Why I Like Email

Some people hate email.

I love it.

It’s one of the best possible means of communication invented, as far as I’m concerned. And my reasons are very, very simple.

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Every Day is Boxing Day

There are no liberals. There are no conservatives.

There are only people.

Whe brought this to mind was this story of recent days: “GOP candidate charged after allegedly ‘body slamming’ reporter“, or more correctly the republican candidate’s response that included the phrase: “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene …”.

Whether not the journalist created the scene is debatable. But what struck me was the need to call him out as a “liberal” journalist.

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My parents spent World War II in Nazi-occupied Holland.

As you can imagine, I heard several stories of that time. My sense, though, is that I did not hear all the stories. The stories I heard were of successes, things that worked, hiding from the Germans, and some of the tricks my parents and grandparents used to work around some of the shortages, or prohibitions, of the time.

There’s one story, of which I certainly only have fragments, that almost always comes to mind when I think about them during that time.

The time my dad and his brother escaped from a Nazi prison camp.

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Going Meta

My attempt at a daily writing exercise is only one part of my overall approach to honing my skills.

Another exercise that I’ve adopted for some time now is about idea generation. I’ve now read about variations on this technique in several places, and have adopted my own variation.

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Splitting the Bill

It’s a scenario I see repeated often: a group of people go to a restaurant to share a meal. At the end of the meal the bill comes and all chaos ensues. Relatively intelligent people become failures at basic math. Friends become adversaries. “Fairness” becomes a thing that’s hotly contested.

Let’s just say it’s one of my pet peeves. I tend to sit quietly by and roll with the punches, but still … it often frustrates me.

Sometimes I wish that people could let go of their egos long enough not to end a meal on a sour note.

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Surprise! It Worked!

If you’ve used technology for any length of time you’re probably already acquainted with the cool things that are possible, and the new frontiers it can open for us all.

You’re probably also familiar with the excitement you feel when something works.

My take is that a) the excitement is real, b) it’s somewhat misplaced, though c) it’s also somewhat of a sad reflection on the state of our technology.

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Understanding – Who’s Job Is It?

At one point while at Microsoft I had an employee who had some interesting notions about communication. He was a smart guy, passionate about his work and the quality thereof, but when it came to getting his ideas across — particularly his opinions — things fell a little short.

I challenged him, to which he responded with words to the effect of “if I know that I’ve stated what I mean clearly then it’s not my fault if someone doesn’t understand me”.


Wrong, wrong, wrong. So wrong.

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Roadside Service

All in all it was a pleasant way to do nothing.

I was sitting on a guardrail along the Seward highway a couple of miles outside of Girdwood, Alaska. The sun was out and felt warm on my face, the view was amazing, and I found myself taking a few moments just to let it all soak in. The only real downside was roar of the traffic flying by a few feet in front of me, and the fact that many of them weren’t really slowing down to avoid the U-Haul truck with a flat tire on the narrow shoulder.

The U-Haul that I was baby-sitting.

For me the day had also started out as eventfully.

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Everything is Recycled

Ideas are only the combination of things which already exist.
– Todd Brison, The Creative’s Curse

I don’t remember why the thought struck me, but I realized the other day that absolutely everything is recycled.

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Being Early

I’ll arrive at the airport today about three hours before my flight.

Yes, I err on the early side, much to the occasional frustration of my wife.

In this case, however, two hours are the traditional “arrive early” instructions from the airlines, which I simply incorporate into my travel routine. The additional hour? That’s best classified as “risk management”.

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It’s The People They Represent

We tend to throw a lot of blame at our elected officials when they take action contrary to our values. It’s often with a “how can they possibly support X”, where “X” is the incendiary topic of the day. (And there have been a lot of incendiary topics of late.)

Here’s the problem: if the system is working even half-assed the way it’s supposed to, it may not be their fault.

They’re just doing their jobs.

Exactly as the system encourages.

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Breaking the Chain

If you read any self-improvement, time management. or productivity literature in recent years you’re likely to come across the Jerry Seinfeld story.

I was thinking about it just yesterday, and lo and behold, it pops up in The Daily Stoic as today’s entry.

Once again it seems that the universe is trying to tell me something.

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Getting Search Terms at the Hardware Store

I went to the hardware store earlier today looking for something. It wasn’t something specific — more like an idea I had for which I was looking for a solution. The solution could come from just about any department, but I’d know it when I saw it.

I didn’t see it.

But what I did see was something that sparked an idea.

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