Have a new year….

I wrote this post a few days ago and scheduled it. I’ll most likely be at a party with friends I’d rather not see and do things I would prefer not to do. Any literary motivation would be sufficiently killed if I had sat down and published this on the day it actually was scheduled to post. That being said, I’ve reflected quite a bit on 2016 and the year that seemed to drag slower and slower the farther into it we got. There’s way too much to review in a post, and if I did review everything that impacted me, I would be writing this well into 2017 and probably never actually publish because it would have become too burdensome to proof it.

There were three things that really had an impact to the year that history will most likely judge harshly in the coming decades. Rather, three things that had an impact with me personally. Consider this a top three-year in review for w1nt3l. We all have our own top three, I’m sure, we might even share some, but I am so happy that this year is almost gone and really really hope that it doesn’t carry residuals into 2017. Well, here we go.

Windows 10 for Mobile, titanic shaft to loyal fans

My archives are littered with Windows 10 for Mobile (formerly Windows Phone) going back several years. I was a huge fan of Windows Phone (WP) and had three mobile devices that ran various versions of the mobile operating system. What I failed to realize with my last device is that HTC was going down the same path as Nokia and Blackberry getting complacent that they had their act together and no one could possibly take the top spot. Well, they were wrong, and HTC is in a bad situation right now losing ground to Samsung and Apple. A little known device that ran Windows Phone 8.1 failed to get upgraded by HTC to Windows 10 for Mobile. Multiple excuses were given as to why, there was even some finger-pointing between HTC and Microsoft, but in the end, it came down to the fact that hardly anyone actually purchased one making the user base statistically miniscule compared to the Android version of the same hardware. Windows 10 for Mobile was now a fail whale in my book and I decided to never own another device again. I switched to a cheap-o Android phone that I get frustrated with every time I pick it up; daily reboots, slow, locks up, apps crash, etc. Pure Android is awesome, it starts to suck hard as soon as a manufacturer thinks it can improve it, hence, the previous sentence rings true. 2016 was the death of Windows Mobile in my opinion.

Wasn’t the year of the third-party

I wrote off the Democrats months ago. I was never a Republican. This was the year I went independent and supported a third-party candidate for President. Despite Jill Stein having a really good platform and some ingenious ideas to help fix things, she never captured a lot of support from anywhere in the country. Gary Johnson had a real chance of at least getting to 5% of the popular vote to have a third-party receive national recognition, but one gaffe after another blew all the steam out of his sails. In an election where there was negative news on both Trump and Clinton, unfavorability for both Trump and Clinton and poor performances in debates from Trump and Clinton I would have thought that Americans would have sought an alternative. That was not the case, as Clinton-haters voted from Trump and Trump-haters voted for Clinton. I’m also convinced that a lot of people just didn’t vote because they didn’t like either of them. 2016 was not the year of the third-party candidate unfortunately.

War and terrorism

No one likes any of this. Show me a war or terrorist attack that actually had any positive impact. I made a comment on a post a few weeks back that listed the number of people who died in conflicts from the Civil War to the Vietnam War; ended up being hundreds of millions. Did we really need to let things get that far? Perhaps. Some conflict is just unavoidable when no one on either side is using so much energy for their mouth that they be come deaf and blind. I’m sorry, call me an apologist if you wish, but *I* think there is always a better way that doesn’t involve weapons, death or destruction. In recent weeks, I’ve discovered the true meaning behind “the pen is mightier than the sword” or a more modern version, “the keyboard is mightier than the AR15.” I’d ask when we lost the ability to listen and reason, but I don’t believe we ever had either of those mastered. I’ve chosen to try to make a difference, one person at a time, one reader at a time, until the knowledge pay-it-forward effect is perpetual. 2016 was not the year we chose something other than war.

Have a New Year

I didn’t mean for this to be a downer, but that is what it became. Blame 2016 for being such a year of suck that we’re all better off to have it in the rear-view mirror. The problem is that 2017 looks like a road under construction that is going to continue tearing at the under carriage of the United States and the rest of the world. Buckle your seatbelts, we’re in for some chop.

Weekend “Would You Rather?” 11

After playing an interesting round of “Would You Rather?” with the family, I thought it would be fun to get into the game of a weekly blog post.  Feel free to join in on your own blog and be sure to give an answer to the question of the week.

**I will keep these questions rated G**


wouldyourather_logo

Would you rather find true love

OR

Find $1,000,000,000 and be alone?


Be sure to leave your answer (and justification) in the comments!

Learning journey for facts and truth

I’ve spent most of my life with the belief that I understood the world around me. A belief that our newspapers and television news stations delivered information that was worthy of us to know and wouldn’t alter or change the details to serve other motives or purposes. Several months ago I came across an article on a fringe news site (it was fringe to me at the time) that put serious doubt into my mind about the validity of the news that I had been convinced was truthful. My interest in the possibility that things were not as they seemed was ignited and I started on a learning journey that has helped me expose a lot of the misinformation I had previously thought was the truth. Call it what you will; fake news, misinformation, semi-truthful, etc., it wasn’t the whole story and I was starting to see the holes.

The path to learning started, for me, when I was opened to an alternative idea that questioned my current sources of news and information. No longer did I see what was being presented to me as the whole truth, further pushing me to find the details, information, and facts that I now desperately wanted to learn. Around this time I had started seeing posts from several people I followed that were having the same type of awakening of the mainstream media being not quite what they portrayed themselves to be. I decided to reach out, away from WordPress, to learn where they were at and sort of compare notes. I’m glad that I did, because what they were able to steer me towards helped accelerate my learning and I quickly became obsessed with the new sources of information presented to me. Each article that I consumed opened my mind a little more and pushed me to better understand what was going on around me that had been hidden from me by the mainstream media.

There have been missteps, incorrect conclusions drawn, discovery that a good source was actually biased and of course, most news agencies tracked back to one of 5 or 6 large corporations. The hardest part of seeking out facts, without bias or lean, has been finding sources that demonstrate they dont’ have bias or lean. Unfortunately, the truth is that every news source, regardless of independent or mainstream, has a little bias or lean depending on the authors and readers. I had to update my approach to find sources that were predominantly in the middle, or moderate, that reported with equal bias to both the left and the right depending on the story being reported. To date individual bloggers have been the greatest source of facts as there is an inclination of authors to support their opinions with the sources that led them to their conclusions. In Saner Thought, The Ripening Wanderer, Learning to Speak Politics, R.R. Wolfgang; all are passionate about their own views and will support them with their own sources. There are many more, and to those that I’ve had deep exchanges of comments with that aren’t included, I’m updating my blogroll over this coming weekend.

I don’t always get it right. Some of the conclusions I come to are off base, but not because I don’t understand or am blind to the actual facts or truth. Some of my conclusions are based on experience, of which, I don’t have a lot to draw from within my new reality. I’ve been privileged to have several followers, who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, leave comments that help me understand where I wasn’t quite right while at the same time offer an alternative. Helpful and intuitive comments that make me look forward to seeing orange dot in my WordPress application or get a ding on my mobile phone. Rarely do I get any negativity that prompts me to trash a reply, in fact, I’ve only had two in the 5 years I’ve had this particular blog. From what I understand, that is rare and uncommon, however with only 100-ish followers between WordPress and Twitter, it’s plausible.

Undoing 30 or so years of filtered news will take some time and I’m certain that I will continue to not get it right all the time. I’m hopeful that there are others going through the same type of learning journey that I’m on right now and thankful that the people I’ve come to admire online share my open-mindedness. I will freely admit when I’m wrong, and as demonstrated already, I’ve managed to get it right and offered an alternative to someone else that allowed them to change their own minds. This is an interesting community on WordPress, so many different types of people who, if in real life, I would probably not have ever connected with. I can honestly say to my family and friends that I have met people (online) that live all over the world and connected through words. My learning of the world around me will continue, and as such, I hope others will join me as we all find our own truth.

Three Things Thursday – 12/29/2016

three-things-badge

Inspired by Ms. Emily’s Home for Full-Grown Nerds

Bring the happy!

This weeks TTT is all about the future.  I’m skeptically optimistic about 2017 hoping that a few things will change for the better and not get any worse.  There are a lot of topics I have lined up for next year as I find a more regular cadence of blog posts as I’ve been a bit carried away the last few months due to the election.

Happy New Year (early)

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An early wish for a Happy New Year.  May it bestow on you good luck and prosperity for you and your family.

Green Cities

tianjin-eco-city-5
This isn’t an Austrian design, it’s actually Chinese.
green
This is an Austrian design for a city in Dubai.

This is one of my newest interests after having seen several documentaries on the subject.  Our future will be determined by us finally admitting that global climate change is real, we need real technological advancements into alternative energy/fuels and we start reversing the damage already done.  Making our cities green in every way possible is a really good start and not difficult to retro-fit into our current infrastructure.  We should take some direction from Austria on how to change our approach to energy saving and environmentally friendly architecture.

