Monday, September 22, 2008

Yoga is hard

I picked up a yoga DVD on sale the other day: "Power Yoga for Flexibility." It features Rodney Yee, who I assume is a famous yoga teacher (yogi?), based on the many, many DVDs that feature him. Actually, for all I know, each DVD has the same content, just with a different cover.

In any event, whether Rodney is the real thing or if he's the John Edward of the yoga world, I can say the flexibility workout he goes through is hard. Not only am I woefully inflexible, but I had to stop the DVD a little past half way because it was kicking my butt. Part of that is because he flies through the routine (I thought yoga was supposed to be relaxed?) and part is because I have no idea what he's talking about. Mountain pose? Power pose? Upward dog? Breath? Stretch? What do these words mean?

Hopefully I'll get better the more I do it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Process-oriented vs. Results-oriented

As I've mentioned before, and for anyone that's noticed, I'm a process-focused guy.

Results-oriented people have a goal (or goals) in mind that take priority over all else. Simply stated, the ends justify the means. Obviously, that produces an ethical problem for some.

Process-oriented people -- while having a goal in mind -- generally focus on setting up a process for continual growth and improvement.

I've been thinking about it a lot the last few weeks. If you want to attain true excellence, I think you need to be results-focused. Every Olympic medalist has a singular focus; without it, they wouldn't win. I'm willing to be it's the same for every senior executive at a major company. For a big chunk of their careers, I'm sure there wasn't much life balance in there.

I'd be willing to bet that, over the course of human history, process-focused folks probably haven't achieved as many singular moments of defined excellence as results-focused people.

Does that mean process-focus is a cop out? An artificial way to maintain a general level of day-to-day happiness? Maybe. But since I'm not going to win an Olympic medal and I don't want to work hard enough to become a Fortune 500 CEO, I'll stick with what I've been doing.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I like believing in the little guy. That might be because, more often than not, I am the little guy.

I also like believing in the guy that's the dreamer, although -- more often than I'd like -- I'll have some derisive comment in my mind when I hear about somebody doing something that's a little bit out there.

I'm working on cutting back on my cynicism. That said, self-deprecation is another thing entirely.

"Not much has been accomplished by cynical people." -Garrison Keillor

Keillor's actually talking about St. Paul, Minnesota, but I think it applies anywhere. You can see the whole clip on ABC news. It's worth a watch.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hannah gets a new bike

I swear, I used no effort to find that picture -- it must have been fate.

Hannah is the lucky soon-to-be-recipient of a brand new bike. Through a strange confluence of interweb-related events, I found out Javelin Bikes is closing out all of their older aluminum models. These are fully built bikes with all components included, for less than what the frame alone normally costs. Again, through sheer luck, Hannah is going to wind up with a better bike than mine, for about half the price.

As I'm sure you'll agree, we figured buying a new bike was a more fiscally-responsible thing to do than renting a bike in Lake Placid for $60 for the one day we're going to go riding. Plus, I can snag her bar-end shifters when we swap out her bullhorn bars for regular road drop bars (I know, I know, bike terminology gobbledygook for the majority of you). So that saves us another $100 since I won't have to buy new shifters for my own bike (the housing on my shifters is cracking). This bike is paying for itself already! Lest you think this is completely at odds with my last post, we've been looking for a new bike for Hannah for a while now. The fact that we try to keep things simple in our lives allows us to buy bikes or new washing machines (only marginally less cool than a new bike) without undo worry.

There's one other super-special bonus that comes from buying this bike: since Hannah will now have two bikes (and I already have two bikes), that means I'm next on the bike buying rotation. My nefarious master plan is all coming together.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Simple isn't easy

I'm a fan of following a basic week when it comes to my training. If I keep the simple training schedule as non-optional, then it gets done.

It also works for all the other (more important) priorities in my life: Hannah, my job, finances, etc. I've been most successful in my life when I've said, "I am doing this" and let other things fall in place where they can. If something doesn't fall in place, then it's probably not that important.

The catch is, keeping things this simple isn't so easy. There's a lot of outside pressure to adjust to the contemporary standard. An overly superficial example is cable TV. I don't have any issue with cable (or satellite) TV itself, but for me, it's a huge time waster. I won't be able to accomplish what I want to get done if I'm sitting in front of the TV.

So, now I don't have cable (although, at the time when we first broke away from it, I vaguely remember throwing a fit: "How can we NOT have cable?"). Taking it out of the equation made my decision easier. Of course, I do like Man vs. Wild and the other shows on Discovery, so there's always that desire in the back of my mind. That gets addressed every other week for a day or so since we have cable in Texas (it comes with the Interweb). Hannah's the one that has to fight with the daily lure of Dirty Jobs.

A few years back, when I got my first apartment (and cable), I remember talking to my brother (who did not have cable) about some great show on MTV. I couldn't fathom that he wasn't able to watch it and in fact, didn't care about watching it. Now, I can't remember the last time I cared about MTV (it's probably around the time I left that apartment). Incidentally, JNM now has cable, but last I checked, he didn't have time to watch it anyway. So that's one way to not waste hours in front of the TV -- be out of your house all the time.

That title came from Father Peter Pearson's homily at St. Philip's in New Hope this past weekend. I wasn't clever enough to come up with it on my own, so I borrowed liberally.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Alternate life

Last night at dinner with my folks and one of my brothers, my mom asked what we would do if we didn't have to work for a living. My immediate answer was I wouldn't work.

When she clarified that to ask what if we were independently wealthy, I still stuck to the same answer: I'd do basically everything I do now, except I wouldn't have the career part. We'd be in the Adirondacks tomorrow.

I believe she asked the question under the general assumption that people aren't happy with their full-time jobs. I know at least one of my brothers falls into that category. But, the truth is, I genuinely enjoy my job. I like business. I like Ayn Rand. Will I want to be working in a big corporation five to 10 years from now? I don't know, but right now I do.

What we didn't talk about, but I thought about after, was, if I could/had to start over on a different career path, what would I do? There's always kinesiology, but truthfully, I'm not that into the science of sport. I enjoy knowing what I know and seeking out more information, but I tune out when it comes to the intricacies of VO2 and blood lactate.

Odds are I'd be an industrial engineer. I'm a process guy; that's where my strengths are. What's nice is, I can still do that kind of work in the future. So again, I'm doing what I want to be doing.

This is all interesting to me, because, despite going to school with a whole mess of engineers, it wasn't until entirely too recently (years after I left college) that I learned that industrial engineers aren't the guys that build these:

That's odd, because it's not like I thought civil engineers were guys that wrote books like this: