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My Reaction to the Election Result November 11, 2016

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Politics, Society.
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Over the last few months, weeks really, I finally had to chime in an voice my opinion here. It should not come as much of a surprise that my reaction to the election results includes the feeling of disappointment. But there are many emotions flowing through me in the days since the election results became final. Among them are shock, fear, hope, but disappointment is the one that rains supreme. That word, disappointment, is one that hurts. When my mom would tell me I disappointed her, it is the word that caused me to know what I did or did not do or what I said or did not say that created that feeling in her that hurt her. I never wanted to hurt my mother.

And here we are. In the days since the election, I have struggled, like many Americans to come to terms with this new reality. A man who ran his presidential campaign with wild abandon has been elected and will become our 45th President of the United States of America. I have tried to tell myself that he said things only to stir outrage, start conversations, create media buzz, and, ultimately, to get elected. He has this “problem” where he says whatever is on his mind, stream of conscience, without thinking, without being concerned with how people will interpret his words.

But in the days since the election, I have heard personal stories, like the ones found in this Twitter storyline. Personals stories, friends, co-workers. These stories are NOT okay. This is not okay!

I get that I have different feelings than Trump supporters. We believe our country, our shared nation, should be run in different ways. We can have different beliefs and I can accept that Trump will try different things to “Make America Great Again.” But the statements that the continue to divide us as a nation are not acceptable. WE MUST COME TOGETHER NOW!

I have tried to live my life with the belief that everyone has the right to live their life the way they want. As long as their life and their actions do not infringe on others, we should be able to life peacefully. But we can’t stop there. We need to do things for each other. We need to take care of each other. Each of us have strengths. And each of us have weaknesses. We must use those strengths to raise the capacities of the weak who in turn are using their strengths to improve our weaknesses.

When I was 14, my father passed away from lung cancer. There is nothing I was able to do as I watched his strong body be destroyed by the cancer and chemotherapy. As a freshman in high school, I had to see this cancer up close. When I was 17, my mom introduced me to blood donations. This was a way to give back. In less than an hour, this was a way to help people who are sick or hurt. It felt good. When I was about 31, I got a call from the National Bone Marrow Registry. I was a match for a sick leukemia patient who would benefit by receiving my bone marrow. Though I hadn’t given it much thought, when I donated blood that first time in 1989, I also gave a sample of my blood to be included in the registry.

And a couple of years ago, I was called by the Red Cross and informed that my blood was of a quality that would make blood platelet donations an option. It is almost the same as whole blood donations, though it takes a little more time, it can be done more often and helps more people. (whole blood can be donated every 56 days, while platelet donations can be done every 7 days.) When I learned this, I started to realize this is how I can help people, this is my strength. So now, I donation as often as my schedule allows, a few hours of my time to potentially save the lives of strangers. Seems like an acceptable trade-off.

Now, let’s get back to Trump and his vision of our future of America. One of the things Trump as said from the beginning of his campaign was that he will repeal the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (also known, unfairly, as Obamacare). I don’t know what other things Trump will do, but along with Immigration, Marriage laws, Gun Ownership, Women’s Rights, he is going to change the landscape and direction we have been on for the last several years. I fear these changes. Without a doubt these changes will have a dramatic impact on our lives and those of our children. When you put these changes in the same conversation as the hatred he has instigated and condoned during his campaign, it becomes a scary conversation.

I write these words because I have read Facebook in the last few days and there is still a great divide among us. There is a lack of understanding on both sides. We have elected a new President and we do not know the direction he is going to take our country. This uncertainty results in fear and the fear causes people to lash out. We must restrain our fears, resolve to create our own certainty and stop lashing out. We are ONE NATION, let’s come back together and move forward. But know this, moving forward means, we move forward together, all of us, all of our neighbors, Republican, Democrat, Rich, Poor, White, Black, Brown, Yellow, National, Foreign, Man and Woman. Please! For our children! We must use our strengths and our capacities to make our neighbors stronger. Please Join me in whatever way you can.
Thank you for taking the time to read.


What a Day September 4, 2016

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Fitness.
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First, I can’t believe it has been an entire year since my last post…

The boys and I had a run, the Labor Day Milford Festival of Races… the 10K for me and the  6K for them. I was a bit nervous about how my run would go. I haven’t really run on it since playing soccer last Sunday and I had a major knee into my calf. During the game, my leg cramped up into my hamstring and I debated on whether I would be able to run at all. I rested it and iced it for the last three days, including this morning.

But back to today… I woke up at 5am and decided not to tried to go back to sleep. I stretched and hung out until the boys got up and ready. The weather was perfect 65 to 70 degrees and clear skies. My race started at 8:30 and I eased into a comfortable pace. I was afraid to push too hard so I just locked into a 8:50 pace. I found a group of other runners that seemed to be at the same pace and managed to keep it up. I found that I was able to run the hills well, up and down. On the flats I ran with the others, but up and down, I advanced. As the race went on, I stayed strong and with each hill, I seemed to pull away. It is a relatively hilly course on a dirt road in the second half and it felt great to have that strength to keep going.

Unfortunately, the Nike Running app was just upgraded in the last week and it truly failed me today. It started out in the first mile okay, but after that it seemed to lose GPS. It had me running 13 to 14 minute miles until it stopped the voice notifications in the last mile and a half. But, or maybe because of this lack of feedback, I was able to run my race and it went better than I was expecting. I finished in the official race time of 54:04, though the clock showed 53:55 and my phone read 54:30.

While I was running, the boys started their race at 8:45am. They ran an even more hilly 6K. It starts on a completely up hill first mile before getting to the same hilly dirt road. I know Alec has felt self-conscience about his speed, but Ian has an unending confidence and went into the race with the goal of beating his older brother. I am so proud of the story that unfolded after that… I got back from my happy race to hear that Alec paced Ian through the first mile, he was going out too fast and Alec got him to settle into around an 8 minute first mile. They were apparently in 3rd and forth place among the kids, but after that, Alec told Ian to go ahead. Ian quickly picked of the first other boy and than gradually took over first. Alec kept a good pace and passed both boys, including the second in the last hundred yards.

I am so proud that they both finished first in their age groups, under 10 and 10-14. And Ian actually finished in 6th place overall. So impressed! They both earned glass mugs for their age group wins.

After the race, the boys headed out with Kim and went to her mom’s to check on her after her foot/ankle surgery. And to watch the U of M football game, which turned out to not be much of a game. I think the final score ended up being 63-3.  I watched from home,  relaxing and getting my laundry and home stuff done.

And I finished off the day, after spending an hour weeding the yard, by taking the kayak for a quick paddle down the Huron. I thought I would try taking off from Island Lake. It was a good change. The river is very similar to the section south of the dam from Central Park, but less issue with low water levels. I ending up covering about 5.5 miles in an hour, 45 minutes. It is the first time I have taken the kayak out since early in the summer, I think actually since I started at CGI – though we went out with the Kearns while we were in PA for a much more causal paddle around the lake near their house.

All in all, a pretty good day, I have to say. A day worth documenting for all eternity.

What do you track? August 8, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Fitness, Society, Technology.
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Before Google Glass came out, people started strapping cameras to their chest and recording their lives. They took pictures of the places they went and the people that talked to. Day after day, year after year…. with the cloud and the low cost of storage it has become very easy to record our lives.

I think I started tracking my life a long time ago. I used to track what I spent, earned and saving in little notebooks. Most people think I was crazy, but now millions of people do not think twice about tracking their finances online using Mint or other online banking tools. I, for one, love Mint.com. Years before the FitBit came out, my wife and I tracked our steps and activity levels using something called a SportBrain. It was one the first electronic pedometers that allowed you view your progress online. Now, we have the FitBit, Nike Fuel Bands, and the JawBone Up all tracking people movement.

Now that I have gone over to the dark side as a smartphone owner, I have started recording more and more different things. I like to think I am maximizing the usefulness of my phone. It is a small computer that is always with me. And it is capable of just about anything. So what do you track?

Here is a little taste of my list:
Gas fill-ups – I have over 50, 000 miles on my current car (ok, it was 52, 909.5 when I filled ip this morning) and I can tell you that I average 21.7 MPG and the average price per gallon has been $3.41. I also try to track the maintenance costs so I know what the total cost of ownership is.
Running – this is a more obvious one since most people/runners do it. I used to use Garmin watches, but recently switched to the Nike+ and Runkeeper apps on my phone (although Nike needs to resolve a problem with the app since it crashes and is useless since the last update!)
Sleep – this is a new one for me. I have been trying out this Sleep as Android app that tracks sleep patterns and tries to wake you up at the right time. I am not sure it works that well for that, but it does tell me I need to get to bed earlier and how restfully I have been sleeping.
Money – since I have done this since I was little this seems like an obvious one to me. Mint is a great tool that will let you track and categorize all your spending and income. It is also help when looking up expenses for taxes or other reasons.
Days Since… things I need to remember. Like when was the last time I put salt in the water softener. When was the last time I gave blood (Today). How about when my phone contract comes due. Easy. This app keeps this list sorted and serves as a good reminder of when things need to get done… yes, my “weekly” WordPress post is 4 days over due.

So what do you track? What do you need to track?

Movie Review: Hope Springs July 7, 2013

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Netflix Synopsis: After decades of marriage, Kay and Arnold go to a couples’ counselor in order to spice things up and reconnect. The real challenge for both of them comes as they try to reignite the spark that made them fall for each other in the first place.

