Saturday, February 3, 2007

Blogging burnout
Janice Brown has a bit here which we should all take a second look at: ["It's a Crazy World: Fighting Blogger Burnout"].
I meant to write about this before. And, I must admit, I'm guilty, as charged. But I've been busy with other things, like life. I also recently questioned in my own mind, for the first time, what I am doing with my own blog Politizine. Sure, it's one of those silly, philosophical moments. Not to sound like Vice Admiral James Stockdale or anything but What is it? Why is it here? Why am I spending time with it? More on that later ... when I figure it out.
Over the past few months, I've been thinking about how important "time" is, in a general sense. It has been an inner battle: What has to get done, what needs to get done, what should get done, what should get ignored, etc. I've also been thinking about time during the process of thinking about financial budgets, time budgets, organization/reorganization, and how much time is spent doing even the most menial of tasks. Going through an overall life overhaul - which sometimes happens to people when they are thrown into unexpected [or expected] circumstances - brings on these thoughts. It is often looked at as a negative but I've been finding the whole process quite positive.
To be honest, I've never actually thought about time in any way more than the usual cliches: There isn't enough time in the day; life is so short; etc. It is one of the reasons I rarely wear a watch and haven't for about a decade. Sure, I have a phone that has a calendar and set reminders for a day's tasks go off at the correct time. It also has a clock. And I've owned watches in the past. I like them. They look nice on the arm. But I don't really worry about what the time is when I have an electronic reminder. In addition, my mind and body has a magical way of knowing what time it is. I get up in time to get in an early workout almost every morning. No alarm - it's just time to get up. Stomach grumbles? It's time to eat. I don't need a clock or watch to tell me what to do.
I have, however, really begun to think about time in a metaphysical way though. The thoughts have been about more than just being 40-plus, staring at retirement and death, or wondering why I'm still at work when I should be home with my family, etc. It is about being. It is about seconds passing by. It is about feeling fulfilled. It is about the little things and the big things, like quality of life. It is about existence.
Here is a silly example that I've been thinking about: I like eggs, especially for breakfast. But as I was cooking one a couple of weeks ago, I began to think about how long it takes to prepare an egg the way I like to eat them. I like them hard fried, with ham and cheese, melted, on toasted bread, or what is now known as a breakfast sandwich. Each morning after my workout and quickly skimming the papers, I make a sandwich.
But have you ever realized the amount of time it takes to make one of these sandwiches?
I turn the stove on, spray a small frying pan with Pam cooking oil, dash some pepper, and wait for the pan to heat up. It takes a few minutes to get good and hot. I throw some bread in the toaster and set the timer for six minutes [I like the bread toasted somewhere between burnt and not]. When the pan is hot - tested by holding my hand above the pan to feel for heat - I crack an egg and drop it into the pan and it sizzles. I then take a spoon and gash the yoke so it bleeds so it will completely cook through and wait. I then get out a couple of slices of ham and a slice of Swiss and put them on a plate, waiting for the egg to be cooked.
After a few minutes, the egg is finally cooked on one side, I flip it over and then throw on the ham and cheese on top of the egg and cover so the cheese can melt slightly. By now, the toast is done and I take it out of the toaster and put it on the plate and wait. Finally, the egg is finished, the ham is cooked, and the cheese melted. I throw it all onto the toast, cut the sandwich in half, and wait for it to cool a bit before eating. The entire process takes between 10 and 15 minutes. All of this for a sandwich and I haven't even eaten it yet. On Sundays, I try to cook up a brunch-like breakfast, with some Demoulas hash and toast. Sometimes, I will make an omelet instead of frying the eggs, which takes a lot longer than the egg sandwich.
So I'm thinking about all of this the other day - while finally getting to eat the sandwich - and I realize that I'm spending about two hours a week just cooking eggs. That is more than 100 hours a year ... to just cook some eggs. Imagine how much blogging I could get done during that time! Seriously. If I just ate some cereal, it would take me all of 2 minutes to prepare and maybe another 5 to eat and wah-lah, more time!
Last week, I tried something new: I did the dishes which I left from the evening before while the egg was cooking thereby getting two major things done at once! Multi-tasking: The power of a new generation. It still doesn't bring back the time spent preparing the sandwich but at least this way, I get more done. Now if I can just figure out a way to cook the egg, do the dishes, and blog at the same time, I would be golden.
At this point you're probably thinking, How silly is all this? What a waste of time to blog about a fried egg sandwich. But seriously, these are the things that sometimes go through my mind, especially with my new found obsession with time.
I've gone through thinking about these formulas before. The most recent one was during the last gas spike when I was commuting to Massachusetts for work. The car I owned at the time, a miserly Civic, thankfully got about 35 to 38 highway miles to the gallon. This meant I only had to fill the tank up about two to three times a week in order to get to work. When the gas prices went up, the cost of getting to work rose too, without any addition compensation. I began to think about my spending and realized I was spending the same amount of money as a gallon of gas on one Big One coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. Since I was buying two Big Ones per day - one in the morning for the road and one in the early afternoon during a break - I was spending about $4 per day on coffee. That's $20 per work week [$1,000 annually] or about what a tank of gas was going for at the time. All of that on coffee. Yikes.
But I was getting nailed with higher gas prices and needed to figure out how to pay for the extra 30 to 40 cents a gallon. Well, the DD runs went. I started making coffee at home and later, at the office [It helped that our admin found out we could order coffee on our corporate expense account]. Instant savings and the money for the extra gas costs magically appeared.
Now, the larger point is that gas should actually only really be $1.50 a gallon or so and I shouldn't have to cut my coffee expenses to pay for higher gas prices. But I did and it was OK because I can make coffee which is almost as good as Dunkin' anyway.
All in all, time, coffee and gas prices, all get a little intriguing. Balancing out what is important in life is the great puzzle of our lives. Figuring out how to do it successfully, the ultimate goal. When someone figures out how to market all this to us multitasking, multimedia, Type As, I think they will have struck it rich ... and then they can go relax on a beach somewhere earning 20 percent.
Crossposted at Area603

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