Ambition and the Ambitionless?

Is there a fundamental tension between playing a sport “for fun” and also trying to do well at it? I play on a kickball team, and there’s a rough split between the folks who get caught up in the game and play their hearts out, and the folks who continually recite “we just here for fun, right” – I mean the reason people play any sport is for fun, and a lot of people work hard practicing/lifting weights for years in order to do their best and have more fun in the process. Perhaps that’s what separates people with ambition from those without? People who want to do their best (and continue to raise that bar) to get the most out of everything they do, as opposed to those who just show up- and this “ambition” applies to almost everything, not just work or what have you. I’m sure the latter (ambition-less) category has a good time, but what happens when the two groups meet?
Now I’m not suggesting kickball is a sport important enough to have two a day practices and team lifting regimens – just that kickball is fun, and winning is even more fun, so there’s got to be a way to get everyone on board to try to do both.

Programmer Time Management

This has probably occurred to me, and likely to everyone else out there – programmers will spend orders of magnitude more time to automate a tedious, boring and error prone process than it would actually take to perform that process weekly for the next four years, even though it likely would take place for only a few more weeks.
This comes up in light of converting a relatively simple static site I maintain for a kickball league to use a templating engine(more on that later) so that I wouldn’t have to a) change all six pages to change the headers/footers/menu etc, and b) wouldn’t have to use an excel spreadsheet and type and copy and paste scores from place to place every week to update the results. In my case, I have an issue where I’m very interested in learning new things, but always need some tangible project to perform otherwise I lose interest – so I can chalk it up to learning something new, even if I have saved negative time in the course of the implementation over doing things the old fashioned way.

Easier to manage time when busy?

There’s currently a whole load of things I want to read/play with/ do, and I really don’t have time for it all, even though I do have the interest and energy(most of the time). I guess it’s one of life’s quirks that when one is busy, there’s lots of things one wants to do, and when you’re idle/bored, you can’t be bothered to do anything. Case in point: I was unemployed for several months this summer, and apart from auditing a summer class and a little traveling, I didn’t get all that much done. Some of that I can chalk up to the grind and angst of being unemployed and scanning the job listings on craigslist and monster etc and sending out resumes, but I really had a lot of time on my hands that was just squandered. Mostly I realize that now when I’m juggling grad school and a full time job along with all the other things in life – I wish I’d used that time better. Now that I’m already busy I have all this interest in playing with this technology or reading that book, various things I couldn’t be bothered to do in the summer time when I was idle. Is it really just easier to manage one’s time when you’re busy? Once you’re in a go-go state it’s just hard to stop (inertia?)

Mobile Computing and School

I’m struck by how much the ubiquitousness of laptops has changed the college experience from the aspect of getting work done. – when I was in school ending in 2000 (up hill both ways…) laptops were still pretty rare. People got work that required a computer done in their rooms or computer labs – and as a Computer Science and Engineering major, for me that meant a whole lot of time in my room. Now that I’m back in school part time four years after getting my BS, I’m struck by the fact that I’ve spent more time in the library in the course of a semester than I did in my entire undergraduate education. Why is that? Well apart from the fact that I have better study habits than back then, its simply because I can – I’m no longer chained to a desktop computer. This is all pretty obvious, but now people can get their work done anywhere, and do. Walking through the Tufts library, half the people are tapping away on laptops, and most everyone is jacked into an iPod. I can only imagine how different my college career would be like now – and we’re only talking technology enablement, not “if only I knew then what I know now”.