Personal Update 202206 | 1 Jun 2022


Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. After more than two years of staying close to home during the pandemic, in May we decided to make a trip to Saint Louis and spent a couple days there. The photo above is from the Missouri Botanical Garden on 6 May 2022.

Time Tracking

I began developing a time tracking system back in April. It’s a grid system with each square of the grid representing a minute of time. This allows for easy visual tracking and review of time spent on projects. I’ve revised the system slightly since I first developed it.

This paper-based system can track time, exercise, finances, sleep, nutrition, and handle other entries throughout the day.

I use a 3-hole punch for the pages which have a gutter margin for the binding. Staples has inexpensive brass binding fasteners to hold the pack of pages.

Paper is available made from sawmill waste, produced using wind energy and hydropower. [Learn More]

Included as part of this paper-based time tracking system, are half-sized sheets of paper used for notes and daily task goals. The reason for the 1/2 sheet is to save paper, and be able to reuse existing scrap paper.

Spending more time with pen and paper results in less time on my smartphone, and less time spent on social media, YouTube, and other distractions. Less screen time, and more time with pen and paper, seems to result in a more calm and grounded day.

US Postal Service

In pursuing my goal of reducing daily screen time, I’ve started using postal mail as an alternative to email. This is particularly helpful for communicating with people who have trouble with technology. Something as seemingly simple as email actually requires many systems to be functioning properly.

If I have something that I want someone to print out, it’s easier for me to print it and mail it to them. This avoids having them encounter problems like being low on ink, out of paper, having Internet problems, computer issues, etc.

Using postal mail is a low-stress simple solution for communicating. It reinforces low-tech alternatives. I want to be supporting the postal service. It’s really valuable to have a national network that makes it possible to send a letter or package thousands of miles for pennies. Sending a physical letter, card, or gift is a more personal way to connect with people.

Artist Promotion

In the past I would occasionally send out prints of my own photography. Lately with my return to using postal mail more frequently, I’m sending out thank you note cards featuring local Iowa City artists. One artist I am supporting is Mara Cole, who has some nice water color paintings of flowers. [Example]

I’ve created a “self-print program” for supporting artists and promoting their work. I use 5×7-inch photo paper for the prints, and the artist gets paid for each print to help support their work. On the back of the print I put a sticker with the artist name, the name of the work, and contact details for the artist. This is a fun way to print-on-demand and choose art that seems to fit the recipient of a thank you note.

I don’t write on the printed card. That way the recipient can use it as a note card for someone else if they want. I have some 6×9-inch envelopes that work perfectly for sending 5×7-inch prints along with a separate note. [View Envelopes]

Only a single first class stamp is needed for postage to send a 6×9-inch envelope. An extra ounce stamp can be used if needed for sending several prints.

Staples and Best Buy

In recent years, I had become a regular Amazon customer. I like the selection, crowd-sourced product reviews, low cost, and fast shipping options. We now have an Amazon warehouse in our city. Yet, I feel that Amazon is still not quite as ‘local’ as stores like Staples and Best Buy. With these local stores, I can still purchase online and get fast free home delivery.

For items I purchase online, returns are much easier with local stores like Staples and Best Buy. For some products, I like the ability to go into a local store and visually examine and compare items before purchasing. For these reasons, I like the combined convenience of online shopping from local stores.

You Can’t Grow a Computer

The pandemic resulted in millions of people working from home. Those people all wanted printers and laptop computers. This created a global shortage of equipment.

More recently, supply chain issues and limited chip availability have caused further shortages of technology. This year, the war between Russia and Ukraine has abruptly disrupted the supply of neon which is essential for computer manufacturing.

Computers and chip-based devices require mining of rare minerals and other non-renewable resources.

I like relying on a paper-based system because I know it is more renewable and sustainable than a computer-based system. Paper can be made from sugar cane production waste, bamboo, or other materials. Computers can’t be grown. They can only be mined and produced at great expense.

The other benefit of a paper-based system is that it requires no electricity. It’s more reliable. It’s easier to use and improve.

I’ll still use computers and tech devices, but with less reliance and dependence on them.

A system that you can grow from the ground is much more advanced than one made with diminishing scarce non-renewable materials.


Last month I mentioned that I created a page for my long-term and short-term plans. It’s something I’ve been developing and thinking about for many years but want to get it written down and expanded on. [View Page]


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Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 22 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith/philosophy), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the Life Map presented on the Resources For Life website. [View]