Monday, December 31, 2007

Missing blogs

I thought to end the year I would throw together all the drafts that I had sitting waiting for posts and get them out. Enjoy the missing blogs throughout my year. My comments are in brackets [].

Jaden Has Tubes 2/10/2007
I was going to write about my fears of possible problems that Jaden could have with his tubes, but then I didn't. I don't know what stopped me, I was still very worried, but I didn't write about it.

Yesterday Jaden had his surgery. Things went well. He was back with the doctor for less than 10 minutes. We were at the hospital a total of 3 hours. Since then the drainage hasn't been too bad.

Jaden has been very cuddly this weekend. Erin made the comment today that although he isn't talking any better, he does appear to be jabbering a lot more and happier.

He was in a great mood today and we spent a lot of time reading books.
[This was a scary time for me. We thought Jaden was having speech problems because of his ears. The surgery was more traumatic than I thought at that time. Jaden started freaking out at doctors office visits after this. His talking is just fine. We aren't sure if it's because he got the tubes or he was just slower at deciding to talk, but he doesn't have any problems at all.]

Times are Busy 3/6/2007
It's strange how busy things have been the past week. Jonas went home on Wednesday last week. This weekend was filled with house cleaning and rearranging. Erin and I spent at least half of Sunday deep cleaning and moving around everything in our bedroom. It was great. I like the layout of the room better now than before, plus it's cleaner and more organized.

Our dog has been strange the past few nights, she's whining in her crate, and she doesn't ever whine. I'm not sure what could be causing it. She has a vet appointment on the 17th, and we'll ask the doc then if there's anything that's changed.

March is upon us, it's starting to warm up and I've been able to get out and run twice in the past week. That's awesome. I also love that the sun is up before I come to work, but that will be turned back this weekend when we all have to change our clocks.
[Ahh yes, I remember running in those early months. Back before I got burnt out in running. I hope to get back into running again next year, but not with the same distance goals, so I won't have to push myself quite as hard. Scarlet, the dog, stopped whinning in her crate, we stopped having her sleep in the crate. My fear of her using the house as her personal latrine were unfounded, she hasn't had a single night-time mistake. The couch is now gone and the living room looks completely different, and not organized at all.]

Opportunity presents itself 3/12/2007
I'm going through a change at work

[I was so informative! The change was with working on a new project, which I did blog about a few times. The project has been a huge success, even though it came with a lot of early stress]

Fame 5/31/2007
A majority of people wouldn't be able to handle fame. It's not surprising so many famous people have problems, they are thrust into the spotlight by accident rather than by personality. The drugs and alcohol help them get over their insecurities to be the famous people that they are, but that also causes a problem.
[Some random discussions I was having about the fact that almost all celebrities end up getting themselves in trouble.]

(Untitled) 6/17/2007
Today is a great day.
The start is always great, anything can happen.
You may have an idea of what can happen,
you may have a schedule, you may even have appointments,
but you never know
And although tomorrow is promised to no one;
Today is full of promise.
[I love new beginnings, the year is about to start and there are so many possibilities.]

(Untitled) 6/17/2007
Jaden's leg was stuck under the table, Erin started panicking and called me over, I went over and picked up the table.
[Of all the funny things that the kids get themselves into, this was probably the funniest.]

Oil dependency is a national security issue 6/20/2007
[This was a huge post with me ranting and carrying on like I know something, I don't.]

Masculine candles 6/26/2007
Masculine candles,
meat, gasoline, motor oil.

Maybe men would buy them.
[Another conversation about innovation at work. We had probably 40 scents that we thought could work as good man scents. Sadly we never followed through on it.]

The king is dead, long live the king. 7/5/2007
It's amazing how fast we can move on after something happens in our lives. Some people have a hard time moving on, but many people
[A great unfinished thought about how some people are able to truly embrace change.]

Time to stretch 9/19/2007
Have you ever gotten to a point in your life where you know something is not right. You start to get bored, tired, stagnant.

That's the time when you need to stretch. You are stuck in a rut. You can be stuck in a rut with your business or personal life and it will affect the other.
[I was having a tough time at work. Things worked themselves out, and everything has gotten better since.]

End of the year, a new beginning. 12/21/2007
The end of the year is almost here. I love this time. I like to sit back and look at the year and see what has happened and what was accomplished. Then I make lists of goals and things that I want to do next year. Looking back is motivational, because good things make me want to do more good things, and bad things make me want to do better than I did before.

Then I get to set goals to make next year better and continue to improving myself.
[Here goes, I love the new year.]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Biggest Loser Jealousy

I sat home last night and watched the finale for The Biggest Loser. Sitting there I was jealous of the chance that they got to work with a personal trainer and gym membership that they received.

I do what I can with my time but I've never worked with a personal trainer, and I can't afford a gym membership. Watching that show now for 4 seasons, I realize that these people all had the same problem I have. A lack of opportunity. Sure I can get out and run in 10 degree weather all winter long, but it's not the same as being able to hop on a treadmill. The treadmill option is much more appealing in the middle of winter. I can lift weights, but it's not the same as having a spotter there in case I hit my limit, and to push me to increase the weight even if I don't feel I'm mentally ready to do it.

I wasn't surprised at all when the twins were also the two biggest losers last night. They not only had personal trainers to help them, they had each other to support and encourage along the same journey. Time and again people who work in teams accomplish more than individuals do.

I'm jealous of that. I want to be able to work in a team, at a gym, and with a personal trainer. Instead I lift weights at home without a spotter, and I run by myself out in the cold. I may be able to overcome my obstacles, but it would probably be easier if I had someone else there to help me.

A big congratulations to the people who were in the Biggest loser, they did amazing, and it's always great to see people overcoming their difficulties in order to achieve goals.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What the...

About once a week I have these grand plans like "I'm going to exercise every day for the next 6 months". "I'll lift weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and run on The other 4 days". "I can get up and hop on the exercise bike for at least 20 minutes each morning"

Somehow though, I'll only make it through 1 or 2 days of my new life and then I'm off of it again. The winter is harder on me than the rest of the year. During the summer I love to get the kids out and go for walks. I'll work in the garden, mow the yard, and go for runs, but in the winter time. I'm mostly stuck inside. I don't like running in the dark, so other than weekend daytime runs, I rarely get to run outside. The exercise bike is good for me in some respects because I at least get to do something, however, I also don't push myself nearly as hard there as when I run. In short. every winter I gain weight.

At the moment, I'm on the upswing. I'm eagerly looking forward to the winter solstice so the days will finally start getting longer instead of shorter. Maybe at that point I'll be able to get myself more motivated, Nope. There I am pushing off the time at which I'll become motivated. "There is no tomorrow" The line is yelled at Rocky by Apollo Creed in Rocky 3. It echoes in the movie and in my mind. There is no tomorrow. I need to do what I can to keep my life healthy today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Super Efficient Vehicles

I've been listening to some pod casts by Amory Lovins and I'm excited about the prospect of sup efficient vehicles. With current day technology, car companies just need new factories, or changes to their existing factories, it sounds like fuel efficiency could double. I don't understand why Detroit is so anti-CAFE, when existing technology could get better than the suggested improvements already at almost no cost of material difference.

Amory talks about how Boeing leapfrogged Airbus by taking the time to design the entire system around efficiencies and the new Boeing saved a lot of fuel over the Airbus. Car companies have the same opportunity.

Another thing he mentions is that 70% of the fuel in the US is used by Heavy and Light trucks. As I said before, making Semi's more efficient will have the biggest effect on the cost of the gas. In the US there is about 400 million gallons per day that are consumed. Saving as little as 5% a day in these trucks will cut about 1 million barrels of oil a day, which would stop about 1 Oil tanker the size of the exxon Valdez tanker a day from entering the country (which also saves more oil) and reduces the amount of semi's on the road to deliver gas to gas stations by several hundred more. That also cuts down the amount of gas used. So a change in the fuel fleet by as little as 5% can have a huge impact. I got my numbers from How Stuff Works.

This is crazy considering that the past 20 years the car fleets of companies fuel efficiency has remained static. 20 years of no progress from the greatest scientific minds? I can't believe that in the time that supercomputers have gone from taking up rooms to taking up a 4 ft cabinet. And yet we haven't improved the fuel efficiency of cars or more importantly trucks. This just ticks me off.

As my friend Greg says, That's my rant, what's yours?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Is your company insurance inclusive?

I've been hearing more and more about insurance for companies trying to find out how it will go over if they start charging more for people who are out of shape. Apparently insurance companies have realized that people who meet a certain weight level also require less in the way of doctors visits.

Should companies penalize workers who don't meet a standardized metric of health?

What would you think about insurance companies raising the price based on a health metric? If they did, would you change your behavior in order to meet the metric and save money?

I'm both for it and against it. I like the idea of encouraging people to lose weight. But I don't think I like the idea of it penalizing people more than being overweight itself already does.

How will insurance companies start treating people with disabilities? What about people with kids, or, who are divorced? How far will they go to charge more for the people they cover?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In God We Trust

You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something to think about.
Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house
The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them w ere about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband.
He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.

A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?
"Look at it." He said. "Read what it says." She read the words " United States of America "
"No, not that; read further."
"One cent?" "No, keep reading."
"In God we Trust?" "Yes!" "And?"
"And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, "In God We Trust," and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient..

Elitist ruining running?

I was just sent a link to an article titled "How Oprah ruined the marathon"

It kind of ticked me off. The running elitist writing it, claiming that races are races and meant for the fast. Oprah and John Bingham didn't ruin the marathon, they started on the path to saving a nation.

What good is it to a country, to have a few people who are faster, if the rest of us have to stay home to watch them run on TV. The couch potato nation, brought to you by elitists who would rather bar slow runners from running races.

Too bad, Mr. I'm not fast. I'm not completely a fan of the Penguin, I do the best I can with the time I have, but I also don't have the time to log 100 miles a week, or even 30 miles a week.

I run for two reasons.
1. It's a stress relief. Nothing that I have done relieves the stresses in my life and makes me feel better about how things are going than running does.

2. To stay in shape. Running burns more calories faster than any other form of exercise I do.

That's right, I don't run to win races. It's not that I wouldn't like to win, it's just that for me, the choice is between being good at running faster and sucking at the rest of my life, or being good at my life and sucking at running. I choose the latter.

Why then do I run at races? That must be the real question. Because if I know I'm going to be slow, and I know I'm not putting in the time to be fast, there must be some reason to run races. There is. I run races to meet other runners. My training is done alone, I don't have the opportunity to run with others very often. I don't even have the opportunity to meet other runners and talk about it very often, but when I show up at a race, I know I'll meet people who share common interests. I run races to see how fast I can run that distance that day, and to meet people. Races know this. That's why there are post race parties. If races were all about being elite then participating would not earn marathoners a medal. They would only give them out to people who qualified for Boston, or met some other arbitrary time goal. However races are about covering a distance. That's why anyone who completes a marathon gets a medal, they completed the distance and met the requirements of the race officials.

All these slow people taking over the race courses are good for racing. Despite the fact that average times are down, the fastest people are still faster. Sure they aren't on pace with the world's elite, but America's fastest are still setting American records. What's more important though is the number of people who run instead of sitting at home watching TV or at a bar drinking. Oprah and John "the Penguin" Bingham may have lowered the average time of races, but they have raised the number of participants and average health level of those people.
Interestingly, the last year an American born male won a marathon was 1983. This was at a time when runners from other countries weren't competing full scale yet. As soon as they started, America fell from the top and have never returned. It's not that American running was dominant. It's that American running was practically a monopoly. Those great late 70's runners are mostly coaches for today's elite runners. Those same men who knew how to be great then, haven't given America another marathon elitist. The problem is that they themselves were never really dominant, they won by default, by lack of competition.

For those American running elitists, if you really want to get America back into running, hire a coach from one of the countries that kicks our ass. Stop babying the elite we have with old elite that never were, and give them real coaches that will push them to the limits they should be pushed to be elite.

Me, I'd rather keep going down the path of America being more fit overall than America happening to win a few marathons.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Are you positive or negative?

It's that simple. You decide. Are you going to think positively about something or negatively.

A positive attitude about something will improve the chances of a positive outcome. While a negative one will increase the likelihood for a bad outcome. This is the law of attraction at it's best.

More importantly, approaching a tough situation with a negative attitude will make it all that much harder to get through, even if you do accomplish it, you will be drained the entire time you are going through it. However, approaching a tough situation with a positive attitude will help you get through it with more energy, and no matter the outcome, you will be less stressed.

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed Him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry Was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life." "Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is," Jerry said.

Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

- - -

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live. "Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man. "

I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!'

Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

I heard a story very similar to that one that really made me think. Am I living this way? Do I choose to be that positive all the time? Maybe we can all do a little better with our attitudes.

Friday, November 02, 2007

How to win friends and amaze yourself.

Just over 2 years ago I read "How to Win Friends and Influence People". It was a very good book that made a lot of sense in my life and helped me improve my relationships with others. It helped, but I wanted more.

About 6 months ago I asked my boss to send me to Dale Carnegie training. For many reasons, this was a difficult task for me. Thirteen weeks ago a group of people showed up for an orientation meeting which ended with an assignment to be prepared for the first week. Each session would be spent listening to everyone in the class give a speech about their own experiences with the challenges in their lives, and participating in some exercises to help us stretch out of our own comfort zone.

The first week arrived and I was nervous. I was very nervous. I had been up until Midnight trying to memorize my speech, and I even practiced it at work, forcing my co-workers to listen to it. They gave me some constructive criticism and I incorporated it. By the end of that first Thursday, I was convinced that I could make up a story, whether it's true or not and get through 11 more weeks of this.

During that first week I was reading the assignments and realized that making up stories would do me no good. I wouldn't get out of the class anything. I had to put all of myself into the class in order to get a lot out of it. I remember telling Erin before I went to class the second week that "if I'm going to get everything the class has to offer, I have to put myself out there completely open". I was scared. I was petrified.

The speech that 2nd week had me nervous. I hadn't prepared it, I hadn't rehearsed it. I knew what I was going to talk about, it was my life, it was a topic impossible for me to get lost on. That day, I decided to put all of myself into this class. I was going to study the assignments, take the challenges that they threw at me and embrace them. I knew that I had to give it my all.

Last night was graduation. It was one final time to share our stories in a forced setting;. to stand up in front of people who started as strangers, but were now friends. In the last 12 weeks, my day to day approach to so many small things has changed. I don't think there is an a single aspect of my life that hasn't been affected by my attending the Dale Carnegie class.

