Cheese du jour from Neal's Yard Dairy in Seven Dials:
Neal's Yard Dairy 2005
Pilgrimage material. Also visit the Borough Market shop. Buy the freshest goat cheese they have, a crusty loaf of bread and a Jonard apple.
Dick Whittington's Cat 2005
School in Highgate 2005
Snazzy corner tower 2005
Can't recall where this was though. Either Soho or Mayfair.
A Perfect Day 2005
Unbelievable shirt-sleeve weather in London at the end of October. That's St. Paul's in the center and the erotic gerkin in the middle right distance.
OXO Tower 2005
Galleries below, apartments above, apparently.
Barge House Street 2005
Bridge peeking 2005
Lucky me in London 2005
It was unseasonably fucking fantastic weather at the end of October. This was taken from Blackfriars Bridge.
Worthington Burton Ales In Bottle 2005
Passed on the street near Blackfriars Bridge.
need a new wig? 2005
I've just completed my absentee ballot and thought I'd share my opinions on this election.
I voted no on propositions 73, 74, 75, 76 and the "fox guards the henhouse drug pricing plan" 78. Fuck you, Governor. Thanks for wasting our money on this damn special election.
I voted no on prop 77 too; the selection of the panel for redistricting is positively byzantine*, the panel is very small and there is no appeal process.
I'm voting for prop 79 which is the reasonable drug pricing one and not majorly funded by drug companies.
I'm voting for prop 80, but feel least sure about this one. Don't feel like I got a deep understanding, but nothing about the descriptions bothered me and the endorsements swayed me to support it.
On the local San Francisco front, I'm supporting Sandoval (and then Ting) for Assessor-Recorder, Cisneros for Treasurer (with no ranked endorsements), and Herrera for City Attorney.
I tend to think bonds are actually a pretty reasonable method of funding public works (not sure why they aren't more popular with capitalists) and I approve highly of community colleges, so I have a strong yes vote on A and, since our sidewalks sure need a bit of help, I also said yes on B.
C seems reasonable and folks I respect endorse it, so that's a yes.
D doesn't make sense to me - didn't we just go through a decision on this? and hasn't transit been improving? - so no on that.
E seems practical, so that's a yes.
F is a yes, but I do wish it also had some stern requirements about improving efficiency.
G is a no-brainer yes. Fewer lanes of traffic in that gem of a public park? Duh.
H is a no, which might surprise some people considering how I feel about guns, but I have concerns about its impact on civil liberties and am not 100% convinced it would be effective in reducing crime. Reducing suicides, very probably, but drive-by shootings? I doubt it.
I is a statement of opinion and I find it interesting for a community to do this. Since I agree with the opinion - there's too much military presence in schools and scholarships to provide non-military alternatives are a good thing - I said yes.
Whee! Voting! Hooray for democracy!
*Magic: The Gathering is less complex, I tell ya.
Getting Things Done: how I'm using it 2005
I put a stake in the ground October 6th and started using Getting Things Done [quick overview of GTD] to manage my activities. I moved things out of my email inbox into the appropriate places (I "processed" my inbox, in GTDspeak).
Having that clean slate is proving tremendously helpful to keeping me focused and motivated. I am much less stressed since the change and finally making headway on a lot of old tasks.
Since I'm a software product manager and the go-to person in the company for my products, I am both working on detail-heavy, rapidly iterating projects and very, very frequently interrupted with questions, some of which need immediate response and some of which are more theoretical "wonder if we could make the software do this?" ones. GTD is proving very helpful for me in keeping these details from being lost, staying focused on what needs to be done now, putting the energy and resources I have to work on the actions which I'm best able to be productive with at the moment, and keeping my sanity.
Here's how I'm configuring things:
My email inbox in Thunderbird represents incoming information and the tasks I want to work on today:
--- I use a red label for URGENT/DO NEXT items. (I assign labels as part of my processing step).
--- an orange label is a 10 minute task (should be able to move this task forward or even finish it with a quick burst of action)
--- a green label is a 30 minute task (needs a longer chunk of focus)
--- an olive label is a project which needs its next 10 or 30 minute action identified (I find these just sit around not moving forward until they get a clear next action that can be done quickly)
--- a purple label is waiting for someone (but expecting either that it will come back to me today or that I want to remember to nudge that someone on if I haven't heard more by end of day)
- I have placed a physical inbox on my desk for incoming papers, in-slips (see below) and physical things to deal with today.
- I also have a dedicated "inbox" pocket in my laptop bag which is used for taking inbox items for work from home and vice versa.
- I have "@waiting on someone" folders in both Thunderbird and on desk for "waiting, not expecting action today"
- I have a tickler folder in Thunderbird containing 43 folders, emptied into the inbox each morning
- I use iCal for "hard landscape" appointments like meetings and conference calls and recurring tasks (e.g. every week send a business development activities update to the person who combines everyone's into one update for the executives)
- KGTD for management of projects, somedaymaybe, and to some degree a quick way to see the status of things
- folders in Thunderbird for reference (e.g. by customer code, by release & within that line item code, plus some "other people's products" and "other departments" folders)
- physical folders for reference (these are only made as needed: for each release & within that for each line item we have meetings on or for which I have other physical notes, a handful of non-release-specific projects which have physical notes, and the general year folder. The general year folder receives all other physical notes or event agendas, which are added in in chronological order with the latest in the front. I guess this is Noguchi method without the shuffling based on last use (since I think it's harder to remember last use date than creation date)).
I have a whole lot of little yellow slips of paper close at hand at all times. In fact, I have a big stack by my inbox, a small stack with a pen right under the front edge of my monitor, some in my wallet and some on the little table next to my couch at home. When something pops into mind "Oh, I should call Hepsibah about the status of the Foo project", I write it down and put it in my inbox. I don't do it or add it to KGTD or anything, I just get the idea collected and get on with the action I'm actually trying to do when my brain veered off.
Note that this is for all kinds of ideas from "print the directions to the party" to "write a book about Discardia". It doesn't matter, just capture the idea - if it's a lot of stuff, do a quick mind map on a bigger piece of paper - and then I decide what to do about it later when processing the inbox.
I think there's still some overlap between what gets tracked where; I'm definitely in the stage where this is all shaking down still. I was using iCal to mark out time to do things, but it made me look completely overbooked all the time and meant a lot of scooting things along. Ticklers work better. I'm moving "soft landscape stuff out of iCal and into KGTD as part of my collection process. The next step will be to only use Thunderbird for things where I need the email information as reference or it's a less than 10 minute task so it isn't worth logging in KGTD. I've just started using the start date in KGTD and will probably give that a tickler role (rather than writing a one sentence email draft and filing it in a tickler folder).
As Merlin said in at least one 43 Folders post, it's not the details of the system, it's the act of thinking about what you want to do and then deciding what to do right now. So far this is sure working better for me than anything else I've tried. I mean a LOT better.
Mmm, this GTD Koolaid is super tasty.
Recommended odd music: Swirling Eddies
I'd start with Outdoor Elvis.
(Thanks to Father John for the introduction to these fine tunes lo these many years ago!)
Hooray! My friend Fil's brother Peter has created a beautiful and amazing reprint of Little Nemo in Slumberland.
Recovering from a bad night's sleep 2005
I slept very poorly on Monday night. Probably a combination of factors - excitement about my upcoming trip, my natural inclination to stay up past midnight, garbage day noise outside, an odd dream, a thai ice tea at lunch (d'oh!) - but it left me groggy and not functioning at my usual pace yesterday.
Knowing that I need to get a lot done at work this week and that I was not going to be productive for the last hour and a half of my work day given my sleepy condition, I left early. On the way home I stopped off at the store to at least accomplish one "to-do" on my list. While there I also bought a few "Insomnia rebound" supplies.
According to Wikipedia,
Tryptophan is an amino acid and essential in human nutrition... Tryptophan is also a precursor for serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a neurohormone)... Tryptophan is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey, and peanuts.
Melatonin, or 5-methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine, is a hormone produced by pinealocytes in the pineal gland, located in the brain, but also in the retina and GI tract. It is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan... Melatonin helps regulate sleep-wake or circadian rhythms.
So, when I got back to my place around 5:30pm, I had the following dinner while I checked up on some email and other low-key tasks:
- a small glass of milk
- a big spoonful of peanut butter (about 2 or 3 Tablespoons worth)
- two slices of turkey (with Trader Joe's Raspberry Chipotle Sauce to spice things up)
I'd had a big serving of eggplant & bean cake at lunch, so didn't feel too bad about my lack of vegetables. Plus all that was very filling since I don't normally take in such a big dose of protein at one sitting.
One other thing I think may have helped was that I did not play any music - I will normally put iTunes on shuffle play - and the silence may have helped with lulling me towards sleep.
By 7:15pm I was yawning and began doing my pre-sleep tooth care, etc. I must have gone to bed between 7:45pm and 8, but I was very drowsy and didn't note the exact time. I figured I'd probably nap for a couple hours and then get up and have a glass of warm milk to knock myself out again.
Instead I slept solidly through the night, surfacing at around 3:30am briefly and then falling right back asleep. When my alarm went off at 6:40am, I awoke refreshed and alert. Hooray for tryptophan!
"Well, this is great; two deaf guys talking on the radio."
Time Management for Anarchists
Tonight's movie: Capote
Highly, highly recommended. Beautifully crafted, mesmerising, poignant.
Seven years good luck 2005
Happy birthday, metagrrrl.com. Seven years of blogging. Almost 2500 posts. Wow. I guess I found my medium.
Sure was a nice weekend here in San Francisco. I had a great time Saturday night. My friends Len, B.J. & Bev and I went to dinner at Sneaky Tiki (pricy but fun, with tasty appetizers). On the way there Len and I shared a cab with a nice woman we met at The Trolley Stop Where The Trolley Never Seems To Be Coming and in our 6 block ride together heard the nutshell version of her life which entailed decades as a Southern Baptist preacher and head of a funeral home business in Texas before realizing a few years back that none of that was right and he was a she. "On Sunday I said farewell to my congregation, on Monday I sold my business and by Wednesday I was on my way to San Francisco to begin transitioning." We all agreed it was good to let go of the things that don't fit in your life and she said "yes, like Southern Baptism, the Republican party and conservative Texas". She positively radiated that "I'm on the path that is absolutely right for me" vibe that's so energizing. I love this town.
After dinner, Len, B.J., Bev and I walked over to Natoma Street to a little tiny hidden theater space to see TVLand Presents Star Trek Episode 4: Mudd's Women at Theatre Tableau Vivant.
Tremendous fun and Leigh Crow does an amazing job as Kirk. Marvelous satire and yet also capturing why he's a such a likeable character. I'll definitely be watching for TVLand's next show.
Had a lovely lazy Sunday brunching and puttering around Open Studios with a certain very pleasing fellow.
So, my weekend having including all the necessary ingredients: alone time to kick back, hanging out with friends time, getting chores done time, laughing time, enjoying local creativity time, kissing a handsome man time, being fed tasty food time, and the aforementioned sipping cocktails, clever interior design, flirting with cute boys, outrageous fashion, witty friends and more than my minimum recommended weekend allowance of gender-bending, I'm ready to face the week.
Storm Sewer 2005
The Searchable Tickler File 2005
One of the things which is recommended in Getting Things Done is the creation of a "tickler file". A key GTD principle is having a system you can trust to hold all your loose ends or "open loops". By putting things into your system, you can let go of holding them in your head (Discardia!) and have more ability to relax and focus. The tickler file is used to remind you of things you need to think about at a certain point in the future.
The tickler file for physical stuff is a set of 43 folders - 01 through 31 and the 12 months of the year (m01 etc) - into which you stick stuff that must be remembered at a certain time in the future but which does not necessarily represent an actual commitment on your calendar. If you're like me, you don't actually have a lot of physical papers which need to be tickled, but you may have some email, electronic documents and ideas which do.
Rather than set up the actual 43 folders to take up more space then needed in my office, I tend to write on my electronic calendar (iCal) something like "review notes in the XYZ folder to prepare for meeting in 2 days". I file the papers in their eventual home and create a pointer for myself to remind me that there's unfinished business filed away there.
This has been making my calendar a bit busy in layout (since I enter the note as an event, but with 000 at the beginning of the text to flag it as a chunk of time loosely reserved for a task, rather than a specific appointment). Now that isn't necessarily bad - it does reflect my expected busy-ness for a given day - but it's inappropriate for tasks that will take less than 30 minutes. I'm going to try listing these shorter tasks in a tickler event that's just associated with the day and see how that works.
But what about emailed stuff? I could file it and point to it from a note, but that's really time consuming. Why not make a virtual 43 folders and put them inside a folder called Tickler? When I'm reviewing incoming mail and say "ah, I need to call her and she says she'll be back in the office on the 18th", I can just drag it into folder 18 and forget about it until the morning of the 18th when I look at folder 18.
Now here's where I could get sneaky. This structure means I can email new reminders directly to my tickler file through the clever use of subject headings and filters. Suppose I just thought of something I'm going to need to remember to do Wednesday at work. Rather than have it keep popping into my brain all weekend, I can just send a reminder to myself by emailing it with the subject line "tickle12: call Bob about wigits". My filter sees the "tickle12:" and puts it in folder 12. On the 12th, I look at folder 12 and there it is.
The beauty of all this is that I don't have to put the reminder somewhere that I have to think about it or look about it before the time at which I'll act on it.
[As of early 2006, I am no longer marking flexible events ("work on revised documentation for beta test of foo") on the calendar except milestones ("started integrated beta test?"). Instead I am using KGTD and at some point I'll get the prioritized list from there syncing in my iCal to-do list.]
[And as of 2009, I'm keeping my calendar free from non-appointments and instead using OmniFocus to track projects & actions. Getting GTD under your skin is definitely an iterative process, but the cleaner your processes & use of your tools gets, the more useful it becomes.]
Getting Things Done 2005
I'm just getting into David Allen's Getting Things Done again and finding this time that I'm really going to be able to implement it. I had adopted some of his approach philosophically on a prior reading, but now I'm ready to put the full process in place. The glory of the clear desk, empty inbox and focused mind await!
In addition to reading the book, I recommend reading Merlin Mann's 43 Folders website (introduction to his take on GTD, all GTD posts) and Mac users should check out Ethan J. A. Schnoover's Kinkless KGTD (introduction, endorsement from Merlin).
I'll be writing more about Getting Things Done in the coming months, I know. I am already feeling the benefits at work.
Paradigm shift 2005
I was just looking at FasterFox and thinking about their pre-caching and about AJAXy things and realized that we really can't trust our old stats anymore to tell us the kind of things they used to tell us.
User attention is no longer equated with page requests.