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Reinventing Yourself to Stay Young

July 4th, 2024

Reinventing Yourself to Stay Young

Reinventing myself? We have all heard the responses:

• “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
• “That’s fine for young people but not for someone like me.”
• “I’m happy with my life just as it is.”

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You. Clark talks about being approached by an older woman while she was promoting her book. According to Clark, the woman paged through the book for a moment, then put it down. “Too late for me,” she said abruptly, and walked away.

And while it is true that changing careers, trying new hobbies, or changing our lifestyle can be more difficult as we get older, it still can be done. And it’s the quest, as much as the change, that keeps us mentally – and sometimes physically – younger.

Baby Boomers and Change

“That’s not how I was raised.” For baby boomers, and to some extent GenXers, that was true.

Baby boomers – that includes me – were raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression. As young adults, teenagers or children in those years, they knew deprivation firsthand. And they knew one other thing: they would never suffer through that again if there was any way to help it.

The boom years of the postwar period and through the 1950s provided economic stability in the country. But that wasn’t enough. After all, the economy had been booming in 1929 – until it wasn’t.

Personal economic stability was the key. I remember my father telling me that I should do my best to get a good job and “hold onto it.” There was no room for job hopping in the minds of those who had seen the Great Depression – for reinventing yourself.

Even if you were not particularly happy, the responsible thing for a man to do was to hang on to the best job he could find. Maybe he could look forward to playing golf or sitting in his rocker after retirement, but until then it was nose-to-the- grindstone. Work hard, try to put away some savings, and never do anything to put that job stability in jeopardy.

Likewise, boomer women were raised to dedicate themselves to supporting their husbands and raising their 2.3 children with the same values instilled in them. Work hard in school. Get good grades so you can get a good job. And one day, they too can have a stable life, just as their parents have.

And I learned that lesson. From the time I started working during college, until my early 50s, I held only two jobs. Reinventing myself? That will have to wait until .... “ummm. I’m too old for that now.”

There’s a Change A-Coming

Of course, not everyone followed the one-career path. Sometimes life’s circumstances forced people to reinvent themselves. But few of my generation did it willingly.

Within my organization, where I worked for 32 years, I held several different positions. And in 1991, I was in charge of personnel – Human Resources in today’s terminology.
That year, I was invited to a symposium in Washington, DC hosted by the World Future Society. The topic of the symposium was the changing view of careerism in the minds of those coming into the workforce in the last decade of the 20th century.

I well remember one prediction from the symposium. It addressed the changing response to the classic pre-employment question, “Where do you see yourself in five years.”

Whereas those of my generation responded to that question with answers like “a supervisor in this company” or “a division head in this company”, the symposium speaker predicted a new answer.

“Within the next five years, when you ask that question of a potential employee, the answer likely will be, “working somewhere else.” And it won’t work to reject a prospect for giving that answer, because that will be the common answer.

I saw that prediction come to pass.

My friend, Erik Eckel, in a post on his blog titled, Are Millennials Solving Gen X’s Career v. Idealism Conundrum?, quoted author David Kamp. He said, “I think that a lot of Boomers and Generation X people got caught up in careerism and making money ahead of their ideals.”

Eckel went on to say, “Millennials, in my experience, pair a new mindset with a liberty unique to their generation. They continually cultivate the combination and leverage the blend to their advantage ... One could reasonably conclude Millennials are living for fairness and the pursuit of genuine and meaningful experiences.”

Get On-Board

There is no question that the world is changing at a pace inconceivable even 50 years ago. In my time, the basic job changed little over the course of my career. That is not the case today. For people entering the job market today, as well as those in mid-career, reinventing themselves in the workforce is vital.

But what of those of us whose career life is past, or soon will be? Is it true that we must be destined to a life of Saturday golf, bad movies on tv, and reading the newspaper (as long as they still exist) in a recliner?

Absolutely not. In fact, reinventing ourselves – trying new things, seeking new experiences – is key to keeping us healthy.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that keeping your brain active increases its vitality. Doing new things in new ways appears to help retain brain cells and connections. It may even produce new brain cells. In essence, breaking out of your routine can help keep your brain stay healthy.

Keeping our brain healthy is a major contributor to ‘staying young’. In 1785, William Cowper said, “Variety is the very spice of life, that give it all its iavor.” From this, we get the modern saying, “Variety is the spice of life.”

Even though we might not be physically capable of some things anymore, that does not mean we cannot engage in activities to keep ourselves mentally fit. And with that comes a more positive outlook on life, an attitude of hope for the future, and just an all around good feeling.

Getting Old Doesn’t Mean Acting Old

Okay, you’re middle-aged, or past that. You’ve worked your entire life and maybe tucked away a little money. "This reinventing yourself sounds good, but what can someone my age do?"

Look for things that challenge your mind and expose you to new views. It can be as simple as walking a different direction when you take your daily walk or go to the store. We all get into the habit of a comfortable route. But who knows what you might see on a different route that peaks your interest?

Try new ways to accomplish routine tasks. Think you can’t find a little juvenile fun in something as mundane as taking out the trash? How did you do it when it first became your responsibility as a child? Odds are, at least once, you pretended the trash bag was a basketball and the trash bin was a goal. Swish. You sank that bag without touching the rim – and it was fun.

Reconnect with your past. If you’ve spent years in a particular company, you have probably associated primarily with other employees and perhaps your neighbors at home. But what about people from your younger days? What has your best friend from high school or college been doing all these years? Reconnect and reminisce.

Engage in social media. For better or worse, social media is here to stay, and it continues to grow as a presence in our lives. It’s a great way to connect with that friend from your past or far-away family members.

Try new foods. There are many blogs dedicated to recipes of all types. And if you don’t know how to cook – learn.

Learn a new language. This is probably one of the best ways to engage your brain and keep those neurons moving.

My Own Story

I have been a proponent of reinvention all my life. Yes, I’m a baby boomer, but I am also blessed with a natural curiosity and love of learning. Even in my nose-to-the-grindstone career, my love of learning paid dividends.

As I approached retirement, I had amassed certain knowledge. It only seemed right to try to share that with others. So I moved from a ‘good job’ in a government organization to teaching at an urban university. From that, pushing past my natural introversion, I started a successful consulting company.

When that became routine, I fell back on an earlier project. I had once started writing a novel, mainly as a cathartic relief from what I saw as an unacceptable situation. When my anger was released in the early draft, I put it aside – penning the words on paper allowed me to move past my feelings about something I could not otherwise change.
Years later, seeking a new challenge, I decided to complete the story as a full novel. That led to writing and publishing four more novels within two years.

My brother had always been an accomplished photographer. I dabbled with it in high school but never acquired the drive to even make it a hobby. My writing ‘career’ completed, I decided I might like photography if I just applied myself to it. It remains a favorite hobby today.

Earlier I mentioned learning a language. In high school, I learned Spanish. Even though I’ve rarely used it in real-life situations, I try to read a book in Spanish now and then. It keeps my mind fresh.

Likewise, after high school, I dated a friend of my cousin’s who had been an actress in Japan. From her, I learned a smattering of Japanese. But in recent years, I have decided to immerse myself more in learning that language – a challenge because it is so unlike western languages.

What’s my next challenge? I have no idea, but it doesn’t really matter what the challenge is, so long as I’m trying something new – reinventing myself again and again.

What About You?

What have you done to re-invent yourself? What are your thoughts about the ideas expressed in this article? Let me know in the comments.

