Crackhead

Crackberry Free Zone

Thursday, the self-deception ended.

I am a crack head.  At roughly 9:15 am EST, my beloved phone stopped working for the next 7ish hours.

Maybe it was the strange itchy feeling I got in my pocket, knowing that my phone wasn’t there.  Maybe it was the fact that I literally reached for it 20 times in a 30 minute span.  Maybe it was the initial shock of thinking, “Ok, how is the world going to go on without me being able to communicate?!?!?”

Seriously, as far as modern communicating with those outside of my physical location, my phone is everything.  Not only is it the only # that I have available (land lines are soooo 20th century), but it also allows me to text, email, listen to Pandora, watch YouTube, go on Facebook/Twitter/Wordpress, and play games when all of the above has lost its pizazz.

It was strange however, after I got over the shock (which took about 1-1/2 hours to get to that point), I realized that I was ok.  The sky wasn’t falling, work was getting done, and I was ok.   As a matter of fact, I got more work done.  What a novel idea!  You would think after reading a book like this, this, or this, that I’d understand what it means to be focused and what it means to be distracted…nope.  It took Blackberry withdrawls to bring me there.

What was really made evident to me was how shallow my work day really is.   Not only did I get distracted often, but once the work is done, what else is there to do?  Maybe that’s another talk for another day (it WILL come up, just not today).  Anyways, I’ve started to turn my phone off more during the day now and disconnect for a little bit.  It’s refreshing to take a little break here and there.

Let's Bring y'all Up to Speed!

need for speed

Welcome to the 21st century!

As a first-time blogger I am finding that many of my first-time readers….ok let’s start that one over, as I really don’t have that many readers….yet 🙂

As a first-time blogger I am finding out that both (there, that’s better) of my readers aren’t as familiar with some of the Web 2.0 terminology that I throw around when talking, emailing, or Tweeting.  So for my mom and for the sweet folks that caught my feed (when I signed them up with their own email address…ha!), this post is for you!  Here’s a very elementary, basic crash course to some of the day-to-day tools that I use on the web.

Gmail – There is no better free email service on the Internet.  Sorry, this one is not up for discussion.  With the ability to archive all mail (folders are sooooo 2004), tag “messages” (Google would rather stay hip and not call them “emails”) with multiple categories, and search within the text of any message, Gmail is at the top of my list for performance, organization, and ease of use.

Twitter – There’s been a lot said about this fantastic tool/site in the mainstream media, and interestingly enough I still have yet to become a follower of Ashton Kutcher.  All joking aside, Twitter is fast becoming a HUGE tool not only for what it was intended for (to answer the question “what are you doing?”), but also for marketing, politics, and plain entertainment (who doesn’t get a kick out of some of the stuff Shaq posts?).  Twitter can be updated from, or post directly to your cell phone via SMS (text) message, and there are also an increasing amount of sites like ping.fm that allow you to post to Twitter,Facebook, Myspace, and other social network sites all with one post or text message.

Facebook – I’m not even going to post a link to FB because seriously the only person that doesn’t have a Facebook account is…..nope, can’t think of one person that doesn’t have it.  I have a friend in Maryland who has set up a FB account for his Chihuahua.  No, that is not a joke.  The largest social network site on the web offers a great chance for people to hook up and to get feeds on all kinds of funny foolishness, and sometimes (RARE times) you can actually learn something worthwhile on it too!  Big thumbs up for “the ‘book”!

Mint.com – After reading Ramit Sethi‘s book and blog, it became apparent to me that change in terms of tracking and managing our finances was needed.  After many years of manually keeping a digital check book register using Microsoft Money, Mint was a beacon of hope for freeing up time and automating many of the frustrating, but necessary aspects of personal finance.  Now…let me break it down for those who are reading this and are skeptical.  WATCH the video that explains what the site is all about.   Notice that Mint never takes any of your personal contact information, only the online sign-in information for your bank/credit card/loan institution, etc.  The folks that keep thinking Mint is some kind of government-run big brother type of program are the same folks that thought using your credit card online to make a purchase was a recipe for disaster.  Get with the program people! 🙂  (Note: Please take into account the “sarcasm with a smile” being used here.  If you have experienced credit card fraud, I’m not referring to that)

Gcal – The fact that Google Calendar can sync up with the Blackberry is a life-saver for me.  Not only is this a super sexy feature (it can sync up with many different model phones, check out their site to see if yours will work), but there’s also many, many more.  The ability to be implemented into Gmail is also a big plus.  Multiple calendars can be used and all linked to the same account, and calendars can be shared as well.  My wife has her color, I have mine, and we both have them shared and synced up with our phones. That way there’s never any dispute or discrepency over what the plans are for next month, next week, or even tonight.  Also, I should mention Google’s ability to link up your cell phone (even if it’s not a Blackberry or iPhone) via text message and get reminders sent directly to you.  Have a relative’s birthday coming up and don’t want to forget to get them a present?  Set an email reminder.  It’s Thursday night and you always forget to take the trash out?  Not anymore!  Set a text reminder and make the family happy.

Google Chrome – Because I use many of Google’s products and services, using their browser makes more sense.  If you’re not a Googler, then I would suggest Firefox, which is also extremely sexy.  No offense to Microsoft, but with Web 2.0, and a high-speed internet connection, if you’re using Internet Explorer, it would be like buying a hybrid car for the gas mileage and then driving down the highway in 1st gear with all the windows and doors open.  I hope that analogy made as much sense to you as it did to me.  🙂  You Mac users don’t ignore me on this one either, go get Chrome or Firefox and let Safari be reserved for the display Macbooks in the Apple stores.

Google Reader – While we’re on the topic of all things Google (I won’t go into detail about Google Notebook or Google Docs, also 2 great services I use weekly), I want to shine some light on the Reader as well.  Google Reader is Google’s version of an RSS reader.  RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, which is a format of web feeds that allow for sites to be updated (blogs are one of the best examples of a site that uses RSS).  If you look on the left-hand side of this page, you will see the RSS symbol right next to where it says “Subscribe in a reader“.  Step 1 would be for you to click on that when you’re done reading this, and become a faithful follower of TakeFunSeriously 🙂  Step 2 would be for you to post a comment at the end of this post to let me know you’ve signed up and are on board for da’ long haul!  (that was an optional use of the exclamation point that I chose to cash in on…hooray for awkward uses of “punctuation”!?!)  Ok, back to the topic at hand – Google Reader is what I use for my RSS feeds from all sorts of blogs that I regularly follow online.  This tool alone has saved me countless hours of chasing down my favorite blogs just to see if they’ve updated, and is very convenient to use.  I HIGHLY recommend getting some kind of RSS reader.  When you click the RSS link on the left-hand side of the page it’ll give you a list of readers you could use.  There are many more out there other than Google, I just use it because it makes for ease of use with all their other services and programs.

WordPress – Although at the time this post is being written, Blogger is the largest free blogging site online, I have heard Matt Mullenweg‘s (creator of WordPress) name tossed around and have heard so many good things about WordPress’ ease of use for rookies like me, that it was a pretty easy decision to pick this for my hosting site for this blog.  So far, it’s been so good.  A big 2 thumbs up for WordPress!

Skype – There are a lot of great instant message programs out there, and a lot of great webcam programs out there as well.  With free Skype-to-Skype calling, I decided on this one because of that fact alone.  Also, if you have a webcam it can function with that as well.  Again, this may be more of a matter of preference but I’ve enjoyed how easy it is to use and recommend it for all reading this.

There are many more tips and tools that I have, but that’s all for now.  If I were writing an essay and this were my conclusion, I would say that in closing (I haven’t written such horrible dictation like that in a few years 🙂 ), the biggest “selling” point on all this technology for me is ease of use.  I believe that technology should be used to make things easier and to help reduce or manage negative stress.  If it takes you 20 minutes to do something on a computer that could take you 2 with a pen and piece of paper, then that piece of technology is failing you (or vice versa).  If any of these programs/services don’t make things easier for you then please, by all means, don’t use them!  I’m not getting a royalty or commission for recommending them (although that may not be a bad idea come to think of it…), I’m just sharing things that have worked for me, and hopefully will work for you.

Feel free to comment with any questions or to shoot me an email.  Thanks!

takefunseriouslyblog@gmail.com

The First Post on Money

Time for a chat on $ kids!

Over the course of the past year, I’ve read a few books on personal finance.  I’m sure that there are many folks reading who are saying “duh, we’re in a recession”!  Thankfully, I was blessed to have read most of these books before everything got messed up with the economy almost a year ago.  However, there is one book that stood out amongst all the others, that was actually written during the recession.

Ramit Sethi’s book and blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich first came into my sights as a guest post on Tim Ferriss’ blog.  The article was written so well and made so much sense, especially for those seeking The Four Hour Workweek approach to life and business, that it was an instant purchase and a quick read for me once it came to my door.

There are TONS of books out there on personal finance.   From Robert Kiyosaki to Dave Ramsey, Randy Alcorn to Dwight Nichols.  I Will Teach You To Be Rich is perhaps the best book I’ve read that is address to this generation, to the twentysomethings of modern day America.

From the bright cover to the audacious title of the book, it’s perfect for the in-your-face generation that for the most part, has absolutely no clue about how to handle money.  I LOVE this book!

Since reading the book my wife and I have:

  • Increased the size of our checking and savings accounts dramatically
  • Set up a systemitized finance system that saves, pays bills, and helps reduce debt, ALL automatically!
  • Checked-in on our finances for a grand total of less than one hour per month!

Bottom line?  We’ve increased in every area where it brings what Dave Ramsey would call “financial peace” and have literally freed ourselves from the time factor of tracking and managing where our money is going.  And I don’t say any of this to brag, I say it because Ramit’s methods (when applied) really make that much of a difference!

Instead of me explaining it all, have Ramit open your eyes to what it means to have a bullet-proof personal finance system.  After you’ve read that, please take my advice and buy the book, then subscribe via RSS to Ramit’s feed.

If you were my own child, now would be the time that I got down on one knee and talked heart to heart with ya for a second.  Lots of people are stressed about money.  Please take my advice and give this book a chance.  It will help to open your eyes up to the possibilities of what could be, and get you thinking down the right path of victory instead of constant defeat!  🙂

Will Smith on Hard Work, Attitude, and Desire

I saw this video for the first time shortly after I Am Legend came out in theaters.  It’s no mystery why almost every movie Will Smith stars in is a success.  Check out this interview with Tavis Smiley where Will explains that his wild success is by his own choice.

There will be much more to come on this subject in future posts, but for now take the advice of someone who has exemplified it in his own life.

If you have a story or video that shares some of these same principles, leave it in the comment section at the end or send it to me at takefunseriouslyblog@gmail.com.

Vibram Five Fingers Shoes

Discover The Barefoot Alternative: Vibram Five Fingers

VFF classic

“What are those?”

“Aww, those are cute”

“What happened to your feet?”

“Do you plan on going swimming today?”

The first time I saw these weird “foot gloves” was roughly around 2  years ago in my bathroom.  No, I wasn’t suffering any Doc Brown flux capacitor discovery moments, I was reading an article on the effects and benefits of barefoot running in Men’s Health.

The article discussed how running with the heel off the ground (also known as “forefoot running“) is actually a more natural method of  injury-prevention.  I myself not being a “runner” (at least not one of those crazy folks that logs 30+ miles a week.  Even the “true” runners would say that 30 miles is only a warm up) thought that I had nothing to lose, and would try this “new” method of running.

For the next few weeks following this article in early spring of 2007, I made my best attempts at forefoot running.  However, the basic design of my good ol’ New Balance 1022’s made this very difficult.  Nothing against New Balance, I loved those old shoes and miss them dearly.  In fact, most running shoes of today offer outstanding heel and arch support.  But what if you’re trying to strengthen your arches?

Enter Vibram Five Fingers (pronounced “Veebrum”)

The second time I saw these shoes was in reading a blog post from author Tim Ferriss.  In his post he shares an excellent look at the medical reasons and science behind why going “heel-less” is very beneficial.  I wont get into the details here, as Tim has done his research and done a much better job than I could.  However, after reading this article I was convinced, and my wife and I both bought a pair.

She opted for the Women’s grey/orange/black Classics, while I went for the Men’s blue/grey camo KSO‘s (which stands for “Keep Stuff Out”).  So far, it’s been so good.  We’ve both had them for about 2 months now, and I’ve been all the more serious of the two in wearing mine.  Make SURE to read and follow the company’s instructions on sizing.  We both were blessed enough to have selected the correct sizes for our feet, but after 2 months now I can easily see how having the wrong size could cause pain, blistering, or both.

For the first time use, please follow the instructions both on Tim’s blog, and in the little pamphlet that comes with the shoes.  I personally would not recommend walking in them more than a mile and a half at a time the first few days of getting them, and also alternating them off and on with a good flat pair of footwear (because it’s summer, my Air Jordan sandals work just fine for this).  Gradually increase the amount over time but please, pay attention to your body!  If your feet start to hurt after wearing them, you’ve probably worn them too much.  It is cool however just to have them on and to wiggle your toes in them :).

The ultimate test of the Vibes’ (or VFF’s as they’re called by the die-hards) came for me a few weeks ago on a trip to Washington, DC where they were worn for roughly 12 hours straight with 8+ miles on them on mostly concrete and asphalt.  My dogs were hurting just a little, but I think they recovered quick, and for the most part, there was no major discomfort the next day.

Benefits – Wearing these shoes is a workout, hence the need to take it easy at first.  Most peoples’ feet have been under the “protection” of arch support and heel cushioning for so long, that the metatarsal muscles may react very negatively if over-worked at first.  However, after 2 months of close monitored use, there have been a few positives that have come out of it for me:

  • Increased balance (try doing a few standing 1-leg calf raises with these bad boys on!  You’ll thank me later…).
  • Quicker foot speed (I play basketball 3 days a week, the first step is always important, especially on the defensive end).
  • 1″-2″ increase in vertical leep.
  • More conversations with random strangers that do a double take once they’ve seen my feet.

WHY YOU SHOULD TRY VIBRAM FIVE FINGERS SHOES – Love ’em or hate ’em (which you really can’t do either until you’ve put on a pair and tried them out for yourself), the positive benefits to the muscles and tendons in your feet WHEN USED PROPERLY is tough to argue.  You don’t have to go with goofy gecko colors like I did, but perhaps go with some more somber tones.  Whatever you pick, your feet, lower legs, and lower back will thank you for it later.

ACTION STEPS FROM HERE – For you, it’s pretty simple, get yourself a pair and learn up on the benefits of going barefoot, or at least the barefoot alternative 🙂

Happy running/walking/climbing/kayaking/hiking/surfing/yoga/toe wiggling!

Vibram Five Fingers in DC

DISCLAIMER – I am in no way an expert on the above subject, just a simple user of a product that so far has worked very well for me.  If there are ANY issues you may have with your feet, please consult your physician/podiatrist first before deciding on purchasing a pair of these shoes.