Erin and the kids came to graduation, I wanted to share at least a small part of the fun that I've had in the class with them. I wanted them to see how much fun it is, and meet the great people that I now call my friends. Overall, I think the kids were great. For 2 and 4 you can't really ask for them to be better behaved than they were. I was so proud of them, and so happy that they were there.

When it was all said and done, we voted for the people we thought lived the Dale Carnegie principles the best. My votes went in, just like everyone else. I was pretty sure I knew those that would win. They had had amazing breakthroughs are amazing people. So as Bill stood in front of the room and talked about their achievements and struggles and how they have overcome things and how deserving they were, I was sitting right there basically saying Amen. When the final award for the "highest acheivment", the one voted by the class as the one living the principles the best came up, I sat back and relaxed. Class was almost over. I'd cheer for the winner, congratulate them, because anyone in the class who won deserved it and get home. My kids were tired, up way past their bedtime, and I was worn out. Bill announced the winner, Steven Rigney, and I started clapping...Then it sank in. That was me! That couldn't be me! There are so many others that have done amazing things.

I'm very proud. I didn't sleep well last night, and I've been on a high all day today with the after affects of this award. It is definitely going to be my proudest achievement hanging on the wall.

This class has been amazing for me. For anyone looking to stretch, to push yourself to become better than you are, no matter where you are, this class can help if you approach it with a positive attitude and enthusiasm.

You can read my wife's take at her post "I have barely recovered from last night but need to tell you just how awesome the Awesome Hubby is"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jaden 2

We had a great party on Saturday. It was amazing with all the people over. There ended up being 9 kids running around and even more adults. Despite all the craziness I don't think anyone felt cramped during that.

Here's the shirt Erin and I got him, I love it.

Happy birthday to my little boy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marathon complete

It's amazing to look at our goals as we accomplish them. For me the marathon in many ways was a disappointment. I wanted to run it in a certain time and I didn't. But that's because I've put in 12 years of running. I've put in thousands of miles of training, I felt like I was ready, and still the distance beat me. Somewhat.

Sunday morning was cool, and started great. I stood in line with the other 4,000 or so runners, many of which had just left one of the 100 porta-johns lining the start line. At one point as the runners meandered up to the start line I was the absolute last runner in the race, when it came to the finish I ended up not far from that.

Disappointment aside though, I set out to achieve a goal. It was a great goal that was far beyond my abilities. Through lots of tough times and many things that sidetracked me from accomplishing it, the idea of the goal never left. In the end I couldn't allow myself to not accomplish it.

What things in your life are sitting left undone. Is someday maybe waiting for you to make it some day soon? For me that's what this year was for the marathon. It was time to take that dream goal and make it a reality. I am now a marathoner, and I can achieve any of my goals if I set my mind to it and act.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't quit

Don't, quit, never give up. These are phrases I'm constantly saying to myself. I love the Successories card for "Never Give Up" It says, "Go over, go around, or go through. But never give up."

Last night in my Dale Carnegie class a good friend was talking about some of her struggles and she had used a poem to help her through it. This poem with an unknown author was very inspiring and I wanted to share it with you.

Don't Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won, had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you musn't quit.

Here are a few additional quotes that are related.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.
The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison
"Impossibility—a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools."
Napolean Bonaparte

"Nothing is impossible, we just don't know how to do it yet."
Cudmore, L.L. Larison

"There aren't any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet."
Halsey, William F.

"We can do anything we want if we stick to it long enough."
Keller, Helen

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good News Weekly

I think too many of us get so caught up in the things that we are always doing and the things that are still sitting on our plate in front of us, that we sometimes forget about the amazing things we have already accomplished.

I'm not a big fan of looking back on our failures, but we need to be able to stop and realize our own accomplishments and pat ourselves on the back.

Along with my GTD weekly review, I am going to implement a Good News Weekly, my very own magazine with a subscription of 1. I'm going to think about the accomplishments of the week, and write myself a little pick me up paragraph that summarizes those accomplishments and then I'll keep it somewhere that I can review at the end of the year. I think it will be interesting to see what I have accomplished and when I think about the goals that I am going to set out before me for the next year.

Do you take the time to think about your accomplishments? Do you take the time to congratulate yourself, or are you too busy focusing on the next thing? Maybe it's time to do something similar yourself.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The art of apologizing.

Ady has inherited her mothers ability to apologize and not at the same time.

The other day she ran to Erin and ran into her hard. As Erin was complaining about the hit Ady said "I'm sorry I was loving you mommy."

Erin is good at apologizing without apologizing by saying things like "I'm sorry you feel that way", without apologizing for what she actually did.

It's funny how Erin can get around apologizing when she's joking, but when it comes right down to it, she is a pretty good person. Erin knows how to apologize. When she's wrong she will stop immediately and apologize for what happened. It's a good lesson to learn from.

If you do something wrong, don't wait to apologize. The sooner it happens the more likely that it will be recognized as honest. Get it out there and be sincere about it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What would you do?

A friend of mine was hard at work at a factory in my hometown when he heard a loud crash. He looked up and could see that two trains had just had a head on collision. Without even thinking about it he left the line and ran to the accident to help people off of the trains. The factory is only a quarter mile or so from the accident and many of his co-workers went too. What would you do? When you see a train wreck will you run to help those in need?

How many times have we seen someone having trouble with something and commented that it's like a train wreck, I can't look away? Why? Aren't we the type of people that would help if there's a train wreck? Think back to those situations in your life, when someone needed help, when someone was in an accident. What could you have done?

I think we are all responsible for doing our best in all that we do, including helping others. Leaving a scene like that without the offer of help is dreadful. Remember that the next time a train wreck is staring you in the face. At the very least you'll feel better about looking back on the situation knowing that you did what you could to help.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pirates look for new scapegoat.

For 15 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have lost. For 15 year they change managers without changing the system that is wrong. Albert Einstein said Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Pirates have been and continue to do more of the same. They can complain that they are not a big market team, and do not have enough money all they want, it's just an excuse. The Pirates don't try to build a team. The last several big signings in Pittsburgh were Brian Giles and Jason Kendall, both of whom were traded the following season to get rid of their contracts.

In order to be a winning organization, that has to be the goal of the organization from top to bottom. From what I've seen that's not the case here. Pittsburgh is solely looking to make money. The more of it the better. A few years ago they had a payroll of only 32 million, at the same time they made 35 million from revenue sharing in the league. That means that without a single fan showing up they would have still had 3 million profit.

What the Pirates really need to do is to stop looking at the money and look at building a team. It won't happen in 2 years, it will probably take at least 5. They need to have good draft picks that develop well, and good rule 5 pickups that make the team. Then they need to pick up very serviceable free agents for a decent price. The Marlins have proven that you don't need to have players that were known as marquee players before starting on your team in order to win it all. It is possible to build an organization from the inside out. They need to resign themselves to losing for the next year or two more while those young prospects develop, and they need to pay them to keep them there when they do. They need to make sure to keep Jason Bay and Jack Wilson and find a hitting coach that can bring Adam LaRoche out of his hitting slump, he was great in Atlanta. At the very least they can be like Tampa Bay and be exciting while losing games while they continue to build their club from bottom to top.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another point of view...

Are you in a rut? Do you ever have trouble moving forward? Recently I had been in a rut at work, and then I saw a picture online. A picture of the spoon bending scene in the matrix.

This scene is about your point of view on reality.

