Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

9Sep/160

Hard Decisions

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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One of the most difficult things I've had to do is choose between two good things.

Sounds like a good problem to have, right? "Do I take the Ferrari, or the Lambo?"

But I really need to explain.

I can't become a full-time published writer if I'm fiddling with music stuff, or building things, or even restoring my old car. Could I even carve out more than an hour a day to write? Is that even possible?

I am stretched to my limit as it is, really. I can't do anything without it cutting into something else on my calendar. I'm double-booking myself in hopes that one of the engagements falls through. I'm on borrowed time.

Time management schemes only work to a certain extent, especially when there's things to deal with like unreliable vehicles, conflicting work schedules, unplanned emergencies, drama, and a full-time job. There just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done in a timely manner, no matter how much I shuffle things around.

I feel like my days have been short-sheeted. I keep trying to pull the covers to one side, and it uncovers me somewhere else.
So how do I get rid of some of these projects and responsibilities? Guess what? It takes free time- which I am already short on. Something has to give.

I could leave my projects sit, untouched, for months and not be worried about it. But that's not an option, because the stuff piles up and clutters the house, making it difficult for everybody to get things done. Not to mention it clutters my thought process! But it takes more time and energy to cleanse them from view.

I don't have solutions yet. I just know where I need to go, and hopefully will be able to document how I get there.

Onward, and upward!

6Sep/160

Snowball Time

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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It's snowball time- in more ways than one.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been ridiculously busy. After seriously considering my schedule, and piles of unfinished projects, I've decided to to a "Project Purge." And like Dave Ramsey teaches when trying to crush overwhelming obstacles, I'm going to use the "snowball method" to make it happen.

This means I'm going to look at my entire list of projects, and do two things:

  1. Determine if I really need to do it at all
  2. Prioritize the smallest projects first, to knock them out

This will let me systematically minimize what I'm doing. There are some projects that will either take a very long time (home remodeling) or last indefinitely (restoring the Rambler). But other things I can "finish" and take them off my plate.

I've also decided to quit caffeine again. No, I'm not going to enjoy it. But my face started breaking out again, and I'm not getting enough sleep. So "rest" will be one of those projects I'm working on.

Bike riding will have to be scaled back some, as will working on music equipment, building/collecting things, and so on. I need to get rid of piles of things I'm never going to finish. Do I really need a pile of guitar effect pedals, when I can do everything I need with just one? Do I need to keep R/C car parts "just in case" I get around to using them? Probably not.

I still have buckets of computer parts and networking stuff, which I'll never use again... those need to go to a good home. 15-year-old computer CD's? Gone. Stuff I bought to do with my kids, who never showed interest? Don't need it.

The next few months are going to be hard, because those are all things I want to have time to do. But ultimately, I don't need to do them all, and holding on to that "stuff" associated with them is clutter in the house, and in my mind.

5Sep/160

FOMO Strikes Back

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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I like riding my bike. I like writing. I like playing music.

But my not-so-dark secret is that I'm an adrenaline junkie. I'm always looking for something cool and new to do, or learn, and watch, or whatever. But I think I put too much emphasis on what I'm doing. My life, for what it is, has been a whirlwind of activity, for decades.

I haven't written anything here in over a month. Most "writers" would look at that as abject failure. I'm tempted to, as well. The truth is, I've been very very busy. Mostly, doing good things... sometimes, just chilling and trying to unwind my warp-speed brain.

So I'd like to get back to writing, at least a little.  I don't know how I'm going to balance writing with fitness, or work, or remodeling, or anything else I'm going to do.

I've got a lot of good writing topics in mind, and considering the political/spiritual landscape we're in, there's no dearth of things to write about. Some may be technical, some may be opinion, some may be just plain crazy ranting.

But I think I'm in a place where I need to ramp my brain up for writing again. It will, however, require scaling back something, somewhere. I'm not sure what will give yet. I'm already behind on some things. It will not be an easy thing to do.

Probably the first thing I need to do is scale back surfing social media again. I need to figure out a centralized writing solution, as well... which will probably mean using Google Drive... and I need to organize it. It would help to have writing tools that can go with me. Not going to the point where I have it on my phone yet, but that might work.

Anyway.

