Friday, May 30, 2008

Pay Attention

"Look, I get it; you come home, you work hard, and you turn on your TV... You kind of want to escape a little bit and be taken away by something. Our show required you to pay attention, and if that's not what you wanted to do, then it wasn't going to be for you, and that's OK."

~Will Arnett

How well do you pay attention?
How do you know if you aren't paying good enough attention, if you aren't paying attention to your attention span long enough to know? You know?

I find myself more and more distracted lately. So many deadlines, so many important things, so many fun things--all of them seem to demand my attention. There is a limit to how much I can do in a given unit of time, and generally I will get diminishing quality the more I try to pack into each of those units. Why is it so hard to stay focused on the priority? I have X to get done by the end of today. I A, B, and C which are due some other time. Why do I let the completion and execution of X be muddled by A, B, and C even though they aren't required at the moment?

Its more basic than a work list, though. Its every day life objects. I need to do a certain number of things every day, and mostly I can complete these things on auto-pilot. However, I have a certain number of things I want or need to do each day on top of that daily list, and these things require much prioritization. There are people and things I have to take care of which require attention. But maybe there is a finite amount of attention that can be given?

Additionally, how much can I really accomplish WELL if I am not fully immersed in it. I believe I surely can't get the most out of my life this way. Perhaps its another side-effect of graduate school...maybe its getting older. I don't know.

For now, enjoy this. But pay attention.

Awareness Test

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The future is now... no,, now....

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there”

~Charles F. Kettering

In the future we will have better balance.

This blog makes me feel like the world's biggest underachiever.


Um, yeah

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Motivates?

"Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean that no one's out to get you."


We find our hero sitting at his desk, a deadline looming. The boss is away, the lab is quiet, and the course of action clear. Never has there been as perfect a time as this for finishing his manuscript and notching another milestone off the list.

But he waivers. He thinks. He is engulfed in an overwhelming, dark pool of apathy.

When the boss returns there will be hell to pay, and he knows this. The "action items" clearly outlined have seen less action than Rosie O'Donnell in a string bikini. Why?

Fear is a good motivator, but is it enough?
Passion is a good motivator, but is it enough?

Why do we get done the things we get done? Are we rewarded somehow? And if so, what is the reward?

George Erdman, the president of EREN Corp, says there are four main motivators:

==> Recognition
People who are motivated by "Recognition" are interested in
respect, admiration, regard, esteem, notoriety and

==> Influence
Those whose primary motivator is "Influence" find power,
control, competition, independence and order to be most

==> Internal
If you are motivated by "Internal" factors, then morals,
duty, intellect, creativity, philanthropy, and honor are
important to you.

==> Profit
"Profit" motivated people strive for success with money,
possessions, acquisitions, wealth, income and growth.

But is it really that simple? I hardly believe I am motivated SOLELY by internal factors, but internal factors are one of my main drivers. I know I love a little recognition, but it doesn't mean anything without feeling like I made a difference and earned it. So what is it that motivates people? Why is it that when the end is clearly in sight, and he knows that all he needs is one concerted, hard effort and he will be finished, he simply can not finish the task? Even the fear of facing the disappointed boss is not enough to stir him to action. Even knowing the weight of his actions. Why?

No, this is not a particular person, but examples from many people I know. It really could be any field, any job, any situation that involves having to seek out some greater power to will ourself into action.

In my search for answers I found this site has some interesting concepts not just involving motivation but some other interesting things as well.

I am motivated to graduate. I am motivated to earn enough money to retire early and have fun while I am still mobile. I am motivated to do good work because I can't stand the thought of being associated with anything less than wonderful and polished.
I am also extremely, extremely tired.

I know no one will comment, because no one reads this except Jan, but if you want I would love to know what motivates you to get through something that feels like there is no reason to do "it" other than just to have done "it".

Monday, May 19, 2008

Victory is a Big Red Bike

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."

~Frank Zappa

We all need some beer. And we got some at the:

WE WON!!!!

My buddy Jeremy Gerking and I entered the Urban Assault bike race thinking it would be a good time. We didn't really consider that we would actually win the thing...

In the morning we were there pretty early; it was obvious from our early arrival, shaved legs, and shiny, high-octane bikes that we were not representative of the typical competitor. We had not the fixed-gear, bland-colored urban machine used by couriers and urban cyclists around town. We had our gear-ful triathlon geek bikes, toe clips and all, leaning ominously against the Fremont Open Theater screen. We thought we COULDN'T win, what with the knowledge of the city so many local bikers would have.

Little did we know we would end up with a pair of brand new bikes specially made by New Belgium Brewing?? It was a unique experience, to say the least, filled with some weird events, weird sights, and hard biking.

I stayed up the night before on the USATF Route Mapping tool, figuring out based on distance and time the best route to take from checkpoint to checkpoint. I figured it was still a long shot at best. When we got to the last mystery checkpoint and heard we were the first there, it became a realistic thought: we might just win this thing.
We hammered as fast as we could go from our final checkpoint, Bike Works in Ballard, back to Fremont, on Market and then Leary. When we arrived we had one last challenge--two laps around a course in a modified, adult sized big wheel. And then it was over. We did it.

Jan met us downtown and was at the finish line and watched us go through our last challenge. It was NOT a run-away victory, either. The second place team was behind us by only a couple of minutes, and it actually came down to a race on the big wheels. When we emerged from the course in first place, Jan was waiting and screamed when I told her we had won.

High fives all around.

Then we drank free New Belgium beer, ate some yummy free pizza and baked in the sun for a couple hours until they awarded us our new cruisers. I took mine for a spin yesterday afternoon--indeed it is a different but pleasant experience.

And now I can say I have jousted from the back of a BMX, thrown newspapers from the basket of a tiny, pink, banana seat bike, been a human wheelbarrow, and raced a bigwheel. All while riding as fast and hard as I could around Seattle with a great buddy. What a great day.