Tag Archives: commentary

Weirdism Wednesday

I find working from home to be weird, even after almost a month of it from my locked down state.

I’m feeling it, both mentally and physically.

Normally, I walk to work and then spend a lot of my day on my feet. I’m in and out of offices and other areas and people are always dropping by to see me for all sorts of reasons. It’s busy busy. My days can flash by.

It’s a different road right now, whether we want it or not.

I’m trying to separate work and home, but that’s difficult when home starts in the hallway outside my door.

I’m sitting at my computer for long periods of video calls, phone calls and texts and have to remind myself to get up and stretch.

I’m missing items and materials that are in my work office, but I can’t go there.

My home printer died a couple of days ago and I need a scanner.

I’m gaining weight.

I’m sometimes finding it difficult to focus.

It’s not the best situation by a long stretch, a very long stretch.

Dawn breaks.

But then I remind myself of all the people who have lost their jobs in this virus world and I remember to be grateful and stop my whining.

I remember that I’m not sick, nor are any of my loved ones. I haven’t lost anyone to this scourge. I’m together with my M, and I have food, a comfortable place to live in, caring phone calls and texts from friends and family and colleagues, and best of all, I have toilet paper. 😉

It’s a strange weird world and I don’t want to be in it (wah) but there are many alternatives that are a whole lot worse.

Sing a Song of Social Distancing, a Pocketful of Hand Sanitizer

I am in the midst of returning home after an overseas trip. I have a strong sense of getting back just ahead of the drawbridge being pulled up, even though no deadline has been given. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday in a press conference: it’s time to come home.

In common with many of my compatriots, I have travelled internationally a lot, have lived in other countries, and have served in the military. All of these experiences have made me very aware of how fortunate I am to be able to come home, especially to a country that cares about its citizens and that doesn’t see us a commodity to be expended. It’s nothing but an accident of birth, but that difference has given me multitudinous advantages and opportunities.

So over the next couple of days, I will be navigating airports and aircraft with lots of hand sanitizer, hand washing, and distancing. I feel fine, but I will need to go into self-isolation for 14 days to ensure my health and that of others.

And, for the first time ever, I will be working from home. A new experience.

I wish everyone clean hands and good health.

🙂

To Recline or not to Recline?

I have done a lot of flying. As a pilot or passenger, I’ve spent loads of time in airplanes, both large and small. I am intimately acquainted with how cramped the environment is and getting into the pilot’s seat often feels a bit like I’m a puzzle piece squeezing into my slot.

I’ve banged my knees, whacked my head, knocked my elbows and thumped myself in innumerable other places getting in and out of pilot seats and airplanes. They are not built to be places of sprawling comfort. Anyone who has ever been on an airplane of any size knows that.

So, what about the argument around seats? That is, do you recline or don’t you?

I don’t recline. Neither does my 191 cm (6 ft 3 in) husband. And frankly, I get a little irritated when others do, especially if I’m trying to use my little table for whatever reason: working, eating, sleeping (yes, I sometimes sleep on the table). I don’t want a strange person in my lap, and I’m sure the people behind me don’t want me in their laps.

We’re all in this cramped space together, so let’s try to be as respectful and careful with each other as we can. That’s how I see it, anyway.

However, that’s often not how these things go.

Recently, a man aboard a commercial flight in the US began banging on the seat of the person ahead of him because she had reclined. Here’s the article:

https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/airline-passenger-says-she-s-hurt-after-her-reclined-seat-repeatedly-punched-1.4816808

Part of the problem is that airlines have crammed people in, but I also understand about the narrow margins on which airlines operate. And to be fair, this has been a problem for many, many years. I remember my mother complaining about the “recliners” when I was a child.

What is your opinion? Should airlines remove the recline function on airplane seats? Should we avoid using the recline function out of respect for our flight mates?

Flowers of Republica Dominicana Part II

Dominican Republic is home to many types of orchids, something I hadn’t realized until my last visit.

I had been there a number of times before, but somehow I had missed how plentiful they are.

It’s lovely to see them just growing where they like, these beautiful splashes of ostentatious and frilly colour.

The freedom to take root in the ground of choice is one we should all be able to enjoy. 🙂

Blog Sell-by Date

Salted Caramel has created more questions for her series on blogging insights. Please pop by and take a look at her blog. 🙂

Her questions this time are:

How old is your current blog/website? 

Do you ever look back at your site i.e. read through your old posts?

How long ago did you update your about page ?

If you were to start a new blog today, what would you do differently?

These questions got me thinking about the general concept of updating, of keeping things neat and orderly. Updating, going back and cleaning up things, sorting though things is something we all have to do, although some of us are much better at it than others. I think if you’re not much of a cleaning up person, then your blog might be untidy too (or creatively messy 🙂 ).

I’ve moved a fair bit in the last 13 years. There was a lot of upheaval. I was getting a divorce and had purchased another house. It was empty and very new and I started with pretty much a blank slate except for four boxes of papers and things that I needed to sort. Of course, I didn’t sort them. The boxes just followed me around, ignored and helpless hangers-on, but I couldn’t just throw them out either. If I did, especially without looking at them, I would be irrevocably throwing out an older chapter of me. That’s what it felt like, anyway.

So these four boxes moved with me again, and then again, and then again. They are now in a storage locker awaiting final deposition.

A couple of years ago, I started examining these boxes, and eliminated some of the stuff in them. The garbage bags containing some of the discarded stuff are still sitting in the storage locker though. So, all I did was shift the contents from one storage container to another.

I got called away, actually to start this job here in the Northwest Territories, and now when I go to my southern home, I don’t want to spend time in a storage locker sorting through stuff.

But the time is coming. My M may be returning to British Columbia to sell the place that we presently have and to purchase another in a neighbourhood that will be more conducive as we get older and become decrepit. It’s a very walkable location with shops and restaurants and the market close by.

Eventually, and sooner than it feels, I will be finally dealing with those boxes.

So why has it taken me so long? Why does it take anyone so long … to sort through a box? Clean a closet? Write a will? Finish an assignment? Organise a blog site?

Procrastination is usually for a reason, and I’ve certainly been procrastinating. I dug in my heels because I needed to. When I’m ready to clean up, I’ll clean up.

I’m not sure yet why I haven’t completely dealt with these boxes. It’s boring? It’s painful? I’m feeling a need to exert control over when I do it? It’s probably all of these.

What about you? Is your blog (or life) all orderly and up to date?

Vestigial Sunrise

I took this photo of Great Slave Lake at 10:15 a.m just as the sun had finished its slow ponderous climb.

It was -36°C out, but I took my mitts off for this capture. I am learning the art of quick photography in these frigid temperatures.

I love the clear simplicity of this weather; its voice is smooth and crystalline in the still cold air.

A tone without noise.

Winter greetings from the north. 🙂

Do You Suffer from Blog Stress?

Can blogging, like anything else, become a chore, a requirement, a source of stress? Can the life be sucked right out of it because we’ve made it be something we have to do?

I first began thinking about this after reading a post from Melanie B. Cee of sparksfromacombustiblemind who reprinted and answered questions from Salted Caramel. You can read Salted Caramel’s original post here.

Here are the questions:

What, in your opinion, is blogger burnout?

Have you ever suffered from blog-related stress?

What steps could you suggest to prevent blogging from becoming a stressful activity?

In my opinion, burnout is extreme mental fatigue caused by stress. This fatigue can manifest in very serious physical concerns as well – insomnia, a lowered immune system, blood pressure issues, heart attacks, strokes, and lots of other health problems.

Can bloggers become burned out? I believe we can. If given the right context, anything can be mentally fatiguing, as most of us know very well.

We have such a period coming up soon; in much of the world, December can produce a lot of stress. There is pressure to produce “perfect” gifts, meals, and happy family events. A lot of this pressure comes from advertisers but there are other avenues of cause, including the pressures we place on ourselves.

If the stressors are continuous and/or intense, there’s going to be a point at which we become exhausted by them and can’t go on or are only firing on one mental cylinder. We have to take a holiday, or a stress leave, or a “mental health” day, or maybe several days. In the aftermath of extremely stressful situations, people can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

I am in my second year of a very stressful job as a CEO. It’s action-packed and very fluid, no matter how much anyone tries to impose a schedule on it. We have detailed, major inspections that we have to pass. We often deal with unhappy people who might head toward wigging out. I’m not afraid to get tough and I have that card stowed in my pocket. My “office time” when I get caught up on paperwork and emails occurs when most people have long gone home.

In my first year, there were periods when I recognized that I was nearing burnout, and I had to take action on it. I reorganised, I decentralised, and I reassigned duties and tasks. Not only did I have to create space for my employees to relax, I had to create space for me to do the same.

The idea of “productivity” has produced a false economy, in my opinion. We’re supposed to make use of all kinds of tips and tricks for reducing stress while on the job (do you see a contradiction there?) when the real stress reducers are reasonably simple and mostly instinctive: spend some time away from work doing other things and being with the people who love you. Having some time to yourself to do yoga is better than squeezing in some yoga between meetings. If that’s what you have to do, then the yoga just becomes another stressor. Does that make us any more productive? Or do we just become used up and unable to have a life outside of work?

So, do you need to take more vitamin D or do whatever the latest stress-reducing fad is or do you need to draw a boundary around some space for non-work?

Some stress is good for us, of course. It can keep us on our toes, alert and ready to go. But like anything else, too much can really be too much.

Blogging is the same. There has to be a boundary around it so that you don’t burn out or find it stressful. I’ve noted lots of bloggers who step away for a while, or who close comments on their posts or who still read but don’t post any more. I’ve done the same at times. One year, I was away from my blog for four months.

For me, blogging is a stress reliever. It takes me away from work, gives me a change of scene and I get to see what my blogging friends are doing. I like watching basketball for the same reasons (well, I’m not friends with any b-ballers, but you know 🙂 ). I don’t let those things consume me, though. That would take all the life out of them.

What do you think?

North of 60

To a Canadian,

you need to be north of 60° N latitude to be “in the north.” Canadians understand when you say, “I’m going north of 60.”

To a far north northerner, though, that’s south. You can wear shorts until it’s -20. Not an exaggeration. I’ve actually seen this.

But, to anyone in the southern US, for instance, that’s where Pere Noel lives. Going outside is for polar bears and reindeer.

I am “north of 60,” but I’m too far south for polar bears and reindeer. They aren’t a part of my landscape. And to a far north northerner, I’m a weak little southerner.

It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

Blogging Insights

Melanie from Sparks from a Combustible Mind passed on the idea for this post. Please check out her post and the blogger who originated these questions:                                                                                            https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/27669916/posts/55683

How important are images to a blog post?

What is the role of images in blog traffic and reader engagement?

How many images on average do you use in a blog post?

I think that images can be important to a blog post, but that really depends on the blogger and the subject of the post. From a pragmatic standpoint, having the occasional image can be easier on the eye than being confronted by large chunks of text, but I also don’t need the images either. I choose images and imagery because I connect well with them. Since I also do lots of photographic posts, I often like to make the image the focus, but I do use words to enhance the images. Sometimes, the images enhance the words; it depends on the links that I’m making.

Great Slave Lake in Autumn

Most people have become inundated by images and media of all kinds. For some people, especially people who have been raised to expect lots of visuals, not having them could be jarring. For others, having a break from all the imagery could be a relief. I think that in the end, it’s really the content of the post that drives whether or not the blogger wants to use visuals.

Skaha Lake in Summer

On average, I only use one or two images per post, but I have been known to use several. If I’m doing a post that’s not specifically photographic, I will use some of my pictures to back up a point I’m making.

Cameron Lake in Spring

I like these lake photos. Lakes can be calming, menacing, a giver of life, a taker of life. They can be all of these things, all at once. Images communicate. Sometimes just one thing, sometimes many things. Sometimes images communicate complex feelings or ideas that we don’t immediately understand.

To me, choosing images or visuals to add texture or depth to a post or having the images stand as posts on their own is dependent on thinking style, content, mood, and about 12 billion other things that go into making a person a person, because blog posts are what the bloggers are. 🙂