Category Archives: backlog

2017-12-07: Monthly review

A little late this month, and skipped the previous review, so more than usual to cover.

Much of October was spent in sorting our stuff, to keep, sell, or donate, and packing the portion to keep. A few items were sold on Craigslist.com, quite a bit was donated to Good Will, or placed at the street where many items were taken in a matter of hours. We also worked on minor repairs and cleaning of the house, though the cleaning was mostly wasted effort as the painters and repairmen came through and made a mess in the process. 

On October 30, the moving van came and took waaay more stuff away than we should have packed. Downsizing after 39 years in one house is hard! We spent the next two weeks at Carl/Renee/Chad’s house, while we did what we could to get the house ready to sell. Then we handed off to our agent to supervise the rest of the repairs/renovations, loaded Billy into the car and drove across the country. We hadn’t settled on a route ahead of time, as the weather could be a problem along the shortest, most northerly, route. We ended up going through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. We made a short side trip to Hastings, NE, where my great-great-grandfather had been mayor in the 1880s. We also stopped briefly at the Messenger Old West Museum in Cheyenne, WY. We generally made good time, except in Wyoming. There we were forced off I-80 by a closure, and had to sit in a parking area with about 50 trucks and 25 cars for around five hours. When finally allowed on the road, we had to backtrack, and made a net progress of only 34 miles that day.

Our stuff arrived while we were still in Maryland, but Chris took care of meeting the movers and directing placement of furniture, boxes and loose items. On December 5 we spent our first night in the house, still surrounded by numerous boxes, and still wondering which box held the most urgent item at any given moment. Moving in is a work in progress.

I accomplished nothing on my projects, except for two sentences for TYHE: The first chapter will describe the various jobs the narrator took after leaving school, before deciding to try space-work. The chapter will end with the sentence: “I hate plumbing.” Chapter two will begin with the sentence: “A spaceship is mostly plumbing.”

2017-09-17: I, Replicant

This is a notion for a novel based on the concept of replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner. The story would be a first-person semi-memoir of a replicant, beginning with the first glimmering of realization that he isn’t human, and dealing with the differences between replicants and humans. Various sorts of drama might make it interesting, if I can think of any.

This might be an interesting project to develop with the research version of Cyc.

 

 

2017-10-01: Monthly review

The following quote from Steve Jobs was played during the tribute to him on the opening of the Steve Jobs Theater at the new Apple Park:

There’s lots of ways to be as a person. And some people express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. And you never meet the people, you never shake their hands, you never hear their story or tell yours, but somehow, in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there. And it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation.

This captures a feeling I’ve had for many years, and which I hope gets passed along to anyone who reads these words.

2017-09-01: Monthly review

Busy month. August was dominated by our trip, which was in four parts: Colorado and Wyoming for research; Seattle pre-eclipse; Oregon camping in the vanagon named Butter for the eclipse; Seattle post-eclipse.

Before our trip, we met with the recommended handyman, Scott, to get an estimate on repairs prior to selling the house. We also had modest success selling a few items on Craigslist.

On the 8th we flew to Denver and drove to Fort Collins. On a whim, we stopped at the welcome center. The friendly folks there asked what we were looking for, and when they heard we were researching family history, they summoned the manager. After telling them a bit about Harry Gant, they got more excited and said I needed to talk to Wayne, who was due to arrive any minute (around 11:00). They showed me his book about 150 years of FC history. I went out to the car to get copies of ISTRA/MISTRA, just as Wayne arrived. I ended up giving them those copies, and later sent a couple more. They hope I can return some time and talk to their local history group. We walked from the Best Western University Inn to the Fort Collins Museum Of Discovery (FCMOD). The archives are free and the woman on duty looked up Nellie Gant, finding a beautiful studio photo of six people, one named Nellie Sheffield Grant. The photo is not dated, but is obviously after she married Gant in 1901. Four of the other names are Sheffields but not familiar to me. We also looked at a brand book for 1912 or 1914. We found a brand, S Bar, registered to the Tenney Brothers; this cast doubt on my hypothesis that the Gant T Cross brand had been obtained from them. We also saw a brand, 6 T Bar, registered to Jonathan Gant of Rifle, in Garfield County; this is quite a bit west of FC.

We walked around FC looking at the addresses we have for Harry and John E Gant. It’s doubtful any of the buildings are the ones they lived in.

On the 9th, we walked across the street to the CSU library archives and looked at a brand book from 1894. This also had the Tenney Bros S Bar. Susan and were both astounded to find the T Cross brand, registered to J. Armstrong, Jr, of Fort Collins, probably Jacob Armstrong, father of George Armstrong, Gant’s friend and grandfather of my friend Ken Armstrong of Maple Creek, SK. As Susan said, it sent chills up and down our spines. There was also a linked A and J brand registered to Jac’b Armstrong, Jr of Larimer Co. This book also had advertising for the Denver Union Stock Yard, including a bird’s eye view drawing of the area.

We next drove to Greeley. I had corresponded with the archivists there, and they were ready for us with a 1900 Colorado brand book and a 1905 Weld County brand book. The 1900 book has the T Cross brand registered to Jno. E. Gant of Fort Collins. This seems to imply that Gant obtained the Armstrong brand between 1894 and 1900. Maybe Ken Armstrong knows something about it. There is also a brand registered to H. T. Decker of Woods, WY. Another brand, Rocking L, is registered to J. J. Armstrong, Greeley, Weld Co. Another linked A J brand is also registered to Jacob Armstrong of Fort Collins. The book also has two brands registered to E. N. Sheffield, of New Windsor, Weld Co., and E. E. Sheffield of Fort Collins. In order to look at these books, I was required to wear gloves (I chose white cotton, rather than blue latex or blue non-latex). These made turning pages a bit difficult, and I was tempted to remove them to turn pages. We listed the pages that interested us, and the staff photocopied them for us. They were very interested in our story and the success of our visit.

After lunch we drove around looking for the ranch locations I had found for Tenney and Decker. The dirt county roads made us feel justified in getting a SUV rather than a sedan. On one road we met a “Dust Suppression Application” operation.

On the 10th, we drove to Cheyenne. The Old West Museum associated with Cheyenne Frontier Days was disappointing. At the state museum archives, I was shown a collection of programs from CFD. The 1907 program had a photo of a potato race, which was one of Gant’s best events. (He won in 1909, with Tom Mix on his team.) The Messenger Old West Museum was fantastic. We were ready to leave and stopped to tell the caretaker how much we liked it, when a thunderstorm moved in. Rather than go out in the rain we said we’d keep looking, so he came along with us and pointed out some of his favorite bits. When Susan asked if they had any books to buy, he said no, but maybe he could find something. He went somewhere for a minute and came back with a DVD, which he gave us, declining our offer to pay the $20 listed on its case! We then drove to Chugwater, to check the terrain in which I’m setting Neal’s Story. It was kind of funny to announce the creeks we would cross while Susan drove; I’ve pored over enough maps that I knew them pretty well, better than I know our own neighborhood, according to Susan. The land is mostly flat, only lightly dissected by shallow canyons for most creeks (at least where the highway crosses them), until you get to Chugwater. That creek has carved significant steep-sided bluffs, perfectly suited to the events I’d already written. In Chugwater, we stayed at the Buffalo Lodge and Grill. The woman in the fringed buckskin jacket said she could make us some chili or a burger, but suggested the Stampede Saloon and Eatery, for the Thursday Jam Session. She also told us that she’s charging $450 per night with a two-night minimum for the eclipse. Chugwater is not in the path of totality; other places in Wyoming are charging $1,000. We walked past the Chugwater Chili Company store, which was closed, the Chugwater Soda Fountain (“Wyoming’s Oldest Operating Soda Fountain”), and the Chugwater Museum, also closed. The jam session included about eight enthusiastic performers.

