I closed my twitter account …

Not that it was teeming with followers, but it is still an event that I have moved away from Twitter. I can still remember many years ago when Paul and Marcus (remember those two english guys singing and bantering about Web Standards…) mentioned that there was a new service that you could use to post text… just 140 characters like an SMS message. At that point, I wondered why anyone would do that being that there were CMSes that allowed anyone to publish short or/and long content. Along the way, I created a Twitter account and never tweeted anything, but syndicated content from a central account (used to be Google Plus).

My decision is not a referendum Twitter in a specific way, but a growing feeling that investing content on any platform that I do not control is unwise. I learned the hard way on seeing my 5+ years of Google+ content get taken offline when that network was summarily shut-down after a security breach. Also, I often see people worry and complain that Youtube may take them offline; so how about the WWW the way we old-timers had it before AOL had keywords, Twitter had handles, and Instagram had… I have never been on Instagram!

What Next?
I am currently doing an audit of all the accounts I have with other websites and summarily closing those that do not fit into my through-out Web Strategy.

Que cuarentena?

Estamos acostumbrados a la cuarentena… quizás – ya hace aproximadamente seis semanas.

For the sake of efficiency and assurance that I will not compromise the message as I try to convey it through my still fledgeling Spanish language. On that note, do not get me wrong, I am making great advances and can now communicate in multiple tenses. Fluidity and vocabulary and my main areas of growth. Watch me!

My intention is to share some ideas on what I am doing while during the self-isolation. I am rediscovering old activities, getting back to my roots, and learning new things and preparing to spring back once the market is open again. I am doing my regular job (arguably more productively than before), soul-searching on ways to improve every area of my life, learning Spanish (with manic focus), training myself to operate efficiently and with purpose, and looking back at the times when I could have traveled but did not. I am also appreciative for the travel that I managed and proud of myself for having a bias for action. The lockdown is useful in that it is teaching me to value the ability to travel to different places. Next time I have an opportunity, I will not lazily sit back at home and do nothing; but I will jump at the opportunity to even travel somewhere (regardless of the destination).

I will go deeper into specific activities that I am doing while on lock-down (as each will require its own page for proper coverage).

I am currently listening to the book Deep Work. It is opening my eyes to new perspectives to ideas that are not new to me. I find that this book is timely for me as I am beginning to evaluate how I spend my time. My goal is to eventually understand and optimize how I use my time, and optimize it so that I can do my work in less time and leave time for introspection and growth.

2020, oh boy! The Silver-lining

Every cloud has a silver lining… or so they say!
In many places, at least the places where I have lived and grown, there is excitement at the end of the year, and the beginning of another. Often, well wishers tell each other that they hope that the coming year will not be like the past one and will bring prosperity and better times. I also recall some comments at the beginning of 2020 and how it was here and real and very much unlike the science fiction dreams of flying cars and intergalactic travel. To these, my standard response is that we already have all those things, only that humans are not ready to use their personal robots – we are sophisticated primates anyway!

Upgrades are now mandatory

In the world of computers, things are often optional while they are in early stages, but it gets to a point where being on the old system has so many inefficiencies and bugs (inherent errors) that an upgrade becomes mandatory. This is where we may have gotten as a society. I will steer clear of the human toll that the current COVID-19 crisis is having on us and only focus on the silver-lining. I will also create a base for future hindsight that could see this apocalyptic experience differently.

We are all stuck at home, and the physical world as we have thus far known it has changed; and I contend that it is not going back to what it was a mere 2 months ago. Those who are waiting for business as usual will be surprised and left behind when new shoots sprout from the stump of that old tree. Those new shoots will bring new and more interesting things to life. One day (I hope and pray), we will look back to this fondly: as the moment when humanity brought its best game to the table. My perspective is that this is the great disruption that will mark our civilization and catapult us into a different kind of civilization. Like any crisis, it will clean out inefficiencies and make-normal some bleeding edge and fringe experiences (think of online anything, and virtual things).
I will briefly touch on some examples to illustrate this; with the plan to do a deeper dive on each in a dedicated article. Doctors and physical therapists are now seeing patients virtually. School-teachers are now instructing parents and students on how to learn and then monitoring them self-teach. If anyone had tried to make these changes to our civilization under different circumstances, it would have required several generations for minds and laws to change. But in 60 days, the insurance companies have allowed telemedicine, schools are online, and not to forget… all virtualizable jobs have continued to exist with little disruption.

