Category Archives: Personal

De-Stressing Life By Not Commenting

Two weeks ago on my business blog, I wrote a post titled Do We Have To Talk To Each Other? The premise of the post was that there are times when it’s probably better not to have interactions with someone else because not every person you encounter has to be deemed as someone you have to have a crucial conversation with. If it’s work related in a company and you need to do business, that’s one thing, but in your personal life, why would you want to consistently go through that type of thing?

Conflict by Rishi S

here are things I normally don’t like to discuss, but every once in a while, in my own space, I’ll get off a bomb here and there.

For instance, I don’t like the way the state of politics is in our country right now. Suffice it to say, my politics is totally against the party of “no”, and I don’t like how they’ve consistently lied to the American public about health care and about President Obama personally. I was particularly intrigued by this post on The Slate titled Why Won’t Any Republicans Condemn the “Obama is a Muslim” Myth? Don’t even let me start talking about this thing with the guy who’s going to be burning Quran’s (they keep changing the spelling of this thing; someone needs to decide on it one way or another and leave it be) this weekend, because my overall take wouldn’t be what someone might expect from me.

Having said that, I’ve realized over time that there are some battles you just can’t win, especially online. It’s not necessarily whether you’re correct or not. It has to do with distance and perspective.

Back in the early 90’s I was on bulletin board systems, the early versions of forums for those of you too young to remember. There was this particular forum I was in where some people came in just to be naysayers and cause trouble. They weren’t overly interested in the topic or in discussing issues; they just wanted to jam up the works.

This one guy in particular got on my nerves so much that I decided I was going to track him down. And I did; guess what? It turned out he was only a 90-minute drive away.

I got his real name, got his address and phone number, and I was ready to go. But I decided instead to let him know I had his information and that I just might pop down for a “face to face conversation” (sometimes I have a mean streak; I’m working on that lol).

In the forum I outed him, with his real name and the dorm he lived in; yes, he turned out to be a college student. I didn’t give his phone number or the name of the college, but he knew I had the goods on him. He wrote back saying if I showed up he would call the police and have me arrested for harassment, and that he would sue me for everything I had; good thing I had nothing back then. He deleted his account and never bothered any of us again. It didn’t stop anyone else, but I had my proof.

People tend to behave differently in person than they do online. Not everyone of course; I’ve met some wonderful people. But nasty people are a different matter. They’re not trying to be civil; they don’t care about you or your space. It may not always seem to be intentional, but there are patterns that happen, “track record” as I like to call it.

Sometimes, it’s not that drastic. There are some of us who just can’t get along with others. It’s unknown what the reason is, but it happens.

I have an interesting track record myself. People who meet me say that if you can’t get along with me, you have a problem. I appreciate that, but I also know I’m not every person’s cup of tea.

I’m a bit too politically correct for many. I’m also a bit of a hothead when I feel it’s justified, and I go for the throat. I’ve told friends that it’s never good enough to get even; you have to go for the jugular so you never have to deal with it again. That’s a concept the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card captured perfectly; it’s a great book and one I’d recommend to anyone who likes science fiction that’s not too far away from the world we could recognize. It’s a reason I’ve only ever had 2 practical jokes pulled on me and why I ended up having few fights as a kid.

Peace by lintmachine

However, I’ve come to an epiphany at this juncture. I’m now 51, and I know that realistically I’ve lived more than 2/3rds of my life. I have the right to decide if I want to spend any of that time arguing with people whose minds I’m never going to change or just leaving it alone and keeping some peace in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to try to go the peaceful route. If I feel that I’m starting to get mad at something, I’m going to leave it be, at least as it pertains to me. I need to work harder on de-stressing my life by not commenting.

If I feel the need to come to someone’s defense, I’m still going to do that; trying to save the world, as my wife says, but my big 3 are loyalty, respect, and trustworthiness. I’m loyal to my friends and people I like; I hope I’ve proven that often enough over the years both online and offline.

So, if you don’t see me respond to a certain post here and there, trust me, it’s probably a good thing. Social media has brought the world closer, but it’s also brought a lot of people together who aren’t really prepared to play well with each other sometimes. On Twitter I’m sometimes more political than I want to be; I think I’ve struck the correct balance on this blog. I tend to think that all of us have to try to take some time to look at what we see when we’re being responded to, but we also have to be ready to defend ourselves as well as try as best we can to get our proper message across. I add a smiley face a lot, or a “lol” to make sure people take what I’m saying as tongue in cheek fun. If you misunderstand that, I’m not giving a second chance anymore. I need to de-stress my life.

Who’s with me on this one?
 

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Would You Be Missed?

A couple of weekends ago I took a little test on Twitter. I wanted to see if I didn’t start off engaging anyone if I’d be missed. I did know that one of my blog posts was scheduled to post late morning, but I was curious if anyone would pick up on the blog post or send me anything.


photo by By PaDumBumPsh

When I finally looked later in the day I did have messages. A couple of people had retweeted the post. A couple had responded to the post. And one person had written me a welcoming message to the day. I felt pretty good because I think it shows I do have at least a little bit of impact, or influence, online. Of course, my local influence is still nothing, as everyone who wrote me was from somewhere else, but that’s okay; I’ll take what I can get.

Our lives are so much different now than they used to be. In the past, there was some sense of community, of knowing the people who lived in your community. You’d see people in the neighborhood and know everyone’s name. You’d shop at the same stores and see each other there.

Nowadays, we have more ways to communicate with each other, yet instead of spreading the sense of community, for the most part it’s become more restrictive. You only message so many people because you don’t want to pay for extra time if you go over your minutes. We don’t have to leave our homes to go meet people because we can bring people into our homes electronically.

It’s a shame, but that’s pretty much my life. I work from home most of the time, so I don’t have a need to leave the house all that often. I’ve learned that my wife and my elderly neighbors across the street think that I’m getting old before my time because I don’t leave the house. My mind says not to spend money unnecessarily, and that includes gas for my car. It’s less expensive to stay home, so I do. I leave when I have something specific to do; just getting out for the sake of getting out makes no sense anymore.

This leads me to wonder sometimes if I would be missed by many people if something happened to me. If I stopped twittering, left LinkedIn alone, got off Facebook, and pretty much just withdrew would people notice I was gone. Sure, I know a few would; I do luckily have a few friends, and of course my wife, mother and grandmother. I do have my newsletter. But would any of the “masses” really miss me? Would I even have a legacy that someone would say “that was a good guy”. Unless my wife sent something out, and that’s not going to happen, would people reach out and say “hey, where are you”, or would time just move on?

It’s an interesting question. The second question is if you’d want that sort of thing in the first place? As I’ve talked about this concept of influence I’ve thought about the second half of that, which is once you have some influence can you ever have a private life again? Then I came to a resounding “yes”. We had this CEO of Hewitt Packard have to resign and get out of Dodge because of an alleged sex scandal, and I realized that I had absolutely no idea who this guy was, yet one could imagine that his influence had to be pretty high. If it wasn’t for the scandal, he’d have never crossed my mind at all. And yet, because of his influence, his indiscretion (alleged; yeah, right) was big news, and plastered all over the media. Almost Tiger Woods bad, but that kind of thing is hard to top.

Do you think you’d be missed by the masses if you suddenly stopped writing or doing whatever it is you do online? Do you care? Or would you like something mixed, like the treatment Ben Vereen gets from the Muppets in a performance of Mr. Cellophane?

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CPAP Adventures

I have a CPAP machine next to my bed now. I first mentioned it when I was talking about disasters a few days ago, and then I mentioned it again yesterday when talking about getting healthy.

What is a CPAP? First, it’s that little thing there to the right. I had a CPAP machine 4 years ago, almost to the day when I gave it up, and it was much larger than this thing you see. It was also much heavier; this thing weight almost nothing. And what you’re seeing is the heaviest part of the thing, because it comes with a small tank that holds water to help keep your nose and mouth moist when you’re using it while you’re sleeping.

