Friday, February 6, 2015

5 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance in 2015

I know. It's already almost one full week into February so why this topic now? Well I didn't want it to get lost with all the other discussions about resolutions starting out in 2015. But now that 2015 is more than one month old, it's a good time to look at how you are doing on improving your life so far in the new year.

Here are the five tips from Jason Price:
  1. Find a job with an employer that believes in work-life balance.
  2. Set expectations with your boss.
  3. Set your limits and stick to them.
  4. Keep your focus on the most important priorities in life.
  5. Learn to say no.
Actually you can apply all of these to aspects of your personal life without regard to employment with little or maybe even no adjustment. The details on the five tips are in this link to Jason's blog.

5 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance in 2015

And if you don't buy any of this, maybe this Dilbert comic on work-life balance speaks to you.

Dilbert on Work-Life Balance

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Car Left Running Unattended with Infant Inside

Do you ever have one of those situations in public where you see something that just isn't right but you aren't sure what to do so you do nothing? That is what happened to me a few weeks ago.

I stopped at a quick mart at around 7 a.m. on my way to work, got out of my car to walk in, and walked directly in front of a minivan that was left with its engine running. That always just amazes me. I don't care how cold it is or whatever the driver is thinking but why would you do that unless you locked the doors and you have another key or key fob to unlock the doors? Otherwise you are inviting someone to just get into your car and drive away with it as happens all too often.

But it's worse. I looked into the minivan and I saw a small child, I think a little girl about two years old, strapped in a child safety seat in the back seat. Then I really thought who would do that and why?

I entered the store and looked around to see who was there. As I got in line I noticed a lady whom I estimated to be about 30 years old paying for her purchase of a coffee and a few other items so I decided she was the most likely driver of the minivan. As she exited the store with both hands full I watched to see if she made any apparent motion to unlock the minivan. She approached the minivan, reached out with her hand holding the other items, opened the door, and got in. At that point I was 99.9% sure that I or anyone else who happened upon the scene would have been perfectly able to open the door of her minivan, get in, and drive away with her vehicle and her small child.

Then I felt guilty. I had walked right in front of her vehicle, noted the problem, and done nothing. But what could or should I have done without possibly causing a confrontation with the lady? I don't know her and I don't know how she would react if I had done something. As I have thought about this a few times again since then, especially when I see reports of vehicles stolen with children inside, I can't help but go over this situation again and again in my mind.

Maybe I could have just stood around the driver side of her vehicle to make sure that nobody except a customer leaving the store got in the car. Or maybe I could have returned to my vehicle and moved it behind her vehicle to make sure it didn't go anywhere until I was satisfied the vehicle's owner was the one entering the vehicle. Even either of those scenarios could have resulted in an unpleasant confrontation with the lady.

I don't know. I'm still not sure. What do you think? What would you do in this situation?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 3 Holiday Computers Sold by Amazon were Chromebooks

This column from ZDNet is not a surprise to me at all since I would buy a Chromebook if I needed a new laptop. The only surprise to me is that it has taken as long as it has for Chromebooks to make such an impact in the marketplace. They make so much sense in so many ways from a standpoint of cost, benefit, and functionality.

We still have a desktop computer, a laptop, my employer's laptop assigned to me, a Nook HD tablet that I have rooted to a current version of Android, and two Android smartphones in our home.

For years I had believed that we would always have to have at least one desktop so that we would always have at least one computer not dependent on the internet in the sense it would still have some use to us on its own. Guess what? When we were without internet service for a few days a couple years ago, the desktop was as useless to us as the laptops were. Without the internet our computers are close to being small boat anchors since pretty much everything we do with them is dependent on internet access.

I still rely heavily on Quicken for tracking our finances so it is the only application on our desktop that makes it unique from the laptops so Quicken is our one significant desktop application. I have given some thought to what we would do without Quicken. I have tried Mint but it has no functionality for account reconciliation. Maybe reconciling accounts to their monthly statements has become unnecessary in the eyes of most people but I'm not there yet.

If we had to replace our desktop computer, I would think about replacing it with a laptop and that would most likely be a Chromebook. Or maybe we would not replace it at all, at least not until I retire and no longer have my employer's laptop assigned to me. And then I would probably give Mint or something like it another try so we would then be totally dependent on internet access.

Would that be good or bad? And do we really have any realistic choice in that regard anyway?

Top 3 holiday computers sold by Amazon were Chromebooks

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Four Time Management Tips for the New Year

Many of us look forward to the new year thinking about what we might change to become more effective in those daily activities that matter most to us. Planning, focus, and time management are all related so here are four time management tips for the New Year from Christy Wright.
  1. Identify your priorities
  2. Create space in your schedule
  3. Schedule leisure time
  4. Protect your schedule
A key component of number 4 is to learn how and when to say No. It is so important that the author suggests that we practice saying No so we can actually do it when we need to decline an offer, an invitation, or a request that conflicts with our best interests.

Check out her brief column to determine if any of her steps can help you in 2015.

Four Time Management Tips for the New Year by Christy Wright

Monday, January 13, 2014

Paying It Forward at Sunday Breakfast

My wife attends church on Saturday evening most weekends but occasionally she goes with me on Sunday morning. On more rare occasions I go with her on Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning. But one habit we have adopted after Sue retired is to go out after church on Sunday morning at either of our two favorite hangouts for Sunday breakfast. I enjoy the opportunity to eat out but it can become expensive so I try to keep the urge under control. But there is something about going out to Sunday breakfast with my wife that I enjoy and really look forward to so much each Sunday morning.

One Sunday during December 2013 we were enjoying our breakfast when our server came to our table and picked up our tab and said that the cost of our breakfast had been taken care of by another customer. We had heard of the practice of Paying It Forward but this is the first time that I had ever been a beneficiary. Now what? Well, you pay it forward, of course.

We were back to the same restaurant for breakfast on the Sunday before Christmas. Sue and I were looking around for the ideal customers to treat to a free breakfast. Eventually Sue suggested two elderly ladies over in a booth by a window. I looked around over my shoulder and agreed that they looked like good candidates. (Given my age I try to be careful about my use of the word "elderly" because I'm not sure if I am younger than they or not.)

As we got up to leave and pay our tab, I timed it so that I could approach their server without gaining attention but that didn't work out exactly. She has been our server during prior visits so when I asked if she was their server and she said she was, I told her that we wanted to buy their breakfasts because someone bought ours before. She grabbed me and gave me a hug and exclaimed how she just loves when someone does that and that those two ladies are such sweethearts! Another server laughed and joked how this was coming from her "Mrs. Grinch" co-worker. Another customer was eating his breakfast nearby and I noted him observing and listening to the entire conversation with a big smile on his face. She gave us the tab and Sue gave her a tip as I proceeded to the counter to pay for both ours and their breakfasts.

Sue and I left the restaurant with such a good feeling in our hearts. I had been overwhelmed with the unanticipated reaction of the server. I had expected nothing like that. It was a very heart-warming experience that left us feeling really, really good as we drove home from breakfast that Sunday morning before Christmas.

We shall do that again. How about you?

Friday, November 29, 2013

We Bought a Nook HD

I had been contemplating the purchase of a tablet for several months as I watched new tablets come into the marketplace and I read reviews of tablets that might be of interest to me.

Since I am pretty much a resident of the Google realm the Google Nexus tablet has been at the top of my wishlist. That became even more true with the release of their new model this year.

But I didn't want to spend that much money on a tablet since I was uncertain how much we would use it. And I certainly recognize that for us a tablet is a luxury and not a necessity in any sense of the word.

Initially I had no interest in a Nook from  Barnes & Noble because I didn't want to be restricted to the B&N environment. I have exactly the same reservation about the tablets from Amazon.

But B&N had to admit the obvious earlier this year. Despite having hardware that garnered many positive reviews, they couldn't compete any longer in tablets against Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Google, and others so they opened their tablets up to Google Play so the Nook pretty much becomes another Android tablet in many respects.

The Nook HD is a 7-inch tablet with 8 or 16 GB of internal storage. I focused on the 16 GB model and began watching how B&N priced the Nook to clear their inventory.

I don't know the original price for the Nook HD 16GB, but I believe it was more than $200.00. In late Spring 2013 the price was reduced to $179.00. In the Fall it was reduced further to $149.00. Then for a brief span during October it was reduced to just $119.00 so we bought it then at that price. The 8 GB model was $109.00 at that time so we got the extra memory for just $10.00.

So far I am very pleased with our Nook. It is so convenient for checking email, Twitter, Facebook, news and weather, and so on. Our grandson watches movies and plays games on it. And surprisingly to me, I have found out how much I have enjoyed using it as an eReader borrowing books online from the Allen County Public Library loaded to my Kindle application.

I fully expect that it will continue to get a lot of use around our house. And I haven't modified our Nook yet but I'm quite certain that I will eventually root it to make it a pure Android tablet. But for now we are going to keep using it and keep learning how to get more and more value out of it.

And here is a final note about Nook HD pricing. I always anticipated we might wait and get our Nook for less money but there was always the chance they might sell out before we bought one.

Today on Black Friday I note that the Nook HD is unavailable at B&N online but I saw a report that the Nook HD is available today in B&N stores for just $79.00. I assume that is the 8GB model

And by the way, I did create this blog post on our Nook.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Goals Are a Means to an End | Franklin Covey GO Quote of the Week

“Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.”

- Anthony Robbins

Goals Are a Means to an End

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

This Veterans Day: Many a Man is Free | The Art of Manliness

If you didn't see this blog on Veterans Day or didn't have the time to read it yet, please read it. I hope it makes each of us think of just how lucky we are in the United States and how much responsibility we bear to live free and to pass it on.

"What does your freedom look like?

Hold that image in mind, and let’s examine freedom in greater detail, because right now — at this exact moment — many a man is free throughout the world.

What is he free to do?
  • to express his opinions
  • to pursue the career he wants
  • to gather a group of people in public to peacefully make his cause seen and heard
  • to worship whatever form of God he wants, and to go to any church without fear of being attacked
  • to travel where he wants
  • to buy property, build a house, and call it his own
  • to tell his government he agrees or disagrees with its decisions
But it’s not like that everywhere around the world. Right now — in late 2013 — some 2.4 billion people globally live without these basic freedoms. When these people push for freedom, they are censored, hurt, put in prison, or killed.So, why today is many a man free?

Sometimes freedom is negotiated for and received as a result — and wouldn’t it be commendable if this was always the case?

But often, unfortunately, freedom must be fought for and won. Hostilities exist throughout the world today in much the same manner as they did seventy years ago. Many a man is free today only because, in the words of a phrase often attributed to George Orwell, “rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do him harm.”

Like it or not, many a man’s freedom is paid for with blood.

Because of that, we free men have a responsibility."

You can find read the entire blog entry here.

This Veterans Day: Many a Man is Free

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The $19.95 Per Month Phone Plan

I have been reading the blog of jlcollinsnh (James Collins) for some time now and it was there that I first heard about Republic Wireless. It certainly is an intriguing cell plan that will have a much broader appeal when they begin offering the Moto X in November.

I have had an dumb cell phone provided by my employer now for several years but transitioning to BYOD is currently under discussion. If that happens I will opt out of the employer subsidy and get my own cell phone and plan so Republic Wireless is a very, very strong contender if and when that time comes.

Republic Wireless and my $19.95 per month phone plan

And if you take the Republic Wireless link in his blog, he will get a commission.

The case against Gmail | ZDNet

ZDNet contributor Ed Bott explains why he is giving up on Gmail. Here is the article's summary.

"Summary: Gmail was a breath of fresh air when it debuted. But this onetime alternative is showing signs that it's past its prime, especially if you want to use the service with a third-party client. That's the way Google wants it, which is why I've given up on Gmail after almost a decade."

I have been a dedicated Gmail user for nearly 7 years and I have no reason to change at this time. I am comfortable with Gmail and it just works for me the way I need now. If that changes, I can change easily and quickly since my primary email address is really a email forwarding address maintained by the Purdue Alumni Association. At any time I can change my account setting to forward my email to any other provider instead of Gmail.

I found Ed Bott's case interesting and very convincing for any Gmail user for whom the same issues are important.

If you are Gmail user, do you have any thoughts of moving to another email service especially after reading his article?

The case against Gmail