Selflessness

“A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees there isn’t enough to go around.” — Edgar Watson Howe

iPhone Home Screen

This is my current iPhone home screen and I’ve been using this for a while now. Basically moving all apps off the home screen and leaving it blank. This way it’s nice and minimal when I pick up the phone with only a few apps right in front of me. I can always swipe to the other pages or use the pull down search if I’m needing something, but I like having all the stuff out of sight.

It’s funny how much this has changed since 2018 and 2017.

Field Notes

A couple of years ago a friend sent me a three pack of field notes and I honestly didn’t get the point. I tried to use them but I didn’t see the benefit over a bigger notebook I kept on my desk.

I was recently doing some cleaning and came across the notebooks again and decided to give them another go. Grabbed a pen and stuck one in my pocket.

It’s been about a week now and even though I work from home having it my pocket is so useful. It’s quick to pull out and jot down a note, a reminder, a quote, or anything else.

Then when I get back to my desk I either copy to my main larger notebook or setup things in my calendar. I’m now a convert and just ordered a couple more sets. Of course, field notes is the main brand but any pocket size notebook will work. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Father Forgets

Today is my youngest child’s tenth birthday and every year I have a reminder set to reread Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned. Since I’ve been doing this I’ve been convicted every year about how I let little things upset and annoy me and it always gives me a reset to refocus. Here is the poem in its entirety:


Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

There was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

A Good Walk Spoiled

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It’s been just over a year since I broke my hand and I was finally able to play golf for the first time yesterday.  The weather was chilly and I played terribly, but just being outside away from the computer was great. There is something about being out in nature that gives me clarity on problems and helps clear my head.

Another thing that I’ve found useful is after working on a coding problem and getting it working, go for a short walk and just think about the solution again. Typically I’ll get ideas on how to make the code better, and think of other side effects I might not have originally seen.

 

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This is a passage from Theodore Roosevelt speech The Man in the Arena, and I feel like it’s a great ode to all the creators. It’s so easy to get down from the peanut gallery of the world, and it’s nice finding great quotes like this to lift your spirits.

Local Elections

Early voting is in full swing in my area and I had the ability to go over my lunch break yesterday and cast mine. This year was short and sweet with only the mayor and three city council races.

I know we all focus on the presidential elections but these local ones probably affect you directly more than national races ever will, and these typically have small turnouts. So your one vote could potentially carry more weight. It’s definitely worth your time to research the local candidates and make your voice heard.

Command + Q

As part of my normal routine, I check Twitter throughout the day and I like to see what my friends are sharing.  For the most part, it’s pretty mundane, lots of programmery topics, people sharing personal things, the usual.

But some days I’m just in a weird mood and will see a few tweets that just trigger me. Before I respond and write something I’ll regret I just quit the app and get back to work. Then when I come back later whatever annoyance I had is usually lost in the shuffle. Unless I’m using the official Twitter app which keeps wanting to show “top tweets”, then I remember to open Tweetbot.

I know stepping away is nothing new, but based on the replies I get, many of us struggle with just not replying. We love to tell people how wrong they are, and how they should feel bad for being so wrong.

 

Pros and Cons

My kids want a dog, it’s all they’ve been talking about for a few weeks now.  As a kid, they can’t understand what all is involved in having a pet.  I told them to make a pros and cons list on having a new pet, and the only con they came up with is a puppy will chew on things. Their perspective was so skewed to what they wanted they had tunnel vision. 

If we are not careful we can get this same tunnel vision when we really want something.  It could be anything from starting a new side project to releasing something open source, or a new car, or even just spending money on stuff when we shouldn’t be.  

Too often instead of thinking through everything, we jump in feet first and then quite literally pay for it later.  Where if we would just slow down, think through the unfavorable factors we’d save ourselves lots of heartaches. 

You vs You

I like to mountain bike as much as I can. Typically that means two or three times a week and since my broken hand last year I’ve never fully recovered to the pace I was before. It’s not been so much speed as it is my cardio, I can ride a lot faster than I’m going if my heart rate would stop maxing out.

The past week I’ve been trying to supplement my mountain bike rides with a trainer and I’ve been using Zwift. The idea behind Zwift is fun and it’s neat riding with other people.

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Over the coming winter, I’m planning on doing some longer training programs and now I’ve been doing an “intro to Zwift” program where it sets your FTP and gives you the basics of the app.

So far it’s been fun to do but I don’t feel the stats it is generating is accurate. From all the research I find on the internet, my FTP is low, my heart rate is high, and a couch potato is in better shape than me.

I’m not sure if it’s my trainer and setup or if I’m really just that out of shape. But it is pretty demoralizing how you can be giving it everything you have, about to puke, and be passed by someone going 20 miles per hour faster.

I guess that is par for the course on the internet but I have to remember I’m not competing against random people. I just want to improve against myself and to be honest that is hard. I’m made to compete and I want to win, even if I don’t have the cardio to do it.

Remote: Work from anywhere

Outdoor Office

I’ve been a remote worker for about a decade now, and I love parts of it like not fighting traffic, being always around for my family, and occasionally working from anywhere. Unlike a lot of people, I like my routines and having a designated workspace is one that I  need. I’m okay working from someplace different for a few days, but eventually, I start missing my home office. I want the solitude and the feeling of it being “my space.”

Not everyone is wired like me, and that is what makes remote work so great. If you are the type where you can work from a coffee shop every day, a park, or a strange city, then you can. Or if you are the type that wants their regular spot with the option of sometimes switching things up, then you can have it too. Just like today, the weather is perfect where I live, so I worked from the patio.

I can’t see myself ever wanting to work a job where I have to go to the office every day. Thankfully I may not ever have to.

Off the grid

Where I live (Charlotte, North Carolina) it’s hard to get off the grid. Most places have wifi, and we have cell coverage almost everywhere. That’s great if you work on the go or if you like to do adventurous stuff alone.

This past weekend I took the family camping in the Pisgah national forest and it was deep enough into the wood that we had zero cell coverage, no internet, nothing. We were completely isolated.

One of the downsides was food and directions. I didn’t bring food or a grill to cook so we drove into town but not being able to research restaurants or find directions was a little jarring, but we were able to get cell service after about a 15-minute drive back out of the woods. So it wasn’t terrible.

There was no reason to scroll Twitter, check email, or anything online. I just sat there by the fire and enjoyed my family with nothing taking my mind away.

I know we can all do this at any time by turning on airplane mode, but it’s not the same. Being isolated with no chance of cheating is freeing. If you ever have the ability to give it a try. You might enjoy it too.

Fryingpan Lookout Tower

This past weekend we as a family decided to go camping up in the Pisgah National Forest and spend the day Saturday tubing down one of the rivers. We reserved a camping spot, threw the tent in the truck, and headed out as soon as school let out Friday. The drive up started out great but as soon as we reached the mountain the rain came. We decided to just power through and take our chances so we kept driving.

Luckily it hadn’t rained a lot at the campground, the ground was wet, but not soaked so the tent went up just fine. We went to bed hoping for a dry Saturday.

Unfortunately, when we woke up it was cool, overcast, and drizzling. Not the best weather to be stuck in a river for four hours. At this point, we pulled out the map to find something else to do and I remembered the Fryingpan Tower that I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I first heard about it.

Before we continue I think it’s worth pointing out that North Carolina is home to two different Fryingpan Towers. The most famous is the “Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower” which is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The “Fryingpan Fire Tower” that we visited is in the mountains on the other side of the state and gets its name from Fryingpan Gap. One is spelled with one word, the other with two. Outside of this, I have no idea why they are named the same.

Out of all the fire tower’s in NC Fryingpan is probably the easiest to access. It is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and only a mile hike up a gravel road. A perfect walk for kids and those that might not be in the best of shape.

As we started our walk it was overcast and I was hoping as we reached the tower the clouds would lift giving us some amazing views of the mountains. Instead, the weather went the other direction and the cloud cover rolled in even more. Visibility dropped to maybe 30 feet which made for a unique experience and some cool photos that you would be able to get otherwise.

Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower

The balcony closed off
The balcony closed off

Fryingpan tower looking down
Looking down from the top

Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower

Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower in the fog.

I went with the goal of looking out over the mountains and taking in beautiful views of the scenery, but instead, I think I had an even better experience because of the fog.

It just goes to show you that as long as you keep an open mind and are willing to embrace the moment even when it’s going wrong, you might just have an experience that will stay with you forever.

 

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The foggy gravel walk back to the car

 

Camping and Mountain Biking

For the past few years, I’ve been a part of a weekend guys trip where we camp, ride our mountain bikes and just have fun. This past weekend we did it again and I wanted to share some of the pictures from the weekend.

I know we all get tied up with work and home life but if you have the opportunity, take a weekend off and head to the wilderness with your friends.

Cameras

I just got back home from Laracon in NYC and this year I decided I should take my real camera pictured above. I carried it around taking photos for two days then the battery went dead and I forgot the charger. doh. From that point forward I only used my iPhone.

Now that I’m home I started reviewing all the photos and to be honest I think I like all the picture from my phone better than the ones I took with this dedicated camera. Granted I’m not a “real” photographer but for how easy carrying a phone is versus one this size I just don’t think it’s worth the effort to carry a dedicated camera anymore.

Seasons

Having a daily routine is important as it allows you to coast through the day knowing what comes next. For most people, daily routines include going to work, having dinner, picking up the kids, etc. and once it’s ingrained into your daily life it seems to just happen.

I’ve noticed for me my routine of creating stuff changes based on the seasons. In the winter when it’s cold and it gets dark at 5 PM, I tend to spend more time on the computer writing, drawing, or coding. Then when the time changes and the weather turns warm I want to be outside away from all this.

A good example of this is this blog. Check out the yearly posting schedule. From October – February I posted a ton, then the time changed and I’ve stopped writing.

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At the end of the day, there are only 24 hours and if you can’t keep up a daily habit because you’d rather do something else don’t let that bother you. To quote Olin Miller, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!”. Just push it aside and pick it up again when you are ready to start back.

This is also why I’m a fan of TV shows having seasons, Podcast doing seasons, and even software development going through sprints. It allows you a dedicated time to do something then move on to something else. When the end is in sight you can push to it.

Note to self…

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Note to self… Do not tweet when I’m angry. Nothing good can from it and nine times out of ten it’ll end in more frustration and heartache.