Happy New Year

A lot of people are proclaiming “good riddance” to 2010 with the hopes that 2011 is a better year.  I realize the economy has sucked for many and that people are out of jobs, but I really hate to see this negative attitude.  Will 2011 be any better without an attitude change?  Isn’t life what we make it?  Haven’t people been overspending and living beyond their means for years?  Shouldn’t we be prepared to self sustain if there is a crisis?

For me, 2010 was a great year.  I’ve learned so much on my job.  I’ve had time to pursue my iPhone hobby and make enough to not only pay for the necessary equipment, but to also supplement my income.  There are lots of opportunities out there if we are willing to reinvent ourselves and stop complaining about the government or how we might have been screwed over by a company, a spouse, or whatever.  I like to think I’m a pretty tolerant person, but I have a hard time finding tolerance for people who complain without “acting”.  We live in a country where you have that option.  Find something you are good at and do it.  The mighty dollar should not be the end goal.  Happiness and healthiness should be.

I took a hike through the woods yesterday with my girlfriend.  Something we haven’t done for quite a while.  But it was exactly the thing we needed to start the new year.  We got to talk, share a lot of feelings, see some awesome birds, listen to the running water, and just enjoy a little intimacy.  I took these hikes daily during my divorce, and it’s what kept me sane.  I need to get back to this.  So if I have one New Year’s resolution, it’s to get out into nature more.

It’s Alive!

dougdavies.net is back up after quite a hiatus.  My Linux server that was hosting everything (including funkyvisions.com) died and I’ve had to re-set everything back up on GoDaddy.  So… with that… I hope I can start updating some more on here.  Enjoy!

White House Visit Snafu

This past Saturday while visiting DC we had a confirmed reservation to tour the White House. The plans were made in advance and we had the confirmation number. Our scheduled tour time was 8:30am. We showed up around 7:45a (cuz I’m just anal that way). We got up to the podium (ya, seriously… that’s all they have… no gate, desk, computer, etc.). The girl looks through the hard-copy list (it might have even been printed on a dot-matrix printer) and our names aren’t on it. She checks our IDs and calls a guy over (he couldn’t have been over 23 years old — I’m gonna call him Skippy). Skippy proceeds to make a cell-phone call with our IDs and confirmation number in hand. He goes over to a bird-bath (I’m serious) and sets all the stuff down on his little workstation the government has so graciously provided for both him and the pigeons! He comes back to us and hands us back our IDs and tells us he’s awaiting an email… yes, an email on his blackberry, cuz they ain’t got a computer anywhere in site… and Lord knows how secure sending our social security numbers over 3g is.

In the meantime, more 8:30 people show up (we were the first — did I mention I’m anal?). More missing names. The girl is really starting to get panicky. So they start making a little corral for us to “graze” in while we wait. Soon the corral is full of 8:30 attendees. A security guard shows up on his Schwinn, also a little panicked that some of us are outside the corral. He instructs us all to back up while they extend the size of the corral. By this time, all 8:30 tour people are directed to the corral, whether they are on the list or not. I can see they suspect a terrorist plot. Some “Jihad Joe” infiltrated the computer system, sabotaged the 8:30 list, in hopes that they’d just let us all go through. But haha… they are smarter than that. Instead, Skippy is going to take each of our IDs individually and process us 1 by 1. Shouldn’t take more than say… SEVERAL HOURS.

Lucky for us… we were already being processed by the finely tuned line-processing team. Our names were called moments later and we were able to proceed. We mosey up to security gate #2. Showed our IDs. Oh crap… were not on the list. I say “Ummmm… we are part of the mixed up 8:30 list”. The guys walks over and finds the sheet over paper with our 3 names on it. Whew! We’re in by 9:00a.

What happened to the rest of the 8:30 group? We ran into one of them later at the White House visitors center. They were all asked to come back in a few hours. Not sure if any of them got to take the tour or not. We were lucky! The whole time I had to hold in my laughter. It was true poetry in motion. The epitome of our government at work. It would truly make a hilarious scene in a movie. Adam Sandler… feel free to steal this for your “Happy Gilmore: President Elect” movie.

