Thursday, August 23, 2007


I've been listening to this book on tape but you can also read it. I feel very relaxed. This is not some new age thing. It is written by a Zen master. I like his methods and metaphors. One metaphor which have stuck with me is of a stone thrown into the body of water. It accepts and sinks to the bottom. This is the position for meditation. He discusses the Sutra in layman's terms. These ancient philosophy and methods illuminates. Another metaphor is of the breath. He describes each breath as a climb on the rope to get to the top. He talks about the concept of the five aggregates. This is Dharma. This book seems to touch up on a lot of smaller detail items that I've read in the life remix, life hacks, and life improvement tip blogs. When I eat, I slow down and respect the food, I'm mindful and thankful. When I write, I'm mindful and thankful for the paper, computer, and typewriter etc. Hand writing has now become a form of meditation. An example of mindfulness image which the author gives is when one breathes, focus as though it was the axis on which the planet rotated.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

'The Dead Fish Museum'

I read 'High Divide' and 'Drummond & Son'. These two stores are about a father's relationship to his son. 'High Divide' is about a father and son who take a camping trip to Olympia Washington. The hike culminate in one night when at the very peak of the mountain, the father asked his son to move to California after the divorce. Indeed the title suggests that there is going to be a divide. It is also a fork in the road which hikers often confront. Midway, there's a sign post which ask lets you choose the difficulties of continuing further.

I want to compare these with similar stories by Michael Chabon collected in 'A Model World'. They deal with the confusion which boys feel in their father's divorces.

'Drummond & Son' is a story about a typewriter mechanic and is son. If you like typewriters like I do, then this story is for you. There are several reference to communication. The typewriter is a machine for communicating. It's ironic that the mechanic spends more time fixing the machine then trying to fix the communication between him and his son. There is a lack of a motherly figure in both 'High Divide' and 'Drummond & Son'. And it is this lack of the wife and mother which seems to have broken up the wholeness of the family structure and leave the men lost and estranged.

Snow Crash

‘The Art of Innovation’ led me to ‘Snow Crash‘. I started reading it over the weekend and didn’t want to put it down. It’s very funny. For some reason, I latched onto this book. Maybe it’s because it talks about the Metaverse. Recently, I got into Second Life (SL). I need to do a little bit of research to find out which came first. It talks about people building houses in the virtual world. I can see some similarities between the Metaverse that Neal Stephenson renders and the world of SL. I think this book has influenced a lot of people and companies. For example, the book talks about goggled into the virtual world through the vision apparatus, a goggle. Hm…Google sounds a lot like goggle. Was the book the source?

update: “The Metaverse is a fictional structure written in code” - Neal Stephenson


I’m not a big fan of Sc-fi books, but once in a while a book like ‘Snow Crash’ proves to be readable. I’ve try William Gibson’s ‘Neomancer’. I didn’t make the leap into it yet. Maybe it’s too far out there for me to grasp. ‘Snow Crash’ seems very plausible. I remember, in my younger days, buying David Brin’s ‘Startide Rising’ because it had a cool cover of the man and dolphin. Uplift series

Art of Innovation

Earlier I happen upon ‘Ten Faces of Innovation‘ on Levenger’s website. My local library didn’t have this particular book yet. So I decided to check out it’s predecessor: ‘The Art of Innovation’. This book opened my eyes to things, my work place, my everyday experience and interactions with products. I read this yesterday and Saturday and couldn’t put it down. I took lots of notes on my CircaToma notebook of course and began making lists of things that bug me. IDEO call it a ‘Bug List’. I called my brother Andy and talk to him about it because he has read this and is reading ‘Ten Faces of Innovation’. I remember interviewing at an Architectural firm in Portland. Their studio practice imitated IDEO. I have a whole new respect for design. What we do with products, hacking it and modifying it are our ways of influencing and adjusting the product to our needs. I wasn’t aware that what we were doing is quick prototyping. Now I look at Judy of the Wood’s, NayNay, Mlle_Bleue, Shris, ArtisticSara,R.Rassemusen, Chet, and many other’s work (and even my own) with new eyes. I see DIY communities are like Hot teams working together to strife for better products.

The book is entertaining and the way Thomas and His co author wrote put complex projects into readable terms. It made me think back to reading about Jason’s story of how he started his business. He was looking with his eyes observe his friend with a problem in organization. What can be done better? His quick thinking and prototyping lead to a new line of product that are useful. IDEO encourages looking across the sea for ideas. Jason has done that as well as others. I used to work with the father of the founder of Oregon Chai. He told me a story of how his daughter’s travel to India lead to her idea of making the India version of tea call Chai in their home kitchen. It was very popular drink among friends. She shopped it around to different grocery stores. Eventually the demand for it out grew the kitchen area. Her father, the architect, built her the building for the start of her company.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ready for organization philosophy

Chicken or the Egg

I received ‘Ready for Anything’ (RfA) as a belated birthday present from my sister. She saw it on my Amazon wish list. It proves that once it’s on a list, the mind can forget about it and go on to the next thing. This came as a surprise. I don’t remember putting it on the list. Earlier, I dismissed this book in a conversation with Jennifer George, who thoroughly analyzed the text. I’ve been wondering several points about this slim book. I want to make comparisons to it as investigations into the organization philosophy. This book was born after ‘Getting Things Done’. In the order of thing, ‘Ready for Anything’ is the egg. If I compare the two, Ready for Anything is the philosophy in which GTD is the systematic execution, a methodology. There are some 52 short sections, which can be read as or compare to Koan. At times they are like Koan, because of they are mysterious in nature. At times, it’s hard to understand without a through understanding, and systematic practice of GTD. At times, RfA is a ‘Cliffnote’, a synopsis for the real text. Even though it is written after GTD, I wonder if this could have been a prequel, a predecessor, a subconsciousness lurking underneath GTD. It acts as if an introduction to the systematic execution of a process. In some ways, I prefer RfA, as it is not as dogmatic as GTD nor is it as instructional. It is rather a pondering about a methodology, a pretense for the rigor which is spelled out in GTD. The marvel of it is that, as systematic as GTD is, people who have read it devised their own system. GTD methodology is flexible. Another book by David Allen could not have conjure up a better scheme. It is better to revisit the existing scheme with new eyes and perspectives. I think that this is what RfA does best.

Eastern Philosophy or emptiness….

Interestingly, the majority of the book is spent defending his theory against the ‘Priority Based’. This was and may still be the pervasive thinking. When I was a ‘Franklin Covey’ (FC) guy, I didn’t prioritize my tasks either. In Eastern Philosophy, we are taught not to look at the duality of good or evil. Thus, prioritizing seems to pass on a judgment. I struggle with the goals and mission statements. Because at the time, I concentrate on the moment, the present. Again, this is a Zen philosophy. The other is the notion of Emptiness, which relates to Feng Shui. It is an idea that if your mind is empty it can receive insights. If your channels of energy is clear, more energy will flow. I would say that the majority of GTD philosophy is based on Easter Philosophy. David’s analogue to the ‘Mind like water’ is a zen practice. Stephen Smith has caught on to this and have found quotations from ‘The Book of Five Rings’ which matches David’s thinking. In RfA, much of the quotations are peppered along the margin. I find these quotes match well with the text and marvel at how David has found them to seamlessly illustrate his point.

52 card pick up

Strangely enough, the number 52 made me think of Decks of Cards. Because GTD has been adapted into the Hpda, index size, I wonder if the whole book can be squeezed down into this playing card version. Each sections can be on a card, maybe in a form of a Haiku: Collect, Process, Organize,/Review, Do (it). I think Jenifer George is right in saying that the chapters don’t relate or appear to be in any particular order. True to the form of non- prioritization, this book can function well as a shuffle deck of card. There is a theory of randomness and chance and organized chaos. This is where we step into the new age territory.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

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