Unplugging the 60 Blog


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Anne Lamott:  Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

When was the last time you took a vacation and unplugged?  Literally unplugged your devices and relied on the sky to tell you if it’s raining, or the front page of USA Today in the hotel lobby to give you the latest political news?

We’ve all sat around “on vacation” and listened to our cell phones chirp.  Emails and texts come in and you feel compelled to answer them right away.  And you can see how quickly connecting to the outside world shatters your calm.  It’s easy to work more efficiently, even during time off.  According to a 2014 TripAdvisor survey, 77 percent of Americans work while on vacation.  (That’s three years ago; I imagine the number has risen since then.)

Increasingly, people are starting to feel the need to disconnect.  In 2017, over 100,000 people participated in an event called National Day of Unplugging, sponsored by Reboot.  Since 2010, the group has encouraged people to turn off digital devices on the first Sabbath in March, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  For more information and to sign up to receive a free cellphone sleeping bag, click here.  National Day of Unplugging 2018

Vacation is a perfect time to start on balancing your relationship with digital devices.  Leslie and I are leaving on vacation shortly, and I’m hoping to unplug for the next week.  Here are some ways we’re going to do that:

Designate someone at home to contact in an emergency.  Beth will be cat-sitting and she’ll be at our house watching football.  (Beth claims that Clooney, Leslie’s cat, likes football.  Whatever, my friend.)

Prepare and inform your employer that you’re not available to be in touch.  We can start practicing with mini-unpluggings on weekends or evenings.

Anticipate the possible boredom and having to talk-to-one-another scenario.  Bring board games and puzzles along with you and be aware that your phones are on vacation too!

Be reasonable and agree to check-in online maybe once or twice a day.

These preparations should allow us to return from vacation more relaxed.  And to return to dozens and dozens of emails.




Friending the 60 Blog

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I’ve got hundreds of Facebook friends I’ve never met.
When I was young, we called them imaginary friends.

Do you get most of your news, family announcements, friend notifications, etc. from Facebook or Twitter?  Or do you rely on the “old-fashioned” methods of the telephone and snail mail?  Are your friends on Facebook really your friends?  I’ve come to use the phrase “Facebook acquaintance” when I’m referring to a comment made by someone I knew in sixth grade, or a story told by the daughter of an ex-co-worker.  They’re people I’m acquainted with and could have an in-person conversation with, if the opportunity arose.  However, it likely will not.

I’m not trying to be cynical here.  It’s just a fact.  We all have “real” friends versus “online” friends, right?  A real friend will follow the ambulance to the hospital when you have a kidney stone.  An online friend will ask “did you feel the earthquake?” (which may have been hundreds of miles away).

A recent article regarding social media poses the following scenario:  You’re skimming your Twitter feed and notice a stream of sad tweets from a college friend. Without a moment’s thought, you send a funny GIF across the digital divide, content that you’ve cheered up your friend and made a positive mark on their day.  On the other hand, you can’t quite remember where they’re living these days, or what they do for work. Did you miss their birthday? Chances are, you pop over to Facebook and check, reassure yourself that you’re caught up on their milestones, then go about your day.  Here’s the dilemma:  are you still friends, even though you haven’t seen each other in years, or spoken in a non-digital medium?  Are all those tools for staying connected actually making you a worse friend?

Human interaction online tends to reflect real-life, centuries-old customs, according to Karen North, professor of digital social media and director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at USC Annenberg School.  “Humans, by nature, have always been social animals,” North explained. “The only difference is that these days, the socializing is being done more online than face to face.”

In this day and age, people are not very likely to care what your source of information is, North noted.  “There’s more of an expectation that people know about major life events because they’ve been announced on large public forums.”  According to North, it used to be that you either heard about something from a friend or didn’t. “It was sort of on the announcer to reach all the groups when something good or bad happens in their life.”

People who’ve opted out of social media often miss these important — and admittedly, sometimes mundane — announcements. “They have to recognize that they are missing out,” North said. This is because these days, the issue is that the people online don’t usually feel obligated to reach out and announce things in any other way after posting about it.

“Social interactions are now valued on two different levels: One is the public, easy response on social media, and the other is the much more valued one: private contact.  The social rules are more complicated these days because we don’t have the real-life social cue to tell us if someone is appreciative of our connections or not,” North said.

