Sunday, December 25, 2011

Round-Up: Twelve Startups to Watch in 2012

See this piece over on the Information Space Blog...

In 2011 we saw a lot of start-ups with a lot of promise shoot up and very unremarkably flair out. As we look to 2012 it would seem more and more people are taking to their computers and breaking into mobile frameworks in hopes of becoming the next big thing. Here's 12 startups to watch for in the coming year and reasons why they are of interest:

Simple- More then just a bank. Simple looks to eliminate the fees, the hassle and the fine print induced stress that normally is associated with banking. Built on the pillars of intuitive design, technology integration and a insatiable need to ask why? I have a hunch Simple, when they launch, will disrupt banking in a big way.

Dekko- Blurring physical and digital. Have you ever been somewhere and seen something familiar but couldn't figure out what it was or where you'd seen it before? Chances are you pulled your phone and googled a vague description of it. Dekko looks to eliminate a big step in the process, Dekko is a application that allows you to see real time information on the objects around you through the use of the camera built into your mobile device. They are churning out a hugely functional and important step in Augmented Reality. Although still in stealth mode right now, expect these guys to start a revolution in AR applications.

Votizen- Taking back the education behind voting. Voting is an intensely convoluted subject, one that can make even the best of friends want to curse each other out, and yet it is also a increasing important issue (don't believe me? Time Magazine's Person of the Year was "The Protestor") Votizen looks to crowd-source and socialize debate and discussion on the issues, the candidates and the decisions all done beautifully. As campaigns for the 2012 election rev up, keep an eye on Votizen.

Facebook- I know what you are thinking "Do they really count as a startup?" but hear me out. Facebook did the unthinkable this fall, they reinvented. They jumped 10 steps ahead of Google+ and any other of their so called "competition" with the release of Timeline. They also refuse to be bought by a megaconglomerate organization like a YouTube was by Google. So ask yourself this: Has Facebook become self-satisfied? Or do they continue to innovate and change the definition of social network? I believe the later rather then the former and I think with their recent purchase of Gowalla, Facebook can be expected to do some awesome things in 2012.

Square- The PayPal we always wanted. Square is Jack Dorsey's, on of the founders of Twitter, newest project. Square is a simple and elegant credit card reader for your mobile device. With a very nominal usage charge, Square has already begun shaking up small businesses payment systems and making it easier for more and more people to launch service based businesses out of their pockets. Square has all the elegance and intuitiveness of an Apple product while making a serious disruption in a well established market. If you don't have a Square Reader yet, get out and buy one for 2012.

SoundCloud- Create, discover and share audio, intuitively. When Podcasts were first invented they created a huge stir in media distribution and creation on the internet. SoundCloud is the next big step, sound cloud allows you to effortlessly record, edit, create, publish, share and discover relevant audio right from your mobile device and does so in such a way that a 5 year-old can figure it out within moments. With services like Spotify becoming increasingly popular, SoundCloud will begin to take a serious chunk of users. Data Visualization for the masses. Although not fully launched for the public yet, has an incredible portfolio of clients. Chances are if you have seen a beautiful infographic in the last two years, they had something to do with it. In 2012 plans to launch tools that will allow the regular person to create, easily and instantaneously, beautiful and descriptive infographics. Given the popularity that infographics have garnered in the last couple years, chances are's new tools will prove incredibly popular.

Smartr- The contacts app you always dreamed of. These days I find myself telling people if they want to get ahold of me, tweet me rather then text me, I'm more likely to get back to them quicker. Smartr by xobni realizes this and with their beta launch is looking to take a step in remedying the disjointed and often times chaotic contact management "systems" we have in place. Smartr will aggregate your friends existing contact information with their social presence so there is no more scrounging through your twitter followers or Facebook friends to share something with them, it's all right there, under their name, in one app. Simplicity at it's finest.

Vocal- Siri's first step toward fulfilling her potential. Built by a private developer, Vocal lets you control your Mac using your iPhone 4S's voice to text capability, even predicting your commands before you even fully get them said. Although it is still relatively buggy, this is the first use of Siri's incredible natural speech recognition capabilities that has the potential to have a profound impact on the way we interface with our computers and technology. For a $1.99 get over to the app store and download this awesome app because from here it's only going to grow.

Miso- One of the first steps in socializing television. With rumors of Apple releasing the next big step in television technology, Miso has jumped ahead of the game and has already begun socializing television making it easy to get recommendations, share with friends and discover new content. If Apple does indeed wow us with the release of a mind blowing television, expect Miso to be there ready to ride the wave.

BitGym- Making cardio awesome. There has been an explosion in health metric related apps and devices recently with the release of the FitBit and Jawbone UP. BitGym takes your daily cardio routine and makes it awesome by providing an interactive environment when you are stuck inside in a very static environment on a treadmill or elliptical. With whispers of Global Weirding and the long winters we have been known to have, especially here in 'Cuse, app's like BitGym and their competitors will become increasingly popular amongst the winter dwelling users.

GraFighters- Bring your Drawings to LIFE. I wrote about these guys right after their private beta launch this fall and since then they have officially launched with both a android and iOS application. They might still be local right now, but these guys have an awesome product that really pushes the boundaries of what people thought possible and have a vision for their product that has some seriously cool implications on online and social gaming. If you haven't uploaded your own GraFighters yet, jump on the boat because not only is it ridiculously fun and awesome but it's only the beginning for this awesome startup.

That's all I have for now. Although, we've covered a lot of really exciting startups, ultimately, you can guarantee there will be awesome new ideas, that haven't been thought up yet, that will come to fruition and produce some really exciting new products and services. It's an exciting time in the tech world, anyone can dig in and get their arms messy up to their elbows in code and electronics, and that means there is some serious potential for some wickedly awesome technologies to emerge in the near future. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coffee with Dennis Crowley: 3 Lessons Every Startup Should Learn

See this piece over on Info Space...
There is a reason for influencers names to be staples of our daily vocabularies, whether it's their genius, their extraordinary experiences or their ability to inspire. Although the Kardashians may not qualify under any of those categories, individuals like Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison and Dennis Crowley most certainly do. From their stories, their experiences and their ideologies we stand to learn so much valuable and applicable information in many spheres of our lives, particularly those of us trying to build something. Very fortunately, my tech team and I were able to sit down with Dennis Crowley during a recent trip to NYC.

Planning the Trip
I'd been planning to go to the City as soon as the semester was over, knowing that there are many valuable startup resources available, as well as enthusiastic and knowledgable individuals who could impart some knowledge on my team and give us guidance in building our project. In November I started lobbying various members of the iSchool to give me any sort of contact at the foursquare headquarters, hoping to be able to sit down with some of their developers and maybe in the process be able to say a quick hello and ask a few questions of their co-founder, Dennis Crowley. After going through all the appropriate channels, we were understandably turned down given the hectic time of our arrival (a week before Christmas) and the huge time crunch the office was under. Nevertheless, we had number of other interesting and valuable meetings lined up and were headed to NYC.

Tweeting @dens
On the way down we decided to send a tweet to Dennis. It was a shot in the dark, but we figured we had nothing to lose. Shortly after, he responded with a yes, a place and a time!

