Come Sit A Spell

Use your time wisely. Say beau­ti­ful things, inspire, for­give, act phys­i­cally to pro­tect and help.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Earlier this week, we arrived home from a vaca­tion in the Caribbean. The beaches were relax­ing and warm­ing. The moun­tains and rain forest were invig­o­rat­ing and refresh­ing. The com­pany was enter­tain­ing and enjoy­able.

Vacation always give me a fresh per­spec­tive on life and man­ages to reju­ve­nate my abil­i­ties of per­cep­tion. The sights and sounds of a for­eign place jog the senses from the slum­ber of mun­dane rit­u­als.

This awak­en­ing of the senses need not be trig­gered by a long vaca­tion, or even a week­end get­away. The real­iza­tion that per­cep­tion is stag­nat­ing should be enough to prompt you to imme­di­ately do some­thing dif­fer­ent. Sorta like the scene from Dead Poets Society where the pro­fes­sor, John Keating, has the stu­dents stand on top of a desk to see the world from a dif­fer­ent view­point.

Snapping out of the habit­ual haze can be accom­plished by some­thing as sim­ple as glanc­ing around the room when you’re up on the lad­der chang­ing the light bulb, or sit­ting on the floor over in the cor­ner where the cat fre­quently hangs out — what is she always look­ing at over there on the wall?

Of course, if you want to wake up a lit­tle more than usual, take it a step fur­ther and try a phys­i­cal activ­ity you’ve never done before, or go to a new place for a few hours. You could even try pick­ing up a new hobby for a week to see if it sticks. It may not, but it may also open the cre­ative doors to some­thing else.

What’s my point in all of this? I love that feel­ing of won­der­ment that accom­pa­nies an awak­en­ing of the senses, and I am always look­ing for ways to accom­plish it.

In what ways do you snap out of the worka­day dol­drums?

I am still mak­ing minor changes to the site and port­ing every­thing over to the new con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem, which as I men­tioned in a com­ment and on Twitter, is going to be Textpattern. I decided to switch for sev­eral rea­sons, but the most impor­tant two were per­for­mance and per­sonal chal­lenge.

I tend to go in cycles with my WordPress instal­la­tion. For a long period, I will keep every­thing clean and neat. Then, I begin to add scads of plug-ins for no good rea­son other than they are new, shiny, and fun. Fun, that is, until they go awry and cause data­base errors or dras­ti­cally slow down the site.

Some of the biggest offend­ers usu­ally use exter­nal JavaScript calls. This means that if the author/host’s site is slow, so is mine. That is unac­cept­able. I do not want my reg­u­lar read­ers, nor poten­tially new read­ers click­ing away because the page would not load within a sec­ond. Picky? Perhaps, but I design things based on how I expect web sites to behave, and chron­i­cally slow sites rarely get me to visit again.

As for the per­sonal chal­lenge, I aban­doned Textpattern in pre­vi­ous attempts to use it for var­i­ous rea­sons, but most often due to my inabil­ity to make it look good with my mediocre CSS skills. Since my design is not the CMS’s fault, I thought I would give it another chance, this time build­ing my CSS skills as an exer­cise, and armed with a not-so-secret weapon — Textpattern Solutions.

It turns out that Textpattern Solutions is a use­ful tome. Since read­ing it and using it as an ongo­ing ref­er­ence man­ual, I have even man­aged to con­vince myself to being work­ing on devel­op­ing my own plug-ins for Textpattern. With these plug-ins, I hope to imple­ment all of the func­tion­al­ity I desire on my site in a way that is edu­ca­tional for me.

It will take longer than I planned to port and imple­ment the site. In the mean time, I have begun trim­ming down plug-ins and the back end data­base of the cur­rent WordPress instal­la­tion. It seems to be run­ning a bit quicker now. I’m not sure if that’s because the CMS sus­pects its immi­nent replace­ment, or if my removal of a lot of cruft actu­ally does make a dif­fer­ence. Either way, the change will be worth­while for both you and me.

What do you think about Textpattern? Do you have another favorite CMS that you noodle with in your spare time?

During the flights to and from our vaca­tion des­ti­na­tions, my fiancee and I had some time to read. I took advan­tage of it by read­ing The Beak of the Finch. I had planned on read­ing sev­eral other books, but it was worth the switch of topic mate­rial. No mat­ter what your belief sys­tem or faith, the book is excel­lent and enter­tain­ing in its address­ing of the topic of evo­lu­tion. The author does a good job of avoid­ing bias and still tells a fas­ci­nat­ing story to illus­trate the sci­ence being pre­sented.

Prior to The Beak of the Finch, I read I Will Teach You To Be Rich, which I men­tioned before in my short review of the book. It was that book that sparked my inter­est in a site that I came across while I was read­ing it. I really need to start doc­u­ment­ing how I find these sites, but its usu­ally via some site I read in my daily e-mail feeds.

Anyhow, the site is called The Personal MBA. The PMBA is a project started by Josh Kaufman. The man­i­festo of the PMBA site goes into excel­lent detail about the goal of the pro­gram. Here’s a snip­pet to sum­ma­rize.

The Personal MBA (PMBA) is a project designed to help you edu­cate your­self about advanced busi­ness con­cepts. This man­i­festo will show you how to sub­stan­tially increase your knowl­edge of busi­ness on your own time and with lit­tle cost, all with­out set­ting foot inside a class­room.

The PMBA is more flex­i­ble than a tra­di­tional MBA pro­gram, doesn’t involve going into mas­sive debt, and won’t inter­rupt your income stream for two years. Just pick up one of these busi­ness books, learn as much as you can, dis­cuss what you learn with oth­ers, then go out into the real world and make great things hap­pen.

If you’re inter­ested in edu­cat­ing your­self about busi­ness, the Personal MBA is the best place to start.

What is notable about the site to me is that Josh has spent some time com­pil­ing a list of books that are excel­lent in their respec­tive sub­ject fields. I Will Teach You To Be Rich hap­pens to be on the list, as do sev­eral other books that I have read since the begin­ning of this year. I fig­ured since I had already knocked sev­eral titles off the list, I would give it a go and select some other books in my areas of inter­est.

There is now a PMBA shelf on one of my book­cases where I have gath­ered together all of the read and to-be-read copies. I may review a book from the list now and again, but Josh and oth­ers have done a respectable job of cov­er­ing them already.

I also want to talk about Pace and Kyeli’s book, The Usual Error, but I want to devote more space and time to it, so look for that to be com­ing soon.

In the mean­time, be well and awaken those senses.