Mind your manners - SinkMan is watching

I’ve got more to tell, and show, about the trip I took to New Orleans last month with some folks from my church. We worked on a house, mudding and sanding drywall, painting the porch, and more. We stayed at Olive Tree Village, formerly a church and now a center for housing volunteer work crews from all over the country staying in New Orleans and helping Presbyterian Disaster Assistance with the ongoing Katrina recovery effort.

Of all the disasters of the last few years, one reason to keep New Orleans in mind is that it’s a great and unique American city, and it deserves far better than the sham “heck of a job” of recovery it’s received. Do what you can for New Orleans – it makes America a better country. Even if you don’t do it for New Orleans, do it for somewhere hit by disaster. It’ll make you a better person.

This guy was there, always keeping a helpful eye on sanitary conditions. He never complained and he had a drink of water ready whenever anyone was thirsty. So say hello to SinkMan.

As I said, more to come on the trip, but I thought you might want to meet him.

Tim and TMI

Look at all those unread items!

I sent Stefan “a link to David Foster Wallace’s introduction to the 2007 edition of Best American Essays. I have enjoyed his magazine pieces, and own two of his books, so I sent the link unread with a promise to him to come back to it later. Stef sent back a grumpy rant about the piece, and without getting into the nature of his complaints, what impressed me most was the closeness of his reading and the concentration he must have brought to bear. It forced me to realize that I don’t as a matter of course bring more than minimal attention to what I read – I’ve been scanning, not reading, and my mental muscles are weak. They need to do some weight lifting, and so do I.

Yes, “Tim” is an anagram for TMI, “Too Much Information.” Email messages unread: 68. RSS items unread: 625. Current browser tabs among 5 windows: 11. Too. Much. Information.

So where to cut back? I don’t want to lose more sleep. I would have trouble giving up reading political coverage during this run-up to an election year, especially when the Republicans are fielding such a bizarre misguided flip-flopping fear-mongering group of candidates. And the Democrats, ah the Democrats… they’re so amazingly timid about really pounding on the most incompetent regime America’s seen in my lifetime, and on the Congressional Republicans that have enabled it. George W.Bush makes Nixon look like a smart progressive on most issues. Who’d have thought we’d pine for Nixon? Ever? And in a situation like this, how can I keep from following it?

But back to Too Much Information. There’s always something new just a click away, whether it’s one of those emails, or in a feed, or on a site I haven’t checked this last foru minutes, or something. And I have this blog, see, the one you’re reading? Having a domain, and a blog, implies a commitment, and I have not kept that commitment. I have a camera, too, that camera implies another commitment, to take and publish pictures. I have not kept this commitment either.

Will Richardson writes and lives the Read/Write web, and I do not. Too much reading and not enough writing/photographing/publishing. I’ve allowed the too-many opportunities for something new to become data smog and I have to filter more of it out. I guess that output would become more of the smog for someone else, but the exercise of doing it myself would be better for my mind and my health.

You’ll be glad you watched this.

Tehran, Iran. Human beings live there.

I have my hosting for this site and some others at Textdrive, which has an active, informative, and entertaining forum. I’ve learned a lot there about hosting web sites from the generous and talented people, customers and employees, that post there. It is a real community. I particularly enjoy the off-topic area known ast Textdrivel, where member Besonen started this thread with the post below.

You’ll be glad you watched this.

It’s a Flash video; you may hate Flash video. Take a chance on it. I know I’m glad I watched.

Pass it on.

Happy Almost New Year

Just a moment to wish all a Happy New Year for 2007. Many changes and new things are coming for me and my family, and I wish us and you the strength and wisdom to meet what comes with equanimity and even joy. Embrace it when you can, tolerate it when you need to, endure it when you must. Look out for each other, look out for grace when it finds you.

russell davies: how to be interesting

Darn good idea

I had seen several links to this Russell Davies post on PopUrls, and finally followed it. I may make this my home page, it’s so good and inspiring. Before following the link, I expected a guide to being interesting, but it’s really about being interested – ten suggestions for living in a more engaged and thoughtful way and sharing it through the web. (Jason Kottke linked to a New York Times story about Pixar University in January on the same idea; after reading the article, so did I.) Russell works in advertising, a profession that I find very problematic, but when practiced well combines the best of storytelling, teaching, and artistic expression. Imagine a classroom with similar guidelines. Teachers can model this for their students and they’d both find more in life to look forward to. He writes:

The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, they’ll find you interesting.

Interesting people are good at sharing. You can’t be interested in someone who won’t tell you anything. Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and you’re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.

Read russell davies: how to be interesting

Cross posted on DV for Teachers because it’s too good not to have here too.