It’s Still Procrastination

I screwed up. My wife and I set a 6-month challenge for the end of 2020 to work on projects that matter to us. And we set an aggressive reward for ourselves if we succeeded.

My challenge was to write an average of 2 blog posts per week between this site and my homebrewing site over at Totally realistic to be able to accomplish this, but I allowed myself to get distracted.

Excuses, Excuses . . .

Snowboarding is both the goal of staying in shape, but can also be a distraction from other goals.

It’s easy to come up with justifications for why I didn’t keep up with writing two posts per week. When I had time in the mornings or evenings, it was easy to justify spending time talking to my wife about what happened or plans for the day. She matters to me, and I love spending time with her, so it’s easy to think, “I can work on my project later or tomorrow.”

Some evenings after work, I just didn’t want to think hard enough to come up with an article, so it was easy to tell myself I’d do it after I relaxed by playing a video game. But rather than stopping after the hour I told myself would be my limit, it would be time to go to bed when I stopped.

On days when I was ready to do some work, I would decide to work on the blog posts and videos . . . after I did some job searching. And that would consume the rest of my time until I started making dinner and/or spending time with my family.

And on weekdays, it was easy to say that I would work on my projects on the weekend. But when the weekend rolled around, especially now that there’s snow at the ski resort, it was easy to find things to do instead of working on the projects that were my goals.

Motivated Procrastination

I don’t know that ‘motivated procrastination’ is a thing, but it is definitely how I feel about my choices to do other things besides working on this blog and my homebrewing site. If I think a task is important to someone in my family, I tend to make that a higher priority than things for myself.

Another aspect of my motivated procrastination is fear of what others will think of my creation. I expect what I produce to be as good as it’s possible to be. When I know there will be some errors in my presentation or wording, it’s easy to just shut myself down before I start. Not only does this prevent me from sharing what I want to say, it prevents me from improving both my presentation and my writing.

Learn and Move On

Suddenly, mid-December I realized I had a lot of work to do to catch up. And my wife, while being loving, understanding, and patient started to openly comment about my freak out and continued procrastination.

There’s a Difference Between Knowing and Knowing

I know the concepts of time management, discipline, and how to do work. I work hard when I’m working on projects for others and my employer(s). But I didn’t fully internalize that knowledge to apply to projects for myself.

Dangerous Behavior

Putting other peoples’ needs and priorities over my own is both positive and negative. On the positive side, there are times where people truly need my help and I am able to help them accomplish their goals to improve their lives. But the negative side of that can lead down the road to becoming an enabler, co-dependent, or just giving up on my wants and falling down the pit of martyrdom.

Focus on Yourself

One of the things this experience has taught me is that it’s OK to focus on my wants and needs, and to verbalize them so others are aware of them, too. Not only does this help establish boundaries so that I can carve out time to work on my projects without making them feel like I’m neglecting them.

Some people may say, “But the world doesn’t revolve around you.” Trust me, I am aware of that, and I do not think my personality would allow me to focus solely on my wants and needs while neglecting the wants and goals of those around me. My natural tendency, as I talked above, is to suppress my wants in service others, especially those who are important to me.

But by neglecting my wants and goals, I am not living the life I’m meant to live. My goals are to inspire people to live better lives, and incorporate the activities they love into their life, especially as we get older.

While I may not reach thousand or millions of people with that message, I hope I can share my experiences and help someone make time to do things they love and live a more joyful life. Maybe it’s conceited of me to think I can inspire others to change their life, but seeing people give up things they love just because they’re not in their 20s anymore makes me sad.

And by neglecting this blog, in particular, I’m not even giving myself the chance to connect with people who need to hear this message.

So, whether you dream about snowboarding, running, biking, or getting in better shape, let yourself get after it. #DoHardStuffLiveBetter

Why You Need a Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover book

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many businesses, many households lived paycheck-to-paycheck. This Forbes article from 2019 states 78% of workers are barely covering their monthly expenses, while this article from January 2020 cites Nielsen data stating 74%.

If you’re one of those families or individuals, I cannot recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover strongly enough. Its combination of instruction and inspiring stories allowed me to partner with my wife Brandy and make strides toward financial health.

