Streaking Into 2019.

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Resolutions

I like New Year’s resolutions, although I used to think they were dumb (you can change any time of the year). Life is short, so we should celebrate when people want to better themselves. Personally, I found that I tended to start new things on beginnings in our calendar system, such as starting a new workout routine on a Monday, or a diet on the first of the month. What better time to make a life change than the first of the year?

I have made resolutions to lose weight, walk a lot, and take time away from social media. This last year was all about consistency. I had two daily goals for 2018: read and close all three activity rings on my Apple watch. The former was motivated by a desire to be a better writer and the latter was motivated by my pal Justin who is now well on his way to 500 consecutive days of working out. I succeeded, in large part, by following the same approach as my friend Ross, who wrote about his similar goals for consistency:

The basic answer is to focus on just a couple of things and to integrate those things into your daily life.

I am a numbers kind of scientist, so below you will find details and statistics about each resolution. This post is deeply navel-gazing, but I hope it might serve as some motivation for your 2019 goals.

Reading

As a scientist, I write often: manuscripts, course notes, peer reviews, presentations, proposals, and more. I also stepped out of this arena to write fiction by participating in NaNoWriMo 2018. In preparation, I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft. He offered this useful advice:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

I have a wife, two children under age five, and a full-time job. Related to the aforementioned activity ring challenge, I also like to get in some type of daily physical activity. That is a long-winded and whiny way of saying that my time is constrained. Given my commitments, it would have been self-defeating to proclaim that I would match the efforts of some friends who read a book a week. I decided to set a goal to read an average of 30 pages every day and complete at least 12 books in 2018.

How you frame your goals is as important as following through. I allowed myself daily deviations from 30 pages by shooting for an average. Not to mention that 10,950 pages should hopefully be more than 12 books. I purposely set a low bar for an easy win in that case. On the other hand, a goal that is too vague can make success seem impossible; be specific and realistic.

I used two apps to track my progress. Goodreads is my long-term solution to tracking what books I have read, planning what to read next, and writing reviews. The service has a social component and I often find useful recommendations and additional motivation from friends. Bookly is the app I used to track my daily reading progress. I also bought the pro upgrade for its added features. I really like its interface, built-in statistics, and automation support (Hey, Siri, start reading).

I achieved my 2018 reading goals. Here are the relevant details.

Reading Stats My 2018 reading stats

I came across a few observations during this project. First, I am a relatively slow reader. Second, 19 (and 30% into 20) books is not very impressive, but the average length of each book (~570 pages) was above average. Finally, I read as few as 10 pages in a day and as many as 168. That last one is a good reminder that goals can be achieved through small steps, no matter how modest.

Workout Rings

I previously wrote about my love of the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch can track fitness activity, where users are encouraged to “close” three activity rings. The Move ring is closed when the wearer burns a set number of active calories (my daily goal was 500 calories), the Exercise ring is closed after she completes 30 minutes of brisk activity, and the Stand ring is closed after she stands for at least one minute during 12 different hours.

I spend a lot of time sitting at a computer writing code, so I had to make a conscious effort to achieve the stand goal. Which is the point of the ring system; I was forced to think about about being active every day. There were a few close calls (especially during travel), but I met my goal of closing all three rings every day. Here is what a year of activity rings looks like.

Activity Rings My 2018 activity rings

Mini-Streaks

Although I didn’t set out to do so at the beginning of the year, I also completed a few mini-streaks in 2018.

NaNoWriMo: I’ve long felt like there are some cool stories locked in my head. However, between my kids and lack of confidence, I always put off writing a novel. My pal Marissa Mohi is a writer, but more importantly she is hilarious, self-deprecating, and inspiring. Her series of videos on writing really motivated my desire to write this year. I told her on Twitter that I was thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and she encouraged me to do so. My wife, who always supports whatever hair-brained thing I want to do, did the same. Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement from someone you love and someone who is good at what you want to try.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words (a healthy start to a novel) in the month of November. This can be daunting due to the tight timeline. You have to average 1,667 words per day to reach the goal, so even one missed or lackluster day can put you way behind. Given my busy schedule, I decided at the start to focus on consistency since I knew playing catch-up would be very hard. As plans often go, I immediately fell behind in the first two days, only achieving 800 pages per day. Damn, two days in and already one day behind. I am glad that I stuck with it by distributing the needed words over the remaining days. I hit 50,585 words on November 30. Based on my time-logging app, I spent 57 hours and 35 minutes to achieve this goal. That sounds like a lot (it is!), but it is doable when broken down into small chunks.

So, what’s the book? I am not telling. For one, it is not yet complete. For another, it is in a sorry state of prose and logic and will require substantive editing. Stay tuned!

Writing Stats My 2018 NaNoWriMo writing stats

Water logging: This is a short one, but I started tracking water intake later in 2018 as part of my health objectives. I used the app WaterMinder and successfully drank at least 100 oz. of fluid every day for the final 100 days of 2018. I also made use of Streaks to track my progress for all of the above goals.

Your Resolutions

Thank you for enduring this post. I promise the goal was not humble-braggery, rather I know how important a little motivation can be to accomplishing your goals. As I wrote at the start of 2017, there is nothing special about me (seriously, see gashed shin). I’m a regular guy and I like to challenge myself. You can do the same. Remember: You will want to quit, so persevere; Life does not care about your plans, so adjust; Support is important, so ignore resolution grinches; You have goals, so do the work and accomplish them. As for my 2019 goals, I will report back. Until then, good luck!


Farewell to the First Apple Watch.

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Apple unveiled the original Apple Watch on September 9, 2014 as a “one-more-thing” during their iPhone event.

Back then I was a serious post-doctoral scientist doing serious scientific things.

I recall knowing immediately that I wanted the device. I didn’t exactly know why I wanted it, or what purpose it would serve. As it turns out, neither did Apple. The Apple Watch was originally marketed as an app-centric device that played to fashion and communication. In the intervening years, it was clear that apps did not drive the Watch like they did on the iPhone. The screen was small and using apps with multiple levels of navigation was tedious. However, the device excelled at a few things: health, fitness, notifications, and communication. That is certainly how I primarily used the Watch.

The Apple Watch finally went on sale at the end of April in 2015 and I received mine soon thereafter. While it may look outdated now, I felt like I was wearing the future on my wrist.

It was around this time that my wife and I were planning a move from Oklahoma to Utah so that she could pursue a medical fellowship at the University of Utah. I did not handle the stress well and started to gain weight, which is something that I have struggled with since childhood. By the time we arrived in Utah that June, I had gained some 25-30 pounds. I felt bad, both physically and mentally, and was determined to stop the downward spiral before it overtook me. So, I enlisted the new Apple Watch to track my activity, which included P90X workouts and other exercises like walking, running, cycling, and more. The Apple Watch essentially gameified my fitness. It worked! I lost 21 pounds, gained muscle, and felt great.

While there were ups and downs in the years to follow, the Apple Watch remained a useful tool to manage my health and fitness. Although my friends know me as an Apple fanboy and a frequent upgrader, life and kids happened so I was content with the original Series 0 Watch. It served me well for 1,224 days, up until I recently bought the redesigned Apple Watch Series 4 (I’ll write about my initial thoughts in a separate post). Here are some statistics showing what the Apple Watch helped me track over more than three years.

  • 1,064 workouts
    • 400 P90X, P90X3, Yoga
    • 343 running
    • 244 walking
    • 63 rowing
    • 14 cycling
  • 58,483 minutes of exercise
  • 2,235 miles of walking and running
  • 290,794 calories burned
  • Move Ring closed 1,112 times (91%)
  • Exercise Ring closed 1,102 times (90%)
  • Stand Ring closed 1,175 times (96%)

It is a completely first-world thing to get nostalgic about a piece of disposable hardware, but here I am. I wore the Apple Watch every day for over three years and it helped me manage my worst impulses in self-care. It was one of the best pieces of technology that I have ever owned and I look forward to what the Series 4 has to offer. Until then – good bye, friend.


TL;DR

I turned 33 on March 22. To celebrate, I will move my body 33 miles on April 29 with a goal to raise $3333 for Teen Recovery Solutions (TRS). I need your help, so I request that you sponsor my run with a donation to TRS. Visit the TRS donation page before April 29 and enter gibbs33 in the Donation Note box (see below for what this looks like). This code will allow TRS to track our progress. Please consider sharing this page so that we can reach our goal.

how to donate

Read below for more details and follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates.

Motivation

I turned 33 on March 22. Last year I realized that I no longer cared about receiving gifts. I found that it is far more fun trying to express appreciation for those who make life better for others. As I said last year, I was raised with the idea that when people invest in you and your dreams, you should act in kind when possible.

I want to do something meaningful for my birthday and I need your help. As I wrote earlier this year, I love walking/jogging/running because it allows me time to think. Once again, I want to raise money for a worthy cause in exchange for a long walk/jog/run. This year I want us to all help Teen Recovery Solutions (TRS).

Why Teen Recovery Solutions?

I spent the first 31 years of my life in Oklahoma. It is my home. I saw firsthand in junior high and high school how addiction can negatively impact people’s lives. Unfortunately, society often allows these people to fall through the cracks. Based on data from the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 5% and 4% of Oklahoma high school students aged 12-17 needed, but did not receive, treatment for alcohol and illicit drug abuse, respectively, in 2009-2010. From 2011-2013, Oklahoma had the 14th-highest rate of youth drug overdose deaths in the nation. That rate represented a 300% increase over the preceding 12 years. If we all believe in the Oklahoma Standard, then these statistics are not acceptable.

TRS has provided long-term addiction recovery tools for Oklahoma City teens and their families since 2000. TRS began by offering financial assistance to qualifying parents unable to afford the high cost of residential treatment programs. Upon seeing how many teens relapsed into abuse after they returned to their home high schools, TRS began a recovery high school in 2006. Mission Academy High School is one of only 37 recovery high schools in the United States. In 2012, TRS launched an alternative peer group after seeing the need for a teen recovery community for after-school and weekend support. Mission Peer Group provides teens with weekly and weekend positive social activities, individual and group counseling, family support groups, age-appropriate recovery meetings, and regular retreats. In 2014, TRS added the Real Talk for Teens series to focus on prevention by educating teens about the realities of substance abuse.

Why give to TRS? These teens are our future and helping them recover from addiction is our moral imperative – allowing them to suffer unattended is our shame. If our elected leaders do not prioritize aiding their plight, then let’s do it on our own. I want to help organizations such as TRS so that every teen has the opportunity to lead a happy and fulfilling life and every family can rejoice in watching their children prosper.

The Goal

I want to raise at least $3333 for Teen Recovery Solutions. So, 33 miles for my 33rd birthday in an effort to raise $3333. I happen to think this is a modest goal. I believe we can beat that number. Help me make a small dent in the operational needs of TRS. Let us do a good thing.

Can I Do It?

Yes. You can trust that I will honor my commitment of 33 miles. Why? I completed the 2012 OKC Memorial Marathon with my wife through a combination of walking and jogging. In 2016, my wife and I signed up as a team for a run/walk challenge and I completed 1600 miles. Last year I successfully completed 32 miles for Oklahoma Foster Wishes for my 32nd birthday, where we raised very close to our goal of $3200. More importantly, my friends and family will tell you that I am notorious for setting crazy goals and seeing them through.

Life is short. 33 miles is even shorter.

Details

I plan to move my body 33 miles on Saturday, April 29. That will give me 4-5 weeks to get in better shape and to collect donations.

I never concern myself with speed. My knees are getting old enough that running the whole time is unlikely. I prefer a deliberate walk and jog. I am not an athlete, so do not expect world record speeds. I estimate that it might take me 7.5-9.5 hours. Last year, I finished 32 miles in a little over 8.5 hours.

I need your help to make this happen. Every donation matters, no matter how small. I worked with TRS to create a tracking code for our effort. Here is how to donate1:

  1. Visit the TRS donation page
  2. Fill out the web form and select a donation amount.
  3. Be sure to type gibbs33 in the Donation Note box.

Please Share

I would appreciate if you would share a link to this page.

Keep Updated

TRS will update me on the status of donations every week. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with our progress.

Thank You

Your donation will help TRS improve the lives of teens in Oklahoma. I am very thankful for your support.


  1. Note, this donation is tax-deductible if that is something that matters to you. ↩︎


Three Years Later.

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Our son Everett joined my wife and I on this day three years ago. His first year molded us into parents, while the second year allowed us to take the smallest of steps backward to watch him bloom. As I wrote last year, the pace of life is disquieting. As I reflect on his third year, I am once again astonished at how a single year can seem like a second.

Three years. In a flash.

If the second year was an unspoken transition, then the third was a year of growth.

Everett’s knowledge has grown so much this year. Every time he proudly shares something that he learned at preschool, each problem that he diligently solves, whenever he speaks a long sentence using words that I was unaware he knew, the times we catch him singing a new song, or when he understands that someone is feeling bad and tries to cheer them up - those are my Christmas morning. I had a lot of Christmas mornings this year.

Growth is, of course, most apparent physically. It is easy to miss incremental height changes in your child, but occasionally you look away for a second or you reminisce with old photos. In these moments you are forced to add up all of those small changes. I know it must be one of those things that non-parents find so very annoying, but when you fully appreciate the sum total of that growth, your brain quite simply cannot believe it. No matter how many times his new shoes or clothes let slip that he was growing, I always found myself stupefied.

Just as Everett grew this past year, so did our family. We welcomed Campbell on February 2, 2017. It was the joy of a lifetime to watch Everett share in the process. He loved to hear Campbell’s heartbeat and look at his ultrasound photos, he was fascinated by my wife’s growing belly, and during the third trimester he developed a sympathy pregnancy. One of our favorite memories was introducing Everett to his baby brother. Although he was initially unimpressed, “Hey! Campbell’s not talking!” (exit stage left), he is proud to tell us everyday that he is a big brother. Watching Everett’s love grow beyond the two of us has been a wonderful experience.

No matter what the next year brings, let us grow together.

Happy Birthday, Everett.

Two years


Campbell David Gibbs.

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I hope you will indulge me in an expanded version of my previous short story. Almost 30 years ago, a boy was born in Oklahoma. Ten days later, a girl was born in Germany.

Babies

Fate made their paths cross in the 7th grade. They were best of friends. Unfortunately, the boy had to move away in 10th grade and they lost touch.

Babies

After three years apart, fate would once again force their paths to cross while at college. The boy (finally) asked the girl out in October of their freshman year.

Babies

Nine years later, the boy asked the girl to marry him. She said yes.

Babies

The boy and girl were wed following a two-year engagement.

Babies

After two years, the boy and girl learned their family would grow.

Babies

The boy and girl finally met their new son. Everett Hines Gibbs. He arrived at 4:45a, weighed 8 lbs. 3 oz., and was 21”.

Babies

The boy’s world grew from one to two.

Babies

The boy, the girl, and their son enjoyed life together.

Babies

They moved from Oklahoma to Utah and had a lot of adventures.

Babies

After more than two years as a group of three, the boy, the girl, and the son learned their family would grow.

Babies

Today, the boy, the girl, and the son finally met their new son and brother. Campbell David Gibbs. He arrived at 12:46p, weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz., and was 19.75”.

Babies

That is the short story of how the boy’s world grew from two to three.

Babies


1,600 Miles.

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Shoes These shoes were made for walking.

The Goal

My wife and I signed up for a walking/running challenge on New Year’s Eve 2015. The idea of Run The Year 2016 was simple – an individual or team tries to walk/jog/run for a total of 2,016 miles during the year. That amounted to a daily average of approximately 5.5 miles. Due to my wife’s hectic work schedule, we decided that I would do 1,464 miles (4/day) and she was on the hook for the remaining 552 (~1.5/day). My wife and I announced her pregnancy in August, which complicated the running plan toward the end of the year. We adjusted my responsibility to 1,600 miles to reduce her burden. As a non-athlete, the thought of moving my body an average of 4.37 miles every day was daunting. But what is life if not an opportunity to challenge your own abilities?

