As the new year quickly approaches, I have found myself thinking about my triumphs and mistakes of the past year. It is always an interesting experience to look at your own life and make assessments on where things could have been done differently, but it is never fun to regret chances that were squandered. Looking over the past year I can honestly say that I am not dissatisfied with any of the decisions I made, however I can see areas in which more planning should have been taken into effect. The year 2015 was a year of “safety” for me, I really didn’t take as many risks as I usually do, and I found this year to be somewhat boring. I don’t necessarily think risks need to be taken to have excitement, but when things seem mundane they could represent a lack of planning. I know that most things in life cannot be planned, and that the plans of men often go awry, but when plans do go off without a hitch they usually don’t end up being boring. I have decided that while I know I can not control everything that comes my way, I will make a solid action plan for the major accomplishments I plan to see through in the year 2016. The year is nearly over and everything from the past is now firmly part of memory, the best and only thing anyone can do going forward is to make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and the plans of the future are well plotted out. I am eager to see the new things that 2016 will bring, hopefully my plans don’t falter and I won’t be seeing a repeat of the mistakes of yesterday in the story of tomorrow.
Today is the first day of the last month of the year, and I have been writing this blog for over 300 days. I have learned many lessons throughout this year about myself, and though I have not really chronicled the growth I have seen in this blog, I can say that writing daily has helped me to better recognize the things that I have seen change throughout the year. I have definitely noticed that the year is much shorter than it seems, and that things can change quickly over the course of the year. If I could categorize this year into four themes for each quadrant, they would be, new beginnings, taking risks, bitter ends, and fresh starts. Not every year will go like this but as I have seen in this year, things can change rapidly so it is important to stay focused or you may find yourself stuck in a terrible season. In the beginning of the year, I decided to try a few new things, and as I went along in the year I took a few more risks here and there. The risks I took yielded varying results that at times culminated into unforeseen endings. Once I got over those “bitter ends,” I realized that life is full of endings and beginnings, and in order to continue you must always be ready to restart at something new. As I head into this final month of the year I will do what I have done all year, and that is to continue to learn, grow, and get better at whatever I am doing at the current time. Life is full of triumphs and setbacks, and the only way to make it through the setbacks is to remember the approaching triumphs and to continue moving forward.
With modern advancements in technology, it is no longer a question of if you can do something on your mobile device, but when. In just a mere eight years, mobile phones have gone from being a luxury device to an everyday companion to over a billion people around the world. I once worked with mobile phones and I have to admit there were several things I believed would never make it to a mobile device, and today I can proudly list the top 5 things I thought would never be doable on a smartphone.
1. Order and Pay for Takeout
I am still getting used to no longer having to dial up Pete down the street when I am hungry for some pizza, but apps like Grubhub and Seamless have made ordering delivery or takeout as simple as a few taps on a screen. I have to admit I never thought my clumsy old blackberry would be able to deliver my lunch, but now we are possibly a couple of years away from it being able to control my entire kitchen.
2. Hail a Cab
Catching a cab in New York City can at times be stressful, but apps like Uber and Lyft have cut out the waiting and given customers like myself a personal car service in the palm of our hands. Now we are able to sit inside our warm offices as we wait for our ride home.
3. Pay for Purchases
There is absolutely nothing better than running out to the store with only your keys and your phone in your hand. Apple Pay has made shopping hassle free and has all but eliminated the need for a wallet.
4. Find a date
I am not big on online dating, but for those who are, smartphones have become a reliable wingman. Apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder have become a one stop shop for singles looking to meet someone special, and they can both be used without stepping a foot out of the door. I bet you never thought your phone could help you find a wedding date.
5. Travel the World
Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have made our world closer than it has ever been. I am now able to travel to the Pyramids of Egypt without buying a plane ticket. Nothing beats the real thing, but it is amazing that our phones are able to take us to such far away locations at a moments notice.
I recently read a news report about a teenager in Oregon who was recently diagnosed with the Bubonic plague. This story seemed as a shock to me since I fully believed that this disease was extinct, but it seems like it has managed to hang around, we have just found advanced ways of treating it. The Bubonic plague is a disease that is commonly heard of in history class, it was known in Europe as the Black Death due to the effects it has on the human body. Back when the Bubonic plague was at the height of its devastation, it killed one third of the known population of earth. In the 14th century this plague was a certain death sentence and there was nothing anybody could do to save themselves or the ones they loved. Today, we know that the bubonic plague is spread by fleas and rodents, and we have drastically improved in our cleanliness since the Middle Ages, we also have antibiotics that can fight the effects of the plague, leaving it little chance to cause the damage it once did. It is astounding to think of how far we have come in terms of medical and hygienic technology, hopefully we will be able to look at all disease as ghosts of the past one day. Only 23 people have contracted the bubonic plague in the United States from the year 2010 to 2014, so it seems like this disease is well contained. This girl’s case is rare and unfortunate, but at least she has a cool story to tell her friends when she recovers.
Labor Day weekend is the unofficial last weekend of the summer. While summer actually ends on September 22nd, this weekend it is definitely the beginning of the end of summer fun. With college students already back to school, and everyone else soon to follow, everywhere you go seems much less like summer in spite of the still tepid temperatures. Many people use Labor Day weekend as a time to barbecue and spend time with family, I on the other hand like to just sit back, relax, and reflect on the summer fun that has come and gone. I know I have stated before that I don’t like extreme temperatures, hot or cold, so I really enjoy the transitional periods between New York’s most extreme seasons. As the city transforms from a tropical play land into a more mellow fall gallery, I love to remember the adventures of the summer past. This summer was quite eventful and definitely enjoyable, but somehow it always seems like it was not long enough. When I look back on the activities of summer, I realize that while they all lasted a perfect amount of time, the memory can never truly recreate the enjoyment of each moment. Memories are always great, but it is most important to make sure that each moment is given an adequate amount of time to be cherished. Summer is just about gone, hopefully everyone had an enjoyable time, and took the time to actually enjoy it since, much like summer, moments come and go, but the memory is never the same as enjoying a moment in the present.
Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.
Today, I started a weekend road trip with my younger brother, so I have been in the car for some time. When riding in a car there is little to do other than talk, listen to music, and when you are the driver, focus of course. Taking a long drive made me think about this quote, but it can be equated to more than just being on the road. In life, there are many distractions, and while one could easily look back at the past, it is paramount to focus on what is ahead. In driving and in life, the ability to look back is part of going forward, and the rearview mirror is an important tool that allows us to look back while driving without losing focus on what is ahead. It is important to be mindful of the things in your past, but in order to achieve success and reach any goals, you must keep your “eyes on the prize” and pay attention to the goals you want to achieve.
A picture is the closest we can get to traveling back in time at this moment. I understand that we have advanced video capabilities in this day and age, but there is just something about a picture that sets it apart. Whenever you look into a photo, you are basically given full control of the context of a situation, that is why ten people could look at the same photo and view it completely differently. There is an old saying that states, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and I have seen the truth in that statement thousands of times. I was recently looking through some old photo albums, and while I was a child in many of these photos, I felt as though I was tossed back in time to those wonderful days. I saw a cool photo of my oft arguing older siblings, who were then toddlers, getting along wonderfully, and I was left to wonder what had changed in the 20 something years this photo was taken. The photo showed two well behaved children playing together but it didn’t show the incidents leading up to that joyous moment, perhaps they where fighting minutes before or after this photo was taken. The joy of photography is the fact that the viewer of the photo is not bothered with the context surrounding the picture. Pictures have stayed the most popular form of memory preservation because of the fact that they don’t tell the whole story, but still manage to encompass every emotion and word possible in presenting it. I am certain that if humans last another 200 years here on earth, photographs will be just as informative and useful then as they are today in recreating our view of the past and preserving our memories in the future.
I was recently searching through my old things in storage and I made quite a few interesting finds. Aside from the pop culture relics that are my old clothes, I found some toys and video games I used to enjoy. The things I found reminded me of a simpler time, a time when there wasn’t so much regulation on what was actually sold in stores. When I was a child everything was marketed to us, we had toy guns, candy cigarettes, and countless questionable role models. Looking back on life as a child in the 90s, as unsafe as it seemed, it was generally safer than it is today. I know the Internet is a huge part of the problem today, but I just don’t see how playing with certain toys could have adversely affected my growth. One of the toys I found was an action figure of the Marvel character, Punisher, and while I have fond memories of innocently playing with that action figure, I now know that Punisher was basically just a killer, who only targeted bad guys. Knowing what I know now, I would never willingly purchase some of the toys I once played with for my children, but the problem is that new toys and gadgets are being built everyday and they are probably twice as harmful as anything ever sold in the past. There are always studies decrying newly released toys and entertainment devices, but in my opinion, there is never enough time to accurately determine the toxicity of the items in question before they are replaced with the next batch. I would say that my generation turned out relatively well in spite of all the dangerous toys and games, and I believe that no mater what marketing schemes we were exposed to as children, it is our upbringing that ultimately defines our future life choices. As long as parents take an active role in every aspect of their child’s life, I’m sure the kids will turn out just fine.