Take a Micro Breather!

In our busy, hurry up world, it’s easy to overlook our surroundings. We’re so consumed with what we’re doing, we forget to stop and simply take a look to appreciate our surroundings. Now, we’ve probably heard the advice to “stop and smell the roses” and its good advice and too few people take it, but even those who do, usually take it to mean not working every weekend or being sure to take a vacation over several days or weeks to recharge.

 

But, even in the midst of working, one can, and probably should, take what I would call a “microbreather“, as well, that is, a short break, just to take in the day for a minute.

Here’s a microbreather I took while distributing fliers door to door in January, 2017. Beautiful!

 

I’ve learned to do this. I work outside and while I’m out, I will stop at times, just to take a look and appreciate my surroundings. Now, I do work outside and live in the Portland, Oregon area, so there is much natural beauty to see, even in and from downtown.

 

But, even if you work indoors or in a not so beautiful setting, sometimes just stopping and taking in your surroundings can still relieve some of your stress anyway. And if you think there’s nothing to “take in” in taking a look at a cubicle with some paper clips in a container on it, or some barrels next to the outside wall of a factory building, or some train tracks in an industrial area, just remember that there are artists and photographers who get inspiration and create great art and/or documentation from just such mundane or not so beautiful real life scenes.

 

 

These microbreathers need only take a few seconds, but, at least for me, they do keep me recharged for the day. And they are so easy to take. But please, don’t skimp, on stopping to smell the roses big time once in a while, too!

You’ll be better for it!

 

 

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“Be Here, Be Now”, A Good Rule of Driving to Remember

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With the advent of mobile phones and built-in communications centers in cars, distracted driving has become more of a problem. And, I suspect it may be responsible for more accidents than we think.

However, even without the instant portable modes of communication we have today, the potential for distracted driving is still there.

Just your own thoughts can be enough to distract you. Say you have an argument with your significant other, then go out in the car. Chances are, that argument will still be on your mind as your driving down the road. And it doesn’t have to be an argument, either. How many of us have thought about how we’d spend the money if we won the lottery with the ticket we’re driving to the store to buy? Or the activities we’re looking forward to doing while driving to that great resort or camping spot? Or about seeing that favorite relative as we’re driving to the airport to pick them up? Or a million other things that can come into one’s head?

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Well, whenever I think my mind may start to wander as I’m driving, I say to myself, “Be here, be now!” In other words, telling myself to pay attention to my driving. And it’s true. Those other thoughts can wait. If you’re worried about something or have some problem to solve, you can’t do anything about it while you’re driving! And don’t worry, you’re already going in the right direction to buy that lottery ticket or pick up that relative, and they’ll be waiting for you.

I’ve seen a few accidents in person and some on video that may well have been caused by drivers distracted by mere thoughts.

So, if you want to stay safe on the road, remember, Be here, Be now!

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Door to Door? Be Safe and Courteous!

So, you’re going door to door, are you? Well, whether it’s distributing fliers, selling items, handing out notices, getting sign-ups, and, whether it’s volunteer work, selling for a school or organization, a full or part-time job getting the word out, letting people know of an event or lost pet, or any other legitimate reason, etc., there are some things to know.

Go When You Can Be Seen

Firstly, do go when you can be seen, that is, during the day. Morning and early evening is ok, too, so long as there is sufficient light for someone to see what you look like. If it’s too dark to see what other people look like, then it’s too dark to be going door to door. For one, you might not see the potential assailant. And, for those whose homes you are going to, you’ll appear as just a dark menacing shape to them and, they may be extra suspicious of you, and for good reason. In some cases, their reaction may be extreme. Some years back, I heard of a guy getting shot as he and his group were knocking on doors, selling items to people. They had gone out late at night and one person, thinking it was a home invasion robbery about to start, shot one of the door to door salespeople.  Most people won’t react to that extreme, but they may not open the door, and probably won’t want to listen to what you have to say, and you won’t have a chance to get them the information or make the sale. During the daytime, those same people, seeing what you look like instead of some dark, menacing shape, will be much more likely to welcome you, as they are much less likely to feel threatened.

