hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Shinzen Friendship Garden photo essay

When visiting the area, the Shinzen Friendship Garden tucked away in Fresno is not to be missed. Peaceful, serene and conducive to meditative states are but a few of the characterizations that come to mind for this zen-like setting. Accordingly, it is my privilege and distinct pleasure to present to our readers one of the rare posts here at hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley featuring almost as many photographs as words.

Every picture tells a story don’t it, indeed. Enjoy.

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‘Searching for Sugar Man’ most definitely not a waste of time

Well, that was a waste of time.

Who can be the judge of time that is wasted? After all, we all waste time to some degree or another.

Sometimes the person who says “that” was a waste of time is including a person involved in the experience they deemed a waste of time. If this is the case, the person(s) involved in the experience were all wasting time with one another doing or not doing whatever it was that was deemed a waste.

We sleep half our lives. Isn’t sleeping a “waste” of time? Sure, we need sleep in order to recharge our bodies. Health nuts and gym rats pore over the amount of sleep they get in order to achieve peak performance in their personal and professional lives. That kind of preoccupation is a waste of time–even more so than the actual sleeping itself. Because it’s not enough to just sleep these days. You have to have quality sleep. Obsession much?

Sometimes reading blogs such as this is a waste of time. I admit it. But, if you’re smart, you’ll read through to completion and surely find it time well spent.

I personally don’t read very many blogs. I can only read so much. I don’t have the time to begin with to be choosy with the reading material I avail myself of. And let’s be clear. I am not catering to any one person, group or audience when it comes to subject matter employed in my writing. That, for me, would be the pinnacle of wasting time.

I used to think meetings were a waste of time. Many times they were and are. But, I can’t seem to eliminate them completely from my life. I’ve been told they’re a necessary evil (whatever that means). If they’re not productive, they’re nothing more than a waste of time. If something is evil to begin with I’d hardly find it necessary.

I like it when I am asked to take a survey after doing something, going somewhere, getting my car fixed, flying in an airplane (as George Carlin used to say, “Let the daredevils get on the plane. I’m going in.”), eating ice cream, buying something in the store, filling my car up, etc. Actually, I don’t like it much at all.

Surveys are a waste of time. But it’ll just take five minutes, right? Wrong. By taking surveys you are participating in the paralysis that is gripping the world regarding decision-making.

Surveys are like interviews. They are conducted mostly by businesses and individuals who without them are unable to accurately predict trends that will help them do business effectively moving forward.

One of the problems with surveys is the limited sample size. Something else resembling surveys and interviews are polls. Remember the commanding lead Hillary had in the polls?

We should have stopped using polls, surveys and interviews right then and there. But, of course, we’re gluttons for punishment and just because we have no replacements for them, we decide to keep using them. Pretty much a huge waste of time all considered.

In retrospect I believe going online with a 33.6K/14.4 Modem was a huge waste of time. I should have been smart enough to just stay off the grid until broadband was common.

Which brings us to something that is not a waste of time no matter how you slice it.

I watched the Oscar-winning documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man” recently. This was most definitely not a waste of time. It was one of the most amazing cinematic experiences I have ever had.

And certainly not for its 3D or movie special effects which there were none of.

Unless, that is, you’re able to consider the magic that is the feel good special effect of discovering an artist (Rodriguez) who remained commercially obscure most of his life until being found “alive” in this country by fans in another. No doubt like me you’ll be glad you did.

Since the movie came out six years ago, though, I must have been wasting time for having not discovered Rodriguez until now. Perhaps I was living under a rock. I don’t know.

But, allow me to disclose one of the best ways not to waste three minutes and 25 seconds by having a listen of “I Think of You” by Rodriguez:

 

The one and done horse race dress up

I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first Kentucky Derby a few years back. It was everything I could have expected and then some for such an historic sporting event.

This year I’m attending the Kentucky Oaks Day celebration at Churchill Downs. It is held the day before the Kentucky Derby and is the fourth highest attended horse race in the United States—after the Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

I’m not much of a gambler, but as at the Derby I was fortunate enough to attend, I will plunk down some of my hard earned money on horse(s) yet to be determined.

Part of the fun, or stress, in my case, and quite possibly for other men attending Oaks and/or Derby days is the wardrobe selection process. I’ve never been a clothes horse (sorry, couldn’t resist), but for galas such as these, you want to do it right.

I opted for a classic pink shirt, blue sports jacket, gray slacks and lightweight, charcoal gray fedora. And may I say it was not easy getting there. Well, it probably was, but choosing attire I wear most likely only once is not something a guy can practice for.

The fact you only get one chance, especially when you order some of your wardrobe online, only adds to the pressure of getting it right come (for me) Oaks Day.

I’m hoping the shirt is the only glitch I have as I just put to bed the online order for a bow tie and fedora.

I had to have my wife measure my head. I know it’s big. If just one person out of a hundred pays me a compliment anytime or place, my head size ends up increasing one whole size, too. Strangest thing.

This would account for the multitude of different hats in my closet ranging from medium to X-L sizes. Really, what other explanation could there be that would justify the variation in size?

Anyway, the hat is scheduled to arrive the day before The Oaks. Good thing I like it when things go down to the wire. Dang, another horse racing reference (I’m enjoying myself here today in case you haven’t noticed).

I have the sports jacket and trousers in tow (not exactly a horse racing reference, but still, if you think about the trailers the horses are transported in…).

The first go ‘round on the pink shirt was an epic fail. It was an online order of course. I selected a slim fit variety of an Alberto VO 5 (not the real designer, name changed to protect the innocent) designed shirt.

I would not characterize myself as broad shouldered but I’m spacious in the chest and my mid section has filled out some over the years.

The last slim fit shirt I purchased was one made by Van Hebarobber (again, not the real shirt company name) and it actually fit perfectly.

pexels-photo-158976.jpegNow, though, fresh on the heels of someone who paid me a compliment by calling me handsome after seeing me dressed up (some) recently, not only did my head swell, but so did my upper body and arms.

The slim fit shirt was not a good fit. It was too tight and the length was too short to keep the shirt tucked in to my slacks every time I bent over to pick a penny off the pavement.

I returned it but not before I gave my better half a fashion show. She gave me her inimitable two thumbs down gesture of disapproval.

I almost flexed, doing my best Lou Ferrigno as the Incredible Bulk, I mean, Hulk, but I was seeking a refund on the shirt, not total destruction of it.

I set out shopping anew online for another pink shirt after sending back Virginia Slim for a refund.

I received the new regular fit shirt in the mail and it couldn’t have fit better. Now, I’m hoping it will survive the “easy wash/dry” experience I’m giving it—gentle cycle all the way as I want the buttons and thread intact after cleaning.

The trousers I already have, so nothing to worry about there.

Same with the sports jacket. Or is it sports coat? Or blazer jacket? Coats sound like they would be heavier and not breathe as well as something called jackets. Now, blazer jacket (or is it blazer for short?) is not on my radar simply due to this air of ambiguity.

Shoes and belt are already accounted for.

The final item that is producing some last minute sweating is my fedora which I just ordered.

I was warming up my gambling feelings as there are no reviews whatsoever for this hat. It was described as black but the pictures most definitely were more on the gray side. To add insult to injury I had to pay $12 extra to have it delivered the day before Oaks.

The least stressful wardrobe work-through was the bow tie.

Again, with the help of my personal wardrobe assistant, I was able to make a color-scheme appropriate choice. I do know how to dress myself, but for special occasions such as these, I like to leave as little as possible to chance.

The bow tie comes one-size fits all. It’s pre-tied, too, (don’t judge), so I won’t have to relive the trauma of watching YouTube videos explaining how to tie a bow tie. I thought I had it down on my dry runs before the Kentucky Derby, but on the day of, it took me a good twenty minutes to get the deed done—including a dastardly finger-numbing bout of carpal tunnel.

If not for the help of my personal wardrobe assistant once more, I would not have made it. I am, however, still emotionally scarred from the self-imposed bow tie tying deadline I endured.

