(In no way do so I resemble Ms. Kahn or Lilly Von Stupp!)
But onging medications. weight loss, muscle mass and poor eating (cancer stops the taste buds from working correctly.
And this is only the beginning!
Please keep a good thought.
And think of the late Ms. Kahn, not I.
aka ♫ When Will They Ever Learn? When Will they EVER Learn ♫ ?
I like diet soda. I’ve been consuming large quantities of it since the late 70’s, when I largely gave up sugar.
It also provides me caffeine, as I drink little coffee.
And, my daily allowance of chemicals I know are not good for me!
I remember back in the 80’s, when New Coke came into the marketplace. Not diet, but a big deal in the soft drink world. And it flopped. People liked the previous formula.
Remember Pepsi Clear, Pepsi Free and numerous other attempts by the soda industry to corner and expand the market?
Well, the Coca Cola Company is at it again.
When they initially came out with Diet Coke, I was heartbroken. The (then) wife and I were ardent fans of Tab, with it’s high caffeine and no sugar. I even bought a few two liter bottles and squirreled them away for an upcoming anniversary (my wife didn’t drink).
And when Tab began disappearing from the shelves and Diet Coke replaced it, we bit-the-bullet and gave it a try.
A few months later, the anniversary rolled around, and to both our surprises, we had developed a taste for Diet Coke. And the shelved, vintage Tab tasted funny!
Fast forward to the 00’s. A long-time Diet Coke fan, it was announced another diet drink would be added to the mix. Coke Zero. Alleged to taste closer to real Coke!
So, I gave it a try.
Lo and behold it was closer to original Coke (which I loved in days of yor). Spiciness had been added! Soon my Diet Coke addiction had been replaced by Coke Zero.
And all was right with the World!
But, ‘they’ cannot leave well enough alone. It was announced in July, that Coke Zero sales hadn’t met their expectations, and production will end at the end of August!
And replaced with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar! With ‘improved’ taste!
Well, last time I went for Zero, it was there, but had not been faced, and this old cripple couldn’t bend to reach it! So, I grabbed some CCZS.
Bland. It lacks the zip of original Coke or the spiciness of Zero.
They still make small productions of Tab, if I can find it…
It’s sad when a purveyor of a childhood memory is taken.
Sadder still when two are.
I’ve never been a big horror movie fan, falling for the less obvious thriller genre. But I recognize talent when I see it.
1968’s Night of the Living Dead began resurgence of horror films, many of whom were directed yet again by Mr. Romero.
The man had talent and style.
Martin Landau was a character acting fixture in my childhood, even when I didn’t know him by name.
The Untouchables, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, I Spy, Mission Impossible (on television) and North By Northwest and Ed Wood (in the movies).
And many other works…
I was never a Space 1999 fan, though…
He could play both charming and lethal.
I shall miss him
I’ve always owned a car. At least, since I was a licensed driver.
First, a loaner from my parents, then a used car (bought with assistance from my parents). Then, a succession of beaters (to which Dave-the-mechanic can attest!).
Finally, after the accident, I bought my dream car – a 1989 Isuzu Trooper! This was in 1995. Most of my previous cars were at least 10 years old when purchased. I just never had the money/credit to buy new.
When the Izuzu ‘gave up the ghost’ seven years later, I already had begun looking for a replacement. The engine blew, and I needed a car. I was still working, commuting, and one really needs a car to get around the Valley.
Credit, money, income limited my choices. I ended up with a 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue. (This was 2002!) She was NOT my first choice, but I did qualify for her.
Who knew she would last fifteen years?
The sad part is, now she is worth maybe $500, if I’m lucky. She still runs (the engine is still powerful), but needs major work – rack and pinion leak, crankcase leak, a/c compressor, engine mounts and window regulators, and many other things. I’ve been advised not to drive her unless it’s absolutely necessary.
And, as I now drive J’s car (a 2006 Honda Element, the a/c works!) it seems silly to insure two cars. We rarely need both.
SO…I’m either selling or donating the car.
It will be the first time since 1970 (broken beater car downtime excluded) that I’ve not actually HAD a car.
I’m looking at one Internet site who claims to buy cars. As well as Father Joe’s Villages charities and the Salvation Army.
And it makes me sad and a little scared.
I can no longer walk very far w/o pain. And, what if J’s car goes South – then what?
To get the Olds road-worthy is a minimum $1000. Seems silly on a $500 car, when a second car is available.
So she’s on the block.
Long-time readers of my humble blog might notice I don’t usually make mention of the above ‘Hallmark holiday’.
First, my real Mother, the woman who bore me, passed away when I was in the Second Grade, directly because of her addictive personality. She was ill my entire life with emphysema. I barely knew her – certainly not enough to bond, or to have fond memories.
My Father loved her immensely. Her death about killed him.
Subsequently, he met, dated and married the woman who became my stepmother. She obviously wanted to be with him, but soon after the marriage, it became apparent she had no patience to raise yet another child. She already had two grown of her own. And deeply resented my Father’s traveling for business, and being absent because of his addiction to sports – watching, officiating, refereeing, umpiring, baseball, softball, basketball, football and hockey.
And, not to put to fine a point on it – she took her resentment out on me.
So, my relationship with my mothers was lacking at best. Certainly it colored my future relationships with other women.
But, I am learning.
My ex-wife receives a bouquet of roses every Mother’s Day. And has for the past twenty-two years. Not because I wish to rekindle the relationship (we remain friends), but because our daughter Molly is unable to get them for her.
It’s the least I can do.
To all of you who had good moms out there, Good For You!
I wish I had…
The Art of Manliness! (a blog to which I often refer) (in part)
Hamlet’s Blackberry. The Joy of Missing Out. Irresistible. Reclaiming Conversation. The Tech-Wise Family.
Recent years have seen a boom in books (and articles) about being digitally mindful — putting down the smartphone, closing the computer, and engaging with real-world, tactile things. All this content makes the case that our devices are sapping a bit of our soul.
And I have to agree. Here on the Art of Manliness, we’ve written about FOMO (and interviewed Christina Crook about JOMO), breaking the smartphone habit, the importance of conversation in a digital world, and more.
This isn’t to say that the digital revolution is a bad thing, just that it needs a little more mindfulness than simply picking up the latest iPhone and diving into the digital ocean with reckless abandon.
In reading these commentaries on the effects technology is having on our lives, and considering both the negative and positive sides of the coin, it occurred to me that perhaps the best way of thinking about how we should engage our digital spaces, is to compare it to how we inhabit our physical ones.
In the same way that “analog” possessions are neither good or bad in and of themselves, but only detract rather than enhance our lives when they become too great in number, require too much maintenance, and clutter up our garages, kitchens, and bedrooms, apps and websites aren’t inherently problematic, but become such when they overwhelm our devices and require too much attention. When they become digital clutter.
Just as physical clutter can cloud the mind and hinder your focus, so can digital clutter. It takes up an inordinate amount of mental space and bandwidth.
Fortunately, just like with physical clutter too, the digital variety can be readily sorted through, organized, and cleaned up. By making the effort to do some digital decluttering — putting everything in its place and ditching what isn’t desirable — you’ll be able to focus better, breathe easier, and reclaim many of those spare moments that have been lost to endless scrolling on Facebook and Instagram.
If you’re ready to vacuum up some digital dust, clean out your closet of apps, and pare down your technological junk drawer, then grab a metaphorical trash bag, and let’s get to work.
The Harm of Digital Clutter
Just as physical clutter leads to stress and a muddled mind, so does digital clutter. It leaves you with what author Scott Hartley calls “constant partial attention.”
It works in the same way that physical clutter sometimes leaves you unable to fully focus on a task: You need to finish up some administrative work at home, but you know there’s a pile of mail that needs your attention, the living room needs vacuuming, and the coat closet is bursting at the seams with junk.
The digital version: Your inbox has thousands of messages. Your smartphone notification window is alerting you to 6 different social media apps that need your attention. You have 19 tabs open, each with some purpose that you’ve probably already forgotten. You have a conversation going with a family member in a variety of different places — text message, Facebook messenger, email — and you can’t keep track of what was last said.
With all that going on just in your little device that you hold in your hand, it becomes impossible to truly focus on any one thing, let alone something that’s truly important.
Scott Hartley states this problem well in The Fuzzy and the Techie:
“It’s a process of constant minor interruptions that delude us into thinking that we’re highly engaged across a number of shallow conversations, but in fact, we’re just continually, partially attuned.”
The very technology that we’ve created has in fact very slowly hijacked all of us. As Christina Crook notes, “Facebook in 2006 was fun, Facebook in 2016 is downright addicting.”
You know the feeling of satisfaction, relaxation, and relief that comes when you’ve tidied up your room or house? It’s the exact same when you tidy up your digital life. You regain the ability to focus on important things — not necessarily productive things, but important things like your family, a good book, even a great meal. (When’s the last time you went a day without checking your smartphone during a meal?)
Identify and Inventory the Problem
The task of physical decluttering often starts by surveying what areas of the house have become overly filled with junk, and deciding on a rubric for figuring out what should stay and what should go.
The job of digital decluttering should begin in the same way.
In The Joy of Missing Out, Christina Crook offers a helpful yardstick for evaluating the effects of our digital “possessions.”
She was inspired by a seemingly unlikely and decidedly un-modern source: Saint Ignatius Loyola, who lived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
While it’s unlikely he created the discipline, he considered what he called “The Examination of Consciousness” (sometimes shortened to simply be called “Examine”) to be the most important spiritual practice one could partake in. It was really quite simple — twice a day, the Christian practitioner would guide themselves through a reflection of their actions and time spent, using the 10 commandments as a guide.
With Ignatius’ Examine as a starting point, Crook created a shorter, modern, secular version designed to inspire reflection. She asks readers to inquire of themselves, on a daily basis, two things (and in this case especially, thinking with your device and internet habits top of mind):
- What today was most life-giving?
- What today was most life-taking?
In just two days of practicing this contemporary Examine I came to realize that most of my digital actions were far more life-taking than giving. What was most life-giving in a normal day? A splendid cup of coffee in the morning alongside a real book, a breath of fresh air in the middle of the day, playing with my son after picking him up from daycare, writing a letter to a friend. Not once in my reflections has anything social media or internet-related been most life-giving.
And yet, before this digital decluttering, I spent a lot of my time on my phone. Granted, I was better than a lot of people. It’s rare that phone time was truly disrupting something, but in spare moments I was playing games, or perusing Facebook, or trying to pick which adorable picture of my kid to post to Instagram. Those spare moments really added up — I’m a little ashamed to say that my game of choice was Two Dots, and I got up to level 1,006 before recently working up the nerve to delete it.
Viewing my digital habits through Crook’s Examine questions helped me to identify the areas of my tech habits that were problematic, and gave me criteria on which needed to be re-organized, pared down, or eliminated.
Before beginning your own decluttering project, I recommend engaging in the same illuminative exercise. The insights that you get will be different than mine, which will allow you to create a more personal plan.
In a lot of the material out there on digital detoxing, you’ll find plenty of prescriptive advice. The thing with clutter (of any kind), though, is that it’s actually fairly personal. A desk with piles of of books and papers and mail on it doesn’t bother me, but a sink full of dishes does. Some folks are just the opposite. Similarly, an email inbox with more than 30 messages in it stresses me out, while plenty of people have never deleted or archived anything and are perfectly happy to leave it that way.
You’ll have to find out for yourself what bothers you — what takes up mental space — and what doesn’t. Don’t necessarily just blindly follow what’s been recommended by others. Experiment and tailor your digital decluttering to your wants and needs.
How to Declutter Your Digital Life
Once you’ve determined which of your digital habits are more life-taking than life-giving, it’s time to take a broom to the former.
Below I walk you through some steps — both easy and not-so-easy — to tidy things up. Some of them may seem a little intense, but I encourage you to give them a try. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, and as The Strenuous Life implores — “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”
Since our age is pushing us hard into the abstract and distracting, don’t be afraid to be similarly ruthless with your decluttering — to go to what other people might call “extremes.” You can always add back in what you miss and what you discover is truly life-giving. Sometimes when cleaning up, you just need to throw it all out and start with a blank slate.
Christina Crook did this by going internet-free for 31 days. After going nuclear for a month, she added back in what was useful and beneficial (and also kept the good habits and routines she discovered in that month).
Kyle Eschenroeder did something similar with his Input Deprivation Week. For seven days, he lived without blogs, social media, and online news sites of any kind (among other non-internet forms of input too). He realized the space they were taking up in his life, and noticed a slew of benefits from taking a break:
“It will increase mindfulness, increase the respect you have for your own ideas, you’ll have more ideas, unsolvable life problems may begin to make sense, you’ll have an increased appreciation for the news that actually matters, you’ll become more social, you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll become more original.”
With the principle of doing more rather than less in mind, let’s get into specific tactics for reducing the digital clutter in your life:
Cull your email inbox. Let your inbox become a sacred space. By utilizing filters for any advertising or social media email, and by unsubscribing to anything I’m not actively interested in reading, my inbox has become a place where I know that almost anything that comes in is either important, or from a friend or loved one (which I’m interested in even if it isn’t all that important!).
Rather than letting Redbox into your inbox to tell you the new releases, just go to the website when you want to rent a movie. Rather than letting Target suck you in with coupons, search out the coupons when you need something.
Practice Inbox Zero if you’re into that; if it doesn’t bother you, not a big deal. Personally though, knowing I have a fairly empty inbox at the end of the day clears up a bunch of mental space.
Get rid of apps on your homescreen(s). The homescreens on our smartphones are hotbeds for clutter. Between apps, folders for apps, and notifications, it’s pretty much constantly beckoning for our attention. If you have an Android phone, if you delete an app from a homescreen, it’s not gone, it just goes away into a slightly-harder-to-access app section. I’ve done this, so if I want to get to Instagram, I’ve added a step besides simply unlocking my phone. I now have to navigate to apps, then to Instagram. Just one extra step has me checking on a weekly basis rather than a few-times-per-day basis. My homescreen now only has apps that I use regularly for life-giving or practical purposes: Kindle, flashlight, kid’s mode, camera, phone, email, text messaging, and Starbucks. And boy is it nice.
(On iPhones, it’s a little harder, as apps are downloaded automatically onto the homescreen. Utilize folders, multiple homescreens with less on them, or the below option of losing your apps altogether.)
Decluttered homescreen(s), decluttered mind. You’ll no longer be mindlessly sucked into 20 minutes of Facebook scrolling because you’re worried you’re missing out on something. If you don’t see that little blue F button, there’s a good chance you won’t even think about it (or if you do, you’ll think about it much less).
Ditch apps altogether and use your browser or your computer. Frankly, I love this tactic. Get rid of all the apps on your phone and force yourself to use its browser, or your home computer, when you need a social media fix or to search for something. Apps are clutter. Period.
Need to look up flights? Right now? Doubtful. It can wait until you’re in front of a computer. If it can’t, use your phone’s browser. In general, apps give us permission to feel the need to check or look something up instantly, when that is rarely, if ever, a true need. We check the weather app constantly only because we can. Ten years ago we survived with weather reports on the news, maybe looking it up on a computer, or heaven forbid, stepping outside to feel the temp and look at the sky. Now, I check the temperature on my phone while standing in front of a window. Seems a little silly.
As noted above, don’t be afraid to go nuclear with your apps and mass delete things, and if you find you really need something, download it again knowing that it’s truly useful.
Ditch all notifications. Okay, this is somewhat prescriptive advice. Notifications are clutter, just like a pile of mail on your table is clutter. It’s stuff that’s just begging to be opened and looked at and dealt with. Except whereas your mailbox might have 5 items to look through, between email and social media and news alerts, you could have hundreds of things to wade through every day. Mental clutter.
Treat your notifications more like you do your actual mailbox. When you get snail mail, it’s not chucked through the window at you the instant it arrives at the postal service’s distribution center. That would be rather distracting. Instead, it’s sorted and delivered in a bundle all together at a single time during the day. Take 15-20 minutes once or twice a day to check email, news, social media, etc. Don’t let it clutter your day and interrupt the important things you’re doing.
And while you’ll generally think of notifications in terms of your smartphone, ditch ‘em on your computer too. There are multiple inboxes I keep track of for work, but I’ve limited desktop notifications to only my main account. And I’ve also disabled all social media desktop notifications. Those are things that can be checked at set times during the day.
Stick to 1-2 social networks. I have personally found that trying to maintain regular use of multiple social networks to be just too much. It takes a lot of brainspace to check and be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and more all in the same day. So I’ve decided that in addition to deleting most apps from my phone, I won’t even try to keep up with more than Facebook or Instagram, and won’t maintain a presence on even those platforms beyond posting a weekly or bi-weekly photo. I’ve also taken up letter writing to keep in touch with people I truly care about. It’s far more satisfying for both parties than simply “liking” a social media update.
Put your phone away. When you come home and throw your keys into a basket, catchall, or other small container, toss your phone in with them. When it’s with you — and in your pocket — the mental clutter of an entire internet’s worth of headlines and viral videos can be too much to resist. Having your phone always next to you is like having a stack of newspapers and magazines on the floor that you have yet to read. Only when you ditch the newspapers because you realize they’re literally old news will the mental space they’re crouching on be freed up. Same goes with your phone. Those memes don’t call to you if your phone isn’t within reach.
Change your “zoning out” routine. Plenty of people, myself included, cite phone use as a way to zone out and chillax a little bit at certain points throughout the day. Maybe you had a long day at work, or your kids were being extra rambunctious during dinner. So when it’s time to kick back and relax a little, you grab your phone for some mindless browsing and social media scrolling. You need to just not think for a little bit.
But in doing so, you’re adding to your digital and mental clutter. You’re actually filling your brain with more FOMO and more headlines that don’t usually convey anything important. You want to empty your mind, but you’re only adding to it.
Rather than zoning out by engaging the digital clutter, do something else. Anything else. Pick up a book — some easy-reading cheap thriller will do. Sit outside with a homebrew or a cocktail and watch the sunset. Bake some bread. Carve a spoon. Jumpstart your journaling. These are the things that will truly declutter your digital life. While your phone calls you in a million different directions and to dozens of apps to constantly check, doing something tactile often requires that you focus on one thing at a time.
While these actions often necessitate more effort to start than simply grabbing your phone, resolve to do it, and once you’re in the moment, you’ll realize it’s far better than staring at a screen.
When it comes to spring cleaning this year, don’t just think of tidying up your physical spaces, but take time to declutter your digital ones too. Determine which of your digital devices, apps, and emails are taking from your life rather than giving to it, and organize or eliminate the vitality suckers. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” doesn’t just apply to your clothes and dishes, but to your phone, and your habits, too.
Do I follow their sage advice? Not as much or as often as I should.
But I AM learning!
In the past eight years, I went from a low-to-middle income ‘career’, to short-term disability and illness, to long term disability and remission.
While I am most grateful for having survived(!), with long term disability has come a lower income, and the loss of my job and home. I tried to recover in the short term, and ended up maxing out my credit cards coupled with the inability to pay for them. And the medical bills that followed.
Along the way my firearms collection was stolen. Just to add to the ‘fun’.
Through the kindness of friends, I’ve been able to increase my firearms acquisitions to a small collection* (my surviving .38 snubbie and 1911, a Ruger .357 revolver and a compact Sig-Sauer .45! And, of course, a spring-operated pellet pistol and single-shot gas one!!)
My cup runneth over.
Not the over 50 firearms I once owned, but, it’s a great beginning. (I know, poor me.) 😛
So, what do I get in the email the other day?
The best part is, even if I had the down payment (which I don’t) with my trashed credit, there’s no way they would approve my application!
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t apply…
*We say collection. Arsenal has developed a negative connotation.
(FTC – Nighthawk gave me nothing. Apply for your own pistol! My roomie has one she bought years ago. It’s delightful!)
And she left us on a Sunday.
Forever to be age 12.
There have been many memories. And many tears.
And many sad days and nights.
I miss you and love you with all my heart. And would trade places with you in an instant, were that possible.
You out there know what I’m going to say next.
Please, tell those whom you love that you do love them. And hug them if at all possible.
Because you never know.
I LOVE YOU MOLLY! ❤️
As it states in the ‘about’ part of the blog, I’m a child of the 50’s. Television, movies, play, were all about The Lone Ranger, Space Command, Warner Bros. cartoons, Forbidden Planet, The Untouchables, and all other manner of sanitized violence.
And my green, wooden toy box reflected that.
It was filled with cars, trucks, robots, construction equipment, tools, and yes, toy guns. Including a multitude of cap guns and rifles-that-made-noise, play bullets and all manner of boy’s toys. Not a doll in sight.
Sadly, when my Dad married my step-mother, the toy box was moved to the exterior of the house. Wouldn’t want Guffaw’s toys to clutter the house, now would we? 😦
And, as I advanced in grade school, I played with them less. This meant my Mattel™ Fanner Fifty (with left-handed holster!), Detective Special (both re-loadable with Matty Mattel bullets and ignited with Greenie Stickum Caps), the construction gear, cars, tools, and everything else were subjected to the elements.
And eventually discarded. 😦
(My friend Leigh’s parents did film me in full cowboy regalia once, reenacting some scene from a forgotten cowboy TV show, running, jumping, rolling into prone, drawing and shooting one of my cap guns. Of course, the 8mm home movie is probably long lost.) 😦
This was when children played outside!
But, boys are nothing but ingenious! 🙂
My friends and I began constructing rubber-band guns, using scraps of wood we ‘found’ at housing construction sites. (Hey, we had to have guns!)
Affix a spring closepin to one end, stretch a rubber band (or a series of them for greater distance) and viola’! A toy gun with which we could play cowboy, or soldier, or spy, or whatever.
Of course, we were never happy with the limited distance or inaccuracy. (Sound familiar?)
As we got into the 5th and 6th Grade, we clamored for more.
So we attached the rubber bands to the wood (ala a slingshot) and began looking for projectiles to shoot! Obviously, after a few misadventures with pebbles and bent bobbie-pins, we made the universal decision to not shoot one another.
For safety sake.
Of course, escalation lead to model rockets, amateur rockets, BB guns, and eventually real guns. Always something to shoot.
And, we still don’t shoot each other.
This isn’t South Chicago…
I’ve posted about the bane of my existence – BUREAUCRATIZILLA – 9 times previously! And, they’ve not picked up the hint!
Not coincidentally, in today’s quote:
“Millions are fascinated by the plan to transform the whole world into a bureau, to make everybody a bureaucrat, and to wipe out any private initiative. The paradise of the future is visualized as an all-embracing bureaucratic apparatus. . . . Streams of blood have been shed for the realization of this ideal.” – Ludwig von Mises
(Please, let me preface this to state my roommate and I are barely scraping by. Me on my disability benefits, her on survivor’s benefits. She can work some, when her infirmities allow. NO, this is NOT a bleg! – Guffaw)
Last week, my roommate received a letter regarding her Survivor’s Benefits from The Social Security Administration. In short, because she reached a certain age, and changed her supplemental insurance, they decided to deduct previously gov’t paid insurance premiums for two months (essentially cutting her modest benefit in HALF!) then begin repaying her the Survivor’s Benefit (at a lower rate!) the third month. She only began receiving her Survivor’s Benefit last year, and could have been receiving it for the previous three years, but did not know it was available.
And this, just when she has been working less due to illness (she is a contract employee), and is preparing to have surgery next month!
It couldn’t have come at a worse time…
BUT, there was a mention on the Social Security letter of an appeal process. As NO ONE was reachable by phone without an extension(!), we had to go into the Social Security satellite office, take a number, and wait about 20 minutes to get the required appeal form. (After disarming, of course!)
Easy peasy, right?
The surprisingly helpful Social Security employee reviewed the letter, and advised us that the appeal needed to be made with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, not Social Security!! It was Medicare who became aware of the insurance change, and notified AZDES, who contacted Social Security to send the letter(?!)
He provided us with the number to call. And as it was late Friday afternoon, the call would have to be the NEXT BUSINESS DAY. AFTER PRESIDENT’S DAY.
People ask me why I distrust government. The above is a prime example. First, they provide you with a benefit. Then, after you become accustomed to it, they screw with it, and take part of it away.
“The government strong enough to give you what you want is strong enough to take it all away.” – Barry Goldwater