Do not try to bend the spoon, that's impossible.
Instead only try to realize the truth
What is the truth?
That there is no spoon.
Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

Have things changed at work for me? Absolutely, I am doing the same job, with a different point of view, and things are going great! But it's really just a change of my point of view.

If things are not going well for you somewhere, changing the situation will not change the problems. 99% of the time the problem is not with others, if you have a problem at work and change jobs, you will have the same problem, if you have a problem at home and change homes, you will have the same problems. "It is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

I choose

Last week in my training class the teacher read us a story about a man who every day chose to be happy. He said he could choose to be happy or choose to be stressed. He chose to be happy.

Every day this guy chose to be happy, and even when he was recovering from having fallen from a tower and needing metal rods put into his back, he still chose to be happy.

Our world, every day is what we choose for it to be. The same input is going to come at us whether we ask for it or not, that is not our world. The input does not decide who we are and what we do with our life. It is just external stimulus. Everything that comes at us from the time we are born until death offers us a choice. It is those choices that not only affect our mood right now, but who we are as people. It's those choices that allow two twins to grow up in the same environment with the same input and turn out to be very different people.

Now, the first thought I have every morning is, "Today is going to be a good day" And you know what, it is. It's almost always a good day, not because only good things happen to me, but because I decide that's what I'm going to have. I'm going to be happy because I enjoy happiness.

It's funny how the simple act of smiling can make me feel better, even when I don't feel right. I've taken to walking away when things start getting bad. I'll think of a time when things were exceptionally good and smile, and whatever bad thoughts I was having are replaced with good thoughts.

I choose to be happy. And things have been going well.

Is that all?

Yesterday morning I ran my last really long run before the marathon. I had it scheduled for 20 miles, and I finished.

When I made it to the half-way point, I felt really good. I decided to stretch it and run an extra street, which out in the country always seems to be a mile apart. Suddenly a 20 mile run had became 22 miles.

I felt great. I was right on schedule and I had walked even more than I planned to. I was running well, especially considering I didn't wear my MP3 player. Since the marathon isn't allowing them, I decided to train without it. This is the first long run I've done without music being pumped into my ears, there's a big difference between running with a pounding beat in your head and running with the sound of wind, pounding footsteps, and breathing.

At 5 AM in total darkness running country roads, it's scary. Every time the wind blew the drying corn stalks my mind flashed back to the aliens in the movie "Signs". Had an animal as harmless as a deer peaked out of the corn I expect that I would have died on the spot from a heart attack. It didn't matter which trick to control worry I tried, I just couldn't get the aliens out of my head. I was grateful when the sun came up and the corn seemed a lot more like corn and a lot less like an alien infested field.

Unlike normal, I brought my cell phone with me on this run. With about 4 miles to go I called home to tell Erin that I was going to make it. It was as much to keep my confidence up as it was to assure her that I'm still coming. I'd been gone for 4 hours already, and she hadn't heard anything from me, so I wanted to assure her that I was fine. At that point I was sore, but still running fairly well. The last 2 miles of my run however, my heart started beating much harder. Running just a few steps made it feel like my chest was pounding too hard, and I had a hard time getting into a rhythm. The most I was able to run during those two miles was a quarter mile. It didn't matter though. My goal was to finish this run, and I did.

October 21st is close, and after chasing the same goal for 13 years, I'm about to achieve it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I love office chairs

I love office chairs. They are soft and supportive. Tall enough for my long legs, and relaxing enough to tilt back in. I can sit up and really get down to work, or sit back and reflect on life, and think.

Office chair, office chair, what can't you do?

You can roll from room to room swivel for my own ease of use, or the kids entertainment.

If I had enough money I would replace every chair in my house with an office chair. There would be four of them at my kitchen table, it could be the boardroom, where we just happen to eat all of our meals. The breakfast counter would have two more. I'd have one in front of the piano, and one in front of the computer. I'd even go as far as getting an extra one to sit in the toy room so the kids could use it to read books next to the bookshelf.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I need garbage bags

I'm a list person. I've always been a list person. It was drilled into me as a child. If we were going shopping, we had to have a list of what we needed. We had a grocery list, and a list of the price that things were on sale for at each store.

Then I had my list of chores.

About two years ago I started hearing about GTD. For months I heard about this new craze. It was everywhere I was looking.

Finally, I borrowed a book, the book, on GTD which is Getting Things Done by David Allen, and wham!

This was it!!! Someone who finally fully understood the benefit of lists.

I had to try it, do it, absorb it, become GTD.

I may not be a loud GTD evangelist, and there are a lot of them out there. But I am an avid follower. And even when I occasionally get off-track. It's easy to get back on track.

The biggest benefit I have with my new list making schemes is that I've gotten enough of a grasp on my life that I'm finally able to think about things at a higher level than just "I need garbage bags." And at that time, my life had practically become overwhelmed with that level of profound thought..

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Overrated Business Books

I was checking my 50+ normal blogs this morning and stumbled across an interesting article about the 10 Overrated Business Books (and what to read instead). I chuckled. The title was great, but some of the books were pegged dead on too. Many of the business books I read leave me wondering how anyone would recommend that book to someone else.

Steven Covey and the 7 Habits of whatever has a few good points, but reading the book is torturous. I would rather jump into a ravine filled with broken bottles. It's kept me from reading the 8th habit, because who would jump into the same ravine twice?

Who Moved my Cheese is another interesting one. The book quickly says, change happens, get used to it. What do you need 80 pages of crap for? That's the only message. Change Happens, get used to it.

There have been others that were about the same. Business The Marine Corps way. Business aren't run the way the book suggests so it won't work.

And many of the millionaire style books that I have read were also crap. Start your own business, buy stocks in the great companies, buy property. If I would have done any of that, I would now be broke. Oh wait, I am. The only way those authors got rich was in selling their crappy books.

Currently there are three books that I think everyone should read. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Getting Things Done, and Atlas Shrugged. These three books are the most useful books that I have read. I hope you have a chance to read them and enjoy them.

Buy them from Amazon here if you are interested, or check them out from your local library.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sleep what's that?

Lately I've been a little worn down. It's amazing that the more I do the more I want to do and the more I put on my own plate. If it were up to me I would stay awake for days on end in order to get things done, and then after I were done with everything on my list I would immediately double the size of my list and need to go for another 4 days without sleeping.

Anyhow, I've been swamped with lots of things and am now getting the hang of the extra load that I have, so I'll be more consistent with blogging.

Leave me comments and let me know what you are interested in hearing about.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Distraught Sox Fan

Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen have managed to gut most of the good talent on the White Sox and turn them from World series champions to worst in baseball in just two short years. I'm excited about the extension that Ozzie Guillen got today. Turning a team around like that deserves another 4 year contract.

At least I won't have to waste any time watching baseball on TV for the next few years.

The downfall of the fist bump

The fist bump has fallen a long way. It has become so commonplace that the bears in this Charmin commercial are doing it now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thoughts on Michael Vick

I've held my tongue for a while now. It's not that I thought the guy deserved a fair shake. After all earning a gazillion dollars is already being considered elite and getting more than a fair shake in things. He's going to forfeit more money by not playing next year than I'll make in my entire life. And yet, there are those that consider the prosecution of their beloved hero wrong.

It's not wrong. Michael Vick, and every other multi-million dollar athlete out there that breaks the law, will just have to live up to it, like everyone else in this country. Being rich and famous should not earn you a free pass to also being stupid and unlawful.

