2011 New Year’s Resolutions

I started my blog after New Year’s so I didn’t do a traditional New Year’s post about my resolutions for the year.  I’m haven’t always been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because I, like many, would diligently and thoughtfully think out my resolutions and would do exceptionally well at keeping them…for a few weeks, after which I would falter.  Then forget about the completely.  Of course, I would start the whole process over again each year.  I still do New Year’s resolutions, but I have another system now.  I still treat resolutions as a way to commit myself to self improvement, but I’ve tried to build in more accountability into my system.

I use New Year’s as the time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go.  I write out my goals for that year and I come back to them throughout the year to see how I’m doing.  I no longer get disappointed if I can’t complete a resolution because often it is just a matter of different priorities or sometimes life just gets in the way.  Keeping a log of progress on my resolutions has helped me remain accountable to my goals.  So I thought, why not put them online and just put them out there in the public.

Here are my goals for this year and how I am doing with them:

  • Read Enjoy 25 books

I do read a lot, but I don’t always have time to do the leisure reading I’d like to do.  I started off the year well, as with any resolution, but have not met the pace I wanted.  Part of my problem is when I start a book, I feel obligated to finish it.  I’ve started a few books that I just can’t get into, so that has slowed me a little.  So I’ve changed my goal to  enjoy the books I read now.  Life is too short to read bad books!  With 5 books enjoyed, 3 started but not enjoyed, I’m a little behind schedule, but confident I can do this one.

  • Try a New Recipe Every Week

I haven’t hit a new one every week, but I’ve tried many new recipes this year.  They haven’t all been keepers, but I really have enjoyed trying new things.  And to help me with this, I finally broke down and upgraded my account at AllRecipes.com.

  • Get in Better Shape

I was rocking this one!  One of my Christmas presents was a Wii Fit.  I was walking my dog regularly (which was also another goal…see below).   I was doing pilates regularly.  Notice, I am saying ‘was’ a lot.  Once I get into a good exercise routine I do really well, but once I break that routine, not so well.  With this terrible winter we had, having these indoor activities was working well for me.  Then one day, I took my dog for walk on some icy, snowy sidewalks and came down on my one knee wrong.  It healed quickly, but it I couldn’t really workout for about 6 weeks.  Now I’m getting back into my routine again.   I’m also especially glad that I am able run again and to mentor for First Strides.

  • Walk my Dog Regularly

See above.  Getting back into the regular part of it.

  • Run a Half Marathon

See above above.  I was planning on running the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon May 1st, but my training schedule was tanked.  Perhaps I’ll do the Philly Half in the fall.

  • Start a Blog

Started.  Now I just have to post more consistently.  And perhaps some people will even read it.

  • Be a Better Networker

To accomplish this, I’ve decided to merge two things I really enjoy…technology and networking.  I’ve committed myself to writing LinkedIn recommendations.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a very long time and now seems like the best time to start.  I’ve developed a list of individuals and have even drafted a few recommendations.  However, I never have been very confident about my writing.  These people I am fortunate to work with in a variety of capacities deserve the best.  I hope I can do them justice.

  • Not Have the Ironing Board out All Week

Someone once told me that I’m a rare woman.  Nice compliment, if only it hadn’t been in reference to the fact that I iron.  I iron every week.   Often the ironing stretches out over a week, which leads to the ironing board being out in the family room all the time.  Convenient, yes, but it is not the way I like my family room.  So my goal is to get the ironing started and done in one night, so the ironing board doesn’t stay out all the time.   It’s been working out pretty well.  If only I could get the kids to put their stuff away after it’s been ironed…

  • Evaluate Where I am Professionally

Sometimes life doesn’t work out like you hope.  I’ve been in my current position for a little over five years.  I do love my job, but at the same time, I haven’t come close to accomplishing what I had hoped.  When I took my current position, I had taken a pay cut and a position downgrade, but it was a job change that was needed due to another unexpected life event.   So after five years of being in this position, it is time for me to grow in a different direction.  What that is, I don’t quite know yet.  Right now I am leaning towards taking advantage of my tuition benefit at work and pursuing another degree part-time.  To do that, however, I need to take the GRE, which I will do this September.  I am also evaluating what I want to do over the next several years.  I had applied for a position in library administration recently, which, although I didn’t get the job, reinforced my desire to be in more of a leadership position within a library.  Five years ago I had pulled myself out of a library director search because I didn’t think I was ready, even though several individuals told me I was.  Now I know I am ready, so this particular goal will most likely carry over the next few New Years.

  • Be a better mom, wife, and person.

This one will never be *complete*, but one that I will continuously strive for.

So, this is my public update #1.  Hopefully it will help me stay focused on these goals and in some way hold me more accountable.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Keep Track of your Running with RunKeeper

I mentor with a running group for women called First Strides.  It is a fun and very rewarding way to stay focused on running.  I get to work with very interesting women.  Last fall, several mentors bought these very cool watches that track your distance, your pace, calories burned, your heartrate, and many other things.  I was excited.  I wanted one.  I had to get one.  I did what every good librarian does and went home to research these amazing pieces of technology.  That was when my starry-eyed adoration ended.  These things were going for lots of money.  I just couldn’t bring myself to spend more on a watch than I do on my running shoes.

So I did some more research.  I have one of these really smart smart phones.  Of course, being over a year old, it may not be as smart as most, but it does what I need it to do.  I figured there must be an app that I could use for running.  I thought about what I wanted at a minimum:

  • tracks my distance
  • tracks my time
  • calculates my pace
  • keeps a log

Some bonus features would include:

  • interval workouts
  • calories burned
  • a rubdown by Jake Gyllenhaal afterwards

The main contenders were:  DailyMile, MapMyRun, and RunKeeper.   MapMyRun has been around for a while and I had been using it to track my workouts with the web version, at least until I got tired of the constant offers for their paid levels.  I decided not to try a MapMyRun app.  DailyMile seemed to have a strong community following.  However, it was the simplicity of RunKeeper that I liked.

RunKeeperRunKeeper did all that I wanted in a running device thingee.  Well, almost all, as I am not too hopeful about getting a rubdown from Mr. Gyllenhaal anytime soon.  That’s okay, though, I really like my RunKeeper.  It does a great job of tracking my workouts, including distance, time, pace, calories burned.

I can also program in interval training.  This is an especially cool feature for First Strides, as our workouts are based on a progressive system of easy-hard intervals.  My Timex Ironman watch does this as well, only it can only do two intervals.  RunKeeper allows many intervals, plus how many repetitions, plus a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down.  This is perfect for people in the First Strides program.  For example, this past week we did a 34 minute workout:

  • 5 minute warm-up
  • 3 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes hard
  • repeat the 3 easy-3 hard series 4 times
  • 5 minute cool-down

This can all be programmed in the RunKeeper app!  With audio prompts.

Don’t run, but bike or walk or ski or skate or swim or…the RunKeeper will still work for you, too.  Track your workouts and the distance you cover in your workouts.  The app also syncs with your online profile, where you can have training teams. connect with others, graph your progress, see your routes, post to Facebook or Twitter, and even take fitness classes (these do have a small fee).  All this for free.  And that is what I liked best about RunKeeper!

Tech Tip Tuesday: I’m For Firefox 4

Firefox 4Oh Mozilla, you are indeed a clever fox.  I tend to be very loyal, almost to a fault.  I stayed with you Mr. Firefox when everyone else had switched to Chrome.  I stayed with you Mr. Firefox when everyone told me how much happier I would be if I just gave you up.  The temptation grew and I finally started spending more time with Chrome.   You sensed my weakness and decided to take action.  You went to the code gym and worked out.  You checked out the competition and understood why I had weakened.  You came back to me, leaner and meaner than before.  And, oh!, how your performance has improved.  Now I want you as my main browser again.

There is a lot to like about Firefox 4.  Chrome was the wake-up call that Firefox needed to get itself back in shape.  Version 4 certainly took some lessons from Chrome–the interface is sleeker and cleaner, much like Chrome’s interface, only better.  There is much more real estate for content and the toolbar is minimal, much like Chrome’s.  Only Firefox allows for a bit more customization, so I can set up my toolbar just the way I like it.  Additionally, Lifehacker offers some tips on how to ‘Fix Annoyances with Firefox 4’s New Look‘, although I don’t consider some of those ‘annoyances’ to be annoying.  I like the tabs on top (also new in FF4), but some don’t; but you can change that if you don’t like it.

I really like being able to pin some of my tabs for those sites I use all the time.  This required an add-on before, but now it is integrated into the browser.  This saves a lot of real estate, especially if you tend to have many tabs open. This is just one example of how some very good add-ons are now core features in the browser.

Go to TabSpeaking of having a lot of tabs open at one time, FF4 has the option to ‘switch to tab’ when it recognizes you’re typing something in the address bar you may already have open.  So you can quickly search for a tab by typing in the address bar or using the drop-down listing, making for more efficient web surfing.  There is also the Group your Tabs’ option that provides a panoramic view of the sites you have open.

Many have complained that the Awesome Bar ain’t so awesome because FF4 still has a separate address bar and search box.  That’s easy to remedy by using Smart Keywords.   This isn’t new in FF4, but now’s a good time to start using it.  I have long gotten rid of my search box in Firefox and used the Smart Keywords, which is just one of the things that makes the Awesome Bar awesome.  Mozilla provides easy directions on what Smart Keywords are and how to use them.

Being someone who uses several computers throughout the day, one feature I really like is the Syncing capabilities of Firefox.  FF4 lets you sync your bookmarks, history, passwords (I don’t sync my passwords…or store them, for that matter), and even open tabs across devices.  That includes mobile devices.

These are just some of the things that have brought me back to Firefox.  Firefox performs better, fast, and is more secure.  It has some great built in features such as Do Not Track, Crash Protection, HTML5 parser, Anti-phishing, and much more.

Try it, again. You’ll like it.  I’ll still keep several browsers on my computer, but Firefox has definitely won me back and will be my primary browser once again.  I’ll still visit Chrome now and then, perhaps Safari, and even IE on those very rare occasions, but Firefox will once again be my default.  Welcome back you clever Fox!