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The Playlist Curator

The Mix TapeThere are things that drive us all and we embrace those passions that are the essence of who we are as human beings.

For me, it’s technology, music, writing and storytelling.

When I first read Rob Sheffield’s “Love is a Mix Tape”, I understood exactly what he meant immediately. The power of sharing a curated list of music that tells a specific story to a specific person is enormously fulfilling but often, extremely difficult.

We all have different tastes in music; we all hear and tell different stories. Offering people a “story” to listen to that they may not have had the opportunity otherwise, for whatever reason, and helping them experience something new is nothing less than awesome.

It’s an enormous responsibility and it’s a high-stakes game of getting and keeping a listener’s attention. When done right, not only do you attain a new and loyal customer/listener, but you’ve now built trust in that relationship and just maybe opened your user’s ears to something entirely new and exciting.

The Spotify Playlist

I love building products and programs. I have been in technology my entire career, tactfully bridge the gap between my customers and dev/ops, curate strategic relationships, listen to what others (and data) tell me, and love sharing the enormity of music (and products) with everyone.

How could this not be the best job in the world? After all, isn’t life too short to chase the life we thought we were supposed to have and instead embrace the passions that have always been right in front of us?

For me, it’s music and storytelling. What’s your passion? Are you embracing it?


Pearl Jam | Fenway Park | August 5th, 2016

Amazing night. Amazing friends. Amazing Music.

Ahhhh, the music.


Setlist Encore #1 Encore #2
1. Release 20. Strangest Tribe 29. Draw the Line (Aerosmith cover)
2. Long Road 21. Society (Jerry Hannan cover) 30. Alive
3. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town 22. Just Breathe 31. I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles cover)
4. Low Light 23. Sleeping by Myself (Eddie Vedder song) 32. Baba O’Riley
5. All Those Yesterdays 24. Wasted Reprise
6. Given to Fly 25. Life Wasted
7. Mind Your Manners 26. State of Love and Trust
8. Why Go 27. Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)
9. Daughter 28. Corduroy
10. Even Flow
11. Faithfull
12. Grievance
13. I Am Mine
14. Down
15. Black (with Bronson Arroyo)
16. Do the Evolution
17. Masters of War (Bob Dylan cover)
18. I Am a Patriot (Little Steven cover)
19. Porch


Year In Review – 2015

Merry Christmas! And I’m glad to see you made the Christmas letter list this year. I know last year, we got a little lazy and didn’t publish one and you may have thought we forgot you but look at what a difference a year makes!!  Welcome back to the list! Just remember that your receipt of this letter infers no recognition of your naughtiness or nicety so make sure you’re good with the fat dude in the red suit before 12/25.

So, 2015 – what a year it was!  The end.

No, I’m just kidding. The Durneys were busy as usual and while not always up to any good, we (almost) always had fun.  We had our challenges as we all do which seems ever more prevalent when you share your home with the short people with an inherent obsession with leaving blue toothpaste on the sink (and mirror) each morning.  And for the love of God, please close your mouth when eating!

I digress.


Connor continued quite successfully in his quest to torture his sisters.  But he also played baseball, basketball, football, and is now working on getting his badges in Cub Scouts.  He is disturbingly obsessed with his bike and now insists he needs a “gear bike” so he can “go FASTER and ride over rocks and stuff.”


So while he has shown promise for the X Games in daredevil bike riding, his football career is probably short-lived as his playing style is very similar to the Patriots’ special teams as of late.

That all being said, he continues to do well in school and has established himself firmly as a knucklehead and of course, he loves to write random stories and thoughts in his notebooks (maybe his IS my son!).  Now if we could just get him to read for more than 90 seconds…

Ava is a bike rider!! Hooray! She did it! It was certainly a challenge for her but she stuck with it and then, POOF, down the driveway she went.  Last weekend she actually went on a ride through the neighborhood with Val.  Something tells me that girl just opened a door to a whole new world and we couldn’t be more proud.  Determined, competitive, passionate, and full of conviction – she continues to impress us every day.  Ava also still loves to dance and is taking Ballet classes (first time without her partner in crime Zoe).  Holiday show is tomorrow night on stage!

Zoe is still working hard on learning how to ride her bike but she also has decided to take a break from her impressive dancing career and play some basketball and perfect her roller skating – watch out Derby Girls!  Zoe got to go on her first real field trip to Plimoth Plantation “on buses with a bathroom and TVs!!”  Ava got to go too.  Zoe continues her love affair with animals and can always be found sitting with Preston and making sure he’s happy.  I think that relationship is reciprocal for sure.

