Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Several Routines

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As I was going through my usual work-week routine last night, preparing my breakfast and lunch for today, this is what I observed: I have a tendency for routine. Every night before work, I take steps to support my quick departure the next morning at an early hour to beat traffic in my long commute to the far side of the Twin Cities.

In the morning, all I need to do is get dressed and go, after waking and going through my planking and stretching routine. My clothes were selected the night before and my breakfast and lunch foods prepared in advance.

My process for preparing my foods for the workday is equally routine.

I precisely measure my serving of cereal for the morning breakfast to stay below my threshold for added sugar. The amount of yogurt that I serve with my cereal is only a fraction of the amount in a typical “single serving” package. There is a perfect-sized spoon I like to use for this small serving of yogurt.

Since I do this routine repeatedly, I don’t simply put the spoon in with dirty dishes when I am done with it. I wash the spoon and place it back in the silverware drawer, but not just anywhere. I slip it beneath all the other various spoons of that style so I can be sure to find it the next day.

Some have a smaller scoop. Some have longer handles. Those aren’t the ones I want.

I do this because, if I leave it right on top, the odds are high that Cyndie will take it next time she is looking for a spoon.

Seems simple enough at this point, I hope. However, this plan doesn’t always produce the desired results.

Very often, when I reach in to grab “my spoon,” it’s not there on the bottom anymore.

Why not?

I’ve talked with Cyndie about it, and she has no clue.

In my head, I picture her reaching in and grabbing whatever spoon is on top at the time. This shouldn’t mix the order enough to dislodge my carefully stowed particular spoon.

Must be some other mysterious law of physics I know nothing about.

Now, by this point, you must be imagining any number of easy alternative solutions to avoiding this problem of keeping track of one specific spoon. I could tie a ribbon on the handle. I could place it in a different location away from the other spoons.

I know.

But, honestly, this situation doesn’t even deserve the number of words I’m wasting on it here. If I seriously fretted over this, I could easily come up with a more permanent solution. It’s become more of a game for me to see if the spoon will be there, or not.

I’m intrigued by the odd phenomenon.

And look, it provided fodder for another of my ROUTINEs: writing a daily blog post.

Obviously, I have a tendency for routine.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

Say Something

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Have you received a lot of unexpected emails from businesses recently? There is a common format you may begin to recognize. A communication professional, Karen G. Anderson, offers tips for organizations that want to email their primary audience with assurances in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

  • Say Something
  • Talk About Customers (Not the Organization)
  • Send Links
  • Make Sure People Can Contact You
  • Message Should Come From Individual

This morning I received this very message from a business I made one online purchase from years ago for a replacement bowl to match a long-discontinued tableware pattern. It struck me for it’s classic adherence to the recommended guidelines for prudent good practice in times of a national emergency.

It was the 5th or 6th such message to show up in my inbox in the last few days. Being a natural contrarian, my mind quickly jumps to concern about all the entities that haven’t contacted me yet. Why haven’t I heard from them? Are they not all on the same side when it comes to taking all the precautions to keep everyone safe?

Well, let me just assure you, my dear readers, I am fully aware of the risks and ramifications that have materialized from the worldwide spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and I am taking specific steps to control the spread. Before I started writing this post, I sanitized my keyboard and made certain to maintain plenty of space between myself and Cyndie, Delilah, and Pequenita.

To be doubly cautious, you might consider wiping the surfaces of your devices before you read my posts.

There is a discussion conference in my online community where members write their life stories. Yesterday, I posted this:

I was alive during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. At first, it was a news story about an illness that was spreading in China. At that initial phase, the impact on my life was zero. At work, we wisecracked about the possibility of our supply chain experiencing some future delays.

After the spread of the illness reached other countries of the world and increased at alarming rates in some of them, the reality set in that eventually we would be impacted more directly.

When the financial industry started to fall at a record pace, the idea set in that we were at risk of suffering from not just our health but from economic pressure, too.

Then, billion-dollar professional sports leagues canceled their seasons and shit got real. Just as quick, concerts and plays were canceled, schools closed and life fell apart before anyone I knew had been positively identified as having the virus.

By the middle of March that year, I was in a waiting game for the moment when I might feel the first sensation of having a fever. Each morning when I woke up, one of the first thoughts I had was to assess how I felt.

Since the belief at the time was that the incubation period was between 5-days and some undefined larger span of time, I never knew if I might have it and be contagious, or not, let alone whether those around me were.

Cyndie’s brother wasn’t able to take advantage of the tickets his brother finally scored for them to go to a major golf tournament for his 60th birthday celebration. Our friends had to cancel their long-awaited family trip to one of the Disney resorts in the last year before their daughters grew out of their prime childhood fascination with the idea.

At that point in March, it wasn’t the fear of illness that burdened our minds, it was the disruption of life as we knew it and the complete uncertainty over how much worse it could possibly get and whether or not there was any hope of it all being just a temporary disruption.

