Here we are at the end of the year and even a decade. As always, it’s a good time to pause our games and shows and look back to reflect on things. It’s also time to do the other side of that coin by looking forward. And I hope I don’t overstuff it with the links!
With the dust still settling from the Christmas rush, I thought I’d skim the past 12 months from a geeky or nerdy perspective. How did 2019 shape up with respect to movies, shows, games, and what about sci-fi and tech stuff? I admit I’m not the most qualified for this; it’s just my two cents. I’ll also throw in a few of my own personal highlights and lowlights.
With an eye towards fitness and fun, I re-joined my Karate class and quickly tested up to my next belt. I tried to attend classes twice a week all year long. Overall, I’ve benefited greatly from it. I’m no Bruce Lee, but I can touch my toes, and I feel less guilty when I eat extra calories, so not too shabby! Also, I broke a board using a knife-hand technique and got punched in the ribs so well that I had to get X-rays to make sure they were not cracked!
Cal Newport launched his new book on Digital Minimalism, just as the angst or weariness towards Facebook and social media reached its zenith in our culture.
Also, we played a lot of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 2DS.
We had the surprising 20 year anniversary of The Matrix movie being released. It still shocks me that it’s been so long since that ground-breaking film debuted! Time has flown! Whoa!
I deleted my Facebook account. Again!
Avengers End Game hit the big screen, closing the first Marvel epic mega saga thing-a-ma-bobber. Did I mention it was epic?
This month, I finally watched Captain Marvel. I liked it! My fave stuff was the 90’s nostalgia: dial-up internet, Nirvana, Blockbuster Video, stuff like that. For the record, I really miss video stores! Having it all on my phone is just not the same.
Apple held their annual developer’s conference where the keynote showcased all the new and cool stuff they plan to put on the market. iOS13 and iPadOS looked promising. So far, though, they’ve turned out lackluster and buggy. But the iPhone 11, especially the new camera system, looks fantastic. I’m thinking I’ll stick with iPhone and not switch to Android.
Space! Sci-Fi for real! It was the big 50th anniversary of mankind’s first landing on the moon! On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander touched down, and on July 21, mankind first set foot upon the lunar surface. It is still amazing today!
I switched from using an iPad as my primary computer to a Chromebook. And I’m still loving it!
Nintendo released the new Switch Lite hardware, a handheld-only version of the popular Switch. I think it is doing well in sales and will extend the current generation of Nintendo’s console(s).
My wife and I enjoyed 80’s nostalgia and a bunch of weirdness as we discovered Stranger Things on Netflix. Looking forward to more of that next Summer with a new season.
Also, I rejoined Facebook. Again! Good-grief!
My blog posting took a big nosedive as I devoted all my writing time to authoring a fiction novella for NaNoWriMo 2019. I didn’t finish, but it was a good try. I learned from the experience. And I’ve been trying to get my blogging back up to speed ever since!
The Force was with us (one last time?) in The Rise of Skywalker. NO SPOILERS. I liked it overall. I’d say more, but I shouldn’t do that yet.
I surprised my family at Christmas this year with a Nintendo Switch for all to share! We play Nintendo.
For my annual Reading Challenge on Goodreads, I failed! I aimed for 13 books. I’ve read 9 and two-halves. So far.
Throughout the past year in my house, there’s been a lot of Nintendo, Pokemon, Lego, and Star Wars. We have five (5) sons, so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. Also, this year I tried Apple Music and Spotify music subscription services and decided to stick with Spotify. I love having all the songs!
So what about the coming year? The movies Wonder Woman 1984 and Ghost Busters Afterlife are two on top of my to-watch list. I’m also looking forward to the next season of Stranger Things.
Nintendo could release Breath of the Wild 2, the next Zelda game, but I think that won’t come until 2021. But Animal Crossing: New Horizons debuts in March! So does Final Fantasy VII Remake!!
Starting in February, with pre-release promos as early as this Friday, Pokemon Sword and Shield TCG comes out! A whole new series of cards!
Last December, I was able to upgrade from iPhone 6 to iPhone 7, which is still working great. Maybe at the end of 2020 I can upgrade again.
Anyways, there’s lots of fun stuff to anticipate, more than I can handle! I need the fun stuff to help offset the hard and heavy stuff of life that will always be around. I can overthink things and take things too seriously, so letting the pendulum swing the other way can bring some balance at times.
