Agile Update – Week 12

Wow – three months of using Agile Methodology as a personal and professional development tool. I’ve found it very successful. It really does help to focus on goals, and to see accomplishments week by week.

This past week I wrote four blog posts on WordPress, including two new movie reviews that were posted to both WordPress and Blogger. My Movie Project Blogging Project is now firmly back on track and I’m back to the point where I had stopped in my alphabetical reviews (The Third Man) – the film had been a stumbling block, probably because I knew it was grim and depressing, but with stunning cinematography. When I did watch it, then review it, I found I liked the film as much as I remembered mostly because of the film’s look. And it also has a twisty-turny plot that’s intelligent. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t give up on the project and I’m now firmly back on track!

I also wrote two book reviews on GoodReads this week. One was of the Doctor Who Missing Adventure original novel, Managra, and the second was a review of the DC Comics Graphic Novel Nightwing:  Blüdhaven. Reviews can be found on GoodReads.

This was also a good week for professional development. I finally received the February issue of Intercom magazine from the STC and read through the entire thing. The focus this issue was on the nitty-gritty of writing techniques. I think I learned the most from the article on Noun Strings, simply because it confirmed the “my head says” idea that grammatically correct English beats “Business English” shortcuts  because it’s more understandable. To make sense of this, you need to know that I was forced to read a book in one of my classes, written by a barely-literate businessman who insisted one should never use “big complicated words”, or long sentences, or scientific language – even in a scientific journal article written for other scientists. I actually had to perform writing exercises from the book where the goal was to make the sentence as short as possible and didn’t matter if the sentence no longer made sense. It was not just the worse writing book I’ve ever read, nor the worst textbook I’ve ever read – but the worst non-fiction book I’ve ever read. Textbooks, especially in writing, should be helpful and practical – they should not give bad advice. It was like reading a car manual that if you followed the instructions to the letter – would destroy the car. The article I read in STC’s Intercom confirmed what I instinctively knew, for example, the importance of “small” words like prepositions which enhance reading comprehension (the business writing book I so despised would have you eliminate all prepositions as “unnecessary”)

“Connectives, mostly prepositions, are very important for fluid reading, explicitly informing the reader about how words are related to each other. Without them, readers must infer those relationships, and inference may be difficult or result in faulty sense-making. Exposing a sentence to different interpretations is counterproductive in expository writing… “Understanding, Curing and Preventing the Noun String:  Part 1” by Bradford R. Connatster, Intercom, Feb. 2015, p. 11 

This was but one useful example in this well-written article. There were many more. But then, the entire professional organization magazine is usually filled with helpful, useful, and interesting articles, and something I look forward to reading each month.

I also attended my InDesign class and finished all homework and the quiz.

What didn’t happen this week was Yoga class – due to truly crazy day that day.

Two of my main goals that I have been using this self-structured Agile program for are writing and exercise. The writing goal, at least three posts a week, has been consistently accomplished. I’m going to add to that that I will write at least one, preferably two, movie review posts, as well as keeping up with DVD reviews and book reviews of what I watch and read. I’m also going to add that I should write one technical or how to post per week. (I shudder already thinking about that because it’s difficult to come up with good topics.)

The second goal is exercise and more healthy living (better food – less fast food, etc.) I’m the type of person that likes to cook – but I don’t like making dinner. Which means I like trying out new recipes and foods, but I don’t like coming up with something – based on whatever I have on hand, in 20 – 30 minutes, especially after a busy and exhausting day. However, I also know that cooking for yourself is healthier than eating a lot of fast food, take out, and heavy restaurant food. And the exercise thing is almost a no brainer – we all need it. I just tend to hate it – because I’m not very coordinated, or into sports (especially anything involving a ball being thrown at me). I mean, I’m almost phobic of having things thrown at me. But I know it’s important. And when I’ve gone to Yoga class, even just once a week, it did make me feel better – and that was just a very gentle stretching Yoga class. So the new goal is to do Pilates at least three days a week, at least one set. Secondly, to pick-up a exercise class of some sort, each term. My Yoga class was at my church for a very reasonable $15.00 for the entire six week class. I doubt I’ll find something to replace it that’s that cheap, but there are community education classes and such that aren’t as expensive as some of the professional Pilates and Yoga studios.

Professional development, like writing, is something I enjoy and it’s not as difficult for me to stay motivated to work on it. These weekly posts will continue, as well as reading professional development material. I’ve also been working to develop my Twitter contacts and followers, reading about Social Media for Business, and building a curated list of Infographics and Blog posts on Pinterest (as well as cross-posting the best to Twitter). It’s an enjoyable learning experience that I hope to put to work in my future career.