Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another Post On Time

I've been away for a while. Busy. I've been thinking a lot about time, again.

Everything is time. Friends, family, money, children, recreation, fun, whatever.

I've been working a lot. My job is very demanding. It takes a lot of time. It involves early mornings, late nights and weekends. Outside of work, I've been doing life a lot too. Youth group, both junior and senior high, C&C, small group, volleyball, helping friends move, hosting football parties (32 people - That was crazy), and church.

One of the things I've noticed is that the busier I am, the busier I become. I wanted to know why. I think I've figured it out. Work, for work's sake is pointless. We all work to support our lives outside of work (friends, family, fun). We all work to live, not live to work. And I work hard. The more I work, the more I want to live. So, in a weird way the less time I have, the more time I spend. The result is that I don't have much time for myself. It's taken me a couple years to figure that out.

What's the point of spending all my time at work if I can't do what's really important? I think I need to re-evaluate my work/life ratio. I can't cram more work or life into life. I need to cut back on something, and its not life.

Monday, June 16, 2014


I used to think that time was the only commodity of which you couldn't get more. I'm adding sleep to the list.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I remembering sitting in a doctor's office years ago as kid. I picked up a Reader's Digest and came across an article about a man who had two giant jars filled with marbles. Each marble represented a day of his life. One jar was for the good days. The other jar was for the wasted days. The goal was to keep track of how well his life was spent. I always thought that would be interesting to do. I guess the goal would be to have more marbles in the good day jar than the wasted day jar. The last year or so, I'm not sure which jar would be winning. I feel like a lot of days were wasted with work. I know work allows me to buy things, give things away, feed myself, etc... but once the necessities are provided for there's more to life than material and money. I don't want to miss out on the things I really want, because I'm doing the things that aren't quite necessary. It's a fine line. I'm trying to figure out which side some of my responsibilities fall on. And work isn't earning a lot of good day marbles at the moment.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


It's been a long time since I didn't have to do anything.

I have a To Do list at work. There's about 20 things on it. I have a To Do list at home. There's about 20 things on it too.

This means that I always have something to do. There's always a deadline coming. There's always something that can't wait until later. It makes it really difficult to enjoy life. There's never any time to relax. Even when I take time for me, it simply means the "To Do" list is hanging over my head, overshadowing what should be a good time. And the longer I put off the list the more things seem collect on it. It feels never ending.

I know a person who doesn't work a lot. She doesn't have a lot either, but when she is done work for the day. She is done. She isn't on call. She doesn't have a To Do list waiting for her at the "office". She doesn't have a To Do list at home, outside the normal things we all have to do like laundry and grocery shopping and the like. Her time is actually her time. When she isn't working, she is living life.

I don't remember what that is like any more. This weekend I was called from work to arrange crews and charters. I have over 7000 pounds of freight to move and all my flights are sold out and I need to arrange more flights for VIPs. And that's just life as I know it. Today I was fielding questions from 2 different staff in 2 different cities while I was at church. It's hard to focus on God or have a day off when work can call you at any given moment.

I am seriously re-evaluating things. All things. This next year I will make some very intentional decisions about career and life and whatnot. I need to know that when I am home, work is done. I need to simplify my life so that I don't have a million things to do when I'm not working. That's a good start for now.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Observations from the wedding reception I went to last night.

Almost all females like dancing.
Almost all males don't like dancing.
Females will make males dance with them against their will.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tiny Units of Happiness

Time to learn some economics. This will be long and educational, but I promise it will be enlightening, contain a song from Hootie and the Blowfish, and it may even make your life a little better.

First, economics is not the study of money, it is the study of incentives. Economists discovered a long time ago that money is not the ultimate motivator they thought it was. Although the $'s play a large role in our society, economists had to find a way to explain why one person would work a job for X number dollars but another would only do the job for X+10 dollars. Shouldn't X motivate different people the same amount? Obviously money was not the sole incentive at play. Economists decided there must be a more base incentive. What makes people do what they do? Happiness! How do you quantify happiness? Economists created the util. In very simple terms, a util really is a tiny unit of happiness. (Surprise: Utils is what I named my blog so many years ago, intentionally leading up to this point.) Economists could now explain why supposed equal incentive did not equally incentivize different people. One person may be just as happy with $100 as another is with $1000. An economist would say their utility is the same. That's enough money talk for now. From this point on I will be talking about utils.

Second, time is a commodity. Everything costs time. The value of time is based on what you do with it. You can use your time to work, to earn money to buy things, to spend on relationships, hobbies, travelling, etc... Going to a movie costs 3 hours of time. One hour to earn the money and two to actually watch it. Buying a rolex watch may cost 50 hours spent at work. Having a child costs 18 years.

Third, all decisions have a cost. Opportunity costs are the things sacrificed at the expense of something else. Examples would include going on a vacation at the expense of buying a new tv, or having a quiet night at home at the expense of going to a friend's party. Buying a rolex may come at the expense of repairing a car or going away for the weekend. Any time a decision is made there is an opportunity cost.

Utils, time and opportunity costs are intimately interconnected.

Putting it all together

In our daily lives we rarely think about our intentions consciously in terms of utils, time and opportunity costs but underneath the surface those are the 3 factors involved in all our decision making. For example, if you want to eat an extra piece of cake (utils), you will either gain weight (negative utils) or need some extra physical activity (negative utils) to burn off the calories. Is there a better use of your time (opportunity cost) than running on a treadmill? The question then becomes, are the utils derived from eating that cake worth more than the cost (negative utils and opportunity cost) of that extra piece of cake? That was just an example but it perfectly illustrates what I am talking about.

Stories and Math

In high school I had a friend who got a job. He worked a lot to buy a car. He used his car to go to work. He needed to earn money to make his car payments and keep it running and fueled. He needed his car to be fueled and running so he could go to work. It was a pointless cycle. I didn't really work when I was in school. I didn't have a lot of money but I didn't have a lot of expenses. I did have a lot of free time though. And to me, the utility derived from my free time (riding my bike, watching tv and going to youth group) was worth a lot more than driving a sports car and having to work all the time to support it. My friend found more utils in the car than riding a bike and watching tv and was willing to trade his time for the car.

The reason I mention all this now is that I am still quite easily entertained. I don't need a lot in life and yet I seem to be spending a lot of a precious commodity, time, on things that don't have as much value to me, like work (or too much work). Granted, I need to work to feed myself and whatnot, but something seems out of kilter. I work too much and enjoy life too little. I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I feel like I need to make a change.

This weekend I had a couple storm doors installed at my house. My dad would have done the work himself. I did not do the work myself. I hired someone to buy the doors and install them. I never had to shop for doors or do the physical installation myself. Yes, I realize it could have been cheaper if I did all the work. Dad would have saved the money but lost the weekend. I had a weekend mostly free from work. I had some friends over. I watched a movie. I played some video games. I practiced a routine for the youth group talent show.

I gained more utils by spending my time doing those things than by installing the doors and saving money. Was it worth it? To me, yes. To my dad, probably not. Like I said, we're just different people. And that's the whole reason why economists invented utils. The same thing will provide us with different amounts of "happiness". Sometimes the opportunity costs of those things are greater than one of us is willing to sacrifice. Simply put, we make different choices, even when the options are the same, because of the value (utils and time) associated with our options.

I am very mathematical. I try not to reduce all decisions and behaviour to mathematical formulas, but let me share with you something I have been working on for a while. Below is a numerical representation of how we make decisions in life. I like to call it Life Economics.

In terms of material possessions:
A new car = 1000 hours = 1000 utils
A used car = 300 hours = 500 utils
A new bike = 10 hours = 50 utils

If I was looking for the best return on investment a new bike is the best decision I could make. The utils per hour is 5. In other words I gain the most happiness per unit of time invested. A new car would only provide a utils per hour of 1. This means that although I am happier with a new car, I gain the most happiness in the least amount of time with a new bike. Somewhere in between lies a used car. There are two things to note from this example. First, the opportunity cost. For all practical purposes, the used car does everything the new car does. However, it takes less than 1/3 of the time it would take to get a new car. This means I still have 700 hours to spend on other things. Those other things may also provide me with utils. Those other things are the opportunity cost of buying a new car. Second, there is the law of diminishing returns. If one new bike provides me with 50 utils, why don't I buy 20 bikes? It would only cost me 200 hours and provide me with 1000 utils, right? Wrong. I gain less and less utils for every new bike I buy until soon, another new bike would not add any value to my life. I think after 5 bikes my utils would be maxed out at about 100. That means I could aquire 100 new bikes and never be as happy as I could with one used car.

In life we all attempt to maximize our utils, whether we are conscious of it or not. I hope the preceding has helped you to visualize what you are spending your life on, and maybe ask yourself why.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Proverbs XX

“Guard well your spare moments.  They are like uncut diamonds.  Discard them and their value will never be known.  Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” – Emerson

Friday, March 7, 2014

Phantom Glasses

I wore glasses for over 20 years. Last year I had laser eye surgery. I've been glasses free for 13 months now. My brain is still getting used to that fact.

After I had the surgery done I would find myself reaching up to adjust my glasses that were no longer there. When I would step into the shower I would try to remove my phantom glasses. The first thing I would do in the morning, once I woke up, was to reach for my glasses on the night stand. (Up until a couple months I still kept them there because I didn't know what I should do with them.) It's still a unique feeling to walk into a warm and humid room from the dry cold outside and not have my vision fog up.

A couple days ago I hopped out of bed and went to the kitchen for breakfast. As I walked down the hall I instinctively stopped, realized I didn't put on my glasses, and turned to my room to go get them. It took a second for me to remember I don't need glasses any more. Even after a year I still have some of those old reactions from a different life.

Find a lesson in there somewhere.