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Methods are many, principles are few.
Methods change often, principles never do.

Thoughts on companies and work

Over the past 6 months I've engaged in a frequent conversation about work life and corporate culture. Google, Wall Street, public accounting, health care, start-up, entrepreneurial companies, and even universities. A typical part of the discussion is what is the public/media perception of corporate culture and what are employees lives like. In other words, is the reality of work life similar to the media image?

Tony Schwartz had some interesting comments on this in the NY Times, Dec 2014 Why the ‘Best Places to Work’ Often Aren’t. Some of his key points:

  1. Highly ranked companies would be recommended as a great place to work to your friends. This type of company has an excellent culture of innovation and an inspiring mission. Plus, these companies take care of employees with services, perks, and excellent pay. But these lists don’t really measure something even more important: the quality of their employees’ lives.
  2. So how can you define a great place to work? It begins with creating a work environment that enables and encourages all employees to regularly refuel and renew themselves, both on and off the job. That will make them capable of bringing the best of themselves to work.
  3. K. Anders Ericsson is famous for the “10,000 hour rule” or the hours of deliberate practice required for mastery of a field. Another concept promoted by Ericsson was that the best performers in a range of disciplines practice in surprisingly small increments. Typically, it is for no more than 90 minutes at a time without interruption, followed by a break, and rarely for more than 4½ hours total in any given day. This is also a theme of Tony Schwartz's books The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working and The Power of Full Engagement.
  4. Precious few companies recognize that it’s not the number of hours their people work that determines the value they create, but rather the energy they bring to the hours they work.
  5. The simplest measure of a great place to work is how it makes employees feel to work there day in and day out. That requires meeting the four core needs of their employees: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

More Tony Schwartz on Prioritizing and Rituals

Continuing to read from the NY Times, Tony Schwartz, in October 2014: Prioritizing in a World of Overwhelming Demand . A good reminder to:

  1. first important lesson is to take on the most difficult and important tasks when you have the most energy.
  2. turn off your digital life for a designated period
  3. third principle comes from the historian and philosopher Will Durant, paraphrasing Aristotle in “The Story of Philosophy”: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Put another way, we’re far more likely to accomplish what we schedule. I call them rituals — behaviors that become automatic so that we no longer have to think about doing them. Doing the most important thing first in the morning is one of mine. Exercising at a designated time is another.
  4. I defined four categories: body, heart, mind and spirit. Then I made a list of what activities best served each of these critical dimensions of my life. Exercise and sufficient sleep, for example, are crucial for my body. Time with those I love is critical for my heart. Reading, reflecting, learning and writing are essential mentally. And being of service to others, unconditionally, is what feels most important spiritually.

To recap (with a bit of Steven Covey thrown in):

  1. First things first every day; plan and do the most important task first every day.
  2. Control your digital devices and email. Unplug!
  3. Schedule your priorities and make them rituals.
  4. Manage energy and how much time is spent sitting by 90 minute work sessions; breaks; and "re-create" time away from work every day. Each day of work needs a stop point.
  5. For a balanced life, remember to balance across: Body, heart, mind, and spirit

Other Tony Schwartz related pages:

  • Blog Notes-July 2010 Videos and podcast links
  • Blog Notes-November 2010 Tony Schwartz in a video clip talking about ways to stay focused. Tony uses the Herbert Simon Poverty of Attention quote to start off the segment.
  • We’re most productive when we move between expending energy and intermittently renewing our four energy needs: sustainability (physical), security (emotional); self-expression (mental) and significance (spiritual). from Gtd Revisited
  • A video review of Tony Schwartz's book, The Power of Full Engagement

(:youtube iJ6dOHpknA0 :)

Thoughts on Manage Your Day-To-Day

The book subtitle is Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

A visual note taking review by Callibrain

(:youtube ZT86mtq6Few :)

Brain Pickings review of the key details

A similar line of thought by Cal Newport, Deep Habits: The Importance of Planning Every Minute of Your Work Day

Capturing highlights from Kindle books

  • Top level menu: Your Highlights
  • The highlights for each book are organized sequentially with your notes (if any).
    • My choice of storage is Evernote.
    • Select the text of all highlights and using the Evernote Web Clipper, send to Evernote. My preference is to edit in Evernote with a Title of the book, appropriate tags, and a top level note about the book.
  • From the Amazon Highlights page click on the linkable book title to go to the Kindle book page which contains general info about the book and other readers highlights. Nice tool!

