I’m a rover, seldom sober.
(Age progression software, this is me in 10 years if I continue as a tree man…)
March 17 once again. For most, it is St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish homage to the juice of the barley and music of the fiddle. For myself, it is that too, of course, but it is also the start of my new fiscal year. Being born on St. Patrick’s Day is all it’s cracked up to be. It is time for the Guinness to flow. I am Irish on my mom’s side, by way of Newfoundland, the only true Irish colony.
It occurred to me several months ago that celebrating January 1st as the new year doesn’t really make any sense. What significance does that date have for me? I get a new day planner that I won’t use nearly enough, I get to chuck the Christmas tree out the door, and I’m left wondering what happened to all those “resolutions” from the previous January. And while all of this is happening, I’m nursing a hangover.
January 1st is an arbitrary date for me. It doesn’t feel like the start of a new year, it just feels like – Tuesday. After pondering the issue for far too long, I decided that instead of calculating the new year the way that everybody else does, it makes far more sense for every individual to calculate the new year based on their birthday. Today, March 17, 2017, I turn 36, so today marks the beginning of my new fiscal year, Fiscal 36. For people who are actually born on January 1st, well, lucky you. Your day planner was custom made for you. The rest of us will just have to make do.
Ah, the start of a new year. A time to reflect on what was, and to draw plans for the future. Here are some of the things that I was up to in Fiscal 35:
I signed my first Apprentice – James
I had always looked forward to signing an apprentice but the timing and circumstances never seemed right. But last year, the stars aligned and James became the first apprentice at ConservaTree. Looking forward to a great season of climbing and trimming. Glad to have you aboard James!
Fiscal 35 saw me finally taking the steps to build an online arborist resource at EducatedClimber.com and quite frankly, I don’t know why it took me so long. As they say, the best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago, the second best time is now. I bought a GoPro camera and mounted it to my helmet, I got a Youtube account, and I started producing videos and articles and building an audience. This has now become my obsession. At any given time there are a hundred videos bouncing around in my head that need to be made yesterday. And I love that I have gotten back into writing. I always felt that I could write, but for many years after dropping out of university I just didn’t really have an excuse to do it. Look for big things on the site in Fiscal 36. I will continue to provide value for my audience, through producing content for my apprentice James. My apprentice provides context for everything that I do on the site. I am not interested in talking about all the latest gear, my focus is Back to Basics. Without a grounding in the basics, you do not have a framework from which to evaluate the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. My goal is to provide a solid foundation of basics for a total noob to absorb that will allow them to be productive on the jobsite from day 1. That is my mission.
I started listening to podcasts in 2013 with the Lew Rockwell show, but burning a couple episodes to a CD was just too tedious. But last year I switched trucks and my new beast (’97) had a brand new stereo with aux-in and a usb port. This finally made it feasible to listen to podcasts while driving, which was a game changer. I live out in the sticks, so pretty much wherever I go is a long drive. Now I actually look forward to long drives because of the information and stories that I get to absorb. These are my current favourites:
Arnold Schwarzenegger Part 1, Part 2
“The Iceman” Wim Hof
Sebastian Junger (former arborist)
Coach Christopher Sommer
Kevin Kelly Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
The James Altucher Show – Business and life lessons from my favourite blogger.
How I Built This – Entrepreneurial inspiration from NPR
You Are Not So Smart – it’s true, and I’m not either
Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn is the best
Here are some of the books that I enjoyed this past year:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki
The E-myth Revisited – Michael Gerber
The 4 Hour Chef and Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Choose Yourself – James Altucher
A Drinking Life – Pete Hamill
Folks, This Ain’t Normal – Joel Salatin
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
Year of the Squat
I started Fiscal 35 with big plans for lifting weights. My main focus was going to be squats. I have always hated barbell back squats, they throw my balance off and they just don’t feel right. Front squats and kettlebell squats feel fine, but back squats don’t seem to work for me. I had always read that back squats are supposed to work your glutes and hamstrings, but all I could ever feel working was the quads. Also, it was always difficult to keep my heels planted, it always felt more natural to roll forward onto the balls of my feet. Fiscal 35 was going to be the year that all of that changed.
I bought a set of weights and a barbell from a guy who didn’t use them anymore, 465 pounds worth. I built a squat rack out of two skids and some boards. I started doing back squats with maybe 100 pounds but it just didn’t feel right. So what I ended up doing was just focusing on bodyweight squats. I did a lot of bodyweight squats. I focused mentally on the back of my legs – the posterior chain as they call it. I just kept doing squats and after maybe a couple of months something changed. I no longer felt it in the front of my legs, I could now feel it in the back. The problem with squatting for me was not muscular, it was neuro. I needed to wear a new groove in my brain, a groove that would allow the action of standing up to come from the back instead of the front.
So, after saying all that, I still haven’t gone back to barbell back squats, but plans are in the works my friends. I have been studying the technique and will be getting back into it soon enough. This is the video that I have found most helpful:
I think it’s fair to say that Fiscal 36 will be the Year of the Squat, Take 2.
I found my album online
All the way back in 2003 I recorded an album at home on my computer called Waiting to Happen. A few months ago, a friend from way back sent me a link from the archives at CHRW radio, the campus radio station at the University of Western Ontario, and lo and behold, my album has been online this whole time. I had no idea. I wrote all the songs and played all the parts, audio quality is so-so, but it’s good for a laugh. All these years later, it remains, still Waiting to Happen.
Fiscal 35 was a year spent realizing that there is never a good enough reason to try to convince anyone else of your own political views. A bit of light reading about the Backfire Effect should be enough to convince us of that. My own beliefs about the values of personal liberty are evidently not shared by most. Most people, it would seem, have the desire to control everyone else. Not directly, of course, but they want to be able to choose which elected official will be in charge of controlling everyone else. Me, I just want to be left alone.
Further research: the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP)
1. Get up earlier
It seems that the only possible way to get any writing done in a house with 3 kids is to get up at an ungodly hour. For the past 5 or 6 weeks I have been trying to get up at 5:30 everyday, just so I can get some work done. I plan on making this a staple of my daily routine in Fiscal 36.
2. Daily Practice
After more than a year of experimenting, I am still in search of a short daily practice, along the lines of exercise/gratitude/journalling/meditating/writing, etc. etc. Fiscal 36 will be the year that I finally crack this nut. As Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs”. Too true. See James Altucher for inspiration for a Daily Practice.
3. Drink less beer
I’m Irish. I like beer. I’m working on it. However, as old Abe said “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” Couldn’t agree more.
There you have it. Happy St. Paddy’s day, and, at least for me, the start of a new fiscal year. Slainte!
Climb High, Work Smart, Read More.
Continue Reading: Zen and the Art of Tree Climbing
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