April 3 2021

Hi all,

I hope you are getting a lot out of General Conference. Here are a few bites of mental fodder to add to the pot. Hopefully it doesn’t detract too much from the spiritual atmosphere.

What I’m loving –

What is your favorite purchase under $100? My answer to this is a dollar store pool noodle. Back story, most people have a bed frame that sits 6” off the ground and the legs are well out of reach of unprotected toes, but we decided to try a different frame which eliminated the need for a box-spring and gives us an extra 11 cubic feet of storage space. The one downside is that the legs stick straight down from the edge, giving no room for a toe-kick. That’s where the pool noodle comes in. About once a day my pinky toe bounces harmlessly off a blue polyethylene force field and I say a quiet prayer of gratitude for a simple device which continues to pay dividends.

What I’m thinking about –

The word “effort” has become more meaningful to me lately. As a departure from stereotype, I’m not drawn to watching sports, but if something is playing on the TV, I will end up watching (which is an unfortunate truth). Thus, I found myself staring at a robust group of fellows engaged in organized conflict over a ball. I asked myself why so many people make this a favorite pastime. I came up with no answer, so I turned to the person next to me, which happened to be my father-in-law Von.

Here was a man who clearly saw something which I was missing. He raised several children, watching and helping them thrive in both sports and academics. His two youngest are currently very involved and dedicated in their pursuit of excellence. He also, doubtlessly, enjoyed many successful bouts in the arena of sports in his youth.  I asked him what it is he sees or looks for when he watches a game. He said he likes to see effort. He likes to watch players working and pushing themselves. He said effort, combined with talent, is a beautiful thing to watch. I can get behind that.

Watching little Jack try so hard to do things is a beautiful thing. He doesn’t know that an object is out of his reach, not until he has truly exhausted his efforts to get to it. He will reach as hard as he can, crane his body to the limits, use whatever ledge he can gain purchase on, and then look around for another way. If only I had that kind of attitude for things I desire. Usually, my effort amounts to a visualization of what obstacles I might encounter and then decide my resources are better spent doing something more immediately rewarded, like finding a snack.

At work I have stressed a lot about feeling and looking competent at my job, but recently I’ve had a paradigm shift. I used to think the most valuable employee was the one who could do his work effortlessly. While there maybe something to that, I now believe that the one who will stand out is the one who applies himself the most.

In our weekly design meetings (where we confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob with our brother designers, props if you get the reference) I used to think sharing something I learned would improve my standing in the group. Now I believe I would make the longest strides by simply asking how they do a certain task or achieve something I struggle with. Maybe I can share the way I do it first and then ask for suggestions. I’ve done this once before. At first, I found it humbling, but I probably learned more and gained more good will than any other time I tried to contribute anything.

I’ve mentioned before, my meeting with my manager, where I shared my attempts to track my efforts and study. He like it very much and went on about how he really likes to see an employee who makes an effort. He told me about a previous employee who was very competent, but very lax in his work ethic, so he got rid of him.

Of course, this also applies to spirituality. You probably remember when President Nelson said “The Lord loves effort.” One passage I have found repeated many times throughout the scriptures is “ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

What I’m listening to –

This week’s Come Follow Me invited us to listen to Handel’s Messiah. The choir and orchestra were fine, and I did marvel at the wonderful capabilities of the soloists, and there can be no reproach in the content of the lyrics, but good gracious, if it wasn’t so repetitive this 2-1/2hour performance would be over in 15 minutes. I understand why only a fraction of it sounded familiar.
Now I’m listening to fun instrumental covers on the guitar. There are many such playlists. I like to browse the artist picks. I know, I’m a heathen.  

What I’m thinking about –

How to afford to buy real estate and housing in the world as we know it? Even my boss, who is very well informed and connected admitted that he despairs of his children ever owning a decent house. He may have meant this rhetorically, but it could easily be literal. I don’t think it will be impossible, but I do believe we will have to think in terms 10x what we think we will need to do to make it happen.

Quote I’m loving from General Conference –

“Because of Jesus Christ our failures do not have to define us. They can refine us. If we repent, our mistakes do not disqualify us; they are part of our progress.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

What Jack is up to –

Sometimes I bring Jack into the shower with me to get him washed with less fuss than a bath. Today when I put him under the warm water, he relaxed in a way he rarely does. He just laid his head on my shoulder and enjoyed the soaking. Maybe it was an effort to recover from all the bumps and bruises he has collected recently.

New words –

Ecumenical “How ecumenical of you.” Murder She Wrote

Mélange – a mixture of incongruous elements, mixed bag. (Look this word up for a host of interesting synonyms.)

Unctuous – oily, smooth and greasy in texture or appearance. Often used to describe an unsavory character.

Salvo – “Was that the first salvo?” Murder She Wrote

Addlepated “I am not your addlepated old lady from East nowhere!” Murder She Wrote

Pate “…but the sun is so warm on me pate…” The Quiet Man

Thanks for reading friends. Let me know what you liked, disliked, or what other thoughts were stirred to the surface of your consciousness. Happy Easter!

Peter

P.s. My favorite talk so far has been the one President Nelson gave at the end of the priesthood session. Good stuff. Ok, I’m done. Back to your lives citizens.

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March 27 2021 Email

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Here is your weekly six bullets worth of Peterness.

