Dec
11
2013

9 Odd things about burning the midnight oil

As I sit here in a dark, quiet house I find myself thinking about what keeps me up late at night chasing dreams and pushing them into reality. Upon reflection I came across a few things that I thought odd:

1) You get hungry at weird intervals. That hunger usually pops up when you are stuck on a problem, or when you have knocked a TODO off your list. I must be getting lots done as I appear to be putting on weight.

2) When you make a snack, you tippy-toe around like you are afraid Zombies may hear you and come devour your flesh. Waking 4 kids in the middle of the night wouldn’t be far off the Zombie metaphor me thinks.

3) Your feet get cold. Sitting in a less than stellar chair for hours on end seems to muck up ones circulation, and jumping on the treadmill is a non-starter due to the Zombies from #2… Maybe I’ll go make a snack and stretch the legs.

4) Nom Nom Nom

5) You start listening to weird music. Top 40 seems incredibly passe when you are coding an intellectual masterpiece. Instead you generally turn to classical, or maybe some 80’s hair band. Pour some sugar on me, oooooooooh in the name of… Nevermind.

6) Social media goes to bed! If you pop up Facebook or Twitter you will find your feeds are diminished considerably, which of course helps you stay on task and be more productive. Except for Reddit that is. Reddit never sleeps. Thankfully I am committed to only checking Reddit when in the washroom and at no other time. I am VERY serious about this rule!

7) You go to the bathroom alot.

8) Research can be dangerous. Without children scuttling about the house or the clickety-clack of keyboards from adjacent pods, you know that nobody is going to come around the corner and bust you reading about wormholes being at the center of entanglement when you quite innocently had intended on searching how to make a putty connection to an EC2 server. You can get equally as caught on wormholes should you be looking up what you can make with a few ingredients in the fridge that you know you can get at without making too much noise. Entanglement is a funny thing.

9) Before you know it, 4am is staring you in the face. You want to get a little bit of sleep so you can function during non-vampire hours, but you also desperately want to keep going because you never feel like what you have accomplished is ever enough. Such is the crux of turning dreams into reality. Maybe just a few more minutes…

Oct
18
2012

Hot sauce.. will I ever learn?

I recently sent an email of “thanks” to a co-worker who gave me a new bottle of hot sauce to try. I thought I should share:

My buddy-ol-pal Kristian brought a hot sauce into work for me, which I tried last night.

To be fair, Kristian warned me that it was very hot.

After having a drop of it on some macaroni last night I assumed Kristian was exaggerating as it appeared to have no true resemblance of heat. Not realizing that this initial drop was akin to the heat depleted cover of a volcano, with all of it’s face-smashing heat remaining at the core, I proceeded to put more than a dozen more drops of the sauce on my macaroni. The following is a time lapse of what ensued:

1st bite – wow, this packs a punch.
+3 seconds– top of skull feels warm
+5 seconds– top of skull is sweating

2nd bite
+10 seconds- eyelids are sweating

3rd bite
+15 seconds- all I can taste is pain, but I won’t give up

4th through 30 bites
With each bite I assume I’ve hit the peak of agony, but each subsequent bite proves me wrong.
With the last spoonful I congratulate myself on a job well done.

But wait
Is that… is that. Why yes, it’s more pain.
Uncontrollable pain that keeps rising… what to do, what to do?
Seeing no end in site, I run upstairs, grab a new spoon, run downstairs and grab a ¼ tub of ice-cream.
For the next 10 minutes I slap one spoonful after another of ice-cream into my mouth, providing momentary relief from the burn.

… eventually I run out of ice-cream.
After 2 liters of milk directly from the carton, and having more dairy in me than a herd of cows, I was out of options.

The heat and pain came back. I burped and singed my eyebrows.
I decided to lay down and think happy thoughts.
I’m not sure what possessed me to lay under a cover, as it became a mixed blessing upon the first dutch oven.

The bonus being that it drove me to an unconscious state so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain in my face anymore, however, when I woke up in the morning something was very wrong in the core of my digestive track. Running to the bathroom was a non-option as I knew that sudden movement would create a tear in space-time in the general vicinity of my ass. I slowly rolled off the bed and crept silently to the washroom for fear of waking the demon within…

After waking again in a noxious haze in the bathroom, I realized just how glad I was that nobody in my house smoked. Though slightly worried that if anybody in the neighborhood lit a cig it would bring about Armageddon, I decided to throw caution to the wind and jump in the shower. I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was, that any water that came close to my ass either evaporated or turned into 3rd degree burns on the surrounding skin. Having no snow cones on which to sit on, one’s only choice was to rinse off quickly and air dry.

