What I have learned working with scientists in my time at Amazon


What I have learned working with scientists in my time at Amazon about building algorithms for solving business problems.

For the past few years I have been working with Amazon’s Machine Learning University. My role has been to help them scale and reach more Amazonian’s. We accomplished this by creating a learning platform with supportive course content, an emphasis on strong visual and interactive learning. We basically flipped the classroom. My focus has always been to put the experience of the learner first. Providing a clean design, removing noise, with engaging content so the student can focus on learning. The approach has been a great success in teaching Amazonian’s to solve Amazon business problems with Machine Learning.

Enough on what I did and back to what I have learned.

I think one of the first lessons was the importance of gathering data. Data is at the core of understanding the problem. We often approach problems in business or personal for that matter without taking in good data. We lack a complete understanding of the problem.

Until you have data you really can’t build an understanding of what ground truth is. This is very important because everything builds from ground truth. You must explore and visualize your data to establish this. You need to make sure you understand the details that may be hidden in your data. Establish things like context, sentiment, frequency to establish relevancy. Remove the unimportant stuff and focus on what is really important. To do this you may have to do the math, yes, the math. Math is the magic used manipulate and visualize your data. This may sound simple but remember its math. There may be some work to do as you build your algorithm and try and find ground truth. You may need to do some tuning, adjusting your algorithm there is not always a predefined path but more of a process or framework to help you get to your final output.

It is at this point, the point when you see things clearly. But that’s not it. There is something bigger than solving the problem. What? As you know solving problems can sometimes be like putting your finder on the dike. The problem may come again or one like it.

The real value comes in prediction. Now that you can see clearly what has happened in the past and today using insights from your data you can start to predict what will happen next. It’s something Amazon does very well. You know “I see that you purchased that guitar, would you like to look at guitar for dummies or perhaps something to tune that thing please. It’s the secrete sauce, yes, I’d like to solve my problems in the future.

There is one more thing and it maybe my favorite. In my time at Amazon I have discusses quantum physics, robots & rocket science and lots of other geeky fun topics sometimes while playing ping pong. What a privilege that has been to work with some truly inspiring people at Amazon. That said the real insights I gained where from working with the amazing people at Amazon. It’s their drive to solve problems, innovate, willingness to work hard and learn as they go. I’ve worked with some of the smartest people I have ever met here. Many of them are physicists, mathematics masters and rocket scientists. Yet they don’t pretend to know the all answers but they do know how to work hard to get them. I also appreciated the great leadership I worked with in my time at Amazon. Nothing happens in an organization without true leaders and inspiring people who establish clear expectations and remove obstacles it’s truly part of the algorithm for success.


Instructional and Learning Experience Design


Here is how we fix things!


eerst-euthanasie-bij-zwaar-demente-patientLook around you.
Someone close to you is struggling. depression, anxiety, bullying, health issues, dependancies or feeling alone.
You are the KEY. Find them. It may not be who you think. They may be really great at hiding their pain. Look into there eyes, love them, listen to them, lift them up, give them your hand.
What do you think would happen if everyone found someone who is struggling and let them know that they are there for them?

Road trip to La Push Washington on the Olympic Peninsula


La Push map

Click for Google Map

I thought I would share some sensory from my trip to the Olympic Peninsula. It was in June to celebrate my oldest sons Bryce’s Birthday.We started by talking the Edmonds Kingston Ferry

over to the Olympic Peninsula. Once across we would take State Highway 307 turning on 104 north. We followed 104 north till we hit Interstate 101. Follow 101 around the top of the Peninsula to the Pacific Ocean.

I love this drive. Here is a music video I created out of the GoPro footage on the Jeep. It was really my Teardrop campers first real outing. I am very please on how it has trended out. Few more tweaks and I think I will have it setup they way I want.

We camped in a camp ground out side of Forks Wa Called More Campground. Great place to stay but can be sold out in the Summer. You may now that is vampire country. Its the setting for the Twilight series. If you are a fan this place is a must.

If you do make it over to the further most tip of Washington state there are some fantastic beaches, parks and viewpoint. I recommend taking a several days and driving around the loop. You have to see the rain forest. For sure explore the Olympic National Park.  I love this resource by the National Parks Conservation Association.

La Push - Cave island

La Push – Cave island

We defiantly found lots cool places to hang out and explore. La Push beach is one of my favorite beaches in the Pacific. We spent some time there. I love photography and there was lots of birds including one of my favorite to photograph is the Bald Eagle. I was able to get nice on close to one for some great photos.

American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle

It was a great place to watch birds, boats and people. Lots of sand to play on. We watched the Coast Gard guys towing in a fishing vessel it seemed to almost get away from them at one point.



In-between the camp ground and La Push we found a great little place on the river to kayak, cool down in the water and have lunch.



I would have liked to have spent more time on the Peninsula but it was just a weekend get-a-way. We’ll have to get back out there soon.

Happy travels!










Is Dave Grohl the real master of puppets?

One of my favorite bits on both the Muppets and Sesame Street was the interactions with real musicians and performers. I loved how most of them seemed to have fun and get into the part. I am glad to see Dave Grohl finally getting his 15 minutes of fame here.

Check out more in this article by one of my favorite music sites https://ultimateclassicrock.com.

Suffering In Silence

Garden of Silence

The Garden of Silence is a meditative space at the end of Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, India

Love these dark and lovely lyrics by Willie Nelson. I think it is true that many of us suffer, blame others and don’t see what others may be going through. As my dad would always say. We’re in this together!



I think I should speak to you, stranger.
Your problem is clear now to me.
You think that the whole world’s against you,
An’ you tell everyone that you see.

Just suffer in silence, speak no bitter words.
The world offers no sympathy.
Though trouble surrounds you, an’ you long to be heard,
Just suffer in silence, like me.

I’ll give you a lesson in living,
And I hope it stays with you a while.
You’re the reason for all of your sorrows,
So just suffer in silence, and smile.

Just suffer in silence, speak no bitter words.
The world offers no sympathy.
Though trouble surrounds you, an’ you long to be heard,
Just suffer in silence, like me.

By Willie Nelson

From the album The Party is Over

Seattle’s Mojo!

As Seattle old timer. I think Amazon is adding to the Seattle vibe in a very positive way. This is also do to Paul Allen’s development of the South Lake Union area. It went from being a run down/warehouse part of town to a booming and modern area of town. I have been spending more time town town lately and Seattle is really hiding its grungy under belly.


Here is the article that inspired this post about Renee Erickson opening a restaurant and bar in the Amazon Spheres.



Lyrics of the week – Carry On Wayward Son

cover_56177862016_rKansas has been a favorite of mine since I was a teen. I listened to Leftoverture on my record player over and over. I’m sure my parents were sick of it. I love their sound with all the strings, the story telling. Of course I spent a great deal of time looking at the album cover art. I miss that about music. I can easily spend a few hours just looking at my album covers in my collection. Almost a lost art.

“Carry On Wayward Son”

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more


Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreaming,
I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man,
Well, it surely means that I don’t know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about, I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune,
But I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more no!

Carry on,
You will always remember
Carry on,
Nothing equals the splendor
Now your life’s no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry,
Don’t you cry no more,

No more!

Lyrics of the Week – Every Breath You Take


Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take

I’ll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay

I’ll be watching you

Oh can’t you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches
With every step you take
Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake

I’ll be watching you

Since you’ve gone I been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby, please


Every move you make
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you


Family adventures throw back to 2014 – Wonders of GoPro

We have an adventures family. Here is a video from the archives. It’s a short my boys did in 2014. Pretty much captures the previous years adventures. Covers the gamut from Snowboarding at Stevens Pass, bike ridding in Sun River Oregon, Jeep 4×4 rides, Gold Bar Nature trails, Bryce hitting the skate parks around Seattle and even some Venice Beach in Southern California.

We still do a lot of these type of activities and even capture many of them on film. I’ve heard whisperings of a Wonders of GoPro II in the works. I hope so Evan and Alec.



Peace out!




My kids got some video skills. Prince Blaine/Domino’s Music video!


I’ve got some talented kids for sure. Yeah I know all parents say that. I get it but no really!

Over the last number of years as I have been doing corporate video work one benefit is that I have some cool gear. By gear i mean video cameras, DSLR’s, GoPros , lighting and sound equipment. I surly don’t mind and neither do my boys.

Ever since they where young they’ve been into making videos. It started with Thomas The Tank Engine doing stop motion stuff. You know frame by frame. You know take a photo move the object take another photo. When you sting them altogether you get movement. A great way to learn video production. Well it worked. They both are now very efficient behind a video camera as well as in the editing room. Even has taken it a step further by going to Bellevue collage to get a degree in Media Arts. His passion is motion graphics, Special effects.

Anyways I digress. The reason I started this post was to share their latest project. It’s music video for our neighbor Blaine. He is an aspiring artist who happens to be also working a Damino’s Pizza. Anyways Blaine put this song together about working for Damino’s and how much he operantly digs it. Hi apparently slightly modified the beats of 50 Cent. Well you just got to check it out.



Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 4.55.10 PM

Check out my latest adventure. Camping on the Olympic Peninsula !