Friday, October 17, 2014

Help me find the words to describe my idiocy

I tweeted this story when it happened, so it might be familiar to some of you.  Disclaimer: I do recognize the flaws in my thinking in this story and have learned from them. The purpose of this post is to figure out the words to describe the flaws in my thinking.

I was walking down the street, and I saw an Orthodox Jewish teen carrying a piece of plant matter, which looked very much like the palm leaves used on Palm Sunday in the Catholic church.

So I wondered, "What do they use palm leaves for in Orthodox Judaism?"

I walked on some more, and realized that line of thinking is racist.  Just because I believe I can identify this young man's religion based on his dress and grooming doesn't mean the object he's carrying has religious significance!  If I saw someone whose religion I didn't believe I could identify carrying a similar piece of plant matter, I'd think it's for a hobby or a science project.  It wouldn't occur to me that its significance would be religious unless it was actually Palm Sunday.

So I chastised myself for such racist thinking, and went home.

When I got home, I googled out of curiosity Orthodox Judaism palm leaves I discovered Sukkot, a Jewish holiday that involves palm leaves.  And Sukkot was actually in progress on the day that this happened!

Then I thought to myself, "So I wasn't actually racist!"

But, of course, my logic that the leaf must necessarily have religious significance because it was being carried by someone whose religion I could recognize was just as racist as ever. It just happened to land on a correct conclusion this one time.

So here's what I'm trying to figure out:

1. What logical fallacy did I commit by assuming the leaf had religious significance?
2. What logical fallacy did I commit by concluding that I wasn't actually racist just because my assumption ended up being correct this one time?
3. What word should I be using in this blog post instead of "racist"? "Anti-Semitic" doesn't seem correct, because there were nothing "anti" about it, and I'm not sure if "that person is Jewish, therefore I think they are in the process of practising Judaism" can quite be considered anti-Semitism. So what is the word for this particular flavour of idiocy?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What if we could quantify luck?

Wouldn't it be interesting if we could objectively measure and quantify luck, and you could know exactly how much good or bad luck was involved in a particular experience, and how much you've experienced over your life?

We can to a certain extent, of course, by looking at things like our demographics and circumstances of birth.  But that's far less interesting than if we could quantify day-to-day luck, as compared with other people in similar circumstances!

For example, I've blogged before about how much good luck was involved in my career path.  But others have insisted that this wasn't good luck, it's because I went to school and got good grades and worked hard.  (I feel like it's good luck because of the number of jobs I haven't gotten, and the number of people who did exactly what I did but didn't get jobs.)

It would be so interesting if we could objectively quantify how much luck played into this. We could get data like it was 80% luck and 20% virtue that got me my job, or that I was 130% luckier than the typical person in that particular instance but I'm only 80% as lucky as the typical person when averaged out over my lifetime, or that I got 47 Luck Points for that incident out of a total of 247 Luck Points accumulated over my lifetime.

If we could quantify luck, we could know who is the luckiest person in the world and the least lucky person in the world! Someone could actually prove mathematically that their new spouse did make them the luckiest person in the world when they agreed to get married!

We'd also know when people are having bad luck vs. bringing misfortune upon themselves through their own irresponsible behaviour.  There are some people in the world who think they're just woefully unlucky when in fact it's at least somewhat their fault, and there are people who don't recognize that others are in fact unlucky and think they just need to pull their socks up.  This would give people some objective perspectives in both directions.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Toronto Ward 22 Councillor candidates Sarfraz Khan, Bob Murphy and James O'Shaughnessy

Attention Sarfraz Khan, Bob Murphy, and James O'Shaughnessy:

I am a Ward 22 voter, and I don't feel I can vote for the position of councillor unless I know about more than one candidate's platform.

I haven't been able to find any of your platforms. They aren't listed on the City of Toronto Elections website, googleable, or findable on social media.

So please post your platform somewhere online, and inform the City of Toronto Elections people of its location so they can add it to their website.  If you create a twitter profile with a link to your platform, and put #topoli and #Ward 22 in the description, your electorate will find you. (Also, if you post it in the comments here, it will become googleable within a couple of days.)

By doing so, you'll be giving the people of Ward 22 an alternative to simply voting for the loudest person by default.

Friday, October 03, 2014

My municipal election voting dilemma

There are currently 4 candidates for city councillor in my ward: the incumbent and 3 challengers.

The incumbent has the expected online presence. But I can't find any trace of any of the 3 challengers.  I've googled with multiple combinations of keywords, I've searched social media, I've looked up possible matches on LinkedIn (multiple possibilities for each name, none of whom say they are running for city councillor).  Even the City of Toronto elections website that lists all the candidates for each ward doesn't have any contact information for them - not even an office phone number, just their name and ward number. None of the organizations and media outlets that send questionnaires to each candidate have gotten responses from any of the challengers (if they were in fact able to get in touch with the challengers).  None of the organizations that endorse candidates have endorsed in my ward.  I not only find no evidence of any of the challengers running a campaign, I find no evidence that anyone else has been able to get in touch with the challengers in their capacity as candidates.

If this situation persists, I'm left with a dilemma: should I vote for the incumbent, or for no one?

The incumbent's record is decent enough that I don't see a reason to try to unseat him, but it's quite plausible that there could be another candidate who aligns more closely with my views.  (There was in the last election.)  It's also quite plausible that none of the other candidates would align as closely with my views.  It all depends on what the other candidates' platforms are.

I don't think that simply showing up should be enough to win my vote.  Earlier in the race, the incumbent was the only council candidate for the ward.  I googled around the question of whether we'd still vote for councillor if there's only one candidate (wasn't able to find out conclusively), and decided during this process that I wouldn't vote for a candidate running unopposed.  I'd be okay with them winning, of course, but I wouldn't give them a vote just for being the only one there.

So, on one hand, I feel like I similarly shouldn't give a candidate my vote just for being the only one visible. But, on the other hand, they've clearly run the best campaign.  But, on the other other hand, what if they're not actually the best candidate?  But, on the other other other hand, how would I ever know?

Things They Should Study: why do people get themselves put on the ballot but not run a campaign?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books read in September 2014


1. Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb
2. North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea by Andrei Lankov
3. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden


1. Promises in Death
2. Kindred in Death
3. Missing in Death

Friday, September 26, 2014

Would it really be a bad thing if income tax disincentivized people from working more?

A piece of conventional wisdom I've been hearing ever since I was a child that higher marginal income tax rates for higher tax brackets are a problem because people would be disincentivized to work more and earn more money.

I question that notion because of the way tax brackets work (the higher tax rate is applied to the next dollar earned, not to the income as a whole, so your net salary never decreases when your gross salary increases) but today in the shower it occurred to me: if it was in fact a disincentive to working more, would that actually be a problem?

Suppose you're working a 40-hour workweek, but you feel like you'd earn enough working 30 hours and the extra 10 just aren't worth your while.  So you scale back to 30.

You know what that's called? Work-life balance!  Good for you!

But what if everyone did it?

If everyone scaled back their 40-hour work week to 30 hours because it just wasn't worth it to them to work any longer, then only 75% as much work would get done.  If there was demand for more work to be done, employers would have to hire more people.

Know what that's called? Job creation! Good for you!

I strongly doubt that higher income tax rates in higher tax brackets would have this kind of impact to any significant extent, because most people live a lifestyle that is commensurate with their income and aren't in a position to just go "Meh, I have enough, there's no point in earning any more."

But if they did, I don't think it would be a bad thing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why was Rob Ford able to kill Transit City unilaterally?

On his first day as mayor, Rob Ford came into work early and killed Transit City.

With all the other things that happened since then, I've forgotten how this happened and why it was possible.  I was under the impression that it needed to be voted on by Council, and googling around the idea I see lots of people saying that he shouldn't have been able to do it unilaterally and it should have been voted on by Council.

But he did it and, at the very least, set transit back a year until Council was able to reinstate it a year later.  Why was he able to do that?  Why did it take Council a year fix it?

I feel like I should understand this before I vote for the next mayor. Will the next mayor be able to do similar things unilaterally?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Typing is slow in Gmail

For the last couple of weeks, when I try to type a reply in Gmail, typing is really slow.  The letters are appearing at about half the speed at which I type, and every once in a while there's a "hiccup" so some of the letter I type don't appear.  I haven't changed anything about my browser (Firefox), and I've been using Gmail in this browser forever.

Googling around the idea, I see different people having the same problem with different browsers, which suggests it might be Gmail.

A workaround is to click on the "In new window" icon, which is a little arrow at the top right, next to the printer icon, above the "reply"  icon and the date".  Amateurish screenshot:

Nevertheless, this is less convenient, so I hope Gmail fixes this slow typing problem so we can once again reply on the same page.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rimmel Lash Accelerator Endless

My favourite mascara is Rimmel Lash Accelerator.  I needed a new tube recently, and when I looked in the store I was surprised to discover that, in addition to regular Rimmel Lash Accelerator, there was also a new mascara called Rimmel Lash Accelerator Endless.  Based on the information on the packaging, I couldn't tell the difference between the two. However, the Endless was on sale at a significant discount, so I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, it's not as good as the regular Rimmel Lash Accelerator.  It's about on par with that pink and green Maybelline mascara - perfectly serviceable, but not exceptional. 

If Rimmel Lash Accelerator works well for you and the pink and green Maybelline doesn't, I recommend sticking with the regular Rimmel Lash Accelerator and not going for the Endless.  (Although I have no idea if this approach would work in the reverse.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Things They Should Study: does street harassment by construction workers correlate with their working conditions?

From a blog post by Scott Adams that's otherwise irrelevant to what I'm writing about here:
For starters, I don't know any men who make creepy sexual remarks about women in public. Clearly such men exist. But if we are being objective, those men generally exist in the lower rungs of society's power ladder. It isn't the corporate lawyer doing the wolf whistles. It is usually the under-educated laborer who doesn't have an indoor job, or any job. The female victims in this scenario are, more often than not, among the more attractive humans on earth. Those are the ones that are (usually) attracting the most attention. And in our world, attractiveness is power.

In modern society, power comes from three sources: education, money, and attractiveness. People who have all three are at the top of the power pyramid. People who have any two of the three are next, and the people who have only one are the next level down. The unfortunate people who have no money, attractiveness, or education are at the bottom. So when a construction worker hassles an attractive woman on the street, it is often a case of a less powerful person bothering a more powerful person. You lose that nuance when you represent the situation as a men-versus-women problem. The reality is that the bad behavior is (mostly) limited to a small group of relatively powerless men. I would guess that less than 1% of men would be in that obnoxious category.

I don't know if I agree with his premise or not, but that's not relevant because this is simply a research idea.

I know enough people who have been street harassed by construction workers to know that this is a common thing.

But it has never happened to me and I have never actually seen it happen.  Construction workers most often disregard me, and, weirdly, when they do interact with me, they treat me like a lady. 

One thing I've noticed as I've watched my condo being built is that it's an extremely complex project - more complex than I thought was possible before I started observing a construction project up close.  There are a lot of task dependencies, there are a lot of safety measures, there are a lot of things that need to be done that don't directly produce the building.

For example, there's a guy who builds things out of wood.  He's there, every day, building stuff out of wood (safety railings, frames for pouring concrete, other things I can't recognize).  But the condo isn't made of wood.  All the things he builds are temporary and are taken apart eventually. 

There are these rubber safety caps on those pointy metal bars that sometimes go through concrete. Someone has to put those on, and take them off again when they're about to cover the ends of the pointy metal bars with more concrete.  And someone has to figure out how many safety caps they'll need and order them.

They repair the sidewalk in front of the construction site whenever they damage it (and they're awesomely diligent about snow clearance in the winter too!). They move the portapotty around the site depending on where they're working. They have trucks with cement and trucks with supplies and a crane and a concrete pump. When they're pouring concrete, they have to time their work around how much cement is in the cement trucks they have on-site and which parts of the site are still drying and the weather (the internet tells me the crane operator has to come down right away if there's a risk of lightning) and local noise by-laws and I'm sure other factors I'm completely unaware of.  And all of this has to happen in a very small, restricted area with existing highrise buildings directly next to the edge of the property.

In short, it's a far more complex and difficult than I would have expected - and, perhaps, far more complex and difficult than working on a smaller building, or a building in a less built-up area, or just putting on a roof or something rather than making a whole building.  I wonder if perhaps this means it requires more training, or is better compensated, or otherwise is seen as more prestigious?

The vast majority of the construction workers I encounter are either in my own neighbourhood working on similar highrise projects that are infilling the existing highrise neighbourhood, or are commuting on the subway. And if they're commuting on the subway, that means they're probably working near the subway, which means that their projects are either high-density projects similar to those in my neighbourhood, or they're working for homeowners or businesses who are wealthy enough to own low-density property on expensive transit-accessible land.  Which might also be well-compensated and/or more prestigious.

So if my theory about high-density projects being more difficult/well-compensated/prestigious is correct, and if Scott Adams's theory about street harassment being perpetrated by people who are lacking money/prestige/power is correct, the lack of street harassment from construction workers in my corner of the world would be explained by the fact that the construction being done in my area is more difficult and expensive.

That's a lot of ifs and a lot of theories, but nevertheless it would be an interesting thing to study.  Even if my theory is completely wrong, it may turn up some other interesting patterns.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The mystery of RN #61683 CA #23638

I recently tried a different style of Jockey underwear (updated my comparison post accordingly), and when I looked at the tag to see the style number I saw it said "CA #23638".  That number seemed familiar, so I checked my other underwear (in the other style) and it had the same number.  Okay, I figured it must be the other number on the tag that designates the style.  RN #61683 But when I looked at the other underwear, it also had the number.  These are the only numbers on the tags, and they're exactly the same on two different styles of panties made in three different countries!

So I went a-googling, and discovered people listing RN #61683 CA #23638 as the style number for all manner of Jockey products, from boxer briefs to t-shirts!

So what do these numbers mean?  Why bother printing them on the label if they apparently mean the same thing as "Jockey"?  And why isn't there a style number?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Levelling up my Twitter achievements

Eric Idle retweeted me! Screenshot:

The original link can be found here, but it's not as obvious from a direct link to the tweet itself that Eric Idle retweeted it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Books read in August 2014


1. Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle
2. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling)
3. The Unquiet (short story anthology) by Robb, Blaney, Gaffney, Ryan and McComas
4. The Corpse with the Golden Nose by Cathy Ace
5. Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb


1. Strangers in Death
2. Salvation in Death
3. Ritual in Death

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The pros and cons of having a system

The other day, I had a day where I felt like I got nothing done.  I kept falling down the internet rabbit hole and getting caught up in gaming and dawdling and procrastinating, and shit just didn't get done.  (Yes, I realize the irony of blogging this not long after a post about how I get shit done.)

As it happened, as part of the internet rabbit hole I fell into, I read no more zero days.  And I realized that, despite feeling like I hadn't gotten anything done, it wasn't a zero day.  I'd done a bit of yoga, showered and done my scheduled beauty routine, read two newspapers, flipped my mattress, taken care of a couple of minor errands, and prepared myself a hot dinner that happened to be reasonably healthy (and ate an assortment of other food that  didn't require preparation, much of which also happened to be reasonably healthy).  Oh, and I worked a full eight-hour workday where I exceeded my quota and promptly responded to all my emails.  Definitely not a zero day!

So why did it feel like I got nothing done?

At the root of all this is my last period of unemployment. I woke up one morning realizing I was teetering on the brink of depression.  My job search thus far had been disheartening, I didn't know how long this period of unemployment would last for, I didn't have the fact of being in school to fall back upon as I had in other periods of unemployment, and I knew that I could very easily fall into despair or inadvertently become fully nocturnal or waste days and days playing computer games without achieving anything.

So I made a system.  I had to spend certain amounts of time each day on certain tasks, or do certain tasks until they got done and/or I accomplished a certain amount.  Many of the tasks were related to my job search, but others were things like exercising, cooking, reading newspapers, reading books, blogging - things that are objectively productive and that I either want to do or I like the idea of being a person who does. (e.g. I don't actually like exercising, but when I tried to think of all the things that an ideal person does, it was on the list.)   Then, once I finished every daily task in my system, I was fully entitled to veg out and game and internet and indulge in all the other sloth I'm naturally inclined towards.

But, in a plot twist that led me to stop and check that this is in fact real life, as I was lying in bed that morning inventing my system, I was interrupted by a phone call offering me my current job!  But I went with the system anyway, adapting it to employment rather than job search, and I've been using it (with some tweaks) ever since.

But, because the system was originally designed for unemployment, it's rather ambitious for a workday. I don't always finish everything, and if I get dawdley I only finish a small fraction.

So the advantage of having a system is that I don't have zero days.  I just mindlessly work  through the system.

But the disadvantage of having a system is that sometimes perfectly adequate days feel like a zero day, because I haven't completed the whole system.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weird Al

From a New Yorker profile of Weird Al:
With his parodic versions of hit songs, this somehow ageless fifty-four-year-old has become popular not because he is immensely clever—though he can be—but because he embodies how many people feel when confronted with pop music: slightly too old and slightly too square. That feeling never goes away, and neither has Al, who has sold more than twelve million albums since 1979.
Anxiety starts early for pop audiences. For decades, I have had twenty-somethings tell me that they don’t know what’s on the charts, haven’t listened to any new artists since college, and don’t “know anything about music.” They feel confused by how quickly the value of their knowledge of what’s current fades. Weird Al’s songwriting process, almost without exception, is to confront that anxiety and to celebrate it. Yankovic will take a mysterious and masterful song and turn it into something mundane and universal. He makes the grand aspirational concerns of teen-agers in Lorde’s “Royals” into a story that includes a lesson about the hygienic advantage of taking food home in aluminum foil. (You’ll see the rhyme there.) Charli XCX’s boast of being “classic, expensive, you don’t get to touch,” in Azalea’s “Fancy,” becomes an ad for a handyman who can resurface your patio in Yankovic’s “Handy.”
The opening lyrics of “Smells Like Nirvana,” Yankovic’s 1992 version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” are as close to a mission statement as he has: “What is this song all about? Can’t figure any lyrics out. How do the words to it go? I wish you’d tell me, I don’t know.” Weird Al has been cool for so long because pop makes everybody feel uncool; that he is the only one to admit it has made him a pop star.
If I'd seen this theory written about anyone or anything else I'd assume it's bullshit, but that's actually an accurate description of how my Weird Al fandom began, with Smell Like Nirvana.

I was 10 years old when Smells Like Teen Spirit was released and 11 years old when Smells Like Nirvana was released.  I was attending a middle school at the time (Grades 6-8) so I was surrounded by people who were into teen pop culture, but I wasn't quite ready for it myself.  I had absorbed the message from the adults around me that being into teen pop culture was Bad, it was giving in to Peer Pressure, and I wanted to prove to them that I'm Better Than That.

But, at the same time, it was problematic on a social-survival level to be completely unfamiliar with teen pop culture.  You couldn't just walk around having never heard of stuff.

Weird Al provided the perfect solution.  With Smells Like Nirvana, I could be familiar with Nirvana and enjoy how the music rocks without claiming to be a fan.  In fact, I was mocking it - surely something that could be used to demonstrate I'm Better Than That when necessary! But, at the same time, enjoying parody certainly suggests enough familiarity with the original, so I didn't come across as never having heard of stuff. Weird Al allowed me to save face without having to commit to anything (in the bizarre preteen landscape where such things demanded commitment.)

In the years that followed, I would grow into pop culture, and then into the ability to take it or leave it as I pleased, without regard for the opinions of peers and grownups.  But in those few awkward years when I was still muddling through and wasn't quite ready for the pop culture environment inhabited by my peers, Weird Al helped ease the transition for my awkward preteen self.  And, because of that, he will always have a place in my adult self's ipod.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What do you do if someone decides to Talk To you?

With Robin Williams's death in the news, we're seeing a reinvigoration of the notion that if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, you should talk to someone, tell someone.

But what do you do if you're the someone the depressed or suicidal person chooses to talk to?

I totally understand that it's a big deal for the person to work up the nerve to Talk To you, and based on the combination of their impaired state and the cultural/media representation of the importance of Talking To Someone, they'd totally expect the act of Talking To you to trigger the solution.

But I genuinely have no idea what the next step is.  Get Them Help?  How?  I never learned this stuff. They issued my grownup card just because I can translate well and pay my rent on time.  I don't know how to solve real problems.

They really should publicize this information!  If they're going to tell people to Talk To Someone, they also need to tell all the Someones out there what the next couple of steps are!


This also reminds me of when I was a kid, they'd tell you that if you ever find a needle (drug needle, not sewing needle) in the street or the playground, you should tell a grownup.  Fair enough.  But when I got my grownup card, they never told me what to do if someone finds a needle.  I seriously have no idea.


Also, what are you supposed to do when someone comes out to you?  My emotional response is "duly noted" (and perhaps reconsidering any romantic pursuit strategy, as applicable), but what kind of response is actually useful?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Normally when someone commits suicide and the people left behind say "He had so much to live for," they mean normal regular everyday people stuff.  He wasn't a total fuck-up and had a moderate amount of success or potential in one or two areas of life and maybe a handful of people who truly loved him and another couple dozen who'd miss him when he's gone.

I'm not going to presume to rule on how much another person does or doesn't have to live for, but what's kind of mindblowing about Robin Williams is he was at a point in his life where he could do whatever he wanted. His status as one of the greats was established and he was, literally, beloved by millions.  He could produce crap for the rest of his career. (Apparently he did produce some crap recently. No one remembers it, and his status as a great is intact.) He could produce nothing ever again. He'd still be one of the greats and beloved by millions.  I'm not even a fan of his (I'm not not a fan, but I've never sought out his work. I've enjoyed my fair share of it, but I've never sought it out.) and, even if he hadn't just died, it wouldn't even occur to me to question his place in the pantheon.

If he'd cheated on his wife or relapsed back into drug use or engaged in various Rob Ford-style antics, the general public would say "Meh, Hollywood. It happens." His place in the pantheon would still be secure.  

If he'd been hard up for money, he could have thrown together a standup tour (it wouldn't even have to be good to make him enough money - then, if necessary, he could made a good tour and have a comeback in a few years) or had his agent call up Disney or Pixar and ask if they wanted Robin Williams to voice the wacky comic relief character in their next movie. He could have made a guest appearance on a sitcom or Whose Line and earned enough to keep body and soul together.  If he'd written a book (or had one ghost-written), people would have bought it. If he'd made a movie, people would have gone to see it. If he'd appeared in a Broadway musical or run for public office or joined Cirque du Soleil, people would tune in to see what happens, and a good number of them would be cheering for him.

People would, quite literally, pay him good money to simply be himself in their presence or on cue. He had secured the love of more people than he could possibly imagine (some of whom, I'm sure, actually cared about him as a person even if the feeling was unrequited) and the respect of exponentially more.  He had more leeway and flexibility and options than most of us can even dream of.

And still, the poor man couldn't find peace.

I hope he's free.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Things They Should Invent Words For: "I don't actually think it's a conspiracy, but it looks exactly like one"

I have contacted Rob Ford in my capacity as a citizen and his capacity as mayor, and not only did he not address the issues I raised, he did the exact opposite.  When, for example, I urged him to save a planned program that was at risk - even presenting my position in his preferred idiom of tax dollars, quantifying the cost to myself monetarily and demonstrating how the cost to me is more than I pay the city in taxes - he cancelled the program in question at literally the first available opportunity.

I am not under the impression that Rob Ford is out to get me.  I know full well that a simple person like me can't possibly be of interest to someone with wealth and influence and a complex life like Rob Ford. However, if Rob Ford did receive my message and said "I want to hurt this lady.  How can I use the information provided here to hurt her as much as possible?", the outcome would have been exactly what it actually was in reality.

They need to invent a word for this concept - when you genuinely don't think it's a conspiracy, but if it were a conspiracy the outcome would be exactly the same as it was in real life.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Why working from home makes me blog less

I have an excellent productivity system when I'm working at home: after producing a certain quantity of work (the quantity depends on the nature of the work) I take a break.  I use these breaks to do things on my non-work to-do list for the day, like reading the newspaper or cleaning the bathtub or putting on makeup. Because the things I do in my break are closed-ended (e.g. I read the newspaper until I'm done reading the newspaper, and I know I'm done because there are no more pages of newspaper) I don't end up procrastinating.  I do my designated quantity of work, I do my defined break task, and then I go straight back to the next designated quantity of work so I can get to my next break.

I respond really well to quantitative objectives tied to rewards like that (i.e. "When you finish X you get to Y"), so I most often stay absolutely on task, briskly and efficiently knocking off my work to-do list and my personal to-do list with no stress.

But, as you've probably noticed, it affects my blogging.

When I was working in the office, I couldn't take productive breaks like that, so I often found myself at my computer trying to get myself to focus again. I'd allow myself a break, but I'd fall down an internet rabbit hole and read something and think of ideas and then my mind would be spinning through all these ideas and they'd produce blog entries.  I'd be trying to buckle down and get myself back to work, but the ideas would just keep spinning through my head so I'd end up having to write them down to copy into my blog when I get home, just to get them out of my head so I'd have room for my work.

Now that I'm working at home and I can effortlessly stay focused and on task, these ideas are no longer in the way.  They're still present (often in the form of bookmarks in my "to blog" folder and half-written notes to self in my blogger drafts), but they sit quietly in the background while I'm working rather than getting in the way and forcing me to get them out of my brain when I really should be doing something else.