drug to drug interaction

Focusing Up

Balanced is a great little app. I know I’ve plugged it before, but it has to be the best “to-do” productivity management type app out there, well worth the small fee for the unlimited “pro” version. I’ve been using it now for over 3 months and the results are pretty telling. I’ve been annoyingly diligent in entering each task, item, project, or initiative I want to spend time on in the app. I’ve been scheduling my ideal time spent on each app and then checking in each time I actually complete or work on a particular item.

Having taken the time this passed week to do something of a look back, I took advantage of the app’s activity tracking feast urges.  The results have given me real food for thought in considering the paths that lie ahead and real data to benchmark effort to reward ratio of the various things I spend my free time doing.

The first conclusion, I have too many balls in the air and it’s time to focus up. There’s a lot of great interesting projects to work on, but there’s only so much time. Jamming my limited free time with working on too many things has led to a lack of relaxation space, efforts that are too diversified and too diluted, and hence a lack of satisfaction in rarely achieving milestones on schedule or completing something.

Second, what I’ve been focusing my efforts on has been primarily driven by others and unfortunately just isn’t my passion. Some would say, well then why work on it? Well, my answer to that is really, but sadly only, it seemed interesting and like a good idea at the time 🙂

Lastly, What I’m working on today is completely disconnected from where I want to end up in the future.


So in keeping with  those points, It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to shutter my current app businesses and end my participation in a new venture that I had hoped to launch with a pair of good friends; Best of luck to them as they move it forward and drive it forward toward a disruptive launch. The app businesses have, surprisingly without real active management for over a year, continued to sell product and be break even, but the current state is a far cry from what I have in mind when I had excitedly launched the businesses. Shutting them down doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be back, but it’s the end of this chapter and the end of that work for now.

With my 35th birthday just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to make sure today’s actions match the goals I’m holding for tomorrow. More on that to come, when the time is right to share.

 

Fitness Catch-up – Crunch Week

Between the barrage of colds, repeated bouts with the flu, an onslaught of work, and an overall not entirely uplifting atmosphere in the city lately, the focus on my personal fitness hasn’t really managed to become a priority, despite it’s prominent placement on my new year’s resolution list.

Though I wouldn’t have thought myself sedentary, being reduced to a wheezing, sweaty mess while jogging and pushing my son in the Chariot this past week was a moment of reckoning. Perhaps worst of all, I was running with my brother and had to rely on him to push the chariot for the majority of the 10km route. It didn’t take a session of deep meditation to isolate the cause; My regular lunch runs and morning gym workouts have come to be replaced with eating out everyday (pho, donairs, pizza, etc) and sleeping in respectively.

The response, shock the system and revive my old, hard fought morning rituals and regular workouts. Though it won’t be sustainable for much longer that a week, I’m going to kick off a Fitness crush week, with the overarching challenge of trying to lose 5 pounds in 1 week. I figure, it’s important to act now, while the guilt and shame are fresh, providing some solid motivation for change. The process won’t be enjoyable, mainly because I have significant inertia to overcome, but I’m confident I’ll be able to live without a pleasure feedback loop for 7 days (maybe 6 days, if a cheat day is deserved we’ll see :)).

Right now, or rather, just before I sat down to write this post, I weighed in at 202.5. I’m gunning for 197.5 or better by next Sunday.

It’s going to be something; 7 days of high protein and high fibre eating, 5 days of morning gym sessions and 6 days of lunch Carido. But perhaps, what I’m dreading most, is Saturday morning Yoga – I can feel my muscles screaming and my joints popping in inflexible protest already.

Here goes… getting old wasn’t, or rather, isn’t as advertised.

Turbulent Times

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Nobody can really deny these are turbulent times; One could argue they’re turbulent for any number of reasons, but of the multitude of reasons that the world is worse today than yesterday, it’s the commodities crash that occupies my thoughts as of late.

Crashes, Booms and Busts, aren’t unheard of and they’ve been a fairly common theme through my life.

While I was growing up in Newfoundland, the spectacular collapse of the fishery, culminating with the 1992 moratorium decimated the economy of my home town and most of the province.

Although I wasn’t directly impacted by that economic implosion, honestly, I grew up never really appreciating what anything less than 15% unemployment could be like. That seemingly perpetual recession (read as +20% unemployment) only really began to lift with significant government investment in infrastructure and an uptick in the price of oil. I can still clearly remember my junior high social studies teacher saying how the Government and some of the big oil companies were really taking a risky bet, hoping that Hibernia would pay off if oil could somehow stay above $15/bbl, if it went above $20/bbl they’d be set. That was 1994, construction was underway, oil was somewhere around $14/bbl, and unemployment had finally started to decline below 20%.

http://www.stats.gov.nl.ca/statistics/Labour/PDF/UnempRate.pdf

 

Years later, I first entered the energy industry with bright eyes in 2006 and then full-time after graduation from engineering in 2008. Graphs of historical Oil and Gas futures are not hard to find these days, and below are 2 more, clearly showing the trend and illustrating the sentiment around that time. I was hired into what was then the dawn of a new Energy Age. Industry was faced with the challenge of peak oil, there was (and still is) the challenge of meeting the massive projected energy requirements of a human population on a path of exponential growth. August 2008 seems like ancient history now, and it certainly did in December 2008, when after 4 months on the job, every project I had been working on was suddenly canceled.

 

Since those uncertain days through most of 2009, there’s been highs and lows; but to be honest, mostly highs with work alongside great people on awesome challenging projects that I’m very proud to have been part. But now, when you look at the graphs and you ask around, something’s different this time. There is still certainty that a rebound will come, but this time there is doubt on the timing of the rebound and its magnitude; you see, this crash has been engineered.

It’s been engineered by the willful and arguably deliberate oversupply of the market. Some would blame OPEC, and maybe a share of the blame does reside there, but there’s also something else. There’s the maximization of all available production by essentially every producing company in existence to maximize cashflow and hopefully at least partially offset the impact of the lower commodity prices to the balance sheet.

It’s also been engineered by the incremental evolution of unconventional hydrocarbon extraction technology and continuous improvement of techniques. These improvements though initially slow in pace and costly, have resulted in previously uneconomic or unfeasible reservoirs “suddenly” becoming economic and often, prolific producers, with ever quickening delivery cycle times.

When you stop to think about the scale of this crash; the increasing unemployment; the fact that a large share of producing oil and gas companies are losing money everyday, you realize it really is a fight for survival, where the positive cashflow, or even the prospect of near term positive cashflow is license to live another day.

The effects here in Calgary haven’t gone unnoticed. There’s really no problem getting a parking spot anywhere downtown anymore; Crowded lunch lines seem like a distance memory; Traffic congestion (barring that caused by collisions and weather) seems to be a thing of the past; And more unfortunately, it seems like everyone knows someone who’s out of work or someone who’s under threat of unplanned unemployment.

I have hope that a turn around is sooner than later, but in the meantime we’re taking a cautious approach and a measured outlook. We’ll see what the future holds one day at a time and in the meantime, we’ll keep living each day like there may be no tomorrow… what else can you do? I mean other than delay the Porsche purchase another year? If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that living with uncertainty, even turbulence, is simply the norm, even if the cause isn’t.

 

………………..

And, in case you’re interested or otherwise, Just for reference, The Annualized Average unemployment for all provinces, with the Canadian average included, summary table with the data here: www.stats.gov.nl.ca/statistics/Labour/PDF/UnempRate.pdf

(Note, historical annualized NL unemployment always appears to show high, attributable in part to the large share of the population that relies of seasonal work)

all_canada_unemployment

Getting [re]organized

With Spring definitively in the air and the end of the first Quarter within sight, the long Easter Weekend has been a great break to catch up and take stock of what’s happened. I’ve knocked off a few goals that I’d set for myself, but progress has, or rather was, largely hampered by continuous bouts with the flu and poor time management (again!).

In February, I started using a productivity app that came highly recommended from my mentor. I’d been introduced to Balanced before by my friend Matt as a good analogue for an App dev project we were contemplating. Now a month into using it, Balanced is probably the best To-Do List/Time Management/Goal setting app I’ve ever used. While it did take a few days to get used to its UI, I’m now using it religiously to govern my time management across my focus areas:

  1. Family
  2. Health & Exercise (running, training, etc)
  3. Self Improvement (study, learning, reading)
  4. Projects (building apps, etc)

I was initially hesitant to rely on an app on my phone vs. more traditional methods like journaling or maintaining a To-do list, but it has really worked out. Really, it comes down to what’s easy enough to be hassle free to update, but at the same time, complex enough to provide meaningful context and day planning abilities. So far, it’s Balanced for me. I’m not a huge one for reviews, but this app is worth a shot if you’re looking for something to help with planning and managing your day. To provide full disclosure, I did pay to upgrade it to the full/unrestricted version after the first few days, having it limited to only 5 activities really wasn’t powerful enough to do much of anything, but it was a decent enough space to trial it and figure out that it was worth the upgrade fee.


Day Care and the Baby Flu

I suppose I’ve always been pretty lucky to be healthy, even in years where I haven’t banked on the flu shot (read as: too lazy to get the shot), I’ve never really had to deal with being sick beyond the point where I couldn’t politely manage it with some Kleenex and some hand sanitizer.

Scratch that…. my eyes have been opened and now I truly understand the value and the beauty that is being healthy. Not only has this been a very eventful flu season for us, it’s been by far the most sick I’ve been in my entire life.

First things first, I’m 100% certain that the next mega pandemic will establish itself within the efficient germ sharing confines of a daycare.

That’s right, our son has started in daycare and with it, our house has been turned upside down. He however, loves it and rightfully so, he’s actually doing great. Sure he’s had a perpetual runny nose, a cough that comes and goes, and has conquered a fever or two, but that’s all part of building an epic immune system right?

I had been warned by work colleagues further along in the parenting funnel that the worst was yet to come. “Just wait” they said, “once day care starts, you won’t know what hit you”. But (of course) I naively choose to believe that, that simply was not going to happen to me. I mean, I’m healthy! I don’t get sick, I get my flu shot, an app on my phone tells me that my Heart Rate and Blood pressure are optimal. Not to mention, I drink my fluids, I work out, and I have chicken noodle soup sometimes just for the hell of it. Ha! So unbelievably wrong!

I suppose I have an excuse for my naivety, having gotten a little old and not having been around kids for a while, maybe I took the societal benefits of common hand washing, covered coughs, and not being vomited on for granted.

Not only have I never been this sick, I’ve set new personal records for:

  •  Sick Days (as depicted below: daytime cartoon binge watching in bed)
  • Vomiting (ya… awesome)
  • Laundry cycles
  • Bed/crib sheet changes

Oh well, we’re all getting our immune systems upgraded and stress tested together and another significant plus: the stomach flu is a great ab workout.

But, look at this guy, cuddled up, watching tv…. I wouldn’t change a thing… well except maybe the vomiting.

 

A photo posted by Colum Furey (@csfurey) on

The Year Ahead: Resolutions for 2016

I had mixed success in tackling my 2015 resolution list. Really where I failed to cross items off my list was simply because I consciously refocused a lot of my time being a Dad or I exercising crap time management (read as too much TV, or too exhausted to do anything).

However, 2016 is a new year that despite everything that’s going on, holds some bold promise and potential to be the greatest year yet. I’m really looking to challenge myself in 2016, become healthier, become more resilient, refocus and aggressively develop for the future, and achieve a much better defined work/life balance.

But overall, I want 2016 to be the year where I follow through on everything; Where I act on ideas, overcome obstacles and cut out detractors. I want 2016 to be a year that is defined by Action, change, and Tremendous Fun.

Education Challenge

Every time I go back to Halifax or I visit another University Campus I feel the draw. In 2016 this is something I’m finally going act on as I’ve been scoping MBa programs for a while now. I’ve already signed up to write the GMAT and I’m burying myself in study. I don’t know where this will end up yet, but I’m resolving to make some applications for 2017 this year. More details on this will surely come.

Reading & Writing Challenge

I suffered several starts and stops in my goal to write 1000 words per day a last year. Nowhere is that shortcoming better exemplified than here on this blog with a Whopping 8 posts for all of last year.I did get on a bit of a hot streak with books over the summer but ultimately all fell victim to a bad work/life balance.

This year, I’m challenging myself to read 26 books (averaging 1 every 2 weeks) and nail an average of 1000 words per day for a grand total of 365,000 words written/published/saved by year-end.

Fitness & Health

I got off to a pretty solid start in 2015,  however I then fell into a sad state or repair only to get reinvigorated through the last quarter of the year. I’m looking to keep some momentum up now and have 2016 be the year I become the fittest I’ve ever been. I want to crush my marathon PR of 3:40 and really work on strength training. Like my first running coach used to say “The hardest step you take on any run is the first one out the door”, well one day into the new year and I’m still on track.

Home Improvement Projects & Business Hobby Challenge

My wife, Jen and I have talked at length about getting a new hobby together. We used to paint and do pottery before the need for a babysitter changed things. During the summer we’re pretty frequently in the garden together but with half of the year consumed by Winter here, we need something else. In 2016 we’re going to pursue a business opportunity and see where it goes. There are those that say never work with family, and then there are those that couldn’t be happier working couple teams. Either way, it won’t be our primary employment (at least not at the start), it’ll be strictly a hobby, so we’ll see where it goes.

I’m looking to catch up on some deferred projects from 2015 over the course of the year. Namely, put in a retaining wall and re-landscaped garden in our back yard, a built-in fire pit, and finishing the Garage interior. On top of that there’s a host of more minor home improvements that are on the list. Ultimately, we’re looking to position ourselves to take advantage of what looks like it may be a pretty active real estate market in Calgary in 2016.

Geek Hobbies

On the other side of things, I want to get back into being an engineer at home. At my Day job, I work much more in a Project Management Capacity with my technical work focused almost exclusively to conceptual design. I am feeling the NEED to create and make again. To this effect I’m looking to refresh my coding skills with some small little projects and work on hacking some hardware. I have my eye on a couple of projects already with some of the hardware already on hand:

  • First Up: raspberry Pi powered Weather Monitoring Station with a webserver for displaying measurements
  • Solar Powered Garage
  • Micro wind Turbine Build
  • Travel Hacking: I’ve lost my airline status and I’m dreading losing the perks for whenever our next trip is. I’m committing to learning up on and getting into Travel Hacking. Why pay full price when you can go for almost nothing?

2016 is a new year and it holds some bold promise. I’m anxious to get started and looking forward to sharing the adventures and the lessons.

#LetsGetStarted

Reflecting on 2015

2015 has been an incredible year. Sure, it goes without saying that it has been an incredibly turbulent year for the industry in which I currently make my livelihood, but it has also been an amazingly satisfying and life changing year. It’s been a year filled with some pretty amazing firsts, some great success and some inspiring albeit painful lessons.

A year ago, having only been a father for a little over a month, I set some ambitious goals, not truly appreciating what was ahead of me or just how important my new role as a Dad would become to me.

family_2015_Fotor_Collage

Family

Over the last year our little son has blossomed. He’s developing a real personality and his true inquisitive and exploring nature are beginning to show. Having started the year at just over 6lbs, he’s now heading north of 24lbs. It’s fair to say most of my waking time has been spent, playing with, minding, teaching and just getting to know our son. I can’t wait for 2016. Being a father has proven to be so much more rewarding than I ever thought, it’s given me new focus and new meaning in life.

travel_2015_Fotor_Collage

Travel

Having a young baby prioritizes where money is spent a little differently than I had figured, but then again, this is my first time being a parent and even despite this we managed to enjoy some pretty epic vacations. In April we zipped off for a couple of weeks to Maui. It was and still is the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken, and that was with a 5 month old! We traveled across the country visiting family, seeing my sister graduate from law school,  my cousin get married, celebrating milestone birthdays for both grandfathers, Thanksgiving in Ottawa and Christmas in Newfoundland. Even with all these trips, we still didn’t manage to preserve our airline loyalty status, but more on plans around that to come.

