But Dad … 5 Miles Kinda IS a Long Run …

Escher

Perspective. We don’t have it.

I had included it in a ‘random thoughts’ post this past spring, but I was reminded again today that I completely lack perspective when it comes to running.

The situation? I ran a ‘quick’ 7.5 miles in 88F heat Friday after work, then turned around the next day and ran 23.5 miles including hill repeats. And THEN, instead of resting on Sunday, I headed out for a quick ‘around the block’ which I planned at 5 miles but turned into 7.75 miles. And before I left my kids asked how long I was going, and after I said ‘not long, just a quick 5 miles’, Danny reminded me that just a quick 5 miles … really not a ‘quick little run’.

How does this loss of perspective happen? Well, some of it is just that we get accustomed to running more and more miles so what was once a big deal is now routine, some of it gets back to the great comment and post Harold made, and some of it is tied in with our natural tendency to seek out approval and common viewpoints.

How We Protect Ourselves from Gaining a Different Perspective

Here is the basic thing – in a world so over-flowing with data and information, it has been shown that more and more of us choose to surround ourselves only with like-minded people and ideas. As a result, things that are different are easily attacked or ignored. Which to me as someone who grew up before Cable TV, before cell phones, and before the internet … seems weird.

I think we all see this on Facebook with religion and politics – people who we otherwise like post inflammatory things that we don’t agree with, stated in a way that leaves no space for reasoned discourse … so we block them. Suddenly we are surrounded by people who almost uniformly agree with us … or who are polite enough to never say otherwise.

But I am thinking more about running … think about this community we all read blogs from – we tend to understand what each other are going through, and very often share common experiences at similar times (actually that is uncanny at times!). So here are some thoughts specific to running.

Here is Some Perspective on Running

Just a few thoughts about the non-normalcy we can fall into over time:
– Running more than 20 miles per week is A LOT.
– Running more than 5 days per week is A LOT.
– Running When you are too sick to go to work/school is NOT normal
– Running when school was cancelled for weather reasons … NOT normal.
– When you can’t remember your last rest day – NOT normal
– When all of the ‘rest days’ over the last 3 months include either driving more than 5 hours, walking at least 5 miles, or strenuous hiking or biking … NOT normal (yes, that DOES describe my summer!)
– When you miss important family / friend / child events because of a run it is NOT normal (unless you are a professional).
– Most people will not be able to relate to essentially losing contact with you for three months as you train for a race once or twice a year as a hobbyist runner.
– When you get to the finish line of a marathon (or a 20+ mile run) and you look and feel like you are in really rough shape … people will NOT understant WHY you did it in the first place … nor why you are enthusiastic to do it again.
– Running at least one ‘half marathon+’ every week ‘just because’ … NOT normal.

I always love Danielle’s articles either at her site or her new gig with Women’s Running. Here is a fun quote from a recent one:

Genuinely enjoying a 5 am wake up call: I know that a lot of people only have time to run in the morning. Personally I wake up early most mornings of the week to get a workout in. I totally understand needing to do it, but my goodness, enjoying it? Am I the only person who literally counts down the minutes left before I have to be up and out of bed with running shoes on and starts panicking when I realize how few there are left? I love you, morning people, but I don’t have to like you right now.

I have been a very early riser (before 5AM for more than 25 years, 4AM for the last decade or so), so that one isn’t one that I can relate to. But seriously – it is TRUE! Getting up 3 hours before you have to leave for work so you can get in a hour and a half of running … that is NOT normal!

Those are just a few things … and reading everyone’s marathon training plans reminds me of the ‘new normal’ people thread into their lives in preparation for a race (loving all those posts, by the way).

How do YOU lack perspective?

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

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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’?

Weekend Musings – Perfectly Unplugged

I had mentioned that I planned to be mostly offline to enjoy a full weekend with Lisa – no running plans, no blogging, and very little ‘screen’ time. And that is exactly what happened – relaxing coffee, nice family breakfast on Saturday – followed by too much time we had to spend on finances and groceries. On the upside we’re now all set for everything leading up to vacation in a coupe of weeks. And by Saturday late afternoon we were relaxed and had a great time the rest of the weekend.

Here are a few shots from what we did – the weather was gorgeous, and we made full use of it!

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Saturday Night – Dinner and drinks … boys were both out

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Saturday Night – Catching up on Rookie Blue and relaxing with the pups

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Sunday Morning – Hike with the pups on the trails at Sperr Park (http://www.sperrmemorialpark.org)

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After picking up Danny, hit a few stores including casual browsing at Barnes & Noble

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Also grabbed some flowers and did some gardening

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Annuals, new rose bush, and flowers for the gazebo

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Cooking and Relaxing before a fun dinner with Danny’s girlfriend, followed by some board games.

My Running Summary

Last Sunday I was feeling exhausted, a little sore everywhere, possibly dehydrated … and like I needed some rest. I took off Monday and it made a world of difference. I had also planned to take off Friday … but I got home early and some extra time so … y’know!

This week was the second week of Megan’s Abs Challenge, which continues to push me and I can still feel a difference. By the end of the week I wasn’t really making gains on plant time, but I am happy that I am managing over two minutes!

Sunday: 12.5 miles, Abs, 2:20 plank
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 9.25 miles, Abs, 2:27 plank
Wednesday: 10.10 miles, Abs, 2:31 plank
Thursday: 10.25, Abs, 2:27 plank
Friday: 9.25 miles, Abs, 2:15 plank
Saturday Rest

Overall a solid week, pace up and down and a total of just over 51 miles – a great drop from the previous week and which is EXACTLY what I wanted! I think keeping in the 50-60 mile range is a better ‘steady state’ place for me, whether through lower per-run mileage or more off time.

As a reminder I am off on a trip these next few days (sadly none of my blog-friends are in the Houston area), so I have no clue what my online time will look like! Enjoy!

When was your last ‘mostly unplugged’ time?

Hey You There – Slow the F Down!

keep-calm-and-slow-the-f-down-1

Over the last week or so I have either heard from someone else or found myself saying something along the lines of …

SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

Why? Here are a few thoughts:

Driving
– Almost every day while running I will see two cars coming down the road (not busy at 4AM) … but even with just two, there is less than two car lengths between them. Yes, tailgating – nothing new … but seriously, SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

– And then this morning, I was coming towards home and there is a 3-way intersection where most people turn left, and there were two cars with one tailing the other. The front one didn’t put on a directional, and it looked like the rear car assumed he was going straight because he started moving across the yellow line into the wrong lane to make the left turn when the first car made the turn … there was very nearly an accident, horns honked, and I heard more than a few choice words. Sure the front guy SHOULD have used his turn signal … but seriously, rear car? SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

– In Massachusetts on Sunday a runner was struck and killed by a guy in a SUV. “20-year-old Haley Cremer was out running when she was hit at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.” The driver had a suspended license from three traffic offenses within 24 months, and had been found at fault in 10 accidents. The town of Sharon is right next to where I grew up so I can picture the scene – and it was at the intersection in an affluent residential area, and one of the streets was a cul-de-sac! Too many runners have been killed this way … please pay attention, come to a complete stop at an intersetion, look both ways, and SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

School
– My younger son pretty much summed it up: he is ready to be done with school for the year … but not done with being a sophomore. He is ready for life to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

Work
– An article at Monster this week made for an interesting read – it was about ‘why Americans don’t like vacations OR work’. It talks about how Americans lament that they have the least amount of vacation time in the industrial world (none is mandated), and yet in general people leave at least some of the time they DO get unused.

The glaringly awful Cadillac ad implies that the result of that is more work, but here is the thing: “Here’s the caveat: There’s actually no proof that working harder (and not taking time off) leads to greater success.”

But there IS proof that ‘down time’ has significant health benefits. So? SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

– Further to this, yesterday Megan posted that she had to ‘forgive herself’ because she was looking at a workout or recipe photo opportunity during her hyper-scheduled day … and took a nap instead.

Now I am not opposed to detailed scheduling at all – depending on my projects and life at the moment I will have somewhere between an incredibly detailed daily plan and just what is on the family calendar on the pantry door at home. It is all about what works for each of us. My point? Naps can be AWESOME, and are a great way when you are over-stressed, under-sleep, and so on … but if you feel guilty because you needed to stop and take a moment to recharge? Maybe it is time to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN! (sorry Megan! 🙂 )

The Seasons

– A few months ago I wrote and lamented that I felt like I was wishing away time because I constantly felt like I was DONE with the -20F days of winter, and at the same time we were dealing with some issues with our ‘hihg efficiency’ furnace. I was really down on myself about it – because honestly I am normally a ‘savor the moment’ type of person, and really want time to … you know.

– Last week Hollie posted bemoaning the humidity and its impact on her training, which I totally got. She said “I’ll continue to whine about the heat but in reality I’m logging injury free miles. Despite being slower, I know I’ll feel fabulous when fall rolls around again.”But looking at it and also many of the comments that were frankly whining about summer and wishing for cooler fall temperatures to arrive.

That led me to comment that there are essentially two seasons for runners: complaining about winter and complaining about summer, with about two weeks on either side of ‘happy time’.

And at the same time we have gone through warm and cold temperatures the last couple of weeks here, so naturally I have heard people complain about BOTH hot and cold, wishing for more summer and for hte fall to hurry up and get here. It is frustrating to me that so many people seem to spend each day wishing to be somewhere else in time.

How are we already half-way through 2014? Please someone tell this year to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

Rest

– This is interesting. We need sleep to survive, and also know that most people are chronically fatigued (and dehydrated) – rest is critical. But as the Monster article I noted before says, we are working more, taking less vacation, and resting less than ever before.

OK, so … ? When I did my ‘Three Films’ post there were notes about not being into movies, and when I and others did Liebster posts that included movies … I saw many people saying they didn’t watch movies – and one of the most common reasons was that if they sat down to watch a movie, they fell asleep. Guess what? If that is true, you are exhausted, and should Go The F to Sleep! Yeah, I am saying you need to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

Running

– I have already noted that I ‘call BS’ on so many people posting ‘easy’ runs that really make no sense in the context of what the person has demonstrated. Easy is different than ‘felt great’, and is more about building a base than doing focused training. Why do I care? Because there are only a few possible directions this all goes – it can fall in the ‘unreality’ bucket, reduce the effectiveness of training (too tired when you are supposed to do high impact training), or land you injured (again). If your plan for the day is ‘easy’ paced miles, I don’t care what you THINK as you head out the door – do yourself a favor and SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

– Another great post by Hollie talked about her week in training, but had some great perspective: “My miles this week weren’t incredibly fast. … As I said on Thursday, injury free miles are always my priority and they aren’t something I will complain about.” This is an incredibly important way of thinking about things.

Look – every runner wants to be faster, run longer distances and no one wants to be injured. But at a certain point there are choices to be made: there are a couple of ironic building sayings “tighten the screw until the head breaks … then back off a half-turn” and “no matter how many times I cut it is too short!” In context what I am saying is that there is a cross-over point where our pursuit of speed and distance runs into our attempts to avoid injury.

At that point we realize that you can’t ‘back off a half-turn’. And in this case when I say we all need to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!, I am talking about literally and figuratively – pace yourself through gradual improvements, and take the time to really analyze what you are trying to do.

Personally in the last two years I took ~40% off my ‘normal’ pace, most of it during the first year with more gradual gains this past year. I could have pushed more for additional speed gains, but after the PA Grand Canyon last year I had a long self-talk and decided staying injury-free was my #1 priority because it is love of running rather than any race or pace that is my passion.

Blogging

– I just finished a couple of ‘post campaigns’ – ’10 Days of You’ followed by my few ‘what caused my blogging hiatus and what I learned’ series – and they were EXHAUSTING! The comments were … incredible. I am constantly touched and moved by how awesome all of you are. Seriously. But as I say – exhausting. I really need to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

– So if you haven’t noticed I have already removed the ‘weekly post’ labels – this isn’t a ‘Take Care Tuesday’, there wasn’t a ‘Five Things Friday’ or ‘Motivation Monday’ and so on. Doesn’t mean those posts won’t happen, but by removing that weekly focus I can write when I want to. And so that is what I will do. Will I post tomorrow? Who knows. My focus is going to be more on writing when I want to and doing what I feel is worth sharing and taking your valuable time.

– In terms of reading, this week I’ve added about a half-dozen blogs to my reader, and not removed any. This I already know is not sustainable, and am already doing a couple of things differently with these new blogs:
* adding more blogs to my ’email me new posts’ list, and if I delete without clicking more than two times in a row – I will delete the subscription.
* Doing more from the iPad WordPress app. One thing I have noticed? Some blogs won’t allow me to comment or ‘Like’ their posts. It isn’t always a self-hosted thing either. Suffice to say, unless I already love you, if I have to click through to get value from your post (read other comments, post my own, like and share) … chances are you are gone. Yes I know it is probably about advertising clicks, but sorry … not sorry.

Being more efficient in my blog reading and writing will allow me to enjoy the blogs I love even more and hopefully continue to write with passion while maintaining my busy life.

Life
– As I said at top, our younger son will be a junior and our older son a senior in high school next year. That means college trips this summer and tons of time spent on essays, applications and so on come the fall. With our busy schedules it is hard sometimes, but so important to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN and take the moments like I did yesterday to ask about their last day, just chat for a few minutes and see how it is all going for them. I have realized that it is also one reason I don’t mind that much when I have to drive them to school …

– This morning Lisa and I sat drinking coffee on the porch as I ate my breakfast and the dogs watched and listened for anything of interest in the very quiet foggy morning. It was slow, lazy, and relaxing and awesome. Last night she didn’t get home until after 7PM, so by the time we’d finished dinner and cleaned up and were sitting down outside it was almost 8:30 and she felt like we should go for a walk, but was also totally exhausted. Relaxing is SO hard … but in reality we all need to spend more time in the moment, enjoy the people we love, and just …

SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!

Just to share – here is a music video Chris did of ‘Summertime Sadness’

Boy got m4d sk!llz! haha

In What Ways Do You or the World Need to SLOW THE F%$# DOWN!?

Does Caturing the Moment Take Away from Experiencing It?

XKCD Photos

I think we have all been somewhere trying to enjoy a performance or a quiet scenic moment, only to have someone bound and determined to capture every little detail … and seemingly as loudly as possible! This seemingly insatiable need to document everything – to Instagram our meals, use an iPad to record a concert, live-tweet shows, and on and on … it has created somewhat of a backlash.

Look at this blog post, and most of us can commiserate.

One thing as I go through pictures for my blog from years past is how compartmentalized things are. I have basically no pictures from high school – because I wasn’t the type to carry a camera. Now when I look back I wish I had SOME pictures … but I was never going to be the obnoxious type.

And THAT is one real issue – that people become obnoxious, almost entitled about their ‘right to film’. Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett is infamous about his insistence of non-filming (which goes back to the distracting mechanical clicks and now the artificial click sounds of cameras), at the concert for Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion he very specifically asked the audience not to film and there were signs everywhere … yet there are plenty of examples of the shows on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, from last summer pianist Krystian Zimerman stormed off stage when (after the usual ‘do not record’ warnings) he spotted someone filming his performance. As he noted, YouTube performances of his shows playing songs had lost him recording contracts – why should they pay him to play it when it is already on YouTube?

More and more, restaurants struggle with cell phone use – it used to just be annoying rings and beeps and people talking loudly over the phone. Now we deal with ‘Instagram foodie’ people – reports of people having portable lights and standing on chairs to get ‘that perfect shot’.

Notice the common thread? People believing their rights to photo/video is unalienable, that their right to talk/text/whatever means anywhere they choose, and that the basic rules of decorum do not apply to THEM.

But as is true with pretty much everthing else – most people are at least trying to be decent. They turn off their ringers at events, if they need to take a call they leave quietly and apologetically, they might Instagram their meal, but it doesn’t become a restaurant-wide event, and so on.

The xkcd comic from last week makes an important point – that capturing your experiences doesn’t HAVE to mean that you aren’t experiencing life … in fact, it can sometimes open up new adventures and experiences.

And isn’t that the thing – trying to get the most out of your experiences and also have something to remember them by? How many times have you met memorable people (for ANY reason) when they wanted a picture taken or if you were trying to get a family shot and they offered … then you met their dog, and heard their story, and it was just a great moment in your day?

So go ahead and grab that picture or video, photo that meal, be silly for a selfie or try on that new outfit and grab a mirror-shot to share. But also remember that those images should be the triggers to our memories – not the entire contents: we don’t want to be like the diver whose only memories of a close encounter with a huge shark are pictures, because he never pulled his face away from the camera to actually EXPERIENCE that real-life closeness.

OK – tell me one good and one bad experience you have had with yourself or someone else taking pictures!