As you may know at least since my September post, I am often a procrastinator nowadays, and not too happy about it. The cause of that has largely been a mystery for me. I would take umbrage at anyone suggesting it was because of plain laziness — after all, as (I think) most human beings, I like being productive and useful and making a difference, and there are areas in my life (music for instance) where I do not procrastinate at all as a rule.
EnterThe Now Habit by Neil Fiore, which I came across by way of an MP3-music and audiobook web shop the other day. According to its subtitle, it's "A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play" and it seems to be just the thing I need. There is a summary with a very good, comprehensive mindmap on Litemind, and another good review on Life Optimizer.
I've been listening to about half the book so far and I'm about to read the book, which I've also bought. Apart from some parts being a bit long-winded (in the verbatim interpretation of "tell them what you're gonna tell them, tell them, tell them what you've told them" frequently encountered in American articles and books), I appreciate it very much. Thanks to Fiore's description, I've found myself able to recognise much of my procrastination as a response to anxiousness caused by my perfectionism. I've been aware of the latter for a very long time, but had not really drawn this very important connection between the two phenomena yet. Very helpful indeed. I'm starting to profit from the book also on the part of handling the issue. The two key ideas that are most present in my mind for now are these:
Stop worrying about the end of the project and how you don't know how to do everything needed on the way — start taking a little, perfectly managable step NOW (and so on).
Stop talking to yourself in terms of "I have to do this or that (although I don't want to)", that just fuels inner resentment against the task and causes procrastination of the second type (or the 1st in Fiore's order), which is "as an indirect way of resisting pressure from authorities" (the authority in this case being part of yourself). Consider the task and make a conscious choice, either wholeheartedly to commit to it — or not to tackle it and to bear the consequences. The words of Yoda in Star Wars come to mind: "Try not. Do, or do not — there is no try."
Finally, on a related website I found this saying, a wonderful antidote to my perfectionism:
"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first."
Ah, how I like the sound of a Repuglican smear-attack dog whining. Here, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs gives the Republican TV channel FOX News' journalist Sean Hannity a healthy dose of the Republicans' own medicine: When Hannity tries the latest Right-wing guilt-by-association smear on Gibbs, Gibbs counters by attacking Hannity for giving air time to a well-known anti-Semite a few days earlier, driving Hannity into the defense. See or read for yourself:
SEAN HANNITY: Why would you sit on a board -- would you sit on a board with a guy who bombed the Pentagon [William Ayers] and wasn't sorry about it?
ROBERT GIBBS: He sat on a charitable board and a board that funded by a conservative Republican and a friend of Ronald Reagan.
HANNITY: Was that poor judgment?
GIBBS: That was Walter Annenberg.
HANNITY: I didn't ask you -- was that poor judgment on Obama's part?
GIBBS: I don't think that was poor judgment at all. I think what Barack Obama has done throughout his career is talk about the big issues that are important to him --
HANNITY: All right, you're giving me spin now. I'm asking you --
GIBBS: Okay -- let me ask you one question.
HANNITY: All right. You ask me a question.
GIBBS: Okay. Are you anti-Semitic?
HANNITY: Not at all.
GIBBS: Okay. On your show on Sunday --
HANNITY: Uh-huh --
GIBBS: You -- the show that is named after you, right? The show with -- the centerpiece of that show was a guy named Andy Martin -- right?
HANNITY: No -- I know you're reading your talking points regarding --
GIBBS: No, no --
HANNITY: When I interviewed -- hang on one second. Let me answer your question.
GIBBS: No, no. I don't have talking points --
HANNITY: When I interviewed Malik Shabazz; when I interviewed Al Sharpton --
HANNITY: When I interviewed all of these controversial figures -- you see on Fox, we actually interview people of all points of view, whether we agree or disagree.
GIBBS: So --
HANNITY: I -- the statement you're about to read --
GIBBS: Yeah, Andy Martin --
HANNITY: I -- I totally, completely --
GIBBS: Called a judge a crooked, slimy Jew, who has a history of lying and theiving -- comments (unintelligible) --
HANNITY: Here's my answer to you --
GIBBS: Martin went on to write that he understood better why -- better why the Holocaust took place, given that Jews [sic] survivors are operating as a wolf pack (unintelligible) --
HANNITY: Here's my answer to you. I find those comments despicable. But wait a minute --
GIBBS: You put him on your show!
HANNITY: We put Malik Shabazz on the show --
GIBBS: It's the Hannity -- it's the Hannity show!
HANNITY: I put Khalid Muhammad on my show. I put --
GIBSS: Why am I not to believe that you're anti-Semitic?
HANNITY: Let me -- here's the answer --
GIBBS: Why am I not to believe that everyone who works for the network is anti-Semitic --
HANNITY: Here's the -- here's the --
GIBBS: Because Sean Hannity gave a platform to a man who thinks -- who thinks Jews are slimy?
HANNITY: Mr. Gibbs -- Mr. Gibbs -- Mr. Gibbs -- I's a journalist who interviews people that I disagree with all of the time, that give their opinion. Fox has all points of view. We're allowing you on the program, and I do not agree with hardly anything that Obama says.
GIBBS: (Laughs) Well --
HANNITY: So let me answer -- no, no, no --
GIBBS: How can you give a platform to virulent anti-Semites --
HANNITY: Here's -- I will tell you this --
GIBBS: who can't even get a law license in Illinois?
HANNITY: That I -- I'll make a deal with you. If Barack Obama admits that what he did by sitting on a board with -- giving speeches with -- having Ayers -- going over to Ayers' house --
GIBBS: You'll admit you're anti-Semitic?
HANNITY: No, no. I'll admit to you that -- I will tell you that Barack Obama wants to be president. It's poor judgment. It is irresponsible --
GIBBS: (Laughs) Well --
HANNITY: And it's reckless to -- no, let me finish -- to be friends with a guy that bombed our Pentagon, was at war with our country, whose motto was to kill our children and kill your parents.
GIBBS: Well, I think it's deplorable that you had some on TV that's anti-Semitic --
HANNITY: And it's deplorable that your candidate for president has not been honest with the American people.
GIBBS: That calls Jews slimy, and understands the Holocaust better because of the way he views --
HANNITY: I'm explaining --
COLMES: (unintelligible) We have a short time here --
HANNITY: Let me finish first. Let me finish (to Alan Colmes). I'm explaining to you --
GIBBS: I can't believe you would give a platform --
HANNITY: So you do not want to want me to interview anybody I agree, dis[agree] -- I can only -- I can only interview people you disagree with?
GIBBS: You put the whole show around him, Sean!
HANNITY: Barack Obama --
GIBBS: You had to believe only that you agree with each and everything that Andy Martin says.
HANNITY: Listen -- Barack Obama, the president [sic] sat in the pew of Jeremiah Wright for 20 years, a guy who hates America.
GIBBS: I think -- I think you're changing the subject -- will you do me a favor?
HANNITY: Barack Obama -- Barack Obama is friends with William [sic] Pfleger --
GIBBS: Will you do me a favor?
HANNITY: I have one last question.
HANNITY: Did Barack Obama ever sit and meet with Louis Farrakhan? Has he ever met with Louis Farrakhan?
GIBBS: I don't -- I don't know the answer to that.
HANNITY: Will you give us an answer by tomorrow?
GIBBS: Will you get back to me on whether you're anti-Semitic?
HANNITY: Ah, I'm not anti-Semitic. I am the biggest supporter of Israel.
HANNITY: Benjamin Netanyahu blurbed my book.
GIBBS: Let me tell you -- I don't think -- I don't think your Jewish viewers are going to take it very well when you had someone like that on your show.
HANNITY: Excuse me. Excuse me. I am the biggest supporter of Israel --
GIBBS: I think it's bad that you gave him a platform.
HANNITY: And I've got a 30 year history of -- on the record of it.
GIBBS: Well, ask them and their friends about what Andy Martin said. You used that guest --
HANNITY: And listen -- I am not friends with a guy that bombed the Pentagon. I'm not friends with a guy that bombed the Capitol --
GIBBS: Here, you take this (hands Hannity a card) -- take that.
COLMES: Well, let me jump in for a second, Robert.
HANNITY: Your candidate is friends with him, not me.
GIBBS: You're friends with someone who is a virulent anti-Semite. Ask someone -- ask Benjamin Netanyahu about that!
HANNITY: Your candidate is friends with a terrorist!
GIBBS: That's not true.
COLMES: Hey guys --
HANNITY: He sits on a board with a terrorist.
COLMES: Guys, stop it. First of all, he's not anti-Semitic.
HANNITY: Thank you very much.
GIBBS: Well, well --
COLMES: This game of guilt by association I disagree with, on all fronts. I will defend Sean against anti-Semitism, he's not anti-Semitic. But I also deplore this game of guilt by association.
COLMES: The people who've sat on this board were also republicans; on one of these boards there was the former president of North-Western University; Walter Annenberg was a Reagan ambassador who gave his money --
GIBBS: Friend of Ronald Reagan --
COLMES: So this game of guilt by association is ridiculous!
Energizer Bunny arrested -- charged with battery. A pessimist's blood type is always b-negative. Practice safe eating -- always use condiments. A Freudian slip: when you say one thing but mean your mother. Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death. I used to work in a blanket factory, but it folded. If electricity comes from electrons does that mean that morality comes from morons? A hangover: the wrath of grapes. Corduroy pillows: are making headlines. A book on voyeurism: a peeping tome? Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play. Banning the bra: was a big flop. Sea captains: don't like crew cuts. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? Successful diet: the triumph of mind over platter. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. A gossip: someone with a great sense of rumor. Without geometry: life is pointless. When you dream in color: it's a pigment of your imagination. Condoms: should be used on every conceivable occasion. Reading whilst sunbathing makes you: well-red. When two egotists meet: it's an I for an I. Alarms: What an octopus is. Crick: The sound that a Japanese camera makes. Dockyard: A physician's garden. Incongruous: Where bills are passed. Khakis: What you need to start the car in Boston. Oboe: An English tramp. Pasteurize: Too far to see. Propaganda: A gentlemanly goose. Toboggan: Why we go to an auction. and finally, Marriage: the mourning after the knot before.
IT-användningen i världen påverkar klimatet nästan lika mycket som flygindustrin, det visar en ny rapport som Håkan Nordin, TCO development tagit fram. Vi har också besökt kontorsarbetare som förklarar varför de inte stänger av datorn när dom går på lunch eller möte."
Executive summary: PCs may at first seem inconspicuous from an ecological point of view, but there are so terribly many of them so their energy consumption (which makes up 70% of the problem) is enormous in sum. According to some calculations, the climate impact of the world's IT use is nearly as large as that of air traffic!
In a new report by TCO Development, whose main author Håkan Nordin was interviewed in Swedish public radio this morning, a typical office computer spends as much as two months per year running in spite of not being used (while the human is having lunch, in meetings etc.).
A few tips for office users:
Quite a lot of people obviously still believe that a screen saver saves energy. Sorry, that is complete nonsense: the computer is still running, as is the monitor, so they happily consume energy!
Find and activate the energy-saving settings of your computer (most computers in question run Windows, and Windows positively has these settings)!
Overcome your laziness... Do press the power switch on your monitor if you go away! Modern LCD displays take no longer than 1, 2 seconds to come on again once you are back.
For home users hunting for a new PC, Håkan Nordin recommends to pester the sellers with questions about the efficiency of the different models. A system with cheap, inefficient components may use up to 8 times as much energy as an equivalent efficient one!!
Also noteworthy: Another considerable part of the global IT consumption stems from the data centres feeding the internet.
As an engineer I feel particularly proud to be a European these days, seeing as our space agency, the ESA, has accomplished and is accomplishing an impressive feat with the launch of Jules Verne, the first of a series of ATVs (Automated Transfer Vehicles) -- space "trucks" bound for the International Space Station ISS -- and its preparations for rendezvous with the ISS, which is to occur come Thursday. It is heartening to see how flawlessly nearly everything has gone for the mission so far!
Last Tuesday, Barack Obama, the leading candidate in the Democrats' primaries for this year's US presidential election, gave a speech in Philadelphia, "A More Perfect Union", in which he took a critical stand on a questionable sermon of the former minister of his Chicago congregation, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I really think the speech is a noteworthy example of some of Obama's "philosophy" and even more than that, of his ability to express himself, both his rhethoric and eloquence, so I warmly recommend you to read and/or watch at least a part of it (you may not have enough patience for all of the 37 minutes) if you haven't done so yet! What a joy it would be to have this man as the next US President, after the incumbent blundering, if and when not criminal, babbling baboon!! Here's crossing my fingers...
I read this the other day and found it very apt: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. That is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them.” – Henry David Thoreau Maybe it's a bit too verbose really to fit Miguel de Cervantes' observation: “An aphorism is a short sentence based on long experience”, but that doesn't lessen its value as food for thought. There is nothing wrong with dreaming, as long as you don't stop at dreaming but strive to make the dreams come true -- that's what I've made out of it. Any more ideas?
As I was planning to start this blog I spent some thought on which language to write in. Since I don't feel keen on awkwardly writing everything thrice (for my German-speaking, Swedish-speaking, and international readers), what I have now decided upon is to take lingua franca English as the default (what surprise!), but to liberally post, quote, or link to stuff in either language if the subject is mostly interesting for the speakers of that language anyway. Hope that suits you all fine! Other than that, the task for this post was mostly to overcome the barrier expressed in the first words: the harrowing experience of sitting in front of a blank sheet (or screen in this case) and not knowing what to write simply because I have not written anything on it yet! Seems I have succeeded in that... so from now on you may expect to find new entries of mine here on a loosely regular basis. As noteworthy events come and go. Cheers! /Sebastian