Month: March 2014

It’s Ok To Ask For Help

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I have been struggling with some things lately, and realize we are our own worst enemy in asking for help. There is a reason why we invented maps, and then the GPS, otherwise nobody would know where they were going. We can accomplish great tasks when we ask for help and work together, and we usually struggle mightily when we try to go it alone.

As a kid, we have to learn things on our own (going to the potty, tying our shoes, throwing a ball, etc.), but, if we never seek out help, we grow up never learning how to ask for it. We become adults who think asking for help is a sign of weakness. We tell ourselves we will find a way and figure it out ourselves. Eventually, we struggle with something and then dismiss it. “I can’t do that. I don’t understand it”.  It is easier to ignore what we don’t know or can’t do than to push through to it. It is easy to dismiss something than trying to understand it. It doesn’t matter if you are a kid trying to figure out fractions or how to ask a girl on a date, at your first job, or twenty years into your career, struggling with something is going to happen.

In life, there will always be challenges and forks in the road.

The easy road is comforting. Familiar. A beautiful walk in the park. No problem. No sweat. That was easy. I can do it.

The hard choice? Don’t go there. Mom said to not go into the woods. It’s dark, and scary, and we can’t see around that first turn. It is outside of our comfort zone. Why should we struggle? Who is going to help us when we fall down?

We have to learn that it is OK to make the hard choice, and to ask for help when we struggle. There will be others who will help you along the way, who will not laugh at you when you fail. There will be people who will listen, guide you, share their stories of strength and hope, and remind you that you can accomplish your goal or work through your pain.

Life is an amazing journey. It is full of ups and downs, safe and hard choices. Sometimes the choices are easy, and sometimes life will throw me a curve when I least expect it and I am not ready for it. But, my journey is not over, nor will it ever be. I am finally starting to realize, as hard as it is for me to admit, that it is ok to struggle and not know where I am going. The journey is the most important part, as long as I am still learning.

And on the days where I can’t see where I am going, I may ask you for directions.

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Updated some pages

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Updated my Who I Am page.

Added My Beliefs page.

I Love Evernote, and Dropbox as well

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My first “techie-light” post.

I love Evernote. Do you use it, and if you don’t, you really should!

Do you make lists? Do you like to save snippets of information you just read or found out? Do you need to see this information on multiple devices (ie phone, pad, various computers)?

Use Evernote! Seriously. I’m not kidding right now.

It is easy to use to add or edit notes. It syncs between multiple devices as easy as clicking a button. What you just added or changed then syncs among all of the devices you use. I have it on my phone, Ipad, laptop and desktop machines.

It is a cross-platform app. It is a digital file cabinet. A quick and easy way to save some important information on the fly, to jot down things I want to remember and save as opposed to writing it down on a piece of paper, and then wonder where that piece of paper ended up. Anything you need to store and save you can keep it in one place, and access from anywhere.

Did I mention it is free?

But what about Dropbox you may ask?
Well, the short answer is, I use them both, but I use them both for different things.

DROPBOX
Dropbox is a file storage tool. It is great for storing larger, more conventional files that you would see on your computer: PDF’s, Word, Excel, Music, Video, Photos. My Dropbox folder has files such as my resume, photos, multi-page notes, spreadsheets, etc. Unlike Evernote, you can’t open a Dropbox window and type a few lines of text. In order to place a to-do list or reminder in Dropbox, you save the content in a traditional file (ie Word, Excel, txt, etc). Dropbox is in short just a folder on your computer that you can use to house files of any type. I use Dropbox for what Dropbox is good for: storing larger files in the cloud so I can get to them wherever I am (my phone, Ipad, and various PC devices).

EVERNOTE
This is where I store the “post it notes” of my life. It’s great for keeping track of A LOT of small pieces of information. The information is in the form of notes that have a title and then the content. You can then organize this data into different notebooks, and easily scroll through the notes like reviewing pages in a book. Plus, it has a powerful search feature. I use it to post writing ideas, web page and online clippings that I want to view later, notes and quotes from books I have recently read, lists of books to buy/research, music to buy/research, sites to revisit.…I could go on forever. The point is, these are things that would be an absolute nightmare to find if I saved them all in just a regular old folder on my computer. With Evernote I am able to find things fast and easy, and it is everywhere I go.

So, which one should you use? How about both! There really are no definitive rules here. It really is up to you. For me though, I’ve come up with my own solution that works pretty well:

Evernote is for all of the little bits of information I need or want to save, while I use Dropbox to house the larger files I need to get to. Evernote is the stack of Post-It notes on my desk or in my pocket, while Dropbox is my storage box (or in the ‘old’ days the thumb drive I used to carry around).

Go for it. Try Evernote out. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and if you need help, let me know.

The Handoff, Cultures & Sub-Cultures

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On a Sunday night, around 6:45, the mini-van, driven by a lone adult woman, pulls into a space of the diner parking lot.    After a few minutes I realize she has not exited her vehicle and is just quietly reading in the van. Is she waiting for her dining companion so she doesn’t have to enter the diner alone, or is it something else entirely?

Just before 7 another vehicle, driven by a man,  parks right next to the mini-van. The man does not exit the car or even look at the woman. Instead, a small boy about 10 years old gets out carrying a backpack, closes the car door and enters the mini-van, which promptly pulls out of the parking space, making a quick left turn out of the diner parking lot.  The man sits in his car for a moment, checks his phone, then puts his car back in gear, and makes a right hand turn out of the lot.

I had just witnessed the Sunday evening end of visiting weekend transfer of a child from one divorced parent to another.   I started to ponder  about how many times on a Sunday evening this event must occur, and how for the most part I have been totally oblivious to it.  As a happily married man of almost 30 years with two children, I have no first-hand experience with this part of our culture, and only a passing knowledge about.  Sure, I know it occurs, but I have never done it (thankfully), none of my friends do it (thankfully), and I have only occasionally seen it.

After watching the exchange, I was struck that the parents never looked at one another during  the transfer.  I can only imagine how bitter and complete their divorce is that they cannot even say a few polite words to the other.  I started thinking about how they even communicate to each other, since they are both responsible for the child in some way.  Do they just text each other about arrangements, or do they only communicate through another party or a lawyer.  A 10 year old kid must have a busy life, how do these parents share that life if they cannot communicate, even during a weekend transfer?   For the sake of their child, I hope these parents can one day set aside their bitterness and share in the joys that await them in the years to come; birthday parties, proms, graduations, college, etc.

I also starting thinking about how our  culture has many sub-cultures that I have little or no awareness about, or I am no longer a part of.  Divorced parents, single parents, mixed race parents, parents that work different shifts, ultra-religious families, families of the disabled, families of the terminally ill, young adults just out of college, wrestling families, swim families, dance families, cheer families, etc.  The list of sub-cultures (mini-cultures if you want) within our own society is endless, and unless you are a part of one you usually don’t think about them.

These sub-cultures or sub-groups fit into other parts of our life as well.  The brand of car you own, the type of music you listen to, whether or not you own a mac or a PC, do you watch MSNBC or FOX news, are you a republican or democrat, conservative or liberal or somewhere down the middle do you like Springsteen or (god forbid) Bon Jovi.  Each of us is part of the greater culture of our society, and at the same time we are all parts of sub-cultures that make us who we are.  Being able to span these sub-cultures on a daily basis is one of the things that make our society thrive, and for that I am grateful.  I’m just glad I’m not forced into being part of a group I wouldn’t enjoy.

Theme change, maybe or maybe not

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I’m not overly thrilled with this theme.  It’s b&w and simple and doesn’t have many fancy colors, which is what I want.  I want my pages to be able to load quickly in any browser, pad, and phone.  Having many colors and various ‘things’ to load will only frustrate people, so the simpler the better.

However, I am not thrilled with some of the aspects such as the colors of the links, recent posts, blogs I am starting to ‘officially’ follow via my WP account  (as opposed to viewing them every once in awhile).  I’ve tooled around with the theme and am not finding many things I can modify.

So…..the question now becomes Which Theme Do A Change To, and advancing that to another degree, Do I Stay With A Free Theme Or Do I Pay For One?

The good news with all of this experimentation is that I AM learning the WP interface.

Stay tuned and rock on.

I Miss Albums

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I miss albums.

I miss…..
• being able to admire the artwork, read the liner notes and the lyrics while listening to the songs.
• being able to drop the needle and play (reference to Springsteen’s Mary’s Place intentional).
• taking the cleaner and wiping the record clean before each play, and cleaning the stylus with the little brush.
• going to a friend’s house (or a dorm room) and browsing their record collection and becoming instant friends because it was obvious that our tastes in music were similar. They also had a copy of Love’s Forever Changes, or the cover of Bitches Brew was worn and frayed, or At The Fillmore East never seemed to make its way back into the stack, or they just didn’t know how to categorize the Beatles solo albums (put at the end of the Beatles section or alphabetize like all the other artists).
• the days of playing an album and friends or neighbors would hear it and we would bond some more and talk about the music and other stuff and we would then listen to something else, and it would morph into listening to something new and different.
• those days when I would make a mix tape and it would take me hours (if not days) and I would have albums scattered all over the floor as I tried to make that perfect running order.

I still have my albums. They haven’t been played in over 25 years (since I started re-booting my collection with CD’s). But I still have them and I don’t want to let them go just yet.

I like how CD’s don’t scratch, and sound clean, though not as ‘rich’ as an album. I appreciate how they take up less room, and how I can put 5 of them in the player and be entertained for hours. I like how easy it is to travel with them and play them in my car (as opposed to making a ‘car tape’). I like how I can display my CD collection in two wall units in our living room and it doesn’t take over the whole room (like my album collection used to).

I still listen to my CD’s, at home, and in the car.

I like being able to find out information about any CD or a song or an artist in seconds. Google and Amazon are my friend.

I love my Itunes library, with 6000+ songs that give me a wealth of music to listen to in an instant. I can make a mix CD or a playlist in a fraction of the time it used to take to make a mix tape (it may be easier, but it is not as much fun).

I love my 64 Gig Ipod Classic and my Iphone. I can listen to any song at any time whenever I want wherever I am, and I can do it quickly and without much thought, and I can put my headphones on and block out the world and isolate myself and nobody will know what I am listening to and it’s my music and you can’t have it. The person at the table next to me at Starbucks is doing the same, and I don’t care what they are listening to. It can’t be as good as what I am listening to. We would never have the same taste in music.

I miss albums……….