Category Archives: Ramble

Going slow

It’s really easy to get out there and give it everything you have.  It’s even rewarded in our culture.  When’s the last time you heard someone say, “Go out there and give it 20%!”?

Fact is, just like you can’t get your car un-stuck from a snowbank by flooring the pedal, you can’t expect success by giving your full effort.  That’s a certain recipe for burnout.  Mind you, if I’m being chased by a ravenous bear, I might go all out until I pass out from exhaustion or until the bear gets me.  But that’s not what I’m on about.  I’m talking about long-term success.

I’ve signed up for a half-marathon in May.  And for the next few months, I’m subscribing to the 80/20 principle when it comes to my training.  This week begins a 15-week structured training plan: 80% of my workouts will be done at low-intensity, and 20% at moderate-to-high intensity.  I’ll be using heart rate as my primary metric to help manage my effort.

Going slow is hard!

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I like blogging, but…

…I never seem to take the time to sit down and put my fingers on the keyboard.  It doesn’t help that nobody (except you, and maybe one other person) reads it.  Then again, some have said that blogging isn’t for them; it’s for me.  And particularly when it comes to projects that I’m working on, it’s probably a nice idea to have some kind of record of what I did, so maybe one day when I need to remember how I did that thing, I’ll have some written (and easily searchable!) memory of it.

And there are the things we all talk about this time of year.  Goal setting, resolutions, whatnot.  I’m not a fan of “New Year’s Resolutions”, because I don’t think we should limit ourselves to just one time of the year when we can look back at the past year and make plans for the new one.  At the same time, I usually take some time off work at this time of year, and I do often find myself with thoughts to spare.

2018 was a big year for me.  Some big life changes.  I travelled overseas (i.e., outside North America) for the first time, to Iceland (too bad; the tourists are ruining Iceland).   But there were some things this year I didn’t focus on.  Good thing: I have time, still.  And better yet: In the end, none of this will matter.  But for now, I make plans for 2019 and the years beyond.

Looking into 2019

I’m not going to get into my personal or career stuff here now, but there are three hobby areas that I’d like to rekindle, broadly categorized under Health, Technical, and Creative.  The three sometimes blend into each other, which is nice.

Triathlon, Running and stuff

Triathlon doesn’t show up much in my calendar this year.  When people ask, I usually just say, “I’ve decided I don’t like long course, and I’ll probably do a sprint or two this year.”  For now, the only thing I’ve actually written in ink on the calendar is the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon.  You should do it too.  It’s fun.  I’ve done it a few times, but not recently.

But I’ll be on Zwift.  Look me up and we’ll do loops around the volcano.

Triathlon: I’ll probably do a sprint or two, this year.  We’ll see.

Robots

I build robots in my spare time.  I say robots, but what I really mean is random crap that uses electricity.  But in my usual learn what I can about something, then move on approach, I’m finding myself wanting to pare my list of projects down to some reasonable shortlist.  Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches on a digital photo frame that uses the parts from an old laptop computer.

Photography

I traded in all my camera gear last year, for a much smaller yet equally capable mirrorless number.  It was mostly so I’d have something for my overseas trip in November (and it served me well for that), but since it’s much smaller yet equally capable, I’ll be more apt to lug carry it around.  I’ll be cheering on my friends at Ironman Canada this summer, so watch my Flickr photostream for that.

That reminds me… Flickr is dead.  Or at least it was dead.  Now it’s in critical condition, and I’m hoping that it recovers.  The PR from SmugMug makes me hopeful, but we’ll see.

Elite, yet normal.

I posted this link last year, but somehow it lost the video reference.  So here it is again.

We have Jens Voigt of Team Saxo-Bank showing The Internet around his hotel room.  I’m not particularly a follower of Voigt, but he is almost certainly a stronger athlete than I.  But he is still human, and shares the same kinds of concerns that us mere mortals do.

Some Random Suggestions

13 excerpts from an e-mail that a good friend sent me about a year ago:
  1. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  2. Clear your clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
  3. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  4. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  8. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  9. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  10. Forgive everyone for everything.
  11. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  12. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time!
  13. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

That blue sensory awareness potion

I remember one summer in my childhood. My brother and I were dropped off at the community centre daycamp, and off we all went to the woods. When we got there, our fearless daycamp leaders gave us each a jar of a mysterious blue liquid. This liquid, we were told, would enhance the smell of everything and anything it were to be applied to. Everything, that day, smelled so vibrant and intense!

