Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oh never, oh never, oh never again

This past Saturday, I had what I will only describe as an "interesting" evening. If you weren't there and want more details, you'll have to find someone else to ask. For the purpose of this post, what you need to know is, I wound up in not the best of states due to no one's fault but my own (with a nice assist from circumstances). What has lingered for me since then, is not the sequence of events that lead up to what happened, though certainly there are lessons to be learned there, but more what happened after.

The guys I was riding on the float with took it upon themselves to make sure I was OK. Some of them literally carried me on their back. Then they did what needed to be done to make sure I would get better. Now, I'm sure some of them weren't thrilled about it. I have no doubt there was much grumbling. And you can be sure they'll make sure I don't forget anything about that day. But still, they were there for me. It's important to note here that theses guys aren't what I would call my best friends. Some are closer than others, and some are more so acquaintances, but on average we're talking right at the edge of "ask them to help me move furniture" level of friendship.

I now find myself in the unexpected position of both being indebted to someone (someones in this case) and also feeling a part of a large group. I wouldn't say I've been "Godfather" scared of owing people a favor, but I've certainly tried to avoid it when I can. "Atlas Shrugged" probably had more of an effect on me in that way than I care to admit. So it's certainly new for me, especially outside the realm of really close friends and family. The other new thing for me is the "belonging" feeling I take away from all of this. I'm not a rebel by any means, but I've often felt like an outsider in most things. With this group I've felt like that often. But after this, I'm not sure I can really feel that way anymore.

Well anyway, that's what's been on my mind the last few days. Sure it's a little navel-gaze-y, but, hey, it's my blog.

Other things of note: loving Castle and Psych proving that police shows with a dash/dump-truck of silly are for me, can't get enough of pop-culture references on TV shows regardless of format, when did lightbulbs get so complicated to buy?, why is booking travel to Rochester MN for work nearly impossible?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Efficient vs Lazy

I've come to the belief that there are three variables relating to success: talent, luck, and effort. It's hard to get by with just one. Getting by with two is pretty common. Really succeeding requires all three. Talent I'm using to describe traits you are born with and that aren't that alterable. Think of the physical attributes necessary for some sports (height, large hands, etc.) or how some people innately get things like math or music. Luck is self explanatory, and is by definition uncontrollable. Effort is the one variable you can control.

I'm horrible with effort.

This relates a good bit to the last post, and this post itself is a symptom, but at the heart of it, I'm lazy. I've been called lazy for most of my life and I've always defended it, or at times wore it like a badge of honor. Not my finest moment. I've procrastinated for most of my life. In high school I spent more time figuring out my needed grade on the final to get an A in the class than actually studying. In college I decided most classes it was easy to get a B in but an A would require a lot more work and so went for just the B. Sure I've had success at times. Variables one and two worked out well. And sometimes I've put in just enough effort to do really well. The open question is why?

Why do I usually only put in just the needed amount of effort to get by?

On my better days I tell myself it's the engineer in me, always calculating the efficient use of effort. Is the A really worth it? What does it matter? Why not take the B and do something else for the rest of the day? The phrase "Perfect is the enemy of the good enough" comes to mind. And certainly sometimes that is probably true. On my worst days however, another reason comes to mind.

I'm just scared.

I read something recently, I think it was in Nutureshock, that one of the downsides of praising a child for being smart is that they start to only do the things they think they will succeed in. They won't even attempt something where they think they might fail. While this may have not been the cause for me, who can say really, I do relate to the symptom. Doing things with a minimum amount of effort is a defense mechanism. It's the safe play. If whatever you do turns out really well, you can smugly tell yourself "I spent no time on that and it was awesome. I'm awesome!" And if whatever you do turns out not so good you can comfort yourself by saying "Well, I mean, I didn't spend much time on that anyway." It's an out, a way of always protecting yourself from failure.

It's a balancing act for sure. There is still an engineer's brain inside this skull and I have to keep myself from falling down the rabbit hole on one thing or another. But I think it's time to swing the pendulum of effort in the other direction for a while and see what happens.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


And it's been four weeks since I've posted. Shocker. Habits, they are hard to break.

I'd like to be able to blame it on working at home. Certainly that hasn't helped. The ability to essentially get up whenever I want and just get my stuff done lends itself to not keeping a set schedule. It's a horrible way to be productive though. When I'm able to follow some sort of schedule for a few days it's amazing how much more I'm able to get done, both with work and stuff around the house, even hobbies. Hopefully I can string together enough days on a schedule to make that the new habit.

Of course anyone who knows me can tell you it's not just a working at home thing, although I'm sure it's an enabler. My schedule has always drifted, staying up later, getting up later. I had to set a 3AM bed time in college at one point in order to actually make it to class on Mondays. (You can stop laughing now Doss.) But even beyond schedules my ability to do nothing for hours is pretty legendary. Browsing the Internet for a few hours, especially when I'm avoiding doing "chores" is a special talent of mine. I'll cycle through facebook/twitter/email for an hour to delay ten minutes of washing dishes. It's sad really. Hopefully typing that out can help me change it.

TV Update: Dropped "Hart of Dixie" mostly to make room on the DVR. Something had to go. "Downton Abbey" Season Two was awesome! I think I'm just a sucker for British costume dramas. Still loving Fringe and to a lesser degree Once Upon a Time. The DVR is nearly clear so we may jump back into Mad Men or possibly watch a few Netflix movies.

Still reading Dawn to Decadence. Mardi Gras slowed down the reading quite a bit.

One of my reasons for restarting this blog was to get some practice explaining my viewpoints. Saying "I thought that article was interesting" and "It's such a good TV show" just doesn't cut it. I need to be able to say why. Next week, I'm going to pick something and attempt to explain my view of it. Stay tuned.