Amazon Fresh: Delivery #2 (and iFatigue)

We tried Amazon Fresh again today.  We’re throwing a fajita party this weekend, and I noticed that Amazon Fresh had really awesome prices on flank steak. 

I scheduled the order this time for Thursday night between 8:00 and 9:00pm, as opposed to the Saturday morning delivery we had last time.  Groceries looked great again. Produce in good shape: bell peppers (yellow, red, and green), onions, etc.

I will say this about the Amazon Fresh delivery folks: wow, they are the most punctual bunch I’ve ever run across.  Last time they rang the doorbell at 9:00am (literally, 9:00 — not 9:01, but 9:00) which was the first moment available in my delivery window.  Today, they rang my doorbell at 8:01pm.  They’re slacking by a minute. 🙂

Oh, and Diann mentioned last night that she’s got iFatigue from hearing all the buzz about the various Apple iPod and iPhone announcements. A quick bit of searching shows me that she didn’t originate this phrase, but I think it’s pretty brilliant.

EDIT: Oh, I’m deducing that the Amazon Fresh delivery drivers have some sort of wireless connectivity back to the mothership.  About 2 minutes before my groceries have been delivered, I’ve received an email saying my order is ready for pickup.

Getting things done: my way

I’m a procrastinator.  An expert at it, in fact.  However, at work, that usually doesn’t cut it.  I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to manage my to-do list, and I think I’ve come upon something that works really well for me.  I was reading a blog post over at 7Breaths about someone using OneNote and Outlook 2007 to manage their life, and it’s inspired me to write about mine, primarily using Outlook 2007.

Calendar View My workflow is pretty similar to Rob’s, especially with the categorization and coloring of items.  This helps me skim past personal emails and appointments while I’m at work. 

I make a point to block out two 30-minute blocks on my calendar for doing weekly reviews, recurring at 8:30am on Monday and Friday.  8:30am is usually early enough that I’m in the office, but not much is going on.  Monday mornings I’ll skim over my calendar and create tasks for major meetings that I need to do things in advance of.  Why have that blocked out on Friday morning as well, you say?  Well, what if I’ve got an important meeting that I need to prepare for on Monday morning?  I’d certainly prefer to find out about that before 8:30am on Monday.

I also make use of OneNote‘s flagging feature that Rob mentions, so I won’t go into that here.  One thing that I also do is, as e-mails come in, I’ll make use of Outlook’s flag feature to mark them as follow-ups.  After I’ve flagged them, I can get them out of my inbox and filed away in my filing structure (note: if you move a flagged email into a locally stored PST folder, it won’t show up in your to-do list.  Keep flagged items somewhere stored on the server!).

Flagged E-mail

(and no, neither Madden 08 or NCAA 08 are that good this year)

The to-do bar in Outlook is what really saves me.  By default, all your tasks will show up there grouped by time, as well as upcoming appointments (also color-coded based on the categories applied in the calendar).

One major change I’ve done is to change the filtering on the task pane.  It’s not very intuitive, so I’ll document what I’ve done here.  Basically, I got tired of seeing tasks that are (in some cases) a year out (no, I’m not that organized that I have things planned out a year in advance; it’s just that I setup a recurring task to renew some professional certifications).  If you right click on the "Arranged by" bar, and click on "Custom" as your filter, you’ll get a window that lets you customize your to-do task list.  Click "Filter" here, and jump straight to the Advanced tab.  Here’s the filters you’ll need to add to have it display like mine:

Field Condition Value
Date Completed does not exist  
Date Completed on or after today
Flag Completed Date does not exist  
Flag Completed Date on or after today
Due Date between today and 30d
Due Date on or before today
Due Date does not exist  
Status not equal to Completed

Some of these things are probably redundant, but it worked and I didn’t feel like digging through it to find out what I didn’t need!  The reason that Date Completed and Flag Completed Date have duplicate entries is because the Date Completed seems to affect only real tasks, where the Flag Completed Date items affect emails and other items you’ve flagged.  The heart of it is the Due Dates — this will only show me tasks that are due in the next 30 days or that are overdue (or don’t have Due Dates applied).  Finally, don’t show me things that I’ve marked complete.

