Saturday, January 27, 2007
They suggest mental exercises such as playing logic or math games, doing your own taxes, figuring out calculations yourself before breaking out the calculator and studying a new language.
In addition to mental exercises to challenge your mind, the "brain wellness program" includes; consistent social interaction, physical exercise, a low-fat diet, stress management and meditation.
The article mentions three specific tools to use in your brain exercise program including - "Brain Age" a Nintendo DS game, "Happy Neuron" a website associated with the authors of "Dental Floss for the Mind" and "Sudoku" games.
Brain Age , is a Nintendo DS game, that you can pick up from Amazon for $18.95.
Brain Age is fun, and has enough variety to keep you interested enough to come back for daily exercise. It would be a great game to have while you are waiting somewhere and want something worthwhile to occupy your time. This is a game for students, parents and grandparents to play.
The Ninteno DS Lite looks pretty cool -
The DS Lite is compact, lightweight and comes in pink, white or black. The basic $129 DS Lite package does not include any games. It comes with an extra stylus (there's one stored in a slot on the game as well), and an ac adapter. Nintendo says the battery life will range from 5 to 19 hours depending on the application and screen brightness setting.
The DS Lite has voice and handwriting recognition capability, as well as wireless connectivity for communicating with other DS Lite players over short distances.
Happy Neuron has links to various articles on the benefits of exercising our brains as well as tips for brain workouts. There are some free trial games but they charge 10 dollars a month or 100 dollars for a year's membership - allowing you access to all the games. According to the Happy Neuron website,
"Happy Neuron’s entertaining and challenging games are fun AND scientifically developed to keep our brains fit. Based on personal progress, Happy Neuron will also provide you new challenges."
Happy Neuron features the book Dental Floss for the Mind written by Dr. Michel Noir a cognitive psychologist, and Dr. Bernard Croisile who is a neurologist and neuropsychologist.
The Happy Neuron website provides the following information on the authors -
"Dr. Noir is a cognitive psychologist with a creative background, including having authored 15 books on subjects ranging from art to mysteries to cognitive exercises. He previously had a distinguished career in government. He received his Graduate Diploma, Advanced Graduate Diploma, and Master’s in Public Law from Paris Law Faculty. He later received an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Political Science and a Ph.D in Educational Sciences from Lyon II University.
Dr. Croisile, who is both an MD and Ph.D., is a respected neurologist and neuropsychologist with an international reputation for his research on aging and cognition. He was the recipient of the Alzheimer's Disease Parke-David Award in 1998 and has written several hundred peer-reviewed articles for scientific publications, papers, and book chapters on aging and cognition, and spoken at hundreds of professional conferences on the prevention of dementia and age-related cognitive decline."
"Sudoku" is a logic game using grids where you have to use the digits 1 through 9 in each row and column (these logic puzzles can be made using pictures or colors as well). It's fun - you can read about at Sudoku at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and find Sudoku games at Web Sudoku - Billions of Free Sudoku Puzzles to Play Online.
This game is sometimes attributed to Leonhard Euler for his work using Latin Squares.
“We should speak neither of surges nor total numbers of troops, but rather let us speak of young men and women.” Regardless of where one comes down on the latest strategy to address the disaster in Iraq, I believe moral decency requires that we speak very plainly about war and its consequences. Rather than wallow in political abstractions and oblique language, let us talk plainly about 21,500 men and women, mostly young, each with a name, a face and a family."Continue reading at inward/outward.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
From the big things like our health, work, family, friends, personal safety - to the seemingly mundane things in our pampered lives - such as cars, water, heat, food, clothing, electricity, phones, computers, TV's...etc.
On a personal level, we don't appreciate being pain-free until we are filled with pain. From the simple pain of having a toothache, and being glad when it's gone - to the complex and difficult emotional and physical pain of a serious illness, addiction or dysfunctional relationship.
We take so many things for granted. We don't think about how nice it is to have a car until it breaks down, clean water (even hot and cold) until we lose ours or visit/live somewhere that doesn't have clean water...clean air...so many things to be thankful for.
Our culture, and it's consumer driven messages, distracts us into thinking we should be looking for happiness in physical or material things. We can never have enough things, be too rich or too thin. The lie is that we can have many many things, be rich and thin - and miserable.
Freedom comes from inside - being free to choose how we will live, freedom to respond honestly openly and with love and gratitude when appropriate and to make the best of bad situations by showing honor, courage and compassion...and moving on.
Even in the worst conceivable surroundings we have the freedom to choose our response. Viktor Frankl writes in "Man's Search for Meaning" -
"... In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen."
"A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love."
Continue reading at The Question of God . Other Voices . Viktor Frankl | PBS
We should remember to give thanks everyday for what we have, and every so often be shocked out of our 'taking things for granted' by losing something, finding something and waking up to what's happening in the present moment so we can appreciate all that we are blessed with.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Q: How do you maintain mindfulness in a busy work environment? At times it seems there is not even enough time to breathe mindfully.
A: This is not a personal problem only; this is a problem of the whole civilization. That is why we have to practice not only as individuals; we have to practice as a society. We have to make a revolution in the way we organize our society and our daily life, so we will be able to enjoy the work we do every day.Meanwhile, we can incorporate a number of things that we have learned in this retreat in order to lessen our stress. When you drive around the city and come to a red light or a stop sign, you can just sit back and make use of these twenty or thirty seconds to relax-to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy arriving in the present moment. There are many things like that we can do.
Continue reading Questions and Answers--Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Monday, January 22, 2007
His web presence includes, among many other things, the Best of The Internet Today: Updated Hourly , a list of things available online for people who are bored and articles on free education.
I found out about Jimmy Ruska's online education resource list while reading Lifehacker, the Productivity and Software Guide.
This is the permalink from Lifehacker for Jimmy's list, which he calls a - Massive list of Online Resources for Autodidacts and a Dictionary.com definition for autodidact
“Green” rules! - The idea of “green” means the color green, too. But look for softer, more botanical greens inspired by nature.
Blues from Nature – The color of the sky, the color of water, true blues from nature will be everywhere.
New Natural Neutrals – The newest neutrals, especially medium to dark browns, are soul-satisfying. Beiges, browns and tans will be more earthy and grounded – reflecting the colors of rock and stone and soil.
Rich, Ethnic Accents – Lighter, neutral settings will be punctuated by warmed-up accent colors from a rich mix of countries and cultures. Deep, rich ethnic reds and warm, glow-y oranges are the “punch” colors for 2007.
Photo Source CMG Media.
CMG is a trade group made up of color designers, marketers and academics, whose members specify color for everything from "Cadillacs to Kleenex boxes." Participating Members dues are $715 a year, non-participating members dues are $1600 year, non-members pay $7000 for the year's color forecasts.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
The article tells us that the biggest toxic spill in U.S. history was not the Exxon Valdez - it was a lagoon full of liquified pig manure that overflowed 25.8 millions gallons of effluvium into the New River in North Carolina - killing every fish, every living creature, in the river for 16 miles, before it flowed into the ocean.
According to the article, the smell of these pig factories is almost beyond comprehension. They say it takes a few months for people who work in them to get the smell off after they quit...the time it takes to grow new hair and skin cells. It's not just a barnyard-type smell - it's actually a concentration of noxious and toxic fumes that will cause people to become ill. There are numerous people who have been overcome by the fumes and a number who died after falling into the lagoons.
This isn't farming and ranching - it's a factory for fattening pigs as quickly and cheaply as possible. It's inhumane to the animals and polluting our environment.
Next time you pick up some of "the other white meat" you might want to think about where it came from....or maybe not.
"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."
"In Buddhism, the most important precept of all is to live in awareness, to know what is going on. To know what is going on, not only here, but there. For instance, when you eat a piece of bread, you may choose to be aware that our farmers, in growing the wheat, use chemical poisons a little too much.... When we eat a piece of meat or drink alcohol, we can produce awareness that 40,000 children die each day in the third world from hunger and that in order to produce a piece of meat or a bottle of liquor, we have to use a lot of grain. Eating a bowl of cereal may be more reconciling with the suffering of the world than eating a piece of meat.... Every day we do things, we are things, that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our lifestyle, our way of consuming, of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive, the present moment."
Source: Being PeaceThich Nhat Hanh
We've had some flooding, a few snowstorms and some wind here in Pacific Northwest this winter. It's been very exciting to listen to the radio and watch the TV newscasts.
This King 5 TV video of people playing bumper cars on a steep icy hill in Portland is more just bizarre than exciting (although I'm sure the drivers were pretty pumped up as their cars slid sideways, and backwards and in circles down that hill.)
It looks like the person driving the car in the beginning may have been trying to accelerate out of trouble, or maybe just thought, "what the hell...I'm sliding down this hill, I've already banged up my car beyond my insurance deductible, I might as well make a good show of it."
I have to say for me it's much more exciting on the radio and T.V. than it has been when I actually go outside my house.
Not so say a lot of people didn't have problems with downed trees, damaged houses and extended periods without electricity, but where I live it's been pretty ho-hum.
I enjoy the excitement of the local newscasters talking about "Winter Blast 2006" or whatever name they give the current weather. They all seem so delighted to have something important and exciting to talk about. I love to see them standing out in the wind, rain or snow - giving a blow by blow of how tough things are looking. Sometimes it's funny for a person who has lived outside of this region to see a news reporter standing beside a street that has an inch of snow, talking about the major weather event we see unfolding. When I get out and drive on that inch of snow I always think of a farmer or rancher somewhere in the Dakotas, Minnesota or Montana - who has to go out and work in the winter - and what they would think of our "severe weather".
If you want some real weather I think you need to move either inland, down to the Gulf coast or further north. Someplace like Snag, in the Yukon Territory or Summit Lake, B.C.
According to the NOAA weather trivia,
"On February 3rd, 1947 the temperature dipped to -81 degrees at the recording station in Snag, in the Yukon Territory. This is the coldest temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. A temperature of -96 degrees was recorded on January 7th, 1982 near Summit Lake in British Columbia. While the recording was likely accurate it was not official and, therefore, the "official" record is still 81 degrees below zero."
The South is good for weather too. You can get some exiting weather down on the Gulf Coast. When I lived in Pensacola and traveled around Pascagola, Mobile, and New Orleans; there were real weather alerts for hurricanes and tropical storms. There's an order of magnitude difference between thinking winds may be coming that will blow your house away and what we get in the Pacific Northwest where a windstorm may blow down trees and do some damage to homes.
Montana and Wyoming can have some interesting weather too, such as the huge extremes when the Chinook winds come; and some really cold windy weather for extended periods up on the Montana Hi-Line.
The Chinook winds caused an unbelievable 103°F variation in temperature on January 15, 1972, in Loma, Montana. The temperature rose from −47°C (−54°F) to 9°C (49°F); the greatest temperature change ever recorded during a 24-hour period.
For my money, some of the most exciting weather is in the Midwest. Being in the upper parts of Minnesota in summer, it's exciting to see the storms come in, the lightning, rain and wind. Maybe a tornado or two thrown in for good measure.
One of my most exciting weather related trip was driving across South Dakota, in February, almost 30 years ago. I was a sailor on my way from Chicago to San Diego; driving an old beater Ford Maverick. My plan was to stop in Montana for a week or so, leave the car there and fly on to California.
As I drove across South Dakota the temperature dropped, and wind and snow was reducing visibility to almost zero. My car was starting to ice up (not just the outside...the moisture in the gas tank) and the car was starting to miss. You have to be in that sort of weather to understand the feeling. I'm getting a little worried but doing okay - when the weather changed into an ice storm. I'm not sure how that works but it caused a couple of inches of glare ice on the highway. There were power lines down, lots of jack-knifed semis and cars in the ditch.
This is in the middle of nowhere. I still remember seeing a Highway Patrolman getting out of his car and slipping, and falling, on the ice as he walked to help out a stranded motorist. That storm killed quite a few cattle simply because they were standing outside and covered with ice. You wouldn't want to be outside or in a car with no heat.
All I was thinking was that if I stopped I wouldn't get going again until it thawed out. I got through South Dakota on a wing and a prayer and made it into Eastern Montana. My travel budget was a little limited and I ended up trading a set of socket wrenches to a guy at a gas station for a tank of gas to get me home. Ahhh the good old days.
Being high up in the mountains or on a lake or some other body of water in a storm can be good for a few thrills too. It's scary to be on an exposed mountain side with lightning. I camped out on a glacier in the Grand Tetons years ago, during a climbing trip, and a summer storm came in with lightning. There really wasn't any good place to go - other than trying to find the lowest spot you could.
Absarokas and Beartooths (elevation 11,000 feet) into Cooke City and it started to snow in July...which was interesting. There are terrific fields of wildflowers in that high country (and back then once I was a few miles away from the campground I didn't see another person, only some bear tracks). Not sure what it's like now.
Sitting inside my house watching King 5, or KOMO or KIRO, reporters get excited because "it might snow", just doesn't compare.
South Dakota Weather History and Trivia for Febuary
Montana Hi-Line Pictures : Photos of the Hi-Line Region
Absaroka Range - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pictures of Montana : The Mountains in Montana - Photo Gallery 1
Saturday, January 20, 2007
"By the time they reach age 21, most everyone has gone crazy a few times and most everyone has gone sane a few times. Enough to know the difference. But many will have decided that crazy is the way to be, and they will be trying very hard to make ’some thing’ of themselves….
To wake up from the daze, to come home to consciousness again, to live brightly and fully with awareness clear as winter air - this sounds wonderful. But it also sounds like a fantasy."
By Gerald May, M.D.
Continue reading at inward/outward
Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation
Books By Gerald May
Friday, January 19, 2007
One cause of stress is a feeling that things are cycling out of control, that we aren't getting where we want to go. Unimportant things may be taking over our lives at the expense of important things.
What to do?
Stop - Look - Listen
We need to decide if we want to live with intention, knowing where we want to go - or live unintentionally, letting other people (or things) propel us in circles or off on tangents.
Setting aside time for planning, for reflecting, is key. Examining our motives/desires/goals, gives us a compass that helps us from going in circles, on tangents or doing excessive backtracking on our path. Thinking about where we want to be next week, next year and even thinking about how we want to be remembered when we aren't here.
What are our "most important things"?
I'm a fan of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and for those of you familiar with his work this will not be new.
Part of that planning is to divide our activities into one of four quadrants - those that are "urgent and important", "not urgent but important", "urgent but not important" and finally "neither urgent nor important".
There are plenty of "urgent and important" things for us to do most days, which may cause us to fall short on attending to the "not urgent but important" things in our lives. Things like - planning, getting enough exercise, taking time for friends and family, writing letters, enjoying life, taking care of ourselves so we can help others.
Those of us in office situations may be faced with many "urgent but not important" tasks. We find we can make a day out of sifting through Email's - some marked urgent, rush, hot..etc...only to find they may be a whole lot of nothing.
Our planning (and our actions) need to address our basic needs for mental/intellectual growth, physical well being, spiritual exercises and social emotional connections. It's the YMCA motto - Mind, Body, Spirit (plus friends and family connections).
From the Seven Habits we learn to -
- Be Proactive. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term "proactive" as coined by Viktor Frankl. Being "proactive" means taking responsibility for everything in life, rather than blaming other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Initiative, and taking action will then follow.
- Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on "true-north principles". Covey recommends to formulate a "personal mission statement" to document one's perception of one's own purpose in life. He sees Visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational mission statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization, rather than being prescribed.
- Put First Things First Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent, but are in fact less important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed in advance, rather than on prescribing detailed work plans.
- Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought, that satisfy the needs of oneself as well as others, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in that advice being rejected. Thoroughly listening to another person's concerns instead of reading out your own autobiography is purported to increase the chance of establishing a working communication.
- Synergize describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that, when this is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
We work from the inside out in an intentional life. In other words - a billion words from a million self-help books, or a thousand sermons aren't going to make a whit of difference unless something happens inside you - that changes how we look at and interact with the world.
We all have ways that have worked in the past to help us relax and can put those successful stress management techniques into practice again. MayoClinic.com has lots of information on handling stress. Some of the techniques they recommend include -
* Re-prioritizing work goals and tasks
* Making sure to carve out time for physical activity every day
* Not skipping meals or resorting to fast food
* Delegating household chores to other family members
* Taking short breaks to practice relaxed breathing or muscle relaxation
* Putting a positive spin on negative thoughts
* Create realistic expectations and deadlines for yourself, and set regular progress reviews.
* Throw away unimportant papers on your desk. Prepare a master list of tasks.
* Throughout the day, scan your master list and work on tasks in priority order.
* Use a planner. Store addresses and telephone numbers there. Copy tasks from your master list onto the page for the day on which you expect to do them. Evaluate and prioritize daily.
* For especially important or difficult projects, reserve an interruption-free block of time behind closed doors.
These simple but important stress management techniques can help you restore a sense of calm and peace of mind and give you the time to reflect on what "living a good life" means to you.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Mandarin Design Web and Blog Design and Development has information and links for a variety of tools to make your own logo or banners.
I used this Banner Maker to make the one at the top of this post.
If you've ever done a Google search for a logo maker you will understand the value of this summary of tools. Generally a search will get you to sites that want to sell you software to make a logo, an expensive custom-designed logo or to a website loaded up with banner ads and tools of dubious value.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I was excited to fly back to Minnesota for my dad’s surprise 60th birthday party. Since my husband worked I needed to take our two babies with me, Becca and Rachel, ages 3 months and 15 months.
My husband took us to the airport and I thought no problem – we’ll get on the plane and three hours later we’d land in Minneapolis.
The pediatrician had prescribed medicine “knockout drops” for my oldest daughter, so she would sleep and I would just have to care for the 3 month old.
We said goodbye to daddy and boarded the plane, buckled up and then received word that there were mechanical problems on the plane and hopefully we would leave shortly. After three hours on the tarmac and juggling two babies on my hips, and wearing out a path on the carpets up and down the aisles – they announced we were ready to go.
Mind you there was no air circulating on the plane and it was hot – I was in wool pants and a sweater and was sweaty from juggling two babies.
During our time on the ground I befriended a stewardess (I still remember her name – Roxanne) and she would bring me free scotch and waters and hold one of the babies when she could.
It was now time to give Rachel the “knockout drops”. I was feeling a little guilty for giving her this medicine, so I gave her less than the prescribed dosage….big mistake.
All seems to be going fine – they served dinner, I put Rachel’s on the foldout tray – thinking she could eat something when she woke up.
A bit later Rachel wakes up with a sudden jolt and food and drink go flying everywhere. At the same time Becca has a huge smelly messy pants. The stewardesses were kind enough to clean up the spilled tray while I tended to Becca in the bathroom.
The kids are fussy – Rachel is very groggy and fussy – I just pray we will get there soon…
All of a sudden I see the stewardesses with panic in their eyes and racing around the plane. I immediately think that the mechanical problems that caused our delayed departure were not fixed, and we were in big trouble. I’m happy to say – we didn’t go down – but I’m sad to say a man was having a heart attack three rows behind us.
With all the chaos and three doctors who were on the flight trying to do CPR it was wild. Unfortunately the man died and we had to do an emergency landing in Billings, Montana. I wanted to run off the plane, but I knew my sister was waiting at the airport for me, so I thought, “we can make it.”
We arrived in Minneapolis six hours late, with very tired cranky kids, my perfectly coiffed hair falling out of it’s French roll, and I broke into tears when I saw my sister. We had a great time at the birthday party my dad was surprised – but I could not face the return flight.
I bought my sister in law an airplane ticket, so she flew back with me – the flight back home was perfect, totally uneventful, but the trip to Minnesota was truly a “trip from hell”.
Note - I typed this while B dictated.
Rachel and Becca survived that plane trip, and have grown up to be beautiful, strong and smart young women. We've had a lot of fun road trips, and less eventful flights, to Montana and Minnesota over the years after that one bad trip.
We are all looking forward to flying out to Minneapolis this summer for Katie's wedding. Hopefully we won't have to give Rachel any knockout drops.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Plans for the 65 acre village includes over 600 housing units- the first of which will be ready for occupancy by 2008, a second marina, retail shops, a craftsman district and various public access plans (including a potential for a pedestrian walkway from Grand Avenue Park to the waterfront).
Contacts for those interested in residential or retail space can be found at Port Gardner Wharf.
This is what the Project Overview has to say about the development -
"On the shores of Puget Sound, between Seattle and Vancouver, a new marina community is coming to life. Along with the 2,300+ slips and marina there will be an extraordinary mix of homes, unique shops, restaurants, open-air markets, 18 acres of parks and open spaces, business offices, overnight lodging, and other first-class amenities and services."
And about Everett, Washington -
Links to various News articles from the The Seattle Times, and other newspapers about Everett's waterfront development plans - as well as Port of Everett Home.
Port Gardner Wharf is located in Everett, Washington, the county seat of Snohomish County. Located approximately 30 minutes north of Seattle, Everett is within easy distance of the San Juan Islands, the Cascade and Olympic Mountains and the bucolic landscape of the Skagit Valley. Home to an international aerospace community anchored by Boeing, Everett is experiencing a renaissance as a cultural and recreational destination. Considered an emerging arts district, it is also the center of entertainment and sporting events for the area north of Seattle.
West Marine $10 off $100 Coupon Code - AFF502 - Ends 3/1/07
Monday, January 15, 2007
"Man is a luxury loving animal. Take away play, fancies, and luxuries, and you will turn man into a dull, sluggish creature, barely energetic enough to obtain a bare subsistence. A society becomes stagnant when its people are too rational or too serious to be tempted by baubles."
The Eric Hoffer Resource
Sunday, January 14, 2007
"Researchers discover there are many incompetent people in the world"
According to a New York Times article, Dr. David A. Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, has found that people who do things badly, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.
The scientists found that in some cases there was an inverse proportionality between a persons actual and perceived ability.
In other words, the worse someone was at doing something the better they thought they were at it. Specifically the type of things where "self-awareness" or "self-monitoring" are required to evaluate one's competence.
An example might be a job where there is no immediate feedback on how well one is doing, in contributing to societies store of usable knowledge, such as in a large university....or perhaps any number of jobs in bureaucratic settings where there is little feedback on how well one is doing (or maybe not even a clear definition of what one is doing to further the goal of that enterprise).
The findings support Thomas Jefferson's assertion that "he who knows best knows how little he knows."
On the other hand, in some cases, Dr. Dunning pointed out, an awareness of one's own inability is inevitable: "In a golf game, when your ball is heading into the woods, you know you're incompetent," he said.
You could extend that, immediate feedback on one's competence to a bomb deactivator, auto mechanic, carpenter, cook, seamstress...etc. etc. etc.
It's not something we didn't already know (my blissful ignorance may be showing),
but we often find the truly clueless in those areas where the "proof is not in the pudding".
Among the Inept, Researchers Discover, Ignorance Is Bliss
Saturday, January 13, 2007
"Scientists make a huge project out of over-analyzing a phenomenon. Engineers get paid to solve problems, often with a minimum of analysis."
Friday, January 12, 2007
"Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from a lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions."Sometimes a good question is worth more than a library full of answers.
Here's one I heard recently that might stir up some thought...
Why don't people want to be free?
You could dig into that for a long time. Thinking about what it means to be free, how we chain ourselves to some things (clocks, jobs, families, religion, political parties...), why our attempts to give people freedom sometimes fail. etc.
My immediate thought was that choosing to be controlled rather than be in control is a lot simpler. If someone, or some thing, controls me then I have no personal responsibility.
On a global scale that could be one ethnic, religious or political group blaming another for their problems. Some groups, and some individuals, need an enemy - someone to blame. What would happen if we didn't have someone or something outside of ourselves to blame?
We would be burdened with freedom. The freedom to change and grow - to think, to ask questions - to not have answers. To understand that the imperfect state of not knowing may be the best we will have, that there are deliciously difficult problems (and some fairly mundane ones as well) that have no right answer - no good answer - maybe a best answer, or maybe no answer at all.
If there is no answer, or no right answer, then we are forced to hold ideas in tension. That takes a lot of work. So....we go to the expert - dad, mom, teacher, preacher.
A person without the intelligence, energy, and courage to make something of his or herself will not choose freedom - but rather a cozy world where decisions, rules, answers, rhymes and reason are provided from someone or something external. Fundamentalists, those who belong to a movement or possess an attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles - are ready to take your freedom away.
They don't want you to ask questions - they want to give you answers. Turn on talk radio, watch the TV, go to church, ask an authority figure of any stripe - but don't think for yourself.
If questions like "why don't people want freedom?", interest you and you haven't had a chance to read the book The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer - the "longshoreman philosopher" by all means check it out.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
800,000 Privileged Youths Enlist To Fight In Iraq
Man Who Fought For Americans' Rights Demands Americans Stop Exercising Their Rights
I am very thankful to the men and women who serve, and have served, our country.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I received an email that linked to Calendars.com and immediately thought that it would be another attempt to sell something on the web that is already available everywhere.
The web page is actually fun to look at and nicely organized. They have over 6000 calendars with all kinds of subjects from art, to cartoons, sports, to nice looking front porches...
There's a top ten list that gets you started seeing what's available.
There's also a very complete section of items for specific dog breeds - not just calendars; but socks, greeting cards, luggage tags, sticky notes, mouse pads, etc. (That little picture of a fluffy dog I stuck up above is a luggage tag with a Bichon on it.)
I couldn't make up my mind which one of these Westie calendars was cuter..they sure look happy and smart.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Technology Review: Part I: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta is an interesting article about Charles Simonyi, former chief software architect at Microsoft and the designer of Microsoft Office. Bill Gates calls Simonyi, "one of the great programmers of all time."
Simonyi is asking the question, "why is it so hard to create good software?" He has started a company called Intentional Software with the goal of addressing typical problems with software being over budget, behind schedule, unreliable and hard to use.
An article in ZD net says,
"Simonyi is looking to strip time, cost, and inefficiency out of the laborious collaboration that often takes place between requirement setters (subject matter experts) and the software programmers that do their bidding. If Intentional Software makes good on that promise, it will be a rare success in the black-art of turning mortal non-programmers into software engineers without ever having to lift one line of code."According to the "Technology Review" article,
"If Simonyi has his way, programmers will stop trying to manage their clients' needs. Instead, for every problem they're asked to tackle--whether inventory tracking or missile guidance--they will create generic tools that the computer users themselves can modify to guide the software's future evolution."
The article is written by Scott Rosenberg vice president of special projects at Salon.com, and author of Dreaming in Code.
A couple of things in the article caught my eye.
We've all heard of Moore's Law where Intel founder Gordon Moore predicted that processing power would double (or cost would halve) every 2 years. The article mentions a related law known as Wirth's Law from programming expert Niklaus Wirth, the designer of Pascal - which states,
"Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster."
Scott Rosenberg reports a humorous encounter with Charles Simonyi in his Bellevue, Washington office. Charles (the designer of Microsoft Office) is using Microsoft Office Powerpoint, having some problems with it, and the "Office Assistant" paper clip keeps popping up to "help". From the article -
"In the corner of the left-hand screen, a goggle-eyed paper clip popped up: the widely reviled "Office Assistant" that Microsoft introduced in 1997. Simonyi tried to ignore the cartoon aide's antic fidgeting, but he was stymied. "Nothing is working," he sighed. "That's because Clippy is giving me some help."
I was puzzled. "You mean you haven't turned Clippy off?" Long ago, I'd hunted through Office's menus and checked whichever box was required to throttle the annoying anthropomorph once and for all.
"I don't know how," Simonyi admitted, with a little laugh that seemed to say, Yes, I know, isn't it ironic?"
Monday, January 08, 2007
Kudos to the folks who created it.
This is their logo (they'll show you how to make one of your own too).
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Who is writing some of the nonsensical things on the web?
Maybe it's a cat.
If your cat has been ordering things on line, inviting friends over or just messing up your computer PawSense might be just the ticket.
This can be a very real problem as you can see from this video.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
"The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together."
The Eric Hoffer Resource
Friday, January 05, 2007
The Room to Read Organization has opened over 3000 libraries since it's inception in 2000, as well as expanding into publishing local language books, providing computer and language labs, and scholarships to girls; for some of the poorest and most isolated people in the world.
The mission statement for the Room to Read Organization states -
"Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to establish schools, libraries, and other educational infrastructure. We seek to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education is a lifelong gift that empowers people to ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries, and future generations. Through the opportunities that only an education can provide, we strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time."
John Wood has written the book "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World", which was published last August. The book sounds worth reading based on the reviews.
Kathleen Steinley, in her review at Amazon.com, writes -
"This book frees us from the constraints that we perceive when we look at the endless work the world provides to the heart of anyone who values his fellow man. Instead of following the well-paved path that holds that personal satisfaction is attained through greater and greater accumulation of wealth and social stature, Mr. Wood forges his own path in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of children who for lack of basic educational opportunities suffer lives of illiteracy and limited options. He looks at the question to which we all answer that the problem is too big for me to help, and chooses to help anyway. The results are astonishing. Further, he shows how, without stepping off our path, we too can help. Empowering and uplifting. It made me happy every time I sat down to read."
Thursday, January 04, 2007
In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."
The idea that people are promoted to their level of incompetence comes from the book The Peter Principle written by Dr. Laurence Peter in 1968.
The Amazon editorial review says -
"This bestselling business classic of more than twenty-five years' duration is a dead-on account of why boredom, bungling, and bad management are built into every organization. Through hilarious case histories and cartoons adapted from Punch, Dr. Peter shows how America's corporate career track drives employees relentlessly
upward -- until they get promoted into jobs they just can't do and wind up desperately treading water, driving their colleagues crazy, and dragging down productivity and profit."
Before Dr. Laurence Peter's death in 1988, he was a professor of education at the University of Southern California and at the University of British Columbia.
Peter Principle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia