Greatness

I saw this on Devour, this video embodies why I train for sports:

The video and the music are compelling, so watch the video, but here are the words:

There are no grand celebrations here.
No speeches, no bright lights, but there are great athletes.

Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is reserved for the chosen few, for the superstars.

The truth is, greatness is for all of us. This is not about lowering expectations, it’s about raising them for every last one of us. Because greatness is not in one special place, and it is not in one special person. Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.

New Years 2012

Each year I try to come up with a new years resolution, and then try to stick to it. I’ve had some interesting ones in the past few years. Last years was to go to gym 350 days of the year. Sadly, that did not happen. The year before I believe my goal was to read more, and the year before that it was to do more (Do More).

Some people scoff at the idea of a New Year’s resolution. Personally, I relish the challenge. I accept the fact that it probably won’t work out completely, so I tend to like resolutions that are scale based instead of directly quantifiable. For example, if my goal was read more and last year I read 5 books, and this year I read 6 I achieved my goal. If my goal was to read 20 books, that is a little harder. By picking something to generally focus on, I tend to increase my chances of success.

This year, I started with a list of potential resolutions. I just started writing down ideas that could potentially be resolutions. This list takes up an entire page in my field notes, almost 30 potential resolutions. Some of them are more goals. Here are some choice selections:

  • Fill my journal
  • Run a Marathon
  • Do a standing full on the ground
  • Do an Olympic distance triathlon
  • Fix my personal website
  • Blog once per week
  • Publish a photo per week
  • Make more websites
  • Take up crossfit
  • Win at something
  • Keep my apartment clean
  • Learn to cook (seriously)
  • Run 50 miles a month
  • Build things
  • Host more parties
  • Do more by hand/from scratch
  • Get my mile time under 7 minutes
  • Write more
  • No more than 1 cup of coffee per day
  • Open source my budget
  • Learn to bake bread
  • Dress better
  • Eat more vegitarian
  • Learn to draw
  • Be more creative

This is a gargantuan list of tasks. Some of them seem more mutually exclusive. I mean, if I didn’t work, could utilize all waking hours, and was partially super-human, I could probably get through all of them. I do work, need time to rest, and am not super-human (sadly). Therefore I have cut the list down.

I’ve decided to focus on one:

Be More Creative

To mean this means more than creating art. I want to be more creative in as many aspects of my life as possible. For example, I’ve been focused on Cheerleading for 15 years of my life. I train by lifting and tumbling. Instead, this year I plan to expand my athletic endeavors to include more skiing, snowboarding, running, swimming, biking (I already did this one, but yeah), rock climbing, etc. I plan to be more creative in the types of foods I eat, and where I get my finances from. I plan to redesign my wordpress blog. I want to focus on design idioms in my online and physical life.

The way I see it, being creative is a way of thinking about life. I intend to change the way I think about my days, hours, minutes, and seconds, free time, vacations, workouts, drives, photographs, and much more.

Ran a Half Marathon

I ran my first half marathon yesterday. Finished with a time of 2:32:52. To be fair the course was VERY flat, and it was completely supported. Still I feel like this was a great accomplishment for me. I’m not a distance runner, never have been, and being able to finish 13.1 miles is a pretty large distance. I’ve been collecting money for my favorite charity, Charity:Water. I raised $500 for a good cause. You can still donate:

http://mycharitywater.org/zackruns

Thanks again to all who have donated and also those who have motivated me to run this distance. Especially those who challenged me to run distances of this length.

As a fun piece of trivia, I was once a track captain, though I’ve never been a cheerleading captain.

Kindle on an Airplane

Dear Delta (or any airline for that matter),

I should be allowed to use my kindle during landing or take off. People are allowed to hold their books, my kindle is lighter than a book. Nobody believes the old garbage about electronic devices interfering with the cockpit equipment. What about electronic watches? What about pacemakers. Are you telling me that all of this electronic equipment is deadly to a plane?

Seriously, come up with better reasons or allow me to use my kindle through the landing.

Sincerely,
Me

Social Beings

I saw this piece randomly.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/amzomr0rGhlHy22D7Jd3gw

It’s a TED talk form David Brooks (NY Times columnist) about the evolution of our social society. I picked up on it because my interest in college really focused around the power of social networks. This piece goes a little deeper. It talks beyond even our conscious networks, to our subconscious networks. This is an interesting aspect I hadn’t directly considered. This is not a scientific piece as much as it is an emotional one. I thought it was worthwhile.

The Self Portrait Photo Assignment

I’ve been searching for pictures of myself that I really like. And while I have a couple from friends that I find rather fun:

Anyway, I don’t have enough. And I’m vein. So this leads me to a self assigned project. The Self Portrait Photo Assignment. As with any assignment there are rules. Here are the rules.

  1. Have to take the photo yourself.
  2. Can’t buy additional camera equipment for this project.
  3. Can’t buy any special clothing
  4. Final product should be 5-10 different photos that are taken under different circumstances.
  5. Photos should reflect your character.

I’m going to try to have my stuff done by December 1, 2010. Let me know if you want to join.

Update: It’s taking longer than I expected to get around to this. Not going to have it done for December 1 (tomorrow)

Post Cards Are Awesome!

I’ve long had a thing for paper. I always carry around a notebook and pen, just in case I want to write something down. One thing I’ve noticed about my notebooks is their wear pattern. The more you use a notebook the more the corners begin to dull, the more creases in the pages. This wear increases the attractiveness of the notebook. I feel that this translates to most paper products. Generally speaking, the more wear a piece of paper has the more treasured it is. For this reason post cards are valuable. Not just the image, but the process of being through the male provides the wear. What you receive on the other end is a valuable piece of paper with an image and a note from a friend.

I’m collecting post cards, and I’m going to start sending a bunch more. If I ask you for your address, please don’t expect anything grand, just a nice piece of paper with a note from a friend. I also hope you return the favor. Interesting post cards and notes will get scanned and posted to my blog with your permission.

Dr. Oliver Ludwig

A week ago Sunday one of mentors passed away. Oliver Ludwig was my friend, teacher, mentor, brother, and advisor. He passed away after a three year long battle with cancer, and in true Doc fashion, kept it from most of us while he fought it. Only in his passing were we made aware of his condition.

I met Dr. Ludwig in sophomore year at Villanova, I was in his chemistry class. He had a unique way of teaching the class. Most teachers make you memorize stupid minutia in order to pass their tests. Doc (as he was affectionately known) had a different belief. All his tests and quizzes were open note and open book. His approach was practical. He wanted his students to learn and I felt he was quite effective. Most of the chemistry he taught me was review from my AP class, but there were some things that left a lasting impression.

He was the first teacher to explain the value of attending class. He had done the math figuring the yearly tuition rates, divided by the number of average credits a student takes, divided by the number of hours in class per semester, divided by the number of seconds in an hour, you end up with a cost per minute of a Villanova Education. You are paying for the teachers time, it is silly to skip class. I tried never to miss class if I could help it from that point on.

Another time he spend a few minutes at the end of class teaching us about surface tension by telling us a joke. He asked, how could get a pin to float on water. The answer is that you use a piece of cigarette paper and lay the pin on top of it, then float the paper on the water and the pin will stay on the surface of the water.

But I knew Doc as more than just a teacher. Doc was also for the faculty advisor for Sigma Nu, the fraternity that I ended joining in sophomore year. He was part of the reason I joined. I had originally looked at joining the greek life in the middle of freshman year, but it just didn’t fit. I looked at some of the bigger groups, but missed some of the smaller groups. Sophomore year comes around and I met this guy named Bill Clark. He introduced me to the guys and when I found out that Doc was the advisor I was even more interested.

Doc was selfless as both a teacher and an advisor. He went out of his way to do the right thing and be helpful to as many people as possible. He was kind and reasonable and a generally great individual. When I pledged the fraternity, I was given the pledge name “little Doc”, mostly because I was a science buff just like Doc, but I’d like to think that we had more in common than just our passion for the sciences.

I’m going to miss him, his constant emails about random mathematical jokes. His newsletter that published so that we as a brotherhood could stay in touch. His regime and rule at the fraternity get togethers. I will be forever grateful for the lessons he has taught me and the friends he has helped me meet.

SmugMug Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

Dear Smugmug,

I’m a user of your service, and while I’m very happy with the services provided, I started following the status update page and am a little concerned. Do you really need to have a regularly scheduled maintenance window where you can bring down your entire site? I understand that you are dealing with large quantities of data, but do sites like Google or Apple ever fully come down an regularly scheduled time? Do you not have redundancies? How safe are the images I store with you?

The constant downtime is a real concern for me and I’m considering switching back to flickr.

Zachary