Reading blogs: Bloglines vs Google Reader

I recently switched from Bloglines to Google Reader for reading blogs and news.  I’ve decided to stick with Google Reader and here’s why:

  • It’s easier to add a feed, i.e. blog.  It’s one click instead of several screens.
  • It’s easier to change a feed’s folder, i.e. category.
  • I can set it up to only show me the feeds that have new posts.
  • If I click on a folder, it doesn’t mark all the posts read until I actually scroll past them.  (In Bloglines, if I clicked on a folder all 200+ unread messages I had to read them all right then as they all got marked read immediately.)

Things I liked better in Bloglines:

  • I could put my folders in any order I wanted.  Google Reader puts them in alphabetical order.
  • Pictures and links in the posts seemed to show up better in Bloglines.

New blogs

I’ve created two new blogs.  You should check them out!

This blog, Stormy’s Corner, will stay the same.

New Chinese Adoption Rules

Adopting from overseas is very popular but not easy.  The process starts with the research – which countries are an option (including the US), what are their rules, costs, corruption levels, etc.

China has published their new adoption rules.  They must have more than enough foreigners looking to adopt because the new rules are much more restrictive than the old ones.  (Turns out they have twice as many applications as kids.) Starting next May:

  • no singles
  • you must be married at least two years
  • if either one has been divorced before they must be married for five years
  • no couple that has more than two divorces between them
  • no more than five kids in the home (including the prospective adoptee)
  • nobody who is taking medicine for depression or anxiety
  • nobody who has cancer or AIDS
  • no people with a BMI of more than 40  (That’s extremely obese – 250 pounds on a 5’6" frame.)
  • you must have a net worth of over $80,000
  • you must have at least $10,000 in income a year for each member of the household including kids (and including the propective adoptee)
  • have a high school diploma
  • be between 30-50 years old

The process of adopting is
usually long one, starting with the research, and it is also pricey.
Getting a baby from China will end up costing a family $20,000 in fees.

Some of this information comes from China Tightens Adoption Rules for Foreigners.

Law of Attraction

I deleted two posts today.  Why?

I finished listening to The Attractor Factor by Joe Vitale and I’m listening to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  While I keep thinking The Secret is kind of hoakey, I buy into it.  What it claims fits not only my life experience but what I’ve noticed in others.  Basically the law of attraction says that you attract what you think about.  So if you think positive thoughts, you’ll attract postive things.  If you think about money all the time, you’ll attract money.  If you think about how you don’t have enough money, you’ll never have enough money.  It sounds hoakey but it works.  Think about it.

I’ll give you two examples.  One, the woman that cleans our house always has some tragedy going on.  Her granddaughter got bit by a dog, one of her kids is going through bankruptsy, her son’s dog got stolen, … I’ve known her for several years now and everytime I talk to her something terrible has just happened to her.  I think her focus on the negative brings her negative experiences, as terrible as that sounds.

On the flip side, in college I always knew I’d have enough money.  Granted, that wasn’t such a big deal as Mom and Dad paid for tuition and board but the money I earned paid for clothes, eating out, entertainment, furniture, gas, etc.  I always knew I had enough and I did. I remember one time getting an unexpected $200 bill and in panic sat down to rebalance my checkbook just in case.  And what do you know?  I’d made a $200 mistake the week before.  I always had enough because I always believed I had enough.  Granted, I caused that to happen – I always had at least one job if not two or three and they all paid well.

While the books make the Law of Attraction sound like some kind of voodoo (The Secret more so than the Attractor Factor), I think they are on to something.  So I’m thinking postive thoughts: I have a great family, a good job, plenty of money, lots of interesting activities to keep me busy, lots of good books to read, …

A lesson in loving and postive teaching

Frank says I’m too hard on our six year old sometimes.   I don’t think my expectations are too high or too hard but I do think I could use a more positive approach sometimes.  "Don’t do that!" and "that’s not very good manners" are certainly not teaching how to behave but rather how not to behave.  I got a great lesson directly from our six year old last night.

We were playing Uno and I was holding the baby.  The baby of course was trying to get the cards into his mouth.  I said, "you’d better not slobber on the cards or your big brother will be upset with you."  To which our six year old immediately jumped in with a very concerned look on his face, "No, no, no …. I wouldn’t be!"  Now those Uno cards are his prized possesion and yet he wouldn’t be mad at his little brother for slobbering on them!

Now you might say the six year old wasn’t really teaching his baby brother anything.  But he was saying it was ok to mess up and he was showing a great teaching style.  If our six year old stepped on one of my books and bent the cover I’m sure I would sound upset!  So I can learn from him …

Bad thoughts never hurt anyone … but you

I was listening to The Secret on the way home and loved this thought:

Your negative thoughts never hurt anyone but yourself.

How many times have you complained about someone, sworn at the driver in front of you or fumed about the rude customer service rep?  All those negative thoughts didn’t hurt the people you were mad at at all – those thoughts just put you in a bad mood and probably started a spiral of negativity for the rest of the day.

Atheists, agnostics & charity

I just discovered that "three of the four greatest American philanthropists have been atheists or agnostics" thanks to the New York Times.  They are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Andrew Carnegie.  John D. Rockefeller is the fourth and he’s the exception.

This struck me for two reasons.  One, I have Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion on my reading list because it has gotten so much publicity.  He argues there is no god and the reason I thought of it just now is because I listened to a radio show where he explains why atheists still contribute to charity.  I can’t off the top of my head recreate his argument for you, but once I’ve read the book, I’ll post again.  (The other reason I have Richard Dawkin’s book on my reading list is because I really like his book The Selfish Gene.  In it he argues that our bodies are just vessels for our genes and that evolution is all about propogating our genes – our intelligence, our humor, our survival rate is all related to how well our individual genes do not our whole being.  Until I read it I’d always thought all of our characteristics had evolved to make our whole being successful.  Thinking about it at the gene level turned everything upside down and inside out.)

The second reason this struck me is that I always have a hard time explaining why I volunteer.  I don’t volunteer because I think I’m supposed to do so for religious reasons.  I don’t volunteer because that’s what I think I’m supposed to for any reason.  I volunteer because I enjoy it.  I enjoy three things about volunteering:

  • learning new things.  I have learned how to train dogs, understand the battered woman’s mindset, build houses (sort of), etc.
  • meeting new people.  Other than work, family and classes, this is one of the main ways I meet people.
  • helping people.  What I can’t explain is why I enjoy helping people.  Why does it make me feel good to make somebody else feel good? 

I believe helping people makes everyone feel good even though a lot of people don’t know it!  I remember leaving a bar late one night with a friend and there was a guy in the parking lot with a car that obviously had problems.  I asked him if he needed a push start and when he did, I made my friend help.  My friend was amazed.  "You are so good!"  I told him at the time that once you’ve owned a car that needs push starting a lot you tend to notice people that need a push start.  But now that I think about it, I don’t think he realized that he felt good because he’d helped.  I can tell you all the times I’ve push started a stranger’s car (a lot!) and each time I felt really good afterwards. (I can also tell you all the times a complete stranger has stopped to help me with something and that made me feel really good too – even when I didn’t think I needed the help.)

But I still can’t tell you why it makes me feel good to help someone who needs it.

Books about open source software

I often get asked to recommend reading on open source software so I thought I'd share with everyone.

Here are the two staples I recommend to everyone:

Then, depending on who was asking and what they were looking for, I might also recommend:

  • The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source
    by Martin Fink. This book does a good job of explaining why and how
    open source software can be useful in an enterprise. How does the new
    model fit into business?
  • Succeeding with Open Source
    by Bernard Golden. If Martin Fink's book is the why open source fits
    into business, Bernard Golden's book is the how. It goes over the ROI
    of using open source software and describes a selection and evaluation
    process in detail.

Then there's two books that I haven't read yet but are high on my
list and come highly recommended by others. (I actually own copies of
them which shows my good intentions!)

  • Open Sources 2.
    This is a sequel to Open Sources and contains essays by some of the
    newer people in the field and people that I think of more as enablers
    and business people – the people bringing open source to businesses –
    than the people that created the actual open source software.
  • The Success of Open Source by Steven Weber. I've been told that this book does an excellent job of explaining the open source movement at a broad level.

So there you go. In case you didn't have anything to read over your
holidays, now you've got a whole list on one of my favorite topics!

Generations and life goals

The other day Dad was trying to tell me that young people today don’t care as much about politics and social causes. I wasn’t sure whether I agreed or not but I did take umbrage at his example of a dad who drove a pinto and whose son drove an SUV.  Dad seemed to think that was a good example of how the child didn’t believe in social causes.  I didn’t get it.  How did having a nice car relate with not believing in social causes?

Well, this morning in the New York Times I read a stat that seemed to imply that young people are focusing on money at the expense of philosophy.  Who Americans Are and What They Do, in Census Data – New York Times:

In 1970, 79 percent said their goal was developing a meaningful philosophy of life. By 2005, 75 percent said their primary objective was to be financially very well off.

So there you go, Dad.  Your argument holds because the time invested to earn an SUV is replacing the time spent on social issues.  (Assuming people spend time on their primary goals!)

The Joy of Not Working

While I was on maternity leave I decided I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  Most of my friends work so they weren’t available to do things with in the middle of the day and the few that didn’t work were pretty busy living their lives.  So what was I supposed to do all day? (Actually, I alternated between not knowing what do do and feeling like all I had time to do was run errands.  How do we get all those errands done when we are working full time?) A lot of the things I normally would have done weren’t possible.  For example, I couldn’t work out for the first couple of weeks after giving birth.  I couldn’t go hiking or bike riding with a two week old infant.  So when I stumbled across a book called The Joy of Not Working:  A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked- 21st Century Edition, I ordered it.  However, by accident I got How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor.  They both turned out to be pretty interesting.  Since then I’ve bought another copy of the retirment book and lent them to my in-laws and my 89 year old grandmother – at their request!

Ernie Zelinki‘s main point is that most of us don’t know what to do if we aren’t working.  (And to those of you who read my blog who are happily retired, I congratulate you!)  He says we get some of our basic social needs from work:

  1. Organization – What time do you wake up?  What are you supposed to do all day?
  2. Purpose – What’s your purpose in life?  What are you trying to accomplish?
  3. Community – Who do you do things with? 

The books are written in a pretty simplistic style but he has a lot of good points.  He strongly encourages people to get interests outside of work and to not be dependent on work for a sense of community and purpose.  He also gives lots of just basic good life advice like maintain your health, make good friends, etc.  In addition, he provides a few exercises and ideas for doing that.  I agreed with a lot of what he said, like making a few good friends instead of lots of casual friends, not watching tv, and participating in lots of different activities.

He also advocated working for yourself at something you enjoy rather than working for somebody else.  I’ve been listening and reading a lot of self development books and blogs and this seems to be a common theme.  Work for yourself, follow your passions, develop your interests, don’t drone on and on at your desk job.  Ernie as well as many others point out that money and/or retirement will not make you happy by themselves.  You have to have a sense of purpose, a group of friends and a set of activities you enjoy in order to be happy in life.