Tag Archives: time

Time, Part III

I’ve been going on walks.

Mostly in the evening or late at night, when it’s not 30 degrees outside, and walking outside isn’t liable to result in death from heat stroke, but I’ve been going on walks. Crazy, I know.

Why? I’m not entirely sure, but I think the answer is complicated.

It all started when I was arriving home late at night. I might have been coming back from trivia, or maybe I had stayed back at work for some reason. I stepped into the lift, joining a guy who lives on the same floor as me. Just as the doors were about to close, another guy I had seen walking along the street 30 seconds earlier also jumped in. From the way his hair was dishevelled and how he was drenched in sweat, I suspected he had been running — a suspicion that was soon confirmed after he told the other guy that he had just run seven kilometres.

I thought to myself: if this otherwise normal-looking guy can do it, why can’t I? Not that there was anything wrong with the guy, but for some reason, that’s where my mind went. It said that if this guy can do it, I’m probably capable of doing the same. Not running – every time I pass a runner on a bike path on my electric skateboard, I remind myself that running isn’t my thing, at least not while walks exist as the next-most attractive alternative — but walks? I can do walks.

So, spurred on by a piece I read recently that said walking is a superpower that leads to better health, more happiness, and might even make me smarter, I’ve been going on walks.

I’m sure it has something to do with my Apple Watch, too. I’ve seen so many other people post their activity streaks, and here I am, having only achieved a perfect week of all activity goals just the other week. I’ve owned an Apple Watch for over four years, and yet I’ve only managed to have a perfect week of hitting all my activity goals just once, and it happened just last month. That’s terrible, by any definition of the word.

I’m not naive enough to think that somehow closing my Apple Watch rings every day will suddenly make me incredibly buff, but what’s the downside here? It can’t hurt, right? It’s the ol’ climate change argument, only instead of asking what happens if we change the world for the better for no reason, I’m asking myself why I can’t get a little more exercise every day, especially if it only costs me a little time that I was probably just going to waste sitting in front of a computer on the internet anyway.

My parents have been telling me to exercise for years, so all of this should be a plus, as far as they’re concerned. They tell me all the time that because I have a desk job, I need to be getting some sort of exercise, so going for a walk is really the easiest, least-effort thing I can do. It’s the lowest-hanging fruit, in terms of fitting some regular exercise into every day goes.

While all of those are great, excellent reasons to go walking, I think the real reason is even more selfish. If that’s possible.

It’s time. Or a time thing, anyway.

When I lived in Hobart, work was a 90 minute round trip away. That meant I had 90 minutes, every day I worked, all to myself. A lot of the time I’d put my in-ear headphones in, cue up whatever playlist I felt like listening to at the time, and tune out the world. I’d stare out the window of the bus and let my mind wander. Other times, I’d read something from my Instapaper queue, or go over whatever blog post draft I was working on at the time, re-reading it, and maybe even adding a sentence here or there.

But now? Now I don’t get that kind of alone time any more, at least not in the same way that I did before.

Now, work is an all-too-short 10 minute commute away. That’s hardly enough time to catch up on Twitter in the morning, much less think about anything deep and meaningful. And now that I ride an electric skateboard to work, I’m usually thinking about how not to get run over, more than I am about how I should have said something different than what I did (or said something at all, as is often the case).

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Twenty Five

377160_2016-01-26_00004

Sometimes, when people ask me how old I am, I get a little confused. Especially when they combine it with questions like “so is that 23 turning 24, or 24 turning 25?” I don’t tend to think about how old I am all the time, so either I answer too quickly and get it wrong, or I think about it for longer than one might consider “normal”, get laughed at, and still get it wrong anyway.

It didn’t used to be this way, but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed it happening more and more. I’ve filled out enough online forms to know what my birth date is, so I should at least be able to calculate how old I am, but for some reason, deriving an answer to “how old are you” doesn’t come easily. Maybe I’m just over-thinking things, and I should add “I am 25 years old” to the list of things that I just know, like my (rough) height and weight. Maybe this is just what getting old is like.

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on writing a birthday post this year. Or last year, for that matter. I had plenty of age and maturity-related thoughts when I was writing a birthday post from a few years ago, but when the time came to write about something last year, or something this year, none of the topics I had swirling around in my head wanted to coalesce into something of substance. No matter how long the bus or train ride was, nothing seemed pertinent enough to write about as the main topic of yet another birthday post.

Which is weird, because last year, more than any other, has been a pretty big year. Almost too big to write about, really, given that I accepted my first full-time job, which meant moving out of home and deciding what personal possessions I’d be bringing to another city in another state (computers, electronics, then everything else, in that order).

I made a trip to the US to watch The International, the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world, as well as check out some west coast cities.

And so far, it’s been the first Christmas I’ve spent without any immediate family, the first New Year, and probably my first birthday. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but it certainly feels that way. Not that I mind about any of that. It was all going to happen eventually, and I’m glad it happened in at least somewhat positive circumstances.

If you’ve read any of my tweets from this year, you’ll know that growing up is, for the most part, pretty awful. No one’s talking about the freedom you get when you live alone, away from your immediately family, but when you work full time, people kind of know what you’re doing most of the time.

What they’re not telling you about is how awful it is having to do all of the washing up. Or needing to eat, but not wanting to do the washing up, and lacking the disposable incoming to eat out or get takeaway more than a few nights a week. Or how house inspections only happen four times per year, but even that feels too often. Or how having getting paid every fortnight feels great, at least until the bills and rent come in, at which point all your hard-earned leaves your bank account. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and a lot of the time, it feels as though I’m living to work, instead of working to live.

People ask me if I’d go back to uni to study, and I usually answer that while the actual study part was pretty awful, the lifestyle was pretty great. Not having to wake up early to go to work, not having to spend the entire day at uni, and occasionally being able to have entire days to myself. Now that I work full time, the only time that I really get is from evenings and weekends.

What it comes down to is a lack of time. If I’m playing video games every evening, then I’m not cooking, or doing the washing up. If I’m on call on the weekend, then I have to squeeze in buying groceries into my “lunch break”, or go shopping after work during the week. Every time I decide to clean my tiny unit, do some ironing for the week, or whatever else needs doing that I didn’t get around to doing last week is another time I’m not playing games on the internet with friends, and as the old adage goes, all work and no play makes Benny a dull boy.

Of course, the solution here might seem pretty simple: give up video games. But games have been such a huge part of my life that giving up video games would be like giving up a part of myself, like trading in my childhood for a shot at adulthood.

And that’s kind of what this is all about. My friends have been moving out, getting married, and settling down for years now. Some times I wish I experienced those things earlier, but I’m happy enough with how things have turned out so far.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the work that I’m doing. But there are times I wish it took up less of my time than it currently does. Some of the time, I wonder what it’d be like to be mostly-unemployed and have heaps of time, or what it would be like to have no time and be earning an amount to make it not matter. Perhaps there’s not much difference between the two, after all, but I guess that’s why they call it life.

Here’s to another year, whatever craziness it may bring.

Stories from the road: I’m (getting) old

Alternate title: Time, Part II

The last time I was with my cousins was a few years back. It was a simpler time then, when we’d stay up later than everyone else, because we were the oldest, and because we could. A few times before that, I’d sleep over at my cousin’s house, where we’d play Commander Keen or Rollercoaster Tycoon until the early hours of the morning. And as soon as we woke up, it was straight back to trading Pokémon in Gold and Silver. Did I mention it might have been a little while ago? Yeah, it was a little while ago.

This time around, there’s been a lot less tomfoolery and a lot more rest and relaxation. We’re all quite a bit older now, and that has meant cousins are working during the day, or studying all the way up until the Chinese New Year holiday. One cousin is a practicing dentist, another is studying to be a doctor, and another is doing law at Uni. Of all the cousins around my age, all of them are doing Uni or already out in the workforce, either in Australia or abroad.

There’s nothing quite like a family reunion to remind you of how old you actually are.

When my cousins and I were younger — in our late teens, or thereabouts — we took a lot of things for granted, as you tend to do when you’re that age. We lived vicariously, in the here and the now, as the future was always a few more years away. It meant we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to do it. Being in our late teens was pretty great, actually — as we were the eldest cousins, we were given a little freedom (unlike our early/pre-teen siblings), whilst still having very little responsibility, especially around Chinese New Year when all the adults, i.e. our parents, would do all the work. All we needed to do was watch cartoons, sleep in until midday, have random naps throughout the day, that kind of thing. Yeah, that was the good life.

But I was watching an episode of Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel when I realised that those glory days were more or less over. Now that we’re older, all of us have suddenly grown up as we’ve all started to think abut our own lives and the future we want, whether that involves education and a career, or perhaps even marriage and kids. Now, it’s our younger siblings’ turn to revel in their youth, despite the fact that many of them are on the verge of becoming adults themselves.

It’s the classic coming of age story. Boy enjoys his youth. Boy realises, somewhat too late, that his youth has now passed. Boy becomes an adult, whether he likes it or not.

It’s not just with my cousins, either, who I only see every few years; I’ve seen the same transition into adulthood happen with my friends, too.

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Funemployment

http://thedoghousediaries.com/5468

Comic via Doghouse Diaries.

The fashionable thing to do after you graduate, I’m told, is to get a job and start paying off your HECS fees. Either that, or go back for more education, either in the form of an Honours/Masters degree or a PhD in the field of your choice.

But apparently I must have missed that particular memo (or more likely, fallen asleep during that particular lecture), because thus far, I’m still as unemployed as I was when I started my degree.

Part of the problem lies in the fact I’m still very unsure about what kind of job I want, and is compounded by the fact that a Computing degree doesn’t necessarily mean I should get a degree doing something with computers, although in this day and age that’s more or less inevitable. I’m fairly sure I don’t want a full-time “programming” job, as I’ve never really liked programming. I’m not really interested in graphic design, 3D modelling, or web development, even though a large part of my degree was doing web stuff.

I remember when I was getting close to graduation the first or second time, and a colleague was asking me about what kind of job I was going to end up with after I graduated. I replied with not a little melancholy that I’d probably end up doing websites for clients, which would lead to my eventual suicide due to how depressing that life would be. I don’t really know what it is, by web development has never really appealed to me. I can get by hacking my own WordPress theme and fiddling with the occasional bit of PHP, but building websites for others is an unimaginable level of hell.

It should have been the precursor to my post on time a month or so ago, but I didn’t get around to writing a thing on the kind of job I want. Like the vast majority of people, I could probably just get some 9-5 job doing some horrible drudgery, only to come home and have a few hours to myself before going back for more the following day, but that’s no way to live. A better alternative would be to find something I find interesting, something stimulating, something that won’t leave me wanting to kill myself when 5:30 rolls around. The reality is, I probably wouldn’t mind a typical 9-5 job, it would just have to be something I enjoyed doing. Which is kind of why my current situation works pretty well, which leads on nicely to the next part.

The eagle-eyed among you would have noted my use of the word colleague earlier, a strange term to use when one is unemployed. But maybe for my particular situation, unemployed isn’t exactly the right term. I have and have had a job since 2007, just one that isn’t full time. I mostly work on the weekend, with a few days during the week here and there. The current arrangement I have works pretty well, actually. I get plenty of time to myself to do whatever I want — sleep until noon, get up, play some DotA 2, eat, play some more DotA — and because my daily expenses are pretty low, I can even save a little money on the side.

Did I tell you about that time I applied for money from the government to assist my Uni studies, but because I had been at Uni for too long, they wanted me to start proving I was looking for work? And that entailed a mandatory visit to an employment agency to help me get started, which felt really wrong? Not because looking for work is something I detest, but because that visit to the employment agency felt like I was using resources would could have been better used helping the less able and less fortunate to find work. My Centerlink payments stopped soon after that, because I felt like there were people that were more deserving of the government’s assistance than I. No, this isn’t some kind of high-horse that I’m sitting on, just a recognition of the fact that as far things go, I’m pretty lucky. And besides, I found my current job on my own when I was still in high school, so I didn’t really need the help of an employment agency to find work1.

And what about that time I was almost suckered into a pyramid scheme? Now that’s a truly enthralling tale for another time.

With very little idea of what kind of job I want, you could say the job hunt is proceeding as expected.

That’s not to say I haven’t been looking for a suitable full-time job. There was even a job I applied for, way back in July. Unlike other jobs, I kind of wanted this one: I thought I was a pretty strong candidate as it suited my previous experience to a T, the pay was great, and it would have meant moving out of my parents’ house and becoming independent. But even though I thought I was a pretty good candidate, HR apparently didn’t think so. My interpretation of the feedback I received essentially boiled down to “HR is more concerned with protecting themselves and their managers than finding the best candidate for the job” — that may be reading between the lines slightly, but that one job application made me so angry about the entire process that I haven’t bothered looking for or applying for anything else since.

Perhaps I wanted that job more than I let myself think I did, but either way, I’m enjoying being semi-unemployed. The right job will come along eventually, and until then, there’s plenty of other heroes to get good at in DotA.


  1. Not to mention, their offices had a really off-putting vibe to them, too. Not like creepy or anything, but I was a little weirded out by how they measured their job performance as the number of people they had gotten employed. That’s important, for sure, but how does job happiness factor into the grand scheme of things? It made me wonder about whether they actually cared about getting people in jobs or whether they just worried about lumping sacks of flesh with other sacks of flesh. 

Time

time

A little while ago, the insane Randall Munroe completed perhaps the biggest project on XKCD yet: Time, comic number 1190.

The XKCD blog post tells the entire story: 3,099 panels, drawn over a period from March to August. An epic project by any standard, and yet, not altogether unexpected from the inanity of Mr Munroe.

I’ve been working a lot over the past few weeks, and as much as fun as six days a week sounds (for my bank balance, maybe), I’ve come to the realisation that it leaves very little time for extra-curricular activities, the stuff that I want to do.

Yes, I’m talking about games.

When you work full time, there’s very little time for anything else. A normal work day involves getting up at 6:30 AM, writing and publishing the news, and by 8:30, I’m ready to go to work. I don’t get home until after 6 PM, at which point it’s time to get something to eat and start thinking about what I’m going to do with my evening. But I’ve barely started when, oops, it’s 10 PM, and now I have to go to bed so I can get enough sleep to function as a person (as opposed to a zombie) the next day.

I usually finish eating by around 7, which gives me three hours, give or take, to do everything I didn’t get to do during the day. I usually check a few websites, read some forums, go through my email, and trawl through some RSS feeds. You’ll note I don’t even consider things like gaming, writing, movie-watching, or anything like that. I usually watch an episode of something when I’m eating, but that’s about it.

I can sometimes get away with a few extra hours by putting off my bedtime until midnight, but missing out on sleep more than a few times a week puts a negative spin on things, and usually just results in falling asleep on the bus to and from work. Work is tiring enough without me also feeling tired from a lack of sleep on top of that.

When you work full-time, free time, or the lack thereof, is a real issue.

During my degree there were definitely times where I had too much time. I’d waste the day by taking naps, or not getting out of bed until after noon. I’d put off doing work until the very last minute, when I’d spend all-night working on some horrible requirements document or other fun deliverable, and spend the next day sleeping. If you’ve been a Uni student before, you can probably relate: you procrastinate the smallest of tasks only to spend a few sleepless nights working feverishly on whatever you were supposed to have worked on before the deadline was looming large. It was like that during my degree, too; I could afford to waste time, because there was plenty of it.

But now that I’m kind-of, sort-of, looking for work and filling in for someone who’s going on holiday at my current place of employment, there’s just not enough time. Or at least, I don’t seem to have enough of it free as I would like.

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The Penis Flood Attack

All they had to do was look at the two words in the captcha, enter the proper label for the ‘easy’ one (presumably that would be the one that the two optical scanners would agree upon) and enter the word “penis” for the hard one. If they did this often enough, then soon a significant percentage of the images would be labelled as ‘penis’ and the ability to autovote would be restored (one side effect, that was not lost on Anonymous, was the notion that for years to come there would be a number of digital books with the word ‘penis’ randomly inserted throughout the text.

via moot wins, Time Inc. loses « Music Machinery.

I kid you not.

The story is on how some Anon beat TIme, Inc when they hax00r’d the voting system, using something called the Penis Flood. Lulz.

It’s Time To Talk Up!

Self-realisation:

Noun;
The fulfilment of one’s own potential.

Nope, that’s not the definition that I wanted!

How about: the act of becoming aware of one’s self.

I guess it’s my fault.

Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve been constantly talking down to people. Working in a retail environment with lots of jargon has contributed to this – usually, people don’t get what I’m talking about when I stick lots of jargon into the conversation, so as a result, I end up “dumbing things down” for them.

Now, that’s all well and good. It’s excellent that I can do that for people who maybe aren’t very familiar with computers, so they don’t understand what RAM does for them. In such cases, analogies are great. There’s this great one we use at work – it explains what the hardware of the computer (CPU, RAM, HDD, etc) does for the customer, while also comparing it to something that they already know (or can at least relate to). It’s not perfect, but it does a damn good job at explaining a complex situation to a customer.

Anyway… this constant dumbing down has seemed to affect how I talk to people who aren’t as technically savvy as I am. Instead of pointing out advanced features, I’m using the “shock and awe” technique more and more – using the simple things to make an impact. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I can’t point out those advanced features, I’m just not doing it as often as I should do.

It isn’t all bad, however. When I’m taking the training class (teaching others, not me), I merely glance over features that will confuse the hell out of people who are new to the operating system. Any mention of Spaces (virtual desktops), for example, usually elicits blank stares and entails me explaining Spaces – again, and again, and again. While keyboard shortcuts are mentioned, I usually leave it up to the user to see if they want to use them. I always give them the choice, though, as I think that keyboard shortcuts are an excellent productivity enhancer.

Now, dumbing things down for those that are technically-challenged is excellent, don’t get me wrong. It’s when I start to take the wrong attitude towards dumbing things down – being lazy and taking the easy way out.

There was one time where an upgrade path would have entailed a long and complicated discussion about RAM, CPU, Hard Drive, and all the rest of it. Now, I could clearly tell that this poor woman wasn’t up to the challenge (not knowing the details of her own computer gave it away) – and that’s exactly where I went wrong. Instead of having that long and complicated discussion, I decided to take the easy way out – and promptly recommended holding off on the upgrade until a new machine was necessary.

Of course, I later discovered her own computer was easily up to the task, and an OS upgrade was all that was necessary. I wasn’t very happy with my own performance on that occasion as you could imagine.

I’m just saying that in order for me to help you, you’ve got to help yourself. There are only so many details that we can elicit of out of you if you don’t know what kind of computer you have – sure, descriptions help, but CPU, RAM, HDD – all are basics that every computer user should know (or at least know how to find out). To this end, I’ve begun teaching the “About this Mac” menu in all my Intro to OSX classes – which will enable people to find out about their Mac should they need that kind of info.

At the end of the day, it was my stuff up. I should have asked the probing questions. I should have tried to get more details about her computer. Alas, I failed.

So gentlemen, it’s time to talk up. Don’t patronise people by assuming you know things that they don’t. Don’t talk down to them because you think you’re somehow better than them.

It’s time. Time to talk up.

Comments below.

Study Time > Blogging Time.

Long story short, the reason I’m posting this at 1:39am is because I’ve just finished studying.

I really cannot be screwed posting anything insightful, so yeah.

‘Night.