I figure it must have been back in 94 when we got the Thule Weekender. I've never been a big fan of cargo boxes on top of cars. I had spent eight months hitchhiking around the States and Europe back in 83 with just my trusty old blue backpack, which I still have. But when you get married and settle down, you need a little more space.
We had a 1991 Ford Escort wagon. That was a great car, but with a four year old and a one year old, we just couldn't fit everything we needed in the back for a long weekend of camping at a folk music festival.
People who have been reading this blog for a long time know that pretty much every year, I head to the Falcon Ridge Folk Music Festival for a long weekend of fun, camping and listening to great music.
Every year, I've dragged out the Thule Weekender, strapped it on the top of the car, filled it to the brim, and set off. Since that time, we've been through several cars. I've bought new footings for the Thule rack to fit the new car, and packed the Thule Weekender the same way, year after year. We also used the Thule for other vacations.
After a divorce, remarriage, and a third daughter crammed into the car, we settled into a yearly trip to Cape Cod as well, and the Thule Weekender would again, get packed and come along with us.
Along with the new cars, the new wife and daughter, has come a couple new houses, and the Thule Weekender has made many trips between old houses and new houses.
Now, twenty years is a pretty long life for a cargo box seeing heavy use and a few years ago, one of the hinges on the front broke. I used duct tape to hold things together, and we got several more years out of the Thule Weekender as a result, although I always worried about when the duct tape would give way. I had visions of camping stuff covering a highway.
Last fall, my mother died, so I'm back at moving stuff from one house to another, as I help prepare her house for sale. I put the Thule Weekender on top of the Prius and headed north. It was empty and I didn't reinforce the duct tape. Heading up Route 8 in Connecticut, not far, I believe, from Thule's North American headquarters, I heard a racket on the roof and saw something black flying on to the highway behind me. The Thule Weekender had taken its last trip. I pulled the car onto the highway and backed up. I pulled the top half of the Thule Weekender off the highway. The bottom half was still firmly attached to my car.
I don't think they make the Thule Weekender anymore. They now have the Sonic, Force and Pulse lines, as well as the Sidekick, which seems closest to the Weekender. I guess I can keep the bottom of the Thule Weekender as a cargo basket now, but I really need to get a new cargo box, or at least a new cargo bag.
With money tight these days, I just hope I can find a good deal on a cargo box and that my next one lasts as long as the dear old Thule Weekender. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.
It is a beautiful March day, forty degrees and clear. The sunlight, reflecting off the newly fallen snow makes it even brighter. Yet last night was dark. We lost power twice during the snowstorm. The first time was around noon and the power was out for about an hour. Then, in the evening, it went out around five and was out for several hours.
It was just our neighborhood that was without power. Someone said that a power line had come down on the next street over. It would make sense. March snows are heavier than snow during the colder months, and can take down branches that have survived other blasts.
I drove Fiona to a friend's house that did have power, so she would have something to do and wouldn't have to sleep in a dark room. Driving through Woodbridge, lights were on just about everywhere until I made it back to my neighborhood. It is strange to think of life going on as normal everywhere around you, but not in your neighborhood.
Survival mode settles in. Candles are lit, considerations are made for keeping food cold, humans warm and for flushing toilets.
For me, it is even more of a challenge. The past couple of power outages came at very difficult times in my life. Hurricane Irene came as I was struggling with some difficult work life balance issues. We had to confront these issues in the library if I wanted to be online, or in a house without power. Of course, that was in August, so there weren't the worries about staying warm, but we were without power for several days.
Hurricane Sandy came during the final days of my campaign for State Representative. It was accompanied by news that my mother had died in a car accident during the storm. The power came back more quickly than it did after Hurricane Irene, but the struggles were much more difficult.
The snow storm yesterday wasn't expected to be as much as it turned out to be, and we hadn't done the preparations for a power outage. There weren't any great issues, at least that I know of yet, that came about during the power outage, but still, it was enough to remind me of previous struggles.
Now, the power is back on. It is a beautiful day outside. I shoveled a little this morning, did the dump run and am now heading off to my mother's house to prepare it for sale.
Sometimes, there is more to a power outage than just the electricity.
The ‘Evolving Personalized Information Construct’ is the system by which our sprawling, chaotic mediascape is filtered, ordered and delivered. Everyone contributes now – from blog entries, to phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations.
It talked about the importance of things like eReaders and video, not quite getting the details right, but predicting a lot of what has happened over the past decade. For example, it suggested that Google would buy TiVo to corner the online video market. Instead, they bought YouTube. It suggested that Sony's ePaper would become the medium of choice, instead of mobile devices. And, it suggested that the challenge to Google would be from Microsoft having bought out Friendster, instead of Facebook becoming the 'social news network and participatory journalism platform [that] … ranks and sorts news, based on what each user’s friends and colleagues are reading and viewing and it allows everyone to comment on what they see.'
They also suggested that the evolving personalized information construct would be Google's and not Facebook's.
I thought of that video today as I listened to the announcement of the new Facebook newsfeed. In fact, during the presentation, Mark Zuckerberg even used the world evolving numerous times.
The creators of Epic challenged us, nearly a decade ago, to think about what happens to journalism in the age of social media. Perhaps, they merely scratched the surface.
As I drove home this afternoon, I noticed more and more areas where the snow is gone, but we still have a blanket of snow around our house. Now, I sit inside. Outside, the wind is howling. It riles up the dog who barks. The chance of snow seems to be giving way simply to heavy winds.
When I let the dog outside, the trees were creaking in the wind, but there are no branches down yet. I sit at the blank page on the computer, waiting for words to come; hoping they come before I fall asleep, before the wind causes a power outage.
My mind wanders to Lenten meditations, readings for the Health Fellowship program, thoughts about what sort of impact the blog is having, my work is having, and trying to find a good balance of all of this.
I remember many times waiting for friends to show up. In my early days, waiting for a date at a predetermined location, later, waiting during the moments before a party, for the first guests to arrive, these days, waiting for some meet up to start at a local coffee show.
What do we do, while waiting? We could do our exercises.
And then, there are times writing, waiting for inspiration to come, doing our exercises, and finally deciding that no one is coming tonight.
For the CT Health Leadership Fellows Program this month, I've been reading Daniel Goleman's "What Makes a Leader?" In it, he asked, "Can Emotional Intelligence Be Learned?"
Being the social media person that I am, I wondered if we could look at this from a different angle, "Can empathy be taught online?"
My mind went to a few different videos. One was Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. The lecture is about an hour and a half long and is very powerful.
In the lecture he tells the audience:
OK, and so one of the expressions I learned at Electronic Arts, which I love, which pertains to this, is experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And I think that’s absolutely lovely. And the other thing about football is we send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is, and it’s the first example of what I’m going to call a head fake, or indirect learning. We actually don’t want our kids to learn football. I mean, yeah, it’s really nice that I have a wonderful three-point stance and that I know how to do a chop block and all this kind of stuff. But we send our kids out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etcetera, etcetera. And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important. And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.
Perhaps the head fake, the indirect learning, or when it comes to learning emotional intelligence, some sort of 'heart fake' is part of how empathy is learned or how it can be taught. If we learn by doing, perhaps we lead by example. Perhaps what matters in social media is not the content of the post, but the feelings that surround it. Perhaps, to twist McLuhan, it isn't even the medium that's the message, but the emotions that surround the experience of the medium.
Two other videos come to mind, and I always link them together. They are by Jane McGonigal. The first is Gaming can make a better world. The second is The game that can give you 10 extra years of life.
In the first video she sets up the importance of gaming, and in the second, she makes it intensely personal. The second also ties nicely back to Goleman's article. McGonigal starts off the second video saying that she is a gamer and because of that, she likes to have goals.
In this, she comes close to capturing the five components of emotional intelligence at work, Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skill. She starts off by talking about the Top five regrets of the dying, all of which could me mitigated by playing more games.
She then explores the idea of post traumatic growth in contrast to post traumatic stress disorder. She notes that people experiencing post traumatic growth talk about how they end up doing things that make them happy, feeling closer to friends and family, better understanding who they really are, having a new sense of meaning and being more focused on goals and dreams. She notes that these are the opposite of the regrets of dying people, and I notice that they seem to mirror the five components of emotional intelligence at work.
So, what does it take to experience post traumatic growth? She talks about resiliency. As a side note, one of the Rabbis at the funeral I attended on Sunday made some comments about resiliency that sounded very similar. She described four types of resilience: physical resilience, mental resilience, emotional resilience, and social resilience. In the video, she suggests ways to build up these resiliencies.
Again, as a social media person, I'm wondering if there are ways to build up these resiliencies online. Are there things that can be shared via social media that will help others build up these resiliencies?
When I think about so much that is shared online, it is about the content itself; people praising or cursing the President or members of Congress. People advocating for various issues. Yet perhaps this is not making a difference, or, even worse, it is having a different effect than intended. Are people just becoming more polarized, more offensive by focusing on the content?
Where does indirect learning and emotions around the medium fit in? This is a thought I've been focusing a lot since the shooting in Sandy Hook. I've avoided, as much as possible, news reports going into the horror of the event. Instead, I've focused on sharing stories of people helping one another. I've especially been interested in posting pictures of cute animals, particularly when they are helping others. For example, Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses has many images and stories, that I believe can help build some of the resiliencies that McGonigal talks about.
Can empathy be taught online? Perhaps; perhaps by focusing on head fakes about resiliency. I'm trying to bring some of that into my social media footprint. Are you? What sort of impact are you having online?