Living Unconnected.

Speaker Simon Sinek speaks about the benefits of turning your phone off and putting it completely away when you’re interacting with people in real life. I need to do this more. I need to be better at this. This is my July 30 day self-challenge.


Cross-posted from my Facebook account. Yes, I still use Facebook and I have no idea why I do.

I’ve been trying not to make political posts on FB because honestly I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about anything, especially in this “warring factions” mentality we have in our society. But I have to say this: there are a lot of good people that have lived long, productive lives contributing to society. Teachers, counselors, clergy, firefighters, soldiers, people from all walks of life. As they age their bodies start deteriorating in ways that they can not control. In their quest to live as long as they can (just like we all do), they require more and more medical care. That medical care can be expensive. Should these people be denied medical care because they can’t afford insurance? A spokesperson from the Trump administration states that Medicaid recipients should go out and get jobs. Medical insurance should be a reward for working hard at your job. I don’t know too many 80 year old Alzheimer’s patients that could handle that sort of challenge. Is a person battling cancer suppose to work at McDonalds in between radiation treatments? Where would you like a developmentally disabled child to work? Making headlamps at an auto factory?

The Affordable Care Act was not perfect. But repealing it and replacing it later (which is the latest dialog coming out of the White House since they can’t agree on the meanness level of TrumpCare now) is not the answer. A sane person does not plan to replace a refrigerator by burning down the house and then sleeping in the elements for months before starting to build a new house with a new refrigerator in it.

I know it’s ‘fun’ to scream about how awful Hillary was and to throw rocks at people that are different than you and to hoard all your money so you can watch people that are ‘less than you’ suffer on the street. We all get our kicks in our own way. But, c’mon, can we start searching for a common compassion for one another, set aside our differences for just a moment and admit that we are a stronger society, stronger nation when we were together and find a common ground?


In January 1977 we entered room 205 for another Monday of third grade and found a substitute teacher sitting behind the desk. Mrs. Delaney, our regular teacher, would be out sick for the following five weeks as she recovered from emergency gall bladder surgery. Even at age 9 I found this a little surprising since Mrs. Delaney was a young woman. Young pretty teachers don’t get sick. Old people have problems with their gall bladder. She was recently married, in fact, before our class had begun in September she was known as Miss Heilig. She was a pretty blonde woman and she had a tolerance of my odd ways. She accepted the fact that I would speed through every piece of homework and exam at warp speed. She never scolded me for turning in my paper first. She couldn’t figure out why I added numbers the way I did but it worked and she let me do it that way.

Quick aside: posed with a question like “8+7”, I would adjust it to a 10 before blurting out “15”. So in little competitive games to see who could add the fastest, she would say “8+7” and I would yell out “8+7, 9+6, 10+5, 15”. This would bewilder my competitor and while they were trying to count sticks in their head or whatever, I was whipping through this rapid, machine-gun way of adding and I would win a chocolate bar. That was always nifty. This trend sticks with me today.

Anyway, Mrs. Delaney was out sick and behind the desk sat Mrs. Davis. She wore a dress. Her old lady hair was quite red with some help and in the perfect old lady style. Though she retired many years ago she had a reputation throughout the district, young and old, as a taskmistress. She put up with no bunk. She did not tolerate a lack of obedience. Students will keep their desks neat and tidy. Mrs. Delaney had an unused paddle emblazoned with “Board of Education” hanging alongside the chalk board. Mrs. Davis didn’t need such a thing, she just slammed the ruler down if there was any sort of lack of attention. WAP! Even the most misbehaved boy in our class, another boy named John, who in later years would spend some time in prison, wept at the thought of Mrs. Davis teaching for an undetermined amount of time. I just did what I was told.

Mrs. Davis was known as “Dynamite Davis”. The woman could explode. She had a raspy yell that garnered the attention of people within a five mile radius. Even my dad and aunt talked about Dynamite Davis and they had been out of school for many years. The woman was a local legend.

I ran into Dynamite Davis years after I graduated from high school and had a pleasant conversation with her on a Sunday evening in a local restaurant. In elementary school she terrified me (but inspired me to stay the honor student I was at the time) and she was no nonsense but like Mrs. Delaney, she rode with me on my little idiosyncrasies and encouraged me to do what I needed to do to get to the right answer. She never scolded me for being the first one to turn in an exam or quiz. She had a hard look and a scary voice but she was alright. When we chatted years later she remembered me, my aunt and my dad and she had a nice old-lady smile. Like many teachers, she remembered details. “You always watched that clock.”

Inexplicably I enjoyed a very vivid dream about her last night. Like many of my dreams of people that have passed on, it felt uncannily real, she encouraged me to continue to do my best and smirked about the way I still add in my head. (The 8+7, 9+6, 10+5 15 routine drives Earl crazy). We had a normal conversation. I could smell her perfume. Her voice had softened slightly. She told me she doesn’t understand what schools are doing today with our youth and that we need to get back to a more disciplined environment in school districts. I asked her if we could take a selfie together so I could show the community that she is quite happy on The Other Side. She agreed, we laughed, we posed together and of course I couldn’t get my iPhone to work. That always happens when I try to take a selfie in a dream.

I woke up with my iPhone in my hand, camera activated. I was still smiling. The scent of Dynamite’s perfume was dissipating rapidly.

Who knew that the famous Dynamite Davis could make me smile?


With Earl and I getting ready to relocate to the Midwest later this summer we’ve been doing some odds and ends around the house getting it ready to be a market showplace. Every room (except the bathrooms) has a ceiling fan/light fixture on the ceiling. We both agreed that it would probably be best if we didn’t have to show prospective owners of our house how to beat on the kitchen ceiling fan with a broom to cool it down a little.

Enter a ceiling fan installation project.

The instructions on this Harbor Breeze ceiling fan were pretty straightforward and estimated that installation would take 120 minutes. We were able to get it installed in less than 90 minutes. When we fired everything up and confirmed that neither the wall nor ceiling were on fire, we discovered that the original electrician used non-standard color assignments for the wiring so the light switch was operating the fan and the fan switch was operating the light. I opted to just flip the wires at the combo switch and voila, light flicks light and fan spins fan.

We were so elated with our progress that we went crazy and reinstalled the toilet in the downstairs bathroom that had been removed for the floor tile replacement project of last week. Earl and I have seated and reseated toilets in this house so many times that we have it down to a science. The toilet was installed, flushed twice, peed in once and flushed again without a leak (except my power pee) in less than 10 minutes.

A great night of accomplishment.


I would really like to hear thoughts and comments from others on what Simon Sinek says about Donald Trump in this video. This interview is from June 2016. One of the quotes from the interview, “A narcissistic population gets narcissistic politicians”, led me into some self-reflection today.

What can we do to make our society less narcissistic?

This Is A Test.

So this is a test. I’ve downloaded a hideous blogging tool called BlogPad Pro for my iPad. The buttons are outrageously huge. The user interface is atrocious. The fonts are awful and the colors are mindblogging.

Yet, it’s the only blogging app for iOS that can reliably connect to my self-hosted blog. Even the native WordPress app can’t handle that job. It chokes at random times on any given day.

Screenshot of this entry in progress

After this bit of griping I’ve decided to give this app a whirl. As hideous as it looks it still does what it does well and the user friction seems to be low. 

Wish me luck.


One of the first things I needed to do to prepare the house for our move is remove the school clock collection from the walls.

I was a bit hesitant to do this as I didn’t remember how many holes had been drilled to get the wiring to the clocks.

No two clocks in the collection are identical. Look carefully.

Most of the clocks are moving with us. Those that don’t move will be relocated to good homes where I know they’ll be well taken care of. 

I’m really excited about this next step in our adventure together.

Positive Attitude.

