Everyday Adventures

Adventures

6:15. Alarm sings joyfully. I wake up, brush my teeth, put my clothes on, kiss my wife. I grab my lunch and backpack, go out, walk to work. I work, eat lunch, work more. I walk home, eat dinner, play with my baby daughter. I skype with parents, help daughter shower, kiss my wife goodnight. I fall asleep. Rinse and repeat.

People find life monotonous. And for very good reasons, too. There is not much to it. You study, get married, work, raise children, pay bills – all struggling through. Of course, there are others whose lives are full of adventures, happenings and explorations. But you just do not have the time for anything beyond what is in your pockets, right?

Recently, I realised, though: if I want my life to become more flamboyant, I need to challenge myself daily. Because at the core of all adventures, there lie challenges to your body or mind.

So I started thinking of how I can challenge myself. Making my hemispheres collide sounded like a good idea and I came up with heaps of things I could do to make daily routines more interesting. It takes literally a couple of minutes a day to come up with at least a dozen of ideas to make your life more exuberant than it seems today. Here are six examples (that work for me) just to get you started.

1. Newbie

Difficulty level: ★☆☆☆☆☆

Take another route to and/or from work. Notice how you’ve never seen this tree here or that building there before. Stop to look at the pond you never stopped at to see if ducks still float or look at the flower box you never counted the flowers in. Dare yourself to experience your daily routines without going through the motions.

2. Elementary

Difficulty level: ★★☆☆☆☆

Swap the pockets. Whatever you carry in them, that is. Put your small belongings in all the new places. Do you carry coins in the front left pocket, keys in the front right, wallet in the back left and some junk in the back right? Move everything around and see if you can find your keys when you need them.

3. Pre-intermediate

Difficulty level: ★★★☆☆☆

Walk backwards up and down the stairs without looking backwards or ahead um, wherever you need to go. There are always stairs around. No stairs in sight? Walk backwards around your house or backyard. In any case, be extremely careful, lest you should step on the rake. It hurts whichever end of your head you hit with the handle.

4. Intermediate

Difficulty level: ★★★★☆☆

Turn your mouse 90 degrees and go surfing the Internets. Open a browser, a word-processing program or even a photo-editing monster and feel the difference. For the shortcutting cheaters or trackpad users: turn whatever you use to interact with the machine 180 degrees. Feel the difference now?

5. Upper-intermediate

Difficulty level: ★★★★★☆

Write a love letter. No, not a love e-mail. A real-life letter on a real-life piece of paper. First, take the pen. Ready? Now, switch hands! That’s right! See if your loved one appreciates your scribbled handwriting. Don’t have a loved one? Write a letter to your manager. Or landlord. Tell them how awesome you think they are.

6. Advanced

Difficulty level: ★★★★★★

Try finding flaws in you. Hard to think of any? Ask your spouse, children or parents. They’ll know. Having too many flaws to count? Focus on the first three. Now, take a flaw and make a list of five things you have to do to kill it. Let the five things be like chain links that loop over five months, one measure a month.

Important: never ever stay satisfied with where you are. When you are done mastering your challenges, there will always be new ones to face.

Do you have other ideas for challenges? Share them with me on Twitter or in the comments below!

(Photo courtesy of Anne Roberts.)

One letter

Everyone knew I was different. Special even. I knew English like no one else in the class. Indeed, the whole school. Or even neighbourhood. People called me names. Names like “genius”. No, not bullying around. Just stating the obvious, I guess. But with no admiration either. And not without envy or annoyance.

During my several years of school, we had many teachers of English. I can now remember at least ten to twelve different people trying to teach me their philological proficiency. It is hard to explain the fluidity of personnel. Maybe that was the point? Or maybe they did not see it?

The teachers were glad and supportive. They liked me. Most of the time, at least. Especially in the rare occasions of my making a mistake. They could then prove me wrong in front of the class. I guess they were all after the feeling of being superior to me. Sometimes they did dislike me. Usually when I pointed out their linguistic errors, that is. They felt they were questioned. They probably feared their authority was being undermined, too.

I like words, you see. Always have. When others were read fairy tales to or some other fiction for children, I read dictionaries and thesauri. Big to small, black to red, Webster to Oxford. Other kids would ask me how this word was to be spelled or how that phrase was to be written out. And the teachers would sharpen their ears, too. Maybe to test me. Probably to learn.

We had often what was called “dictations”. The teacher would pronounce twenty to thirty words we had learned by heart and we were to write them down on a piece of paper. No one was allowed to even consider cheating by peeking at other’s writings, let alone talk to each other. We would then hand our masterpieces to the teacher. She would read through each and every word and correct contingent mistakes.

One day, when I was thirteen or fourteen, we had the same kind of a survival test. I had been learning hard the night before and was sure to get all the words she would provide right. The kind of a linguistically competitive perfectionist that I am, I would be mildly put disheartened by having to “lose” to a teacher. Imagine my dismay when I got the paper back just to be informed I had not got the perfect score. I wrote “kindom” instead of “kingdom”. It was a genuine one-letter verbal faux pas. By my dimmed blue eyes, the teacher could sense me begging for life.

There is one lesson I know I learned from that episode in my life. My teacher, knowing how badly I needed to be perfect never stepped back. She gave me no freedom to even conceive a thought of me being able to get away with the slightest mistake. She may not have caused, but she sure enabled me to crave the perfection, that I had been striving for, more and more. She may not have taught me English, but she definitely taught me one thing. That this urge, the surge to score the perfect goal had, if at all, to be quenched some other time, some other place.

My teacher did not succumb to my selfish desire to compete and become better. Because of that, I, in my turn, did not gave way to despair over the minute, but at that moment colossal, failure of mine. Instead, I took it as a challenge. Which I now live out every single day.

Needless to say, the feral letter is ever present in every one of my “kingdoms”.

When you fail, how do you get back up on your feet again?

How to redirect your site to your Google+ profile (or any other site for that matter)

Gplus

Many have taken advantage of the sudden appearance of Google+ early to build up their social identities. The ever popular short web address services started to bud. Rather promptly, too. You may have seen people sharing their concise adresses like http://gplus.to/abc123 or http://gplus.am/123abc all over the Internet.

As I said, they are popular. Which means your precious nickname might have already been taken. If you have your own domain name, there’s a very simple way to redirect, or forward, your domain name to your Google+ profile. I have heard people dumping their blogs and using Google+ as their blogging platform, mainly because you reach out to people that already are following you.

So, the idea is simple. You want your friend to type your site’s URL, say http://example.com, in their web browsers and come automatically to your Google+ profile. Here are some easy steps to accomplish it.

  1. Create a new document in Notepad (or any other text editor).
  2. Save it under the filename “index.php” (use Save as… under File menu).
  3. Copy and paste the following bit of text into your index.php file:
    <?php
    $URL = "YOUR_GOOGLE+_PROFILE_URL";
    header ("Location: $URL");
    ?>
  4. Replace the phrase YOUR_GOOGLE+_PROFILE_URL with the address to your Google+ profile. (It is a long address. Mine, for example, looks like this: http://plus.google.com/110744082519634779396.)
  5. Save the file and upload it to the root directory of yoursite.com.

So, now you’re all set. Please, be aware though that this kind of a redirection only works if your web host supports PHP.

Tip: you can create a new directory in the root directory of http://example.com, say /gplus, and upload the index.php file there. That way http://example.com will be left as it is, but http://example.com/gplus will.

Another tip: I’ve seen it elsewhere and I think it looks neat. Instead of creating a directory called /gplus, name it simply “+”, so that the address http://example.com/+ would be redirected to your Google+ profile.

30-days-honey experiment

Honey

My grandma always says, “Want to be healthy? Eat a spoonful of honey every morning!” Wait, what? Just honey and no tea? Isn’t it too sweet? Yes it is. But then again, she  is not the only one to claim it is good for you.

So, I decided to experiment. For thirty days I will consume a spoonful of this sweet gloriousness every morning. I don’t know if I will feel any healthier after my experiment. I hope I will become healthier after it. And I hope my grandma is right.

Have you done similar experiments? How did it go?

(Photo courtesy of toholio)

How has your social media behaviour changed?

I hear (read) many people use Twitter less and less, now that they have Google+, where they send updates that do not need to be limited number of characters. Reportedly, their Facebook usage has almost stayed unchanged.

For me, it is different. I use Twitter as never before, almost having an inexplicable urge to never miss a tweet, as though just to please myself. And Facebook – well, I don’t really follow my friends’ news there. I just post my own news (usually as a cross post from Twitter) and reply to not-so-frequent comments.

Despite largely negative critique, Google have succeeded after all, I guess. Not making me switch from another service, no. But I think they succeeded in putting me, myself, the “You+” from the Google+ introduction mapin the centre. I have noticed how I am becoming more and more self-centred. What it means in the long run, I am not sure. 

What do you think? Has you social media behaviour changed after you started using Google+? If so, how?