Ava, Zoe, and Connor also attended summer camp for the first time.  They spent a week at Camp Christopher at St. John’s Prep (dad’s alma mater) and a week at the Audubon Society in Topsfield both of which they loved! They are starting to find solace in autonomy and exploring the world we live in without Mom & Dad – exciting and scary for both of us at the same time (but mostly because Dad doesn’t have answers to the increasingly difficult questions!).

Preston had a rough year for sure. Last winter he tore is ACL and went through two surgeries. Unfortunately, while he’s doing better now, he still is only at about 50% of his old self. Now if I could only just get back 50% of what it cost for those surgeries I’d be happy.  Unfortunately, it’s one of the first hard lessons in life for the kids knowing that he is fragile and the thought of one day losing him is almost for any of us to handle.

Running continues to be Val’s first love besides me of course. She finds her happy place with two blue ear buds, a Spotify playlist, running shoes and the road. We have both been able to run several road races together which is certainly a confidence booster for her while simultaneously justifying to course officials the necessity for  having an ambulance close by for when I arrive towards the end of the pack.

Val also loves going to yoga with her supremely awesome friend Denise and joining the local moms for a Tuesday “coffee club” which is obviously a secret women’s society.  The Dads don’t know what really happens on Tuesdays and we have made a collective decision to just not ask.  Instead, we have “coaches meetings” at the Spot.  Touché.    

Val took Ava & Zoe to the Museum of Science for an overnight stay with the Girl Scouts this year which was a huge hit with the girls.  They slept in the museum. On the floor.  With hundreds of kids and snoring moms. #motheroftheyear

For me, 2015 was a wonderful year filled with meeting new friends, curating old friendships, and finding ways to deal with the often debilitating stresses of life and parenthood.  We spent a great deal of time together at Crane Beach that is simply the kids’ favorite place on Earth.  It’s where they lose themselves and just laugh and giggle and are truly happy.  And as a parent, is there anything more to want?

I continue to support the GEF and PTA in town and help to coach basketball for Zoe, & Connor.  My office moved from Cambridge to Fenway adding to an already stressful commute although we now have a sick roof deck that overlooks Fenway Park (concerts!).  Unfortunately, I now have to wear glasses to read the flirtatious texts that Val sends me ALL the time or see the old person food on my plate.  In other words, I’m getting old.  And fat. And bald. So I, like many of you I’m sure, in a bitter attempt at defying the inevitable, have begun to take better care of myself.  I want to be around for my kids as long as I possibly can much to their displeasure at bedtime.  So I have recently subjected myself to another round of CrossFit.  But this time, I’m working on getting a discount for the comedic value of my workouts for others to witness.  Seems only fair.

It was a year of firepits and marshmallows, Crane Castle Concerts under the summer skies with glow sticks and ice cream, sleepovers at Nannie & Grandpa Bob’s, taking Griffin to his first concert with Peggie to see U2 at the Garden, amazing summer nights with great friends, sunsets on the beach, our Annual Christmas Party with the Erie 4 Fire Department and Santa, Zac Brown at Fenway, First Night in Portsmouth, SNOW, and the best part of all, Val and I went to Bermuda for 5 days to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.  I can’t begin to describe how amazing and rejuvenating it was not only for our souls and stress levels, but to be reminded, without interruption, just how much I missed those subtle conversations we had on the beach or at a quiet sunset dinner.


2015, albeit with its substantial challenges and stresses, was a year of remembering what’s important in life and then finding the scarce time to make it happen.  Life’s too short not to be happy.  Embrace it.

Happy Holidays to you all.


K, V, A, Z, C, & P


7 reasons why every kid should have a dog

For most of my life, I’ve almost always had a dog, cat, or both. In fact, when there isn’t an animal around, I can’t help but feel that something is missing. All animals, but in particular dogs, hold a special place in my heart. Over the years, they have taught me about love, compassion, forgiveness, loyalty, and the finer art of stick fetching. In truth, they have taught me to be a better person overall and now, as a parent, I recognize even more ways how our four-legged friends enrich the lives of my children.


Girl’s Best Friend


I would even suggest that all kids should have a dog because they teach them about life. How you ask?

1. Responsibility – Quite possibly the strongest argument for rescuing a dog (and most challenging) is that it teaches a child to be responsible for someone or something besides themselves. Caring for a dog is hard but overwhelmingly satisfying. When your child needs to be sure the dog has food (portion control and all) and water each day, they begin to realize that the dog relies on them; the dog needs them to survive. They learn that when they fail to do “their job,” the dog that they so love, feels the effects of their neglect. Dogs also need to be walked, exercised, and let out to relieve themselves. When the kids help out with these responsibilities, it gets them off the couch and moving and gives them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

2. Compassion – There is an undeniable truth that dogs have a keen sense of smell. They also seem to sense when we are sad or sick and without fail, sit by our side or lay at our feet as if to say, “I’m here. It will be ok.” Dogs teach us to be aware of the feelings of others and to support one another when times are tough. Involving a child in rescuing a dog is the ultimate lesson in compassion. My wife and I volunteer for a local dog rescue (One Tail at a Time) as much as we can and bring our kids along with us when rescued dogs are brought in before they are put up for adoption. They help socialize the puppies, fill water and food bowls, and clean the crates. Again, it gives them the opportunity to learn about compassion, responsibility, and love. And the puppy kisses are a big hit as well.

3. Forgiveness – We all get frustrated sometimes. And often times that frustration is misdirected at the people or pets we love even though we don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. If you’ve ever been around dogs, you know that when a dog is scolded (for good reason or not), they cower and avoid eye contact. They know they have upset you and that’s the one thing they never want to do. You are the center of their world and to upset you is the last thing they want to do. But when we realize that our misdirected anger was wrong, a simple pat on the dog’s head and a belly scratch is all you need to receive complete forgiveness and a wagging tail. They don’t hold grudges. They love us unconditionally and move on which is certainly a life lesson we all could be reminded of more often.

4. Acceptance and Tolerance – If you put 10 breeds of all sizes, ages, and colors into a fenced yard, dogs don’t care who you are, where you’ve been, the color of your fur, or how old you are. They only thing they care about is, “who wants to play with me?” Wouldn’t that be nice?

5. Having Fun – Dogs don’t get hung up on the details. Dogs want to play, explore, run, swim, be outside, make friends, and be your friend. And take naps of course.


Rescue and Adopt


6. The Importance of Family – Dogs are social animals; they want to be full-fledged members of our families. They don’t want to be alone and they cherish the time they spend with you. In fact, if they could sit at the dinner table with us, I’m sure they would welcome that opportunity as well. They appreciate being together as a family and never opt to skip a family gathering or sit in the corner with their faces buried in their phones playing games or on Facebook. Dogs cherish the experience of being a family.

7. Don’t put off what you can do today – Dogs don’t live as long as we do. Their shortened lives, however painful it is when their time comes, remind us to live our lives to the fullest. Take risks, embrace life now, travel, explore, create, and love as if there is no tomorrow. Maybe that’s why dogs don’t hold grudges or take life too seriously. Yes, they are “just” dogs but maybe, just maybe they are on to something.

Are you ready? Roof!

Kip can be reached at or on Twitter @kipdurney.

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Just when I thought brands were beginning to “get it,” Procter and Gamble smothers the Sochi Olympics with this sexist ad:

This ad has over 17 million views on YouTube, 830k likes on Facebook, and 50k followers on the ‘Thank you Mom by P&G’ Twitter page. Of course the ad itself is extremely well done and pulls at your heartstrings. But why does it have to insinuate, by virtue of the fact they left out 1/2 of the equation, that the fathers of these amazing athletes had no role in their success, offered no support – emotional or otherwise, and are not deserving of any recognition?

It’s a slap in the face to all dads because this ad could have easily been targeted at, and inclusive of, all parents. I’m pretty sure that #thankyoumomanddad would have worked really well too. And they wouldn’t have completely annoyed all the dads who work so tirelessly to love, support, and encourage their children’s dreams just like mom.

Procter & Gamble certainly lived up to its name with this campaign. They most certainly took a ‘gamble’. I would have expected more from the company that also owns Gillette and heavily targets men for their shaving products.

So next time you you’re at the pharmacy buying your razors and shaving cream, maybe you’ll be reminded that P&G didn’t think that you were important enough to be included in their Olympic ad campaign featuring Moms. And Moms, don’t you think Dad deserves some recognition too? Maybe you’ll skip the Pantene, Tide, and Crest too.

P&G, #thanksfornothing

What do you think?
Kip can be reached at or on Twitter @kipdurney.