January 29, 2010

Do it for Yourself


"Hey, Cowboy Bob,  why is your picture of the Tarrytown lighthouse in this post?"


To make a point. Or not. Maybe to give you a moment of Zen.


I've been hammering on several things lately, including personal productivity. For almost three years, I have had "GTD" (Getting Things Done), getting organized and so forth crop up every once in a while. I believe that to be productive, many people need to have a routine so that they can function more effectively.


But sometimes, you just have to deviate from the routine. So something spontaneous so that life doesn't get boring. More importantly, so that you don't get boring. We can be productive, but also take time out to enjoy life. We have only so much time, and we can't let time get away from us, capice?


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:

Hello!

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.

January 16, 2010

Bad Day at Work

Here's a great song for a bad day at work. The video is eighteen seconds long. But you probably can't watch it due to workplace firewalls, so save the link and come back here when you get home. After that, I put the original (running at a whopping minute and a half) and its link as well. kthxbai




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg7X5_K7LhE

And now the very cool, soulful original:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKW-uFxUAyU

January 15, 2010

Time Wasters: Arguing with Atheists

Buona sera. This will be an odd lesson in personal productivity, I guarantee it. Yours truly took a while to "come down" after some "discussions" in a forum with some arrogant atheists. (It wasn't even a forum that is set up for religious debates; they kept interjecting their snide remarks in the other discussions.) Flames were shooting out of my eyes when I was done.

Readers of this Weblog know that I have written up my problems with their "logic" and their antagonistic attitudes. You should also remember that I really do not care what someone believes
as long as they do not attempt to destroy the faith of others. These people who try to destroy the faith of others are the same ones who cry, "Stop cramming your religion down my throat!" A Christian is offering their message of hope because they are motivated out of concern for where the other person is going to spend eternity.

By the way, do you know what the atheist offers? To strip away a believer's hope and replace it with the belief that there is no God, the universe happened by chance, life happened by chance, you have no purpose in life and when you die, you're worm food. Let me see...Heaven with God, friends and family who have gone before, or — nothing. Tough choice, huh? Love that atheistic message of hope!

Anyway. In that forum, I got tired of the atheists getting smug and condescending, putting down people of faith — and I went off! I posted a long rant taking them to task for being uncivil and discourteous, pointing out their bad "reasoning" and railing in general. These lovers of logic had poor answers for my statements (although they ignored most of them) and they responded with emotion ("You just hate atheists!"). One pretty much threw a tantrum, could not take my response to his reply and went crying to the other atheists. Naturally, I was judged to be a bad person, Scripture was misquoted at me, their double standards were evident (you know how I love double standards) and I was wrong for speaking up in the first place instead of tolerating how they abused other believers.

Articles that I have written here served two purposes. First, they helped me clarify my thoughts. Second, I hope they gave people something to think about so they can see how the arrogant atheists will act. OK, a third purpose was so that I could vent. After all, it is my Weblog.

All of this is because I want to point out a few things to Christians.

  • Know what you believe, so you can "give a response to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you".
  • Know why you believe it, get a working knowledge of some of the science and history that supports the Bible. You probably won't be able to quote anything "on demand", but you can be more confident in your own minds.
  • When you are confronted by an arrogant atheist, walk away. It is a waste of time. These guys only want to debate and try to play "Gotcha" by playing head games. But note this, if someone is an atheist or agnostic and is honestly inquiring about your faith, by all means, give him some time and discussion. If he or she is just playing you and dragging it out, it's time to graciously end the discussion(s). You can discuss it again later if you think your friend is being sincere later on.
  • Pray for them. It's your duty as a Christian.
I am pretty much done participating in that forum, by the way.

Life is short, and we do not need to waste time with people who are unwilling to listen to what we have to say. We have better things to do.

January 12, 2010

Was It All Lost?

All the time that's lost,
what's the final cost?

"A Light in the Black" by Blackmore's Rainbow

Buon giorno. Have you ever had the experience of reading or hearing something that made an impression on you several weeks earlier, and then have it continue to come back to you? Sure you have. I'm going to share my latest.

