Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Peanutbutter Wiki

I want to recommend a site call pbwiki or PeanutButter wiki. It is a place where you can get your own wiki and do with it what you want. You can make it private (which means that you must enter a password in order to look at it) or it can be public (anyone can look, but you need the password to update).

Why should you get your own wiki? Good question. I use mine to record writing ideas. I think of a lot of ideas for articles to write (yea, yea ... I don't follow through on many), but I don't ever write them down and they are soon lost in the ether of my mind. Now I have a place where I can write them down (as long as I have access to a computer and the web).

I think it could be used for some interesting collabrative writing projects. Haven't done anything like that yet, but I have some ideas (lots of ideas ...).

The nicest thing about it is that it's free. You can also pay money and get a premium account, but you can start with a free account and play. Learn how to use a wiki, see if it is something that you can use. If it is, you can always upgrade (I am still playing right now). You get 10M of storage with the free account, which is a lot of text. If want to store images and files, you will probably want to upgrade and get the 1000M of storage.

Their privacy policy seems to be pretty good. A company's privacy policy is only good as long it is not sold, but that is the same with anything else on the web. Use you own judgement.

So head over to PeanutButter Wiki and get your own wiki. Can't think of any good reasons not to do it.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

End of Another Year

I have been thinking about writing here for quite awhile. But I just have not been able to find do it. I have a couple of entries I wanted to write before the end of the year. However, with 2006 fast approaching and the fact I am heading out to some friends in a couple of hours tends to negate the possibility of doing that. So I will just write this one.

Since it is the end of the year, I feel an urge to assess the past year and look ahead to 2006. I'm not sure I want to assess 2005 in public here (yea, I know. This is not too public, but still more so than I want). I tend to not let people peek to far behind the facade I put up. Over the past few years, I have let some close friends around back and have given them a peek of the real me. But not too many people.

I have seen a few different ways that people have assessed the past year. Some of the more well know bloggers have played the '4 in 2005' game (e.g.'4 movies I saw in 2005'). Some friends of mine sent out a Christmas letter that used each of the letters of the alphabet to describe their year (wonderful idea and wonderful letter). I ran across a Live Journal entry that listed a number of questions and answers to the questions for their assessment of 2005 (e.g. What was your most embarrassing moment in 2005?). I could see myself doing the alphabet letter, but the other two are just too personal. Not sure I am ready to let you all that far into my head. So, let me see if I can find the right balance between talking about me and opening up that curtain too much..

2005 has been an interesting year for me. Damn .... this is tough. Part of me wants to write as I do with my private journal or with my morning pages, but no one reads those except for me. How about I just write and just let the thoughts fall on to the screen and let the words fall as they will. I feel that life has a number of aspects to it, each of which must be fulfilling to have a complete and satisfying life. There is the work side of things (need to do that in order to pay the bills). There is the health/active side of life (my running). There is the spiritual/personal growth side (my reading of the Dan Millman books, exploration of the dream world). There is the relationship side (friends, family, lovers). There is the creative side (my photography, my writing). There is also the maintenance side of life (housework, yard work, etc.). My goal in life to balance the energy I give to each of those aspects. I understand that each of them will require more energy at a given instant of time which takes energy from other aspects. But over the long run, I hope to give each of them what is required so that I feel I am balanced.

It's been a good year for work. I am fortunate in that I love what I do. If I didn't get paid for software development, I would probably do some of it on my own. I just like to solve problems (even though I think that sometimes the problems that are solved are more associated with the program and hardware on with the software runs than with reality (remember ... it is only ones and zeros)). In 2005 I have taken on additional responsibility and with that additional responsibility comes the opportunity for me to have some input on the direction of the product on which I work. I find that very cool.

I have continued to explore different spiritual/personal growth areas. The one I am most excited about is the dream world. I attended a 2 session dreams workshop during which we worked some dreams during the second session. We each brought in a dream and then worked with each other to try to gain some understanding of what the dream might mean. I thought it was very cool. What is exciting about this is that in a couple of weeks I am going to be part of a new dream group in the area. The purpose of the group is the same as the second session of the dreams workshop; help each other to try to understand what our dreams might mean. The group will be based on the techniques of Jeremy Taylor who believes that each of us is the only one who can truely understand what our dream means. What others can do is to help us to find that understanding, to provide some insight that might trigger an understanding from within us.. This is something that I have wanted to do for a few years. It is very exciting to see it finally happening. Another class I attended that provided me a way to learn more about myself was class on archetypes, based on the work of Caroline Myss. It was a 3 session class where we looked at archetypes, tried to identify the archetypes that apply to each of us, and learned some exercises that can be used with archetypes to explore ourselves. I haven't done much of anything with this, but I want to do more.

