tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

25Mar/121

Mistaken Email Identity

The first thing you should know about me is that I'm an early adopter. I had Gmail well before many other folks due to a nice person who sent me an invite. This means that I'm one of the lucky folks that managed to get my full name@gmail.com. Now because it was trendy at the time, I put a dot in between my first and last name, simply because that was what most people were doing.

A little-known fact about Gmail is that because of the dot in my name I actually own my full name with no dot @gmail.com as well.

A few years ago I started getting some emails that were distinctly not mine. Initially I thought these were spam but many of them seemed to actually be legitimate emails, including a tee time reservation for a ranch in Oregon. Eventually I started getting legitimate emails and personal correspondence for this person who seemed to share my name but who many people seemed to think had my email address and, obviously, did not.

It even came to the point that I had a back-and-forth with someone claiming that they had known me from somewhere else and I had said no I didn't and they had said oh no yes remember I met you here and I said no I'm a 20-year-old Canadian I'm pretty sure I've never met you before. A few weeks ago I even got a flight confirmation for this gentleman; however, with no way to reach him I had nothing to do with it obviously.

A few months ago I started receiving a mailing list email from a pub in the United Kingdom. I figured that my gentleman who golfed in Oregon had perhaps taken a trip and, for some reason, given his email to a local pub. However, I have since come to the conclusion that there is actually a third person who shares my first and last name and believes he owns that address at Gmail.com. The reason for this is a I have been receiving emails for a website purporting to allow UK people to have extramarital affairs. These emails come complete with a login and password allowing me to login as him and learn a bit more about him.

I initially debated the moral conundrum of logging in as someone else and looking over their personal emails, however I realized that this is guy seems to be cheating on his wife or encouraging others to cheat on their wives, so I'm kind of okay with it.

So a few minutes ago I did it, feeling just a little dirty even doing so. The gentleman had little information on his profile and it seemed to be only something exploratory; he only viewed one person and haven't done much of anything. However, being a little bit of a vigilante I went to look for a delete profile button but was unable to find anything. I attempted to delete his information but there is really nothing there, and so I settled for simply changing the email address to a nonsensical one that hopefully means he will be unable to log in again since he never received the login info and password that I have received.

The whole thing, the experiences with both Toms, really makes me wonder. How do you enter your own email address so completely wrong? How do you think you own email address that you never have and never will? I wish I had a way to get in touch with both of these gentlemen, for Oregon Tom to tell him that he really needs to make sure people get his email address right, and for the UK Tom to tell him that this is not the way.

Have you ever had a case of mistaken email identity? Tell me about it!

16Mar/121

Why I’m Never Supporting the Trumps, and Why You Shouldn’t Either, and Also Why I’m Going Half Veg

I'm gonna warn you right off the bat, this may get a bit preachy.

Many of my friends, particularly my vegetarian friends, will know me as an active meat-eater. I love my bacon, my burgers, my jello. I'm always one to poke fun at those friends, quote a Simpsons episode, and things like that. But I think those jokes are over today.

Alec Baldwin RTed an article today about two of Donald Trump's sons. They had apparently gone on a hunting trip to Africa, where they had killed and maimed several rare, endangered animals.

I'll stress first that no laws were broken. This is entirely legal in the country they were in. But, to my mind, it is incredibly immoral.

There are pictures. I'll warn you they aren't for the feint of heart. I believe they can be found through the HuffPost article here.

I find this entirely reprehensible and completely incomprehensible. How can you take joy from this? Is it strictly a machismo thing? To feel like a big man? To stroke your ego (among other things)?

I can get hunting to survive. But in the modern world, particularly for rich heirs, who has to do that?

I can get hunting for population control. We exist in balance with nature, and people have hunted for thousands of years beforehand.

But this? I do not get. At all. I do not get how you live with yourself after killing an innocent animal in such a way.

I'm aware of my own hypocrisy. I'll probably eat some form of meat tonight, because I don't fully get to choose my meals right now. I'm aware they don't remove the meat surgically from the chicken, or the cow.

And I've seen things like this before. I know things like this go on. But for some reason, I think this is it for me. Or at least a start.

So I'm never patronizing the Trumps in any way. Not that I ever did, really. But I will ensure I don't. I would encourage you not to, but of course that's up to you.

And I'm gonna start trying to cut meat out. I don't know if I can or ever would go 100% vegetarian. But I'm gonna aim for 2 meals a day now, breakfast and lunch, and see how we go. There will be exceptions, of course. But I feel like I need to do something. Anything.

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14Mar/120

The Importance of Music

Thanks to the lovely GFM I've been thinking more about music lately. Music is a huge part of her life and, a while back, it was a huge part of mine. Strictly in a consumptive sense, mind you. I have no talent for music creation. I can't sing for the life of me and can barely distinguish the difference between notes. Nevertheless, there was a time where I was never, ever without music in my life. I would even try to walk alone most of the time, so I could listen to music, instead of chatting to people.

Somehow, though, that's faded in recent years. I don't listen to the radio anymore, and for the most part don't hear new songs. I'd listen to my top 50 most played, occasionally pick up something new and, over time, started listening to podcasts instead, music just quietly fading away.

At the same time, I've noticed in myself a certain hardening (obligatory "that's what she said"). I keep thinking of the Sunscreen Song, and the line "Live in New York, but leave before it makes you hard."  I think working in Toronto is making me hard. I really need to find a better phrase for that.

What I mean is that I don't feel like I've had the same joy in life, in the last year or two. Not no joy. I certainly have my moments. But just that day to day, simple happiness. A smile as you walk down the hall, for no particular reason. I find I get irritated easier, that I need more time alone, that I have little energy to do anything but work and sit at my computer at home. And I have trouble sleeping and waking up, almost every day.

There has been some incredible joy in my life in the last year, and particularly in the last 6 months or so. But all I've felt is malaise.

Then yesterday, I put on some music. Something GFM had recommended. And I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it. Then I swapped through playlists, and played something else on the way home.

This morning, I put on some Florence and the Machine on the walk to work, and I looked up, and watched everything go by. The whip at my back felt less strong. The music lifted me. In this world I was a brave new person, with exciting new theme music, ready to take on the world and to get what's mine.

I need more music in my life. I need to make that effort. But I do also think I need to leave Toronto before it leaves me hard.

 

There's gotta be a better way to say that.

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8Mar/123

Women are pretty awesome

Today is International Women's Day, and a couple friends suggested I talk about that. The problem is I don't know what to say.

I find almost any time I try to put in my two cents about women's issues, I tend to put my foot in my mouth. I seem to always end up arguing some chauvinistic, backward viewpoint that I don't fully agree with. How? I have no idea. I tend to try and play Devil's Advocate in almost any argument, it seems, so I think it comes from that. That and the simple idea that I really, really dislike lumping any one group together, be it men or women.

So here's what I will say. We still have a long way to go on women's issues. The battlefronts may be a bit different now, but they're still there. And these issues are deeply ingrained in our cultural psyche, but that doesn't make them something we should just shrug off.

Read up on it. Watch for it. Do those, and you're already ahead of the game.

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7Mar/129

The Race to the Top of the Stress Meter

I'm writing this from a local cafeteria, eating an overpriced salad, drinking an overpriced bottle of water, writing this on my overpriced MacBook Air. And I feel ridiculously guilty for doing so.

See, in my job contract it's specified that I get 1 hour for lunch to do with as I will, with the proviso that this can be forfeited for company needs. I usually eat at my desk, because I find my desk comfortable, I can set up my laptop, and I don't generally get interrupted too much. But it does happen occasionally, and lately more often than not. And I'm not the kind of guy who can ignore my phone ringing, or who is comfortable telling people who walk in "I'm on lunch." I don't like that guy, who's never willing to help out, who runs out right at 5, who doesn't touch work til 9am.

So what am I doing sitting here, out of the office, when I'm sure my phone is ringing, or someone is poking their head in my office?

Because every now and again, that guy has a point.

