Tag Archives: Television

Inbox Zero and Consumption Culture

Inbox Zero and GTD changed how I work. The tips of “Don’t constantly be reading incoming email” and “move email messages out of your inbox” are keys to how I succeed at managing what seems like a deluge of incoming email. It’s changed me, in some ways for the worse. I see inboxes everywhere now.

I’ve got a Netflix Instant queue filled with movies I’m never in the mood to watch. I feel bad that I have hundreds of unread articles in Pocket. I just unsubscribed to The Magazine because I couldn’t keep up to date with new issues. I even quit playing Words With Friends, because it was just another inbox.

That’s just the beginning. My Letterboxd watchlist has just over 400 movies added. My Downcast “Everything” playlist tells me I have 238 unplayed podcast episodes (a little over 100 hours). I just added up some 25 seasons of TV shows I’d like to watch, including Breaking Bad, Supernatural, Sopranos, and many others. The unread shelves in my Goodreads have 168 books. I’ve got a stack of video games that each deserve 40-50 hours of play time. Let’s not even talk about comic books, new music, board games, and Longform articles published online.

For a long time I felt almost crushed under the pressure of not having any time to consume all these things. Really, who has that kind of time? I’d need some 2,500 hours of free time to get through all my lists of unread/unwatched/unconsumed stuff. If I spent 2 hours a day, it would take me almost 3 and a half years.

Then I realized: then it’ll take 3 and a half years. It’s not going anywhere. Some of those movies and TV shows I’ll watch with my wife, some of the movies, books, or podcasts will be things I want to talk about with friends. Some of those books will get made into movies, some of the podcasts episodes will be worth skipping, some of the movies I won’t finish, and some of the video games won’t merit a second playthrough.

When I first got my Xbox 360, the game I played most was this puzzle game Hexic. You just spin these pieces around in the grid shaped game area. It dazzled me and I played for hours. I was the same way with Tetris. And nearly every other video game I can remember, I was constantly replaying it to master a top score or best time. I must have rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy every week of my childhood, and I can’t count the times I’ve seen some of the movies we watched as a family growing up (Romancing the Stone, So I Married an Axe Murderer, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure come to mind). I think as a teenager I saw more reruns of Quantum Leap and Saved by the Bell than any single person should.

I think most people are like this. I think most people are daunted by the things they haven’t done/seen and comforted by the things they know best. I think most people would rather eat at the restaurant they know they like then try some place new, or eat at the same entree than try something they may not like. Sometimes its nostaliga that has us watch old movies we love instead of a new one or revisit vacation destinations than visit a new city. It takes a great deal of effort to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and take a risk.

So I refuse to think of my Watchlists as Inboxes anymore. They are wishlists. They are a pantry. They are a rainy day toy box. No one ever feels pressure to use up all the flour and sugar in their pantry. Just use it as needed, since it’s not perishable. When Christmas is over, no one should ever feel pressured to buy up the rest of their Christmas list. It’s about enjoying what you have, not what you don’t. And some toys you keep stashed, in case kids can’t play outside. So that is my new philosophy. And I feel much better.

If only I could make a decision on what movie to watch next.

Lost. Thank Heaven It Is Over.

I’ve been ready for the show to end for years now. I’m quite happy it’s over.

Season 1 sucks you in. Season 2 ranks among my favorite seasons of any television show. Season 3 had one of the best season finale cliffhangers I’ve ever seen. Seasons 4 & 5 were painfully slow and redundant. Season 6 started off with lots of promise, but proved to be a false grail.

Important set pieces were proven meaningless in the larger story. The statue of The Devil? The Temple? The Lighthouse? Just like the Dharma station The Looking Glass. It only showed up in one episode, only served one purpose in the story, and was just contrived conflict. And that’s essentially season 4-6 of Lost: Contrived Conflict.

The biggest loose end of the show: how do the flashsideways connect to the original narrative? The answer from the finale: they don’t. It’s just a huge “what if” (despite the fact that the entire premise of the “what if” ACTUALLY HAPPENED) where we pretend the island is sunk. But it didn’t sink. And everybody isn’t dead. What a gutless approach. Nope; contrived.

Goodbye Lost. You had me then you lost me. I will remember you fondly and selectively.

UPDATE: I’m stuck thinking about Juliet blowing up the bomb at the end of season 5 and premier of season 6. an event so important they showed it twice. she had a look of revelation on her face and said “it worked” just before she died. their goal was to make Oceanic 815 land in L.A. in 2004. That didn’t happen (though they all imagined it did in their post-life tweetup). The only thing it did was return the survivors in the 1970s back to the 2007 timeline. What good did that do? That was nowhere near their original goal and all of the flashsideways from season 6 was a fakeout. Bad form.


  • I’m searching through a table with 15 foreign keys trying to find a specific person on a specific day, then find out which foreign keys are actually meaningful. ‘LastModifiedBy’ is one I can probably skip. But this one stored procedure has been my biggest timesaver this week.

sp_fkeys @fktable_name = ‘<TABLENAME>’

  • I’m searching through the SALE and TRANS tables trying to find discrepancies. On the surface, they look identical [same number of rows, same number of distinct rows, same dollar total]. But a report I don’t trust anyway says there’s a $4000 difference. I got to say this to Amy Accounting: “I’ll be happy to look into it but it won’t be today; there are too many other important things.”
  • I’m running 4 different IM protocols, talking over all of them to coworkers, vendors, friends, and more coworkers.

Finale of Battlestar Galactica tonight, 8pm Central. I’m going to run/walk 7.5 miles tomorrow morning. I’ve got to pick up a new Rock Band guitar controller, new insoles for my running shoes, clean my kitchen, and at some point get 8 hours of sleep.

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

I didn’t know what to think of it at first, since it just seemed like overt merchandising. But it came highly recommended so I gave it a long look. Turns out, Travis already bought a copy. So we played a trial run Thursday night with 4 people and played 2 games Friday night with 5 people. There is a lot to love with this game.

I’m a sucker for strategy games and some of my favorite games combine strategic movement/placement on the game board with game politics between players. The Battlestar Galactica game puts a whole new spin on things. Politics is the foremost skill in the game and strategy and tactics flow from the political climate of the game. It uses an entirely different side of the brain and when the second game ended just after 1 am, all 5 of us weren’t really tired and probably could have played another one.

Here’s the kicker: in a game of 5 people, 2 people end up being cylon. There are about 10 ways for the cylons to win, but the humans win if they can survive long enough to reach earth. In both games last night, Herch and I drew the cylon loyaty cards and we got back to back turns. We destroyed so many civilian ships, we took the population down from 11 to 1 in two rounds. It was devious fun. And I’ve been on the human side of things too, because as soon as the cylons start to get a bit of momentum there’s a real sense of panic because you can just feel the game slipping away.

I can definitely see this game being in the regular rotation.

And I was on vacation all this last week, so I’m caught up on sleep and caught up on a few tv shows. Part of me wanted to get out of town for a while, I even priced a 3 day trip to Arizona for the start of the Cactus League, but as soon as the Mariners signed Ken Griffey Jr, all spring training tickets at Peoria Sports Complex sold out by the end of the day. Too bad, because the Mariners squad embarrased the Dodgers 18-2 and that would have been fun to watch.

Board, Card, & Video Games

I remember the good old days when I get in on a game of spades any night of the week. I remember finding out the next day about some crazy game, epic hand, or insane strategy the next day. No one was married or had kids or had to work late because they were up against a deadline. Thursday night was as good as Friday night. If you felt like getting a game together, you could always find a fourth.

Now I find that we all watch more television and play fewer games.

But last night several of us showed up at a friend’s for his birthday. We had dinner, caught up on how we’ve been, then dusted off some games. Mission Risk is still just as much fun as it used to be. I still don’t know if I’ve ever won a game of Mission Risk (or world domination for that matter) but just about any game is fun when played among fun people. Case in point, I just bought a game called Munchkin. It brags that it’s all the fun of Dungeons & Dragons but without the pesky roll playing. We started laughing and yelling so loud that the 2 year olds playing in the other room wandered in to see what they were missing.  New Years Eve we’re all getting together again and I hope we can get a game of Munchkin to happen.

Speaking of New Years Eve, Twilight Imperium shall be played. It’s the single most complex strategy board game I’ve played (though I am sure there are others even more complicated). The last time we played it took 5 hours. It’s like a mashup between Axis & Allies and Settlers of Catan but with an emphasis on game politics. There’s a unique game board each time and each player has special bonuses and can build technology for even more bonuses. After 7 games and about 40 hours of game play, I think I have a winning strategy. I’ve actually won twice.

I signed up for gamefly.com recently and the first game I rented was Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Thoroughly unimpressed with the Aerosmith songs, but the other tracks are fun. I actually played for a little while today and the fun didn’t last very long. I had these great dreams of really getting my money’s worth out of my gamefly.com subscription, but so far, well not so much. I just can’t devote whole days a video game anymore. Although I still contend there’s no better way to break in a new CD than to listen to it while playing Tetris with the TV muted.

This Tuesday I’ve got a game night with some of my oldest friends planned. Indeed, we have a fourth: time for a late night game of spades. The next day (Christmas Eve) I’ll be heading to Memphis which means cribbage and progressive rummy. I’ll always love spending time with my family, if for no other reason than it’s the only place in the world where I can get a game of progressive rummy.