Before I die..

June 22, 2005

Gravestone I am passionate. I am goal oriented. Sometimes, I can be a tiny bit obsessive.

I have been doing a lot of research and planning for my trip. I’d really like to leave the itinerary open and flexible, but I keep planning because there is just so much I’d like to see and do. Other people’s lists bear some of the blame (or credit) for the extensive list. Ever since I discovered the Hillman Wonders website, I have been mesmerized.

The site begins with a simple question: “How many of the world’s top 100 wonders have you seen?” It goes on to offer a thoughtful, objective and continuously updated (since 1968) list of the top 100 (and top 1000) places to see, selected by a thoughtful and very well traveled writer.

I’ve seen Twenty One of them, but who is counting?

It seems like a lot of people are counting.

My brother shared his critique of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. A clearly less ambitious friend recommend 100 Things to Do Before You Die : Travel Events You Just Can’t Miss. My wife gave me June’s Men’s Journal with the article “99 Things to Do Before You Die.” She also mentioned that in last month’s issue I missed a good article on the “100 Greatest Adventures.”

The pace has quickened. Just five years ago the overachieving executive and corporate mogul magazine, Forbes, thought one could get away with a mere 10 Things To Do Before You Die. The article begins…

In 1902, as he lay dying at the age of 48, Cecil Rhodes could look back on a not undistinguished career. He had made a vast fortune in gold and diamonds. He had built railroads through the wilderness and become one of the century’s great rulers. He had created an empire, which is more than your average 48-year-old has on his resume. But Rhodes was not going gentle into any good night. On his deathbed he was heard muttering, “So little done, so much to do.”

I never knew it but there is a whole concept of making “Life Lists”. There is even a book on it: No Opportunity Wasted : Creating a List for Life. All this life list obsession reminded me of an old episode of Ira Glass’s This American Life called Superpowers in which a five year old “Zora had recurring dreams in which she was a 6′5″ warrior queen who could fly and shoot lightning from her hands. She made a list of all the skills she would need to master if she wanted to actually become the superhero she dreamed of being. Sample items: martial arts, evasive driving and bomb diffusion. She actually checked off most things on the list… and then had a run-in with the CIA.” She the list ruled her life and she accomplished virtually everything on it until she failed to get the job of her dreams, and then it called everything in to question.

All this leaves me feeling a little ambivalent. The goal setter in me loves the life list idea and of course the I am just about to cross off a big one with my upcoming year long trip around the world. On the other hand it feels a little bit like setting goals to “relax and take life as it comes” is a bit of a contradiction in terms. I had one friend who set goals about how many hours of sleep he’d get. I really truly believe that what gets measured gets managed, but sleep goals always stuck me as funny.

Tell me what you think! To make life lists or not? If you are in the list camp what do you want to do before you die?

The business of business is business.

June 17, 2005

I went to visit my friend who runs a lawncare business, (green grass, no weeds) in PA, NJ, MD. Happy Lawn was a really great group of hard working people. I came away very impressed! Even though the business is completely different from my former online marketing business, I was struck by the huge number of similarities.

The challenges are all the same:

  • How do you plan for growth but keep overhead down?
  • How do you develop your people to support that growth?
  • How do you mange cash and finance it?
  • How do you deal with a difficult but vital vendor?
  • How come the printer doesn’t work?

The more businesses I visit, the more I come away feeling that they all face extremely similar challenges. The business of business is all pretty much the same, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.

Fortune cookie offers “greater perspective”

June 10, 2005

Picture of a fortune cookie My wife recently got a fortune cookie that seemed to bode well for travel. Last night I got mine. The photo is blurry, but it says: “Traveling this year will bring your life into greater perspective.” How perfect is that?

I am excited about traveling, but just being on sabbatical is changing my perspective. It has made it much easier for me to focus on my health. Since I left work, I have started to diet with the help of Calorie King’s Palm Diet Diary, it was recommened by Jeremy Zawodny. The last time I successfully dieted, I used a palm product called Diet Log from Healthetech, but it stopped working when I upgraded to my Treo 600. The mere process of logging what I eat has very positive affects on my eating habits. While logging everything I eat is a little tedious, I am excited to be doing it again because it offers me a sense of control over the process and makes me more conscious about the choices I am making. I am a firm believer that if I can’t measure, I can’t manage.

I am also getting lots more exercise both in and out of the gym. While I would be dieting and exercising in any case I am particularly motivated by a twinge of fear about the rigors of the climb of Kilimanjaro. More about my plan to tackle Kili soon.

Beyond eating less and exercising more, I went to a concert tonight (on a school-night no less!) It was fun! After the concert walking on Newbury street, I was stunned (as usual) to be reminded how many people are out and about having a late supper at Cafe Armani or socializing over cocktails at Ciao bella at 11:30 on a week night. I could never manage to do that when I had a job. Good for them.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

June 6, 2005

Photo courtesy of Jungle Photos

The die is cast! Now lets hope no one in the cast dies!

In January 2002 shortly after I went skydiving to celebrate my 30th birthday, Soyan and I saw the IMAX movie: Kilimanjaro - To the Roof of Africa. After seeing that “normal” people could summit Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro, I suggested that we should climb Kilimanjaro for Soyan’s 30th Birthday in December 2004.

She said that sounded nice, but she’d never been to an opera and that she’d like go for her 30th birthday. I explained that the two were not mutually exclusive, but when her birthday crept up last year, I got her a subscription to the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) and we did not climb Kilimanjaro.

We enjoyed the BLO, but it some how failed to captivate Soyan to the same degree as her first opera, The Magic Flute. This is surprising because the BLO performances were live with a full orchestra in a theater. There were sets, costumes and lights at the BLO while the Magic Flute was a 3 cassette tape recording seen with the limited visual aids of a public school, in the late 1980’s, the “Ding - please advance to the next frame” filmstrip. I guess that is more evidence that a good score can carry a film, and of course that Mozart’s was a genius.

But I digress! The die is cast, we have paid our money and have our first firm date of the trip. We are booked for a trek up Kilimanjaro, starting December 26th, 2005 (the very day of Soyan’s 31st birthday). Soyan assures me that within the scientific community an error of plus or minus one is an acceptable margin of error, so in a sense we are still going to Tanzania for her 30th birthday. If all goes well we should be at the the summit for sunrise on new years day 2006!

I am incredibly excited for our climb, but a little scared. I know I need to get in shape before I go, and I know it will be hard. I take some solace in knowing that ultimately how I do will have to do more with how I handle the altitude than how in shape I am, but being in better shape certainly won’t hurt!

The Kilimanjaro trip is being organized by Donovan and the nice folks at Boots N All, a terrific resource and message board for backpackers travelling around the world. After Tanzania, we are planning to head south and west overland until we get to South Africa. Then we’ll see how we are feeling about Africa, because there will still be lots more to see, not the least of which is the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda.