You all might enjoy this. Last weekend I went out with my buddy Ken to ride the LA Marathon course before the runners started with a few thousand other cyclists. Kudos to Wolfpack Hustle for the organization.
I wrote this last year as a guest post for Byron at Bikehugger. I'm reposting it here as well. While I talk about cycling and injury here, I think you might be able to see how what I say applies to many things in life.
When you are a cyclist, life is often all about the goal. Sometimes the goal is the hill, the time, the stop sign, and for a lucky few, the podium.
Everyone is moving toward something. An objective that rolls around their brain pushing and pulling them past the comfort zone into the suffer.
A friend coaches athletes and his motto is "Train focused." For a long time I thought it was some new-agey bullshit. Kind of like the motivational speeches I've heard from coaches all my life, a purely emotional tug to pull that last ounce of energy from deep inside. I have to admit, that kind of thing can work, but the effects are fleeting.
Recently, I learned what he was actually getting at.
My cycling goals have always been stuff like beating my time on a local hill, staying with the fast group on the club ride, completing a century, riding cyclocross, and similar things that you read about in magazines. Most cyclists have their list of goals and ideas that percolate in their mind when they pull a jersey over their head. Staying focused on the goals is key to completing them.
But sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Recently, I crashed my bike. Hard. In a cycling trifecta, I broke my collarbone, wrist, and back. Leaving the hospital with both arms strapped to my body, pain shooting with every bump in the road, my wife's eyes still red from tears, I couldn't help but think about when I could ride again.
The first week I tried to do as much as possible, fantasizing about how to get back on a trainer or spin bike. And it was impossible. I literally could not feed myself and had to drink meals from a straw. Finally, my wife said, "Your job is to heal. That's it. Leave the rest to us."
At that moment I realized what Training Focused really meant. Knowing what you are trying to do and stop being distracted by all the crazy ideas. My job was to heal. My goal was to recover. Cycling could wait. And in reality, starting back too early would hurt my 'goal'.
Once I accepted my real goal, I could get back into my athlete's mindset and start focusing on doing what was needed to reach my goal. Getting enough sleep, eating right, ice, heat, taking pills on time, and even a little walking. Going in for the weekly x-ray became a event to be won, by focusing on my recovery.
Setting unrealistic plans of getting back on my bike too early, would have done nothing to help me with my real goal of healing. It's easy to be lured into the false goal of trying to be a tough guy that can ride through injury, but in reality, it's the worst thing someone can do.
Know what your goal is. Even when that goal is sitting in a chair wearing an ice pack. Work as hard to podium in the Doctor's office as you would on the road.
Last January 21th marked the first day of the 14th year of Cruftbox. I've been blogging for 13 years now. Clearly, I'm not on top of my day & date blogging lately.
I've talked a little about where my blogging has been in the past, and compared it to social media like Twitter and Facebook. But I'm going to talk about where I think blogging is going next.
First, let me define what I mean by blogging, since, like many terms, it means many things to many people.
Blogging is an individual's thoughts and interpretations on a particular topic, presented in a unified way that creates a fuller picture of the person and their ideas.
Not a perfect description, but close enough for my purposes. Sure there are the occasional group blogs that might qualify, but most could be considered group sharing, not group blogging. Metafilter is a site for group sharing, not blogging. Comments are not blogging.
Many of the popular sites may have their origin in individual weblogs, but have morphed into online magazines, newsletter, and newspapers. Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Drudge Report are all newspapers, virtually indistinguishable from print originated newspapers. Even sites like Daily KOS, Redstate, Talking Points Memo, and Breitbart are almost exactly the same as supermarket tabloids. They focus on gathering information and reporting on the information to their particular narrative for commercial purposes.
Some may quibble about my distinction, but they are the types that quibble about everything in life, so we pay them no mind. ;)
Social Media and your Digital Life
One issue going forward with individual blogging is how it continues in relation to social media, most of which is ephemeral, with an exceedingly short life of relevance.
I enjoy the social services as much as anyone. It's fun to get likes, retweets, and favorites. The majority of stuff posted there is OK to fade away. Your photo of a plate of pancakes captioned as "Noms!" is not going to be something your grandkids are going to frame and hang in the living room.
Social services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ aren't going away anytime soon, but at some point they will essentially be gone, due to evolution of platforms, trends, and relevance. Don't believe me? How are your usenet posts doing? Maybe your explanations in the AOL forums are still easily accessible? Or your witticisms on MySpace?
But there are things from the social feeds that are special, that you do want to keep, and are important to you. But you need to realize that those things will fade unless you are the one to store them away. And you need to store them somewhere where you have a modicum of control.
I think that part of the future of weblogs is as a scrapbook of sorts for your social media 'moments' that you want to capture and preserve within your own control and outside the remit of ever changing privacy and usage policies.
A few groups are toying around the edges of this, but I think it's going to become more popular to exfiltrate your social media content to your own blog so you are not beholden to others. Thinkup is a start, but more focused on the analytics of social media feeds rather than sorting and storing the nuggets you feel strongly about.
The cost of storage and servers continue to plummet, in most cases far exceeding our ability to create content to fill what's available. Also, the faith in 'the cloud' to store your content as a service you pay for, like you pay for gas, electric, broadband, and water. It would be fairly straightforward to offer a blogging platform that allows you to write traditional posts as well and store whatever you want from your social media feeds.
Talking about this with my friend Greg, he talked about assembling the individual 'atoms' of social media into the large 'molecule' of an event or experience. Being to save and store these molecule outside the volatile they exist now will become de rigueur.
My friend Eric Freeman used to talk about lifestreaming and how we'd end up with a way to keep track of our 'digital life'. Today, most of us in the first world are living a digital life with bits and pieces scattered across the web and Internet. Time for people to take control of their digital life and bring it together in a way they like, rather than the way developers in Silicon Valley like.
A post by Sean Bonner has been bouncing around my head for a bit. In his post, he talks about looking around and thinking that everyone else has things figured out. That they had "cracked the code" or "have a pro account or something" on life in general.
I used to feel the same way. I'd wonder how I would ever get up to speed to what was going on around me in the world.
The truth dawned on me over time.
First, the group of guys I went to college with grew up and slowly started taking positions of power in the business and the military. We'd kept in touch since living in the fraternity house together. The same guys I watched do stupid, foolish, and occasionally felonious stunts, were now responsible for important things. Seeing a guy that put his motorcycle back together so poorly it literally caught fire was now flying a $25+ million fighter plan was a bit strange.
And then it dawned on me that maybe there weren't a lot of people out there that did everything right in life and had life 'scoped' completely.
Once I moved up the corporate ladder, I started working with the people that decide what and how you see things on television and in the movie theater. Surely, these people must be no nonsense, super sharp, focused individuals. I mean, how else do you steer a Fortune 50 company correctly? It didn't take me long to realize that the vast majority of people making the 'big' decisions in business weren't all that different than you and me. Some liked facts, some liked numbers, some liked their gut, but none of them I saw ever take everything into account like you might read in an MBA textbook. A lot of the decisions I saw get made were because they were the ones that helped them avoid blame.
But because of their title, most viewed their decisions as 'brilliant'. That is until they were ejected from the Company, upon which a new 'brilliant' individual would take their place.
My point is that you have it within you to be as good as anyone you admire. Even if you can't see it, others can see your potential to do great things. The trick is looking at your strengths rather than looking at your weaknesses. I'm not saying you should ignore your weakness, just that you shouldn't get caught up obsessing on how someone is better at something as you.
I guarantee you that you have a skill or ability that someone you admire is jealous of and wishes they could have.
I've only met a few people that were truly inspiring, innovative, and 'game-changing' in business and life for that matter. They all have the same basic characteristics.
Passion - They were driven by an ineffable passion to push forward. Not money, status, or reward, but by the prospect that they could move the needle in their field, even if only a little.
