Monthly Archives: February 2013

Half Baked Manor’s Foray Into Geekdom

While I have not become a full-fledged, card-carrying geek in this past week, I can share with you how to prepare yourself for your computer’s demise with a minimal loss of productivity.  It’s a fact of life — computers die — and you need to be prepared for this.  Here’s a quick guide to preparing for the worst.

Save all your files in Dropbox, Google Docs, or some other form of cloud storage.    This is 90 percent of the preparation right here.  If you can access your files from anywhere and not be dependent on one computer, this will help you immensely.  Go to and set up an account.  It’s free and it will pay you exponential dividends if you use it.

Use Firefox or Google Chrome.  Give them your data.  I recognize that this may be a controversial recommendation.  But Google already has your data anyway!  You may as well get something out of it!  If you set up your browser in your old environment and save your preferences, it will transfer seamlessly to your new environment.  All of the movements at the keyboard that have become second nature to you can stay that way.  You can pick up where you left off.

Find an old PC.  It doesn’t really matter what vintage it is.  Laptop, desktop . . .  If you have one hanging around your house that you are not using and you can get an internet connection on it, you are good to go.

Install Linux on it.  This may be the most daunting step.  I installed Ubuntu on my old PC laptop.  If you go to, there are tutorial videos that will show you how to do this.  It’s alot easier than it sounds.  You can either install it for a dual boot system so that you can run Windows as well, or you can do like I did and get rid of the safety net of being able to use Windows and go strictly with Ubuntu.

So, why Linux?  It runs very efficiently with a small amount of RAM and a low-speed processor and it doesn’t crash.  It’s open source software, so just about all of it is free.  And it really works!

So far, the experiment has worked out really well. I’ve had very little loss of productivity.  This nice little backup is doing the job quite adequately.

P.S.  I got the news on the Mac.  It will require a new hard drive.  I found out what I needed, ordered a 650 GB (!) hard drive for about $60 and the special Mac screwdriver for about $5.  Not nearly as devastating as I had feared.  


Mission Accomplished!

Well, I completed the 50 mile event Saturday! Great experience and wild success! It took me 13 hours and 20 minutes, which I was greatly pleased with. I was able to enjoy most of the run. Surprisingly, the most difficult portion was from about miles 13-21. It’s been my experience in doing these longer events that there is a “barrier” that one has to push through. I haven’t quite been able to define what it is but it seems to have something to do with giving up the illusion of having control of the outcome of the event. At some point, a mental and emotional surrender takes place and what appears to be obvious is finally accepted — that I am going to be out there for a long, long time. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that pain and discomfort is going to increase. There will be times of feeling better and worse, but overall, once that barrier is pushed through, the majority of the event turns out to be an extremely pleasant experience. I’m actually thinking about upping the ante and attempting a 100 miler later this year! I’ll keep you posted.Image


Multiple Successful Outcomes

Before every event that requires alot of planning and preparation, it’s worth remembering that there are multiple possibilities for successful outcome.  During the planning, preparation, and the event itself, it’s worth thinking through what these outcomes may be in order to stay encouraged and motivated.

A big life lesson that I’ve learned through my brief career in ultra running is not to view success/failure as an either/or.  Most of our “big projects” in life — starting and running a business, following a career path, raising children, pursuing interests — are done with multiple intentions and purposes.  Yet, we tend to evaluate the “bottom line” if we are evaluating success or failure.

I think back to some of the reasons that I began to prepare for the 50 miler that I mentioned yesterday.  Some of them have been: improvement in my health (I was quite overweight and had sky high blood pressure — now I’m only moderately overweight!), fitness, increased sense of well-being, enjoying the outdoors, having time to think, releasing endorphins, meeting interesting people, and accepting a challenge.  Most of these benefits have been fulfilled through the process of accepting this challenge and preparing for it.

I read somewhere that it’s important to distinguish between the process and the product, and to find joy in the process of what we are doing.  Too often, people live only for the product.  If we consider that life is probably 99 percent process and 1 percent product, it makes sense to find as much joy as possible in the 99 percent rather than living for the 1 percent.

