Saturday, March 17, 2018

Technology...and Other Time Robbers!

I work at a state university. The primary focus of my job is to assist faculty with paperwork needed to plan and establish new degree programs. I do a lot of other things, too. Today I've been reading through requests that will be taken up next week by leadership in our university system. They will be talking a great deal about STEM disciplines. What is STEM? It's an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. As our society progresses, more and more focus is placed on these areas of study. I don't have any objection to that, in general, and I believe we must focus on these things if we hope to have any leadership status in the world. I also believe we need much more to make our world a good place to live!

When I think about technological advances, I wonder whether they are meant to help us through life, or whether they are meant at times to simply distract us from it! Think of all the devices we use. Are they beneficial to enhance our life experiences and be useful, or do they only entertain us and take us away from where real life is happening?

Now, you may think I'm being very hypocritical at the moment! After all, I'm sitting at a computer writing a blog post. Sometimes - even often - I use my blog to entertain or promote crafting, which may not be viewed as a critical life function. Remember when I said we need more than STEM? My crafting is a stress-relieving activity that allows me to decompress after difficult activities, and it helps me to re-center my thoughts. When I'm focused on a craft project, I'm rarely stressed! And importantly, I have something to show for my efforts. My projects bring me joy, and they often bring joy to others, too.

Some may suggest that their electronic devices, like cell phones, tablets, gaming equipment, etc., are also stress relievers. Perhaps that is true. But when do these devices stop being stress relievers, and start being time robbers that take us away from life? For example, I love to play Candy Crush Saga. I play it all the time. I just realized today that I've played more than 1300 screens! Some I've mastered in a single pass; others have taken weeks to win. I cannot even fathom how much of my life I have spent on these useless activities. They are addictive and they are life-distracting! Really?!? What am I thinking?!?!?

There are a great number of skills that I wish to learn in life - and many others that I want to practice more. I believe it is time to turn away from silly time robbers and get on with it. I want to do more things that will bring joy to others and help them avoid time robbers, too.

My greatest hope is that you will read this post, identify worthless activities in your own life, and then figure out how to replace them with something more useful. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have fun! Of course you should. But maybe there's a better way!

Anyway, thanks for dropping by. I hope you'll come again.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Downside of Office Windows

I have been so blessed over the course of my life to have good jobs. The one I have now comes complete with a walled office, door, and two large windows that overlook the state employees’ credit union here in the city. I am very pleased with this circumstance, which leaves little room for complaint aside from the cold air that permeates the windows in the winter. I have an L-shaped desk, cushy rolling chair, two large computer monitors atop a VariDesk that allows me the option to sit or stand throughout the day, and a nice mat to stand on while I work. So how could there possibly be a downside, right?

Well, as I looked around today inside and outside of my office, I realized that I have all the comforts of home right here at my fingertips. I have my diplomas on the wall, a ‘struggling’ kolanchoe plant in my windowsill, an electric pitcher to heat water, a jar of Folger’s, a coffee cup, and a snack basket. I can walk three doors down and refrigerate my lunch or heat it in the microwave. Really nice! Finally, I have a large (printed) painting on the wall that reminds me of the Tuscan countryside. I like it because it relaxes me to think of walking there. Hmmm. Still not seeing it, are you?

Then, as I turn around in my cushy chair, I see a harsher reality. A tall bookcase filled with white-vinyl binders reminds me that there are a great many documents that need to be scanned and disposed of, my filing cabinet needs to be culled and updated, and visitors’ chairs around a table remind me that my luxurious accommodations can be invaded at any moment by friend or foe. The phone on my desk stays quite busy, too, for both incoming and outgoing calls. My computer monitors beep, buzz, and belch out more work by the hour. Here in my little microcosm (a world in miniature) I can sit (or stand) for 8, 10, 12, or 14 hours a day and have very little need for anything additional.

Therein lies the problem! I can spend massive amounts of time working – and can actually sit at my desk and watch the world pass me by! The busy credit union next door teems with vehicles from morning to night, and the five-lane highway in front of it is constantly filled with people coming and going. Season after season I watch the trees bud and fade – and long to feel the gentle breeze that makes them sway. I watch the squirrels hop from branch to branch and wonder what it’s like to soar through the air in what appears to me precarious motion. The windows don’t yield, but stand like solid objects in front of my path. The mini-blinds sit like prison bars, blocking me from freedom and life on the outside.

So, you see, there is a downside to having office windows. Despite the natural light they give, they are also a constant reminder that freedom can only be seen – and seldom tasted.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Games are Afoot!

Hi, everybody.

I'm getting to enjoy a rare treat right for a couple of weeks. I'm not the greatest sports fan there ever was, but when the Olympic Games roll around, I'm riveted! This past week, in short bits and pieces fit in around my hectic workload, I've taken a little time to sit down to watch the Winter Olympics with DH. They're in PyeongChang, South Korea, this time. Despite the early political banter about a unified Korean team, the Games have settled into their normal rhythm, and athletes are skiing, skating, shooting, jumping, racing, flying, and winning medals. The USA has been low on medals thus far, but I don't mind. All of the athletes have been training for this for most of their lives, and I'm happy they get to compete. Go world!

I have been reminiscing about the "good ole' days," you know back in the '80s and '90s when figure skating was a little bigger on the skating and a little lighter on the jumps. In fact, I think I've always liked the ice dancing a lot better than the actual figure skating. I was eager to know whether I could locate my all-time favorite routines. There are two: Torvill and Dean skating to "Bolero," and Klimova and Ponomarenko skating to "Symphony No. 5" by Tchaikovsky. Can you believe I found both of them on YouTube?!?!  I could hardly believe it. Check them out! They're both breathtaking to me!

Imagine Dean as the matador and Torvill as his cape. That's the basis of the dance.  The couple won Olympic gold for this routine at the 1984 Olympics. They're my #2 favorite.

My #1 favorite is Klimova and Ponomarenko. The announcer will give you the story line about lost love, which is so poignant. I remember this routine being highly controversial because of the "prop" the couple used in the routine. See what you think of this 1992 World Challenge of Champions competition. Absolutely unforgettable!