On the 11th, we bought some chili products, then got chocolate shakes and prairie pies for the road to Fort Laramie. We stopped at the Wheatland visitor center, just barely within the totality path. Despite a lot of eclipse-related souvenirs, the woman there was not enthusiastic, anticipating many problems such as gridlock, brush fires ignited by catalytic converters, inability of volunteer fire fighters to get to their stations and then to fires, and bank robberies. We didn’t see much of interest around Fort Laramie, then went back to Wheatland for dinner. On this trip in cattle country, we expected to find decent steaks; we were disappointed. In fact, we were somewhat appalled at the way cattle and sheep are crowded into pens. After dinner, we drove to the Elk Mountain Hotel. This is a slightly bizarre hotel with a dozen rooms or so. The proprietors are characters, and the Eliza Swaine room is decorated with nine photos and paintings of naked ladies (probably not Eliza Swaine).

On the 12th, we drove to the Snowy Range of the Medicine Bow mountains, up to Libby Flats at 10,847 feet elevation. We walked a couple of miles, then drove to Laramie. At around 4 am, someone pounded on our hotel room window. It took a while to figure out the phone to call the front desk, and I don’t think they ever found out what was going on. Probably someone went out for a smoke, and couldn’t get back in.

On the 13th we, we drove through Fort collins and got mini-donuts for the road from Peace, Love, and Little Donuts (Feed your inner hippie), then on to Denver. Due to te Colorado Classic bike race ending in Denver that day, we didn’t try to see the location of Gant’s livery stable. Then on to Seattle, where Chris and Ren picked us up at the airport.

The next few days were generally getting ready for the eclipse trip, Chris and Grant had reserved campsites at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, within the path of totality. We hiked around the park, and saw nine of the ten waterfalls, some of which you can walk behind. On the  21st, we staked out a spot in a meadow with a good view toward the sun, and waited along with a few hundred others. As Chris later said, she knew what she’d see, but not how she’d feel. It was an amazing experience, which I recommend to anyone who has the chance to see it.

After the eclipse, we looked online at some properties Chris had identified, both apartments and houses. While driving around, we came across a sign for one, and called to arrange to look at it. As it turned out, this was the only one we actually looked at, and we signed a lease before coming home. We expect to move in November.

With all this activity, I haven’t made much progress on my personal projects.

 

 

 

 

2017-08-02: Story Structure

Apparently Don Harmon has a good reputation for advising on how to structure a story. Here’s the meat of his advice, in eight parts:

  1.  A character is in a zone of comfort,
  2. But they want something.
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
  4. Adapt to it,
  5. Get what they wanted,
  6. Pay a heavy price for it,
  7. Then return to their familiar situation,
  8. Having changed.

1990-01-01: Quotes

I’ve been collecting quotes for a long time, so the date in this post’s title is irrelevant. There is no order to these, except that when I add a new one, it is at the top of the list. It should go without saying that this post is full of memes, and will always be unfinished.


«    1 of 52    »

Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target … which others cannot even see.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

When someone says something, don’t ask yourself if it is true. Ask what it might be true of.

— Daniel Kahneman

The psychological present is said to be about three seconds long; that means that, you know, in a life there are about 600 million of them; in a month, there are about 600,000 – most of them don’t leave a trace.

— Daniel Kahneman

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

— Annie Dillard

Be sure and tell your friends this isn’t easy.

— Dot Blackstone (on her deathbed)

When so many deny the lessons of history it usually means they’re just about to learn them all over again.

— John Templeton, Jesse Felder

Bull markets are born on pessimism, grown on scepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.

— John Templeton

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

— Edward Snowden

The hard part of standing on an exponential curve is: when you look backwards, it looks flat, and when you look forward, it looks vertical. And it’s very hard to calibrate how much you are moving because it always looks the same.

— Sam Altman

If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

— Mickey Mantle.
«    1 of 52    »

 

2017-08-01: Monthly review

On July 3rd we bought a new car. We bought our previous car, a 2016 Mazda CX-5, in August 2015 from FitzMall Mazda in Annapolis. In June we received a mailing that described incentives and low interest rates, suggesting they could put in a 2017 CX-5 for the same payment. Skeptical, I called Anthony Johnson, the salesman we had dealt with before, to see if that was actually realistic. He was encouraging (surprise!), so we went in to talk, and ended up buying the car. The 2016 model ws version 1.0 of the CX-5, and the newer model has better suspension, better sound insulation, and a few new features. Among the features we like are: two-driver seat position memory, auto-hold brake, heads-up display shows digital speed, and recognizes certain traffic signs (speed limits and stop signs).

We’ve completed most of the planning for our August research trip, prior to the eclipse expedition. I’ve also been in touch with Ken Armstrong; he won’t be able to meet up with us on this trip, but we’ll try some other time.

My Social Security benefit has started, so we’re now reaching all of our regular retirement income. The remainder will consist of Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from IRA/401k accounts. These will vary each year, based on an IRS table and the year-end balance in the accounts.

We’ve also met with the realtor and his recommended interior designer, and have a fairly good idea of the changes they think we should make for selling the house.

We’ve also had advice on where to look for a place when we move: Edmonds. We’ll see.

 

2017-07-01: Monthly review

Chris and Ren came to visit in June, and we did a lot to get ready for a yard sale and to meet a real estate agent.

The yard sale netted over $200, and resulted in donation of a lot of metal for recycling, and usable items for Good Will, the Senior Center, and friends.

The agent advised us on people to do various tasks around the house, and things we should do. He recommended we prepare the house with minor tasks, then move out and allow major work to go forward without disrupting us. He also said the last few years sales have been best in Dec-Feb, rather than in the spring.

So, at last we have a strategy! We have “commitments” through October, but might be able to move to Seattle before Christmas. C has said we are welcome to stay up to six months with them.

On NS, added chapters 69-76 (Gunnar’s death).

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2017-06-29: The Lives of Arthur

Geoffrey Ashe’s The Discovery of King Arthur connects a historical person named Riothamus with the legendary King Arthur. When I read the book (late 1980s) I thought it might be interesting to incorporate the ideas into a novel-like structure where the historical aspects are recorded in some monastery after the death of Riothamus, then elaborated by accreting legendary aspects, and becomes the source material leading to Geoffrey of Monmouth and beyond.

2007-07-00: Road Warriors

Susan and I have long enjoyed attending minor league baseball, and have tried to attend every minor league stadium within a two-hour drive of home, as well as games when we travel. We often buy t-shirts to support teams we see.

Most of the nearby teams are clubs in the Minor League Baseball association, where each team is affiliated with a Major League Baseball team. The team we’ve seen most is the Bowie Baysox, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. However there is also an independent league within reach, the Atlantic League. This league provides opportunities for players who haven’t been able to get contracts with Major/Minor League Baseball teams, and play in towns that don’t have minor league teams. The stadiums are comparable to AA/AAA level stadiums.

In 2007, we attended a game in York, PA where the Revolution was playing the Road Warriors. The league was supposed to have eight teams, but one of them folded in 2006. In order to maintain the eight-team schedule, the league established the Road Warriors, a team with no home field that played all of its games on the road. Naturally they were underdogs everywhere they went. Naturally we rooted for them and bought the t-shirt for sale in the York stadium store.

In 2008, a new field was established in Waldorf, MD and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs filled out the league, and the Road Warriors players dispersed. However, it turns out that there were other years where Road Warriors were needed as teams failed. The first were in 2002-2004, then 2006-2007, and most recently in 2011.

The players on the roster in July 2007 are listed below. Many also played on Minor or Major League teams.

Pos#NameB/TDOBHtWtLast ClubHighest
P23Benito BaezL/L1977-05-066-1160Road WarriorsMLB
P9Casey CahillR/R1982-03-156-3197SomersetAAA
P35Carlos CastilloR/R1975-04-016-3245MexicoMLB
P--Randy DickenR/R1982-08-196-2198CamdenA
P15Chris EickhorstR/R1975-12-196-4215Road WarriorsA
P24Bernie GonzalezR/R1980-05-106-2200Road WarriorsA
P32Julio GuerreroR/R1981-01-046-4180Road WarriorsA
P14Cody HarkcomR/R1983-12-156-1180BurlingtonA
P30Trevor MarcotteR/R1978-05-036-2170Road WarriorsIND
P18Damien MyersL/L1980-10-036-0180CamdenA
P25Darwin SotoR/R1982-01-156-2180Road WarriorsAAA
P16Emmanuel UlloaR/R1978-11-266-2180Colorado SpringsAAA
C27Sandy AracenaR/R1981-01-036-0180Road WarriorsA
C31Manuel MejiaR/R1978-10-056-2220Road WarriorsA
C28Nick ValdezR/R1986-10-36-1215Diamond Backs (Rookie)R
IF22Josh ArteagaR/R1980-03-145-9170NewarkAAA
IF21Ian BladergroenL/L1983-02-236-5210WilmingtonA
IF13Vito ChiaravallotiR/R1980-10-266-3225FrederickAA
IF8Ron FenwickL/R1978-12-195-11185ShreveportIND
IF36Omar GarciaR/R1971-11-166-2220Nashua (04)AAA
IF2David HouselS/R1981-09-066-2160Road WarriorsA
IF6Jorge MejiaS/R1982-08-156-1165Rio GrandA
IF11Gabe SuarezR/R1984-12-146-0170Tri-CitiesA
OF7Jason BryanR/R1981-11-186-2190Road WarriorsA
OF19Steve DoetschR/R1983-12-026-2200Myrtle BeachA
OF12Travis EziS/L1981-09-056-0175YorkAA
OF3Estee HarrisL/R1985-01-085-11170LI/Road WarriorsA
DL--Chris FlinnR/R1980-08-186-2180DurhamAAA
DL--Kevin MannixR/R1980-12-206-1205Long IslandA
DL26Jeff TamR/R1970-08-196-1202Syracuse (03)MLB
Mgr34Jeff Scott
Coach33D.J. Boston
Trainer--Mia Del Hierro

2017-04-04: Mom’s death

Around 4:15 am on April 4th, Dina called to say that we should go to Seattle, as Mom was in the hospital and had been told she could expect to survive only a couple of days if she didn’t have surgery, which she was refusing. Susan and I arrived at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon that afternoon/evening (separate flights). Dina and Laura were with her. Mom had seen Chris, Grant, and Ren, apparently a very good visit.

Mom was entirely lucid, and determined that she was ready to die. It turned out that the prognosis was a bit pessimistic, and when she appeared to be lingering on Wednesday, we were told that she would be discharged from the hospital on Thursday; home hospice arrangements were made for her to be moved to Dina’s. It was not possible to move her to a formal hospice institution because of her determination to invoke Washington’s Death With Dignity law. This would entail her taking a prescription that would end her life, and no institution would allow this on their premises. However, on Thursday morning, her medications were not stabilized, so they did not discharge her. On Friday, the “hospitalist” told us that she wouldn’t be discharged before Monday; he also said she would probably not last that long.

Through Friday, when she awoke, she would sometimes make a comment like “That’s all folks”, or “Still here?”. She said also that she was sorry to be a burden to us. Once, she said “Be sure and tell your friends this isn’t easy.”

Through it all, she was very brave. She didn’t complain, except to request adjustments to her position or an ice pack for her forehead. She was in some pain, and apparently Fentanyl wasn’t as effective on her as expected. Sometime on Sunday they turned off her pacemaker (though it wasn’t thought to be having any effect). She passed more or less peacefully Sunday evening, April 9th, with Dina and me at her side.

She was cremated, and her remains were mixed with those of Terry (died 1996-07-07) and Gary (died 2008-05-19). Together, they were sent over Snoqualmie Falls, a spot which had been meaningful to Terry and Mom.

 

2017-06-01: Monthly review

NS is up to chapter 69.

No progress on WN.

Activated SS benefits; first payment expected July 26 (payments are scheduled for fourth Wednesday of each month).

