Group of men in an escape room.

I recently posted on Facebook something like this:  “Audrey: 4  Escape Rooms: 0”

Yes, I suppose it was bragging. But, I have done four different escape rooms (Escape Game Nashville, Which Way Out Knoxville, Escape Game Knoxville, and The Chamber in Columbus, OH) and I have been in a group that has escaped successfully all four times. In two of the rooms, I knew everybody in the group. In the other two, there was a group I knew but we were joined with another group for the experience.

That makes a difference.

I have enjoyed them all but some more than others. I have been thinking why. I think the novelty of the experience made the first one I tried my favorite. But, it also had the widest variety of puzzles to solve and required more teamwork than the others, I thought. In one game, there were 12 folks.

That is too many.

Yes, you need a team to get out in the time allowed. I don’t know how a team of two could do it, truthfully. And in one of the rooms, I know that I would have NEVER figured out one of the combinations based on the information given. I am just glad my brother was there who did figure it out. He explained it to me several times and I am still not quite sure I understand the logic.

These games are fun because you have to think and think fast. And think creatively. And work together. And communicate. The puzzles range from math word problems to listening to audio files and deciphering what is being said to reading maps and many more fun ways to test your mind. I think that is why I found it so techy-feely! You really have to apply both sides of the brain to get out of these rooms.

So, after telling some friends about them, one of them asked me to create a game room for their Halloween party. Sure, I said. That sounds like fun.

Oh boy! It was WAY harder than I thought it would be. I found myself drawing all kinds of flow charts and diagrams to make sure I didn’t make the room impossible to escape by locking a solution up in something that couldn’t be opened without that information. And, to get a wider variety of puzzles without making any real changes to the room (it was someone’s house rather than a commercial environment set up for an escape room business) was more of a challenge. I also wanted a theme to go along with my friends’ home and life. I did it. And, I thought it was pretty good. I also vastly underestimated how much time it would take a group to finish it. I thought 15 minutes but it was more like 30 with several big hints along the way. I wish another group had tried so I could compare some experiences.

I think if you are into puzzles and games, you are more likely to enjoy the experience. When I tell someone that you are locked in a room for an hour and have to try to get out, I mostly get reactions of fear and claustrophobia. It really isn’t like that. There is always a way out of the room. There is someone watching you and providing hints if you need them (or ask for them – up to a point). I think they want you to succeed. Although, the success rates for these rooms from what I can tell hovers between 25-30%, which I find astonishing.

I assumed that folks would start posting how to escape and the rates would go up, but when I was searching for inspiration for creating my own escape room, I was struck by how little information is out there on creating them or solving them. So, folks are keeping the secrets safe – which is better for the businesses and the experiences as well!

I found them fun. I will do more, I am sure. I also know I probably will meet one that I cannot defeat. Oh dear.


Photo credit: MYSTERY MANILA – Sinister’s Symposium-16.jpg

It has been almost a month and I have been steadily working on this transition from Android to iOS. I wanted to capture a few quick thoughts here while it was still a bit fresh on my mind.

The Apple Migration tool for moving from Android failed for me. Three times. I gave up.

Thus, I didn’t get to move things like:

  • Messages
  • Whats App messages
  • Settings/Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • And so forth

I was a bit disappointed with that fact. Actually, more than a bit. I really figured Apple had this migration thing figured out to get folks to move. But, I would hit 71% complete and freeze. I don’t know, truly, if it was an Apple thing or a file it hit that freaked the program out. Whatever it was, I had to go back to the manual approach.

I use Google for most things (being Android and all), so adding that account got mail back and most contacts. I did discover I had more phone-only contacts than I realized so I had to sit and do a side by side comparison to get those copied over manually. I did hate to lose my WhatsApp conversations as one of them is very important to me. I have exported it to my email and I have the media but I miss having the actual conversation in the interface. I suppose I should try to think of them as much more transitory but right now, that conversation felt like it needed to stay a more permanent fixture on my device and I just couldn’t get it to do that.

