Welp

Two or three days ago, I re-downloaded a Solitaire game on my iPhone. I used to have this on my phone, but dropped it years ago. I don’t play games on my phone. I started playing it a lot while sitting around at home the last couple of days.

I found myself winning about 28% of the games and I think I told my wife I owned Solitaire. She informed me that some of these games only present you with winnable deals of cards. Turns out I had that on. I was only getting winnable deals and I was winning 28%. Deflated.

So far this week, I’ve run 24 miles. More than last week. I’m finding that I’m slower than I hope to be and I’ve maybe realized that I’ll never really be much faster. Getting older. Running a ½ marathon in 16 days. So there is that. And, I’m tired of Garmin telling me my runs are ‘Unproductive’ which I find totally unacceptable, demoralizing, and not helpful. Hey, I’m out there. My friend ran the Chicago Marathon this past weekend. Jealous.

I don’t know where you are or how you are doing but I hope you are well and you are surrounded by friends.

Conversations and Listening

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and friends lately. I’ve mentioned a few times before about this, but it has been been and remains on my mind.

A couple of weeks ago I flew to SF and had an evening catching up with some dear friends that I used to work with at STX. We had a great evening catching up and talking about the past and the future. Most have moved on to new adventures and it was a great evening. One is lucky if some of the people you work with become your friends.

One of my friends recently wrote about learning to listen better on her blog. and it deeply resonated with me because I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and trying to be a better listener (put that phone down). I’ve read from several places how important it is to deeply listen to others and listen to understand, not listen to respond. I’ve been trying to be better at this in the last weeks and months. I think she spoke somewhere on this recently and I would loved to hear what she said and has learned.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with people that I’ve not known before and they’ve not known me. I’ve just been in some new situations and traveling and other so I’ve had the chance to meet and visit a lot of new people. In almost every conversation the other person has proceeded to do almost all the talking about themselves; about their situations; interests, and about whatever was on their mind. The conversations have been tilted way towards them and their lives. In fact, it has gotten to where I’ve been conducting an experiment, after a while, to see if at any point they ask anything about me or what I do or what I think about X, Y or Z. I’ve been amazed by this! Is this the norm and I’m just now noticing it or am I just meeting a skewed sample of people lately?

Someone wrote that if you want to be come an interesting person, then be interested in others. I’m trying to be more interested in others.

Hope you have a great week. And I hope you are surrounded by good friends. Blessings.

Ripples Through Time

I unfollowed Westbrook (@russwest44) online. I can’t bear to see his posts these days. Sometime later this year in the NBA season, he may break the all time triple double record in the NBA and he won’t be wearing an @okcthunder jersey. Can’t bear to watch it. I will, of course, welcome him when he returns to OKC, but I might leave after he is introduced because I’m not sure I can watch him play against us.

I’ve been running a lot lately. I aspire to get more consistent and walk less, but the universe may have encoded into its very DNA that I will never be much faster/better. It might be like the message encoded into Pi in the book Contact.

I’ll close with this….

A friend of mine is very sick and fighting cancer. We are doing all we can to help. One of several reasons for our fighting for this fierce friend is that years ago, this friend treated our high school aged daughter as a real person, connected with her and included her. It meant so much to my wife and me. Our choices and actions ripple through time. What good you do today ripples through time. Always lean towards doing good. We stand with this dear friend for many reasons, and this is one of them.

Privacy Again

I’ve been troubled for quite a while about our deteriorating privacy in the modern era as everything we do, everywhere we go, what we look at, what we ‘like’, what we read or watch, is being tracked, stored, packaged and sold. In particular, apps on our phones track and record a lot of data about us. And that data can be then shared with others without our permission or knowledge.

The chaos around the last US election and the manipulation of opinions and attitudes by 3rd parties is very troubling and all of us should be concerned about it even as we don’t know how to deal with it.

A few days ago I read a post entitled the Facebook Catastrophe that urged readers to listen to the Techtonic podcast Roger McNamee, author, “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe” from May 6, 2019. I met Roger years ago and he spoke at one of my staff meetings where I worked. The thoughts he shared on the podcast which came from his new book are really troubling. I’m going to read the book.

After listening to this podcast I next listened to The Great Hack on Netflix as the ideas seemed to be related. This was just more insights into how all of these platforms enable us to be manipulated.

So, today I deactivated my Facebook account.

I didn’t delete it, just deactivated it. That might not actually solve any of the problems I’m worried about as I’m sure the data is still there about me, but at least I’m further removed from adding to that data and I’m not seeing what they choose to show me. I don’t think I use Facebook login services anywhere, but I’m going to be watching to see.

The next worry is here.

Thoughts? What are you doing about all of this?

Just Be Nicer

A great article on LinkedIn about being nicer has the following to say:

Be a person who takes the time to understand the lives of others. Be a person who looks out for those around them. Be a person who takes on a little bit of inconvenience to make someone else’s day a little bit easier. Let little things go. Smile more. Acknowledge strangers, acknowledge your friends. Recognize opportunities and talk about how fortunate you were to have them, then try to create those opportunities for others. Be nice to yourself. Respect your aptitudes by trying to be your best. Lead with integrity. Stand up for the most vulnerable people amongst us. Lean towards justice over convenience.

Josh Jones

Underwhelmed, Connections, Overwhelmed and Peace

Amazon Prime Day has completely underwhelmed me. One of the things that I think about for events like this is how well the vendor (Amazon) has dialed into what I consistently buy or look at over time and then how well their smart analytics and data mining tune offers to match what I’m likely to be interested in and I might want to buy. I’ve seen nothing interesting so far. I’m surprised and underwhelmed.

Yesterday I was contacted about a Dean position at a University a few states away. I declined because I’m not interested in moving. I’ve never really considered such a position but it might be fun. However, it got me thinking about LinkedIn and recommendations on LinkedIn which I’ve never really cultivated. In a weak moment, I sent requests to some former colleagues at different places asking for recommendations in case I might need or want them in the future (before they forget me). Several have since called me and several have sent me recommendations already. If nothing else, I at least re-connected with some friends.

These past two months have been a time of reflection and reconsideration about many things. Church, organizations, growing older and what is ahead. Going to be a grandfather soon which is hard to believe. Talked to two different friends yesterday and had great conversations about things in the past and things ahead. Some other friends have moved away and I don’t see them as often which makes me sad. Some other things are not unfolding as I might have hoped or thought. Have been re-impressed with the value of friends and cultivating friends and connecting with those around.

On a really bright note, my wife and I had the chance to take a quick vacation this past week when we visited Alaska. Lots of great sights and times. And I got to experiment with a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix B600, which has quite a zoom lense capability. Really enjoyed working with it and realized I have much to learn.

The zoom…

Wherever you are and whatever your situation, I wish you well. May peace be upon you.

Being Taken to the Cleaners

I’ve come to believe that we are being taken to the cleaners over and over in simple and subtle ways.

Case in point, when your state issues tax refunds for overpayments on a debit card. They are absolutely, 100% on purpose, taking advantage of those of us who lose the cards or never get around to using them or are just overwhelmed with dealing with another card and account to set-up. Remember, you must call their 800 number and listen to their commercial in order to activate the card. That state keeps that which is never used.

Or how about medical service providers who send you a bill for an amount after insurance has paid what they will pay, you write them a check, and then weeks or months later you get a check in the mail for overpayment. Once again, they are counting on you not cashing that check and they were leveraging your money during the time of the overpayment by earning interest on those funds. This is not accidental.

And of course, the insurance companies send you a Explanation of Benefits written in a foreign language to most of us using codes and things we don’t understand to justify what they are going to pay for and not pay for on this claim. And, of course, they include several pages of how you appeal the payment of which nobody does.

Our leaders in Washington don’t have to live by the very laws we must obey. They get their own health insurance and retirement plans. They get to trade securities with insider information without fear of prosecution. They are lobbied by special interests (everybody, everything, every country) and people who go into Congress with typical financial resources end up millionaires within a few years.

And statistics are used to prove whatever points is required in the current argument or cause. For both sides.

I don’t think of myself as paranoid, instead, I think of myself and seeing more and more of this around me. It is just reality.

I think I’m going to read this Moneyland book. That will probably set me off further.

Take care of your friends and family that are nearby. Be kind. Help those who need a little help. Be gracious. The ‘system’ is not going to help and we need to help each other and just be kind along the way.