At Least He Never Walked

InfoWorld has declined to post my review of "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" because it is unrelated to open source.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Having run a ten marathons, countless half-marathons and a few 100+ mile cycling days, I am sometimes asked what the appeal is of long distance running or cycling.  Despite he fact that I have been running for more than 30 years, it's not easy to explain.  Mostly I think you either get it, or you don't and no attempt to dissect the experience will make much sense.  But luckily, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has penned a short book of essays called "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" that explains his own fascination (or perhaps obsession) with long distance running and documents his ups and downs running in Japan, Hawaii, Boston and New York.  The book has been recommended to me by other long-distance runners in the open source world and, short of embarking on a 26 mile run from Athens to Marathon (yes, I know that's the wrong direction), it does the best job of explaining long distance running or perhaps any endurance sport.  For those who run, the marathon running is not just a metaphor for life, it becomes as important as the seasons in marking the flow of life.

I expect that this winter I'll run another marathon somewhere in the world.  And I'm sure come next summer I'll be out in another traithlon somewhere, giving it my best shot.  Thus the seasons come and go, and the years pass by.  I'll age one more year, and probably finish another novel.  One by one, I'll face the tasks before me and complete them as best I can.  Focusing on each stride forward, but at the same time taking a long-range view, scanning the scenery as far ahead as I can.  I am, after all, a long-distance runner.

My time, the rank I attain, my outward appearance --all of these are secondary.  For a runner like me, what's really important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power. I give it everything I have, endure what needs enduring, amd am able, in my own way, to be satisfied.  From out of the failures and joys I always try to come away having grasped a concrete lesson...

And I hope that, over time, as one race follows another, in the end I'll reach a place I'm content with. Or maybe just catch a gimpse of it... 
Some day, if I have a gravestone and I'm able to pick out what is carved on it, I'd like it to say this:

Haruki Murakami
Writer (and Runner)
At Least He Never Walked

If you're a runner, or want to understand someone who is, this is a great read.  It's short, inspiring in a modest way, and you'll finish it in less time than it takes to get from Athens to Marathon.

Working with Marten

(Or the perils of working at home too much)


I was out of town for Marten's going away party so I decide to put together a brief video recalling what it was like to work with Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL for the last 5+ years.  Inspired by Joaquin Phoenix, or perhaps it was the Unambomber, it came out a bit weird.  But what the heck.

Marten, it just won't be the same without you.  Thank you for your leadership and the confidence you bestowed in those who worked for you.  Confidence enough to pay tribute to you in MySQL boxer shorts.  There's also a slightly more professional "Toast to Marten" video that I created at the OSBC conference. 

Seven Semi-Useless Facts

Negative sauna    

My good friend and open source-loving, running, beer-drinking community ambassador and MySQL VP Kaj Arnö (top row middle) has named me (bottom left) in the "7 useless facts" meme.  I don't mind.  I'd mentally prepared myself for this semi-fun semi-useless task when I saw Jay Pipes do this a few weeks ago.  I figured Kaj would fall soon and he would spread the virus, er fun, to me. 

Here are the rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

Ok, so here are seven semi-useless facts.  I am not sure if they are suitably "random" or "weird" or both.  They are not completely useless because they all have links to somewhere more interesting.  (Or at least that's my goal.)  

  1. A few years back, I created a humor site called I have not written any new material in several years, but there are some stories that I wrote there that still make me laugh. 
  2. I have an identical twin brother, Michael, who is much smarter than me.  (Also more serious.) I occasionally write at a blog that he created called  If you don't have a twin I don't think you can fully appreciate how cool it is.  For Christmas, I just buy him what I would like.  And, there's always at least one person who remembers my birthday.
  3. I managed to qualify and run the Boston marathon a couple of years ago with a qualifying time of 3:18.  While that's no world record, I still can't believe I ran that fast.  The good news is the older you get, the more time they give you to qualify.  I wish more things in life operated that way.  For runners, here's an article I wrote about how to run a marathon PR.  If you don't know what a PR is, then you might want to consider this article about running a first Marathon.  Sometimes I think I learned more from running marathons than almost anything else in life. 
  4. I am learning to play electric guitar.  I won't say I suck, since that would be negative. But it's safe to say I am unlikely to get the call from Angus next time Malcolm's out sick.  But I believe "brute force" mastery can make up for almost any lack of innate talent.  However, at this point, my best musical contribution may be a blog I write at
  5. In the Meyer-Briggs personality test, I am considered an ISTJ, heavy on the J.  That means I mean what I say and say what I mean.  At one point at MySQL many of the executives did a Meyer-Briggs test to help us better understand how and why we operated the way we did. It was a fun exercise and I  was glad that there was at least one person who was more J than I was.  (Maybe that's why we get along.)  I had done the Meyer-Briggs tests some years earlier and found it to be helpful to me in understanding aspects of my personality.  When I read the ISTJ description, it's scarily accurate.
  6. A couple of years ago, I decided to grow my hair long in honor of my mother.  When my hair got long enough, no one recognized me.  Then , I cut it and, again, no one recognized me.  It's been liberating in a weird way.  If you're looking for a reason to grow your hair long, donating it to a charity is a pretty good excuse.
  7. Kaj and I once did a negative sauna in Finland that went to -110 C (-166 F).  It was friggin' cold, so we sang Helan Går.  That's us in the photo afterwards.   

Ok, I hope that was moderately useless information.  And now I nominate the following good fellows to carry on this semi-useless factually quest.  (Sorry guys! Feel free to just make stuff up. I'm pretty sure that's what Kaj did.)

El Reg: Shuttleworth Makes Do with Lo-Def Porn!


Matt Asay over at CNet reported a fine article from the NY Times on Ubuntu  by Ashlee Vance, a former writer from The Register.  The article is entitled "A Software Populist Who Doesn't Do Windows" and despite the awkard title, it's well worth reading.

But reading this closing quote with Mark Shuttleworth, I couldn't help but think that if the story was filed at The Register, the headline would have been much more sensational.

“I want to find out what it’s like to have a gigabit connection to the home,” he said. “It is not because I need to watch porn in high-definition but because I want to see what you do differently.”

That's a real quote from Shuttleworth.  But of course, I'm joking about the headline.

Key Posts from 2008

Here are a few key posts from my various blogs from the last year.

From my InfoWorld open sources blog:

From onDisruption, a blog about disruptive business:

And finally, from GuitarVibe, my blog about guitars and music:

Me and Obama on the Campaign Trail


While travelling through Sonoma, I chanced upon presidential candidate Barack Obama.  He is definitely the quiet type. Really did not have too much to say about the Wall Street bailout, the economy or stopping the war.  In fact, he didn't have much to say about anything at all. He seemed pretty two-dimensional to me.  And we couldn't get him out for a beer to talk about cycling either.

That's me on the left.

Kindle $100 off promotion

I've posted a few stories over on my InfoWorld blog about the Kindle 2.0.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Kindle 2.0 is not gonna happen this year.  So if you're looking for an excuse to buy a Kindle right now, you could do a lot worse than take advantage of a $100 off promotion with an Amazon Chase credit card.  The original Kindle price was $399, but they cut it by $40 and now with this promo you end up paying $259. 

Ok, I hate credit card promotions as much as the next guy, but this seems worthwhile.  I have one of these Chase Amazon credit cards already and it means I accumulate gift certificates pretty routinely.  Not a bad thing if you're into books, music, DVDs or anything else Amazon sells...