This all keeps my to-do list manageable, not overwhelming, and fairly focused.  One other thing of interest: in that filter window, under More Choices, you can filter based on a Category.  Maybe you want to exclude things in your Personal category — that’s the place to do it.

Notes from the morning

So, since I’ve been up since 4:30am cooking brisket, I wanted to jot down a few notes from the morning.

First, there seems to be a racoon living in our backyard. He was drinking from the pond while I was waiting on the BBQ to heat up.

Second, there’s nothing on TV at 4:30am on a Sunday. Oh, except MTV does play music videos, and not just on MTV2 — on MTV! All this time I thought they didn’t play music videos anymore; turns out, apparently the MTV folks think the music video demographic are early risers. TNT-HD has had a good movie run, though: [A Time to Kill](http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0117913/), [The Negotiator](http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0120768/), [Murder at 1600](http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0119731/). Seriously, that’s two [Samuel L. Jackson](http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0000168/) movies in a row!

Third: 11:45am, and I’ve started making the BBQ sauce. Oh, and I’ve finally opened a beer for myself.

In the presence of greatness

About a year ago, [Stephen Hawking](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_hawking) was supposed to come to Seattle, and I got tickets. I was excited; not many times do you have a chance to be in the presence of such awesome knowledge.

Unfortunately, he fell ill and wasn’t able to make the lecture. I fought TicketMaster to get my ticket refunded, which they eventually did.

Tonight, Hawking came back to Seattle, and I snatched up my ticket about three months ago. Dan & I showed up at McCaw Hall at about 7:15pm for the 7:30pm lecture. The setup was amazing; the host introduced Dr. Hawking, and talked a little bit about his communications methods (via a “blink switch”):

> The computer system attached to his wheelchair is operated by Hawking via an infra-red ‘blink switch’ clipped onto his glasses. By scrunching his right cheek up, he is able to talk, compose speeches, research papers, browse the World Wide Web, and write e-mails. The system also uses radio transmission to provide control over doors in his home and office.

Now, this posed an interesting problem. Apparently, camera flashes in the crowd were interfering with the blink switch! Dr. Hawking’s assistant asked the crowd to not use camera flashes, and I’ve never seen a place get so dark, so quick. It was amazing — most crowds would still have one pop up here and there, but not this crowd.

Overall, the talk was great — I didn’t understand quite a bit of it, but what I was most amazed by is Dr. Hawking’s sense of humor. This is a guy who has been through a lot, and he’s still cracking jokes every few minutes. He introduced an equation for entropy in black holes, commented that it’s a simple equation (it was) with all three fundamental physics constants (c, G, and h-bar). His next comment: “I want that on my tombstone.” He also commented that when he introduced concepts of time having a beginning and an end (alluding to the Big Bang), he said that “the church seems to have taken note of that.” He referenced the “old-school general relativity theorists” and said that they “just plug numbers into equations and hope it works.” When talking about solving the [black hole paradox](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_paradox), he said it’s an amazing feeling to realize that you’ve come up with an equation that no one else knows, and no one else has ever known. He said he can’t compare it to sex, but “that the feeling does last longer.” Classic!

He was amazing to listen to, and “spoke” for two solid hours. Go see him if you get a chance!

time changes stink!

Ugh. It gets dark at 5:30pm. I hate this. The sun is up way before I am (as most of you reading this probably know, I AM NOT a morning person), and at 6:00am it tries to wake me up by blaring through the windows…

You know, I don't really have a problem with the concept of “Daylight Saving Time” and “Standard Time”. BUT STOP CHANGING THEM AROUND. You people are messing with my head.