Coffee with Crowley
The next day we arrived at the predetermined coffee shop to meet with Dennis. It's funny how when you have read countless articles and heard someone's name mentioned in the news so many times, you assume
they are going to be larger than life in person as well. Dennis is a very down-to-earth, humble, candid, and extraordinarily bright person who has a way of communicating that makes you feel like he could be an old college buddy. During our
talk with him (or should I say our game of 1000+ questions) we were fortunate enough to hear his story, from Dodgeball to foursquare, the current state of foursquare affairs, and a peak into his vision for foursquare's
future. We told jokes, talked coding languages, discussed privacy and transparency issues, chatted about market competition, and shared hysterical Syracuse University stories. Here are the three most important things Dennis taught us:

Lessons Every Startup Should Learn

1. Transparency Matters
As we put more and more information about ourselves, our families, and our friends on the internet and trust social platforms with intensely personal data, transparency matters. Twitter and foursquare have 100% transparent APIs, which does two things: 1) it builds a relationship of trust between the users and the company and, 2) it opens the door for people to build some awesomely brilliant products on your platform.

2. If the technology to build your product in your vision isn't there yet, build it as close as you can so you are ready when it is.
Technology moves fast, but not always as fast as our imaginations. One of the things Dennis emphasized in our discussion was, cater to your vision, the technology will be there someday, and when it is, you will be ready for it. This was very much a part of the evolution of his idea from Dodgeball to foursquare and on to foursquare's Radar feature.

3. Build first, politics later.
Roll your sleeves up, get messy in code or whatever you are building. Find like-minded people and build together. Worry about the incorporation, the equity, the market and whatever else may be involved in the 'business' end later. The building is the most important part.

So there you have it. Have an idea? Get building, dive right in and stay true to your vision because the journey is just as exciting as the result.

I'd like to say a very special thank you to Dennis Crowley for taking time out of his Sunday to sit down with us and for allowing us to be the sponges that we were and absorb as much as we could.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Break Project: Desk Modification

I've been in love with the Instructable's webpage recently. For those of you who know me, I like to take on different projects when I'm home on breaks to keep me busy and keep thecreative juices flowing. For my winter break project, I've decided to combine three of these instructables into one desk.

Here is how I plan to layout the desk:

The three instructables I plan to utilize are:

Desktop Outlet:

This USB one is the one I am most excited about doing, I ordered two new apple usb chargers from ebay for $20 shipped! (What a bargain!)

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and keep everyone updated on my progress! As well as this I plan on building out myxsshit on ruby on rails over break so stay tuned for all of this as well as some hopefully exciting developments on Wallis

Keep your SWAG on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Facebook Spam Interview with CNYCentral

I was interviewed by CNYCentral on the recent Facebook spam outbreak see the video and read the article courtesy of CNYCentral below...

Facebook is battling a cyber attack after hackers spread graphic, violent and pornographic images on your facebook pages. With more than 75 million users, that spam is spreading quickly.

SU iSchool student Isaac Budmen has seen it firsthand. It starts with a simple click. "It's a link that has a provocative title and my understanding is it's an application that goes in, messes with your privacy setting and floods your newsfeed with these graphic images."

And from there it shows up to everyone, but you. You tell us the images are disturbing. Many of you are sounding off on our CNY Central Facebook page about what you've seen. It's everything from inappropriate pictures of animals, to hardcore pornography and other graphic, violent photos.

Mike Fratto writes about security on the web and says this spam attack is different from others we've seen. "A lot of the spam that we've seen in the past is more along the lines of people trying to get you to buy something. This is more just a malicious attack, someone is doing this to harass," he said.

Facebook is now fighting back and says most of the material has been removed.

In the meantime, you have to protect yourself. Perhaps most important, be careful what you click on and be wary of links that look suspicious.

Also, closely manage your account security, and application settings so you are protected.

Make sure your browser, like Firefox or internet explorer, is up to date and has adequate security settings.

And when you see something offensive, report it, so Facebook officials can take it down.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blogger Debate: The Pros and Cons of Facebook Timeline

See this piece over at the Information Space Blog...

Editor’s Note: This post is an opinion piece by two of our bloggers debating about Facebook Timeline. Our first writer, Isaac, believes that the new feature is a stylized way to curate our personal content. Our second writer, Manan, counters that argument by discussing the negative effects of Facebook timeline.

PRO: Our Story Told Beautifully with Facebook Timeline, by Isaac Budmen

At Facebook headquarters they examined the question “What is it that patrons use Facebook for?” the answer to that question? To tell their story. I have a professor that tongue in cheek calls our Facebook Profiles “Shrine’s to Ourselves” given that we curate the information thats on there to fit the image of ourselves that we want to see or, in other words, tell our story the way we want it told. Timeline takes the information that we already have carefully curated, or not so carefully, and streamlines it in a gorgeous new interface that provides an exciting and incredibly intuitive new experience.

In a Nutshell

What Timeline does is it takes all the pieces of data that Facebook has on us and quite literally displays it in the fashion of a timeline (remember those things you had to make back in 4th grade for social studies?). On that timeline it lists everything from events we attended, to friends we added, to photos we were tagged in, to jobs we worked. In a nutshell it takes our time and activity as users of Facebook and streamlines all of it so that it in a very visually pleasing way tells our story.

Awesome New Feature: Life Event

Timeline adds some excellent new storytelling feature called Life Event which gives users the ability to now show your achievements and promotions at work, the purchasing of a new vehicle, or weight loss and more. Life Event has five catagories: work and education, family and relationships, living, health and wellness, milestones and experiences. This adds a very unique human element to the page where you can add the various hurdles and achievements that you have overcome in your life as part of your story, very much like the main characters of our favorite novels. Want to show off that new tattoo? Now you can attach a photo and story to it. Just went on a first date with your Soul-mate? Now there is an milestone badge for that too. The Life Event category brings in the very unique story telling elements of each of our lives and allows us and our friends to piece together our story in a way that is, ironically and very impressively, both standardized and unique at the same time.

More then just a New User Interface

Facebook’s Timeline is at it’s very basic aesthetic a gorgeous new interface that uses cutting edge new coding, technology and browser features from the brilliant developers at their headquarters. Although, some people will chock Timeline up to simply a new user interface, ultimate, I believe Timeline is much bigger then the sum of its parts and is a fresh start in the world of social interaction, personal branding, and above all storytelling.


CON: Facebook Timeline is Just Another Annoying Change, by Manan Kakkar

Zuckerberg and company have redesigned Facebook’s layout several times since it’s inception, but the introduction of Timeline is fundamental. Facebook has been our online identity, and it is now a visual timeline of our life. As someone who spends several hours on the Internet, opening and closing the Facebook tab is part of my workflow. I subscribe to several news websites and tech enthusiasts on Facebook to follow what’s happening. I share articles I write and the ones I find interesting. Essentially, Facebook’s not as much to stay in touch with friends or be a farmer for me as much it is a social news feed.

