Monthly Archives: April 2012

How To: Get Inbox Zero Every Day [Video] – The Next Web

Then I saw these 7 steps from my friend Tim Miles that I thought you’d find interesting. There’s a video at the end, where Tim shows you exactly how it all works, but the 7 steps are a massive leap toward achieving our mutual goal.

  1. If it takes less than 2 minutes, deal with it now.
  2. Delete more, filter more. Never “deal with it later”.
  3. Use Instapaper or Read It Later for interesting links sent to you.
  4. Delete even more.
  5. Write shorter replies. [Try the 3 Sentences method]
  6. Use your calendar and to-do list, not your email.
  7. Use IMAP for mobile.


Gadget Show LIVE


Fin and I went to the Gadget Show LIVE at the NEC. Cross Country train to BHI. The show was disappointing this year. There seemed fewer exciting things and a lot os space – an impresion that not all the exhibition space had been sold.

Got fed up by 16:30, so cuaght the train to BHM (New Street). Had a wander about the Bullring, including the Selfridges and then through the shopping centre to Victoria and Chamberlain Squares.

Home on the late-running 19:04. XC really is pretty awful – overcrowded, disruptive, late-running.

Rejuvenate your garden this spring

Make room in your garden for something fresh and exciting this weekend, says Pattie Barron

Easter gardening

© Gap Photos/Suzie Gibbons/Design: Judith Strong
Free up space: assess plants regularly to be sure that they continue to earn their keep and if not, remove them to make way for more

In spring the garden centres are full of the most seductive plants in bud, blossom and bloom. But the plants in most small London gardens are already fighting for space, so instead of shoehorning in yet another one, take a different tack: make some space. Cast a long, cool look over what you already have.

If a shrub is neither use nor ornament, get rid. It can always have an afterlife on the compost heap, and just think of the space you are freeing up. Cut off the lower branches of small trees and shrubs and create an under-storey for plants at ground level.


‘If your patio is the size of a hankie, increase container space at a stroke with a wooden plant stand’

Who said an eleagnus or a viburnum needs to produce leaves right down to its base? Get creative with shears or loppers and turn a shapeless shrub into a broad, bare-trunked canopy that can shelter any number of spring perennials: pulmonaria, dicentra, hellebore, corydalis. Water in well, mulch thickly with bark chippings and you have a delectable mini woodland that will thrive whether we end up with a long-term drought or monsoon summer.

Even a flowering camellia might be improved by making it more of a mophead and less of a full-length flowerama. A bare-stemmed mahonia with a crown of foliage cartwheels takes on the persona of a palm tree, complete with dates when the lengthy clusters of navy-blue berries appear.

Pull off the basal, dead leaves of cordylines — a satisfying task — and you create a longer, clearer stem with a higher fountain of foliage, so smaller plants can frolic around its base. Once you realise that a plant won’t drop dead from a strategic haircut, and will probably be much improved, there will be no stopping you. Spring-flowering clematis from the macropetala and alpina group — not the larger montanas — are dainty, pretty and irresistible. They reach a manageable height of under 10ft, so they suit small gardens.



© Gap Photos/Dave Zubraski
Clear a little space in the beds for spring beauties such as dicentra

Fit one in comfortably by buying a long, U-shaped cane from the garden centre — imagine a giant bamboo hairpin — and push it into a small patch of ground, or a container: instant height to display a clematis gem such as dusky blue alpine beauty Frances Rivis. Alternatively, thread these early clematis through foliage or summer-flowering shrubs, to break up the greenery with flowers.

If your patio is the size of a hankie, increase your container space at a stroke by investing in a wooden plant stand ( on four tiers, for under £30. Paint it aubergine or French navy and you have the perfect display case for a multitude of plants, from kitchen herbs to houseleeks.

