Life After Cancer

I’ve been following Federico Viticci’s site MacStories for a while now. He posts some really great in-depth and thoughtful reviews and articles. I was really blown away by his recent article about “Life After Cancer.” I don’t know much about him personally, and I had no idea that he’d had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is the same kind of cancer that killed my brother Pat.

Reading about his treatment, it sounds like some serious advances have been made in the last ten years, which makes me wonder if Pat would have survived if he’s gotten Hodgkin’s today rather than ten years ago. (Or maybe Federico’s case was just different from Pat’s.) There’s probably not much point in speculating.

All of his notes on the various health-related apps he’s using are quite interesting. I’m pretty well satisfied with the weight-loss app I’m currently using, LoseIt. And I use RunKeeper to track my exercise (what little I do). I’m kind of interested in the sleep-tracking app he uses, Pillow. I’d never heard of it before. I’ve been sleeping pretty well lately, I think, but I have had problems with insomnia in the recent past.

Are you ready for some football?

With the Super Bowl coming up tomorrow, now seems like a good time to talk about football for a bit. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but I completely lost interest in football this season. I haven’t watched a single game. My interest has been waning for the last several years, but this year, I just couldn’t muster any interest.

I read a good article yesterday about cultivated disinterest in professional sports, and I can say that’s not the case for me. I’ve always been genuinely interested in football, at least, if not any other pro sports. I’m a nerd, but I’m not a snob. (At least in this area.) But the article reminded me of some of the benefits of keeping up with football. In particular, having something to talk to other people about! I’ve been at my current job for two years now, and I really haven’t done a great job of making friends with the people there. That’s maybe a subject for another blog post, but let’s just say that maybe wearing a Giants shirt to work occasionally might have helped start a few conversations.

I still haven’t decided if I’m going to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow or not. I don’t have much invested in it, obviously, since I haven’t followed the game this season, but I still dislike Bill Belichick and would enjoy watching him lose. And it’s pretty easy to think of Pete Carroll as a good guy, and root for him. (Though things probably aren’t that black and white.) So, I could probably watch the game with at least a modicum of emotional investment.

I’m also thinking about my Mom and my brother Pat this weekend, too, since Feb 1 is the day Mom died, and Feb 2 is the day Pat died. I know that I tend to get depressed on these two days, so I had a rough plan for this weekend in place. I’m taking Monday off, and I was going to head into NYC on Sunday and/or Monday and do some museum-hopping, which usually acts as a good distraction for me when I’m feeling down. But now it’s looking like snow Sunday night into Monday, and maybe a lot of it. So I’m thinking it might be better to stay home and watch some football on Sunday.

ScanCafe and Flickr – Mom’s photos

With all the work I’ve been doing this weekend to consolidate notes into Evernote and clean up my GTD lists, a few neglected projects have jumped out at me. A big one was my project to scan in all my Dad’s slides and negatives and get them up on Flickr. I started this back in 2010. I got everything scanned in by ScanCafe by mid-2011, in six batches. By mid-2012, I’d gotten five out of those six batches uploaded to Flickr, but I never quite got around to uploading that last batch. Well, I sat down and took care of it today. It’s all in a collection named “Mom’s Negatives Apr 2011“. The first five batches were all basically Dad’s photos. This one was Mom’s. Mom never really took that many photos, and most of these are pretty old. I know who some of the people in these photos are, but some of them are a complete mystery to me. Either way, there are a handful of interesting photos in the batch.

The next part of the project is going to be gathering up all the actual negatives and slides and consolidating those into a plastic bin and moving it into my storage unit. Or maybe just throwing them all out. I don’t know. But, right now, they’re all still in the boxes I got back from ScanCafe, piled up in a closet, which isn’t really a useful way to store them.

And the other part of this project, which I’ve done absolutely nothing on, is to take my Mom’s old home movies and get those scanned in and converted to digital files. Or just toss them out. Either way, I really need to do something about them, since they’re currently piled up under my kitchen table, with a bunch of other stuff that really doesn’t belong under the kitchen table.

Thanksgiving weekend

I spent Thanksgiving day with a friend’s family. It was a good day, but pretty loud and chaotic, which is to be expected when you put sixteen people (including three small children) together in a house on Thanksgiving.

I spent Black Friday home alone, working on some personal organization. I almost managed to update the map on my TomTom GPS, but hit a snag when the new map was too large to copy to the device. That led me on a wild goose chase that ended when I found a notice on the TomTom site that said they were aware of the problem and working on a solution. But it was a fair amount of wasted time. (I’d thought, at one point, that maybe they’d purposely made the new map file just a little too large, to force people with older devices to upgrade to newer ones, but apparently it was an honest mistake.)

I also continued my work on getting stuff out of Backpack and into Evernote. I’m almost done there, and I should be able to close down the Backpack account soon. I’m getting enough stuff into Evernote now that I’m starting to think about how I’m organizing things, and what kind of adjustments I should make. I read the book Evernote Essentials yesterday, and also listened to a podcast with a lot of Evernote tips, so I could hopefully stimulate my brain a bit and come up with some good ideas on how to best use Evernote. I found both the book and the podcast helpful, though there weren’t any earth-shattering revelations in either of them.

I had a page in Backpack titled “GTD”, and I was using it to keep, basically, GTD-related lists, like a “someday/maybe” list, a “waiting for” list, project lists, and stuff like that. But I stopped doing anything resembling a weekly review quite some time ago, and I haven’t really been keeping up the lists. So, for instance, one list item was to use a $10 Best Buy Reward Zone certificate before it expired… in 2011. So I’m not entirely sure how best to clean up and re-structure those lists in such a way that I’ll be more likely to use them.

I really like the general idea of consolidating as much stuff as I can in Evernote, and cutting down on complexity a lot, eliminating OneNote, Backpack,  DevonThink, and whatever else I can. But I also noticed that Things for iPhone and iPad is free this weekend, and the Mac version is 30% off. So maybe keeping my GTD stuff in Things would be a good idea, while using Evernote for reference material and archives. But Things doesn’t have a PC version, or a web version, so I’d only be able to access it on the Mac and iOS. Which probably isn’t really a problem, given the way I’m using my computers these days. (Also, “Things” is a horrible product name, and tends to produce a lot of irrelevant (but amusing) results when Googled.) I’ve already downloaded the iPhone and iPad versions, and have played around a bit, and like what I see. I’m planning on downloading the trial version of the Mac software today, so I can see if it’s going to work for me or not.

Meanwhile, I just ordered two 500GB Samsung SSDs, for $189 each, with the general idea of replacing the old-fashioned drives in my MacBook and ThinkPad. I’ve been meaning to do this for some time now, and I kept putting it off. But I keep hearing, over and over, from friends and random internet sources, about how much difference an SSD will make, so I finally had to go ahead and do it. So next weekend’s project will likely be replacing either the MacBook or ThinkPad drive. Or possibly both, if I have enough time.

I’m also thinking about going to NYC to see The Imitation Game, the new movie about Alan Turing. I don’t think I’ll talk myself into doing that today, given how cold it is outside right now. But maybe tomorrow, if it’s a little warmer.

Father’s Day

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a re-post of a quote from How Green Was My Valley, that I originally posted a few years back:

There is no fence nor hedge around time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it, if you can remember. So I can close my eyes on my valley as it is today, and it is gone, and I see it as it was when I was a boy. Green it was, and possessed of the plenty of the Earth. In all Wales, there was none so beautiful. Everything I ever learned as a small boy came from my father and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday.

almost done

I just got back from my parents’ old house in Whiting. I threw out three bags full of stuff, and carted away four plastic tubs full of random stuff, three of which came home with me and one of which has been dropped off at my storage unit in Bridgewater. The house is now as empty as I hope it needs to be. The closing, as far as I know, is still scheduled for Wednesday. I think I still need to make one more trip to Whiting, to drop off my keys and some paperwork at the Cedar Glen Lakes office, but I don’t think I’ll need to go back to the house again. It feels weird, after having it on the market for two years, to finally be (almost) done with it.

Mom & Pat

Mom & Pat by andyhuey
Mom & Pat, a photo by andyhuey on Flickr.

I just finished uploading some more of Dad’s old photos. The ones I uploaded today were scanned in by ScanCafe back in December 2010. Here’s a nice photo of Mom & Pat, from Pat’s graduation from TCNJ. I still have one more DVD from ScanCafe to copy to my computer & upload, then I think I’m finally done with this project that I started back in early 2010. (Of course, the next project is to digitize the old Buxton family home movies I found in the attic when I was cleaning it out.)

Mom passed away on Feb 1 2010, and Pat passed away on Feb 2 2004, so I spent some time thinking of them both this past week.