Author Archives: hstriepe

About hstriepe

Living - still

The perfectable lightness of being

the_unbearable_lightness_of_being_by_fokkusunm-d6en4tw-2017-04-19-10-34.jpgSource: Deviant Art

As I am getting older, I am becoming much more aware of my state. Sleep is more of a challenge, keeping your body functioning smoothly becomes a conscious goal, and I am really quite conscious of how the physiological state impacts my mental experience. In my 60’s, jumping out of bed is not the exhilarating experience I remember from my 20s.

Yet I am much more conscious of the flow of time and the importance of every moment to be lived fully.

Insomnia and other issues started me on a conscious road of measuring and tracking myself and looking at the results. I am gaining understanding of the influences that give me a good night sleep and make me feel well during the day, things like

  • Sleep – 7.5 – 8 hours – this has been difficult. I put in the time, but actual results are variable. It is the most delicate balance depending on time in bed, prior eating and drinking etc. I can only allow the occasional single glass of wine, need to get to bed by 10:30pm, eat only moderately, and now force myself to get up at 7am unless I had a truly poor night with lots of sleep interruptions.
  • Meditation – I now strive for at least twice a day 15 min, or longer monitored with Inner Balance
  • Exercise – I strive for 5 minutes HIIT on a stationary bike plus some bar bell work
  • Weight loss via no carb diet
  • Writing or other “self-fulfillment” activities

My success in achieving the goals is improving. Monitoring myself with Streaks helps maintain awareness. And when it all works like today the experience of being alive seems on another plane. It is not like a manic high, but just feeling great, productive, at peace, in the flow. It makes all challenges look easy and life fun.

I think, the most important realization in these moments is how our outlooks and judgment are truly impacted by our physiology.

Makes you wonder, whether important people like politicians and presidents should have physiological tests before showing up for work.

Time

sunrise_thailand_ko_samui-2017-02-11-18-22.jpg

I thought I was establishing a habit of writing frequently. But life got in the way. The really odd thing is that in my mind the last time I blogged seemed like a couple, maybe three weeks ago, not months.

There is the desire to write, the surge of ideas, the need for expression. But actually sitting down seems hard at the moment. In any endeavor the vision of what the outcome will be is usually divorced from reality. There is the struggle for what you feel is there and what you find forming on the screen or page.

I think, most of us find it hard to live in the present. We reminisce, we look forward to something. Before we know it has passed. Family, kids home, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and suddenly it is February with the tax return looming. And I will not write about politics right now.

Like everything good, I need to make it a habit. Life change – daily mindfulness, exercise, expression – write.

Track it, form the habit. Write, no matter how silly the output. And maybe I can make something of the ides stacked out there in my notes. In the flow, the self stops being the focus. Rationally, life is futile. We find or escape in the purpose we create.

Watching the painter painting…

With the sun hanging low on one of the last nice autumn days. Kate Bush singing about an Architect’s dream and painters in changing light.
thelightischanging-2016-10-9-18-11-2016-10-9-18-11.jpg
Chores done.
Sounds of birds, with Bertie, when her son was young. Indulgent? A parent’s right!
Being in the moment, all done and not wanting.
What a wonderful feeling to truly experience life.
All you have to do is be there.

Bill Gates: “We Need an Energy Miracle”

1920-2016-09-11-18-37.jpg

Killing the fallacy that Capitalism and Markets are effective and efficient. And it is especially true when viewing the slow unfolding climate disaster.

Bill Gates on the surprising wisdom of government R&D: “When I first got into this I thought, How well does the Department of Energy spend its R&D budget? And I was worried: Gosh, if I’m going to be saying it should double its budget, if it turns out it’s not very well spent, how am I going to feel about that? But as I’ve really dug into it, the DARPA money is very well spent, and the basic-science money is very well spent. The government has these “Centers of Excellence.” They should have twice as many of those things, and those things should get about four times as much money as they do.”

Read more on the Atlantic.

Fixing Myself to Fight Getting Older

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Dune by David Lynch, Thufir Hawat: “Remember, the first step in avoiding a trap is knowing that one has been set.” This concept is really fundamental to all problem solving, to fix a problem you need to know of its existence and understand it well.

It’s the kind of thing that must currently drive Elon Musk crazy, since they do not yet have the right data to understand the recent Falcon 9 fueling accident. For Elon, accidents are just part of the path, unfortunate but an opportunity for learning and improvement to achieve reliable and full control.

Being older is not obsessing me as might be common in our youth obsessed culture. But I do feel a slow down. My mind is fine, but the body is clearly showing some wear. One elbow seems slight arthritic, my sleep has become very disrupted, and a creeping weight issue has created “more of me” than I would like.

background-hero-2016-09-11-16-51.jpg

My basic approach this year has been to “map the problem space.” And I have to say that Withings has been with me on this as has my Apple gear. I have really become to like their Healthmate app, which is tracking my weight, BMI, HR, and other environmental factors with their Body scale. I have started tracking my sleep with the wonderful Aura, which tracks my troubled behavior via movement and HR picked up through a sensor underneath the mattress – no need to wear a wrist device or headband. It also tracks light levels and noise. It features a neat “go to sleep” color light and sounds and wakes you gently at the right time (I tend not to need that.) I exercise with an HR strap reporting with my stationary bike cadence into Wahoo app. After realizing some trends, I have been able to take action.

  1. My weight has continued to ever so slightly keep shifting in the wrong direction. I faced the tough choice and have started to cut our carbs and now track calories with MyFitnessPal. The trending plot in the Healthmate app really made things clear. My iPhone and Apple watch are tracking my Activity level.
  2. My sleep patterns has worsened after getting better. I am reviewing changes in a few supplements and am switching back to an easier regimen and sources. I am also more careful about keeping regular hours and reducing exposure to blue light in the evening with Apple’s “Night Shift” screen settings and the wonderful f.lux on my Macs. It’s free but so nicely designed, I would gladly pay for it.
  3. I had been tracking my blood pressure. On a daily level. I saw a sudden dramatic and persistent spike to dangerous level that persisted for several days. Definitely unusual and most likely stress related. I took steps to reduce stress and ended up getting a Withings Blood Pressure Monitor that I am now using mornings and evenings automatically averaging my readings. I am happy to say I am back in the safe zone.
  4. I am also planning on starting a daily log about how I am feeling to see correlations and detect long term trends.

I don’t think it is just my playful fascination with gadgetry that makes this process more fun using devices. But the integrated tracking on iPhone and web really makes it easier and keeps me with the program. It also supports gradual changes that are easier to handle than trying dramatic change in one step.

However, I might have to get more proactive in heading out to a medical professional in some areas – like that painful elbow. Just like a car that is not maintained and gradually declines to become a wreck instead of a classic, we get “old” before our time via gradual diminishment and aches that we do not deal with.

Time to be proactive in self maintenance!

Robert Hughes & John Berger – Art as a Way of Perceiving the World

pastedgraphic-2016-07-5-19-52.png

A long time ago we were fascinated by the series “The Shock of the New” by Robert Hughes broadcast on PBS. It was both captivating and enlightening, one of the few programs I remember vividly. I had been thinking about it lately and looked for it on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, but without results. Oddly, I ran across the series on YouTube.com apparently captured from VHS. Since our streaming is poor, I downloaded the series for later viewing.

The wonderful impact of art is that it makes us more aware, it teaches us to look and hear, it makes us see! Art is the mirror of a culture and must be seen as deeply important to the culture’s participants. If you lose art, you lose the mental and emotional commons.

pastedgraphic1-2016-07-5-19-52.png

While I waited, youtube led me to John Berger and his equally fascinating series “Ways of Seeing,” which I had not been previously aware of. He was interviewed interviewed as part of the 2012 Serpentine Memory Marathon. This interview is rich with perspective, but one that really struck me with a memory from my youth was the following observation.

After the fall of the Russian system clearly displaying all of communisms fault, how could anybody have believed or still believe. The answer is that today nobody would know the hope it embodied, the hope for a more just system.

I remember feeling that before my disillusionment.