Posts Tagged procrastination

The Old Dopamine Peddler


This is inspired by what Hank Green said about picking the right addiction just after singing about Tetris on JoCo Cruise Crazy 4. Appropriately, it can be sung to the Tetris tune (a.k.a. Korobeiniki, meaning Peddlers) though it is modeled more closely on Kobi LaCroix’s ‘The Peddler: A Half-Assed Translation’ than on any other version.

Open your mind and I know you will find that its system’s designed for times of rest.
You must know there are places you go when the throes of adulthood get you stressed.

Tics of our mental relief, incrementally pouring cement in between life’s bricks.
Kicks you spurn, they protect you from burnout, without them we’d turn out lunatics.

Drugs, TV or Tetris fun.
Learn, create, or get this done.

When willpower fails you, addiction assails you, and sometimes it ails you but there’s a way
to decide which addiction will guide you; when will won’t provide, you have a say.

Low-power moments with something to show for them, that’s how a grown-up can function well.
Something easy that won’t just delete, so it slowly accretes your world’s oyster shell.

Flappy Bird will do you wrong.
Add more words to parody song.

Not films of Fluffy, watch How To Make Stuff, and make making the puff you’re addicted to.
When at rest, read of skills that impressed, and you will find the best are afflicted too.

New bricks are falling; you can’t fit it all in; you may drop the ball into yawning gaps.
Do it too much, you won’t get to do much, but don’t over-rue such a paltry lapse.

Climb this twelve-step staircase to
time that will no longer waste you.

Post a creation of procrastination,  you’ll find validation to keep you keen.
Reinforce, don’t forget to be awesome, endorse with the force of dopamine.

 

(Reinforce, don’t forget to be awesome, of course that’s endorsed by the brothers Green.)

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Nine of Diamonds: Willpower Zero (based on a true story)


Bladder: Go to the toilet.

Can’t. Sleepy.

Bladder: Go to the toilet.

Can’t. Sleepy.

Free will: Well sleep then.

Can’t. Bladder full.

Free will: Well you may as well check the internet on your iPad then.

Can’t. Sleepy.

Free will: Come on. It’s the internet. You like that.

Okay.

Bladder: Go to the toilet.

Can’t. Internet.

Free will: You should think about the thing you were going to write.

Can’t. Bladder full.

iPad: Shall we play a game?

Okay.

Bladder: Go to the toilet.

Can’t. Game.

Bladder: Go to the toilet. Seriously.

Okay.

iPad: Play again?

Okay.

Bladder: Go to the toilet!

Can’t. Game.

Free will: You really have to get cracking on that writing, and the laundry…

Can’t. Game.

Bladder: Are you listening to me? It’s been an hour already! Go to the toilet!

Okay.

iPad: Play again?

Okay.

Bladder: If you don’t go to the toilet soon I’m going to wet the bed and blame it on you.

Okay.

Free will: So about that writing…

Can’t. Toilet.

Free will: Just go to the computer when you’re done, alright?

Okay.

Free will: So how about a first line?

Can’t. Internet.

Legs: We’re cold. Can haz pants?

Can’t. Internet.

Free Will: So we were thinking about maybe writing about encoding and decoding of emotion in poetry…

Can’t. Cold legs.

Stomach: I don’t want to be rude or anything, but once you’ve got Legs sorted out, could we maybe eat breakfast?

Can’t. Internet.

Clock: Hey, it’s almost time to publish some writing.

Can’t. Not enough time.

Free will: But you could start…

Can’t. Cold legs.

Internet: Hey! You have a Kiva repayment. Let’s make a loan with it!

Okay.

Free will: Well, at least we got something good done. But seriously, you’d rather sit there cold, hungry and pantsless than write?

Can’t write. Cold and hungry.

Legs: If pants are not your thing, how about a nice warm shower?

Can’t. Internet.

Legs: Please?

Okay.

Internet: Hey, your friend says hi!

Tell her I have to take a shower.

Internet: She says she’s being lazy too! Oh, and she wanted to talk to you about that trip to the UK…

Okay.

Legs: Uh… you can’t feel us any more, but we’re still here.

Free will: When you’re done with that, could we get back to the computer and actually write something?

Okay.

Legs: Thanks for the shower! Now let’s get some pants on before we get cold again.

Can’t. Internet.

Stomach: Hey, I’m being patient and all, but have you finished with Legs yet? We could have lunch.

Can’t. Naked.

