A Day Off Together

My wife took a day off work today to spend time with me. She’s going out of town this weekend. (Our son has a Speed Skating competition in Northern BC.) I figured we’d have some nice quality time together.

First, she woke up and helped the kids get ready for school. I then drove them to school. When I returned home, I made us a lovely breakfast of bacon wrapped asparagus with poached eggs. So far our day was off to a great start.

Outside, the sun was shining brightly. Best avoid it and play video games. My wife and I played on the Nintendo Switch in our dark theater room for about three and a half hours.

It was a ton of fun lounging on the couch in our pajamas until one in the afternoon. Ya, I drive my kids to school in my pjs. Not like I have to get out of the car. In fact, sometimes I go shopping in my pjs. I’ve even gone to work like that in the past. Comfort wins out over fashion sense.

My wife gets very animated when playing video games. After an intense round, match or level- she usually flails her arms. She tries to grab at me, pinch or punch my arms in frustration if she loses. Today I earned quite a few bruises.

It’s all in good fun mind you. I’m often laughing at her failures in the games. So I do kind of deserve her little attacks.

I’m going to miss her this weekend. But at least it will give me time to heal. And practice at our games.

Retro Gaming Feel

Over the weekend, I set up a little area near our front door in order to play video games.

Over Christmas we received the NES and the SNES Minis. We had an old 20″ RCA tv that we were using for a computer monitor. I decided to mount it on the wall and connect the game systems.

The tiny alcove reminds me of the look on a basement from the 1970’s/early 1980’s. The perfect little spot to enjoy some retro gaming. It may sound odd, but it works. It’s also a good little spot to hideout, but still be central in the home.

Now when one of our kids are ready to go out before anyone else, they can occupy their time playing a game. It’ll help keep them out of the way and out of trouble.

Hopefully.

Not Socializing on Social Media

Last night as I lay in bed watching Netflix I was also browsing for nothing in particular on my smartphone (or should we just call it a phone now since most of us have one?). I don’t know what I was looking for. But it started and ended with Facebook.

First was a rabbit hole of videos. Everything from Fail Compilations to Wood Carving. Many of which I have seen before on these late night journeys of nothingness. Then I decided to try looking up former coworkers and schoolmates that I am not “Friends” with currently. Why? I have no idea.

Credit:Bizarro Comics

Do I need to pad my online self worth with people I once knew? Was it a deeper connection I desired with these strangers? I stopped myself before I began sending “Friend Requests”. I’ve come to realize that I have some great friends on Facebook. Ones who do share with me quite often even though we don’t see each other outside of social media.

I have also turned into the type of person that rarely comments on posts because I don’t want to offend. So my opinion remains curtailed and I lay dormant and quiet. Which is probably why I watch those videos. There is no interaction required. Just mind numbing useless videos that make me feel inadequate (I cannot turn wood into beautiful works of art) or I feel righteous (because of watching people fail at life doing stupid stunts).

The Fear of missing out prevents me from just abandoning social media all together. Maybe it’s time to reassess my reasons for staying on board. I’ve stopped using Twitter and Pinterest. I was never into Reddit. I enjoy Instagram because I love seeing the beauty in the world. But Facebook? No idea why I’m still going back. Sometimes I see a success story from a friend’s feed that makes me smile. Is it those moments that I crave?

I have a buddy that I have been friends with since kindergarten in the early 80’s. He has zero social media presence. He never did either. He and I are still in contact through text messages and calls on a regular basis. We meet up every few months and it feels like we never separated. I have a couple other friends like this. But I need more of those types of friends.

As I flip flop through deciding to abandon the social networking all together, I have to look at what’s important to me. Seeing success stories makes me happy. Using social media to keep up with technology and entertainment is also useful. Seeing hatred and misinformation spread is not.

Maybe it’s time for me to take my Month Long Break again.

Screen Time Stats

My iPhone updates me every week about my “Screen Time”. I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning. Curiosity had me examining it more closely.

