Monthly Archives: June 2010

Concentrate better by doing two simple things

I’m still re-learning to concentrate, but here’s a couple hacks I’ve picked up that have helped enormously, when it comes to writing and computers.

The best way to concentrate when writing is probably still to use paper and pen.  I don’t know how many folks out there still write that way.  There is an admirable purity to it.  It’s also inefficient as hell, because every word you’ve written out by hand has to eventually be manually typed.  If I could afford a typist (are there still typists?), I’d hire one; as it is I’ve spent hours and hours, days and days, simply retyping what I wrote on paper.  I filled 20 notebooks of 150 pages each with my barely legible handwriting.  That’s a lot of retyping.  To say nothing of how much slower you have to write when writing by hand in the first place.

By some slow evolution, I’ve more and more taken to writing on the computer.  Which comes with endless possibilities for distraction.   You can’t resist all those temptations with willpower alone.  At least I can’t.  So help yourself out.  Here’s how I do it.  (Note: these tips are for Windows.  I’m sure the equivalents exist for Apple but I haven’t used one of those since my high school newspaper days.)

1) Auto-hide the taskbar.  Right-click the task bar –> Properties –> Auto-hide the taskbar.

Easy.

If you’re like me, you’ve constantly got about 73 items open on your taskbar, each of which beg for attention every time your eyeballs stray to one.  This little step eliminates that temptation; you have to drag the mouse down to the bottom of the screen to get the little buggers to pop up again.  Just having to do that is often enough to stop me from doing so.

Before:

After:

Isn't that better?

2) Use NotePad instead of Word.  Even if you Minimize the Ribbon in Word, it still has all kinds of distracting doodads.  So I just use WordPad.  It’s not a good editing tool, but it’s easy enough to copy and paste into Word when you get to there.  With WordPad, it’s just you and the white space. Which is all there should be, really.

Terrible.

Better.

Best.

Now this inspires confidence

Goshen County, my little corner of Wyoming (aka, the Banana Belt, for reasons I’ll get to one of these times) has evidently become a oil-prospecting hotspot.  Intrepid entrepeneurs are casing the county for sweet, sweet crude, hoping to use techniques perfected … offshore? From the Torrington Telegram:

The next gulf?

They’re showing up in droves at the Goshen County Courthouse.

Prospectors are scanning, analyzing and hoping to uncover plots of land riddled with minerals …

Justin Davis, title manager at Powell Title and Escrow in Torrington, said an unusually active oil well in Weld County, Colo. in Feb. 2010 sparked the interest of oil companies and investors in northern Colorado and eastern Wyoming.

“Several companies have been very successful in northeast Colorado by drilling vertically into shale, then horizontally into the length of (the formation) 3,000 to 5,000 feet,” Tom Doll, supervisor for the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said.

Horizontal drilling was developed in offshore drilling and has recently been adapted to suit land-bound oil wells.

If anything, the spill in the gulf makes a push for land-based oil exploration more attractive.   To the drillers, I mean.  I guess we can hope that the billions the federal government is going to extract from BP will inspire the oil companies to do a better job the next time around.  Can’t say that makes me especially confident.

See, this is what’s wrong with soccer

The caption reads: Ghana’s defender John Paintsil, right, and Ghana’s midfielder Andre Ayew, celebrate after Ghana’s loss to Germany.

They lost, and yet they get to run around the field in triumph.  I just can’t get into that.  This is what you’re supposed to look like after you lose:

The guy sitting on the ground crying lost.

As I type this, I see that Ghana just beat the US 2-1.  Now they’ve got something to celebrate.   Good on ’em, and I hope they party till their faces fall off.  Hopefully they’ve liberated my favorite sports sites from soccer tyranny, extended the life of my mouse by avoiding a lot of clicking away, and we can all go back to parsing the pre-preseason college football rankings with maybe an occasional dash of tennis thrown in.

See, this is what's wrong with soccer

The caption reads: Ghana’s defender John Paintsil, right, and Ghana’s midfielder Andre Ayew, celebrate after Ghana’s loss to Germany.

They lost, and yet they get to run around the field in triumph.  I just can’t get into that.  This is what you’re supposed to look like after you lose:

The guy sitting on the ground crying lost.