Why we went premium for Spotify

A while back I decided I’d had enough of the obnoxious ads on Spotify and went premium. It was like coming in from a raging storm to a warm hearth, wrapping up in a blanket with freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk. There are few things more hygge than being able to listen to whatever you want, as long as you want, with no interruptions.
Being able to listen to music or a podcast is not a necessity, and there are free options out there, so a few months ago Katie and I decided to save $15 per month (the Family Plan) and do without premium. We weren’t listening to it every day, so it didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice. Come Christmas we found that some music would greatly enhance the atmosphere we were trying to create. We both had some fun playlists on Spotify so naturally that’s where we turned to first. Oh. My. Heck. I was ready to shoot something. The ads were back, the playlists were out of control, there was no playing any particular song without about seven ads and then it played something else. Want to skip a song? Forget it.

We gave up on Spotify. We weren’t ready to cave to extravagance just because we wanted music. Youtube had some decent channels with a livestream so we listened to that most of the time. There were still ads, but most of them were only at the beginning and often only a banner. Some videos were collections of music so we could go longer spaces of time before any ads came up. It was a decent work-around.

Then, recently we revisited the idea of getting back on premium. We’ve had many an evening making dinner with no music, which isn’t terrible, but the silence can make things a tad gray. We could do with a little color. I read an article that addresses how we tend to come up with solutions to a problem and then continue to apply that solution long after its usefulness has expired. If you’re interested, here is a link to the article: Where Are You Still Using Single-ply? The article wasn’t what made us think of this, I just happened to come across it recently.

Here’s a list of arguments we battled with (not me against her, just an analysis of the pros and cons) to decide whether to get it or not:

Pros of going premium:

·         It is an enhancement to my quality of life to have music on demand and have access to anything I might want to listen to.

·         I don’t have to store anything or worry about tapes, CD’s or even devices.

·         As long as I have a password I can listen just about anywhere.

·         I can even download music, so I don’t necessarily need the internet at all times (convenient when driving, saves data).

·         No ads to interrupt the mood or jar me out of the zone when I get into it.

·         When a song comes up that I’m not feeling, I can skip it, and the next one, and the next.

·         When I’m not in the office music can help put me in an “office headspace”.

·         I’m more productive because I’m not looking for alternatives like Youtube and getting sucked into their attention-grabbing algorithms.

·         They want us to go premium, which means they are trying hard to make the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

$160 per year is not nothing, but $160 worth of savings at the cost of fighting ads or going without music doesn’t seem like a bargain. I think we pay that much and more for quality-of-life items all the time. Life isn’t all about saving money, it’s about living. I could always shop at DI for clothes and eat ramen noodles every day if saving was the most important thing. That said, if our income were cut off for some reason, all subscriptions are automatically on the chopping block.

Cons of premium:

·         I don’t own anything. I’m merely renting the privilege of listening to the music.

·         One year of music (on the Duo Plan) costs about $160.

·         Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be listening to something just because I can. It’s one more thing that keeps me from distancing myself from my phone.

·         Wouldn’t it be better to take $160 to buy a bunch of music you like and then own it? You don’t listen to more than a handful of playlists worth of music anyway. (not entirely true, but you get the point.)

So, in the end we decided to give premium another go. What other things are worth the premium price? I don’t know. I’d love Youtube premium, but I waste enough time on there without having to justify the cost. Marco Polo has some nice features, but not enough to justify the $5/month, at least not yet.

What I’m reading

This one is very related to the previous bullet. While searching for the right person to attribute the quote “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” I came across this answer on Quora which turned into quite a tome, complete with footnotes. Ok, it’s not that long, but pretty long for a Quora answer. It’s a sobering concept, nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s alarming to think about how we’ve all been seduced by free stuff, even the most independent among us. What does it mean? Should we insist on paying for everything we use? What would that look like? It would definitely make us think twice about spending time on the things we take for granted.

Question I’m pondering

Again, this is related to the previous bullet. What if we treated time like we do money? Obviously they are different. Time is very finite. We can exchange time for money by working for an hourly or yearly wage. We can also exchange money for time by buying “time-saving” appliances or paying a pro to do a job (especially if it would take us much longer than the pro to do). We can save money by stashing it away or putting it into something that will hold its value, like gold or land. Time can’t be frozen like money can. It can only be saved by spending it differently. I could go on, but I suspect this will require more time to delve into. Remind me to essay into this later, unless you are quite satisfied where I left it. If you have thoughts on the subject, please share them!

What I’m doing to improve

At the end of the day I try to take a few moments to exercise my recall muscles. I try to recall names of people I’ve met, topics I’ve learned about, conversations, things I’ve read, and whatever else I can think of from the day. Experts say (I know, that was lazy. I should find the source to back up my claim) that you can improve your memory in this way. It’s also a type of spaced repetition, which is a method of converting data from short term to long term memory.

Jack’s doings

It has become a fight to change his diaper. He is constantly trying to get up or flip over or do anything but sit still. I know you parents out there are either chuckling or nodding in exhausted agreement.

He has also learned to maneuver his tongue. It looks like he’s trying to get peanut butter out of his teeth.

I love coming after him as he squeals and scrambles to get away, laughing when I grab him.

Holidays Observed

Most days are spent working, either at our jobs or doing things to maintain a functioning home. What do we work for? We work to make a living, and then come home to more work or to rest and recover from making a living. So where does the actual living come in? Unfortunately living seems to feel like an afterthought, something we get around to doing if we have the time. I know there are flaws to this narrative, you can help me suss them out if you feel so inclined.

So, what can we do to make sure more living is done? We can’t expect to wait until retirement. By then your best years are spent and the kids have grown up, trained to do the same. We can’t expect life to “happen” to us. We have to be deliberate.

Something Katie is doing to inject a little more living into our existence is to observe more holidays. Of course, we can’t take every holiday off from work, but there are things we can do to make days special. What do you do for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grilled Cheese Day, or Read a Book Day? Do you observe them or are they another forgettable day of the year?

