Mindmapping – why it works

One of my ‘hidden’ weapons when planning or just trying to get my head around anything is mindmapping. I know Doug True is a big fan of this. It all started in the mid ’70s when I attended a course out at UBC and was introduced to some of Tony Buzan’s books. His viewpoints on how our mind works were intriguing. So began the journey into using mindmaps. I still have one of my first mindmaps that summarizes a meeting. I can’t remember the details but from that mindmap there is certainly the expression that it was a good and productive meeting. They say the ultimate in mindmapping is to create one without words.

Then the personal computer age began and with my first Macintosh (LC – colour) a program called Inspiration appeared. I used that program for years but it moved into the elementary and secondary school realm and became less of a tool for me. Mindet MindManager is what I use now and it is extremely powerful and quick. There are a number of others and it is more a personal choice than anything else.

The question is why does something like this work. We tend to think in linear terms. A + B + C = D. We really push our minds into a box and quickly get into a rut of frustration when we try to deal with problems. A mindmap lets me move out of that box. By brainstorming and creating simple patterns, lines and text and using colour you are able to explore much more that you originally anticipated. One thing I must emphasize here is using colour. Colour can add an element that words can’t and using it expands on what you are attempting to say and solve.

Here is an abbreviated mindmap for The Mount Lehman Show. Any one of the solid coloured boxes can be drilled down to a further level. If you have never tried this before it does take some getting used to because it is so different. But don’t let that stop you from trying.

The ML Show

Early Christmas Morning

Our family maintains a European tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve. Our grandparents had this tradition (German) and when I married Marjun it remained as it is also the Danish tradition. Christmas Day has always been quiet and peaceful.

It was a different Christmas Eve for us this time. Our daughter-in-law was not with us as she had to remain in Saskatoon. Both Fleming and Nils were here so it seemed a lot like a Christmas of their past childhood. Typically we sang some Christmas carols after the Christmas Eve dinner and before we opened presents. This is the time we all have a good laugh at the male section of the family. Even though we all love music Nils and I can’t sing. Fleming is much better. Marjun is choir material. If we don’t have the song sheet in front of us most second verses are pretty well ad-libbed which makes for a lot of fun. This year I took some videos for posterity.

My family always amazes me at their generousity. My mother-in-law always sends me some wonderful mohair socks which are appreciated immensely. There is nothing so soothing on the feet. Marjun got me a Roots training outfit (that must be a hint to get to the gymn). The rest was DVDs, a moleskine and books. This years books are:

A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada by John Ralston Saul

Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries by Naomi Wolf

Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer

With all the snow this year and the sudden return to milder temperatures it will be a slushy and wet Christmas Day. The perfect time to stay inside and enjoy each others company.

More Cowbell

Sometimes you step into something that becomes a bit surreal.

Last week I tiwttered about listening to an old song that had a cowbell, asking about any other songs that had cowbells. There were some responses with one stating had I ever seen the SNL “More Cowbell” piece. I hadn’t ( if I had I would never have tiwttered that question! ) and quickly found it. In fact there was a fair bit about cowbells. There is even an iPhone app called More Cowbell.

To get the ultimate experience with the tragic little device here is some ultimate cowbell usage. The Olympics are coming here in 2010. Now there will be excuse not to have a cowbell on the downhill races.

The moral of this story, never be afraid to ask a question on Twitter. It will lead you to a mountain of totally useless information.

Long time, no post

It seems that the last few weeks have been the busiest I have encountered for a long time. I just look at how many times I have not been home for supper and it sort of freaks me out. Hence the extreme delay of posting anything to this blog.

Tomorrow is a huge day as to what course the most powerful nation in the world will take. I don’t want to state my political persuasion here, not being a citizen it won’t amount to much anyway. What we do need to see is someone in the White House that will begin to deal with the problems that all of us here on Main Street are dealing with. Here is hoping that whoever the winner, the course of history will change and we can look back to seeing this as the beginning of solving the mess we are all in.

In the last month the world has seen some major upheavals in the financial markets. It scares me to say the least. It is interesting to see all those bulls suddenly become bears (barren?). At least no one is saying I told you so. They were all drinking the same kool-aid. There is ample use of the word ‘toxic’. Seems that is the wattered down version of ‘poison’. Poison in the Oxford English dictionary means “A principle, doctrine, influence, etc., which is harmful to character, morality, or the well-being of society; something which causes harm; something which is detested.” It is the last word definition that is beginning to come into play somewhat. But we haven’t arrived at actually detesting this circumstance. If we do then we can manage the change. We seem to only be band-aiding what the poison has done and not necessarily taking the antidote.

I believe that antidote involves sacrifice, hard work (sweat equity instead of just paper equity), gratitude for our station in life (we aren’t going to bed hungry) and re-capturing and living some ideals and beliefs that have meaning in our lives. Maybe we realize now that we can’t bowl alone. That we have become disconnected from family, friends, neighbours, social structures like churches, clubs, sports clubs, community organizations and the like. We are people that live in a larger society and that our values need to go beyond just the physical accumulation of goods. Maybe tomorrow will be the start of something for all of us.

Time just seems to move on

Yesterday we were informed of the passing away of a dear person we knew and loved. Laurie was the wife of Marjun’s cousin and had suffered from cancer for over 2 years. She was a Canadian who had lived in Denmark and understood what it meant to be part of that society. We had so many interesting discussions over the years about Denmark and its people from a Canadian perspective. She was always so kind to the boys and put herself out whenever we saw her. She was the kind of person you never forgot, someone you could automatically connect with no matter how long it had been since the last time you visited with her. She was such a strong person, sure of herself, who had such a wonderful way of stating her opinion, letting you know that you were wrong but never making you feel that way. She will be missed by so many people. We will not forget you Laurie.

It is so sad when people pass on. It always shocks me when that person is younger than me. It doesn’t seem right no matter what. And at the same time Laurie passed away another friend and his wife, who I have known since he was a youngster, had their second son. On that same day two households, one with joy the other with sorrow. How can you feel with those two absolutes? One just sits back as time moves on and you say to yourself, that is what today has brought you.


Well it is off to Winnipeg for National Synod meeting. It will be interesting to see some new faces and reacquaint with others I haven’t seen for awhile. It is currently -16C which is a bit brisk for a westcoaster. But we won’t be sitting outside.
The Canucks are playing St. Louis and have slipped to a 2-2 tie. It looks like the wind is coming out of those sails. But then no one would be saying that unless they were Canuck fans, right? Then one of the Sedins scores and we win in overtime with a powerplay goal.

Derek Miller has the Northern Voice 2007 poster on his site. That should make Basco5 happy!

The Olimpicks

Michael Geist has written an excellent piece on what the government is doing (Bill C-47) to protect the integrity of this sporting event. Remember it is a sporting event. S-P-O-R-T-I-N-G. Not exactly in the category of something life threatening here. But our caring government has taken the time to make sure that the big ‘O’ will be pristine in every measure. Nothing must tarnish this image.

I’m sorry but what is happening here? Why are we spending this massive amount of $$$ and time for 17 days of watching adults sport in the snow. The truth is that it will probably be more like watching adults in the slush or rain. A friend of ours went to Salt Lake City when the ‘O’ was on. He said that around 45% of the tickets for the opening event were put aside for public dignitaries and the rest of the tickets started at $800 US per seat. I am so waiting for the ticket prices and availability of tickets to be published. By then it will be too late to say anything but it would appear that a very small minority will even be able to afford to attend any event.

Then again there will be such a spirit of co-operation and friendliness that we will all be in a nirvana like state. Until it is over and the bills need to be paid. Before anyone offers any suggestions on what to do we should all re-read the Animal Farm. Somebody is always trying to sell us and then get us to build those windmills.

The Must-Do List

The New York Times editorial today is called the Must-Do List. The piece asks what Bush needs to undo with the first point being to retore Habeas Corpus. I was not aware that this condition existed in the USA. This is unimaginable. To put this writ aside, which is not to determine one’s guilt or innocence but soley to decide if you have been illegally imprisoned serves what purpose? If the charge is valid you go free, if not you stay imprisoned. To tamper with this truly shows how xenophobia continues to be alive and well in our southern neighbour.

Dunach School

Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am the Dunach Elementary School PAC meets. This is the time of year the credit union I work for attends 3 PAC meetings of the 3 local schools. This is the first one. We’ve been going to these meetings for about 5 years now and are there for only 30 minutes or so. We meet with a few of the parents and the school principal is usually there. The three schools all have an enrollment around 100 pupils with Bradner Elementary School being the highest with maybe about 125 pupils. The reason we are there is to present the committee with a cheque. It is the same amount for each school. It is the same amount each year. That amount is $3,000.

Why do we do it? Because it is needed and it means that much less stress parents have in trying to make money for the school. There are other credit unions that put a small student run facility in the school. It is supposed to each kids about banking. I think it just gets the kids to open an account at that credit union which is in the school anyway. It is pretty crafty way to get members. There is a difference between advertising and donating. They aren’t the same. People put up with advertising. They accept donations.


There is a always discussion about how busy our lives are and that we need to have some balance. There is no strong definition of what this balance is and most sense it is similar to a scale, something like a measure of weighing that shows both sides are equal. But our lives are multi-dimensional, they do not consist of two areas that are in need of constant balance. My view is that life is like colours, sometimes a few, sometimes almost infinite, it just depends on the light and if you have your glasses on. It always is different as with each day.

We have obligations of work, family, friends. We view ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. And there is always the element of time. This seemingly is the most important because it is finite for all of us. How do we use, abuse or loose it? Taking these and other factors (emotions, age, culture, language, and more) and pretty soon we can just sit in a chair gazing out the window, overwhelmed by the variables that play and replay everyday in our lives. It seems with the attempt to make is simple (this balance) we end up realizing it’s complexity. Someone once told me at a seminar I attended in the ‘70s that no matter what you plan, no matter how hard you attempt to manage your life, you will never pick all the daisies.
The conclusion I have come to is that you can’t balance your life. Most decisions about what you want to do have passed through the priority channel. You end up doing what you at the moment thought best, sometimes those are wise decisions, most of the time they may not be that wise. You end up with consequences of those decisions and it seems you balance those consequences. Complete freedom to do what you want is impossible, but you still always have the complete freedom of will to decide.

If there was one thing that points to getting a sense of tranquility in your life it would be to make sure you take the time to rest. Keeping one day a week as free as possible gives you the time to reflect, to build, to heal and to think. We are meant to rest. And maybe the busyness we have is just a symptom of not resting.

Can you remember….

An old family friend scanned some old pictures and sent them to us today. It is scary to think that this picture was taken 35 years ago in Burnaby when I was dating Marjun. The darker haired woman on the left is my wife when she was 20 about 3 months before we were married. One look at this picture reminds me of why I left Canada to follow her back to Denmark. We were married 8 days after I landed there. We eloped. And she is as beautiful in this picture as she is now. The woman on the right is an old friend we don’t see much. It is funny how 35 years change some things and then don’t change anything.

Got invited to a bonspiel in Princeton this weekend. The last time I curled was at least 20 years ago. Now they have those push brooms instead of the straw type. Sorry if the curling lingo is wrong. What pain those blisters brought after playing all day. But this weekend we have 3 games guaranteed. We should be out of it after three.

This morning at about 7:00 am you could see the slight glimmer of light off in the east by Mt. Baker. Finally the sunlight is getting to us earlier and it is noticeable. You tend not to notice it with those constant days of rain we had. Now daylight savings time is earlier this year, I think it will start 3 weeks earlier on the March 3rd weekend. Our internal clocks will be upset again.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Went to this film tonight not really expecting anything other than something different. And something different it was. This is not for the squeamish or feint of heart. And the plot is woven again and again moving from reality to fantasy with the viewer sometimes wondering which is which. And because you need to read the subtitles (the film is in Spanish) you don’t catch all of the scenes so it would be a very interesting film to see again. This film definitely is the type that you begin to wonder what you actually saw well after you are home. It would easily rate 9 out of 10, it should be in everyones DVD collection and it speaks volumes about blindly following anything without question.

Before the movie (the last movie I saw at Silver City was Gladiator) I had never experienced that level of unadulterated hype and Hollywood in the gaudy viewings before the show. It made my head-ache with the colours, flashing images and just plain garbage advertising. And to think that you actually paid for this! I don’t watch TV so am not used to the 176 images that come at you every minute but it must play some type of havoc for those that view this as a steady diet. One must appreciate those popcorn and hot dogs scenes. I swear I could almost smell them.

Martin Luther King Jr.

It is late morning and for the last 2 hours I have spent going through the daily visited URLs, reading blogs, archiving information and trying to drain any brain patterns into some type of text/visual inbox. That besides the small list of chores is the typical Monday.

It’s the anniversary of Martin Luther Kin Jr.’s birthday today. His assassination was the 2nd that stopped the world, again. Then 2 months later Robert Kennedy’s tragic end. Those 3 events coloured your world as a teenager. They were unbelievable when you first heard of them. You quickly wondered what kind of world you were living in. CBS had Walter every night bringing you the savage imagery of Vietnam. This was the social setting of the music you heard. Now that music sells diapers and cars. Not a strong social context there. Sure the music is remembered, but when it is heard now is really is a different tune. The nostalgia wanes while the loss waxes.