I'm getting back in the habit. Expect some writing tomorrow, and we'll see how long I can ramp it up and keep it going. Who knows? My ultimate goal is to write enough on my novels to get one or more of them picked up by a major publishing house. If I can do that, I think my life accomplishments will be pretty much complete.

Stay tunes, faithful readers. We're in for a wild ride.

22Jul/160

New Bike: ’82 Peugeot

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Anyone familiar with The Rules of cycling knows that the proper number of bikes to have is "N+1" where N is the number you currently have.

My first real 700C road bike was a used 12-speed Peugeot I got back in the early 90's. When I think of old-school road bikes, that's the first thing that pops in my head. It's French, it's classy, it's fast... what's not to like?

And thus I've procured an '82 Peugeot 12-speed. Well, most of one. The picture is from Josh at Simplicity Vintage Cycles, who sold me a different, but identical bike (sans wheels). Mine will look very similar, though with a different crankset, and other different small bits and pieces.

This particular model is an '82 PH-12 Centennial Edition, which was to commemorate Peugeot's founding in 1882. Everything on the bike was French, including the "Carbolite" steel tubing and Michelin tires. This bike is interesting not only because of that, but also because it's aero.. like, really aero for the 80's. Brake levers, downtube shifters, ovalized tubes, water bottle, and brake calipers were all specifically made to be aerodynamic.

So I guess what I'm going to do is build it up and see just how aero it is, compared to a modern swoopy-tubed bike. This will be my go-to bike for club rides where my heavy, slow Surly would be a liability.

I'm pretty stoked about it, really. Can't wait to get it on the road!

20Jul/161

Keep Moving Forward

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

2012-04-06 09.23.36

I haven't really talked about it much this time around, but last week (July 12) was the 5-year mark since I was hit by a car and hospitalized while bike commuting.

It's been an interesting 5 years, I have to say. The first year was strictly physical and mental recovery. Year 2 was me proving that I had recovered, so I trained and did a 75 mile bike tour. Years 3-4 were mostly me being too busy to do anything bike-related. Year 5 was the year of the Comeback, with me starting to bike commute again, and eventually, getting my son into cycling as well.

It's been a very good process of therapy. I'm still not commuting as much as I'd like, but my situation is such that it's not really possible just yet. I am now riding group rides with Andy and building up a new (to me) legitimate road bike. I'll post a story about that on Friday, it's pretty exciting to be building bikes again!

I feel like I'm transitioning into a different era. I am juggling lots of responsibilities, and I'm trying to make solid choices. I'm spending a lot of time playing and working with the family. I'm laying aside most of my extracurricular stuff, and focusing on my health and my family: two things which can't be pushed off till later.

So, that means I've spent a lot of time riding my bike on the trainer, or in group rides, instead of commuting. This rubs my sensibilities the wrong way, but I don't have much choice.

I think this will be my last annual recap of the accident, though. The fact that I didn't even think about posting about it last week means I've officially moved on. From this point forward, my focus will be on where we go from here.

Get out and ride. Doesn't matter where.

Just ride.

1Jul/160

Successes and Failures

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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There's something crazy about successful people. They normally don't succeed at something, and then sit back and say "well, that's done, I guess I can just sit back and chill for the rest of my life."

I mean, there's a few people that have done that... but most don't. Why is that? It's a result of the drive that made them successful in the first place. You can't just turn it off.

Sometimes, you fail pretty hard. In my case, I did a Social Media Fast for a couple of months. I also gave up caffeine.

Both of which I've failed at, off and on, in the last few weeks. Does that mean I'm a failure? No. Does that mean I can't succeed at them? Nope. Just means I need to be aware of it, learn from it, and adjust as necessary.

I've also made an effort to slim down the amount of projects I work on at any given time. This is out of necessity, because I'd never finish anything if I didn't narrow my focus.

Building on my discovery of Microadventures, I'm going to begin working on ways I can document those, and focus on how I can get the most out of them. I also want to include the kids in Adventures as often as possible.

I've got more adventuring in store- a new bike build, camping, and maybe even a multi-day bike tour! This weekend, I'm doing the IOLS (Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills) class to be a fully qualified BSA Scoutmaster. I will report back!

15Jun/160

Finding My Way

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

2012-04-06 09.23.36

I've been thinking a lot lately about dissatisfaction in life, and wishing I could do more than I already am. But I'm 42, have 4 kids, and I work 45+ hours a week at a (mostly) desk job. I don't have a lot of time for adventure or excitement.

I'm always looking for something exciting to do, whether it be tinkering with electronics, or bike commuting, or writing a novel, or producing podcasts... whatever sounds exciting, I want to do it.

But I can't do everything I want to. I just don't have the time and energy. (This is kind of a recurring theme on my blog...)

As a dreamer, I'm always trying to balance the reality of modern life with my heart's desire to be an adventurer. Really, I love a good adventure. In fact, you could say I live for those moments, when I'm going down a road I've never seen before, or learning something new. There's a cloud of mystery, a rush of endorphins that comes from doing something exciting and new.

Eventually, I stumbled across an article on Vocations from Art Of Manliness (which seems to be a recurring theme for me). And there were questions there, about how to discover your passions.

For me, passions were something that I've had stamped out of my life repeatedly. I'm passionate about a lot of things... but only things that are monetarily useful are allowed in today's society. As you might imagine, this isn't a great environment in which to find your Passion.

9Jun/160

Untangle Router Thoughts Redux

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Sometimes, when you say something and you eventually turn out to be proven wrong (even if it takes 3 years), you have to eat some humble pie.

For the record, the team at Untangle have created an awesome product. I originally didn't use it/like it because there were no affordable home-based versions, and the free version was lacking in features.

However, I'm pleased to say that with Home version pricing for their full product, Untangle is now a serious contender for DIY budget-minded home techies. Here's the rundown on mine, which I built for a grand total of about $150, including the computer, NIC, and a 1-year subscription to Untangle NG (Home license).

The basis for this machine is a tired, refurbished Dell Optiplex I picked up on Amazon for $75. It's not anything spectacular, but for just running a software firewall, it's perfect. It had 2 PCI slots and 1 PCI-express slot, which means you shouldn't have any trouble finding network cards to put in it. I opted for a Rosewill dual-port network card, and since I had a couple extra PCI Intel Pro/1000's sitting around, I threw them in there, too. Plus the onboard LAN port gave me five total network ports I could play with.

19Apr/160

Untangle Firewall: Round 2

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Some of you may remember me writing about Untangle Firewall a few years ago. At the time, it was (and still is) an amazing piece of software, but had no affordable option for home networks. So I put it to the wayside, and moved on to other solutions.

When I say Untangle is a solid piece of work, I'm not exaggerating. It has tools that let you control, filter, log, and lock down everything passing through your router. It was just out of my price range for what I needed it to do. I'll even admit, I might have been a bit harsh on them- it really is good- but their business pricing is pretty steep for a home user.

And then recently, I discovered that Untangle released a Home pricing option for the full package. We're talking a $540 value for $50!

Naturally, I was intrigued. So I'm going to pull out my unused firewall mini-PC again, slap a dual-port NIC in it, and give Untangle another (well-deserved) shot.

I'm honestly looking forward to trying it out again, and if it works well for my needs, I will definitely make some how-to's and give them some well-deserved positive publicity. I'm pretty excited.

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18Apr/160

Rest, Work, and Sabbath

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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For the last few weeks, I've been busy. It would be safe to say I'm busier now than I ever have been before. And yet, every day I struggle to not feel guilty over the things I didn't get done.

How many things am I involved with that I've put off? Sheesh. Let's see:

  • This blog (thanks for reading! Last updated 2 weeks ago)
  • Weekly posts for The Badass Forge (skipped last week)
  • Occasional posts for the Bike Commuter Cabal blog (last posted there in August)
  • The ADD Masterminds podcast recording/editing (skipped 2 weeks)
  • Not Entirely Unlike Chiptune (last touched this 6 months ago)
  • Restoring a classic car (currently not running, haven't touched it in weeks)
  • WIP non-fiction book on ADD life hacks (haven't seen it in a month)
  • WIP fiction novel(s) (months... maybe years for parts of them)

And these are just the things I do that aren't part of my normal family life, like cooking, Boy Scouts, house renovations, church music, and so on. Those things are getting put on back burners, too. I just can't keep up with everything, so I'm dropping stuff left and right.

Clearly I needed a Sabbath, but what does that look like for a supervillain like me? How can I "rest" when there's so much to do, and being creative restores my soul?

It's a problem indeed.

I will have to make some hard decisions as to what will stay, and what will have to go. But I know my life will be better for it.

Sigh.