Brian Solis, studying digital anthropology, said the possibility of being a so-called “bad friend” for opting to go mainly digital is something people are still adapting to.  “We are getting lazier, and so putting something on a wall is checked off as a personal interaction for most people,” he said. “But we’re learning the hard way, through experience — so there really is no answer to the ‘bad friend’ notion. It’s all user-defined.”

U.S. News and World Report states that Facebook makes users feel both connected and isolated.  There are plenty of well-wishers when your birthday comes around, but how many of those people would you call to hang out with you?

According to a study from Oxford University, “There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome.”  In other words: Your brain can’t handle too many friends. In fact, the average person has about four real ones, regardless of the number listed on their profile.

To reach this conclusion, R.I.M. Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford and author of the study, examined a sample of 3,375 people in the United Kingdom ages 18 to 65. Some used social media regularly, while others did not.

The participants who used social media were asked how many Facebook friends they could depend on during an emotional or social crisis, and the average response – which barely varied between age groups – was four. The average study participant, however, had 150 Facebook friends.  That’s a 2.7 percent rate of true friendship.

Further, “The data show that the size and range of online egocentric social networks, indexed as the number of Facebook friends, is similar to that of offline face-to-face networks,” Dunbar writes in the study.   Translation: People who use Facebook have, on average, the same number of friends as those who don’t.

So maybe we ought to make more calls and pay more visits to the people we love.  After all, there aren’t that many.


Rewinding the 60 Blog

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When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems.  When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities.

Here we are again.  Why does the week go by so quickly?  But if it’s Sunday, it means you get to rewind my blog posts for the past week.  Please share with your friends.

Monday:  Landmarking the 60 Blog

Tuesday:  Listing the 60 Blog

Wednesday:  Cheesing the 60 Blog

Thursday:  Sweetening the 60 Blog

Friday:  Besting the 60 Blog

Don’t forget:  a little more than a week to send me your suggestions for a new name for this blog.  Two lucky winners will be announced after October 2!




Catching the 60 Blog

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If all my friends jumped off a bridge, I wouldn’t jump with them.  I’d be at the bottom waiting to catch those idiots.

Today is a catch-all kind of day.  I’ve been collecting notes and tidbits for a while and I thought I’d share some now.

Months ago, I wrote about my Twitter account.  I don’t post anything, but I do follow several news organizations, celebrities, and some “real” people too.  I’ve been known to check Twitter several times a day, telling myself that I just need to find out “what’s happening in the real world.”  I just really want to catch up on the latest celebrity mishap or watch a new cat video.

Every day, I receive about a dozen sponsored posts from advertisers or people who the Twitter algorithm believes I would be interested in.  I admit, I think in six months, one of those advertisements appealed to me and I started following them.  (I can’t, for the life of me, remember who it was, however.)  But now I’m writing down the ones that are so far from left field, and I wonder how Twitter and the advertiser might think we’d get along.  Here are a few examples:

Dick’s Sporting Goods (sales job opportunity in Henderson, Nevada)
Christus Health (job opportunity for an inpatient coder)
AGT Auditions (“come show us your talent at our auditions near you!”)
JD & The Straight Shot band (who?)
Aklave (“looking for Afrocentric events near you?  We’ve got you covered!”)
Undark magazine (I have no idea!)
Test Card (“a urine test startup”)

Looking at this list, I don’t see one over another that would fit my background any more.  What do you think I’d be interested in?  I’ll share more with you next week.

And finally, I spoke with a vendor this morning who asked for my email address.  I gave it to her, spelling my first initial and last name carefully.  She knew my name, of course, and then asked me this simple question:  “Are you spelling your name with a C?”  Yes, today I am spelling it with a C.  Ask me tomorrow, when I’ll spell my name with a Q.





Naming the 60 Blog

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I do not want my children’s names to ever become a trending hashtag.  I do not want them to fear for their safety every time they leave home.  I do not want them to question their life’s value and significance.

The Class of 2025.

I have a friend whose daughter started fourth grade this week. Carly’s daughter’s name is Emi, which I don’t think is terribly unusual given (a) her half-Japanese heritage and (b) because I’ve known her since she was born.  Emi’s best friend is Gianna, which to me isn’t all that unusual either.

Gianna’s mother posted a photo of Gianna standing in front of a poster board with the names of everyone in her fourth grade class.  Where on earth did some of these names come from?

Now, I don’t have a problem with giving children unusual names or common names with unusual spellings.  (Hello?!)  Some of these names may have familial or religious meaning, yet some just strike me as odd.  What do you think?

Abby, Adilene, Annette, Brian, Clarissa, Darwin, Devon, Dominic, Eric, Erika, Gianna, Koa, Mairin, Marlene, Tatanka, Yosgart

Tatanka is a Lakota word meaning “Big Beast.”  For the Northern Plains People, Tatanka means life.  They relied upon the bison for food, clothing, housing, tools, just to name a few.  Extra trivia? Tatanka Means is a professional actor, comedian and boxer from Chinle, Arizona.  And we remember Kevin Costner and Tatanka in Dances with Wolves.

Yosgart means “a strong need for freedom, physical, mental and spiritual.”  It ranks No. 9180 on the list of boy’s names, down 79% from 2015.  This fourth-grader is possibly named for Yosgart Ernesto Gutiérrez Serna a.k.a. “El Pájaro Loco,” a Mexican goalkeeper.  He currently plays for Necaxa in the Liga MX.

Mairin is an Irish diminutive of Mary.  Looking at the name, I was saying MAY-rin in my mind when it’s actually pronounced MOI-reen or MAW-reen.  Either way, I wonder if she adds the accent marks over the two Is.

Remember these unusual names.  These kids will graduate college in 2029 and could potentially be running for office or taking over Facebook.  What I wouldn’t give to see a U.S. president named Tatanka in or around 2038!



Affiliating the 60 Blog

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I like to surround myself with people who share in my inappropriate comments, sarcasm, and random shenanigans.

It’s been almost a year since I started writing The 60 Blog.  It’s almost like keeping a diary or a journal.  I share some mundane factoid or story that you may enjoy reading and sharing.

When I started writing last year, I thought I might make just a few bucks.  I was told it’s easy to become an Amazon Affiliate.  Sign a few forms and you’re ready to go.  I could link Amazon products on my blog page and, if someone clicks in the product and ends up buying it, I could make an insane amount of money–like ten cents.  I signed up to become an affiliate of Thrive Market too (see Thriving the 60 Blog).  If any of my readers joined their program, I could make a few bucks too.

I knew I’d never strike it rich.  Ten cents here, a few bucks there, and at the end the year, I could have $50 (my most generous estimate).  So I persevered.  I linked things like books, vitamins, organic honey.

And you know what?  Amazon thought I wasn’t getting enough clicks and they cancelled my Affiliate account.  Yes!  I wasn’t giving Amazon any business, so they figured, why keep her on the books in the hopes that we’d pay her ten cents some day?

I still include links in some of my posts, but I never know who or what is clicked.  I have a plug-in built in to my blog program that tells me I have visitors from other countries reading my posts, but I don’t currently know anyone in Italy or Japan.  My goal was to get eyeballs on my blog (along with making some serious green, of course!) and I am doing that.  Little by little.

I need your help.  If you like my anecdotes, tell your friends.  If you disagree with something I have to say, let me know by commenting below.  If you sign up with Word Press and give them your email address (and you only will have to do it once), you’ll get an email each time I post something.  You won’t have to look for me; I’ll just be in your inbox.

As I said, eyeballs are important to me.  I use a program called MissingLettr that recycles my posts and adds them to my Twitter (@nycaryn), Facebook and Google Plus accounts.  A week or two ago, Twitter notified me that I have a new follower.  Someone famous who reads my posts (or, more likely, has someone read them for him).  Ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy Kimmel is a fan!  You’re in good company.

And now for something ironic?  Last week, I received notice that I now have another Twitter follower.  Amazon Affiliates.  Ironic.


Rewinding the 60 Blog

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr.:  The whole cap came off…must’ve been a recap.

In case you missed any of my missives last week, here is a summary of the daily blogs.  Please share with family and friends:

Monday:  Rewriting the 60 Blog

Tuesday:  Hating the 60 Blog

Wednesday:  Laboring the 60 Blog

Thursday:  Internetting the 60 Blog

Friday:  Lugging the 60 Blog

Saturday:  Boxing the 60 Blog

Enjoy your day off, everyone!

Boxing the 60 Blog


Kindness is free.  Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.

I recently read an article about Zachary Gibson, who set out on a mission to place 100 miniature mailboxes in public places around Los Angeles, called the Tiny Mailbox Project.  He wanted to pass along a smile to every stranger who may need one.  An uplifting note is left in the mailbox, along with a few blank cards.  Gibson imagined that people would take a note and leave one for someone else.

When Gibson places a mailbox, he takes a picture of the box and the location.  He then posts the information to Instagram (@thetinymailboxproject) so that people can find their way to the box and share some love.

Gibson is nearing the distribution in Los Angeles, but wants the project to expand.  He states:  “If you want to do it in your city, I’ll send you the resources and all you have to do is buy the mailboxes.”  Click here to purchase the mailboxes for $4.49 each:  Oriental Trading Company.  You can contact Gibson for more information through Instagram by clicking this link:  The Tiny Mailbox Project.

Have you seen these mailboxes in the Los Angeles area?  If so, you’re encouraged to share your experience using the hashtag #thetinymailboxproject.

I love this idea and, frankly, I wish I had thought of it myself.  I know several people who are currently feeling blue and could use a little pick-me-up like this.  What would you do if you were at, say, The Griffith Observatory, and saw one of these little mailboxes sitting on a fire hydrant?  Would you feel compelled to open it and take out a note?  Imagine how great your day would be when you read a note from a stranger?  “You light up the room when you walk in.”  “People love having you around.”  “You make a difference.”

Kindness starts with one person and can spread quickly and lovingly.  Don’t you agree?


Internetting the 60 Blog

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John Podhoretz:  Back in 1995, Bill Gates himself didn’t understand that the internet was the direction computing was going.

Yesterday, back in the dark ages of 1995, “CNN debuts today on the Worldwide Web with its own homepage, accessing thousands of pages of data.”  Doesn’t that sound quaint?  Basic?  Its own homepage?  Was that a thing?

And back in the day, we thought we could shorten Worldwide Web to W3.  I don’t remember that, but I recall what the AOL homepage looked like.  “You’ve Got Mail” is still ingrained in my memory, and I remember how our internet connection was always so slow.  Our first home computer was an Acer, and I’m sure we paid a fortune of money for it.  But it never worked the way we wanted it to work.

The Internet, a book by Kerry Cochrane written in 1995, started with “Who hasn’t heard about the Internet? It’s mentioned on television, in the magazines, and on the radio. Everyone’s talking about it, and everyone wants to get connected to it.”

Today the internet has become an essential part of our lives that we all seem to take for granted.   Who doesn’t get upset when a website doesn’t load within seconds.  Today’s generation has vague memories of life before the Internet, but I still remember doing homework while referencing the World Book Encyclopedia.  Who knew in the 60s and 70s that we would one day have instant references at our fingertips?

The future of online shopping and instant access to much of the world’s knowledge was not a given in 1995.  As Cochrane explains in the introduction to The Internet, everyone was talking about it. But there were plenty of skeptics.  Newsweek printed an article in its February 27, 1995 issue expressing skepticism about this new-fangled contraption:

We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals.  We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations, and negotiate sales contracts.  Stores will become obsolete.  So how come my local mall does more business in one afternoon that the entire Internet handles in a month?  Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet–which there isn’t–the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism:  salespeople.

Despite the skepticism, which was completely warranted when you think about what the Internet looked like in 1995, there were people who were futuristically explaining what the internet had to offer.  And what was written above has absolutely been proven true.

The Internet briefly explains the basics of 1995 email and how to find your way around the internet.  The last chapter, titled “Fun Places on the Internet,” is like a bizarre time capsule of the Internet’s baby pictures. Because even though the Internet’s “birth” can be traced to the first host-to-host connection at UCLA in 1969, the mid-1990s was really when the Internet went mainstream.

Some of the “Fun Places” shown in the book were expected, like an early e-card site and the Smithsonian home page, while others were a bit strange, like a random elementary school in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.

Do you remember the very first website you visited when you got on the information super-highway?  Back then, I was hard-pressed to think of anything to look for, and decided to type in colgate.com.  Why not read about my toothpaste?  At that time, we didn’t know what to expect once you got to a webpage, right?

And now, of course, we have little computers in our hands that can do everything we did in 1995 times infinity.  Mark your calendars:  the next generation of iPhone comes out in a few weeks.