Choose Passion Over Paycheck For True Happiness, and ‘Word Crimes’!

Soul Crushing Work

First off … THANK YOU. What an amazing outpouring of support, awesome comments and emails, and just general incredible kindness and fun this week! After robo-posting through vacation and coming back to a whirlwind week of very busy days, I have been reminded in an overwhelming way why I love this community so much! I apparently forgot to mention one step in my blog process, which is to stop and drink in the great support and use it to power me through writing my next post.

OK, today’s topic … If Your Paycheck Isn’t Fueling Your Passion, Maybe it is Time for a Change!

This might seem like an odd topic for me, since I work for a large traditional company in a very corporate role (senior level statistical and measurement engineer with Corning) and have been here 6 years, after having spent 15 years with ANOTHER large traditional company after a couple of short stints for smaller companies. And there is little chance that I will NOT work for a company where I am just an employee helping further the goals set by managers and executives.

Yet I tell my boys to follow their passion rather than a job; to seek happiness over employment. The reality is that there are very few careers that are a ‘sure thing’ (aside from perhaps nursing, which could possibly saturate by the time they could get their degrees). So instead of chasing a ‘safe paycheck’, we tell them to figure out what drives you and inspires you and grab hold of it with both hands and never let go.

Turning Passion Into Profession

Over the last several months I have loved watching some of my favorite bloggers do some amazing things to follow their passions:
Lisa and Michele recently completed RRCA certification on Cape Cod, and before taking a right turn into a different job Suz also became a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. I know there are others who have fitness job sidelines (Sara), as well.
Danielle left a solid job in order to co-found Ramblen with someone who lives half-way across the country, meaning she is now engaged in one state and living in another while working really hard to see her passions and dreams become reality!
Laura left her job (for very good reasons) and is now living the ‘starving grad school life’ in women’s studies and is REALLY putting herself out there for her cause by running across America next summer!
Megan quit her day job and has gone ‘all in’ as a health and wellness coach, which I think is a natural fit because she is so inspirational and earnest and nurturing and freaking smart.

All of these women have taken steps out of their comfort zone to follow their passions. Megan and Laura and Danielle have made major life changes – and none of them took the easy path! I think it is an incredibly brave and strong thing to do – it is one thing to put yourself out there on a blog, but to make your entire life about putting yourself out there? Wow.

The Professional World Has Changed Forever

When I was going off to college in the early 80s, IBM had never had a layoff, and the tech industry was really just getting started. Money was flowing into the field, and in general the work world looked very much like it had since the 60s:
– You go to college for a degree that more or less sends you to a professional job or a life in th euniversity system.
– You get a job with a small or large company.
– If small, you ‘upgrade’ until you get to a large company.
– You progress from technical to managerial ranks over the decades you stay with that company.
– You retire and life on a decent pension.

That seems like something from an old-fashioned movie at this point. I remember when IBM emptied out buildings in the early 90s, I had friends there talking about waves of people being escorted out.

I bring up IBM because in that era they were a real beacon, one of the last places where if you got a job you had lifetime employment guaranteed … until 1994 when they changed that policy. In that moment the Americal workplace changed forever. Throughout the 90s ‘downsizing and Dilbert’ ruled, and the ‘dotcom bubble’ burst in 2000, and just as things seemed to be ramping again the bottom fell out in 2007 and has never really returned.

Your Passion … is Your Passion

In my ‘behind the blogger’ post, and many other posts, I have talked about my passions – family, music, tech, running, and my job. I have talked about how my AP English teacher thought I should go into writing and had me submit pieces he thought might get accepted into the Atlantic; I have discussed how I won a great award at the huge national high school jazz competition and my band director thought I should pursue music. And I talked about how I ended up at RPI studying electrical engineering.

It might sound weird with everything else I have just said, but the ultimate reason I chose NOT to pursue music (writing was never seriously in play) was NOT about fear or risk-aversion … but because I truly love math and physics that much.

Fast forward 30 years and I STILL love those things – my publications and patent apps all speak to math (data analysis) and physics (optical engineering). I love tearing apart a data set to find meaning, working with measurements and equipment and analyzing and optimizing a process. Sure, I would love to be back in the semiconductor world, but Corning’s massive support for RD&E (research, development and engineering – they spend 10%, most companies are ~2%) means working on exciting projects with really talented people.

That is MY passion.

Chances are it is not YOUR passion.

Intermission

OK, this is feeling rather dry and serious, so how about some mid-post fun? I talk about the ‘pre-internet’ days quite a bit – referencing them in terms of IBM from a completely different era today. And in that spirit – I love this xkcd comic

before_the_internet

How Modern Corporations Work Against Employees

As I mentioned, things have never really fully recovered from the 2007 neo-depression. What has become clear is that many, many companies used that as an opportunity to cut wide swaths of employees, and forever change the balance of power so they wouldn’t find themself disadvantaged like they did in the mid-90s and mid-2000s.

As a result, here are 5 ways you are disadvantaged working for a medium or large company today:

1. Loyalty Makes You Less Marketable

As I said, when I was entering college, life-employment with a single company was a goal, and in general job-hopping was greatly frowned upon. Loyalty was rewarded and was seen as mutually beneficial.

Now we hear about people in layoffs being penalized for staying with a company more than 5 years, “many people have told me I’m disadvantaged by having stayed with the same company for too long.”

The problem? Sometimes loyalty and inertia look the same – in other words, when people were interviewing me in 2007, how could they tell how much of my 15 year tenure was due to a passion to thrive, and how much was just falling into the wake-work-home-sleep cycle and lacking incentive to find something to better fuel my passion?

2. Your Company Uses Your Loyalty To Save Money

A new Monster article shows that staying with a company more than two years can cost you up to 50% compared to people who change companies every couple of years (and perform equally well, of course).

How does this work? Think about it – when we read about Apple hiring a certain skill set indicating they are working on something … it means that they are seeking specific skills they can’t find internally – and are motivated to pay highly skilled people to fill that role. When Intel needs another wafer fab process engineer because someone is retiring, the desire is for another (talented but generic) body to fill an existing role. If they can get that from inside they can give a nominal raise, while the internal candidate gets a job-refresh without having to go through the risk-change cycle of a new company. Win-Win in a way … but over a decade or two suddenly that can add up to big money.

Flip this around – by getting people to stay, a company can save big money over time. So naturally they will try promote and fill open positions from wihtin wherever possible. By giving periodic incentives like stock options and other company-tied perks, they can create further ties to tether you in place for relatively low cost.

3. You Will Never Get the Raise You Deserve Within a Company

This was interesting when I first heard about it, but seeing it again and now more recently it makes sense – if your company knows that you could already get by on your current salary, there is less incentive to give you more money unless they are concerned about you leaving the company … and as I noted, companies used the 2007 recession to slash workforces and create a flatter structure and leaner workforce.

The outcome of this is that the same workload is spread across fewer employees – and those employees work in fear of losing their jobs and know that the job market remains abysmal, with more qualified and experienced people constantly vying for fewer and fewer jobs.

That isn’t to say NOBODY is getting rewarded … but think about it this way: the average wage increase last year was 2% … which is about the same as the rate of inflation. That is actually the first time in several years that wages have seen a ‘real’ increase. This nominal increase even held across many Fortune 500 companies who were seeing double-digit growth in sales and profits over the last couple of years. In other words, someone is getting the money … just not YOU.

4. Your Mobility Decreases With Age and Life Circumstances

A company knows a lot about you – marital status, children, family situations, etc. And they know the reality – that when you have gotten married, had kids, bought a house, and so on … you are less likely to want to change companies.

As I say, companies KNOW this, and as a result they have less incentive to work very hard to keep you from leaving … because simply by giving an average raise, keeping your benefits nominally competitive and otherwise keeping the barrier to exit just high enough to make your inertia kick in and have you stay.

Because risk and change are things people generally stay away from. And the greater the potential risk (losing your home, inability to feed your family), the less likely you are to make a change.

5. Your Employer Is So Used to Holding All the Cards They Don’t Even Pretend Anymore

There are so many articles about all of this it is hard to choose, but I love these quotes:

“Workers are so desperate for jobs that managers can take off the kid gloves without worrying … employees put up with mistreatment in the workplace because managers have made it clear that staff are dispensable, with many other applicants more than willing to take their place.”

Look at how things stack up:
– More workers than jobs – after nearly 7 years of this, it impacts corporate culture.
– More competitive marketplace – narrower profits (due to lower real wages and higher joblessness and underemployment) and faster product life-cycle turns (new iPhone & Galaxy ‘must haves’ every 12 months!).
– Job seekers don’t even get basic respect anymore.
– Unless you are in one of a very few ‘tech centers’ (Boston, Silicon Valley, Austin), chances are you are almost immediately replaceable.
– Rapid company failures in recent years makes moving to a new company more risky than ever.
– Lobbyists pushing hard for corporate-centric laws … and getting them in the name of ‘global competition’ (outcome is also freedom to act against employees without consequence).
– Supreme Court regularly ruling ‘business friendly’ even if it curtails personal rights, and don’t forget their ‘gay marriage’ ruling was really based on business impacts.

And it is clear … most companies don’t need to work very hard to maintain their workforce. And as a result, my LinkedIn feed is filled with articles demonstrating that they DON’T.

OK, THAT was depressing … what is the POINT?!?

First, some of the things above make it seem like executives and HR people scheme all day about how to screw people over. They do NOT. They are people with families and mortgages and plenty of replacements mailing in applications every day. Heck, after I got laid off and then hired at Corning, I was having breakfast at the Staybridge Suites before my family moved out and met a former VP from my old job who had just started with Corning and was waiting for HIS family!

My point? Every company is filled with people, and in general people want to do well by one another, avoid conflict, and avoid hurting others. But corporate policies are about minimizing cost and maximizing profits. Over the last few decades, the term ‘resources’ for employees has been cemented in place, illustrating how people are similar to raw materials used to make products – they have a cost, and a value-add to the company. If they can get the same value add for less money? Do it.

There are many ways running a family is like running a business … but there are also many ways it is not. One of the key items is focus – the executives of a company are focused on the overall profitability and ultimately serve shareholders. In a household it is the members who are the focus, rather than the material items or anyone outside of the household (well, most of the time).

This is why following your passion matters: the CEO of a company doesn’t want to fire anyone (let alone 18,000 like Microsoft did yesterday!), but they don’t have a driving passion about how each individual employee will realize their dreams.

YOU have that drive, that passion, that focus. And so it is up to YOU to determine if what you are doing is serving your passion or just keeping your wallet full. Of course, if your passion is something that doesn’t pay enough money to feed you, perhaps you need to work at a ‘non-passion’ job to fuel your passion – but that is also fine because you are STILL fueling your passion.

My advice? Look to strong women like Danielle, Laura and Megan as examples, seek out your passion – and whether it is your own bakery or working as an accountant … follow your dreams and passions to make the most of your life.

Bonus! Fun Stuff!

Hey – any Weird Al fans? I loved his stuff back in the 80s when MTV was young (yeah, and it played music … ), and have liked some of his stuff through the years (White & Nerdy). He has a new album out this week, and has released a couple of videos. One is a parody of the Pharell William’s ‘Happy’ called ‘Tacky’, and one I thought was more appropriate to share in a blogging context! Enjoy!

What are your thoughts on the ‘corporate world’ versus ‘following your passion’?

Five Things I Am Totally Loving Lately!

20140705-005009-3009232.jpg

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Ours was fun, getting ready for vacation and enjoying some festivities. My big run ended up at 18.73 miles, and it was excellent on one of the coolest days in recent memory!

Anyway, there are a few things I am totally enjoying … and I thought – why not share?!?

http://www.amazon.com/Take-Off-Complete-digital-booklet/dp/B00K5S2H80/ref=tmm_other_meta_binding_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1404321595&sr=8-1

1. Miles Davis – Take Off: The Complete Blue Note Albums

OK, so I have already talked about Miles Davis as one of my all-time favorite artists, and since I have a couple hundred of his works between vinyl, CD and digital, it is pretty rare that I am surprised by a new release. But this new 2-CD set of music from 1952 – 54, which is the very beginning of the LP era (i.e. before then everything was on 78’s).

These 2-CDs comprise 3 different 10-inch recording sessions, and represent a remastering and reordering to put things back to their original state.

What I love is how you can hear Miles really starting to come into his own during these sessions. He came to New York and at 19 years old found himself on the front line of the bebop revolution with Charlie Parker, then within two years of leaving Bird’s band he headed up the ‘Birth of the Cool’ sessions, producing an incredibly powerful and influential set of music. After that he got addicted to heroin, and took a year or so away from music to kick that habit.

This music is his return, and forms the bridge into his ‘first great quintet’ – the 1955 – 59 group with Trane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. That band is well documented, making this as much of a ‘lost period’ as he ever experienced.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 11.25.24 PM

2. Divinity Original Sin

I have said many times that the oddly named but incredibly massive RPG ‘Divine Divinity’ is one of my all-time favorite games, and despite it taking me >100 hours to complete I have played it several times all the way through in the dozen or so years since I first played. The sequel was a solid game which I have played a few times, but not at the level of the original.

Having reviewed literally hundreds of games through the years I know the difference between infatuation and love … a cool new shooter or something with an interesting hook can really grab me, but I seldom replay them very much or they will be one of those ‘good’ games I will occasionally think about.

But every now and then a game comes along that hooks me in a way that tells me it will be a game for the long haul … and Divinity Original Sin is one of those games. A great RPG with excellent story and deep combat tactics, Original sin brings together real-time and turn-based in a way that is fun and satisfying.

20140703-152200-55320275.jpg

3. Tracking Gadgets (Polar Loop, Garming FR-15, Magellan Echo)

As I said on Instagram, I seem to be using multiple monitoring devices an awful lot. When Lisa and I hiked the gorge last weekend I had the Polar Loop and Garmin FR-15 in tracking mode. During the week I forgot to take off my Loop and I had the Magellan Echo on as well. Then the next day I just used Wahoo Fitness and the FR-15 as well!

No clue why – I am just enjoying collecting data … OK, maybe I do have an idea – I am trying to understand why the fitness tracking stuff is so variable and inaccurate for me while running. The FR-15, Magellan and Wahoo (and everything else I have used) work fine for running, and the Polar and Garmin so fine for walking … but there is a disconnect. Oh well, maybe I will figure it out.

20140705-084732-31652002.jpg

4. Civilization Revolution 2

Way back in 2005 I was writing for the now-defunct GamerDad, he and a couple of other writers got me into the newly released Civilization IV … and I dumped TONS of hours into its ‘one more turn’ addictive gameplay! It got expansions through 2007 to keep things interesting, and I have played on Mac and PC.

The series continued, with the made-for-iOS Civilization Revolution – which was scaled back but still loads of fun. Then there was Civilization V in 2010 … and that is STILL getting new content that I totally love.

Now? Civilization Revolution 2! It takes the template of the 2008 CivRev, and makes it all bigger and better … and more gorgeous! I have already worked through the game twice (it came out Tuesday night), gaining wins through domination and cultural means.

If you already have the first game you might want to hold off for a sale, but for me it is a blast well worth the $15!

20140703-152135-55295446.jpg

5. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

I had written how my 4th-gen Kindle had died and I got a Kindle Paperwhite. I was thrilled to find out that commercial planes do not require you to stow tablets and eReaders during take-off anymore! So I got to read.

I love books, and so as I get ready for vacation one of my key items is my Kindle … maybe I can make a dent on my backlog? First to finish ‘Burial Rights’, which I love and nearly finished on my Houston trip! The screen on the Kindle is clear, and the backlight means readability everywhere!

Bonus: Dates

I make it clear that I love fruits in all forms, and in one of those ‘super foods’ articles I found that prunes are excellent for a number of reasons. So I started eating them and still do – they are great and taste good.

One other item I heard about was dried dates … similarly packed with fiber and other health benefits, I have taken to eating them recently. I love the mild sweetness, and how filling they are!

What are your plans this weekend? Any thoughts to share?

What I Wish I Knew- Running With Asthma

I don’t take for granted how fortunate I am to simply go out an run without injury, joint issues, heart issues, or other health concerns. I love Laurelle’s post on running with asthma … check it out!

To a 5k and beyond!

Now that I’ve been running for a year, I’m going to share some things I wish I would have learned a long time ago about running with asthma.  

  1. The doctor is your best friend.– If you have asthma and aren’t working with a doctor to make sure it’s controlled, you need to drop everything you are doing and make sure you get seen ASAP!  Whether you have allergic or exercise-induced asthma, there is something to be done.  There are rescue inhalers for emergencies and maintenance inhalers for daily use.  Your doctor will figure out the best plan for you.  Since I started allergy shots and using a maintenance inhaler, my lung function improved dramatically (as seen in my pulmonary function tests) and I rarely use my rescue inhalers now!
  2. Stop the excuses.– I am still working on this one but for the longest time I let asthma…

View original post 460 more words

Some Efficient Ways to Shorten Your Training Cycle

200498101-001

OK – let me be honest, that title is totally misleading – but it is pretty much something I was asked on my HP Houston Labs trip this week. I have been on more than a few work and press trips since I have become a ‘public runner’ (i.e. I talked about it) a couple years ago, and on every single one since I have sought out running trails people have taken note and discussed my running and at least one person has inquired about running with me.

But on this trip there was … nothing. Well, there was one guy who was a definite outdoorsman but more into climbing and biking and not interested in running. Most of the people were decently overweight, very few were active or had positive sentiments about exercise or my running, and the greatest discussion about running was when they found I ran 50+ miles per week one person said they wished they could look like me and just cram it all in a quick half-hour a week.

Sure that was a compliment, but what struck me was the desire for the quick fix, a no sweat, no effort, no cutting back on the booze and bad food. My thought as I listened to a couple of people (ok, I’ll say it – if I never end up meeting them again it will be just fine by me) was that with the approach THEY were talking about the only ‘quick’ thing would be an injury – and they could then blame it on the exercise and use it as an excuse to not exercise!

So I thought about it on the way back – what are some ways you could REALLY shorten your training cycle? In other words, how could you quickly end up hurt and not have to worry about fitting in time for exercise?

1. Overtraining

This is something I did when I first started back to running in April 2012 … when I realized I was basically running 2.25 miles per day, I ramped my running and within two weeks was averaging more than 6 miles per day. I was also working on improving my pace. Looking back I know that was stupid … and I’m lucky I didn’t get hurt!

Overtraining is such an easy thing to do – you know you’re supposed to ‘feel the burn’ and exertion should be hard … so just keep pushing until you think you’re going to drop and that should be the best of all, right? And get up the next day and do it again and again … right?

The best expression I have heard to describe this? Tighten the screw until the head breaks, then back off a half turn. When people hear this they ask ‘wait, once it is broken it is too late, right?’ Exactly!

2. Self-Sabotage

I’ll work out after dinner; I’ll do it on the weekend; I need new shoes … new outfit … a fitness watch … and THEN I’ll start. This is one quick and easy way to make sure you never see results.

Also, things like the ‘over-size snack’ where you bike a couple of miles and then have a full Gatorade and protein bar as a snack … if you are trying to control weight, you are going to be disappointed.

Another way to avoid self-sabotage is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. I had two people who were trying to lose weight the winter after I ran my first marathon – they had seen me lose 100 lbs and become a marathoner, and wanted some of that for themselves, so they would talk to me. And as the winter rolled on I would stop by and check in, and try to help … but sadly one by one they dropped off. One was direct with me, the other avoided me. But the initial idea was good – studies show that success breeds success.

The opposite is also true – if you are with a group that doesn’t exercise, and you normally work out after work … prepare for a struggle!

3. Fear of Becoming ‘Arnold’

There is a concern – especially among women – that weight lifting leads to bulking up. As a result there are some who will simply not do any weight training … or cross training of any type. Being unbalanced in your strength is a very risky approach because it can lead to injury.

This type of thinking can also lead to being singularly focused – only abs, only legs, etc. The problem is that the concept of isolation really doesn’t work in the way we would like, and we need to develop ourselves to be balanced to maximize our chances of success. Here is a great quote: “By including varied activities in your exercise program, you will be using different muscles in different ways, and you will be less likely to be injured.”

4. Over-exertion (Keeping Up with others)

I remember the first day I used the exercise machine circuit when I joined the local Y, and a woman I work with – who is tiny – was using 120lbs on the shoulder machine, and when I got on after her … I could do it – but knew it wasn’t right, so I dropped to 80 and was much happier and more effective. I got a great workout with 30 reps and really toned myself up.

I saw that type of thing way too often at the gym, with people doing too much weight, too many reps or whatever in order to meet some sort of mental goal they think they SHOULD be doing. Or maybe what they did as a teen. Not surprisingly I know some people who ended up with injuries.

5. Who Needs Rest and Recovery?

If exercising three days is better than 2 and 5 days is better than three … then working out EVERY day as hard as possible must be the best, right?

The thing is – going for a run every day feels GREAT! I go for runs on about 95% of days. Looking across the first six months of the year I averaged a rest day once every two weeks. That is something that works for me, but probably not for most.

Rest and recovery are critical parts of any workout program – but because they are not ‘sexy’ no one talks about them. It is the type of thing most people learn the hard way.

A week or two ago I read a blog post where someone was talking about another runner who was ‘fine’ running pretty much every day … except when they were injured. Looking at that other runner I saw three injuries requiring multi-week recovery periods, missed goals and races and so on.

And here is the thing – when you look at that from a different viewpoint, they actually ran LESS than had they paced themselves with one day off per week. Because many doctors say not taking proper rest makes you significantly more prone to injury. And it lessens the positive impacts of your workouts.

6. Skip the Warmups and Get in More Workout!

If there is one great thing about using a Garmin, it is having a guaranteed minute of getting stretches and dynamic stretches done. When I use the Magellan Echo it is ready right away and I have to force myself to stretch. I also start running slower and use my neighborhood as my warm-up zone.

But again, I have seen people at the gym or at races who just hope out of the car and go at 100% … and many of them I have seen getting hurt, or by the side of the road stretching out. But not warming up properly ends up being one of those ‘silent limiters’ according to a couple of things I have read. People start a workout without research, and if it is running they just run … and quickly end up unable to continue. And they stop, and say they’re unable to run due to ‘bad joints’ or whatever. THAT is a very different thing.

7. The ‘Terrible Toos’

Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast – whatever your goal, be it marathon, century ride, bench pressing your weight … you just push it push it push it.

This one – the Terrible Toos – is very much tied into several other items, but I see it reflected in the workouts of even people who should know better. I always go back to the ‘lies of the easy pace’ – but again this week I saw someone who posted their Garmin data two days in a row, with one called ‘easy’ and the other ‘tempo’ … and yet the average paces were within 20 seconds of each other! Obviously it is their choice, but they need to realize that CALLING it ‘easy’ for whatever reason doesn’t mean getting the benefits of ‘active rest’.

I have also talked to new runners at races who feel like they have to keep up – they don’t want to be beaten by people who are too old, too young, too fat, too thin … and even a guy who still has an issue with girls who run faster. As a result they push to run someone else’s race, and just like the guy at the gym with the beet-red face trying to impress everyone with his lifting … it backfires.

8. Rushing to Get More Done

When you are just starting out people will tell you to go slow, work on form, and all of that. But that stuff takes TIME – and if you can get in 20 reps of everything at a slow pace in a 30 minute workout, you can get 40 reps if you really rush it, right? Sounds legit! If you want an injury, that is.

That sort of thing applies across the range of exercise – the bottom line is you are trying to get months worth of results in weeks. Maybe you are doubling the number of laps you swim each week at the pool or miles you are biking, or whatever. You want that 16 week training plan to happen in 4 weeks – and you’re willing to work extra hard to make it happen! Enthusiasm won’t help here, you are still very likely to wind up hurt.

9. Ignoring Nutrition

There are two aspects of this: ‘dieting while working out’ and thinking your workout allows you to eat anything.

I have talked many times about how I was still dieting during my first half-marathon. I hadn’t yet started looking at food as fuel, and as a result I crashed hard during the second half of the race and was in really bad shape at the end. Looking back it was incredibly dangerous, but it was a reminder that our bodies need to be fueled for the things we do.

But I also had another bad habit before I got back to regularly running – I was running a few days and severely restricting calories … then by Thursday I was really hungry so I filled up on bad choices and let it roll all the way through the weekend. Ugh. The saying ‘no workout can overcome a poor diet’ is very, very true. It doesn’t mean you have to skip the wine and ice cream, just that you need to think about what and how much you are putting into your body.

10. Piling it ALL in the Workout

The expression ‘sitting is the new smoking’ doesn’t give a pass to runners or other fitness practitioners. So if you go for a workout but then do nothing else, you won’t reap all of the benefits of your workout – and those risk factors for other things will remain.

So what to do? Have a ‘mindset for motion’ – find the little things throughout the day that can keep you on your feet more than usual and moving around. Use a rest room further away, take the stairs when it is only one or two floors, don’t always find the very closest parking spot, and so on. When I was in the airport this week I was amazed at how empty the stairs were next to the escalator – normally there are at least SOME people using the stairs. Give it a try!

That is actually also a good reason to check out an activity tracker – they give you feedback on what you’re doing and set goals to achieve.

And ultimately it is not about winning a bodybuilding contest or road race or whatever … it is about being the best version of you and setting yourself up for the longest and healthiest life you can possibly have.

What Ways Can YOU think of to sabotage your workouts?

What Makes You Feel Nostalgic?

20140625-121107-43867183.jpg

The other day on Instagram I shared a picture of a classic pair of Compaq laptops from around 1989-90 from my trip to HP’s Houston Labs for a tour. This laptop – the 286-powered LTE/286 – was my very first laptop, and marked the beginning of my laptop-centric life, long before it was really a viable choice.

During the tour there were a couple of display cases full with a few dozen Compaq and HP laptops showing the history and evolution of the devices through the years. Also, throughout the facility there were a number of old Compaq computers in use as utility devices – controls, measurements, and so on. These were mostly DeskPro EN models, but there were also Armadas, DeskPro 386, Presario and so on.

I had owned some generation of pretty much all of those computers. I looked at many of those devices and had a little chuckle, but none of them really meant anything special. The DeskPro 386 was something I built into optical systems I hold significant intellectual property for. Laptops … well, I have owned so many that it takes something special to stand out – and very few laptops of the late 90s stood out!

But it made me think – why does the Compaq LTE/286 or HP Omnibook 300 laptop make me ‘warm and fuzzy’ in a way few others do? Then I wondered why I look at CDs as ‘just a medium’, whereas many of my vinyl records are ‘possessions of note’? It gets to the heart of what matters to us and why. So I asked myself the question ‘what technology makes me nostalgic’ …

20140625-121107-43867436.jpg

What Makes Me Feel Nostalgic

1. Wedding and pre-wedding pictures together with Lisa

Yes I know I said ‘technology’, but hey, whatever. Photography is technology, so deal with it! 🙂

This is an easy one, because I make no pretense about how much I value my marriage and relationship with Lisa. We are incredibly fortunate, and always take time to appreciate our relationship and the hard work we have put in through the years.

Looking at wedding pictures we were so YOUNG! And we also had a lot of learning and growing up to do – as we all do at every stage in our lives. But we were so innocent and it was such a different time, I always smile.

2. Pictures of the boys when they were little

Sure I love any and all pictures of my boys, but there is something about going back to when they were little that triggers different feelings for me.

It is hard to explain, but looking at a picture of #mamaSalt and B immediately triggered memories of us at Storyland in New Hampshire when the kids were little, and in particular a picture of Chris clearly talking as we took his picture, and also of Danny on the plane to our first Disney trip playing with my Compaq iPaq and opening up a big cheery smile.

3. My old Vinyl Records

Now THIS one is interesting … I ‘went digital’ very early, and have never looked back. But recently as I have dug back into my record collection, doing a series of retro-reviews for another site, I have really felt transported in time just touching the album, looking at the jacket and seeing some wear or a stain or whatever. Sure I have the music available digitally, but this is about the physical item – it brings me back to where I bought it and when I was listening to it.

4. Certain Songs and Books

Music is a key part of my life, so yeah it gets two listings! But when I head the opening bass line to ‘Jean Pierre’ from Miles Davis 1981 ‘We Want Miles’ album I am suddenly back driving our blue 1972 Chevy Malibu. ‘Rubberband Man’ takes me to the Good Vibrations record store where I bought my first single; ‘On the Corner’ by John Patitucci has me on 128 North headed towards Billerica in my ’84 Audi 5000′; and ‘Number One’ by Chaz Jankel from the Real Genius soundtrack puts me back in the fraternity house at RPI.

And in a similar way to my records, I have a bunch of old books that I just love – and yes I own them digitally, but it is great grabbing the bulk of James Joyce Ulysses and reading a page or two at random. It puts me back in high school. ‘The Plague’ puts me on family vacation on Cape Cod in high school; The Foundation Trilogy is somehow most connected with some of my early work trips to Atlanta, Gainesville FL and Hattiesburg MS – even though I’d read them before.

5. Technology

I am typing this on an iPad, having started it on a MacBook Air, and yet I feel absolutely no connection to either. They are awesome, but they are tools. Which is true for nearly every computer device I have ever owned – my ‘impact on my life’ threshold is fairly high.

For example, I fondly remember having the original Blackberry (pre-phone), but I was also glad to have it gone. I have never really cared about any desktop computer I’ve owned. And every phone from flip to Android to iPhone and beyond remains fraught with too many compromises for them to feel like anything but a transition (though I miss good physical keyboards like my Droid 4).

For mobile devices, I have had the Newton, Palm, Pocket PC, Psion, Windows CE, and so on … yet there is a single device that still grabs me: the HP 200LX. I have talked about WHY I loved it, but more important than that was how it was just absolutely perfect for me at the time – top-notch calculator, integrated DOS and spreadsheets, document editor, and on and on. Great battery life, card slot, form factor, and sense of style – it fit between laptop and calculator and organizer. It was unique and visionary for a small audience of tech nerds like me. Just touching it brings me back in time, and allows me to forget that I had to stop using it because of a lack of connectivity, 8.3 naming limits, and lack of email address in the contact database.

As for laptops, I loved the Compaq LTE/286, the original IBM ThinkPad, the first Apple Powerbooks, Dell Inspirons and XPS, and pretty much every awesome laptop over the last few years. But again three stand out. The first is the Alienware M11X. This was the height of the netbook craze, and I had some of those as well – but Alienware brought about a ‘gaming netbook’ that just ignited my imagination! It had an 11″ screen and a small and light footprint, nearly all-day battery on integrated graphics and could play just about any game.

The best laptop I ever owned was the Apple G4 Titanium Powerbook. It was the first widescreen 15″ laptop, had a 1GHz processor, solid discrete graphics, and the ability to dual-boot Mac OS 9 and OS X. It was incredibly thin and light for the time – and was really the beginning of the end of the ‘fast OR portable’ choice … and it gave me screaming performance at games like Star Wars Jedi Knight II.

But my favorite laptops – and favorite overall piece of technology – are the HP Omnibook 300 & 800CT. Yes I am grouping two – but it makes sense. From the outside they look the same, but the 300CT was the first of its kind – a laptop designed by the calculator division. It had MS Office burned in ROM to preserve space and speed launch, ran off of 4 AA batteries, and had the unique pop-out mouse. The keyboard had amazing travel and responsiveness for a laptop of the time. The 800CT came just a couple of years later, but had a great color screen, 166MHz Pentium, and was both fast AND portable. I kept that system in action for a long time, and still have both of them around the house. For me they are a milestone of design in a laptop.

So What Makes YOU Feel Nostalgic?