Alex Raichev

Why We Get Fat

youtube~M6vpFV6Wkl4

Gary Taubes giving a lecture summary of his book Why We Get Fat.

Video sourced from YouTube here.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-27
Tags: health, video
Permalink, Comment

Jag Mandir

'Jag Mandir' is a documentary by Werner Herzogabout a grand cultural performance in Udaipur, India. One of the dance and music acts of the performance contains a funky rhythm that i've adapted to drum set and call 'Jag Mandir'. Here is a lo-fi mobile phone recording of me playing it:

Jag Mandir

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: beatlog, audio, drums
Permalink, Comment

The Apprentice

By Billy Martin from 'Illy Beats Volume 2'.

The Apprentice

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: beatlog, audio
Permalink, Comment

7 Rules for Communicating Clearly and Concisely in Email

Written by Leo Babauta 2007-10-05

As email is the prevalent form of communication for many web workers, it’s gotten a lot of attention: how to handle your email, how to empty your inbox, email etiquette, and more.

But perhaps not enough time is spent learning about how to communicate with email. And more specifically, how to communicate clearly and concisely, two crucial aspects of communication that are often overlooked.

How many times have you received a rambling and incoherent email? How many times have you hit “Delete” because you have no idea what the person wants and no time to sort through the long message?

The truth is that people don’t have time for long emails, and they don’t have time to try to find out exactly what you want. You have to tell them, in as short an email as possible.

Misunderstandings are also a problem, because of the nature of email. People are often ambiguous, and their messages are interpreted differently than they intended, leading to a waste of time and energy.

Communicate clearly and concisely with the following rules.

  1. Use the minimum amount of sentences. I’ve been using the 5-sentence rule, but you can use more if needed. The question is: how many sentences are needed to communicate what you’re trying to communicate? Or how few sentences can you get away with. Cut it to that number, and no more. That ensures that you’re not wasting the time of the recipient, and that your email actually gets read (people tend to put off reading longer ones, and might even delete them).
  2. State what you want right away. Don’t write a long introduction, telling your life story, or any story for that matter. People aren’t interested. They just want to know what you want. So state that, in the first sentence. Skip the niceties. Don’t make the recipient wade through 10 paragraphs to find what action is needed for the email.
  3. Write about only one thing. There have been numerous times when I read an email, saw the action needed, and went and did it … only to find out that three other things were also needed to respond to the email. I’ve also responded to the first part of an email and not to others, just because I didn’t have enough time.

If you write about multiple things, with multiple requests, you do two things: 1) make it likely that your email actually won’t be read or acted on; and 2) make it likely that even if it is acted on or responded to, the recipient will only do one of those things.

Instead, stick to one subject, with one request. Once that’s done, you can send a second one, but don’t overwhelm the recipient if at all possible.

  1. Leave out the humor and emotions. These don’t come across well in an email. Even if you use emoticons. There’s just no way to express tone, inflection, etc. … and there’s no way to know if the recipient understands that you’re joking. If you’re communicating in person, you can see that the person didn’t understand the humor, and say, “I was only joking!” But not in email.

So, unless you know the person well, and you know they’ll understand that you’re joking, leave out humor. It’s a risk that you don’t want to take.

  1. Use “If... then” statements. As email is a back-and-forth method of communicating, and it can take a day or more for a response (in some cases), you want to limit the number of times a message has to go back and forth. To do that, use “if … then” statements, anticipating the possible responses to your question.

For example, if you want to know if a person has received a response to an inquiry, instead of asking if they’ve received a response, and then waiting for a reply, and then sending another email based on that reply, try doing it all in one email:

“Have you received a response from Mr. X yet? If so, please finish the report by Tuesday and email it to me. If not, can you follow up today and let me know the response?”

By anticipating the possible responses, and giving a desired action for each possible response, you’re cutting a lot of wasted back-and-forth time.

  1. Review for ambiguity, clarity. Once you’ve written an email, take a few seconds to read over it before pressing the Send button. Read it as if you were an outsider — how clear it it? Are there any ambiguous statements that could be interpreted the wrong way? If so, clarify.
  2. Revise for conciseness. As you review, also see if there is a way you can shorten the email, remove words or sentences or even paragraphs. Leave nothing but the essential message you’re trying to communicate.
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: advice
Permalink, Comment

A Room with a View of Hell

youtube~N0onquIv89g

Video sourced from YouTube here.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: video
Permalink, Comment

Best Flash Mob Ever

youtube~ARwZ3scXQ7U

Video sourced from YouTube here.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: video, bicycle
Permalink, Comment

Death Star Canteen

youtube~Sv5iEK-IEzw

Video sourced from YouTube here.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: video
Permalink, Comment

Epistle to Be Left in the Earth

...It is colder now,
there are many stars,
we are drifting
North by the Great Bear,
the leaves are falling,
The water is stone in the scooped rock,
to southward
Red sun grey air:
the crows are
Slow on their crooked wings,
the jays have left us:
Long since we passed the flares of Orion.
Each man believes in his heart he will die.
Many have written last thoughts and last letters.
None know if our deaths are now or forever:
None know if this wandering earth will be found.

We lie down and the snow covers our garments.
I pray you,
you (if any open this writing)
Make in your mouths the words that were our names.
I will tell you all we have learned,
I will tell you everything:
The earth is round,
there are springs under the orchards,
The loam cuts with a blunt knife,
beware of
Elms in thunder,
the lights in the sky are stars--
We think they do not see,
we think also
The trees do not know nor the leaves of the grasses hear us:
The birds too are ignorant.
Do not listen.
Do not stand at dark in the open windows.
We before you have heard this:
they are voices:
They are not words at all but the wind rising.
Also none among us has seen God.
(… We have thought often
The flaws of sun in the late and driving weather
Pointed to one tree but it was not so.)
As for the nights I warn you the nights are dangerous:
The wind changes at night and the dreams come.

It is very cold,
there are strange stars near Arcturus,
Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky

~ Archibald MacLeish, 1930

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: poem, audio
Permalink, Comment

For I will consider my cat Jeoffry...

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider’d God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

~ Christopher Smart, excerpt from 'Jubilate Agno', published in 1939 but written around 1760!
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: poem
Permalink, Comment

How You Buy Fire

I hereby start a beat log, a collection of danceable rhythms. Let the first item of the collection be the introduction to 'How You Buy Fire', an Afrobeat-inspired percussion piece i cowrote. Here is a lo-fi mobile phone recording of me playing the introduction:

How You Buy Fire Intro

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: beatlog, audio, drums
Permalink, Comment


Why no comments? I used to do public comments but found that moderating and maintaining them took too much time in front of the computer, time better spent playing outdoors. So these days I only do private comments, that is, you can email me comments regarding a post by clicking the 'Comment' link at the bottom the post.