Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

My Blog is Five

Posted: August 27, 2015 in Blogging
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My blog is now five years old. I have posted 212 posts over the past 260 weeks. I kept a one post a week pace up for the first 3 years, a three post a month pace up for the 4th year, and this year a miserly 1.5 post a month pace. Last year I decided to lower my goal to meet my output, this year I’m going to go goal-less! I still enjoy blogging and I plan to continue adding to this blog.

I’m not looking for excuses, I’ve just sat down to write less, but I like to do a little reflection on the blog’s birthday.  This has been a full year, a little lighter on the adventure and major challenges, and a lot heavier on the friends and family. Not a bad trade-off, but less to write about.

My home projects have been less “post worthy”, but not less work, or less important. I actually checked quite a few things off my list this year.

We had our main public living areas painted not long after we moved in. The hardest part of that effort was picking the colors. It took weeks. Writing the check to the painters was an effort too, so I committed to painting the bedrooms and upstairs rooms myself. I painted the master bedroom, master bathroom, the shared bathroom on the second floor and the laundry room this year. Although these efforts fit the “Weekend Project” category, writing about painting is about as exciting as watching paint dry – not to put down any of those painting blogs out there. The biggest lesson learned is one I already learned during my garage floor coating experience, and apparently forgot already. Paint needs to be stirred… even if the store just mixed it… even if you just stirred it not long ago… just stir it again! Although no one else seems to notice it, I notice the areas that aren’t quite the same color and hopefully that will help me to remember to stir the paint more often next time.

This year I also attempted to do a repair of our couch to tighten the springs. We would just buy a new one, but we prefer to keep the old one and to keep letting the dog share it with us. It’s not a bad couch, it was just a little saggy and soft. I did research online, found some good info on how to use rope to tighten couch springs.  I took pictures of the process… just in case it turned out amazing and I wanted to write a post.

Couch Spring Tightening Project

It did turn out pretty good, but definitely short of amazing. Although I didn’t do a post I will share a couple of lessons learned here. First pick rope that doesn’t stretch. The rope I used was cheaper, and easy to work with, but stretched. I pulled it tight while attaching it to the springs, but it still continued to stretch after I finished. Second, evaluate the condition of the foam in your cushions. If the foam is too soft, no matter how good a foundation the cushions sit on, the couch will still feel saggy. We still plan to keep the couch, and it is better than it was, but it was not an amazing transformation or blog-post-worthy project.

Another, un-post-worthy project this year was installing shelves in the dining room for a picture wall. We love the wall, and it made putting up family pictures a snap, but I failed to get any pictures during the installation, and even the pictures I got after the installation really don’t do the project justice. It just looks better in person.

Family Picture Wall

Laying out the placement of the shelves and making sure they were level was not easy, but I don’t have any great tips to share about that… just take your time. However, the hardware that came with the shelves included spring-loaded wings for inside the drywall when the holes didn’t match up with a stud (almost none of them did). The instructions looked easy, but in practice when we got ready to slide the shelves onto the screws, the springs would pull the screw heads flush with the wall. It was very frustrating. My wife came up with a brilliant idea to use tape to hold them away from the wall. I simply wrapped scotch tape around the screw between the wall and the screw head and it kept the springs from pulling the head against the wall. It worked like a charm! To describe all that for a real post, I would have had to take at least one shelf down and taken pictures. If I could have gotten a good representative picture of the finished project I might have made that effort. Obviously that didn’t happen, but we are enjoying having the pictures up!

As far as some of my planned blog improvements I put in my post a year ago…I have done some work to make it easier to find some of my favorite older posts, but I could do more. I’m not completely happy how some of the things I’ve done so far look on a smart phone, so I’ve been putting off doing more until I solve those issues. There is only so much you can do with HTML tables. I need to brush up on some more modern HTML techniques. I’ll try to take the time to do that this year.

The last year has been my worst year in the last 9 years for staying in shape. I started out the year with some injuries from chronic over training, so I decided to take a break. The injuries cleared up… but the break has lingered. With a trip to Hawaii fast approaching, it’s time to get back to running and working out!  I’m also hoping to do at least one half marathon next year.  That won’t happen if I don’t start a consistent routine now.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog for 5 years. A lot has changed, but it doesn’t seem like 5 years has gone by. Life is definitely not slowing down. Although I’m busy and can’t always sit down to write, I will definitely keep at this blog. I enjoy writing and the blog still helps motivate me to live a full life. I have no shortage of things I want to write about, I just need to plan my time better so I have time to sit down and let the ideas turn into posts.

