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Review: Trump 101 July 10, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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One of the last books I read from Donald Trump is “Trump 101”. Roughly said, it’s a summary of his insight’s and advices on how to succeed. Each chapter – and there are 33 – consists of a small introduction into a special topic, a part which is called “Coach Trump”, a part where interesting questions and answers from his blog are discussed and same chapters have included a sort of diary where Trump describes his daily activities in the week where his son Barron was born.

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Review: The Art of Happiness (Part 3) May 30, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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This post is about inner worth and the difference between happiness and pleasure.

Inner Worth

A sense of inner worth is very important these days. Not just that you have a inner worth but also the source of it plays a major role. The best thing you can do is to gain strength from multiple sources and not just a single one.

More on www.oxymoron.li

Review: The Art of Happiness (Part 2) May 12, 2007

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Second part of my review of the book “The Art of Happiness”.

It’s very difficult to get independent of external material things because western culture is mainly based on material acquisition. We are surrounded with ads, new cars to buy and so on.

There are two ways to reach inner contentment. More on my site.

Review: The Art of Happiness April 22, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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This is the first part of several entries I would like to make about the book “The Art of Happiness”. I will try to summarize the main ideas of the discussions between the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler and I will also try to add my own thoughts about certain topics.

Basic Idea

The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness.

The essential point is that happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events. It’s always better not to be dependent on external factors to be happy. Your happiness should be a result of your state of mind and attitude. So success may result in a temporary feeling of elation but sooner or later our overall level of happiness tends to migrate back  to a certain baseline. After a appropriate time period we always fall back to our day-to-day level of happiness. The length of that period depends on the importance of that event.
The interesting question is: Is it possible to modify the level of this baseline so that our “normal” happiness is on a higher level ?

Comparing Thoughts

Comparing a present situation with the past or comparing ourselves to others is very often the main source of unhappiness. For example let’s take a look at the income of a person and let’s assume that this year it is about $20’000. And let’s further assume that the person is happy right now. After months or maybe a year (that depends on the person) that person normally isn’t happy anymore with his income because he got used to this specific amount. After a pay raise for example to $25’000 he will be happy again, but it will not last forever, so the absolute amount can’t be a factor to be happy. It’s the pay raise itself that makes the person happy, but unfortunately only for a short time period. I think that the more frequent one gets such pay raises the shorter the time will be that the person is happy.

The second comparison we make and which makes us unhappy is the comparison with others. Most people can’t be happy if the neighbor is making more money. The absolute amount is not important anymore even if it is way too much to spend in a life time, people can be unhappy if someone else earns more.

The key thing is to get independent of external factors.

The Law of Attraction April 7, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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There is the idea and it is discussed under the topic of The Law of Attraction, that everything in your life and around you (good or bad) like your friends, your house, your job or career etc. was attracted by you and your thoughts.

The problem is, that most people constantly think about the things they don’t want. But this way of thinking gives more importance to the wrong part of your life, so consequently you begin to attract the things you don’t want instead of what you really want. People do have the wrong attitude most of the time.

Two quotes I want to mention concerning this topic are the following:

Whatever it is you are feeling
is a perfect reflection of what is
in the process of becoming.

What you think
and
what you feel
and
what manifests
is always a match.

It sounds strange and I think one needs some time to get used to this concept. This way of thinking means that the type of thoughts you have determine your future. It also means that what you are now is the result of what you thought in the past. Here is very good quote to that point from Buddha:

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.

One way to start to examine The Law of Attraction is to start thinking on what you want. Remove attention from the things you don’t want in your life. That sounds very trivial but that doesn’t mean that it is well known and accepted.

Room to Read March 18, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads, Management.
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The book I just finished was titled “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood.

Subtitle: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children

The book is about John Wood, a top executive at Microsoft. He was director of business development in the greater China region. After a three week vacation in Nepal his life had changed in a fundamental way. He began to question his whole life, his job and his marriage. From that moment on he wasn’t quite sure if the life he lived so far was exactly what he wanted. The trip inspired him to help the children in Nepal and to set up schools and libraries. Nepal’s illiteracy rate was 70 percent !

