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  • This year has been a particularly busy year for work. This is the second calendar of my start-up tech company, third year of programming the main product. I've had to compromise in a lot of parts of my life in order to push enough code out to keep the doors open -- very little leisure reading, almost no volunteer projects any more, no theatre/music/art projects, and virtually zero time for friends. (And, almost no time to write!)

    One thing I made sure to keep going though - keep up my own education in interests outside of my business' discipline. In order to facilitate that, I found a win-win scenario in listening to university course podcasts on topics I missed out in during my time in university. Podcasts are audio so I need not look at anything (give my eyes the rest they need), they're passive enough to engage with when either mentally or physically exhausted, and I can listen to them while on a walk -- allowing me to double up my need for some physical activity with my desire to learn some new subjects.

    I always had a diverse collection of course credits in university, but they were almost all in the humanities and social sciences, so I took this opportunity to more formally learn about astronomy, cosmology, evolution, and biology. In a year I've covered over 250 hours of lecture materials.

    Last year I took a photo of a Clematis, a very pretty flowering vine that grows next to our house. Yesterday, as I was looking through photos I had forgotten about on my iPhone, I came across a second photo of a Clematis. It had been taken this year, in May, and I had forgotten completely. After a couple dozen hours of plant biology lectures through this summer, I find I look at it in a completely different way than last year. It's not just a flower any more -- I know now the petals are really modified leaves, a result of millions of years of plant evolution. And, there are more colours to this flower that we cannot see -- colours into the ultraviolet spectrum that only certain insects would see.

    I may still be working very intense, long hours, but I know the cost of not seeing new perspectives on the world could be the same creativity that brought me into the business in the first place. And, I fear that creativity lost would result in a lot of "working hard", as opposed to "working smart". One should never be confused for the other.
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