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Highs (productivity) and Lows (blogging platform)

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Quote of the Day: “An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it.”

- Paul Valery

 

Last night something awesome happened….

GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!

As I was saying, last night rocked. Why? Because I got stuff done. I mean I REALLY got stuff done and in the process, I made some discoveries I will now share:

I KNEW I was being held back by me, myself, and I. If you have ever read Getting Things Done, you will understand what I knew but was too stupid to do anything about …. until LAST NIGHT.

You see, I am good at outlining personal projects (knowing WHAT to do), but the execution has always lacked. Then it gets stacked. Then it gets clogged and I find myself with a ton of stuff I WANT to do, but I never actually get to the actual doing because, and here is the kicker, I am paralyzed by the sheer number of things in the hopper.

Also, I tend to get obsessive and do idiot things like stay up all night, get all pissed, and not receive one little morsel of satisfaction even if I put all my might into a project. What does that cause? You guessed it, MORE inaction.

I realize this is nothing new and David Allen has told me as much every time I take the time to read his book.

Back to last night: I broke through. I cleaned up my office and threw away a bunch of stuff (felt REALLY good.) I then organized my projects, made piles of stuff to read, and actually felt good about the state of my “open loops” or things I have committed to.

It. Was. So. FREEING!

I also found this little jewel that I will give a shout out. It is called “Lift” and it’s an iPhone app that simply tracks the number of times you do something. It’s a habit-forming approach and the idea is that you commit to something and then each day, you click off if you did it. It tracks your streaks and gives you a little report of how you are doing.

My initial categories were:

Tell My Wife I Love Her
Write a blog post
30-60 minutes of reading
Write todo lists
Exercise
Brush your teeth in the morning*
Brush your teeth at night*

*I originally had those last two but then I realized I already had those habits down so I could remove them. If you put in habits you already do, then it is just a pain in the ass to keep updated and you don’t get that little thrill of checking it off (which, truth be told, is the real secret of all this.)

Today, I added “Practice Guitar” and “Publish Blog Post” (which I realized I needed to separate from writing a post since they are two different actions I have an equal quantity of trouble keeping consistent.)

Yesterday I even hung up my last two marathon medals up on my wall and to give you an idea of how long overdue this was, they are from the 2011 New York Marathon and the 2012 Seattle Marathon.

Yeah, I know…

As these things go, and what causes me hesitation sometimes, it was pulling a string and the time-consuming follow up turned into a time vortex that unraveled thusly:

1. I need to put my racing bibs in my marathon scrapbook
2. Crap, where is my scrapbook…

What followed was a few hours of a very pissed off me, looking for my cherished marathon scrapbook. Finally found it in a box in the back of the closet (not where it was SUPPOSED to be…) and my office looks like it was hit by Hurricane Sandy…

3. Before I put it in the scrapbook, I need to write my time in Sharpie…

Crap, what was my time? I know it was just under 4 hours. I tried to Google it (surely my results would be part of the official results page, right?). No.

(Put picture of angry cat)

I finally had to go downstairs to the refrigerator and look at the magnet I got with my official time. Do you think that the fact that I had to actually do this pissed me off?

4. Well, now I need a picture so I can (someday) update my webpage (I make a page for every marathon).

5. I also need a picture of the medal, which I also put on the webpage, and I should do this before I hang the medal on the wall…

…continues to pull string….

To accomplish 4 and 5, I have to get my camera out and try to take good pictures of them which I find infinitely difficult for some reason. Then I have to plug in my camera, start the shitty software that came with it, and transfer what I hope are passable pictures.

6. Oh, but first I have to rotate the pictures,

7. crop them,

8. upload them to Flickr,

9. and then file them on my computer so I can possibly find them again one day (will never happen) when I need them.

10. Now I can finally tape the bib into the scrapbook (note that this is STEP 10!!!!!)

11. And I can pin the medal on the wall which requires me to …

12. …go downstairs to the garage to get a folding chair and…

13. …move mounds of crap so I can get up in that corner.

THIS is why I cannot get things done. Thirteen steps to check off ONE todo on my list; a list that has HUNDREDS of bright ideas.

Enough pissing and moaning. And now, buried way down here, some comments on tonight’s Seahawk game….

We played the Redskins in the first wildcard playoff game…. and beat them. Both teams had rookie quarterbacks that are setting all kinds of records but Washington’s RG3 hurt his knee (which looked totally gross in slow motion) and we continued our winning streak. Next week we go to Atlanta.

The impressive thing was that we broke a 29-year road playoff game losing streak AND we were behind 14-0 after the first quarter! Then we went on a 24 point unanswered points terror to win the game.

I am going to shave my goatee when one of two things happen:

1. We lose or,
2. We win the Super Bowl.

Here is what is at stake, people:

Lastly, I will finish up with this little passion play. I got done with my blog entry and published it earlier tonight. My son came in and informed me that the background was not rendering properly.

