Sweetums

Arianna get momentarily mad every time we watch The Muppet Show (or movies) because she remembers that Sweetums (which I call her as a term of endearment) is the name of one of the big Muppet monsters.

The noise in our head

While I usually think about Seth Goldin when I’m blogging about work, management, or leadership, his recent post, The noise in our head (and artificial intelligence) relates more to what I’ve been thinking about for my personal life. It dovetails nicely with some of what I’ve read in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

The portion of interest from Seth’s blog post:

One reason we easily dismiss the astonishing things computers can do is that we know that they don’t carry around a narrative, a play by play, the noise in their head that’s actually (in our view) ‘intelligence.’

It turns out, though, that the narrative is a bug, not a feature. That narrative doesn’t help us perform better, it actually makes us less intelligent. Any athlete or world-class performer (in debate, dance or dungeonmastering) will tell you that they do their best work when they are so engaged that the narrative disappears.

I have no idea when our computer overlords will finally enslave us, but it won’t happen because we figured out a way to curse them with a chattering monkey.

A lot of the things I have been thinking about lately, meditation, yoga, zen, mind like water, have all been aimed at quieting and calming the “chattering monkey”.

So not me

No matter how high I crank up the air conditioning here, the temperature still doesn’t go down below 24°C / 75°F.

Update: It’s 29°C / 84°F with the weather listed as “Haze” and I don’t mind it.

Yoga notes

None of the local yoga studios near the hotel here in Mumbai seemed open today, so instead, a co-worker and I asked the concierge and voila, a private yoga lesson for the two of us from Subhash. Writing down what I learned today for posterity.

Sitting

  • Left leg under. Right leg on top.
  • Unlocking hips
    • Butterfly. Flap knees.
    • Butterfly with one leg extended. Flap knee. Make circles with knee both clockwise and counter clockwise.

Breathing exercises

Always with head looking up unless otherwise stated. One minute per exercise. Always breathe through the nose unless otherwise stated.

  • Hands on chest. In on 1,2,3. Out on 5,6. ~36x / minute.
  • Hands on stomach. In on 1,2,3. Out on 5,6. ~36x / minute.
  • Hands holding big toes. In on 1,2,3. Out on 5,6. ~36x / minute.
  • “Happy birthday”. Breathe in sharply 3 times. Chin to chest, breathe out sharply through the mouth.
  • “Square”. Inhale for 5 seconds. Hold for 5 seconds. Exhale for 5 seconds. Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Inhale. Pinch nose with left hand. Right hand on top of head. Chin down. Swallow 5 times. Release nose. Exhale. Head up. Release head.

Lying down

Feet together, arms to side of body, then relax.

  • Sit-ups. Breathe in going back, with arms all the way above your head. Breathe out coming forward. Go all the way back and forward each time.
  • Hold both feet up at a 45 degree angle. Do the same thing with just one foot. Then the other foot.
  • With feet together, make big circles with the legs.
  • Bicycle, forward and backward.

Exercises

Names may not be quite right.

  • Stone: Kneel. Barely cross feet so one foot is lying on the other. Sit.
  • Mill: Sitting. Legs out straight and apart in a V. Interlink fingers, reverse hand position as if cracking knuckles. Make a circle with your interlinked hands attempting to touch the right, then the left foot, then back. Then go the other way.
  • Row: Sitting. Legs out straight in front of you. Put together hands as if rowing a scull. Row forward and back while keeping arms straight. Use stomach muscles, not arms.

Om

  • Pronounce as if it starts with a silent “H” like “Hom” so that it comes from the belly.
  • Mouth closed, but teeth apart
  • Loud!
  • At least 3 times

Levels

I was going to say “something I need to remember at work”, but really, this is something that I need to remember when dealing with people in general:

Don’t skip levels. Leave the little things at the little things level, and the big things at the big things level. Don’t let a small communication issue rope in all of the big picture communication problems that you have ever had with a person.

From the mouth of Alex

I understand what you do at work now dad.

You help your coworkers understand their thoughts, emotions, and their relationships with other people. You chat with them and help them be better. You print things… and do all sorts of other things that have to do with printing. And also in your free time you sometimes play foosball.

Thoughts on parenting

Alex got a Rubik’s cube for Christmas. I remember spending hours playing with my own as a kid and only ever being reliably able to get one side correct. While I’m reasonable at algorithms, I have horrible spatial awareness and visualization skills. With help from the Internet, I was able to solve the cube in ~15 minutes. It makes me wonder how the easy access to information will help kids (they can tackle many more problems that have already been solved) or hinder their development (they won’t develop the tenacity to tackle problems).

Arianna’s phone (Dina’s old flip-phone from 2005) finally died just before Christmas. While it didn’t work, Arianna was still happier playing pretend phone with that than an actual working iPhone. So, I asked co-workers if they had any old phones to donate. I got 5. I wonder what that teaches Arianna. Toy breaks, get five to replace it.

Experiencing

This was by no means the first time he had been on ground once sacred to some great religion. He had seen Notre Dame, Hagia Sophia, Stonehenge, the Parthenon, Karnak, Saint Paul’s, and at least a dozen other major temples and mosques.

— Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise
Realizing I’ve visited all of those makes me appreciate life.

Fitness

A coworker suggested we do a 30-day ab challenge together.  I learned a number of things:

  • It’s amazing what one can do when one puts one’s mind to things. I actually was able to finish the challenge.
  • Don’t agree to an exercise challenge from someone 15 years younger than you are. I was cursing my coworker daily for weeks. Yes, even on the rest days.
  • Agree to the consequences of success or failure up front.
  • I cannot easily detect someone (or at least this co-worker) lying to me by omission over chat (10 days undetected). I can very easily detect lying by omission in person (~1 minute to detection). In other words, it took me 10 days to realize that said coworker had given up.

30-day Ab ChallengeAnd yes… my abs look like hers… you just can’t see it as easily under my beer belly.