hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

The best weekends: Plan them or not?

Any plans for the weekend?

A more innocent and excitement-inducing question on a Friday has never been asked.

Except when the person you are asking doesn’t typically have plans for the weekend.

Weekend plans, unless you’re going out-of-town are best left unmade.

You never get anything done completely that you expected to when you make a plan just before the weekend.

If anything, you plan too much and then you end up needing a weekend to get over the exhaustion that sets in on Monday.

Is this why Mondays are the day of the week that people call in sick more often than any other day?

I would say yes and a lot of the time they aren’t sick so much as just tired and feeling unaccomplished from the things they planned on doing on the weekend that just passed (that they didn’t get done).

I like the unplanned weekend.

This leaves me free to do as much (or as little) as I like.

No agenda.

No to-do list.

Just a clean slate.

Why not?

Maybe the weather is crappy and raining like yesterday.

Yes, we have more accurate weather forecasting and can (mostly) plan accordingly. But, sometimes the weather is unpredictable and whatever you thought about doing outdoors at any given time over the weekend can no longer be done.

That’s when you need to quickly switch gears and set off to binge watch your favorite show that you need to catch up on.

Or you want to play some records while doing that load of laundry–really the only load that requires completion, while you listen to Led Zeppelin 1.

Or while listening to that, you decide you want to update your Ubuntu Mate 18.10 operating system on the external drive to 19.04; it’s a perfect time to do this as you inadvertently run into issues and have to delete some broken packages before the installation can successfully complete.

Or maybe you want to sit on the couch with your significant other and hold hands (but you can’t because your two dogs are taking up the space that you’d occupy). You can try a hug as an alternative in the event there is no room for both of you on the couch.

If the weather is particularly uninviting you can let your mind wander to things it typically might not consider; you might seek out a status check on something like your bow tie inventory. I know I did. It was lacking and so I will be getting a new one.

If I had a plan, the bow tie thing might never have occurred.

Some people recommend treating your weekends as if they were vacations.

I do not think this is such a great idea, mostly because come Monday the shock of returning to work will be too great. It’s not like a real vacation after which you return home from and spend a day or two reacclimating to daily life.

Having no plan works well for me. I do not suggest everyone go into their weekends like this, however. As always, what works for some may not for others. I do hope you can give it a try some time at least on a trial basis.

Life is just too short and is to be enjoyed in the moment as much as possible.

You can’t do that making plans all the time.

Risking mediocrity

Allergies are not another way the universe demonstrates its love for us.

Nor are any afflictions that cause pain–real or imagined.

So, instead of rushing to treat them, some of us try to figure out what it is that causes them in the first place. This can begin a path of self-medication, pre-treatment and wonder at what else these conditions can cause.

In the case of allergies, for me, it is annoyance.

Several years ago when I had my first experience with Ohio River Valley allergy season, I thought I was coming down with strep throat or the flu. People I worked with told me how bad I sounded. I was fatigued, my body ached and I started eating copious amounts of cough drops in an attempt to make it easier to swallow.

Then I realized it was allergies. I can’t remember how I came to the conclusion that this was what was ailing me.

Did someone tell me that quite possibly it was allergies?

Perhaps.

But in the end, once I knew it was allergies it became a source of irritability for me and for good reason.

You don’t feel good when you’re experiencing spring hay fever.

When I don’t feel good I get irritable. With irritability comes impatience. And with impatience comes stupid behavior.

Like I think in order to write something here I need complete silence.

As if having noise of any kind is reason enough to feel there is no way I can blog or write anything of merit tonight.

So, as someone who treats their allergies with a less expensive facsimile version of Flonase, I set out to prove that I could struggle through distractions, ponder the meaning of life and still come up with something decent here.

Time will tell but so far to me it feels as if this has absolutely no merit or value at all.

But, I can’t help denying the feeling that this piece was meant to be–as are all of the pieces I compose–here, there and everywhere!

Some say ridiculous things like if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck it must be a duck.

In the case of this missive my alter ego just whispered in my ear that this composition is so far a steaming pile that completely resembles a steaming pile to this point.