Now it’s time to blow out the candles and eat the cake (ok maybe I better skip that this year)… Happy Birthday Blog!

This year, 2014 was a long hot summer in Southern California. It is always hard to tell exactly when a summer ends in San Diego. I usually call a summer over when we have several cool/cold nights in a row and the rainy season starts. This year San Diego’s summer was longer than usual and ended, by my definition, between mid November and the beginning of December. So 2014 was a long and very busy summer for us!

We started out the summer by finishing up our training hikes for our Grand Canyon rim to rim hike. We did at least 9 “Afoot and Afield in San Diego” hikes in April and May of 2014, including a really good training hike up El Cajon Mountain in temperatures near 90.

Jenny taking a break on the peak of El Cajon Mountain May 2014

The Grand Canyon hike was just one of the highlights of this summer for me. It was my second rim to rim hike at the Grand Canyon and I applied all my lessons learned from the previous hike to make this one even better. What really made it special for me was that I did it with my wife. She had led me up Half Dome in 2011, having done it several times herself before, so this was my chance to share a special and challenging hike with her. My cousin and youngest son also came along. The hike definitely lived up to the “challenging” label, but it was also a special experience in one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever visited.

Curved trail cut out of red rocks North Kaibab Trail

This was our 4th summer with season passes to the Green Flash Concert Series at Birch Aquarium above the Pacific in La Jolla. We have never been disappointed by the music at any of these concerts, they have a very laid back crowd, good food and adult refreshments, but in the end it’s really all about the location, the view, and usually a spectacular sunset!

Sunset at the September 2014 Green Flash Concert at the Birch Aquarium

We were so busy with other things, that we decided to get tickets to a few less concerts than usual this summer, but we still made time for some of our favorites like Jack Johnson, Dave Matthew, Steve Miller, and Journey. We also saw James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl. Seeing him has been on my bucket list for years. One of my all time favorite singers! Although we had decided to slow down a bit when it came to concerts, we didn’t feel like we could afford to miss seeing Paul McCartney at Petco Park in San Diego either. He had not had a concert in San Diego since 1976, and we both loved the Beatles, so… we made the time and spent the money for this one!

Paul McCartney singing Let Me Roll It - Petco Park September 28 2014

The staycation we planned for Oceanside went even better than planned. Although we love to travel, we wanted to get our family together for some fun this year, and this seemed the best way to make that happen. We rented a 3 bedroom condo in Oceanside with my wife’s brother Randy and all but one of our combined 9 children came for at least one day during the week we stayed there. We also had other friends and family join in the fun. We had plenty of beach time, BBQ’d some Juicy Lucy’s, enjoyed some terrific homemade fish tacos thanks to our nephew Brian, sailed in Oceanside harbor, kayaked at La Jolla shores, played a few drinking games, roasted some marshmallows at a campfire on the beach, and enjoyed a terrific ocean view all week! This turned out even better than we had hoped and we will be doing this again in the future.

Early evening view from the Oceanside Pier - July 9 2014

We were so busy this year that I’m still catching up on posts for some of our activities. One post I still haven’t gotten done is for our trip to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, also in July of 2014. We had a great time with our great friends Dave and Wendy on this trip, seeing some new sites, and having some new experiences in two of our favorite places. Of course there are still lots of things we still want to do so we’ll just have to go again sometime soon! I’ll put a link to the post here when I finish it… until then, here is a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge I took from the Marin Headlands.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands - 27 July 2014

We also had a great time visiting Iowa and Nebraska again this year. This has been a regular summer trip for us. Most of my family lives in Iowa, and even though my wife’s family is from the Los Angeles area, her sister Wendy lives in Nebraska. So luckily we both have reasons to make this trip as often as we can. This year we attended a nephew’s wedding (always great to have an event that brings a lot of family together in one place) in Iowa, went to Nebraska to visit in the middle of the week, and returned to Iowa to celebrate my Mom’s 75th birthday! Although there was a lot more running around we had a great time. Family is very important to both of us!

