Alcohol + Late Dinner + Fast Pace = Discomfort

Just back from this morning's run - the last long(ish) run before the Brooklyn half-marathon on Saturday.

Last night, I enjoyed a drink with a good friend in the 35th floor bar at the Mandarin Oriental (overlooking Central Park and the East Side of Manhattan), followed by a great dinner with Katherine, the friend, and his wife. Even though it was around 11 by the time we got home, I stayed up to watch American Idol (David Cook was excellent as always) - meaning it was a late night.

It's clear and cool in the city this morning - I actually went back to tights and a long-sleeved t-shirt. My plan was to do the 5.2 mile loop in Central Park at a slightly fast pace - something around my target race speed, which would be 8:40 per mile. I felt pretty uncomfortable the entire time I was running, which I attributed to last night's drinks, late dinner, and late bedtime.

Turns out I was also uncomfortable because of the pace at which I was running - just under 8 minutes per mile on average for the park loop!

I've got a short, easy run planned for tomorrow - followed by a day of rest and the race on Saturday.

NYT Article on Flickr

For those of you interested in phototgraphy, last Sunday's New York Times had a great article by Virginia Heffernan on Flickr and the emergence of a 'flickr style'. The article's opening paragraph really grabbed me:
Let’s face facts: the Web, after nearly 20 years, has failed to uncover new masters of noble art forms like poetry, sculpture and the airport thriller. But it has engendered — for good or ill — new forms of creative expression. Blogs and viral videos are only the most obvious. Fan fiction, wikis, Flash animation and Second Life avatars are a few more. People don’t upload to the Web words and images they had fashioned apart from the Web; they fashion their stuff specifically for online platforms and audiences.

Check the links in the article to see some terrific photos on flickr - very inspirational!

On Twitter

Many people have asked me what's the point of using Twitter - the service that lets you send out short (no more than 140 characters) messages about whatever it is you want to let people know about - what you're doing, reading, listening to; where you're going or where you are; or what you're thinking about. The Twitter FAQ page has a good overview of how the service works.

I've been using Twitter with some frequency - mostly when I'm traveling and have my blackberry at the ready - and have my blog set up so you can see my 'tweets' (twitter posts) on the blog's home page.

I've come across several cool Twitter applications in the past day or two that I thought would be interesting to those who wonder what Twitter is all about.

On Buzz Machine, Jeff Jarvis posts today about various ways Twitter is being used. One very cool application is called twistori; Jarvis says: "It simply pulls out the tweets that have the words love, hate, think, believe, feel, and wish in them. It’s oddly compelling." Jarvis' post also mentions that news organizations such as Reuters are starting to search for certain terms on twitter (e.g. explosion) as a way of identifying citizen-sourced news stories.

A colleague at work pointed me to a web site called Book Glutton, which is a startup focused on combining online reading with the social tools of the web as a way to enable conversations to take place around books that people are reading. Book Glutton uses Twitter to 'broadcast' what's happening among people reading on the site; on Book Glutton's Twitter page you can see that I (aweber9) opened a copy of King Lear at around 10:15. In theory I could go through the list of tweets and use it to connect with other people who are reading King Lear and might want to discuss it. There's not a lot of content on the Book Glutton site at this point, but one can imagine how the social tools of the web could enable some great conversations to emerge around books.

Finally, I've become a fan of Tweetscan - a service which powers real time Twitter searches. If I want to check out what people are saying online about something, I can just search for that term in Tweetscan and see all the tweets people have posted on the topic in question - say American Idol or Obama or Hillary Clinton.

If you've come across other cool Twitter applications, please let me know!

EDITED: not long after writing this post, a colleague sent me this story about Twitter from com.

Sharing Some Stats

I thought I'd share some year-to-date statistics with you on a rainy off-day.

The chart above - from, which I use to track my runs - shows my total weekly mileage for the last 10 weeks. The three really low weeks are the recovery week after the Bronx half-marathon (week -10), the week I was in Houston for spring break (week -5), and the week I traveled to Bermuda and Stockholm (week -3). As I've written about previously, you can see the havoc that travel wreaks on a training schedule.

On to the year-to-date stats (current through yesterday):

Days in 2008: 117
Runs in 2008: 63
Total mileage: 361 miles
Total time running: 55 hours
Average pace: 9:07 minutes/mile
Races: 4
Runs >= 15 miles: 1
Runs between 10 and 15 miles long: 8
Runs between 5 and 10 miles long: 21
Runs less than 5 miles long: 33

Photo In A Travel Guide

IMG_0272, originally uploaded by aweber9.

I'd never heard of Schmaps until I received an email a few weeks ago asking if I'd be willing to have this picture of Independence Hall included in the Schmap East Coast Travel Guide. Schmap is a publisher of digital travel guides where users can customize and share itineraries with one another.

If you click through to the East Coast Parks and Gardens page and zoom in to the detail for Independence Hall, you'll see that my picture is one of a number that users have taken of the building.

Schmap found the photo after I posted it on Flickr with the tags Independence Hall and Philadelphia.

Blue Heron Farm Has A Blog!

Christian (my brother-in-law) and Lisa - who I've written about previously here and here - now have a full-on blog up and running; it's called Blue Heron Farm Blog.

The blog is full of background on the development of the Blue Heron Farm business as well as some great pictures and funny stories (Lisa is a terrific writer). If you're at all interested in the local/artisanal food movement I suggest you check out the blog.

One Week To Go!

It's only one week to go until the Brooklyn half-marathon. The course map has finally been posted; you can see it here on the New York Road Runner's Club website if you are interested.

I had a great run today: 11.7 miles on the challenging hills of Candlewood Isle. In contrast to my last two long runs here, each of which was over a 10 minute/mile pace, I managed 9:42 per mile today. I think between that and the fact that my knees continue to feel good - in spite of almost 27 miles in the last 4 days - is a very good sign.

A Fast Run Today

Did my first speed run in some time - given travel schedules and knee pain I haven't been able to do a real speed session since early March. I ran on the treadmill at the hotel this morning and had a great result: 8 miles at a pace of 8:12 per mile. The pace for the last speed session was 8:24 for only 6 miles, so I'm definitely making progress. The great news is that my knees felt fine for the whole run and that I managed negative splits (each mile is faster than the earlier ones) all the way through the run.

Here are the times for each mile:


The Brooklyn half-marathon is now just over a week away, and I feel like all the training I've done is starting to pay off. My goal for the race is to take about 5 minutes off my time from the Bronx half-marathon, which would mean a pace of roughly 8:40 per mile. 8:40 per mile would be a total time of about 1:53 or so, which would put me close to the top 50% of finishers (another goal of mine).

Photography Meets Blogging

I don't usually read USA Today, so I was lucky to see this article in the paper left outside my hotel room this morning: In a flash, Strobist blog about lighting photos hit it big - The Strobist blog has been recommended to me before - it's very good.

Fond Memories

Our distribution center here in Maryland is *really* big - so big that sometimes we use motorized scooters to get around.

A dear friend of mine from work retired a couple of years back after a long and storied career; her final posting was overseeing our fulfillment operations. As part of her retirement festivities her scooter number was retired and memorialized in the banner pictured above.

The banner is still up and it makes me happy when I see it. Not happy that the friend is gone, but happy to remember the great times we had together!

It Doesn't Get Much More Local Than This

In today's WSJ, an article on people in Colorado who are ripping up their lawns to grow produce. Video above; article here.

Styles of Leadership

Came across two longish articles on executives at big companies in my newspaper reading today: the first is a New York Times profile of James Farley, who left Toyota to take a job at one of the world's biggest turnaround challenges - Ford Motor Company. The other is a Wall Street Journal profile of Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airlines.

I love that Farley seems to be pursuing work he's genuinely passionate about, that he's not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, and that he seems to be a great listener - whether with colleagues or dealers or customers. I found this anecdote really compelling:

At his first town hall-style meeting with his extended Ford staff, Mr. Farley opened the session with a gesture that people still remember.

“I’d like you to turn to the person next to you, I don’t care if it’s on the right or left, and pat them on the back,” he said. Then he laid out his agenda in the simplest terms possible.

