Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lake Harriet 1 Mile Swim

Now I'm 2 for 2 this year. I competed in my second race of the season this morning. This time it was a 1 mile open water swim at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. This race is a bit different as it attracts some very good swimmers. I'm a pretty good swimmer when compared to other triathletes but when I go up against real swimmers I tend to fall into the middle of the pack. That happened again today (I think I got about 20 place out of about 35) but as luck would have it I ended up winning my age group! Here are a couple of photos of my trophy ;-

I'll have to put this up next to my crushed pingpong ball trophy from a few years ago.

Fear or Love

This post by Pam Slim about choosing fear or love is a great follow on to the presentation at PUSH about the philosophy slam. In the philosophy slam the question was "which is more powerful, hope or fear?"

Pam's reasoning is similar to most of the audience at PUSH in that they leaned toward hope. I'm still surprised that the kids seemed to be 50-50 split between hope and fear.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Domain Names

I'm trying to figure out what domain name to use for a web site/blog that will be dedicated to exploring the relationship between clean/renewable energy and software/IT. This is the niche I'm interested in and based on my research no one is already doing this.

So far I've come up with the following ideas. These listed below are ones that are available.


You can see the trend in my thinking. I generally don't like the "IT" in the domain as it seems like the word 'it'. At this point the first one is my favorite as it's actually readable and I believe it's memorable. I'm looking for radical ideas. Anything way out there to get the brainstorming going. What domain would make you think of this? Please leave any ideas in a comment so that everyone can see.


Update - I really like Don's suggestion of Problem is that this one is not available. is available and I think is a pretty good alternative. is also available.

There is a theme building

"When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on ,or you will be taught how to fly. "
Barbara J. Winter--

So far I haven't found either the solid ground or the wings, but I still have faith that one or both will be there to support me.

Consider this...

My Mom sent this quote to me almost two years ago. I've been hanging onto the email since then trying to figure out how to apply this to my life. The decision to launch into a new phase of my career and my attendence at PUSH the last couple of days has reinforced this message as well as given me a chance to live it. I think you'll like this.

"Consider this,

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but rather that we are powerful beyond measure. It is the attention to our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Who am I to stand out? Is it safe to let my gifts show? Will others attack me out of jealousy?"

"Actually, who are you not to be? You are a creation of the divine force like all other creatures.

"Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking to reassure other people with your lack of expression in order to make them feel secure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of the creation that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence liberates others. Our positive energy releases manifestation in others.

"Therefore, seek not to conceal your own light, but let it shine affirmatively so that its beam may lead others to sharing their own brilliance and talents."

Nelson Mandela

Male Life Course

About two years ago I decided to do a self-guided version of a Men's Studies course. I did a fair amount of reading about men's lives with an emphasis on work, marriage and fatherhood. This wasn't an exhaustive review but included the things I could find (there's not a whole lot out there) and had time for. Here is a sampling of my reading list:
  1. Chicken Soup for the Father's Soul, 101 Stories to Open the Hearts and Rekindle the Spirits of Fathers by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jeff Aubery, Mark Donnelly, Chrissy Donnelly
This might be controversial but one of the conclusions I came to is that the basic ordering of life events in the American culturally approved life course for a man is
  • to complete an education
  • to get a job
  • to move out of his parents' home and live independently
  • to date a number of women
  • to meet the woman he wants to marry
  • to spend time as a couple
  • to marry
  • to buy a house
  • to set up a home together
  • and to have children
This is the model that young men are taught by American culture but it seems less and less common that men actually follow this path. Or maybe we're just hearing more about men that don't follow this path. In fact, I would suggest that many men actively rebel against this model, myself included. Each has his own reasons.

This is a topic that still interests me. If it strikes a chord for you let me know and we can dig a little deeper.

Bono on Faith

"To have faith in a time of religious fervor is a worry. And, you know, I do have faith, and I'm worried about even the subject because of the sort of fanaticism that is the next-door neighbor of faith. The trick in the next few years will be not to decry the religious instinct, but to accept that this is a hugely important part of people's lives. And at the same time to be very wary of people who believe that theirs is the only way. Unilateralism before God is dangerous."

This is a quote that I first saw over a year ago. Bono's words resonate for me the day after PUSH in two ways. First, as it relates to Lawrence M. Krauss' lecture that touched on Intelligent Design and religious faith. Second, I believe that it takes faith from everyone that attends an event like PUSH to let go of our internal critic and be open to new ideas and possibilities.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

PUSH - David Allen Part 2

David Allen

David provided a few closing words for the conference. I have to admit that I was getting a bit tired by this point in the day but here is what I caught during his closing remarks.

After the conference (he called them the "Best Questions")
a. Clearing – put things in the “in box”.
b. Clarifying - what does this mean to you? If no, trash. If maybe, then when. File with items to check on that time line. What am I committed to? Look into? Do?
c. Organize. Crisis is usually the thing that gets us going. Find ways to take action without crisis. Personal sustainability.
d. Reflecting. Look at it from all the levels that you need to examine.
e. Engaging. You have to get personally and emotionally involved.

See my notes from his opening remarks in this post.

PUSH - Two Day Summary

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago."
Chinese Proverb

The best way I know to summarize the two day is with this proverb. We have been both harvesting the fruit of ideas that were planted many years ago as well as planting new seeds that will only show their fruit many years from now.

PUSH - Walker Off Center

If you'd like to see more about the PUSH conference check out the Walker Off Center blog. Paul, thanks for the link. It's been a fantastic two days!

PUSH - Ze Frank

Ze Frank

Justifying his existence in 30 minutes. Impossible to describe but fantastic. Check out his web site for a sample.

Get other people to do all the work and take credit for it. Some people call this web 2.0.

You’ve got to see the “Doodle Analysis” tool.

Crapucopia - “There is so much more crap to consume” or is it that “there is so much more crap being made.”

The audience is learning your language, and they want to start a conversation. Choices.
• Ignore them. If you do this they will talk behind your back or go around you.
• Resist. Top down Control. Conversations resist this. Broadcast model worked for this but the participation model this breaks down.

Conversations are flexible. The context is malleable. You have to allow people to express themselves otherwise you’ll end up ignoring them or resisting them.

Friendster did it wrong. MySpace did it right.

People will show you what is interesting. YouTube.

Haikus for a newly neutered dog.

The Long Tail. Wired Magazine article by Chris Anderson. What about the production side of this equation? What is the value in the tail in the production side? We’re just starting to tap this resource. Businesses are just starting to figure out how to leverage this side of things. Create architectures that encourage participation and conversation.

Technology is moving faster than people’s emotional and intellectual capacity is able to keep up. Ze calls this web 0.2. Most people don’t even know why they’re there. But people are starting to feel a home online. This is starting to tap into deep emotions. This is shifting from a technology revolution to a social revolution.

The creative process is changing rapidly. People are putting more beta’s out and not trying to get it perfect. Tools for production are changing. Platforms for production are changing just as fast.

We laugh at the old people that got it wrong. We laugh because they should have known better. We aren’t in any better position to understand how our technology is really going to be used and what it’s going to lead to. We’ll be laughing at ourselves.

New designers are explorers.
How do you learn courage and resourcefulness?
Don’t respect the tools,
Don’t break old rules, find new one s to follow.
Don’t read the manual. It takes too long. By the time you read it the manual might be gone. Just dive in and use it like it’s throwaway garbage.
Become a perpetual hobbyist. Understand many different frames of reference.
You are the value proposition. A social revolution, not a technological one.

You can actually make money doing this.

Rules of punctuation
is a great follow up from my recent post about emoticons.

PUSH - Todd Reynolds

Todd Reynolds

Todd and Luke Dubois started off his presentation with an interpretation of GreenSleves called Sleves of Green, or something like that. It was Fantastic! Check out Todd’s web site for a sample of his music and to see his calendar.

Play. Loosing yourself in what you’re doing.

Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience -- by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Todd didn’t have a lot of “success” playing as a kid until he got the right toys. This included his violin and a computer. Then things took off.

People go to live performances to experience things they can’t get at home via CD, DVD etc. Todd’s conjecture is that people attend live performance to experience passion and watching someone do something they can’t do.

Luke showed us some of his consolidated works, movies in 1 minute, songs in 30 seconds, images overlaid and blended. Very cool! The sound on the covies was fantastic.

PUSH - Lawrence M. Krauss

Lawrence M. Krauss gave us a lecture about cosmology, string theory, evolution and ID. This quote stuck out to me as something that is applicable across many other contexts.

"Uniform expansion means that every place is the center or no place is the center. It depends on how you like to look at things."

Two related posts from a while ago are Physicists Getting Excited and Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes.

I have to also add that this whole ID "debate" really pisses me off. As Krauss pointed out ID isn't a theory. It's not testable. There isn't a basis for a debate. I'm fine discussing ID but it should be in a religious context as opposed to a scientific context.

Energy Cost of Everything

Several days ago while preparing dinner I spilled a couple of cooked and ready to eat grains of rice on the kitchen counter. About 20 minutes later I went downstairs to the basement to take a few items out of the dryer that usually dry much faster than the rest of the load.

My usual response to the spilled rice is that "it's no big deal" and I just wipe them into the sink. When I go to pull the specific items out of the dryer I just cherry pick the specific items out and then restart the dryer until the cycle is complete.

These are actions I've done countless times and I've never given much thought to the energy "cost" of these actions. However, this time something was different. Looking at the riceI saw the energy cost of everything that went into getting those rice grains to the point of being ready to eat, sitting there on the counter, spilled and about to be wiped into the sink. When I pulled the items out of the dryer I noticed that the other items in the dryer were pretty much dry as well. I saw the energy that was required to continue drying the rest of the already dry clothes.

This moment of clarity allowed me the opportunity to make a different choice. I didn't put the rice back in my bowl (the counter was a bit too dirty for this) but I did make a commitment to be more mindful of all that goes into my food. Regarding the dryer, I decided to pull all of the items out and next time I'll watch for that opportunity again.

None of this might seem all that revolutionary but it was a change for me. What this leads me to is the possibility of adding "energy cost" of products on labeling. We do this with nutrition info on food packaging. The co-op where I do all of my grocery shopping labels all of the produce with the country or state of origin. This is a start toward providing the energy cost. But why not add this info to all items. Clothing could have this info provided on the hang tags. This info could easily be added to the nutrition labels on packaged food. this would give us all the choice to buy items that required less energy to produce and provide a new way for producers to create a compeditive advantage. Today all of this cost is hidden behind the final price and there is no easy way for the consumer to find out which brand of cereal is the most energy effecient.

Let's see where this goes.

Monday, June 12, 2006

PUSH - Kids Philosophy Slam

Ten Children from the Minneapolis area came to share with the PUSH conference a flavor of what the Kids Philosophy Slam is all about. The question they were working with is “Which is more powerful, hope or fear?”

The answers were more diverse than I was expecting but the arguments were both impressive and moving.

My answer is that hope is more powerful. I think that fear is more common but hope can be initiated by an individual and catch on in a way that can change the world. What do you think?

PUSH - K. Anthony Appiah

K. Anthony Appiah
Everything is more complicated than you think.
Ghanaian Proverb: “If you throw something in the trash and go back to get it that’s just fine.” Retrieve what you need from the past.

Cosmopolitanism. Useful concept in addressing many of the major issues we are facing in the world. This isn’t the only thing that is necessary and even by itself its very complicated.

Cosmopolitanism is a metaphor, as it doesn’t make sense in a world that has many different states.
  1. We don’t need to argue for world government.
  2. We can think of ourselves as citizens of the world without being or wanting to be citizens of a world government. But we do have to care about all of the world’s citizens rather than just those in our community or family.
  3. We will all do better if we care about the fate of everyone.
Ironically Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism grew together. It was good for people to live in communities but to care about other communities. Therefore it is congruent to support other people in the development of their communities. However, nationalism in isolation gets out of control.

This involves tolerance for choice about how other people choose to live and humility. If you accept that you live in a world with lots of other kinds of people then you need to understand them even if you don’t agree.

Globalization has made this metaphor of Cosmopolitanism applicable to our current world. Through our technology capabilities we can know about each other and we have the power to impact each other. This makes cosmopolitanism attitudes mandatory for successfully living in our modern world.

Retrieving what we need from the past to make sense of the present and future.

PUSH - Howard Rheingold

2:00 - 3:30pm Social Dances: Networks, Power, and Meaning
Howard Rheingold

Many thousands of years ago humans created a new form of wealth – more protein than a family could eat before it rotted. Best place to store my catch is in my neighbors belly. This was make possible by cooperation. That cooperation was coerced by leaders to build cities.
Literacy was another new form of wealth. Initially this form of wealth was controlled by the elite. With the invention of printing press this form of wealth was able to be shared with a larger crowd. This led to literate societies that through cooperation created democracy, religious reformation, and science.

Social Dilemmas - 3 mythic narratives
1. The prisoner’s Dilemma. Do you rat your co-conspirators out or stay quiet.
2. The tragedy of the commons. In aggregate people tend to destroy common assets.
3. Public Good

A social contract is an agreement to deal with a social dilemma. A social contract is also a form of cooperation that represents a solution to greater dilemma.

Examples of online communities that are working on defining new social contracts.

PUSH - Julien Dibbell

11 - 12:30am - Blurred Realities: Virtual Verite – Julien Dibbell
Play Money. Virtual worlds. Have been turned into real economies.
World of Warcraft
How can you add real work into “games”?
Item to ponder: Play will be to the 21st Century what Steam was to the 19th century.

PUSH - David Allen

June 12, 20069-9:30 AM
David Allen - 9 AM
How do you silence the noise? Why does it work to make lists?
Most people wait until crisis before moving into high performance behavior.
He will present a system for this. Tools so that you never keep anything in your mind anymore. It’s all about productivity. The opposite is worry and not making any progress.

Only two problems in life.
1. You know what you want but don’t know how to get it.
2. You don’t know what you want.
Two solutions.
1. Make it up.
2. Make it happen

Mind Mapping is the technique for this.

Committees in our head. This is what makes us stressed. CEOs on the committee come up with ideas. Don’t worry about implementation. He has one folder for these ideas. The COO is the one that has to figure out how to make this happen. Don’t force the CEO part of you to be operational and don’t expect the COO to be visionary. Be the CEO at this conference!

Need to create clear space! The only way to move forward is from clear space. What is in the way of clear space? What is not supplies, reference material, decoration, or equipment? These things represent incomplete ideas or actions. These things take psychological attention and disrupt clear space.

If you don’t give appropriate attention to what has your attention it will take more of your attention than it deserves!

Getting things done – GTD.

Lists - Review each list each week and move items back and forth.
1. Projects.
2. Some day - Maybe.

Look into the free Mind Manager software that I got with the PUSH registration.

Different things show up with you do mind mapping with other people.

What do we have our attention on?

Don’t have any thoughts twice!
When you get clear space you then have room for new ideas.

Responsible- ability to respond.

PUSH Kickoff

Last night was the opening presentation and reception for the PUSH conference in Minneapolis. The theme for this year's conference is "A New Life". The opening presentation included performances by Crash and d3horse. Crash is a percussion group that combines visual presentation with rhythm and percussion. They did some very interesting things to produce sound that included using parts of their bodies and zippers on their clothing. They combined the ever changing rhythm patterns with visual presentation that was magical at times. I'm always fascinated by movement that is combined with the production of sound. Somewhere in my mind I have a hard time following both simultaneously and I get either absorbed in the sound or the movement and the other seems to spring from the primary focus of my attention.