Iowa - Nebraska 2014

I was also able to spend a day in Copenhagen this summer at the end of a work trip to Denmark. It was well worth the cost in money and time to add this to the end of my trip. I’m not sure if I’ll get back to Copenhagen again, but hope to travel with my wife to Norway at some time in the future, and it would be a nice side trip to visit both Denmark and Sweden while we are there. Nyhavn was one of my favorite parts of Copenhagen and I found myself drawn back there several times during my short visit.

Nice sailboat docked in Nyhavn

Although those were the major highlights of the summer, we found ourselves having to squeeze in some other things where we could. We had annual passes to Disneyland that we thought would fill in some open weekends. Instead we found ourselves struggling to find a free Sunday to get up there. We also happily “squeezed in” a couple days a week to spend with our new Grandson Cash! He has been in fact the major highlight of 2014! It’s amazing how much a baby changes in 9+ months. We have loved being part of his life and can’t wait to see all the changes 2015 bring.

We actually have very little planned for 2015 so far. This is intentional. We found that we were so busy this summer that we ended up being pretty inflexible when opportunities came up. We hope to return to Yosemite this year, but won’t formalize that plan until we can schedule campsites. My daughter is getting married in July – really big plans there! Beyond that we hope to be available to spend as much time as we can with our family and friends next summer. I can’t imagine a better plan than that!

(Final Note: This will be my 200th post once I push the publish button. Although it seems I have less and less time to maintain this blog, I still enjoy writing here as much as I ever did. So maybe I’ll use some of that “flexible unplanned time” to spend a little more time here…)

My blog is now four years old. I have posted 194 posts over the past 208 weeks, so I’ve fallen behind my goal of 1 post a week, this year for the first time. I thought about doing a little “catching up” over the past few months, but we had 3 vacations in the last 3 months and I also had a couple of business trips. I posted 38 posts in the last year. Rather than beating myself up about it I plan to lower my goal this year to 3 posts a month. When I look at my “Honey Do” list for the house, and my “better do” list at work – not to mention plenty of grandson time, I’m sure I won’t be sitting on the couch a lot!

Although the blog has changed over the last 4 years, its main purpose has been constant – to celebrate living a full life. With four years of posts on the blog some of the standard widgets and tools for giving access to these posts are starting to fall short. Some of the things I did in the last year have helped in some ways. I’ve kept my sidebar tool for my “Favorite Posts – So Far” up to date. This has made it easier for people to find many of my favorite posts (usually vacations and adventures). However, the list has gotten long and unwieldy, so I plan to do some consolidating. I’ll create a summary page for places I’ve been multiple times and have many posts for (such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco).  These summary pages with have a table of posts and include a thumbnail picture from the post. I can put this same table at the end of each of these posts to make it easier to find the information a person may be interested in.

On my homepage I’ve added some links using the built-in post categories on my homepage using my most common categories for posts that don’t fit into my favorites so far list. But this just brings people to a long continuous string of posts. I would rather have it bring them to a list of posts with descriptions. I have a couple of choices to make this happen.
1. Change my theme to one with more tools. (This would be quite a bit of work to reformat many of the posts – especially the pictures.)
2. Brush off my HTML skills and do it myself. I’m leaning toward doing this, but with 194 posts and growing, this could be a bit of a chore to maintain.

Year four of the blog had a couple major events planned. I ran the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. I didn’t achieve my time goal due to a late training injury, so I plan to do another at some point. However, I need my Achilles tendon to heal first. I see some physical therapy in my future! We also did a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike. It was terrific despite the heat and a lingering cold.

I don’t have firm plans for any big adventures in 2015 yet. There’s at least one wedding to plan for, and maybe more! If we can find a date I would love to have a family camping trip to Yosemite or Sequoia. But we’ll have to see where that might fit in. I will continue with my goal of doing all 250 hikes in San Diego County. This will likely take 5-6 years even if we stay on it! As soon as my Achilles is healed I will start training for more runs. I love the half marathon length, but I know I can get a much better time on the marathon than I did at last years Marine Corps Marathon.

It’s hard to believe another year has past. Life is definitely not slowing down. I have absolutely lived a full life for the last four years. The blog has helped me stay focused on planning and living life whether that revolved around a milestone adventure, or just enjoying the local area more. I don’t plan to give up living this way or blogging about it any time soon.

Now it’s time to blow out the candles and have some cake… Happy Birthday Blog!

