Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A "Departure" from Social Media

As 2017 rolled in with all of its uncertainties, I pledged to back-off of my social media accounts.  Don't get me wrong - I think Twitter is one of the best tools available for professional development and networking; I love keeping in touch with friends (past and present) on Facebook and seeing how their lives are progressing.  Instagram, too.  However, I reached a point that it was just too much - especially Facebook.  Why, when I go to dinner with my wife and kids, or go to an event, it became more important for me to post what I was doing rather than just engage in the moment and enjoy the people I was spending my time with?

So, one month later.... here is how I am doing.   Yes, I LOOK at Facebook.  I have not posted ONE thing in 2017; I have responded to some folks and "Liked" or showed emotion to posts, but my life and times is not all over FB.  When I look at "So and so is with "X" at Starbucks" I think to myself, why do I need to know that?  If I was a thief, I'd find out where that person lives and rob the house when they aren't home!  But seriously, why have we become a society where every action we take has to be broadcast?

I feel so much better not posting. I feel engaged when I am with other people.  Two weeks ago, I had dinner at my parents house with two of my daughters.  We left our phones in the car.  We had a great dinner - fantastic conversation, and then played cards for two hours after.  No phones, no social media.  Quality family time.  Felt great NOT to be attached for a change.

I am a Director of Technology.  I know these social media tools have a purpose - but there's a time and place for them.  I cannot allow them to rule my life.  I need to be present in the moment, because time flies by.  (Not to mention a high percentage of posts are political these days and I'm about to reach my breaking point!)

So, think before you post.  Be in the moment with the ones you love. Enjoy the time we are here and don't have your face buried in your device..... As with alcohol, eating, and other things, use social media in moderation when appropriate.  #lifeisshort

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Proud of My (and all other) "Nasty Women"

For those out there that are so bored that you have actually read any of my blog posts, you'll probably notice that I am not the strongest writer.  I have a lot of thoughts - they often run into each other and aren't always fully articulated.  I also know that the tone of my posts, over the past several months, are political in nature.  While I never intend them to be political, now is the time to be political and stand up for our democracy and rights of everybody.

Last spring and into the summer, I read some articles and somewhat predicted a Trump victory in November.  His disgusting, ugly, and unethical campaign appealed to people who felt they were "victims" of hard times.  I am not discounting the hard times many of my fellow citizens have fallen upon; however using propaganda to appeal to disenchanted folks is not the answer.  The propaganda was riddled with generalizations and lies.  Very uneducated....

One thing Trump understands is that negative press is press.  It's attention.  Even if that attention is negative and more often than not, false, he knows how to con people.  Keith Olbermann, a journalist who I've enjoyed all the way back during his ESPN days, has a great series on GQ, The Resistance.  He has clearly outlined while the new Predator in Chief is scary and unfit.

Madi (far right) with her "nasty" sorority sisters (awesome Ghandi Quote!)
Watching the election results on November 8 made me feel as if I was in the Twilight Zone.  The next day, I felt like crying - not that the Democrats lost (I feel it was wonderful to have a woman candidate - perhaps it was not the right woman) - I was upset because of the ugliness of the campaign and the rhetoric that Trump spewed time and time again - and continues to spew.  The person is a sociopath - a bully who has to always get in the last word.  He is a spoiled brat who was born with a silver spoon and has always gotten his way.  (Historians call Reagan the "teflon President."  You ain't seen NOTHING yet!)

Sarah, Alyssa & Katie - "Nasty Women"  💗
After the election and Friday's very strange inauguration, I was losing hope.  However, yesterday - January 21, 2017 - showed the strength of Americans - particularly women, who are not going to sit idly and let this beast and his billionaire cronies take away their rights.  I am particularly proud of my three daughters who exercised their first amendment (and other) rights; Madi marched with her sorority sisters in Santa Cruz while Sarah and Katie joined family and friends to march on Civic Center in San Francisco.  I am grateful that my daughters know they are equal to anybody - man or woman - and have the right to control their own bodies, choose a profession that makes them happy, and earn the same as a person of the opposite gender.  Their gender is not a detriment - it is a gift and source of unlimited potential. #nastywomen

I spent a lot of time over the last two weeks watching President Obama's "Farewell Tour."  The grace and class he and Michelle (and their daughters) showed brought tears to my eyes.  Barack Obama is the most "human" President that I've experienced in my lifetime.  There is a sincerity and genuine care he puts in to everything.  Watching Ellen DeGeneres salute The Obama's was beyond touching.

While everybody in our country has the right to their opinion and point of view, I will always believe that The Obama's faced racism every step of the way.  Yet they charged ahead and did what they felt was right for ALL Americans.  They are amazing role models.  Many of Obama's critics, and even Obama himself claim that his Presidency "fell short."  Show me a President who has NOT fallen short?  And there's a simple reason for this - partisan politics dominate.  Members of Senate and the House are often more concerned with re-election than they are with doing what is right.   Regardless of what others think, I, too, have the right to my opinion.... Barack Obama is the best President of my life and historians, in the years ahead, will agree that he will go down as one of our best ever.  I appreciate the hope he has instilled in many.  And remember, as Obama stated Friday, "this is not a period; it is a comma in our nation's history."  #stillMYpresident   #thankyouObamas

Keep the resistance going.  Thank you to the Nasty Women for their amazing work yesterday and for all of the others who support them.  We are not done. This is just the beginning.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Happy New Year" and other...

The calendar changed the other night - from December 31 to January 1.  As we lunged into the abyss of 2017 and all of its uncertainties, I started thinking.  Why do we say, "Happy New Year" for about five days, and then it's forgotten?  Why is January 1 the "unofficial" landmark / date that we start things new - from diets, to exercise, to other things, such as stopping swearing (I usually last three minutes.)

I am not trying to be a pessimist.  Let's face it, 2016 was a tough year - we experienced the deaths of many well-knowns and also experienced the ugliest and costliest election in our nation's history.  The uncertainty that lies ahead frightens me - not only as an American, but also as a parent and an educator.

As the clock ticked to 12:00 am January 1 and we greeted each other with "Happy New Year," were we really speaking the truth?  Will this be a happy year?  Why do we have to wait until a new year to begin in order to start eating better, spend more responsibly, exercise more, treat each other better?

Along these lines, I was reflecting about my "wants" for my own children.  I just had the opportunity and privilege to spend a week with them in Nuevo Vallarta.  Not having them every day in my life (physically) has been one of the greatest challenges I've experienced as an adult.  I was looking at my oldest daughter, almost 19 and a second year at UC Santa Cruz and I thought, "What do I really want for Madi?"  It's pretty simple (and my commentary in ( ) :

  • I want her to be happy (she appears to be)
  • I want her to be independent (she appears to be)
  • I want her to be confident (she is confident most of the time)
  • I want her to be educated (she values education and is very earnest)
  • I want her to treat others as she wishes to be treated (the golden rule!)
  • I want her to appreciate the opportunities she has (she is always thankful)
  • I want her to have the confidence to express herself and stand up for her beliefs (so far, so good)
  • I want her to choose a career that inspires her and keeps her happy - it's not about the money, it's about fulfillment.
I'm sure this list will grow.... above all, I want my children to know how much they are loved and supported despite any challenges ahead, differences we may experience.  Life is short....let's enjoy it.  Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Hear Me Out"

I've read several books in my life that have had a strong impact.  I've always said that The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara was my favorite. It's a great piece of historical fiction focused on the main characters during the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863, Civil War.  Characters:  Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Lewis Armistead, Winfield Scott Hancock, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.)  The novel not only inspired the film Gettysburg in 1993, it also inspired Shaara's son, Jeff, to write a prequel and sequel, making up a darn good trilogy.   Most recently, I finished The Nightingale, but Kristin Hannah - another piece of historical fiction set in France during World War 2  - the French resistance, families, and the brutal impact of war.  This is my new favorite.

Then comes non-fiction - one book I truly enjoyed is The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.  Friedman is an editorial writer for the NY Times.  I know that many conservatives dislike Friedman, but I find his point-of-view, mostly based on tedious research, to be solid, accurate, and thought-provoking.

Friedman released this editorial today in the New York Times which, in my opinion, paints a very accurate picture of the current sleazy election we are witnessing.

Please read it and let me know what you think....

Monday, October 31, 2016

OK, I Get It, But.....

As the craziest and ugliest Presidential race enters its final week, I think I finally get it.  While driving today, I heard an interview with Paypal Founder, Peter Thiel.  Thiel claims that Donald Trump will "save our politics."  Hearing this while driving nearly caused me to crash (seriously.)  But, being [what I consider to be] an educated individual, I wanted to hear Thiel's logic.  I wanted to give attention to his point of view as I would want people to understand mine.

Thiel is not a Trump supporter so to speak.  He does not think that Trump's antics or his degradation of women and minorities is acceptable.  What he does see is a person who is going up against the establishment, as Thiel feels nothing gets done in Washington via the life-long politicians.

I do understand where Thiel is coming from.  I do understand that Trump and even Bernie Sanders started a movement that is needed.  However, I don't necessarily agree with everything Thiel says, as I don't feel it can be summed up that simply.  Our country is huge and it's challenges are even larger.  The self-interests, lobbyists, and other factors have steered us far off course.  Remember, during one of the debates, Trump criticized Clinton for being a 30 year politician and not accomplishing a thing.  Most notably, he said she was a terrible Senator.  Her response summed up what many of us feel - she was a Democratic Senator in office during a Republican President and a Republican controlled Congress.  Given what President Obama has endured over the past eight years, I tend to agree with Clinton's statements.  Moreover, when Senator Ted Cruz and others, just last week, stated they would not affirm any Supreme Court Justice nominated by Clinton (if she wins), the polarization was never more clear.

I grew up thinking that we all wanted to make this world a better place, to learn from our past challenges and mistakes, not repeat them, and work together for the common good.  I feel this way, day in and day out, as an educator.  I have seen how many people have lost focus - it is happening everywhere.  Our elected leaders need to consider what is best for their constituents, not themselves.   They need to do the job they were elected to do.  While Peter Thiel has a justified point of view, I think it's safe to say that plenty of coercion and corruption takes place in the private sector just as much as it does in the public sector.

Hopefully, one day, we will have a candidate who is anti-establishment and focused on what is best for our country.  Perhaps Bernie Sanders was this person (though his economic policies appear to be a disaster.)  I do know one thing: Trump is not this person.  He is a playground bully; a spoiled rich kid who has always gotten his way and in no way can identify with the Americans who are in most need of a reformed system.  Trump is all about Trump - he has always put himself first and will continue to do so.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Heard On The Radio (my wearable tech follow-up)

As I was driving yesterday, I decided to listen to KCBS 740am, as traffic and weather have been road factors lately.  The KCBS Technology Analyst gave a report about wearable technology, notably the Apple Watch.  He claimed that the last quarter saw nearly a 50% decline in sales as compared to this time last year.   (Last year:  500 million units sold; this year: 270 million.)

I found this report interesting, but quite frankly, not the least bit surprising.  The analyst, as well as the broadcaster both stated that they own an Apple Watch as well as the Samsung Gear model.  Both also went on to state things I have felt from the beginning of this wearable technology craze:

  • The Apple Watch is pretty cool; it is fun to choose and create your own watch face
  • The battery doesn't last long enough.  Having a second device to charge is a pain
  • The price point is far too high; consumers can buy a traditional wrist watch and it will last them longer
  • They often forget to wear the watch
  • They look at their phone when they need to know what time it is
I really liked my Fitbit Flex.  It helped me eat more consciously and made me more aware to stay active - shooting for that daily goal.  But when is enough enough?  Maybe I am just getting old and maybe my eyes are just getting tired.  I love technology and the possibilities it creates - especially for the teaching and learning process.  However there are times when I simply need to disconnect - pick up a magazine, watch a tv show, or just veg out.

What is the future of wearable technology?  Time will tell.  I do know that it won't be attached to me.  I'll use my golf app / distance finder, but that's all for now.

OK... I know this is a weak post, but I haven't posted in a long time.  I didn't want to post about the current Presidential election - 12 days to go - and I can't wait until it's OVER.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's Been A While

It's been quite a while since I have posted to my blog. Why you may ask?  There are several reasons.  Recently, my wife and I purchased a home.  Moving at the age of 45 is far different than doing so in your 20's.  My body has taken a LONG time to recover.   I've also not blogged because of the current state of affairs throughout our country.  We are in the midst of one of the ugliest Presidential elections ever.  The majority of Americans will tell you that neither candidate is desirable.  And the ugliness of this election gets worse - not by the day - it gets worse by the moment.

As Americans, we tend to tune out and feel that our voice/vote may not make a difference.  This complacency has created a strange culture.  I recently read an article written by a person who chose NOT to vote in the 1968 election.  Worth the read.  We need to make the connection - not voting in this election is essentially voting for an unqualified, dangerous candidate who can hurt our nation to a point beyond repair.

In 1999, Director Ron Howard released a film titled Ed TV.  Essentially, it is what reality television is today - cameras followed Ed around and documented his every move, that of his friends and family, etc.  In the film, the concept became a sensation.  Next came The Truman Show and others; notably Survivor, Big Brother, The Bachelorette, The Bachelor,  and of course, Celebrity Apprentice.  You see, we have created this ignorant culture where viewers think what transpires on these shows is actually real!  I have seen interviews with participants who claim, "that is not how it went.  The editing really changed things."  Our culture and its media has created what is now the GOP Presidential Candidate - and this person is perhaps the most dangerous thing our country has faced since Joseph McCarthy.  Why the media and others don't take a stand against this individual baffles me.  The lies get deeper, the questions don't get answered, and the ignorant and uneducated are his "prey."  Racial tension in this country is worse than ever.  How sad.  What have we become?  Where are we headed?

The link to video below sums things up...

I promise that my next post will be positive.  It's been a challenge lately to stay focused on the positive when so much negative is regularly in the news....