I have continued with my running, although not as much I have in the past few years. It's is tough to make the time that is required to run as much as I want. I can easily come up with excuses on why I haven't done the long runs on the weekends like I used to, but that is all they are. Excuses. I've signed up for a 50K in 2 weeks and a couple of 50Ks in March, so I will have to make the time for running. Maybe not the 25 mile runs on the weekends like I used to do, but at least double digit runs during the week and then on the weekend (hmmm, I guess by making this public I will have to follow through ...). If I want to finish the races and feel close to being human, I need to do that. I have to do that. I have also continued with my yoga, although I don't seem to be able to make the time to do it on my own (my own 'practice'). I seem to have to go to a class to get myself to do it. Maybe that is something I can set as a goal for next year.

This entry is getting away from me. I don't know if anyone else finds this interesting. I guess that is one of the nice things about me writing this (instead of chewing on your ear with it). You don't have to read. You can head off to a more interesting blog. One last thing before I end this and get ready to head off to my friends. I am not one to make resolutions for the new year. It just sets me up to fail and gives me another thing about which I can feel guilty. So instead I set goals. Starting doing some yoga at home. Up my running mileage. Stay on top of customer problems at work. Organize the clutter in the garage (something that has been a goal for the past few years). The primay thing I want to do is to continue to make progress on what I said earlier: finding how I can put the right balance of energy into each of the different aspects of my life so that I can feel good about my life as a whole. As long as I am making progress towards that goal, I am doing the right thing. I can feel good about me (even as I beat me up in my morning pages).

So, I hope you have had a wonderful 2005 and that in 2006 you will find yourself on the path to your dreams, whatever they may be.

Have a great 2006!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Back to my Roots : Part 1

I realized in the past couple of days that I have not written anything about my actual trip. Rather than making this a travel journal, I have been more just focused on particular incidents from my trip and expounded on them. I have another entry I would like to write along those lines, but I will make this entry a description of what I have actually been doing on this trip. Hopefully without heading off into too many tangents (which I have a tendency to do).

The flight out here last Friday passed without major incident. A friend of mine drove us to the airport so I didn't have to either leave my van at the airport or pay for someone to take us (either case would have added a good chunk of money to the cost of my trip). As we rode the freeway, I commented to her that I felt stressed even though we had plenty of time to reach the airport and everything was going just fine. I think that I have a tendency to expect something to happen, even though I have no reason to think that way. Perhaps the higher level of stress I feel is my way of preparing for whatever that might be. I didn't start to feel relaxed until I was sitting with my kids at the gate. It turns out that I did not need to prepare myself for anything. The only thing that happened was very minor and it was resolved quite quickly. When we went through security (yea, that dreaded area of the airport ... security), the woman that checked our boarding passes asked me for the passes for the SJ to Denver leg. She said that all that I handed to here were the passes for the Denver to Kansas City leg. I looked at the passes and yes, three of the boarding passes were missing. I thought I must have dropped them , but at the same time I thought that someone would have pointed it out (the airport was not crowded, but neither was it empty). So I told my kids to wait there and I retraced out steps. I had to keep my mind from about what would happen if they were truly lost. Instead, I just followed the path we took from the curbside checkin. I didn't see any passes on the floor, didn't see anything in the rest room, nothing on the seats where my kids waited for a bit, nothing. I finally arrived back at the curbside checkin and looked around there. The skycap asked me what I was looking for. I told him that I seemed to have lost some boarding passes and was looking for them. He looked at the desk and saw some passes sitting there. He picked them up, read off the names and asked if those were the ones I was looking for. Yes, those were ours. He gave them to me and said he couldn't figure out how they got there. I think they may not have been given to us, but I told him that it didn't really matter. I had the passes and that was what was important.

Since that was the worst that happened on the trip out, I am not going to complain. Any trip is going to have its rough spots. I think you just have to accept that, deal with them when they happened, and then move on to enjoy what you encounter next.

We arrived in Kansas City along with our luggage, picked up our rental car, and headed up the road to Des Moines. In just under 3 hours, we pulled into my brother's driveway. The trip was over. We went to the front door and went inside without knocking since my sister-in-law had told us that they might be in bed. Turns out they weren't. They had gone for dinner and arrived home as we were about to head to bed.

Not an exciting trip, but that is OK. When I travel with my kids, the less excitement, the better.

The next day was the race that I described a couple of posts ago and then a visit with some Iowa friends. I want to discuss that in another post so I will not bring that up here.

