Bret W. Lester

Passion for Your Work

I love my work, but honestly, these days, I can only stand to work a few hours a day. I need to balance it with other things, hence the resurfacing of my fishing obsession. Earlier in my career, you could say that I was passionate. I could work nonstop on programming. But you have to think about what's fueling that. When I was starting out (self-taught, by the way), things were fresh, and I think something happens with the motivational circuits in your brain when you combine the slow drip of learning a new skill with the steady feeling of accomplishment that you get from building something. And there's probably something that happens as you age related to how long you can tolerate being in front of a computer screen.

I've found out that as I get older, the more I need to balance work with other things. I've fallen into a routine where I work for 3 to 4 hours in the morning, and that's about all I can stand. I feel a need to get away from my desk and do something else. My favorite thing to do is take off to my local lake and hunt carp, but it's August, and that's not really an option.

So what else is there?

There's a few things that I've been messing around with. For one, there's this writing challenge I'm in the midst of now. I think writing involves overlapping brain regions with programming, but it's not quite the same, so it's a tolerable non-programming pastime. And I usually do it somewhere away from my desk. I take my laptop somewhere else in the house, so at least there is a little change in atmosphere.

I've also started vermicomposting (that's composting with earthworms). It all started with my desire to have fresh bait at the ready at all times. So I did some research on how to grow worms and discovered this whole world of vermicomposting. Of course, there are tons of YouTube videos about it. There are even entire companies dedicated to it. Well, I decided to start small because I wasn't sure it would work out. I thought it might be too hot where I live. But so far, the "squirmisons," as I call them, are thriving. But not without a little help. First, what I did was drill some holes in a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket, then buried it up to the rim in the ground in our backyard. Keeping it underground helps with temperature regulation. I read you're supposed to keep their bedding under 80 degrees F, so I've been placing frozen water bottles in the bin throughout the day. There is a lot more to say about how to compose their bedding and all that, but I won't get into it.

I also love taking walks, but it's been so damn hot lately, that's only an option at or before sunrise and sunset.

And of course, there's swimming. Lots of swimming. Just about every other house has a pool where I live. And that's because our summers are what I like to call "hell hot." Our electricity bills are eye-boggling in the summer because of pool pumps and air conditioners.

I've long had this fantasy about living underground in the summer. Even if houses were commonly built with basements, you could at least retreat to an underground room where it's nice and cool. But architecture sucks. If it costs a little bit extra, builders ain't building it, and frankly, I don't think the average buyer considers anything beyond square footage anyway. People will pay out the wazoo for any little patch of ground in California. Doesn't matter if the architecture is ugly. So the energy consumption around here goes astronomical in the summer because every single home needs to be air-conditioned around the clock, just to stay within a livable temperature range.

Back to passion for work...

Overall I still love software development. I have new ideas about what to build all the time. It gives me anxiety because I know how few of those ideas I'm physically capable of pursuing. After a certain amount of time working, it's like I hit a wall. I can't stand being at the computer anymore, and I'd rather be doing anything else. I could force myself to keep working. I've done that, and it's not worth it. It's better to let a night's sleep renew your motivation. Again, this reminds me how grateful I am to be self-employed. It is agony to have a 9 to 5 job where you're only productive for a fraction of the day, and the rest of the time you're either surfing the net or having inane conversations about nothing with fellow inmates coworkers.


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