Is it better to do something than to have something?
Or is there a fine balance in between?
My therapist suggested I think about doing more activities, than having more stuff the other week.
Not in a “you should probably stop buying so much stuff from Amazon…” but more in a “why not think about experiences” instead.
And I agree.
Clicking “add to cart” when you’re down in a slump is easy, and it provides for a short-term fix only, an injection of happy, that “ooh, UPS just delivered” feeling we all love.
But it’s not for the long haul.
Doing, and therefore experiencing, whether with someone else, your family, friends, or alone, will build memories for a lifetime – regardless of what takes place. I associate very strong memories from my childhood with doing, and almost none with having.
When I was a kid, probably around 6 or 7, my dad introduced me to the ocean. I had taken swim lessons, sure, in a pool, and been around water my whole life having grown up on the west coast of Sweden.
But dad was a rescue diver in the Swedish Coast Guard, and had his own plans.
“It doesn’t matter how deep the ocean is if you can swim!” he shouted from the safety of our boat. I was treading water somewhere in Kattegat (a feeder body of water to the North Sea), and was beginning to panic.
“How deep is it?” I shouted from in between gulps of seawater, the cold taking its grip on my body, and with the slight fear that he’d make me swim home…
“It doesn’t matter.”
Then he hauled me back in the boat, handed me a towel, and gave me a warm hug. A childhood memory captured forever.
Later on, when I was in a Master’s program at Kent State, and we discussed the proper mindsets for learning, that memory came back.
“Fear,” I said, “can be an effective mindset, too, right?”
I started to remember my days at Fort Knox, in basic training for the military, where each day held a hefty dose of fear. Not fear for our lives (at least not every day…), but fear of falling out of line, of not meeting spec, of being late to formation. And we learned at a 100 MPH pace, and became very good, very quickly
A healthy dose of fear, like being thrown into the ocean by your dad, teaches you something. You learn very quickly what works, and what doesn’t, and you’ll remember the outcome forever.
“Um, no…?” said the instructor. “Fear is not one of them…”
I don’t know if I agree.
So what about having, then? Does that leave lifelong memories in its track?
Whether you have food on your table, and a safe space to sleep at night? Yes. But whether you have the latest fashion, the video game console, or something else is less important, perhaps.
I have no idea what toys I had when I was a kid. At least not the ones I didn’t make myself out of sticks and other materials. And yes, that’s a true statement…
That time I almost chopped my finger off with an axe? I’ll remember that forever, and I still have the scar to prove it.
Dad was the one who took me to the hospital after a bit of “it’ll probably stop bleeding in a bit…” and with a sly smile on his face. He knew. That kid will never make that mistake again…
Thanks, dad, for all the memories you gave me, and for continuing to inspire me 30 years later. Here’s to making some more, soon.
Tipping in the drive-through lane… what’s up with that?
I’m usually a generous tipper. When we’re out to dinner, 20% is the standard for decent service to help cover the wage gap between service staff minimums and the work they actually do.
25% is never a problem for service that’s better than normal. And tipping at our local breakfast spot is always a flat $20.
You tip for the service. For the experience.
For the “just right” amount of having someone else fetch you the ketchup or refill your beverage.
But at the drive-through?
Many of the larger chains like Starbucks or Dunkin have apps that automatically let you deduct funds you’ve pre-loaded with the hopes of earning stars, free drinks, or that ever-elusive status of a frequent sucker in line for hot java…
Other smaller outfits are still sans app or have an app with no payment system and therefore resort to payment cards at the window.
And lately, they hang out the hopper with a PIN pad, asking you to “complete a few simple steps” in paying for your cup of caffeine.
And wouldn’t you know it?
The first screen asks for a tip with its big easy-press button interface!
And right behind that device, a pair of sad-sap college-student eyes hoping you’ll fund their next tattoo, or spring tuition, by feeling guilted into tipping for service that is handing me a cup of coffee.
This is where I draw the line.
Drive-through service is just that.
Order the food you want, drive around the corner, pay, and get your sack of burgers or tacos. And once you leave, that “service” experience is over.
Need more hot sauce? Too bad. You’ve already left, and you’re back on the main road…
And you know what else?
It’s not consistent, either.
Some days the PIN pad is there asking for a handout, and other days, like when it rained hard this past week, it was not… because the extra step of reaching out for human interaction and gratitude in the form of a few extra cents couldn’t be bothered to get wet!
