Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Social Media: Hurricane Irene, Givvy and Mashable

I jumped on Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) November 30, 2009.  Family and friends immediately asked "Twitter? Do you really care what Ashton Kutcher has for lunch?" I had something else in mind. I wanted to test my hypothesis about using Twitter to drive B2C demand (specifically prepared food) during offpeak hours. I thought using twitter to drive demand was possible and in fact it's being done in L.A. The experiment failed in my laboratory of choice. I came out a big winner, though. I made friends with Twitter and in so doing connected with many wonderful mentors and friends along the way. I still don't care what Ashton Kutcher has for lunch, but that's social media. It can be a wonderful tool or an irrelevant doodad. This point was driven home Saturday, as Hurricane Irene began it's New England coastal tour.

Source: Mashable
I found two post on Mashable that caused immediate response. One post got a bravo, the other post a "so?" but it was the juxtaposition of the post that is my source of commentary. The bravo went to a post about Foursquare being used to find evacuation centers in New York during Hurricane Irene. Social media to save lives, yeah! The "so?" went to a post that included a write-up about Givvy, a Facebook gift finding application. Social media for giving cool gifts, okay?

Genie Says, "You Only Get Three."
There's nothing wrong with using social media to find great gifts. There's nothing wrong with using social media to follow Aston Kutcher's lunch menu. It's just that it's like using one of three genie wishes to get ahead in line at McDonald's. I am taken aback at using such a powerful tool for something so mundane. Friends, there is simply more to life.

Find Your Comfort Zone.
Social media can be used to do many good things or it can be used to accomplish nothing at all. And if I wanted to be a heavy handed yutz, I would say "Social Media is an excellent metaphor for life.", but I left my sledgehammer at my other laptop. It's always going to be about striking a balance between the sacred (finding a shelter in a hurricane) and the profane (finding a wall salmon that sings Puccini for an opera loving fishing afficionado). Oh and if you want to know what I'm having for lunch don't follow me on Twitter. That's what Google+ is for.

What uses of social media do you find amazing? Silly? A great big waste?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson Trust 30 Challenge: Hey, 10 Years From Now Folks Are Still Texting.

This Trust 30 prompt is from Tia Singh. Her inspiration is this quote:
Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Her challenge is to imagine a text to the today me from the 10 year in the future me. In addition to the content, I am to consider the transformative effect the guidance from the future has on my current day to day existence. Imagine the scene, me, tomorrow morning on my daily walk:

Hey, what's this? I got a text from... me. That's odd. When was the text sent? 10 years from today? I gotta download that app. What's the message? 
Success lies not in the brilliance of the plan but rather in steadfast determination to the plan's execution. I said steadfast, not stubborn. 
Huh? What's that supposed to mean? Oh, I get it. 
  • Stop screwing around with plans on paper. Write a plan and work on getting it done, each and every day. 
  • Steadfast, not stubborn. So that must mean to carry accumulated knowledge with me each day. The plan was written in ink (well the 21st Century version of ink, a laptop), not stone.
So success is based upon:
  1. consistent execution of a well conceived but not necessarily brilliant plan combined with 
  2. the acumen to make changes when necessary.

Wow. Brief, simple and common sense. I didn't know it's so easy to be a success. I should text me a thank you. What? "your text cannot be sent". I'll just mark my calendar to thank me 10 years from today. I do have an app for that.

What are your guidelines for success? What would your next decade self guide you to do today?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene: A Terrible Time To Showcase Misplaced Priorities.

Source: Wikipedia
I'd like to begin with an apology for not being more tuned in to the news prior to Friday AM. Had I paid attention to what was going on in the world (more specifically the US Eastern Seaboard) I would not have titled Friday's post "The Sky is Most Definitely Not Falling". Just like my eating habits, I need to make better choices. That said, beginning Friday morning I plugged into Ireneageddon 24/7.  My in-laws were in Richmond, VA for my brother-in-laws wedding, so I had a vested interest in the disaster coverage OCD.

Get Out While You Can.
As Hurricane Irene was churning it's way to N.C. (1st stop on it's North American Tour) the pre-disaster briefings were already appearing on the news channels. One official was going over in-storm procedure and made it clear: "Our concern is the preservation of life. Property damage is of no consideration until the storm passes." I like the people before property plan. It's both concise and common sense. Later in the hour, the evacuation of North Carolina was under discussion. I was dismayed to learn that some "hurricane veterans" were choosing to remain to "protect their property". Huh? How do you protect your property from a natural disaster? Negotiation? Threats? Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and the rest of the "act of God" posse are immune to logic.

