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]

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]

Go Ahead, Play With Yourself

The July Project: Day 19

I’ve written elsewhere about my exercise rules and about the idea of making a game out of achieving goals.

Scoreboard

I play a lot of games in my exercise routine. I make up arbitrary rules and give myself extra points on an imaginary scoreboard for achievements above and beyond the normal daily routine. I’m not always sure whether these tricks help keep me motivated, or just give my idle mind something to do.

Here’s a rule I made up tonight:

  • Extra points are assessed for walking on a day so humid that you finish the outing dripping wet from head to toe …[MORE]

Make a Game of It, Then Play to Win

The July Project: Day 3

The first time I got serious about exercise, I became a member of the YMCA in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. The Y offered an incentive program for runners. They gave out 6 x 9 index cards on which you could record your miles by inking in a grid of 500 tiny boxes. When you filled the card, you turned it in with $5 and got a downtown ymca 500‑mile club T‑shirt.

I filled up two cards, so I also got a 1,000‑mile club T‑shirt before I left Knoxville. I worked hard for those cheap T‑shirts. Even though the card program relied on the honor system, I scrupulously discounted fractional miles and pushed myself harder every time I neared the end of another row of boxes.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2004 …[MORE]

The T-shirts Were Right All Along

The July Project: Day 2

I see T‑shirts with slogans like “Softball is life,” “Rugby is life,” “Shark-diving is life,” and so on. I used to find them stupid and arrogant. What the heck is that even supposed to mean: softball is life? Obviously, there’s a lot more to life than softball.

Hockey is lifeGotta have it? Go ahead and click. I won’t tell.

Then I found my own exercise passion: walking. It didn’t turn into an obsession overnight, and I never felt compelled to rush out and buy a walking is life T‑shirt. But I got hooked on it.

And over the course of several years, I discovered the wisdom of the T‑shirts …[MORE]

Still More Walking: White Rock Lake

Note: This post is a sequel to Update: Walking Wherever—Within Reason.


White Rock Lake, Dallas, TexasThe first hurdle in the way of my Friday walk was Dallas rush-hour traffic. Less than 24 hours into my trip, and I’d already lost track of what day it was, so I was surprised to find a few million other people on the road when I set out for White Rock Lake. The second impediment was having lost any understanding of Dallas freeways that I’d ever possessed, so I failed to find the spur that appeared to cut across from I-35E to northbound I-45 on the Google map. Then, although southbound I-45 was clearly marked, I drove for miles without finding any signs pointing toward the northbound direction. It’s been my experience that the northbound and southbound parts of an interstate highway usually connect somewhere …[MORE]

Update: Walking Wherever—Within Reason

Note: This post is a sequel to Walking Every Day, Wherever I Find My Feet.


DallasOn my way to Dallas yesterday, I ran into a traffic delay in Spring and another one near Centerville, where I-45 was reduced to one lane for about five miles. It took more than half an hour to crawl through the construction zone. So I didn’t get into town until about 8 p.m., only to discover that in the two months since I made my reservation, I’d somehow confused my hotel (the Marriott Suites Market Center) with another one nearby (the Marriott Residence Inn Market Center). That mistake added another half hour to my already-too-long journey.

Nevertheless, as soon as I finished checking in, I dressed in walking attire and headed up the freeway to Bachman Lake …[MORE]

Walking Every Day, Wherever I Find My Feet

One of the challenges of committing to everyday exercise is figuring out what to do when you’re traveling. Fortunately, my favorite workout—walking—is the most portable form of exercise you can get. You can find somewhere to walk if you go anywhere with solid ground. (I’m told that cruise ships usually have walking tracks, too. Boooooring.)

I enjoy scoping out walking routes when I’m preparing to visit an unfamiliar city—or a familiar city from my pre-exercise‑fanatic days. When I went to Los Angeles for a conference last winter, I identified Griffith Park as a possible walking site. I met a friendly native at the conference who drove up there with me and showed me where to park and where the trail starts. I took wonderful walks there in the afternoons. On one side, I had a view of the pale purple San Gabriel Mountains …[MORE]

Do Something Every Day, Part I: A Walk to the Park

Map to Memorial Park
You can get there from here.

Do something every day. That’s the mantra of my exercise program. I repeat this to people all the time: “If I’m sick, or if I’ve worked an 18‑hour day, or if it’s raining, I put on my shoes and I walk around the block.” Something. Every day. It’s how I satisfy the terms of an imaginary contract that my brain has made with my body.

Today, I found myself without a car. My 10‑year‑old Maxima broke down last night, and this morning, a friend helped me jump‑start it and dump it at the mechanic’s shop. I’ll find out tomorrow what’s wrong and when I can have it back.

Meanwhile, I had to get some exercise. …[MORE]