Digitally Isolated

I keep thinking about being digitally isolated.  What is “digital isolation?” In a nutshell: today we are more connected to anyone/everyone than at any point in history yet (paradoxically) we feel ever more alone. Stranger still, it seems we have chosen this as our preferred mode of existence.  There’s even a joke about it: there are nine ways to reach me on my phone without talking to me; pick one of those.

Failure to Move is the State of Paralysis

I keep returning to the idea of action (doing) over inaction (thinking). I also have been likening doing vs. thinking as similar to producing vs. consuming.   The problem with the consumption/production dichotomy is that the lines aren’t always clear as to which is which.  Sometimes you have to consume to produce.

Things I consume:

  • food/energy/time (necessary consumption)
  • blogs/books/tweets/email (some necessary, some unnecessary)
  • television (almost entirely unnecessary)

Things I produce:

  • blog posts/emails/ideas (derivative of consumption)
  • work/research/analysis (requires consumption)
  • art
  • well-being

What I mean by producing “well being” is that I create satisfaction through expending effort.  It seems that production takes effort.  I have to push my body through the mild discomforts of squatting 275 lbs. to have the satisfaction (as strange as it is) of a fatigued body.  I have to work through the mental gymnastics of writing out my thoughts to create a blog post.  I have to gather data and cajole understanding to create analysis.  It takes work.

Production has costs.

But perhaps the greatest cost of production is breaking the inertia of not doing anything at all.  Or worse still, imagining all the things you could (should) be doing but never doing any of them.  Not only does all of this low-grade effort fail to produce anything at all, it also reinforces thinking over doing.  It habitualizes inaction.  It amplifies the inertia.

This is why failure to move is the state of paralysis.  It’s a tautology, but it also boils down inaction to it’s most basic component: not doing.

I’ve  been thinking about this lately because I have so many ideas bubbling around in my head, most of which could be “big.”  And it’s that notion that these ideas have huge potential that makes me fear screwing them up.  Meanwhile, by nature of being “big,” they also have explicit costs.  I can very easily envision how much work they will take to make them succeed.  And wouldn’t you know it?  The more I think about them, the harder it becomes to act on them.

And like all productive efforts, all I have to do to break the state of paralysis is to move.

It is that simple.

How We Get Good at Something

It takes mundane, often boring, always repetitive practice. And often a whole lot of it. We learn by doing and not by thinking.

Watch this short creative take about Ira Glass’s advice on storytelling:

This strikes me as relevant to mastering any skill, and reminds me of George Leonard’s “Mastery” (a bit of a summary of Mastery can be found by Todd Becker, who prompted me to read Mastery in the first place — it’s a quick, inspiring/challenging book).

Watching that video reminds me of how I “became an artist.” I did a lot of art/cartooning as a kid and people would say to me, “You’re talented.” Being an artist was then, and still is today, looked at as some sort of “gift” bestowed from the heavens (and or my genetics). I’ve never believed this personally though.

How I became an artist was much simpler: I kept trying to copy the cartoon image of Super Mario over and over and over again, doing it better and better each time. I remember doing it 20-30 times one night for my classmates in maybe 1st grade. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was inadvertently practicing how to copy something I saw with my eyes and put it down onto paper. Without any prompting or structured learning from parents or teachers, I trained myself as a five or six year old to draw cartoons.

This is the lunchbox that made me an artist:

A vintage plastic Aladdin Super Mario Bros. Lunch box - this is exactly what I used for lunch in early elementary school.
A vintage plastic Aladdin Super Mario Bros. Lunch box - this is exactly what I used for lunch in early elementary school.

This is how we learn: practice, perseverance, stumbling, and trial and error.

Back at it.

After an insanely long blogging hiatus, I’ve finally initiated a sitewide “upgrade:” I’m giving up on my old blogging platform (b2evolution, sorry buddy, we had some good times …) and have officially switched over to WordPress.  I’ve also picked up a shiny new WordPress theme via fellow Atlantan and friend John Saddington of TentBlogger.

I’m working on migrating all the old b2evo posts over to WordPress (hoping to enlist some help via a b2evo guru), so bear with me as I undergo this process.

In the meantime, here are a few things that I’m playing with:

  • BirthdayShoes.com — my overtly, bizarrely barefoot shoe fan site continues to grow as the minimalist footwear, barefoot running, and toe shoe movements ripple outward.  If I could just find the time to keep up with all the reviews I need to do!
  • Google — This is my dayjob here in the ATL.  Lately, I’ve been either researching the retail industry or playing with Google+ (Feel free to add me though if I don’t add you back, it’s probably because I’m having a hard time realizing who you are, so be sure to get my attention somehow).
  • Parenting — Do I really need to elaborate on this one?  Our youngest daughter is almost 2 and quite a handful.  Tack on the fact we recently moved into a house we bought in May and Sonal is pregnant (16 weeks today!) and life is busy.  Here’s Avi a few days ago telling me what to do!  The nerve . . . Stay right here, Daddy!
  • OEM Human (.com) This site is still extremely “beta.”  Hmm … maybe more “alpha.”  Anyway, this is a project I’ve had simmering on the backburner of my mind for at least a year now.  If you’re curious about it, be sure to sign up for the email subscription.
  • LeanGains — Been doing LeanGains for almost a year now.  Hope to post about the program soon.  Geez can’t believe it’s been almost a year.
  • Been quite interested in the impact of flavors on body set(ling)point per the works for Seth Roberts, Stephan Guyenet, and Todd Becker.
  • Recent reads include Beyond Brawn, The Brain that Changes Itself (awesome book), and most recently, Moonwalking with Einstein.
Hope to start posting more often here.  The blog needed a good reboot.  Here’s hoping this sticks.

