Great day! It finally connected that we’ll be in Victoria BC while the FIFA U-20 World Cup is underway. I got online and am now the proud owner of 4 tickets to the July 7 matches. We’ll get to see Uruguay vs. Zambia and Japan vs. Nigeria. Should be great fun.

It’s very unlikely that we’ll be going to the 2010 Olympics so this is the closest thing to a world class sporting event I’ll get to see. I’m very excited.

GTD Podcast Wrapup

Some final cool tidbits from the 43folders podcast with David Allen:

-On committing to your organization process: either your head is your organization system, or it’s not. David obviously recommends against using your head, but if you’re going to start getting things out of your head, you’ve got to get everything out. As soon as you track two items in your head you’ll distrust your other system.

– Merlin Mann likes using the phrase ‘Ninja Moves’ for really cool techniques. I like that.

– organization is like training kids and dogs: use as few rules as possible but never break them. HUGE head nods after everything we’ve done training Buddy Dog.

– if you can’t do it [organize] with paper, you can’t do it with ‘e’. You’re going to get paper, and you’re going to get emails. if you can’t deal with both you’re in trouble.

– one crazy, step back from the ledge thought: what if I set up my email / blackberry to only push emails every two hours? Would I get more done? *whew* I need to sit down….

The Problem of Anonymity

My airplane reading this for this trip is a book I’ve wanted to read for a few months now: Small is the New Big by Seth Godin. It’s a collection of ‘the best’ of his blog posts over the past 3-4 years. While I spend a lot of time reading online I still appreciate holding some paper in my hands.

He riffs on the troubles associated with anonymity on the internet. Seth’s against it. Says it causes a ton of problems, not least of which are spam, flame wars, trolls and general bitchiness. My favorite line:”anonymity is the enemy of civility.”

You know, I completely agree. When I started this blog I thought about writing under a pseudonym or leaving my blog completely anonymous. But within a week of my first post I read two blogs by people I know in Regina and i was appalled by how cranky the blogs were. Not really the tone [not my style, but that’s OK], but more that they didn’t have the guts to put their name behind what they were writing.

My question: who do you respect/admire more, someone who anonymously puts up a web page criticizing local government, or some kids who recorded a song criticizing local government [click ‘ode to Pasquala’] and perform it live on stage all over the city no matter who attends?

Happy February!

I for one am glad that January is over. Nothing but cold and snow with some hockey thrown into break the tedium.

I’ve been a little behind in my posting on this blog since I’ve been getting an internal company blog going at work. I can’t link to it since it’s, well, internal. Sorry. I still think that it’s better in the long run to blog outside the firewall but we’ll start in small steps.

Am I Fiscally Conservative? Do I Want to Be?

In Left or Right? « Touamoto Sakimata-Smith my buddy Greg talked about being ‘fiscally conservative’ and it got my blood flowing a bit — brought back an earlier conversation I had with my city councilor.

I’ve had a problem with the term ‘fiscally conservative’ for a while now, because I see it as having mixed meanings.

I think I’m ‘fiscally conservative’ with my own money because I don’t do into debt for things (pay cash whenever I can, pay down the mortgage ASAP, do without if I don’t have the money.) I also don’t own any penny stocks or precious metal funds.

But insofar as public policy, I believe that we’re better off as a society if there is a strong ‘Common Good’. I believe that there is value in public services far beyond the cost of them. Because of that I’ve been a strong advocate for public libraries, public education and city services.

I don’t subscribe to the opinion that all taxes are evil by definition and that we should cut every public service possible in order to keep taxes down. I want to make sure my governments are managing our shared pool of money well, but I WANT to pay taxes and I WANT my taxes to go toward strong public services. So I’m much more concerned about getting the most common ‘bang’ for my tax buck than paying fewer tax bucks.

I also don’t have a problem paying more taxes than someone who lives in a smaller house or makes less money. If I have ‘more’, I don’t have trouble paying more.

Can I still call myself fiscally conservative? Has the term been co-opted to imply ‘I Hate Taxes’ or am I using the term incorrectly?

Motivated to Innovate

I’ve been reading a lot of Seth Godin’s stuff these days. LOTS — books, e-books, blog posts and anything else I can find. He’s not only a breath of fresh air but he’s helped me look at the work I’ve been doing in a new way.

How’s that? Well, in Free Prize Inside he talks about how white collar workers have been living a lie for a while now. Our ability to innovate (i.e. our ideas and creativity) are the only reason we’re worth our salaries, especially considering all the people who would be willing to do our jobs for the same or less money. So do we innovate like crazy? Generally, no. Instead we want processes, rules, and detailed instructions about how to do our jobs — those things which make us closer to an assembly line worker (skilled, yes, but also easily replaceable.)

I never used to be one to use “the rules” as a crutch to protect the status quo, but lately I’ve slipped into the easy trap of “going with the flow.” It rings hollow inside.

Normally I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but this year I have one. I’m going to re-focus on creativity and innovation — in gaining new customers and building better business partnerships. I’m going champion my own ideas and those of my colleagues. I’m not going to stop the first time I get told ‘no’ or get told it’s ‘outside the policy.’

And I’m going to do it only because it’s fun and personally fulfilling. I know up front that, outside of leaving the company, I won’t get paid more, get a promotion or even get a better chair. What I will get is another fun, fulfilling project. Or fired. At this point, either result is better than status quo.

Van in the Snow

Back in 1993 we decided that our new minivan was going to last us a long time. We didn’t want to be strapped with perpetual payments (no matter how “easy” and “monthly” and the decision was consistent with our frugal values.

At the time, we didn’t know what a ‘long time’ looked like. Some vague time past 10 years for sure, but we were foggy about the details. We’re now a couple months away from Van’s 14th birthday and it might be getting close to end of life.

Van hasn’t been blowing heat (in the winter anyway) for a few years now and a couple years ago started the annoying habit of throwing off the serpentine belt whenever it goes through more than four inches of snow. This week the temperatures dropped below -30C and it snowed a lot. Instant icy insides and the belts come off twice already.

Van’s now at the repair shop. We’ll learn tomorrow if it will be pulled off life support.

Oven in the Snow

It’s snowing for about the fifth day in a row now and as I look out the dining room window at the brick oven I can help but wonder what effect all that snow has on the brickwork. I didn’t get a chimney cap installed (or designed) in time so there’s about 4 inches of snow on top of the chimney and inside too. My wood pile is buried too so the wood certainly isn’t seasoning the way I’d like. I think the best approach is to split it as small as I can manage and store it under the oven till spring. At least it’ll stay dry that way.