I remember one Veteran’s Day (think that’s what it was) growing up where we went as a family to take treats to a couple of veterans in the ward. One New Year’s Eve we began pulling back the rugs and dancing to Louis Prima. Mom and dad picked a day every fall to throw a Fall Festival which started out as just our family and became almost a community event. I don’t remember many details from these days, but I remember that they happened and how I felt about them. They stand out through the fleetness of childhood. I want Jack to have such mental and emotional snapshots of his childhood and the training to make more throughout his life.

Ok guys, that’s all for this week. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, feel free to share your thoughts, questions, suggestions, or other feedback. And have a great weekend.

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March 20 2021

Hey everyone,

Here’s your weekly dose of Six-bullet Saturday (finally on a Saturday).

What I’m studying

How do I put together a spiritual strength training regimen?

I’d like to come up with a plan to develop spiritually. You could, at any moment, demonstrate what kind of shape you’re in physically, but spiritual fitness is trickier. By definition, it’s not tangible or visible.

Serving a mission, I encountered many people who assumed that us missionaries were spiritual heavyweights. Members who were converts seemed to view us as lightyears ahead of them in spiritual development, and it made me feel very uncomfortable…disappointed. Why didn’t I feel more advanced? What does it even mean to be spiritually “advanced?”

I go through pride cycles which take me from diligence and heightened sensitivity to the spirit to sometimes long periods of time where I go through the motions and yawn. Imagine if I could keep my head in the game? True, we shouldn’t run faster than we have strength, but when I know I’m merely walking, rarely breaking a sweat, I wonder what my potential really is. What if I really tried, and tried consistently?

I could be overthinking this. Pray and read the scriptures every day, fast, pay tithing, serve others, go to church. Can it be that simple? I get the sense that there is more, a deeper level. Of course, there are varying levels of effort. You can “read” the scriptures without absorbing much. You can be “present” in church and come out lamenting the loss of a couple hours of your weekend.

Katie pointed out that this week’s Come Follow Me references a talk by M. Russell Ballard “Be Strong in the Lord” which has some great insights.

I also found many insights from Alma 48, where it talks about how Captain Moroni strengthened the cities and prepared for war.

I was going to delve into both the talk and this chapter, but you don’t need me to preach to you. You will probably get more out of your own studies anyway. But here are a few points I found interesting.

·         “If you are doing the workouts you are getting stronger” – Katie.

·         Find your weak points to work on.

·         Acting on promises is an exercise in faith.

·         We can pray to know “whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies.”

Although it happens to align with this week’s Come Follow Me, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and will continue to study it for some time I imagine.

Question collecting

If you can ask the right questions anyone can be interesting to listen to. If you’re bored with your surroundings or companions, it’s only a reflection on your capacity for curiosity or ability to come up with good questions.

Tim Ferris talks about collecting questions. He would study interviewers like Cal Fussman and Larry King to learn how to make guests comfortable and help them open up. He also realized that people who have been interviewed many times, like famous people do, tend to develop a set of baked answers. He learned to approach from unique angles to lead them away from rote presentations and really bring out their personality. Not that I want to emulate everything he does. He also likes to get his subjects drunk or hopped up on caffein before his interviews.

Finding the right questions became very important to me while dating. I had one experience where my date commented that she felt like she was being interrogated. At the time I thought “well yes, that’s kind of the point.” Part of the problem was she just wanted to flirt with another guy in the group date. But she was probably just the first one to vocalize that opinion to me. I realized that I wasn’t going to make much progress with worn out, mediocre questions. This is one area where quality absolutely trumps quantity. Asking about someone’s favorite color is fine for nervous 16-year-olds trying to break into the arena, but not for a “25 and better” talking to girls who have heard it dozens of times.

When I finally decided to try a dating app, I discovered a fast feedback loop where I was able to play with questions to see which ones evoked the most engagement (no pun intended). One question I used often was “if you were asked to give a TED talk tomorrow what could you talk about for a good 15 or 20 minutes?” (or some variation of that). This question taught me several things. How thoughtful is she? What does she feel strong enough about that she could monologue on for some time? What inspires her? Is she flippant or genuinely interested in communicating with me? I found this question quickly cutting through the small talk and getting into things that mattered to her.

Katie’s response to this question told me that she had a solid testimony and an agile mind. I was impressed and intrigued. The rest is family history.

I started to use that question and others outside the realm of dating to see what I could learn. There is so much human capital we aren’t tapping into. Everyone has had a thousand different experiences and sees with a lens that changes every day. Every person is an opportunity to learn something new or a resource for rounding out our views about things we already know.

I read a book about writing (which I can’t find again, for the life of me) where the author says she took advantage of every opportunity to do research for articles she was writing. While having dinner with friends she would ask about their experiences in such and such, or what they thought about a concept she was working on.

Besides being great for conversation, asking good questions can revive the work environment, and not just for breakroom chit-chat. Someday I’ll delve into how questions help stave off boredom and burnout.

As a last thought, when I’m writing just for personal exploration of an idea or issue, I usually find that most of my writing consists of long paragraphs of questions which may or may not have an answer. I’m still working on that.

Jack’s recent development

Jack is getting brave and will let go of his hand hold to stand on his own or even walk a few steps to get to another chair. Sometimes he walks into the middle of the floor, realizes he’s stranded and gets alarmed. He got his first goose-egg from these ventures, but it hasn’t curbed his energy.

He is also starting to growl for some reason.

Words

·         Copacetic – very satisfactory

“Things haven’t exactly been copacetic for us mice since the cat arrived.” I just made that up. Katie’s mother Debbie introduced me to that word, but I don’t remember the context.

