Sporadic sharing, rants and quips. I will definitely not be writing in here on a daily basis - only as the urge hits me. I hope to write entries that are fun, funny, or thought-provoking. Feedback is invited.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
One of the Gang
Is This What Civilized People Do?
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Girlie Construction Men
This weekend we removed all cabinet doors in the kitchen, then removed their hardware, and painted them. We remediated the flooring in one room to prepare for hardwood floors. We installed a new toilet in the upstairs bathroom (except the water thingy is 1/2" too short...). Since we got a bunch of veggies from the CSA on Thursday, Josh made a big stew, as well as two different kinds of squash, and a focacia bread.
So, after working hard all day in grungy clothes doing the above and a bunch of other stuff, we sat down to a candle-light dinner of food that was about the best I've tasted from Josh's cooking--truly spectacular.
We decided other guys doing construction probably don't do the same thing. :o)
Too busy now, and never fear: I'll upload a bunch of renovation photos when we're done. We have to get this house on the market!
Monday, October 27, 2008
See Obama Being Elected
The year is 2016. We glance at the television one morning and see Barack Obama having another of his many press conferences. He has now been in office for almost 8 years.
It hasn't been perfect, but things are way better than when he took office in January of 2009. You notice that his hair has whitened and he still has that winning smile and that take charge/positive energy that he had when he was campaigning way back in 2008.
You remember back to how concerned you were about whether or not he would win in 2008 and you feel deeply contented that he has been safely in office for such a long time.
He and Congress have done much to address global warming, health care, development of alternative energy sources and a variety of other important matters to the country and the planet. You feel deep gratitude for the past eight years and how things have unfolded.
Pass it on.
Lets stop fighting against McCain and Palin, and start working 'for' Obama-Biden. Lets stop driving ourselves crazy with all of the outrageous mind upsetting details about them and start remembering all of the wonderful reasons we want Obama.
THE CHALLENGE: take 30 seconds right now. Close your eyes and imagine exactly what our country will feel like with President Obama.
Imagine how good it will feel.
Imagine whatever it is about him that you desire.
Imagine the pride.
Imagine the diplomacy.
Imagine the peace.
Imagine the citizen groups.
Imagine being very proud of your country and its leader.
Imagine whatever it is that draws you to support Obama.
Imagine what your life will look like.
30 seconds. Do it several times a day. We can shift and change the vibration of this country with positive visions just like this. It's only 30 seconds a few times a day.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This directly from Mom:
Today he walked down the hall with a cane. When he comes home Friday, there will be no wheel chair as was first planned on, just the walker. Today we had a conference with the Dr., an OT, a PT and 2 social service folk to get info and ask questions. Got a few instructions. He will have therapists come to our home every couple days. They will inform the Dr. regarding his competence, etc. They will also suggest how to make his life go well here. He has recovered remarkably well. Will have to keep him moving to have it continue. Maybe some walks around the bridge table. We should be playing in a short time.
He's doing really remarkably well. I returned him to the hospital Sunday night after his furlough. Other than being ready to catch him if he needed it and pushing his wheelchair, I did not help him at all, not even transferring, not even changing his clothes.
Friday, September 12, 2008
SOLD! One Down, Two to Go
Thursday, September 11, 2008
We Deserve McCain/Palin
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Dad Had a Stroke
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Lots has been going on. Josh and I have been working madly to get his house ready for sale. While it's been going well overall, things are, uh, happening. It's like the house knows what we're doing, doesn't want him to leave, and wants to get me out of the way. Seriously--it's like a bad horror movie I saw once about a house that killed the family that lived there! With all the flooding a couple months ago we've spent a fair amount of time in the basement; we've installed two new sump pumps (impact drills are a BLAST!), and Josh, mostly, cleaned and painted the floors and walls.
JUST when we got done cleaning the floors I go upstairs to get ready for a shower. I use the toilet and flush it. I hear Josh yell downstairs. The capped-off drain has water coming out of it. What the... We thought maybe we broke the cap with the stuff we used to etch the basement. Josh paid a plumber to come in to put on a new $4 cap. ;-) However, he suggested the cap wasn't the problem, as there shouldn't be enough pressure to force the water out. He suggested the line needs roto-rooting.
During all this time in the basement, I was continually attacked by venting. Josh has a low basement ceiling and ducts that hang even lower. I have numerous scars on the top of my head now. I guess you could also consider that I'm just too stupid to learn to bend down enough.
Yesterday Josh put in the last piece of trim, completing the last wall upstairs. And not without a fight. The last piece needed to be cut at an angle, and of course the miter needed to be flatter than 45°, so we had to do lots of improvisation with the chop saw. My visual mind comes in quite handy for stuff like this, so it turned out pretty well--it just took an inordinately long time.
On my way out the back door at one point I caught my ankle on the corner of the storm door, and it put a nice little gash on my right ankle. Great--the house has already tasted my blood in the basement, and apparently wants more. Will I get out of there alive?
We met our Realtor, Connie, a few weeks ago. She's great. We planned out all the stuff we want to leave in the house for staging, and what's going--either into the garage, to my house, or St. Vinny's. I did all kinds of cleaning this weekend while Josh worked on other projects.
And this brings us to the big change: Josh is moving in to my house tonight, along with his two cats, Feliz and Maggie. So I'm doing something I've never done before at age 41: living with a partner. And we have to do the whole protocol on combining feline families; his girls will have to stay in a bedroom for a full month.
I've been so looking forward to out living together, because I'm really tired of having to cross town to spend time together. And I realized last week that there's some anxiety about that as well. I've been used to living alone (maybe with a roommate, but that's not like a partner) for many years. What will this be like? Add the stress of combining cat households and it gets more significant. That didn't go so incredibly well when Raja came to live here, and he and Butterscotch never were truly friendly--the formed a sort of detente.
So, after church we go back over to Josh's house to do more cleaning and moving stuff. There's more to write, but I'm starving for pancakes.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Information Overload to Overlord
Part 4 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!
The ChallengeThere is more information generated in the U.S. in one day than any of us could digest in our lifetimes. And sometimes that's what our inbox feels like. I've experienced that myself. I felt inundated by good or even great tips, hints, techniques, learnings, that I couldn't keep up. I also got information from other sources: the web, pictures on my cell phone, etc. Note to mention my own ideas!
How do you organize all those different kinds of information? I tried Word documents, wiki pages, etc., and none of it was satisfactory. And then I tripped on the answer.
The Solution—EvernoteEvernote is amazing. It's a program you install on your computer (Windows, Mac, iPhone, etc.) where you can put just about anything, and then organize it.
Get an email with a great marketing idea? Highlight the pertinent paragraph and click the "Add to Evernote" button. It will become an entry in your Evernote notebook (of which you can have several) that contains the header information of the email and the paragraph you just highlighted. You can then add tags of your own design (marketing, great idea, etc.). You can even click a link that will open the original email!
Same thing on the web: I've been doing home renovations and was having a challenge with the trim in one of the bedrooms. I found a GREAT online tutorial for installing trim. I highlighted the whole thing—pictures and all—and copied it into Evernote. It was saved perfectly, as well as a link to the web page where I found it.
Now comes the really valuable (ok, and fun) part: click into the search box and start typing. As you type, Evernote highlights words in every entry that match what you're typing as you type it, and filters out any entries that don't have that word! Thus, if you have 3,000 entries and only one with the word "didgeridoo," probably by the time you type "didg" you'll be looking at that one lone note. Evernote has indexed all of the information in your entries. Excellent!
Oh, but wait, cuz there's something even cooler: I was shopping for doors for the closet in said bedroom. I took pictures with my cell phone of the signs with the prices. I came home and pasted them into Evernote. That picture has words in it, right? Evernote reads the text in pictures and indexes them, too! So, if I took six pictures of signs, I can just type the word "door" and it will filter down to include those entries. Or "pine," etc.
