Category: Life

Re-resolutions

You signed up for that Yoga class. You bought a (lightly used!) treadmill. You got the brochures for that trip you always wanted to take. But two month later, you’ve gone to one yoga class, have logged 5k on the treadmill and who knows where the brochures went.

Oh well, there’s always next year, right? Wrong.

Here’s a secret: You can set a resolution anytime, not just at an arbitrary day of the year where the earth happens to be in the same spot as it was 365.25 days prior.

This might surprise you, but those successful people you read about actually fail a lot. They probably have 10x the amount of failures as the  do successful things. The difference though, is that they don’t get discouraged, they keep going. They take lessons from the failure and say “Okay, oops, I won’t do it that way again” and then use that to get better.

Maybe yoga just isn’t your thing. Or maybe you need to try a different variation (Bikram, Yin, Hatha, etc.). I like running now, but I used to hate it (but I’d do it twice a month anyway.) It was a task, a chore, something that needed to be done, something that I did to lose weight. Then last year I discovered trail running. Everything switched. Being outdoors and on the trails was what I needed for it to resonate with me. Now I can run 4 hours on the trail like it’s no big deal.  I’m out in nature, seeing things, relaxing.. but also happen to be jogging at the same time. It no longer feels like work, but rather something I can’t not do. I run 2-3 times a week now.

Start things often. Fail at things often. The key to this though is that you have to start. Making excuses like “hmm, better luck next year” is the easy way out. Try something different, make more realistic goals, and set new “resolutions” for yourself continuously throughout your life, not just once a year.

 

 

The Social Entrepreneurship Dilemma

I like doing fulfilling work. Fulfilling work to me is working for companies that are making a positive social impact in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for these types of companies in the past. But I’ve also been fortunate to work as a well-paid contractor for companies that aren’t necessarily in the social space. Almost every time, they contract work pays better. (Sometimes twice as much).

So here’s the dilemma:

How do I as a person who gets (needs) fulfilment from his work balance the potential for high income with the desire to make the world a better place? Sometimes it seems like it’s one or the other.

I understand this is a good problem to have and very much a “first world” problem. However, there’s no denying that my happiness and mental health hinges on doing impactful work.

I have gone back and forth on this issue. On the one hand I think that I should focus only on doing impactful work and not worry about the money. On the flip-side, I could work 100% contract work and spend a majority of the surplus donating to causes or investing in impact companies. Or maybe I take on contract work 50% of the time, spending the rest of my time on passion projects where I don’t have to worry about the pay?

I haven’t really found the solution. I think maybe it lies somewhere between the two extremes? Is there a perfect mix? Or is there some solution I haven’t thought of?

(Image taken by Ryan’s Well Foundation)

2 years of car ownership data

I drive a lot.

I have the typical North American mindset about car ownership: I never really think about how much it costs, I approach driving as a “necessity” and that “it costs what it costs”. But a recent post by Chad Kohalyk on his 2 years of OGO Carshare data made me stop and think: “wait, what DOES driving cost me? I’ve always heard that car ownership costs Canadians $9000+ a year. Thats a lot of money. There’s no way I’m spending that, am I? I drive a small economical car but it can’t cost that much, can it? Can it!?”

Well lets ask the data.

Before going into that, I need to explain what a majority of my driving is. Very little of my driving is work-related since I work remotely. Most of my driving aside from the basics like grocery shopping, etc would be considered “recreational”. I drive to things like running clinics and community events in the evenings. I spend a lot of my weekends at places like the ski hill or on hiking trails. Its not unusual for me to drive 5 hours round-trip on a Saturday for a backcountry ski day or epic hike in the rockies. I drive to visit my family in Edmonton a couple of times a year, a round-trip trip of 2000km. In short, I log a lot of recreational highway distance.  I also live ~20km out of town so even going to a coffee shop is a round trip of 40km.  Also: I just like to drive. I like the freedom. If there’s a group of us going somewhere, I’m usually the one to drive.

So back to the data.

Luckily I track all of my fuel-ups in Fuelly so it’s pretty easy to extract cost data. In 2014 I drove 30,821km for a total spend of $6462. In 2015 I upped the distance to almost 39,000km for a cost of $7443. Holy crap, that’s a lot of money! However, its still within the range that Canadians spend on a car of similar size.

 

mileage

 

*Routine maintenance is oil changes, batteries, tires. Unexpected maintenance is the sudden failure of a part or anything outside of the expected life of a part. Depreciation is an estimate based on Kelly Black book and CanadaTrader values.

Going forward

I need to drive less. It’s that simple. Thats pretty much the only cost left for me top optimize. I’m pretty diligent about my driving technique to keep fuel mileage as high as possible. I do a lot of the car maintenance myself. My car is paid off and is one of the most economical AWD small cars on the road There’s not much to optimize aside from distance

On that note, I hope to move into the city within the next year and that should cut down a lot on the distance to the grocery store, errands and coffee shops. Being within walking/biking distance will be huge. I hope this will reduce my mileage by 5-10,000km per year. Aside from that, I do find a lot of joy in weekend trips,  but maybe I could optimize by having others drive or taking advantage of closer options. And one day I hope to become a member of a service like OGO Carshare to eliminate the need for a car for the “20km radius from home” trips.

[Race Report] Frosty 50k, 2015

Before

I’ve been trail running since March of this year and have completed several “mountain” 25km runs but had never done a 50km. I had made it a goal this year to run a 50 but wasn’t really sure which race to do. It was while I was on a training run in Manning park that I had learned about the Frosty Mountain 50k. At first I was a little apprehensive about the elevation gain but after looking at the other 50k options in Western Canada, it seemdd about on par. I ramped up my training times and distance in addition to joining a trail running clinic to get advice on making the jump from 25k to 50. In addition to the races I worked up to a long runs of around 5 hours. I also pre-ran both halves of the course on two sepeprate weekends so I would know what to expect

Race day

I slept really well considering the nervousness I had felt all week. The temperature outside was perfect, 10C (10F) at 7am and no signs of rain. Perfect. I’m know to be an over-packer (over-prepared?) so I proceeded to go through my running pack and move some of the “in-case” items  to the drop bag. I kept the hiking poles in my pack and filled up my water and was out the door.

We drove the 2km from Manning Park lodge to the start and I went through my gear once more.  While I’m not one for peer pressure, I had a look around to see how other people were geared up. I was glad to see most people wearing shorts, compression socks and long sleeve shirts, since that was my choice for the day. I didn’t see anyone with hiking poles so I threw those into my drop bag (which I kind of regret since they don’t eight a lot and are great for the alpine).  Looking around I had the biggest pack by far. I was actually surprised at how little some people had but I guess if you know the course and are confident in your training an aid stations, you can get away with that. Being my first 50k, & going into the alpine in late September, I wanted to have a little extra food and clothing just in case.  This being my first, I brought a lot of “just in-cases” but still don’t feel like I over-packed. I had run with that load on my self-supported runs and was happy with my choices.

IMG_20150919_075638

 

Starting Off

We lined up, and at the count of 3 were off and running. Since it was my first 50, I took it very slow and found my spot near the back of the pack. One thing everyone had said about the race was to not overdo the beginning since the elevation gain was so significant. I found a couple of people to chat with and settled in at around a 6min/k pace which was probably faster than I would have run solo. The first 2.5k was pretty flat so everyone just cruised along. But at the first hill the group broke up quite a bit and spread out. I found my temp and just plugged along and the Suunto showed a 6:15 finish time (I was shooting for 7-8hrs). The first section of the trail follows the final stretch of the PCT (Pacific Crest trail) and we saw quite a few backpackers coming down. I wondered to myself if any of them were in their final hour of a 2 month (or longer hike) from the southern US. That an entirely different endurance challenge in it’s own right.

14km – Breaking above the tree line

At 7km we hit the first aid station, a hike-in one that was fairly simple. I haven’t really figured out what to do at these stations so I just kind of stare at the selections and if my body craves anything I go for it.( In hindsight I should have more of a plan but I’ll get to that later) It was still early in the race and I had my own food so I had a couple of pretzel sticks and kept going. I was feeling great, and the trail levelled out and rolled through a mixed forest full of fall colours. As the trail gained elevation, the pack dispersed and I was running without anyone ahead or behind me for quite some distance. This is the part I enjoy about trail running the most. You can bask in solitude and the sounds of your breathing/steps but you do feel like you aren’t all alone if something goes awry. As the trail gained altitude it broke above tree line and became a rocky exposed slope. I had never run this side of Frosty before (our training run was an out and back on the Lightning Lake side) so I was actually quite surprised at how technical the trail got near the top. By now the  racers in front were visible again and at a walking pace clambering up the rocks to the summit. Mt Frosty was shrouded in mist and there was a cool wind coming down from the top. This is not a place I would want to be caught in during bad weather, so I was glad I had brought extra clothing (even if I didn’t need to use it). At the high point of the race, people were posing for photos in front of the signpost, so I snapped a quick photo and was on my way back down.

Nearing the course high point: 2310m / 7600 ft
Nearing the course high point: 2310m / 7600 ft

Km 17-27 Back to reality, Oh, there goes gravity.
At this point I mentioned to another racer (who had run in previous years) that I was glad the hard climb was over. His response was despite Skyline being 400m less elevation gain, its the harder of the two because it just keeps going and going. In my training runs I had run Skyline (on fresh legs) so I kind of dismissed this as his personal opinion, but in hindsight it was ominus foreshadowing (more later). He was having IT band issues so I thanked him for the tips and was on my way. After about 300m of rocks, it was back on the dirt trail and I picked up the pace on the rolling decent. The rolling trail through the subalpine made for a really great running. This was singletrack at its finest.. The smells, the colors, the downhill, it all jived. My watch said 19km and I felt like I could run another 100. The km flew by and before I knew it, I was at the 30km aid station. I did the usual “stare at the choices, grab some of this n that” (pretzels and coke this time) and was on my way. I picked up the pace but after a few close calls with some roots (catching myself just in time to prevent a faceplant), I decided to slow it down a bit. On the way down, there were a few openings in the tress and I glanced over at the Skyline ridge across the valley. “See you in an a couple hours” I thought to myself. After 3:45 I popped out at the 27km aid station which is bascially at the start/finish line of the race. Out of the wilderness and back into reality. The volunteer were super shipper and my girlfriend was there with my drop bag all ready to go in addition to a turkey/bacon/brie sandwich. “So what have you been up to the past 4 hours?” I asked her. I was in great spirits and actually took some time to chat while I ate and got organized for the 2nd half. The last thing I wanted to do was rush through everything and do something dumb like forget my food. I topped up my water, mixed my electrolyte mix, grabbed my second food supply from the drop bag and ditched the running tights I had carried to the top and back. A peck on the cheek and I was off again, at the 3:49 mark.

On Life’s purpose

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”

-Leo Rosten

Life Goals Revisted

I decided to go through my life goals from 1999 post and re-evaluate how I would rank those 14 years later. I created 4 categories: Will Do, Probably, Maybe, and Unlikely. Note: this is not a list of today’s goals, merely a re-categorization of the old list.

Will do
Climbing in Skaha

  1. Drive Across Canada
  2. Visit all 11 provinces and 52 states
  3. Visit New Zealand and Australia
  4. Spend at least 3 weeks in Australia
  5. Run in a marathon
  6. Engineer an innovative software product under my company name
  7. Invent a product under my name
  8. Visit the pyramids of Egypt
  9. Visit the Eiffel tower
  10. Bike down a ski-hill in summer
  11. Learn Ice Climbing
  12. Circumnavigate the globe
  13. Watch a building be demolished (from afar)
  14. Drive a float in a parade

Probably will do

  1. Earn a degree
  2. Bike across Canada
  3. Write a book
  4. Build a house on a mountain. (actually BUILD the house)
  5. Live on the coast (beachfront) for at least 2 months
  6. Run a 5 minute mile
  7. Run the Jasper-Banff relay
  8. Fly a glider
  9. Teach at a college
  10. Visit Buzludzha

Might do

  1. Get commercial pilots license and become IFR rated
  2. Reach the North pole
  3. Hike the continental divide trail
  4. Participate in Rally and Ice racing
  5. Go scuba diving
  6. Live in a houseboat for at least 2 months
  7. Learn French
  8. Go bungee jumping
  9. Go sky diving
  10. View mount Everest by helicopter

Highly unlikely / off the radar

  1. Land a bush plane on a gravel bar (obviously I was a lot more into aviation 13 years ago)
  2. Fly a Hercules
  3. Fly a 747
  4. Teach a child to walk (I rememeber putting this one in just to score points with my grandma)
  5. Meet the prime minister (meh)
  6. Release a CD (DJ Daryl?)
  7. Meet the pope (again, put this in for someone else, not me)
  8. Visit Disneyland (no interest. at all)

Done

  1. Fly across Canada
  2. Go rappelling
  3. Rock Climbing
  4. Hike/Bike signal mountain
  5. Learn CPR
  6. Teach the world what I know
  7. Appear on TV
  8. Make a speech or interview on the radio

Life Goals (from 1999)

I typed this way back in 1999 at the innocent age of 23. Some of these are embarrassing but I’m going to post it anyway, crossing off the (few) that I’ve done.

1. Visit Grand Canyon
2. Drive Across Canada
3. Visit all 11 provinces and 52 states
4. Visit New Zealand and Australia
5. Spend at least 3 weeks in Australia
6. Earn a degree
7. Get commercial pilots license and become IFR rated
8. Fly across Canada
9. Reach the North pole
10. Hike the continental divide trail
11. Bike across Canada
12. Land a bush plane on a gravel bar
13. Release a CD
14. Write a book
15. Run in a marathon
16. Participate in Rally and Ice racing
17. Go scuba diving
18. Build a house on a mountain. (actually BUILD the house)
19. Live in a houseboat for at least 2 months
20. Live on the coast (beachfront) for at least 2 months
21. Engineer an innovative software product under my company name
22. Invent a product under my name
23. Visit the pyramids of Egypt
24. Visit the Eiffel tower
25. Learn French
26. Fly a glider
27. Run a 5 minute mile
28. Run the Jasper-Banff relay
29. Go rappelling
30. Learn Ice & Rock Climbing
31. Bike down a ski-hill in summer and in winter
32. Go bungee jumping
33. Go sky diving
34. Teach at a college
35. Circumnavigate the globe
36. Teach a child to walk
37. Watch a building be demolished (from afar)
38. Meet the prime minister
39. Meet the pope
40. Hike/Bike signal mountain
41. View mount Everest by helicopter
42. Learn CPR
43. Fly a Hercules
44. Fly a 747
45. Teach the world what I know
46. Visit Disneyland
47. Appear on TV
48. Make a speech or interview on the radio
49. Participate in a parade (drive a float)