Personal Update 202108 | 1 Aug 2021 | Sunday

Greetings!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a nature walk in Iowa City on 29 July 2021.

Resources For Life – going forward

The Resources For Life project was brought online in the 1990s as the culmination of work that began in the 1980s. The goal was to establish businesses that would fund public interest work, and have a unified website as the venue for all those activities. Public Interest Computer Consulting was the business name for my tech work early on. Then PC DOC. The names change over the years, but the purpose is the same.

Going forward, the familiar ResourcesForLife.com website will remain as a hub, with links to the businesses and outreach efforts that will continue on separate websites. [View] But it will be a bonsai tree compared to what the site had been in the past. This will make the site easier to maintain.

Going forward, the public interest work of Resources For Life will continue on the new minimalist ResourcesForLife.org website. [View]

My tech consulting will remain on the various websites where it is found, including my personal site.

I’ll continue to provide updates regarding progress through my monthly personal email newsletter.

Initiatives that have been impactful and valued over the years will continue. Those that didn’t gain traction or seem as needed will be phased out.

One of the reasons for dialing down my broader outreach — the writings, videos, podcast, and other efforts — is to free up time to focus on a smaller circle of people.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

RESILIENCE in Difficult Times

I recently finished a three-part series on minimalism, and shared some changes I’m making to create a more adaptable and resilient life. For details, you can read those writings. [ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 ]

I feel very fortunate to be living in the Midwest:

  • We’re not on the coasts having to respond to rising waters, hurricanes, and tsunamis. 
  • We’re not in the South-Western states dealing with drought, severe water shortages.
  • We don’t have the ravaging fires of California and the Pacific Northwest.
  • We live in an area where people are vaccinated and willing to wear masks, so viruses are less disruptive and lethal than elsewhere in the country.
  • We don’t have the congestion, traffic, pollution, noise, crime, and poverty common in many large cities and heavily populated areas.
  • I’ve watched videos of the 1,200-year floods and other natural disasters happening around the world right now. There have also been some infrastructure disasters globally.

The above conditions cause me to reflect on two things:

  1. I feel a sense of responsibility to do something good with this good fortune. I want to be more focused and impactful with any public outreach work I do. For every 10 people dealing with floods, fires, and illness from a virus, each of us who are well and able need to work hard to support those who are suffering.
  2. We live in a very turbulent world. It’s important going forward to establish a life that is adaptable and resilient. For myself, this means getting rid of things I don’t need — material stuff and digital stuff that’s consuming time and money.

Regarding websites, I wrote about the need for reliability and my reasoning for designing a resilient website.

“Modern websites are developed using many complex layers of interdependent technologies and third-party services. If any of these fail, sites may go down or become infected with harmful malware. Whether from human error, system failure, or malicious intentions, disruptions can occur. The cost in time and moneyise excessive. There is also a great environmental cost in having so many computers running continuously, hosting millions of websites. During times of global instability due to climate extremes and pandemics, outages may happen more frequently and take longer to recover from when there are fewer people available to repair systems.”

[SourceRFL ORG – Design Notes]

This is why ResourcesForLife.org was launched as a fast, simple, purely HTML-coded site.

THANKS!

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 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the Life Map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202106 | 1 Jun 2021 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 15 May 2021.

Communications

In May I returned to providing an outgoing voicemail greeting that is updated daily. This way, anyone calling will get some information about my availability for the day, and when to expect a response from me. I have a similar automatic reply for text messages when I’m unavailable.

When convenient for others, my preference is usually to receive an email rather than phone call. Emails are easier to find, organize, and prioritize. I’m also able to provide links and attachments.

Text messages are a good way to communicate on matters that require a quick response, but otherwise email makes more sense.

Forward-Looking

Starting in August 2020, I began posting my personal newsletter and Resources For Life newsletter at the beginning of the month rather than the end of the month.

I found with an end-of-month deadline, the newsletter would get completed in haste with other activities having a priority. Setting a goal of getting the newsletter done early in the month helped me not feel pressured. It was on the top of my list of monthly tasks, but need not be rushed.

