Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Is Everything a Lie? 2805.1 to 2826 Miles: 12/30/14

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This southbound leg in North Western South Dakota may be the straightest 30 miles or so on the entire route. Each frame in the animated street view looks almost like the frame before. For some reason, I enjoy stretches of road like this.


Today's post may seem unrelated to road walking. However, what a person thinks while road walking is a major part of the experience. 

Note to self: wear long underwear and mittens when
it's below 10 degrees

Is Everything a Lie?

Someone I know shared a post on Facebook that said Monsanto lost $156 million last quarter. The truth is they made about $2.74 billion. The person who posted said, "Come on Ben, you know lying is the new truth in America!" 

How will people react if this is true? I'm beginning to think it is true that people on both sides of the political spectrum lie. Often it is not intentional. They pass on a lie from someone they thought was telling the truth. Eventually it becomes what people believe.

The Kedushat Levi has an answer: "For whoever is false, nobody will desire to do anything with them, even business or speaking with them." I've been noticing I'm withdrawing from contact with others as there isn't much truth out there. For all the feel good posts on Facebook, I see others withdrawing. 

The Kedushat Levi goes on to say: "If it was possible for the world to be established without truth, a person would not arouse themselves to come to truth."

This is hard to grasp without knowing the whole book. I'll restate it. If the relationships between causes and effects disintegrate, then people will stop seeking these relationships. 

College is an example of this. It used to be going to college and getting good grades in a reasonable major had the effect of a good job. This relationship has disappeared. The truth of college has disappeared, so kids aren't going. The new truth is no matter how hard someone works, they will likely get a minimum wage job. There are exceptions, but not enough to make going to college a truth.

There is a hidden meaning in the word established. Established in this context means to bring into permanent existence. Without truth, our society cannot exist permanently. Even without education, people used to be able to find truth by observing causes and effects.  This is no longer the case as the relationship between causes and effects has been severed.

It gets worse. Our deepest need is survival. When people find they can no longer survive by telling the truth, the truth becomes they can only survive by telling lies. The Kedushat Levi also discusses this when explaining the meaning of the name Jacob. Jacob means to act towards others as they act towards you. This includes telling lies. The result is that in order to fight evil, a person must use the same type of evil.

Let's use coaching as an example. I read a post today by a person who obliquely stated that if you used them as a coach, you could make a bundle writing eBooks. All you have to do is write a great book the first time. 

The truth is, this doesn't happen often. Even if it does, the truth is it might be worth a couple hundred dollars a month for a couple years. The truth is, a person has to be in about the top 0.1% of eBook authors to make a living. That's one in a thousand. The truth is, a writer doesn't get there without writing many great books. The truth is, the number of eBooks has almost doubled in the last two years and is increasing by about 78,000 books a month.

I'd be more impressed if the coach had said they could help a writer publish a book they could be proud of. That is reasonably attainable.

Nature has truth. If I go in the wilderness, the wilderness will do what it does. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it's cold, sometimes it's beautiful. Sometimes it sends avalanches, etc. But it never lies. Mostly it's benign if a person knows the causes and effects and avoids obvious dangers.

Since falsehood cannot survive, those who live by it cannot survive. Neither can those who try to stay in the false system. The path to survival is to withdraw into those parts of society that are truthful, and they are becoming harder to find. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Welcome to White Blaze Viewers

Since I made a post on White Blaze I'm getting some backpackers checking out this website. I thought I'd tell you a little about it.

The 48 State Hike started as a 10 day motorcycle trip. I didn't have the time or the money to take the trip and I also didn't like the idea of riding on the east coast. I quit riding when I started backpacking frequently in 2010. I'd backpacked many times before, but in 2010 my son and I got into it.

I decided to convert the trip into a 48 State Hike. I'm one of those strange people who like to hike on the roads. Sure, I enjoy backpacking in the Colorado Mountains. Road walking is a different experience I also enjoy.

The route for the 48 State Hike is realistic for a real hike. It's not as impossible as it sounds on the surface. Now that I have the route planned, I'm micro-planning it and starting to write a comprehensive trail guide.

The route is about 8,600 miles long. It starts and stops in Pueblo, Colorado. I chose Pueblo because that's where I live.

The timing of the route is important. The earliest start date is March 15th. The latest is about April 1st. This is based on weather patterns around the country. In order to make it work, the route has to be hiked clockwise.

Road Walking is different than backpacking. For overnight trips, a walker should have a pushcart. With a pushcart, weight and bulk isn't as important, but the walker should be careful not to take too much.

The Road Walker can wear whatever clothes they like. There is no sense in debating what is best, because people walk long distances in all kinds of clothes.

As long as a walker walks most days of the year, clothes are irrelevant. They figure out what to wear and they acclimate to the weather. Even hot weather is not an issue. I take long walks many times during the summer when it's around 110 and I seldom carry water with me.

Resupply on the 48 State Hike is easy. It passes right by a supermarket every two or three days. Water takes some thought. The longest distance between water stops is 78 miles. They are on HWY 50 in Nevada. Most people do these stretches in two days.

If anyone is interested in hiking the route, I'll give them my complete plan in GPS format or as a Streets and Trips file. I don't mind if someone hikes it before me as I doubt I'll get the chance. I'm hiking it virtually now, meaning I hike the miles for real and log progress on the map.

Road Walker

Replanning:2788.6 to 2805.1 Miles: 12/27/14

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Segment 42 Map
Animated Street View
Animated Street View

Segment 42 is FLAT. It starts near Buffalo, SD and end near Belle Fourche, SD. It's about 70 miles between water sources. There are few places to stealth camp easily. 

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After my walk this morning, I discovered a change to the route that reduces the distance by about 100 miles. It means walking across South Dakota, but that may be better than walking diagonally across Nebraska. I won't include the change in the virtual walk as it would take too much time to replan the street views.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Few Days of Rest: 2764.2 to 2785.9: 12/26/14

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Animated Street View
Today's Weather
Completed Segment 41

The route follows 85 south in north west South Dakota. The shoulder is wide the whole way.

There are few spots to stealth camp. It crosses a bridge over a creek about 2/3 of the way. This appears to be the only place that gives privacy. There may be some spots on some side roads, but they might lead to private property.

A Few Days of Rest

I knew it would happen eventually. I've been pushing hard for a few weeks and developed a minor pain on the top of my right foot. I decided to take a rest day, but it took three days of rest before it was completely better. The fourth day of rest was laziness.

This is an example of taking a rest day as soon as a minor pain develops. If I'd done that, I probably would have only missed one day of walking instead of four.

On the last day of rest, my calf muscles started to get sore. I expected something like this based on a book I read by Joe Henderson. He said these new pains during rest periods are the body repairing itself. They didn't give any problems during my walk this morning.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Find your "Want to's!" 2,758.8 to 2,764.7 Miles: 12/20/15

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Today's weather

The route follows 85 south from the border between North and South Dakota. There are few places to stealth camp and I don't think there is a single tree to rest under. 

This leg is part of a 48 mile stretch from Bowman, North Dakota to Buffalo, South Dakota. If felt up to it, I'd walk the 48 miles in one day and take a day off in the motel in Buffalo. 

Find your “Want-to’s”


“Road Walking, why do you want to walk the 48 State Virtual Hike?”

“Coach, because I want to.”

“That’s what I asked, Road Walking. Why do you want to walk the 48 State Virtual Hike?”

“Because I want to! Aren’t you listening?”

“This is starting to sound like a bad imitation of ‘Who’s on First.’”


“Maybe you should explain more!”

“Ok, Coach. I’ll give some examples.”

Application to the Air Force Academy

“Coach, remember when we applied to the Air Force Academy?”

“Yes. We had to get an appointment from a state senator or congressmen. Our family didn’t have any political connections, but we tried anyway.”

“Remember how long one of the applications was? The last page was blank except for one question. ‘Why do you want to go to the Air Force Academy?’”

“Road Walking, I recall. It was a legal-sized piece of paper and they said to use single spacing when we typed. Yes – typed with Mom’s old Royal typewriter.”