Unfortunately, I do not have the source material. It was a link from a link, one of those things that you chase down. And this thing made me feel better.

This is a bit difficult to set up, so I hope you'll bear with me.

I was remembering (lamenting, in a way) all the time that I have lost on projects and interests that I did not complete. (In fact, I have Soviet Union badges and other memorabilia in storage even now from when I was deeply involved in studying their history. I want to be rid of them. Any takers?) Time spent, and also money spent. My interests changed, and I felt foolish for having spent time and money chasing those interests. After all, I had left things unfinished.

This article pointed out that it is not a waste. We have to try things out, and we usually cannot know right away how long those interests will last. Spending money is a part of that process. And even though the interest has been left behind, there is still the growth process; we learn from our pursuits. The remarks in that article helped me stop beating myself up over what I thought was foolishness and lack of self-discipline.

As it has been said, if you're not growing, you're dying.

At this point in my life, I have become more interested in reducing the clutter in my life (both mental and material), and more concerned with how I spend my time. So this lesson came back to me again very recently, and I took some comfort in it again. I tried it on, it fit for a while, now it doesn't fit (or it is out of style for me). Are these clothing comparisons doing anything for you?

Although I am much more selective now with how I spend financial resources, I am certain that some of those "mistakes" will happen again. Learning is a process, just like growth. It's certainly far better than stagnating because I did not try to learn and do something new.

I am not the man I was twelve years ago. Thank God.

January 11, 2010

Angel, Saints, Curses and Luck

Today, I'm going to give political stuff a rest and keep to the overall topic of this Weblog, which is: Anything I feel like writing about. This time, I want to partially repeat myself about being blackmailed in e-mail. This comes from people that I think are well-intentioned, but do not bother to get rid of the conditions that are contained within the e-mails.

Every once in a while, I get mail that invokes an angel, the Virgin Mary, some obscure religious figure like "Saint Schnitzel" — or even Jesus himself. These sentimental pieces are telling me that the sender cares about me, is glad I am a friend and so forth. But then, they get weird. They often have religious pictures and prayers in them. OK... If I forward the mail to fifteen people in the next five minutes, I will have good luck within the next week. I can see by your expression that you've had these things as well. Hey, do you get them with another condition attached, that if you do not forward them, something bad will happen to you? Sometimes it is only bad luck, but even so, a kind of curse is implied if you "break the chain". Yes? I didn't think I was the only one that received these things.

Wow, you shouldn't have gotten me started on this topic! I have to say something else about angels: They are not women and/or children with wings. If you knew your Bible or Torah, you would know that angels are very powerful spirit beings. Cute artwork is actually very misleading about their nature, ministry and their power. But that is a topic for another time.

Bonus: A promise that a graphic will appear on the mail, or something cute or special will happen. That's an outright lie from other "forward this and get rich" schemes.

Other than being irritated at the "curse" for not forwarding them, I have another problem. (I mean, besides the fact that most people do not clean them up, and I have to wade through two hundred other names waiting to be harvested by spammers.) Frankly, they turn religion into superstition; it's degrading to the religious figure that is being invoked, and that they will bring you "luck". Most of these things are Catholic-oriented. I'm not even Catholic, and I am offended
for them. Also, I do not believe in luck. You want luck? Work hard, think, keep your eyes open and make your own luck.

People can send me good wishes, prayers or whatever. Fine. I do not believe that the electronic medium means anything, but if it was actually sent prayerfully and the sender is wishing the sendee well, I will spiritually accept that a prayer or (good thought) was said on my behalf. Otherwise, it's junk that is being forwarded almost by reflex.


At any rate, if I get something with conditions, promises or curses attached and I like the rest of it, guess what? Yep, I edit the thing before sending it on. Think for a moment: Does Saint Schnitzel or any other religious figure really want to be associated with some kind of luck curse from your e-mail? I didn't think so.

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