Messing With My Memory

Here’s a recipe for making a mess of one’s memory.  I did it so you wouldn’t have to. And yes, I took one for the team. 

In no specific order, I give you the ingredients:

  • Take one pandemic with high stress levels.
  • Mix in a dash of aging.
  • Add massive amounts of addictive news as U.S. empire implodes.
  • Don’t socialize except digitally.
  • Research increasing my social media exposure to drive book sales using advanced software.
  • Adopt a full schedule of social media in a test to see increased book sales result. Abandon it several months later (interesting results not relevant here but a lot of time, energy and short term thinking invested.) IMHO social media is time and brain-sucking software
  • Don’t see family. Miss all more than can be described.
  • Add 20 pounds of chocolate to one’s waist.
  • Blow major leg muscle doing my younger-man-than-you hobby of dry stone walling. Gain proficiency in couch-surfing but reduce my to-read-someday list.
  • Reduce meditations – because why not?
  • Stay in old, poorly-insulated three-season cottage for four seasons because borders are closed. Physical stress? What physical stress?
  • Use iPhone GPS for all driving to schedule ferry terminal arrival rather than have to wait extra time. (I relied on the iphone software rather than the clock in the car and my head.)

  • Write all the above on paper.
  • Think about it seriously.  

Fail.

The Bottom Line: Fail?

Fail? What do you mean “fail?”  That’s not a word I’m accustomed to.

Thinking about it, I realized I had remapped my brain to an extremely short term, social media, 300-word post level of work.

I was horrified. (How do I write books when I think in 300-word blog microbursts?) The appalled look on my face reflected back at me in the mirror that morning.

Note: The brain remaps itself to deal with what it’s presented – yes, even an adult’s brain – and is not a fixed system. This is true for all ages according to all the research I was able to find. 

Even Worse:

I was even more concerned when I realized  – as a digital senior citizen – I was offloading my memory (in things like research, notes, to-do lists and scheduling appointments etc.) both short and long term – to sync across all my electronic devices.  Without the devices, I would be…  

There is room here for a discussion about whether offloading information compared to remembering it is something that’s common and beneficial in our society across multiple age groups and whether this has advantages as well as disadvantages.  

In my case, I found it disturbing when I discovered I was offloading my short term memory to a digital device but a younger person who grows up with this offloading may be less concerned.

For Me:

I asked my brain to do short term work and find information online, and it became extremely efficient at doing this in extremely short times.

I was not asking it to a) remember that information or b) think deep thoughts so that capacity was reduced. 

So Now What?

  1. I’m rereading Newports ‘Deep Work’ book (paper edition) and his Digital Minimalism book (paper) and I’m making copious handwritten notes in a new Doug 5.0 workbook.
  2. I’ve cut way back on short term projects such as social media posts and the software to accomplish this. (My personal health takes precedence over business health.)
  3. I’m writing first drafts of my work using a fountain pen including blog posts such as this one. This forces me to slow down, think more deeply and forms an association with the written word and hand-eye coordination. 
  4. I’m also forcing myself to slow down my reading by making hand-written notes as I progress through my reading list and book piles. I note I’ve been a native speed reader since I learned the alphabet – so this is one of the more difficult tasks I’ve set myself.
  5. I’m investing in paper books wherever possible to avoid digital inputs. (Which is somewhat ironic considering all my work is now online.)
My to-read pile

The Process

Only once the first draft is finished on paper (I write every second line to give myself editing space) will I transcribe those notes via voice dictation to Scrivener software. 

I’ll do the second edit, spell check etc and then cut and paste to the Net or into ebook formats and the job is done. 

Note the initial brain work is (now) all done by hand rather than electronically.  It’s much slower but it’s apparently healthier. At this stage of my career, I’ll vote for health over productivity any day.

But How Long Does It Take To Remap An Adult Brain?

The data I found suggests it takes three to four months for an adult brain to remap itself.

I’ve set the calendar. 

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Postscripts

Back in the day, I worked in a psychiatric hospital so have some experience with mental issues. I suspect it will be tempting for physicians to do a lot of testing on seniors for Alzheimers (hey, the boomers are aging although we may not admit it)

At issue now, imho is the level of connectivity for individuals because the higher the level of connectivity, the potentially lower performance of short term memory.

