Brandin’s 2019 Year-in-Review

As promised, here comes another round of Brandin’s adventures of fun.

The year started kind of somber. In February I said goodbye to my grandfather, whom I was lucky to have had this far in my life. As I grew up, I became more appreciative of what he did for all of us, especially in recent years. He championed everything I did in my life, through school, scouting, college, crew (and then officiating), my career, hobbies, and all this crazy stuff I do in my spare time (really?). He would always peek-in late at night at the shop to see what project was pulling my hair out. He provided everything. He saw me race in the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival not that long ago, even saw the KillaGrams 8+ racing shell get christened with the family’s influence on it, even had the privilege to meet my team’s co-founder, Dr. Lud Spolyar. He was the prime example of what the American Dream should be: heading to the states from Germany to escape pre-WWII events as a kid, learning the language, going to school, raising three boys, and starting a medical products empire, working with doctors all over the world, including my own doctor when I was a kid. All of us have a responsibility in life to contribute more than you get. Things were never perfect for him, but that’s the case for many of us. Things were (mostly) in order, they got done, and that’s what needed to happen. He made it through Christmas, was so spirited, even played the violin so well. We keep moving ahead, because that’s what all he wanted. We were lucky enough to have just gone through the holiday season peacefully, getting the closure I needed to express such love and gratitude all along. Of course, it disappointed all of us that he was not able to make it another month to witness something special.

I became an uncle in March. Margarette “Maggie” June Loyer was born on March 4 in Irvine. She is a bundle of joy, and for some reason, smiles really big when I show up to see her. My brother-in-law says this is because I am so animated, animated in the way that I made sure Maggie had a Maggie Simpson doll in her crib as soon as she got home from the hospital. Of course, it was only appropriate for my parents to pull out all of our old baby toys from our youth and hand them over to Maggie. She has grown up to be a happy little girl over the year.

Moving onto my “hobbies” and other activities that are consuming so much of my time, officiating with USRowing has never slowed down. After taking a short leave-of-absence at the start of the year due to the events above, the spring racing season started in full-speed. That full-speed meant that I was selected to be the Deputy Chief (think of it as second in command, but maybe a lackey too) for the Southwest Junior Regional Championships at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. This is the biggest USRowing event in our region, covering three days in early May. This selection was then overshadowed by an invitation to work for the PAC-12 Championships that next weekend at the same spot. That along with field testing I was hired to conduct in the Fall, I had been back-and-forth between Long Beach and Sacramento five times this year. Then it gets better. Put a flight to Atlanta/Gainesville in between May and June for a national championship that signified the 10-years since my last race in college only to have the venue surprise you with birthday cakes. It was a nice 5-day birthday weekend doing the things I love, spending it with a lot of extended friends that somehow I know. I covered a total of 21 airline flight segments by the end of the year as far as Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale, with many cities in between. I’ll let you guess where I hopped through. People wanted me to go all over the place after all this, but I started saying no by November. I feel so loved, really. Talent is a special thing, but don’t let them take advantage of you. I’ve gone way beyond my four required regatta days per year.

The efforts to host boating events for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games have shifted from Lake Perris back to Long Beach (really?!). Other than new bridges and homes that have been built since the 10th Olympiad in 1932, the International Olympic Committee and FISA, our international body, are watching us really close to see how it can be pulled off. We will see.

Outside of officiating, the regatta media/data consulting operation began its sixth year, gaining such a huge fan base at the 55th Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, that I was compelled to hire (yes, with money) an operations coordinator/personal assistant who I have been training over the Fall season and will be into Spring 2020. We were out with the old, hand-me-down stuff we have used since inception, and acquired “modern things” to get the jobs done. We needed it bad. He’ll track this stuff for me. Of course, this has tipped the scale or sounded the radar to the point of having to funnel all of this into my holding company. Yes, my hobbies are now under a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Oh boy. How is this not my job? In July, Rowing News Magazine released an article on us about all we have done over the past five years. It was a very good summary of everything, not a quick shout-out, and not a massive documentary either. Who knows where this will lead, but one thing is for sure, we closed out what was an incredible year. Once again we found ourselves doing something we enjoy, even if that meant auditing race data at 1:00am or finding the source of a bad cable. I am blessed to have such great friends come along for the experience. While we all work hard, we try to have fun too. I owe much of the accomplishments this year to my good friends who stand with me.