This time, though, my bow tie experience will be much easier (fingers crossed).

If only it wasn’t a one-and-done type of wear affair.

Mythical Worker Bee Hall of Fame serves grinders

The hype machine never ends.

Whether it’s Saquon Barkley or Shohei Ohtani, we have a propensity to anoint current phenoms as once-in-a-lifetime talents before they’ve even completed a season in their respective professional sport.

If you want to be called great, you have to perform at very high levels over long periods of time.

I’ve owned my grindership. I’m not particularly super talented at anything. Like a lot of people I do a lot of things pretty well. To be clear, I said, “pretty well,” and not great.

We do have a need to pass the torch from current greats, as it were, to younger-generation talents. What irks me about it though, is our wanting to do it before any of the rookies have really come into their own in the professional game or sense.

Sometimes injuries cut short the careers of talents like Bo Jackson.

He was undeniably out of this world in two sports—baseball and football, in a relatively small sample size before hip injuries cut short his professional sporting life.

But, while injuries can keep athletes from realizing their full potential, they can still be considered an all-time great if they’ve had at least some career to speak of in the pros.

Gale Sayers is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. His career spanned but from 1965 to 1971. His accomplishments during this period, however, more than justified his selection into the Hall.

pexels-photo-327050.jpegThere is no Worker Bee Hall of Fame.

Workers–whether they’re office, construction, trades, government or working from home–perform tirelessly day in and day out. They’re professionals.

Sadly, there is no hall of fame awaiting them at the end of their working lives.

No enshrinement into the Worker Bee Hall of Fame.

This is mostly because the Worker Bee Hall of Fame doesn’t actually exist.

Imagine being anointed one of the greatest ever on your first day on the job as a data entry clerk.

That’d be ridiculous.

And unlike professional sports, it just doesn’t happen in the working world.

This is why no matter how hyped someone is coming into a position—sporting or otherwise, they still must prove themselves over time to be worthy of the accolades.

Late bloomers often bloom lately on their own.

What I mean by this is that by the time someone like you or I becomes great, there isn’t anyone around that notices that can help get you selected for the Worker Bee Hall of Fame.

They can’t even get you a raise most times, so no way can you expect heady words such as, “He could type for 14 hours at a clip without taking so much as a pee break.”

While impressive, it won’t get you a sniff at a promotion.

So, where does one find their own purpose if they have no shot at the mythical Worker Bee Hall of Fame?

I suppose we just have to have faith, or at the least, be happy in the knowledge that we have done good, and at times exceptional work, over long periods of time. That has to count for something. We helped make production numbers and increased companies’ bottom lines by working through exhaustion and beyond.

The way I’ve always dealt with it is to try and help the rest of my team perform better.

That, along with doing great work over the long haul, is the mark of multi-generational greatness.

I’m personally still swinging for the fences but I just don’t care as much anymore. We’re hidden, disconnected by virtue of our unrecognized, longstanding performance and the fact we’re not the latest thing to come along that’s proven absolutely zilch. I wish it weren’t true, but that’s the world we live in. —Anonymous

Experienced workers like Pentium 4’s still get job done

Don’t be aghast. That was just a headline. Overreact much? Get offended easily? Don’t. Relax and read the story…

Sure, I’m one of those guys. I like to tinker with old computers. Who doesn’t? Well, mostly people who don’t have the time to.

In this case, I had an HP rp5000 POS system (not piece of sh*%#t, but point of sale) that a good friend installed Linux Mint on and bequeathed to me.

I haven’t had much occasion to use it, but since my Windows 10 and Mac boxes have not been behaving well lately, I decided to expand my Linux arsenal.

My daily driver is an external IDE hard drive running Ubuntu Mate attached to an HP Compaq desktop with Core 2 Duo Intel processor. The desktop computer has 4 GB of RAM. The IDE drive is enclosed in a Rosewill case.

One of the cool things about this setup is that it wakes from sleep instantly.

Yes, I mean instantly.

I either shake the mouse or press the space bar on the keyboard and it immediately prompts me for the password to transport me to the desktop for instant access to my applications. I’m on the web in seconds–just like my Chromebook.

This is a system–Ubuntu Mate, running off a USB external hard drive hooked up to a desktop computer. It’s faster than both the Core 2 Duo Windows 10 desktop with 4 GB of ram as well as the 21.5″ iMac Intel Core i5 with 8GB of ram running macOS High Sierra that we have under our roof.

But, while Ubuntu Mate can do no wrong on my unconventional setup in my eyes, I wanted to try writing a post on my newly updated Linux Mint rig.

It features 1 GB of ram and a 120 GB IDE hard drive.

You have to be a certain age to remember IDE drives. These were standard back in the day. Now, SSD are all the rage and rightfully so. But, people are either discarding their old computers or they are collecting dust in closets or store rooms–and unnecessarily so.

Linux is the answer to the question that is, “What do I do with something like a Pentium 4?”

Well, you can either put Ubuntu Mate on it of course, or you can try and run Linux Mint.

Mint is awesome as is Mate. The Pentium 4 processor combined with only 1 GB of ram was my concern.

Sure, in theory and in base system requirements, Mint will run on the Pentium 4. I suspect Mate would run better, though.

With vintage computers, you have to consider the time for installs of this kind to begin with, too.

If you are rushed for time, then projects such as this are really not best initiated.

In the case of my Pentium 4, I already had Linux Mint running. It just hadn’t been updated or even used for quite some time. I wanted to try it to see if it was practical for even something as rudimentary as blogging.

Well, Pentium 4’s can run hot. They always were capable of higher temperatures. But this is a 2 GHz processor. The machine originally ran Windows XP which is nothing but a security liability these days (although it was a rapid performer on a box of these specifications back in the day).

The short answer is that I’m typing fine. I’m navigating fine. And performance is on a par with both Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra for these tasks.

It is not as fast as Ubuntu Mate on the Core 2 Duo, 1.86 GHz Intel processor with 4 GB ram. The hardware is not as capable with only the Pentium 4 2 GHz processor and 1 GB of ram.

That said, it’s getting the job done as I round the turn on the final 1/4 mile of this post.

I get hot running on days when it’s hot outside. I wear less so I don’t get as hot. I cleared off the text book on the top of the side vents of the P4 so it could breathe easier and it’s not letting me down.

I think seniors tend to be discounted like old computers but they shouldn’t. Seniors just need to figure out a way to repurpose themselves in order to remain viable and productive.

They also need a helping hand from hiring chiefs.

Machines are not human beings. Machines are usurped by more powerful machines. Human beings do not similarly scale; they evolve, adapt and realize different missions as they age.

The experience factor plays into how large a role humans assume as they age. Unlike vintage computers that require human intervention for the opportunity to be utilized, human beings can chart their own course–provided the powers that be give them half a chance.

Additionally, while being exponentially less expensive, it also turns the negative that is traditional aging out of the work force, into the positive that is experienced workers confidently completing job assignments well into later life.

 

Forget ARM: Just send in Mac clones

Apple’s rumored plan to move away from Intel processors in its Macs did not light up the comments section on LinkedIn like I thought it might.

That’s because the Mac has already lost so much relevance.

Sure, they’re still pretty to look at. But, for what you get, they’re what they’ve always been–overpriced and underpowered.

Moving to inhouse manufactured ARM chips doesn’t change any of that.

Perception of Apple’s hardware lineup of Macs will remain what it is whether or not they stay with Intel.

It’s easy to assume control is largely the reason behind any eventual shift in processor for its iconic desktop computers.

But, I still yawn at the prospect.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’d really love for Apple to make the Mac matter again.

I just don’t think they have it in them to get there.

Plus, who knows what the future will hold for desktop computers in general.

Apple can try to shape what that market looks like beginning in 2020 or whenever they’re supposed to get the new Macs featuring ARM chips into the fold.

But, as technology is moving so fast, I doubt the Mac will be able to make a comeback any more than newspapers will by that time.

