A quick change

I wrote this missive on our company Instagram account, replete with the required photo:

January has been my least favorite month for as long as I can remember, and my view on winter in general has always been that it’s best experienced from the inside of a warm home or on a tropical beach.

Further restrictions by the CPHO this month has meant my plans to increase indoor fitness activities have been put on hold, and daily trips for coffee cancelled.

To keep healthy mentally and physically I plan on:

❄️ getting outside as much as I can bear – including running on trails,
❄️ reading more,
❄️ have an increased focus on sound nutrition,
❄️ and follow along with the excellent coaching from @782fitness for daily workouts

I might also spend a bit more time working than I should.

The goal is to continue pushing forward despite all the roadblocks put in our way.

Sometimes a change in perspective, attitude, or direction takes ages to occur. This time for me it took a short afternoon nap. When I woke I decided to stop letting external events affect me to the degree they had been, and treat them as simply another challenge to be overcome.


Study harder

“Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night—there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possession, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.”
EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES , 4.4.39

I told Sheryl the other day that I have been studying some of the wisdom of the stoics. Nothing serious, just some choice quotes and explanations.

This was at a time when after shovelling out all the walkways, so people could exit the building after the storm, (the people responsible never wake before noon, and take a couple days to get started) and shovelling and salting our parking spot clean, someone had the rudeness to take our parking spot. They came out later and moved the car without a hint of care.

This precipitated a boomer-like rant about selfish-individualism and the lack of empathy in people, laziness, and on and on.

We both agreed that perhaps more study was needed. My son simply stated that I needed to chill. He’s not wrong.


Emotions

I felt a range of emotions yesterday as I listened to the news reports announcing new restrictions on what we are allowed to do. I had arrived at another gym, which I just joined for the winter in an effort to not only keep mentally and physically healthy but prepare for some competitions in the summer and fall, while I am still able.

Like many I am tired, and like some I am angry. I have no more patience.

When this all started two years ago, it was perplexing as to how people refused to wear masks or wash their hands or follow common sense health guidance. When the vaccine came, it was mesmerizing how people had collective amnesia with regards to the litany of shots they already have HAD to receive. I realized that most don’t have our frame of reference, having lived through SARS and various other outbreaks in a society that respects health professionals and trusts government. These measures and more feel normal to us. We have improved.

Being a small place surrounded by water with restricted points of entry we seemed to do well. Round-abouts were built, hockey rinks announced, pay raises for government were approved, and most importantly few got sick. Like before, you still needed to wait 6 months to get an ingrown toe nail clipped, and years to see a paediatric specialist. Life was as it was but with the added regime of limiting your contacts or booking your time in a gym (travel was somewhat a no no).

I assumed that like health care professionals, and many others, surely the government has been working to exhaustion to prepare for an outbreak, right?

That assumption has proven to be patently false.

It’s not a question of money, it’s a question of priorities and competence. My son today cannot attend school, cannot train in the pool, and cannot go to his CrossFit gym. But he is free to add more shifts at his service job. He is safe while increasing the profits for corporate but not while preparing himself for the future? Not a good look.

I see no strategy or long term plan, only tactics. If there is one, it isn’t being communicated which is in itself another failure.

A crisis is a sure test of leadership for which this provinces leadership is failing. Now I turn this angst to something productive, the one thing we can do, work, at least until election time, when I hope to devote myself to making sure these people don’t continue to serve.


Getting more sleep

I don’t always sleep well and despite for years expending effort on other areas of my mental and physical health it has remained a problem.

Lately the problem has been compounded by frequent nightly visits to the toilet, which I find incredibly annoying but have come to accept as it’s largely out of my control. A recent blood test has shown no cause for concern. To help, I resist my night time love of fruit and limit my night time fluid intake.

I’ve tried intense exercise, relaxation techniques, stretching, listening to music, reading and other activities in an effort to improve my sleep, nothing has shown consistent results. What has been working is simply forcing myself to stay in bed longer, to not adhere to a set schedule. The kids are old enough to take care of themselves and I have the luxury of setting my own work schedule. This hasn’t meant sleeping in until noon unfortunately, that’s a talent I lost when I stopped being a teenager, but it has meant that when I wake up at 3 or 4am alert and ready to start my day, I force myself to lay there for an hour. Eventually I fall back to sleep until sometime between 6 – 7am, which is sleeping in for me.

We introduce visualization techniques to kids on one of our podcasts and I have found that useful as well. If during one of my frequent trips to the bathroom I find my mind focusing on thoughts of the upcoming day, I switch my thinking to a calm and relaxing place, an imaginary place for me. That place lately has been a small room full of books, with a fire place, and a comfortable leather chair.

It’s been working most nights.


Disabling Focus Mode Syncing

Apples Focus mode is useful if not overcomplicated feature which I use frequently. I find it useful when I am working to set do not disturb on my Mac so that I can respond to messages and notifications when I feel it’s appropriate. And at night so that annoying email messages are not coming through on my phone. Unfortunately, “Share Across Devices” located in Settings > Focus is enabled by default, which has meant numerous missed calls on my phone (our doorbell rings my phone so that I can speak to whoever is at the door, usually a courier).

To stop this syncing

Open the Settings app
Just above Screen Time, tap Focus
“Share Across Devices” — tap the toggle to turn it off


Spot on

I have been at the office subsisting on Maxwell house instant coffee of late so it was an absolute treat to enjoy a cup of pour over at The Shed this morning. Having a cup of coffee where you can not only smell but taste the overtones is a brilliant (re)start to the day. There are a number of places in town to have an ok tasting expresso but no place I have been dedicates itself solely to great tasting coffee. We are so lucky to have her.


Salty

My son read my Twitter posts recently and he and his girlfriend let me know that I seem salty all the time. This comes on the heals of being told that I seem too serious and don’t smile enough.

The Twitter that I am subject to is full of vitriol, virtue signalling, and an endless stream of all that is wrong with the world. With the exception of virtue signalling (many local companies/orgs. with social media chops pat themselves on the back endlessly), I thought I fit in.

I take their comments to heart and hope to share the brighter side of me, if I can find it. Except for here, where I will continue to crank.

Likely the best thing I can do for my mental health is simply delete all my social media – even Instagram, where I am flooded with videos of rich food and extremely fit people, a weird dichotomy which helps create unrealistic expectations.

I can’t delete Twitter entirely unfortunately, but like Facebook before, I’ll just stop showing up and be all the happier as a result.


Not a resolution

I’ve long felt that New Years resolutions were nonsense and more a way to make yourself feel bad about what you didn’t accomplish than setting achievable goals.

On New Years Day Sheryl shared what we did on that day four years ago. We ran a race together sponsored by ChaTime (the same chain in Charlottetown), then went to see a movie at Big City, followed by Cheesecake and Latté’s at Ink, our favorite café at that time.

5 years ago I ran the Xiamen Marathon and spent New Years Eve alone in a hotel bar.

I enjoy how Facebook, Apple photos and DayOne give us a chance to remember or relive the past. It’s a valuable feature for me but it’s becoming evident that we spend too much time reminiscing, and not enough time creating new memories. Granted there is much more to do in a place like Hsinchu than say Charlottetown, the Island is a sleepy place, not a bustling Asian city surrounded by mountains and beaches. We led a full life before returning home, and now with the exception of our first year here, our default seems to do more work, which includes my son, who has a part time job, is on the swim team, and is part of our CrossFit crew.

We don’t expend enough effort trying to find something to do together, no matter how simple the activity may be.

My daughter is starting to get it. Unlike other local youth her age she has no interest in bars and drinking, or house parties and such. On New Years Eve she said she was going to go out with friends for a drive to the beach and later sit and talk at the park. At the time I thought it rather odd, but later realized this is exactly the kind of activity that is possible here, the kind of activity that helps build new memorable experiences.