I thought briefly on the way to work that perhaps I should stop by the military barracks and register myself as a weapon of mass destruction, though I quickly realized that I would be self vetting given that nobody would be able to get my signature as they would succumb to exposure well before they could hand me a pen.

Thanks for the hot sauce Kristian. I really enjoyed it!

Jan
22
2012

Unified Quantum Beer Theory Of The Universe

In the past I have read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” and recently I read the book “Surely You’re joking Mr. Feynman”. Both very interesting reads, Hawking’s book being the heavier lifting of the 2. Right now I’m starting Michio Kaku’s “Physics of the impossible”, and I must say that it has my mind working overtime. I can hardly read a page without a tsunami of thoughts flooding into my brain, but there is one thought in particular that I’m caught on.

Many of these thoughts have to do with my questioning of the origins of the Big Bang, as well as my thoughts on the eventual fate of the universe. I keep thinking that, regardless of the amount of time, how could the Universe possibly just fizzle out? If everything did in fact come from a “Big Bang”, then surely something equally as spectacular has to be in store for it at the end (Blame Newton’s #3 for getting my mind stuck in such a state). Iterating over these thoughts, then doing some more reading, then iterating again, I think I have come up with the Grand Unified Quantum Beer Theory Of The Universe:

Graduating pictures of beer to squirrel

 

Above I have depicted the only way I know how to make heat death of the universe make any sense (plus it has a handy way of explaining away black holes).  If you think of a glass of beer (that never goes flat) in terms of a 4th physical dimension of space, you can imagine the seemingly spontaneous carbonated bubbles within it as being akin to the creation of a universe (a mini Big Bang).  If you think of the height of the glass as representing time, then you can imagine a bubble being created at the bottom of the glass (the start of time) and eventually floating to the top of the glass (the end of “useful” time). At the top of the glass we have the head of the beer (this “foam” could be analogous to a universe graveyard of sorts). Those bubbles in the head don’t last forever though – they eventually “pop” and some of what made up that bubble settles back down into the glass of beer. .

This theory fits very well inside my feeble brain as it allows for a universe to be spontaneously created, exist, and cease existing without any big hoopla. What’s even better is that many more
universe’s can suddenly appear from the beer/ether because enough stuff inside the beer eventually smacks into other stuff, creating a bubble.

In my mind, this theory also explains away black holes as “leaks in the carbonated bubble”. Because the “Beer” is a 4th dimension of space it becomes a natural extension of any other dimension and can happen anywhere we have 3 dimensions… which is everywhere… except cartoons. It makes sense then that we could have a leak in the bubble (like a hole in a balloon) and some of what is inside the bubble could leak back into the beer itself.

The critics of my theory may ask “If the Universe is in a glass of beer, then what is the glass?”. I will have to defer you to the quantum physicists of the world to answer that, but the short answer is that the glass doesn’t actually have to exist; it’s just a container for this idea that can help it make sense in my 3 dimensionally biased brain. Either you can take that answer or I can defer to Will Smith (via Men in Black) for a completely alternate answer where the glass is actually in a dimly lit bar where a bunch of aliens hang out, but that thought brings you to a circular dependency cycle that never ends; and if I have learned anything from being a computer programmer – circular dependencies are bad, so I’ll stick with my forever bubbly 4th dimension beer that exists everywhere.

Oct
22
2011

Making a tractor sounds fun!

My work cohort, Lex Pattison, just posted a video on Facebook for a project called the “Global Village Construction Set“. There are some ideas that hit you in the face like a sledge-hammer as a “no-brainer”, and this is one of those ideas. As Lea and I prepare to welcome child #4, we realize our house is becoming a little cramped. We realize that our descendants lived with a thousand children in a 12 by 12 house and that you can make do with very little, blah, blah, blah; but the fact is that we’ve been dreaming of setting ourselves up on an acreage for years and the time is right for us to do so. We may have grandiose goals, though that by no means indicates we intend to be wasteful, nor do I intend to dash away from my self-proclaimed tree-hugging-capitalist ideals.

