I owe my career to the people who have openly, and for the most part, freely, shared “how-to”, and/or connected with me, on the internet. In fact, it isn’t even a small amount of hyperbole to say my life would be NOTHING like it is now without the internet…I’m struggling to think of anything that would be like it is. I have always been grateful for, awed by, and passionate about, The Internet. It really IS a World Wide Web. But sometimes, people get trapped by the web in a way that suffocates or isolates them, instead of supports them. That’s what happened to my grandma.
My grandma lived to be 102. She died in 2013, with me and others who loved her, nearby. From the time I moved away at 18, until I lost her in 2013, I saw her almost every year, and sometimes more than once a year. I’d hang out with her and help her run errands. One particular time, she called asking me to visit for a specific purpose. She had a job for me to do, and she wanted my ‘computer skills’. She wanted me to re-do her address book. She informed me it was because….are you ready for what she said? She was “sick of flipping through all these dead people”.
When I was done simultaneously laughing and crying for her, I booked a flight and went up there. I got a USB internet access device, so I could connect to the internet at her house, and I brought my laptop with me. My grandmother had never touched a computer, or seen a laptop in person. I showed her what a CD was, because she’d never seen one of those either. I let her type on my computer. I made the font giant, so she could see it, and she typed “I love you” in a Word or Google doc. She grinned, and looked and touched and grinned some more.
And then we got to work on her address book. She told me stories about every person in there, while I typed the survivors into a document I’d later use to create her a new book. One of the biggest regrets of my life to date is that I didn’t record that experience! Those stories, her memory, all those people in her life…I don’t remember any of them well enough to retell. I just remember being overwhelmed, touched and amazed by the experience, and her astonishing memory.
Not long after, when I was bemoaning to myself how I’d forgotten all those stories, and regretting how I hadn’t recorded them, it struck me how dependent I, and others are, on devices to store what she had to use her brain to hang onto. My memory muscle is positively atrophied compared to hers for things like this. In her lifetime, if she wanted to recall information quickly, she really didn’t have a choice but to remember it. Even writing it down wouldn’t have worked for her, because she already hung onto everything. She’d never have been able to dig through all the paper she’d have generated writing it all down. Although, now that I think about this, if writing it down didn’t cause her to release it from her memory, like it does for me, she’d probably have been able to easily recall what page and book something was in!
Besides her unparalleled memory for people and events, I admired my grandmother’s stamina. Her grit, her curiosity, and her hope were always visible, even under her sometimes crusty, cranky exterior.
I think this particular visit I’m telling you about happened in 2010. Ironically, I wouldn’t have to use much of my memory to figure out the date, because I still have the document she wrote “I love you” in, stored somewhere on one of my hard drives or on Google. Instead, I’d have to use my memory to figure out where the document is.
The reason I think it was around 2010, though, without finding the document, is that I DO remember thinking about how she was 98 or 99…when I asked her this question:
“Of all the things you’ve seen in your life…wars, industrial revolution, flight, the depression, urbanization, etc., what’s the one thing you’ve seen that’s changed the world more than anything else.”
Her answer, given without even a breath of hesitation? “The World Wide Web. That Internet”.
But her tone wasn’t filled with the gratitude and awe I have for the Internet, and everyone who participates in it. It wasn’t for the reasons many of us value it…the open sharing of information, the resources instantly available for any of us with access. It wasn’t because of all the applications that allow us to do our jobs, keep track of our property and our responsibilities, entertain ourselves, store our memories, and connect to each other.
Instead, she felt the exact opposite about it. She found the existence of the internet to be the most isolating, handicapping thing she’d ever experienced, because she couldn’t participate. Since the internet became so popular, if she called someone for information, they referred her to the internet. If she needed a form, someone gave her a web address. If she wanted to know something, do something, reach someone, share something…the web, the web, the web, the web…was the only reasonably viable option she had many, many times.
Like I said, she was around 98-99 when I asked her this question. She was already sick to the top of her perfectly permed hair with people talking over her or past her, as if she didn’t exist or was too stupid or old to understand anything.
Add to that, she had macular degeneration, so she couldn’t see well.
Her beautiful hands, the ones she used to type all manner of things on a typewriter when she was a school secretary, and had cooked and baked and cared for others her whole life with, had long ago gotten too painfully gnarled from arthritis to be of use to her on anything as delicate as a computer keyboard.
She was starting to lose her hearing, which didn’t help her understand new words and concepts.
For at least a few decades, she’d been driving all “the old ladies” around, but a few years before this visit, she’d lost her license. This loss cut her off socially. (“Old ladies”, by the way, were her friends who couldn’t drive themselves around anymore…that made them “old” to her, even though all of them were younger than her, a large number of them by 10-20 years.)
She became utterly isolated from information, resources and community…in the end because of her own physical limitations, but for years before that, because of the very thing that made my life so much richer and more convenient.
We talked a lot about how much sharing goes on “out there”. I showed her websites (she could still see well enough then to get a sense of them.) We even looked up macular degeneration together, so I would have a better understanding of what she was able to see. I told her about how many people give information, share stories and knowledge, connect to each other…Like I’m doing now, with you, if you’re reading this.
And I tearfully told her how very sorry I was that it wasn’t something she could be a part of. I know she would have loved it, because she was such a curious, resourceful woman. I do think she’d have objected to all the privacy invasion, though. 🙂 This particular visit was the most open she’d ever been about her life, and I know I only saw a small sliver of it. She liked to keep her information to herself!
My grandma did have her own version of sharing. She loved to cook, and she especially loved to bake. She was ALWAYS making goodies for friends, people in her church, neighbors, and me. I still have many of her handwritten recipes in a little file box in my cupboard, and I still make some of them. That particular visit? She showed me how to make strawberry rhubarb cobbler. I don’t remember how anymore…but I do remember it was super yummy. I took her to run errands, and I took her to see some of her friends. (That woman had some stamina. She’d last running 12 hours of errands and chores without a nap…at 98 years old.)
And at the end of the visit, she shared one of her favorite treasures with me. She gave me a Hummel that she’d won. It had a piece of those desk calendar flip-a-day papers in it, dated something like October of 1957. On the paper it said “Upon my death, give this to Frieda XXXX at XXXX W. New York Ave., Oshkosh, Wisconsin (see, I’m respecting grandma’s privacy! 🙂 “. She told me the story of that Hummel and I remember this one. Someone at her school had won it in a drawing at a party. The woman didn’t like it, thought it was ugly trash. But my grandma knew what it was, and knew it was valuable, so she’d piped up and said “I’ll take it.” The woman handed it over and shrugged. Shortly after, the woman found out it was a Hummel and had value, so she wanted it back. My grandma graciously gave it back to her. In exchange, the woman wrote up that piece of paper, willing it to my grandma, stuck it in the hole in the bottom of the Hummel, and took it home with her. She was quite a bit younger than my grandma, so neither of them thought it would ever end up in my grandma’s possession. There’s something to be said for tangible pieces of paper stored in just the right place, instead of lost on someone’s hard drive or stored on the web…because when that woman died, her relatives found the piece of paper, and gave that Hummel back to my grandma. She told me “See? We shared the Hummel. Just not at the same time.”
And as a thank you for helping her with her address book, and for sharing the internet with her, she shared her yummy cobbler, and that Hummel with me.
BTW, what I’d intended to share here today was how my always present appreciation has been renewed. For the last few weeks, while I’ve been looking for employment, I’ve been spending more time than usual reading information other people took the time to share. Information that I, someone a world wide web away from them, have used to refresh my skills and learn new ones
Oh, and then I was going to share a few specific things I found especially useful. Turns out, my mind and heart decided it had something different to share instead, so I’ll post about the resources another time. For now, I have to get back to absorbing all that information people shared. I wish my grandma would have been able to benefit from it, as I have.
~ cj 2017.03.02
I posted a list of podcasts at the end of January, but then, what a surprise, I discovered some new ones! At the end of this post, I’ll put a list of the new ones I’ve added to my podcast list. I’ll also go back and add them to the other list as well. I’ll italicize them in the other list, so you can tell which ones were newly added.
Back in October, I was one of the presenters at Ignite Freelance in Austin, Texas, thanks to a gracious invitation from a friend of mine. L
Ignite’s motto is “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” Each presenter has 5 minutes to present their topic. They submit 20 slides, and each slide auto-advances every 15 seconds.
My presentation was titled “ADHD – The Entrepreneur Superpower”.
Several people requested my slides, but the slides alone, without audio, wouldn’t make sense to anyone who wasn’t there.
So I recreated that presentation with audio this week, using Camtasia, from Techsmith. In case you don’t know what Camtasia is, Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes it like this:
“Camtasia Studio is a video-based screen capturing software program. It is analogous to using a video camera to record your screen. However, unlike using a video camera, the software is installed on your computer, so your screen captures are directly recorded to a digital video format with higher quality audio.”
I’ve used Camtasia before. It’s great for creating screen tutorials! This is the first time I’ve used its captioning functionality, or published its output to YouTube.
When I originally created the Ignite presentation, it was quite a challenge to get all of my material into the allotted five minutes. I was tempted, when I recreated this presentation, to extend its length. After all, this isn’t an Ignite event!
Ultimately, though, I decided to honor the original Ignite format. So, as you watch the video, you’ll notice that once I start the presentation, each slide will advance at 15 seconds, and the core of the presentation is exactly five minutes.
Here’s the newly created presentation. It’s also available on my presentation page.
I sent an email today, and then read it out loud to someone else. Oops. I had a typo. It wasn’t a spelling error, though. It was the wrong word, so it didn’t get caught by spell-checker. I didn’t notice it either, because I’d read what I THOUGHT I’d written, instead of what I’d ACTUALLY written.
One of my housemates uses SpeakIt, a Chrome extension. He gets it to read his email back to him, before he sends it. So I installed it before my last blog post about podcasts. Guess what. It caught two more of the same types of errors.
I’m planning to use it for reading my email before I send it, and my posts before I publish them.
Two items of note:
- (+) Once I made a few corrections, I just wanted to re-listen to those areas. It let me select and listen to that smaller portion of text.
- (-) I did have to view the post in preview, in order for this to work correctly. If I didn’t, it started reading all of the other items in the back-end admin area of WordPress!
Several reviewers mention that it only reads 500 words per day, unless you upgrade for $2.99 a month. I want developers to make money for what they spend their time creating for the rest of us, so if it works well over the next week or so, and I find that I’m using it regularly, I’ll upgrade.
I did want to mention something else I found, while looking around for this kind of functionality. There’s a website application called TTS Reader that approaches this in a slightly different way. Instead of being a browser extension, you go to their website (http://ttsreader.com/), paste in your text, and have it read to you from there.
I haven’t tried it yet, but they claim to be able to read PDFs and text files as well. I’m going to give this one a try, too.
They advertise a Chrome extension is coming soon, which will allow you to read from within a website, instead of pasting in their reader box.
It started off as an awesome addiction to public radio. I could listen all day and night, and never want to turn it off. I’m fortunate that we have one of the best public radio stations in the country, right here in Austin. The shows they broadcast, and the way they’ve lined them up, is perfect for me.
I especially enjoyed it in 2013 – 2015, when I’d go out with my doggie Sophie Sue, to photograph sunsets. I’d let her snuffle around, I’d take photos, and I’d have the radio playing in the background. Sometimes I’d be out there for hours, listening to one show after another, enjoying the air and her company.
If something resonated with me, I’d make an Evernote to download the podcast version, so I could re-listen to it, and write about, or think more about, whatever resonated with me.
Most of the time, though, I didn’t re-listen, because I was always too busy listening to the next current broadcast (and making more Evernotes).
During the recent election season, I became nearly obsessed with political news. I was constantly listening to, reading, researching, and communicating about it. I wanted to be as informed as possible, and I wanted to share what I was learning. Because I was so focused on the political news, I didn’t have time to listen to many of the radio shows I typically listened to. I also lost Sophie Sue at the end of last year, so I haven’t gone out as often shooting sunsets. When I was still listening to the radio, it was typically during news hour times, and that was largely dominated with political news.
Also, like so many others, I began experiencing an unprecedented level of anxiety from the discord in this country and even in my own social circles. I knew I couldn’t continue to engage in that, if I wanted to stay healthy and optimistic.
Because of the detriment, without benefit, I made a decision a few weeks ago, at least for now, to step back from being absorbed in my news habit.
I strongly believe to be well-informed, and to be a deserving citizen of this country, I don’t have the luxury of permanently disconnecting from it, hoping others will do the work. But I am still wrapping up some personal and professional transitions, and I want to be tackle those from an energetic, hopeful, positive baseline. My constant connection and an inability to avoid feeling impacted and anxious from what was going on nationally weren’t supporting those goals. And without having my own life where I want it to be, I’m not going to be able to effectively impact anything in the larger environment anyway.
It was pretty odd to turn everything off all at once. I am still seeing headlines here and there, and my friends are still talking about things in social media. But I’m not clicking, I’m not diving in, I’m not obsessing.
Within a few days of backing away from all this, I noticed I had more energy. I also started making significant progress on some important life items. And best of all, my hope for humanity and my belief that I have something to contribute started coming back.
Instead of wanting to crawl in a hole, I wanted to socialize again. I signed up on a volunteer matching website, and started reaching out to organizations offering volunteer opportunities. I’ve also started applying for interesting positions at companies I’d be proud
And I’m focusing on learning new skills and hobbies, one of which happens to be radio and podcast production. 🙂
And all those podcasts? Well, I haven’t gone back to that huge list of previously noted episodes. BUT, I’ve subscribed to them so I can listen to their new episodes. And I’ve found some new ones I’m pretty excited about.
Now, when I have spare time, or I’m doing something mindless, or I’m in my car, I’m listening to a podcast. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and it’s been wonderfully mind-bending! I’m inspired, I’m in awe, I’ve learned quite a bit, and I’ve been immensely entertained.
And even though I’m not connected to the political news directly, several of the podcasts have in-depth discussions about inter-related social and humanitarian issues.