On the podcast Stay Tuned with Preet, Scott Galloway talked about how he takes the month of August off and travels with his family to Europe. Now, he’s rich, and I’m most certainly not, but Sheryl and I used to do the same. One year we spent the summer traveling Europe, many summers afterwards we would spend time on a Canoe Cove beach. Scott talks about how he will never regret taking time away from work to spend with his family – a common refrain from anyone with the ability to do so and a modicum of foresight.

I have little to report about the past year. This is in part due to COVID (and Canada’s lack of a coordinated response), but we really could have done more. Much more.

I’m not going to call this a resolution as that’s just framing for failure, but I will commit to spend more time in 2022 creating more memories with family and outside of work.


Negative

My focus with going to CrossFit has been to enjoy the benefits of functional fitness, keep the various hinges working, and to focus on the conditioning component vs. Olympic lifting (which I can’t often do anyway). As well, any intense physical activity has mental health benefits, which is increasingly important these days.

I seem to have been gifted with good heart and lungs, and excellent VO2 Max, which allows me to push myself during activities that don’t require me to move a lot of weight. Any activity involving sprinting and the BikeERG I seem to enjoy most. Endurance activities seem limited by my weak frame alone. This is not to say that I expect to be finishing the MOAB240 or even the PEI marathon, but this seems to be where I am at my best and receive the most joy.

Lately, the workouts have taken a turn to the difficult. My time is only slightly off but the effort to complete has increased exponentially. One night this week I was laying on the ground post workout in a fetal position, less something bad might happen. Last night I found it difficult to breathe.

Granted our diet since returning to Canada has taken a turn for the worse and I’ve gained close to 10kg as a result but this seemed like a sudden change. With cold like symptoms, more laboured breathing, and general malaise I thought perhaps my 5 minutes in an overcrowded box store might have given me the gift of COVID.

So I took a test and it came up negative.

Now the only blame I can place on my decreased performance is my enlarged belly and a lack of training.


How it went

I started my holiday not with sitting still but with cleaning the whole house, taking all the extra stuff’s laying around out to storage, installing some new pieces on the wall and generally doing things that kept me moving and busy. It’s excruciatingly difficult to not do something.

Eventually I calmed down a bit and Christmas Day was spent preparing for our afternoon dinner and watching bad movies and TV. The only close family we have left on the Island is my 90 year old uncle who came over for a socially distanced dinner. He left with enough food and sweets to get him through January.

Perhaps it’s reverse culture shock, but I’m still not convinced with the “be kind to yourself take a break” culture that seems to be so common on the Island. I do feel energized today, despite not sleeping well, and am looking forward to a full day of work tomorrow. To contradict myself, they might be on to something.

When I was in Asia I was big on resisting the prevailing attitudes on work. I wanted hobbies, time for outside activities, and time to think. It’s strange to me that once I arrived in Canada, a place where you can’t find people because they are on coffee break, I became what I often wasn’t before.

While I don’t expect I will start taking weekends off anytime soon, I do plan on taking time off like this more often.


The Future

In the Spring of this year I finally came to the realization that the work I was doing, though rewarding, was at best a side hustle and decided to make some changes. Ideas of what to do are easy, ideas always are, but I didn’t really trust my own intuition and decided to ask for help.

So I started a design research project of sorts. Which though odd, makes sense to me since I use design thinking in most areas of my life. In total I interviewed about 12 different people, some of whom knew me, but none of whom have ever worked with me. Most were employed in tech, design, or were entrepreneurs. These were “casual conversations with a purpose”, short, and very open ended. I had no script.

The results were a wall of data which I further distilled to 2 categories, each with 3 data points each.

So I knew how and what to do. But I didn’t take action because all of sudden we started to make money podcasting.

The funny thing about living in Canada is that more money is not always a positive. It has to be a lot more money.

