Quick Update

Good Monday, dear readers!

It is Monday the 22nd of April, Earth Day, Easter Monday, and a bank holiday. It has been nearly two weeks since my last blog post, two weeks minus two days, as the week before last I posted both on Monday and on Wednesday. Last Monday, I didn’t have a post prepared, and I was in no mental state to write one. The last two or three Mondays for me have been… hard. Bad mental health days. Why Mondays? I have no idea. It could have something to do with me being rejected for literally every job I have applied for in the last few months, a feeling I am unfamiliar with up until this point (I’ve had a few jobs, but I was also in school and uni and not technically in need of them, and I’ve only been rejected from two – one I group interviewed for, and one I never heard back from after applying). It’s exhausting…

I spent much of the weekend before last playing the open beta of Anno 1800, re-familiarising myself with the game, as the closed beta in February was my first time playing any Anno game (read my post about that here). The game released in full on Tuesday last week. I spent a lot of the week playing it, trying and failing, trying different settings, with and without pirates, trying different building styles… I’ve gotten to the point where I have some of each population class now. But my single player save is kind of a mess at this point. I really just wanted to get to the end, but it turns out I’m having a lot of issues with my trade routes and I need more engineers and investors to get further in the game but I also cannot upgrade my artisans to engineers or my engineers to investors because I’m unable to cover their basic needs, and I get riots because I cannot satisfy their happiness. Hopefully I can salvage this, I might actually go back in and downgrade so that I don’t have as many different population classes to try to satisfy at once. I could just start over, but that feels like giving up on an island I was actually very happy with up until this point, so I’ll probably try to fix it.

The weather’s been nice. Yesterday, I actually sat on the step in front of the house eating my breakfast outside. It reminded me of my grandmother, the one that’s passed away. When I was little and spending summers there, the sun was at the front of their house during the day, and she’d often say let’s eat on the stairs in front of the house! It was a new and exciting experience for me, not something we did at home. But she’d make me a sandwich and a glass of milk or juice and we’d sit on the steps eating breakfast in the sun. It’s something I’ve done in recent years at my parents house before work in the summer too, bring my coffee and my food outside and sit in the sun! Another thing I did yesterday was clear out the garage. I started at around 11-11.30, it was 3.30 when I finished, I didn’t realise how long I’d been at it for and it completely exhausted me for the rest of the day. It felt very good to have done it though! I spent the rest of the day lying in bed, cuddling a cat or two, and rewatching Reign on Netflix. I watched this show about two years ago, summer of 2017. I couldn’t remember all the things that happened in season 1, I thought for sure some of those incidents came later! And now that I’m approaching the end of season 2… There’s so much I didn’t remember. Despite the many, many flaws and historical inaccuracies (women’s hair and clothing to mention a couple), I do really like this show, I think the actors are brilliant, and a lot of the story pains me, which of course makes me like it because it has an affect on me. Today, my back is aching from the hard work of yesterday, but it’s a good ache. At least I’m not having another Monday infested by depression and anxiety…

I am writing this post at mid day on Monday. This will not be my only post for today though! I have another, which I’ve been working on over the last few days, which, providing my pictures being good, will be up tonight at my “normal” posting time. It is about the Urban Decay Game of Thrones makeup collection, which launched just over a week ago, on the same Sunday as the new and final season premiered! I’ve watched the first two episodes now. What do we think? I’ve heard some people refer to them as fillers, but I don’t agree – fillers are empty and play no part in the upcoming events, I think everything we’ve seen so far is definitely important for upcoming events. They’re builders, if anything. With a few bits and pieces to satisfy the audience (Arya in episode 2, I won’t say anything else, but you can’t deny that fans have been begging for it for years!).

By the way – the Easter egg arrived, and I put it in the back of a kitchen cupboard for a week. Then I got the two little packs of mini eggs out and had them last weekend. I didn’t get the actual egg from the kitchen until Wednesday night last week, and I’ve been eating a little bit every day. Since I count today as the last day of Easter, I will have the bit that remains today, probably tonight. All in all, things went well. The egg is so chocolatey that I feel ill if I have too much at once, which is actually a good thing, because it’s made it last!

I know I don’t have many people who read my posts, and I hardly ever actually get people talking to me in the comments, but I wanted to write this little update for my own sake. I’ve been so good at posting every Monday since the start of the year, last Monday was the first I missed, so to make up for it I’m posting two posts this Monday, and at least my post count is still up to date! Talk to me in the comments, tell me something good ❤

Xoxo

Julie

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App Review: ActionDash

Our cell or mobile phones are hugely important in this day and time, perhaps especially so to us millennials. I was born in the early 90s, so I’m kind of in the middle of the generation. I got my first phone for my 13th birthday, or a few days before actually. My brother, who is three years younger than me, was 11 or 12 when he got his first phone. Many millennials that I know are proud to belong to a generation that grew up playing outside, as am I, but we’re also proud that we encountered technology like phones and computers at a young enough age for it to become natural for us to use them, we’re not struggling in the same way as older generations, but we’ve also not been enslaved by technology from a really young age like the younger generations. When I was around 15, one of my grandmothers said that the mobile phone was the older children’s pacifier, and when I was 17 and on exchange (and got to experience unlimited texting for the first time) my host mother said that to teenagers the phone was like an extension to the arm. I know there are a lot of millennials who don’t use their phones a lot, but I am not one of them. I’m on my phone a lot. When I’m not on my phone, I’m on my tablet or PC, or in a movie theatre – I even have to put my phone away so I won’t get distracted when reading books. I know it’s bad.

I have seen Apple iPhone users talk on twitter about how their phones are notifying them of the amount of time they’ve spent on their phone. Philip DeFranco tweeted about how much time he’d spent on Twitter specifically, that he tried to justify it with needing to use Twitter for work, but then he said he couldn’t possibly justify spending that amount of time on social media because it’s not all for work. I don’t use iPhone, or any Apple products, and I have no desire to. My phone doesn’t have a built in function to track screen time, so I went looking through the Google Play store, and that’s where I found ActionDash, a free to use app with the option of purchasing a pro version that will remove ads, among other things. The free version lets you see all the info about your screen time over the past week, so of course I went ahead and tracked it for a week straight, not restricting myself, using my phone as I normally would, so in this post I want to take you on my journey of how I’ve been using my phone for the past week!

Introducing: ActionDash

Let’s start with Saturday, March 16th. When I open the app I get the picture you see below, and I can scroll back through the past week, the 16th being the earliest day I could view at the time I took these screenshots.

I made sure to take the screenshots not on the day but the following day, so the data would be complete. And this is what we see: A wheel showing the 4 most used apps of the day, as well as “others”, number of unlocks of the phone, and notifications received, and at the bottom, a graph showing how long each session in each app has been. In this first image, the bottom two lines are missing, but we can still get the gist of what the graph shows: 1 session lasted 20-30 minutes, another lasted 15-20, three sessions lasted 10-15 minutes, 23 lasted between 5 and 10 minutes, 17 3-5 minutes, and what the picture doesn’t show is 1-2 minutes and less than 1 minute, which has been the longest bar on every day that I’ve checked the app!

On this Saturday, the app I spend the most time in was Instagram, followed by Twitter, Google, and then Pokemon GO. From what I can remember, this was a very antisocial day for me, I stayed in bed the majority of the day with the TV playing shows and YouTube, and I was scrolling on my phone the majority of the time as well. I promise, most days I do not spend 8.5 hours actively on my phone!

Let’s have a look at the following few days of the week:

If we’re being honest, I don’t remember everything about all of these days, as I’m not writing it as we go, but I do remember some things so let’s see… As we can see from Sunday the 17th, I spent less than three hours on my phone that day, which was a better day for me emotionally than the 16th, I do remember that. I spent nearly half that time on Instagram, which I can easily see, as a lot of the time I’ll be scrolling on Instagram while watching stuff, it requires little to no concentration as I just take in the pictures and I don’t have to actually read the words like I do on Twitter. But still, we can see the same few apps repeated almost daily, Twitter and Instagram are on daily, which was no surprise. WordPress was on the wheel on the 19th, because I was reading a rather lengthy article, and I kept putting my phone down, and got distracted a lot, so I probably wasn’t actually reading the whole time, I just left the screen on when I put my phone down and the screen doesn’t black out right away. Let’s see, what else… Oh, Friday the 22nd – Google was my most used app! That was a bit surprising, but I know exactly why: I fell down a rabbit hole of wikipedia articles, which happens on occasion, this time it was reading up on Russian history, starting with Stalin, then Lenin, and then the Tsars that ruled the country up until the revolution in 1917. And because it’s wikipedia, every article contains links to other articles so I end up getting side tracked and yeah, that’s how that happened! I also spent quite a lot of time on YouTube that day – I usually watch YouTube on the TV, but we had to have repair people come by and then set up a new TV, so to stay out of the way I watched YouTube on my phone in another room. Saturday the 23rd was Community Day, so that’s why Pokemon GO won first place on screen time then, as the event lasted for 3 hours, although I wasn’t actually playing it the full time…

Now let’s have a closer look at the app itself:

This picture is from Sunday the 24th, if I’m not mistaken. Either way, it doesn’t matter, what I wanted to show you was the graph where you can see the app session length breakdown for the day. Out of 271 app sessions, 203 of them lasted less than a minute! Thinking about how that works in reality… one of two things happened: I got a notification, clicked on it, and went out of the app again, or I opened the app out of boredom and closed it again almost immediately. The first one isn’t that bad, in my opinion. The second one however, that’s the kind of stuff I want to avoid, a habit I really want to work on breaking. All those little one minute sessions, I really want to stop them.

You can also view the whole week in the same way you can each day:

Over the course of one week, I spent 33 hours and 4 minutes on my phone.

168 hours to a week.

56 hours spent sleeping, if I sleep 8 hours a day.

Sleeping and phone stuff comes to 89 hours, so let’s just say 90 hours of the week.

168-90=78. I’ve spent more than half my time sleeping and on my phone. 53%. For only 47% of my week have I been awake and not on my phone. That’s kind of scary.

Let’s have a look at some other ways you can track your screen activity using the app ActionDash.

If you click on the icons in the circle of the opening screen, you can view the stats for that app daily, showing the time spent in it over the past week, and hourly, showing the stats for the day:

At the top of the home screen, you have some icons you can click on and it shows you different things as well:

The first icon, the cake diagram, is the start screen, which we’ve already covered. Next to it you can view the stats for screen time. The next icon shows the stats for app launches. Next to that, you can view notification stats. Lastly, the padlock symbolises unlocks, and you can view the stats for that as well.

So as you can see, there is a LOT of things you can view and track in the free version of this app, which is what I’ve been doing. Like I mentioned at the start, it is also possible to purchase a pro version, which gives you the additional benefits of stats beyond 7 days, enhanced usage graphs, no ads, dark theme, advanced customisation, and the possibility of restoring manual backups. It’s a one time upgrade which will cost you about £5 (my app store which is in Norwegian Kroner says it’s 45,-). Is it necessary? I don’t think so. I don’t feel the need to track more than the past 7 days, and if I were to I’d probably do it manually every day as it goes by in my bullet journal.

Just to show you, this is what days beyond the past 7 look like:

I don’t know if these are accurate, or if they just show that I’ve spent some time in these apps. One of them shows six apps in addition to “other”, while the other one only shows three – it could be that you need to spend over a specific amount of time in the app before it shows in the pie chart, I don’t know. I just wanted to show you what it looks like if you don’t upgrade to the pro version.

Final Thoughts

Is an app like this worth it? Is there a point to tracking your screen time like this?

I think it can be useful, yes. By using an app that tracks your time, you can become more aware of how you’re ACTUALLY spending your time, and that’s not a bad thing.

When I first downloaded the app, I was a bit obsessed with checking in multiple times a day and see how the pie chart and time change. In writing moment, it’s 2.40pm, I’ve unlocked my phone 53 times, had 192 notifications, and spent 1 hour and 17 minutes on my phone. It would probably have been more if I hadn’t spent the past couple of hours working on this blog post. The obsession wore off over time, but the first couple of days… I spent a lot of time checking in on the app to see how I was spending my time!

Have I learned anything? Yes. I’ve learned that I am way too guilty of the crime of unlocking my phone for no reason, and checking in on apps for less than a minute.

Will I change anything going forward? Eventually, I would like to. I’d like to eventually blacklist a lot of the apps in Forest that I’ve had whitelisted for a few months now, to stay off my phone completely when I have a tree or a bush growing, and to spend time on my phone on purpose, not just picking it up out of boredom. Eventually, I would like to change the bars on the stats, so that the “less than 1 minute” bar goes way down, and some of the higher ones go up. I’d like to plan out that I can spend the next 10 minutes on Twitter, that I can go on Instagram in the morning and at night. That I can play Pokemon GO when I’m out on walks. Those kinds of things. I’d like to be more mindful when it comes to how I spend time on my phone, and this app helped me to see that.

Have to  ever tracked your screen time?

What do you think of it, is it useful?

Related posts: SleepTown App (stay off your phone at night) // 2018 in Trees (Forest: Stay Focused app) // A Very Satisfying Forest (Forest: Stay Focused app)

Xoxo

Julie

You can laugh, but I don’t care.

People think I don’t know when they’re making fun of me. But I know. I just no longer care.

I know I’m a bit weird. Quirky. Odd. Strange. I don’t always pick up on irony and sarcasm, I too often take things too seriously and believe stuff that’s not true. I’m book smart, theoretical, and don’t always understand right away how some of the things that are obvious to a lot of people work. With a lot of things, I’m a bit slow, and I need things spelled out to me.

But I know when I’m being made fun of, laughed at behind my back… I know it. I’m aware that it happens.

But here’s the thing. The thing is, I don’t care about it. If people have nothing better to do than make fun of me, then I feel sorry for them. If that’s what they want to spend their time on, then that’s their time being wasted, their life. I’m not gonna waste my time caring about it, because I lose so much precious time that way. Life may be long, but it might be short. We never know how much time we’re gonna get and I don’t want to waste mine. I want to focus on doing things that are good for me, that bring joy to my soul. I don’t want to care about people who have negative opinions about me.

And I want to share a poem with you. It’s one of my favourite pieces of writing, I’ve copied it down so many times, and I might have shared it on my blog before, but I wanted to share it again:

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.

Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming.”

—Rachel C. Lewis, Tell The People You Love That You Love Them

Xoxo

Julie

Personal Update

I wanted to write an entry a day for all of April. I’ve been using the schedule system for that, writing when I have something to write about, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I’ve lost the will to do things. And that goes for everything, not just blogging. I feel like I’ve gone numb.

Yesterday a friend asked me to come with her to one of our uni campuses to sit and work from around noon, and I didn’t answer her because just the thought of working on my thesis made me feel tight chested and brought tears to my eyes. I feel bad for not working, but the thought of working sends me into panic, so what am I supposed to do? For now, I’m just avoiding it. When it came down to fight or flight, I fled. And I’m not proud of that. But I don’t know what to do.

I spent a lot of Easter watching Grey’s Anatomy and going on trips with my parents, visiting my grandparents and my great-grandmother, taking our car to a service shop, driving to a place in the middle of nowhere where someone’s made an American Diner where people come from far away to eat and see. And sleeping. A lot of sleeping. 8-10 hours a night of sleeping.

Since I got back to the city I’ve been hiding in my room, when I’m not out shopping. Yesterday I went and bought some stuff and walked around town for a while. After I’m done writing this entry I’m going to do that all over again.

I’m working this weekend, at the museum. And I’ve got two weekends in May, since a girl quit. I might as well sell tickets and glasses and books, and make some money, since I’m incapable of working on my thesis, right?

My heart hurts, and I don’t know why. My parents, uncle, and grandfather put my grandmother’s urn in the ground earlier this week. That might be a contributing factor…

How are you all doing, dear readers?

~ Julie

Life Update 

Hello!

This entry is a quick update to the one I wrote two days ago, that you can read here if you haven’t read it already. 

To recap quickly, I’m struggling with panic attacks and depression related to my master’s thesis being due on the 15th of May. The amount of work is what’s causing the anxiety, and the anxiety makes me unable to work, so it’s a vicious circle. Yesterday I had a meeting with a guidance counselor, and we were in her office for 30-40 minutes and talked, and decided that the best for me is to apply for an extension. I filled out a standard form yesterday, and even though she told me to ignore the fact that it says I need to provide academic reasons and all that. I was still nervous after filling it out, even though she said it would go to her and she would approve it. But this morning I got an email saying I’ve got an extension and my new deadline is November 15th.

I should feel relieved. But I don’t. I feel numb. And weird. My body is tingling. I’m thirsty. I’m sleepy. I feel weird. My boyfriend says it could just be stress, built up stress, possibly leaving my body. The counselor told me to take “a few weeks off” to relax and get some distance from the thesis. I’m going to work tonight, and tomorrow I have an Indian themed dinner party to attend. On Saturday, I’m going home to my parents. To relax. Take care of myself. But how? How do I do that? All I’ve done for 19 years is go to school. I don’t know how to relax and take care of myself… How do I do that? 

~ Julie 

Avocado Toast and Coffee

Good afternoon, readers! 

After an eventful day yesterday, with eight hours of uni and then visiting a friend’s house I wasn’t home until 10pm. Then, of course, the alarm box in the basement started beeping, and because it’s directly below my bedroom I can hear it very clearly. I called the security company for the student housing, and after some back and forth and being on the verge of tears on my part, they managed to turn it off. I was exhausted and cried a bit. My boyfriend told me I should turn off my alarm for this morning and sleep in and rest, which I did. Because of the time it takes me to travel to uni I decided to work from home today. And because I’m at home, I got the chance to make this delicious lunch: 


Two toasted slices of rye bread. Sprinkle with olive oil. Half an avocado on each slice. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. And of course: one cup of fresh, hot coffee on the side!

You should definitely try this if you haven’t already. Super delicious!

~ Julie