The provincial budget came out today, and say what you will about politics or partisanship, it really gets me down when one party or one group trounces on public servants as so-called overpaid slouches. Being one, I may be biased, I admit. But please keep a few things keep in mind before you decide to generalize and bash anyone in any career. In every workplace there are employees that span the gamut from just-ok to amazing: people get up, go to work, and do a job, and most of them do it very well. This applies everywhere. Anywhere. You may think government work is a cushy, over-paid gig, but in reality those jobs are a lot more rare than the anecdotes of government naysayers may have led you to believe. Public servants are not deserving of any particularly special treatment, but likewise they are people who have chosen a career path that, in many cases, has been based on opting to contribute their skills and abilities to a big kinda-corporation we call government with the goal of providing services and programs that improve the places we all live. That, and as a tax-paying citizen, we’re all YOUR employees… and when that public vents about failed bureaucracies and inefficient systems the result is often the exact opposite of what they might hope: the amazing people who do amazing things get burnt out and leave while the rest of us average, hard working folks stick it out and fill in the gaps with fewer resources, bruised confidence, and the knowledge that there are a lot of people who would cheer to see us fail. So hug a teacher, thank a nurse, and maybe buy a coffee for that IT guy who spent his whole weekend restoring your free public WiFi when it went down.
Another “Hackable Me” post, which for the newbies is a few words on incremental personal self-improvement: a personal hack of mind-body-soul to ultimately better myself. I’m not a DIY, fixer-upper, read-this-book-to-change-your-life sort of self-improvement guy. On the other hand I tend to consider that (a) publicly scrutinized goals and (b) introspective evaluation of those goals through words tends to lead to making me a better person. This is some words to do with that.
The Art of the Hack, Revisited
And once again the effort to balance a winter of quasi-hibernation and less-than-optimal nutritional habits has mashed against the reality of a whole variety of external quantifiers.
My effort of three years ago –and, yes, it has been three years now– is not regressed to anything resembling a previous error-state, but then I don’t intend to let it. The current extrapolation seems inclined in that direction, however. The third anniversary of my epic life-altering hackable summer seems ideal as a release date for a sequel.
The Hack of the Weekly Check-in
How do you do these amazing thing, they ask. What’s your secret?
Something I’ve learned in those intervening three years is that (a) I should have kept more careful notes on my success and (b) those notes would have been of immense value to the hundreds of people who have asked me for some kind of secret formula when I was done.
There isn’t one. But I do think it would have been nice to have been able to hold up a few pages of awesomeness in blogging to be able to say, look, it’s simple… eat more, exercise less… or is it the other way round?
See, I barely even remember anymore myself.
Thus, I’m committing to committing, by committing to this: a weekly hack check-in. And this commitment also just happens to neatly be the first of the weekly hacks of which I’m going to so vaguely write about. Each week, I’m going to re-invigorate my own efforts with a simple rule that I follow here. On this blog. In this space. In a new category I’m launching today: Health & Well-Being. If you want to follow them, too… cool. But this isn’t advice. It’s just what I’m doing for me… selfishly. So, all I’m claiming is that it works (or worked at one point) for me and I’m going to try it again. Buyer beware. Disclaimer, end.
What does public accountability mean, exactly?
I sit here on my couch, laptop on my knees while I try not to get distracted by the television and each word I type out into this space, a public space, read by an audience numbering in the (well, let’s be honest) dozens. Each of you keeps me honest. Why? Because I ‘m not interested in failing any of you. Plus, there is a little nugget in my soul that is something of a showman… an entertainer… a storyteller and a performer of sorts, and the show must go on. The narrative must continue, and if I fail, then the story ends. Or worse, the story has a tragic conclusion. And no one wants to read that, right?
a mash-up of war & commuting
If the self-made role of modern terrorists is to evoke fear, there may be no more effective way to do that than by reaching into the most banal aspects of a society and disrupting it with the threat of violence. And there is nothing so banal, so mundane yet necessary, as the commute to work.
I take the train to my office nearly every day. It is a thirty minute ride along busy streets, over bridges, and through dark tunnels. The thought has, on more than one occasion, crossed my mind –usually in the days following a disturbing news report of a subway bombing or a bus exploding– that my choice to ride on public transit, out of all the options available, may not be the one that carries the least personal risk.
So you are a business blogger. But why? Have you even considered that? Perhaps you have and the reason is worth sharing. Or perhaps you have no idea, you’re just doing it because everyone else is, too. Explain your reasons for writing.
As of writing this (arguably the first true “blog” post) of this site I’ve launched a little tool called the 2 Topix Blog Idea Generator that has already seen a respectable hit count since making it public. In actual fact, the tool is merely a little script that randomly pulls two blog ideas from a database of ideas (eighty-some as of this writing) and displays them in the window. It took me a few long hours worth of work to divine all those ideas and trascribe them into the database — which is just fine — and I thought I’d kick this section of the site off with some of my (so to speak) own medicine. So, I loaded up the generator and low-and-behold guess what topic number one happened to be: Blog About Why You Blog
And blogging does seem like a rather odd thing to do, doesn’t it? Between a couple other sites — my primary, personal blog making up the bulk of that, I could collectively count nearly two-thousand posts and half a million words. And it’s all public. Much of it is personal. And it spans a variety of topics representing a broader scope than I would have ever thought myself capable of generating. (Albeit, accumulated over nearly a decade of writing, multiple locations, and numerous adventures.)
So, why do I blog?
1) I blog because I am a writer. And when I write that I don’t state it in the casual sense it might imply at first blush. No. Writing is one of the things by which I have defined myself for much of my life, extending far back into my youth. It is as a comfortable, familiar blanket might be to a child. Or, maybe as much a vice as a glass of whiskey to an alcoholic. I am a writer, an addict to the creation of texts and ideas, and far too cowardly to ever put real distance between myself and a keyboard.
2) As I imagine is often the case, I blog because it justifies my existence. How would that be defined by a shrink: narcissism or nihilism? The first, perhaps because I enjoy the public spectacle of my life? The second, perhaps due to a towering feeling that without it existing in some sort of public arena everything I do is much more intangible than it could be? Well, probably neither of those are completely true — or completely false either — but I’m sure it could be argued that we all justify our existence somehow, to someone. This is one of the ways I try.
3) I blog because it entertains. Though who can say for certain. I am something of an entertainer, I suppose, and my stage is — frankly — the page. I write, blog, lay bare the words of my soul, because it makes others happy (or at least engages some emotion) to read what I’ve posted. It is unfiltered and honest, I think, and the hundreds of people I’ve touched through words is immensely gratifying.
Thus, another blog. Thus, the first blog post of a whole new web-project. Unlike my first blogs, both still live and active, this will represent little of my (a) deeply personal, everyday life or (b) scientific, rational-debunker hobby. Instead, it will be a glimpse at what I like to think of as my professional self: the creative, business, technical, word-smithy guru that often needs a venue to express himself.