Monday, May 8, 2017

I Love My iPhone 5S

I already wrote about gadgets. If you read that blog post you know that I love gadgets, but to me, a cell phone is a tool, not a toy. I use my Palm to keep me on time. I use my laptop for work. I use one of my tablets for work on the go when I must travel light.

With that in mind, I retired my old Samsung smart phone in favor of a refurbished iPhone 5S running the newest Apple iOS (10.3.1 at the time of this post).

To keep this phone well-protected I turned to Amazon. I found the "O-Case" in brown leather. It has a classy look and feel to it. The leather is luxurious and the stitching shows great attention to detail. In short, I love the way it looks and feels. 

In order for me to buy a case it has to be well-made. While I definitely prefer the look and feel of leather, it must have a thoughtful design and the stitching has to be straight and even. I want a product that looks as though care went into its manufacture.

There is a lot of cheap leather out there. Just like shoes, you can find junk, like Nubuck, and you can find patent leather that will serve you for many years. This case is the latter, not the former.

Why the iPhone 5S rather than the 6S like my wife. I prefer the smaller phone because I really only use it for communication and checking the weather. I don't want it to entertain me. I don't want to listen to music. I just want to carry a phone for emergencies or when I need to contact someone.

As for the case, I love an elegant look, a luxurious feel, and adequate protection for the phone. I also want it to fit comfortably in my shirt pocket or in a sport coat or jacket. I don't need a pen holder or flaps to make it stand up for watching movies. I can watch movies on one of my tablets if I choose to do so. This is, after all, a telephone as far as I am concerned.

If you want a practical phone, consider the iPhone 5S. There are lots of refurbished units available. If you want a top-quality, executive leather phone case, check out the O-Case at Amazon.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Meet the Real You

How well do you know yourself?

I always loved the outdoors. Every chance I had to run around in the wilderness, I took it. Every opportunity I had to hike, ride a bike, go fishing, or pursue some form or another of outdoor recreation I took it.

By the time I was twelve years old I knew that I wanted to specialize in the fly fishing business and make that my living. My plan was to tie flies, build fly rods, teach fly fishing and fly tying, guide, and write books and articles about it.

I was very lucky, it seems. I work with people every day who have no idea, whatsoever, what they would really LOVE to do if given the choice. How is that possible?

What Are Your Passions?

Do you have any passions-- things you truly love to do? What do you do for recreation? Do you have any hobbies? When you have "play time" what do you like to do? If you could turn one of those things into a way to make a living, would you do it?

Figuring out what it is that you would love to do for a living is the secret to life-long success. It helps you establish goals. It gives you direction. When you engage in something you truly love to do you have the highest probability of becoming successful in your field. Passion is the key. 

Passion makes all of your hard work worth it. When your work pays off and your goals have been met, your dream job has become a reality, then work is play. You don't hate waking up in the morning. Work doesn't feel like work at all.

If you could do anything you wanted, pick any occupation at all, leaving money out of the decision-making process, what would you choose?

Now, ask yourself, How can I turn this into money?

And Remember...

Measure success by accomplishment, not by money. Money buys convenience, but accomplishment buys satisfaction.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Music In the Air

When I was teaching fly fishing for a living I started every morning with a cup or two of freshly brewed coffee and quietly finger-picked my guitar while watching meandering eddies in the West Branch of the Delaware River.

Since returning to Ohio my mornings still include coffee and music, but, most of the time, the instrument of choice is a little ukulele.

I have had the pleasure of playing just about every brand of ukulele available today. I guess that's one of the advantages of publishing Ukulele Player Magazine. We were the first ukulele periodical to last more than a handful of issues since the instrument once again became popular in recent years.

Due to health issues, I had to take a break for a little while, but, the magazine is back in action and we had a great kick-off with feature artist Ronin Wong.

The next issue is just around the corner and will feature Spats White, an amazing performer with fifty-plus years in the entertainment business. Spats is a true artist and a troubadour. He sings, he tells stories, and he plays his little Martin ukulele with passion. Zealous, you betcha. Spats is one of New York City's best entertainers and he's a friend, besides.

This morning, I am enjoying the sweet tone of an Oscar Schmidt OU250SWK "Bell" ukulele. It is a vintage reissue of the old Lyon and Healy bell. Lyon and Healy became Washburn. US Music owns both Washburn and Oscar Schmidt (along with other popular music brands). So, this bell is the genuine article.

This Oscar Schmidt bell ukulele is a professional quality, solid wood instrument that is a joy to play and sounds as sweet as it looks. I confess, I did lower the action to suit my own preferences.

Music is one of my many passions. A little finger-picking, a little strumming, and a little coffee-- not a bad way to start the day.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Time never stops. April is more than half over and before you know it summer will be here.

I am mindful of the fact that every day in spring brings different weather conditions. One day the temperature is near eighty degrees and the next it's fifty. Today, it's raining and tomorrow, it's sunny, but the wind is really ripping.

This brings me to my next point. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

I have a passion for cycling. I always have. I'd much rather ride my bicycle outside, enjoying the rolling farmland around Mid Ohio-- it is much more exciting than riding on a trainer in my den. If given the choice a country road or a paved bike path wins every time. 

If you always find yourself waiting for perfect conditions before riding your bicycle, you will not ride much. My motto is ride when you can. I do skip outdoor riding when it is below fifty degrees or raining outside. But, at those times, I am on the trainer for at least twenty minutes or so before getting ready for work.

Life is too short to put off things you should do today. Just DO IT.

Procrastination is habit forming. Remember the immortal words of W. Clement Stone:

The best way to get something done is to DO IT NOW.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Missing A Day's Work is Never Fun

I've never been one for Ferris Bueller's Day Off. For me, missing a day's work is never really fun. If I am not at work, it means that I am really sick.

I worked at the corporate offices of MEI/Micro Center years ago. Four years-- I never missed a day of work. Even in the worst weather, I was always there. In fact, co-workers used to joke around about me sitting in my cubicle in the midst of a nuclear war.

Well, yesterday, I found myself calling in sick for my day-job. Believe me, I did not like doing so, but a cold hit me hard and fast and I wanted to get heavily medicated and sleep as much as possible in order to knock this bad boy out of me in time for planned weekend bike rides.

I am an avid cyclist. It is what I do to stay in shape. I've been hooked on cycling for fifty-four years. I started riding when I was four-years-old and never looked back.

Cycling is one of my passions. It's the gears, the road, the sights and sounds. It's the rolling hills and farmland. I get my kicks on two wheels, plain and simple. I love riding my bicycle and I feel great afterward.

It's Friday morning (1:50 AM) and I plan to be at work at 5:00 AM. I'll be pulling down a ten-hour day. It's my hope that I can work by myself as much as possible and not infect anyone. Simply put, this is a world in which corporations expect employees to show up and be productive regardless of medical issues. It would be great if we were all told to stay home until we are healthy and won't pass our germs around the workplace; alas, that is not likely to happen.

So, in a short time, I will be in the shower and getting dressed for a day at the office. I hope that working and staying busy will help me recover quickly. I also hope that nobody else comes down with this cold, but, that would most likely take divine intervention.

And so it is that I will go to work as usual and just hope for the best for everyone else.

Spring colds are no fun.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Call of the Gadgets

I have always loved gadgets. I just took delivery of a new Blackberry Playbook. This is the third one that I have owned and I believe I'll hang onto it this time.

First, in my opinion, the Blackberry Playbook was the very best tablet ever created in terms of construction quality. Second, the operating system (QNX) is the best multi-tasking platform I have ever found. The Apple iOS cannot compare with QNX when it comes to multi-tasking. Android OS is not even in the same league with Apple's mobile platform, let alone Blackberry's chosen operating system.

Regarding power management, the Blackberry will give you ten hours of performance on a single charge. The iOS quite a bit less. The Android OS, depending on what things are trying to run continually, more or less. My Lenovo A10-70 gives me close to twelve hours working on spreadsheets and databases with wireless disabled. The Blackberry is better in that respect. Its charge lasts longer when I am using wireless. Either one, you are wise to use "airplane mode" when you want maximum battery endurance.

A gadget has to be productive for me to consider it. In the picture on the right is an assortment of my favorite gadgets. From left to right, top to bottom, they are: Lenovo A10-70, Samsung smart phone (just used for calls), Palm Tungsten E2, Blackberry Playbook 64GB, Kindle Paperwhite.

The Lenovo came with a fantastic keyboard. I wish the one on my laptop had the tactile feel of that keyboard. It has a nice authoritative click and the key spacing and size makes it genuinely functional. Thank you, Lenovo.

Why do I want a seven inch Blackberry when I already have a Lenovo ten inch tablet? Because, I can take the Blackberry with me on cycling trips and use it to catalog all of the maps in PDF format to keep me navigating right.

The Palm Tungsten E2 is the King of Palm devices. A single battery charge gives me a month of use (yes, a month, really!) and it is the best organizer and daily planner ever invented. It is an address book, to do list, time-clock, an okay book reader, and you can even fill it with mindless games if you'd like.

The Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-book reader made, bar none. It is the easiest on the eyes and it looks like a printed book when you read on it. I can take lots of books with me in that one device (over a thousand). I have switched to reading almost all books in electronic format. I know a lot of you might really prefer the feel of a real book in hand. I understand that, believe me, but I love the fact that I don't need book cases that mostly attract dust and store books I have not read in years.

The smart phone? It's a phone. It is not a laptop. It is not efficient for e-mail. It is not a good book reader or web browser. If you use it for entertainment, you run the risk of having to make a call in an emergency and having no power. I prefer stupid phones anyway. So, my smart phone is a basic model because, as much as I hate smart phones, I cannot stand flip phones.

By the way, I paid cash for my phone (new with no contract). I rooted it, meaning I took total control of it and removed all the extraneous crap applets that I did not want and disabled those that I did not want running continually but might need at some point. I only use it for making calls. That's it.

All that to say that for me to love a gadget, it has to work well and make me more productive, sufficiently entertain me should I want that, and help me communicate when I am on the road-- even on a bicycle if need be.

Why have I not fallen for the idea of getting a phone that can do it all? Because, they do not exist and likely never will.

Oh, by the way, I love cameras.... real cameras... professional quality cameras. All of those smart phone pix you see all over the 'net, well, compared to what a good digital SLR can do, they suck. It's a phone, after all.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrate the Coming of Spring

Spring is upon us. This is the spring Equinox. Well, I am ready for warm weather. Hop-to... come on... you know how this works. Well, it's not that easy, but, as sure as the sun rises, we will have warmer weather.

Seasons come and go. Time passes quickly and before you know it winter will be just around the corner. Carpe diem!

We have to make the most of the time we have because once a day ends, we cannot relive it. Time is fleeting.

If you have not thought about life goals, it's time you do so. Ask yourself: "Where do I want to be?" Think about your job, your home, even your hobbies. Do you want to change anything? If so, start today by making it a goal.

I have goals. I always have had goals. I've accomplished most of the "life goals" I set for myself years ago. Now, I want to make more goals for the remainder of my life. We are at our best when we are working toward fulfilling our goals. Without them, we have no direction and we end up meandering through the days, weeks, and months of the year. In the end, we go through this same routine and we accomplish nothing.

We are all the sum-total of our thoughts and experiences. In order to be better tomorrow-- or be more successful-- we have to start today by laying the groundwork. Start with positive thinking and visualize how and where you want to live, where you want to work, and how you plan to get there.

Making goals is the first step.