Planned CO/WY part of August trip. Will locate Harry Gant’s house location (307 S Sherwood St, Fort Collins) and the street where John E Gant lived (number came up 1, but probably incorrect). In Greeley, hope to find some info about the Tenney ranch and brand, and maybe the Gant brand in 1905 Colorado Brand Book. Still need to refine questions for Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

Saw Orioles/Yankees game with Barbara/John and Phyllis/Jim, in suite 62.

Had a quiet birthday, mostly to be celebrated when Chris/Ren arrive mid-June.

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2017-05-13: As I Knew Him

As I Knew Him

My Dad, Rod Serling (2013)

by Anne Serling (1965-)

I was always a fan and admirer of Rod Serling, but there is much I didn’t know in this book. It is a well-written description of a good relationship between a daughter and her father, and of the father himself. It also describes the grief Anne dealt with after her 50-year father died when she was just 20.

In the last chapter, she sums up:

The gifts and lessons my father left me will last forever: Never take yourself too seriously, never miss a chance to laugh long and hard, speak out about political and social issues you believe in, use the written word as often as you can to make yourself and the world a better place, and love your children with all you’ve got.

The book is full of anecdotes illustrating these themes.

2017-05-01: Monthly review

I didn’t write a review of March, due to a major distraction in early April: I was summoned to Mom’s deathbed on 4/4. She died 4/9, and we held a ceremony to commemorate her, Gary and Terry on 4/23. See the post: 2017-04-04: Mom’s death.

Aside from those significant events, March and April included the following.

Ended my trial run with mint.intuit.com and deleted my account. There were numerous problems with mint.com connecting to certain financial institutions, requiring me to repeatedly enter login credentials. Also (maybe not caused by mint) a credit card was fraudulently used (fortunately caught by Chase).

NS is up to chapter 61.

Little progress on WN.

While in Seattle, we attended the PBR at the Tacoma Dome. We visited the exhibition of China’s Terra-cotta Army; the exhibit was very good, and I have recommended it to others when it moves to Philadelphia.

Retirement: applied for SS benefits, payments should start in July.

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2002-01-03: GTD – Quarterly reviews

The quarterly review helps keep priorities aligned with goals. The list below is a snapshot of one of my quarterly reviews from early 2015.


These serve one or more of my life goals. Whenever I undertake a specific project (or one-time activity) it should be possible to relate it to one or more of these goals. Most of these Project Goals don’t have a definite end-state (and so technically aren’t projects); simply finding ways to work toward them is the goal. Ideally, every project or other activity supports one of these goals. (Note that these are in alphabetical order, not priority.)

Create: Creative activities in various media (such as writing, software, artwork) can leave a “footprint in the sands of time”. Acts of creation support the life goal of maintaining a sound mind. Ideally, the results of these creative acts support the life goal of influencing others.

Castle Knob: Castle Knob is a way to organize my creative endeavors, and supports my life goal to influence others. It would be nice to hand it on to someone else.

Effective Processes: A lot of life is just doing the day-to-day stuff we need to do, in the limited time and with the limited resources available to us. Effective processes and procedures help minimize the time and effort required for the mundane stuff, leaving more time and energy for the more interesting or challenging stuff. The goal of improving processes and procedures directly supports the Work/Life goal, and also leaves more time and energy for the other life goals.

Finances: Income from work and saving for future needs is necessary; managing money can make it more valuable, and move the possibility of retirement closer.

Fitness: Regular exercise in a variety of forms supports the life goal of maintaining a sound body.

Fun: Everyone should enjoy a reasonable amount of fun, supporting the life goal of enjoying life.

Habits: Good is better than Bad, for a sound mind and body. Monitor the bad to discourage them, and actively pursue development of good habits.

Health: Health depends on expert knowledge and assistance, supporting the life goal of a sound mind and body.

Household: A household (including house, yard, car, furnishings, appliances, and occupants) should operate smoothly, at reasonable cost and effort, supporting the life goal of maintaining a work/life balance.

Memetics: Understanding the working of memes should be able to promote a better social fabric, to everyone’s benefit (except for sociopaths). Making this understanding explicit and accessible to a broad audience supports the life goal of having a good influence on others.

Mental Challenges: Meeting mental challenges (e.g., learning a new skill, solving puzzles) is a part of keeping the mind sharp.

Relationships: Happiness comes from having good relationships with relatives, friends, casual acquaintances, and others. Creating and maintaining good relationships supports the life goals of influencing others, maintaining a good work/life balance, and enjoying life.

Work: Until retirement is possible, work is the primary source of income to support all other activities.

2002-01-02: GTD – Monthly reviews

2002-01-01: GTD – Life Goals

Part of the GTD approach involves an annual review, where you examine your projects and goals, making sure everything you’re doing supports achieving your life goals. The short list below guides the establishment of other (project-level) goals; they are guidelines for living in the most general sense. Ideally, everything I do would further the achievement of these life goals.

Sound Mind in a Sound Body: There won’t be much point to my life if I don’t have the mental and physical capacity to perform the actions to maintain and enjoy it.

Influence Others: I hope my family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, readers and the myriad others that they influence have better lives as a result of my actions.

Work/Life: Work is the time/effort that I exchange for the income that enables the rest of my life’s goals to be realized. It is an aspect of living in society, and should be balanced with non-work aspects of life, including the potential to retire from work in part or entirely.

Enjoy: I expect to get some joy out of my life, even while working to achieve my goals.

2002-01-00: GTD

I started trying to apply David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” principles about 15 years ago (I’m writing this in March 2017), with imperfect results. His approach is oriented to executives and managers, but there is plenty of advice on the web to simplify it. I generally think it’s a good approach, and I recommend it. Here’s my take-away:

The key is to have a trusted system (e.g., a paper notebook or a computer application) that holds everything you need to get things done. The main point is: as soon as you find something that needs to be done, if you can’t do it in the next couple of minutes, get it into your trusted system (i.e., an inbox). Then you can stop worrying about trying to remember it, and trust that you’ll be reminded in a timely way. Just this simple principle is a great stress-reducer.

Around this notion, Allen recommends a workflow of five main steps (some refinements are possible; check his book for details, or find web resources):

  1. Collect (Inbox, etc)
  2. Process (actionable? next action?)
  3. Organize (add actions to lists)
  4. Review (daily: actions;  weekly: lists;  monthly/quarterly: projects;  annually: goals)
  5. Do (actions by context, priority, time, energy)

In my attempt to apply the GTD approach, I tried the following:

  1. Documented some life goals
  2. Identified some projects that support those goals
  3. Identified tasks that would move the projects forward (in a. spreadsheet named ProjectsTasks)
  4. Prioritized and tracked accomplishment of tasks in monthly reviews

I haven’t been entirely successful in executing this program, but I still think it’s worthwhile to be aware of the approach, and try to adapt it as much as makes sense. The links above are to some additional posts that expand on aspects of the approach as I was trying to apply it.

 

 

 

2017-03-0: Beyond the Northlands

Beyond the Northlands

Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas (2016)

by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (-)

 

The sagas are an interesting mix of historically-based story-telling and fantasy, hard for a modern reader to understand without knowing their manner of composition and context. The “Vikings” are thoroughly stereotyped in most people’s minds, to the extent that the actual roles of the Norse in history is little known to most of us. Barraclough does an admirable job of putting all of this into a coherent picture.

One of her points is that succeeding versions of saga stories were reinterpreted to reflect the culture in which they were refined. Of course, this interests me because it is exactly what I am doing with Njal’s Saga (Neal’s Story). Her writing is vivid and full of humor. I can recommend this book to anyone with an interest in any aspect of the Vikings or sagas. It might be interesting to send her a copy of Neal’s Story.

I particularly liked the part on the West, primarily Greenland. Coincidentally, just after reading it, the Smithsonian Associate magazine (March 2017) had an article describing the latest research on the nature and fate of the Greenland colonies.