Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How To Not Procrastinate

(This is a cross-post from Facebook)

I am no stranger to procrastination. Luckily, in spite of my laziness and general irresponsibility, I do have a few tricks for getting things done. Let's suppose I need to get a 4,000 word paper done, but I just want to watch YouTube videos (this is based on real-life experiences). I haven't done any work yet, so it would help if I could just get started.

(1) Consider what's stopping me from getting started. In the case of my 4,000 word paper, I had to write it using a program called LaTeX. As silly as it sounds, the act of starting up a program can be a tedious experience, particularly if it takes a long time to load. Then I need to get my research notes out of my binder, and that could mean *gasp* walking all the way across the room. Once I've identified what's stopping me, I make a deal with myself: if I open LaTeX, and get my notes out of my binder and within reach of my computer, I'll allow myself to watch YouTube videos guilt-free for half an hour afterwards (consider using an actual, physical timer).

(2) Identify the smallest bit of work you could do that would still count as progress. In the case of my 4,000 word paper, writing one sentence technically counts as progress. If that seems too intimidating, consider writing one word, or one letter. My next deal with myself goes as follows: if I write one sentence/word/letter in my paper, then I'll allow myself to watch YouTube videos guilt-free for half an hour afterwards.

The great thing about this step is that it uses your flaws to your advantage. If you're like me, then sometimes you finish watching one YouTube video, tell yourself the next one will be the last, but then trick yourself into watching another one anyway. The same principle works with writing the paper. I find myself saying "I'll just write ONE sentence, and then it's back to YouTube." But once I've finished that sentence, I start thinking "Well, I might as well write the NEXT sentence, since it's pretty much continuing the same idea..."

(3) Take a step back and consider what you're actually doing when you procrastinate. Changes are you're not just sitting still doing nothing. You're still doing something, it's just not what you're "supposed" to be doing. If you take time away from your work to do something you enjoy, try to make it something productive, or something that challenges you or makes you a better person somehow. This brings me to my third deal with myself: I decide in advance some alternate productive task (for example, cleaning my desk) and give myself a choice: at any moment, I may work on my 4,000 word paper, or I may clean my desk. Once I get bored of one task, I switch back to the other. In effect, I'm pitting my procrastination instincts against each other and hacking myself into being more productive.

These have worked for me in the past. However, I take no responsibility for any damage caused by anyone else trying these techniques for themselves.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finnegans Wake Approximation

What follows are two samples of text. One of them is from James Joyce's novel, Finnegans Wake. The other is an approximation of language in the style of James Joyce, output by a Python program written by me (code available on request). See if you can guess which one is which.


like forceps persequestellates his vanessas from flore to flore. Somehows this sounds like the purest kidooleyoon wherein our madernacerution of lour lore is rich. All’s so herou from us him in a kitchernott darkness, by hasard and worn rolls arered, we must grope on till Zerogh hour like pou owl giaours as we are would we salve aught of moments for our aysore today. Amousin though not but. Closer inspection of the bordereau would reveal a multiplicity of person-alities inflicted on the documents or document and some prevision of virtual crime or crimes might be made by anyone unwary enough before any suitable occasion for it or them had so far managed to happen along. In fact, under the closed eyes of the inspectors the traits featuring the chiaroscuro coalesce, their con trarieties eliminated, in one stable somebody similarly as by the providential warring of heartshaker with housebreaker and of dramdrinker against freethinker our social something bowls along bumpily, experiencing


le! inwardness with health well their hands of him, one of sairey’s plunge and Beatrice, Nelly and turkeys tumult and patching it like gush gash from sour grappes of mingling in the byre. Allahblah!

TAFF (a blackshape, Nattenden Sorte; whenat, hindled firth and he ordurd and buchstubs said. What with the membrancetie, shoeweek will beheld not attouch it. See what former for there’s purse and pinpin in your ear-shells when we play dress grownup sister! Are me not men-tioningahem?

— Peequeen ourselves they will produce nichthemerically few of his hat which in fact, unnecessary quoniam, speeching behind the general which puckerooed the dates of Gold for taking bourd and blesses her blind up; lights their world. How kirssy the tiler made a man in the past and trustyman. Crouch low, you were theirs is alse falseleep he waitawhishts to see the [Roman Catholic] presspassim) that he would not tell you, if uninformed), I never wet the twyly velleid is thus tous out of islands empire, he

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Composite Democrat and Republican

As a follow up to my "Average President of the United States," here are two more variations on the theme. Here's the average Democratic president:

And here's the average Republican president:

It's a little weird, because I can't think of any specific presidents that look like either of them.

More Composite Faces

I decided to try a couple more collective faces, this time using more than one person as data. I started by finding what my average Facebook friend looks like:

I also put together all the faces of the presidents of the united states, to find out what the average president looks like:

Monday, March 25, 2013


"Is a sentence fragment, of course, of course,"
Is a sentence fragment, of course, of course,
Unless, of course, you are endorsed
By the famous Mr Quine.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bob Ross-Inspired Painting

Tonight, my university's Residence folks hosted a night with Bob Ross; they projected an episode of The Joy of Painting, and set up paints and canvases for us to use. The episode had him painting a waterfall. Here was my result:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Random Comic: Anonymouse

(Click on the comic to view at full size)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Random Comic: IrrelevAnt

(Click on the comic to view at full size)
Creative Commons License
It Seemed Funny at the Time by Ben Buckley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada License.