More Home Improvement

The hardware store is basically a second home to me. I spend enough time there that all the employees know my name and have recently even begun inviting me to social gatherings such as block parties or their children’s birthdays. It’s nice of them, certainly, but it makes my shopping trips that much longer when I have to stop for cake, ice cream, and the appropriate amount of social interaction.

Of course, it’s rude to arrive empty handed, so I find myself at a different store, hunting for a present, usually a gift card inside another card. For as many cards as Hallmark makes, they have little in the line of “child of employee of store I visit far too often” so I’m usually browsing through the section “for complete strangers” while trying to figure out what is age appropriate for the particular occasion. Continue reading

Home ownership and the subsequent adventures.

It’s well known among DIY homeowners that any home improvement project will take three to eight times longer than expected. The project will also require n + 2 trips to the hardware store where n is the number of trips one would reasonably expect the project to require.

As always, the project begins with optimism. You are increasing your quality of life, improving your homes resale value, and adding another task to your list of personal accomplishments.

It’s a cause for celebration, or will be, once it’s done.

The first trip to the hardware store is always the best. You spend some time checking out the sales and weighing options. This is when you make the most important decisions about how much money you would like to spend on this project. Though what you would like to spend has little effect on the actual end cost.

Sadly, it is statistically improbably that you will purchase everything you need on that first try. Likely, you’ve forgotten an important adapter, or purchased the wrong size. Perhaps you’ve misremembered your screw inventory or assume that you have the right parts at home, when you actually don’t. Continue reading

The Emperor’s Soul

I found myself at the local library, waiting for a computer to do the things computers are suppose to do and take a while to accomplish. I decided this would be a perfect time to find a new book to read and stumbled onto a novella by Brandon Sanderson.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson is a wonderful little story. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Sanderson that doesn’t make Lord of the Rings look brief and I was very interested to see how his style worked for smaller tales–it works quite well.

Plot-wise, the story a simple tale about a young thief who was caught stealing and now must complete a difficult task for her captors to be let go. Will she be able to tackle this impossible task? Will she be able to escape? Will they kill her anyway? The story kept me guessing till the end.

I am continually impressed with Sanderson’s magical constructs. The magic in the world of The Stormlight Archive series filled me with longing to experience Stormlight. Despite being a lighteyes, I never will, because that magic doesn’t exist in the real world. But I can imagine that it actually might. When I moved on to the Mistborn Trilogy, I was enthralled by how different the magic was. By the end of those books I wished I was Mistborn.

Within each universe Sanderson creates, there’s a different set of magical principals, yet each is as solid as the laws of physics. They are well thought out and consistent, it feels like it could be real.

That said, the magic within this book, does seem the most fuzzy to me. The idea of rewriting an objects history to forge an object into a different version of itself can be difficult to wrap your mind around. But then, isn’t that what magic is suppose to be? Mind bending? Not-logical? Supernatural? Exciting?

Sanderson is a prolific writer and quickly becoming one of my favorite authors of all time. If you’re at all into the fantasy genre and haven’t picked up one of his books, The Emperor’s Soul might be a good place to start. It will give you a good feel for his style and the world’s he creates. If you find it enjoyable, I would definitely recommend moving on to some of this other work.

A crime against humanity–and a few logical fallacies.

I like to think myself a reasonable person. I like kittens, I’ve never punched an infant. Not everyone is levelheaded though, and I can respect that. What I have trouble respecting, however, is the concept of daylight savings time.

Time Out

I don’t understand it. It’s crazy to me. In my mind, it is the perfect example of the wrong solution to a “might be a” problem.

The whole concept of time is so that we can all be one the same page when we want to meet together. It’s a reference for collaboration. It makes travel easier. It makes communication easier. It’s a standard… and a standard is most useful when it’s not in flux.

standard: noun stan·dard \?stan-d?rd\
4: something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality – Merriam-Webster

Presumably, there are people who claim DST has “benefits.” I have yet to be convinced.

Here’s the thing that I find most irritating.

Many publications credit DST’s proposal to the prominent English builder and outdoorsman William Willett, who independently conceived DST in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer’s day. An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, a proposal he published two years later. – Wikipedia (emphasis added)

If I understand this correctly… rather than find a way to start his golf game earlier… he instead advocates that a billion other people change their clocks. Meaning: Willett has the political influence to inconvenience the world’s current and future population, but somehow doesn’t have enough control over his own schedule to change his tee time.

I… have no words for this. (Just kidding, I have lots of words on this.) It’s crazy making.

He has the ear of the governmental leaders and rather than suggest that maybe business, factories, and schools change the time they start and stop each day he suggests that everyone (in perpetuity) change their clocks twice a year.

What great piece of utopia-creating legislation did we (as a human race) fail to think about and pass because someone wanted to spend a little more time on the golf course? Thanks a lot Willett.

Progress Reviews

So, it’s March already, which is almost one-sixth of the way through the year, 16%–give or take, and I’m sitting around moping because I don’t feel like I’m making any progress on any of my projects. It’s too cold and I’m too poor to do the fun woodworking projects I want to do. The writing project I started back in October is still on hold, mainly because I keep writing myself in circles. I don’t know where to go from here, my other four or five writing projects are also on hold because I wanted to do this other one first. Even my projects at work are taking significantly longer than I feel they should–I’m figuratively spinning my wheels on the winter ice that’s fallen on my Roadway to Success™.

In Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about a review system. Every few months, weeks, days, you’re suppose to look at all your open projects and figure out where they are. Are you still doing them? What’s the next action item? How is it coming along. This can be super depressing when nearly all of your projects are in a “waiting” stage, waiting on warm weather, waiting on money, waiting on inspiration, waiting for someone to do the thing they said they would do.

I just want to see progress and when there is no progress to see, it can be frustrating. Maybe the reason I don’t see progress is because I’m looking in the wrong spot.

If I’m looking at what I want to still accomplish, I’m looking forward, I’m not going to see behind me. I’m not seeing the stuff I’ve already done.

That’s the second half of the review process. That’s something I think we forget about, at least, I know I forget about it.

It’s only day 59 of 2015, but it’s actually been a busy year, if I stop to think about it. I did just finish building a small bookshelf for my dining room. The water filter and new faucet in my kitchen have truly improved my standard of living. I don’t have any good way to track my word count right now, but I spent a fair amount of time writing this year, even if it feels I don’t have anything to show for it. I don’t want to count my work projects, but I did have that business trip… and there was that event I ran camera for. Somehow in the past eight weeks I’ve managed to watch 17 movies and finish reading 12 books. When did I find time for that?

“People overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year.” – Bill Gates

The point is, as important as it is to look forward, it’s also good to look back. Looking back we can remember the things we have done, learn from our mistakes, and make sure we’re still headed on the path we want to be on.

There’s fulfillment that comes from looking back on your accomplishments, but you only get it if you take time to reminisce. A few weeks back a friend and I were discussing the balance between doing awesome things and telling everyone about the awesome things you are doing. If you spend too much time doing one of those you won’t have time for the other.

I don’t know if it’s really important to try to balance these things, I think it’s a futile battle for most of us. The reason we talk about balance is because we regret spending too much time on this thing or that, and then we feel guilty about it. Which is really just crazy. We need to accept that we will spend time on the things we think are important. When there are other important things we need to pay attention to, then we decide what takes precedence. Rather than give everything a set percent all the time, why can’t we give some things 100% some of the time?

Truthfully, we can. We’re adults. (Most of us.) Being an adult just means that we’re expected to take responsibility for our actions, own up, do what we think is right, and live with the consequences. Welcome to life.

Take some time to review the first two months of your year. There’s probably a few things you did that you forgot about. And if there’s things you planned to get to, but didn’t, well, you still got ten more months to go, and this review can help give you the motivation to make it happen.