Consistency, taking advantage of technology and what happens when you leave?

It's amazing how easy it is for us to stay connected these days.

We're at a point in time when many adults in the workforce don't remember a time when the phone was on the wall and when you left the house, you were gone. If you didn't turn on the answering machine, you wouldn't even know if anybody called while you weren't home.

Even if you did remember to turn on the answering machine, if it was in a not-so-obvious place, you might forget to check it until bedtime or so.

By this time, I've managed to spend the entirety of Trump's first 100 days in office without Twitter and Facebook on my phone.

I'm going all the way to zero for a couple of weeks. Email app? Gone. Instagram app? See ya.

In order for me to reach a point of moderation, I always have to go from wherever I am to zero — whether it's a change in the way I consume carbohydrate, alcohol or television.

I'll (most likely) be back in a few weeks with everything. While I haven't missed the idle checking I used to do of Twitter and Facebook on my phone, I do miss the ability to share a podcast from within the app or to share a thought in context (I suppose I could just log in on mobile web, but I always just put it in my notes app and wait until I get to a computer, and if I remember why I wrote the note, I'll share it).

We're in a time that demands consistency. I see it when I put the blog on hiatus, which is why I haven't done it in a while. Each time I disappear for a few months, the numbers drop off very quickly and it takes a really long time to build back up.

Fortunately, the Internet has figured out scheduling and feeds and such, so it's going to feel like I never left while I'm gone.

Apologies for my slow responses if you write, but I expect I'll be coming back with some fantastic stuff for you.

IN the words of a great bear, "TTFN."

How to determine if you’re registered to vote in more than one state

Lots of people are registered to vote in more than one state. Almost no one actually votes in more than one state.

As part of the voter fraud investigation President Donald Trump is calling for, he did, however, note that his administration will target people registered in more than one state:

As evidence that a whole bunch of people are registered to vote in more than one state, take, for instance, Gregg Phillips, who is Trump's voter fraud "expert" — the guy who estimated the number of fraudulent votes at three million. He's registered to vote in three states.

Top Trump adviser Steve Bannon is registered to vote in two states. So are Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. So is Trump's daughter Tiffany. And treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin.

Nobody (including me) is suggesting they voted twice. All we're suggesting is that being registered in more than one state is not evidence of voter fraud. In fact, it's a fairly common thing to be registered in more than one state. After all, you don't typically call your old state and ask to be taken off the rolls.

How can you tell if you're registered to vote in more than one state? It's actually kind of time consuming, and you have to remember the last address (or at least the ZIP code) you were registered at in each state you've left.

While there are sites like Vote.org that can do a search of multiple rolls, the database isn't current and only updates when they get people to update it.

What you'll really want to do is visit the Secretary of State's website and find the part of it that deals with finding your registration. Asking Google if you're registered to vote in your state is a good way to get there. For example, search am i registered to vote in georgia?

I went to the sites for Georgia, New York and Massachusetts to determine that I am, in fact, only registered to vote in Georgia, where I currently live.

Happy searching!

How to contact your elected representatives

We as a people have been griping a lot on Twitter and Facebook. While social media can be an informative and instructive tool — as well as a good medium for discussion if you can stay out of echo chambers and petty sniping — these posts largely are not read by anyone who actually makes laws.

We have the ability to contact our elected representatives, and, as with other rights, this is a use-it-or-lose-it responsibility.

Start here, with a former congressional staffer explaining how to be heard.

Next, follow through.

You'll need to know two things: Who your Senators and Representative are, and how to contact them. Reminder: Senators are elected to six-year terms with a third of the Senate up every two years, and are not currently term limited. Members of the House of Representative are elected to two-year terms without term limits, and the entire House is up for election every two years.

Hey, look! Tools!

To find your Senators — every state has two of them, and they both represent everyone in the state — go here and select your state in the dropdown.

You'll get both Senators' names, along with their websites, phone numbers, office addresses and email addresses,

The House is a little trickier. Each state has a varying number of Congressmen based on population, and districts aren't always drawn with intuitive boundaries (that's another discussion for another time).

The best thing you can do is to start here with a ZIP code finder. If you happen to live in a ZIP code that has been divided by district boundaries, you'll have to go deeper.

Just like with the Senate search tool, you'll get your House member's website, email address, office address and phone number.

Again, here are ways to get your elected representatives to listen to you.

Discovering your photos: The world we live in now

google-images-screengrab

2015-04-14 10.02.30Above is a screen grab from Google Images' search page. At right you'll see a smattering of the sweetgum tree seed pods that fell in our yard this spring.

I know they're sweetgum seed pods because I took my phone out of my pocket, took a picture with it, uploaded the photo to Google Images (you can do this by clicking the photo icon at the right of the search field), and it spit out and bunch of like images that I could click on and learn about the contents.

Pretty much none of that last sentence made sense 20 years ago. A phone in your pocket? Maybe if it was a cordless, and you definitely couldn't sit down. Take a picture with your phone? I'm not even sure that was on anyone's radar. The rest of it? Well, google.com was first registered in 1997. Pretty much all Internet 20 years ago was dial-up, and even the "high speed" stuff still took a long time to upload a photo. There were probably people working on the "what is this a picture of?" thing, but with the sort of speed I found this out with? Not even a thought.

I know I've written about innovation recently, but I am just continuously astounded at the world around me.

Next time you complain about poor cellular signal or the crappy battery on your phone, remember that it wasn't too long ago that if you wanted to talk on the phone you had to be attached to a wall, and if you wanted to take pictures, you had to carry your camera bag.

How to publish an ebook on Amazon

Something I did recently was this. I compiled some of my blog posts, edited them a bit, and put them together in an ebook to sell on Amazon. It's called Resolutions for the Rest of the Year, and is meant to give you the tools to set and accomplish goals now that most people have given up their New Year's resolution.

Almost as important to me as putting the book together (it's short; go ahead and give it a shot, why not?) was the process. Let me tell you how I did it, so that you can do it, too.

First, I redeemed a coupon I had for Scrivener, an amazing $40 piece of software (that's without the coupon). It makes it really easy to organize a book, and will help you compile it for pretty much any format — Kindle, iBooks, hard cover, soft cover, PDF — and provides you with a bunch of tools for proofing and organizing research and putting together keywords to embed in electronic versions.

Next, because it's such a complete piece of software, I took advantage of a special on a Udemy course on Scrivener (at this writing there's not a special, but almost 20 hours, it's still a deal at $169 for Mac or Windows).

Then I put the actual product together. If you're going to try this, be honest with your self and understand that the software's easy enough to learn, putting the product together is the hardest work.

I did some searching for royalty-free art to turn into a cover (feel free to pay for some, too), put the cover together, spelled a word wrong, went back and did the cover again, and thanked my eyes for catching that.

Next, I signed up for Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon's Kindle publishing platform. It's a fairly simple process (it took about 15 minutes) to upload the book and cover, add some keywords, price it, confirm that I own the copyright on the book and click the submit button (which is the scariest part, but that was the goal of the whole project — pressing that submit button).

I sent that on a lunch break, about 2 a.m., and by the time I woke up about 10 a.m., I had a book on Amazon.

Your turn. Go!

Savannah social media successes, so far

Well, we've been in Savannah almost two months now, and we've had some good experiences with some businesses doing social media well.

Let's start with this one:

I went over to the local sports bar, tweeted my beer, and within a couple of minutes, the owner walked over and introduced herself and chatted for a few minutes. We've been back a few times since. If you're in Georgetown or Southside Savannah, go pay Rachael's 1190 a visit.

***

You may have seen my post about our experience at Gribble House a couple of weeks ago. Whoever's handling their Twitter account has been very responsive via favorites and saying thanks every time I mention them — including when we checked in on Swarm, when I dropped the audio into SoundCloud and when I posted about our evening.

***

Another one who's all about the favorites are the local foxes (I think they're sister shops, but I'm not 100 percent sure on that), Coffee Fox and Foxy Loxy. They serve different neighborhoods, but both with excellent coffee and food that smells really good (we haven't eaten at either). PERC also gets a shout for being helpful; the foxes both serve their coffee. It's delicious.

***

We're still new here, though, and have lots more places to try. Chef Brandon at The Olde Pink House has been really friendly; we're excited to get over there some evening, hopefully soon.

Whom are we missing? Tell us, please, we're still out exploring!

What if we’d had Twitter on 9/11?


If you're still able to hear from wherever you are, Amy, this is for you.

One of the more more formative events in my life — from the perspective of shaping my attitudes about politics, war and my industry (news) — was the series of terror attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, collectively known as 9/11.


Amy Toyen [via]
There is a whole cohort registering to vote this year who might vaguely remember their parents' reactions that day, another getting drivers licenses who were too young, and more becoming bar and bat mitzvot who were just being born.

It was 13 years ago, and it's very much etched in the brains of almost every adult today, but very soon that won't be the case.

I was walking my neighborhood at 4 a.m. one night last month – a night that ended with The Associated Press confirming the death of a sprint car driver after our normal closing hours. We found out minutes before The AP moved a story thanks to a Tweet from a local reporter.

We didn't have Twitter on 9/11. We didn't have Facebook. We didn't have YouTube. We had Google, but it was still nascent and not doing enough traffic to be archived multiple times daily as it is now — the Way Back Machine picked it up on Aug. 23, 2001 and didn't come back until Sept. 17 of that year.

Residential broadband was just coming into being. Cell phones were really just starting to become a thing everybody had, though most people were still hanging onto their home phones (many because they needed a home phone line to access the Internet).

Despite our seemingly limited ability to communicate (ha!), we still had a problem then knowing when to shut up. News went on for days about 9/11 to the exclusion of just about everything else. NPR, CNN, Fox, it didn't matter. The stock market was closed the rest of the week. Baseball was shut down. If anything else was going on in the world, it was invisible to U.S. media.

The early reports — yes, we did have 24-hour cable news and the Internet — were crazy. 10,000 were dead, another hijacked plane was heading for L.A. and one maybe toward Chicago. And then it was over, and we sheltered in place around our TVs for three days.

Despite the initial reports being highly speculative and wildly inaccurate, we did not yet have the dreaded Internet rumor mill — you know, the one that kills celebrities and retires basketball players.

Can you imagine what Twitter and Facebook would have looked like on 9/11 — especially considering that, even today, nobody with any first-hand knowledge (as in, having been there) would have had any cell phone service (much like that day)? It might have taken days to dig out some facts, instead of the hours it took us.

Let me ask, then: Do you use your social networks responsibly?

Related:
10 Septembers, 20 Septembers
Memorialize 9/11 by being more awesome





Six of weeks of listening on Twitter: What I learned

My last Tweet was a share of launching a Twitter listening experiment back on February 19. I haven't sent out a Tweet in six weeks, then. I have responded to a couple of direct messages, but nothing any of you all would see.

My thinking was, "I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter, I don't follow many people, and I feel like I give a lot more value than I get." So I followed some more people, and read when I wanted to read, but refrained from tweeting. Here's what the last six weeks have shown me.

The numbers. I gained 20ish new followers and, after an initial drop, my Klout score increased by 4. I recognize that Klout is influenced by my other networks, and a short series of posts specifically influenced that jump.

I got engaged and didn't feel an immediate need to share. Major life event, yes. The world needing to know? Not right away. That felt kinda good. We actually waited a full 24 hours before telling anybody. We called our siblings, parents and uncles and aunts, emailed a bunch of people, and then put it on Facebook 30 hours later (it's amazing how many people are looking at Facebook after midnight on a Friday night/Saturday morning).

I went on vacation and just enjoyed my family. We went to Charleston, S.C., to visit my parents, with a side trip to Savannah, Ga. And, while I pulled out my phone frequently enough to log the places we visited, it felt good to be present with the people and places, without using Twitter as interlocutor. That included the drive down and the drive back, by the way.

New favorite follows. Among the new people I'm following I enjoy most for what they share are Maria Popova (@brainpicker) and Open Culture (@openculture). Dedicate a couple of hours on your next day off to reading the links from one of their feeds.

I missed idle chatter. Sometimes we just talk to Twitter like we talk to the dog. We know the ears will perk up for a second but no one needs to respond. So let me tell you, I've done a lot of talking to the dog, and it's the wrong venue to share things like the story of the guy who was killed when he tried to ride his lawnmower across a highway.

I missed joining in. I'm a sports guy anyway, but my job has me covering a lot of sports in addition to what I'd normally follow, so I'm pretty well engulfed in sports from late afternoon until about 1:00 in the morning, when all the west coast games wrap up. I haven't joined any of the March Madness or, even more difficult, baseball spring training, talk.

I missed being helpful. I'm a reasonably helpful guy. I know some people, I know some stuff. When Twitter asks a specific question that I know the answer to, I get some satisfaction from knowing that answer and being able to help out someone who is asking for help. That hurts both me and the answer-seeker, which is just silly.

It may take me a little time to get back full force. Then again, first pitch of the Red Sox' season is in a little under two hours, so it might not. Ta.

A Twitter listening experiment

It's finally happened for me. Or maybe it happened a long time ago and I'm just realizing it now.

Twitter has become a giant time suck for me. I check it without purpose, just to see if anybody's said anything interesting. I write stuff here and there, and, in general, I've been following about a twentieth of the people who are following me.

I just followed something on the order of 100 new-to-me people on Twitter. A handful of them are people I know but for whatever reason hadn't been following. Some of them are complete strangers.

Some of them are just people whose bios sounded interesting. Some of them are people who do things I'm interested in.

From now until the end of March, I'm going to use Twitter only to listen and learn. I'll respond to replies and I'll favorite Tweets here and there that I'd like to refer back to, but I'm going to stop leaving the window open and reading the same Tweets over and over to see if anybody has said anything in the past twelve seconds.

I've been reading a lot of Joshua Fields Millburn (he of The Minimalists) lately, and some things are resonating with me, particularly with respect to relationships and productivity.

So, I'm going to listen and learn and expand my Twitter network and perhaps, from that, my real-life network. I'm going to write long-form a lot more (including here; grab the RSS feed if you want to be informed when I post), and I'm going to spend the time that I'm just staring at Twitter now to do more important things.

If you have some Twitter folk I should be aware of while I'm re-ordering my Twitter life, please @ me or leave a comment here.

Thanks.

[photo credit]

Work/life balance: How I’m achieving it

One of the things I've struggled with most throughout my adult life is work/life balance. Typically I either work too hard or live too hard.

Right now, I hold two management positions and one entry level position at a gym. I co-chair a civic group, and I sit on the steering committee of another. I try to spend as much quality time as possible with JB and Rufus, the black lab we rescued in January.

I also try to be a good son, brother and friend – not to mention a sports fan, writer and avid reader.

And then there's my health to consider.

How the hell do I keep it together?

Well, some things aren't where I'd like them to be, and some things are. I set a weight loss goal at the beginning of the year, and it's gone to hell. I'm evolving it to a body composition goal – not a very aggressive one (I'd like to be down in the 15% body fat range; I'm currently at 22%), but one that makes me healthier feeling and healthier looking (the latter of which wouldn't be so important if I didn't work in a gym, but I do).

Saying no. I'm currently a community manager, member services and day care manager at the gym, and next week I start coaching a new group fitness program. I'm doing my multiple organizations. When someone asks if I want to create a new website or something along those lines, I say no. Typically, my phrase is, "I'm not currently taking on new projects."

Productivity software. I use Microsoft Office on my phone, Google Documents, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Facebook, Hootsuite. I'm using a smart phone and a netbook and an iPad. I share everything in the cloud, and people share with me. I have whatever I need wherever I am.

Doing stuff for me. I get up early. The first thing I do is pour a cup of coffee and take the dog for a walk. I get my coffee, some movement, some fresh air, and I get the great feeling that comes with having a creature look at me and be like, "OMG it's Josh! It's Josh! It's Josh!" as I'm dragging myself around.

After that, I sit down and write on the dog blog for 10-15 minutes. It's enough to get the creative juices flowing, to make sure that I'm writing daily, and to make sure I'm not starting my day out with work. I also make sure there's a walk after dinner. More fresh air, more movement. It's time for me (even if it's also time for JB and the pup).

Limiting communication. Even with my staff, I have communication rules. Email me whenever you want. I will respond when I can. Only call me if it's an emergency; only text between the time I get to the club and 8pm, and even then, don't expect a response right away. Also, while I'm working, the best way to reach me is to call the gym. I don't sleep with the phone in my bedroom. If I go to bed early, I can be reached when I wake up. Sorry.

And that's it. Yes, I still have some work to do to get the balance where I'd like it. But I'm doing so much better now than I was in December.