January 22, 2010

Time Wasters: The Virtue of Giving Up

We get the frequent message that perseverance is the highest virtue. "Never give up! Persist until you achieve your goal!"

I disagree.

Sometimes, we do have to quit. And I'm not talking about smoking or boozing, either.
Let me over-simplify an illustration. Lucy never played fair, and Charlie Brown never kicked the football. Any sane person would have said, "This situation never changes. I'm tired of playing the fool. Instead, I'll prop up my football and kick it. You can watch."

But it depends on your investment. Let me quote from Dee Lauderdale regarding your Return On Investment: "When you’re about to buy something, try to determine it’s potential ROI for your life. The return isn’t always financial but try to determine if this item or service will add value to your life. Will this purchase make your life easier, more fulfilled, or less stressful? Will it give you long-term happiness? Then only buy stuff that has a high ROI." Yes, he's talking about purchases, but the principle remains: Will persistence give you fulfillment, or are you wasting your time?

Now, I'm not giving any cafones reading this an excuse to bail on a marriage or serious commitment. No way! This is for much smaller stuff. Sometimes, persistence is foolishness because you are not gaining anything, not even pleasure, from what you are doing. Let me give you some examples.
  • Reading a book. If it's not required reading and you're not getting any kind of satisfaction from it, it's silly to finish it just because you feel compelled to finish this thing you started to read, no matter how much you dislike it.
  • The radio. You change the radio station when a song comes on that you dislike, yes? There is no reason to persevere, and in this case, you know it.
  • Watching a movie or television show. If you don't like it, don't finish it. Yes, I know, most people know that. But somehow, some people feel that they need permission. I just gave it to you: Drop it.
  • A bad romance. Do I have to give you permission to get out of that, too? But consider how much you two have experienced together. After all, a couple has invested time, emotions and physical activities together. Consider your overall Return On Investment. As Jude Cole sings, "After all the time we spent together, don't you think it's worth something?" Allow me one more song quote, this one from Roxette: "Listen to your heart". Yes, the romance ROI is complicated. First or second date? That may be easy to bail out on. Months or years? Think carefully, Theodore.
  • Video games. When does it pass the point of recreation and become obsession, or just something to do because you're bored?
You should be catching on pretty well. The main principle is not that difficult. Just weigh in your mind (and heart, sometimes) how much time you are spending on something, and consider what you are going to gain by continuing. Sometimes, it's more productive to quit something that is a drain on your time and resources.

But if it is worth doing, then keep at it. I am not giving you permission to bail on something important.

January 19, 2010

UPS Tracking Number 41133182

Buona sera. I haven't been thundering here much lately, and now it's time to make up for it. Pay attention, willya? This is important, and I don't care what your political leanings are, we can sort that out later.

I was sent a virus today. A virus will stop all of your uncluttering and productivity efforts right in their tracks. This one arrived at one of my throw-away accounts. That got my attention because I do not use that account for anything serious. My main indication that this was something to be on guard against was that Thunderbird 3 told me, "Hey, this looks like spam!" Click on the picture to see it enlarged (better yet, use Firefox, right-click, open link in new tab).
Also, it had a Zipped file attachment (bottom left). Alarm bells are going off in my head.

Now, I understand that most of my readers are careful, but some things are worth saying over and over anyway: Never open an attachment from a stranger! The attachment is the virus. That's what happens most of the time, capice?

People like me get suspicious and want to check things out more. So, I clicked on Thunderbird's "Show Full Headers" function (very annoying unless you're looking for something, and the default is "normal" headers). Although it claims to be from a UPS manager (and sometimes they pretend to come from the US Postal Service) , the sender is lying. The headers are not faked very far, and some of the domains end in "de". Uh, that's Germany, and I don't think UPS is sending me mail routed through Germany.

The actual letter is below. Note the awkward wording ("please attention") and the use of "our post office" at the alleged UPS:


The courier company was not able to deliver your parcel by your address.
Cause: Error in shipping address.

You may pickup the parcel at our post office personaly!

Please attention!
The shipping label is attached to this e-mail.
Please print this label to get this package at our post office.

Please do not reply to this e-mail, it is an unmonitored mailbox.

Thank you.
United Parcel Service.
Strange thing about this is that I really was expecting a package.

Now that I have my information and my anger, I can post this and warn you. If you
click here, you can get more information on the virus, including how to remove it.

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