Lastly, I’ll mention anxiety, which is no fun at all! In 2017, I struggled big-time with major anxiety and panic attacks… Things slowly improved over time. And in 2019, things really changed for the better. I reduced my sugar intake at the end of 2018 and began more fitness in 2019. I think these were major factors contributing to my overall progress out of acute anxiety. Food for thought!
I hope your 2019 was good overall.
Living with Tinnitus may not sound like a big deal. But if you could actually hear the inaudible sounds in someone’s head, you’d think silence is not so golden.
Speaking Of Inaudible Sounds
Those with Tinnitus suffer in silence. Normally, mine is a constant ringing of high-pitched tones, two or three of them at least. Often they’re steady in pitch but sometimes they fluctuate up and down like an old-timey radio without a good signal. It’s definitely unnerving.
When all is quiet, that’s when my Tinnitus is loudest; I hear nothing but constant ringing between my ears. But I alone hear it. Sometimes my head can hardly bear it.
Recently, the tones were so loud, it was very hard for me to go back to sleep in the middle of the otherwise quiet night. I can see how worse cases could drive a person crazy. To fend off the rising anxiety, I practiced deep breathing and focused on that rather than my thoughts or the ringing.
The aural pestilence I hear is not any sound out there in the world around me. I know the sounds are all in my head. But they’re not “just in my head.” They’re actually in there, between my ears or in them.
I don’t know how common Tinnitus is, so when I found someone who knows exactly how it feels to suffer from the internal raucous, I was comforted. Suffer in silence, yes. But suffer alone, no, I don’t have to.
In the last week I discovered a new-to-me blog, Mother Distracted
, where the author puts Tinnitus into words clearly
; she knows exactly what it’s like! In fact, something she wrote in one post
spoke straight to my experience and affirmed it:
“A spike is where something triggers a rise in the volume and duration of your tinnitus. It can be something like an ambulance siren passing by you on the road, a balloon bursting, a door slamming or someone shouting.”
These “spikes” have happened to me many times! They seem to come from nowhere, but occasionally I can tell what the source was.
Something else in the same post grabbed me. She mentioned that gluten could be a spike. I don’t know if it is, but as a matter of fact, I have Celiac Disease and eat gluten-free. But sometimes cross-contamination with gluten occurs. Maybe there is a link?
Hope Worth Hearing
I don’t know how or why I have Tinnitus. And I know there’s no known cure. All I can do is tolerate it and manage it and avoid silence where possible. I’m able to say that the anxiety induced by it can be managed as well.
Thankfully there are others who acknowledge their Tinnitus and share their experience online for anyone to understand.
Since September is Deaf Awareness Month
), and Tinnitus is often associated with deafness,
hopefully this post will bring some comfort or understanding to someone else suffering from Tinnitus. You’re not alone.
Years ago, I carried an iPod touch and a feature phone until I finally replaced them with just an iPhone. Weeks ago, it hit me: why am I carrying my iPhone and my wallet separately yet often together inside my jacket pocket? That’s when I decided to try a wallet case.
Two To One
Besides keys, just about everyone always loads their pockets with a wallet and a phone . A force of good habit, I always do a mental check before I head out somewhere; I’ll even pat my pockets while I do it, you know, to avoid a panic later if either is missing.
For years, I carried my wallet in my back pocket, phone in the front. My wallet always held several types of cards, and these days very little cash if any. But I realized that most of the stuff in my billfold was neither needed nor used like 99% of the time. All I really need is my driver’s license, debit card, and maybe a little cash. That’s it. Carrying both a wallet and a phone struck me as totally redundant or unnecessary.
I checked online for iPhone wallet cases to find the one that would work for me. But I didn’t want to open my current wallet too much – ha! – to buy one . So it had to be functional and affordable. And how about cool looking?
It doesn’t sound inviting, but the wallet case I chose is very attractive. The premium aesthetic of the case is what caught my eye. It has a two-tone look and feel; I opted for black suede with brown leather. The inside is also exquisite; all the stitching is top-notch. The case appears to be put together very well. And it is.
I’ve been using my Snakehive wallet case
for two weeks now, and it is already “breaking in.” The material where it folds is looser, the card slots are less tight, and the leather on the outside looks good with some minor scuffs.
I dropped my new phone wallet a few times and am glad the outer flap covers the screen. The part that holds the phone in place is a flexible rubbery plastic that is the right balance of stiffness and softness. It feels nice to have the entire phone wrapped in protection.
So as I expected, the case looks good, feels good, and is quality craftsmanship. And it only set me back $30 – that’s a good deal! But there are some things I did not expect in switching to a wallet case.
It Feels Different
One of the first things I noticed right away were quick moments of minor panic and relief. In these first two weeks, every time I’d head out and do my mental check, I’d notice my wallet missing from my back pocket! Oh no! A second later, my brain would recall my wallet is my phone, or my phone is my wallet now, and I do have it. It’s in my front pocket. Ok, safe!
The other unexpected thing I noticed is how nice it really feels to have one less little bulky thing to carry around on me and keep up with. Simplicity is an underrated virtue that I find a lot of value in. Cliche it may be, but so what, it’s so true: less is more. I’m a little bit freer now than I was before since going from two loaded full pockets to one.
And the thing I was most unsure about has, so far, turned out to be not a problem. I was concerned about actually being able to use my phone while it is stuck in a flappy covered case. Worst case scenario: I would get frustrated from fiddling with the phone and chuck the case across the room. But that hasn’t happened!
I figured that if the case was a slight encumbrance or hindrance, then that would cause me to use my iPhone less. And that would be a good thing, like using Screen Time to help you break your phone addiction. So I was mentally prepared for some case woes, but like I said, I’ve found no problem with it.
In fact, I’ve adjusted already to how to use the phone while it’s snug in its leather confine. And I’ve found that the middling awkwardness is outweighed by the simplicity and utility of this type of wallet case.
Snake Versus Bison
There’s another animal emobossed wallet case on the market that, honestly, I think I’d like even better than the Snakehive. It’s the Carson Wallet Case by Burkley
– and it’s got a Buffalo!
Besides the cool animal, the big advantage of the Burkley case is that the phone part is magnetic. This lets you remove the phone from your wallet, as easily as slipping out a $20 bill, so you can handle your phone normally without the flappy case attached.
Otherwise, the Burkley is the same as the Snakehive except for the extra cost of that one ideal feature. But it costs over twice as much. That’s more than I wanted to pay this time.
Here’s a handy tip for the Snakehive wallet case. If you sometimes need to tote around a headphone adapter, the super strong magnetic clasp easily secures the tiny cable to your phone.
If you’re looking for a new phone case and have wondered about one that doubles as a wallet, I don’t hesitate to recommend the Snakehive
to you.What kind of phone case do you like?
Have you noticed how many subscription services there are these days? There’s a thing called “Subscription Fatigue” now. It’s where you feel nickeled and dimed to oblivion. Like a continual dripping of water that wears away stone, you can’t take any more subs. And I don’t want a single one.
It makes sense that having too many subscriptions is overwhelming and irritating. A bunch of $5 and $10 fees every month add up fast. Your wallet is constantly pinged for money, like your phone is constantly dinged with notifications. It’s stressful.
But I’m against subs altogether for certain categories of things. Most subs seem to be for tech stuff online, digital content.
For a service like streaming music or movies, I think that works okay. But my biggest gripe is towards a software product. A big example for me is Adobe Lightroom software.
Sure, Adobe bundles their software product with online photo storage as a service, complicating the matter. Yet call me old-school, I don’t care; I want to pay one time up front for software like the simple days.
Another example: I signed up for Apple’s 3-month free trial of Apple Music. Nice service. But I canceled because it’s still not worth $10 a month in perpetuity for me.
I also don’t like games in the app store that are pay-to-play with in-app purchases. I would much rather just pay up front for the game and then enjoy it! I think many people feel suckered in with a “free” game to try out, get hooked, and then be expected to pay-up fee after fee to keep playing the game. That’s not fun!
The popular subs now are for streaming TV shows or movies: Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, etc. Later this year, Disney and Apple are starting their own streaming TV/Movie services too!
The irony with these and what may be coming is the unbundling and re-bundling of bundles. People got tired of cable TV. You paid a lot for a lot of content when you only really wanted a small portion of that content. So people cried for a-la-carte TV.
Now we’ve kinda got what we wanted. We became “cord-cutters” and can now choose to pay only for a few shows or services that we want. But unbundling all the content is proving to be too much to manage. So the tide turns toward simplifying: re-package all the stuff together into one cohesive thing. And give me a discount for it too!
Here’s my experience of a subscription in the past: You pay a one time fee up front, and then you get new magazine every month.
Contrast that with a present day subscription: make a payment every month, and you get a one-time thing (streaming music, software).
You can say that you do get something new on occasion, like new songs or new features. But it feels different. It feels like you’re getting charged repeatedly for the same thing over and over.
Some subs charge you monthly. But some charge annually. I think the annunal ones feel better because it’s a one-time payment once a year. You only feel the hit once.
But the monthly charging is like constantly feeling the hit. And if you have multiple subs, you really feel the hit. It’s just too much.
Maybe subscriptions are ok in general but need to be done differently.
Monthly payments are a thing. Most people finance a car for example. You agree to pay monthly, but it’s for a limited time instead of forever – there’s an end to the paying, so there’s hope. And when you finish paying, you get to keep the car!
But with monthly subs, there’s no end. You’re stuck, shackled to the service forever, your funds continually seeping from your bank account over and over again. And if you stop paying, because you never “finish,” then you do not get to keep the product or service!
A trickier subject that stems from subscribing to services and stuff is about ownership. Are we paying for a product or a service? Or is it just access to a product or service. Or is it a license? Or is it like a lease? Do we keep what we’ve paid for? Is it more like renting than buying?
Anyways, those are some random rants against subscriptions. I don’t care for them. Hopefully they’ll be like a passing fad.
Where do you stand on subscriptions?
Something has bugged me for a while. In American culture, men are basically allowed to express only one emotion – anger. It’s like an unspoken rule. Other emotions men have are downplayed or hidden. Somehow being emotional is linked to weakness or vulnerability.
I have struggled with anxiety and the emotions that tag-along for the bumpy ride. And I know I am not the only anxious person on the planet.
In the blogosphere, there are many who express their struggle with worry and depression. But it seems to me that the vast majority of those online who dare open up and express their anxiety are women.
It makes me ask, “Are there any anxious dudes out there?”
Truly I’ve wondered this. I keep my eyes open, but it is rare to find guys online who share their feeble feelings. I guess because a man would never appear so lame. As if a pack of wolves is really going to move in for the kill.
We all struggle. Some share it. Some hide it. I have found that honesty about wrestling with weakness is a means to gaining strength to overcome it. And finding solace in the fact that you are not alone in your struggle is empowering.
All that said, I wanted to address the situation and find facts to balance my feelings.
Are there any other anxious dudes out there? Yes. There are!
They may not be abundant or available to talk in the blogosphere, but they’re out there in the greater sphere of life. Knowing that, at least, is somewhat helpful.
Here are some articles addressing males with emotional or mental issues or other personality “weaknesses,” which provide evidence that masculinity is not without emotions and, dudes, you’re not alone.
Anxiety versus Masculinity – fight!
From the above Huff Post article, here are some of my thoughts on the 13 things:
1. Understanding that anxiety is as much a physical health issue as it is a mental one helps take away some of the stigma.
2. It is natural and healthy to talk about lack of health! Ironic but true.
3. Anxiety is not a weakness per se, though it makes men look or feel weak. This is tough to deal with because my own anxiety attacks have been physically debilitating in the past. I once was admitted to the ER due to a panic attack. And when you need prescription medicine to help with anxiety, it’s hard to not feel weak since medicine is usually associated with a physical problem. So in a way, anxiety does make you physically weak. I have a hard time balancing this.
7. The all-consuming nature of an anxiety disorder is hard to convey to others who have not experienced it. It helps to find those who have the same struggle because then, besides not feeling alone, you can begin to find more practical help.
8. Anxiety will attack anyone, man or woman.
13. The idea of control is big. With anxiety, one thing you feel is lack of control. That’s tough on a man who is supposed to be a leader or provider. How can he be those things if he is not in control?
This piece from Introvert, Dear talks about men with an introverted personality being in the minority online. But many of the sentiments expressed match my feelings about men with anxiety being scarce on the web.
The author conveys my thoughts so closely that it makes me know I’m not the only one. While I am also an introvert, in the quotes below, replace references to “introversion” with “anxiety.”
“When I browse sites lending themselves to introverts [anxiety], I find that they tend to be filled with women…”
“…there don’t seem to be many of us guys floating around the introvert [anxious] interwebs.”