The truth is, my primary interest isn’t really politics in the first place. I’m interested in humanity: social connection, communication, conflict resolution, choice, categorization behaviors, motivation. In other words, I’m interested in anthropology, psychology and sociology. Politics are just a part of that.
I have some strong opinions about the hidden causes of many of the visible effects in our society, our interactions, and our leadership right now. I truly believe the solutions that will move us forward are going to be found in the understanding of others and changing of ourselves, and not by helplessly consuming media and battling each other.
Many of the podcasts I’m listening to now are helping me think on a deeper level about what’s going on. Instead of listening to every horrifying news tidbit, I’m listening to discussions about the underlying aspects of them, which to me, are timeless.
And as it turns out, focusing on those things lines up perfectly with what I’m passionate about, and how I want to contribute to humanity, without cutting me off completely from the society and people I care so deeply about.
As an aside, I am immensely grateful to the people who’ve followed their passions and created these podcasts. I’m also in awe of and deeply grateful to the people who’ve also followed their passions, and in some cases, obsessions, to the extent that they’ve ended up as subject matter experts on these podcasts.
I’d originally intended to just post a list of podcasts I’ve been listening to, but as you can see from above, it went in a slightly deeper direction than that. Thank you for taking the time to read it, though!
In case you’re interested, here’s a list of the podcasts to which I’m currently subscribed. Ones I’ve already started listening to, or have previously listened to, are bolded.
- 99% Invisible
- All Songs Considered
- Anna Faris is Unqualified
- The Art of Charm | Social Science | Cognitive Psychology
- The Big Listen
- The Brilliant Idiots
- Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
- Chomsky Audio Library
- Civics 101
- Cognitive Dissonance
- Crime Writers On…
- The Dave Ramsey Show
- Death, Sex & Money
- Design Matters with Debbie Millman
- The Dinner Party Download
- Don’t Keep Your Day Job
- Evernote Blog
- The Fall of Rome Podcast
- Flash Forward
- Freakonomics Radio
- Fresh Air
- From Scratch: NPR
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
- Hearing Voices Podcast: Meditation, Higher Consciousness
- Hidden Brain
- The Hilarious World of Depression
- How I Built This
- Humankind on Public Radio
- In Our Time: Science
- In The Dark
- Kristi Lee Uninterrupted
- Late Night with Seth Meyers
- Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly
- Monday Morning Podcast
- The Moth Podcast
- The Nerdist
- Note to Self
- On Being with Krista Tippett
- On the Media
- Planet Money
- Pod Save America
- Radical Candor
- Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
- Reply All
- Revisionist History
- Science Friday
- Secrets, Crime & Audiotape
- Shopify Masters
- Side Hustle School
- Slate Money
- Snap Judgment
- Someone Knows Something
- StartUp Podcast
- Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen
- Stuff You Should Know
- Suspect Convictions
- TED Radio Hour
- TEDTalks (audio)
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking
- The Really Big Questions
- The Tim Ferris Show
- This American Life
- Today We Learned
- Track Changes
- True Crime and Mysteries
- UPWIRE: Hacking Human Nature
- Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
- Waking up with Sam Harris
- The Way I Heard it With Mike Rowe
- Welcome to Night Vale
- Why Oh Why
- Wits – APM Podcasts
- The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
- The Writers Panel
- You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes
I’ve also got several other blog posts started to share how specific episodes of some of these have impacted me recently. I’m also about to test out a few other podcast apps on my iPhone, because the native player hasn’t got some features I’m interested in having. If you’d like to be notified when those posts go live, I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog.
Your turn! If you listen to a podcast, and it’s not on this list, I’d really love to know about it! Or if there’s a particular episode of one of these that I shouldn’t miss, will you share?
(UPDATE: Podcasts in italics were added to this post on 2017.02.06.)
^^ Look what I got for Christmas. Mind you, I asked for it, so I’m not some innocent victim here.
Yesterday, I started reading it, and next thing you know, I’d purchased an Arduino Uno board, which should be here in two days.
I’m gonna go read the book some more, to see what else I need to do its tutorials.
If I can get my order in today, I bet I’ll be falling into an Arduino hole this Sunday.
Have you done anything with Arduino, or Raspberry Pi or any other kind of board like that? How did you get started? What did you build?
It started off as so many interests do…something catches our attention out of the corner of our eye.
For me, it was a 2016 Fractal Calendar, sitting on a display carousel in Whole Foods Market, late in 2015, at a time I desperately needed something colorful and beautiful to distract me. I hadn’t had a wall calendar for a few years, and I wasn’t looking for one. I purchased it immediately.
Learning is Humbling…And Fun
Back in September, I created a Facebook page when I’d decided to seek employment instead of starting another business.
I intended to create some kind of logo or header, so I opened up Illustrator, a program I’ve only been in a few times.
Shortly afterwards, I wrote this on that page: