A year without Facebook

A year ago I decided to give up using Facebook (FB).  I had several reasons why I wanted to give up using it on a regular basis.  I wrote a blog post about it http://bit.ly/1dRYyVw.

I started using FB about 6 years or so ago.  At the time I was working for HP and they were doing some testing with the newly acquired Snapfish service and how it would integrate with FB.  I reluctantly agreed to sign up.  I had no idea what I was going to post and “put out there”.  For years I have had a personal website and a blog, so why did I need this FB thing?  For quite a while I barely used it other than to do the initial testing for work.  To get somewhat motivated using it, I decided to at least publish something once a week.  I started publishing 80’s music videos once a week on Wednesdays with some commentary about the video.

Over the years, FB became a sort of PITA.  It was like I was in high school all over again.  It was all too easy to get caught up with who was doing what.  It always seemed like people were doing wild and crazy things and then I started to realize statistically someone in my group of friends was going to have an “AWESOME DAY IN CANCUN!” event at least a few times a week.  There is nothing wrong seeing your friends posting these types of things, but it just grew tiresome.  I wanted authenticity.  If you had a “stepped in dog shite, got fired, had a flat tire, and the baby threw up on you” kind of day, say so!  That is what interests me.  Keep it real.  I like to hear about the good and the bad.  It just seems like on FB everyone only posts the “BITCHIN’ day! Just won the lottery!!!!” and nothing else.

When I signed off of FB, I decided to give other social media services a try. I tried Google+ and found it interesting with the way you could circle your friends into separate groups.  In practice I rarely sent something out to just a few people though.  I like the different communities that you could subscribe to.  What I didn’t care for was the “Google-ness” of the service.  My primary phone is a Nokia 1520 which is a Windows Phone 8 device.  There are no real Google apps for my phone.  Without those apps, it made it a chore to post things and to follow others.  I sort of gave up using the service because of this.  It was nice when I would grab my work Samsung Note 3, but that isn’t with me all of the time.

I started using twitter more and more often.  I like the spontaneity and ubiquity of the service.  I found it sort of hard to follow others as the timeline can be sort of hard to parse out what I wanted to follow other than trying to drink from the fire hose of data coming in.  I also found the 140 character limit a bit challenging at times.  I still use this service more than any other social media service, but I am not a heavy twitter user by any means.

So, the big question: Did I cheat?  Did I use FB while I had a self imposed ban on the service?  Well, yes and no.  I didn’t willingly sign in and post or read others posts during the past year.  I didn’t “Like” anything on the web (I never really did that anyways).  For the most part I stayed away.  The only time I did use the service was to sign into certain websites that use FB as an authentication service (this practice is LAME BTW).  I also inadvertently logged in when I set up various mobile devices.  A couple of times I needed a phone number or address that I realized was still locked up in FB-ville, so I needed to sign back in to get that info.

Will I come back to FB and start posting regularly or catching up with what people are doing?  Probably not.  That ship has pretty much sailed.  I just don’t feel the need to check in and follow what others are doing or make posts about my life.  I may just keep using it as an address book.

Andrew at work started a new campaign:  “No Facebook February” complete with wrist bands and all.  I think people are growing weary of FB and it is things like this that are showing the cracks in FB’s appeal.

No Facebook February!

No Facebook February!

My daughter is going to be 12 in March and has been asking about FB as some of her friends are on it.  The jury is still out on whether she will be able to be FB anytime soon, but when she does I will be one of those parents who will be on FB to check in on her FB to see how things are going.  I have shown her twitter and how it works and she thinks she may like that service better.

I like the combination of a blog for long winded pontifications and twitter for short updates about my life.  I use Flickr or SkyDrive to post pictures of what I am up to on the web.  These combination of services seem to work for me for the most part.

Who knows, maybe I will post a few more 80’s videos on Wednesdays  for old times sake 😉 .

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Thoughts on my Swiss Army Knife

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I was given a Victornix Swiss Army Knife for Christmas when I was 16 years old (the one in the picture above).  I believe the model is called “Champion”.  At the time it was considered to have “all the bells and whistles” that you could possibly have on a knife.  It even has a small magnifying glass.  I remember wanting this knife so badly when I was a kid.  I was really into backpacking and hiking and needed a knife like this for when I went into the great outdoors.
I am now almost 46 years old.  This knife has been with me constantly for the last 30 years.  I have taken it on many of life’s adventures.  It has gone with me on three separate trips spanning ¾ of the Pacific Crest Trail (From Mexico up to around Burney Falls CA).  It helped repair my broken pack frame and even started a fire or two with the magnifying glass.
I had it on me at all times when I was in the Navy aboard ship and forward deployed.  It helped fix gear and equipment when tools were never to be found or hard find.
I took it with me to Japan when I was 17 (remember when you could take knives on planes?) and climbed Mt. Fuji with it.
When I was younger and went on long distance cycling events (triathlon’s and “centuries”), I used it to fix busted derailleurs and assist with fixing flat tires when I was out in the middle of nowhere.
In college I had it with me all the time.  I used it to open beer bottles at parties.  It would help start conversations, “Hey, let me help you with that beer bottle.  What is your name?  I am Brady…”.  While most parties I attended were not the sort of place “wine connoisseurs” would hang out, the built in corkscrew was used on more than one occasion.
I know the toothpick that is on it isn’t the most hygienic of toothpicks, but when you need a toothpick and one isn’t around, boy does that come in handy!
The tweezers have pulled numerous thorns, briars, and pieces of glass out of my body that shouldn’t have been in my body.
I thought I would never use the little saw that is on it, but I have even used it to make a lean-to when I went backpacking and didn’t take a tent because I knew for sure that it wouldn’t rain when I was going hiking (boy, did I not call that one).
I could go on and on about the other tools and how they were used.  Like how the file was used when working on my 1970 VW van that had broken down. To get it running again I used the file to clean up carbon build up on the rotor and cap terminals that was causing the engine to misfire.  There are TONS of stories like this.  The point is this knife is a part of me.  I look at it and remember all of these life events.  No inanimate object has been with me for this long.
So Swiss Army Knife who I depend on and trust, thank you for your years of service.  You are a part of my life and I am glad that you are here.  Here is to another 30 years together and the adventures we will share.

Disembodied voice

This morning I was eating some breakfast while surfing the web, checking work email, the usual stuff.  Cassandra was in the kitchen doing some dishes.  Cassandra looked out the back window and made a comment about the poor neighbors being outside with their dog for 15 minutes (waiting for the dog to do its business).  About 5 seconds later I hear over my right shoulder about where the staircase is a child say, “15 minutes” in kind of a light hearted tone.  It didn’t quite sound like Cameron, but it didn’t quite sound like Lauren either.  I asked Cassandra if the kids were awake.  She replied they weren’t (I later went upstairs to brush my teeth and their door was closed and both were sound asleep).  I also asked if she repeated saying “15 minutes”.  Nope.

I have no idea who or what said the second “15 minutes”.  I guess this is just another one of those quirky things in life that goes unexplained.

Healthcare is jacked in this country

During this past Labor Day, I was cleaning out some old computer parts.  Lauren happened to be playing nearby and fell on an old computer CD-ROM.  She cut herself pretty good near her wrist.  At first I didn’t think it was so bad, but after Cassandra cleaned it out, it was decided that it might be deep and wide enough for stitches, so off to the doctors we go.  Because it was Labor Day, her regular doctor wasn’t available, so we had to go to the emergency room.  The nurse practitioner decided that stitches weren’t needed and after a thorough cleaning and what amounted to some glorified crazy glue applied to seal the wound and a small bandage was applied, we were sent on our way.

The bill came today:

Bill

You have GOT to be kidding me.  I know my insurance sucks big time, but I didn’t know it sucks this bad.