I have moved most photos. All are backed up on Flickr so I have them, just not in my hand when I want to scroll through and find them.

I have downloaded most apps that I had before. The only one I have not found a counterpart for is Regularly, which I really like. The Apple Reminders is fine for a single event/action. Regularly would remind me of things I needed to do on a regular (get it?) basis but not like an appointment. Things like changing the filter in my water filtration system or checking my birthday calendar so I can get cards purchased and in the mail and so forth. I am on the hunt for something similar.

I do miss a few things about Android that Apple just doesn’t do.

  • I like the hardware based menu button and the back button. I like getting to settings inside the app.
  • I liked getting to choose my wifi network when I enabled wifi rather than go to the setting menu from the main screen
  • I miss the easy “share” button in most apps. It is there in Apple but it is a different icon and I forget
  • I liked the Google reminders (leave now to make your appointment, etc)

But, the 6s is a NICE phone

  • It is zippy fast and I have loads more storage now
  • I love making quick videos with iMovie on the phone
  • I love the live photo feature
  • Siri seems to work for me about as well as the “Ok Google” bit did for me

I’ll keep playing around and let you know what else pops up.

Apple Computer and Android logos mergedMany folks are surprised when they seem me whip out my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S4). It is unusual, I suppose, for such an unabashed Apple fangirl to “stoop” to something outside of the ecosystem.

I did it for several reasons. First and foremost, for the longest time, my carrier (Sprint) didn’t have the iPhone in its arsenal and I really didn’t have the energy to time to mess with switching carriers. Also, I already owned an iPod touch (and subsequently an iPad) so I didn’t need to learn how iOS operated and how apps worked, etc. In my line of work, it pays to stay ahead of the tech curve and experiment with many different flavors of tools. That is why I can operate on Apple, Windows and Linux (sorta) and mouse with either hand!

So, I thought an experiment was in order to force myself to learn how Android worked when it was time to move from my Blackberry several years ago. And it was a good experiment. I learned about the different versions of Android. I also learned how behind some carriers are with updates as they push them out when they are ready (I guess) so I didn’t get KitKat for, what seemed like, a LOOOOOOONG time after I had read about it and wanted the newer features.

I have been thinking about going back to iPhone for a while now. Partly because I want to get everything back on Apple, partly because the new iPhones always seem so cool and I don’t have one and partly because my experiment has done its job.

My new job has exposed me to much more information about IT security and what all is out there “in the wild” in regards to threats for losing or compromising my data (and possibly the data of others) With the announcement of Stagefright and the exploit from a simple text message along with other, seemingly weekly, announcements of other Android exploits, my decision because clear. I needed to go back to the closed ecosystem of Apple.

I can argue both sides of open/closed ecosystems for development. I love the idea of open. Love. It. I want the creative expression that open allows when folks are provided tools for exploration and development. It makes the mind soar what we mere mortal humans can develop and create. However, some of these mortal humans create in order to destroy. I cannot explain why folks invented viruses, trojan horses, malware and the host of other nasty bits and bytes of code out there. But, they are there. And, the open ecosystem of Android means that there are WAY more out there for it than for Apple due to Apple’s review process for apps and controlled release of operating system versions. And, fixes for these are complicated to create and then deploy.

After learning so much about security, I understand and want to be protected from this potential danger. I simply cannot wait for Sprint to decide it will push a fix for Stagefright to me  which will only happen AFTER they had to wait for Google to push a fix to them. That is too long. Something bad will happen. Many phones will be affected. It won’t be pretty. I am hoping it won’t be me.

I am moving back to iPhone soon. Probably this weekend. (depends on when my pre-order iPhone 6s shows up)

This is the downside of changing technology – the change part. So, now I have the fun task of migrating data and all that goes with it. I recall changing from cable to satellite TV. That migration was painful only in the fact that I lost all of my “data” on the cable TV DVR. There really was no migration path. But, the DVR had died so I had lost the data anyway – it was just the fact that it was the 5th DVR that had died and I was over not being able to watch the programs I had recorded.

