Sunday, September 29, 2013

In Gratitude We Trust

A few months ago, my coach Sarah asked me to start a gratitude journal. I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing. I'm not typically a rah-rah person and I really couldn't see how writing down things that made me grateful would help me in the least. But everything else that Sarah had suggested had worked out pretty well, so I decided to give it a shot.

At first, I treated it like an exercise in recordkeeping. Every evening, I would sit down and rack my brains for moments throughout the day that made me feel grateful. It wasn't that hard to do. I set a quota of three items a day, and I was often able to hit four or five. The thing that frustrated me the most was forgetting to include key moments. The other was repeating the same items. It felt a little like cheating if something made me feel grateful on both Monday and Tuesday.

After about five weeks of dutifully filling in my gratitude journal, I decided to take a step back and assess how the journal was working for me. Even though it felt like I had low expectations going into it, I must have expected something because I was disappointed not to feel some positive, internal changes at work. I knew that Sarah wouldn't have suggested the gratitude journal if there wasn't more to it than this.

When I brought all of this up with Sarah, we put our heads together and thought about how the journal might work better for me. Sarah suggested that, instead of using the journal for recordkeeping, I use it for dipsticking, recording what I was grateful for in the moment. She also said that repeating myself was normal, and that she had gone through a long period where her gratitude journal entries were almost identical day after day. After all, it makes sense that there would be things in our daily lives for which we would be constantly grateful.

Some people will argue that keeping a gratitude journal and imposing a quota on it forces you to make things up or to be artificially positive. I would argue that we are genuinely grateful all the time, but our gratefulness can get covered up by immediate circumstances and negativity. We are not defined by the outermost layer of our consciousness. Digging down to our gratefulness uncovers something real if we are real with ourselves. That is the power of the gratitude journal.

Dipsticking and uncovering the things that made me grateful gave me a nice boost of positive energy each and every day. It reminded me of the good things in my life and gave me a chance to break out of a rut if I was in one. How long that positive energy lasted, I couldn't be sure, but it was nice never going through a whole day completely down in the dumps.

The breakthrough happened early this week. I was feeling particularly down because I had been battling a cold for three weeks and suffering a severe case of writer's block at work. On Sunday, I decided that I would use my gratitude journal to dig my way out of negativity. But when I sat down to write on Monday, I had absolutely nothing. I couldn't feel one ounce of gratitude. And that threw me into a rage... at myself. I had been feeling pretty awesome about myself just two weeks earlier, and here I was with nothing to be grateful for! I started pounding things out in anger on the keyboard, and here is what I wrote for item 3:


And for item 7:

Hmmm… I'm up to seven items in this gratitude entry :) Feeling a little better now!

That immediately snapped me out of my headspace, and since then, I've been a lot looser and conversational with my gratitude journal. One positive entry triggers more. My writer's block ended (coincidence?) and my cold has almost cleared up. Planning on getting on my treadmill for the first time in weeks tomorrow. Today, I pulled out my kitchen shelves and cleaned behind them. If you know me, that is huge.

My gratitude journal has changed my life. Thank you, Sarah.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mise en Place

There is a dish that I like to prepare that consists of green beans and chicken cooked in a marinated bean curd sauce. The marinated bean curd comes in a jar. To make the sauce, you fish a couple of cubes of bean curd out of the jar and mash them up. This forms the base for a nice, creamy sauce. It couldn't be easier... or tastier. When prepared properly, the green beans, chicken, and sauce meld together perfectly. I also like to add crushed garlic sliced lengthwise, not minced. The garlic isn't browned in oil, but cooked slowly in the sauce so that it becomes soft and mild. Getting a soft slice of garlic is a real treat.

This dish is very warm and homey, and it can be prepared with minimal prep in one sauté pan. However, for some reason, the dish hadn't been turning out quite right for me lately. While all of the individual components seemed fine, they weren't melding. And nothing that I tried was able to fix the problem.

Two weeks ago, I decided to make the dish again, but this time, I would do my mise en place properly. Mise en place is a French phrase which means "putting in place." Chefs use the term to refer to the preparation they do before cooking. As Anthony Bourdain likes to say, "Prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance."

I trimmed the ends off the green beans, crushed and sliced my garlic, sliced my chicken breast, and then mixed the sliced chicken breast with two cubes of the marinated bean curd, making sure that the bean curd was completely mashed up and thoroughly coating the chicken. I did all of this before putting my pan on the stove and heating it. Once the pan was hot, I added a little oil and sautéed the chicken until the slices of chicken breast were cooked through. At this point, the marinated bean curd had formed a thick sauce with the oil and juices from the chicken on the bottom of the pan.

I pulled the slices of chicken breast out of the pan and then added the crushed, sliced garlic. I turned down the heat so that the garlic wouldn't brown and let it cook for about 30 seconds. When the garlic was just starting to cook through and get soft, I added the trimmed green beans (cut into 2-inch long pieces) and stir fried them until they were also coated in the marinated bean curd sauce. I then added water, covered the pan, and brought everything to a boil. The amount of water that you add is crucial. You want to add just enough water so that when the green beans are done cooking, almost all of the water has boiled off and you are left with the right amount of sauce. The cooked chicken gets mixed back into the green beans and the sauce at the very end, and the whole thing is served over rice.

The dish turned out perfectly, and I suddenly realized that not doing my mise en place had been screwing me up. The key to the dish is mashing up the marinated bean curd and sautéing it in oil for a little while, and then making sure that it coats each component. This brings out the flavor of the bean curd and integrates the dish. Because I had been prepping my ingredients as I was cooking instead of doing my mise en place ahead of time, I had been doing everything out of order. I would slice and sauté my chicken breast, and only start trimming the green beans once the chicken was in the pan. The chicken would finish cooking before all of the green beans were trimmed, so I would buy myself some time by pulling the chicken, adding water to the pan, and bringing the water to a boil. Once the water was boiling, I would add the trimmed green beans and stir in the cubes of marinated bean curd.

Failure to do a proper mise en place reflected a lack of caring on my part. I may have been putting food into my stomach, but I was not taking any pride or pleasure in it. I could argue that prepping while cooking is more efficient, but that doesn't really stand up when ten minutes of prep is the difference between an okay dish and a really good dish, or between a rushed and distracted cook and a calm and focused cook. If I really want to multitask while cooking, I can always tidy up my station or wash a few dishes.

In my new way of being, I'm trying to be intentional and in the moment. If I am going to do something, then I'm going to do it and not do fifty million other things at the same time. Part of this is separating work from play, which means being able to turn work mode on and off at will. That has always been difficult for me because so much of my work requires substantial pre-thinking. If I am going to focus exclusively on work in my work time, then I need to come to work prepared to be productive. It also means figuring out ways to trigger my pre-thinking so that I'm not waiting helplessly for it to happen serendipitously.

I have learned a few things about my mental mise en place this month while experimenting with my schedule:

  • Knowing that I have a work period coming up at 4pm causes me to do more focused pre-thinking earlier in the day and even the previous evening. My brain knows that it is going to have to be productive and it wants to be prepared. Forcing my brain to wait until 4pm instead of beginning work immediately builds anticipation.
  • My brain will do pre-thinking for work during my play time, but only when my brain is free to wander. If I am mindlessly doing some dishes, my brain will pre-think, but it'll stop and snap back into the moment if a colorful butterfly flits by the window. It's a bit like solving problems in your sleep.
  • My brain thinks better, including pre-thinking, when I am more active during my play time. Being out-and-about and active during my play time is more energizing in general.
  • The kinds of problems that my brain works on during these unstructured pre-thinking sessions seem to be more practical, or technical, in nature. I'm not making large conceptual leaps. I'm doing the smaller, more focused tasks that I could have been doing whenever I got stuck but tended to put off instead. Hopefully, this is clearing the underbrush for those large conceptual leaps to happen in the near future.

I am still struggling with tasks where progress is iterative, and pre-thinking and doing are tightly coupled. For those kinds of tasks, I feel that the key will be identifying my optimal conditions for pre-thinking and then intentionally carving out time and space for it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Anandtech Benchmarks Apple's 64-Bit A7 SoC

Anand Lal Shimpi over at Anandtech has just weighed in on Apple's 64-bit A7 SoC. Anand is widely acknowledged as the leading expert on CPUs and GPUs among tech writers and reviewers on the web today. You should really read the entire article, but I'm going to focus on his analysis of the A7 and its CPU (code named Cyclone).

