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I mentally checked off several things from my to-do list this weekend, but I think I may have added more than I accomplished. I'm having trouble tracking the things I need to do and the things I want to do.

I've always been a list maker. I'm motivated by putting things on lists and by crossing things off. I'm endlessly frustrated at work by the lists that only ever get longer, never shorter.

In college, Bridget and I organized our semesters with Post-It calendars. At the beginning of each semester, we'd make calendars over our beds, one post-it per day, each month a different color. Then we'd go through the syllabi, marking all the assignments on the post-its, along with holidays and Medfest deadlines and everything else we needed to get done. Then as the semester went along and the work got done, the post-its came off the wall. Toward the end of the semester, there would usually be a couple stray post-its from two months back still up, because the rule was that they couldn't come down until they were completed.

In the last apartment John and I shared, I had a whiteboard hanging on the hallway wall. I put it up originally so I could track the guys he was dating and remember which was which when he talked about them. When he settled down for a while, I switched it to a to-do list. Some items stayed up perpetually, others changed from day to day, and some were there mostly for humor value. I miss the whiteboard. I wish I had somewhere to put it in the current place.

You see, the landlady has an obsession with not putting things on the walls. I thought this was a little crazy, like many of her other quirks, but I discovered the reason for this one. Apparently she just uses amazingly cheap paint. I had used masking tape to put up a long piece of paper for a running to-do list, and when I took it down, several layers of paint came with it. Fortunately, the paint was still in the garage. About five coats later, the spot is really only visible if you know where to look.

I really prefer to write on my walls, since it means anyone who walks in can see how far behind I am and make me feel guilty, but it just doesn't seem to be a good plan in this place. Notebooks and other paper lists haven't worked for me, because it's too easy to bury them under a pile of stuff and only find them months later. Therefore I am contemplating a software solution.

I need something web-based, since I want to be able to access equally easily from my laptop, the DuctTape DeskTop, and my work computer. It would be ideal if Google had something that worked well, since they already have my whole life anyway. My primary email is gmail, and I use the embedded chat. Most of the tribe uses Google Calendar, so it's by far the best way for me to do my scheduling. I've used Google Documents for collaborative projects. Most recently, this weekend I'm trying to put Google Reader into my routine, to try to get news without waiting for it to be filtered through my friends. The only thing I'm seeing that Google has for a to-do list is the Tasks embedded in Gmail. That interface doesn't really work for me, and I don't think it's going to be robust enough for what I'm looking for.

Whatever I use has to be able to handle multiple categories/lists, with the tasks being able to have multiple layers of sub-tasks. I'm all about lists of lists. I already have the pieces of lists sitting around in different places. In the middle of the pile I took off the scanner on Wednesday, there's the list of Just In Case I Win the Lottery: design my dream house, plan an international vacation. Three or four different lists are floating around with the Do Someday long-range goals: scan all the old pictures, list the tracks on the cassette tapes so I can get songs and recreate them as mix CDs and/or playlists. That's a complex task, so I would break it into sub-parts. Perpetually Needing To Be Done: do laundry, fold and put away laundry, iron clothes, buy groceries. Speaking of which, I want to be able to print sub-lists without printing the whole list, so I can keep my grocery list here too.

Things I'm Procrastinating About: email my mom a copy of my brother's wedding ceremony (on the list since April), call Melanie (on the list since yesterday). Actually, Melanie should be on the perpetual list, because I always owe her a phone call. Scheduling tasks, which I listed on my LJ about two weeks ago, and only got halfway through because I posted so many times that I don't see that post any more if I don't go looking for it. Self-Improvement: get back to the workout routine, read something non-fiction, improve my geek cred.

That last one has been bugging me. Going to cons these past few months has made it very evident to me that there are some enormous gaping holes in my background. I'm good at listening, nodding knowingly, and generally acting as if I understand (all skills I learned to survive my lack of pop-culture background), but I would really like to actually be able to follow the conversations. I'm trying to keep a list of things I need to read, watch, or otherwise experience, but without writing it down somewhere, I'm only retaining the top three: Dr. Who, Dr. Horrible, and the entire sub-genre of steampunk.

Yes, I know, I should read Girl Genius. That's been on my to-do list since forever. I just haven't been able to make myself care. Trust me, it's not that I don't recognize the amazing talent of the Foglios. I've been their fan for fifteen years, ever since I opened my first packs of Magic: The Gathering.[1] No, it's my deepest darkest (in context) secret: I really can't appreciate comic books at all.

I know, I know, bad geek, no cookie. It doesn't help that by far the majority of comic books are about superheroes, which also do nothing for me, whether in comic, film, or television (except, for some reason, that I like the X-Men movies). Even with a different subject matter, I just find the artwork distracting for the most part. The only comic I've ever subscribed to (albeit ostensibly as a gift to someone else) is Knights of the Dinner Table, where usually the artwork is irrelevant. [2]

So, while part of me wants to read Girl Genius, it's not really going to work for me as an introduction. I really need to have the background first. Lucky for me, Katie MacAlister has come to my rescue. She's a romance author who is clearly People Like Me. The first of her books that I read was based around an online pirate-themed roleplaying game, just at the time that I was heavily involved in Puzzle Pirates. [3] That was all it took to hook me on her, and her subsequent geeky romances were also very entertaining to me. Well, she's just come out with a new one, which Amy has now loaned to me. In perfect timing for my purposes, this one has a steampunk theme. I'm hoping that this will serve as my gateway drug, giving me the information I need to understand what I'm seeing around me and have enough interest to catch up on the essentials. Because, as far as I can tell, it's something I should like, if only I could learn about it.

