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ATPM 11.01
January 2005



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The Candy Apple

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

We Are Resolute But Not Making Resolutions

I did a piece two years ago about not making New Year’s resolutions. I think they are trite. I think we should resolve every day to become the people we want to become.

But sometimes we need a kick in the pants, and calendars make that easier. Fine.

Resolved: We will back up all our stuff that needs backing up. I ordered a thumb drive for this purpose after I saw one in action over the summer. For $40 you get a thing the size of, well, your thumb, and it will hold the really important stuff as a backup. Many models have snazzy lanyards and key-chain thingies. Whatever it takes to get us to do it and quit saying we’re going to do it.

Resolved: We will dust. Maybe even spray the monitor with glass cleaner. There is serious gunk back there behind the units, for those of us who do not have laptops, and it is dusty. It is beyond bunnies.

Resolved: We will change the batteries in the smoke detector. I know, you were supposed to do that in October when you changed the clocks, but just in case you live somewhere where you don’t change the clocks, make two dates a year to change the batteries. Now is good. I may forget to remind you in July, but you have fancy calendar software to set that up, right?

Resolved: We will clean out our bookmarks/favorites. I mean, really. Do you visit all those places?

Resolved: We will send a postcard to a buddy. As if that has anything to do with computing. OK, send it to a computer buddy. Send it to an Internet friend you’ve never met in person. E-mails are terrific, and so are IMs and all that. But handwriting is also cool, and more personal. I do not mean an e-card, either! Get a real one, or a whole book of them, and send one a week. If you don’t have anybody to send one to, send it to the White House. Or address it to Postmaster: Anytown. Look up some goofy town and write to the post office staff there. I would say send it to me, but I don’t know if ATPM has a snail-mail address. We must have. I just never needed it. See, we’re all volunteers here, and there are no paychecks or anything. Which reminds me: volunteer for something. One hour a week. You can do it. It is a good way to connect with other people, unless you volunteer to pick up trash on the highway. But then we will think you are doing forced community service, so choose something else. I’m kidding. Do whatever you like. Improving the world makes you feel better. Write something for ATPM. You probably have something to say.

Resolved: Those of you who are not using Mac OS X will think hard about moving up. I’m not saying to upgrade if you don’t need to, but I do want you to know it is not hard, and you will like it. Just be sure that you back up your bookmarks and saved e-mails and address books and everything you will ever need again. But once you do that, the whole process takes maybe an hour. If you don’t want to spend the money yet and you are getting by, fine. If it is fear holding you back, banish it. Go to an Apple store and play around with the new OS. It is fun.

Resolved: Oh, surely that’s enough for now. If you are into this kind of thing, check out that old column here. If you want an exercise plan, write me. I just created a new one for myself.

Hey, the idea here is not to turn over a new leaf. That makes it stressful and performance-oriented. If something needs fixing, just fix it. One task at a time. If you try to change all your stuff at once, it is too complicated. Do one thing until it is just what you do. Then add something else. It is that simple.


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Reader Comments (6)

Ed Williams · January 1, 2005 - 00:57 EST #1
Dear Ellyn,

Ethically speaking, Aristotle would have loved you. You are both quite human(istic) about being good. Postcards ARE good. And sweet too.

A bit more serially, a very nice column and a Happy This Year to you and yours. - Ed Williams
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · January 1, 2005 - 02:16 EST #2

Thanks much. I am a big fan of Aristotle's. He has a lot to say about becoming a virtuous soul, and I try to say the same things. Mostly, the secret is in doing a thing until it is just what you do, and then you don't think about it anymore. One day I will publish a book explaining it, but that's really all it is. Virtue is its own reward, and it is for people who do not require a reward.

Or something like that. :)
Conrad Beauregard · January 1, 2005 - 06:49 EST #3
Thanks Ellyn. Just what I needed to start a new year. I've called my cat to get at those "dust bunnies"

Happy and Healthy New Year to all.
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · January 4, 2005 - 18:54 EST #4
In the interest of full disclosure, I believe I should say I get some of my appreciation for how to start a new habit from William James, and some from my friend Lynn. James tells us to Just Do It, and Lynn tells us to take small steps and accomplish them, before trying to take more steps.
Michael Sandy · February 14, 2006 - 16:41 EST #5
That humor still abound in you after all these years.

I think new years resolutions are good but 99% of the people who make them never follow through.

Keep up the good work!
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · February 14, 2006 - 18:06 EST #6
Wow. I knew Michael when we were 11.


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