Thursday, August 16, 2018

Productivity tools for each project size range

Not all To Do list apps or tools are created equal. Not all projects are either for that matter.

I find I have three tiers of sizes for projects I try to accomplish: small, medium, and large.

Small projects are those that can be done in one sitting, and usually I can aim for getting them done in a specific day. Often they're anything from a momentary do-it-quickly project or item up to a few hours. Many of these come up on a repeat basis.

Reminders for iOS is intended to be a tool for this kind of project, but it has not worked for me for several reasons. For repeating items, it was not fast and it was not reliable. I found I could not count on it to regenerate completed repeating items as I had specified especially on a timely basis. Badge notifications for only past due items also seemed a bit backwards. I still use the app for a shopping list, but that's about it.

For small recurring projects, I have found Swipes to be the most useful for small and frequently recurring daily tasks. Their ingenious innovation is that by definition every item entered in the app has a due date this took a little adjustment at first, but it's quite powerful in terms of mentally engaging in a specific timeline for completing everything. Badge notifications are for things to be done now. In terms of its swipe actions on items for snoozing or completion, when I first started using it I would have reversed what the right and left motions do, but it's familiar and natural now.

I can't put a timeline on every project, though, so on to other tools.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Flight of Richard Russell

Richard Russell's last day was a culmination of unmet desires.

The aviation world is the hub of activity at the pinnacle of society. Russell lived near the bottom of that culture. He was not a pilot. He was not a mechanic. He was a baggage handler. At 29 years old, to be useful for nothing more than manual labor in a high-end economy is not an encouraging place to be.

He mentioned the minimum wage. Just this year Seattle's minimum wage went up to $15 per hour. The higher the minimum wage goes, the closer everyone is to what society calls the bottom. The further down the income range one is, the more acutely this denigration is felt.

He had played some video games, and given his ability to get a real airliner off the ground and “do a couple maneuvers” in the air, he may have also had practice with flight simulator software. His mentions of regurgitation and being light-headed show there is more to real flying than he expected.

He told flight controllers, “I hope this doesn't ruin your day” and he was glad they were working to make sure he wasn't “screwing up everyone else's day on account of me.”

A good day is when everyone comes out alive, and Richard did not, so Friday was not a good day for the flight controllers. The travel plans of many others were disrupted, but their day did not end as badly as Richard's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is Taxation Theft?

Underlying this question is one of legitimacy. Is taxation legitimate? Is government legitimate?

First, I would ask, “What does the Word of God have to say about that question?” The classic go-to passage in the New Testament on government and law is Romans 13. It specifically mentions taxes twice: “because of this you also pay taxes” (13:6) and “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due” (13:7). Jesus also condoned paying taxes. Combine this with theft being prohibited, and one can reasonably conclude, no, not all taxes are theft.

A question remains: Could some taxation be theft? If government acts beyond purposes described for any government in Scripture, could taxes to fund those activities be theft?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Technology & Gratitude

Yesterday a friend mentioned how he often uses Siri, and he's inclined to say “Thank you” afterwards, but then wonders, What's the point in saying “Thank you” to an algorithm? Is it possible technology can make us ungrateful?

I think that's very much a thing. There's a strong ethos in the technology world that if technology can do something, then technology should do something. The language of should is not the language of thanks.

Ethical questions have centered on whether or not the end justifies the means. Technology flips this on its head leaving us to ask if the means justify the end. Just because technology can do something (the means) does that mean it should (the end)?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Rainy Reflections

I find rainy days to be the most useful for reflecting. I first thank God, in Jesus' name, for shelter and windows whereby rain can be more enjoyable than a nuisance.

Interestingly it was sunny earlier this afternoon. While I was working in a bright sunny office, a couple alerts popped up on my phone about my area being under a severe storm watch for the next 24 hours, and a flood watch for the next 9 hours. The contrast was striking. I looked up the weather radar for the area, and sure enough, stormy weather was not far away and was getting closer.

As I was walking to my car, I got to thinking about how God gives us warnings like that, too. To us, everything may look fine, but despite appearances, not far away danger is lurking.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

I grew up in a patriotic home. We loved our country. With grandparents who had fought in World War II, the greatest generation taught our parents respect for the flag and “the republic for which it stands.” They in turn passed that on to us.

This disposition toward country flourished in a church that was in no way exclusive to the U. S. of A., but had both domestic and foreign missions efforts. That thriving church that founded Awana was also instrumental in founding and recruiting for New Tribes Mission, now Ethnos360, an organization dedicated to doing as Jesus said, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), and “you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

There is nothing about the love of Jesus that is exclusive to one country. Neither does loving one's country mean that one cannot also love other people in other countries. One can both be grateful for what God has given in the land of one's birth or adopted country, and also see all people in every land and nation as created in the image of God and needing to hear the Good News of Jesus.

One other note on patriotism: While God has created all men equal, not all governments are equal. Some governments recognize the inherent desire for freedom in the spirit of man, and others do not. The 20th Century saw a great contrast between a flourishing nation built on and expanding on principles of freedom, and other nations under the oppressive and encroaching regimes of communism around the world. The contrast was stark and clear, and to love this country was to be grateful to be alive and free.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Social Media Reading

Reading online and reading a book are fundamentally different experiences. The words may be from the same language and even on the same topic, but the user experience is different in both purpose and result.

A social media feed is built to be a stream of content with no end—keep users on the site as long as possible. The underlying purpose of reading on social media is driven by fear of missing out. It's a strategy tilted more in favor of the company than the reader.

A physical book, on the other hand, has a clearly-defined end. There's no fear I'll miss what it has to say as I know I will reach everything eventually if I keep reading.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Semantics

I like words. I like being precise with words, too.

Sometimes people have accused me of parsing too finely to the point where a clarification I think is important is reduced to “semantics.” I don't like that word, especially when it's used that way.

Here's the way I see it. If a difference in language represents a difference in meaning, then the language difference is more than just a semantic difference, but is a meaningful important difference. If the meaning doesn't change at all, then sure, it's just semantics. A couple examples:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reverence for the Word

I had a good conversation with a friend today who is working on a book. One of the themes we touched on is one we've covered often: How the Word of God applies to all areas of life, or as I prefer to put it, We can apply our whole life and every area of it to God's Word.

We were discussing how many people don't believe this these days, and we weren't just talking about non-believers either. Even among Bible-believing professing Christians who adhere to doctrines like the inspiration of Scripture, there is not always an embrace of the idea that the Bible is practical for all things. All things should be in subjection to God's Word. Nothing exists without God's Word. God is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).

As we were talking, I wondered if Christians don't completely believe the Bible does apply to all things because they're not sure it can apply to all things. One more step back from that: Do Christians fail to believe the Bible can apply to everything because they lack reverence for the Word of God?

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