El Camino SS

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I will own thee and I shall call you “Sexy”

Seriously, how bad ass is this car?  I can’t find anything concrete that Chevrolet will actually put this car out next year, but wow, is it beautiful.  I have not owned a Chevrolet (or GM product for that matter) since 1995.  If they put this car out, I would reconsider my position with GM and actually purchase one of these.  As I’m not like people who collect cars, I would actually drive this on a regular basis.  I believe if you own a car, you should enjoy said car, unless it’s literally “one of a kind” then it should just be viewed in a museum.

TTT Music Album Recommendation

rockondaughter
I approve this rock!

Lies
by Hyper

Is Islam really to blame?

I’ve grown increasingly troubled by the rhetoric focused on Muslims in America. For more than 15 years now, Muslims have been targeted by fearful Americans that do not understand Islam or the teachings of Islam and it’s promotion of peace and complete rejection of violence. What is interesting though is that there is blood on both sides of the fence and we need to hold up some mirrors to see the true enemy. What I don’t understand is why a double-standard exists when there is clearly verifiable violence perpetrated from Christians as there is from radial Islamists. Something about a pot and kettle…..

Islam is inherently violent, Christianity is inherently peaceful, and there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist or a white male terrorist. But the facts don’t bear that out. Far-right white male radicals and extreme Christianists are every bit as capable of acts of terrorism as radical Islamists, and to pretend that such terrorists don’t exist does the public a huge disservice.

SOURCE: 10 of the Worst Terror Attacks by Extreme Christians and Far-Right White Men

We don’t need to review our current events of the last few decades either, there is history of Christians being violent in our distant past as well. The Crusades were overruns of countries, spreading the word, with bloody and violent encounters with people who didn’t immediately yield to the Church.

…unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since their split in the East–West Schism of 1054, and establish himself (Pope Urban II) as head of the unified Church. Similarly, some of the hundreds of thousands of people who became crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the church were peasants hoping for Apotheosis at Jerusalem, or forgiveness from God for all their sins. Others, historians argue, participated to satisfy feudal obligations, gain glory and honour, or find opportunities for economic and political gain. Regardless of the motivation, the response to Urban’s preaching by people of many different classes across Western Europe established the precedent for later crusades.

SOURCE: Crusades

From the beginning, our young country had established this precedent that Anglo-Saxon enlightenment was the only true way of life and anything that threatened that had to be removed or eliminated. Our expansion into the West displaced hundreds of thousands of civilized Indian tribes from lands that they had occupied for generations prior to any “white man” setting foot on North American soil. Our own arrogance as “Americans” justified our belief that we were saving Indians from having to adapt into our Eastern culture.

Expansion and Indian removal created some phenomenal problems for the new American nation in terms of its moral character. How can this unique experiment in the new world — this nation that prided itself upon its democratic institutions, force Native American people westward? How do you rationalize the taking of land and the usurpation of property?

The argument that was used was, “This had to be done to save these poor Indian people. They don’t fit in the East, so we have to move them out beyond the frontier where they can do their Indian thing unmolested. This is the only possible way to save them.”

The hypocrisy of this is obvious because many of the people, though not all of them, who were removed were very sophisticated and relatively “civilized” people. For example, the literacy rate of the Cherokee nation is higher than that of the white South up through the Civil War, yet the tribe was moved westward as an uncivilized people, so that their land could be open for American expansion.

SOURCE: Manifest Destiny: Native American Displacement Amid U.S. Expansion

I hope this gets out to a wider audience because after having written all of this in one place, it makes me physically ill that we’re STILL, in 2016, thinking like we did in the 11th century, 17th century, 19th century, and the 21st century. Time to get a new blueprint, because replacing the target of our hate is getting old and will eventually come back to bite us.

I’ve started listening to understand. What would happen if more did that?

Weekend “Would You Rather?” 10

After playing an interesting round of “Would You Rather?” with the family, I thought it would be fun to get into the game of a weekly blog post.  Feel free to join in on your own blog and be sure to give an answer to the question of the week.

**I will keep these questions rated G**


wouldyourather_logo

Would you rather go back to 1776 and meet the people that signed the Declaration of Independence

OR

Go to 2076 and witness the 300 year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence?


Be sure to leave your answer (and justification) in the comments!

As we head into Christmas…

This isn’t my time of year, various posts in my archives all around this time show a common theme. While I generally don’t get excited or drunk on the Christmas spirit, that doesn’t mean I Scrooge on others that do. My approach is to establish clear boundaries with people so they know that I don’t share in their enthusiasm and that, if I were to be forced to get involved, the consequences aren’t pretty. For the most part, everyone in the family knows this and isn’t too bent out of shape anymore (there are still moments). They know I get “that look” at a certain point and it’s a signal to just leave me alone for a while. Counterproductive to a non-introvert, almost frustratingly so, but a necessary moment of time for me.

 

thislook
This is sort of how I look when I get “that look”.  Best to steer clear.

Although I’m Scrooge to most outside observers, I do value the fact that it’s a time set aside every year to be around family that you normally wouldn’t see otherwise. I have my issues with family, we all do, and I do my best to accommodate as best as possible so as not to make my Scrooginess contagious. I focus on Christmas as a time my daughter can enjoy and we have never made it about gifts. Our family uses a modified version of Santa, where my wife and I get the bulk of gifts to help him out and he delivers one special gift to her. We have, the three of us, made Christmas about volunteering at the local department store to wrap gifts for families in need (department store donates gift cards, we wrap what they pick out). As this is the first year we’ve been involved with the local volunteer fire company, we rode around with them to hand out candy canes to the children in the neighborhoods Santa on the fire engine visited. We’ve also made it a family affair to one weekend go nuts with baking cookies that we hand out to family, friends, neighbors, etc. I put my foot down that the Snickerdoodles were NOT to be shared, they’re way too good a batch this year 🙂

 

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May Santa bless you with many sexy leg lamps to put in the front window, LOL

It’s going to be a rough weekend coming up. Christmas Eve (Saturday) dinner with my family, brother included. Christmas morning (Sunday) just the three of us, then breakfast with my wifes and my parents. Then Christmas Day dinner at my wifes families house, usually chaotic and stressful, but strangely enjoyable. I have consistently taken the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas Day off so that I can prepare (before) and recover (after) that has typically worked quite well. If I don’t get time at the house to myself for at least a few hours, I just head out somewhere that I can. I’m anticipating this year to be a little rough with my parents and brother as they’ve picked up on the distance I’ve created. I can only hope that they respect that Christmas Eve isn’t the appropriate moment to have “that” conversation and it’s left until after the New Year.

 

It’s my wish that everyone who reads this has a wonderful Christmas holiday (or quiet weekend if you don’t celebrate) and that we all take a few moments to review the year behind us and hope for the best for the coming year. I’m heading into the final weeks of 2016 with an optimism that 2017 is going to be a good year and my life will continue improving as I increase the understanding of myself and learn about our political, financial, and governmental systems.

See you on the other side of Christmas (next Monday basically).

Three Things Thursday – 12/22/2016

three-things-badge

Inspired by Ms. Emily’s Home for Full-Grown Nerds

Bring the happy!

Holiday concerts

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The daughter dressed up (her selections) for the holiday concert at her school last week. This was the ONLY picture that she smiled in or didn’t make a funny face. I’m happy that she at least still knows how to smile and look decent so that we have some pictures of her to show to future boyfriends, husband, and grand-children (if she chooses to have children, we’re not pushing).

Fat cat

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This cat is fat. Not much to be said about Harley, but he sure likes his food. Envious of a life of eating, sleeping, pooping, licking plastic bags at 2am, more sleeping, etc.

Cookies

Snickerdoodle / Sugar Cookies / Springerle’s

It’s been a cookie haven at our house this week and I’ve had my fair share. Here are some of the varieties that we baked, some my idea, some not. The Springerle’s are a German cookie (I think) that has been traditionally a purchased cookie in our household. Decided to make a batch of my own and they turned out quite well. Very labor intensive and probably not something I’m going to make on a regular basis.

TTT Music Album Recommendation

rockondaughter
I approve this rock!

Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah
by Atomic Hooligan

Follow up to Comments or no comments

I scheduled my previous post yesterday afternoon to publish this morning (EST). It rolled around my head all night and I processed on the decision heavily. I’ve since turned them back on and I’ll explain why so that if you decide to read the article I posted and think about turning them off, my thinking on this might help. I pushed further into the linked articles and posts and read several points of view last night that showed both sides of the argument.

In the case of Matthew Gemmell, he writes a primarily tech focused blog and as such, not allowing comments is a good choice. Comments on a tech blog invite all kinds of responses that generally never add to the posts subject and in many ways, distracts the reader of the original intention. For example, I wrote a password themed blog entry on my old blog (no longer published) and received more than 50 comments. If I removed the ones that offered their own opinion without expanding on my post, I would be left with less than 10. Discussion is good, especially when it’s constructive and applicable to the conversation, however tech blogs generally don’t encourage those sorts of replies. The typical “You’re an idiot” themed response is more common.

