Yes, spring arrives today and with it, time for a sobering look at where my various projects are and that leads to a discussion of “firehouse rules:”
- Get down to 190 or under before May. I might make this. For the past three days my weight has hit one of those immovable plateaus that I’ve read about. If I got Tim Ferriss’s idea right, though, your body needs a periodic break from serious weight loss, so eat well with a “bonus day” (yesterday) and then start up again. Keep walking a mile a day, yada, yada.
- Get the garden in.
- Get the taxes done
- Burn the burn piles
- Finish the two decks that are patiently waiting for Mr. Chop Saw.
- Visit the kids in Arizona
- Visit the kids in Greely, CO
- Spend some time with Chris McCleary of the National Dream Center on this odd dream I had about the West Coast earthquake to come in April.
- Get new attitude indicator in airplane.
- Finish my www.musicengineerandproducer.com website (need to finish writing and mounting content)
- Finish my novel, DreamOver. (158 pages and 18 chapters so far)
- Update software on the Peoplenomics.com website – Graphics have been simplified already.
- Plus do real work now and then consulting and such.
Sometimes, though, life just comes at you harder and fasted than expected. The septic guy, for example will be back out for “round 2” today.
I still haven’t gotten the tractor tire changed…so yes, another one for the list. But that one hasn’t bothered me too much since I decided to refill all the propane bottles at the same time, so that will likely happen before anything else on the Spring List of Stuff to be done.
Reason? When we were in Tyler, TX yesterday we picked up a couple of steaks. Real beauts. There is nothing that gives me more focus to get a task done than having a big reward at the other end of the project.
Kind of like a big reward for a job well done. Old firehouse trick.
The first time I ever used it was back in 1974, or so. I had plans to put in a fireplace in the rec room downstairs. The house, brand new Wick Homes 4-bedroom in the northwest, came with the fireplace roughed in: Fire brick and all, but the outside finish was concrete block.
I decided to put an outside air vent in the raised hearth, and got that all built. But mixing up the mortar and laying the bricks for the big hollow hearth and all the way to the ceiling wasn’t, how do we say this, something I was looking forward to.
Then one weekend, my folks dropped by and Pappy said “I thought you were going to lay the brick?” It was obvious that I hadn’t touched it…they were still neatly stacked along with a dozen bags of mortar, or sop – maybe 18 of them.
“Well, been really busy at work, had a lot of other stuff today and – honestly – I’m having a hard time getting started….”
With that, out came the old fireman’s off-shift house-builder’s secret. “Your uncle used to eat have a Payday candy bar when he got something done. Califano, he didn’t seem to need much. But here’s how you do it. Mix up your first bag of mortar, and just before you start to lay your first course of brick, put a cold been down at the other end of the course. Drink it when the first course is done. Then put another down down at the far end, and you get it when you lay down the second course…and so on. Works like a charm.”
And it did. That day, I ended up with 9 cold beers, or nine courses of brick laid. That included the complicated stuff around the ducting inside. But I was young, sweating like a pig, and with cold beer powering each course, in four days time the whole thing was looking great.
As you age, the fascination with beer passes and you start looking at other pleasures. At the moment, one of my strategies (dieting and all) has been to use a particular food as a reward.
I don’t have any problem coming up with a hunger, and if the solution is a big, fat, hot-off-the-grill steak done just perfectly, (finished with a dash or two of Johnny’s Seasoning Salt or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, its just what 10-different flavors of motivational tapes couldn’t accomplish.
If you’re lucky enough to have a spouse, the rewards can be sex, food, drink, travel….you are limited only by what your fertile imagination can come up with. Big projects mean big rewards, though I find it’s the mid-sized, easy to slide projects, that need the most help. Some of big ones will get done on their own, just because they’re cool.
I don’t talk about it much, but one of the true secrets to getting a lot done in life is to put the right motivators out there in front of yourself. For example, washing the car. I can see doing the windows, but beyond that? Well, shiny cars are associated with social status, so we waste uncountable hours detailing cars and trucks. Me? Through the car wash, every fourth time, do the windows and vac. No time for manual time wasters…I have plenty of automated ones.
Like the yard. Keeps down bugs, looks good, and comes with its own reward: A hot shower to get the dust off at the end of it.
After a while, you’ll learn to use one reward for a couple of projects. The way I’ve got it figured, for example: If the tractor tire is fixed, then I can toss the 60-pound propane bottle in the bucket of the tractor and hoist it up to the deck. Saves tearing my back up, and it turns a couple of items on my project list into a two-fer.
If “Put a big, suitable reward out there” is one firehouse secret of motivation and getting things done, the other that has stood me in good stead for 60-years is this: Before starting ANY project, sit back and ask yourself: “If I were a lazy man, how would I be going about this? And, if I was going to die tomorrow, how would I be going about this?”
You see? Humans are, to a larger extent than we might appreciate, very much like computers: We need to be “TURNED ON” to really operate at our best.
So everyone plays the game of getting SOMETHING in their head that will offer more of reward than the pain and hassle of just not doing something.
There are exceptions to all rules. For example, unless you’ve got a specific goal in mind, the opening of the lowland lakes fishing season over the next few weeks many places is a monumental time sink. Sure, there might be an occasional fish, but if you just like solace and sitting in a boat, peeing in a coffee can, and drinking beer while BS’ing…why can’t people just say that’s fun?
Instead, they buy all manner of lures, rods, over-priced boats, and so forth – money that could be spent on other hobbies. Bass and trout don’t much care if they are meeting their final resting place in a creel aboard a $25,000 bass boat with a 6-million horsepower Merc on it, or a beat up $600 beat-up old jon boat. It doesn’t make a lick of difference to the bass or trout.
My point this morning is simple: When I’m not hacking through my list fast enough, it means I am not dreaming big enough rewards to stay suitably motivated. Or, I have inadvertently taken the track of the man who hasn’t asked “How would the lazy feller do this, or one who was going to die shortly?”
You may not select the lazy-man or ultimate short-timer approach, but at least, having your thinking squared away so you consider all the possibilities, you’ll set about your work in an effective manner.
Besides, I’ve got lots of those lazy-man solutions that have really turned out to be the best possible approach, after all.
Send your personal reward scheme along…one can’t have too many to choose from.
Red Or Green, What Does It Mean?
We are always learning.
Take yesterday. The FedEx guy shows up with a package. It was not the new airplane part I’m waiting for.
“I thought it was my very important package coming down two-day from Kansas…so see you tomorrow, I reckon…”
“No you won’t.”
I looked at the FedEx driver with a strange and perplexed look on my face, because after a minute he explained something that had completely eluded me – not that I was concerned about it in the first place:
“See my truck? See the ‘Ex’ part of FedEx? It’s red. The red trucks are the overnight trucks. The GREEN ‘Ex’ trucks do ground, so no, you won’t be seeing ME tomorrow – I do overnight only.”
I stuttered and stammered long enough, he got back in his truck and drove off.
And this gets me to a second point: I have never mentally needed to differentiate between ground and overnight FedEx trucks. But now I have been told, in no uncertain terms how it works.
After he left, I got a beer and put it by the bottom step. Then I walked out to the street and back, and drank the beer, shaking my head the whole way and wondering how I had missed it.
How to Beat Robotics
Our best insight of the week comes from reader Walt and it’s on the topic of robots replacing humans that I’ve worried so much about…
I think the hype/worry about robots taking over the world should be considered in two aspects.
The first is that they’ll self replicate us into oblivion. I demur this idea, at least for some time yet to come. Until we have robots mining the raw minerals out of the earth, refining, processing, forming, all the manufacturing process from mineral to mandible, this isn’t going to be. Human input is still fully required at most of the steps along the way. Methinks the crowd that promotes this idea are the same the think ground beef comes from styrofoam packages and electricity “just happens”.
The more near concern is that AI is introduced and becomes self aware, along with other AI’s within the electrical grid, banking and other massive enterprises collectively. But I don’t see robots protecting the physical plants for electrical generation.
The surefire way to beat any “boss” in a video game, no matter how hard or badass he/she/it is is very simple; pull the plug on the video console. They disappear without even a whimper.
Your know, this is a pretty interesting line of inquiry.
You know why?
Because there is a fair bit of evidence that suggests that high cultures have arisen before and some of them may have been technological. No one knows, of course, but the crypto-archeology types have lots of evidence for that.
Some of it comes down to us through folklore, like flying carpets and the Tower of Babel. And then there’s the Golem…
So what IF the reason Native Americans and earlier Middle Eastern people lived “close to the earth” without electricity, is that the robots have been here before (as in Golem) and the reason for the eat from the poisoned fruit from the Knowledge Tree was prohibited, was so some damn fool didn’t re-invent the surveillance society and machines that would try to take over?
THAT is a pretty interesting point to end the week’s ponders on.
Ya’ll come on back Monday and bring a few friends, and don’t forget to write when you break-even…