November 07, 2017

When Gmail Goes Away

My first email account was with AOL back in 1998. I was in middleschool. I can’t remember for the life of me any important email sent to that account, but I remember always logging in and hearing the “You’ve got mail” sound byte. A couple years back, I tried accessing my AOL email and was unsuccessful.

At some point I left AOL for hotmail and eventually MSN messenger. Hotmail was much better than AOL email because you didn’t have to connect to the AOL portal and instead, you could access only your email. I made that switch as a freshman in highschool. It was the first time I heavily depended on email for things like computer parts, games, and keeping track of eBay auctions. Similar to my AOL email inbox, I couldn’t access my hotmail account.

In 2004, I signed up for Gmail beta and it changed the game. Gmail became my primary email account during college, as well as my calendar, word processor, pretty much my everything. It was and continues to be central to everything I do.

If history is telling, something better than Gmail will cause me to change just like I did with @aol.com and @hotmail.com. And just like my @aol.com and @hotmail.com account, its possibly that I will lose a piece of my identity and online presence.

If you care about your digital footprint, spend time thinking about what would happen when Gmail goes away and be proactive in saving your data on services core to your open web experience.

November 06, 2017

The Fifth Season

I’ve never read a sci-fi book until last weekend. I cracked open The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin before going to bed and got 3 hours of rest that night. How I came to learn about the book was through a good friend, who raved enough about it that I decided to borrow the first two books in the series to catch up with him.

The previous book I read was far from science fantasy. It was about de facto and de jure segregation and how housing policy in the early 1920s shaped American neighborhoods. The name of the book is The Color of Law if your interested. Great historical knowledge, but equally enlightening and depressing. Unless your into an extra dose of distributing reality before bed, I wouldn’t recommend it as a night time read. I’d 100% recommend you read it, though.

This is my first sci-fi book and it goes without saying that I was tipped a good intro into science fantansy. The thing I like about this particular series is the state that it puts my brain in before going to bed. I’ve gone to bed tired as I don’t know what yet wondering what’s going to happen next. After I clock out, my brain dreams the rest of the book before I start again the following night. It's a pleasant feeling.

Anyway, check out the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin and tell me what you think.

April 17, 2017

Productivity Metric

How did last week go?

Every Sunday I have a scheduled ritual where I reflect on last week, review my calendar, put together a game plan for the week, and write in my diary or post a blog post. This has worked fairly well for years, but one of the areas that i’ve treated pretty loosely is measuring how well my last week went.

Instead of measuring my completion rate, I typically ponder this question without really measuring at all. This pondering happens while walking my dog or sometimes while i’m in the shower. The question had became very feel-based in that I really was gauging how I felt about my productivity last week. A bad week would make the next week more stressful even though it was a self-inflicting pressure. And yet, I didn’t truly have a sense of how well the past week had actually went. It could have been good, but it felt bad in my head. Instead of this feel-based answer to this question, it felt necessary to track how well I was really doing or not.

So yesterday I spent time actually reviewing the tasks I wanted to get done for the past 3 months (~12 weeks) and started to track my completion rate. It was semi-depressing and not as bad as I had thought. What I learned is that I rarely complete extracurricular or personal tasks I set out for myself, but I do a fairly good job of staying on top of professional tasks (i.e., work related action items). However, things like fixing the leaky pipe under our kitchen sink or organizing our garage have been neglected even though they have been put on the todo list since forever. They are things that need done, but I generally neglect anything that can’t be done on my computer. Not cool.

After realizing that I was slacking in personal and extracurricular tasks, I wanted to track my completion rate and make a conscious effort to increase it over time.

A Better Way to Measure

There’s a quote I read awhile back that stuck with me and it basically said that the difference between being busy and productive is completing things. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t completed anything in the personal and extracurricular department. The good (and maybe bad) news is my completion rate for the past 3 months is hovering at roughly 81%. I don’t know how good or bad that is, but I do know I can do better especially on personal (22%) and extracurricular stuff (8%).

My rules are simple:

  • Each week, I’ll have minimum 3 tasks to complete each day one for each facet of my life – professional, personal, and extracurricular. Excluding Sunday, this gives me 6 days to complete a min and max of 18 tasks.

  • Every day, I’ll prioritize those three over anything else until they’re complete. If completed, I’ll begin working on other tasks for the week to get ahead.

  • Every Sunday, I’ll do the math and determine my my completion rate ( num of completed tasks divided by num of attempted tasks) and then reflect on ways I can improve or continue the same productivity the following week.

  • The goal for each week is a 95% completion rate. The occasional 5% will be things that have external dependencies and I’ll be conscious of that when planning what I plan to complete for the week.

  • The other goal is to get better at breaking down tasks into bite size work and going deep on them (if applicable) in a short amount of time. For example, there could be tasks for work that can be accomplished in a day with deep focus vs spreading over a couple days.

How I feel emotionally after a productive week is an amazing feeling, and I’d like to feel that every week. It not only makes me feel good, but energizes me for next week and allows me to move the needle on all aspects of life. This completion rate setup should at least highlight how I’m doing and make my reflect sessions strategic.

March 10, 2017

The Moob Diet

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

Here's a weird sentence. I ate myself into a pair of man boobs a few years back. One day I woke up, put on a shirt, and felt uncomfortable - especially in front of a mirror. It was the worst. So, I decided to do something about it.

In 2016, I lost 25lbs using a system I created called The Moob Diet. If you’re not familiar with the term moob, I’ll save you the before photo I took in 2015. However, imagine flabby pecs on a hairy man's chest captured on photographic film. That would be a moob (aka man boob), which typically comes in pairs making them moobs.

I’m still defining The Moob Diet (i.e., the name may change) and it will take another 6 months or so for me complete, but I wanted to reflect on what I did to lose 25lbs and what I'm adding to the cadence this year.

The healthy life

If you want to fix your diet, you have to eat fewer calories than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). TDEE is an estimation of how many calories you burn adjusted by the amount of exercise you do per day. I highly recommend TDEE calculator if you want to get a rough estimate of your TDEE. To that end, I used this to understand how much I should be eating and tracked that semi-religiously.

I started 2016 by dieting and working out, but working out didn't last too long. For one, trying to do both is a huge spike in habit changing and eventually working out got cut. So, focusing on diet was my main concern for 2016. The side effect of failing to work out help me realize that my biggest differentiator towards ridding my moobs was diet and not working out. Resistance training was a nice to have but not a requirement to losing weight or man boobs for that matter. I 100% recommend spending minimum 6 to 12 months in habitualizing your food intake before taking on resistance or conditioning training.

Eating healthy isn't sexy

Going from not caring what you eat to deliberately correcting your diet is hard. You have to pick a set of foods/recipes that are the best bang for your diet until the routine sticks. My approach was simple - business on weekdays, pleasure on weekends. Each work day I kept a strict diet, measuring what I consumed, when I ate, and how I consumed food. On weekends I ate pretty much anything, but was conscious about portions. The exceptions to the rule were work trips and vacations. I didn't follow a diet while on vacation or in NYC for work. I don't think anyone can get away with dieting in NYC unless your profession is modeling or acting.

The Moob Diet

The Moob Diet is composed of three parts: Moob Lite, Moob Training, Moob Mindset. I'm going to talk about the Moob Lite in this blog post and expand on the other parts in a later post.

Moob Lite is a eating routine split into two cycles. The first cycle is light on calories, the second cycle adds 500 calories to your food intake.

Cycle 1 (days 1 thru 4)

Breakfast:
  • 1 oz hard cheese

  • 1/2 small orange

  • 1 slice light bread with peanut or almond butter

  • Decaffeinated coffee or tea without cream and/or sugar

  • Snack (2 hours later): Protein shake with a banana, oatmeal, or rice cake.

Lunch:
  • 1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese or 2 oz hard cheese

  • 8 oz of salad vegetables with 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil with cider vinegar

  • Snack (2 hours later): Protein shake with a banana, oatmeal, or rice cake.

Dinner:
  • 4 oz of white chicken or turkey (without skin), or white fish
  • 8 oz of salad vegetables
  • 4 oz cooked vegetables
  • 1 slice of wheat bread

Cycle 2 (days 5 thru 10)

Breakfast
  • 1 egg (boiled, microwaved, poached, scrambled) or 1 oz hard cheese

  • 1/2 small orange or 1/4 cantaloupe or 1/2 grapefruit

  • 1 slice light bread with peanut or almond butter

  • Decaffeinated coffee or tea without cream and/or sugar

  • Snack (2 hours later): Protein shake with a banana, oatmeal, or rice cake.

Lunch
  • 4 oz white chicken, turkey, fish with some extra olive oil

  • 8 oz of salad vegetables

  • Snack (2 hours later): Protein shake with a banana, oatmeal, or rice cake.

Dinner
  • 4 oz of white chicken or turkey (without skin), or white fish
  • 4 oz of salad vegetables
  • 4 oz cooked vegetables
  • 1 slice of wheat bread

What’s next

If last year’s goal was to lose weight and thus lose my man boobs, 2017 is about being even more religious about my dieting habits and keeping track of my body fat. The fact is I still have man boobs, although petite. And the only way to truly look good in a v-neck shirt is to rid body fat and build muscle. To do just that, I’m adding resistance training and conditioning. More on this in another post. Wise me luck.

April 18, 2016

Parenting Advice

A month ago I went to brunch with my aunt, uncle, and cousin Joy. We talked politics and discussed family matters and so on. It was your typical family lunch. Towards the end of our conversation, we got on the topic of raising kids who like to learn. This is a topic I think about a lot, especially for my daughter. I left the conversation with a refresher of what to do as a parent, but also tactics that I never thought to do.

Parenting Advice:

  1. Understand how your child learns, early.

  2. Hire mentors as tutors, early.

  3. Learning starts at home.

How my uncle and aunt went about achieving their own tips is interesting. They hired a child psychologist, which allowed them to better understand their kids learning style. They then use this knowledge to match their child to mentors and tutors that could nurture their learning style.

Now, from the sounds of it you would think their kids were mentally challenged but that’s far from the truth. Joy is a STEM teacher in Iowa. Vernon is completing a JD at Boston Law school. They’re suffering from success in most eyes. I believe the reason why is because they started early, and knew that learning begins at home.