Keep Your Personal Choices Personal.
I am not a fan of obtrusive government and I believe in an individual's right to chart their own course. There are many dangerous avocations that people choose to pursue. Go ahead, have a good time and send me some pictures. I also understand limited resources (far more than I would like to) and irreplaceable assets.

  • When someone chooses to remain despite a government recommended/required evacuation, their stubbornness puts others at risk. Rescue agencies also have limited resources. Choosing not to evacuate when able leaves those that are unable to evacuate in an even more vulnerable position.
  • Remember the pictures of people standing on top of buildings waiting to be rescued during Katrina and other hurricanes. When the water floods, the only value to personal property is using it as protection from the disaster. Since the property is now (poorly) protecting the person as opposed to the person protecting the property, why didn't the person get out of harms way in the first place?
What Is Most Important To You?
The early evaluation of preparedness for Hurricane Irene appears to be positive. That doesn't absolve nor excuse those that chose to stay put despite the conventional wisdom to do otherwise. Property isn't more important than people. Not during Hurricane Irene, or any other day of the year, either. Valuing stuff over human life showcases inverted priorities. It's annoying every day of the year and dangerous during a natural disaster.

Do you agree? How do you feel about people choosing to be in harms way? What are your thoughts about people that place a higher importance on property over people?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Sky is Most Definitely Not Falling.

A Blast From The Past.
The beginning of the school year allows me to reestablish my routine of walking. I put my daughter on the bus before 6:50 AM and have about 45 minutes before my son needs to get up. I use the time to pop on my earphones and walk a couple of miles. Yesterday, I heard The Turtles version of "Eve Of Destruction". If you've never heard the song it's kind of a 60's version of "It's The End Of The World As We Know It", but sung in a dirge, sort of. Okay, maybe not. If you've heard "Eve Of Destruction" just once, you feel as though you've heard it over and over and over again my friend. Anyway, "Eve Of Destruction" still resonates 46 years after it was written, just in a different manner.

Fast Forward To Today.
The times we live in are certainly frightening. The world wide economy is in the dumper. The US has double digit unemployment with no sign of relief anytime soon. The US manufacturing base has disappeared. Big industry continues to move factories from country to country chasing dirt cheap labor. Our elected officials can't even agree that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  It seems as if we don't do something fast everything our ancestors fought for will be forfeit.  No one before us has been at this critical a point, right?

Selections From US History.
I wonder how people felt at the time of the Revolutionary War. They declared liberty from England as Act I without an outline to write Act II. What about feelings during the Civil War? A truly divided country that chose to take up arms because compromise wasn't an option. If the country was frightened by the prospect of WW I (the war to end all wars), how much scarier was WW II just 2 decades later? Finally, peace erupts into prosperity and all we have to worry about in the 1950's was the specter of the Soviet Union doing to us what we did to Japan to end WW II. How comforting was it to hide under a desk during a school nuclear bomb drill? Were these points in history any easier than the crap we face today?

And Now, Back To Our Music.
As the 60's concluded I was almost old enough to gauge the vox populi. In my house it was something like "What the hell are these long hair, free loving, dope smoking college hippies trying to do? If they're trying to ruin this country, they may damn well succeed." It's a good thing I had friends with older siblings. It's 40 years later and the USA is still here, limping along. Collectively, we have learned some lessons easily, while other lessons have yet to be learned. The point is not the sadness that "Eve Of Destruction" still resonates. The point is that despite the ominous predictive tone of "Eve Of Destruction", over 40 years later, we're still here singing.  R.E.M. did their late 80's version of "Eve Of Destruction". I assume some group will give their take on "It's The End Of The World As We Know It." during the 2020's.

It's normal to be concerned about today and the future.  Remember that other generations have stood with us in our concern and yet we are still here. The next time someone suggests we're on the path to oblivion, kiss them and wish them well on their journey. Instead of fueling fear, recall American resilience and join with previous generations determined to succeed.

Do you agree with me that the "precipice of disaster" crowd is over the top? Or do you believe that we are hell bent on self-destruction?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ROL: A Great Way To Start Your Day.

ROL (Return on Life) is a self designated qualitative measure based on the quantitative metric, ROI (Return on Investment). ROI is maximized when small investments provide whopping returns. ROL is maximized when small incremental lifestyle changes provide exceptional enhancement in one's QOL (Quality of Life).

An Apple A Day?
It's important to start the day out right. For some that means a well balanced breakfast. (A balanced breakfast has nothing to do with how well the food sits on the dashboard during rush hour.) Aerobic enthusiasts like to get their heart pumping before digging into the day's business. I have something else in mind.

