Friday Five

1. Christmas tree graveyard. A little sad to see all of these trees, decorated and primped only days ago, waiting for the mulcher.

Christmas trees

2. Technology Sabbath. On Wednesday, our network servers went down for the better part of the day. No email. No shared files. No databases. No internet. No voice mail. At first there was a lot of hubub. Hey, did you just lose the database? Yeah, and my email just quit. We figured it would be an hour or so until the systems were back on line, so we went about doing tasks that didn’t require computers. What? Exactly. These days, that leaves just two things: filing and opening mail, which took all of about 15 minutes. Then, we reluctantly started reorganizing. You know, this is good. I’ve been meaning to sort my bookshelves. After two hours, we developed withdrawal symptoms, relentlessly clicking refresh on the mail program. If I could only get to that message, just for a second, I promise, then I’ll leave it alone. At the seven hour mark, dazed and confused, we stumbled to the elevators, anxious to get home to connect with the world again.

Only once I got home and checked my various inboxes and “caught up,” did I realize I’d missed an opportunity. These windows don’t open often anymore, unless we consciously choose to take a break from being so connected in order to reconnect. You know what I mean. I’d heard about technology sabbaths – a day each week when turn off all of our devices. I’d like to give it a try. Maybe not a whole day at first. I mean, that’d be like jumping in an icy lake.  But setting the intention to have an evening untethered from all the devices sounds lovely.

In an article in The Atlantic about technology sabbaths Rebecca Rosen writes, “It seems paradoxical that abstaining from technology, which at some very basic level is all about connection, should help us connect better…recognizing that by dedicating time to one activity or one person, without interruption from gadgets, work, or other people, will help us slow down and connect.” What we’re really looking for more time.

Have you tried a technology sabbath? How did it go? 

3. The best news I’ve heard all week came from this article that the American Medical Association now says you should drink as much coffee as you like.

Not only have most of coffee’s purported ill effects been disproven — the most recent review fails to link it the development of hypertension — but we have so, so much information about its benefits. We believe they extend from preventing Alzheimer’s disease to protecting the liver. Coffee, researchers found, appears to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

And the list of benefits goes on and on from there. The studies included 80,000 women and 40,000 men over a period of about 25 years. Those who drank six or more cups a day were reported to see the largest benefits. My vice is now approved by the AMA. Someone please pour me another cup.

4. A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success. Since we’ve been talking about making (un)resolutions, let’s talk about breaking them.  All the folks who are experts on this kind of thing say that our goals need to be well defined and specific. They need to be time-oriented and trackable. Well Alain de Botton, author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (also see # 2 bibliotherapist) thinks that’s all fine and dandy, but really we need to take a step back. We need first to look at the definition of success.

One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves. What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.

5. Slow groovin’. To leave on a lighter note, what could be better than dogs in slow-mo?

Have a great weekend everyone! 



  1. I love dogs. The slo-mo was most excellent.
    I do think it is sad-all those Christmas trees waiting for the chopper; but, I’d love to get a whiff of the air when the chopper starts creating the mulch. Mmmmm…evergreen.
    Technology sabbath. The longer I stay away from social media, the less I miss it. I will be giving up Facebook (and ice cream) for Lent this year. Going 40 days without ice cream will hurt more than 40 days without Facebook. Giving up email would be tough – well, giving it up for more than a day or two, that is.


  2. Love the dog video!
    I’m not ADDICTED to technology, but I would have had to dig out my iPhone and head to the nearest Starbucks at lunchtime. 🙂 I can go without Twitter and Facebook, but not email.


  3. The idea of taking a break from all technology appeals to me, Jackie. I’ve already cut way back on the time I spend on Twitter and the like. At first it was difficult, but it got easier and easier. I usually take Sunday off from phones and internet (I know, it’s Sunday, and here I am reading your blog, but that’s because I took yesterday off, honest!).
    I’m drinking my first cup of coffee of the day as I write this – Dunkin Donuts blend. Cheers!


    1. It’s hard to know where to draw the line with social media, isn’t it? There are contradicting articles at every turn. Sometimes I find it interferes with my writing and then I know it’s time to take a break. I love the idea of reserving one day each week to unplug. I always end up feeling refreshed when I come back to the computer.

      I hope this was just your first cup of many today. Go ahead — it’s good for you. 🙂


  4. Love the video, Jackie. The first dog reminds me of my Lucy, as we always laugh that she has the world’s longest tongue for a dog her size. Also, this past week, I’ve gone several days without even checking my email-unheard of behavior for me—-but my only option given some current craziness in my life. It felt weird–but in the end–not as bad as I might have thought. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend, my friend.


    1. Doesn’t that video just put a smile on your face? It’s a great pick me up!
      So excited about your news. I can’t wait to hear how all the details unfold. Give Lucy a big woof from Reggie! 🙂


  5. If I’m working on something I feel ‘okay’ about being away from technology (by choice) for quite a while… the second I can’t get to it, though… that’s when I start to feel a bit jumpy, for some reason.
    If only the AMA would say the same thing about six cups of Coke (I probably shouldn’t hold my breath?)! 🙂


    1. You never know about the Coke. I mean think of all the things that have been “bad” for you and are now “good” – eggs, coffee, bread. I’m sure it’s just a while before they discover Coke has magical healing powers. 🙂


  6. Miles has been marking every Christmas tree he sees. I feel guilty about it, but he’s a dog. He pees on trees. And love the dog video–I wish I knew how to enjoy life like my dog.


      1. How can they sniff so much? I just don’t get it. Same spot, but they won’t stop. Miles loves the snow. Loves it. Will freeze to death and I have to drag him back inside. However, it didn’t snow that much here so he didn’t get to roll around in it and eat it.


      2. I read that dogs are able to smell layers of scent. Whereas a person might smell soup simmering on the stove, a dog would smell the carrots, celery, beans, etc. separately.
        Maybe Miles and Reggie sniff a spot and think, “that’s dog A. That’s dog B. That’s dog C. Oh, that’s a squirrel.” 🙂
        Reggie loves the snow! He hops like a bunny through all the drifts.


    1. I find that my attention span wanes when I’ve been to attached to all the devices. I realized (to my horror) that I can’t even finish an email or a tweet without clicking to something else first. Or worse, my mind wanders away from the task at hand. That loss of focus is what I hope to regain by taking some down time once a week.


  7. Before mobile devices could link to the Internet, I used to switch off my computer on Sundays. Now I usually can’t resist checking my email on my phone when a new message comes in.

    Drink more coffee? Now there’s a New Year’s resolution I can stick to!


  8. Dogs in slow-mo was great!

    About 4 years ago I took an entire week off of technology – no phones, computers, internet, or alarm clocks. It was a luxury and I didn’t miss any of it a bit. If I was independently wealthy I could totally live off the grid.


      1. Not difficult at all in the context – it was a remote area in a retreat setting and my days were intensely scheduled. No plans at present to do it again. Though I’ll probably be due for a technology break by this summer.


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