7 Rules for Dialogue

1. Dialogue should be brief.

2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.

3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.

4. It should convey a sense of spontaneity but eliminate the repetitiveness of real talk.

5. It should keep the story moving forward.

6. It should be revelatory of the speaker’s character, both directly and indirectly.

7. It should show the relationships among people.

ELIZABETH BOWEN 


7 Rules for Dialogue

Libra Horoscope for week of November 10, 2011 During the reign of President George W. Bush, many Americans viewed France as being insufficiently sympathetic with American military might. So enraged were some conservatives that they tried to change the name of French fries to freedom fries and French toast to freedom toast. The culminating moment in this surrealistic exercise came when Bush told UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, “The French don’t even have a word for entrepreneur” – unaware that “entrepreneur” is a word the English language borrowed from the French. The moral of the story, as far as you’re concerned, Libra: Make sure you know the origins of everyone and everything you engage with, especially as they affect your ability to benefit from entrepreneurial influences.

The funny thing is, no one’s really hiding the secret of how to make awesome online communities. Give people something cool to do and a way to talk to each other, moderate a little bit, and your job is done. Games like Eve Online or WoW have developed entire economies on top of what’s basically a message board. MetaFilter, Reddit, LiveJournal and SA all started with a couple of buttons and a textfield and have produced some fascinating subcultures. And maybe the purest (!) example is 4chan, a Lord of the Flies community that invents all the stuff you end up sharing elsewhere: image macros, copypasta, rage comics, the lolrus. The data model for 4chan is three fields long - image, timestamp, text.

Now tell me one bit of original culture that’s ever come out of Facebook.

The Social Graph is Neither (Pinboard Blog)

A truly amazing, enlightening, provocative post from Maciej Ceglowski. No single quotation can do it justice. Read it, please, and get a sense of what it would really take to achieve a mapping of our online social lives.

(via ayjay)

Lyanda Lynn Haupt / Crow Planet / household spiders

“Claire knows our household spiders freakishly well. She names them all: currently we have Abigail behind the front door, Puddles in the bathroom, and a wandering Fiona. Claire monitors their webs, diagrams their whereabouts, and worries over their diets. She wonders whether it is ethical to toss an insect Abigail’s way if it seems none are finding their way to her web themselves. She puts up notes to reroute guests if their ramblings might disturb one of our arachnid roommates. She knows our household spiders every bit as well as I know the neighborhood crows, and I’m impressed with her studies.”


Lyanda Lynn Haupt / Crow Planet / household spiders

Carve Out Time for What’s Important

This is one of the rules that has served me well, as a Program Manager at Microsoft:  Carve out time for what’s important.

You don’t have time, you make time. If you don’t make time for what’s important, it doesn’t happen. This is where The Rule of Three helps. Are you spending the right amount of time today on those three results you want to accomplish? The default pattern is to try and fit them in with all your existing routines. A more powerful approach is to make time for your three results today and optimize around that. This might mean disrupting other habits and routines you have, but this is a good thing. The more you get in the habit of making time for what’s important, the more you’ll get great results. If you’re not getting the results you want, you can start asking better questions. For example, are you investing enough time? Are you investing the right energy? Are you using the right approach? Or, maybe a different thing happens. Maybe you start accomplishing your results but don’t like what you get. You can step back and ask whether you’re choosing the right outcomes for The Rule of Three.

Here are some things to think about when you’re carving out your time:

  • How much time minimum should you spend today for each of your three outcomes?
  • How much time maximum should you spend today for each of your three outcomes?
  • Are you spending too much energy in below the line activities? (This is where you’re just treading water and making it through each day, but not actually getting ahead.)
  • Are you spending enough time in above the line activities? (This is where you feel you’re on top of your day and investing your time where you get the most impact.)
  • Are you investing time in the most important Hot Spots in your life: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, fun?

This is a tip from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way (now on a Kindle), a time management system for achievers.  You can test drive the system by taking the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results, a free time management training course.


Carve Out Time for What’s Important

If you acknowledge all this resistance and act on your plan anyway, you will make one of the most liberating discoveries possible for a human being—that you can take constructive action in any moment no matter what you feel, and no matter what excuses occur to you.

In short, you are free. Thoughts come and go. Feelings arise and fade. But none of them need to stop you from living a meaningful life based on your values.

Sometimes we do find the words to express an idea, and only then realize what a stupid idea it is. This experience would suggest that our thoughts are not as clean and beautiful as we would like to believe. Instead of blaming language for failing to capture our thoughts, maybe we should thank it for giving some shape to the muddle in our heads.

Using Keyboard Maestro to fix Safari 5.1 keyboard dumbnesses

Part of a keyboard containing Insert, Home, Pa...

The MikeBook has been receiving tons of app upgrades due to Lion (haven't upgraded yet; waiting a few months for the bugs to shake out).

In general, the app upgrades have caused no problem except for Safari, which disabled the Page Up, Page Down, Home and End keys. I mean...what?? Sorry, Apple, but I don't have a Magic Trackpad, and I still use my quaint little keyboard to navigate through my web pages.

Fortunately, a poster to this thread on the Apple support forum provided the secret handshake:

  • COMMAND UP ARROW takes you to top of page
  • COMMAND DOWNARROW takes you to bottom of page
  • OPTION UPARROW takes you up a page
  • OPTION DOWNARROW takes you down a page

So, using the wonderfulness that is Keyboard Maestro, I remapped my Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys to the above keystrokes. Now, I can use my keyboard the way God (and not Apple) intended.

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Vivian Maier

In 2007, John Maloof ran across a storage locker at a thrift auction house that contained over 100,000 negatives of pictures. The photos spanned the years from the 1950s–1990s and were primarily urban scenes of Chicago and New York. Maloof began posting the pictures on a blog and dug into the life of the woman who had taken these pictures: Vivian Maier. It took a lot of detective work, but it turned into a labor of love for Maloof, who has parlayed his interest in Maier and her photos into a handsome site, exhibitions, a film, and a book.

I particularly love her urban photos, seemingly taken on the fly, the sort of thing you might see yourself as you briskly walk past a street person or sightseers or a woman talking on a telephone. They’re wonderfully evocative of a different place and time.

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Everything You Want, You Already Have « Books for Behavior Change

Hoffman explains the nature of his work by offering an extended analogy. In the process, he deftly summarizes a lot of Eastern spiritual teachings.

Unfortunately, the clip omits Hoffman’s concluding line—one that throws the premise of many self-help books into question. Here’s that line:

“When you get the blanket thing, you can relax, because everything you could ever want or be, you already have and are.”

That statement might be a profound paradox—or pure nonsense. What do you think?


Everything You Want, You Already Have « Books for Behavior Change

A Flapper's Dictionary

Ran across this delightful post from a used bookseller in Pennsylvania. He acquired the July 1922 edition of Flapper magazine and reproduced an uncredited article that listed phrases and jargon that, while probably quite cheeky at the time, seem quaint and amusing now. It’s fun working out the chain of associations that lead from the slang to the definition.

I wonder really how old the writer of the article was; I smell a fuddy-duddy who wants to appeal to the “with-it” generation. I could imagine a Beatnik or Hippie dictionary article of the same stripe.

Some of my favorites:

  • Cancelled Stamp—A wallflower.
  • Embalmer—A bootlegger.
  • Eye Opener—A marriage.
  • Father Time—Any man over 30 years of age.
  • Strike Breaker—A young woman who goes with her friend’s “Steady” while there is a coolness.
  • Rock of Ages—Any woman over 30 years of age.
  • Meringue—Personality.
  • Lallygagger—A young man addicted to attempts at hallway spooning.
  • Houdini—To be on time for a date.
  • Smith Brothers—Guys who never cough up.

 


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Why goal setting doesn't work | Psychology Today

L.A. King and C.M. Burton in an article entitled, The Hazards of Goal Pursuit, for the American Psychological Association, argue that goals should be used only in the narrowest of circumstances: “The optimally striving individual ought to endeavor to achieve and approach goals that only slightly implicate the self; that are only moderately important, fairly easy, and moderately abstract; that do not conflict with each other, and that concern the accomplishment of something other than financial gain.”


Why goal setting doesn’t work | Psychology Today

Sitcom Geek: Script Competitions

If you can write - and you also write a superb script (not the same thing) - producers will want to meet you and stuff will happen. It’s all about the script. Don’t sell it short. Don’t let it go off half-cock. Plan it. Mull it. Research it. Filter it. Replan it. Write it. Rewrite it. Edit it. Put it to one side. Forget it. Then get it out. Read it. Re-read it. Edit it. Then put in some more jokes. Then cut some of them out. And check it over again. It might then be ready to send.

It takes ages. Even if you’re talented. Perhaps the proliferation of competitions gives people the idea that anyone can have a go because writing is easy. It is true that anyone can have a go. But it isn’t easy. I’ve been doing it for over ten years professionally and only now am I starting to think I might have the beginnings of a clue as to what I’m doing. But I do know this. Talent is fine. But there is no substitute for hard work.


Sitcom Geek: Script Competitions

Fibonacci sonnets

I have lately been enjoying a blog by Austin, TX artist/writer Austin Kleon, and have been happily plundering his archives for posts on sketching, storytelling, art, and the like.

I was charmed by this post: Writing The Fibonacci Sonnet. It's a neat little writing trick that uses the Fibonacci numbers (1,1,2,3,5,8, 13, 21) to create short short stories with sentences that have one word, one word, two words, three words, and so on. Kind of like haiku, except counting the words in the sentences instead of the syllables.

It also reminds me of the poet Jonathan Williams' dotty "meta-four" poems, where each line only had four words. An example of one of his meta-four poems in this Guardian UK obit. Here's a meta-four from another appreciation of Williams:

estimated acres of forest

henry david thoreau burned

down in 1844 trying

to cook fish he'd

caught for dinner 300