Archive for July, 2006

The Hard Part Ain’t The Running

RunningWeek one of the running program is officially in the books, and I feel really good about it. While the first week of the program involved a lot more walking than running, the hardest part came long before I laced up the Asics, strapped on the I-Pod, and hit the sidewalk. The challenge was overcoming resistance.

It would have been easier to hit snooze at 5:50, roll over, say “screw this,” and go back to sleep. It would have been easier to do nothing, it always is – but there is no payoff in doing nothing.

This morning was especially tough. I had class last night, and I had a major project due this week that kept me up pretty late every night. The buzz of the alarm seemed to come too soon. My eyes did not want to open. The blankets were warm and comforting. I could hear the rain spattering on the deck outside. I had plenty of valid excuses for not running. I went through a long list of them, three times, until finally I chose not to give in to resistance. I chose to do something – I ran. Ten minutes into my run, as the rain was steadily dripping off of my forehead, I began to smile. I had done it – at least for week 1. I kept a promise to myself to run, and it felt good. I won. I have a long way to go to get into shape. My overall goal is to get into better physical shape, but my real challenge is to strengthen my mental focus. It is amazing what you can do when you choose to wake up and take the first step – even if at a slow pace.

voice » Run Like Hell, Walk Like Hell…repeat

The Shortcut to Google Expertise

Google HelpCheck out the newly released Google Help page. It has tons of information on all things Google, and there is a lot more to the Big G than simple search. It houses an excellent A-Z listing page of services and solutions including GMail and Google Calendar. Also of note is the listing of Writely, the online word processing and collaborative writing solution that has been under wraps since Google’s purchase of the company many moons ago. It looks like it is getting closer to coming out of the private beta and into the hands of the general public. There are now several pages dedicated to information about Writely. Very exciting. Anyway, http://google.com/support is a great site for learning more about all the cools tools offered by Google. One more thing on the Google front. If you are an IE user, Google just released a very cool updated version of Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. As cool as it is, I would tell you that it is a better idea to download Firefox, but if you insist on using IE to surf the web, this tool is an essential.

Google Help

The Value of the O Line

I was running this morning, day 2 of the new program thank you, and got to thinking about professional football. I was pondering the impact of a great offensive line on the ultimate success of a professional football team. My mind drifted back to the 1990’s, and the Dallas Cowboys. That offensive line was one of the most dominant in the history of the NFL. I make that claim without personal bias, as I freely admit that I am not even a fan of America’s Team. Still I respect those Cowboy teams that Jimmy Johnson led to such overwhelming and consistent success. The names that stick out are the stars. Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Moose, Emmit, Jay Novacek, but the thing that truly made the team dominant was unquestionably the offensive line. I could look up the names of the linemen on Google, but to be honest I can’t name one off the top of my head. If you want names, I will let you find them on your own. Not knowing their names is really what provoked this thought to begin with.

Now imagine that you could juxtapose a football team into an office setting. No, not like the Terry Tate Reebok Commercial. You would have your stars, whose names you knew by heart, and you would have your linemen – the unsung heros. The stars would likely fill roles like CEO, VP, the Top Sales Personnel, the CMO, the CFO etc… They would drive the flashy cars, do the interviews with Business Week and Time, and enjoy all the spoils of victory. While the linemen would handle the less glamourous things like customer service, administration, and infrastructure support. It is the linemen that truly put people like Troy Aikman and Emmit Smith in the hall of fame. Don’t get me wrong. Troy and Emmit are incredible, but there are many incredible individuals in the NFL. It is a team effort, and to be great takes a dominant O Line to successfully execute each and every play. In an office, the linemen play a big part in delivering value to the customer- silently executing play after play without any of the accolades or the warm glow of the limelight.

As companies continue to downsize, and rightsize, and offshore, and outsource, I ask…Are they in danger of cutting that which truly makes them special, the O Line, while still expecting to make it to the hall of fame? Now, if NFL teams were traded like stocks, the superbowl champ would rarely, if ever, have the highest stock price. People would talk about the great profitablity and lean operations of the 1990’s Bengals, not the exuberance, extravagance, and domination of the Cowboys. Success depends largely on how you define it. Without question, every team needs to make regular changes to remain competitive. You have to keep the best players, and you can only have so many on the team. Still, as you look to raise that stock price yet another dollar by slashing yet another group of jobs, remember the importance that having a great O Line makes. Remember the impact of the unsung heroes. They don’t always make the highlight reels and rarely show up as assets on a balance sheet. but they make great players hall of famers. They create legends. Their impact is far flung and resonates endlessly-randomly deciding to mainfest itself in the groggy, oxygen-starved mind of a novice jogger and amateur blogger like me.

Oh, and if you think you might fit into the role of quarterback, it might serve you well to treat your O Line to some gold watches, or a steak dinner or at least some Starbucks.

I know it sounds stupid, but…

SilverwareAlright, I realize this post will cement my place in the loser hall of fame, but here goes anyway. I am writing to tell you about a technique you can use to make unloading the dishwasher easier. Face it, it ain’t that hard to begin with, but I am one of those continuous improvement dorks you hear about. Wait, you really never do hear about continuous improvement dorks do you?  Well it is as simple as this. Sort the silverware on the way into the dishwahser. All the spoons go into a spoon bin. All the forks in a fork bin. You get the idea. How the hell does this save any time you ask? Well I could go into a lengthy explanation about Goldratt’s constraint theory and how you are elevating the constraint to an earlier portion of the process, but I will spare you. It works because it takes less time to group the silverware together on the way into the dishwasher than it does on the way out. Once you have your place-holder utinsel (the first one) marking the little bin, it takes no longer to put the dirty silver in the dishwasher. When you open that Kenmore fresh after the next wash, you can simply grab all the spoons and put them in the spoon bin in your silverware droor. Knives, forks, misc and done. No more sorting scalding hot stainless steel as now you have neat batches of clean utensils which you can quickly transfer to their proper resting place. I told you this was dorky. Still if you are in search of maximum efficiency in all you do, give it a shot.

