That post describes a series of studies showing the influence of "high-level, abstract, and/or forest-rather-than-trees" thinking on the willpower of participants. One of the studies went like this: You hold a grip exerciser as long as you can, to establish your baseline strength. Then you either write about how
you maintain your good health ("exercise"), or why
you maintain your good health ("to do well in college"). Then you hold the grip exerciser again, as long as you can. And if you were in the "why" condition, you probably hold it longer. There were variants. It's interesting reading, and fairly short.
Though this is only a few studies, the suggestions for increasing your self-control by exercising long-range thinking and keeping goals in mind... they make a lot of sense. It also makes sense that I should have trouble with that, because I am so very
fond of turning my brain off and meticulously executing routines and just being generally detail-oriented.[*]
Then it occurs to me that I'm deliberately seeking jobs that are good for detail-oriented, meticulous people (QA). And I wonder, is that just going to make me worse
? Should I be seeking jobs that will challenge me and push me in the opposite direction?
(I suppose the answer is going to be "both; strive for balance". It usually is.)
[*] Not that this is the only reason I suspect I have trouble with self-control. I also have the problem where, as a child, I was pretty much always rewarded for Being Smart and never for Working Hard. FTR, I don't blame my parents or any individual teachers for this. It seems like a systemic problem in the whole realm of Gifted & Talented Education.
It was chilly outside when I went grocery shopping this evening! Gave me some surprising flashbacks to last fall...
mmm, fally fally fall. Time to turn inward. Time for MORE HOT BEVERAGES. Time to wish I weren't too commitment-phobic to crochet an entire blanket.
I recently ordered a Thinkpad x100e down arrow key from ReplacementLaptopKeys.com. It cost about nine bucks including shipping, which is pretty exorbitant for one key, but so it goes when you buy one tiny little item -- a significant fraction of that was shipping, which it looks like they'll combine if you're ordering multiple individual keys. (Obviously the per-key price goes way down if you order a whole replacement keyboard, but that's not what I needed or wanted.)
The website is easy to use -- you choose your laptop make & model, and then it takes you to a page where there's a pictorial guide to telling which of a small number of manufacturers made your keyboard, so you can pick the same one to get your replacement key. This was all easy to use.
It took about a week to arrive. It arrived in a regular postal envelope. The keycap, the plastic clip thingy, and the little springy rubber cup were all folded up in what looked like part of a paper towel, which was taped to the invoice. I raised an eyebrow. Then again, you really don't need a padded envelope for something this small and flat. So, good on them for not wasting materials, I suppose.
The key installed easily and worked fine.
Conclusion: sure, these folks are fine, and not sketchy junk vendors.
NOTE: This review is of ReplacementLaptopKeyS.com. If you go to ReplacementLaptopKey.com, it redirects you to LaptopKey.com. I have not done business with LaptopKey.com, but it looks like they're pretty much the same -- and their "how to remove and reinstall keys" videos are better and easier to find by random googling.
First it was grain moths. Then it was fruit flies. Then it was houseflies.
I don't know why the houseflies are bothering me so much more than the other two. Maybe it's that they're bigger. Maybe I've just forgotten how much the other two bothered me. Maybe it's that it is highly nonobvious where the heck the houseflies are coming from. Maybe it's that I went to a lot of effort to kill almost all the ones I could find yesterday (there were dozens, and they almost exclusively hung out in the kitchen), and I come home today after work and there are dozens again, like goddamn deja vu.
Houseflies are attracted to light, so one thing that works is to take a clamp light and point it at a strip of flypaper that is placed up against a wall (to reduce the mean free path in the lit volume). You're welcome. (A variant, if the fly-infested area is close to an exterior door, is to take a flashlight and Pied-Piper them out.)
Oh and also I'm sick again. COMPLAIN.
Well, I started last week by not doing a week-in-review of the previous week.
Then I got allllllll ready to go on another Bike Adventure to Central Mass -- I even made food for the potluck -- but due to poor planning, I went to bed at 2am for a 6am wake-up, and I just couldn't make myself do it. I have this awful pattern of psyching myself out of things I want to do. It's less "I don't deserve fun" and more "finding excuses to be lazy". Something to keep an eye out for -- also, plan to get enough sleep!
I continued by not going in to work on Monday and Tuesday. The seductive power of couches and the internet follows me everywhere. I did get a little bit of work done. In theory I can do almost all of my work remotely, but in practice I'm not productive unless I go in to the office.
Made it in on Wednesday because we were having a meeting, and I was actually reasonably productive for the rest of the week, peaking on Friday with a meeting in which I received several small action items. Have I mentioned how much I love having several small things to do instead of one big thing to do? But this isn't really something I can manipulate on a day-to-day basis. "Break large tasks down into chunks" is a mainstay of time-management and goal-setting articles. I'm starting to think that I should be making a Very Deliberate Practice of breaking down big things even when I don't feel like I need to. (Also, it feels artificial when the breakdown is going to be like "Read section 1. Read section 2. Read section 3..." But why does this bother me? Of course it's artificial!)
Goals for this week: Go to work every day. Do not plan anything for this weekend (I really need an uneventful couple of days). And.... I don't know. I feel like I should have something else here; maybe I'll think of a good "productivity" goal later, but right now my brain is on "10 BLAHHHHH; 20 GOTO 10".
I went on a Wildlife Walk with naturalist Dave Brown today, sponsored by Friends of Alewife Reservation. It is really a remarkable little snippet of genuine wild wetland -- some parts of it are more parklike, with paved paths, but much of it is entirely undeveloped, and impassable with brush. (Which is gorgeous, full of flowers, etc.)
WE SAW A TURTLE. *squee* I think he said it was an Eastern Painted Turtle. It was maybe four inches long? (That is, of course, not the only thing we saw. He pointed out a number of birds, and animal tracks / other signs, and plant species... I learned a lot. Wow. But the turtle was naturally the most exciting, because c'mon, turtles
. I like
I spent the whole time kicking myself that I hadn't been able to find my camera. (Turns out I never unpacked it from that last bike trip that I packed for and then failed to actually go on...)
Anyway, I plan on going back there a bunch more, just to walk around and look at things, and hopefully take pictures this time.
Also, all you Boscambervillington dwellers should subscribe to their mailing list. It gets like one post every couple of weeks. Subscription link at top of this page
I can definitely feel myself getting better at biking -- less tired, using higher gears more often. The last time I bike-commuted frequently was when I lived at ET, and that was an irregular 15 minute ride. My current commute is much more regular and it's a half hour... or at least it used to be. When there's negligible traffic, I frequently beat that time by a few minutes, or so it seems, though I still allot half an hour in case of traffic or unpredictable tiredness.
The one annoying thing is that this seems to interact poorly with my "get to work earlier" plans. Because wow, when I bike on Beacon/Hampshire Street at rush hour... wow. So many slower cyclists, so many cars preventing safe opportunities to pass.
It occurs to me that something I usually like about biking is that there are usually very few other road users in my category out and about -- something I enjoy about walking and driving, too, when it's true. Not so much true when commuting at commute hour. I guess I should start taking recreational rides more often.
I've had this big ol' tasks hanging over my head at work for weeks and I finally sacked up and did the first half of it, and now the second half is looking way less scary.
The Ugh Field surrounding this task was mostly built up of "wah, it's already overdue, I can't even stand to think about how overdue it is, I am ashamed and I suck, and when I turn it in the recipient will totally be disappointed and excoriate me for taking so long". Which, okay. The delay is a problem, but it's not the damn end of the world, and the recipient may be quite annoyed at me taking so long for no good reason, but goddamn it, my group is doing them a favor by doing this task at all, and I'm doing a damn good job on it.
Because of this (sending an email and not getting immediately chewed out for tardiness), it is perhaps unsurprising that the Ugh Field surrounding the second half of the task just suddenly shrank by a lot.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming :)
Somehow, despite being pretty depressed over the last couple of weeks, I managed to fall into a doing-things frenzy this evening. Work! Emails! Scheduling things! Dealing with accumulated mail! Watering plants! Etc etc. (This does not match up with symptoms of bipolar, at least not to the point of needing treatment; I've never had a manic episode that was actually a problem.) Anyway, I want to try journaling more, because as helpful as it is to discuss my issues with public zephyr sometimes, that's not the right venue for everything.
Most of the depression talk beyond the superficial will be filtered; if you DON'T want to see it, let me know and I will take that into account (and in no way think less of you).
Also want to establish good routines. Because yay good habits and because if I make them routine, then eventually I won't have to spend willpower points deciding to do them every time, and in theory I'll have more left over for forcing myself to do work, hmm? :) I've been told (and to some extent discovered myself) that part of adopting a habit or routine is pre-deciding what is to be done if it fails in various likely ways.
I love you all. :)
I have had strep throat and two colds in quick succession. I've been sick for most of the month. This sucks and is sad.
