Category Archives: Lifehacks

The Persistence of a Dog

So I updated the blog software today and I’m like, “Why not write something?” so here we go.  I’ve been thinking about dogs for a while now because, well, a dog has entered my life recently.  No, not my girlfriend you bastards, but her dog.  I, like many of you out there, suffer from allergies and it especially flares up around pets.  Growing up was a litany of cats with a few dogs sprinkled here and there.  It wasn’t until college that I finally freed myself, as well as my nasal passages, from pets.

Fast forward about 2 years ago.  I met the love of my life and everything was perfect, except that she had a dog.  My fears related toward the best solution I had for dealing with allergies:  avoiding pets at all costs.  But this time I had more at stake.  So I bit the bullet and tried to make work.  Welp, we’re still together and I’m not sneezing as much so it looks to be working out just great.  But that’s not what I’m getting at.

Being so removed from pets, I’ve never had the chance to observe them with my fully developed cranium.  In some respects, it gives me an advantage to see how pets operate from a different point of view.  One of the things I noticed through the almost two years I’ve spent watching the dog is this:  dogs are the most persistent creatures on earth.

I’ve handled dog behavior in good ways and in bad ways.  I’m not perfect and maybe I could’ve handle some situations better, but the outcome never fails with the dog.  No matter how I deal with what it’s done, it always keeps coming back for what it wants.  Sure there may be some period of avoidance, but it either has a terrible memory or it just never holds a grudge.  Whatever it is, it keeps its main goal of food, petting, and attention at hand and will just keep on trying to get the most of it.

From what I can gather, the domestication of dogs created some behaviors that make them react in ways that massage the emotion of its owner.  Like its ears bending back and somehow attaining the perfect sad droopy face, dogs figured out when they are being scolded and counter with the right combo of moves to paralyze the owner with a remorseful facade.  Once its over they seem to forget the whole thing and keep on keeping on.

I sense it.  I get it.  And I also respect it.

People tend to be just a little more complicated.  I know within myself I can let one little thing meander down the road to pure rage or depression.  Usually when that happens I get derailed off the track to where I want to be in life.  Whether it’s for the day or something bigger for the month, sometimes I can let stuff get to me and change my behavior with actions and/or people.  So when I see the dog bounce right back up after I scolded it looking for a biscuit or a scratch behind the head, I have to pause for a moment.

The way the dog acts makes me strive more to bang out what exactly it is I want and to keep pushing toward it, no matter what happens.  It might also mean for me to go a little too far in pursuit because as someone else smarter than me said, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness then it is to get permission.”  I never thought I would get advice from a dog, but here it is.  Rest assured, I won’t be drinking water from a bowl or cleaning myself with my tongue anytime soon.

Spring Cleaning! 2010 Edition

Now that I’ve fully recovered from SXSW, it’s high time I start cleaning up.  The schwag mountain spilled over and caused some damage but I got it under control.  So now it’s time to spring clean my workflow and social media usage.  I subscribe to this, follow that, or just end up trying to fill up big holes in my life with tiny sand distractions that it gets way too overwhelming, as I’m sure others can identify.  Once I realize that, then I know it’s time to pare down my workflow and regroup.  It’s not a perfect system, but when it comes time for a change I’m ready to make it.  So how am I doing this?  Glad you asked.

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What’s left @todo

A couple of different developments cropped up in the last couple of months that’s pulled me away from the blog.  One of them was a job change.  The company I’m working on a contract to hire basis is great and I’ve had the opportunity to learn many things in my short time there.  I do PHP programming and I had the opportunity to freshen up on PHPDoc.  PHPDoc is a documentation standard much like JavaDoc where you can comment code and drop in identifiers to help with the status of a certain function or class.  One of the identifiers is ‘@todo.’  After working with the history of the ‘@’ symbol and how it relates in context, especially with GTD,  I came to realize how much this 5 character identifier has affected my life.

The ‘@todo’ identifier states one thing clearly:  The following information is what’s left or what’s next to do.  It can be compared to the @NextAction context in GTD.  Once that action is completed, there may be another one next and subsequently a ‘@todo’ identifier with that information will be listed.  The difference between that and GTD is that it’s left in the code.  But, with a good IDE or a simple awk command, you can compile the list of @todo’s for a project thus returning it to a GTD like state.

I’m the kind of person who’s insane attention to detail will leave me always uncovering a rock or looking at a problem from all perspectives.  Some people call this being a pefectionist.  One of the major problems with being a perefectionist is that they will refine and tweak themselves into never getting anything done.  Analysis through paralysis is a common phrase for the problem.   And yes, I have that problem.

As some of you may know, a couple of years ago I hit rock bottom in paralysis and have somehow climbed my way step by step by implementing the GTD mehtod (as well as making other life changes).  The perfectionist in me still lives.  The initial mind dump and inbox organization took me about 3 days.  One of the hardest things to do while implementing the methodology was not being sure I was doing it right.  The common voice of the perfectionist.

So I’m slowly learning ot become an almost-perfectionist.  I still do my tweaks and twinges, but set a time limit before sending the product off.  Whenever I do so, there’s that voice that doubts whether or not I’ve done right.  Even when I use a time limit, it reaches out and pulls me down to make sure I double check and triple check everything.  It’s going to be with me forever.

Last month, an ‘ah-ha’ moment came.  And no I’m not talking about jumping up and singing ‘Take on Me.’   What I’m talking about is when I started brushing up on PHPDoc, I realized that the ‘@todo’ was the trademark for the perfectionist.  I can roll some code out but appease the perefectionist in me with the simple 5 letter incantonation.  The code is out and I can always come back to it to tweak and twinge.

I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be happy with my work.  I’ve also accepted that I will always find something wrong with it and attempt to fix it on the spot.  But with the ‘@todo’ action I can drop the noted fix and move on.  I feel much more relieved and am producing more now that I’ve left @todo’s not only in my code, but also in my other projects, my friends, my family, and my life.

Thunderbird and Lightning Helps Bring the GTD Storm to the Office


Needless to say, the holidays brought me some changes this year on both the personal and professional side.  A couple of years ago I implemented the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology to help account for changes in my life and to influence the direction it was going.  I recently had the opportunity to start a fresh GTD setup at the office.  Here are the steps:
Continue reading Thunderbird and Lightning Helps Bring the GTD Storm to the Office