There seems to be a competition among my fellow Gen-Y folks about who can work the hardest. Who is putting in the most hours at work, who is working the most weekends, who is getting the least amount of sleep. So consider this my official forfeit for that race. I'm out. I don't work the most, I don't work the latest or the hardest. Congratulations to those who do. I don't wanna be in that race.

Working hard is something to be lauded. We should value and admire hard work. But past a certain point it's less hard work and more bragging rights, less about the stress of your job and more about the stress you put on yourself.

In my mind it's smarter to, occasionally, leave right at 5. To not start til 5. To leave the office at lunch, leave the Blackberry at work, and make sure you are completely inaccessible to the office for an hour. Just an hour. It's tempting to think you're so important that you can't do that.

I have a hard truth for you.

Unless you are a high level government official (in which case, hello Mr. President, big fan of your work!) you can be out of touch for an hour during the work day. I don't like to speak in absolutes, but if you can't be inaccessible for an hour, you need to delegate or set expectations better. It may be your workplace says that you can't be inaccessible for an hour, and that's fine, that's some jobs. But make sure it's your workplace saying that, and not you. Manage yourself.

But, despite writing all that, I still feel guilty sitting here, and worry about how many voicemails and emails I'll have when I get back. However, I know when I get back I'll feel better. More in control, focused, and recharged. So I think it's worthwhile.

Let's just hope my bosses agree.

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5Mar/124

Exercising, Socialization, Skype and You

I'm supposed to go to CrossFit again tonight. Well, I say supposed to like someone else made the decision. I did.

It's been a week and a half since I first went. I didn't go back after due to a friend coming into town and then getting sick.

Then I started realizing how easily I could start cutting down calories and started thinking about life and how I want to make sure I'm spending time with the people I love, doing things I love.

Then I started talking to friends (including the current object of my affection) more on Skype and other voice chat systems.

And I know it's good for me. I know it won't be as bad as I fear, I know I'll have more fun than I think I will, and I know it won't even take as long as I fear. But I don't wanna. I don't want to leave this warm bubble of friends, of worlds I know. I don't want to dive into this cold and, honestly, seemingly unfriendly world of a gym.

I know it will be good for me. And I know I'll be glad I did it.

My nose is also sniffling today, heralding a resurgence of a cold. Experience tells me if I go and exercise I may exacerbate things, which worries me somewhat, but that's more of an excuse than anything else. And I know I can't go tomorrow, due to a get-together with a friend. And I won't wanna go on Wednesday any more than today. But I may be sniffling less.

I've been worried lately about stress, and I know that this exercise would, in the long run, help me relieve stress. But there's nothing I'd like more than to not have to face that room of people I don't know, to not have to find the trainer and ask for help, and to just say "hey, I'll lose weight through diet change," and never go again.

But I will go back. If not today, then Wednesday. If not Wednesday, than next week. If not next week, than the week after. In fact, I just messaged my friend who went there, to give me some support.

It's okay to not want to do something, for some things to be hard, for some things to be forced. It's about identifying how to make them less hard.

 

(that's what she said?)

3Mar/120

6Months and 12 Changes for March

I started off the 6Months Project with a bang by getting sick and feeling like crap. Yay!

It hasn't been all bad, because it has given me some time to reflect on myself and to relax a bit, even if I did feel like crap while doing it. I'm hoping to get back to CrossFit next week, though I may scale back my initial 3x/week plan to 2x/week.

Relaxing at home reminded me just how much I enjoy doing exactly that.

I don't so much mean sitting and doing nothing, but hanging out with friends on WoW, having long Skype conversations with special people, or keeping up with Twitter and other things. I may be able to incorporate some gym time, and I'd like to, but those things are important to me, and I want to make sure I'm not sacrificing them.

Around the same time I came across a neat tool, from reddit, for the site Wolfram Alpha. If you go there and search for "weight loss" you get this handy tool, which shows you graphs, time estimates, and all sorts of fun facts on weight loss. For fun, I put in my info, and, just out of curiosity, what I thought was maybe around a doable average caloric intake per day for me. And surprisingly enough, it showed me at my ideal weight in just over a year.

