Personal Update 201911 | 30 Nov 2019 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS

I enjoy making instructional videos. This month I posted a few more on my YouTube channel. These videos are usually inspired by tech support questions people have for me. By posting a video, they get an answer to their question and others can benefit as well.

SMALL HOUSES

It’s been 10 years since I lived in my tiny house on wheels, but I continue to stay involved in the small house movement. This month I gave a presentation about the small house movement and answered some questions from those attending. Below is a video of the event.

 

THANKS!

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

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Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Tiny House Talk with Greg Johnson (2 Nov 2019)

Greg Johnson of the Small House Society talks about the tiny house movement over the past 19 years. This event took place at the Public Library in Hiawatha, Iowa. 

Personal Update 201910 | 31 Oct 2019 | Thursday

GREETINGS!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

BIKE WEBSITES

In the summer of 2017, I setup some websites to promote bicycling: BikeWorkLife.com, IowaCityBikeTrails.com and BikeIowaCity.com. This summer I transferred ownership and management of the Bike Iowa City website to the Coralville / Iowa City area visitors bureau Think Iowa City. My hope is that having a team manage that site will help it grow further than I could take it on my own. I donated the site and the companion social media accounts. It was a good feeling to be able to make that contribution to promote local cycling efforts. I’ll continue to develop the Bike Work Life and Iowa City Bike Trails websites.

WRITINGS

In October I wrote two articles. One about Media Reform and another about an Apple MacOS Catalina error. I also created an election 2020 survey. Feel free to take the survey if you’re interested.

THANKS!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201909 | 1 Sep 2019 | Sunday

GREETINGS!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

SAINT LOUIS VISIT

I’ve posted some photos from a recent visit to Saint Louis. Click here to view the gallery. I’m trying to be better about sharing photos soon after returning from trips.

CAR CARE VIDEO

After a while without any videos posted, I created one about vehicle care. I’ll embed the video here. The direct link is https://youtu.be/hNAktUmH2Z8

Note: I’d initially posted the video with YouTube ads turned on, but I’ve now turned off ads so a good number of people can see it ad free. Once it’s had a some views, I’ll put ads back on for the long-term. I thought that having ads might allow the video to get more exposure – assuming Google favors videos that make them ad revenue. I didn’t notice any benefit to having ads on.

THANKS!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201908 | 18 Aug 2019 | Sunday

GREETINGS!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

APPLE CARD

It’s likely you’ve not heard about Apple’s new credit card yet. It’s not had as much publicity as their computers, and the card itself isn’t yet fully available to the public. Apple began sending out a limited number of early invitations for the card on August 6 and I received an invitation on August 8. I presume these invitations will continue to trickle out over the next two weeks until the official launch.

I wrote an article about the Apple Card and some problems people were having during this soft launch. The article has had a relatively small number of readers — about 160 people mostly from the U.S. who have specifically searched on an error message to find my article which was published quietly. Nobody else will likely see the article unless they search on that error.

I believe there are multiple problems with the Apple Card launch process which make it a very valuable learning experience for anyone considering launching a new product or service.

If you’d like an inside look at the product launch process and some of the issues encountered feel free to read the article. [More…]

TRANSPORTATION

In my newsletter last month, I shared about my upgrade in transportation. I’ve been riding an electric bicycle much of the time that gets the equivalent of about 1,300 miles per gallon equivalent. In other words, for what you might spend on a gallon of gas, for the same amount of money in electricity, I can go about 1,300 miles. When I’m not on the bicycle, I’ve been driving a Subaru Ascent with semi-autonomous driving. That’s really been helping reduce driving fatigue for all the consulting related traveling I’m doing. The combination of the two modes of transportation has been a great improvement.

WASTE AUDIT

While at the University of Iowa, I was on the Green Team for the departments I worked with. In case you’ve not heard the term before, a Green Team is a group focused on sustainability efforts for an organization or business unit.

