unstructures

Goodbye, Cubicle Land by pairadocs

Lifehacker dished a link to this Talk of the Nation feature How to Be a Productive Procrastinator with and Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl of the Department of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and author of the blog Don’t Delay at Psychology Today and “structured procrastinator” John Perry who claims to have discovered a way to “convert procrastinators into effective human beings” and uses their bad habit. He writes:

…The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.

Dr. Pychyl has some thoughts about this. I think that I have begun to grope towards doing something similar. My work in webdesign/new media/marketing/blogging/Michigan obsessing/whatever the heck it is that I do for a living seems to rely on an awful lot of tasks. These all seem to be able to bleed time from things I mentally classify as more important. 

Perry some pretty funny (and insightful) essays that I read while procrastinating on a number of other more urgent tasks like A Plea for the Horizontally Organized and Laptops and Lab Manuals.

The photo is Goodbye, Cubicle Land by pairadocs, who is apparently saying goodbye to cubicle land on Monday. His blog says he’s cleverly disguised as an adult. I don’t know about that but he does build a mean model.

I’m gonna procrastinate celebrate Nature Photography Day now.

 

The symphony of sensation

Of course “everybody knows” that nerves use electric impulses to transmit sensations … kind of like Western Union but without all the stagecoaches. One problem with this model is that it doesn’t explain how anesthetics stop nerves from carrying pain signals.

Black & Gold by Andy McFarlane

In A Shocking Idea: Nerves Might Run on Sound, Not Electricity in Wired, Andrew Jackson & Thomas Heimburg, a pair of researchers at the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark a Niels Bohr biophysicist suggest that nerves operate using high pressure waves, like sound through a pipe.

Their theory, published in the Biophysical Journal, explains how nerves and anesthetics work as follows: Nerves are made of lipids that are liquid at body temperature. A yet-to-be-defined mechanism creates high-pressure, semisolid waves that move through the cells, delivering messages.

Anesthetics, they suggest, lower the temperature at which lipids become solid, making it difficult for the waves to form, thereby preventing nerves from sending pain signals. They also suggest that as the waves travel, they change the shape of the cell membrane, producing the electrical pulse that scientists currently mistake for the primary function of nerve cells.

I have to confess that the part of me that gets almost physically transported by music is nodding its head in time with this…

I looked at a ton of photos of violins and violinists and such, nothing struck me so here’s one I took at the Furniture show in Leland last month of a gorgeous table.

Is “d) All of the Above” the best choice?

multitasking by Wireman

This morning while seeking a solution to an annoying software bug, I stumbled on The Multitasking Myth from David W. Boles’ Urban Semiotic:

This push to be “on top of things” by doing too many things creates a white noise experience in the brain where priorities are equalized and perspective is minimized.

The result is an ongoing and never-ending buzz that cannot be discerned or condemned because the quivering emotional electricity is coming at you from everywhere and nowhere and so you live in a constant state of undefined fuzziness.

About the photo: It’s titled multitasking and was taken by Wireman. In true multitasking fashion, I flickred through a ton of shots of multi-monitors and multitasking moms before settling on this one. I chose it because I think it shows how multitasking is becoming so central to our culture that it’s ingrained in the fabric of our lives.

Did You Know?

Obsolete

Well, an educator decided to make something to get teachers to really think about what their students are going to need to be successful in the 21st century. In my opinion, he was pretty successful. Check it out. (here or here if that fails!)

This photo by sarahwoo is simultaneously the least “interesting” photo on Flickr for the tag “didyouknow” and the most appropriate of the lot.

Is “Lying SOB” a Word That Works?

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Double Rainbow

Now that I no longer listen to Rush as I drive, I am usually pretty calm as I listen to the radio. The other night, however, I tuned in to Terry Gross with Frank Luntz explaining Words That Work from Fresh Air and by the time I reached home, I was screaming at the radio.

For those unfamiliar with the state of the science of semantics, Frank Luntz is the guy who has changed the way politicians & pundits (Republicans and their imitators) use words. He wrote a book called Words that Work about those words that resonate with people, words and phrases that make them feel (or not feel) a certain way and that make them do (or not do) a certain thing. He has a company that delivers this “clarity & simplicity of language” to politicians in other nations and corporations. He uses a sophisticated array polling, focus groups and research to determine what messages are going to have a certain result.

Luntz gives the example of “death tax” and says that if you call it “estate tax”, about 50% of people want to get rid of it. If it’s “inheritance tax”, 60% want to see it gone. If it’s “death tax”, 70% are opposed. The difference between Dallas/Dynasty/Trump/Perot style estates and “we’re all going to die someday” is the reason. Terry points out that it is actually a tax on estates in excess of $2 million. Luntz goes after her saying “what triggers the tax?”, implying that it really is a tax on dying as opposed to being a tax on dying with a $2 million estate.

I can (more or less) let that slide as I am unclear how the State has a right to rifle the pockets of even the most well-heeled corpses, but the next one popped just about every blood vessel in my body. Terry moves on to Luntz’s recommendation to Republicans to talk about “exploration” versus “drilling” in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He says that “drilling” evokes dirty, messy oil wells while “exploration” sounds cleaner and more modern. Then he says that when he shows people photos of what the activity in ANWR looks like, 90% say it looks like exploration and argues that we should call it what it looks like. He actually says: “If 90% of Americans look at a photo and say ‘that’s exploration’, who am I to say it’s drilling?” Right. We should get rid of all these meddlesome “facts” and start going with people’s impressions of reality. From the GUT, people.

The photo above makes me think of pristine, unspoiled wilderness and was taken by Jim M. Goldstein. You can view a whole ton of photos and commentary from his two week camping trip in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at his website.

Hunter, Gatherer, Coyote

 Coyote

I can't really say much more about Web 2.0: Back to the “Hunter Gatherer” Society by Marc Fawzi except: I really think you should read Web 2.0: Back to the “Hunter Gatherer” Society by Marc Fawzi.

The coyote pup above was wandering in the road to my house last night. I think his name is "Spike".