Use more vertical space by pinning up a series of rings ( on the wall into which you can drop standard-size pots; the same company supplies rings with heavyweight webbing straps that hold secure on downpipes. Just think, instead of an ugly black metal pipe you could have a cascade of ivy or, later in the year, tiers of trailing cherry tomatoes.

Limit the amount of ever-spreading plant carpets and you make room for more plant diversity. Groundcover such as Stachys lantana, cranesbill geraniums and Ajuga reptans are great in their place, but make sure they don’t wander everywhere. They are easy enough to pull out or dig up to make way for more interesting high-risers such as drought-resistant foxgloves, verbascum, Echinops and Eryngium.

Look at the lawn: could it be a bit narrower, making the borders a bit wider? Skinny, straight beds that hug a fence look mean, however well you plant them. Consider creating generous curves that give a garden more visual appeal — and give you more plant space.

At any rate, an hour spent redefining the lawn’s edges with a half-moon cutter will prevent the grass from slinking apologetically into the borders, and enable you to see the wood — and the leaves — for the trees.












Face to faith: How western Buddhism has changed in 50 years | Comment is free | The Guardian

It’s 50 years since Buddhist teachers started arriving in the west in the early 60s and Buddhism crash-landed into the counterculture. So what have we learned about western Buddhism?

1. It’s not all about enlightenment. Many who found Buddhism in the 60s saw nirvana as the ultimate peak experience. A decade later these recovering hippies were painfully finding out that Buddhism is more concerned with reshaping character and behaviour than big, mystical experiences. Younger Buddhists are often more fired by social action than mysticism.

2. It doesn’t focus on monks. In most Asian countries Buddhist monks are the real practitioners, focusing on meditation and study while lay people support them. Distinctions between monks and lay people does not fit in with modern society and western monastic orders are relatively scarce. Non-monastic practitioners are often very serious and they power the various Buddhist movements.

3. Tibetan Buddhism has baggage. Tibetan lamas arriving in the 1970s seemed to fulfil our Shangri-La fantasies. But, along with inspiration and wisdom, they also brought sectarian disputes, shamanism, the “reincarnate lama” (tulku) system, tantric practices and deep conservatism. Westerners love Tibetans, but we notice the baggage.

4. The schools are mixing together. Most Asian Buddhist teachers assumed they would establish their existing schools in western countries. Hence we have western Zen, western Theravada etc. But the boundaries are breaking down as western Buddhists, motivated by common needs, explore the whole Buddhist tradition. The emerging western Buddhist world is essentially non-denominational.

5. People take what they need, not what they’re given. For all the talk of lineage, transmission and the purity of the teachings, western Buddhism is driven by students’ needs as much as teachers’ wishes.

6. Mindfulness is where Buddhism and the west meet. Buddhist mindfulness practices are being applied to everything from mental health treatments to eating out, and we’re now seeing a “mindfulness boom”. These approaches apply core Buddhist insights to modern living, making this the biggest development in western Buddhism since the 1960s. It will probably shape the next 50 years.

7. But it’s not the only meeting point. The mindfulness movement is hyped as the “new Buddhism for the west”. But, unless you’re following the noble onefold path, there’s more to Buddhism than mindfulness. Buddhist influence on western culture is strong in the arts, social action, environmentalism, psychotherapy and practitioners’ lives.

8. Westerners can meditate and maybe even get enlightened. Numerous Buddhists I know who have been practising for several decades have made the teachings their own. Westerners can definitely do Buddhism, and are its future.

9. But sex doesn’t go away. Scandals and anguished life stories show that, even for people who prize celibacy, sex doesn’t go away. Is this really a surprise?

10. And we still don’t know if western Buddhism is secular or religious. A growing movement (as Julian Baggini has discussed) wishes to strip Buddhism of “superstitious” elements such as karma and rebirth to distil a secular Buddhism that’s compatible with science. That raises a big question: does following science mean ditching enlightenment? Is Buddhism an alternative source of authority that challenges the west? Ask me again in 50 years.