Make no mistake.  I’m looking forward to reaping the benefits of the habits I have sown.  But it’s also a great time to think through how a successful outcome may be measured in ways other than “the bottom line.”

So, here are some possible successful outcomes for the Iron Horse 50:

Get To Starting Line Healthy:  I signed up. paid my money, did some preparation, didn’t get lost on the way to the event, and didn’t wimp out!

Manage to run between 1-32 miles:  Nice supported run (snacks make everything better!).  Great day out in the woods doing something I enjoy.  Seeing a place I have never been.  Meeting new people and encouraging them.

32 miles plus:  All of the above, plus running farther than I ever have before!

50 miles in 12-14 hours:  Wild success!

Completed 50 miles and survived:  Everything I set out to do!


Why Run 50 Miles?

When I tell people about my goal to complete a 50 mile endurance event, the “why” question seems to be always stated or implied.  I think this is a sensible question, especially for the “weekend athlete.”  After all, isn’t the marathon (26.2 miles) far enough?  The marathon is the classic distance for endurance sports aficionados who want to “overachieve.”  So, why do more?

For me, it wasn’t that I wanted something “more,” it was that I wanted something “different.”  I’ve run two marathons.  The first one I was completely undertrained for and was a miserable experience for the most part.  I ran another one for two reasons:  my daughter wanted us to get in shape and complete a marathon, and, I needed to conquer the demons of the previous effort.  My daughter and I succeeded on both accounts.

After this, I really wanted to take on a challenge that was bigger than I really thought I could accomplish.  I really wanted a challenge that would have a goal that was intimidating enough to get me out the door so that I would train every day.  I wanted to see what I was made of.  I wanted the challenge to change me as much as I wanted to meet the challenge.

There’s a real possibility that I may not finish.  My training has not been great since the first of the year.  Any number of things could go wrong that are not related to my fitness.  However, even if for some reason I have to drop out at the first aid station,  this challenge has transformed me during this past year.  I have accomplished a number of things because of this goal that I would not have without setting this goal.  So in my case, even getting to the starting line is a measure of success and beyond that, will only be a greater measure of success.


The Things They Carried

I’m signed up for an event this Saturday called the Iron Horse 50 Mile Endurance Run.  Why I’m doing this is a subject for another post.  If 38581148-MCK_9194all goes well, I’ll be moving slowly through the piney woods of Northeast Florida for about 12-15 hours Saturday.  However, my thinking in terms of this post is, “if you had to boil your life down to survive for one day, what would you take?  What would you leave?

There are aid stations every 5.5 miles so I don’t have to carry enough food and water for 50 miles — only for 5.5.  There’s also a drop bag point at 25 miles to pick up gear that will be needed for the rest of the journey.  So, it’s not nearly as extreme as it could be.  Yet for some who is fifty years old and 220 lbs., this will be quite a test of mind, body, and will.  Weather-wise, the low is supposed to be around 55 F and the high about 78 F.  So, here goes:

For Event Itself 

Patagonia tech shirt

Pearl Izumi infinity shorts

Drymax socks

Hoka One One Stinson Evo 12.5 (yes, they look like clown shoes but they feel really great!


Wicked Skins Sleeves

Ultimate Direction 2 bottle pack

Dirty Girl gaiters


Visor or headband

4 gels or so

small vial of bag balm

Hammer Gels

Watch (maybe — could stress me out!  Also, I’m slow enough that a calendar might be more useful)

Safety pins (for number and to pop blisters)


For drop bag

Bag Balm container

Drymax socks

Compression shorts

Short sleeve tech shirt

long sleeve tech shirt

Headlight (yes, I will be out after dark!)



Massage stick

More gels

More Hammergels

Ipod (questionable — I don’t usually run with music, especially on trails, but it may get me through!)


Before and after

Camp chair

Yoga mat


Change of clothes

Something warm

Compression Socks


Coca Cola

Victory At Last!

We have not seen or heard any signs of the invaders of Half Baked Manor in the last 48 hours.  Our soffits are being repaired today as well as the drywall on the ceiling in the garage.  No more openings for home invaders to get in or out!  Victory is hereby declared!

The only sad thing about this is that our guests gave me some good writing material!

Why You Need A Mentor, Part Three

A few more things that I learned from a mentor, and what a mentor may do for you:

Don’t assume that relevant experience equals competence.  Many of us have experience that is relevant and skills that are transferrable to our work that we acquired from other occupations or pursuits.  However, the assumption that some tend to make is that there is a one-to-one correspondence with skills and experiences from the past into the present.  Generally, this is not so.  Some amount of adaptation is usually needed for a new situation.

Mental and physical energy is gained by knowing why you are getting up in the morning.  At a time when many people want to slow down and coast, I was privileged to have a mentor who was fully invested in his craft and who rose early and stayed up late, not taking competence and success for granted.  What I remember the most was that he was excited and enthused enough about what he was doing that this added the physical, mental, and emotional energy needed for such an investment.  I remember thinking, “how could someone in their fifties have this much energy?  He’s running circles around me!”  Now I realize that it’s a spiral of passion and deliberateness.  Energy comes from doing what we are excited and passionate about.  This passion inspires us to work harder and excel still more.  Yet, we must be deliberate to weed out all of the things in our lives that conspire to keep us from investing in meaningful things.  This takes being intentional, being deliberate, being selective.

Remember that your best work will be done after you are fifty.  I’ve read more than one article lately along the lines of “fifty is the new thirty.”  I believe it!  It’s hard to believe this when we’re young.  But if you keep growing and learning, there is no reason for this not to be true.  While I’m learning alot from many people who are younger than I am, it’s going to be amazing to see what these people are doing in twenty years!  So keep at it!


All Quiet On The Western Front

We woke up to a morning of relative quiet on the front.  The varmints are under siege.  Their days are numbered.  They will either die in our attic from poison or being caught in a trap, or they will die after breaking out.

We found out yesterday that we really dodged a bullet here.  It turns out that squirrels will try to chew through PVC water pipes in search of water, gnaw through electric wires, and chew up your insulation.  We have gotten to them before any of these things happened.  This could have been quite an ordeal, not to mention a serious financial setback.  If we manage to come out of this war relatively unscathed, we will consider ourselves greatly blessed as we consider what might have been.

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Dispatches From The Front

We have implemented a new strategy in the defense of Half Baked Manor. We called in the cavalry to kill the enemy and destroy him. Jeff from Absolute Animal Control (sounds like music to my ears!) set traps up in the attic to capture the enemy. He sighted two large squirrels — perhaps a male and a female who had moved in to start a family. So far, defense appropriations have hit the $50 mark. However, there’s more to come. We will need to seal up the eaves of our roof to secure the perimeter so we don’t have a repeat engagement. I’ll keep you posted.


Why You Need A Mentor, Part Two

I began writing yesterday about the influence and life lessons of a mentor who invested in me twenty years ago.  Here are a few more lessons learned:

Be willing to initiate uncomfortable conversations.  Most of us are not fans of uncomfortable conversations.  So we tend not to initiate discussions about items that lurk beneath the surface that really need to be addressed.  I think it was Tim Ferriss who said something like “your satisfaction in life is directly related to the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.”  Through this past mentoring relationship, while I was usually on the receiving end of uncomfortable conversations, I learned how to initiate these and the benefit of doing so.

Be straightforward.  We can all live with the truth, or at least we should be able to.  Tell it like it is.  I don’t mean to be ignorant of the art of tact, diplomacy, or the other person’s point of view.  Don’t just assume that people “get it” and then “write them off” if they don’t.  If you have a point to make, make your point briefly, clearly, and directly.

Be willing to challenge people.  We tend to be afraid of challenging people.  We’re more interested in protecting our psyche from rejection.  But many people really want to be challenged, especially when it comes to living for a cause larger than themselves.  Don’t be afraid of this.  Give people opportunities to develop their skills, to invest in a cause, and to become part of a community.

How have people invested in your development?  What have you learned from them?



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