Nobody cares

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc, especially if you ahven’t sold it yet. And the ones that aren’t, you don’t want in your life anyway.

~ Jason Korman

§5 – M’urgency Kit

(Part 5 of 5 in Travel Gear)

I sometimes call this the “M’urgency” kit as it covers both emergency and urgency situations. After the small convenience bag, this is my most-used, ready-to-go item.

First off, you have to decide wether you need a full, commercial, medical kit. If, like me, your primary concern is the common items you need, then I recommend going the route described here. There’s an unavoidable trade-off between size/weight and preparedness which you have to evaluate for yourself.

Deciding what to include was difficult. I began by searching the internet for emergency kits, but all of them had way too much stuff. On the other hand, I could create two separate kits: A micro-sized kit of a few ounces, and a larger one for more serious traveling. In the end, I settled on the kit described here as the best of both worlds. It is worth its weight in gold. Any time I have a bag, this kit is inside.

I’m a huge believer in having things pre-packed. “Containerizing” everything does use some additional space and weight, but it’s worth it if you can find the perfect size containers. For this kit, you want a sturdy container that will resist crushing, since this kit is going to take tons of abuse; It will be thrown around, leaned on, jostled and stuffed in/out of bags countless times before that one day when you need it.

My kit began with a clear-plastic “art box” — unfortunately, I’m not sure where this box came from. In my first iterations, I used this box, held closed with some rubber bands. One day I realized that this box would fit inside a zippered-bag I had laying around. The bag was an ’80s cassette-tape case, which I literally had from the ’80s for storing cassettes. I tossed the cassettes and the internal hard plastic organizer, and the art box fits easily but cannot open once zipped inside.

Eventually, the already tired case came apart and I had to buy a new one off eBay. You might have trouble finding these now because I bought most of them off eBay when I realized they were becoming rare. Since they are different colors, they are easy to find when rummaging in a backpack. (Another one of these bags will appear in a subsequent post.)

  • large, heavy-duty plastic bag for every time I wish I had a bag for trash, food… and emergency phone storage when getting soaked unexpectedly.
  • safety pin; pinning, but also can eject SIM cards
  • …and the plastic box; the really hard part is to pack the box so it does not rattle when you shake it :)
  • facial towelettes are awesome; a bathroom sink, one of these used for more than “face”, and a clean shirt.
  • I don’t normally use sunscreen; but the day you need it a swipe-on stick of facial sunscreen can save you and several friends
  • next layer down (I’m a child of Tetris :)
  • save some athletic tape rolls near their end and they fit. Useful for taping anything of course. Similar to wrapping some tape around your water bottle for random use
  • there’s a space in the tape rolls!
  • on the right is a tiny plastic bag with 3 nylon gloves. Yes three, because you always tear one.
  • this tiny little pill holder is amazing. You can open it with one hand by pinching it anywhere around it’s middle and it *clicks* open immediately.
  • packed in here are my preferred selection of drugs. A few standard pain killers and my preferred allergy drug.
  • the cotton ball ensures things don’t rattle. Here, it’s important to keep the pills from jiggling into powder as well as to eliminate noise.
  • top row…
  • a small band-aid box I found somewhere. It was a standard pack of various band-aid sizes which I’ve repurposed.
  • couple of small gauze pads and some alcohol wipes
  • bottom row…
  • a needle and a few yards of thread
  • two safety pins
  • disposable ear-plugs
  • small and large butterfly “sutures” and band-aids

Clearly, this also requires some maintenance. What I usually do is any time I use something (say, I give someone some Advil) instead of refilling the pills, I toss ALL the pills and replace the stockpile to keep them fresh. Anything you keep in here can go out of date or dry up etc. and keeping this kit “fresh” is as important as creating it in the first place.

As I said at the top, I don’t expect you to build this exact kit. :) But I do hope that it has given you a few ideas for what you might want to keep on hand.

The triumph of principles

A political victory, a rise in rents, the recovery of your sick, or return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace by the triumph of principles.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who wants to become a manager?

https://knowyourteam.com/blog/2019/03/20/do-i-truly-want-to-become-a-manager/

As a manager, this state of flow is less common, if not non-existent. You aren’t diving deep on a task during an uninterrupted block of time, as required in flow – you’re the one helping others dive deep on a task. You’re also not receiving immediate feedback about your progress in the same way you would as an individual contributor, which is another critical element of flow. As a manager, you might not find out until months later if a decision you made or a conversation you had positively or adversely affected your team.

~ Claire Lew

I think there’s a continuous pull to increase the total amount of work-output that we accomplish. Year by year, we improve our skills, learn new areas of interest, and even change careers entirely. We’re optimizing. The hard question is: Optimizing for what? Why?

I know I’ve been lured by the trap of thinking that if I just had help, then I’d be able to optimize. If I had more help, I’d be able to make more money, make more time, make more happiness for my myself, or make more happiness for the world. It’s taken me a long time to realize that, managing work and doing work are two different things.

I understand some people are drawn to—derive inherent pleasure from—managing others well and leading productive teams. But to date, I am not one of those people. This has left me in the unstable position of being pulled in opposing directions by two ideas: I would like to do fulfilling work. But to do more fulfilling work than I am currently, I need help from others. The key for me is to work with others in a spirit of collaboration; To not slip into my default mode of optimization, (specification, control, and micro-management.)

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On bad writing

The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.

~ Tom Waits

§16 – Don’t be that guy

(Part 28 of 28 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

Serendipity.

I’ve been working on writing these thoughts for over three years. Without actually checking, I think it was the Fall of 2015 when I sat in Le Jardin Joan d’Arc and read my copy of Thibault’s book in one, all-day sitting. Almost 4 years ago?

I created this particular blank note for Chapter 16 in May of 2016. “16”?

As I’m writing, it is May of 2019. Another, “May”?

About three years ago I started the project which eventually became Movers Mindset. Two years ago the project grew to include a podcast.

This morning, I feel compelled to “finally” get around to writing something for Chapter 16. I open my digital copy, flip to Chapter 16, and I read, “Chris ‘Blane’ Rowat once wrote…”

Care to guess who I am interviewing for the podcast today? Yes, really.

This is sublime.

All those threads woven together lead to this moment of realization at 8:00 in a rented London flat, 6,000km from my home.

Critically, while I’ve known for months the exact date and time of Chris’ interview, I’ve not read Chapter 16 recently enough to have remembered that it starts with his sentiments. If I had, I’d certainly have made some complicated plan to co-publish this writing and the podcast, or something—but this serendipity would not have materialized. Energized by the jolt of adrenaline when I read Chapter 16 this morning, I now feel a renewed belief in the entire Movers Mindset project! (Which is good, because most days there’s more strenuous labor than love in the labor of love.)

But, serendipity and coincidence are bullshit.

It’s just my brain, (yours may be the same,) working its tremendous powers of pattern matching. This morning my mind found a slightly-more-interesting-than-usual pattern and screamed, (ala the old adrenal gland,) that it had found something that demanded much closer attention. I’ve been spurred to carefully read Chapter 16 about five times this morning, to mull over my thoughts, to spend an hour or so writing, and to think of all the people I want to share this story with. I was inspired to create a vision of how the interview will go, new questions have popped into my head, and I’ve thought of a specific person who I now realize I’d forgot for about two years!

I wonder: What would life be like if I simply paid closer attention?

What if—instead of needing a kick in the adrenals to be this motivated—I could begin to intentionally notice things a bit smaller than this morning’s coincidence?

What if!

…and of course, “don’t be that guy.”

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Being a great guest

(Part 5 of 5 in Parkour Travel)

This post is entirely rules, tips, and ideas about how to be an insanely great guest in someone’s home. It’s organized into three sections. The first two sections are meant to get you thinking about how your host, and other guests, perceive you. The third section is focused on the day-to-day details of living in an unusual space. It’s meant to get you thinking about solutions to problems, and ways to make travel more enjoyable.

tl;dr: Empathy.

For my purposes here, empathy is the psychological identification with the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another person. I’m not suggesting that you must continuously empathize with everyone. I’m suggesting that empathy is a tool that can be used to inform your plans and behavior. Simply put, artfully using the soft skill of empathy will transform you into a great guest.

Why Bother?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Why? Because decent human beings treat other human beings decently. (Did I need to write that? I hope not.)

If you are not already motivated to improve and to be a good guest, consider these benefits:

Lubrication: If your host likes you, they’ll interact with you more, you’ll experience more of their life, knowledge, and culture, and they may even help you more by driving you somewhere, or introducing you to someone. There is a wide margin of experiences which you cannot plan. But if things are going well via your being an awesome guest, then you’ll more often find yourself invited into that margin by your host.

Pete and Repeat: If you want to be invited back, you need to be a good guest. If you enjoyed a first visit (with your host, to the community, to the city, to the country), you’d probably enjoy a second visit. Notably, second visits are logistically easier because you know the lay of the land. So it’s a double-win if you visit again. Rare and valuable are hosts who become true friends through repeated visits.

Avoiding self-sabotage: Invitations generally only appear when meeting someone in person, so new invitations are fairly rare. If you are an annoying guest, your reputation will quietly precede you, and invitations won’t be extended.

Lead from the front: We are social animals. (Everyone varies as to how much social interaction we prefer, but no one is an island.) So it’s wise to help weave the social fabric by setting a good example. An excellent way to save the world is to be the change you want to see in the world. Be the traveler who breaks the ice, (appropriately of course,) who dives into the distasteful chore, who finds ways to include everyone, and who kicks off the cascade of cohesion and camaraderie.

The Cardinal Sin

Invitations are never extendable to others; Never invite another person to your host’s home.

Invitations are never extendable to others; Never invite another person to your host’s home.

Corollary: Be cautious with social media. Avoid, revealing your host’s exact address, or the details of their private life.

Here are cringe-worthy examples I’ve seen: Someone you’re training with needs to use the bathroom? Someone needs a place to stash their belongings? A place to shower? A place to crash for the night? No, no, no and no. You should always and forever consider yourself a guest. Guests are, by definition, not the host and only the host can invite others.

Treat your host’s home like a magic kingdom. It’s a rare privilege, reserved for the select few, to even know where it is located, let alone be permitted to glimpse the interior. Only your host may pierce that veil and reveal the kingdom to those whom they alone choose.

I’ve spoken to many people, and there are differing views held by persons in the guest role. Some incorrectly believe that a guest’s behavior may change, pushing, or crossing, the boundaries I’m describing, based on the host and the situation. (Pro-tip: Be the host and then you can do whatever you want. Until then, you are a guest.) The guest’s role is unwavering. Hosts and their “homes” vary widely from open-door, dog-pile, continuous-house-parties, to Zen-temple-like retreats of peace and quiet known to only a select few. The boundaries of acceptable behavior are set by your host, will vary widely, and are usually not explicitly detailed. But that variety in homes and boundaries does not change the guest’s role and responsibilities in the least.

Lead from the front, be considerate, and practice empathy.

15 Suggestions

Be careful what you wish for: Your host may go out of their way to arrange something you didn’t actually want. If this happens, you should follow through with what you asked, enjoy it, and remember to pass your heartfelt thanks to your host. (Ask me the story about the swimming pool in Japan.)

Be predictable: Since, as a good guest, you are actively paying attention to how your presence is imposing on your host, you can work to minimize friction and problems. Once you start to see how this works, you’ll think of a myriad of small things you can do to be predictable. Think about your communications from your host’s point of view. (Here’s that empathy skill again.) Always let your host know what to expect.

Everyone has routines: Your mission is to figure out your host’s routines, and to figure out what their intentions are. (The later is much harder than the former.) Do they want no disruption of their normal routine, or do they want to get up early to do things with you? Do they want you to feed yourself, or do they deeply enjoy cooking and sharing meals? The inroad here is found by realizing that your goal is to make your interaction with your host, and your affect on them, intentional.

Sleeping: The biggest challenge is to tease out when your host expects to sleep and expects to awake, and to try to fit yourself to that. This can be hard to do well. If you wait too long, they will eventually ask you, and it can get awkward if you give an exact response—”I go to sleep at 9:30 and get up at 5:30″—if that is significantly different from their normal routine. I usually open the conversation about sleeping by mentioning what time I need to get up (for an event, transportation logistics, etc..) But, challenges can still arise because sleep is the thing I’ve arranged my life around, and it is rare that I encounter others with this same level of attention to sleep.

Scheduling: Of course, if you have a specific thing to do (event, train, plane, etc), and they watch TV (or play games, etc.) at night, you should join them a little, but then go to sleep. Hopefully your sleep spot is out of the way. Sometimes sleeping on the floor is great because you can say goodnight and head off to your nest. Sometimes sleeping on the floor is a problem if your assigned space is the common space where staying-up is happening. Know your schedule in advance and factor that in when planning where you’ll sleep.

Bed: In the morning, stow your bed by putting your sleep system away or putting the sofa back together. If you’ve found yourself in a guest bedroom, make the bed.

Bathroom etiquette: This is hero-level stuff done by dream guests. If the shower is in the only bathroom, before you head to the shower, politely ask if anyone would like to use the bathroom. Always bring all your own bathroom stuff, (soap, shampoo, whatever you need, you should be able to carry it when traveling.) Leave absolutely nothing in the bathroom. (If there are multiple guests, the bathroom can get insane.) The exception would be your towel: If you’re the only guest, it should be hung neatly to dry in the bathroom. But if there are lots of guests, your towel needs to go dry in your sleeping space. (If you have a tech towel that dries quickly and shower before bed, it will dry by morning in your sleeping area.)

…and more Bathroom tips: Showering at night keeps the bedding cleaner, (your host’s, or yours if you’re using your sleep system.) Technical clothing that dries quickly can be washed with you as you shower to dry as you sleep. Take cooler showers to save hot water for others, and to make less fog in the bathroom. Always run the fan. Next, imagine you are being timed while in the bathroom. …and imagine there’s a line of people waiting. …and then imagine yourself waiting desperately in that line to use the bathroom. If there are many guests, get yourself presentable as quickly as possible, and then crack the door while finishing up the things you can do while dressed. Most people will knock on the door if it is cracked open. You can then pause your work to politely step out for them.

If you are handy: Fix things. But only if you are absolutely sure you can succeed! Sometimes you can just leave things a touch more organized, more clean, or less broken, then when you arrived. Do not make a big deal of it nor point out what you’ve done.

Disappear during the day: Not only you body, but all your stuff too, should disappear! Either carry everything with you whenever you leave, or have a large bag to leave at your host’s. (There are large, packable duffels that take up little space when stuffed.) This enables your host to move all your stuff easily if needed. (It also tends to keep children and pets out of your stuff.) If you do this well, instead of your host feeling like you’re there for three days, it’s more like three, separate, one-night visits; They have fun sharing a meal, some conversation, then everyone’s asleep, and then it feels like your visit ends in the morning.

Refrigerators: Use the fridge, but remove all of your stuff. Seriously, no one will eat your left-overs, (except obviously useful items like eggs.) If your host gives you a tour of the fridge, (literally, or by mentioning it in passing,) then do eat/drink their stuff. If they do not mention it, do not touch their stuff. Mastery level: change your eating habits so you don’t eat breakfast. Find your lunches and dinners out-and-about and place zero food-load on your host. Then, if they want to eat socially, you can add that back in.

Not seen and not heard: By default you should be invisible, and as quiet as a mouse. Make no noise, don’t watch TV, play games, etc. Let your host lead. If they want to interact, make noise, watch TV, playing games, etc., then join in!

Before arrival: Tell your host how and when you are arriving (“My train gets in at 4:30, so it will be about 5 by the time I get to your place by subway.”) This way they know when to expect you, and that you are not expecting them to pick you up. Then, if they want to offer you a ride, (or whatever,) they can. You should always be thinking: All I need is shelter and a bathroom; Anything else is icing on the cake. (wifi? electric power?! food?!! …omg awesome!)

Intentional updates: Your host should always know when to next expect to hear from you; This means you make the effort, not that you nag them. When you leave for the day you might say, “I’m not sure what time I’ll be back. I’ll send you a message after lunch.” …or, “I’m going to be late this evening, I’m having dinner with so-and-so.”

Oops happens: When things go wrong, own up to it immediately. If you break something, tell your host. However, if you ask, “can I fix/replace this,” most people will lie and say to not worry about it. Instead, you must first figure out how to fix/replace it, and say, “I see there’s a home depot across town. After breakfast I’ll take the subway over and get another one of these.” Sure, you will miss the morning of the event you came to attend (!), but you broke it and you should be the one who misses half a day fixing it. You’ll learn a hard lesson and be a better person for it.

Review: After each visit, take the time to think about what went well, what went badly, and wether your visit matched up with your expectations. Continuous improvement is the key!

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Purpose in life

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television.

~ David Letterman

Daily steps of weight tracking

My weight fluctuates a lot during the day, and day-to-day. So I picked a consistence time and procedure. I try not to over-think it, and simply do the same thing each time, generally, in the morning after I go to the bathroom.

After doing this for a few years, I no longer care about the fluctuations. The whole point of this is to get a handle on the trends. The individual jumping around of the numbers is irrelevant. Once you see the numbers jump all over the place for a few weeks, you learn to stop caring about what the scale says on any given day.

My scale measures in 2/10’s of pounds. So I can get “123.4” or “123.6”. It’s digital, has huge numbers, and it lives right in the open in the bathroom where I can just step on it at any time. This is important as it removes all possible “friction” to weighing myself. I don’t even need to slide the scale out to step on it.

Next to the scale hangs a tailor’s tape measure. I use the metric scale on the tape since that gives me centimeters and tenths. (If I used the inches scale, I’d have to convert the 1/8’s of inches into decimals, so it’s easier to get 4 digits from the metric side.)

I step on the scale and grab the tape measure. By the time I look down, the scale is done deciding my weight. I step off scale and measure the largest circumference. This requires honesty, but is very easy to do once I did it a few times: I just relax, let it all hang out, and slowly let the tape measure slip longer as I try to slip it down around my waist. (I suppose, that some day, when I have a “waist” in the proper definition, I’ll have to tweak my method. That will be a great problem to have.)

I might get 232.8 pounds– I just remember 2 3 2 8.
I might get 110.7 centimeters– I just remember 1 1 0 7.
…and I walk out of the bathroom mumbling, “2 3 2 8 1 1 0 7”

In subsequent posts I’ll go into what I do with the numbers in terms of math, spreadsheets and why the units are irrelevant. But for now, that’s the data capture that I try to do every day. It’s fast and easy. Step on scale, measure “waist”, and record eight digits.

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