What would have topped this all off? Jay was SO EXHAUSTED from standing he almost sat down on a 200 year old chair in the Red Room. OMG that would have been hilarious if it would have shattered. Luckily I caught him in mid-squat, even before the Secret Service did.

Want to see more of our trip? (BTW… no cameras allowed at the White House, so we didn’t get any pics)

Day 1: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=260050&id=705579767&l=c956220bbe

Day 2: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=260054&id=705579767&l=adb4b6c7f7

Day 3: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=260059&id=705579767&l=6bb51e60b2

Is Texting Harmful?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately.  I’ve observed kids (and adults) that are SO attached to their devices that they kind of lose site of the reality around them.  I know I’ve experience this with my iPad.  Is that a bad thing?  The person IS interacting with someone (or something), just through a different medium.  But that’s different than eye-to-eye interaction.  It’s hard to build intimacy through a text message isn’t it?  Plus isn’t it rude to be with someone else and dividing your attention between them and your offline conversation?  I’ve been at family gatherings where the kids are so busy texting that they aren’t interacting with each other.  That’s sad from the way I remember being raised and having so much fun with my cousins, etc.  I try to never respond to my phone during dinner, a movie, or time with family.

For me text messaging is great because it allows me and my girlfriend to interact throughout the day without interfering with each others schedules.  She can text me back when she’s not busy with a student and if I’m busy in a “train of thought” at work I can ignore the text for a little bit and respond later.  It’s not a distraction for us because we limit the interruptions to maybe a dozen or so a day.   But what happens to your brain when you are constantly texting and feel the need to immediately respond?  Is your brain rewired to always respond to the stimuli and you feel the impulse to do something about it?  How does this affect your real-world interactions?  Plus… what about all the time lost?  I know that after I’ve spent too much (unproductive) time on the computer or my iPad (playing “We Rule”) I feel kind of depressed.  Like… wow… I just wasted all that time and I could have been hiking, playing guitar, or working in the yard.

Then again, some may question if it’s a waste of time.  Is FaceBook a waste of time?  Isn’t it a good tool for interacting with someone?  Or is it just NOISE that we otherwise wouldn’t be “wrapped up” in?  I know I’ve spent many hours typing responses to messages that ultimately I really don’t care about and I probably wouldn’t have interacted with this person anyway.  In fact I recently “pruned” my FaceBook list to prevent just this kind of wasted time.

So… give me your thoughts.  I want to hear from those of us that grew up in the generation where we played outside and some dirt and a stick was sufficient entertainment to those who need constant entertainment and stimuli.  Of course, I don’t want you wasting too much time.  So make it quick! :)

Back From Christmas Cruise

Here’s our photos from the Christmas cruise we took.

Part 1 (Miami, Samana, St. Thomas)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=185053&id=705579767&l=240e8cd01a

Miami – Arrived on Friday (18th) afternoon, checked in to hotel (right across from beach) and then walked Ocean Drive and had a fantastic dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking the beach. Next morning, took a stroll along the beach, had breakfast overlooking the ocean, and then packed up and head to the Port of Miami and boarded ship. Jane caught a cold and so we retired to bed early that night.

Samana – went kayaking and cave exploring.

St. Thomas – went into town for a “little” bit of shopping, then went snorkeling and saw a shipwreck and lots of fish and corral.

Part 2 (Tortola/Virgin Gorda, Stirrup Cay (Xmas), scenes from the ship)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=185063&id=705579767&l=91b345334f

Tortola – Went to the baths of Virgin Gorda and enjoyed the beach (rough waves). Returned and went into city. Nothing special there, so only spent 30 or so minutes looking around.

Stirrup Cay (Christmas Day) – Enjoyed relaxing on the beach. Doug was a little under the weather, but Jane enjoyed dancing to the band.

Scenes from the ship – I put all the ship pictures at the end. These are various pictures taken throughout the cruise. Wish we had taken more. Beautiful ship. Wonderful room with our own private balcony and super-sized bathroom (relative to what you usually get on a ship). Every night they made a towel animal for us and left it on the bed. Fun!

We had a great time, but missed being with family on Christmas.