Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Finding Your Calling

A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how." - Victor Frankl

I just got out of a presentation about Acton MBA. Acton is an entrepreneurship MBA program in Austin that is very different from other MBA programs. For one thing, it is just a year, which means they work you like crazy for that year. An Acton student works more then 100 hours per week on Acton work. (To compare, I am at Rice and I work about 20 - 25 hours a week on school, 10 in the class and about 10 - 15 on homework and studies.) You are not allowed to miss class, and class starts at 6 AM every day of the week. But they are good at what they do: teaching people to run businesses and find their calling.

An idea from the Acton presentation is that there are three things that you can do in your life:
  1. Get a Job - A job is something that you do to get money in order to go do what you want to do. It is sad that so many people spend their whole lives in jobs always watching the clock for time to go out and actually live their lives. A job is summarize in a song that I love to hate, Get Drunk and Be Somebody by Toby Keith:
    Well all week long I'm a real nobody, But I just punched out and its paycheck Friday, Weekends here, good God almighty, I'm going to get drunk and be somebody.
  2. Get a Career - It's a tiny bit better then a job. At least you are working towards something, right? Well, if you are climbing that ladder, working towards that big house and corner office, struggling up and up that Caterpillar pile, will you be happy when you get there? When is there? Jeff mentioned that a lot of the people who get to the top just want to go higher. And the people who almost make it, but can't quite get there usually get fired and have to go back to the bottom again. Now, who wants a career?
  3. Lastly, you can find a calling. And this is the Acton way.

The "Find Your Calling" thing intrigued me. Someone asked the presenter, who was Jeff Sandefer, one of the founders of Acton, about how someone would go about doing this. He gave a easy sounding 3 step process:
  1. Find what you are good at. - Ask everyone you know what they think that you are good at. You will have to probe, because people like to give superficial answers to this question, but if you probe enough people, you will begin to see a trend. And you will be surprised because it will probably be something that you find so easy that you think there must be plenty of other people that are good at it.
  2. Find what you love doing. - For this, he brought up the concept of flow. Think about things that you have done in the past year that you have completely lost track of time while doing. Things that you love doing just for the sake of doing. Doing those activities should bring you so much joy that it is no longer about competing with others or any other outside motivator that matters.
  3. Find a way that you can impact the world. - How can you take what you are good at and love doing and do something with them that impacts the world.
One of the projects that they make Acton students do is go out and interview 9 people, 3 from each age group 20-45, 45-60, beyond 60. He said that students find that people that are older then 60 will look back on their lives and say that only 2 things really matter:
  • Did I live a good and ethical life?
  • Did I impact the world in a meaningful way?
I had heard this before, but it really hits home, especially compared with my own personal philosophy about life. I must make a meaningful impact. I, as I always am, will be working towards answering these questions. That is really what life is all about. As the Dalai Lama puts it:
What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.


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Productivity and a low-tech To-Do List

The guys over at LifeHack posted a really good article about Granularity for Students which got me thinking about past ways that I have kept a To-Do list. When I was in High school, my task list was kept in a little spiral bound notebook much like this one except fatter: The system was simple. When I got a new task, say, to take LifeHack's example, writing a research paper, I would draw a line under my previous tasks (this was the signal that a new task was being written) and I would write down every little step that I had to complete that task. For our example, I would write:

