hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Walking for fun, adventure and exercise

Part of my morning routine now consists of walking two dogs.

One is familiar with walks and enjoys them.

The other is new to walks and enjoys them.

What does that tell you?

Part of the answer has to be that if you are fortunate enough to have use of your lower extremities, then you should take walks because you will most likely enjoy them. And if you’re like me and walk two or more dogs, avoiding being sacked by them a la Khalil Mack is just part of the fun.

I don’t think anything beats running for cardiovascular conditioning and leg strength. Combined with weight training on off running days, you can maintain some semblance of good overall fitness.

Walking daily, though, should be a part of your routine no matter what you do for a work out.

Taking a walk with two dogs is actually part of my workout routine now.

There is a tendency for the one dog who is still learning the walking discipline to find herself entwined with her big brother by virtue of tangled leashes. This entanglement is entirely my fault, too, as while I try to stay on top of and anticipate her every move, she ultimately fakes right and goes left–winding up on the other side of her brother in a tangle.

The drop in temperatures this morning forced me to bring my A game on our walk, too. I think it was the temperature drop, or possibly the upcoming New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears football game that may have been responsible for the quick pace and keystone cop antics for all concerned.

There was the sudden stop to look back at nothing.

Then there was the sudden urge to leap to the head of the group a la Rudolph and Santa’s sleigh.

Then there was the incessant sniffing. Sniff, sniff, sniff. It’s enough sometimes that I want to get down on the ground and take a sniff myself at what it is they think is so good they can’t seem to break away until after a few minutes of becoming one with the scent.

One of the ways I’ve tried to keep things moving on a walk is to be as dexterous as possible when it comes to changing which hands the leashes are in; if I can do this on the fly as it were, I’m able to keep the tangles to a minimum (although it was pretty comical when the little girl decided it would be Jordan Howard-esque to plow head first through a fallen tree branch before snaring it on the back of her harness and causing a flurry of spastic, exuberant jumping and running with the branch stuck in her harness).

My leash changing on the fly abilities are somewhat compromised when I wear gloves like I had on this morning. But, I take them off for a while when I want to keep us all walking for a decent stretch so I can slip leash handles from hand to hand and back and forth.

There is also adventure on our walks. We saw a coyote on the other side of the street. We stopped to stare. The dogs were ready to charge, but I managed to have firm grips on both their leashes. Good thing, too, as the coyote didn’t flinch. After what seemed like an interminably long 30 seconds, we walked off and so did the coyote.

Will Tom Brady manage to escape the clutches of Khalil Mack? Or will he become entangled at the legs and feet of the offensive lineman entrusted with keeping him upright?

Me thinks he will become entangled at least once. Me also thinks if he’s in Mack’s clutches, he will be going down to sniff the aromatic turf of Soldier Field on at least one occasion.

Your choice: Success, trillion dollars or living to be 5,000 years old?

In order to understand the trappings of life, you have to keep living.

You might not make it to understanding any of it, but if you don’t take at least some care of yourself and die before your time, you won’t ever know if it at all made any sense in the end.

Did I just say the reason to live is so you can figure out what it is you’re actually here for?

No. But I may have intimated at it.

Nobody ever figures out life completely. Knowing this doesn’t stop anyone from actually trying to be the first to do so, however.

It’s like the perfect chili–I know, I know… Skelley is comparing chili with something as complicated as life.

But life is pretty simple if at least in the relative beginning of yours, you can sort through what’s truly important (to you) and what isn’t. I wasn’t always able to do so as some of what I thought was indispensable ended up being merely an illusion.

Additionally, some of the things I thought were important early on in my life are nowhere to be found regarding what’s going on now. Along the way, I also figured out that success is not about how much money you can accumulate before you’re 30 years of age. If I ever became a millionaire (sorry a million bucks will never be chump change and always a lot of money to me), I’d want to do so in my 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond as I figure I’ll need it most during these periods.

If lots of money at an early age signifies success, I’ve been completely and utterly unsuccessful. This is a kind of tough pill to swallow, but it does afford insight into my life perspective on money: It’s something I made just enough of to exchange for food, rent and clothing.

This kind of thinking can occur when an individual has spent more time behind them than what they have moving ahead. It’s a perspective all its own of sorts. And it’s the kind of introspective viewing that hopefully suggests less hustle and bustle and the comfort of life ahead in the slow(er) lane.

If you really want to be negative you can adopt the following take on life and be miserable to your dying days: Absolutely nothing is really important. Nor is success of consequence. And what anyone thinks of you shouldn’t be something that you give any thought to.

But you know what?

You can be the most confident person in the world and still require the affirmation of someone or somebody you respect and admire.

That is what I call the life method of scale. You can at least partially figure out where you stand in the world by soliciting feedback from folks.

A lot of employers offer the chance to do just this. But, as confident as I think I am, I remain unwilling to solicit others’ opinions of me; I cannot decide in free will to do so.

It’s like a celebrity agreeing to an interview in a magazine whose heyday has long since come and gone. And then finding out the writer has done a hit job on them. You know the celeb is bruised, battered, exhausted at the thought of someone else reading of their shortcomings. They insist it’s not about the story nor the money. But it’s always at least somewhat about both–truth be told.

What if you could control the exposure of such a critique? Would you be more inclined to ask for feedback at work from one of your peers if you can be assured the privacy and confidentiality of the people in the know regarding the feedback, is limited to just you, a fellow team member and perhaps the manager?

I believe people would be more inclined to receive this kind of feedback. Perhaps I would too.

In the interim, the measure of my success and successes is who I have helped today and the nature of the assistance I’ve extended them.

You know you’re getting up in age when you go to bed relatively healthy and wake up injured.

You also know you’ve matured and grown wise when simply being helpful equates to success (in your eyes).

Picture the ability to live to 5,000 years of age as commonplace effective today.

Can you say you are proud of the number of situations, people, animals and other things you’ve helped to make better up to this point?

If not, you better get cracking. Life might not be so short.

Use Linux to avoid Win, Mac update nightmares

Apple and Microsoft always recommend having a recent backup before installing updates to its operating systems.

I recommend that too.

But I also suggest you refrain from updating to these latest upgrade behemoths until the bugs are fully worked out of them.

In the meantime you can use a version of Linux for all your computing needs. And who knows–you might end up liking it enough where it becomes the system you use most frequently.

Apple’s macOS Mojave and Microsoft’s Windows 10 October 2018 updates have been creating no small number of issues for users of both these systems.

As I’ve said on countless occasions, the bloatware that doubles for commercial operating systems these days is both complex and huge. Both of these factors can and do contribute to problems of varying degrees when users apply these upgrades to their systems.

Gone are the days when you could install OS upgrades and/or updates as soon as they were released and made available. Beta testing does not come close to fleshing out issues that can bring users’ systems to their knees–costing time and money when system updates go bad in a big way.

For better or worse, consumers are now beta testers. And since knowledge is power, knowing now there’s a pretty decent chance you will have issues installing the latest upgrade or update from Microsoft and Apple (than ever before), why would you chance it?

It’s like anything else, though. You want the latest and greatest!

I would suggest you can have both by just waiting a few weeks until these companies release the first update to their updates. Once the brave souls who unwittingly volunteer as beta testers have identified the scourges lurking that can plague any user’s system, then and only then can it be deemed largely safe enough to proceed with said bloatware updates yourself.

If you have to be on one of the latest and greatest operating systems in the interim, you can try Zorin OS. It’ll take a lot less time and you’ll be up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to install either Windows 10 or macOS Mojave from scratch.

The larger issue

Having made a recommendation for something you can try other than Apple or Microsoft OS solutions, I can now suggest to both Microsoft and Apple that they should be at least a little bit anxious over the state of their desktop computer operating systems moving forward.

We know Apple is a mobile phone and gadget company. If the Mac was once a shining light for the tech giant, its operating system was the crown jewel–simple, elegant and it just worked! We know the Mac has largely lost relevance in the Apple iUniverse. Accordingly, the quality of its OS has largely declined as the size and bloat has grown on every OS10.XX release. Features that fail to wow have superseded the importance of elegant, fluid design accompanying bulletproof up-time.