·         Skew-wiff – askew, catawampus

“That cake looks a bit skew-wiff” The Great British Baking Show

Follow up on headboard

The headboard is being put to use. It could use some paint. We might do that if it becomes more of a permanent fixture. For now, it’s fulfilling its purpose.

I originally had a picture of the headboard with Jack crawling across the bed.

Practice I’m considering

What benefit would there be in naming my notebooks? I don’t mean labeling them Exercise Notebook, Gratitude Journal, or Bullet Journal), I mean real names like Bob, Betty, or Bucephalus (props if you get the reference). Any thoughts or insights you might have are welcome.

Well, that wraps up this week’s essay into the mind of Peter. I hope none of you are the worse for wear. As always, please share your thoughts or other feedback if you feel so inclined. I can be reached via email, text, or Marco Polo, whichever suits your fancy. Boy, four clichés in one paragraph. Sorry.

Peter

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March 13 2021 Email

Hi everyone,

Today is a day of accountability, where I open the books and tell how I have done with my commitments. Don’t judge too harshly.

Projects

I have the bad habit of collecting projects. I have the best of intentions and motivations, but it is short lived. I either get bogged down in the minutia, losing momentum until I forget about it, or it simply gets pushed off the small stage of my attention by some new, attractive project.

Here is a list of projects I’ve started or talked about starting just since I began these emails, and a short description of where I am on them:

·         Studying to draw house plans – on hold for the moment, I need to brush up on my AutoCAD skills before putting down more money for school.

·         Bullet journaling – this is still going strong and it has been a great help to keep everything straight. I also created one for my work, which greatly impressed one of my managers.

·         Consolidating and organizing my old notebooks – I made it through two and a half notebooks. A whole tote full to go.

·         Learning to play the violin – I can play with it and have some fun, but I need to set up a practice regimen and schedule visits with either a teacher or just a violin player who can give me some feedback and help direct my efforts. I don’t always get around to touching it.

·         Developing a recentering/recalibration practice – I’m still collecting material and developing ideas for how this should look. It’s on the slow burner right now.

·         Ham radio license – I am still stoked to do this, but I’ve decided that I need to close some tabs before adding this to my bandwidth. I want to do it justice.

·         Creating a blog as a home for these emails – I have a few ideas for the execution, but I need to come up with an enduring name, one which I can get a domain name for. Perhaps I’m overthinking this and should just put my name on it and move on with it.

·         Exercising using the book Get Strong – I have opened the book and then left it on the shelf to go eat a mug cake. Oh! I must tell you how to turn Oreos into a warm and spongy mug cake! Take about five Oreos (filling and all), crumble them into a mug, pour three tablespoons of milk in there and mix it into a batter. Microwave this for 60 seconds, let it rest another 60, and then dig in. I think whipped cream would top it nicely.

Habits

My list of habits is getting long. I really need to work on making one or two stick before adding more to the picture. It’s not like I can’t do all of them, but until an action becomes a habit, I have to spend energy and willpower to get it done. Creating a habit means making an action happen on autopilot.

Habits I’ve tried to develop:

·         Exercising with Jack regularly – while I still do some things that can be considered exercise, it has been some weeks since I’ve done a full workout with him. I have tried doing little 10-minute yoga sessions while watching him. He thinks that’s boring.

·         Writing down story worthy moments every day – I am doing this most days. It has become more like a one sentence, daily journal entry, which is fine, but it strays from the original spirit of the story worthy exercise.

·         Keeping a daily gratitude journal – I do this almost daily. I still have to remind myself to do it.

·         Living “upstream”, solving problems before they become problems – this is one thing that I can say is more of a habit, though there is certainly more I could do with it. One of these days I’ll share a list I’m making of ways to incorporate this habit.

·         Cold showers – I do this most days. I can’t say it is pleasant, but at least I don’t dread it like I used to. It requires less self-discipline, and I feel comfortable with temperatures I would not have tolerated before practicing the cold showers. I used to have to turn the heat up gradually to be comfortable and now I am fine with lukewarm. It also makes getting out of the shower less dreadful. I call that a success.

·         Weekly planning sessions – This needs work. Bullet journaling is making this much easier, but it is still kind of irregular that I conduct a real planning session.

·         Writing down points of friction – This is helpful for figuring out new ways to solve recurring problems. I do need to work on my definitions because it’s getting harder to recognize friction points, at least points that I haven’t already listed. (See living upstream.)

·         Having a daily “beast mode” session – most of the time this takes the form of a before-bed house tidy. I also use it to give myself a kick in the pants if I find my mind flagging during work.

What Jack is up to

He is taking his first steps! Last Sunday his grandpa Redden was playing with him on the floor and casually says “watch this” as he set Jack on his feet out in front of him. Jack took two or three steps before toppling into Grandpa’s arms. That has been our favorite party trick ever since.

He still won’t depart from something solid of his own volition, but he has learned to move beyond the couch and moves around the rooms using walls and other things for support. This is nice because he can be around or explore and we don’t have to walk him around everywhere all the time.

He has graduated from the belly scoot and is doing his own version of what we affectionately call The Daphne Scoot, based on the way his cousin found her mobility.

He has discovered the pot and pan cupboard. He may not be quite ready to make it his playground yet. He pulled a bunch down on himself and thought the sky had fallen.

Once when the fridge was open, he climbed up inside it, using some very precarious shelves as a support. Getting him out of there was like trying to move an octopus, the way he latched onto everything within reach. This is also a problem with his walker, his reach is beyond the walker itself, so we have to keep a close eye to make sure he doesn’t pull drawers out over his head

The cutest thing is how he is trying to respond to things we say. He will try to imitate Katie sometimes, and after praying he says something that sounds like “amen”.

New words I’ve Encountered

Abstruse – difficult to understand, obscure. “His writing is a bit abstruse.”

Amicus – an impartial advisor, often voluntary, to a court of law in a particular case. We hear this word while watching Murder She Wrote, where Jessica Fletcher was described as “amicus curiae” as she revealed the method and identity of the murderer.

What I’m Working on Today

We are building a headboard for Grandma Bean (Katie’s mom) because there’s no room for a side table as things are currently arranged. See the photos. We’ll see how it goes getting pictures in here this time.

10 Upstream Practices

1.       Fuel up cars at ½ tank. At least don’t let it get to ¼.

2.       Keep a couple rolls of TP within reach of the toilet.

3.       Plan on any travel taking 5-10 minutes longer than you’d expect.

4.       Keep $10 or $20 in cash stowed in the car.

5.       (for apartment dwellers) Keep a pen in the mailbox to redirect mail addressed to previous tenants. Or better yet, get a stamp that says, “wrong address.”

6.       Plan meals at least a day ahead so you can pull meat out of the freezer to thaw.

7.       Have a coupe of date ideas up your sleeve.

8.       Keep a hat, coat, and gloves in the car. Also, keep water in there, and maybe granola bars.

9.       Use disposable containers when giving away food.

10.   Get ready for bed at 9:00 p.m. (you don’t have to go to bed yet, but it will make deciding to go to bed easier when you don’t have all those tasks keeping you from laying your head down.)

That concludes this week’s dose of Six-bullet Saturday. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or rude remarks. Sorry I didn’t get this out very early today. I suppose you are used to that by now. Anyway, have a great weekend!

Peter

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March 6 2021 Email

Hi guys,

This week’s email will be a quick one.

Ham Radio continued

I got some great questions that really helped to highlight the gaps in my understanding and spur me into deeper investigations.

I found an article which lays out the differences between walkie-talkies, ham radio, CB (citizen band), etc. Other articles are more confusing.

As I understand it, long-range walkie-talkies (farther than 2-5 miles) exist but still require a license. It has something to do with how much power the thing has. The article explains all that pretty well.

I’ve heard of a license for GMRS costing around $70 and ham radio costing as low as $15, which is what I believe it is here in Logan. 

There are 3 levels of license in ham radio (degrees of glory?) 1. Technician 2. General and 3. Extra (I know, they could do better than that for a name). It sounds like technician is good enough for most people.

A basic handheld radio is as cheap as $30. But like most hobbies the sky is the limit for upgrades.

If you want to know more about the GPS functions look into APRS. There are plenty of articles or videos about it. Some radios come with that capability built in, but I think any will work if you have a certain device which connects to it. From what I’ve learned you can not only broadcast your position (and I believe “broadcast” is the right term), but you can also send texts, email, and even receive replies.

Let me know if this answered your questions adequately and let me know if you have more. I may compose an article of my own to help me answer questions intelligently when someone asks.

There are a couple of guys in my ward who are licensed. This is what they say about the licensing process:

There are apps or websites like Hamstudy.org that give you questions and practice tests. There is a pool of 450 questions, but the test is only 35 questions. You can pass with 26 or 27 correct. While it’s not recommended, many people simply muscle through the test by memorizing the answers, but obviously actually understanding the material is best.

They have tests online since COVID-19, but the Logan club still puts one on in person every other month. Where it is at, I don’t know yet. It sounds like they will give the Technician test and then ask if you want to try the General test for no extra charge. If you know your stuff you could go all the way up to Extra in one go.

So, I do intend to study and take the test this month. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 New Words

·         Gestalt

·         Mot juste

·         Degage

·         Gaol

·         Sequela

·         Doggerel

·         Raconteur

I’m curious how you would like to see this section in the future. Do you like the hyperlink taking you to the dictionary definition, or do you like how I did it before? I think best case scenario I would compose my own descriptions and examples of use to help cement it in my brain.

What Jack is up to

·         Playing hide and seek in his walker, chasing me from the pantry to the bathroom and all around the kitchen.

·         Standing up in his crib, and pretty much everywhere else where he has a handhold.

·         Standing for short periods of time without any hand holds.

·         Saying more things, singing.

·         Pointing and looking where we point.

·         Crawling all over us and being endlessly busy.

·         Today he began a kind of bear crawl.

I ran out of time and mental fuel again this week, which is why this is so short. I’m hoping to get a blog going soon. Thanks for reading friends. As always, let me know what you find interesting or how I could improve.

Peter

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Feb. 27 2021 Email

Happy Sunday everyone!

This week we’ve had some unexpected things happening so this will be short.

I need a gym

Jack is a great trainer, but he has a limited repertoire. For much of my workouts he becomes a spectator. It is motivating though when reaching the top of a pushup makes him giggle.

I could go to the gym, but apart from a monthly membership, the process for getting a workout is more of an investment than I think it should be. When finding 30 minutes work out is hard enough, it’s hard to justify an extra 30 minutes or so it takes just to get there and back. That doesn’t sound right out loud, but let’s be honest, it’s never as simple as we think. Or I could remove 90% of the work and excuses by building a home gym.

What do I need for a home gym? I like the idea of working out without weights and machines, partly to be minimalist in my possessions, and partly because there is no room. But there’s only so much one can do without any equipment at all. One idea is to find a use for things in the home (or that should be there) like using canned goods or water bottles as weights, wearing a loaded backpack, 5-gallon buckets, carrying Jack in his car seat, etc. What I’m considering though, is to get some TRX bands or similar type of straps. For something the size and weight (and appearance) of ratchet straps you can expand the range and intensity of body weight exercises and do much more. If you have heard of or used these before let me know what you think of them! The only drawback is they are fairly expensive bought new (about $200-250). I toy with the idea of making them myself or getting a knockoff brand. Thoughts?

Get Strong

At some point in my podcast listening, I learned about the Kavadlo Brothers who are known for their body weight exercise program and using the urban environment as a gym. I bought their book called Get Strong, which is a 16-week program that starts out very simple and works you up to pretty intense stuff. For example, it starts out with inclined pushups (hands higher than the feet) and works you up to handstand pushups. Let’s see what I can do with myself in 16 weeks.

Why would I need TRX bands AND the Get Strong program? Well, I intend to make a couple modifications to their program to meet our specific needs.

Ham Radio

What do you know about ham radio? I recently discovered that the barrier to entry is much less intense than I thought. First of all, you don’t need to be licensed to own a ham radio, you can listen, you just can’t send anything. But getting licensed is pretty simple and we should all get it done for the following reasons:

·         Cell phones are great, but they are dependent on the towers being in good condition.

·         You can listen to local police and fire departments to know what is going on.

·         You can listen to weather conditions and forecasts.

·         You could communicate when phones are down or overloaded.

·         You could set up a computer to receive pings from a radio and track a location in areas where a phone might not have signal. So if I was traipsing through the mountains and wanted to make sure Katie knew where I was at and check in every night or so, a ham radio could make that happen.

Bullet journal iterations

Setting up and using a bullet journal is an iterative process for me. Every week I try a new weekly spread. Every month I can try to arrange my layout and pages differently to optimize for organization and ease of use. Aesthetics is not my top priority, at least not yet. Anyway, I’m putting together my pages for March.

What Jack is up to

He can sit up! When he wakes up, he pops up like a daisy in his crib. He is also learning to pull himself up, so we’ll have to lower his crib now.

You know that he loves to walk around while holding our hands, which is great for the back. He is much better at being able to stand by the couch and play. He can walk along the side of the couch by himself, and you can see him toying with the idea of letting go to reach something he’s interested in.

Well, that’s all this week, sorry I’m late getting it out and not giving a full six bullets, but you get what you pay for, lol. I am super curious what your thoughts are about the TRX bands and ham radio, so you can reach me by replying to this or sending a text or Marco Polo.

Have a great week coming into March!

Love Peter

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Feb. 20 2021 Email

Hi guys,

This week I’m trying another format for the email. Rather than use the same old bullet titles I usually do I’m using the actual title. Let me know which you prefer.

Beast Mode

You know that feeling where you can just work, where you seem free from resistance? You might know it as “flow state” or being “in the zone”. It’s probably most often experienced during those before-bed house tidying sessions or right before a deadline. It seems like you can accomplish 8 hours’ worth of work in 30 minutes. Can we initiate that on demand? How might my productivity be enhanced, or my stress reduced if I would engage in 2 minutes of beast mode for every task on my to-do list?

10 ways to enter and stay in Beast Mode:

1.       Make distractions harder to access (if I have to remember the password or ask someone for it so I can get on social media, I will probably leave it alone for days).

2.       Schedule a time to start.

3.       Have a timer. Use a kitchen timer, or a pomodoro app. You should be able to hear the ticking.

4.       Use the 2-minute rule. Anything that can be done in less than 2 minutes, do it now.

5.       Keep moving. Don’t stop to rest.

6.       Schedule time to rest. Make a promise with yourself to rest at a certain time and keep your promise. You will begin to build internal integrity and trust. If you can trust yourself, you will be more likely to listen to yourself.

7.       Accept that comfort is not efficacious.

8.       Don’t worry about perfection. 80% is good enough for 80% of things we do, including this list.

Emergency Prep: Financial

How would a serious economy crash affect me? What would that look like for me? Besides having a $1,000 emergency fund and 6 months of expenses saved, what might I do now to position myself and my family to not just survive, but thrive, if things take a turn for the worse? Some say that another economic crash is imminent. Personally, I believe that the current trend of land and housing going through the roof is not sustainable, then again, my boss has been saying that for years.

Things to consider: What if people stopped building houses, however unlikely? Would I have a job? How could I pivot myself to make a living? What can I do now to make that transition faster?

Jack learning to scoot and other things

Jack experienced quite a leap this week! He learned to move by himself. We can’t yet say he learned to crawl, because it’s more like a scoot. Watching him scoot across the floor is like watching a man dying of thirst in a desert, slowly and laboriously reaching out and pulling himself forward. His legs are barely involved, except when there is a phone or remote to be reached and then everything is involved (though not effectively).

He does really well feeding himself now. Not with utensils, of course, just small morsels of cereal or pieces of cracker. For a while he could barely get his little fingers to clamp squarely onto a piece and then only manage to get his fist to his mouth. Now he can dexterously maneuver his hands to get the food inside.

He learned to click his tongue a little bit and turns book pages.

Since he loves walking so much, we bought him a cheap walker on Facebook Marketplace. It was cheap, but the previous owners didn’t bother to wash it. At. All. I spent a solid hour of scouring it and disinfecting it before we let him touch it. Katie put the cloth parts through the wash. Now it looks great. He learned quickly and now charges across the kitchen like the light brigade, banging into walls.

Marriage Celebration

Every year the Utah Marriage Commission puts on an event called a Marriage Celebration. Previously it was held at Weber State University. You bought a ticket and had your pick of several workshops and lectures about developing stronger marriages. We saw all kinds of people there and all ages. It was inspiring to be in a crowd with a positive attitude about marriage and family.

This year it was virtual, of course, which was so much better because we could watch the ones that were most interesting in the moment, but we also have access to the rest of them, so we don’t have to decide between two happening at the same time. Plus, it was from the comfort of home, we didn’t need a babysitter.

Here is a link to the program, so you can see what sort of topics they talked about. I wish I had thought of mentioning it sooner so anyone interested (that wasn’t already aware of it) could have attended.

New Words

·         Assythment – restitution, a sum paid under old Scottish law as compensation to the family for murder.

·         Alveary – a beehive, or anything resembling one. Also, the external ear canal.

·         Morass – an area of muddy or boggy ground.

·         Imbroglio (pronounced imbrolio) – an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation. “the Watergate imbroglio”

·         Scriptorium – a place for writing (usually referring to a room in a monastery).

There were a lot more words where these came from. We watched The Professor and the Madman, a movie about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, or more specifically, the men involved in it. New and unfamiliar words were rattled off so fast I took only a few before raising the white flag.

I wish I could do justice in describing it. I’ll give it a go anyway. It vacillated between the sweet and the grotesque in a way that we weren’t sure what to think about it. On one hand it was an amazing story, full of delightful depictions of family and the love of books and words, on the other hand the scenes in the asylum, and flashbacks to Civil War violence were ones I wouldn’t show a child. That said, it was amazingly free of strong language or immorality. Here’s a link to the parent’s guide. So, do I recommend it? Yes, but be advised that small children might not be able to handle it. It was fun to watch as a couple.

The professor is Sir James Augustus Henry Murray, a Scottish lexicographer (played by Mel Gibson). The madman was William Chester Minor (played by Sean Penn), a retired US Army surgeon with paranoid delusions which led him to shoot a man he believed to be his pursuer, which landed him in an insane asylum where he became a volunteer contributor for the dictionary.

I recognized a few people in the film which also made it fun to watch: Mel Gibson, of course, and Jennifer Ehle (known as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, the best one in my estimation), Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes), and Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower).

What if this email was a blog instead?

Pros:

·         Readers could more easily navigate to other posts.

·         Readers could give direct feedback.

·         Posts could be shared.

·         Pictures would be easier to include.

·         Subscribers could manage their preferences easily and anonymously.

·         Simple process once everything is set up.

·         Ability to monitor the stats (how many views, which posts are most popular, etc.)

Cons:

·         Initial setup takes careful consideration and work (domain name, up loading previous emails).

·         Learning curve (I’ve worked with blogs before, but never with actual subscribers, I’ll have to dedicate time to figure it all out).

·         Some might prefer the simple email format.

·         Temptation to focus on the stats instead of the content.

You, gentle reader, might think of more pros or cons. If so, please share them. As it stands, I think the blog is the way to go in the future. The “when” is not settled.

Well, that wraps up another week of Peter’s ponderous pontifications. I look forward to your feedback to help me make things better every week. Chao.

Love, Peter

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Feb. 13 2021 Email

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

I didn’t manage to get this week’s email out on time because I didn’t plan ahead enough. So, a day later than my later date, I’m finally getting this out. This weekend Katie, Jack and I had a little get-away where we went down to Salt Lake City over night. We visited the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, stayed in a hotel with a pool, and spent some time at Cactus and Tropicals.

Something I love:

When you feel winter getting to you I recommend paying a visit to Cactus and Tropicals. You step inside and suddenly you’re outside in a lush and warm summer garden. Green leaves, red terra cotta, and gray fountains are everywhere, the sound of tricking water and the smell of warm and humid earth permeate your senses. Even if it’s crowded it’s the most therapeutic place to be. I like to walk around breathing deeply, letting my eyes rest from the dirty gray and white of the city in winter. I wish it wasn’t so far away so I could visit it more often.

New Words:

·         Outré (ootray) – Unusual, outlandish, shocking.

·         Subsume – include or absorb something in something else.

·         Recherche (reshershay)– rare, exotic, or obscure.

Emergency Prep Tip:

Have spare batteries for smoke alarms so that when they run low and start chirping, they won’t wake the baby. That was our experience last night at about midnight. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a spare so we had to unplug it until we can get new batteries. And, as a side note, you’re not supposed to put just any old 9-volt battery in some detectors, there is a list of compatible types on the back of the smoke detector, which may account for some not functioning properly when the battery is replaced.

Related questions I’d like you’re feedback on: What do you do to prepare for emergencies in your home? Do you simply collect supplies? Do you make plans? Do you practice what to do in specific scenarios? Does everyone in the house have some first aid training?

Many years ago, I remember feeling very sheepish about the way I responded to the announcement that our house was on fire. I ran down to the kitchen sink and then ran back and forth between the cupboard, the sink, the door (to get the hose?), and back to the sink, and finally filled a cup and ran back upstairs where the fire was already put out. Have a plan before-hand, people.

A family in our ward shared something they like to do for FHE. They have a 100-sided die and a list of 100 things to do to practice emergency preparedness. Things on the list include stuff like discussing what to do in certain scenarios, brainstorming ways to use items for emergency purposes, and practicing first aid skills.

Thought provoking question:

If you had a bucket list in the pre-mortal existence, what do you think might have been on it? Would it look something like lists we know and love which include places to go, things to accomplish, and things to see, or would it have something else?

What I’m doing to improve:

Look out for friction. Pay attention to the things that slow you down or make you frustrated. Note what you find difficult and what takes the most self-discipline to get yourself to do. It might be a task or just a part of a task. Identifying the points of friction is half the battle.

