I mentioned the other day that my “reorg” state for my office, basement, etc. was getting to me, and while taking a break to cleanse the palate, or making progress was good, they’re minor mitigations for a larger malaise.
I don’t want to oversell how bad things are, I’m doing okay, making progress. A major phase will be done by next Friday I think, another by the following Friday, and fingers crossed, all of it by the end of September. A true reason for celebrating Thanksgiving, so to speak. 🙂
But I was feeling like the basement had become a construction site, not an office where I work at my normal job.
Tonight, I decided to sort a bunch of stuff around, move some major pieces from A to B, and be ready for the end of Phase I and the start of Phase II (although the numbering is getting confusing to me, I don’ t know what my phases are anymore). In the end, it’s workable. I’ll take some photos to add to the long piece when I do my before / after post some time in early October.
It looks and feels functional. Andrea and I even sat on the couch tonight for a bit in the middle of another project just to relax and enjoy the quiet and slightly cooler basement. Without the A/C on, it’s mostly livable down here! I hope I feel that way when winter comes.
And it should help my brain manage the “renovation” / “reorganization” stress.
Today I choose to clean up my reorg space to make it more usable and less like a construction site. I’m also going to take Saturday and Sunday off from posting, a clean weekend break.
Gratitude entry #9…Today I am grateful for an impromptu organizing session. As you can see from my blog, I’ve been on a “goal” kick. My wife, by contrast, is more on a “get organized” kick as her main goal, with her targets ranging from desks to playrooms.
As mentioned too in my goals, this year’s big goal for us together is a kitchen renovation. We have a decent amount of cupboard space in our kitchen, good size, but the island shape sucks. It’s got a small bend in it to make it more open going into the playroom and to give a bit more room by the table, but it really screws up the kitchen area when you’re loading the dishwasher.
But this isn’t about that. This is about 22 shelves we have in our cupboards. Today, out of the blue, we reorganized the stuff on 18 of those shelves. It wasn’t planned, it just sort of mushroomed and we went crazy in the kitchen. We turfed a few things, rearranged just about everything. Well, not quite. The cereal stayed put (it’s the only shelf high enough and deep enough). Time will tell if we got it right, but I like the basics so far. A bunch of related things were kind of spread out before, and they’re all together (tea, coffee, a teapot, hot chocolate, etc.). Our pasta sauce is with the grains they go with. We ditched the “extra” rice bag we had up on another shelf, poured it in a smaller container, put it with the other rice and the rest of the grains and pasta.
We also decided that we have a past affinity for alcohol that isn’t really current, so we have a lot of small bottles of stuff we don’t drink. I think the cottage will inherit some of it. We’re not crazy, we kept some. But really, when am I going to use a daiquiri mix or a blue curacao? I don’t even know if I spelled those right! About the only lament I had was a really nice bottle of vodka that I once planned to consume.
That’s it for today — gratefulness for an impromptu organizing session that looks like it was highly effective. Onward in the journey…
So most of my goals are up on the blog now, with strong commitments across the board. I haven’t talked about two of them yet, nor the “ongoing” day to day stuff. And the other piece missing? Things I intend to cross off my bucket list this year. Let’s start putting the pieces together.
BLUE PRIORITIES (Intellectual, organizational, cerebral)
My two big goals on this for the year are astronomy and a kitchen renovation this summer. Both require some additional planning, but they are the big two for the year, and I’ve already blogged about them.
For my bucket list, I’m going to knock five blue items off the list:
Learn photography — I have a great DSLR, but I want to figure out how to use it better. Probably one of the Coursera or TheGreatCourses options, combined with some books that I have. I might sign up for a course next fall, if the schedule permits. I will probably start on this in March. I’m also going to produce special little cards, kind of like baseball cards, with key situations and settings as reminders.
Learn to knit — I don’t have any great illusions of ability or commitment for the future, I’d just like to make something. Probably a scarf or a tea cozy. Nothing extravagant, I’d just like to try it. Andrea’s a willing teacher, at least in theory. We’ll see if her willingness continues when she has a lousy student. I’m thinking maybe April for this one.
Learn to juggle — my hand/eye coordination sucks. But, most jugglers claim anyone can do it if they practice hard, and I bought a little “kit” a few years ago with some nice soft hack/sack like balls to practice with. There are also lots of videos on the net. I’m thinking I’ll commit to this as part of a creativity challenge one month when I’m tired of blogging on the computer all the time. Sounds like a good fall project.
Learn origami — I’ve had interest in this since Grade 6 when my teacher, Mr. Hutchison, did some basic origami. I’ve learned a few folds over the years, but I’d like to commit to learning one a week once I actually get started. I’m thinking probably in May and then continue throughout the year.
Experience a meteor shower — I might settle for the regular one in August, or set up for a special one another month. Nothing extravagant, and to be honest, it might not even be the best year to do it. But worth a shot.
