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I'm a geek working as a distance learning specialist for a large corporation.

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My wife can't figure out what I do online for hours at a time. I can't blame her for being confused. Sometimes I don't even know how so much timeWhat's in YOUR browser?

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What I’ve been thinking

I’ve been quiet on here for a couple weeks due to some time pressures. Lots to do during the lead-up to Christmas, as I’m sure you can all understand. I had it all planned out – a full week of vacation to get it all done – but then some problems at work forced me to give up most of my “free” time. The week after Christmas was spent running around to stores with gift exchange related activities and trying to catch up on my online reading.

Basically, I’ve been too tired to blog.

But as I said, I have been reading, and I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff. I thought the last day of the year should be a good time to throw my thoughts at you once again. Here are some of the topics I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • Materialism - most of us get more stuff than we need at Christmas, and spend more than we should getting things for others. And yet we usually still want more. That’s just stupid. (Related thoughts)
  • Money - partly due to the above, and just as a condition of where I am in life right now, getting serious about personal finance is becoming a major topic for me. “It’s about time,” my father would probably say. He’s right, too. It’s not like I’ve been irresponsible, but the fact is I’ve made a couple big mistakes and then had a couple surprises foisted upon me in the last few years. I’m still doing okay, but definitely need to change my path. It’s starting to work, too. My net worth curve has recently started to curve in the right direction again.
  • Children - I have two young children that (happily) occupy a lot of my time. I’m frequently amazed at what they learn, and at what they teach me.
  • Influence - I recognized years ago that people have a larger influence on others than they realize, both directly and indirectly. The easiest example to give you would be the overplayed, but excellent, movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart. (If you’re one of the three people on the planet who haven’t seen it, basically, this guy wishes he’d never been born, and an angel lets him see what the world would have been like without him. Major changes happen.) Little things you say and do can have large influences on others, especially if you are seen by them as an authority figure. If you think no one cares what you do – you’re wrong. Someone sees you as either a positive or negative example in their life, and is influenced by your words and actions, whether you’re aware of it or not. If you’re a parent, for instance, your influence extends far beyond the obvious impact you have on your children. Here are a few examples: your children’s friends, other parents, young couples thinking about parenting who see you interacting with your children in a store, your children’s teachers, your co-workers, your relatives, the people your children will meet when they get older – and indirectly, the people all of the above meet. Your world isn’t as small as you think.
  • Influence II – Mass Media – In many ways, mass media runs our lives. It’s scary.
  • TV - Heroes (don’t forget to read the online comics!), Battlestar Galactica (new night and time!), 24 (2 night/4 hour premiere!), and Smallville (Jan 11th at 8pm!) are all returning in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to all of them, among others. A lot of people laugh when I say I watch Smallville, but it really is a well made show. It has been great to watch the characters develop through the seasons into the icons we all know.
  • Talents - How do we encourage the building of talents in ourselves and others? I started thinking about that with respect to my children, but then realized it applied to me as well. I know I have talents that haven’t really been developed, and I’d like to start. I want to help my kids identify their talents and encourage them appropriately.
  • Technology - this is very close to the antithesis of my first point above, but I really want a computer upgrade and a few other gadgets for the house. The only reason I’m holding off is my second point. I can’t justify spending close to $1000 (on the low end) for stuff I don’t really need, however much I might want them. I am getting to the point, though, where I have to rebuild my current machine. Wacky stuff is happening periodically and it just needs a good “cleaning” to straighten it out. I’ve put it off for a long time because I hate going through the hassle of reinstalling Windows, then all the patches, then all the software. Plus I keep thinking I’m going to lose data because I forgot to back up a certain directory that looked unimportant at the time but actually holds all my “save games” or config files or plug-ins or something. (The technology problem that truly bugs me, though, is at work. My current laptop just isn’t doing the job for me anymore and my IT team refuses to believe me and order me a new system, even though my boss is willing to fork over the dough. I can’t even get them to replace my fuzzy monitor.)
  • Learning technology – with the merger of NETg and SkillSoft earlier this year, the content provider space now has a huge new leader. I hope it works out for customers as well as it should. I also hope to be able to focus more on blending the formal and informal learning opportunities that are out there. I’d love to start using wikis for some documentation projects, discussion groups for distance training, and podcasts for on-demand information, for example.
  • Vacation - I need a real one. One where I go somewhere else and don’t worry about work. Preferably for a month (yeah, right). But then… see the second point above. It’s hard to go anywhere without spending at least a couple hundred dollars. Eh… maybe in 2008.

So there you have it. Some of the topics I’ve been thinking about lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them become posts of their own next year. And I’ll still have movie and tv reviews up from time to time (though I seem to be the only person who reads those). For what it’s worth, I’m also thinking about making some new static pages on the site.

What thoughts have occupied your minds these last few weeks? What’s important to you? Drop a comment and let me know (comments are moderated and may not appear immediately).

I hope you all enjoy your New Years celebrations! Welcome, 2007!

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