• blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – Serenity in Sturgis?

    Serenity in Sturgis?  Three words I never thought I’d say.  Heck, I never knew what Sturgis was until 10 years ago and certainly didn’t think I’d go there.  More accurately, never thought I’d want to go.

    I found myself agreeing, and then actually looking forward to attending the bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota this year.  It was the 77th annual rally.

    It all started with the first rally of 9 bikers and a race so long ago and has grown to an all-time high for the 75th anniversary of 739,000 attendees.  There are bikes and people everywhere you look, vendors hawking shirts and hats, and bikes for demo rides and bikes for sale.  And of course, food and beer.

    We had great weather – the rain threatening every day but not really invading (okay, soaked us once) and the rally was fun.

    So, where’s the serenity?  Oh yes…

    I was fortunate to attend with my husband and 11 other members of his club.  And while the rally was terrific and Sturgis a sight to see during rally week, the riding…the beautiful riding was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The views, the history of the area, Mt. Rushmore, the eye of the needle, the Badlands (as fun to say as it is to ride), Spearfish Canyon, and Needles Highway.

    I felt like an honorary member of the club being treated to a secret world of twisties, wind rushing past, beautiful sights, and camaraderie over dinner after each tiring day.  I could never find the words to thank this crew of hardcore riders for generously sharing Sturgis with me so I’ll try with photos.

    When you’re on a road that twists and turns for miles on end and then arrive at a sign that says ‘caution, tight turns ahead’, you know you’re in for something special.  Leaning into the curve and enjoying the sensation is the prelude to opening up after the curve and being presented with a visual feast of rock formations, waterfalls, and wildlife.

    South Dakota. Where they planned the views, and then built the roads to present them at the perfect angle. Literally.  How could you not find serenity in that?

    May all you girl geeks enjoy vacation this summer and find your own inspiration for serenity.

  • blog
  • Data vs. Information, and my FitBit Flex

    Data is a set of values.

    Information is that which informs.

    Both definitions are the start of the wikipedia.com articles on these words.  I could use definitions from many sources and decided this was enough to get me going on the topic.

    Every day we are bombarded with both data and information.  Some of it we take in, and some of it we ignore.   Some we try to take in, and understand, and assimilate the data into consumable information in order to take actions.  At times, okay many times, it becomes too much.

    And let’s be real, there’s a lot of data floating around us all day that we tend to ignore either because it’s not relevant to us or because there’s so much going on all the time.  If you stand in line at a coffee shop, you could take in how many people order coffee vs. tea or how many people order food with their coffee, but unless you are a coffee store owner or a data scientist who’s just curious, you probably don’t take this in.  You could notice as you stand on a busy street corner how many people cross the street against the light, how many cross only when the signs say it’s safe to walk, and how many people approach the corner as the light is about to change and make a run for it.  You probably don’t notice this, however, unless you are someone working to adjust the traffic lights for maximum efficiency or you are someone like me who finds this specific human decision making moment interesting. (The girl geek in me comes out in odd ways, I know!)

    These days we have many technical gadgets in our lives that take in data and provide us information.  Wearable technology is becoming more and more available.  About 5 years ago, this term was not a part of our everyday vocabulary and yet it is now trendy, can be inspirational, and at times visually appealing.

    My FitBit Flex is a wearable technology device.  It tracks data including my steps, my sleep habits, and the number of hours I have been active.  I love to see this data fed back to me as information.  The charts, the stars when I’ve achieved my set goal for the day, and the little bubbles that show how I am progressing during the day before I have hit the goal are all aspects of information that personally enhance my day in some small way.

    My FitBit Flex also asks me to enter other data so it can provide me a more holistic view of my day – the type of exercise I’ve done and for how long, the amount of water I’ve consumed, and the calories I’ve eaten.  I tried each of these features for a few weeks and then I stopped.  While the data itself was interesting to me, the information it provided as it was put together was not.  I wasn’t getting any thrill out of seeing the charts for these three features, and I wasn’t changing any of my behaviour as a result of the information my APP showed me after entering this data.

