Wednesday, March 23, 2011

work-life balance

I thought this was funny at first, but then that passed.  Is this still funny?

Dilbert.com 

My company used to show a slide about "Work-Life Balance" during its quarterly meetings.  Every 3 months, this exec would take a moment to say how they're working to improve our work-life balance with tele-work programs.  It never came up that what we wanted was to take time off without burning out our last remaining teammate(s) and coming back to a 60-hr week.  It turned out that the same systems that allowed Asian contractors to do our jobs during our nights and weekends also enabled American staffers to work nights and weekends.  I never really understood that slide, but I was reading into it something like "Shifting Your Work-Life Balance Toward Getting Your Life Back".  Their version was more just a bullet point.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

You've caught me at a very strange time in my life

Middle-school boys in Tacoma, WA have started their very own after-school program, a "Fight Club" in a school bathroom.  One of the broke the first rule of Fight Club as shown here.  Check that story first, I'll wait.  I am not a parent, but I'm an uncle and former high school teacher.  I'm bothered by the fighting in a tiny measure, but I'm shocked and disappointed by the school's response.  This struck an immediate impression in me that may disappoint some people who've "known me all my life".  All I can say is, "all your life" usually means "while you were a child", and that was a long time ago.

"Fight Club" is one of my 2 or 3 favorite movies of all time.  There, I said that.  The original version is not family-friendly (to an extreme), but it's how a lot of people relate to their world and I acknowledge that on artistic merit.  The cable edit is still good enough that I'll watch it a couple times when it rotates through the channels.  When Tyler and the narrator start their first fight...

"How much can you know about yourself, you've never been in a fight? I don't wanna die without any scars."

The fight concludes with a tap-out and a handshake and a smile.  After a few weeks, they were carved out of wood.  There was respect; more importantly, there was self respect.  Back to that point later.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nothing but commitment

Okay, so most of my public writing the last year-plus has been about exercise.  The rest has been about motorcycles.  Fine.  I get a little ribbing about it, but they're hobbies.  I get the most ribbing from this one old friend, but he talked about nothing else but his one hobby for 5 straight years.  I figure we're almost even.

I like to exercise 15 minutes or so during my lunch hour.  I've got this great book (Convict Conditioning, by Paul Wade) with progressively harder versions of calisthenics that range from pushups against a wall to high school phys ed to one-armed work you'd only expect from gymnasts and acrobats.  A couple days a week, I go find a conference room or some hidey-hole to do bridges or pushups or squats. 

This week, I found a place to do pullups and hanging leg raises.  It's this heavy steel brace holding up some plumbing in a stairwell, squared off at around 4 inches wide.  It's inconvenient and it hurts my fingers, but it's a place to hang.  Think what you like: obsessive, nuts, even conceited.  I only had one word come to mind when I found this, "finally!", and did 2 sets of 10 of these.  Not sophisticated: hang from your hands for :30 and raise your knees 10 times, rest, repeat.  Simple. Done.


I've rehabilitated some injuries and gotten my body back together at age 41.  I have a coworker who's lost some 50 pounds over the last 6 months.  These sorts of experiences get attributed to fate or the grace of God or even mania.  A lot of people start here and proceed into supplements and bad attitudes and becoming a muscle-bound butthead.  By no mistake, I do believe God extends moments of grace, wherein we are allowed to float safely until our feet touch bottom again.  I totally do, and I thank Him for them.  The rest, what we do with those moments, it's an expression of sheer will.  It's commitment.

Last year, both Thanskgiving and Christmas fell on days of the week when I was scheduled to exercise.  Everybody talks about going back to the gym after the holidays put on 15 pounds.  I worked out Thanksgiving morning, ate well for lunch, and came out of November at the same weight.  Yes, I worked out Christmas day.  A friend of mine commented that he didn't work out Christmas because it was Jesus' birthday, not Arnold's, but he did enthusiastically recommend a movie he went to see.  I asked "Arnold, who?", which never got an answer.  I exercised before lunch, he went to the movies... 'shrug'  We both worshiped with our church families on Christmas Eve and had a great Christmas day at home.  Going to the gym wasn't fanaticism or sacrilege or showing off.  It was just commitment.  I found an hour and "bought lunch".

I wish, I deeply wish I could find it in myself to apply this level of commitment to some other areas in my life.  That was not the way I intended this piece to end, but it's subconsciously what I was hoping other people would get out of it.  I should find the hour to read and pray and practice guitar and clean my room.  There is always time.  There is always 4" of inconvenient space somewhere that can totally serve the purpose if you will just use it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowpocalpyse 2011

We got 8 inches of snow early this week in Atlanta, more outside the perimeter.  That's not much by Chicago standards, but Atlanta doesn't have a fleet of snowplows and didn't salt the roads in advance.  This town's a parking lot, and OTP is one giant truck stop.  My neighborhood's a hill, and apparently our driveway is at an inflection point on the curvature of the hill.  That's why the police blocked off the street at our building.  Not taking this for granted, I have friends who can't get out of their houses, even on foot.  I can walk to a Super Target and a noodle shop if I take my time.  I'm likely to fall, but I can get there.

Lucky for me, I work in IT and can do my job from home as long as my internet connection is up.  I've been inside the apartment for days now and just had to go see the destruction.  The cars parked in the office staff places were penned in by cars behind them that were penned in by snow and ice.  So glad I parked where I was supposed to.  Then I heard 'creak, crack, CRASH!' from farther down the lot and had to go get this picture.


There were a couple of guys hanging around with grade-school grins on, so I made conversation.  "Did you see that fall?", they asked me with a nervous excitement.  If you peer closely enough, you can almost make out this little fringe of white around the rooftop over the car in the "No Parking" space.  That's a glacier, creeping its way off off the corrugated tin roofing in slabs a foot square and an inch thick.  They warned me not to get too close.  I responded with "yeah, that must be why this is a 'No Parking' zone" and then popped out my camera to catch the next drop on video.  One of the guys said, "Yeah, that's my car". 

I apologized for him, but admitted the whole glacier thing was really cool.  Not cool for his car, but cool in an academic sense.  It's technically a glacier.  It didn't seem to help, so I turned toward the street and found this thing.  That's supposed to be a sidewalk under the Grand Cherokee.  I took a couple steps, camera in hand, and the other guy said, "yeah, that's my Jeep".

I went back to work.