As I type this, I see that Ghana just beat the US 2-1.  Now they’ve got something to celebrate.   Good on ’em, and I hope they party till their faces fall off.  Hopefully they’ve liberated my favorite sports sites from soccer tyranny, extended the life of my mouse by avoiding a lot of clicking away, and we can all go back to parsing the pre-preseason college football rankings with maybe an occasional dash of tennis thrown in.

Another theory exploded

After a period of rational, thoughtful reflection while yet parents-in-waiting, we decided there would be no need to use corporal punishment on the scionness.  The theory being, calm explanation and consistently enforced rules would obviate the need for physical chastisement.

The potential eye-poker.

Until the scionness, seventeen times in a row, picks up the pruning shears and sprints across the lawn with them, so that you have to chase her down before eyeballs are poked out, or worse.  And on the sixteenth time, you administer a swat to get your point across.  Which doesn’t take, because there is a seventeenth time, and you do it again.  Which does the trick.

Today the scionness, both eyeballs intact, doesn’t remember.  And I’m wondering how many of my other wise reasonings upon the nature of parenthood will soon be ground to dust beneath little tiny tyrannical toddler and teenager feet.  At a guess: all of them.

And it makes me smile.  Please don’t tell her this till she’s 18, but I don’t want the scionness unquestioningly accepting anyone’s authority.  Even mine.

What it is to be ruled

“To be ruled is to be kept an eye on, inspected, spied on, regulated, indoctrinated, sermonized, listed and checked off, estimated, appraised, censured, ordered about … To be ruled is at every operation, transaction, movement, to be noted, registered, counted, priced, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected.”

– Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Bloomsday

Would-be Leopold Blooms.

It’s Bloomsday again.  The spectacle on the right doesn’t look like much more fun than any other crushing mass of Mardi Gras-style humanity, with the possible allowance that you might be able to elbow your way to the bar in a good pub somewhere along the way.

If I ever happen to find myself in Dublin on this day maybe I”ll go along for the ride.  I suppose before then I ought to read Ulysses.  I’ve been defeated twice so far, and it could well be years before I take up the ole reading sword and dash into the nigh-impenetrable thickets again.  The last time even following along chapter-by-chapter with Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature didn’t help.  Perhaps I am literarily and / or morally deficient for these failings.  Guess I’ll just have to live with it.

In Hiding

I’m posting this here because, as noted, its original home at Pindeldyboz is going dark.  Notes on the story follow after the jump.

***********

IN HIDING

Where I’m sitting, I can see across the café. There are two couples: one mixed, a white guy and a dark girl, very obviously Thai; one white, very obviously American. The mixed couple are sitting side-by-side and silent, eating and drinking and glancing at each other occasionally. The Thai girl reaches over and wipes something off the corner of the white guy’s mouth. They look married: the guy looks contented and the girl looks restless. The white couple is definitely married. They look strained from all the trying to stay interesting while simultaneously keeping the interest up. The woman is gesturing fiercely. Her strident voice echoes off the walls–something about her office coworkers. The woman’s husband quietly gives his assent. I wonder to myself, which of the two is worse?, and am just then glad to be alone.

I haven’t talked to Nam-Aoy in days. Being without her this long is bewildering. I have to remind myself, I’m the one that left her.

There may be plenty to do on the island. I don’t know about it. I sit in this café. I can’t imagine going anywhere or seeing anything. No thanks. Even just thinking about it makes me tired. I’ll just stay here. I don’t like to think of it as being in hiding. But it is. Cut myself off from everyone. Haven’t opened my yap in almost a week. Left my phone behind. No email, nothing.

Nam-Aoy gave me a note when I was leaving the apartment. She herself refused to leave. I couldn’t even get her off the bed. She just stayed there, shoulders slumped, legs folded beneath her, silent, staring at the wall. So I left her like that. If she didn’t leave on her own, the cleaning staff should’ve eventually come along and kicked her out. The place isn’t ours anymore.

There at the very end, Nam-Aoy wasn’t talking at all, making it pretty tough to get her plans out of her. Before she went mute, the last thing she told me was to read the note. I haven’t yet. I can’t read Thai. I need a translation and now I am out of Thailand and out of friends. Continue reading