Smile. Just Do It.
Experts say happiness has a tremendous positive effect on health. Given the craziness of life, especially on a hectic morning what can be done to start out happy? Meet Gretchen Rubin. Ms. Rubin is the author of "The Happiness Project." As the name implies, the project is about finding and maintaining happiness. There's a website, ongoing groups, author's requisite Facebook pageTwitter and so much more I'm sure. In a world of horns honking and middle fingers extending, someone dedicating all this space to happiness is truly remarkable.

It's Easier Than You Think.
I hear the chorus of naysayers already. Happiness is wonderful but I don't have time for all this Facebooking and groups and whatever else. Friends, I am way ahead of you. Meet another auxiliary of "The Happiness Project":  The Moment of Happiness. A quote about happiness delivered daily to your inbox. Easier to digest than fiber, finished quicker than exercise and don't get me started about water. Sure, it's a daily commitment but it's only a moment and starts your day with the empowerment of happiness. Try it, you've got nothing to lose. If you find it too time consuming for the morning you can always check it out when you get home. Happiness doesn't get stale and... it's good for you.

Do you have something quick that makes you smile? (Please don't share the dirty limerick of the day site. This is the internet. If that's what I want, I don't need rhyming vulgarity). Please share.

Blogger's disclaimer:  I don't know nor have I ever met Gretchen Rubin. I don't have an affiliate program so I receive no benefit on any sales that may result from this post. I plan to tweet Ms. Rubin about "The Happiness Project"'s influence on this post. That's it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson Trust 30 Challenge: Alive-est, With My Kids.

This Trust 30 prompt is from Sam Davidson. The charge is to recall a recent time when I felt most alive. Record the scene, feelings, even the smells. That recollection recorded can serve as motivator whenever I hit the wall.

Summertime and the Livin' is???
This summer had all the requisite protocol for disaster. The kids weren't going to camp, my wife rejoined the workforce (2nd shift, no less) and July was hotter than a pizza oven. My wife had always originated kids activities, but now it was my turn. I wasn't worried about taking care of my kids, but keeping them occupied and engaged well... I was a bit concerned.  Then voila, the obvious smacked me in the face and a plan was hatched.

It's Fun to Play at the YMCA.
We  were lucky enough to be gifted a summer membership to the local YMCA. In the middle of the heat wave I checked the YMCA pool schedule and found that Tuesday and Thursday evenings were conducive for a family swim. In order to beat the heat and help the kids burn some energy, I decided we would go the next night, Thursday.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part.
Thursday was a day full of excitement. The kids wanted to get ready for the pool at lunchtime, even though we weren't going until after dinner. I set 4 PM as the get ready time to avoid them waking up the next pool day and going from pajamas to swimsuits. The picture of my daughter coming to dinner in her pink cover up, pink swim goggles and purple backpack will stay with me forever. And that was merely a beginning.

Jump in, the Water's Fine.
I had some concerns, especially about taking them into water without my wife's help. The kids are 51/2 years apart and both are blessed with ADHD. Additionally my son has Asperger's Syndrome. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Like most kids, my kids love the water. This wasn't always the case with my son but this summer was different. We all played catch. My son and I watched my daughter go down the waterslide repeatedly.  My son found a rubber duck which I proceeded to put on a duck shaped hard foam sponge creating a rubber duck on a duck raft. (This became our 1st thing in the pool ritual).  My daughter even made up a game: "Floatie in the Middle". Instead of "Monkey in the Middle" the one in the middle held up a swim noodle in a semi circle and the ball had to pass thru the noodle on the way to the other player. These Y trips were among the best parts of summer. Whenever I smell chlorine, these swim nights will always come to mind. I consider this event(s) an example of how my family and I can rise to an occasion simply by getting with the program. I put aside my concerns to get things done. The results were better than I could have imagined.

What about you? Any examples of how you forged ahead and felt great?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The First Day of School.

It's a little bit crazy at home today. Tomorrow is the 1st day of the new school year. Tags are cut off new clothes, school supplies are organized (okay, stuffed) into backpacks and alarms are set 2 hours earlier then the kids have gotten up for two months. Yes, it's crazy and a little bit sad (mostly for the kids) but underneath it all there is a sense of excitement.

New Year, No Old Business.

The kids have a new teacher and some new challenges. There's a chance to make new friends and better yet, reconnect with some old friends.  Everyone attempts "best behavior" to start the year right. Sure there are some kinks in the system, but there is also a sense of leniency. After all it is the 1st day.  Too bad it's not the same once you become an adult.

For Some, But Not For Everyone.

As adults, we do start a new job from time to time. Or we move to a new neighborhood. Maybe we join a new congregation. Perhaps we volunteer for a new (to us) cause. Some (not me) join a new country club ( I don't have an old country club either). The difference between these examples and the 1st day of school is the scope of the change. Sure, when someone walks into job, etc. they experience similar feeling to the 1st day of school, but for everyone else it's pretty much another day at the office.  There is no grand feeling of everything new. There is no standard restart option.

