Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Set Goals with an Uberlist

It's hard to believe that 2009 is nearly over. Of course, I tend to feel that way most years around this time. Realizing the things I *meant* to do this year but never did is part of the shock of the year being over. Some things are practical (renewing my passport in my married name); others are just fun (going to the zoo, going to a restaurant I've been meaning to try).

I think I have more uncompleted items this year because I didn't make an uberlist for 2009. I didn't know how many other goals I'd have time to achieve after my unwritten to do items of

  • birthing a baby and
  • keeping him alive.

But after succeeding with both items (!) I feel confident with challenging myself with an uberlist again for 2010.

What's an uberlist? It's a list of goals for the year. The goals span multiple areas of life and range from a few hours of commitment to resolution-esque major life improvements.

The uberlist is an idea I borrowed from some friends a few years ago. I find the list better than a New Year's resolution in a number of ways. It is a documented list. Whether on paper or in a spreadsheet an uberlist is a contract with yourself as opposed to a resolution which is often only spoken and often only when asked, while drunk, at a New Year's Eve party. Putting goals into words tends to lead to more concrete items rather than resolutions which can often be very abstract (i.e. "get healthy"). Also, by having multiple goals I avoid putting all my self-improvement into one resolution basket that is likely to dissolve by mid-January. Plus, I get to enhance my life as a whole rather than pick on one perceived flaw.

So, how do you create an uberlist?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Give the gift of digitalization (or the opposite)

Homemade gifts are nice during the holidays, but those who don't have the talents of a budding etsy entrepreneur may feel that shopping is the only option. Heck, even if you can knit/paint/sew/craft like a fiend, it's a little late now to pursue much of that as gift options. However, if you have a computer you can use it to create gifts (and not just to buy them online). Of course, you can give the gift of links to your favorite web sites, but for something a bit more generous you can offer to digitize things someone already has. Conversely, if someone is completely digital you can transfer their assets back to a physical form.

Offering to transfer things a person owns into a digital archive gives him or her greater portability and insurance against loss. To choose an appropriate gift you do need to know something about what a person has and values, but the time involved in any of these gifts means that you'd be unlikely to give them to someone to whom you aren't close. Here are some ideas:

Monday, December 14, 2009

10 Favorite Websites

I had no idea what to get you for Christmas, so stealing an idea from Roger Ebert, I’m giving you the gift of websites I love that you may have never heard of. Since I’m in a stealing mood, I’ll steal a line from Oprah that she stole from Julie Andrews: These are a few of my favorite things! (And although etiquette says that a gift requires nothing more than a thank you in return, I'd love if you want to recommend other websites in the comments.)

Staggering Works of genius

1. Roger Ebert http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/
Due to his battle with cancer Roger Ebert can no longer speak or eat, but thankfully he can still write. I grew up watching his movie reviews, which he continues to do online, but his journal is where the best stuff is posted: profound and witty commentaries on a wide variety of subjects. He’s also a must follow on Twitter @ebertchicago.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Give Gifts not Garbage

Regarding gifts, some say it’s the thought that counts, but they usually don’t say that unless they’re referencing a terrible gift. Regardless, whether it’s the thought or the gift that matters few would say it’s the wrapping that’s most important. Sure you might comment on the lovely wrapping when you first see a gift , but will you be talking months from now about the beautiful wrapping paper? No. You’re going to be talking about how great the gift was or how it was a very nice thought. So why spend the extra money and add more trash to the planet to wrap things up in shiny paper and decadent gift bags?

Below are four ways to avoid conventional wrapping paper. All promote recycling. Many will save you money. None require arts and craft skills. (Sure you could use paint or stamps to make things fancier, but you don’t need to unless you are especially motivated.)

1. Detour something on its way to the recycle bin

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hosting and Dietary Restrictions

Whether for healthy, religious, ethical, political or allergy reasons, it seems like there are limitless possibilities for what people won't eat. But as a host you can serve whatever you want, right? Well, sort of. It's your party and you can fry what you want to, but a good host also tries to make her guests feel welcome. Here are some tips for being a considerate host without having to act as short order cook.

As a host you need to accept that vegetarianism (not eating meat) is pretty common nowadays, as a result you should always include meatless items in your menu. The only exception a small sit down dinner party where you know all the guests are omnivores. However, when serving a crowd you should plan on there being at least one vegetarian. Luckily, this is one of the easiest restrictions to accommodate.

First, make vegetables vegetarian. We omnivores sometimes use bacon like a seasoning, which can result in many dishes that feature vegetables but aren't vegetarian. Indulge your pork addiction in close company, but when serving a crowd leave the meat out of anything that features vegetables. Don't forget to replace any chicken or beef broth used in the preparation.