Category Archives: Randomness

Lenten Challenge: After Nine Days

I’m currently on Day Nine of my Lenten Challenge. Nine days without using Facebook or Twitter. I wanted to share a little bit about how that’s been going.

First, Twitter. This one has been easier to give up. Not many of my close friends use Twitter, and most of the ones that do also duplicate their posts on Facebook. So I’m not missing a lot of valuable content. Sure, I’m missing out on a lot of conversations I might have missed otherwise, but most of them don’t really concern me, and are nothing that I really need to spend my time thinking about. The thing I’ve missed most about Twitter is the ability to easily contact some of the brands that I use every day, for example Roku and Comcast. These days, Twitter is one of the best ways to get support for products and services. I’ve also missed Twitter’s ability to bring people over to read my blog entries. Although we do offer an RSS feed of our blog entries, many people have abandoned RSS newsreaders these days in favor of gathering their news from Twitter. If I’m not posting updates on Twitter, then many people probably don’t know that I’m blogging. Yes, I do know that many of my friends from Build Guild have daily conversations on Twitter, and although I’m probably missing out on some of that, I’ll be looking forward to seeing them even more at next month’s event.

Second, Facebook. This one has been harder. More of my close friends and family are on Facebook. Rebecca and I and our friends and family rely more on Facebook to share family news and information. So I’m definitely missing the ability to stay up to date on what’s going on in everyone’s lives. To be fair, I did keep two Facebook features active – I’m a member of the Ericsson’s baby updates group, and I elected to continue receiving updates from that group since I really did want to know when their baby was born and what his name was (welcome, Levi!). I also get messages sent to a Facebook group for the young married couples group I’m involved with at Dane Street. I’ll also look over Rebecca’s shoulder if she wants to show me something specific on Facebook. But other than that, I haven’t visited the Facebook site on my own.

So far, I think the biggest benefit this challenge has had has been the reduction of distraction in my daily life. I already have enough to handle, with my responsibilities at work and at home. I already have social groups to interact with in a face-to-face setting at work, at home, and at church. Throw into the mix scanning updates from hundreds of people dozens of times per day, and I’d be getting far more input than I can really handle. Sure, I might get an endorphin boost from scanning all of that news, and it may create a feeling of excitement, but after that, it’s a bit of a letdown. I feel mentally quieter, and I feel that I’m able to give more attention to my immediate responsibilities: my work during the day, and my family on the evenings and weekends. I’m still searching for more ways to enhance the time that I have taken back from Twitter and Facebook, although I think the biggest realization has been that there is plenty for me to do already, if I’d just stop and take notice of it.

Rebecca has pointed out to me that giving something up entirely, especially something that isn’t required for survival, is much, much easier than doing it in moderation. It’s easy for me to simply say that I’m giving up Facebook and Twitter entirely. It makes decisions much simpler. Do I check Facebook or Twitter now? No. How about later? No. However, I do think that it’s a good starting point to clear the decks and make a fresh start after the Lenten challenge. At that point, the new challenge will be how to reintegrate these media into my life in a meaningful and balanced way. I hope to be more intentional about how I use them, and I’ll definitely have to exercise more self-control and discretion.

I also think that I’ll probably end up unfollowing some people on Twitter and unfriending some people on Facebook. Not because I dislike these people, but because I simply feel the need to focus more on the people who are really more a part of my daily life. I am a bit worried about doing this, however, because it seems that people have really started to believe that followership on Twitter or friendship on Facebook are as weighty and important as real-life friendships. I think this point is still up for debate, and the way people use social media is constantly evolving. But for my own personal usage, I’d rather start to see Facebook and Twitter more as extensions of real-life, face-to-face friendships, something that is added on to what I’ve already experienced and cultivated. I realize that for people who have been raised on Facebook, there may be less of a distinction there – you probably don’t have many friends who you met in real life first, and didn’t friend on Facebook until after you got to know them. You probably friended them on Facebook as soon as you met them, and it’s been one and the same ever since. And in the past two years or so, there are quite a few people who I’ve met in real life for the first time, only to add them to Facebook shortly after. Perhaps I’ll try to delay the friending process until I’ve had some more time to get to know them. Who knows, I may even end up adding some new people to my network – people who I’ve known for a while but haven’t connected with online.

I still have 36 more days to go in this challenge. Quite a long time, to be sure. Perhaps my feelings will change during that time. Maybe I’ll have more revelations, or try some new things. Maybe I’ll change my opinions or backtrack on some of the grandiose statements I made above. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this Lenten season brings.

I’d love to hear from my readers. Are you fasting from anything for Lent? Do you have any thoughts on my challenge? Do you miss me on Facebook and Twitter? 🙂

Using shared email accounts?