So the next time you’re in line for that sweet treat at your local honey hut, beware the hand that asks for something that never took place…
If they wanted to pay their team better, why not bake it into the price of the biscotti?
There’s no service worth tipping at the drive-through. And that’s the point… You’ve got places to go!
Time is, and has always been very important to me. Not just “it’s almost 5 PM…” I’m the kind where it’s 4:57 PM. Or more correctly, 1657 HRS. The correct way to tell time is to consider, and use, all 24 hours that are allotted to us each day, and cut out what’s unnecessary.
Like AM and PM. I bet you don’t know what that stands for either way…
I’ve measured time over the years with a variety of timepieces, and I always wear a watch. Always.
“You don’t take it off for bedtime?” “No. Never.” “What about in the shower?” “Never.”
And if it needed to be charged, I swapped it out for a backup watch in between. No joke.
But. As of late, I’ve been more apt to stop measuring the things that ARE NOT that important to me, and to continue the journey of disconnection from the online, the always-on, the data collecting hive that is the internet in the form of our smart devices… being helpful with “let me track your heart rate, your steps, and…”
No thanks. I’m cutting the cord, and it’s back to basics. A timepiece to measure time. And that’s all.
Here’s a rundown of some of the watches I’ve had over the past 15+ years. They all still run. And to be fair, I had an Apple iWatch in there someplace, for less than a year (v2). It needed charging every 24 hours. A real pain in the rear… Ultimately I didn’t like it.
CITIZEN Promaster Dive watch.
Measures time. Never needs charging due to Eco-Drive that runs on solar or any other light. Battery reserve 6+ months. Full to empty 12 months (in the dark).
Waterproof to 200 meters for all the deep-sea diving most people do. Bright enough to read in total darkness. Handsome AF. You need one.
GARMIN Instinct Solar Tactical.
Measures everything – steps, heart, breathing, orienteering routes, stars, moons, and intergalactic tensions. Runs full blast for 20+ days on one charge – woah! Super lightweight. Excellent backlight. Easy to read.
Pairs with your phone. Can do notifications if you want to your wrist to vibrate all the time. I never did. I’ll still use this for running, orienteering, etc.
Bonus – the lack of a touchscreen (using buttons instead) means you can control it in snow, rain, and with gloves.
You should get one instead of the Apple iWatch… it’s better.
A non-smart atomic timekeeper that also keeps track of barometric pressure, your altitude, and has a compass, alarms, and so on. Solar powered. Syncs every night with Denver, CO for ultra-precise timekeeping.
Bomb-proof performance. Wore it 24/7/365 for 7 years. No issues. Backlight is perfect. The strap is perfect.
But, it’s a giant watch, so you need to be ready for that. Will not fit under your shirt sleeves if you’re in a suit. Waterproof, obviously.
CASIO G-SHOCK RISEMAN.
Same as the Pathfinder, but smaller, with a smaller watch interface. Solar-powered, waterproof, you get the idea. My backup to the Pathfinder if needed. Looks tactical. Oskar borrows it when he needs to.
CITIZEN Eco-Drive Titanium.
My first “adult” watch I bought in high school. Solar-powered, all titanium construction, gold accents. Wore it through college, and if I’m in a suit now. A listing on eBay calls it “vintage” so I guess I’ve got that going for me…
There have probably been a few others, too. I wore the TIMEX Ironmans for a while back in the early 2000s. They last as long as their battery runs, but once you replace it, no more shower watch.
One early-model Ironman got doused with diesel fuel pretty bad in the military, and the face melted.
I wore my dad’s dive watch, too, back in 6th grade. I wish I still had it – maybe he does, but I’m not sure.
And what about all those Rolex watches I keep seeing online? $20K for a watch that I have “to handle easily so it doesn’t scratch” is not what it’s all about. Keep your Submariner – I’ve got a mortgage to pay.
Last weekend I signed up for the first orienteering race of the year. After all, it was the event I helped start years ago – the Snow-O – that has now become annual tradition for my club.
It’s cold. It’s miserable. No one’s been in the woods for some time.
It’s not a delight when you’re still in a warm cozy bed on a Saturday morning. Last weekend called for 32F and snow. C’mon.
I didn’t want to go.
And who can blame me? Running around in freezing weather, map in hand, hoping my poor conditioning doesn’t leave me alone in a ravine someplace, unable to get out. Forecast: Grim.
I had a pretty strict talk with myself.
“It’s time. Let’s go. Don’t disappoint your club. It’s only 6-8km, and it will only take an hour or so. You won’t even feel the cold. You know how to read a map. As a matter of fact, you’re kinda good at it…”
You know, the usual self-talk.
And so I did.Even though I didn’t want to.
I put on my bright neon running tights, found a thermal top, club shirt, carbide-tipped orienteering shoes, and compass, and off I went.
It was cold. It was a strain on my lungs and my legs. But my mind fired with all its might, control after control, and I managed to sneak in a top placement. Skills were still sharp after a 2-year hiatus, apparently.
Discipline. Discipline to get it done. To perform. To take the next step, to get out of the comfort zone, and into the woods. “I can do anything for an hour or so,” I told myself at the starting line. And it’s true. You can too…
I didn’t want to at first. I did it anyway. Your mileage may vary.
Oskar is playing a new game on the PS5 – Ghost of Tsushima. It’s a game about a Japanese Ronin hell-bent on avenging his uncle. Or something like that… the graphics are so good you’d think you’re watching a live-action movie.
But that’s beside the point.
On setup, he was given options for play modes – normal, cinematic, in English, or in Japanese with subtitles. He chose the latter.
It’s an intense way to play a video game.
Not only does he have to pay attention to the action on screen – oncoming threats from Mongol bowmen, feudal lords, and the story itself – he also has to read the subtitles from all the dialog. And there’s a lot.
To recap – he’s playing a video game, with audio in Japanese and subtitles in English – and as usual, doing amazingly well.
First the why… Oskar and his sister watch a lot of anime that’s often in Japanese, and not dubbed into English. Subtitles are a must to access that content. They’re used to it.
They’re also in the habit of adding subtitles to normal programming – English/English – as it helps them pick up on accents or new words. They’ve been doing this themselves without prompting for years.
When I asked Oskar why he chose subtitled Japanese audio for Ghost of Tsushima, he said it was because he “wanted to; it was more fun that way. And it was a more complete, the full, experience.”
And the how… practice. They do it all the time, and reading subtitles are now part of their skill set. There’s no missing out on the show, and they often pick up subtle hints on plot lines, tricky names, and whispered lines easier than I do.
As a side note, I used to watch a lot of programming that was subbed, too. Growing up in Sweden in the 1980s, we had Swedish TV1 and TV2, and since we lived close enough geogrpahically, Danish TV1 and TV2 also. This was all antenna broadcasting, of course, as cable TV didn’t arrive until much later.
All of the McGyver, Dallas, Top Gun, Cocktail, and Pretty Woman I adored as a kid were in English (American), subtitled in either Swedish or Danish. So there’s that…
I’m excited they’ve both picked up a useful skill – decoding and translating on the go – as it will no doubt benefit them later in life.
What about subtitles when working with people? What if you could have running subtitles below each conversation in person, so you never miss a word, a phrase, or an intent?
It’s not possible, of course.
But you can get better at recognizing the signals others send when speaking with them or interpreting emails, text messages, or social media snippets.
The game Oskar’s playing has built-in time for reflection. A quick pause to process new skills, level-up competencies, or gaze at the horizon. Here’s your chance, too…
#ProTip – did you know automatic subtitling is available in most YouTube videos and Google Meet Calls? Yes, Google Meet calls that are happening live, in real-time… They call it ‘Captions’ and here’s how to turn them on. You’re welcome. 😉
It’s time to let go of distractions, doom-scrolling, of app checks, and likes. It’s time to prune a few branches of the tree that still has plenty of growth to do and rid myself of those things that drag me down.
Last night I deleted the last social app on my phone. This came after a rapid effort to get rid of those things that suck my time productively and make me distant, disconnected, and alone.
Social media is out, and I’m gone from those platforms.
There. I said it.
I had Twitter for a long time and connected with thousands of other educators on that platform. It benefited me as a new teacher, mentor, and promoter of what works.
I ventured into Facebook, too, and connected with overseas family, long-lost acquaintances, and a few hobby groups. Orienteering was there, my USPSA buddies were there… and so was all the garbage, fake news, and loaded politics.
Need more cats and memes in your life? I used to love spending hours on Imgur, just scrolling for no reason to see the latest meme mashups, cat videos, Christmas selfies, and whatever else was promoted to the top.
It was hard to let it go. I even did a few years of Secret Santa through that app, which was fun to participate in.
The LinkedIn app on my phone? I don’t need it. I’ll still post on there but from my laptop. LinkedIn is still part of what I do professionally, but even so, I wonder about its potential.
And my last obsession – YouTube Shorts. I couldn’t get enough of “hey gym bro” or “What’s up my guys?” or learning more than I ever wanted about the elusive Rolex trade.
Cooking shorts, that guy who makes drinks and slaps each bottle with his ring, the Aussie gal who jumps rope, and a Russian bartender filled my afternoons with wasteful content I don’t need.
That, too, was pruned last night.
Now, all there’s left are apps for productivity, communication, and an aggregate news app.
Last night was the first night in many years before bedtime I didn’t spend at least 30 minutes on some platform scrolling until my eyes hurt. And I slept like a rock. I wonder if there’s a connection?
For all the connecting we seek as humans, it’s astonishing how little the apps actually do for us. The scrolling only highlights what we don’t have, what we want, and drums up that inner jealousy that leads to “add to cart” or, worse yet, divorce, mental ruin, and retreat from reality.
Social media is not helpful or productive in maintaining relationships with your spouse, your kids, or those you associate with. You can do all of that in person.
No one likes ice baths. You can’t convince me otherwise. No one makes gains in the gym without help. It’s all bread and circuses.
None of the personalities on TikTok, YouTube, or Insta is doing it to help you. They’re helping themselves. Period.
Liver King? Fake.
Carnivore MD, who lives an enchanted life in Costa Rica? Show me when you actually eat the testicles, will you? Bullshit it is.
Wim Hof. Charlatan.
There. I said it.
Do yourself a favor, and ask a few questions about who you’re about to blindly follow down a slippery slope of supplements, vitamins, raw liver, or life-altering meditation.
How did they gain their fame?
Where does their money come from? Who benefits from their lifestyle? Is it attainable? Do they work a normal job, like you, me, and anyone else? Do they have kids?
You see, when the last two sentences are true, a lot of other things go out the window, and you leave priorities behind.
Raising kids or shredding those abs? Ain’t got time for both… and don’t tell me you do! You can’t be 100% in both places.
You either get kids that are well-behaved, smart, like to read, and will pass your genes on successfully, or you get rock-hard abs and shoulders like Adonis. You don’t get both.
Dadbod it is. Get used to it. Get over yourself.
“Life is pain your highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
– The Dread Pirate Roberts
It’s true, and you know it.
So relax. Enjoy life. Eat a vegetable with your steak.
I’ve come to realize I know very little about a lot of things, but some things are worth learning more about, and others are not.
I don’t need to chase ultimate nirvana in a cold shower. I like it warm. I don’t need to eat liver to feel better about myself. Have you tried 4% yogurt?
Here’s to some hard truths. May you ever go boldly seeking what you need, and ask many direct questions along the way.
Happy New Year!
PS – can you still lift a few weights and maybe do some pushups once in a while? Sure. Stay loose. Maybe run a trail in the woods, too. Meditate or cry in the shower? Also ok. But let’s skip the ridiculous social media portrayal of what’s “normally” attainable by the average guy, girl, or whoever you are.
When it’s time to learn something new, what do you do?
Do you spend the time it takes, enroll in a workshop, get an instruction manual, or poke a stick at it?
For me, it depends.
What’s the purpose? Personal or professional?
If it’s for me, or for fun, there’s nothing to gain but the experience itself, and there’s a low risk level. What’s the worst that can happen? I go back to my old ways, and continue on.
Best case? I learn something new, add it to my toolbox, and share it with others.
Professionally, I tend to spend a bit more time learning before doing, and I often learn/experience something outside of professional projects before moving new skills into the realm that generates income.
Take web design, for example. You’ll likely see something new on my personal blog before I move that skill over to a school district’s website, for example.
And today, on Christmas Day, 2022, what am I learning?
I finally decided to take the leap over to Gutenberg – WordPress’ editor, and force myself to learn it. It’s the future, after all, and I’ve waited far too long to explore the many new content blocks, editing modes, and flexibility it offers.
The internet remains, like the boat above, but the passengers, captains, and oceans have changed. So should my skills.
So here’s to new beginnings, albeit a bit late, and I’m learning something new by forcing myself to give up the past.
I look forward to new abilities, new opportunities, and new realms. Perhaps you’ll sail with me sometime?
When was the last time you learned something new?
a real question…
This, for example, is a poem written by an AI, about the future. I asked it to “write a poem about the future”…
The future is endless and has just begun. It’s a time to learn.
Imagine 50 years from now – you’ll still be alive – what will the world look like then? Auto-generated content, that’s for sure, so who will write all the beautiful prose we’ve come to love?