These are my stats for this week. 29+ hours staring at my phone. More than one entire day this week. “Social Networking” took half of this. Granted, I’d like to think that it’s because of Christmas and New Year’s and my desire to see how friends are doing. But I fear that number may be closer to reality than I want to admit. I spend more time watching videos and reading memes than seeing how my friends are really doing. On average I spent two hours per day on various social media.

Four and a half hours were spent on “Productivity”. WordPress took up a little over two hours. While calculator, email, and banking took up the rest. What surprised me was “Creativity” was so low. Meaning I wasn’t taking or editing photos very much this week.

Since I have now seen some of these stats and paid more attention to them, I think it’s time to adjust my focus. The iPhone allows me to set daily limits on everything. For now, I am slashing my social media time in half. Perhaps this will make me focus more on “Creativity”.

Putting down the phone is something my wife would like us to do as a family more often. We tend to eat meals without the phone, but once that’s done- out come the devices. Same when we are watching tv or movies. Not a lot of interaction with one another. I’d like to see what my wife’s and daughter’s stats are this week. Maybe as a family we can work together to knock down our screen time usage.

Have you ever looked at your device stats? Does it make you want to change?

Computer Calculus

Back in October, our oldest had saved up money and bought herself a New Computer. She has been very proud of it and has taken extra care with it. Over the past few weeks, she has been using it for a school project.

The project was for her Pre-Calculus class. She had to enter formulas to plot out lines and curves on a graph to make a symbol. While many students chose much easier symbols, our daughter (who loves the tv show Supernatural) chose a much more intricate design. After weeks and hours of working on perfecting the equations, she is finally done. She also finished before her deadline which is the end of January. I am impressed because of her passion in the project, and mostly because she had to explain something to me that I didn’t have a clue about.

She has demonstrated that she is capable of a great many things throughout her life. Now that she has finished this project, she has been wanting us to pay for Adobe Photoshop for her. Part of the deal was to make sure she doesn’t fall behind in school work for a hobby. I think this Calculus assignment has proven to us that she can be committed to her word.

We look forward to seeing what she can do with Photoshop and her photography. My wife would like her to clean up some of our photos as well. Our daughter has also hinted at writing more music, only time will tell. But I’m glad to see she is far exceeding my abilities in computing.

Package Deal

Today, we had to pick up a couple of parcels. The one we picked up in the USA was quick and easy. There was even free shipping for it. We have a PO Box with a small fee for them to hold the parcel until we pick it up. Just like many Canadians who live near the border. Crossing the border between Canada and America is usually smooth.

The other package was delivered up the road from our home to the Post Office. Even though our local post office line is relatively short these days, it doesn’t mean that other locations aren’t busy. A part of me wishes we lived in the USA- their postal system is more convenient, inexpensive and reliable.

Canada Post is finally moving packages. After much frustration while the workers fought for better wages and work hours- it seems that many packages sent out now won’t make the Christmas deadline. Adding to the frustration of Canadians.

In a world of electronic billing, free Amazon deliveries, and instant communication it makes Canada Post quite the dinosaur when it comes to the world these days.

Old Tech Memories

Every night I plug my iPhone into the charging cord beside my bed. The cord often falls to the floor so I have to pick it up in order to place my iPhone on my bedside table. The other night I grabbed the wrong cord. A cord I didn’t know I still had.

We haven’t had a landline in about four years. Ever since our oldest finished grade seven. At that time, we had a set of four cordless phones that all connected at one location- our bedroom. When we ditched the landline, I simply unplugged the phone. Over the past few days, I’ve been pulling stuff out from under our bed for Christmas. I guess the cord got caught and came out and I hadn’t noticed it.

There are plenty of images out there along the lines of “Remember corded phones?” I remember. When I was little, we had a rotary phone. I remember them in other people’s homes as well. Then push button ones. And really long cords to reach from one room to another.

