Other blogs, other lives

I've spun off my two main interests--organizational methods/personal development and art toys--into two separate, more-focused blogs. Lifemuncher is my repository for GTD Web sites, listmaking tools, finance tips, and general productivity porn stuff. Arttoyz is where I talk about urban vinyl, artists, kaiju, and my major money-sucking hobby.

I've also been playing around with Tumblr, a really cool application for a more free-form sort of blogging, where you can almost effortlessly post links, photos, blog posts, conversations, and quotes. I hope you'll check it out.

Oooh, pretty stationery

Cool girly stationery and organizational products from seejanework.com. I like these accordion organizers the best.

Movie review: Reno 911 Miami

After reading the NYT review ("slapdash, on-and-off funny and exceedingly lazy"), I lowered my expectations and prepared myself for disappointment as we headed off to the movies this weekend. Fortunately, it was ok. Though it wasn't exactly Jackass Number Two (my current pick for funniest movie of the decade), Reno 911 was perfectly enjoyable -- like a long episode of the TV show, which is just fine with me.

Ay yi yi! Ratoncitos!

Rats love a good chalupa as much as the next guy.

It's like looking at my ass in the mirror

And I thought it would be Dangle's booty we'd be seeing a lot of. This movie better not suck. All my hopes and dreams will be cruelly dashed.

For your Saturday listening pleasure

Book Meme

Not sure why I'm doing this, except to show everyone how well-read and sophisticated I am, and because it's lunch time and I'm bored. I saw it on Laugh it Up Fuzzball. You're supposed to bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross in front of the ones on your bookshelf, and asterisk the ones you’ve never heard of. I didn't bother with the "ones on your bookshelf" part.

1. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown [Had to read it for a book club. It sucks. Richard Langdon has to be the dumbest symbologist of all time. I just watched the movie, which was even worse.]
2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen [Lawrence Olivier will always be Mr. Darcy to me.]
3. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
4. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - Tolkien
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - Tolkien
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers - Tolkien
8. Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
9. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon [I tried, but had to stop because of the persistent desire to claw my eyes out.]
10. A Fine Balance* - Rohinton Mistry
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
12. Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving [One of my favorites.]
15. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone - J.K. Rowling
17. Fall on Your Knees* - Ann-Marie MacDonald
18. The Stand - Stephen King
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
20. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
21. The Hobbit - Tolkien
22. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger [I didn't even like this book when I was 13.]
23. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott [Wasn't Louisa May Alcott's family some kind of commie nudist cult or something?]
24. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
25. Life of Pi* - Yann Martel
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte [I'm getting teary just thinking about it.]
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
29. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
30. Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
31. Dune - Frank Herbert [All Dune books are on my bookshelf, even Chapterhouse, which is truly horrible. I think it's what finally killed Herbert.]
32. The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks [I think I bought this one as research. I was going to write a romance novel and make a million dollars. Note to self: put that on my Next Actions list.]
33. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand [Well, of course. I read it when I was 14 and immediately joined The Objectivist Society. Fortunately Objectivism was just a teenage phase, like heavy black eyeliner.]
34. 1984 - George Orwell
35. The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
36. The Pillars of the Earth* - Ken Follett
37. The Power of One* - Bryce Courtenay [This one sounds suspiciously like a self-help book: The Power of One: Ten easy ways to lose weight by eating only one-calorie foods.]
38. I Know This Much is True* - Wally Lamb
39. The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
40. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel [Sex in the Pleistocene!]
42. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
45. The Bible [Strangely enough, I have several copies. I've tried to read it but I usually fall asleep. I believe my mom is currently reading "The Bible for Dummies." Maybe she'll lend it to me.]
46. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
47. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
48. Angela’s Ashes - Frank McCourt
49. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
50. She’s Come Undone - Wally Lamb
51. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
52. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
53. Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card [I like the Piggies better.]
54. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens [I've been assigned this book about a billion times, but I think I only managed to get through it once.]
55. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
56. The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
58. The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough [I love the Colleen McCullough Rome books.]
59. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrew Niffenegger
61. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
62. The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
63. War and Peace - Tolstoy [Do I need to read this? Or was Tolstoy being paid by the word, like Herman Melville or David Foster Wallace?]
64. Interview With The Vampire - Anne Rice
65. Fifth Business - Robertson Davis
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Ann Brashares
68. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
69. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
70. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery ["El Principito" is on my bookshelf. One of my Spanish teachers gave it to me.]
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
72. Love in the Time of Cholera - Marquez
73. Shogun - James Clavell
74. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje
75. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
76. The Summer Tree* - Guy Gavriel Kay
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
78. The World According To Garp - John Irving
79. The Diviners* - Margaret Laurence
80. Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage* - Timothy Findley
82. Of Mice And Men - John Steinbeck
83. Rebecca - Daphne DuMaurier
84. Wizard’s First Rule* - Terry Goodkind
85. Emma - Jane Austen
86. Watership Down - Richard Adams
87. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
88. The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields
89. Blindness* - Jose Saramago
90. Kane and Abel* - Jeffrey Archer
91. In The Skin Of A Lion - Micahel Ondaatje
92. Lord of the Flies - Golding
93. The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
94. The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
95. The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
96. The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
97. White Oleander - Janet Fitch
98. A Woman of Substance - Barbara Taylor Bradford
99. The Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield
100. Ulysses - James Joyce [I'm an English major. Of course I've read it.]

Project Black Box

Yesterday a guy from Sun Microsystems told me about Project Black Box, their new product that combines an entire data center into a shipping container. The racks are on springy foundations so that it's completely portable and earthquake safe. Apparently if you leave it on the truck, you also avoid having to get all the usual city permits, etc.

I thought it was kind of cool. Like something out of Cryptonomicon.
Is the Singularity here yet?

Uncle Muscles

I recently joined Mybloglog.com so now I know what my readers are clamoring for. It turns out that the number-one way readers come to visit Blogarsay is by searching for "Uncle Muscles" on Google.


Fortunately for UM lovers, they can now go straight to their My Space Page and avoid all this nonsense.

Getting Things Done Again

For something that at first glance seems like a glorified to do list, Getting Things Done is sure harder than it looks. In fact, David Allen has said that it takes about two years for someone to completely implement the scheme and make it a habit.

Allen has also said that "doing GTD" 95 percent of the time is much different than doing it 100 percent of the time. To really achieve stress free productivity, they say, you've got to put on your purple jump suit and drink the Cool Aid.

I first learned about GTD about a year ago, so I figure I'm due for some stress-free productivity early next year. I've been following the scheme in one half-assed way or another since that first seminar, but I wouldn't say I've really done GTD right.

The one problem I always had with it was that I felt like my next actions changed too rapidly to depend on a weekly review for updating my to do lists. I was always thinking of new things I needed to do, and constantly adjusting. When it came to weekly review time, I couldn't figure out what to do, so I would inevitably get distracted by a shiny object and wander away.

This week it finally dawned on me what I was missing. Uh, the whole "processing" part? Remember that? I must have been napping during that chapter. Instead of updating your to do list once a week, you're supposed to collect all those adjustments that come up during the day and process them into actions EVERY DAY. Duh.

Generally I would say I'm not an idiot, but I read the book and have been reading about GTD on various blogs for a year now, and this just dawned on me. All this time, I've had an in box, but I've never really used it to collect "my stuff" and transform it into actions.

This revelation has renewed my enthusiasm for GTD and I'm giving it another try. In the process I've realized that tracking my action items on index cards isn't going to cut it. To do GTD right, you have to get EVERYTHING onto your list and into your system, and the number of index cards that would require would be ridiculous. My hand would also probably fall off from writing so much.

So I've started using Remember the Milk, which is a wonderful Web site. I love the ability to tag my actions and make an unlimited number of lists. I still use my index cards to capture things that come up throughout the day. The difference is that I jot the information down and throw the card into my in box. At 4:30 p.m. every day, I go through that in box and break down my notes into concrete next steps. I'm starting to get it. We'll see how long I last.

Web 2.0 defined

This gives me chills. I'm a sucker.

Cleaning up the Credit Report

This weekend a fit of productivity came over me and I did something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I printed out my credit report from all three bureaus, Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax and cleaned those mofos up.

I found one address and one employer on there that were incorrect so I used the Web-based dispute process to get those deleted. Then I went through and identified all the extraneous credit cards that were still on there, including a Discover card that I hadn't used since 1993. I spent yesterday afternoon calling each card company and closing about six accounts.

Opinions seem to differ about whether it's bad for your credit to have lots of cards, but that wasn't really my primary concern. For one thing, I figured a bunch of unused credit cards floating around were a definite security risk. I don't even know where my Discover card is, so it would be easy for someone to get a hold of the number and start charging away without me noticing.

And then there's my recent vow not to use credit cards. Now that I've finished my account-closing exercise, I only have two cards. One is our joint card that we use for household expenses, and one is a Visa that I have tied to my Mobil Speedpass. It gives me a rebate on gas purchases, and is there in case of a dire car emergency.

Otherwise, I'm all about the debit card. I'll admit, these past couple of months have been rough, and there have been a few overdraft charges, but my savings account has definitely been depleted less by my wanton purchasing. Fortunately, I did my taxes and got a huge refund, so I adjusted my exemptions and should have a bit more money in the paycheck.

Aren't I virtuous?