Hopefully, a change in my schedule

I’ve asked for permission to come in to work early, with an extended lunch break. For a while now, I’ve been pondering how to get more exercise into my schedule. But this also likely means not updating this blog as often.

I currently go in late, and stay a little late, so as to be able to do server maintenance tasks after business hours. From there, I have places I go every evening, that I don’t want to give up. There was also the worry that doing a nice amount of exercise late in the evening would make it harder to get to sleep. Exercise (I expect) will energize me, as I bring up my level of activity. Currently, I’m quite sedentary, and have gained a lot of weight over the last year or so.

There for a while, I was going to the gym before work. I had a personal trainer, which didn’t work that well. The guy was great; but, there was a mismatch between what I wanted and what he provided. I wanted to lose weight. That means cardiovascular exercise, right? Treadmill, swimming, elliptical, rowing machine, etc. I am sure there is nothing more boring for a trainer than to stand there and watch someone walking on a treadmill. It also doesn’t justify the price being paid for training. For some strange reason, my trainer was putting me through strength training (mostly), and although my heart rate would be somewhat elevated, I really wasn’t losing any weight.

My finances got thin, so I dropped my trainer (and gym membership). Ultimately, this (and paying off another bill) did reverse my course from being in the red monthly, to being in the black, monthly.

I could start going to the gym every morning, again. I checked out another gym (far closer to my home), but their payment scheme shenanigans were completely stupid, so I didn’t sign up. Turns out, it’s been four months, and that gym just closed it’s doors. Glad I didn’t sign up and pre-pay for the entire year

If I don’t get the lunch break for going to the gym, then I will do the morning work out. But what I really want, is to go in to work early, take a lunch break at 11:00 AM, and then work out for an hour, clean up, get a light lunch, and get back to work by my normal 2:00 PM.

As soon as I switched to the late shift, I started missing out on the morning status meeting. It’s still a problem today, if I do something late at night, and no-one gets to know the situation until 9:00 AM when I get in.

I listed to a podcast, where Scott Adams of Dilbert fame was interviewed. Mr. Adams made an interesting observation of his own physiology: he is most creative in the morning, and uses some time after that for exercise. This would actually fit me pretty well. A lot of what I do is programming, so first thing in the morning, I’m burning brain sugar like mad. But then I run out, and hit a lull in my productivity. That would be a perfect time to go to the gym: no thinking required for walking a treadmill. I could also listen to podcasts, which I like doing. The exercise would likely energize me, so my afternoon would probably be productive, too.

But here, doing my lunch time blog, would definitely take a hit.

Starting my day happy

My happiness level now, compared to three years ago, is like the difference between day and night. Here are the things I do, to start my day happy.

First, my alarm clock plays a song. I have four different songs that I wake up to; all are songs that I like waking up to and singing along with in my head.

  • I Have This Hope by Tenth Avenue North
  • Control (Somehow You Want Me) by Tenth Avenue North
  • I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe
  • Love Like This by Lauren Daigle

So my alarm goes off, I wake up, and am instantly happy that I get to sing along with a song that inspires me to hope.

Most days, I have some lights in my bedroom that come on extra low, and grow in brightness over the next fifteen minutes. But I do also have a button on my phone that turns them off. The timing is such that (whichever) song is over before the lights come on, so really this is a gentle backup wake up mechanism.

The song ends, I hit the snooze button (nine minutes), climb out of bed, and head to the bathroom and shower. First, I check that I’m going to have a towel for after the shower, and then turn on the water to warm up the shower. It’s a challenge to turn up the water flow enough to warm the pipes, but not so much as to waste any more water than possible. Pee. Go back to bed.

At this point, I’m going to have a few minutes left before the song plays again.

I start pondering what I’m going to be thankful for. Essentially, it’s an inventory of what happened yesterday that made me happy. The alarm clock song will start playing again. I sing along in my head again, and try to focus on the singing, without distracting myself away from the song. The song ends, and I hit the snooze button again.

Start praying. The first prayers I say are “I love you, God. I need you, God. I trust you, God.” Then I do a couple more prayers, along the lines of relieve me of the bondage of self and may I do thy will always.

Then, I say “Thank you Lord, for xxx” where I come up with three new things I’m grateful for, that I have never been grateful for, before. A friend of mine pointed out that this will result in more than a thousand things a year, that I consciously chose to be grateful.

Another aspect of it, is that it changes one’s time horizon. It’s easy to be grateful for a roof over my head, a good job, and such. But that doesn’t change day to day. What am I grateful for now, that I’ve never been grateful for before? It’s not something from last year – it’s something from last night.

Lastly, I pray for friends and family who are going through things, where God’s influence on them could help them.

Some time during that, my alarm clock will go off again. I might sing along again, or I might turn it off and go take my shower. Hopefully, the hot water in the shower is coming out of the shower head warm by now.

The tension between help and usefulness (Apple Watch)

I have an Apple Watch, and it offers to help me to do things for better health. Wow is this thing being annoying – but I really like the idea of it’s help.

This last two weeks, I’ve been programming at work. I’m not a great programmer, and sometimes have to ponder stuff to figure out what I’m going to do next.

Just about the time (every time) I’m getting “in the zone” (so-to-speak), my Apple Watch pings at me, that it’s time to stand up and walk around. And drop out of “the zone”.

It’s a little weird, often when is pings at me, my physiological condition is that I’m a little light-headed. I don’t know if the Apple Watch actually has a monitor that can tell that. My suspicion is that there is just a timer going, and someone dreamt up the idea that the watch should insert itself into my consciousness once in a while, so I think of the box and recognize it’s value.

Problem is, it inserts itself into my consciousness as inopportune times (almost always), and I immediately react with “Fucking Apple Watch!”

Yet, I go talk a short walk, because I think the underlying idea is a good one.

I think it’s being helpful; but by interrupting my thinking time, it becomes anti-useful.

Google's business, and how it makes me not want their products

So, I bought a new television, and it has a YouTube app built in. But being an app, it doesn’t have the same sort of metadata / overhead that my web browser on my PC has. All the overhead your web browser has, does of course make your browsing session completely identifiable. Even me, with my privacy protection browser plugins, and cookie cleaners, and ad-blocking plugins knows to assume that I’m completely identifiable.

Back in the day, Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems said “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” People weren’t happy with this attitude, but, it’s an honest assessment of the state of the Internet.

95% (or more) of Google’s revenue is from their customers who pay for a chance to sell you something you don’t need. The chance of the sale increases if the pitch is targeted to you. The amount of sales for Google increases if they have more customers. So the more Google mines your personal data, the more possibilities they have that a nugget will match that potential customer.

It’s really just the old saying, “if you aren’t paying for the service, you are the product, and someone else is the customer”.

Now I have this device that connects to YouTube, and Google has never seen this device before. It has no history, it’s cookie is freshly baked but as bland as possible. Google has zero information about this new ad target. For one brief shining moment, the amount of leverage Google had on this target was super low. All they could really tell was which ISP it came from, and the whatever machine model information was sent in the HTTP User Agent field.

Apparently, YouTube / Google thinks Saturday Night Live is something a generic someone would want to watch. Personally, I don’t think SNL has been funny for a decade or two; but I was spoiled by the 1970’s SNL.

Of course, there were sports. And the Daily Awww (which is probably a good choice). And even some movie trailers (I think).

However, I was watching a YouTube video on my PC, and at the end of the day, I wanted to finish it on the TV. So I searched for the author’s name, to find all the videos about. Yes, I finished the video.


Now, Google YouTube cannot find anything not related to this author. It is as if my entire world must be completely obsessed with this author; because, hey, a lot of people are talking about (*), and that’s all they know.

I seriously don’t want to use YouTube on the TV any more, because this tracking / focus on leveraging what they do know is extreme. It is ridiculous.

Anyway, if your business behavior makes people uncomfortable, you might want to examine if you are doing business right.

Favorite podcasts

Podcasting is the “new thing” these last two years (although it’s been around for a decade, recently it became popular).

There are more. 😉

But, these are the one’s I’m going to listen too first, if I have enough time in the week to do so.

Stock market ideas: Surveillance technology

An idea I like, is the personal body cams that law enforcement is adopting. I have some personal friends in law enforcement who have expressed dislike of them, as liability engines. But a link to a video that one of them provided showed me, non- law enforcement, that officers put up with an amazing amount of abuse, and still can be polite, restrained, professional, and tolerant. So I think it’s a win-win: the officer can prove honest behavior, and, the member of the public knows that their bad behavior is on the record.

So one of the companies I like is the former Taser, now known as AXON Enterprise – stock ticker AAXN.

I don’t yet own this stock. It’s currently at $43, although two weeks ago it was down to $40.

But I do think they are in a growth market. Many (if not 99%) of law enforcement agencies already have a relationship with AXON / Taser, with the pistols that apply non-lethal force. Although bigger law enforcement agencies have already bought body cams, I don’t think that penetration within the smaller markets is anywhere near complete. I think that 65% of of law enforcement is still in the adoption phase.

I previously had done well with Ambarella – stock ticker AMBA – getting in around $30 and selling at $70. Ambarella was more of a technology play, being a company that makes CCD sensors for GoPro cameras, and other cameras. My point is that there can be growth stocks in these areas. I don’t think AXON is going to sell as many body cams as GoPro sold their cameras; but, they will probably a decent percentage of them, still.