12 We put up our Christmas tree. We listened to The Four Tops, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and other favorite holiday CDs while doing so.

The one thing they all had in common? “The Little Drummer Boy.” I hate that song. I think I first hated it in elementary school chorus, and I think it’s responsible for a lot of the bad feeling surrounding Christmas music in general.

#2 son works in a place where they play the top 40 Christmas music, and he can expect to hear “Little Drummer Boy” ten times a shift. He says that everyone has recorded it. He’s right. Why? It has maudlin words and a boring tune.

If there were going to be some Christmas song that everyone had to listen to continually, why shouldn’t it be “Quelle est cette odeur agreeable,” or “What Sweeter Music”?  Possibly, it’s the fact that “The Little Drummer 12 Boy,” though tedious, is easy to hum.

Here’s an alternative: “Children, Go Where I Send Thee.” I’d forgotten that song till I heard The Blind Boys singing it. It’s not that much of a song, but it’s fun and easy to sing, and lots of people have recorded it, including Natalie Merchant and Michael McDonald.

So we have our tree up, and I have four kinds of cookies in the freezer now. It’s possible that today I’ll finish my shopping and organize the Christmas Eve meal.

Only possible, though, since I am experiencing a slight end-of-term panic. I’m returning to the web design class this afternoon, and I have the encyclopedia article deadline and a whole crowd of cool and interesting writing assignments, and at the same time I have to get papers graded and grades submitted and — here’s the bad part — a portfolio created. I am a 21st century educator, and I run an essentially paperless classroom. Hands-on teaching, online grading, and you know I loathe PowerPoint. So where am I to get things for a portfolio? I’ll have to make them up, and I only have one day of classes left — tomorrow — so there’s not a whole lot of faking time available. I guess the students won’t care if I suddenly give them a passel of handouts, but 12 I will have to write them.

Perhaps I can post them to my educational blog.

I ran into this website yesterday: Nozbe. It’s a GTD site, and I can’t yet tell you how well it works, but it might be handy. You can set up projects there, and to-do lists for each project, and you can sort them by where they need to be done (context, in GTD-speak), and then I believe it will present you with your Next Steps when you go there.

The free version allows only five projects. Initially, this seemed like an issue to me. However, I think that having only five projects allowed forces you to prioritize. So, yesterday, with my list of fifteen projects creating the aforementioned slight panic, I had to identify the five that were the most urgent.

And what’s five projects? 12

One of my projects — my Amazon reviews — involved checking out the Brother P Touch, a label maker that you can hook up to your computer.

I labeled the file folders for my new projects (yes, I strive for a paperless office, too,  but most projects end up creating at least a couple of pages). Then I noticed that the machine-labeled folders were easier to find than the hand-labeled ones. So, to practice using the machine and try out all its features, I went ahead and made new labels for all the folders.

It is indeed faster to find the right folder when they’re labeled like this. Who’d have thought it? If you work in an office where other people see your files, it might also improve your image, since you end up with a nice, consistent look. Not that I did that, because I was playing around with all the fonts.

12 I tried it in the kitchen, too, where I did at least use the same font.

I believe in labeling stuff in the kitchen. I buy stuff in bulk whenever possible, and with the least packaging possible when I can’t get it in bulk. This is good for the environment.

Then I bring the stuff home and put it into jars. So there I am with jars of baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, powdered sugar, gluten, and five kinds of flour. These things aren’t interchangeable.

So it makes sense to label them.

Before P Touch, I had some things hand-labeled 11 and some things not labeled.

Theoretically, I could go through my kitchen and relabel everything for a highly consistent look.

I’m not sure that I like the machine labels in the kitchen, though. They are less picturesque than the hand labels. They are small, which could matter on high shelves.

However, they’re also laminated and won’t smear.

I’m betting that the time I spent relabeling my active files is all the time I’ll be spending on this project, at least until my project list gets some crossing-off. But I will be using the P Touch for future labels, so in time I’ll end up with a consistent look.

My kids also helped me think of other highly-useful things to do with this little machine: label the cables and cords so you know which one goes to what, a huge help when you need to unplug something, label your music and choir folder and all that, and identify your lunch in the company refrigerator so others won’t eat it (we use reusable containers).

The other thing I still need to review is the novel Nuclear Jellyfish, so naturally I had to spend some time ensconced on the love seat (in the top picture) reading the book and drinking tea. I won’t deny that there was a cookie or two involved, as well.

So now I’ll go see what Nozbe and my newly relabeled file drawer can do to streamline my work and help me complete my projects.