Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!


I just wanted to wish a Happy and Safe Halloween to everyone that will be trick or treating or partaking in some of the various other festivities this weekend.

If you have kids, you're probably already doing or have done some things to help them enjoy this time of year. We had a pumpkin craving party yesterday, inviting a couple of my daughters friends over along with their parents to carve up pumpkins (Jack O'Lanterns).  The kids all used markers to make their design and the grown-ups did the carving.  The kids were excited about taking out most of the pumpkin insides.  Later on we had baked pumpkin seeds made with some olive oil and a little salt (a nice tasty and easy to make snack). When the kids were off playing, the grown ups watched "Its The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown", a classic Peanuts Halloween special. 

We're taking the kids to a local American base later today so that they can "trick or treat" in more American style. We've taken the kids trick or treating (house to house as they refer to it locally) for several years now, but this will be the first time that we've gone to a base to trick or treat, so I'm excited to see how this will turn out.  I was really surprised to see how Halloween is growing in popularity in Germany.  While not all of the houses or apartments have treats for the kids, many that are decorated do.  A lot of the people do give out treats to the kids get a kick out of seeing the kids in all their cute costumes.

I hope that you'll all use a little safety and enjoy yourselves this Halloween by following the follow advise...
  • If you have concerns about some candy or other treat that your kid has received, discard it if in doubt
  • Maybe you can take the kids to a local party put on by friends or some other publicly organized party or trick or treating, to avoid taking bad or unsafe treats.  This can also add a little more fun to the festivities
  • If going trick or treating be sure to dress appropriately (I remember that it often rained, sometimes snowed, but more often than not was just plain cold!)
  • Do trick or treating in groups, for your kids safety (the parents can also enjoy the company of other parents this way)
  • If throwing a party where alcohol is served, make sure that nobody drinks too much and drives home.  Designated drivers would be a good thing
  • Show some respect for people that don't like Halloween for religious reasons, you can choose costumes that aren't demeaning to other religions

I hope that everyone has a Happy and Safe Halloween.

Photo Credit:  The pumpkins that we carved up at our little party last night.  Unfortunately, my flash didn't allow me to get the whole effect with the darkness outside.  

Friday, October 23, 2009

October Edition of the Carnival of Productivity And GTD

Welcome to the October 2009 edition of The Carnival of Productivity And GTD. There have been some really great submissions since the last edition that we ran of The Carnival of Productivity And GTD. and so we're excited about sharing them with you. This is the last edition of this Blog Carnival for 2009, look for the next edition in 2010 . If you have any suggestions for topics you'd like to see covered in future editions, feel free to leave a comment. If you have a post that you'd like to submit, please do so via the submission from link. Thank you to everyone that submitted posts! Remember that by subscribing via your RSS reader or via email, that you won't miss the next blog carnival hosted here and you'll know when new material has been posted. Enjoy.


MoneyNing presents How to Get Out of a Rut and Out of a Slump posted at Money Ning, saying, "Ever in a rut? Here's how to get out."

Scientific Living presents Concentration Brings Happiness (Why People Think They Can Actually Sing) posted at Scientific Living, saying, "Why concentration brings happiness, and how to get it."

Self-Development And Goals

Yetti Chiu presents Goal Attainment posted at Michael A. Podolinsky's Success Series Blog, saying, "Goal Attainment. How to set goals you will attain?"

Carolyn Friedman presents How to Build Self Confidence posted at Hospitality Management Schools, saying, "Self confidence is something you gain naturally with success, but you must know how to build this asset even when you have seen more failure than tasted success."

Ralph Jean-Paul presents A Bugs Life: Applying the Success Principles of Ants posted at Potential 2 Success, saying, "Even though ants are responsible for so many tasks, they always seem to accomplish everything they set out to do. Because of their success principles, if ants were human, they would be the most successful group of people on the planet. Learn their productivity habits and apply them to your own life."

Steven Handel presents Criticism and Goal Achieving posted at The Emotion Machine.

