No such thing as spare time,
No such thing as spare time,
No such thing as free time
No such thing as down time
All you got is life time… go!
~ Henry Rollins
The above message was introduced by Matt Vincent in a rant where he talked about how limited life is and how he wanted to cram as much awesomeness into it as possible. A subject that often comes up when I chat with friends is how limited time really is. It is the one resource that you can’t get back once you spend it. You can always save money, you can’t save time but merely determine where you want to spend it.
I wouldn’t describe myself as driven but compared to others yes, there are things in my life I want to accomplish and if it isn’t one of those things than there better be a good reason why I am doing it. One of them is spending as much time as I can outdoors. I have a fear that in the future people will be so domesticated they won’t enjoy nature and live online. I’m not saying jump to one extreme but how hard is it go for a walk outside or read a book outside? It’s not, most people just doesn’t see the value of time outside which I suppose gives me more outside options.
I want to play outside, in fact I need to play outside and get away from people for a bit: do some fishing, cutting firewood and cook red meat over a fire, reading and writing outside or hiking. I got a camping trip coming up and I can’t wait, since its so far up north its 20 miles from Canada. I don’t get cell phone signal and even if I did I leave my phone in my car. Sometimes you should just enjoy the movement and not trying to document it for others, though I must admit I have been trying to document things so when I am older I can look back and smile.
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots” Albert Einstein
There has been a recent trend of “unplugging”, a fancy term for not looking at a computer, tablet or cellphone screen on your downtime or at all. I never needed a reason to “unplug” and I was fortunate to grow up during a time when you could still play outside without being called a savage. Perhaps I am biased since I never was into electrtonics and video games as much as other people in my age bracket. I wanted to play outside, go fishing and exercise when I was younger. A good analogy for use of screen time is drinking beer, a couple drinks is fine, being a drunk is not a good look. As often stated in this blog you get one and only one life, don’t waste it with mindlessly infront of a screen. A co-worker talks a lot about how he keeps in touch with college friends over a computer game and I think that’s awesome because you can bond over the game.
As of late I have been trying to read more in the form of paperbooks mostly because I stare at a screen for eight hours due to work and the last thing I want to do is do the same at home. I used to read a lot of an iPad but I find the book to be superior. I am looking forward to getting lost in more books and writing in a notebook, hopefully outside. The writing is sometimes just to get thoughts out of my brain but its enjoyable and I think more people need to just be active outside.
Sorry the delay the fall  semester was rather tough and I had to retreat to my cave and buckle down. I was able to hit my two biggest goals: get a six month co-op and make dean’s list. I am currently just working my co-op which has been a good opportunity and is a good taste of what’s to come when I graduate. I plan on being more active, just had to feel a few things out and take some time to recover. Working is different from being in school and both have their advantages and disadvantages. I will expand on my view on this in a future post.
I am very glad this week is over. I could identify a friend getting me sick as the cause
of a lot of my problems for the past couple weeks. I had a few interviews, a few projects to and reviewing for technical interviews. I haven’t done any form of working out for a couple weeks and I feel weak and fat. Today was the first time I did something physical and that was just going for a two walks. Tomorrow I will touch a barbell in two weeks and one challenge is solidifying a training routine. I get the impression I will just struggle to maintain my current strength levels and when the semester is over go back to getting stronger. One thing I forgot since the semester has started was how nice it is to stay home and do some of the “boring” chores and going outside for a walk. The school I go to is located in a small city and walking there is extremely different that walking out in the woods. I think I will advantage of a doctor’s appointment this week to set aside some time afterwards and read outside, the one activity that always relaxes me.
I may also get a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop one thing I found was to cycle my caffeine consumption, meaning some weeks I drink coffee and others I don’t. This is relative to how much work I need to get done and what other responsibilities I have.
I think that in an age where we as humans don’t participate in as many physical challenges as our ancestors we need to find new ones. What’s that saying about a ship being safe in a harbor but that’s not what ships are built for? I find school to be one of the greatest challenges I have taken on, while I would argue that may be a sign of how soft my life is (and that I have to make up fake work to have the same respect as my ancestors), it is a worthy challenge. This is something that keeps me up at night and wakes me up early because you only get one chance to see how awesome you can be. This is also something I can’t just brute force or man -handle my way through, it makes me have to use my brain and compose a strategy. Challanges like these that make me grateful for my own life. I definitely decided to study computer science because I hate having fun and sleeping.
“You probably won’t believe this, but the trend today is either being ridiculously fat and awful, or skinny and weak! There’s this new pride in the world and it revolves around being physically pathetic.” ~Jim Wendler
I think that there is a trend of being pathetic in general (professionally, academically, physically, and mentally). I see it a lot in school where a lot of students complain and there are some legitimate things to complain about in terms of education in America. No one in this world got anywhere by complaining, people ascend their current situation by putting their head down and working. It’s not always an easy, enjoyable or great process but it is the only one that works. I remember listening to Matt Vincent on a podcast talk about how he “has to make up fake work (lifting weights/conditioning) to have the same respect his ancestors did.” I feel the same way about getting work done and doing something that gets me sweaty, if either don’t get done in a day I feel like I wasted the day. A challenging that I consistently have to overcome is burning out with school work and while it may be funny sometimes the work that needs to get done that day is relaxing. Sadly as a human you can’t be at 100% all the time, you body/mind/etc needs time to recover while balancing out doing things that make you happy. Another lesson from Matt was his consistent message of “you only get one life to go on adventures theme” that I fully embraced. Since following him on YouTube I have started to travel more something I never wanted to do in my earlier years. At the age I am more and more people are spreading away from their home state and this means trips to see them. Also it is great to experience new foods, places and experiences. My respect for both men is incredibly high, I can’t wait to shake their hands. Their messages resonate with me and something I find myself drawing from.
One class in particular has been really challenging for me. I have been seeing the professor at her office hours weekly and she knows I am not messing around. Still though I am making little progress in that class and it is turning into a question of faith. Thankfully she is starting to “pump the brakes” since a lot of the class is having trouble at first. Sadly most professors are not this reactive and will often ridicule you for not knowing something. Aren’t you paying for school to get an education? This challenge though is proving to be a great test of my character and values. Life doesn’t always provide you with these very often so it is important to enjoy them. A lesson that I keep reminding myself is every great expert in any domain started as a complete beginner, she/he had to be taught the basics and most likely struggled with them, but continued to progress. I am at the tough part the understanding the basics part. It is frustrating like learning any new skill but life always goes on. I recognize my problems are nothing compared to the problems experienced by others, such as the ones the people of the Caribbean are facing currently. It still doesn’t mean it is easy but I will march forward down this crazy adventure called life.
No matter how much planning I do I can never really set a schedule for myself until a few weeks into a semester. Factors like traffic, study space availability, and when I can schedule extra curricular activities cannot always be determined unless I am in the semester. By the end of the month I should have a more solid schedule planned out but it isn’t until mid October that I can definitively say this is my schedule. It amazes me that for a school so large it is really hard to find a quiet place to study that also has a white board, since it is nice to plan out what you are doing, make diagrams etc.
This weekend I have a wedding in Maine to go to and it will be nice to see some of my family. I hope to get some time this weekend to do some fishing and relax.
I have resumed school and over a conversation with my adviser talked about the title of this post. He talked about attending a talk by Dr. McCarthy about time management. Dr. McCarthy is incredibly accomplished relative to his age working on the Racket language. He is a family man and certainly not one to have a ton of free time. Dr. McCarthy talked about the creation of a task list and focusing on one thing. If the task is to make a list he will just make a list, that singular focus is something that is hard given the myriad of distractions that can hit us. I brought up the pomodoro technique (25 min of work, 5 min break, then repeat four times, then take a short break) which my adviser thought this was a good idea and a good way to help me minimize semester burnout. A big message I took away from our conversation was “when you are on you are on, when you are off you are off” meaning if you are going to do school work focus only on that, if you are going to relax just focus on relaxing and not worrying about other things. This singular focus is something that can and will be honed over the course.
For me this will be a challenging course not because of the number of classes but diving into some of my weaker academic areas. Both Algorithms and Foundations of Computer Science dive into areas of math that are more proof based and not computationally based. My mobile robotics course uses a fair amount of probability which is an area I feel like I can always strengthen. Searching for a six month co-op is the highest priority goal that I have this semester. Rounding out my academic responsibilities is learning and practicing HTML/CSS. Outside of academic pursuits I would like to get stronger at a slightly lower body weight. This is slightly inhibited by my love of pizza and sushi. I also wanted to spend some more time exploring the towns around me. Yesterday my girlfriend and I finished walking parts of the Concord Freedom trail. Posted every few miles are little historical tidbits about the [American] Revolutionary War. Growing up around here you forget how much history is around us and I want to see more of it.