Registered for the 2009 Chicago Marathon »

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It’s official — I registered for the 2009 Chicago Marathon on October 11, 2009. It will be my second marathon. w00t! My plan is to train with the San Francisco Road Runners Club and suggest friends in the Chicago area look into training with the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). Registration for the Chicago Marathon is expected to sell-out soon, so if interested sign-up now!

If you are new to running and are looking for inspiration, check out the Spirit of the Marathon movie (available on Netflix) which follows five individuals training for the event.

Also, good luck to everyone running in the Boston Marathon on April 19 — only ten days away!

Lindy Bombing… »

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“Lindy bombing is the act of a group of swing dancers going to a non-swing dancing venue or location and dancing swing. The purpose of lindy bombing is to expose dancing to other people in an amusing way.” — Wikipedia on Lindy Bombing

How-To: Increase Happiness, Good Times in Life »

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Where does happiness come from? How does one minimize dissatisfaction and create the greatest number of happy moments in life? Last night a friend asked, “Looking back on your life to date, at what points were you the happiest?” A simple enough question, I thought of a list of happy moments, some general time periods in life, some specific events. For me, most included big adventures like moving across the country, starting a new job, completing a first marathon or triathlon, studying music, meditation periods, taking dance lessons, etc. After the conversation I continued to think about the question and my list of things and wondered if there was something common to all of the moments? What about these times made them more satisfying than others? Thinking it through and applying a bit of Zen, the following occurred to me.

It seems that people are happiest when they are either fully committed in “attention” or in “action” in response to the present, and dissatisfaction arises when one sits somewhere in the middle of the two. As such, attention and action can be seen as existing as endpoints on a continuum.

Diagram relating happiness with attention and action.

As an example, dissatisfaction often exists when one simply thinks or talks about problems in a shallow way but doesn’t do anything about them (for example, complaining). Yet, if one is truly skillful in thinking through issues, applying insight and full attention to an issue at hand (i.e. – talking with friends to achieve deeper clarity, meditating on them, etc.) then satisfaction can arise in the midst of this. Furthermore, with insight into a problem, one can shoot past dissatisfaction by transforming insight into committed action.

On the other end of the continuum, happiness in fully committed action (e.g. – “being in the moment”) is easy to observe. When a person is fully engaged in an activity (i.e. – playing a sport, performing music, dancing, etc.) is difficult for them to think or be anywhere other than the present moment. In this sense, it seems attention and action are closely related or can be seen as the same thing, potentially closing the diagram above into a circle.

Given the above, one approach to creating increased happiness might be to look at dissatisfaction in the present and ask, “Am I fully committed in either attention or action to the issue at hand?” If not, perhaps therein lies an opportunity to transform an unsatisfactory situation and create more happiness.

Wondering what you think?

Text Cloud – President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan »

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Moments after Barack Obama took the oath of office, a new White House website was launched where President Barack Obama has published his agenda for the new administration. In reading The President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, I thought it would make for an interesting text cloud. The new site also includes the addition of a White House blog and an online briefing room that allows visitors to sign up for e-mail notification of major announcements and decisions, and to submit their own ideas. User participation seems to be the theme of both the site and new economy.

Notes from the Universe »

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Created by author Mike Dooley, “Notes from the Universe” is a humorous, inspirational daily email service based on the book by the same name. I first learned about Notes from the Universe several weeks ago from users on Twitter and have enjoyed receiving the emails since. Today’s note:

Partial screenshot: TUT.com website

Brian, today, be the person of your dreams.

See life through THEIR eyes.

Make decisions with THEIR mind.

Let every thought, word, and action come from THEIR perspective, as if you had already arrived, and just watch how 2009 warps into the kind of year you talk and laugh about forever and ever and ever…

Peace, love, and green M&Ms –
The Universe

A great way to start the day, signup for the email is free. Visit www.tut.com.

How-To: Get Out of Shoveling Snow »

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Check out this pimp house feature in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

Dealing with Difficult People (Ajahn Brahm) »

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Holding up the Zen end of this blog, an entertaining and practical dharma talk, Dealing with Difficult People, given by Ajahn Brahm from The Buddhist Society Western Australia. I especially enjoyed the story, “The Donkey Who Fell in the Well,” starting at 0:53:25 and “What mosquitos taught me,” starting at 1:05:00.

How-To: Upgrade MacBook, MacBook Pro Hard Drive to 320GB/7200RPM for Under $100 »

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Photo: Inside the MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo

Buying a new computer in a down economy might not make sense but there are plenty of ways to upgrade and get more horsepower out of your existing machine. The most obvious upgrade is to add more memory. The next is to upgrade to a larger, higher RPM drive with faster read/write times.

As many Mac laptop users know, Apple doesn’t offer post-sale hard disk upgrades. The hard disk you specify at the time of purchase is the hard drive Apple expects you to live with for life, short of buying a new laptop. This said, there are plenty of third party Mac hardware sites that offer compatible laptop drives and Do-It-Yourself upgrade kits.

Out of disk space, frustrated with the slow read/write times of my existing 5400RPM drive, and with assurances from reading multiple guides that hard disk replacement was a breeze, I decided to give it a go. (Note: upgrading internal Apple laptop components will void your Apple warranty and Applecare agreements.) Here is the process.

1. Locate a replacement guide for your machine.
iFixit.com has a number of great laptop and iPod DIY articles. I used this one specific to my MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. (Thanks to fiveinchpixie on Twitter for the iFixit.com resource.)

2. Find a replacement drive.
For the hard drive, I used the Mac hardware finder at Other World Computing and found this compatible Hitachi Travelstar 320GB 7200RPM drive for $89.99 after mail-in rebate. Sweet!

3. Make sure you have the correct tools.
Based on the iFixit.com guide, the only required tool I didn’t have was a T6 Trox screwdriver. I ended up ordering this Newer Technology tool kit which has the T6 Trox and also comes with two nylon pry tools (a.k.a. “spudgers”). Another bonus is that all of the tools have magnetic tool tips which made holding on to the tiny laptop screws a breeze.

4. Backup the drive you are replacing.
There are a number of options here depending how you wish to populate the new hard drive.

Some hard disk upgrade kits from Other World Computing come with USB enclosures and software which allow you to copy over the contents of the existing drive before making the switch. Note: this is probably the simplest solution if you do not consider yourself very tech savvy or do not have an existing backup strategy.

A second option is Time Machine. In this case, replace the drive, boot from the OS X install CD, format the new drive (can provide instructions if anyone needs them), then restore from your last Time Machine backup.

The method I used was to copy my existing drive using SuperDuper to an external Firewire 800 drive which is bootable, installed the new drive, then booted from the external drive. I used Disk Utility (/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility) to format the new hard disk, then used SuperDuper to copy the data back over.

5. Replace the drive and restore from your backup.
Follow the iFixit.com guide for your machine, format and copy your data over. The hardware replacement was super easy and took me about 20 minutes total. It then took about 2 hours to let SuperDuper copy the data back to the new drive.

That’s it! Enjoy your upgraded laptop.

I now have roughly three times the amount of disk space I had before and the 7200RPM drive is lightening fast compared to the old 5400RPM OEM Apple drive. It’s like having a new computer! Not bad for a $89.99 investment.