The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Zack Notes

February 4, 2016

Zack Notes | UncommonGoodsZack Notes, UncommonGoods Senior Product Manager, Product Management

My hometown…
I’m originally from Boulder Creek, a little mountain town in the northern California. We lived on Chipmunk Hollow Road, where there were indeed a ton of chipmunks. There were also slightly less cute animals – like scorpions, tarantulas, and mountain lions. We had a vegetable garden and a chicken coop. One time I was collecting eggs and the rooster decided that he wanted the eggs back. A brutal showdown ensued and I lost. Luckily, I was rescued by our dog, Sasquatch. I still have a scar on my cheek.

In our backyard, I had a laboratory under a redwood tree where I worked on my “inventions.” Starting when I was three, I would take stuff out of the trash, bring it into the backyard, and try to build things with it – time machines, etc. I wish I had some kind of baby genius invention to tout, but I don’t think I ever actually made anything other than a mess.

Every now and then someone’s house would go into the creek when we had mudslides. My parents tell me that one of the guys that lived on our street was a Hells Angels gang leader who would frequently throw raging biker parties. One time, the Hells Angels let me shoot a shotgun at a washed up house in the river. That was probably around the time my parents decided we should move.

I’m passionate about…
Social progress and new technology. Right now I’m really into this futurology thread on reddit.

The best gift I’ve ever given is…
Who am I to say? You’ll have to ask those that I’ve given gifts to.

I would like someone (maybe me) to invent…
Wow ok, I have a long list, but I’ll give three big ones: Robotic farms, hyperloop networks, and digital democracy.

When I was a kid my favorite television program was…
Looney Tunes. And Double Dare. My grandparents lived in the same retirement community as Marc Summers‘ parents. They got me an autographed headshot of him and I had to hold back tears of joy.

If I could become an expert on one thing that I’m not already, it would be…
Breakdancing and bluegrass fiddle.

The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen is…
OK, one time I saw a video of a robot’s encounter with a ghost. I used to work in defense, programming robots. I was working on an army depot in the Nevada desert and we had a little 4-wheeled robot sentry we were building to guard the bunkers there. We were never told exactly what was in the bunkers, but I can only assume there were aliens, mutants, nukes, and maybe even Tupac. Anyways, the robots had a cluster of cameras on them, including an infrared camera. The infrared was really fun to play with at night. It sensed heat, so you could spot coyotes, rattlesnakes, rabbits, and other desert creatures.

One morning I walked into our office, and everyone was crowded around the video console – they were looping a video from a few hours prior. Basically, the robot was driving its usual mindless route, when it picked up something on radar. The robot set off his alarm and he sped over to the radar blip to get a closer look. When he got there, he pointed the color camera and there was nothing there. Then, he tried infrared. That’s when things got scary.

There was a man standing in the desert in front of the robot. He looked like an old WWII soldier. He had a rifle and a German shepherd. He kind looked like one of these dudes. The robot kept toggling between the color camera and the infrared and the ghost kept disappearing then coming back. Clearly, the robot was confused. I’m pretty sure the soldier was confused as well. Eventually, the ghost decided he had better things to do, so he left. Then the robot resumed his route.

My favorite place to go in New York City is…
Anywhere that makes me feel tiny and lost. There’s a spot on the Manhattan Bridge that looks out over the rooftops in Chinatown. There’s all this awesome graffiti, clothes lines, water towers, smoke stacks. It’s chaotic and beautiful.

An uncommon fact about me…
One quarter of my heritage is a mystery, because my Grandmother Narcia was an orphan.

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