Walking vs. Running

The vast majority of my miles came by way of walking. I am perfectly capable of running the entire distance (I did several times), but I find that doing so requires a lot of mental overhead in terms of breathing and pacing. I favor a brisk walk because it allows my mind the freedom to appreciate the beautiful Utah scenery, to work through whatever problems are running through my head, and to simply exercise my imagination. With running, the goal is to spend the least amount of time moving over a particular distance. I prefer not to feel rushed.

Stats

There were twists and turns, but I hit 1,600 miles on December 31. Statistics and tidbits are presented here to illustrate the journey.

  • 318 runs (87% of days)
  • 5.03 miles per workout (median = 4.1 miles, standard deviation = 2.3 miles)
  • My longest streak was 32 days
  • The longest workout was 32 miles and the shortest was 0.62 miles
  • The fewest miles in a month was 92 (June), while the most was 210 (December)
  • Weather included heavy snow, fog, smog, rain, strong winds, brutal UV indices, single-digit and triple-digit temperatures
  • I endured a broken toe and a gashed shin

As noted, I missed 48 days. Many of those were rest days, while others were due to travel and life not caring about my plans. Regardless, I was able to remain very steady. The figure below shows cumulative miles (orange) and the pace line (dashed black). You’ll notice the bump in June when I did 32 miles, followed by dips in late June and September that were caused by travel. The steep slope at the end shows my effort to adjust to the new goal of 1,600 miles and to make up for lost time.

Cumulative miles Cumulative miles.

These subtleties are seen by breaking the workouts down into monthly summaries. My output remained fairly steady through the first two-thirds of the year. September made things difficult and then my goal changed in late October – both of which put me in a hole. You can see what it took to climb out.

Monthly miles Monthly breakdown of miles.

Beyond my own nerdy desire to see what a successful year-long goal looked like, these graphs hopefully show you that a seemingly impossible goal is attained through consistent work.

Your Resolutions

This post is not designed as an exercise in dreaded humble-braggery. There are people who train by running 100 miles in a week, so averaging 133 in a month is not really all that impressive. My intention is the opposite. As we enter the season where you might be setting goals for 2017, I hope that my 2016 success will inspire you to achieve whatever it is that you want to accomplish. There is nothing special about me (seriously, see gashed shin). I’m a regular guy and I like to challenge myself. You can do the same.

I have a few takeaways from last year that I hope will help you frame your goals.

First, you will want to quit. The first day of a new goal is euphoric, but on the next day you will find that nasty voice in your head telling you to stop. Our brains are very good at trying to make our existence as easy as possible, and that voice is very persuasive. Ignore it. I found that after a couple of weeks the voice was reduced to a whisper and I finally told it to shut up.

Life does not care about your goals. Unexpected things will happen and your perfectly laid plans will go to shit. Do not let this make you quit. Instead, get rid of the guilt and move on. You have to be okay with failing.

Support is important. I could not have finished 1,600 miles without the encouragement of my wife. Tell someone your goal, because even having just one person who believes in you will make a huge difference.

Along with people who make earnest New Year’s goals are the resolution grinches who belittle them. Treat these people like your voice of doubt above and ignore them. Your life is short, so anything that you want to do to improve your limited time on Earth is worthwhile.

If you have goals, accomplish them. You need not be special, only determined. Ignore those who doubt you. Embrace those who help you. Regarding these things, poet Eminem said:

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo

No matter what your 1,600 miles are this year, enjoy the journey. As for my own 2017 goals, I will report back in a year. Until then, good luck!


'Twas The Night Before the Election.

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‘Twas the night before the election and all through the House, only Paul Ryan was stirring, like a sad listless mouse;

His chamber’s majority he knew he would hold, but the Senate was dicey and he felt very cold;

The voters were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of ballots danced in their heads;

And Donald in Michigan and Clinton in Philly, they made one last pitch, the air - it was chilly;

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, Ryan sprang from his chair to see what was the matter;

Away to the window he flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash;

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Psyche! Just kidding. Climate change, yo;

When what to his wondering eyes did appear, But a vision of Lincoln, had he drunk too much beer?

With a tall lanky driver so lively and quick, What was he seeing, this must be a trick;

More rapid than eagles his friends they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now Teddy! Now Ike! Now Reagan! Even, Romney! My goodness, that Trump, what has he done to my party?”

“He courted the racists and planned a big wall, Immigrants and muslims, he said ‘ban them all’”;

“He boasted of assault and claimed it as privilege, In the inner cities he said that blacks would pillage”;

“He fought with the family of a soldier who died, He mocked a reporter, and when confronted he lied”;

“To women he hated, he called them fat pigs, To everyone who crossed him, he got in his digs”;

“His commercials were often anti-semitic, He yelled and he tweeted at all of his critics”;

“He derided a war hero, said he shouldn’t have been caught, he claimed bone spurs, you can bet he never fought”;

As Ryan drew in his head, and was turning around, Down the chimney Abe Lincoln came with a bound;

He was dressed all in black, from his head to his foot, And his top hat was tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of papers he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack;

His eyes—how they glistened! his dimples, not merry! He approached the Speaker, and his path he did parry;

His slim little mouth was drawn down in a cinch, And his beard was dark, befitting a grinch;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a thin face and not much of a belly, In the background a Trump ad played on the telly;

He was tall and commanding, not much like an elf, And Ryan flinched when he saw him, in spite of himself;

A tear in his eye and a bow of his head, Soon gave Ryan to know he had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, He checked Clinton on his ballot; then turned with a jerk,

“How could you Lincoln?” Ryan asked, nearly spit, “How could I not, Donald Trump is not fit!”

In conclusion he said, “What this party sows, so shall it reap”, And as he departed, Lincoln did weep.


Five Years.

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Today my wife and I celebrate five years of marriage. Five years. Five. Years.

It feels like five minutes.

Too fast.

But numbers do not lie. Five years ago we were in Florida getting married and enjoying our honeymoon at Disney World.

Holding Hands Just married.

Little did I know then how many great things were ahead of us. We have completed a marathon together, we have traveled internationally, we adopted a puppy, and we had a son. In that last one, my wife gave me the best thing to ever happen in my life - Everett. We have celebrated two birthdays with Everett and look forward to many more. Our first, second, third, and fourth years1 of marriage were memorable.

Holding Hands Everett.

This year was like every year with Larissa - filled with adventure

Holding Hands Skiing in Utah.

after adventure

Holding Hands Rafting the Merced River in California.

after adventure.

Holding Hands Celebrating our five-year anniversary in Yosemite.

During our five years of marriage we have argued and we have agreed. We have raised our voices and we have whispered. We have been angry and we have loved. We have frustrated one another and we have inspired each other. The important thing through our journey is that we have been we.

I don’t know what the next five years will hold. If they are anything like the previous five, then I look forward to all of the memories our family will make - together.

Holding Hands The three of us.


  1. Notice the fourth year is missing a link. We were busy packing to move across the country from the only home we’ve known - and I missed posting. Trust me, it was a fantastic year. ↩︎


Help Me Raise Money For OK Foster Wishes.

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TL;DR

I turned 32 on March 22. To celebrate, I will move my body 32 miles on June 18 with a goal to raise at least $3200 for OK Foster Wishes. I need your help, so I request that you sponsor me with a donation. Click the button below. When reviewing the donation, be sure to click Add special instructions to the seller and type code jeremy32 in the box (see below for what this looks like). This code will allow OKFW to track our progress. Please consider sharing this page so that we can reach as many people as possible.


donate

donate

Read below for more details and follow me on Twitter for updates.

Motivation

I turned 32 on March 22. When young, birthdays are celebrated milestones on our march toward adulthood. As we age, they become celebrated evasions of our inevitable mortal end. Part of this natural transition is a shift in what we view as a gift. For a ten-year-old, that gift might be a new video game, while for a thirty-two-year-old, that gift might be an appreciation for everything they have. We shift from wanting to receive to wanting to give. I was raised with the idea that when people invest in you and your dreams, you should act in kind when in a position to do so. This may all sound hokey, but I believe it sincerely.

All of that is to say that I want to do something meaningful for my birthday and I need your help. I love jogging/walking because it gives me time to think. On one such jog in March, I thought, “Dude! What if you walked 32 miles for your 32nd birthday?” I replied to myself, “Look, you know I am game, but that’s not enough. Let’s make it cooler by raising money and awareness for an awesome cause.” I thought a little more and said, “Good idea, I should have thought of that. But who?” After another mile, it was an easy choice. OK Foster Wishes (OKFW).

Why OK Foster Wishes?

I spent the first 31 years of my life in Oklahoma. My wife, Larissa, and I moved to Utah last year in support of her fellowship. Although we live in Salt Lake City, our hearts remain in Oklahoma, which is why I thought of OKFW. Larissa is a board-certified pediatrician who focuses on child-abuse and neglect. While working in the Fostering Hope Clinic during her residency at the University of Oklahoma, Larissa became aware of OKFW through her mentor, Dr. Deborah Shropshire. When I learned about the Christmas Wishes program, I fell in love with their organization. For this program, OKFW coordinates with the Oklahoma DHS to receive foster children’s Christmas wish lists, which are then distributed to organizations and individuals to fulfill directly. OKFW does so much more, including coordinating volunteer efforts in the community, promoting the importance of art, celebrating teens who graduate high school while in foster care, and more.

Why are these efforts so important? According to the OKDHS 2015 Annual Report, there were almost 11,000 Oklahoma children in out-of-home care. Oklahoma Fosters reports that number may exceed 12,000 on any given day. Based on census estimates, that means around 12 in 1000 children in Oklahoma are in the OKDHS system. Sadly, this problem is apparently beyond the resources allocated by the state government, which makes organizations like OKFW so valuable. While some in the Oklahoma legislature prioritize irresponsible tax cuts and writing/defending unconstitutional laws, our children are left to suffer. For instance, recent budget cuts might end the Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention Service.

Why give to OKFW? Because these children have a hard life through no fault of their own. If our elected leaders do not prioritize aiding their plight, then let’s do it on our own. I want to help organizations such as OKFW so that every child might have the same opportunities that my son does - to have a happy and healthy childhood filled with love and support.

The Goal

I want to raise at least $3200 for OK Foster Wishes. So, 32 miles for my 32nd birthday in an effort to raise $3200. I happen to think this is a modest goal. I believe we can crush that number.

Can I Do It?

Yes. You can trust that I will honor my commitment of 32 miles. Why? I completed the 2012 OKC Memorial Marathon with my wife through a combination of walking and jogging. This year, my wife and I signed up as a team for Run The Year. As of this writing, I have walked/jogged on 86 of 97 days for a total of 405 miles. More importantly, my friends and family will tell you that I am notorious for setting crazy goals and seeing them through. Life is short. 32 miles is even shorter.

Details

I plan to move my body 32 miles on Saturday, June 18. That will give me around 10 weeks to get in better shape and to collect donations.

I never concern myself with speed. My knees are getting old enough that running the whole time is unlikely. I prefer a deliberate walk and jog. I am not an athlete, so do not expect world record speeds. I estimate that it might take me 7-9 hours.

I need your help to make this happen. Every donation matters, no matter how small. I worked with OKFW to create a tracking code for our effort. Here is how to donate1:

  1. Click on this donate button
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My Favorite Podcasts.

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As I wrote when discussing my foray into audiobooks, I love podcasts. Podcasts are superior to traditional radio because they are on-demand, anyone can make them, and they generally contain only a few tasteful advertisements. In short, podcasts are about the content.

I shared my list of favorite podcasts when I first started listening in 2012. That list has changed significantly, so I present here the current podcasts that I most admire.

Technology

The Talk Show

The Talk Show is hosted by John Gruber, who has described his podcast as the director’s commentary for his website, Daring Fireball. The Talk Show is Apple-centric, but Gruber often discusses broader topics in technology and pop culture, such as baseball and movies.

I probably listen to more than 20 technology podcasts, but doing so is becoming difficult. Many technology podcasts are part of incestuous networks. Hosts on these networks are on multiple shows and they all just talk about the same topics. Even worse, a good portion of them spend so much time navel-gazing about their own podcasting careers that I want to barf.

While I was drawn to Gruber’s podcast because of my Apple fandom, I find his independent voice most appealing. He is smart, has strong viewpoints, and welcomes interesting guests. In fact, The Talk Show has featured three Apple executives (Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and Eddy Cue) over the past year. I respect his opinions, whether or not I agree with them. I highly recommend The Talk Show.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Exponent

Exponent is a hybrid podcast. Ben Thompson and James Allworth competently cover technology topics with a savvy business slant. My preamble is short, but the list of reasons for why I love Exponent is long. Simply put, I always feel smarter for having listened.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Storytelling

Serial

As described on its website, Serial “tells one story — a true story — over the course of a season.” The first season was a sensation. It covered the case of Adnan Syed, who was charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The second season, currently in production, covers the case of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who was held hostage by the Taliban for nearly five years. Bergdahl is now facing court-martial for the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. Host Sarah Koenig is charming and I admire her narration style. Serial is really good and I think you will agree.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Lore

I happened upon Lore by chance one morning during a desperate search for new podcasts after having exhausted all of mine. Lore had only one episode at the time, but the description caught my attention. As it turns out, that means I got in on the ground floor of an award-winning podcast.

Lore is produced by author Aaron Mahnke and explores the historical origins of scary stories. I am a big fan of the horror/supernatural genre and love Lore because, as the show’s tagline says, sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction. If you love a good story, I think you will love Lore.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Society and Culture

Roderick on the Line

I am not sure how to describe ROTL beyond its own definition - “a frank and candid weekly phone call between John Roderick and Merlin Mann.” Roderick is the lead singer of The Long Winters, while Mann is widely known as a productivity guru. These conversations are often hilarious and I love the banter. But do not confuse the show as total nonsense. Many episodes touch on real topics that are discussed with a rare and vulnerable honesty, including mental illness, drugs, relationships, parenting, and fear. The show is remarkably evergreen, so you can feel free to listen to the entire catalog of episodes.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

WTF with Marc Maron

WTF will show up in various podcasting lists under Comedy. Marc Maron is a stand-up comic and he often interviews comics. But I do not think his podcast is a comedy show. Maron interviews guests in his garage. One such guest was President Obama. Maron covers the generalities of each person’s career and industry, but by the end of each show has extracted their deeply personal stories. For instance, Robin Williams appeared on WTF a few years before his suicide and discussed his inner demons - alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. I think Maron is a gifted interviewer and an astute observer who uses comedy and a garage to put people at ease.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Sports and Entertainment

Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons contentiously parted ways with ESPN last year. I cannot stand ESPN’s repurposed radio-as-podcast formats, so Simmons’ show is a welcome respite. This podcast is the latest incarnation of his witty take on sports and culture. Simmons is knowledgable, smart, abrasive, and controversial. I am not as obsessed about sports as when I was younger, but I often listen to Simmons when I want to catch up.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

I do not have anything too fancy to say here. This podcast features roundtable conversations about books, movies, television, comedy, and music. The hosts are pretty engaging and I enjoy the show.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

News and Politics

538 Elections

As my followers and friends know, I am a political junkie. However, I long ago tired of traditional political coverage. Most shows generally feature partisan dolts who do nothing other than speak to make their respective echo chambers just a little louder. The “analysis” presented in mainstream political media is largely just a bunch of unconvincing anecdotes and obvious attempts to steer a preferred narrative.

The 538 group, led by Nate Silver, approaches politics from an analytics perspective. Nate Silver made a name for himself in politics by correctly predicting results in 99 of 100 states during the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential elections. Silver uses polling and modeling to arrive at his predictions, which has long frustrated traditional political talking-heads. The hosts try to apply the same evidence-based logic to their discussions.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Candidate Confessional

The Huffington Posts’s Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis talk to people who have run for public office and lost. The show is surprisingly fun and does a great job of humanizing politicians. I consider myself to be left-of-middle politically, but the episodes featuring Tim Pawlenty and Michael Steele had me wanting to go have a beer with two people whose policies I strongly dislike. Every little thing that can help us maintain our humanity in the face of increased polarization is a good thing.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Honorable Mention

Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Road Work

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

The Ezra Klein Show

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

HumaNature

Subscribe: iTunes

Writers on Writing

Subscribe: iTunes

The Poetry Magazine Podcast

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Ctrl-Walt-Delete

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

MacBreak Weekly

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Accidental Tech Podcast

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS