The Phone Stack

Here’s a good idea that should help me keep #2 of my December 2010 Resolutions.

Next time you are out for dinner with a group of friends, make everyone put their phones in the middle of the table (or someplace else where everyone can see them). The phones will buzz and ring throughout dinner. Whoever can’t resist temptation to check their messages or pick up their incoming calls picks up the tab.

“I recommend not being such a stickler or hardass on people about the rules and even initiation of the game. Basic premise is to just get people open to the idea of staying active and attentive to one another. But if someone has to take a call; they have to take a call =).”

{ Brian “Lil b” Perez }

If no one has touched their phones when the bill comes, everyone is a winner (and pays their own meal).

This would also work well as a bar game: whoever checks their phone pays the next round. Checking Twitter, Facebook or verifying facts through Wikipedia or IMDB counts too!

Further reading: “Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends.” – The locking life of Lil b

December first resolutions *follow-up

Last year, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I made December First Resolutions. I promised to follow up with a status report. I should have made a resolution to do so, because — of course — I never did.

So here we are over a year later, let’s see how I did.

1. Get up early. I’ve gotten better at this. Especially since I switched jobs. I get up between 7 and 7:15, most people would not consider that early, but for me it is.

2. Don’t take my phone everywhere. I failed miserably on this one. Especially if you consider the iPad to be as bad as the phone in this regard. Instead of using my phone, I now read the news, check email and twitter on my iPad during breakfast. If I could not check Twitter, Facebook or my email, I could justify this by saying reading the news on my iPad is like reading a newspaper. It’s the constant need to be ‘connected’ that is really the problem here. I try not to bring any iDevices to bed, which I’m good at, but while I’m up, I’m still much to attached to them. Darren Hoyt wrote a great blog post about this ‘issue’.

3. Move. Since I switched jobs, I’ve been walking or biking to work, which has helped me ‘move’ more. We also moved to Vermont, which means we can go for hikes, go skiing and enjoy the outdoors more easily. At work I still struggle to get up and move around at least once every hour or so. A desk job is a desk job no matter how motivated you are to not be sedentary.

4. Drink more water. This one has been hit and miss, some days I’ll be good at it, others I’ll completely forget. I’ve even gone so far as to install an app on my iPhone to remind me to drink water and get up and move around at random times. I’m using “Bloom”, which I don’t like at all and really isn’t what I need. If anyone has any tips on better apps to achieve this, please send them my way.

So if you are wondering where this year’s resolutions are; There are none, apart from trying to do better at the above listed ones.

Happy New Year!

Best of 2011

Like last year, I’m sharing my personal ‘Best of 2011’ list.

The format remains the same, no frills, no arguing the how or why. I didn’t want this post to become just a list of links, so you’ll have to Google or Bing your way to more information.

Music: Smoke Ring For My Halo – KURT VILE *Last minute discovery*
Honorable Mentions: Demolished Thoughts – THURSTON MOORE; Bon Iver – BON IVER 

Movie: Fiction > Black Swan – DARREN ARONOFSKY
Non-Fiction > Bill Cunningham New York – RICHARD PRESS

Book: Fiction > The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – MARK HADDON
Non-Fiction > Responsive Web Design – ETHAN MARCOTTE

App: Flipboard

Website: Poler’s Tumblr, I realize it’s a little weird to pick a Tumblr site as my favorite site of the year, but Tumblr really became hard to ignore in 2011 and Poler’s entire marketing strategy is just genius.

TV: Fiction > Mad Men (AMC)
Non-Fiction > Planet Earth (BBC)

That was 2011. Please share your ‘Best Of’ in the comments.  I’m sure there’s a lot I’ve missed.

Fall Three

It’s finally fall here in Vermont. It’s my first fall here and I’ve been told that it is – arguably – the best season here. I have to admit, it’s beautiful. I was never a big fan of the third season. Back in Belgium, it’s chilly and wet. I love summer for its warm weather, outdoor meals and swimming in oceans, lakes and rivers. I love winter for snow, winter sports and reading by an open fire. But fall? What’s so great about fall? Well, for starters, it’s not too cold yet to ride my bike, but it’s also not too warm to ride it hard. That’s a big plus. Another plus is that it’s chilly enough to wear more than shorts and a t-shirt but not cold enough to really bundle up and look like you fell into a pile of blankets and they all stuck to you (yes, that is how I dress in winter).

Obviously there’s much more to love about fall, the smells, the walks in the woods, pumpkin pie and October Fest seasonal beers. Over at Secret Forts, they understand this and so they’ve started a series called The Fall Three. It’s pretty cool, you should check it out, especially these two: Antony Crook and James Fox. Or maybe go for a walk in the woods instead.

Further Reading: Secret Forts and 10engines (where I first heard about the series)

Best of 2010

They are a huge cliche, but I love them and this year I’m contributing to the culture by submitting my own: This Year’s Best Of List.
I’ve listed my favorites for a few media categories and, where appropriate, I’ve separated fiction from non-fiction.  Without further ado:

Music: The Way Out – THE BOOKS

Movie: Fiction > The Secret in their Eyes – JUAN JOSE CAMPANELLA
Non-Fiction > Touching the Void – KEVIN MACDONALD

Book: Fiction > Let the Great World Spin – COLUM McCANN
Non-Fiction > The Lost City of Z – DAVID GRANN (notice how having a name that ends with a double n really helps your chances in this category)
Honorable mention (Flemish) > De Laatste Liefde van Mijn Moeder – DIMITRI VERHULST

App: Instapaper

Website: This one is hard…  There is such a wide range of websites that I enjoy: New York Times, McSweeneys, The Selvedge Yard, etc.  It feels like comparing apples to oranges to pick a favorite.  But the first one that came to mind was BikeEXIF, so let’s just keep it at that.

TV: Fiction > True Blood (HBO)
Non-Fiction > Circus (PBS)
Honorable mention (Flemish) > Van Vlees en Bloed (VRT)

That’s it!  Please share your ‘Best Of’ in the comments!  I’d love to know.  Feel free to add your own categories too.