April 21, 2005


I'm abstract-random, no question. (That's a bit of jargon about learning styles carried over from my former life as a high school teacher.) Being abstract-random means that I like to draw a common thread or theme through events, that I like to philosophize and hypothesize. I'm curious about a multitude of things that may seem disparate to other people but are all meaningful to me.

I like to deal with information or tasks in chunks rather than sequentially. It can seem to other people that I'm switching topics, jumping from one thing to the next. It can drive other people a little nuts, sometimes.

Last night I was lying in bed, not fully asleep. About 3:00 in the morning, Scott's cell phone rang. Every night when he goes to bed, he plugs his cell phone into the charger, which is on the tile countertop next to the sink in our bathroom. His cell phone didn't ring, exactly, because he keeps it on manner mode. But it did make that little buzz vibration noise, which echoes and sounds like the cell phone is skittering across the tile counter, especially at 3 AM, when everything else is quiet (even the roosters). He, of course, slept through it, and I wasn't about to get up and answer what I'm sure was only a wrong number.

But soon after that the roosters were crowing and there was no going back to sleep for me. Usually when I have insomnia, I get up, make myself a cup of hot cocoa, and knit. But last night I got up, made myself a cup of hot cocoa, and read some blogs written by my fellow Pretty Posians (Pretty Poseurs?).

Well, one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was at a site called 43things.com. It's a site where people list their goals (the idea being that a good number of goals to have is 43!), make entries about how they're doing on their path to achieving their goals, and where other people can comment on the goals and declare them as "worth doing" or "not worth doing."

43things.com is a little bit of heaven on earth for anyone who's abstract-random.

When I first got to the home page of the site, there's this funky long list of all these different -- seemingly disparate -- goals. Very near the top of the list was one: Decide whether to go to law school. Well, I was immediately drawn in, having been there, done that -- and I also had the sort of disbelief reaction: Law school? Do people still want to go to law school anymore? That is sooo eighties. (Remember that time, the period when all the former hippies turned yuppie?)

I was further drawn in to see that, of the major cities where people are doing their 43 things, Seattle tops the list. A few abstract-random clicks later, I found out that's because the site was started by about six guys from Seattle.

Abstract-randomly, I clicked on goals here, FAQs there. There's even a Zeitgeist button that takes you to the top 10 goals of the day: Fall in love being the number 1 goal. (Been there, done that, too.)

465 people want to be a better blogger.
6 people want to grow old disgracefully.
26 people want to knit a scarf.

Hey, while we're on the knitting topic, methinks, let's see if anyone has the goal of becoming a master knitter. So I searched. 1 person wants to become a better knitter; 1 person wants to become an expert knitter. No master knitter goal was listed.

Point-click. Point-click. Point-click.

525 people want to write a novel. (Something I've tried to do. Thrice.)
1 person wants to read all the Pulitzer-prize winning novels. (Something I fantasize about doing, sometimes.)

Did I mention how addictive 43things.com is for someone who's abstract-random? I just love setting goals; just last week on Friday our local radio talk show host did an hour on setting goals and reaching them and I was totally tempted to call in (something I've never done) and say that my goal is to become a master knitter.

While we're on the goal of what to read, I remembered that I had set the goal for myself in high school of reading all of Mark Twain's works. (No, I haven't even come close. And the Twain estate keeps releasing more work, every few years -- so I don't think it's a goal that could ever be finished.) So I cruised around to see related goals about reading . . . .

And there I found Rebecca wants to read all of Proust's multi-volume work, In Search of Lost Time! This is one-and-the-same Rebecca whom I know from Guild and from her blog. Just in the last couple of weeks, Rebecca and I have been planning to set up a book group to read this work. I've meant to read these books for years. I look at my computer screen and think, Rebecca's doing 43 things! (Actually, she's doing 30 things.) Well, if she can do it, I can, too.

So I signed up on the site. Become a Master Knitter is my number one goal. Read Proust is number two.

And I get to "check off," as it were, other goals that I've already accomplished in my lifetime. Quit smoking (worth doing!). Study philosophy (I have a BA and did all the coursework for a Master's, although I didn't write my thesis, so didn't actually finish that degree -- worth doing!).

And who knows? Maybe I'll join that coterie of 6 people who want to stop making lists of goals and actually do something.

Note that, as of 4:30 AM PST, I was about person number 19,716 to sign up on 43things.com. At the time that I write this, a mere 8 hours later, there are 19,906 people signed up. Is it catching on?

Now, to recap last night's Guild meeting: Betsy McCarthy was warm and funny as she talked about how the vision for her book grew from the initial 98-page, 15-sock-pattern version to its final form of 144 pages and 28 patterns, in a mere one year and nine months' time. Her original plan was to knit just one sock for each pattern, but then, shortly before the photo shoot, the publisher decided that really a pair of each socks was needed. Betsy knitted many of them herself, but it was also great fun to see her hold up socks (all of the socks in the book were on display last night) and say that various Guild members (MaryB! Annelie!) had knitted some of them, too.

The turnout was greater than our usual numbers, including several visitors, one of whom was Patti, who's posted in the comments here on Ideaphoria. She had a handful of little gems:
on their way to becoming glass buttons. Gorgeous, no?

Oh, and my camera that I thought had sprouted legs and run off, yesterday? It was one step ahead of me. It was in my knitting bag in the car, all ready to go to Guild....

Posted by Karen at April 21, 2005 12:27 PM

I love this! Go Proust!

Posted by: Rebecca at April 22, 2005 12:44 AM

Oh, my Gawd! I read the description of the abstract-random personality type and it is So Me! Could we possibly be that much alike? Maybe we'll have to compare notes at the next Ferals...

Posted by: Ryan at April 22, 2005 09:05 PM

Ryan: What is it they say, birds of a feather flock together? Yes, let's do talk about this at the Ferals next Thursday, April 28, at 7:00 PM at Third Place Commons in the conference room -- be there or be concrete sequential!

Posted by: Karen at April 22, 2005 11:55 PM

Goals are only useful if you reach them. If you've been goal oriented all your life and you haven't achieved all that much, doesn't it make you want to re-evaluate whether setting goals is really worth it? Unreached goals underline failure.

Posted by: Jane at April 23, 2005 08:06 PM

Jane, thanks for the reminder that a steady diet of pie-in-the-sky isn't healthy. A reality check every now and then is called for.

What an epigram you've written! "Unreached goals underline failure."

Isn't that a harsh judgment? I prefer to think that unreached goals simply indicate that there's a human being who is still in the process of Becoming.

Posted by: Karen at April 24, 2005 06:56 AM

Congratulations on your goal "Master Knitter" hehe. Also check out www.goalsetting1.com. It is similar to 43things.com. If you like it why dont you write an blog article about it. Please contact me anytime. Thanks Michael :)

Posted by: Michael the Goal Setting Dude at August 8, 2005 11:55 PM