Finance And Inve$ting

Silicon Valley Blogger presents Investment Tools, Software and Resources You Can Get For Free posted at The Digerati Life, saying, "Improve your investing efforts with these tools!"


Joshua Seth presents How To Self Publish Your Own Book – Day 3 | Joshua Seth posted at Joshua Seth Blog, saying, "Self publishing your book is a lot easier than it used to be. You can use dictation software to eliminate much of the actual writing, outsource the layout and design work over the internet, and use Amazon for worldwide distribution. As a result of helping my coaching clients to write and self publish their own books over at I’ve actually gotten better at this process myself. They say the teacher learns the most and I’ve found this to be true."

Suzane Smith presents Top 100 IT Industry Blogs posted at Online IT Degrees, saying, "Blogging would not even exist if it were not for IT professionals collaborating, reviewing, and outdoing each other on a constant basis. Before, it was a behind the scenes process.To get the best in information technology blogs, stop by the below top 100 IT industry blogs by companies, corporations, professionals, and those who just outright love the business."

That concludes the October edition of The Carnival of Productivity And GTD this is the last edition for 2009. You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Carnival of Productivity And GTD in 2010, using our "Submit an entry to “The Carnival of Productivity And GTD” submission form". Links to past editions, as well as the current scheduling of future editions can be found on our The Carnival of Productivity And GTD index page. Thank you to everyone that submitted articles for this edition! If you have any topics that you'd like to see covered in a future edition, or any feedback in general, feel free to leave a comment. Be sure to stay tuned for the other two Blog Carnivals hosted here (The Better Life Carnival and The Family Life) as well as the normal articles that are posted here. Look for The Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival returning in November. Thank you.

Photo credit: Old Time courtesy of benkersey.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Systems-Overload's Second Birthday

The Systems-Overload Blog had its second birthday last month, I didn't want to let this ocassion pass by without saying a word or two.

Ok, my first post on this blog was a welcome to the blog post dated September 16th and a GTD Overview followed shortly after on September 19th, so going by either date as the birthday, it is obviously a little later. Steeling a concept from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", life has happened this past year and it can sometimes throw the best laid plans of mice mice and men off track, if not in a totally different direction.  A lot has happened in the second year at Systems-Overload and I thought that I'd take a moment or two to talk about some it.

I was privileged enough to go to Copenhagen several times.  I did a post about Copenhagen at the DC Heron Family Blog as well as uploading several pictures to Flickr. With traveling and other things associated with work, I wasn't able to blog as often as I had planned but life often provides us experiences that we wouldn't change for anything. 

Besides going to Copenhagen, I did some other traveling this past year.  The family and I made a nice trip to the Center Prac in Erperheide. I also took my first trip to East Germany. I also suggested that readers consider using the train in their travel plans. I even had some suggestions for the Airline Industry.

The world has been through a lot in the past year with the Financial Crisis and all. America made history by electing Barack Obama, irregardless of if you like him or not, an African-American has been elected President of the U.S. and maybe in the future we can look more at the candidates than race or gender  (this is my hope anyways).  I suggested new rules for CEOs before all the news broke about all the perks and privileges some of these people are getting and all the fervor erupted.  I wrote about Us and Them and how religious differences seem to be tearing us apart instead of uniting us.

When I started the Systems-Overload Blog, one of the topics that interested me and that I wanted to write about was Social Media and Social Networking.  I asked if readers were using ping to update the social networks? I wrote an article about Twitter giving an explanation of how it works and some of the people that are using it. I became a big fan of,  I've had a lot of fun on, reached 2000 listeners, announced an 80's party and had it. I plan to write more on Social Media and Social Networks, so be sure to stay tuned (why not subscribe via email or add the blog to your RSS reader?)

In January I wrote about green cars at the 2009 NAIS (Detroit Autoshow) and in September I went to the 2009 IAA (Frankfurt Autoshow). I applied for and got my first press pass, so I was able to see the vehicles there like I never had before and I took over 800 pictures which are available in Set 1 and Set 2 at Flickr. There was a lot activity on the pictures at Flickr and a request to use some of the pictures in a publication in Eygpt! Mini is celebrating 50 years and put together a video in honor of the occasion as well as other cars that were on display at the autoshow.

This has been a big year in Germany. Angela Merkel was re-elected and Germany celebrated 19 years of being united after the Cold War finally ended.

I've written a few articles for some good causes this year. I participated in Project 2996 for the second time, writing about a few of the victims of September Eleventh this time.  I feel deeply connect to this project as my mother lost a battle to cancer as the world shook with this tragedy, so whenever the subject is brought up I think of here.  I'm still hoping to start a foundation to honor her memory (this is a big one currently on my Someday/Maybe list!).  Not long after the start of Systems-Overload's second year, I wrote a piece for the 2008 Blog Action Day and published my 2009 efforts last week.  I enjoy these collaborative efforts that make you feel connected to others and make you feel like part of something bigger than yourself.

We celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Moon-landing this year and not long after the we lost Michael Jackson, who gave us his "Moonwalk".  I didn't write a specific post about Walter Cronkite, but I did mention his passing in the moon-landing article, I know that he'll be missed and I wonder who, if anyone, will be stepping forward to fill his shoes?  Controversial former Big Brother star Jade Goody lost her battle with Cancer and she brought media attention to cancer living much of her final days before the camera.

I got into hosting Blog Carnivals this past year. I started by announcing the Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival, which I host during the Christmas season. After that experience I decided to add three more semi-regular Blog Carnivals. In November, the Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival will be running again and my three others will be taking a break till next year.  While I'd love to hear stories about how people celebrate Christmas, I'd also like to hear how people celebrate non-Christian holidays that occur in this time of the year.  I always like the Christmas time of the year because of all the hope that it can give people. When I started the three Blog Carnivals this year I thought that it would be a good way to share interesting articles with my readers and thought that it would be a good way for other bloggers to get some exposure (because I know how hard that can be!) Some of the "life events" have caused me to shift the publication dates around a little but I'm pleased to see all the submissions that I've received, all in all I've received over 1000 submissions between the various carnivals. Please keep those submissions coming. 

Looking at what I've written so far, I did write a lot more than I realized!  I'm currently thinking about what directions I want to go in my third year and beyond.  I'd sure welcome your input.  Comments are always welcome and encouraged.  Speaking of comments, I do wonder why I have so many oriental comments to one post that I wrote? I'd really like to know what is being said!  I'm looking forward to year three of Systems-Overload and hope that you'll all join me and spread the word.

Photo Credit:  Hobbit and I taken in December 2008

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change

Systems-Overload is pleased to take part in the 2009 Blog Action Day where the focus is on Climate Change this year. This is the third year that we've participated (here are our posts from 2008 and 2007). Climate Change has become quite a popular topic over the last several years and many companies are trying to brand themselves as green and world leaders are at least paying lip service to the subject but so much more needs to be done and can be done.

In the area of climate change I see several issues that have encroached into this space, making it more complicated and seemingly unmanageable.

  • Many global/multinational corporations have expanded at alarming rates into emerging markets.
  1. Easier and hire and fire workers and less worker protections
  2. Less environmental regulations to deal with
  • The governments in these emerging markets don't have the necessary infrastructure
  1. Additional costs borne by the new localities
  2. Tax subsidies/abatements provided to lure in new business
  3. Don't have experience writing environmental and labor regulations to be enforced upon global companies
  4. Don't have proper agencies with proper personnel to keep companies in line
  • Governments in the areas that are losing plants and jobs don't have the necessary international cooperation needed to enforce "good corporate citizenship responsibility" on companies
  1. They have lost tax dollars and the budget necessary to enforce the laws that are already on the books
  2. They're too distracted by the Global Financial Crisis to stop job losses
  3. Corporations have too much lobby power and can easily impact pending legislation via a variety of means
  4. It is too easy for corporations to move
  • Too much focus on "maximizing shareholder value" and executive profit, without regard for long-term impacts on health and viability of the company's clients, employees, and the communities that they do business in

Having identified some of the problems that are making climate change unmanageable what can be done? What can you do?
  • Let your elected and corporate leaders know that you don't approve of this any longer.
  • Write to your elected and corporate leaders, be sure to include company boards, CEOs, congressmen, and senators, as well as presidents, and so on
  • Let businesses know that you won't buy their products as long as they act irresponsibly
  • Let your government know that any contracts that they sign with such businesses need to impose some form of responsibility on those that they do business with. When you're paying the bill, you can set some conditions!
  • Let business that you do business with know that if they have contracts with irresponsible vendors that you won't do business with them any longer. Supply chains can be very long today and you'd be amazed at how many vendors your average business has dealings with
  • Make your family and friends aware of things that you've found out and encourage them to join in on any boycotts
  • Before buying a product or service check to make sure that the company is truly an ethical company as well as being environmentally responsible
  • A well known IT company is a poster child for what is wrong with companies today
  1. They paid its CEO over $107 million dollars over the past four years and six top executives (including the CEO) combined for compensation totaling over $140 million dollars in 2008.
  2. This CEO saw his compensation grow from $25 million in 2007 to over $42 million dollars in 2008, a 68% increase.
  3. This company has laid off 40,000+ employees during the current CEO's tenure with most of those jobs being moved into emerging markets (off-shoring)
  4. This CEO requested a "voluntary" 5% may cut from the employees earlier this year and told the employees that he was taking a 20% pay cut (but this is off his base salary, before all his bonuses) and for most normal employees 5% can make the difference between making mortgage and car payments and have a huge impact. The company has made billions in profit the last few quarters, so the pay cut wasn't necessary for the company's survival (unlike some more notable companies that have really been fighting for their very existence).
  5. Many IT companies are moving more and more jobs to off-shore locations. If this companies want to continue to do this type of activity, they should have to make sure that all employees that have been made redundant have "comparable" positions, or pay until they find such positions! Business needs to work more with government to make sure that local education meets their needs, not that this is used as an excuse to move more positions off shore.
  • Give some serious thought to where you buy your stuff, not just what you buy
  1. One well known and very large retail company is known for not paying their employees very well, many of this company's employees are making wages that put them just above the poverty line and some aren't able to pay for health care coverage. This should not be allowed
  • Buy from and support local companies and products whenever possible. The company mentioned above has a reputation for going into a community and forcing several local businesses into closure because they can't compete on price and volume. It is the local companies that are more likely to be active in the community and do the things that used to make our towns nice places to live in

  • Let your corporate and government leaders know that you want to see more international cooperation. Corporations should not be above the law. If companies move headquarters to avoid their tax and other responsibilities, they should not be permitted to do business in your area. Can you imagine a company today that doesn't want to be able to see its goods and services in America, if they couldn't sell in this market, they might not be in business for long
America has the largest economy in the world and has a huge impact on the rest of the world. The financial crisis has shown how interconnected things have become in the last few years. It is time for consumers and taxpayers to "encourage" our businesses to be the responsible enterprises that they should be.

Photo credit: Industrial 4 courtesy of kkiser.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The October Edition of The Better Life Blog Carnival

Welcome to the October edition of The Better Life Blog Carnival. It has been a while since I published and edition of The Better Life Blog Carnival, so the submissions piled up. There were over 400 submissions! As I prepare for The Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival, I hope to publish a few more of our various blog carnivals before then, we'll see what time permits. This edition includes over 40 articles all to help you live a Better Life, so there is bound to be something for everyone.


William Womack presents Obstacles vs. Obstuckles posted at Conscious Growth, saying, "An article for helping you get through obstacles faster, with less stress, and with your life goals in mind."

Cody Butler
presents OverComing fear And Overwhelm. posted at Dream Life Coaching Blog. Ask your questions, saying, "5 tips of dealing with and overcoming fear and overwhelm."

Douglas Spencer
presents Confidence and Self Esteem posted at The Life Centre, saying, "Here are self improvement articles about principles and practices related to areas of my personal development expertise and interests. Words and phrases that describe this expertise include self improvement, self development, personal growth, self growth, personal change, inspiration, and empowerment."