Delta has got it right!

Talk to someone who is old enough to have lived with a pulse-dial phone, and he will tell you of when air-travel was an experience. People dressed-up and learned the right etiquette before they could fly. That has been changing for the worse in the last 2 decades. I recently got an email from Delta Airlines, and took a handful of their flights in the last three weeks.

I am impressed and happy to see that at least one company has realized that the rush to the bottom and nickel and diming is not sustainable. People with dignity prefer to pay once for something and not have to be charged for what has been basic. After-all, these people that are stuck in your aircraft for 5-10-15 hours are your guests! Personally, I prefer to pay a little more and get the entire experience.

Ce Paris qui vous fait si peur!

Eh bien, ce n’est pas vraiment une chose à dire, sauf pour ceux qui parlent bien français.
L’autre jour (en janvier), j’ai fait une petite visite à Paris. Cela n’a que duré une journée. J’avais promis à ma gosse que je l’emmènerais à Paris un jour – car je luis en ai tant parlé, et qu’elle apprend le français. On m’avait demandé (au boulot) d’enseigner deux classes en Espagne pendant la troisième semaine du mois. Etant de plus en plus partant pour tout sorte d’aventure, j’ai réservé le vol pour Barcelone avec une escale assez longue à Paris.

C’était fatigant de traverser l’Atlantique pour une deuxième fois (j’avais fait une première visite à Prague, et je vais vous parler de la troisième ailleurs) et ça l’était. Nous avons visité plusieurs endroits célèbres de Paris (ca se voit sur les photos ci-jointes).

You are what you eat…

For a good while, I considered synthetic chemicals to be the only thing to worry about in my food sources. So, I considered organic food to be better than all others. That is a fact, but there is something else that is sometimes forgotten, and it is as old as time.

Along with the ‘Organic’ rating (green or black USDA logo is the U.S – there is a distinction), you sometimes see claims and true statements that the animals that you will be eating (that are now dead) were treated well, they played with their friends, and reached self-actualization (I am trying to be funny). This could be dismissed as leftist over sensitivity, and in some situations it is. But even those who do not worry about hurting the animal or plant’s feelings (it is dead anyway, so why do the minor infractions matter anyway)?

Much as an animal that lives near a toxic waster dump will produce meat that is strong in that toxin, so does the natural chemicals produced repeatedly produced by that animal remain in its flesh and subsequently; the meat that we may eat when we slaughter that animal for food. So, a cow that does what God made it to do and enjoy (graze natural grass, run around the hills especially as an energetic calf, respond and satisfy the drives of its natural hormones, etc) will produce meat that is close to the general specification of what beef, mutton, chicken, or goat-meat should be.
On the other hand, an animal that lives in a stressful environment and is deprived of what it is genetically driven to do will generate an excess of reactionary chemicals and antibodies (flight, stress, etc). How different is this from the meat sourced from a farm near a chemical waste dump?

So next time you have to choose your food, read between the lines. Along with the hawk-eyed inspection in search of ingredients you cannot pronounce, also ask yourself if the mean may also have an overdose of naturally occurring compounds. The constraint bad mood, stress, and overall unpleasant life of your livestock will be passed on to you.

Religious and cultural practices often feature rules about food: What you should eat, and in what way animals should be handled and killed for food. Religious and cultural mores may be considered old relics by the ‘liberated’ crowd that only believes in what is scientifically proven (another religion). After all is said and done, the adrenaline and stress-hormones secreted into the bloodstream of a cow when slaughtered inhumanely will certainly be an unwanted ingredient in your expensive steak regardless of your dispensation.