This got me thinking about how I could reach my weight loss goals without dedicating 3 nights a week to the gym. In this same reddit thread, there was someone talking about his own weight loss, and he confirmed one of my worst fears. See, I have always had trouble counting calories, or saying no to delicious foods, without feeling like I'm doing some chore, or depriving myself. I should probably try and frame it a bit better, and I've worked at that, but it's still there. This reddit user said, in his struggle, he'd found you can never not be a fat guy. You can never be one of those people who just doesn't watch what they eat and is okay. Your body isn't built like that, and neither is your mind. It is a constant struggle, he said.

And while I hope he's wrong, it reminded me that I will need more than the gym, and that I will have to find a way to eat sustainably to maintain a healthy weight. So this means watching and changing my diet.

So my 12change for March is to keep up my meditation, keep trying to eat more whole foods, and also document my foods, every day, with LoseIt, starting on Sunday. I'll try to ideally keep my calories per day at around 2000-2200. This may sound high, but realize that a) I'm a guy and b) I'm a big guy. The idea is finding a calorie level I can eat comfortably, without feeling like I'm depriving myself. Maybe reddit guy is right, and I always will feel like I'm depriving myself, but I'd like to try and prove him wrong.

So what do you think, reader? Do people ever get to the point where they can just relax about food, or if you've had to lose a lot of weight, will you always have to watch it?

2Mar/121

Whips and Winds at Your Back

I've been sick for the last week or so. Really, I have been for a while. Nothing serious, just a low level cold that seems to crop up whenever I stress myself out a little too much and don't get enough sleep.

So this week I actually took 2 sick days, which I rarely do. When I was growing up with 2 teachers for parents, to stay home from school you pretty much had to be at Death's door. You just powered through til the weekend, or the summer, like they did. In fact, it's been an experience with them, taking vacation days. They're always worried about if I should really be taking a vacation day off just to relax, or to run some errands. I have to remind them that, if I don't take my vacation days, I don't get a vacation.

It's similar with sick days, still. I feel bad taking a sick day unless I can't physically move. After all, if I can drag myself out of bed to a computer, I could theoretically drag myself to work at a computer, right?

Not quite.

See I don't work at my desk that's a few feet from my bed. Well, I do sometimes, but a good chunk of my job involves me being physically at my desk, so that's not always an option. And going to work means getting up relatively early, getting myself cleaned up, and riding a train into downtown Toronto. And it was the idea of that commute that most stressed me out, and most convinced me I needed to take a couple days.

(That and the fact that I figured most people would not want me sniffling and sneezing all over them).

There's an energy around downtown Toronto. I work in the Financial District, where many of the major banks, law firms and other big companies make their homes. Every day thousands of people flood through Union Station and into these high rises, some of the tallest buildings in Canada. Men and women in suits, people who make more money in a year than I ever will. And surrounding it all is this energy. This kind of psychic feeling of being rushed. When you walk in the FD at almost any time Monday-Friday, 9-5, you can never, ever walk fast enough. Someone will always brush past you with a huff, even if you're running. I find myself exhausted as I make that walk, my legs aching, often a little sweaty. Part of that is cause, yes, I am overweight. But part of that is also because I feel this need to walk faster than comfortable. It's like there's a whip at my back.

When I first started down here, it felt like a wind at my back. A power, pushing me forward, the whole energy of the place empowering me. I could have it all, like these guys did. I could live the promise they had when they achieved their B.Comm's of wine, women and wealth.

And I can. But I don't want that.

If you look closely at these folks, they are constantly tired. They'll brag about how little sleep they got, how many hours they are working. They will rush past you on their way to work, and you just want to stop them and say "where's the fire?"

This energy has begun to feel like a whip at my back. It exhausts me every time I step out into it, and I come home feeling just drained. I barely sleep these days, thinking about all the things I have to do, all the things I may have missed, all the things coming up. I want to do little more than stay home and talk to my friends.

I'm doing my best to recover; trying to be more firm at work, trying to shift stuff off my plate, and to admit when I have too much.

And also? I force myself to walk slowly in downtown Toronto, to turn around and tell that whipper to stop it. I may be the guy you want to punch in the back of the head, but I stand to one side. Walk the fuck around me.