3-3 Groundhog Resolutions Check-In

Wow! Is it check-in time already? That was fast and apparently I was not as mentally prepared as I wanted to be. So here’s a recap of February’s resolutions:

Failure.

Physical
Did I mention I was on the Keto diet last month? Funny how that was completely ignored and did just the opposite. Bring on the carbs and sugar this past month. In fact, as a way of public accountability, I enjoyed an evening at the pub, then stopped off at the convenience store for some doughnuts and milk before bed. Disgusting.

Nutrition was just thrown out the window. How about fitness? HA! Another complete breakdown. I was logging 30m of exercise daily for two months straight and then- nothing or the bare minimum. Pathetic.

Creative

Music
If you look closely at the ukulele, you can see my fingerprints underneath dust.

Photography
I took some portrait work this past month. I’ve decided once again that I am done with portraits. Making the mental switch to urban and outdoor photography instead. 

Writing
This past month? You’re looking at it. Disappointing.

Finally

And there you have it: disgusting, pathetic, disappointing.

Here’s hoping I get off my ass and do the things I know are better for me as opposed to sloth and convenience. Either way, I’ll check back in here on 4/4 for the next review of how I do!

RSS, Read It Later and Newsletters

This is the sixteenth year I have had the internet deliver me updates using the website feed aggregation protocol and it just keeps getting better. RDF Site Summary, or Real Simple Syndication, helps me stay up to date with my favorite websites, blogs, podcasts and some social media channels. Instead of visiting a hundred different websites to find new articles, or posts, I subscribe to their RSS feed which is then aggregated into an RSS reader.

This is old school internet technology, much like the e-mail client. They’re still around because they are the best, most secure way of getting information (the internet’s first function.)

I am in control of the content I want to see, not a publisher force feeding me anything I don’t want. I choose topics of my interests and nothing more. Unless, I am forced to go to a website for a news piece or weather, sports etc, I can’t be bothered.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried most of the RSS feed aggregators and currently I have settled on Reeder. Yes, it was $10 for the Mac and another $5 for iOS, but I am getting what I am paying for- features, privacy, security and the convenience. Thanks to the iCloud, all my feeds and articles are synchronized across all my devices. There is also a built-in read-it-later service that allows you to save an article for future reading or reference. No more web clippings or bookmarks on your desktop all over the place. For me, I’ll save the articles and then have the option to share outside the reader with a share extension. In my world, it’s either being shared via text or to my stand alone read-it-later app, Goodlinks. More on that one later.

For a clutter-free reading experience, I’ll usually have the web article render in Reader View. No advertisements bombarding your screen, no privacy violating trackers watching your every move. Gone. It’s just you and your text and images. I have never, ever clicked on an advertisement from the web. I do not want Google or Facebook or 40 other trackers knowing my interests. They don’t get to do that anymore. I don’t care if that is how they get paid. I won’t pay it anymore and you don’t have to either. (please tell me you use content blockers and reader view on all your websites you visit.)

Back to the RSS reader. Some websites will generate their feeds in truncated mode, which means they’ll give you a snippet of the article, then force you to press “More” which promptly takes you to their website and to the aforementioned ads, trackers and sponsorship links. Well, thanks to the built in Reader View, 95% of the articles are pulled up in the app instead, again with only text, photos and no bullshit. That’s a win.

YouTube

I like the idea, hate the advertisements and trackers. I’ve left Google awhile back and it has been such a relief to be out of that evil ecosystem. I digress. Thanks to a recent update, I can watch YT videos from creator’s channels. No advertisements, no algorithms, no suggested videos. Just content I want and no more all inside the feed reader. Brilliant.

Read-It-Later

Again, I can save the articles I want to keep for future reference inside the app, but I always like to have a dedicated RIL app. For years I used Instapaper, but they moved to a subscription service. No thanks. I went with GoodLinks as a one time purchase of $5 instead.

Using the share extension tool in Reeder, I’ll just pass my saved article to Goodlinks, ideally tagging it under a category for organized reference and it’ll be there waiting for me when needed. I say ideally tagged because saving articles can stack up quickly. It started off organized but…yeah, I haven’t kept up. Goodlinks is also accessing iCloud so I can enjoy my articles on all devices.

Requested feature

I tried another RSS reader called FeedBin and I loved it because it gave you a generic e-mail address where you can subscribe to newsletters. Newsletters are created by bloggers, thinkers that will create articles of interest all in one letter and push it out to your e-mail inbox. I like my inbox uncluttered and am very protective of it. My subscriptions would be redirected into the FeedBin app alongside the other blog posts, articles and YT videos. A perfect all-in-one solution but at $50 annually, I balked because those same subscriptions were delivered to my inbox for $0. I’ve already invested one time purchases equalling $20 for Reeder and Goodlinks and I am pretty pleased with this setup. I’d like to see more feed readers incorporate this feature and make it standard as opposed to an add-on.

Finally, do yourself a favor and get an RSS reader. Subscribe to all your favorite news sources and make them come to you instead of scrolling through their websites. Say no to advertisements, cross-website trackers and privacy invasion. Say yes instead to a more pleasant reading experience that you control.

When you do, be sure to add this humble little website’s RSS feed and enjoy

@ https://chrisdenbow.com/feed/

13th Annual Groundhog Resolutions Day!

It’s that time of year again! This is my 13th attempt at creating life-long habits for myself for the whole year. I realize that after the end-of-year holidays I am not mentally or physically capable of sticking with resolutions for the upcoming new year. No new year day resolutions for me. I need a break so I will take off November through January and enjoy.

My resolutions, goals, best intentions, and life-changing habits are listed below. I will check in every month and then review my progress next on March 3 (3/3). After that will be 4/4, 5/5 and so on. Here we go!

Physical

The immediate goal is to drop 25 pounds quick. Last year I had a brief flirtation with the keto diet and was pleased with the results. But this was costly during a pandemic due to meat processing factories shutting down. I’m leaning toward this again and again, only for the quick results and then maybe switch it up to a low carb, more protein diet.

In addition to being more deliberate with my nutrition (I’m no longer calling it a diet) I will combine this with training (no longer calling it “working out”.) The phrase “Eat clean, train mean, get lean” comes to mind. I’ve registered in two obstacle course races this year. The Rugged Maniac course is in June followed by my third Tough Mudder course which is in November.

I’ve been on a 2 month perfect streak with my daily fitness goals using my Apple Watch. Combined with the Apple Fitness service, I think I’ll have my indoor cardio training set. Rounding out the training-from-home goals will be free weights and resistance bands with yoga. I’m eager to get back into the gym for some strength training and considering the risks/benefits thanks to the pandemic.

Throw in some fun activities like hiking, trail running, photo walks, geocaching and disc golf, I’d say this is going to be a great year.

Creative

Music

My fat fingers plucking tiny plastic strings on the ukulele at awkward angles? Stay tuned.

Photography

Sorting and organizing thirty years worth of photography has been a major pain in the ass, but worth it and about 95% complete.

I’ve been enjoying film photography lately and probably need to set up it’s own budget because film and development is a costly but rewarding endeavor to me. In addition, I want to finally frame some prints and be surrounded by my images. A few photo books will be on order too.

Writing

More short stories, micro fiction, One hundred word stories.

Work on that novel. Its been ten plus years and I still can’t get all of this out of my head.

Journaling my thoughts and experiences in addition with collages and white-out poetry.

Finally

Maybe I’ll throw in more fun stuff I’ve been thinking about like short podcasts, and exploring ham radio. Just because.

Knowing myself all too well, I could end up adding or subtracting this or that. Either way, I’ll check back in here on 3/3 for the first review of how I do!

62*

I just wrapped up another month of closing the Move, Exercise and Stand goals. Perfect score since December 1st and I am motivated to do the same for February.

Why the asterisk in the post title? Well, Apple thinks I stood only 11 hrs that day instead of the targeted 12. #fakenews

On The Record

Way back around 1978 BC (before COVID) our family had a decent stereo component system featuring a turntable, cassette, AM/FM stereo receiver and floor speakers. Not state of the art but magical for me, especially since I wasn’t allowed to touch it. I’d spend hours in front of those speakers listening to rock and roll albums my parents enjoyed and flipping through the album art. It was a great day indeed when I was finally permitted to use the turntable when I wanted. Trips to the library became less about book rental and more albums seeking and hitting pay dirt when one branch had an eclectic and modern collection of 80s pop instead of 50’s gospel.

Later on, Dad scoffed at my Sony Walkman because albums sounded better than cassettes. My argument was it was portable and therefore, better. Next came the compact disc, which was not portable. After that, the iPod and so on. There was a brief moment back in 2005 when I bought and personally restored a vintage RCA floor console but had to part with it to make room for a nursery. Even more brief was a portable record player from my mother that was damaged in a move. The album collection warped in the heat inside a storage unit. Since I left that old stereo behind I haven’t really touched music like I used to, and it hasn’t touched me the same. Holding a record album in your hands gives me a sense of connectivity to music like I haven’t experienced in years. My fingers are used to scrolling and tapping a screen to access my digital collection, or from a streaming service. Speaking of streaming…

This past month you may have read previously, that I’ve been listening to a new album every day and came across one from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. On a whim, I traveled one city block to a proper record store and it threw me back in time. I’ve missed those days of flipping through album after album on the racks. And that smell of aged alcohol, tobacco or stronger burned into those paper album covers? It hasn’t changed and I am grateful. Anyway, as I was flipping through albums and inching up and down the aisles, I kept seeing stickers around the store saying “Herb Alpert Is.” Um, what? “Herb Alpert Is”….what? A scavenger hunt it seems. I found my way back to the jazz section and came across another sticker “Herb Alpert Is HERE!” So my whim paid off unexpectedly and purchased the same album I had never heard of but streamed the day before. Again, magical.

Yes, digital music is fantastically convenient but I have missed the tangible lately. I am buying physical books again and borrowing digital books from the library. I am investing in film cameras and enjoying prints again. From here, I want to buy and touch music while I am borrowing from a streaming service. The old ways aren’t necessarily better but they are standing up to time better.

The joy of reviewing and opening a record album, and placing it on the turntable, the having to get up and flip from side A to Side B makes me appreciate each song and artist even more. And just how freaking cool is watching a spinning disc produce a sound that never fades?

Record store even threw in one of their stickers. Streaming won’t do that.