In the mid 80’s we got our first cordless phone. I thought it was the greatest thing ever! It had one of those telescopic antennas that you could push down when you were finished the call. Except for the antenna- which eventually got bent and snapped off- the phone was extremely durable and aerodynamic! It flew across the room at my younger sister a couple of times.

Phones have come a long way since they were first invented. I’m using my phone to write this blog post. I listen to music, take photos and watch videos every day as well on my iPhone. Crazy.

The coolest thing a kid/teen could have in the 80’s was a Ghetto Blaster with a black and white tv built in. Man, did I ever want one of those. I guess I have to settle with having the world at my fingertips as an adult instead. I wonder what inventions my kids would wish they owned when they grow up?

Did you have any memories like this, or did you own one of those Blasters? Please share.

Cyber Bully Monday

Maybe I just have a weak point in my brain and ego. But I got sucked into purchasing on Cyber Monday again this year. I feel as if society has bullied me into being a consumer whore. Buying up stuff on sale whether I need it or not.

Of course I couldn’t help but check out the deals on Amazon. Honestly, there’s always something I could buy. I think the Internet gods are watching over me a bit too closely and catering to my desires. Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, YouTube, etc… all show me things I want. I think they are watching me closely. One day I think Cyberdyne will be real. Wait, what? Moving right along…

Last week’s episode of Doctor Who took a shot at how wonderfully awful warehouse shipping centers can be. Even in the future where robots deliver packages the same day, there’s something both alarming and intriguing about this. For now I have to suffer with free two day shipping. No instant gratification quite yet like going to a store and braving a sea of people.

So ya.

I bought something online first thing this morning. A part of me is excited about it. And a part of me loathes myself for it. Too late now. I clicked on the check out and my item is being processed!

KERBLAM!

What To Give?

This is the first year that my wife and I are having a tough time figuring out Christmas gifts for our kids. It’s rather unusual for us.

We usually buy gifts throughout the year and stockpile a pretty good haul for the family. But this year we did more spending on experiences for the family. So our usual Christmas stockpile is lacking.

The kids are too old for toys. So we’ve cut that out. Of course LEGO is still popular, so there may be a box or two under the tree. We also used to buy movies- DVDs then Blu-Ray films. But with streaming on Netflix or any other device doesn’t require a physical disc. It’s the same with video games. Just download onto a device and play. Nothing to unwrap.

Maybe we need to focus on more experiences. The ones that create memories that last a lifetime. Our kids love our vacations. But travel can be expensive for a family of five.

But how do you wrap an experience for under the tree? They also love creating art and sharing art. Just over a month for my wife to figure this out.

August Break

A couple of years ago, I took the month of August off from social media. I did it last March as well. I just randomly choose a month and avoid Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I usually end up “going dark” when I realize that I’m checking my iPhone far too frequently. Or if I notice my family and friends are obsessing over their phones as well. Sure, we all take a moment when on the toilet to watch a video… but in a social setting- it should be time to interact with those around you. (Using a public washroom doesn’t count as a social setting- just saying.)

I’m also choosing August as a time for a break from social media because for the second half of the month I will be enjoying the great outdoors. I’m taking a couple of my kids to a cabin with a friend of mine for a week, followed by a week of camping in one of my favorite spots in BC- Twenty Mile Bay.

You can’t tell me that relaxing with your feet up on an inflatable raft in the middle of a peaceful lake staring off into the mountains isn’t good for the soul.

The same way our electronics need a recharge- so do our minds. A chance to unplug is good for everyone.

Le Sigh

I know most of my friends won’t care that I am not on social media for the month. In fact they may be relieved because I tend to share, like, and comment quite frequently. Of course, during the month of August I still have to do work, pay bills, etc… I’m not disappearing from the Internet all together- I am still going to be writing everyday.

My blog automatically shares on social media. But while I’m out doing things with the family- I may not have internet access. Which is totally fine with me. It just means when my blogs do get posted, they may be a few days later.

So if you follow along, please bear with my posts as they may not come everyday. But you may get bombarded with a couple each day when I return to the technological era.