October’s Randomized Photo Challenge Wrap-up

The point of October’s life challenge was to take a critical look at my life outside of work.  Originally I had planned on taking pictures every hour throughout the day but I quickly realized that taking pictures at my work is actually illegal.  So in an attempt to avoid imprisonment or a large fine, I decided to look at my life after work and on the weekends.  Plus, work pictures would be pretty boring anyway; laptop, laptop, laptop, bathroom, laptop, etc.

I took a total of 336 pictures throughout October where each day landed somewhere between 8 and 15 pictures depending on whether or not it was a weekday or weekend and whether nor not I went to bed early, took a nap, or completely missed an alarm to take a picture.  For the randomized portion, I spent a good deal of September looking around for Android app developers or friends who were up to the challenge.  Unable to find anything in time I was able to find an app on the Android Market for diabetic patients who were looking to randomize their insulin shots.  Perfect!  Thank god for smartphone savvy diabetics.  The app worked exactly as I wanted; it would randomly alarm a set number of times between two time points (5pm and 11pm on weeknights and then from when I woke up to when I went to sleep on weekends).

After finishing on the 31st, I broke these pictures out into various themes that seemed important and calculated percentages; inside/outside, in my apartment, in Sarah’s apartment, with friends, with Sarah, in transit, physically/intellectually stimulating, and on my laptop.  I rarely watch t.v. (I admit that this probably makes me a bad Boston sports fan) so I didn’t feel like pictures in front of the t.v. was a relevant metric.  Here’s the break-down:

*Many of the photos fell under several categories at once so of course the sum of this list won’t add up to 100%.  Also, you would think that inside + outside should add up to 100% but I didn’t count transit (car/bus/train) or walking through buildings as being “inside”, I counted inside as really hanging out and spending time inside of a building.

Activity # of Pictures % of Total Pictures
Inside 148 44%
With Friends 109 32%
Outside 98 29%
Physically Stimulating 80 24%
With Sarah 76 23%
In Transit 72 21%
In My Apartment 61 18%
On My Laptop 40 12%
In Sarah’s Apartment 39 12%
Intellectually Stimulating 35 10%

These findings were actually quite interesting.  I knew that I rarely spent any time hanging out in my apartment but this analysis showed that less than 1/5th of my pictures took place inside of my apartment.  I generally go home to sleep and not much else so I’m not surprised, I just didn’t think it was as low as 18%.  Also it was interesting to see that my pictures in transit (on the train, bus, car, etc) outnumbered the pictures in my apartment by 3%.  I’m constantly going to and from places, which is great because it gives me a chance to read, people-watch, and it generally means I’m going to do something fun besides sit around at my apartment watching YouTube and drinking beers.

The winning category was inside pictures coming in at 44% of my pictures.  This might be a bit skewed due to the fact this month was rainy as hell and that I spent a few days home sick from work.  Either way it was reasonably close to how much time I spent outside, 29%.  I was glad to see that roughly 1/3rd of my pictures were taken outside.  This is mostly due to trying to finish my 48 peaks this month.  Outside pictures wouldn’t have been drastically less than 1/3rd of my total pictures but trying to complete this goal definitely helped keep my outside life thriving.

Another important metric was to see how much time I was spending with Sarah vs my friends.  That’s something I’ve always noticed with my friends who are in relationships, they tend to disappear off the face of the earth when they start dating someone.  I’m lucky that my friends and my girlfriend intersect pretty well and that I have a girlfriend who is down to adventure all the time.  So I don’t really have to make that choice between do I hang out with my girlfriend, or do I go out and have fun adventuring?  They generally coincide. I found that 23% of my pictures were with Sarah and 32% of my pictures were taken with friends.  This 32% would be drastically lower if I lived in a studio apartment.  Having friends as roommates is awesome, I’m not sure what I would do with myself if I lived alone.

Lastly, to wrap up, I spent about 1/4th of my pictures doing something physically active.  This has always been important in my life so I’m glad to see this experiment reinforcing that.  I spent about half that amount of time on my laptop (12%) mostly due to this blog.  Without the blog that probably would have dropped by half or more.  10% of my pictures involved me doing something intellectually stimulating.  In most instances this was reading while in transit, I didn’t count working on my blog as intellectually stimulating but one could definitely make a case for it.  Then there were 12% of my pictures where I was at Sarah’s apartment hanging out.  I spend a decent amount of time over there but I spend significantly more time at my own place, being outside, being physically active, being with friends, etc.

So from this analysis I think it’s pretty safe to say I have a fairly balanced lifestyle with an emphasis on fitness, being outdoors, and spending time with friends, often all of these coincide.

Here are a handful of my favorite photos of the month:

A pretty crucial group of people cruising in the hot tub after the Devil's Chase 10k. You guys are champions!

Sarah and I at the MassChallenge afterparty, what a blast, entrepreneurs are the best!

Rocking the Halloween costumes before hitting the town with our sweet (but totally lame) dance moves.

Finally finishing Sarah's guitar was an awesome feeling.  It came out so good.  Mega thanks to M.C. for being such a magician with the woodstain artistry.

Finally finishing Sarah's guitar was an awesome feeling. It came out so good. Mega-thanks to M.C. for being such a magician with the woodstain artistry. The painting is of the Mokulua Islands in Hawaii in case you're interested.

Rocking my 47th summit, Mt. Isolation with Keith and Amy. Great view of the Presidential Range in the background.

Sarah and I spent several hours in a hammock 8 miles into the woods by a river and completely alone. I'm not sure it gets much better.

October 22nd 2011 - Sarah and I on top of Mt. Carrigain, my 48th summit, with a Woodstock Inn growler and a boloco burrito in-hand. Thanks also to Scuba and Dan for being part of it even though the roads were washed out and we hit some gnarly freezing rain up at the summit. Supposedly there's a great view haha, not today. I'll have to come back soon.

Monday October 31st – Last Day of the Randomized 5-9 Photo Blog

Today marks the 31st day of my randomized 5-9 photo blog.  I’ve taken on average 10 pictures every night after work until I go to sleep.  On the weekends I’ve taken on average one picture per hour.  There’s a few instances where I either messed up or missed an alarm but oh well, I won’t get too bent out of shape about it.  I think the random aspect of my photos was important because it gave me an unbiased sample size of 336 pictures.  I feel that it was a more accurate representation of my daily life as opposed to taking one or two photos per day at a time specified by me (i.e. in a cool place doing something fun, not exactly realistic if I’m trying to look at my natural life).  I’m currently wrapping up my excel spreadsheet where I’m placing each of the 336 pictures into their own categories based on what I’m doing, where I’m doing it, and who I’m doing it with.  Basically I want to look at my lifestyle and my after work/weekend experience, i.e. my 5-9.  The results from this categorization will be the next blog post after these final pictures.  But here’s my last set of pictures for this month’s challenge:

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I started reading this book this morning and I'm already about 1/4 the way through the book. Pretty interesting stuff, we'll see how much of it will apply to what I'm going to do in November.

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For some reason I have a craving for Dunkin Donuts Mint Hot Chocolate and getting rid of all my belongings, I can't imagine why.

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I stopped by the Occupy Boston encampment on the way home from work to check out the scene and talk to some of the people staying there. It was an interesting experience; a mix of anarchists, college students, people who work downtown, and 9-11 inside job people.

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I overheard someone talking about fabric adhesive and how it was super strong (for winterizing their tents I believe). Conveniently I've been looking for something like that for a project I'm working on. So I talked to the lady for a bit and then took a picture of the bottle so I could remember to pick some up later on.

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I was a bit turned off by all the "9-11 was an inside job" signs. I guess that's what happens when you have a grass roots movement, you get all of the people who are trying to serve their own anarchist agendas lumped in with the initial cause itself; corporate greed, especially greed that capitalizes at the walfare of the 99%.

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I walked home from South Station and snapped a picture along the way, it's not the greatest quality photo but it's par for the course compared to the rest of the pictures I've taken this month.

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Trying to wrap up some of this month's blog stuff at home.

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More blog stuff. I'm also exhausted at this point, I still haven't caught up on the sleep I neglected over the weekend.

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Blogging and football. I wasn't really watching the game but anytime something awesome happened I caught the replay.

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Watching some videos from the "Monday Morning Wakeup Call" online. This video is embedded below because I think it's incredible. I might as well wrap up my month's blog with a sweet YouTube video.

In the next day or two I’ll post my findings from my experience over this past month.  I’m looking forward to seeing what a little bit of analysis will tell me about my habits and how I choose to spend my time.  In any event, my 100 Item Life Challenge starts today.  I’ll be working on another excel spreadsheet to take an inventory of everything I own and start the process of purging all of the things in my life that I don’t need and don’t use.  Hopefully it’ll help bring some clarity into what is really important to my life.  I think the photo challenge will be a great lead-in to the 100 Item Life Challenge because if I only spend a small percentage of my time at my apartment, but most of the things I own never leave my apartment, then do I really need them at all?  This is the type of thinking I’ll be using moving forward.  Wish me luck.

Sunday October 30th – Another Guitar Project and Other Assorted Errands

With the help of my buddy Tony I managed to close out one of my guitar building projects.  I built an electric guitar last year but I put a pretty mediocre bridge on it.  So sometime last year I bought a really nice one on Craigslist but I’ve been extremely slow at actually replacing it.  TODAY I was finally able to get my act together and install the new bridge (a Gotoh-Wilkinson Tremolo if you’re interested).  Then I made a trip to REI, the Verizon store, Sarah’s place, and finally back to my own place to crash after a weekend well-adventured.

Eating breakfast whilst gazing at the wolf poster I got for my birthday, my brother picked it up for me at the free section at the local dump. Thanks dude, it now hangs proudly in my living room.

Tony waking up with a cup of coffee. I'd say his cup fits his personality pretty well.

Tony helped me install the new bridge for my electric guitar. I've had this project on the back-burner for months when it only takes about 1/2 hour to do. I suppose I was nervous about drilling into my baby and messing things up.

Here is the bridge fully installed. I still have to fix the action of the strings before it is playable, but damn it does look good.

I headed to REI with one of my roommates to buy a 2nd bike rack as we now have more bikes than people in the apartment (5 bikes for 3 people). Time to maximize vertical storage because things are getting out of hand. They didn't have the bike rack we wanted so we ordered it right from the store. Fun Fact: If you go to an REI and order an item from there, the shipping to the store is free for any item and the shipping is free to your house/apt if the item is >$50. Sweet deal.

At the Fenway T-stop waiting for the train back into town.

My android phone has been on the fritz since its last update, not allowing me to make phone calls or send/receive text messages. So the Verizon store installed a patch to fix it. Thanks guys!

A picture of the Boston Common as I head into the T Station.

Stopping by EMS in Harvard Square to get a new squishy camping bowl because I lent my bowl out to someone and they lost it, bummer but they're paying me back for it.

Blowing my nose alongside Sarah. We're both pretty sick but she's definitely got it worse. The only difference between us is that she'll sleep for 20 hours and be better and I'll sleep for 6.5 hours and still be sick. For whatever reason I just can't sleep when the sun is up. I blame it on 3 years of ice hockey practice every day before school.

THERE IS SNOW ON THAT CAR AND IT'S NOT EVEN HALLOWEEN YET?!?! (this is me being excited not offended).

Hanging out at Mike's grabbing a few slices of pizza on my way back into Boston for the night.

Doing some blog shiznit at home before I pass out for the night. I'm super tired and pretty sick so getting to bed before 10:30 was really nice.

It’s kind of bizarre to think that this is the 2nd to last day of this month’s challenge.  I’m excited to wrap it up tomorrow and analyze my non-work lifestyle.  I feel like it was a pretty accurate representation of my daily life; a good mix of outdoorsy stuff, physical fitness, taking public transit, and hanging out with friends on a daily basis.  Tomorrow night should be relatively uneventful because I’ll be trying to wrap up my blog posts for the month and also trying to get things cranking on my next month’s challenge; The 100 Item Challenge.

Saturday October 29th – The Devil’s Chase 10K, a Halloween Nor’easter, and Hypothermia

Today was epic.  Despite staying out on the town until 12:30am, my friends and I managed to pull ourselves together enough to get to Salem, MA for a costume 10k.  The name of the race was the Devil’s Chase so everyone dressed up as devils, except for us of course.  Also only 3/7 of us actually paid for the race, the rest bandited it.  After the race we had a hot tub session, ate the most delicious roast beef sandwiches in the world, took a few hours off to recover, then made it to BC for a hockey game, got slightly hypothermic from the freezing rain, and rounded out the night with making new friends at yet another Halloween party.