If that weren't enough, you can sync your notebook to your mobile device and have access to it there as well! As well as adding entries on your phone (pictures, words), and sync it back to your computer. You can also make notebooks public and sync them to the web. Then you can share them with friends or colleagues. You can do the same type of search on the web of entering words and filtering those entries that have them.
How else could you use Evernote? How about ideas for blog entries, marketing ideas, capturing whiteboards of meetings on your phone, having all of your 'ideas' available to you, both at home and at work, going paperless by taking pictures of all of those scraps and notes on your desk, organizing recipes, research, tracking books you want, gifts to by, and on and on.
And organizing them all with tags. Takes my breath away!
Evernote is officially in Beta, so you'll need to "register" to try it. Don't worry—it's free.
Your Next Steps
- Learn more about Evernote.
- Go to Register to test Evernote Beta and get a response in a day or so.
- Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I'll answer them in a future blog entry
- Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I'd love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
What a Knob
I've learned that to be most successful, it's best that one has experience in doing this type of work.
Next-best is having a level of intelligence to figure things out and think ahead.
I've learned time and time again that I'm often a moron about this stuff.
Next-next-best is to have high standards for the work.
Oh, this I have. And it's a blessing and a curse. Quite often my standards surpass my ability to meet them, and I end up frustrated or re-working things ad nauseum and still not reaching the level of quality I want.
Next3-best is to be stubborn.
OK, now we're getting somewhere. I have this in spades.
Let's look at tonight. What's on the agenda? Touch up the paint in the third bedroom and finish painting the door and install it. I'm touching up the paint, and I'm noticing that there a funny smudges of paint appearing on the floor. Huh? I cleaned those up last night. ? They're so flat that almost look like-- Oh. I stepped on paint on the drop cloth and I'm walking around the room. Take off shoes. Scrape up paint.
Now to the door. I've already gone through the whole thing of stripping the old paint, during which I gouged the door in a few places. To fix the gouges? Wood filler. Great! It's dry, I sanded, here we go. I paint the door white... and it bleeds through. Second layer--bleeds through. Third layer--bleeds through (remember the deal about being stubborn?). Finally I checked with Josh, "Did you prime it?" Uh, no; I didn't know I needed to. So last night I primed both sides. *sigh* ok.
Tonight. I paint the last coat with the color I want. Great. It's covered. It's done. Great. I install the new strike plate I bought. Doesn't match the other hardware, but whatever--it looks good. At least it's not painted over like it was (all the hardware: strike plates, hinges, etc. were all painted over! They looked like crap!). I'm replacing it all.
Next step: install the new door knob. OK, think now, Jay. Do this right so you don't have to redo it. I have pretty good spatial skills, so this shouldn't be a big deal. I imagine the door. I imagine standing at the door in the room. OK, this is right. I get out the door knob. Oh look, it comes with its own strike plate! *sigh* OK, well the other ones I bought can go to the Re-Store...
I've never installed a door knob before, although getting the old one off was a b****. It was the old kind with the cover plate, and I ended up using a straight-headed screwdriver, which took forever.
I read the instructions. Easy enough. Put in the thing, add the knobs (think, Jay: lock goes on the inside. Check!). Then put in the screws. What the-- How do you easily screw in screws on a doorknob?! Answer: there is no easy way. I even tried Google searches. Nothing. I even bought one of those angled screwdriver things, and it was a pain. I was simultaneously stripping the screw head and scratching the knob with it.
I seem to notice repeatedly that it's never the big things that slow me down. It's always the little, piddliest s***** things that hang me up.
I finally ended up--you guess it--using a straight screwdriver and coming in at an angle. Whew. ok. Done. The screw is a bit stripped, but I'll never have to take it off, so who cares (you're smart enough to see where this is headed; smarter than me, obviously).
Next, the hinges. I bought these nice hinges that match the knobs. They have square corners instead of rounded ones, so I screw them in, then use a utility knife to mark the parts I have to carve out. I thought that was pretty smart, actually. I like doing these kinds of things empirically. It worked well. I need to fix some of the paint, but so be it. I installed both hinges on the door. Great.
Next, let's install the door. I take it in to the room and-- Wait. Why is the knob so high? Oh, cuz I'm a jackass is why--when I was visualizing the door I had it upside-down. That means I (!#$%*$#$%) installed the door knob with the lock out! (^%^#$%~#$!#$!) OK, deal with that in a second. First get empirical again: put the door on the jamb, and take a scraper and hammer it at the edges to mark where I need to trim.
Next is the knob, but I need another success first. A little one will do. I take off the shiny brass strike plate and put on the matching one. yeah. a success. far out.
Now take off the door knob (forever), switch it around and install it again (forever and a day). OK, time I'll never get back in this lifetime, but the knob is right now.
Then take off the door and trim the wood. Put the door back on. Hm. The paint isn't perfect. Maybe a light sanding, but NOT TONIGHT.
Apart from that, just the shelf and rod in the closet and closet doors. although the opening is 3-1/8" larger than the standard door size. I'll get frustrated with that tomorrow...
Monday, June 09, 2008
Water Levels Rising, Captain!
Parte UnWhile I don't mind water, what my house does with it pisses me off.
I have a couple of big trees over my house; they are forever depositing crap onto my roof that, therefore, ends up in my gutters.
Now, these are new gutters that I had installed after I (yeah, myself with friends) reroofed the house. The guys who installed the gutters and downspouts have an ingenious method for installing the downspouts in such a way that they are SURE to trap every leave, helicopter or dust mote, thereby clogging my gutters. They cut an "X" in the gutter, bend the four flaps created down and out (but not to 90 degrees), then secure the downspout by screwing a 1.5" nail IN so that there are now SIX sharp objects available for trapping debris.
It literally takes about 5 leaves for the whole thing to come to a screeching halt. With huge trees over my house, how often do you think that happens? Yes, less than a day.
The gutters I had when I bought this house were rusty--even rusted through on the front (CLUE IN JAY). I had new ones installed, and thought that they were using extra-large downspouts. Imagine my dismay when I'm laying in bed one morning during a gentle rain, hearing the rain slosh over the sides of the gutter and pouring onto the deck. @#$%@#$!
So, fine, I went up and cleaned them out. Oh, and those sharp corners and screws? Of course I cut myself. Once.
So they were full again this weekend. We didn't have time before church, so afterward we came back and I got up on the roof (don't worry, I have a great ladder) and cleaned them out. That was around noon. I then worked at Josh's during the day getting stuff out of his basement so that he can clean and paint. I get home at 5:30 and they're full again! @#$%@#$%@#$! So, in the pouring rain I went up again and cleaned out the few little leaves that were blocking. *Sigh*
My brother Jim, who's an engineer and genius to boot, put pieces of screen over his gutters so that water would flow in and debris would stay on top. I think that would work for leaves, but I'm not sure about the smaller stuff. I'm going to give it a shot. I've heard that Gutter Helmets are useless with trees above the house. I'm also going to go back and do it right (as with so many other things in this house) by removing the downspouts, bending out the "X" pieces at a full 90 degrees, and reattaching the downspouts with a little bolt with the ROUNDED END on the inside. Would that be so freaking difficult?
If anyone else has a great, even easy, suggestion for me that works great, I'll buy you lunch. I'm not kidding.
After I clean out the gutters and have just finished making the window frame square in the third bedroom (another correction of past sins...), I get a frantic call from Josh: his basement is filling with water and he's pretty upset. He has two basement rooms, one newer than the other. The new, smaller laundry room gets water in it that he needs to shopvac out when the water table is high. Well, last night the big room was filling. Luckily he has his stuff elevated.