Be The Change You Seek.

Why shouldn't we declare an annual 1st day of school for everyone. It's good for colons, cell phones and computers to undergo a master reset every so often. It's good for the kids, so shouldn't it be good for adults, too? It's time for adults to schedule a "1st day of school" at least once a year. It's probably not practical to legislate a national 1st day of school holiday (and besides how many appliance sales can be effective in one year?). Instead it's up to each of us to plan our own "1st day of school". Dress a little nicer. Bring with accumulated knowledge. Dispose of stockpiled garbage. Renew vision and attitude. Apply best behavior. Wouldn't it be good to be a kid again?

Do you have any ideas about a grown up 1st day of school? Agree? Disagree? Couldn't care less? Any thoughts about implementing a 1st day of school?

BLOGGERS NOTE: Yesterday, on her outstanding blog Waxing Unlyrical, Shonali Burke posted "Hitting the Reset Button". Although the emphasis is substantially different from the above post there is similar terminology. There is no doubt in my mind that Shonali planted the seed for today's post and therefore attribution is required. My apology for not including this in the original posted.  Added August 23, 2011 at 8:03 AM.

Monday, August 22, 2011

5 Great Blogging Tips, In Use.

Can you identify the tips mentioned in the title? Answers are at the bottom.

Five Syllables
Blogging should be fun.
Seven Syllables
If not, go do something else.
Five Syllables
writing Haiku.

How many tips in use did you find? Did you find any tips I didn't list?

˙ʎuoʇouoɯ pᴉoʌɐ oʇ ǝƮʎʇs ʇuǝɹǝɟɟᴉp ɐ uᴉ ʇsod
˙ǝƮqᴉssod ɹǝʌǝuǝɥʍ ǝɹnʇɔᴉd ɐ ǝpnƮɔuI
˙ʇsod ǝɥʇ ɟo ʞooƮ ǝɥʇ ʎɹɐʌ oʇ sɓuᴉpɐǝɥqns ǝsᑎ
˙ʇuᴉod ǝɥʇ oʇ puɐ ʇɹoɥs ǝƮʇᴉʇ ǝɥʇ dǝǝ丬
˙ǝƮʇᴉʇ ǝɥʇ uᴉ ɹǝqɯnu ɐ ǝsᑎ

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson Trust 30 Challenge: I Won't Be Who I Don't Want To Be.

Hi Trust 30. It's about time I managed to get reacquainted with you. Trust 30, you've definitely helped me find my confidence and my voice. I must say, you look better than ever.

This Trust 30 prompt comes from Harley Schreiber. The challenge is to consider all that I don't want to be five years from now and produce a plan that will keep me from being someone I wouldn't befriend. This prompt should be easy, I've met and worked for a number of people that are poster children for someone I don't want to be when I grow up.

Not Gonna Be in Five Years.
I don't want to be someone petty and mean in spirit. I don't want to use money or material possessions as a way of keeping score. I don't want to be someone that looks back on missed opportunity (we all have some missed opportunities along the way) and start sentences with "If I had only..." Finally and most importantly I will refuse to dwell on (perceived?) insults and screw jobs and use that anger as a force to determine my future. 

Easy In Theory
What is an absolute sure fire way to avoid being the miscreant described above? One word: Perspective. I must make a consistent choice to live in the here and now. The harsh words in an argument with a loved one are to be blown away in a bubble while the underlying cause becomes a discussion topic. Understand people for who they are. Have the common sense to not play Charlie Brown while trying to kick Lucy's football. Further, when the desire for revenge arises, visualize the success of Wile E. Coyote in his endeavors with the Roadrunner. Finally I must remember that material objects and money are just a means to an end, the end being a high quality life.

I Named This Blog.
In summary, all I need to do to avoid being someone I dislike is to remember the title of this blog. Do I want the gathering at the end of my life to be would have, could have, should have? Do I want my kids to remember a list of "if only"? No. I want my funeral to be stories that evoke both laughter and tears. Perspective is the path of the happy.

How do you keep your eyes on the prize? Who would you not want to be and how do you plan to avoid becoming that person?

Friday, August 19, 2011

2 Things That Beg A Question. (Just 2?)

Sometimes you just gotta say, "What the..."?

Hurry up, it's time to relax.
I'm a fan of meditation, except for that "sit still, think about nothing, listen to the birds chirp" part of meditation. I was searching the Android Market for a good guided meditation app and found Meditation Helper. Meditation Helper is an app that allows the user to set a daily meditation time target and a widget that displays the number of consecutive days the target has been reached. Imagine the possibilities:

  • "I bet I can meditate longer than you."  
  • "Damn. I blew my meditation today and only 3 days away from my personal best, too."
  • "How long till the bell rings, anyway?"
Funny, I thought the idea of meditation was to get away from the corporeal and live in the moment.