Once it quieted down some I thought I could write unbelievably great prose. But as the noise soon resumed I thought I could drown my renewed irritability with some classical music.

After all, reason would dictate that classical music is conducive to creativity.

But no, not when the sounds of squeaking floor boards above–aka old house charm horribly combine with classical music to induce visions of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in slow motion–definitely not a harmonious combination.

So what have we learned so far here this evening?

I’m not sure a lesson has been inscribed so much as the value of the time otherwise spent trying to sleep can now be considered somewhat of a win.

Some days are born for greatness.

More are birthed for mediocrity.

And yet still others, like this missive if looked upon kindly, fall somewhere in between.

Linux bests macOS, Windows experience in oddly familiar ways

My favorite PC is an ancient HP Compaq featuring the ability to boot into four different operating systems:

Three of them are Linux-based.

One is Microsoft-based.

And none are macOS-based.

***

I read an article about which operating system you should use: Windows, macOS or Linux.

It was well written like too few of the pieces to be found on this subject are, but also too short to render all the possibilities–pros and cons, for running any of these systems.

As someone who runs all three systems in various configurations of hardware and software, I was disappointed the article failed to mention the intangible and subjective noun that is excitement.

Back during the Microsoft-Apple desktop operating system wars, excitement was a word bandied about by users of both tech companies’ systems–Windows and Mac. Linux was really not in the conversation.

Now, however I would suggest times have changed and the real fun and quality experience of using a desktop computer can be had when running a Linux OS distribution.

***

My quadruple-boot Core 2 Duo Intel processor PC runs my choice at boot startup of either Zorin 12.4, Deepin 15.9.3, Linux Lite 4.4 (which I’m typing this on now) or Windows 10.

If I wanted the ability to boot into macOS (legally) on this system I would need an actual Mac to run macOS and then I could run the other operating systems mentioned above on the Mac, too–which, as they say, kind of defeats the whole reason for using a Mac in the first place and which, I might also add contributes to the difficulty of consumers to justify the Apple tax they must pay when buying a Mac.

***

Macs are overpriced. And Apple renders them obsolete after a certain number of years as to the ability of the hardware to keep up and run Apple’s latest and most current version of macOS software.

Apple has to make money and I get it.

Plus, there’s Linux if you want to run a modern operating system on older hardware like I do.

While Windows 10 runs alright on the 1.83 GHz Intel processor, it is the slowest OS of the four systems on the PC. There is also the annoying time suck that is Windows operating system updates–big, time-consuming and restart-intensive.

***

All of my Linux systems update all the software at once. It doesn’t take as long as Windows. With Macs and Windows PCs you have to update the individual software like browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) unless in the case of Macs it’s Apple software like the macOS itself or something like iTunes–which all gets done via Software Update functions in the App Store.

Only Linux offers the seamless ability to update everything at once. When you combine that with the ability to run a secure, modern OS on a less than modern PC, that’s exciting!

Another thing that is fun is the ability to make many Linux distributions appear like either macOS or Windows. Granted, it’s not completely the same as a Mac or Windows PC, but using skins in conjunction with having familiar looking drop-down menus, start menus, docks, cursors and/or windows with minimizing/maximizing looks that mimic either Windows or Mac makes for familiar good times.

Sure, at the end of the day I need to get work done and I don’t have precious time to waste messing around with a tool that doesn’t do what I need it to.

But, you undoubtedly can’t go wrong using either Windows, Mac or Linux to get work done.

If you want to have some fun while toiling away, however, trying out a new Linux distribution on an otherwise forgotten PC may be just the right mixture of fun, accomplishment and cost-effectiveness that brings the excitement back to personal computing.

Has Apple made the perfect move?

We would probably never end up doing something if we decide to wait for ideal conditions.

Ideal conditions bring to mind the word perfect. And as we know (or should know), nothing is perfect.

But sometimes, in a nod to the ever-diminishing value of planning, a project can be completed in less than ideal conditions–and in an almost perfect state.

In the case of Apple and its latest subscription service, it remains to be seen whether or not it will end up being referred to as a perfect venture for the Cupertino iPhone maker. Present conditions may be perceived as ideal for Apple but I prefer to think their opportunistic efforts may instead end up being a case of too little too late.

Apple is trying to inject new life into dying print journalism by offering digital versions of 300 magazines for $9.99 a month.

Apple will have a monopoly on this no longer sustainable industry and business model while reportedly keeping a considerable and hefty portion of the profit.

I don’t like monopolies, especially those that potentially unlevel the playing field with respect to criticism of Apple.

I was an early Apple fanboy when they were battling Microsoft for supremacy on the desktop computer operating system wars. Apple lost in an unanticipated short amount of time. It was not close.

Microsoft rules the desktop to this day and is ubiquitous in the business world. Apple never made inroads there, preferring to focus on consumer, education, and print journalism segments for their macOS.

I long ago stopped recommending Apple only devices. Part of this shift in my thinking came with experience. If you live long enough you eventually learn there is more than one tool that can accomplish what it is you’re trying to do.

My issue with the 300 magazines for $9.99 a month deal is that it will undeniably bring less criticism of Apple by the journalists whose job it is to report objectively on the gadget maker quasi extraordinaire.

The only people who will be able to direct criticism at Apple without looking over their shoulders will be independent writing sources–or anyone outside of the publishing warehouse that Apple has assembled.

It’s like anything else.

Apple should not be given credit for benevolence, especially when there is money to be made.

They are a publicly-owned company tasked with generating value for its stockholders.

They most certainly view this latest initiative as a way to increase revenues. More specifically, and as viewed through the lens of an outsider, they are wringing the last bit of profit that can be had from a 20th century industry remnant long in decline.

It is not a case of Apple reaching out to assist in the preservation of journalism. Apple is not worthy of this praise. Let there be no confusion as they do not have writers’ backs here at all. Tech reporting that profiles Apple as a company will most certainly suffer when writers at mainstream media outlets (that reside under the subscription umbrella) can no longer cover both sides of the story without fear of retribution.

Apple may have waited for ideal conditions to make what may end up for them to be a perfect decision.

To look at the other side of the coin, however, is to consider the possibility they may also be presiding over journalism’s death knell.

Monday communication is hard

It’s cool to be able to say something is cool just for the sake of being cool.

What makes sense most of the time to you may not make any sense to me.

How do we find common communication ground?

We start by thinking alike and letting one another know when it is we do that.

If we are thinking the same way or thinking the same way about something, the key is to express it to the other person before the moment passes.

It’s not completing someone’s sentence.

It’s not saying jinx after you both say the same word at the same time.

It’s not being in the same group on Facebook and wondering why you’re thinking alike regarding the group you’re both in.

I think once everyone is thinking the same way, then and only then will Twitter go away.

I find irony in private messages being anything but.

If classical music is old I’d like to play new classical. Hence we’d have new old music to go along with new age music. I think that would be nice.

The word drivel comes to mind occasionally.

Why is it that a project can be something kids do in science class and also be someone who will need a lot of hard work and training before they become a top of the rotation starting major league pitcher?

What is a groove? And what do you have to do in order to maintain one?

Why are grooves lost and found?

Why is the characterization middle of the road not considered praiseworthy? It seems to me that being in the middle of the road should be preferred, comparatively-speaking to either side of the road. For instance, if there were curbs on either side of the road, you might stub your toes when walking along the side of the road.

On the other hand, you’d be less likely to avoid an oncoming car when walking down the middle of the road. But a middle of the road effort by a pop artist could possibly lead to their becoming just an artist–for lack of good record sales.

So and so was the most popular girl in school. So what?

If we use our space heater to keep warm just think about what we could do with a galaxy heater.

Why do people want to break into my blog?

You could just email me if you want to know something about it.

It saddens me to think of all the attacks this site undergoes.

It also makes me think the people who try to hack me suck.

If I had an advisor, they would have advised me not to let readers know this.

But sites are hacked by hackers just for fun. I get it. But should that be considered a life worth leading?

You tell me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I still can’t get over how much enjoyment I derive from reading the Sunday phone.

Are your kidneys able to thank you if you drink more water?

No?

Then stop telling me they will.

 

 

The man with 12 Operating systems

I’m typing with Grammarly.

I’m supposed to be scared.

crap. With a small case “c”.

I once knew a man with 12 operating systems.

He self-admittedly changed operating systems more often than he did his underwear.

Linux. Windows. Mac.

He ran them all.

Ubuntu.

Deepin

Zorin

Linux Lite

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Professional

Windows 10 Amateur

macos

Mac OS 9

yeah

Ubuntu Mate

Q something

Pearl

Makulu

MX-18

MX-17

Rocket fuel

whatever

Unlike the rest of the crowd online, he would cry out loud.

He was always trying to connect in a different way, even if it meant the only way he was attempting connection was via to operate…in a manner of speaking…using a different operating system.

When he felt sick, he felt really sick.

So far Grammarly hasn’t gotten me.

Nor has any ancient curse…thus far.

But, I’m playing side one of Neil Young’s “Decade.”

And anything is fair game.

“Protecting her kings from the sun rays at dawn.”

Especially with Grammarly pop-ups.

Why did I sign up?

I get it.

It’s cool if an app pops something up.

Cool.

Yeah.

I’ll click on it.

Yeah.

I might.

I mean, really.

And Neil plays on.

I think we’re going into “Ol’ Laughin’ Lady” or whatever clever measure of letter omissions the song title is.

Oh, wait!

Expecting to Fly.

I miss you, Neil.

I bemoaned your decline.

Decade was one of your understated and most underrated compilations.

Getting back to, “When he felt sick, he felt really sick.”

Especially when it was not bacteria-based. He could feel a virus gripping his entire body, when it was in total control.

At his advanced age, he considered his relationships and work dealings to be a rest-of-life commitment.

He thinks this is the most he’s ever struggled for just under 300 words.

But I’m over 300 words now.

This is the best ride anyone could ever hope for.

And Neil plays “Sugar Mountain.”

Ain’t Life Grand.

To the people that you met and it’s your first cigarette.

Now just listen.

This is the rhythm that is “Decade.”

You’re leaving there too soon.

Degenerated into something Will Ferrell-appropriate.

Just over 350 words and I sort of feel smarter.

When I woke up this morning I didn’t think what I would set out to write later would change the world.

In fact, I didn’t think I’d be writing at all.

Neil coughs.

People clap.

Side Two

What is the color…

You are a man.

You understand.

Wait, hold it right there.

My journey has nothing to do with what Neil is singing about.

It definitely was a good attempt at figuring out describing what life might hold out later.

Double Albums

They really add no value.

In Neil’s case, when on Side Two of Decade, I understand the criticism of Neil wrapping you in too soon into the selection of what goes into an album titled, “Decade.”

Smaller type for the continued argument against “Album” time

What exactly is “Album Time?”

It’s something we’re all not supposed to know.

Type faster young man…

“No one can see him.”

Nothing can be him.

Step aside…

Open wide…

Well, it’s who you think it might be for someone who can’t type as fast as Neil could sing.

Goodnight

The incongruous tidings of viewing excess and misery

We do everything to avoid television commercials.

We DVR and fast forward.

We stream and we back out of commercials.

We skip ads on YouTube after five seconds.

Commercials are hardly ever watched at all anymore.

Except during the Super Bowl. We love us some commercials during the Super Bowl–sometimes even better than the game.

This demonstrates the lure of live major sporting events.

Most of us of a certain age demographic recall how our sandwich-making skills were honed during the playing of television commercials.

It was an art to be able to make the sandwich and return to the easy chair in the living room before the show started again.

It also felt like hitting a jackpot of sorts when your rear end hit the seat just as the show resumed. Or at least it did for me.

Sometimes, however, we didn’t make the sandwich in time and we ended up missing some of the dialogue between the show’s characters.

That’s when re-runs came into importance; you could catch what you missed when the show reran.

On lazy summer days you could catch up on everything you might have missed the first time the show ran in the winter.

Now, there’s no challenge in watching TV anymore. We can blame it on our ability to pause our big screens whenever we like.

