Don’t Neglect Tampons

I visited an AT&T emergency response validation testing session several years ago. After Hurricane Katrina they were able to start restoring service as soon as the area was considered safe enough for their people to enter.

What makes this possible for such teams? Training. Equipment. Food. Water. Most people will flag those.

What about toilet paper? And washing machines for what the teams wear under the protection gear? And sunscreen for when they finally get out from under the protective gear? And tampons? And several hundred other taken-for-granted details that become huge and potentially life threatening in their absence while standing in a toxic soup of stagnant storm water who-knows-what infused trying to restore basic communications for emergency responders.

When working on disaster recovery or an emergency response plan, don’t draft it in isolation. Benefit from other’s learning and iterations (lessons learned). It’s much better to prepare for something with a shopping list than a blank piece of paper. This is not an area where non disclosure is good for anyone.

This is true in the command center as well. How can efficient effective direction & information get communicated when key people don’t have access to their insulin or blood pressure medication? How do you manage your technical expert’s dairy problem while all the food you have access to is a vending machine full of chocolate bars?

Which assumes the machines will be full. What if it’s the day before restock? What if the restocking person broke up with their significant other or was high or was distracted? Are humans part of your calculation?

Granted, squirrelling away prescription medication isn’t easy (& maybe illegal where you are) but knowing the challenge exists before it’s a problem is the first step to solving it. Other things, like stockpiling daily-free & gluten-free food, tampons, tissues, toilet paper, and everything else identified from other’s work and your own tabletop exercises is relatively easy to manage.

And you? What are your thoughts?

TV after 6
If I watch TV, streaming or terrestrial or whatever, too early in my day I am mentally and physically sluggish. I don’t know if it applies to all videos. I don’t know if a neat emacs video or something security related or the news would trigger it, for example. Entertainment videos definitely do trigger a sloth like lethargy I sometimes cannot shake.

It seems the exercise variable doesn’t help. If I fire up a review of the US late night talk shows’ takes on a political event after time in the gym I am as useless as if I had stayed in bed.

Liberating an idea from Mark Bittman, I will try to keep my entertainment viewing to the evening.

I’d love to ditch it completely. I know that’s unlikely for me. I’ve a weird addictive thing with some TV. I hate The Sopranos. I love The Good Wife. I can’t stand reality TV but give me a home repair & improvement show and I will binge it. I’ll take The Prisoner over Lost any day of the week.

I will queue shows for an extended illness or flights to & from the US viewing. Living in Japan now can make that difficult.

The bigger difficulty is on my time, attention, and energy on the everyday.

It seems silly to track, but I will start another calendar for daily X-ing when I avoid an early morning video hit.

Anyone else challenged thusly?

Typhoon #18

What a great name!

The storm is due to hit tomorrow but we already have overcast skies and cool air. It will make the Belgian Beer festival in Roppongi a less sun blasted event than Oktoberfest in Hibya a few weeks ago.

As to the storm’s name, obviously the Weather Channel et al have not worked their marketing black magic here.

Little things

My Saturday started shaky after a nice wake up. The service based apps TextExpander and 1Password set me off with their poor Windows support and nagging to move to their subscription services. This was made worse by my actual subscription to TextExpander not working. While I was struggling with these highly important issues my coffee shop was loudly playing American pop and pop country music. I am often caught by surprise about how much I hate pop music. Capping it off there was a photo shoot right out front for what I think is a J-pop girl band. My stoicism was truly put to the test this morning. Let’s see how I bounce back.

Undo that mess: Fixing code formatting

Over at the Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger site, Steven Pigeon wrote this post about cleaning up code formatting.

Diving head first into Emacs again via rebuilding my init.el means a lot of copy-n-paste. I do not agree with everyone else’s coding conventions.

I will stay tuned for the next installment of Steven’s code plus keep an eye on the comments, then copy-n-paste for my own purposes!

Energy Trifecta

I learned something I already knew: exercise, diet, and sleep work together on energy.

I exercised twice on Monday. I ate well rounded balanced meals. I stayed off of alcohol.

I slept poorly. I tossed and turned. I didn’t fall asleep until well after 22:00 but still woke by 04:30. I was a good boy and still exercised and ate a good breakfast, but Tuesday I was exhausted. Tired equals low focus, so my nascent org config is under something of a test.

Ideally my org setup will help keep me productive when my energy and focus is low. It’s kind of working but my data is all over the place, digitally speaking.

What do you do to stay productive when your energy is low or focus is scattered?


Edgar Rojas and I discussed excercise on an episode of the PVC Security podcast. He was coaching soccer (football) and being mobile while counting his steps. He was getting healthy and losing weight and feeling good.

I talked about my challenges with exercise. To sum up: I do not like exercise. Even when I was at my peak active in high school and college, playing sports and such, I did not like exercise. I loved competition, but not exercise. I never got the “runners high”, even when I ran cross country as part of baseball preseason training.

Over the years I tried other plans for health, the 7 minute workout and yoga and a walking desk. Only the last one stuck, but as much as I walked I laid plywood down and set up my tall chair.

Health wise, the event that caused the greatest benefit was when I was laid off in 2013. I was over 260 pounds, 118 kilograms, from stress and travel (2 out of every 3 weeks on the road) and a crazy sleep schedule to support my global operations team. I got down to my current 96 kg, 211 lbs, pretty quickly but since platoed at that weight.

A recent health scare got me re-evaluating my general health. I cut back drastically on my alcohol intake. I moved to a largely pescitarian diet (though cheese remains a delicious challenge). I go vegetarian or vegan as much as possible, a challenge in Japan. The theoretical needle on my digital smart scale barely registered the changes.

I hit the gym.

Living in Japan means, among other things, that daylight savings time is not a thing. Around the Summer Solstice the sun is up before 04:30. I long ago preferred an early start to my day. 04:30 is a bit extreme, yet that is when I wake up without an alarm. I might “sleep in” to an incredible 05:15, but it is a rare day I sleep past that.

What to do?

I hit the gym.

My building has a gym in the 2nd sub basement past the bicycle parking garage. In the gym there are three treadmills, two cycling devices, and four weight-type machines. There is another space for yoga and 7 minute workouts and such.

I hit the gym after waking up. I press start on the coffee maker and head out the door. Being Japan, I wear outdoor shoes to transit from my apartment to the gym, then change into my workout shoes (and yes, I did originally type tennis shoes because I am of a certain age).

I like the machines. I like the weight machine were I can work out my upper body three different ways that all hurt different. I like the machine where I can do something like row a boat or pull down a … I do not know … a dead body? I like the machine where I can work out my legs while on my back and then while on my front. Even the treadmill, the foundation of my walking desk, gets new found respect in light of the other gizmos and gadgets.

These are early days, but I hit the gym 5 of 7 of these early days.

The weirdness is that there is no direct competition. If I had a brother or sister or friend to compete against, I can see it. But I do not. I wanted to work out today, but I know there needs to be a rest and recovery day. Even cross country running for baseball in high school, I did it more to beat my friends and teammates than to be healthy or anything.

Will I sustain this?

I do not know.

What I do know is that I am feeling the cognitive benefits. Combining it with the concept of Deep Work means I get serious work done before I get mired in meetings to a certain extent. A lot of my meetings involve the US and Europe, so a 06:00 or 23:00 conference call happen.

When my calendar is clear, using the time for deep work after a workout seems, based off of a short term anecdotal bullshit, to do me good.

Will I sustain this?

I do not know.

I know that I want to sustain this. I also know that no one sabotages me like I do. I am my own worst enemy, as we all are to ourselves.

I like that I seem to like those damn machines. Maybe that is enough.

What about you? Does any of this ring true to you? Share your thoughts and comments.