I'm Here To Help. How Soon Are We Done?
A while ago I was introduced to Sparked is a wonderful site. Sparked catalogs member skills and crowdsources on behalf of non-prof's that need specific help. The non-prof gets free consulting and the member micro-volunteers according to his/her time availability. This is not a critique of Sparked. I think Sparked is wonderful, but ..."Wow that was great. Can I call you a cab? You told me your name, right?"  Again, I participate on Sparked but shouldn't volunteering also include a piece of soul, too?

What do you think? Am I nitpicking just for the sake of a post? Do you agree with me that the purpose is at odds with the concept? Do you have any similar examples?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ROL: Write Lightly and Carry A Big Eraser.

ROL (Return on Life) is a corollary metric to ROI (Return on Investment). ROL suggests small incremental changes that can cause a disproportionately large increase in QOL (quality of life).  This week's ROL comes from the wonderful world of Sudoku.

If your not familiar with Sudoku, you're way ahead. If you've encountered Sudoku you have a great appreciation of the previous sentence. I picked up Sudoku about a 1/2 year ago. Puzzles are suggested to maintain mental acuity. As a definite back nine of lifer, I want to do whatever I can to stay closer to personhood than I get to rutabagahood. Since crosswords and ADHD are mortal enemies (at least for me) Sudoku seemed a logical choice.

Sudoku relies primarily on deductive logic to solve a unique number puzzle. As a beginner, I write potential solutions in open squares or along the margins. As I solve parts of the puzzle I erase options no longer pertinent. Since that's more erasing than a pencil can handle, I also have an extra eraser.  That's my Sudoku kit in the picture. No too long ago, my daughter looked at it and said "Daddy, you have a very big eraser". I said "You're right my dear, I do have a big eraser" and thought "Shouldn't everyone have a big eraser?"

Life affords us all a wide spectrum of plans, choices and decisions. Some decisions turn out to be right immediately and yield the positive results desired. Other choices take time to yield fruit. Some plans turn out to be dead wrong and drain valuable resources until rectified.  It is NOT heroic to forge ahead with original plans, consequences be damned, if those plans are wrong. Listing, evaluating and recalculating options needn't be indecisive. As a matter of fact, having the courage to carry a comprehensive list of alternative options and the fortitude to change course is smart, strong and dare I say Just as in Sudoku, write it lightly and be ready to erase in the name of finding the best solution.

Would you be willing to share a situation where you altered your original plans mid-stream and achieved your desired results based on that change? You might give someone else the insight to do the very same.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Congress Needs A Marriage Counselor.

There are riots in the streets of Great Britain. As our progenitor and a close ally, is this a portent of things to come? In response to the violence, Prime Minister Cameron is contemplating social media suppression. Note to Prime Minister Cameron: suppression does little to quell frustration boiling over (see Tiananmen Square) unless accompanied by mass murder (see Tiananmen Square). We share a common language with Great Britain. It's time to proactively keep 2011 riots and warm beer uniquely British.

Children Must Be Taught To Play Together.
Imagine this fictional conversation my daughter:
     "Daddy, Johnny won't play with me unless I give him all my crayons."
     "Have your tried talking with Johnny?"
     "He says he won't talk to me unless I give him all my crayons."
This is truly a conundrum. At least until my daughter comes back to me a third (30th?) time and says,
     "Daddy, Johnny won't play with me unless I give him all my crayons."
     "Sweetie, that's very sad. Johnny sure is mean. I do have a question for you. Have you thought of a plan to deal with Johnny other than telling me that Johnny won't play with you unless you give him all your crayons."
     "What kind of plan?"
     "Why not tell Johnny you won't play with him unless he gives you all his paper?"
     "I never thought of that. Daddy, you sure are smart."
I realize few things in life are not as simple as the above example. Things also aren't significantly more complicated than the example above.

Divorce is Not An Option.
My wife and I often disagree passionately and occasionally coarsely about day to day household agenda items.  If my wife and I chose to consistently repeat our original thought as to the best course of action, nothing would get done. The dishes would remain in the sink, the garbage would stay in the house, bills wouldn't be paid and the kids would have no clothes. If my wife and I upped the ante by complaining loudly and longly to our friends, "My wife/husband doesn't understand reality. If he/she refuses to get his/her head out of her ass we will accomplish nothing." The part about accomplishing nothing is patently false. We would accomplish losing all our friends, but the house would still be a disaster. Luckily, my wife and I (and most committed couples) find a way to work it out. One or both parties may be less than thrilled with the compromise, but it's time to move forward.

Paging Dr. Phil.
I can't imagine how tough it is to a member of Congress.  You have multiple offices, multiple residences and a multitude of staff members. Bills are long and not written in plain English. The cost of running for office and the 24 hour news cycle make it nearly impossible to compromise on tough choices. Too bad. Nobody is forced to run for office.  All US leglislators are in Congress of their own volition. It's time to engage with the opposition and accomplish. The option is to kick off your shoes, open a warm beer and watch the riots in the streets.

Any suggestions for Congress? Any thoughts on ways to end this mess?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ROL: Take A Moment To Make Someone's Day.

ROL (Return On Life) is about engaging in small incremental changes that can have a large positive impact on living life. It is a non-quantitative adaptation of the financial measure ROI (return on investment). This week's ROL is about how small amounts of time can really add up.

Mark E. Andersen, Posted on Daily Kos
August 9, 2011 was the date of 6 recall elections in Wisconsin.

It was also the the 37th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation.

And the 52nd anniversary of my appearance on this planet.

When I opened my computer August 9th, I had 6 birthday shouts on my Facebook wall. By the time I had given each one a short thank you, there were three more "Happy Birthdays". I made up my mind to answer those three and then close the computer.

Later that day, there were a few more birthday hellos on Facebook. My @mentions on Twitter also had multiple birthday messages, many generated via the most incredible connector,  Sima Dahl (Twitterphobes, please skip the rest of this sentence) tweeting my birthday status to my wonderful friends in the #HT Army. At this point in the day, I decided to hold off answering until later that night.

I finally got the kids off to bed and spent some time with Gracie the wonder beagle. I made a cup of green tea and sat down to acknowledge the birthday wishers. Over an hour later, with 1/2 hour left to my birthday I closed my computer and went to bed. In all I had responded to 30 birthday greetings via Facebook and Twitter.

I was floored. My Facebook friends number less than 100, yet I had spent almost 2 hours that day thanking people for remembering me on my birthday. I got shouts from family, new friends (some that I've never met) and old friends going back to kindergarten. I heard from both coasts, got three messages from friends in Israel and even heard from my 1st crush.

I realize Facebook makes it very easy to remember birthdays. I also know it doesn't take very long to say "Greetings and Birthday Wishes" in it's many variations. Still, these little wishes helped me remember all the people that have made my life special and the good times we have shared. And yes, since it was my birthday it made me feel ... significant. Yup, I felt great and it didn't take more than a minute or two from my friends. See what a minute can do.

Has anyone made you feel great with just a moment of your time? Have you been the precipitator of good feelings with little effort on your part? How can these examples be incorporated into daily life?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marching Through Wet Concrete. (Part 2)

Yesterday's post was about my challenges in moving my agenda forward.  I left off retrieving a phone message on Saturday morning. I was correct. The voicemail was a message I would have preferred not receiving. The call was from my cousin. My uncle had died a few hours earlier.

It's important to understand I'm not great at staying in touch. I can go years weeks, months , years or longer without speaking to friends or relatives (Occasionally I wish I could achieve the same in my household). Sometimes I failed to follow up a call or email. Other times the other half failed to follow through. I'm not proud about not staying touch; I'm also not ashamed. I accept others for who they are and assume they do the same.

My uncle made it to 97 1/2. He was preceded in death by his wife approx 1.5 years ago. They were married for over 77 years. My uncle had 2 children, 4 grandchildren, at least 5 great grandchildren and nieces, nephews, greats and great-greats that appeared to number in the thousands. (His wife, my aunt was 1 of 5).  If my uncle left any copies of his "life-time contract" I'd like to sign up.

I can't claim to know my uncle intimately. That's on me and the whole "not great about staying in touch" stuff. Anyone that wanted to know my uncle just had to start with Hello. He would take it from there. What I know of him, I miss already.

He always had a smile and a story for anyone that wanted to listen. He had the gift of gab, a real kibitzer (the 21st Century word is networking. Yes it's the wrong form. Get over it.). I once watched him tell the story/joke of Pocayenta and Geronovitz in Yiddish, filling in the critical parts with gestures and bits of English. It's a shame that was at least 15 years before everyone had a camcorder on their cellphone. (Pocayenta and Geronovitz were referenced in an episode of Northern Exposure. Rob Morrow told the story in English. He did a crappy job.)

It's true my uncle could carry the load of a conversation but he also was a great listener. When we would catch up he would recount in great detail the accomplishments of my extended counterparts in the family. The best was listening him talk about his grandchildren, their steadies/spouses and the ensuing great grandchildren. The warmth of his pride resonated through the phone lines well into his 90's. Everyone should be blessed with someone like him in their life.

I share my uncle's sense of humor (droll and ironic),  liberal politics (he was an early volunteer for RFK) and in retrospect he probably shares my ADHD. My uncle served as the family eulogist. He first assumed that responsibility for my Dad, almost 45 years ago. Thank you for your patience in allowing me to close that loop. T'hay nishmato tzrur b'tzrur hachaim. Rest in peace.

Why spend more than 800 words over 2 days recalling my roadblocks? Because the roadblocks are vastly unimportant. What is important? I outlasted those impediments and I'm back in a mode (mood?) to achieve. I did it and will be called upon to overcome in the future. So it goes for all.

What about you? Any roadblocks lately? Share with the class, and include how you moved your agenda forward.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Marching Through Wet Concrete. (Part 1)

The last week of July was amazing for productivity. I posted M-F that week and felt very good about each post. Since then it feels as though each step is being taken carrying a 150 pound backpack. I'm not sure why.

Lack of posts for for the 1st week of August were not for lack of ideas. I had something all sketched out to start the week. That supposed to be Monday post appeared as Thursday's ROL on Friday Morning. A "Buy American" chain email pushed what was supposed to be posted Monday back to Friday, but "Buy American" didn't get up until Tuesday.  I needed to post at least one Trust 30 (70 days into a 30 day challenge and I have yet to reach 30 posts) which was going to be Wednesday but finally got up on Thursday. Luckily that week ended.

I sat down Saturday morning to do some research on Richard Dent. Dent was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. As a not yet future Hall of Famer, Dent lasted until the 8th round  of the 1983 draft and was Super Bowl MVP at the end of the 1985 season. Why was Dent overlooked in the entry draft? Dent was too light because of bad teeth. The Bears got him a dentist and the Bears got a Hall of Famer. The angle was about withholding judgement. Sometimes all it takes is something minor that will go unseen to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The post on Dent never got to draft stage. My cell phone rang on the main level of the house but I was in my lofftice. The area code on the missed call was from North Carolina. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like the message.

to be continued...

Friday, August 5, 2011

ROL: 1 Rule For Breaking Bloggers Block.

ROL (Return on Life) is about making small incremental changes that can greatly enhance quality of life. ROL is a qualitative measure modeled on the quantitative measure ROI (Return on Investment). This week's ROL is the only rule you'll ever need to break blogger's block (stay with me, I won't lead you astray).

You haven't been able to post to your blog all week. You've tried everything: Looking out the window, reading other blogs, walking away, staying put and you got nothing. Never fear. In this case you only have to remember 1 rule:
You have no rules.
It really is that simple. It's your blog, do as you see fit. You make the rules, you can break the rules. For example:
A Blog Should Be Well Organized, With A Beginning, A Middle and an End.
Yes, a blog should be well organized with clear linear thinking. At least that's how a blog should be when things are moving along. When you're out of topics or can't string together 5 words to make a coherent sentence, try something different. Start at the end and work to the beginning. That technique is used all the time on 1 hour TV dramas.  Better yet start in the middle, like the 1st page of a four page letter didn't get into the envelope. Why not write the intro and body and have your readers write the conclusion. Mix it up. Remember:
You have no rules.
A Blog Should Be Easy On The Eyes.
It's hard to entice readers if your blog creates eye strain. Concepts should be short, sweet and properly punctuated. It's a good thing Edward Estlin Cummings never wrote a blog. eecummingsdidntalwaysusepuntuationandoccasionallyarrangedhispoemsinshapestomakehispoint.  e.e.cummings didn't seem overly concerned about the rules. It's also important to blog in measured tones. In line with a texting convention, WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS CONSIDERED THE SAME AS YELLING.
NO ONE WANTS TO BE YELLED AT, SO IT'S A BAD IDEA TO PUT EVERYTHING IN CAPS. Except of course if you can't find a way to communicate your thoughts. Find a topic that makes you want to yell and SCREAM TO YOUR READERS.

You may be thinking the title starts with the words "1 Rule" and there is more than one rule listed. Note: Italics are used to convey something important.
You have no rules.
But I Don't Care About Blogging.
Hey Barry, you say ROL is about making incremental life changes. You don't expect me to pick up on your Social Media Meshugas and start a blog? What does any of this have to do with me?

Many of the bloggers help tips I have read also apply to life in general. Just as bloggers occasionally reach an impasse, life sometimes get stalled. When that happens, remember:
You have no rules.
This isn't license to drink and drive or internet date jr. high schoolers. That's dangerous,anti-social and criminal. Still, many of the rules we all choose to live by are nothing more than self-imposed limitations. In many cases self-imposed limitations are good. Self-imposed limitations are indicative of adult behavior. But sometimes it's good to act like a kid. So when you find yourself stuck in a rut, change things up. Don't self impose a couple of limitations. Everything will be okay. The sky won't fall. You'll be back in gear.

What do you do to shake things up? Any rules that need to be broken? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson Trust 30 Challenge: Ordinary Isn't.

This Trust 30 prompt is from Patti Digh, based on this quote from Master Emerson:
Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.
Good, bad, simple, complex, extraordinary, commonplace: These are merely words.  These words can be self-descriptive and at the same time self-limiting. By striving to be the smartest kid in class I ignore day to day consistency.  It is day to day that is superb but greatness which is merely mundane.

Get Your Head Out Of The Locker Room.
Taking a quick peak in the gym locker room and making a comparison: biceps, quads, lats, perhaps something non-musculature.  I know it's a guy thing, perhaps it runs in the other locker room, too. "Wow, does he have a license for that thing? Walking around, showing off. Does anyone care about his new Jag? Still, if I had me one of those..." Such thought is an absolute waste of time. I am gifted with what I have and it's the same for everyone else. Someone will always have stronger, bigger, faster, better. It's up to me to achieve with my list of talents. When size envy or speed doubt start to take hold remember: When one of our 5 senses is weak or non-functioning, the remaining senses grow stronger in order to compensate.

Life Is A Movie. Today, Merely A Snapshot.
It's so easy to consider all the things I have yet to achieve. After all, when my to-do list is completely to-done, I am to-done also. Wanting to gain a new skill after mastering the last task is a good thing. Still, I'm not what I'm striving for, I'm what I am. The list of what I want to accomplish will usually be much longer than the list of what I have completed. Yet, it's what I have already accomplished that is my go-to list for what I want to achieve. Until I run out of tomorrows I may get there yet, today.

I'm Not The First. That's No Big Deal.
In this day and age, it's commonly understood that those we choose for a life partner have a history that precedes the joint relationship. The exception is marrying a blood relative in which case stop reading, we can't find common ground. It's understandable to be slightly uncomfortable with the previous history of a life partner. Still, we move forward based on on our unique perspective and how we will create a new history moving into the future. The same applies to any other project. It's not important that someone else has already completed the project, it's what we bring to the project in it's current iteration that is significant. Don't want to do or write  date something that's already been done or written? That's as ludicrous as not dating someone because they've already been on a date.
Ordinary or Special?
Each morning everyone wakes up, puts feet on the floor and rises to begin a new day. The moment immediately before gaining consciousness, nothing matters. Who I'm not, where I'm not going or what has been completed before me is inconsequential. What is critical is taking my skill set and my history and using it to perfect the tasks in front of me. Everyone faces the same challenge, just another ordinary day. It's that moment, waking with a clean slate that makes the day special. Special isn't ordinary.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Uncle Sam Wants You.


I received a chain email over the weekend, urging me to buy American from August 1-August 31. The email cites a Diane Sawyer special report  about the economic benefits of buying American made products. The email specifically targets Wal-Mart and China. The email also suggests that that if 200 million Americans declined to purchase merely $20 of goods made in China, that single joint activity would reverse a billion dollar trade imbalance. The email concludes asking for a commitment to celebrate Made in America from August 1- September 1, specifically seeking out American made options for routine purchases. I think it's an idea worth improving, don't you?


Some ground rules: No more targets or bogeymen. China isn't inherently evil, neither are any of the Super Big Box Marts. The fact is our economy is struggling and it is both simple and patriotic to seek out products that provide the biggest bang for the buck to the US economy. The job you save could be your neighbor's...or your own.


The first Labor Day celebration was held in Boston in 1878. Labor Day was rushed through Congress in 1894 to begin the healing after the violent Pullman strike. Although there hasn't been recent violence today's economy is certainly painful for many. America faces an ongoing trade imbalance and budget deficit. You or I can't fix it ourselves but working together we can help close the gap.  Is there a better way to honor the American worker than buying American?


Labor Day is celebrated annually the 1st Monday in September. This year Labor Day will be September 5, roughly 5 weeks from today. For the next 5 weeks pick 1 staple and find a way to substitute an American made product. Starting in September find 1 purchase a month to exchange for a product made in America. Pass the idea to your friends. Sit back and imagine how much nicer Labor Day, 2012 can be with a small change in awareness and buying behavior.


Don't do this quietly. Tell your friends and neighbors. Post your product exchanges as a comment or via "Crowdsourcing A Good Life" either on the site or Facebook page. Have an entrepreneurial spirit? Contact me via FB, Twitter or LinkedIn and let's set up a Facebook site together. We can make a difference, all it takes is action.