Sunday and Monday were spent at my brother and sister-in-law's house just hanging out. This, of course, is what vacations are for. Reading, drinking wine, reading some more, watching a little TV, visiting ... pretty much doing just what I wanted.

Looks like I didn't get very far into my trip with this post and I need to head to bed soon. We are having a family picture tomorrow and I don't want to stay up too late. As seems to be typical with me, I have a number of ideas for posts. Only time will tell whether or not I actually write any of them. I hope you have enjoyed what I have written.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My Journey

Free does not mean that you establish the curriculum; only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.

A Course in Miracles
"I am on a journey." That statement can mean many different things. It can mean a physical journey like the trip I am taking right now. It can mean a spiritual journey as is laid out in many books, one of which I am reading right now. This post is about the latter.

About a year and a half ago, I discovered a book by Dan Millman called "Way of the Peaceful Warrior". I saw it in a bookstore that is oriented toward a spiritual type of customer and I wrote the title down with the intention of looking for it in used book stores. I eventually went an even less expensive route and borrowed it from my local library. It's the story of the author's journey to find himself and to find his spiritual place in the universe. I read the book at the exact time in my life where it was able to have a strong impact on me. Some of its impact has faded, but certain ideas that are expressed in the book have stuck with me. One of the most important ideas is the idea to live in the here and now. Whenever I write or speak about that concept, I have to add that I don't mean to completely forget about the past and ignore the future. My take on that concept is to focus on the here and now, but don't forget the lessons of the past and continue tol plan for the future. Since you cannot change the past, there is no need to spend energy regretting or beating yourself up over what you have done in the past. At the same time, the future will never be exactly what you expect it to be, so there is no need to tie yourself up in knots over what may happen. I have to work on that concept each and every day. Some days it is easy to do, other days it is quite difficult. I suppose the fact that it is not always easy for me shows that I am human.

Yesterday I started the sequel to that book, "Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior". It is the story of the author's continued journey "to wisdom and peace." As I read the book, I am amazed at how I am able to relate to much of what it is saying. I am not sure that I could relate to it in the same way I do now if I had read it years ago, even a couple of years ago. I often need to be taught a concept a number of times before it truly sinks in, before it actually has meaning to me. It is often that the first time I am taught something new, I don't have the experience to understand the true meaning of what is being taught. But after hearing or reading the concept a couple of times (or more), I am able to start to use it to understand something new about my life or about my work (if it is related to my profession). All of a sudden when I read about it another time, a bright light appears and I say "Oh, that is what that means". I am having some of those experiences with this new Dan Millman book (new to me even though it was written almost 15 years ago). Here are a couple of examples:

"In my life, I've learned that at precisely those times when life seems to get worse that you may actually be getting ready to make a leap. When you feel like you're getting nowhere - stagnating, even slipping backward - what you're actually doing is backing up to get a running start."

Mama Chia
from "Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior"
I'm not sure I have been taught this before, but I know I have experienced it. And I have talked about it. I can't say that I am feeling that my life is getting worse right now, but I do feel like I am in a rut. A couple of years ago (a few months before my 50th birthday) I felt a tension of sorts was building up in my life. I felt that something was going to happen, I just didn't know what. Then I had my 50th birthday and I took a spiritual leap forward. All of a sudden I felt like I was opened to a whole new world. That feeling wore off in a few months and my life went back to a more normal state. But it was at a different level than I was at before. I wonder if I am approaching something like that now. I don't know. The only thing I do know is that whatever happens, it will be something that I did not expect.

"Why would God say no?"
"Why does a loving parent say no? Sometimes children's wants run counter to their needs. People turn to God when their foundations are shaking, only to discover it is God who's shaking them. The conscience mind cannot always foresee what is for out highest good. Faith involves a basic trust in the universe - that everything is for our highest good. This is what I believe."

Mama Chia
From "Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior"

I believe this is talking about intuition, something I have a difficult time accepting. I am a left brain sort of guy and have a difficult time accepting what my right brain tells me. I am working on it, but I still don't find it an easy thing to do. However, I am noticing more and more how little things seem to work out for me. For instance, I saw that my friend's son was going to run the same race I described in the last post. I thought my friend may be watching his son run the race, so I looked for him. Didn't really expect to see him with the thousands of people at the race, but I looked anyway. I never saw him, but decided to call after the race (even though I felt guilty about not calling before my trip). There was no answer on his cell phone, so I just hung up and didn't leave a message. He saw that I had phoned and returned my call. It turns out he and his wife also ran the race. Because I didn't let my guilt stop me from calling, I was able to see them for a couple of hours when I thought I would not see them at all on this trip.

This post appears to be one of my rambling posts, but I want to write about some of what I am feeling right now. And I want to try to convince me that I am on a journey, that I am making progress, that I don't need to see what is ahead on the path because the path will take an unexpected turn.

Perhaps in time this will make more sense to me, more sense to those around me (if they are at all interested). I wonder what I will think of this particular post when I look back on it in the future.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

5000 Nuts on the trail

I ran Iowa's equivalent of San Francisco's Bay to Breakers yesterday. It is a 10K trail race at Living History Farms, a museum that shows what farm life was like during Iowa's past. It is a working farm (we ran through harvested corn and soybean fields), but the machinery and techniques that are used are from the Iowa's past. I talked with a friend yesterday that worked at the farm years ago, playing the part of a blacksmith (he was working there are part of a college course on history). It reminds me of a working historical farm in Fremont, CA called Ardenwood.

This race is billed as the largest cross country race in the country, and I can believe that it is. I have been telling people that between 3500 and 4000 people run the race and the race lived up to those expectations. As I was standing in the mass of people at the start, the announcer told the crowd that there are over 5000 people running the race today. I don't know exactly how they come up with that number. There were 4379 individual finishers (according to the results page) and there is also a team category. The team results do not have a total for the teams, so I can't add them into the total. There's also a 1 mile race that may have been included in the total. In any case, there were a lot of runners.

Along with all of the runner, there were a lot of crazies (which is why I compare it to the Bay to Breakers). OK, I know what you are thinking. How can you tell the difference between the runners and the crazies. Sometimes you can't. Some believe that all runners are crazy, but some people I saw were definitely over the top. I arrived early since the entry warns that if you arrive after 8 AM, expecting to wait in line a half hour before you are able to park. As I was walking to pick my number, a man dressed like a Native American. comes running by, And I mean 'dressed like a Native American'. The only piece of material on his body was a loincloth. No shirt, no shoes, nothing else. I can understand something like that in San Francisco where people actually run the Bay to Breakers without any clothing. But in Iowa? With the temperature in the mid 30's, I was wondering if he had any more of what he had taken that morning (a friend told me that he asked the Native American if he had any more of what he was on. "You mean some peyote?" he replied. It wouldn't have surprise me if it were true.)

Many other people were dressed in costume, although no one quite as crazy as the Native American. I saw quite a few runners dressed in suits and ties, one runner in a cow costume, and a number of teams dressed in costume (one of which was a number of young mean dressed in only running shorts and shoes. Close to what the Native American had on, but their feet were covered). Not the usual running crowd at all.

Besides the news about the number of runners, the announcer told the crowd that channel of the creek at one of the crossing ad been dug out earlier this year. This made the drop into the creek even steeper and the creek itself even deeper. I thought that this race could be even more interesting than I thought it would.

After we listened to the national anthem and a prayer (another indication I am in Iowa), the starting gun goes off and we start to run. OK, the people in the front are running. I am walking. And walking. And walking. It takes me a minute to cross the start line (not as much as the one Bay to Breakers race I ran, but still one of the longest times it has ever taken). The race proceeded through a pasture and on to a paved road that took us past some of the parking lots and to an underpass that takes us to the west side of the freeway (Actually freeway isn't really used in Iowa. It's called an interstate here). The race proceeded across the edge of a cornfield and then across the edge of a soybean field. Fortunately, there is enough room so that I can get on the edge of the road and pass people. Soon we come to our first creek. There are multiple ways to get across and I quickly make an evaluation of where I want to cross. I look at one spot and see people up to their thighs in water. Another spot has some rocks that can be used to get across. I choose the latter, even though it is a longer run and more crowded. I eventually get across and we soon come to another crossing. There were enough creek crossings (8 in all) that they have tended to run together in my mind. By the second or third crossing, there was no way to cross without stepping into the water. So I stepped into water and was immediately over my knees into the water. And that was just the half of the fun. The other half was getting up the hill on the other side of the creek after over a 1000 people have already climbed out and smoothed out the soil, making for a slippery mess. There were a couple of steep hills thrown in that were also tough climbs, but the creek banks were the worst.. Most of the hills (and a couple of the creek banks) had ropes that you could use to pull yourself up, but even that was difficult.

