Thinking about activities to share with others

Over the past two weeks, I had been planning to go see Hugh Jackman’s concert with some friends. Apparently, he can sing quite well.

I found myself hesitating even as I juggled coupon codes and RSVPs. With a week to go and seats selling out, I ended up deciding not to go. I realized that I’d rather spend a quiet evening with W- or by myself than watch a concert.

One of my friends really wanted to go. He asked me if there was anything stopping W- from watching with us. I replied that it wasn’t really W-‘s kind of thing. Come to think of it, concerts aren’t particularly my kind of thing either.

That made me think about what activities I might share with friends, and about introversion and friendship.

It’s easy to reflect on this because J- provides good contrast. She’s on her summer break. At 13 years old, she’s independent enough to choose her own activities, such as sketching at home or walking over to friends’ houses. She’s comfortable spending time on her own, but she lights up when she hangs out with friends. Not a day goes by without a get-together.

I remember being a bit like that: enjoying lunch with friends at school, inviting people to our house for snacks, suggesting things to do and movies to watch. But I’m also really comfortable by myself or with W- and J-, so it takes effort to organize or go to get-togethers.

Time to break out a tool that I sometimes use to help J- think of ideas: the list. If I think about activities I can share with other people, then it might be easier to get out there and do it, and it might make it easier for other people to share activities with me.

Some ideas:

  • Concerts and symphony performances: Probably not. They tend to be more expensive, too.
  • Musicals: Very rarely. I enjoyed “Evil Dead” and “Wicked” greatly, and sprung for the awesomest tickets I could get. Other musicals tend to be .
  • Opera: I like opera. Watching opera makes the music come alive for me. I prefer community opera by the Toronto Opera Repertory over the Canadian Opera Company. Maybe it’s the memories (the particularly awesome date with W- that kicked all of this off). Maybe it’s knowing that the singers are doing this on top of their other lives.
  • Movies: Hmm. I watch some movies in theatres because I want to vote for them with my dollars or because I think the theatre experience will be worth it (usually great effects or decent 3D). Watching a movie is a fairly passive sort of experience, though.
  • Movies at home: I much prefer watching movies at home, actually – a cat or two on my lap, subtitles, the ability to pause it whenever, a comfortable couch, maybe laundry to fold… The library is awesome.
  • Exercise: Biking. Walking around. I’d be up for that, even if biking involves relatively little conversation unless there’s some sort of picnic.
  • Cooking: Definitely. I wish more of my friends organized potlucks, or were up to coming over for one. In the meantime, I host tea parties as an excuse to prepare interesting recipes. I enjoy the process of cooking, particularly when I’m sharing it with other people, and I like sharing the results.
  • Writing/reading/drawing/sewing: I think it would be really cool to share more of my learning activities with friends. I might be up for a book club, for example. Or a writing group with exercises. Or drawing lessons. Or sewing lessons, although I’m more keen on writing, reading, and drawing. =) I’d much rather develop skills than consume experiences.

It’s a little weird working on understanding this. J- plans the other way around: she calls people and invites them to hang out, and then they figure out what to do. I feel the influence of my introversion here. I often prefer to spend time writing (look! here I am) than hanging out.

I suspect it’s good to put myself in the way of learning from other people’s lives, though, especially since many people share their lives in conversation and not online. Maybe it’ll come in time. (I’m starting to have parent-y conversations about summer enrichment!)

What activities do you share with other people?

Ways to make winter better

I get hit pretty hard by the winter blues. The desaturated bleakness of the snow-laden landscape triggers an almost-physical reaction in me. While I may not be able to get rid of winter entirely (or escape to the Philippines as soon as the first snow falls), there are probably lots of little ways I can make winter a bit more bearable or even fun.

Here’s what makes winter better for me so far:

  • W-, who makes awesome home-made chicken noodle soup for when I’m dealing with a sore throat, and whose occasional cravings for baked goods results in the creation of yummy yummy muffins
  • The two cats, whose antics keep us laughing – who needs a TV?
  • The ability to do my work from home, particularly appreciated when the weather turns downright flurrisome
  • Two winter hats from Tilley’s, with convenient ear-flaps
  • Two pairs of winter boots
  • Enough pairs of tights to keep me warm
  • A fuzzy bathrobe
  • Fuzzy pajamas
  • Sock slippers and fuzzy socks
  • A microwaveable neck wrap filled with buckwheat
  • Scarves that add a little color to my day
  • Funny cat pictures as my screensaver
  • Giving myself permission to feel wintery instead of expecting the entire year to feel like summer
  • Tons of books from the library
  • Lots of green tea at home
  • A box of tea in my cabinet at work, plus hot chocolate mix for emergencies
  • A radiator in the basement
  • Large batches of comfort foods such as chili or curry

What could make this even better? Let me see if I can come up with any ideas…

  • More colors: I can put our favorite pictures on my iPod Touch and flip through them when the dreary landscape’s getting me down
  • More awesome music: Listening to the thrilling swells of opera makes it easier to get through the commute
  • An electric blanket or neck wrap, lighter than my microwaveable neck wrap and consistently warm instead of cooling off after five minutes or so
  • More winter hats; maybe a red one
  • Maybe a red coat! (You can tell I grew up chasing Carmen Sandiego)
  • Crafts: sewing might be good, although trying to fit items and fix seams is not fun when it’s cold. Maybe a home-made dress model will make things so much easier and more fun.
  • Monthly massages

While chatting with W- over the freshly-baked muffins he made, I realized that there isn’t really a lot I can buy in order to make winter life more awesome. Instead of buying another hat or another coat when I’ve got perfectly serviceable ones, I’d rather spend on extra ingredients and experiment with baking.

And who knows, I may even end up dusting off that book and working on it again… =)

Ideas for making my work more effective and efficient, creating value, and rocking my work

  1. Change to Ubuntu
  2. Set up virtual machine for my Windows partition
  3. Use Emacs to handle my mail? Hard to do calendar acceptance
  4. Set up regular backups
  5. Resize Windows partition
  6. Clean up my Firefox extensions
  7. Clean my keyboard
  8. Set up personal or team bugtracker – not needed, projects have ClearQuest
  9. Set up website with talks
  10. Improve visual communication skills by practicing illustrating Enterprise 2.0 concepts
  11. Improve random information management tools – book quotes, stories, etc.
  12. Add automated testing framework to projects
  13. Uninstall unneeded programs
  14. Set up IE5 on Linux
  15. Move orangechair blog to Slicehost
  16. Convert orangechar blog to Drupal
  17. Set my desktop background to my work goals sketch
  18. Set up an easy way to crosspost Enterprise 2.0 sites
  19. Figure out team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT)
  20. Write an article on Enterprise 2.0 for managers
  21. Guestblog.
  22. Organize a teleconference with an external speaker.
  23. Build a conference tool
  24. Write a well-researched blog post for orangechair
  25. Post a book review – Generation Blend?
  26. Help write a book
  27. Help plan our menu of services
  28. Help IBM partners and account teams learn more about Drupal
  29. Organize other IBM Drupal developers into a community
  30. Do SWOT analysis for IBM and Drupal development
  31. Develop more IBM Drupal extensions
  32. Record a vidcast or slidecast about Enterprise 2.0
  33. Summarize resources
  34. Segregate my blog topics a bit more, making it easier for people to read Enterprise 2.0-related news
  35. Organize IBM Web 2.0 for Business resources
  36. Publish newsletter
  37. Build aggregator for community
  38. Build IBM voices aggregator
  39. Help draw vision for smarter planet
  40. Ask my network for help in identifying potential clients.
  41. Create blog alerts for Enterprise 2.0 topics
  42. .. and more!

Ideas for improving my website

  1. Add a section about my speaking topics and events
  2. Switch to Drupal and customize it
  3. Restore the Feedburner widget that shows how many people read this blog
  4. Make it easy to view my blog through different lenses (geek, life, both)
  5. Have a landing page that explains the site for first-time visitors
  6. Allow people to choose their default landing page when they come to sachachua.com
  7. Add more photos
  8. Make my sketches easier to view
  9. Allow people to toggle full entry, summary, or list view
  10. Put my self-introduction on the front page
  11. Highlight certain blog posts
  12. Extract names, e-mail addresses, and websites of people who have commented, and thank them
  13. Remember to respond to comments by e-mail as well as online
  14. Find a way of sharing the books I’m currently reading and what I’m learning from them
  15. Add a page with my blogroll
  16. Link to my other presences on the Web
  17. Make it easier to remember visitors’ details
  18. Visualize my posts and my posting frequency
  19. Format into a nice PDF
  20. Pull in relevant Twitter entries
  21. Make it easier for people to subscribe
  22. Use category templates and icons
  23. Share my task list again?
  24. Share my currently-checked-out list again
  25. Share my book summaries
  26. Share my to-read list
  27. Share my reading history

Ideas for becoming a better networker

  • Load contact information onto my iPod Touch in a way that I can easily search
  • Explore using a system like SugarCRM
  • Add pictures to my contact records
  • Schedule real-life contacts weekly
  • Send updates to all of my contacts on LinkedIn and Facebook as well
  • Store people’s goals in their address book records
  • Find people’s blogs or other online profiles and put those in address book records; ask new acquaintances about those too.
  • Improve hypersegmentation of e-mail by creating code templates and data structures
  • Read more resources, and summarize them in hypersegmented monthly or quarterly e-mails
  • Find a way to enable my network to share their goals with each other.
  • Improve follow-up process by sending e-mail within three days of event
  • Develop templates I can customize for events
  • Organize an external event around a topic of common interest
  • Summarize my weekly reports into monthly reviews and highlighted blog entries
  • Visualize my contacts by last contact so that I can see who I haven’t been in touch with in a while
  • Visualize my contacts according to interest
  • Pick up a card scanner that works with Linux? (hmm, not needed yet)
  • Remember birthdays as a good excuse to ask people what they’re planning for the next year of their life and how I can help
  • Hold regular dinner parties
  • Expand size of dinner parties