As I did so, I noticed a guy with a pickup truck about 20 feet away who was meticulously folding up the now empty paper bags that he had obviously used to bring leaves to the dump.
We gave the silent nods of acknowledgement that people often do at the dump... and then curiosity got the better of me and I asked "so do you re-use your bags?"
"Oh, sure! I usually get a good three years out of them," he said.
I nodded... and we both continued our separate work. But what blew my mind at that moment was simply this:
I had never considered re-using the paper leaf bags!
They were just the things you put leaves in and then threw out at the dump. Nothing more than that.
My package of 5 bags cost me $3.29 at my local hardware store. I bought two packages and so my investment thus far was a bit under $7. ($6.58 if we're being precise.) I was figuring I would probably need another set of bags to finish out the season and so I'd buy another set soon.
In my mind just "the cost of doing business" and living in New England. Since the drop-off of leaves is free at our city dump, that $10 is my cost for the season, plus of course the bit of gas to drive out to the dump.
Not a big deal in the flow of our regular household budget.
$10 can buy other things. $10 could pay for the gas I need to drive back and forth. $10 could be donated to someone who might need it more.
It was a reminder to me that we live in such a consumeristic society where we just think about everything as being disposable. I was thinking about things as being disposable, particularly because these are just paper bags that will automatically degrade along with all of the leaves in them.
But why not re-use them?
By the time I unloaded my nine bags the guy had driven away and I was the only one at the pile. A couple of my bags were ripped from sticks and needed to be thrown in the pile... but I did save seven of them. Just emptied out the leaves and then folded them somewhat back together.
Now I don't have to buy that third set of bags - and if I'm careful I can probably not rip these bags and hold on to them for next year.
The only way out of being a "disposable" society is for us to think about ways that we can indeed reduce, re-use and recycle... and in this case I chose to re-use!
What about you? Do you re-use leaf bags? (If you are in the part of the world that needs them.) Or have you never bothered with leaf bags anyway and just used tarps and such?
If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:
Unfortunately I completely forgot about the <meeting> from 8-9am ... and since I also have to pack up to check out of the hotel as I'm flying home tonight, as well as get out some messages/posts *before* the meeting... there's just no way I can also fit in a run. :-(
If you get this before going out and could just fire back a quick acknowledgement that would be great. If I don't hear from you I'll be standing down in the lobby at 6am NOT in my running clothes.
I was about to hit the Send button.
My cursor was poised over the send icon button at the top of the message window on my MacBook Pro. All I had to do was tap my finger and the message would be off.
But I paused...
... and as I read that message and re-read it again and again... it just seemed like a really weak excuse.
There will always be reasons to NOT go for a run.
As I thought about it, I realized that if I were truly honest with myself some of those posts and messages that seemed so urgent to send off before the 8:00am meeting... really could wait a bit. Sure, it would be great to get them off first thing... but it wouldn't be the end of the world if they were published/sent a few hours later.
And I realized again that it is easy to NOT prioritize exercise and running.
And that it is all about the choices we make in every moment of our lives.
And that I had a choice right then that would define what were my priorities.
And then I chose to NOT send that message!
I did get into my running clothes... and I was down in the hotel lobby at 6:00am... and it turned out that there was a group of about 8 runners who gathered there... and we all went out for a great 3.8 mile run!
And I felt great after doing that!
We all have choices. We choose whether to exercise - or not.
P.S. The photo with this post is one I took on a morning run in Toronto during an IETF meeting. My hard-core, ultra-marathon-runner friend Hannes took it easy and joined us slow runners for a nice run along the harbor front... that's him in the orange. :-)
Yes, curling... that winter sport.
In July. :-)
And yes, I'm excited! I'm taking two vacation days to bring my 12-year-old daughter Chloe down to this Junior Curling Camp sponsored by the Grand National Curling Club (GNCC), the organization that helps coordinate the sport of curling along the eastern coast of the USA.
Chloe absolutely loves the sport and has been curling for the past three years in the Petersham Curling Club youth curling program down in Petersham, MA, about 45 minutes south of where we live in Keene, NH. This past year she was a skip (captain) for one of our Petersham "Little Rocks" teams (ages 7-11) and did quite well in a couple of bonspiels (tournaments).
