Tag Archive | iPad

Sanity saver: Don’t have breakfast with your boss

Or, “How not to trash the day before it starts.”

I haven’t always hated mornings.

What he said.

In fact, I remember, back in the day, actually liking them: a nice cup of coffee or tea, listening to CBC Radio, a bit of reading (the newspaper or a book), and then into the shower and on with the day. As long as someone wasn’t getting in my face (e.g., the roommate who used to think 7 a.m. was a great time to have a lively discussion about household finances), I was good to go.

But in the last year or so, I’ve noticed that my love of mornings has moved down the list to slightly below my love of invasive rectal procedures.

Worse, for the very first time in my life, I was lying in bed in the mornings, dreading getting up, dreading the treadmill of “URGENT! ASAP! Do it now!” that awaited me.

And finally, one day last week, as I was yet again stomping from the shower to my closet to my desk and angrily flinging open my laptop to a chorus of juicy expletives, I stopped cold and realized, “Oh my god. I hate mornings so much.”

And that made me sad. It also concerned me greatly, for two reasons.

First, as an Aspie, I work very hard to keep the “Angry Meltdown Monster” at bay, and yet somehow it was now a major part of every morning. What a colossal waste of time, starting every day wanting to punch things. The less the negative aspects of Asperger’s creep into my life, the better.

Second, and related, chronic anger can lead to serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes. As I get older, I am realizing the urgency of keeping this response controlled if I don’t want to end up in the ER — or a hearse.

I vowed to get to the bottom of it, and it didn’t take long: the culprit was my iPad.

Guaranteed to give you an early-morning eye twitch.

Guaranteed to give you an early-morning eye twitch.

I bought it last Christmas as (ironically) a means of relaxing and releasing stress. To that end, I do enjoy many of the online games (quizzes and word games, in particular), and the little chat functions in some of them that help me feel connected to my chums. The news apps are good too, and cheaper than paper subscriptions.

But on the downside, the iPad has an email app, and that, for me, was the rub: even when I  opened the iPad over breakfast to read the news or play my turn at WordFeud, the little email icon would be lit up. “Look at me,” it would taunt. “Look at all the urgent, annoying things that await you!” And invariably, despite my best intentions, I would open the thing.

So in other words, before I had even taken my second sip of coffee, before the work day had even begun, I was inviting all of my project managers and bosses into my living room to clamour for my attention. I had become one of those people who are unable to unplug from work, ever.lumbergh - come in on Saturday

This growing phenomenon (and its attendant mental and physical woes) is largely thanks to the ubiquity of Blackberrys, iPhones, etc., which has led to increased expectations that workers be available 24/7. And of course the reverse is true, turning the whole thing into an infinite loop: having a Blackberry or iPhone or iPad means you actually ARE available 24/7, and if you are available, work will present itself. Managers will call or email or text, and you ignore these at your peril. And around and around it goes.

(Even in the days before “electronics creep,” however, there were people who simply couldn’t leave the office behind; my former father-in-law always had his briefcase open somewhere in the house and spent chunks of every weekend creating the impression that he was indispensable to somebody, somewhere.)

This is a mushrooming global phenomenon, and as such is way beyond the scope of this blog. But the short version is that, for the most part, we are doing this to ourselves. Europeans, for example, generally have a much better work/life balance (ironically, despite enjoying far better and cheaper internet connections and rates for their many e-toys).

Problem, meet solution.

Problem, meet solution.

Anyway, long story short, in a world where so many things are beyond our control, I realized that this, at least, was one tiny thing I actually could change. So two days ago, on Sunday evening, I made myself a new rule: “No opening the iPad before start of business. Period.”

I even put a little sticky note on its cover to remind myself, in case I’m on autopilot in the morning — “For a peaceful morning: Do not open until start of work!”

I turn the sound off (or turn the device off completely) and there it sits, until I’m darn good and ready to open it.

Instead, I eat my breakfast, sit peacefully with the cat and a cup of coffee, and read whatever book I’ve got on the go (right now it’s Hero: The Buzz Beurling Story, by Brian Nolan), listen to CBC Radio, and maybe write in my journal a bit.

The emails will still be waiting there, and all the problems and stresses they contain. But until the work-day has actually begun, they’re simply not my problem.

So far so good. I’ll keep you posted.









Zugzwang. (n) [TZOOG-tsvang] German for “compulsion to move.” A situation found usually in chess … where one player is put at a disadvantage because he has to make a move  … that will significantly weaken his position.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’m a fan of the TV show Criminal Minds. Good acting, excellent scripts and story lines, well-developed characters. Two of my favourites, Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia, appear to be Aspies, or some variant thereof, and that is also a huge draw for me.

In a recent episode, one of the characters used the term Zugzwang, and before you could say “…and now Dr Reid will explain that,” I had Googled it on my ever-present iPad.

"Zugzwang" is a term meaning... oh, never mind, you've got it.

“Zugzwang” is a term meaning… oh, never mind, you’ve got it.

(iPads, by the way, are an excellent way for Aspies to learn to follow plots. I have enormous trouble with this [difficulty seeing big picture] so I often record/PVR shows so that I can pause them and look up plot twists or obscure characters or terms. Aspie advice, there — you’re welcome.)

Anyway, this quickly led me down the Google rabbit-hole into the subject of chess, a game at which I am complete rubbish and always have been. (Again, a big-picture/Aspie problem, I think.) Paradoxically, my little brother, who had a learning disability, was (inexplicably) given a plastic chess set for his seventh birthday and turned out to be an absolute bloody genius at it. Time after time he beat me — supposedly the Poindexter Mega-Mind of the family — and quickly moved on to beating kids much older than himself. He was also really good at strategy games like Risk, and spent hours happily arranging little plastic men and tanks into complicated battles on his bedroom floor.

Over the years I have tried with no success at all to learn chess. I’ve read books on it, watched movies and documentaries about chess geniuses, and am still complete rubbish.

However, knowledge is power — even (or especially!) knowledge of the areas in which you’re complete rubbish — and during my Great Sudoku Addiction of 2010, I discovered to my delight that the game was helping me to learn strategy and “thinking several moves ahead.”

Friend or foe? Remains to be seen....

Friend or foe? Remains to be seen….

The recent Zugzwang episode, and the run of really lousy weather we’re having lately, which has led me to be more or less under house arrest, is all the impetus I need to tackle the game of chess once again.

I’ve downloaded an app, called simply Learn Chess, that leads newbies through the names and functions of the pieces, the basic tactics, and the terminology. Aside from failing miserably at the little demo on “boxing in the king,” I’m finding it intriguing.

With any luck, in a year or so I should be able to stroll into any local daycare centre and win a game against one of the kids there.

Stay tuned.


Just let me finish with this truck, and then I'll come and teach you how to get to Checkmate.

Just let me finish with this truck, and then I’ll come and teach you how to get to Checkmate.