Theories on life

Working hard at Procrastination

Procrastination. It sounds such a positive activity. We all love Crastination! Crastination for all!

Verb; To crastinate:  to dither about doing anything other than what is required at that time.

Presumably someone who does everything smartly to time, besides being anally retentive and a colossal bore, should be guilty of anticrastination. As I am a definite Pro on the subject of crastination,  I should be a Grand Master Crastinator.

I don’t see anything wrong with procrastination. Lots of useful stuff gets done as a result. I just wish it didn’t take up so much time to put off doing the things that really should get done. There is a time and place for everything, as they say. However finding precisely when that time and place is for certain tasks is profoundly challenging for the Grand Master.

There are a few things I really want to spend time on. These are my noble and cerebral exploits. And given that these are exploits of my own choosing, one would think they would be easy to slot into my working day (now free of any real ‘work’). But no. Grand Master Crastinator that I am, I find attending to the small and mundane tasks to be infinitely more satisfying than the noble deeds to which I wish to assign my time.

I have three personal goals at this point in my life. That’s it. These are the only things I should be focused on right now. So how do I lose days, weeks and months to ‘other stuff’? How do my Time Bandits (© Terry Gilliam) manage to rob me of whole days and weeks?

We all have our Time Bandits. Laundry is so much more vital than revision; alphabetising the book shelf really must be done before the assignment which is due tomorrow. And so is true with my own goals. Even though these are challenges I set myself, things I truly want to accomplish, they are challenging. They are arduous and hard. And so I find myself whiling away the hours on useful, necessary, but not essential activities instead of applying myself to what I really should be doing.

Take writing. I want to write, I truly do. I want to create, and gain wider recognition for my work at some point. But finding the time – there’s the rub. Even with no work to hinder me, the hours and days run away and still no words appear. My latest diversion was to create a calendar so that I could plan out when to write. Yes, I spent time planning when I could have been writing!

Procrastination is the bane of life for so many of us. Why do today what could just as easily be done tomorrow? To quote despair.com:

Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

Not quite the same – I’m busy, just not doing the right things.

So how do we arrest these pesky Time Bandits? With a Plan, of course (just not as an excuse to actually working), but moreover with a rethinking of Priorities.  I like the tale of the rocks, gravel and sand. You may have read a similar tale:

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand – The Important Things in Life

A teacher took a large jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter. When the rocks reached the top he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The teacher then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The teacher took a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

He then emptied out the jar and refilled it in reverse order: Sand, pebbles, then rocks. This time, he could not fit all the rocks into the jar.

“What changed between these exercises?” he asked the students. He saw a sea of blank faces.

“The jar represents your life,” said the teacher. “These rocks? They are the most important things – your family, your friends, your health, your interests. The things most central to your being.”

He picked up a handful of sand and a handful of pebbles. “These,” he said, “represent the little things, the necessary but not important, the routine tasks. As we saw, if you fill the jar with sand and pebbles first, there is no room for the rocks.”

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, mow the lawn.

Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand and gravel.

With this parable in mind, my focus is now more firmly on my goals. So if you drive by my house and see the lawn overgrown, paint peeling and a gate swinging on its hinges you will know. I’ve finally got a handle on my rocks. Either that or the Cialis finally kicked in.

Change is Tough!

1280px-Neon_sign,_-CHANGE-

Change is positive, change is good. Change is what allows us to grow, to expand our horizons, to seek out new opportunities, to boldly go where he have not gone before (for all you Trekkies).  All true. Without change we would turn inwards, wither on the vine. And yet, every time we change we leave a little something behind. We turn our backs on a part of what made us who we are. You see, every change, no matter how desired, requires sacrifice.

Equally, every change, no matter how well planned and thought through, will never be implemented with the ease or simplicity it should. No matter how much we might crave the change we bring upon ourselves, it never seems to work out quite as effortlessly or as smoothly as we’d imagined. Did you ever notice that? Fitting new into old always seems to require more adjust than it ought, whatever the change we are bringing about.

Let’s start with the simple material changes. Try redecorating. Start that process and you are painting the Forth Bridge (Canadian readers – google here). Do the walls and the ceilings need doing; start with (more…)

Relationship Relativity

How is it possible for you to stay the same age yet everyone else ages?

You know what I’m talking about. You see a Pop Star on TV from your youth and they are suddenly OLD, or an old girl/boyfriend appears in your Facebook feed and you think – WOW, how did s/he get so OLD.

I have a theory here, and I think you will like this one. They appear to be old because they ARE older then you now. True. This comes right out of the mouth of Albert Einstein.

When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.

Albert Einstein

He said it better, but we’ve all seen the same thing – take ten minutes on the Internet and it seems like an hour to your partner who asked you to do something else. Try standing on a corner waiting for a ride – those two minutes stretch relative to the temperature outdoors.

Now, alongside this relativity of time that we can accept, Einstein also said that time is warped by gravitational pull. If you recall, Einstein said that speed of light is relative and that things travelling faster get shorter blah, blah, blah, and that distance and gravity affecting time – it’s all explained here as part of the science behind the movie Interstellar. If you didn’t click the link, you will just have to trust me that the stronger the gravitational field surrounding you, the slower time travels.

So how does all this link to relationships? Well, I think we can apply Einstein’s theory relative to relationships, and here’s how:

The stronger the physical bond between people (i.e. their gravitational pull on each other), the slower they will age, when compared to people who are in a weaker gravitational field relative to us.

Think about it – we are going about our daily lives when suddenly a celebrity from our youth appears on the news. BAM!! They are suddenly old! How can that be? They were one of the beautiful people in my youth – they are of my generation, yet here they are, old, and here I am, looking at my partner and seeing someone who hasn’t changed since the day we met.

adam-ant

Adam Ant, then and now

Relationship relativity, as I’m calling it, also affects the size of things. Do you recall the house in which you grew up, or your first school? Remember how big that place was? My childhood home was enormous in my memory. My bedroom was big enough for all my stuff, with plenty of room left over to play, yet today we need the whole house to contain our stuff and there’s still no room – yet go back and look at that old house – tiny!!

So, the good news in all of this is that, to the people closest to you, you are no older today than when you first met. And those beautiful people all get old much more quickly than you – especially that guy/girl who stole your heart back in High School. They got VERY OLD, VERY QUICKLY.

Time

Time – that strange truth of the physical universe. It is absolute – a second is a second, a year is a year. Unless you are flying close to the speed of sound out and back to the edge of the Universe, time has the same value wherever you are in the world. Except it doesn’t. Time is relative, and not in any Einsteinian way. It’s relative to the task being accomplished at any given moment. You know I’m right, but think about it for a moment:

You are having a leisurely evening with friends, doing your bit for the viticulture industry. In this situation, hours will fly by until it is suddenly 2am, there are a dozen empty bottles and you know there will be woodpeckers in the morning. In this scenario, the wings of time fly swiftly and the hours flit away like the seeds of a dandelion clock on a summer breeze.

Or alternatively, you are chained to your desk racing a deadline to complete a report / homework assignment / press release (insert your own nemesis here). The evil Gods of Time choose this moment to fast-forward the clock. When you started, you had 2 hours to complete what would normally be a 20 minute task. Now, just minutes later, you’re down to 20 minutes to complete what would normally be a three hour task.

Anyone who has woken in the wee small hours knows how minutes can drag into hours. You’re lying there, in the dark. The green digits show 03:48. You don’t want to get up, it’s cold out there, and you will disturb the dog and you will have to let him out to pee, and then he will think it’s morning and time to eat,then go for a walk, then …. You get the picture. And you can’t turn a light to read, because you will wake your significant other, and you do not want to wake your significant other. Oh No. So you lie there, staring at the ceiling. You lie there for what seems like an hour. You turn your head to check, and the clock flashes back at you: 03:57. And so it goes on. You toss and turn, you get too hot so you throw back the covers, then you are too cold. You go pee. You lie there some more, then glance again: 04:26. Finally, finally around 05:12 you fall asleep, only to be woken milliseconds later by the alarm blaring out at 06:00

And another – if you are waiting for someone and you are in a warm car, or indoors, time drags, sure, but nowhere near as slowly as if you are on a windy corner, maybe in the snow. Take off your gloves – the time will move even slower. But if you are the one they are waiting for, your time speed changes exponentially based on the situation in which your waitee is waiting.

