Sunday, July 29, 2007

Outlook/Exchange and GTD

For years everyone at my university has been told to use Eudora for email, because Microsoft Outlook was too prone to viruses. Then they hired a new vice president for computing and suddenly we are all being changed to Outlook 2007 with an Exchange Server (which means our mailboxes are stored on the server, something that we used to do but were told a year ago was no longer the policy).

I'm actually happier with Outlook than I expected. There are certainly things that aren't as convenient, but I love being able to flag emails that I need to respond to.

A couple of months ago I started using Google Calendar, and it has really paid off because it makes it possible for my husband and I to share our calendars with each other. I know at least he has the information (whether he will remember is another matter). I quickly found that I was having trouble keeping Google calendar matching the Daytimer I have used for over 20 years. So I bought an inexpensive PDA, a Palm Z22, and CompanionLink for Google Calendar software that allows me to synchronize the Palm, my Google Calendar, and Outlook (two at a time, not all three at once).

I'm struck by how the change from a Daytimer to a PDA is like the change from an analog to a digital watch. I resisted changing to a digital watch because the analog watch gave me a bigger picture--when you look at the minute hand it gives an intuitive picture of how long until the next hour. But I finally switched to a digital watch because I wanted the other features--I use my chronometer, timer, and three alarms. Similarly, I miss the big picture of my schedule the Daytimer gave me, but I like the new features of the PDA, such as alarms, and the smaller size.

The calendar change has inspired me to focus on getting more organized this summer. I'm partially using the Getting Things Done approach. I'm not interested in the system of folders, but given the opportunity provided by a new email program I'm trying out keeping my in box empty. I do think writing everything down is what I need. I'm using Simple GTD software so I can keep several to do lists (one for work and one for home is most obvious) and have one step of a project on the list. Now I have to get better about doing the things on my to do lists.

For something entirely different, read The Song of Myself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


My son had a little more than a day off between sessions of the sleepaway camp where he is a junior counselor, and so rather than drive 3 hours each way back and forth we stayed in Aiken. I took my bike down there and had a nice bike ride this morning, then went to buy a 25 lb. basket of peaches, then we packed up the car and headed to the camp.

I was going to take a fairly straightforward route to the camp, but using a road I hadn't taken this visit. I forgot it jogs going out of town, and I realized after driving a while that I wasn't on the right road and had ended up much too far south. So I headed north again and was pleased to see Wire Road, which is the road the camp is on. The trouble was, I started following Wire Road and after a while we came to a Y and neither of the roads going forward was labeled as Wire Road. I thought maybe the sign was turned or confusing and so I kept going on what I thought was the same road, but after following it a long ways through open country with no place to stop and ask directions, I finally decided it must be wrong and turned back. After going a long ways back we came to a tiny convenience store at an intersection and they gave me the wrong camp. I thought we might be on the right road but I wasn't sure which way to go on that road. I asked a boy outside his house and he told me to go left (and said he wasn't sure). The way he suggested was towards town and I decided that was the safer direction. Looking at the map we would have gotten to the camp by going right, but it would have been another 5 miles or so of nothing and I don't think I would have had that much confidence. I was in tears of frustration. I didn't have the camp phone number to call and ask directions from the other camp, and I couldn't reach my husband to have him look it up for me on the internet. So we drove much of the way back to town until we met up with a road labeled as taking us to the interstate, from which I could find the camp. We were an hour late--what was supposed to be a half hour drive took an hour and a half.

Driving home after that and after dropping my son off, the mural in Saluda NC struck me as tragic:

(click on the picture for a larger version)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

catching my breath

I actually have to go to Aiken for a couple of days next week, because my son gets a short break from being a junior counselor at a camp and it isn't worth a three hour drive each way there and back to bring him home for one day. Still, the big traveling is done and I feel like I'm beginning to catch my breath. A lot to do, though I'm through the part of my online course where I had to prepare material relating to a new book. Now the grading has hit.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thoreau Society Session

I had organized a session for the meeting on using the Life with Principle DVD. The original plan was that two teachers were going to talk about using the DVD in quite different classrooms, with hopefully some students adding their voices, and I would just chair the session. But both teachers had to back out and the program organizer didn't want us to cancel the session, so my daughter and I decided we would do something on our own.

I couldn't speak directly to how the video went over in my daughters classroom and I hadn't used it myself, so instead I talked about the history of Montessori schools to make the point that a Montessori classroom was a particularly good fit for Thoreau's ideas. I didn't find any direct connections, but there are some correspondences, particularly an emphasis on individual self-realization. Montessori sounds rather like Thoreau when she writes:
But if for the physical life it is necessary to have the child exposed to the vivifying forces of nature, it is also necessary for his psychical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature. The method for arriving at this end is to set the child at agricultural labor, guiding him in the cultivation of plants and animals, and so to the intelligent contemplation of nature. (The Montessori Method ch. 10)
My daughter then talked about what happened in her classroom and we used quotes from other students to start discussion. There were clearly a group of people glad of a chance to talk about education.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


My daugther and I are in Concord for the annual gathering of the Thoreau Society. Actually, today we made a big shopping trip to buy her things for boarding school, but tomorrow we are on the program. I had a lovely run this morning on the battle road. Tomorrow I plan to do the triathletes 6 am swim across Walden Pond.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Back to Bozeman

Yesterday there was a doe with two fawns outside our cabin when I got up:

We spent the day driving the 350 miles back to Bozeman. It made for a long day, and with record high temperatures (107 in Bozeman, 100 in Helena). We stopped at a Museum of the Plains Indian and at a dinosaur museum:

(Click on the picture to see it whole--if part of it is getting cut off by the sidebar.) The dinosaur museum looks like a Mom and Pop operation, but it is actually a fairly serious research center based around the Two Medicine site where the first dinosaur nest (showing that dinosaurs cared for their young) was found. The Wikipedia story doesn't credit the local woman who found the nest: Marion Brandvold.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

We had formal tea the first afternoon at the Prince of Wales Hotel, visible on the right hand side below

We are staying at a nicer place than in Babb, but it isn't special looking, it is that we have a cabin with a kitchen. The town is full of what they call nuisance deer, though this one was near where we got off the boat:

Today we took the boat

to the end of the lake with views like this:

and then hiked back 8 or 9 miles to town. It was called the Lakeshore trail, but it went up above the lake a good bit. We crossed the border on foot:
There was some minimal immigration control by rangers at the boat landing (though it is 30 miles to the nearest road on the U.S. side) but nothing at the border but a couple of posts and a line cut in the trees.

Glacier National Park

Glacier is amazing--this picture is from a hike we took at Logan Pass, at the top of Going to the Sun Road. Most of the hike was on slushy snow.

After driving Going to the Sun Road we stayed in the little town of Babb, population less than 50.

The picture below is loose horses hanging out outside the Babb Fire Station.

Our motel was in a similar style--check in at the general store next door.

For our second day we drove into the Many Glacier area and spent the day hiking there

Yes, that is a moose in the lake.