Our Journey Begins

Back in 2005, my wife finally got me to acknowledge the fact our income wasn’t covering our outgo. I had ignored her pleas to get on a plan, pay off debts smallest to largest, and spend less than we made. Even though she had found several financial experts recommending these steps and laid out the reasoning, I was too stubborn to acknowledge my “we’ll be ok,” platitudes were just making things worse.

To be honest, part of me didn’t think it was possible to pay off our debt, and I didn’t want to accept I would have to change my perspective about money and income. People I respected had made statements along the lines of, “You’re lucky credit cards are so easy to get, compared to when I was your age,” and “You just have to get used to living in debt. It’s the only way to get by.”

The Worst Part

It still hurts my heart that it took so long for me to change because every discussion Brandy and I had about money resulted in one or both of us in tears. The person I loved most wound up frustrated, scared, and insecure because I wasn’t willing to acknowledge how poor our finances were.

The Catalyst

One Friday we were driving around and Dave Ramsey’s radio show came on. I know it was Friday because back in 2005, Fridays weren’t just Fridays. They were Debt-Free Fridays! It was a 3-hour show of people calling in to scream “I’m debt free!

If you’re in debt and feel like you can’t even make progress, please go watch some of these people who started where you are and got out of debt. And then start your journey.

Embracing the Plan

The Total Money Makeover book

Even though Dave Ramsey’s plan was the same plan Brandy tried to get me to embrace years before, I finally bought in. I had reached the place where it hurt less to change than it hurt to stay where I was; don’t wait as long as I did.

Don’t Confuse Simple and Easy

Like most plans that work, Dave’s 7 Baby Steps are simple. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement.

Living on a budget (or spending plan) is not easy. But it’s worth it. I have more wants than income, even when our income was better than it is now. I’m pretty sure that will never stop. Whatever level of income I achieve in the future, there will always be things and experiences that could use up all my money and still leave items on my list.

It’s NOT Just about the Money

When we paid off all of our consumer debt in 2007, I didn’t realize how much it was going to change our lives because it changed my mindset. Since our income wasn’t just paying debts, we had options. And options are really what money gives you.

We took a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, and when we came home, we didn’t have to worry about paying off the credit cards. We had already paid for the trip, so we were just able to enjoy the memories.

Your Life Matters

As long as your finances are ruled by debt payments, you may never find out what your real options in life are. I know I’ve been too focused on just getting through the next week or two that I don’t look far enough ahead to tell if the path to get through the next two weeks is taking me to where I want to be in six months or next year.

It’s even more critical now. Getting to September of 2020 has shown us what kind of uncertainty is waiting in life. My last full-time employed position was eliminated in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting.

Because Brandy and I had eliminated our consumer debt in 2007, we were able to follow through on a plan we discussed in February. We sold our house and used the equity to move cross-country to the mountains as we’ve dreamed about since 1998.

If we had any debt payments, we would not have had the option to pursue this dream. Especially in the circumstances where we don’t have steady income.

Don’t Give Up

Please don’t get too locked in to short-term survival. While it’s necessary to get through right now, you need to be able to look at the future. You need to see where you’re going; not just to make sure you’re moving in the right direction, but because your destination should be inspiring.

If you’re struggling with finances, you need a Total Money Makeover like I did. The secret is: it’s not the money that gets made over, it’s your mind.

Do hard stuff. Live Better. Share your victory story with me on Twitter with the hashtag #DoHardStuffLiveBetter.

The Danger of “They Won’t Pay Me What I’m Worth”

I saw a post the other day that made me angry. I couldn’t tell why right away, but as my brain has chewed on it, it’s become clear that the reason is because it’s something I’ve thought as a job searcher. And it’s the flip side of one of the main concerns of a business owner.

In a Facebook group dedicated to one of my hobbies, someone made a post that said in summary, “I have been doing this hobby for years, and I have experience in this closely related industry. But I put my application in for an entry-level position at a business in the industry that is my hobby. They told me I was overqualified for this position, but that just means they won’t pay me what I’m worth.”

As someone who has been looking for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also as someone who has run a business, I can relate to both sides of this. As the job seeker, you need to believe you are as valuable as possible. However, if you apply for a job significantly below your experience level and expect to be paid for your expertise, you are not respecting the job description created by your prospective employer.

When you run a business, there are many things that need to be done. Some of them are complex and require knowledge, experience, and expertise. Others are entry-level jobs that you can pull nearly anyone from the street and have them fulfilling the duties with 30-60 minutes of training.