Openness - They wanted to hear what others thought. Not to refute or argue with them, but to listen to alternatives. They never lost sight of their goals, but were truly open to different paths to reach it.
Optimism - They are not cynical people. They see failure and problems as inevitable parts of the road forward. Rather than focusing on who is to blame for the tree that feel across the trail, they are busy climbing over it and leave a rope behind to help others get over it as well.
If there is anything we could all do to head toward having a 'pro account' in life, it is to follow our passions, listen to others with an open mind, and stay positive in the face of adversity.
Here are some concrete things you can do to to have a better 2013. No hand-wavy, touchy-feely resolutions. Just a few simple things to do that will make your life a little better.
Don't sleep in the same room as your phone.
There's no reason to be checking your phone first thing when you wake or last thing before you sleep. Let your mind rest a bit. Charge it in the other room when you sleep.
Send a gift to someone that doesn't expect one for no reason other than they could use some love.
Why wait for holidays? People can use a little boost any time of the year. Receiving something out of the blue is a wonderful feeling. Knowing someone is thinking about you during a tough time is sometimes just what's needed to get through. With internet shopping for pretty much anything you can conceive, there's no excuse.
Go outside and exercise at least two times a week.
Exercising your body is the best possible thing you can do for yourself. Being outdoors and away from screens and into the sunlight is also great for your body and mind. If you don't like to ride or run, even just walking during your lunch hour is great. Get outside, move your body, feel the sun on your skin and a breeze on your face.
Read book that is non-fiction, not self-help, and about a topic you don't know well.
Getting outside of your normal zone of information is the only way to expand your perspective. Learning new things will help you make connections that you might normally miss. Our world is amazing, take some time to see it.
Listen/Read/Watch these things:
Bullseye - Podcast w/ Jesse Thorn interviewing people involved with popular culture from today and the past, shining a light on great things. Jesse's interviewing is top notch, bringing people out from behind their standard PR answers and offering a glimpse of the person, not the persona.
Saga - Comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. The best written and most innovative comic book out there today. Romeo & Juliet meets True Romance meets Alice in Wonderland. Not for kids, it's an comic for thinking adults.
What Technology Wants - Book by Kevin Kelly - A look at how technology affects and drives human society. Are we technology's master, or are we doing it's bidding? Well written and comprehensive.
The Diaz Brothers - Song by the Mountain Goats - My favorite song of the year. Simple, but with strange allusions to films and literature. A catchy tune that earwormed me for months.
The Great Hobini - Truly wonderful music mashups with a hip-hop touch.
Moonrise Kingdom - Movie by Wes Anderson - Finely crafted movie about an adventure in the world of 12 year old children. Touching, funny, and with enough commentary on adults to add a few layers of meaning.
Six weeks ago I crashed my bike. I've crashed before, but this by far was my worse. Since the crash I've learned a few things.
I was in a cyclocross race. Cyclocross is kind of like a steeplecross race for people on bikes. You ride over grass, dirt, sand, bumps and all kind of obstacles, occasionally jumping off the bike and carrying across barriers or up a hill. I'd wanted to do this for a while and had even built a bike up from the frame to ride.
Riding in my second race of the day, I was trying to make up some time on people ahead of me going over the flyover. A flyover is a big wooden ramp. This is what the flyover looked like. Here's a video of much better riders coming down and making the turn.
I guess I came down too fast or made another mistake. When I hit the first bump after the flyover I lost control and crashed into the turn. They told me my tire popped on the bump and that was the cause, but I'll never know for sure exactly what happened.
Over the handlebars I went, landing on my head and right shoulder. I tumbled a bit and landed on my back. I had heard a crunch and I knew I had hurt myself. I wiggled my hands and moved my feet, but couldn't get up. A race official hopped over onto the course and crouched to shield me from other riders still going past. I just wanted to get up but he insisted I not move. He asked several questions to see if I was able to think straight. The ambulance crew came over, but they didn't do much but put my arm in a sling in help me up. Everyone asked me if I wanted a ride to a hospital or other help.
Lucky for me, my buddy Ken was at the race too. He gave me a ride home. On the ride home I had to call Michele and tell her I had crashed and would need to go to the hospital. I hurt all over and had sharp pain in my shoulder, wrist and back. I realized this was not a trivial injury and my stomach sank.
Michele took me to the hospital where they cut off my cycling jersey to look at me and took a ton of x-rays.
After waiting the longest 15 minutes, the doctor came in and said, "You really banged yourself up today." I had broken my right collarbone, left wrist, and cracked some bones in my lower back called the transverse processes. I'd have to see specialist to determine if surgery was needed. They strapped my right arm to my body and casted my entire left arm. I now couldn't do pretty much anything for myself.
I'd had shoulder surgery before, but had always had my other arm free to do things why the injured arm was healing. Now I had neither.
I got a wrist cast on my left arm that allowed a little more movement and I stopped strapping my arm to my chest after 4-5 days. Over the next six weeks, I didn't do much but stay home and heal. Doped up on the serious painkillers the first week, I stopped taking them the second and started to have more time to think. Currently, I'm through the worst of it and pretty functionally, but still limited on lifting things and hurt all the time.
What I learned:
I'm lucky - I landed on my head. My helmet cracked. I could have been injured in so many worse and permanent ways. Many are not so lucky and end up dealing with the consequences for the rest of their lives. I am truly, deeply grateful that I got off as easy as I did.
I'm not 25 anymore - When I was younger, accidents and injuries happened and usually were gone before a weekend was over. At 45, nothing heals fast. Even though I'm in good shape, eat healthy, and have great medical treatment, my recovery is measured in weeks and months and not days. Realizing exactly how long I'd be 'down' was a tough thing to come to grips with, considering the doctors still hadn't ruled out a surgery on my collarbone. For all the wonderful things that age brings like wisdom, patience, and the long view, losing the ability to bounce back quickly really is a hard one to accept.
Cycling is mental exercise as much as physical - I love riding my bike. It's my preferred solution to resolving every issue. Hit the road and everything fades back into the calm parts of my mind and I think about the color of the sky, the smell of summer as hot wind blows over a brown hillside, the hearing the sound my heartbeat roaring my ears, the feel of rain hitting my face, the taste of cold water on a hot day. Not being able to ride removed this way for me to deal with the everyday issues of the world. Cycling is as important to my mental health as to my physical health. I hadn't imagine how much I'd miss this aspect and long to get away and feel the air on my face to help me process my feelings.
But the most important thing I've learned and need to continue to learn is this:
Humility - When I worked at Disney, I walked past a dedication plaque in front of the Frank G. Wells building regularly. On it was written "Humility is the final achievement."
I pondered that quote literally for years. In the high stakes game of corporate politics, money, power and secrecy, humility was something that I rarely ran into. Humility seemed like a weakness.
Immediately after the injury I tried to figure out how to do things for myself and continue to keep my routine at home even though it was ridiculous. Michele and girls had to help feed me, wash me, remind me to take medicine, and even make me coffee. At first I felt bad about this, like I was a terrible burden constantly apologizing. Finally, Michele told me, "Stop apologizing. Accept this and let us help you. Your job is to sit still, rest, and get better."
I've always viewed myself as someone who did the helping, not needing the help. I prided myself on being self-sufficient, stoic, and able to handle most things without needing help. But that wasn't working here, I had to realize that asking and accepting the help of others, being grateful for their kindness, and seeing that I needed others was the only way forward. Once I accepted that it gave me a bit of peace. Accepting other's making decisions for me, listening and accepting the advice of others based on faith in them not proof, and remaining positive during a tough time all helped me get through the first few weeks.
I hope that I can continue to find humility in my life going forward, not just in dealing with my injury, but in dealing with life on a day to day basis. I don't think you ever 'achieve' humility, but like a bike ride, it's a path you can take to help your mind and body.