For Microsoft–the 20th century tech company that strives to succeed in a 21st century world, the future is predicated on Redmond’s stranglehold on the corporate sector continuing indefinitely. Windows 10 is running on everything that Windows 7 is not. The good thing is the business world does not consider what end users prefer using; the only consideration is for what works, is stable and affords the highest levels of cost-effective worker productivity.

We all get that high production equals big profit.

The larger issue for both Apple and Microsoft with respect to the desktop operating system environment, is what consumers will do.

Consumers have a choice. They want something that’s fast. And they want something they can rely upon to work almost all of the time.

Neither Apple or Microsoft is keeping up their end of the bargain here.

Reading the Sunday ‘phone’ and other cool thoughts

It’s been an alternative operating system kind of month and after reading the Sunday “phone”, I’ve come to the conclusion sometimes you have to try yet another Linux Debian computer operating system.

I was/am pretty happy with MX-17 on a 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

But the Pentium 4 I’m typing this on needed a little more oomph.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, one of my inspirations for locating and using different computer operating systems is Apple’s own macOS Mojave–which was released on Sept. 24th. With Mojave’s release Apple cut off users of Macs roughly older than six years (the 2010 Mac Pro with Metal-compatible GPU notwithstanding), from running the current OS release.

If you have a Mac, eventually you have to buy a new one (and probably sooner than you care to) if you want to continue running Apple’s latest and greatest OS (when Apple releases an operating system that won’t run on your machine).

We get it. Apple needs to make money and this is one of the ways they get consumers to buy new Macs.

But, that said, you don’t have to remain behind Apple’s walled garden if you don’t want to.

These kinds of standard operating practices for big business are part of the reason why I love antiX–my new favorite computer operating system for personal computers.

Without getting into too much of the stuff under the hood (it’s Sunday, after all, and too much technical detail is especially annoying), I’d just like to tell you how it “feels” to use.

I downloaded and burned the “Full” .iso image which came in at about 830 MB if my memory serves me. The full version of antiX has everything an everyday user could need–internet browser, office suite, etc. You can of course add programs like Chromium if you want another browser other than the included Firefox.

What the system has (instead of what it doesn’t) is the main reason I use antiX–it’s fast, really fast on old computers. In fact, I now recommend it over MX-17 which, while quick, is not as responsive as antiX on ancient kit.

antiX will run great on all PCs, though, not just older ones. It’s a testimony to the developers, who by doing away with all the unnecessary bloat that commercial operating systems like Windows and Apple perpetuate, demonstrate understanding for users’ need for speed when using less than currently-spec’d machines.

And this user is thoroughly satisfied with developer efforts on this front.

Sunday extra: Sport signs of the pending Apocalypse

As we enter into the best time of the year for sports fans, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things that happened during September in the sports world that made me scratch my head.

The Vikings and Packers tied.

The Lions beat the Pats.

Tiger woods won again.

The Bears are in sole possession of first place in the NFC Central.

The Yankees set a record for most team home runs in a season and all they have to show for it is they get to play the A’s in a 1-game winner-take-all wildcard playoff.

There you have it.

Enjoy your Sunday.

The question is no longer ‘if’ but when you’ll try something other than macOS or Windows

Just when I think I’m all set with a Linux distro as far as loving it enough to stay with it awhile, I discover another one and end up trying it out.

Old PCs are made for Linux and there is no reason to try just one of the many distros out there.

To the contrary, it’s like Lay’s potato chips: you can’t eat, or in this case try, just one.

All of the flavors of Linux I’ve experienced have had their charms.

Ubuntu Mate may be my all time favorite as it’s near and dear to me by virtue of its original hard disk installation having survived the death of the computer (logic board) it was in only to find new life in a USB external hard drive enclosure as a portable Linux system.

Up until about a month ago it was my daily driver.

For a system to become my everyday workstation it has to be good and as near to bulletproof as systems can get. An ancient hard drive to begin with that originally ran Windows XP, I believe that Ubuntu Mate surviving a transplant of its ancient ATA hard drive to an external enclosure only made the drive (and system) stronger–much like a person who has been through the trials and tribulations of life.

Computers have revolutionized the way the world works and I’ve made it my mission to be fascinated with them throughout my adult working life.

I thought I loved Macs above all others until I didn’t. I went to the dark side (Windows) only to feel disappointed (and trapped) by the workings of Microsoft. Both Apple and Microsoft’s operating systems are commercial. I know macOS is free, but you have to pay the Apple tax for the privilege of using this system–aka you have to buy a Mac before you can (legally) use macOS.

So how free is that?

By the time consumer versions of Windows 10 were free most of us had paid for years of OS updates. There really wasn’t a true, free OS for consumers that allowed them to upgrade when they wanted to (instead of being forced to) until Linux became easy enough for anyone with a USB jump/thumb drive to download it to (and install on a PC of their choosing they have hanging around).

Hooked on Linux

With Linux distros these days, the command line which strikes fear in the hearts of casual computer users, is merely an optional tool.

That said, over the years I’ve learned to enjoy the command line even more than being able to work through a graphical user interface (GUI). For me, it was like learning keyboard shortcut equivalents to pointing and clicking a mouse on things like drop down and font menus. Sometimes, it just pays to put a little extra time up front into things like keyboard shortcuts or command line functions as it ends up opening up a new level of satisfaction that didn’t exist before (not to mention the time it saves).

So what am I using now?

I have been totally enamored with Zorin OS 12.4 Core. I installed it on an HP 1.83 GHz Core2Duo processor with 4 GB of Ram and it just flies. I am totally impressed with how fast it is compared to Windows 10 and macOS–which both suffer from such extreme bloat that performance is nowhere near as good as it should be.

Zorin is just another OS edition for the computer it’s on that already has Windows 10, Elementary OS (Linux) and Deepin (Linux). That’s right. It’s a multi-boot system and it’s like having four computers in one.

When I press the power button I can choose which system I want to use as it boots up.

A little thing called GNU GRUB (GNU GRand Unified Bootloader) is responsible for the selection magic.

The Linux OS that I’m typing this piece on is called MX-17. However, it’s installed on a 2 GHz Pentium 4 processor with only 1 GB of Ram. It’s not as fast as Zorin Core on the Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of ram of course, but it is very serviceable and allows me to continue using a machine that would otherwise receive zero use as it was formerly running the security vulnerability known as Windows XP.

And did I mention that MX-17 is joined on the P4 by Linux Mint 19 Tara and Zorin OS Lite for a trifecta of Linux OS beauties?

Somebody pinch me.

Somebody can pinch you, too once you try Linux.

[Ed. Note: Be sure and support the developers behind the distros you enjoy with whatever donations you can, as this enables their continued hard work at producing operating systems we all love to use].

The joys of summer chores no more

Now that cooler weather is (temporarily?) upon us, let us give thanks for more time in between lawn mowing intervals.

You know what I’m talking about.

Instead of weekly clippings you can now go about 10 days–and that’s three whole days more of not mowing the lawn (which is an added bonus as far as time given back by the universe).

Some people can power through lawn mowing in practically no time. I, too, can attest to rapidly mowing the lawn on some days compared to others.

But, the problem with mowing too fast is that:

  1. You place additional wear and tear on your machine by pushing it so hard; and
  2. You totally need to take a longer shower to wash all the sweat off you from mowing so fiercely

So, while mowing more quickly may save time on the front end, the longer time you take in the shower afterwards on the back end may result in about the same time expense overall, compared to if you had mowed at a more leisurely pace.

Not saying you don’t need to shower after mowing at a slacker’s pace, but you might not need as much time washing off the dirt layers if you sweat less because you took more time mowing.

Another reason why I don’t recommend mowing fast is the state of the wheels on my machine. They’re pretty wobbly. If I went too fast, the wheels might come off in which case I’d really take a long time to finish mowing the lawn when you factor in the time for taking the mower to the shop for a look see.

When it comes to cars people have had for a long time, saying something like, “I drove the wheels off that thing!” means they had the car for an inordinately long time.

