TC Zombie Run

Updated post on November 15, 2009: The TC Zombie Run was a great experience for me. Despite the rain and chill, there appeared to be a great turnout of zombies and humans alike.

I remember being thrilled about the event upon my sister texting me about it. Looking back, it is another one of the many new and exciting events in Traverse City. Having the starting line in the Warehouse District was a good idea, as it’s not the easiest place to find and the exposure was good for the many wonderful businesses there.

The race website offered t-shirts to early registrants, which is was both a great incentive to sign-up early and good advertising year round. I procrastinated and missed out, but will be on top of it next year!

I’d like to thank organizers, volunteers and sponsors for putting on the race. The comment below brought to my attention that the race raised $8,000.00 for the TART trails, which is awesome!

I will be back next year and I’ll bring with me as many other zombies and humans as I can.

Personal Betterment Metrics

Do you, in all active and passive decisions and actions, seek to better yourself? Probably not, and neither do I, but it is interesting to think about trying to seek to improve our individual existence and that of our surrounding world with each action and decision we make.

I do strive to better myself over the long run. I work out most days, but not everyday. I eat well sometimes, but not every meal. I undertake challenging tasks like building my own website, learning more about photography, or working on being a more empathetic human being. I’ve just recently finished going to school, but plan on learning my entire life. (How can you not?) I read books, articles, and blog posts about interesting things.

When you look at the big picture, I do a lot of things at different times that make me feel as though I am improving, but there is no defined strategy and I have no reliable way of measuring my progress.

I’m not sure what to think about this thought other than what I’ve found most rewarding is moderation and balance. I’m not sure that approach will make me the most successful, but it often leaves me happiest and is the most sustainable in the long run. With a little patience, grand things can be accomplished over time.

What is your approach? Goals? Don’t care? Too busy to worry about it?

What Are We If Not Potential?

Pop!Tech is a:

unique innovation network – a global community of cutting-edge leaders, thinkers, and doers from many different disciplines, who come together to explore the social impact of new technologies, the forces of change shaping our future, and new approaches to solving the world’s most significant challenges. We are known for our thriving community of thought-leaders, breakthrough innovation programs, visionary annual conferences and deep media and storytelling capabilities.

I attended the conference in 2004 when I worked for Ruckus. I vividly remember the trip north from Washington D.C. – arriving in Portland, Maine on a JetBlue flight – driving up the coast to Camden, Maine where Pop!Tech takes place – the classic coastal views of water crashing against the rocky shore – beautiful leaves full of red, orange and yellow – the Talking Heads blasting on my car radio. By the time I arrived in cozy Camden, I was on an emotional high like none other I’d experienced before and had no idea how transforming the next few days would be.

The conference astonished me. I couldn’t believe how many ideas, things and experiences there were beyond those I held personally. I tried to capture as much of the conference as possible by furiously taking notes and recording the conference on my iPod. (I didn’t know that it would later be available online and they had yet to start showing it live or post videos – now they do both.)

I quickly realized that there was no way that I could process all of the information being presented, and didn’t, and still haven’t! I’ve still got the notes and look at them from time to time. I’ve kept up online since, but the experience isn’t the same as when you’re sitting in the Camden Opera House elbow to elbow with a bunch of geeks, entrepreneurs, artists, and thinkers. There is an atmosphere to it – an atmosphere that I’ve found present few other places – Sundance to a degree, the Traverse City Film Festival, and a handful of undergrad and law school lectures.

For all of the schooling I’ve been through at the University of Michigan and the Franklin Pierce Law Center, I look back and must say that I am underwhelmed by both of the experiences. There are a scant few professors, classes, and individual lectures that moved me the way Pop!Tech did/does. There is a difference – conferences have exciting presenters and powerful streamlined flashy ideas. I don’t care. At the end, higher education should be as powerful as a good conference presentation. Students should leave each semester with an excitement and hunger for more information.

If I were to travel back, knowing what I now know, I would do only two things differently. First, I would major in English instead of Economics. I thought I would make more money majoring in Economics. Whether that was true or not, I now view it a foolish. I should have followed my heart and my talents, which both fell firmly in the English Department. Second, I would worry more about the courses that captivated me than those that fulfilled some predetermined study path – e.g., concentrating on financial economics, etc. I closed a lot of doors before I looked through them.

As I walk through life meeting new people, moving to new places, and attempting new challenges, I am slowly coming to the realization that doing is living – that if I don’t open my mouth or take the first step or make a decision then the world will continue and I will stay. I think back to Pop!Tech 2004 when I say that because although I took in a lot of information at that conference and it exposed me to many new things, I didn’t stick out my hand and introduce myself, I didn’t realize how much I had to give, and I still feel as though I’m hoarding my experience and knowledge. It bring me to tears, as I write this, to think about what I could do and what I have done and I feel as though I’ve let the world down. I realize that’s a very narcissistic thing to say, but the feeling of great personal potential is something I’ve come to believe is integral to being human. What are we if not potential? There is a bigger message here than me feeling a responsibility to make this world better – it is that we should all be doing our part everyday to make this world a better place to live in now and in the future.

With all of that said, I’ve been watching a good deal of the 2009 Pop!Tech conference via their live stream. I like the theme this year – America Reimagined. It places the focus on home, while showing what we can do to make a better world. I am personally setting goals for the coming year that will change the feeling of lost potential and make the world a better place for all of us.

Trail Building and Trailblazing at the CRNA

There is a new park along M-37 (Center Road) called the Center Road Natural Area. Part of the park is cleared orchards, which are connected by grassed-over two-track roads. The more exciting parts, however, are the new single track trails that have been added and blazed.

View Larger Map

Today, thanks to Jason and Paula, I learned the difference between trail building and trailblazing. Jason explained trail building in a few definite steps, which I’ll detail below. Paula shared more about trailblazing that I could ever have imagined existed. I expected trailblazing to be a vicious attack on nature, but instead it is the act of painting six inch by two inch stripes of purple paint on trees along the trail to guide hikers. I’ll note some tips below.

Trail Building

When you’re building a trail, you’re either on the side of a hill or you’re not. If you’re not, then the trail building is significantly easier. You simply clear a path with you tool, remove roots, stumps and rocks and then pack the trail. With wear, it should become defined enough to be identifiable by hikers. If not, that’s where trailblazing comes in!

There is more of a technique to trail building when walking along the side of a hill where the ground is higher on one side and lower on the other. The best way to describe this process is to present it in 5 steps.

  1. Rake the leaves, needles, and loose organic soil up the hill.
  2. Dig into the hill and drag the dirt down the hill. “Broadcast” (as Jason says) the dirt away from the trail and down the hill.
  3. Drag your tool along the path of the trail from the higher point to the lower point. There should be a curb on the higher side that gives way to an 18-24″ path that slopes slightly downhill. Like this: \____
  4. Pack the curb. Pack the trail.
  5. Brush the debris that was raked uphill back over the trail to allow for a more natural look.

Follow Jason’s tips, keep your space and communicate and the trail practically builds itself! Not really. It’s hard work, but the time passes quickly.


It was nice to learn what trailblazing actually was. I have a good appreciation for it because, having hiked many trails, I am aware of how easy it is to get lost if the “blazes” (aka – confidence markers) are not readily identifiable. If you are not a confident outdoors-man, then the sense of confusion and fear of being lost can ruin an otherwise enjoyable hike.

When trailblazing, keep these tips in mind.

  • Blazes should be a bright color and uniform in shape and size.
  • It is ideal to place the blazes at six feet in height to prevent snow cover.
  • Hikers should be able to identify the next blaze while standing at the current blaze.
  • It may be necessary to trailblaze in both directions.

There was a lot more that was mentioned, but that’s the gist of it. The bottom line is that you don’t want to mislead hikers or allow them to mislead themselves. Common sense applies here!

It was a great experience and it was nice to meet a few people passionate about the park and the environment. I’ll be back out there again soon building and blazing away.

Late at Night at Home #1 and #2

Two months ago, I wrote a post about what it is like late at night at home. For some reason, which I cannot explain or justify, I deleted the post. I remember that it involved dealing with the two dogs – the husky and the labradoodle – while making banana bread.

Tonight, I watched and listened to the labradoodle sleep on the uncomfortable for humans but very comfortable for dogs green chair in the living room. She must have been dreaming because she whimpered and shook from time to time. It worried me, but then she’d open her eyes a bit and stare at me. I roused her and put her out. After, I found myself tiptoeing around on the hardwood floors as if not to wake her (She usually sleeps in the basement). I had forgotten that she was standing at the top of the stairs waiting for me to take her down.

That’s two late nights at home, and it may become an irregular series.

Building a Cabin: Part 1

I am in the exploratory stage of wanting to build a cabin. The idea of building a cabin is new, but the idea of owning or living in a cabin is not. They have always appealed to me as a way to get away from the highly stylized facets of modern life.

I enjoy the out-of-doors, camping, and hiking. At some point while I was working at Ruckus, I discovered old fire lookout towers that were converted to sleeping units for hikers. Staying in one is something I hope to do someday. (Most are located out West.) I also have memories of fishing with my dad and friends at a lake in Canada. We flew in on a seaplane and were dropped off at a cabin, which was the only one on the lake. The setting of being away from everything was something I wouldn’t appreciate until many years later. What I am trying to say is that when I think of owning a cabin I am thinking of a unique experience that gives me room to breath. Building it myself would be that much better.

The cabin doesn’t have to be much. I won’t mind if it doesn’t have water or electricity. I don’t need those things. I will need an outhouse and I would like a simple table with red chairs, a sleeping loft, a porch, and a green roof.

I’m currently researching how to build the cabin, what it will cost, and open lots on which I can build. If you have any experience or pictures of cabins you find appealing, I would love to hear from you.

Dear Grandchildren

Mike Lewis inquired in his blog entry, “Things We’ll Say to Our Grand Kids,” (Link) about the things will tell our grandchildren about today that the grandchildren will be unfamiliar with. This was inspired by a Wired magazine article. (Link) Mike and Wired each came up with some good ones.

Here are some that I expect to say:

  • My electric toothbrush used to be the size of a banana.
  • It used to cost a lot of money to travel into outer space.
  • Things used to wear out before nanotechnology.
  • We all used to drive individual cars.
  • The weather wasn’t always completely under our control.
  • Sports leagues weren’t always international, but were merely national.
  • There used to be farmers in America.
  • Batters only lasted a few hours before needing to be recharged.
  • Gay marriage was only permitted in three states in 2009.
  • Kids used to have to go to a physical school, not just join in online.
  • I used to buy text books, not just download them to my tablet multiple use device.
  • In my day, health care wasn’t what it is today.
  • We used to regularly replace light bulbs.
  • There were only two main political parties when I started voting.
  • Not many people recycled when I was growing up.
  • There was much less green space than there is now.
  • There used to be these things called traffic jams.
  • My boss used to make me go to the office.
  • I used to only work for one company at a time.
  • There were only 50 states when I was younger.
  • I’m not sure I like these new smell televisions.

Here are some that I hope to say:

  • There used to be (such-and-such) disease.
  • We cured global warming by…
  • There used to be wars in which humans fought each other in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Hunger used to be a problem.
  • Racism? Sexism? You’re not aware of these?
  • We used to cut down trees to make paper.