I had a funny feeling when we were driving home from Salem and I finally figured out that it was because it felt like a Sunday.  The idea of driving down I-93 in the afternoon reminded me exactly of every Sunday for the past 2 months of driving back from NH.  I was thoroughly excited when I realized that it was indeed NOT Sunday and that I had a whole extra day to my weekend.  Hiking is great but I must admit that it was nice to just hang around the Boston area and not venture too far up north.

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Rise and shine at 5:30am. Had to take the T to where my roommate's car was parked and then we had to go pick up our friends. The race was at 8:00am, ugh. I've never had my soul ripped out of me before, but waking up at 5:30am today I'm sure was pretty close to what that would feel like.

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In the train station before 6:00am on a Saturday. I wasn't surprised that we literally didn't see one other person.

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In Salem all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed getting geared up for the race. It was below freezing when we woke up today and it didn't get much warmer.

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A shot of the starting line. I've never seen so many devil costumes in my life but I guess that's expected at the "Devil's Chase".

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I apparently missed the memo that you had to wear a devil's costume. This is me cheering people on after I finished the race. We ran it much faster than we initially wanted to but it's hard to suppress the competitive side sometimes.

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Everyone having a good time in the hot tub after the race. A good soak in hot water with good people = the best thing ever. You guys are (good looking) champions!

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Hydrating and telling stories in the kitchen of our friend's parents house which we hijacked for a few hours in order to warmup.

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I've never seen such a crazy amount of Halloween decorations in my life, I wish this picture could do it justice but it's missing the graveyard, blowup monsters, and woods filled with witches and vampires. Breathtaking, or something, either way we had to stop and take photos.

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Playing some guitar. I decided to take a picture of a major flaw in the wood used to build this guitar that only came out when it was stained darker. You can see the discoloration where the stain was taken up real dark. The wood in these areas are more porous so they stain darker, that's why the original guitar was stained with light stain so it wouldn't be noticeable. But I suppose that's the difference between a guitar that costs a few hundred dollars new and then a new $1000 guitar. Still sounds fantastic though.

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COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE. Grabbing some caffeine at the best coffee shop on the planet, True Grounds in Somerville. This coffee is like if rocket fuel met ballroom dancing; it's elegant and tasteful but it brings you up to warp speed pretty quickly..

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Doing some blog shenanigans. A largely uninteresting photo but it is what it is.

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This is what two weeks worth of receipts looks like in my wallet. Maybe it's just me but I find it crazy that I get receipts for things like a coffee, i.e. something I can't return and/or don't need proof of purchase for. Clothing or outdoor gear, sure, because you might want to return it but in the age of information (2011) we shouldn't be producing this much paper for simple things that technology can take care of.

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At Park Street heading out to a BC/UMass Lowell hockey game at BC. It took me forever to get here because the red line is shut down due to elevator work. So you have to take shuttle buses. They take longer but I suppose you still get from Point A to Point B without having to walk or drive yourself.

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On the BC shuttle bus heading to the rink from the Reservoir stop. Much faster than taking the B line all the effing way out to BC. Shaves off 20-30 minutes doing it this way.

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Back on the BC shuttle bus after the game. I didn't notice my alarm going off while the game was in progress so I missed out on a photo of the game. Summary: BC crushed Lowell like they were a bunch of tiny baby school children.

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At Roggie's after the game enjoying some pizza and some not-so-good apple pie beer (apple cider + winter warmer = gross).

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Hanging out at a friend's house sheltered from the freezing rain and the slight bought of hypothermia we got as a result. We were greeted at the door with warm (and spiked) apple cider, that's almost the same as wearing a jacket right?

Today was great but by the time it hit midnight I was EXHAUSTED.  So I left our friends house earlier than everyone else because I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open.  It was either fall asleep at the party and look like an idiot or go home early and look like an idiot.  I chose the latter idiocy and I think it worked out pretty well in my favor.  I have nothing planned for Sunday besides some foolish errands so I’m excited to hang out for a day without any particular agenda.