Facebook’s Inconvenient Alteration

The new changes in Facebook affect my news feed and user profiles in a way I find to be an annoyance. The articles I share are now split on two sides with images a little bigger and lesser focus on the text. When I visit someone’s profile to read what they’ve shared I get lost. It was quicker, easier and more convenient to go through content on a profile in the old format—list view with latest first. My news feed is now controlled by Facebook’s algorithm. I often get a profile picture of my friend as the latest story a few days later because someone posted a comment on it. I don’t care. I spend enough time on Facebook to know if a friend I care about changed his profile picture.

Timeline Changing our Priorities

Gawker Media’s Nick Denton once said that Facebook’s the social news paper that we’ve all wanted, and I agree; but Facebook’s algorithms now keep showing photos of my friend’s ex with a new guy instead of articles from my friends about Apple’s decision to not port Siri to older iPhones. My priorities have been changed by Facebook and I don’t appreciate that. Talking about Facebook’s representation of timeline itself isn’t better than another timeline tool, Memolane; it doesn’t even come close. Facebook’s ever-growing page slows my browser, while Memolane’s horizontal view is convenient to browse through.

Which side are you on? Let us know in the comments! Contact Isaac via email at or on Twitter @Ibudmen. Contact Manan via email at or on Twitter @Manan.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quora: Crowd-Sourced Q&A

How many times have you typed in a question on google like "What is new and exciting in the tech world?" or "What are the best home remedies for a sore throat?" more often then we'd like to admit right? It would seem though, every time you do type one of these questions in, almost without fail, Yahoo Answers pops up with an answer to that very question, and chances are there is one maybe relatively* (I use that term very lightly) accurate answer that addresses the question at hand, more likely though is there is a slew of inappropriate remarks that have the wherewithal of a thirteen year old boy and his buddies trying to sneak the words no0b and FCUK in as often as they can. Not exactly the most reliable of sources for accurate information.

Crowd-Sourced Answering

Enter from stage left, Quora, a new social platform that allows people to pose questions, and write crowd sourced answers. Crowd-Sourced Answers whats that mean? It means that any user can pose a question, and any user can respond, but, the difference lies in that others vote up the best answers, ignore the bad ones, and can make recommendations for edits to the best answers as to make them more accurate.

Why Quora?
Beyond the crowd-sourced accuracy model that Quora adopted from Wikipedia, which helps to ensure quality, reliable, and correct answers to the questions, Quora provides individualized features that help you aggregate information on all the topics you are interested in. Quora allows you to follow topics, specific questions, and specific users which allows users to very quickly find information they otherwise wouldn't have been privy to.

Quora is proving itself as a strong startup through their crowd-sourced accuracy model, their easy and intuitive subscription model and the appeal of the wealth of knowledge that the user base collectively has. If you haven't tried Quora yet, get on over there and start asking questions, if you can't think of any here's a suggestion: "Why is Quora becoming to popular?" I'm sure it's users will have something to say.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

SU Alum Builds Twitter Community for National Geographic Photos

View this article on the Information Space Blog here...

[caption id="NatGeoPhotos" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Follow @NatGeoPhotos for updates"][/caption]

When I think of National Geographic, I think of a magazine that took up a couple shelves worth of space at my elementary school library and was only ever looked by a group a boys looking (and giggling) at the frequently featured photos of naked indigenous people. In my life, National Geographic stopped playing any kind of contributing role when I graduated from elementary school and stopped having “free time” in the library. Recently though, I’ve found NatGeo has played an increasingly more relevant and interesting role in my day-to-day life. More specifically, the  @NatGeoPhotos twitter account has not only garnered my interest but continues to captivate it.

Orange Nation: An Alum at National Geographic

You can imagine my excitement when I learned that the @NatGeoPhotos account was run by a Syracuse University alum. Graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a Masters Degree in Arts Journalism, Janna Dotschkal is now the mastermind and voice behind the National Geographic Photo account on twitter. She received her undergraduate degree at  Baylor University, where she pursued and completed a Bachelors degree in Philosophy. After graduating, she knew she wanted to get into videography and photography at some level; that’s when she came to Syracuse.

After graduating from Newhouse with her masters, Dotschkal went out into the world looking for what most recent graduates go looking for- a steady job. She found herself cold calling a staff photo editor at National Georgraphic, having heard about an internship in the photo department. Unfortunately, the internship was dropped and the position never filled. So, she quickly began working at a non-profit. It was only a few months later that NatGeo came knocking at her door.

Monday, October 10, 2011

GraFighters Launch

Picture this: You are in a the middle of a lecture, group meeting, or trying to do your homework. Unable to concentrate on the material at hand, your pen starts to stray. All of a sudden, what was supposed to be your notes or homework assignment is covered in an epic collage of inked characters;  some are big and strong, others little and clever, and maybe there's even a self-portrait stick figure or two. Have you ever wished that you could breath life into these characters and your college-ruled canvas would turn into a battlefield of graphite champions and ballpoint pen-powered villains?  GraFighters, a Syracuse University startup, has made that dream a reality for #2 pencil wielding doodlers everywhere.

graFighters: An Online Game for Hand Drawn Characters

What is graFighters? Dave Chenell (@Dave_Chenell), co-founder of graFighters and iSchool graduate student, explains it as "an online game for doodlers that brings your drawings to life."  I couldn't have summed it up better myself. Dave and co-founder Eric Cleckner (@cleck) first had the idea to bring their characters to life during the 2009 spring semester while taking an iSchool course called Virtual Business 3.0. They were given an assignment to develop a business plan for 2025 and as Dave puts it "graFighters was one of our tamer ideas." Rather then waiting sixteen years, here they are two years later with a fully functioning, awesome product that is true to their original vision.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Keller Williams: One Man & His Twenty Digit Orchestra

See this post over at here...

Remember that kid in elementary school who was the first one to figure out that he could make a farting noise with his armpit? He was probably the same kid who was figuring our how to make strange sounds with his mouth and imitate animal calls instead of learning his multiplication tables. Keller Williams was, with almost no sliver of a doubt, that kid and he has perfected making it work to his advantage.

Although, at first appearance he seems like your regular dog and pony show of a guitarist, ultimately, the music and show he produces puts him on level of musician and showmanship that other guitarists only dream of reaching. If you closed your eyes while Williams was on stage at the Westcott this past Friday night, given the amount of music that  you were you hearing, you would have expected a full band (two guitars, bass, drummer, percussionist, horn section, and jaw harp player at the very least) to have been on stage. However, when you opened your eyes, there was Keller Williams, by himself, laying down and looping tracks with at least 6 different instruments and his vocals all in real time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#WTBI: Exponential (Potential) Awesomeness

See this post over at UNYStartups here...

[caption id="attachment_490" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Join the discussion on Twitter at #WTBI"][/caption]

Pitches have started rolling in and ideas are making their first few steps as possible startup opportunities. Some of the ideas will make you bubble with excitement while some maybe should be buried where they currently lie. Some are off-the-wall, drop-you-on-your-head zany while others are practical, sensible, and utilitarian at heart.

What they all have in common is the paths they will ultimately take are still hidden behind the fog of the future and any and all of them have the potential to make millions or come plummeting down like a meteor from the sky. You decide.


