Time Management Secret: “YES Makes Less” from “Writers In The Storm” (#blogboost)


Jenny Hansen is one of my favorite bloggers; I know I’ve said that before, but it’s worth repeating. She has an excellent post on the Writers in the Storm blog about time management that is worth your while to read. She explains the phrase “Yes Makes Less.”

Go on over to Writers in the Storm and give it a read, and let me know what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Picking on Facebook Again… (#blogboost)

Everybody here loves social media, right? And, if I had to guess, nearly everyone is on Facebook, right? Let me ask you a question, then…

Have you noticed that, the less time you spend on Facebook, the better you feel? I know I do. I signed off of Facebook on July 2, and except for a couple of times, mostly to research this post, I’ve stayed off. And probably will.

Why? It all has to do with some psychological experimentation they decided to conduct on a small segment of their users a while back. Evidently they were curious about seeing more positive or more negative updates caused people to post more or less frequently. So, rather than asking people if they’d like to participate in their experiment, they just sort of conducted it on 700,000 randomly-chosen users. The results of the experiment were published earlier this year.

Well, the crap hit the fan at the end of June, and on July 23, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, apologized… not for doing it, but for “poorly communicating” that they were doing it. It seems that, buried somewhere in the terms of service, Facebook has said that they can do this. They just never did a good job of telling people that. Oops.

It’s one thing to know that you’re part of a psychological experiment. When I took Psychology at Northwestern back in the paleolithic period, part of the deal was that you had to sign up to be a part of a certain number of experiments to pass the course. You knew that you were being experimented on. This is a different story: I don’t know if I was made a part of this experiment, and if so, which group I was assigned to. Like a lot of Americans, I have dysthymia. I don’t need some social media company deliberately manipulating what I see to make me feel better or worse. If someone was already depressed, how could this have made it worse? What if someone took their own life or harmed themselves or others so Facebook could see how to manipulate their newsfeed for advertisers?

I’m not naive enough to think that Amazon, Google, et al. aren’t using the things I do online to tailor the results I get based on what I’ve done in the past. I expect that. In the case of Amazon, I almost welcome it, other than the fact that they keep recommending Regency romance novels to me because Mary and I share the same account. What Facebook did is different: they deliberately pushed positive or negative news to people who didn’t know it was being pushed to them, all because they were afraid that too much negative stuff in your timeline might cause you not to use the service and that the advertisers who are paying big money for Facebook to push their ads might take their business elsewhere if people stop using Facebook.

This is why I don’t add a social media link for Facebook here. You see links for Twitter and Google+, but I refuse to add one for Facebook. I won’t be spending much time there anymore, anyway…

The Thursday Ten: Top Ten Lists! (#blogboost)


I was brainstorming today’s topic and had a revelation: Maybe this week I could do a meta-list, i.e. a list of lists of ten. So, here we go:


  1. The top ten books on writing that’ll make you a better writer. Libby Fischer Hellmann, who wrote the Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis mysteries/thrillers, found this list and recommended it to her followers on Google+. They look pretty good to me.
  2. Ten Creepy Radio Transmissions. The list is of pirate radio stations, including a few “numbers” stations, which are operated by various worldwide intelligence agencies. Got this one from TopTenz.net, a good source of Top Tens.
  3. Top Ten Charming Words for Nasty People. From Merriam-Webster’s collection of Top Ten lists which, as you might suspect, deal primarily with words.
  4. 12 Uncommon Punctuation Marks You Should Start Using Right Now. I’m making an exception to the “top ten” in this case because I really like the subject. I don’t know exactly how many of these are real, but I do know that the interrobang (#7) is an actual punctuation mark that I read about in Time magazine over 40 years ago. Some of them make sense, like the exclamation comma and the question comma (#10 and #11). From Mashable.
  5. Productivity Bonus– 10 Tips to be a more Productive Writer using Evernote. If you don’t read Hunter Emkay’s blog, you should. A section of her blog is devoted to Tech for Writers and Evernote for Writers, and she’s been doing a series lately on Productivity tips. Definitely go there when you have some time; it’s just that good. Since I’m still a bit of an Evernote newbie, her posts have really helped.
  6. Top 10 Dogs That Soon Became Homless [sic]. I’m sure that none of these dogs actually became homeless (and God help the owners who would do something like that; there are rescue organizations and the Humane Society if you really can’t keep a dog, so just cutting them loose is just wrong). From the site UltimateTop10s.com.
  7. David Letterman’s Top 10 Lists. Letterman has been doing Top Ten Lists as far back as I can remember; sometimes they’re the only reason to watch. CBS has a page that updates every Friday morning with the Top 10 list from the night before. They archive the lists so that you can search them, either by air date or subject. He’s said that he’s retiring some time next year, so this might be going away after that happens.
  8. America’s 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres. The American Film Institute’s website has this page on their site. Gee, what a surprise…
  9. Top 10 Best Cities for New College Grads 2014. Livability.com has lists of “America’s Best Places to Live & Visit,” including this one. Surprisingly, not all of them are on the coasts.
  10. The Thursday Ten: Ten obsolete technologies. Yeah, I’m picking one of my own. What about it? Seriously, this has been one of my more popular blog posts. It used to have a lot more images in it, but there was that whole copyright thing that year. Still, it’s one of my better ones.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Thursday Ten. Do you have places you go to find Top Ten lists?