“I hope you are ready to save this company,” he said, “because that’s what I’m going to be doing every minute of every day.” Ford, he said, “was at the precipice,” and had no margin for error.

I don't think I'd much like to work for someone like Anderson.

Countdown to Chicago

I received my first email newsletter today from the Chicago Marathon and was shocked to learn that there will be 45,000 registrants for the race. Wow! As a point of comparison, the New York City Marathon in 2007 had 38,761 finishers. It's hard to imagine what it will be like to be at the starting line with 40,000+ other people; I think the biggest race I've been in so far had under 5,000.

The official Chicago marathon website has a countdown timer to the start of the race. It currently says: 172 : 17 : 11 : 41 (days/hours/minutes/seconds). There's a lot of running to be done between now and then - something like 650 miles!

Lots of Links

I'm down in Baltimore, MD for work for a couple of days; I'll be in our distribution center, mostly doing a series of Q & A sessions with staff to highlight how things are going in our business and in our area (operations & technology). Taking the train down this morning gave me the chance to catch up on some reading, and I came across some things I wanted to share with you.

For fans of American Idol, this New York Times article is full of great trivia. While I've watched the odd episode of the show over the years, I've never watched a full season until this year. I'm really enjoying the show and especially connecting with other people who are fans (you know who you are!). Tonight's show will feature the final six contestants doing the music of my close friend (!) Andrew Lloyd Webber; that should be interesting. I'm mostly in agreement with this reporter's take on the remaining contestants, though I'd move Jason Castro down to the bottom of the list.

For fans of being happy..... (!), this New York Times interview with the author of Stumbling on Happiness is a fun read. This passage in particular resonated for me:


A. I’m not Dr. Phil.

We know that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationships and the amount of time that people spend with family and friends.

We know that it’s significantly more important than money and somewhat more important than health. That’s what the data shows. The interesting thing is that people will sacrifice social relationships to get other things that won’t make them as happy — money. That’s what I mean when I say people should do “wise shopping” for happiness.

Another thing we know from studies is that people tend to take more pleasure in experiences than in things. So if you have “x” amount of dollars to spend on a vacation or a good meal or movies, it will get you more happiness than a durable good or an object. One reason for this is that experiences tend to be shared with other people and objects usually aren’t.

The Times had an article on the same topic last week which was also quite interesting: Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All.

I read Stumbling on Happiness when it was published a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it; while it doesn't unlock the secret to being happy, it is full of funny anecdotes and thoughtful reporting on happiness research.

Finally: I had time on the train to look at a new camera guide I bought from a website called By Thom. While mostly about Nikon gear, the site has some great general photography articles, like this one on taking sharp pictures. Thom Hogan publishes detailed user guides for each Nikon body that go far beyond what the manufacturer manual tells you; I own two of them and recommend them for anyone who wants to get the most out of their Nikon camera.

More On Why I Blog

Since I've started this blog I've had MANY conversations with friends and colleagues about the issues which blogging raise, mostly concerning privacy and security. It's been a fascinating dialogue so far, and I expect it will continue.

I wrote some time back about why I blog; rereading that post this morning, I can see I'm making progress on the goals I outlined.

The best part of the blog so far has been the opportunity to be in touch with friends; witness this note I received from a friend just this morning (in response to my post Thursday on the great day I had:

"Andrew – So glad to see another Idol viewer – I get to blame it on the boys, but it is incredible how many conversations happen when you find out who else watches – I loved the detail of the day and appreciate you making it easy for me to keep up with what is going on with your releases. In a world where keeping up with friends is disappointingly hard, this type of thing is a great filler."

While this kind of being in touch is certainly no substitute for live or even phone conversations, it's way better than not being in touch at all.

Off to make some pancakes for the kids.....

Great Day Today

I had an absolutely fantastic day today.

Some highlights (most of which were enhanced by the fact that it was a drop-dead gorgeous spring day here in NYC).

Waking up at home rather than in MunichStockholmBermudaHoustonGalveston.

7+ mile run in Central Park at a pace of just under 8:30 per mile.

Breakfast and a leisurely walk to school with the kids followed by time in both of their classrooms.

Met another dad from our school who I really liked. He's a the NYC bureau reporter for an international newspaper who writes about business and culture; needless to say we instantly found lots to talk about.

Impromptu coffee at Le Pain Quotidien with Katherine. At a time when everything feels busy and highly scheduled, it was great fun to have some one-on-one time at the spur of the moment.

Nice walk to work listening to my new favorite song: David Cook singing Mariah Carey's Always Be My Baby from American Idol. I'm not afraid to admit I've become a fan of the show. David became my favorite a few weeks ago when he did a rockin' cover of Michael Jackson's Billy Jean. I bought his Mariah Carey cover on iTunes last night and have listened to it 15 times today... For those of you who use iTunes, here's a link to the song: Always Be My Baby. If you aren't an iTunes user, or if you want to see a video of the show peformance, here it is on YouTube:

After talking about Idol with a colleague, she sent me a story about David Cook's brother which aired on Good Morning America. Cook's brother is sick with brain cancer and the town he lives in raised money to send him to LA to watch this week's performance. While the story is admittedly a bit hoky, it speaks to me to the power of people and communities to do incredibly kind and meaningful things. The segment is short and worth watching; you can find it here.

Had a nice lunch with a member of my management group. She and I have worked together for 12+ years now and it was the first lunch we've had together in a while - so it was great to catch up.

Received a compliment from someone whom I've not yet met who passed on something she'd been told about me by a mutual acquaintance/colleague. I felt in one sentence she very accurately captured the things I'm committed to at work.

Had an meeting with another member of my management team and got an update on how we're making progress on some of our digital initiatives, including some very exciting news about an investment we're likely to make in a startup company I'm a big fan of and an expansion of a project to offer personalized editions of our books (you can check out the first product - personalized Poky Little Puppy).

Got pointed to some absolutely AMAZING bird photos on this photography forum; I'd love to develop my photography skills to the point that I can take pictures like these.

Had a meeting with a couple of people from another publishing company who had come in to learn about the technology we've developed to support our title development and marketing processes. It was gratifying that they left very impressed with what we've accomplished and fun to have discussion about the challenges which lie ahead for book publishers.

Spent an impromptu 45 minutes with yet another member of my team. We had a wide-ranging conversation about online marketing, projects, personal effectiveness at work, websites, and technology. I left with a sense of confidence that we're starting to have some real momentum in our efforts to help usher publishing into the digital era.

Capped off the day with a long walk from 55th up to 88th street (picking up Katherine at 79th) for dinner with some friends in the neighborhood.

If you're still with me at this point, you may wonder why I've shared all of these details with you. I suppose in the end it's because so much of what made it a great day was the interactions I had with family, friends, and colleagues, and I want to express my gratitude in general, and in particular to those who were involved. I also wanted to share with you some of the things I experienced....which I can do thanks to the power of the web via the links above.

Hello From Munich (Today's Last Post)

In the spirit of hello from Bermuda and hello from Stockholm, I send greetings from Munich.

It's extremely rare that I travel as much for work as I have in the last few weeks, and unheard of that I'd travel to three different countries over the course of three weeks; fortunately it looks like international travel is behind me for a while - I don't have any further trips scheduled at this point. Today was a long day. I had the chance to grab a quick shower after flying overnight last night, but we spent the day in a dark room watching power point presentations on technology and innovation at Siemens.

The highlight of the day was dinner in the restaurant atop the tower in the Olympic Park in Munich, site of the (infamous) 1972 Olympics. While I was originally doubtful that the food would be good, it was actually delicious. It was fun to be back in the Olympic Park as it's a place I visited on my first and/or second trip to Europe. I made two trips to Europe while I was in high school - once after ninth grade and once after eleventh grade. Both trips included stops in Munich, where I still remember drinking beer (!) and eating an amazing rotisserie chicken at an outdoor beer garden. I had the chance to take a few pictures while we were up in the tower.

Short day of meetings tomorrow and then it's back to New York City.

Flying to Munich

We had a nice sunset on the flight to Munich. This picture was taken looking northwest over Nova Scotia from 36,000 feet.

Central Park in Springtime

As promised, here are some pictures from my run yesterday in Central Park; the pictures are set up as a slideshow in Picasa Web Albums; in the event they don't come through in the rss feed, here's a link to the album.