So, anyway, I welcome recommendations - on to-do list websites, geeky things I need to understand, and other things I should be doing and haven't yet done.


___________________________

[1] Back when Magic cards had interesting, varied art, and didn't all look the same. I understand the reasons for the style change and going to artists with a certain feel, for the branding. I still feel that it took a lot of the joy out of it for me. I can't get really attached to any of the sets since that change. I miss a lot of the old artists, the Foglios included. I think this is a large part of my dilemma about whether to keep the collection or try to sell it off. I still want to collect the older cards - the expensive ones - but don't care about the more recent stuff. And even though it's unlikely that we'll ever get into playing again, I don't like the idea of getting rid of the playable stuff, just in case. Well, I guess if I'm going to give in to hoarder impulses, better it be something that is fairly small - even if the total quantity is frightening large and heavy.

[2] I really miss getting Jeff's subscription to KoDT. One of these years when I'm looking to spend some money on myself, I should consider buying my own set of back issues and subscription. Maybe for my birthday or something.

[3] If we could just get our wireless connection to stop being flaky, I would go back to Puzzle Pirates. I like the games, and I used to be darned good at a couple of them. I still don't do the talking-to-strangers thing, so the whole social aspect is kind of lost on me, but there was enough room for individual achievement to be useful. It would be better than playing a gazillion Facebook games.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
ourika
Mar. 1st, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
There's a local game store here that, according to the owner, has the largest collection of Magic cards for hours, and it's the only place in even further than sells them single. I say that in case you ever want to drive all the way to Potsdam to see if you can find any of those old, expensive cards ;-)

I've always been mind boggled by the idea of not hanging things on walls. I can't stand places that you can't hang stuff on the walls. My last apartment was like that, and it drove me wild! I couldn't even hang curtains because not only was there a "no hanging things" rule, but there were no curtain rods!

What about getting an easel for a marker board?
ourika
Mar. 1st, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
PS: Haven't been to Puzzle Pirates in forever. I've been too busy on LOTRO. Do you read Shortpacked? I love this comic. http://www.shortpacked.com/
(Deleted comment)
tristam
Mar. 1st, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
If you lived closer I would fix the lack of Dr. Who knowledge for that was my first fandom and still my central one. I've even hooked my children. If you would like a taste of it, try this

http://www.youtube.com/user/babelcolour?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/30/zc4HSf6NKiQ

I recommend anything Babelcolour has done really. If you see a cool scene, I can direct you to the episode it came from. :)
collacentaur
Mar. 1st, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
I'll take a look another day.

Until December, when friends gave me a quick tutorial, just about everything I knew about Dr. Who was what I've picked up from knowing you and Amber.
tristam
Mar. 1st, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
Happy to be service. :) As it happens, I've recently debated with friends which episodes to use as an introduction to both New Who and Classic Who so if you would like suggestions, let me know. Netflix has a pretty good selection.
turtle_morn
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
I've never found anything as good as the post-its. But the post its aren't portable and I don't live in a tiny cinderblock cube anymore, so they don't work either.

Closest I've found is Remember the Milk. It takes a fair amount of setting up tags and such to make it useful, but you can tie it into google calendar, which is nice. It doesn't nag me the way old post-its on the wall did, though. Nothing could.
amy_pearlman
Mar. 1st, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on this -- I've been spending the last few weeks fighting with the whole to-do list dilemma, made more complicated as I have a million projects and large task sets that needs subtasks, and I need to be able to indicate their interactions.

Google does have a tasks thingie, it's pretty basic. For me it's the link below contacts on the left -- I originally turned it on as a lab, so if you don't have it already, look there.

Remember the Milk is a pretty widely used one, and pretty good if you're looking for relative simplicity. There's about a million Web based ones, and very few of them are better.

I was liking one called Chandler, which is a Web site and also an installed app which syncs with the web interface, but it looks like development has stalled.

I have finally (at least for now) settled on doit.im, which is free, an Adobe AIR app (which means it needs an install, but installs anywhere), has an iPhone app (yeah I know, you don't care) and kind of thinks like I do.

That being said, in Windows, very few things are usefully assertive, and nothing Web based will be without you being on the site, or liking email or SMS reminders.
collacentaur
Mar. 1st, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
I'm not much worried about reminders. Work stuff has its own set of systems, and the parts that don't work aren't my fault. This is just for my personal stuff, and I'm usually pretty good about staying on top of things with actual deadlines. (I do this for a living, after all.) It's all the someday and want-to-do stuff that I lose track of.

I'm going to try out Todoist first and see how that goes.
daernhelm
Mar. 2nd, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
By far the easiest of the Geek Cred options is Dr. Horrible... 45 odd minutes later and your done. And you get to see Nathan Fillion. :-)

I for some reason have more trouble with SteamPunk than almost any other genre... I just don't like it, something about it really rankles my historian button. (yes I have one... no you can't see it)

amy_pearlman
Mar. 2nd, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I should note that while I know far more about Dr Who and derivatives than I'd like, I'm still not interested. Much like Trek. I understand it, I even have a captain preference, but I just don't *care*.
collacentaur
Mar. 2nd, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
That's about how I feel about Batman.

And I'd like to get to at least that level on the things noted above, and undoubtedly on others I can't think of. If I don't care, I don't care, but I want to at least understand.

For that matter, see also the conversation on professional wrestling Saturday night. That's basically exactly what I'm thinking of. I don't care, really, but if I'm going to sit through a conversation about it anyway, I want to be able to follow what's being said.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )