Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
In accordance with the advice of some of the most well-respected authorities on effectiveness and efficiency, I don't multi-task.
Neither do I single task particularly well.
Rather, I tend to ping from task to task like riccochet rabbit, hitting a lick here and a lick there as first one thing and then another captures or forces its way into the center of my attention. Somehow, in the chaos of bouncing from task to task like a ping-pong ball in a clothes dryer, work gets done. Somehow, in the midst of the interuptions, thoughts get put on paper. Somehow, the analysis get completed and the report gets produced. Somehow.
At the end of the day, I feel like I've spent much of my time spinning my wheels, and I am exhausted.
I am capable of single tasking. If a task is compelling enough, I have been known to pursue it to the exclusion of all else. But such compelling tasks are few and far between, and all tasks, compelling or not, require dedicated time and effort to bring to completion.
Keeping current project and action lists and attempting to order my efforts by those lists helps, but not always.
Closing my door helps, but again not always.
Attempting to keep my desk clear of all except that on which I'm working also helps and I'm getting better at it.
I'm working on improving my focus, but focus is fragile. I can disconnect from the internet, but can't ignore the person who knocks on the door to ask "Did you get my email?" and then proceeds to spend the next fifteen minutes explaining something for which no immediate action is needed. By the time the subject is sufficiently dealt with, time has passed, focus is gone, and starting over is the only option.
Is there any solution short of mayhem?
Maybe I could seal my door with crime-scene tape. Maybe the answer is to pack up my laptop and files, occupy a table in a corner of the cafeteria or an unoccupied office, and bang out whatever is needed.
If anyone asks, I'm not available. I'm hiding out, single tasking, being productive.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Again, there was a war, and it was a war of such global extent as to be termed a world war. New weapons and tactics provided new means of inflicting punishment. Ironically, this war was ended by the use of a weapon of such unspeakable horror that it has not been used since. In this war, there was no doubt who won and who lost, of who were the victors and who were the vanquished. Afterward, the victors assisted the vanquished to reconstruct so that these former enemies are now among our staunchest allies.
But again, within five years, there was a war. Not a declared war but a police action in the land of the frozen Choisan. Men endured almost unendurable conditions. Men suffered. Men died. And the war was ended by a negotiated armistice. War continues to threaten while peace negotiations continue to this day almost sixty years later.
Once again, there was a war, and this one was my war. Maybe it wasn't much of a war, but the mud, the blood, the pain, and the sacrifice were as real as in any other. The troops in the field did their jobs but the politicians back home lacked the backbone to win. We were winning when they negotiated away what we and our allies had won and sent us home from where we watched our legislators abrogate treaty obligations to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
There have been two wars since then. The first was conventional. Ended by negotiation short of absolute victory, the terms of peace virtually ensured that the another war would be necessary, as it was. So, once again, we are at war, and this time it is not a war among nation states, but against shadowy organizations loyal not to any nation but to a religious ideology. Conventional strategies and tactics are of only marginal value in a fight where the primary weapon is the improvised explosive device and the primary objective is to sow destruction and reap terror among non combatants.
In this war, there can be no negotiated peace. How does one negotiate with an implacable enemy whose only desire is to see us dead? In this war, victory will come to the one who is best able to endure, and endure we must, lest we cease to be a nation. Have we the backbone to do what needs to be done and to keep doing it for however long it takes?
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
My rage is born of passion and I am passionate about only a few things.
I am passionate in my love of this, my country, which I have served, for which I have killed, and for which I've bled and nearly been killed myself. I carry in my body scars that are the results of that passion. I always will. Whatever else, I am a soldier and will always remain so. A great evil has been and is being done to my country.
Should I not be angry? Should I not as a soldier and a citizen be resolved that this evil shall not triumph?
I am passionate in my devotion to my family, for whom I would give my life and possessions, and for whose welfare I labor daily.
Should I not be angry at any and all who seek to enslave them? Should I not be resolved to oppose all who seek such slavery with my every waking breath?
And I am passionate in my desire that evil shall not triumph. In my church, when we recite the creed that states, in part "We are called to be the church ... to seek justice and resist evil," I passionately believe in the meaning every one of those words.
Should I not be angry when I experience a great evil? Should I not be resolved that it never be allowed again?
My good friend Lash pointed out in an email earlier this week, that, in the end, my rage is less about anger and more about resolve. In his words "It would have been easy to roll over and accept our earlier great Satan's: the NAZI's, or military rule by the Japanese, or domination by the Soviet Union's Communism; but we did not take the easy way out. We didn't just give in or give up in order to avoid war and deaths. We were even willing to use our ultimate weapon to end WW-II!! Then we helped those enemies recover. Those enemies are now some of our closest allies... Also, "ISLAM" needs to be 'Judged' by free people everywhere! If 'they' (the majority of Muslims) can't see the difference between murder, freedom, individual rights, respect for other religious beliefs, then they need to be judged and dealt with harshly; just like the other Great Satan's."
We must maintain our resolve, if not our anger, and never forget and NEVER LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN"
Thursday, September 9, 2010
“Dies illa, Dies irae, Calamitatis et miseriae” (That day, day of wrath, calamity and suffering...) Gabriel Faure, Requiem.
This morning, I raised the American flag over my small suburban lot and said a prayer of remembrance. It is 9/11. It is time to remember, and in my memory, September 11, 2001 remains as vivid as yesterday.On that day, I was at work in the Pentagon. At 9:38 am, I was less than 200 feet from where the right engine of American Airlines Flight 77 tore through C ring before coming to rest against the wall across A-E drive. I smelled the smoke. I saw the fire. I stepped over debris as I exited the building. Outside, I watched as the victims were cared for.
When I learned that what I had experienced was the result of a deliberate act, I was enraged. I remain so. I am enraged that my country was attacked in the name of 'a religion of peace'. Neither terror nor mass murder can ever be part of any rational definition of peace, nor can they ever.
I am enraged.
I am enraged that it took less than six weeks for our elected representatives to start speaking of compromise and negotiation rather than retaliation against those whose sole objective is to obliterate us as a nation. We negotiate. We compromise. We appease. We accommodate. They want to kill us.
I am enraged!
I am enraged that no one in the Islamic world has come forward to condemn these acts of murder for what they are. It's been nine years.
I am enraged!
I am enraged that so many of our priests, ministers, and bishops have joined our pettifogging Congress in blaming us, the victims, for this unprovoked attack. Pale comfort, that.
I am enraged!
I am enraged that even today, we are letting ourselves to be bullied into building a shrine to the religion whose teachings led to the despicable acts of 9/11 at the site of one of those attacks.I am enraged!
And I am enraged that we cringe so much in fear of the Islamic world that we refuse to advance our rights as a free people living in a free nation. Giving in to bullying is the moral equivalent of “paying protection” in Chicago and only benefits the bullies.
I am enraged.
Everything I ever needed to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11 in the Pentagon. Nothing since then has changed my mind.
And I am enraged!
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
I realise that the notice is probably a legal requirement meant as a warning to those with nut allergies, but really, is there any other way?
Did this warning, so carefully worded and prominently placed on the wrapper, really transmit any new information?
The package was labelled "Peanuts". Is it really to possible to obtain a package of salted peanuts that are not produced in a facility that processes peanuts? Or is the American public so dense as to not realise that peanuts are and indeed must be processed in a facility "that processes peanuts"?
Is the company so frightened of potential litigation that they feel obligated to post a a content-free warning on their product? Did some judge actually decide that peanuts were such a danger to the public that all foods processed in facilities that process peanuts and other nuts, including peanuts, must be so labelled?
Why not rather assume that when we open a package of peanuts or other nuts it comes from a facility in which such things are processed and leave it at that. Please, save us from any more content free warnings, and leave us free to enjoy our peanuts as we see fit.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Has it really been more than half a century since I first experienced the summer in images so real that even today they rush to my memory with all of the freshness and power of current impressions?
“Yes,” my soul tells me. “It has.”
Has it really been over 45 years since I first saw a girl in a green dress and fell tail over teacups in love? Has it really been that long since our first date and all of our subsequent dates, since movies and prom nights and football games and Sunday afternoons when our chief joy was being with each other?
“Yes,” my soul tells me. “It has.”
And has it really been 43 years since that same girl, dressed in white this time, walked down the aisle and joined her hand and life to mine? We were two kids with huge dreams and absolutely no idea what they were getting into, and none of that really mattered. For better or worse, we were together.
And has it really been nearly forty years since our eldest made his appearance, and thirty since our youngest? And have we really lived at our current address for over 25 years? It’s just not possible.
And are there now kids that call me “Grand Dad”?
“Yes,” my soul tells me. “It is so.”
Good times, fun times, challenging times, and even trying times, all long past, but at the same time still fresh and new, continuing in memory.
Someone once wrote that we are all products of our pasts and I am no exception. My past was very good but I am constrained to live in the present.
Here, in the present, at the juncture of past and future, it is my job every day to wrest from each moment every ounce of flavor that life has to offer. For it is the moments of the now that will make up all of the fond memories of the future.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I've watched him spread the paper on a dusty tractor tire to record the number of a needed part. I've seen him spread it out on a wagon bed or the hood of the pickup to calculate how much additional fertilizer or how many plants were needed to prepare or plant out a field. And I've seen him support the paper against a wall or even on his knee to write down some item for future action. Once the needed information was recorded, the pencil went back into the correct pocket and the paper was again folded carefully and returned to the wallet from whence it came.
Dad pretty much ran his farm by writing things down. In the evening, he would look over what he had written during the day as he considered and recorded what he needed to do or think about tomorrow, the next day, the next week, or the next time he went to town.
From my Dad, I learned the wisdom of always carrying something to write with and something to write on. In fact, woe be unto me if Dad ever asked me to write something down and I was found without the necessary equipment. As a result, writing things down became and remains a fairly consistent habit.
As my circumstances changed, I graduated from writing things on the backs of used envelopes with stubby pencils to writing in bound notebooks with some pretty fancy pens, but the principles remain as my father taught me. "Write it down. Get it on paper. Deal with it later".
Amazingly, the act of writing helps me remember what I've written. And, although I review and deal with my notes after I have written them, I'm don't really write them to remember later so much as to remember now!
Long before David Allen documented and popularized how to get things done, my Dad was using his stubby pencil and neatly folded used envelope to apply the Getting Things Done principles. A wise man, my Dad. Makes me proud to be a chip off the old block.
How do your record things you need to remember later?