Finance Tips 101 presents Scholarships Come In All Shapes And Sizes posted at Finance Tips 101.

Emma Taylor presents Online Journal Tools for Your Self Improvement & Discovery Psychology Degrees posted at Psychology Degrees.

Lucky Balaraman presents Finding Unshakable Happiness: The 5 Pristine Pillars posted at Calm and Cool.

Jirel presents Reviewing the day positively posted at
Positive and Successful Lifestyle tips

Matthew Paulson presents New Lifestyles Don't Need New Purchases posted at American Consumer News.

Lisa Taylor
presents 50 Best Productivity Blogs for Students posted at Online Degree.

Arswino Sonata
presents 85 Ways to Motivate Yourself posted at Inspiration & Motivation Blog.

Jon Beebe presents Quick-Start Guide to Overcoming Fear and Developing Courage posted at Blog, saying,
"How to overcome fear and develop courage for a better life."

Health And Diet

Cory presents Overview Of Yoga. Basics Of Yoga. Eat Healthy, Live Healthy posted at Eating Healthy, saying, "The basics of yoga."

KarenE presents Low Carb Diets posted at at Loss 4 Idiots Review.

Nate McGraw presents Fit-Life Online > Articles > 10 Nutrition Tips posted at Fit-Life Online, saying, "10 Easy Nutrition Tips for Everyone to Follow".

Vegefood presents Spicy Chicken with Green Chillies Vegetarian Culinary Recipes posted at Vegetarian Culinary, saying, "Great vegetarian culinary recipe for spicy chicken with the delicious green chillies. Mmm!"

$Your Budget$

presents 25 Debt Reduction Tips For Your Immediate Action Plan posted at Money Ning, saying,
"There's no time to waste. Get your act together and fix your debt right away."

Debbie Ducker presents Your Children and Grandchildren Must Learn to Save Money posted at Ducker Promotion Ezine, saying, "Teach your children how to save money at an early age and you will save them a lifetime of heartache."

Jack Schmidt presents How to Save Money on Your Food Bill posted at NSectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "Saving money on groceries can be one tough task. Let's face it: you have to eat. Food ranks right up there with oxygen, but unlike air, free food is tough to come by... unless you're still living with your folks. If you want to manage to have money left over after a trip to the market, you need to plan exactly how to use what you've got. Some people think budgeting is a real pain in the neck. If you're one of those people, why not just give over? Loosen up... smile more. Let's have some fun with this. After all, you're the one holding your purse strings, right?"

Condo Blues
presents How I Slashed my Electric Bills without Moving into a Yurt posted at Condo Blues, saying,
"My goal was to reduce the amount of electricity in my 1500 square foot free standing Condo used for 2008 by 20%. I wanted to do it without alternative energy generators, by keeping of my current non-Energy Star appliances, and as inexpensively as possible. I didn't meet my goal - I beat it. Here's how I did what I did."

Leave Debt Behind
presents What is the Envelope Budget Method posted at Leave Debt Behind.


Katy Unitek presents Boots on the Roof posted at Boots On The Roof, saying,
"Boots on the Roof is the Green Degree training and certification division of Unitek, a long-running private school with a proven track record of certification-based and degree-based education programs in various technical and health care fields. Having successfully partnered with professional organizations nationwide to train tens of thousands of students, Unitek opened the Boots on the Roof division specifically to cater to the immense training demands in the Renewable Energy sector. To get a better grasp of our business, and to learn more about us, you can visit We have partnered with other “Green” businesses to spread the word on Boots."

Jack Schmidt presents Here's Your Stress-free Job Hunting Guide posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "Hunting for the perfect job takes time, effort and knowledge. For a painless job search, first consider the following pointers before starting your job hunt".

Rose King presents 100 Great Social Sites to Boost Your Career and Brand posted at - Job Descriptions and Online Schools to Start Your Career.


Sean Reynolds presents European Motorcycle Trip posted at Creativity. What a trip!

America001 presents Visiting Wine Country in Beautiful Traverse City, MI America 001 posted at Traveling In America, saying, "If you happen to be in the Midwest, a nice trip to take is to the wine country in Traverse City, Michigan."

Caterina Christakos presents German Wine Grades - Becoming an Expert posted at Wine Clubs Worldwide.

Jack Schmidt presents There's No Bear Statue On Wall Street posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "You probably know that in terms of market trends, the Bull is the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, and the Bear stands for the lean times."

Jack Schmidt presents Can You Really Travel For Free? posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "Getting away from it all should be a breeze, not a source of tension. You work hard, and you mind your money. Yet somehow there's not much left over for the fun stuff. Hey, even machines need regular maintenance. Have you ever stopped to think that you could get away to a glamorous tropic locale, dance the night away shipboard, or jet to a suave European city without paying a dime? Sure you have! There are ways of doing exactly this - efficiently, morally - and all you need is a little planning and the right kind of footwork. With a little activity, you really could travel for free, or even get paid while doing it."

Jack Schmidt presents Be Roadtrip Ready With These Great Online Tools posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "let me take you on a scenic cruise. Let's say you're planning to take a quick trip, and you're not sure if you should fly or drive. You think driving would be cheaper, but you're just not sure. A 5-hour jaunt could lead you through some unknown territory, and the price of gas could really cut into your hotel budget. Next thing you know, you're on the edge of town with some buzzing neon for a nightlight and a curler-bedecked smoker named Madge handing you a greasy key. Take heart, wary Traveler, and check out the tool below."

$Money & Finance$

Cody Butler presents What Is A Money Market Account And How Does It work? posted at Investment-For-Beginners Blog, saying,
"An introduction to money market accounts, what they are and how they work."

Apply4-credit presents How to Keep Credit Card Charges LowE posted at Apply4-Credit.

Cody Butler presents How Do Mutual Funds work? posted at Investment-For-Beginners Blog, saying, "Article on the basics of Mutual Funds, what they are and how they work."

Debbie Ducker presents Baby Boomer And Retirement Age posted at Ducker Promotion Ezine, saying, "baby boomers and retirement age, money generation tips, instant businesses, budget marketing tips and more..."

Cody Butler presents What Is A Traditional IRA posted at Investment-For-Beginners Blog, saying, "What is a traditional IRA and who is it for?"

Debt Freedom Fighter presents Looking for a Quick Way to Reduce Personal Debt? posted at Discover Debt Freedom!.


GrrlScientist presents Meme: My Earth Day Resolution posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "Frugal living is earth-friendly living. This is a list of Earth Day Resolutions made by a former country girl who lives in one of the biggest cities in the world."


Nui Loa presents 67 Cheap Date Ideas for the Recession-Era Romantic posted at Love Hacks.


Jack Schmidt presents 10 Really Fun Things You Can Do Today on the Cheap posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "Personal Finance Everything for the Big Spender on a Budget. Now you can live like a fat cat, even if you're on a moeny diet. Laugh all the way to the bank with Jack Schmidt and SectorMatic Money Journal. It's for you!"

Kerry Fletcher presents City or suburbs posted at Houston Interior Decorating Examiner.

Jack Schmidt presents Change Is Inevitable - Spending Money Is Optional posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, "SectorMatic Money Site - Personal Finance Everything for the Big Spender on a Budget."

Margaret Garcia presents 100 Awesome iPhone Apps to Organize Your School Life posted at Online Bible Colleges.

Jay Pavlina
presents Intro to Conscious Homelessness posted at Freedom Artistry, saying, "I was homeless for about three weeks, and I wrote about my experiences."

That concludes the October Edition of The Better Life Carnival. Be sure to stay tuned for upcoming blog carnivals in addition to normal articles found here. You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Better Life Blog Carnival using our "Submit an entry to “The Better Life Carnival” carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our "Blog Carnival index for “The Better Life Carnival”blog carnival index page.

Photo credit: Venise courtesy of sundstrom.

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