The False Promise of Trello

Every year, like swallows returning to Capistrano, I return to Trello. Entranced by its clean interface and enticed by positive reviews, I embrace Trello as the perfect personal productivity tool. Inevitably, after a few hours to days, I turn my back on the app, disenchanted as ever.

Despite what it does well, Trello fails to deliver in three key areas.  Continue reading

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One small anchor

Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope. – Epictetus

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Let me check my email…

Our electronic devices are tools. Like any other tool, they should be applied to the task at hand and then be put away. Constantly checking our devices indicates near-addictive behavior to electronic stimulation. These symptoms can be addressed through mindfulness of our actions. However, an ultimate cure requires replacing our shallow activities with more mindful pursuits.

In Melbourne, Australia a woman was so engrossed in checking her Facebook page that she walked off the end of St Kilda’s pier and fell in to Port Phillip Bay.  She couldn’t swim, but managed to hold onto her phone until she was rescued. Presumably she would have posted a selfie just before expiring if her phone were waterproof.

According to a government report  pedestrian fatalities are on the rise, in part due to “petextrians” — people who text while walking. Pedestrian fatalities have risen by 15 percent to about one pedestrian death every two hours.

“[T]he percentage of pedestrians killed while using cell phones has risen, from less than 1 percent in 2004 to more than 3.5 percent in 2010, according to a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, cited by the GHSA report. And the number of pedestrians injured while on their cells has more than doubled since 2005….” — ABC News.

It’s not just pedestrians, of course.  We all know from daily experience the idiocy associated with distracted drivers. Looking in your rear view mirror to see the driver behind you looking steadily down as you approach a traffic light is a particularly helpless feeling.  Continue reading

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The power of being unimportant

Blows from life teach us humility and force us to focus on the priority of our life. Despite its unpleasantness, being taken down a peg or two can have unexpected benefits. In fact, being unimportant can be an empowering role.

The universe has conspired recently to remind me how unimportant I am. Just before Thanksgiving I was laid off from my job. (My employer had a compassionate tradition of not conducting layoffs during the holiday season. As a consequence, the blood flowed thick in early November.) This was just the latest in a series of heavy-handed thumps on the head to put me in my place. My mother passed a little over a year ago. My father-in-law dove deep into dementia before passing six months ago. We’ve had legal issues with both estates. I got another job, where I now work harder for less pay, perks and self-determination. I could be forgiven, perhaps, for believing Someone Up There has it in for me.  Continue reading

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Playboy is going PG-13?

A male rite of passage is succumbing to the changing times.  Playboy will stop publishing nude photos in March.  Its website has been PG-13 for more than a year and seen its traffic go up in that time.  I guess those who said they only bought the magazine for the articles have won the day.  I’ll confess that I don’t understand the business case for Playboy sans nudity.  Maybe I should have been reading those great articles all along.

Speaking of confusing business cases, what’s the rationale for the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit extravaganza, what Bryan Curtis dubbed the “wholesome-but-smutty aesthetic”? Its origins date back to 1964 when Playboy was at its peak and anything counter-culture was cool.  Or was it groovy? I never could figure those out even back then.

It’s a measure of the power of tradition, though, and a nod toward the same contemporary mores that scuttled Playboy, that the SI‘s annual swimsuit issue is bigger and racier than ever.  Can you imagine trying to make a pitch for this practice today?

“I’ve got this great idea.  Let’s drop one of our regular issues and replace it with pics of young cuties as close to naked as the Attorney General will allow.  Wait a minute… even greater idea incoming… Body paint!  That’s it!  We can show these babes all painted up, naked as the good Lord made them, and nobody will notice!  It’ll be raunchy enough that all the moralists and librarians will be pissed off.  But it will be tame enough that teens will be instantly bored and run to the internet for the real stuff.  What a money maker!”

And so it is.  The 2005 swimsuit issue had $35 million in advertising.  For a single issue.  Like I said, I don’t understand the business case.

Meanwhile, it might be a good time to don the dark glasses and a low-brimmed hat to grab the final few Playboys before they pull the plug on the stylized golden feminine ideal once derided as ‘porn folk art’.  They’re bound to be valuable collector’s items.  A real investment.  And I hear the articles are pretty good, too.

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If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference. — Robert Fulghum

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How to tell good behavior from bad

What distinguishes bad behavior from good? Or acceptable from unacceptable? The two extremes are more alike than we care to admit, differing by a ‘scale factor’ that sets the magnitude of the transgression. Fortunately, there are quantifiable metrics to help distinguish how much is too much.

We all (or at least most of us) know the difference between good and bad. Admittedly, there can be gray areas, but for most of us goodness is like pornography: we think we know it when we see it. On closer examination, though, good and bad can look a lot alike, making it hard to know how to navigate the gray areas between the two.

How can good behavior be similar to bad? Consider these examples. Continue reading

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Don’t be afraid of death

Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever; you just have to live. — Natalie Babbitt

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Great works

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance. — Samuel Johnson

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If life had a second edition

If life had a second edition, how I would correct the proofs. — John Clare

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