Excuses and reasons are easy to come by

I cannot do X because of Y…
X could be the smallest task or goal, and Y could be any unrelated factor that is happening somewhere else in the milky way. In cases much closer to me, I have have seen people and also been part of the group of humans that find a reason or excuse for not doing things; even in situations where the reason is not a viable blocker.

I am focusing on this today because I just completed something that I previously imagined, planned, and choreographed on paper and in my mind without thinking that it would be practical: I had designed a situation where I could spend an open 5-day period (Friday 9am – Wednesday 6pm) to do something grand. In the past, and even when I had more support systems, like many others, I said that I could not expand my area of operation to cross borders and distance… here it goes:

  • I cannot take that job because I have children
  • I am too old and have real obligations; have a young employee without attachments do that task
  • I need to be home every weekend (even when those weekends are spent watching TV and cleaning yards)
  • [I will write more of these as they come to mind]

So, late last year, I decided that I do not want to be the guy who regrets for being ineffective. So I scheduled to conduct training sessions in Prague on the second week of January, and another set in Barcelona two weeks thereafter.

Last Friday, I caught a flight for Prague (I still cannot speak the language) and scheduled a very nice AirBnB so that I can live like a local. I arrived there on Saturday afternoon, did some food shopping at Tesco and stocked my kitchen. I related and got ready for the week (forcing jetlag). On Monday and Tuesday, I conducted training to a pleased audience that was asking to schedule future sessions for the future. Today (Wednesday) at 4am (GMT+1), Martin (yes, the same guy with a black Passat) came to my apartment and drove me to the airport. Between then and 12.35pm (GMT-5), I was in aircraft and at airports. I was able to keep track of my work as well as my upcoming home obligations.

I made it home having spent the 5 days far away and accomplished way more than I would previously have accomplished in 5 weeks. This made it clear to me that I can do even more than this, I just have to keep improving – that is why I love Kaizen

Našel jsem něco na vzdálených místech

Walking along this bridge and to a place that everyone had told me to visit (Charles Bridge), I drew some conclusions about why I thrive when I travel and why it feels so different.

Initially, I thought that I was justifying a hobby or a feel-good and expensive hobby or childhood wish to be in moving things (I do enjoy the landing of aircraft every time). But I think that I found out why; and you do not have to spend lots of money to find this thing, I get the same effect by taking cold showers.

Traveling outside my area of comfort and auto-pilot existence creates a healthy rush that requires all the capacities of the brain to be awakened as everything in a new place is new and useful. When I landed in Prague, I did not know (and still don’t) how to even say Hello. I was not staying at a Hotel or some template experience that is predictable. I was being picked from the airport by “Martin” in a black VW Passat; who would show up 3 minutes after I texted him. It now feels more adventurous than it did at the time. I got to my AirBnB, later left to find a supermarket to do food shopping, and then returned home to prepare and go dance some salsa for the evening. I did not even have any local currency (I thought they used Euros until 2 days prior to my arrival).

So being in such situations, the body must take-in, understand, and integrate everything it sees. Nothing is assured around the corner and you do not even know how to smile. This is like when the freezing 0-degree water hits your head and shoulders in the morning, you want to run but you master the reaction and focus on the mission. Once you are beyond the sensory shock, your body’s systems are open and ready for business. At such times, any thoughts you have are privileged to be using a clear and ready brain. For those who work with computers, it is just like shocking a server by asking for information that it does not have in the edge-cache, not in memory, and does not even have a database view or query-plan for. It has to fire-up all the systems to build and serve the information. Now, once that system is warmed-up end-to-end, anything you tasked it with in the immediate is sure to get processed with the best possible resources.

So, when I travel to new places, my heuristics are not applicable anywhere, and so I must have an open mind even just for my won survival. This is what Flo used to call ‘an exposed person’. Someone who has seen his/her paradigms challenged, or who has seen contradictory facts apply. Someone operating at a higher level of thinking and ability.