Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bikes, Birds, and (silent) Beeps

Finally got off my tukus today and did something that did not involve cleaning out either the fridge or a litterbox. I pumped up the bike tires and hit the trail for a little exercise. It was a fantastic follow-up to a leisurely morning spent over coffee and the Sunday paper. It was great to be outside in the sun, listening to the surf, feeling the breeze.

By golly, being outside almost killed me.

I swear the eagle that was cruising directly overhead for a bit was eyeing me up as a snack for its young. Your thighs, madam homo sapien, are an excellent source of the RDA for proteins and fats—particularly the fats. I am thankful that I could keep the bike moving briskly enough that the bird moved on to another item on the buffet.

This is the first time I have ever seen an eagle. It was quite amazing. I am a bit distressed that I am nearing 40 trips around the sun and this was the first time I'd ever seen one. On the other hand, let's hear it for environmental legislation that seems to have worked; the birds survived decades of poison in the food chain and soft shells.

A somewhat amusing sidelight to the exercise event: I was on a well-marked, often paved, constantly maintained path—and I took my GPS unit with me! What is it about this gadget that is so enthralling? I was never more than 5 miles from home and yet I needed to have satellites incessantly confirm my location. Somehow being able to say "I trekked from N48° W123° to some other equally obscure location" sounds more impressive than "I rode my bike for an hour and almost passed out from the exertion."

Sunday Morning CEO

Sunday's paper had an interesting article on the only two CEOs of major U.S. public companies who also happened to be married to each other. Stephen Reynolds is the head of the utility holding company Puget Energy. Paula Reynolds is the head poobah at Safeco. After reading the article, I still am not entirely sure what it is that Safeco does—manufacturing? insurance? investing? publishing? nothing?—but I do know that it is one of only eight of the nation's 500 largest companies with a woman at the helm.

Ms. Reynolds is not yet 50 and this is at least the second CEO position she's held. As I was reading the story, Tom Lehrer's voice was loud in my head: "It's people like [her] that make you realize how little you've accomplished. It is a sobering thought," Lehrer continues, "that when Mozart was my age, he'd been dead for two years."

Ms. Reynolds made, possibly even earned, a salary of $2 x 10^6 last year. Her work hours do not follow the clock so much as they ignore the calendar. There are evening and weekend commitments. Meetings ad infinitum. Stadiums whose naming rights need to be bought. Deals to be done and decisions to be made and the position of the hands on the chronograph are irrelevant. These things need to be done when they need to be done. Since the article was spun from the angle of the married couple, the focus was on how they make the relationship work. I got tired just reading the article.

And I thought about my own schedule. It is Sunday and today began as it does every week: with a conscious disregard for all timepieces. When I finally decided to open my eyes, I read my sci-fi book. I then moved with the swiftness of a sloth to shower, reclaim the countertop from the ever-growing collection of dirty dishes, fetch coffee and juice and a NY Times and plant my bottom in the sunniest room in the house to read about other people who do more in a day than I plan to accomplish in a year. Monday through Friday, my days are not my own, seeing as I have a job. When the weekend rolls around, I am dizzy with the freedom from any dictated requirements. I have wasted more Saturdays thinking about how I could possible put the time to use rather than actually using the time to do something enjoyable, creative, relaxing, world-changing, etc.

She is a driven CEO and I am so clearly not. Needless to say, while I was deepening the pattern of the butt-groove in my comfie chair, I was feeling somehow less worthy and wondering what I should change in order to make more of my day—short of getting up from the chair, of course. Ms. Reynolds deals with a different issue altogether: she has tasks into her day that serve to keep her grounded. She does all the housework, cooking and grocery shopping herself!! To stay grounded!

Well, comparatively speaking, since I had already done the dishes, made myself a bowl of cereal and bought bananas this morning, our To-Do Lists were virtually the same. It turns out we're not so different after all.