Tag Archives: Self Improvement

Why I quit my Job and what’s next!

I was making good money with good people in the oil and Gas industry. Before that I was working with good people in the Hospitality industry.

I am lucky to have worked in so many great jobs and with great people. As I start the second half of my career I want to make a larger impact. for 20 years in hotels I helped a team and their thousands customers get more done in less time. Since then I have helped large and small companies automate sharing data saving time and making new partnerships possible. Although these have helped thousands of people save time and increase quality in specific tasks I want more.

I want to help millions of people accomplish billions of tasks more accurately in less time. I want to make the world a better place and decrease world suck. I don’t anticipate I will be able to do this immediately but I needed to be able to explore and look for pains to solve. I told my boss that I would like more flexibility and I thought he best way would be to go freelance.

I will begin by finding my way around freelancing and continue supporting my family by optimizing the work of people and groups I meet. Through these interactions I expect to find a common problem that I can solve. If you would like to make time or increase efficiency then let me know.

My first experiment to solve a bigger problem is reducing the gridlock in government and bickering in our lives by providing a framework to find agreement on complex topics. You can learn more at SettleIt.org.

Have you every taken the leap into the unknown when it wasn’t necessary?

Improved Standing Desk

About a year ago I tried to make a standing desk. I ended up having to take it down because I couldn’t comfortably and safely fit my knees under it. I did discover that I liked the idea of having a standing desk. This year I finally got around to version 2.

I took some old stone steps I had and put my desk on them. For when I do get tired standing I have an old adjustable chair that can go very high and is just the right height. The stone work gives a good manly DIY feel. When I took this picture I had not swept up the dirt from outside where the stones were stored. You can tell by the paint that my home office is more function over form.

It really encourages standing because when you come to the desk it’s actually an inconvenience to sit down. It’s easier to just walk up and begin working. Hopefully it won’t be too easy to walk away.

Here is a close up of the stones so you can more easily see that the desk is now 11 inches above the floor.

Standing              Desk Closeup


3 Reasons I stick with ‘Honey Do’ Lists

I really like when my wife gives me a list of things to do. I didn’t always like it, but now I do. For those of you that think this is preposterous, I present these 3 reasons why you should like honey do lists also.

 1 Clear Expectations

Men and women belong to different species and communications between them is still in its infancy. ~ Bill Cosby

There are many things to be confusing in a relationship or a marriage. Having a few areas where results and expectations are unambiguous can be building blocks of positive interactions that can be ease tensions later. When our relationship was new my wife had several things that she didn’t have time to do or thought I should do. I had other things that I saw and thought “now that’s something she obviously needs to do.” Since we both were focusing on the things we saw we couldn’t see what the other person was seeing. Frustration rose until it finally came to a head and we had a conversation about expectations. On both sides there were things we missed that were obvious. We also realized why some of the “obvious” things were hard for our partner to see. Shockingly we also found some of our expectations to be incorrect. We now try to discuss what we expect sooner instead of allowing emotions to build up which get in the way of communication. A list from my wife is a clear expectation or request. I don’t have to worry if I am seeing all the things she sees that need to get done. I don’t have to worry that I am not measuring up to an unknown ruler. For that I am thankful.

2 Opportunity for discussion

Now that I have a list I can see if those expectations are realistic. Is she taking advantage of me? Is she wanting to accomplish something that I think should wait for a better time? Now we can have a productive conversation around a list of activities and how they fit and benefit our lives.

3 Showing Love

How often do you really have the opportunity to do something for someone else that you really know will benefit them. I am often dense in social situations and slow on clues. I now have a weekly gift of knowing how I can express my love and can care for my wife.

First to the list wins

The next step is to make the list first. You can do this by  by looking for the tasks before she sees them. It’s important here to keep the communication open by discussing it before you do  lot of big stuff. She might want to be involved or have different priorities. Create the list and the show it to your partner and have the discussions. You can then divide the list a conquer or do things together. Don’t forget to be clear, discuss, and show the love.

How do you feel about honey do lists? How else you keep expectations clear in relationships?

The Standing Desk Experiment


Version 1

I am working on taking care of my body better. As a software developer (and nascent creative artist) I tend to sit a lot. One way to burn some calories is to stand while you work (or salsa in place if you like). To try it out I decided to make a standing desk in my home office. My first experiment was to just put a copy paper box under my laptop. That worked pretty well to just see if I was really going to do it. That didn’t last long because I eventually did get tired and has to sit down. It also didn’t have much extra room for things other than my laptop. I had to reach down to the desk. I apologize for the poor lighting in the photos. This is a quick, low budget experiment.


2011-06-09_14-50-13_114Version 2

Luckily I had a chair that could rise pretty high so I used a spare board of MDF and another copy paper box to make a desk the leaned over some so I could put my legs under it when I was sitting. I actually used this for some time and found myself standing most of the time. There were still some problems. When I was sitting my knees still hit the desk unless I sat way back. The monitor could not come any further as I had to mount the monitor arm on my window sill to get it high enough. I was also afraid that it would topple over at any time if I leaned on it too hard. As it turns out, untreated MDF can be itchy on the skin.

2011-06-09_14-56-46_940Standing Desk v3Version 3

I have solved the problems with version 3. I found an old but larger desktop. It was large enough that I could move the monitor arm mount from the window sill to the board which also added to stability. To add further stability I added two cement blocks. The cement also add a decidedly manly feel. I decided to leave the dirt from the yard on them for aesthetic purposes. There is now a significant overhang from the old desk so I can sit comfortable and ergonomically when I finally need to sit down.

Have you found ways to incorporate fitness into your life?

Finding Geek Balance

AntennaI was reading Scott Hanselman’s post “Paint Fence, Cut Wood, Pull Weed, Plant Tree – Finding Geek Balance Outside My Comfort Zone” and I would like to be one of the first of  many geeks to copy his post by listing my outside chores that I have been avoiding for years as a great personal improvement. I have a lawn service but it still doesn’t look good because I (and my son) don’t’ water it enough. My back yard still looks like a crater where the above ground pool was that I took out because I didn’t have the time to maintain it. It was fun taking it apart myself though. I did put in the hard wood floor in my living room (with my Dad’s supervision) when I bought the house about seven years back. I haven’t done much since.

I did just recently fix the antenna. With analog signals you can still see and hear what is going on when the wind blew and the signal was bad. With the new digital converters you first loose sound then the picture has artifacts then pauses without a resume. This happened whenever we had wind and once it happened during Heroes I had to muster up whatever handyman genes I had and fix it. At least it had to do with electricity. I couldn’t reach the top to see what the problem was so I had to take it down. Yes that is actually a picture of me on my roof. I had to use duck tape as the parts are no longer available. Now it’s grate and no problems with wind. We’ll see how long that lasts.I also crawled around the attic to lay cable wire so the TV in the workout room could use the antenna also. That’s still pretty geeky though.

CarAndTree At about the same time I fixed a problem with my car where the air conditioner condensation collected in the driver side floorboard. It’s a 2002 Mitsubishi eclipse and I had a mechanic look at it and he couldn’t sole it. It turns out that there is a warranty notice about this but my car is out of warranty. I had to take apart the middle console and the glove box to get access. I had to clean out the leaves from the drain pan and the blower motor. I couldn’t get the pan completely off so I had to MacGyver a smaller hose to my vacuum cleaner to suck then blow out all the leaves. I then went to the dealer to buy a specially made filter to put behind the glove box. There was a place a prebuilt place behind the glove box made for this filter. I assume there was an engineer argument about if the filter was needed. I can imagine one guy saying “Leave would never make it that far.” Unfortunately, he was wrong but fortunately another engineer had designed the filter placement. They started shipping it in the next years model.

Wood Just the next week as I was coming off my manly high part of the tree in my backyard fell down. You can see it in the back of the picture of my car. Half of it was dead because the people that put in the pool didn’t have it drain properly. The side with all the leaves fell down so so now it had to go. The base is about 18 inches so it’s a large tree. I estimate it was still 25’ tall. Instead of cutting it apart while it was still up we used a chainsaw to split it and pulled it down with a rope. It made a very satisfying crash. You can see my Dad’s van filled up with wood.

Did I grow from this? I feel more sure with solving problems in the real world and being handy around the house. My wife feels better cared for. It was goo to know that if I take something apart I can actually put it back together. I only have a few extra screws from my car. The real world is a little more permanent and mistakes will last longer but the same thought processes apply in the computer world.

Next I guess I need to landscape the front and back yards. I’m still not mowing though.