I remember the time as feeling like a moment of historic milestone, but without any ability to measure it adequately against some comparable reference.

I didn’t think about it while originally writing those words, but just now it gave me the impression I might have been composing that now in case I wouldn’t have a chance to do it later. That was not my intention. I just thought it would be interesting to mess with the time frame and write about the present moment as it might be perceived in a distant future.

Maybe that came from my recent writing about what my parents’ lives were like 75 years ago.

I’m not just social distancing myself, apparently, I’m time-distancing, too.

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Written by johnwhays

March 15, 2020 at 10:36 am

See It?

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Alright, you jigsaw puzzlers… can you see what happened to me here? (You may need to click on the images to get a better view.)

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As I made progress on the lower right corner, it became increasingly obvious that something was wrong. Certain pieces weren’t meshing properly, despite the majority of obviously matched pieces in the immediate vicinity and beyond. I can understand having one piece occasionally placed incorrectly, but this implied there had to be many pieces wrongly placed.

I took the picture on the left with the intent of describing my plight here, but after posting that image, I noticed the obvious open pattern in the upper right corner. Could it be?

I went back and checked.

Yep. Six pieces across on the right, for about three-quarters of the height of the puzzle, needed to move up two positions. The image on the right was taken after I fixed the problem.

This puzzle has a lot of pieces that are cut too similarly in addition to enough repeating patterns of darkness that it has me struggling a bit to ensure I’ve placed them in the correct spot.

Regardless, I continue to enjoy it immensely and was able to use some of my reclaimed blogging time of the previous few days to puzzle, in between tending to all the other responsibilities of the ranch and my day-job while Cyndie is in Florida.

The little break I’ve taken from daily blogging has served me well thus far.

Thanks for bearing with my change to a less predictable posting routine!

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

Slowing Down

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I’m going to try something new. With apologies to those of you who have told me how much you enjoy checking in every morning to read or view my daily “relative somethings,” I have decided to readjust my energies to free up time that I have been holding in reserve every day for over a decade.

I am not going to commit to how this change will play out, other than to announce that I am moving away from my old priority of striving to assure a new post every single day. This isn’t the first time I have considered making this sort of change, so I already have some ideas I may try out going forward.

One possibility I have favored in the past would be to post a single picture. That seems like it wouldn’t take much time. However, I have learned from experience that my picture-taking often goes in spurts and days can pass when I don’t get out with the camera. If I committed to posting a daily picture, I would still be in the mode of reserving some time every day to achieve that.

There are also fewer daily stories to tell about our adventures here since we returned the horses and Wintervale activity has dwindled, so, to spare you repeating versions of ‘me walking Delilah’ or ‘me plowing snow’ (two things that have commanded my time and energy recently), allowing some quiet time between tales will hopefully germinate new content of more intriguing substance.

One can hope.

Of course, one other option I considered was to just cease blogging altogether, but being so “all-or-none” extreme was an older trait of mine that has softened with time. There is no reason I can’t keep this blog space open for use as more of a periodical. Weekly? Monthly?

Who knows?

That sort of mystery is one of the fun aspects of creativity. I will be creative about slowing down my rate of publishing posts.

Before I step away for my initial pause from daily posting, I’ll leave you with two images that made their way onto the SD memory card late yesterday afternoon…

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No critters were harmed in the recording of that adventure (but not for lack of intent).

I’ll be back before long. In the meantime, send your precious love out into the world during the minutes you would have been perusing new Relative Somethings in the days ahead.

Namaste.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

Accidental Intelligence

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It was an artificial deadline set arbitrarily by his own initiative. Who else would care? As time flittered away, reality began to press upon the drowsy writer that nothing was going to simply drop out of the sky onto the page. Someone was going to need to pull a worthy tale out of their proverbial top hat (or some other oft-referenced lower anatomical location).

Meanwhile, sleep was making a valiant run for the pole position.

Why did any of this matter? Frontline was on later and it was going to be all about the 2018 Camp Fire in California. That kind of real-life drama beats made-up stuff hands down. If he was going to immerse himself in the experience without distraction, his plan was going to need to kick into action ahead of time.

There was nothing noteworthy to report about the animals, the weather, the landscape, the trees, the shrinking hours of daylight, the amount of sugar in dinner, the spinning gears of the day-job, the greatness of family and friends, or the stature of the recently refurbished deck, so something would need to be invented.

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maybe a poem
rich with deep thoughtful meaning
evoking sky blues

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It could be short, like three lines of haiku. Words could be tossed out in a free-form flow of curious reasoning that defies logic but reaches souls. Why not? It’s worked in the past when down to his last gasp for a grasp.

How many times before has he written random nonsense that struggled to hint at coherence and later learned of recipients who thrilled over the poignancy to their very lives? You can’t make this stuff up if it already happened.

The thing is, such a denouement happens in absentia. Often times he never knows, just wings it and relies on grace for an outcome that holds a possibility of reward.

Occasionally, it works.

Such end results get labeled “accidental intelligence” but that doesn’t prevent him from occasionally pretending to believe the results were exactly as intended. <cough, cough>

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2019 at 6:00 am

Beyond Mowing

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The time of mowing is upon us in multiple ways. Beyond the usual routine of cutting our lawn grass, the big tractors are finally hitting the local fields to cut hay. The neighbors who are renting our fields knocked down the tall grass in opposite corners of our property recently, leaving a very noticeable line of uncut growth along the fenceline that Cyndie tackled with our power trimmer.

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Despite all the mowing going on, Cyndie continues to pull off a heroic amount of raspberry picking which naturally led to canning jam. Since she was going to be in that canning mode, she also made a trip to a local strawberry grower to pick a bulk of that jam favorite, as well as a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of cherries.

Even though canning jam deserves to be a single focus task, Cyndie chose to merge it with preparations to drive to Northfield, MN, for a mini-reunion with visiting Hays relatives. There, we uncovered a treasure trove in my sister Mary’s files of family newsletters from the days before the internet took over communication.

I don’t remember writing all those annual reports detailing our children’s school years, but reading back over those missives now gives me the impression I have been writing the equivalent of this daily blog for longer than just the ten years I’ve been posting here on Relative Something. In fact, the old family newsletter was called, “Relatively Speakin’.”

Seems to be a certain congruency there, no?

Who knows what lies ahead for this relative crew? It won’t surprise me if it ends up involving less mowing, but I doubt I will ever stop writing about whatever is happening in all of our lives.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Another Test

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My previous test to learn if I can create posts on my phone to achieve my desired result taught me a few things. Yes, it is possible, but it doesn’t match posts I create on my laptop. No, I haven’t found out if I can format the text as “justified.” My images appeared, but not as a clickable link to the full size, like I want.

So, I am trying again. I am importing a full-sized image that I successfully transferred from my camera to my phone over WiFi.

The app didn’t ask the size I want the image to appear, so I need to hunt for that setting somewhere.

I chose this image of my lock in case someone can offer advice in dealing with a forgotten combination.

(Oh, I also learned how to add text to my images.)

My idea with the lock was to start at 0-0-0 and spin in a sequence that counted up to 9-9-9.

That would hit every possible number combination.

It didn’t work.

Thinking it was possible that I goofed somewhere along the sequence, I tried a second time. I started at 999 and worked my way down.

It still didn’t open.

Am I missing something?

Too bad I can’t just click a link for a forgotten combination which would then allow me to reset it to a number I might remember.

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Testing Mobile

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I’m thinking about taking another crack at posting from my phone next week while on the bike trip.

So, today I am typing with one finger, adding photos, and fumbling with formatting to achieve my desired look using icons I don’t understand.

Things may look different than usual on your screen.

Yesterday, I got out for my longest training ride so far this year. Topped out at a whopping two-hour jaunt.

The scenery may not be as beautiful as riding up at the lake, but it gets close once I get beyond the farmland.

I rode down into the river valley where the trout fishermen play. Hit 40 mph on the way down and 3 mph crawling back up.

The kids came over yesterday and provided gift labor in honor of Cyndie’s birthday. We chose moving the gazebo from the round pen over to the labyrinth.

It was a grand success of design collaboration and task cooperation.

Since I don’t know how to tweak images to my liking on this tiny mobile device, I will point out that Julian provided the gazebo images.

Thank you to our wonderful children for a really meaningful gift of time and energy!

Here ends today’s test of the alternative posting system.

I still don’t know how to customize image frames like I usually do, nor justify text, but I’m ready to look at this on my computer to see how it compares.

Thank you for reading!

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2019 at 7:48 am

Words

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they are just words
but you can’t write them fast enough
because they flow
like lyrics in a song
that everybody already knows
even though they only remember
two lines of the chorus
because the verses wander
all over the map
about kittens and deforestation
cloth diapers, crime, and comedy
lightning, goal celebrations
vegan recipes and political tragedy
ghosts, authors, fancy makeup
chainsaws and Ultimate Frisbee
cyber insecurity, false witness
lost love and fortunes found
like a blog roll of unending topics
scrolling down a glowing screen
ideas on how to make millions with ease
or at least to transform
this world
into a better place
than it could ever possibly be
through song
sing along
with incandescent harmony

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Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Minutes Revisited

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From March 27, 2012:

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Words on Images

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I’ve really been enjoying my little forays into the archives of this blog lately. Picking a single day of the month, and then jumping through each of the ten years of posts on that day has been very revealing.

In 2013 on March 27th, I was writing about getting fence posts up to define the border of the paddock, excited about how things would change when we got horses.

It was later that year, September, when the herd arrived. Here is a picture of the moment the four horses had just walked out of the trailer:

Tomorrow, the process is reversed.

Our time together was too short, but we had a lot of great adventures over the years and they touched a lot of people’s lives here.

I’m not sure what’s in store for us next, but whatever it is, we hope to do those horses proud. They’ve taught us a lot during the time we’ve been together.

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