He built one of the most effective nonprofits called Room to Read which has now built more than 2000 schools and libraries throughout Asia and Africa! In fact he wanted to build “The Microsoft of Nonprofits”.

It is an amazing book with lots of inspiring ideas and I read it almost in one go during my vacation.

Read more about the book and some inspiring quotations on my site

John Wood on the book:

Apophis is coming ?/! December 2, 2006

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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copyright dpa Apophis is a 25-million-ton, 820 ft. wide asteroid which may or may not (that would be the worst case) pass the earth. That’s exactly the question we have to ask.

According to an article from David Noland in Popular Mechanics scientists calculated that if Apophis passes at a distance of exactly 18’893 miles it will go through a “gravitational keyhole”. If so Earth’s gravity will perturb the asteroid in the wrong way, causing a potential catastrophic impact precisely seven years later on April 13, 2036. The chances are 45’000:1 that it will go through that keyhole.

So what should we do about things with low-probability but extreme high-consequence risks? Should we say, ” Why bother, it’s not really going to happen” or are the consequences that serious that even a tiny risk is unacceptable ?

A fact is, that the consequences would be very serious. If Apophis hits water then it creates a 5-mile-wide, 9000 ft deep crater in the water. The collapse of that water crater would trigger tsunamis that would hit California with an hour-long fusillade of 50 ft. waves.

There are currently 5 ways to change the track of the asteroid.

  1. Bump it: a 1-ton kinetic energy impact
  2. Thrust it: a ion-drive rocket engine builds thrust over a few weeks on the asteroid
  3. Tug it:Gravity tractor
  4. Blast it: thermonuclear bomb placed inside Apophis
  5. Nuke it: nuclear explosion just above the surface

Learned also about the never heard “Yarkovsky Effect” that could also change the course of an asteroid just because of the radiation of the hotter surface which is exposed more to the sun.

Tom DeMarco’s "Der Termin" November 9, 2006

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads, Management.
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Vor kurzem hab ich zur Abwechslung wieder einmal ein deutsches Buch gelesen. Ich hatte Tom De Marcos’s “Der Termin” noch positiv in Erinnerung obwohl es doch schon einige Jahre zurück lag als ich es das letzte mal gelesen habe. Das Buch hat den Untertitel “Ein Roman über Projektmanagement”, das heisst es wird eigentlich versucht ein Sachbuch in Form eines Romans zu verpacken. Einen ähnlichen Schreibstil, der mir persönlich aber besser gefallen hat, verwendet E. M. Goldratt in seinem Buch “The Goal” – A Process of ongoing Improvement. Bei Tom DeMarco waren mir die Schlüsse oder besser Schlussfolgerungen etwas zu oberflächlich und die ganze Geschichte wirkte ziemlich konstruiert. Ich hatte das Gefühl, dass er zwanghaft versucht seine Thesen in Form einer Story zu präsentieren und daher das Ganze nicht mehr glaubwürdig rüber kommt. Goldratt geht bei seiner Erzählung viel mehr ins Detail und die Story ist teilweise wirklich spannend und man möchte selber automatisch mehr über den wissenschaftlichen/mathematischen Hintergrund der beschriebenen Phänomene in den Produktionshallen wissen. Am meisten schockiert hat mich allerdings das Ende des Buches, das einerseits sehr plötzlich bzw. unerwartet kommt und andererseits wirklich sehr trivial ist. Plötzlich deswegen weil 257 Seiten lang die Probleme beschrieben werden von denen dann auch noch die grössten durch “unsaubere” Mittel gelöst wurden (Problem mit Herr Belok) und auf den 10 letzten Seiten die Geschichte durch ein kitschiges Happy End beendet wird.

Getting Things Done October 29, 2006

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This is one of the most inspiring books I have read the last months. David Allen describes his method of “Getting Things Done (GTD)” in an easy an practical way. He outlines the system and philosophy and gives some usefull tips. Later it’s up to you how you would like implement the GTD system. For example if you prefer a paper based or computer based system.

I have decided to implement a computer based system and therefor I’m currently evaluating some software like MyLife Organized or Ultra Recall. Both are good programms and you can download evaluation versions to test them. I’m still not sure which one fitts my needs best but I hope to find a solution the next weeks.

Some thoughts on sleeping October 1, 2006

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The last days I’ve read some interesting articles about sleep and sleeping habits.
There are 5 stages of sleep which one should know to understand the basics of sleep theory. When you are awake, your brain exhibits high brain waves, called beta brain waves. Stage 1 sleep is a very light sleep and is also called the “doorway” to your sleep. In this stage your brain exhibits alpha waves and some theta waves.
Stage 2 sleep is the link to the deep sleep, but in this stage most people woken up think that they were still awake.
Important are the stages 3 and 4. These are the deep sleep stages where the brain exhibits low frequency delta waves. In this phase your blood pressure, respiration and heart rate reach their lowest point in the day.
The last stage is the so called REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement because in this stage the eyes move very rapidly in all directions and a lot people who woke up at this stage told that they were dreaming at this point. Therefore this stage is also called dream sleep.
During the night you have multiple sleep cycles where you go through these stages.
Most people feel tired when they wake up in the morning although they slept 8 hours and more. And most of the people think that they need even more sleep to feel better. One thing you should try is to shorten your sleep time by about 30 or 40 minutes. You feel very tired and exhausted if your alarm clock wakes you up right in the deep sleep stage. So the best point to get up would be the end of the prior sleep cycle and that should be about 30 minutes earlier. Certainly you have to try this out for yourself because sleeping habits vary from person to person.
Another thing which can help is the amount of sunlight you are exposed to during the day. The more the better, because sunlight slows down the melatonin production. Melatonin is released in darkness and you will have feelings of drowsiness and loss of energy. This hormon is responsible for putting you to sleep so it is important during the day to slow down or block its production.
Other points which are important to improve your sleep quality:

  • Hydration of your body effects indirectly the quality of your sleep
  • Your daily activity level effects your sleep (activities in the morning are best and not in the evening which would be counterproductiv)

Landscape shoots and DOF September 17, 2006

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads, Photography.
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In an interesting article in the Popular Photography Magazine Tim Fitzharris describes the 5 most important issues about shooting great landscapes. Here is one statement I’d like to mention.

  • Almost all first-rate pictures are made during a one-hour slot at the end and beginning of the day, including the periods when the sun in below the horizon.

That’s why most of my pictures taken at noon look as if they are a little overexposed (washed out colors). At this time of the day the light is too hard and you don’t get a big range of tonal values.

A second great article is about controling Depth of Field (DOF) in your pictures. There are 3 ways to control DOF:

  • the distance to the subject
  • the focal length
  • the aperture (f-stop)

The first two options change the image composition, the third is the only way to change DOF without changing the picture composition. Smaller f-numbers give narrower DOF.

Passion August 27, 2006

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While reading the first chapter of “The Martha Rules” I came again across an interesting topic. What is passion and which role does passion play in the word of business and in our lives ? The first rule in M. Stewart’s book describes how important passion is in business especially when you are trying to start a new business on your own.

Build your business success around something that you love – something that is inherently and endlessly interesting to you.

So our primary goal should be to find the things that we are passionate about. If we have identified them we could probably align them with our work, so that we can truly say: “When you love what you do, it’s not work.”

Many famous businessmen have build a fortune with their passion like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Donald Trump.

In another book I read before (The 8th Habit) R. Covey defines the relation between passion and work like this:

The key to creating passion in our life is to find your unique talents and your special role and purpose in the world. It is essential to know yourself before you decide what work you want to do.

Something about Nothing August 13, 2006

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NichtsNothing particular interesting, worth to mention happend the last couple of days so I decied to write the blog entry about…well..exactly about nothing. You don’t think that one can write something about nothing ? Well than check out the 700 pages book from Ludger Lütkehaus “Nothing”. It’s amazing how much Lütkehaus can write about Nothing and I don’t mean that in a negativ way. The book is clearly philosophical and sometimes not easy to read but I liked his ideas and the way he talks about the Nothing. One of my favorite sentences he analyzes in the first part is :” Warum ist überhaupt etwas und nicht vielmehr Nichts? “

Who am I ? August 6, 2006

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads, Management.
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A very nice description of something all of us know very good well. What is it ?

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,
and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few
lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great men.
And, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine.
Plus, the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
Who am I?