Tag Archives: My Life

Exit, Stage Left

The pain started in the afternoon just after lunch. As it became more intense, my first guess was: food poisoning. Having been down the under cooked meal route before I figured it would be a couple hours of discomfort and then it would be over… boy was I ever wrong.

I skipped dinner and went to bed early hoping to wake up better in the morning. That night around 2am in the morning I woke Karen up and had her take me to the ER. After getting a CT Scan and blood panel it was obvious to the doctor that my appendix was not a happy camper. As with a problematic Gall Bladder, surgery is the only solution. Lucky for me, this was a body part that didn’t seem to have a purpose in life. Once it was gone, it wouldn’t be missed. Without a lot of hesitation I was scheduled for surgery and a vitally important regimen of morphine (mmm, morphine…).

We were reassured that this was a routine procedure, and if done via laparotomy I would be back to work in a couple of days. I vaguely remember this conversation for two reasons – the first being my drug induced stupor (did I mention I was on morphine?), the second being the inordinate amount of pain I was in. By the time I was told I was scheduled to have surgery, the doctor could have told me he was going to take out my appendix with a sharpened spoon and a fork and I would have signed the release form without a second thought.

As I was wheeled into the operating room I remember thinking, “it’s awfully bright in here”. This was when the rubber was meeting the road, so to speak and after having seen countless episodes of E.R. and Grey’s Anatomy, I felt I was ready for my surgical debut. I remember the mask, I remember asking, “now?” What I didn’t get to do was count backwards from 100, and not more than two seconds later I was waking up in the recovery room surrounded by a totally different group of strangers. Apparently, I had survived the ordeal; three small scars were the only proof that the surgical team had done it’s job.

And so ended my non-surgical streak. Up to this point I’ve never had a broken bone or anything close to resembling a major medical issue. Looking back I guess it’s one of the best “problems” to have if you’re looking at being “put under”. Full recovery is going to take 3-5 weeks but I’m just looking forward to some time away from the office, making some headway with my Netflix queue and getting some reading done.

Adios appendix, I knew you well…


Rules of Life

The 6 Rules of Life

  1. If you like something because you think other people are going to like it, it’s a sure bet that no one will.
  2. Most doors in the world are closed, so if you find one that you want to get into, you damn well better have an interesting knock.
  3. Everything that you think is important isn’t. Everything that you think is unimportant is.
  4. Don’t shit where you eat.
  5. “Lean into it”; The outcome doesn’t matter. What matters is that you were there for it, whatever ‘it’ is – good or bad.
  6. Don’t sleep with people who have more problems than you do.

These are pretty ‘spot on’.


44

It’s my birthday, and I’ll smile if I want to…

 


Nook, it rhymes with book…

Reading and I have always had a love/hate relationship. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I hate reading. I just wish I could clone myself so I could read without the expense of time and there are mechanical gyrations of the actual handling of a book that I don’t like. Also, traveling with books always limits how much print I can consume on a given trip. In the case of traveling, I’ve done things, like leave books behind once I’m done with them or I’ve given them to fellow travelers just so I wouldn’t have to carry them.

In spite of the promise of eReaders making things vastly simpler, I have been a late adopter to this whole idea. Partly because I didn’t see how I would integrate an eReader into my workflow and mostly because it seemed that the expense isn’t worth the promise… Well, Karen was the first to jump on the bandwagon and decided that I would enjoy it if I just gave it a chance. She bought me my first Nook eReader in 2011 and I have to admit that for the most part the silly little device has opened up yet another avenue in which I can lose copious amounts of time to a single endeavor. I didn’t realize how much more I would read if things were as easy as a single-press purchase or if I had the ability to read books on my phone.

Now, as I add books to my wish list about as quickly as I add films to my Netflix queue I begin to wonder whether I should start to look at the expense in any way… in 2012 I was surprised to see that I managed to read 23 books and I haven’t made a real dent in my wish list. I’m also experiencing the problem of getting a never ending list of recommendations from friends and the internet. Now more than ever, the cloning thing seems like a better idea.

So, am I a believer in tablets as eReaders? Well, not necessarily. I will always reach for my laptop long before I reach for my tablet for computing chores. And I hate having to think about bringing one more thing with me on trips, but I will admit that for reading, an eReader has all those devices beat hands down. As far as ergonomics goes though, I still hate having to prop something up or hold it while I read. One of these days I will find a way to build and market ‘The Capsule’. This will simply be a clear stand that you can prop over your head so that you can rest your reader on it (height adjustable, of course). The Capsule will also include a Bluetooth or wired remote that will plug into your reader allowing you to flip pages without touching the device. I know it sounds very lazy… but don’t knock it until you get to try it. Much like having a TV attached to the ceiling, this type of setup will grant you hours of reading without the pain of holding something in your hands.

If you enjoy reading, I highly recommend either a Kindle or Nook or Tablet. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you will make more time to read and it will be easier to make the time. Finally, if you have a book you think I’d enjoy, pass it along. I always enjoy a good recommendation. :-)


Out of hibernation

When I first considered the idea, I didn’t think I’d be able to actually follow through. To be truthful, I knew that letting the blog sit for a year would be the easier of the two but I also knew that I would miss it. Sometimes being in this industry lends itself to cementing the introverted traits that I already own and I knew that I needed to push back a little and force myself to grow in other areas. A couple of years back I had come up with the idea of tweaking the traditional New Year resolutions idea a bit and I’ve had a pretty good run with my implementation.

I realized that reaching goals should not only be about achieving them, but also learning from the incremental steps along the way. My solution was to focus my efforts and try to bring a minimalistic approach to goal setting. So I implemented the “Do 1 thing a Day” mantra. At first it seemed too small of an idea to make any kind of a difference and it did take a bit or boundary creation to make it effective. After some thought it basically sounded something like this:

In the midst of the normal responsibilities and tasks that make up a life, find and complete an additional item that falls outside of that.

From humble beginnings, this way of thinking manages to get well above 200 things done a year. So think of it this way, all those extra things (fixing things around the house, personal development and community outreach), sometimes with a little bit of planning, become a reality. And after a year of pushing yourself to fix the hook in the laundry, or replace the broken sprinkler head, or make cards for friends and family instead of sending an email or text, makes for a long list of accomplishments that might otherwise have been put off or neglected.

Now the roadblock that I had was to try and find a way to reduce my digital footprint and increase my real life one in a new way. It seemed that my 20 year old self had been caught up in a routine of being more of a homebody and less of an adventurer. I decided to change that… I looked at my ongoing idea of the ‘1 a Day’ plan and built on it with a more “intentional” approach, and in 2012 I embarked on quarterly goal setting. Every 3 months I would focus on an existing or new interest and spend one hour a day with it – just to see what would happen. All the while I promised myself that unless it involved work and possibly a small amount of Facebook, I would stop things like gaming, pointless web surfing, my blog, my smart phone and other miscellaneous ‘computer stuff’. I chose my 4 activities and started my journey…

Now that the year is over I look back and I’m happy with the effort. Did everything work out as planned? No. I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t perfect but I also have a year’s worth of memories that involve a lot more personal development and greater connection with friends, family and my wife. I did manage to improve my freehand drawing skills, the meager guitar skills I have, my skills as a DJ and my grasp of French. In my eyes, that alone was worth it the effort and the upside is now I’m hooked on living a more experiential life.

This year, I want to balance some things but continue to include my new plan and either revisit some things or learn some new things. I’d love to tackle Italian or possibly Portuguese and if I could find a way to learn ventriloquism or sailing, I’ll make it happen this year.

And so I’m back. For better or worse and even if it’s just for myself – I’m dusting off this part of my life and seeing if I can find a compromise with my digital self. Maybe I’ve got another decade of things to say, maybe not – I guess I’ll find out…


Mandatory time off

This year my company decided to make everyone enjoy some time off in between Christmas and New Year’s. I usually take the time off anyway, but it is rather annoying. I’m doing my usual miscellaneous and left over projects in and around the house. Spending time with friends that we don’t see all that often and of course, taking in the assessment of this past year and making plans for 2012.

Last.fm reports another 2,132 tracks listened in 2011. My Nook reports that I’ve read 23 books this year. I’ve slogged through 7 video games and Netflix reports another 52 movies under my belt. I managed to keep my New Year’s resolution of doing just one thing a day (think of it as a task list type of endeavor) but I think I’m going to add some more constructive things to the matrix for 2012.

This next year I’ve decided to tackle 4 projects each quarter and devote 1 hour a day to the activity and see what happens. So, for 2012 here are the plans – along with all the aforementioned madness and my ongoing martial arts training I will be doing the following: First Quarter will be more time behind my NS7. Second quarter I will be focusing on my freehand drawing skills. Third quarter, I’m going to pick up my guitar again and actually take some lessons. Finally, for the last quarter of the year, I will be busy making my way to conversational French.

I like the idea of spending an hour a day and focus on one thing and I’m already planning for 2013… Ventriloquism, Sign Language, Golf, Target Shooting… the list goes on and I think it will be interesting to track my progress and see how well I managed to keep to my goals. 2011 was a good year but it’s time to take it up a notch…


Sinterklaas

Christmas is here. It’s good to be around family and friends. I hope you all have the best holiday season yet. Cheers.


Field Trip

Today we ventured over to the Dutch store to get our annual collection of chocolate letters for everyone to have at Christmas Dinner. It’s been long enough for me now that this tradition has become a permanent fixture in my Christmas celebration. Much like the mandatory Pisco Sour shot at New Year’s, the chocolate letters are one of the things I look forward to. This year things are a little better during the holidays and we even managed to take mom to the store with us. As the week winds down there are Pierogies to be made and of course, one of my favorites: Borscht soup. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done, but just like weddings, it all falls in to place at the last minute – you just gotta hang on long enough. Here’s me hanging on.


Wrapping up

The parking lots are starting to get fuller and the media blitz that accompanies Christmas is in full swing. Somehow we are closing in another new year and it’s still a surprise, sort of. The year has been a blur of half baked plans, trips, get-togethers, concerts, tears, laughter and moments of quiet solitude. It’s been a blast. I’m sure that the next 3 weeks will go by quickly but I’m looking forward to trying new things and pushing myself a bit more in 2012. Karen and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage next year and that’s hard to believe… Well, not really, but it’s still a pretty good milestone.

So yeah, things are on a definite upswing and we’re enjoying it for what its worth. We’ve made an extra effort to remove ourselves from most ‘life equations’ and an even better effort at ‘purposeful living’. What else can you do – right?

I’m looking forward to Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Resolutions; I’ve got some ideas I want to try out for the new year and re-inventing yourself is never easy, but it can be a lot of fun if you embrace it completely. Whether everything turns out to be status quo in 2012 or the planet falls into galactic oblivion, it will find me playing life as loud as I can, for as long I can…


Enqueue’d

I’ve never been a fan of iTunes. There are various reasons behind this, but I think that it’s mostly due to the DRM controls that Apple has had to put in place to appease the music industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of the original product; SoundJam. SoundJam was a lightweight, full featured and extensible music player. Cassidy & Greene’s version of Winamp for the Mac was awesome, but therein lies the problem. It was so good that Apple decided to buy it than to try and compete with it. Of the two products that I loved back then, SoundJam and Audion, SoundJam was picked to become the world’s most recognizable music player of all time.

After the product was bought and development began by some of the original SoundJam developers and Apple’s own development team I had hopes. As it turned out the loyal fans of SoundJam realized that iTunes was a mere shadow of it’s original self and a complete disappointment for those of us who enjoyed the tweaking aspect of the previous version. Ever since, in my opinion, it has gotten worse… bigger, more feature laden, slower and harder to manage your music library. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can’t argue against its success and I can understand its mass market appeal, as well as some of the design choices that Apple made. After all, iTunes is so much more than just a mere mp3 player, but that’s the reason I ultimately abandoned the product and what it it looks like today.

If iTunes were a fighter, it would be overweight and out of shape and that’s sad. So many limitations and not enough time to talk about all of them… Needless to say I’ve been looking for a worthwhile replacement for a LONG time and… behold, I have finally found one. Enter Enqueue.

Now, before you start getting all rebuttals going, I’ll be the first to admit that Enqueue is not for everyone, and that’s okay. I was looking for some specific things and though Enqueue doesn’t have all the features I think it should have, it makes up for it in simplicity and power. The best part about Enqueue is that I can add multiple folders for it to “watch” and it supports most of the music file formats out there, including FLAC, which is the most important. You can create playlists and you can edit tags just like in iTunes, but this app is all about keeping all of your libraries under one roof and playing them without a hiccup.

No more worrying about adding things to iTunes and then removing them when I’m done. No more having to convert files from one format to another and compromising sound quality. I can work and rework my library at the Finder level and Enqueue continues to roll with the punches. This feature alone made a compelling argument due to the heavy rotation of music I trudge through on a weekly basis. I love this product so much that I actually paid for the app… yes, you heard me, ”paid” for it – and that’s a rare thing indeed.

I highly recommend Enqueue for those of you who are just looking for a great music player; not genius, not streaming audio, not the app store or managing an electronic device… Maybe you don’t even realize that you’re putting up with a lot just to hear some great music, so why not find out and see if that’s the case…

And for those of you who are obsessed with the best audio… give Audirvana Free a shot. This player is definitely the ugly step child of MP3 players but the best part about it is that it uses Apple’s Core Audio Engine and for the purest quality of sound, nothing beats Audirvana cranking out your favorite album (FLAC version of course) over a good pair of earphones. Believe me, it’s a difference you can hear and it will definitely put a smile on your face.