A couple of years ago, Merlin Mann asked me to contribute to his productivity-orientated site, 43 Folders. It was great fun, and I stuck around until Merlin changed directions. Here's a list of what I wrote for him.
One year ago today I wrote about my encounter with a St Augustine monster. In recognition of that suspicious event, I present a snapshot of a UFO that shadowed our car along portions of Route 66 in Arizona.
A number of years ago (too many, if you must know) I learned a hard lesson at my first real-world job. It was time for the infamous annual review, and as part of the process I was asked to provide a list of all of the things I had accomplished over the course of the year.
The only problem was, I couldn't remember but a handful of the things I'd done. And because of a particularly inhumane corporate culture, my boss really had no idea what I had done either.
Needless to say, my performance review that year suffered for my lack of memory. I vowed to never let that happen again.
Ever since then I've maintained two lists of accomplishments. They're text files, so they're easy to update whenever I meet a goal or deadline. There are two because I like to separate personal and professional accomplishments separate.
Entries are written in single-line bullet-point style, just right for a PowerPoint presentation. Not that they'll ever be part of a presentation, but I like the exercise of writing in corporate-speak, even for my personal accomplishments. Something about "Surpassed August weight loss goal by 2%" makes me smile.
I recommend developing this habit; it has certainly served me well. Whenever I need a pep talk, it's easy to review a list of all that I have managed to achieve lately. And on a few occasions they've proven useful for answering questions like "What year did we publish that book?", and other trivia. Since they're your lists, feel free to pat yourself on the back and add anything you'd like to acknowledge.
With a new year approaching, there's no better time than now to get started.
On November 27, 2011 at approximately 12:40 in the afternoon I encountered an unknown water creature in St Augustine, Florida. My wife and I had just finished walking our dog, after visiting one of the outlet malls, and suddenly she spotted a large Nessie-like animal in the nearby pond.
It was dark black in color, moving quickly, and although we only saw about 2 feet of it at a time (due the way it was arching its back out of the water), it was clearly quite long. If it hadn't been moving and clearly alive, it would be easy to assume it was a tractor truck tire sticking out of the water. (Just to give you an idea of the size.)
True to form for these type of events, the photos I hurriedly snapped are inconclusive and don't show what we witnessed. The thing was moving fast, and mostly all I managed to capture was the wake it left behind. Although in the first photograph, you can barely see its body slipping below the water's surface.
Was this the spawn of the St Augustine Monster? I don't know. As America's oldest port and home of The Fountain of Youth, clearly there's more to the city than meets the eye. I don't know when or if we will return, but if you're in the area, remain calm and be aware.
Reid Psaltis' small book about so-called mythical creatures is really a delight. True to the title, the discussion of each creature briefly covers both sides of the argument for, or against, the existence of a cryptid. But what got me hooked is that, in the Preface, Psaltis states:
The purpose is not to defend nor deny the existence of any of its subjects. I feel their existence is moot. [Cryptozoology] is less a study of monsters than it is of human understanding.
True, indeed. But as the discussion is brief, the real reason to buy this book is for the wonderful artwork you'll find throughout. A sampling of which you can view at the author's website. The book is well worth the measly $6 cover price. I got my copy at Quimby's.
Many people know about the easy to spot design features of the bill, such as the 13 arrows clutched by the eagle on The Great Seal. Or, perhaps, the Star of Solomon arrangement of the constellation above the bird's head. But Ovason goes much deeper than that, bringing out geometric arrangements and deep background on the unfinished pyramid, the treasury shield, and the Omega that surrounds Washington's portrait. (And much more.)
Unfortunately, the book is arranged in an awkward style that numbers each "secret" separately. Because so many of the observations are linked, and only make sense when considered in context with others, there is a fair amount of repetition throughout the book. This makes it frustrating to read, and contributes to the feeling that some of it might be padding to make the book more substantive than it really is.
I was prepared to dismiss the book as fun, but unsubstantiated, until I reached the very end. There I discovered a series of footnotes and sources that lend credence to some of Ovason's more obscure assertions. The book would have benefited greatly by giving an indication--any indication--that these existed in the main body of the text. If you read this book, be sure to read the notes in the back as you go along, I think it will significantly enhance your enjoyment of the book.
Overall, while the book is flawed and could have benefitted from a proofread, it's a comprehensive reference that brings out aspects of the dollar's design that are not easy to find elsewhere. In the end its low price makes it a worthy addition to a library of obscure knowledge.