Legs: I think the pants are in the bedroom. We’ll take you there if you like.

Okay.

iPad: Play again?

Okay.

Free will: Uh… could you at least open the notepad on the iPad?

Can’t. Game.

Legs: We’re getting cold. How about those pants?

Can’t. Game.

Free will: You know, there’s a shiny new encyclopedia of poetics on the floor just there…

Can’t. Legs cold.

Free will: And while Legs are going on about pants, you know you need to do laundry before going to the UK, right?

Can’t. Game.

Legs: We’re getting really cold here! They don’t have to be clean pants. We won’t tell.

Okay.

iPad: Play again?

Okay.

Stomach: Hey, can you just do as Legs says so we can have afternoon tea? I don’t ask for much; just an apple will do.

Can’t. Game.

Stomach: Come on. An apple. You like apples. They’re like iPads but edible.

Okay.

Legs: Us first!

Okay.

Free will: Okay, now that you’ve eaten something, how about you gather up the dirty laundry and you can write something while it’s in the machine.

Can’t. Internet.

Stomach: Hey, thanks for the apple. Can I have another?

Can’t. Free will wants me for something.

Free will: Okay, so you’re going to gather up the laundry?

Okay.

Free will: Great! Now we just need to take the laundry downstairs and put it in the machine.

Okay.

Internet: Hey! Your other friend says hi.

Tell him I said hi.

Free will: You’re still going to take the laundry downstairs, right?

Can’t. Chatting.

Stomach: I was lying before. An apple isn’t really enough. Can I have another?

Okay.

Free will: This guy’s not saying anything important. How about we do the laundry?

Can’t. Eating.

Free will: How about now?

Okay.

Free will: Great! Now let’s start writing.

Can’t. Internet.

Internet: Hey, remember how you said you’d go vegan for a day for that guy’s wife’s birthday? This could be the day.

Okay.

Stomach: You know that means cooking something, not just stopping at two apples, right?

Okay.

Free will: You could find a nice vegan restaurant after the laundry’s finished, and write something while you’re eating. You know you like writing in restaurants.

Okay.

Stomach: But I’m hungry now! Cook something!

Can’t. Internet.

Stomach: Really? Look, just stick some stuff in a pot and you can look at the internet while you’re waiting.

Okay.

Clock: Hey, it’s time to get the laundry out of the machine.

Can’t. Cooking.

Clock: Hey, it’s time to get the laundry out of the machine.

Okay.

Free Will: Okay, so now hurry up and hang the laundry up so we can get on with this writing thing.

Can’t. Hungry. Cooking.

Stomach: Is it dinner time yet?
Clock: No
Stomach: How about now?
Clock: Yes
Stomach: Hey, dinner’s ready! Give me some dinner!

Can’t. Internet.

Stomach: But it’s ready! I’ve been talking with Legs and they’re okay with walking over to the stove to get it.

Okay. No need to growl at me.

Free will: Okay, so now can we write?

Can’t. Eating.

Free will: Well could we watch the videos of that concert so you can upload them?

Okay.

Internet: Hey, look at me!

Okay.

Free will: What about those videos, just while you’re eating?

Can’t. Finished eating.

Free will: Okay, so you’re going to write now? Or hang up the laundry?

Can’t. Internet.

Free will: Can you at least do some research on the internet so you’ll know more about the topics you’re going to write about?

Can’t. Stupid topics.

Free will: If we don’t get this done soon you’ll end up having to write about writing or something, and there’s no worse topic than that. You know, you could listen to things from the internet while you hang up the laundry. You could even jot down writing ideas on your iPad as you go.

Okay.

iPad: Play again?

Okay.

Free will: Hey, uh… laundry?

Okay.

Stomach: I’m still hungry. Can I have another spoonful, and you can finish this later?

Okay.

Internet: Hey, look at me!

Okay.

Free will: Oh, the computer, eh? You’re going to write something?

Can’t. Not enough time.

Free will: Giving up already? Then you may as well go to bed.

Can’t. Internet.

Free Will: But you said there wasn’t enough time! If you’re going to waste time, you may as well go to bed.

Okay.

Internet: Hey, another friend wants to talk to you about that trip to the UK!

Okay.

Clock: Hey, it’s time to go to bed.

Can’t. Chatting.

Free will: Seriously, you should go to bed. Just end the conversation.

Okay.

Free will: Now go to bed.

Can’t. Laundry.

