Friday Four

Friday, May 09, 2014

1. I won't quite swear to it, but Little Man already appears to be using different sounds to refer to his parents: I am Da-da and Mrs. Van Horn is Ma-ma. He may even be trying to say his big sister's name. (That last is hard for kids, which probably helps explain why her name has so many variants and generates so many nicknames.) You can't just ask him, "Who is that?" to comfirm. (He doesn't understand the question.) I think this because I have seen him catch sight of one of the others (or me, when Mrs. Van Horn is holding him) and react with different utterances.

Never one to be out of the limelight for long, my daughter told me yesterday evening that I am her "best friend in the whole world".

We also learned yesterday that their twin cousins, due around fall, will be a boy and a girl.

2. Writer Matt Gemmell, who has done it full time for seven years, offers his advice for working from home. Along with the usual admonitions about things like setting firm boundaries between work life and home life, Gemmell's post is unusual in offering the following reminder:

... Being successful and productive is great, but there comes a point where you're not taking advantage of the fact that you're at home - and you absolutely should.
Lots of things about working from home come up over and over again because having to go elsewhere to work makes many of them non-issues for most people. (Who's going to drive to work in pajamas, or not stop by to chat with co-workers?) Others -- like dealing with kids -- come with the territory. The potential for flexibility is great, but it can be very difficult to attain.

3. Pacific Standard carries a thought-provoking story that draws parallels between modern "life hacking" and the "scientific management" movement of a century ago:
In a more spectral fashion, something similar is happening with life-hacking. Rather than putting people in greater control of their lives, it puts them into the service of a stratum of faceless managers, in the form of apps, self-administered charts tracking the minutiae of eating habits and sleep cycles, and the books and buzzwords of gurus. They hum distractingly in the background, like a growing cloud of blackflies.
The conventional wisdom is that both movements went "too far", or that process monintoring is useful "up to a point". That's understandable, but wrong. Where both movements go off the rails is when they are pursued regardless of actual priorities. If office workers collectively walk five extra miles a day due to the location of a water fountain, so what? Whatever time that loses may indeed be less of a waste than installing more fountains or permanently hiring someone who concerns himself with such minutiae. (And the chance meetings among workers it causes could indeed offer unseen benefits in terms of comeraderie.) It is when "efficiency" is pursued for some process in near-total disregard for its greater context that such efforts become ridiculous.

4. One Lee Sallows has written a quine-like palindromic sentence. Follow its instructions and you will have reproduced it. That gave me a chuckle.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, thanks for the link for Matt Gemmell's post. I've been working as a free-lancer at home for a few months now, and that's great advice he offers: I think I said "Check" to myself at every point he made--dressing for work in the morning, taking walks and such, even the bit on exercise. (Heh, half a block away from our place is a small gym that costs me about $30 a month [yes, really] for an hour or so a day six days a week if I want. It's a great blessing.)

Especially about scheduling breaks: I find that a useful practice for me is to schedule housework breaks, ten minutes or so every hour in the morning. That way I'm not tempted to get the place sparkling clean before starting work (an open door to procrastination) but also get housework done that needs to get done. (And a clean, organized set work place is essential, as he says.)

The set schedule in the morning is important too. In this case jet lag actually helped me; when I returned from the US my last vacation I ended up after my week's adjustment getting up automatically at 7:45 every morning, and I make sure to do so even on days without work.

The biggest problem is that my wife works an irregular schedule from week to week five minutes' walk from work. That can sometimes interrupt me when working. But, as he says, self-control is the key here, and taking a professional attitude to your work is the major part of that.

Gus Van Horn said...

Having done this in Boston and St. Louis, I find that not needing a car makes working from home a little bit easier. Nothing can goof up a whole half-day worse than some unexpected errand that requires a long car trip on top of it. (I otherwise daisy-chain errands to reduce the amount of driving overhead.)

That said, I'm not exactly in the middle of nowhere. There ia a coffee shop I can walk to if I need to get out of the house and don't want to drive or can't because my wife needs the car.