We finally crossed the last creek, another deep water crossing with probably the steepest climb out. I tried to help a woman beside me by pushing on her rear to lift her up. But she didn't make it out with my push, so I left her and crawled out (using my hands to pull myself up as I kept my weight as close to the ground as I could). Soon after the last creek, I passed the 5 mile mark. I was glad to see that since I am feeling very exhausted at this point. The running was easy now (we were running through a pasture), but I found it very difficult to push myself because of how tired I was feeling. The race soon passed the start line and continued on to a set of buildings that replicated an Iowa town in the late 1800's. At the end of the dirt road that ran between the buildings was the finish line. I pushed myself as much as I could and finally crossed the line. Done at last!

After I turned in the tag from my number, I walked over to get some water from a table that was manned by some Boy Scouts (or should that be 'boyed by some ....'). I noticed that a lot of people were walking around with doughnuts. Can't say that I have ever been to a race where the after race food was doughnuts. It seems so midwestern.

I picked up a cup of water and looked down the hill (a small hill, remember, this is Iowa) towards the runners approaching the finish line and I thought about all that I have been through. I ran this race a couple of times back in the 1980's but I didn't remember how tough the race is. I recall the creeks and the sections where we run through the wood, but I certainly didn't remember how deep the creeks were and the steepness of the creek banks.

Will I run this race again? Yes, of course. I am not only a runner, but a little crazy. I figure I can probably beat my time in two years when I am back in Iowa for Thanksgiving again. Just need to run a bit faster, take the creek crossings a bit smarter and be in better shape. Yea, easy to say right now. Lets see where things are at in two years.

Update: The Des Moines Register has an article on the race along with a link to a photo gallery (hopefully, the link was be valid for a while).

Update 2: I see that a number of people have found their way here via the Living History Farms race site. Welcome! If you are at all interested in reading about one of our California races, a friend of mine wrote an entry about a race called the Quad Dipsea which is run a week after the Living History Farms 10K. If you ever make your way out to Northern California, bring your running gear and check out our trails. Pacific Coast Trail Races runs a number of trail races with a variety of distances. They are a good source of low key trails races around the SF Bay Area.

Oh yea .... leave me a comment and tell me what you thought of the race, my blog entry, or whatever comes to mind.

Monday, September 12, 2005

First sighting of 5P license plate

Saw my first 5P license this morning while I was driving to work. It was 5PLRxxx, so we are already half way through the letter.

I want to record it here so I can connect a date with the sighting.

Update: First sighting of a 5Rxxxxx took place on October 16, 2005 as I was driving home from the 2005 Relay.

Update 2: First sighting of a 5Sxxxxxx took place about December 22 in the parking lot at work.

Update 3: First sighting of a 5Txxxxxx took placae around March 30, 2006 in the parking lot at work (while walking back from a run).

Update 4: Haven't updated this for a looooooong time. Latest license is 6Pxxxxx that I saw around November 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I sat down to write a letter to editor of my local paper tonight. I wanted to write about the failure of leadership we have in White House. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. If you have read my previous posts, I tend to ramble on. I can't do that in a letter to the editor. There is a word count limit of 250 words. I thought it would not be a problem, so I just sat down and started to write. I put most of my thoughts on the screen and decided it was time to check on the word count. 362 words! OK, need to cut back. I dropped the last couple of paragraphs, threw out a few words here and there, added a closing to the letter and checked again. 264 words. OK, I getting closer. Need to tighten up some of the thoughts, drop extra words (isn't that what you are suppose to do with writing? Just leave the words that are suppose to be there?) I managed to get it down to 243 words, so I think I have it. You may think there is more that can be dropped (and an editor will have the same thoughts), but here is what I wrote:

It saddens me to read about the loss of life tragedy in New Orleans. It also saddens me when I see the lack of leadership this country has in the White House. And because of this lack of leadership, thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of people have died needlessly. During this tragedy, George Bush has show the country that he has no idea what to do in a crisis. As long as he can talk about how he is 'fighting the terrorist over there so we don't have to fight them over here', he is in a comfortable role. But if he has to actually think on his feet and show some real leadership, he is a complete failure.

Where was President Bush as New Orleans was going under water? On vacation. Where was Vice President Cheney? Closing on the purchase of another house. Where was Secretary of State Rice? Attending a Broadway play, buying thousand dollar shoes. Is this how true leaders act in a crisis?

When the administration gets called on their slow reaction, what excuse do we hear? "We couldn't do anything until we were asked by the local authorities." " The proper paperwork had not been filed." Excuse me? The proper paperwork had not been filed? A true leader would say "The heck with the paperwork, let's get to work."

I wonder if the American people will now wake up and see what we have in the White House.

I plan to send it in tomorrow (have some other things to do tonight). Don't know if it will get published, but I at least tried. And hey! I did some writing.