To cheer everyone up, and because sometimes I get cold, I invite you to suggest ideas for nerdy crochet blankets! Here are some to start with:
- granny square pixel art (fun patterns? minecraft? something?)
- periodic table
- something with hexagonal tiling?
- giant electrophoresis gel
- fibonacci spiral with accumulating larger and larger squares thing
- SOMETHING involving turtles. I don't want to just do hundreds of iterations of That Turtle Square
- square Sierpinski gasket
Members of something like thirty choirs packed Kresge Auditorium last night to sing the Brahms Requiem.
It was quickly but beautifully thrown together: lighting and A/V equipment, soloists, brilliant pair of pianists, four or five different conductors, and enough singers to nearly fill the lower/main level of Kresge audience seating (no way
they were getting us all on stage). Paraphrasing Leonard Bernstein: our response to violence shall be to make more music louder and better than before.
May the fallen find their way to the place of their ancestors. May the wounded be healed.
This sort of fellowship strikes me as exactly the right thing to do in the face of senseless violence (and, according to Bill Cutter, almost exactly the same thing happened shortly after 9/11 in NYC). More importantly, though, the best thing we can do is to strengthen
our communities and the links between them. If you feel called to act, donate to The One Boston Fund, bake cookies for your roommates, give blood, write to your representatives, resolve to get First Aid or even EMT training -- but meet your neighbors too. Find someone(s) outside your usual social circles and get to know them. I will be singing with some of these people again this summer, assuming logistics work out (Harvard Summer Chorus).
The blood of Boston's genius loci is as much in friendships as it is in the waters of the Charles and the Mystic, the rails and electric lines of the MBTA, the games of the Red Sox, or the dust of illustrious history.
[reposted from Facebook with modifications]
There are one or two really horribly racist/classist things that I remember saying on this journal, but I can't find them to edit them out. I suppose that's just as well, though, since anyone who bothers to backread years of posts (not likely) will see that I used to be worse at kyriarchal shit and that now I'm trying to suck less. It's a process. Just today I said a pretty ableist and victim-blaming thing and didn't even realize it until called out by two people in quick succession. Alas. Remember the mistake, figure out why it was made, apologize, try to do better, educate self, don't kick self unnecessarily.
Be it resolved, in the congress of my five wits and my billion-odd brain cells assembled, that:
1. Running is better than optimized.
2. Done is better than perfect.
I was outside around sunrise this morning and two corvids (I think) flew over me at one point. They were both largish (much bigger than a jay) and black, and made calls that sounded like generic cawing to my uneducated ears. Based on preliminary googling, I suppose they were either American Crow or Common Raven (I'm in SFBA at the moment). Alas, I saw them through thick foliage and far too briefly to photograph.
One of these days I'm going to learn some birds. But I'll probably learn some trees first. They're easier to spot :)
So, religiously, I'm somewhere between atheist, Pagan, and "whatever dude just give me some rituals and songs". But lately I've been making rather a meal of Christmas, and it's not for the family togetherness -- it's for the religious themes and the music. I was amused to note, as I was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade earlier, that my internal monologue of "fuck your secularized consumerism and give me Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band singing about Jesus" probably sounded a lot like the Jesus Is The Reason For The Season Fight Back Against The War On Christmas people.
I find beauty and value in the story and teachings of Jesus, even though I disagree strongly with things like the concept of original sin or the existence of a heavenly afterlife / immortal souls. Partly, this is because it's a good story, and I have the privilege of not having been traumatized by a strict Christian upbringing. Partly, this is because Christianity dominates classical choral music, and so I've spent a lot of time forcing my intellectual belief into a separate compartment from my ability to sing expressively about something and to appreciate the resulting beauty. And partly, this is because there is real beauty and value to be found! I find it very telling that when God chose to LARP[*], he incarnated into poverty, and the resulting public-policy recommendations were along the lines of camels through the eyes of needles.
Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies
Sleep, my dear; thy food and raiment,
Home and hearth thy friends provide;
All without thy care or payment,
All thy wants are well supplied.
How much better thou art tended
Than the Son of God could be,
When from heaven he descended
And became a child like thee!
To-day he makes his entrance here
But not as monarchs do.
[*] Alas, this phrasing is geofft's, not mine.
Ugh, I keep thinking about this one post I made years ago in which I made some incredibly disgustingly privileged offhand comment about poverty. And now I can't find that post to delete it. *sigh*
Oh well, personal growth or something.
I haven't written anything on here in almost a year. Wow.
Just putting this out there because I seem to be meeting a lot of new people who have LJ accounts. Hi there.