I was reminded today of the peculiarly clever way that grief occurs over time. I was watching a documentary on Teddy Kennedy yesterday and was struck by the depth of feeling I had to his words at his mother’s funeral. He spoke about how she would be greeted by all the other family members who had gone on before, and I felt that profound grief for every loss that I’ve experienced in my life.

The greatest (and most recent) of these for me was my dog and companion Bo. I lost him a couple years back after 14 years of loving companionship. I grieved as deeply and profoundly as I ever have for him, but from the very beginning, I noticed that the grief came in waves.

At times there are the pleasant memories, then some consolation from kind words about how dogs wait for us in the after life. Other times, there were simple pleasant memories of times with him, things he did to amuse and warm the heart. And sometimes there was the pain of the fading recollection of what he looked like, or how his fur felt under my hand.

But always the relief and sadness taking turns, with each stretch of sadness being more manageable and more level with the good memories.

My belief about this is that we had to develop this way in order to survive. If we simply grieved until we were done being sad, we wouldn’t be able to do anything for months. If we “cried a river“, we’d die of dehydration or starvation. Our minds give us the reprieve from the grief so we can deal with the business of living, and to allow us to continue to connect with the world.

For me, also faith helps in this, since it gives us a way to view death as a transition rather than something final. Feeling that there will be a time to see your loved ones again, takes away the sting at times (although that comfort doesn’t seem to be available at other times, when your heart feels as if there is no point and faith has no power).

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I think a lot about how negative thinking affects the world, even more so recently with all of the depressing news reports.

Take the example of a financial advisor telling people to cut back on their weekly coffee in order to put more money into their savings as a hedge against hard times. A well intentioned attempt to educate people on being fiscally responsible.

But there’s no thought to the down side of this act: When everybody stops going to their local coffee place, the coffee place goes out of business, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and gloom. What if instead that report recommended you go meet a friend at that same coffee shop? The coffee shop stays in business, and people are socializing, networking and creating new opportunities that definitely will not be discovered by staying home.

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I recently ran across a post by Michelle Hancock on LinkedIn and noticed that she had her email address showing right below her name. I sent her a LinkedIn message asking her how she did that, and she kindly replied that I could call her and she’d walk me through the process.

As it turns out, all she did was to append the email address to the end of the field for her last name.

So here’s the walk through:

  1. Go to your LinkedIn profile. You get there by clicking on the “profile” link on the right hand side from LinkedIn
    Step 1
  2. You should see your profile as it exists now and some links to edit, choose the one next to your name.
    profile selected
  3. You’ll be prompted to log in again (I think they do this for security reasons).
    login screen
  4. Once you get the edit form, tab to the last name.
    update form
  5. Go to the end of your last name, add a space or two, and then type your email address (or phone or whatever other info you want to show up there).
  6. Click save, and your new profile will display with the additional info attached
    profile selected

The down side to this is the same as the up side: now everybody has your email address, so if you’re worried about SPAM bots, you may want to put a space in there, or type it out as “me AT mydomain.com”.

And that’s all there is to it – now you have your email address where anybody can find it.

Note: Walt Feigenson tells me that this may be against the LinkedIn Terms and Conditions, and that you should only put the email in your profile. I haven’t verified this yet, but when I do I will update this post again with my findings.

I took the day off and spent it at my father-in-law’s house, watching all the excitement in Washington D.C.

I was still thinking about how emotional I felt watching Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the drive over the bridge. My wife hadn’t been there when King’s speech aired, so I pulled it up (iPhone is amazing) and read it to her as she was driving. Reading the text aloud, once more underlined for me the power of the words. There were times that I had to pause in order to get the words out because I was so choked up.

I was once again taken by the fact that Dr. King could be so optimistic with all the rage and oppression surrounding him. Listening to our new President speak, I could clearly hear the determined optimism in his voice and words. I was swept up by the historic moment, and excited about the turning away from the culture of fear toward one of hope.

It is far too easy to look at all of the problems of the world, listen to the news, and give in to the fear of all things that could happen. Terrorists around every corner, economy collapsing, no work anywhere, global warming, and the USA on the verge of collapse. But for me, every problem appears more as something to be solved, every challenge is an opportunity for growth that can be solved by working together.