With my work I’m trying to double my speed and effectiveness at designing trusses, and this is how I’m going about it. Each day I search for opportunities for marginal gains. When I find something, I write it down and track it. Recently I’ve been working on using more keyboard shortcuts instead of using the mouse to click on tools on the toolbar at the top. It’s amazing how much time it saves.

What Jack is up to:

He is busier than Katie and I put together. He want’s to be a big boy, right now. Crawling is for babies; he wants to walk. He always grabs our hands, pulls himself up, and struts across the floor. His hips are out of control.

That’s enough for this week. Have a good one you guys!

Love, Peter

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Feb. 6 2021 Email

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Here is this week’s dose of me. Enjoy. Or don’t, if you’d rather not.

Development of Bullet Journal

I bought a new bullet journal so I can start from the beginning instead of halfway through my old one. I still keep the old one while I continue to experiment and work out what I want to have in my new one.

Katie has another method. She is using a note taking app on her iPad which gives her wonderful editing power. But that power, along with her professional graphic designer’s eye means she can keep fiddling with it and perfecting it indefinitely. She has spent days just collecting and experimenting with fonts. Of course, once she is finished, she will have a beautiful working template that can be replicated as often as she needs or wants. I will have to redraw lines and write numbers and days each month. So instead of spreading out the iterations over the course of the year like I will be doing, she is doing it all beforehand, which justifies the initial investment. Which is the better way?

I think, when you buy a nice notebook, you should always have an old one handy, or buy two, so you can absolutely trash the one and put the stuff you want to save in the other. I once had a journal for two whole years because I didn’t want to blemish it with anything less than perfection. I wanted it to be a beautifully crafted work, something I could put on the shelf of my future library and be proud to let people see it. Saying this out loud makes it sound ridiculous, but I’m sure you can relate to the mindset that keeps us from starting things and failing and progressing to the point where we could actually produce such an opus. I have to remind myself that I’m never going to produce a work of art in the first draft.

Daily Routine

I’m still flexible on the order, but you can see on my habit tracker the things I’m trying to incorporate into my daily routine, categorized by the time of day they should be happening.

Progress on the violin:

Soon I will have something figured out to show video of me playing. Stay tuned (no pun intended).

Words

·         Chiaroscuro – the treatment of light and dark in drawing and painting.

·         Rabelaisian – displaying earthy, bawdy humor.

·         Einstellung Effect – Einstellung refers to a person’s predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though better or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist. In other words, thinking inside the box.

Reading “A Mind for Numbers” by Barbara Oakley

This is an excellent book about learning how to learn more effectively. I listen to it on Audible on my twice weekly commute to the office. Here is a quick summary.

What Jack is up to:

·         Sleeps on his side or belly (strangely enough)

·         Katie taught him to clap when she says “clap, clap, clap.”

·         Eats solid foods (a relative term) 3 times a day.

·         Prefers walking to everything else.

·         Still hates tummy time, which means he hasn’t learned to crawl yet.

·         Loves laying on the Sherpa blanket in nothing but his diaper.

Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts if you want, I’d love to hear which bullet you found most interesting, or any constructive criticism. I’d also love to hear what things are occupying your time and interest these days.

Until next time,

Peter

P.S. I tried to get pictures put in amongst the text, but somehow I’m struggling to make that happen so

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Jan. 30 2021 Email

Hi guys. I hope this email finds everyone happy and well.

What I’m doing to improve:

Last week I talked about mental limits. Part of overcoming those barriers is discovering new ground, so this week I’ll share a list I came up with for broadening horizons.

1.       Travel – I was already familiar with Mexico before the cruise, but there was much to learn even on the boat. One evening at dinner we were too late to find a table for two, so the waiters put us in a group table with three other couples. We had a fascinating dinner conversation with people from Texas, California, and Canada. And waiters were usually either Filipino or Ukrainian.

2.       Try a new recipe – last night Katie and I tried making gnocchi (a keto version).

3.       Read a book of a genre you haven’t yet tried.

4.       Ask someone what book they have enjoyed. Read it.

5.       Eat at a new restaurant, preferably of an unfamiliar cuisine.

6.       Talk to someone from a different culture or nationality.

7.       Visit a new building in your town or the next one over. (Stores, museums, libraries, parks)

8.       Watch a new documentary.

9.       Read a travel magazine – while I didn’t actually read one, in a class for Microsoft Word I was given some sample writing to work with, which happened to be about traveling to the Fjords of Norway. It was something I had never heard of and found quite fascinating.

10.   Ask people about things that are important to them.

What I’m tracking:

Habits and exercises. These are practice trackers, so I wasn’t too worried about aesthetics. Apparently. Also, when I create next month’s tracker I will organize things a bit better.

What Jack is up to:

Attempting to learn to crawl. Yes, so far, just attempting.

What I’m listening to:

Master and Commander

Something Wild:

Turning Arrows

New Words:

·         Austral – Southern. That’s where the name Australia came from. It used to be called New Holland.

·         Glebe – a piece of land serving as part of a clergyman’s benefice and providing income (British historical vernacular).

·         Halberd – The weapon used by halberdiers. You know them as the spear/ax-like things used by medieval guards.

·         Venal – being susceptible to bribery.

·         Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from other’s misfortune.

·         Epigrammatic – concise, clever, amusing.

·         Rood – a measure of land equal to a quarter of an acre (British historical vernacular).

·         Most of these words come from reading G.K. Chesterton’s work.

I hope you enjoy this week’s Six-bullet Saturday, brought to you by Jack’s naptime! Have a great weekend.

Peter 

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