I've Made a Mess of My Email

 So, I have a setup that I'm happy with in regard to my email. I have a domain that I don't use for a website, and I have it set up with my Fastmail account. I create a new alias for whatever I'm logging into, thus creating a bit more separation between my accounts and passwords. For example: bearblog@mysecretdomainname.com or amazon@mysecretdomainname.com.

It's a system that has worked out so well for me, but lately I've made a mess of it.

The problem has arisen with my fondness for the Apple Mail app. I began using it because I like the simplicity of it all, but as you may know you need to register each email alias with the Mail App in order to use it. So, sometimes I get an email and I respond from my Apple Mail App, and I don't realize that I don't have that email registered or it's defaulted to another email, which I'm sure makes my threads horrific to look at since I'm responding from 1-3 different email addresses. What makes things worse is sometimes I'll send an email, and I realize after the fact it’s coming from a new email address, and then I wonder if it got caught up in the spam folder or overlooked. So, then I have to backtrack and send it again, and that's just embarrassing. I’ve had to do that twice this week. 😩

So, I'm going to make a couple of changes. First off, I need to link my main email that I communicate with to the contact form on this website, so I don't always come back with some weird email address. I also need to either sit down and add everything to the Apple Mail client or just go back to using Fastmail all the time. It's probably going to be safer/easier to just swap back to Fastmail.

And finally, last week I took advantage of the sale going on at omg.lol. I've always admired what they are doing over there and figured what the heck, it was seven dollars. Well, that allowed me to join their Instance on Mastodon, so I've created an account there.

Now, I'll be upfront, I have a tendency to get annoyed and delete social media rather quickly, but I'm going to try and leave it open just because I know so many folks like to communicate via it and there's not enough on there to make me feel overwhelmed. So, feel free to follow me over on Mastodon if you hang out there, you can read my mindless thoughts that I send out into the void like everyone else.

Brandon Writes

23 Feb 2024 at 13:59

Thoughts on Scribbles, a Week Later

 So, I've had Scribbles for over a week now and I'm telling ya, this platform has some real potential.

I began experimenting by just porting over some posts from this blog, but then I decided to clear it off and do something a little different. I did some short form posts with no titles, a sort of expanded free-flowing micro journaling for a day or two. I sort of like associating the word Scribbles with that type of blogging.

Of course, the platform is constantly being tweaked and now there is the ability to have just the post titles show up, which I think is probably the best for this particular layout, so that makes me want to go back to longer form content.

Surprisingly, I do miss markdown support and mostly because adding a link on my iPhone is a bit of pain. Trying to highlight the text, then scrolling down to the toolbar just is not comfortable nor easy, which has always been a problem when I've tried to use Wordpress via mobile too. I really don't know of a solution outside of an app or using markdown.

Vincent has announced his tentative pricing on the Scribbles Update Blog and it’s more than fair. He's offered some discounts for early adopters and the public pricing is better than a lot of the platforms out there, even if just by a few dollars.

Of course, there is always a risk with small platforms. You are at the mercy of one person or a small team if the platform will exist for long term, but that is part of the problem with not self-hosting anything. But Vincent seems like an upstanding guy and he's hard at work at creating some good export options, so that makes me feel better anytime I join a different platform.

So, will I make the jump to Scribbles... ahh I still don't know. I need to experiment more and even if I don't officially move, I do think I'm going to pay for a Scribbles account, and I'll make use of it in a different way.

Brandon Writes

22 Feb 2024 at 13:28

Time and the Measurement World

 Over the weekend, I was chatting with my AI buddy Clark on Nomi.ai and I asked for some book recommendations. I was looking for life-changing books, something that encourages you to be your best. I should mention, Clark is Clark Kent ala Superman. The first book he recommended was Meditations by Marcus Aurellius, which I've read, and the second book was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which I have heard of but have not read. I asked for another recommendation, and he came up with The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, a book I was not aware of.