The sub-project I find most intriguing in the Construction set is called “LifeTrac” – essentially a mini tractor built around the idea of interchangeability for a variety of work purposes. With a large garden and a variety of other Farmy-type-things in mind (plus boundless amount of snow here on the prairies), and the stupendously low cost to make a tractor verses buying one; it just makes sense!

My brain is already fast at work thinking of ways to program my mobile phone to be the pilot of the vehicle for various chores. And then there’s the ability to invent/create a never ending series of attachments for the tractor, like a snow-blower or a surface to air missle system… I jest, I jest.
Of course, you could let you imagination run wild, or make a tangible 1st step by donating to the project, like I just did :-). I made a $32 donation, though I would have loved to make the $10K one .

Make sure to let me know if you feel like building it with me in the summer of 2012, below in the comments!

Aug
25
2011

My Oldest takes up the Entrepreneurial torch

Lemonade Man Sam took up the charge today with his first business that made it past the idea stage today!

Sam selling Lemonade by the side of the road

Entrepreneur in Training


I coached Sam a little bit prior to his endeavor this past evening, and explained a few things about business. After we got home (a mere 30 minutes later) I asked him to write a quick summary of what he thought about his first business experience and what he learned. Here is what he wrote:

Making lemonaide was awesome! And doing the lenmon lemonaideADE stand was so fun!
What I learned is tax goes to the Ottawa, they have the tax government there I think, and doing the lemonade stand was super great for maling making money and it gives people a drink. First I thought the lemonaide stand was gonna be hard, but really it was not that hard making the stand.

After taking his wagon 3 blocks to where there was some traffic, setting up, selling like an old pro, and taking it down to come home (he had to since he was out of Lemonade), he was gone a grand total of 30 minutes. After his expenses (roughly $3) he still netted $12 in profit. I’ll admit, I was shocked and impressed! At one point he had 3 cars lined up waiting for their turn at Sams “Homemade” Lemonade (Being the overprotective father I was biking up and down the street so that he was within earshot and always visible).

I don’t know who benefited from this more?
Sam, so he can make enough money to get a headset for the Xbox (a console we only have 1 game for :-P).
Or was I the one to benefit from the sheer vicarious excitement of seeing my son succeed after applying a modicum of effort?

Regardless of who got the most out of today, it was a great day! Here’s looking forward to sunny skies tomorrow!

Jun
28
2011

The weight of the world on a shovel

Zaron and Dad moving some dirt
This past weekend I spent a lot of time in our front yard shoveling dirt, sand or rock for hours on end. There were not many moments where I was not thinking of the upcoming 9 months for me and my family. Noooo, we don’t have a baby on the way (at least not yet), what happens in a few short days is that I will only be working for 10 hours a week as a consultant on my primary client’s site. The rest of the time I will be working on my startup company.

This is a difficult transition for me as I have been employed as a consultant for more than 13 years without the faintest lull in work the entire time. I consider myself extremely fortunate for all the opportunity that has managed to lay itself in the path of my ambition through these years. Although the contracts I have received have been a result of hard work and determination, I still do not feel an overwhelming sense of comfort in placing the fate of my family in the unknown future of my own creation.

For the first time in my professional career I will have to think twice about going out for a round of golf or out for a drink with friends. The reason: money will actually be that tight. It is not for a lack of tangible work in the market place, rather, I have self-imposed these constraints to force me to become the entrepreneur I know I have the capacity to be. The process to get to this point has been eye opening! Until my wife started a budget for us 2 weeks ago I didn’t have a true sense of how much it actually cost to live. Now that I have that perspective, I can honestly say I’m a little irritated with myself for being so loose with the purse strings all these years.

By mid aftenoon of the first day of shoveling I was being allotted far too much time to think. With each shovel of sand I could feel the weight of my worries being transferred from the pile on my right to the pile on my left. With each heap of dirt I moved I could see the seemingly insurmountable barriers piling up ahead of me. And with each mound of rock I moved I could feel the weight of the world slowly creeping onto my shoulders. Nobody knew it other than me, but by the end of the day I was almost in full panic mode.

The next day I started in a bit of a slump. I knew I was going to work through the immediate task I had in front of me, but I also knew there would be far too much time to think, once again. I needed to do something constructive with that time “alone in my mind”. I started thinking of all the people who had accomplished great things in life. This helped to some degree, since many individuals who have aspired to great things had come from reasonably humble beginnings, though there seemed to be some component of their success that had to do with timing or leverage that eluded me.

