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jeremiad (jair-uh-my'-ad) n. a prolonged lamentation or complaint. {see also Jeremiah a person who is pessimistic about the present and foresees a calamitous future.} [from the Judeo-Christian prophet Jeremiah, and his book, which was full of such content .]
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"Found Chrononauts at gaming store and loved it. Especially loved that it could be played with any number of players down to 1 and it still remained a fun and enjoyable game." -- Preston of Lafayette, IN

Thursday, February 17th, 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

March 7, 2005

What's Going On? 30 Boxes and 3 Phases

It may not sound very impressive (especially given how long we've been talking about moving), but this week I got our 30th box of stuff packed up and moved into our deep storage facility.

As you can see in this photo, all of these boxes are individually numbered, using big yellow stickers which are printed with incrementing index numbers. When a box fills up, I slap one of these stickers (well, two, actually... they come in pairs) onto the side of the box, then I type up a description of the box's contents. Why am I being so meticulous? Well, if we move to Canada, we'll be expected to provide a complete list of all the stuff we're bringing with us, but I would find this database of our stuff useful and desirable anyway. We are expecting that the boxes we're putting into the deep freeze now will stay there for a good long time... we expect to live in an apartment or two before we'll be ready to buy a big new facility, and in the interim, I'm going to want to know exactly where everything is. That way, if I find we need something specific from deep storage, I'll be able to track it down by searching the database, then digging out the box (or boxes) necessary to retrieve it.

Anyway, although it's taken me a long time to really get going on the packing job, I think it's fair to say I'm now officially in Phase 2 on the project.

"Phase 2?" I hear you asking. "What's that?"

Back in my days as a computer programmer, I came up with this breakdown for the 3 main phases of writing software. I've since found that this analysis of the stages of working on a big project applies well to all sorts of tasks other than software development; perhaps you'll find these terms useful, too.

Phase 1: Starting - Getting started on any new task is often the hardest part. Phase 1 is the time when you are getting your brain around the job at hand, trying to understand what the task really is, what your approach to solving the problem will be, researching the issues, learning the terminology, climbing the learning curve, etc. Phase 1 is marked by a feeling of not being really sure of what you are supposed to do next, of feeling that you're still learning how to do the job, or even just of not really being very into it. Even a task as simple as reading a book can begin with Phase 1... it's that part of the process where you don't know what's going on, or who the characters are, or what their goals and problems are, or anything, when the author is trying to draw you in and may or may not succeed. Phase 1 can be brief, or it can drag on forever, depending on how daunting the task or how steep the learning curve.

Phase 2: Working - While Phase 1 can be difficult to get through, Phase 2 is the fun part. Phase 2 is when things are fully underway... the work is getting done, and the upcoming tasks are well-defined and clearly understood. Once you're in Phase 2, you'll find yourself thinking about the project even when you aren't actually working on it. When you're in Phase 2, you might actually look forward to getting back to work. It is during Phase 2 that you have those flashes of insight that come in the middle of the night or while you're in the shower, because when you're in Phase 2, you tend to work on the project even when you're off-duty, because it gets stuck in your head like a really catchy song. When you're reading a book and you can't put it down, you're in Phase 2. It's the best part of the project -- you just don't feel like stopping.

Phase 3: Finishing - As the project nears completion, there comes a time when most of the real work is done and you have lulls between bursts of activity. The classic example of this is in the programming case that inspired the terms: Phase 3 is the time when the software is basically done, but is being tested and tweaked on an as needed basis. Phase 3 is a time when a certain amount of goofing off is permissible, and possibly even unavoidable, since there sometimes is literally nothing to do except wait for something to happen, such as testing, evaluation, completion of other elements of the greater whole, etc. Boss-types will wish for you to be entering Phase 1 on the next project during the inevitable downtime of Phase 3, but I regard the slack times of Phase 3 as a reward for the hard work accomplished during Phase 2. Phase 3 is a time of mopping up and winding down, usually punctuated by times of inactivity.

Like I said, I find that this breakdown of phases applies to almost any project, big or small. Consider taking an exam, for example. Phase 1 is when you're studying, Phase 2 is the actual test, and Phase 3 is when you're waiting to receive your grade. When cooking, Phase 1 is when you're planning the meal, shopping, finding the recipe, etc, Phase 2 is when you're actually cooking, and Phase 3 is the dining itself (and the cleanup, though that could be considered a whole project unto itself). I see the phases even in the writing of this article each week: first, I have to figure out what I'm writing about, and how to structure it; then there's the actual writing work; and then comes the waiting, as I pass a printout of my first draft around for others to proofread and comment upon.

Anyway, I'm finally in Phase 2 on the packing project, and it feels really good. 30 boxes down, several hundred to go! (As for this article, I think I'm about to enter Phase 3.)

Have a Great Week, and Thanks for Playing Our Games!

Thought Residue
"Dave's dad is one of the best kind of people, the kind who will lead many people to strange new worlds long after he's left this one. Thanks for your stories, Mr. Chalker." -- John Cooper, on the sad occasion of the passing of Jack L Chalker, father of our friend Dave [We extend our deepest condolences to the whole Chalker family...]

"In fact, what the medical community actually says is precisely the opposite of what [former deputy "drug czar" Andrea] Barthwell claims.  In its official policy statement on medical marijuana, the American Public Health Association stated, 'Marijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision .  .  .  greater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.' In a 1997 editorial, the New England Journal of Medicine -- widely regarded as the most prestigious medical journal in the world -- called the ban on medical use of marijuana 'misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane.' In a November 2003 letter to New York legislators, the American Academy of HIV Medicine put it this way: 'When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients.' And the Illinois Nurses Association, in a position paper issued last December, said, 'Cannabis [marijuana] is considered by the scientists directly involved with cannabinoid research to be one of the least toxic substances known that delivers a therapeutic response.  .  .  .  There is almost a half-century of research that supports the safety and efficacy of cannabis for conditions such as reducing nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite, controlling spasticity, decreasing the suffering from the experience of chronic pain, and controlling seizures.'" -- Illinois State Representative Larry McKeon, "Lies Cloud Medical Marijuana Debate"
"I love the United States. I fought for it in Vietnam. It's a wrenching decision to think about leaving. But America is turning into a country very different from the one I grew up believing in." -- Christopher Key, quoted in an article called "Some Bush Foes Vote Yet Again, With Their Feet: Canada or Bust"



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