When I get to his house I find the basement with inches of water in it. I brought my two water pumps. We worked for several hours, me pumping and bailing water, and him patching as much of the wall as he could with Quickcrete. However, with the water table that high, it's not a winning battle. The back yards in this block are all lower than the fronts and there was a small ocean in them. Josh's neighbor Bill usually pumps out the lake to the street with a huge pump he has, but even Bill's garage had stuff floating in it. An amazing amount of water.
We knocked off at Midnight after I printed several different sets of instructions for installing a sump pump. Josh purchased two today and will jerry rig them for now until he can get them installed correctly. He was so grateful that I dropped everything and came over.
Hey, that's why I'm here.
Hm. I guess that kinda puts my gutters into perspective...
Given: I have a horrible memory for some things: anything related to history such as dates, times, places; what I had for lunch yesterday; where I put my keys; etc.
Therefore: I like systems. A lot.
When I was a kid I'd misplace things and get really frustrated a lot. I discovered that if I did things in consistent ways, I wouldn't lose my stuff. Further, if I took steps so that I couldn't help but use the system, I'd be much better off.
Here's an example: if I need to remember to take something to work, leave it on the counter, under my keys (of course, I always leave my keys on the counter).
Another: Since I have a flexible work schedule, I set all work reminders to the previous workday (24 hours during the week, the previous Friday if on Monday), so that I will remember to be in to work for a morning meeting.
Well, here's another system I have: when I'm done with, say, a jar of vitamins in the bathroom, I turn it upside down and put it on the shelf in front of me. This is my signal to get more.
Well, imagine my surprise the other night when, in low light, I find that my toothpaste (Mentadent--it has its own little stand) is upside-down! How odd... And later I see the kleenex on the toilet is upside-down. How odd... [Warning: I'm kinda slow.] Sunday morning I hear an odd noise in the bathroom, and see my little piggy bank is upside down; Josh says he's playing with it. That morning while getting ready, I realize that EVERYTHING on my bathroom counter that doesn't have an impossibly high center of gravity when turned upside-down is flipped! Yes, Josh has been surreptitiously flipping everything in my bathroom. I laughed and laughed--first at his thinking to do that, second at how long it took me to clue in. And I'm thinking about the time I'll be at his house alone, and will flip everything in his fridge, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, etc...
Josh doesn't "waste time" on the internet, so he'll never read this. So please don't tell him.
Find it Now - Google Desktop
Part 3 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!
The ChallengeI'm sure you've had this experience just like I have: I got an email... about that thing... from that guy... where is it? Is it in the marketing folder? Nope. Events? Nope. Where IS it?
It can be very frustrating to not be able to find things on the computer: an email, a link to a website, a document. Have you ever thought, "When I look for something on the internet, I use Google. Wouldn't it be nice if I could do that on my own computer?"
Guess what: You can.
The Solution: Google DesktopWhat Google search does on the web, Google Desktop does on your computer: it goes through all the files on your computer (you can customize the directories) and emails on your system, as well as pages you view on the internet, and indexes them.
The next time you want to find something, you hit ctrl-ctrl, and a "Quick Search Box" appears in the middle of your screen. Type the words you're looking for, and as you type a dropdown list dynamically updates with each new word you type. Hit the button, and a browser window opens and shows you the results of the search, just look Google for the web.
An example of the Quick Search Box (click on it for a larger view).
You can also refine the search: emails only, graphics, documents, and within each of these, even finer granularity. For emails, all those TO me, FROM me, or to or from any of the individuals who are listed with any of the emails that match your search.
An example of results in the browser (click on it for a larger view).
There is even more to Google Desktop, including Google Gadgets and Sidebar. I don't use these much, although others might find them enjoyable.
I do have one warning: If you have a HUGE amount of emails and documents (and I mean huge: I have 700 MB of emails), Google Desktop may slow down computer performance. So, YMMV (your mileage may vary) and proceed at your own risk.
That said, I've never had problems with Google Desktop. Google makes great products—easy to install, intuitive to use. And yes, it's available for Mac and Linux.
I no longer worry about not being able to find things, as long as I can remember a fairly unique combination of words contained in the document, email or web page. This is a great way to turbo-boost your tech life!
Your Next Steps
- Learn more about Google Desktop and how it works.
- Go to Download it now and get started!
- Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I'll answer them in a future blog entry
- Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I'd love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future!
Next issue: A truly amazing way to organize specific information on your computer, even words in graphic images, to quickly find it, then share it on the web with others!
Monday, June 02, 2008
Free Your Mind - Jott
Part 2 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!The quote "Free your mind" comes from the movie The Matrix, when Morpheus wants Neo to let go of the limitations of his beliefs to see new possibilities.
While this column may not allow you to stop bullets or leap hundreds of yards, I believe it will show you new possibilities that you can attain quickly to spend less time adminstrating and more time living your life.
The ChallengeThe title of this entry is quite literal. I used to carry so much junk around in my head: groceries I needed, errands to run, dates to remember, and a bunch of other to-dos. Given that my memory isn't all that great to begin with, it took a lot of energy, and wasted a bunch of "RAM" that I could be using for more creative endeavors.
So I started using systems: I started keeping a calendar in Outlook, grocery lists and to-do lists on paper. That helped. And there were still way too many things I kept in my head.
Or, worse yet, I'd be driving my 17- to 20-minute commute to work and remember, "oh yeah, gotta get the car serviced... oh yeah, gotta email Beth... Oh yeah, I need milk..." and a thousand other oh-yeahs.
Listen, the RAM comment may seem like hyperbole, but I mean it. Do you know how much creative energy you spend remembering stuff? I'd be willing to bet it weighs you down more than you think.
What do you do with your oh-yeahs, especially when you're driving? Simply attempt to remember it better—maybe use a mnemonic device? Write it down on one of those pads that's sunction-cupped to your windshield (yikes!)? Leave yourself a voicemail? Record a voice memo on your cell phone?
The Solution: JottI no longer do any of those things. I use a free service called Jott to put the information right where it belongs. This is an ultimate "touch it once" method: no longer will you have to write down or record something so that you later have to transfer it to your schedule, to do list, etc. Jott it and be done!
Jott receives your phone call, converts your words into text, and then sends the words where they need to go. No training of the system is required to recognize your voice. Some examples:
- Email: Above I remembered I needed to send an email to Beth. I would call her, but I need to make two other calls while I drive, and Beth likes to talk (I do, too; just not right now!) I call Jott via the speed dial on my cell phone (using my Bluetooth headset for safety!), say Beth's name, confirm, then speak what I want her to read: "Hi Beth. Would you like to meet at Monty's—M-O-N-T-Y-apostrophe-S—Blue Plate for lunch on Thursday at noon? Let me know. Thanks!" Beth gets an email with these words, and Monty's will be spelled correctly. If the transcription wasn't perfect, she can click the link to listen to my original audio message.
- Email a Group! On the Jott site you upload all of your contacts, or define them on the site. You can then arrange them into as many different groups as you like, each with as many members as you want. When Josh and I went on vacation to Palm Springs in February, I remembered on the way to the airport that I had forgotten to email everyone when I was leaving and returning, which is my custom. I called Jott: "Family members... Yes... Hi all: Josh and I are getting on a plane in an hour for Palm Springs. We'll be gone until the twenty-sixth. I'll post some blog entries of the fun stuff while we're there. Enjoy the snow!" An email was sent to all of my siblings (I'm the youngest of seven) and my parents.
- Update your schedule: In Part 1 of this series. I talked about keeping a schedule in Google Calendar. Check this out: I call my mechanic to make an appointment for maintenance on Thursday at 8 am. I don't want to simply remember this, so I call Jott: "Google Calendar... Car maintenance Thursday at 8 am." That's it! Jott allows links to more than 20 different online services, including Google Calendar. When I go to look at my calendar, there will be a one-hour appointment Thursday at 8 with "Car maintenance" as the subject. How cool is that!
- Other Online Services: of the 20+ services to which Jott connects, there are several online to-do lists, including Remember the Milk. So I Jott: "Remember the milk... yes... Buy a gallon of milk." and it appears on my to-do list.
- Blog! This one may seem silly, yet it actually works well: I have Jott hooked up to my Blogger account. Officially you can record up to a 30-second Jott, although i've gone for up to a minute and not be cut off (yet I have been cut off before). When in Palm Springs I used Jott twice to make blog entries. See the last three entries on the bottom of this page. Once again, Jott puts a link in the blog entry so that readers can hear the initial recording if something is unclear.
- Remind yourself: I'm going through my day and I want to remember before leaving work to run an errand on my way home. I don't want to put it in a to-do list, I just want a reminder. Jott to the rescue: "MYSELF... Stop at Home Depot and get more varnish... [do you want a reminder?] Yes [what date?] today [what time?] 4:50 [am or pm?] pm [setting reminder for today at 4:50 pm. Is this correct] Yes... [Jott sent]" Between 4:35 and 4:50, Jott will send a text message to my cell phone with the reminder. It's like having my own secretary!
Every time you Jott, Jott sends you an email to confirm the Jott. This gives you an opportunity to confirm the transcription, and the email even contains a confidence level of the transcription (high, medium or low). If it got something wrong (and it does sometimes; it's not perfect), you can then correct it if necessary by sending another email, etc. And I almost never need to do this.
I've covered the highlights of Jott, and there's more. Go to www.jott.com to learn more and sign up for your free account. Oh yeah, free? Yes, they are officially in Beta. I'm guessing at some point there will be a fee, and for now, I'm lovin' it for free.
Once you use Jott, email me and I'll send you my trick for Jotting in loud places like restaurants with 95% accuracy!
Your Next Steps
- Learn more about Jott and how it works.
- Go to http://www.jott.com/ and sign up for a free account.
- Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I'll answer them in a future blog entry.
- Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I'd love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future.
Next issue: find that one email from that one guy about that one thing...
When I was younger I began to have these dreams, but they started oddly. At first I'd dream that I could just spread my arms and put my head back and I'd begin floating up. But I'd often be stopped by power lines or something. As time went on I was actually more and more successful at flying. I also had dreams as a kid where I could breathe under water, but those are much more rare.
Several years ago I was doing intense personal work. During that time I had flying dreams pretty consistently. I've never really known their significance: are they a wish to be free? Are they a representation of being free? Dunno.
Last night's dream was interesting. Where sometimes the flying isn't completely reliable, last night it was. I tend to fly about head height in my dreams--going too high (over 100') can feel dangerous. Well, last night I was flying at head height (that would be about 5'10" for me), and it occurred to me I was being silly--I could get there faster if I flew higher instead of following the sidewalk. : ) After all, that's what Superman does, right?
So I did. Although (and here comes some random dream-noise, I'm convinced), I ended up flying inside this VERY TALL building that was an exclusive club. Why did they have doors 40' feet high? Dunno. The 'bouncer' guy didn't want me entering, and he somehow grabbed onto my legs. I told him he'd better let go as I could fly higher and it would be dangerous. He wouldn't let go until I left the building.
Back outside, I then flew higher to get there quicker. But, just like using Google Maps with satellite-only view, I had a hard time telling where I was, so I went back down to street level. : )
Is this a grand metaphor for my life? Who knows.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Recovery Day 4/First Successful Living Seminar
I ran two miles (1.9, actually) and my calf started hurting, so I went right to cool down. The last thing I need to do is keep aggravating that injury. I think it's time to lay off the running and do some cross-training. I don't know if biking will activate it as well--I'd think it would. I'll give it a shot. It's about time I did some upper body work anyway. (Why is it that all the stuff I love to do builds legs?) I should also get an appointment at Sports Medicine and see how they can help me.
Tonight was the first night of the Successful Living Seminar series, which Karen and I led at New Self. There were about a dozen people there, and it was great fun. We had some great discussion--very thought provoking. It was the first time we taught this course in a 1.5-hour format--it normally last 2.5 or 3 hours. While I don't always enjoy that kind of compression, given that it's a free introductory course, I didn't want to make it too long for people.
Shameless plug: if you are interested in taking part in the upcoming sessions, please do sign up!
I had a sad phone call on the way home, and I'm feeling a bit sad right now. I hope I can help.
Anyway, it's time for bed.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Recovery Day 2
I convinced my coworker friend Ryan to start his own blog. I set it up for him in two minutes. After he starts blogging, I'll put a link to him in here.
It was fun talking to people at work today about the half-marathon. I appreciated everyone's atta-boys and support. I feel even more inspired to do it again. I really want to run another half with these leg injuries gone so that I find out what my next limitation is--is it mind? breathe? energy? I'd also like to get higher than the 13th percentile. : )
Speaking of the 13th percentile, unless I'M misunderstanding it, every time I say I'm at the 13th percentile I'm surprised when people say how impressive that is. I then state, "no, the bottom 13th percentile," and crack up at their response.
Today I was curious where my blog was appearing, so I did a search. I have about 5 seconds of fame by appearing on the Daily Page of our local free, weekly newspaper! Search for "Jay" when you get there. I have no idea how this page gets its content, and I'm tickled they found me.
I was less hungry today, and not quite back to normal. I think I will be by tomorrow. In a few minutes, ibuprofen and bed.
I'm really enjoying perusing others' blog entries. Collin turned me on to searching for blogs. I've been using searches like this one:
Monday, May 26, 2008
Recovery Day 1
With my mathematically-oriented brain I tend to think in terms of efficiency of my path, and that was cranked even higher during this trip: I needed to get paint from aisle 3, woodwork from 8, a vent from 6... I didn't want to waste a single step in the store. I found using the cart helped a lot. Oh God: is this what using a walker is like? Ulp.
While I have often cursed the hot tub I have as being a financial albatross and general pain in the hinder, it was a true blessing. I sat at my computer and iced my left knee for a while, then limped into the spa. I sat in there, dozing actually, for probably 30 minutes. When I got out, I could walk normally! Somebody give me an AMEN! That told me that much of the pain I was experiencing was from tight muscles, so my strategy now is ibuprofen, ice on the joint (lower inflammation) and BenGay on the muscles. Oh, and stretching--always the stretching...
This morning I mowed the lawn, which didn't feel good: pushing the mower up the hill was hell on the left calf. However, it was necessary, lest I get 'kicked off the island' of my neighborhood for not keeping my lawn up. I often hear their drums at night; I better start behaving.
Since the race I have been CONSTANTLY HUNGRY. I ate and ate yesterday, and today I was still hungry, even though my head told me I'd eaten plenty of food earlier and shouldn't be hungry yet. I'm guessing it's a result of the race. Josh and I went to his brother's house to spend time with Josh's family. Brats, potato salad, brownies and ice cream floats. I finally stuffed myself to the point where I think I've reached stasis once again.
Later in the day I was able to walk pretty normally. The speed of recovery is pretty amazing to me, and I'm not going to push it by running this week. We'll see how I feel on the infamous second day after--tomorrow.
Quit Slaving Away—Master Some New Technology!
Part 1 of at least a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!After listening to Victory's interview of Melissa this morning, I was inspired to do some blogging in here to share some of the tools I've used to turbo-charge my own life.
You know, to be honest, I haven't been doing coaching in the strict sense of the word in several years, although I do lots of informal coaching of folks. And I'll tell you why I do it: with anyone I have in my life personally or professionally of any significance, I want them to share some of the systems I use so that I/we don't have to muck around on mundane tasks, and can instead get on with spending time together! Since I'm a geek who enjoys camping out on the leading edge of software products, I can sometimes push right past people's comfort zones with technology. I've since learned to tone it down and get more buy in. Anyway--enough about me; you are likely more interested in the technology.
Are you the Master of the Slave?Right now I have at least 10 ideas of things you may or may not use already, but I'd be willing to bet you don't use most of these things! How would you like to turbo-charge your life in these areas?
- Do you waste time scheduling with the people close to you, or do the back and forth of setting meetings with clients or associates?
- Would you like greater mastery of all of the valuable information that you are flooded with on a daily basis? Do you ever waste time looking for that one email from that one guy about that one thing?
- Do you have a great EASY way to organize and clean up pictures?
- Are you a blog master? Have you dabbled? Do you not know what I'm talking about?
- Do you have a lot of documentation (fancy word for information, procedures or instructions) that you'd like to keep organized for your own use and perhaps share with others?
- Would you like to have a greater number of quick, easy, "soft" connections with people, that allow you to know what's up in their lives without spending a lot of time?
- How much time to you spend on the administration of your life when you'd rather be spending it on living your life!
How about we work together to minimize some of that could-be-better-spent time, eh?
Stop spending time scheduling—Use Google Calendar!I'm sure you already have a calendar of some kind, be it paper or Outlook or something else, and your first response to my suggestion to add yet another makes your stomach hurt.
It'll be ok—stay tuned.
When I was first getting serious with my boyfriend Josh, we were having one helluva time finding time to spend together because we're both pretty busy people. I'd always used Outlook and he'd always used Yahoo! for his calendar. Well, I'd just begun playing with Google Calendar, and I had a great idea.
You see, Google allows you to create multiple calendars for yourself, and SHARE them with others! And you select the access you want others to have: see only free/busy information, see full schedule, make changes to your schedule, manage sharing of your schedule. See my public calendar (new window).
Considering what I mentioned above about pushing people too hard with technology, I suggested we try it. It was a smashing success from Minute 1. Here's a typical screenshot of a week in my calendar:
(I've" shrunk the image to protect privacy.)
The gold is my personal schedule. Blue is Josh's. Brown is time scheduled for ME, sleep and work. Me, sleep and work—are you kidding? Nope. If you don't schedule EVERYTHING then visually it seems like you have a lot of free time that you don't actually have, because you have to sleep! I also schedule two ME! nights each week, which are nights that I DO NOT allow myself to work. I can do laundry or read a book or see Josh, but it's time I invest on me. I hope I don't have to say how valuable that is here... I can also move them around in the week as much as I want, but they have to stay on that week!
Josh and I simply check out our shared calendar when getting an invite from friends, send the other an appointment, and when accepted, accept the friend's invite! Or we plan the time we will spend together, etc. It's been a real godsend.
The green in the upper right marks Memorial Day Weekend. Now look at the list at the left, which is of calendars that I keep with other organizations. I can't tell you HOW USEFUL this is! Others who are involved in the same organization can have these listed on their calendars, and life gets a whole lot easier!
You can also send invitations for any event, and if you use Gmail, all of your contacts are already available (you can also import them).
I keep calendars for: a monthly dinner group of friends, instructors at the Center for Creative Learning, the public calendar for the Center, the Detroit instructing calendar, my half-marathon training schedule (big success!), a public calendar (where others can see my important travel, etc.), and a monthly video group I like to attend.
Don't want to give up your calendar? You don't have to!Google has a program that will automatically synch many calendars directly with the Google Calendar: either your calendar or Google's can "win", or it will synch both ways. Problem solved!
Don't feel like there's a need to keep as many calendars as me—if you keep just one and use some of the techniques I've mentioned, you're way ahead of the game!
Your Next StepsIn each of these columns I will give you some suggested action. If you don't take action on new information soon after learning it, it's as good as gone.
- Read about Getting Started with Google Calendar
- Do you use Google Calendar? Please leave a comment below on a great trick you have, or just share how you enjoy it!
- Have you tried it and gotten stuck? Leave a question below and I'll answer it in an up-coming entry.
- Do you have a technology tip that would be good for this blog? Please share it below or email me directly.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Success at Madison Half-Marathon!
I've been struggling with some injuries from over-training in my left leg involving my IT Band and Posterior Shin Splints. As a result of them, I've done basically no running for the past two weeks with the exception of 20 minutes this past Monday. I was pretty nervous (just ask Josh) about what was going to happen when running 13.1 miles, which, by the way, is the furthest I've ever run in my life. Even in training I only got up to 9 miles in the Dells.
I picked up my race packet yesterday at the Alliant Energy Center and perused the products offered by the merchants at the trade show going on there, although I didn't buy anything because I have set a near-moratorium on spending unnecessary money while working on the house.
I lined everything up last night and felt nervous like a kid before his first day of school. Do I have what I need?
I didn't sleep very well—I was awake and a little anxious between 3 and 4:30 I think. I also woke up in a sweat.
I did some research about what to eat the morning of a race, and opted for my normal routine: protein shake smoothie with fruit and fiber.
Josh and I got to the Alliant Energy Center (where the race ends) to park by 6:15, and were on a shuttle to the Capital Square (where the start was) in a few minute. A really well-run event! Josh was going to carry the backpack with stuff in it, and take my last warmie from me before the race started. I stretched and we waited in line at the porta-potties. LONG LINES, and I made it just in time for the start of the race.
You can see my playful-nervous face at right when they shot the gun for our race. OK, so maybe I wasn't completely being playful. ;o)
My strategy was to shoot for 5.5 or 6 mph during the race while I ran, and to do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. If I was going to make it through the race, I was going to have to be reasonable and give my body a break from time to time, or my leg wouldn't allow me to finish. There were several groups of pace setters whose job it was to do just that--set the pace. One carried a sign with the total goal time and goal time for each mile. I stuck with the 2:20-total group (I think it was 11:47/mile time).
I had a little shock after running about a half mile when I realized in the excitement I'd forgotten to put an ace bandage on my left calf to support the shin splints! Oh well, too late to do anything about it. I focused a great deal on my body, ensuring I was running with a good, smooth form. After about 2 miles I walked for 4 minutes (it felt like enough), and then walked mainly on uphills only. My breathing and energy levels were great. My left IT Band began to tighten up after a few miles, and I just stayed as relaxed as possible. It was OK.
The run was really fun. It reminded me of doing the Devil's Lake Sprint Triathlon with Rachel and Adam in 2002 (I think). I had a dumb smile on my face most of the time. I am so used to running alone with just my iPod that it was a lot of fun to be surrounded by a bunch of people! Also, the folks along the way who cheered for runners were really great. Since they put our names on our race numbers, people often called specific encouragements, "Way to go, Jay!" which felt really fantastic.
After we got to University Avenue, my leg was getting tighter and I walked again. It was at this point that I realized it was more painful to run up hills. I ran up Monroe Street very carefully (I couldn't walk all that way--too much time), and downhills were much more pleasant.
There were police officers along the entire route to direct traffic (or stop it, primarily) and ensure we were safe. I had a lot of gratitude for them.
As I got to mile 10 things were getting more painful. I had to stop at one point to tie my shoe, and starting was a bit difficult. So I decided to not stop again--logical, right? : ) At mile 11 I realized that my 'tank' was beginning to feel a bit empty, so I pulled out the Gu (energy stuff) that I got at the Mile 6 aid station, and ate it. Mmmmm--chocolate! That helped.
