Sunday, August 31, 2008
I snapped this shot outside Plaza Singapura. I'd love to meet the marketing genius at Rocky Masters who came up with the name of this dish. I guess I could tell them that in the states we call it a pot pie, but I think that might have an entirely different connotation attached to it.
For your information, "pot pie" is actually a mispronunciation of the Pennsylvania Dutch term "bott boi." (via Wikipedia)
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Donald Miller, the man who recently gave a benediction at the Democratic National Convention, has been sending e-mails to Barack Obama. He's posted the e-mail conversation on his new blog.
Here's a sample of their correspondence:
Barack, dude, that first line freaked me out. For a second I was like, no way, he’s surrounded by secret service. And then I was picturing some kind of fight club in the basement of the White House where Dick Cheney and Karl Rove pummel each other in order to “feel.” Did you see that movie? Chuck Palhniuk is from Portland, you know. He’s a bit strange. To be honest, man, I’m strapped for cash right now. I bought a couple t-shirts at the rally and a bumper-sticker but that’s all the money I had. I should have some money coming in next week and I’ll float you something. Do you need to pick up a flag pin? I’ve got one if you need it. It was my uncles.
P.S. My friends call me Don, so
THIRD E-MAIL FROM BARACK:
I’m about to take the stage in St. Paul and announce that we have won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. It’s been a long journey, and we should all pause to thank Hillary Clinton, who made history in this campaign. Our party and our country are better off because of her. It’s going to take hard work, but thanks to you and millions of other donors and volunteers, no one has ever been more prepared for such a challenge. Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us here. Let’s keep making history.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
If you live in Missouri and lead Christian worship, you may be interested in this item that was recently forwarded to me:
Kurt Downing to be at MOVEKurt Downing will the be the worship leader at this year’s MOVE Conference. He led worship weekly at MU for three years with over 300 college students attending. He will offer a worship leader’s workshop at each of the three MOVE Conference locations. Three locations, three days from which to choose (Sept. 22 Joplin, Sept. 26 Kirkwood, September 27 Sedalia). Saint Paul’s UMC Joplin and First Church Sedalia are teaming up again. It’s local churches helping local churches. No experts...just fellow explorers. Cost of the day is $30 per person. Register online at http://www.firstsayyes.com/.
Kurt Dowing is the most sincere and humble worship leader that I know. Whether he is retooling and performing old hymns, sharing songs that he has written, or leading the crowd in worship favorites, Kurt Downing has the God-given ability to lead people closer to Christ with his music.
In the early part of this decade, Kurt led the worship nearly every week while I was a student at Mizzou and attended the Christian Campus House. I've also heard him sing songs for staff and campers at the Colorado Christian Service Camp in Como, Colorado.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The folks at Silver Dollar City Fans Forum (SDCFans.com) are having an an exciting conversation about the Fire in the Hole ride.
First, someone has validated the claim that the Fire in the Hole ride has significantly changed over the years. How come nobody knows the specific changes? The changes were made in 1982. A fairly substantial section of the ride was removed. There's even a picture that shows some tracks going back underneath a curtain. Unfortunately no one knows exactly what was removed because it happened so long ago.
Second, someone has publish a ride walk through that is better than my own. There is a ride breakdown that includes sections of the ride that have been refurbished. Check out the creepy long-haired guy in the saloon.
Please don't just look at these pictures. A fan who goes by the alias Copper has updated these and more. Please go look at his amazing and detailed collection.
Third, there's an old Silver Dollar City Fire in the Hole theme song that has been republished. Here's the first verse.
Baldknobbers comin’, ridin’ fast, armed with rifles, wearin’ masks
Baldknobbers comin’ they’re drawin’ near, everyone’s heart is filled with fear
Run boys run; don’t be slow, Baldknobbers comin’, there’s Fire in the Hole
Run boys run; don’t be slow, Baldknobbers comin’, there’s Fire in the Hole
Read the rest here.
Fourth, some of the Silver Dollar City fans have read my review and seen my pictures. They have requested that I add information about the historical background concerning the ride. If you care, check out the updates on my old post.
Rick Warren believes God has predestined everything and everyone with a purpose. If anyone has any deep theological insights as to why this video exists, please clue me in.
At least this one has done a little better with the production values. I suppose it might change a person's life. That is if that person is totally lame.
This next guy takes himself a tad too seriously.
At least this one makes me laugh (but it is based on a Sir Mix-a-lot song and not a Vanilla Ice song.) .
Monday, August 25, 2008
Christian author Donald Miller has been asked lead a short benediction for the Democratic National Convention tonight. He will post the prayer on his website before reading it at the event.
My crazy flatmate signed up with a service called Couchsurfing.com. It allows you to go to different nations and sleep on other people's couches as long as you agree to let the occasional random person sleep on your couch.
It sounds creepy, and I'm still a little skeptical; but my flatmate hosted his first couch surfers this weekend and the experience wasn't that bad. He brought in three Hungarian backpacks.
They were three college students on their way to study in Indonesia for a year.
One of them is a journalist and a very talented photographer. His favorite film is the black and white Kodak Tri-x 320.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Last year I played in the world's longest continuous game of four square. The International Community School in Singapore had fifteen other people and me playing four square for twenty five continuous hours, stopping only to take breaks as specified by the Guiness World Records rules. The event served as a fund raiser for a junior high mission trip to India.
Well, our record has now been surpassed. On August 13, eight teens in Liberty Township, Ohio have played foursquare for 28 hours without stopping.
Read the full story from Vindy.com
Watch the video at WorldAmazingRecords.com
Read my original blog post about setting the world record
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Every time I log out of blogger it takes me back to the Blogger login screen that features a continually rolling list of recently updates blogs.
Today on a lark I clicked on one of these links (risky, I know) and happened upon a blog that detailed the experiences of a pregnant Colorado woman. Some of the blog posts were cute pictures of her and her pregnant friends, others were descriptions of her pregnancy classes, a few pictures of family were thrown into the mix.
Yet one post was more shocking than a fork in a 220-volt outlet, a picture of the blogger in her third trimester drinking a bottle of Japanese Kirin Ichiban Premium Reserve, a 5% alcohol beer.
I guess I don't know much about being pregnant, but I've met mothers who were scared to sip coffee during pregnancy; they would be more likely to sip bleach that beer. To be fair, I've also read that European doctors say no alcohol until the third trimester, while liability-scared American doctors say no alcohol at all; but either way it is truly reckless to think that a woman would take the even-minute chance of giving her infant fetal alcohol syndrome and documenting the evidence on the internet for the whole world to see.
For now, I won't post the URL to the original blog. What's done is done, and I don't really want to cause the woman grief, ruin her life, or direct a bunch of comment trolls toward her blog.
But folks, when you blog please think about the messages that you are sending to the rest of the world and who has access to it.
A few weeks ago I posted about the catalysts that led me to take up the implementation of Dave Allen's GTD system.
Today I've decided to post a list of resources that may help other teachers implement this conceptual framework:
I've found an online slideshow (posted via Tim Kwiatkowski) that explains what the GTD system is all about.
If you prefer the low-tech route, Scott Elias has a list of items that he uses to implement the GTD system. (The only electronic item that he uses is a calendar.)
The D*I*Y Planner blog has a DIY/GTD Teacher Kit this is a twenty-one page PDF file that you can download for free.
The Freshplans Xanga site has some helpful flowcharts that illustrate the GTD workflow.
If you are super low-tech the Atrium has a step-by-step article about how to create a PDA out of duct tape.
If you live in or around Missouri and happen to be a Joel Hodgson fan, the Cinematic Titanic live show will be in St. Louis on November 1. Tickets go on sale today.