 

2015_run_performanceHealth And Fitness

I had hoped to run several raves and a couple of marathons in 2015. While I still did manage to get in almost 85hrs of running totaling 943km throughout the year, I didn’t manage to get in a single race.

 

Businesses & Ambition

Not a lot of good news here. My side businesses have proven to not be focus areas for me in 2015. Partly due to my focus on being a Dad and partly due to poor management of my personal time, I haven’t gotten anywhere close to what I had hoped to achieve in 2015 with App Development and some of the other startups I contemplated with friends.

 

 

What Went Well:

Family Focus: At the End of 2014 we added our Son Charles to our family. It’s been an amazing whirlwind of change to every aspect of our life and although there has been some sacrifice the addition to our lives has been amazing. Time seems to be flying by as we watch our little man grow up.

Travel: We made a lot of great trips in 2015 that were predominantly family focused. So many great memories and great times had! In 2016 we’re looking to set some of our traditions, but more on this to come.

Fitness: I’m 7lbs lighter than last year with a resting heart rate now around 44bpm. My blood pressure is great and my average casual pace (with a dog) is down to 5:24/km. It’s a good news story but there’s room for improvement with speed work and strength training.

 

What Didn’t go so well:

Personal Time Management: With the change in our household of having a baby, coping with the stress of an economy and industry close to implosion, and having a demanding day job have essentially shattered any time management practices I’d had in place. I’ve tried repeatedly and failed to set aside time for working on projects, hobbies, training and development. Huge area for improvement here.

Business & Projects: Further to the above, side businesses and projects were essentially a total bust in 2015. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this over this Christmas vacation and will have more posts coming on plans to regroup and deal with this. I made some not insignificant spend on some of the startups and learned some lessons that I’m looking forward to sharing.

Racing: 2015 was a year of absence for me from the road running circuit. I’m looking forward to better planning out my calendar for 2016 and avoiding the conflicts that forced some of my withdrawls while getting stronger and faster than ever.

With the NYE countdown now ringing along and only a few more hours to go, I’m more than ready to get a start in 2016, I’m setting some pretty ambitious targets for myself with some pretty clear focus, but more on that to come.

 

Into Fall and End of the Drought

It’s fall, there’s no denying it in Calgary. The leaves quickly turned and have mostly fallen to the ground. Neighborhood lawns are peppered with Election signs and warm sunny summer days are just fading memories.

The quick onset of Fall in Calgary is something that still 7 years after moving here sort of catches me in an annual state of surprise. It seems like the leaves only begin turning and then suddenly they’re on the ground and covered in that first, although temporary, blanket of snow. 

  
Admittedly, the maintenance and updating of this website had fallen by the wayside during my first very very busy summer as a Dad. However, with a calmer onset of fall and with our son sleeping like a champ, I’m hoping to catchup on a serious backlog on my to-do list, which actually extends back to my pre-parent status. Stay tuned, more to come.
 

A Perfect Vacation

Often the greatness of a vacation can be underscored further based on how hard it is to come back to “normal life”. For many reasons, not just the post-vacation depression, our recent trip to Maui was perhaps as close to a perfect vacation as I’ve ever been on.

IMG_0047_Fotor_Collage

I had a nagging worry in the back of my mind days before we woke up at 4am and threw Charlie’s delicate but hard fought sleep schedule into complete disarray. How would he be on the plane? Would he hate the heat of Hawaii? Would it rain the whole time?

As it turns out, airplanes (at least for an infant of 4-5 months of age) are essentially just very expensive, super sized vibrating white noise generators. The end result for our and every traveling infant on the plane, they Sleep and Eat the entire time, aided with well timed feedings during liftoff and landing to help with pressure adjustments. I was dumbfounded, we weren’t “those parents” with the kid that found the energy to scream for 7 straight hours. Sure there was some awkward baby juggling in the tight bathroom as a I wrestled the change table down and made sure not to touch anything, but no harm. The flight attendants and really the whole airline experience was pretty incredible, to the point where Westjet may be now be my favorite airline (at least for family travel). Westjet, you are finally forgiven for losing my bags during reading week 12 years ago 🙂

But onto Hawaii, and more specifically Maui. Everyone has a picture of their perfect place in their mind. Mine always has been this stereotypical tropical island. A lush island soaked in sun with a cloud shrouded mountain in the middle.

As we began our descent and cleared the haze of the thermocline the beauty of the Hawaiian islands was clear below. It looked like everything I’d ever dreamed of in the perfect place. Beach ringed, lush green, pure tropical paradise. As we moved through the open air airport, we basked in the warmed, sun and humidity. Again, another needless fear, Charlie seemed to enjoy the warmth with the odd cooling breeze.

Now, planning for a potentially cranky kid and the exhaustion that accompanies that, we made sure we were at a resort that was completely geared toward families. Moreover, we selected a hotel that essentially represented the “Don’t lift a finger, we’ve got this” mantra. The Fairmont Kea Lani was outstanding, not only beautiful but we were immediately swept up into the “You’re on vacation, stop worrying” island life feeling.

Another unexpected bonus, Hawaii is 4 hours ahead in time from Mountain Time; Translation, waking up at 6am feels like sleeping in until 10am. With almost no effort, I slipped into a vacation routine of waking up at 6am, quietly slipping out while everyone else slept, chatting up the pool attendants and reserving pool side loungers, then hitting the beach for an 8km slog leisurely beach run, dodging the crashing waves (I only came back to the hotel dry once).

In addition to sneaking in a daily sunrise run, my wife and I managed to take turns between playing in the ocean like a little kids and baby sitting little kids; I also managed to get some quiet time in every day to meditate, and just have some nice (baby quiet) time with my beautiful wife. While the luxury beach front of Maui may not be as imposing a setting for meditation as say, sitting cliffside within the caldera of Santorini, the rhythm of the ocean works well enough. 🙂

My own biases aside, Maui itself is almost incomprehensibly beautiful with incredible places to eat, adventure and luxury to satisfy every desire and we only just barely scratched the surface. It’s really hard to put in words just how amazing this long overdue vacation for us was. Perhaps the best review I can offer is, We will definitely 100% be back.. and soon!

Waterproof Photography

IMG_1313_Fotor_CollageI’ve wanted a waterproof camera for a long time, almost as long as I can remember, pretty much ever since was old enough to understand what I was looking at in my Parent’s National Geographic Magazines.

I had debated getting a “waterproof to 3.1m” Olympus point and shoot when I was preparing for what turned out to be an Epic European backpacking trip back in 2008. Given different drivers at the time, I decided the $55 premium for waterproofing would be better put toward beer and other such end-of-collage trip variable expenses and in stead I elected to get the non-waterproof version of the camera. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that on the FIRST night in Europe we were caught in a brutal downpour. Despite best our efforts of running from the cover of awning to awning in Munich. By the time we got back to our hostel from the beer hall, we were water logged. The camera never turned on again. It didn’t take more than 30 mins the next day to cement my regret as I ended up buying the same camera at a %15 euro premium (also non waterproof).

Ever since I’ve never been able to argue the need for a waterproof camera, Especially given how my wife and I love all things water: the ocean, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, beach, water fights, etc. It turns out all the things we enjoy on vacation are also the best camera killers (i.e. sand and water).. We have a drawer full of dead/vacation killed point and shoot cameras.

So despite learning my lesson repeatedly and despite the fact that I’ve always wanted a “waterproof” camera, I really hate the idea of hauling around multiples of anything just because their single function devices such as a normal camera and a water proof camera.

In preparation for our upcoming trip to Hawaii, I again scanned all the available tech offerings. Funnily enough, the first listing I came across was the very highly rated updated model of the Olympus point and shoot that I decided against 8 years ago. I looked over the specs and after some brief thought, added it to my cart on amazon.ca. But just before checking out, I reviewed the specs again, it bothered me. The camera’s specs were more than a generation behind the camera built into my iPhone 6. I was more than a little bugged by this. I started thinking, there had to be a case that would work for my phone.

I searched endlessly, framed by the thought that it had to be a hard case like something my pro photog friends have for their DSLRs. Sure, there was, but phone cases for $150-$500? I might as well just get the olympus and treat it as a disposable.

I had just about given up and was about to go back to the checkout of the Olympus point and shoot when I saw that section at the bottom of an amazon item page that says “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..” and there I saw the FRiEQ universal smart phone case.

For $25, it was a waterproof phone case to (certified waterproof to 100ft), sandproof and floating! The waterproof depth certification was 3x anything I’d even seen for more than 5x the cost in a hard case. It seemed to be a little too good to be true, but for $25, a 5 star rating with solid reviews, and with amazon prime, I felt it was worth it, and well if it was crap I could return it no hassle.

Now I’ll admit, the first time we brought it to the pool, I was nervous. I had tested it in the bathroom sink without my phone in it first and it had worked brilliantly, but now I was standing on the side of the pool about to test it to 10ft with my phone in it. With my Son and wife in the pool, I jumped in; no leaks. I let it go from the bottom of the pool and it buoyed straight up to just beneath the surface. I mean, this thing is little more than an ultra durable plastic bag with some float material and a waterproof clamp to seal it all in, but it’s awesome, and the touch screen works through the case underwater!

I don’t often do reviews and even more rarely endorse  products, but this little FRiEQ waterproof case is pretty awesome, cheap, floats, and fits pretty much every modern smarthone. Converts any phone into a beach proof, sand proof, water proof, kidproof, fully useable camera/tech piece of gear. Completely love it and can’t wait to use it on our next trip. Stay tuned for some photos!

reSetting a Morning Routine

My mornings, especially during the work week have been pretty set for a while. After a few false starts over the last couple of years, I’ve built a consistent routine since last spring (ignoring a small week long disruption after my bike was stolen) around bicycle commuting to work every day. I’ve been getting up, reading the Globe and Mail, checking the stock market, walking the dog and then saddling up for a quick leisurely bike ride into work.

With Charles working himself into more of a routine with sleep than not, it’s just Jake and I awake in the morning. When I get home, despite some ambitions to do otherwise, it’s essentially 100% family time until Charles is asleep.

In prep for our beach vacation, I’ve been trying to adhere to breakfast by the principles of the Slow Carb Diet. But diet isn’t nearly as effective as it is when paired with exercise, or better yet, High Intensity Training (HIT). HIT sort of fits the bill here since vacation isn’t far off and I’m already short on time during the day.