Sometime around Mile 11 or 12 the pain in my lower calf started to hint at me, and my focus on my form and body were critical at this point. It was at this point I discovered I could not run up hill--it was too painful. I decided once I got to Mile 12 to pick up the pace and end strong. I hadn't saved very much during the race in terms of total running ability. Had my legs been in good shape I could have run faster. So I picked it up for the last mile.
As I got nearer to the finish my excitement was building. I could hear the music, and the cheering increased. And then I saw the finish line. I picked up the pace again grace a the adrenaline coursing through my body. It was a pretty moving experience. For so many years I'd said that I "hated running" and didn't consider myself a runner. I was now completing 13.1 miles, which, again, is the longest distance I'd ever gone. It felt great to break through a barrier of limiting belief. I'm going to call myself a "runner" even if I don't feel it completely. I think running a Half-Marathon allows me to qualify for the descriptor.
I crossed the finish line ensuring I stepped on the mat so that the sensor on my shoe registered! I was done. I got in line to have the chip taken off my shoe, then started looking for Josh. I couldn't find him, yet found Brian, a fellow I'd met at Friday Night Dinner two nights ago. I walked right up to him and said hi, and had to remind him who I was. : ) I asked to borrow his phone, and called Josh. He was just on the other side of the exit. I went out and he gave me a big hug and just held me for a minute. It felt very good. I then went back into the finish area and grabbed some food, and saw Brook and Libby, who ran the 10k. I came back and ate with Josh, then Ryan finished his race. Josh took a couple pictures of us talking.
I'm impressed that when I got home, the results were already online! Here's how I did (full results):
bib number: 3575
location: Madison, WI
overall place: 2201 out of 2866 (23rd percentile)
division place: 140 out of 161 (13th percentile)
gender place: 1076 out of 1238 (13th percentile)
pace: 10:35 (5.67 mph)
mile 6: 1:03:59
mile 8.5: 1:30:40
chip time: 2:18:42
Are the times fantastic? Nope. And while I tend to be perfectionist about many things, that doesn't matter to me. My only goal was to finish, and that I did. I would have been happy had I averaged 5 mph, so for a first crack at it, I'm very pleased. Any race/run I do next I will be in better condition with no injuries, and can then find out the next limiting factor to work on.
Josh has been so wonderfully supporting through this whole thing, and especially today by getting up earlier, playing the roles of pack mule, boyfriend support and photographer. I also appreciate the support of many others in my life as I've shared the ups and downs of my training and challenges with my leg. I'm very grateful for all of this, and after I take a break and recover, I look forward to taking it easy and running for fun, both alone and with groups...
...until I decide whether I'll be doing another Half, or a full Marathon next.
See all 10 pictures in my Picasa Web Album
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Cut the Crap
Friday, May 16, 2008
Rich Dad Education--Dream or Scam?
Don, the presenter, was pretty good at what he did. Good presence, and he announced from the beginning the fact that the "English Teachers" present might not find his presentation perfect, especially that he might say things that were not politically correct (what that has to do with English teachers, I'm not quite sure...). At least I was less annoyed after that with his pronunciation of "realitor" and "entrepreneur" (which I can't even remember now).
I found myself operating on two levels during the presentation: as a participant who is interested in learning about alternate sources of income, and as a presenter critiquing another's presentation.
They use pretty much every trick in the book during the presentation. It was interesting to watch the interplay within myself: being aware of the technique being used, and perceiving the level of effectiveness on me. Sometimes the former happened first, sometimes the latter. Here is a list of the techniques they used:
- Fear - security: Social Security will fail by 2016, and you can't retire on that anyway.
- Fear - scarcity: our events have been so popular that we don't have enough bonus packages for everyone in the room. He urged people to get up at any time and go to the back of the room to sign up and take advantage of the special package.
- YES: getting people to say yes to obvious questions ("would you like to replace your current income working 5 hours a month?").
- Hand-raising: another form of YES
- Greed: giving examples of those who have succeeded wildly with the system. Paint a picture of having more free time, ensured financial security, stop working for the man, etc.
- Condescension: As is true of Kiyosaki himself, Don disdained higher education, saying it wasn't an asset if it didn't create positive cashflow. Proof: how many people are still working in the field they studied in school? Specious logic.
- Time sensitivity: Act quickly or lose it. Take the 3-day course for $495 if you sign up tonight. After tonight, it's $995.
- Gratitude: This one surprised me. Near the end he talked about how grateful he was for Kiyosaki's gifts.
- God and Family: He talked about his own faith for the last quarter hour, and how grateful he was for his adopted son and family.
- Your "In:" Don shared things during the presentation that had the effect of sharing a secret or being a bit conspiratorial. We were going to be able to do something that "all those other schmucks" wouldn't or couldn't. They'd miss out; we'd make it big.
- Targeting: He used many people as examples during the evening: "let's say Jay is buying a house..." He used probably 20 people in that way during the evening.
- Humor: lots of it, none of it above a 4/10 in my book.
- Admonition: He was clearly being a bit chiding of people not taking advantages of opportunities.
- Sexism: This housewife stuck it to her husband by doing better at it than he did--and she wasn't even interested in it!
- I decided before I walked in the room I wouldn't buy anything under time pressure.
- I didn't know my schedule, so I couldn't plan to attend. ;-)
- Not enough information: the tone of the presentation was: hey, don't be a schmuck by missing this great opportunity! However, I used something from Don's own presentation to offset that. He stated that it was important when finding these great real estate deals to identify the good ones and avoid the bad ones. Thus, have enough information on risk to avoid the bad ones. What information was Don sharing about the risk of this program? None. hey, it's only $.63/day for a year for this great deal!, etc.
- In small print on one of the first slides that played automatically before the presentation began, there was a disclaimer that examples shared during the presentation were not representative of average gains from use of the program. Don gave no information about how many people did not succeed who put best effort in, and he certainly didn't share information about those who failed and lost big.
- If this was such a great deal and folks were so successful doing it, why the pressure? Sure some pressure is needed to break people out of their comfort zone (I know that from teaching Taking It Lightly), yet this was too much. He asked rhetorically why everyone didn't take advantage of this, and his response was that he didn't know...
I guess in the end, I'm either a wise man who heeded the warning Caveat Emptor, or a poor schmuck who doesn't have enough imagination or gumption to grab a dream when he sees it. I benefit, however, from the expanded awareness of better financial planning, and lifting my head above daily life for a bit to get a better perspective on things.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Training Status--Will I Make It?
Over the past few months of running, I've really taken to it. I now say, "I love running!" When I ran my "McNaughton 10" during Ryan's race, I decided to do the Madison Half-Marathon. I've been training for it pretty seriously, and losing weight as a benefit. I'm 6 or 7 pounds lighter than I started; given the muscle I've been putting primarily on my legs, that's pretty good!
However, being the all-or-nothing guy that I tend to be (well, not always ;-] ), I've been overdoing it. The 9-miler I ran a few weeks ago in the Dells went very well. A bit after that, my left IT band started acting up, causing pain in my knee and some in my hip. This past Saturday I was scheduled to run 10-12 miles. I mapped out a 3-mile loop near my house and set out. The first three miles my legs ached, yet by the end that worked out. Miles 3-6 my IT band started tightening up, and I kept that in check. Starting at mile 6 I started feeling a pain at the bottom of my left calf. What the heck is THAT? It got worse and worse, and by the end of 9 miles I had to stop--the pain was too much. Well, to be precise, I could have kept going, and I knew I'd be doing damage, so for once I found a brain in my head and didn't run through the pain.
Ryan suggested it was Achilles tendon problems. However, upon researching it I discovered it was Posterior Shin Splints. Huh? Shin splints on the BACK of the leg? Yup. My calf is stronger than the muscles on the front, and the differential is causing problems.