 

Go to the Front Door

Obviously, if your going door to door requires actual contact with the resident, you be going to the front door. But, even if you’re just distributing literature with no need to contact the resident directly, it’s still always a good idea to go to the front door. Even if there’s no adequate place to put the flier. If there really isn’t a place or way to put the flier in the front door area, then skip that house. If neighbors see you going to the garage, or especially, the back yard, they could rightly become suspicious and call the police on you. Always only go to the front door area!

Also, if you come up to a house and the front door is ajar or fully open and no one is there, skip that house. It’s most likely the owner just forgot to close the door and is probably inside, but, my feeling is that, if something in the house goes missing, you might be held liable and suspected of theft, even if you had nothing to do with it. It’s just a measure of self-protection that I believe in.

Finally, don’t place items you’re distributing in the resident’s mailbox or mail slot. I know in the United States, it is illegal to place non-postal or non-postage-paid items in any postal receptacle or slot, and this may be the case in other countries, too.

Respect “No Soliciting” Signs

I still distribute fliers and I do respect “No Soliciting” signs. While it’s most likely true that most people who put up those signs don’t want their doorbell rung or the knock on the door and wouldn’t mind the simple placing of a flier at their doorstep, it’s still a good idea to pay heed to those signs, regardless. When people see that you respect their wishes, they tend to respect you more. And, only if you are not selling something, if you see someone outside of a home with a “No Soliciting” sign, it’s ok to ask them if they want the flier. I’ve found that the resident will accept the flier much more often than not in these cases.

Sometimes, you will come across variations of the “No Soliciting” sign, such as “No Peddlers or Agents”, or simply a “No Trespassing” sign. Other wording, too, can tell you that they mean, “No Soliciting”, so do read and pay attention. In the case of the “No Trespassing” sign, if it is on a gate leading to the back yard and not in the front door area, then I’ll still go to that house, since they most likely mean, “Stay out of my back yard!”. But, if it’s on the front door or window, then I skip that house.

Sometimes you may by chance be at a house, then somehow spot a “No Soliciting” sign so small and obscure that an eagle would almost need glasses to read it! In these cases, unless you’ve made contact with the resident, it’s best to just skip that house. But, a word of advice to those of you who have put up a “No Soliciting” sign, please, don’t make it so small that it requires a magnifying glass close up to read, and don’t put it in an obscure place where someone is not likely to look. It keeps more of them from disturbing you and also allows them to skip your house and waste less of their time. Just a two-way courtesy where both sides win.

So, just pay attention to this advice and your door to door selling or distributing has a much better chance of going  without incident.

Happy distributing, selling and good luck!

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Let Them Know with a Thank You!

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In a conversation I recently had, one of the other people involved mentioned that they hadn’t received any acknowledgement from someone they’d sent a gift to, and remarked how people don’t write thank you notes any more.

This is a good point. I always acknowledge when someone gives me a gift, and, if it was something sent to me rather than given in person, I also let the other person know. It’s just common courtesy. And it doesn’t take long. But even if it does, as when you’ve had a major event, such as a big birthday, wedding, baby or wedding shower, etc., one should still take the time to send everyone who gave a gift or sent a gift, some kind of acknowledgement of thanks! It let’s the giver know that you appreciate the fact that they honored your milestone by giving a gift.

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When someone sends you a gift, especially if its money, do let them know that you received it. In addition to acknowledging their gift, you also let them know that the gift isn’t lost in the mail or that check they sent isn’t winding up in the wrong hands. You owe them that much, at least!

So, you may be thinking that writing thank you notes is old-fashioned and takes too much time. But remember, those who gave you gifts also took the time to get you that gift. And they had to think of what to get you, as well!

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However, while some people think that only a hand-written note is acceptable, I beg to disagree. It’s the acknowledgement of the gift and the thanking of the giver that’s important. An email, phone call, or even a text message at least lets the giver know that you’re acknowledging their gift.

