12.

The modern spin on “11 12” from Sesame Street. They updated it nicely while keeping The Pointer Sisters’ original audio around.

Focus.


I was recently chastised on Twitter for mentioning that I had “OCD tendencies”. I don’t remember the tweet that I was responding to at the time, oh, yes I do, it had to do with people still criticizing Apple for “the notch” in the iPhone X. I said that if I could survive using an iPhone X 18 hours a day with the notch not bothering my “OCD tendencies” then it must not be a big deal.

The criticism was you either have OCD or you don’t, it’s like being partly pregnant and you can’t do OCD part way. Well excuse me for living.

I didn’t bother replying to the criticism about my choice of words surrounding OCD because it wasn’t really worth my time and the exercise would have been futile. I’ve never been clinically labeled with OCD but I can tell you this:

  1. I will always straighten a crooked picture
  2. I will always eat my meals by eating one food at a time, even deconstruction a meatball sub by eating the cheese first, eating all the meatballs, then eating the bread. I do the same thing with salads, eating all the cucumbers first, the tomatoes next and so on
  3. I have a bad habit of correcting people during a conversation, for example, when they say “I could care less” (because it’s “I couldN’T care less”). I know, it’s rude of me
  4. Road signs with off-center legend makes me crazy
  5. This list could go on and on but you get the picture

My productivity practices, which include both my personal and professional lives, involve using a very specific way of me keeping my “to do” list organized. Because of my love for Apple products, I have always used macOS and iOS based software to manage all of my thoughts and subsequent Task Lists, namely using the software OmniFocus. I’ve used OmniFocus for many years. When work took away all the Macs and told us we had to use a Windows laptop to stay in compliance with company IT practices, I lost my ability to access OmniFocus on my work computer. This change in policy took effective October 1, 2017, and since then my focus has been less than stellar because I’ve been trying to find a way to compensate with some sort of “cross-platform” approach. The “OCD-like” side of me is bothered by the fact that I can no longer access the same list from all of my devices. I’ve tried a number of solutions to no avail:

  1. Google Keep (which makes me crazy because I’m feeding Google’s ad habits) is blocked at work
  2. I tried writing things down on paper but I don’t walk around with a notebook with me at all times, so when I had an idea I would type it into Notes on my iPhone but then have to remember to add it to the “official” written Task List
  3. I tried keeping lists in OneNote, the company sanctioned software, but the less-than-stellar quality of Microsoft’s software resulted in syncing issues, forgetting my credentials for my work account, and lost information
  4. I tried maintaining a plain-text file using ToDo.txt on Dropbox, which would have been available throughout all of my devices, until work blocked Dropbox because we are allowed to use only Microsoft’s OneDrive for “cloud storage”

I’ve ended up firing up my work Mac, which I still have in my possession with a claim that I need backup in case my Windows laptop dies. As a remote employee I always need a backup plan. This is working fairly well except that it’s bothering me to have two different laptops sitting on my desk. The Mac isn’t allowed to officially talk to the work network anymore, but it does work with the Office 365 connection so I can get to email and push things from my email into OmniFocus, but the solution is less than perfect.

Less than perfect bothers me.

My need for perfection, an “OCD-like” tendency of mine, is breaking my focus on getting my work done and making me focus on how I need to get my work done. Not having one bucket at my disposal anywhere I need to have it is distracting me. It takes my headphones and a well designed app called “Focus@Will” to help me find my productive center again and get back to writing code and leading my team.

I think I’ve found a solution with the Mac sitting next to my work-sanctioned Windows laptop and I’m going to have to keep swiveling my chair back and forth as needs arise.

It’s not perfect, and I’ll probably continue to tweak my process, but it’s probably the closest I’ll come to getting back to my productivity nirvana.

Social.

So Earl and I had brunch at a local Mexican restaurant. It was a good Sunday afternoon experience and we had a nice time. See my Yelp feed for my review of the space. If you’re not following my Yelp feed you should. I actually contribute.

I kept getting distracted by the ladies at the next table; one of them had their phone set to flash the camera flash with a quick burst of strobe every time she received a notification of some sort. Honestly, I didn’t know an iPhone could do this. Apparently a vibration isn’t enough, we need to beam a bright flash from telstar.

This got me to trying to observe how these two ladies were using their phones during their brunch. One ate with one hand, her phone never leaving her other hand. She wasn’t engrossed with the phone but rather the two of them seemed to be talking about whatever was happening on their phone. A quick glance at a screen made it seem like they were talking about Snapchat. The other, the one with the strobe notifications, was using Instagram a lot. She left the phone face down on the table when she wasn’t looking at it. This made the strobe more prevalent.

It was interesting to me that it seemed like their technology wasn’t a distraction from their conversation but rather an integral part of their discussion. Maybe the younger generation has been rewired for multitasking. They looked like they were having a great time. And that’s what’s important.

Strobe flashes aside.

Milwaukee.

Earl and I drove to Milwaukee today. It was a beautiful day, we hadn’t been out of the city in a week or so, so we decided to get on N Sheridan Rd and drive north. We kept driving north, along Lake Michigan, until we got to Milwaukee. It was a pleasant drive.

This wasn’t our first time to Milwaukee. We stopped in the gayborhood for lunch on our way through coming home from Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2013. We found the pub we ate at back then, and drove around a little bit. We also drove around the downtown area.

Like in 2013, I kept an eye out for this

It turns out this isn’t really a thing. The big letters on the side of City Hall, as seen in that screen cap from the opening to “Laverne And Shirley” are changeable and until 2014, had been out of commission since 1988. I was searching the skyline for “Welcome Milwaukee Visitors” but apparently that wasn’t the message of the day today. I think I spotted the building in the downtown area but I didn’t see a message.

Maybe next time.

Reading.

So yesterday I started my 30 day challenge for the month of March. This month I am focusing on reading things that are really free or that I have paid for. I am trying to avoid sources that are supported by ad revenue, with a particular focus on any source that includes clickbait ads. Somewhat surprisingly, this includes news sources like CNN, which likes to supplement their clickbait ads with clickbait headlines. I mean, let’s be real, how many times can you use the term “Bomb Cyclone” when referring to a Nor’easter before it becomes just another storm in New York City.

A month or two ago I subscribed to Medium, a social blogging service that has both amateur and professional content creators and more importantly, contains absolutely no advertising. While the majority of content on Medium is quite good, there’s a relatively small amount of crap and that’s because people aren’t writing stupid things just to generate ad revenue. The Medium app has replaced the prime real estate on my iPhone and iPad home screens, supplanting Tweetbot to a back page. This has helped me find some sanity in the past 24 hours.

With the world the way it is today, we need all the sanity we can muster.

Crush.

Random photo from an Internet search

I think it was 1984, just shortly before my 16th birthday. My family was camping at a popular campground and marina; we were situated near relatives and friends in our Steury pop up camper. The camper could sleep eight, but it was just the four of us for this trip. Nearby were campers with a permanent site; they were friends of my parents. Their youngest daughter was staying with them and we had fun being teenagers. Her older brother visited for the evening; he would have to head back into town in the morning.

It was late Friday night and we were enjoying a campfire on the shore of the “north pond”. Lake Ontario was a mile or so away, separated from this inlet of water by a thin sandbar. It was easy to get to the beach by boat; from there Lake Ontario looked like an ocean. In the still of the summer night you could hear the waves crashing on the sand in the distance. The small ripples on the pond barely lapped the shore. Once in a while you’d hear a boat rock a bit as it bumped up against its tie down.

The fire burned brightly; it’s familiar warmth was comforting. Slowly everyone retired for the evening; as time closed in on midnight, it was me and the older brother sitting around the fire. We just chatted. I didn’t know him very well; our paths had not crossed a lot, but he seemed down to earth. He had a stocky build, traces of a mustache and typical 80s hair that wasn’t too feathered but still had some wind blown look to it. He liked fishing and the water and doing things along the lakeshore.

I don’t remember what we talked about. I do remember that I felt that I didn’t have to be so guarded around him. The guys in the neighborhood back home were good friends but I didn’t have any ‘feelings’ toward them other than hanging out with the guys. This guy, we’ll call him Charlie, well, he was cute and my biology was telling me that I found him attractive and I was being flooded with feelings that were confusing. I’d known for a long time that I was “different” but what that meant. My parents and sister were asleep in the camper. Outside of the canvas walls I was sitting with a guy I didn’t know that well. I felt like I was burning up. The fire was hot. He might have been drinking a beer. I was not. My not quite 16 year old hormones were raging and he wasn’t any the wiser. He was just sitting there, we were just talking, and no moves were made. I knew that he wasn’t different like me and I was confused as to why I was feeling the way I was feeling. When it was time to call it a night, we shook hands and I felt a tingling just with the handshake. What did this mean for me? I went to bed, opting to sleep on the couch.

My dad was up fairly early the next morning for work; after he left I heard splashing around in the pond and saw Charlie swimming. He was wearing only swimming trunks and was taking a bath in the pond. I thought that was good idea and I did the same. We horsed around as we washed our hair in the cold water and then he got out of the pond, dried off, got dressed, and went back to town, just as he had planned.

Still confused by what I was feeling I was, at the time, inexplicably sad. Other friends would visit throughout the day and my Mom was concerned about how mopey I was. It was confusion, it was horniness, it was a crush on someone that had absolutely no idea as to how I was feeling, and now he was gone. After lunch I went for a walk and found an isolated spot in the woods overlooking the other side of the pond. I sat for a while, under a tree and instantly found myself crying. It was a few minutes before I started to realize what “being different” really meant. My hormones were confirming what I had known deep down all along: I was attracted to other guys. Not just hanging out with the guys, I really liked guys and I wanted to be close to them. I wanted our skin to touch, I wanted to be close to another guy. I wanted to do things that I was afraid to even fantasize about.

It would be several years before I saw Charlie again. We shook hands, we chatted a bit. He’s probably married with a litter of grown kids and probably even a few grandkids by now.

And he never knew how he had inadvertently impacted my life that night we spent just shooting the breeze around a campfire.