In the case of Matthew’s wife though, she writes a food themed blog and as such needs to encourage comments so that recipes can be tweaked, questions can be posed and answered, and general responses on how good or bad the recipe ended up tasting. It makes sense. She has left her comments on and for good reason, as after reading a few posts, there were multiple responses on most articles that offered additional context that supported the original post.

Having weighed both sides, and waking up this morning to no comments (because I turned them off) and only a few responses on Twitter from followers, I decided that for my own blog it wasn’t worth turning off comments for a few reasons. I don’t get that much spam, if any. I don’t recall a single piece of legitimate spam in the 5 years I’ve been writing this blog. I also don’t have a lot of followers at this point and keeping up with comment approvals is a trivial amount of time. There are also a select few that I’ve taken the conversation off WordPress with and into Twitter and soon a separate chat client (have a new side project brewing that I’m excited about). I wouldn’t have made those connections if I had comments turned off. So, with that said, and after the early morning edit to the original post, I’ve turned the comments back on and will most likely keep them on into the future. WordPress lends itself to a dialogue that is often lost if taken to Twitter or Facebook in that the context of the conversation is no longer easily referenced.

To John at John Liming’s Blog, while I hope that you turn comments back on again, I understand your decision to turn them off. It is a surprisingly personal decision to make as I’ve discovered. If you do continue to keep them off, please get a Twitter or Google+ account, as I can’t in all good conscience sign up for Facebook again after deleting my account. This post explains my decision to delete Facebook. It feels like I’ve lost a connection to a fellow blogger as I can’t even click “Like” on your posts.

Comments or no comments

One of the blogs I follow recently went comment-less and the idea has merit. I don’t have a lot of followers despite having a 5-year-old blog and only recently did a handful (less than 10) become regular commenters. Most of the time I get likes and views, but generally no comments. With that, I’m going to go through the mental process of deciding if I keep comments on or turn them off across the board. I have not determined if I can turn off comments (and still keep the ones already made) or if it will remove comments completely. Will hit up WordPress dude for an answer to that question as I’m being lazy today and not searching for myself.

Inspiration: John Liming’s Blog
Source: Comments Off by Matt Gemmell

To keep them on…

Who doesn’t like to get comments on the stuff they post? I certainly love to see what others write in response to what in some cases can be a hard subject to author let alone comment on. This is a blog written by me though, and although I have yet to get spam, I have had a few comments that met the trash can because they weren’t appropriate. Matt’s article goes into detail about how he encourages thoughtful conversation through re-blogs and posts written as a long response to a post he’s written. He uses Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to continue the conversation while keeping his original post intact. I follow several blogs as well that will get 200-300 responses on every post that I admit I almost never read past the first page. I certainly don’t get that many response and often get none. At this point in time, my burden of comment moderation is a small one. If I got featured on “Discover” at some point, I’m sure that would be overwhelming almost immediately.

To turn them off…

What am I really missing anyway? The followers who comment on a regular basis, also follow me on Twitter as I’ve done the same thing. Find a good post, I tag them in a tweet. Feel strongly about a good post I have re-blogged and written my own response to it in lieu of leaving a comment that would certainly have been way too long. A re-blog is tagged as a comment I believe even if comments are off, but I’m not sure and will need to test around with that. Looking back at the comments that have been left, there are maybe a dozen posts out of over 250 from the last 5 years that had comments that actually resulted in contributions to the conversation. It makes sense then to turn off comments that generally don’t add much to the post itself other than agreement or a one liner that confirms a point made. Twitter is good for that. I’m guilty of the one liners myself and will need to start limiting that *or* take it to Twitter or Google+ (refuse to sign up for Facebook again).

What I decided

(see the edit)  I’m going to turn off comments for a while and see what happens. I’ve provided the links to both my social accounts to share your thoughts and comments on any of my posts on this blog. If there is a post that prompts a strong response, I encourage you to re-blog and craft a response on your own blog. If the ping back doesn’t list, please make sure to let me know so I can read it (that is if I don’t already follow you). This will be an interesting experiment that seems to be an increasing trend on the Internet.

EDIT:  I thought about this post overnight (scheduled it yesterday) and decided that turning off comments, for my blog, was the incorrect decision.  I almost never get spam because of the fact that I require a user to be logged in to post and I moderate every comment (more so I don’t miss them than anything else).  They’ve been turned back on as of this edit, but I still encourage you to follow me and comment on either of the two sites below if you feel so inclined.  I’d like to have 100 WP followers by the end of the year, a goal I thought unattainable even a year ago.

You can reach me at either of these sites:

Twitter
Google+