Why I Chose the Nikon Z8

June 17th, 2024

Why I Chose the Nikon Z8

I’ve been a Nikon shooter for most of my life. Although I wasn’t an avid photographer until a few years ago, I dabbled with several point-and-shoot cameras over the years, most of them of the CoolPix variety. I later moved on to a DSLR with the D3400 and eventually to the Z6ii mirrorless. And I was happy with my Z6ii for more than four years.

In fact, I enjoyed the Z6ii so much – even though I knew that the auto-focus could still be improved – that I was excited when rumors of a Z6iii began circulating.
But the release of the new version of the Z6 seemed to drag on repeatedly. And as rumored specs were leaked, I began to wonder if the 6iii would be that much of an improvement.

There were rumors of a 33mp sensor – not quite the 45mp of the Z7, Z7ii, Z9 or the newly (in 2023) released Z8 – but still a step up from the 24mp sensor of the Z6 models. But I held on, and when there was a definite date for the official announcement of the new model – June 17 – it was accompanied by a more definitive set of ‘leaked’ specifications.

Most notably, the sensor would not be increased above 24mp. But, as the leak noted, the auto-focus would be ‘as good as’ the Z8 or Z9. The only thing mentioned where the Z6iii would exceed the Z8 or Z9 was in a higher resolution Electronic View Finder (EVF).

But it also noted that the price would be around 3000 Euros, or about $3200 US, although it noted that “the US price will be lower.” But how much lower? If the European price is 3000 Euros, it seems highly unlikely that the Z6iii US price would be close to the $2000 mark – the price point of the Z6 and Z6ii at introduction. Coupled with that, Nikon was offering a $500 savings – or $3495 – for the Z8. (After this article was originally posted, the price was announced as $2495 US)

There is also the consideration that Nikon can be very slow in actually getting product to the consumer after an announcement. For example, the much-hyped 180-600mm lens was announced on June 21, 2023 with a projected release date of mid-July. The first release actually occurred in mid-August and now, almost a year after the announcement, there are dozens if not hundreds of photographers still waiting for the lens they pre-ordered.

So after a few days consideration, my analysis came down this way.

• The Z8, although only a little over a year old, has a proven track record with sports photographers. This despite two hiccups in the initial releases resulting in recalls.
• The Z8 has a 45mp sensor, a fast and reliable electronic shutter, and excellent auto-focus (which has been improved with the release of the 2.01 firmware earlier this month).
• In contrast, the Z6iii is looking more like a small incremental upgrade to the existing Z6ii model but with a price point likely closer to the sale price of the Z8 than to the traditional price point of the Z6 line. Yes, it may have auto-focus ‘as good as’ the Z8, but the Z8 already has that level of auto-focus (and perhaps even better after the firmware release.)
• So the Z6iii has an EVF with a higher resolution. But sports photographers generally prefer a higher resolution photo because of the need to crop for action moments. A high resolution EVF does not translate to a high resolution photo – and the Z6iii will still be at 24mp.

So with that in mind, I decided against waiting for the Z6iii announcement and went ahead with the purchase – on sale – of a Z8. I have it in my hands now, rather than waiting perhaps two to six months to actually get a Z6iii – a camera that I would likely be looking to upgrade from in a couple of years.

So far, I am extremely happy with my decision and it’s very likely the Z8 will be my ‘forever’ camera.

Regrets - I've Had a Few

June 8th, 2024

Regrets - I

“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” says the lyric of a popular song sung by Frank Sinatra, “But then again, too few to mention.”

But by the time we reach our ‘golden years’, many of us do have regrets. And though we may not mention them, they become part of the fabric of our being.
Everyone’s experiences are different, but studies show that the regrets of seniors often break down to a few select areas.


Unnecessary worry makes the top list of many people. Too often, we spend large parts of our lives – even weeks or months – worrying about things that never come to pass.

• My kid just shoplifted. What if he becomes a criminal?
• My husband is sick. How will I go on if he dies?
• I messed up on the job. What if I get fired?

In each of these situations, there is a reason to be concerned about the outcome. But all too often, we spend inordinate amounts of time and mental stress magnifying a slight possibility into a crisis.

In every life, people make mistakes. They get sick. Their performance is less than they are usually capable of.

But also in every life, most of these situations work themselves out with little or no long-term consequences. Even if things don’t work out as one hopes, that result won’t be changed by worrying about it. It is best to take life a day at a time and deal with whatever comes your way – but not until it does come your way.


Of course, we all want and need friends, and we want them to like us. But many of us waste our commitment to ourselves by trying to conform to what we see as others’ expectations of us.

Certainly, at work there are rules and norms which need to be followed. Likewise, we should observe certain proprieties in our personal life.

But too often, we let the judgment of others dictate our happiness. And too often, our perception of what might happen to our friendships if we don’t bow to others’ expectations is not valid.

The Roman Emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, put it this way, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion of us than our own.”

Several years ago, I heard a comment which has remained with me:
““People spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

Care about the feelings and impressions of others about you, but don’t let it overwhelm your thinking and action.


I was guilty of this when my family was young. I had a job that I enjoyed but which required me to work shifts and sometime long hours. I often came home tired and sometimes didn’t make time to be with my wife and kids. Even though they really wanted only a relatively small amount of attention, I wasn’t always ‘there’ for them.

Like many grandparents who let work and other pursuits detract from ‘family time’ when they were younger, I learned enough that I now devote time to my grandson every day. But it also reminds me every day that I regret not doing the same for my kids when they were young.


This goes hand in hand with spending quality time with loved ones. It is also very much the bane of many older men. We were raised with the mandate to maintain a ‘stiff upper lip’ – to withhold emotional expression. Men of my generation have seen marriages suffer and even end because they had trouble simply saying “I love you” to those close to them.

My own father worked very hard to provide for our family. Yet I knew he cared because he took time to teach me how to do different things. More importantly, he taught me the resourcefulness to figure out things on my own. But one thing was always missing – a simple expression of feelings.

I never saw my father cry. And he only said the words “I love you” once to me – when he was 81 years old and two days from the end of his life.

Yet even with that experience, not uncommon to those of my generation, we haven’t always been forthcoming with our feelings either. And most of us regret that now.


There is so much to see in the world. But often, we put it off 1) until we can ‘afford’ it, 2) until the kids are grown, 3) until we are retired and ‘have the time’ or 4) because we need new kitchen cabinets (or whatever).

But most people, when they become seniors, express huge regrets over not getting out and seeing the world. All too often, by the time we are retired, the kids are grown, we have a little more financial stability, and we don’t feel the need to replace some household item that works well enough, our health won’t permit us to ‘see the world.’

I’ve been fortunate to have visited sites in all the lower 48 states and several foreign countries. But I know I could have done more, and regret that I didn’t.
Fortunately, for me and my wife, our health is good. We had a wonderful time in Europe a few years ago, and plan to go back.


People of my generation were raised with the admonition to “get a good job and hang on to it.” This came from parents who had experienced the Great Depression – people who feared any possibility of returning to the destitution they had known as kids.

But following that admonition blindly deprived many of us with the opportunity to expand our professional horizons. The fear of failure – engrained in us by well- meaning parents – kept us from ‘reaching for the brass ring.’ And the irony is that our parents (or their parents) didn’t ‘fail.’ They suffered because of global economic excesses far out of their control.

In my lifetime, I’ve passed up several opportunities to move in a different direction with my life. But in almost every situation, I chose the ‘safe’ path of staying with the familiar. I managed to reach a pinnacle of my profession and from that, I gained confidence to try several other avocations. But I was in my early 50s when that began.

Experts tell us that people are more likely to regret not making a career move than they are to have tried and had it not work out as well as they planned.


Obviously, we can’t go back and relive our lives. But if it’s not too late – a loved one has passed on, for example – we can try to make amends. The power of a simple but sincere “I’m sorry” can be amazing.

“Better late than never” is something to consider.

• Take that long-put-off trip to Fiji.
• Take a drive to someplace in the United States you’ve always talked about visiting.
• Fix a candlelight dinner for someone dear to you – the kind of dinner you fixed or took her out for when you were wooing her and have rarely done since.
• Pick up your phone and call that sibling or child that you haven’t spoken to for months or years.

None of these will completely fix those mistakes of our lives – our regrets. And some regrets can no longer be ‘fixed.’

We just have to live with those.

Why You Should Keep a Journal

June 4th, 2024

Why You Should Keep a Journal

In a previous post, I wrote about various methods of keeping a journal. But that article didn’t answer the basic question – why should you consider keeping a journal in the first place?

The internet is full of lists detailing the reasons for journaling. This is mine.


This is my number one reason for keeping a journal. As I noted in my previous post, I use a computer app called DayOne. It has a great feature called On This Day, which displays all your previous entries on a specific day of the year.

I check my On This Day list every morning. It reconnects me with what I was doing – what I was thinking about on today’s date in years past. I find it to be interesting but also reaffirming about progress I’ve made.

Likewise, recording events contemporaneously helps you remember important events and decisions. It can also serve as a reminder of those who have influenced your life – who have helped to make you the person you are now.

By recording the good and the bad, journaling can also help us avoid past mistakes.


I mentioned contemporaneous writing, and it is important to make note of our feelings ‘in the moment.’ By looking inside ourselves and reflecting on how we addressed the challenges and rewards of a given day, we can be moved to become a more compassionate – a better – person. In fact, one of the most famous journals of all time, Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” was exactly this type of journal.

“Who am I today?” is an important part of recording our life, for it becomes “Who was I on that day?” when we look back at prior entries.

Thus, we can see the evolution of ourselves – how our attitudes have changed or remained the same. We can also reflect on how our view of the world around us and, indeed, our view of the worth of ourselves has progressed.


By recording our thoughts as we move through the day, we provide a platform for future reflection. Our thoughts may be irrelevant in the future – but just as likely, they might become inspirational or educational upon reflection.

We never know how reflecting on past thoughts will shape our future. But if they aren’t recorded, they certainly will never provide any future value.


I mentioned making a record of those who have influenced us. But often, we may not know how much impact another person may have on us until much later. Noting interactions with others, their impact on our lives – positive or negative – may become clear with time.

This is an area where I have been remiss in the past. As I read my old journals, particularly those related to work, I find that my notations about my interactions with others lack clarity.

I’m sure that the brief note I made at the time served to remind me of the full event a few weeks or months later. But more than 20 years later, I find many of those notations useless for recalling details of events – some of them important in my life. Thus, my lack of attention to detail in my writings of that time have denied me the insights which might have been enlightening ... I'll never know.


The world today no longer values penmanship in the way it was respected five or six decades ago. But skill in crafting the written word, whether with a pen or a computer keyboard, remains valuable in almost everyone’s life.

Like any skill, it must be continually practiced to reinforce good techniques and remedy poor ones. Keeping a daily journal means that, no matter what else happens in our day, we have a regular dose of applying the writing craft.


March 2020 did not just bring winds of change – it brought a virtual hurricane. Within a matter of days, most human interaction was deemed unsafe. People were dying after exposure to tiny strands of genetic material contained within an organic particle less than 120 nanometers in diameter.

Disinfectant sprays and hand wipes flew off store shelves. Food supplies dwindled under the crush of panic buying. People were ordered to remain at home – with contact limited to members of their own households.

With few exceptions – emergency service workers, medical personnel, and food store employees – unemployment became the order of the day. Fourteen million people lost their jobs in a three-month period from March to May. This increase in unemployment surpassed the Recession of 2007-2010 and rivaled the numbers seen in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Even those who maintained employment were forced to completely change the way ‘work’ was accomplished. We went from working in an office and interacting with many other people one day to connecting only by virtual meetings the next.

Such a momentous circumstance may happen only once in a lifetime.

But history tells us that we, as a people, will survive this. And for those of us who were fortunate enough to be part of the majority who survived the pandemic, a well-kept journal provides an invaluable look at how we confronted the microscopic enemy and the personal chaos it wrought.

What are your thoughts about keeping a journal? Do you regularly record your thoughts and actions, even if no one but you will ever read them?

It is worth noting that Marcus Aurelius never had any intention that his journal would be published or even that it would be seen by others. Yet his insights about his own life choices have affected the lives of untold numbers of people throughout the centuries.

Tell me about your experiences in the comments.

Social Media - Benefit or Nightmare

June 2nd, 2024

Social Media - Benefit or Nightmare

I was an early adopter of social media, long before the term existed. In 1988, I wrote a journal article discussing the use of a computerized bulletin board system (BBS) to connect government agencies with their constituents. The pre-internet system I described used a then-high tech 1200 baud dial-up modem for connectivity. Compuserve, mIRC, and MySpace have all occupied space in my life at one time or another.


I admit I have a love-hate relationship with current social media. Facebook allowed me to connect – or re-connect – with people I likely would not have otherwise. Instagram and Flickr were boons to my photography hobby. And Twitter (now X, which I still haven’t gotten used to), although I don’t embrace it as some friends do, still provides some contact with others.

On the other hand, social media – especially Facebook – can be exceedingly time consuming. I continually question whether the time I invest there produces the results I’d like.
Which begs a larger question. Is social media a benefit or a nightmare? Does it enhance our lives, or just add another dimension of frustration and doubt? Are there other risks to be concerned about?


It is obvious that social media brings people together in ways unimaginable only twenty years ago. It puts us in touch with people we’ve lost contact with over the years.
A good example is my high school class. Our class was far from cohesive when we were in school, and as time went on, we seemed to drift even further apart. Then about 10 years ago, we started connecting again. We have our own class page on Facebook. And to my chagrin, I discovered that many of my classmates – with whom I had no contact for decades – lived within a few miles of me.

In addition to ‘meeting’ on Facebook, members of my class who live in the area where we went to school have a monthly lunch meeting. It is – or was before the COVID-19 crisis put an end to restaurant dining – a great time to socialize for a couple of hours. But it was born from social media connection. The lunches have since resumed.
I also live a long distance from the area where I spent most of my working life. Facebook helps me stay in touch with many of my former co-workers.


Social media can be good for our mental health. One of the biggest advantages to social media is that it expands and nurtures relationships. Improved communication and human interaction was a primary reason for the emergence of social media in the first place.

Social media can help people build relationships with those of similar likes and similar concerns. Just as with my example of my high school class, it can reinvigorate relationships – often forged by shared experiences – which have lapsed over time.

It can also vastly expand resources for mental health information – sharing experiences with those struggling with similar problems. Internet support groups, blogs, and discussion forums have greatly expanded support resources.

Online support for personal issues, whether physical such as diabetes or cancer, or psychological issues such as depression can be attractive to those who might not otherwise seek help.

The attraction derives from three factors of social media:

* Anonymity: Many find it easier to share problems with ‘anonymous friends’ on the other side of a screen and keyboard. There is minimal risk of identification and ‘real-world’ interaction.

* 24/7 availability: There is always someone there, online. If a problem is keeping you awake at night, there’s always someone there is ‘talk’ to. With the advances in cell phone technology in accessing the internet, you don’t even have to be near a computer to reach out. And in the event of a crisis, social media can be life-saving. There are numerous instances of online support communities – or even an individual online ‘friend’ – being credited with saving someone from suicide or accidental drug overdose.

* No Borders: The internet is universal. When you are awake at 3:00 AM, mulling a troubling issue as you sit in your bedroom in Chicago, someone in Tokyo is wide awake. Online support groups draw from all over the world, and someone is always available.


Yet an advantage of social media – bringing us closer to people we’re far away from – is often countered by taking us farther from the people we’re close enough to talk to.

Every day, thousands of people sit scrolling and staring at their social media accounts while drinking coffee in their favorite cafe. Instead, they could be enjoying the food, taking in the atmosphere around them, and engaging with others in the restaurant. Yet they are often oblivious to even the presence of other people around them.

Every time we have a minute, we take out our phones and check social media – in restaurants, department stores, on the train or bus, in the airport, on the beach, in a park, by the pool. Our world is reduced to ‘content’ on a 15 square inch screen.

I’ve seen it – I’m sure you have, too. A couple sits at a table for two in a nice restaurant. In times past, they may have been gazing into each others’ eyes – maybe holding hands across the table. Too often today, they sit four feet apart across the table, only occasionally acknowledging each other as their eyes race across the small screen each holds in their hands. In the worst scenario, they’re texting each other.

And imagine a situation where a friend is celebrating a birthday. Twenty years ago, you may have mailed a nice birthday card. Maybe you would even call your friend on the telephone. If you lived close enough, you might get together for lunch or a cup of coffee just to talk.

Today, you just open Facebook and type a couple of words on your friend’s wall. A great example of how social media kills the actual communication of real life, social media is actually making us unsocial.


Social media can also have detrimental effect on our mental health.

An August 2019 survey of 998 Generation Z – those born between 1996 and 2010 – discovered a total of 41% are made to feel anxious, sad, or depressed by platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The survey, by Origin, Hill-Holliday’s in-house research arm, found 34% of Gen Z saying that they are permanently quitting social media. Another 64% reported taking a break.

But 77% of the same group reported that having social media accounts provide more benefits than drawbacks.

Twenty-two percent reported fear of missing out (FOMO) if they weren’t constantly connected through social media. Yet, 71% say that social media has a positive impact on friendships. Twenty-nine percent say that social media interactions hurt their self-esteem and make them feel insecure. But 61% said that social media had a positive impact on their confidence.


Social media invites us to compare ourselves with others. For people with self-esteem issues and insecurities, hearing about other people’s happiness and successes can deepen feelings of inferiority. In today’s world, self-worth too often revolves around the number of Facebook ‘friends’ or the number of ‘likes and shares’ our posts receive.

But we forget that social media posts don’t always present a true picture of the poster’s real life. It’s easier to fake happiness – and sadness – in social media posts.
While older users may not have the intensity of feelings from social media, this and similar surveys point out our love/hate relationship with social apps.


Social media can take up a large portion of the time given us each day. According to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, social media is now the third largest consumer of our average lifetime. Social media use consumes an average 6 years and 8 months of our lives. That is only slightly eclipsed by watching TV (8 years and 4 months). Not surprisingly, the largest single consumer of our time is sleeping, at 26 years and 5 months of the average lifespan of 72 years.

Yet, time devoted to social media is increasing each year. Americans spent an average of 147 minutes (2 hours and 27 minutes) a day on social media in 2022. That’s a 70% jump from the average of 90 minutes per day in 2012.

Not surprisingly, Gen Z spends the most time on social media – 3 hours and one minute per day, according to Digital Information World. Daily use decreases with age, but those over 55 (my age group) still spend an average of one hour and 13 minutes a day on social apps.


A significant downside of social media is that it has become the de facto news source for large numbers of people. Facebook, especially, has become a haven for ‘fake news.’
Yellow journalism, stirring public sentiments with sensationalism and biased reporting, has been with us since the 1840s. But ‘news by meme’ has taken this concept to new heights. Sensational photos indicate wrongdoing by a political figure, yet may actually come from a different time or even a different part of the world than that portrayed.
COVID-19, political positions, social justice and defunding the police have all been recent topics of information and misinformation.

And this is not a localized phenomenon. People in other countries can have very adverse opinions of certain U.S. events, based solely on memes or out-of-context postings on Facebook.

That is coupled with the rise of the ‘social influencer.’ The term broadly applies to those with a large presence on social media whose opinions impact purchasing decisions of their followers. But especially since 2016, mega-influencers such as entertainment celebrities have used their fame to attempt to influence political positions, even though they likely have no more knowledge of the intricacies of the position than any of the rest of us.

And finally, but not insignificant, are the increasing number of amateur journalists. This includes anyone with a camera – almost everyone with a cell phone – who posts their take on events of the day on social media. This type of journalism can be highly beneficial in providing coverage of events deemed unworthy of coverage by established media outlets. But it can also suffer from a lack of journalistic standards of fairness and fact checking.


Dr. David Buch, Chief Medical Officer of Carrier Clinic, a central New Jersey behavioral health center, puts it this way. “As with any healthy relationship, use of social media should have its boundaries. Ultimately, whether social media is ‘good’ or ‘bad’/‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ for a person’s mental health and well-being is directly related to how they are used (or abused), by whom, and to some degree by who is passing judgment.

“Key to enjoying the benefits while avoiding the problems is to use these powerful tools sensibly, constructively, and in moderation. Like food, which we truly can’t live without, the right choices in the right amounts keep people healthy and satisfied, while poor choices and excess consumption can lead to significant, potentially life-threatening health conditions.”

Social media is here to stay. It’s up to each of us to use it wisely.

Upgrading my Photo Editing Equipment

June 2nd, 2024

Upgrading my Photo Editing Equipment

Over the past several years, I have done the majority of my photo editing and cataloging on an iMac Retina 5K computer built in 2015. The iMac has been a trusted tool for this task but it has entered the stage of being considered obsolete. In Apple’s terms, that means it can no longer be upgraded with the latest operating system or features.

While this is not an immediate killer issue, I have noticed the computer bogging down with new versions of programs in recent months. Apple’s spinning beachball has become an all-too-often visitor to my screen.

I had in mind to get a new computer toward the end of 2023 but that timeline moved up a few days ago when I spent an entire day on the phone with customer service trying to get a new version of a program to work on my ‘obsolete’ machine. So I decided to go ahead with a new computer.


For some time, I considered eliminating my desktop computer and just using a laptop. There is something to be said for having a portable computer and the ability to take all my photos with me to any location without transferring files. Several people I know, including my wife and two sons, do all their work on a laptop.

But as I looked at options, I came to a couple of realizations. First, I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be. Thus, the thought of editing photos on a much smaller screen wasn’t appealing, considering the largest MacBook available only has a 16-inch-diagonal screen. That is in comparison to the 27-inch screen on my iMac. (I am a confirmed Apple fan, even though I have a Windows laptop for one special application.)

Second, I also reasoned that I don’t really travel that much anymore. In fact, a year or so ago, I released my 2014 MacBook for ‘family’ use and got an iPad Air as my ‘travel’ computer. I can do light photo editing on it, which is sufficient for the little off-site work I do. So by investing in a MacBook, I would be buying a ‘mobile’ solution for a problem that, in practical terms, doesn’t exist for me personally.

Finally, cost was a factor. A 16-inch MacBook outfitted with the memory I need would come with a price tag of nearly $3500. And if, as some suggested, I would need to get a 27-inch monitor to better use my MacBook at home, the cost would increase by several hundred dollars, even for a less-than-ideal monitor.


As my thoughts moved away from a laptop, I briefly considered a new iMac. However, the all-in-one iMacs no longer come with a 27-inch screen. A 24-inch screen is the largest available with the new iMacs.

The Mac Studio was also a fleeting consideration. It had a much higher base price, and it became considerably more expensive when I added sufficient storage memory for my needs. Additionally, the Mac Studio currently comes with the older generation M1 chip from Apple.


The elimination of those two alternatives brought my choice down to the Mac Mini. I was happy to see that a new version of the mini, complete with the new generation M2 Apple chip had been released in January 2023. I also noted that the mini is smaller than the Mac studio, at least in height.

While the base model, priced at $599, would have been a reasonable alternative when the internal memory was upgraded for my needs, I opted to go with the slightly more expensive pro model. With the pro, I got some additional expansion ports and a slightly better cooling system. Since I plan to make this computer last for 7 to 10 years, I felt the small upgrade was worth the price. Even with a memory upgrade, the mini was less expensive than the Mac Studio model.


Since I had already dismissed the notion of buying another iMac or a MacBook, my alternatives represented modular technology. In other words, the computer was separate from the monitor. While this is the normal configuration for Windows-based computers, it represents a departure for Apple computers of the last decade or so.

However, I wasn’t unhappy with this situation. Since monitor technology and computer processor technology might develop at different rates, it’s a benefit in my mind to be able to address upgrades separately.

There are literally dozens of monitor choices available. But after having the advantages of a 5K monitor for several years on my iMac, I knew I wanted to stay with that level of resolution. That significantly limited my choices of monitors since there are really only two monitors available with a 5K 27-inch screen. One is the Studio Display from Apple and the other is a similar monitor from LG.

LG typically makes good products and their monitor was, on paper, very similar to the more expensive Apple monitor. But some of the features not apparent on performance specs alone became considerations. Most prominently, the Apple Studio Display is cased completely in aluminum, thus making it very sturdy. The LG comes in a plastic case.
Beyond the durability issue, the Apple provides four additional USB-C expansion ports on the back for connecting additional disk drives or other peripherals. The LG has no such ports. The Apple’s built-in speakers also came highly rated.

Finally, the reviews listed some occasional issues with LG connectivity to Apple products, from the Mac Studio to using it as an external monitor for a MacBook. Conversely, the Apple Studio Display ‘just works’ with Apple products.

It might be prudent to accept a lower level of quality and connectivity if there was a significant difference in price. But the LG is only slightly cheaper than the Apple – and not enough of a difference to justify the limitations, in my opinion.

The Studio Display comes in two screen versions – a normal glass screen and a nano-coated screen which reportedly cuts glare by significant amounts. However, the nano screen also mutes some colors and is more difficult to clean than the standard screen. Since I have good light control in my office, I chose the base model. It’s really no different from a standpoint of glare, than my iMac screen. That is to say, in my case, it’s not an issue.

Significant in my choice was the fact that the Mac Mini and the monitor I chose came in at almost the same price as a 16ʺ MacBook Pro – and the larger monitor I would need for serious editing at home is included in the package.


Anyone who has ever been through the process of moving files to a new computer can identify with the frustration and the time that it takes to complete the process. That is why I was very impressed with Apple’s Migration Assistant. This app makes the transfer from one Apple Computer to another extremely easy.

And unlike setting up a new computer from a backup, all of your passwords come across in the transfer, so you don’t have to spend time reactivating numerous accounts.


Right away, I noticed a significant speed difference from the Apple M2 chip over my older Intel processor. The monitor also showed significant improvement over my older system.

I’m very happy with my choice and I think that this set up will last me several years into the future.

Article Photo: My current setup: From left, a HP 27ʺ monitor as a secondary display, an Apple Studio display as the main unit and an iPad Air. The iPad isn’t configured as a monitor to the main computer, but is attached only with Apple’s Universal control which allows me to access the apps on the iPad using my main computer’s mouse and keyboard. That’s handy when I need to add something to an IOS app without changing my configuration. Below the monitors is a Wacom editing tablet. The CPU is on the right of the main display – an Apple M2 Pro Mac mini. On top of the mini is a Qwiizlab USB C Hub with Dual Drive Enclosure. This gives me two additional storage drives plus front port access for a camera card and occasional-use USB devices. The keyboard and mouse are standard Apple products. To the right is a Brother color laser printer and – barely showing at the corner – a ScanSnap dual side scanner.

Why I Use Two iPads

June 2nd, 2024

Why I Use Two iPads

In an earlier post on this site, I wrote about my office desk setup. In that post, I talked briefly about using my iPad Air as an attacheddevice to my Mac Mini.

However, the iPad is not used as a secondary (or in my case, tertiary) monitor. Rather, it is connected to the Mac using Apple’s Universal Control feature to allow me to easily access information which is only available on IOS devices.


But what about when I’m away from my desk. How do I use my iPad?

A little over a year ago, I faced a dilemma. My old 2014 MacBook had outlived its useful life and could no longer be updated with the latest version of Apple’s operating system. I considered a new MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air, or – somewhat unconventionally, I believed – an iPad as my primary remote computing device.

At one time in my life, I traveled much more than I do now and the MacBook was really a principal operating device for my work, whether as a teacher, writer, or photographer. However, lately I am focused on photography and mostly needed a device that I could use for editing and captioning photos on the road.

Secondarily, I also read a lot and occasionally watch videos. While watching videos on a MacBook is certainly feasible, it’s far less suited as a reading device.

With those considerations in mind, I went with the 5th Generation iPad Air, and I have not been disappointed. I can easily connect an Apple Magic Keyboard to the iPad for captioning photos and for writing social media posts. I can also use a mouse but the real star for editing is the Apple Pencil. It makes photo editing with Lightroom Mobile on the iPad a breeze.

I had my first test of using the iPad Air as a photo editing platform during a Christmas trip in 2022. The result bore out my expectation that, for my uses, the iPad was a better choice than a MacBook. There are still some things that have to be done on a MacOS computer, but nothing that’s urgent during a trip.


I will be the first to agree that this solution isn’t for everyone. While Apple has made some great strides in improving the IOS experience, particularly for iPadOS, it still isn’t as powerful as a MacBook.

Specifically, there are many apps which run under MacOS but for which there is no IOS counterpart. In other cases, there is an IOS version but it is not as powerful as the MacOS version. This is an issue that I confront. The IOS version of my photo editing app, Lightroom, is not as full-featured as the MacOS version.

However, the two versions do exchange photo files relatively seamlessly, so I can live with my mobile workflow being a step down from what I’ve been used to with a Mac or MacBook. Additionally, I’m aware that Adobe is continuing to improve the mobile version of Lightroom.

While this issue does not outweigh the convenience of a smaller and lighter package of an iPad vs. a MacBook for me, the same might not be true for everyone.


One drawback I discovered of the iPad Air is that, at 11 inches diagonally, it’s actually a little more unwieldy for reading than I anticipated. This ‘drawback’ wasn’t enough for me to abandon the idea of the iPad Air being my primary away- from-the-office device by any means. But it was a consideration.

So one day about 17 months after I made the switch to the iPad Air, I pulled out my 4th generation iPad Mini. I had actually shelved it when I bought the iPad Air, thinking I would never have a use for it. While it was also considered ‘obsolete’ by Apple and thus no longer eligible for the current operating system, and didn’t have many of the features of a new model, it was definitely lighter.

So I resurrected it, primarily as a reading device for my Kindle Books. While I was immediately happy with the lighter device as a reader, it also became apparent that it ‘would be nice’ to be able to have greater functionality in those cases where I might only have my iPad mini with me.

For example, I often like to read in a restaurant if I’m out for lunch by myself. The mini is the device I choose for that purpose, but what if I think of a social media post while I’m reading. I don’t necessarily want to bring my larger iPad around for ‘just in case’ but the older iPad Mini just wasn’t up to some tasks.

In particular, I could not easily load photos from my camera onto the older mini, although it’s an easy task with the newer devices because of USB-C support.

However, I couldn’t justify in my own mind the cost of a current generation iPad Mini 6 for the intended use. Then, out of the blue, I got a notice from Amazon that they were having another 20% off sale on the iPad Mini 6. That made the price more palatable and I ordered the mini 6.

After only a week, I was happy with the choice. The iPad Air provides the size factor for remote photo editing and captioning, while the iPad Mini is an excellent reader. But the payoff is that I can do the same functions with either device, maybe not as easily or efficiently on one as the other, but they are equally capable. My keyboard, mouse, and external camera card reader work equally as well on the new iPad Mini as on the Air, and I can still use the Air as a reader if that’s what I have available.

I can also note that I briefly considered the new versions of the iPad Pro and iPad Air which came out in May 2024. However, I decided that the upgrades weren’t sufficient to justify the expenditure over the devices I currently have.


So how do I transport my devices? I still had a couple of bags that I had previously used for my MacBook but they were really too large for even the iPad Air. I knew I wanted to be able to have my keyboard and mouse readily available, as well as a portable charger for those ‘oops’ moments when I use more power than I anticipated. But I didn’t want to carry a ‘messenger’ type bag that was far larger than I needed.

I initially purchased a nice leather satchel for the purpose but it wasn’t quite right. The iPad Air was a little tight and the keyboard stuck out of the bag. Additionally, it really didn’t protect the contents from dirt or other elements very well. One trip to Lake Michigan with the accompanying beach sand, which got into my bag, convinced me that I needed something better.

I ultimately settled on the TomToc Daily Shoulder Bag. The medium size is designed to carry the iPad Air 5 or the iPad Pro 11′′. It is a Cordura nylon cross-body bag which has several compartments for accessories and is water and dust resistant. It also easily accommodates my Apple keyboard, mouse, camera connection accessories and a portable charger. And it is flexible enough that I can carry either or both of my iPads with ease.

It has proven to be an excellent bag for travel or even for everyday carry (EDC).


What are your thoughts on this approach? Have you considered an iPad as a replacement for a laptop computer or do you feel the iPad isn’t quite ready for this yet?
Let me know in the comments below.

DeClutter Your Electronic Life

June 2nd, 2024

DeClutter Your Electronic Life

We all do it. When faced with the question of “Should I keep this or throw it out?”, we take the ‘safe’ approach. “Well, I might need it someday” seems like a reasonable choice, and the item goes in a drawer or on a shelf, never to be thought of again. Indeed, many of us of the Baby Boomer generation fall back on the thrifty ways instilled in us by our parents – survivors of the Great Depression.

There’s no doubt that, for some things, we might actually use that item someday. But saving pens that are out of ink, a paperback book that you ‘might read again someday’ or even that 1979 model microwave oven that ‘someone might want’ is counter-productive.

Thus, many people seek help in decluttering. In a recent search of Amazon, a list of more than 1,000 books on the subject popped up.


The modern age has spawned a new type of clutter, unused apps and files on our ever-present electronic devices. Because of the constant use of phones and computers, it becomes even more important to address clutter on those devices.

As of 2022, after two years of social distancing and working from home as a result of COVID-19, we were and continue to be even more tied to our devices. Zoom meetings and kids attending school virtually increase the importance of computer speed – speed which is adversely impacted by electronic clutter on our devices.

On the positive side, the reduction in time consumed by commuting and in-person meetings gives us the opportunity to address those resource-eating files and apps.


Today, more than ever, our smart phones have become miniature computers that we can also use to talk to other people. No longer is the phone simply a communication device.

Whatever we can think of, “there’s an app for that.” And those apps, and their associated files, can consume huge amounts of space on our phones. The ability to place apps in folders on modern cell phones can mean that apps are easily ‘lost’ – we don’t use them and don’t even remember they are there.


Start by critically looking at every app on your phone. Ask yourself two questions:

“How often, if ever, do I use that app?” and “Is it a unique application on my phone?”

The solution to the first question is easy. If you don’t use the app regularly, delete it and free up the space. What does ‘regularly’ mean? Only you can determine that, but if you can’t even remember the last time you used the app, that’s probably a good indication you don’t need it.

The second question is a little trickier, but still obvious if you think about it. In my case, I had three weather apps on my phone. Each presented current weather information in a slightly different way, but the data all came from the same place. There were times when I liked to see the information displayed more graphically, or for a longer term, or whatever motivated me to download the specific app in the first place.

But did I really need to have three weather apps on my phone? Wouldn’t one suffice to tell me what I needed to know – “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow, or this weekend?” Of course, I only needed one. I also knew which one I used most often. I kept it and deleted the other two.

Another source of duplicate apps is a little more insidious. We download a ‘trial’ app and after using it, we decide we like it and want the full featured version. So we download that. But in many cases, the trial version and the full-featured version are actually separate apps – now both residing on our phone. Get rid of that trial version.


Whether we use a desktop or laptop computer, it is all too easy to accumulate clutter. Even more than our phones, our computers are productivity devices. But that productivity can easily be hampered by accumulated clutter.


The desktop is often the place to start. It is intended to be the place where you store your most-used apps and files, not everything you’ve used in the past year (or more). As with your phone, start by examining every icon on your desktop.
If the icon represents a file, decide if it is something you use regularly. Again, the definition of ‘regularly’ is open to individual interpretation, but ‘once or twice a year’ probably doesn’t count. If not, you have three options:
• Delete the file completely. If the icon is a shortcut or alias, be sure to delete the underlying file as well.

• Store the file in an appropriate sub-folder in your Documents folder. Be sure to label the sub-folder in a way which makes finding the file easier in the future. Store the file in an app like Apple Notes or Evernote - apps specifically designed for long-term storage of documents.

• If you decide that the icon needs to remain on your desktop, consider creating a folder on the desktop to hold the icons of similar files. One example is to create a folder for screenshots. You can still retain the information on your desktop, but the folder takes up far less space and makes it easier to access those photos. In my own case, I even use a folder which contains several sub-folders of different types of photos.


It’s one of those things that just seems to happen. Your hard drive contains multiple copies of the exact same file in numerous places on the drive. Do you really need four copies of the same file, only denoted by four separate storage locations?

There is a great app to deal with the problem. Called the Duplicate Files Fixer, it is a small, and inexpensive app which is available from both Windows and Mac system. It scans your drive and alerts you to duplicate files.

Personally, I try very hard to avoid storing duplicates of files. But my first run with the Duplicate Files Fixer netted more than 4,000 duplicate files – claiming an incredible 2.4 gigabytes of disk space. And that was just in my Document folder.

True, many of them were files created by various programs outside my direct control. But to my chagrin, I found several instances of my own creation. I had multiple instances of the cover art for each of my five novels – four copies in one case.

DFF will clean up duplicates automatically, using parameters you set – keep newest or keep oldest. Or you can manually decide which copy to keep. It’s an eye-opening experience.


We’ve decided that we no longer need a particular app. So we right-click on the app file and pick Delete or Move to Trash, depending on the operating system. But does that completely delete the associate files?

In many cases, it does not. Our hard drive is still littered with dozens – and maybe hundreds – of files associated with that app. So what to do?

Here, I must state that what I’m about to say only applies to Mac users. I’m sure there is a similar program for Windows computers, but since I’m a long time Mac user, I haven’t kept up with what’s available for the Windows platform.

But if you’re a Mac user, I highly recommend CleanMyMac. The app performs the usual function of cleaning remnants from your browser and other often used locations. But my favorite function is that it seeks out and completely removes every file associated with an app when it is used to uninstall apps.


Another source of clutter is our email program. In this age of email marketing, we can get dozens of emails a day. But allowing those emails to accumulate in the inbox quickly escalates to its own kinds of clutter storage.

My goal is to completely clear my email inbox each day. I’m not always successful, but new mail doesn’t stay in the inbox for more than a day or two.

As mail comes in, I make one of four choices:

• Is the email merely informational or some kind of solicitation? If so, and it’s not information I really feel a need for, the email is immediately deleted.

• Does the email contain information I need to act on today or in the near future? If I have a running thread, I’ll leave the email in the inbox so as to keep the thread intact. But I’m always alert to move the thread to a storage location as soon as the exchange is complete.

• Does the email contain information that I may want to access or address sometime in the future, or is it the final part of an ongoing thread? In both of these cases, I have a series of archive folders set up as part of my email app.

• Does the email contain long-term reference information, such as conMrmation of a purchase and access code or financial information? In such cases, I store the email in Apple Notes.


Now that we’ve cleaned up our electronic environment, we can address some other contributors to that clutter.


In some instances, emptying the trash bin merely marks the items for later deletion. This is especially true of email apps, where ‘deleted’ emails are merely moved to a ‘trash’ folder.

Take some time to actually delete items in any such folders. If you follow the advice of regularly dealing with your inbox, there should be no need to keep ‘deleted’ emails longer than a few days. I personally clean out any ‘trashed’ emails older than one week.


Every solicitation email is supposed to have a link at the bottom to unsubscribe from any associated mailing list. Take a critical look at any such emails. If you routinely delete their emails – Option 1 of dealing with email, above – then why not unsubscribe and stop the clutter before it even arrives.


Assuming you kept one or more social media apps during your initial app- cleaning process, take a critical look at the time wasters associated with social media. Unfriend / unfollow any social media contacts that don’t really provide value to your life.

A Few Favorite Quotes

June 2nd, 2024

A Few Favorite Quotes

As we go through life, we encounter short sentences or phrases from others which speak to us. These quotes might be comforting, inspirational, humorous, or otherwise just memorable.

They don’t have to be profound, although many are. They don’t have to have religious connotations, although many take solace in religious quotations. They can be serious or humorous. But they must be memorable, at least to us individually.

Here are a few which have resonated with me through the years.


David Herbert Lawrence was an English writer and poet whose works often spoke to the dehumanizing effects of modernization. And he was writing in the early years of the 20th century when people were still relatively self-reliant.

He is known for several poems – “Snake” is probably the most famous. But I have always found one of his shortest works – a mere 26 words – to be the most impactful. “Self Pity” is a simple verse, almost like a Japanese Haiku. Yet it is powerful in its meaning.

"I never saw a wild thing
Sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself."

Humans have a tendency to dwell on misfortune and wallow in pity. Animals, on the other hand, accept misfortune and keep pushing forward with their lives so long as they are physically able.

These few lines remind us that self-pity can be mentally consuming and, ultimately, debilitating and self-destructive. Greek philosophers had a term for it: Amor Fati – accept fate.

It serves us well to remember that no outcome was ever improved by worrying about it.


Irving Stiber was my woodshop teacher in high school and he inspired me to a lifelong hobby of woodworking.

But Mr. Stiber also gave me with a memorable saying, which I discovered in his writings years later.

"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily."

I’m actually surprised that I don’t remember him ever saying this – although as a teenaged boy, I might have missed a gem of wisdom from an ‘old guy.’ But I well remember how he stressed attention to detail in our woodworking class.

And later, when I saw this written in his own hand, it made perfect sense – as well as being sound advice for our lives.


This verse has been attributed to the likes of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and motivational speaker Tony Robbins. I first heard it at a seminar in about 1985. I don’t remember the name of the speaker who said it but it has remained memorable to me.

"If you always do
What you always did,
You’ll always get
What you always got."

The verse speaks to the human propensity to do that same thing over and over, yet to expect different results.

The first time this phrase appeared in print was in 1981, when the “Milwaukee Sentinal” newspaper reported on the opening remarks at the seventh annual Woman to Woman conference.

The phrase, worded slightly differently from the way I heard it, was the advice of featured speaker Jessie Potter. Potter, the direct of the National Institute for Human Relationships, often drew on anecdotes and frank comments in her discussions of the need for change in the way people interact. She may very well have been the author of this quote, but no one seems completely sure.

Nevertheless, I’ve found it inspiring and useful in practical terms since I first heard it.


Burnett was a Chicago advertising executive responsible for some of advertising’s most iconic campaigns. Burnett is credited with the creation of Tony the Tiger, the Marlboro Man, the Maytag Repairman, United’s Fly the Friendly Skies, and Allstate’s Good Hands, among many others.

But it’s his comment on perseverance that has resonated with me for a long time:

"When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either."

To me, he is saying that you might not always achieve everything you set out to do, but by trying your best, you will learn from the experience. Conversely, by not trying, you wind up with nothing – the “handful of mud”.

As I have shown in this article, I have found several inspiring quotes over the years. But this is the only one that I have framed and posted in my office. It’s a continuing reminder to do my best.

Have you discovered quotes which have inspired you? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Keeping a Journal

June 2nd, 2024

Keeping a Journal

Journaling is a time-honored method of recording events in our daily lives. Dedicated journaling can help us recognize health problems, issues at work, and events or activities which inspire us.

Recording our daily activities provides a window into our past. It allows us to relive life’s significant events as we read those entries in subsequent years.
Ah, we remember them. At least those of a certain age do. The diary. A book with page edges gilded in gold. The obligatory strap with a key lock to keep its contents safe from prying eyes. Maybe even a leather cover – or at least one that looked like leather.

The diary. Every young girl had one – and every brother of a young girl did his best to try to read what it contained.

For most of us, at least, the diary with the lock strap has gone the way of the eight-track tape. That doesn’t mean we don’t have an internal need to record events of our lives. In fact, it may be more important today than it was in the days of that ubiquitous strap-locked book.


We often hear these words used interchangeably to describe a bound book for recording our thoughts. More recently, computer programs are available to take the place of these bound books. But the terms are not the same.

Diary entries are date-specific and typically are compilations of activities which occur on a given day.

Journals, on the other hand, are not date specific. Journal entries might include ideas, plans, random thoughts, song lyrics, doodles, pictures or anything else that comes to mind.

Personally, I do both and have them combined. I’ll explain that later in this article.

Likewise, for the rest of this article, I will use the term ‘journaling’ to refer to both types, unless it is necessary to differentiate for a specific point.


‘Paper’ journaling precedes paper itself. Several ancient civilizations recorded events on wet clay tablets which became permanent when the clay hardened. Others wrote on animal skins or carved characters in rocks. The invention of paper merely eased a process which was already in place.

Every great thinker has kept a journal. Their notes not only helped them craft their philosophical ideas, but also serve for later generations to understand their methodology.

Diaries – notations arranged by date – appeared later, but still have been around for a long time. One of the earliest known is Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν (To Myself), today known as the Meditations. Written in Greek by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the second half of the 2nd century AD, it already displays many characteristics of a diary.

Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) is the earliest diarist who is well known today. Pepys was among the first who took the diary beyond mere business transaction notation, into the realm of the personal.


Modern journals take many forms, but most are bound books with either lined or dotted paper. One exception is the Day-Timer series. These dated diaries are available as bound books, but the looseleaf format for ring binders has been most popular. I used a Day-Timer to record work activities for the last fifteen years of my working life.

For the journal format, Amazon lists the Paperage journal book as their most popular. It features a hard cover and lined pages.

A similar notebook, also available from Amazon, is the Moleskin series of notebooks. I have used older versions of Moleskin books and still like them. Moleskin books are about the same price as Paperage or other bound journals.


Even in this age of electronic everything, including writing correspondence and calculating finances on a computer, many experts believe handwritten journals have distinct advantages.

Kay Adams, a licensed psychotherapist and the founder/director of the Center for Journal Therapy in Denver, Colorado, listed these.

1. Writing By Hand Can Make Learning Easier.
Neuroscientists are strongly opposed to the decline in teaching penmanship, or cursive writing, in public schools, “When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain. And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize. Learning is made easier.”

2. Writing By Hand Can Improve Memory.
A research study comparing college students who took notes on laptops and those who took notes by hand found that students remembered lectures better with handwritten notes. It seems digital note-takers tend to transcribe a lecture rather than assimilate it. Manual note-taking requires discernment about ranking information according to its relative importance, allowing the hand-writers to remember core learning more readily.

3. Writing In a Journal, By Hand, Helps You Achieve the Maximum Benefit Of Journaling.
My anecdotal research as a journal therapist suggests that clients who write by hand are much more likely to have positive attachment to their journals and sustain the practice longer than those who write digitally. The handwritten journal, which is portable and accessible, is what therapists call a “constant presence.” It’s deemed by clients to be a more intimate, personal and relatable experience than writing on a phone app or computer; thus, the results tend to last longer and embed more deeply.

4. Writing By Hand Can Have Similar Benefits To Meditation.
In an article called “The Simple Joy of Writing by Hand,” Barbara Bash writes, “It is something about the physical act—the holding of the hand and pen—that is meditative, bringing me into the present.”

5. Writing By Hand Can Help Enhance Creative Expression.
According to British novelist Jon McGregor, “Pen and paper is always hand. Writing on the page stays on the page, with its scribbles and rewrites and long arrows suggesting a sentence or paragraph be moved and can be looked over and reconsidered. Writing on the screen is far more ephemeral. A sentence deleted can’t be reconsidered.”


• You can lose it, and there is no backup
• They can become messy with frequent updates
• No security. Others can flip open your journal and view your information
• Can be large and bulky to carry. Smaller versions often don’t have enough writing space.
• Difficult to compare information from previous years with today
• Require large amounts of space for storage as journal books amass


Those of you who know me, know that I am a fan of computer apps. Additionally, I was never great at keeping a diary or journal, except for work. So when I found applications, particularly those dedicated to journaling, I was on board.

I really got into Evernote during the latter years when I was teaching. Evernote, at its core, is an application for storage and retrieval of documents. However, it was also touted as an easy way to keep a journal.

I tried using Evernote briefly, but I found one major drawback – there is no real method to use Evernote as a diary. It is possible with a little manipulation to have consecutive dates stored, but not as easy as I had hoped. This is particularly true if you miss a day and are trying to write a diary entry for something that happened in the past.
Evernote is good for journaling and if that is solely the direction a person wants to go, I would still give it my recommendation.

The first program that I found which was dedicated to journaling was called Life Journal. Life Journal is still available, although their primary product is a relatively expensive subscription model. They also offer a standalone model, which only works on a Windows platform.

I used Life Journal for probably a year or so. I don’t give it a negative review, per se, but the format just did not suit my style. I considered moving to the cloud platform even though it seemed expensive. But in the end, I decided that I really wanted a different format.

The Journal, by DavidRM Software, still has my vote for the best layout of the programs I found. It has a very user-friendly interface, with good company support.
One feature that I like best about it is that the program allows you to create both diary and journal format files. So, with a simple mouse click, you can switch from making a “today entry” to writing in a topic-named journal.

As I used The Journal, I started to develop more of a diary habit. Not that I would write every day – although I have since adopted a daily journaling habit – but I was writing more often. And, especially, I like having journal notebooks because they allowed me to keep random or directed notes sorted by theme or topic.

However, coincidentally with my improved dedication to journaling, I also moved exclusively to an Apple based environment. Unfortunately, The Journal is only available for Windows devices.

I tried for a while to keep entries by using a Windows emulator on my iMac. However, the process of switching from the Mac environment to the Windows emulator just to make a journal entry proved to be too tedious.

I had actually tried Day One several years ago when it first came out. The interface was good but my major problem with the program was the way it stored entries. Entries were stored simply as text files on your computer, which could be readily accessed outside of the app environment. Finding no way around that, I decided that Day One was not for me.

About six years ago, I discovered that Day One now had new version which not only could sync entries to the cloud, but also used end-to-end encryption.

Additionally, Day One is designed for the Mac OS/iOS operating systems. Therefore, it would unburden me from the necessity to switch to a Windows operating system every time I want to make a journal entry.

The downside is that Day One does not have the ability to create journal-type documents. Within the Day One program, you can create multiple files – they call them journals – but Day One only supports a diary-type format.

At first, I considered keeping my journal-type entries on The Journal while doing diary entries on Day One. However, after some consideration, I decided that the distinction really wasn’t a major problem.

Even with a strict journal – paper journal books, for example – you make entries at different dates and times. You may not make a date or time notation on the entry, but they are still made at varying time intervals. I realized that I could actually use a journal – Day One’s file structure – even if it had a diary-type entries. I just look at the flow of the entries and ignore the exact date and time that they were recorded.

So with that, my current Day One structure is one ‘journal’ for the current year, not surprisingly named “2024.” Then, I also have ‘journals’ named “photography” and “impressions.”

In the first, I jot down notes of ideas for future subjects for photography, possible locations that I might like to visit, or photos of someone else’s photography layout that I admire and may someday try to replicate.

In the second, I keep random notes of how I’m feeling about a particular subject, a memory that might come to mind, or other “stream of consciousness” types of notations. Again, the fact that Day One assigns a date and time to the particular entry is of no consequence when I simply read through them.

On This Day
One of the features that I like best about Day One is called “On This Day.” By clicking on that filter, you are automatically presented with all previous entries made on the current date in past years. For example, if I were to click on On This Day on September 18, I would be presented with a list of all entries I had made on September 18 – including those from the photography and impressions folders – in previous years.

This is a great feature for reviewing what you might have been doing on a particular day in previous years, how you were feeling, and what your expectations might have been.

All Devices
Of course, by having entries stored in a cloud – Day One uses its own cloud server – I can make entries from any of my devices: iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad or even my Apple Watch. I found that extremely handy when I want to be sure to capture a bit of information.

Additionally, because of the GPS built into phones and available through Wi-Fi, each entry is tagged with the location. And with that, the weather conditions at the location at the time of entry is also appended to the entry.

Do you keep a journal or diary? If so, how long have you kept one and what do you see as the benefits and/or drawbacks. Let me know in the comments.


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