    Wearable technology is no different than other technology items we purchase.  We need to think about how we will use them and select the product that provides all of that.  Additional features should be considered as you may find some you never thought about but will enjoy, and others you don’t need and also won’t really use.

    If you have a Fitbit Flex, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.  I’ve worn it every day for over a year and can honestly say my number of steps per day has increased with this wearable technology helping to prompt me in a positive way.  Of course, the picture I shared from my APP shows one of my best weeks so you can feel inspired too.

    Walk on girl geek, and enjoy!

    Fitbit flex tracker

  • lifestyle
  • Too Much TV

    I have watched some bad tv in my life.

    Honestly, in high school, some of my most watched shows followed the lives of spoiled pageant brats (Toddlers and Tiaras), creepy and manipulative teenage issues (Gossip Girl), and other bizarre stories of true life (anything on TLC really).

    Worse, I never got around to watching these shows while they were relevant. I watched them out of order and in random marathons.

    It didn’t bother me.

    Watching TV was an activity that could be substituted for another activity. Like reading a book, or talking on the phone, or riding my bike. Something you did with your time.

    But, something has changed in the past few years. Ever since I first used an (admittedly illegal) streaming site to watch tv on demand I’ve become irritable. I now own a Netflix subscription and I consume near constant media. In the last year alone I’ve watched every episode of That 70’s Show, all ten seasons of Friends, and what feels like more hours of Grey’s Anatomy than it would take to train as a doctor in real life!

    I didn’t just watch these shows. I relentlessly binged on them.

    I stayed up until the middle of the night to watch ‘just one more episode’. I brought my iPad to the gym to watch while I ran on the treadmill. I brought my laptop into the kitchen to watch while cooking, and into the dining room to watch while eating. Worse, I used a second screen to watch while writing papers or reading articles, probably resulting in homework taking at least twice as long as it should have.

    TV was no longer an activity. TV became a constant.

    I was experiencing fatigue, in my eyes, and in my brain. The drone of tv talk was overwhelming. I watched shows I wasn’t even sure I liked and my focus was always split.

    I’ve heard that the first step to fixing a problem is identifying that it exists so that’s what I’m doing here. I want to be more conscious about the media I consume and my reasons for consuming it. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste it all on watching television.

    ~ Emma

     

  • blog
  • The Interview that Wasn’t…

    The phone rang and rang and then “I’m in a meeting” popped up on my screen as I was sent to voicemail.

    Oh no, I thought, I didn’t even get to speak and I blew it. Or, maybe, just maybe, I had the interview time wrong? With shaky (and sweaty) hands I tried to quickly pull up my outlook mailbox. But no, the first email that loaded showed me I was right, Friday 3:00 it read. And yet… Here I was, with no one on the line.

    I began to get nervous – what is the protocol when you get ditched for an interview? If I called again would it be viewed as annoying or intrusive? Or worse, I worried, if I did not call back I might be seen as someone who didn’t care about the job.

    The minutes ticked by in an agonising game of “should I call him” but with much higher stakes than a date to the middle school dance.

    Finally, I settled on sending an email apologising that the meeting had not taken place but assuring the interviewer that I was able to reschedule at his convenience. I sat there, phone in hand for the entire scheduled 30-minute interview time, just in case he called back.

    He didn’t.

    Later that day I received a reply to my email. It turned out fine. We rescheduled for the following Monday and he even apologised to me!

    However, that time in between those emails? That uncertainty was brutal.

    I understand that to him, this meeting was just one box to check on his to-do list, but to me? This moment was a big deal. To the interviewee? Well, it’s a moment you prepare for and worry about, and it’s asking your parents and friends for good luck and its clammy hands and planning a nap after when the ensuing adrenaline renders you useless.

    I hold no grudges; it was, in all honesty, a learning experience. But, that’s my story of the interview, that wasn’t.

    ~ Emma