“Coach, at first I thought about making up reasons, and together we decided to tell the complete truth.”

“Road Walking, I remember. You typed four words: ‘I want to fly.’
“Yes Coach. And that was the COMPLETE reason. That vision helped us see all the challenges as irrelevant obstacles while we were at the Air Force Academy. They were trivial things we had to step around, over or on to fly. We hardly saw most of them as our vision was pinning those silver wings on our chest.”

“We made it, Road Walking. Now we fondly recall the more difficult times.”

“Coach, why do I want to complete the 48 State Virtual Hike?”

“That’s easy Road Walking. Because you WANT to!”

Jennifer Pharr Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis holds the record for hiking the 2,187 mile Appalachian Trail. She hiked it in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes averaging 47 miles a day. But this is not about her record-setting hike. It’s about her first hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Warren Doyle runs the Appalachian Trail Institute about 10 miles from Damascus, TN. He has hiked the entire trail 16 times, more than anyone else. Only about 20% of those who start the trail complete the entire route. Those who attend his Institute have virtually a 100% completion rate.

When Jennifer Pharr Davis attended the institute before her first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, she had never been backpacking before. She had done some camping.

On the first day, Warren Doyle asked everyone why they wanted to hike the trail. Here is what she said:

I feel like I’m meant to… I mean like I was made to. I guess what I’m trying to say is I think I’m supposed to hike the Appalachian Trail.”

“It’s not like I chose to hike the trail, but more like it chose me.”

Jennifer made the normal backpacking rookie mistakes. She had the normal dose of difficulties. She made it because she wanted to!

Bert Nemcik (Trail Name Shadow)

Shadow wrote “See you Down the Trail.” Unlike Jennifer, Shadow was a veteran hiker. He almost made it sound too easy, as if 2,187 miles in the rain, mud, snow, wind, hail, and some sunny days could ever be easy.

Shadow quoted from “The Thru-Hiker’s Handbook” by Dan “Wingfoot” Bruce.

“A thru-hike is one long continuous journey from one end of the trail to the other end. If thru-hiking the AT is not the most important thing in your life, then don’t even consider it. Anything less than total commitment to completing your hike will certainly result in failure.”

Shadow said, “Many months later, after slogging through the rain for 24 days in a row in central Virginia, those words would come back to me over and over again as I wondered what I was doing walking between the raindrops.”

I contacted Shadow through the email address in his book. We’ve become good friends and he lives most of the year in Westcliffe, Colorado which is about 50 miles from me. Once I asked him how he completed so many projects. He said, “My father told me once you start a project, keep going until it is done.”

The Secret of Success

I’ve read many books about long-distance hiking and I’ve been on many backpacking trips. People complete hikes with all sorts of handicaps. Even blind people have hiked the long trails. There is only one difference I can find. Those who finish the long trails keep hiking and those who don’t finish stop hiking. Those who finish the hike “want to” and those who don’t finish “don’t want to.” Some take more than one year because of injuries.

If a person gets a good case of the “want to’s” they will be successful.


Goal-setting is a TOOL. I use it in all projects I “want to” complete. My style is detailed written action plans, but it’s not the only style that works.


“Coach, do you see why “want to” is enough?”

“Yes, Road Walking. If a person “wants to” they will somehow find the ‘How to.’”

Exercise for readers
1. Pinpoint your “want to’s.” Then start “hiking.” Along the way, continually improve the “How to.”

Friday, December 19, 2014

Is Goal Setting Destructive? 2742.4 to 2758.8 miles. Entering South Dakota. 12/19/14

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This leg starts in Bowman, North Dakota and heads straight south to the South Dakota border. 


Is Goal-Setting Destructive?


Author’s Note: This post illustrates the discovery process of internal conversations. The original title of the post was “Open-ended Goal Setting.” This topic led to a different question. “Is goal-setting destructive?”

“Coach, you put the words ‘open-end goals’ in my mind this morning. Why did you do that?”

“Road Walker, everyone fixates on time when goal-setting. Sometimes I like to challenge what everyone thinks and ask what if the opposite is also true? How would it affect the process? If I ask you to set some open ended goals, what would be the result? These are open-ended questions and people love to use them. Why don’t they set open-ended goals?

“Coach, I can think of all sorts of reasons why people need to be bound by a time table, but I’ll follow your lead and agree with you for this learning exercise. I’ll try to find some examples.”

Are Goals Necessary?

“Coach, a few seconds after you asked this question, I thought of an example that made me wonder if goals are necessary.

“Road Walker, this is unexpected. Please tell me about it!”

“Coach, I’m too active on Facebook. I counted my activities on Facebook yesterday. There were 14 including likes and responses to posts. I estimate I wrote about 400 words on Facebook yesterday!”

“Road Walker, that’s amazing! You did all that work without any goals?"

“Well, I wouldn’t call it work. Much of it was wasted time. Especially if I include the time reading posts without replying or liking the post.”

“What do you make of this, Road Walker?”

“Coach, it is possible to complete a large amount of activity without goals! This goes against everything I’ve read and practiced on goal-setting.”

“Road Walker, maybe this indicates it’s not necessary to have goals to be productive.”

“There is more, Coach. What do you think would happen if I asked a group of people to complete 70 activities on Facebook in five days? That’s only 14 a day.”

“If I know people, they would put all 70 off to the last day and then miss the target because their cat interrupted their work.”

“Coach, I think we found an instance where a time table results in less activity. In math, one exception disproves a theory. In psychology, the rules aren't as strict as there are always exceptions to a theory in psychology.”

“Road Walker, I just had the thought that the stress of a time table reduces performance. Let’s use a walking example.”

“Coach, I’ll relate this to the original chapter title, ‘Open Ended Goal Setting.’ Maybe it’s better for many people not to impose a time limit or walking expectation each day. This seems like the way to failure, but I can’t argue with the success people have making Facebook posts without goals!”

 Avoidance Behavior May Reduce Performance

“Coach, I asked a question on Facebook and received an interesting response:”

I'm writing a chapter on goal-setting for a book and I could use everyone's help.
How many activities did you do on Facebook yesterday? You can click on the down arrow on the taskbar and then click on the activity log to find out.
At the beginning of the day, how many activities did you plan to do yesterday?’”
“I've done 29 today and I didn't plan to do any at all because I should be packing. The distraction of my near moving miss, sent me straight to FB where I ended up spending too much time! Question to self: is FB a comfort blanket?”
“After I received this answer, I Googled ‘Avoidance behavior.’ I found a good definition here.”

“Avoidance behaviors are the things we do to distract ourselves from an activity or task to which we have associated an unpleasant emotion. Usually, this emotion is fear, which can include such things as worry, anxiety and panic.”

“What do you make of this, Coach?”

“Road Walker, I don’t want to form a conclusion too early as that stops the discovery process. What I will say is if a person is given specific daily walking goals, they may walk less because of avoidance behavior. They may avoid the stress of a not meeting a daily goal by doing something else.”

“Coach, I’ll add something from my own experience. Often I act to avoid pain in the present even though it may cause more pain in the future! It’s irrational, but it’s a common character trait. The ‘Student Paper’ syndrome is an example. Students avoid working for weeks and then do all the work the night before.”

Burning Desire

“Coach, I’ve thought back on my walking progress. I made slow progress for the first 1,800 miles. In fact, I made zero progress in terms of steps a day. I did make physical progress in the sense the mileage base eliminated fatigue and minor injuries. It was only when I wanted to that I suddenly increased my steps by over 50% a day.”

“Road Walking, in the book, ‘Positive Mental Attitude: The Science of Success’ by Napoleon Hill, he says ‘A burning desire behind your specific goal is essential, and you are not going to have a burning desire unless you have a motive that literally sets you on fire.’ Forty-three readers highlighted this passage, so it must be important. Napoleon Hill continues with ten motivating factors for people.”

“Coach, I think is reasonable to say goal-setting is destructive unless a person has a burning desire to set a goal and progress towards that goal. Let’s discuss how to ignite a burning desire.”