Okay, more details first. CPAP stands for “continuous positive air pressure”, and basically the machine helps you breathe at night. Sleep apnea means you pretty much stop breathing during the night. It’s a little different from just snoring because when you stop breathing, your body starts to struggle a little bit to get you breathing again. It often starts before you get into the deepest sleep, and what this means is that you kind of wake up many times during the night. I say “kind of” because you probably don’t remember it most of the time. You might snore if you have sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has it. And it can be life threatening; professional football player and Hall of Famer Reggie White passed away from it; that’s what initially got me thinking about it.

As I said, I had a machine back from near the end of 2005 into July or August of 2006. I kept having problems getting used to the different masks, it was heavy and getting on my nerves traveling with it, and frankly I didn’t feel all that much better after such a long time. The biggest problems I had then were the masks. The first mask I had must have leaked somehow, and it caused massive scarring on my face; couldn’t have that. The second mask kept blowing air into my eyes, and waking up every morning with at least one red eye certainly wasn’t pleasant. The final thing I went to was a nasal cannula type of mask, which you’d think would be nice and easy, but I kept having panic attacks, and thus wouldn’t sleep at all. It reminded me too much of sick people in the hospital; that just wouldn’t do at all. That’s the reason I gave it back.

Unfortunately for y’all, unless I knew you back in 2005 and 2006 you missed the entire story of the sleep test, then the subsequent dumping of the machine, as it went out through email. I can tell you that when I went back to the doctor this year, he had me take another overnight sleep test, and this time it went much smoother. Not as many wires, none wrapped around my neck, and the initial mask the guy put on me was fairly light. I obviously had some issues overnight, as the guy woke me up 5 times, but otherwise I made it through the night unscathed.

This is the mask I have now. It’s much different than previous masks because it covers my mouth and has the two things at the top that go into my nose. They never used to have masks that covered the mouth, and that was a major issue in the past because you’re supposed to keep your mouth closed, and if you don’t your throat can take a beating, and if you’re like me you’re still waking up all the time. They have this strap you can put around the top of your head and under your jaw, but trust me, not many people enjoy that at all. Now, if I open my mouth, the machine will still blow air into me.

Oh yeah, the air. What happens is you get tested to see if you have apnea. Then the doctor looks at all the results and estimates how much air pressure the machine should be blowing into you. If I knew what the pressure part meant I don’t think I could explain it, so I’ll just say that the higher the number, the higher the pressure. The machine starts low, which gives you a chance to get to sleep before it gets to its highest level, which is preset by the people you get the machine from. Get this; you can buy the machine (they’re not cheap), but by law, at least in the U.S., you can’t do anything with the pressure unless you get a prescription. That’s changed, because you used to be able to alter pressure but you weren’t allowed to buy the machines; I wish people would make up their mind. I don’t have to worry about it; seems it’s all covered 100% by insurance. 🙂

Anyway, so far I don’t feel much different. It affects people differently, it seems. Some start feeling great within a week, others it takes 90 days. Since I don’t have air blowing in my eyes anymore, I hope within a month that I can report I’m feeling better. I guess we’ll see. If you have any questions or comments, just talk.

SleePAP CPAP Pillow with Pillowcase






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Where Would You Go In A Disaster?

Today I got a CPAP machine, and that will be a story for another time once I start using the thing. Instead, I want to talk about one of the questions that I was asked that came from left field.

The question was “where would you go in a disaster?” I found the question stunning, so much so that I was lost for words for about 15 seconds, which doesn’t happen often for me. I said it was an intriguing question, and asked why they would ask me that. She said because the CPAP machine needs electricity, and that many people, once they start using it, find they never want to sleep without it again, and thus if the power went out where would they go to still be able to use their machine.