Welcome to Munich

I'm in Munich for two days for meetings with IT colleagues from Random House and other Bertelsmann companies. We're spending the first day with Siemens, where we've seen a series of presentations on innovation. Between the jet lag and a seemingly never-ending stream of powerpoint slides, it's been a bit tough to stay awake. Thank goodness I love coffee!

A Short Update

wanted to get out for a run today to see how the knees would feel after yesterday's 11 mile run on the challenging hills of Candlewood Isle in Connecticut.

I ran just shy of 5 miles today, and though my legs were a bit tired, my knees felt fine.

It was a beautiful morning for a run - clear and cold - and Central Park is showing many signs of spring. I took a bunch of pictures I hope to share soon.

It's Not Perfect, But It's Still Pretty Cool

I'm a regular reader of Lifehacker - a blog about 'tech tricks, tips, and downloads for getting things done'. There was a post last week about stitching photos into panoramas with a free program called Hugin.

I took a few pictures on my run in Central Park this morning and put together a panorama of the Reservoir. I didn't have time to make it perfect (matching exposure, for example), but I think the results are cool all the same. The panorama is an assemblage of 4 photos - three of which are blended together seamlessly.

The software seems pretty easy to use and should be even easier once I have time to read the instructions! The lifehacker post has a good walkthrough of how to put together your own panorama in Hugin.

A Great Cocktail for Spring/Summer

There's a recipe in the April Bon Appetit for a cocktail called a Gordon's Cup. I made up a batch of these this weekend; they are delicious and are perfect for a spring/summer drink. Here's the recipe:

Gordon’s Cup - From Comme Ca in Los Angeles

2/3 of 1 small lime, cut into 6 wedges
2 ½-inch-thick rounds peeled cucumber
¼ cup gin
1.5 tablespoons Simple Syrup
1 cup cracked ice
Pinch of sea salt

Place lime and cucumber into cocktail shaker; mash with muddler or wooden spoon until lime is juiced and cucumber is pulpy. Add gin and Simple Syrup, then ice. Cover; shake vigorously 3 times. Pour contents of shaker into rocks glass. Sprinkle with salt (optional).

Training Update

Originally uploaded by munchmy

The Brooklyn half-marathon is just under three weeks away. The picture above was taken at last year's race; I found the photo on flickr.

The course has been posted and looks like this:

Start on the Coney Island Boardwalk at West 2nd Street. Head west to a turnaround at West 36th Street and proceed east. Exit off West 10th Street and continue east on Surf Avenue to Ocean Parkway. Turn left/north onto Ocean Parkway to Prospect Expressway to Park Circle. Enter Prospect Park at Park Circle and head east on South Lake Drive. Continue around the northern end of the park, returning south on West Drive. Turn left/east onto Hill Drive and left/north onto East Drive. Turn left/west on Central Drive to the finish.

I've never been out to Coney Island so it should be fun to start the run there.

I went for a long run today - 11 miles. It's either the last or next-to-last long run I'll do before the race. Given some knee pain and general soreness, I'm not feeling quite as sharp as I did before I left for Houston back in March (as I wrote about earlier) and I'm wrestling with a balance of running to stay sharp and ready to do well in the race vs. giving my tired legs a rest.

Signs of Spring

We're up in Connecticut for the first time in 5 weeks; it's absolutely GREAT to be back. Funny weather this weekend: yesterday was over 70 with clear blue skies and today it's back in the 40's with drizzle off and on all day. I had the chance to get out and take some pictures of stuff starting to bloom. Pictured above is a blossom from the cherry tree we have; it's just starting to bloom and should be at peak when we are back next week. The birds are getting active again too. Strangely enough there's been a huge flock of chickadees around all day long. Chickadees are fun to photograph as they will let you get quite close to them.

Nice Run Today

My experience of the past several weeks is that travel is really bad for a training program. I was in a great groove up to mid-March, but travel since then to Houston, Bermuda, and Stockholm really knocked me back a bit in spite of one or two good runs since then. The good news is I've only got one more trip coming up - Munich for two days next week - and then things look pretty clear.

One way I've been out of a groove is that my knees have been bothering me a lot; I've also felt dead-legged. I'm not sure if that's a function of an irregular training schedule, overtraining (there was that 15 mile run in Houston....), bad eating (way too many buffet meals), old age, or maybe all of the above.

Over the past week I've treid to adjust by backing off the miles and the pace just a bit and by doing a lot more stretching (mostly by using a roller that looks like this); it's a great tool for stretching out your leg muscles.

The good news is that today's run was the first one in a while that felt pretty good, and I felt good afterwards. I ran three loops of the reservoir in Central Park at about an 8:40 pace; with the trip to the park and back, the run in total was about 6 miles. I'm hoping to run again tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes.

A View Across the Water

We've wrapped up the conference and now have an afternoon and evening to explore Stockholm. Contrary to the forecast, it's a clear day and reasonably warm.

Pictured above is Riddarholmskyrkan - a church with a beautiful wrought iron steeple ; the view is looking across Riddarfjarden from Soder Malarstrand. 

Hi from Stockholm

In the spirit of saying hi from remote locations.....hi from Stockholm!

Marie Picasso

At dinner last night we had a short performance by a winner of Sweden's Pop Idol. Marie Picasso did three songs, including a cover of the Jackson 5's I'll Be There. Enjoy.

More on Innovation

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we had some interesting outside speakers, including an executive from Nokia named Annsi Vanjoki. Mr. Vanjoki shared a video called The Fourth Screen, which tracks the evolution from tv screen to movie screen to computer screen to portable device screen; it's worth watching.

One of our afternoon speakers shared a video called The Break Up which captures the ways in which advertising is changing as consumers change their media consumption habits.

A Great Day In Stockholm

I've had a great day in Stockholm; very busy and very thought-provoking. 

The theme of our conference is growth through innovation. We started the morning with a presentation by Bertelsmann's CEO, Hartmut Ostrowski, who talked about why innovation and growth are important for Bertelsmann. Following Hartmut, there were presentations on managing innovation (by a professor from HBS) and on the evoluton of the web from Web 2.0 to Web 'New Generation' (by a board member from Nokia).

Following lunch and some breakout sessions, we had two more terrific presentations, both of which addressed how technology is totally disrupting media businesses and forcing the development of new business models. Though I didn't hear anything fundamentally new, the presentations were interesting as they confirmed a lot of the ideas and issues we've been discussing in our day to day work. As I've written about before, we're in the middle of a transformation of how media businesses operate, and it's super-exciting to be in the middle of it. Though we face a lot of difficult challenges, I found the conversations today to be more possibility-oriented than pessimistic.

After the conference session we had a cruise of 90 minutes around Sodermalm and had dinner at the Vasa Museum. The  museum is home to a beautiful ship that sank within minutes of starting her innaugural voyage in the early 1600's; the ship was salvaged more than 300 years later and now stands as a great example of innovation and project management gone bad. At dinner we were treated to roast reindeer (a first for me) and a three song performance by the winner of Sweden's version of American Idol (Marie Picasso). The reindeer was actually quite good, and according to info I found on google, is high in vitamins and good fatty acids and low in fat.  

We finished the night with a glass of aquavit, a traditional Swedish drink.

A highlight of conferences like this one is the chance to spend a lot of time with coworkers in a setting other than the office; it gives everyone the chance to discuss opportunities and common challenges outside the hustle and bustle of daily business. There was also a lot of time to connect with Random House colleagues from other locations outside the US (the UK, Germany, Barcelona, Canada, and Mexico) and with people from Bertelsmann divisions all over the world. All in all, a great day.

I have pictures, music, and video to share and will try to post tomorrow.

Greetings from Stockholm

I'm in Stockholm for a conference on innovation hosted by Bertelsmann. The meeting officially starts tonight; in the meantime we've had the chance to take a short bus tour to get an overview of the city.

I'm traveling with a number of Random House colleagues; pictured above are Matt, Chris, and Nihar.

Time-Lapse Update

For some reason it seems the time-lapse video may not have come through the post in feed readers; if that's the case for you, here's a link to the live post: Time-Lapse Photography - Sunrise in Galveston