Pandemic Post 1 :: Vegetable Garden

Today, I dug out my new vegetable garden. I’m not sure how many plants I’ll actually put in, but I dug out a plot that is 6 feet by 17 feet. That gives me 7 rows spaced about 20 inches apart. Since I’m just one person eating these veggies, I think that’ll be way more than enough.

I put the garden plot way out near the back of the yard because that spot gets sun most of the day.

My wallet is about $70 lighter because I had to buy some chicken wire to keep the critters out (mostly to keep Endo out), a 75′ soaker hose, and some cardboard planters to start a few of my plants indoors. When I pulled up to Lowe’s I was surprised by the line out front. And, I was a bit shocked at how few people were wearing masks.  Note, I know it looks like these people were standing very close together, but I assure you that it is due to the angle and the lens. Everyone was keeping safe distance.

Among the plants that I’m starting indoors are 2 different types of tomatoes, 2 types of peppers, and a whole tray of strawberries. I’m not sure where I’ll put the strawberries. I think I may end up building a planter-box that I can keep on the deck.

These are the plants that will go in the ground once the rain has passed us… probably on Friday.

10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral

From Chris Anderson – curator of TED.com

1. Respect Recipients’ Time
This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.
2. Short or Slow is not Rude
Let’s mutually agree to cut each other some slack. Given the email load we’re all facing, it’s OK if replies take a while coming and if they don’t give detailed responses to all your questions. No one wants to come over as brusque, so please don’t take it personally. We just want our lives back!
3. Celebrate Clarity
Start with a subject line that clearly labels the topic, and maybe includes a status category [Info], [Action], [Time Sens] [Low Priority]. Use crisp, muddle-free sentences. If the email has to be longer than five sentences, make sure the first provides the basic reason for writing. Avoid strange fonts and colors.
4. Quash Open-Ended Questions
It is asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by “Thoughts?”. Even well-intended-but-open questions like “How can I help?” may not be that helpful. Email generosity requires simplifying, easy-to-answer questions. “Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying right out of it?!”
5. Slash Surplus cc’s
cc’s are like mating bunnies. For every recipient you add, you are dramatically multiplying total response time. Not to be done lightly! When there are multiple recipients, please don’t default to ‘Reply All’. Maybe you only need to cc a couple of people on the original thread. Or none.
6. Tighten the Thread
Some emails depend for their meaning on context. Which means it’s usually right to include the thread being responded to. But it’s rare that a thread should extend to more than 3 emails. Before sending, cut what’s not relevant. Or consider making a phone call instead.
7. Attack Attachments
Don’t use graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments. Time is wasted trying to see if there’s something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could have been included in the body of the email.
8. Give these Gifts: EOM NNTR
If your email message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by EOM (= End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with “No need to respond” or NNTR, is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve wide adoption.
9. Cut Contentless Responses
You don’t need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying “Thanks for your note. I’m in.” does not need you to reply “Great.” That just cost someone another 30 seconds.
10. Disconnect!
If we all agreed to spend less time doing email, we’d all get less email! Consider calendaring half-days at work where you can’t go online. Or a commitment to email-free weekends. Or an ‘auto-response’ that references this charter. And don’t forget to smell the roses.

Acknowledge Three Positives

In 2019, I added to my daily journal entries by recording three positive things that happened or occurred to me on that day.  I don’t know if anyone besides me will find value in this, but in the case that I might inspire someone else to add this to their mindset, I offer my 2019 positives list…

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2019 Things I Learned

Every year for the past… ummm… wow, it’s been a lot of years. The first of those lists was from 2014 and it’s still the last post on my previous blog site.  The lists started because the radio program that I listen to most mornings ends their daily broadcast with “what we learned”. They go around the room to each of the hosts and get a funny remark/synopsis of the day’s funny happenings.  Mine sort of started off that way. Then, they got more personal and meaningful.  Here’s my list for 2019. Many of these only have meaning to me. Some have been redacted because they were too personal or could expose me to issues that I’d rather not face in public yet… or ever.

You may notice a “Work Week” row in there, too. Each week, on Friday, I write down a few things that I accomplished at work that week. Then, when it comes to annual review time, I have 45 or so entries to look at instead of combing through a year’s worth of emails trying to figure out what the fuck I actually accomplished. It works great. And, if you have a weekly catch-up with your boss, it’s great to bring up to him/her during that call. Your weekly catch-up becomes 30 minutes of you bragging about what you accomplished.

This year, in addition to recording a “thing I learned” each day, I also added three positive things/thoughts to my daily recordings.  This was something that I adopted from my friend Catrina. Not sure exactly how it came about or how she uses it, I just know that she was my inspiration (as she often is). I may post that list too. I’ll have to see how much of it is too personal to share when I review it.

More after the break…

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Tim the Letter Carrier

I’ve never tipped a postal worker before. I’ve never felt the need to. They deliver the mail. That’s their job, right? Why should I give that person a tip? Their wages aren’t predicated on receiving tips. The mail isn’t going to make it into my mailbox in a better fashion or more timely if I tip them. So… why bother?

This year was different. This year, my letter carrier, Tim, has gone the extra mile – so to speak. He comes to my mailbox every day regardless of whether or not there’s anything for me in the post. He does this because Endo makes a big stink about it. Endo loves USPS employees. It started with Nick, my previous letter carrier. Nick would stop and talk to me and give Endo treats whenever he would see me out working on the van (RIP) or the trailer (more on that after it warms up a bit). When Nick bid for, and got a better route, we had subs/temps for a few weeks before Tim took over the route full time. To continue the treat offerings routine, I asked Tim if he would take a treat that I had left out on top of the mailbox and tuck it under the lid for Endo. This way, Endo gets treats; Endo continues the positive relationship with the USPS; and, Tim wouldn’t have to spend his own money on treats for my dog. Apparently most letter carriers carry treats in the bags for the good dogs on their routes.

Since then, Continue reading