Looking into it, he was right and he helped me do a little digging where we found that my “On This Day” function to my page was crapping out and it caused everything after it (practically my entire sidebar) to also do said crapping.

We tweaked around on it for awhile but in the end, we could not get it to work (nor its updated version) so I had to conclude that…

1. WordPress sucks ass
2. I can still blow most of a perfectly good night fiddling and getting highly pissed at coding
3. I can piss my son off by my own pissiness
4. My dog can slink downstairs as I raise my voice to my computer

I really don’t understand why something that worked for YEARS suddenly DOESN’T. The only thing I did was, and stand by for this level of stupidity, UPDATED THE WORDPRESS VERSION. Obviously this “improvement” made my “On This Day” function implode into so many bastard asshole pieces, never to work again without a total redesign and recoding of my blog.

So, after wasting the night (mostly), skipping dinner, making my son (and probably the wife) wondering why I am borderline insane, and scaring the dumbass dog, the best I end up with is a blog that is back to mostly normal, minus the sidebar function of providing links to past entries that share the same month and day as the current post.

And I wonder why things get procrastinated around here…..

Free Advice for Today: “Don’t let weeds grow around your dreams.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

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Blogception

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Quote of the Day: “TV is chewing gum for the eyes.”

- Frank Lloyd Wright

 

This might be a first… a catch-up blog that references the last major entry in my blog which, stay with me here, is actually a catch up blog in itself. Oooooh, it’s blogception!

So if you want to walk with me here, you are going to have to go back and read THIS BLOG ENTRY.

Caught up?

No, you are not. That’s why I’m writing this today: to catch you up from that catch-up attempt. Silly, isn’t it?

OK, so I went with the bulletized laziness last time and I think I will put that approach back to work because I am STILL a lazy-ass writer but more importantly, I think it works for this stupid catch-up dumbassery…

Here is how it will work:

I know you didn’t go back and read that whole entry so I will repost each bullet and then catch it up. The original will be in BOLD and my updates will be normal. Well, as normal as it gets in my world…

“I am currently a Project Coordinator for PACCAR. What does that mean? It means I didn’t quite have enough juice to be a Project Manager and am in a supporting role until I get a call to the Big Show. I am the Project Plan Whisperer and will be getting “Microsoft Project 2010” tattooed on my chest very soon.”

I am not a Project Coordinator now. Hell, I’m not even with PACCAR anymore. I launched the dream, people! I walked into HR one day and looked a nice lady in the eye, and slammed down my two weeks. Why did I do this? Some reasons I will talk about but some I won’t. What I will say is that I discovered I cannot live in a Dilbert Hellscape. I cannot sit in a cloth cubicle in a sea of cloth cubicles with my computer and phone and live like a drone. I just can’t. More on what I am doing later.

“I was a Production Analyst for Kenworth (same corporate company) which meant I was on the production floor all day being “The Man” oppressing the “Working Man.” Some saw me as this, some saw me as someone who actually gave a shit about them. Opinions vary. I did that for a year before landing a job at the IT Department.”

I still keep in contact with all of ONE person from these days. I think about many of them often and hope that my success will be a source of motivation and happiness for them but I can’t help but feel like I escaped a type of prison and I left quite a few people sentenced to stay there pretty much forever.

“I am also the COO of UrbanHarvest, a startup that is building greenhouses on flat-top buildings in urban areas and growing lettuce to sell hyperlocally. No, I am not growing pot. Yes, we won the UW Business Plan Competition (the Heisman of entrepreneurialism in Seattle) and are on track to be super-successful (little known business vernacular for “we blowin’ up, yo!”)”

THIS is what I left PACCAR for and although not as much has happened to it as we had hoped, it is still moving along. We have meetings with all kinds of interested parties and our latest project will be explained very soon.

“I bought a small hydroponic setup and put it up in my backyard. I have killed the first 4 crops but am narrowing down the reasons I am killing the innocent lettuce seedlings. Soon I might have enough to garnish. I would rather kill these guys in my backyard than in a greenhouse. My new job will be to set up the growing operation. Then it will be to teach someone else to do it. Then, eventually, it will be to supervise farmers at our different greenhouses. Do, teach, supervise. I know, crazy approach, but I want to wake up each morning NOT to go to work but rather go to my passion.”

The new plan is to build a small greenhouse in my backyard. This will accomplish a few key steps for the business:

1. We will grow lettuce and sell it at Farmers Markets in the area. This will establish our brand.
2. Once we make a certain amount of profit as a business, we are eligible for government funds we can use to expand.
3. I get to take my learning lumps in a small greenhouse rather than a fully sized rooftop farm.
4. Um, PROFIT! Hello!
5. We can experiment with different growing approaches and products to find the optimum growing conditions and inventory.

