thoughts and ruminations

at this point, this blog is a collection of thoughts about different topics.
at some point in the future, may try to wrap around a specific topic.

Only concrete results matter; tireless effort is just the stuff you do to get there.

Chip R. Bell

Altra Comes Through Big

Altra Shines

ALTRA-LogoI just had an experience with Altra support that was so remarkable that I had to comment on it.

Falling Short

I had a number of customer service interactions over the past few days and the very different levels of service by each company provided such contrast to the experience I just had with Altra that it made that interaction stand out boldly!

  • My wife attempted to contact another running shoe manufacturer prior to my attempt to contact Altra and she’s still waiting for a reply. This is the worst.
  • My sister had a bad experience with a location of a running shoe store chain and experienced a variety of service from them: some feeble attempts at customer recovery, followed by more earnest attempts, followed by them completely vanishing. Some good people, some weak. Super inconsitent.
  • Yesterday I had a typical experience with a tech vendor that we work with where I asked a specific question and was provided the standard generic document. If there had been any understanding of this common concept by the support rep, a simple “yes” would have been so much more useful. Instead, it was easy to see the support philosophy behind their department. Minimally trained staff entering queries into a knowledgebase & spitting out the first thing that came back.
  • Then another tech vendor that I work with requires me to get extensively involved in each request with many, many back and forth interactions, the need to correct support staff, the repeated need to clarify things over & over again often without any resolution.

Why So Good?

So what happened with Altra that was so great?

  • I hit their website and there were a variety of ways to connect with them.
    • They have live chat (which I didn’t use).
    • They have email and phone support options available.
    • They have ready social links.
  • I took a look at the Altra Twitter stream and could see that they respond constantly to their customers.
  • I looked at the Altra Facebook page and could see that they respond consitently there.
  • I chose to Facebook message them as my request needed a bit of explantation & it was an out of the blue request.
    • altra-instinct-1.5(I’d bought my first pair of Altras (Instinct 1.5) at a Road Runner Sports gently used sale and later noticed a weird bump in the midsole on one of the shoes. As it was at a sale where all sales were final and I got a chance to try them around the store, buying them was really on me. I also noticed after the fact that these were an older model that are on sale for just a bit more pretty much everywhere. I was wondering if Altra might be able to swap these out for me which they definitely didn’t have to do.)
  • So my Facebook message was responded to in 12 minutes directing me to email one of their support stuff. Pretty damn awesome if you ask me.
  • I emailed their support person and was responded to in 7 minutes. I responded & then they did again & closed the loop within a matter of minutes. Awesome.
  • They also didn’t need my shoes back (trusted my situation though they’d never seen them) and just requested that I give them to a local charity. I thought that was pretty awesome too.
    • I’m just now realizing that for all they know, I never even had a pair of Altras.
  • And throughout the whole process, the interactions just seemed so nice and personable.

Fan For Life

Well, I’d done a couple runs in the shoes before I contacted them and other than the weird bump in the midsole and I really liked the fit. I do like the whole zero/low drop thing so I like the philosophy of their shoes.

I just never expected to have such a positive experience with them. But right now, they’ve really stood out over pretty much every company that I’ve had recent interaction with.

I’m definitely going to look for ways to find shoes of theirs that work for me. They definitely are doing some things right over there!

Intentional Reading in 2014

I need to give a shout out to Chris Conrey who has gotten me way more intentional about my reading with his post on reading. So far in 2014, I’m off to a good start.

Reading With Purpose

I’ve always loved to read and try to use my time wisely but reading Conrey‘s post gave me some ideas to better formalize my reading efforts.

Always At Hand

Reading on iPhone KindleHe talked about having something at hand to read at all times. I pretty much do this as I have the Kindle app on my Kindle, iPad and iPhone. With his comment though, I embraced reading more on my iPhone (which I’d done in the past) as a very viable way to get more time in. I also use the Audible app on my iPhone to listen to Audiobooks while I drive & workout and that is always at hand.

No Downtime

Chris also talked about reading anytime you have a couple minutes to spare. I found this to resonate as well. While I had done that when I had decent blocks of free time, I figured I might as well extend that to apply to any open time. So I made an internal commitment to fill all my downtime (whether it be waiting or doing something where my mind was free) with reading. I started reading more during stretching in the mornings, while I was brushing my teeth, any time at all spent waiting for someone and it’s snowballed from there.

Track Your Books

Goodreads Reading ChallengeChris also mentioned using Goodreads to track your reading and listed his monthly read totals in 2013. I’ve been on Goodreads for years & have mainly used it as a place to note books that I’d like to read or at least investigate in the future. I didn’t realize that you can set a challenge to read a certain number of books in a given  year though & then use that to help you keep track. I always do well with challenges like this so it sounded interesting. I went in to my Goodreads account & tried to update the list of books I’d read in 2013 and set up a challenge for myself (52 books in 2014). Since then, I’ve been better about tracking what I’m reading and the books I finish.

Anyway, I’m already way ahead of where I was in 2013 at this time and I thought I read a lot back then. Being more intentional about it and committing to use the tools has been super helpful.

Good reading in 2014!


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Really Proud of My Kids

This has been a good week for my kids.

They got report cards and both (of them in school) did really well.

We’d been working with my oldest to make sure her grades did not drop and had determined that if they were at a certain threshold that she’d have to put ballet on hold to concentrate on her studies. She really rocked things in the last part of the year & brought everything up across the board so we didn’t have to do that. She, my wife and I were all very happy about that.

ballet shoes

on flickr by jeff medaugh

Then we got to go watch the kids dance (ballet) this week too. They do parent’s viewing once a year so we really never see much of what is going on with all their classes. With the younger one, it was great to see her and she is doing really well. It was quite similar to the parent viewings we’ve had over the years. It was great.

With the older one, I was pretty shocked by the intensity and difficulty of the classes. I was blown away by how much work it is; how serious it is. And I guess I have to say that I am extremely impressed that my older one loves it so much and is so devoted to it. It’s definitely not goofing around fun. It’s work. And hard, technical, attention demanding, long session work. I loved to see how committed she was to it and how well she did. I don’t know that I would have expected that.

Anyway, it’s been a good week and on top of that, they’re just awesome (albeit normal kid challenging) people to be around.

I’m very lucky.

Hello 2014


It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I started blogging regularly a while back, became disenchanted, got hurt (I was blogging about my fitness efforts a good bit), got sick and came up with a bunch of excuses why I stopped.

I do have goal to blog everyday. It’s not my primary goal but it’s there. That being said, I wanted to start out the new year on the right foot & see where it goes.

Looking Back on 2013

It’s late & I don’t really have anything urgent to say so I’ll just say that I’m quite thankful for what I have. In some ways 2013 was a rough year but overall, it was still wonderful. I have an amazing family that I love and that alone makes me very lucky. We had a wonderful holiday, spent lots of time together and had lots of fun.

Looking Forward to 2014

Right now, I’m actually searching for an iPhone or iPad accountability calendar app but I’m not finding one.

I read a cool year recap post by Jason Moffatt where he listed a bunch of stuff like numbers of surf sessions, massages, yoga classes and then other cool stuff that he did over the year. I thought it was very neat to be able to look back on the past year like that & that it might be something good for the family to try to do. Jason talked about his bucket list and accountability calendar so I’ve been surfing for some background on them. I haven’t found anything great on accountability calendars but I’m still looking.

I also saw another inspiring post by Dave Cooke on hitting his 10,000 km biking goal.

I figured that deciding to track some things and set some goals right now will make life more intentional and that compiling a list like this will be much easier if I start tracking things from the start. So absent any awesome apps or services, I threw together a Google spreadsheet with the things I’m going to track as separate rows and column headers of week numbers. I’ll throw totals in each column. We’ll see if that changes as we get into it but that’s what I’ve got to start.

Lee Goals

Heather and I talked about some things to track and are going to start with the following and add as we go along:

  • ballet practices (or ballet buns)
  • gym visits for Heather and me
  • running miles for Heather and me
  • biking miles for Heather and me
  • SUP sessions
  • hikes
  • books read (by all of us)
  • blog posts written
  • and then any other firsts

Heather and I look to have our first Spartan Race this year & she is talking about a marathon. We’ll see where that goes but at least we have something to start.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Hope 2014 is a wonderful year for you!