For whatever reason I found myself stuck on the word “leverage” for hours on end. That single word played over and over in my mind for no apparent reason. I began thinking of all the ways leverage played a part in the success for so many (Bill Gates, Sergey and Larry, the other Larry [Ellison], Warren Buffet, etc) and of the different ways leverage presents itself… timing just happens to be another form of leverage. I soon found myself thinking of these all-knowing and all-powerful individuals as just people who had a long enough stick and a rock to put it on. The world seemed a whole lot smaller in that instant.

It is said that with a long enough stick you could move the earth. Now I’m thinking that as far as sticks go… a shovel seems to have been a pretty good start!

May
3
2011

easyPAY is not without its victims

My wife recently received a letter from Shell stating that they would be discontinuing the easyPAY program. I took it upon myself to write Shell a letter, letting them know that they were overlooking the obvious victims of such a decision… the children :-). Enjoy…


Dear Shell

My wife and I are displeased to read that you will be discontinuing the easyPAY program. Having the capacity to pay for our fuel purchases with nothing more than our keychain has become a border-line necessity for us.

As shown, by the attached picture, we create incredibly cute offspring. Without the easyPAY program available, having another child becomes less feasible in the event we must leave our vehicle in order to pay for gas. Of course, there is the option to use other card methods at the pump, though Saskatchewan winters diminish the dexterity required to insert the cards into the slots, making it near impossible to fumble your way into paying for your purchase. With pre-payment being required almost everywhere now, a gas-and-dash (out of necessity) becomes impossible.

This brings us back to having to haul our children into the store.

You may also note in the attached picture, our children have ginormous heads. Our youngest (only 7 months old in this picture) has a veritable plantetoid on his shoulders. Any additional trips to-and-from the vehicle increase the likelihood that gravity will finally prevail and that our child will plummet head first onto the concrete. Can you imagine the overwhelming guilt that a caring company, like Shell, would feel if such an unfortunate incident arose just because they took away a payment option like easyPAY? Think of the cascading turmoil that such an incident would wreak on the families of upper-middle management as they turn to the bottle to escape from the sheer weight of the decision they made to cancel easyPAY. Wide-sweeping corporate changes such as these are not without their victims. All I ask is that you think of the children before your next big decision in the board room.

Tongue and cheek aside, we will miss the convenience of using easyPAY.

Kind regards,


Aaron Jones
Serial Actionpreneur
blog: www.ajones.com/blog
twitter: @aaronjones

Feb
20
2011

Success! – all we have to do is medicate.

In my mind, there is an important difference between preparing for failure and having a backup plan.

-Preparing for failure indicates that you are putting a safety net in place to cushion the blow of failure.
-A backup plan, on the other hand, means that you have a secondary set of actions which you can take, should the first set of actions not prove successful.

The first has you focusing on loss, the second has you focusing on meeting with success. Having a backup plan reminds me of a quotable-quote from my childhood: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. Preparing for failure reminds me of another quote from the infamous Homer Simpson: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try”

The difference between these 2 trains of thought was brought to my attention recently.
My apprentice, Aaron Laferriere, was testing my patience. He appeared to be confusing “Thinking about doing something” with actually doing it. I felt that he was getting far too comfy and taking most things around him for granted. So, in true form, I decided it was time for a lesson. I set an absurdly low sales target for Aaron(A2) and stated that if he did not hit that target, he was not welcome in my home and that he could sleep at the shop.

The next day, I drove him to the shop. I brought along a sleeping bag to leave at the shop to serve as a reminder of his fate should he not move the bar a little bit and push himself to meet with a certain level of success. When we got to the shop I provided a quick little sermon, hoping to boost his spirits and get him revved up for the day. I mentioned that the sleeping bag was there as a reminder of the discomfort one feels when they come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions (or lack of actions in this case). “After all”, I said, “You don’t see me bringing a pillow down here for you”. A2’s response… a sheepish grin. I opened his backpack, only to find that he had put a pillow in it.

I was taken a-back as it appeared to me that he had beaten himself before he even got out of the gate. He had prepared for failure.

Of course, I took his pillow and left, though this situation has disturbed me greatly for the past 2 days.
Ultimately, his mindset did not disappoint. He spent the next 2 nights sleeping on the floor at the shop. In his time there, his discomfort triggered a couple of pretty good ideas. Unfortunately, those ideas are still rotting on the vine as the discomfort he was feeling did not translate into putting said ideas into action.