The Game-Changer

It’s been quiet here on the site lately as the game has changed. I’m four weeks into fatherhood, and those four weeks feel more like ten.

I’ve been trying to come up with an easy way to explain to others what being a new parent is like. It’s an emotional roller coaster. Living with a nooborn is like setting a kitchen timer on a two to three hour schedule that never stops resetting. Change a diaper, feed, comfort, put baby to sleep, knock a few things out around the house, rinse, repeat. It does not stop.

And there are the fussy times when you lose confidence in your ability to parent — can I soothe this baby? Maybe mother can try. Maybe this will work. Maybe not. These times make me realize just how little I’ve appreciated my own parents (Thank you mom and dad!).

And then there are the moments where she grins from ear to ear or unequivocally meets your eyes with hers. The pride and joy that springs from these moments is profound.

Everyone tells you “your life [as you know it] is over.” They’re right. Becoming a parent is a game changer. There are new requirements, new rules, new milestones, new joys, new sorrows, and on and on. And you learn about it all as you go along via trial and error. Googling helps, too.

Being a parent is an incredible experience.

Aviana a.k.a. “Project Aminowings” a Success

My daughter Aviana entered the world Monday night. She was a smidge under eight pounds, and (no bias I promise) she is beautiful. She is also amazingly intelligent, wanting to stay up all night in an effort to elucidate the experience of dreaming in the womb. Unfortunately, this means that between the hours of midnight and five of six in the morning, she is doing anything but dreaming!

Needless to say, “Project Aminowings” was a huge success and I am one proud papa.

Project AminOwings. B-Day 2009 rapidly approaching!

Above is a logo I designed for “Project Aminowings.” Early in the pregnancy, we were calling the baby “The Project” since we didn’t have a name. The little amino acid with wings logo is something I had mocked up about five years ago prior to Sonal and me getting married—I always liked the combination of “aminowings” because it forced the correct pronunciation of Sonal’s last name and the correct spelling of my last name. Alas, Sonal just took on “Owings” when we got married (oh well! I offered!). I made it an “official” logo this year. And of course, I’ve ordered a tshirt of it from spreadshirt.com (just received it but there are some color problems I’m trying to work out with spreadshirt customer service).

Here’s the front:

The actual due date is August 7, 2009, though only 5% of babies are born on their due date (can’t recall where I got that stat, sorry). The nametag is blank because Sonal and I haven’t told anyone our name. We’re expecting a girl (knock on wood). We’re excited and based on an examination yesterday by a midwife at Northside hospital, the “Project” may come a bit early or on time, which would be a surprise since everyone says your first is usually up to a week late. Of course, that could still happen.

So we’re basically on “high alert” at this point. Hard to believe we’re about to be parents.

Life changes.

Vacation, Baby stuff, Moving, Birthday Shoes, Busy

Life has gotten downright busy lately.

If you recall, we were trying to buy a house in Atlanta. Unfortunately, after a good five months of searching and one deal (that was under contract) falling through, we realized that with a baby only three months away, we were going to have to abandon buying and rent another year. So began a frantic search for a place to rent, which was surprisingly frustrating in that every good listing was already leased by the time we found it. Regardless, one tool that helped the hunt was hotpads.com, which has officially wowed me with being much easier and more powerful than Zillow.

After ten possibles, nine of which were already leased, we found a house in Lake Claire, Atlanta. Lake Claire is slightly east of Little Five Points and Candler Park. Our new pad is within a five minute walk to the Flying Biscuit there! It’s a sweet, walkable location, and will make a great house to tide us over through the birth of our first baby girl.

Speaking of babies, we have finally had the chance to dedicate time to finishing our registry and deciding important things like: nursery furniture and color schemes. This is hard. Way harder than it sounds. Sonal is now seven months pregnant. Our first is due in 80 days.

And regarding birthdays, my side project Vibram five fingers website, birthdayshoes.com, continues to grow. Here are the last six posts:

Note the Jamaica post. Sonal and I took a week vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica (Couples San Souci). We had a blast. If you’re a Duke basketball fan, you might be interested to know that Brian Zoubek was vacationing there, as well. At an inch over seven feet tall, the guy is a giant. The world was not built for individuals that tall. From what I observed from afar, every table is a kiddie table.

And my day-job, the Implode-O-Meter, just rolled out a subdomain on MLI dedicated to FHA education (replete with an FHA blog).

All of this has been happening over the last three weeks.

Life has been busy.