1. Discuss the concepts in this post internally with yourself. Share your ideas in the comments if you like. Opposing viewpoints are welcome.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Smart way to use SMART Goals! 2727.3 to 2742.2 Miles

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Today's Weather

The day ends in Bowman, ND. There is a Super Value grocery store on the east side of town. It's about 1.1 miles out of the way. There are several motels in town along the route back from the grocery store. 

The route south looks bleak for water, but if you zoom into the map, you will find Buffalo, SD 45 miles away.

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The Smart way to use SMART Goals

The information for this post came from "Critical Chain: a Business Novel" by Eliyahu Goldratt


If you read almost any book about goal setting, you will find SMART goals.

SMART goals are:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time Table for completion
I add they tell you what to do TODAY.

SMART goals can be a setup for unexpected FAILURE. That is because they are often inflexible and fail to account for variance.


Many people plan a long project with milestones along the way. They may make a calendar with specific activities that must be done each day. This is the beginning of the trap. Before I explain why, let's look at variance -- meaning unexpected deviation from the plan.


Variance is any deviation from the plan regardless of the cause. Variance ALWAYS happens! Sometimes it's positive and sometimes it's negative. Either direction can cause failure! This is counter-intuitive, so let's look at it more closely.

Negative Variance
When people get behind they think they must immediately work harder to  get back on track. Let me ask you this: When you made your plan, didn't you already plan to work reasonably hard? If you work longer hours to catch up, won't that result in more fatigue the next day? Isn't it possible you might reduce quality if you work faster? Will you neglect other goals to focus on the one that is behind? Would you want a surgeon to rush an operation because they are running behind? Wouldn't you rather delay the operation?

Positive Variance
Suppose a day goes unexpectedly well. On the hike, it could mean you walk more miles than planned. In a work project, it could mean you didn't run into normal problems. Those who work with computers know what I mean. The web pages load quickly all day. You find information quicker than normal. When your work for the day is done, you find you have an extra half-hour, so you decide to spend it on social media.

The SMART Goal Trap

If a person focuses on milestones for SMART goals, they are likely to quit working early when things go better than average and work longer when things go worse than average. 

There will be days on the 48 State Hike that are uphill more than average and there will be days that are downhill more than average. The walker will get fewer miles on the uphill days and more miles on the downhill days. If the walker spends 7 hours a day at walking pace, the variance will even out. As long as the walker doesn't stop early on the good days, the bad days will be offset by the good days. 

If a person working on a project works the planned time each day, the variances will average out.

Book Writing Example

I started a book the other day and I'm trying something new with my editor. (Deanna at Shanti Publishing.) I used to wait until the book was almost done and ask Deanna when she could edit the book. This led to short lead times for Deanna and probably caused her to work some long days. This time I'm trying something new.

I sent Deanna an email explaining the new process. I estimate my new book will be 25,000 words long. I intend to work slowly and only write one chapter a day, or about 1,000 words a day. My initial guess for completion was Jan 16, 2015.

Project Buffer
When planning a project, instead of inserting buffers at each stage of the project, insert a project buffer at the END of the project. I included the buffer by planning 1,000 words a day even though I know I can average more words a day. If everything goes as planned, I can give Deanna the final draft on Jan 16, 2015.

Each day, I divide the words remaining by 1,000 to determine the remaining days. I'm careful not to slow my pace if I write more words a day. I know there will be days I don't write at all.  The buffer should increase as I write the book. If the buffer is suddenly consumed by an unexpected event, I'll let Deanna know. If the buffer becomes huge, I'll ask her if it's convenient to work on my book sooner.

Partial Delivery
Suppose Deanna is planning to work on my book on Jan 16-Jan 18 and the book is not quite complete. I can send her what I've written and complete the book as she starts to work. I can also do this along the way if she isn't busy with other projects. 

Death by Multi-tasking!
Many people pride themselves on multi-tasking. Mentally, there is no such thing. The conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. There is speedy task switching, but there is not multi-tasking. Each time a person switches tasks, they lose efficiency or the quality of one of the tasks suffers. 

