Weekly Reflections from Sioux Falls, SD
Following the footsteps of people bigger than me, like Mike Elgen and Dries Buytaert, I've decided to focus this year on my personal blog and spend less time on my other websites and social media networks. This has been a long time coming but probably the straw that broke the camel's back was Google's decision to shutdown my favorite social network, Google+.
Out of all the social networks I've participated on, Google+ was the only social network where the people followed you to not only be heard themselves but also to actually listen to what you had to say. Maybe G+ being a "ghost town" is what helped make it so successful those those that actively used the social network. Without family and close friends there, I never had to worry about boring my family and closest friends about computers, software, science, and my obsessed journey to be more interesting tomorrow than I am today. Google+ will be missed by me and I decided with G+'s absence it is time for me to return to blogging like it's 2001 all over again.
Earlier this year, I started a new blog in hopes of me getting back to dedicating more time for my writing. The goal was to write one article a week as I had finally broken free of my burnout from blogging. In the first few months of the blog, I wrote about half a dozen posts but by Spring new articles were no longer being published at Fifty-Two Posts a Year. I once again found the demands of work, family, outdoor hobbies, and managing my other websites were of higher importance. So, time marched on and I now find myself with one more website that started with good intentions but now resembles a ghost town with too few visitors and too little new content.
Given that I no longer accept advertisement at socPub (formerly CMS Report), it's been a strange year for me to acknowledge that I spend so much of my "free time" managing and maintaining a website that gives back so little in return. The time I spend working on socPub comes at a cost to the other projects I've wanted to start or complete. You see, I have a problem. I'm a hoarder of websites and social media accounts and like any hoarder of things...there is too much of a mess in my house to see any value in any of what I already possess. It's time to clean house and I'm going to do so by focusing my cleaning on one room (one website) at a time.
My son recently finished another season of hockey. This year he was on one of the traveling Bantam B-teams of the Sioux Falls Flyers. For those that don't know hockey, the "Bantam" means that he's playing with a team of 13 and 14 year old's. Some of his teammates he's played with since he was six years old (they were called Atoms back then).
When your child plays hockey you come to learn that hockey is more than rules of the game, but also embracing hockey culture and accepting every member of that team and their parents as part of your hockey family. For nearly a decade, the family has had a five month ritual where three evenings or mornings a week are dedicated to taking sons and daughters to practice. Weekends are for traveling to in-state or out-of-state hockey games and spending your nights in a Best Western. This is not only a significant time commitment for the young hockey player, but also the player's parents. Some parents love hockey more than others but all of us love our own kids equally.
I never once told my son he had to play hockey. My only requirements were that he did an activity that: got him off the couch; gave him exercise; had him working with others as a team; and most importantly something he would remain committed to for the season. Despite not being the most passionate or best hockey player on the ice, rarely did I hear my son complain on those days I knew he would rather be home. Given that I quit my second grade baseball team mid-season and never looked back, I can't help but think this young man is already on track to be a better person than I was when I was his age.
Two years ago, I made an attempt to distance myself from CMS Report. The ability to shutdown ten years of work proved more difficult than I thought so I eventually compromised by rebranding the site to socPub. Since then, I've been working on a number of additional side projects. I'm still trying to throw new ideas against the wall and see which ones stick.
For those curious, these are the personal projects I'm working on for 2018:
More Thoughtful Posts
Beginning this year, I wanted to challenge myself to write one thoughtful article a week. While I could have done this at socpub.com or bryanruby.com, I find both sites have too much baggage to allow me to write as freely as I want. That's where Fifty-Two Posts a Year comes into the picture. So far, I've enjoyed writing articles there and have been pleased with the response to the articles I've written. In order for the writing to remain fun and not a burden, I'm using the site's theme of one article a week as a guideline and not a rule.
Bonus: The website is also using WordPress for its content management system which is also forcing me outside of my Drupal comfort zone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.