Deskspace Decorum – What’s your style?

Image courtesy – twitter.com/jeorgepaulo_

Greetings all, Happy Holidays to you.

It’s Sunday night about 9:28pm as I write this post and sip on some hot chocolate. For many of us, it’s back to work tomorrow. Fortunately for me, it’s a scheduled workday from hime, but a workday nonetheless.

When it comes to the space in which you work (your personal workspace), whatever that work may be, what kind of environment do you create, what is your preferred decorum? Are you somewhat (or definitely) a stickler for ergonomics that help your productivity actions flow better – such as desk and chair type, lighting, monitor size, desktop vs laptop or both? Do you desire a clean and neat workspace, or is the opposite not an issue?

For me, I’m far from a Felix Unger type (for those of you that recognize that name) BUT I strive and prefer to keep a very neat desk space when I work. Stuff all over the place speaks disorganization and mess to me, the clutter is a mental distraction big time. All of my personal desks at home are of the legendary IKEA Jerker desk, which has been long discontinued. I happened to have three of them: one in the guest room/office and two in my recording studio. You can see a drawing of the standard Jerker without the accessories below:

Here’s actual picture of one assembled (not mine, but I have the same color wood):

Here’s a very close shot of one of the two in my recording studio, of which use the two swivel shelves shown above, along with a second shelf:

In any event, yes, I’m all about the ergonomics as well – having everything easily reachable, etc. I’m not one that has the cash to burn on one of those expensive Herman Miller Aero chairs but a good office chair definitely helps the flow. Lighting whether a desk lamp or overhead lighting (of the right hue/intensity – I don’t like bright light working conditions) is definitely important as well. All in all, gotta keep it neat and clean.

I won’t get into the desk and computer accessories, but an attractive visual aspect is one I generally try to keep. As for the office at work, they gave us nice, adjustable standing desks, so I take advantage of that during the day. Talk about workplace ups and downs! (Ok, yeah that’s corny!!)

How about you? What’s your environment like?

Thanks for the read – have a great week.

Fresh!

I Want My MTV (and other music based shows)

Remember that very popular track by Dire Straits? (listening to it as I type this post, as a matter of fact, it’s on repeat). I grew up watching MTV religiously, as well as BET’s Video Soul, VH1, and other similar music video shows broadcasted all day and into the late night. It was an era when such shows bridged the hit songs you heard on commercial radio with their video debuts that we were all very excited to see. This videos, many times, were everything from conceptual works of art to live performances of the singer and/or band that performed the song. There was a certain excitement brought by the host of the show segment that sometimes had you on the edge of your seat clamoring for this hot debut. As a bonus, your host would actually interview the artist or band. Here’s a favorite video of mine – Donnie Simpson on Video Soul interviewing The Time, Pt 1. Donnie Simpson on Video Soul interviewing The Time, Pt 1.

This video shows not only brought the visual aspects to the records we loved, right into your living room, so to speak, but gave the records an entirely different dimension of the song, but there were also the live music shows prior to the “MTV era”. I was a musician growing up in the 70s, picking up the guitar in 1977 and having these following shows on TV were paramount to my early development and growth as a guitarist:

  • Soul Train
  • Soul Alive (the local NYC Soul Train copycat)
  • Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert (DKRC)
  • Midnight Special

All these shows brought the live artist/band concert vibe, again, into your living room. I can remember watching both DKRC and Midnight Special well into 1am when they were finishing up. What I liked about both those programs were that they featured many rock acts that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise had either show not existed. After some time, both DKRC and Midnight Special began to feature more R&B/funk acts but it was Soul Train and Soul Alive that held the trophy for featuring R&B/SouL/Funk and disco acts regularly. It was actually Soul Train that made me want to become a guitarist.

Fast forwarding to today, it’s evident that YouTube killed the MTV/live music show era. The 24/7 format is obviously convenient but many things have changed along the way, including the charm that inhabited that same era. It was definitely a fine time of musical and cultural development across the board.

Oceans of rhythm,

Fresh

Where on earth…have you been?

Hello…

I hope this post finds you well. Right now, I’m finding myself wanted some hot chocolate because my daily water intake is that of 32 ounces of being ice cold, so I definitely need to warm up (even with this hoodie on).

The other day I was thinking about all the places I’ve been able to visit on this earth and there are many more I’d like to visit in my time allowed here.

I was born and raised in the US, New Jersey to be exact. I started traveling to an early ag, many times, to the island of Jamaica, for reasons you can probably guess. At that same time frame, but for not as often, I also traveled to Guyana. In my younger years, those were the two places outside of my homeland, that my feet were planted in. As I got older, there were many states in North America that I frequented, they are as follows:

  • New York
  • Connecticut (where I attended college)
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • North Carolina
  • California (mainly for business travel)
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Virginia
  • Marlyand
  • District of Columbia
  • Rhode Island
  • New Mexico

I think that sums it up. After starting my career, I spent a fair amount of time travel back and forth to Canada, as I was in a long distance relationship with a woman who worked in Toronto. Working for Continental Airlines, at the time, made it quite convenient (and cheap to fly SA), so no complaints there. I even contemplated moving there at one point.

Later on, I spent my honeymoon in Aruba for a week and years later was afforded to travel to Guam on business and that trip also afforded me to visit Japan and Hawaii, so I’m glad I was able to add those to my list of places I got to trod. The Guam trip is quite memorable. Alas, those places round out the list of places my feet trod. There are still many places I’d like to visit on vacation but I haven’t given it much thought as to where the next stop would be. Maybe, one day I will.

Hasta…

Fresh!

Digital Day Off (DDO) – An exercise in virtual abstinence

This blog post was originally published back in May 2010. Over the last 12 years, a lot has happened in the world of digital consumer technology in the area of social media and mobile devices, though I believe the grip of such has not lessened. I’ve had many discussions with people about said effects and read many articles and one highly recommended book – Deep Work by Cal Newport that has allowed me to rethink and strive to succeed in lessening my “digital footprint”. I will admit that the results of said rethinking haven’t been as successful as I’ve hoped but as my friend Darrenkeith says “…that’s all on me”. With that, I thought it was fitting to repost the weblog. The dates and times have changed for the subject content hasn’t.

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Hello Readers…

I hope all is well with you. and that your Memorial Day will be or was spent, to some extent, doing what the holiday was created for – in memory of the men and women in our armed forces. Those that are currently serving and have served for us in all capacities.

Well, it came to fruition this weekend, an experiment I’d been wanting to conduct for about a month now. Yes, the DDO (dedicated day offline) happened yesterday. There are a few of you that I had mentioned this concept to in the last month. I had two particular conversations with Deb Lee, @dallisonlee, professional organizer, on this topic (some of you may know I’ve been a contributing author to her Organize To Revitalize blog on the subject of my adventures in time management and the technology that can aid it). I initially called it a “Digital Day Off”, but thought the term was too broad, broad enough that it would have to included most, if not all, things digital (video games (though I’m not a gamer)), the use of mobile phones, HDTV, etc). My reason for conducting this exercise of “virtual abstinence” was to assess the amount of time I do spend online and how much of it, spent doing certain activities (largely related to social networking), is actually robbing me of time better spent reaching goals. Interestingly enough, the day I had the conversation with Deb, this article appeared in The Post.

My first foray into social networking came back in 2000 via membership to Blackplanet. I actually joined by way of helping a coworker design her site page. I was then that I began to learn the basics of website design (within the HTML code constraints for what Blackplanet would allow). After getting a taste of social networking there, it was basically onto Myspace and Yahoo 360, Vox, blogging from my own website, various IM clients (AIM, Yahoo IM, MSN Messenger), then Twitter, and finally FB (the latter I’ve since left about two weekends ago). Along with the social networking, I always used the net for two basic things – work, and as a learning tool for basically five areas of interest – music production, technology, photography, financial literacy, and web design. Let’s now add the mobile web, and there you have it, a communications medium, now in the palm of your hand, deeply woven into the course of our everyday lives. A communications medium, whose benefits (as well as its negative aspects) range far and wide Looking over the last 10 years of being a regular passenger on the information highway, but growing up through college my first two years of college WITHOUT the internet (fancy that, huh?), I began to remember what life was like without it, and how I spent my time without it. While I can only speak for myself, my assessment was that more time was wasted on the info highway than not. This assessment caused me to purposely conduct the experiment during a normal day – not a day or timeframe where I would be away from the net for whatever reasons (vacation, family visits, etc), but during a time where it was always a mouse click (or similar) away. It created a great challenge in overcoming the temptation to connect. As inferred above, it was done as a matter of habit assessment more than anything else, but the correlation to time management is there. In looking back on my regular online activities, I saw that I could have altered them to achieve what always seems more impossible than not (with my busy schedule) – knocking tasks off my to-do list. Was a DDO really necessary to make this assessment of time management? No, I could have just decided to allot only a certain amount of time online of every aspect of my online daily routines (which probably could have been easier).

The outcome of the experiment allowed me to use a good part of my regular online time time to improve my financial budgeting/investment literacy and revamp a financial improvement SPD (systematic plan of development) for savings, investing, debt reduction and retirement . I also got a great nap in during the early hours of the afternoon ;-). In retrospect, it made assess the extent of my habitual behavior and constant temptation to be “connected”. I won’t say that all possess it to an extent (my wife is a good example of one who spends very little time on the internet – but get rid of the TVs in the house and …never mind…you see the point I am generally illustrating – 🙂 ).

Now that I’ve taken my first DDO, purposely, I feel it’ll be something that I’ll regularly do, maybe more than just once a week. Curbing time daily spent online is, of course, something to throw into the mix as well, but it wasn’t until today that I really see how a forced day off (for me) is beneficial. The time is currently 11:44 EST, and this DDO will officially be over in less than 16 mins, but I’ve learned some valuable things on a personal level. That’s always a good thing. Back to the SPD. Forget the government, I want to create a stimulus package for my own economic situation.

peace.
F!

Climate Change is real (70 degF – 12 Nov)

A few weeks ago, I was headed to the gym on Saturday afternoon. I had not been out all day and didn’t check the forecast, all I know is that it was bright and sunny out. As I left the house, I noticed that it was warmer than expected, but I pressed on. Before getting to the gym, I made a casual stop at Starbucks (a norm on a Saturday), with journal in hand. After ordering my beverage, I decided to sit outside vice in the store and began writing a journal entry. Once again, I noticed how warm it was. It led me to think about all the news reporting on climate change (that I really haven’t followed very closely) but, more so, I began to think how COLD it was in the month of November, living in NJ as a young boy. For the midatlantic, I never fathomed how it could be this warm in November and at the same time, having VIVID memories of walking to grade school in mid-30 deg F for most of the entire month…brrr.

The next day, the temperatures changed from an unusually 70 deg F to a seasonable 40 deg F…just like that. While I never mind warm weather, it just seemed weird having it that warmer in a month I’ve always associated with COLD.

Today it’s rainy and 55 deg F, with a low of 44 and a predicted high of 61 deg F (which at 2:22pm right now, I don’t think we’ll see).

I don’t think we’ll see any warm temperatures until at least spring time so for now, I’ll grab my favorite hoodie and head out.

Oceans of rhythm….

Fresh

Do you continue to use archaic technology and why?

Greetings all. I this post finds you well.

Raise your hand, toot a horn, etc, if you know what this above image is. In case you don’t know, it’s a device that allowed me to personally and really get introduced to the world of the information highway (and I use this term as a substitute for the “internet” and not the web, because I watched the birth of the internet),

This dialup 56K modem is a device that was connected to both a computer and a telephone line that allow a user to connect to the internet. I remember owning a 14.4k USRobotics computer in the early 90s to allow me to connect to bulletin board systems (or BBSs), like DC’s digitalNation, with my new Mac Classic II computer. Those were the glory days and I even remember using slower modems at work.

Is it archaic? Sure it is, compared to where we’ve evolved to at present. Would I ever use it again? Definitely not, and now that I think of it, I don’t even think I could, if I wanted to. However, based on the definition of “archaic”, let me get to the question stated in the post title: Do you continue to use archaic technology and why? The answer for me is not only yes, but a resounding yes! I’ll explain why.

There are basically only two reasons why I choose to use archaic technology:

  • 1 – Under various circumstances, the use of archaic technology can continue to serve a purpose in maintaining and sustaining certain processes that can still be executed in the midst of using current technology created to replace it.
  • 2 – There is a certain enjoyment, a certain level of fulfillment in continuing to use archaic technology despite it being often times inconvenient, slower, tedious, etc compared to getting the same “tasks” done or reaching the same end goal. I’ll elaborate further.

First, I’ve been recording and producing music in various stages of my home recording studio for decades and, of course, recording technology (hardware and software) has and continues to go through upgrades and updates, putting consumers in a position to continually make a choice (sometimes being forced to) for upgrading their hardware and updating their software environments. The easiest path to take (if chosen and possible) is to do just that – upgrade and update. That path will allow for the most seamless continuity for getting the job done. One of the big reasons for that is hardware vendors and software developers, over time, discontinue support and manufacturing of the same items that have served you so well in your production environment.

Suppose you decide to forgo upgrading and/or updating items in your current production environment for whatever reasons you choose. You’re then left to use the current tech you have, which may well be on its way to be already considered archaic. This requires you to also source said hardware, especially, in case what you have fails to serve you (thank goodness for various sites like eBay, Reverb, Craigslist, and tons of other marketplaces that may allow you to still get said hardware). If you’re in luck, you can continue to maintain and use what you have, within the constraints you’ve always known, but sacrificing a faster, more convenient way of doing things. Being involved in music production for so long, I can tell you that many still go this route for reasons I won’t get into here.

On the software side, especially with mobile apps, this can be achieved too but via a more difficult approach. Smart phone and tablet mobile apps are constantly being updated due to the respective device OS (and device hardware) maturation, and what ends up happening is that mobile app developers eventually stop supporting apps for use with newer devices and their respective operating systems. If you like the way a specific does it job, you’re then forced to not only ensure that app stays on your current device but keeping the device running as well. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. What needs to be taken into consideration even goes further – if the app depends on connecting to a website for operation (as in the case of Nike’s sunsetted Nike Fuel apps back in 2018), if that website goes down, you’re out of luck even if you maintain the mobile app and device it resides on.

Secondly, using archaic technology could simply (and oftentimes) just be a simple desire to experience all that is associated with the use of it from days gone by. Well known examples/approaches follow:

  • mp3/audio players
  • music CDs
  • music cassettes and players
  • vinyl records/turntables
  • letter writing (plain old pen and paper/stationary)
  • minidiscs
  • typewriters
  • analog and digital tape recorders
  • hardware synthesizers/samplers/drum machines

All of these involve more inconveniences than the technologies that have replaced them, simply because the advancements of digital technology, internet connectivity, and GUIs make for far simpler and faster operations. Yet and still, there are many reasons, like use experience, associated memories, and the like, which cause those to continue using such technologies even in the midst of said ” inconveniences” .

So, back to the question at hand – do you and, if so, why?

Thanks for the read. Have a great day/night.

Fresh!

Giving Thanks (today and always)

Greetings All…

Today is designated as Thanksgiving Day, here in the US. For those who are celebrating it, amongst all the commercialism and such, I hope that you are enjoying it. Whether you are solo or amongst family and/or friends, by virtue of the fact that you are reading this, you have something to be thankful for, I’m certain.

It’s been a quiet day of relaxing and dinner with my immediate family, no visitors, other than my sister who just popped by for a little bit, after seeing Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She lives about 10 mins away and is my own family here in the area.

Food was delicious as usual, but since we weren’t hosting this year, there’s not a ton of leftovers. My wife and I started the day as we have many Thanksgivings in the past…attending and participating in Thanksgiving Day service. Right now, my sister just left and the Giants-Dallas game is on so I’m going to keep this post short and do what I don’t often do..go sit down and be still(er), lol, for a change.

Peace and blessings to you, today and everyday

Fresh

Pet Peeves of text (and similar) messaging communications 

“Did you get my text?”

Greetings all – hope all is well with you this week.

Text messaging nee SMS aka short messaging system. Frankly, this ubiquitous form of communication is still revolutionary and extremely convenient. It’s so helpful in so many situations and is a largely used time saver when there’s a need to communicate. I, like you, use it daily and I’m glad such technology was created.

That said, I personally feel there are definite downsides to using text messaging as a primary form of communications. When I say primary, I’m not assuming this includes in emergency cases, but moreso as a substitute for picking up the phone to actually talk to someone. I was talking with Darrenkeith sometime ago about texting vs talking on the phone. He prefers the former, vs the latter, for his desired way to communicate – which is totally fine – it’s a personality thing anyway you slice it.

For me, I’ve found that that many DO use texting as a substitute method for engaging in conversations longer than what I think SMS was created for (especially by virtue of its name! LOL). I think there are those (not all) who prefer to use it as a primary form communication expect others do also and think that the receiver’s phone is their possession 24/7. When someone asks me “did you get my text”, it implies to me they their message had some level of urgency above a casual “Hi” or similar. I, on the other hand (after being asked), say that it had zero urgency, if you couldn’t pick up the phone and call 🙂 . I think texting can also be like other non-face-to-face communication and can serve as a point of avoidance, whether that is true or not, can only be confirmed by the messenger. Oh, and don’t get me started on group text messages – while they can and do have utility under certain circumstances, most fo the ones I get are long and annoying – no offense to those that get wrapped up in them 🙂

Today I thought of a few friends I haven’t been in touch with for over a year, I started to text then to see what’s new, but decided to take the effort to make a phone call, the extra effort is old fashioned but I believe far more valuable. While you generally won’t save an audio conversation for later review (as you can with a text), the rest of the aspects of that audio conversation can leave a longer impression than any text message your can save in the cloud, IMHO.

Namaste,

Fresh!

The art of listening to music (redux/repost)

Image: DavidMG/Shutterstock.com

The other day, my coworker paid his usual visit to my office to talk about his audiophile hobby. He has a very extensive vinyl collection and has invested thousands of dollars into his audio system. He’s not much older than me, and even though I gave up playing vinyl over 20 years ago, I can directly relate to the experience of not only listening to vinyl but listening to music via other physical media like CD, cassette, and minidisc. There is a certain total experience you get from doing the latter vs primarily listening to music via streaming. I first spoke of this in a previous blog I posted in Dec 2020.

Almost two years. I still say streaming makes music, and the listening experience disposable. Most times, we stream music as a background activity – especially because it is during when we’re mobile. This is not to say there were never times in the pre-streaming age, that listening to music any other way was done always as the primary focus, but I think you get what I mean and where I’m going with this. I streaming music in the background all the time, whether while driving or at home but, as previously posted, when its time for me to listen to my favorite artists, I dedicate time to sit down with the physical CD so I can enjoy all the tactile aspects of the listening experience – physical artwork, putting the device in the player, reading liner credits, etc. While I haven’t been paying attention to CD sales, I just learned that they are not only making a comeback, but reissues are now being sold with booklets, giving much more backstory than the normal CD liner notes give – that’s my way of totally enhancing the experience.

There are tons of articles out there comparing streaming to (fill in your favorite way to listen) so I won’t reference them here, but instead, ask yourself what’s your preferred way of really getting into your favorite tunes? I like streaming playlists or actual genre channels off Youtube while doing certain types of work (like writing this post) but, on the contrary, I don’t like to listen to music when doing gym workouts. To each his/her own, YMMV.

Thanks, as always, for the read!

Fresh!

The Effect of Motivational Books/Quotes 

If you’ve been on social media for even a short amount of time (let alone reading books regularly for that same amount of time or even far longer), you’ve come across motivational quotes. I’d say the immediacy of platforms like Twitter and especially Instagram make seeing them unavoidable, let alone searching the web to find them. Add to that those who care social media influencers in this space, and there you have it (be right back, need more chocolate chip cookies…)

Ok, back. Considering the myriad of motivational quotes, speakers, influencers, etc, the question is – how do motivational quotes effect you? For me, I guess the effect depends on how they align with my daily life, although I’ve seen/heard many that are profoundly motivational that don’t necessarily align with my day-to-day and/or the paths I strive to follow for me. The “effect”, either way, becomes more significant if I tend to act on said quote, or strive to, as time goes by.

The action being taken (and the associated consistency/repetition of said action) leads me to how I look at the meaning of the word “motivate”. A common definition reads as such:

mo·ti·va·tion /ˌmōdəˈvāSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

I extend that definition to always include the cause for the reason, or the catalyst for it, and to me, that invariably comes from an emotional state. More often than not, one is motivated to do something based on their emotional state. For one that regularly exercises and works out, I often see people looking for others or things to motivate them to exercise and I often ask the question, “What if these people never received the motivation from a person, place, or thing to exercise..would they?”

Therein lies the difference between “motivation” and “discipline”. Being motivated to do something is always based on one’s emotional state, even as well as the best intentions, BUT, discipline is driven from within and always occurs without motivation. This is not to say that motivation doesn’t strengthen discipline, however, “discipline trumps motivation” each and every time.

I think, as alluded to above, motivational quotes and statements can be indeed useful and helpful. I have a folder full of screen shots I’ve collected from Instagram that I keep in a folder called “Daily Road”. They are inspirational as well, and most have to do with strengthening productivity but all pretty much drive “doing your best for you”. I oftentimes take time to just read them, but the true value comes from consistently acting upon them. The frequency of such, even after reading them repeatedly, often lets me know if it’s just a “feel good” (cue the cheerleader shouts), of am I really past any type of motivational feeling and letting discipline drive for the best.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

Oceans of rhythm…

Fresh