Now, being a grown adult, and with the perspective that time brings, I know that this mysterious blue liquid was a placebo, and it’s efficacy was based purely on psychology.

But as a kid, I didn’t know any better.

And I wanted to get my hands on some of this mysterious blue liquid. I wanted so much to be able to experience the smells of everything around me, like I did that day in the woods. So of course, as I was known to do, I asked the leaders the next time we had a daycamp. Of course, nobody wanted to tell me the truth about that blue liquid. It was a guarded secret. But I kept pushing. I wanted to know how it was made. And they wouldn’t tell me.

About a week of this goes on, and by this time dear ol’ mom gets involved. She is the one who finally finds out the reality, that this combination of water and food colouring is nothing magical.

But looking back again, as an adult, with the perspective of an adult, I know now that the mysterious blue liquid really was magical. It was able to something for us kids, that we adults are often unable to do: to live in and experience the present. To be in the moment. In the now.

I like to tell people that although I am getting older, I have no plans to grow up. It is important, to me, to never give up on my excitement and wonder about the world. We so often lose touch with our curious selves. There is nothing wrong with being an enthusiastic and curious individual.

With vs. For

I had a conversation last week which led to a realization: The distinction between the two words with and for.  Consider the subtle differences between the two prepositions.  I’m looking particularly at the way in which they are used in the context of collaboration or employment.

With: Accompanied by, moving in the same direction, in concert and in proportion to something or someone.

For: In benefit of, or employed by someone or something.  In the service of someone or something.

As an idealist (according to Myers-Briggs, as well as the dictionary definition), I have a tough time dealing with offenses against the human spirit, and an even harder time dealing with what I consider at first to be offenses against my own human spirit (dreams, goals, ambitions, passions).  So it occurred to me, that perhaps the slight shift in usage between these two words might be a telling signal.

Consider phrases that use the preposition, “for:”

  • I work a 9-5 job for Super Mega Corp.
  • I make dinner for my family.

Now, consider:

  • I work a 9-5 job with a team of bright and talented individuals.
  • I enjoy an hour of my evenings with my family, cooking dinner, eating and talking about our days.

Again, it is subtle.  But I’m discovering that there is more power, and potentially more joy to be found by behaving collaboratively, building towards an ideal goal.  It starts with the way we focus our energy, and energy focus starts with the way we formulate our ideas and thoughts.  Life becomes less about enduring hardship, and more about overcoming it.  Choose a positive thought!

Musings on the topic of productive employees

It seems to me like there are a few companies that have an ideal mix of work/life balance, but more often than not, these companies are really not living the balance.  And often if we try as employees to engage in some semblance of a balance, well, there are just so many aspects to life to find balance.  It’s tough!

Why can’t we do like other countries do?

In Spain, Mexico, and other places that use Spanish words, they have a thing called “siesta.”  People take a rest in the afternoon and (usually) come back to work afterward, refreshed and ready to take on whatever’s on their plate.

In Japan, like we all saw in that episode of Heroes, they go up to the roof every morning and do crazy exercises. Workers begin their day with oxygen-rich blood coursing through and feeding their brains.

Here in Canada, what do we get? Maybe a bike locker in the basement and a maybe a shower room. The rest is up to you. As long as you don’t do it around company facilities or on company time.

But study after study shows that workers are more productive when they have endorphins running through their systems.  Easy to write a business case and point to these kinds of things.

Are companies just to chicken to expose themselves to the legal implications of doing anything other than sitting in an office chair? Mind you, I have a massage therapist who tells me that more of her patients are so messed up from sitting in office chairs all day…

Don’t get me wrong, I love the kind of work that I do, I just think it needs to be more balanced.  I’m a bit upset today since I haven’t been feeling well, I haven’t been able to get outside and run or bike, so perhaps at this moment I am just feeling a bit of cabin fever.  Fortunately for my work, I am able to sit here in a chair with my laptop.

So, in an effort to actually propose some kind of solution rather than just complain, here goes:

Work from home one day per week.  Instead of commuting, in the time that you would normally commute, go for a run or a yoga class.  Then get to work (and quit blogging all the time)!