Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Hour + Some OList Social Announcements

Warning: There is a lot more than just Happy Hour going on in the world of OList Socials this week, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the post!

Happy Hour:

This week, we're slightly changing the format of the OList Happy Hour Menu announcements.  We've started using Google Moderator for people to submit and vote on chat topic suggestions (see your OList email for more details about that).  I like the idea of crowd-sourcing the chat topic from among those who participate in the chats.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Event" Filmed in my Neighborhood

Last night, as I was walking P + T around our neighborhood, I noticed some of those temporary NO PARKING signs posted about, with the forbidden day written in as Thursday.  "Something's afoot," I thought to myself.  Then I spotted some of those rent-a-cop-type security guards hanging around on some of the street corners, and a weird looking line of porta-potties all lined up on a trailer.

I had a very strong suspicion about what was afoot and tweeted:
They're setting up to do some filming on Aldama Ter., between Raphael St + Aldama St. I'll investigate further tomorrow. #90042
Today was a fairly busy day, and I was either engrossed in work or out running around for a lot of it, and completely forgot all about my special assignment until about 4:30.  All at once, I remembered.

Paul and Todd were napping.  "Quick, get your leashes!  We've important investigative work to do!  Something was afoot today, and we may have already missed it!"   They scampered to get their leashes hooked onto their collars and assemble themselves at the front gate, while I stumbled around frantically looking for my keys.

"Look on the kitchen counter under the dish towel!" called Paul to me from the front yard.  "HURRY!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Everything in its Place: TV Edition

Last fall I posted some pictures of the completed stone fireplace surround, which was installed after I left Tennessee.  You can read that post here.

The last image I had of the fireplace, from that post, was this one:

The final design, which had been chosen from a few different variations I had sketched, and discussed with Mr. and Ms. Client, was the sketch below.  If you look carefully, there are a few differences between the sketch and the completed fireplace, but they are minor, and I am pleased, overall, with the result.

The boxy assemblage to the right of the fireplace, in the sketch above, is a wooden cabinet with open compartments for the TV/DVD/satellite components, atop which sits the TV itself.  The idea was to make the little TV cabinet out of leftover mezzanine flooring planks.

Early in December I produced the following sketch, which I sent off to Tennessee, while crossing my fingers and hoping for the best:

Then, lo and behold, in one of the photos from last week's railing update, there it was, sitting quietly in the background:

There it was, my little TV cabinet!  I nearly fell off my chair in excitement!  I think Ms. Client must be getting used to my frantic texts demanding that she immediately drop everything and go photograph this-or-that.

I have to go now - I have to order a bunch of new camera equipment and book a flight to Tennessee!  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Night OLists Happy Hour: Winter Reads

I'm not someone who reads all that much.  Lately, I've been trying to figure out why this is, and make an effort to read more.

In addition to introspecting, I have also consolidated my library into one section of my bedroom, where I have set up both a desk and a comfy reading chair, in an effort to make the whole experience as pleasurable as possible (although the comfy chair can be counter-productive, especially with the close proximity of my bed. Get me too comfy and I want to stretch out.)

I think one reason I have a hard time making the time to read, is that it doesn't really seem like productive activity.  Why sit and read when you could be doing something?!  I realize that this is a complete fallacy, and there is tremendous practical value to be gained from reading.  Part of my new reading effort involves reminding myself of this practical value, and then carefully choosing my titles accordingly.

Last night I made a new discovery about my reading habits, as I was trying, yet again, to get through Tara Smith's Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality.  I was surprised to find a few dogeared pages in the first couple chapters, and realized that I had gotten farther than I had remembered, in my first attempt with this book a few years ago.  Last night was actually the second night in a row with Viable Values and the comfy chair.  The previous night had ended with me stretching out on the bed after being overcome with The Sleepy.  When I saw things headed that same direction last night, I realized I needed to take a different approach.  I stepped metaphorically back and examined what was going on.

The first 3 chapters of this book are very technical (for me, at least) descriptions and refutations of the failure of traditional philosophical underpinnings of the subject of morality.  While I'm sure this material is extremely important from the point of view of scholarship and such, and needs to be there for the book to be taken seriously in academic circles, I'm really mainly interested in the later parts: Chapter 4: Morality's Roots in Life, Chapter 5: Morality's Reward: Flourishing, and Chapter 6: Principled Egoism: The Only Way to Live.

I realized that the only way I was going to get to those chapters was to give myself permission to skip the boring parts.  This idea is somewhat revolutionary for me, and I have a feeling it will end up being very helpful in the long run.  After all, should I discover I've missed some vital concept, I can always go back and read it later.  The words will still be there on the page, that's the beauty of books!

After making this realization, I decided I had put in enough effort and it was ok to stretch out on the bed.

I'll try again with Chapter 4 tonight, and I'll sit at my desk rather than in the comfy chair.

My quest for developing reading as a habit makes me curious of the reading habits of others.  Thus, tonight's topic.

This Week's Menu:
Appetizer:  What are your reading habits?  Meaning: how often do you pick up a book and read, and for how long at a time?  How many different titles do you have going at once?  Do you use an ebook reader or Kindle?  Where do you learn about new books that interest you?
Drink Special:  What titles are you reading now, what have you recently finished, and what is on your reading list?  What stands out that you would recommend?  What do you not recommend?

Happy Hour Mechanics:

Happy Hour takes place in the OList Chatroom, every Tuesday night, from 9-10 p.m. Eastern and 6-7 p.m. Pacific.

Point your browser to  You will be asked for a login and password - check your OList email for these.

You will see the chat window that looks like this:

On the right is the list of users participating; on the left is the chat itself.  At the bottom, you have the option of logging in through your facebook account, or as a guest.  If you log in through facebook, it will pull your profile picture into the list next to your name, which is a nice feature.

For general information on the OLists Socials, check out the OList Events page here.

Your hosts for the OList Socials are @DianaHsieh@laforgetm (aka William Green) and myself, @Earl3d

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tennessee House Update: Railings Installed!

Last week the railings were delivered back to the site, having finally been powder coated.  The powder coating was an ordeal unto itself.

The powder coating shop I took them to, back in October, was 25 miles away in another town.  The proprietor of that establishment (if you can call it that) left them sitting in his shop untouched, shut the door, disconnected the phone, and ceased operations one day, without warning.  There they sat, languishing, for several weeks.  Finally, Bob the Builder (our contractor) realized what had happened, interviewed the neighboring business owners, tracked him down, and got the unfinished railings back.  Three cheers for Bob the Builder!

A couple weeks ago, we found a reputable shop further away, in Maryville, Tennessee, and they seem to have done a good job, at least from what I can tell by these pictures:

This morning, I got a teaser photo from Ms. Client of the railings installed:

Makes me very excited to go see them in person!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Night OLists Happy Hour: Habits of Excellence

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle

Tonight in OLists Happy Hour, we are going to discuss Habits of Excellence, inspired by this quote from Aristotle.

Tennessee House Update: Kitchen

Here we are, well into the New Year, and it's been far too long since I've updated anything on the status of the Tennessee House.  My last update was back in November.   In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, there wasn't a huge amount of activity on the project - and things progressed slowly over the holidays.  It has mainly been finishing up painting and trim on the inside, and also painting the outside.

One major component that got installed just before Thanksgiving was the kitchen cabinets.

I haven't shared many of my design drawings for this house on the blog, but I'll show you what I drew up for the kitchen, and then some pictures, courtesy of Ms. Client.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tuesday Night OLists Happy Hour: Household Productivity

During last week's Happy Hour, while we were discussing goals and projects for the new year, a side conversation came up between some parents in the group.  It had to do with trying to be productive with repetitive household tasks and such, in order to leave more time for various projects and things that really matter.

There was some discussion of the Getting Things Done system, and then Rose remarked, "...I was wondering if support for organizing housework should be some threads on OProducers..or OGrownups...kind of an overlap."

That was when the lightbulb upstairs went on, alerting me that whenever there is talk of overlap between Olist groups, it's a topic that should be developed, dissected, and discussed in detail at Happy Hour.