Saturday, October 31, 2020

How to Customize Your Google News Feed [video included]

Google's controls help you customize your news feed!

Did you ever find yourself scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook or Instagram or Twitter feed and ask yourself, "Why am I wasting time doing this?" Given the rich potential of the world wide web, it's silly to spend so much time on what amounts to chasing gossip. Why not leverage the web's potential to help you be "always learning" about stuff that interests you?

With your Google news feed it's easy to generate a custom-tailored stream of interesting and challenging content. It just takes a little interactive pruning!  Here's how it works.

Google has arguably produced the most powerful search engine ever. And as you use it, Google builds a profile of your interests based on your search terms and browsing history. For the most part, these Google algorithms chug along quietly in the background, suggesting news items in your feed to match your unique interests. But, if you're like me, you sometimes find yourself wishing you could fine tune those algorithms to get more accurate suggestions or push them to go off in search of new areas of interest. 

The good news is that Google has built in a bunch of simple controls you can use to teach the Google algorithms how to serve you best. The video below introduces:
  • The "More or Less" toggle
  • The 3-dot "follow or hide" menu
  • The "Manage Interests" controls

It's amazing how interesting and inspiring it can be to get a regular news feed focusing on a few topics that you really care about -- especially when the alternative is watching people in your social media zones rant and complain.  So why not leverage the power of Google's news feed to keep you "always learning" and positively engaged?

Saturday, September 19, 2020

An Appeal to My Republican Friends & Family Members: Please Don't Vote for Donald Trump

(Image from article "Is An Insane President The Result Of A Society Losing Its Mind?" from

Dear Republican Friends & Family

I am writing to appeal to your patriotism and your humanity and ask you to NOT vote for Donald Trump. If the Republican Party had nominated Marco Rubio, George Bush, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz... indeed, pretty much anyone you can think of, I would not be making this personal appeal to you. But this is an emergency. 

Donald Trump's presidency has a track record. He is no longer an outsider thumbing his nose at the elite and promising to shake things up. We've seen, first hand, how he works and the chaos he creates. His presidency is profoundly divisive, literally lethal to our health and safety and threatens the rule of law and foundations of our democracy.  In any other election, as you know, I would noisily advocate for my party, but I would not ask you outright not to vote for your party's candidate. But this is different. We, together as American citizens, are facing an existential threat. 

I am not asking you to change political parties. I'm just asking you to join many, many of your fellow Republicans who oppose this lethal president. Look at this Who's Who of Republicans who refuse to support his re-election:

• Former Secretaries of Defense Colin Powell, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel & Jim Mattis
• Former PA Gov. & Sec of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
• Former Governors John Kasich (OH) & Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA)
• Michael Steele (former Republican Party Chairman)
• Senator Mitt Romney
• Former Senators Jeff Flake & John Warner
• Former US Rep (PA) Charlie Dent
• ... and many, many more. 

You can see the long list of others here at this apolitical, fact-based Wikipedia page: "List of Republicans who oppose the 2020 Donald Trump presidential campaign"

And also there's this this article from Forbes:  "All The Republicans Who Have Endorsed Joe Biden For President"

Among the people who have worked in the Trump administration and have seen his methods and character first hand, there are many who are actively supporting Joe Biden. Think of it! What a potentially career-ending risk these GOP folks are taking to abandon Trump and support Biden!  It's a real measure of the powerful negative impact of working with Trump and seeing him up close and personal.

Trump's former Defense Secretary & ex-Marine Jim Mattis has called Trump "a threat to the Constitution..." See this brief article for the positions of some of the other former administration officials:

And then there are the many members of the military who are growing weary of their Commander in Chief. See:  "Half of the Military Disapproves of Trump as Commander in Chief: Poll

And many of the evangelicals who once supported him are growing tired of Trump. Billy Graham's granddaughter says, "By supporting Donald Trump, evangelical leaders are failing us and failing the Gospel. Christian women must step up where our church leaders won't."  See this article in USA Today:  "I'm Billy Graham's granddaughter. Evangelical support for Donald Trump insults his legacy." 