Confession – I’m one of those emotional types. I may not always show it, but I feel it. As a matter of fact, my feelings can be quite strong.
There’s some more irony for you. In males, emotions tend to be equated with weakness, but, oh man, emotions are so strong sometimes! Some, for example rage, even make you feel super strong. It’s like being a Sith in Star Wars, giving into anger to fuel your power as a guy!
This last article echoes certain points that I’ve said here. It also addresses some unique ones. And it links to two other articles that cover this gender anxiety topic; they’re worth clicking so go check them out too.
One thing to note is how the male author describes anxiety as, “defeating.”
I recall that during the months and weeks leading up to my major anxiety attacks in 2017, I often felt defeated. I used this term to describe the overwhelming and wearisome stress I had experienced when I spoke to my therapist about my anxiety.
“It’s time to get honest: we all feel anxious. Men are not the strong, silent types who don’t feel sad or anxious. Men just have different ways of expressing their feelings.”
– Sean Swaby
I don’t talk too much about my anxiety. Thankfully, it has gotten much better this year due to changes in my diet and exercise. I wrote about that recently here
Anxiety is not my favorite subject to talk about. I kind of avoid it. If you’ve had anxiety or panic attacks and have been debilitated by them, then you know – anxiety is terrible.
In 2017, I struggled with anxiety big time. When I wasn’t giving into the “flight” response, I would use some fighting tactics like reaching out to others for prayer, taking medication, seeing a therapist, and private journaling to cope.
Over the next year, my anxiety weakened as I clawed towards full-recovery. I had to return to “normal!” The process was back-and-forth; my anxiousness flared up at random times. At best, anxiety would hover in the background like a buzzing wasp ready to sting. I couldn’t ever fully shake it.
But finally, there’s been a big improvement in my life. I think there were two changes that made the difference.
Less sweet and more sweat!
It started back in December. After Thanksgiving last year, I had a bad recurrence of anxiety that sent me back to my therapist. I also saw my doctor and discussed my diet, which was suspect. There seems to be a direct link between gut-health and the brain.
So I decided to reduce sugar in my diet, which was huge for me! And my biggest daily intake (addiction) was – coffee! – with cream and sugar. But I didn’t know how I would pull this off. I figured I could survive for one week and see what happens. I’d drink coffee as usual but not add any sugar.
And you know what? Somehow I made it that first week. So I tried a second week. Then I also limited my overall sugar intake. One week led to another. And to this day, 3 months later, I still do not add any sugar to my coffee!
How does this help make a difference in my anxiety levels? I think it improves my gut-health because I no longer have those sugar highs followed by crashes. And the result is that my up and down mood swings are mostly gone! Feeling less grumpy at times, less negative, I also feel less anxious.
There’s also been one other big change in my life recently. In January I rejoined my karate class! I had been out of practice for over a year (initially due to the anxiety). So I quickly began to exercise and train for an upcoming test to rank up a belt. Part of that test is vigorous physical exercise to push you to your limits. Naturally, this impelled me to get my sedentary butt into shape – fast!
As you know, exercise just makes you feel better! And it gets you more focused on your physical body and what’s out in front of you rather than staying stuck in your head in a rut of mental rumination with the brain tumor of worry.
Exercise excises anxiety!
Less sweet and more sweat – good for your health! I think that’s been instrumental in reducing the amount of anxiety I deal with on a regular basis. It no longer seems to lurk in the background of my life, waiting to strike like a viper.
Mentally, I have greater fortitude and resilience. The random negative-voice type thoughts that creep into my brain are fewer and farther between, and I’ve been able to cut them off before they can take root.
Now, I’m not doing a victory dance here. I don’t presume to be fully healed or have a changed personality. Anxiety attacks are not that far behind me; I haven’t forgotten how terrible they are. I’m not letting my guard down, lest I be blind-sided by them again. I still sometimes have what you might call mild anxiety-aftershocks or tremors.
I’m simply saying that – surprise – exercise and diet do positively affect one’s mental (not just physical) state! I know there are other factors to consider. I’m not a psychologist and I’m not giving medical advice. This is my anecdotal evidence I guess.
I’m also saying to you that I’ve been there, in anxiety’s death-grip, and I’ve gotten better over time. There really is hope.
Do you struggle with anxiety? What have you tried to help?