"Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

Introspection: Navel gazing, yak shaving or sharpening the saw?

2019-02-06T08:29:03-05:00

Getting ready to move has prompted me to get rid of more stuff that has accreted in my life, which, in turn, has prompted me to look at this whole accretion process.

What I love about retirement is that I have wide latitude to pursue whatever interests me. The problem is, lots of things interest me. "Oh, look! Shiny!" The result is, "interest" ultimately leads to nothing tangible but the accretion of more stuff.

So, I'm doing the introspection thing again, trying to figure out what I'm going to do differently. As a certain wise woman would ask, "What is your plan, David?"

This is just me, thinking out loud. It's interesting how sometimes certain ideas come to our attention repeatedly in a short period of time. In this case, it's Warren Buffett's 25 things method. I don't recall where I'd read it the first time, but it appeared again at The Online Photographer, and then I saw it again somewhere else. Now, this isn't particularly mysterious, it was around the time of the new year when people naturally revisit and write about these ideas. But this one seems to have stuck with me.

I'm a lot busier now than I ever have been since I retired in 2013. Mostly that's a good thing. I've decided that I can't sit on the couch and play Call of Duty while the world burns. Duh. But I don't have a job with a set of hours and regular duties that define my schedule, which, believe me, is a wonderful thing. But I do feel there are some things that I could be devoting more time to and getting greater rewards from, while at the same time there are things that I spend time doing that I really think are a waste of time (Facebook).

One of the things I'd like to accomplish is to be a more effective advocate for local policy changes that can help address the causes of climate change, and encourage actions to promote resilience and adaptation. That sounds great, and it's genuinely something I want to do, but I really do find myself struggling with this Facebook thing, and also Twitter.

My rationalizing mind tells me that I can use social media platforms to achieve that goal. But a more objective part of my mind knows that those platforms ultimately become time sucks, and it's by no means clear that they are effective at promoting genuine change. Mostly they're effective at creating online mobs (thanks, Howard Rheingold), and public shaming. So I recognize some kind of habituated, reward-seeking behavior here, an addiction, if you will. Which is not helpful.

My plan, such as it is for the moment, is to do the 25 things exercise and then look closely at the top five. Social media does seem to be the most active portion of the public arena; but that may be an illusion, I don't know. If social media can help the top five, then I have to focus specifically on how they can help, and then try to devise some discipline to use them mostly in that way. I may try to do some kind of pomodoro (timer-base) method, wherein I limit my time on social media. (Parenthetically, "social media" is more than just Facebook and Twitter, the forums at Digital Photography Review are just as addicting and probably equally as toxic.) It may simply be, that whatever their utility, the personal cost of participation is too great, and I'll just have to try and quit.

The title of this post is a reflection of my uncertainty or ambivalence about the process. Which one it turns out to be is up to me. No pressure, right? Stay tuned.

Corporate culpability

2019-02-06T08:06:07-05:00

This is a brief post, something I'm thinking of doing regularly for ideas that are just "food for thought," and when I'm not inclined to do a longer essay. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to call them out as a specific category, but you'll be the first to know if I do.

The lawsuits proceeding against the big oil companies are intriguing. I don't know how they'll ultimately turn out, or if they're an effective way to address climate change, but I think they're very interesting.

I am not a lawyer, so take all this with a grain of salt. I think Big Tobacco might be the most similar example with regard to the cause of action about climate. Smoking was a widespread cultural custom, an accepted part of at least adult life, and a significant industry. When research showed that it was responsible for serious health consequences, the tobacco companies became aware of it (some was their own research) and tried to suppress or obfuscate the issue, denying that the health consequences were linked to their products.

I'd say the outcome of the lawsuit was largely a draw. Tobacco is still grown and marketed, but consumers are well informed of the risks, and efforts are made to limit the exposure of marketing to children. A key difference between tobacco and oil is that, for the most part, the tobacco smoker assumes the risk; with fossil fuels, the entire planet is exposed to the risk, not just the people of the industrialized nations. But the precedent exists that a manufacturer has a duty not to manufacture and market a product without at least disclosing the risks.

Which brings me to the thing I find interesting. Do you suppose that Apple's recent efforts with adult access controls and screen time reports is, at least in part, intended to protect against a potential lawsuit? How about Facebook? I've been thinking about my own use of the platform again, and it's insidious. The thing is designed to be as addictive as possible. I think there's a potential lawsuit there as well. Though, truthfully, there's a potential lawsuit in any activity these days.

I think the corporate boards of electronics manufacturers and social media companies should be very worried.

Kondo the condo

2019-02-05T09:18:43-05:00

In a kind of "cheese sandwich" vein, we're moving.

Mitzi and I were married a year ago last October, and we've been living in what was formerly Action Dave's Cool-Guy Bachelor Pad since about April of 2017. Before moving in with me, I had the place gutted and completely remodeled and I must say, it looks awesome.

But...

It was still kind of more "mine" than "ours," and she was interested in something that was "ours."

So I told her, "Whither thou goest..." and she's been looking, on and off, since last summer. She stopped at one point during the fall, because the more we looked, the more we liked the location we were in now. It's just hard to find something at the beach that is as convenient as this place. But Zillow kept sending emails and one thing led to another and a couple of weeks ago she took me across the ditch to a planned development called Nocatee, and an over-55 community built by Del Webb/Pulte Homes.

The clubhouse sold me. It's HUGE! Indoor olympic size lap pool, indoor hot tub, lots of activity rooms and lots of activities. The house is nice, it's not built yet, but the model was nice. Our lot backs up to a wooded area off the intracoastal waterway. I checked the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer, and we should be okay for at least three feet of SLR, it'll start getting interesting at that point. I suspect we may live in that home long enough to potentially worry about it, but we won't be alone. We're actually higher here, but we're east of the intracoastal and storm surge could be problematic. We have evacuated twice before, in '16 for Matthew and '17 for Irma. Areas west of the intracoastal often aren't evacuated, but if a storm is projected to be a direct hit, I supposed we'd have to leave even there. But for the most part, we should be fine.

It's not as walkable as here. I walk to Publix nearly every day, and there's a Target, Ace Hardware and Books-a-Million in the same shopping center. I've even walked a bit farther to Home Depot, a UPS store, Staples; you get the idea. I can walk to go buy something I need, which I often do.

But they permit golf carts, and have bike paths, so while retail is a bit farther away, there are healthy or environmentally friendly ways to get there without jumping into a car.

The lot and the design of the house seem favorable for a rooftop solar array. It's not ideal, but I think it's in the realm of being practical. I'm going to do some more research, but my intention is to have one installed as soon as I can.

It's supposed to be ready to close sometime in June or July, so we're excited about that.

But, I have to sell this place!

Mitzi started watching the Marie Kondo shows on Netflix, and she got the bug even before we knew we'd be having to get ready to show this place. I did a purge of old clothes as part of the new year review. So the closets look much larger now, at least.

There's a loft in this place, and I had some built-in cabinets installed and some counter-top desk space. I intended to use it for my Apple II, retro-computing hobby. But I have more computers than I have desk space even still, and I've been busy with political stuff and doing some civic things, so the machines have largely sat there untouched for about a year.

There's a room in the new place that we think will be my "Dave cave," but it's a bit smaller than the loft and it has a bunch of windows, so only one wall is really usable for storage space. It also happens to open off of the kitchen, so Mitzi has certain expectations about its appearance.

Well, last night I had one of my occasional bouts of insomnia, and I was trying to figure out how I could downsize my inventory and have one or two machines in a smaller space. I wrestled with a number of different ideas, but I finally concluded that I had to do the kind of Warren Buffett thing and just ruthlessly abandon my retro-computing hobby. I just don't have enough time for something that I don't value as much as the work I'm doing on climate change and resilience.

Of course, that led to thoughts of how best to dispose of it all. I've collected stuff for about four years now, and it amounts to quite a bit of hardware, software, books and magazines. I have no patience for selling stuff and haggling over price, boxing it up and shipping it, and no time for it either. So I got up early since I wasn't sleeping anyway and posted on Facebook in a Florida retro-computing interest group that the first person who would commit to coming to pick it all up could have it for nothing. I was somewhat amazed that at around 5:30 a.m. I had three people responding within seconds that they'd be willing to come get it. So I've got a primary and two alternates in case anyone falls out, and this stuff will all be gone a week from Saturday! So that's actually a bit of a relief.

In some ways, I'll be sad to see it all go; but I'll also be glad, because it's always just sitting there, looking lonely and I feel unhappy for not using it. But it's clearly not as important as the other things I'm doing, or even photography. So better to clear the desk and the decks for more productive pursuits. And it's going to make the design of the workspace in the sun room a hell of a lot easier.

So I'll do the Marie Kondo thing, thank it for the joy it gave me, and let it go to someone who may be able to make better use of it than I can.