That feeling when you have so many ideas for blog posts but never have enough time to put them into words for others. I do have one idea in-flight, and a coworker helped me copy edit. This is my accountability mechanism to get that post out there by the end of June.
Author: Aaron Douglas Page 2 of 30
I have memories from my childhood but most of them are fragmented with how my ADHD brain works. There have been plenty of times talking with family about things that happened when I was young and I have no memory of it. I suppose my crappy attention & focus made it hard to store contiguous memories.
There are some things that are very clear in my head, though. One of those clear memories is of my dad and it lasted exactly 60 seconds.
Some days before I would get ready for school I would watch the kids’ game show called Double Dare. It was a 30 minute program that was a combination trivia and obstacle course. The unique thing about this show was the slime and gook used in the obstacle course – stuff that kids love to see people get covered in when they fall. The obstacle course lasted 60 seconds and was at the very end of the show.
One morning my dad was rushing to get ready for work. I remember him dressed in his work clothes and had his briefcase in hand. I was engrossed in the episode of Double Dare and my dad barely acknowledged me being there. I was excited to watch the obstacle course and I wanted my dad to watch too – I think because I wanted him to think it was super cool too. I told him to stay and watch – and then he said no.
I was persistent, though. “Dad, it’s only 60 seconds long! You can wait one more minute to leave!”
He looked at me and then the TV and he did something that was very atypical for him. He said okay and sat down to watch the obstacle course with me. I was so excited that he actually wanted to stay and watch!
It’s funny how 30+ years later I remember this small moment because it had a really big impact on my relationship with my dad. He’s often caught in his own head and doesn’t have a strong sense of empathy with how his actions affect other people. His universe orbits around him in a lot of ways but he doesn’t intentionally mean to isolate himself. He does care about the people around him but it doesn’t always show.
This one day I reached that bit of his mind that recognized the empathy I really needed. In that 60 seconds I connected with my dad in a meaningful way. I’ve reflected back on that moment so many times when I get frustrated with him especially now that he’s affected by Parkinson’s Disease. My dad’s disappearing little by little with what feels like dementia related to the Parkinson’s.
When you have that 60 second moment to have an impact on your kids, take it. You’ll never know how long it’ll stick with them.
The TL;DR is that Garmin’s pace alerts seem to trigger on average pace but the alert on the screen shows current pace. It can be confusing especially early on in a run where the average is much more volatile.
I own a Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS watch and use it track my runs, bike rides, and any indoor activities. I also have an Apple Watch Series 4 with Cellular but don’t use it for tracking any longer because of weird GPS behaviors. The Forerunner 245 has definitely been a superior GPS unit and their biometrics (especially with their heart rate strap and sensor package) blow the Apple Watch out of the water.
In 2019 I ran way more than I biked and discovered I was also getting faster and had higher endurance. I like to close the red activity ring on my Apple Watch every day and it’s really my only fitness goal beyond using exercise to help combat my ADHD. I was discovering after several months of running every day (3-5mi on average) that my body was getting fatigued sometimes, lasting a week or more before recovery. I really noticed this when I started running more on trails in a nearby park influenced by glaciers.
I got the Forerunner watch in late 2019 and discovered the Garmin Coach plans really soon after installing their app. I don’t run in races nor do I really have any speed or distance goal. I ran a half marathon distance without specifically training and I recovered from it just fine. What I did want to start learning to do was how to vary my workouts with intention and include specific rest days. So, the Garmin Coach plan seemed like a great thing to follow.
I never ran with a specific pace in mind, only ever looked at the results after a run. I wanted to run smarter, and maybe a bit faster on longer distance runs. I may some day decide to enter a race, but again, not a factor for me.
Different Types of Runs
Garmin coach has several different run types that I’ve encountered so far in the plan with the “coach” I’m using:
- Time trial – short distance runs near your threshold speed to gauge progress to your goal.
- Easy run – slower runs in a 2-6 mile range.
- Long run – 6-11mi runs (they keep getting longer towards my half marathon distance goal).
- Speed intervals – oscillate between hard/threshold runs for 30-90 seconds, then recovery slow run for the same time.
- Tired legs – an open-ended run once a week that lets you decide your pace.
I was really happy to see that the Forerunner gave me audible and visual alerts when my pace was outside of the target zone in the plan. I was not “good” at keeping a consistent pace so this was a great tool to learn control over pace.
During the run on the watch one of the data screens shows the pace range and where you’re at.
If you go outside the threshold, you get a pace alert.
The frustrating thing is the pace alerts never really make sense because there are times the alert shows a pace that’s well within the range you’re supposed to be at. In this example my pace should be 9:17-9:47 min/mile. After I took the picture of being at 9:20 I ran much faster (I was actually at closer to 7:30 min/mile) for nearly a quarter mile before the alert came up. I had started to slow down going up a hill before the alert triggered.
