Hobbies

I’ll admit I try to do too much and end up with little time to enjoy anything. It’s a bad habit of mine. I get excited about far too many things and forget I don’t have time for them all.

In 2017 I’m gonna try and trim my list down. I’m also gonna cut out the junk TV time (it adds up).

The hobbies I’m most interested in dedicating time to in 2017 are:

Hiking:
I’ve always enjoyed it and some folks at work and I are going to start a hiking group. Plus the kids are getting to the age where they can do some entry level “hikes”. The other thing is about an hour north of the city there are literally hundreds and hundreds of trails to explore. I’m super excited about the potential and hope it doesn’t fade. I always love when I get out of the city and out in nature. If  you’re interested in going anytime, let me know. PS: I picked up this cool app for map making!

Music:
Both tracking new releases and making more of my own. I rarely if ever share any of the music I make. It’s not that it’s horrible (I think), it’s just mostly something I do because I really enjoy it. Finding time to do it has been the challenge. And I want to really make sure I dedicate some time to it this year on a regular basis.

Photography:
I’m really getting into photography. I’m already signed up to taking a film processing and darkroom lab class at Gowanus Dark Room. I picked up a few super cheap ($50) old 35MM cameras off Ebay and have been having a blast with them. Look for my shots over on my 365 site.

Archery:
Yeah archery. I picked up a bow last year and took a class over in Gowanus where they have a range. It’s so much fun. It’s like meditation. I really like it. I’m gunning for going once a week this year. That’s ambitious and probably won’t happen, but we’ll see.

Cooking & Dinner with Friends:
I’m hopeful we can have more of our good friends over and cook dinner together. There are few things I enjoy more!

I could add a dozen more things, but I have to make myself focus. And well, I dig this list. Here’s to 2017!

Dusting Off The Blog

Call it an ambitious start to 2017 or delusions of grandeur, but I’m dusting off the blog and want to post regularly this year.

It’s part of my goal of eliminating “junktime” on the computer and doing more of the things that make me feel productive and creative.

I’m also going to tackle a 365 photography project. You can follow that here

Here’s to 2017!

Dad

One month ago my dad died (it’s not something I made public so sorry to spring that on you all).

I’m fine. My family is fine. We have zero regrets. Truly. We were a close, loving family, and that peace is a remarkable feeling to have. The only memories I have are positive, loving ones and I realize how grateful and fortunate I am for that to be the case.

In the month since his passing, I’ve thought a lot about him. It’s hard to not be able to pick up the phone and just say, “Hey Dad”. Or see his smile. He was always smiling. He had a great smile. Still, I talk to him every single day. I ask his advice. Or just tell him I love him.

As a young father, I can see how much I’m like my father now. Kind and loving, but with a very fixed length of fuse. We are both extremely patient people, until we’re not. If that makes sense. Our families come first, second, and third. And while my dad was never a get on the floor type with me, he was always there for me. Always.

You see, my dad was a school teacher. So, when I got home from school my dad was getting home, too. And he had his summers off, so when I was out of school, he was there, too. We spent a lot of time at the Wildwood beach in the summers as a family. It’s still my happiest place in the world. I’ll tell you the man could have been a World Champion body surfer 🙂 I know one thing, I spent many a day riding on his back through the surf. He never seemed to tire of that.

I’ve got so many wonderful memories of my father. His ridiculous ability to calculate exact ETAs while driving. His precision in his penmanship. His handiness (even if his setup and cleanup times were 10 times longer that the actual chore, ha). His love and respect for my mother. His contentness. His lack of focus on materialistic things. His supreme knowledge of things you’d think he’d have no idea about. His love of tennis. His quirks. His love of getting a good head massage. His reverse-spoon ice cream eating technique (classic). His waddle later on in life.

Though if I had to distill things down to one memory – it’s easy – his voice while I wrestled. For some backstory, I wrestled for Paulsboro High School in South Jersey. That was a big deal. We never lost in my four years in high school. Paulsboro is wrestling. Our tiny gym would be packed to the gills. Thousands of people screaming and cheering. And among all that chaos and noise, I heard one voice. My dad’s. He always sat in the same spot. He would jerk and fidget and squirm in his seat as if we were wrestling in parallel. Somehow tied together. And it was his voice I’d hear. Not my coaches, not my teammates, not any other person in the gym. All of that faded out to silence. Just his voice got through. “Move!” “Shoot!”, “Get up!” “Good job!”.

The most remarkable thing is he never missed a single match. Not one. He was always there. Always in his same spot. Back row, top left just by the locker room door. I could look up and know win or lose he’d be there. He’d be cheering. He’d be proud. His voice would get through the crowd.

I miss that voice.

The Numbers (A Follow Up)

Yesterday I wrote about the engagement on Instagram versus other platforms.

Here’s a rundown of the (very) informal test numbers:

Instagram
26 Likes, 144 followers
Engagement Percentage = 16%

Twitter
3 Favorites, 610 followers
Engagement Percentage = .004%

Tumblr
5 Likes, 3131 followers
Engagement Percentage = .001%

Facebook
0 Likes, 356 followers
Engagement Percentage = 0%

Not surprising by any means. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Instagram is a beast.

Instagram Is Just A Beast

In a few years we may look back on Facebook buying Instagram for $1B as the bargain of the century. I say this as someone who’s not even that big a fan of Instagram and rarely uses it.

That said, I’ve started testing sharing from Pegg to Instagram. And whenever I do I’m blown away by Instagram’s engagement. Not only in sheer numbers, but also speed. Within minutes of posting something dozens of likes. And mind you I only have just over 100 followers. The engagement on Instagram crushes any other platform. It’s not even close.

My guess is most folks check Insta a few dozen times a day. Maybe more. And while Twitter can probably boast a similar stat, the “engagement” with posts (starring, retweeting, or replying) is far, far, far lower. As for other services (Tumblr, Facebook, etc) the numbers are even lower. In Tumblr’s case the numbers tend to only be high for viral posts. Things that skyrocket to popularity, while the vast majority (probably over 95% of posts) get no to a few likes. Facebook has the same problem it has always had – just so much content in the feed and its random algorithm means most folks never even see your post let alone get a chance to like it or comment on it. My posts there (since I post so infrequently to FB) get 1 or 2 likes that’s it.

But, back to Instagram. I haven’t posted to Insta in a few months. But, boom, as soon as I do the likes rack up. You see the same pattern with not just me, but with anyone, and especially celebrities. Take Kim Kardashian (really, please, someone take her away). Her posts on Instagram readily top the millions. Posting to other services they barely register. Maybe, maybe a few thousand, even when she has the same number of followers.

As I said at the beginning I’m not a big Instagram fan. It’s just not for me. It gets boring seeing the same photo (basically) over and over and over again (yes, we get it, nice sunset). Still, I tip my hat to them for building arguably the most successful, sticky, addictive, engaging social platform of all time.

It’s downright impressive.

The Death Of Average

When did average go away? When was it stabbed in the heart with fake, hyperbolic rhetoric?

I suppose “social media” is the culprit and the incessant desire to outdo one another…

“These pancakes are the most amazing thing ever!”
Says the person who will never return to that breakfast spot.

“Stop whatever you are doing and read this NOW! It’s incredible”
No, it’s not.

“OMG! This song is stunning, I’m in awe! Completely blown away”
Says the person who just listened to the first 15 seconds and will never listen to it again.

“I love my life so much. It’s beyond awesome”
Says the person lonely and depressed.

and my all-time favorite:

“This is AMAZEBALLS!!!”
Nope, you’re just desperate for attention and affirmation and you’re unoriginal on top of everything.

Let me let you in on a little secret – 99% of life is just average. Completely mundane and pedestrian. And there is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with that. Nada. There is, however, great danger when inflating the routine aspects of our lives. Moments become like empty sugar highs, so ginned up with accolades they leave one feeling deflated and depressed when the attention high fades. Or worse feeling inferior to others when you are most definitely not. And sadly, the only way to overcome it, is to pump up the next experience to even more absurdly distorted levels.

Perhaps I sound like a hater. I’m not trying to be. Really I’m not. If you want to celebrate life and let the world know, by all means do it! I fully support that. But, not everything is spectacular, amazing, awe-inspiring, stupendous, awesome, incredible, breathtaking, superhuman, or astonishing. It’s just life.

Elizabeth Warren

I don’t like to throw my hat, mouth, or any part of me in the political circus ring. I find it all so utterly nauseating and depressing. Today’s candidates are so ridiculously uninspiring (The Republican ones are downright frightening!). And while I had great hopes for Barack Obama and still admire the man for trying, he’s proven to be far less the man and leader he promised. Nowhere near “Yes, We Can” much more “Kind Of, But Not Really”.

There is one person though that gets me so excited I had to write about it – Elizabeth Warren.

There is something special about her. I can’t even put my finger on it. And I’m still not 100% convinced if she’s genuine or just brilliantly playing the other “common sense” side. I’m gonna say it’s the former and she’s genuine. I so want to believe there are still good, honest, hard-working representatives out there willing to fight for the people instead of corporations, lobbies, and special interests.

She’s passionate, smart, energetic, and uncompromising. Most of all I love that she believes. She believes people – when banded together for a common good – can overcome the corporations and lobbyists. I believe that, too. We far out number them. That will always be our advantage.

She keeps insisting she will not run for President. And again I believe her. Sadly. I would vote for her in a heartbeat. I’m sure the Hillary camp is petrified of her entering the race. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve asked her not to. That’s just how politics works sometimes. I sure hope not. I hope the decision was Warren’s and that one day, soon, she changes her mind and runs. We need more people like her though I don’t think we’re gonna get them any time soon.