Month: September 2016

Three Things Thursday – 09/08/2016

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Inspired by Nerd in the Brain

Bring the happy!

Facebook Memories

ttt_dinosaur

My wife posted a picture from her memory feed the other day that I had forgotten about.  This is my daughter dressed up in a Dinosaur costume that she wore around the house until the thing fell apart one year.  She is 4 in this picture I think.  This one picture totally made my day yesterday!  I’m still opposed to Facebook and what it stands for, but if I don’t end up deleting my account, I’ll decrease my Friends list to just immediate family and close friends (all people I see regularly in real life).

Upcycling

upcycleddresser

We had an old dresser in the garage that I had desperately wanted to throw away.  My wife refused and said she wanted to make something she saw on Pinterest.  I hounded her for weeks until she finally got around to doing it because if I didn’t, I’d be posting about it this time next year about the dresser that wasn’t thrown away.  As you can see, she did an awesome job turning it into a backpack nook and shoe repository (so I’m not tripping over them when I walk in).  Good example of an upcycle.

Powerhouse Project Manager

livingroom_before
Before, in all its tan and wood chair rail glory.  Note that the room where you’de expect chair rail to be, the Dining Room, is strangely absent of chair rail.
livingroom_after
After (ignore the Dining Room)

Again, my wife, the powerhouse she is, has transformed our Living Room in our new house.  It was absolutely horrible when we first moved in (before) and now is something that I enjoy walking into every day (after).  I was done with tan/brown/red/orange color schemes and wanted to go with more of a white/grey/blue color scheme.  The walls are light grey and the back wall is a dark blue.  A blue as close to the Dr. Who TARDIS blue that I could find at Lowes.  I think it was a good choice.  We still have the Dining Room (background) and the Kitchen to complete.

Cutting the cord, 4 months on

It’s been four months now that I decided to cut the cable cord and save some money on my path to minimalism.  Cable television, although convenient, was riddled with commercials and I really only watched about 10 channels out of the 270-ish available to me.  Having a DVR to record up to 6 shows at a time quickly became unmanagable in my limited amout of time to watch television.  I found I would get into a show run, get a few hours one random weekend and binge through 5 or 6 shows in one shot.  Often I would run out of room quicker than I could watch the shows and end up deleting entire series because I wasn’t in the mood to start them (at one point I was interested to watch it).

My previous setup:

  • 6 channel HD DVR system
  • 2 stream boxes (from DVR to television)
  • 75Mbps cable Internet
  • Monthly bill = $180-ish/month

My current setup:

  • 1 Roku streaming stick
  • 1 Roku 2 set-top box
  • Hulu subscription
  • Netflix subscription
  • SlingTV (but I will most likley cancel this, not the best service yet)
  • Monthly bill = $102/month (SlingTV adds $20/month)

It took some time to get used to the fact that you couldn’t just turn on the tv to a random channel like HGTV for background noise.  Paying for streaming services has a sort of obligation to pay attention, or else just not watch anything at all.  I started putting music on in the background instead (like Pandora or Amazon Music) that didn’t require any special subscriptions and I could access via Roku.  My wife is complaining that she misses watching the news, but I remind her all the time that the news is depressing and is filtered.  If she read the news like I did, I doubt she would continue after a few days.  My personal preference is that the news not be moderated or censored and unfortunately American “news” is both.

In my honest opinion, I am liking the fact that I’m saving almost $80/month and quite possibly more as the HD DVR did not turn off, ever.  It ran all the time and was consistently doing something judging by the humming of the hard drive and various components inside the box.  What I do really like the most is that I can sit down anytime, regardless of the time of day, and watch something specific and without commercials for the most part.  Some of the free streaming channels still have commercials, but they’re front ended and not during the actual show.  Easily glazed over until your show comes on.  I also have access to a lot of content via the streaming services that normally isn’t on television, although some of it isn’t that good in some cases.  Netflix in particular likes to put on movies that were so bad they are classified as “made for streaming service” and never actually publically released.

If you like saving money (other than Comcast subscribers) and can get used to not having all your content when it’s immediately available, its worth experiementing with cutting the cable cord.  Some cable companies are getting smart to the idea, espcially bundling companies, and have made Internet only service $10-15 cheaper than the bundle with Internet and cable television.  My company thankfully hasn’t done that yet.  There is an odd sense of freedom knowing that I’m not subscribing to the system of moderated and filtered content.  What do you have to lose by trying?

You’ve been unfriended

I just got a nasty-gram email from someone who I had been “friends” with on Facebook and chose to unfriend for various reasons. We were never really anything more than acquaintances at best and it was years ago. This “friend” was a leftover of my initial creation of a Facebook account where you connected with every damn person they recommended to you because it was “cool” to have connected with someone you had lost contact with in real life. Well, in most cases, the real life reason you lost contact with them, regardless of who it was that initiated it, will always creep into your Facebook life. It’s like a big fat smack on the back of your head reminding you WHY they were no longer in your life.

This email I received, was quite negative and accusatory with various perceived reasons as to why I had unfriended them instead of reaching out first. Did you hear that? I just rolled my eyes. The stones they had for assuming that my Facebook friendship with them was sacred and my unfriending them was a GodFather level disrespectful click of a button. I read the entire email to the end, all the while getting more and more angry at their blatant self-centeredness. As if my life is now less meaningful without me seeing the multiple posts every day of really ignorant viewpoints on some really touchy topics in the news lately. The act that caused me to unfriend them was a clearly misinformed response to a post I made in support of a third-party candidate for President where they implied that I was un-American for choosing to not vote Republican or Democrat. Feel free to laugh in surprise, I just did.

My relationship with social media has been consistently tepid. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are all mechanisms that remove the physical contact from socialization. Two people can sit next to each other texting on some random service without actually saying a word or making any eye contact with each other. We have relationships with the screen, using eye contact and our voices is now out of style apparently. Studies have been conducted that show our brains operate in a completely different pattern when texting then they do when physically interacting with another person. Here are just a few of the articles I’ve read after doing a quick search on Google:

Texting May Require Young Brains
Is Texting Changing Our Brains?
The Truth About Texting and Talking While Driving
Texting while driving might derail your brain’s ‘autopilot’ (Video)

All of this is related to the explosion of social media. An entirely new dynamic has been created where we’re as offended by someone unfriending or unfollowing us online as we are if they were to slap us for saying something inappropriate. I’m more of an “if I can say it to your face, I can say it on social media”. I value intelligence and thoughtful conversation with other people and I respect that you can have a different opinion than my own. What I will not respect is a misguided or negative comment that is based ONLY on what has been obtained from social media. The comment made to my post about a third-party candidate was quickly researched with a simple Internet search and they were obviously misinformed on their the point they made. Several responses after their comment proved my point.

In the end, after much thought, I chose to respond to their email with this reply:

I’m sorry you feel this way, however I value my time and choose to spend it with/on intelligent people who can respect my point of view even if it differs from their own. There was nothing constructive about your implication that I’m un-American for deciding that neither Democrat or Republican represents my point of view or stand on the issues facing our country. In exercising my right to choose my candidate through my constitutional right to vote, I’m very much an American, regardless of that candidate being a third-party. I pity your narrow view of the world and the fact that you have been lured into the brainwashing our current leaders have been perpetuating for decades. I’ve had my eyes opened and a third party candidate is our best chance of fixing what is currently a game of the rich and elite. This wasn’t the sole reason I unfriended you, this was only the most recent act that caused me to evaluate why we were friends on Facebook.

In fact, this has caused me to evaluate all my current Facebook friends and a clean up is well overdue at this point. Facebook is the only account I actively use on social media by the way. Fleeting moments with Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like quickly lost my interest.

Three Things Thursday – 9/1/2016

three-things-thursday-badge

Inspired by Nerd in the Brain

Bring the happy!

Minimalist Office

MinimalistOffice

I’m proud of my office space at home being minimalist and only what I truly need in my office.  It’s not cluttered with make-up (wife sells Mary Kay), piles of clothes (bedroom closet), or random stuff that may or may not belong to someone in the house.  It’s a place I can go on hard days to read WordPress Discover and find some like minded blogs to follow.

Daughters Play Area

ChloePlayArea

This is what I have to walk past when going to my office.  You probably think this is a disaster based on the display of stuff, but actually, this is quite the feat from the daughter as there is approximately 50% less stuff here.  I’m impressed with her wanting to declutter so that her area isn’t the complete opposite of my office.  I am pushing her to really really think about what she holds onto and truly only keep what she needs rather than thinking about the “what if” when deciding to throw something out.

Your Door Hurts My Eyes

yellowdoor

Yes, my wife painted our front door a bright yellow.  I should have taken the picture with a hot dog in the frame with the caption “Have any mustard?”  Yes, I chuckled to myself thinking about that.  I have to admit though I kind of like the bold color choice.  I saw some of the other contenders and wasn’t in love with really anything.  I did nix the bermuda blue/green color she originally had as I just didn’t feel it.  I can handle seeing yellow every day when walking in from work.