On the 30th of October 2013 Google offered me a custom URL for my Google+ account. Being one of only a few Eric Rial’s out there I figured I better jump on it to avoid missing out on the coveted google.com/+EricRial URL! Well at least it is coveted by me and some guy in Argentina. At the time I accepted this great offer, I wondered what it would mess up. I figured it was Google after all, so they probably had this all figured out.

As I sat around waiting for the soreness to pass from my first marathon I was also noticing my blog statistics were going down. This happens all the time as what I’ve posted in the past becomes less relevant and drops in search results. Over 80% of the traffic to my blog comes from search engines, so I’m used to the ups and downs. However, this drop seemed different. It wasn’t so much up and down, as down and down! A drop of over 70% over the past 3 weeks in average daily post views! So I decided to check around. It didn’t take long to see the problem. I tried out some common search terms that bring people to my blog, and didn’t immediately see my posts in the results. I looked closer, and they were there, but my Google authorship picture (from Google+) was missing! Even I had difficulty distinguishing my post from the rest of the results. Unless you are in the top couple results you are less likely to “get the click” without something to draw the person’s eye to your post. I knew that when I first set this up last year, but after this skid in post views I’m was true believer!

It only took a few minutes to search (authorship photo in Google results) for the instructions to set it up again. I couldn’t even find the link I had put in – possibly removed as a dead link? Then I watched for the photo to show back up. It took a while for it to come back for all of my common search results.  It also took from November 2013 until March 2014 for my post view statistics to recover.  I have other theories on way my stats went down… the top of the list is that my Mom quit viewing 30 posts a day.  That’s not likely, she’s my biggest fan!  Anyway, the stats came back, but then I noticed again in my search results no longer had my picture again in early July 2014.  I was concerned.  I found out that Google had decided to stop putting photos in the search results.  This concerned me and I assumed my statistics would tank again.  However, July was my best month so far and August is looking even better so far.  Google claims removing the photos won’t affect traffic, and I guess maybe their right.  Maybe it doesn’t matter… maybe there is some other reason my stats tanked last October.

I guess I’ll never know.

[Note:  Please don’t like this post if all you want is for me to “check out” your posts on increasing traffic.  I’m not obsessed with traffic, never plan to earn a dime from this blog, and think all such schemes are scams!  I blog because I enjoy blogging and to celebrate living a full life.  If all you do this for is because you think you’ll get rich convincing people to click to and buy a system to “make money online”, then good luck to you!  I won’t be joining your “movement”! I’ll just keep plugging away writing what I enjoy writing about. If someone enjoys reading it so much the better.]

View from Tecate Peak in Southern San Diego County

One of the most satisfying feelings in life is feeling the sense of being grounded. The dictionary definition of the word asks more questions about a person than it answers.

I’ve heard other phrases in my life that I also equate with a person who is grounded such as “knows who they are and they’re happy with it”, “comfortable in their own skin”, and “right where they want to be in life”.   The classic view of a person who is “grounded” is of a person who is that way because that is who they are and nothing can shake them. People like that might exist, but I think anyone is capable of being shaken loose from their roots occasionally. Sometimes it is better to let yourself drift for a while than to hold on to a self-image that no longer works. I believe you won’t be able to hold on to that “grounded” feeling for long if your self-image doesn’t match your situation!  Although I haven’t always felt that I was “grounded”, I can definitely think of four times in my life I felt that way.

When I was young and we lived just outside of my hometown, even though I spent a lot of time alone, I remember being very happy. I had a close family, felt I knew who I was, and where I fit in the world. Of course things have a way of changing, in fact they never stop changing. I hit puberty (never a likely time to feel grounded), my parents divorced, and we moved in to town. It is hard to feel grounded when the “ground” is shifting underneath you.

But I found my way and even though I was a rebellious teen, I felt grounded. I’m sure my Mom would feel differently about that time in my life, but I was happy with much of my life. I started working, had a more social life, a terrific best friend (who is still my best friend today), and I learned a lot about myself. But high school doesn’t last forever! After high school the ground shifted yet again. Behavior that worked when I had fewer responsibilities became a huge problem. I didn’t know where I was headed and no longer felt even a little bit grounded.

Eventually, I decided that a major change was necessary. I decided to join the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is a terrific organization and I loved every minute of my 21 years of service, but I can’t say that I felt particularly grounded during my first four years in the Marine Corps. I was constantly moving around, meeting new people, and learning even more about myself. I wasn’t particularly happy with some of the things I learned, so I decided to make some changes. At the end of my first enlistment I met a woman, got married and started a family. Responsibility and family allowed me to finally feel grounded again.

The years I spent married and raising young children was a defining time in my life. I was absolutely exactly where I wanted to be. I never wanted it to end! We were married 20 years. We were happy at least 80% of the time for the first 17. Unfortunately we were only happy about 20 percent of the time the last three years. This was different for me than after high school. After high school I didn’t really know who I was.  Now I did! I was settled in my career, I was a father, and I wanted to be a family man. That included coming home from work to my family. My self-image no longer completely fit my situation. I saw my children several hours a week, not every night. I came home to an empty apartment, and I didn’t have a long list of interests to fill my life with. The interests of my youth – going to the bar, playing pool, and the rest of the things young men do, felt like a pretty hollow existence compared to what my life had been.

I didn’t all at once decide to “find myself” or to live a fuller life. In fact I did what a lot of people in my situation do, I jumped back into a relationship very quickly. I thought I could rebuild what I had lost. I thought all I needed was someone to come home to and then everything would be “good” again. It didn’t work out quite that way. I ended up married and divorced again very quickly. Although it was a 3 year relationship I was not able to regain that feeling of being grounded. After that experience I was even more “out of sorts”. I really was adrift except for one thing, my youngest son moved in with me.

I wish I could say that with my son there I had decided to just enjoy having my son there, not worry about dating, and take some time to build a life, but I didn’t know I needed to do that.  I was a single parent, dating, and dealing with the challenges that all of those things together bring. It didn’t leave a lot of time in my life for self discovery. It didn’t take long for me to see that this wasn’t the way to happiness. I pulled away from online dating, focused on doing my own thing, not for years, but for enough time to find something that I could build on.  I also started blogging. My first blog is no longer around. It was a 60 post in 60 days nonstop rant. I wasn’t ranting at the world for “what they were doing to me”. I was ranting at myself! I needed to change some things. It was too late to “Join the Marine Corps” again, and that is not the kind of change I needed anyway. I needed to accept that I wouldn’t go back to where I had been before. Besides, my kids were mostly grown and the nest was emptying out. I started to hike, and run, and sail more. I started going to plays and more concerts than I had ever gone to before. I also accepted the friendship offered by a terrific woman I was dating before my “60 posts in 60 days” rant/melt down. Again I wish I could say that I let this go slowly, that is absolutely what I needed, but I didn’t. After a few months I asked her to date again. At least it wasn’t because I needed to date, it was because I thought she was terrific and I didn’t want to lose her.  However, I did commit myself to taking the dating slowly, and to continuing to find myself. I knew I needed to fill my life with not just the company of another person, but with my own interests if I was going to ever be happy again.

Much of the rest of the story is already told in the posts I’ve written for this blog over the last 3+ years, so I’ll skip to the good part.  Last week I was rocking my grandson to sleep and my beautiful, tenacious, adventurous, wonderful wife bent over to give me a kiss and one word came to my mind – grounded!  I was grounded well before this, but I felt it more strongly than ever before at that moment.  I could not be in a better place. I cannot imagine a different life. I know exactly who I am and I’m happy with that person (well mostly). I know that there is change out there somewhere in the future. I don’t dwell on it… but it will come. Until then I will live every day to the fullest and continue to feel grounded!

2013 Collage

Last year, 2013, was a very good year for me. Although it will be hard to beat I’m hoping for an even better 2014!

In 2013 I checked a major accomplishment off on my Bucket List, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and had a great time in Washington DC that weekend! In order to make that happen I ran over 500 training miles including two half marathons, the San Diego Half Marathon in March 2013, and the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in San Diego in June.

We had a great time camping near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park with family. Although I’ve been many times, this was my first trip to Idaho with Jenny. We spent our first anniversary enjoying downtown Boise, went white water rafting, and biked the Boise green belt on the 4th of July, then headed north for a couple days in beautiful Stanley Idaho. For my birthday we had a terrific weekend on Santa Catalina Island. the trip started out fast with my first zipline experience, and we also had a terrific time hiking in the hills around Avalon and just relaxing in our hotel and at the Descanso Beach club.

We enjoyed our third year of Green Flash Concerts at Birch Aquarium and lots of other live music including a few of my favorites Sara Barelles and One Republic at the SDSU Open Air Theater, John Mayer and Phillip Phillips at Sleep Train Amphitheater, Steve Miller at the fair, and Fleetwood Mac at one of my favorite venues – the Hollywood Bowl.

We closed on our new house on 31 December 2012, so we had all of 2013 to get settled in. This inspired me to start a new category for my blog: Weekend Project. Although I got a good start on the house, there are plenty more projects to tackle over the next few years.

For 2014 I will do this a little differently than last year with a top 10 count down of predictions for 2014!

10. Week-end project – install surround sound speakers!

9. Develop an Android App and publish it to Google Play.

8. Weekend Project – Improve the storage in our garage so we can park 2 cars in the garage at once (novel idea)!

7. Our 4th consecutive season of Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium.

6. Bucket List (progress) – Complete at least 35 new (never been on hikes) in San Diego County.

5. Bucket List – Walk across the Grand Canyon not once but twice on a rim to rim to rim hike!

4. Check at least one item off my Bucket List in the travel section. Need to coordinate this with a few people so I’m not picking one now…

3. Visit family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, and even here in California!

2. One of my daughters will get engaged! (OK cheating on the prediction side of things as it happened on January 2nd.)

1. Bucket List – rock a grandchild to sleep in my arms!

I hope your 2013 was unbelievable, and your 2014 is unstoppable! Happy New Year!

Blog Year 3 CollageThe terrible twos are over, the rough patches for finding the path for this blog have passed. My blog is now three years old. I have posted 156 posts over the past 156 weeks, so I’m right on my goal of one post a week, although it took a little “catching up” over the past few months.

Immediately after the the thought that “the hardest part was over” for starting the blog came to mind, the question… how long will I keep doing this… popped into my head. It is a valid question. Everything has a beginning, and an ending. If a full life can end, so can a blog. I don’t have an answer to the question at this point. I don’t feel like “the end” is near, but I also hesitate to say I will continue doing this the rest of my life, or even the rest of my active life. I guess I can say that I will continue to do it as long as it adds more to my life than it takes away. There have been evenings that I’ve sat here typing a post and I’ve thought, could I be using my time for something more useful, or more fun? Could I be spending more time with my family? But when I look at all the terrific things this blog has inspired me to plan and do, the hours seem like a small price to pay.

Although the blog has changed over the last 3 years, its main purpose has been constant – to celebrate living a full life. With three years of posts on the blog some of the standard widgets and tools for giving access to these posts are starting to fall short. This year I added a sidebar tool with my “Favorite Posts – So Far” Most of my favorite posts are of me actually getting out there and living. I enjoyed writing these posts the most and I like to check them out occasionally, and hopefully make them easier for others to find too. Unfortunately I always find another typo while re-reading my posts. I guess that’s to be expected in a blog…

The Favorite Posts so Far also includes a few “resource” posts, and a single “Wild Hair” post Have Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup in Your Cereal Once in Awhile, but as I reviewed the list I found that there were no Planning posts. Even though they are not as fun to write, I have gone back to read them when refining my plan or planning a second similar trip. Although these posts are not “favorites”, they are the most important. Without these posts, the favorite posts would not happen, or at least the trips/adventures would not turn out as well. Another type of post – Deep Thoughts has only the one post, which is also a Wild Hair post. While digging through the blog content for this post I skimmed back through my posts for the Deep Thoughts category (of course I found a few that shouldn’t be there) and read a couple. I love writing these posts, and I enjoy reading them, but I wouldn’t classify many of them as favorites for a couple reasons. First they are too personal. They are written from my point of view, how I feel about a topic or how I’m affected. Second, many of them tend to get preachy, mostly preaching to me, but that may not be the way it comes across. Preaching is not really my intent on this blog; that’s not who I want to be, although it must be a part of who I am because it happens so often in these posts. I’ll work on that and maybe more of these posts can become favorites. I’ll also consider some other ways to make it easier to browse through older posts.

Year four of the blog has a couple major events planned. First I will be running the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. This will be my first marathon and likely my last (we’ll see), so I’m hoping to achieve my time goal, be satisfied, and have a little more time to relax and/or do other things. There has been a lot of running over the past year. As soon as the Marathon is over we will start hiking a lot more. We are scheduled to hike from rim to rim at the Grand Canyon in the early summer next year. I did this in the fall in 2010, but next year we will have a larger group (including my wife), and we are doing some other things differently too. I know there will be plenty of weekend project posts over the next year with the new house to play with. Although my wife calls me a “planner”, I have left some room for surprises and spur of the moment adventures. I’m not sure if there will be much room for sitting on the couch and watching TV, but that is sort of the point!

Now it’s time to blow out the candles and have some cake… Happy Birthday Blog!

Its not about the Post Views

It’s hard not to get excited about POST VIEWS! Especially when you wake up to see you have 100+ views from someone in Australia. If you happen to hit a milestone of 19,000 all-time views on the same day, you start to think about milestones. That that leads you to wonder what kind of milestone would deserve a party. I decided that a milestone truly worth a party would be a million views. Being a planner I wanted to be sure I had the date marked on my calendar for the big party. Might need to make reservations or something. I quickly calculated the highly anticipated day using the simple calculator on my computer, my average daily post views for 2013, and a Google search to find the Julian Calendar for 2013 and 2084. So what is so special about 13 Feb 2084? It is the day that I estimate my blog will have racked up 1 million post views. Of course, I’ll be 123 years old, so we may not party ALL night long!

For some the long wait could be a big disappointment, but I’ don’t blog for the post views. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from obsessing about them sometimes…

You can tell if you’re obsessing about your post views if:

  • You pick up your phone and instead of going to Facebook you click the WordPress App on the Android to see how your daily stats are going
  • The first thing you do in the morning is check your Blog Stats
  • The last thing you do before you go to sleep is check your Blog Stats
  • You get concerned if you are under your daily average
  • You’ve read the WordPress post How to get more traffic more than twice.
  • You’ve written a post about POST VIEWS

But really if the post views stopped tomorrow… I would continue blogging. Most of the 19,000 post views have likely been by my mother anyway! I’m not blogging for fame or fortune (that’s why I dance). I blog to motivate myself to get out there and live. I do it because I love to write, about whatever. This blog has made my life better. Not because I have written 140+ posts, although I enjoyed writing (almost) every one of them. Not because the blog has been viewed by others, although I’m happy if someone finds it entertaining, interesting, or helpful. The blog has made my life better by helping me take life by the horns instead of the tail, by motivating me to live a full life. Anything I’m inspired to do goes into my Bucket List, then I post a plan, once these things are “out there” it is a lot easier to make them happen!

Now I got to wrap this up so I can see if this is my all-time best post view day!

Update (6/13/2013): This post has tags and a topic that seem to be magnets for likes, comments, and follows from folks that have blogs that “show the way to make money from your blog”. Before you check these great deals out check out this post: http://upstartblogger.com/10-easy-ways-to-spot-a-blogging-scam/. As for me, I think I said it above, but to be clear… I’m not in this for money, I get too much from this to change a thing about my blog for “more traffic”. Anyway, be careful out there if you want to find out “how to make money from your blog”. Is it possible? I’m sure it is, but I don’t think there is a formulaic method. Want to know how to get more traffic, write more, write well, write about interesting things, be helpful to others, etc. Happy Blogging All!

I’m adding a new category to my blog to plan and describe some of weekend projects around my house. I’ve been feeling guilty for not hiking or sailing as much lately. When I sat down to think about it I decided that it was a combination of the big running goal, preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon, and all the weekend projects needed to get settled into our new home. Even the running has dropped off lately with my injured calf, so that took the guilt up a notch. But I’m not spending a bunch of time on the couch… I’m getting things done around the house. When you first move in to a new house the number of things on your Honey Do list can be overwhelming. Unpack, organize, donate, fill new spaces, yard, garage, and the list goes on and on. After a few months the surge of immediate to-dos have been taken care of and it’s time for some projects that should be more fun, or at least pretty rewarding. This is the third home I’ve owned and some of the things that sounded like fun before, like landscaping aren’t as appealing anymore. Maintaining and improving the landscape once it’s in will be fun but things like trenching for sprinklers, laying a patio, and other hardscape projects can be done by a contractor this time!

My first “fun” project was coating my garage floor with epoxy. It turned out great, but there were definitely some lessons learned. This will be my first post in the new category.

Rustoleum Epoxy Garage Coat Applied

Next on our weekend project list was painting. The biggest challenge here is picking colors that work for the space, and since our house has a fairly open floor plan, the colors have to work together. We had a good idea of the color we wanted in the guest bathroom, so this was the first one to tackle. In this picture the tape was still up and I hadn’t painted the shower area, but the color was exactly what we wanted in this bathroom.

Painting the Guest Bathroom

Future projects include a shelf for shoes in the master bedroom closet, a built-in entertainment center in the family room, adding the speakers for the pre-wired surround sound in the family room, and putting a wine cellar in the large walk-in space behind our garage. I can think of others, but want to keep the list manageable to be sure I still have time to travel, hike, paddle, sail, work-out, and prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon. However, weekend projects around the house are a rewarding part of a full life, so I will add info about mine to this blog.

San Diego Half Marathon near 10K mark
I’ve completed 2 half marathons since I started planning for the Marine Corps Marathon 2013. My early planning and research started in March 2012. I had just decided to do a Marathon, and my first post was really about making the decision, thinking about what it would take to go from my average run distance of 3-5 miles to running 26.2 miles. The next post focused more on what it would take to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon, actually more complicated than I thought as this is a very, very popular race. It also covered a more serious look at some training plans and training advice for “older runners”.

Although there have been some glitches in the system, including a 5 week gap in training for my first half marathon due to a back injury, I’ve followed the original plan fairly closely. I have made adjustments to the “published plans” due to my age. Most of those call for running 4 days a week. I run 3 days a week when I’m in serious training. I run a shorter run at the beginning of the week, then add a couple miles 2-3 days later, and do a long run on Sunday. If I get sore I stretch, get on the elliptical in the gym to work out the soreness, and get in a hot tub to help with my biggest issue tight muscles.

Crossing the finish at Americas Finest City Half Marathon 2012

My first half marathon result was OK, but I did not achieve my goal for the Americas Finest City Half Marathon last August. Unexpected heat left me drained and dripping sweat near the finish of the AFC Half MarathonPart of the problem was the unusual heat… I was not the only one dripping sweat on this race. The other issue was my training plan, not enough long runs and no hills during training. So I adjust my training plan to ensure I had more long runs before the San Diego Half Marathon, and to make sure I ran plenty of hills, not all flat training runs. I recorded those training runs on a new MCM Training Log page (transitioned to a post after the marathon) to keep me honest, and so that I could see how well the training adjustments would work. I have started a new table at the top of the page to record the training runs for my next race. The adjustments to my training plan and the training log both worked better than I expected. Even though I was sick with a cold on the day of the San Diego Half Marathon, I exceeded my goal easily and had my best pace on a long run with or without a hill. With a goal of 10 minute miles and a result of 9:25 minute miles, I felt good about my training plan, and it started me thinking more aggressively about my goals for the next half marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. But to have more aggressive goals, I’ll need more a more aggressive training plan.

The Rock and Roll Half Marathon – San Diego on 2 June 2013 will actually have very few uphill sections and finishes lower than it starts. This will help me get a personal best, but it may not be a good test for the Marine Corps Marathon. I’ll have nearly 5 months after that race to train for the Marine Corps Marathon. This is almost too long for an old guy like me to keep running weekly runs between 10 and 20 miles. So I need a good plan to train and recover multiple times during that 4 months. So I’ll divide that time into 2-3 different training cycles of about 6 weeks with time (1-2 weeks) to recover in between the training cycles. So possibly a build up to 16 mile long runs in the first cycle, 18 in the second, and 20 in the third. Of course plenty of stretching and soaking in the hot tub will help keep me loose and hopefully injury free.

Finally, it is time to get serious about losing 15-20 pounds. I expected my weight to drop when I started running 20 miles a week, but it has not dropped at all, not 1 pound. Nothing magical here, I just need to eat less, and more health foods. Less sugar, less fat, more fruits and vegetables! I don’t think my legs will be happy with 15-20 mile runs at 215 pounds. They may not be ecstatic about 195 either, but they will be happier!

OK, it’s time to put it out there! What are my goals?

San Diego Half Marathon: average of 9 minute miles and well under 2 hours.
Marine Corps Marathon: Nothing novel here, I just want to beat Oprah’s time! She ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:29:15 with 10:16 minute miles. So my goal… 10 minute miles and around 4:20.