nate of nine

Re-Finding Balance

Here’s a quick recap of a thought experiment I did this weekend. Life is insane blah blah blah and just like a slowly boiled frog, I regularly need to readjust.

The past year+ I’ve immersed myself in a new job at Acquia. I was just having a conversation about the company with a coworker last night where I realized that I could not think of one single Acquian that I didn’t like, didn’t get along with, and didn’t respect. That’s a pretty rare and amazing thing to be able to say about an organization, but if you knew my team you’d understand. Combine that with my love for Drupal and some demanding projects, the result has been a lot of non-tech interests being put on hold. Because of my deep entrenchment in technology I’m less concerned I’ll be able to sneak that in from time to time so this weekend’s thought exercise is about changing my scenery.

The goal: identify a list of hobbies I’ve had, reminisce on them, and see prescribe a plan for bringing at least one or two back into rotation.

  • music
  • brewing
  • cooking
  • gardening
  • bonsai
  • hiking
  • cycling
  • reading
  • volleyball
  • disc golf

Music

This is one is tough. I’ve been able to successfully manage carpal tunnel without surgery via exercises, stretches, ergo keyboard/mouse, and not playing guitar anymore. When it was bad, I had lost all strength in my hand to the point where I couldn’t properly finger a chord without extreme fret buzz. I’ve considered switching to more digital music since I love ambient electronica as well. The big concerns there are time and whether it would feel expressive enough to fill this void. For now this one has to remain in monitoring status. Perhaps this summer I can revisit again.

Brewing

This one is pretty simple! Why don’t I still brew? I even have a brand new refractometer my parents bought me that I’ve been longing to use. The time to make a batch of wort is pretty simple to schedule in; I can do something about that. Bottling has always been my nemesis both in time required and motivation. Looks looks like if I’m serious it’s time to go back to kegging.

So … yesterday i went shopping at the local homebrew store. There was a familiar and enjoyable excitement that swept over me. I picked up some new supplies and the ingredients for a Czech pilsner in memory of my Drupalcon trip to Prague earlier this year. The plan is make it up today and make another trip later this week to get a keg to fill. Progress!

Cooking

This one may not be easy, but it is simple. I use Paprika to manage recipes and display them on a LCD in my kitchen. I already have a nice collection of recipes, my kids enjoy cooking with me, and everyone needs to eat, right? What gets in the way of this? Time and planning. I need to plan out the meals (also done in Paprika, I love this app) so my wife can get the ingredients while shopping for the meals I want to make. Then, I need to stop working early enough to actually make a nice dinner. All of this is achievable.

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Yesterday, while I was gleefully wandering the aisles of the homebrew store, Julia was using the Paprika app installed on her phone, synced with mine, to get all the ingredients for a week of yummy home-cooked meals that go beyond generic simple things. I had made a meal plan for the week and iI’m pretty excited to try out a few new recipes I found as well.

Gardening

It’s March of a particularly challenging winter in Pennsylvania. Is it really that surprising this one lacking? Patience, young grasshopper. I see a trip to the arboretum at Longwood Gardens in my near future!

Bonsai

At one point while living in Rochester, NY, I bartered with a very talented bonsai artist; I’d fix his computers for his business and he’d give me free supplies and lessons. We both kept a running tab with each other, and both enjoyed the fact that the tabs always cancelled each other out.

I’m not going to commit to tackling this one quite yet. I do have some ideas, though. Perhaps this spring/summer after I get our small yard fixed up I can create a small station on my front porch to try creating one or two bonsai trees again. I’ve wanted to try an azalea, and we also have a lot of Japanese maple saplings around the house that spawn from our neighbors tree. I can do something about this one – I bet my oldest daughter would also love to join in.

Hiking (and Cycling, and Disc Golf)

What was that I said about PA winter? In the meantime my [30 day challenge for March][11] will have to suffice, most likely with the help of the YMCA. When the weather is nice these are pretty easy. One of the great benefits of working from home is the ability to take my dog out for a lunchtime walk. Soon …

Reading

Before I can tackle this one I need to feel rested. I know how I operate and if I am tired (in general, not just on a particular day) reading is one of the things that disappears from my days. Because of that I probably can’t tackle this one head on without clearing a path first. However, it is good that I called this out the way I did; moving forward I can treat reading as my “canary in the coal mine” and perhaps self-monitor a bit better.

Volleyball

I played volleyball in high school (perhaps not well but it was fun) and one of the first things my wife and I did together while dating was join a volleyball league. I saw a sign at the YMCA yesterday for adult volleyball team signups. I want to be careful about how many hobbies I throw back in to the mix, but perhaps some investigation now can line this one up for later. This could also double-dip with my 30 day challenge for March!