We finally got around to watching this movie from Netflix a few weeks ago. It has been sitting on our shelf for a while. Hope Springs is a Comedy Drama from two of the classic actors of our time. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are known for different kinds of movies, but in this case they are well matched.

This was actually a hard movie to watch. It was painful to see a marriage where two people simply co-existed. The had a love for each other, but after years of routine and following each other’s patterns, they just got to a place where life was, well… boring. It also highlights the power of communication, lack of communication and miscommunication.

I recommend this movie only if you are open to seeing the dark side of marriage.

Soccer Saturday May 11, 2013

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Ian just scored a goal. No celebration there.

Android Jelly Bean 4.1.1 running on a Galaxy Note II April 28, 2013

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Android on Galaxy

When the original Galaxy Note came out in October 2011, I was very interested. It almost had all the features and functions that got me to switch to the dark side of smartphone data plans. But it wasn’t quite there yet. The stylus did not get great reviews. The screen size was big and ready for the uses it was designed for, but the software was not. The Android operating system was at 2.3, Gingerbread. And there was a lot it did right, but it did not measure up to the stability, features and applications available on Apple’s iOS. I have heard many of the tech pundits recognize the Jelly Bean is the turning point.

A year later, it was a amazing how much had changed. Moore’s Law says that technology doubles every 18 months and I think this was very evident in both the hardware and the software. The Galaxy Note II is a far superior device. It is ready for prime time. Here is why:

The cool factor on all the features of this phone make it hard to summarize, so I will try to list all the things I am enjoying.

1) How to do a screen capture? Run the side of your hand across the screen like a karate chop.
2) Many of the native applications (Email, Gallery, Browser, Messaging, Polaris Office, S Note, and Video Player) can be resized into a multi-window feature to operate multiple applications at once. And while you can combine these applications, you can also use these with any other application at the same time.
3) The S-Pen. Period. End of Sentence. Okay, so maybe more details are necessary…
a) If desired, it will pop-up the S-Pen application when you take out the pen
b) S-Pen alert will sound alarm if you walk away without the stylus
c) Handwriting recognition and it works well and can be used instead of the keyboard or just to take notes.
d) Programmable quick commands allow you to launch with a gesture
e) Sensitive to 1,024 levels of pressure.
4) MHL adapter allows you to output 1080p to any HDMI device, TV or projector.
5) Application widgets available with Android 4.1 are awesome
6) The active wall paper displaying the weather in the background of each screen is amazing. The screen shots above were taken at night, which is why the screen is dark.
7) There are several applications that I love but I think I will have to save the details for another post. My favorites are: Tasker, Player Pro, Double Twist with Air Sync, Any.Do, Waze, Real Racing 3 and of course, Pandora, Chrome, Sketchbook.

I feel like I am a paid commercial for this phone, tablet, phalet whatever you want to call it. Maybe Samsung will send me their next phone for my review. I can not wait to see how they can improve this device. I think it is near perfect already.

Next Up: My favorite Android applications

Why I love my Galaxy Note II April 27, 2013

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I am trying get back into writing these blog entries on a regular basis again. Yes, again! I am motivated and feel this urge to be creative and produce something. I am sure there a variety of reasons, but I would like to think it is in part because of this new device I started carrying around last December, the Galaxy Note II. I feel like it is designed to be:
1) A Phone
2) A Media Consumption device
3) A Creative Tool.
Galaxy Note II

It is a huge phone. It absolutely feels a little odd to talk on the phone with it. Fortunately for me, I don’t talk on the phone much and when I do, I am in the car using Ford Sync Bluetooth or talking through headphones, or my Jabra SPORT Bluetooth headphones. Call quality is fine. I am not much of an audiophile so I am not able to say whether is is good or bad, but with LTE on Verizon, I have not dropped calls or had any complaints about the phone. If I needed a phone more as a phone, this is probably not the one I would get. I think my family probably wishes I liked talking on the phone more often.

I got the Galaxy Note because I like to watch podcasts and play games on it. It has a 5.5″ screen which is a full two inches larger than the 3rd Generation Apple iPod I used before moving to the Note. It is a nearly immersive experience to play Real Racing 3 or Gameloft’s Real Soccer 2013 on the Super AMOLED 720 x 1280 pixels (~267 ppi pixel density) screen. By comparison, the iPhone 5 4-inch screen has 1136-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, but I do not think the average person would consider the pixel density a significant difference when viewing the 37.5% larger screen.

And finally, the Galaxy Note II is the only major smartphone on the market that has a built in stylus. I know the infamous Steve Jobs is infamously known for saying “if you see a stylus, they blew it.” However, if you ask any creative, graphics professional, there is no way to produce quality artistic product with your finger. The screen technology and the finger are just too rudimentary to provide detailed design output. And the technology integrated into the Galaxy Note II and the stylus are simply amazing. The S-pen is a digitized stylus that has similar features to drawing tablets that professional artists use. Consider this: The first Note can sense up to 256 levels of pressure, but the Samsung Galaxy Note II can discern 1,024 – the same number as the Wacom Bamboo dedicated graphics tablets.