Mrs Drew often ‘pops in for a few things’ when we are out in the car. “I’m just getting bread and milk – 5 minutes,” she says. And I am sure to her, she does go round the store quickly. And it takes her thirty minutes and four shopping bags to get bread and milk. My thirty minutes, without my glasses to allow me to browse inappropriate websites on my phone to while away the time, takes 2 hours. Hers, fighting the crowds, spotting exceptional offers, takes 10 minutes.

And so, all you Physics types with your laws of relativity and planet sized brains, figure that one. If time is absolute, why is it so elastic?

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And with that, I conclude my T posting. And I am almost back on track for the Challenge. I O U a U.

Maccie D’s

Pop Quiz: What happened this day in 1955?

Well yes, this is the day that Abraham Lincoln died from a mortal wound inflicted by a vampire he was hunting (what? Didn’t you see the film). Oh, okay then. He was killed by an assassin’s bullet, fired by the infamous John Wilkes Booth. I’m guessing this was also the day that someone slapped his palm to his head and said, “We need a Secret Service to protect the President, the most important man in the whole wide world” (and if you miss the irony, you need to go back and read King & Lion).

Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

But that’s not the monumental event to which I’m referring (Did you see that? I didn’t split my infinitive. That would be painful).

Anyone else?

Yes, you are right in that it was on this day a mere 82 years after Lincoln’s death and his groundbreaking strides with the Emancipation Act to end slavery that Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in baseball. The speed of progress is astounding, isn’t it? But as monumental an achievement as that was, that’s not the big news of the day.

Next? You there at the back?

Yes, this was indeed the day that the unthinkable happened and the unsinkable happened. And so this was the day that ultimately led to the unspeakable happening when we discovered that Celine Dion’s Heart Will Go On (and on, and on, and on). We were, however, treated to the delightful view of a young Kate Winslett reclining nude for Jack Dawson’s pencil (and the later scenes in the Rolls where he demonstrated that he did in fact have lead in said pencil). But no, that’s still not the most monumental event that occurred this day.

Kate Winslet Titanic 1080p-016

Do you need a clue?

There. Now you have it. The most iconic trademark in America. From personal experience I can tell you that a two year old can recognise the golden arches. I tell you, it’s fascinating to research the paranoia behind the Golden Arches. This blogger suggests that the arches are secret symbols of sodomy, with the arches representing male buttocks (why not female buttocks, I ask?). He (I’m assuming he, given the fixation on sodomy, but as we all have an asshole, maybe not), also finds reference to masonic ritual. I guess you can read anything into anything if that’s what you want to see. Someone else found it to be a gateway (watching too much Stargate if you ask me). I’ve seen reference to a nourishing pair of breasts too. Mother’s milk at McDonald’s. Hmmm…. And yet, as always, the truth is mundane. and too boring to waste time with here.

So the answer to the Pop Quiz is indeed that on this day way back in 1955, a mere 90 years after Abe’s final curtain and just 8 short years after Jackie pitched up for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Ray Kroc took the name and the idea for a fast food burger joint from the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, and opened the first ever McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. Within three years they’d sold 100 million burgers. One hundred million burgers. Had they sold a burger a day, their first burgers would have been sold to Neanderthals (and many would say, they still are today). With the advent of the fast food restaurant, Ray Kroc may well have launched an obesity crisis, but look what he did for the health care profession, creating countless new jobs to care for the chronically overweight. I always found it incredibly ironic, and a triumph of capitalism over common sense, that McDonalds is a major sponsor of the Olympics.

But you do have to give the scary clown some credit. McDonalds is the ultimate symbol of process excellence. Their product is the same worldwide. No matter what you think of it, a Big Mac is a Big Mac from Singapore to Shanghai, from San Fran to Seoul. Their commitment to conformance is unrivaled in any industry I’ve encountered, and is a model to many looking to provide consistent service standards to their customers.

So hats off to Mr Kroc, whether indeed your arches are a secret code for sodomy, an alien gateway, the strangest shaped breasts ever, or merely a play on the M, you gotta say, Da Da Da Da Da, I’m lovin’ it.