Under my ongoing day to day stuff, there are still items that will take work and planning, just didn’t make my big list. Obviously, I’ve taken a different approach to my 2015 goals this year in order to roll up to the PolyWogg 4.0 / Commit to the Quest brand. I’m going to continue that with a new logo design, flow chart, and incorporation into a shirt layout for myself at one of those “print here” places. I also need to set up a special type of tracker to let me implement the Seinfeld Method and keep a running total on some of my commitments.
For my mother’s estate, I mentioned I’m going to do the photo scanning, 10 photos a day. Hoping to start by the end of the month. I’d love to have these all done by the end of the year, along with sorting out all my e-files for photos going back to 2002. That also includes learning some new software and creating some photobooks.
A huge portion of my free time involves electronic tools, and I need to continue my improved organization for it. Some of it is wiring, some of it is backups, some of it is copying CDs onto the hard drive.
I have a long list of little projects around the house, and I think I’m going to give them to Andrea as a “Honey Do” list to manage for me — she can choose which ones get done next. We do this anyway now with a joint list each weekend of errands/projects to do, but many of the non-urgent ones never make the list.
I also want to get my passport renewed, and do a comparison of costs between the two major grocery stores I shop at to see how much of a premium I’m paying for convenience when I use the one.
Finally, for the blue category at least, I need to figure out my learning plan for the year. Yesterday, I posted a list of courses for TheGreatCourses and Coursera that I’m interested in, and my approach. But of course, I didn’t actually commit to the courses — there are 125 with Coursera and another 170 with TheGreatCourses. My feeling is that I can probably do one every other month, so six for the year. Time to ante up and commit to the quest. One, two, three, weed the list!
Two courses are carry-overs, and I’m not counting them in the “six” as I can finish these ones pretty quick:
Of the others, I think I want one that is tied to psychology. Coursera has an Introduction to Psychology (University of Toronto) and I’ll go with that. Future options might be “Positive Psychology”, but that is more about self-actualization techniques.
I also want one on music. There is a Coursera course called “Introduction to Classical Music” from Yale that looks great, give me a better foundation than just randomly picking Beethoven symphonies. Plus I’m a bit more eclectic in my tastes, with some of the most obvious choices of little interest to me. Mind you, there is also a Coursera course that would aid my Billboard writing called History of Rock, Part One which is part of the University of Rochester. But it is the fact that both of them are “obvious” choices that have led me to ignore them in front of a TGC course — Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion.
I’m going to play it a little safer for my third choice, something astronomy related. Coursera has an interesting course called AstroTech: The Science and Technology behind Astronomical Discovery from the University of Edinburgh but it’s not active at the moment. If it doesn’t show up this year, I’ll opt for one of the TGC courses, either Skywatching: Seeing and Understanding Cosmic Wonders or the more traditional Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, 2nd Edition.
My fourth course is going to be hard-core. Yep, coding. TGC has nothing in this area, it’s all about the internet courses in general or the Coursera ones, and I’m going to opt for Coursera. I’d like to take Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems: Part 1 at the University of Maryland, but it assumes you already know Java which I inconveniently don’t. There’s a simpler version at University of Edinburgh called Code Yourself! An Intro to Programming, and it would probably be a really good idea to start with that one just to refresh my brain since my last programming experience from umm, 1989 and 1992 (!) didn’t use object libraries to combine existing code modules. But screw it, I am on a quest! I don’t have time for namby-pamby basics! I’m going for the University of Illinois’ Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps.
I’m going to pass on the photography courses and the Greek mythology courses, I have books on those that I’m going to read this year already. Governance and non-profits look great, as does one on giving and charities. There are several good options for ones about religion, cultural literacy, and soul beliefs.
But I really need a refresher on microeconomics to help with some work I want to do on ebook pricing, and there is a simple Coursera course called The Power of Microeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World from the University of California at Irvine. They don’t have any sessions open right now, but I’ve added it to my watchlist. If by the time I get to it, nothing is still available, I’ll opt for one of the other micro-economic ones.
Last, I’m going to take a flyer on something. Coursera has a course from the State University of NY on Meta-literacy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World, which is about digital citizenry. I have an idea for a big project in November this year, and this will help lay the foundation early. In fact, it is up first in the rotation, starting in early February. I guess I should get those other two done before then!
That’s it, that’s all for the blue…On to the green!
On my eight-dimensional “wheel”, Intellect was broken into two segments — one for organization and one for learning. While “organization” may not be my highest priority within the wheel, it seemed like a good place to start. As part of my “org” segment, I included four elements from earlier lists:
Being organized— this includes things like maintaining my todo list, updating my goals annually, reviewing progress regularly etc. … in short, doing what I’m doing with this blog entry;
House — this used to be merged with the “family” segment under relationships, but it isn’t really about relationships, it is more about having things in decent maintenance mode within the home, whether it be the house itself or the yard, and that strikes me now as more about being organized than anything else;
Finances — Andrea and I have good jobs with decent incomes, but we haven’t been doing a whole lot in recent years in terms of planning, strategic budgeting, etc., but we’ve been wanting to do it for some time; and,
Computers — outside of the “creativity” mode, where I use my computer for a lot of things, there is an infrastructure in behind that really isn’t about creativity at all, it is just plain “getting my crap together” literally and figuratively.
Moving into planning for 2011 isn’t without some momentum from previous years:
Started my new tracking system in 2005, with improvements in 2007 and 2009;
Bought a house (2007);
Replaced roof (2009) and walkways (2010);
Installed clothesline for Andrea (2010);
Set up the baby’s room (2009);
Established RESP for Jacob (2010);
Consolidated shared finance options (2006-2010);
Made RRSP contributions (2005-2010);
Set up photos website (2006);
Bought a netbook for writing (2008); and,
Tested a server option with Linux (2008), some CMS options for the website (2007-2009).
Those aren’t the only accomplishments, but rather a glimpse of some highlights for the category. And, through prior planning exercises, I added five things in this category to my bucket list:
Own a house— Purchased (2007);
Finish my website — I’ve recently completed my web design, and although I have lots of features still planned to be added, it is essentially complete (2011);
Make a garden — I don’t know why this one appeals to me exactly…I’m interested in the idea of growing something, growing food for our table. Oddly enough, I’ve never had the opportunity to actually do that before. Sure, I’ve picked stuff for the table, but not planted, watered, nurtured, nibbled. Even a planter with some veggies would suffice, doesn’t have to be huge.
Design a house — This is not to be confused with building a house…I don’t want to build it, I just want to play with the parameters of designing one. I have some basic software that will do it, but heck, I’d be happy to do a real design even if the model is just made out of legos;
Have a cottage — I can’t decide if this one should stay on the bucket list or not. With all the other things that Andrea and I put on our financial plan recently, the odds of owning a cottage are pretty slim. Growing up, my parents had a trailer out at Chemong Lake, and most of my family got to experience the enjoyment of it as kids, separation from it as young adults, and then the return to enjoy it with their families. But, for me, the lake was long gone before I got to “return” to it. No fishing in the aluminum boat, putting worms on harnesses and trolling for pickerel. No snowmobiling in the winter. No skiing up through the woods or on the lake. No shovelling the lake to make a rink. No swimming across the bay with rafts and dinghies. And it isn’t about the activities, not really. It is more that it was “our space”. A home away from home, somewhere to get away and relax. No telephone, no worries about what is happening in the city. No friends that you have to visit that weekend. And, now that I have a son, I realize that I really wanted to share that type of experience with him because it is a core part of my upbringing, a core part of who I am and why I regularly choose informal over formal. A little bit of “hick” in my “slick”, to paraphrase a friend. Something that keeps me from feeling like a complete nerd most of the time, tied to his computer. Without the cottage, I’ll have to work harder to create those times and experiences for Jacob, both the activities themselves and the natural feeling of the informal atmosphere. Because I really want him to have them.
But what do I focus on in 2011? It is unlikely that I’ll make a garden, design the house, or own a cottage this year. Fortunately, I have a LONG list of other items that I’m tracking in this category.
First and foremost is organizing myself around the new eight-dimensional visual.
On the “house” front, I really need to figure out a new office option for me. Awhile back, Andrea and I merged our offices in the house, and while it was good for conserving space, it isn’t really functional for me. I like being on the first floor, but I just plain need more space for my stuff around the computer. Which means I’m back to figuring out a revised office solution for the basement (new desk, organizing filing, sorting books, storing supplies, and weeding out some computer components). This also will hopefully lead nicely into a re-org of our storage areas, gearing up to shed some stuff from our lives by the fall (some to Peterborough, some for a garage sale).
Some interior work needs to be done on the house if we decide to stay in it longer-term. For example, we hate our front hall closet. We’ll likely tweak it rather than replace it entirely, but make it more functional and accessible. We have had a longstanding “to do” item to have our ducts cleaned, and we’ll make that happen this year, plus deal with a humidifier attachment. Finally, our kitchen island is a bit less stable than we would like it, particularly as Jacob gets taller and more active. It would just be safer if it was fixed.
We also have some exterior work to take care of this year. Some are simple like the assembly of a porch swing we got as a wedding gift (sigh, really, we want to use it) or setting up a basketball hoop that we bought on sale about the same time. Other items are a bit more complicated — probably resurfacing garage and driveway.
On the financial front, things are starting to come together … no, we didn’t win the lottery, but we are seeing a financial planner and getting some of our financial shhhhhhhtufff together in a decent plan for retirement. It isn’t a straightjacket, but it isn’t as uncoordinated as what we have been doing. And we’ll feel a lot more confident once some other pieces fall into place in the next couple of months.
Now that my design is basically complete, it is time to start populating the website — photos, book reviews, movie reviews and a couple of past writing samples are at the top of my list for 2011.
Let’s see how much gets done this year! After I set goals for the other seven categories…stay tuned!