A bike sharing service like the ones that exist in Europe specifically developed for campus communities. One would register through the school website such as MySlice & student IDs would work to unlock the bikes and identify who is using that bike at any given moment. They would also indicate and the amount of time the bike is used. There would be stations all around campus and maybe in other popular locations ( i.e. In Syracuse: Downtown, Tops area, Wescott area, etc.) There would be an App that would work alongside this system to inform students if the bike station is full.

When's Lunch?

The first couple weeks of every semester can be a hectic time. Everyone is busy learning their new schedules and finding books. Scheduling lunch with friends can be a frustrating pain. How can you easily find times/places to eat lunch with all of your friends?The solution is simple. It's called "When's Lunch?" How it works is you upload your class/work schedule to the website. The site then creates a unique profile badge symbolizing your schedule. When your friends upload their schedules, the site's algorithm compares it to yours and generates a list of available times and places where lunch between friends would be most compatible. You will be able to tweak the settings to allow for >30min, >45min, or >1hour lunches. Also, it will accounts for location, giving you the closest eateries at the top of the list & multiple friends will be compare lists to allow for group lunches.

Friday, September 30, 2011

#WTBI: Is a “New-Thought” Already Expired?

See this post over at UNYStartups here...

Life moves fast and with developments in technology, more specifically, mobile communication technologies, life is accelerated to a speed that sometimes can feel incomprehensible. This leads me to pose the question: "By living and thinking in the present day, the here and now, are we actually living and thinking in the past?"

One of the more recent #WTBI class' gave us some insight into this question...

One entrepreneurial student pitched idea of installing wireless mobile device chargers (e.g. Powermat Products) across campus. Makes sense, we are increasingly so a very much mobile society, we all have multiple devices that somehow always seem to run out of juice at the wrong time.

Very quickly the class decided that this wasn't a feasible endeavor the technology is still too bulky, expensive and unreliable at this stage in it's development to be installed campus-wide.

So as the class began to iterate the idea, different iterations of the solution to how to charge mobile devices when on the go began to develop.

Solar, biomechanical and thermal power were all discussed, debated and ruminated on as potential charging options, meanwhile, as these iterations of the idea continued to surface @MDEredita was Google searching each one on the big screen.

As it turned out all of the technologies which we, the class, thought to be novel, innovative and yet-to-be-done not only already existed but had been in existence and on the market as early 2008. Which, to put in context, in the world of technology is ancient history. Put it this way in 2008 the first iPhone had just been released, Mac OS X Leopard was the next big thing, the Nintendo Wii was shaking up the gaming world, and the Segway was still supposed to be the future of urban transportation. Needless to say we have come a very long way in a very short amount of time, like I said: "Life moves fast."

Mike spoke up loud as he addressed the class and told us "Always, always, always assume your idea is already being done somewhere" he continued... "Use your resources' do the background research! You might have the greatest idea in the world but I can guarantee you someone else has already had the idea! Execution is what makes the difference between a good idea a great idea. Researching your idea is part of execution."

Needless to say it kind of felt like the proverbial rug had been pulled out from underneath us.

This brings me to the question I posed to you earlier, "By living and thinking in the present day, are we actually living and thinking in the past?" I would argue yes. Technology, ideas, and startups are moving and developing at blisteringly fast speeds and if we don't jump on board that high-speed idea-development train, as a class and as future entrepreneurs, we will be left developing products and ideas that already have gone to market and come to bare fruit. Pitches are starting, teams are forming, and if you asked me this class is ready to jump on board that train at full speed ahead. Stay tuned for the for the first round of pitches as this train begins its high speed journey on to developing, what will hopefully be, some truly exciting innovations.

Editor’s Note: Isaac Budmen (@ibudmen) is an employee, Senior Policy Studies Major at @SyracuseU, and Founder of

Thursday, September 15, 2011

#WTBI: Darwinism, Brain Hemispheres and Unconventional Teaching

Check out this article over at UNYStartups...

As students in #WTBI begin to roll up their sleeves and prepare to pitch, develop and grow ideas into future businesses and startup opportunities, this week, the class have been presented with two unique learning opportunities. One in the form of a real life, out there finding investment, and attempting to find their footing startup company iZoca. The other in the form of Brain Hemisphere, creativity and limitation discussion ranging from elements of Young Frankenstein to quotes from Dr. Spock lead by the eccentric, whimsical and passionate VPA Professor William Padgett.


Darwinism in Startups: iZoca comes to #WTBI

iZoca is a startup social networking tool that allows for the creation of groups within communities where the control and sharing of information is easily and readily approved. CEO and Founder, Jeffrey Goronkin, and CFO, Susan Bardack, came to #WTBI to discuss their product and hopefully receive feedback on what has become an $800,000 investment for them. Students, although timid at first, unleashed a hell fire driven fury of questions, comments, and knee jerk reactions to their product which was only stoked by Professor D’Eredita’s comments telling them “BE HONEST!”. Responses and questions ranged widely from “I think you have something here especially since Blackboard has such a bad webpage”, “You are pitching to the wrong audience, because I’d never use this having it pitched from you”, “How do you expect to make money from this? Have you made any money?” and  ”What’s it like pitching to investors?”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

#WTBI First Weeks: Inside Looking Out

Read this post over at

"Ideas are worth nothing, but they can grow into something that, with passion, can become a job" - @MDEredita

On any given day on the Syracuse University Campus you will find students dutifully walking between classes and working towards various parts of their degrees. Stop any number of students on the Quad, ask their majors and you are likely to hear about several different programs ranging from varying types of engineering to history to journalism to management and business administration. However, ask them "what they are going to do when they get out of college?" and  you are likely to get a response along the lines of "hopefully get a job" or "go for a masters degree." The former is something worth pursuing for many people, but in concern for the later there is a group on campus that is working to change the culture, philosophy and the answer.

Many students are completely unaware to the existence of the Student Sandbox, the Startup Community, and the Technology Garden and the immense resources and opportunities they hold. What they are even more unaware of is that the entry way into this world of ideas, innovations and inventions is closer then they might think in the form of the course "What's the Big Idea?"

"What's the Big Idea?" or #WTBI (follow the conversation on twitter) is a course founded on the pursuit and development of ideas into careers, jobs, and companies. Using an online social hub called "The Vine" to discuss problems, needs, wants and grow possible resolving ideas into real solutions. WTBI provides the resources necessary for students to realize their ideas and dreams and make them into realities and in the process throws out the idea of "going out and finding a job" and introduces the idea of "creating a job."

During the first few courses we have been introduced to the concept of evolving and creating ideas through pulling, gathering, and developing resources. As the semester progresses I hope to bring you the along on the exciting adventure that this class will endure and follow the progress of ideas as they more from just that into, hopefully, tangible services, products, and businesses.

Isaac Budmen is an employee, Senior Policy Studies Major at @SyracuseU, and Founder of Feel free to contact or follow him on Twitter @ibudmen

Monday, September 5, 2011 Realtime Proletariat Powered Awesomeness

See this article over at #RotoloClass page here... is a recently launched start-up that’s causing a lot of hype in online communities across the world wide web, garnering big users of the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Deadmau5, and Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter). It is essentially a community of listening rooms that users can join to listen, share, and discuss music while taking turns DJ-ing in the room. Coding Soundtrack Room

I know what you are thinking though... "So what? Why is this gaining popularity when I have so many other options for music?" Which is exactly the correct question to be asking. And the answer is there are three primary differences that separate from these other services, they are:

  •  real-time person-to-person sharing and discussion;

  •  commercial-free proletariat power; and

  •  sheer AWESOMENESS.

