Thursday, November 29, 2012

Overcoming Procrastination

This post is only for those who think they have the capacity to do something more with their lives but are plagued by the phenomenon known as procrastination. 

Procrastination is a term used in psychology to describe the action of replacing important or high-priority actions (such as paying your bills) with tasks of lower priority (such as checking your Facebook account). 

Freud, my least favorite intellectual in western history, said that our attraction to the Pleasure principle is what caused procrastination. 

Essentially, we seek out pleasure and avoid things that are painful or cause us suffering. As opposed to the Reality principle, which describes how people will wait until after they've eaten dinner before allowing themselves to enjoy dessert.  

In order to overcome procrastination, we must first begin with understanding what it is and why we procrastinate: 

  1. We feel overwhelmed by the negative emotions that consume us when in our imaginations we envision a task as being unpleasant (we live out the conflict in our minds before we do it).
  2. We are so overwhelmed by what we imagine that we give up (without trying), believing that there's "nothing we can do to fix it".
  3. The task we imagine seems so lofty in our minds that we imagine all the ways we'll fail. The result is that we do not try out of our fears of failure (embarrassment). 
  4. We're "too busy" taking care of other important things (going to work, taking care of kids, studying, managing our environment - internal or external). 
  5. We're so confused by the complexities we imagine in our mind that we can't decide what to do.
  6. We're plain tuckered out. We're exhausted. We can barely hold our eyes open at the end of the day and the only thing we can mentally or physically process is food and mindless television. Whatever it was that we had to do can wait until tomorrow. That's life. 
  7. We simply do not like negativity or have "issues with conflict," so we avoid it like the plague (whatever the repercussions).

Do any of those scenarios sound familiar to you? Do any of those scenarios describe a moment when you put off until tomorrow what you could have done today? 

Most likely, yes. We've all procrastinated on something at some time during the course of our lives...  and lived long enough to see how that decision bit us in the butt. 

So, what do we do (finally) to overcome procrastination? 

The key to overcoming procrastination is in the story we tell ourselves. We feel sick to our stomachs the moment we tell ourselves a story about an event that is going to make us feel bad. The moment we believe we will feel bad, we do. This is where anxiety comes into the picture.

Imagine if you will that you must call your phone company to dispute a bill (you were charged for something that you shouldn't have been charged for). You can either (1) imagine how difficult it will be to change the representative's mind; after all, they're just in it for the money and these days nobody listens or does what's right, or (2) you can tell yourself that it will be one of those times when you get a really cool person on the phone who will not only fix the bill but will give you a credit for your trouble. 

Wow! That's a great story! All of a sudden calling the phone company doesn't feel as bad as it did 5 seconds ago. Calling with that attitude makes it more likely that you yourself will be more friendly over the phone and potentially inspire someone else to act in this way. 

Knowing that the stories we tell ourselves affect how we perceive the world, how we feel inside, how we come off to others, and how we ultimately influence our environment presents us with the gift of new experimental logic, namely: If I can change the stories I tell myself, how will that change the outcome of everything I experience in life? 

There are dozens of very helpful tips for overcoming procrastination, but none of them work until a fundamental change of perspective occurs within one's self. 

We are the actors in our own life's play. We might as well write a nice story for ourselves, irrespective of what's playing in Theater number two. 

Moral of this story: 

Tell yourself a nice story because you're going to have to live it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Funny Words

In Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift hypothesized that language originated because words were much lighter and easier to carry around than even miniature models of all the things that one would want to signify.

I would stretch Swift's hypothesis further by stating that (smaller) funny words (in a fixed language system) have more force due to their portability as well as due to the motion they exhibit.

Smaller words are more easily remembered; words that are both useful and frequently utilized travel easier through a language system. This behavior of words mirrors molecular and subatomic processes in that some words can be more easily displaced from one point of view to another.

Dr. Robert Beard, AKA Dr. Goodword on the website published The 100 Funniest Words in English. While over 90% of The Bad Spellers Coalition denounced the list on the grounds that the words were simply "too hard to speel," anyone with an interest in words and a farcical sense of humor might just muster their way through the list, adding a few zingers into their repertoire of word tricks.

"I feel that teaching linguistics at an introductory level for all those years put me in a position to talk about the intricacies of words on an authoritative but jovial level anyone can understand and enjoy." Dr. Beard.

For those with a penchant for language, reading Dr. Goodword's list of funny words feels like a Saturday morning spent reading the Funnies.

Imagine, if you will, that you've just poured yourself a bowl of Canoodles, that sugary blend of tubular-shaped (nanotubes), those fruity flavored Miniaturized bites with that deliciously intense artificial flavoring that tickles every molecule in your body, leaving your central and peripheral nervous system in an enhanced state of alert awareness. Yum!

It's a good thing you just ate a bowl of Canoodles, because if you attempt to read a list as long as the one that follows - especially through the uncomfortable glare of a computer screen - you are going to have to be alert enough to stay awake, then exhibit enough endurance to get through the task, set aside the required time to read online - which takes approximately 25% longer than reading from printed material - and finally, find the motivation within yourself to complete this task knowing perfectly well you have other, more important things to attend.

Given all you're about to invest in reading this post, I have taken the liberty of underlining the most commonly remembered words. According to surveys, these words are more easily remembered if they are (1) short; (2) easy to spell; (3) have been included in song lyrics; (4) have been used in a movie, television show, commercial, or popular YouTube video.

*Warning: The (above) Word Art 
contains easily remembered explicit language

Without further ado...(thanks Shakespeare)

  1. Abibliophobia - The fear of running out of reading material.
  2. Absquatulate - To leave or abscond with something.
  3. Allegator - Some who alleges.
  4. Anencephalous - Lacking a brain.
  5. Argle-bargle - A loud row or quarrel.
  6. Batrachomyomachy - Making a mountain out of a molehill.
  7. Billingsgate - Loud, raucous profanity.
  8. Bloviate - To speak pompously or brag.
  9. Blunderbuss - A gun with a flared muzzle or disorganized activity.
  10. Borborygm - A rumbling of the stomach.
  11. Boustrophedon - A back and forth pattern.
  12. Bowyang - A strap that holds the pants legs in place.
  13. Brouhaha - An uproar.
  14. Bumbershoot - An umbrella.
  15. Callipygian - Having an attractive rear end or nice buns.
  16. Canoodle - To hug and kiss. (The future name of carbon nanotube-shaped sugary breakfast cereal)
  17. Cantankerous - Testy, grumpy. (My grandma used this expression)
  18. Catercornered - Diagonal(ly).
  19. Cockalorum - A small, haughty man.
  20. Cockamamie - Absurd, outlandish. (I heard this on "Three's Company")
  21. Codswallop - Nonsense, balderdash.
  22. Collop - A slice of meat or fold of flab.
  23. Collywobbles - Butterflies in the stomach.
  24. Comeuppance - Just reward, just deserts.
  25. Crapulence - Discomfort from eating or drinking too much.
  26. Crudivore - An eater of raw food.
  27. Discombobulate - To confuse.
  28. Donnybrook - An melee, a riot.
  29. Doozy - Something really great. (Groundhog Day)
  30. Dudgeon - A bad mood, a huff.
  31. Ecdysiast - An exotic dancer, a stripper.
  32. Eructation - A burp, belch.
  33. Fard - Face-paint, makeup.
  34. Fartlek - An athletic training regime.
  35. Fatuous - Unconsciously foolish.
  36. Filibuster - Refusal to give up the floor in a debate to prevent a vote.
  37. Firkin - A quarter barrel or small cask.
  38. Flibbertigibbet - Nonsense, balderdash.
  39. Flummox - To exasperate.
  40. Folderol - Nonsense.
  41. Formication - The sense of ants crawling on your skin.
  42. Fuddy-duddy - An old-fashioned, mild-mannered person. (Steel Magnolias & The Brady Bunch)
  43. Furbelow - A fringe or ruffle.
  44. Furphy - A portable water-container.
  45. Gaberlunzie - A wandering beggar.
  46. Gardyloo! - A warning shouted before throwing water from above.
  47. Gastromancy - Telling fortune from the rumblings of the stomach.
  48. Gazump - To buy something already promised to someone else.
  49. Gobbledygook - Nonsense, balderdash.
  50. Gobemouche - A highly gullible person.
  51. Godwottery - Nonsense, balderdash.
  52. Gongoozle - To stare at, kibitz.
  53. Gonzo - Far-out journalism. (Muppets)
  54. Goombah - An older friend who protects you.
  55. Hemidemisemiquaver - A musical timing of 1/64.
  56. Hobbledehoy - An awkward or ill-mannered young boy.
  57. Hocus-pocus - Deceitful sleight of hand. (Hocus-Pocus, the movie)
  58. Hoosegow - A jail or prison.
  59. Hootenanny - A country or folk music get-together.
  60. Jackanapes - A rapscallion, hooligan.
  61. Kerfuffle - Nonsense, balderdash.
  62. Klutz - An awkward, stupid person. (Expression my mother used when talking about my lack of mobile agility)
  63. La-di-da - An interjection indicating that something is pretentious. (Annoying expression utilized by the male members of our family, roughly meaning: "Look at you! All grown-up.")
  64. Lagopodous - Like a rabbit's foot.
  65. Lickety-split - As fast as possible. (Favorite expression utilized amongst Elementary School teachers when they want you to "make it snappy" or hurry up)
  66. Lickspittle - A servile person, a toady.
  67. Logorrhea - Loquaciousness, talkativeness.
  68. Lollygag - To move slowly, fall behind. (Expression utilized by annoyed Elementary School teachers when you got sidetracked coming back from the office in an attempt to enjoy the sunshine before returning to that dreadful box they called "a classroom")
  69. Malarkey - Nonsense, balderdash. (The explanation you gave your Elementary School teacher as to what took so long returning from the office)
  70. Maverick - A loner, someone outside the box. (My Dad would say, Roy Huggins. People who live in Dallas, Texas, are probably thinking of basketball and Dr. Pepper Family Nights)
  71. Mollycoddle - To treat too leniently.
  72. Mugwump - An independent politician who does not follow any party.
  73. Mumpsimus - An outdated and unreasonable position on an issue.
  74. Namby-pamby - Weak, with no backbone.
  75. Nincompoop - A foolish person. (My first big bad word)
  76. Oocephalus - An egghead. (Thanks Dot Com Bubble)
  77. Ornery - Mean, nasty, grumpy. (An expression used by women senior citizens when referencing men senior citizens)
  78. Pandiculation - A full body stretch.
  79. Panjandrum - Someone who thinks himself high and mighty.
  80. Pettifogger - A person who tries to befuddle others with his speech.
  81. Pratfall - A fall on one's rear.
  82. Quean - A disreputable woman.
  83. Rambunctious - Aggressive, hard to control. ("My problem," according to Mr. Lyon, the Principal of my Elementary School)
  84. Ranivorous - Frog-eating
  85. Rigmarole - Nonsense, unnecessary complexity.
  86. Shenanigan - A prank, mischief. (What I swore I was not involved in when our class was accused of leaving their tents in the middle of the night at Science Camp)
  87. Sialoquent - Spitting while speaking.
  88. Skedaddle - To hurry somewhere.
  89. Skullduggery - No good, underhanded dealing.
  90. Slangwhanger - A loud abusive speaker or obnoxious writer.
  91. Smellfungus - A perpetual pessimist.
  92. Snickersnee - A long knife.
  93. Snollygoster - A person who can't be trusted.
  94. Snool - A servile person.
  95. Tatterdemalion - A child in rags.
  96. Troglodyte - Someone or something that lives in a cave.
  97. Turdiform - Having the form of a lark.
  98. Unremacadamized - Having not been repaved with macadam.
  99. Vomitory - An exit or outlet.
  100. Wabbit - Exhausted, tired, worn out. ("Rabbit" according to Barry Kripke)
  101. Widdershins - In a contrary or counterclockwise direction.
  102. Yahoo - A rube, a country bumpkin. (Something Einstein said while riding on the back of a comet!)

If you made it this far, you deserve a
Cheesburger & French Fries!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Cosmic Knock-Knock Joke Hypothesis

When I answer a knock-knock joke, how do I know it’s me answering the joke and not some preprogrammed response to an algorithm?  What if our autonomic or unconscious responses are nothing more than programs responding to stimuli previously designed and encoded to elicit certain behavior? What it a potent and curious being, who simply possesses advanced knowledge on how to create artificial intelligence from which sentience may arise, is responsible for our existence?  

When the possibility of the greatest cosmic joke is raised, a question immediately follows. How do I know that there isn’t some truth behind the joke? After all, jokes could be a cosmic programmer’s way of detracting origin hunters from delving any deeper into reported program glitches like déjà vu.

What if there were a way of knowing from the inside? What if there were a way to know for sure that we are the ones answering the knock-knock joke? What if we could follow the rabbit down the rabbit hole and glimpse what lies beyond? 

The Cosmic Knock-Knock Joke Hypothesis is one that inspires the Alice within us to question the simplest things in life, such as jokes and phenomenon like déjà vu. In a time when our advancing knowledge of technology will someday soon allow us to create artificial life from which sentience may arise, should we not simultaneously be questioning whether we ourselves evolved from a similar superintelligent computer simulation? 

Perhaps prior to our existence, our species appeared in marketing advertisements in cosmic magazines like NeoVogue under the heading: Create Your Own Human; followed by the highly sought after: Create Your Own World.

It's not out of the question that throughout the history of the universe has there ever existed technology advanced enough to create sentience out of computer programs whilst simultaneously creating cosmic computer simulations of entire worlds, it is out of that child-like curiosity that we turn and look to see if there's an escape to the illusion. 

"My brain is the key that sets me free."

Like in a magic trick, every great Knock-Knock joke consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Set-Up". The comedian presents an ordinary sounding joke: 


"Who's there?" 

"How do you know it's you asking who's there?" 


The Set-Up leaves you ill at ease. But you're okay, because you know that the second part of the joke, called "The Twist", is coming. Here, the comedian takes the disturbing Set-Up and adds something else to make it funny or to quickly diffuse the seriousness of the inquiry.

"Don't worry. I was just kidding. It's a joke. Get it?

But you don't get it... you can't answer the question because you don't know the answer to the greatest cosmic Knock-Knock joke ever told. You don't actually know who's knocking and you can't be 100% certain it's even you answering. Of course, you're not really looking for an answer. You don't really want to know. You don't want to dedicate your life to searching for the escape key. You just want to be entertained. Because negating existence isn't enough for a joke; you have to bring it back to make it funny. 

That's why every joke has a third part, the hardest part, the part we call "The Punchline". 

Who's there?
A-1, who?
A-1 to know to answer to the greatest cosmic knock-knock joke ever told. 

Who's there?
Abbot, who?
Abbot you don't know how this all works.


Who's there?


Alice, who?

Alice fair in science and joking.

(until it's not)