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June 9, 2010

Microwave a Pop Tart for 3 seconds…

Filed under: A life worth living,Conversations,Observations — Tags: , , — sbj @ 4:09 pm

There is a phrase/question, a little overused, but of value none the less, that goes something like this:

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow (in a week/in a month/whatever), what would you do; and, why aren’t you doing it?

The message is simple and clear, you only get one crack at it, why not make the most of it… starting now.  People are often surprised when they run out of time, they wonder where their lives went and why they never climbed that mountain, jumped out of that (perfectly sound!!!) airplane, or went on that grand adventure.

The bottom line, however, is this: if you wait long enough, everything will stop becoming an option.  Eventually, there will be no marathons to run, no scuba dives to make, no cross country road trips to take… no tomorrow.  We are each granted a finite number of “today’s” and an even smaller (by one) number of “tomorrow’s.”  With that comes the inevitable question: what are you doing with them?

I was enjoying a conversation with someone this morning about their “bucket list.”  It included things like “see the northern lights,” and “save someone’s life” (rather amazingly, given that she is a teen, the latter is already accomplished and crossed off of her list).

What really caught my attention though, were a few other items, exemplified perfectly by “Microwave a Pop Tart for 3 seconds.”  It is both less random and more pedestrian than it sounds, those are the exact microwave preparation instructions on the package.  But that is the simple curious beauty of this particular item.

So often it is the everyday things that we do not do that haunt us later in life.  It is living within 30 minutes from the coast, but only having been to the beach a handful of times (or, gasp!!! … not at all); living in Vegas, but never seeing a show; in San Francisco but never having walked the golden gate bridge or visited Alcartaz.

We get so engrossed in our lives we often have to leave town to relax and enjoy living them.

Several months ago (the end of September, 2009), inspired by my friend Claudia, I set out to accomplish 100 goals in 100 days.  Today (June 9th, 2010) I have accomplished (drum roll please!!!) 78 of them.  Obviously, in order to be realistic, many of these goals were set very low to the ground.  Others were more lofty and would require quite a bit of effort to accomplish.

What is interesting to me, however, is that the rate of success on the low hanging fruit is roughly the same as that of the complex tasks.  In fact, if I had managed to accomplish all of the relatively effortless items (i.e. “clean out my domain inventory” and “review and update my birthday calendar”), I would have accomplished 96 of my 100 goals instead of 78.

Again, simple attainable goals, even though – in this case – I had the advantage of identifying and setting out to accomplish them, left incomplete.  When I look back at my nearly 300 days since creating the list, there is no way to justify not having time to accomplish any of the items on my list (okay, maybe the movie was pushing it a bit), let alone the little ones.  Yet, undone 22 of them remain.

If yesterday, today was my last tomorrow… I’d certainly like to think I had lived my life to the fullest.  Maybe I didn’t get my domains sorted out, but that at least I had spent my time enjoying life, satisfying my curiosities, and doing the little things that make life worth living, no matter how simple they might be.

… like microwaving a Pop Tart for three seconds…

December 18, 2009

Uphill… in the snow… both ways…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , — sbj @ 6:00 pm

When I was a child, if I wanted to watch cartoons, I got up Saturday morning; if I wanted to watch a lot of cartoons, I woke up early Saturday morning.  I remember – gasp!!!- going to bed early on Friday nights just so I could get up in time to catch the super friends at 6:00am.

When someone in my children’s generation wants to watch cartoons, they turn on the television.  If they want to watch a lot of cartoons, they turn on the television.  Not only are there networks that are (virtually) nothing but cartoons; but you don’t even have to turn it on when they broadcast them anymore.  Set up your Tivo properly and you can watch any cartoon anytime you want.

There are children who have never known what it is like to sit down and not have (at least one) episode of The Family Guy, or The Simpsons, or Sponge Bob, etc. ready and waiting for them. (To be fair… this is not much different than me with, say, The Daily Show until I ditched TV altogether a while back).

When I was 5, fast food was a $6 billion industry, in 2000 (when my son turned 5) that number had ballooned to over $110 billion.  In case you are wondering about inflation… the adjusted US GDP went up 4x over that period, the fast food industry 16x… so we’re not talking about inflation here (Source of US GDP number: US Department of Commerce).

Take a look at the cost increase by type of food, over the 15 years leading up to the year 2000 and its $110 billion fast food extravaganza.

The same report that reveals this trend points out that over the same time period consumption of fruits, veggie’s and dairy has dropped significantly while starch, sugars, and fats have remained steady or even increased (the cost of a can of soda has gone up a mere 20%, fats and oils 35%, while the cost of fresh fruits and veggies have shot up 118%. Coincidence? One does have to wonder*).

When I was a boy, I was outside playing something everyday… sports, cowboys and indians (not the best choice in retrospect… but I didn’t know better at the time), hide and seek, or just plain “playing.”  Most kids I know today spend most of their “play” time online or on a gaming consol.

Yes, I am getting to a point here…

I am afraid that our lives have become to much a function of convenience.  Quick, relatively inexpensive food, addictive while inactive entertainment and the like are serving as enablers to the generally acknowledged national problems of sedentary life styles and obesity.

As the year – and indeed the decade – come to an end the time honored tradition of establishing resolutions once again begins anew.  I’ve never really been a big fan of new years resolutions, defiantly stating that I make my resolutions as they are needed, a constant and consistent year ‘round undertaking.

However, this year, because it is the end of the year, or because its just a coincidence that my “process” is dealing with these issues right now, I have made a short list of focus items going forward (based on what I was writing about above).

1. Improve my families dietary habits. Drastically reduce fats, starches, soda etc. and increase consumption of fruits and veggies.
2. Become more active in our activities. Fewer hours in front of a video game or computer, more hours outside playing, walking, exploring, etc.
3. Make more of our own fun. Embracing creativity, instead of enjoying as much pre-packaged fun.

That’s it, that’s all.  Those are the new additions to the Jacobsen family goals.  What do you have brewing, either as a resolution… or in general.  I’d love to hear! (And quite probably be inspired!)

*I am not implying some sort of conspiracy here, simply refering to the fact that anything that is getting the bulk of production and the associated benefits (efficiencies of scale etc.) is going to have better cost controls, etc.

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