Well, I’m missing friends and family. Would not have expected this.
Can’t really visit with my parents or others other than by my phone or message or email. Missing seeing my friends at church. Miss working out in the gym with others that I know. Missing running occasionally with my running partner. Haven’t seen my sister or brother in weeks. Have seen my daughter and son-in-law some but trying to generally keep a distance from my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Having to do zoom meetings instead of going and sitting down with friends. Was supposed to teach a class at church this quarter but that blew up so I’m missing that experience too.
We dropped off about 30 care bags for a group we are in, some of our neighbors, some nearby family and some nearby friends. That was fun.
My calendar is nearly empty now which is so weird. Can’t even process that.
I hope wherever you are and whoever you are with that you are being safe and careful.
I hope you know you are loved. Reach out and connect.
After this Covid-19 experience, whenever that is, what will go back to normal and will have a new normal?
Education is going to be transformed in multiple fashions driven by the realization that much of our learning can be done online without the need to be face-to-face with a teacher or a class. This will have huge impact on higher-ed in particular.
Will we return to shaking hands again?
What about churches where we pass communion trays across a row of strangers and where our kids are dropped off in a smaller class taught by someone and with some others that we don’t know or don’t know their health stories or practices. What about our older church members who go to church faithfully week after week, but suddenly they are going to realize their health may be impacted by that which they’ve done forever.
What are the 2nd and 3rd order impacts of this economic impact to our cities? Some leaders have suspended rent and evictions and the like. Well, what about the people who are expecting that rental income or need to remove a misbehaving tenant from their property? When Mayors close all the bars and restaurants, what about the employees losing their jobs there and the owners who are losing their income? Then what happens to them and their families?
I’ve been stewing on what to say about the Christianity Today article Trump Should Be Removed from Office on 12/19. What to say? He was elected by the US voters with the process and ground rules in place to win the nomination and the general election. Yes, social media probably distorted viewpoints, but in the end, he won. He is the US President.
He has done some things that are directionally correct in standing up to some foreign powers and in intending to call out some who really need to be called out. He has, perhaps, appointed more judges and perhaps we’ll have more balance in our courts for a season.
But here is the deal. He is fundamentally not a good person. The CT articles states:
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
James Comey wrote this week on Twitter:
I’m not here endorsing or defending Comey and I think the Democrats are equally a nightmare.
The impeachment process in the House has been a show itself. The Democrats wouldn’t let the Republicans bring some witnesses and then the Democrats are stunned and can’t believe the Republicans won’t let them bring witnesses to the Senate trial. Further, Pelosi holding the articles up and not delivering them to the Senate for trial as she is supposed to do further magnifies that all of this is a show.
Trump may directionally get some things right, but he is not a good person and he shouldn’t be the leader of this country.
I suspect the Senate will convene and quickly put this to an end by acquitting or denying the claims. Then the show will continue with the next chapter.
The Democrats may do another impeachment. Trump will tweet away. And our country will continue be led by a morally bankrupt person who we elected.
Shame on us. Shame on the Republicans. Shame on the Democrats. Shame on all of us.
Three days after the CT post, I saw this online:
As I read the Christianity Today essay, I was reminded once again of the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” Donald Trump is bringing an avalanche of lies into this world. It’s time for Christians once again to consider whether they want those lies to come through them—through their votes and their voices.
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.
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.
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.
Wherever you are and whatever your situation, I wish you well. May peace be upon you.
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.
The last few weeks have been some of the most intensive thinking weeks I’ve had in a long time. I’m working trying to understand some problems and challenges and then trying to figure out the best path forward given those challenges. During these times, I’ve had many important and deep conversations with some colleagues as we’ve talked through these challenges and how to best move forward.
During these discussions, and some side discussions, I’ve been repeatedly reminded about how so many of us tend to think we are right in our viewpoints, directions, and opinions and anyone thinking differently is wrong. Of course we are right, we’ve considered all the facts and made a decision and it fits our worldview perfectly. Plus we are invested in that viewpoint and the idea of us being wrong is nearly inconceivable. Furthermore, the other person and viewpoint are evil.
There is a passage in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament that I’m mindful of these days where in Micah 6:8 where it says:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly
This simple passage in Micah says so much to me.
I’m so tired of people who do not extend the “benefit of doubt” towards others on matters where they have no real understanding. People are critical of things via sms or email across hundreds of miles when they weren’t there to see what they are complaining about. Where is walking humbly? Where is loving mercy? Where is trusting the people you know there at the scene?
I’m tired of people who can not extend grace to others.
Everything in Washington (and on Twitter/Facebook) is black and white and the other person is evil and wrong and should be smashed and obliterated. Where is listening and trying to understand? Where is walking humbly in your thinking?
I’m tired of people who are not invested in a solution, being critical of those who are trying to do the right thing. If you are not willing to be in the arena, then you don’t get a vote.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Life is hard people. Be kind, for you do not know what battles others are fighting. Let’s learn to listen and try to understand first, second and third.
One day you might need grace from someone. One day you might need someone to listen to you.
I’m reading the book Deep Work right now and it too has caused me to rethink about what ‘noise’ is invading my days. And, this month at church, we are talking about the idea of ‘breaking up with your phone’ and in that study, we are hearing a lot of data about how our addiction to our mobile phones is having a dreadful harmful impact on our lives.
Whether it is your mobile phone, television or your computer, we have a lot options to pipe noise into our lives
If you listen to cable news network all day long one mostly hears negative views of everyone in all directions: all is bad, nothing is working, everybody is your enemy. (I do like the last story on CBS Evening news which always seems to be a positive story about someone or something that works.)
Local news spends a big fraction of their reporting on murders, fires, thefts, corruption and car wrecks.
Social Media streams to are quick to point out blame or evil. And in a flash, you can attack, or take sides, or fan the flames.
Podcasts are available on every single possible topic on the planet. Many good, many bad, and many that might just not be helpful. A source of true crime and hate messages.
True Crime shows are the rage on tv now, but they are just so frightening and gloomy. These can make you want to just stay inside and pack a weapon all the time.
Many movies and shows on television are not very good messages to pipe into our heads and the heads of our kids.
Facebook is sometimes full of joy (birth and marriages) and other times full of sadness (death, loss and sickness). Unfortunately, it is also a place (like Twitter) where people, who might otherwise seem normal, will bombard you with politics or news that you do not want to hear. The last presidential election cycle was a nightmare.
A while back I referenced the book Factfulness which tells us that perhaps, things are better than we realize. And really, there are lots of good people and organizations around trying doing to do the right things.
So where does all this go and what do I do about it.
I’ve cut way back on listening to the news. I’m mostly interested in the weather forecasts (something that might justify another post) and sports. I do try to check in on the national news daily, but I don’t spend a lot of time with it.
I used to listen to true crime podcasts and was fascinated with the solved and unsolved cases. However, I got to a point were the scary, negative, sad, awful was overpowering. And, as some of you know, I’m a runner and I would listen to these on early morning runs before the sun comes up. It is not a good mix to listen to these stories while out alone in the dark. Not needed. I’ve stopped listening to this whole genre.
On my mobile phone, I’ve turned on screen time app limits to limit social media access daily.
As mentioned on my last post, I’ve deleted Facebook and some other apps from my phone.
I think there are more steps to take and I’m on a journey here. I’d welcome hearing your thoughts and recommendations on how to best throttle or control the pipe of news and information that is streaming into my head.
However, I did just finish listening to Dr. Death podcast at the recommendation of SL and as a result I’ve decided to never need surgery. I wrote on an earlier post how essential it is to have a medical advocate to support you when going into surgery or serious medical issues. Wow.
So my fierce running partner and I decided to run 1,400 miles last year. I had run 700+ the year before while dealing with a foot injury so it was almost doubling my mileage in the year. We completed the task by mid-December and we made ourselves some medals to recognize the milestone.
And, of course, we’ve signed up to run another marathon this year.
I’ve been troubled and conflicted for a while about how our privacy is threatened and how by using so many apps and services online, I’m giving away what might be private information to 3rd parties to then use or re-sell. I wrote about this last May when I wrote about Post Privacy.
Tech optimists used to wax poetic about how the internet was going to make us a smarter, more erudite, more empathetic global community. But in 2018, it’s become clear that we’re in the middle of a communication breakdown, and that nobody has a good answer for how to properly engage with the things we once posted online, however dumb or horrible.¹
There has been a recent wave of articles about online privacy and several make very good points or point to tools that help you erase or reduce your online footprint.
At this particular moment in time, a lot of people seem to be interested in making that a reality — or at least in trying to completely cover up their tracks. Signal, a text and phone-call encryption app that comes with a recommendation from Edward Snowden, recorded a 400 percent jump in downloads after the election. And while landlords, colleges and potential employers have examined the social-media presence of applicants for years, there are signs that this kind of scrutiny is close to getting much more invasive.²
And I also took down my very first blog. I didn’t delete the blog, but I made it private. That hurt. I really loved what I had written there over many, many years.
I still have this blog (and here I’m writing away) and I have my prior professional blog about IT which I’ve still left up but I’m not posting there much anymore. I might take it down at some point too.
I can’t figure out what to do with Facebook. I’m tired of their security breakdowns, their misuse of data, and their insights about us. But it is the only way we connect with some of our friends and family so I don’t have a good plan there yet. I’ve almost stopped posting anything and I don’t check it much these day. I’ve deleted it from my phone.
Have you taken any steps like these? Any learnings?
¹ Winkie, Luke. “The Depressing Truth About Deleting Your Online History.” Medium.com, Medium, 11 Jan. 2019, medium.com/s/thenewnew/the-depressing-truth-about-deleting-your-online-history-92f26d24f907.
I’m considering doing a once per week post on three great things I’ve read during the week. Just considering it. Here are three for this week.
Why You Should Trust People First is a terrific post on why you should take that risk and speak up, ask, be vulnerable, greet, welcome, help that other person. In general, it is so worth it. Highly recommended.
Add Value To One Person’s Life Per Day is another great post suggesting that every single day, we need to find someone to help. Your help of that person will further help and compound as they likely then go on and do something good for someone else. Just get into the habit. Every single day.
You might be thinking that adding value to one person’s life is not enough of an impact. I once thought that too.
Until I realized that adding value is contagious.
When you do it once, the person you help passes it on. The second part happens in secret, though.
“You don’t see the significance of the value you’ve given to someone because the person you helped does it without thinking”
It’s natural that when we’ve seen the power of adding value to one person’s life, we want to pass it on. We collectively end up mimicking the behavior and just forget to label it as “I helped add value to one person today.”
Adding value to a persons life is contagious. Helping people is contagious too.
It’s time that people start realizing you can’t be the noun without doing the verb. You can’t be a writer, if you don’t write. You can’t be a cook, if you never cook. You can’t be an athlete, if you never train. In what areas of your life do you call yourself the noun without doing the verb? It’s time to get consistent.