Being An Introvert On Twitter

This year has seen a lot of bad news concerning Facebook and online privacy. The drum beat of anti-social media has grown louder. You’d think scrolling a
newsfeed is like smoking cigarettes. Perish the thoughtcrime!

On some level I think that’s an apt description. Like maybe Brave New World is coming true. Or 1984. Or both. Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death? To some degree. But I don’t want to over-amplify suspicions of dystopia.

Social media does have some benefits, right? It’s not all bad. Convenience and connection come to mind. I know that’s debatable. And I think whether the good outweighs the bad is ultimately an individual decision. Yet when the anti-social drum beats loudly, it sounds like many agree the bad overshadows the good, if there is any at all. Personally, I go back and forth.

When I deleted Facebook and Instagram earlier this year, I kept Twitter.

Being the biggest and most influential of all, Facebook gets most of the heat. It’s well deserved based on the ill news reports of privacy disregard and misinformation campaigns. But Twitter also gets a fair share of backlash.

The tweeting bird icon is cute, but Twitter’s been described less favorably: cesspool of toxic human waste, vitriolic garbage fire, hellscape. Sounds harsh! And I think I can see why; I’ve heard pretty bad things about the negativity there: trolls, unfiltered comments, blocking people, and the like.

Maybe I’m a bit naive, but fortunately so far, my experience as a ‘nobody’ on Twitter has been far better than that. Maybe it’s because my follower/following counts are so low: just double digits. But that’s fine with me. I wouldn’t say I’m a heavy user of Twitter. But I like it. Why?

In general, Twitter’s design and function on the web and iOS app is simple, clean, and elegant when compared to Facebook. The user interaction is minimal. Only 140 (now 280) characters of text! A few buttons here and there, a few features. That’s it. On the surface, it seems easy to grasp.

The whole Twitter etiquette thing may be less easy to grasp as I’m sure I’ve broken it before; I try to not spam or overuse #hashtags or @replies. But I think this is due to my slow grokking rather than poor design of the service.

Even though I’ve had little engagement on Twitter with other users, it’s actually been nice. Quality over quantity. People have been polite, sincere and helpful or encouraging. So my guess is it depends largely on who you follow and how many people or brands you keep up with.

A specific insight I think I’ve had on why I like Twitter is this: it may be a place where introverts can feel like extroverts at the party. That might sound dopey, so I’ll try to explain.

Introverts like myself generally don’t do well at parties or other social gatherings of humans. I’ll speak for myself; I’m not good at saying witty, funny, or intelligent things on the fly. In fact, it’s hard to say those kinds of things even in writing where I have time to think before I speak!

On Twitter, I think introverts can sort of feel like they’re “part of the conversation.” They can throw in their two-cents worth of deep thoughts in a succinct-pithy-partial-paragraph. Or even just silly banter. We can be ourselves without worry because the awkwardness of close physical proximity is absent!

Granted, the lack of physical proximity, and worse, the ability to remain anonymous if one so chooses, both allow or enable all kinds of the bad behavior Twitter is infamous for.

Introverts can follow/be followed relatively easily, “hang-out” with peers or keep company with prominent figures and have a semblance of connection. (Of course I’m presupposing authenticity and all that.)

Where else can I easily express my fondness of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with others? Well, I could blog about it here I guess, but I doubt Dunkin’ would notice. On Twitter, they’re likely to engage with me with a retweet supporting their brand. But I digress.

If it turns out that a majority of people agree social media is more trouble than its worth or is detrimental to our mental health enough to require a surgeon general’s warning, then I’ll probably quit not just Facebook but also Twitter. Like switching from Camel Wides to Marlboro Lights won’t cut it. You gotta quit smoking altogether.

As one can breath air without inhaling ciagarette smoke, one can communicate without social media.

Anyways, I couldn’t fit all that in a tweet. So I blogged it. And I’ll share the link on Twitter.

What are your thoughts?

A Tech Hero Quits Facebook

Venerable tech veteran Walt Mossberg announced he’s
quitting Facebook after 12 years of socializing there. But does this news really matter?

First, I applaud Mossberg’s decision. More power to him. He’s doing what he thinks is best. And frankly, my opinion is that we should all probably quit Facebook. More on that later.

That said, I think his quitting does and doesn’t matter. Let me explain.

It Matters

It matters because of who Mossberg is. Given his particular credentials and long history in the tech industry, his quitting says a lot about Facebook as a tech product or service.

Despite the many years of trouble for Facebook with its frequent privacy scandals, Mossberg weathered all those storms and kept his account open.

Until now.

So Mossberg, who I take as a very level-headed down-to-earth guy, has said enough is enough. And if he says that’s it for him, then we should seriously rethink our own Facebook accounts.

It Doesn’t Matter

I think Mossberg’s departure matters; at least it should. But in the end, I don’t think it will have much affect on either Facebook or those who use it. In that sense, his quitting doesn’t matter.

Also, because other high-profile people have quit Facebook without really causing change, I don’t see why Mossberg’s quitting will be any different despite his admirable influence.

Quitting Is Hard

Facebook is like a drug. It’s easy to quit… I’ve done it several times. Then I go on a social bender and re-friend everyone. Right.

I see just two basic reasons why people will quit using a drug like Facebook.

One, they finally realize it’s killing them; they must quit or die. And the harm of continued use outweighs the harm of the struggle to quit.

And the other reason: you find a better drug to replace the one you’re hooked on.

I think this latter reason is the most likely way Facebook will fade away. People will find new and better social fixes.

And I think, or hope, it won’t be a “better Facebook.” I think it may not even be social media as we know it.

In a similar way that online networking evolved from the blogosphere to social media, I think there will be, or needs to be, a fundamental shift away from social media to a new paradigm.

What that might look like, I’m not sure. But I bet someone is cooking it up in a lab to capitalize on the growing social media backlash. If you build it, they will come, right? (Nevermind Google+.)

The Web Itself Is The Social Network

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about social media versus the blogosphere. To help distinguish them, the term social network is synonymous with social media, whereas I refer to the blogosphere as ‘online networking’. But today I discovered something that clarifies and simplifies this latter term.

Online networking is simply…the internet! I kind of knew that already, but I didn’t know how to articulate it in a way that helped distinguish it from social media, you know, the walled-gardens and silos that seemed to evolve from blogging.

The discovery I made today is called, which led me to the site inessential by Brent Simmons. There, I found a statement that shed more light on the subject:

“ is not an alternative silo: instead, it’s what you build when you believe that the web itself is the great social network.” Brent Simmons –

The web itself is the great social network. This is music to my ears! Or poetry. You get what I’m saying.

In a discussion about the latest Facebook privacy scandal and the ills of social media in general, I heard someone mention as an alternative to Twitter. I like Twitter, and I like new tech things. So I had to check it out. That’s when I found the distinction above: is not an alternative silo.

Earlier, I published a blog post about Walt Mossberg quitting Facebook. In it, I wondered what new social paradigm might replace social media as we know it.

On top of that, in a post I wrote last week, I suggested that the blogosphere, or at least the best parts of it, could be the best alternative to social media, perhaps in an updated form.

At first glance, seems to be an incredible fit to all of this.

It sort of encapsulates a way to have independent blogs (a bit of the past from the blogosphere) and a common “stream” or “feed” where everyone’s blog posts can appear (a bit of the present from social media) for a modern combo of online networking.

Like the best of both worlds, maybe takes the positive benefits of blogging and Facebooking, leaves out the bad parts, and refines them into a bit of the future alternative we may all need online.

This is all my first impressions and some speculation I guess. But it’s intriguing. And worth looking into. I mean, does this not sound pretty awesome?

“Instead of yet another social network, is designed to work with the open web. It’s built on RSS and independent microblogs. It’s about pulling together short posts and making them more useful and easier to interact with. It prioritizes both a safe community of microblogs as well as the freedom to post to your own site.”Manton Reece

After 2018’s social media problems, maybe 2019 is the time to move on from things like Facebook once and for all.

Anxious To Read

Before last night, I’m pretty sure I had never heard of bibliotherapy. I discovered this term in
a very interesting article related to anxiety and books at a website I like, goodereader.

Apparently, the year 2018 has been a big one for the popularity of books related to mental health, especially anxiety and depression. To me, that shouldn’t be surprising news, but it kind of is.

In the past three months, I read three mental health books: the first on anxiety, the second on depression, and the third covered both topics! What a coincidence, right? As one who has struggled with anxiety, I looked for ways to cope with it and just to feel I’m not alone.

With the increase of anxiety, in the USA especially, it makes me wonder what the cause is. Why do so many more people seem to be struggling with it?

Of course, I don’t know what the cause is and can only speculate. But for what it’s worth, I’ll throw some of my guesses out there.

I think it’s a combo of several factors: unsettling and unsatisfying bipartisan politics and the apparent degradation of integrity in our government, the negative impact on our brains by distraction from our device screens, and the fall-out from lack of internet security and privacy, especially on social media. To name a few, oh, kind of big things.

Now, if I can discover a book that neatly packages up all these ideas on our current American culture and status, that might be a good read for 2019.

Besides being educational or entertaining, reading, it seems, can be therapeutic. I think that’s great, and I do find reading to be relaxing. It also makes me wonder about writing since it seems that it can be cathartic, especially private journaling.

Online Networkings Future In The Past

Social media was supposed to be awesome. Until it wasn’t. 
In another recent act of backlash against social media, Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. Instapundit, Blogfather) deleted his Twitter account and published the story online. (I credit Cal Newportfor the link to the USA Today op-ed.)

I like what Reynolds had to say in general about blogging. But I also like Twitter. So allow me to blog about it (and publish this post link in a Tweet – a bit of irony?).

Walled garden vs wild landscape

Reynolds wrote:
“The ‘walled garden’ character they [social media] create is the antithesis of the traditional Internet philosophy of openness.”
Agreed. I tried to explain that earlier this year in Celebrating The Blog. Instead of ‘open,’ I called blogs ‘independent.’

Unaggregated personal blogs were the nexus of online networking before social media arrived. The early web and blogosphere was like a wild landscape of opportunity, but it didn’t attract everyone like the wall-garden of social media.

I think it’s safe to say that more and more people these days are pointing out that there are a lot of weeds inside the garden, choking out any of the benefits. No wonder they’re climbing out in search of greener pastures. Will those pastures be a return to a thriving blogosphere, or is there something else on the horizon?

Click the link and interact

“To read content on blogs, readers had to go there. To interact, bloggers had to read each other’s sites and decide to post a response, generally with a link back to the post they were replying to.”
I’m quite fond of these blogging basics and their simplicity. In the web’s nascent days, it was all about hyperlinks; they were everywhere. It’s how connecting, networking, and interaction happened before everyone mindlessly scrolled a social feed or stream.

This response I’m typing starts with a link back to Reynold’s article. It’s not just for citation reference; it’s so you can click and go read Reynold’s op-ed and understand the context of what I’m communicating here.

The blogosphere is about links. Social media is about likes.

Now that social media has consumed the masses, people don’t click links so much anymore, I guess. We scroll feeds. We click ‘likes.’

I revolted against Facebook, deleting my account more than once. I also deleted Twitter once. But I always return.

To me, there are still enough positive benefits in using social media. But I am aware of the negative stuff, so I keep my usage in check (moderation is key). And I also get why people are burned out on social sites like Twitter, which has been called it a vitriolic dumpster fire. (But how do people really feel?)

Back to the blog

“This isn’t a call for banning Twitter. But it is a suggestion that maybe our time is better spent elsewhere.”
-Glenn Reynolds

Having deleted his Twitter account and praised the benefits of the blogosphere, Reynolds seems to suggest that’s where our online time may be best spent; that sounds good to me.

Before I started Jason Journals, I seriously debated between committing to Blogger or WordPress as my blog platform. I still love Blogger, but WordPress won me over.

Individual blogs reflect individual persons

One feature of WordPress is the Reader. It aggregates individual blogs or topics you follow into a stream with ‘like’ and ‘comment’ buttons. It’s convenient and useful, but I’ve considered giving it up. Instead, I may only visit individual blog sites – like old times!

What I like about this idea is the draw of unique blogs. I described this on Celebrating The Blog. Basically, individual blogs reflect individual persons. But social media strips everyone’s personality.

I love Reynolds’ ending:
“Since I got off Twitter, I’ve filled the downtime I used to fill with tweeting by going what I did pre-Twitter, reading novels on the Kindle app on my phone. It’s better, and I’m happier.”
Likewise, besides blogging, I love reading on my Kindle. In fact, I have a blog post in draft about it; that’s for a future post.

The Blogosphere Can Thrive

One of my favorite blogs is Study Hacks by Cal Newport. After reading his latest post, “On Blogs in the Social Media Age,” I was sparked. He makes an interesting distinction between the blogosphere and social media today.

The Blogosphere Survives

Newport’s blog post title itself is noteworthy. Blogs do still exist in the social media age! They are alive and well despite social media’s ubiquity. And the difference between blogging and social media is something I tried to put my finger on earlier this year in my post Celebrating The Blog.
Post vs Tweet friction

Summarizing a USA Today article by Glenn Reynolds, Newport talks about how blogs have more “friction of posting” than social media. As an example, writing a short sentence tweet on Twitter is relatively quick and easy. And Re-tweets spread rapidly with zero friction.

This made me think how some blogging platforms also have a re-blog feature akin to retweets. On WordPress, a ‘reblog’ button can be enabled.

But unlike what some call the vitriolic dumpster fire that is Twitter, fueled by the “frictionless” retweeting, WordPress is civilized, a paragon of online publishing.

Although WordPress has a Reader that aggregates blogs you follow and has ‘like’ and ‘comment’ buttons, it does not feature the ‘reblog’ button. And I don’t recall seeing the reblog button on actual WordPress blogs that I visit. So reblogging is not a prominent mechanic, unlike Twitter retweets.

Blogs in general do not seem designed to rapidly spread the content that is created on them. That it takes more time and thought to write and publish a blog is one factor in the slow pace of posting.

This slow down or added friction is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact it is good.

Internet friction

Case in point, Justin Koslynn recently wrote on Motherboard how and why the internet needs more friction.

Koslynn wrote:
“The same design philosophy that accelerated the flow of correspondence, news, and commerce also accelerates the flow of phishing, ransomware, and disinformation.”
This unbiased flow, with its lack of friction, is great because it allows good info to spread at whatever pace the respective web platforms are designed to allow. But it’s not great because it also spreads bad data just as easily and quickly.

Koslynn concluded:
“The philosophy of the Internet has assumed that friction is always part of the problem, but often friction can be central to the solution.”
So friction can be good – if implemented well.

Content creation

Returning to Newport’s article and the idea of “friction of posting,” he mentions that social media lowers the bar for what “content creation” requires, which has its benefits.

I agree there are benefits, but like Newport, I find more value in blogging as “content creation.” In fact, the inherent “friction” itself is a benefit.

That friction is the blogging process. It takes time and thought to be both creative and productive. Like a steak gaining flavor by marinating in savory juices, the creative process calls one to immerse cognitively in the work.

It’s a process in which the journey is as important as the destination.

The craft of writing, the challenge of organizing thoughts, selecting good corresponding blog images, and tweaking the blog itself in both its appearance and functionality – all these add up to a deep and enriching experience.

For me, I get the satisfaction of simply creating and publishing. As one who likes to think and write, a finished post – by itself –is satisfying.

In addition, as icing on the cake, it is fulfilling when people then read and leave quality feedback or thoughtful comments. From that, good conversation can spring out, which is worth far more than just a passing ‘like.’

And that brings us to the idea of attention.

Attention for interaction

Newport’s article sparked me to question the idea of blogging for readership in the first place. Is it a given that, as a blogger, I am trying to attract attention to my blog (or to myself)? Also, am I competing against other bloggers on posting the same topics, or am I complimenting them by joining the conversation, adding my voice to the chorus?

In short, I do want attention, but not so much like on social media where one simply wants affirmation or validation (although that is nice). The blogosphere attracts me because attention, I hope, will lead to interaction on a level that’s deeper than on social media. I want conversation and discussion, which make a better connection with others.

I try not to be all about numbers; I try to be all about words. I am writing after all. And connecting with others through comments often leads to short but meaningful conversation. Feedback in the blogosphere tends to be about quality over quantity. Like blog posts versus tweets, paragraphs, not just sentences.
Signal to noise ratio

Lastly, echoing off Newport here:
“As any serious blog consumer can attest, a carefully curated blog feed, covering niches that matter to your life, can provide substantially more value than the collectivist ping-ponging of likes and memes that make up so much of social media interaction.”
“…in the blogosphere it’s easy to filter these [bad blogs] from the more serious contributors that…distinguish themselves as worthwhile.”
These two statements bring up a problem on social media. The dictating algorithms and abundance of banal blurbs, memes, sponsored posts, etc, create a steady stream of noise. The signal, good stuff like original thoughts, is often missing or indiscernible.

The blogosphere, due to its open and loose design and higher quality original content, is better at delivering greater signal with less noise.
The blogosphere can thrive

I am hopeful that blogging will make some sort of renaissance or resurgence. Given the increased negative backlash towards social media, maybe it will decline enough to allow the blogosphere to thrive and not just survive.

Update: The Reader does have a reblog option, but 1) it is within the share button, 2) it is not a “reblog” button but rather just shows your own blog to share to, and 3) it is only available in the Reader via the web browser; it is not available in the iOS app where I use the Reader. I have reached out to WordPress about adding a reblog button to Reader in the iOS app. Also, after checking some blogs I follow outside the reader, I was surprised to see the Reblog button on several next to the like button. I must overlook it! It still seems that reblogging on WordPress is not a prominent feature or is simply seldom used. For more info check here, here, and here.

Update 12/14/18: WordPress responded about reblogging inReader. Again, it seems reblogging is not a prominent feature. Instead, it seems good ‘ol fashioned posting of a link is the way to blog.

Thoughts On Social Media

Some of my thoughts lately have dwelled on Social Media like Facebook. I often
re-think my personal use of it, and I also ponder general ideas about the pros and cons of social networks in our culture. These kinds of thoughts are also prevalent in the news and other publications, which fuel my thoughts more.

I deleted several of my social media accounts before for various reasons. And then I’ve rejoined for other reasons. But I’m not contemplating quitting again. I think I may just be reconsidering how much I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you know, just keeping it in check.

Besides social media, I recently deleted a couple apps from my devices: Apple News and Flickr. The apps and services are very good. But I simply found that I have not used them in a long time. I’m too busy enjoying other things like WordPress and Twitter.

Limited Attention Span

My puny 3 pound human brain can only handle so much input and output; it is not a multi-tasking computer like some mistakenly seem to believe. Much of my brain’s processing power is spent at work doing my job of Civil and Structural design. Then it’s managing a daily work/home/life schedule, keeping it all in balance.

Anyways, as I do periodically, I scale back the number of apps on my smartphone and tablet. I step back. I re-evaluate. Re-assess the situation. Slow down. Regroup. Stuff like that. I just get tired from it all, even the enjoyable bits.

So, of course, moderation is good here. Technology in general enables us with so many options for productivity and creativity. One must choose to use tech tools wisely.

And I think most of this is common sense. But it’s easy, and subtle, for common sense to get overlooked because we’re so easily distracted by all the whiz-bang coolness of apps and social media.

Yeah, I know this is nothing new. The thing that is new, however, is how it seems social media problems have become more pronounced and written about in our culture. I’ll point to one article in particular from Cal Newport about Social Media Reform here.

Let me also point out Cal’s new book due to arrive in February called, “Digital Minimalism.” I’ve already pre-ordered my Kindle version!

Minimalism is a good final point on my current thoughts on Social Media. I don’t want to delete altogether but minimize use or exposure, and thereby mitigate any negative effects. I hope the net results will be positive!

What are your thoughts on Social Media?

Reading Books Is Awesome

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books. It’s sort of becoming a habit. And I think that’s a good thing. I find myself often lying on my bed kicked back with a book in hand, eyes tracing over the words. Even with the kids often grabbing my attention, my brain seems to be on book-lock mode, like a homing missile lasered in on its target. Coffee helps.

After a long Spring and Summer of both slogging and racing through all 7 Harry Potter books for the first time, my reading material has been eclectic. I’ve consumed fiction and non-fiction. And I’ve enjoyed diverse topics: dystopia, control, anxiety, racism, poverty, religion, and depression, to name a few big ones. Now that I think about it, wow, that’s kinda heavy stuff.

You can see on goodreads what I’ve read this year so far. I set a feasible goal of one book per month, which I’ve already beat!

There are many avid readers out there who eat up books faster and easier than I eat up my favorite snack: chips-n-salsa. If you know I eat that about every other night, that’s saying a lot. But for me, my reading habits these days far exceed my lack of long-form literature in the past. I once read about zero books a year for the first few decades of my life. So the bar was pretty low!

Earlier this year I wrote how I felt about reading in general. Basically, I discovered the magic of reading books. And I’m happy to say that my love of reading has only grown stronger over the last few months!

It helps a lot that I got an Amazon gift card for my birthday in October just so I could buy a bunch of kindle books and get some good reading on. (I love my kindle.)

Anyways, this post is not parading how awesome I am when it comes to reading. I’m not awesome! This post is about how awesome reading is when it comes to books.

Now if I can just pass along the habit and joy of reading to my 5 sons, then things will be looking really good. I am trying to wean them off of screens (unless they’re e-Readers) and onto books! So guess what my ideas are for my sons’ Christmas gifts this year?

Books! Lots of books.

Do you love to read books?

What The Church Wont Talk About Review

I recently read a book that I just loved! I want to write about it, but I’m not that good at book reviews. I might ramble a bit. But here goes nothin.

This book was one of those rare finds; a gem. I somehow discovered a blogger named JS Park a few weeks ago. Turns out he’s written several books (I’m already reading a second one of his). I liked what he blogged about so much that I had to read his longer more focused stuff.

The main topic that drew my interest was the struggle that people have doubting God and wrestling with faith. You could say I’ve had that struggle. You could also say I’ve struggled with admitting such a struggle.

That points to what I think drew me in the most about JS Park’s writing: he is very open and honest. It’s disarming. I don’t have to be defensive against feeling judged by him because he doesn’t hide the fact he’s as broken as any normal human being.

So yeah, I’m gonna read me some more of that.

We all have struggles. That’s life. But in a survival-of-the-fittest world, it is not fitting to reveal your weaknesses. That’s how you get eaten alive, right? So people play tough. Yet we know we shouldn’t come off all macho like we’ve got it all together. It’s too unbelievable. Someone will call our bluff.

So we sometimes admit we struggle, but we won’t go deeper than that. It’s too vulnerable. We’ll say we struggle in general, but we don’t really want to show our specific struggles.

Anyways, maybe you can relate to something like that just as I do.

The book, “What The Church Won’t Talk About,” is just awesome. It’s got a lot of meat. Each chapter kinda covers certain topics or themes. It’s easy to skip around to whatever questions you find most relevant to you. And there are many real questions.

Some of the questions asked are the same ones, of course, that I myself have harbored (and not had the guts to ask)! These taboo questions may hit you in the guts.

Here are some of the topics. I got this list from Amazon’s page for the book. (And no, I don’t make money off anything on my blog.)

“What about: Porn addiction? Homosexuality? Self-harm and cutting? Sex before marriage? Suicidal thoughts? The evil in the world? And long dry seasons of doubt?”

“From sex, dating, sexuality, doubts, depression, pornography, abortion, apologetics, to family drama, these were questions that we’ve always wanted to ask in church, but were too afraid to stir the status quo.”

The author does not simply say the answer to everything is, “Jesus.” Nor does he just flatly blame sin for all the troubles we all have. He does not come off so simple. He shows respect, dignity, and also knowledge.

Seriously, I can tell from his writing that he’s not just giving you knowledge from his head. You know, he’s not just trying to have an answer or “the answer” to everything. He’s sharing his heartfelt compassion. And he admits when and where his answers are insufficient. But he does his best.

Yes, I know, it’s trite or cliché, but “I care how much he knows because I know (trust) how much he cares.”

I totally recommend this book to anyone who “tried church” and gave up. Also, to anyone who just has these real honest questions and you are still unsatisfied with the answers so far.

Making It Through The Week

It’s been a challenging week so far. It started with my anxiety flaring up severely. My work at my job has been tough. And my family has been extra busy with Christmas festivities. But I think the week will slow down now.

Sunday through half of Tuesday, I was really struggling with severe anxiety. It hasn’t been so bad in a while. I had to talk to a friend to keep from losing my mind. Totally serious. Then I made an appointment with my doctor and my therapist.

Thankfully, my anxiety finally dissipated Tuesday evening and I was able to enjoy a Christmas parade with my family.

Then to my surprise, this morning I felt rested and happy. I even had energy and was more confident. It was great while it lasted. Then the demands of a looming deadline on my current work project frustrated me big time. I had to take a break and pray and wait to calm my mind.

After that, there was another evening Christmas festivity with a live band and carols. Then my family got home, ate dinner, and finally got to wind down. Well, just about. I had to have a heart to heart chat with one of my sons. Then another son, who had suddenly come down with a stomach ache, ran to the bathroom to throw up. He’s ok now it seems.

My wife and I talked and prayed together (she is a good listener). Then I poured a relaxing drink, grabbed my book to read…but then decided to do a blog post. I’ve been so busy with life lately that I’ve been missing out on blogging!

Side note: I recently discovered a new singer and have been enjoying new music. But I’m not saying who it is or what songs they are because I’m afraid of what some people might think. Is that weird?

So there’s a little snapshot of my imperfect life with some highs and lows.

November Is A Novel Month

We are smack dab in the middle of it. The 30 day stretch where many aspiring novelists commit to the big 50k. It’s like an annual writing marathon. 50,000 words written in a single month! Fingernails will be worn down to the nubs. And maybe, just maybe, a myriad of writers will find they have become authors.

It’s called NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month

This yearly event is inspiring and motivating. It’s a tool that helps you commit to writing an entire work of fiction. Every last word. And while you write alone, you’re not alone. There’s a community of dedicated and enthusiastic people all sharing the same goal.

But it’s no small commitment; I myself wouldn’t want to attempt it without serious determination and plans to complete all 50,000 words. This year I considered joining NaNoWriMo, but I just didn’t think I was up for it.

Heck, I don’t want to submit to writing a 500 word blog post daily for a month. (Not even if it’s February!) Let’s be realistic here. In 30 days, that’d be a mere 15,000 words, not even half the goal of NaNoWriMo! Yet I write.

It’s satisfying to tap away my fingertips on the keyboard, summoning bits of language into prose worth reading. Despite little success, I enjoy my brain’s propensity for word-smithing. Failed attempts and all.

I’ve tried my hand at writing both fiction and non-fiction. I once completed several chapters of a Sci-Fi novella. And earlier this year, I got up super early each morning for over a month with one intention: writing words. Lots of them.

There comes a state of word-flow where your inner-editor takes a back seat. A handful of paragraphs later you look up; an hour flew by! I often typed over 1,000 words in a session. The accomplishment felt like butter melting thoroughly on a steamy baked potato.

I’ve also read a book about writing (sorry, no spoilers), authored by one of the most prolific fiction novelists of our time, Stephen King. And I’ve kinda geeked out reading blogs and websites all about creative story-telling.

NaNoWriMo is a real chance to take the dream of writing a book and make it into a reality, like a fairy tale coming to life. It compels talented people to go from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after” and fill out all the details in between! Who knows? Maybe they’ll even be published.

Right now, many are typing. One could be your co-worker moonlighting as a novelist. They’re honing their craft, penning scenarios, developing characters, and plotting out climaxes. At this moment, an aspiring author is plugging away to the-ultimate-plot-twist!

I get that. I wish that. And until I gather up the gumption to write 50-grand in words, I will continue to admire those studious Scrivener and Ulysses aficionados.

So are you a fellow-novel-dreamer, brimming with hope to write long-form? Have you read captivating stories and felt yourself pining away with notions of your own bookish adventures bubbling from your imagination? Take a moment to leave a comment.

Ebb And Flow Of Anxiety

You know how thoughts and feelings come and go. My general anxiety is like that. I have long stretches of ‘normal’ it seems, then a season of anxiety will settle in. For weeks or days at a time, my anxious nerves will buzz quieter or louder.

I’ve had anxiety attacks that are acute and short lived. And I’ve had ones that are debilitating with a long fall-out, which means I work extra hard to recover back to near ‘normal.’

My anxiety flared up recently. Yesterday it was a persistent negative gnawing inside. And as usual, I kept quiet about it. But today, I’m surprised yet relieved; that anxious worm is gone. I am calm. No inner turmoil.

It’s uncanny. The most remarkable times are when the anxiety is present and then disappears during the same day. The anxiety can be carried over from the previous day or start in the middle of the night. Then hours later, it suddenly dissipates without a trace. It may sound weird, but it happens quite a bit.

The relief that follows is such a contrast that it makes me step aside mentally, wondering how long it will last. Often, I look within and think that the anxiety is still lurking somewhere inside me. “Can it really be gone?”

It’s like one moment you’re in a war zone with danger all around. The next moment you’re napping on a tropical island, peaceful as can be. It sounds strange even to me, but I’m describing my anxious reality as best as I can while trying to avoid being overly dramatic.

Usually, I don’t like to talk about my anxiety. It’s a difficult subject. I don’t like feeling as if I’m stuck in a relationship with it. I guess today, I felt like opening up a bit because I felt so much calm and not fear. Like a lucid moment. Yet it’s still hard to know what to think a lot of times. That’s the reality of it.

I know there are others who struggle with anxiety. I don’t think you have to struggle alone. But I understand it’s hard to open up and be vulnerable; anxiety attacks make you want to fight or run away in defense. You put up your guard instead of opening up. I tend to do that same thing.

On Writing Review

In all my years, I’ve never read a Stephen King book. Until this year. I also never believed in telepathy. Until it happened. 
King used his telepathic powers to put info and imagery in my head. It worked too. I smiled a lot, laughed out loud. I also gained insightful knowledge.

Through his rare non-fiction work, he transmitted mini-stories, snippets from his life’s story arc, across time and space. That was about 19 years ago. And on a Friday in 2018, I went to my local library, grabbed his book, and began to receive King’s message:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I’m not going to rebroadcast his message though. That would rob you and him from direct telepathic communication. If you engage in it, you won’t be willing or able to stop until you’ve received all of it. King’s book is like a bag of chips. Once you open it and start chomping, you won’t be able to put it down.

Besides entertaining and informing, his memoir was inspiring and encouraging. King should be proud for accomplishing exactly what he wanted.

Of course I’ve heard over the years about King’s success and influence as a modern fiction novelist. But after reading his non-fiction sort of info-novella, I don’t think it’s fair to speak of him as a writer or author. Those terms are too narrow. He is a wonderful storyteller. And a great telepath. At least that’s my impression of the man.

I’d wanted to read this book years ago because my writing needs improvement. I figured if ‘the king’ of writing wrote a book on writing, then it would benefit me. Time will tell, but I believe it’s helping me already.

Besides being a great teller of tales, King is an under-the-eave archaeologist (similar to the closet version, I think). You need to know this because if you want to improve your own writing, you’re gonna have to get your hands dirty. King says so. You’ll need the right tools to dig up your stories to tell; the better you are at unearthing them, the better a telepath you’ll be.

I must say that if you like to read Stephen King’s stories yet couldn’t care less about writing your own, then you still need to get this book and read the first half. It’s full of King’s real-life stories! Just the fact that he knows how to tell them so well is reason enough; you’ll race through them with delight.

The bonus content, you might say, is the second half, which reveals all his secrets! Okay, not quite. But there’s a lot of those shiny little wisdom nuggets in there, couple big ones too. He talks about different kinds of writers and writing in general of course.

King’s crafty memoir is so good, I plan to give it future reads. I returned my copy to the library, but I’ll pay money to keep this little treasure in my house for reference if not also to just enjoy another viewing of King’s highlight reel: how an author was authored.

Do you like to read Stephen King novels?

Anxiety And A Weighted Blanket

Alright, I’ve struggled with anxiety, and many others do too. It’s no easy thing, and I don’t think there are any quick fixes. But there are ways to get help, ways to cope, or manage.

One thing I’ve wondered is if a weighted blanket would be helpful. It may sound silly, like an adult security blanky, but I’ve heard seriously good things about them. Like they’re legit. And while it seems they’re becoming more popular, I think it’s more than just a fad.

There are some good articles online about scientific studies giving credit to weighted blankets, acting like a big warm hug! Here’s sort of a random few:

Deep Pressure Therapy (

Weighted Blanket Therapy (

Deep Pressure Stimulation (

I got one!

So, my wife bought me a weighted blanket for my birthday over a week ago. In fact, I happened to get it the day I awoke from a bad dream in the middle of the night with an acute anxiety attack. Apprehension, fear, pounding heartbeat, dry mouth, heavy breathing, couldn’t go back to sleep, the usual. Talk about timing!

I contemplated (fancy word for “thought about”) taking some medication to ensure calm to sleep the next night. But I didn’t since I got the weighted blanket! I was quite thankful and eager to try it out.

The blanket I got is a 20 pounder! It’s by Sharper Image and came from Bed Bath & Beyond. The reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive. (I don’t get paid for ads or links.)

After sleeping under my new weighted blanket nightly for about 2 weeks, I’m really liking it and don’t want to sleep without it. But I also think I need more time to use it and really see how things go.

One concern I had was if it would make me feel too hot. It will if you pile on too many other blankets of course. Otherwise it’s not stifling or stuffy. And it doesn’t make me feel smothered. On cold nights, it’s especially comfy.

It makes me feel snug, tucked in, secure. After that night I awoke with an anxiety attack, I’ve not had any more bad anxiety episodes. (My anxiety overall in recent months has been better, milder, or quieter, so that’s something to consider.) But I admit I’ve had a few unpleasant dreams. Then again, I’m pretty sure that means I’m getting deeper sleep since I’m dreaming at all. I’d say that’s thanks to the blanket.

The best, and hardest, part of the weighted blanket is waking in the morning. By then I feel so cozy that it’s much easier to stay asleep. Getting up outta bed is extra hard. Also, falling asleep seems, for me, about normal, maybe a little easier lately.

Of course, my weighted blanket is not replacing anything else I do to manage anxiety; it’s an additional thing. But who knows, maybe over 6 months of good restful sleep, my body and mind will be settled into enough calm so I’d need nothing but the blanket.

Blogging Your Best

Blogging has always been something
I’ve liked doing. I’ve had various blogs over the years with different success, however that’s defined. There are many “rules” and “tips” out there in the blogosphere. For me, some rules were restrictions which made blogging, or at least getting started, too hard.

When it comes to the single niche topic versus many topics, I break that rule. For me, and others I’ve found, it’s better to blog about any number of topics. I’m not focused on just one thing in life, so my blog isn’t focused on one topic.

It has advantages. For one, it’s less likely you’ll run out of stuff to say, even if you exhaust a particular subject. And if your interests change, or even if just your mood changes, you are free to blog about it without having to change gears on the fly. Just publish the next thing on your mind! No problem.

Should I post once a week or more or less? What’s the best frequency? For me, I’d like to post regularly, every so often, without chaining myself to a magic number or schedule. Because if I don’t meet it, I might feel like I failed and then quit trying. My blog will go defunct.

Here’s another tough thing about blogging: being afraid of what others might think. This is a personal thing I think any blogger might have to work through over time. For some, not caring what others think is a strength. For others, caring what others think is a hang-up.

To that I’ll say I’m somewhere on the spectrum! It kinda depends on the subject. Sometimes I worry about what someone might think, sometimes I don’t. But usually I’m somewhere in between.

I think everyone who blogs varies on how transparent, authentic or honest and open they want to be. And I think the trick is to not let yourself get too hung up on those things.

Part of blogging your best is being aware of all that sort of stuff and working through it to where you can blog more naturally or easily. You must know your personal goals for blogging.

I think another key might fit well here: just enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on “rules” or restrictions. Trying to adhere to certain blogging “standards” may be a hindrance to just getting your thoughts published. Don’t make blogging harder than it is. Keep it simple.

I once was using four different apps (Notes, Pages, Canva, WordPress) on my iPad to blog a single post! That didn’t last long. Now I use only one app (WordPress). This has helped me a ton. It makes blogging simpler.

One last thing. I’m trying to use plain and simple words, and my natural voice, in my blogging. In other words, I’m trying to blog, not write. There’s a distinction.

Writing is more formal or professional. Blogging, to me, is more casual and natural. Write the way I talk is an idea.

The practical thing I’ve noticed is that I try to avoid using big fancy words that make me sound sophisticated. I don’t know how much it helps, but I think it does keep my posts simpler it seems. So even if my thoughts are not perfectly organized, it’s ok! I’m blogging, not writing a non-fiction book.

Anyways, I hope that made some sense as I just kinda thought through it.

How do you measure success or define your “best” blogging?

Taking The iPad Further

In a few days, Apple will have an event where maybe they’ll reveal new iPads. And since
my iPad is my computer, I’m very interested to see what direction Apple takes iPad next. Will it become even more capable than it already is? And a bigger question, will the iPad become more of Apple’s main focus for the future of computing?

When the iPad Pro, for example, was first announced, Apple CEO Tim Cook prefaced it by declaring,
“iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.”
He went on to ask how Apple could take the iPad further. Their answer was basically 3 things:
  1. Make the screen bigger
  2. Add a pencil/stylus
  3. Add a better keyboard
So if Apple reveals new iPads this week, how will they take it further? Add more hardware or software, or maybe both, to make it even more capable?

Most understand that putting Apple’s latest and greatest processor inside the newest iPad would for sure make it much more powerful. But there’s more to making hardware work than adding raw power.

Many people still think that a mouse and a keyboard is the best way to use a computer, and the iPad’s touch interaction, while simple and convenient, is just not as capable. Yet keyboards have been available for the iPad since it first came out. Could Apple now do even more than their Smart Keyboard?

