Tricking myself

There’s a productivity trick that almost always works and I don’t use it anywhere near often enough. 

For the past couple of days, I’ve been worrying about a report I need to create at work – not an article, an internal report, which I’m not accustomed to doing. The deadline is approaching, and my stress is ratcheting up. It’d take a few hours to do – not a lot of time, but I didn’t feel like I had that time to spare. 

Today I said to myself, “Look, just open a Microsoft Word document, pick a template, put your name at the top and then you’ll have started it at least.” It’d only take five minutes (I thought) but it’s five minutes less work I’d have to do later. 

And I did that and then I figured, well, might as well do the first paragraph. And having done the first paragraph, I figured why not do the second. And having done the second….

And now the document is nearly done. It will probably need just a half-hour to polish and then I can send it on its way. 

Why don’t I do that trick more often? Because it works every goddamn time. 

So this happened

I went to the doctor for a checkup (strong like bull). He wants me to get a flushot in the pharmacy in the lobby – not our usual pharmacy but alrighty that’s fine. At the pharmacy, we run into an insurance problem – insurance company says it’s expired though I know it is not because we get prescriptions filled (at our regular pharmacy). I go through my wallet and give the desk person other insurance cards – I do not throw out insurance cards because they confuse me, but apparently pharmacies are not impressed by the number of insurance cards you have; you need to have the right one. I text Julie and now she is looking for insurance cards too. 

As this is going on I get a phone call from an unidentified 800 number. Usually I ignore phone calls from unidentified 800-numbers; I figure they are either spam or scams. But I think this one might be insurance-related, so I take it. It is not insurance-related; it is my credit card company letting me know they detected fraudulent activity. 

So now I’m dealing with that, while Julie is looking for a functional insurance card, and the woman at the pharmacist is waiting for the whole thing to be resolved. 

And I’m thinking, have I died and gone to the Beetlejuice afterlife?

Courting controversy

In 2017, I’ve had to realize some of my beliefs that I took for granted are in fact controversial — they even mark me as some kind of far-left radical.

These beliefs include:

  • All people deserve equal treatment, regardless of race or religion. (I also think those things about gender and sexual orientation, but I knew those beliefs were controversial in some quarters.)

  • Russia is not America’s friend.

  • Don’t show your weiner to somebody without their permission.

  • Don’t touch other people’s butts, boobs, thighs or crotch without their permission either.

  • Grown men dating teen-age girls? Not cool.

  • Adolf Hilter was a bad man.

Our neighborhood Little Free Library

I ended up this summer with one spare copy each of “Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow, and “The Collapsing Empire,” by John Scalzi. I put them on my bedroom bureau, intending to donate them to the local public library, but I never got around to it.

Then one night walking the dog with Julie this week, she commented that one of the neighbors had put up a Little Free Library. Oho, I said, and next time I was walking the dog I brought the books and dropped the books in the box.

And now here is why I had those spare copies: Over the course of the beginning of the year, I started wondering if I would enjoy reading paper books. I’ve been an ebook-only guy since 2010. I just plain like ebooks – they’re portable, and because I can read them on my phone, they are literally always with me. But I hear my book-reading friends raving about the pleasures of print books, and I figured I wanted to give them another try.

And I did, and read about five pages and said do – not – want. Later, I read the ebook edition of “Walkaway” and enjoyed it, and I expect I will soon enough read “The Collapsing Empire” and enjoy that too.

But that left me with two print books to dispose of, and now I finally have, in a way that will not go to waste. And I will have the pleasure of checking on them every day on our walks to see if they’ve gone anywhere.

P.S. MONTHS after buying the two hardcover books, it occurred to me that I could have experimented with print books by TAKING ONE OUT OF THE LIBRARY, thus saving myself some coin. But instead I put some money in the pocket of authors I like, and donated to a Little Free Library, so it’s all good.