Free will: Fine. Finish hanging the laundry.

Okay.

Free will: Now go to bed?

Okay.

Clock: Hey, it’s way past bedtime.

Can’t sleep. Computer clock too loud.

Free will: Go turn the sound off then.

Can’t. Sleepy.

Free will: Come on, you know you won’t be able to sleep if you leave it on anyway.

Okay.

Internet: Hey, look at me!

Okay.

Free will: No! Don’t look at that! Didn’t you hear the clock? Go back to bed.

Can’t. Internet.

Free will: Just stop looking at it.

Can’t. Sleepy.

Free will: Go to bed then!

Can’t. Internet.

Free will: That’s it. Go to bed or I’m leaving you.

Bye.

The deadline elves were out in force this Sunday. It’s not usually quite this bad, and I did get a lot of things (other than writing) done on Saturday. In case you’re wondering why I’d planned to write about the encoding of emotion, ‘encoding’ and ’emotion’ were the entries closest to ‘Emmental’ in my Princeton Companion to Mathematics and newly-acquired Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics. Neither had an entry for Emmental itself.

I got this pack of cards in Bern last week, where I filmed the videos I mentioned uploading. They are of a Susie Asado concert. I did upload a few of them (that’s why I left my computer awake and able to tell me the time late at night, instead of putting it to sleep) but haven’t written my usual overly-verbose video descriptions yet, so the videos are still private. I’ll put a link here soon. In the mean time, here is a video of the Bern bears.

The trip to the UK I mention is to follow Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm around on tour again. I probably won’t publish anything next Sunday, since I’ll be busy getting from one show to the next, but I will get the three of them to each pick a card, so I can write about all three of them when I get back, like I did last time.

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Ace of Diamonds: Rook Song


This story is a sequel and/or prequel to Swan Song, but I hope it also makes sense on its own.

The artless masses follow each other through the darkness. In the safety of imitation, they are content. Time passes as quickly and as unremarkably as they can make it. When they move together, they are indistinguishable, but when one has a moment of weakness, it is just possible to distinguish that one from the others, and distinguish the moment from the rest of time.

One of these moments was in the past, and it happened to a mass which had once been called Bob, though it didn’t remember that. Bob was nervous, for new thoughts threatened to think themselves inside it and disrupt its peaceful rest. It carefully followed a stream of other such afflicted, and found itself at a diversion dealer.

“I need to relax,” said Bob as normally as possible. After pretending to check something on a computer for a while, the dealer motioned to the distraction section. The section seemed to fill the whole area, with boundaries as indistinct as those between customers.

Some amount of time passed while Bob looked through what was on offer, but Bob was not sick enough to care how much, just as long as it passed unnoticed. Bob settled on a collection named Rooksong, which promised to drown out all original thought if played loudly enough. Something terrifying briefly flashed over the dealer when Bob went to buy the recording.

Not sure whether to be more afraid of it being a real flash or a metastasis from its imagination, Bob asked, “It’s relaxing, isn’t it?”

To Bob’s relief, the dealer didn’t bother to respond.

Finding that those it was following were not moving, Bob began watching before even leaving the diversion dealer. Meaningless images and sounds unfolded all around and through Bob’s mind’s eye. In the resulting wave of relaxation, Bob merged with the rest of the queue so completely that it would have mixed character traits with the others if they’d had any. The next time anything happened, Bob found itself painfully torn from the others, then healed by the blissful distraction of the next show. Some were tired jokes, some were cats dancing to repetitive beats, most were the everyday stories of expert assassins killing time. All made time pass so smoothly that Bob felt nothing at all.

When the amusement stopped, Bob was more sensitive than ever to the passage of time, the pressure to do something with it and the agonising boredom of not doing so. It needed more rook song, and it needed it more quickly than it had ever cared to do anything. It flailed at the dealer. The dealer gave it a bored look, and then shuddered with recognition.

“You want more?” said the dealer.

“Yeah. Do you know where I can get some?”

The dealer shook off those that had followed Bob, and they fled from the unconventional motion. The dealer held a softly glowing object that mutilated the darkness, showing the terrifying outline of the dealer’s bulbous face. Bob, suddenly aware of having rudimentary physical eyes of its own, turned them away.

“This is a thought,” said the dealer. Bob already knew. It had narrowly avoided having one a few times.

The dealer set up a video camera while Bob recited stereotypes to itself and laughed to draw its attention from the light.

