A More Gentle Pace

I recommend Roman Krznaric’s “The Wonderbox“. From the book flap:

There are many ways to improve our lives: we can turn to the wisdom of philosophers, the teachings of religion, or the latest experiments of psychologists. But we rarely look to history for inspiration—and when we do it can be surprisingly powerful. Uncovering the lessons that can be learned from the past, cultural historian Roman Krznaric explores twelve universal topics from work and love to money and creativity, and reveals the wisdom we’ve been missing. There is much to be learned from Ancient Greece on the different varieties of love; from the industrialising British on job satisfaction; and ancient Japanese pilgrims on the art of travel.

I just finished Chapter Five titled “Time”. I appreciate your making the time to “read me,” but my guess is you won’t follow the book link, let alone read the book because you don’t have the time. Here’s one pgraph from Chapter Five to give you the flavor flav of the book:

My adventures with time are not simply a rejection of the clock, but an embrace of absorbing the world at a more gentle pace. When I got to an art gallery, I try to visit only two or three paintings. Each morning I walk in the garden and search for something that has changed—perhaps a bud that has opened or a new spiderweb—which helps bring a stillness to the beginning of the day. I attempt to eat slowly, savouring the flavours. Almost everybody laughs at my tiny diary, which give each day a space half the length of my little finger. As it is so easily filled, it helps keep down my number of appointments. Artificial? Absolutely. But it works for me. The best way I know to have more time, to feel less rushed, and appreciate life to the fullest, is to plan fewer activities.

Krznaric doesn’t wear a watch, programs his phone and other gadgets so the time doesn’t show, and covers the built-in clocks on his kitchen appliances in an effort to resist modern society’s all encompassing artificial demarcations of time.

You may do the same a few days or weeks a year when on vacation. There’s nothing much more liberating than, temporarily at least, disconnecting from time.

Most people equate minimalism with decluttering and that’s an integral part, but planning fewer activities may be even more essential to living more slowly and simply. My North American, upper middle-class suburban peers are particularly susceptible to over planning because they fear their children will be disadvantaged if they don’t participate in nearly every extracurricular activity including sports, music, theater, religious youth or service groups, and family travel.

Chock-full family calendars, found in most suburban kitchens, are testaments to hyper-activity. Consequently, most children really don’t know what to do with “free time”. Especially, screen-free free time.

An insight worth repeating. “The best way I know to have more time, to feel less rushed, and appreciate life to the fullest, is to plan fewer activities.”

The audacity. Slate’s Rachel Larimore disagrees with Krznaric and myself. In Defense of Busyness.

How ’bout you?

Slowing to a complete stop recently on the Deschutes River in Sunriver, Oregon

The GalPal’s morning “to do”—sit by the river.

Canada Overnight

Overcast skies and steady drizzle aside, I love living in the upper lefthand corner of the contiguous 48. Among the reasons, the proximity to British Columbia.

Most every summer, the GalPal and I cross the border, usually to spend a few days in Victoria. As a result, we’ve gotten to know it well. We usually go to a movie and a couple of restaurants we like and hit the Galloping Goose trail on bike or foot. The smell of marijuana doesn’t even phase us now. This time I learned what I thought was a napkin is actually a servette.

It’s five hours from our kitchen to the hotel lobby. Beautiful two and half hour drive along the Hood Canal, two hours on a ferry, and a half hour of standing in lines. We stay immediately across from the ferry at the Hotel Grand Pacific which has a nice athletic club in the basement including a 25 meter pool.

The roundtrip travel costs right around $100–$66 for the ferry, $12 for parking in Port Angeles, and around $22 for gas. We pack a lunch.

The HGP used to cost around $150/night, but this time it was $250. Decided to splurge since it was close to the anniversary and we were only staying for one night.

When I checked in they said, “We’ve complimentarily upgraded your room.” Sweet. I’m guessing they have a record of our stays. And I think there has been a dip in U.S. guests since the bump in their prices and our economic downturn and they probably want to generate positive buzz. Mission accomplished.

When we walked into the room, we started cracking up. This was no ordinary upgrade. We were living extremely large in the Malahat Suite. Three balconies provided a 270 degree view of the Harbour and Strait. Sunken tub, steam shower, upscale living room, two bathrooms, fire place, dining room table, music system with CDs, two flat screens, and on and on. We quickly spread out our stuff thinking someone would soon come to the door and say a mistake had been made.

We had dinner with friends from Winnipeg who were visiting Vancouver Island. We invited them back to our room afterwards. The reality of the suite exceeded even our glowing description, so when they entered, they also lost it.

I woke up early to watch the British Open which I love almost as much as the Malahat Suite. I’m sorry to report I was not able to find the Tour de France on the television so I had to watch Meet the Depressed during commercial breaks. I’m still assigning an “A”.

I assumed it was a $500/night suite. When I checked out I asked and was told $1k. That’s a stretch, but not out of the question.

When you stay there, tell them Ron Byrnes of Pressing Pause fame referred you. Anything you can do to increase the likelihood of future upgrades will be much appreciated because it’s going to be tough for the GalPal to ever enjoy a standard room again.

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Palm Springs Retrospective

Managed to earn points while sharing a one bedroom, one bath timeshare with the in-laws for four days in Palm Springs last week. Something about my “unusual patience” and “good humor”.

In-law humor can be kinda delicate, but I have to admit, I was pretty funny. My sense of humor is a barometer of my level of stress and my connection to the peeps I’m with. The greater the inner calm, the deeper the connection, the funnier.

Sunshine and warm temps were a highlight. It was bizzare walking off the plane after 41 straight days of rain into the sun-drenched semi-opened airport. Thought the GalPal was going to pull a Pope, get on all fours, and kiss the ground.

In four days, I worked out for 45 minutes. Went for a run one morning. Ran through the development, down to Dinah Shore, into Patriots Park, around the high school, to Mission Hills, and back. Ran and ran and ran some more. Thought to myself, that had to be a solid 7.5-8 miles. Pulled the GPS out of my shorts pocket, 5.75 miles. Chalk it up to warmer temps and no teammates.

Playing golf with my father-in-law was a highlight. I negative split both rounds, 46-40-86 and 50-38-88. Easy, shortish, 6,100 yard courses rated 69.5. As expected I have no touch, but I somehow finished round one off with two birds for the first time ever. Round two was a par 35-37, so I had a 12 footer to play the back nine in level par as the Brit’s say. Channeled my inner-Schwartzel and hit the hole, but it lipped out. Renting clubs was an interesting experience because they were nicer than my sticks. It has been twenty years or so, so maybe I should upgrade before Senior Tour qualifying school next year.

The California strawberries and Salmon Farfalle at a restaurant whose name I can’t remember were off the hook.

Enjoyed a grande green tea latte non-fat extra hot (that was for my sissy who probably quit reading a few pgraphs ago because of the self indulgent nature of this post) at a swanky hotel with a lake in it. While there, we saw a bikini clad women walk smack dap into the middle of a business attire happy hour.  The GalPal declared, “Sex worker.” Who knew she possessed that type of radar? So of course the rest of the afternoon, whenever I spotted a scantily clad woman, I had to ask, “Sex worker?”

Taking the tram up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto was a highlight. The GalPal is injured so instead of hiking we found a big rock in the sun, grooved on the cool temp, meditated on our surroundings, and had a nice talk. We didn’t plan well, only having two apples in one backpack. Make that one after the GalPal watched hers bounce down the side of the mountain. I had to make a tough call, could I rescue the runaway apple without expending more calories than contained within the apple. I rolled the dice, hunted all over the hillside, and finally tracked it down. Bruised, but still edible.

The one lowlight was the 40+mph winds on our final day. Let’s just say our take-off was NOT fun. All I could think was “I’ve probably flown more miles than 90% of the people on this plane, but I’m still more scared than 90% of them.” One would think the more you fly, the more you get used to turbulence. Not me. I sacrificed all of the points I had earned over the four days in about four minutes. Certain my life was about to end, instead of thinking about my lovely wife and wonderful daughters, I thought I may never get a chance to hone my short game and turn my 86 and 88 into 76’s and 78’s. How tragic that would be.

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I Predict

One year ago, I predicted the Seattle Mariners were going to win the World Series. Finishing the regular season at 61-101, they just missed the playoffs. Their anemic offense set records for futility. I am the original April Fool.

A few weeks ago I predicted the Belmont Bruins were going to win a few NCAA tournament games and go farther than Arizona. Wrong and wrong.

I will not be swayed. I predict I’m going to see the sun next week when I’m living large in . . . wait for it. . . Palm Springs, California. Look for me. I’ll be the dude by the pool with a hoodie over my headphones. This is what I’ll be rocking.

I also predict Butler over KY which means you should bet on UConn or VCU (where I interviewed for a job back in the day). Shaka did too much press this week. Wasn’t smart. Beware the bright lights.

In other news, we learned this week that the President has been lurking on Pressing Pause. Wednesday’s headline read, “Obama calls for U.S. to cut oil imports by a third by 2025“. Of course any goal that exceeds a politicians term by a year, let alone nine or thirteen, is disingenuous. In 2025, Obama will be playing golf on a daily basis. I call bullshit on any politician whose promises exceed his or her term.

Every once in a while you write a post that starts out nice and focused, say on failed predictions, and then goes off the rails, and we all know what happens when a train jumps the rails.

Fitness update. See, total nonsequitur. Jumping the rails never ends well. March was very solid. In terms of Tour de France prep, I’m slightly ahead of schedule. Lighter than normal teaching schedule, injury free, no excuses. Swam 2x/week, 29,400m; cycled about 4 hours a week, 349 miles, all but 76 indoors on the M3; and ran 4x/week, 148 miles. And I’m turning into a pushup planking machine. Highlight of the month (or year, or decade, or my athletic life), when Marley spotted me too big of a lead up our hill and I held him off for the driveway victory. Lowlight, doing backstroke right on the lane line during a busy day at the pool and first brushing an unknown woman’s breast, then her hip, and then her thigh in the lane next to me. I was not arrested and I have not seen my picture in the lobby. Wonder what the statue of limitations is on something like that?

What races or events are on the schedule? Apart from waiting on the RAMROD lottery, strangely, none at present.

As soon at Butler cuts down the nets, the obvious question isn’t what to do in Libya, but who is going to win the first major golf tournament of the year at Augusta National? Tiger, Phil, Watney, Kuchar, Westwood, Double E, Kaymer, Couples, Matteo Manasserro? I’m going to go with Watney, which means he’ll be lucky to make the cut.

For tolerating this stream of consciousness, I give you Cori Schumacher, who because she’s not for sale, is the Pressing Pause Person of the Week. Link here.

As always, thanks for reading. Have a great weekend and “see” you next week.

Left to right, The Winner and the LOSER

Rethinking National Holidays

Happy President’s day. I resolve to act more presidential than normal today (which means a tiny bit).

Most Euros take a solid three weeks off mid-to-late summer.

Could we benefit from a more European approach to national holidays? What if we give back six of the second through eighth holidays listed below and then add the Friday after Thanksgiving since it’s my favorite holiday and also insert a week-long national holiday where most everything shuts down.

In exchange for sporadic three day weekends, everyone truly goes on some sort of vacation, reconnects with loved ones, and recharges.

If this idea catches on and is ultimately adopted, I expect a national holiday in my honor.

Friday, December 31, 2010* New Year’s Day
Monday, January 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 21** Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 30 Memorial Day
Monday, July 4 Independence Day
Monday, September 5 Labor Day
Monday, October 10 Columbus Day
Friday, November 11 Veterans Day
Thursday, November 24 Thanksgiving Day
Monday, December 26*** Christmas Day