During pauses in our television viewing, we:

Prepare complete meals–taking as long as we need to do so.

Vacuum out our car’s interior.

Give the dogs a bath.

Give the kids a bath.

Take a bath ourselves.

Decide we need more chips in order to make it through the show we just paused and drive to the convenience store.

Debate the merits of convenience stores while we’re on the way to them to pick up more chips.

Decide to pause our phones by putting them in Airplane mode before driving to the convenience store.

Wonder why we feel something is missing when we watch TV.

Wonder why this empty feeling comes upon us as with endless TV choices and variety we should be in a perpetual state of bliss whenever it is we watch TV.

Everything in moderation

TV is not a medium of moderation.

It is one of gluttony.

We binge watch.

We watch until we need eye drops to soothe our eyes.

We are enthralled with some shows’ viewings and we are literally glazing over with giddiness when watching others.

Just before we are able to say enough, though, we are sick and tired of watching.

When we reach this point we understand we’ve gone too far.

Too far beyond moderation.

Way, way far beyond moderation.

It’s still winter and storms are upon us as we enter into TV’s most glutinous period.

We don’t acquire any skills like efficient sandwich making during this time.

I would suggest we actually become less intelligent by virtue of our engaging in continual spectatorship.

When you’re watching more than you’re actually doing, you’re in decline or are degenerating from within. You’re allowing dust to accumulate on you like the furnishings inside your living room.

You insist all will change with warmer weather and spring’s arrival.

And it likely will temporarily.

Until summer’s stifling heat dictates a return to interiors, air conditioning and binge watching.

Starfish: A tale of neck collar regeneration

There’s nothing like a skittish Internet connection to make you type a lot and really fast too.

You hope your application’s auto save feature will be reliable.

Check that.

You do whatever it is beyond hoping that ensures the data will be saved. In my case it’s remembering to manually save what it is I type periodically.

This is an example of evidence existing that makes complete automation in our lives a whimsical notion or a pipe dream of sorts.

For some reason I thought pipe dream was one word. But my automated spell checker saw fit to ensure I did not let that stand as originally typed.

Automation is not being considered or implemented for things I’d like to see it make inroads.

Where automation fails epically

For example, take the case of my flannel shirt necklines.

You know what I’m talking about.

Some of us have a neck condition that causes the collars in our flannel shirts to wear out prematurely.

If not prematurely, then flannel shirt neck wear should be described as developing much too soon. It’s definitely way before the time a failure of this kind should occur in any event.

The rest of the shirt is perfectly fine. The sleeves, pockets, buttons and everything else are in good shape. Definitely no wear exists elsewhere or anywhere that would cause me to not wear the shirt any longer. Have some fun and read that last sentence again.

When the shirt’s neck gets worn to the point that the fabric is losing its integrity in the middle of the collar, extending a seam of tearing from one end to the other, causing your spouse to tell you to get rid of the shirt, well, then it’s time for some artificial intelligence that would really do my universe a world of good.

What if the shirt could fix its own collar?

I don’t have Alexa in the house. Well, she’s sort of in the house except I have her turned off. And my wife and I can agree that we are better off without her. We’re good like that.

But, if ever I’d like to become one with AI of some kind, it would be the type that repairs my beloved flannel shirts’ collars at the first signs of fraying.

I don’t consider myself as having a red neck.

I think of my neck as probably more harsh than red.

Admittedly, though, my neck does wreak havoc on flannel shirt necklines. And I’d prefer automation help offset its ravages.

Is that too much to ask?

Well, evidently so.

The spotty Internet connection as frayed neck collar

So, as I was able to successfully state how artificial intelligence solutions are sorely lacking for my flannel shirt neck collar issues, I am now returning to the scourge that is unreliable Internet connectivity and the similarly unrewarding fixes available that are less than 100% effective.

If you stream media you may encounter buffering.

Depending on your machine you may experience intermittent connectivity issues with certain configurations of hardware and software.

Always on and always reliable.

One might call it a pipe dream.

Or a notion of the whimsical variety.

 

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.

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