My Single Most Important Productivity Hack

My biggest productivity tip is very simple. It isn’t a fancy application for your computer. It isn’t a complicated process. It is very basic and very easy. Anybody can do it!

Here it is:

Every night, as the very last thing you do before you lie down to sleep, take out a blank piece of paper (I prefer lined 3×5-inch index cards).

Write down the 3 most important things you want to accomplish the next day. These are the 3 things that–if accomplished–will make the day a success.

Why the night before? Your subconscious mind never sleeps, so as you slumber, it goes to work on those tasks. By the time you wake up, all you’ll really need to do is physically carry out those tasks. The brain work is done.

This has worked for me for years and will continue to do so until the day I die.

That’s a short but sweet tip. It is definitely my most effective productivity habit!


Life Hacks: Overhyped or Super Cool?

Why not both?

Years ago, back when I was neck-deep in the Tech world (working for startups in their IT departments, often supporting hundreds if not thousands of teammates, the site Life Hacker was BIG.

I loved it.

So much so that I started a site (years later) all about hacks I’d discovered over the years. I still use many of them (the shoe-tying method is KILLER). You can find that site here.

But what you won’t find is the post about shoe-tying. It doesn’t exist on the site. It DOES exist in the now-defunct newsletter. I’m thinking about bringing those old newsletters to The Muse Letter (in concept phase).

Would this interest you?


HIDDEN: In Plain Sight

Way back when, before I started college and actually took economics and business courses, I often wondered why companies didn’t need to bear the full costs of their production.

For example: Energy.Power companies polluted water, air, and soil for DECADES and NEVER had to account for it, in many cases.

They produced a product and made a profit because they didn’t have to bear the costs that were undeniably borne by society.

In large part, they still haven’t paid the full cost of production.

Not to mention NEVER having fully paid for the benefits they receive from society in terms of infrastructure.

Imagine an oil & gas company who had to make their own roads and bridges…to get their product to market.

I really HATE that nobody ever talks about this.

Same goes for “EV” companies like Tesla. All that battery power doesn’t come from magic.

Depending on where you are, your electricity may come from…OIL.

And producing the batteries and then disposing of them…all of that has costs that is NEVER paid by the producing company.

HELL, they don’t even have to pass those costs onto the consumers of their product because they are never held accountable for those “hidden-in-plain-sight costs.”


President Biden and Trump in a…band?

Trust me, it’s worth watching. It says “Unavailable.” But hit the link and go to Facebook. It’s great. It really is.

Really Big Things


I know, “She’s brilliant.” That’s what the GOP says about SCOTUS nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

No, she isn’t. She can’t even say “Yes” to a yes or no question about whether the POTUS can change the date of the election (he can’t).

IF she actually knew the USC, she’d know that. Hell, my 8th grader knew that years ago.

And she was asked today by a GOP Senator what the five freedoms were in the 1st Amendment.

She didn’t know. SHE.DID.NOT.KNOW.

I mean, I don’t expect most people to know, either. But she isn’t vying for title of “Most People.” She’s vying for a position that literally (in her view) interprets the Constitution.

How do you NOT know what’s in the 1A if you’re a damned federal judge vying for SCOTUS?

By the way, it wasn’t a “gotcha” question. It was asked by Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

It is telling that the one freedom she couldn’t name was that of PROTEST.

Because, y’know, protesting is only done by thugs and criminals that “belong” to Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

I fucking hate self-proclaimed conservatives in this country. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves. But you have no shame.


There Are No Magic Numbers

With respect to COVID-19, there are no solid numbers we can stand behind to be safe.

Six feet? Arbitrary. This is the distance we’re told to stand or sit apart from people so we don’t catch the airborne virus.

Why six feet? I don’t know. We know the plume of coughed-up phlegm and spittle you propel from your nose and mouth during a sneeze or cough can travel 10x that distance (or more). Air current and humidity can change that number from six feet to sixty in, well, a sneeze.

Are you indoors? How’s the ventilation? In most places, air is recirculated from one part of the ceiling to another. Airborne particles containing the coronavirus tend to move down with gravity but can stay suspended for MINUTES.