During that time we conducted a waste audit which involves going through entire dumpsters of garbage and separated the waste into categories. Then an assessment was made regarding how much of the waste being sent to landfill could have been recycled or composted. From the audit we could measure how much we were recycling of our total waste stream.

This month I decided to start my own in-home waste audit which focuses on actionable data to reduce our contribution to landfill. We already recycle all our glass, paper, plastic, cardboard, and metal, and we live in a partially solar powered complex. But I’d like to do more. To get a baseline to measure progress, I’m using a simple luggage scale to monitor how many pounds of garbage we dispose of that goes to landfill. The strap from the luggage scale can quickly measure the kitchen trash bag as I lift it. I enter that data into a spreadsheet along with the weight and volume of materials we’re recycling, and the weight of compost. This way, I can calculate how many pounds of garbage we produce in a month, and begin to measure success at reducing that. It’s a very quick and easy collection of valuable data that just takes a second when you’re taking out the trash.

A simple set of goals might be to increase our recyclable materials and biodegradable food compost. Right? Well, actually, no.

I’d like to see us reduce our recycling and compost.

Compost is a great thing. It’s better than putting food in landfills. But not having food waste is even better. I try to prepare meals with the goal of reducing food waste.

From my perspective having an increase in recyclable materials simply reflects that we’re not shopping in the bulk isle at the grocery store with reusable containers. We’re buying products packaged in containers that, even if they can be recycled, are very costly to repurpose. So, I want to slowly phase-in reusable containers and bulk items. Today I noticed that our natural food store (the New Pioneer Co-op) has a bulk foods frozen section. This makes it possible to buy frozen foods in reusable containers. In the photo below you can see that these bulk frozen items are pre-made meals which even further reduces container and packaging waste.

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WELLNESS

I’ve been sticking to a low-carb, low-sugar, high protein diet with lots of leafy green veggies — and that seems to be producing good results. I’m also continuing with a home workout program that includes yoga, meditation, strength training, and walking.

THANKS!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201907 | 31 Jul 2019 | Wednesday

GREETINGS!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

TRANSPORTATION

This month there has been a big change to my transportation situation. I’ll begin with some context.

One of my favorite vehicles to own was a 1993 Geo Metro that could get over 40MPG due to its small size and 3 cylinder engine. The Geo Metro replaced a very large, very heavy, 8-cylinder powered car that was getting 12 miles per gallon. So, what I saved in gas every month more than paid for the Geo Metro. It was easy to park, fun to drive, and surprisingly roomy. After putting over 220,000 miles on that car, I eventually retired it to a junkyard and began riding my bicycle full-time — a task made easier by having a short and predictable daily commute over about 15 years.

For many years, I didn’t own a car. I would rent a car when needed for longer road trips, take a taxi, or use public transit, but most of the time, I’d ride my bike. After some years went by, I began driving a leased Toyota Corolla, then a Honda CRV, and in 2016 started driving a Subaru Forester.

In the past few years of doing full-time consulting, I had intentionally been limiting my work to people and businesses that were easy to reach on a bicycle. I also was trying not to take on projects that required filling up a car with heavy equipment. People would deliver computers to my home instead. It was possible to run the business 90% by bicycle, but I was limiting my work quite a bit. I was reducing my own carbon footprint, but that was mostly just shifting the driving and carbon output to others.

In 2018, I realized that being on the bike so much can result in some health problems such as skin cancer, cataracts, and possible bicycle accidents. I also realized that using the car when practical could allow me to take on more work and serve more people. So, I began using the car more.

While the bike had its potential negative effects on health, so did the car. Driving so much was making me more sedentary. I began to notice some stiffness, and even ankle soreness from so much back and forth between the brake and accelerator – which is common with in-town driving.

