Personal Update 202003 | 28 Mar 2020 | Saturday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo at the top of this page was taken on 28 Mar 2020 using the iPhone 11 Pro Max and then colorized using the Masquerade filter in the Prisma app.

CONSULTING

In an effort to limit in-person contact during the COVID-19 outbreak, my consulting work has shifted to mostly remote support, website projects, and some drop-off tech work. I’m grateful to the many people who continue to provide me with work and an income.

WRITINGS

This past month I created 48 posts for the Resources For Life website. Some of the posts are tech tips and support documents. Some of these are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

I wrote an article on my personal website about the impact of COVID-19 on daily living, “Realization: Few things were actually essential.”

VIDEOS

I’ve posted a few videos this past month. One video shows an underreported glitch with the New York Times website that sends people to malicious websites. [View] Another video shows a Facebook posting problem that is the result of their recent design change to personal pages. [View] I also posted a new version of my photos from the 13 Apr 2006 Iowa City tornado damage which made our city look like a war zone. [View]

HELPING THE RECENTLY UNEMPLOYED

One of my greatest concerns during the closure of numerous businesses this month has been the many recently unemployed people in our community. I wrote an article “Recently Unemployed? Do This Immediately” offering some suggestions and support to those in need. In that article, I list 20 jobs you can do from home that are in high demand and friendly to today’s need to be socially distant. I’m in the process of helping two people get started with earning an income from home. In addition to helping others, I’m proposing a pay-it-forward initiative. Those who get help to start their own businesses, would then help others get started.

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 20 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.

Realization: Few things were actually essential

Like others during this global pandemic and the national emergency in America, I’ve been cutting back on non-essential activities and purchases.

In the process, I’ve started to realize that it’s all been kind of non-essential. So much that we’ve been spending our time and money and energy on, even much of the work and business activity has been non-essential.

Now we’re left with staying home reading books, painting, cooking, baking, gardening, composing music, and going for solitary walks in the park. Families are staying home and spending time together; playing board games, sharing meals, laughing. For those continuing to work, they are working from home.

We’re less ‘hurried’ and not so busy. Whatever it was we were doing that we thought was so important suddenly isn’t so important. Stress is relieved.

We’re acting like Scandinavians in our cleaning, scrubbing surfaces, and getting more tidy at home. There’s a city to the north of us that has instituted free public transit. Stores are dedicating special shopping times to focus on serving the elderly. Everyone is home schooling. No longer wasteful, at home people are becoming frugal and conserving on everything to make supplies last.

Somehow, overnight, America has become another country.

Is this how the world will be going forward?

For now, I’m heading out for my daily trail hike to take a few nature photos and reflect on this new world we live in.

# # #

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Below, the short film Happiness portrays the world we’ve left behind.

Personal Update 202002 | 28 Feb 2020 | Friday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. The photo at the top of this page was taken on 23 Feb 2020 at Kent Park using the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

WRITING

This past month I created more than 30 posts for the Resources For Life website. Some of these are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

CONSULTING

This past month I’ve been focusing on my tech consulting business which means there’s not much else to report on. Next month I hope to be creating videos and writing articles about the tech work I’m doing.

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 202001 | 31 Jan 2020 | Friday

GREETINGS!

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

The photo at the top of this page was taken using the wide angle lens on the iPhone 11 Pro.

WRITING

This past month I created more than 50 posts for the Resources For Life website. Some of these are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

CONSULTING

This month I’ve been focusing on my tech consulting business which means there’s not much else to report on. I hope to be creating videos and writing articles about the tech work I’m doing.

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 201912 | 31 Dec 2019 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Happy New Year! Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here.

The photo at the top of this page was taken using the wide angle lens on the iPhone 11 Pro and then processed using the Dallas filter effect in the Prisma photo app.

LAS VEGAS

This month I had a chance to visit Las Vegas for the first time. Makur and I spent about four days there seeing the city and surrounding areas. I went there with some negative expectations which were mostly based on what I’d seen in movies. Some of those expectations were reinforced, but there were some unexpected positive aspects to Vegas that really made the visit worthwhile.

We booked a room in a “smoke-free” hotel/casino. Upon checking in, we were told that getting to our smoke-free room involved going through a smoke-filled casino. We’d also been warned at check-in, “Don’t touch the Pringles container in the room. There is a sensor on it, and you’ll get charged $15 if it’s moved even slightly.”

As we made our way through the casino, I could see what looked like impoverished senior citizens with a small bottle of whisky or bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, spending their social security checks on slot machines. With us were parents with children, toddlers, and newborn babies in strollers, all making their way through the wall of smoke to their own smoke-free rooms. Once we reached our room, there was a very strong offensive room freshener smell that didn’t seem to fade away.

In the streets of the city, the smoke was made stronger by the addition of marijuana and cigar smoke blended with the fumes from the open over-sized alcoholic beverages that people carried with them from one venue to another. After four days in the city, I had developed a smoker’s cough. I imagined that my lungs must have become like those of a 90-year-old 2-pack-a-day smoker. I eventually went to the doctor about my cough and found my oxygen level had declined to below a normal level (94% instead of my usual 98%). In addition to the 7000+ chemicals found in second-hand smoke, there were additional pollutants from the cars, trucks, and the airport adjacent to the city. In the photo below, you can see the thick layer of smog that blankets the city.

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Despite the drawbacks I’ve described above, there was a lot I really liked about the city.

The things I saw people doing in Las Vegas would be illegal in Iowa City. People carrying open drinks, selling marijuana, smoking marijuana, smoking cigarettes, advertising “girls” for rent, and gambling. But because those things were legal in Las Vegas, the police presence seemed very minimal or even non-existent. The environment there created a feeling of everyone being welcome. A Muslim woman wearing a burka was on the same street with barely clothed Vegas show girls. Despite marijuana being legal, there weren’t masses of people lining up to purchase. Legalization just means you need fewer police. The city streets seemed quite peaceful and people were happy.

We found a very nice organic vegan restaurant and many places selling fresh-made vegetable drinks. A variety of food energy bars were available. Many Starbucks locations were available. Delicious spring water was available in gallon sizes at Walgreens and CVS near the hotel, so we could stay super hydrated. The Las Vegas Strip is about 4.2 miles from one end to the other. So, over 8 miles both ways, including many stairs to climb where escalators were broken leading to mandatory skywalks. It was a good workout.

There were oxygen bars where people could breath fresh oxygen infused air, and also boutiques where you could get an IV infusion of water and electrolytes directly into your veins.

We enjoyed seeing Red Rock Canyon to the west and also the Hoover Dam area to the east of Las Vegas. You can see some photos from those areas in the gallery further down the page.

Las Vegas has over 150,000 hotel rooms with some hotels having more than 5,000 rooms. Many of the hotels cost billions of dollars to build and some have what seem like cities within them – indoor depictions of European towns with evening sky and real gondola rides. There are exclusive luxury brand shops which might only be available in places like New York and London. For example, the PRADA store was selling a new designer water bottle for $500 (water sold separately). Another designer store had baseball caps for $350. It’s a city of extreme extravagance. Yet, if you know what you’re doing, and avoid the traps, you can have an enjoyable and economical visit.

Experiencing Las Vegas made me appreciate Iowa City even more. Iowa City is like a Las Vegas for people who like bike trails, nature, breweries, coffee shops, great food, yoga, education, and the arts. Iowa City is its own kind of overwhelming extravagance.

PHOTOGRAPHY

In the fall of 2018 I’d been using an iPhone 7 from 2016, and it stopped working just weeks before the new iPhone X models were to be announced. Because I’m very dependent on my phone for my work, I wasn’t able to wait a few weeks for the new phones and I ended up getting a year-old model iPhone X from 2017.

My broken iPhone 7 was eventually replaced by Apple under warranty with an identical one, but that process took about a week.

I’m typically a year or two behind on my phone model. So, this month I decided to trade in the old 2017 iPhone X for an iPhone 11 Pro Max which is a larger iPhone that has three lenses. The larger size phone offers good battery life, and the lenses provide better quality photos than previous iPhones. There is a standard lens, a zoom lens, and a wide angle lens. These work for photos and also for video. Unless someone is planning to sell enlarged prints at an art festival, smartphones these days are sufficient for sharing life’s events with friends and family.

What I really appreciate about the three lenses in the new iPhone is that I can get some photos that I previously would not have been able to take. Most of the photos in the gallery below were taken with the wide angle lens. Using a regular lens and walking backwards to get everything in the photo wouldn’t have been possible.

Click on any image below for a larger gallery view.

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 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.

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.

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.