Another year begins

So this is the year that ends in 7 if that means anything. And those resolutions. They are down to 4 and will stay that way. Keep the list small and manageable and the disappointment will be lessened.
With that said the past posts have been infrequent and future posts should be regular.

Arts and Letters Daily is a site that is full of interesting articles and points of view that one tends to forget about visiting. This is really what the internet is about, good information readily available. Some pages do make you think.

Watched All the Kings Men. Good picture but should have read the book. It would have been better.

Sometimes too early

This morning while it was still dark the call of the gym rang loudly in my little mind. Yes time to get over there and sweat. It was a difficult shaving at 5:17 am but nothing like a fresh face to look at while getting your heart rate up to 156. Things were looking great when you make all 3 of the stoplights, whistling through on the greens. And so it begins — another vigourous and healthy physical hour. But wait something is seriously wrong. The, well lets call her older women who you haven’t seen in a few months, is at the different stations and the total weights she is pushing look to be quite a bit. Doesn’t matter. I’ll be over there in a few minutes and will crank it up — wrong! I have to crank the weight total down. Humiliating. And from there it went downhill. About mid morning I felt awful. Just overdid it, again. Sometimes it is just too early.

Maybe I should take up smoking outside Irish bars like the guy in the picture. Not to worry there is always tomorrow, or the day after……


The turtle face. A Mexican handicraft from Loreto made from a coconut shell. This little image sometimes speaks volumes on our lifestyles. Make sure the shell is secure and then retract. Whatever the pain, I am inside so leave me alone.

I found a book “Prayer and Modern Man” by Jacques Ellul which I had bought 30 years ago and had not read. He speaks of prayer in the following passages.

Commenting on why people do not pray – “We are concerned with ourselves, with the actual situation of contemporary man, in our technical, technicalized society, with the situation of the person who does not want to pray because nothing invites him to do so, for whom everything is a deterrent from it.”

When speaking of Durer’s Praying hands picture – “They express the cessation of activity, the composure of heart which goes with a morning of promise or an evening of work completed.”

Speaking of prayer as some suggest “a telephone to heaven” – “Thus the device itself gives me assurance because a means is at hand and I can do something.”

These are very powerful statements that speak to the culture we live in today. These were written before the advent of the personal computer. It is apparent that Ellul saw what technology, now maybe viewed in it’s infancy, was and would become to the human condition. He says that everything is a deterrent from prayer. That our lives speak bluntly to that which we lack. That cessation of activity…when is that experienced these days? And doesn’t a personal computer need an inscription stating that “it gives me assurance because a means is at hand and I can do something”. Prophetic words to a silent and unlistening world.


It is getting a little scary right now with the weather. You know the rain is coming, you can expect to no longer see the sun for a few days or weeks and yet everyday it is just beautiful. This is so un-Vancouver like.

So the Omni people are going to produce a GTD program called OmniFocus.
Given the success of their programs OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle they will have a winner. GTD has really taken off and it has some defnite merits. The basic concepts of one in box, sorting into next actions and the 43 folders idea are very worthwhile. Has it helped get things done? Yes. Does it always work? No and anyone that says it does, well does anyone have that much self-discipline.

Sometimes you get an album, CD, whatever and play it a couple of dozen times and that is it. Memory bin. In April I picked up the new Calexico – Garden Ruin. I am still listening to it. My play count is double digits, possibly closing in on 3 digits. Absolutely a first class musical session with variations of Mexican-alternative-rock music. We saw them live a few months ago. High energy musicians that have the complete passion for good music.

Today I was downtown spending most of the day looking a a new banking system. Summit iSpectrum is a great product built right. The big question though is at what price$?

The picture is of Thornton Park and what used to be the CN train station. They were putting up some large stage platform there on Sunday. Looked like another movie shot was about to happen.


Seems that when one takes a longer holiday it also takes longer to get back into some sort of cycle that you are comfortable with. You expect it to just happen within a few days of work but you have gotten so used to holidays you can’t escape that mode overnight. Why are we such creatures of habit?

Mac Powerbook shutdowns. There has been some information on these and it has been stated that it is the Intel MacPro but recently I have had a number of sudden shutdowns. The only way to start up again has been to disconnect the battery, push the start button to drain all power, insert the battery and startup. This would suggest an OS problem, right?

Jan Karsbjerg has some info on Wednesday’s Weblogger Meetup. Always want to get to one but never can fit it in.

This is a picture of a small village just east of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. It is called Ballintoy. It is one of those wonderful small places, just off the beaten track, that make travelling in Europe such a surprise and a delight.