the day-to-day pursuit of personal excellence… Being part of her journey has been an amazing experience that has forever shaped how I understand the exploration of personal potential… and the courage it takes to follow that calling.

Activated Charcoal & Hangovers

Activated charcoal is marketed as a way to cure hangovers. The idea is to digest enough carbon through supplementation that the compound will soak up metabolites and toxins from the blood. The problem is it doesn’t work.

activated charcoal tablets

Activated charcoal is a type of carbon that has been processed into a form with a very large surface area (for a molecule). Physically, it is a fine, black powder with no taste or odor. It has a high degree of “micro” porosity. It is usually made from coal (using high temperature treatment) and sometimes it is impregnated with chemicals to alter or enhance its absorption properties. In the scientific study Adsorption Equilibrium and Kinetics of Gasoline Vapors onto Carbon-Based Adsorbents researchers measured the adsorption kinetics of ethanol on pitch-based activated carbon fibers (ACFs) at different adsorption temperatures ranging from 27 to 60 °C. The mass uptake of ethanol adsorbed on ACF was measured using a thermogravimetric analyzer and the concentration range observed was 0.1 and 0.5 grams of ethanol to gram of ACF; in other words, the adsorption rate is mainly controlled by surface diffusion.







I know… you probably didn’t come to this website for a science lesson… but basically, in short… the absorption isotherms are a function of absorption, contact time, and competition or cooperative (enhancing) effects from other substances. There are also other exchange rates that need to be considered, like the reverse reaction for the association constants that define formation, etc., etc. If you don’t feel like clicking through to the research provided, the summary of findings is that it would take a LOT of this stuff to absorb liquids that only bind modestly (liquids like ethanol/alcohol).

In medicine, carbon is sometimes used to treat overdoses following oral ingestion of complex molecules (e.g. morphine, strychnine, etc.). Charcoal works here because these compounds bind much “tighter” than alcohol. A dose is usually given at 1 gram/kg of body weight (for medical applications 60-90 grams [1 pound = 453.59237 grams], ~1/8 of a pound).

Certain patents have made the claim that charcoal can have a positive effect in reducing the sting from a hangover. However the science used here is now considered obsolete. New research, such as Activated charcoal in oral ethanol absorption: lack of effect in humans (done on humans) reports no significant difference in alcohol absorption in those observed. In this study, six healthy young adults drank a dose of ethanol designed to give a peak concentration of 125 mg/dl (0.12%) on two different days after overnight fasting. Each individual drank the same amount on both occasions; but on one of these days, the subjects drank an aqueous slurry of 60 grams of super active charcoal prior to ethanol ingestion… 60 GRAMS!!! They compared the pharmacokinetic profile of ethanol with and without activated charcoal treatment. The fraction of ethanol absorbed was similar on both protocols. The mean peak ethanol concentration after pretreatment with activated charcoal was 8% greater than ethanol alone (p = 0.08).

A follow up study, Does alcohol absorb to activated charcoal? , was done because of interest in various dog studies. The researchers wanted to study whether charcoal is of value in a clinical situation. A randomized cross-over study in two phases was conducted where each dog drank 88 gram of alcohol and 30 minutes after either got 20 grams of charcoal or were given water to drink. The study concludes there were no significant differences in plasma alcohol concentrations with or without charcoal.

In a later study — The effect of “superactive” charcoal and magnesium citrate solution on blood ethanol concentrations and area under the curve in humans — eleven healthy males between 21 and 37 were enrolled into a non-randomized crossover study comparing super-active charcoal (SAC) given after alcohol consumption. After receiving 0.6 gm/kg of ethanol their blood was sampled. “Area under the curve” (AUC) was calculated and the highest ethanol level was recorded. After a minimum of 1-week washout, the volunteers ingested an identical ethanol dose, but in addition received 60 grams of SAC and 300 ml of 5.8% magnesium citrate solution between 1 and 3 hours post ingestion. It was concluded that super activate charcoal in the dose used was not effective.

Based on studies, activated charcoal does not work to cure hangovers in humans. Additionally, there is a significant lack of proof that activated carbon is effective in minimizing alcohol intoxication.

Avoiding Hangovers

Most of us don’t give thought to avoiding hangovers until we are waking up to a throbbing headache, feeling shaky and housing a mouth drier than the Sahara. It is only then that the two extra shots that went down at last call don’t seem worth it. Some of us will find ourselves awake happily drunk only to realize we are about to embark on a journey through hangover hell as the day creeps on. Well, if you get ready to party with a hangover escape plan, you just may be able to avoid some of your anguish.

For the average person having more than three drinks in a night exponentially increases your odds of a hangover. Likelihood of a hangover is also increased when you consume these drinks quickly. Thus the classic night of drinking games can be a huge hangover culprit. Trying to stay hangover free? Space out your drinks and try to incorporate a nonalcoholic drink after each drink you have.

Hydration: Rehydrating with water is an important part in avoiding hangovers, if not the most important. Liquor is a diuretic, causing you to urinate more often than usual. Alcohol is also very drying within the body causing you to release more fluids than you take in. Remember to drink water throughout the night.

Moderation: If you can find a way to limit yourself to one drink an hour you may be home free. It is important to keep in mind that a 40 oz. of malt liquor does not equate to a drink. A twelve-ounce can of beer, five ounces of wine or a cocktail made with 1.5 ounces of liquor equals one drink. Attempt to drink slowly and opt to sip your drink instead of chugging it. Make yourself weaker drinks and when it comes to shots, try to pass. Also avoid drinking out of a straw, which allows you to suck down drinks faster.

There are great moves to make before calling it a night after a night of libation. Try to drink two or three glasses of water and if your stomach is cool with it, have a small meal or snack before going to bed. Having food in your stomach will help give you the energy needed to metabolize the alcohol. Taking ibuprofen before hitting the hay may also help, but be careful as it may upset the stomach and is tough on the body. Avoid the drug acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol) when drinking, as mixing this drug with booze is dangerous for your liver. You may also feel better the next morning if you keep yourself up until you feel somewhat sober and then hit the sheets.

Some believe that coffee helps hangover woes, and caffeine does give you a boost of energy, but be careful of caffeine’s diuretic effect. Some believe that exercise is a cure, there is no proof to suggest this is true but it is a distraction from the pain if you can stomach the exercise. Relief comes when the alcohol you drank has been fully metabolized in the body and your internal organs have recovered from the damage that was caused.

Important note: people who party with a lot of booze and do not get hangovers should be concerned as this could be a sign of alcoholism and treatment may be needed.

In short, the key to avoiding hangovers is to create a game plan of moderation and hydration. Have no more than three cocktails in a day and no more than one drink an hour and you should be home free.

Acetaldehyde

Acetaldehyde is an organic chemical compound that is commonly associated with hangovers. It is naturally prevalent in our environment. It can be found in coffee, fruit and other organic substances. It is inhaled from the air you breathe (especially when second hand tobacco smoke is present), ingested from alcohol, consumed through the consumption of food, and produced in the human body during the metabolism of alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol gets metabolized into various metabolites through a multi-step process. The first step in metabolizing alcohol is the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde. This toxin is approximately 30 times more noxious than alcohol, and as such plays a central role in the toxic effects of alcohol. The liver does its best to convert this substance into acetic acid. Unfortunately, the liver quickly reaches a saturation point (after the consumption of just a few drinks)and this toxin begins to escape into the blood stream.

When in excess, it exerts its toxic effects by inhibiting mitochondrial function. This weakens the body’s ability to break it down to acetic acid and can ultimately end up causing you liver damage (including hepatitis and cirrhosis).

When it reaches the brain it can restrain enzymes designed to convert certain nerve transmitters from aldehydes to acids. In turn, the nerve transmitters that can build up due to a lack of this conversion form compounds which are remarkably similar to certain morphine-type substances. This has led researchers to believe that this build up might be one of the reasons that alcohol is so addictive.

Research also indicates that this organic chemical plays a significant role in the development of certain types of cancers and as such is currently classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The Physical Effects of Alcohol

The physical effects of alcohol can transform a person from a well-mannered citizen, to a fun loving extrovert, to a bumbling idiot or in the worst case to a downright menace to society. Just ten minutes after you start drinking, alcohol will begin to affect you physically. While the alcohol-induced journey usually begins with pleasant feelings and laughter, it can end very differently.

Let’s start with lowered inhibitions. Having a drink or two brings about euphoric feelings. You become more animated than usual and may find yourself stumble a bit (or oblivious that you’re stumbling at all). In this state you’re also more likely to participate in activities that you wouldn’t do normally.

A few more drinks and you’re likely to experience slurred speech and weak coordination from reduced muscle control. More drinks and your memory becomes hazy. This happens because alcohol lowers mental control mechanisms. As the alcohol content in your blood rises, long periods of time are forgotten and blacking out can occur.

At this point, a couple more drinks and you begin to feel sick. These sick feelings can come from the dizziness caused by a lack of balance. Nausea also occurs when the body starts to fight back and, for protection, tries to get rid of the alcohol by throwing up.

Headaches and hangovers begin to set in a few hours after heavy drinking ends. This is from the hydration loss that comes with drinking booze. Extreme amounts of alcohol (i.e. blood alcohol concentration of 0.40 and above) and you can go into a stupor. In this state, confusion is so high you cannot function. Even more liquor and the physical effects of alcohol include falling into a coma, having paralysis in the respiratory system or in the worst case… you cease to exist.

Hangover Remedies

When it comes to getting back in the game, there are many hangover remedies out there. Hydration is a key starting point in improving your hangover. Be sure to drink plenty of water to replace what was lost the night before. Replenishing lost electrolytes will also help you out. Drinks like Gatorade and coconut water are filled with electrolytes and are a great way to kick recovery and rehydration up a notch.

There are a number of over the counter drugs you can take for pain relief. Painkillers like ibuprofen will help ease your aches as long as you don’t over use them. Going overboard on pain killers can be taxing on your stomach and liver. Periodic use of Tylenol or Excedrin should be done with extreme caution — be sure to follow all instructions — as the acetaminophen found in these drugs can be tough on the liver and kidneys when used in excess. Casual use of over the counter medication, accompanied with plenty of water, is great for a quick fix.

Stomach aides like Alka-Seltzer and Tums will help mellow the extra acid you’ve got going on in your stomach. This extra stomach acid is one of the causes of nausea. These products are also a source of bicarbonates, which are some of the electrolytes you lose when dehydrated from alcohol. As both these medicines are a good way to get bicarbonates and settle the stomach, these hangover aides can provide some relief.

The above remedies can all be conveniently found at your nearest grocery/drug store. If you are looking for a more holistic approach, there are also many hangover remedies out there involving different foods, supplements and physical activity which can be read about here.

If all else fails, there are a couple of fringe remedies you could try. An old Irish remedy entails being buried up to your neck in river sand. Or you could try drinking pickle juice like the Polish do for their hangovers… on second thought, maybe just stick with hydration and rest.

What is Gastritis?

Gastritis is a nasty stomach ailment that usually stems from heavy drinking. When alcohol related, this condition occurs because the consumption of too much alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach. Frequent irritation of the stomach through continual drinking binges ends up eventually causing swelling of the stomach, ulceration and can even lead to internal bleeding. Gastrointestinal issues could develop as one, some or all of the following symptoms: pain, burning, vomiting, gas, bloating and little desire to eat.

A social drinker is not likely to suffer from this, though some medications like ibuprofen and aspirin can help cause it (so you should heed caution when using these pain killers to relieve hangover symptoms). If you have succumbed to any of these symptoms because of drinking, the only true cure is to cut booze out completely. If a person drinks a lot and has stomach issues then they could be suffering from this condition. Even though some or all of these problems will clear up once they quit drinking (and the stomach walls will heal over time) it would still behoove this person to see a doctor.

If the need to stop drinking cannot be met, poor health will persist and support for substance abuse may be needed.

If you are worried about Gastritis, you can learn more about it via WebMD by clicking here.

Why does alcohol cause dehydration?

At the bar you are taking in a lot of fluid but dehydration still occurs and the inside of your body feels parched… so what gives? Alcohol is a diuretic so it triggers your body to release fluid and causes you to urinate more. In short, alcohol dries everything up — it sucks up fluids from whatever tissues or membranes it touches.

Your body also has to use fluids to flush alcohol out of the body because alcohol is so toxic. It depletes vitamins and minerals in the body (like potassium) which leaves you feeling thirsty, dizzy and faint. The body has a defense system to prevent you from desiccation but drinking alcohol shuts this system down. Alcohol even reduces the fluid in your brain cells, which leads to headaches.

Many times, you confuse your simple need for water with wanting another drink, which further creates problems. The best way to combat this effect of alcohol is to start out with a glass of water (before you start drinking) and continue with another glass of water per each glass of liquor that you consume. End a night of drinking with a few more glasses and you most likely will feel better in the morning than you would have otherwise.

If you are worried about dehydration, you can learn more about it via WebMD by clicking here.