Hunting and Gathering in the Information Age

The July Project: Number 30

Yeah, I know it’s not July any more. The month ended in a flurry of activity during which I was too busy to complete any posts, so my first job for August is to wrap up July. Bear with me!


Great Rift Valley

A few years ago, I started thinking of my daily walk as a crude analog to the wandering of our African savannah ancestors in pursuit of game and other food stuffs. They probably spent several hours every day chasing after or rooting around for their next meal, and the one after that, and the one after that. There are three grocery stores within a half a mile of where I pitch my tent, so I don’t have to wander in search of food. But evolution optimized my body and my mind for this movement …[MORE]

The Slow and Steady Pace of Progress

The July Project: Day 29

Bouquet of roses

About a year ago, a business development client and good friend said to me, “I love my job, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, my whole life is perfectly on track except for this one thing: I’m fat, and it makes me miserable.’

My answer was, “Well, I guess we know what to work on next.’

She picked a bad time to get me fired up about a new project—the second week of August. She’s not a big fan of Houston summer heat. But she somehow pushed through her reluctance …[MORE]

Birds of a Feather, Part II: Frozen Fanatics

The July Project: Day 28

At the end of last November, in an effort to jump-start a weight-loss regimen that had stalled, I made up my mind to walk twice around the loop at Memorial Park every day for the month of December. November 30 was a Monday, so I started one day early for good measure. The next day, just in time for my “official” December Project kickoff, the weather turned nasty for two solid weeks. December 1, it was raining and 45 degrees by evening. Then a cooling trend set in. By Thursday, there was talk of snow. I woke up Friday morning to moderate flurries …[MORE]

Forget About Months…What Can You Do in Five Days?

The July Project: Day 27

Five, count 'em, five

We’re down to the last five days of the month. I woke up this morning thinking how easy it is to run out of steam right at the end of a project like this, and wondering what extra effort I might need to put forth to get the rest of the way to the goal, which was to give time and attention to this blog every day in July.

I was also thinking about how I’ve struggled for the last couple of months to get rid of the weight I gained …[MORE]

Give It Whatever You’ve Got

The July Project: Day 26

A very late start—delayed by rain, I didn’t get to the park to start my walk tonight until almost 7:30. Afterwards, I made a long-overdue trip to a couple of grocery stores: first Whole Foods for coffee, then to Kroger for everything else on the shopping list. By the time I drove home, cleaned myself up, put the groceries put away, and had a bite to eat, it was nearly midnight.

Instead of trying to write a substantial blog post, I decided to use what energy I had left to look around online for a few more images to decorate the header area of this site. There’s some wonderful free photography out there. I found all of the images below (and many more) at public-domain-image.com:

Cactus flowerOld wall textureCactus nectar bloomJagged leaves

I’ve added about a dozen new images to the collection of photos that are displayed at random in the header. If you visit enough pages of the site—or click the header bar to refresh it enough times—you’ll eventually see them all. Click on any of the thumbnails above to see a larger, uncropped version of the image.

When you don’t have the strength to do a lot, do a little. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, find a way to make progress any way you can.

Learning to Row: A Morning on Oyster Creek

The July Project: Day 25

Oars on water

Today was my first full, on‑the‑water rowing class. As I mentioned a few days ago, a friend (Mark) and I are taking a Learn to Row class offered by a club in Sugar Land, Texas. I was feeling apprehensive in the last few days because my first attempt at taking a few strokes tethered to the dock on Thursday night felt clumsy and awkward. We’d spent some time on machines and listening to the instructor in the classroom, but there was a part of the mechanics that I couldn’t make any sense of …[MORE]

Moments of Pure Joy

The July Project: Day 24

Once in a while, everything comes together to create the perfect walk. There was an afternoon in Los Angeles in January of last year. I’d spent the day in a conference listening to brilliant people talk about their hopes for the future of human progress. I was high on contagious optimism and altruism. One of my new friends offered to show me the way to Griffith Park. I followed her through rush-hour traffic up into the hills, then she showed me where to park and where the running trail started. As I walked and jogged, the sun went down over the hills on one side and the San Gabriel Mountains faded to deep purple on the other. James Taylor sang “That’s Why I’m Here” on my iPod. I break into a grin from ear to ear / and suddenly it’s perfectly clear. It was an ecstatic moment. I’m sure that my feet never touched the ground.

Dappled sunlight through lacy spring leaves

And I recall an early spring day at Memorial Park in some recent year. Dappled sunlight was coming through the deciduous trees, just beginning to fill in with tender yellow-green leaves. The breeze was warm, and I knew it would only be a few weeks until it was too hot to walk at midday. But on this day, the sun felt great on my pasty-white skin. The soundtrack: Indigo Girls, “The Wood Song.” No one gets to miss the storm of what will be …[MORE]

Making It Look Less Easy

The July Project: Number 23

I’m thrilled when people comment on my exercise regimen—or my blog—and say that I’ve inspired them, or that I make it look easy. But I wonder sometimes if “making it look easy” is doing a disservice to people who are working hard on their own projects for self-improvement. So tonight I want to come clean—it ain’t always easy.

I spent an hour last night trying to come up with a blog post. It was the end of a very long week with mountains of work, many hours of writing, two rowing classes, and a workshop to finish preparing …[MORE]

Beginner and Master

The July Project: Day 22

Tomorrow morning I’m teaching a workshop to about a dozen participants. The topic is using new online resources to grow an audience and communicate effectively with it. I know the subject matter reasonably well, and I’m confident that my expertise is at least a little greater than that of my students, so they’ll learn something of value. Even though a lot of the specific details are tools and techniques I’ve only learned recently myself, I know that I can teach with authority because of years of experience with design, communications, marketing, personal computers, and so on.

Sculling

Contrast that self-confident attitude to how I spent my evening: the second Learn to Row class at the Greater Houston Rowing Club. Tonight I climbed on an Ergo rowing machine and worked on stroke technique until my arms were ready to fall off, and then we started playing around with actual boats. We stepped through picking up the “shells” and carrying them from the boathouse to the dock, swinging them down from shoulders to waist to water …[MORE]

Wet Sneakers, or the Moral Equivalent Thereof

The July Project: Day 21

I headed to the park for my walk early today because my first Learn to Row class was tonight. I arrived there around 3:30, the hottest part of the day. I didn’t have to wait long for relief from the heat, though. The sky clouded over, and then about halfway through the first lap, it started to sprinkle. It didn’t rain for very long—maybe about 10 minutes—just enough to get me miserably wet. Then the sun came back out and turned all the fresh rain into a layer of hot steam that hovered over the trail.

It was too humid to dry out from the wetting, but it didn’t matter, because another one was coming anyway. As I got to the last half-mile leg of the 6½‑mile walk, the sky opened up. This time, it was more than a sprinkle. The torrential rain continued until about the time I arrived back at my car …[MORE]