It is amazing to me that a visit to the emergency room for what amounted to a band-aid costs nearly $900!  I feel so bad for all of the people out there for whatever reason don’t have any insurance and would have to decide whether or not to take their child to the doctor or not because they couldn’t afford it.

As a country we can spend almost a trillion dollars a year on a defense budget yet we have some of the crappiest health care on the planet.  We seriously have our priorities screwed up!

Things are not always what they seem to be

Tonight just like every night I put the dogs out so that they could go do their business. I got one of them back in his crate and then I heard the other one that was still in the backyard barking like crazy. That meant pretty much only one thing; he had cornered some animal. I got a flashlight and stood on the deck and with the flashlight located the what was causing all of the commotion. Sure enough there was Loki and a bewildered looking opossum suffering the wrath of a pissed off boxer dog.

I started to think how stupid this animal was. It was next to a tree yet it didn’t even try to climb it. It had sharp claws and lots of fairly big teeth and yet it decided to just stand there. Hell, it didn’t even play the "playing dead" card. It just stood there. You dumb freakin’ beast I thought. How did your kind even evolve to allow for one of your species to be in my backyard on this night?

I was finally able to get Loki by the collar and get him in the house. After a quick check to see if Loki had received any cuts or bite marks, I decided to go back out and check on the poor beast to see if it had suffered any wounds. Yep, the critter was still standing there just as dazed and confused as I had left it. It hadn’t even moved an inch. It didn’t appear to have any wounds inflicted upon it either.

And that is when I noticed it. The opossums eyes were all milky gray colored and not the typical dark black they normally have. It was obvious it had cataracts in both eyes. I shined the flashlight away from its eyes and then back again. No response. I did this a few more times. Again, no response. The poor thing was blind. I could tell it could hear as its ears perked up when I made a noise and it was constantly sniffing the air.

I started to look at the creature a bit closer. It was obvious this critter had seen better days. Its fur was really matted. It was underweight. It also had a few scars on its ears and down its side where some fur was missing. I started to wonder how many other animals had attacked it.

I left the animal to its business and purposely didn’t bring in the dog food bowl that had a few kibbles left in it so that this old and busted up marsupial could have its snack that it had earned and almost lost its life over.

I learned something in all of this. It might sound funny, but it was almost a religious experience of sorts. What I had thought was just some stupid animal causing me frustration and didn’t deserve to live as it was so dumb to not even try to flee or defend itself in any way was actually doing all that it could. In my mind I had condemned this creature to suffer and die because it was annoying. As it turns out, all that it was doing was trying to survive the best that it could with what it had to work with. It amazed me how quickly I had made all of these assumptions of what this animal should be doing when it was doing exactly what it could do.   Sometimes all you can do in life is sit where you are and take whatever life presents good, bad, or indifferent. 

Yes, tonight I learned something from an old blind opossum.  Things are not always what they appear to be.

Planet killing crayons

Cassandra came home with a couple of packs of Crayola “Twistables” crayons for the kids as stocking stuffers. Rainbow Set of 8 You really can’t see it very easily in the picture, but instead of the ol’ skool type of crayons I had as a kid with the crayons wrapped in paper, these things are wrapped in a very thick clear plastic.  The crayons themselves are thinner than the original ones as well, so you are getting less crayon. 

I can’t stress enough how thick the plastic is on these things.  Now I know why they are doing this so that you don’t break the crayons, but isn’t that part of the fun?  I used to love snapping new crayons in half and looking at the inner core.  They made such a satisfying “snap” sound. 

I digress.  These crayons can’t be refilled once they are used up, so all you are left with is these plastic crayon exoskeletons.  I am betting these casings can’t be recycled either, so they will just end up in a landfill somewhere which is completely unnecessary. 

Needless to say, these crayons are getting sent back to the store for a set of old fashioned crayons (wait did I say OLD fashioned?  Crap…).