King & Lion

I’m not cheating. Much. This post is not about Lion King and I’m reversing the words just to get K and L in the right order, so we are good there. But yes, I am cheating by wrapping two posts into one but I’m allowed a little lee-way. Daily posting takes its toll, you know?

Anyhoo, the idea for today’s post was originally King, and the tie-in to the King of the Jungle seemed too good to pass up. BTW – did you ever wonder how Leo came to get the title ‘King of the Jungle’ when lions don;t actually live in jungles? They are animals of the savannah, the open grass lands across Africa. There is no jungle out there that I’m aware of.

Sorry – I digress, which is kinda the point of the blog in the first place. Digression, I mean and random wanderings. So back to King. Did you ever wonder how the King in Chess came to be the ultimate symbol of victory yet is the weakest, most ineffectual piece in the game? The King has to be protected by all the other pieces, including the sacrificial pawns. He hides behind the skirt-tails of the Queen who is the one who yields awesome power across the board. He will hide himself away in the Tower rather than face death in a noble way. He expects everyone else to sacrifice themselves so that he can stand tall as Victor, even if he is the only piece left standing. Reminds me of the Presidential roles around the world in many ways – figureheads who are protected at all costs, yet yield no real power. The true power brokers operate behind the scenes, manipulating the politicos as if they were glove puppets, and their manipulators have a hand shoved up their jacksies.

Same is kinda true for the Lion out there on the grasslands. He is seen as the powerful one, the symbol of the pride. Yet it is the lioness who does all the work. The Lion sleeps away the day whilst his lionesses are hard at work. The lioness is the true hero – she hunts, she protects, she bears the future leaders (ringing any bells, ladies?). So how did the Lion get to be the Big Cheese? Is there more to gender inequality than meets the eye, maybe? I don’t know. And maybe that’s the lid of a big old can-o-worms I shouldn’t pry off. Just seems like the females of the world got a raw deal whether human or not.

Floodgates Pandora's box Can of worms photo FloodgatesPandorasboxCanofworms.jpg

Just struck me, is all. In Chess, the most important piece on the board is also the weakest. They hold power only because their protection system is strong enough and they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Same goes for many natural environments – Leo being the most obvious one that came to mind.

Still, if we don’t like this status quo there’s always another. We could base our society on the Praying Mantis.

 

Fantasy

So here I am, sitting in my writer’s den looking out across a clear blue lake to the distant mountains. As I look out I can see my girls getting ready to take the seadoo out for a spin. They love bouncing around in the inflatable behind the boat. Louis, the gardener-cum-handyman is piloting today so they can both enjoy the thrill. They’ve really taken to water skiing too since we moved out here. Their education is taken care of with a private tutor. It’s amazing how much more they learn when they can actually see the places they are studying – ancient history isn’t so ancient when you can walk in the footsteps of emperors, and climate change actually means something as you walk across a glacier.

My wife is over at the farm outbuildings tending to the shelter animals (mostly cats, but life can’t all be perfect). She took up the reins when we could privately fund the shelter. Now she insists on visiting every home before a pet is placed, hence the reason the shelter is bulging at the seams already. It’s not as if they have a bad life here though, what with the 24 hour kennel staff and the living space fit for a queen.

When I’ve finished this little update I’m going to take the Aston Martin out for a spin.The mountain roads down to the beach are absolutely breathtaking, and the feeling of Mediterranean sun is so amazing. I’ve a lunch date down in Cannes –  a director wants to introduce me to his latest starlet, to tempt me to invest in his latest venture. Apparently I can get a walk-on part and a 10% return when the movie hits the box office, and every previous release was an absolute blockbuster.

Next week we are flying to New York for a Premier. we might head up to Boston whilst we are there. I have a standing invitation these days to Robert Kraft’s box at Gillette Stadium, ever since investing in his regeneration program. From there I fancy giving the girls a tour of the Grand Canyon to get some first hand geology lessons and invest in the native reserves out there. We will also go get our hands dirty on a Habitat for Humanity site to give a little back to society.

I never thought my numbers would come up, but every week I took the chance to dream about what might be if they did. The planning paid off, and ever since taking that $50 million cheque to the bank we’ve been changing lives wherever we can, and we still have plenty left over to keep the family in luxury for several generations.

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F – part of my AtoZ Challenge 2015 series.