Once More Unto The Breach

One of the main stumbling blocks I have faced in living a healthier life is kicking an addiction to soda. I seem to be able to go a week or maybe a month but something always pulls me back. It might be just a moment of weakness or a special occasion where I tell myself this one won’t hurt. Yes, I know this isn’t the same as an addiction to drugs but it continues to haunt me as much as addition to alcohol haunts the alcoholic and it gets in the way of me making better choices about a lot of other things I put into my body. I keep trying to kick it so I can move onto other things but so far, I have failed.

I made a promise to my family on my birthday. I promised them I would not have a soda for an entire year. I owe it to them to keep trying to make these kind of changes in my life and as I get older the need to do better gets ever stronger. I had my last taste of sugar water on November 5, 2015. I shall have another taste 12 months from now on November 5, 2016. In that time I hope to not only drop soda but to drop some pounds. Kicking soda is the first step in that process.  I have been through the headache period and am now working my way through the cravings. It is so weird how such a ridiculous thing can have a hold on how you think.

Here’s to the next 12 soda free months.

Passing the Torch

When Emily was born I purchased a domain in her name. I never really had a plan of what to do with it but I thought it would be worth securing so she could use it one day. Emily has since grown up around technology.  Although she knows how to use computers, tablets, phones, and just about any other piece of consumer technology, she really doesn’t have a concept of how this stuff works. Two weeks ago I decided it was time to start showing her how to create an online presence.

We first setup a trial website on Squarespace.com. I have heard the ads for this service for years on various podcasts I listen to and it seemed a great moment to give the site a try. It wasn’t nearly as new user friendly as I had been expecting. The DNS setup was more involved than Emily could understand but I tried to teach her the basics of how websites end up being displayed to the user. I don’t think I did a very good job but I hope she got some of the basics. Then, Emily tried setting up a site under the Squarespace account. It went OK but overall she found it frustrating and very unclear on how to lay things out and quickly lost interest.

Sunday I decided to switch gears and got a traditional hosting package from A Small Orange. This host was suggested to me recently and I thought I would give it a try. The basic account setup went fine but finding the FTP information and DNS settings was a little less obvious than I would have hoped. I wanted to show her how setting up a hosting package and then uploading and configuring WordPress worked but she lost interest quickly. I chose to give her a break while I did the basic WordPress setup for her.  Once that was installed showing her the dashboard went quickly and it seemed much more understandable to her than the Squarespace system. She chose a theme, created an “About” page and then a quick first post and it was time for bed. I am really planning on encouraging her to work and post on the site because I think getting solid exposure to web technology outside of the basic things like Facebook, Yourtube and Twitter will be valuable in the future. It will also be good for her to see that there are many ways to get her creative work out into the world.

If you want to follow this process her website is www.emilynicolemoore.com. There isn’t much there yet but with luck and a bit of work she can make it her own.

I Kill Giants

To those fighting their own giants,
You’re stronger than you think.

I Kill GiantsI Kill Giants is one of those book that I have heard a lot about but never seemed to encounter out in the world. Recently I made a list of graphic novels to buy and this one somehow came out of my brain and made the list. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to order a few things and the book ended up as one of the four I ordered.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and what I got was something few different than what I had in my mind. It is a wonderful book.  Emotional, tough to read at a few points and it ended up touching my heart in a way no book has ever done. It is a book I think everyone would benefit from reading.

Describing the book without giving away the story is difficult and I think it is critical that one goes into the story without too much prior knowledge of what is going on. Barbara Thorson is a girl struggling through 5th grade. She is a bit of an outcast and he insistence that she is a giant killer has isolated her from both her family and the the rest of the world. She is clearly too intelligent for her own good and as a result comes off as a real smart ass to everyone including those people trying to help her and be a part of her life. Barbara seems to be the typical outsider that plays D&D and has nothing but disdain for the rest of the world because they just don’t understand what is really happening.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Barbara is dealing with something far worse than teachers that don’t understand her and bullies that won’t leave her alone. This is where the story shines. Barbara’s story is slowly revealed through the course of the book and by the end it is tough not to find the tears flowing. I mean that literally. This book got hard for me to read. It is a book about friendship, about accepting the world as it is, and about letting go.

One of the things I really got out of this was a reminded that you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. It is a phrase often stated but remains just as true as ever. We would do well not to assume anything about a person when we don’t know enough about them. Even the most perfect person has their own struggles and battles. Best to keep that in mind before we pass judgement.

Joe Kelly’s story and JM Ken Nimura’s art work well together to tell Barabara’s story.  This is a black an white comic but don’t let that push you away. I think the format works very well for this book. Although the art isn’t complicated in detail it is worth taking time to appreciate.  Their are subtleties there that I suspect many would miss but it adds to the development of Barbara’s world. Frightening when it needs to be frightening and joyous when it needs to be joyous. I wish I knew more about these creators but I believe this is my first experience with them but I intend to seek out more of their work.

I Kill Giants is a touchingly beautiful story that I can’t recommend highly enough. It might not work for kids under 12 and there are some adult references in the book but overall it has something to say to all of us, young and old. Seek it out if you can or just borrow my copy if you can’t. I would love to talk to you about it.

Up Periscope

PeriscopeAlong with YouTube, another obsession in my house has been Periscope. If you haven’t already given this service a whirl, I highly recommend it. Periscope is a video broadcast service connected to Twitter.  Simply put, it allows you to broadcast video from your smart phone or other video enabled device to your Twitter followers.  Well, at least those that are also running Periscope anyway. They can type messages to you and stroke your ego a bit by giving your broadcast “hearts” by taping on the screen. You are able to talk back to those users and respond to the comment stream that comes up on your screen. Typing comments back would be difficult and honestly I don’t know if that functionality exists but I can’t come up with a reason to want to do that while you are broadcasting.

I like this service for a couple of reasons. First, it is live. YouTube gets a lot of press and it does allow live streaming but it is a bit clunky to use on the fly. That is the second thing I like about Periscope.  It is dead simple to use. A couple of clicks and you are broadcasting.  I also like you it is connected to Twitter. You have the options of connecting to all of your connections when you start up the app but I chose not to at first.  If you DO chose to add those you follow to Periscope you can be overwhelmed with broadcast notifications. I chose to add people manually and it has worked out a little better.  The nice thing, however, is if one of you Twitter followers installs Periscope and starts their first broadcast then you will get a notification (if you haven’t turned notifications off). This allows you to add someone once they are using Periscope. It keeps the following list manageable.

I see services like this becoming larger parts of our lives in both what we allow the world to see of our lives but also what we see of the world.  My wife loves watching this rice farmer in Asia broadcast what he is doing out in the field. There are broadcasts from all over the world going on right now and I find that pretty cool. Sometimes finding something interesting can be a bit of a trick though. Narcissism plays a big part in Periscope and most people are not worth watching but the good stuff is out there if you keep looking.

Check it out and, as always, you can follow me @jeffreysmoore on Twitter and Periscope.



Testing the Waters of the YouTube Pool

Emily spends most of her free time cruising around YouTube. This means that as a family we are also watching more YouTube content than ever before. It is really wonderful how much great content is out there just waiting to be consumed.  Educational content, entertainment, news, and literally anything else you need information on is out there. Of course a whole lot of completely worthless junk is out there too. They don’t make jokes about cat videos without some basis in fact.

I have been playing around with YouTube since the early days but have never loaded many videos myself. That might start changing. Oh, don’t worry about having to watch me. That won’t happen. I have a face for radio and a voice for the printed word. I am playing around with our GoPro though so you will likely see those kind of videos on my YouTube channel.  Stuff like this for example.

I need to work on editing more but this was only a test.  If there is something you would like to see let me know. I probably won’t film it but you never get anything if you don’t ask!