As credos go, it may be the most important...


There are reasons we needed to move seven cubic yards of gravel through 175 yards of forest to a meadow (that’s 160 meters for those of you who prefer the metric system). And because of this task, a number of facts got researched on the Internet —

  • Seven cubic yards of gravel will weigh between 16,800 – 20,300 pounds (6,616 – 9,205 kilograms)

  • You can use either a two cubic foot wheelbarrow or a three cubic foot wheelbarrow for this kind of work.

  • There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard

  • On average a cubic foot of gravel weighs 330 pounds (or about 150 kilograms)

  • Approximately six shovelfuls (heaping) make up a cubic foot

  • There are somewhere between 9 and 14 wheel barrow trips per cubic yard (depending on the size of the wheel barrow and how much gravel you put in it)

  • The maximum sweat rate for a trained athlete is about 2-3 litres/hour; this results in a 2-3% decrease in body weight (I’m not an trained athlete and definitely a “sweater”, so let’s say it’s more for me)

The pile was something we had been working on over the past couple of weekends and my goal was to move what was remaining so we could get onto other things — I affectionately call it Egyptian slave labour because it involves moving stone from one place to another without dying on the way.

With food and water to power my way, one pile got smaller while another got bigger — and as the day progressed, my sweat soaked shirt started to weigh on me and I needed to set the wheelbarrow down more regularly between piles. As I dumped the last load I said to no one, “I’m done”; I wasn’t making a statement but rather a realization that there was no more I could do.

I wasn’t finished moving the pile of gravel and I wasn’t quitting — I was just spent, and could do no more.  

When I came back to the small pile I tried to motivate myself to finish it off — there really wasn’t much left but I couldn’t; I had done my best and after giving it my all, I fell short. What else can you can ask when you have done your best and there was no more to give? (As an aside, is it me or does life seem like one big meme.)

I should also point out that all of this was accomplished while staying true to the Egyptian slave labourer credo, “Do it without dying on the way”. Because after all, there is always tomorrow and you’re still alive to make it happen.


I am only one...

I am only one, but I am one. I can not do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

- Edward Everett Hale


I hadn’t heard of Edward Everett Hale before, but experience has shown me the Internet is excellent for dealing with this sorta thing. Wikipedia tells me Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 – June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and Unitarian minister, best known for his writings such as "The Man Without a Country", published in Atlantic Monthly, in support of the Union during the Civil War. He was the grand-nephew of Nathan Hale, the American spy during the Revolutionary War.

Now that I have Edward’s identity sorted out I can concentrate on what he supposedly said. I say “supposedly” because I’m fully aware I got the quote from the internet, and sadly, there has to be a small leap of faith in doing so. When I first read the quote I was absolutely certain it was the product of the me generation and humbled by the assumption those who came before us were not quite as smart as we are today (I mean electricity was a novel thing back then). Good thing we have the Internet — it’s a vast achievement that reminds us constantly we do not know all that much, and sadly, we’ve forgotten more than we dare to admit.

The exploration of the human condition has been an endeavour over the millennium so we probably shouldn’t assume Edward Everatt Hale was the first to put pen to paper regarding individuality and its innate power — although he does have a meme so he has that going for him. And because of it, I couldn’t help but put some thought into it.

I am only one, but I am one — a reminder that you are the fundamental building blocks for everything done as a species (or not done), and because of it, you have the potential to do something important.

I can not do everything, but I can do something — an acknowledgement and recognition that you have skills, abilities, and character, and you can achieve something. Alas, it’s also a reminder the universe is rather large, so you can’t everything or do not have the ability. However, there is no excuse in simply doing nothing.

And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can doa reminder to focus on what you have and what you can do, and not be distracted by lamenting or striving for what you can’t. Achievement will never be found if don’t focus on your strengths and abilities.

How does that song go again? Oh yes, “Two outta three ain’t bad”.

I am only one, but I am one — check. Can not do everything, but I can do something — check. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do — wait, what about identifying your weaknesses and developing a plan to improve? Oversimplifying, as I am apt to do, there seems to two philosophical camps; find your strengths and rally all your energy around them, or identify your weaknesses, develop them into strengths, and strive for balance (I belong in this camp). “Find what you are really good at and then go all in to make the most of it” — it’s pithy and I do like the ring of it. Maybe my approach has been wrong all these years, although arguable I haven’t done so bad.

I’m probably going to have to consult with the Internet again but in the mean time this is where I’ve landing —

I am, and that is important. I have talents to do something, and I will. I have been given a lifetime to figure out how to get it done, although it’s not as long as you think.


What do you do when you can't stop it?

I listened to a very informative talk last night by John Englander. I stumbled onto the video as I was checking out the news on YouTube — it’s one of my sources for current events I have to admit. The talk was important, sobering and depending where you live, down right horrifying.


The title of his talk was Sea Level Rise Can No Longer Be Stopped. What Next?

Dr Englander was engaging, informative, and although the topic is linked to the changes in our environment, kept his message on the simple fact that the Sea Level is rising. It is the result of glacier melt off, and when it’s all said and done will rise over 210 feet (give or take) — he emphatically stressed this can’t be stopped for many reasons, including the simple fact it’s one of the things Mother Earth does every so often. He did stress this would happen on a geological time scale so we still had decades to prepare, adapt, or make some important decisions — although not a real silver lining, it did offer some breathing room as far as dealing with it.

At this point I should mention I’m not positioning to offer any commentary on climate change but rather provoke some conversation about dealing with something that is inevitable, can’t be avoided, ducked, or side stepped.

Simply put, what do you do when there’s no choice but to deal with it?

Simply answered, there are two options when this happens: 1) do nothing, surrender, and let the chips fall where they may or 2) do something, and manage out to the best possible outcome (all things considered). It should be pointed out that doing nothing is easy, where doing something is a little more action oriented, and may involve a number of considerations —

  • Recognize what can’t be stopped and accept it

  • Understand the situation and its consequences

  • Establish the best and worst scenarios

  • Develop plans for the best possible outcome

  • Move forward and do not lament the past

  • Muscle it out, dig deep, and work through it

  • Try not to do it alone

  • Don’t quit, because if you do you have surrendered to the worst case scenario

Both of these options are entirely acceptable — doing nothing is recognizing you have given up to the situation and will accept the outcome whereas doing something means you are going to work to make the best of a bad situation. The operative word in this is best because if you aren’t going to do something to the best of your ability I suppose we should have a completely different conversation and you probably should just do nothing — it will save on all the excuses and complaining.

As an aside, if you live on the coast you may want to consider doing something.