For the past few years, I’ve been driving a 2016 Subaru Forester. It’s a very small SUV-style vehicle that’s a little taller than its station-wagon inspired sibling, the Subaru Outback. The Forester was great for hauling computers and its small size allowed it to have impressive fuel efficiency for an all-wheel-drive vehicle. However, with more daily driving, I was finding the legroom to be a bit cramped, and the road noise would make it hard to dictate or hear on the phone sometimes. I was hoping for something a little larger. Last year, Subaru started making a slightly larger Forester-like vehicle called the Ascent. The entry model is roughly the same cost as a higher Forester trim package.

In addition to being very quiet, and having more legroom, the Ascent has some additional features that reduce driving fatigue, especially the ankle fatigue from the repetitive stress of braking and accelerating. There’s a brake-hold feature, so the brake will stay held on once you stop at a light even without your foot on the brake. That’s a big help. Also, in-town and on the highway, the automated driving assistance features are very helpful. The car can accelerate, stop, and resume to a normal speed without use of the accelerator or brake pedal. There’s a learning curve to having some of the driving tasks handled by artificial intelligence. It’s like sharing the driving with someone who has their feet on the brake and accelerator while you have your hands on the steering wheel. It’s not quite like fully autonomous driving, but there’s definitely less fatigue. In just the first few days of driving the car I’m noticing that all the driving fatigue and signs of repetitive stress are gone. I’ll probably create a video and write an article about the Ascent to share more about its other features.

You might think the Ascent is the big transportation news from this month, but there’s more. I’ve been riding the same bike for many years – a heavy slow bike that emphasizes comfort and posture over pedaling efficiency. I’ve enjoyed that bike, but it was more exhausting to ride than a lighter more efficient bike. As a result, it was less practical to ride longer distances. On days when I had a lot of client work to do, I would just drive instead of riding the bike.

About two weeks ago, I purchased an electric bike that is really quite amazing. With the electric motor assisting, it’s possible to keep up with traffic on most in-town streets – so drivers are not suddenly coming up upon you. It’s those sudden surprises that distracted drivers aren’t prepared for, but when you’re riding with the flow of traffic, drivers have more time to see you and respond as needed. The extra boost of having a plug-in electric bike means that it’s possible to say yes to biking more often, even when errands and work take you farther away. It’s not a problem on an electric bike. So, now I’m running more errands and doing more consulting work on the bike, in less time. That’s less time in the heat and sunlight. I can arrive where I’m going without breaking too much of a sweat. Because it’s a bicycle, I can still take bike trails which are usually more direct than driving routes around town. Most destinations are reachable in less time on the bike than they are by car. With bike lanes to avoid traffic and more convenient parking for bicycles, the bike is really an appealing choice.

Riding the electric bike feels like riding a very expensive lightweight racing bike with biking shoes clipped to the pedals and narrow tires with 110 pounds of air pressure. All the expense to make a bike lighter, the discomfort of leaning over to reduce wind resistance, and the slick spandex biking clothing are not needed. The electric motor makes the 50-pound bicycle feel like a 15-pound bicycle. It makes hills feel like they aren’t so steep. It’s like everywhere you ride you have a 30 mile per hour tailwind.

The combination of a more comfortable car, and faster bicycle, has really made a huge difference for my biking and driving experience. I’ll be able to better enjoy my driving while needing the car less now that I have a speedy bike.

WELLNESS

My improvised home workout is going well. I’ve been able to recreate the gym membership experience at home using tension bands and a few inexpensive free weights. Before strength training, I’m still starting the day with yoga, meditation, and then a morning walk/run that lasts about 20 minutes.

I’m maintaining a low-carb, low-sugar, high-protein diet with incremental fasting. I don’t have any fixed targets for intake, but generally, I’m consuming 20 grams of carbs per meal, 5 grams of sugar per meal, and 50 to 70 grams of protein per day. So, nothing too extreme. My sugar intake occasionally is higher if I have fruit. I count all forms of sugar and equivalents, not just refined sugar. To keep my carb intake low, I avoid bread, rice, pasta, beans, potatoes, chips, and other non-essentials that are high in carbs. This is a flexible diet that’s easy for me to stick to. As of this month, I’ve reached my lowest body weight in more than 6 years. The weight loss is slow and gradual, which is a good thing for long-term success.

