Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Thoughts

Age Allows Fantasy to Become Reality

It's no secret that I am a science fiction fan. When dating my wife, one of our first kisses was from me becoming overjoyed after I found out she stayed up too late the previous night watching a "dumb movie" on the SciFi channel. In my book, a girl willing to lose some sleep watching science fiction on TV was a girl worth dating.

One thing that has always made me uncomfortable with science fiction is when science doesn't support what's happening in the story. So for instance, in Star Trek I could always buy-off on the science behind the crew's planet-to-ship handheld communicators and even the ships transporter (which turns matter into energy and then energy back into matter).  But the concept that humankind in a few centuries could build a ship that traveled faster than the speed of light is pure fantasy. Fantasy doesn't make a show less enjoyable to watch but it's not science nor grounded in reality.

When I was eleven years old, there was a television show called Salvage 1 starring Andy Griffith. The premise of the show was focused on a salvage man's dream to build a rocket, go to the moon, and bring back to Earth the old Apollo mission "junk" for resale. While his character's use of a semi-truck cement mixer for the capsule or that a salvage company had the resources to build and launch a rocket seemed far-fetched...I could buy off on it.

Failure is in the Eye of the Beholder

I'm late, so you think. I promised you a weekly post this year and I've already neglected to provide you last week's story. Last weekend was a busy traveling hockey weekend for my son and me, but nevertheless you think that's no excuse for having failed you. The old me would have agreed with you. The new me says, that's bull.

By my nature, I'm a very task oriented person. I don't let go until the job is done. Several years ago, I started a 365 Photo Project with the goal of publishing a new photo each day of the year. By March, my joy in taking photographs turned into a miserable experience. With only eight miles between home and work, there just wasn't enough interesting and inspiring photos to take on my daily commute. The year-long project I had envisioned only lasted for three months.  I still can't crack a smile when I look at the photos I took during that project. I labeled that year's resolution a failure and to this day I still feel I owe somebody a couple hundred more photographs.

363 Miles from Home

Here is a fun fact. I've never lived more than 363 miles from home. To be exact, outside of my college years, I've always lived exactly 363 miles from my childhood home in Kansas City, Kansas.

My first job after graduating college landed me a job at a Weather Service Meteorological Observatory in southwest Kansas. My apartment was 363 miles away from my parents' driveway. A couple years later, my next job took me to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To my surprise, on the first visit from Sioux Falls to Kansas City I found that I added exactly 363 miles my truck's odometer.

I never planned to stay in Sioux Falls and my goal as a young adult was always to return home to Kansas City. After a quarter century of living in this South Dakota city, I've come to realize my plans to return to Kansas are likely to never be realized. But you know what, I'm OK with that because Sioux Falls has treated me well. Now, when I visit family and friends in Kansas City, I refer to Sioux Falls as home. Sioux Falls is where I married, prospered in my career, made great friends, and am currently raising a teenage son. My life would be a sad one if I considered my only home to be where where I grew up and not where I have lived most of my life.

The best part, 363 miles from home works both ways. I've never lived more than 363 miles from my Kansas City home.  I'm also never more than 363 miles from my Sioux Falls home when I'm visiting Kansas City. The number 363 is a magical number to me.

Alone Time

My son had a out of town hockey tournament this weekend which resulted in my family leaving me home alone. In the past 48 hours, I've been the only human being in my house. My only duty this weekend was to take care of our dog Jasmine and the two cats, Oreo and Maya. What a wonderful gift I received in this opportunity to be alone and to be just me without interruption.

I know some people that can't stand being alone. There are people that have to constantly have someone around to be content and happy. This has never been me. I can go for several days without seeing another human being before I actually feel lonely. It has nothing to do with me not liking people. I value my time with family and friends very much. Instead, this has to do with the importance of solitude in my life.

Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Loneliness happens when we no longer want to be alone and we desire to be around people. Solitude, on the other hand, can be defined as a "state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness".  Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.

Skip Resolutions, Find Direction Instead

This year, I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions. Every year I promised myself to lose weight, bicycle more, and be happy. Every year, I fail miserably. What good is a resolution if at the end of the year I’m standing exactly where I started? But let’s say I did achieve all my New Year’s resolutions. How much alone do accomplishing these resolutions bring value to a person’s life?

I think making New Year’s resolutions is a distraction from how best to measure one’s life. Life isn’t about completing a checklist but about finding your way in this world. I am at the age in life where I have started to lose older family and friends at an unsettling rate. After their death, I’ve never witnessed anyone reminisce about whether the departed completed their bucket list or not. Instead, mourners focused not on the person’s checklist but instead the overall direction their loved took as he or she lived his or her life.

I think for a life to be of value, there are four positive directions we can choose. We can face the East to greet the Sun and welcome the new day. We can face West to reflect on our day as we seek closure. We can also look to the North for adventure and starting something new or we can head South to relax under the warm Sun and be content for what we have. None of these points on the compass is a bad direction to choose. The nice thing is that on this map you don’t have to go a single direction your whole life but choose your own course and move in multiple directions along the journey.

But I think the worse things you can do is to stay stationary. Stationary is a nonexistent direction. What value is there in life to not move toward something that will bring good to your life? None I think.

Beware of Burning Bridges via Social Media

I wrote something similar to this on my Facebook page today.

I think I've only posted about half a dozen political posts these past two years. Admittedly, for reasons I care not to discuss here, I didn't invest a lot of emotion into this election cycle. What has disappointed me most about this election isn't the election results despite my opposition to Trump but the behavior of friends, peers, and acquaintances. I've seen friends, relatives, and in-laws burn bridges on long-term relationships for nothing more than the sake to showing their anger against another one's viewpoint via social media. I can survive four years of Trump, but witnessing the lack of respect people are showing one another is a much more difficult hurdle for me to go through emotionally and spiritually.

I wrote in comment on another friends post that I think a lot of the discussion of late is the results of both sides demonizing the other side and refusing to acknowledge the human side of the equation. Neither Trump or Clinton are evil people yet many have come to believe such is true about the opposing candidate. When you take this approach it ultimately backfires on you and as a whole on our nation. Anger can be a good tool for motivation, but when we display hatred toward others we really have gone too far.

Recovering from Blogging Burnout

I don't think I want to do this anymore...

After three or four decades of being immersed in the digital lifestyle and blogging on a continual basis for 15 years, I found myself puking at the idea of spending more time in front of the computer outside of work. It's not that I don't still like technology and content management, but I didn't recognize until it was too late that the lack of topic diversity would eventually lead me to digital burnout. To fix this, I seriously tried not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In the end that's exactly what I did.

Having walked away from CMS Report earlier this year, it's taken me months to recognize that the problem wasn't being bored with content management systems. The problem is I didn't do it in moderation.  Between my day job working in information technology and the evenings spent blogging and running personal websites, there were days I spent close to 16 hours in front of a computer screen. For someone like me that can be over enthusiastic in pursuing my interests and activities, I never considered my computer time as work. As odd as it sounds, it became a great shock to me that my body both physically and mentally still perceived it as work.

The Most Important Feature To Require In Your Next CMS

When it comes to content management systems, these two questions are the ones that I get asked the most:

  • What is the best CMS out there?
  • What features do I need to have in my CMS?

Over the years, I've tried answering that question in various forums. But inevitably my initial answers to the first question are almost always:

  • It depends on what you want to do.
  • It depend on who you're willing to work with.

This leaves us with the second question. What features do you need to have in a CMS? The honest answer is I won't know until I better understand your business goals and current workflow. But I can tell you with a straight face what is the most important feature your new CMS needs to have:

  • The ability to export your content easily out of your "new" CMS.

Too often, people worry only about importing their content into a new CMS from their old CMS. But what if in a year or two you find your new CMS fails to meet your needs? Before adopting a new CMS, you should have a clear exit stategy for the day your new CMS becomes your old CMS.

Ambulance Chasing: A Social Media Success Story

When it comes to posting online about my own personal misfortune, I have one simple rule. Don't talk about it until you can tell the story with a sense of humor. When it comes to a visible personal injury the first question you inevitably have to answer is, "What happened to you"? Three weeks ago, I was in a bicycle accident where I landed on my shoulder and broke my clavicle (collar bone). I'm better now but I'm still wearing an arm sling. My first attempt of bringing humor to the situation was on Twitter.

In the past, I've joked with my wife that every time I've had a physical injury it when I'm doing some type of physical exercise. My accident happened during a 26 mile bike ride on the bike trail when a skateboarder accidentally or on purpose (I want to believe it was the former and not the latter) put his skateboard in front of my bicycle wheel. I flipped over on the bike, landed on my shoulder, and by the next day found that I had broke my collar bone. The doctor said to expect my arm to be in a arm sling for two to six weeks. It took me almost a week to admit the specifics of my injury online. This time with a little less humor on Twitter.