Real-time P2P: Pandora, Spotify and Myspace all allow for a variety of interaction and sharing between users, however, many of these features are forum or "wall writing" style. This is not to suggest that forum or wall interactivity is necessarily a bad thing, but part of’s genius is bringing total strangers or friends together with real-time chat. People come together in these listening rooms where they can, in real time, vote on the awesomeness or lameness of the music being played, potentially boot a DJ from the stage, and talk about topics ranging from the current song to the likeliness of a Bachman/Palin 2012 ticket.

Commercial-Free Proletariat Power: Free content usually comes at a price and that price is usually being subjected to limited choice or forced commercial marketing. For example you can only skip so many songs before Pandora tells you that you have to wait to skip more, or on Hulu (even if you pay for a subscription) you are still stuck with commercials interrupting your viewing pleasure. threw that whole concept out the door; not only is access to their extensive library of music totally free (read more about the legality of this here) but you can upload music from your own personal computer's library while accumulating your own Turntable Library, called a Queue, that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. More importantly it is the users choosing what they want to listen to, whether or not the song at hand plays all the way or gets skipped; it gives the power of choice back to the users that they have too long been deprived of by the likes of Pandora. The power returns to the Proletariat.

Sheer AWESOMENESS:As soon as you log onto your first listening room, the aesthetics immediately exude the fun-factor. In fact, the word AWESOME is plastered in large lettering right at the bottom of the page. The clean design brings the “club experience” as close to your fingertips as possible without actually being there and, combined with the imaginative and fanciful character avatars, makes for not only an excellent community experience but a visually exciting and fun one. When in the "Classic Rock" Room this weekend I asked the users I was hanging out with "Why is awesome?" and I think their excited and frenzied responses capture its spirit:
rammerjammer: because music feeds the soul

CtrlAltDefeat: It combines pandora with grooveshark with social interaction and video games

DFWT: None of that Facebook credit nonsense.

mr2a: Music & making new pals

DFWT: It's FREE. and it appeals to all listeners.

The creators of saw what the people, their future users, wanted, and they continue to strive to create a social place that provides an interactive, realtime, all around fun and awesome experience.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Budmen's Breads and Bikes

A dream of mine: Open up a bike / bakery & espresso shop. Stop by mid-ride, grab an Caffè Americano and a Scone to fuel up for the finishing miles, or have your bike fixed and hangout and chat for awhile, or if it's a rainy day bring a book and enjoy a cupcake and a macchiato.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vermont Outakes

Anytime there is a camera filming there are bound to be some funny moments caught on tape. Here is what I had left over from the "Finding Peace in Vermont" footage.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Routines: A Poem

Routine is something that I relish and that I fear,
A thing that I cherish & one that can cause me angst.
She can calm me down with a few familiar steps,
Or sometimes she makes me feel like I'm stuck on a merry-go-round.
I do not wish her ill, nor do I wish her well,
For my routines are apart of me and they keep me from standing still.

Monday, July 18, 2011


In a world driven by overly corporatized faceless bureaucracies chasing cash flows and taking huge steps away from their roots to capitalize on a vulnerable market it seems rare that we stumble across a company who, despite enormous growth, remembers their grassroots beginnings and proudly puts a face with their name.

Concept2 arguably has been and continues to be one of, if not the, most cutting edge leaders in the design of rowing machines and oars in the arenas of recreational and competitive rowing. You would be incredibly hard pressed to find a member of the worldwide rowing community who hasn't rowed with or on a concept2 rowing machine or set of oars. Granted they are not the only option out there in terms of rowing machines and oars, others exist, such as Waterower, Kettler, Lifespan, Crocker, and Stamina to name a few. However, comparatively all of these brands are largely unrecognized/unheard of in the rowing community and rarely have they ever been considered an even remotely close to alternative to the standards of precision, quality, and durability that Concept2 holds it's products to.

Given their dominance on the world, collegiate, junior and masters rowing stages it would be easy for a company which was founded by two men in a barn to forget their homegrown grassroots and become an money driven legal entity. This is not at all the case.

After showing up unannounced and uninvited, my family and I were greeted warmly and enthusiastically by multiple members of the Concept2 staff and despite being in the middle of a regular work day we were very graciously given a tour by a longtime employee, Will, who was at-once supremely humble and incredibly knowledgable about the companies history, production process and success over the years. Every employee we met along the way was happy to explain the various parts of the composite oar making process, demonstrate the various pieces, and to answer any questions we had.

I can't remember the last time we were warmly welcomed and found a business of any kind and size to be so hospitable and true to their roots as we found Concept2. Finding ourselves in the middle of a passionate and driven company with such passionate and welcoming employees served as a wonderfully warm reminder of why the rowing community is such a great community to have the privilege of being apart of.

Thank you to everyone we met while there, especially Will and Meredith.

Put your SWAG on.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

#SUvid and the Issue of Identity

During my siblings' very recent graduation, I had quite a long time to reflect on a local issue that has made national news in the past week: the #suvid.

In a quick summary of the event, an SU student of Asian heritage posted a video of a Caucasian student who was quite clearly intoxicated screaming racial and homophobic slurs at him that he videotaped the night before. Soon after posting it to youtube (it's since been taken down) the video went viral and spiraled a large amount of criticism of @SyracuseU and a debate about existing racial and community issues within the SU community.

Much of the criticism revolved around questions of the efforts that the university made to foster community and belonging for all students, staff and faculty of all races, religions and other differentiating backgrounds. Many remarks alluded to the very distinct separations between the various communities on campus, which are very much, through their own election, racially and belief system segregated.

This begs the question how does a university, an administration, or a body of students build a community with such largely diverse backgrounds? How do you foster community?

All of these events happening simultaneously for me: my siblings graduation from my high school, following the #suvid discussion and story unfold, and discussing these issues over dinner with friends brought me back to my highschool community.

I graduated in a class of approximately 650 students from Liverpool High School. Our class was hailed throughout the district, under the new administration, as one that helped build the High School community and gave Liverpool students the unifying sense of identity that they had been missing for a long time. Although, when I was there I bought into this as it was a contagious feeling and spirit to be apart of, ultimately, looking back on it in light of the #suvid there were some very distinct lines drawn between groups that often went unnoticed.

The most expounding example of this, I found in my yearbook from my senior year. In my math class senior year there was an African American girl (who for the purposes of anonymity I will call Jen) who I sat with the entire year. Jen was on the track team, was an excellent student and a person who I shared more laughs with then math related discussion. When it came time to sign yearbooks at the end of the year my yearbook, like many others, was passed around the room and signed with notes of affection and mementos of our time spent together. Jen left me a wonderfully sweet message talking about the great times we had in class together and wishing me luck at Syracuse the following year. She then signed it
Your Friend,

Jen (the Black girl)

At the time I'm not even sure I noticed it, but looking back on it now, I realize how profound that signature really is. Clearly Jen, who I thought of no different then any of my other friends of classmates, identified herself very differently with our classmates, and even myself, from the way I did.

And despite the fact that our class was receiving district wide recognition for building a positive and enlightened Liverpool Community and Identity at the High School, here this very stark piece of evidence was that, in fact, this community and more importantly identity wasn't as solidified as it was thought to be. I question though, if in Jen's shoes, how would I have not identified the same way she did?

The most recent demographics for Liverpool High School show that only 13.27% of the entire student body (2711 students) are of an ethnic minority, which means there is an astounding 86.73% of the population that is caucasian.

How can someone in a community so predominately homogenous not draw these distinctions when attempting to define their identity?

In a community like LHS where you are, approximately, 1 in every 10 students, it's hard not to notice your differences. However, if you are in a community like SU where ethnic minority students are 4 in every 10 students, (SyracuseU Demographics) and the demographics are such that there are the differences don't cause a single person to stand out, but these distinctions continue to exists, then what is it that causes these identities to form and continue to develop in the way they do.

We as individuals feel the need to differentiate, to draw lines in the sand. It helps us discover and learn who we are, to build an identity. If it is our innate instinct to build an original identity, one that can often be celebrated in our traditions and heritages, then how do we form a common identity or community with which to identify? If we accept that not all line drawing is bad, but that these very strong distinctions and differentiations are drawn and made between communities at large or small institutions like SyracuseU or LHS then how do we move forward and build an institutional society where incidents, such as #suvid, don't happen?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Opportunities in Losing

There's a mantra in the sport of rowing that, I have often thought, holds true for many other aspects of life: "hard work is the key to success." The opportunity to do hard work can reveal itself to us in many different ways, whether it is the actual physical labor and effort necessary to make a boat go fast or, a time commitment, that puts the pressure on everything else in our lives by making it far more difficult to manage and provide the necessary amount of time and attention to the other commitments in our lives.

Rowing opens the door to both of these avenues of hard work. The early morning practices in the middle of the week and on weekends requires the discipline to get the rest of your work done early enough so you can get enough sleep. The physical deficit that the workouts leave because of the immense calorie expenditure, lactic acid build up, and the huge amount of wattage required to execute to workouts properly also makes doing the necessary recovery work a much more difficult task then it would otherwise be.

After missing a goal that you have been working towards all year, a flood of thoughts and emotions can rush through your mind. Thankfully during these times we often have a role model to turn to, in our case, Coach. As we came off the water after just missing qualifying for the Grand Finals he said to us,
"Life sometimes gives us unique opportunities to handle disappointment with grace."

As I walked back to the hotel and reflected on what coach said and struggled with the word "opportunity" in reference to losing a race, but as I thought about it, two other quotes I'm rather fond of popped into my head:
"Anyone can win, but it takes a real champion to know how to take a loss."

"A man is introduced to his true character in the face of adversity."

Losing or being disappointed is being faced with adversity, lets face it, no one wants to lose in competitive athletics. That said, it is easy to win, to celebrate, to finally get what you have worked so hard for, but to come out on the short end of that is being faced with a whole lot of adversity. It leaves us with a decision that I think defines, at least part of, who we are: Do we accept the result, congratulate our competition and look toward the future and how to improve? Or, do we ruminate on the result, cursing the situation, the people around us, ourselves, and the work we did?

The former is the way I will always aspire to lose because, I think, in life we do a lot more losing then we do winning, but learning to lose with grace and class opens the door for you to learn something about yourself and the task at hand each time. Whether that is learning how to push yourself harder in the 3rd 500meter stretch of a race, to re-evaluate your approach on a climb, or how to prepare better for future endeavors. By accepting a loss, we own it. And when we own it the potential to learn and improve is exponential. So I suppose the word "opportunity" when referring to a loss is, although it is not an opportunity I'd like to take advantage of too often, is in fact the proper word to use.

Keep your SWAG on.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SU Men's Crew Spring Season 2011 Video

A spring season wrap-up video, thanks to Chip Keyes and Kyle Daugherty for helping with the filming and thank you to each and every one of my teammates for making it an unforgetable year.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

If by Rudyard Kippling

A poem introduced to me by my good friend and teammate Kynan Reelick after a indepth heart-to-heart road trip conversation...

If by Rudyard Kippling

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, 
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating, 
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with triumph and disaster 
And treat those two imposters just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken 
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, 
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
And never breath a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch; 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; 
If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - 
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, 
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Marvelously Minuscule Magnificent Moments

We see it everywhere, from commercials capitalizing on societies most recent medical condition, "beiber fever," advertising the latest-and-greatest 12G network and intellectual phone with multiple apps and built in turn by turn directions to keep you "on the go" and "connected" while getting you where you need to be. It's like a vortex of social commentary, toddler bathroom humor, and Einstein-esq marketing that we are rapidly and all too willingly wrapped into and frankly it's easy to get lost in this sea of megabyte and 1080p filled clutter. I know there is times when I certainly do.


So how do we find a solution, even if it is a temporary one, to what feels like an unavoidable and untreatable information overloaded influenza? Well, as Robert Brault once said (and every parent/teacher/grandparent/coming-of-age-movie in our lives said in one form or another) "Enjoy the little things"


Although wasting away a Sunday evening on facebook may be easy and about as intellectually stimulating as watching Rosie O'Donald and Charlie Sheen debate the particulars of induced pluripotent stem cell research on West Virginian Mosquito populations (now that I think about it, that might actually be a wonderful way to spend a sunday evening...) Instead unplug yourself from the social network grid and enjoy those marvelously minuscule magnificent moments such as closing your eyes and listening to the thunderstorm outside or   going for a walk and wishing everyone you see a good day or making dinner with your roommates or waking up a roommate from a nap with a fog horn. Whatever it is that gets you to take a step back, slow down and really enjoy just how wonderful the little moments can be when we don't have 6,000 different emails, tweets, and itunes updates running through our brains. So until next time go out and enjoy the little moments and remember to always keep your SWAG on.




A little moment I got to enjoy and share with my class recently

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Speculation on a Generation: Millennials & Linear Education

Does high school as it currently exist really prepare those of us in the millennial generation for the rigors of college? I'm not talking about the demanding course load, finesse of balancing one's time, and ultimately striving for a degree (even though I'm not convinced that it does that sufficiently either).

What I'm talking about the is managing of expectations for millennial when they get to college. All the way since Pre-school our generation has been raised on the idea of "participation awards" and with the concept of a linear education: Elementary > Middle > High School > College > Grad School > Career.

We haven't come to this expectation of a linear education or a linear life through witnessing the generations before us live their lives that way, but rather, because we were told we must have this expectation because it is this linear path that "will lead us to that period of utopian happiness in life that is retirement and if you don't follow it well, good luck to you".

Here's a fun fact: Richard Branson (Virgin Mobile), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple and Pixar), Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Disney, and Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Beauty Products), all who are arguably some of the most well known, most innovative and wealthiest of people in the last 100 years either never went to or dropped out of college. Now that doesn't really match up with the idea of a "linear" education/life, but I hardly think you could argue these people are unhappy. That's because these people found what too many kids are sent off to college without and told to find without much support, they found something they were passionate about. They found that thing that every morning when they wake up makes them not only get out of bed but want to. 