I must get out more often…

Run Like Hell, Walk Like Hell…repeat

RunningFor whatever silly reason, I have decided that I need to improve my cardiovascular fitness. Thus I am embarking on a program of running that I came across on the wonderful site lifehack.org, not to be confused with the equally wonderful lifehacker.com. The program is simple, and involves 30 minutes of walking / jogging a day. In the begining it is weighted much more toward the walking and over the course of 10 weeks evolves into a complete half hour of running. The article is full of other great tips, and is worth reading if you are thinking of getting into better shape. Below is the schedule of walking / running. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you don’t hear from me for a while, assume it did not go so well and come looking for me.

  • 1R , 4W x 6 times. Week 1
  • 1R , 3W x 7 times. Week 2
  • 2R, 3W x 6 times. Week 3
  • 2R, 2W x 7 times. Week 4
  • 3R, 3W x 5 times. Week 5
  • 3R, 2W x 6 times. Week 6
  • 3R, 1W x 7 times. Week 7
  • 4R, 2W x 5 times. Week 8
  • 4R, 1W x 6 times. Week 9
  • FULL Running for 30 minutes.

R = Run, W = Walk,

Total Time = 30 minutes per day

Sorry, No icon for passout?

As always check with your doctor, your wife, your minister your magic 8 ball, and your psychic friends before embarking on a program of rigorous exercise.

Running for Beginners – lifehack.org

Small is the New Big on Squidoo

SquidooSmall is the New BigNext month Seth Godin’s new book Small is the New Big will be released. It is a collection of great blog posts, excerpts from magazine articles, and other assorted gems penned by Mr. Godin. I am looking forward to reading it, (again). I have already read most of the content by following Seth’s blog, where he is kind enough to dole out wisdom daily. Still, there is something nice about having things bound and in print. As a matter of fact, I recently read somewhere that packaging is important. I am sure this will sell huge (or should I say it will sell Small?). Knowing what is inside, I can recommend it with complete confidence. Seth has launched a Squidoo lens to promote the book. It has some excerpts from the book, great links, a poll, and more. Give it a look-see.  While you are there, check out mine too.
Small is the New Big on Squidoo

How to Save Gas Money & Improve Your Commute

CarpoolCarpooling. Yes that is a ridiculously obvious answer, but judging by the amount of people I see driving solo every day, it may be worth stating the obvious. Below I share my reasons for sharing the wheel.

The Monetary Argument for Carpooling

Finding someone you work with to split driving duties is an easy way to save money on gas and improve your commute. I started carpooling with my friend and co-worker Jason 2 weeks ago and have seen an immediate impact on my gas tank. We work in the same building and live within 5 minutes of each other, so it is fairly convenient for us to trade off riding shotgun. Now I have class one day a week, so we only carpool the remaining 4 days. Still, that cuts nearly 150 miles a week out of my driving, saving me big time at the pump. Before carpooling, I would fill up my car about once per week. At $3.00 per gallon that is about 36 bucks. Shaving off 2 days of commuting allows me to stretch my time between fill-ups to a full 2 weeks, saving me over $70.00 per month. I currently drive a 4 cylinder Honda, and get pretty good gas mileage, but if you are an SUV driver your savings could easily be well over 100 bucks per month. That does not include soft savings of reduced wear and tear and mileage on your vehicle.

The Social / Political Argument for Carpooling

Jason and I work together in the same part of the company, but in much different roles. That means that throughout the day we each accumulate a good deal of knowledge, much of which can be shared. Carpooling provides us both with 30 minutes of discussion time at the beginning and end of every work day. This is great for venting frustrations, generating ideas, sharing news, and avoiding workplace pitfalls. Now, I would be lying if I stated that this time is always filled with talk of work. More often we discuss sports, television, family, music, or the world in general. Guys being guys. As someone who is pretty busy, the time I get to spend just talking with friends is limited. Carpooling has turned my commute from a solitary functional necessity into an enjoyable social opportunity.

The Environmental Argument for Carpooling

Not a big motivator for me personally, but it feels good to know that I am reducing my consumption of fossil fuel, and thus reducing my impact on the environment. Further, it is one less car on a congested highway. Imagine if there were 1/2 as many cars on the road on your way to work tomorrow. Would that improve your commute? It is nice to be able to do something simple that can improve my life and my world.

The Logistics of Carpooling

In theory, Jason and I could find 3 other people to carpool along with us. Then I could probably go a full month between fill-ups, increasing my savings. However, it is important to remember that there are logistical elements to consider. Coordinating the schedules for 2 people is fairly simple. We are either carpooling or we aren’t. It is either my turn today or tomorrow. We leave for work at the same time and head home at the same time, and we live 5 minutes away from each other. In short, it is convenient. Every person you add reduces convenience exponentially, so proceed with caution. Still, if you can pull it off, more power to you.

Summary

As a typical American, I value my independence. Driving to work solo definately provides greater freedom of movement, but at a cost. For me, at least with gas at $3.00 per gallon and rising, the cost of carpooling is far outweighed by the benefits.

What would it take to get you to carpool?