eUMa A0p

Folks who live in Davis or work in Kendall: anyone for a morning pact?

Hi, my name is aliothsan and I am TERRIBLE at mornings. Are you also terrible at mornings and looking for someone to vent with and mutually help? Are you great at mornings and eager to have a disciple converting from the Order of the Night Owl?

I would like to enter a "morning pact" with someone, in which we promise to check in with each other circa 8:30-9am around Davis, or circa 9-9:30am around Kendall. Ideally, this would involve a physical meeting and maybe sharing a caffeine solution or snacks or whatever (could be brought from home, don't have to go to a coffeeshop every day). Exact times are negotiable, but I don't want to be getting in to work at 11am. Hell, if you wanna do tai chi in Powderhouse Park* together, that would be even more awesome. (I kinda don't want to do a phone pact, because I can make a phone call from bed.)

I desire this sort of regular daily accountability to a specific person. I can't really get it at my work, because I work in a small office and there's neither the need nor the time for anyone to have a standing morning meeting with me.

Anyway, let me know if you're interested. If I don't get a response among people I know, I'll open it up to the broader Davis Square LJ.

* I do not know tai chi
eUMa A0p

Self-control, the long view, and jobs

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.
eUMa A0p

Fall :D

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.
eUMa A0p

Review of

I recently ordered a Thinkpad x100e down arrow key from 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 If you go to, it redirects you to I have not done business with, 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.
eUMa A0p

Fuck houseflies

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.
eUMa A0p

Week in review

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".
eUMa A0p

Aaaalewiiiiiife Reservaaaaaaaation :D :D :D

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 turtles.)

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.
eUMa A0p

(no subject)

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.