My Theory of Traffic Cones

I have plenty of crackpot theories, mostly I use them to torture the kids (bacon prevents swine flu, Chick-fil-a prevents bird flu, etc.)

But I have a much less crazy theory, my Theory of Traffic Cones.

It works like this. People won’t move a traffic cone. Even if it doesn’t look like any work is being done, no one wants a piano dropped on their car. The cartoons we saw as children convinced us that pianos are lifted to the 3rd floor all the time and regularly fall. Parking cones prevent this. We are also afraid that our car will get run over by a steamroller, towed to a junkyard three blocks down from hell, or smashed by firefighters to get at a burning building, all because we moved a cone and parked in the spot. None of this is rational, which is why the theory of traffic cones works.

I mean a traffic cone, Not the little six in soccer practice cones. Big cones, with reflective tape and a little dirt, work better. If the cone has an official stencil that’s a plus, as long as it’s relevant. A stencil from another city is a negative not a positive. Something like Public Works, that’s a winner.

Throw the cone in your trunk and park. When you leave, pull out, drop the cone and drive away. no one will move it. When you come back, the traffic cone goes back in the trunk. This is perfect for hard-to-park places like college dorms, crowded apartments, etc. Places you regularly go back to where you need to save a spot.

Don’t make this too obvious. Move around some and pick different spaces occasionally when you can get away with it. You can also save your cone for when it’s really important, like saving a parking space near the front at work when you have a big presentation the next day.

It’s a hack. A weird life hack. People are afraid to move a traffic cone they know nothing about. A flashing barricade or a barrel will work as well, a cone is just easier. Use it to your advantage.

Downsides to Weight Loss

I’m not going to dwell on this in future writing and I certainly don’t want anyone to use this as an excuse, but their are few downsides to weight loss. I dropped 45 lbs last year with a few more to go, but here’s what’s been weird about the results.

  1. I’m cold all the time. I live in Florida and now I wear a hoodie in any weather below 85 F.
  2. People want to congratulate you, but they don’t know how. I get questions like “Did you want to lose the weight?” Yes, yes I did. People are afraid that I got sick and they don’t want to congratulate me on getting sick. I get it. Just tell someone they look good and move on.
  3. Weird things don’t fit…like my wedding ring…or the temporary silicon wedding ring I bought when my wedding ring didn’t fit. Now I’m just waiting until I hit my goal to get my ring resized. (In fairness, COVID made it a lot more difficult to get the ring resized last year.)
  4. The store still won’t have your size. I’m now a large/extra large in shirt depending on if the materials will shrink. Way better than a 2x/3x. But now I walk into a store and find S,M,2x,3x…grrrrr.
  5. You can’t go back to eating the way you ate before. What got you fat in the first place will get you fat again. Like women having a baby, once the body figures something out, it gets better at it.
  6. You still have to deal with all the stuff. Emotional eaters still have to deal with their emotions, they just can’t use food. Stress eaters still have to deal with stress, just not with food.
  7. There is a lot of support out there and a lot of people who subtly try to sabotage your goals (you can have one piece of cake). Supportive people and neutral people are a huge help. I’m fine with neutral. Just let me do my thing. Avoid unsupportive people. Maybe ask them to be less helpful.

New Lizard Wong Book Coming

I’ve started work on a new Lizard Wong book. No details yet, just that it’s in the works.

What’s in your backyard?

I live in the oh, so boring suburbs, and yet I know things go on in my backyard at night. I see the tracks the next morning and I know we have animals partying all night long. I also know we have black bears that travel through the neighborhood. We’re near a wildlife area and apparently, bears don’t pay attention to signs.

One day I got curious about the party that goes on in my backyard every night. A relative offered up a game camera and I was all set. This was my first pass so I screwed up the time somehow, but this footage was circa September 2020.

Daily Rituals

Late in 2020 I read Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book takes a look at how 161 various artists work, or worked, using a mix of diaries, first-hand accounts, interviews, articles, etc. The list includes notables like Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky. It’s a diverse group for sure. There was some tedium to just reading the different schedules people keep, but a couple of things stood out.

4 Hours

Many, many of the artists, maybe most, focused on their craft from 3-4 hours a day. That’s it. They wrote, painted, sculpted, whatever, for about 4 hours. The revelation here was that it’s less about spending an entire day doing something, and more about intense focus for a shorter period of time.

Consistency

That intense focus for a shorter period of time was also very consistent. It was at least every weekday, for some, every day. What it was not, was painting into the wee hours of the morning or writing when the mood struck. A workman-like approach is as important for creative endeavors as it is for any other important thing we’re trying to do.

Morning

Without doing the math, at least a plurality of artists worked better in the morning. Somewhere in the 7a to 1p timeframe, they found 4 hours that worked for them. Some artists were late risers and would get rolling around 9a, but they’d push for 3-4 hours and break for lunch.

Not everyone does their best work in the morning, but a lot of people do. The key here is to figure out when we do our best work and use that time for intense focus. Hint: it’s probably morning.

The Mundane

If all these artists only “worked” 4 hours a day, what were they doing the rest of the day? Was this a collection of lazy Bohemians? Not all. The list of global artists was extensive spanning hundreds of years. Everyone was different, I’m just pointing out patterns that struck me.

Many, many of the artists profiled took some downtime in the afternoon. They went for walk, took a nap, etc. Yes, many of them drank and would head somewhere for a drink earlier than we would today. Reading between the lines, they were also doing work at the bar or the pub in the afternoon and early evening. This is where word of mouth, the social media of the day, spread to others. Being in a consistent place at a consistent time was part of communication. If you needed to talk to an artist, you could find them every afternoon at their favorite watering hole.

The key, successful artists tackled the more mundane aspects of their art during a less productive time of the day.

Saying No

Finally, a key theme was saying ‘No’. A relentless focus on trying to do something great requires NOT doing a lot of other things. That means saying ‘No’, a lot.

When I think about a typical corporate job, taking control of your calendar by saying ‘No’ or delegating tasks to others allows us to consistently spend our most productive time of the day intensely focused on our most important items, but only for a few hours. After that, there is plenty of time to deal with the more routine items.

Yes, this is a bit of an ideal, but shooting for the ideal and falling short can still make us much more productive today than we were yesterday.