30 Days Without a Smartphone

Yesterday marked 30 days since I gave up my iPhone. I knew that I was attached to the phone but have been surprised at how attached I was to it. My positive and negative experiences are as follows:

Positive:

  • Pain relief. My hands and shoulders don’t constantly hurt and my neck is much less painful than before.
  • I am not constantly on a game, looking up a meme, checking email, or otherwise distracted.
  • I am more present when I am somewhere. I focus more on the people and things around me.
  • I have accomplished more of worth in the past thirty days than in the six months prior to that.
  • I discovered the value of a dedicated GPS. It is much less distracting than using the iPhone for the same purpose.
  • My phone lasts for days without being recharged.
  • Using a paper planner keeps me from having an endless to-do list.
  • I discovered that not every moment needs to be photographed.
  • Checking off a paper to-do is more satisfying than checking off one on Todoist. With Todoist it just disappears and Todoist’s options for viewing the completed tasks on a project aren’t as good as I would like to see.
  • I get tired of forwarding unimportant tasks so they eventually get dropped.
  • Nobody can hack my paper planner unless they physically get possession of it. Once something is stored on the net it is there basically forever.
  • My current phone was about $44 but a new iPhone can run $700. I left the dumb phone visible in the car yesterday by mistake and was not the least bit concerned about anyone stealing it. With the iPhone, I would have gone out of the store and retrieved it.
  • I feel freer than I did before. Like I have stepped off of the treadmill and am refusing to play the phone and tech companies games.

 

Negative

  • People don’t pay $700 plus monthly fees just because smartphones look cool. They are powerful tools that are not going away anytime soon.
  • Finding information about things and places is more difficult. The GPS has far less information and places in it than Google Maps does.
  • Paper is limited. My Todoist task list is infinitely flexible. Everything can be captured including every step of a project.
  • I have hundreds of passwords and contacts stored electronically and have had many instances where needed information was not there when I needed it.
  • Siri will read books and web pages to me while I do something else but my Kindle will not do that. The true value of Kindle to me is that Siri will read me the book. It is the only way I got through Dune and Moby Dick a few months ago.
  • The Kindle reader on the iPhone is better in many ways than the actual Kindle.
  • My paper day planner does not do Evernote so much information is missing.
  • Communication has been more difficult as I can’t get attachments or some text messages.
  • I can’t look up where an item is on the store app when I am in a big box store or read reviews on the product while I am looking at it in the store.
  • Living without a smartphone takes more advanced planning as the information is not always available in the moment.
  • Things stored in the cloud don’t usually get misplaced or left in a shopping cart at the store.

 

So where to go from here? I wanted to go at least thirty days and I’ve now done that. However, research indicates that breaking an addiction longer takes longer than thirty days. How long exactly is subject to debate. I have also found workarounds for many of the problems encountered so far and expect more workarounds to be implemented that will make it easier to continue without a smartphone.

I have been unemployed for the past seven months and have been at home. On Monday I start a new job. The communication challenge of being away from my wife and from my desktop computer will be greater without an iPhone. An iPhone can also allow me to listen to books and podcasts during the commute. Going back to the iPhone is tempting.

An iPad may offer the benefits of the phone without some of the negatives but due to cost, that possibility is on hold for now. For today at least I am resisting the call of the “ring” and continuing without the smartphone. So far, the positives of doing without the smartphone outweigh the negatives.

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Life Without a Smartphone: Days 22-25

Going to sleep is easier without the blue screen distractor. I went to bed early two days ago but due to my regular schedule and the unprocessed caffeine from the soda I drank earlier I could not go to sleep. I read until I was tired, then laid in bed looking up into the darkness and thinking. Some productive thoughts and ideas came to me. Previously I would have been playing World of Tanks Blitz or Boom Beach on the phone.

The modern first world ceramic reading throne has been used to read National Geographic, This Old House magazine, books, and other productive items rather than playing games or looking up useless things on the internet.

The past 25 days have been the most productive and focused 25 days in years but it has not been all good. Paper just can’t organize the way the electronic tools can. Every day is precious. Life is so very brief. Even the folks that live to old age have so little time. I wish to waste no more of my time on trivial things.

Time to Make Healthy Choices

 

Junk Food
Time for a course correction before I hit the dietary rocks

We have a crisis in the good old USA. We are overweight and unhealthy. We are making the medical industry very rich on our pain, suffering, and death. The doctor will give you a little pill to take every day but probably won’t counsel you much on the other things you put in your mouth. Why not? They know that few people will make the changes they need to even in the face of death or disability. Making dietary changes is that hard to do. The other thing is that there is no money to be made on broccoli for the doctor’s corporate boss.

 

I am 38 pounds from a healthy weight and on the edge of being obese. My grandfather died from a heart attack in his 60’s. My other grandfather had a heart attack that he survived. My uncle has had two heart attacks. My great grandmother spent about eight years in a vegetative state from a stroke. Are these things genetic and unavoidable? I don’t think so. My family comes from the South where fried food and lots of it are the norm and none of us like to miss a meal.

Wherever you live, look around you. The next time you are in the grocery store line pay attention to what is in the grocery carts of the people around you and see if the items in the carts don’t fit the bodies you see pushing the carts. We worry about ISIS when it is our own fork, spoon, and cup that are delivering the death blow to us.

We are killing ourselves and expecting the medical industry to swoop in and save us. We talk about heart surgery like it is getting a cavity filled at the dentist. They basically kill you and then bring you back to life. These drastic procedures are so common they seem normal but someone that is a vegan is considered a little strange.

I do not blame McDonald’s for our poor health or the companies that make all of the goodies in the candy aisle. It is no secret that eating a Big Mac is not the best thing you can do to improve your health. McDonald’s also sells salads but few people buy them. I am not convinced that the people working in our medical establishment are evil but the system is very broken and many are profiting from it. Hospitals and clinics spring up like weeds and our people and government are going bankrupt to prop up an unsustainable diet.

On a more green note, it makes little sense to grow food to feed animals then kill the animals to feed people. The resources would be far better used to simply grow the crops for the people. Furthermore, the conditions that the animals we eat and the animals that produce the animal products that we eat live in is like a torture chamber from a sci-fi horror novel. Not even a hardened criminal should have to live such a life but these gentle animals lead lives of misery and pain so we can have eggs, bacon, and milk for breakfast and a hamburger for dinner.

The ocean creatures are not faring much better. According to a recent issue of National Geographic, the fisheries in the South China Sea may be on the verge of collapse. We pay for our torture of the animals and fish with our own lives and health.

The solution is simple and has been well researched. An early instance of how to address this problem was given as a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on February 27, 1833. This is where the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly called Mormons, Latter Day Saints, or LDS) get their doctrine of abstaining from alcohol, harmful drugs, coffee, and tea.

Faithful members of the church do a pretty good job of staying away from drugs, alcohol, coffee, and tea but there is more to the revelation that very few of us do. The revelation also says that we should basically live on fruits, vegetables, and grain and that meat was to be eaten, “…only in times of famine and excess of hunger”. In other words, we should be vegetarians or vegans unless our survival is threatened.

One of the promises for obeying this revelation is that we will be able to “…run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.”

So here we are 184 years later with enough well conducted scientific studies to fill libraries that say basically the same thing the Lord said in 1833. Despite the revelation and all of that scientific evidence this very night in an LDS cultural hall (a gym that is connected to the chapel) somebody will be asking God to bless generous amounts of meat, cookies, cake, and ice cream to the “nourishment and strengthening of our bodies”. I can barely run down the stairs without being “weary” and if I walked far I probably would faint.

No worries, the church is a hospital for the spiritually sick and not a country club for the saved. I’m not saying that anybody is going to hell for eating meat. I just mainly want myself and my family to be as healthy as we can be and right now we are far from healthy.

In the last few years, I read two books that impacted me and one of my doctors has also been an inspiration. The books are The China Study and How Not to Die. Both of these books basically say to eat a vegan diet. How Not to Die has more detail as to exactly what to eat and is an easier read. My doctor recommended that I read both of these books, has been a vegan for a long time, and he is in good physical condition. I brought up the subject of eating and he gladly pointed me in the right direction.

Applied knowledge is what pays off so it is time for me to apply this knowledge. There are hikes to go on, backyard basketball games to play, and bike rides to complete.

We are free to choose what we do but not the consequences of our choices. My objective is to permanently become a whole food vegan. By whole food, I mean that if it takes much more than cutting it up and cooking it then it is not whole food. If it has eyes and a mother or came from something that had a mother then it is best left alive and walking, crawling, flying, or swimming.

I have tried this before but now I have all one or two of the people that read this blog to report to. I am going to finish one last Cherry Coke and jump into this new lifestyle with both feet. Let’s see what happens.

By the way, my canine buddy didn’t eat any of the junk in the photo.

 

 

 

Life Without a Smartphone: Day 14

LG Xpression 2

The texting problems are now solved with the addition of an LG Xpression 2 phone with a slider keyboard. The phone is compact and the keys work well. It is not in the same league with my iPhone but will do the job. I just slid the chip out of my flip phone and into the LG. The phone company sent a text message that it didn’t work but the phone works fine.

It was very tempting to just slide the chip into my iPhone and end this experiment. The only reason I’m still going is that my hands are hurting much less than before.

 

 

Never Look Sloppy

Well Dressed Dog

My youngest son has been after me for a long time to grow a beard. I agreed to give it a week or two so he could get an idea what it looks like. I have often imagined myself with a manly beard. The reality of my beard is a thin scraggly attempt at real manhood that is best left untried. This time it is even worse as it is coming in alarmingly gray.

So about three days into this unholy experiment I went to pick up my son at the dance studio after his team’s lessons and found myself in front of a camera doing an interview. The studio is putting together a marketing video and needed parents to interview.

I have never been in front of a video camera for any sort of interview that anyone outside of my immediate family will ever see.

The lesson here? Never leave the house looking sloppy. The beard goes away today.

 

 

Life Without a Smartphone: Day 6

Difficulties:

  • I had to drive somewhere from memory and didn’t go straight there. The delay was only a matter of a minute or two.
  • No camera. I used the one on the iPhone that now has no cellular data. I deleted an app or two while I used it.
  • My wife is eyeing my iPhone SE, which is newer than her iPhone.
  • I could not call my Franklin Day Planner when it got misplaced. I found it after a few minutes searching.

Benefits:

  • A GPS in each car complete with mounts.
  • The GPS is better suited for driving than Google Maps on the phone. See more below.
  • Long before GPS and Google Maps, I had a great sense of direction and rarely got lost. That sense of direction may return without always depending on Google Maps.
  • A good example to my son. See below.
  • My shoulders that have been hurting for weeks or months have stopped hurting. I think the pain was from holding up the phone to look at it

I used the GPS to get to a place in a nearby town that I visit occasionally. It is deep in a big residential neighborhood and I always have trouble getting in and out of the place. The GPS displays the speed limit, warns me if I am speeding, warns me about upcoming railroad crossings and speed limit changes, has bigger text than Google Maps on the phone, and has a voice command system that works well.

A smartphone is like a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman Tool. It does a fair job at lots of things but does not do a great job at anything. Its main advantage is portability. A digital camera takes better pictures, a regular cell phone is ergonomically better to call on and the battery life is much better, a laptop or desktop computer is much better for typing and editing text and spreadsheets on, and a paperback book is better on your eyes. You just don’t have to carry around a suitcase full of stuff if you have an iPhone.

My 18-year-old son is seriously addicted to video games. He was home this weekend on a visit from school. I will write more about his gaming issues in another post. Yesterday we declared our home a video game free zone. We have done this in the past only to go back to allowing games after a short time. As I was talking to him I held up the flip phone and said. I am serious. He is aware of my World of Tanks Blitz Addiction problem and that I have stopped playing since giving up the iPhone. I explained the changes that have occurred for me in the days since I have up the iPhone and that he would experience positive changes when he gave up video games. He didn’t greet the change with anything akin to a positive reaction but I think that my actions with the phone lent credibility to my declaration of a game free home.