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Drift Bottles

I’ve never found a message in a bottle. Granted, I’m not going to the beach daily, and most of the time when I’m on the beach, other people are on the beach, too. So there may have been bottles and someone else grabbed it before I could see it. But… I’ve never found one and this guy has found 1200.

I really love that he writes back. And that there is a whole world of drift bottles out there, and I only had the vaguest notion that this was a thing. Something people looked for and collected or sent out to see if their message will be returned.

A first blog post feels a little bit like sending a drift bottle into the vast internet sea. You write it, wondering if anyone will read it. And then one day a comment pops up on the page; human contact letting you know that you’ve been found. Heard.

Am I the only person out there who has never found a message in a bottle? Or do you have a good message-in-a-bottle story??

December 12, 2017   8 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 172: Coolest Store Ever

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I have found my dream store.

It’s an Alice in Wonderland-themed store aimed at giving you a very Alice-like experience from the moment you attempt to enter the building.  Yes, the Alice-themed store in Oxford sort of brings you into that Wool and Water world, but… not like this.

The issue is that this store is in Japan.

That is the problem with Atlas Obscura.  It tells you about these really cool spaces in other parts of the world, and then crushes your heart when you realize that you may never get to experience it.  It’s a store, after all, and by the time I make it to Tokyo, this place could be closed.

What cool spaces have you read about on the Internet that you want to visit?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.


December 11, 2017   12 Comments

Immortality

If you want a good cry (and I don’t know why the hell you wouldn’t want a good cry — I aim for several each day), try this article about a son immortalizing his father after his cancer diagnosis.

I know I write about chatbots and immortality a lot, and I am clearly on the side of record, record, record.  But I felt myself getting weepy in the first part of the story, when he is making the audio recordings.

The ChickieNob and I have been working on an enormous family tree, stretching back and out and down again through seven generations.  It fills a room when you unfold all the pieces.  Along the way, she has done a few recordings, and our goal has been to get a recording of everyone in the family.

Two of the first recordings were of my great-aunt and Josh’s grandmother, both older women so I knew our time was limited, but recorded years ago when they were both well.  We sat with an early copy of the family tree and had them look at the names and tell us stories.

When my great-aunt passed away, I was able to send the recording to her sons, giving them this tiny new piece of their mother with her laugh and vocal quirks.

Maybe it’s less creepy than a chatbot that is guessing how the person would speak if they were still alive.  No, you can’t ask the person more questions, but you can guess at answers and hear their voice and close your eyes and pretend they’re in the room.

I guess that is my goal this winter: To make more recordings.  To gather more stories.  To keep people here.

December 10, 2017   8 Comments

672nd Friday Blog Roundup

I got a winter coat.  I’ve been getting by with a Polartec pullover for the last 20+ years.  When I say “getting by,” I mean, not going outside because it’s too cold.  But here’s the thing: I also didn’t believe that a coat would make a big difference.  You see those pictures of scientists working at the South Pole and they are all wearing coats but look very cold.  Like ice-crystals-in-their-beard cold.  Even with a coat AND a hat.

But I’ve had my mind changed by currently-nameless-but-you-know-I’m-going-to-name-it coat.  It’s ultralight and silky.  Like I’ll be talking to people and the Wolvog will point out that I am mindlessly rubbing my hand up and down my arm because it deliciously feels like I’m wrapped up in a wearable sleeping bag.  And it’s warm!  I guess I forgot that DC isn’t as cold as the South Pole so the average coat probably does keep a person warm in this climate.

The best part about my coat?  It has this zipper that you open on the inside of the coat, and that pocket turns into a little pouch.  When you enter a building, you can stuff your coat into the attached pouch and the whole thing becomes small enough to throw into your purse.

I’d like to apologize to my mother for agitating her for the past 20 years by showing up in a Polartec pullover.  I’ve been converted.  I’m a coat-wearer now.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

If you only read one thing this week, please let it be this essay in the Washington Post about the loss of a child from an accidental overdose.  Did you know that time-release pills will slowly continue to affect a person even if she throws them up?  I didn’t.  That due to the nature of the pills, the person could look fine for hours and no one would suspect what happened?  I am a careful person — an overly careful person — but not when it comes to medication.  Until now.

Not a Wasted Word has a post about the weight of words unsaid.  She writes, “I cried, and I felt ashamed for the tears I shed. I hadn’t realized the weight of so many things left unarticulated. There is much I don’t say, for fear… of what exactly I do not know.  The fear you cannot name is the most terrifying of all.”  It’s a well-said statement of words released.

Lastly, No Kidding in NZ was interviewed last Saturday in a newspaper magazine feature as well as an online copy.  It’s a fantastic magazine cover, and if you click over, you get to hear Mali’s accent.  What?  Is that shallow that I relished the important message of the piece AND her accent?  In any case, it’s a very well-written article.

The roundup to the Roundup: Coats really work!  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between December 1st and 8th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

December 8, 2017   12 Comments

BATNA and WATNA

I was recently in a sticky social situation, being asked to do something that I’m not comfortable doing or risk losing out on an opportunity.  (Think of it like being told you have to swim in a bathtub full of crickets or lose your spot in your weekly Bunco game, except there was no bathtub, crickets, or Bunco.)

I felt ill about the decision and then decided that even though Morra Aaron-Mele’s book, Hiding in the Bathroom, is about navigating the workplace as an introvert, social situations were also sort of a negotiation.  So I flipped to the chapter on negotiations to see if there was anything in there I could use and kept re-reading the section on BATNA.

BATNA stands for best alternative to a negotiated agreement.  So the next best thing if the negotiation doesn’t succeed.  What will I be left with, and do I actually like that thing just as much as the thing I’m negotiating.  This is important to know because you shouldn’t accept something worse than your BATNA.  You may already have something in-hand or close to in-hand that you like as much as or more than the thing you’re negotiating for.  Get it?  Because we sometimes get stuck in the thrill of the negotiation and don’t really consider what we actually want.  It’s about moving away from being fueled by the desire to win and instead focusing on getting what I want.

It resonated with me because… I am someone who doesn’t really consider her BATNA very often.  Plan B’s, yes, but I consider Plan B’s to be the thing that happens because Plan A didn’t happen.  And that is very different from BATNA.  BATNA is about making the conscious choice to remove yourself from a negotiation, to move yourself towards something else BEFORE it has been decided for you.  It’s the most powerful space in a negotiation because you’re willing to walk away.  You acknowledge there is something else that is different but equally good, and you’re not willing to settle on winning the negotiation by actually losing your happiness (or money or something else) in the process.

Has there ever been an idea more applicable to negotiating family building?  Negotiating with your body or with an adoption agency or with a sperm bank?  Negotiating with doctors or your partner or your family or society?  How brave is it to pull back as you negotiate that world and make a real decision.  What is my family building BATNA?  What am I willing to negotiate away because I get something better in return?  What am I not willing to part with because it would leave me in a worse spot?

WATNA is the opposite — the worst alternative to a negotiated agreement.  The worst that can happen if you lose the negotiation.  Returning to my situation, I looked at the worst case scenario and went pretty far down that rabbit hole.  But if I’m being honest and I pause in a realistic space instead of entertaining one of the unlikely, doomsday scenarios I found down the rabbit hole, my worst isn’t that bad.  In fact, it has a lot of good things, too.

The point of BATNA and WATNA is not just to define in your mind what you want.  It’s to make yourself an equal partner in a negotiation*.  It’s recognizing your power by setting your limits.  And my limits don’t include swimming in bathtubs with crickets.  Not even for a weekly Bunco game.  Defining that in my mind and realizing I was willing to walk away because I had something else equally good let me get a good night’s sleep.

I hope this helps you get a good night’s sleep, too.

* What also helped was taking a closer look at what each of us brought to the table.  I brought a batch of my chocolate chip cookies to the game each week, and everyone raved about them.  It became a joke when I walked into the house and everyone would shout, “The cookies are here!”  Whereas they brought the dice and folding tables.  So when you look at it that way, they had more to lose.  Yes, there are other desserts, but without me, they didn’t have my chocolate chip cookies.  Whereas they brought the bunco.  I can get bunco elsewhere — there are a zillion weekly games in the area — but they cannot get my cookies elsewhere.  Maybe they don’t care about my cookies and don’t mind losing them because they’re fine with Shirley’s snickerdoodles, so I’m not saying that my cookies are worth more.  But they sort of are because one side has something unique and the other side has something that is technically obtainable elsewhere.  Anyway, this framing also helped me consider myself an equal partner who could set limits and knew what would happen next if I walked away.

December 6, 2017   7 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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