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livredor
Geek help wanted (non-technical!)
Friday, 10 October 2008 at 11:36 am
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Various posts on my flist where people are summarizing their experiences of Yom Kippur. For my part, it was generally a positive day.

I went in feeling very ill-prepared, which almost always happens. This is my third YK in Stockholm, and I've got to the point where I've figured how to get the most out of the services here, as well as having the advantage that a high proportion of congregants recognize me. I even sat with people I'm starting to consider friends, the little coterie of young, active Jews including Joanna, SS and FS.

I went to late Kol Nidrei (the early shift, while more religiously correct, didn't allow me any time to get home from work, eat, and make it to shul), and the synagogue was full but not overcrowded. And I flitted upstairs to the Orthodox service for Musaf, which meant I got about the right balance of the very solemn, musically beautiful Conservative service (worked especially well for Kol Nidrei and Neilah), with traditional liturgy which actually includes the content I expect, particularly for Musaf which is cut to the bone in the Conservative synagogue here. The Orthodox service is, apart from the glaring problem that I had to sit in the women's section, a bit too Carlebach-y and informal for my taste. That style, with a lot of simple repetitive tunes that everyone joins in with, at least the "na-na-na" sections, is fine for Shabbat and can even be spiritually uplifting, done well, but for Yom Kippur it felt a bit too jolly. And I found time to read bits of my home prayer book, the wonderful RSGB Days of Awe which is, as I mention just about every year, a truly inspired piece of liturgy.

I got very hungry though; for some reason this fast was physically harder than most. By the end of the day I was just feeling tired and light-headed; it definitely made me take seriously all the bits about mortality, the experience that simply not eating for a few hours can make me pretty much useless for anything really made me understand on an emotional level that I'm vulnerable. The day always seems both too long and too short, interminable standing and hearing the repeated liturgy and counting the hours until I can have tea, but at the same time reaching the end and feeling like I've barely started the soul-searching I'd been intending to do.

EBH invited the Prog committee back to her place for the break-fast, and provided a really wonderful meal, simple and digestible but fantastic. I started out regretting that I'd accepted the invitation when I just wanted to go home and collapse, but actually once I'd had some tea and a little bread and honey I perked up. And we had a really enjoyable evening, discussing all kinds of fun topics and it was nearly midnight when I left.

It's become clear to me, partly because people were good enough to point it out directly, that a lot of where I've let people down this year is in not answering emails. I several close friends with whom my main interaction is by email, and quite a few other long distance contacts I'd like to keep in my life, and I am letting connections slip because I don't get round to writing the emails I intend to. Not to mention that it offends people, and may well annoy them if the emails contain practical details that need sorting out. I'm also bad at keeping up with the answering emails part of upholding my various responsibilities.

For one thing, if you're in the category of people I promised to write to and then fell down on it, I'm sincerely sorry. But a lot of the point of YK is that regret isn't enough, you have to do some fixing. So what I'm asking for is advice on how to manage emails sensibly. I've seen various methods and websites recommended; does anyone have any personal experience of methods that work? It's partly an aspect of the larger question of how I manage my time, which is a major, major problem for me. Still, do you have any suggestions for making sure to get to emails in a timely fashion? I've tried setting aside time, which I don't seem to be able to keep up, I've tried some methods of sorting emails and making to-do lists and such, but I haven't found anything that really works for me.

Another YK thing is giving to charity. I've donated to Kiva, which coordinates microloans to people in developing countries. This is the kind of charity that really appeals to me, partly because it's very individualized and grass roots, and partly because it's helping people to set up businesses and become independent, rather than dropping gifts of emergency aid on them, which can be harmful in the long term. But I tend to give very haphazardly; I see that YK is coming up, or think, oh, I haven't given anything to charity for a while. Do any of you have any good systems for making sure that you give a reasonable amount to charity (what constitutes a reasonable amount?) on a regular, systematic basis? If you'd like to recommend favourite charities, I'd be happy to hear about them too. And ideally I want to contribute effort as well as cash, which means something local, and I'm not sure how best to do that. Well, that's partly cos I am an expat and I don't know how things work here, but partly it's cos I just haven't got organized.