But, I digress.

Back to my phone, I have “things” I want to have all the time:

  • selected photos (they are also uploaded to my Flickr account as well – cloud backup storage for the win)
  • call logs
  • texting logs and texts
  • my WhatsApp messages
  • contacts
  • calendars (I use two different calendars: Exchange for work and Google for personal. It took me WAY TOO LONG to find an Android app that would merge both into an interface I liked and reliably sync both to and from my phone, iPad, office and home computers. Business Calendar Pro was the answer, if you are in Android and have the same issue)
  • data from my UP app and Jawbone
  • important things like my bowling score app 🙂

I am curious to see how Apple’s new Move to iOS app will work as described when I first read about it this past summer. I have it downloaded on my Galaxy phone ready for action. If the propaganda is true, this will be the easiest migration ever (even moving from Galaxy S 3 to 4 was a pain). The reviews are bad right now so that makes me wonder. But, the comments seem mostly from folks who are mad that Apple would even put this app in the Google Play store. That makes sense. Google does finally play nicely with Apple stuff and I can use my Google ecosystem, of which I am pretty well vested, on either device. If only Apple would put their stuff on Google’s platform and then consumers win as they can pick and choose the device that works best for them – size-wise, cost-wise, memory-wise and so forth.

So, in short order, time will tell if my migration is short and easy or will take time and effort. If short and easy, we may find switchers going back and forth all of the time. Apple may have anticipated that and that is another reason why they are offering the Apple iPhone Forever plan so they keep you locked in.

I will report back how my migration went and what lessons I learned. Stay tuned.


Image Credit: Appdroid & Anedople by Tsahi Levent-Levi used by Creative Commons License.

“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” – Lao Tzu (Philosopher – 6th century BC)

Two months ago, I lost one of my best friends to cancer. His decline was quick and unexpected as we were told the day before he died that treatments would begin the next day and had a high percentage of success. He was a professor and choral director. The students who he taught have been processing the death ever since, mostly on Facebook. We used FB to organize choirs for his service and a college concert that turned into a tribute to him. They also post (at all hours of the day and night) how they are feeling, how they miss him, how he changed their lives. The replies from each other are all so supportive and loving. The community is strong and I know that the grief work being done there is effective and useful. But, it is so not for me. I have posted very little about him after the immediate reaction to his death.

It is interesting to me to see how some people process their grief (and other emotions) on Facebook and other media. That is usually not my way. But, hell, I guess that is what I am doing right now – albeit with a much more small scale of readers (Bueller? Bueller?). But, it does help to write it down. Sometimes I scribble in a notebook. Sometimes I write on Penzu for myself. Sometimes, I decide to be more public and go here to good ole T-F.

Yesterday, on Facebook, a friend posted a link to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent post about end of her first 30 days mourning her husband’s death. It was an emotional, well-written piece of work. And, it struck a chord with me.

The similarities between her husband’s sudden death and the loss of my beloved almost 2 years ago are very strong. That, in and of itself, was enough to give me a strong emotional reaction to her pain. But, I also was reacting to her work after almost 24 months of grief and the processing and struggle that go with it.

From her post:

I have learned that resilience can be learned.  Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.

The middle “thing” she thinks is critical is the one I have had to focus on and the one that I have seen the most change for my life. Grief doesn’t leave. But, it does change. It does lighten. So, you don’t feel like you do after 30 days forever. Thank goodness because none of us would ever be able to function again.

But, she also says that doesn’t think she will find “pure joy” again. I have to disagree. Yes, you feel like that after 30 days. You feel like that after 1 year. You feel like that for a long, long time. But, slowly, VERY slowly, you will notice at some point that you are laughing, truly laughing and the oppressive grief didn’t come in and ruin it. You notice something delightful and are able to enjoy it for longer than a second before tears come.

Last night, I was able to go enjoy a spectacle of nature that only happens here in my neck of the woods.