So how does this tie back into high school education? We need to ditch the idea of "linear education/life = happiness" because, the greatest advice my Mother has ever given me is "Life is not a straight line" and the sooner we accept that and the sooner we stop telling kids they need to follow this or that system or program to be happy, the sooner they can stop worrying about the system and majors and whatever else it is that was pounded into millennials heads as essentials for happiness and the sooner they can find those things they are truly passionate about. If they find that thing and base their careers around that the chances of finding happiness before retirement, in my opinion, go exponentially up.

Some quotes to reflect on...

"Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration" - Thomas Edison

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

"Choose a job you like and you will never have to work a hard day in your life" - Confuscius

"Put your SWAG on." - IB

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Train of Thought: Pre-Race

Nerves are something all athletes experience pre-competition. They can be either aid performance or if left out of control they can prove to be a major hinderance. As one becomes more a more seasoned racer, competitors develop techniques and rituals to focus their nerves and help them perform. For me I have a number of different techniques and little superstitions that help me focus those nerves into a competitive edge and help me to put my SWAG on. Here was my thought process this morning as I woke up and went through the before a race routine.

5:45am Hotel Room... Wake-up to my alarm, "The Entertainer." Terrible sleep last night. Need coffee...


5:48am I really should get out of bed. Okkkkk shower, wait, where are my contacts? Right, on the desk.

5:56am I think it's too early for the whole "a shower will wake you up" concept to work. Oh well, time for the race day checklist

6:00am Coxbox? Yep. SpeedCoach? Got it. Clothing: Trou short and long, racing tank, wool socks, sweatshirt, rain jacket, long sleeve am I going to want more layers? Well I can always throw a pair of gloves in my bag just incase..

6:07am Lobby... There's the coaching staff. Race in 4 hrs; Butterflies in the arms and shoulders. What's that smell? Coffee? Yes please!

6:17am Driving down Route 13... Keep the mood light, a little laughter always helps, we are still 4 hours until go time there is no point in getting nervous yet. Mmmm Ithaca Bakery? Expresso?? Oh hell yea.

6:32am Weigh-ins... These are always such awkwardly funny times... First one on the scale, quick glance around, haha yep all eyes on me; that's alright I'm just as guilty when it comes to eyeing other coxswains weight... I feel like I'm going to be heavy this morning; 127.9lbs ha not too bad...

6:45am Lane Draw and the last of the weigh-ins... It's kinda funny how we all look each other up and down eyeballing at body fat precentages and comparing size to weight; It's not like the shape or size of us is what drives the boat... Oo my turn for lane draw; Let's see.... Lane 2, Ok good. I can work with that.

7:00am Boat Bay.... Approximately 50 minutes till the guys show up; time to shake these butterflies ok let me check over the boat while it's not crowded down here.

7:40am Changing Area... Boat is all tight. Time to empty my toolbag of everything except the essentials. 2 Empacher Steering tools? Check. 10mm dual wrench? Yup. Extra spacers, washer, nuts and bolts? Good to go. Ok breath a little.

8:20am Ok racing is underway for the day, over an hour till hands on. Close eyes and go through the land marks and the race plan, remember the points we need to focus on.

9:35am-10:20am Hands on. Launch. Warm-Up. Back into stake boat. Go time.




For me focusing my nerves requires me to dial in and make sure I have everything prepped and ready to go. I allows me to focus on the race itself and, hopefully, eliminate any outside distractions caused by mechanical errors. Going through the race plan in my head and the landmarks assures me that when I get to those points I'll be ready. Also I never leave the dock without my white nike hat, which hasn't been washed since my freshmen year, because of my own superstitions concerning washing it. Consider it my own, kind of gross, lucky charm. Enjoy your weekend, thanks for reading, and keep your SWAG on.


Friday, April 15, 2011

An Excerpt from 'Dining with Giants'

I recently started to write my book 'Dining with Giants' a humorously self-depreciating and introspective story about my time in rowing and the greater life lessons it has taught me. Here's a quick excerpt from Chapter 1 for interested readers...

"By the time I was 9 years old I'd spent the majority of my childhood swimming and sailing, both recreationally and competitively. My family owned a small fleet of small sailing vessels that ranged from a competitor of the ever popular Sunfish to a 1970's Sears catalog sailboat called a Snark, to which, my overly zealous eccentric cat loving grandparents had taken the most permenant marker they could find and had drawn cats all over. Needless to say I spent more time in the Sunfish. We spent the better part of our weekends traveling between swim meets and down at Onondaga Lake, where we spent more time with the sail boats upside down in the water then actually sailing because my brothers and I found it a more of rush to try and flip them upright then sailing them. That summer of 1999, my mother recieved a pamphlet in the mail advertising different summer camps for kids to participate in. Knowing her three children who when sent to regular summer camps, you know the camps where kids get to play ultimate frisbee and glue macarroni to a paper plate and take it home for their parents to throw out, didn't really get along. Not because the camps didn't provide wonderful activities, but because her three children spent more time checking their watches for when they would get picked up then they did kicking the ball during a game of kickball.

So when she saw an advertisement for "Syracuse Charger's Learn-To-Row Camp" and knowing that her children already loved playing in and on the water she signed us up.

I don't know if I can say for sure that on day one I was hooked, but since that day there hasn't been a single year since where I haven't been on the water."

Enjoy and keep your SWAG on.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

A lesson in French: Souplesse

This post is dedicated to Chris Lutz who has been a devout follower and whose interest in my writing inspired me to get back to doing it.

While reading a number of different books on cycling a word I have stumbled across (different then stumbleupon) a number of times is the word Souplesse. It's a word that almost inspires a sort of holy reverence in the writing of the authors. Before I make my attempt at explaining souplesse let us look at the origin of the word:


Etymology: souple + -esse

From Latin word supplex meaning supple or yielding

Now as we can infer from this souplesse in its literal meaning is to exude the qualities of suppleness, however, as it relates to cycling that isn't exactly what it means. In cycling it refers to the smoothness and gracefulness of an athletes pedal stroke. We all have that image of someone mashing the pedals as they try to get to the top of a hill, it's rough, painful and usually involves them making movements like they are suffering from extreme constipation. Now to say a cyclist moves with souplesse is to say that when they are in the extreme pain trying to get to the top of the hill rather then making the jerky constipated-esq movements they move their feet in smooth graceful arcs that turn in perfect circles around the center of the crank axle and if you looked at their upper body you could almost mistake them for sitting at a bar or piano enjoying sometime to themselves because of the total relaxation they are able to maintain over the upperbody while suffering in their legs so immensely.

This I think is one of the most beautiful things about sport: The higher level the competition, the more seasoned the athlete and the closer they are to perfecting their stroke the sport almost takes on all the grace, delicacy, poise and beauty to it like that of a ballet. So I suppose in theory you could apply the use of souplesse in cycling to other sports, because, like in rowing when 8 seasoned rowers at what is their peak in a training cycle the art, balance, and rhythm which they move the boat together if slowed down is almost more art then sport. However, as is the differentiator is when it comes down to it these athletes may perform with the grace and beauty of a ballerina but they are also racing with the aggression and power of a raging bull. I think thats what makes someone who can race with souplesse so revered, the beauty and the aggression hang in a wonderful balance, like ying and yang or day and night, and, as rowers know all to well, all it takes is for one to slightly out balance the other and the souplesse is gone.

Keep your SWAG on.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Coxswain's Corner: Clemson Update Part 2

Final update from Sunny Clemson, South Carolina on our Spring Training Trip

MTV Cribs: Clemson Edition

MTV Cribs Spin-off from Clemson, SC with a couple Teammates

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coxswain's Corner: Clemson Update

Update from South Carolina Training Trip

Be excellent and remember to put that SWAG on.

TB Room


Team Budmen being represented at Big Tuna's House

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday Voeckler Ride

Yesterday after taking two midterm exams in the morning, I decided what better way to relieve the stress of studying the past few days then to jump on the bike. Granted it was only around 40 degrees out and lightly raining, but thats like summer after the insane snowfall we had on Monday which resulted in the only snowday we've had since I enrolled here at Syracuse.

Earlier this week after watching French National Road Champion, Thomas Voeckler, power to an superb win in Paris-Nice I was inspired to do some reading on this individual, who is arguably one of the more interesting riders in the peloton given his tendency to surge off the front of the group and succeed while others would consider it suicide. The most interesting thing I learned about Voeckler was his approach to training is drastically different then many of the other big names in cycling. Unlike others who post similar results to Voeckler's, (ie. winning, races, stages and occasionally wearing the TDF yellow jersey) he completely disregards watts, power meters, heart rate zones and other mainstays of sport science; Voeckler's definition of training is: find out what direction the wind is blowing from and head straight into it.



Thomas Voeckler, French Road National Champion 2010 

Inspired by the audacity and nostalgia of the French Champions approach to training I decided to give it a try. So I made my way out to Jamesville and when it came time to decide which of the 3 climbs to take I took the one that went directly into the wind and proceeded to climb up hill into the wind for the next 45 minutes. I can say with complete confidence that it was the of most difficult and adverse conditions I have ever experienced. After coming home and checking out what the windspeed outside was I discovered I was riding uphill into 25-30mph winds the entire time, needless to say I felt pretty enthused after.I don't know if there is something to Mr. Voeckler's training style, I'll have to continue to explore it and see in what ways my fitness improves. Check out the elevation profile from my ride (courtesy of MapMyRide) and I look forward to keeping everyone updated on our training trip to South Carolina this week.




Keep your SWAG on and be excellent.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Swag Saddle

Just thought I'd update you all on my most recent project that I'm undertaking. Planning on screen printing a new saddle for my bike that will hopefully end up looking like this...


Man I love that SWAG.

20 Degree Weather Riding

Video of the last bit of Ken's and my ride today in the sunny 20 degree Syracuse weather. I'll post the vimeo version later once it finishes uploading- till then enjoy, be excellent and keep that swag on.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

30 Degrees Outdoors = Salt Caked Roads

Worst part about the warm weather after Syracuse snowfall? Other then all the sidewalks in the University area temporarily becoming small streams and rivers that students must ford in order to get to class, where these capillaries of water and small rapids don't reach the road the pavement is covered in what looks like white chalk. However, it is not chalk but rather the remnants of the extreme amount of salt that CNY uses to keep its roads relatively clear when heavy snow decides to fall. This would all be well and good if it didn't get kicked up by cars speeding past me while on my bike, because not only does it make for a very putrid taste in my mouth but also leads to awful coughing fits if I happen to breath in just when a car flies past. At least the taste is something a little post-ride chocolate milk can't get rid of and hopefully I will have coughed out all the inhaled salt dust by the time I go to bed tonight. That's all I have for today; check out the sweet Team Budmen Sticker placement (below) which was the superb work of Steph Keefe. Till next time keep your swag on and be excellent.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Blue Mountain Skiing

Quick video from a couple weeks ago when Nigel and I hit big Blue Mountain; kinda rough footage but thats because it was a Flip Video strapped to my helmet. Enjoy!


Friday Week 5 vs. Friday Week 6

As my previous updated pointed out last Friday I was able to enjoy the endorphin induced euphoria that the beautiful weather and riding with two of my good friends provided. Even though we came in from our ride covered in road grim and mud from all the melting snow looking something like this...


Ok maybe not quite as muddy as Big George is here but we felt just as badass. To give those of you who haven't spent an extended amount of time in Syracuse a view into how unpredictable the weather really can be whereas last week it was a beautiful and sunny 64 degrees here's what my commuter bike currently looks like parked outside of the Physics building...


A total opposite and very unpleasant view compared to the beautiful sunshine of last Friday. However, as I often say "You win some, you lose some" and living in Syracuse the unpredictable weather is part of the thrill of everyday life. Although, currently thoughts of warm weather, shorts and t-shirts is but a figment of SU Students imaginations only 2 more weeks and the team and I will be jumping on a bus and heading to, what is hopefully, sunny Clemson, South Carolina for a week. Be excellent.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Val's Magic Embroidering Machine Video

So maybe magic is a little unrealistic but with the way the my cousin, Valerie, operates the embroidery machine with such expertise it's like a conductor's prowess for directing a 40 piece grand symphony. Check it out! 

Spring Weather Scones and 8% Gradients

Last Friday in Syracuse it was an unheard of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 17.77777778 degrees Celsius for those readers in Canada and abroad, and there isn't anything like warm weather that gives me a hankering to get outside on my bike. After months of riding the rollers and stationary bike when comparison to riding outside for the first time was like eating english muffins plain for 3 months straight and then finally enjoying a beautiful fresh out of the oven vanilla bean scone (for those of you who don't know Sconology is a hobby of mine; it basically consists of enjoying all things Scone related, You could probably call me a Sconologist). 

Given the good weather AzarKen and I decided it would be a superb idea to jump on the saddle and go for a ride! However, despite my exuberance for being back on the road, riding the rollers/stationary bike and running dome stairs does not make it easy to jump right back on the saddle and start by climb 8% gradients for a number of miles the first day back. Needless to say by the time we got to the top of our second climb of the day after fighting 28mph winds on the way up all three of us had visited, what I like to call, the pain cave: all of our heart rates were up around 180bpm, our legs were filled with lactic acid, sweat was gushing out of every pore and the 2 cups of coffee I had that morning were no longer seeming like such a good idea. One of our days groupetto members, I wont mention who, was kind enough to leave a good part of his breakfast on the side of the road (The kid's still got a serious set of pelotas on him though). Thankfully, as Sir Isaac Newton once stated what goes up must come down and as we stood at the top of the hill and looked out over the town with all the adrenaline pumping, we hit the decent and were flying down at wonderful speeds, thats always when the thought hits you "that climb was totallly worth it dude." Although Friday's group ride gave me that taste of spring that I've been longing for, ultimately, the big benefit is it was the kick in the rear I needed to push my training plan's intensity up a bit so when the 17 degree Celsius days start coming 7 days a week I can tackle the climbs even faster. Till next time be excellent, keep that swag on and check out the preliminary Team Budmen Jersey design.



**I know that teaching is spelled wrong inside the collar; the whole thing is still under revision**