tweaking the mechanicals
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Too Damn Fast

"Never confuse movement with action"
Billie Jean King

Another weekend of trying to complete too many jobs has got me thinking about always putting myself behind the 8 ball. I just do it reflexively now; build up crazy expectations and then freak out when I can't fulfill them.

It's a cliche', but I know I should pay more attention to "working smarter" instead of just brute-forcing every problem. I have an extreme lack of patience for just about everything, which means I'm always running a couple notches past an optimal speed - especially mentally. My brain is like an amphetimine tranked squirrel on deadline, fast-switching from one processing task to the next. It mashes hope, fear, dread, intrigue, and a kalidoscopic range of other emotions on a minute-by-minute basis. My reptilian hindbrain grunts and sputters in protest. The lazy, angry gnomes in my soul get out their pickaxes and start randomly whacking away at the surrounding environs. Even my blog writing -- which one could imagine would be a good time to slow down a bit and muse -- is hectic and slapdash. At this very moment!

Even as I'm recognizing how silly it is to go about life in such a flailing manner, my fingers thrash the keyboard in a hurricane of typos ||| I hit f5 to refresh pages like a mouse in a psychology experiment ||| I click between tabs and switch apps and speedwalk down hallways ||| now I fire off ill-considered emails, formulate hapless plans, navigate iTunes playlists ||| I imagine what I might be doing in the next second ||| or the one after that ||| or the one after that.

Hurry sickness, indeed. Must Work Faster!

What's the fun in getting stuff done/
if getting stuff done is no fun at all?

Thus, my typical daily cycle goes something like this:

groggy awakening
coffee-drinking philosophical reflection
caffiene-fired enthusiasm
task-based slogging (w. self-loathing)
biorhytmical system crash
semi-productive, hopeful flailing
after dark submission to catatonia
plodding into sleep

Why can't I slow down? Is my true goal productivity or distraction?* Or, is the goal good, but I lack the discipline to follow through? Maybe with less coffee I'd act slower but produce better? Or is it just somehow funner to go faster (especially seated at a computer)?

The consequences are pretty obvious. The outstanding lameness of this approach to life creates a humorless, jackhammer mentality; I become a gasping wraith living inside the shell of a particularly stubborn robot. I manage multiple to-do lists, since I can't remember what I'm supposed to pay attention to or prioritize. Hell, I even make the lists too quickly. I scribble out one item and replace it with two.

At the end of the day, I have a hard time knowing what I accomplished, or if I made effective use of my time, or if I'm on the road to nowhere. I make dumb mistakes, get overly-stressed, feel like enough is never enough or that reasonable limits aren't reasonable.

This is dumb, but I honestly fall into the trap of thinking that doing more is better than doing well. Sorry, Billie, but I do.

{file under: doubt, self & productivity}

* The smart money is on distraction. (But distracted from what?**)

** Likely candidates: fear, uncertainty, doubt, powerlessness, my mortality, comprehensive relativism and the imminent heat death of the universe, to name a few.
~ scott @ 8:08 AM [link]

Such a cool tool! This is one of those web apps that seems so obvious after I discover it, and then like it should have existed all along. It also seems destined for greatness, buyout by Amazon/Google/Apple, and/or getting ripped off and incorporated into the next version of every audio player in existence. Perhaps all three?

Here's my profile, as short as the list is thus far.

update a:
So now I realize that I'm effectively "audioblogging", in that there's a new layer added onto my selection of what to listen to in iTunes, knowing that it'll all be catalogued for posterity (even if, as with this blog, no one actually cares). Interesting. Big Brother is watching, and I invited him in; but, like God, he's so big and distracted by so many different people clicking so many different play buttons, that even he doesn't really give two shits about my particular details.

Or something.

update b:
So this AM, the next day, it's awfully slow to update my "recently played", and isn't retaining tracks in the list for more than about an hour. How recent is "recent", I wonder? Are they scrapping that data regularly, or is this a glitch? 'Cuz, hell, as long as we're archiving, I'd like to have view options like "Recently Played - Full History" and such. Why isn't "Tracks played: 35" a link? Please don't scrap the data - that's the whole idea!

I suspect this is another example of a web service that has accelerated past its creator's expectations, and that now they're scrambling to keep up with server load, network traffic, data storage, etc. Just like 1996, baby! And I'm already excited for the stuff they could layer on top of this thing in future versions.

update c:
Now on Monday, I've gone over 100 tracks, and the Scrobbler has compiled my weekly artist and track charts, which is cool. With only a week's data it's fairly predictable - apparently I went on an R.E.M. binge one day - but it'll be fun to see the aggregate stats after a few weeks. I have a sense for which bands I'm listening to a lot lately, but the data will confirm or deny it. (This could be a good warning for when I'm about to burn out a new album and need to suck it up, give it a rest and find something else to listen to.) I expect to see Jimmy Eat World, Coldplay and New Found Glory up at the top, because I seem to have latched onto each of their latest albums with PitBull-caliber ferocity, but we'll see. The disconnect is that it's not tracking the tunes I play in the studio on the iPod, which is a distant 2nd place to the amount of music I hear at the deskjob, but still counts. I wonder if plug-ins on multiple computers can feed the same profile? If not, surely they've got it in the works. And then, someday in our wireless future, it'll seem completely normal to broadcast your real-time info from an iPhone or something...

I'm still waiting for it to calculate related Recommendations. Not because I'll do anything glorious with them, but just to see it in action. It's my continual fascination with psuedo-control at a distance: "I listen to tunes here, and their website does stuff over there! Rocket science!"
~ scott @ 4:30 PM [link]
Madden Dreams

I guess I haven't yet revealed my near-total obsession with Madden NFL on the Playstation 2*. OK, now I have. Anyhow, it's been my game of choice - meaning the only thing I play when I can squeeze an hour of fun into the day - for about a year and a half. With a full understanding of how juvenile and silly this is, allow me to regale you with last evening's exploits on the virtual gridiron:

It's Season 3 of my San Diego Chargers franchise: Week 9 at Indianapolis. We're 7-0 and they're a paltry 3-5, even with Manning, Harrison and James. (The simulation engine is flawless!) Now this is a grudge match: the Bolts hired former Titans coach Jeff Fisher this season, and he's still smokin' from all the beatings administered by the Colts during his recent years in the AFC South. GodPlayer (that's me) is also psyched for this one, as his 2004 franchise was - yes - Indy. Ah.. I can almost smell the RCA dome...

Two minutes or so left in the first half, the Colts have a 10-7 lead. (Harrison and Burress each have TD catches). Brees gets hit as he throws downfield on a rollout, hurts his ankle and is out for the game. Crap! Bring on 2nd year, untested QB Spike Ugo. This guy is terrible. Clearly the game is all but over.

Yet we go ahead in the second half to 17-10 (another Burress TD and a FG), then with 2 minutes left the Colts go on an unstoppable drive. Tie game, 17-17, :43 on the clock. The Chargers should just run it out and play for overtime on the road, right? Pshaw!

Ugo throws right to the sidelines and hits Burress on a curl route (FA from Pittsburgh last off season - he's great!). Ugo scrambles and goes to Parker on the left! He hits Tomlinson up the middle for a short gain inside the 30. Time out, :20 left. A run up the gut to kill the clock, and Nate Killarny comes on to kick the game winner. 20-17, game over!

OK - it was more dramatic than that. Really. At least, in my head it was.

* On the PS1 it was Panzer General... boy do I miss those honeycomb grids and pixelated icons!
~ scott @ 3:01 PM [link]