BTW- I won't get to go because, obviously, I am living on the opposite hemisphere in Singapore, but I just bought the third Cinematic Titanic episode "The Wasp Woman." If there are five or ten fans that might happen to live on this island of four million that want to watch all three episodes back to back we could book a place and have a mini-convention. (I'm not sure about the procedures and laws are for doing something like that in Singapore; I guess if there is enough response, I can look them up.)
Friday, August 22, 2008
When I attended the "Weird Al" concert at the Ozark Empire Fair, I saw this t-shirt for sale at the souvenir stand. I almost bought it, but then I realized that I'm twenty-seven years old and there's only one socially acceptable place to wear a shirt like this- future "Weird Al" concerts.
I decided to save my $25 and take a picture. I'm getting too old.
If you're younger and less conscientious, you can but the t-shirt at "Weird Al" Yankovic's official website.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
If you're planning on coming to Singapore from the United States on a working stint, as a student, or as a tourist. You should plan on bringing your favorite over-the-counter medications. The population density, the spicy food, and going between air conditioned and non-air conditioned environments can take a toll on your immune system.
In Singapore, if you want the equivalent of Extra Strength Tylenol or NyQuil, you've got to visit a doctor.
Today I had to take sick leave from work for the first time in three years. I've also had this bottle of NyQuil stashed in my refrigerator for over a year. Even though I don't normally take medicine, I decided to crack it open.
I've got nagging congestion that won't go away. I thought I was on the downhill slide until I took my temperature today and found that I had a fever of 101.5
I guess this means I WON'T be running the Army 10K this weekend. My registration fee is going down the drain.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
On another blog I saw a terrible verbal outburst by a crazy hippy university debate coach. The scene was actually too vulgar for me to consider posting on this blog. When I clicked on the link I never thought that I would never see such a low-taste verbal assault by two university professors.
However, watching the encounter led me to recall some of the out-of-control cross examination debate war stories I used to hear about from college debaters at debate camp. Most of these stories were good examples of what not to do.
These memories led me to wonder if any college level cross-examination debates are online, and I discovered that they were. To see some intellect spewed out faster than the Micro-machine man play the video and pull the slider over to the 11:45 mark. You've probably never seen someone talk so fast.
This particular match is between Missouri State and CN.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Over the weekend I attended Celebrate Drama '08 short film screening. For a mere five dollars I was able to sit in a theater for nearly three hours and watch locally produced short films. As I sat watching the films, I was surprised to find the diversity and artistry in locally produced short films. I really never thought that I'd see anything except My Sassy Neighbor or Maggie & Me set in an HDB block.
The first film on the roster was the artistic and lighthearted and fantastical Colours. This short is about a colorblind girl that discovers a set of glasses that corrects her problem, allowing her to see the world with wonder and splendor.
The most clever and original film of the festival was Jacen Tan's Zo Gang (Go Work), a film about a guy going to a boring job but dreaming about all of the exciting films he could be making. If you want to check out a little bit of Singaporean humor, his material is available on YouTube and his website Hosaywood.com
Following this clever film was one of the most tragic films of the festival. Magdalene Tan and Brian Liau starred in Regrets, a heart wrenching 2006 film about a young teenage couple that faces the agonizing question of abortion. Thankfully the couple chooses life, but the ending of the film still manages to leave sorrow on the hearts of the viewers.
Pak and Son Travel was a truly bizarre and almost unexplainable film, a mockumentary about a fictional travel agency celebrating their 20th year in business.
The best satire of the day was The Podfather. This Godfather spoof featured an I-pod selling Don Briyani whose business was threatened by the up-and-coming cell phone market. Unfortunately, the ending falls short and feels incomplete. It felt like I was watching Saturday Night Live and Lorne Michaels hit the commercial button a little early on a really funny sketch.
The second half of the films on the roster were disturbing and meant for mature audiences. Fortunately, I am in Singapore and nothing was too explicit, but I can barely believe that some of these films made it past the Singapore board of censors.
One of the only short films that was actually shown of film (as opposed to an LCD projector) was Kichiro. This blood-bath of a film is a homage to ultra-violent Japanese drama; in fact, most of the dialog is in Japanese. Kichiro is about two disturbed and perverted Japanese youth who go on a stabbing spree in a classroom and are only stopped after being shot by the police.
Two films detailed the dark, gritty side of living in Singapore's HDB flats. Block 46, directed by Ghazi Alqudcy, is short documentary style and tells a fictional story about six people who live in Bedok Ave. 3, Block 46 and commit suicide on the same day. My Blue Heaven tells the story of an abusive father and how the son is affected by the father's addictions.
One noteworthy film is Mark Kwan's Scenes from a Breakup, a realistic story about a couple that decided to move on from their relationship.
I've left a few of the films out of the summary, but these are the ones that will stick with me. I can't wait to see more Singaporean films, and it is my aspiration that some day my students will be contributing to Singapore's local film scene.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
For a Westerner in Singapore, I'm a durian lover- that is, I'll eat a couple of pieces a few times a year without too much grumbling and complaining. I enjoy the distinctive flavor and the unique texture; and I tolerate the smell.
However, I can't imagine how durian tissues can be a comfort to anyone. While they are just normal tissues, even the thought of putting anything that has been close to a durian in close proximity to my flu or sinus-infected nose sends shivers down my spine.
The Donut Empire was allowing school girls to sell their products to help the Singapore Drama Educator's Association Outreach Fund, a program to help underprivileged youth have access to drama education.
I spotted this Oreo donut for sale and thought to myself, "If I can make the world a better place by eating two of my favorite confectioneries combined into one, why shouldn't I?"
Saturday, August 16, 2008
This morning I attended the Social Media Breakfast hosted at Singapore's Asian Civilization Museum. There was supposed to be a speaker and an informal discussion, but everyone seemed satisfied mingling around the room, discussing their blogs, and getting to know one another.
The first person I met was Dorthy Poon, a freelance designer.
Two of the organizers were Daryl Tay, an SMU student and former MTV Asia staffer and Claudia from her tech blog claudia.sg.
I was also able to meet DK, an avid blogger and a guy who has been on my facebook contact list for quite some time. (It was through his feed that I found out about the event.)
I was also able to meet U-zyn Chua, the tech guru that founded ping.sg. He also invited me to a dim sum lunch where I met three of his friends and blogger named Daphne.
Mini-tea, Oh Look, Krill! blog author, introduced herself.
Sebastien Deschamps told everyone about his new expat search engine called Interexpat, an edited search engine for foreigners living outside of their home country.
I had a fairly long conversation with Andrew Peters, a marketing and PR consultant who works on a variety of tech projects and corporate blogs.
Todd Murray is an Australian who was plugging a new internet television web startup called Activechannel.
Since the event was hosted at the Asian Civilizations Museum by the National Heritage Board, many NHB staffers were there including Kenny Ng, Walter Leng, and Chin Wei Chong.
The breakfast was even covered by the press; Mediacorp's Today paper reporter Alicia Wong was on the scene interviewing people.
I'm sure I missed some people. The people listed here are only the ones that gave me cards. If I did miss you just remind me in the comments section and I'll add you to the list.
It was great to meet everyone and a few pictures will be posted soon!
Friday, August 15, 2008
As a child I can remember being mesmerized by the signs outside of the freak show at the Ozark Empire Fair. There would be a gigantic display with paintings of fantastic creatures, odd ball people, bizarre creatures, and extra-natural apparitions.
For a variety of reasons, I never went inside the freak shows of the fairs of my youth. Sometimes I didn't have enough money. The three dollar admission is pretty steep when you're an eleven year old with a five-dollar-a-week allowance. Other times I was filled with too much pity. Sure, I wanted to go see the sword swallower push a florescent light down his throat, but then there was, at least reported by my friends, a midget Filipino woman sitting inside for observation, much like a circus animal.