I can see this easily when I walk as the Fitbit tracks my stride rate. When I outline a book while walking, I stop frequently to take notes. This reduces my stride rate by about 20%. I take notes more slowly than I could sitting at the computer. I accept this downgrade in both activities as it's the way I enjoy writing. I would be more efficient if I focused on one task at a time.

As long as I update Deanna whenever the delivery date for the final draft changes, she can adjust her schedule as long as no other conflict develops on her end. If a conflict develops, we can make other plans.


Instead of making firm goals with completion milestones, make a variable goal. As the work progresses, change the goal based on work remaining rather than work completed. Communicate with the person receiving the completed project whenever the delivery date is compromised. Depending on the situation, they may be happier with an earlier or a later delivery date.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When and How to Increase Goals: 2715.3 to 2727.3 Miles: 12/16/14

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Today's Weather

There is an alternate route just before the start of this leg that looks tempting on the map. The route is only 11 miles shorter and there are 129 miles without a guaranteed water source. 

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It looks like stealth camping may be difficult on this leg. Stealth campsites are easier to find after dark. You only have to be out of the area illuminated by headlights. Another option is to lean against a tree (if you can find one) during the day to get naps. Plan on doing more hiking at night. 

When and How Much to Increase Goals


I don't usually set goals in terms of results until after I set them in terms of time. For example, I can plan to work a focused hour a day on a blog post. If I don't finish a post, I wait until the next day to finish it. It's only after I learn to focus completely on a task that I consider increasing the time spent each day. This gives away the whole topic, so I'll use examples.

Walking goals as an example

Suppose a walker starts by walking a half-hour a day six days a week. They shouldn't worry about the miles as they are output and not input. Most people will want to increase their time quickly as they get in shape and possibly walk themselves into injury, fatigue, or loss of interest. This may be a mistake.

Instead of increasing the time quickly, think in terms of progress during the next year. If the person increases only one minute a week, at the end of a year, they will be walking 82 minutes a day. This is almost triple the input and more than triple the output. The reason the output increases more than the time is the pace will likely increase without effort. The catch is to learn to walk the 82 minutes without a break or with one planned short break in the middle.

Learn and improve your focus limit

After two years of writing books, I can still only focus for 20 minutes at a time. After 20 minutes of work, I take a 7 minute break. Everyone has a different focus limit and if possible don't let someone else direct this limit. After eight cycles of this, I need a half hour to an hour break. Many times, I need to end the day.

The key to success is learning your focus limit for an activity and only working focused minutes. Initially, I could only work 15 focused minutes at a time and I gradually increased to 20 minutes at a time. 

The time to increase goals is when a person is able to improve their focus limit.  The amount may only come a minute at a time. It's better to get an hour of focused time than two hours of unfocused time.

Change the process, not the time

The focus limit cannot be changed rapidly no matter how much a domineering boss wants it. If they try to force it, production, quality, or both will decline in the long-term even if the worker works more hours. If the boss truly wanted to improve performance, they would decrease the length of the work day. Yes, that's what I meant to say -- decrease!

The wrong way to decrease the time is to tell a focused worker to work harder. It's not possible. The right way to decrease the time is to improve the process. In a business, that's the boss's job. That's what they get paid for. For the self-employed, they will have to find a  method.

Often, creating a checklist for the current process will improve work flow without effort. For example, here is the process for a blog post on this blog:

  1. Decide subject during morning walk. Write down 3 main points.
  2. Copy top part with pictures from a draft post.
  3. Get and watch animated street view from spreadsheet.
  4. Get weather from spreadsheet.
  5. Write a bit about the route for the day.
  6. Type title in bottom part of post.
  7. Add three main points as sub-headings
  8. Add introduction, support and conclusion for each subheading
  9. Proofread by listening - Send the blog post to my Kindle Fire and listen to it while walking on the treadmill. 
With a written process, I can improve the process. For instance, as I wrote this, I added the "Proofread by Listening" step. It only takes about a minute to send a blog post to the Kindle Fire. There are free apps for this on Amazon.