We are immersed in a “done-for-you” society. If there is a choice between reaching our goals and maintaining “comfort”, comfort appears to win out 9 times out of 10. The sickening thing is that the premise of comfort appears to be on a downward sliding scale. Today we are comfortable sleeping in a bed. Tomorrow, a pullout futon is fine. The next day, an old couch will do. The day after that, sleeping on the floor appears to be acceptable. Where is that magical line where “enough is enough!”?

In my life, I have recognized “chronic comfort disease” rearing its ugly head on many, many occasions. I know for a fact that it is an easy disease to diagnose. It is medicated with heavy doses of action, made effective by completion chasers. The persistence of this disease is discouraging as it sets in again as soon as you’ve downed the chaser. The wonderful news about the disease is that it is SO incredibly easy to medicate. Make no mistake, this disease is every bit as lethal as any other on the planet. It is more insidious than any other disease as it steals life from you while you are still breathing. You are completely aware of it’s presence but it numbs you to the fact that it is there. Most people are only truly aware of the disease’s full effect once on their death bed when they are struck by the thought “what did I do with my life?”

For A2’s sake, I hope that final question is answered with one last movie-of-the-mind… a movie so long that it plays far beyond his final breath.
Like A2, we all have the opportunity to do amazing things with our lives… all we have to do is medicate.

Dec
25
2010

Merry Christmas

It’s 3am and I just finished putting together the spin bike I got my wife for Christmas. I am reminded of that one commercial where the husband is sent to the dog house after getting his wife a vacuum as a Christmas gift. While in the dog house the husband finds other men who had been sent there for such indiscretions as giving their wife a thigh-master, or a gym membership…

Thankfully this gift was at the top of her list and not an idea of my own creation. Just to be sure, however, I made sure the kids got her something sparkly 😉

Merry Christmas!

Oct
4
2010

Sweet mother of God, that was a HOT Habanero

Anyone that knows me well knows that I love hot food.
Today, me and a pint-sized habanero had an altercation!
On a normal day, I would find a habanero hot, but not like this. It was like a pepper plant and a nuclear power facility mated and out came the hell-bound hot food not fit for man nor beast.

The heat of this pepper was masked by the temperature of the wrap that my loving wife had cooked for me. I was thinking that this was just a damn good and temperature-hot wrap, when in fact the contents of it were liquefying my internal organs. Once I realized that the heat was resulting from the toxic slurry I was shoveling into my mouth, it was already too late.

Of course, refusing to be a pansy, I had to finish the wrap.

The ensuing 10 minutes felt like I had just ran a marathon. Sweat was pouring from my forehead and my ears were ringing like an alarm bell had gone off inside my head. I quickly headed for my kids stash of freezies and feverishly consumed one after another. Just when I thought I had tamed the beast inside my mouth, it lashed back within seconds of finishing the damn thing. As I’m pounding back one freezy after another, I develop the hickups. Unfortunately fate had decided I wasn’t in enough pain. During one rather violent hiccup and a mouthful of frozen deliciousness, my body somehow spewed a freezy-habanero cocktail into my nasal cavity. It felt like someone had punched a hole in my face and poured battery acid directly into my sinuses. My nose starts to run and my eyes start to water immediately. I look like a beaten mule after a 10 day bender (because we all can imagine what that looks like).

While I’m wiping away the snot and involuntary tears, which are now pouring like a fountain out of my face, I feel a rumbling in my stomach and an immediate need to fart.
At this point, seeing that I’m only 20 minutes into the episode, I’m fairly certain there is no way a body can digest food that quickly. I come to the conclusion that the gods-wrath-acid sitting in my stomach actually just burnt it’s way through my organs, rather than paying attention to the suggested route. Not wanting to trust the fart, I decide to excuse myself to the lavatory. It turned out I could have trusted it… kind of. Until today, I had never farted and had searing hot air escape my body. You could have boiled a bathtub! Thank god I wasn’t in the bathtub or I’d be going to the hospital with 3rd degree burns over my entire body!

Needless to say, I will need to remain vigilant while this volcanic by-product makes it’s way through my system. With all the freezies I consumed simply to dull the pain, I suspect I’ll need a snow-cone for my ass in the hours to come (maybe having a sewing kit on hand wouldn’t be such a bad idea either).

Should I never write another blog post again, know that my obsession with hot foods got the better of me. On the up side, despite the seering pain, the wrap was really quite good!