What if they made a clamshell-like keyboard case for iPad so that it looked and acted more like a laptop? It could be similar to the Brydge Keyboard. I think that would actually propel iPad further because it would allow multiple angles of viewing/typing whereas the Smart Keyboard only has one fixed angle on a flimsy multi-hinged folding case. I think a laptop like keyboard case would also sit more sturdily on your lap.

What about a mouse? I don’t think Apple would enable a mouse and cursor for iPad because it would diminish the simplicity of the tablet. It could also cause too much divergence or feature disparity between iPad and iPhone. In short, it would cross the line by adding too much complexity.

Besides hardware, what about software and apps? Well, it’s already been recently announced that Adobe is bringing full Photoshop to iPad. This popular app has traditionally been only for the desktop computer. So Photoshop coming to iPad seems to be a strong signal that the iPad is being considered more like a “real computer.”

Other software moves that could signal Apple taking iPad further might be announcing some of its Mac only apps now being made for iPad. Or they could add new capabilities to the Files app, making it more like the Finder app on the Mac. Or they could do what Apple is known for and introduce a whole new “magical” way to select and edit text with fancy but simple multi-touch gestures that make using a mouse with a cursor seem cumbersome.

The most radical idea might be a combo of hardware and software advances: a laptop like keyboard case that has a recessed spot in which you place an iPhone so that it auto-magically enables something called touchpad mode. The glass screen of the iPhone would mimic the glass trackpad of MacBooks, including a little vibrating feedback when you touch it. This would of course mean a cursor of some kind would need to appear on the iPad screen.

Whatever Apple does, it will be interesting to see. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying my 4 year old non-pro iPad, which still makes me feel like the future is now.

What would you like to see in a new iPad?

My iPad Is My Computer

Not long ago, everyone had a boxy beige desktop PC, or maybe a thick clunky gray laptop. Those were the only real choices for a personal computer. But now, many people use other things like smartphones, tablets, or Chromebooks.

With so many options, you just kinda pick what works best for you and which thing you like the most. Nowadays a personal computer is much more of a personal choice.

My wife, for example, has stuck to using her desktop PC. She has a smartphone and has used different tablets but prefers good ol’ fashioned Windows with a mouse and a keyboard. That’s not a bad choice for anyone really. It works just fine. So, traditional.

My kids also use Windows PC’s. We homeschool, so it’s practical for us to have budget PC’s for the kids’ schoolwork, which is mostly online stuff. And of course Windows has Minecraft. (Even I play it sometimes!) We did have a Chromebook for the kids, but it slid off a bunkbed onto a wood floor, which cracked the screen. But it only cost me about $150! So, practical and affordable.

As for me, I’ve tried lots of different things and settled on using an iPad as my only computer. I’m all-in on just the iPad along with an iPhone as my go-to gadgets.

I’m not just trying out the iPad to see if it can do all the things I need or want. I already did that and found it can. In fact, I’m typing this blog post in the WordPress app using just the on-screen keyboard, tapping away quietly on the glass. It works well! I can even make nice images with titles in the Canva app if I want.

Of course, there are other ways to do things. Before I used just an iPad and an iPhone, I used just a Chromebook and an Android smartphone. It was all Google instead of all Apple. And it worked. But Apple’s devices had some advantages that won me over.

It was not an easy win though. At one point, I kinda went back and forth between my iPad and my Windows laptop. I even switched to a MacBook a few years ago but then went back to my Windows computer. Letting go of my traditional computing ways took time because I built them up over many years. Plus I still use a Windows desktop PC at work.

The things that kept me coming back to my iPad was that it is a lot simpler and more reliable than my Windows laptop. It just works when I need it too. And it does it fast and easy.

On top of that, it’s small size and long battery life let me use it anywhere anytime. Plus, I really like my iPhone, and the iPad uses the same apps and system, so it’s familiar. Two devices with one-in-the-same software is just easier for me to manage.

What’s also surprising to me when I think about is even though my iPad is 4 years old, it still works great! It’s an iPad Air 2 that I bought used from someone on Facebook Marketplace. And if you want a new iPad, they’re so much more affordable now than they used to be. You can even get good deals and save money if you buy a refurbished iPad from Apple.

Anyways, we’re lucky to have so many options. I enjoy an iPad as my computer and think more people could too. When you think about it, you don’t really need much else.

So with all your options out there, what devices do you use the most?

Anxious For Nothing Review

A few days ago, I started reading a book by Max Lucado called, Anxious for Nothing. I first heard it was coming out last year not long after I had a debilitating anxiety attack. So I thought it could be good timing, what I might call providence instead of coincidence.

I’ve never read anything by Lucado until now, and I have to say that I like his casual writing style and his ability to tell stories. His writing is pretty simple, not scholarly or theological verbose. Plain and simple, written for ordinary people.

The first chapter really got my attention because Max described anxiety really well. He seemed to truly know what it’s like to have serious worry, like on the disorder level. It made me think, “He gets it!”

What he writes can apply to what might be called common anxiety, yet he seems to really be addressing the hardcore kind that I don’t wish on anyone.

The book, so far, follows the outline of a specific passage of Bible verses well known in Christianity. It’s in Philippians 4:4–8. I think the author does a good job of explaining the meaning of the scripture as he effortlessly weaves real life stories and anecdotes throughout. And in doing so, he makes good points without sounding like he’s peaching at anyone!

Right now I’m enjoying the part that says, “Think about what you think about.” Lucado addresses the mind and what it dwells on. I find it helpful because in my experience with crazy anxiety, anxious thoughts go hand-in-hand with anxious feelings. And I’ve often found that controlling the thoughts in my head, especially those negative voices that come in and try to ruin everything, is a key to dispelling worry or apprehension.

I’m not quite finished reading the whole book but soon will be since it’s a relatively short read. I’ll go ahead and recommend it to you if you’ve struggled with anxiety in any degree. I’m glad I finally added it to my library.

1984 Review

I’m glad to say that I finally read one of the books that’s been on my Want-To-Read list for a long time, 1984, by George Orwell.

So what did I think about it? Well, I enjoyed the overall plot with its drama and danger. I found the way it was written interesting. Almost like you’re stuck in the main character’s head the whole time.

The stuff I did not like about it was near the middle when Winston gets “the book” and reads part of it. That was convoluted, monotonous, and repetitive. I pushed through that part and was glad to get back to action and drama.

What about the whole Orwellian, Big Brother, totalitarian crazy scary stuff? Well, I wasn’t too surprised or put-off by it because I had already heard much about it over the years. Yet it was nice to finally be reading it for myself. But I think I need someone smarter than me to help me get into a discussion of it.

There’s a related book on my to-read list: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. From what I’ve heard, that one is more accurate in “prophesying” how our culture is today. People are placated through pleasure and entertainment rather than controlled through fear.

On that note, I found Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death far more interesting and prophetic than 1984.

On a general note, what is it about dystopias that seems so attractive? I think it’s the fact that most of real life is a dystopia, even in so-called paradise. And it’s just that fiction novels about dystopia draw out the related extremes and act as either coping mechanisms or as ways to teach lessons.

One dystopia I’d like to re-read is The Hunger Games. But I’ve got too many other un-read books waiting for me to dive into.

A Friend With Facebook Again

I’m not sure how to say this. This is a post that I’ve felt I needed to share but I’ve been reluctant to. You see, back in March,
I deleted my Facebook account. I called it the “nuke from orbit” option. And I think I had some pretty heavy reasons for doing so. But then on August 1st this year, I created a new Facebook account and re-friended many.

So what changed? Why did I decide to befriend my frenemy, Facebook?

Well, it’s pretty simple I think. Basically, all my friends and family are there.

So while Facebook still has a lot of pros and cons, and the cons are nothing to take lightly, its number one feature is connecting with people I care about. For better or for worse and despite there being other ways to stay in touch with people, Facebook is the easiest way of all.

I could kinda go through a list of ethical, philosophical, or sociological reasons why life would probably be better-off without Facebook. You know, heady stuff. But I’m not going to.

After 4 months of zero Facebooking, I simply wanted to stay in touch with people, easily share photos, and have access to Marketplace. And, guess what? I like getting likes. I admit it. I enjoy comments too. I can live without all that just fine, but I think I can live with it okay too.

I’ve had my ups and downs with Facebook, the addiction to it. So this aint my first rodeo. I know how to manage my Facebook habits well enough that I can use it for the good stuff it provides while avoiding the bad stuff. And that’s what I decided to do. So I rejoined. And I can quit anytime. Right.

The Busy Summer Of 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here. No excuses, really. I’m cyclical like that I guess. 
But I had a big change back in May; I left the company I worked for to rejoin my prior employer. And my new workload was jam packed with things to do. So my summer was super busy! I didn’t have much time or energy to focus on blogging.

So there was work. And there was a lot of play. For Father’s Day, my wife surprised me this year with a Wii U! I had not done any console gaming in years, until this Summer. And boy was it fun! So this, too, kept me unfocused from blogging.

But of course, as always, I still like blogging and want to be back into it when I can. So this post is sort of a jump start.

I’ve been thinking about how to approach blogging again to make it easier for me given my busy life (hey, I’m also trying to raise 5 boys).

So one thing I’m gonna try changing is going text only; no more creating titles with images. I used Canva before and liked it. But the whole process is too much overhead for me. Takes too much time and effort.

Another change is that I’m sticking to blogging on my iPad instead of my PC. Hopefully it helps keep my blogging simple.

And finally, a third change: I’m going to try to actually “blog” and not “write.” What do I mean? Writing is more formal, takes more time. Blogging, for me, I want it to be simpler. So I’m gonna try writing more casually, kinda like just the way I talk.

I think this will make it easier, and I think it will help my blog sound more like me, giving my writing my own personal “voice.” Make sense? I hope so.

Also, what will I be writing (blogging) about? Anything. I had a handful of specific topics or categories before, but I’ve let those go bye-bye. This keeps things simpler for me, which helps me blog.

I guess the main goal I have is to blog consistently, so I’m trying to simplify everything to lower the barrier to success.

Let’s see how it goes.

The Magic Of Reading Books

Some say there is a magic to reading books. Maybe you know what it’s like to have a real page-turner in your hands. Like eating a bag of chips, you can’t put the book down – just one more page, one more chapter! I enjoy such books, but that hasn’t always been the case.

When I was a kid, I didn’t like reading, fiction or otherwise. Growing up in school, I only read when and what I was assigned, which was usually just a textbook. Regardless of the subject, it was about as magical as reading a car repair manual. Books seemed laboriously long and monotonous. Page after page of black text on beige paper: words, words, words. Reading was like getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist: beneficial yet unpleasant.

Unlike those who did find pleasure in books, I had never identified as a ‘reader’. So I sometimes felt a degree of low self-esteem or shame, thinking I didn’t measure up, as if something was deficient with my intellect. Why didn’t my brain like to “book it”? When it came to reading, I had the skill but not the will.

But all that started to change a few years ago. Along the way in life, I began to get little tastes of reading.

The first thing I’d say started to turn me on to reading was the influence of a voracious consumer of books in my life who absolutely couldn’t get enough of them. He had a high view of reading that was remarkable and kind of infectious. To him, the Gutenberg press was a gift from heaven to mankind (and I’d agree). His impact on me to see the value in books was as if a neon Vegas sign constanly flashed in my face, “Read!” So the seed was planted, yet there were more tastes needed to whet my appetite for books.

About that same time period was the advent of eBooks, which had special appeal to me because I had always been sort of a tech-nerd. So I ended up getting a novel to read on my iPod touch (before it had a “retina” screen).

There was an attractive simplicity to a full-length book I could easily hold in the palm of my hand. It eliminated the bulk and daunting thickness of hundreds of pages. I only had to read one little page at a time. And one small swipe of my thumb “turned” the page.

So to some degree, digital reading helped me get into books just like digital photography helped many get into photos. Yet eReading on such a tiny device was still too much of a novelty to me. I was surprised that I read a whole work of fiction just for fun. But like sneezed out vapor, inspiration to read quickly wore off.

It took the influence, rather the silent witness, of another avid reader, my wife, to really push me towards the appeal of reading. When she got a book, I would see her constantly staring at it, quietly flipping one page after another. She must have been engrossed in a captivating story. And the next thing I knew, she had finished the book fast! I’d be impressed and wonder how good the book must really be. Curiosity peaked my interest in reading as a cat turns an intense wide-eyed gaze towards a nearby scratching sound.

Then something unusual happened. My wife, who is decidedly not a tech-nerd, got an electronic gadget that I did not own: the Amazon kindle. And that dedicated eReader using eInk was the catalyst to push me over the edge.

Thanks to that device, with its just-right-size eInk screen and battery that lasted forever on a single charge, I could easily hold any sized book in one hand and read it for long stretches without straining my eyes. Plus it had a built-in library/bookstore! So I borrowed my wife’s kindle and had a good trilogy to test it out: The Hunger Games. After that, I soon bought my own kindle, and over the next few years I grew as a reader.

That’s how I went from, “I’ll just watch the movie” to, “I’d rather read the book!” My disdain for books turned to delight. So it was well into adulthood when I finally started to experience the pleasure of reading!

These days, I like to walk into my local Books-a-Million and wonder what my next good read might be while I wander up and down the aisles in a sea of books. Surely I can find that proverbial one I’d take if stranded on a desert island. Even the scent of books is attractive. I enjoy the website called goodreads. And to top it off, I actually have my own public library card.

Reading engages my mind in a way that movies never did. I know firsthand there’s something compelling about a good story written well. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to watch movies and don’t claim to be a bookworm. But I went from not reading at all to actually having an annual reading goal! I’m just glad that I finally discovered the magic of reading!

As a kid, I learned to read. As an adult, I learned to enjoy reading.

I’ll leave you with this quote I like from Stephen King,
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
What’s your reading experience been like?

Take Time To Make Time

I was going about my normal day recently when a familiar phrase came into my mind, “So little time…” I took a break from my work at home and had been thinking about how much there was left to do. Then I quickly starting noting other projects that I needed to start—there’s so much! I was lamenting how little time there is to do ‘all the things.’

We’ve all been there. That’s why there is the saying, “So little time, so much to do.”

Back In Time

I began to wish for more time and wondered how I might be able to get it. As I thought, one of my favorite quotes from The Matrix Reloaded came to mind. It was during the Merovingian’s diatribe when he said, “…but then if we never take time how can we ever have time?” Such a simple concept!

Time was spoken of as a material resource you could put in your pocket or store up in the bank. How nice it would be if time were so tangible because maybe then we would use it more sparingly. But when you really think about it, we can budget our time more wisely just like we budget our money. We can be frugal with our time.

Just because time is not a tangible thing, it doesn’t mean we will have trouble budgeting it. We already know how to budget the immaterial. Case in point: money today has become digital currency and many of our transactions happen online in our ever-increasing cashless society. Money is increasingly intangible like time; they’re just numbers.

After my memory of The Matrix quote, my mind went further back in timeto none other than a little monologue by hero Marty McFly! In Back To The Future he said, “If only I had more time…wait a minute, I have all the time I want, I’ve got a time machine…”

If only we had more time. If only we had a time machine! Well we can’t travel through time–other than straight forward from present to future at the speed of about one second per second. And we can’t create a machine that somehow creates more time for us like it’s a tangible object. So what can we do? Go back to The Matrix.

Take Time To Make Time

We have so many things that take up our time. We must take our time back from those things by taking those things out of our lives. Go minimalist!