I've been using the vibrating massager on it and taking ibuprofen. Yesterday I saw my chiropractor, and he suggested wrapping it and some exercises (toe lifts) to strengthen the front of my legs to balance out the strength.
This morning I went on a 3-mile run. I walked several times when my left leg hurt in general. the wrap definitely helped. Even with the walking, I still ran 6.22 mph! I guess that's my preferred pace, since it's so predictable when I'm not tracking it in any way.
I'm concerned about my being able to run 13.1 miles in a week and a half. I think I'll mostly take it easy until then with just a few short runs. I've already decided that for the race I'll do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. That should help my legs stay in ok shape, and I should complete the race in 6 or 7 cycles.
Off to shower and work.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
SOO Advisors Institute
The institute was held in Gordon Commons, which is the first time I've been in the building since I went to school myself. I checked the status of the deconstruction of Ogg Hall next door--they haven't yet gotten down to 6th Floor West, where I lived as a freshman. One day soon the physical signs of that part of my life will be gone.
I had a great time. At Table 3, I went to the buffet table to get my dinner (in order to eat quickly to present in a few minutes), and discovered upon my return that my water glass had spilled. I first thought I had done it myself, and discovered I hadn't. I shared how spilling of milk, etc., at the dinner table was a big sin when I was a kid, and we laughed at the thought now. I got to know the others at my table as we talked about birth order, and where we all fit.
The presentation itself was also very enjoyable. Despite cramming a lot of information into 45 minutes, I followed the minute markings on my outline and finished right on time--not bad considering I love to talk and could have spent several hours! A memory came up while I was giving an example of breaking something when I was a kid that I hadn't thought of in years; the spontaneity was fun.
After the presentation I encouraged the group to break into smaller groups to practice some role-plays of an advisor holding a student accountable. About a third actually did the role-plays, and the rest had valuable discussion about the issues. I shared my wondering with the group whether those who didn't practice the role-play did so as a way of avoiding holding others accountable, which can be uncomfortable. It also occurred to me that if folks didn't know each other well enough, there may not have been enough emotional safety or comfort to do that type of activity. I'm still curious to find out more about that. : )
During the debrief and Q&A, we had great discussion: folks raised some challenging questions about holding students accountable. I answered some questions, and turned others back to the group, which led to the sharing of wisdom that I knew to be in the room.
Evaluations were positive--people enjoyed the information (new and reminders), the playfulness and energy, and meeting with other advisors and sharing ideas.
I'm very excited for the progress that SOO is making. They will soon be creating a listserve/email list that advisors can use to connect more and share some of this wisdom and experience between group members. And they are doing this during a hiring freeze! They get lots done.
My thanks, once again, to everyone who attended, and to Barb, Eric, Mark and Renee for inviting me to present! I look forward to hearing how the organization continues to develop, and support the students and their organizations into the future.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
That changed this morning in an instant.
Cantus is a male vocal ensemble from the Twin Cities. They performed three pieces a capella during the service this morning. Exquisite. It was so beautiful I simply wept. There was nothing that was going to stop me from coming to the evening's concert. Josh felt the same way.
So we both went our ways--Josh went home to work while I went on my easy run for the day, did some yardwork, laundry, etc.
We were back at church before 7, where we sat in the second row. Cantus members are all highly trained, professional musicians, and they do this full-time. The songs range from sacred to secular, serious to funny. It was heaven to listen to a group of musicians who sing together, move together, breathe together. Simply flawless. They sang Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, which again had me crying. The piece is gorgeous, and their rendition was out of this world.
While there are nine members, there is no conductor--they are incredibly alive while they sing, and connect with each other visually, constantly looking from one to another, or focusing on whoever is leading at the time. There were countless times where they were looking out front, and still beginning and ending consonants were right on. I was stunned. It's obvious to me that they have sung for so long together that they are just... together.
The concert was a fundraiser for Porchlight, Inc., a Dane County organization whose mission it is to decrease homelessness in Dane County. The Executive Director spoke at the beginning of the intermission, then a fellow who had received help from Porchlight shared his experience (yeah, more tears from me). I was doubly happy we came to the concert.
Afterward, Josh and I bought all five of their CDs, and got at least one signature from each member. They were also very pleasant to meet and visit with. All-around nice guys.
If you ever get the chance to hear them, it would be well worth your while.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
This is a Rock 'n' Roll camp for girls in Seattle. I was expecting a nice feel-good movie, where the participants would be shepherded through a process--no way! These girls learn an instrument in five days if they don't know one, and they have to pick their own bandmates. Nothing about this movie is predigested. The women who staff the camp rock themselves. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
It's currently playing at Sundance Theatres in Madison. I recommend this film to anyone, and any girl or woman who wants to feel more empowered--go see it!
You can also visit the Girls Rock movie website.
Great Run! and Google Earth
I was looking at places where I was in Nepal, even finding a route that very much matched Mary's and mine when when we trekked the Annapurna range in 1990. I uploaded a few images, including some pictures I took at Pearl Harbor when visiting the USS Arizona Memorial Museum. And I was very naughty to stay up as long as I did.
After six hours of sleep I got up and futzed some on the computer, waiting to digest breakfast some so I could go on my run. And what a great run it was! I was a bit intimidated thinking of running 7 miles, but also knew I could do it, even if I had to take my time. Take a peek at the route I ran, if you're interested. My average speed was 5.83 mph (that's a 10:16 mile--I think in mph...). Not bad for a longer run! Now I'm even more confident that I can run the 13.1 miles well.
Josh is busy today, so it's a great opportunity to get lots of stuff done. I'm very behind in laundry, kitchen, and other housework, and I have to work on some other projects and presentations as well before the Varsity Band concert tonight.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
And Here's the Half Marathon Route!
So now I just gotta keep up with the training! Speaking of which, take a look at my training calendar.
Last Night's Run
I'm super-excited to have this tool to track my training progress! I was using a Google Spreadsheet; this will be even more useful.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Anyway, months ago he asked if I'd support him in the race. Last year was the first year he ran it, and he had a full crew of folks from work and others come to make sure he had plenty of fluids and solids going in and out of his body, as well as to "pace" him (which means to run along).
I had planned to go down for both days, and with the level that my life showed on the insaninometer, I just couldn't swing both days, so I told Ryan I'd come down on Saturday and possibly run with him (what the hell was I getting myself into!).
I set off at 7 am and had a great, solitary drive down, with the exception of missing the jog on US 39 and needing to call Josh to get new directions--which he sent to my phone as a text message. Parenthetically, I've decided that was the LAST TIME I'm ever going to deal with that: I'm buying a Garmin or TomTom or something. Life is to freaking short to spend time and energy getting lost and following maps. Bah.
I listened to a number of podcasts on the way down, which is a real treat, since I rarely have (OK, take) time to do that. I listened to Grammar Girl for about two of the four hours on the way down. Love it! It had been so long since I'd had a nice, long drive to myself. I'm realizing I'm a bit more introverted than perhaps I thought I was.
OK, OK, I'll get on with the story. I arrived around 11:30 or Noon and looked for anyone I'd recognize. Uh, I didn't recognize anyone. Eventually Ryan ran through, and I believe Mike was just finishing a 10-mile loop with him (this must have been mile 110). Several of Ryan's friends and coworkers, as well as associates from WTCA and other athletes were there to support him. I brought my gear down, and by God I was going to use it. I guess... I got dressed and did little warm-up, and Ryan was on his way in! He didn't stop, and Steve, John and I started the next loop with him--this was at mile 120.
Let me back up for a moment and describe the day. Cold. Rainy. Windy. Some might say miserable, and I would be in their numbers. Before getting ready to run I'd had all of my clothes on that I'd brought. I paid the folks $10 to eat some food; they did a pretty good job of it. It was a relief to start running and warm up!
