The Why Question

I’m getting into some new habits this year to exercise both my mind and my body.


I woke up and decided I would read, think and write, as I had planned the day before. I purchased a MacBook Air and an extended keyboard and mouse from my previous place of work. I’m trying to keep expenses as low as possible. But I have been fortunate to build up a collection of equipment that should keep me going for a while. So, I have an old Apple 19” Cinema Display to which I can connect the USB keyboard, which is in turn connected to the MacBook Air. This way, I can maximize the number of USB ports available and have a dual monitor set up.

I thought, “Why not use the Bluetooth keyboard to connect with the iPad.” Typing is so much faster for me on a real keyboard. While I was disconnecting the Bluetooth keyboard from the MacBook Air, I noticed that I had some unread emails. One was from a friend of mine from Vancouver, Andrea, who is the only other Symphony developer in know of in the Vancouver area. I had spent my time connecting with people to let them know I was going to be trying something new, and Andrea was one of them.

While yesterday didn’t go according to plan, I accomplished a few things.

Connected with people. Check.

Andrea had included a file of a Symphony application that he has been working on. That was pretty exciting for me, since I had worked with Andrea about the same time this year on a Symphony project for a client of Domain7. It had been a very successful collaboration, and I have been hoping to have a chance to work with him again.

Once I had the iPad hooked up to the Bluetooth keyboard, I was able to fire up one of my favourite apps, Simplenote, and whip off a blog post about getting creative. Simplenote is a fantastic tool, as I am able to create simple text files in Markdown format that automatically syncs with all my devices and are also backed up to my Dropbox account. And I can switch to Notational Velocity on my laptop and resume writing just where I left off with Simplenote on the iPad.

As nice as Google Docs are, they still trap me into a print-based workflow and a proprietary file format and application based on Microsoft Word. [Shiver.]


I try my best to keep in shape, but some of the habits I once had have fallen by the wayside. I used to cycle to work (trying to do my part for the sake of the environment), but I didn’t want to let the extra travel time impact an important project I was working on last year. And I usually take the bus through the winter. Late hours at the office meant that I could not depend on public transit (are you listening, BC Transit?), so I have been driving (boo) this winter.

I also took up speed skating and rowing to be able to spend some time with my daughter, who was also involved in these sports. Rather than watch from the sidelines, I thought my involvement in my daughter’s sports might be a good way to make up for a very sedentary occupation.

We joined the Fraser Valley Rowing Club and now my daughter and I do some coaching there. While no one is using the ergs over the winter, we have borrowed one to keep in our basement, where we have set up a television that is hooked up to a PS3, a Wii, Apple TV, and digital cable. Our family spends a good amount of time there, playing games and watching television and movies, like Lord of the Rings.

The erg wasn’t being used very much, so I determined to make it part of my new workout regimen this year. It’s pretty unstructured, but I thought I should start slow, since it’s been at least two or three months since I have done more than lift a fork to my mouth or move a mouse across a desk. To keep things interesting, I thought it would be good to be inspired by creative work other people are doing, and I find Vimeo to be a good source of variety that opens my eyes to different places, people, sights and sounds (although the erg gets pretty loud).

Today, I forgot to eat breakfast while I was watching the end of a skateboarding video, The Killing Season, which was really about a scary motorbike ride from northern Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City in the south. So I grabbed breakfast and decided to watch just one more short video before getting to work.

I was sticking to the staff picks, and I was intrigued by a video called Wright’s Law.

Happy, crazy and unpredictable are the words students at Louisville Male High School use to describe their physics teach Jeffrey Wright. With his goofy behavior and intriguing experiments, Wright is able to maintain the attention of teenagers to teach them how the universe works. But only by sharing his personal life with them is he able to explain the reason why things work and the purpose of life.

After watching this, I feel some affirmation about my choice to try something new. It’s about the ultimate “Why?” question, and the answer that Wright demonstrates in his life.