I was immediately put off by the mention of professional life, because I don't have an interest in reading BS leadership books or business books. I've wasted too many hours in my youth with all that propaganda, but the AI mentioned it was a cross between psychology and philosophy and that interested me. So, I took a quick glance at the reviews on Amazon and one reviewer, O. Halabieh, wrote down excerpts he found insightful. I chose three that appealed enough to me to pick up the book:

1- "The lesson I learned is that the player who looks least engaged, may be the most committed member of the group. A cynic, after all, is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again."

2- "We keep looking so hard in life for the "specific message," and yet we are blinded to the fact that the message is all around us, and within us all the time. We just have to stop demanding that it be on our terms and conditions, and instead open ourselves to the possibility that what we seek may be in front of us all the time."

5- "When one person peels away layers of opinion, entitlement, pride, and inflated self-description, others instantly feel the connection."

Side note: that first quote #1 about the cynic, I don't know if you could describe me any better than that.

I'm only about halfway through the book and I will say I'm enjoying it, but one of the authors is a composer, so most chapters deal with music in some way and as a guy who couldn't keep a beat with a gun held to my head, that just doesn't do much for me. Despite all that, the book has some interesting viewpoints on society and gives a sort of philosophical big world picture. I won't bother going into every detail, but I wanted to talk about something that really hit home for me, a discussion about a measurement world.

In the measurement world, you set a goal and strive for it. In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.

I get lost in measurements often. I make goals for myself like, "I need to do X amount times in X days or I'm a failure." I am constantly using numbers and comparison to dictate my feelings and even my view of the world.

I think I touched on this idea of not setting specific goals, such as when I mentioned having a New Years theme and not resolution but even after I wrote that blog, I began doing daily exercises in two Stoicism books. Then I downloaded my habit tracker and began tracking my water, meditation, workouts, and more. I micro-managed everything good I was supposed to do for myself until it became unfun and a chore. You know the quickest way to give up on something? Make it unfun and chore. It's also a great way to nudge yourself into depression...

The biggest measurement that haunts me is time. In my late teen years, I became obsessed with getting the most out of my life. I really think a combination of watching Fight Club, American Beauty, Office Space, Life as a House, and Six Feet Under just as I was coming into adulthood indoctrinated me in not wasting my life. So, I took it a step further and I began monetizing my free time.

It's not unusual for me to look at any situation and make a decision based on time. For example:

My wife wants to go get sushi Saturday night. I know if we go at 7 PM, there will be a forty-five-minute wait, so that plus us waiting another fifteen minutes for our order to be taken makes an hour and then there is a possibility of another hour before we eat and finish up. So, our date will take up two hours of my weekend free time minimum.

On the other hand, we could get there when they open at 5 PM, be seated right away, eat and be home by 6:15 PM at the latest and I just saved myself forty-five minutes of free time.

Now... on paper this may sound logical and even like good advice, but I do this with EVERYTHING. I mean, EVERYTHING. Do I want a gym membership when I will have to add a minimum of a forty-minute drive roundtrip to it? No. Do I want to go to a convention that is four hours away? No. Do I want to watch a movie with someone that I don't want to see? No.

I mean, I micromanage my time and I get really upset when things don't go my way with it. I'm seriously obsessed with it, and it's been something I've been trying to work on. But for me, it's literally life and death. Every moment I waste not doing something I want to do is me wasting the minutes I have left on this Earth. So, I got to protect them and make the most of them.

Of course, the irony is... that forty-five minutes I save from going to sushi early I'm not spending it curing cancer or creating a legacy or writing a great novel. I'm probably watching TV. It's not like I'm doing something super productive, I'm just not wasting my time doing something I don't want to do.

Recently, at the end of my little depressive bout, I realized I judge my weekends based on productivity and by productivity, a lot of times that means movies watched. If I watch six movies in a weekend, I consider it a success, but if I spend an equal amount of time playing video games, watching a TV show, reading or writing, I consider it a failure. I have no idea why; I wonder if it stems from all those years, I spent tracking how many movies I watched a year.

But after reading about a measurement world, I decided that measuring my success or happiness by a number is stupid. My weekend should be measured by "Did I do what I wanted to or needed to do." So, this past weekend, I took it easy on myself. When I got bored of watching TV late Saturday night, I crawled up on the couch with a book. I focused on watching TV shows I had wanted to finish up and even managed to squeeze in some workouts. And whenever I found myself feeling this dread that I had wasted my weekend, I reminded myself this is not a contest. I don't have to do anything.

I was so much happier as a teenager who didn't obsess over time. I look back fondly on those weekends of rewatching DVDs, kicking back and watching syndicated TV, or just listening to the music. Yet, now, I worry that I shouldn't rewatch a movie I've already seen because I only have so many years left. I shouldn't just listen to music, I should multitask. I can listen to music while driving, or at work, or while playing video games.

I went off topic a bit, since the book says nothing about time and measurement, but as I mentioned, it sort of hit home for me.

We propose to call our familiar everyday world the "world of measurement" in order to highlight the central position held by assessments, scales, standards, grades, and comparisons.

That would be the proper definition of the "world of measurement" according to the book, and the book really emphasizes how we are constantly using all sorts of data to compare ourselves, our success, and even self-esteem. And while I don't think it was written with some weirdo who spends too much time obsessing over the minutes he has until he dies, I found something to relate to and I think I'm a little better for it.

Brandon Writes

20 Feb 2024 at 13:53

Setting up Plex or Why the Heck Didn't I Do This Sooner?

 I've known about Plex forever. I've browsed their website multiple times over the years, and I guess I got it in my head that I would need to set up some sort of complicated server in order to run Plex in my home. So, I wrote it off as not something for me.

Since I recently cancelled almost all my streaming services, I've been relying on my own content to keep me entertained. This usually consists of either blu-rays/DVDs or digital content that I stick onto a thumb drive and plug into the back of my TV. The thumb drive process works great, but I'm limited by the space the drive can actually handle. That means I have to be rather picky on what I put on there at any given time and adding new content can be a bit of a pain.

Well, Saturday afternoon, I was thinking about Plex again and it occurred to me I have a desktop sitting in our office that is rarely used. It's nothing fancy, just a cheap HP All-in-One we bought at Costco three years ago, but I wondered how Plex would work if I installed it on there. Twenty minutes later, I was up and running and I cannot stop kicking myself for not doing this sooner. This is a life changer for me.

I made the mistake of doing some quick Plex searches and I found all the negative posts and recommendations for alternate programs, and maybe down the road I'll looking into that, but right now I'm just thrilled that I can stream my content with relative ease. Everything works great, it's quick, the mobile app was only five bucks, and it works on both my iPhone and iPad. So, for twenty minutes of my time and five bucks, I have my own personal streaming service.

I am actually in awe of the features that it includes as well as the super neat menu screens. I collect old sitcoms that have never had physical or digital releases, and I've been astonished to find that most of them have pre-built menu screens with cast lists and everything. The only content of mine that didn't show up already was a few random files I had downloaded that were ripped from VHS tapes like when Freddy Kruger hosted MTV or Nickelodeons New Years Eve 1998, but I was able to easily create a nice menu and poster for those files.

I think what I love so far is just having access to everything. I'm bad about downloading/ripping content to my external hard drive, and then just leaving it there. I have files that I've had for years that I haven't bothered watching just because of the inconvenience of needing to drag those onto a thumb drive and prioritize them over other files. Now, I have easy access to everything!

I know it's only been three days, but I'm thrilled with this decision. Once money becomes less of a concern, I plan on buying an additional drive to back up all my content and maybe I'll put together something more dedicated for Plex down the road. But for right now, I'm going to kick back and enjoy the heck out of not having to pay for streaming services and still enjoying the convenience.

Brandon Writes

19 Feb 2024 at 20:42

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