Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Email Manifesto

Tough title eh? (what am I Canadian? Weird. Anyway.) Today, I will attempt to layout the guidelines to properly communicating with Tarik over email. I will first admit that I am addicted to email. My tiny little world would completely disintegrate if I was not electronically tethered to my people. Sad? Maybe. But it is the reality of the situation.

First, my rules on managing my email:

1) Gmail is the greatest invention to ever hit the internets.

Why? Because it allows me to file EVERYTHING? It collapses long conversations into one line. It even let’s me color code. I can archive and not delete. And, I can search like a pro. Which leads me to #2.

2) I am deadly efficient when it comes to managing my email.
I file EVERYTHING. I rarely lose email. I save everything! Now, I may ignore your email, in which case it was dropped off into an irrelevant pile never to be searched for again. Sorry, it happens. In fact, there are some people who are permanently relegated to the shit pile. And some even go straight to trash. If you follow the rules to come you will know how to avoid being a part of this unfortunate bunch.

*I must note here that Outlook also has the ability to collapse conversations (though not as well as gmail) and also lets you file and search (again, not as well as gmail).

That’s it! That is how I handle email. Now on to the rules of engagement:

1) The time between the receipt and response to an email you send me is proportional to the likelihood of you receiving said reply.

The likelihood of me responding to your email drops off exponentially the longer it sits in my inbox. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it goes. So, if I respond to you instantly, don’t get too happy. I wasn’t hovering over my email, waiting for you to send me something (although I may have been), and it certainly doesn’t mean you are super important (although it might). It means that I am on top of my shit and I don’t want your email to fall into the abyss that is my inbox. But don’t feel bad if I don’t get to it immediately. It just means that I am busy, I don’t have an answer for you (and may never), what you've said was dumb and deserves no response, or what you’ve said has enflamed me and I need a cool down period before I put my anger in print.

2) Formatting matters!

If your email is poorly formatted, I will ignore you. If I have to scroll through paragraphs of previous messages to get to stuff I will be annoyed. Your message should start from the VERY top. Other formatting faux pas include but are not limited to:

  • Any text color other than black or blue (and sometimes red). That means no fucking purple or yellow or green or anything outrageous. I mean really, get crayons for that. This is email, get it together.
  • Cartoonishly large or silly font. CUT IT OUT! Times new roman, arial, courier, Calibri. Anything else and you are straying too far from the reservation. *note: this gets worse if text is comically large AND colorful. Ughhh
  • Silly ass stationary! I think secretaries are the most regular offenders of this. Silly fucking backgrounds with fucking leaves, flowers, turkies, snowmen and smiley faces and shit. This is email, not arts and crafts. If anything moves on my email and is not a video, I’m shooting it and you’re next. *note: this too is exacerbated when accompanied by cartoonishly large and colorful fonts.
  • Unreasonably long or stupid signatures. If your signature must contain a quote, make a good one. It must be no more than 10 words. Do not quote scripture (I find it offensive). Try to be funny, I’ve already read through your damn email, reward me. *note: again this is exacerbated when written on a silly background with cartoonish colorful font
  • Those crappy ads at the bottom of your email. This is standard operating procedure for shitty email clients like yahoo, hotmail, and aol. Seriously, step it up people.
  • Those tags at the bottom of emails that tell me sent this from your blackberry or your iphone. I don’t give a fuck if you farted the email and your personal genie transcribed it. Keep that shit to yourself. Don’t waste my bandwidth bragging about dumb shit. Congratulations. Get a computer you schmuck.
  • If it is a forward (read below for acceptable forwards), making me scroll through 6 sets of indented messages to get to the meat annoys me. STOP. (not to mention all of the crap ads that your friends with shitty email clients kept in the email)

3) Do not send me forwards unless they are well organized and extremely interesting or unreasonably hilarious.

The list of prohibited forwards include

  • Anything that resembles a prayer or anything remotely religious (it offends me. Okay, maybe not offends, but it does annoy me, cut it out. )
  • Anything earlier than circa 2005. If you send me a forward I got when I was still using AOL, you should be beaten.
  • Urban myths. Just use your brain. If it’s about mutant chickens, exploding cell phones, one legged ass kickers, just dump it. Don’t waste my time. This also includes safety tips like don’t set your Christmas tree on fire (word?!), don’t fall asleep while driving (for real?!), and the don't fry a frozen turkey in your living room (didn't know i couldn't do that). JUST STOP!
  • A link to a video that is not youtube. It’s out there people. Use it. Watching a video served from some guys basement is not the .
  • Anything with CHECK THIS OUT or anything of that nature in the subject. Looks too much like spam. Doesn’t even get opened.

4) Get to the point

Make your subject specific. Don’t put dumb shit like PLEASE READ or RESPONSE REQUIRED in the title. If you have to remind me to read and respond to your emails, you’re not doing it right. If you could write specific emails with worthwhile subject lines and content I would read it and respond appropriately.

Also, don’t write a novel. I don’t have time for that shit. Don’t use 6 words where 4 will do. Bullet lists work. Focus people, short bursts of intense concentration.

5) Spell check

I’m guilty of this one. But seriously. If you got to the point, there shouldn’t be that many words in your email. Just spell check it.

6) The art of the group conversation.

You may find yourself on an email sent to many people. You have a choice, replay all, or reply. CHOOSE WISELY. Don’t make an ass of yourself, and don’t unnecessarily cut people out of the conversation. And if you intend to get all falmey and argue, do that shit in private. Take everyone else off and have at it. And don’t try to combine conversations. Just because a few people are on an email and you need to ask them related questions doesn’t mean you can hijack the thread and use it as your personal scheduling platform. Don’t be lazy and ask it all in one email unless we all have to know what each other is answering. It’s just email, it’s not that hard, write more than one.


I think that's it. Follow these rules and reach email nirvana. You will now be returned to your regularly scheduled procrastination.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

One Day At A Time....?

Before I get into the post i have to share this short story/rant. I went into a record store this weekend (breathe, I was just looking), and went to see if the new Roots album came out (and was on sale). I didn't know where the hip-hop section was so I asked an employee if they had the new Roots album. This was her response:
"Hmmm...would that be in the R&B section?"

Seriously?!? The R&B section?!? You have GOT to be kidding me. Unbelievable. You work in a record store and you think the Roots are in the R&B section. Sad, just plain sad..

Now on to the meat...

I had a friend tell me recently that they were taking things one day at a time. Hell, I’ve even said that before. But what does it mean? The only reason today is here is to reap the fruits of yesterday and prepare for tomorrow. If you lived yesterday with no thoughts of today, chances are, today may not go so well, and the same goes for tomorrow.

I actually think it’s a bullshit statement. More over, I think it is more than a bit lazy and maybe just a bit cowardly. And I’m going to explain why.

I think this statement speaks to the same sentiment that the idea of “Living for the moment” or “living for today” does. On its face, it makes perfect sense. Don’t get caught up with down the road stuff. Instead, go for the whole shebang right now. I think that’s a valid stance. That is, unless you really get into it. Think about it. What if you really lived like there was no tomorrow? What if you lived your morning like there was no afternoon? I don’t know that you would be very successful. Madness you say? Well just look at the little stuff.

Would you go to work if tomorrow wasn't going to be there?
Probably not. Work is designed to be a long term thing. You need tomorrow for work to work.

Would you have a bank account?
Probably not. Money left over at the end of the day is just going to go to waste if you gave no thought for tomorrow.

Would you have a house if tomorrow may not be here?
Chances are it wouldn't be too useful. Just sit down on a clear patch of grass and wait for oblivion.

Of course these are hyperbolic, but it illustrates my main thesis. If you truly gave no thought to tomorrow, when, or if, tomorrow gets here, you would have nothing to show for yesterday because you didn’t prepare at all for tomorrow.

The cowardice and laziness argument stem from the fact that it is clearly easier, and really more fun, to live as though there were no tomorrow. Why bear the burden of responsibility? It can be scary to think about the future. It is difficult to extrapolate the consequences of your decisions, and then even more difficult knowing that you may indeed have to live with them. So, why not throw them to the wind, and live like there’s no tomorrow and have no regrets, right?

Now what is the problem with this argument? There are those reading this saying, well Tarik, if you are always so busy prepping for tomorrow, you will never enjoy today. In fact, if you are continuously prepping, what are you prepping for, and when do you get to enjoy it? a good counter, perhaps. However, I propose that there must be a balance. Either extreme is absurd.

There was an essay I read the other day that explained one of the reasons why humans were so different than other animals. On of the major things he cited was that we are the only creatures on earth that are consciously aware of their mortality. We are the only things walking around that know we’re going to die, and also know that there is nothing they can do to stop it. How, then, can we function? Why are we not paralyzed by the fear of this ominous inevitability? Because, the big brained creatures we are, “invent” things that matter. We construct beliefs and set goals that, more or less, to distract us from the event horizon. And, if we’re really good, we invent ideas that make that bitter end not so scary or even use it to motivate us to do more with the time we have.

This idea doesn’t seem to help my argument, does it? I mean, if the end can come at any moment, why play like there is time left on the clock? Just go for the gusto and get it while you can. The simple answer, of course, is because the end might not come tomorrow, and you have to be ready to continue. You can't get everything done today, no matter how hard you try.

The beauty of mortality is that it, when we are properly calibrated, actually motivates us to BOTH get everything we can from today while setting up for tomorrow. The one day at a time approach can only get you so far. In fact, it can only get you through today, maybe. But, if you approach it like this: “What can I do to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.” I think you can maximize all of your options.

So, don’t shirk the responsibility of planning for the future. We all know that can be a daunting and even an impossible task. But, I say embrace it. Revel in the small victories, and make the looming problems smaller ones that you can turn into, well, small victories. Make the best of today to get the most out tomorrow. It's worth it to you.

Here are some relevant quotes:

Life, Jimmy! You know what that is? It's the shit that happens while you're waiting for moments that never come.
-Det. Lester Freeman Ret.

It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
-Robert H. Goddard (1882 - 1945)

You better live your best and act your best and think your best today, for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.
- Harriet Martineau (1802 - 1876)

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Procrastination is like masturbation. It feels good at the time, until you realize that you just fucked yourself.
-Some Guy

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dear Mom,

Where to start? It's been 14 years since we've seen each other and I'm happy to say I haven't messed anything up too badly! So I think it's still safe to say that you did ok with this one. It's a little surreal to think that I've been around now longer than you'd known me.

I often (understatement of the century) find myself wondering what you would think of me now. Everyone I talk to says that I shouldn't, but I think those kinds of questions are good to ask, if not just to keep me honest.

First thing's first, I'm tall!! Not quite Uncle Derrick tall like I promised, but I'm taller than daddy, and have been for some time. You were the only one who thought I would ever sprout up. Guess you always did know what you were talking about. Still skinny though, but I've got a little more meat to me these days (I just lost 20 lbs!). A lot of people even say I'm handsome. And, as much as a primper and a clothes horse as I am, you know that I am certainly more humble (and insecure) than I let on, so I defer those type of judgments to the invested parties. I just say I got it from my momma!

I'm back in school now. You would've asked me what took me so long! I'm trying to be a better student now, but the 50+ hours a week plus the volunteering and a social life (we'll have to dish about that on some other occasion, but you would def like her) are not helping my cause, but I'm doing well just the same. Going for the A this semester, you have my word.

And then there's my work. I'm working for NASA now. I tend not to make as big a deal about it as some other folks (Nyasha!) but I do enjoy it. I'm sure no one would be able to contain your joy at telling people that MY SON (b/c we all know that's how you say it!) works for NASA. As we speak I'm in Moscow helping out for the mission. It's cold over here (you and I were never big fans of the cold), but it's still a good experience.

All in all I'm trying to do good things. One day I will get there. For now, just be patient and hopefully I will make you proud.

One Love.
Your Son,
Tarik Alexander Ward

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yes We Can...

I tend not to offer too much political (or religious) commentary here, but I will make a small exception today.

I am a Barack Obama supporter, for more reasons that I care to get into here. (If you aren't, this is not the forum to tell me why, there are cities full of walls to post complaints and comments on.) I (well one of my roommates actually) decided to show our support by placing a small Obama lawn sign in front of our house. The first night is was up, this happened:


Really?! We're still doing this?

Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback. Vexed, hurt, dumbfounded..the list goes on. To add insult to injury, I posted this picture on my picasa web album and it was promptly flagged and removed due to inappropriate content. Go figure. I suppose my front yard was a more appropriate venue for display.

In an act of civil defiance (and a bit of nerd acumen), we put up a new sign with all of our outdoor security cameras trained on the new sign. Not more than 24 hours later, the sign was stolen. But this time, it was on tape and witnessed by one of our steely eyed neighbors (with multiple drive by goodness and license plate number to boot). Turns out a middle aged woman (whose name will be omitted, for now) decided that the sign was so nice that she had to have it.

After going to a local Obama campaign office and explaining our woes, they gave us this:

Let's see what happens next.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Only in America

This was outside of my home this morning.
It was so offensive, Google wouldn't let me post it on picasa. They will be getting a letter from me. Please forward this on to your friends

Friday, January 18, 2008

Papercuts...

These last few months have been a mixed bag. An accumulation of big and small (and seemingly innocuous) disappointments and few triumphs. I feel like I'm being bled to death by paper cuts.

Anyone that knows me knows that I can be on the wrong side of intense and take things that I shouldn't otherwise very personally. In many contexts, these qualities work against me and get me into way more trouble than is necessary (yes b/c sometimes trouble is necessary). But, in just as many contexts, I think they make me a good person. I have, however, taken measurable steps to temper my zeal so as to quell the daily emotional ebb and flow. It's mostly an intellectual approach, just thinking about my feelings instead of just feeling them (if that makes any sense).

In any event, it is a difficult line to walk. It takes a great deal of introspection, patience, and courage to figure out (or want to figure out) what is worth getting worked up over and what you should let slide (and why). I think all of the "extra" work has made me weary. Lately, I feel as though my daily swings are more pronounced than in recent memory (at least in my own head). The real problem here is a shift in power. Too much influence over my moods has been relinquished back to the universe. I had done a good job reclaiming my independence, but I have ceded ground in recent days. I will continue the battle; for the glass is neither partly full or partly empty, it is simply the wrong glass.

The sad thing is that things are actually going quite well.

In other news my ipod died and is currently in a box back to Apple for repairs (cost me $35! which is bullshit b/c i shouldn't have to pay to have my warranty that is already paid for fulfilled.). This is def my last iPod. I know most of you are shaking your heads like yea right, but I've had it. Apple is up to some evil shit lately (crappy contracts, shady firmware, random price drops, and for pay upgrades). Unless the next gen iphone is nothing short of spectacular (read: 3G connectivity, stereo bluetooth, wireless syncing, double the storage, push mail, flash enabled browser, a camera that took pictures bigger than a postage stamp, car accessories that don't suck, removable battery...the list goes on), I can in good conscience go back to hating everything that is Apple.
But, if anybody is so inclined to buy me an iphone, I will not turn you down.

In running news, I ran my first 5 miles this weekend (well not quite but that's what it was supposed to be)! It wasn't so bad save for the fact that my right foot started to get numb around mile 4 and my left foot is exhibiting signs of plantar faciitis. Based on some stuff that I've read, I may need new shoes (mine currently have about 124 miles on them, not enough to dump them for wear, but my dogs are barking, and a change must be made.) But I am down to 172, that is 13 lbs. down from the hefty 185 I weighed back in September. We'll see what happens as my (half) marathon training picks up and then what happens after I replace most of my running with weight lifting. We shall see.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sometimes...

Sometimes a stranger can be your best friend
Sometimes being angry is the best mood
Sometimes seeing you feel good makes me feel even better
Sometimes hunger is the best food
Sometimes good just ain’t good enough
And other times evil will get you even
Sometimes faith is not knowing any better
Sometimes nothing is what you believe in
Woah...
Sometimes you fail trying
And sometimes happiness hurts worse
Sometimes people live dying
Sometimes it’s the last person that makes you first
Sometimes you’ll keep what you don’t want
And other times you’ll give away what you really need
Sometimes a rich man won’t have a dollar
And all a poor man has is greed
Woah
-Cee-Lo Green

In other news:
  • GMA is having a mac 'n' cheese competition. It has been suggested that I should enter. What do you think?
  • Note to self: If you run a prison, don't let the inmates watch the Shawshank Redemption. It gives them ideas. Damn you TNT!
  • The Wire has started it's 5th and final season. I don't know if it's just me, but there seems to be an over abundance of pundits and critics with entirely too much to say about it. But, i still think it is the best show on television (which by the way is really in the shitter right now. I always used to say that there was nothing on TV, but now there really isn't. And I thought I hated reality shows before, ughhh! I would kill for a new episode of How I Met Your Mother or Scrubs right about now. Oh, and Knight Rider redux?!?!? Desperation at it's worst. And really, a Mustang?! Sorry Josh, but there is nothing about Ford (even the most badass Ford out there) these days that screams high tech. I hope KIT can start on a regular basis!)
  • Quinoa (wikipedia) is the latest addition to my pantry and my newest weapon in my wieghtloss arsenal (which has netted about a 14 lb loss and counting). Even NASA eats it!

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