Back in the day the Mac was known for revolutionizing the desktop publishing world. Creative types flocked to use them. Newspapers across the country turned their composition departments into Mac-outfitted meccas of computing. Aldus PageMaker, Quark Xpress et al were the software packages that ran first and foremost on the Mac.

These programs were always better on Mac until Windows PCs caught and passed Macs while they floundered on underpowered PowerPC chips by IBM and Motorola.

Sure, we Apple fanboys would tout the Mac’s ease of use and also the leap of faith belief that a 500 MHz PowerPC processor was the equivalent of a 1 GHz Pentium 4 by Intel.

We were living a lie that became harder to live with once Adobe made PC versions of its software that blew by their Mac counterparts stuck in the slow lane.

Send in the clones

Before Steve Jobs came back to Apple, there was a brief experiment with cloning undertaken by the Cupertino giant.

Names like Power Computing, Umax and Motorola Starmax all featured Mac clones during the period Apple was licensing its operating system. That was a period of Mac and Mac clone popularity and resurgence desperately needed at a time Apple was mired in a serious fiscal funk.

I never got my hands on a Mac clone during that time. And once Jobs returned, he effectively killed the clone–leading Apple back to a renaissance of sorts featuring fruit-colored, egg-shaped iMacs that remained driven by underpowered PowerPC chips.

Matters weren’t helped by Apple’s propensity to equip its Macs with the bare essential amount of RAM to run its less-than-nimble OS X.

PowerPC take two or Hackintosh death by clone?

All of the rumored talk of Apple abandoning Intel to begin producing its own chips for insertion into future Macs has me thinking they’re missing the mark again.

People love macOS more than they love the Mac itself. Just Google “hackintosh” if you don’t think so.

People don’t want a Mac. They just want the Mac’s operating system to be able to run legally on PC hardware driven by Intel processors.

Sure, occasionally, and in the course of Apple history, a company or two has decided to make its version of a Hackintosh. They initially experienced a run of success. The promise of cheap, facsimile Macs makes people crazed. And, unfortunately they don’t come to their senses until Apple’s legal department makes them.

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think Apple using its own chips is going to create large buzz around Macs again.

Desktop computers are becoming more and more irrelevant (except to people like me who won’t ever use a tablet other than when they’re on the road). There will always be a place in the heart for desktop Macs and PCs for types like me.

I suppose it has something to do with what I learned on back in the day.

It also has to do with the familiarity of the operating system itself. Windows has remained Windows over the years. And the macOS, while it’s changed more dramatically than Windows ever has, is still familiar.

That is what I want. But Apple never really cared about what I desired.

I never saved the funds for a new Mac other than in 1995, when I plunked down $2,000 (well, $1,995 at Best Buy) for the crippled CPU that was the Mac Performa 5215CD. This was a really bad computer and anything but a “performer.” But, it helped incite my strange love and fascination for optimizing hardware and software to their greatest capacities.

So, Apple now wants me to give it a couple of years while it performs processor transplant surgery on its Mac line. I hope the Mac is venerable enough to survive this change.

While change is never easy, Apple risks losing sight of the forest for the trees.

I don’t want or need overpriced Macs with underpowered Apple processors.

To the contrary, what I and countless others would love to be able to do is not build a hackintosh, but to be able to buy a PC desktop that runs the macOS legally.

I know macOS is pretty bloated these days. But still. It’s the OS, damn it, and not the processor or box.

Let the OS be the crown jewel it once was. License it. People would pay a little more to buy generic, ugly boxes running macOS. It’d work.

And everyone–including Apple itself, would end up realizing value in the process.

The Internet Perils of Pauline

We have Internet privacy issues and it’s no surprise.

Except to the media who would have you believe what a problem it suddenly all is.

Like a lot of things that have been bad for a while, however, the real surprise is why suddenly it’s contemporary to be upset about it.

Why do we look to the media to whip us into a frenzy about things like social media privacy issues, security breaches and data mining? We weren’t at all concerned when we first signed up for Facebook.

Again, it’s not something that just happened last week.

Facebook didn’t invent data mining. They just perfected it. And it was far easier than it should have been because we literally entrusted them with our lives.

We surrendered our privacy upon creating “free” social media accounts and now we feign outrage over it because of the loss of sensitive data.

I’m going to be spending less time on Facebook now. Either that, or I’m seriously closing my Facebook account once and for all.

Yeah, right.

In addition to creating false outrage, the media and social media networks have  generated an unprecedented level of apathy. This was accomplished by delivering the elusive, addictive,  “Like” to each and every one of us.

The “like” is pure genius and  evidence of the innocent nature of social media, right? I mean, social media is not meant to have negative connotations or else there’d be a “dislike” button, you know what I mean?

Consequently, the outrage over privacy issues rings hollow compared to the reality that is the majority who just don’t care.

So, you can’t fool me.

As long as we get our attention fix, we’ll keep at it. We’re not disconnecting or abandoning the grid. Hardly. We crave attention to our cores. And we use the “like”, the genius spawn of social media’s founding fathers and mothers, to get it.

Shouldn’t individuals responsible for personal information theft be punished?

We don’t care, or at least we didn’t care until recently, how much of our personal information was culled by social media.

“I don’t have anything to hide. So, I’m not worried what information they get.”

This was the mantra for operating within the walled gardens of places like Facebook.

I never could argue or even debate in the least with someone of this mindset. When people make statements that obscure reasonable points entirely, there really is no merit to discussing both sides of a given topic.

For me, I still don’t get the sudden hysteria over social media’s pitfalls–especially considering that they’ve always been there.

What were we thinking would happen down the road as social media networks are well into their second decades of questionable practice? Did we really believe we could post huge chunks of our personal lives online that included documents formerly residing in locked file cabinets?

We unwittingly posted anything and everything online without giving thought to consequences. Social media are fun, right? They have our backs, man. Our privacy settings were locked down, were they not?

After all, only our “Friends” could see this information. The ones who had their settings on “Public” were the ones really flirting with disaster. We were in “private” Facebook groups that no one could be in without an invitation, so we should have been safe. Surely anything we did, posted or said in these places was only viewed by people in the group, right?

Outrage and false bravado typically arise when people have no clue as to how to solve a problem.

When I was a manager I enjoyed coming across resumes where people listed “problem solver” as one of their soft skills.

Soft skills, hard skills, branding and human capital.

These are terms that arose seemingly from the not-so-cement-like foundations of social media.

The global economy delivers a world where people thirst to be told how to live to avoid dangers like invasions of privacy.

Being on Facebook was living. Literally everyone was doing it. It wasn’t supposed to go wrong. It wasn’t supposed to create problems we can’t solve.

Maybe I should seriously consider getting off it.

Nah, dude said he was sorry. Everyone deserves a second chance.

How failure is assured when you stay the same

Still the same may be a flattering way to describe someone you haven’t seen in 20 years.

But while changing something can be difficult, remaining the same is most certainly a surefire way to achieve disaster in all things personal and business.

Sure, it’s only human to want to feel safe by doing something a certain way that has been successful in the past.

If you want to truly live long and prosper, however, you’d better be prepared to make regular and continual adjustments throughout your personal and business life.

Common sense, right?

Not really.

This is because while people think they know what this means, they continue to do the same thing they’ve always done–demonstrating an obvious lack of common sense when they choose this tack.

Why is change so difficult?

Because of the factor that is the unknown.

People are afraid of the unknown and I get that. We like the familiar. That is, until we don’t.

Sometimes becoming bored with the familiar leads to our taking a calculated risk.

That is the kind of change we should all attempt before we become too static.

Staying the same means acceptance of the eventuality of becoming mediocre–both in our personal as well as business lives.

Someone once told me if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This individual had a nice business, but eventually it underwent a death spiral of ineptitude resulting from a disdain for adopting new technology in favor of the way they had always approached day-to-day business activities.

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Another person once told me if it ain’t broke, break it!

This should have been a “Eureka” moment for me at the time, but it was not.

At that time I was firmly in the, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp. I enjoyed the familiar, even acknowledged it was becoming boring, but saw no need to change basic life philosophy at the time. I was doing alright, wasn’t I?

Well, yes, I was overall. But, there was no planned growth on the horizon in either my personal or professional lives. I didn’t think that fear of change was holding me back until many years later.

Did the passage of time cause regrets concerning all of this?

Not really. Why? Because I always had enough, and never was troubled for either work or companionship. I always had a job and I always had a companion. Yes, sometimes the companion was an animal, but that’s beside the point of this story.

What I needed to get over was my fear of change. My life was set up in comfortable fashion. I had the basics of life, but I started to get bored.

I used to say people who outwardly exclaimed, “I’m bored!” were actually boring people themselves. And now my fear of change had resulted in my own sense of boredom with myself. How ironic is that?

It’s like mixing tenses when you write. Professional writers always counsel against it. But, it’s my blog and like my parties, I can cry, I mean, change, if I want to.

The change for me personally that I have undertaken presently, and portends further change in my professional life, is the moving of hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley from WordPress to a self-hosted blog.

My blog had become too static. While everything was so automated that I could just feel free to write, the lack of control over everything else stunted the development of the blog as well as my writing.

I don’t suspect laziness was as much to blame for my unwillingness to change as was complacency. I didn’t want to do all the work that was involved. I bemoaned not setting the blog up as self-hosted in the first place. How could I drive myself to make the transition now without ending curled up in a ball on the cold, basement floor?

But now it’s a reality. I can’t believe it. It’s scary in that I don’t have the protection of limited options imposed by an administrator. I am now the administrator as well as the developer with all the prospect for trouble that lies ahead therein.

I do call all the shots. It’s thrilling and frightening simultaneously. But, I am the one who decides if adopting a new blogging feature or look for the site should be undertaken. I have final say.

I own it.

And that makes the continued journey more satisfying.

Thanks for being there with me.

Spring training for writers

I’m getting into baseball’s spring training season for reasons largely other than baseball.

I’m imagining what it would have been like if I could have had spring training for some of the jobs I’ve had.

Baseball’s spring training is done in warm places like Arizona and south Florida.

I’ve lived in places that had actual winter weather so the appeal of 4-6 weeks in warm environs is real.

Spring training baseball games are an opportunity for seasoned players to work out the kinks while affording younger players a chance to showcase their skillsets. It’s also a time when baseball managers are typically as boring as Bill Belichick when it comes to in-game interviews.

“What happened there, skip?”

“I’m not going to get into that right now, let’s just leave it at that.”

“Back to you, Jim!”

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If I was sitting under a palm tree during my own version of spring training and shaking off the winter writing rust, I’d like to think my agent-posing-as-manager would be more forthcoming regarding my progress.

“Where do you think Bob is right now in the process, Al?”

“Well, Bob is obviously feeling his way through word flows right now, Jim. He’s coming along just fine, though. I really believe he’ll be ready to go on opening day.”

For sure!

I think my spring training would help me hone the new verbs I’ve been working on since I last wrote a week ago.

Additionally, I believe the camaraderie of working alongside other writers while we pound the keys on our chromebooks during morning stretching exercises, would be highly beneficial.

Fans

Without fans, there would be no baseball. So, I think it would be only fair that if we did not have writing and blogging fans, there would be no bloggers and writers. Spring training for writers should feature attendance by fans. It should be worked out.

How could you engage fans?

I would suggest broadcasting the screens of the individual writers on a jumbotron live in a south Florida parking lot to an audience of fans. The attendees of the spring training writing “games” could see how the writers shape and hone their digital masterpieces. Fans would have a chance to cheer correct usage of adverbs and bear eyewitness to the home runs of writing: the crafting of the headline.

A good headline clears the bases so to speak. It can also make all the difference in whether or not a person transitions from seeing the headline to reading the story. Now if you ask me, that’s really something worth cheering.

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Baseball is very statistic driven. Stats are part of baseball’s appeal and lore.

While some bloggers are prolific and produce pieces daily, most are on a less busy schedule. I know I am.

If you are already writing every day, I would not think that spring training would be for you.

Spring training is for writers like me who produce columns on roughly a weekly basis.

There are times when I need to write every day for weeks on end. Spring training would give me some “doubleheader” scenarios where I’d have to write two stories in a row. This would enable me to build my endurance and confidence for being able to write effectively and regularly. Fans would enjoy watching me cuss as I felt deadlines approaching, too.

Until there is actually spring training for writers I will continue to just enjoy spring training for baseball players.

While some would say writers who cover spring training baseball games are already engaging in a writing spring training of their own, I for one, will dream of the day when the games are about the writers and not the baseball players.

After all, some writers “play” in upwards of 365 “games” a year.

Where is the spring training for them?

The breaking point for good enough?

When did good enough become good enough?

I believe settling for less than really good software should not be commonplace. Nor a sign of the times.

But it is.

I also believe this is one area artificial intelligence and augmented reality can be of assistance.

Good enough seems so lacking, not to mention indifferent, mediocre.

pexels-photo-102127.jpegSoftware is not paint.

“How’s the ceiling look, Bob?”

“Great! Shall we call it done?”

“Sure, why not. Looks good enough to me.”

Understanding nothing is perfect does not prevent our striving for perfection.

Artists try to make the perfect creation–whether it’s a guitarist figuring out the best solo for a song or a sculptor molding clay until its form takes on a life of its own–history dictates man perform to the highest levels possible.

Complexity is a buzz word. It’s used to explain away everything from why cancer is still not cured to how come Apple releases operating systems not yet ready for prime time. I get that it’s not the original Macintosh and current day iMac operating systems require gazillions of lines of code just to open a file (without rendering another application you’d like to use alongside it completely paralyzed).

Consider the possibility that now the human race is at a breaking point with respect to quality control in all fields technical.

Have we reached the point of diminishing returns for software engineers regarding coding? Have humans taken it as far as reasonably can be expected? I would suggest that we now have.

Must consumers and businesses alike accept the fact that new versions of software are always buggy?

Wait.

You say they and we, have already been the beta testers for the Microsofts and Googles of the world. And all we have to show for it are increased invasions of privacy and breaches of our identities.

The tired cliché “the genie is out of the bottle” does nothing to help solve the problem.

We already have enough words that describe our inability to troubleshoot bugs effectively.

Maybe my expectations are too great.

Why should I expect the MLB.TV app to work on my Samsung Smart TV just as well as it does on a Roku Express hooked up to the same TV? Seems the Smart TV app for MLB.TV was less smart than a streaming device at bringing me my baseball for this season.

As someone who understands a fool and his money are soon parted, I always recommend value-oriented solutions; if at first you don’t succeed, try something less expensive to see if that might work.

pexels-photo-239898.jpegIf complexity is at the root of this quandary, then possibly good enough can actually be a positive characterization for software and hardware integration–provided simplicity, or a return to it, is the goal.

I could have gotten a new edition Roku that featured voice activated commands, but I don’t like talking out loud unless it’s either to myself or another person.

Features I don’t want tack on needless layers of complexity. It’s just more stuff that can go wrong. Why would I want that?

I’ve worked for corporations that roll out new, proprietary versions of their business applications at the least opportune time. Visualize an accounting firm releasing new bookkeeping software in the middle of tax season because it’s a “necessary upgrade that addresses critical flaws.”

Sometimes it was just the spell check program that needed fixing.

But, sometimes an update seemingly as simple as that would create issues in the printing component functions of the system.

One step forward, two steps back.

Fix one thing. Break two others in the process.

Still, we humans have good intentions. It’s the vicious, unmanageable cycle with respect to quality outcomes, that is holding us back.

Without possessing the ability to return to simplicity and things that just work, perhaps it’s time to concede we’ve taken our abilities in certain areas just about as far as they can go.

Send in the relief pitcher, HAL.

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