Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Steal This Post

A strange thing happened a few days after I read Problogger's post about people stealing content from his site. I was doing a random test search on del.icio.us on my post, 4 ways to more romance. The search came up with another post titled, "4 ways to more romance, at least works for me". This guy in New Zealand lifted my post completely, changed my list from 1-4 to A-D, dollar to NZ$, and slapped it on his blog with no mention of me, my post or my blog.

What I did
  1. Got all worked up
  2. Re-read Darren's Problogger post (great comments and advice on his thread)
  3. Slapped on a Copyscape banner on my blog. They have free search engine and banners.
  4. Emailed the guy and asked him to remove my post from his site
This happened on a Friday, and he was gracious enoughto remove it without actually admitting any guilt by Sunday night. But his comments, which are littered with typos and incorrect grammar, are proof enough: no way the person writing those comments could have written my post.

On the bright side: at least it was good enough to steal, says my wife.

P.S.: Thank you Ethan Mawyer for coming to my defense.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dabbling in Mid-Life Crisis

"Those who can, do. Those who can't teach. Those who can't teach, teach PE." - anon.

"Those who have lives, live. Those who don't, blog." - jldude.

"I hate quotations. Just tell me what you know" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The big 40 birthday is fast approaching, so now might be time to take stock. Do a little navel gazing. Or should I skip all that and go straight to Mid-Life Crisis Sports Car? The last few years I'm come to think of myselft as a dilettante, a dabbler, a jack of all trades, master of none, a jumper on of bandwagons Hot and New, a tryer of many things and failer at them all.

As a young lad I wanted to be two things: 1. a writer. 2. Rich. In college I majored in English Literature and sold drugs to support my reading habit. I enrolled in a Masters Program for Creative Writing. I dropped out after one semester. I trained to be a journalist. Got bored.

Went to Japan to teach English (two years). Went to Hong Kong, ended up in journalism. Planned on staying a year, left after six.

I discovered a talent for landing dead-end jobs, some paying quite well, some not. They all led, sooner or later, to a state of discontent. Here then are some of the bandwagons I've hopped on and off:

Bandwagon 1: screenwriting/filmmaking. Robert Rodriguez and Tarentino hit the Big Time. I wanted in. I couldn't afford film school, so I wrote a screenplay, made my own short, submitted to film festivals. Nothing.

Bandwagon 2: Internet companies hit the Big Time. People were getting rich. I wanted in. I invested in tech. Lost my shirt.

Bandwagon 3: Poker. I'm good. But apparently not good enough.

Bandwagon 4: Real Estate. I bought a house. I'm a landlord.

Bandwagon 5: Blogging for meaning and money.

Even in my arts and crafts projects, I jump from medium to medium, from Photoshop to origami to bookmaking to woodworks.

To be fair and charitable to myself, lately I've been thinking, maybe I'm really well-rounded, perhaps even a rensaissance man, a polypath. A seize-the-day and opportunity kind of guy. Yeah, right.

I've been thinking alot about the whole Calling vs. Occupation, Passion vs. Profits debates. Trying to discover what my purpose in life, where's the meaning, trying to find what I really love so I can do that. And make some money, too.

To paraphrase Dostoevsky, if you place a ladder in front of a man, he will climb it. Today he would say if you set a man at the starting line of a rat race, he's gonna stretch before he gonna runs like hell to win. At the risk of mixing my metaphors (mixing metaphors being an occupational hazard of the dilettante), I have been climbing one Dostoevsky ladder after another. Or I've just been ticking off Society's Big Checklist:
  • College, check
  • Love and marriage, check check
  • House, check
  • Money (working on it)
I don't have any answers. I'm pretty sure I don't even have all the questions. I am seeking, fumbling and dabbling toward something, like meaning. Failing that, Death. But isn't this how a mid-crisis begins? Or am I merely jumping on Bandwagon #6? Or is it really as the wise and mocking Huey Lewis said, "This is it."

I do know this much. I'm doing a terrible job of this mid-life crisis. Here's some things I need to stop doing:
  1. Think too much about it.
  2. Read Dostoevsky.
  3. Blog about it.
  4. Listen to Huey Lewis.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Daddy! Who Me?

5:11am. I watched my little girl sleeping, caught a smile sail across her face as she dreamed. It lasted just a moment. It stays with me much longer.

After two years, I still feel like a new Dad. Still can't believe my ears as this little precious creature/person shouts, "Daddy!" Who me?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Confessions of a GTD, Productivity Addict

Look, I know. I have a problem. It all started with personal development guru Steve Pavlina. He got me inspired, motivated. I wanted to grow, change, improve. Now. I wanted my own blog, too. So I blame him for the following:

  • My blog
  • my trying "to live consciously"
  • my trying to be nicer to people, handling difficult people better
  • Lucid dreaming
  • Watching less TV
What's wrong with all that, you ask? Well, that was just the beginning. His blog led me to other personal growth/development blogs (not as good, by the way). And once I had this blog, I wanted to improve it. I started reading Problogger.

GTD/Productivity. Then I stumbled on to GTD. Whoa! What is this? I was Alice in Productivity Wonderland. GTD!? It was a productivity cult, with their off-shoots (Life Hackers), that are obsessed with Getting Things Done. Not so much multi-tasking, but more about doing things cleaner (esthetically), quicker, cheaper. Topics inlcude:
  • Clutter-free computer desktop/best background for your laptop
  • Organizing your folders
  • How not to check your email
  • Setting/achieving goals
  • Boosting your energy
But it took me half the day to figure out what it stood for. Getting Things Done. Not exactly the most productive way to spend my day.

"A hack, in software circles, is a quickly written short piece of code that makes something work. It may not be beautiful to look at, but it makes things function." -- Ari Lukumies from The Hackers FAQ by Peter Seebs.

Life Hackers. They expanded the definition to include all of, well, Life. They sub-divided themselves into Parenting Hackers, too. From the Life Hacker apostles, I learned:
I'm so productive I have more time to:
  • constantly check my Technorati ranking or how little I've made today with Adsense
  • check out more GTD sites
There is so much out there, so many hacks to try and learn. So, so little time. I can't help it. I CAN'T STOP IMPROVING MYSELF. Help! Please intervene. Help me stay away from this blogroll feeding my addiction:
Help, help.

Monday, August 21, 2006

3 Cool Photoshop Projects for New Dads

As a new Dad, you're going to be taking a lot of pictures. You could play around with Photoshop's filters and effects. I did that but I found them unsatisfying because:
  • too easy, too quick.
  • anyone can do it, and they can see how you did it. So it's not very impressive.
  • maybe because so little effort is involved, there is a lack of heart or soul in the final image.
The following three projects will take a little time and effort (not a alot). And they are not too difficult. So if you're ready to turn your ordinary photos into eye-poppin' works of art, follow me.

1. Turn your picture into a comic.

Where I got the idea: There is a software app, Comic Life (for Mac only, I believe), that does it for you. But I used a free tutorial, I found here. It took a couple of tries to follow all the instructions. You can see the result above: a comic postcard of my daughter, lounging on the couch, watching Sesame Street on TV.

2. Composites

There is that Michael Keaton movie, Multipicity, where he clones himself many times. You're going to do the same, except in 2-D computer screen.

Where I Got the Idea: On Flickr, Donald Andrew Agarrat's Composites 2004, first inspired me to do my own. He gave a very basic tutorial (use tripod, layer mask, small brush tool for details), which was enough for me. There's even a whole Flickr group just on Composites (that also has cool collages) with a forum and tutorials.

Here's my little girl playing in the sandbox at the park.

3. Favorite Toy Goes in the Picture

Once you've mastered the Composite technique, you're ready for next level of photo manipulation -- putting your child or child's favorite toy into the action.

Where I got the idea: my little girl loves reading Curious George Rides A Bike, and her favorite stuffed animal, Monkey Pie, looks a little bit like George. So...

Now I know what you're thinking: Between changing diapers and work and not getting any sleep, how did you ever find the time for Photoshop? Hey, my wife asks the same thing. I do remember the NBA Playoffs were over and the NFL season had not started yet, so what is a guy to do?

Happy photo-doctoring!

Friday, August 18, 2006

First Comments

I submitted my Romance post to Problogger's Writer's Project, and I've gotten my first ever comments. Whoo hoo. Real proof that people other than my wife are reading my blog. Thank you, thank you all for the kind comments.

As you can see, I'm still very green and new to blogging. Should I just respond in the Comments section? Can I link there? Oh well, I still want to write little about my blog routine anyway.

Mama Duck: I'll have to check your blog out, since I have a toddler of my own.

Shawn: I no longer have the time to play golf (see above about toddler). Which is good cuz I suck. But I saw some other interesting things on your site, pertaining to blogging. Re: Origami - no, I learned everything I know from searching online.

My routine

Lately I have been blogging in the morning and using the afternoon to learn as much as I can about blogging, about getting traffic, etc, and trying to utilize what I've learned. Also, to not check my personal email until after 12pm. It seems to make me a little more productive.

Also, the afternoon is the time for surfing online, reading my Rss feeds, checking stock quotes, and working on arts and crafts.

Office Tip of the Day - What Not to Do

Leave Your Instant Messenger chat window open when you walk away from your desk.

Why? You might work with someone like me.

True story: At my last job, there was a young kid, 19 or 20 years old. Drove a souped-up Civic, street-raced it on the weekends, loved Fast and Furious. That day, he was a little under the weather. He walked away and left his computer on. I happen to walk by when his Girlfriend IMs him.

GF: Hey, honey, whassup?
Me (in my best Cyrano impression): Wha up.
GF: Nothing. Bored. This job sucks.
Me: Yeah. What are you wearing today?
GF: Jeans.
Me: No, underneath. Lawngerey like.
GF: You're bad.
Me: I'm thinkin of leaving early. Sick. Go to bed, watch F & F DVD.
GF: Again?
Me: Oh yea. You know what i like best about ya?
GF: What?

That's when he showed up, and IM'd: What? What?

I thought I did well with his girlfriend. I felt good, sneaky-good. I felt terrible, guilty. It was not right. There's gotta be a book on online etiquette/ethics. Hijacking/impersonating on IM is not right, right? But if someone is dumb enough to leave their IM window open, do they deserve it?

At my current office, the co-worker in the next cubicle always, always leaves his IM on when he leaves his desk. They are mostly from his friends. "Are you going to watch Snakes on a Plane?", "Are u going to make the party tonight?" Stuff like that.

Omg. Dude. You cannot imagine how tempted I am. The amount of willpower it takes to refrain from jumping on his computer and answering his IMs. I know, I have a problem.

So I say again. The tip is: close your IM window, and all other personal screens. People like me are around. We do not need any more temptations.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

4 Ways to More Romance

So you want a little more romance in your life? You want your Honey to brag about you to her girlfriends? Then forget about the candles, the Tantric lessons, incense and mood music. You don't have to write a poem, serenade at her office, deliver balloons in a clown suit or go proposing on the Jumbotron at a ball game. My guess is these kind of things aren't quite your style. Too cliche, too cheesy. Too something. There's gotta be a better way. A painless, not too much effort or too embarrassing, a dude's method to romancing, charming and impressing the opposite sex. There is.

Just remember these 4 steps.
  1. Exceed the expected.
  2. Be creative.
  3. Expend a little effort.
  4. Create rituals.
Exceed expectations: My wife was expecting me to get her flowers, so rather than pop into a florist, I bought her daisy earrings from Tiffany's. In this day of cell phones, text messages, emails, do the unexpected -- write a letter and send it snail mail. And having learned Origami recently, if I had to do it today, I might fold some paper roses. Much cheaper.

Creativity: For our practical purposes, being creative means thinking just a wee little bit outside the box. In the old days, we made a mix cassette tape of our favorite songs. Today, you can mix a CD of not only your favorite songs, but tunes she might like, that shows who you are, what's in your heart, what moves your soul and body. Or if you got the money, buy her an iPod, and load it up with your special mix. If you don't have the money, hijack her iPod and return with the mix.

Think about what you would normally do, then do that with a twist. For example, on her next birthday, rather than buying a $6 card, make your own. Use crayons. Learn Photoshop. A mix of old school and new works great and it's a wonderful show of creativity.

A Little Effort: Not a lot. Cook her a meal. Take the kid to the park and give her a Saturday morning off so she can shop or get a pedicure or whatever. Another example: Once when I was leaving on a 7-day vacation, I left 7 notes (one for each day I was to be gone) for the girl I was living with at the time. I left instructions to open only one per day. This way, she knew I was thinking of her while I was away. This way, she didn't miss me too much. This way, she did miss me even more.

Yes, it took a little planning. A little effort. Not impossible to do.

Rituals: No, not a satanic kind. If you just started dating, maybe save all the Fortune Cookie messages from the Chinese restaurants the two of you frequent. Present them at a later time. My example: on our wedding anniversary, we always dine at a restaurant with a number of the anniversary. I pick and she doesn't know where we're going til we get there. For our first, we went to One Pico at Shutters on the Beach, then Carmines II (where we saw Frank Stallone, Sly's bro at the bar), we missed it on the third (it was the year of the baby), then Four Oaks (since closed), and finally 555 East American Steakhouse ... you get the idea. Corny, huh?

Think up some of your own. Later, I'll post some pictures of arts and crafts projects I've made for my wife and child. Just remember, all four steps takes just a little thought. And as they say, it really is the thought that counts.

Carnival of the Vanities up

The Carnival of the Vanities #204 is up over at Spooky Action. Check it out. Thank you, Spooky for the kind intro. There will be a few more simple recipes on the way. We're talking eeee asy. If my lazy ole self can do it, you can do it. If you can trip over your foot, you can make it.

Sorry Spook. I'm still new to the blogosphere. Only second Carnvial, ya know. Only signed up for Technorati yesterday.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On the Way to Peace with a 1000 Origami Cranes

Here's the latest count and with pictures: 13 cranes. 887 more to go.

If case you missed this, check out my previous post this Peace project.

Paper: I started with Post Its, but I've moved on to anything I can find in my office.

Biggest: 3x3 Post it. Smallest: .5 inch x .5 inch.

Number of crane contributions from my loyal readers: 0

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Affirming My Way to a Great Day

I just finished reading The Winner's Attitude, by Jeff and Val Gee. I will affirm my day for the next 30 days and see if things improve. They descibe the "Switch" method, where you switch from your "animal" (the basic fear and survival mode) to your "human" (more evolved, works out of love) brain. Also, you affirm your day by looking in the mirror every morning and telling both brains, "Today and today only, you and I are amazing."

Affirmation, Day One: Animal brain was very quiet for most of the day. I was calm through a couple of very annoying episodes that normally would have set me off. I only missed a couple of opportunities to use my human side, and did what I normally do -- use my animal brain. I think the animal was caught off guard, didn't realize it would have to work a little harder. Finally, it did assert itself towards the end of the work day. It has been a struggle when I got home, with me operating at 50-50 animal-human brain. So it went from a great to a good day.

Day Two: This morning, the animal reared its ugly head pretty early. And I'm trying to keep it under wraps. I'm determined to have a great day. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Contrarian's Way to Pick Up Hot Women

In this day of MySpace, eHarmony, Match.com, where the stigma of Personal ads have completely disappeared, I'm not sure about the usefulness of this technique. But it has worked for me. And if you find yourself in a small-group situation (dinner parties, bars, etc), it might just work for you.

The Normal Way: See if this is familiar. You're at a bar, or at a party, and a Hot, Hot Woman just enters the room. Every guy in the room turns to check HHW out. Every guy wants her. They are all trying to get her attention. Unless you're George Clooney or Justin Timberlake, you have no chance.

The Contrarian Way: When you see HHW, ignore her. I repeat, ignore her. If you must acknowlege her, be polite, be civil. But that's it.

Why this Works: She will notice you because you are different. You are cool, indifferent, mysterious. You are not like all the other guys panting after her. You are going against the norm, the crowd. All HHW have very sensitive Receptors. They can sense attention, heat, desire. This is what they are thinking: I am hot. I can feel all the attention, all the guys here desire me. I can have any guy I want -- wait a minute. Who's that guy? I'm getting nothing from him. Did he not see me? Who does he think he is? Now, you've got her attention. The rest is up to you.

Disclosure: This does not always work. And in fact, it has backfired on me with two or three women. But even with them, I had gotten them to notice me. And I have hooked up with more women than I would have if I didn't use this technique.

Bonus tip: Once you've gotten the attention of a HHW, seek out the 4th or 5th hottest woman in the room and talk to her.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Dude's Recipe for Impressing Your Babe

"Be excellent in her presence." - Steve of Tao movie.

Turning Japanese

This is a recipe for a simple dinner. Don't wait for a special occasion. The effect will be greater if you try this on an ordinary day. If you can boil water in a pot, you can make this and wow your date, girlfriend or wife. The impessive factor will be inversely related to how often you cook for her.

On scale from 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult, this meal is a 1.5 project. Total cooking time: about 20 minutes.

Things to buy:
  • 2 packs of Soba noodles (Trader Joe's has them)
  • 1 bottle Soba sauce
  • 2 packages of pre-made sushi rolls
  • optional: 1 bottle of sake, flowers.
Here's what to do:
  1. Boil a pot of water, like you're making spaghetti.
  2. Follow instructions for soba, usually cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes.
  3. While the soba's cooking, mix the soba sauce, following the directions on the bottle. About 3 parts water to 1 part sauce into a nice small dipping bowl. Or mix 2 parts water, sauce and add a ice cube.
  4. Place cooked soba in a strainer. Run cold water for about 30 seconds.
  5. Separate soba into two portions, place on a nice white plate.
  6. Open packages of sushi roll, and present nicely around or side of soba.
  7. Set table with chopsticks, small plate for soy sauce, and sake.
That's it. Dim the lights. Light some candles.

If you've never eaten soba, here's how you do it: 1. Pick some soba up with chopstick; 2. Dip into sauce; 3. Put in mouth; 4. Enjoy.

Why it works:

Yes, it's not all cooked from scratch (that's one of the Dude's secret, which I will detail in a later post). But there is the thoughtfulness and effort factor that any loving woman will appreciate, knowing that 7.5 guys out of 10 will not do it.

Bonus tip:

Do not, I repeat, do not let her do the dishes. Insist on this.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Peace in Iraq, Origami update

On July 28, 2006, I started the 1000 Paper Cranes Peace in Iraq Project.

Here's the update.

  • Iraq Body Count: 40,069-44,596
  • Total of Paper Cranes I've received: 0.
  • Total of Paper Cranes I've folded: 9
Come on, my loyal readers. I know you're out there. I know you want peace in Iraq. But no pressure, if you've feel like participating, fold one and sent it, c/o: Paper Cranes, P.O. Box 1214, Burbank, CA. 91507-1214.

Once I get a 1000, I'll be sending them to Bush at the White House.

Thoughts on the Million Dollar Experiment

On July 2006, I joined Steve Pavlina's Million Dollar Experiment. My short, inadequate explanation is: you concentrate and attract a million bucks. Check his site out for the full explanation.

Later that day, I paid $20 to a co-worker for lunch. She is extremely good with money, figures things down to the penny, taxes and tip, and all. I was due $13 in change. She gave me back $34. Woohoo, it works, I thought. Of course, I gave the money back and couldn't count it toward my million.

After that, nothing. No money, but lots of sceptica, negative, qualifying, questioning thoughts that were definitely not helping me. It's just a big cloud blocking all the money that wants to come to me. I'm writing them down to clear them from my head.

Neg. thought #1: Where's the money?

It takes time.

Neg. thought #2: Do I attribute this money to the experiment or not? How to I calculate it? I got a raise. I was expecting it, do I still count it? Do I use the hourly rate, or the monthly or yearly sum?

I just did a monthly sum. Simple. Moved on.

Neg. thought #3: I was due money, didn't really think I was going to be paid. It came, do I count it?


Neg. thought #4: Right after I joined the Experiment, I got a bunch of unexpected expenses. Cost me lots of money. What's the deal? Does the Experiment not work?

It works. Get it out of your head.

Neg. thought #5: What's the point of getting a million when I'm not tracking all my outgoing money?

Good question. Forget about it. I'll get more money than I can spend.

The last couple of days, money has been trickling in, from AdSense and sources, expected and unexpected. I say, Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How Not to Be Rich

"The most expensive advice is free advice" -- this is actually from Robert Kiyosaki's book, Retire Young, Retire Rich. In a previous post, I mis-attributed it to Gary North. My apologies to both.

But Mr. North did say, something to the effect that most people want to be rich, their way, which I gathered to mean, the effortless, quick, exciting way. He offers several strategies (gold, opening a day care, moving to a cheaper state) but as he's likes to point out, most won't do it. It's hard. It's not a Get Rich Quick enough. So they plod along, doing the same things, wondering why they don't have more money, wishing how great it would be to be rich.

I mention it because of a post from I Will Teach You to Be Rich, who writes about Wanting to Be Rich and Being in Love with the Idea of Being Rich. He's so right. Most people just won't even do the basic things like:
  1. Pay yourself 10%
  2. Make it automatic
  3. Live under your means
  4. Pay off your credit cards every month

The oldest cliche comes to mind: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him save or invest for the long term."


There's a co-worker. Let's call him Bob. He's been at the company three years when I got there. Never signed up for his 401k. After a year and half of my nagging and badgering, he finally signs up, elects 8%. After another year and half, I cannot convince him to up his contribution 1%. One measly percent. He won't see it or miss. Yet he just won't do it.

He's not ready. Or as Kiyosaki would say, he needs to change or enlarge his "context". I think most people need a catalyst. Something personal and meaningful. My worry is that be that time, it'll be too late.

I'm not rich, far from it but I feel I've got a long-term plan in place. I feel my financial ship has just left the dock, headed in the right direction. And that I will be constantly tweaking and adjusting in the years to come, depending on the winds.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My First Carnival

Hey now! Hey whoo. I got into my first carnival. It's for my stock picking post. It's hosted by MoneyForest and I'm the first one in the General category. Check it out.

Thank you, MoneyForest.

Friends - An Endangered Species

One of my personal growth goals I forgot to list on previous post was: to make more friends.

As you get older it's harder to make friends. It seems like we all try to make do with the ones from high school or college. But either through mental or geographical distance, they, one by one, fade away.

And so that was my case and I was down to ONE friend. Let's call him White. Then a few years ago, we had a falling out. More like I couldn't be bothered anymore. When we first met in acting class, he had more natural talent, instinctive talent. I was more book learned, university trained.

There was a always hint of competitiveness. He went on to film school, got a masters degree, and in the process, got his book learning, which he lorded over me, without intending to. He was a good friend over the years, helped me in big ways and small. But his self-centered ways were becoming annoying.

So I stopped calling him. He complained that he was the one initiating all the contact. I didn't disagree. He stopped calling. I lost the only friend I had. Through pride? Probably more mule stubborness. No big deal, I thought. I've always been a loner. And I was being kept quite busy with a new baby on the way.

Over the past couple of years, White has reached out, wondering what happened. He sent me a email when his mother died. A friend got married. Someone's father died. He sends a mass email and I'm on the distro list.

So far, I've been resistant. And struggling to figure out why. Is no friend better than a friend who makes you feel so-so? Have we just grown apart? In all honesty, he reminds me of the past that I'd rather not think about. At least not so directly.

We had similar goals, dreams and I am envious that he's taken a more direct path to them. I'm not sure if I have those dreams anymore or if I've given them up. White reminds me of a younger me and the possiblity that I've betrayed that younger me. That maybe I've buried the things, the passions, that matter most to my heart.

Who needs a friend that reminds you of all those things?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dude's Guide for New Dads

A co-worker Joe announced he and his wife were having a baby. He keeps coming over and asking me questions. I would buy him a book, but there are not that many books for New Dads. Plus I'm cheap. So I decided to write this post. A Dude's Guide to Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before My Baby Was Born.

Things to Buy (or to put on Shower Registry)
  1. Carseat. To get baby from hospital to home. Graco is good.
  2. Diapers. Assuming you go the disposable route, Costco can't be beat. They have Huggies and their own Kirkland brands.
  3. Basket/Sleeper.
  4. Onesies.
  5. Bottles and liners.
  6. Bibs and blurp cloths
  7. Baby bath tub.
  8. Diaper Genie vs. Diaper Champ: I tried both. I prefer the Diaper Champ. It does slightly better hiding odors and it uses ordinary trash can liners, which saves money.
  9. Stroller. Preferably a Graco or other system, where you can plop the carseat right into the stroller is convenient.
  10. Digital Camera.
That's it. Everthing else is extra: stuff like Baby Monitor, stuffed animals, etc.

Things to Know/To Do
  1. Childcare. Get on a least three
  2. waiting lists for childcare. Doesn't matter if the Due Date is six months away. Do it! We were on four, and each one of them told us we had a least a two-year wait. We got into all of them.
  3. Make a Will/update your Will.
  4. Back to Sleep. Child sleeps on his/her back.
  5. Learn how to change a diaper. It's easy, until they get older and start squirming around.
  6. Know this: there will be NO SEX for awhile. Probably until your child goes off to college.
  7. Sleep. (See Item #4 about Sex.)
  8. Three scariest words you will ever encounter. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.
  9. You've been warned.
  10. Heart. It expands to accommodate a host of new emotions for your child and wife. Dude, I can't begin to describe it, but you'll know it when it happens again. And again.
  11. Heart, part 2. It will suffer. Thousands of tiny breaks and tears...when you accidently hurt your child, when you can only watch them in pain...
  12. There is nothing like it.

Now go have some sex, or sleep or go on a vacation. While you can.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My Credentials

I have none. I've been on this earth 39 years, have a wife and child. I have a job, a little money and no friends.

I've learned a few things, but am still struggling with some of the big questions:

  1. What's my purpose in life? What is my calling?
  2. How to do raise my child without spoiling her?
I know my talents: creative, hard-working, kind, above average ethics and sense of humor.

I know my weaknesses: gambling, risky investments, trying to get rich quick, good beer and burritos, low tolerance for stupid or unethical people. I am a dilenttante, fluttering here and there.

And as I seek financial independence, I know I have to answer Question 1 before that happens. Because if I had a million dollars, what would I do with myself?

Act One of my life is nearly over. I am actively looking for something meaningful for Act Two. Po Bronson's book, and Gary North (has an essay about Calling vs. Occupation), and Steve Pavlina really got me thinking.

So there they are, my credentials or lack thereof.

Link to How to Get a Bigger Raise

The following goes under the "Don't You Hate That" category. Just after I post on how to be a great employee and get a raise and a promotion, etc, etc., I get an email about David Bach's article, "Five Steps to Getting a Bigger Raise." http://finance.yahoo.com/columnist/article/millionaire/7638

He says it better, and goes into a bit deeper. Check it out.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My Personal Growth Goals

In no particular order:

  1. Increase traffic to this blog by 25% a quarter. Very modest, considering I have 0 viewers right now.
  2. Post on the blog for 30 consecutive days. Giving this Stevepavlina.com's 30-day trial thing a go. How if you want to change, you should try it for 30 days. http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/04/30-days-to-success/
  3. Bring a packed lunch to work at least once a week.

That's it for now.

Secret to Being a Super Employee, Part II

Before I discuss the Real Job Case #2, I forgot to mention, if you are doing all the things to achieve your Boss' goals, make sure you keep a record.

  • April, I helped close 4 deals.
  • May, 6 deals, etc.
This will all help during Performance Review/asking for a Raise time.

Job Case #2: Tape Vault/Library to Vault Supervisor

This was an entry level postion that paid a little over minium wage, even though I had a college degree. There was very little training, and most of the employees in the department were community college dropouts. The college graduates usually lasted a couple months at the most.

My nominal responsibilities were: check in/out tapes. It was like working at a Blockbuster store but with a lot more formats than DVD and VHS. My "true" responsibilities, based on my read of the Big Picture, were: help the clients achieve their goal -- a finished show. How did a lowly vault guy figure that out? I took a class. Not on vault management but about the whole process, from the clients' viewpoint.

The clients were bringing in tapes, working on it, copying it to other formats, tweaking and tweaking until they had a completed product. Kind of commonsense, but once I knew what they were trying to do, I was able to help them better, which contributed my little part in keeping them happy and coming back to the company. Which added to the Bottom Line (revenue).

Showing Initiative:

When I started, there was a hard-working guy who was soon to be promoted. I asked how he did it. He said, learn another job, on your own time. That's what I did. I learned how to operate different machines and learned more skills. So when someone was not available, I was able slide in and do the job.

Eventually, I got a raise, a small promotion and was on my way to the more technical job. Then I left to work for a bigger company.

Big Picture thinking

It all comes down to making the company money or saving the company. And how you can contribute to one or the other or both. Here are some examples, they are very general, some you should be able to grasp the gist and apply it.

  • Paralegal: You're a support person for a lawyer. Find out how they make money. Help them do that efficiently.
  • Customer Service: Solve customers' problems in a friendly, efficient manner.
  • Auto mechanic: Do quality, honest work. That reputation will spread by word of mouth.
  • Publicity/marketing: You have to increase awareness in clear measureable ways, meaning increasing businsess/sales.
As with any job, learn all the skills/duties of the jobs under you and one job above you.

That's it. Go get that raise and promotion.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Secret to Being a Super Employee

"ABC -- Always Be Closing." -- Glengarry Glen Ross, D. Mamet

Work hard. Show up early, stay late. Smile. Have a positive attitude. Kiss Boss' ass.

Forget about all that. For me, what worked, what got me a raise, a better job, was the Secret to being a Super Employee. I was productive, efficient and the greatest asset to a company once I figured out the Big Picture and the Bottom Line.

Some jobs, like Sales, are easy to figure out. The goal is to sell the most widgets or whatever. The more you sell, the better for you and your company. But many jobs are support jobs, so what's the Big Picture?

Most support jobs (assistants, secretaries, etc) don't bring in any money. The Bosses do that. So your "true" responsiblities are to help the Boss achieve his goal -- which is to bring in more money into the company as efficiently as possible.

Real Life Job Case #1

I was an Assistant to a Motion Picture Agent. My responsiblities were: place calls, answer calls, faxing, copying, filing, etc. My Boss' job was to find jobs for his clients -- which happened only after he negotiated and closed the deal. So basically, I had to help him close as many deals as possible. I viewed all tasks with this criteria in mind and the Life of the Deal, which were:
  1. A job opens up.
  2. Boss pitches Buyer a client. If interested, send Buyer client's resume.
  3. Send client a script.
  4. Set up interview for Client with Buyer.
  5. Boss negotiates Deal.
  6. Deal Closed.
Now multiply that by 10, with dozens of deals in different phases, and I had to juggle over 300 calls a day. But once I had my goal in focus -- help Boss close deals -- I knew what to do. If there were 5 calls on hold, Buyers usually had priority, unless Client's phone call was closer to closing a deal.

With goal and Big Picture in focus, even mundane tasks like Faxing and Filing became important. Nothing happened, deals could not move forward, until I sent that Fax. If I filed correctly, the Deal Memo could be found quickly and referred to easily during negotiations for the next deal.

Of course, there were also lots of tasks that came up outside of the Goal. Things that fell in the category of Favors, or keeping Clients happy: getting them tickets to shows, copies of DVDs, etc. But once I knew the Big Picture, I knew these were lower in the priority scale and treated them as such.

If I was really ambitious, I would read scripts on my own time, offer ideas for my Boss, etc. This all goes under the Helping Boss Close More Deals criteria.

Even before I got to this advanced, ambitious level, I got my raise and I got another job offer, which I took.

The key really is finding out the Big Picture of how the company makes money and aligning your goals to that. In a supporting role, finding your Boss' goal and helping him/her to achieve it consistently. Or at least, making your Boss' job easier.

In Part II, I discuss Real Life Job Case #2, and some examples of Big Picture thinking in other jobs.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Joke more and live longer. Smile already

They say humor adds 10 years to your life. I'm not kidding. I read that somewhere. I think in a book of jokes. If that's true, then I'm living to a 150. So smile already. If you're not, here's a couple of tips to try to lighten up your day, or the day of some other drone that just goes through the motions, however illogical or mindless.

Tip #1: At the Supermarket: Right after "paper or plastic?", the inevitable, mandatory question seems to be, "Do you need help to your car with that?" or some variation. Does not matter if you're male, fit, healthy, and buying one freakin' half pint of Ben & Jerry's. No, they still gotta ask that question. And most people reply, "No, Thank you."

But here's the tip. Here's my response, "Uhmm (pause) ..." then, "No, thank you, not today." Give it try.

Tip #2: At a Restaurant: This is a variation on the above. After they serve you the meal and you've had a chance to taste it, the server comes around and asks, "How is it?" and most people reply, "Fine," or "Great" or something similar. But my response is always, "Uhm..." and I think about it. As if I'm trying to say something negative, kind of like I'm trying to figure out how to break it to them gently. Meanwhile, the server is on edge. She's worried. Waiting with anxious anticipation. Then I say, "Fine, thanks."

But wait, here's a bonus tip. If you're out and about shopping, at say, Staples or a toy store, and someone mistakes you for an employee. By all means, play along. Help them. Answer their question. Offer a discount.

Have a nice day.