Improving performance to allow increased goal achievement should be an incremental process over time. First, work on improving focus. Second, increase time slowly within reason. Third, improve the process. Steady progress is more effective than trying to make output leaps.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Manage Time, not Results! 2697.1 to 2715.3 Miles: 12/15/14

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Animated Street View
Today's Weather
Entered North Dakota
Completed Segment 40

Route 12 has wide shoulders in Montana, but they are narrow in North Dakota. It doesn't look like there is much traffic.

There is a small convenience store in Mamarth, ND about halfway through these legs. 

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Entered North Dakota

Forward Planning and Progress Monitoring


Most people use deadlines to determine if they are completing a task on time. If they are writing a book, they plan time slots for each activity such as research, outlining, writing, proofreading, etc. Experienced writers know how long it takes to write a book and they may hit these deadlines closely. But what happens when they get ahead of schedule? Do they take some time off or continue working as hard. There is a trap in deadline planning that ensures many projects will be late.

Forward Planning

When I was in the Air Force, I'd sometimes go on six week deployments overseas. At the beginning of the deployment, they would advance us $25 a day to buy food. It was a long time ago, so $25 was enough.

Each day, I counted my money to determine how much I could spend a day during the rest of the deployment. This is planning by looking forward.

Children plan forward when on vacation. Did you ever hear a kid ask, "How long have we been traveling?" No, they are interested in when they will get to the destination. 

If someone is driving to catch a plane, do they ever ask how long they have been driving? No. They are doing a series of calculations to determine when they will reach the airport. Most people plan a buffer to arrive in plenty of time for parking, check-in, screening and boarding. 

Forward looking planing can help avoid the "deadline trap" that ensures many projects will be late.

The Deadline Trap

Take the case of driving to the airport. They decide to leave 30 minutes sooner than needed to allow for delays. Suppose the traffic moves quicker than the person anticipated. They have an extra 15 minutes and decide to stop for a fast-food breakfast. The line is longer than they anticipated and it takes them 25 minutes to make the stop. Then they get a few lights against them and they have eaten into 30 minutes of their buffer. Now, instead of being early, they are late. The line at the check-in counter is longer than expected. They are asked to step aside at screening. Then they have to run all the way to the last gate. As they arrive at the gate, the door of the plane is closing and they missed their flight.

4 x 440 Relay Race

This is important enough to warrant another example. It is inspired by "The Critical Chain" by Eliyahu Goldratt and "The Project Manifesto" by Bob Newbold and Bill Lynch. 

Compare a project to a 4 x 440 relay race where each runner will run one lap. The goal is to complete the four laps in four minutes.

The first runner runs their lap in 55 seconds. Instead of passing the baton, they weight until 60 seconds to pass the baton. The second runner runs their lap in 65 seconds and passes the baton.
The third runner runs their lap in 53 seconds and again waits until 60 seconds to pass the baton. The fourth runner runs their lap in 60 seconds. Total time: 4:05.

Everyone looks at the slow runner and blames them for missing the goal. Is that really what happened? Of course not. But this is what happens with deadline planning.

Deadline Planning Negates Early Finishes

When people meet a deadline, they often don't pass on the project to the next step. If they did, they would get a shorter deadline the next time. Meanwhile, they would get extra work to do.

The normal way of planning is to give a safety buffer at each phase of the project. The Critical Chain way is to put the buffer at the end. The project manager monitors when the project will be done, not how far it has progressed. Since the baton is passed as each phase is complete, it should run ahead of schedule on most projects.

Practical Application

At the start of a project, estimate the exact FOCUSED time in hours it will take to complete the project with zero delays. Add a 20% buffer to the ENTIRE project and have no buffers to the individual steps. Track the FOCUSED time spent on the project. Do not panic until you've used up 10 to 15% of the buffer. 

48 State Hike Application

The walker will have to average 24 miles a day which should take about 7 hours at walking pace. Instead of tracking miles each day, track the hours at walking pace. This will keep the benefit of good days which will offset the bad days. About once a week, determine how many hours a day are needed to arrive on time.


Tracking a project by time instead of progress is a new concept to many. Try it on something non-critical like house cleaning or yard work. I've been using this method for a couple years and it does help me complete projects quickly.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Planning away the Fears 2656.3 to 2697.1 Miles: 12/14/14

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I thought we were done with the long stretches between services, but I was wrong. It's 79 miles from Miles City, MT. to Baker, MT.