Finally, you can listen to the voices and see the despair and disgust on the faces of ordinary Republican citizens like yourselves, including many veterans, as they explain their opposition to Trump in this Republican Voters Against Trump YouTube Channel.

If you have read this far, Thank You!  Please consider checking out some of the respected sources above. And please DO NOT VOTE for another four years of this chaos. 

I deeply believe that to vote for Trump is to endanger all our lives by the immediate threat of Trump's continuing bungled response to the pandemic (nearly 200,000 U.S. dead and counting!!) and the longer-term threat to our democracy and rule of law. But you don't have to take my word for it. Just listen to some of those powerful GOP leaders identified above.

Thanks for your consideration,

P.S. - Feel free to forward this letter to anyone, particularly any Republican of good conscience, who might join us in doing the right thing in this election. 

Related Posts from the Archives

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Little Happiness from the Archives!

Times are tough right now. And we're all struggling to find a little happiness amidst a pandemic, wild and unpredictable weather events, a polarized presidential election, all sorts of nastiness from media talking heads and, sadly, sniping among friends in our social media. So how can we find happiness amidst this chaos?  

Strange but true: Scientists believe that happiness is a skill that can be learned... and like any skill, with practice, you can get better and better at it! Check out this three-part series of articles (loaded with links to free stuff!) from the archives and learn how you can learn the skill of being happy. Enjoy!




Friday, July 24, 2020

Get award-winning movies & TV shows, audio books, graphic novels, & ebooks FREE (no ads!) from your local library.

Rare, festival-quality films, blockbuster movies & TV shows, best selling digital and audio books, even graphic novels -- you can get all these free from your local library!  All you need is your free library card and the free Libby, Kanopy and Hoopla apps. 

Here's how it works: Libby, Kanopy and Hoopla are services that have set up relationships with most libraries to stream content to their library card holders. Since we are already supporting our local public libraries with our taxes or our college and university libraries with our fees, we can get all this content for free and with no ads or commercials!* 

So why pay to stream a movie? Why buy a book or graphic novel? Why not borrow and return them for free? Your library card and these apps will get you connected.

Your Golden Ticket: A Free Library Card

To get started, you'll need at least one library card** and your matching user ID, pin number or other account info. This is probably the only time that you'll be required to physically show up at your library. They'll want to see your driver's license or other documents to confirm your identity before they give you your card. After that, you can do the rest online from the comfort of your home. (TIP: While you're there, ask the librarian if the library has a relationship with Libby, Kanopy or Hoopla and ask if they have any advice for you about setting up the services.)

Libby: The Reading (and Audio Book) App

Using the Libby app on your phone or tablet you can download and read ebooks or listen to audio books. Depending on your library's rules, you can keep a book for up to two weeks, though you're typically able to renew it if you need more time. The app itself is feature-rich and really easy to use. And you can set it up to draw from more than one library if you have multiple library cards. You can use either the Libby app to read your downloaded books or, if you prefer, switch to your Kindle app. From within the app you can search each of your registered libraries for a book, reserve it, download it, read or listen to it, set bookmarks, highlight text and more. Check out the links below for more info.

More Info: 

Kanopy: Great Movies, Documentaries & Hard-to-Find Films

This is the app for film buffs, self-directed learners and popcorn-on-the-couch movie fans! You can use it on all all of your mobile devices or fire up that big, beautiful TV and stream HD through your Roku app or Chromecast.

The San Francisco Public Library summarizes:  "Kanopy is an award-winning, on-demand streaming video platform for public libraries and universities that offers access to more than 30,000 independent and documentary films ─  titles of unique social and cultural value from The Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, Media Education Foundation, and thousands of independent filmmakers."  - SF Public Library FAQ  

More Info:  

Hoopla: All of the Above, Plus Music, TV Shows & Graphic Novels

From the Hoopla website:  "Hoopla is a groundbreaking digital media service offered by your local public library that allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics [graphic novels] and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, or phone – and even your TV!"

Think of it this way: Hoopla provides the same categories of media as Libby and Kanopy, plus music, TV shows and graphic novels!  What's more, it has a special Kids section with loads of boredom killers for your kids. While it's available via an app on all your portable devices, you can also stream the treasures you find via the Roku app, Chromecast, Fire, Apple TV & other devices.

More Info:


* The number of media items you can borrow in a given period (week, month, etc.) will vary depending on your library's rules and the contract restrictions placed on them by Kanopy or Hoopla. Libby automatically limits your downloads based on your library's rules.

** Don't have a library card? 

I hear you! I was raised in the country, far from the many libraries that are easily accessible to us city folk. However, as a country kid I learned, much to my delight, that many nearby cities, counties or even larger state regions allow people to use their libraries free of charge, as neighbors and citizens of those broader areas. What's more, some local college and university libraries have community outreach programs that allow the public to use their services. So... If you don't have a library nearby, do a Google search for "closest public library" and see what you find. It may be worth a bit of a road trip to get hooked up with a shiny new library card and, in turn, one of the free services described here. (But don't forget to call ahead & tell them what you are looking for.) Good luck!


Related Articles: 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

White folks: It's time to go beyond "not a racist" & become actively anti-racist.

My inspiration: Black Lives Matter activist Janee (say "Jahnay")


Two events inspired this post:

1) The sickening video of police officer Derek Chauvin slowly crushing the life out of a handcuffed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. I've seen that look before on the face of a hunter crouching over a mortally wounded deer, waiting patiently for it to die. But how could this be happening to a human?

2) The relentless determination of a local Black Lives Matter activist named Janee (pronounced "Jahnay"). Day after day, week after week, despite having two jobs, she makes time to show up on a busy local street corner, sometimes with her comrades, sometimes all alone. She holds a sign that says simply, "Be anti-racist." Drivers passing by honk their horns in support. At first "be anti-racist" seemed to me a rather understated admonition. But as I would come to learn, it is meant to emphasize action, rather than merely holding good thoughts.

Passing Janee on this street corner every day on my cardio walk, I shared brief conversations with her. I encouraged her activism and expressed my support in spirit, which she welcomed. Then one day she suggested I check out the book: "White Fragility..." I Googled it and began watching YouTube videos with the author and others explaining the concept. At first I found it to be abstract and difficult to relate to. And I told myself this surely didn't apply to me. But eventually something shifted and I absorbed this powerful truth: For white folks, simply being "not racist" is next to useless... In fact, it can be an impediment to true racial justice. What really matters is that we "be anti-racist." The former ("not racist") is a benign state of being. The latter ("be anti-racist") is all about taking action -- changing the status quo that has allowed America's white supremacy to manifest in subtle, and not so subtle, forms for over 400 years.

But talk is cheap. Words are easy. At this important moment in our history I want to share some specific, observable actions we can all take to help change this. The 4-step "To-Do" list below is inspired by my journey along Janee's suggested path to "be anti-racist." I know I'll be doubling back and repeating some of these as I try to grow into a new consciousness. In the meantime, I hope they help inspire you to start on your own path to "be anti-racist."

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Annual Memorial Day Post: To Honor Fallen Warriors, Stop Glorifying War & Become an Activist for Peace [with Links to Many Resources]

Cover image from the enlightening website,
"War is a Crime: A Blog About a Criminal Enterprise

As a “baby boomer” growing up in the United States, I’ve lived through many, many Memorial Day commemorations and solemn memorial services. And as the years pass, I’m growing less patient with our tolerance for war. For example, has anyone really noticed that we’ve been both killing and being killed for nearly 17 years in Afghanistan? Probably few US citizens could tell you how long we’ve been in that far-away land, why we are there and if we’re making any “progress,” despite all the death, destruction, and maimings. After all, there’s no military draft that reaches into all American households and pulls out soldiers, no “war taxes,” and generally no real “skin in the game” for most of us. Aside from having our airwaves a bit cluttered with Memorial Day speeches, we are mostly able to put this messy war stuff out of our minds.

Now most of the time I try to keep these articles positive, practical or uplifting. But here I’m going to stretch things a bit and include what we old liberals call “consciousness raising.” In that spirit I’m going to share some stuff here that will help you ponder why it is we can’t seem to quit fighting and then learn how you might take action to stop the senseless killing of our kids.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Those Spring Flowers: Pointless Bursts of Color or Anchors to the Here & Now?

2019's "superbloom" of California poppies near
Lake Elsinore blankets the mountainsides with dancing colors

It's that time of year again (at least in much of the Northern Hemisphere). Out of the gray of winter, against a backdrop of dead grasses, winter-worn leaves and bare branches, flowers pop out at us, clamoring for attention. They tease us with noisy bursts of color that don't seem to have any purpose.  "Hey, I'm over here!" they demand. "It's spring and it's warming up and I'm beautiful and it's great to be alive!" Their crazy, random shaped heads bob and jiggle around in the warm, moist breezes. Some last a few weeks, while others shrivel and die after a mere day or two.

In A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, Eckhart Tolle explains how these little colored marvels have helped shape humanity's perceptions:
"As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose... not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a silent sermon once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it."
And how can flowers teach us how to live? By grabbing our attention and, however briefly, slamming us into the here and now. Their ephemeral beauty touches something deep within us... something that is beyond words... something that compels attention and focus... something that invites us into the present moment.

And then, soon enough, our faces turn away, disappearing into our digital screens. Then our brains disappear into those mini-dramas from work or some talking head's political narrative or celebrity "news," and on and on and on. Eventually, our consciousness is completely consumed by the neverending ping's and dings of the gossip stream that is the news or Facebook or Instagram or... [insert your favorite gif-bedecked screen addiction here.]

How about you? Did you notice that short-lived flower you walked past today? Did you catch that beautiful smile that someone beamed at you? Did you really hear and process that thing your kid said that seemed to make him so giggly? Did you look into your dog's eyes when she wagged her tail at you and connect with her unrestrained love? These are examples of NOW moments. Follow the flowers to connect with your own ephemeral NOW moments and connect with your own life aliveness before it fades.

(Bonus: Online Google photo album:
Virtual Flowers for My WORTH SHARING Readers 
-- I shot all these at or near my home in Southern CA.)

Related Stuff from the Archives: 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Got downtime? Teach yourself project management with these free videos and tools!

The Situation: You've Got Lots of Down Time & A Great Big Brain to Feed!

As noted in my last article, the vast majority of my fellow Americans -- indeed, people from all over the world -- have been stopped in their tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic. We've been asked to stay home from our jobs and schools and generally "hide out" at home to help stop the spread of this horrible and deadly disease. And you can only spend so much time on YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, etc. until you go numb! So why not teach yourself something valuable so that when you emerge from your cave... and you will eventually emerge!... you will have some "added value" in the workplace?  And project management (PM) is one skill set that provides lots of value in almost any industry!

The Overall Approach: Keep It Simple... Become a PM Minimalist! 

Project Management (PM) Minimalism is the practice of doing “just enough” PM to get the job done, and no more. PM Minimalism may be applied to any project in any industry or professional practice. It's up to you to decide what “just enough” PM is for your particular project, in your unique organization. The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects! provides lean, simple, and professional-level PM tools and guidelines to help you make this decision and run a Minimalist project. (*NOTE: Amazon, my book distributor, won't let me list this book in their catalog at a price of $0.00 [FREE!], as I would like to do. So I set it up for sale at the absolute minimum price they allow, which is $2.99 for the Kindle, $6.99 paperback. But honestly -- you don't need to buy the book to get a whole bunch of valuable stuff that you can use to teach yourself PM Minimalism.... See below...)

The Video Series: An In-depth Overview of PM & PM Minimalism

These free videos are short and sweet and matched to the book... but you don't need the book to get a lot out of them! They'll allow you to just kick back and ease into project management and PM Minimalism.

The PM Minimalist Support System & Freebies (Lotsa Good Stuff!)

Inspired by the videos to go a little deeper? This is a HUGE collection of mostly free stuff to help you learn and apply PM Minimalism, coach/lead your project team and even create a do-it-yourself PM Minimalist workshop. There are PDF reference tools, audios, coaching guides and all sorts of useful materials to help anyone who is new to PM get their project up and running immediately.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Bored passively consuming content? Feeling anxious? Maybe it's time to create something!

“Get busy. Keep busy… Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking, and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind.”  - Dale Carnegie

How much Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram & news can you consume?!

As I write this, the vast majority of my fellow Americans -- indeed, people from all over the world -- have been stopped in their tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic. We've been asked to stay home from our jobs and schools, stop eating in restaurants or bars and generally avoid participating in any kind of real-world groups in order to help stop the spread of this horrible and deadly disease. We're asked to maintain "social distancing" on our essential trips out for supplies and to practice "self-isolation" at home.

Fortunately, in our internet connected world, we can stay safely in touch with each other online. And, what's more, we can pass hours and hours every day consuming unlimited stuff from 24/7 news outlets, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  But there is a limit to how much time you can spend zoned out on media and messages created by other people! Eventually you'll experience the mental equivalent of eating 10 bags of potato chips in one sitting. At first it seems fun to indulge, but you soon hit a wall when you realize that stuffing yourself isn't all that satisfying! (In fact, too much passive media watching has been associated with depression!)

Maybe it's time to create something.

Human beings are naturally creative. Give a kid a box of crayons and she'll create a picture. Give another kid a kazoo and he'll invent a song. We tell stories, we invent solutions to problems that are bothering us, we explore and learn new things so we can create more stuff. Some mystics and philophers go so far as to say that the act of creation taps into a universal Source energy which then flows through us, putting us in touch with the infinite. Whatever the roots of our creative experience, there's something deeply satisfying about bringing forth something that did not exist before. And that satisfaction is WAY deeper than anything we can experience binge-watching melodramas and cat videos!

So if you find yourself on lockdown at home, why not call on your inherent creativity (yes... it's really there whether you are using it or not...) and create something new?

Just do it!

Here are some examples of home-based projects that could get your creative juices flowing and result in something that would bring you satisfaction and other people enjoyment:

Bonus Materials: A Couple of Pep Talks for the Creatively Challenged

If you feel a bit hesitant to jump right into that creative project, maybe a quick pep talk (in essay form) might help.  In my book, Worth Sharing: Essays & Tools to Help Project Managers and Their Teams, I include a couple that might help you get unstuck. You can download them via the links below as PDFs.  Or you can read them here, in the free online version of the book.  Enjoy!

Why You Should Trust Your Judgment (Your Inner "Wisdom Filter)

Are you afraid that your creative output won't matter? ... that it's not really worth anything? This essay will prove to you that you have much wisdom and that you can trust that wisdom to be valuable, grasshopper!

PDF:  Why You Should Trust Your Judgment (Your Inner "Wisdom Filter)

Leveraging Inspiration: 10 Simple Practices to Keep Your Creative Output Flowing

This practical essay will show you 10 specific things you can do to catch all those flashes of inspiration before they get away so you can pull them together later into something wonderful.  Get the PDF here.

Video Bonus

Finally, consider this little video: Time & Space to Blossom. I created it a few years ago for absolutely no reason. It was fun to build and it makes me happy when I watch it. Enjoy!

Related Articles from the Archives