December 2006 Archives

Getting Things Done


One of the things that I’m constantly attracted to (besides things that remind me of things I’ve done before) is productivity porn. All those nifty gadgets that are supposed to help you get stuff done but never really work.

I think my first official, tangible purchase of productivity porn was a little plastic ‘desk organizer’ that held pens, had slots for envelopes, and square tray for origami paper. It sat abandoned on my desk in Hong Kong surrounded by pencils that never made it into the pen holder, stuffed animals, and filled with unused pastel-colored origami paper. After the move from HK (and subsequent moves), it had an unofficial place directly above my desk and collected surprisingly little dust. I suspect that every night, it reached out for the nearest stuffed animal to use as a duster to maintain its smoky plastic resin translucence. I haven’t unpacked it yet and have no idea where it is at the moment.

Several years later, the latest item is a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’ve been in something of a haze about it all week; since winter break began I’ve been reading the site, wiki, etc. on a daily basis, as well as the book, which was a Christmas gift this year (thanks, Dad!). There are a lot of things to like about the book and system:

  • there is no official system, only principles
  • clear writing style, no fuzziness about what and why he suggests certain things
  • acknowledgment that it’s not perfect, but that it can help
  • very easy to immediately see implications in day-to-day life
  • an encouraging sign about the system is the enormous internet fanbase. 43folders is pretty much the tip of the iceberg and acts as a focal point for Mac-based GTD systems and communities.

Basically, he’s a huge advocate of writing everything down. And then sorting it a particular way. And to sort things, you need projects. And your projects need to be results-oriented. And because you need to see results at different stages, there are varying levels of short and long term goals. And that people forget things (so remind yourself about it by writing everything down. And then sort…)

Redmond, We Found Your Copy Room

I Must Eat Here When I Visit Montreal

Cult restaurant Au Pied de Cochon (no relation to the much older establishment of the same name in Paris, another place I want to eat) has collectively produced an extremely weird but potentially fascinating cookbook. From the Times:

How else could they open the book with a photograph of Mr. Picard in a meat locker, slugging a split pig as if it’s a punching bag while his shirtless staff watches? Would a big publisher have let them include a picture of the barrel-chested Mr. Picard wearing nothing but a regal sash under the title “PDC Food Porn,” or a portrait of the dishwashers acknowledging their hard work, or a phone message from an unhappy diner with choice words for Mr. Picard?

The French version comes with a 48-page comic book that claims to be a history of pork; the English version has instead an introduction by famed culinary rascal Anthony Bourdain.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Bush!

All the George Bushes want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Paging GB Shaw, Rewrites Needed, Stat!

I didn’t know that the English ordered Jeanne d’Arc’s[1] body to be burned thrice; now, it turns out that some of her remains may have survive lo these many hundreds of years.

[1] There’s some dispute over the Maid of Orleans’ real name; there is some evidence (nothing dispositive) that her name was Jeanne Darc, not Jeanne d’Arc… but “of the Arc” does have a nice ring to it.

Great article about how insane US tax policy is driving some people to renounce their US citizenship.

The basic problem is that the US taxes Americans on their world-wide income. This almost sounds equitable, except that

  1. the US is the only nation that does this
  2. every other nation that has an income tax only tax their citizens on domestically-generated income
  3. for certain individuals, you end up with a situation where they end up in the highest tax brackets in both the US and overseas, which is double taxation, with very little leftover for the taxpayer.

Admittedly, this mostly only affects rich people, and I’m all for the rich paying their fair share of tax, but the key word there is “fair”. I’d point out that the Beatles, at the height of their popularity, were in a 95% marginal tax bracket (leading to George Harrison’s “Taxman” and the line “That’s one for you, nineteen for me”).

Complaints Complaints

Given yesterday’s deluge of procrastinationinformative posts, I figure going back to the ‘post a day’ rate, at least from this end. I can’t replicate the encyclopedic link entries Paul generates seemingly at whim, but I can maintain some of the whim.

Today’s theme, straight from the goodwill of the holiday season: complaints. Perhaps doubly important because one of the protests going on in the city today is happening outside my front door.

The Complaints Choir Project - started in Helsinki, the project has spread to Birmingham, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, and according to the splash map, Bodø, Norway. Unforunately, only Birmingham and Helsinki’s performances (English subtitles included) have been edited and uploaded to youtube. Portions of the text for Hamburg and St. Petersburg can be found in the captions of individual pictures. Haven’t linked to the Birmingham performance as Birmingham’s performance comes off as simply whiny; Helsinki’s choir deserves the subtitle ‘Joys of Life in a Socialist Nordic Country’.

Featured recently on youtube, Rob Paravonian’s Pachelbel Rant is also worth watching.

Tomorrow’s theme: another holiday-inspired derivation.

And No, Heart of Darkness Is Not On The List

Ethan Zuckerman, fresh off of the very successful Second Annual Global Voices Summit, is asking for suggestions for books about understanding Africa.

I suggested Naipul’s A Bend In The River, which is great look at an unnamed African country’s struggle during decolonization.

Different Strokes For Different Sprouts

Herewith I present two very different posts about Brussels sprouts.

Back On The Road Again

Well, I’m about to head out the door for the airport to head out to Germany. In my absence, I’ve shanghaied recruited my brother to guest-blog. I’ve also set up some pre-scheduled posts that will appear from time to time. And I might even update my flickr feed, too…

Survey Says!

So, according to (which is, let’s face it, a reprint service for the AP) 95% percent of Americans have had premarital sex; in other news, 5% of Americans are found to be compulsive liars.

Think of the Synergies!

I should probably open a law firm with this man, for the name alone.

(via the wsj law blog)

Google, I'm Giving You This One For Free

A little-known, but very useful, Google trick is that when you insert a UPS or FedEx package number into Google, it offers to automagically retrieve the package tracking information for you. Pretty neat, eh?

Well, why doesn’t Google extend that service to include legal cites? You could just put “825 F.2d 835” or “1 Cranch 137” into the search box, and the full opinion would just pop up.

This would also have the advantage of putting Lexis and Westlaw out of business….

I Need To Work On My Timing

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I’m heading out to see my sister in two days. Between now and then I have to:

  1. Finish my last final (it’s a 48-hour take-home)
  2. Finish Start Xmas shopping
  3. Do Laundry
  4. Pack
  5. Make sure the DVR doesn’t erase anything that I haven’t watched yet that I want to keep.

And in other news, this will be the fourth time in a row that I’ve visited northern Europe in the dead of winter. And not just in the dead of winter—this will be the third time in a row that I’ll have either landed either on landed on the day before the winter solstice. One of these days I’ll get over there during the summer…

links for 2006-12-16

links for 2006-12-15

...Just In Time For The Torts Final

And in other news, the Pepsi machine in the school's cafeteria managed to catch on fire today. Torts professors were unavailable to comment.

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links for 2006-12-10

And Now I Await The Shade of Virgil To Guide Me

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It’s very unfortunate that Ann Coulter shares my birthday.

Still, the MPRE delivered an early birthday present yesterday, as I found out that I’m now ethical in all 50 states. Not bad for an exam that I thought I failed…

Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?


Somewhere on the school network is a shared iTunes library (not mine, in case you’re wondering) called “your ex-lover is dead” (sic). The only playlist shared is something called “this is my heart”.


Another Mystery Solved!

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No wonder there was no line at the Taco Bell today at lunch.

It’s funny—Taco Bell has managed to make a successful restaurant business by actually only making three or four different ingredients and then repackaging and recombining them in endless combinations and form factors. This explains why everything they make pretty much tastes the same, no matter what you order.

Of course, when one of those three or four things gets contaminated, then you have a problem.

FWIW, the incubation period for e. coli is apparently 3-to-9 days. I’ll keep you posted.

links for 2006-12-04

I've Been To The Mountain

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It seems that I actually did manage to pull off putting up a new entry every day last month. Admittedly, some entries were less inspired than others, and about half the entries seem to be time-stamped after 11 p.m. (particularly in the second half of the month). And about half of those are time-stamped after 11:50 p.m. Hmmm.

It was an interesting experiment, to be sure, but I’m not sure that it was really the kick in the pants I needed to get me out of the posting blues. Let’s be honest here—this wasn’t exactly glorious writing (and probably quite a few could probably be classified as cheese sandwich posts). Quite frankly, I seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut. On the other hand, it was fun, and I’ll probably take another shot at it next year. I think, though, that it’s not enough to just to post something; it has to be something that says something.

As for my attempts to also keep up my Flickr feed and my Vox blog… well, I kinda fell down on the Flickr front, but I did post on 29 of 30 days on Vox. Thank god they have a Question Of The Day.

(graphic from here)

Flying Meatballs

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Who knew there were so many ways to screw up building a Billy bookcase?

World AIDS Day

Light a virtual candle, and Bristol-Myers Squibb will make a donation to AIDS research.

Little-known fact about AIDS: it was originally known as GRID, for Gay-Related Immunodeficiency Disease, which just goes to show how little researchers and doctors knew about the disease at the beginning of the epidemic.

My friend Jen (who occasionally shows up over there on the left in the sidebar graphic) worked on the site.

links for 2006-12-01