Kasperian Moving Parts

kinda like Batman, but with a wife and 3 kids

That Which Takes My Time

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It’s a frustrating thing to not have enough time to do that which you want. Or rather, there are so many things that I do want to do and so many things that I do need to do that there are choices that must be made to be a responsible, loving husband, Daddy, employee, hacker, game-player, and Christian.

My greatest passion as a by-nature-geek is Open Source software. Specifically, the Open Source desktop.
Professionally, Open Source has SO much value to companies that I am constantly finding ways of showing those at work of how the various solutions Open Source provides are the best-fitting tool for the needs we have.

Personally (or “speaking from a not-getting-paid-for-stuff perspective”), I have been involved in several large Open Source projects throughout the last 10 years. And I love it. I am absolutely passionate about the Open Source movement and about the paradigm shift it is causing in the world. And I absolutely LOVE being involved in something that is enormously larger than myself. I love participating and helping and interacting with the various Open Source communities. I love coding on that which interests me–that which I use. I love being able to improve upon and provide missing functionality for that which I personally need and use; and I love being able to provide functionality that others look for as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the KDE PIM project over the last couple of years and hope to continue to do so and find time to help even more than I have thus far.

However (you knew there was one coming, didn’t you), the frustrating reality of life is that there simply is never enough time for everything you need to do and everything you want to do. Choices must be made about what you invest yourself into and for me, those choices while frustrating are currently non-negotiable. I will put my God, my wife, and my children first. As it turns out in this present season of my life, the amount of time-leftovers from those is rather small. And therein lies the frustration. I sincerely want to spend more time working on KDE PIM. I see the project at a pivotal point, especially now, where most of the old guard (those who have built up KDE PIM to be what it is) is in the same place of life as me and have precious little time to fix bugs much less make the radical changes that are expected, needed, and desired. And that, dear reader, is frustrating.

My dream is to find a way to get paid (read: make a living to support my family) to continue to develop the Open Source desktop. I sincerely believe in my heart of hearts that we (KDE, especially) offer something extremely unique, functional, and overwhelmingly valuable to the computer-using world, and that the quiet revolution that we’ve begun has a very real chance of changing the face of computing for the next 10 years, if only we have the resources to see it through.

On this note (and this is something that’s been pressing heavy on my mind for months and months now), I have come across two other strains of the same thought and they both have resonated deeply with me. This, the first, is from Cristian Tibirna’s blog:

I started rather late in my life to work for a gain, at age 23. This was so given the political organization of the place I was then in and thanks to the invaluable care of my parents, who wanted us (me and my sister) to get solid education and be nondisturbed by external difficulties of any kind in the process.

Thus I carried some sort of idealism from my teen age way into my adult life. This makes that, in the last 15 years, there were only rare days in which a good amount of my time was not spent on productive activities having no immediate (or even projected) material output. I still call them productive because I dare think these activities usually made me a better being.

Since 1996, I was continually involved in KDE in varying measures, as such a productive (non moneyable) activity. My most active participation was between 1998 and 2001. I am definitely addicted to KDE. And I of course love to be so. Still, I think I have a problem. And this is related to lack of time through lack of discipline.

I usually work 8 to 10 hours a day on a job almost completely unrelated to KDE. I have a wonderful and understading wife and a marvelous son. I make it the most pleasant of duties to reserve to them at least 3 hours of my usual day. Starting with 1990, I used to sleep 5-6 hours a night, with frequent white nights. My health started to falter so in the last year or so I had to recede to 7 hours a night, the biggest concession I am likely to make. I need about 2 hours a day for eating, caring for my hygiene and other physical status and so on. This leaves me with 2 to 4 hours for “other stuff”, including KDE.

Thus, I think it’s easily understood why I can’t usually get more than one hour freed for KDE any usual day (perhaps a bit more on saturdays). This is after all not so bad. Still, I realized that, with time passing, I “evolved” to a stage where most of this hour is spent in reading. Around 500 emails per day need tending (well, 450 to 470 of them are simply thrown away…). There are about 200 RSS items (and this only in about 10 feeds) of which I carefully read half. The occasional informative/useful web page, documentation site, manual and so on, the well known piling “stuff”.

I try better time organization and harsher discipline (and I was raised by a father member of the military for most of his active life). Yet, I still can count on one hand’s fingers the times in a month when I directly do KDE production (usefully answering email, writing code, mending bug reports).

So, I know the problem: too much “stuff” reading. But I don’t have a solution, since not reading stuff would mean falling off the bleeding edge. I still look for the miracle solution.

And this, the second, is from Scott Wheeler’s blog:

KDE has slipped to the background of late and like many aging (Ok, so I just turned 26, but I got into this stuff when I was 20.) F/OSS hackers I’m left wondering if that’s a real transformation — a shift in priorities — or simply a phase that will be revisited once life settles down a bit. There’s still a desire to come home and code for hours on par with where I was at when I went through the last big transition — my move to Germany four years ago. But of late there’s, well, life going on.

I particularly appreciate the time-breakdown that Cristian goes through, and I echo his search for a miracle solution.  And I too identify with Scott’s ponderings as to whether or not this phase can be rejoined once life settles down a bit.

Well, here’s to you both, Scott and Cristian–and here’s to hoping that we can all find the time to continue doing that which provides us meaning and joy and purpose.  =:)

Author: Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper

My name is Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper. I am the ring leader of the amazing Kasper family. I am unashamedly a Christian Nerd. These are our stories....

One Comment

  1. Jason,

    I fully appreciate your desire to do the things you want to do while balancing God, wife and kids, not to mention a job. I, too, struggle with those very same issues. It is especially true of my job’s frequent requirements for me to leave my family for months and some times a year at a time. The guilt that I feel seems to be equal in weight to what Atlas had to put up with.

    By the time we reach our tenth anniversary next summer we will have been seperated for nearly 36 months. All because of my job. That is insane. Hopefully, when I retire from this job, I will have the opportunity to wait on her hand and foot until the day that God calls us home. She deserves no less than that. Forty years of such servitude wouldn’t even remotely make up for all the tears and frustration that she feels in the course of just one day, let alone the nearly 1095 days that I will have been gone. Thankfully, I am eligible to retire in a little less than four years. I wonder how many more months I’ll have to lose to the fight to keep everyone else safe and free.

    Only God knows. Shalom and may Jesus the Christ keep you and your family safe and together. Remember, every opportunity that you miss to hug your family and tell them that you love them is an opportunity that will never be given back to you. Cherish them.

    Your brother in Christ writing from Ur of the Chaldeans,
    Jim

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