Looking for a special appliance timer

IMG_2016.JPGI'm looking for one of those lamp/appliance timers I could plug my computer into that will do the following during times when I really need to focus:

  • Block incoming e-mail that isn't related to the specific projects I need to make progress on, but allow others through
  • Block outgoing web requests that are more than one degree removed from the original topic matter I was working on, but allow others through
  • Only allow streaming of net radio stations without lyrics or other spoken words
  • Deliver a brief electrical shocks to the base of my spine every time I attempt to circumvent the above.

I asked about this at the local consumer lighting store, and they didn't have one. Searches on Amazon have been fruitless so far. Surely Linksys or Belkin make something like this? Anyone?

(This is a repost of a comment I made on macosxhints.com a few months ago, as a part of a discussion on blocking Internet access to avoid distractions.)

Why I Am Quiet

A lot of people notice that in many settings, I'm a pretty quiet person. I don't mind telling them that I generally have an withdrawn personality, and that I tend to do better in conversations that are one-on-one or with small groups of people who I know, as opposed to large groups or gatherings of strangers. I notice that I can be very outgoing in situations where I have a clearly defined role to play - such as a talk I'm giving on a topic I feel knowledgeable about, or a party I'm hosting. But on the whole, I'm quiet.

It's important to me to distinguish this way of being from the classical definition of what it means to be an introvert, "a person who is more interested in his or her own self than in in other people." I know plenty of people who fit this definition well - they become so occupied with their inner existence and interests that they forget (or never learn) how to respond well to external stimuli, how to be sensitive to the physical and verbal signals given off by those around them, how to communicate well with others. While I understand and respect the ways that someone could manifest that personality, and while I see that they can find other ways to be brilliant communicators or express themselves magnificently, it's very important to me to be sensitive to and interested in the beings and happenings in the world around me, as much as I am in my own self.

So if I'm not a classic introvert, what am I? I think I'm just someone who prefers to be quiet in settings where quiet is not always the norm. I do this in part as a way of bearing witness to the many kinds of ways in which there is not enough quiet in our lives.
Continue reading "Why I Am Quiet"

Good-bye, Doctor Pepper

My favorite soft drink was Dr Pepper. It always tasted so much more interesting than any other soft drink I've had, and I enjoy that it has maintained its "outsider status" - always a little bit hard to find, a little bit hard to emulate (though not for lack of trying), a little bit hard to place just what the taste is.

And then, I made a New Year's resolution to stop drinking soda. Cola. Soft drinks. Fountain drinks. Carbonated beverages. Pop. Whatever you want to call it, it was time for me to give it up. It's partly because of the High Fructose Corn Syrup. It's partly because I can't get over how much power the soft drink industry has over the American diet and consumer habits in general, and I don't want to contribute in that particular way any more. And it's partly because there comes a time in one's life where one has to give up the things that one does not really need.

Now that a month has gone by with success, I feel comfortable officially saying farewell to my bubbly pseudo-medical friend and its peers. Oh, I still get the cravings now and then, and I still sometimes quietly wonder to myself if I wouldn't like to be a Pepper too. But those are just remnants of a former life, and I've moved on.

Good-bye, Doctor Pepper.

Checklists do not an existence complete

006 3Today I felt especially like a mindless automaton checking items off a list. It's pretty rare that I have that experience in my "day job" at Summersault, but sometimes the combination of a burst in client project activity + a bunch of administrative things + an overflowing inbox + accumulated personal tasks from the weekend add up to a big long to-do list of calls and e-mails and paperwork that I just have to plow through. A lot of our organizing tools in the office environment seem to promote this: a numbered e-mail inbox, an ordered list of voicemail messages, a stack of papers. It's all so linear and narrow. Sometimes I'm tempted to scatter my paper inbox around the building and create a little scavenger hunt for myself - decipher a clue to figure out which bill to pay next! Or I want to delete, without response, every other odd-numbered e-mail message whose subject line contains the letters "s" and "a", and just be okay with that. Hmmm. It's all too easy to just get in that flow of "next...next...next" without really fully appreciating the people and ideas I'm encountering and the contribution I'm making to the overall work that Summersault is doing, let alone the incredible wider world that's going on around (and just fine without) me. And like today, sometimes it takes seeing how amazing the Sun is in the warmth and light of Spring it brings, or thinking about a far away friend who has had a loved one die just yesterday, or hearing the sounds of laughter from the kids playing in my neighborhood...all of these things help me remember the things I need to remember, and the checklists start to fall into place.