Having said that, if you know that your closer or elder relatives or close family friends prefer the hand written thank you note, then it’s best to accommodate them. And, if you do leave a message, it’s still best to follow-up and thank them in person or over the phone.

But, in any event, do make the effort to thank those who send you gifts, and do it in a timely manner. Others will take positive note of your efforts and you’ll be glad you did.

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What’s Wrong with a Blue-Collar Career? Nothing!

Is that executive, college degree required, corner office position the only goal for a career? The answer is  a resounding “NO!” Though I’ve always known it, that fact was reinforced for me by a segment in the CBS show, “Sunday”, that I watched this morning.

 

Sure, those white-collar positions are important, but definitely not the only thing when it comes to careers. Unfortunately, too many think that only white-collar jobs and careers are important, and look down on blue-collar careers, and the people who have them.

Let’s take a look: White Collar Careers

Sure, those with white-collar careers are important. They make plans, meet with other high level decision makers on projects, decipher all the paperwork involved, and keep tabs on the corporate finances and business dealings.

But, they come at a price, and not all are high paying.

They often require a college degree, which can mean tons of student loan debt and years of school, which leads to the next fact. That college degree doesn’t automatically guarantee a high paying job. Some white-collar jobs start at minimum wage and one must stay there a good long time before they see a meaningful rise in pay. And, given how easily companies, especially large ones, will lay off workers, that can take a while with lot’s of derailment along the way.

But even if you get the high paying job, it can often come with a lot of stress in the forms of long hours, difficult bosses and co-workers, and company rules that oftentimes don’t make sense.

That’s not to say that the white-collar career path is not worthwhile, but, like anything else, there are pitfalls, and, if one is not cut out for this path, they’ll likely have problems.

Also, many white-collar positions, particularly lower level ones, can be, and often are, outsourced or automated.

And for those of you who think you’ll never have to get dirty in a white-collar job, that’s not always the case, depending on the field you’re in and company you work for.

Let’s take a look: Blue Collar Careers

Blue collar careers will more likely involve working with one’s hands and involve more physical work. And it can also mean getting dirty, and, if outside, as in construction work, it means working in all types or weather and temperatures. However, it’s not always the case, depending on the field you’re in and the company you work for. But, overall, you’ll be more likely to be working physically.

Many think that blue-collar work is automatically low-paying. Not always true, in fact, it can be very high paying. Mechanics, plumbers, and electricians often do very well, especially once they reach “Journeyman” level and above. Next time you call a plumber, or electrician, or take your car to the mechanic, and you gasp at the bill, you’ll see what the labor cost is. Oftentimes it’s the lion’s share of the bill, and that will tell you that the plumber, electrician, and mechanic make quite a bit more than minimum wage.

Getting prepared for a blue-collar career also often involves furthering one’s education, but trade schools and vocational schools are often cheaper than formal college. However, you’ll still have to study hard.

Another advantage, because of how people think of blue-collar vs white-collar careers, many blue-collar careers go begging, as do openings in trade and vocational schools and programs.

And, there’s another fact that can be really great. It’s that it’s really hard to outsource or automate most blue-collar jobs, and in many disaster situations, the blue-collar worker can often still find work. Puerto Rico, Florida, and Houston are all in need of builders, electricians, plumbers, and others in related trades for rebuilding. They’re not in need of executives, accountants, and sales managers.

And, you can’t outsource plumbers or delivery drivers. And it’ll be a very long time before these positions can be automated.

Final word: We Need Both

So, next time you’re wondering, take a look at your city or town, all the buildings, infrastructure, and the physical things you see being done every day. Yes, the executives were needed to make the plans and get the deals done, and the attorneys were needed to make sure everything was legal and spelled out.

 

But, it was the blue-collar workers, the builders, welders, electricians, plumbers, drivers, machine operators, food preparers and servers, and others, who all combined to make those plans reality.

So whatever career path you choose, know that it is important, worthwhile, and contributes to the well-being of society.

Good luck!

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The Big Cosmic Show – Total Eclipse 2017

Hi everyone! On August 21st, the solar eclipse took place and what a show it was. The path of totality, where one would see a total eclipse, crossed the U.S.A. from Oregon to South Carolina. I had heard the reports that there would be tremendous traffic in the areas around the path of totality, but, being within 100 miles of a total eclipse for the first time in my life, I decided to go for it. I’d never seen a total solar eclipse and felt it would be almost criminal for me to miss this one because of fears of heavy traffic. And, to get an idea of what to look for during a total eclipse, and also ways of making pinhole viewers, I checked out YouTube, which can be very helpful in finding out about lot’s of things.

The Trip There

I was prepared. Totality in Salem, Oregon would take place around 10:17am local time, so, I got up around 4am and left about 5:15am. I mapped out a back road route in advance and armed with my maps, gps, and a packed lunch, eclipse glasses, a home-made pinhole viewer, and my camera, I set out. Traffic going to Salem was much better than I expected and I arrived there in about an hour and 15 minutes, which is near normal. I realized, people had been arriving over the previous 4 to 5 days, so the influx was more gradual, and I figured this might be the case, but, being a possible once-in-a-lifetime event, I wasn’t taking any chances.

My Viewing Site

I didn’t go to one of the advertised venues, but instead opted for a supermarket parking lot on the east side of Salem. I found easy, and free, parking. The beautiful thing about an event like this is, you can view it from anywhere, it’s not like a greatly anticipated movie, rock concert, or sports event where you have to go to a specific place, this is visible across a wide path from anywhere in town or between towns for that matter.

There were a few others there, including someone with a telescope, using it to project an image of the sun and eclipse on a large white sheet of paper, and this was actually more effective and safer than the glasses, and more detailed than the pinhole viewer, though the pinhole viewer was definitely effective in showing the advancing eclipse.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Man with telescope using it to project image of eclipse on large white paper. Looks great! – 8/21/2017

Remember! – Never look at the sun without certified eclipse glasses or filters! Best and safest is to look indirectly using a projection on a surface or a pinhole viewer! Otherwise your eyes can be damaged instantly! Only during totality in an eclipse is it safe to look with the naked eye!

What I Saw

At first, when the eclipse started, you didn’t notice much darkening or lessening of the amount of light. What you could notice, as I had learned from YouTube, is that, the light coming through the leaves of a tree will actually show the crescent sun as the eclipse advances! I saw this for myself! And, this effect is visible whether or not the eclipse itself is total, partial, or annular. (Where the moon doesn’t quite cover the sun but leaves a full circle of light instead of totality.)

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Crescent suns on the ground after totality as seen through the tree leaves. – 8/21/2017

There is another effect which is sometimes happens just before and after totality, called “shadow snakes”, in which these shimmering shadowy lines appear, but this is somewhat rare and I didn’t see this, but, in retrospect, I could see where it may have been close to happening.

As the light dims, which you do start to notice at around 85-90 percent totality, it looks different from the dimming of light when the sun sets normally or when clouds move in. And, you can “See” the moon’s shadow coming, as a darkening of the sky. It also looked to be changing to a darker blue, again, different from a normal sunset. And, the street and parking lot lights come on as well! Then, totality hits and it gets almost as dark as night much quicker than it would in a normal sunset. At this point, you can look at the sun without protection, with the naked ye, safely. And what a sight!

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Sun in totality. Light from corona makes sun look like it is shining but in actuality, it is dark as it is covered by the moon, which one would see in person or with a better camera. – 8/21/2017

You do see the sun’s corona from behind the moon, which is a pitch black circle in the sky. You can also see stars and planets. I saw Venus, which, where it was, would be completely obscured by the sun’s light before and after totality. In the photo I took, the light of the corona does overwhelm the dark circle of the moon, and no photo does it justice.

The temperature does drop, though I was too engrossed in the eclipse to really notice it myself. Also, all along the horizon, you see distant light as in a sunset, but overhead and nearly to the horizon, it’s a night sky! They refer to this as a “360 degree sunset or sunrise” And it is really different and worth seeing.

Where I was, totality lasted about a minute and 56 seconds roughly. When the sun starts reappearing, there’s a sort of flash at one end of the moon’s rim making it look like a diamond ring. At this time it is no longer safe to look at the sun with the naked eye!

And, the light again looks different from normal sunlight. It first looks like the light is coming from a very powerful electric spotlight from far away, like standing in a big football or athletic field at night with only one light on, shining down on the filed. Then, still slowly but seemingly faster than before totality, the light starts coming back, still with that strange dimness, but then returns to normal. And, on the projection of the sun or through a pinhole viewer, you see a now reappearing and growing crescent sun, the crescent appearing on the opposite side.

Though the totality only lasts a very short time, the partial eclipse usually lasts about two hours, so you can still use the pinhole viewer to view the remaining partial eclipse.

In Conclusion – My Thoughts

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Me just after the totality phase of the eclipse, as shown on the projection in the background. – 8/21/2017

I had considered staying where I lived to view the eclipse, where it would be 99.2 percent totality, but everything I’d read from those who had seen a total eclipse said that there was a huge difference, like the difference between “going to the prom vs actually getting married”, or “hitting 5 numbers in the lottery vs hitting 5 plus the mega or power number for the top jackpot”, so I went and it was worth it! It did take me 2 1/2 hours to get home using back roads, but I’d do it again even if it took me twice as long to get home! I found that the comparisons that I read bout are true and I’m glad I went down to Salem to see my first total solar eclipse! It was quite a show and not one to be missed!

Here’s  the video I took during the eclipse. Enjoy!

Happy Observing!

 

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A Handy Tool for Rendering Computer Help Remotely

Are you computer savvy? Even just a little bit more than most people you know? Well, if you are, they probably know it. And, when they need help with their computers, chances are, they call you, right? And, unless you live close enough to simply hop over to their place within minutes, you probably have to help them remotely, over the phone. And, when you do, you come to realize why doctors often refuse to make a diagnosis over the phone.

Windows 10 Start Menu. 11/27/2015

 

 

It can be really frustrating to identify a computer problem over the phone and even tougher to correct it, as you have to guide the person who you’re helping and they may not always understand, or be as familiar as you are, with what you’re trying to tell them. And it often doesn’t matter that they may be as computer savvy or literate as yourself. When I worked for a large company in the past, I often had to try to describe technical problems to our IT department, and I often wished I had some kind of camera that would allow them to see what I was talking about, because it was still difficult at times for both sides to “see” the same problem.

Well, there is a free software program that can really help in this regard. It’s called, Team Viewerand it’s really great! If you ever allowed a tech company to remotely control your computer to diagnose a problem for you, Team Viewer is similar. How it works is, you go to the website, download it, and install it on your computer, and also have the other person do the same. You’ll also see more information about Team Viewer, including resources for both business and personal use. The website is quite informational.

The program will install a desktop shortcut like the one pictured once it is installed. Then both you and the other person call each other and then each of you will click on the shortcut on your computers. This will bring up  the team viewer windows.

 

 

 

 

 

The person needing your help will then give you their password, which you enter into a field on your Team Viewer window. You’ll then see the other person’s computer and your mouse will move the cursor on their screen. They can still move the cursor and see their own screen as well. You can then see what they are seeing and can correct the problem for them or guide them while seeing what they are actually doing and what actually happens when the problem shows up if it is not readily apparent. This means you can see the problem as it really is, which makes it much easier to identify and correct!

It’s really helped me since my cousin told me about it. As I often help a few of my relatives with their computers, and with them living quite a distance from me, it has made it much easier to identify and correct problems on their computers.

If you’re worried about having someone else have control of your computer, just remember, they cannot get control until you give them your password, which changes every time you open Team Viewer. Your mischievous nephew cannot take control of your computer on a whim. He would have to have you turn your computer on and give him the current password.

And, there is a Team Viewer app for Chromebooks, which can then be used to diagnose problems on other computers, whether they are Chromebooks or regular Windows pc’s or laptops.

So, if you are the go-to person when your friends or relatives need computer help, Team Viewer is for you!

Happy computing!

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