Halloween was a bit tougher this year due to my recent bike crash, but we did our best to carry out our traditions. This is our eighth year of handing out full size candy. The magic continues to impress. Children are wowed and often shocked at the idea of receiving and full size candy bar when the rest of the night is filled with minis. The cries of 'awesome' and 'look Mom, it's a big one' are great. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Michele made a special Cruft Manor pumpkin!
As you Loyal Cruft Readers demand, once again, I made a timelapse movie of all of the trick or treaters as I handed them candy. I have a new GoPro camera, and it made the process pretty simple.
As I have in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. I asked every person what they were dressed as and wrote down the answers. I am careful to ask what they are, accepting their answers rather than interpreting what I see.
I now have eight years of data to compare.
Here are the top ten costumes for the last eight years compared.
It appears that Cat has leaped from the bottom to the top to grab the top honors from Witch. With generic Princess in the top 5 as well, I have to say that many young ladies are taking the easy way out, simply grabbing a hat from the closet and putting on weird make-up. Some of the ladies really stepped up their game though. I like the Weeping Angel from Doctor Who, Zombie Girl Scout, Video Game Console, Bride of Frankenstein, and Pizza Delivery Girl. The boys did OK, with a few flashes of brilliance like Starbucks Cup and Carl from Up.
Two Zombies with mustache
Mexican hat wearing green person
Almost everyone had a costume this year, which is great. Only one person came close to the perilous "nothing" answer. BTW, my shirt is safety pinned together because I have a broken collarbone and can't lift my right arm. Michele cut the shirt so I can get into it easily.
After giving out ~250 full size candies, we ran out about 8:30PM and closed up. My daughters were still out roaming, as teenagers do.
This year's complete costume list of 231 people:
4 Candy Corn
4 Captain America
3 Buzz Lightyear
3 Darth Vader
3 Iron Man
3 Little Red Riding Hood
2 80s Girl
2 Angry Bird (Red)
2 GI Joe
2 Harry Potter
2 Hello Kitty
2 Mad Hatter
2 Michael Myers
2 Minnie Mouse
2 Snow White
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
2 Zombie with mustache
1 Alice in Wonderland
1 Bride of Frankenstein
1 Car Accident Victim
1 Carl from Up
1 Chucky Girl
1 Cowboy Riding Ostrich
1 Cutie (tangerine)
1 Dead Bride
1 Dead Iron Worker
1 Dead Skater
1 Diet Coke Can
1 Dragon Ninja
1 Egyptian Princess
1 Ghost Guy
1 Hula Girl
1 Jason Voorhees
1 Karate Zombie
1 Krispy Creme Delivery Person
1 Little Bo Peep
1 Little Girl
1 Mater (Cars)
1 Mexican Indian
1 Mexican Person
1 Michael Jackson
1 Midnight Witch
1 Mummy from Monster High
1 Navy SEAL
1 Ninja Shadow
1 Pizza Delivery Girl
1 Pokemon Trainer Red
1 Psycho Nice Witch
1 Pumpkin Spider Witch
1 Robin Hood (Animated Version)
1 Run Over Victim
1 Scary DJ
1 SpongeBob SquarePants
1 Starbucks Cup
1 The Grudge
1 Thomas the Tank Engine
1 UCLA Student
1 Vampire from Monster High
1 Video Game Console
1 Volleyball Player
1 Wednesday (Adams Family)
1 Weeping Angel
1 Werewolf from Monster High
1 Wolf Spirit
1 Wonder Woman
1 Zombie Football Player
1 Zombie Girl Scout
1 Zombie Witch
Previous 10 entries...Refinishing a bicycle Oct 16, 2012
How to give someone a medal Oct 16, 2012
Eleven Years Sep 11, 2012
Inventing a problem Jun 15, 2012
Hacking a cycling jersey: a hole for earbuds May 15, 2012
Important Skills Apr 30, 2012
Making Moonshine Mar 8, 2012
Getting rid of the sulfur smell from a washing machine Mar 1, 2012
What happens when good stuff goes into the Public Domain Feb 21, 2012
Making Cha Siu at home Feb 17, 2012