Adding Kindle screenshots to Evernote

  • capture the screen on the iPad Kindle reader with press of Sleep and Home buttons
  • iPad Evernote - attach the screen shot to the article (in this case the highlights that were copied in).

Extracting a clip from a DVD

NOTE: moved content to permanent page Extracting a Video Clip from a DVD on 8/24/2015

In this case the DVD is a home movie converted to DVD. Un-encrypted and my own content.

  • Rip a clip from a DVD
  • extraction of high-quality format like mp4 with H.264 compression
  • playing the clip on Windows 8.1 requires a DVD player. Using VLC
  • Handbrake (open source) to extract video clips
    • Video can be extracted by chapter, by time (hr:mm:ss format), or by frames
    • Result of a 48 second clip was perfect!
  • Older references on clipping video from DVD

History of this wiki

first page indicated by PmWiki is September 2, 2005. Check the last line of the list of all pages and reverse sort by date changed AllRecentChanges

Organization and the process of clearing clutter

Interesting definition (related to paper): 3 categories

  1. currently in use
  2. needed for a limited period of time
  3. must be kept indefinitely
  • Looking for information on the KonMari method for digital / computer / electronic files. Not too much of substance here! Simply basic ideas. Of course digital storage is cheap, but organization can make finding what you need possible and quick.
    • KonMari Method for Electronic Papers The key here is a simple folder structure. Organize within that structure and clean out what is no longer wanted or needed. Archives is one category however.

(note: great use of photographs in this blog, not necessarily related to the content ... but great looking photos!)


|NPR - Planet Money: Episode 606: Spreadsheets! 2/25/2015

Great quote: The spreadsheet is a tool, and it is also a world view — reality by the numbers.

see also Excel References Page

PMWiki changes


  1. Created template for new pages to include header and footer info. Required change to the config.php for EidtTemplatesFmt variable (details at: ) New page: NewPageTemplate
  2. Created profile page with a list of recently changed pages: DeVries

Tennessee Wildlife

Great website for identification of wildlife:

My photo of a turtle laying eggs in our backyard a few weeks ago:

Identified as a Pond Slider

Concert lighting fix in Adobe Lightroom

Excellent set of simple instructions from Dutch photographer, Wouter Vellekoop. Red Light; A concert photographers nightmare

I achieved 95% what I was looking for in just the first step, adjusting the light temperature with a dropper on a neutral color.

Photo revision for natural skin tones: on the sax, Jeffrey Wills

Original photo with that red light, concert look!! on the sax, Jeffrey Wills

How to display Flickr images:

  • photos are hosted on Flickr and shared above by using HTML Embed code from Flickr and the includeurl PmWiki cookbook tag, along with a width and height control.
  Code used:  (:includeurl http:\\ ... width=640 height=498 :)    
  • Showing code on the page (immediately above), enclose the code within [@...@]. This is defined by PmWiki as a preformatted block.
    [@...@] preformatted block

And to display the code to display codes(!!), edit this page to see how to use @@ and the square bracket =

Photography - Sun and Moon position apps

Photo Ephemeris Sun and moon times and angles. map-centric sun and moon calculator: see how the light will fall on the land, day or night, for any location on earth.

SunCalc shows sun movement and sunlight phases during the given day at the given location.

Elevation Finder

Canon S100 photo of not quite full moon on 7/30/2015 almost full moon over TN state capital


You can't recycle bowling balls.

NPR - Planet Money, 3/27/2015

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