Of course, me being me, my mind had gone elsewhere. I’ve always had the scenario in my mind that if I heard about something happening like we were being targeted by a nuclear bomb that I would just hop in the car and drive as far west as I possibly could to try to outrun it, since we’d have some notice that something was coming. And I live within 35 miles of a nuclear plant, but it’s recommended to be safe trying to be 45 miles away, so I always figured I’d hop in the car and head south if I knew something had happened there.

Yet, when all is said and done, how many of us have thought long term about where we’d go if a disaster struck? For that matter, wouldn’t your believe be like mine, that it would depend on what the disaster was? For instance, since my house is a mixture of gas and electricity, if the electricity went out I could stay in the house, keep warm, and eat just fine. But if it was a flood obviously I’d have to get away, but where?

Have you given this one much thought? By the way, I answered eventually that I would probably go to one of the local hotels about 2 miles away, hope they had power, and get a Jacuzzi room and just chill for a few nights if I needed to. That made them happy, and all was right with the world. Weird, right?

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Are Americans Stupid, Or Do We Just Not Care?

There was a strange story on CNN that analyzed President Obama’s speech to the nation on Tuesday night. However, this analysis was different than the norm. Instead of looking at the content or determining if it was effective or not, instead it concentrated on whether it was too “professorial” for most people to understand.

Once again, it’s the “dumbing down of America” conversation, and in truth there seems to be a lot of proof that it’s true in some fashion. Many of us have seen Jay Leno asking people on the street questions to things that should be obvious and heard the stupid answers that come from them. One time he interviewed recent college graduates and it was shocking to hear some of the answers they were giving.

You want to know how entrenched the idea is? Many of you know I’m a health care finance consultant. Well, one of the directives from Medicare is that any information we give to Medicare patients must be written at a 3rd grade level. That’s right, we have to try to find a way to write complicated stuff so an 8-year old can understand it. Trust me, that’s not easy to do, and hospitals get called on it all the time.

So, are we Americans dumb? Is our educational system failing us? The popular answer is “yes”. However, when you think about it, you’d have to say it’s not even close. What has happened is that people, including children, have locked onto what they believe is important to them, and on that specific thing they’re geniuses. Think back to your youth for a moment. How much do you remember from your history lessons? Then how many song lyrics do you remember from music you loved at the time?

Think about spelling. Man, do I see a lot of spelling mistakes everywhere. Even words people use all the time get spelled incorrectly. As a former employer, it used to amaze me that I’d get resumes where people would misspell the name of the school they went to; those immediately went into the trash.

Still, are we dumb? I’ll use myself as an example. I like to think I’m pretty smart. I know a lot about a lot of things. Yet, I have no concept of geography, which was highlighted again a couple of nights ago when our friend Ching Ya mentioned she lived in Malaysia, and I had absolutely no idea where it was. Then I looked it up on Google and I still wasn’t sure where it was; that’s a shame.

I also know nothing about cars except how to drive them and put gas in. I had a car years ago that I kept putting oil in, thinking it was leaking oil, only to learn that I’d been looking at something other than oil; I can’t even think of what it was at this juncture.

Why don’t I know these things? Because I don’t care. I can pay someone else to fix my car. I don’t see myself leaving the country any time soon (well, maybe a trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls again some day), so I have no interest in knowing where most countries are specifically, since I do have a general idea of where places are. Does this make me dumb or just uninterested? And if this is how I am, could most people be the same way?

I really don’t know; I’m just putting it out there. However, there’s a program called WebCEO that will analyze your website and give you a lot of information about it, and one time when I ran it against my main business website it said it was written at a high school level and that maybe I should change some of the language of the site. Frankly, I think telling someone that their content is too intelligent is an insult to others, and I’m not doing it.

Then again, I once wrote a song with the word “recalcitrant” in it, and my friend Scott said he wanted to hit me. I wonder if he remembers that. 🙂 Anyway, what are your thoughts on the intellect of either Americans, or the people in whatever country you live in? I’m betting we’re not alone in believing that our populations are less intelligent than in the past.

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