If you want to have time to do ‘all the things’, you must redefine what ‘all the things’ refers to. Do we really need to do everything that we think we do? This is nothing other than classic time management. We’ve got to practice prioritizing our time for only the most important things; do only the best things.

The best to-do is to do the best.

To have more time, minimize or remove from your life all the things that are just a time-suck. But you must recognize what’s wasting your time. I categorize daily life into three broad areas that we need time for: sleep, work, and play.

It would be nice and simple if we could just give 8 hours evenly to each time category; life is not that easy. Often, we find ourselves wasting a lot of time playing instead of working. It’s easy to get distracted when looking up one thing on the web and then a half-hour later…look at the time! Entertainment and social media: big time-sucks.

De-Clutter Your Calendar

In your own life, take some time to budget your time! Come to think of it, a line-item at the top of your Time Budget Worksheet should be, “Budget Time.” It would be helpful to write it out in front of you to see your time more concretely.

You could do this simply by calendaring. Just don’t book your schedule too tightly. Make “appointments” in each day for “white space” or time cushions. We need both downtime as well as uptime. Again: sleep, work, and play. It’s okay to schedule a blank space or a block of time for nothing on your calendar!

We need to reverse the saying. If there’s so little time because there’s so much to do, then there will be so much time if there’s so little to do.

This touches on the idea of multi-tasking. Usually that means you’re doing many things at the same time, which is inaccurate. What I mean by multi-tasking is simply having too many to-do’s on a regular basis–literally multiple tasks.

We work in a linear fashion, going from one thing to the next in a chain, just like the cause and effect chain of time. The more tasks you have, the less time you have for each task; it’s simple math.

We are talking about quality over quantity. When you have less time to dedicate to a given task, either it cannot be completed or it will be a mediocre thing, one that is not really worth your time! If that’s true, then why bother with it in the first place? Drop it from your schedule. Clear time for more important things. The fewer to-do’s you have, the more time, and thus quality, you will get for each one.

Time To Unwind

These thoughts on time are just some simple ideas. It helps me to take a minute to step back and survey the big picture. Like you, it’s easy for me to get so caught up, buried in my tasks, that I lose track of time and feel I have so little of it. But we all have the same amount of time: 24 hours a day. We all just need to use it more wisely.

What are some ways you have found to manage your time better?

Why I Quit Facebook

I quit Facebook. I chose the nuke from orbit option: deletion instead of deactivation. The recent
Cambridge Analytica data exploit was the catalyst for my decision. But I had been wary of Facebook before and was already detaching from it.

Over my 9 years of friending, liking, and sharing, Facebook has been a mixed bag. I’ve enjoyed the positive things about it, but the negatives finally weighed enough for me to quit.

I still do social media – follow me on Twitter – but now I do less of it. Of course, I also deleted my Instagram account since it’s owned by Facebook. Now I plan to focus more on my blog…and my offline life.

So why did I quit Facebook? Of my many reasons, I’ll try to summarize only a few. Crack knuckles…begin!

Facebook neither protects your data nor respects your privacy

Facebook’s privacy mistakes and data sharing concerns have surfaced repeatedly throughout the years. It’s made me leary before. And now, the latest and greatest example is the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Altogether, it’s made me no longer trust Facebook.

Facebook is too addictive and manipulative

Facebook’s ability to keep our attention has been a growing concern over time; the pot seems to have boiled over. Tristan Harris and his site humanetech explain best, and my experience is like that of many. I’ve mindlessly scrolled the newsfeed and habitually checked for red circled notifications too much. I’ve written about it before: The End of Newsfeed Distraction and The Matrix of Social Media.

Facebook kills the open and indy web

Facebook’s ubiquity and utility make it a one-stop-shop; it tries to be everything to everyone. And under the pretense of privacy and security, it’s closed off–less so these days–from the rest of the internet. So most people stay on Facebook instead of visiting other websites and blogs. People once “surfed the web;” now they “scroll their feed.”

Facebook is too big and influential

Facebook has 2.2 billion members–more than the largest country in the world. This suggests great power requiring great responsibility. But I think for any one person, like founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, it is too much. The inherent risks are too great. And although being an influential and powerful agency, Facebook has been unregulated by any government and has proven unable or unwilling to regulate itself to any sufficient degree. Zuckerberg himself has shown reluctance to his assumed responsibilities.

Those are some of my reasons why I gained freedom from Facebook. Overall, I’m not totally against social media. It has pros and cons, and it affects people in different ways. But I think it would be good to re-evaluate the place of Facebook in your life and choose what’s best. Maybe you delete it or use it less. Or you could be good as is.

Have you thought about quitting Facebook before?

Celebrating The Blog

The Jason Journals blog survived its first year, so now it’s time to review the past, preview the future, and do an overview of blogging in between. Why did I start this blog and why keep it going? Because…blogging!

I published my first post on March 31, 2017. And a few months later, my blog went silent due to “life happening”—anxiety. I got back to posting when I could, although it was sporadic. I still love blogging—even if it is old-school.

I’ve blogged off and on since 2006, starting with a family update type of blog. After that, I tinkered with several blogs focused on different niche subjects. None lasted. But Jason Journals endures despite the difficulties of the last year.

What can I say? I love to think and write! I’ve used a personal journal for a long time. So blogging just fits. That’s one reason why I started Jason Journals. And it’s a great way to exercise creativity.

Blogging Is Creative

Creating stuff–blogs, music, ice sculptures–is part of what makes us human. One of my favorite sayings these days is, Create more, consume less. Many people—myself included—are often caught up in “consuming content” instead of creating things. It’s too much input and not enough output.

Writing and blogging are great creative outlets; I get a rich satisfaction from writing that feels deeper than…reading books; the fulfillment is on another level. I still consume content: movies, internet, social media. But I consume less because its appeal is weaker. I’m too busy enjoying my blogging hobby! (Well, I probably read books as much as I write blogs.)

Blogging Is Independent

There is another aspect to blogging that is hard for me to find the right term for. It lingers from the early days of the web when blogs were more popular. I think “independent” is close, or maybe “open.”

Before the internet became sophisticated and commercialized, bloggers had their own simple sites that linked to other blogs and interesting places on the web–blogrolls! And their blogs each had a unique look and vibe to them, like hand-crafted quality stuff. An individual blog reflected a person’s uniqueness; it made the web adventurous and even serendipitous!

Compare that to now. Everyone just has a Facebook newsfeed, and they all look the same. It kind of works but it’s boring. Efficiency and consistency are good, but we also need individuality and variety. The sameness of social media has caused the web to lose its zest.

Blogging Is Lasting

I love finding others who share their own experience and opinions about blogging. I even check the state of the blogosphere at least once a year, hoping to find an article telling me that blogs are not going extinct. I would love to see a blogging renaissance! I think it would mean getting back to a more open internet.

On that note, I will share a few related posts I find interesting. Although some are dated, they’re still relevant. I recommend you give them a read.

Jason Journals Future

In the past few months, I’ve been practicing writing, and I plan to keep it up as Jason Journals heads into its second year. Hopefully the quality of my writing improves over time!

I think you can expect to see a mix of articles, aiming for at least one each week on Friday mornings–Lord willing. You might also find more pictures over time since I am not sure how much longer I will use Flickr and because I deleted my Instagram account.

One thing that surprises me is that I’ve stuck with the same blog theme for the past year! But I plan on using a new layout it to make it more readable for everyone. I hope the blog just keeps getting better in three key areas: what I write, how it’s written, and how it is presented on the blog.

Till Next Time

What are your thoughts about blogging? Do you hope for a renaissance or worry about its decline? What are your ideas about the open web? And do you prefer to go to Facebook or individual blogs?

Share in the comments!

Take care,