Something that I don’t quite understand is when two people use a shared email address for both of their email communications. Most often I see a husband and wife who have an account together. I know that several of our family members use such shared accounts, so I’m certainly not trying to pick on anyone. I’m more curious than anything. Why, when it’s so easy and free to sign up for an individual email account, do some people prefer to share one? I can think of some pros and cons to sharing an email account:

Pros:

  • Ensures that email messages sent to one person are always read by the other (avoids forgetting to tell your spouse about an email you received).
  • Provides a single point of contact for friends and family members wishing to get a hold of the entire family.
  • Only one place to look to find email messages sent to your family.
  • May provide some measure of accountability by not allowing spouse/family members to receive unauthorized/secret email (though they could always secretly sign up for a separate account if they wanted to).

Cons:

  • Lack of privacy/secrecy for reading email messages. What if you want to plan a surprise party, via email, for one spouse without the other one knowing? Or purchase a gift for the other person and receive the receipt in secret?
  • Confusion as to the intended recipient, both incoming and outgoing. If I’m reading your email, and you forgot to sign your name, how do I know who it’s coming from? And if you’re reading an email I sent to you, but I forgot to address it to someone, how do you know who it’s for? Contextual clues might help at times, but not always.
  • Clutter in the inbox. Takes extra time to sort through messages. May result in many messages being unnecessarily read twice.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who does use a shared email account. Why do you do it, and how do you manage things?

As an aside, Rebecca and I do have separate email addresses, but we also have a separate third address that other people can use if they want to email both of us. However, it’s not a separate account that we both check; rather, it is an email forwarding alias, so it simply sends a copy of the message to each of our individual accounts.

Solo week update

  • Sunday: cleaned up house, worked on some financial stuff, did some blogging. Did a bit of photography around the house. Result: Study of an empty house.
  • Monday night: watched Hitman. Actually pretty good. A few cheesy bits and some totally unnecessary nudity, but otherwise a fun action film. Also didn’t have to pay for it thanks to a Redbox promo code. Played around with some website ideas.
  • Tuesday night: watched X-Men: The Last Stand. Terrible. Terrible. Magneto moving the Golden Gate Bridge to get to Alcatraz? Are you kidding me? At least I didn’t have to put Becky through watching it. Can’t believe it got 7/10 on IMDB.
  • Tonight: Taking care of some paperwork and filing, exploring Muxtape, Twittering, surfing, possibly playing around with more website ideas.
  • Tomorrow night: no plans as yet.
  • Friday: Have the day scheduled off work. Plan was to take a photo excursion. However, I seem to have picked a day that is forecast for an 80% chance of rain. So we’ll see what happens.
  • Saturday: The ladies get home. Hooray!

Collegial

I have many fond memories of college, but end-of-term cramming and projects were not two of them. Over the past few days, I’ve noticed a decidedly tense air around the internet, whether via Tweets on Twitter, Facebook status updates, AIM status messages, or various blogs and websites. It’s apparently that time on the academic calendar.

Best wishes to all of you students out there. Hopefully you can get everything out of the way and have at least a somewhat relaxing holiday!

Good Quotes

I received the latest issue of Good Magazine today, and it had some really great quotes that I thought I’d share:

Although human subtlety makes a variety of inventions by different means to the same end, it will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple, or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.

R. Buckminster Fuller

We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.

Albert Einstein

Happenings and News

This week I was back to work, after last week’s work-related trip to Portland, Oregon. I attended the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, where I took some classes and attended some sessions to try and gain some useful new information for my work in web development at CBD.

You can see some more pics from the conference and Portland here.

I had some free time after the convention had ended, so I took what I’m sure must have been the world’s shortest trip to Seattle, Washington. Having never been there, I figured I would rent a car and drive up for a quick visit, but what should have been just a three hour drive ended up being a bit over five hours due to a diesel spill that blocked all four lanes of I-5 North. So I ended up arriving around 6 p.m. and leaving just after 9 p.m. to head back to Portland. I got to see the Space Needle, ride the Seattle Center Monorail, visit the Science Fiction Museum / Experience Music Project, and that’s about it! I’ll just consider it a fact-finding mission for when our family has the opportunity to take a real trip to Seattle. It definitely appeared to be worth at least one nice long visit.

You can see some more pics from Seattle here.

In present news, we continue to work on the greenifying of our lifestyles, as Rebecca has written. We’re also continuing the work on renovating our condo; while both of us were away, we had a contractor come and renovate our deck. We now have a nice, safe, sturdy new deck, which should add to the value of our home and provide extensive enjoyment for our family. I’ll get some photos of it up once we have cleared away some of the supplies from various projects we’re working on. The next big things will be to turn our basement into usable living space, and to put in an inside staircase from the first floor to the basement.

My parents and sister and brother-in-law are going to be coming out to visit soon, and before we know it, August will be over and we’ll be moving on to the busy wedding season of September!

As for Catherine updates, I think I’m going to post some of those over on my sadly-neglected daddy blog, so stay tuned there for more details!

That I might catch you up

Last Thursday, we were in Jamaica Plain with Jenny and Griff for the Forest Hills Lantern Festival. We had only gone once before, a few years ago, and we told ourselves that the next time we had to bring some friends along. And so we did! It turned out to be a great night: walking amongst the crowds of friendly folk, listening to an eclectic selection of live music, and watching performances of Asian dance, music, and martial arts of various types. The culmination of the evening was the launching of the lanterns from the shores of Lake Hibiscus. Truly a beautiful evening.

Lanterns on Lake Hibiscus

You can find more photos here.

Last night, we took up Christine‘s invitation to see the Rebel Shakespeare Company put on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The performance was originally scheduled for Thursday night, but was rained out. Yesterday, the weather was perfect, and Christine’s daughter Jess was terrific as Nick Bottom. The performance was the culmination of an intensive month-long workshop, in which Jess had participated. We also enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with Christine. It was Rebecca and Catherine’s first opportunity to meet her, and only my second opportunity after a brief and unexpected meeting at CBD.

Jess as the Donkified Nick Bottom

I have an extensive selection of additional photos from the evening here.

This weekend, Rebecca, Catherine and I are parting ways. R and C left this morning to head down to Martha’s Vineyard for a week with Nonni. I will be leaving on Sunday afternoon for Portland, Oregon for the O’Reilly Open Source Convention. CBD sends a few of us out every year to take some tutorials and learn cool new stuff. Hopefully it will prove to be a useful and fun trip. If I have time, I’ll blog a bit while I’m out there.

Adios!

March Madness

I know, March is over, but I wanted to highlight some of the craziness from the month:

  • March 2-8: Tried to figure out how to satisfy the master insurance requirements to close on our condo, since we couldn’t get in touch with the other unit owner to find the actual master insurance policy. Ended up taking our our own provisional master insurance policy until we are able to obtain the info on the policy our condo fee is paying for.
  • March 6: Becky’s camera, a Canon PowerShot A530, stopped holding its battery charge. We sent it in to Canon for in-warranty repair.
  • March 7: I had a dentist appointment to fill three cavities.
  • March 9: We closed on our condo. The one hour we spent at the closing procedure was probably the easiest part of the whole deal.
  • March 10: First day of work on the condo.
  • March 11-30: Many days (for Becky and Catherine) and evenings (for the three of us) of work on the condo and trips to Home Depot, IKEA, etc.
  • March 11: Over at the condo, I dropped my Panasonic DMC-FZ20 * digital camera on the floor and the lens ceased to function. Unfortunately, it is out of warranty, and in any case, the warranty wouldn’t cover accidental damage. Luckily, it is scheduled under our homeowner’s insurance policy, which does cover accidental damage, so I sent it off for a repair estimate. Becky’s camera hadn’t arrived back yet, so we were without a digital camera for a few days.
  • March 13: Consultation with oral surgeon regarding one of my wisdom teeth that had erupted. Scheduled an appointment to extract said wisdom tooth.
  • March 14: Becky’s camera was returned and was functioning normally once again.
  • March 20-23: My dad flew out from Ohio for a few days to help us out with the condo.
  • March 21: I had another dentist appointment to fill two more cavities.
  • March 22: I had my wisdom tooth extraction. They only had to remove one tooth, and it had already erupted from the gum, so it was pretty much a five-minute deal under local anesthetic. Grab the tooth, yank it out, done. Still, the anxiety before the appointment was more than enough.
  • March 24: Went to Jenny‘s Pseudo-St. Patrick’s Day Party.
  • March 26: Catherine turned 10 months old!
  • March 26-30: Last week for cleaning up and packing up in the old apartment.
  • March 31: Ken, Dianne, Corey, Becky, and Peter did a blitz to move everything from the old apartment to the new condo. Catherine mostly slept or watched. It took two trips in a 12-foot Penske truck, plus a few carloads, to get everything over. By the end of the day, Catherine’s room was all set for her to sleep in, we had our toiletries out, and we had a bed made to sleep in. The real tasks of unpacking would begin the following day(s)…

Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the all kinds of busy I was at work during the month. With all of that, it certainly made for a mad March. Now we’re starting to settle in, finish unpacking, and relax a bit before the next phase of our project, finishing off the basement. Hopefully we’ll be able to blog some more, and share more about the house, life, and everyone’s favorite ten-month-old, Catherine. 🙂

*I did eventually get the camera back on April 9. Repairs cost $400 (a new camera would cost $600) which will be fully covered by our homeowner’s insurance. If you have any cameras or computer equipment that are even moderately expensive, scheduling them under your homeowner’s insurance is a very good idea. It’s incredibly cheap (less than $20 per year for our ‘big’ camera, camcorder, and all of our computer equipment) and by scheduling it, you don’t pay a deductible if you have a claim.