Noisy Coworkers

Working in a cube farm, my ears perked up to an NPR story about how other people are distracting.

“In general, if a sound is coming from another person, it’s much more disturbing than when it’s coming from a machine,” Alan Hedge at Cornell says, because, as social beings, humans are attuned to man-made sounds. He says overheard conversations, as well as high-pitched and intermittent noises, also draw attention away from tasks at hand.

Of course, open offices are worse. We are not there. (Yet!) And the plans for filling in more spaces are not leveraging open offices.

I have heard many of these like the coughing, sneezing, fingernail clippers, bizarre ringtones, and especially conversations. I have been the culprit for coughing, sneezing, and very loud conversations. Pretty sure I am noisier than most of those around me.

fidget_cube_midnight_grandeThe new workstation keyboards in the cubefarm are much louder than the prior ones. I can hear these when before I could not. Of course, the former coworker who brought his own Logitech to work was known for his very loud typing. I’d thought it was just him. Nope. I now know it always was the keyboard.

The Fidget Cube pictured right is designed to allow people to fidget without clicking their pens. That funny enough is not a problem I’ve had to hear.

We do so much stuff over email or tickets or chat that phone calls are not very common. If I get one, then it almost certainly is a robocall or a marketer or follow-up to post conference spam because I deleted the emails.

Great headphones are how I hide from these distractions. There are fewer and fewer places to hide from others as the organization grows.

The interesting thing is these things kill productivity. They distract us from getting work done. Though, at the same time, when I overhear a conversation that I feel the need to contribute, I have involved myself and helping resolve the situation. Maybe the coworker who left lozenges on my desk was being helpful?

Social Minimalism

Listening to C.G.P.Grey talk about too much stuff in a room making it difficult due to the visual noise. I agree. But I also have an issue with chatter. Lots and lots of people talking over each other bothers me.

The inability to follow all of them is part of what I dislike about them. One-on-one conversation? Sure. A bunch of strangers talking? Okay. Apparently I can tune them out. But, people I know talking? My brain refuses to as easily tune them out.

Maybe one reason why I prefer social media is that I can follow the conversations in an asynchronous multi-tasking way. They can persist longer and cite sources and be better thought out. There are all things I love.

Resolution Progress 2016: Third Quarter

Here is an update on my progress for each resolution with a quarter of the year remaining. In other words, it is crunch time.

  • Read 75 books. Three Quarters is 56.25. I have read 57.
    • Hit 25,000 pages. Three Quarters is 18,750 pages and I have read 18,286 which puts me 464 behind. That is not terrible, but I slid further behind rather than make up ground.
    • Finish series already started. (25 of the 75 books.)
      • Earthsea Cycle Read books #4-5. Still need to read #4-5.
      • Ender’s Shadow Read book 5. Done.
      • The Expanse Read book #2-6, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 2.5, 3.5. Still need to read #3.5, 4-6.
      • The Magicians Read books #2-3. Done.
      • Millennium Read book 4. Done.
      • Robot Read books #0.2-0.6,1-4. Done.
      • 25 total. Three Quarters is 18.75. Read 19. So for this one, I am slightly ahead.
  • Lifting.
    • Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 225. That gives me 15 to go.
    • Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 285 . That gives me 15 to go.
    • Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). The actual 1RM that I did during this period was 365. That exceeds the goal, so it is done.
    • After getting to these, I will shift to reaching the “essential benchmarks” of bench 1.5x body weight (360 lb), squat 2x bodyweight (480), deadlift 2.5x bodyweight (600).
  • Drop to 20% body fat. No progress.
  • Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. Did nothing towards this during our brutal summer. I plan to get back at it this month since it will be cooler.
  • Attend 12 social events when invited. I am going to count having a party as 3. And going to a movie with friends as 1/2. I hosted a party in April which is 3. I attended a  couple movies with friends in a group. And then a cocktail party, birthday party for a 20 year old cat, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. That puts me at 9 which is perfect progress.

(First Quarter, First Half)

Resolution Progress 2016: First Half

Here is an update on my progress for each resolution at the midpoint of the year.

  • Read 75 books. Half is 37.5 and I have read 37. Not far off schedule.
    • Hit 25,000 pages. Half is 12,500 and I have read 11,860 which puts me 640 behind, which is about a whole book.
    • Finish series already started. 24 of the 75 books. 3 of the 6 are done and a good portion of others done.
      • Earthsea Cycle Read books #4-5. Still need to read #4-5.
      • Ender’s Shadow Read book 5. Done.
      • The Expanse Read book #2-6, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 2.5, 3.5. Still need to read #3.5, 4-6.
      • The Magicians Read books #2-3. Done.
      • Millennium Read book 4. Done.
      • Robot Read books #0.2-0.6,1-4. Read #0.2, 1-4. Still need to read #0.4-0.6.
      • 25 total. Half is 12.5. Read 15. So for this one, I am plenty ahead.
  • Lifting.
    • Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). The most recent is 198. That gives me 42 to go. Upping it by 5 pounds every 3 weeks should work.
    • Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). The most recent is 268. That gives me 32 to go. Upping it by 5 pounds every 4 weeks should work.
    • Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). The most recent is 297. That gives me 38 to go. Upping it by 5 pounds every 3 weeks should work.
    • After getting to these, I will shift to reaching the “essential benchmarks” of bench 1.5x body weight (360 lb), squat 2x body weight (480), deadlift 2.5x body weight (600).
  • Drop to 20% body fat. No progress.
  • Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. It is only a bit over 15 minute improvement. And my feet hurt for a week. Once I’ve dropped the weight, it should be easier to achieve. And it is too hot now, so I will try again in the fall starting in late September.
  • Attend 12 social events when invited. I am going to count having a party as 3. And going to a movie with friends as 1/2.

(First Quarter)

Resolution Progress 2016: First Quarter

 

  1. Read 75 books. I should be at 18.75 read by this point. So, 18 is pretty good.
    1. Hit 25,000 pages. I should be at 6,250 pages read, so my 6,270 is on pace.
    2. Finish series already started. I finished the Millennium series (one book) and make progress on both the Robot and Expanse series (4 + 3 books). Just 16 to go.
  2. Lifting.
    1. Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). Hitting about 180.83 according to the app’s numbers. Doing a real 1 rep max in January, I hit 165. After this, I lowered the weight and am building back up, so at this point lower than the 192 calculated I was prior.
    2. Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). Hitting about 250.83 according to the app. Doing a 1 rep max in January, I hit 245. Same as bench, I’ve caught back up to where I was at start of the year.
    3. Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). Hitting about 294 according to the app. Doing a 1 rep max in January, I hit 325. Same as bench, I’ve caught back up to where I was at start of the year.
  3. Drop to 20% body fat. No progress.
  4. Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. I did manage to bring this down to one hour 4 minutes 8 seconds. Since the weather is warmer, I will give it a few more goes to see if I can manage it. The challenge is this is a hilly area and not to lose too much pace going up. I tried running up and that was not working very well, so will do more letting gravity do its thing.
  5. Attend 12 social events when invited. I skipped one and will attend one. So par? I’m even planning to host one which ought to count for like 5.

Resolutions 2016

I try to set achievable, measurable resolutions.

  • Read 75 books. In 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, I set the goal for 52 even though I kept reading far more.
    • Hit 25,000 pages. Last year dropped below 20K, so I really need to get the average back up to something respectable.
    • Finish series already started. 24 of the 75
  • Lifting. I got to each by looking at the past 6 months of progress, calculating the difference and doubling it.
    • Bench 240 pounds (1RM equivalent). I ended 2015 at 192 1RM. So by the above formula, I ended up with 240. That is a bit more than what I might have used for guessing at 2015’s.
    • Squat 300 pounds (1RM eq). I ended 2015 at 250 1RM. That site thinks 310, so OK.
    • Deadlift 335 pounds (1RM eq). I ended 2015 at 290 1RM. The formula predicted 392, but this is the one that burned me last time. That site thinks it should grow about 45, so I added that to last years.
  • Drop to 20% body fat. Monitor said I was at 24.7%. Last year’s 15% was probably too ambitious for me.
  • Do the White and Orange trails in under an hour. It is only a bit over 15 minute improvement. And my feet hurt for a week. Once I’ve dropped the weight, it should be easier to achieve.
  • Attend 12 social events when invited. My social outlets have mostly dissolved. It probably has come time to dust off this 2011 resolution. An average of one a month should manageable.

Resolution Progress 2015: End

OK, the year is completely done, so here is where I am with each resolution.

Yoda the weighlifter smack talk resolution
Bro lift even, do you?
  1. Read 52 books. The goal was 52. I read 70. My Goodreads user challenge. Looking at pages, I managed to read 19,669 compared to an average of 21,815 for the prior four years. So while the number of books is good, they were lighter. (I think my bar was highest with something like 33,000 in a 9 month window in 8th grade, so I could do much better.) SUCCEEDED.
    • Read at least 50% by female authors. Of the 70 books read, 49 are by female authors, so I am on well above with 70%. There at the end, it slid by 5%. (4 by males in the first quarter, 2 in the 2nd, 6 in the 3rd, and 6 in the 4th. So I started off strong but trailed off once it was clear the goal was in hand.) SUCCEEDED.
  2. Weightlifting:
    1. Bench 185 pounds (1RM equivalent). My best during the past month or so is 192.5 1RM. SUCCEEDED.
    2. Squat 245 pounds (1RM eq). My best during the past month of so is 250.83.  SUCCEEDED.
    3. Deadlift 300 pounds (1RM eq). My best during the past month of so is 289.83. FAILED. I started at 151.66 about 3 months in and improved by 138.
    4. Drop to about 15% body fat. No progress. A monitor thingy says 24.7% which is down from calipers saying the suprailiac is 25.6%. FAILED.
    5. Bring HIIT up to about 50-50. No progress. FAILED. I did not put enough priority on as I thought I would in setting the goal.
  3. Take a trip at least 300 miles away from home. Completed first quarter with a trip to Amelia Island and Jekyll Island. And a second trip to Mexico Beach at 378 miles. SUCCEEDED.
  4. Declutter Part II. No progress. FAILED.

Resolution Conclusions

On the whole, there were more resolution successes than failures. Of the failures, the deadlift resolution was 6.7% shy which at the rate of 11.5 improvement a month, I might hit the mark in another month. According to my trainer, deadlift is my most disadvantaged lift because I am so tall. So, the resolution might have been too ambitious despite choosing something lower than 305 off that random blog that inspired the resolution.

Resolution Progress 2015: Third Quarter

OK, the year is about three quarters done, so here is where I am with each resolution.

  1. Read 52 books. Three-quarters of 52 is 39. I am close to done at 49. My Goodreads user challenge. With 5 in progress now, and 3 more than half read, this should be complete soon.
    • Read at least 50% by female authors. Of the 49 books read so far, 37 are by female authors, so I am on well above with 75%. (I’m unlikely to fall beneath 50% by even reading all male author books through the end of the year.)
  2. Weightlifting:
    1. Bench 185 pounds (1RM equivalent). My best during the past month or so is 171 1RM. That is 64 up from the 107 1RM back at the start of the year. And 20 up from three months ago. Just 14 more to go by the end of the year, I think I can do it.
    2. Squat 245 pounds (1RM eq). Completed at the half.
    3. Deadlift 300 pounds (1RM eq). My best during the past month or so is 278 1RM. Looks like since July the gain has been about 62 pounds. This looks manageable as I just need another third of that progress to hit the goal.
    4. Drop to about 15% body fat. No progress.
    5. Bring HIIT up to about 50-50. No progress.
  3. Take a trip at least 300 miles away from home. Completed first quarter.
  4. Declutter Part II. No progress.

Resolution Progress 2015: First Half

Here is where I am about halfway through the year.

  1. Read 52 books. A half of 52 is 26. I am a few books ahead at 34. My Goodreads user challenge.
    • Read at least 50% by female authors. Of the 34 books read so far, 28 are by female authors, so I am on well above with 82%.
  2. Weightlifting:
    1. Bench 185 pounds (1RM equivalent). My best during the past month or so is 157.5 1RM. That is 50.5 up from the 107 1RM back at the start of the year. Just 27.5 more to go. I was recently happy to manage two 45 lb plates on the bar 5x5s. Guess I get to be a big boy now.
    2. Squat 245 pounds (1RM eq). My best during the past month or so is 262.5 1RM. That is 155.5 up from the 107 1RM back at the start of the year. That completes the goal. Guess I will reset for another 105 pounds for 350.
    3. Deadlift 300 pounds (1RM eq). My best during the past month or so is 273.33 1RM. That is 121.67 up from the 151.66 1RM last quarter. Just 26.67 more to go.
    4. Drop to about 15% body fat. No progress.
    5. Bring HIIT up to about 50-50. No progress.
  3. Take a trip at least 300 miles away from home. Completed first quarter.
  4. Declutter Part II. No progress.

 

RollCall For The Helicopter Child

The AJC had an interesting article about RollCall Safety Text, an app which automates “I’m OK” messages for loved ones. Failing to get such a message lets someone know something might be wrong. The intended audience is for kids off at college to send these to parents. There is a note near the bottom:

While the app came about with college students in mind, Thomas says it can also be useful to people who have family members whom they don’t see or hear from daily.

This fits my situation with my parents. I guess that makes me a helicopter child. (OK that’s hyperbolic.) Both are pretty independent and quite capable. But, if something were to happen, then it very well could be a long time before someone noticed. I’m reminded of a great-aunt who had a stroke and no one knew until her neighbors noticed her in the yard.

At present I kind of already have this as one of them is on Facebook and likes pretty much everything (I think more to indicate it has been read than an actual indication of liking it). Seeing these on my posts is my equivalent of RollCall. And yes, I did call this parent once when I realized I had not seen anything in a few days.

The other? Yeah, it might be good to have something like RollCall.