Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Masonic Tattoo

I haven't had a chance to blog lately. Unfortunately, work and life has been extremely busy. Lodges in the area will be gearing up again after the summer break soon. Which means I will have even less time. Hopefully, I'll be able to fit in some of my latest thoughts and ideas later on.

In the meantime, RWB Simon LaPlace has asked me to take a photo of my Masonic tattoo for a possible upcoming CT Freemasons (The GLofCT's Newspaper) article. I got this tattoo in 2000, shortly after being raised. Some of you may have seen my ink immortalized in this post by VWB Tom Accuosti from the Tao of Masonry. I figured that a good higher resolution would be nice to share, so with further ado.

Additional Diabetes Related News: I posted a while back about my recent diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. I recently saw the doctor and I had by blood levels checked out. When I was first diagnosed, my Hemoglobin A1C levels were 10.9, which is extremely bad. After a month of medication, exercise and dieting, I had it down to 9.9. Better, but still not good. The Hemoglobin A1C test is a reading of how your sugar levels have been for the past three months. The doctor tells me this is the "cheat" test, because a patient can't be good for a few days before the appointment and "cheat" a good reading on it.

It has now been four months since I was diagnosed. My latest reading was 6.1. A reading between 7 and 6 is ideal for a person with controlled diabetes. So I'm doing great! My diabetes doesn't control me, I control my diabetes. I've still got to focus on lossing more weight and exercising regularly, but I'm moving in the right direction. It looks like I'll have to talk the stewards into serving more salads ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Email Etiquette - The Do's

This post is a continuation of my previous post on Email Etiquette. The Do's and Don'ts outlined in these posts are not specifically Masonic and can be used in your personal life and in the workplace. However, effective communication is of the utmost importance within the Masonic Lodge and writing effective emails is extremely important in today's world. Therefore, it's vital that Masonic lodges not only adopt email as a form of communication, but adopt good email etiquette as an effective form of communication. Here are the Do's of Email Etiquette.

Email Etiquette - Do's!
  1. Do get to the point - The best email is a short email. Just remember KISS - Keep It Short and Simple. People do not want to search through lines and lines of babbling to get to what is important. When you're writing about an event, just include what, where, when, who and how. When writing a request, just include what you need, by when and from whom. Emails are not Masonic ritual, they do not need to be filled with flowery prose and esoteric meaning.
  2. Do spell-check and grammar-check - I don't enjoy reading letters written by ten-year olds, nor do I enjoy reading letters by grown men who write like ten-year olds. When writing emails to brothers, I try to hold to the "Reread it thrice" rule. Reread your email three times and you should catch most, if not all, errors and omissions. Computerized spell-checkers and grammar-checkers are a good tool, but are far from perfect. For example, Microsoft Word doesn't find anything wrong with this sentence "I can't believe there leaving they’re children their alone!"
  3. Do read it out loud before you send it - A sure fire way to find mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud or better yet, have someone else read it out loud to you.
  4. Do reply quickly if possible - One of the key benefits of email is that it is a method of rapid response. If you can, reply to your sender with what he is looking for. If your reply depends on something that will occur in the future, send a quick message saying when he will hear from you. Email is cheap and easy. Feel free to send little messages, just so that the recipient knows that you are paying attention.
  5. Do not send an email without a meaningful subject - When people have to process large numbers of email daily they typically need to decide quickly how they want to act on an email. Depending on what the reader is currently doing, he may want to fully read an email, save it for later, reply to it, archive it or delete it. By putting a descriptive subject in the email, you allow the reader to decide what should be done with the email quickly and easily. A descriptive subject should summarize the content of the email in as few words as possible. Here are some examples of good subjects.
    • RSVP for Blue Lodge Council Dinner
    • Officer Information regarding EA Degree
    • Potential Motion for Grand Lodge Semi-Annual
    • Photos from Family BBQ
    • Letter from Worshipful Master for newsletter
    Here are some examples of bad subjects
    • info
    • lodge
    • Re:

    • Update
    • This is that link
  6. Do specify who should respond - When sending an email to a group of individuals, be sure to specifically mention who should be responding to the email. This will reduce two potential problems. First, you're less likely to get bombarded with a huge number of un-needed responses. Second, you're more likely to receive a reply from the person who you want to hear from. For example, asking a question like "Can we have an Entered Apprentice degree next month?" is vague and un-specific. However, if this questions can be posed as "Bob, when will the hall be rented next month so we can see if an EA degree is possible?" or "John, will the candidate be interviewed prior to our meeting next month, so that we can hold an EA degree?". This is requesting specific information from specific people and will receive specific responses. Be specific!
  7. Do supply only one topic per post - One email should have one topic. Don't be afraid to send out several emails each with a different topic. This will help your brothers be able to sort through each topic and prioritize their actions. Don't mix minutes, announcements, event planning and the kitchen sink all into the same message.
  8. Do send your emails in plain text, unless you know the recipient can read html-encoded mail - More and more email clients now allow composing emails with colors, different fonts and images, however many email clients do not. So if you write an email using all sorts of funky formatting, the receiver may not be able to open it. Therefore, mass emails should be written using just plan text. Don't worry about the colors and the pretty pictures, let your content speak for itself.
  9. Do have a comprehensive signature - Signatures are bits of text that are put at the end of emails to supply the recipient with vital information about the sender. You can create a signature that holds important contact information about you, such as phone number, address, calendar link, website, etc. Furthermore, most email clients can have multiple signatures for specific contexts. Therefore, you can set up a "Masonic" signature that lists your lodge, it's address and it's website.
  10. Do use Email! - Email is cheap, fast and easy. It has become a critical avenue of world communication. Masonry can use email to communicate within as well as without the lodge. Email can be used for sending treatleboards, event announcements, personal messages, candidate information, dues reminders and countless other applications. Let email become one of the working tools of your profession!