Video Monday, 27 November 2023 22:32:30 EST

Hi, this is Mark Turner. I have created a method of updating my WordPress blog using only video. It’ll actually post my video and transcribe the video for text-based users.

I hope that you find it useful, I hope that you don’t find it annoying, and regardless of what side you fall on, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for watching (and reading)!

Effortless day

Today felt like an effortless day. I’ve been on a winning streak basically since I woke up. Right after I got out of bed, something told me that today would be somehow different, better. It did not disappoint.

I had a great night of sleep with lots of dreaming. Then when I awoke, I opted to skip my usual PT or workout and just eat breakfast. Then it was off to work as usual. I got in and immediately got going on some challenging work I’ve been figuring out over the past week or so. Without much thinking about them, the answers came to me and I did exactly what I needed to do to solve them.

I came home and finished up my work day, then turned my attention to a personal software project that had been hanging around. For months I’d been trying to get this software to work. When I couldn’t figure out I’d shelve it for a few months and there it languished. Tonight, I zeroed in on the issue and had it working for the first time in probably a year. Again, didn’t think about it – just did it.

I’ve felt great all day and my mind has been working very well. I don’t know what it takes to maintain this kind of effortless living but I’ll sure take it any day!

Old-fashioned management is failing to reverse the productivity slump. It’s time to ‘grownupify’ work | Fortune

This is spot on. If you don’t trust your team to do its work remotely, you don’t trust your team.

We’ve created an endless spiral of elementary school practices at work. We monitor employees by hours or keystrokes or lines of code. They then “produce” to meet the expected hours or keystrokes or lines of code. And the cycle continues, with employers trying to continually up the target. This makes sense on the surface–but to employees who are already burnt out, it becomes another game of checking boxes rather than a commitment to doing more, better work.

Source: Old-fashioned management is failing to reverse the productivity slump. It’s time to ‘grownupify’ work | Fortune

2022 Challenges: Twitter quitter

I am not the biggest social media user but I am also no slouch. I am proud that MarkTurner.Net predates Google and nearly every other commercial social media site still around. I wasn’t the very first to use Twitter but I was one of the first. I joined in 2008 back when it was a bumpy ride of a place with frequent failures. As it grew and I was astonished to see that actual revolutions were being built around tools like Twitter, I became hooked. I could follow the accounts of notable people and get the facts straight from them. I could turn to Twitter whenever something important was happening in the world as there were bound to always be a play-by-play available from somebody there. I built up a whole list of people I followed and a much smaller list of people who followed me. It was amusing, educational, and community-building.

Then Elon Musk showed up. In a fit of insanity, he bid for the company and then desperately tried to back out of the deal. Finally, he took the helm, fired all the people who knew how to run it, let the Nazis and traitors back on the platform, and promptly made other erratic decisions that not only killed off any trust anyone had in the platform and community but also killed Musk’s reputation as a supposed genius. As a result, Twitter was cripped with outages and failures, loyal users were alienated, and the stock of Tesla (which was used as collateral for the Twitter purchase), swiftly tanked. Musk ended the year as the person who had lost more money than anyone else in history.

What to do about my account and it’s 16,000 posts? I didn’t see many viable alternatives to Twitter. There is Mastodon, though it is quirky enough to keep people from adopting it. I could stay put at Twitter, but I really don’t want to offer any support to Musk’s right-wing Twitter adventure.

I made the decision to stop updating my Twitter account and move to the Fediverse (where Mastodon is the most popular platform). I joined a few Mastodon servers (the first in November 2017), before deciding I’d set up my own server using a Mastodon cousin, Pleroma. I have my full Twitter archive downloaded and could easily add it to my “toots” or posts, but for now I prefer to be starting off from scratch. Though I no longer update it, I will keep my Twitter account alive to tune in every now and then on the chaos over there. I will also use my developer account to mirror some interesting Twitter accounts over to my Pleroma account. That way I can continue to follow the accounts I enjoy following while not having to log into Twitter to do so.

Mastodon/Pleroma and the Fediverse aren’t perfect, certainly. But I was a Twitter user back with Twitter was still shaky. I have confidence that the Mastodon/Fediverse community will work to figure things out my experience will continually get better.

It helps that there are no Nazis.

Quiet house

The kids have been home from college for the last few weeks on their holiday breaks. It has been wonderful having them home again, with lots of catching up, games, hikes, jokes, and just hanging out. I know how my parents felt when I returned home back in my college/military days. There’s a special comfort knowing they’re close by. I would walk by their doors in the morning (and sometimes the afternoon), smiling at the knowledge that they were home.

The past few days have been tougher, sending them back to their studies. Hallie packed and left on Friday, bound not for Chapel Hill but for a semester interning in DC. She’s excited to be starting a new adventure and Kelly and I are both excited for her and proud of her.

We had most of the rest of the weekend with Travis, though he also packed up this morning and I drove him at 10 AM to meet his carpool buddy for the trip back to Asheville. He is doing well in his studies and the interests he has picked up.

Now it’s just Kelly, me, and the dogs, and the quiet is settling in. I’ll miss the lights left on, the dishes strewn around the kitchen, the constant loads of laundry, and even the late night kitchen raids. Those things that once annoyed me now bring me comfort. It’s a reminder of the routine we’ve had for so long.

I know our jobs as parents are to get them out on their own, and we’re mighty damn close to having done that. Yet it’s still good to be remembered and to feel needed. I guess the beauty in the building of self-sufficiency is when they come back even when they don’t really have to. I’m already looking forward to our future visits.

2022 Celebrations: Sharing the spooky side

Some of you may know this about me, but I have had lots of experiences in my life that cannot be explained by mainstream science. I have mentioned before how I’ve learned remote viewing but I haven’t talked much about my UFO and ET experiences here. 2022 was the year that I finally shared many of these stories with others. I decided “fuck it,” they really happened to me and I couldn’t possibly bear possibly getting hit by a bus someday and not having shared these with anyone. Not that I’m ready for any buses to come careening towards me, mind you. I joined an Experiencer group called CERO this year that consists of people like me who have had an ET experience (a.k.a. “Experiencers”). Much of my memories of those events has been vetted by others who have had similar experiences. I’ve also been happy to help fill in the blanks for others by adding my experiences and thoughts.

ET experience is still one of the very most taboo subjects. When it happens to you, you can feel like the only one on the planet who’s had this experience. Not only do you feel incredibly lonely to find yourself the sole human in a roomful of aliens, you are lonely afterward because you don’t have anyone you can tell about it. Finding people who can relate is a huge, huge blessing because otherwise you can think you’re going nuts.

I felt comfortable enough to go on podcasts with some of my experiences, such as Cameron Logan’s “This is my Alien Life” podcast and my friend Nicolle Morrock’s P.E.E.P. podcast (episode 46). I also sat down in November for a video interview with Bill Howard for his upcoming documentary on Experiencers. We spoke for nearly two hours! Those who have seen the teaser clips have praised me for my candor and humor about it. I really look forward to the release of the whole documentary, coming to the Reveel streaming service soon.

Did it happen? Yes. Will some of y’all think I’m nuts? Yes. Do I care? Not in the least. I call ’em like I see ’em and I am not about to pretend that what happened to me didn’t happen, especially if it’s only to keep people from getting uncomfortable. Do I think I’m special? Sadly, no. You’d honestly be shocked at how many people this happens to. If I’m special, it’s only because I’m one of the few people who:

  1. recognizes it for what it is, and
  2. is comfortable talking about it.

On this note, late last year I published a blog post publicly that had composed eight years prior, couching my alien experience in terms of a dream. You can read it here.

2022 Celebrations: Public Service

Speaking of public speaking, I got the opportunity to dust off some public service skills this year, including public speaking and organizing. Earlier last year, one of my friends currently serving on Raleigh’s Parks Board invited me as a former Board member to join the board’s Fred Fletcher Award committee. I agreed and also brought along my friend Scott Reston. We spent a few Zoom meetings collaborating with other committee members to weigh the contributions of so many of Raleigh’s parks volunteers and make the hard decision on whose work deserves an award. The Fred Fletcher Awards Ceremony was always one of my most favorite events and I was thrilled to help make it happen again. I was beaming when I took the stage on MAy 10th to give a speech honoring my awardees. I didn’t miss a beat and it rekindled nostalgia for my days of civic leadership.

Then this fall, I dusted off my CAC skills with a one-off meeting of the old East CAC. I was approached my my friend and former CAC chair, Lynette Pitt, about getting another East CAC meeting done. There were neighborhood concerns about crime and development which weren’t being addressed. I met with her and another former CAC official to get something planned. In October, we held a meeting at the Lions Park picnic shelter and several dozen folks showed up. We even had free food donated by Brookside Bodega. We heard from the community on what issues need addressing and made plans to meet again to address them. I look forward to working with Lynette to make sure our community needs are addressed.

2022 Celebrations: NC Reading Service

Late in 2021, I was reminded about the North Carolina Reading service (formerly the Triangle Area Reading Service), either in a news story or a friend’s mention. I decided to dust off my speaking skills and get back in there as a volunteer. I got back going in as a fill-in volunteer, and for the first time in ten years I was back behind the microphone in February reading a shift. Since then I’ve gone on to read about a half-dozen times over the year, doing the evening shift and reading USA Today. I have been mostly diligent in saving the resulting recordings off the website, and listening critically to how I sound. This has helped me considerably with my public speaking skills and I feel good about performing a service for the sight-impaired folks in my community. It’s always been fun!

2022 Celebrations: Karaoke

I love to sing. Just love it. And at times I have needed to scratch the itch of public performance that I haven’t been able to get through DNR. So, when I feel up to it, I’ve been going out to the various karaoke shows around town to get my “sing on.” My favorite shows are Steve Scott’s show at the Brickhouse on Hillsborough Street on Friday nights. Steve’s shows have some really good regulars and a crowd that seems to appreciate good singing. Beyond that is Harryoke’s show at the Raleigh Beer Garden on Monday evenings. Another good crowd that appreciates good singing, and Harry has a good selection of songs. I also go to Jacob Sobel’s shows here and there, though his show at Picked Pub in north Raleigh seems to have been handed off to another KJ. So much depends on the audience’s response for me, and there are some venues where my songs or style just don’t click.

For a few weeks this fall, I tried a new show just starting out on Wednesday nights at the Dueling Piano Bar on Glenwood Avenue. It’s a first-rate club with lights, stage smoke, and a decent sound system. The crowd was small but into it, with a lot of good singers. The club had a karaoke contest each week, awarding $100 to the best singer. I competed twice but never won and got frustrated with the process, so I stopped going. I may revisit it later, though.

In Randleman this summer, I drove miles north to a club called Kamikaze’s Tavern just on the edge of Greensboro. It was mostly empty on karaoke night but I blew people away with my performance. Some regulars actually asked me “you mean, you drove all the way to sing here?” Ha! Not quite, but I totally did enjoy performing and I hope to get back there again someday either for karaoke or with my full DNR band.

2022 Celebrations: Empty Nesters!

2022 was the year Kelly and I became empty nesters. We’d gotten Hallie settled at Chapel Hill in 2020 and for a while Travis was a virtual only child at home. In March, he and I went on college tours to UNC Charlotte (taking Amtrak) and to Appalachian State. He liked App more than UNCC but the small class sizes of UNC Asheville appealed the most to him. He graduated Enloe with honors in June, spent the summer working for a short while, and got settled in at UNCA in August. He’s been thriving there! He is delving into engineering classes there, making friends, playing on the school’s ultimate Frisbee team, too. He also makes time for bike rides and learning the banjo in his spare time.

As for Hallie, she spent the spring semester in Montana doing field work in environmental science outside of Glacier national park. In-between sciency stuff, she would go on miles-long hikes in the mountains and camp out. It’s been wonderful watching her love of science blossom, though I think she prefers field work to lab work! After a short break at home, she left in the summer for a semester in Highlands, NC doing more field work. She was studying the effects of stream pollution on the hemlock trees in the area and became an expert on taking core samples. More hiking, camping, and waterfall exploration took place, in addition to road trips to Tennessee to go see bands. Hallie was initially unsure she would like her time in Highlands but was soon loving it and was sad when it came to a close. I don’t doubt there will always be a place in Hallie’s heart for mountains and I love seeing it.

So, how have Kelly and I been using our time as empty nesters? We took a week to stay at a riverside cabin in Randleman, NC back in June. I was jobless by that time but we didn’t let that ruin our break. We paddled on the river, paddleboarded on the local lake, and did lots of hiking in a North Carolina forest I’d never explored before: the Uwharre National Forest. I loved our little trip there and want to explore more of all the parks in North Carolina I have yet to see.

Beyond the Randleman trip, we’ve not done much. The flaw in our Empty Nester plan is that we may not have kids but we do have two dogs. Boarding two dogs for a week turns out to be quite expensive. This tends to put a damper on any spontaneous plans to get up and go somewhere. In fact, last month Kelly took the kids up to visit her parents while I stayed home. Boarding the dogs while I have no income didn’t seem to be a prudent use of our money.