The case of the traveling package…

So on November 28, I ordered a gift for my wife for Christmas. On 12/3 it shipped via FedEx Smartpost where FedEx ships the package to the local USPS office who then delivers to the home. No problem so far.

The shipment arrived at FedEX on 12/3 as shown below where it then moved to Dallas and then to Fort Worth. All seems good so far.

The package then ships from Texas and arrives in Edmond, OK, persumably at a local FedEx site? Not sure. The package is then listed as in transit to my local USPS office in Arcadia, OK but something happens. Barcode unreadable?

Seems like someone spilled coffee on the package at the Edmond FedEx site? Or tore the barcode? Or what? But no worries, the label is replaced and it leaves the site. Should be less than 10 miles from my home and the label has been replaced.

But here is the rest of the FedEx log file so far and note we are now six days later and the box has not arrived.

So my package that was 10 miles or so from where I sit got back on a truck and went to Texas again. Then it decided Arkansas is lovely this time of year so it drove over there for a while. Then it went back to Texas, this time to a different Texas site. It left that last Texas site last Friday (today is Monday) at 10:07 AM and it has not been scanned since for three days.

USPS is not acknowledging any such package and no more updates from FedEX.

Now the good folks at @carbon2cobalt have refunded my shipping costs but really, they should probably charge me more for the amazing scenic journey this package is taking. The stories it can tell.

It is a busy time of year and instead of being mad, I’m enjoying the journey. Cheers to all the delivery men and women who are driving on bad roads, long hours, in bad weather to get those packages where they belong!

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.

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?

Non-Fiction Winners

I seem to love three genres of reading and one of them is science non-fiction for laymen, i.e. for non-experts in the field. I’ve been struck by several amazing books in the past year or two and I’ve mentioned a couple of them before. However, I wanted to do this post to pull together a good list of amazing books to check out.

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli is a book that unravels the nature of time as we currently understand it. Ideas such that there is a smallest ‘tick’ of time, i.e. time is not continuous as we might think, and the faulty view of thinking about events happening simultaneously were just amazing. The question of wondering what is happening in the Andromeda galaxy right now is nonsensical. This is one of only a handful of books that after finishing it on Audible, I started it over immediately and listened to it again.

The Order of Time caused me to immediately follow with another of Rovelli’s books, Reality is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Rovelli again. Another fascinating and very understandable journey through some amazing ideas.

I’ve posted about The Information: A History, a Theory a Flood by James Gleick is a wonderful review of the development of information theory which covers networking, communications, codes and computing. I’ve gone through this two or three times.

I’m currently listening to Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder. This book is challenging some foundational ideas that I’ve believed in for years. I’m not done with this one yet, but I’m thinking there are some critical ideas here about security and the future of computing.

And finally, Scale, The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life, in Organisms, Cities, Economies and Companies by Geoffrey West. I’ve recommended this one to several and then some of those people have come back to me to discuss this they have further recommended it to their circles. I’ve been through this one twice too.

If you have any you’d recommend along these lines, please let me know.

Re-reading

I’ve been re-reading a lot lately. Re-listening on Audible. Re-watching movies.

Lately This Present Darkness, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again, 14 and Unoffendable. I’m thinking about listening to IT again and I keep rewatching Avengers movies and Star Wars: Rogue One. And of course, any Harry Potter movie that is on when I need to just veg is a go.

Seems I need to find some new reading directions.

And, not sure what to put here anymore.

Changes to Listening

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.

Two Recommendations

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.

And at the recommendation of JE I’ve just finished listening to Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Stevenson. He is coming to OKC to speak in a few days. Must listening. Must read. By the way you should follow JE’s blog here.

Epilogue: Running

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.