All this hardware makes the Galaxy Note II are great device for me. What makes it amazing are all the things you can do with this hardware because of the Android Jelly Bean 4.1.1 OS that it runs on. It has many features that amaze people that are used to all the other basic smartphones on the market. Can you name any other phone or tablet on the market that allows you to watch a video and check your email at the same time?

Next Up: Why I am loving my switch to Android.

Moving and Powerful Bullying March 29, 2013

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I don’t ever remember feeling the affects of bullying in my childhood. But sometimes I can really feel myself in the work of others. And this is one of the times. This is a powerful presentation!

Goals, motivation and priorities June 12, 2012

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Hard work, dedication!

Is reaching you goals that simple? Of course not, for anyone with a real life. I have really enjoyed watching the NBC hit show Biggest Loser in which contestants are sent off to a secluded ranch to working with world class trainers to reach their fitness goals. One of these trainers liked to use the mantra “Hard Work! Dedication!” I like that, too, but if we all had that opportunity to focus on one goal at a time, we would be able to accomplish that one goal. But variety is the spice of life and we all have battling priorities.

I am very curious about many things and so my list of what I count as priorities is pretty high. One thing I am curious about is how to better organize my do list and have it do the mental work of prioritizing for me. I have tried many apps and different techniques but I think the ability to prioritize on the fly is nearly impossible to turn over to a computer (yet).

The problem is this: we all have a list of to dos and we all have calendars, the power of the human brain is that it can take those data elements and ranking in terms of importance. And it does this so quickly we often don’t even “think” about it. Picture this, you are at a sporting event with a drink in one hand and a snack in the other. Suddenly, a ball comes sailing in your direction. What happens next is a matter of how quickly your brain process all the important data points. Should you save your drink or project your body? You have an important meeting at work, but your child’s school calls and you have to go pick them up. We make these instantaneous choices throughout the day. Of course, these are the “emergency” examples.

This image comes from the web site of Myrko Thum who discusses Time Management and the Seven Habit of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

What about the priority choices we have to make? Watch an interesting show or exciting sporting event on TV or get to bed on time? Watch TV or read that book you have been wanting to finish? Work on a home improvement project or get some exercise? It seems simple, but these are the priorities we have to rank careful to make ourselves happy. Some have only short term consequences and others affect us over the longer term. The matrix above sums it all up, but how do you choose between similar and competing interests?

I would like to hear how others use technology to help them make the right choices, satisfying their needs and making themselves happy. Please comment below.

What to do? What to do? June 1, 2012

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It has been about ten months since my last post. And yet a couple of month before that, I said I was determined to post more consistently. What happened? Life, I suppose. But here I am back at it. I am still determined to make posting ideas and thoughts. I think it is valuable to be creative and express ourselves as individuals.

We all have our day jobs and sometimes it requires a certain level of mental effort and sometimes it involves significant creativity. And sometimes it doesn’t. Since my last blog post, I changed jobs. I was in a job that was getting mundane, repetitive, duplicitous. I found myself doing the same thing, day after day. I think that type of job does work for some people. But not me. I switched to a new job that has me changing who I work with, what applications I work on and what skills I need, on a regular, if not daily, basis. I am really enjoying it.

And yet I still find myself wanting to meet this goal of putting content out for others to consume. I have thoughts about producing videos, editing and maintaining family photo albums, and of course, writing about it and other things in my life. But the thing I have trouble with is prioritizing these things along with all my other daily responsibilities. I am constantly trying to find a to-do list tool to help me keep items like this in the front of my mind.

I struggle with these lists because they don’t have good reminder systems or prioritizing capabilities. What I finally realized this week is that there are two different types of lists that I need to maintain. And I think this is true for many people. There is one list of reminders of one-off items, like what errands to run this weekend or birthdays that are coming up. The other list is items that I want to accomplish on regular basis, like writing blog posts, exercising regularly and backing up my computer.

Almost all applications I have come across are great at the former. They are great making lists and outlines of ideas and thoughts I do not want to lose track of. And thanks to a recent twitter post by @danielpink, I decided to try a new app that finally meets the latter list this time. It is a simple app that says, what things do you want to keep in your mind and being reminded of every day or couple of days. It is called Wonderful Day. You get self motivational “points” by checking in for each item you have scheduled to complete on given days.

So, I have populated my list to blog on Mondays, exercise (Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday) and get a little yard work done on Saturday and Sundays. Once I get going on this process, I plan to figure out a good night to work on my video library and picture libraries and add them to my list. Clearly, readers of this blog will be the first to know how well it works for me. Wish me luck and please post comments about what tools or methods you use.