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Planning & Plotting

April 2, 2006

"Fear not those who argue, but those who dodge."
-Dale Carneige

"Success favors the prepared mind."
-Louis Pasteur

My Dad has owned a Franklin Planner for years. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a leather-bound binder that helps you stay organized. This past week I had one purchased for me for work, and already I can see how it is making a positive impact on things for me.

Organization has long been a weak suit for me. I have so many thoughts and ideas that I end up losing track of everything that I am supposed to remember. It just seems inevitable. Not that I'm turning into Leonard Shelby from Memento, but when you have to keep track of many things, it can be easy sometimes for things to slip through the cracks. At least it has been for me.

But I tell you what, after just a few days of using the Planner, I can see how it is helping me not only plan and organize, but also avoid procrastination. When something is written down right there to be done *today*, there's a certain obligation to get it done. At least with my task-driven mind, that's how it works. For example, I've needed to get Sprint (my cell carrier) my new mailing address. This has been the case since I moved here, but I put it off. But I put it on the to-do list for today, and lo and behold, I knocked it out before noon.

They say when it comes to weaknesses, try to turn those you can into strengths, and the rest accept if they cannot be changed. If you find yourself to be someone lacking organization, I say give it a shot. My Dad swears by his; he's used it for years. I have discovered that it beats writing lots of things of lots of pieces of paper, then forgetting what is written where and ultimately wasting valuable time trying to find it.

One thing that I found my chance today was the Alabaster post office. I looked online for the address, and I thought it was strange that it had "no phone number" listed for it. But I wrote down the exact directions, took the rather confusing roads (with street titles like "Place" and directions like NW that make the St. Petersburg numbering scheme seem sensible in comparison), only to find an old building that still said "Alabaster, Alabama" on the outside but appeared to have had the "United States Postal Service" 70s style lettering removed from the exterior. It now houses a "Two Men & A Truck" outlet (and I thought they only were in the Tampa area.) But as I went from there to Walgreens, I passed by... the brand new Alabaster Post Office. What great fortune!

Scotty J. from Boogie Nights
Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Scotty J. in Boogie Nights.

I had a mini-movie marathon this weekend, watching three excellent films: A History of Violence, Capote, and Good Night, and Good Luck. A History of Violence was probably my favorite of the three, though all three were outstanding in their own way. As my movie expert friend Adam W. Kelley told me, and I'll tell you, see the movie, but find out as little about it as you can before you see it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was excellent in his portrayal of Truman Capote in Capote (and I see now why he beat Joaquin Phoenix and the rest of the other nominees for the Best Actor Oscar -- he did a fantastic job.) Though, it is always hard for me to see Hoffman without thinking of him as Scotty J. in Boogie Nights.

Good Night, and Good Luck I really liked from a personal standpoint, since I worked in the TV news biz and could appreciate the way that the film captured all of the subtle nuances of putting together a weekly news program in what seemed to me to be a very accurate fashion. When I parted ways with WTSP in 2003 (a CBS affiliate, ironically enough), I left a printout picture of Edward R. Murrow hanging up in my cube. I'm not sure if many people there caught the relevance of it, or even cared. But let's just say its placement wasn't a case of happenstance.

I had breakfast/lunch today at the Waffle House next to the Alabaster interstate exit. One nice thing about living in the Birmingham area is that seemingly at every I-65 exit is a Waffle House. It's hard to go wrong with that at any time. In a very unusual scene, every person working there (approx. 5-6) was a woman. As I was leaving, a guy arrived (who appeared to be a manager type), but still I'd never seen anything like that before. The women held things down just fine, in case you were wondering.

As I was about to leave, I spotted a woman running toward my car, waving her arms rather frantically. She told me that her truck wouldn't start, but she and the guy she was with had jumper cables. I pulled up and let them try jumping their ride off of mine, but no dice. Now I'm no mechanic, but from the many problems I had with my old Taurus (Barry) and its alternator problems when I was in high school, I learned how to diagnose start-up problems. The jumper cables were put in the right place, and the guy tried turning the wheel... but no dice. He tried again... but again nothing. I offered him use of my cell phone if he needed to call someone, but he said that wasn't necessary. Their accents told me that they were from Alabama, but I couldn't tell if they were locals or if they were from out of town. My guess was that their starter had gone bad (it wouldn't even turn over when he tried turning the key), but like I said, I'm no mechanic. I hope they managed to get the problem fixed, whatever it was.

I've intentionally not written about yesterday's college basketball games yet because they made me pretty mad. If Florida was going to beat George Mason, I at least wanted LSU to knock off UCLA so we'd have an all-SEC Championship Game. Instead we get Florida vs. UCLA, which isn't exactly my idea of a dream title game. Hmm, a team from my least-favorite conference (the PAC-10) vs. my least-favorite SEC team (Florida.) I do respect Florida coach Billy Donovan (though I don't have that reverence for him that some friends of mine in Huntington do, since he got his head coaching start at Marshall... nevermind that it was 8 or so years ago that he departed for UF), and I have been impressed by the rebounding play of Joakim Noah, but still it's not a Big Baby vs. Noah matchup, or a UCLA vs. George Mason "Legend vs. Small Conference" storyline that I would've liked. And no matter who wins, I'll have that "ehh" feeling. I know this already.

Still, out of principle, I can't cheer for UCLA. The fact that they survived that game against Gonzaga still irks me. Plus, even though I'm no Florida fan, I'd like to see the SEC have the championship. And now that I'm out of Tampa, I won't be there to hear about it from the mostly obnoxious Florida fans who live there. For every non-obnoxious Gators fan like Neal Boling, there are probably 10-12 who drive me up the wall. At least here in Alabaster, I'm mostly away from that, though when football season rolls around, I'm going to hear about it from Alabama and Auburn fans alike, no doubt (since I'm a Tennessee fan.) So I suppose I'm pulling for Florida tomorrow night, but don't expect me to be doing any Gator chomps or donning any orange-and-blue outfits.

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