Thirdly, and connected to consumerism and not at all to religious stuff, my Beau is helping me acquire a new shiny eee. I have been hesitating whether I want a tiny baby computer, or a dedicated ebook reader, (or indeed a decent digital camera). I decided that the most useful geek toy would be the tiny computer, especially when I found a 701 (low spec but decent battery life) on ebuyer for less than £150. It's slightly scary that this computer is cheaper in absolute numbers than the BBC Micro we had when I was a kid, and indeed cheaper than quite a lot of cutting edge mobile phones. Anyway, it needs a name; my naming scheme so far has been G&S references (the two most recent computers I've owned were called Silver Churn and Sally Lunn), so does anyone have any good suggestions? I'm absolutely blanking on anything from G&S that refers to smallness, but I'm sure there must be something. Preferably with the same beat as the previous names, cos I'm anal like that.


Whereaboooots: Great synagogue, Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: contemplativecontemplative
Tuuuuune: Chazzanut
Discussion: 15 contributions | Contribute something
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lavendersparkle: Rat
From:lavendersparkle
Date:October 10th, 2008 10:45 am (UTC)
16 minutes after journal entry, 10:45 am (lavendersparkle's time)
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I find a good system, which I frequently fail at, is to make charitable giving the first ting to come out when your pay check arrives. That way you give regularly, can make sure that your giving is in proportion to your income and it seems a bit less painful because you just think of giving as a bit less pay rather than a hit on your bank balance.
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ewx: default
From:ewx
Date:October 10th, 2008 10:54 am (UTC)
25 minutes after journal entry, 10:54 am (ewx's time)

anything from G&S that refers to smallness

(Link)
One of the three little maids from The Mikado?
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emperor: default
From:emperor
Date:October 10th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)
27 minutes after journal entry, 10:56 am (emperor's time)

Re: anything from G&S that refers to smallness

(Link)
"list" ? :)
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livredor: letters
From:livredor
Date:October 10th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
53 minutes after journal entry, 11:21 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
I like that a lot, little list, with the pun on littlest. And it fits my name scheme very well, right metre and it's an object mentioned in a song, not a personal name. Thank you, I might well use that one!
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rysmiel: intelligent aramis
From:rysmiel
Date:October 10th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 10:07 am (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
I was thinking Buttercup, but list is better.
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emperor: default
From:emperor
Date:October 10th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
27 minutes after journal entry, 10:55 am (emperor's time)
(Link)
Most mailers have the facility to mark emails as urgent, high priority, or somesuch. If you marked emails needing reply thus, it would be easy to go back and find emails you wanted to reply to. An alternative is to tell people to feel free to nag you if they feel you owe them an email.

If you go to synagogue regularly, do they have a collection there? A chunk of my charitable giving is dealt with by the collection on a Sunday morning. We keep meaning to set up a standing order to a charity or two, but need slightly better cash-flow first.

IKWYM about fasting being too short and too long; one problem with Lent is that it's too easy to focus on whatever I'm giving up, and miss the point that there's meant to be a bit of metanoia involved too!
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shreena: Evil
From:shreena
Date:October 10th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
55 minutes after journal entry, 11:23 am (shreena's time)
(Link)
Re: charities. What I do is set up direct debits from my account. Every time I go into my bank for something or other, they tend to ask me for details of direct debits for ID purposes and that reminds me to reconsider my donations/switch charities.

One of my regular charities is the Red Cross. I was recently thinking about a donation to the Gurkha welfare charity - http://www.gwt.org.uk/ - just because I am deeply embarrassed at how they are treated by the British government and I think a donation to their charity would make me feel slightly better.

Re: e-mails. You almost always seem to respond to LJ comments so perhaps you could do whatever is working for you there with e-mails too?

I'm not amazing at responding to e-mail either but I do try to make a point of replying to e-mails that involve a practical question as soon as I receive it (even if that involves just answering the practical question and saying that I'll answer the rest of it later) because I really don't want to let those slide. Something that has helped me with that is having a google calendar - it means that I can instantly see whether I'm free (usually the practical question relates to that), rather than having to wait till I can remember what I'm doing when.