Now as a 12-year-old she'll be going into the "Juniors" program and playing at a more serious level with kids ages 12 up to 21-ish. When we were talking earlier this year about what to do this summer, this curling camp rose right to the top of her choices. :-) So we're heading down to join 31 other kids from around the region for what should be a couple of pretty intense days. It starts tomorrow (Thursday, July 31, 2014) afternoon and goes through Sunday mid-day. Lots of practice sessions, individual coaching, classroom work and some games.
The fun part for me is that I also get to join in the action as a coaching assistant. The camp will have some high-level coaches and instructors from the US Curling Association and from national teams, but they invited other club coaches to help... and I jumped right in. I'm very much looking forward to learning a great deal over the next few days from the other coaches that I can bring back to our Petersham CC youth program, as well as for the Monadnock Curling Club effort we are trying to start up in Keene.
So that's the plan... curling... in July... in Pennsylvania! :-)
And then somewhere in the midst of all that jetlagged weariness the dark side of the date infiltrated my wife's consciousness and she posted a simple message to Facebook:
Today I am a three year survivor! July 1 is the cancerversary of my surgery and the start of 18 months of breast cancer treatment....
It was indeed three years ago today that we spent the day at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center up in Lebanon, NH, as she underwent a dual mastectomy. It was, unbelievably to me, simply day surgery. She was back at home that night, albeit in severe pain and not up and around for quite some time.
It's been a long, strange road since then.
Some parts of that journey I've written about here in my many posts on the topic. Other parts I've not shared.
Mostly, we just go on.
I'm constantly amazed by the strength my wife shows through it all, and her willingness to be more open about it than many are. She is an inspiration to me - and I know to others.
Sadly, we've certainly come to know that she is not alone... and that even as we celebrate a three year anniversary, others are being diagnosed and treated now... while others are celebrating longer anniversaries... and others are passing away. Cancer is indeed the scourge that keeps on taking.
Hopefully some day we won't need to be marking anniversaries like this one.
Of course, as the "Great Circle Mapper" site reminded me, my "circle" may not be quite as round as I was thinking it would be because the flights will probably take the northern route shown on this awesome image below:
Still, it is rather fun to see that this trip will go in some kind of loop around the world.
I talked about this in one of my "The Dan York Report" podcasts this morning:
I mentioned a "write-on" globe that I use to show where I will be traveling for my kids. While I bought it at the headquarters of Delorme Maps up in Freeport, Maine, the globe itself turns out to be made by Replogle as the "Geographer Globe". You can probably find it in stores that sell globes or on various online sites. Here is one link to buy it on Amazon.com, although you may be able to find it at other places for less.
It's been fun to use that globe to give my family a sense of where I am going.
It also serves to remind me of just how long I'm going to be in airborne metal tubes! :-(
 In full disclosure, this link to Amazon is an "associate" link. If you were to actually purchase the globe, I would make a tiny amount of money for the referral. If you think that has any influence on my writing about it, you obviously don't know me well. :-)
There is an anger and a frustration that is hard to put into words.
The optimist in me of course is thrilled that such treatments are available so that my sister-in-law might beat back the beast and live a longer life.
But that optimism is balanced by a frustration that battling cancer seems to be the story of one sledgehammer after another and another... for all the millions of dollars we're spending on cancer research, the weapons and treatment we have still seem so crude.
Yes, I know intellectually that the treatments have come so far from what they used to be. I know that such research takes time and trials and more time and more trials before the benefits can be widely seen.
But emotionally I want the scanner device out of some sci-fi show that can just scan down the body, find the cancer cells and destroy them.
We're not there yet. Maybe we'll never get there.
And so we fight the battle with the weapons we have, crude as they are.
And my sister-in-law sits there with an IV drip slowly bringing incredibly toxic chemicals into her body...
Meanwhile, another friend around my age from Burlington, VT, fights a liver cancer that is not responding to treatment... and at this point may give him less than a year to live...
Meanwhile, my wife learned through Facebook that a sister of a friend is apparently entering into her final days of life after an aggressive form of breast cancer...
Meanwhile, someone else we know just finished up her four months of chemo in dealing with breast cancer...
Meanwhile... ... meanwhile... ...
Yes, all we can do is keep going on... putting one foot in front of the other and living out each day...