I have seen them before. Yes, WE saw them before. And, last night, as the “show” was starting. I felt myself tearing up. Part of me wanted to cry. Part of me wanted to mourn the fact that I had shared this awesome site with the person I loved the most and now I could not. But, I didn’t go there. And, for once, I didn’t have to fight it to not go there.

I was with my family. They had not seen it before. And, so I went back in my mind to awe and joy. It is an amazing event. I found myself staring into the deep woods, enjoying the darkness, and then delighting in the light show and then celebrating that it just went back to dark for 6 seconds. Then it repeats. For several hours. The crowd that was milling around before it started quickly got quiet as the flickering began. There were whispers of conversations but everyone was really in awe, I believe, as we witnessed this amazing display of nature.

So, we all process our grief in different way and through different media. I am so very sorry for Sheryl’s loss. I have empathy for what she is going through and I feel like she has the support she needs to make the journey through her grief over time. I also know that she can find pure joy again. I hope it comes to her and anyone else who needs it sooner rather than later.



I swear, I do not intend to turn this blog into a tech after death kind of blog but right now, that is what I keep finding is blog-worthy of my energy.

Legacy ContactRelated to my earlier posts on dealing with social media after death, Facebook has taken it a step further now and provided a means for someone to add a Legacy Contact to your account. You can find it from the Security Settings in your account on the site. And, yes, it is also in the mobile version.


When you add a Legacy Contact there, you can also choose to send a message to that person. The default message read:

Hi [Contact Name], Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them:

Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.


You also have the option to allow that contact to download your content (not messages) and/or choose to have your account deleted.

This change also includes adding the word “Remembering” to a memorialized page, which is a process I mentioned earlier. That change has already been put in place, it seems.Screenshot of KLA's FB page


These changes are for United States accounts right now but I bet they will roll out globally in the fairly near future.


I am acutely aware that I am getting older. One very real factor that drives this home is the increase in the number of funerals I could/should attend. Some of these are untimely and way too early.

But, some have been after a long life well-lived. But they still hurt nonetheless.

I just learned of another death yesterday. I had known him since I was in junior high school when I attended summer camp and he was the camp leader. Later, in college, he hired me to be a counselor and subsequently kept hiring me back with increasing responsibility through waterfront and then to be an area director where I led the high school program that involved lots of camping, backpacking, hiking, canoeing and other such fun things among other tasks. Most importantly, whether he knew it or not, he was one of my best mentors.

Mentors are hard to pin down. I think back over my life and I can think of a few people who I believe were very good at mentoring me. The most successful were the organic mentors – the relationship just evolved into that. I have asked people to mentor me in the past and that has not really worked out as I don’t tend to ask for their help and they are not really so engaged in what I am doing that they can offer help just by being around.

But, this man was a mentor to me. When I was working as a young counselor, we would pester him with so many theological questions (it was a Lutheran camp, after all). His answers were infuriating most of the time. Like, “Does it matter?” when you asked if Judas was in heaven or hell.

Now, I understand he was pushing us to a mature faith and not one with so many didactic and concrete questions.

He had his challenges and some of his choices later in life gave me much pain as I had a hard time holding on to him as a mentor. But, when I look at the grand scheme of the time we walked together on this earth, he was a good friend, a kind soul, a strong mentor and someone who will be missed.

I hope he has found peace in his heart. As for me, I am still searching for that.

Just a quick update to what I have decided to do and what I have learned.

I was so hesitant to just close down social networking/media accounts without having the data itself with me. So, I started digging around.

The Twitter account did have the archive button so I was able to grab all of the tweets from the account before I closed it. The archive comes as a zip and then opens into a mini-“web page” with HTML pages listing the tweets in order of their posting.

I have also requested an archive of the Facebook Data. You can do that by clicking on the gear icon in the top right of your Facebook page and choosing Account Settings. Then, in tiny print in the bottom of the screen, you can request an archive.

screenshot of Facebook showing where to click for requesting archive of files.The archive contains (according to the Facebook page about requesting your data)

  • your timeline info,
  • posts you have shared,
  • messages,
  • photos and more.
  • Additionally, it includes information that is not available simply by logging into your account, like the ads you have clicked on, data like the IP addresses that are logged when you log into or out of Facebook, and more. To download your information, go to your Account Settings and click

After I have that data, I will make the request to convert the page to a memorial page. This will keep it on Facebook and only confirmed friends can see it. It cannot be found by search, it cannot be logged into, no one can request to be a friend and the person will not show up in the “You need to reconnect” suggestion box or ads, etc.

I am sure there will be more but that is it for now.


tree in middle of graveyardIn the aftermath of the recent death in my life, there has been a lot of work to “close” a person’s life.  In addition to dealing with clothes, shoes, books, memorabilia, CDs, financial dealings, retirement accounts and automobiles, I have also been faced with several decisions regarding email accounts, social media, cloud storage, web sites and blogs.

What do we do with these electronic artifacts after someone dies? I really don’t have a good answer. But there are services and resources out there to help.

I have left the email accounts open. I was fortunate to have access to the deceased person’s password manager so that has not been a problem to get to the accounts. I can certainly see how it would be difficult for an executor to deal with such accounts without knowing the passwords or even the accounts’ existence. If you need to plan something like that, sometimes just encrypted plain text files sent to a trusted relative or friend can work or you can use a service like AssetLock for storage of that kind of information.

I have closed some social networking accounts, like LinkedIn. That seemed like an easy decision. Others, such as Facebook, I have left open – although some hacker started impersonating the account, which was very disturbing to friends and family. I have that under control now (here’s how to report a fake account) and my friend, Donn, did a great post on how to help prevent that from happening again. The Facebook account feels like it needs to stay open because folks are still posting things on her wall, although with much less frequency as time moves forward. I do know I can request the page to be turned into a memorial page and I will probably do that soon, especially after this recent hack incident.

The website is active but I replaced the site with a simple page stating the the business was closed due to the death of the owner. The blogs are still active but I posted a “final” message on them stating that the podcasts would cease. I think the archive of the blogs still should stand. Renewing the domain name is not that expensive and it seems like a good tribute and legacy.

I downloaded one account of cloud storage to get the photographs and then closed the account since it would cost about $100 to keep it up and running for another year and that seemed unnecessary. I would have appreciated the company providing a bulk download tool or option to get all of the photos out easier but that is another blog post, I believe.

Then, there is Twitter. I have left the Twitter account open but I probably should close it but how to gather all those past tweets? I guess I will need to see if the account has the archive feature. And, of course, there are no more tweets forthcoming making me recall services like DeadSocial, which provide a means for you to write and prepare your messages to Facebook, Twitter and the like after your death. Someone (an “executor”) has to log into the account and activate these messages so they just don’t get sent out automatically if you don’t respond but they still can go out – and keep going out weeks after you are gone, if you desire and write them. If you don’t like the idea of someone having to go “flip the switch” for your messages, you can go with the Dead Man’s Switch approach of having to check in periodically and when you quit doing that, the messages are sent.

You can also use the Facebook app, If I Die, to prepare a video that is published after your death. I guess that is one way to know exactly what your “last words” could be. And, perhaps involve your cat in the video as well.

And, then there is Google. Ah, leave it to The Google to have a solution: The Inactive Account Manager. Set that up in the account settings and…

For example, you can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided.


I haven’t EVEN started to figure out how (or if) I can transfer iTunes purchases and eBooks. I am thinking that I probably cannot transfer them so that is another argument for being sure you pass along your account information to someone who might want to have access to that digital content.

For more information on your digital afterlife and planning, check out The Digital Beyond.

Image: ‘The Raised Bones of Arlington National Cemetery
Found on

I have been quiet on this blog because I am dealing with a death. It has been and continues to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. A friend sent me this poem. I hope I get to the point of the end of it at some time in the near future.

For Grief
by John O’Donohue

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.