In recent months I’ve switched to forward-looking tasks, preparing for and completing tasks ahead of the goal. I’ve started this month’s newsletter a day early so that after some revisions and reflection it will be ready to send out on the first of the month.

I have some other monthly tasks that I start preparing for in the final days of the previous month.

Tech Work

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, April was mostly spent working on annual finances and bookkeeping. As a result, May was very busy catching up on web project commitments and some unplanned tech support needs. This had me working 7-days-per-week to catch up and keep up. I’m still keeping a busy schedule heading into June.

Tech Upgrades

Something else keeping me busy in May was the purchase and setup of a new primary computer used for my daily work. I wrote about the process. [More Here…] This required some planning. The new computer uses a different processor than the previous one (the Apple M1 replacing the Intel Core i7), so I’m trying to limit my work to the software written for the new processor. The old computer is still running, but had some ongoing reliability issues so it needed to be replaced.

Another slight disruption during the month of May was caused by a Microsoft update that caused some Windows computers to have startup trouble. I assisted people who had crashed computers, and had to perform a fresh Windows 10 installation on my own computer.

Fortunately for all of the above work, I have backups and didn’t lose any data.

WRITING

Due to the excessive tech work last month, in May I created only four posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

Road to Minimalism – PART 1

In recent months, in addition to doing less writing, I’m spending less time on dozens of other non-income-producing activities and initiatives I was involved in previously. In my December 2017 newsletter, I referred to this as “Bringing in the Fishing Nets.”

This downsizing and simplifying will take years and involves shutting down numerous websites, closing outdated online accounts, and going through hundreds of boxes of old work-related items in a pursuit of online and offline minimalism.

Going forward, I want to make sure my schedule and life are as lean as possible. Having to work seven days a week through the pandemic, and through the Derecho storm, during power outages, despite multiple system crashes, has taught me the importance of being prepared for the next crisis situations and not being overextended.

I plan to contribute less to the Resources For Life website, and starting with the June 2021 newsletter, I plan to have quarterly seasonal updates for RFL rather than monthly. I’ve discontinued the Heart Songs program which I started 20 years ago, because it was an example of something that had been taking more time. I’ve explained more about that below.

The direction I’m heading in will be an increasing focus on tech services and web services. As I’m looking to the next 20-30 years, I need to anticipate that I won’t be able to continue working 60 hours a week, so I’ll need to plan accordingly.

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

Heart Songs

I’ve enjoyed sharing music each month through the Resources For Life newsletters. Starting this year, I’m planning to switch to occasionally sharing music through posts on the site, but not as featured items in the newsletter.

In the past, I’d encounter new music while driving and listening to the radio, or at restaurants, or watching movies, or a new TV series, etc. With the pandemic I’m at home more, working more, and not exposed to much new music. These days, much of the music I hear, I already know. It’s not new. 

In the past, one of the primary opportunities for me to enjoy music was during my daily workout. I’ve changed my exercise routine and these days go on nature walks without listening to anything other than nature. My work these days requires more focus, or time on the phone with people, so the role of music in my life has diminished.

Because I’m no longer exposed to music on a regular basis, finding songs to share every month required some additional time in an already busy schedule.

In addition to these factors, the music industry has gone through seismic shifts in recent decades. For many years I used an Apple iTunes playlist sharing feature to share music. That service was eventually discontinued. Other similar services came along, but didn’t last. YouTube has been the most recent service I relied on to share music, but often great music videos are not available months later. Either the artist removes their own videos from YouTube or someone not authorized to share the music is asked to remove it from a personal YouTube channel. Spotify allows for playlists and sharing links to songs, but not all music is available there.

Given licensing and copyright restrictions, I considered using services like Artlist.io as a source for unique royalty-free music that I could share without worrying about it not being available in the future. The music comes with a lifetime unlimited license to use and share through created works. However, the service is expensive, the collection is limited, and it takes time to download and manage the items. I did use the service for a while. Here’s a music video I created from one of the songs I liked. [View]

The Soundcloud music service is a nice way to learn about and follow local musicians and lesser known musicians, but downloading and sharing can be a bit limited, and the premium service is expensive.

For all of these reasons, I’m planning to phase out the Heart Songs tradition.

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? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202105 | 1 May 2021 | Sat

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 28 Apr 2021.

business Accounting

It’s tax season, so I spent most of April working on annual financial bookkeeping for the consulting work I do. Over the years, I’ve been able to automate most of the process. Even so, I still review all transactions to make sure the automated system is working properly, and I manually complete the work that can’t be automated. There are thousands of transactions in a year for income and expenses that all need to be reviewed. Some require only a glance, others require a deeper review. I have multiple redundant ways to document each transaction including paper receipts, email receipts, scanned documents, GPS records, and other methods. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve written up the complete guide to the small business billing and accounting system I developed. [Read Here]

WRITING

Due to the almost full-time commitment to bookkeeping recently, last month I created only five posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

COVID Thoughts

I’m thankful to have avoided getting COVID during the pandemic. I’ve tried to follow all the recommended guidelines and encourage others to do the same.

This past week I was listening to the news on Iowa Public Radio and learned that 80% of Iowa’s 99 counties have rejected some or all of their COVID vaccine allotment because there is little local interest among Iowans in becoming vaccinated. In many Iowa counties, fewer than 50% of people are vaccinated. Some people don’t wear masks, or if they have masks, they can’t muster the energy required to cover their nose. News reports from elsewhere in the U.S. show maskless people participating in massive street parties. People continue to travel for pleasure. A report today states: “100 Million Americans Are Fully Vaccinated as Concerns Grow About the Rest.” Source: NY Times, 1 May 2021 [View] While some people are willing to sacrifice 20 minutes and endure a poke in the arm for a free vaccine to save lives, others are not. This isn’t surprising. If people aren’t willing to pull a mask up 1/2-inch to cover their nose, they probably won’t expend greater effort to help others.

The carelessness of some people is resulting in contagious mutations and variants of COVID that will be harder to stop.

Against the local context of apathy and complacency, it’s been difficult to hear the news of suffering in India this past week. It’s also a foreboding warning to others.

India has actually been, and continues to be, mostly a success story when it comes to their COVID response. Over 1.8 million lives have been saved in India during the pandemic — If India had the same response and outcomes as the United States in fighting COVID, there would have been about 2 million fatalities in India instead of 212,000.

India is now fighting the more aggressive mutations of COVID. They are struggling. Other countries, like the U.S. may not fare as well.

Let’s all consider how we can stop the further spread and mutation of COVID, and do our part to protect ourselves and others.

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? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202104 | 6 Apr 2021 | Tuesday

GREETINGS!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from an evening walk in Kent Park on 5 Aug 2020.

What Keeps Me Busy These Days

I continue to be busy providing tech services, working on web design projects, and offering other support to people from morning until evening seven days a week. For breaks from my work, I go on walks in nature, and work as a sous-chef in our home kitchen. I also keep busy creating an average of one post per day on the Resources For Life website. More about that below.

Web Design

Something I like about Iowa City is that so many interesting people live here. Recently, I’ve been working on creating a website for a bicyclist who is known for having completed a 20,000 mile self-contained bicycle ride from the northern tip of Alaska to the south-most point of Chile. There are some more pages to create for the website, but if you’d like to learn more about the epic ride you can do so by visiting the completed portion of the site. [Visit Site]

WRITING

Last month I created 28 posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New 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? To signup to receive monthly notifications from me, please click here. 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202103 | 1 Mar 2021 | Monday

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 featured above is from my morning walk today. I’m not sure what animal tracks those are.

Winter Days

We had some exceptionally cold winter days in February, and plenty of snow, which combined with the cautiousness of the pandemic, has kept me inside most of February. As usual, I’ve been busy with my tech support work, but at this time of year I am also catching up on annual financial and administrative tasks. So, I’ve not created as much content as I usually would have.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New 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 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202102 | 10 Feb 2021 | Wednesday

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 featured above is from a walk on 5 Jan 2021.

Keeping Busy With Various Services

I continue to be busy providing tech, web, audio, photography, and videos services. It’s nice to have a mix of different projects to be working on. Here’s an example of some work in recent weeks:

  • The primary computer for a local business had stopped working. The computer was probably over 10 years old, so finding parts would be difficult. I was able to track down a specialty power supply that worked. Getting it installed was a bit difficult since the computer was not easy to work on.
  • Someone had an old out-of-print LP record they wanted converted to digital audio. I was able to create separate MP3 audio files for each song on the album.
  • A local author needed a website renovation to display information about their books. I was able to modernize and upgrade the website.
  • I’ve been working on a variety of video projects for people. One project involved recording and editing video of people telling their stories of achieving better health. That project is still underway.
  • Tomorrow I’ll be setting up an audio system for someone’s home.

Working During the Pandemic

These days I generally avoid in-person visits. When an in-person visit is necessary (like setting up a stereo system), I limit such visits to one per week and get errands done on the same day. I’m always masked up — usually with two masks.

With weekly outings, I have enough days before any encounters to confirm I don’t have any symptoms of COVID, flu, cold or anything else. Then, I have several days afterwards to make sure I don’t start showing signs of having contracted something.

By self-quarantining after every weekly outing, I’m able to reduce the risk of spreading to others. Also, if I were to come down with something, I could report back to my most recent contact to let them know.

These sensible and simple measures involve very little effort or cost, and only minimal planning. They’ve worked for a year to avoid getting and spreading any illnesses.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New 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 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202101 | 3 Jan 2021 | Sunday

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 featured above is from a walk in Kent Park yesterday.

PODCAST

The podcast has allowed me to respond to the increase in demand for tech support during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we’ve seen an increase of people at home using their computers and devices for work and other purposes.

Last year I produced about 30 hours of podcast content in 56 episodes averaging a little over 30 minutes per episode. These are audio recordings of the advice I would give for the most common questions that people regularly ask of me, and usually pay me for answering.

With the podcast audios available, when people would call asking a common question, I could point them to the audio with the answers they needed. This allowed me to help more people, and saved money for those needing help.

If I take the number of plays for each episode, and total those up, there have been about 625 hours of content that people have listened to. This is mostly tech advice that I would typically charge $100 per hour for. So, assuming it was helpful to those who listened, it’s the equivalent of giving away $62,500 in consulting.

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. Some are tech support guides and others are featured documentary videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New 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 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202012 | 5 Dec 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 featured above is from my morning walk on 28 Nov 2020. We’ve begun seeing some frost on the ground in the morning.

TECH UPDATE

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, I spent October designing an alternate computing environment for my tech work. In this way, if something happened to my Apple computer system, I could easily use the Windows and Linux computers I built. Shortly after my November newsletter, my Apple computer began failing and needed repairs.

I’ve spoken about this experience in my podcast episodes 52 [listen] and 54 [listen]. I’m thankful I had setup a parallel system that was up and running so the disruption was minimized. The computer got repaired and is working great now. It was in the shop for about 12 days. It was a good test.

PODCAST

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New 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 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202011 | 1 Nov 2020 | Sunday

Greetings!

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

TECH UPDATE

This past month I spent some time redesigning my office computing technology including building a Windows desktop computer and a setting up a Raspberry Pi computer. Having a diversified tech work environment, using Apple, Windows, and Linux, keeps me flexible and allows me to choose the best system for each task. Most of the new posts last month on Resources For Life are about these tech projects on the What’s New page.

PODCAST

You can see recently posted podcast episodes at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created more posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New 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 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 public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Personal Update 202010 | 3 Oct 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.

PODCAST

Since last month, I’ve uploaded episodes 39 to 45 on a variety of topics. You can see recently posted episodes on the What’s New page at  ResourcesForLife.com/new or the Podcast page at ResourcesForLife.com/podcast.

WRITING

Last month I created 44 posts for the Resources For Life website with some of those being podcast episodes. Some are featured videos. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.

VINTAGE VIDEO

For those of you fascinated by vintage newsreel footage, you will likely enjoy this presentation by Nicholas Johnson at Grinnell College on 1 Apr 1971.

PRODUCTION NOTES: The compilation of this video required combining three different videos, boosting the audio level, and sliding the audio track to make it precisely synchronized the audio with the video. The raw footage was provided by the University of Iowa Library Archives.

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 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.