On our drive back from seeing the solar eclipse last year, Clara and I listened to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, a short book in which Timothy Pychyl outlines why we procrastinate, why it’s a problem, and what to do about it. Most of his advice is solid and helpful, but in chapter 6, “The Power of Getting … More Closing mental parentheses
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have seen some of my commonplace book posts, where I take a short piece of clever writing, try to understand how it works, and make my own version. Today’s piece of writing is this poem I saw making the rounds on social media, which … More The Commonplace Book #4: “Scroll down / Scroll up”
A recent episode of The Allusionist about the differences between American and British English opened with this comment by Helen Zaltzman: We can’t even agree on whether pants are the garments you wear under or over your pants! I love this so much. I’ve heard sentences before with the trick of a single word needing to be … More TCPB #3: Pants under or over pants?
The second installment in my commonplace book analyzes a line from the hilarious children’s television show Phineas and Ferb. When Stacy becomes exasperated with Candace waiting for her boyfriend to call, she says: “Don’t man the phone—phone the man!” I love this clever inversion: the same words are used in reverse order and with different meanings. In … More TCPB #2: “Don’t man the phone—phone the man!”
In Roy Peter Clark’s book How to Write Short, he suggests keeping an eye out for good short writing, trying to understand what makes it good, and recording your attempts at using those techniques in a “commonplace book.” I’ve tried a few different pocket notebooks in the past, but now that I’ve got one I can … More The Commonplace Book: Entry 1
Last December, I was worrying about the future of this blog. I had a long list of potential post topics, but every week it was a struggle to choose one I liked enough to write about. The meta-blogpost Running out of ideas was round one of my attempt to solve this problem with the scientific method: hypothesizing about the cause … More How not to run out of ideas
Since childhood I’ve loved the feeling of waking up earlier than I have to, and getting to drowse until it’s time to get out of bed. It feels both luxurious and virtuous. So the old iPod I use as an alarm goes off twice every morning: first there’s the “wake up” alarm, and then the … More Why I throw my iPod on the floor every morning