Thoughts & Musings

It's almost 2018. Three simple principles for a year of fulfillment.

It's almost 2018. Three simple principles for a year of fulfillment.

We're constantly bombarded with ideas on how to live a better life. 

"Guide to financial success"

"10 things you need to avoid in your 20's"

"Top 3 billionaire habits"

Do these sound like familiar posts you stumble upon every couple weeks? Do you often get conflicting advice on finances, relationships, fitness and personal happiness from your friends, family and co-workers?

Here are just a couple of guidelines that could help you gain peace of mind in 2018.

I tried minimalist challenge for 30 days. Here’s what happened.

I tried minimalist challenge for 30 days. Here’s what happened.

Putting myself through a deliberate minimalism challenge encouraged me to be intentional about my belongings. Intentional about my life. Decluttering raised a lot of questions, not only about things and what those things do for me - but about life and what’s important in life. I have a long way to go to being truly minimalist, but it feels great to be on the path there. Minimalism is a journey, not a destination

Want a more productive day? Wake up before 5 AM.

Want a more productive day? Wake up before 5 AM.

You go to bed at 1 AM, your alarm goes off at 6 AM in hopes of getting you to that 7 AM yoga class. You snooze, over and over again. Finally, realizing you'll be late for your first meeting at work, you drag yourself out of bed at 7:45, and rush to the door skipping breakfast. 

You barely make it to work on time, you're hungry, and you didn't have time to catch up on your emails before getting into your day.

We've all been there. When we wake up "just in time", productivity is generally shot for the day. 

For the past month, I have been challenging myself to get up before 5 AM, on a consistent basis. I live about 50 minutes outside of Boston, and one of my favorite Yoga studios that actually offers a morning class is in Cambridge. In order for me to make that 6 AM class, I have to leave my house around 5 AM. 

New Years Resolutions? Try something better.

New Years Resolutions? Try something better.

New Years Resolutions. Awesome in concept, terrible in practice.

Working out 6 days a week.
Drinking 8 glasses of water every day.
Taking a 15 minute walk at work every day.
Saying good morning to your co-workers.
Using recipes to cook awesome meals every night of the week.
Making your bed every morning.

Whatever yours might have been - I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you have already failed at least some of them in these first 7 days of 2016. If you haven’t, my apologies, and congratulations - you’re a superhuman.

Design Spotlight: Grand Canyon Wine Company

Packaging matters. I'm a strong believer of that. Generally, no matter how good the actual product is, it won't be a prodigy unless it's packaged well. That holds true for beverages as much as it does with electronics, clothing and resort websites. 

A few weeks back, my girlfriend and I were traveling through Arizona, and we popped into a roadside gas station to fill up. We didn't have any intent of buying anything other than gas there, let alone buying wine. But as soon as we noticed this really cool bottle amongst the selection of beverages, both of us got the instant urge to bring some of that red wine home. 

A Word on Climbing and Yoga

A Word on Climbing and Yoga

I have always been averse to trying new things. New things are scary, intimidating, and take effort to perfect. Despite my typical unwillingness to try something new, last year I decided to pick up rock climbing.

My first experience was at a small climbing wall at a fitness center. I was attached to an auto-belay (scariest first experience ever, I do not advise it) and attempted to scale up the 50 foot wall. I was wearing running shoes, had no chalk on my hands, and knew nothing about technique. Miraculously I managed to make it up about 3/4 of the way until I got way too winded and scared. Being on an auto belay, there was no way to rest, and the feeling of uncertainty about how fast the descent would be if I was to fall gave me chills. I prepared for the fall, and let go. To my initial surprise, the descent was very controlled.

The first time scared me, but it also inspired me. There was something amazing in that adrenaline rush, and I had an intense craving for that feeling of reward after completing a route. 

So that’s how it started. From then on, I started going to various climbing gyms with various climbing partners, most of whom were only slightly more experienced than I was, but it was a good start. After a few times, I really started to regret not giving rock climbing a try earlier. For years people told me to try it out, but I was too afraid, too rock-shy. 

Garden Update

I've always loved to garden, and living at a condominium doesn't really provide me with ample opportunities to dabble in the soil, but I try where I can. 

So far this season has not been very favorable for most plants - the frigid winter damaged many of our rhododendron bushes, and the extremely dry spring has left everything struggling for water, making for a very slow bud-popping process. 

Last fall, Larisa and I planted some spring flowers - tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths in a small flower bed near my house. After many cold, dry weeks, they have finally shown their full beauty this week.

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The extreme drought conditions we have been seeing across the region have been very favorable for the grape vines, my 6 year old Chardonnay varietal is sprouting up pretty nicely after a heavy trim this spring. 

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I've set up a new vine line a bit further away from the wall of the house to provide access for future maintenance of the building. Hopefully the move hasn't hurt the harvest this fall.

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A Plead To Instagram

Flickr’s had it’s time. While there are dozens of great photo-sharing platforms out there, including Flickr and 500px, Instagram is probably the most functional social photo sharing platform. Or is it? If not for lack of basic features like account switching, Instagram would be the most functional photo sharing network. The merit of Instagram is that it is simple and has a very large audience. While Instagram has been slow to adapt to the market’s needs (thinking of the late entry into the Android world), it’s important to state the dire need for account switching.

Like Twitter, originally Instagram was created to act as an individual’s photo sharing portal. It was a simple, yet brilliant idea a social network with personal photo sharing at the heart of the concept.

Today, Instagram is different, speckled with hundreds of thousands of accounts that don’t represent individuals, but rather companies and organizations, and the way people use Instagram is different too. The main problem? There’s no easy way to switch between accounts.

This missing feature has been frowned upon for years, yet Instagram seems to have no plans to add it to the app, for reasons unknown.

Personally, I have 4 accounts that I manage, two of them actively. One of them, @antonpug, is a personal day-to-day account, another one is @atlanticnortheast, which is the Instagram account of the Atlantic Northeast Company, @GreatNW, an account that I’ve created to share great photos from the Pacific Northwest, and finally, @antonpugachevsky, an account I recently created to act as my photo portfolio where I’d share the best of my work.

In order to switch between accounts today, one needs to have multiple devices, a ludicrous proposition, if you ask me. The slightly less burdensome solution solution involves signing off and on between different accounts on the same device.

Why can’t we have a simple, elegant solution similar to what Twitter does, a solution that allows you to be simultaneously signed in to multiple accounts on one device? That simple feature would make everyone’s life a lot easier, and would benefit Instagram because I believe people would actually use it more if they didn’t have to go though logging out logging in to post a selfie when they are currently logged into their corporate Insta.

So Instagram, please, fix this.

Sincerely,
Avid Photographer.