The dealer made its move without wasting any time, for it had worse things to avoid doing. It thrust the thought at Bob and held its point near where Bob wished it had eyelids. Bob panicked at the light reaching its mind’s eye. What terrified it most was the temptation to give in, to reach out and grab the flame of time and let it burn its flesh until the flame and Bob were both extinguished. But it dared not. Bob found its calm and recited countless brief tidbits. As the stream of tidbits began to wane, the dealer drove the thought through Bob’s forehead.

And it gave Bob an idea. Terrified, Bob held the idea at arm’s length and brandished it like a dagger.

Bob felt for the hole the thought must have made in its forehead, hoping a lengthy description of gore would stop this story from moving. There was no hole, but having a well-defined forehead was new and disturbing. Bob was different. “Am I alive?” it asked the dealer.

“You’re a watcher now. Go watch.”

Bob understood. It was free to liberate rook song at leisure.

The dealer handed Bob a video camera. “We can trade recordings,” he said. “Then we don’t have to gather as many.”

With that, it calmly went through the charade of selling Bob the camera. The dealer’s shaking had not been vigorous enough to disrupt the whole line, so a few new customers had already arrived.

Bob hid the idea and slid its way around the customers. When it found someone that didn’t look sick, it thrust the idea at it and started filming its reaction. Bob’s anxiety rose a little as it saw the moment of terror, the flickering desire. Then Bob basked in the divine procrastination of avoiding the thing one wants more than anything. The thrill was even more intense than that of watching recordings. Bob savored the spectacle a little too long before stabbing with the idea. The victim had no lust for rook song to keep it going, so it slid silently into the next world.

Potential witnesses to the attack had fled as soon as the idea was unsheathed, so Bob had to wander alone for a while to find its next victim. Having such an obvious gap between itself and others was disturbing; Bob almost saw its own form, and almost thought things nobody else was around to think. The usual distractions weren’t good enough any more. It was so desperate for rook song that it did something it had never done before: it hurried.

Bob found another line and enjoyed the rook song of the last follower. Bob shaded its idea carefully, so some of those ahead of the victim were so absorbed in looking at those in front of them that they did not see what happened, and Bob could feast on them next.

Only when the camera was full of rook song did Bob bother to take it back to the diversion dealer to exchange footage.

“This is terrible”, said the dealer. “You let it grow weak before ending it. And this one is too young; it doesn’t even know what it wants, so how can it avoid it?”

Bob was surprised. Usually, one likes what one is told to like. But only the highest quality time-wasting would satisfy the dealer. It taught Bob how to choose victims: how to tell them apart, and how to see how old they were and how good they were at passing time.

Bob had always been happy about time going on, but as it did so, Bob found it needed more and more rook song to keep going. Soon it understood what the dealer had said about low-quality rook song being unsatisfying. Sometimes it would watch recordings even while liberating fresh rook song. When there was not enough, Bob found itself banging painfully into things with its ever-more-defined features, instead of simply sliding around and through them. Eventually Bob was so defined that others would flee before it even showed its idea.

When Bob ran out of recordings, there was nowhere else to go. It ran to the dealer with the few things it had managed to record, and begged for more.

“This is pretty poor quality. And you just cleared out all my customers. Do you know how hard it was to coax them from the other queues?”

Tears streamed from Bob’s tear ducts. Without rook song, it could not survive much longer in this body. It slapped the dealer with an only-slightly-webbed hand, sending ripples through the dealer’s blastocaelic body. Bob’s fully-developed eyes could see that being surrounded by distraction hadn’t fully protected the dealer from the passage of time and the pressure to become something.

The dealer flashed an idea at Bob as a warning while sorting through some recordings. “Alright, you can have this one.”

Bob started watching straight away. The rook song from the near-formless creature in the recording was relaxing, but not as satisfying as usual. It seemed like it had seen it all before. Only when it saw the dealer plunge the idea into the victim’s head was there enough light for Bob to recognise itself. It saw the conception of its own idea. It remembered the terror of creating such a lively object, and the rooksong-given resolve that enabled Bob to resist it. It remembered the temptation to give in to it. By this time, the temptation was all that was left.

Bob stabbed its idea into its now-beating heart, and sent itself to the next world screaming eureka in pain.

 *

Doctors were worried by the sudden change of heart rhythm, so they induced labour. Fourteen hours later, ‘Bob’ was reborn. Her new parents named her Alice.

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