I’m a sucker for a good zombie or end of the world story. I’ve recently been picking up some of the cheap kindle books. They average $1-$2 so I’m not heartbroken if they suck. If you’re a fan of the zombie/end of the world genre check out The Purge of Babylon and The Gates of Byzantium by Sam Sisavath. And if you have Amazon Prime then you don’t have to even buy them since they’re free with Prime.
The characters are relatable and his writing style is descriptive enough that I can build the scenes in my head and kind of see what the characters are seeing. For me, it’s a fine line to walk between the author having just enough detail to do that and too much to overwhelm. There is a 3rd book in the works that should be released in the next few weeks. Check out his site for updates on that.
I hardly ever do product reviews on my blog. Usually I’m just happy that whatever latest tech I bought works half as well as advertised. Well, I can honestly say that my new home stereo setup has not only met my expectations but completely exceeded them!
I’ve always wanted a multi room(zone) system. Something that I could listen to in the kitchen or my work room without blasting in the living room. Enter Sonos. I’ve been researching systems on and off for, literally, years. Nothing ever did exactly what I wanted it to do. There are a number of mult-zone home theater systems out there. But they all require running wires and then fiddling with the receiver to get the right rooms the right music.
Sonos simplifies that with their line of wireless speakers. I started out with one Play:1 and a bridge (you only need the speaker but it has to be connected to your home router. With the bridge I can move the speaker anywhere in my house and connect 31(!) other devices). The speaker itself is pretty hefty. It feels very solid and can be placed on a bookshelf or attached to the wall. All the Sonos devices use “SonosNet” which is an AES encrypted mesh network. Adding a device is really simple. You plug in the bridge, plug in the speaker and then open either the Android or Iphone app and click “Add Sonos Component” and then you push a button on the new device. That’s it.
Another great thing about the setup is the ability to put speakers in different rooms and control them independently or put them in “Party Mode” and play the same thing on every speaker. All the group control and volume controls are done from the Android App. You can also “pair” speakers to create a surround sound system through the app. There’s more info on that and how the Sonos software actually adjusts the sound to give surround sound. Here’s a screen shot of my two speakers and how I have them setup. In the kitchen I was listening to 12 Stones from my own mp3 collection while SiriusXM was playing in the living room.
I decided that I wanted to hear the Snoop Dog song that was playing on SiriusXM so I turned the Kitchen and Living Room into a single group aka “Party Mode”
And just like that I was doing my best Michael Bolton impression of Gin and Juice!
There are so many options you can pick from to stream music. I currently have SiriusXM Sat radio, iHeartRadio, Amazon Cloud Player, and my entire mp3 music collection which lives on a Synology NAS. The only downside is that in order to pick up my mp3’s I had to turn on the protocol that Windows uses for network shares but the NAS I have supports it so it was just checking a box to enable. I have ~50gb of music and it was indexed in a couple of minutes and available to play. Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I start the app. There are probably 40-50 other options to stream from.
I’m really, really happy with what I have so far. The plan is to add a Play:5 to the living room and move the Play:1 currently there into my bedroom (I didn’t mention that you can set alarms through the app and use the system as an alarm clock) and then get one more Play:1 for my work room and possibly an outdoor speaker if they come out with one. Now, if Sonos can integrate with ifttt like my home security system I will be in home automation heaven!
I haven’t posted any quotes in a while and this is one of my favorites.
An emotion is only an emotion.
It’s just a small part of your whole being.
You are much more than your emotion.
An emotion comes, stays for a while, and goes away, just like a storm.
If you’re aware of that, you won’t be afraid of your emotions.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Also, if you haven’t checked out my photo site lately head on over. SmugMug pushed an update which is basically an entire redesign of the site. I’ve made some changes to it which I’m not sure I like, but it’s something different.
I’m finally fed up with having to restart Firefox every day because it eats all the memory on my machines so I’m switching to Chrome full time. This is just a test of the WordPress addon.
I’ve written before about dealing with Depression and finally admitting to myself that I needed help. It took a while after all of that for something to actually make me want to get help. I realized that I didn’t want to feel like this anymore and because of the meds I had a glimpse into what could be.
Talk therapy in conjunction with medication has really done wonders for me. I started seeing a therapist at the end of February and was doing 2 sessions a week because I was motivated to find a balance in life and I knew that if I didn’t find that balance that I wouldn’t be able to keep going for much longer. Things had gotten that bad for me. I was reading an old post of mine and I described the way I felt at the time as a pit surrounded by 4 walls and ahead of me was a dark tunnel that I couldn’t see the end of no matter how long I walked. I’m starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m magically cured or have a sunny outlook on things all the time. What it means is that while the negative thoughts are still there I now know how to deal with them, by using one of the tenants of Buddhism called mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and not worrying about things coming in the future. The best example I can give is one by Thich Nhat Hanh:
“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”
It really does seem stupidly easy, doesn’t it? Try it. Try focusing on a single task that you’re doing. Focus on it but at the same time realize when your mind starts to wander to something else. Acknowledge that new thought and then re-focus on the task at hand. For me, this is a very difficult task because I’m so used to rushing through what I have to do to get to something that I enjoy doing. I was living my life kind of like Adam Sandler in the movie “Click”. Fast fowarding through all the mundane to get to the good. But when I didn’t have anything good to look forward to the depression took over.
Using mindfulness I now focus on what I’m doing at that moment and my mind does drift but I’m able to catch that wander, acknowledge it with no judgement (I tend to beat myself up quite a bit if I fail at something or don’t live up to my own expectations) using this method of non-judgemental acknowledgement I simply smile at the wandering thought and move back to the task at hand.
For those of you that know me you maybe thinking I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have, or maybe I’ve become who I’m supposed to be. I’ll write more on Buddhism later but I’ll wrap this up with another quote:
“Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to become a Buddhist; use it to become a better person.” – The Dali Lama
I’ve literally got 5 drafts saved as a follow up to my “Serious Post“. None of them feel right just yet. Maybe if I combine them all I’d have something…Anyway, this is just a quick update on how I’ve been feeling since then. In a word, Great. I’ve been going to therapy twice a week since the end of February and in that time I’ve really been able to use some Buddhist principles in my everyday life..Things make a lot more sense to me now.
I will write more later but with the new theme in place I wanted to get something out to let those who have been reading that I’m doing better.
Trying something a bit different with the blog theme..Some things may be broken/missing as I get the kinks worked out.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Martin Luther King Jr.
A lot of things going on around me have been weighing me down. I feel like a tipping point will be reached sooner rather than later and that decisions will have to be made, sides will have to be chosen and lines will have to be drawn.
I really, really hope I’m wrong.
I stopped making resolutions years ago simply because I never followed through with them. The last several years have progressively gotten worse for me, mostly due to my own actions and inactions.
The latest shooting in CT has brought to the forefront something that I’ve dealt with for years, mental health. More appropriately the stigma associated with mental health. The idea that someone is weak because they deal with depression, PTSD or any other mental health issue. I want that stigma gone so and sitting on the sidelines for most of my life hasn’t helped so if I want the game to change then I need to have some skin in it.
I want to put a warning here for those dealing with depression or any other mental related issues that what follows could be triggering..I also want to stress that what follows might be difficult for some to read.