Finally, at long last…

Scin Karetyr, CL90 Commando. Finally. The long grind is over….and I can’t help but think, now what? So, let’s review those goals:

Goal Update

Major Goal #1: Hit CL90 with Scin. Done!

Major Goal #2: Acquire a Vigo. No progress.

Major Goal #3: Imperial Army space wing. No new progress.

Minor Goal #1: Finish the Rare Weapons Collections. Got two new items for the Rare Melee Weapons III collection.

Minor Goal #2: Fuura Hengwen, Shipwright. No progress, and I’m seriously considering just staying a Domestics trader.


So. Now Major Goals #2 and #3 become #1 and #2, and Minor Goal #2 is scrapped in light of the fact that I’m just enjoying Domestics too much. I’ll have to work more on my major goals, it seems.

I should also mention that I’m working on a machinima movie for my guild, the Imperial Army. That could be considered a Major Project rather than a goal, as it’s an ongoing and very long-term process.

Once in awhile: a recipe

Today, I’m going to do something a little different. I had a post about chivalry and conscience nearly complete, but instead I think I’ll present something a little lighter….a recipe, and its origins.

Called “Watergate Salad,” it’s not really a salad in the traditional sense. Since I’m not feeling too well, my girlfriend made up a batch for me. It’s not healthy in any sense, but it does indulge my sweet tooth!

Here’s the recipe:

Watergate Salad

  • 1 can (15.5-20 oz) crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 bag mini-marshmallows
  • 1/2 tub light Cool Whip (or similar)
  • 1 package instant pistachio pudding (I prefer Jello brand)

Just mix all ingredients together and serve! Must be refrigerated and covered for storage.

Watergate salad is a variation on “ambrosia salad,” a dessert dish that appears to have originated sometime during the 19th century in southern America. Some sources place its starting point at somewhere around 1830, although given the wildly divergent recipes floating around both then and now, it’s likely that it never had any single inventor or point of origin.

Another blogger who has posted this recipe, Dorcas Walker, has some more information and, in her comments, some variations you can try.

This recipe is great for parties. The next time you drop by SXSW, bring a carload of it and you’ll be an instant celebrity!

Forget the rules and tell a story

Writing has taken on new meaning as I’ve gotten a little older and a little wiser.

Grammar and spelling, in particular, are not the twin unbreakable pillars they once appeared to be when I was in high school or earlier. Reading Tolkien, and considering his status within the literary world, is evidence of that; though his grammar completely defies the Laws of English Class in several ways (particularly in the Silmarillion), he is held up to be one of the greatest writers of fiction.

Originally, I believed there was only one way to write – the Correct Way, in which the form of the language matched the textbooks perfectly. Now, though, I have come to believe that not only are there multiple ways to write, but different forms of writing must be used in different contexts. The Correct Way is appropriate only in certain situations.

One of those situations is in business letters, resum√©s, and other formal career-related communication. The purpose of the language used is to impart a sense of your competence and professionalism. For us twenty-somethings, this is the area that is most often lacking. In college, a scant two years ago, I proofread some classmates’ papers in upper division courses and was appalled by the errors in what should have been fundamental form. Run ons, fragments, and similar literary atrocities abounded. This is no way to demonstrate our competence in the workplace, particularly for those of us who work as freelancers outside the relatively safe cubicle world. Our communication style is vital.

Now, while that professional Correct Way is appropriate and even necessary in the corporate world, it is often inappropriate for the world of fiction and narrative writing. As per Tolkien’s example, there is a different kind of focus for narrative form – the telling of the story. Flowery language makes it more difficult to read, certainly, but using unusual words and sentence structures forces our brains to creatively interpret. Once we engage that half of our brain, suddenly these worlds that the authors are weaving for us take on a life of their own.

This kind of writing is also necessary for our development as individuals, though many people don’t allow it to flourish…or even practice it. Flowery writing makes us think and produces new pathways in our still-growing brain patterns, something ever so vital for a twenty-something newly recovering from the culture of university.

Storytelling is an important skill, and being able to forget the Correct Way for awhile and forge new trails helps us become more rounded people.

So, the next time you find yourself free for fifteen minutes with nothing in mind to do, grab a sheet of paper or a word processor and tell a story. Forget the grammar…show us your world.

Connect and prosper

Something missing in a lot of big companies – whether office, factory, or what-have-you – is a sense of community and connectedness. There is frequently no connection between You and the Team. In the case of freelancers, it’s between You and the Client.

What do I mean by connection? I mean empathy. I mean that feeling you get when you really understand someone, and they understand you. There’s way too much focus on Lone Wolf, out-for-number-one tactics out there.

I recently read Connection Culture by Michael Lee Stallard and found myself nodding at every third paragraph. Michael’s research is impeccable and his findings are both simple and profound. He goes into great detail about the hows and whys of connecting at the workplace. His conclusions are that A) connections at work make that company a great place to work for, and B) in the case of customers and clients, that company becomes a great one to do business with. People are happier when they’re connected.

Michael doesn’t go too much into scale and volume, but he does make notable mention of the fact that big companies that encourage communication and connection do demonstrably better work, backed up by trustworthy data.

According to his research and my own personal experiences, people who make connections are happier, healthier, more optimistic, and generally more energetic than those who do not.

So.

When’s the last time you made an effort to make connections in your workplace? Do you know the name of the guy in the cubicle across the way? If not, introduce yourself. Get to know the people you work with, for, and above, and you will find that the rewards greatly outweigh any remotely possible cost to yourself.

Three lists that will save you time and keep you sane

In today’s online culture of GTD, productivity, time management, and so on, we are focused on getting more done in less time. We are told that quantity is generally preferable to quality. What this mindset doesn’t take into account is another important aspect of life – happiness. Too often, I find myself thinking that line from Jurassic Park, “[they] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Time is valuable, yes. The most valuable currency in the world. Now think to yourself – do you spend all your money? Do you have a plan for every dime you will ever earn?

When you get right down to it, you have a finite amount of time available to you during your lifetime. There is no chance you will receive more, but frequent opportunities to get your supply shortened or even cut off permanently. So, you must spend your time wisely…and that includes leaving some flexible time so you can catch a breather and just relax!

To that end, here’s a few lists of things to think about when you plan for the future.

Wants

One day every week (Sunday works for me), write down a list of three goals you want to accomplish over the next week. These goals don’t have to be work-related; rather, they should be things that you really want to do. For example, my weekly list might read:

  • Ride 5 miles on my bike (Biking)
  • Draw 5 new illustrations for my game (Art)
  • Complete a perfect back-spin kick (Taekwon-do)

Needs

Your second priority (never, ever your first) should be to make a list of three goals you need to accomplish over the next week. This list is of things that need to get done, but that you don’t necessarily enjoy. For example:

  • Pay gas bill (Bills)
  • Shovel sidewalk (Chores)
  • Turn in P3 report (Work)

Shoulds

Finally, make a list of three goals to meet for the next week that you should accomplish. These can be just about anything. For me, the list might look like this:

  • Find a good local dietician (Health)
  • Finish my current novel (Reading)
  • Spend half an hour learning about leadership (Education)

Keep in mind that all of these things should only make up a PART of your time. The rest can and should be fluid, allowing for sudden shifts in schedule and just plain old relaxation. Personally, I try and incorporate some daily rituals into my life, but that’s just what works for me. Experiment to see the best solution for you.