Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

14Oct/164

Does God Want Us To Be Strong?

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

There are tons of websites, books, and shows about self-improvement. It's a billion-dollar business. Everywhere you look, there's ads for someone offering to help you become a better person.

Is this what God really wants of us?

We know that God can use the weak things of the world to defeat the strong. We know he uses the simple things to confound the world's wisdom. So where is there room for us to want to become stronger, wiser, and better?

I know it sounds preposterous at first. "Why would God not want us to become stronger?" But there are people who, by their actions, believe exactly that. They have become so weak, that they fear any kind of strength.

David, the second King of Israel, was a strong, fighting man. And yet, we see how God used not David's strength, but his devotion, to defeat his enemies. Does that mean it was wrong for him to be a strong fighter? Certainly not! It is who God intended David to be. David's strength was useful in all areas of his life, not just the battlefield. And in the end, he still had to fight battles.

One of the interesting things about training to become stronger is that you have to come to grips with how weak you currently are. You can't focus on eliminating weakness unless you can spot it. This applies to mental and spiritual weakness as well! And everyone- everyone- has weakness.

Is Weakness Bad?

10Oct/160

Rise And Fall Of Social Media Giants

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

In the last few weeks, there's been quite a bit of news going on with the Presidential campaign (which I won't talk about) and how the media covers it. Specifically, there's been a LOT of people complaining that social media platforms are censoring honest criticism, and mostly on one side.

This of course is a problem if you live in the United States, where we (supposedly) have protection of free speech under the First Amendment. If you post something that someone doesn't like- you could be censored, suspended, or in extreme cases, have your account terminated or even be personally attacked, without actually violating the site's TOS.

With the recent craziness going on at Facebook and Twitter, defenders of free speech have been getting banned from the social media platforms, and are looking for alternatives (and they're out there). The most recent I'd heard of is Gab.ai, which isn't even in full production yet, but is already garnering a huge influx of users migrating from Twitter and Facebook because of its staunch "no-censorship" policy. Users are welcome to filter anything they don't want to see for themselves, but they won't be able to get other users censored for saying something they don't like (illegal activity is still addressed, of course).

But from the looks of it, the Social Media giants are slowly showing cracks at the seams. Twitter's stock is declining steadily after a failed attempt to sell the company, and Facebook's insistence on becoming "all things to all people" is bordering on anti-trust territory.

You could almost say... they're ready to croak.

Nevertheless, I am overjoyed there's someone stepping up to fight for free speech. And with Gab.ai's user count exploding, I can't be the only one!

9Sep/160

Hard Decisions

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

One of the most difficult things I've had to do is choose between two good things.

Sounds like a good problem to have, right? "Do I take the Ferrari, or the Lambo?"

But I really need to explain.

I can't become a full-time published writer if I'm fiddling with music stuff, or building things, or even restoring my old car. Could I even carve out more than an hour a day to write? Is that even possible?

I am stretched to my limit as it is, really. I can't do anything without it cutting into something else on my calendar. I'm double-booking myself in hopes that one of the engagements falls through. I'm on borrowed time.

Time management schemes only work to a certain extent, especially when there's things to deal with like unreliable vehicles, conflicting work schedules, unplanned emergencies, drama, and a full-time job. There just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done in a timely manner, no matter how much I shuffle things around.

I feel like my days have been short-sheeted. I keep trying to pull the covers to one side, and it uncovers me somewhere else.
So how do I get rid of some of these projects and responsibilities? Guess what? It takes free time- which I am already short on. Something has to give.

I could leave my projects sit, untouched, for months and not be worried about it. But that's not an option, because the stuff piles up and clutters the house, making it difficult for everybody to get things done. Not to mention it clutters my thought process! But it takes more time and energy to cleanse them from view.

I don't have solutions yet. I just know where I need to go, and hopefully will be able to document how I get there.

Onward, and upward!

6Sep/160

Snowball Time

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

It's snowball time- in more ways than one.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been ridiculously busy. After seriously considering my schedule, and piles of unfinished projects, I've decided to to a "Project Purge." And like Dave Ramsey teaches when trying to crush overwhelming obstacles, I'm going to use the "snowball method" to make it happen.

This means I'm going to look at my entire list of projects, and do two things:

  1. Determine if I really need to do it at all
  2. Prioritize the smallest projects first, to knock them out

This will let me systematically minimize what I'm doing. There are some projects that will either take a very long time (home remodeling) or last indefinitely (restoring the Rambler). But other things I can "finish" and take them off my plate.

I've also decided to quit caffeine again. No, I'm not going to enjoy it. But my face started breaking out again, and I'm not getting enough sleep. So "rest" will be one of those projects I'm working on.

Bike riding will have to be scaled back some, as will working on music equipment, building/collecting things, and so on. I need to get rid of piles of things I'm never going to finish. Do I really need a pile of guitar effect pedals, when I can do everything I need with just one? Do I need to keep R/C car parts "just in case" I get around to using them? Probably not.

I still have buckets of computer parts and networking stuff, which I'll never use again... those need to go to a good home. 15-year-old computer CD's? Gone. Stuff I bought to do with my kids, who never showed interest? Don't need it.

The next few months are going to be hard, because those are all things I want to have time to do. But ultimately, I don't need to do them all, and holding on to that "stuff" associated with them is clutter in the house, and in my mind.

1Jul/160

Successes and Failures

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

There's something crazy about successful people. They normally don't succeed at something, and then sit back and say "well, that's done, I guess I can just sit back and chill for the rest of my life."

I mean, there's a few people that have done that... but most don't. Why is that? It's a result of the drive that made them successful in the first place. You can't just turn it off.

Sometimes, you fail pretty hard. In my case, I did a Social Media Fast for a couple of months. I also gave up caffeine.

Both of which I've failed at, off and on, in the last few weeks. Does that mean I'm a failure? No. Does that mean I can't succeed at them? Nope. Just means I need to be aware of it, learn from it, and adjust as necessary.

I've also made an effort to slim down the amount of projects I work on at any given time. This is out of necessity, because I'd never finish anything if I didn't narrow my focus.

Building on my discovery of Microadventures, I'm going to begin working on ways I can document those, and focus on how I can get the most out of them. I also want to include the kids in Adventures as often as possible.

I've got more adventuring in store- a new bike build, camping, and maybe even a multi-day bike tour! This weekend, I'm doing the IOLS (Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills) class to be a fully qualified BSA Scoutmaster. I will report back!

15Jun/160

Finding My Way

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I've been thinking a lot lately about dissatisfaction in life, and wishing I could do more than I already am. But I'm 42, have 4 kids, and I work 45+ hours a week at a (mostly) desk job. I don't have a lot of time for adventure or excitement.

I'm always looking for something exciting to do, whether it be tinkering with electronics, or bike commuting, or writing a novel, or producing podcasts... whatever sounds exciting, I want to do it.

But I can't do everything I want to. I just don't have the time and energy. (This is kind of a recurring theme on my blog...)

As a dreamer, I'm always trying to balance the reality of modern life with my heart's desire to be an adventurer. Really, I love a good adventure. In fact, you could say I live for those moments, when I'm going down a road I've never seen before, or learning something new. There's a cloud of mystery, a rush of endorphins that comes from doing something exciting and new.

Eventually, I stumbled across an article on Vocations from Art Of Manliness (which seems to be a recurring theme for me). And there were questions there, about how to discover your passions.

For me, passions were something that I've had stamped out of my life repeatedly. I'm passionate about a lot of things... but only things that are monetarily useful are allowed in today's society. As you might imagine, this isn't a great environment in which to find your Passion.

18Apr/160

Rest, Work, and Sabbath

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

For the last few weeks, I've been busy. It would be safe to say I'm busier now than I ever have been before. And yet, every day I struggle to not feel guilty over the things I didn't get done.

How many things am I involved with that I've put off? Sheesh. Let's see:

  • This blog (thanks for reading! Last updated 2 weeks ago)
  • Weekly posts for The Badass Forge (skipped last week)
  • Occasional posts for the Bike Commuter Cabal blog (last posted there in August)
  • The ADD Masterminds podcast recording/editing (skipped 2 weeks)
  • Not Entirely Unlike Chiptune (last touched this 6 months ago)
  • Restoring a classic car (currently not running, haven't touched it in weeks)
  • WIP non-fiction book on ADD life hacks (haven't seen it in a month)
  • WIP fiction novel(s) (months... maybe years for parts of them)

And these are just the things I do that aren't part of my normal family life, like cooking, Boy Scouts, house renovations, church music, and so on. Those things are getting put on back burners, too. I just can't keep up with everything, so I'm dropping stuff left and right.

Clearly I needed a Sabbath, but what does that look like for a supervillain like me? How can I "rest" when there's so much to do, and being creative restores my soul?

It's a problem indeed.

I will have to make some hard decisions as to what will stay, and what will have to go. But I know my life will be better for it.

Sigh.

25Mar/160

What’s Your “Why?”

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

A lot of what we do nowadays is a waste of time.

There, I said it. If we look at ourselves, we know this is true. Deep down, we know we waste a lot of time.

Now, I'm okay with wasting time every now and then. I love a good video game, or just goofing around. But really, there's a lot of things I do that I could use to evaluate. I mean, I know why I do some things, but that usually means "I just felt like it." That's not really a reason, per se.

So in light of my wife's wonderful thoughts on "Why" I've decided to put together a list of the major time sinks in my life, and then think about why I do them. Here they are, in no particular order:

24Mar/160

Information Diet, Week 9

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

A while back, I wrote about how I was going to use Evernote to collect all my social media feeds, so I wouldn't be tempted to check them constantly.

So here I am, about 2 months into my "experiment." Has it worked so far? Well, yes and no.

In one sense, I've narrowed down my information input. I've unfollowed blogs and unfollowed people on facebook and Twitter, just to pare down the stream of junk coming into my "Pending" notebook. So in that sense, it's been an improvement. On the other hand, I'm still easily distracted. I still find myself compulsively checking Twitter every now and then. It is getting better, though.

Some of my tools to channel my feeds into Evernote threw me a monkey wrench this week. Feedly suddenly (with no announcement) changed the ability to export feeds to a paid for feature. Which is fine, I guess, except I don't like it when apps suddenly make features unavailable to non-paying users, or even worse, nullify a paid-for feature and ask you to buy it again. (There's a few apps that are on my blacklist for this reason... Tapatalk is one, Endomondo is another.)

So that means instead of importing a couple of RSS feeds into Evernote, I'd have to set up a feed for every single blog I want to follow. Okay- fair game. I just narrowed down the list to a few I actually care about. That's a win, right?

I took a break from using StayFocusd, because I was always stressing about how much time I had left to use a particular site. I never hit the limit, but it was the constant nagging in my mind that was driving me nuts. I may go back to it later. Just needed a break.

I think overall, the program is working. I'm still not 100% used to it, and when I'm bored I still scroll through Twitter and such for interesting things to fill my brain. But overall, it's improved my focus noticeably.

 

16Mar/160

Get Used To Disappointment

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Yesterday, I was disappointed, and in turn, I disappointed someone else.

It wasn't intentional. I didn't start off my day by saying "I feel like letting someone down today."

And the sad part is, it wasn't even my fault. My old car- admittedly, it's old and unreliable- broke down. Big shocker? Not really. Did it disappoint me? Yeah. I was hoping it wouldn't break.

But, the bigger truth here is that we're always placing expectations on things, and we get mad when they don't happen. I expect my car to not break down. I expect my children to learn responsibility when I don't drill it into them at a young age. I expect my wife to be able to read my mind (admittedly, not that hard... I only think about a few things). I expect that my boss will always give me the easiest jobs.

And when none of those things happen, I'm disappointed.

And every time I screw up, I know I'm disappointing someone else. Every time, I think "that's the last straw, they're going to leave/fire/kick me now." But you know what? Life is a balance of success and failures. Anybody who hasn't tasted failure and disappointment hasn't really lived. And I've done a lot of living, so I've failed a lot.

Why are we so afraid of failure? Sometimes it's just out of our control. Maybe we should have known better, maybe we couldn't have. Maybe we just feel bad because things didn't turn out the way our optimistic selves thought they would.

So, the reality is, the more stuff I do, the more chances I have of failing. I guess I'm okay with that. I don't like living in the safe zone all the time. If I wanted to play it safe, I wouldn't have started biking to work, or bought a 50-year-old car to drive around. I wouldn't have written a book, or started a band, or started a podcast, or any number of other things I've done.

I understand playing it safe keeps you from disappointing people. But sometimes, you just have to give it a shot anyway.