Image courtesy of

For the month of June I have really been trying hard to have a positive attitude across all facets of my life. Work has thrown some curve balls. Home has been hectic as we plan our move to Chicago and with getting the house ready for sale. The state of the Republic is shaky at best with a complete circus of incompetence in the Oval Office, but I like to think that we will survive all of this.

I had to unfollow quite a few political commentators that I had been following on Twitter. The relentless barrage of retweets, tweets, speculation and downright lies as they pertain to the Trump administration finally overwhelmed me to the point that I just couldn’t take it anymore. Once I made that adjustment to my Twitter feed I was able to be more positive about the world in general. I don’t know if it’s a case of ignorance is bliss or just weeding out excessive noise, but whatever it is it has me headed in the right direction.

The other night I spewed out a bunch of tweets about Democrats and Republicans and the lack of competency across the board but then I calmed down and found my positive center again. Counting to five before reacting will help change bad habits. And it seems to be working.

Being the dork that I am I often ask myself, “what would a superhero, unable to change into their super self, do in this situation.” I then reach for glasses that I’m not wearing and ponder this for a moment, count to five and try to remain calm. It’s a tough habit to break, especially when there’s a lot of snark within earshot. Being snarky can be fun but it’s rarely productive. It’s not a positive contribution to help quell the noise, it’s just a way of letting of steam. Someone, maybe it was Maya Angelou, said, “people might not remember what you say but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”

I want people to feel happy around me. I want to be a light in the darkness (very pale Irish skin notwithstanding).

So when the going gets tough I might find myself a perch from which to observe and I’ll smile in a mischievous way and then try to bring some good into the situation. My goal is to be a shining example of how to be a positive force in the world. This 30 day challenge should go on for many years to come.


Image courtesy of Corning Glass Presentation, “A Day Made of Glass”.
I have gotten in the habit of watching something on my iPad while I watch my teeth. I do this because it takes a few minutes to watch something and the result is that I end up brushing my teeth for a longer period of time, which is good for oral hygiene.

While Apple wants us to do all of our media consumption on our iPad, iPhone or Apple TV (with a smattering of Apple Watch thrown in), the truth of the matter is that I want us to have the tech right now that lets us consume media wherever we can consume it. For example, I want to be able to watch a video or catch up on my work schedule or whatever while I’m brushing my teeth. Corning Glass is on the right track with the concept of a “connected bathroom”; the processing power lives in your tablet but glass surfaces, mirrors, etc., all with embedded displays, can display the data.

This is wicked cool to me.

If you look closely at the graphics on the mirror in the photo above, you’ll see there is calendar information, weather, a thermostat control for the bathroom and controls to run the shower. Apparently there’s also a remote control for a Smart coffeemaker. 

With the Internet of Things explosion of the past couple of years, we have all of this today. Nest thermostats allow us to control the room temperature remotely. Calendars on a myriad of devices. I’m not sure about electronic temperature control for showers but I’m sure there are smart energy use devices out there that have this functionality and the same goes for controlling your coffee pot remotely. The problem is that all of this technology is disorganized. Everyone (Apple, Amazon, Google, Nest, etc.) are building ecosystems that sort of talk to each other but there’s a lot of friction in building an intermediary to get everything to talk to each other.

This is not going to help this technology go mainstream.

I want all of my technology to talk to each other, seamlessly without bickering as to who’s ecosystem I’m using, and I want data displayed on touch-enabled glass services. I’ve been telling Earl that as we ready for the move to Chicago, I want our new home to be as high tech as possible. Finding an ecosystem for our tech investment should not be a laborious process. If the new home already has a Nest, I want various modes of input, whether it be Siri or a touchscreen or Amazon’s Alexa, to be able to talk to that Nest. This habit of putting things in silos is crazy. It’s like buying a new washing machine and realizing that the water outlet on the wall is incompatible with the hoses that feed the washer. We wouldn’t put up with that.

Why do we put up with all of these differing standards when it comes to equipping our home with the latest in automation technology?

Now, to go find that touchscreen mirror for the bathroom.