guilty of being ...

everything that is here has been moved to my new location:
come on over and find this material and new material, as well!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Delete this feed

Note from Patricia Burroughs:

The time has come for you to delete this feed unless you want to get really annoyed.

The only reason I moved to is because they have Categories and blogger doesn't. That's it. The only reason. (As always, you can find the official pooks info at my official site,

But is seemed important to me because my stats show that there are certain things I blog about that get higher hits than others, and where the hits are coming from changes with subject matter, and so I think it's important as a good hostess to make it easy for my guests to find other posts on the subject that brought them to the site, rather than having to scroll through tons of stuff they don't care about.

I'm also thinking about joining Greenpeace or The Sierra Club. Believe me, I am a good American and I voted for Ronald Reagan AND Papa Bush (the first time he ran, before "Read my lips," and "Oh by the way, pay more taxes...") and I understand that it is only the good and loyal red-blooded American thing to do to have categories, so that when I turn into a left-wing commie-loving tree-hugger, it will be easier for the FBI and Homeland Security to keep an eye on me in case I and my other tree-hugging friends hatch an Al Quaeda cell along with whatever endangered owls we're protecting this week. I know my duty.

But there are things that I can do on blogger than I can't do on wordpress, yet if I import from here to there, the format goes with. So I'm going to occasionally do a post here, and once I get it formatted properly, import it over there and delete it here.

And if you're getting notifies every time I do that, you'll get very annoyed, I am sure.

So delete this feed and go to Planet Pooks.

The world will be a better place and Big Brother will appreciate it.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Changing Lodgings...

Do you remember Fagin calling out, "We're changin' lodgin's!"in Oliver?

I digress.

As of April 2005, everything here is available on my new site, along with new content.

See you there, I hope!

Planet Pooks

Friday, April 07, 2006


yet another one

I think it's time to bookmark the other site, huh?

Actually about writing!

I'm it. Again.

That link takes you to the specific post, but if you click the title of the blog you'll go to the main page where you'll find that I've copied all entries from here to there. See ya!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

43 Folders Explained

click this

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

So I've been a little frustrated that I can't use "categories" here on blogger, or if I can, I don't know how. It would evidently be a hack, not something that was built into the system.

I'd like to be able to have a link in the sidebar for GTD and STC and Writing and Cowboys and whatever else I want, without cluttering up the sidebar with all the individual links. As was pointed out to me, you can do this on WordPress.

So I ventured over there last night.

I'm trying to decide -- to move, or not to move.

To change the title of my blog, or not to change the title of my blog.

To give up my pretty green borders, or not to give up my pretty green borders.

And since I think 2.5 of you actually come back to my blog as repeat readers, would you follow me over there? Or would you click this link here, find nothing new, and go on to greener blogs?

Does this mess up things like Technorati and Bloglines?

Here is the new site, though the template may change:

me, over there

Speak up. I need opinions!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Three from GTD

I was going to write about how Getting Things Done and Save the Cat have worked together in my brain for the past few weeks. But then I realized I needed to explain a little about about GTD.

The problem is, I never have spoken a lot about the specifics of GTD or STC because I figured it might not be cool to talk about specifics, when I'm sure both Blake Snyder and David Allen would prefer you to buy their books and not pick up their systems off a blog.

Then I realized, the few tidbits I spill here would only convince you that you do need to buy their books.

So here I am, about to give you three basic ideas from GTD, for starters.

First, what is GTD all about? It's about reducing stress, possibly even eliminating most of your stress. How? Well, how much of the stress that is tightening the cords in your neck right now from things hanging over your head that you ought to do, or need to do, or just think you probably should do, but can't do anything about right this second, anyway?


David Allen proposes that your brain keeps working and worrying ideas repetitively -- when you can't do a damn thing about the idea at that moment -- unless you have a trusted system where you can store the idea until it's time to think about it. Maybe you're simply reminding yourself, "Oh wait -- my mom's birthday is tomorrow, I have to remember to send flowers and call her," when you're in a place where you can do neither, so you keep reminding yourself, hoping you'll actually remember to do it when you get back to a phone (send flowers) and tomorrow (call her). Or maybe it's a huge work project. Something tiny or something huge, your brain can't file it away until the right time, so instead it keeps dumping it all in your lap at the same time.


As soon as "I ought to" or "I need to" or "I want to" enters your head, it becomes an incomplete task and your brain starts dealing with it, unless you relieve your brain of its responsibility.

So, first, learn to write everything down.

This isn't exactly a new idea. People have been doing it for centuries. And it's what the idea of planners (my fave, the Franklin Planner, especially) were built on. If you trained yourself to turn the page of your planner every single day you would see the reminder to ORDER FLOWERS the day before your mom's birthday, and then you could forget about it again until the next day, when you turned the page and saw CALL MOM - HAPPY BIRTHDAY waiting for you. And once you realized that this was safe, you'd learn to open your planner the day you got it, go through and put in those birthday reminders, and forget about birthdays until the time came that you needed to do something about them. You'd learn to write down your ideas as soon as they popped in your head, and to cross-reference back to them or forward to when you'd need them again. You'd get all this "stuff" out of your head and feel a whole lot better because you weren't worried about losing details and forgetting important things.

David Allen has taken this farther. He's given a few basic principles that handle all your "stuff." Not just appointments and ideas and to-do lists, but even how you handle all the "stuff" that passes through your hands. (And he leaves the details up to you -- whether you want to use a PDA, computer, paper, or any combination. It's about what makes you most comfortable and productive.)

Here's an example. The stuff on your desk and in your office. The first thing he has you do is gather everything that doesn't belong where it is, the way it is, permanently into one (probably huge) "in basket" (which in my case was a humongous pile of stuff in the middle of the living room floor - gack!), leaving your office/desk/surfaces all cleared. (Hey, maybe you won't even have to dust, because there hasn't been a bare surface for dust to gather on ... I mean, it could happen. Not that I'm saying it happened to me or anything.)

Then when you've cleared all that stuff out (leaving behind supplies, reference materials, equipment/furniture, and decorations that you still like) you process through it piece by piece until the mountain -- I mean pile -- I mean in basket is gone.

And when you finish, everything is where it is supposed to be, the way it's supposed to be. Or it's gone. And all those projects waiting to be done? Are in "mute" mode, not "drive you crazy running a hamster wheel in your brain" mode.

Wow. What a concept.

Now he gives you all sorts of mental tools to accomplish this, and urges you to get the physical tools you need, too. So if you're really ready to tackle this, I suggest you buy his book.

But here are three mental tools that rocked my world.

ONE: Pick up the thing on top. Process it. (Again, read his book.) Then move to the next. Do NOT pick up the easy thing underneath it. Because you will end up having handled all the easy things, and still have a pile of things that are harder to process. Take them in order, and don't let yourself put stuff off, because putting it off only makes it get harder to think about, because now you know it's there waiting for you and that will just make those cords in your neck knot up again, dummy. Deal off the top, first things first, and then move on.

This counts whether you're excavating a mountain or just emptying your real in basket, or even reading email. Just deal with it and move on, don't let it pile up while you handle easy stuff and know that the tough stuff is still swimming around the periphery of your mind, with an occasional flash of dorsal fin to fill you with dread....

TWO: Anything that can be done in two minutes or less?


So here I picked up an ice scraper off the mountain and thought, "This goes in the car," and started to put it aside, you know, until I had more things to take to the car. Because that's what we've been told is productive, right? Put everything that's going to the car in one stack and take it all at once.

But that's stupid. All you'd be doing is rearranging the mess. So I just dashed out to the car and put it up. Came back in, twenty minutes later I dashed out to the car again to take something else. But in that twenty minutes I was visibly seeing the mountain shrink -- well I could tell it was smaller whether anybody else could or not.

The thing is, putting it aside to handle later is what caused this mess to accumulate to begin with. So if it's two minutes or less, do it now. (And let me tell you, that counts for just about anything. It's amazing how much difference it makes to just adapt that little rule. For example, the funeral flowers I was supposed to order last week that wouldn't have taken two minutes if I'd ever done it, but I kept thinking I'd do "later...” Sigh.)

THREE: This one is so powerful, I tremble to think of it. And so easy. (That's the thing about David Allen -- his entire system is based on the idea that if it's not easy, you won't do it. Nothing complex here. It's all easy.)

You know why you have a pile of stuff on your desk, right? Because you aren't one of those "born organized" people who automatically know what to do with it. There's some stuff that's so important, you knew immediately what to do, where to put it, how to process it. There's other stuff that went straight into the trashcan.

Now you've got the stuff that lies somewhere in between, because you weren't sure what to do with it, maybe you didn't want to think about it "right now," and now it covers your world.

David Allen gives you a filing system so simple it's ingenious, and suddenly you have a place to put all those little bits of info that you want to hold onto but aren't sure what to do with them -- just file everything, even if it's only one sheet of paper. It's part of your "trusted system" that relieves your stress because now, not only do you know you still have it, but you know where.

Wow, what a concept. (I know there are born organized people who are either laughing their asses off at me, or scratching their heads in utter amazement that anybody has to be told these things. Just shut up.)

But then there's stuff that you aren't sure whether you'll ever need it again or not. Again, this is why it's on your desk/kitchen counter/coffee table. Because you haven't made up your mind yet what to do with it, and don't want to think about it right now.

Well, right now is when to think about it, and then never think about it again, ever.

The answer is simple.




It makes no difference.

Wait; let that sink in a minute.


Simply figure out which answer relieves your stress. The idea of going ahead and filing everything so you know someday it will be there when you need it? Or the idea of tossing it, getting rid of it, knowing that if it's really important it will crop up again. "Hmm, this looks like a kind of cool photography course, I've always wanted to take a photography course, but I don't have time right now, maybe I should file it for future reference -- except by the time I ever think of it again this info will be so out of date it will be worthless -- but it looks like a good course maybe I should file it and at least know the instructor's name if I decide to look it up later...” My ultimate answer was "Trash it. If I ever decide to take a photography course I'll research it then."

It really does make no difference. It's just what makes you (or me) more relaxed. And in my case, the more stuff that ended up getting trashed, the better I felt.

And here is the magic.

Once you make that decision -- trash or file?

You never make it again.

Let that sink in.

You make that decision once, and never again. From that point forward, you know automatically what to do with those things. You're either going to file them or trash them. Because you know which makes you feel better.

So that's it. Handle what's on top and work your way down. If it can be done in two minutes or less, do it now. And decide once -- right now -- whether you'd rather have everything "just in case" or trash stuff you're not sure of. Decide now, then never have to think about it again.

(I think I'm going to GTD the kitchen next. Don't tell Sam. I think it's better to spring the next mountain on him by surprise, rather than have him stressed anticipating it. Heh.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Breaking News

Sources: DeLay to drop re-election race

Rep. Tom DeLay , who was forced to step down as House majority leader last year after being indicted, will drop out of his re-election race, two Republican congressional sources told CNN Monday. The surprising move comes one month after he easily won a contested Republican primary for his suburban Houston House seat.


My 43 Folders

NOTE: If you don't know what the "43 Folders" refer to, I'll be coming back later to 'splain it. If you've read David Allen's GETTING THINGS DONE you already know, and may have come here specifically to see these pics.

The question has been raised, if you are an "out of sight/out of mind" person and having your 43 folders in a file drawer doesn't work for you, how do you keep them in sight? Most answers have been pretty easy, but when I started to describe my situation I couldn't without pics, so here they are.

I bought the Christopher Lowell magazine storage thingy from Office Depot because I loved the look of it. I intended to use it on my desk to store project files I want to keep in front of my face. (See above, "out of sight/out of mind.") However, it didn't quite work. Because it wasn't quite deep enough for folders to slip straight down. It would be except that the horizontal woven rattan (if that's what it is) sticks out just far enough for folders to catch on and not go all the way down.

Because I loved the darn thing, I figured out that if the folders were put in diagonally they'd fit, so that's what I did.

In the meantime I was looking for a way to store my 43 Folders so that they'd be on my desktop but my desktop is very cluttered with other things I want/need on top of it, and I finally looked again at the magazine thingy and figured out a way to use it, and I love this not only because I get to have the very attractive Christopher Lowell office accessory (which looks good on my desk) but I like it because it has a small footprint on my desk, takes up little space between my monitor and tower, and truly does keep this stuff in front of my eyes.

I pulled out an old file pocket and recycled it by putting in the 43 folders and my current project files, and propped it into the magazine storer thingy (why can't I ever think of words when I need them?) at an angle and voila!

Not only does it keep things in front of me, but it's just snug enough that I can pull out the folders that I really want to catch my attention so that they stick out higher than the others.

You know, if I took nothing else from Getting Things Done, the P-Touch Labeler would have been worth the price. Because yes I knew they existed, but it seemed a silly waste of money for something you could do so easily yourself, not to mention that I'm so disorganized it would just be a time-waster and I'd eventually give it away .... Only not so. As David Allen says, when things are labeled this nicely, it really does make it easier to deal with them, and labeling is fun! Any time you can make a tedious job fun, that's a good thing. He also recommends you don't color coordinate folders because that makes things more complicated, not more easy. Since I love color I'm using colored folders, but not in any particular system (except for the months/days which I did figure would work better if they were the same color). I just grab a folder without worrying what color it is, and enjoy the fact that my files are bright and cheery.

Now, like I said, I'll explain "43 Folders" later. But for now -- this is what I've done, and I like it.

Oh, and duh, it's a magazine file.

Dog Question

I have a gorgeous yellow lab named Jake. He was at the SPCA when I found him four years ago. His family had surrendered him because they were moving; he was 18 months old. I am still amazed that they could part with him.

I've never had a dog quite this big before; he weighs around 80 pounds, I think. He's a yard dog by choice. He prefers to be outside. But he's a gentleman inside and loves to play fetch with a stuffed toy. I toss it four or five feet away and he leaps as if he's about to run half a block to catch a frisbee, then pounces on it, then returns it to me, as if this is the best game in the world, even though there is no room to actually run.

I love Jake.

And he evidently kinda likes me a bunch, too. When I take him to the dog park he ignores the other dogs, and just enjoys having a bigger space to play fetch in. Once I saw a woman watching me closely and watching Jake and I finally wondered if she knew Jake, or knew his old owners, so I walked near her, and she said, "Do you know that dog never takes his eyes off of you?" I said, "Oh, I guess that's because he's a rescue from the SPCA and maybe he is afraid I'll leave him here." She said, "No, it's more than that." We kept chatting and I don't recall what else was said, but I remembered it when I took Jake to obedience class a couple of years later and the instructor told me much the same thing, as if it was kind of unusual. So I guess he feels bonded to me, maybe because I'm the one who rescued him?

Okay, so here is my question.

Jake doesn't bark a lot. He has a big gorgeous deep bark and I think it would scare somebody if they tried to break into my house and heard it, but he doesn't use it often. Our other dog, the sweetheart Abby, barks a lot more. Jake will watch her bark but doesn't bother most of the time. Which is why when we hear HIM bark, we start looking out windows to see why. (It's usually because there's another dog going by, but sometimes because its' a person.) As for growling, that's exceedingly rare. He and Abby play a fairly rough game of "who can get to the ball first" fetch, which means if he gets it she attacks him as they run back to me, and because he's over twice her size she can do anything to him without him caring. A couple of times she's evidently crossed the line because I've heard a scary low grumbly growl and she immediately backs off.

So basically he's a big old goofball who loves to play more than anything, and nothing in the world seems to bother him, maybe because his size gives him such an advantage he doesn't ever have to assert himself.

So here's my question.

When he's in the house with me and somebody rings the doorbell or comes to the door, he doesn't notice. He doesn't bark.

Is this simply the way he is, end of story?

Is there a way to teach him to react when somebody is at the door?

Or should I be grateful he doesn't want to attack everyone who walks through the door. (Which is just funny, thinking of a labrador retriever attacking everybody, instead of just wanting to love them to death.)

One more thing. I did see him be protective -- once. When I'd only had him a couple of weeks. I took him and Abby to the dog park, and they acted pretty much the way they acted at home. Separately. He wandered around by himself and with me, while she dove head first into the middle of the other dogs to sniff butts and play.

Suddenly I heard some pretty vicious snarling and turned to see a dog attacking Abby. It was a nine-month-old pit bull mix whose owners had brought it to the dog park to learn how to interact with other dogs. They quickly pulled it off and there was no harm done -- no skin broken or anything -- but before I could get there, Jake had shot from the other end of the park to Abby's side. By that point it was over, but the two of them stuck together the rest of the time, doing what he wanted to do -- stick with me, and avoid the other dogs.

That was the day they bonded -- they've been best buddies and playmates ever since.

I have no idea whether he'd act to protect me or not. Maybe he's just totally nonviolent and he's not gonna care if strangers come into the house.

Maybe he's got that protective streak but it won't show up unless he thinks it's necessary, which clearly doesn't include people ringing the doorbell or knocking at the door.

I dunno.

Do you?