Anand believes that the CPU consists of two 64-bit ARMv8 cores with a max frequency of 1.3 GHz. Integer performance for 32-bit code has increased 42% from last year's A6 to this year's A7. Running 64-bit code on the A7 increases integer performance by another 38% (the A7 can run code in both 32-bit and 64-bit mode). This yields an overall increase of 95%. For floating point performance, the corresponding increases are 67%, 36%, and 128%.

Geekbench 3.0.0 Compute Performance
Integer (ST) Integer (MT) Floating Point (ST) Floating Point (MT)
Apple A6 1.3 GHz
(32-bit code)
750 1472 588 1165
Apple A7 1.3 GHz
(32-bit code)
1065 2095 983 1955
Apple A7 1.3 GHz
(64-bit code)
1471 2872 1339 2659

Some of the increases in integer performance can be attributed to new cryptographic instructions for hardware acceleration in the ARMv8 instruction set, but it is fairly clear that Apple has, once again, taken the lead in both CPU and GPU performance. It briefly held the lead last year when it released the A6, but it was quickly overtaken in CPU performance by incremental improvements to Qualcomm's Snapdragon SoC.

I expect Apple to hold onto the CPU performance crown a little longer this year. Qualcomm is still trying to squeeze more performance out of its Snapdragon SoC, but the LG G2 just came out a week ago with Qualcomm's latest and greatest, and it doesn't come close to the iPhone 5s. Meanwhile, Samsung and Nvidia are both using ARM's Cortex-A15 (although Samsung has recently taken an architecture license), which was really designed by ARM for the server market and not the mobile market. It runs extremely hot. Apple absolutely destroys the competition in terms of performance per watt and IPC (instructions per cycle), and its competitors won't be able to catch up by increasing core counts and max frequencies any more. They are all hitting thermal ceilings.

This means that we won't see a credible competitor for Cyclone and the A7 until someone else releases an ARMv8 core. Samsung bragged that they'll have one in 2014. I'm sure that Qualcomm has something in the works, but they haven't announced anything, yet. Like the Cortex-A15, ARM designed the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set with the server market in mind, and ARMv8 cores for the server market aren't even predicted until 2014.

And this is ignoring the software side completely. Anand confirms that all of iOS and all of Apple's iOS apps are already 64-bit. At boot up, there isn't a single 32-bit process running on the iPhone 5s. That is astonishing. The transition from 32-bit to 64-bit took a lot longer on OS X. In fact, there are a number of key Apple applications on OS X that are still 32-bit.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Apple's 64-Bit Gimmick

On Tuesday, Apple unveiled its latest iPhones. Powering the iPhone 5s (boy, I really wish they hadn't decided to use a lowercase 's' here) is a new system on a chip, the A7, that Apple is touting as the first 64-bit processor in a smartphone. Predictably, nerd rage ensued.

Zeroing in on the fact that the iPhone 5s is unlikely to ship with more than 2 GB of RAM, internet commentators instantly attacked the 64-bitness of the A7 as a marketing gimmick, something for Apple to brag about even when its users or developers wouldn't actually see any benefits. Drawing this conclusion was somewhat understandable since the main reason cited for switching from 32-bit to 64-bit processors on the desktop was always the ability to address more than 4 GB of RAM. (Of course, the reasonable thing to do would have been to engage in a bit of inquiry and to ask yourself why Apple might have made this decision instead of ridiculing a decision you don't have the technical knowledge to understand — but no one has ever accused internet commentators of being reasonable.)

A number of experts stepped up in an effort to counter this misconception, explaining that the transition to 64-bitness also meant a transition to larger registers and a more efficient instruction set, the ARMv8. A second round of articles were published, but the internet commentators wouldn't hear it. Some people are simply so invested in the idea that Apple is not an engineering company that it is utterly inconceivable to them that Apple could have engineered anything first.

The funny thing is, first is completely irrelevant and the A7 demonstrates exactly how much of an engineering company Apple actually is. Everyone could see that 64-bit processors were coming. It is on ARM's roadmap. Samsung could have done it first, but they bet on the 32-bit Cortex-A15 instead. Qualcomm could have done it first; they certainly have the design chops to roll their own custom core. But if either Samsung or Qualcomm had done it first, it would have been a gimmick, and that's not a double standard.

People have argued that the experts are overstating the benefit of larger registers and the more efficient ARMv8 instruction set because programs would have to be recompiled to take advantage of these features. But while that might be difficult to do on Android, Apple has engaged in a multiyear effort to transition its toolchain from GCC to Clang/LLVM and they have also worked to get the vast majority of their developers on Cocoa frameworks for exactly this kind of flexibility. Apple didn't do these things because it was sexy or made good marketing. They learned from their transitions from Carbon to Cocoa, and from PowerPC to Intel. How much do you want to bet that iOS 7 is already running on ARMv8 and has been for some time? To me, that is good engineering.

When Apple designed the iPad 3 with a retina display, they doubled the size of the battery and tripled the performance of the GPU. Increasing the screen resolution from 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536 meant doubling the backlighting in order to maintain screen brightness. Since the backlights account for about 80% of the power consumed by a tablet, the battery had to be doubled to maintain battery life. The iPad 2 already had the best GPU of any tablet, but the iPad 3 would have to push four times as many pixels. Apple was unable to quadruple GPU performance in one year, but they got surprisingly close. This meant that some games would run at lower frame rates on the iPad 3 than on the iPad 2.

In contrast, when Android tablets moved to high-resolution displays, there was little effort to maintain battery life or performance. In other words, there was little engineering. OEMs simply slapped new displays on existing designs. It'll be interesting to see how Android makes the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit processors. Samsung and Qualcomm don't control when Google will build Android on ARMv8. I'm not sure who controls the toolchain app developers use, or how readily or quickly app developers will recompile their apps even if the tools are there. Third-party app developers of all sizes on iOS are already preparing to update and recompile their apps for the new UI in iOS 7. Maybe Apple hasn't been sitting on its ass after all.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Standard-Essential Patents for Dummies

There has been a lot of deliberate obfuscation around standard-essential patents (SEPs) lately, mostly from people trying to defend or minimize bad behavior from Samsung and Google/Motorola. However, there is much less gray area than people realize. Samsung and Google/Motorola simply tried to abuse their SEPs, and broke antitrust laws and their commitments to standard-setting bodies in the process. It is actually quite black and white once you take the time to understand the issues.

Standards are usually established for interoperability. Recently, Blu-Ray and HD DVD slugged it out in the market, with Blu-Ray finally coming out on top. To avoid those kinds of bruising battles, especially when they might slow down the adoption of a technology, sometimes an industry will decide to set a standard and pick a winner itself ahead of time. This occurred in the video industry with the MPEG-4 standard and in the telecommunications industry with the 3G standard. When a standard is set, companies voluntarily contribute their technologies and patents to the standard.

Picking a winner this way is actually illegal since it involves the major players in an industry sitting down together and colluding. While any one player may only hold a slice of the market, collectively they hold a monopoly. Governments around the world have made an exception for standard-setting in their antitrust laws as long as the companies participating in the process agree to license any SEPs (patents required to implement the standard) on FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms. This is to protect any small or new players who wish to implement the standard from getting locked out. (Some standard-setting bodies, such as W3C, go even further and require companies to turn over their patents so that implementing a standard doesn't require any licensing at all.) Again, participating in the standard-setting process and contributing your technology to a standard are all voluntary.

By agreeing to license your SEPs on FRAND terms, you are agreeing to license those patents to all comers and with no exceptions. Because of this, it is completely acceptable for Microsoft to release a product that implements a standard before beginning negotiations with Samsung for use of Samsung's SEPs. Microsoft will be paying Samsung; it's just a matter of when. And this payment will cover the period of time when Microsoft was using Samsung's technology without a license. It also means that Samsung should not be able to seek an injunction against Microsoft, blocking Microsoft from selling its product, before a license has been obtained. Injunctions are only allowed if Samsung cannot be made whole with money from Microsoft. But with SEPs, you can always be made whole with money. Samsung should only be able to obtain an injunction if FRAND terms are established (by courts if necessary), and then Microsoft still refuses to pay. In the current disputes, Apple and Microsoft have both signaled their willingness to pay by posting bonds with the courts.

Now that governments in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia have all come down and decided that injunctions are inappropriate in SEP disputes, and a U.S. court has found that Google/Motorola acted in bad faith by never even attempting to offer FRAND terms to Microsoft before seeking an injunction (to recap: Google/Motorola asked for $4,000 million, Microsoft offered $1.2 million, and the court settled on $1.8 million per year), Android fans are now pivoting and trying to say that Samsung's and Google/Motorola's bad behavior is somehow justified by Apple's and Microsoft's bad behavior.