If you take care of your mower you can keep the wheels from falling off. Accordingly, I heartily encourage you to do precisely that. For if you were to do completely the opposite, the wheels might fall off prematurely–most definitely not a sign of someone who has had their lawn mower for any great swath of time.

The onset of cooler weather also signifies the return to less frequent weed whacking.

Once 90-degree temperatures are no more, I set a personal goal of weed whacking only every other time that I mow the lawn.

This is because not only is the grass growing less quickly, but so are the weeds.

But, my reason for striving for an every other lawn mowing frequency interval on the weed whacking front is the preservation of my remaining sense of hearing.

Gas powered weed whackers can be pretty loud. Especially, if like me, lately you’ve taken to not wearing hearing protection. I know, this is pretty horrible. I truly need to start putting in ear plugs again, but so far I’ve not been able to return to wearing them since when I stopped mid-summer or thereabouts.

It can be pretty disorienting for me to use ear plugs. For example, I may be whacking wildly near where the grass and weeds run out and the blacktop begins. It can be dangerous when cars whiz by. My tendency for occasionally being lax about the potential for passing cars to side-swipe me is only exceeded by the adrenaline rush coursing through me when they almost do.

Ah, the joys of summer chores.

Ah, the joys of summer chores no more until next year.

That about sums it up.

Despite bumps, bruises football remains America’s pastime

If it’s not sunny out in your neck of the woods and you’re wondering what to do, there’s something called NFL Football that’s back on television.

That’s right.

And it’s available on a TV near you.

Lots of changes this year and one of the biggest is the leading with your helmet tackle rule that’s already resulted in a player ejection.

Will football survive despite legislating the helmet to helmet hit out of the game?

Of course it will.

Will football survive despite whatever is going on outside of the actual games being played themselves?

Of course it will.

Football is naturally compelling.

We can’t help but watch or know someone who does.

With those kinds of numbers it’s no wonder there’s no forecast for the game going bye-bye anytime soon.

It’s like blogging.

A lot of blogs come and go but the good ones are destined to endure despite the threat posed by podcasts and YouTube vlogs.

The folks behind good products have the wherewithal and ability to constantly evolve what their selling so as to capitalize on what it is that needs to change or be tweaked in order to maintain and grow audience share.

NFL owners and league officials that chose to ignore concussions for decades were finally pressured into acknowledging that head injuries like concussions are real and not something to be kept swept under the rug.

Former players and their family members unrelentingly stayed the course regarding the damage that repeated blows to the head can cause. Their vigilance was largely responsible for the rule changes implemented over leading with the helmet when tackling.

What if it’s sunny out?

Well, I would be remiss if I did not advise you to get out if it’s sunny and not cloudy outside. Good weather in late summer and early fall is to be enjoyed and watching football is not something that should be done on TV–you should be at a game. Or, if you must, find somewhere (if you’re not equipped to do so in your own living situation) to watch a game on a TV set that is situated outside.

I’ve found nachos taste better outdoors.

Actually, I’ve found everything tastes better outdoors.

And since football has surpassed baseball as America’s pastime, if you’re lucky and unless it’s raining outside, you can enjoy both football and nachos outdoors.

Today it was cloudy and rainy in my neck of the woods. So, the football and nachos courtesy of my better half, were enjoyed indoors.

It was 65 degrees today, too, which made the first Sunday games of the year feel quite appropriate with respect to a hint of the cooler weather to come after September has come and gone.

Did I mention that nachos taste better not only outdoors, but when it’s cold outside?

That’s right. Feel free to experiment with my contention on this hot button issue and see for yourselves.

Two minute warning

Comes a time in every game where the two-minute warning arrives.

This is the time when you can grab your favorite beverage, see if there are any chips with cheese on them remaining and rush back to the television set like a running back headed for the end zone.

Or not.

But, while baseball has no clock, football possesses a sense of urgency that makes you pay notice as time ticks to the game’s final moments. Urgency garners excitement for things to come in an environment where time is precious and is in short supply.

That’s why despite all its imperfections, football resembles the crazy thing we call life more closely than any other sport.

And that’s why we continue to watch. Life is football and football is life.

Rounding third and headed for home

The last week of August feels more like the first week of July.

There’s no precursor-to-fall feeling as there isn’t a hint of autumn to be had (other than some of the burnt up leaves on trees falling to the ground).

Yes sir, it feels as if we won’t have a fall at all and it’ll be summer until it becomes winter.

One thing’s for sure, though. While we can’t control the weather, we can control our thoughts surrounding the days as we approach what has traditionally become known as the last weekend of summer.

Even though it’s actually not.

Labor Day weekend is somewhat like New Year’s Eve.

Many of us become introspective.

We think about how fast this year has gone so far and we want to round third base that is Labor Day and head for home that is the holidays. We want to finish the year up strong–whatever that means for each of us.

For some it’s thinking about what we need to do on the job in order to meet whatever goals we might have set at the beginning of the year.

Maybe we think of what adjustments or pushes we need to make to get there.

On the home front, we try to get things in place as we (hopefully) transition from summer to fall.

It isn’t easy getting the most out of each day.

Getting the most we can out of the day means different things for different people, too.

For me, the mindset that once July 4th comes and goes, the rest of the year goes by in the blink of an eye is one I live with like an annual rite of passage.

On Labor Day I want to put on the brakes and just be for a while. I may not get the opportunity but I’m hopefully going in to the weekend with a clean slate.

It was a struggle to reach four blog posts this month. That’s my minimum goal for monthly output here.

And with any luck, this will be auto blasting out to the world on Friday the 31st of August. Notice how I didn’t write Friday, August 31st. Sometimes even the seemingly innocuous insertion of the word “of” can have an effect on whatever it is I write. Sometimes it does not at all, however.

That’s the beauty of doing things and living life without a script.

As one who’s been accused of being a drifter, I can relate to not living with a script.

When you live life without a script you trust that things will work out. You believe that no matter what, you will get by and everything will be alright.

Some have that confused with confidence. Perhaps they’re correct to say my self-confidence sees me through.

But I would argue I have developed self-confidence over a lifetime and at times have had my doubts about various things–some of which you’ve been able to enjoy by reading about them here.

I do always come back to believing the tenet of things working out more or less the way they are intended to. To do otherwise, is to attract never-ending madness for how can one reason about life’s outcomes or fate itself?

I lose myself in sports. The end of summer marks the beginning of the best time for viewing sports all year. During the autumn season we have the harmonic convergence of major sports all having real games that count being played on any given night.

We could be watching the Yankees chase down the Red Sox in the American League East, winning the division and avoiding entering the playoffs as a wild card. Then, the playoffs begin in earnest come October only to coincide with the start of the basketball and hockey seasons.

And I haven’t even mentioned that Football starts right after Labor Day, did I.

How ’bout that. More like barreling around third and streaking for home if you ask me.

Innumerable viewing choices evolve unhappiness quotient

Things are changing around here.

I won’t be getting a Sunday paper anymore.

Newspaper subscription price hikes are just a way for publishers to try and keep something around that is no longer relevant nor popular among the masses.

I remember when I read three newspapers every day growing up in New York; that was the way we got our daily news.

Sure, we watched the news on TV, but aside from some morning shows that sprinkled in news stories when they had to, most of our TV news was viewed in the evenings.

People who worked relied on newspapers to know what was going on and then watched the TV news after they were home at the end of the day.

Radio is another communication medium that is mostly surviving with a dwindling, older demographic.

Entertainment on demand, as the news and most things we demand, happens when we want it to.

We are bombarded with stories at any given time we choose to stream or watch them online.

People are cutting the cord in record numbers and for good reason–cable, satellite and DSL companies are charging too much for their programming.

If you have an Internet connection and a device that can utilize it, you don’t need DirecTV unless you want their exclusive and expensive NFL Sunday Ticket.

Cord cutters who are not going back to cable of any kind any time soon understand that when they committed to leaving the likes of big TV service providers, they did so with the realization they would lack in some of the programming they were paying hundreds of dollars a month for previously.

We’re a nation of watchers and so, to me, like bottled water, it was only a matter of time before we stopped caring about the price only to make it the reason for our abandoning it.

I remember when watching TV was free.

It was a beautiful concept. You saved your hard-earned cash to purchase a television set. And that was it. There was nothing else you had to pay for other than monthly electricity bills the power company sent you.

I know that’s hard to believe for some of the youngsters. But believe you, me, it was truth!

I’ve seen a lot. But people older than me have seen even more.

Speaking of more, I believe that is the issue at the crux of all issues. We’ve been told for a long time now that more is better. Less is not so good.

We always crave more, more, more.

Would you be able to go back to only 30 or 40 channels of TV and be happy?

You’ve got thousands now and the last time I checked by taking informal surveys of people I know, no one is really overall satisfied with their paid television entertainment choices.

I suppose it comes down to perspective.

I always urge young people to travel as often as they can. I suggest it’s good to avoid the touristy places and find destinations that take you completely out of everything that it is you know and think you love.

Having a chance to see how those less fortunate than you are living, is always a humbling experience. You can’t help but appreciate what you have more than ever if you get to experience, or at least see how people who are living day-to-day think about what it is to have a good day.

I made time to read three newspapers as a boy and it made me feel informed about important matters and current events happening around me and throughout the world. Celebrities were confined to the smallish entertainment section and did not comprise the bulk of hard news sections like they do today.

Finding better ways of becoming informed is never a bad thing. And so that’s why it makes sense to abandon an expensive newspaper subscription–especially when the actual size (read thickness) of the paper resembles dental floss–hardly a value or a reason to support “journalism.”

So, watch what you want. More people like to watch video than read. I get it. Moving pictures. They’re an escape.

Except when it’s the news.

We don’t want to watch that.

Saving ol’ Cracky: Why it’s best to perish the thought

I have a chair mat void in my life and it’s getting to me.

The last one I bought was so long ago that I can’t remember any of the details surrounding the purchase.

Oh, I think I may have bought it in an office supply place, but I’m really not sure.

It survived a move across the country and after six years here and at least half that many in the place I lived previously, I came to take its durability for granted.

Recently the mat began developing cracks and small chunks have come apart from it.

The wheels of my office chair began hitting and sinking into the ruts that were the holes of exposed carpet segments under the mat. I periodically had to stop my chair rolling around and pick it up out of the ruts in order to secure spots on the now dwindling good surface areas of the mat.

I started thinking I could use the mat as a metaphor for something. It was once brand new with no signs of ever failing. But fail it did, yet not before delivering a good many years of faithful service.

If I lived alone I probably would have utilized some duct tape at the first signs of cracking. My goal would have been to tape the cracks before they became full-blown pot holes so as to make the mat last a bit longer.

But when your living arrangement is other than just being with yourself, aesthetics and the sensibilities of others must be considered. So, duct tape use, in my case, is out of the question.

By now it dawned on me I would have to break down and see about getting a new chair mat. Probably the last straw was stepping on and cutting my foot slightly where a jagged little pill of a rut clipped me in motivation.

Since the mat had presently crossed over into full-blown safety violation it was now time to hop on Amazon and peruse the myriad of chair mat possibilities that have burst on the scene since my last one.

I try not to read too many reviews but I always end up reading too many reviews. I get exhausted reading reviews as if you practice over-reading reviews you will come away with a mind so fogged as to not be in your right mind to make a coherent purchasing selection.

Too many mats

What I was not prepared for was the sheer quantity of mat choices available–and all with their sundry pros and cons.

This one cracks, so does this one, this one didn’t crack, but it split and ended up completely separating from the mat. You get the picture.

What’s a person to do?

This is precisely the reason Amazon introduced 1-click ordering.

It’s like throwing darts on a world map to decide a vacation destination. You click the 1-click and then bam! You’re done and much like a dart that lands on Detroit in the dart vacay destination game, you’re well on your way to quality rolling time that’s well spent–provided it’s everything ol’ cracky was before it became, well, ol’ cracky.

It’s arriving soon, but not before this one last blog post featuring a bumpy ride to this point.

I’ll keep you posted as time permits.

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