Some states or localities have limits on group sizes. For example, a few months ago, California had a rule that no more than 25 people could gather. As their rates rose (again), that number went down to 10.

Other states have different numbers that can assemble in a group.

There is nothing magical about the numbers 10 or 25. Why not 3? Or 72?

I know, it’s a risk mitigation factor. In a group of 100, there is a higher likelihood of somebody being infected with COVID than in a group of 3.

In either case, if you’re within a few feet of others, there is a very high likelihood of a whole lot of people contracting the virus.

If we were to put numbers on these sorts of things that resembled reality, those numbers would be infinity and/or null.

Groups of none are best. Keep infinity feet apart. Wear a fucking mask if you can’t meet BOTH of those specs.

Of course, none of that is possible, primarily because people in the United States insist on “personal freedom” and won’t wear a goddamned mask or stay the fuck home.

YOU may wear a mask and TRY to practice “social distancing” (better term is physical distancing), but that doesn’t mean Bubba will.

And he’s standing right fucking behind you now at the Quickie Mart, mouth-breathing (because that’s what Bubbas do), coughing, wheezing, and sweating up a viral storm.

What do you do? Give him the stink eye? Punch him in the face? Call the POLICE?

Nobody will come. Nobody will shame that gross motherfucker into wearing a small piece of cloth over his nose and mouth. Nobody will defend you when you gouge his eyes out with Quickie Mart sporks you reflexively picked up when you spotted him coming in behind you.

We’re fucked, America.

There’s one last chance though (two sides of the same coin): We could get to herd immunity once a certain percentage of the population gets COVID (nobody can agree on the number–there I go again with the impossibility of magic numbers–and nobody even knows if herd immunity will work!)…

Sure, we could have multiple vaccines soon. How soon? Nobody knows. Johnson & Johnson had a promising vaccines that they just shut down because people were…getting sick. D’oh!

(Vaccines are just a quicker way to herd immunity, by the way.)

There is evidence herd immunity doesn’t work. It’s not a lot of evidence, but it’s been noted that some people have been re-infected.

So if herd immunity doesn’t work, then what? We all get it and suffer the consequences.

But make no mistake: There are NO MAGIC NUMBERS when it comes to COVID guidelines.

Really Big Things

Private Property Has Always Trumped Everything Else

Imagined conversation between slave owners and the Founding Fathers (hell, it could have been internal dialog in Thomas Jefferson’s fat melon):

Slave owner: Hey, I bought these slaves. So they are my property. Here’s the receipt (hands over toe from one of the slaves as proof of ownership).

Founding Father: Well, gentlemen, we can’t argue with that.

I mean, it wouldn’t make any sense at all since most of us already own slaves.

We bought them. We own them. Ipso facto, they are our property.

Nobody dare challenge us on this.

If you do, and you try to suggest that personal/private property isn’t highest on the rung of really important things, and that human rights supercede property, then you might just have two first names (e.g., Benedict Arnold).

Don’t tread on us. We have snakes and muskets. Plus wood teeth (which weren’t wood) and fake hair just like our current president.

If you look at the history of the United States of America (no longer a real thing, by the way), you will see a theme that threads its way through our origin back when the first settlers came along all the way through now.

In short, personal property reigns supreme in this country.

Ideas like Eminent Domain, bankruptcy, right of way…all are prefaced that property is really important.

Look today at the protests going on around the country in support of Black Lives Matter and the Women’s Marches.

When things go haywire, and property gets damaged, the blame game goes into high alert. “I’m all for people protesting until they start damaging property.”

Hell, dude, NOTHING ever changes in this country until some blood is shed, or–GASP!–some property is damaged.

It’s the only way to get people’s attention.

I mean, if a cop kneeling on a man’s neck for eight minutes didn’t change anything, what the fuck will?

Right after that wretched event, people took to the streets to protest police brutality (read: MURDERS). The protests were peaceful. Black Lives Mattered.

For a minute (on the grand scale).

But then the riff raff came to town in the dark of night. We saw with our own eyes WHITE PEOPLE setting shit on fire.

And then the white people started whining about property. PROPERTY! IT’S being destroyed. HOW COULD YOU?

Look, I’m not down with destroying anything. But I’m smart enough to know it’s the only way to get people’s attention.

Consider attention gotten.

Your move, property owner.


Will We Ever Return to Normal?

While it feels good to tell ourselves, “yes,” the answer is an emphatic “NO!”

This is going to be a very short story.

Everybody is asking:

“When will we return to work?”

“When will things go back to the way they were?”

“When will we return to normal?”

I have to be blunt because there is no other way: We will never return to normal.

Put another way: THIS is our new normal.

Get used to it.

Some of us won’t ever return to our old jobs. The businesses died. There are no jobs to return to.

Some of us will continue to work from home.

Some of us will return to work, but it won’t be like it was before COVID-19. We may wear masks, practice social distancing, and not gather around the water cooler or eat together in the lunchroom.

When shopping, we may decide to not go out as often as we used to. We may stay home and order online.

Buy Amazon stock.

Eating out? Fat chance I’m exposing myself or my family to this virus at a restaurant. I doubt I’m the only one.

What will the Christmas shopping season look like? Retail sales will be way down. Online sales may be down, too, but they’ll take market share from brick-and-mortar shops (as they have for the past 20 years).

With 20 percent unemployment and a federal government who can’t keep from stepping on their dicks with every stumble (and they stumble a lot), there really isn’t much hope that the economy will come roaring back soon.

I believe it will come back, but it could take some time. It may take a worse calamity to bring us out of it. Remember the Great Depression and World War II…

Nope, we aren’t returning to the way things once were. We will continue to wipe down our delivered groceries with short-supply sanitary wipes, drenched in 70 percent alcohol.

We will continue to throw away our plastic bags instead of re-using them for cat litter collection and disposal.

Masks may become a mainstay. Over time, I think people will relax, but keeping clean and reducing exposure will always be in the back of my mind.

Self-service will take on new meaning. Maybe retail stores won’t even have employees. Just a check out scan through their terminal, posted to your chipped credit card or your smart phone.

That was, after all, the logical conclusion to Sam Walton’s vision a half-century ago. He saw “help” as waste when the customer could do all the work herself. So he built an empire based on very little human capital, lots of systems and logistical work, and partnering with China (ahem — food for another story about not putting all your damned eggs in one basket) to lower prices on everything they sold.

We aren’t returning to normal. This is our normal. Get used to it.

Sure, some people will return to their old ways. However, I think many will not. Time will tell.

But my “normal” is now. The past is gone. It isn’t coming back.

Thoughts? Leave a comment.


Can’t Win? Don’t Try.

A comment I made on a friend’s Facebook post:

I have 4 kids and a wife…in my 20s, I’d like to think at least, I’d be fighting. But now, I’m afraid to put up a lawn sign.

I own some firearms. I’m now afraid I’ll HAVE to use them. That’s the last thing I want to do.

But the crazies are real. They have no filter. No impulse control. A lot of them – their actions are pre-meditated.

I’m with Paul – I hope this looks alarmist in the rearview. But I think it will look woefully inadequate down the road.

We didn’t do what it took to stop it.

I feel like we’re frogs in the warm pot of water and the heat just keeps rising. We can feel it. But we’re trapped in that damned pot.

Hell, we got passports last year (big expense for six) just for this. NOW, because of the shitty pandemic response by this stupid country’s “leadership,” we can’t even leave the fucking place.

Well, I guess we could–and then be cast as “illegals.” LOL

Homer Simpson may have said it best: Can’t win? Don’t try.

Sadly, that about sums it up for me right now.



“Social distancing” is, as to be expected, trending on Google. Depending on whom you listen to, you should stay at least three, six, or ten feet from other humans.

Apparently, the droplets that carry the coronavirus inside a sneeze or a cough travel up to ten feet. Hence, the distance you should stay away from people during this pandemic.

The family and I are doing a very good job with social distancing (also called physical distancing). We simply stay home and stay away from others.

But you know what? I feel a closeness to my family that I haven’t before. We’re cooking together, studying together, and working together.

Yes, we HAVE to. But it doesn’t feel forced. It feels like this is how family really should be.

So in a weird sense, this virus is bringing us closer together, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.