To demonstrate how wrong-headed this is, I'm going to use a simple analogy. Imagine that a school decides to standardize on a certain type of notebook. To attend this school, a student is required to purchase and use these notebooks, which happen to be manufactured and sold by one of the parents (Mr. Google) at the school. No other notebooks are acceptable. In establishing the standard and awarding the notebook contract, the school stipulates that Mr. Google must sell the notebook to students on FRAND terms.

Another parent at the school, Mrs. Apple, makes and sells hand-crafted pencil cases. These pencil cases are highly coveted, but Mrs. Apple refuses to sell one to Mr. Google. In turn, Mr. Google says that Mrs. Apple can either buy notebooks from him for $4,000 or in exchange for one of her pencil cases. The notebooks are worth approximately $2. Tying the licensing of SEPs to the cross-licensing of non-SEPs is not acceptable, even if Mrs. Apple is being a jerk.

Another parent at the school, Mrs. Microsoft, is suing Mr. Google because she slipped and fell on his unshoveled sidewalk following a snowstorm. Mr. Google says that Mrs. Microsoft will have to pay $4,000 for a notebook unless she agrees to drop the lawsuit first. Using SEPs to defend against lawsuits involving non-SEPs is not acceptable, even if Mrs. Microsoft is being a jerk.

When the court found that Google/Motorola was only entitled to $1.8 million per year instead of the $4,000 million it was asking for, many people said that companies would stop participating on standard-setting committees. This, again, shows a complete lack of understanding of the issues involved. One thing that U.S. courts are still grappling with is the basis for establishing licensing fees for SEPs. The opinion favored by Apple and Microsoft (both own considerable numbers of SEPs themselves and have pledged not to seek injunctions) is that SEPs should be valued based on their pre-standard value. Samsung and Google/Motorola both argue that SEPs should be valued based on their hold up value, meaning that SEPs should be worth more because companies have to use them to implement a standard. Some of the SEPs that Google/Motorola was using against Microsoft involved interlaced video. Interlaced videos on the internet are now very rare and I'm sure that Microsoft would have happily left support for interlaced video out of their products rather than pay Google/Microsoft $4 billion per year, but Microsoft had no choice because handling interlaced video is in the MPEG-4 standard.

Returning to our school notebook analogy, imagine that Mr. Google's notebooks sold for $2 before the school standardized on them. Shouldn't $2 be the starting point for establishing FRAND terms? Of course, conditions change over time and Mr. Google may have to adjust the price if paper prices started going up, but $2 should clearly be the starting point. Do you really think that Mr. Google would have problem selling his notebooks for $2 each to 500 students when he used to sell his notebooks for $2 each to 80 students? Should he really have the option to raise the price of his notebook to $5 once students are required to buy them? Those are the arguments that Samsung and Google/Motorola, and their fans, are making.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mastering the Space-Time Continuum

I'm conducting a little experiment this week on the way that I schedule my time, and I've made a few observations. Managing my time so that my life is balanced has always been a struggle for me. As a teacher, my work day did not end when I left the school building and drove home. I routinely put in another 3-4 hours each evening grading papers and planning the next day's lessons. And those chores were a constant. I could not get ahead by putting in extra work over the weekend. And I couldn't put them off or I would not be prepared the next day. Some of my colleagues preferred to stay at work until 6 or 7 pm so that work life would not bleed into their home life. One of my supervising teachers trained herself to grade papers whenever possible throughout the day. In line for the copier? Two papers graded.

I could never develop those habits. My school work expanded to fill whatever time I had. I would literally be grading right up until bedtime. And when I was at home not doing school work, I was thinking about it. Or more accurately, worrying about it and beating myself up for not getting it done earlier. I learned that if I was going out with friends, the only way that I could enjoy myself is if I left my book bag at school. That was the signal that my brain needed to stop nagging me.

Those patterns followed me when I started working for myself. A lot of the writing and creating that I do involves drilling down until I've found the underlying framework that my brain is using to organize thoughts and ideas. It's a bit like chiseling away to find the sculpture in the stone. When I have the time and space to go deep, there are seismic shifts between the drafts that I produce that reflect new levels of understanding and awareness. If I don't give myself that time and space, those re-writes never happen and my work suffers.

