Burning 2012
Well that wasn’t much of a noise!

Five days shy of the end of the year and five days since the end of the world.  As everyone I think expected the cleanse by fire came and went without so much as a flicker.  Rather reminiscent of Y2K.  Except on Dec 31st, 1999 I was cooking steaks on the BBQ and ran out of propane.  

So now what?  Have we learned finally that we simply need to start doing the right things for the right reasons instead of ducking and covering in wait for the next ‘falling sky’?  In fairness who can blame people what with the media coverage of such stuff and fears being played upon by those that might want to keep us in the dark.

As a young student the class I found to be one of the more pointless was history.  At the time my view was that these things had gone by and life was like a road to travel.  Instead now that I am middle aged I find that life is cyclical.  Bad things happen, then good things, then bad, then good… but wait… there is a lot of neutral stuff in between those times.  And good things happen far more often than bad.  Yet people still seem cynical or at the least they are skeptical of pretty much everything.  Doesn’t seem like a good way to live if you ask me.  One of my favourite anecdotes is this one.

A man walking down the street encountered folks sitting on their porch and a dog lying on the porch whining and groaning.

He asked the folks why the dog was acting that way …

"Because he’s lying on a nail" they replied.

"Why doesn’t he get up?" the man asked.

"Because it’s not hurting bad enough" they replied… . .

How bad is it hurting where you’re lying today?

How bad does it have to get before you get off the nail?

It really doesn’t matter what the nail is for you, but if it is bugging you then why are you putting up with it?  Get off the nail, move away from it or remove it.  If you don’t know how, find someone who does.  The nail is certainly not going to move itself nor does it have any reason to.  It smacks of arrogance to simply ignore a chance to improve, especially when you are not happy to begin with.

For about a month now I have been thinking about the three main things in life everyone needs to take control of. They are the same things that have been said for decades, yet here we are.

Time: You get 10,000 minutes every week.  You decide how to spend them.  You can use them to better yourself or you can waste them.  It is up to you and only you can accept the results of how you spend them.  For more on that simply scroll back to my Tumblr entry back in the beginning of this year.

Money: You get a certain amount of money and if your gross pay is about $1,000 a week then see above since that means you are getting about 10,000 pennies.  Getting less than that?  Start living with less.  Your parents did, so did mine.  And before anyone gets all cranky at me saying that, with a debt to disposable income rate of 163% right now in Canada I will gladly work with you.

Food: You get pretty regular access to what you put in your body.  I’m certainly not a shining example in this arena and I will say that most of my friends are relatively healthy but seriously some people need to stop making excuses.  No time and no money, but damn straight they can hit the drive through for any number of options that they claim they simply have to do.  And that isn’t even talking about the really bad things people put in their bodies.

I know I’m getting pretty preachy and some might wonder if I got a new soapbox for Christmas.  Personally I am uninterested in how you decide to live your life.  But if someone were to ask you if you had the chance to do your education over again, if you would study harder and do better in school everyone says “Oh absolutely”.  So if that is true, why are you not taking that approach right now with everything going on?

Maybe it is time to actually listen to yourself and start doing something.  Maybe when you hear people saying “I wish I would have been smarter and started/stopped…” that it might be worth listening to.  Chances are you already know what you need to do.  Who is exactly is stopping you?  Maybe you just keep listening to negative noise telling you that doom is imminent and there is nothing you can do.  Wait, that keep being wrong doesn’t it?

The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.
Pres. Barack Obama. (while in relation to the shootings in CO, I feel it has a more generic application)
It’s been a while

I haven’t written much of anything here lately. Few have mentioned this but it is also true that most people only comment when they are very opposed to something.

Here we sit about one month from the at one time heavily discussed end of the world. In the past people demonstrated an almost strange attraction to this looming apocalypse. Now if anything when it is mentioned it is nearly comical. Well one could say the joke is on everyone. I’m thinking of having steak.

That aside, we have just under six weeks left in 2012. This might be uncomfortable but it might be a good time to reflect on what has happened this year. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Any good stuff? Anything you want to cram into the remaining days? Here’s one last thought, is there something that has remained stagnant that you wish you could do something about? I’ll share mine. I snore pretty aggressively. So much so that one option is to go professional. But really what I should be doing is getting my weight down by about fifty pounds. Way back I did start trying and was doing well but an interval knocked me off the tracks and I never got back to it. I’ve heard that losing weight can reduce or even remedy snoring. The snoring doesn’t bug me but maybe I’d have a more restful sleep. (Side note: he says while writing this at 1am).

Still, there is still the formula…. Identify a problem, make plan to address the problem, apply the plan, adjust the plan, succeed at the plan. Just because all of the steps didn’t happen doesn’t mean you can’t attempt it again. Failing to get back to the original goal is the truest form of failing. The rest is just excuses.

Better beans and freedom than cake and slavery.
M. Jones (Big Audio Dynamite)
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
Winston Churchill
A Year In Review… No, not what you are thinking.

One of my faults/ gifts is that I like to take a system that, to me, seems flawed and rework it.  One of the ones that often catches my attention is our somewhat awkward system of time measurement.

Twelve months in a year, 24 hours in a day, some months have more days than others, the day starts in the middle of the dark period, the year has some arbitrary beginning…. how the heck did we get here and why do we keep this system?

No this in not some desire to switch to Stardates, though that is more reasonable these days.  But even to the most casual observer the idea that one awakens to find a quarter of the day is already gone is not exactly encouraging.  Thinking more about it, even the names of the months found later in the year don’t make much sense.  SEPT = 7, OCT = 8, NOV = 9 and of course DEC = 10.  Metric tells us that obviously the year once only had 10 months.  For more on that see this article.

But we live in a world where even the television networks cannot see to synchronize the starting times of their shows, despite the access to atomic clocks.

There are certain factors that cannot be changed, those being how long it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun once and how long it takes for the Earth to complete one rotation on its axis.  Beyond that, how we choose to divide those up are completely our decision.  The fact that it takes about 365.25 rotations to circle the center of our solar system leaves us a lot of wiggle room.

So let’s go back to having 10 months in a year.  And when should a year start?  Sunrise of the Spring Equinox of course.  That is the day when the amount of daily sunlight begin increasing again, like a rebirth.  Now we have 36.5 days in a month.  Uh-oh, half a day?  The first problem.  No it’s not, we already have these quarter days in our current system.  Two months of 36 days then a void day that is free-form.  A built-in holiday!  A month of 36 days is easy to break up.  Six weeks of six days, where the standard work week is four on and two off.  I’m liking this.  Summarizing, the standard year would now have 240 working days, 120 days off and 5 statutory holidays. 

The calendar has been fixed so what about the clock?  First off the day should start when the sun comes up shouldn’t it?  But that doesn’t happen at the same time every day so it would have to be based on a certain event.  Who knows what it is based on with our current system but I would use the same Sunrise of the Spring Equinox.  As for dividing up the day it should come as little surprise that again I favour a 10 hour day, those divided into 100 minute segments.  I know, this is pretty confusing compared to 24 hours of 60 minutes (joking of course).  Under this new system we are starting the day with the sun, give or take.  We would be at work for a 3 or 3.5 hour day, sleep anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 hours and have the rest to ourselves.

For conversion purposes, a new hour would be 144 of our current minutes, or 100 new minutes.  A work day would be simply to work for 150 new minutes, have a 30 new minute meal break, then work another 150 new minutes then go home.  The remaining 20 minutes would be taken as breaks during each half of the day.

Wow, this is fun… albeit pointless.

A house is the result.

You can’t build a house without some kind of foundation.  You can’t have a foundation without making some kind of a hole.  That means you need to remove something that is serving a purpose so you can replace it over time with something that does the job even better.  Few people say “heading tent after work”

Yes, yes, yes… I know… this doesn’t apply to you because money is so tight.  And again on that same old theme that if you have money coming in and going out now, what will happen when you don’t have money coming in anymore?  Maybe some of that money going out right now should be going out to something that rewards you in the future instead of all of it rewarding you at this moment. 

Consistency is not my thing.

It should be obvious that despite some intentions that long term commitment to a project is a challenge for me.  This blog being a prime example, it clearly shows that setting a goal often is not enough.  This lead me to wonder why projects fade away.  For the first several months adding to this blog was fun but eventually it lost its appeal.  Recently I also tried to eat better, partially for some modest weight loss but more to just remove some of the more impacting foods from my life.  However once I went away for a weekend the whole project died a quick death, and not surprisingly my weight returned to where it once was.

I think I know why this is.  There never really was a goal.  No pressing need or reward to be had.  It really comes down to caring about the outcome.  On the whole I am happy and feel pretty good.  As such it was easy to say that I really don’t need to lose weight or eat better.  Besides, eating a bag of chips is satisfying.  The argument that repeatedly doing this will negatively impact my health doesn’t hold water since I’ve done this for years and nothing has changed.  Maybe it will shorten my lifespan, but the idea that I will have more energy and such if I get healthier really doesn’t make sense.  I’m happy now and can’t see being much better than this.  In a strange way it is a lot like dental hygiene.  They say that taking care of you teeth better can add three years to your life.  However the time spent on this when totaled up is three years.  A zero-sum result.

So goals… I really don’t know anyone that has any.  At least none that are long term.  Or if they do then they keep them to themselves for fear of being judged.  Most things people call goals are just desires, and there is nothing wrong with wanting something and working to get it.  People, myself included, mostly drift along doing whatever seems important in the moment.  No plan at all, and usually quite content with that.

Very little is approached from a preventative viewpoint, more often everything is reactionary.  It would be my bet that people that feel overwhelmed likely have too many things starting to fall apart at the same time.  I’m not saying that I’m any better.  Far from it, since I waste a lot of my day doing nothing.  I’m not talking about during my employment hours, I mean outside of work.  But the truth is, what productive thing could I do that would maintain its appeal and continue to be rewarding?  This is certainly not about winning over others, but more about having a reasonable product from the effort.  Maybe it is too much focus on the reward, and not just accepting that doing it is the reward. 

The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.

The Pilgrimage
By Paulo Coelho

… as seen on the Facebook wall of my friend Chuck G.