As things got intense rising up to my departure to Boston in October, then this happens. The company I joined about one-and-a-half years back, Smart-Edge, was acquired thanks to the hard work of our teams in Irvine and Atlanta. As soon as I returned from Boston, I became an employee of the Intel Corporation. Yes, Intel, the “Big Blue” giant that has powered a lot of the electronics that we’ve taken for granted for decades. It’s been a crazy ride going from startups in a garage, beach offices, 24/7 e-commerce, higher-ed administration, non-profits, to the “Big Blue.” Our offices are not changing and much of our culture remains (they promised not to “Intellify” us). They didn’t just buy the assets, but the talent as well. Cheers to what’s next: company policies, engineering practice, compliance, licensing, and all the fun things that come with a Fortune 500 company. What is really intimidating at first is walking onto one of Intel’s massive campuses in Santa Clara or Folsom, thinking that you’re trespassing, but now, you have a badge to go wherever you need. I have to get used to this.

The summer included a nice break attending my annual tech conferences in Portland, OR, followed by a trip up Interstate 5 to Seattle to visit family and friends again. I spent a morning kayaking (yes, not rowing!) around Lake Union, enjoying the Seattle skyline and watching the seaplanes circle around my head looking to land. You don’t see that in SoCal. I made it a habit for the last two years to, if not officiate, at least visit the regatta courses of my region and the west coast. Back at home, I was fortunate to have actually put myself back into a racing (rowing) shell with some friends several times to enjoy the waters of Alamitos Bay. I really want to do this more often.

Here’s a quick note. It’s been on my project queue since 2017 to get my own artificial personal assistant, X (no pun intended to my childhood cartoon/video game hero), up to speed. His “engine” exists, but he doesn’t know “where to go.” Then I started thinking, “I should put him in a car first.” Visions of your childhood are now a reality. Into the 2019 Toyota Tacoma he goes, for now. We will see what progress comes along in 2020. No, I don’t use Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc… I’ve been there, under the hood, and I know what they do. X, a variable of limitless potential, will do what I want, and only what I want.

There’s one more thing…

Going into the last weeks of this year, I lost an old friend, Tim Staples. I had known Tim through Boy Scouts in my teens. We were on several area planning committees throughout the 2000’s. Tim was based in the local council in Upland (formerly Old Baldy), while I was based in Orange County. I had not spoken with him in a few years but kept up on what he was doing. Tim was a nine-year veteran of the volunteer West Valley Search & Rescue operation of the San Bernardino County Sheriff. Knowing him from the past, it was no surprise that Tim dedicated his life to helping others. Tim became a history teacher at Damien High School on top of coaching track & field and cross country. In early December, West Valley Search and Rescue was dispatched to rescue an experienced hiker from Irvine in the San Gabriel Mountains, which had been covered in snow over the Thanksgiving holiday. On December 14, Tim got separated from his team, falling down an ice chute to his death. The announcement became national news. It was painful to watch the local and nightly news. The next morning I was having breakfast at a cafe, and then his photo popped up on a TV behind the bar. I didn’t want to see it. No matter how much you knew someone, neither Tim nor the missing hiker, it doesn’t make any difference how badly you feel for all those lives irreversibly changed by this tragedy. We don’t know why this happens in life, but we need to trust in Gods plan for us all. We will miss you Tim. Eagle Scout, Hero. God Bless you man. We will meet again.

While I was trying to scrap up things I had from my time with Tim, I got lost in my life’s work from that time. There’s a lot of nostalgia that goes into writing these letters at times. To end the decade of the 10’s, I dedicate that to the career and personal growth that I’ve witnessed. Some of that is thanks to all of you.

And now some words for the wise…

“Magical things occur with patience and perseverance. Hard becomes easy and complex becomes simple.”
“Life is about change and growing with it. Resisting change is resisting your own growth.”

― Benjamin Razi

Until we unite, stay gold.


Momma Brittany with little Maggie and her uncle at cousin Christie’s wedding
Kayaking around Lake Union in Seattle, WA, enjoying the cityscape and the seaplanes circling around us for landing
The jury of the PAC-12 Rowing Championships at the SacState Aquatic Center. It rained on us but got through racing
Yet an even broader team in Boston, this time from Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, Orlando, and Long Beach
Thanksgiving in Idyllwild, CA. Toyota needs to make this a commercial!
Reuniting with colleagues from my college days in Downtown Long Beach after many years apart
Sending my thoughts and prayers to Tim’s newly-wedded wife and family. Tim passed doing what he loved, to help others.
West Valley Search & Rescue, San Bernardino County Sheriff
The best photo I can find with both Tim and me. Tim is right in the middle. This is from an event planning book.
Photo courtesy of Michael Gollner