The loop started with a downhill mud ski. I'm not really exaggerating. There were three different races going on at this point: the 50-, 100-, and 150-mile--that was a lot of footfalls on the soggy ground! I don't think Steve and John expected much, as they remarked that I was nimbler than they anticipated. It's nice to surprise people. They're both runners. Well, more serious than I, anyway.
We were probably running 5 mph, which is a comfortable pace for me. John and I ran out front for a good part of the lap while Steve stayed back with Ryan. There are several way stations along the way, which was good since I'd not drunk enough fluid before starting.
I would estimate that MOST of the route is NOT on flat land: most of it is going through very hilly woods. As we approached one downhill, it occurred to me that it didn't look as much like a trail as it did an object d'art: the ground was complete mud, and there were long trails of feet sliding in it. It reminded me of a clay sculpture, or perhaps an oil painting with really think swaths of oil painted on the canvas. It was actually quite beautiful... to look at anyway; a moment later I attempted to run or walk or at least not fall in it. I did fall once, although I caught myself so didn't get too much dirty. However, the shoes were getting completely muddified.
We were all falling down. Steve fell right on his rear end at one point; luckily he didn't hurt himself. Ryan fell down eight times in my time with him. At about mile 8 he fell on a grassy, muddy hill and just lay there for a moment. Finally he said quite simply, and perhaps a bit weakly, "That hurt." Ryan's not very flower in general, and his straight-talking is more pronounced after he's run several tens of miles.
At some points the trail was simply wild: steep hills (there was actually a rope tied to a tree at one point!), logs over ravines and little streams, and even some fairly well-made footbridges.
The sheer ten miles was weighing on me; add in the terrain and it was pretty grueling, actually. I've been running for a couple months: 3x/week, about 4-5 miles each at 5.5 to 6.5 mph. On a treadmill I don't have to pay much attention to all the stabilizing muscles in the legs, and especially around the knees and ankles. That was MOST of the concentration during this lap! I became reacquainted with some muscles that I hadn't had good conversation or lunch with in a while.
Oh, I haven't yet mentioned the river that needed to be crossed. Twice. The first time was, oh, around mile 4 or so. While it was cold it was actually fairly refreshing on the feet. It was only about two feet deep, and my shoes were comfortably dry within about half a mile or a mile. We crossed a much deeper stretch of water at about mile 9 or so. That was too late in the game to allow me to dry off before finishing the lap.
I would estimate that at about mile 7 or 8 I was in as much pain as Ryan. Maybe not as much fatigue (he'd started running Friday at noon and this lap was 3:30 to 6 pm Saturday), but he's in much better shape than I--I was really give my body a pounding at this point.
About the last five miles I ran behind Ryan while Steve and John ran 100 yards or so ahead. I had several things to focus on: keeping my body relaxed with good form so it would continue to function, not running into Ryan (oh that would have been bad), being careful where I step to not twist anything, and supporting Ryan. A lot of it was small talk, some questions and talk about the race itself, and from time to time I would discuss things having nothing to do with the present moment, just to give us both a mental break. I also gave him plenty of encouragement, as during this lap he was in third place, and he was focusing on catching up to second. I noticed he was touching is right leg, and when I asked he informed me it was getting tighter and tighter (Hm. I work on my own IT bands...). So I had him imagine it relaxing.
After we crossed the last river around mile 9 I was beginning to have difficulty keeping up with Ryan. I was afraid I was going to pay for this later. There was a funny (or something) little moment when I was on my way up a hill in deep mud when I almost lost my shoe--I caught it just in time, although I did have to stop and retie it, then catch up to Ryan. Luckily, we walked up all of the steep hills; otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do it.
I also encouraged Ryan to keep up a good pace, and I could feel it every time he accelerated. I told him that I promised I'd run with him... every time he'd run 120 miles first. That makes us fairly evenly matched for a while. Am I really this old?
I don't dare make myself sound heroic in this blog, since I was running 1/15th the distance of Ryan, yet in my condition I will say I was getting to the point of running on sheer guts and determination. My legs hurt and I was running out of gas. I told Ryan in the last mile that I was going to leave after this lap. I didn't see much sense in staying since there was no way in HELL I would going to be able to do more running (or even walking), and cheering him on for 5 seconds between laps made no sense. He was also scheduled to finish around 11 or later, and it just didn't make sense. He was OK with that.
On the way up the last hill before the straightaway to the finish I told him to go get #2 and have a great race. When we high the straightaway he put on a burst of speed as two things happened, I think: he saw the finish line (for that lap) and all the folks there, and he also saw #2 ahead of him. I forget the guys name, but he looked like he was having difficulty. At this point, I was done. Perhaps I could have gone for some adrenaline and kept up with Ryan, but there was really no point, and I would have been damaging my body worse that I already had. So I finished the last hundred yards and crossed the finish line outside the actual finish area, which I believe was customary.
Completion of the McNaughton 10
It didn't seem all that significant at the time, and I realized later that I think that was probably the longest I'd ever run. I can't remember if we ever ran 10 miles in a cross country practice when I was in high school. Hey--I'd just run 10 miles! That's a pretty good accomplishment!
I think Ryan stopped and got some food and drink, and Randy had his headlamp on in preparation for the oncoming darkness. Ryan changed some clothes and off they went.
I went for food and sat by the fire. My pants were still wet, as were my feet, and I had no intention of being any more uncomfortable than I already was. I sat next to a young fellow who wasn't wearing much considering the conditions, and was shaking. I asked how he was doing, and he said OK: just having a hard time with his core temperature. He'd finished the 50-miler earlier. I got him some soup; I was concerned that he was headed toward hypothermia. Sure enough, a few minutes later the shaking became more pronounced. I got a blanket and put it around him, talking to him (to ensure he was lucid). He stopped shaking after a while. I consider that my second good deed for the day.
I hadn't taken many pictures, and left the camera with instructions with Mike, so that he could take pictures later. I changed into dry clothes (oh my, how nice!), had a bit more food (hey, I can eat whatever the hell I WANT after that!), got in my car and left. I ran Ryan's miles 120-130, and he had 20 miles left. We discussed that while we were running, and we decided that he could do anything two more times.
At Mike's suggestion I stopped after driving about 30 minutes to go to the bathroom and stretch. The only problem was it was cold in the rest stop--what's the point of stretching in the cold? None. So I got in the car and drove on.
I listened to four hours of Grammar Girl. I guess I'm a huge grammar geek, yet I loved it! I did stop once to get gas, and just drove. I love driving at night. It's so nice to have the solitary time and not be able to do anything else--as though I need an excuse to relax. However, something about that setting allows my mind to truly relax.
I got out of the car when I got home around 10:30 and could barely walk. It was painful--especially my left knee and hip. Josh came over and we sat in the hot tub for a while (something is wrong with the pump--sigh) and went to bed.
Epilogue: Half-Marathon Anyone?
I was in fairly serious pain, although Advil helped a lot. I felt much better pretty quickly, and was giving something a great deal of thought: If I can run in that **** for 10 miles, a half-marathon (13.1 miles) on flat road would be a piece of cake! So I signed up for the Madison Half Marathon on 5/25, the Sunday before Memorial Day. My coworker Libby and her two friends (who are also friends of Josh's) are also going to be running it. Josh will be at the finish taking pictures. Oh, and I believe the race registration was the first time I listed him as my emergency contact. :-)
I found a training schedule for half-marathons, and while I'm starting too late, I've created yet another Google calendar (I now have 10 that I've created, along with the 10 I have included) in which I've placed the training schedule. Hell, even if I didn't do anything beyond the running I'm already doing, I'm sure I'd be fine. However, I'm excited about this endeavor! I'm sure I'll be blogging more about it, so stay tuned.
As always, comments are appreciated.