There are a lot of pieces of classical music that seem to be used over and over as background music, so I made a flowchart to keep track of them. It’s best viewed on a full-size computer screen; on small screens the links might not line up correctly. For a hi-res pdf, click here. Cliché … More Choose Your Own Cliché Classical Music
Some things, like money, time, and effort, are scarce resources that need careful budgeting to be used optimally. Some of those, like effort and attention, can return stronger after resting from difficult use, as if they’ve been built up like a muscle through exercise, which makes the calculus of optimizing how much and when to … More What we can’t spend
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