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Jerod Morris over at Copyblogger wrote a great post on this subject. It’s well worth reading given it’s coming from one of the Net’s leading experts on delivering great information. If you read nothing else on the subject, this is the note.

I also wrote a post here about internet attention deficit and your memory. And quite frankly, I’ve slipped back into multiple info-streams albeit at a much lower rate than before but… (Another bad habit.. sigh)

Thanks for reading to the bottom. (And congratulate yourself for being one of the few readers to do so because short and sweet on the Net still rules) But now you know why…

Click here if you want to be advised when I publish something new.

Rough Notes On My Future View Of Creating Content

I’m feeling very much an endangered dinosaur species this morning as I make notes, review the latest on my online trends, and fiddle with getting the intravenous coffee hook up working.  Creating anything isn’t on the top of my mind until my caffeine stream has been replenished.

Here’s a personal take on the non-fiction content world. 

  • Online text notes – like the majority of my websites – aren’t quite dead. But they are an endangered species. 
  • Video and audio will continue to grow in popularity and displace more and more text.
  • YouTube and Facebook are the two biggest content delivery systems.

The short version of this impact is creators can make videos and upload them to both Youtube and Facebook rather than maintaining individual websites. Or, the content can be linked to a creator’s website but the main viewing will be done on Youtube and Facebook.

Personal websites will increasingly become backwaters in the information highway we’ve created.

For the immediate future, these personal websites will survive as reflections of the creators personality and as a home base to collect emails for a newsletter, but the financials have already shifted to YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon. And the writer-reader relationship will shift there if it hasn’t already.

While I can create notes and how-to posts reasonably quickly to meet seasonal questions a video takes three to four times longer to produce. 

And because I live out on an island, I can make and drink a pot of morning coffee in the time it takes to upload a video. 

Creators such as myself will adapt, remain a niche/cult or become irrelevant to crowd-sourced social media data.

And that my friends is where the net sits now. Imho.

What’s this mean for me? 

I can’t do it all. Nor do I want to anymore.

And this – the what, where and how much time –  is what I’m evaluating now.

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My guess – off the top of my head – is that Amazon ebooks will remain the most viable source of creator income for the immediate future. And it’s certainly my main creative focus at the moment.

I invite you to subscribe and follow along as I dissect the writing and creating worlds.

Don’t Start Your Seniors Fitness Program Like This

I started my Doug 5.0 seniors fitness programme off with a bang, setting the goals, starting the workouts, and learning (thanks to some introductory yoga videos), my body really wasn’t flexible.

At this point, I would have shared my goals with you. Indicated how many pushups, situps etc I was doing and inviting, encouraging you to join me at your own level.

Well….

My leg injury put me out of the picture for any kind of exercise – the pain was significant with just walking – never mind knee bends or supporting myself in pushup position.

The numbers of all those things are now zero or close enough to it that I’ve put that on my daily notes. I can do zero pushups, zero situps, zero squats, and …. You get the picture.

My fitness is so bad (and my leg still hurts a bit) that I hesitated to write this post, never mind share my embarrassing numbers. Seriously, I put off writing this post for as long as I could but then decided wtf, this is part of life so get over yourself and get on with it. In for a penny, in for a pound – as my grandmother used to say.

It’s Easy To Forget You’re A Senior

I forgot for a brief moment I was a senior and had to be kinder to myself (the little voice in my head has been unrelenting this past few weeks) when it came to limitations.

For example, here’s a link to my post on deconditioning or what happens when a senior loses fitness for any reason. I can confirm to you this process is very fast. Sigh…

A simple thing like my muscle sprain led me to lose a significant amount of muscle mass.

It’s humbling. Very humbling.

How’s The Leg?

It’s not 100% yet but I did start walking yesterday – it was sore afterwards and again this morning as I write – so I’m still taking it easy and not going for a fast walk (more like an amble) 🙂 But at least I rebooted the fitness project albeit at an extremely basic level.

In the coming weeks, I will (slowly, very slowly) expand the health and seniors fitness work and I’ll report on both the fitness and emotional impact of injuries “soon.”

You can follow along with this and other stories and “stuff” I write by clicking here

Setting The Objectives For Doug 5.0

So this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to write about doing a self-experiment and it’s quite another thing to post the starting points and report on the embarrassment of my lack of fitness.

The voice in the back of my head chuckles at my discomfort and points out the end points to this project will be different if I can keep my act together. And knowing I’m going to have to write and post both the successes and failures has a serious motivating effect.

Physical Objectives

These are the easiest to identify but potentially the most “interesting” to discuss.

Weight:

Back down to playing weight in university at 185 pounds but ideally anywhere below 180 to high school playing weight.

  • Currently 201 thanks to a year of Covid popcorn eating.

Note I have a mesomorphic body type (shorter, thicker). Think football running back rather than long-distance runner or basketball player. These types of body weights are almost always heavier than the recommended health guidelines for the age/sex your doctor will quote.

Fitness Targets

I have no idea where to begin on this so I’m picking what I hope are very low fitness numbers and working up from there.

I expect to exercise strength and cardio 3 times a week and do Yoga (flexibility) 5x week.

I’m keeping the numbers in old-fashioned paper notebooks on my desk and I’ll share them as I develop baselines and results.

Walking

I already have a walking routine so will continue doing approximately 2 miles a day for 5-7 days a week.

Dieting

I will eliminate snacks in the evening as a first step.

What about a “real” diet? Well, maybe. There are only so many changes I can realistically make in a short time. If you find yourself in this position you might want to read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear

Note, I’ve put this book on my reread pile and will review it shortly.

Common Problem:

A very common problem in these kinds of weight loss plans is to overestimate the weight loss you can achieve and underestimate the difficulty in achieving it.

And as I said above, taking on too many new habits in a short time is almost a recipe for failure.

The Real Objective

While the numbers are guesses, my real objectives for this first week or two are to

  1. establish the habit of exercising and
  2. avoid snacks.

The numbers will become relevant slowly but surely as the habit sinks into my daily routine and I find the appropriate workout levels.

I’ll report regularly on this adventure – and the amendments I make – just to keep myself honest.

Personal Update on Exercise Programme

I wrote this two weeks or so before it was published.

My fitness project took a whack when I blew out one part of my thigh-muscle (quadriceps) moving stone.

My “exercise” currently consists of: stair work (hobbling up and down stairs to my office) and deep knee bending (lowering myself gingerly onto the couch.) Oh, and there’s marathon hobbling to the refrigerator for a beer, high jumping onto a dining room chair for meals, and long distance running when I hobble out to the car to drive my sweetie for our shopping trips.

I’ll get back to you…

Join me for regular updates as I rebuild my fitness and health levels

Short And Sweet Still Rules

This is one of those double-edged sword things we think it’s really good for “other people” to learn.

Sigh…

I posted a story – a long story – about Fred and An Alligator.

  • The video I uploaded was long – about 16 minutes (speaking speed is approximately 100 words a minute) and it was too long as the stats were clear that nobody watched it right through to the end (at least until the date of this post.)
  • As it turns out, the majority of people didn’t read all the words in the complete story either as the “time on page” stats were far too short unless every one of you is a speed reader.

My guess is folks read the first paragraph or two and then scrolled to the bottom to read the ending.

So – it was a good lesson albeit a disappointing one.

Short and sweet still rules online

Onwards.

Learning Curve And Apology

There’s nothing quite like screwing up in public with my readers….

This morning (Oct 2) the first update from this unified site went out. So far so good.

We have three options for subscribing (dark, light and 5.0)

I clicked the buttons for all three assuming the software would send out one email to every individual on the list. (By the way – ever break down the word assume? (Ass of U and Me.)

That assumption was in error.

If you subscribed to two groups, you got two newsletters. In my case (and I suspect some of yours) three newsletters appeared in my inbox.

Humble Apologies

My apologies – really – for filling your inbox.

I console myself by repeating my common mantra – “If that’s the worst thing that happens today, life is good.”

Thanks for understanding.

Moving Forward

I’ll be creating individual newsletters for each group. A bit more work on my part but then each will be more useful.

And I won’t have to write apologies.

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