The words of Barack Hussein Obama II in his inaguaral address are filled with that, and I’m excited by the way he is using the bully pulpit already to rally us to service. This is a seminal event: the promise made to every small child, that they can work hard and grow to become President of the United States has moved closer to reality. Martin Luther King’s dream of a nation where children will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, is just a little more real.

I was moved in many places by Barack’s speech. Calling us back to the traditions of our founding fathers in continuing the great social experiment that is the United States. When he said that America was ready to lead, I just wanted to hear him say “follow me”.

When he spoke to the troubled nations of the world, challenging the despots, offering “that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”, I was again deeply moved. By speaking to our part in the world, that we could not be apart from it, he seemed to me to be reminding us that service goes beyond our nation. We can’t retreat inside our borders, nor follow some crusade to get every nation to be like ours.

At the end of the day, Barack and Michelle Obama crossed the threshold of the White House, across steps that were built by slaves, to lead our country in it’s ever progressing quest toward protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Today is Martin Luther King Day. One day before the biggest inauguration since George Washington, and only 46 years since the famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Unlike Steve Martin, I was not born a poor black child. I was however very lucky to be raised without the iron of racial hatred and prejudice that so many people have to overcome thanks in part to being raised in parts of middle America where discrimination was more hidden, and also thanks to having parents who understood that this hatred was wrong.

Perhaps because of how I grew up, I had a leg up on not developing predjudices. I know that anthropologically we generalize things: it’s a survival trait from before we even had civilizations. When you see a bear attack somebody, you generalize that all bears are dangerous.

So for me, living in the comfort of middle America, my generalizations likely came from being exposed to people who were also enlightened middle class people. My experiences with people my parents socialized with were always generally positive, which probably means I generalized all people that way. I think this is one of the more insidious aspects of prejudice is that people will respond to the way they are treated. Somebody raised to think that a certain race is not to be trusted, will look for things to support that idea, and subconsciously encourage that behavior.

When we first moved to Wrangell (a small town and island in the south eastern portion of Alaska), I think I had my first real exposure to the shame of America. One of my friends at school was a native American (he was of the Tlinget tribe). When we went from one grade to the next (can’t remember exactly which grade), they told us that all of our “Indian” friends would be sent to the Indian school.

It was confusing and disturbing, and I couldn’t understand why it was happening.  All I knew was there was some arbitrary rule that said if you’re part of this tribe, you can’t go to the same school with the other kids.

I lived in Alaska from the time I was in third grade until I was in sixth grade (1967 until 1970) when my Dad got a job for (the now infamous) Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. We made the trek across Canada on the Candian National Railway, down the coast to Washington, D.C. and  to our new home in Alexandria Virginia (pronounced Vuh-gin-yuh after you’ve lived there).

When we got to Washington D.C., we wanted to drive through and see the capitol and all the sites. I remember it was evening, and we drove into the city, but at some point we came to some barricades. We were told it wasn’t safe to go into the city and were turned around to go out of the city.  Later we watched the news to hear that there were “race riots” going on (I’m thinking now that it must have been related to the Jackson State killings).

We moved to Alexandria, Va. which was for the most part a suburb of the seats of power. You could take a bus to Washington D.C. (which I think my Dad did every day) and it was about as lily white a place as I had ever lived. I was in junior high by now, and the middle school I went to did not have a diverse population (out of a couple hundred kids, there were two black kids, one indigenous American). Most of the kids at this school were from fairly affluent families, and from what I could see there wasn’t any obvious prejudice there.

As I finished with middle school, and was preparing for high school, some of my friends started talking about how the “bad” kids would be getting bussed to the high school next year. I didn’t know why, or who these “bad” kids might be, but I was a little worried.

The first day of school arrived, and to my horror and surprise, I saw first hand who the “bad” kids really were. I saw kids from my old school, yelling and throwing things at the buses that were arriving. The high school was one of the first to integrate, and the so called “bad” kids they had been talking about, were the black kids from the ghetto. I was horrified to learn that my friends had been afraid of these kids because of the color of their skin.

This was a culture shock: I went from a middle school that was 100% upper middle class, to a high school that was suddenly 70% low income kids. Here were kids who thought that getting a job as a garbage man was the equivalent of being President. I was from a background where a college education was assumed to be part of the plan, they were from a place where staying in school was something you had to do, and only until you could find a job. There were language differences too: the first time somebody asked me to borrow a “prunsel”, I had no idea what it was (they were asking for a pencil).

So today, on the eve of the amazing accomplishment of the inauguration of Barack Obama, I am truly grateful (and impatient) for the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke so eloquently about. It’s still a dream, but with our first non-white president, we have a little more proof that all things are possible.

Can we realize the dream (and overcome the insidious nature of hateful prejudice) ?

Yes we can !

This Saturday, Joel Deceuster presented his 7 strategies for planning your career. Joel created these seven focusing strategies as something he’s learned in his business. You can learn more about Joel and his work at http://www.focusyourbusinessnow.com/

Listening to Joel talk about these strategies, I was struck by how similar the first strategy was to the steps in a 12-step program. The 12 steps are a process for going from a spiritually bankrupt position to an action plan that ultimately works by spurring the hopeless addict to a place where they can find the promise of a better life. By following these 12 steps, the goal of “the promises” is achieved, and addiction (and hopelessness) is left behind.

Joel’s approach starts with becoming accountable (the first strategy).

#1-Focus your commitment to be 100% accountable for your career.

  • Follow the steps to accountability
    • See it (admit / recognize the problem) – In a 12-step program, the first step is admitting that we have a problem.
    • Own it (know it is your problem, and remove denial)  – We realize that what we’ve been doing before isn’t working, and that we need help (steps two and three)
    • Solve it (plan) – We take inventory of our wrongs, and make a list of what we need to do to correct them, and share that with somebody else (steps four through eight)
    • Do it (take action) – We make amends, and take action on a daily basis to correct our mistakes (steps nine and ten)
    • Don’t play the blame game (be responsible for your own career) – In the recovery programs, they often preach about being responsible
  • Find and accountability buddy – Joel recommends finding an accountability buddy.

This is somebody to whom you can keep track of your progress (very similar to a sponsor in the 12-step programs) as you progress through your plan (work the steps).

In a 12-step program, you need a sponsor once you get past the first three steps, which also seems to work for Joel’s list above.So for me, his first strategy is a way out of the doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (the definition of insanity).

His next strategy is to focus your goal. This is to overcome the lack of planning we put into our job search, which is also the point of the 12 steps: focus the effort on achievable goals by breaking things down into manageable pieces.

#2-Focus your primary objective to envision your ideal job.

  • Visualize your ideal job
    • One year from today …?
    • Discover your unique ability
  • If you can see it, you can acheive it- Joel suggests reading this book immediately if not sooner.
  • Transform your limiting beliefs that hold you back
    • They’re stories not truth

#3-Focus your employment strategies to direct your search.

  • The Goal Implementer Process
    • Obstacles inspire solutions – In the twelve steps, we take inventory of all of our wrongs, and plan to make amends.
    • Milestones – Setting milestones helps you to recognize progress.
  • The Core Employment Strategies
    • Assessment; What’s working, not working? – In the twelve step process, we continue to take inventory which helps us find out what is working and what is not.
  • Prioritize your strategies
    • Create a one page employment plan
    • Vision/mission/goals/strategies/action plans

#4-Focus your actions to optimize your efforts and resources.

  • Create prioritized action plans
  • Always know what’s next

#5-Focus your week to make it powerfully productive.

  • Use planning tools
  • Weekly planning ALWAYS
    • 3 crucial results (what do you want to feel by the end of the week)
    • Top 20 phone calls/connections (identify 20 people who can help you get to your goal)
    • Top 10 Strategic projects

#6-Focus on measuring your progress to stay on plan.

  • Daily dials (success indicators)
  • 3 Personal guidelines – rules for yourself, lessons learned ( e.g. – stay networked) around biggest disappointments
  • Positive focus

#7-Focus your energy to demonstrate your best you.

  • Physical fitness
  • Spiritual development – the twelve step programs are all about spirituality, and the process is really focused on achieving a spiritual awakening to guide us toward our true purpose.
  • Mental growth
  • Social engagement
  • Financial stability

When I was a little boy, I used to love to fly those balsa wood airplanes.You know, the ones that came in a flat bag, with thin sheets of balsa wood, a nose weight, a plastic propellor and a really big rubber band that you bought at the local grocery store.

They usually had red ink on one side that had USAF markings and a little picture of a pilot in the cockpit. You had to be careful putting them together, or the paper-thin wings or tail would break, and it would never fly right.

There was a park near where we lived in Alaska that was on a little hill above the ocean. I was flying planes there one day, and trying to see how far I could make them go. How far could I wind up the propellor before the rubber band broke? Would it fly straight, or crash and break in a million pieces? How much power could the rubber band give me anyway?

I was getting discouraged with fighting the wind, and ready to go home. All day I’d been throwing the planes only to watch them nosedive, or go nowhere as they bucked the wind, no matter how hard I wound the rubber band.

One last time, I wound the propellor a few extra times, and threw the plane down the hill toward the ocean. I watched in amazement as the wind caught the plane lifting it far higher than I could ever have thrown it.It flew out across the park, and over the sea.

It kept flying until I couldn’t see it any more, looking like somebody had actually filled the gas tank and taken it on a trip across the sea. It was still flying when I lost sight of it.

There are so many amazing things that can happen when we simply get out of the way and let the wind pick us up. All I had to do was put together the plane, wind the rubber band, and the wind took care of the rest.

By doing what we can do, being conscious and prepared, we can be ready for the greater gifts as they are presented.

Back in the summer of 2007, I was riding my bike every day from John Muir Health to my home in Livermore. I am a fairly cautious rider, so I would take the the Iron Horse Trail to keep my interaction with automobiles limited to cross walks as much as possible.

One day (June 18th, 2007), I was riding home, and I got hit in a crosswalk crossing with the green light. I had stopped at the signal, pressed the button and waited for the light to change. Right after the light changed, as I pushed into the crosswalk, I noticed a guy who was making a U-turn just down the street. He looked like he was in a hurry, maybe he was lost, and I was a bit worried about him, but I figured I had a red light in my favor. Well, by the time I got about halfway into the lane, I saw that he was accelerating directly toward me. I jumped hard on my pedals, hoping to get out of the way before his SUV swallowed me under his tires.

I remember looking at the front of this huge car bearing down on me, thinking “I’m going to be killed”. I pedaled as hard as I could, and succeeded in getting my body out from in front of him (and actually most of the bike), but didn’t quite get all the way out and he hit my rear rack. I spun around felt something tweak, and slapped my hands on the pavement. I was about 10 ft outside the cross walk, and my bag was another 10-15 ft out.
Before he hit me I kept wondering “how many stitches is this going to be” (well at least after I stopped wondering “Am I going to die today?”).  I don’t know how fast you can get going in 90-100ft, but whatever it is it seemed like he was flying when it hit.

After he hit me, he started yelling at me saying “you came out of nowhere” and “you must have been flying”, at which point I started yelling back and pointing at the not yet flashing crosswalk sign to let him know I had the green, and made sure he knew that he must have run a red light.
A few seconds later an ambulance pulls up, and paramedics start looking at me (they just happened by – saw me yelling at the guy). They iced my wrist (which at this point I thought was my only injury), and urged me to go to the hospital. Then a couple of motorcycle cops pulled up (one left right away to chase a bank robber – really, somebody was robbing a bank in Danville), he took some info, and then interviewed the guy who hit me.  I went to the ER, and by the time they took Xrays and I saw the doctor, everything was starting to tighten up. Overall, I was lucky, and all I ended up with was some minor scrapes, a totaled bike, and some bruised ribs.

Now the interesting part about this accident to me was that I was now out a bike, and from what the cop said, it was likely that it would be a case of my word vs. the guy who hit me. I thought that I’d at least try to prove that I had stopped at the cross-walk, and since I always have my Garmin GPS running when I’m riding, I was able to do so.

Taking the data from my GPS, I was able to detail out exactly the time I got to the intersection, and send the following note to the investigating officer:

Thanks for stopping and doing the report on my accident. I feel very fortunate to have escaped with such minor injuries.

If you have the information on the guy who hit me (contact info, insurance) that would be helpful.

I apparently cracked (or bruised) my rib cage with my elbow during the impact. I think I showed you the damage to my bike at the hospital.

I wanted to pass along information that I have from my GPS (I have a Garmin Edge 305 that I use to track my workout with), which may be of interest to you.

I imported the data into Google Earth, and as you can see it shows the location of the accident and my bike ride. It appears that the image is shifted a bit to the south, but it’s within a few feet, and give the general route I took.

Google Earth of my bike ride

Here’s the timeline I got from my GPS:

4:24pm – Stopped at signal button at north side of cross walk in trail.
4:25pm – Started into street. Before starting to move I observed the car making the u-turn. Looked like he was slowing and going to stop.
Signal has a countdown from 25 seconds, so I still had plenty of time to cross.
Observed the car accelerating and realized he wasn’t going to stop (by this time I was out of the shade in the second lane)
Tried to avoid the car, and almost got out of the way – he was going pretty fast by that time (however fast you can go in the 80 feet or so from where he turned around).
Bike spun and I went forward about 10 feet.
He pulled over, and started yelling at me about my “coming from nowhere” and “moving fast” (fastest speed the GPS clocked me at was 3mph).
I yelled back and pointed to the crosswalk signal, which was still flashing (although I think the countdown was gone by that time).

Below is the same data in the Garmin software, showing my heart rate. The blue dot is where I was on the map, which corresponds to the line on the graph which is where my heart rate was the lowest. The next dot south of that is where I got hit (which corresponds to the huge spike in my heart rate with a small bump in speed).

Before getting hit

The next shot is after I got hit – approximately a minute after I stopped at the light.

After accident

I did go back to the scene of the accident, and found that as a driver, that intersection is less than obvious (it’s a cross walk in the middle of a very busy street). At the time of day that he hit me, the sun would have been directly behind the stop light, and he wouldn’t have been able to see me in the shade waiting for the light to change, so I understand much better why he ran the light (of course the beer he admitted to having probably didn’t help either). It really seems like they need a bridge or a tunnel at streets like that: it’s just way too easy to miss a stop light that is not placed at an intersection with another street (although I supposed it might be possible to architect this sort of crossing to look more like a normal intersection in order to trigger that recognition).

Eventually with this evidence (along with the fact that the guy that hit me had lied about having insurance), the cop ruled that the accident was not my fault, and I was able to get my bike replaced using the uninsured motorist portion of my policy (which I now know covers me for accidents where I’m not actually driving a car). Now, this never went to court, but I think had it done so, the GPS evidence would be pretty compelling (especially since it shows I stopped long enough for my heart rate to drop off, and there are data points for every second of the ride).

Recently I’ve been noticing that ad content is being served up much more dynamically than I’d expect. When I’m looking at the menu on TiVO, or surfing Facebook, there are always little ads displayed that don’t immediately catch my attention. In fact most of the time, the ad doesn’t even register until I’ve clicked something and am waiting for the next page to load.

So, as the page disappears, I notice that the ad is something I’m interested in. On some sites, I can simply hit the back button and the ad will still be there, but on a lot of others (Facebook for example), the ad gets replaced with something else. So now instead of the “Virtual Cycling” ad that piqued my attention, I see an ad for Phoenix University.

It always seemed to me that if I hit the back button, I should see exactly the same page that was just displayed, since after all the browser just rendered it, so shouldn’t it be able to just redisplay the previous rendering? The problem is that the actual way pages are rendered causes this. The ads are actually links that point to dynamic content, so when the page rerenders, the content is rendered again, which in the case of Facebook means I lose my ad.

Seems to me that they could take advantage of the session to understand that I’ve just hit the back button, and redisplay the same ads again, just in case that’s why I hit it. The current approach is losing click-through revenue for Facebook (at least from me for my “Virtual Cycling” example).

TiVO has something similar: they display little ads in the menu system. One liners like “sign up for a Visa” or “see Lost previews”. The same thing happens there, by the time I realize the line said something interesting, I’m on to the next screen. Luckily with TiVO, these choices actually cycle, so all I have to do is go back and forth a few times to see all of the current ad lines, so eventually I can get back to the one that piqued my interest.

American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual
American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a boy, we lived in south eastern Alaska in the small chain of islands north of Ketchikan, first on the island of Wrangell, then the island of Petersburg.

This was one of the most amazing places to be as a boy, the perfect place to learn about nature, and beauty.In Petersburg, we lived a couple miles out of town along this road that ran to the other end of the island, in this house that sat on stilts hanging over a cliff that looked out on the strait (almost all the islands there are so close together that if the water wasn’t 35 degrees you could swim to the next one).

The house was nestled in the pine trees, and always looked like one of those postcards of a green forest with wisps of fog floating around the trees. It rained constantly, which was incredibly fun for us, since we got to play in the mud every day. We could always spot the tourists because they would be the ones trying to walk around the mud puddles.

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