But still, there are days when all you want to do is rage against the scourge that is ravishing so many wonderful people out there.
Cancer - the scourge that keeps on taking.
An audio version of this post is available as an episode in my "The Dan York Report" podcast:
As has been my custom now for the past few years, I like to start my writing off in a new year with a post about a few "words" that I intend to use as guides for the year. They aren't "resolutions" as much as they are areas of my personal life in which I aspire to be active this year. In previous years (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010) I've chosen three words, following a meme started by Chris Brogan many years ago.
This year, I found myself struggling to reduce four words down to three... and finally said "Hey, wait a minute, it's MY blog... if I want to have four words this year, I can! ;-)" And so... here is my list for 2014...
Those following my writing here have known that running became an important part of my life over the last 3.5 years. I even recorded an audio commentary last year (while running) about how important it is to me.
But I suffered a real crisis in confidence - and enjoyment - when I ran an extremely frustrating half-marathon in September. I never wrote a response to my post about preparing to run the half-marathon... rather than "third time is a charm", it was more "three strikes and you're out!"
I'll write some other time about that particular race and the resulting mental fallout, but suffice it to say that I've had a hard time getting back out there. I know intellectually that I just need to get back out there and do it... and in 2014 I intend to once again make running a core part of a healthy lifestyle!
And maybe I'll get to where I do try another half-marathon.... (but probably at a cooler time of year).
UPDATE: - I started off the year on a good note here by running a 5K on New Year's Day on our treadmill that we'd relocated to our basement. It was fine as long as I kept my head straight up so that it stays between the rafters!
You wouldn't know it from any of my online writing or any of my activities on social networks, but religion and spirituality are topics I'm incredibly passionate about and care deeply about. My father is a (now retired) Methodist minister, as was his father before him, and so I grew up deeply steeped in a progressive Christian church.
Yes, I am a "preacher's kid." :-)
When I was in my late teens and into college I had a severe falling out with the Methodist faith of my fathers and spent a significant amount of time searching for a religious community where I could belong. Like anything I do, I plunged in and dived deeply into reading, visiting churches, etc.... but never found anything until a random invitation from a friend some 20+ years ago introduced me to the world of Unitarian Universalism. Many years (and many UU churches) later, I'm president of the board of trustees of our local Keene UU Church and in fact led the worship service there last Sunday giving a sermon/message about the challenges of being open about religion in the age of Facebook.
... but pretty much NONE of them say ANYTHING about religion.
There are a lot of reasons for WHY I have been silent about the religious side of my life in my online activity... and I'll write a post about that at some point (probably soon).
But I've realized that in being silent and hiding this aspect of myself I'm not really letting myself be truly whole.
So I'm going to start... I've been letting pieces of that side of me leak out into Facebook lately. THIS blog post is a huge step for me.
I'm not going to be "in your face" about religion or anything (that's not the UU way! ;-) ). But I'm going to stop hiding that side of me. I will treat it instead just as yet another facet of the complicated person that I am (and that we all are).
We'll see... this will, in all honesty, be a bit challenging for me... but is an area I'd like to grow personally.
In a change from past years, I'm carrying a word over from the previous year. I did a great amount with audio in 2013, but in 2014 I intend to do more. I want to move forward with "FIR On Technology" and have a number of interviews in mind. I want to bring back Blue Box: The VoIP Security Podcast for some interviews... and I'm hoping to do more audio components in my daily work with the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme.
I'm excited... and "stay tuned" has never been more appropriate!
Finally, there is an exquisite irony to me that while my job title at the Internet Society is "Senior Content Strategist", my own personal content online is severely lacking a strategy. I am inconsistently writing across 8 or 9 different places online - and I'm adding more sites like the Monadnock Curling Club... and there are a few other projects in the works.
Yes, this is a bit of a case of the proverbial "cobbler's shoes", but in 2014 I'd like to pull some of this together a bit more and have a bit more discipline about what I'm doing with all my online content. I'm at least aggregating my online content at my danyork.me site, but this year I want to do more with getting more consistent with the creation of content.
That's my list for 2014. What about you?
What are you going to do this year with your one wild and precious life?
An audio version of this post is available on in my "The Dan York Report" podcast:
As 2013 draws to an end, I thought it might be appropriate to reflect quickly upon how I did with my "three words" for 2013.