In our first year we made next to nothing, but had almost zero expenses. In our 2nd year, we doubled our income but we added a huge increase in expenses which negated the increase. In our upcoming 3rd year we see a large increase in revenue but now any increases will be absorbed by taxes, depending on how, or if I take a salary.

Yesterday over coffee we looked at the business, our finances and talked more about our future. We lead a modest lifestyle with the majority of our money going to support our mental and physical health. The thought of living here long term, leading the lifestyle we wanted, was a risk, the economics of which no longer exist.

I don’t know other families in Stratford well enough to ask how they manage, but I do know that we make far above the median income and just break even. We can’t approach the same lifestyle we had in Taiwan, nor could we survive on my wife’s salary like we frequently did there.

So we have started planning for an alternative future, one that includes living elsewhere, but also includes me working for someone else, which I admit is attractive, and/or working multiple jobs.

The future is basically more, not less work.


A Christmas gift

I’m burned out and reached my limit. With the exception of my wedding anniversary I have not to my knowledge taken a day off since last Christmas.

There has always been a bit of darkness to my personality, lurking in the background of my form of introversion, and sometimes exhibited by moodiness, or by being overly pragmatic, or once at it’s worst, mild depression.

Lately, it’s been more akin to burnout, which is what I have been feeling for a number of weeks now. It shades my perspective of living here and life in general.

My lack of running due first to injury, than the near constant horrible weather (an excuse), has not helped. When I move and do something I feel good. When I don’t accomplish much I can feel the darkness encroaching on my mood.

The conditioning workouts at Crossfit help, but working myself to physical exhaustion, last night I felt like throwing up, doesn’t have the same lasting effect as before.

So for 4 days I am going to try and do nothing, except clean the house, read, and binge watch tv. That’s this years Christmas gift. The hope is that this will be a recharge of sorts and that it will enable me to continue doing good work in what is going be a very busy new year.


Post Christmas

Coming out of Superstore last night in my evening stupor of exhaustion I stopped and mentioned to Sheryl that they were actually playing Christmas music. My first taste of Christmas muzak. Looking around the outside of the store it would be hard to notice it was Christmas season.

Downtown Charlottetown looks great with each changing season. Christmas is no different with the streets lit up and store fronts decorated. But leaving the downtown area around the Confederation Centre one would be hard pressed to realize much of the usual Christmas excitement of years past.

I could of course be blind to it all now.

The bright lights and celebrations have been moved to the residential areas, where I guess they should be.

I do miss the ostentatious light displays, the rush to find gifts, the food and general excitement of years past. It’s ironic to me that some of the best displays of Christmas come from our times in countries that place no cultural value on the holiday at all.

Luckily this Christmas we will all have the day off, something that was not always possible in the past, and spend the day eating, and wearing out the couch. Less gifting, more time with family.


Foreboding

Looking at the water yesterday, while out for a run, I had the feeling that a major storm was on the way. The harbour was so calm and sky grey.

Running at my level is largely a mental exercise, so one of the tricks I have been playing on myself is to wear shorts and a minimum of clothes on top. That way, if you dare stop moving you freeze. Eventually though, after I warm up and my legs are numb I stop to take some pictures.

The undershirt I wear is by KALENJI. And at $15 it is likely the deal of the century. I have winter gear costing 7x that which is no where near as effective. It keeps you warm until -15 and wicks dry in a flash. This coupled with a windbreaker and you are good to go but for the coldest of days.


On this day

7 years ago today I reached what I thought was the pinnacle of my Chinese language ability as I fielded questions from students at a university in Fujian. Giving a lecture in Chinese is one thing, but the unpredictability of what comes out of students mouths another. I was encouraged to teach the design school undergrads by my then employer, perhaps in an effort to make the company seem more international, and thus slightly more attractive for new recruits. I was nervous as hell but prepared and generally thought it went well. But as was often the case in Taiwan and China, the dean at once thanked me, and thereafter chided me for speaking less than perfect Chinese. Thoughts and ideas are of less importance than your ability to convey them.


Why Vaccinate?

I don’t know why I had the question or remember what online news article might have triggered this procrastination, but I thought I would go in search of “Why should we vaccinate against COVID on the Island”. We are all vaccinated, for self-preserving reasons first and foremost, and I have as much an understanding of the science to make a reasonable decision as I need. But time and time again I hear or read people having muddled responses as to their reasoning, which though they are I assume vaccinated, would lead me to believe that many are not clear as to what vaccines are and do.

Surely the PEI Gov. website would have that answer? Not that I could find with any reasonable search. The best I could find was from the Immunize BC website which though a tad lengthy for most people today, was very clear.

Why vaccinate.

When nonfactual information keeps getting repeated over and over again it replaces truth. This isn’t a messaging problem or a PR problem, it’s a design failure in government to present facts in a way that remind people of their purpose, in such a way that is clear enough to be a signal though all the noise.


Ads

This is another big week for advertising on Sleep Tight Stories for which we are grateful, as without them we might not be able to continue doing what we do. At the same time I likely won’t sleep, as I fear our listeners will balk and bail, or there will be a tech fail. Our numbers are still just about the same from the last ad campaign but this I see as a sort of stress test for listener loyalty.


Colors

I’ve taken a new approach to running of late, partially a result of listening to a number of interviews of Courtney Dauwalter. She espouses a joyful enthusiasm towards getting outdoors and moving your body which has been lacking for me these last 8 months. No training plan just run as your body feels. Of course, what her body can do and mine are miles apart, 240 miles, as she has been the winner of the 240 mile MOAB race over all participants. Which is great evidence of what the mind is possible of doing.

She is also a refreshing change from the “dominate”, “crush”, “who’s carrying the boats son” testosterone addicted athletes I’ve been listening to for too long.

So I go out and run, look at my surroundings, take pictures, and don’t worry so much about pace. It’s been working very well and despite the increasing cold I’ve been enjoying running. I tried to do the same today, as it was the type of temperatures I’d love to see all winter, but alas my Achilles still doesn’t want to come along with the rest of me. This injury just does not want to go away.

My plans are, if I can heal my injury, to spend an increasing amount of time running on the trails culminating in some moderate distance trail race in the summer, ideally in Utah, COVID willing.


Mysteries

Living and now working under people gives you insight into strangers lives.

Our first year back in Charlottetown was a nightmare, as we lived under a neighbour we unaffectionately called “Stampy”. He and his family own a restaurant in the downtown and would look like model neighbours – always a smile. But surfaces can be deceiving and many nights were filled with parties and people falling down drunk. Not the neighbours I wanted at this stage in my life.

Now I work in an extremely quiet office below a publisher of a periodical, which my past experience tells me is primarily a sit down do work affair. The noisy days of setting type are over but for those who appreciate the craft.

And yet there are days when I hear people constantly walking on their heels, using what sounds like a cement mixer, shuffling drawers and dragging large objects across the floor (dead body?). It’s at times like working under the constant din of a hotel lobby.

I mostly have my headphones on and it’s not in the same league as Stampy but it often leaves me curious. Maybe one day I’ll just ask.


Coffee and Pineapple Cakes

Sheryl received an unexpected gift of coffee beans and pineapple cakes from Taiwan. Much appreciated and I feel lucky that she has such great friends. I’m anxious to try the coffee, not just because you can never have enough, but also to test the likely romanticized memory I have of the quality of beans in Taiwan. Pineapple cake is an odd pairing with coffee but I will give that a try too.


Still searching

I’m still looking for glasses for running and CrossFit that don’t cost $500 or more dollars. These come close in fit but still need some adjustment to overcome the sweaty slide. I think I’ve aged about 10 years since I returned home to the Island, which is the exact opposite effect I had hoped for.


A positive medical experience

The medical system on PEI has been a swirling cesspool of negativity of late with my own opinion being of the we are doomed when we get older type. I’ve been so concerned that I’ve starting questioning the logic of moving home, particularly as we enter the time when the machine that is our body starts to need concerted attention.

We don’t have a family doctor, and we have found it increasingly difficult to see a doctor at a walk-in-clinic. Often, the Water St. clinic will be full in less than a minute after registration opens. This week though, to my surprise I was able to book an appointment, which is in itself a cause for celebration. Upon arrival I was greeted with such positivity I had to ask the nurse what was going on. Why are you all so happy? She just chuckled and I forget what she saidw but I get the impression that these are people that enjoy doing what they do.

I’ve been experiencing some middle age malaise which has been interfering with my sleep at night – how I continue to function on so little sleep is a mystery, though yesterday was an exception and I went and bought groceries instead of doing what I had planned.

The doctor I saw at the clinic, was personable and gave me as much of her time as someone working in a clinic could afford. After our talk, she asked the nurse to take some blood in order to order some comprehensive tests and I was told to expect a 10 business day wait.

Well, yesterday after a scant 3 days the doctor called me to tell me that everything was better than perfect, made some George Burns references, and was again generally a beacon of positivity. The medical system in this case over delivered, what a joy.

I’ve had the (mis)fortune of interacting with medical professionals all over the world, and I can say I prefer those on the Island to most others I have interacted with. I just hope we can give them the pay and environment they deserve, and us the access we need.


Advertising

Reason #100 why I can’t lead a business.

October, November and December are big months for podcast advertising and we have been fortunate to have a number of baked in ads, feed drops, and our first campaign across all our audio inventory. We upgraded our hosting to Libsyn’s expensive enterprise plan specifically to take advantage of their digital ad insertion software which we need to be able to serve ads for larger campaigns.

We’ve been advertising our own products fairly consistently for almost a year but host read ads have been sporadic and not enough of a revenue generator to start paying a salary. Our call to actions for our listeners have been slow and strategic – we wanted to make sure that this model worked for them and we wouldn’t have a mass exodus. Until now we have had no push back from them.

The new campaign ads are different. Though the script was carefully crafted, and produced to be as relaxing as our stories, the pre roll is there to listen to before each and every story. The only escape is to press the forward button.

The email and messages have already started protesting the changes. Which bothers me and has me considering whether or not this is the correct approach for us. It feels like there is nothing worse than disappointing your listeners, especially when they are children. Yet, this campaign accounts for almost a 1/3rd of our yearly income and without 2-3 of these a year podcasting as a stand alone activity will be not be viable. We’ve had the longest runway imaginable and it’s now time to see if we can continue.

I dislike this focus on money and how it interferes with making nice things.


Inevitable death of Indie [insert activity]

Everyday I do much the same thing. I get up grab my phone to make sure there are no dumpster fires, drink coffee, prepare food for myself and others and read much the same news sources that I have been reading for 15 years or more. I used to run, and I sometimes go to CrossFit early, but these days I prefer to use this early morning caffeination for work.

On my 3rd cup I check stats and reports. I shouldn’t but I am competitive and want to see how our podcasts are doing (growth is flat btw). Lately, competition has been increasing, not from other Indie publishers but from large companies with huge marketing budgets. Companies who can afford to spend their way out of the discovery problem and later (maybe) recoup their costs by selling advertisers on their reach.

It’s sometimes disheartening. I’ve gotten past the times when the CBC would launch a show that competes indirectly with us, CBC has a sound that not everyone can identify with, and all our shows have more listeners than their’s 😊.

But it’s harder when a slew of private enterprises, with large investments, come in and flood the space with highly polished shows that feed off the category that small more personal creators have grown.

Indie creators are not competitors, they are colleagues. Many sound better, are more engaging, or have a voice that more people connect with. I learn from them.

Perhaps the larger organizations elevate the art. Give us goal posts. Jack Conte’s views aside, I do wonder if the same thing won’t happen to podcasting, that happened with so many other indie publishing movements of the past. Do many make money blogging anymore?


Children’s stories

I’ve been writing children’s stories. I don’t write well, but I feel it’s important to be a beginner, to put myself in a position for failure and growth. And it’s fun.

My available time is short, so I time box aggressively, and sit down and see what I can produce in, after all the inevitable procrastinating, what amounts to a few hours in an afternoon.

One of the advantages of having a couple stories podcasts is that I have a built in audience, an audience who will be very honest and forthright with their criticism or praise. An audience that shapes the themes I will write about – stories with girls in leading roles, with modern family arrangements, and different identities. For now I write for them.

The first couple take place on Prince Street here in Charlottetown where I grew up. One about a dog, and her gang who aren’t so welcoming to a different looking dog from away. The other is about a girl transferring to a local school, perhaps Prince Street, from far away (Mars) because her mother found a job here.

I hope to keep writing until I get to the point where I can sit down with someone and have them show me all the things I could be doing better. Then find an editor. Then perhaps put words to print.


The Problem With Subscriptions

The problem with subscriptions is often people, myself included, sign-up with the best intentions, but end up not using the service as much as intended, or at all. A few will signup and immediately forget that they subscribed. And as time goes by those charges continue to accrue.

The value of having monthly recurring revenue for a small business is pretty clear; keep your customers happy, the churn rate low, and have revenues you can count on. Our subscription service pays all our costs, while advertising and any other work I can pull in goes to my family. It’s a tidy arrangement for a mind absent of financial acumen like mine. Ideally, revenue would be large enough that I don’t have to rely on advertising and other things, but for now this is the model we have.

When you are small you can’t afford much automatization. You deal with people directly, including those who are angry that they forgot they subscribed to your service, and direct their angst towards you. Which is a drag and requires time out of my day to manage.

Sheryl often tells me to remember to smile, which I seldom do, so when in these situations, I smile, think of a sunny day and deal with it as positively as I can.


Old world

This showed up on my Facebook feed today. Why Apple photos cannot surface old photos with the same panache as FB and Day One is a mystery – it also can’t search.

The first picture was the office I worked out of in China, which came with all the trappings – olympic swimming pool, restaurants, proper running track, boxing ring, gym and on and on and on. Of course it also came with an office with astro turf, because having meetings while lying on fake grass was supposed to produce better results(?). When you are a billionaire CEO you can accumulate things.

The 2nd picture is the door to my current office.

It might look like I’ve fallen from the future to land on a set from West World, and in some ways Charlottetown is very old world, but despite my constant complaints about things, there is a calmness to this place not apparent elsewhere. Though I work more now than I ever did in China, it feels much better to be home.

I do miss the running track.


Birthday messages

In a recent conference call with the CEO of Supercast and his marketing team we briefly discussed our recent uptick in subscriptions and low churn rate. This was part of a broader discussion which I should find time to write about later this coming week.

It’s really difficult to know why people subscribe when they do without explicitly asking them. Podcasting is entirely opaque with very little data unless you take concrete steps to invade peoples privacy, which we don’t.

We ran our first promotion, which might lead you to believe that people are price sensitive, and our pricing is too high. Our ads were more engaging. It could be the time of year when parents invest in things for their children. Or it could be, like one parent said, they finally caved in to their children’s many requests.

There is one other possibility. We wish kids happy birthday on the show and there seems to be an extreme number of October babies. So many, that we may need to produce a show to just keep up with the demand.

The long cold nights of January and February might be a boon to indie children podcasts. We’ll be sure to run a promotion next September and compare the results.


Early mobile photography

I still appreciate and miss the results that early phone cameras produced. These may have been captured with an early Sony Ericsson, likely the T610. I loved those phones and remembered fondly helping an early startup develop ringtones, wallpapers and characters to match the devices they were selling to at the time.