Cecily Sommers then provided an introduction to the conference. A couple of things she mentioned that struck a chord for me are:
  • Wall of Email - this refers to the daily tasks that we all have to do just to stay afloat. Often these tasks take so much out of us that there isn't much left to start to work toward a different future.
  • Leadership from a vision - this refers to the power and quality of leadership that comes from a clear vision for the future. Her example in this space was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his "I have a dream" vision.
Following Cecily was a performance by d3horse titled "A New Life" to build on the theme of the conference. This was a fantastic performance! I'm not very practiced at describing stage performance that combines dialogue with dance and music but a couple of the themes that they developed included not needing to know exaclty where you're going to be able to start, patterns that we repeat over an over like we have no control over our actions and that there is no perfect time to start.

Overall this kickoff set a great tone for the next two days.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I have to admit that I really like these little add-ins when used correctly. The problem is that I don't know what they all actually mean and my own vocabulary of them consists of about 3.

:) Happy
:( Sad
;) Wink - but I don't really know what this means in an email or IM.

Does anyone really know what these mean? Is there really a standard out there that we follow or do we all interpret them our own way? I find this all to be pretty confusing.

I decided to do a little Googling on this to see what I can find. Here's what I found here on (This is way too much for me remember!!!)
Emoticons are facial expressions made by a certain series of keystrokes. Most often producing an image of a face sideways.

!-(Black eye
!-)Proud of black eye
#-)Wiped out, partied all night
$-)Won the lottery, or money on the brain
%(|:-) Â Propeller-head
%+{Got beat up
%-)Dazed or silly
%-\Hung over
%-|Worked all night
%-}Humorous or ironic
>->Winking devil
>-)Devilish wink
>:)Little devil
>:->Very mischievous devil
>:-)Mischievous devil
>=^ PYuck
<:>Devilish expression
<:->Devilish expression
<:-)Innocently asking dumb question
( 8(|)Homer
( <> .. <> )alienated
(( )):**Hugs and kisses
((()))Lots of hugging (initials or a name can be put in the middle of the one being hugged)
(-:Left-handed smile, or smiley from the southern hemisphere
(:-)Smiley variation
(:-\Very sad
(::()::)Bandaid, meaning comfort
*<:-)Santa Claus
*<|:-)Santa Claus, or a clown
*-)Shot to death
+<:-)Religious leader
+<:-|Monk or nun
+O:-)The Pope
-)Tongue in cheek
-=Snuffed candle to end a flame message
12x@>--->---A dozen roses
2B|^2BTo be or not to be
7:)Ronald Reagan
7:^)Ronald Reagan
8 :-)Wizard
8)Wide-eyed, or wearing glasses
8-)Wide-eyed, or wearing glasses
8-[Frayed nerves; overwrought
8-|Wide-eyed surprise
: (Sad
: )Smile
: [Bored, sad
: |Bored, sad
:( )Loudmouth, talks all the time; or shouting
:**:Returning kiss
:+(Got punched in the nose
:-#My lips are sealed; or someone wearing braces
:->Smile of happiness or sarcasm
:-><Puckered up to kiss
:-<Very sad
:-)Classic smiley
:-/Wry face
:-9Licking lips
:-?Licking lips, or tongue in cheek
:-cVery unhappy
:-d~Heavy smoker
:-fSticking out tongue
:-IPondering, or impartial
:-iWry smile or half-smile
:-JTongue in cheek
:-jOne-sided smile
:-lOne-sided smile
:-MSpeak no evil
:-OOpen-mouthed, surprised
:-oSurprised look, or yawn
:-PSticking out tongue
:-pSticking tongue out
:-p~Heavy smoker
:-QTongue hanging out in disgust, or a smoker
:-rSticking tongue out
:-XMy lips are sealed; or a kiss
:-xKiss, or My lips are sealed
:-YAside comment
:-[Unsmiling blockhead; also criticism
:-]Smiling blockhead; also sarcasm
:-{)Smile with moustache
:-{)}Smile with moustache and beard
:-{}Blowing a kiss
:-|Indifferent, bored or disgusted
:-| :-|Deja vu
:-||Very angry
:-}Mischievous smile
:-~)A cold
:-~|A cold
:/)Not funny
:/iNo smoking
:PSticking out tongue
:XHear no evil
:\'-)Tears of happiness
:^DHappy, approving
:`-(Shedding a tear
:{Having a hard time
:~)A cold
; )Wink
; PWink with a raspberry
;-(Angry, or got a black eye
;-DWinking and laughing
= OSurprised
= XMy lips are sealed
=):-)=Abraham Lincoln
=:-)Punk, or hosehead
=^DBig grin
?(Black eye
?-(Black eye
@>--->---A long-stemmed rose
@==Atomic bomb
B:-)Sunglasses on head
d :-oHats off to you!
IOHOIn Our Humble Opinion
M-)See no evil
M-), :X, :-MSee no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
M:-)A salute
O 8-)Starry-eyed angel
O :-)Angel
O8-)Starry-eyed angel
P*French kiss
Q:-)College graduate
X-(Just died
[:-)Wearing a Walkman
[:-]Square head
[[ ]]Hug Insert a name in the brackets of the one who is being hugged, as: [[Marcia]]
\_/Empty glass
\~/Full glass
]:-)Happy devil
][Back to back
^ ^ ^Giggles
^5High five
`:-)Raised eyebrow
{{ }}Hug; the one whose name is in the brackets is being hugged Example: {{MJ}}
{}No comment
|(Sleepy (on late night email message)
|-<>Puckered up for a kiss
|-(Sleepy, struggling to stay awake, or sleeping badly
|-DBig laugh
|-{Good grief!
}-)Wry smile
}: [Angry, frustrated
}{Face to face
~ :-(Steaming mad
~:-(Flame message
~=Lit candle, indicating a flame (inflammatory message)
~==Begins a flame (inflammatory message)
~~:-(Especially hot flame message
~~:[Net flame

Pressure and Performance

It's amazing what can happen when the pressure is off. I went into the Buffalo triathlon on June 4 not sure how my injured (left shoulder rotator cuff and left knee patella femoral tendonitis) joints would feel. I just focused on having fun and letting it roll. The swim went very well and all of the rehab exercises I've been doing really paid off. My swimming was not very smooth but it was a very short swim and all worked out just fine. On the bike I could feel my lack of fitness but my position on the new bike is very effecient (good power output as well as very aero) so I was able to fly along. Every two minutes on the run I checked in with my knee to see how it felt and if at any point it wasn't happy I was just going to stop and walk back. It held up throughout and I ran a pretty good time. OK, it was an amazing time considering that my running workouts the last two months have consisted of nothing more than 15 minutes alternating between 45 seconds running and 45 seconds walking.

As several friends at the race said I can no longer play the "I'm injured" card in lowering pre-race predictions. The trick is to just take the pressure off.

Race results can be found here.

And for the effort I came away with a pretty cool prize.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Infants and Toddlers

One of the things that I want to do while I have a bit more time this summer is volunteer in an organization where I have a chance to work closely with infants and toddlers. I've had many opportunities to interact with kids that are older (8 and up) mostly through coaching soccer but I've never had any opportunity to be around infants and toddlers. I'm the youngest in my family and I haven't been around extended family much.

I have a glimmer of possibility that there is something special that happens to an adult when they hold an infant. I want to find out what that is all about, at least a little. If anyone knows of any great organization that need volunteers in this capacity please let me know. I've been thinking about the Crisis Nursery in Minneapolis and Children's hospital in St Paul. Any other ideas?

One Red Paperclip

I was hooked the first time I saw the concept behind One Red Paperclip. I'm fascinated by this guys ability to take a children's game and turn it into a global phenomenon. Now in this post he takes a bunch of his readers to task for thinking that a KISS snowglobe was a major step down the value chain. I believe that this points to the notion of progress that we all seem to have. "Why would he trade for something that clearly has LESS value?" we all ask! Well, turns out he has a very good reason.

RenewUS: A Climate Movie with a Happy Ending (Really)

This is a good one! I would recommend taking a few minutes to read this post by Joel Makower and watch the 4 minute movie. This type of possibility is what really gets me excited. The possiblitiy that 2006 could be the year that we look back on as the turning point is a big motivator.