Those entry-level jobs are where you will get people applying who are “overqualified for the position.” But you can only pay what that position is worth to your business. It doesn’t matter if you have the world’s leading expert in a different position, you only need someone to fill the position you advertised.

As a job seeker, you want to believe you are so amazing that when you apply for a job, your value should be instantly recognizable and you should be paid what you think you are worth, regardless of what you applied for. But the job seeker needs to accept they are not applying for the job worth their knowledge, they are applying for the job that was advertised.

If you want to accept that job, at its lower pay than you want, you better actually be OK with that pay for that job. Because if you go into the interview expecting you’re going to get more than the advertised rate, it’s going to be clear. And your prospective employer isn’t looking for the job you want, they’re looking for someone to do what they need.

Looking to switch career fields can be a valid reason to take a lower pay rate. But you need to actually be OK with that. You can’t resent the fact you accepted a lower position to get experience and work your way up.

But the danger with thinking, “They won’t pay me what I’m worth,” is that you are not looking at reality. You are projecting your wants onto a prospective employer and expecting them to accommodate you. But they just need someone to fulfill a specific task.

When an employer tells you that you are overqualified for a position, they’re being honest. You are overqualified for the position. And you probably showed an unwillingness to work the position they advertised during the interview process.

If you want to get your foot in the door, be happy with that. Don’t expect to be paid for an advanced position that isn’t what you will be doing. You need to do your job and look for opportunities to increase your value to the business. Then you will start to get paid what you’re worth.

So, when a prospective employer tells you, “You’re overqualified for this position,” accept that statement as truth. But you have the option of responding with, “I understand that, but I want to get in to this industry. I’m willing to work this job to get started.”

And trust me, if you’re serious, the employer knows you’re not planning to stay in that position long.

Unreasonable Expectations

A Perfect Sunset

“Nobody’s perfect.”

We’ve all said this, and I think we all agree with this. Most of the time.

When someone we care about faces a challenge and doesn’t make the perfect choice, we offer this statement as encouragement. They should be extended grace, allowed to learn from the experience, move forward, and make the changes they want to make.

Part of being human seems to be looking for exceptions to the rules. And sometimes we want those exceptions to be held accountable for their imperfection.

A Perfect Sunset
As you can see, this isn’t a perfect photo. But the moment was pretty awesome.


The most damaging tendency, I think, is to deny ourselves the grace we readily extend to others. “It is perfectly reasonable to expect myself to be perfect. I’m different. I know what needs to be done and if I don’t do it, it’s obviously a flaw within myself that must be punished.”

But what if we were just a little bit nicer to ourselves?

Fitness & Other Goals

I am active in several fitness groups, and frequently see posts along the lines of, “I am a failure. I missed this one part of my goal because life happened. I think I should just give up.”

When I see these posts, I understand the thought process. I’ve read books that discuss how simple it is to implement a workout program: you decide to get in better shape, you pick a program, and you do it. It’s simple.

But simple is not the same as easy. It is simple to get fit, but the reality of the process is not easy. Some days I don’t want to work out; some days emergencies happen and I legitimately don’t have time; some I days I waste time and claim I didn’t have time.

Likewise, financial, life, and relationship goals are attainable. There are books and experts that have the information we need to achieve those goals, and they’re laid out in a simple way.

What Should We Do?

I think we have to be willing to accept the facts we’re not perfect, and we will make mistakes. And we are still valuable.

The advice I give to people discouraged by their mistakes is pretty simple: “Give yourself some grace. Accept the fact you screwed up, but keep moving toward your goal. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. Some days or weeks, you will make lots of progress. Others, you may not make much; or you may have made a mistake that takes you further from your goal. But don’t give up.”

By not giving up, you are not confusing grace with enabling misbehavior in yourself. As long as you put in effort, you will make progress. Pay attention to which efforts give you the progress you want.

It’s Still Not Easy

Progress is hard. That’s why we don’t all have everything we want. We confuse simple with quick and easy.

It’s easy to look at that far off goal and put off the effort to make that progress we need. I wanted to procrastinate tonight. I had a whole line of justifications, and I would have done it. But my wife loved me enough to call me on it.

I want things to be better, and wants aren’t enough to make things better. I have to put in the effort. And sometimes that is a simple concept, but hard in reality.


