The 2K11 24/7 CCCXXIV: One Last Post

Well that didn’t turn out exactly as planned — ended up some posts shy of my original goal, but I managed to get a lot out, a lot written, and make some progress in life.

The 2K11 24/7 Wrap-Up

I’m happy to have made it through 2011 in one piece with plenty of hope and positive prospects for 2012 afoot. 2011 was my most challenging year so far — here’s a monthly look at just what went down:

  • January: Win a $2000 Wolfram Mathematica licence in the Wolfram|Alpha Holiday Gift-Away: Deck the Halls with Facts & Knowledge thanks to friends and family; win a new Cisco router at #ReGiftTO
  • February: My boss left our branch, changing the entire dynamic and environment of our office
  • March: Found the AMAZING Burberry suit that I’d wear to the wedding
  • April: Lots of wedding prep and finding time to hang out with friends before becoming a married man
  • May: Got married, had a crazy bachelor party in Montreal, head off to Europe on honeymoon for three weeks, going well into June, bought an iPad
  • June: Come back, face reality. Work hard.
  • July: Decide not to throw any more birthday parties and travel instead, go camping with the in-laws
  • August: Montreal Part 2, hit up the de Bruyn cottage in Quebec for an extremely relaxing weekend, start new job!
  • September: See high school friends after a very long time, take up sewing classes
  • October: Cottage Antics at another cottage
  • November: Headed out to Boston only to find that Toronto’s better
  • December: Start yet another job, have some crazy times with Twitter folk at HoHoTO, and wrap up a very busy year.

Living a life filled with regret isn’t what anyone wants — we focus on the years of constant lessons; figuring out who we are, what we’re about and where we’d like to improve; and we acknowledge the progress we’ve made and where we’d eventually like to get to.

And that’s simply for the things we do casually.

What if you work on something with a little more intensity? If you do something very regularly, the improvement to your task happens over a much shorter time than one might expect! It might take 10,000 hours to master something, but by no means does that mean it all happens at a constant rate!

For me, in 2011, it was definitely this blog.

Lessons from the 2K11 24/7 — What I Learned from a Year of Almost-Daily Blogging

When I started writing the 2K11 24/7 back in January, it was primarily just to prove that I could write a blog post a day. All I had at the time was a catchy-enough name. No real theme. No real idea of what content I’d write — just a name.

The blog took on a life of its own as time passed — I found myself really assessing my life, trying to learn more about the world and why it was so messed up — writing all the time had me thinking about things I hadn’t dredged up in my mind in a very long time.

On top of this blog’s message, I learned more about what it means to be a blogger. I learned about marketing, coding and analytics; got more involved in Toronto communities both online and offline — all things I didn’t know would be fundamental to my success as a blogger; I just discovered it all as my journey progressed!

Lots of major events and life changes, but it wasn’t without its disappointments as well. Life isn’t perfect and neither are we — in 2011, I strove to put out a blog post a day, but in November, the malaise that often comes from too much repetition and routine would find me, sending me off to look for other projects and to finish the year with a blog just 30-40 posts short of 365.

While on one hand, I could beat myself up for not having made it all the way, that’s over 300 quality posts! 300 posts of blood, sweat and tears invested in posts of various topics — forgive the visual.

2012 will be even better — I look forward to not chaining myself to the computer in search of things to cover each and every day!

What’s the plan for next time? Just wait and see!

–Casey E. Palmer

324/365

2011. Signing out.

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXXIII: What’s in a Year?

When the new year rolls around and you try to commit to a new resolution, do you really know what you’re in for? Will you be able to stick to it no matter what crosses your path in the 360+ days ahead of you?I don’t think we really think these things through — especially on January 1st, as we’re reeling from the aftermath of having closed out the previous year!A year is a long time to stay committed to something — it’s arguably too long. We don’t have the attention spans that we used to, and our world is filled with more distractions than at any point before in history. Trying to envision what something will look like several months down the road isn’t something that most of us grasp easily.But a month — a month we can do!

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXXII: Superstition

“When you believe in thing that you don’t understand, then you suffer — superstition ain’t the way…”

–Stevie Wonder, “Superstition”

I’m told daily to knock on wood when I talk about bad things happening to prevent them from coming true. I know people who won’t make a decision without first consulting their horoscope, making sure that they’re not setting themselves up for failure. People refuse to test umbrellas when they buy them indoors, later complaining when they’re stuck in the rain with a dud.

When did superstition get such a chokehold on our lives?

What does superstition add to our lives?

The more you believe in superstition, the more likely it is to come true. The more of an effect it has on your life. You might not realize it, but it’s like holding a magnet for things to occur without you even realizing it’s in your hand. What’s the point of superstition? Believing in so many rules, regulations and traditions about every little thing we do can make our lives way more complicated and confusing than they need to be. The more we change our paths to make our way around black cats, hop over cracks (so as not to break our mothers’ backs) and whatever other nonsense gives you some peace of mind, the less time you have to simply enjoy your life. The less control you have over your life. And while too much control is a bad thing, there’s also something to be said about letting your superstitions run your life for you.

I say we stop knocking on wood. I say we stop relying on luck all of the time. It might not seem like it, but unless you have quite the exceptional life, you’re only going to get out of your days what you put into them. Things may seem to come out of the blue, but they’re usually a direct result of past actions and decisions.

It’s time to take a look at what rules your life, and to find out whether it’s worth keeping around — the last I checked, rubbing a bald man’s head didn’t do anything for my luck.

–Casey E. Palmer

322/365

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXXI: The Danger of Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

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There are some things that genuinely make me sad. The dissolving of a solid friendship when I put a ton of effort into something only to have it fail miserably. Sometimes though, it’s the difficult choices we need to make in life and doing things we  might not want to do, but have to.
You might see a bit of contrast between this and my general viewpoint of engineering your life so that you don’t have to do the things you don’t want to, but some things are simply unavoidable.
This time it was delivering news I didn’t want to deliver.

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXX: La Passione

How long can we remain passionate about something? Is our passion a flame that can burn eternally, or is it something that goes the way of most things, fizzling out with the passage of time?
What good are we to the world if we keep operating beyond our limits, trying to eke out just a little more greatness?

What do you write about after so much content? The brain gets drained, the topics feel used up — what else could there be?

These are the questions that haunt me as I try to wrap up a year of posting, with pieces of blogs scattered from place to place across computers and stored in the cloud.
Once you fall off of the track and don’t do things with the pace and intensity that you’re used to, it’s hard to get back on. I’m almost a week behind in posts, and I don’t feel the same sense of urgency that I used to in catching up when I’ve lost time.
Have I lost my passion for blogging? Have I given up and chosen to take life in a different direction? Does this happen to everyone who devotes 365 days to doing something? Have our abilities for commitment waned so much that we just can’t devote our lives like we used to?
Sometimes it just feels forced.

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXIX: Casey-Lite

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Some days you wake up and feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. If you were anything like I was, you probably did!

How you feel plays a large role in your daily performance, your personal relations — hell, your life in general! So which of these seems like it’d make your life easier — carrying around a 20-pound weight all day, or only carrying things you actually need and use?

I went through this thinking of my first day back to the job this morning, recalling the time I’d spent in Boston carrying a weighty SLR camera and two lenses in a tiny backpack along with wearing too many layers of clothing some days to resemble anything near comfortable.

We need to make an effort to remind ourselves to be comfortable in our day-to-day lives, and part of that means trimming down the amount of stuff in our bags!

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXVIII: Flying is for Suckers

Hello from 10,000 or so feet above sea level. I’ve been in this plane a little over a half hour, and I’ve already passed out, drooled, read over my neighbour’s shoulder and wanted to get off the damn plane.

You see, I’m bot a big fan of flying. It’s not that I’m scared of anything — I just think it’s natural to feel uncomfortable in any situation we don’t regularly deal with.

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXVII: Taking Care of Self

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Logically, we all know that we need to take care of ourselves to get the most out of life. if we’re sick, we won’t have the strength to do the things we normally do; if we’re exhausted, we won’t be able to learn anything new. We’ll only get worse unless we make the decision to make ourselves better.

But you can’t just talk the talk — having a desire to improve yourself without putting the effort out to make some real change in your life is as bad as not caring.
Let me tell you a little tale about how I knew it was time for me to change my act.

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXVI: The Games of Life

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Some games aren’t games at all. I don’t really know how it happened, but many of my Christian friends have adopted Settlers of Catan as their unofficial after-church board game.
Though Sarah and I didn’t play our first game with anyone from church, we were instantly hooked. It’s a game where you’re trying to be the first to get to 10 Victory Points by building settlements and cities, racking up whatever bonuses you can along the way.
But Settlers — as the game is affectionately called — has a far more sinister side. I’ve always said that if there were any game that could ruin friendships and tear families apart, Settlers would be it!
Unlike your typical North American board game where everyone’s racing to a final square on the board, Settlers is far more interactive! With your moves based on the roll of dice and your opportunities for growth based on where your opponents allow you to play, many a fight has broken out over a Settlers game! You can block your opponents. You can steal from your opponents. You can change someone’s game from a near-win to a crushing defeat in a matter of moves.
Which is precisely why after playing a couple of games of the Cities & Knights expansion in Boston, we needed to take a break from playing the game since we were all getting so grumpy at the moves being played and taking things a little too personally!
Sometimes you’re hot, sometimes you’re not. This is the lesson that games teach us.
You win some, you lose some. We can’t be good at everything, but we definitely try! A little while ago, Sarah and I joined some friends to throw down on some board game action, and while I won at a game focused on patterns and strategy with tile placement, when it came to having to convince others or figure out who said what, my performance ranged anywhere from a little less stellar to abysmal. Board games are like an allegory for our skill sets and our standing in life — they’re scarily reflective of who we are and who we can be. We won’t be good at all of them; some of them will really strike a nerve and frustrate us to no end; while with others, they’ll come to us naturally and we’ll find ourselves wondering why others don’t find it as easy as we do.
Some of the games out there are based on systems that’re breakable if one thinks hard enough. In games where you need to get the most points to win, you do whatever you can to score the most points each turn and prevent anyone else from doing the same. If you need to crack a code, you use each turn to eliminate as many possibilities as you can to tip the game in your favour. Much of life is similar to games of chance, which are harder to predict but still have a clearly defined objective — but we can still learn from the games of structure and strategy.
Games prepare us for the world, though the allegories that they give us are often hard to interpret.
  • Monopoly? Wealth often means cheating those close to you out of their hard-earned money by giving them crappy deals; and even if there’re only two of you left, you still win.
  • Scrabble? Even with questionable words, as long as you can count, you can go a long way in life.
  • Clue? If you’re going to do something bad, don’t leave evidence behind.
Next time you find yourself fighting for another win under your belt, try and learn something from it. You never know when knowing the odds of getting out of jail might save your butt sometime in the future!
–Casey E. Palmer
316/365

The 2K11 24/7 CCCXV: Hindsight’s a Female Dog

It’s a little difficult to sit in the John Harvard bar in Harvard Square, Cambridge (one of the cities in the Boston area) with a bunch of Harvard students, and not think that somewhere along the line I may have made a slight error in judgment.

All along, my parents wanted me to go to Harvard and become a doctor, which didn’t sit well with me for a few reasons:
  • the stubbornness of not wanting to agree with my parents
  • the unwillingness to get the grades to achieve greatness in life, as the outputs of my efforts were intangible and unforeseeable
  • I failed to realize that education isn’t just about the prestige that comes with the name of a school or the things you’ll learn while in your classes; it’s also about the community you form around you and the adventures you have together. When you go to a school where the majority of people commute in and out daily, you don’t get anywhere near a chance to form meaningful bonds with the people around you
But in the end, maybe they were right. We’re told to apply ourselves in school, but as teenagers, we see ourselves as invincible, often not bothering to concern ourselves about the future and where we’re headed.
I know we can’t change the past, but who knows how different we might have been had we made different choices in our past?