hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Weekends: Or the best part of the week that just happens to come last

When you finish up all the things you didn’t get to during the week, the little bit of time you have at the end of the weekend to do what really makes you smile is to be put to good use.

In my case it was finally opening the 2.5″ SSD that arrived about a month ago. I was going to use it as an external drive via a USB port hookup and so ordered an enclosure for it. I was pretty enthused about getting it all going.

But then life got in the way and dust began to accumulate over the packaging covering the SSD and the enclosure.

It looked like this was going to be put off indefinitely. Life gets busy and then sometimes it also gets a little funny, too.

I started another project before this one was about to begin. I replaced the receiver in a stereo refurbishment/renovation and am finally able to play records and listen to AM/FM radio traditionally again. Yes it was a small project in terms of scope, but it took some time and craftsmanship for it all to come together. And it did.

When you are doing stuff on weekends it’s similar to the work week in that sometimes you can skimp or skip altogether things like lunch.

Skipping meals is not for me as sooner than later it has negative effects.

Since I wanted to complete the stereo project I did make sure to take breaks and time out to eat. Common sense, right? Maybe, but if you’re like me you try to keep going when you’re on a roll and making progress.

So, this time I was multi-tasking. I was doing laundry. I was doing dishes. I was scooping poop. I really had it all going on.

But, as we speak, Makulu LinDoz is installing on the 120 GB SSD. It’s really going to happen. I’ll have this Linux operating system working via the lone USB 3.0 port on a used GIADA i53 Mini PC – CORE i5-3317u CPU Micro PC I procured through eBay.

The i5 is now the fastest PC in the fleet of old Windows boxes I own. It’s smaller than a Mac Mini best as I can tell (although I haven’t officially measured).

I put LinDoz on a USB thumb drive and am 90% of the way to seeing just how fast(er) the SSD drive is than the traditional 500 GB SATA drive that’s on the inside of the Micro PC.

The weekend is now winding down. I’m on my last load of laundry. And you’re wondering, “Man, that Skelley knows how to live.”

I suppose it’s all a matter of priorities or just living off the cuff and without an agenda.

There’s time for making plans if need be.

But there’s only so many weekends we have to live through in our lifetime.

I want to enjoy some of the things I can get geeked about.

Doing what you’ve read is how I do just that.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend, too.





Accepting the phenomenon of LinkedIn loneliness

You did it again and you hate yourself for it.

You just checked your Facebook app on the phone and saw something that briefly made you raise one eyebrow. Then the self-loathing returned and you put down the phone.

I was glad to have warded off loneliness last year by limiting time spent on social media. Studies evidently support this now widely reported fact: Using social media too often and for too long makes you lonely.

I felt I was wasting too much time on social media at the halfway point (or was it sooner?) of 2018. It’s now been awhile, but I recall I first removed the Facebook app from my phone. This actually had the two-fold benefit of minimizing my carpal tunnel by not checking the phone as often while simultaneously leaving me with less feelings of loneliness.

It’s an interesting world we live in when something called social media is anything but and found to be responsible for high levels of loneliness.

That does pretty much come with the turf; spending 8+ hours a day in front of a screen tends to be isolating. Imagine that.

The world and how it works are pretty foreign to most people on any given day. That’s because we’re hanging out on social media. And I’d like to see some justice and have social media rebranded as “Only The Lonely” in an homage to Roy Orbison.

As our ability to interact with others decreases the more time we spend in front of screens, so does our ability to be our most effective, functioning and authentic selves.

Studies have shown this or that and/or it and other distillates of minutia related to detail.

They also have demonstrated lots of things to put it in other words. Aside from bullet point discoveries, however, solutions to the issues identified by studies are largely lacking.

In the case of the host of problems that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (yes, it’s social media, too, just social media for professionals) pose regarding loneliness, what are the solutions? Is there hope?

Sometimes I think the reason I’m even on LinkedIn is because crazily enough I sometimes feel that being on a network utilized by professionals should lessen my feelings of loneliness. Why would any reasonable person feel otherwise?

Like hanging out where professionals are hanging out should make loneliness nonexistent. Right?

[I don’t particularly care for it when someone says something and then punctuates it with, “Right?” So, I guess I just didn’t like myself there.]

I do find myself wondering how can professionals be lonely? It’s as if there is no good reason to be linked in and lonely on LinkedIn. Again, it’s used by professionals or at least it’s advertised this way. But the other side of the coin is that (to me) being LinkedIn means being connected with someone and something more than just yourself.

I think I could become professionally lonely if I cruised the LinkedIn professional networking site for too long.

It’s not just me, though, who feels this way.

People finish school, go into the working world and realize the reality of life is not all it’s cracked up to be.

So what do they do?

You guessed it. They go on LinkedIn to look for another job that hopefully makes them less lonely.

Can I get a like?

I didn’t think so.

Biscuit love and the spirit of full belly: Why it’s ok not to be crazy awake

Some days you wake up and do not feel like being all you can.

In fact, it’s pretty difficult for a large segment of the population to be anything other than barely conscious when first waking up; you go to the bathroom and then proceed to consume multiple caffeinated beverages until you can focus. And then you consume some more.

This is because the body requires a period of adjustment before assuming any persona not characterized as sluggish.

Other people, however, are what I like to call crazy awake when they first get up. They zoom around as if each minute is an opportunity for greatness.

I’m pretty good with that as long as my knees are slightly bent before they run into and/or over me.

After observing how my dogs behave most mornings, though, I’ve come to the realization that embodying the spirit of full belly is not so off the mark when it comes to describing how I would prefer to be on most mornings.

I can bring measured intellect to my writing in the morning, especially after I watch how my dogs are reacting once they’ve eaten.

They’re pretty active just before eating–wagging their tails, smiling and licking their lips in anticipation as drool drops start their descent to the floor.

When the coffee machine begins its gurgling sounds, I also find myself salivating (but I try to keep the drops from hitting the floor).

This is what I consider one of the principal differences between civilized human beings such as myself and dogs: My saliva (mostly) is self-contained.

Each day as I put the dogs’ bowls down for their meals I advise them to enjoy the food. Some days I silently mouth the words, “Live to eat, dawgs; do not eat to live.”

I smile and feel good as the bowls begin to clang in their frames to the steady rhythms of the dogs’ consumption.

Soon the food is gone. They each go to the other’s bowl looking for meal remnants, passing one another along the way before sitting side by side in anticipation of the reward I will give each of them.

After eating the main course the droolies are largely replaced by wiggling butts and patient glances. They anticipate the treats that are their biscuit love.

All too soon, the biscuits are chewed, swallowed and their mutual retreat to the couch is underway (as are their naps soon thereafter).

I start my second cup of coffee after all this has occurred and prepare my organic microwaveable oatmeal. Something about preparing anything organic in a microwave always seems wrong to me, but I don’t dwell on it. It’s still healthy, right?

Visions of running on a treadmill tend to creep in once the oatmeal has been eaten. It always feels odd to me if I’m walking on a sidewalk, pass a fitness center and see runners on treadmills. Their wearing shorts and t-shirts further adds to my confusion as a winter parka covers my body.

The treadmill visions soon pass.

It’s once again time to be everything I am meant to be and get to work.

Blog riffing 101: Tune in right here

I sometimes wonder if reading the Sunday phone will ever be as good as paper.

Digital sounds piercing at times.

I like to glide smoothly and with as much robustness as one can possibly muster through life.

Some people get paid millions of dollars to play a game that features a ball, bat and three (technically four if you count home plate) bases.

When it’s really cold out, I fire up inside both of my Core 2 Duos, my Pentium 4 box and my Power Mac G4 tower while writing.

I wonder if wearing a ski cap indoors can damage your creativity.

I’m not sure but my head is certainly warmer.

I just took off the ski cap and now my fingers are cold.

Will something good come of this?

The optimist says the best is yet to come.

I say why not think that way.

Sentence long paragraphs are (to me) like how jammin’ guitar used to make me feel.

Recognize inventiveness whose origins are rooted in surroundings-based canvas and quiet steadfastness?

How many calories does blogging 500 words chew up?

I don’t know. I’ve never measured–before or after.

I read more stories about studies detailing how morning people live longer, are smarter, work out in the morning and think about their intake more than most other people who prefer to do the bulk of their critical consciousness during the evenings.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation and have found a constant that transcends both demographics: stupid knows no time of day.

What came first the leader or the follower?

I vote for the follower as this person must have followed things other than leaders of their own kind to have survived to the point where there was finally a self-proclaimed leader who emerged–tricking them into thinking he’d be someone good to follow.

How long should someone hang on an inspiration?

My answer is, “For as long as it takes them to realize they do not know where, when or why they started down this path to begin with.”

I’ve never wanted a pair of those thin gloves with the finger tip areas cut out of them…until now.

I think if I found a pair my fingertips would still get cold.

Maybe it’s just the rest of my hand that might get warm.

I’ve lost interest in where either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado sign.

But it was interesting (to me) that Manny Machado’s name in my application’s spellcheck just came up as suspect words and Bryce Harper’s did not.

I need fat mice to be happy. Or at least my hand does.

Looking at computer/tablet/phone/device screens can give me a very stiff neck.

Reading newspapers never have.

I’m old enough to remember when phone book delivery was a good contract job.

Winters can sometimes also make me remember when I delivered phone books one season and slipped and fell on my back–with me and the phone books flying up in the air until we all came down hard on the icy cold pavement below.

It hurt. And so does my neck.

Unpopular choices may actually increase life satisfaction or so a recent study does not say

It’s hard to get anywhere doing the same thing everyone else does.

Take right now for instance.

Most of the country is tuned in to the Patriots versus the Chiefs NFL AFC Championship game.

I watched the first half.

Then did the dishes and never looked back.

The commercials were getting to me.

I’m not used to watching commercials let alone the same ones over and over again.

Now more than ever it takes away from whatever it is I’m watching; I just don’t have the patience.

So, I figured after enduring truck, car, tech and insurance commercials ad nauseam it was time to try something interesting again.

Like writing for you all and myself.

I’m using my fairly fresh install of Linux Lite 4.2 to compose with this evening.

It’s pretty basic and has one of everything you might need when it comes to computer programs that are frequently used.

I like the non-bloat.

I like that it doesn’t offer multiple redundant features like television has with its commercials.

I have to admit I would have endured the commercials today if any of my teams were still around.

At the least it would have been fun to see if Tom Brady could have won another trip to the Super Bowl, but it just wasn’t meant for me to be watching.

Part of the reason for that I know is it’s what everyone else does and what everyone else does is not appealing to me–because it’s what everyone else does.

I suppose too many like-minded people spoil the broth, as not having diversity in my leisure time activities puts me in a bad mood.

But there were the commercials that were off-putting and there was also annoying Tony Romo saying things like, “That doesn’t happen very often,” very often.

Another thing that doesn’t happen very often is when someone breaks away from the same old same old.

Variety is the spice of life someone once said.

That may be and at the least a little variety now and again seems to work for me.

If everyone’s a critic you really shouldn’t care too much about what it is they say about you.

I know that’s probably hard to do if you’re on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram all the time.

It’s easy to be doing what the masses do.

It’s harder to break away from lemming-like populism.

There was an episode of Seinfeld where Costanza did the opposite of what he normally would do.

I would suggest a 21st century update to that approach.

Instead of doing the opposite of what you would normally do, just do something different from what you normally would do.

This makes more sense than doing the opposite as doing the opposite of what you would normally do is more radical behaviorally-speaking than doing something different from what you would normally do.

Tonight marks my first adoption of this new approach.

Instead of watching the second half of Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes, I came here instead.

It’s not what everyone would do.

And that’s alright.


Three Dots…or how I came to accept the Ellipsis

I once read or heard that when you reach a certain age you have good days and you have bad days.

But I think that sentiment can be applied to most age groups with the exception of infancy.

When you’re experiencing chronology-old age, the good- and bad days are directly related to your aches and pains.

The mental part of it, which includes how you perceive the world, how it sees you and how you react to everything in between is what ends up deciding how things go, generally-speaking.

I remember when I used to be suspicious of people who used words like “generally-speaking,” in either written- or spoken-word fashion.

Why, you say?

Because generally-speaking, those kinds of word combinations cause me to tune out what comes after them; I just do so without even thinking.

Generally-speaking, generally-speaking…this tends to soften the after blow.

I read a teaser snippet somewhere that landed me on the Wall Street Journal’s website.

There are a couple, not more than two or three sentences, then… dot dot dot…

That’s right…that’s it.

The ellipsis…also know as “three dots” in lesser circles…

I used to think I was of lesser circles, because quite frankly, the thought of more, even larger circles (than already exist), seems not as much of either an efficient or productive use of my time.

But old three dots is the blogger’s best friend. You tend to find these kinds of things out on less warm and rainy days when wondering if something will come out (that sparks you).

Three dots comes in handy and always has; it’s the lesser statesman of the semi-colon, despite its state of “wholeness” casting a large shadow down upon the less-than-intact semi- colon by comparison.

The article I wanted to read in the Wall Street Journal was about something, or opened up with (remember I only got a snippet) something about a line of how 12 years ago Steve Jobs released the iPhone and how people are no longer amazed by it anymore.

And that was it unless you include the ellipsis.

It was, anyone could agree, the rightful end of the story to me by virtue of my lack of a Wall Street Journal subscription.

I remember the first time I encountered the journalistic paywall. But I can’t remember the site; only that the lesson was learned.

I was a little upset. But now I get it.

This time it was easy to back out entirely and move on.

But the iPhone and mobile phones in general no longer possess quite the magic they once did.

So we wonder what will come next.

And we try to envision what it could be.

Then we back out of that thought and glance back down at our phones.

I think what we value says a lot depending on what day it might be.

That kind of thinking might be part of what one could say was a good day or a bad day.

Or it could also just have been needing the kind of grace and alacrity that only Three Dots or the more highly-browed Ellipsis…can provide.

This will serve no real function other than to (hopefully) make you smile

The new year is officially underway and what better time to take an opportunity to just relax and offer some random amblings in no particular format, order or purpose…

It’s not as sexy as say a portable external hard disk, but my space heater is invariably my go to tool of choice–especially during winter months.

Can you wash blue jeans with white clothes? Yes and no. I’ve “heard” if you wash them in warm water they may be fine. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).

Will malls as we used to know them ever make a comeback? No. Retail store malls are dying. If they don’t completely end up falling prey to the bulldozer they will need a repurposing of some kind–the likes of which has yet to be determined.

Back in the day malls were social media. It was just real life, though, so you could call it reality Facebook. You saw the best in people and also the worst. And you didn’t have to log on; you just showed up. Like real life.

Back to washing clothes…do you prefer appliances such as washers and dryers that play a melody when they complete their cycles? I do. I remember the harsh buzzers that would sound on the Kenmore branded washers and dryers that were sold in malls across the country.

Those buzzers would shock you into attending to your clothes.

Today’s tune-playing washers and dryers are more pleasant, less shocking and I still get to the clothes in somewhat timely fashion just like the old buzzer days.

And finally, if I could change the tune that signified the end of the wash cycle to “Eye of the Tiger,” that would be very nice.

I like Deepin OS for my desktop computers more and more. I find little things like not having the time displayed in one of the corners of my monitor a nice touch. If I’m not checking the clock as much (as I used to when I couldn’t avoid it because it was in my field of view), the theory is I can be more productive. I’ll let you know how that works out.

The time is next to the trash in the dock strip at the bottom of the screen in Deepin. The icon is a small circle that rests in the dock and simply displays the hour and minute; it’s located so off the beaten path that yes, I would say it is unobtrusive.

Deepin can resemble a PC (Efficient Mode) or Mac (Fashion Mode) desktop. I prefer the Mac look although I like that you can instantly get to the desktop when in Efficient Mode by clicking Deepin developers’ version of the Windows 1-click desktop transporter typically found at the lower right hand corner of the Windows app icon panel.

By any estimates, as much as 65% of Apple’s revenues are from iPhone sales. iPhone sales are down. You didn’t think the ride would last forever did you?

YMMV (see above) – one of my favorite acronyms right after NAVY–Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

If a phone is only as intelligent as the person operating it, shouldn’t we just drop the word “smart” in front of phone?

I don’t get the newspaper delivered anymore but I have a paper wall calendar for 2019 featuring pictures of pit bulls. Go figure.

May 2019 hearken the return of Internet surfing

Just tried to read an article on “fakeness” online and an ad that promised to email me weekly information on what’s happening in tech kept popping up despite clicking through it repeatedly.

Many websites rely on advertising to make a go of it. Advertising is somewhat negated with ad blocking apps that affect overall browser performance.

While it’s sometimes possible to use another browser to offset relentless ad pop ups, it isn’t a practical solution. We all have our browsers of choice and what usually happens when a stubborn ad refuses to go away, is the person ends up clicking out of the site altogether.

Personally, I like sites with ads as long as they’re not over the top in number and/or slowing down overall page load times. Also, occasionally, a certain ad may appeal enough to me that I click on it–sometimes it’ll take me to information I’d like to view; other times perhaps not so much.

The Internet is still most appealing when you don’t set out using it to fulfill an agenda. That is, when you’re surfing for leisure and not under a deadline to locate some shred or tidbit of information that fulfills your need for attribution.

Doesn’t matter that it’s the end of the year or the beginning of another one.

The past five years when I’ve reached the end of the year, I’ve bemoaned not hopping on the computer more often for leisure.

Social media is something I’m using less and less of. I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends in person and find I much prefer enjoying the full spectrum of communication one experiences while having coffee with another human being.

This article is written in relaxed fashion–sort of reminiscent of when I’d awaken the computer from hibernation and fire up Netscape. Remember Netscape?

Today I started up Firefox planning to surf awhile and then came here to write about something of which I had no clue I was about to entertain beforehand–just like the old days.

The Internet has always been a source of inspiration to me. When I wasn’t being inspired, I was being entertained by it. Years gone by I utilized the net for entertainment more so than for occupational purpose.

That in a nutshell is what has become problematic for most of our online experiences these days.

If we were ever truly satisfied with our social media experiences we’d be able to leave them alone for weeks at a time in favor of random internet surfing.

But we can’t seem to do that. Nor are we able to enjoy that coffee with an old friend via any method other than video conferencing of some kind.

It’s just not the same thing.

Remember when you used to sit down, fire up Internet Explorer, type something in the URL address window and see where it takes you?

Yep, I know you do and you remember those times with fond memories.

It was the innocence of the wild, wild west that was the Internet’s halcyon days–free-spirited, lively, no pressure and laced with experiences that turned just hopping on the computer for a few minutes into 90 minutes later.

The time got away from us in a good way back then.

I hope we all can get some of that feeling back.

We’re taking the last few days of 2018 off.

With your assistance and our good fortune, we look forward to serving up some more fun times and food for thought in 2019.

Thank you, kindly.


Wrap music’s contribution to social interaction’s decline

This was a year that saw iPhone sales fall flat, perhaps signalling the end of a successful run for Apple’s flagship device.

People will continue to buy them, make no mistake about it. They just won’t ever again buy them in the record numbers Apple has grown accustomed to.

And this quiet development does have me wondering what might take the place of mobile phones as the next consumer piece of tech everyone has to have.

The iPhone’s successor in terms of iconic status may not be known for years, however.

While trends can sometimes identify or provide hints at what’s to come, on most occasions the forces that are accidents, stuff and timing combine to help best predict the arrival of products and services we can’t live without.

It is fun to take guesses, though.

An easy one would be robots for the home. We’re possibly already in the process of this happening.

Largely reduced to living in the isolated confines of our homes, why shouldn’t this lifestyle eventually become reality with Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Alexa having laid the groundwork for further social detachment with their growing entrenchment?

I would suggest the only thing that might forestall the rise of the machines would be if robots’ appearances continue to be less than human-like.

Personally, I don’t want a robot that looks like a Dyson.

I prefer the full Monty.

If I can’t at least describe home robots with the word “eerily”–as in eerily life-like, then I don’t want a robot in the house. Maybe that’s just me, but with unsocial media driving society’s exodus from in-person interaction, I’d like a robot that delivers up to at least 95 percent life-like appearance quality.

You could have a family of human beings living under the same roof and one of them could be an artificial human that would in effect become part of the “real” family. Robots might eventually transcend their current Hoover-like appearances and blur the lines between real and not so real people.

That would be my preference.

Another thing I’d like to have happen once robots in the home become commonplace, is for anyone who is currently a bad wrapper to become a very good one.

Now, some of you may think I’m speaking of wrap music, or rap music, but I’m neither speaking of music nor of rap. I’m speaking of wrap–as in present wrapping.

I’m self-diagnosed with the all too common affliction that is bad wrapping. I can’t neatly or nicely wrap a present for the life of me. Presents that I have personally wrapped are easy to distinguish. The corners are like the poor angles that bad carpenters proliferate. This puts it mildly, though. What I’m thinking would be nice would be a milk shake that comes in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry varieties that once consumed would deliver the ability to wrap very well for the next four to six hours.

I know that’s asking a lot, but maybe it could happen.

The world’s a deadline

Projects, projects, projects.

And the dreaded deadlines imposed–self or otherwise, never seem to end.

There’s a deadline for making sure your holiday gifts arrive in time (not to add any unnecessary stress to your last-minute shopping).

But many of the most angst-inducing deadlines occur on the job.

That’s right.

Our professional lives can be the single biggest deliverer of stress-related deadlines.

As an old newspaper guy, I developed a matter-of-fact attitude early on regarding deadlines.

Working on weekly papers in the Navy, I understood if I wanted a story run, it had to be in by such and such a time on such and such a day.

My body developed an internal clock for it, too. I was young and probably didn’t understand what the pit forming in my stomach indicated as I typed feverishly on an IBM Selectric in an attempt to edit, re-write and polish all the last-minute articles that needed to run in that week’s edition.

Typically, we don’t receive any payoffs, rewards or bonuses for not making deadlines.

But, depending on the time of year and the particular individual, that is not always the case…

CC Sabathia is a southpaw pitcher on the New York Yankees. A former Cy Young Award winner when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians, CC has been a Yankees mainstay since 2009 when he was integral to the Yankees’ World Series title efforts.

Mr. Sabathia had a deadline of sorts related to a contract incentive last year. He needed to pitch 155 innings for the season in order to invoke a $500,000 innings-pitched bonus.

But he fell short as many of us do from time to time.

Ejected for hitting a batter in the final pitching opportunity of the 2018 season, Sabathia ended up with 153 innings pitched.

Sports imitates life and life imitates sports.

More importantly, and depending on who your employer is (and the time of year?), sometimes coming very, very close to meeting your goals, productivity requirements and contract incentives can be reason enough to be considered as having met the deadline for the purposes of receiving credit for doing so.

According to a story in USA Today by Steve Gardner, “…when the Yankees’ 2018 payroll was calculated for luxury tax purposes, an extra $500,000 was included.”

CC ended up receiving his $500,000 innings-pitched contract incentive from the Yankees despite the fact he was two innings short from officially earning it

Yes, most of us do not work for the New York Yankees.

And so many of us do not enjoy the same levels of generosity and good will that a potential Baseball Hall of Fame baseball pitcher does from his employer.

We fall short more often than we care to admit.

We fail at reaching some of our goals and we do not expect compensation for doing so.

We are conditioned to steel ourselves against failure with phrases such as, “Close but no cigar” and “Wait ’til next year.”

The Yankees are still considered the “Evil Empire” by many non-fans–a reference back to the days when owner George Steinbrenner would lavish expensive contracts on baseball’s annual best class of free agents.

CC received a big contract when he originally signed with the Yankees. He’s made a lot of money. He would not have been bitter if the Yankees did not come across like they have. But they did and he appreciated it.

As this holiday season comes into full swing, perhaps we should all take heart that while we may not reach our goals as this year’s end approaches, it most certainly will not be for lack of trying.

And who knows. Maybe someone might appreciate that.

‘Tis the season.

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