What I’ve Figured Out
Garmin’s documentation is super sparse and most people online blame “GPS inaccuracies” any time someone questions behaviors like this. I think I’ve gotten it figured out with what’s going on.
- Pace alerts are based on the average pace for the segment you’re in. When you set up a workout plan (or get them from a Garmin Coach plan) the pace is set for a particular segment as shown in the screenshot above. I also don’t think it’s just a regular average, it feels like it’s weighted or a rolling timeframe.
- Earlier on in a segment, pace alerts are more sensitive because your average speed is volatile with less distance. The alerts come up more often even if you’re trying to stay really close to the edge of the acceptable range.
- Stopping or walking to take a breather can lower your average speed, letting you unintentionally run faster for a short period of time after. This seems like a “no duh” thing but if you stop for any reason – waiting for a traffic light or whatever – it’s easy to exceed your pace range and not get alerted about it for some time. Then you’re surprised that you’re running faster than you should be.
- Instant pace is not super accurate and it’s rounded to five second marks. Pace alerts are to the second so they don’t match the instance pace you see on the first data screen.
Even with knowing all this, I still feel like there’s some software programming glitches making the alerts not logical to us users. It’s really hard to capture what’s happening because, well, you’re running and you can’t reproduce it easily for a technical support case with them.
So use the pace alerts to help guide you and if they end up annoying you, turn them off.
I attended The Lead Developer which is a single day conference for people leading engineering teams / teams of developers in Austin, Texas. I took notes on about ¾ of the talks on my iPad using Goodnotes. I’m getting closer to sketchnotes the more I practice this and I figured why not share what I took.
Videos should be published soon by the organizers.
I attended Swift by Midwest in Chicago (Elk Grove Village) IL this past week. The Klein family did another great job hosting an iOS conference and I enjoyed every minute of it.
I recently bought an iPad Pro 11″ and have been really loving using Goodnotes 5 to take handwritten notes. I thought I’d share my notes with you all in case you wanted to see some of the take-aways from the conference.
Working remote means I’m on a lot of video calls. I’ve come up with a bunch of little tweaks to help with attentiveness and mindfulness during the call. It is important to show you’re listening.
Look at the camera often
When you’re in person you look at people’s eyes to show them you’re listening. Doing that on a video call requires a bit of counter-intuitive body language by looking at the camera. You won’t be looking at the person but they’ll see you looking directly at them. It’s a subtle difference but I’ve found it highly effective.
Also try to place the video call window up the screen towards the camera. Also decrease the size of the window so the person’s eyes are naturally closer to the top of the window (closer to the camera). When you’re not looking at the camera while the person is speaking it’ll still look like you’re generally looking at them. If you see someone’s eyes darting around during a call it’s easy to assume they’re distracted.
Don’t get on a video call unless the other people have your attention. There’s nothing more dismissive than seeing people on the call absorbed in something else. Give the speaker visual cues you’re listening including the occasional nod. Mark yourself as do not disturb and turn off distractions.
Show your hands
Once in a while I’ll lean back or do something to have my hands show up on camera. Why? It shows I’m not typing. If I’m not typing then I’m not doing something else like chatting on Slack or coding. This is just another subtle way to show you’re paying attention.
Take written notes
Hand-written notes force you to not use the keyboard and further pay attention. I generally let people know I like taking hand-written notes so they know why I look down once in a while. Sometimes looking down can be disruptive particularly in 1:1 meetings – conversations will naturally pause. If you need to be less obvious when taking notes then stick with typing notes.
Lighting, sound, camera
Make sure you’re properly lit and don’t have a light behind you that’s washing out your image. Use a headset or headphones to prevent feedback. Try using a higher quality microphone as well instead of the built-in one. If your camera is lower resolution consider getting a decent USB one. Looking and sounding good helps eliminate distractions from any message you’re trying to convey.
Turn off your own video preview
If you can, turn off the little window showing your own live view once you’re sure your lighting is good. You’ll find that once that preview is gone you’ll look more at the person on the other end of the call.
I’ve been on sabbatical from work since mid-August. Today was my first day back. What did I learn in that time?
No single moment of truth achieved
I did not have that quintessential “aha” moment of clarity that I thought might come during this unique time off. This experience was a huge shift for me living a life of priorities only set by myself. I had the ability to do whatever I wanted every day (somewhat) and it took some time to embrace that.
The stars aligned for the timeframe I chose
I had severe angst when I chose the timeframe I did to take my sabbatical. I knew I’d miss our annual all-staff onsite meetup (the Grand Meetup) but I wanted to take the time off during mostly warmer weather this year. Even though I had a list of things I wanted to try to do during my sabbatical, I was giving it room to be whatever it was going to be. It turned out this room was needed.
Our older dog, Burkley, stopped eating regularly and over the course of a month stopped eating entirely. At the end it was clear he was ready to go but his body was holding on even without drinking water. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life was putting Burkley down. I’ve had pets die in my arms before but I’ve never had to help them move along. My soul was crushed. It still aches.
Burkley died the day before the Grand Meetup started. Had I not taken the sabbatical I would haven’t been in a place to travel. I was meant to not be at the GM this year. I was meant to spend the weeks with him before his death knowing what was coming. I got to hang out with B on the floor in the living room for hours at a time just being there for him. I got to go for long runs, cry, feel sad, and recover. That little guy meant more to me than I really understood.
I missed the social aspect of work
My husband got to take a couple weeks off at the beginning of my sabbatical. When he went back to work most of the time I spent alone working projects and playing outside. It wasn’t until the last month or so that I realized I really missed the social interactions of work. The time I spend with coworkers, even with being remote, is meaningful.
Most of what I enjoyed doing doesn’t have to stop
Work at Automattic is extremely flexible and mostly asynchronous depending on what you work on. The things I really did enjoy doing – baking, biking, running, visiting family, home improvements – I can keep doing them. If I need the time during the day I can shift my work schedule. Baking bread can be done during the workday since there’s a lot of time waiting for dough to rise. I can visit my parents too and work from their house if I want to just hang out with them.
It’s okay to not do anything
Mindful meditation teaches you to be okay with doing nothing. Focusing on something singular like breathing is the basis of the practice. It’s okay to be bored. I had to pull from this experience during my sabbatical to tell myself it’s okay to not have to be doing something all the time. I did have lists of things I could do around the house and kept myself busy most days. When I started to notice myself being stressed out with picking the next thing to work on, I stepped back and did something simple like reading or playing with a dog. I feel like I was successful with letting the sabbatical be what is was rather than forcing it to be what I thought it should be like.
I am grateful for the time off of work. I have a better understanding of how my mind works. I value the small moments in life and see them with a more mindful eye.
I also realize I really like what I do and the people I work with. I can’t wait for the next sabbatical!
The last few weeks have been hard for me getting over the loss of Burkley. Every day is a little bit easier. Things like this poem have been helpful. Grab a tissue, it’s a good one.
The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close — we two — these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
I just reached an arbitrary goal of 567 days of closing my red ring on my Apple Watch. I do have rest days once in a while and I’ll set my move goal down about 40% for those days. I’ve forgotten my charger on a trip and ran to an Apple Store to buy another one just to keep it going.
Even if I lost the streak, I’d know I’m still sticking to the daily fitness goal.
On May 10, 2001 Burkley was born. On August 4, 2001 we found Burkley at a pet store, brought him home and named him. We knew he was going to be a huge part of our lives and we would become caring pet parents quickly. Burkley was a very trustworthy dog after he grew out of being a puppy. We could leave him at home without any worry that things would be okay when we got back. He loved being part of our family.
In 2008 he developed signs of Cushing’s Disease. The kind he had was treatable by medication but he had to be on it the rest of his life. It was also not cheap. Surprisingly he tolerated it well and he continued to live a full life.
In 2016 Burkley became a diabetic dog. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder like Cushing’s and frequently are presented together. It isn’t very often that a dog develops diabetes at 15, though. He took the twice daily insulin shots like a champ. He even let us take three glucose readings every day. We had to feed him at 12 hour increments reliably and couldn’t be away from him for more than four to five hours. It was a huge lifestyle change but again worth it.
In August of this year, 2018, Burkley suddenly started bleeding from his mouth. We believe it was due to complications from a bad tooth being infected. That infection also spread to his nasal cavity which then also affected his eyes. He started to show signs of not wanting to eat but would still eat delicious things like cooked chicken and bread. Eventually a couple weeks ago he really gave up eating altogether. He still drank water and used the bathroom until last week. We knew the end was coming so we had family over to say goodbye.
On Friday last week we made the choice to help him move on. Putting him to sleep was the hardest thing I and my husband have ever had to do in life. The experience was traumatic even though Burkley was mostly out of it that last day. I keep replaying events over in my head of his final moments. Seeing his lifeless body emptied my soul of happiness.
We’re slowly getting better every day. We realize and accept the choice we made to help him – it was inevitable that he would die soon anyway and likely in a lot of pain. Burkley hasn’t been himself for a while now but he never complained. Never. It was rare that he ever expressed pain and always managed to still express his love no matter how he felt.
His brother, Wunjo, was able to be there with us that day and got to say goodbye as well.
Everyone who met Burkley says he was a great dog full of personality. Here are some photographs of him so you may be able to glean just how much he meant to us over the years.
We’ll miss you, B. See you some day near the Rainbow Bridge, my pal. ❤️