Archive for July, 2006

I am almost 32 years old and this is the first time I have ever lived a year that is largely a repeat of another one. Bizarre.

It is the front end of the busiest time of year at work for me. It will last at least 4 months. I wrote about it when I first moved to Atlanta three years ago and wasn’t all that pleased (although at the time I had declared a one year moratorium on questionging myself, so I was unable to fully experience the mood). Last year though I escaped it because I was in India… its back, and I’m working weekends, and something feels very familiar about it all.

I start feeling guilty about stuff…like not calling people back, being grumpy alot, eating too much at dinner because I work late and by the time I get off at 7 or so I’m starving from lunch at noon. I don’t sleep as well because I’m always thinking about what I need to do or trying to figure out what I wasn’t able to that day.

I’m not complaining about work really. The rest of the year ain’t that bad, so working hard a few months is……well, pretty much life. What decent job isn’t a little hard? Its pretty interesting….like solving brain teasers everyday and getting paid. The problem is that with brain teasers you know they have a solution…at work sometimes we just can’t do it no matter how clever we are. Its hard to draw the line between “not clever enough” and “not possible”.

So this year is a repeat. I still can’t believe that. I’ve lived 31 unique years. I guess it depends on how you define repeat…but still it is the first one that I identify as the same as a previous one. I admit I’m getting antsy.

Its strange though, sitting here identifying this year as so noteworthy for its sameness, when I think repeat years are pretty much the norm by the time you are 30.

Not that I think repeat years are bad, although they can be. That book I just read Stumbling on Happiness said that often people mistakenly think that variety is the spice of life, when studies show they are happier most of the time sticking with what they already know they like.

So do I like it? Well….that is one of my talents. I can make myself believe just about anything if I need to. It is a scary talent at times and it makes it hard for me to know if I like it, or if I have made myself accept it because these are the circumstances of my life, and until I really decide I want to change them… does no good to dislike them.

Perhaps I will look back and hate this repeat year. Perhaps I will look back and smile. I guess it depends on what I need to believe to get myself to do whatever I fancy to do next.

Comments No Comments »

Everyone knows I am addicted to this stuff. What a great read. I wish we were all more aware that we are one step away from being stars if we just pick our spot and work hard. I’ll include an excerpt below. Here is the link to the article.

Ericsson has spent the last 30 years probing the implications of the first experiment he ever conducted as a professional. The year was 1976, and he was studying the limits of memory. At the time, it was believed that the brain could only remember about seven random numbers at a particular moment. Ericsson thought he’d try to increase this capacity through rigorous training. “I was really surprised when, after about 20 hours of training, we could expand the short term memory for digits from seven to 20,” Ericsson recalls. “Then [the experimental subject] just kept on improving. After about 200 hours of training, he could remember over 80 numbers. It was very surprising.”

Ericsson wondered what other human talents were malleable. After all, if memory ability wasn’t innate, then it seemed hard to imagine what was. What else could people learn to do better?

Ericsson started studying a range of “expert performers.” He investigated chess grandmasters and the stars of the PGA tour, Scrabble champions and brain surgeons, concert pianists and circus acrobats. After putting these peak performers through a battery of cognitive tests, Ericsson realized that their talent wasn’t genetic. They weren’t born with better brains. In fact, the average IQ of people at the top of their field, no matter what it is, equaled that of the average college student.

But if talent isn’t innate, then where does it come from? Ericsson’s answer was so simple it was shocking: Practice makes perfect. Talent comes from learning by doing. For example, when Ericsson studied classical pianists, he found that the winners of competitions had practiced over 10,000 hours by the age of 20, while less accomplished performers only practiced between 2,000 and 5,000 hours. This same effect was apparent across a range of fields. “From the outside, it seems like talented people don’t have to put in a lot of effort,” Ericsson says. “They make it look so easy. But when you look closely, the opposite is actually true. The best performers are almost always the ones who practice the most. I have yet to find a talented person who didn’t earn their talent through hard work and thousands of hours
of practice.”

Comments No Comments »

I remember when I first moved to Atlanta I spent many weekends in complete anonymity. I didn’t really know many people and I would drink coffee and read magazines and watch people like they couldn’t see me. I would go to bars alone and drink, or go to the mall occasionally and just walk through it, never buying anything.

I am a nostalgic person and so those days seem peaceful to me now. I guess they were in a lonely sort of way. Of course those were also the days of 60 hour work weeks, which I positively hated.

I don’t think I am able to accurately judge how happy I was in the past. That book I just read (Stumbling on Happiness) says none of us are. I have such fond memories of travel, and alot of times it was the best thing ever for sure….but I guess the best times were actually living abroad doing something.

The physical act of traveling was so often not “happy”. It involved waiting, and being hot (or cold) and uncomfortable. It involved the stress of never knowing where you are and what you’re about to get into. When things went bad there was little comfort as you were by yourself and doing it all voluntarily. Did I mention it involved alot of waiting and/or sitting on moving vehicles/boat/planes/whatever.

I just guess I am really nostalgic. So the point, if there is one, is that I did “stuff” all weekend and never really sat down for a minute alone with my thoughts….except for right now for an hour before bed.

One hour. That ain’t shit….not that being alone with your thoughts is all its cracked up to be.

I should’ve ironed clothes or played video games….then I could’ve avoided the sad nostalgic reflection altogether.

I think I’ll go get a beer and remind myself that we are all incapable of comparing our present happiness with the past.

Comments No Comments »

I sort of already know this stuff, but it always strikes me just how many people have these issues and how little we talk about it.

According to Day-Timers Inc., a maker of organizational products based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, people are unhappier and more stressed out at work than ever before. The company found that 18 percent of 1,000 working Americans acknowledge being diagnosed or treated for depression within the past five years, with 13 percent saying they’ve been treated for anxiety disorders during the same time period. Less than half of all workers (47 percent) report being happy, compared with 54 percent a decade ago, while only 41 percent say they enjoy good or excellent health, down from 51 percent. Also, advances in technology such as e-mail and cell phones appear to be hampering workers’ ability to accomplish their daily tasks, with only half reporting that they do so consistently. In 1994, the figure was 82 percent.

Comments No Comments »

I read some articles tonight about the effect of immigration on unemployment and wages. Most accounts say there is negligible effect…perhaps only that native high school dropouts suffer a bit. In general, prices drop and demand rises.

Why the big stink about immigration then if no one can identify it as a wholesale negative?

Without immigration the US would barely have a replacement birthrate. Economic “growth” is all predicated by a need for increasing population. Europe is having fits with its aging population and shrinking workforce. Immigration is a positive.

Immigration, if it is bad at all, is bad for the poor and uneducated. Since those who make laws are largely rich and white, why do they care? Prices in general go down. All the rich whites can afford a gardener or a housekeeper.

Well…that’s a good question….one that has nothing to do with economics. I think there is certain affront to the government that we cannot control our own border. Especially in the face of the “war on terror”.

Also, I think the tall, rich, educated, skilled, white politicians have some sort of instinctive hestitation towards opening the flood gates to short, poor, largely illiterate, unskilled immigrants. It is akin to “losing” the country. The fact that they don’t speak English is probably not helping either.

I have no strong feeling one way or another. I guess I fall into the skilled, white, educated camp (although not rich)….but I don’t care one way or another about “losing” the country.

Losing it to what? To immigrants? Isn’t that how we got here in the first place? We’re all immigrants.

Well…sort of. At the turn of the century everyone was an unskilled worker… an influx of more unskilled workers simply increased our labor pool…they were not different than the whiteys who were already here. No one had a high school education. We were all in the same boat so to speak.

Now all the “natives” have college educations and the immigrants not only don’t have high school educations, they don’t even speak English. That makes it a little different than the previous immigrants.

And that is what it comes down to if I had to guess. The “general public” is apprehensive. It is fear of the “unlike”. “Unlike” being a different level of education, different language, and different physical characteristics. Because economists can’t find any overtly negative effect of their influx. They’re just here. They aren’t making us poor or taking our jobs.

Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass. I speak Spanish well enough.

Venga. Me da igual.

Comments No Comments »

Gatorade makes a drink I am quite fond of called Propel Fitness Water. The label says it is a “water beverage”. What exactly does that mean? Aren’t all beverages water based? I haven’t caught anyone drinking any oil lately. The aren’t many people (living at least) who regularly drink straight alcohol (ethanol) either.

Propel has 25 calories, lots of vitamins, and comes in all sorts of yummy flavors that taste like the Kool-Aid you drank as a kid. I have come to use Propel as a “water replacement beverage”, meaning that I don’t really drink water anymore….only Propel. I now refer to water as “flavorless” Propel.

The artificial sweetener in Propel is Sucralose. What is Sucralose? Well….here is what I got from Wikipedia:

It is 500

Comments 1 Comment »

What’s been going on lately?

That story I submitted to the “…from a Backback” series got accepted for publication last week. I posted the story on this website August 29, 2004……I thought I was slow. That’s almost two years. Not a high priority I guess.

I went to Orlando with work the other day. All we did was work and eat lavish meals. I didn’t see anything of the city, stayed in one of those business traveler hotels (Hilton Garden). That’s the first real glimpse I’ve ever gotten of the traveling consultant lifestyle.

I think I could do it….except for the food. All we did was eat and schmooze with the client. I still feel fat from dinner on Tuesday night.

Speaking of being fat, I am “trying” to lose a few pounds, or at least not to gain a few more, and I find it is hard to do. I cannot control very well how much I eat. If I push back from the table…I just get hungry earlier and have to snack between meals. I don’t accept losing weight if it means going around hungry all the time.

Exercise is something I am better with. I can generally motivate myself to go do something cardiovascular. Its just that work makes me so tired. I guess that is everyone’s excuse.

My life is very predictable right now. I do the same things often and have thus far not really gotten tired of them. I really do benefit everyday from all those years of travel though. I don’t have to play the game in my head of “I wish I had done….” or “I would be happier if only…”. I did all those things. The grass is not always greener somewhere else….the grass is just different.

I wouldn’t be comfortable with that though if I didn’t know firsthand.

Comments 2 Comments »