Week #25 — Some doors installed, and much more

Construction crews have now built all of the columns for the final ceiling / flat roof. Once the columns are up then the workers start to connect beams from column to column. From there they place bamboo sticks every foot or so to support a plywood base for the concrete pour (in approx. 12 days).

In the meantime the electrical and plumbing crew are hard at work wiring the place up. There have been a few hiccups on the placement of plugs, switches, and even air conditioning units. I will take the responsibility for these problems, as I didn’t force my builder to review the MEP (mechanical, electrical & plumbing) team’s plans. We used plans from my architect, but then I made changes with my builder, and those changes were not properly reviewed. Part of the problem rests with language barriers as well.

Photo: Standing at the future pool and guest walkway, straight ahead. The building shows a large terrace above the bamboo sticks. That will become the landing for entry into the upper two guest apartments. Below that are two apartments as well (each with a loft)

Making changes at this stage is the most economical, as most of the time it involves material that has not been finished. In other words, moving an electrical outlet for example involves ripping some brick and moving the wire, but the finishing coat of plaster and paint has not been applied yet so it’s generally a quick fix.


Week #22 — Staircases, finishing concrete, and more

The structure is changing rapidly now and it’s exciting to see the development on a daily basis. There were months when the progress was like this: holes dug in the ground, mud, then more holes, more mud; concrete and steel going into the holes, then more concrete and steel (don’t forget the mud); and finally a slab of concrete that covered up the holes and… lo and behold — a future parking area/basement.

Now we see brick walls and ceilings being covered with a form of cement plaster that will either go untouched or painted. We see stairs connecting one level to another. We see beams and plywood forms going into place for a flat concrete roof. And an electrical pole going in for our very own electricity.

Things are happening dude.


Tips for a vacation with maximum rejuvenation

What is a vacation if we cannot feel refreshed, to perhaps see things with a new sparkle or walk with an unexpected spring in our step?

Now there’s new research that can help those who can afford to get away, for at least a few days, from the routine and responsibilities of work.

According to sociologist Sabine Sonnentag of Germany’s University of Konstanz, there are four major factors that contribute to a vacation that offers recovery / rejuvenation:

  1. relaxation
  2. control
  3. mastery experiences
  4. mental detachment from work

Relaxation:

Engage in activities that are pleasant and undemanding.

Relaxation does not have to be totally passive, it just shouldn’t feel like work or require much effort.

Control:

Decide how you want to spend your time. Unlike the demands at work, paying attention to your leisure interests and creating an agenda to suit your particular desires can be liberating. At the very least it can be more fun than the duties of your daily work schedule.

Doing nothing or very little can be a radical departure from your regular routine and maybe this type of control — to tame the urge to do something — might be worth considering as well.

Mastery experiences:

Engage in activities you already do well. These mentally absorbing moments may create what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow experiences: a temporary suspension of the passage of time and extreme satisfaction with successfully doing the things you are excellent at.

Mental detachment from work:

Escaping work-related interruptions can be a challenge, but they are essential when taking a much-deserved respite.

Do what you can to notify co-workers that you will not be available during your scheduled vacation period.

Try not to worry about work. It will undo some of the rejuvenation and recovery that you obtained during your time off.

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It may seem like a part-time job to accomplish the list of four factors discussed above. While its true that your working life helps define who you are, its also important to remember that your emotional and psychological resilience when faced with the trials and tribulations of the daily grind require proper refueling.

Getting the most out of your vacation may require a bit more effort than taking a “chill pill” and vegetating at the hotel pool. And making a list of must-see cultural / tourist sites may also need re-thinking. But if you’re up for the personal challenge, the rewards of factoring in this new research may be what you’ve been working towards all along.