The reason that I let the Michael Vick fiasco go so long is that it's just another one of those "hero's" that our kids look up to being a complete ass and doing something stupid. I have gotten numb to that. The fact is that people do stupid things all the time, and they get caught all the time. The only difference with professional athletes is the scale on which they do them. It's a lot easier to a really big stupid thing when you have an excessive amount of money at your disposal.

However, Michael Vick had a public statement apology yesterday that left me fuming. It was slightly impressive that he spoke without any note cards, but things he said weren't impressive.

He said that dog fighting is a terrible thing and that it was a mistake to take part in it. He said he found Jesus and asked for forgiveness. He said everyone makes mistakes. Then he said he takes full responsibility for what he did, and apologized to lying to his coach, his owner, the commissioner of football. The reason he gave, he was immature.

I doubt that after 6 years of brutalizing and killing dogs he suddenly thinks that dogfighting is wrong. His admission that it is all of a sudden is insulting to the rest of us. His tone and body language when he said he found Jesus and asked for forgiveness were poor. He didn't look like he found Jesus nor asked for forgiveness. He looked like he was trying to win favor with some people and that was all. His admission that everyone makes mistakes while true does not forgive him for this mistake. A mistake is to do something wrong in the heat of the moment, as a one time thing. Willfully breaking the law repeatedly for 6 years is not a mistake, it is just plain trying to get away with illegal activity. He said he takes full responsibility for what he did and always has, but that was not true either. At the start he claimed that his relatives and friends took advantage of his generosity and used the house for things that he was unaware. Since then it has been shown that he was very aware of what was happening, and that he took part. He blamed those closest to him that he trusted and that relied on him in order to save his own skin. That's not taking responsibility, that's not even being loyal to his friends and family. Finally his reason of being "immature" was crap. He was not being immature. It's another way to try to not take responsibility. "I did it because I wasn't allowed to be a kid when I was younger, but now that I have 100 million in my pocket I thought I could do this kind of stupid thing" is not a reason.

The thing that I admired about Vick prior to this is that he didn't seem to have that immature kid in him. He was a man out to prove he was a good quarterback. It didn't matter that I thought he was a good athlete but not a good quarterback. I at least thought he wasn't one of the thugs of football. I was amazed that he seemed so grounded while his brother was a complete terror. It's disappointing to know that even those people in professional football that appear to be above the level of thug may possibly just be better at not getting caught. That puts makes rest of the "good guys" in football suspect as well.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Growing your blog

All this month I've been reading about how to make my blog a better blog and following the 31 days to a better blog at There are lots of good tips how to get more people to come and read your site. Go comment on other peoples sites, become an expert. Do guest posting. Tips on how to write when you really don't want to write. And the ever popular, "write for a niche market".

After two years blogging, I've come to the conclusion that I'll never write for a niche group. I may never have a huge following on my blog. But that's not really all that important. What is important is that I come out here and continue to try and improve my writing. My blog should allow me to grow as a writer. It has. If you scan back through some of my posts over the years, you will see that my style has changed somewhat. My topics have changed a lot, and I have learned a lot.

As I glanced back myself today I see my kids two years younger. I read my blog from August 05 and it seems like I'm writing to my diary, only for the world to see. In August 06, I have a mix of both tips for living life and thoughts of my philosophy on life mixed in with a diary of sorts. More recently though my posts have been more useful to the rest of the world. There are tips for how to do things, and get through life and some of the challenges that I face while doing so.

This blog also allows me the opportunity to find and get to know some wonderful new people. Recently "The Fat Runner" and I have crossed paths and have been keeping up with each other. I have links on the side to two of my good friends who both play music Keith Hampton and Joel Rosenberger. They both play great and are a joy to listen to. Finally I get to post about my experiments. Me becoming a handy man and gardener around the house are both just experiments of a computer programmer trying to figure it out.

I am not the foremost authority on Getting Things Done. I am not the worlds most prolific new tool tester. I don't have a comment on everything I read about, and I am not a blog about a single sport or sports team. My blog is tips on how to get through life, and things that I have to think about while doing so, with a bit of my family and kids thrown in the middle.

I just live an ordinary life. Do ordinary things and face the same challenges that everyone does.

Now it's time for me to do the dishes.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Finders Keepers

In honor of Rachd I have accepted the challenge from Erin at The Corn Was Good to write about a controversial topic.

When I grew up the rules were simpler. The world wasn't, but my view of it was. Life was very easy. If I found something in the alley I would just pick it up and it was mine. I amassed a large collection of crap. I had parts of toys, and used toys, sticks and string, bottles and many other things. My brother and I would pick up each others toys and always holler "Finders Keepers". It was how we justified taking each others things.

"Finders Keepers" made life easy.

A few weeks ago I was picking up a few groceries for dinner with Ady and Jonas. As always, when I saw some money on the floor I had one of the kids pick it up. I have a knack for finding money that's been discarded or dropped. Finders Keepers. Usually it's just pennies, but occasionally I find a forgotten dime or when I'm really lucky a quarter. This day however, I saw green on the floor in the checkout lane. GREEN! I was excited, a whole dollar to put into the vacation fund.

I sent Jonas over to the next lane to pick up the money. It took a minute before he saw it and picked it up. I asked to see it, just to know how much we were adding to our savings. My heart jumped when I saw it was a fifty dollar bill. That's when I had conflict. My Finders Keepers attitude went to war with my wife, not my conscious. I don't really have much of a conscious when it comes to this kind of thing, when I find it, I keep it. But I knew that when I got home I would have a fight with my wife. She would tell me how I shouldn't have taken it. I should have turned it in, that money could have been all the money someone had.

I reasoned with myself and used all of Erin's words in my head to talk to Jonas. We can't keep this money because it could be all the money that someone has to buy groceries, and without it they may not be able to eat for a week. It took all of my concentration to lie like that. All of it's true, but I wanted that money. Finders keepers. I decided to hand the money over and made sure that if it wasn't claimed in a few days I could come in and reclaim it. I had after all found it. I handed the money over to the cashier and watched her walk into the office.

Heartbroken I returned home and still had to listen to Erin lecture me on the money. Giving it back still hadn't been enough, the fact that I told her I thought about keeping it was enough to earn me a lecture.

Three days later I returned to the store first thing in the morning. I had decided that I would be careful to word my inquiry as to "Was $50 turned in from lane 2", rather than "I lost $50" or the more direct "I turned in $50 was it claimed, if not it's mine". The woman working at the service desk didn't even check when I asked. She responded quickly with "Nope, no one turned in $50. If they had, I would know about it". I had to beg her to go double check in the office. Still nothing. Nobody turned in $50. But "you know how people are around here, someone probably just picked it up and put it in their pocket". But they didn't. I know, because I was the somebody. I was the one who could have, should have, picked it up and stuck it into my pocket. That should have been my $50. But no, I was listening to my wife's conscious and I didn't keep it.

I now know not to trust the cashiers at that grocery store. They are not honest. And although I would have kept the money myself, they should not have. If I had been in their position I would not have. There's a difference between finding money and having it turned in to you. When you are in a position where things are turned in to you, you have a responsibility of honesty in business that you have to live up to. I also know that the co-workers of those people think that everyone in this town is a thief.

The next time I find that money on the ground I won't hesitate to pick it up and pocket it. Finders Keepers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Always do your best.