“I just finished the Insanity workout with my wife. Go ahead and finish your snide remarks… you done? OK, like I was saying, I’m halfway through my SECOND trip through this little joy called Insanity. Really? More jokes? Done? It is an intense 60 day program I do in my garage and I got through day 50 last time before forming plantar fasciitis for the first time in my life. I lost 17 lbs and gave it a couple of months rest before going at it again. I’m not much for leaving the score 0-1 with ANYTHING! So, yeah, it’s killing me but it’s killing my wife less and that is causing my killing to be of a worse variety. Kill.”

Like I pointed out, I finished my second trip through Insanity and turned right to running, training for the Seattle Marathon. Everything was going great until I hyper-extended my knee doing some P90X leg kicks with my church group. That caused more than a little pissed off days as my training plans once again took a header into a large pile of shit.

ouch

(OK, this is not my knee and mine wasn’t this bad but I felt like I needed your attention at this point…)

The end result was that I gutted through a grueling marathon with a pitiful 5+ hour marathon, my 27th overall. Oh well, I got the bling for it.

Then I got another one of my great ideas: I will give myself a one week rest and then get back to the Insanity workouts. But because I am not very smart, I decided that one through again was not enough and I committed to doing TWO cycles, back to back. That’s right, DOUBLE INSANITY!

What was my logic? Well, if I am not some kind of training plan, I will not stay consistent. If I say, “I will just get to the gym a few times a week because I don’t want to run in the cold” … I won’t do anything. I will degenerate into a lump of snack-eating gluttony and self-hate.

Since Insanity is a 60-day program, I thought that if I do it twice, back to back, that would take me through the cold winter and I should be in top shape by the time spring rolls around when I can get back outside and run again.

Sounds sensible to me. But then again, we are talking a double dose of a program that has proven it can kick my ass 17 times and twice on Sunday. (Actually, Sunday is the day of rest so my cliche’s wheels kind of fell off there…)

I am now currently on day 34 which also happens to be the last day of the middle recovery week (between the two intense phases) so starting next week, it kicks into high gear and for a month, I slam my poor body in a way that makes last month seem like stretch time in kindergarten.

“I’m also a Beachbody.com coach now. Let me explain that one: I wanted the shake mix they sell and it was cheaper overall to become a coach and buy it at a discount that to buy it outright so, yeah, I’m a coach. I’m not all that interested in the business side so my approach is “buy my shit or I’ll never talk to you again.” I don’t know why no one has bought anything yet.”

Nothing has happened on the coach front except me paying $15 a month for cheaper shakes. I am still drinking my breakfast each day (I know that sounds bad, especially from someone who is technically unemployed, but it’s a healthy, all-encompassing brown sludge to start out each day.)

“My son is currently working as an intern at my work so we carpool every day and shoot home for lunch together. It’s not a very big deal for me, I hardly think about it. I never was the one to be sentimental when it came to my kids and riding and working with one of them is just a passing consideration.”

Alex finished his internship and packed away all the money he earned for his college. That boy makes me proud! Now he is back in school and still working at the movie theater which means I am still getting free movies like you read about!

“My wife is no longer working at Spank of America which is good because they suck. She left to work for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Basically, the fund collects donations and distributes money to Marines in need who were wounded in combat. Carrie is a caseworker, works from home, and is basically a professional Guardian Angel. You know when people say you should do something for a living that you would do for free? She does. And has. She volunteered for the same program when we lived in San Diego years ago. She rocks.”

Carrie, also referred to as “Long-Suffering-Wife” in this blog, is still doing her Guardian Angel thing and as far as I can discern from her phone calls, she is pretty good at it.

She is also remaining very understanding with my general unemployment and believes, as do I, that UrbanHarvest is going to be a huge success soon.

“We have a new dog. Buster died and I can prove this because I have his ashes in my living room. Hey, calm down, they are in a vase! Toby looks similar and we claim he is a curly-tailed wiener-beagle. In reality, we don’t know what he is because we got him for free at a 7-11 (no, not on the shelves, it just happened we met a lady who was trying to find a home for the little idiot.). Boy, did he get lucky. He is treated like a king, of course. He’s an idiot.”

Toby continues to be an idiot. His highlight of each week is the 2-3 hour nature hike we take each Friday. This dog is the most affectionate dog I have ever met. He naps and sleeps cuddled up with me. (Yes, I still nap just about every day because, how do I put this …. I CAN!)

“I’m trying to get back into Getting Things Done (GTD). The irony of trying to get back to productivity is not lost on me. But I am still making lists and reading books like “168 Hours.”

This continues to be a challenge and most frustrating is the fact that I have more time than ever and still can’t seem to get on track with this. But hope springs eternal and I keep chipping away at it.

While writing this blog, I have been sampling my last entry and realize I didn’t even bring up my lovely daughter so I will rectify that right now:

Steph graduated high school in 2012 and was accepted to both the University of Washington main campus and the Bothell campus. She chose the Bothel campus for the smaller venue but will likely move to the main campus her last two years. My wallet is sobbing but she is riding a full scholarship thus far so all is well.

Oh yeah, and she nailed a 3.9 GPA in her first college quarter. That’s my girl.

She is also working at Starbucks so, yeah, free coffee.

There were a few more bullets on that last blog but, as I am trying to solve the verbose writing thing I have had going since I could write, I think I will cut off around here so I can get this published. Believe me, there is more going on but I think this gives a decent catch up of where I am now and maybe I can free myself up a little to post daily.

Free Advice for Today: “Always compliment flower gardens and new babies.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

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Wiseassery Once Again: The Beginning…Again

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Quote of the Day: “To be poor and dependent is very nearly an impossibility.”

- William Cobbett

 

Hi there.

Well, I guess it’s time for my every-six-months update. Because it’s a new year and that means a new start, right?

This is a well-travelled road and if you are reading this, you know the formula. I will bitch and moan about not keeping up with my blog and then I will publish this and then disappear for who knows how long. I might even promise not to but if my past behavior is any indication, I really do not have one, or even two legs to stand on. I hope not and that’s all I can logically promise.

I guess the question needs to be addressed: should I even blog any more, as scant as my entries have been notwithstanding? I mean, is blogging dead?

One of the reasons I have discovered for the slow demise of blogging as a concept (there, I said it, as painful as that is to admit), has a lot to do with social media these days. Short, concise entries in Facebook and the even more restrictive Twitter have not only replaced the mental energy to blog (hard to do both consistently), but it has stunted the general audiences attention span.

It’s no secret that I write verbosely. It’s one of the reasons I turned to blogging but that style has gone OUT of style, replaced by 180 characters worth of pithy mind flashes, void of much deep meaning.

There is a place for that so don’t get me wrong. One of the things that both blogging and social media mind-dumping have in common and that I find it immensely interesting is that both enable the writer to go back and relive memories that, in normal circumstances, probably wouldn’t be revisited for the rest of the writer’s life. And when enough time goes by, one forgets and it is like reading and experiencing new adventures experienced by someone else.

And if you are entertained by this, is it not worth spending some time every day capturing? I look at it as an investment in my future entertainment.

Although Facebook and Twitter can technically fill this purpose, I don’t think many people use it as such. How many of you go back and read any of your social media posts? I don’t and one of the reasons is that new material comes at me so fast from others, I never get the chance to ponder some of my old stuff.

But I do this, some times more than others, with my blog. I normally will look up the very calendar day, in years past, that corresponds to the current date and I “see” what I was doing on this day in the past years. It’s kind of a fun exercise to look at my life through the years using the date as a starting point.

With all of that said, I will once again attempt to reboot my blog and see how far I can take this. I have explained a few times how I set this process up but it is necessary to understand if the rest of my situation is to make sense.

I have Word files. Lots of them. I have “Blog 2009,” “Blog 2010,” “Blog 2011,” “Blog 2012,” and now, yes, the newly created “Blog 2013.”

Now, all these files are a series of the rough drafts of my entries have date labels with partially written blogs for most days. Some are blank, some have a few words that are supposed to remind myself of what happened that day, some of them have short synopses, and some have full blown entries.

But what all of them have in common is this: none of them are published on my blog.

I know, it’s a damn shame. A hidden treasure (if I say so myself, and I DO!)

This causes an interesting situation: do I pick up where I left off (2009ish!) or start now (like I did today) and let the gap just fester out there.

This simple question is probably what has caused the drought. I feel like I am abandoning so much of my life and so much of the writing that has been even partially done.

But it is exactly this that has thrown sand in the gearworks of the blog. It stopped it cold and continues to prevent my progress.

So here is yet another plan (I should start numbering these…), um, 7.05… I will just write and publish every day. Something is better than nothing so that is obviously an important part of the plan.

Second, I will ATTEMPT the famous “Jason Grose Butterfly” method. That means in addition to my daily offering, I will go back and publish ANY other entry (preferably along the timeline I left off in previous years).

Logically, I will catch up eventually. I mean, if I do more than ONE per day, mathematics dictate that I should eventually catch up. It might take years but it’s progress and at this point, that is just about the only thing I can expect out of myself.

So, I still have a lot to say but the length of this post is getting into the ridiculous range. Tomorrow, I will take care of some of the catching-up gap filler in order to bring everyone up to speed, at least to the point where my ramblings actually have some form of context associated with them.

For now, whew, there it is, my first blog entry in 6 months and the first of 2013.

Free Advice for Today: “Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

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