I wrote in part:
this year I want to execute on some of the plans I have had for some time. There are some things I have been thinking about, talking about and even writing about for several years... but have yet to actually start. Not so much in my professional/work life, as I have been all about executing plans there, but rather in my personal life with some of my various side projects.
My record is a bit mixed here. I did dive more deeply into activities with a couple of boards that I'm on. I did start a few of the projects that I'd wanted to... but then others like rebooting VOIPSA are still out there lingering.
Here things have gone quite well! I've actually launched two new podcasts in 2013, experimented with another and have another couple of projects underway:
THE DAN YORK REPORT - What began as purely experimentation with SoundCloud as a platform for audio hosting has turned into a fairly regular podcast, "The Dan York Report", where I am commenting on a wide range of issues. I've recorded 55 episodes so far (and there were some before I formally had the name that could qualify, too), and I have ideas for doing more with this in 2014.
FIR ON TECHNOLOGY - Coming in just under the wire, I launched "FIR On Technology with Dan York" as part of the "For Immediate Release Podcast Network" and published the first full episode today where I interview a friend of mine, Randy Resnick, about how Google+ Hangouts On Air can be used by communicators. It was a great interview and I look forward to doing more of these in 2014. Having been a regular weekly contributor to the main For Immediate Release podcast since 2005, it's fun to expand out into some deeper episodes.
DEPLOY360 ON SOUNDCLOUD - In the "continued experimentation" stage, I started posting audio updates for the Deploy360 Programme on SoundCloud related to our work with IPv6, DNSSEC and other topics. I have some ideas of where I want to take this and am looking forward to it!
Beyond that, I confirmed a couple of people for some future Blue Box Podcast interviews, so there are some good things brewing there. And... well... suffice it to say I have some other ideas in the works. :-)
On this topic I wrote:
In a 2012 leadership workshop for one of the boards I am on, we were asked some questions that could perhaps best be summarized as "how are you using your life to transform the world?" To make it a better place? To bring people together? To strengthen connections and build stronger communities?
Here things have gone well. I've become much more active in a way that I'll write more about tomorrow. Our family is now helping out with some community breakfasts that are a very tangible way to feel that we're helping people in our community. And I've been helping out in some other ways that I'm starting to see are making a difference. And... I love that a large part of what I do for work is based on a clear mission focused on helping people out!
There's much more I'd like to do on this topic (and more on that tomorrow)... but I feel that I did make a solid start on this in 2013.
So that's a wrap for 2013... what will I aspire for in 2014? Find out tomorrow... :-)
In this holiday season, particularly for those of us in the U.S. around our Thanksgiving holiday, we talk a lot about "gratitude" and the importance of it. This year I stumbled upon this TED talk by monk and interfaith scholar David Steindl-Rast, "Want to be happy? Be grateful". The abstract is:
The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar. And happiness, he suggests, is born from gratitude. An inspiring lesson in slowing down, looking where you're going, and above all, being grateful.
I enjoyed it very much... "Stop. Look. Go." Simple words to live by (in the context in which he phrases them.) Well worth a listen...
Make it through mile 12 and still have energy!
Both of the last two years I've done pretty well up until mile 12. In fact, last year I was running with a friend and we had a very constant 10-minute/mile pace all the way up through mile 10 and maybe even into mile 11.
And then we got to the mile 12 aid station and I walked through it to have a drink... and kept on walking. :-(
I did get enough energy back to run the final bit... but it was a hard slog and I looked like I was ready to collapse.
A year later I've been running a good bit these days, although not as long as a half-marathon, and in talking to multiple people it seems my issue is most likely all about a lack of fuel inside my body. A friend who runs full marathons (and longer distances!) said that our livers have about 2 hours worth of fuel in them to power our body... and, gee, it's right about the 2 hour mark that I'm fading!
I did eat a bit during the race last time, but not that much. So this time I'm going to make that a regular part of the running... plus I'm doing some pre-race fueling, too.
We'll see how it goes on Sunday... as we often say, "third time is a charm!" (Of course, we also say "three strikes and you're out!")
P.S. There's still time to register to run if you want to join in - and they do same day registration as well. This year they are also offering a 2-person relay race option, too.