When I began my first real job as a reporter for my hometown daily, The Pottstown (Pa) Mercury, I had two regular assignments: writing up weddings and writing up obituaries. Both were compiled from forms - in the case of the former, the family filled out the details, including the description of the bride's and bridesmaids' dresses; for the latter, the funeral director would come into the newspaper, stand at the counter, and go over the details with me. The result of this early training is that I always read the obits first - and, on Sundays, I never skip the weddings in The New York Times.
Thus today I read the Boston Globe obituary of Janet Marzilli, who died of complications of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I did not know Ms. Marzilli but I do have MS. Like so many others I've met over the years with the disease, she, according to the obit, developed many coping mechanisms, including starting a group for others with MS (ATOMS - the Association to Overcome Multiple Sclerosis). And, notably, she lived for 43 years post-diagnosis and gave birth to five children.
For anyone reading who has MS or who knows anyone else with MS, I offer this: Do yoga. I cannot claim it as a cure, for I continue to have episodes many years after my original one, but I can attest to its efficacy in reducing my symptoms. About a month ago, all the telltale signs of an episode descended - extreme fatigue, numbness in my back, legs, and feet, "banding," the sensation of terrible tightness, in my calves. Sometimes when this has happened, I've soldiered on, doing my best to ignore it. But, as I've grown up, I've come to understand that this is not the wisest approach.
This time I decided to pay attention to what I know works: laying low, meaning a lot of time in bed (ah, wireless computing) and increasing my yoga practice significantly. Significantly. For the past month, I've pushed myself to do at least an hour of yoga a day. While I cannot say my symptoms are gone, I can say that I feel immeasurably better than I did a month ago. Stronger, more energetic, and happier - and for those who know the symptoms, decreased banding, less tingling, and a whole lot less pain.
If you've never tried yoga, don't be put off by photos of people who can turn themselves intro pretzels. Even a motion so slight as bending your neck, reaching your chin toward your chest, done slowly, consciously, without strain, is a form of yoga. You can do it right now. Right here at the screen. Don't push - and, please: If you have MS, avoid the craze called "hot yoga." Heat exacerbates symptoms.
The lake is silk this morning, a fishing boat picking up a bit of speed and heading toward Moultonboro, otherwise not a riffle on the Smile of the Great Spirit. Which makes this post even more ridiculous, sitting at the picnic table, waiting for the wood chips to soak before firing up the smoker that my hubby and kids fabricated yesterday out of a garbage can, steel rods, and a hotplate.
Though many people in the US are on vacation (holiday to our Euro friends) this week in anticipation of the official end of summer next Monday (Labor Day), I feel compelled to mention an ad that fell out of WIRED last night. At least, here in heaven, I wasn't reading it. Keen readers may recall my previous post questioning how I came to be a recipient of WIRED.
Helio, a new service of Earthlink and SK Telecomm, is offering us "The Mobile User's Guide to The New Social Etiquette." Here you can get your mobile device along with a heaping serving of how to behave online. It is bold and dismissive: "Voice Call--If you don't know what it is, then please just give this book away." Yes, it's a whole booklet of admonitions. And it harkens back to yet another post here, "Email is for old people," by letting us know that Helio Ocean (tm) "is bringing email back." Did it go somewhere?
I predict: The Messieurs Stewart and Colbert will have a feast with this advertising bonanza.
And...having read the whole thing AND gone to their site, I remain clueless as to what Helio is.
OH! All you guys reading this! Beware! Never send an emoticon to another guy. "Unless [you] like the other guy. A lot." AND "No emoticons unless you've met the other person face to face [sic] or at least sent a picture." Really? I'm sooo 20th-century.
It's the end of summer here in the Northern hemisphere, which means that corn and tomatoes are plentiful on the US East Coast. So tonight, under a full moon throwing its light across the lake, we ate hotdogs and hamburgers, tofu pups, corn on the cob, salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden, and...for those with the room, blueberry pie. The lettuce is fresh, the scallions are thin and tender, and nothing tastes as good as when it's cooked in the granite fireplace over New England softwood. It's a tender moment when the bounty of the earth is fresh and to be a localvore is a wondrous thing. Thank you, Mother Earth, and thank you to my beautiful family.
This one's about two things: the arcane topic of how IT budgets are set AND how this might affect virtual teams, collaboration, and such not.
The email from a colleague at a large technology company prompted a bit of conversation late last week here on ye olde blogge: In its efforts to cut costs, this company may be rounding up all its telecommuters and insisting that they work only from the office - even though 2/3 of them work with people in remote locations (like Asia, for example, while these folks are in, say, Kentucky or Massachusetts).
In possibly an unrelated connection, It turns out that this company sets its IT budget as a percentage of revenue. When revenue falls, IT budget shrinks. It would appear that someone thinks this will cost less.
Is this good business? I've been asking what others think, especially since this is the time of year when organizations start planning their IT budgets, which typically are set by Fall (for organizations operating on a calendar year, that is).
I just got off the phone with Bob Perrin, who heads Magellan Associates, a global management consulting firm. "This has nothing to do with telecommuting and costs will only increase by bringing people back in-house. Lights, electricity, and office space versus hoteling?" No contest, says Bob. A former CIO himself, Bob says that setting IT budgets as a percentage of revenue "is not a very popular approach." Many organizations instead choose a zero-cost increase regardless of revenue then add budget based on what needs to be done.
So for those of you reading who don't run organizations or worry about things like this, this kind of stuff is very important. It means that you either receive a laptop or wait months - as has happened with one of our clients. There, existing employees have had to wait out a budget freeze. Meanwhile new employees automatically receive laptops. Which doesn't sound all that important unless you've got people on teams that need to have conference calls at 5 AM because that's the only time their colleagues halfway around the world are at work. You need a laptop for this. Just one small example (but not small to the laptop-hungry employees).
Organizations: regard IT as strategic not perfunctory. Who does your CIO or CTO report to? Another topic but the answer to that question speaks to the same concerns about the role IT plays in making work easier and more productive.
Ever traveled to Europe by ship? Roland Merullo nails a certain ennui and the cloud of memories such conveyances can bring in today's Boston Globe op-ed, "Voyage of Emptiness." He and his family took the Queen Mary II back from their Italian adventure, where he was working on a new book. He couples his ancestors' (and not that long ago) coming to America under much less luxurious accommodations with that haunting look on the faces of people who've paid much to enjoy themselves but appear as if they never will.
Google Earth has a new friend: the universe, right here on your screen.
Google Sky allows you to tour the celestial canopy. I think. I've tried downloading four times and still it quits "unexpectedly" (Send Report?). I've been as thrilled as the next person about the stuff coming from Google Labs, though Google Street, the (potential?) Peeping Tom, has me quite worried (likewise, Google Print, copyright laws and all). But I love the sky idea. I love the sky. Having pointed around the whole globe and now the whole universe, what's next? Google Me, Inside Version--Google Body?
Update: I am far from the first to think of Google Body, I've just discovered. One way that people get to blogs is through searches on topics (duh) - and it turns out that someone searched on Google Body, which got them here, which I then reverse engineered and have found these posts that reach all the way back to...March 2007.
Photo, Fly Me to the Moon, Kaikoura, New Zealand, 11 PM, March 5, 2007; for an excerpt from "A Long Prayer for New Zealand," read on.
Here's one most people reading aren't worried about - yet: The social graph problem. What happens when you join social networking sites, whether for work or for "social?" For each new service - Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, and on and on (one estimate is that there are 5000 social applications/sites floating around as of now), you have to build a new network of "friends." What if you had just one and it belonged to you?
Web Worker Daily, my new best friend, reported on this a few days ago. Raises lots of questions. Different networks for different purposes? Of course. Do we need a site that manages your networks on all your other sites (as they say, this quickly becomes ratttthhhher meta)? Will any of this last anyway, in which case, why bother?
Patti Anklam ferreted out the Welsh word for this: cynefin, the place of my many belongings.
Many different networks, together a person doth make.
Die in the Internet age and much info about you comes together so quickly. Thus it's easy to find Grace's writing, what others think of her work, what she said about herself, even listen to her read. Several focus on her output, not commensurate with her power, they imply. About this, she says in one of the NPR interviews, "I tend to think of my life as one thing. I'm a writer, a teacher, a political activist, a family person, and I hang out a lot and all take time. I probably short-change all of them. I don't write enough, teach enough, hang out with my family enough."
Maybe not enough but eternal.
Heard her phrasing of what Richard described: "Write in the language of your streets and the ordinary language of your time." IMHO, fine advc 4 2day's wrtrs.
A deep NY Times obit from Margalit Fox (who also wrote Carolyn Goodman's and Liam Rector's).
She thought well of gossip, a form of story-telling in her view, commending same in men: "A good male gossip is a good person."