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December 03, 2005


I have some old vinyl albums, many of which have never been re-released on CDs among them is (Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief, though now that I search for it, I have found it at Amazon.com—hurray!). I also have some really old 78s, such as an ancient recording of Wagner's Parsifal.

I finally decided that I want to burn some of my old vinyl albums to CDs so I can listen to them again. This meant finding a turntable that would play all three speeds and produce quality sound output.

After much research, I decided on the Audio-Technica AT-PL120 Professional Direct-Drive Turntable. Reviewers were unanimously happy with it, with the only drawback being that it is a manual turntable, which means you have to manually place and lift the arm. Not a problem as far as I am concerned. In exchange for that one inconvenience, you get a very high quality turntable with many features at a very reasonable price. The link I've provided has the best price I was able to find on this turntable. Buy! Enjoy!

December 02, 2005

Recognizing and Dealing With Hidden Agendas

Some people have hidden agendas: Goals that they wish to accomplish at some cost to others. To the astute, these agendas can quickly become quite obvious. (If someone wishes to accomplish a goal and it is not at some cost to others, then that isn't an agenda, but just a goal.)

What kinds of hidden agendas can people have? They might want to

  • Make themselves feel better about themselves by putting other people down.
  • Achieve a position of power or prestige at the expense of others.
  • Control other people.
  • Make other people feel bad about themselves.

How can you recognize a hidden agenda? Pay attention to what a person says or does, and see how you feel in response to it. If someone says something that may seem like some kind of compliment, but feels like a put-down, then it could be an action arising out of a hidden agenda. If you confront that person about it (lovingly, of course), and they deny it or try to explain it away, give them the benefit of the doubt, but keep an eye on them. If the same kind of behavior continues, and you confront them again on it and they still deny it or explain it away, but continue acting the same, then the likelihood is high that it is a hidden agenda. (Sometimes a person's agendas are hidden even from themselves, because they are in denial about it.)

At that point, you need to decide what you want to do about/with that person. Do you want to keep associating with them? If it is a friend, you can drop the friendship—after all, what kind of friend continually tries to undermine you, control you, or make you feel bad about yourself?

If it is a family member or co-worker or, worse yet, a boss, it can be a little trickier—it is harder to just drop such people, but you are free to do everything you can to minimize contact with that person, and to also develop some defense strategies of your own.

If you are the book-reading sort, there are some excellent books you can read that can help raise your awareness about other people's hidden agendas and how to deal with them. Here is just a sampling (with links to Amazon.com, though you can also try your local library):

One thing to be aware of is that it takes time to learn to recognize hidden agendas, and even more time to learn the skills required to deal effectively with these agendas. A recent study has shown that being compassionate with yourself is actually more important when dealing with difficult situations than having good self-esteem. So be kind and gentle with yourself while you are learning, and know that there is always more to learn.

December 01, 2005

Creating Miracles

A number of people, including myself, believe that our attitudes influence the world around us. Many of us go so far as to say that we create our own reality. Though some might find that hard to believe, even the most cynical or skeptical cannot deny that, at the very least, our attitudes influence how we *experience* the world around us. For example, we always have the choice of how to think about anything: We can choose to think negatively about an experience, or we can choose to think positively. How we choose to think about something determines how we experience it. So why choose to think negatively about something when it is possible to think positively? Also, many studies have shown that people who choose to have positive, cheerful, optimistic outlooks are healthier and happier in many ways and on many levels.

Just so, there are those who believe that having an attitude of thankfulness or gratitude can powerfully affect our lives as well, even creating miracles in our lives.

So what am I getting at? My brother Peter just sent me a Web site that is running an experiment in having people choose to feel and express gratitude. I’ve just signed up for it, so I know nothing more about it beyond what is on the Web site, but I think that it can’t hurt and it may even do some good. I encourage you to check it out.

For those of you who may wish to explore this idea of gratitude in another way, I highly recommend getting the 15-Minute Miracle Workbook. I’ve only done maybe 14 entries, and I’ve already had a number of good results (the author would call them miracles). The workbook is charmingly homemade looking, but powerfully effective nonetheless.