Monthly Archives: June 2010

Thinking of starting up your own craft business using etsy.com to distribute your wares?

Then you should read this: Hobbyists Use Etsy to Trade Day Job for Hard Work – NYTimes.com. This quote sums the article up well:

“Etsy saved my life,” Ms. Gibran said. But, she added, “this is the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

As anyone who has tried to make a go of it running a small business can tell you, it’s alot of hard work. Then again, it could be the best work you’ve ever had.

Warren Buffett on the state of California and its finances

In this good article summing up the dire economic condidtion that California is in (California on ‘verge of system failure’ – The Globe and Mail), there is this quote:

Billionaire Warren Buffett, who advised U.S. President Barack Obama during his White House run, suggested recently that a Washington bailout of California and other troubled states is inevitable. How, he wondered, can Washington deny California after saying yes to General Motors, AIG and dozens of banks.

“I don’t know how you would tell a state you’re going to stiff-arm them with all the bailouts of corporations,” Mr. Buffett said.

Warren Buffett is a smart man when it comes to money, so I am wondering how he could have made that comparison. For the companies that accepted (or were made to accept) bailout money had to do so with signifigant strings attached. I wonder if the same could be said for states that were to accept bailout money. Would California turn governing over to the Feds? It seems unlikely, so that comparison seems invalid.

That said, there is a model of how this could be achieved that is already being demonstrated in the U.S. It’s the Race to the Top program that is part of the Stimulus Act (ARRA, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). Perhaps something similar could be put in place to spur reform in areas other than education.

How serviceberry trees are actually great bird feeders, too

I love birdfeeders, but I can’t have them on our property in Toronto because it attracts everything but birds. This is a shame, because it is great to have something to attract birds to your yard.

Surprisingly to me, the serviceberry tree in the front yard is not only a very nice looking tree, but it turns out it is also an excellent birdfeeder. I have had a number of robins and cardinals fly into it, gobble up some of the pea sized berries, and then fly off. And unlike birdfeeders, it doesn’t attract a ton of squirrels or other unwanted mammals. In Canada there are lots of beautiful trees you can plant in your yard for a variety of reasons. Besides the serviceberry, I also have a Himalayan birch tree and a Japanese maple. But for the added benefit of attracting birds, consider a serviceberry tree.

Some thoughts on Vacational (?) Thinking

We think differently – or aim to – when we go on vacation. in fact, if I go
on vacation and find myself still thinking about my day to day
preoccupations, I feel I have failed to take a proper vacation. To me,
vacational thinking can be thinking whereby I forget my day to day cares
for a period of time and with any luck I think instead about special things
that I might not normally think about. It’s not enough to attend an art
gallery or a restaurant or a performance in another place, I have to think
that it is something special and unique in some way and my thinking
reflects that.

But there is another aspect of this thinking, too. With vacational thinking
your brain operates in a less (or sometimes more) excited state than your
day to day state. Your thinking may relax on vacation. Or if you are going
someplace exciting, you mental state may be excited. Either way, it is
likely a break from your typical emotional state.

I thought of this because I have been planning my summer vacation, and even
if I don’t go any where, I plan to shift my way of thinking when I am on
vacation as well as my mental state. But I also plan to think like I am
some place special, even if I am going to a cafe or an art gallery or a
park in Toronto. I am going to think: if I was in Florence or Paris or San
Francisco or Miami, how would I be thinking about that experience right
now? Or, right now I am sitting on my porch and the weather reminds me of
being in Florence ages ago and I am trying to recall how I felt about those
nights in that city. To make myself appreciate the beauty and the
specialness of where I am, even if it is home for me.

When I moved to Toronto from Cape Breton, people would always tell me how
beautiful my first home was. I never really appreciated that until I
travelled to other places and then travelled back to Cape Breton. It hadn’t
changed much, but my mental state and way of thinking did. I could
appreciate the beauty of something that I used to experience all the time
because I changed my mind. I had achieved vacational thinking.

this morning I was planning to be late for work. I took the time to have a
coffee at a cafe. For the few minutes I was getting my coffee while
watching some World Cup play, I could imagine I didn’t have to go to work
(for no one else there looked like they had to go to work either) and
instead I imagined that I was on vacation. It was an oasis of calm thinking
in an otherwise hectic day. If your days are the same, I recommend take
micro vacations at the very least ehenever you can. It will benefit you
more than you can imagine.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. May you have many frequent
vacations soon.
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Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld.

Some thoughts on the dissolution of time even as it accelerates and accumulates

My kids are like timepieces. I can convince myself that time is not moving,
or moving very slowly and I can be convinced of that until I think about
my two kids. They are like Dorian Grey’s painting: constantly showing the
acceleration of time even if nothing else is.

I thought of this when I checked on my son sleeping the other night.
Already he has gotten so big. I can recall just how a few short years ago
he was just a small thing sleeping. Now he is so big I can barely carry him
up the stairs. Yet looking at him, I could skip around in my mind and see
all of the times when he was lying there sleeping. It was like time was
dissolving and I was moving back and forth in time, and he was the time
traveller’s son.

The other day I was in the powder room washing up and he was calling my
name from the other side. For a moment I imagined I was in the future and I
was in the powder room and I was recalling what it was like to hear his
voice on the other side of the door but in the future he would not be there
and I would open the door and he would not be there. He would be grown up.
Gone. So I slid back to the present and there he was and I gave him a hug
and we went out and played.

In Awakenings, by Oliver Sacks, his patients go into a vegetative state
that allows them to perceive time as hardly moving to them, even though it
is changing rapidly for the rest of us. Decades could pass by, but it would
be perceived as no time at all for them.

I was reading last week that memories are not something like words on
paper. They are more dynamic than that, and we are constantly writing them
and rewriting them all the time.

I wonder how much of our perception of time and how it passes has less to
do with the world in itslef and more to do with the limits of our current
thinking.

If time is relative, then maybe we can learn to have future memories and
alternative memories?

Memories are just a form of thinking.

I can imagine how tomorrow will be, and though I can control a lot abot how
my perceptions will match the outcome, the outcome will be determined to a
large degree on the predictability of others. In effect, I can remember the
future only to the degree that others are predictable. Others dissolve the
future.

If everyone in the world thought like the patients in Awakenings and I did
not, I could predict the future, for I could see what was coming well
before it happened. In effect my ability to perceive time at an accelerated
rate would allow me to respond better to events and have more time to
prevent others from dissolving the future.

In Borges story The Secret Miracle, a man about to be executed is allowed
to live his whole life in the few minutes he supposedly has before he is
executed. This ability to live a long life in the time span of a few
minutes is the miraculous part. When the time comes for them man to die, he
is …happy?…because he has lived a full life, despite what others have
perceived.

The passage of time is as much a matter of perception as it is anything
else. If we were not to physically change in a way as to show our age and
if we lived in a way that spent less energy on tracking time, then how
would we perceive time then?

We have only begun to play with time.

Time for me to sleep. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
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Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld.

On why we hate the French (or at least French philosophers) :)

Because they say things like this: The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our
nothingness. – Andre Malraux

On the destructive nomadic aspect of business

One thing I often hear when someone gets laid off is something to the effect that this person had a lot of valuable skills and had accomplished a lot and therefore it’s surprising that they were let go. I call this the old house theory of employees. Such employees are like old houses: fill with old antiques and some newer things. Those things do have a lot of value. However, it goes against the increasingly fast natured approach to business. Businesses are becomng less established and solid, I believe. They are becoming more like tribes of nomads. And like nomads, they have very transient like structures and they travel light. And employees who are nomadic in mindset will be the ones who will be the most successful.Hacked together on my blackberry. Thanks for reading this, and if you have
a comment, thanks even more
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Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld.