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March 2023

Post image for Be Dignified, as a Rule

Much of what you’ve read on this blog has been written in pajama pants. Writing directly follows meditation in my morning routine, so I’ve often gone right from the cushion to the coffeepot to the desk.

Occasionally life would remind me that there are practical reasons to put on socially acceptable pants before beginning the workday. Someone could knock on the door, for example. But for the most part it seemed like an unnecessary formality that only added friction to the getting-to-work process.

Today I do get properly dressed before going to my desk, because it’s simply more conducive to productivity. Changing into leaving-the-house clothes gives me a “going to work” feeling, which is the kind of feeling you want whenever you’re going to work, even if your office is just across the hall.

Recently I noticed that this effect is stronger the better I dress. Jeans and a pullover are better than PJs and a hoodie. Proper slacks and a button-up shirt are even better. I’m sure an Edwardian waistcoat and tie would generate an even stronger feeling of being a dignified writer getting to work.

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Post image for 6 Unusually Specific Suggestions for Eating More Sensibly

Here’s an idea for a science fiction novel: there’s a planet whose residents have spent millions of years learning to find a scarce and precious stubstance that keeps them alive. Evolution weeded out everyone who wasn’t extremely determined to locate and exploit this resource. This precious substance, in its many forms, is naturally loved and celebrated by all, and has a central role in every culture on the planet.

The sci-fi twist comes when people discover technologies that can produce vast quantities of this once-scarce resource. Over the course of a few generations, people go from contending with its scarcity to contending with its overabundance. Each character in the book has to find their own way to manage the consequences of this traumatic reversal, namely that they are haunted by ceaseless instinctual cravings that no longer serve them.

This is of course a major plotline in our own reality. We’re biologically tuned for a world with scarce eating opportunities, but happen to find ourselves in an artificial environment that contains a deadly overabundance of such opportunities. Most of the food encountered in this environment is of low quality, optimized for scale, and designed to exploit precisely those pleasure-seeking instincts that are so hard to manage. It would be a thrilling story if we weren’t entangled in it ourselves.

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Post image for Don’t Buy the Six-Dollar Cauliflower

A few weeks ago I went to an office supply store to buy some envelopes big enough to fit the construction-paper birthday card I’d made for my friend.

Pardon the language, but the prices were fucking ludicrous:

Thirty-seven dollars for a 50-count box of 9×12 envelopes.

Forty-six dollars for a 100-count box of slightly smaller ones.

Thirteen-something dollars for a 25-count package of the half-size ones.

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