Effort > Results

sweat puddles
Little puddles of effort

I’ve noticed I spend a lot of time looking at other peoples’ results. This isn’t a bad thing, looking at what others have accomplished and thinking about whether they got results I want in my life.

There are a lot of results I do want: more money, the ability to accomplish amazing feats, the confidence to hammer out coherent text from a jumble of thoughts and inspiration. And it’s easy to sit in that place of want, where I see what they accomplished and wish I could do that.

But it’s hard to look at all the effort it took for them to be able to do that. Watching professional snowboarders fly through the air while spinning and flipping and effortlessly ride away is almost an insult to them. We get to see the end result, the effortless-ness, and be amazed at their skill.

Part of my brain tells me, “That looked easy. We can do that.” And that part of brain wants to go try.

The truth, though, is that I haven’t put in the effort. My body hasn’t built up the right muscles, my brain hasn’t learned the minute adjustments needed to get my body to move that way, and my fear of heights hasn’t been beaten into submission so it doesn’t lock me up the instant I leave the lip of the jump.

And the effort is necessary. The hundreds of repetitions required to understand how my body behaves; the pain of all the wipeouts when I get it wrong; the small victories that build one on another until success. They’re all necessary; but I’ve been too impatient to follow all the way through the learning process. I just want the result.

But I’m changing that. I’m embracing the effort. Well . . . embracing might be a little strong. At least I’m making the effort.

Effort is greater than results. Because when we just focus on the result, that’s the end. No more progress, no more learning, no more effort.

But if we focus on putting in effort, the possibilities are endless. When we put in effort, we get results. And then we get more results. As long as we keep putting in effort, we can tweak our effort to get the results we want.

But we have to put in effort.

EFFORT > results

How a Dog and a Story Made Me Like Running

Dog balloon Miss Jazz
Miss Jazzy the Husky

I hated running.

I’ve never been good at it, I dreaded any time it showed up in a workout. And, to be honest, I tended to skip those workouts.

Really . . . I HATED running. I can’t stress that enough, I barely tolerated it occasionally.

Life Changes, whether You Want It or Not

Jazz and Buddy wrestling
They look vicious, but it was obvious they were playing.

About six months after Jazz was adopted by my mother-in-law, my wife and I got Buddy, a mini Australian shepherd. We were terrified when they first met, because Jazz was so much bigger. But from the start, they played like littermates and had a bond we can’t explain.

Then we inherited #MissJazzyTheHusky. Jazz moved in to our lives and we made room. But if you’ve been around huskies, you know they aren’t afraid to sass you if you aren’t fulfilling their needs. If we didn’t let her be active enough, she let us know. There was one evening where she basically overrode the TV with her adorable, skull-vibrating sounds.

We noticed on days she was active, she was calmer in the evening. So . . . running. Really?!

MissJazzyTheHusky and Buddy - best friends
Friends since puppy-hood. Don’t let their calmness lull you into a false sense of security.

Reasons Pile Up

In addition to the fact Jazz needed to be worn out, I needed to improve my fitness level. But I dreaded running.

In one of the fitness groups I participate in, I heard people talking about Zombies, Run! as something enjoyable to listen to while running.

Gamify Your Fitness

Zombies, Run! initial mission list
You have to start somewhere.

By the time I finished the trial period, I was hooked on the story of a small community(Abel Township) trying to survive the Zombie apocalypse. Not only was the story compelling, there was enough gamification to keep me going to build my own virtual city.

I love the fact that Zombies, Run! allows you to exercise and track your distances in a couple different ways. When you have access to trails, roads, and open spaces to run, the GPS on your phone can track your speed and distance. Or you can set a constant pace if you are using treadmills, exercise bikes, or other stationary machines. You can also set your stride length and let it calculate distances based on step counts.

Real World Community and Introspection

And the community is really cool, too. Some people use the app while they are riding their bikes, walking, or doing many other activities.

Over time, running taught me a lot about myself. When I am really struggling, I came to appreciate the simplicity of the challenge: just keep going. Running doesn’t require a bunch of special gear, just a decent pair of shoes and a leash for Jazz.

I reached a point where the hardest challenge of running is deciding to go do it. And now that challenge is fading.

But running is hard. It forces you keep pushing when your brain is telling you to give up. It allows you to learn the difference between when your body is really done and when it’s just uncomfortable.

My New Attitude

Now I am thankful for running. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and through the loss of my job, running has become a place that is both peaceful and brings me peace that carries into times I’m not running.

Especially on days when stress and worry rise up like a pair of bullies, the challenge and focus of running seems to drain the power of stress and worry. At the same time, I feel like I am more able to recognize the lies that stress and worry try to use to drive me into panic and apathy.

There are still times it’s hard to lace up my shoes and head out the door, but I know it’s not just for me. Jazz is waiting. I gotta go hit the trails, and save Abel Township.

Raise the gates! (If you want to know, you have to play.)

My total statistics from Zombies, Run!
Not bad . . .

Why ‘Your Cloud’ is Better Than THE Cloud

Western Digital MyCloud EX2

Changing Expectations

2020 has been a year of changes, that’s for sure. Back in February, we had no idea what was in store. In a matter of weeks, our home networks shifted from something we used for interacting with friends on social media, game networks, and for streaming entertainment to our new workplace.

Working from home has added several challenges to our lives. We may not have the same bandwidth we did at the office, our data may not be more vulnerable to loss or corruption since our work computers aren’t getting backed up the same way.

Losing Data Happens . . . but Not as Much as in the Past

If you’ve been working with computers for any length of time, you’ve lost data. Back in the day, floppy disks would just be totally corrupted one day. Sometimes Norton rescue saved your butt; usually you were simply out of all the time and work you spent on that report.

Things got a little better when personal computers had hard drives.

But hard drives still fail. I mean, you can go for years without a hiccup, then one day you’re just out of luck. Everything on that drive is just gone. I’ve been in a few situations where I’ve been able to use my geekery and another system to recover some of the data, but those times are usually the exception, not the rule.

Now high-speed internet service is so ubiquitous that most major operating systems try to save everything to “the cloud” so that you can access it from any device. Whether we’re talking about Apple’s iCloud drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive, many programs default to saving documents onto a folder out on the Internet.

Using the Internet as a limitless storage device has a lot of benefits: your data is always being backed up and is stored away from both your network and your computer. If your computer dies, information saved to the cloud is still available; likewise in case your house is destroyed and nothing can be recovered.

Sounds Too Good to be True . . .

You’re right, it does. There are some problems with different implementations of cloud storage.

  • My wife’s iPad saves everything to the cloud. There is no local copy, which is fine . . . as long as she always has Internet service. But we moved recently and spent a month without Internet, so there were a few projects she had saved that she couldn’t work on unless she went somewhere with public Wi-Fi. Mid-2020, most of the locations we usually went were not allowing people to hang around due to concerns about spreading COVID-19.
  • Photographers, videographers, and anyone working with large files knows working with them on the cloud is painfully slow. It takes time to upload and then re-download the files when you need to work with them.

There is a Middle Ground

Western Digital MyCloud EX2

A few years ago, we purchased a network-attached-storage device (NAS), specifically the Western Digital MyCloud EX2. It was relatively easy to set up, and gives us redundancy to protect our data. There are two hard drives in the device, so we have it configured for them to be mirrored. This means the exact same data is written to both drives so we can access it even if one of the drives fail. The downside of this configuration is that the advertised size of our unit got cut in half: we purchased a 4 TB unit but since we’re mirroring the drives, we only have 2 TB of usable storage.

This kind of protection used to be so prohibitively expensive only larger businesses could afford this kind of setup. Now its price point is a few hundred dollars and is simple enough most people could set the unit up themselves and protect their data.

Now, not only are you getting the redundancy provided by backing up to the cloud, you are getting the much faster performance of your local network. Most users don’t notice, but the Wi-Fi and ethernet connections of your home network are probably orders of magnitude faster than your connection to the Internet. This allows you to work with large files on your local network and still have some data protection in place.

But I’m not Always Home!

So you’ve got a great NAS set up at home and it’s great for working on stuff when you’re home. But you’re not always home, right? What if you’re at the coffee shop, or on vacation, or at your office? What then?!

Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered for those situations, too. The NAS devices I’ve looked at allow you to install an app on your computer or device that will connect you to the drive when you’re at home, and by signing up with their service, the app will create a connection back to the device in your home so you can access files on the fly.

What About a Disaster?!

So you probably remember me talking about how using the cloud is beneficial in case your computer dies or your house is destroyed and you can’t recover anything. The “what if your house is destroyed” concern is valid, since that is where we keep our NAS so it’s useful to us.

Most NAS devices allow you configure off-site backups to happen on a schedule so your data is also backed up to the cloud in case of a disaster. These usually require an account with a service that allows inexpensive storage space, like Amazon Web Services, Elephant Drive, or other services.

These backups are not real-time, meaning that they are synchronized every time a file changes, they are run on a schedule you determine. It’s not going to protect everything, but this gives you the ability to make sure important things are available, redundant and off-site.

So What Do You Buy?!

If I’ve convinced you that you need a NAS for your home or small office, here are a few options for you. These are units I’ve either used personally or know someone who has and they’ve worked well for us.

Single-Drive NAS Devices

I do not recommend these. There is no redundancy to help protect your data. It’s just one hard drive attached to your network, and if it fails, it’s just like the drive on your computer failing.

2-Drive NAS Devices

Western Digital My Cloud EX2 Ultra – The ‘Ultra’ is the progression of the model since we purchased ours. Like I said, it’s easy to use and configure. You can set up multiple users and grant access to some areas only to some users. It comes with two drives of the same capacity, so if you want redundancy, you only have mirroring as your option. So buy the model with twice as much storage as you think you need.

Multi-Bay NAS Devices

These are devices that support more than 2 drives. Once you get to 3 drive bays, you have lots more options for data redundancy. The main benefit being that while you still lose one drive’s capacity to redundancy, it’s no longer 50% of the total capacity. Once you go down this road, however, you will need to involve someone who is comfortable with advanced computer topics.

Multi-bay devices also tend to get noisier when they are being heavily used. Ideally, your NAS, router and other network equipment could be isolated in a closet or little-used room where the noise will not be noticed.

When ordering, you will need to make sure you purchase storage drives. These models tend to be sold as the base, and you add the drives that give you the total storage and redundancy you want.

Western Digital My Cloud Pro – This is the business version of my unit. A simple user interface/dashboard makes this unit behave similarly to the smaller unit I have at home, which could allow someone with less advanced knowledge to set up and configure the device.

Synology DiskStation – Synology was one of the first NAS brands I remember hearing fellow computer geeks talk about. They are known for their quality, stability, and ability to be upgraded more than other brands. Some models allow you to purchase additional RAM to increase performance or have solid-state drives(SSD) for frequently-used files to further increase performance.

I’ve heard good things about Buffalo TeraStation as well, haven’t directly used them or known anyone who has. But they have a good reputation, so I’m sure their unit is solid.

Level Up Your Network

Give yourself a little more peace of mind about your work. My NAS has allowed me to off-load large video files until I’m ready to work with them, and it’s nice to know the drives are redundant in case there is a problem with one of them.

Inexpensive Technology to Improve Your Video Calls

Or ‘Is it worth $10 to get a stable Zoom call?’

Ethernet Cable
I know it’s not sexy, but it’s reliable. . .

What if I told you there was one simple thing you could do to minimize dropped or garbled video calls?

You know what I’m talking about. Now that you’re working from home, video conferencing is happening all the time. Everything seems fine until you’re in the middle of the call and suddenly it sounds like you’re at a Daft Punk concert. Or you’re in the middle of a discussion and  suddenly you just aren’t on the call anymore.

The problem could be your Wi-Fi. Even if you have a strong signal from your router, Wi-Fi is not the most stable connection. You could be getting sudden interference from other electronics in your house or your neighbor’s house. Or someone else on your network is uploading or downloading a huge file over the same Wi-Fi network.

I’ve found simple solutions tend to work best. So my simple, inexpensive solution is this: plug your computer into an ethernet cable. I know. I know it hurts. We bought laptops because we don’t want to be tied to a single location. But you shouldn’t be walking around on a video call, and if you’re leading it, you really don’t want to get dropped.

Set up your spot for video calls near your router so you can just run an ethernet cable to one of the ports on the back of the router  when you do video calls. My work desk has an ethernet cable right next to my laptop’s power cable. So, if I’m working in that spot, I charge my computer’s batter and use the ethernet at the same time.

Why Does this Matter?

Since Wi-Fi is cordless, it uses certain radio frequencies. If your router and your neighbor’s router are both on the same frequency, it’s kind of like two people yelling at the same bartender in a busy nightclub. The server is getting confused. They’re not sure who to be listening to and it takes longer for you and the other customer to place your order because you have to repeat yourselves over and over.

By plugging your computer directly into your router, it’s like you’re placing your order directly with their ordering system, and they just have to hand you your drink. It’s more reliable and less likely to have an error because your voice didn’t carry or the guy next to you is shouting over your order.

What if You’re Already Plugged-in?

If you are already using an ethernet cable, and you’re still getting garbled or dropped calls, your router is underpowered or is several years old and will need to be replaced.

 A few years ago, I hadn’t thought about how old our router was getting when we moved into a new house. At the same time, we added about 5 devices to our network because our kids got their own phones and laptops and suddenly everything online got slow.

Simply replacing the router with a mid-grade home router took our bandwidth speeds from less than 1 MB/s to over 10 MB/s and we had no issues from then on.

If you’re making important calls from your computer and having reliability problems, make sure you’re using the most stable connection for your computer. Get an ethernet cable.

The Price of Exuberance

Or: How My Ego Broke My Body

Yes, I’m trying to stand up straight. No, that’s not normal.

I Know Better

A few days ago, I made a distinct error in judgment. I got excited during a workout and did more than I should have. I’m human, I was having fun, and I should have skipped that last set.

To set the stage, I’ve been running regularly for over a year, in which time I’ve lost over 20 pounds and dropped to approximately 20% body fat. My body feels better than it has in a long time, and I was ready to re-introduce barbell work.

Wednesday of last week, I chose to skip my 4+ mile run and do a functional strength workout incorporating deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and jump rope. And it was glorious. Not that I set any personal bests or  did anything remarkable other than I did string together more double-unders than I expected to accomplish.

I ran on Thursday. It was a good run, and provided the things I’ve come to need from runs: the requirement to focus on the mental  challenge of running on uneven ground and the mental exhaustion that allows the negative voices in my brain to fall asleep for a while.

At Least . . . I Should Know Better

And then Friday happened. Olympic lifts are highly technical movements, and I understand the dangers of doing too much too soon. My planned workout was to do 5 sets of 5 reps of clean & jerks at 65 pounds. I felt this weight was light enough I would be able to just focus on my form and would be able to easily finish the workout without problems.

My body started sending me hints my plan was unreasonable sometime near the beginning of the third round. The muscles were more tired than I expected, but nowhere near failure.

By the end of the fourth round, my body told me it was tired, and I remember thinking, “I should be happy with this. Just put the weights away and call it a day.” But my ego and brain swindled me into thinking, “It’ll be fine. Don’t just give up because you’re a little tired. The first four sets were fine…you’ll be fine.”

So I put on one of my “pump up” songs, rested a little longer, let the music get my adrenaline start flowing, stepped up to the barbell . . . I’m not sure if I pulled too hard from the ground or caught the bar too far forward, but I dumped the bar and knew something wasn’t right.

Face Challenges with Optimism

post-lift selfie July 3, 2020
The pain hasn’t really set in yet . . . but it was there.

I instantly recognized the feeling and knew my back was in trouble. My optimism made me think it wouldn’t be too bad. But it took 4 days before I recovered enough to stand in front of the mirror to take the picture at the top of this post. It’s not as obvious in this photo, but I spent most of the weekend with my left shoulder about 3 inches lower than my right.

This is the formula for many workout injuries I’ve heard: excitement to resume being active, overconfidence in your own ability, and pushing through the signals your body sends.

Did I Screw Up?

If I had been working with a personal trainer, they would have accepted too much responsibility for this injury. Since I was on my own, reacquainting myself with movements I’ve done before, no one can take any of the responsibility from me.

It’s my fault I injured myself. I let my ego be too strong. And the price I paid was high: I’m closing in on 5 days and I can barely walk a half mile without discomfort.

When you get excited to face a challenge, remember: your brain and your ego can write checks your body can’t cash. In a state of exuberance, our judgment gets clouded and we need to be more careful about the decisions we make.

Sometimes the hardest thing is stopping. Whether it’s one more jump, one more singletrack, or one more mile running. Don’t take yourself out of the game. That price is hard to pay.