THANKS!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201906 | 30 June 2019 | Sunday

GREETINGS!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

WELLNESS

This past month I developed a strength training program that I can do at home with a few dumbbells, kettlebells, and exercise bands. Using these inexpensive items, I’ve been saving time and won’t need to pay for gym membership. I feel like my workout is better and its nice having the ability to take my workout on the road when traveling. In addition to the strength training program, I have also been walking instead of using an elliptical machine. I’ve been seeing better results that from my workouts at the gym.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been cutting back on my carbohydrate intake, so no rice, beans, bread, pasta, or sweets. I’ve written about this in the past, but only recently have a renewed interest in this eating plan. I’ve also started tracking my water intake with a goal of 64 ounces per day.

RESOURCES FOR LIFE

I made a slight redesign to the Resources for Life website. The logo is centered at the top of the page and the menu is centered underneath. For the mobile view of the site, there’s a drop-down menu.

TECH WRITINGS

I’ve written some tech tip guides this past month. You can find them along with some other writings on the Resources for Life news page.

THANKS!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

 

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201905 | 31 May 2019 | Friday

Greetings!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

Wellness

This month I adjusted my workout routine. In the past, I was lifting about 13,000 pounds every morning for a cumulative of over 250,000 pounds per month. Now I’m lifting only 8,940 pounds each workout and only going a few days a week — sometimes skipping three to four days for rest in between workouts.

By exercising two or three days and then resting two or three days, I am able to have several days of recovery time. According to my body analysis scale, this process helps increase muscle mass by avoiding ongoing muscle breakdown.

Another aspect of having a more flexible and casual workout routine is that I can place a higher priority on sleep and if there’s a morning when I’m short on sleep, instead of waking at 5M to get to the gym early, I can sleep in a bit and make sure I’m fully rested.

As far as wellness metrics and outcomes, sleep seems to be more critical than exercise if given a choice.

Thanks!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201904 | 30 Apr 2019 | Tuesday

Greetings!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

New Office Furniture

For most of my life, I’ve been using cardboard bankers boxes to store and organize my stuff with plastic shelves to stack them on. My ‘desk’ has been one of those tables with folding legs you see used at church potlucks. This has partly been motivated by the feeling of having ‘beat the system’ by functioning on a shoestring budget. However, my office can appear to be cluttered and not as efficient as possible.

As I produce more videos for YouTube, I’ve wanted to create a ‘studio office’ that doubles as a recording studio as well as work space. So, this past month I upgraded the office with solid wood custom Amish-built furniture that fits the space and my needs perfectly. This way I can document the work I’m doing in an attractive non-cluttered environment. If you’ll go to my YouTube channel, you can see the cabinets behind me in the most recent five videos. In the weeks ahead, I hope to create a ‘my studio’ video, which is a common genre of video showing the furniture and tech gear used for producing videos, music, or other content. [see examples] You’ll get a closer look at what my setup looks like.

Monthly Emails

I’ve been using Yahoo Groups for about 20 years as a system for sending out monthly newsletters. It’s worked okay in the past, but recently their system hasn’t been consistently functioning properly. So, in 2019 I’m switching all my mailings over to Mail Chimp. To signup to receive my monthly email, please click here.

The monthly emails are important because they offer a less intensive subscription for people who don’t want to receive updates every time I post something to my website. One email a month is more manageable for most people.

Thanks!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 201903 | 31 Mar 2019 | Sunday


Greetings!

I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

INDIA

This month I spent about a week in India. The trip lasted from March 14-25 with about four days total of airline travel over and back, and some days after returning to adjust to Iowa time again.

Flight Plan. Our original planned flight path would have taken us over Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan but as we approached these various military hotspots and no-fly-zones the flight path changed to avoid those countries entirely. It was interesting watching the rerouting in realtime on the seat-back display.

Global WiFi. My primary phone is an iPhone using AT&T. My secondary phone is a Moto X4 using Google Fi global connectivity. It was my first experience traveling around the world with virtually unlimited calling, text, and high-speed internet access. The Moto X4 is about $200 on Amazon and the Google Fi service starts at $20 a month. [Learn More] I’d been enjoying the Google Fi network in the U.S. to get phone and internet service where other providers have none. It was nice to use it internationally, and actually quite amazing to land in another country and have seamless inexpensive phone and internet service.

Infrastructure. I visited India about 7 times between 2008 to 2012 and was surprised to see back then how far advanced the country is beyond the United States in the areas of life that matter. On this most recent visit, I was astonished to observe the progress that transpired over 7 years since my last visit to Lucknow, India. This time I saw newly surfaced roads without potholes. Taxis running on clean solar power. New public transit metro subway train systems. Mesh network phone and data with seemingly no signal outages. They have a nationalized healthcare system. When is the farmers market? Everyday. Where is the farmers market? Everywhere. There are fresh food vendors just about everywhere you look. In the U.S. we have city parks that are decorative urban accents of green. In Lucknow, they built one of the biggest parks in Asia. See the video below of Janeshwar Mishra Park.

Economy. The United States is $22 trillion in debt. India has an economy 1/3 our size and the national debt is about 2% of what ours is. Where is all of our money going in the United States? We’re $22 trillion in debt, yet we have schools being closed down, teachers being underpaid, hospitals closing, roads crumbling, healthcare becoming unaffordable, bridges failing inspections, food scarcity, public transit initiatives not getting approval, and I still can’t get a good phone signal in many locations in Iowa City. We’re supposed to have a government (and an economy) of the people, by the people, and for the people, but I’m increasingly feeling that our nation’s wealth is being siphoned away by a few dozen people who have better ‘access’ to our government and are given handouts and bailouts that the rest of us don’t get – like the ability to write-off the cost of a private jet. Imagine walking down the street and before someone robs you, they help you apply for a bunch of credit cards, then they help you take out cash advances on all those credit cards, then they rob you. That’s our situation in the United States. We have all this debt but not much to show for it. The people robbing us have helped us take out a huge cash advance prior to robbing us. Hopefully, this trend can change soon.

Wellness

This past month I had some good progress with various wellness goals. I reported last month that I’m working on developing the mindset needed for optimal wellness:

“The most impactful wellness practice is the most elusive one. It’s not in a pill. It’s not in a gym. It’s a mindset or a zone one needs to get their attitude focused on.”

I’ve been developing a system of incremental fasting (this is different from intermittent fasting). Incremental fasting involves always fasting from several things in parallel. Building layers of fasting conditions a person to develop greater discipline and self-control. We all fast about 8 hours a day while we sleep. Carrying a fast into the day can be done in ‘layers’ by starting with only water, then a few hours later having a light broth, then adding veggies, and then adding heavier low-carb foods later in the day. The outcome of this eating plan is to reduce calorie intake, but also reduce reactive insulin spikes that cause the body to store fat. Sugar and carbs are powerful appetite activators, so by removing those the appetite is suppressed making fasting easier. I’m now about 23 pounds down from my highest weight. With focus, I will hopefully continue having progress.

Monthly Emails

I’ve been using Yahoo Groups for about 20 years as a system for sending out monthly newsletters. It’s worked okay in the past, but recently their system hasn’t been consistently functioning properly. So, in 2019 I’m switching all my mailings over to Mail Chimp. To signup to receive my monthly email, please click here.

The monthly emails are important because they offer a less intensive subscription for people who don’t want to receive updates every time I post something to my website. One email a month is more manageable for most people.

Thanks!

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

20120224fr-greg-signature

Want More News? For additional news and updates, you can click here to subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter.

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 19 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.