Outline Your Goals, Then Populate The Outline

Outline Your Goals, Then Populate The Outline

Portland author Donald Miller has some thoughts on New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve discovered something better than resolutions. If you’ve read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, you know I’ve reorganized my life into stories rather than goals. I don’t have any problem with goals. I like goals and still set them. But without an overarching plot, goals don’t make sense and are hard to achieve. A story gives a goal a narrative context that makes sense to the brain, making them more likely to actually be achieved.

A story involves a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it. If you plan a story this year, instead of just simple goals, your life will be more exciting, more meaningful and more memorable. And you are much more likely to stick to your goals. For instance, rather than saying I want to finish getting into shape this year, I’ve written down that I want to climb Mt. Hood with a couple friends. I have a vision of standing on top of the mountain in May, taking pictures and all that. Now my goal has a narrative context.

Narrative context is good. One of my goals is to be a better friend this year. But that’s kind of vague, isn’t it?

My goal needs specifics if I’m going to work my plan successfully. Specifically, I need to back off this tap tap tap medium that’s become so central to our lives, and actually call my friends on the phone and then make plans to go see them!

Missing Mason

My heart is heavy today, for an old friend lost his little boy to cancer last night.

Mason’s story is a heartbreaking one. It’s also a story of immense courage, compassion, love, family, community, soccer and more.

Thanks to the generosity, eloquence and untiring bravery of Mason’s parents, we can all share in this boy’s life and his family’s struggle. There’s a lot to learn and feel.

It’s clear that Mason touched the lives of those around him and made them better. I regret that I never had the good fortune to meet him.

[UPDATE] At the suggestion of Mason’s parents, I’m helping Mason do something special for the pediatric oncology floor at Children’s Hospital by donating to: Mason Leach’s Super Star Fund, c/o Children’s National Medical Center, attn: Volunteer and Consumer Support Services, 111 Michigan Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20010.

An Argument for Non-Theistic Ethics

My good friend, David Keller, a.k.a. The Deacon of Freakin’, took part in a debate at University of Utah on April 13th. The topic for the evening: “Is God Necessary for Ethics?” Three hundred people filled the room to hear the philosophical discourse, affriming the topic’s top-of-mind place in our most religious of states.

The Google video above is a clip. YouTube has the full proceedings.

The Richer You Are, The More Generous You Can Be

New York Times reporter Ben Stein recently had the pleasure of visiting my hometown and meeting its most famous person–Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett told Stein (who also happens to be an economist and lawyer) he’s not pleased with the current tax system in this country. But not for reasons typically associated with the wealthy.

Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.

It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”

Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Many of the richest people in the nation look to Buffet for answers on how to increase their holdings. But Buffet’s philosophy by example goes far beyond mere numbers and business analysis. Maybe the rich could begin to ask deeper questions. Like how shall we best reform ourselves and the nation in the process?

A Tactile Sensation

A Tactile Sensation


Moo is an innovative new business focussed on an age old tradition–the sharing of personal information offline.

There are now more than a billion people online, and most of us use the internet to engage in some kind of social activity. In doing so we help generate over 4 petabytes of unique virtual content a month.

We have virtual communication like email, instant message or video. We belong to virtual communities like social networks, image sharing or interest groups. And in these communities we have created virtual identities like homepages, avatars and blogs.

But sometimes life can be a little too virtual.

MOO dreams up new tools that help people turn their virtual content into beautiful print products.

For instance, Flickr users can print MiniCards. MiniCards are ideal for sharing the details of your Flickr photostream, along with email, instant messager, and cellphone info on a high quality card featuring the photos of your choice. A pack of 100 only costs $19.99 plus shipping.

Manual Tools For Thinkers

Manual Tools For Thinkers

Kottke is pointing to a Legal Affairs article on yellow pads, objects many find useful even in a modern world dominated by screens and gadgets.

Once used only by law students and lawyers, the yellow legal pad is now employed to a degree unrivaled in stationery. “End career as a fighter,” President Richard Nixon wrote on a legal pad in August 1974. Five days later, on the top of another one, he scratched, “Resignation Speech.” Jeff Tweedy, front man for the rock band Wilco, writes his songs on a legal pad. Jim Harrison, the laureate of the untamed heart, wrote Legends of the Fall on legal pads; Elmore Leonard writes his crime novels on them.


In 1888, Thomas W. Holley, a 24-year-old paper mill worker in Holyoke, Mass. had an idea for how to use the paper scraps, known as sortings, discarded by mills. Sortings were anything trimmed away as scrap or considered of lesser quality than the writing paper eventually packaged and sold. Holley’s notion was to bind the scraps into pads that could be sold at a cut rate. Convinced he had a winning idea, he founded his own company–AMPAD–to collect the sortings from local mills (Holyoke was then the papermaking capital of the world) and began churning out bargain-price pads.

Philip Moustakis, a mid-level associate at the New York firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, uses one legal pad per case, and prefers yellow over white pads and a faint, as opposed to a dark, rule. “The darker lines intrude upon my thinking–they’re yelling back at you,” he explained. “You want a more subtle line.”

The yellow-to-white sales ratio can be as high as 2 to 1. Some consumers feel white pads emit too much glare.

Pay Later Schemes Wreak Havoc On U.S. Economy

Barry Ritholtz–Chief Market Strategist for an institutional research firm, and the Fund Manager for RCP, a NY based hedge fund–posted about our pending economic crisis on his blog.

Over the next 20 months, more than two trillion dollars worth of adjustable rate mortgages will reset at higher interest rates.

Now, I don’t want to be accused of being a perma-bear or anything like that, but I am having a hard time trying to figure out exactly how anyone can spin this into a positive: Dark matter? Credit Surplus? Real Estate Boom?

I’m at a loss for words spin.

One title insurer ran the numbers, and they project that of the adjustable rate mortgages written over the past 2 years, as many as 1 in 8 (12.5%) will end up in default.

I rent my home. But I faced this same predicament with my vehicle. I leased it in 1999 so I could afford the payments. After five years the lease ended and I opted to finance the remaining $15K. So, I’m buying the car twice. After years of suffering from financial stupidity, I finally learned the hard way. If you can’t afford the payments, buy something cheaper.

Cut Back On The Jell-O

Cut Back On The Jell-O

KUTV in Salt Lake City reports that members of the Latter Day Saints church weigh more than non-LDS Utahns.

The study found that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were 14 percent more likely than nonmembers to be obese. That was 18 percent for men, and 9 percent for women.


The study was made by BYU health science professor Ray Merrill from data obtained in 1996, 2001 and 2003-2004 by the Utah Health Status Survey.

Merrill’s study suggests Mormons may be using excessive eating as a substitute for prohibited indulgences such as smoking and drinking.

I refute the learned man’s theory. The real reason Mormons weigh more is tied to their well-documented obsession with Jell-O, particularly of the lime variety. In fact, some have even called Utah the Jell-O Belt.

Championship Golf With Hickory Shafts

Championship Golf With Hickory Shafts

There’s something incredibly romantic about this image of Bobby Jones at Pinehurst’s “Maniac Hil” in North Carolina.

Click to buy

I was pleased to learn last week from a gentleman on Hilton Head that Jones played from a mixed set of irons, as I do. I knew I was old school, but I didn’t know I was in such good company.

Enlightenment Is Its Own Sustenance

Enlightenment Is Its Own Sustenance

BBC: A meditating teenage boy in south-central Nepal is drawing the attention of scientists after attracting huge crowds in the past six months and earning himself the name Buddha-reincarnate.


Ram Bahadur Bamjan’s friends, relatives and managers say he has been meditating without drinking water for six months now and that he will carry on for another six years until he gains enlightenment.

Most people can live without food for several weeks, with the body drawing on its fat and protein stores. But the average human can survive for only three to four days without water.

Followers of holy men and ascetics have often ascribed extraordinary powers to them, but such powers are seldom subject to scientific inspection.

But the number of people seeking real evidence here is increasing.