My use of our home gym lately has been sporadic at best and some of the equipment is gathering a little dust. So I’m looking to enhance my morning routine, swap the newspaper for the gym, and achieve maximum effectiveness with a minimal dose.

For the next couple of weeks I’m going to try a few new things, my ideal morning routine will be a pretty packed 2 hours:

  • wake up at 5:30am
  • Weigh myself
  • Drink a litre of water
  • 15 minute high intensity workout
  • Caffeine (tea) Dose, High Protein, High Fibre Breakfast (Slow Carb Diet), Morning Journal Entry, and Feed The Dog
  • Skim the Paper, Check my portfolio
  • 1 mile jog with the Dog
  • Get Ready for Work and Bike in, at my Desk for 7:30ish, Second Dose of Caffeine… and work

It’s a bit of a change, so I’m expecting a slight false start and I might not hit every element at first, but with a combination of tracking, posting public updates, and if warranted, posting results, I’ll get there like I did with changing my commuting habits.

With the way things have been going, the time in the morning, before I head into work has turned into a pretty highly focused period of time where I can get things done, prioritize and get things moving for a highly productive entire day.  Likely not coincidence, but lately my most productive days at my desk have been those days where I’ve had pretty close to the above morning routine. In my pursuit of the ideal day, it starts with first seizing the ideal morning.

 

 

Planning A First Family Trip

It’s become something of an annual tradition now, Every spring we try to set aside a solid week for a great vacation. The guidelines are pretty straight forward: We fly someplace that both of us haven’t been before that’s not just warm, but a little exotic.

It’s been a pretty solid streak of great vacations, last year it was Greece, and before that Portugal. Now with a 4-month old baby accompanying us, it’s added an extra element for consideration in planning this years trip.

We’ve settled on Hawaii, well Maui in Particular.
It’s modern, has all the facilities we may need and even more we probably haven’t thought we’d need. I haven’t been there before (nor has Charles 🙂 ), it’s tropical, it’s warm, there’s surfing (which must be tackled), volcanoes, culture, history, much ocean…. and the list goes on.

Seems odd to say it now, but one of the biggest factors in destination selection of this first exploratory escape has been, can we get there on a direct flight? Maui is a direct flight from Calgary, though at ~7 hrs, near the upper end of of the flight durations we were willing to tackle.

I’ve never really valued direct flights, being an airline status pursuer, flight segments (e.g. layovers) has been something that actually pays off. But now we’re seeking to get this first flight out of the way and over with as quickly as possible. We’re hoping for baby best on that flight, but prepping [mentally] for some challenges. I’m really hoping we’re not those parents with the inconsolable  screaming child that dominates the in-flight entertainment and is a fair match for all but the best noise cancelling headphones. We’ve all been there 🙁

We’ve been lucky to have had some great trips and I don’t mean to brag, but my wife and I are pretty decent vacation planners. Now as we set about planning this trip, the tectonic shift in what we consider important on a great vacation hasn’t been lost on us. In addition to planning day trips, hikes, pool/beach days,  and defining our dining hit list we’re also tackling unknowns like:

  • Where can we heat up bottles?
  • Where to buy Diapers around the hotel? Where’s the costco?
  • What brand of UPF rated clothing is the best? What UPF do we need?
  • Baby swing rentals?
  • Best place to sit on the plane with a baby
  • Hotels with kitchens?
  • How much infant formula can I bring through airport security? Can it be liquid?
  • How to tackle infant jet lag?
  • Do babies like convertibles? (joking of course)

If nothing else, this will be a learning experience for all of us. But I’m pretty confident that in additional to that, Maui will be an epic trip. Now back to more pressing things, like getting my terribly Canadian winter paled body beach ready.

 

Change of Race Plans

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Despite the persistent challenge of balancing training time (or any time) with baby time, training for the Calgary marathon has been going decently. I’m a bit short on logged long runs, but  I’ve been running over 50K a week fairly consistently (most weeks, well weather permitting:) ) with a focus on speed and interval training, mainly due to time constraints, it’s hard to slip out for 3 hours for a +30km-er or find the motivation on a cold wet spring Sunday morning with a broken 5-6 hours of sleep under my belt.

Unfortunately, my training success has not been paired with good event planning. My sister’s graduation from Law School is on the other side of the continent, the Friday before my target race. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re very much looking forward to being in attendance, and enjoying some long over due exposure to east cost hospitality, but I was also very much looking forward to taking a credible run at besting my Marathon PB of 3:39:21.

So I’m out… and no refunds, transfers or deferrals to another year.. you’re welcome for the donation Calgary Marathon 🙂

The Calgary Marathon was to be step one in my 2-step graduated running plan for the year. I had hoped to train hard and injury free at altitude (i.e. Calgary, altitude 1300m), smash my PB here at home and then continue training through June and July to then decimate my new PB in San Francisco.

I’m still committed to running the San Francisco Marathon, but now uncomfortably I’m left without my dress rehearsal race for running across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The last time I ran San Francisco, I had laid down a good effort in Calgary, but had then gotten complacent and didn’t maintain. The result was I showed up at the start line in the Embarcadero woefully under prepared and perfectly setup for painful (I did actually bleed) disappointment was almost.

Now I’m struggling with if I should back fill my plan and enforce training disicpline, or redefine my training plan. The options for backfill aren’t really ideal, another race sooner (May 17), another race closer to SF (risk burn out and insufficient recovery?) or run a bunch of races just to keep things going?

Decisions, decisions…

 

 

 

Chasing Productivity

There’s a few governing truths that make up life, one of them that I’m beginning to really come to terms with is:

“There isn’t any more time than there already is”

i.e. there is no way [at least currently] to make more time.

Having just become a parent and taking on a new role at my day job, the amount of time I have available for working side projects has become very constrained.

Basically, with an infant in the house, he calls the shots and available “free” time is when he decides he’s ready to take a name. At this stage, while he’s still trying to figure out his circadian rhythms it’s essentially impossible to schedule time.

My list of aspiring projects is beginning to turn into a dust covered insurmountable backlog of stagnating ideas; which perhaps I had naively planned while our baby was asleep as the foundational activities that would set me up for a year of success. The list begins:

  • 90 days of slow carb diet
  • Marathon Training
  • Build-out of an Arduino powered smart sentry gun
  • Build-out of our z-wave home automation system
  • Read Game of thrones (5 books)
  • Read Swift and iOS 8 by Tutorials by the RW team
  • Work on Rugged Green Apps
  • Self publish a book
  • Blog once a week
  • Vacations
  • New Car Shopping
  • New Furniture Shopping
  • …. and the list goes on

Now I’ve been prioritizing time with my child and helping my wife; as most would argue is the best thing to do. But when everyone is asleep or things are under control, I’ve found myself sliding into a place on the couch and simply vegging out, recovering from the chaos with some zero productivity time.

The problem seems to have been that in those moments, I lack the nudge or the timely reminder that I have things I really want to get done other than watch The Food Network. I don’t have a system setup to track my productivity, prioritize my tasks and provide inputs or reminders when I need them most. As a result, I get caught up in the inertia of being a parent and my To Do list sits, unattended.

Enter our next project; My friend, Matt and I are in the same boat; as are many others, there’s no more time, and with so much to do we want to use the little time we have as effectively as possible.

We’re kicking off development of a new suite of productivity tools that will not only benefit us, but others. I’m really amped for this projected and looking forward to sharing more. The personal need we have for these tools should  drive the persistence needed to get this done. Can’t wait to share more.

 

Break-in and Security

Well unfortunately not everyone rings in the New Year the same, “civil” way.
Sometime in the early hours of New Year’s day, someone gained entry to our garage and helped themselves to a couple of my bikes (including my beloved fixie and my soon to be replaced winter commuter mountain bike) and of all things, also took probably 20-30$ worth of recycling include empty cans and beer bottles! Luckily there was no real damage and everything taken can be replaced. But I mean, Come ON!

Honestly, The worst part has been the feeling of violation we’ve been dealt on the first day of the new year. It can be a bit tough dealing with the fact that someone out there feels brazen enough and entitled enough to walk onto your property, into your garage and take whatever they feel comfortable helping themselves too.

In response and to prevent this as best we can from reoccurring we’ve decided to step things up.

The cause of this whole thing is unfortunately, likely my fault. I can to some extent blame my exhausted sleep deprived “new-dad-brain”. Basically, I forgot to lock the door to the garage after we came home from NYE celebrations, focusing instead on helping my wife into the house and carefully carrying a sleeping baby into the house (which, if I may add, I didn’t wake!) .

So after more than a week of calls and research looking into what’s out there for home security (which by the way is a ridiculously huge offering), we’ve decided to go with a pretty substantial upgrade to our home. In addition to the newly installed motion activated night-vision capable HD security cameras I’ve finally taken the leap and purchased a state-of-the-art-home automation system. Disappointingly there is no retinal scan option but it does come complete with auto locks, lighting and appliance controls, and serves as an adaptive brain for our upgraded security system, hopefully successfully telling the difference between our roaming dog and people we don’t want around.

What’s most impressive is the leap in the system’s user interface and capability from the previous security system we had installed (which admittedly didn’t cover the garage). The new touch screen based UI is absolutely staggering and has encrypted tie-backs to our smart phones as remotes. I’m actually pretty excited to see the morning report outs and actually having an idea of what happens around the house at night. I am however bracing for the fact that instead of seeing countless green-tinted video clips of ninjas sneaking around, it’ll likely be… well nothing… maybe squirrels? but probably nothing.

In the interest of keeping costs down, we have decided to forgo some options on the new system… and this is a real option… we’ve decided at this time to forgo the option of having a patrolling drone fly around our house/block periodically with a down-looking camera (also night vision capable) with a real time video feed. The drone apparently can dock in a weather resistant charge station and its flight around a preset waypoint defined patrol can be triggered by a predefined schedule, sounds detection, or proximity motion detection. Awesome right? ya, but worth $10,000? Not really for our mere inner city property… maybe when our son starts dating

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But in the event that security upgrades still fall flat, I’ve decided to adjust my end game for my arduino robot programming hobby. Instead of building an autonomously roaming rover first, I’m building a sentry gun; details right here on instructables and hackaday.

If all the other upgrades fail, this baby will be the last line of defence. Just need to nail the friend vs. foe recognition. 😀

A Look Back at 2014 and a Glance Ahead

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When 2014 started out, I’d hoped it would be a life changing year, a complete departure from more of the same. In short, I/we succeed in most aspects of that and conquered most of the goals we’d set.

A short summary of the goals for 2014:

  • Run a Marathon PB (faster than 4:01:00)
  • Have a great family vacation
  • Try and start a Family
  • Get Business Income to >$1000/mo

British Virgin Islands

BVI_2014

The spirit for changing everything was of course fueled by our first sailing vacation and our first tropical christmas. We rang in the new year last year with Great Friends (old and new) on the S.V. Liquid Sunshine, cruising around the British Virgin Islands.

It was a great trip and proved the concept to my wife, Jen and I both that we loved not only the idea of sailing, but sailing itself and everything that came with it.

Greece Trip

greece_trip

On the Heels of that Trip, we packed up and headed to Greece, meeting up with my Parents, Brother and Sister on the way. To be as concise as possible, it was a mind blowing trip filled with surreal views, broken landscapes, and more history that I could digest. It was an epic 4 days in Athens, exploring the sites of a city in turmoil wrapped in history, followed by 6 amazing and unbelievably relaxing days in Santorini, hiking, sunbathing, swimming and just taking in the spectacular views of the Caldera. This vacation will be hard to top, but I’m determined to see it happen in 2015.

After a disappointing lack of training discipline forced me to downgrade from the 2013 Calgary Marathon to the half Marathon, I was more determined than ever to train harder than ever. This led to some great accomplishments toward improving my health and fitness, but moreover I crushed my goal of breaking 4hrs, running a 3:39:21 Marathon. I This year I want to top that, set another PB with a stretch target of a 3:25:00 or faster.

Charlie

charlie_revue

The other highlight, and perhaps the most monumental event of the year was the birth of our first Son, Charles Edward Furey on November 30. There are few moments in my life where I can honestly say I’ve been lost in an upwelling of emotion, but seeing my son for the first time is top amongst them. It was an unbelievable experience, and through to this day it’s been amazing ride. The secret has been just rolling with the changes as they’ve been coming. Sure there’s been sleep deprived nights and some challenges in getting the little guy to settle down, but it’s been absolutely amazing.

Looking Ahead to 2015

This post is starting to get a little long so now, I want to spend a few minutes to just give a brief glance ahead with some goals for 2015 and beyond..

Health & Fitness in 2015

I hit my lightest weight just days ahead of the marathon in 2014. It felt absolutely amazing. However, an unexpected side effect of crushing my goal, was that I sat back and bathed in the “glory” of my self accomplishment and let myself deteriorate. Now that I know it’s doable, I’m determined to crush it with a goal of losing 15lb in the first 5months of 2015 and keeping it off. I want to reduce the body fat percentage from where it hovers around 18% to 12% and hopefully in the process get some ab definition.

In 2014 I walked almost 1.8mln steps (since starting tracking on August 4).

fitbit progress running_progress

In 2014 I ran 1,157km over the course of 105hrs burning 106,272kCals.weight_2014

and While I hit my goal weight at race time, I lost that and pretty much ended up right where I am.

I’ve also realized, data is power in tracking accomplishments here, my 2014 progress is shown above but there are holes – So I’m resolving to rigorously track my Calories and my progress with body measurements, weight &PF% (already pretty much doing this), Heart Rate and Blood Pressure – in addition to progress photos which I hope to post here at regular intervals.

I have a plan to achieve this, but for the purpose of a concise post, that will come in a separate future post.

2015 Business Goals

Last year I had a goal to hit $1000/mo in stable income from my side businesses. This was not achieved, in short, 2014 was a year Matt and I brainstormed and tried to reboot our efforts a few times, but each time losing momentum. I’m probably the chief guilty party here with allowing myself to become hopelessly distracted and allowing that to subtract from the momentum of the team.

Overall, 2014 business income average ~$ 96/mo, which I suppose isn’t bad as it paid expenses without having published 0 new apps and 0 updates. Further to that, it appears my AdMob account stopped working in Q3.
No way to sugar coat this, a complete failure in achieving this goal with no serious effort put toward and only my own laziness and lack of motivation to blame.

2015 will be difurrently working a plan to change this, but for 2015 the goal is more ambitious; Annual Average income of $2500/mo and exit rate cash flow of $5000 during the month of December, 2015. Starting at the End of Q1 2015, I’ll issue Quarterly updates on progress against the plan.

Again, details of the plan to achieve this will come in a separate future post to keep the length of this post in check

Projects for 2015.

We may be aiming a little high here, but both Jen and I like to feel busy around the house. Toward that goal, we have a few projects in mind:

  • Finish the Garage interior: I’ve always wanted the garage to be a place of work, not just storage. Right now it’s a mess; I’m looking to add some electrical outlets, insulate, drywall, and upgrade the lighting. If the budget allows I’ll upgrade the storage with some “Gladiator Garage” type modules. This is the first step toward making it a place of potentially working on a car in the future. But first and foremost, I want to make a nice clean storage area for everything that’s building up with baby raising and create a work bench/area for my circuits and arduino hobby projects.
  • Landscaping upgrades: We’ve mulled over this for ages, but we’re just not happy with the backyard and our side pathway. 2015 will be the year we add some retaining walls and bring some new dimensioning to the back garden. Serious Design work is yet to begin, but we have ideas. The plan is to take a stab at this and make it a DIY project.
  • Surely more will be added as the year goes on.

With less than 1/2 a day left, there’s no turning back now. Time to take a leap and reach for higher than ever before.