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One of two things is true: either you will experience chaos in life, or you are setting your sights drastically too low. With even medium-sized goals, you're going to occasionally run into a time where you've underestimated a project, or someone has slacked and pushed work onto your plate, or a great opportunity arose and you had to scramble to try to take advantage. If this happens to you constantly you're probably doing something wrong, but the same is true if it never happens.
What you'd really want in these cases is to be able to bank time. You save up money partially so that if your car breaks down you don't have to pay for it all out of your next paycheck. If only you could do the same with time, storing up spare minutes here and there for when things really get chaotic.
You actually can do that, though, it just doesn't happen at Wells Fargo. In fact, I'm doing it now.
I'm on a flight from Tokyo to Melbourne right now. Nine hours, and most people are using the time watching movies or playing games on their phone. And most of them are probably on vacation from work anyway, so it makes sense.
I did the math again. Fifteen minutes to get to the car rental place, five minutes to check out, five minutes to wait for the shuttle, fifteen minutes to get to the airport, five minutes to get through security, two minutes to run to my gate. That was forty-seven minutes to get to a plane that was leaving in forty-five. I'd already given up on the idea of filling up the gas at a reasonable price; I was about to miss my flight to Japan.
It was the first time I saw my friend Neil in five years or so, so I pushed the timeline a little bit. And then I wanted to test out his Tesla, so I pushed it even further. What I hadn't counted on was that there was much more traffic on the way back than the way there.
I'm the last person in the world to admit defeat and become helpless. I'm tenacious (or stubborn, depending on who you ask), so I am always hustling and trying to make something work up until the buzzer. When there's anything left to do before giving up, I'll do it.
But sometimes you just get stuck. There was nothing I could do to get to the airport faster. If the shuttle took ten minutes instead of five, I couldn't change that. I could talk my way to the front of the line in security, but if I get flagged by the TSA, it's out of my control.
I woke up yesterday morning prepared to grind away at Cruise Sheet all day. This is actually a great type of day for me-- I love non-workout days when I have the whole day to block off and make huge amounts of progress. I always start the same way, though: tea and email.
In my email I had an offer for two free tickets to Nicki Minaj in Las Vegas at the new T-Mobile arena. I was in San Francisco. I immediately reserved them and emailed friends to see if anyone wanted to come. My friend Lenore, whose go-to Karaoke song is Super Bass, snagged a cheap flight and agreed to go.
I still got a ton of work done on the plane, but my day ended much differently than I had expected when I woke up.
The night before I was having dinner with a bunch of my friends. We talked about music, and people got on my case because I said that I wasn't a huge fan of any female artists. I'm not a big Nicki Minaj fan, although I do like a bunch of her songs and collaborations. The point being that I didn't go to Vegas because I was a huge Nicki Minaj fan, I went because it was a spontaneous adventure.
The past dozen or so years of my life have been dedicated mostly to learning and growth. Not totally singlemindedly, of course; I've traveled around and done fun things and have also put out a respectable body of work, but most of my focus has been on improvement.
And I needed it. I learned social skills, productivity, programming, writing, and some parts of ten languages. I built strong social circles in several cities composed of people I love and respect, built home bases in Las Vegas and San Francisco, and immersed myself in many different cultures around the world.
Time well spent.
Last night I had the idle thought that I should learn Korean. I miss learning languages, and Korean is a pretty good one. Then I thought about how I plan on spending more time in Budapest and how I should learn Hungarian, even though it is, by all accounts, impossible.
I never published it, but I wrote a post a while back about how watching TV was my canary in the coalmine. If I wanted to watch TV, that was a surefire sign that I wasn't fully engaged in my work, and that I needed to take a look at what was causing that.
I've gone way overboard with my remodel of my bathroom in Las Vegas. The floor tiles were these horrible vinyl tiles that were peeling up and weren't even in a grid. If I have to redo the floor, I may as well get black marble tiles. And if I'm going to put tiles down, I may as well put in in-floor heating.
I haven't taken a shower in my own home in many months. The corner shower had a broken door and I wanted a tub, so I ripped it out and put in a tub. But then I had to redo the walls to make them waterproof. And wouldn't it be cool if one wall was teak wood instead of just tile?
And that's where my Tuesday went. I grouted the two tile walls, sawed boards, and began to attach them to the wall.
During a six hour layover in Honolulu, my friend Brian and I went to the Honolulu Museum of Art. The museum is really cool and worth a visit for just about anyone passing through the city. They have the standard sort of stuff, but I was most impressed with their Asian collection. In particular, the Japanese woodblock prints stood out.
Usually I skim over the woodblocks, but their collection was stunning. I went around the room looking at all of them several times before leaving. I took pictures so that I could figure out later who the artist was.
Later, just out of curiousity, I started researching what it would take to buy a Japanese woodblock by a good artist. It was strictly aspirational, not something I intended on buying in the near future.
But I was surprised. Legitimate Japanese woodblocks from the 1800s, when the Shogun was in charge, go for one or two hundred. The ones that captivated me in the museum were by a guy named Ogata Gekko and were printed in the early 1900s, and were even cheaper.
I can tell you one thing: I'm definitely not writing a blog post tomorrow.
Two years ago I agreed to be accountable to a friend for writing a blog post every single day for two years. If I failed to do it, I would have to pay $10,000. I could skip once per month and I could "buffer" one post by writing two on the first day.
I'm finally done. I never used a skip, but I used the buffer on two or three occasions. I was always terrified of using the skip because I thought that I might absolutely need it in the thirty days following its use. I'll use my first one tomorrow, as it's technically the last day of the challenge.
Overall the challenge was a very positive thing. The speed with which I can write a blog post has increased dramatically. A decent post can be written with few or no edits needed in about seven to ten minutes. My writing has certainly improved to some extent, although it's very hard to gauge that. I guess the best empirical evidence is that I've gotten very positive feedback on posts that I thought were a six or seven out of ten.
My friend Sebastian has a great way of asking simple questions that create good discussions. We were talking about someone getting offended at something and he asked the not-quite-rhetorical question: why do people get offended?
You and I, he said, never get offended.
Being offended seems to have become a national, if not international, pastime. Anything that happens is examined not for shreds of decency and positivity, but for something to be offended about. Statements are taken out of context, magnified, and imbued with extrinsic meaning.
And people love it. Sensationalist headlines allow them to hop onto the bandwagon and be offended, maybe even more offended than the writer of the headline was.
I've been really excited to work on Cruise Sheet recently. I've made some big strides and am now an actual cruise agency rather than a web site that creates affiliate links. It's still fairly similar, but now I can control the experience the whole way through and the increase in revenue makes it look more like a viable business.
So now I'm back in that "Love Work" mode where all I want to do is work. Last night two friends and I drove around picking up Uber passengers while I sang "Drop it Like It's Hot" on our Car-eoke system, but in the back of my head I was thinking about Cruise Sheet.
One of the things I've been doing is going through every single port and making sure I have the right name, region, GPS coordinates, abbreviated form, etc. Not the most exciting work, but I have a thing for neat and orderly data, so I enjoy it.
Except for the damn Galapagos Island stops. There are so many of them that every time another one popped up, I was annoyed that I had to enter it in. For a while I had a dozen or so of them sitting in the queue while I waited for normal ports to show up.
I remember waking up as a kid on Christmas, heavy with anticipation. Waking up early never came naturally to me, but usually I was up before seven in the morning. It wasn't just that good things were about to happen to me, it was that those good things were also surprises.
As I woke up this morning, I realized that now that I'm an adult, I feel the same way every day. Not necessarily because of physical goods, although I am pretty excited that my Japanese-style bidet is coming today, but because of opportunity.
Most people seem to hate email, and I can only assume that it's because of what working a real job does to one's email. I love email. Sometimes I don't get enough sleep because I wake up at eight, can't resist checking my email, and then can't go back to sleep.
I like email because it's the means by which opportunity often comes into my life. But it's really just a symbol. Maybe my favorite thing about life is that every day truly is a surprise, and through good decision making those suprises can be built upon.