The iPhone is 10 Years Old Today

Ten years ago today, the first iPhone was released. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only been ten years. And it’s hard to imagine that a piece of technology could change our lives so dramatically – mostly for the better, but in some ways for the worse.

At the time, the idea that one device could combine a telephone, a music player, a camera, and an internet communication device, all accessible by touch rather than with little buttons, was revolutionary. Today we don’t think twice about it.

Just think about how many aspects of our day-to-day lives are totally different now due to the smartphone. (While there are now more users and more apps on Android devices, most new capabilities came out on the iPhone first.) Smartphones also paved the way for the tablet (led by the iPad) which further bridged the gap between computers and telephones.

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How to Survive and Thrive for the Next 4 Years in Trumpistan

Like many of you, I was devastated by Donald Trump’s surprising upset victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As I write this article on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), I can’t help but feel extremely apprehensive about what the next four years will bring.

One thing that’s certain is that it will be full of surprises. Sadly, I suspect that there will be far more unpleasant surprises than pleasant ones. We are now in uncharted territory.

But life goes on. You and I can choose whether we will be happy or stressed, depressed, and miserable for the next four years. I choose happy.

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Death and Despair as 2016 Draws to a Close? No Thanks, I’ll Pass

A lot of my friends are distraught over all of the celebrity deaths that have occurred during the closing days of 2016 – and throughout the year, for that matter. Maybe you’re one of them.

Many of my friends are posting on Facebook that they can’t wait for 2016 to be over – often in much more colorful language than that.

It does seem as though there have been more notable deaths than usual lately. But I suspect that the obsessive attention being paid to this topic is partially attributable to social media (especially Facebook) and the overabundance of 24-hour news/entertainment/gossip websites that are hungry for more clicks (read: revenue).

In other words, the deaths of famous and semi-famous people are being communicated farther and wider and with lightning speed, and many people are amplifying the message by re-posting, re-tweeting, and piling on their own wailing and gnashing of teeth. In the past, a death was mentioned in the local newspaper the next day or on the 6:00 news. Then, lacking a means to chime in and spread the news, we moved on to the next topic.

People may or may not be dying more these days, but it seems like they are because we are hearing a lot more about it in our hyper-connected world.

I refuse to buy into it. I refuse to allow myself to become depressed by participating in the echo chamber of death and despair over people I don’t even know.

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On Holding Hands in Public

Last weekend, on Friday night at about 9:45, Jeff and I were walking several blocks back to our car after enjoying an evening of theatre in downtown Phoenix.

It was a pleasant evening, only slightly hot. There were only a few other people on the street, but the two people who drew our attention were a pair of young men, probably in their 20s, who were walking twenty feet or so ahead of us holding hands.

My first thought was, “how sweet!” It’s always nice to see two people in love. Of course, I have no way of knowing if they were still in the giddy throes of a new relationship or if they have been a couple for one year or five. But I admired how they felt comfortable enough with each other and with their surroundings to hold hands.

My second thought was, “how brave.” Granted, we were in a pretty safe neighborhood. For those who are not familiar with Phoenix, the blocks just north of the downtown area are rapidly being gentrified with attractive new apartments and condos. But it was after dark, and there are still plenty of homeless people in the area as well as some rougher neighborhoods not too far away.

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Today I Let Go of an Icon from My Past

Today I sold a souvenir from my past; something that represented a turning point in my life regarding coming to terms with myself and discovering who I really am.

Jeff and I are in the process of downsizing our possessions. You can read more about that here.

We are not planning to move to a smaller house anytime soon, but we are finally divesting ourselves of possessions we have been retaining for many years, even though we have not had any need for them in years.

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Should I ever refuse to marry a couple?

I am a wedding officiant.  I’ve only been doing this for about half a year, but I’ve married about 40 couples so far and I have 15 scheduled in the coming months.

It’s immensely rewarding.  It’s wonderful to be part of one of the most significant moments of a couple’s life and see them smile and get overtaken with emotion as they say their vows.

Most of the couples I’ve been marrying are same-sex couples who, in most cases, have waited many years to finally be able to get married.  Some of them didn’t think that day would ever come in their lifetime.  For couples who have already been together for 10, 20, 30, and even 44 years (my record to date), there’s little doubt that their marriage will work out just fine.

It’s fun to observe the special dynamic that exists between the two partners.  It’s a little different for each couple, but it’s there.  I can see it in the way they joke with each other, make decisions with each other, and even gently push each other’s buttons.  In every couple I’ve been privileged to marry so far, I’ve had no doubt whatsoever that they belong together.

But recently, I have encountered a situation that has forced me to ask myself a difficult question:  are there any circumstances under which I should refuse to marry a couple?

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A friend’s early passing provides an opportunity for reflection

A friend of ours passed away a couple days ago.  He wasn’t a close friend, he was more of an acquaintance whom we always enjoyed seeing whenever we would run into each other at parties.  We were Facebook friends, so at least we had a spectator view of each other’s lives.

He was diagnosed with advanced cancer last July, and as it turned out, he lived only six months longer.  But he made the most of those six months.  While I’m sure he had private times of anger and grief, on the outside he was always cheerful, happy, and full of love for others.  He seemed to accept his situation with remarkable calmness and grace.  Perhaps he valued life more because he knew he had only a finite amount of it left.

My friend’s passing has hit rather close to home.  He was about the same age as Jeff and me.  While I have every reason to believe that we’re both in good health and will continue to live for a long time, of course life has no guarantees and that could change at any time, for any of us.

This event has caused me to think more about how I’m living my life on a day-to-day basis.

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