I suggest taking a rest day in Miles city and possibly Baker. 

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Since this part of the route is in the end of June, it also has the potential of being hot. 

At least the road has a wide shoulder all the way. By this time, the walker should have a good idea how to handle this stretch. Depending on how I felt, I'd plan to hike a good part of the second day before sunrise. 

Cold morning

Planning out the Fears


This post will focus on the planning that happens after the route is deemed to be generally walkable. The purpose of this planning is to add details that will plan away the fears. It will include food, water, navigation and motels.

Why Plan away Fears?

Backpackers say people carry their fears. If a person is afraid of running out of water, they carry too much water. If they are afraid of running out of food, they carry too much food. If they are afraid of getting lost, they carry too many maps and guide. If they are afraid of finding a place to camp, they stop too early. Most fears are unfounded and can be planned away.

24 Mile Segments

The walker will have to average 24 miles a day to make the trip in a year. Therefore, I'm zooming in on 24 mile segments. I'm adding supermarkets and motels in this pass through the route. The supermarkets are close enough together that the walker can take enough water to make it from one to the next in most cases. In the next pass through the route, I'll add gas stations and other water sources if necessary.

When person has a large task, it helps to break it into small tasks and focus on one task at a time. I'm creating a map and written guide for each 24 mile segment. 

Here is an example: (I can't show a map because of copyright limitations. I'm using Microsoft Streets & Trips 2013 to plan the hike.)

Notice I added navigation points to the route as it passed intersections or other landmarks.


Depart Arby's [719 W US-50, Pueblo CO 81008, United States, Tel: +(1)-719-5437750] on US-50 [W US-50] (West)

Turn RIGHT (North) onto N McCulloch Blvd

At Walmart Supercenter [78 N McCulloch Blvd, Pueblo CO 81007, United States, Tel: +(1)-719-6479861], stay on N McCulloch Blvd (South) (Consider skipping this one.)

Turn RIGHT (West) onto US-50 [W US-50]

At 9.0 Pass W. McCulloch, stay on US-50 [W US-50] (West)

At 12.6 Miles Cross Turkey Creek, stay on US-50 [W US-50] (North-West)

At 18.2 Miles Pass 120, stay on US-50 [W US-50] (West)

At Cross L Street, stay on US-50 (West)

Arrive 24 Miles End day 1

End of day


Depart 24 Miles End day 1 on US-50 (West)

At 24.7  pass Exit to 115, stay on US-50 (West)

At Cross 67, stay on US-50 (West)

At Cross County Road 168 (Macknzie Ave), stay on US-50 [E US-50] (West)

Turn RIGHT (North) onto (E) Main St

Turn LEFT (West) onto (E) Main St [Main St]

Road name changes to Main St

At Safeway [1414 Main St, Canon City CO 81212, United States, Tel: +(1)-719-2755221], stay on Main St (West)

Turn LEFT (South) onto S 14th St, then immediately turn RIGHT (West) onto US-50 [W Royal Gorge Blvd]

At 37.2 miles Start turn north on 50, stay on US-50 [Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway] (West)

At Pass Skyline Dr., stay on US-50 [Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway] (North)

At Pass County Road 69, stay on US-50 [Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway] (North-West)

At Pass County Rd. 3A, stay on US-50 [Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway] (West)

At Pass Route 9, stay on US-50 [W US Highway 50] (West)

At 47.3 miles Cross Arkansas river, stay on US-50 [W US Highway 50] (West)

Arrive 48 Miles End Day 2

End of day

Eventually, I'll publish a new virtual hike with all the information. 

Long Process

This process takes a long time and few people do it on a road walk. Many plan on the fly and hope they make it. Their opinion is if they change their route all the planning was for nothing. My opinion is get back on the route when possible if a change is needed. If the walker has all the information, they can walk more and plan less on the road.


Detailed planning removes uncertainty and removing uncertainty removes many fears. The trick is to make the plan detailed enough and not too detailed.