Unfortunately, when you are trying to find the sculpture in the stone, the process involves a lot of staring at the stone and very little chiseling, which can feel a lot like procrastination. Learning to trust in my process was a huge breakthrough for me, but it meant giving myself plenty of time to contemplate the stone. Once again, work expanded to fill all the time and space I could give it. The quality and quantity of my output was good — so I was happy — but my home life suffered. My life was out of balance and I wasn't taking care of myself.

I was encouraged to try and restore some of the balance missing from my life after working with Sarah, my coach, for a few weeks. I started cleaning and cooking again, and running on a treadmill. Being healthy, happy, and in balance felt incredible, but I was also getting increasingly worried. The more changes I made, the more I doubted my ability to sustain them. I had deliberately waited until I was in between work projects before bringing up this life stuff with Sarah, giving myself plenty of time to take on new things. What would happen once work resumed?

Together, we designed some systems that might help me sustain things, but I finally bit the bullet and brought up my poor use of time and space. Sarah suggested that I experiment with a schedule. I had always resisted schedules because you can't schedule inspiration. It happens when it happens. The last thing I wanted was to force myself to chisel stone when the stone hadn't spoken to me yet. But I knew that I needed to try something, so I proposed getting up at 11am, taking time for myself, working from 4-9 pm, taking a break, and then working again from 12-3 am, finishing the day with a short bedtime ritual.

I started the schedule on Wednesday and today is Saturday. It was weird at first. I instantly liked giving myself five hours at the start of the day to run, cook, go shopping, and do some cleaning. Those five hours gave me the time and space I needed to utilize the systems I had developed when not working. Forcing myself to work, and nothing else, was hard. I worked from 4-9 pm on Wednesday, probably doing about three hours of actual work in that time. I couldn't force myself to pick up again at midnight, so I took the rest of the night off.

Waking up on Thursday, I had been struck by inspiration during the night, so I was eager to start working right away. But I forced myself to wait until work time started at 4 pm (it wasn't that hard). Again, I cooked, ran, cleaned, and got a lot of life stuff done. It felt fun and productive. Work went a little better. It was still a struggle, but I did both of my shifts this time. The same thing happened on Friday, except work went even better. I actually wanted too continue working past 3 am, but I was too tired from the day and needed some sleep. It felt like I might be coming down with something.

The real revelation was on Saturday (today). I woke up with the whole day in front of me. I was mentally ready to work, but I had decided that I wouldn't work today. Instead, I went through my cleaning checklist to see which weekly chores I hadn't done yet, and which bi-weekly chores I might want to do this week instead of leaving everything for next week. I had actually been good about fitting my weekly cleaning into my daily routine, so the only two things I had left were to clear my entryway (where I tend to let things pile up) and take out the recycling. The bi-weekly chores I wanted to get out of the way were vacuuming and organizing the refrigerator.

I decided to take care of the recycling first and then hit the supermarket and Trader Joe's. While I was gathering the recycling, I organized the refrigerator and took out the kitchen trash at the same time. When I got home from grocery shopping, I cooked lunch and then prepared some stuff for meals later in the week. It was 2 pm by then and there was something that I wanted to do in half an hour. I was feeling pretty good about the day so far, so I went into overdrive and put everything away that had been stacking up in the entryway and then vacuumed the living room and my bedroom. Job done! I may even take on the closet (a quarterly chore) tomorrow.

Deciding not to work today was really liberating. Combined with my cleaning checklist and the other systems I have in place, it let me use the free time wisely and productively, keeping me balanced. The funny thing is, I didn't do any work last weekend either, but I felt terrible about it the whole time and wasn't nearly as energized. Having a schedule isn't about rigidity. It is about establishing an intention for a time and space. By letting work and life bleed together, I wasn't doing justice to either. I may sit down at my computer one day at 4 pm, only to realize that I need to do some deep thinking before I can type anything. And that's okay. I can still give myself permission to go on a walk through the woods to work. What I can't do is put the rest of my life on pause in case I might be ready to work or an idea might come to me.

Last week, I grilled some steak and used the leftovers in lettuce wraps with a side salad of tomato, cucumber, and red onion. I'm thinking that those lettuce wraps will be even better with some pickled vegetables or a herb vinaigrette drizzled on it. If I want to have a balanced life, then I need to carve out time and space for these other parts of me to grow. Now where'd I leave that cook book!