Separation Anxiety

What happens when there is a lack of ability to be able to use your mobile phone, access the internet, or have electrical power?  I am not speaking of a break from technology or a planned vacation; I am speaking of your ability to use technology, hot water, lights, everything….ripped from your mitts like a momma bear taking back her cub.

During the week the news and weather stated that we were going to have some early snow.  The color on the meteorological map corresponded two to four inches and should have not been a big deal, even though this is unusual to have this early a snowfall.  As the week drew to an end the amounts stayed the same for my area, but did increase to four to six inches, still not a big deal for a li

felong New Englander.  I have never given credence to the hype given to storms in New Hampshire and New England because it was never as bad as they say it was.  The news and weather channels need to keep viewers and use storms to promote and retain viewers.  The “Stormwatch” on the local news always errors on the heavy side of a snow fall, they have, and add to the “Chicken Little” or “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” attitude and broadcast it as much as possible in the name of public service.  But I do not pay attention because they are usually wrong.  Well a broken clock is correct twice a day and so was the fear mongering weather man.

We ended up with over a foot of snow, and not the fluffy cute stuff, it is the wet heavy dangerous stuff.  The kind of heavy that takes down century old trees, which in turn take down power lines, which in turn kill my ability to watch a hockey game, change my fantasy football team, find out some kind of shenanigans that my friends got into, or look at pictures of my friends dog.

Can you imagine my disbelief of when things just went dark?  It was not so bad because, they will get it fixed tomorrow, right?  I went to bed, woke up, still no power.  But I have homework to complete with a paper to write and a blog to post and a midterm to finish.

We have to come up with a plan.  The wife got ice to put in the fridge and freezer, I did anything low tech (pen and paper) I could to finish my midterm exam.  For a shower I thought I would go to the gym, but they do not have power.  For the internet, I would go to Panera, the next town over, to use their free Wi-Fi connection. Good plan.  With the ice and the wife all set, I forged my way into the world.  What I found was a SNOWPOCALYPSE!

One road was closed, all houses were dark.  Any traffic lights I encountered were black.  I thought I would be able to go to 7-11 for a Sunday paper and Mountain Dew.  Never in my life have I seen the dreadful sight of an unopened 7-11, this storm was so powerful it killed 7-11.

I passed three different gas stations and multiple businesses that fell to the same fate as the blacked out 7-11.  I thought I was making progress when I saw a functioning traffic light, but next to the light was another casualty of this lethal storm, Dunkin Donuts, this is bad, really bad.  I continued on the journey to the area of Panera.  What I met there was the rest of the population of southern NH.  Traffic was a mess, people were cutting others off, and no one was being nice.  I actually drove past the turn I had to make because of traffic.  I wish I could say that it was an easy u turn to get back on track.  So I just went forward to another gas station that was open to get the paper.  They had none.  I went to a grocery store to get a paper, they had none but went a step further to state that the paper was never delivered to them to be able to sell, another casualty to the storm.  This meant I have not been able to have any outside contact with the world to find out what is going on.  I could not email, phone, text, tweet, instant message, or “like” my friends Halloween costume.  Not being able to play Scrabble was killing me, oh and my homework completion is important too.

I made it to Panera, and so did a lot of others, whose gyms did not have power either.  I could not make it through the door, but my phone started working.  I was able to check in on my sister, I asked are you ok and do you have internet? She stated yes she is ok and no on the internet.  I explained that I did not want to tie up her line in this snow emergency and hung up.

I sat in my car and checked out my phone and found an opening to enter Panera.  I got in found a seat, no power outlet though, I need power.  So I sat and waited, just like when I get bad seats to a ball game and then you see one that is a little better, you move.  It has to be quick and you may not stay so you have to be mobile.  I was able to better my seating to a cushy chair with an outlet by the fire place.  The Snowpocalypse was not going to wreck my day any further.

Throughout the process of between no power and power, I did find myself in a bit of panic.  Some was because as a home owner and the purchaser of a full fridge of groceries the day before, you have to worry some when weather happens.  There was some trauma because I really did expect to be able to have a full Saturday and Sunday to complete the school work that I had.  But I do have to admit that there were/are some scary feelings relating to not being able to check my phone for new tweets and status updates.  Not being able to watch in almost real time friends posting new and interesting things.  Not being able to hold my phone and laptop as a security blanket or good luck charm made me feel uncomfortable.  I do think that from time to time we have to disconnect from technology and do other stuff.  I do think that there should be some planning and letting people know that you may be off the grid for a while but not to worry because it’s only temporary.  But I was not prepared for this storm or the loss of TV, radio, phone, or internet, exacerbated by no available news papers and by having the same Snowpocalypse happen to a lot of other people also.    So I guess I just have to suck it up and deal with it.

#seanspeak

 

Update: I did eventually get my power back, after 5 days without.  It was a long 5 days, at home I usually check my phone, and have my laptop open and felt like I was missing something with out being able to connect to the world.  Even though I was able to get short connections at Panera and at school, SNHU, it was not the same as being able to connect when I wanted.  I found this picture on Facebook.  It shows a picture of the affected Northeast blackout area.

Mapping My Brain

Last week my class was given an assignment to create a visual presentation that showed a go to market strategy for a social media outlet.  Besides some required headings, the assignment was open to whatever we wanted to present.  The instructor, Jessica Rogers, gave some resources on creating a flow chart and another on creating a mind map.

I did not want to do the same boring flow chart in a Microsoft Office format, so I downloaded a free trial of Personal Brain 6.  The Idea behind the mind map is to start with a central focus, then branch off from the central theme with another idea, with branches coming off that idea with all the details, next thing you know you have a mind map.  The mind map can be a dynamic idea that can be added to on an ongoing basis.  I do not know if any software is better than another; the basic set up is fairly easy.  The software I used did not allow for much styling of the presentation except for picking the background wall paper.

So I spent a while doing my mind map, and found myself excited to do school work.  I was doing something new, while I was learning about a subject.  I then submitted the project, on time, and had a feeling of satisfaction because I was pleasing myself and hopefully impressing my instructor on my crazy art skills.  The next day I get an email from my instructor, and I am thinking to myself of all the superlatives that she used to describe my project and the obvious effort that was put into it (similar to Ralphie in A Christmas Story).  The email stated that she could not open the project and if I could send it in another format.  Not cool.  I tried to resend, change format, etc.  I am not sure if it was the software that only creates files that can be saved on a hard drive (this was done on my personal computer not a shared drive with the school) or operator error (me not J. Rogers)?  I could not share with her the awesome work I had done (#fail).

I then hoped that if I offered to do in a different format, same old Microsoft Office flow chart, that she would let me resubmit (she did).  I still did not want the SOS.  I remembered a presentation that someone did in another class that was different and dynamic, and it ties in perfect with a social media class.  Prezi.com is a website that allows you to create a presentation that is dynamic, not linear like a flow chart or Power Point.  The premise for Prezi.com is ZOOMING.  What I learned from trying the mind map was great for preparing my Prezi.com project.  You lay out your ideas; create a map for the Prezi to follow, then, your ZOOMING.  Again this ties in with social media because you do not have to save to a hard drive.  It is in the cloud of Prezi.com.  The presentations can be left in a public setting so any one can read and comment on your work.  So again I spent time learning new software,  I sent an email with the link to my Prezi, I do not think Rogers ever heard of Prezi so I am thinking to myself that she is skeptical and now my project is late, and like Ralphie, I was anxious, and I thought I was going to put an eye out.

Any way the instructor was okay with the tardiness because we could not figure out how to share the Personal Brain and she stated that the Prezi was: “Impressive”.

This is not my Prezi but is a great example of what it is and what you can do to make your presentations jazzed up.  I think that we can easily get bored with doing the same thing over and over and the audience feels the same way, if the information you’re giving is important, but you lose your audience because they are as bored as we were creating it, there is going to be a disconnect where information gathered is then lost.  Check it out, try it out, and tell them I sent you.

I wanted to take some time to remember a friend who died five years ago from a gunshot.  Michael Briggs was a Marine, father, husband, son and all around good guy.  Mike was a police officer for the City of Manchester, NH.  He was needlessly shot in the line of duty, by the hand of Michael Addison, who sits waiting for his appeal from death row at the New Hampshire State Prison (but this is not about him, although the irony is Addison was incarcerated at the jail while Mike and I worked there).

In 1996, Mike was an established corrections officer at a local county jail.  I was a new CO and he was one of the people who had a great influence on how I conducted myself, fair, firm and consistent.  Working in a jail is not fun, but I enjoyed working with Mike.  He had ambitions on becoming a state trooper; he already worked part-time in Epsom, NH, and during his time there had to deal with another officer death, Jeremy Charron.  Mike knew what he was getting into and wanted it anyway.

I got a call at a new job I had taken in sales (I had gotten out of the jail business) stating that Mike was shot and is at the hospital.  I rushed to the hospital, to be with friends, we needed each other, it was a tough time.  Mike was able to hang on for the night but succumbed to his injury.  He was treated as a hero, which he is.  The funeral was held at a baseball stadium with standing room only; the mood was somber, and quiet except for the sound of marching boots from the extremely large funeral procession and bagpipes.  The governor spoke.  Mike was interred at the Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, NH.

There is not a day that I do not think about Mike.  It is not for very long just a thought.  Other people think about him too, I will see a t-shirt of the road race that is sponsored for fallen officers, a sticker with his badge number, 83, on a passing car, or driving past the community center that was dedicated in Mike’s name.  Mike meant a lot to a lot of people.   I miss him.

#seanspeak

What the ####?

This topic may be old hat for some, but new comers to Twitter (Twitternoob) may not know what a hash tag is (number symbol, #) or why you would use one.

The hash tag, or # symbol, is used on Twitter to categorize key words, or a topic.  So when you do a search all tweets are collected together.  An actor like, @rainnwilson, wants to promote his latest movie, Super, you may see the #Super, or #shutupcrime (a line from the movie) within the tweet.  Fans can then send other messages with the same hash tag and the messages will be collected to one page, you do not have to follow people to be able to read the messages sent with the hash tag.  This can help you read every comment related to the hash tag topic, you may find someone new to follow.  The hash tags can also create trends on Twitter.  Twitter also keeps track of what is trending on the site and is collected in a list.  The hash tag can help a topic become trend worthy.

In the television show, Haven, on the Syfy channel, two of the main characters were having a contest to get the most Twitter followers. @DaveHaven and @VinceHaven run the local newspaper, and in the episodes there would be signs posted around different areas with follow Dave or follow Vince with the #Haven hash tag topic.  The actors (I assume), have created accounts, in character, and tweet in character.  Both accounts have over 18,000 followers each with Vince ahead of Dave by over 1000 followers.  This seems to have created a fun way for fans to interact with the show outside of watching episodes.  To me, this type of activity may not attract new viewers, but may be a good way to keep current viewers, by giving more content for fans.

Are you a reader?  Fridays, on Twitter, you can go to #Fridayreads.  #Fridayreads is a hash tag topic where tweeters can send messages on what they are reading on that Friday (obviously).  Thousands of people are in on the #Fridayreads hash tag topic.  This is a great way to find out what other people think are good or bad books, most comments are positive.  There seems to be a lot of activity by authors, and book merchants.  Both are great at offering suggested reading, they are the experts.  Currently my #Fridayread is Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Another hash tag topic that is interesting to me is #comicmarket.  On Tuesdays this is a space for the comic book industry to share information on comics and other products that are sold. (I use the word comics, graphic novels can be a complete story only available in one book or a graphic novel is a collection comic’s that were released as single issues).  Activity on this topic, are retailers and suppliers.  Ideas and questions are exchanged.  For me, this builds excitement for upcoming events, writer and artist signings, new books, etc.

Another hash tag I found was #in.  If you add Twitter to your LinkedIn profile, you will be able to share or post to your profile any tweets you send with the #in hash tag.

Hash tags can be made by anyone who sends a tweet.  If you search long enough, you will see that some can be amusing: #fail, #iFail, #top10lies, #pornname, #twitternoob, #yankeesfail, etc.  Use your imagination.  You cannot break anything, in Twitter, by using the hash tag.

The website, hashtags.org, is a site that follows the hash tag trends and creates list of the most popular based on subject matter.  Check it out, have fun with Twitter and hash tags.  #seanspeak.