Why I do what I do

I have been blogging since 2011! WOW!

Why do I blog?

Technology Geek

Well, I am a technical professional. I work in technology and enjoy technology. I am amazed by the advancements that we are seeing on a rapid pace. I remember in the early nighties setting up internet “newsgroup” for a corporate BBS, before the web was what it is today. Now,people have access to so much information in the palms of their hands.

Writing Wantabe

I enjoy writing, always have, even when I was a child I would write stories. I am not the best writer and also not the best with English grammar… But, I write because I enjoy it. I enjoy sitting and putting my thoughts on paper or now a screen. I write in a journal regularly. Writing a blog is different that journaling though. A blog is public compared to my private journal. Big difference.

Blogging

I maintain a blog for many reasons. I started because I am a technologist and like to learn more about technology. I use my time with a blog to learn more about technology, keep up to date and record my notes. I also write on a blog to share my thoughts and notes on technology and hopefully start a conversation.

I share my perspective about topics that I am concerned with. As a global community we have the capability to share news and perspectives very easily now. Setting a blog is easy and allows you to share your thoughts.

Responsibility

I think that you should think before you share anything though. We have seen that on social media, people sharing everything and also not thinking about what the effects of what you are sharing will have. I try to think before I share, try. We are all human and make mistakes.

Why I Do It?

So, why do I do what I do? This question came up at the school district I belong to and I just love the question and reflecting on this. I think this question is a good regular prompt and have a scheduled reminder on Day One, which I use for journaling. I share what touches me and also things that I enjoy. I also share adventures that I am on. I have “met”, some interesting people that share my same thoughts this way. I have learned from many people that I might not have known otherwise.

Addiction & Overdose

I share a lot of information about overdose and addiction on this blog and everywhere I can. This epidemic affects me personally and we as a society need to do something to address it. We are living in a time when we are loosing a generation of people from addiction. People are being prescribed addictive medicines that can have tragic consequences. People do not have empathy or compassion for people who are suffering or the families that are having their hearts ripped apart. I hope to help raise awareness to this health crisis and help make changes. I firmly believe that we can ALL make a difference. If each of us would do something, the collection of small actions can make a big difference. Little by little, individuals join together and changes can occur.

Ramblings of a Pittsburgh Dad

The purpose of this blog is just like the subtitle says Ramblings of a Pittsburgh Dad. I am a proud father and husband from Pittsburgh. I am a technologist by trade, an activist (never thought of myself that way) and an elected school board member. I enjoy learning about other points of view and reflecting on what I hear. I believe that we have to be open minded and consider the thoughts and feelings of others. We don’t have to agree and I don’t agree with all of my friends. But, I try to listen to what people have to say and discuss politely. I think that is what makes this country great, we can speak out and express our different points of view.

If we as a society would listen more with an open mind we can do anything.

What do you do what you do?

{Image credit BrainyQuote App}

WTAE Editorial on Opiate & Heroin Awareness

This morning I was watching WTAE Pittsburgh and they aired an editorial on the Opiate and Heroin Epidemic that is killing so many people in the United States.

I am so happy to see the Editorial. I agree that every week should be Opiate and Heroin Awareness Week until this crisis is controlled.

Watch the editorial here

Addiction is a disease that destroys the person suffering and family and friends of the person. Addiction can affect anyone! You are NOT immune from addiction and the horrible effects it takes on people. You may not be aware that you know someone suffering with addiction, it is hidden because of the nasty stigma attached to addiction.

The feature image on this post I found on Facebook, this shows the quantity of heroin compared to fentanyl. Fentanyl is mixed with heroin and other substances which is extremely potent and has been taking lives. Now the DEA is also alert about carfentanil which is even more potent that fentanyl.

Please help fight this health crisis. Below are my three simple goals, I have written about them this past week. I have written about them for over a year now.

Please help. Stand up and take part in fighting this crisis.

  • End the stigma with addiction and overdose
  • Educate people on the epidemic and this health crisis
  • Celebrate recovery

Celebrate Recovery

Today I want to take time to write about my third goal, my goals are simple and can be accomplished by anyone. Addiction is a horrible disease that affects so many people in the United States and around the world. I have personally been affected by people who lost their battle to addiction and people who are in long term recovery. Today, I would like to share with you about recovery.

I found this video on DrugAbuse.gov and thought it would be a good video today share today.

Recovery is possible!

Last month during International Overdose Awareness Day I had the honor of having two family members speak about their recovery. Seeing the changes they made and how they try to help others suffering addiction is so inspiring.

So, today I ask you, how could you help to celebrate recovery?

Educate about Overdose and Addiction like BWSD

I am so happy to write this post about what one local school district is doing. I am a member of this district and proud to see how the [BWSD](http:BW schools.net) is addressing the overdose epidemic.

Educate people on the epidemic and this health crisis

The Baldwin-Whitehall School District takes the president’s call to action seriously as this Opioid and Heroin Epidemic has affected families in our school community. The misuse of prescription drugs is often overlooked and goes unnoticed for too long. Research tells us that the cause and effect of pain killers can be very different for individuals and lead to a lifetime of treatment and suffering. In an effort to educate our students, staff, and community members the district will be providing the following programs about the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic to our students. Read more

Baldwin-Whitehall School District has announced a program that will be help educate not only students (high school) but also the community. On October 12th high school students will see “Off Script” from Saltworks Theatre Company. This program is recommended by the DEA as part of the DEA 360 program. If you have a high school student in Baldwin-Whitehall, I would love to hear their feedback on this program. You can read more about Off Script and Saltworks here

Also, Baldwin-Whitehall School District will be hosting a screening of Chasing the Dragon on October 26 from 6:30 – 8:00 for the community. This program will show the never-ending pursuit of a person who is addicted to Opiates. Please mark you calenda and provide feedback, I would love to have a detailed retrospective about both of these programs. You can read more about Chasing the Dragon on the FBI site here.

Thank you Baldwin-Whitehall for taking a great move during this health crisis that is affected so many families in our community and around the world.

End the Stigma of Addiction & Overdose

There is a stigma with addiction and overdose. We all know it, we treat people who suffer from addiction as if they have a moral failing. We don’t consider looking at their circumstances. People become addicted for many difference reasons. Some people become addicted during recovery from an injury after have legally prescribed medicines. The medicines hook them and then they are cut off after they develop a dependency to it. Some people suffer tragic events in their lives that they draws the to substance abuse to help mask the tragedies in their lives. There many reasons people become addicted, show empathy first before looking down on them.

I have talked about my three simple goals that I feel can help this epidemic. Simple if each person would look to these goals and try to achieve them personally.

  • End the stigma with addiction and overdose
  • Educate people on the epidemic and this health crisis
  • Celebrate recovery

Today, I am writing about the stigma associated with addiction and overdose. I know people who after their loved one passing from an overdose are looked down instead of comforted for their loss. They think the family is at fault. The family is NOT at fault, addiction affects every walk of life, social status, gender and race. It does NOT discriminate.

We have had to look too many mothers in the eye and tell them their child is gone, Altomare wrote. …It takes a lot of courage to seek help. … Drug treatment can work. People recover from addiction every day. WE BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT BUT WE CANT DO IT FOR YOU. Read more

The article above is what I believe we should be doing. I know that I believe in you if you want to fight this battle against addiction. I know that you can do this. There are many other people who are willing to help you also. Many of the people willing to help you and fight with you are people who have been affected by addiction.

We can’t arrest our way out of Pa.’s heroin epidemic: Josh Shapiro Read more

We can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic, it just won’t work. The War on Drugs failed. I am not saying that if you break that law you shouldn’t be punished, I am saying that this is not the way to help a person to the road of recovery. But, sometimes a jail sentence is the rock bottom a person needed. Also, it is the break the family needs to know their loved one is not on the street.It is a night that loved ones can sleep without waiting for a call in the middle of the night.

FDA launches competition to spur innovative technologies to help reduce opioid overdose deaths Read more

I was happy to read this notice from the FDA. This just shows that you can help, anyone can help. If you are a coder and work in mobile application development you can compete to build a mobile help to help people find Narcan. You can help save lives and help make a difference. There are many other ways you can help, you can look at my goals. You can stop the stigma when you hear it. You can learn more about addiction. You can keep you eyes open and report illegal activity.

How can you end the stigma?

Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18 through September 24, 2016, as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that raise awareness about the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Read more

The United States suffering from a tragic epidemic that is taking more lives that car accidents now. Addiction is a disease that takes a strong hold on a person and their families’ lives As a community we must address this epidemic and health crisis. Suffering from addiction is NOT a morale failing, it is a disease that affects a person’s ability to stop using. Some people start using from legitimate prescriptions and then move to illegal substances after the prescription is stopped.

As a community we need to stand together and learn about this health crisis that is taking so many lives. We need to understand and show empathy without enabling people who are suffering with addiction. We need to show love to the loved ones of addicts. We need to educate our youth and give them the tools they need to prevent or recover from addiction.

As part of Opioid Epidemic Awareness Week, the White House will host parents who have lost children to addiction, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country will participate in more than 160 different events, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Read more

What can you do to raise awareness, help people suffering from addiction, celebrate recovery and educate?

My three simple goals are listed below, I will write one post for each goal this week about these goals. I would love to hear you thoughts and how you can help end this epidemic.

  • End the stigma with addiction and overdose
  • Educate people on the epidemic and this health crisis
  • Celebrate recovery

EverNote or OneNote

My subscription to Evernote Premium expired about a month ago, so I had to decide what I would do. As an Evernote Community Leader I am a big fan of Evernote and use it daily. But, with the pricing model change and the addition of device limits I had to think about how I would proceed. I have an Office 365 subscription through work so I have access to OneNote. I decided to stop before upgrading from Basic and think about how I will proceed.

I wanted to look at the features and functionality of Evernote as compared to OneNote to confirm my decision to use Evernote with the changes made in the last year. Below is a summary of my decision criteria that I consider and why I stayed with Evernote.

Searching Notes

I find the search functionality in Evernote to be very powerful and easy. I can search through all of my notebooks and find the text I am looking for. I also can search for text that is contained in images (with Plus) and documents (with Premium).

Todo Lists

I make heavy use of Todo lists in Evernote, I take notes and add todo lists for action items that I have from meetings. I also create a note to just keep tasks that I have to complete with todo lists.

Reminders

I use reminders along with todo lists, setting a reminder on a note to go back to on a specific date. This is very useful for my workflow, Flagging notes that I want to review for actions or just to review for further research. Reminders are a wonderful feature.

Sharing notes and collaboration

Collaboration is key to my workflows, I work with many different people professionally and on other projects I am involved in. Sharing a note or notebook is simple, I can send a link to the note and provide them access to contribute. Now, with iOS 10 I an send text messages to include a note. This is a cool feature, I haven’t used it yet but am excited to try it out. I click in my text message and I can have access to my notes so I can choose which note I want to share.

Access on all devices

Devices, we use so many devices and having notes available anywhere anytime is so vital to having an electronic note workflow. Evernote has been available on all devices for a long time and they update the feature set on a regular basis.

Summary

So, I kept my subscription active so I can still use the powerful feature available in Evernote. I decided at this time to go with Plus instead of Premium. I am not sure if I will stay with Plus or upgrade to Premium again. Right now I needed to have my notes all on devices and not limited to 2 devices and also use the search in images functionality often. This alone provide the value for the price of Plus.

I am curious which plan you subscribe to and why? I would love to hear about your workflows and how you get value from Evernote. Please comment below and let’s see how we can enhance our Evernote experience.

Publish to WordPress with Ulysses and Markdown

Today I decided to also try out the Ulysses app on my iPad, it is a bit expensive for an app but has some great reviews and I received some good recommendations on it.

Publish to WordPress out of box

Ulysses has publishing to WordPress out of the box, this is one of the reasons that I decided to try it out. Nothing to add to the app, I just setup the connection information for my hosted WordPress site and it is ready to go. My site is configured to accept and interpret Markdown so I will publish Markdown.

Library of sheets with iCloud

Ulysses uses iCloud as one of the cloud services for storing sheets that are written. They are also grouped together for organization. I liked this concept, I don’t have to keep the sheets locally and back them up I can just use iCloud to store everything I write. I also created a group for this site that I will store everything together. I added a goal to this group of 300 words for each sheet.

Add images to posts

Ulysses also provides built in ability to add images to posts using Markdown. I don’t have to upload separately and then get the URL to add the Markdown to my post.

This is the first post with Ulysses to my site. I wanted to write some using Ulysses and publish it to see how the experience is. I will be writing about the experience this weekend to provide a retrospective of the experience.

Markdown, Editorial And WordPress

I have been thinking about using Markdown for my writing for a while and decided to look at some of the available apps for my iPad. I found several that had very good reviews and functionality.
* Editorial
* Ulysses
* Drafts

The idea behind Markdown is to making writing so you can concentrate on text in a readable text format. Files are just text files that can be transformed into many different forms and the language is easy to learn. The reason I wanted to move to Markdown is simple, I wanted a clean interface to write that is available in a small app that loads quickly and is plain text. Markdown provides powerful transformations to can go to HTML, PDF, DOCX and many other formats.

“Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).” John Gruber

I have some research I have decided to purchase Editorial in huge part to the inclusion of a Python editor and interpreter. I can install workflows, build workflows with a easy to user interface or just code them in Python right inside of Editorial. The first Workflow, Post Markdown to WordPress, [http://jasonkratz.com/]I installed I am using right now to publish this post to my WordPress blog.

This is my first post written with Editorial and also written in Markdown. It took me some time to find the option to turn Markdown on, but it was easy once I knew where to look. So, go to Jetpack Settings and select Writing.

Once this option is activated you can then switch to text in WordPress and write Markdown. Or you can use a Markdown editor like Editorial and the Workflow I am using to publish to your blog.
I have to say it was easy to write with Editorial and the text looks clean. Workflows making processing the text very simple. Stay tuned for more information as I used Editorial and work on some custom workflows.

Shaming Addicts

There has been a story on the news and social media about a couple who overdosed in a car with a child in the back seat. A police officer decided to take a picture of the couple and share it. And sadly this story then has promoted many people to shame the couple and addicts in general. Do I agree with the couple and what they did? Absolutely NOT! What they did was wrongs, plain and simple. Many things that addicts do is wrong, they have a physical addiction that most people can not understand or relate to. The need for drugs is so strong it changes the person’s heart and soul and leaves the person as a shell of who they once where.

Addiction can and does take a very caring and loving person and changes them to a person who only cares about getting their next drug. The get physically sick during withdrawal and suffer from this withdrawal more than many people will understand. I don’t understand but I have seen the withdrawal first hand and now how horribly it affects a person. The only thing that helps them is using again, unless they seek or are forced to get medical attention and treatment.

I am very discouraged and upset with the response to this story and many other stories. My personal goal and the goal of many people that I know and work with to fight this health crisis is to help people. Shaming people DOES NOT help anyone. It hurts the child in that car, who one day may see that picture and the comments. It lowers the chance of the person getting the help they need to get clean from drugs.

I encourage everyone to learn more about addiction. Addiction affects so many people, it may not affect you personally but the chance of you knowing someone who is suffering from addiction is high. There are so many people suffering and hiding it that you don’t know who is suffering, it could be one of your loved ones. It could be your neighbor or someone you go to church with.

Please take time to learn about addiction and open your heart to show empathy. I am not saying to enable them in their addiction, but to show empathy. Try to understand and relate to the person and their loved ones who have so many sleepless nights waiting for a call that their loved one lost their battle.

I feel we need to have laws in place like other states that will force a person into treatment and recovery. I know several people who where jailed and that helped them to get clean. They where forced into it and treatment and help was available to them to work through the withdrawal. They where provided with the tools needed to help get clean. Many have to leave and start their lives all over to get clean.

Seeing someone suffering from addiction is horrible and heart wrenching. Waiting for that call and receiving that call is something that is so hard to explain. A young life that was ripped apart, their heart changes as they are conquered by this demon.

Though a mountain of research proves addiction to be a disease of the brain, not a character flaw, the stigma surrounding it is still highly prevalent in society.

…vicious cycle: People abuse substances to cope with shame, and substance abuse is perpetuated by feelings of shame surrounding their addiction. What’s the solution?

Read more…

A few organizations that I personally know and support are listed below. There are many others like these.