After nearly ten years of absence, the "Weird Al" concert was the catalyst the drew me back to the Ozark Empire Fair and this year on a whim I decided it was time to face my curiosity- I'd go inside the freak show. I was shocked that the concept of a freak show still even exists. How can this politically-correct, all-inclusive age tolerate calling anyone a "freak"?
I didn't know quite what to expect. The signs outside promised a two headed baby, gargantuan and midget people, and a wide array of crypto-zoological animals. Fortunately, there was nothing to stir my pity. There were no real midgets, Siamese infants, or laboratory reject man-beasts. But there were a wide array of gross-out objects and questionable replicas.
Cameras weren't allowed and I was too intimidated by the tattooed carney folk to test the rules. You'll just have to believe me. First, there were some animals on display. There was a live cow with a parasitic twin. You might feel bad about gawking at this until you realize that most farmers would grind something like this into hamburger. There were a few turtles on display, a pair of long neck turtles, an injured one-eyed turtle, and a conjoined twin turtle. The freak show did contain some cute animals: a miniature horse and a New Zealand capybara, the world's largest rodent.
Most of the disturbing creatures contained in the display were preserved in formaldehyde. There was a deformed baboon under glass as well as several snakes. The really freaky things were all totally fake, sure they belonged in a freak show; but they just weren't real. There were a couple of carefully crafted mermaid skeletons, as well as a preserved Mexican chupacabra, a legendary creature said to suck the blood out of goats. And what about the real freaks, the midgets, and armless, and superhumans? They were displayed in black and white photos on the wall of the exhibit.
By the way, the two-headed baby is totally just a doll on display sitting above a sign that said "replica." How amazing? If I ran a freak show, I might put up a mirror on the inside. The folks like me that pay two dollars two see this junk are the real freaks!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
On the 28th of July, "Weird Al" Yankovic preformed at the Ozark Empire Fair. "Weird Al" has a couple of songs about Star Wars and in order to have some back-up dancers on the stage he asked some of the 70th Explorers, a group of people that get their kicks dressing up in Star Wars costumes, for a little help. He obviously gave them all backstage passes. These storm troopers were roving around the stadium, taking home videos, and posing for the fans' cameras.
The have taken a large number of pictures from the concert and posted them here.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I've just bought one of the best routers, the Linksys WRT54G; it has open source software, the documentation is good, and there's a lot of support for it, but with Singnet I had a struggle to make it work. And if you do a search, there are countless other people who have had the same struggle.
The problem is that Singtel requires its customers to use crippled Speedtouch 516 modems that don't easily go into bridge mode. Some people have gone so far as to flash their modems to get the proper functionality from them. Fortunately, I've found a simpler way.
Hook your modem, WRT54G, and your computer up properly. Now turn on your computer and in the address bar go to http://10.0.0.138. Make sure that you've typed all of the information in correctly. Find the configuration menu that allows you to assign a static IP to a piece of hardware. Set a permanent IP address to your router.
Next go to your router's IP address, usually this 192.168.1.1 (it also might work to go to the static IP that you just assigned) and make the configuration look like this.
Voila! You now have a Linksys WRT54G router, a Thompson Speedtouch 516, and a Singnet connection properly working. It would be better if Singnet would just allow advanced configuration on its modems, and I still think that I need to set up a better DNS configuration to get a faster connection but at least it works.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
With creating lesson plans and managing my multi-million dollar blogging empire, I just don't have time for all of the celebs that seek my attention to get on the Slog. But when a group with the stature of Captain Crunch and the Funky Bunch comes my way, I have no choice but to stop what I'm doing and listen.
Captain Crunch and the Funky Bunch selected me to interview them and it is my pleasure to present you with their responses:
I grew up in the wilds of Oregon. My momma would say, "Go kill me a 'coon, and I'll teach you to sing." Now I have two loves in life- 'coon huntin' and singin'.
What brings an ang moh like you to Singapore?
I live for good eatin' and that's why I moved across the pond to Singapore. I heard-tell that monkeys down in Bukit Timah are better eating than the 'possum innards momma used to make.
What do you think of Dove soap?
It's better than the lye soap that Pop used to render after the annual hog kill.
What are your music influences?
My main influence is Tiny Tim; he was truly one of the greatest. But we've all got a strong liking for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Those guys are definitely at the top of our list.
What brings an ang moh like you to Singapore?
After graduation I came to Asia for a plastic surgery celebration vacation. I was about to leave, (especially after I saw that creepy Edwin Thumboo video at the museum), but a politician stopped me. He said I was a special kind of Asian, one called a Caulk-Asian and that since I had a degree (check my hat) I could be classified as "foreign talent."
What do you think of Dove soap?
It makes my skin soft and smooth, just the way I like it.
Who taught you how to sing?
Growing up in Texas you get to rub shoulders with some of the most gifted musicians- Roy Rogers, George Strait, Chuck Norris, George W. Bush, and Ross Perot. When you grow up in a place like Texas you can't help but have refined musical taste.
What brings an ang moh like you to Singapore?
I'm pretty good friends with Peter, and I've been coming to Singapore since my time in 'Nam. Sometimes you just get tired of reasonable property prices and you just wish that your rent was a little higher. I've got some dolphins saddled up for a big across-the-ocean cattle drive after I win this here singin' competition. If they can make the swim, there'll be a heard of cattle living in Bukit Timah next year.
What do you think of Dove soap?
It does a dandy job of cleaning out all of the sagebrush that gets stuck behind my ears.
My previous post detailing the beginnings of Captain Cruch and the Funky Bunch.
The place to go to vote for the Funky Bunch's world famous video.
The latest pop sensation to hit the ears of Singaporeans is known as Captain Crunch and the Funky Bunch. Known by fans as CCFB, Jason Goodetimes, Peter Crowler, and Sam Heischman form to create this talented trio.
Their innovative and diverse repertoire consists mostly of Elvis hits, eighties monster rock ballads, and the occasional Fresh Prince cover.
Captain Crunch and the Funky Bunch began their meteoric rise to fame when they were discovered by an unnamed senior executive from the Dove Manufacturing company, a subsidiary of Unilever. While showering in the locker room at the Orchard Road branch of California Fitness, the senior executive heard a near perfect version of Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" coming from the shower stall next to him. He jumped up and peeked over the wall and was dumbfounded when he saw three grown men showering together, wearing wacky hats, lathered-up, and creating beautiful harmony.
"I'll do everything in my power to make you the new face of Dove soap" the executive is reported to have said, "but to prove yourself you must do one more thing- win the Dove Shower OK singing competition."
The three ang mohs loaded their sound equipment into their van and contacted avant-garde costume designer Pierre Beeshon. They spent the next three days perfecting their act.
Last week Captain Crunch and the Funky Bunch performed live at Singapore's Vivo City and the performance was simulcast on Google's Youtube. The crowd was wild and out of control; Sam Hieshmann's chicken suit was torn off by one screaming Auntie, rendering him with nothing but his suspenders and a Davy Crockett hat, and the cinematographer's sound team could barely capture the audio over the incessant screaming from the fans.
Nevertheless, the group is sure to win. Thousands of Singaporeans and PRs are planning to log onto DoveShowerOk.com and cast all ten of their votes for the group.
When assured he would remain anonymous, one YouTube staff member was quoted as saying, "These guys will definitely win. Their fans are loyal and the outcome is unstoppable."
The few people who haven't yet registered to vote can do so at Dove's official site.
Boredom as a temporary state is another matter, and in part reflects the obvious: that the brain has concluded there is nothing new or useful it can learn from an environment, a person, an event, a paragraph.
After a disappointing foray with M1, I've returned to Singnet. I didn't want to commit to a two year plan, so I was stuck with the lame 3Mbps twelve month plan. It looks like I'm getting what I'm paying for with the download speed, but the upload speed with this plan is horrendous.
Friday, August 08, 2008
At one time in the distance past, Singapore's Sentosa Island Resort was littered with a lot of cool concrete statues. There were over-sized concrete figures from Chinese mythology, random toadstools, dragons, mermaids, gigantic scorpions, and produce. Now with the movement of ultramodern casinos integrated resorts, all of those cool statues are in a dilapidated state and surely on their way out. Here's a picture of a gigantic concrete durian, rambutan, and capsicum that I found weathering in a corner.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Deciding that ditching my stuff and starting a new attempt at piling and being unorganized was madness, I decided to get organized. However, I didn't quite know how to go about it. Fortunately, through reading Merlin Mann's 43Folders.com, I found the Getting Things Done system, a conceptual framework developed by productivity guru Dave Allen.
Allen's system allows you to divide every detail of your life into three categories: things that need to be acted upon, things that need to be analyzed and stored, and things that need to be thrown away. The parts of your life that need to be acted upon are dealt with by creating extensive lists of actionable items and religiously adhering to a schedule to accomplish them. The items that need to be analyzed and stored are things that are thrown at your way, but don't require you to do anything in the immediate future. This category includes information like changes in your insurance premiums, tax documents, and catalogs. These items should be stored in a way that makes it easy for you to retrieve when you need them. And, obviously, the items to be discarded are removed from your life and stored in that special and permanent vertical filing cabinet.
I'll spare all of the details and intricacies of the system, but a quick and easy way to demonstrate a typical Dave Allen productivity tip is by explaining how he suggests you analyze your e-mail. Allen says that your Inbox should be empty at all times and you should route mail into two main folders: @Action, and Read/Review. The @Action folder is for e-mails that required follow-up with phone calls and mailing lists. If the action will take less than five minutes, it should be done immediately. If it will take more than that, then you should set a time to do that action on a calendar or place it on a list of actionable items to be completed when you have a spare moment.
As a matter of necessity, the Getting Things Done framework incorporates a number of tips for filing and organizing. Dave points out that most people haven't been given lesson in organization since junior high, despite the fact that it is one of the most important life skills in the modern age. He advocates using alphabetized manila folders instead of a clunky hierarchical hanging folder system. He is also a strong proponent of technology. I purchased a label maker and went hog-wild labeling folders in my classroom. I also bought a Palm Treo with a calendar that now constantly buzzes reminding me of due dates, birthdays, and upcoming events.
Though it may sound cheesy, I must conclude that Dave Allen's self help system really helped. I no longer have anxiety about when and where I'm supposed to be. I can plan events in the future instead of constantly worrying and asking my friends for reminders. During the past year I incorporated this system into nearly every aspect of my professional life and this next year I'll be implementing it in my personal life, carefully scheduling when bills should be paid, decisions must be made, and actions accomplished.
Though I really can't lavish enough praise on Dave Allen's system, I do acknowledge some serious limitations. The first problem is that technology does start to be a crutch. Much like an aggravated power-tool-using carpenter during a black-out, it would be a serious aggravation if I couldn't use my PDA or if somehow all of the data that I've stored became corrupted (I do make back-ups though). Unless you desire to become an automaton, you must also balance the scheduling with your social life. You basically have to schedule "unscheduled" time, and if one thing on your schedule changes, everything else has to shift with it. At work it may be acceptable to constantly flip out your PDA, but you will become the uber-nerd if you pull out your PDA every time your buddies want to go eat pizza and watch an action flick, not to mention the conflict that might be caused if your "significant other" wants to turn a five hour date into an all day event without asking you first.
The Getting Things Done system also neglects the spiritual necessity of having at least some time of peace. Dave claims the end result of implementing his system is "stress free productivity" and "having a mind like water." If you decide to follow Dave Allen's system I recommend taking several weeks out of the year where you allow yourself to go offline, away from the computer and away from your PDA. But, unless you're a teacher who only works ten months a year, I doubt you can afford that luxury. If you follow Dave's system you will undoubtedly be organized and "get things done," and if you always stick to the system you will find yourself getting a tremendous amount of tasks accomplished. You will get your bills paid, never miss meetings at work and have a list of priorities and goals in your life, maybe even write a book, but if you totally let "the system" take over your life you might miss out on some of life's spontaneous moments or, instead of working toward excellence on your projects and enjoying the process, you may find yourself doing a knee jerk or haphazard job in order to get to the next scheduled task.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
At the time I was driving around in a 1991 Chevy S-10 that had a topper on the bed. Since hiking fourteeners required an early morning ascent, I thought that I would just park my truck at the trailhead, sleep in the back of my pick-up and get an early morning start.
I made the late night drive up the dirt road of the mountain, and when I finally got to the trailhead I was stunned by the silence and brilance of the stars overhead. It was early in the hiking season with traces of snow still covering the ground. I was probably the only person within five miles.
At first the cool crisp air was refreshing, but as the night went on I would begin to see my lack of foresight. Though I had a thick down sleeping bag, it was no match for the cold night air near the top of one of Colorado's peaks. The metal topper and the bed of my truck soon turned into an icebox that encompassed me and left me shivering. I got very little sleep that night and found myself at 1 AM turning on the heater of my truck. Eventually I decided that I would sleep in the cab of my pickup, but I was still freezing cold. Around 3:30 in the morning I made the decision to not wait until dawn, but to face the cold and just start hiking.
My feet crunched through the snow and I could see glimpses of my own breath in the pre-dawn morning air. Despite my lack of sleep, I still intended to bag both peaks and be back by lunch.
As I hiked I realized how tricky the snow made my trek. The snow had melted and refrozen into a slick slab. I don't wear crampons when I hike so every step was a hazard. The slick ice forced me to step into the tracks of the previous day's skiers and hikers in order to carry on. There were times when a false move or an avalanche could have caused me to plummet at least five hundred feet.
Eventually I made it to the top of Grays peak. I felt like a champion as my shivering hand signed my name in the register. My next goal was to cross the ride and trek to the top of Torries. Logic would have dictated that the hike was a possibility- it wouldn't have added more than three miles to my trip; but I was exhausted, tired, and cold. I simply didn't feel like I could make it to the top of that second peak. I gnawed my granola bars and started to make my disappointed descent down to my truck.
When I look back on this hike, I realize the deep spiritual lessons that God was trying to teach me through that experience. I didn't properly prepare, and I didn't know what was ahead. In Proverbs it states that there is wisdom in having a multitude of counselors, and if I would have searched out the matter I would have learned that sleeping in the flimsy confines of a tent would have been better the deceptive sturdiness of a steel truck.
I also see how it is important to remember the footsteps and legacy of those who came before us on life's journey. If it hadn't been for the steps and example of those who came before us, life's journey would be infintely more hazardous and unpredictable. If I had not had other people's footprint to step into, I would have probably had to give up. When we are in doubt, in danger, and don't know what to do, sometimes the best thing to do is examine the lives of the people who have successfully lead the way.
Finally, I remember how God gives all of us second chances. On my next day off from working at camp, I went back and managed to hike Torries. That hike was much less eventful, but that is only because I was mentally and spiritually prepared and strengenthed by my previous experiences.
This post is part of the Sunday Sharing series.
The guy teaching in my old classroom has a blog. He takes some great photographs, and writes in detail about the transitions he and his family are making as they shift from a life in Texas to a life in Singapore. If you live in Singapore and want to get up close and personal into the mind and life of a missionary family, this is an excellent resource.
Erwin's in Singapore
Friday, August 01, 2008
On the way back from my family reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks we stopped at J.J. Twig's Pizza and Pub in order to have one final meal with my grandparents from Columbia.
I'd never eaten at this place before and I was underwhelmed by the food. My mom ordered a salad that had some wilted lettuce, and the pizza is great provided you enjoy thin crust pizza. My Grandpa did have a steak sandwich that looked delicious.