I think, partially, you have to try and work out what it is that is preventing you from replying to e-mail. With me, it was definitly not knowing what I was doing and when, but it might be something totally different with you. Maybe you don't feel as though you can reply until you can reply with a really long, beautifully written e-mail? Maybe you simply don't care enough about some people to make it worth trying to keep in touch that way? Maybe you'd much prefer to use the phone? I don't know, obviously, but I do think that it's worth thinking about what goes on when you fail to reply to something and trying either to remove those obstacles or deciding to reduce the number of people that you try to correspond with.
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midnightmelody: default
From:midnightmelody
Date:October 10th, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 01:04 pm (midnightmelody's time)
(Link)
I have two different e-mail systems, one for Logistics and one for Friendship. The Logistics e-mails (even those from friends, anything with an associated task) get answered as quickly as possible, and I clear the inbox at least twice a week.

Friendship e-mails (which I define as those in which the e-mails are significant to the friendship), I set aside time for as though I were meeting the people. And then I sit down with a cup of tea, when I'm in the right mood. If I cannot form sentences, I will write a two sentence response explaining this and I may try to arrange a phone call instead. If it's more than a week since the e-mail arrived (unless there's a rhythm to our correspondence), I either ring in response, write a short e-mail, or sit down and write a paper letter.

This is quite specific to me, though, because my e-mail stressors are:
(a) too many things to do
(b) trying to hurry e-mails in friendships that are maintained mainly through e-mail
Also, I don't have many friendships that are maintained casually through e-mail contact.

For charity stuff, I have a principle but not really a system: 10% of earnings and 10% of employment time goes to charity. In time, that works out as about 5 hours a week. The one system I do have is making charity giving enjoyable for myself - while I do have a couple of monthly direct debits for big charities and church, most of my charity donations go via standing order into a separate account, where I can accumulate lots of money and then make a significant donation when I find something I want to donate for. (Personally, I prefer the sense of giving all my income away in 1-2 months each year than the sense of giving 10% every month.)
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mathcathy: default
From:mathcathy
Date:October 11th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 02:23 pm (mathcathy's time)
(Link)
I do something similar to this. I have a couple of standing orders to give money to friends who do full time volunteer work for charities and then I separate 10% of my income and give it away in bigger chunks when something comes up that I'd like to donate to. One of my favourite charities is Stop the Traffik.
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sea_bright: default
From:sea_bright
Date:October 10th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry
(Link)
G&S-wise, the first thing that sprang to mind was 'little flower', as in "There grew a little flower 'neath a great oak tree" from Ruddigore. It has the right scansion pattern in some accents! :-) Though 'little list' is perhaps more appropriate for a computer.
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darcydodo: gands
From:darcydodo
Date:October 10th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry, 10:31 am (darcydodo's time)
(Link)
You also seem to have the problem with your naming scheme that you're not only going for G&S references, but also lesbian references (if not always obviously so). :P
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hatam_soferet: default
From:hatam_soferet
Date:October 12th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
(Link)
So "little flower" rather than "little list"? :P
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redbird: bay bridges
From:redbird
Date:October 10th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry, 11:58 am (redbird's time)
(Link)
One thing that sometimes works for me is to send a brief note that says something like "I'm completely swamped, but I don't want to let this slip. If you don't hear from me by $date, please nudge me" or, for the practical stuff, one that addresses the logistics and adds "and I'll get back to you on the rest of this when I have more time."
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(no subject) - miriammoules (10/10/08 06:44 pm)
hatam_soferet: default
From:hatam_soferet
Date:October 12th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
(Link)
I do charity by direct debit, and review around Pesach and Elul.

Email is harder. If it's easy business stuff I try to deal with it as soon as I get it. Can you maybe set aside a fixed time in the week for clearing your inbox? I know your weeks aren't very predictable like that. But, oh, I know - now you have an eeeeeeeee, couldn't you do admin on the train to and from minyan? You seem to have made that part of your schedule quite successfully, so the eeeeeeeeeee could bring the admin into the schedule.
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