I love Springtime. The trees are just starting to bud and show life. The grass starts to turn green after being brown and buried by snow. The smell of morning dew and the coming rain fill your nose. It's the start of life and the beginning of baseball.

I was almost 12 and made it into Little League for the first time. Little league is a privilege because not everyone makes it. I was drafted by the team my dad coached, that had won the league the previous year. I was excited. Since my dad was one of the coaches, I figured I was going to get to play wherever I wanted. I was wrong.

My dad didn't treat me differently. I was expected to meet the same standards as everyone else, only I heard about it both at practice and at home. "Do it again. You're not trying. You can do better. Run" Run meant down to a telephone pole and back, it was about a quarter mile round trip. Anytime we made a mistake during a drill we had to run. I ran a lot. If I wasn't running hard enough I had to run again. Every drill we did had two purposes. First we were expected to learn the fundamentals of baseball, but more importantly we were expected to always try our best. It wasn't important enough for us to be the best at our positions. Everyone plays with a different ability level. What my coaches pushed for was for each of us to find out how far we could push ourselves to be the best that we could. The army slogan may be flashing through your mind "Be all that you can be". It was very much that same philosophy.

My life is much different now than it was at 12, but that philosophy hasn't changed. I still approach everything that I do with that attitude. I always give 100%, and I don't have to be the best at what I do, but I do have to try my best.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No Fear

I remember reading those No Fear shirts years ago when they were fashionable. Around the same time I loved to watch the cheesy movie No Retreat No Surrender. A kid at the time, I thought I was fearless. Every obstacle I came across I would pump myself up mentally with either the phrase "No Fear". If something wasn't going well the first time, I would chastise myself "No Retreat, no surrender". For a long time these two phrases got me through just about everything.

It's strange how living life teaches you both humility and fear. Those phrases don't work anymore because the failures and fear of future failures that we have can cause us to become completely catatonic.

Thursday night I have a two minute speech to give about a defining moment in my life. A specific incident that I can look back on and say, at this moment I learned that a certain virtue is necessary and important to me.

I have been approaching the speech with the same attitude I did as a kid. "No Fear" I can conquer this pit in my stomach, sweat on my hands and shaking in my bones. They are nothing to me, they will happen and I will not be any worse off. People will judge me, but I leave myself open to judgment constantly by having written on a blog. I do not worry about that.

I worry about what I will say. I don't view my life as having any major jumps in it. I have come to be who I am by 100,000 small insignificant changes each building on a previous change. An action by a friend, a sentence from a teacher, a book I read, a poem I wrote a reflection on life and it's events and a small change. Over and over again, repeated to the point of my current life. My life is, well, normal. I don't view myself as an extraordinary person, I'm a simple person doing simple things and sharing them with others.

Five days of thinking and an hour long discussion with my wife pushing and prodding me to dig into my past, which I rarely do anymore, have finally given me a topic to discuss. Now to prepare to face the speech and the room full of people watching, listening, and not caring with No Fear.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Movies, movies, everywhere

The past several days my head has been filled with movies. There are so many things that I want to watch that I haven't seen over the past decade. Erin and I have been talking about it for a while, and we both think that there are more movies out there that we are interested in than TV. If I were to start feeding my movie starved mind I would surely run up a big bill quickly. Therefore we are going to look at getting Netflix.

By now everyone has heard of Netflix. I'm kind of surprised that more local video stores haven't gone out of business since Netflix started. I myself am going to be a late adopter. That's one of those people who sit on the sideline and wait for something to be established before they start using it.

There are a few benefits that Netflix has that I will probably just be restating, but it's part of why Erin and I are going to do it.
    • No more trips to the video store. It's not that it's far to the store, only 5 blocks from home, but taking 2 or 3 kids with me is a pain.
    • No more not knowing what I want. I hate walking into a store and hoping to find something I want. When I'm online I can look at movies and reviews and add them to the list as soon as I hear about them. When I'm at the video store it's very random.
    • No more late fees. You wouldn't think that this is a big problem only having to go 5 blocks, but the last 4 times we've rented movies we've had to pay late fees. We even owe late fees for our library movies which are free. Erin said it the other day. Netflix was made for people like us.
    • More movie watching. I don't have cable anymore, and I don't get out to movies, but if I pay for Netflix you can sure as heck bet that I'm going to set aside more time to watch movies. There's no point in paying to not watch movies. I average maybe 2 movies a month, I expect that to increase to 2 a week, which is a huge increase in movies watching.
    • More variety. At the video store there are so many things that I haven't seen that I don't even get into the sections of the store that have the things I missed last year and the year before. With Netflix I'll see the new ones, but I'll also start getting into movies from the past decade that I've missed. Plus, if things get slow, I may just check out a whole new genre that I would have normally skipped, such as the slasher movies.
There is only one downside that I can think of. I can't on a whim get up and go to the video store for movies without paying more. If I happen to be in a situation where I've seen all of my movies and want to watch more, I'd have to run to the video store and rent them risking all of the things that I just worried about.

Netflix is a very cool mix of online tech and snail mail though. It's like Amazon only they expect every product to be returned. I like that kind of thinking. About 10 years ago a friend and I were sitting around talking and came up with the idea of Pizza and a Movie. You would go online and order your pizza and a movie and they would both be delivered to your house. I've seen that some big cities are doing this now, but I'm shocked it hasn't caught on in the more rural areas. It's the smaller towns that could really eat up something like that. At least Netflix makes it one step closer, you can get your movie delivered to you in the mail, and you can call your local Pizza Hut and have it delivered.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What's in a name...a tag!

After two years on the internet blogging, I've finally been tagged. Yes, it was my wife Erin that tagged me. However, I thought this one was interesting enough to actually do.

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their
middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
3. When you are tagged, you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

My middle name:
C- Committed to improving myself.
H- Happily Married.
A- A nice guy.
R- Running towards a marathon goal, and a healthy life.
L- Likes to read, a lot.
E- Erin and I are ready mentally for another baby.
S- Shares my life on my blog.

I tag. Larry, The Fat Runner, Trish, Ari, Tiffany, Joel, dahcredyns
I was kind of shocked to see that I didn't have a problem finding 7 people to tag. You can do it too. Even if you can't find someone to tag, enjoy writing your post.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chicago Distance Classic and me

This is what I look like after running 13 miles. Sunday I ran the Chicago Distance Classic. This half marathon race has been going on one year longer than the Chicago Marathon. I ran my fastest time for the distance ever with 2:32:17. This wasn't about a single race though. I run all the time. I run 3 days every week, and when this race was over I'll get back out and keep running.

My goal is fitness and health, not races. I still have about 20 pounds that I want to lose and I continue to work on that and track everything at

Running just happens to be one of the best ways to lose weight. The best thing about running is that anyone can do it. That's part of why I wanted to run the CDC, it's owned by John "the Penguin" Bingham, and he is well known for helping people break into running. He himself broke into running late in life and never became a fast runner, he just became fit. His newest book about running is Running For Mortals. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard it's good. I do read runner's world every month and his column is probably the best page of the magazine. I did read the first book he wrote No Need for Speed, which is a fun book about just getting out the door to get going. Because with running for fitness, that's what's most important.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Do you have the right running Support?

Support is very important in running. You have to have good shoes, good clothes, and good family. In order to run well you have to have good support. I'm lucky, I have great support. Sometimes I don't recognize it, but last Sunday was an example of support from my wife that changed the day, and my week since.

I woke up late for my run on Sunday. I was planning on being out of the house by 5 in order to get home as everyone else was waking up for the day. Instead I woke up at 7 when my youngest started yelling from his crib that it was time to wake up.

I sat on the floor, where I slept Saturday night as I spent a quality night bonding with my oldest at the same time that my wife and daughter slept together in our bed, and started to beat myself up mentally. I was so mad. I wanted to be done already and instead I was just waking up.
My wife, knowing how much of a beast I can be without my run, came to me and said, "It's still early, and isn't it the run that's important not the time?" I could not argue with those words of wisdom.

Out the door I went at 7:15. My training plan only has me running 6 mile runs on long days that I'm not trying to get closer to the marathon distance. The past several really long runs though I've started to pitter out after 6 miles. In order to prevent that, I have decided that I'm going to start increasing my short long runs from 6 miles up to 10. This weekend I was increasing to 8 miles. With my trusty MP3 player and shoes I was on my way.

There was something about having started late that really annoyed me. I was mad and I don't normally start a morning mad. I love mornings, each day is full of promise and anything can happen, so I am almost always happy to start a day. Sunday I was mad. I was mad to the point of punishing myself. I didn't beat myself up mentally, I did it physically. My mind and body are constantly at odds with each other. My body says give me food while my mind says I don't need it. My body says I need sleep, while my mind says I have too much to do. Now though, I was pushing my body beyond what it could handle. Beyond what it has had to handle.

Even while pushing harder than normal, I was sticking to my run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute running pattern. I didn't want to screw up the pattern that has worked so well and that I plan on using in the marathon. That meant that each run had to be faster. I made the 5K mark at 32 minutes, much faster than a normal long run. I was at 4.13 miles at 43 minutes, still a great pace for my run. I then turned around and started pushing even harder. I was going to run as hard as I could on the way back home. When I was finished I had averaged 11:04 per mile.

Left to my own devices I would not have gotten out the door. With my wife's encouraged me to not only go for a run, but fueled the desire to push harder and have one of my best runs of the year.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cherish what you have

I read about a little 5 year old girl that died a few weeks ago. I cried as I read the story. I was shocked that I could feel so deeply for this complete stranger. I realized that I was identifying with her. I too have a 5 year old that likes to be adventurous and do things that are dangerous. He loves to swim and swims in Lake Michigan with his mom from time to time. I don't know how I would respond if the same tragedy happened to me, but this woman's strength is awe inspiring.

The mom blogs and has clearly been writing as her personal form of therapy to get over this tragedy. She posted about the accident and about the funeral. There is a link to a slide show of Hannah that was made for the funeral. I watched this 15 minute video of her daughter and cried. I kept thinking how lucky I am that my kids are still alive, and how much I would miss them if something were to happen.

I cherish what I have even more now. I love and hold my children closer and tighter. I take more pictures and act goofy with them. Anything can happen and I want my kids to know that I love them completely.

Monday, August 06, 2007

How to get your motivation back

If you are lacking some motivation for productivity in your life, it may be because you've got something on your mind that's been there for too long. A project that's been sitting for a while can become a drain mentally even when you aren't working on it. Sometimes getting a project onto a list isn't enough. When a project isn't just a dream, but something that needs to be accomplished it can still drain energy.

Get starting by finding the project that really nags at you. You'll know it pretty quickly. When you read through your list it's the one that makes your stomach turn, the one that people say something about, or the one that is really visible and you worry about someone saying something about. Decide that this project is no longer on hold, but that the rest of things will be. You may say right here "but my current projects are too important to put on hold". That may be, but you would be getting them done better and faster without this energy drain.

Accomplish one of those long waiting projects and your energy will soar.

I have had this problem myself. I have gone a long time without feeling like I was performing up to my ability. I would do great things while at work, my creativity was high, my performance was, my mood was great, then I'd go home and feel down. I'd walk into my house and see the unfinished living room wall. The wall that looked the same for the past 14 months. Some time before we bought our house the front porch had been turned into a room of the house. However, the giant picture window had never been removed, it remained offering a view of the next room. The previous owners never had a problem with this, however, with three kids my wife and I were worried that this could be a disaster. As soon as we could we set on removing the window, you can see pictures at my previous post Living Room Changes and More Living Room Pics

However, since that day, the wall remained the same, unfinished. Just a piece of drywall, ugly. I would walk into the house and it would stare at me. After too many months of explaining it away I finally said "that's enough, this is getting done today". It was not a convenient task. I had to move the furniture out of the room and keep the kids busy without them tromping through the highest traffic room of the house. With a day of frustration for my wife, who had to deal with the kids, I was able to finish the wall and get it painted, now it looks like a normal wall. In the few days since then, my desire to be productive has soared.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Organize your life with this free to do list

Swift To-Do List Lite is a great Desktop tool. The install is very simple. Just download the setup program and run it. There's nothing to it.

Using the application is extremely intuitive. There are keyboard shortcut, which is a huge advantage. Many web applications lack keyboard shortcuts, I love the keyboard and do my best to shun the mouse.

Even though the application is extremely easy to use and understand there is also a great online manual.

The best attribute of this application that I've found so far for this is that it can be used very easily by anyone. The professional version states that it has unlimited tasks and to do lists. I haven't hit the limit on tasks or To-Do lists yet. However, once I do, I'll probably be ready to upgrade to the professional version. By that point the application will be such an ingrained part of my routine that staying with it will be worth the price. Erin uses this on our home computer to make to-do lists for me, and her, as well as to keep track of what we need for our groceries.

I do have a few complaints. Everything is saved locally. This prevents online sharing between computers. I love the offline version, but being able to upload the list to a service and view all of my to-do items from wherever I have the application installed would be nice. I've also started trying to limit the applications that I use to applications that will run entirely on my USB drive. I will post more about these later. Having to install locally means that I have to have the computer that has my list on it with me in order to see what I have to do.

All in all this is a great application that I will continue to use at least until the limit of the free version is reached. There are too many benefits to replace it with something that I would have to pay for.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Getting more done.

I'm a big GTD (Getting Things Done) proponent, which means that I create a list of things that need to be done and do my best to accomplish them, or at least realize that I'm not going to do a specific thing for a reason.

I'm also a minimalist. I prefer to have the least amount of crap that I need. When I'm done with something I give it away or throw it away. I don't like to keep things that I don't need and won't use again.

Lately I've been lacking on both fronts. I've accumulated piles of things that I know I don't need, and I haven't been accomplishing as many things as I could and should be.

The problem appears to be that I spend too much time on odd random things that have aren't accomplishing anything and don't fit with any of my life goals. Mainly, I spend too much time watching television. I love watching baseball, and try to accomplish something of use while doing it, but I tend to get distracted by the play and just sit and stare.

The solution is that I'm working on making checklists of things to do. I subscribe to Productivity501, and I'm using the habits checklist that he created, if you want it, you'll have to subscribe to his RSS Feed.. I have made a list of habits that I want to have that match up with things that I want to be doing in both my personal and professional life. I have recently cleaned up my TODO lists. They were overrun with tasks that were completed and no longer necessary. I had too many reference notes where they didn't belong, and not enough details on some things. Now my task lists are more focused and detailed with only the things that I need to do. I'm looking at trying out some new software to help organize these. I love the interface for MonkeyGTD, and I've been using it for quite some time now, but there are some severe limitations that are causing me pain. For someone just getting started this is a great tool, but as you grow, you may find that you also outgrow this tool.

I've also cleaned up and organized better my use of the TiddlyWiki. I've grown to like this more than MonkeyGTD. It just stores the data that you type, and lets you type your lists and add notes quickly by turning a list item into a new Tiddler (think page).

I'm also looking for other tools that will help me. We've started using Swift To-Do Lite at home. This has been working well. We use it to track todo items that Erin wants to add to my list, as well as to keep track of groceries that we need. The checklist function is nice and it can be printed.

The bigger issue though has been distractions. When I'm on the computer, I try to not let myself wander. If I notice that I'm not doing something that helps me accomplish something on my list somewhere, then I'm not doing something worth-while. If what I'm doing is interesting enough that I want to continue. I add it to my list. But the bigger distraction is the TV. Erin and I have discussed it and both have agreed that it's time to turn it off. Today the cable man came and turned off our television. We now only have the 5 channels that we can get with the antenna. That removes almost all baseball distractions, and most of my football distractions. With football just around the corner I won't be as tempted to sit in front of ESPN all day on Saturday, and then the networks all day on Sunday. Plus I'll no longer get Monday Night football now that it's on ESPN. There are now 6-10 more hours a week that I won't have the TV distracting me, and I'll probably start getting dizzy with the amount of things that I will accomplish.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Running towards...another run.

There have been a lot of biggest, best, and firsts for me this year with running.

I am getting closer to running my first marathon. Now practically every long run that I do is a new longest run for me. I just had my best month ever. I've been running off and on now for the past 12 years and I've never surpassed 70 miles in a month. I came close in May by getting to 68, but I missed a run and didn't make it. My long runs for June worked out in such a way that I was only at 62, plus I missed another run. However, for July I have bested the 70 milestone and the 80 milestone at the same time. I ended up with 82.8. I'm about to run my first half marathon in a few years. This is the first time that I have a legitimate shot at finishing in 2:30 or less.

And yet, none of these have been destinations for me. They are all just milestones that I accomplish with an end goal only of running more, faster, and easier. I've never been much of an "It's the Journey" type of person, but with my running this year I've spent a lot of time thinking about the marathon. This has been the end goal of my 12 years of running. I started years ago with the single goal of running a marathon. It would prove to my PE teacher, Coach Cann, that I could live a healthy lifestyle even without participating in PE at school. I would do something outside of school that I never could do because of school. I would run 26.2 miles. Now the goal is in sight, it's less than 10 miles further than my longest run, it's only another 2 hours, I can make it.

I keep asking, But then what? Is my life as a runner over because I've finally eclipsed the one and only goal that I set out to accomplish. As a very goal oriented person does that mean that I'll fall apart without a further goal? I can set hundreds of running goals, but will push me to do more better than I have done trying to reach this one. Then it hit me, the same as it probably hits everyone when they finally realize that it is the journey. On October 21st I'm going to run 26.2 miles. It's going to be a great personal achievement. It's going to be just one day's run in the past 12 years. I have hundreds of memories from those runs of things that I've gone through. I've been chased by dogs and cows, I've been confronted by a red fox and sent deer scattering at the sound of my footsteps pounding down the road. I've run in 105 degree heat, and gotten up as early as 3:30 AM to run. I've run my first mile, collapsed in despair and did it again. I've run speed drills, fartlek, track sessions, and just gone out and run without an end in mind. There are so many visions of thins that flit back through my mind, and many conversations fill my head with images of things that I've seen or experienced while running. When I run the marathon on October 21st, it will be a great achievement of that journey. It will be a celebration of more than 12 year preparation. And it will be another step of the journey of my running life. A journey with no destination, just simply a journey.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An electric plane

Sonex Aircraft and AeroConversions Show Electric Propulsion System for Sport Aircraft

This is very cool. The company Sonex Aircraft is working on making an electric plane. Granted this plane will not be used for passengers (just a pilot) and won't be hauling anything. Their stated goal is simply to make a plane that can be used to set electric flight records, but there are some very interesting technologies discussed in here. I think this is good. It's another outlet for engineers to biuld and test electric motors. Everytime someone does this the chances for a breakthrough that can move us closer to an electric car society happen. That is awesome.

I hope they succeed in their tests and that they are able to contribute something new to the overall electric car race that is going on.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's your soap box?

Have you ever been talking to someone when your blood starts pumping, your adrenaline flowing, and then wham, your in the middle of an hour long tirade about a topic that you absolutely love to discuss?

Everyone has something that they are really passionate about. It's that one topic that gets you excited. This is what you are passionate about. Think about it, find out what topic you could just go on and on and on about never getting tired of.

My passion is and has been "thinking for yourself" and "lifelong learning". I can get really pumped up about these and rattle on for hours on end. I don't think that everyone needs to be in the same profession or needs to take the same path in life, but I believe that everyone should be able to think enough for themselves to say yes or no to a situation with a sound argument behind their thought, and people should constantly be trying to improve.

Thinking for yourself is philosophy, religion, politics, logic. These are some of the topics that are considered taboo for discussion in order to prevent people from getting worked up. I don't have a problem with that. I don't even mind a heated argument, so long as the reasoning is sound. My only complaint is that someone does something because that's the way it's always been. As part of thinking for yourself you need to constantly push the boundaries. Ask, probe, study, find an answer and come to a conclusion.

Lifelong learning is self-evident. I believe that no matter where we are in our lives there is always more that we can add to the world if we continue to learn. I don't just mean that you should constantly be learning how to be better at your job. People should learn how to be better people. They should learn about technology, crafts, art, history, philosophy, parenting, athletics. These are all things that can add to the fullness of your life and to the influence that you may have on others. Knowing more about these topics can make you better parents and friends. You may not be passionate about history, but when you come across someone who is, then you'll be able to have a great conversation with him about it. You may not care much for art, but being able to discuss it with someone who is can open up a new world to you. Knowing about something is a great start to meeting new people and finding people who are passionate about that.

Lately there have been other topics that I've become more passionate about. Things that I want to start discussing with others. I have been interested in energy and eco-friendly energy for a long time. The internet has been a great place for me to learn more about this. I read more about wind farms and hybrid cars and wave farms, and solar panels every day, I'm constantly in touch with this topic.

I have read the book "Getting Things Done" and gone to the one day seminar to listen to the author talk. Reading the book was awesome and I have made a lot of changes to things in my life in the past year because of it. Going to the seminar was even more amazing. I had read the book and listened to his seminar on CD, but just being there with him was electric. This is what he is passionate about and I wanted to catch more of it. I want to run around converting people to the GTD way of life, but most people don't care. They don't see a need for it and don't want to do it. I read about GTD every day online as well.

Fitness is the last topic that I'm becoming more passionate about. Like everyone I've always known that I should try to be fit, but as I'm becoming healthier and getting closer to accomplishing my goal of running a marathon, there are so many things that I wish I could do to help others through the same journey that I've taken. I have been active on SparkPeople for the past 7 months and love being there. I chat with other people who are trying to lose weight, or who have lost it and are working to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day. I've met a great group of runners ranging from someone just starting about every week, to some people who have run many marathons. These people all have great stories and are very supportive of each other. The entire community is great. I want to share everything that I've enjoyed with anyone and everyone that I meet.

I've carried on enough about my passions, what are you passionate about? Leave me a comment and let me know.