My day so far (#blogboost)

I was ready to start writing the post for tomorrow when I realized that I hadn’t done a post for today yet.

Mary and I are now considered “senior citizens,” at least by the Kroger in the neighborhood, which meant that we went today to get a five percent discount. Didn’t buy a whole lot, but they had a sale on Chili’s bacon mac and cheese, so we picked up a couple and had them for lunch. Mary’s comment when she was done was “We should have gotten more.” They also had a really good sale on Oscar Meyer Smokies, so we picked up a few packages.

Oh, and we got a pie…

Made at Quozio.com
Made at Quozio.com

The phone hasn’t rung all day. It had been ringing off the hook (figuratively speaking) since last week, because yesterday was the runoff election from the primary two months ago. When we first moved here, that was new; in Chicago, whoever got the most votes won the election, regardless of how many candidates there were. Here, if no one gets fifty percent, the top two vote-getters from the primary meet in a runoff. While it’s true that voting is important, we didn’t bother for the runoff this time. We took PJ O’Rourke’s advice.

For those of us who use WordPress, they’ve changed the Add New Post window (the one you get to from the dashboard) so that the text portion just gets bigger as you type, rather than adding a scrollbar on the side. I like that, because you can see the whole post. It might mean having to type in HTML tags because the buttons on the editor have scrolled off the screen (I use the text version rather than the visual), but that doesn’t bother me.

How’s your day so far?

Two for Tuesday: Harry Chapin (#blogboost)

I was a sophomore in high school when I first heard Harry Chapin’s “Taxi.” At the time, I just thought it went on and on and on and thought the guitar part was just D-Am7 over and over. The more I heard it, the more I liked it, though, and eventually I saw him do it on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It really blew me away: he was accompanied by a guitarist (Ron Palmer), a cellist (Tim Scott), and a bass player who did the part in the middle that I thought had been done by a woman (“Big” John Wallace). And the four of them played the song almost exactly the same way as I had heard it a thousand times before. NO ONE in the 1970’s played the same song the same way twice, and it NEVER sounded the same as on the record. I got his first album, Heads and Tales, for Christmas, and played it constantly.

About ten years later, (July 16, 1981) I was at work after lunch. My manager sat near me, so naturally I could hear everything he said in his cube. His phone rang, and I could hear him desperately trying to calm his wife down. Naturally, I was curious, but sat and waited. A few minutes later, he came in to my cube. “Harry Chapin died,” was all he could say.

Harry had been driving on the Long Island Expressway when the emergency flashers of his car went on. Could have been car trouble, could have been a heart attack, but he veered into the center lane and slowed down, almost hitting another car, then veered the other way into the path of a tractor-trailer. The driver of the car and the truck managed to get him out of his car before it caught fire, but by then it was too late. Not long after his death, his widow said that Harry was supporting 17 relatives, 14 associations, seven foundations and 82 charities. Harry wasn’t interested in saving money. He always said, ‘Money is for people,’ so he gave it away.”

Fortunately, we still have his music. Here are a couple of examples…

Our first song is the aforementioned “Taxi,” from his 1972 album Heads and Tales. It spent 16 weeks on the Hot 100, peaking at #24.

Our second song is “WOL*D,” from the 1973 album Short Stories. It peaked at #36 on the Hot 100 and at #34 in the UK, the only song to have charted there.

Harry’s official website, run by his family, is here. The website for the Harry Chapin Foundation is here.

Harry Chapin, your Two for Tuesday, July 23, 2014.