  • pre-write on topic
  • narrow down topic using topic tree
  • write a preliminary thesis statement from topic (although, I'd prob actually write "prelim thesis")
  • do library catalog search
  • go to library and search those book's index for my topic
  • read what I found
  • Make a prelim outline with pg #s
  • gather quotes for each part of outline
  • write a rough draft of each part of the outline.
  • Reread each section for clarity.
  • Combine and work on transitions.
  • Sleep (I'll explain this one below)
  • read paper for clarity.
  • proofread for agreement
  • proofread for voice
  • proofread for punctuation errors.
  • Have friend read paper.
  • make final corrections
There are some steps that are vague because of lack of information. I can't very well write down that I need to read specific books sections when I don't yet have my topic. When I do get this information, I'd cross off the vague entry with a sort of zigzag line like /\/\/\/\/\ (straight meant completed, zigzag meant moved), go to the bottom of the whole list, draw a line and list out the detailed info.
Note about "Sleep":
I believe that it is a whole lot easier to proofread a paper, if you haven't seen the paper for 24 hours. I call this my sleep on it period.
This system led itself to easy daily use. In the morning (or the night before), I'd decide what I'd get done that day and I'd highlight those things. I'd work through the highlighted items through out the day and I'd cross them off as I completed them. At the end of the day, I'd look at highlighted items that I didn't complete and I'd make one of two decisions:
  1. Do them tomorrow - I'd just leave them highlighted.
  2. Postpone them for a later time (not tomorrow)- I'd zigzag cross them out and move them, unhighlighted, to the end of the list.
  3. Decide not to do them ever - just cross them off.
I'd also review the whole list every couple of days for stragglers that are left on old pages that had almost all tasks completed. I'd either decide not to do them, or move them to the end of the list. The pages that had only completed items got paper clipped together so they would be easy to bypass. The review process was much like the GTD review process.

All in all it was a great system and the only reason that I stopped using it is because I bought my first Mac and decided to try iCal and it's To-do list. But now that I am not taking my computer around so much, I may switch back to that old system. Good ol' Pen and Paper (and highlighter). Plus, there is probably a way to do something like this electronically too. :-D

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Kitlers - Cats that look like Hitler

This added a smile to my face:

Kitlers - Cats the Look like Hitler.

This is a whole website dedicated to cats that look like Hitler. You can post pictures of your Kitler and go through the posted ones and rate them. This cat is named Claude and is rated as the #2 most Hitler-like.

I just had to share this little smile bringer.

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What do I actually have to offer?

So, this weekend I joined, the social bookmarking site (add me if you would like ;-) ). I also posted my link feed in this blog (if you are reading this on my blogspot blog, look to the right --> ). This also got me motivated to get my google reader shared page feed on here as well. Doesn't those two additions make my blog look nice? I feel like a real blogger.

Anywho, this got me thinking about blogging in general. I like having a blog and having people read my blog, but I really don't have that much content to offer readers beyond my close friends. The rest of the world probably doesn't want to hear me rant about my problems. I do post some useful things (click the "useful" tag to the right --> ). But most of those things actually are not that unique in content.

They say post about things you like. Well that would make for a very varied tag list. I like such things as swing dancing, blogging, web design, life hacking, and a wide variety of other stuff. I also like collecting cool quotes and inspirational stuff (like my last note). But I am not an expert at any of that. I am a junior in college majoring in religion and cognitive science, so I could write about some of what I am learning, but who really wants to hear about Disjunctive Syllogisms and other random academic things (if I am wrong, please let me know).

I like non-profits and am working with a non-profit, but I don't really think I'd enjoy posting about things like that all of the time. Plus a lot of that info will be posted in the Marion's Ledge blog anyway.

I'd love to write about lifehacking ideas, but I am not really sure what I can personally offer beyond with 43 folders, LifeHacker, LifeHack, and LifeClever are offering. I'd also love to offer something like Life2.0, but I'd have to improve my writing ability. In the end, that is probably the best example of what I am looking to do.

Truthfully, the best thing that I have to offer is my worldview. I believe in a very optimistic, magical (in the happy sense and not the abracadabra sense), and wonderful world that we are all a connected part of. I believe that we are all on a creative creation of our lives, not stuck in something we can't control. I believe that it is okay to be sad as long as you never let yourself be unhappy. It's all alright.

I can get down and flustered at times, but in the end, as I am learning, it is all going to be okay. If I share my journey in this, maybe I can have something of value to give. As long as people don't mind an occational computer or dance post. Heck, that is part of me. That is part of my worldview.

Let the journey begin...

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Learners, Doers, Teachers

Here is a short an sweet thought provoker that I picked up over at Life2.0:

"Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive?"
- originally from a Robert Pirsig article.

As well as one of my favorite poems of all times from the book Illusions by Richard Bach:

Learning is finding out what you already know.
Doing is demonstrating that you know it.
Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you.
You are all learners, doers, teachers.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Aggies Beat UT. OH DISASTER!! ;-)

Disclaimer: If you are a UT football fan and will be upset if I say bad things about your beloved sport. Please don't read this entry.


I was in Austin this weekend, which happened to be the same weekend as the UT vs. A&M football game. Just in case you didn't see it, A&M won. UT lost.

I don't watch football, so I didn't actually see this game. But I did watch the news that night. The news in Austin had this football game as their top story. Top of the Hour. Not in the sports time. And what was the air of this broadcast? Disaster!! The news stations and people being interviewed were treating this as if it is the end of the world. Earth to people!!! It's a football game. It is a game!!! A GAME!!!! It is not the end of the world! The earth will keep rotating. There is next year. This is nothing to cry about. (ok, if you are one of the players, then maybe... but the fans?)

Football fans... How exactly does this impact you? Did you bet a huge sum of money on the game? No? Well then, stop crying. Period. It is just a game.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Thoughts on the break

So I just realized that I have 3 weeks until this semester is over. That is not that far away. This got me thinking about this break and some of the things that I want to do over the break. So I decided that I was going to create a list of a whole bunch of stuff that i want to get done.

  • Clean my apartment. And by this, I mean totally clean. It is so messy right now I don't really like it that much. I need to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff. I also need to set up a system so that it does not get messy again. This system needs to include a cloths rack and a papers bin. I have been toying with the idea of getting a bunk bed, which will clear up some room and will make my bed harder to get to.
  • Finish my new website design. I am really loving this idea that I have and I can't wait to share it with you. But this will take some time and effort to do.
  • Write my new years resolutions. I normally hate these, but I am going to do it a tad bit differently this year.
  • Write letters to a bunch of people. I have a bunch of these to write (see earlier post).
  • Get my computer organized. Actually, this should not take too much trouble, my system from summer is still pretty strong. But I do need to organize my mail and update my address book.
  • Work on Marion's Ledge stuff. This one is a given, but there is a bunch that I have been wanting to do but have been putting off because of school.
Ok, there is my list for now. I am sure that I will be adding some things to it.

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School Work Slump

I am at that point in the semester that i just want to cut my losses and slack. I have complete and uder faith in my ability to pass tests. That is something I am pretty good at. But I do need to study, and I really don't want to. But i am almost done.

I am getting over being sick. And that means that I still don't feel very well. I am thinking about just not going to school this week at all. ok, I am going to go today to a meeting and then to a tutorial. And I really need to force myself to go to Accounting tomorrow, but beyond that. I don't want to.

I have a test that i must do at some point soon. I have an extention on it, but don't quite understand the info. :-/ That is what this tutorial is about today. I really must make that.

But the end is near:

I have 2 more problem sets and then a final exam.
2 more tests. One of which is to be done ASAP, the other done like 2 weeks after thanksgiving.
The Final Test and the paper. As well as a bunch of problem sets (7).
Leadership Rice
Finish the Coffeehouse project and maybe put a powerpoint together for our presentations.
I have two more books to read. I better get reading. Plus a paper.

In conclusion:
Problem Sets: 9 official ones plus some ungraded logic ones.
Papers: 2
Exams: 4
Projects: 1

Actually, that doesn't sound that bad. I should try to do as much as I can over the break. Although I don't really want to do anything over the break.

I have an idea for a really cool website that is just making me go crazy wanting to work on it. My goal is to have it done and up by christmas. It is gonna be cool. :-)

I really need to get feeling better and start wanting to work again. This is crazy. Although I am really enjoying the taking it easy part. :-D

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Facing myself

I sometime don't like talking to people. No, not in the normal nice social sense, but in the "I have something hard to ask you or tell you" sense. I have never been very good at it. I have an idea as to why I am this way, but I wish I weren't this way. I can't say anything hard to anyone. I have managed it a couple times this year, but only to one person and after they pinned me down and let me cry for an hour until I finally spit it out. These things are really bothering me and I will feel better if I talk about them, but I am afraid to. What if things don't go as well as I would hope? What if the conversation changes things between us? So I just hold it all in.

I recently had an idea that may help with this. I am going to write a letter to everyone in my life that I have something hard to say to. There will be a bunch of letters. Ironically, the longest letters will be to the people in my life that I am closest to. I probably won't get around to this till around christmas, but if you are close to me, be on the lookout for a letter of complete honesty. And if these letters change things, well, I can only hope for the better.

And I may write some completely positive ones too.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Zune and Header

So, Have you heard of the newest laughing matter that just proves that Microsoft is an idiot? Yeah, that thing is Zune, their version of the ipod. The greatest thing that I have heard about it from a non-microsoft source is that is has potential.

Some of the Top reasons why Zune is funny:

  • You can't play any music on it bought from iTunes or any other legal digital music store. You can only play music from the Zune music store and music ripped off of CDs. So if you are a big digital music buyer, you will have to start your collection over.
  • It has the capability to play movies... but they are not selling movies to play on it. And you can't watch iTunes movies on it.
  • It's quite big. Although I guess so were the original iPods.
  • You can share music... but only for 3 plays or 3 days. Then you have to buy the song from the zune store.
  • And the funniest reason of all: It is incompatable with Vista, Microsofts newest operating system... um, they are working on that. (Tee HEE)
Anywho, We shall see what happens, but they have a long way to go in order to compete with iPod.
--- --- --- ---
In other news, I created this in Photoshop:

Cool isn't it?

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Egos are King

I got this story sent to be through an Ishmael readers Listserv. Thought I'd share:

The following conversation was overheard by an Abductee while on an Unrevealed Airborne Entity – a UAE, hovering over a large metropolitan area on a planet named Earth, in a solar system in a spiral galaxy, the Milky Way. From the conversation it was later deduced that the aliens were from the star system Xenon, it was their first visit to the planet Earth, and their first abduction.

The Advanced beings named Adamus and Evon were apparently speculating on what they observed, which was a rush hour over a city on the planet, and traffic conditions that were transpiring.

Evon – I see creatures whose exterior appears to be an exoskeleton (automobiles), moving in an orderly fashion on what seems to be path ways. There are thousands of them – they are moving in packs and waves that are synchronized in some manner.

Adamus – The exoskeletons are all different, brightly colored, various sizes, some conformity in shape, but still different. I wonder what it means.

Evon –I’m sure the exoskeletons are necessary; the internal beings seem to use them for moving longer distances only, and then shed them when they remain stationary, or move for short distances - how strange.

Adamus – Remember when we visited the star system Habitatus Inferior? The ego was regarded as the most important aspects of the psyche of those beings, and the beings there were given status based on their outward appearance.

Evon – Excitedly - I believe you’re right! An also on Habitatus Inferior, the larger, more brightly colored, and fancily bedecked were given a higher status in their society. We are seeing a similar situation here. Ego is king, and the exoskeletons (cars) are the outwardly manifestation of the ego. A large brightly colored exoskeleton would, under your theory, place the whole individual ensemble higher in the social order of this planetary system.

Adamus - Especially moving on those pathways, larger and more prominent vehicle beings (SUVs) would certainly have an advantage over lessor bedecked inhabitants. Earth is a truly amazing planet!

Written by a transplant from the star system “Xenon”

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

For the Love of Money

So... I have an accounting test tomorrow, so I have been spending the whole week learning about money. Currently, the business world baffels me. People work long hours just to make a little bit more money. Do you really need that 4 bedroom house for just one or two people. I guess you do if you have kids, but still.

Anywho, I like the idea of making money without working for it. This is what savings does. Yay interest!! I am currently making a nice $45 a year from my $1000 that is just sitting in my savings. And once I get my $5000 CD out of the grasps of my mother's selfish bank, I will be making $300 a year!! That is $25 a month! For doing nothing!! And I am not even risking anything like I would be if I invested in stocks or bonds or such things. And like a normal savings account, I can withdraw from it when I wish (although the # of withdraws are limited).

So, what is your bank giving you on your savings account??? (Yeah, that's what I thought.) :-p

My old bank was giving my 1.3% APY on my savings. That isn't worth anything. I now get 4.5% APY. The choice is clear. Switch to ING Direct.

Why is ING so giving? They save money by not having bank branchs on every street corner. You get money in your account by transfering it directly from your current checking account.

Want a peice of the dough AND AN EXTRA $25?
Send me an email (awhiteraven124 [at]] aim [[dot] com) and I will send you the referral link. Use that link to open an account with an initail deposit of at least $250, and ING will give you a $25 sign-up bonus. Now you can't beat that!!!

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