Water Recreation for Digital Detox

I get time off from my job at the library and I always make sure that I use my holidays each year. While I do love my job, I also really love to get away from the screens and take part in some water recreation at least once a year, ideally twice. When vacation time beckons, I am thrilled. I get out the snorkelling gear – the mask, the fins, the wetsuit – and I am ready to go. While I love taking my gear to Hawaii, Tahiti or the Bahamas, just about any of the coral reefs closer to home are equally as exciting and relaxing. I am always keen to add to my collection of underwater photos.

Why do I enjoy water recreation so much? It’s the perfect chance for me to unwind and get in some quality “digital detox” time. For those of you who haven’t heard of this concept before, it’s a pretty simple one. Taking a digital detox is all about locking away all of the devices – laptops, tablets, cell phones and living without these items for a period of time, so that your brain has time to unwind and process things rather than being under constant stimulation.

So, how do I choose to go about my digital detox? Simple. I leave all of my technology, apart from my camera, at home and head off somewhere with a nice beach and some great snorkelling.

I don’t mind if it’s only a long weekend, but ideally it’s a week or two when I go – and then I can take all of my gear.

Rather than just relying on the snorkelling options that are closest to the beach, I have a fishing kayak that I take with me on the longer trips to get further away from the shore. Sometimes, I use it for fishing and other times it’s just a method of transport to get me to the better snorkelling locations.

Armed with my camera, I spend long days out on and in the ocean, taking in all of the beautiful scenery and snapping away both above and under the water, always chasing that perfect photo for my wallpaper on the computer back at work.

Time away from the screens during the digital detox makes you miss them a bit, but it really helps you to focus back on the present, the “here and now” as Huxley referred to it in “The Island”, and it usually comes with the added benefit of having some great mental breakthroughs with problems that might have been kicking around your mind for some time that you just haven’t been able to solve.

Long days in the sun exploring the world above and beneath the water can be tiring, but strangely I find that having a lot of time to myself to think, reflect and just be present actually allows me to recharge my energy and when I return back home and go back to work, I’m actually a lot more focussed and productive for the first period as I power through all of the new ideas that have come from my time on the ocean and fix so many of the things that I came up with ingenious solutions to while I was “in my element”, so to speak.


Yes, I Cosplay

I fancy myself as more than a computer nerd. I am a total tech nerd, a dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast of anything mechanical and challenging. I seek to learn new skills and acquire new pastimes. This does not rule out something as far-fetched as a sewing machine. Why? I will tell you. I had the occasion to fashion some costumes for a convention, and how else was I to execute the job? For some reason, I did not want to purchase the costume of choice and I thought that as long as I was making one, I could do more.

Shirts, skirts, pants, belts, capes, and collars: are all fodder for enormous amounts of sewing fun. The more intricate the details, the better. The more whimsical, the more to master. There are head pieces, vests, gloves, and epaulets. There is no end to creativity in this regard. Plus, think of the cost of just one of these costumes at times up to a whopping two hundred dollars.

You might say that yes, I cosplay. I can make anything from the Last Naruto to Kick Ass Hit Girl or Kylo Ren. Nothing surpasses my will and determination. A coworker actually got me into this mania and showed me the basics of a standard sewing machine. From there, I went home instantly and started doing some research and read sewing machine reviews until I found the machine that would suit me perfectly. I purchased a top rated model with computerized stitching and multiple function parts. I can change the needle size and type of “foot” in a flash. It can handle leather, heavy fabrics, plastic, and more. It can embroider and applique with a flip of a switch.

You learn fast how to make covered buttons and add piping or parallel stripes to a sleeve. You know the meaning of braiding and trimming. Your eyes feast on fabulous textured fabrics and gleaming colors. It is an endeavor beyond compare.

Yes, I Cosplay and will continue to do so for some time to come. I may opt for a hooded mask down the road, a faux leather holster, or a fabulous cloak. Then there are boot covers to make you show your merits. Can I make mesh armor? Maybe not, but I can whip up trousers galore. A flak jacket is no stumbling block, nor is a forehead protector. A poncho or women’s robe is to amaze. Give me new options at every turn and I shall never wear the same costume twice.

I am also willing to go to the ropes for kids. Their smaller size isn’t a problem. It is all about quality work. I may even upgrade my current machine if this mania lasts. I have a good one, but you can always do better. There are more twists and turns in the sewing trade – there is so much more to accomplish. It is all about having an eagle eye and being patient enough to prevail. When you rush, things get tangled up and become a mess of reconstruction. It pays to learn the craft well and apply it slowly and painstakingly at first. In the long run, you will be a master.

High Tech Packs

There is more to being a computer nerd than having the latest, greatest model of anything in the tech world (but it is certainly important). There is more to having the best smart phone and dozens of apps. And finally, there is more to a table, and iPod, or a Kindle. These are all wonderful technological gadgets that have recently blessed mankind, and they bring great joy, but you have to be able to tote them around in style. Hence today’s blog topic of the ubiquitous backpack. How to look cool while you carry your objects of wonder.

For my job in the library, I am lost without my requisite gear. It is part and parcel of my lifestyle before and after work. I am never without the whole contingency. I never leave stuff at work lest it disappear in no time flat. You never know when an intruder will invade your space. It has happened to more than one unlucky soul. After all, a library is a public institution. Furthermore, expensive tech objects are wanted by everyone. Some just go the easy route. Thus, I have availed myself of a cool backpack that has more compartments than a passenger train. I can fit books, phones, laptops, tablets, and a Kindle within its cozy confines. I can store my lunch, wallet, eyeglasses, and DVDs. It protects everything and makes items super easy to sort and find. There is never a question of things piled on top of one another in carrier mayhem.

I suppose people in the IT world are more organized than most. They feel they need to be. And they are certainly nerdier than most. It is important to them to have things just right and within easy reach. It is probably more important how things are housed than how the tote bag actually looks. But not me. I selected a super stylish backpack model that is surely coveted by nerd and non-nerd alike. It is black leather with the requisite straps, but it also has strategic rivets for a Mr. Cool appeal. It has zippered pouches on the exterior and they are for more than pure style. In goes some documents I will need to retrieve shortly.

The inside is a marvel of organizational engineering. I couldn’t have done it better myself. Each compartment is the right size for its passenger. A lot of thought went into the backpack’s design. Each compartment is also lined to prevent scratching and marring of precious surfaces. This backpack of mine is a marvel of form follows function, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other model. It cost me a bundle and is meant for the long term. Meanwhile, it performs its duties well as a high tech design. I will not reveal the origin or name of this item beyond compare should anyone want this special, prized look. I prefer it remain anonymous so I can be unique and privileged. I say that with tongue in cheek, but frankly, I mean it.

I felt like Norm Abram

We can’t all be like Norm Abram of This Old House, but we can do some handyman work from time to time given the need and opportunity. In view of the cost of renovation and remodeling, we should all be so lucky as to have the skill to do any improvements all. It can save a bundle and be fun at the same time. It could be for yourself or for friends and family. No doubt if you help them out they will return the favor in kind. There is always something that breaks down, erodes, goes bad, or otherwise needs attention and help.

Recently, a patron of the library where I work was looking up do-it-yourself books on home bathrooms. Now that is a thankless job I thought. Putting in a new toilet or faucet is tough work and meant for a plumber. What could he be thinking? I asked him what was up. He replied that the shower needed new tile, that was all, and did I know how to do it. He was bound and determined to execute this self-appointed task.

I gave it some thought before answering. YouTube! The source and knowledge font of all of life’s most vital information. The modern encyclopedia. Why not? We sat down together in a special reading room and I pulled out my trusty laptop. I was able, with some quick searching, to find numerous videos on choosing and installing bathroom tile. You simply had to select what you wanted and have the right tools to cut it to size. Grouting is pretty standard, but you can choose the width and the color. It seemed eminently doable to me. He was also keen to replace a few of the fixtures in there, so we started reading reviews online and stumbled across a funnily named site called “Rate My Toilet” that helped with picking the right one for his space.

We were both destined to add to our handymen resumes. I wasn’t sure about the patron, but I was game for some remodeling action. I agreed to lend a hand if necessary. Maybe he would turn out to be a pro after all and get my own dated washroom in better shape. The tile in my shower was beyond repair. It would take more than a dousing of bleach to fix it up.

After viewing a couple of hours of these DIY videos, the two of us were primed for action. I also helped the patron find some appropriate tiles on the Internet that were readily available in a store nearby. We ordered by email since this fellow had done all the measurements. There was a customer service button so you could ask questions and get help. How easy was that!

The tile purchased, the patron returned to the library to show me the goods a few days later. To signal approval, I nodded and asked him about the pending installation date. How about now, he quipped. Yes, how about now, I piped in. Norm Abram to the rescue. We trotted over to his house a block and a half away, and upon entering I spied a set of pretty impressive tools. He had designated a space in the garage for cutting and trimming, but the grout was on hand in the bathroom for final detailing.

The job went well I have to admit and I am on board with remodeling any time. Don’t take me away from the library during working hours, however, as my boss was not impressed.

The Dark Side of Breakfast

A good breakfast is the best way to start the day. I am talking about the work day since weekends I sleep in. My job at the library starts promptly at 8:00 am, so I am up and at it at 6:30 to get ready. I give time for the normal preparations, a bite to eat, and some travel time. It is my routine and it works for me.

So what is a good breakfast to a techie nerd? It is the same as for anyone else I suppose. You have an egg or two on a piece of toast, a glass of orange juice, some oatmeal if you are super starving, and some bacon if you have the inclination to open the microwave (it gets the best no-mess results). Pancakes are for dawdlers. Who has time to whip up batter and mold it into coin-like shapes? Not me. Plus syrup is fattening.

I often watch some of my favorite videos while I am eating, and Star Wars comes on strong for me in the early hours. I can’t get enough of it like those guys on the Big Bang Theory. A well-chosen DVD wakes me up and gives me inspiration for the day. I don’t like to waste time. I have to be doing something whether it be text messaging, answering emails, making calls, or searching online. I feel that productivity in life is important – no matter where you are. I could watch Stars Wars, any movie in the series, forever. Fortunately, there are many from which to choose.

You also have to have a bit of fun from time to time, and I have been known to have a sense of humor. Some might even say it is a bit odd. Oh, well. Let me tell you one recent antic of mine that pertains to breakfast and also Star Wars: two for the price of one! I was in the Home Goods store looking for dishes, no big deal, when I spotted a table of amazing toasters. I was nonplussed. These were no ordinary gadgets. I had one of those already to go with the bread maker that I’d researched here. No, these were super special. I bought one and dragged it home. Where on earth do you find such things, I thought to myself? Not just any emporium to be sure.

I had to show someone so I invited my sister over for breakfast the next day. I thought that this would be safe enough and I would be free from colleague abuse if things went wrong. I started to fry the eggs while I surreptitiously eyed the toaster, knowing it would soon be put into action. I got out my new plates, set the table, and poured the hot coffee. Bing went the toaster and up popped two ridiculous pieces of browned bread. My sister was aghast. I put them on the plate with the eggs on the side so the imagery was visible. It was Darth Vader himself burned into the bread. I am not kidding.