Movement—but to where?

I’m off tomorrow (Tuesday) to Tofino for 4 days. Then it’s a house/cat/dogsit in Ucluelet for a week. Then it’s … well, i really don’t know. There’s a standing offer to be “houseboy” for an executive-type gal in Victoria, though neither of us seems to have any idea what that means.

But there are also a handful of Cal 29 sailboats for sale in the region, and having checked one out today for the first time i think one of them may become my future home. Or not. I have trouble making up my mind.

Which is where YOU come in today. This is a good time to test out wordpress’s new user poll feature.

The Recovery Ratio

Here’s a mathematical argument for why you should be working 4 days a week, not 5.

At first glance it doesn’t seem to make that big a difference:

4 days out of 7 = 4/7 = 57% of your days spent working

5 days out of 7 = 5/7 = 71% of your days spent working

The 5-day week only adds 14% more to your burden of work, compared to a 4-day week, but adds 25% more hours  to your workweek, and thus money to your paycheque. Worth it, no?

Short answer: NO. What the simple-minded analysis above doesn’t take into account is the amount of recovery time you get, relative to the amount you work. In other words, the number of days you are ground down by the economic machine versus the number of days you are uplifted by doing your own thing. I call this the Recovery Ratio, and it measures out like so:


The “RR” is calculated by the division (recovery days) / (work days). The standard work week gives a baseline ratio of 2/5 = 0.40.

Note what happens when you work a 4-day week with a 3-day weekend — the RR jumps to 0.75, close to twice the baseline ratio. In other words, you get almost twice as much net recovery — plenty to offset the 20% drop in pay you’d have to take.

The RR really starts jumping into the stratosphere when you progress (i chose that word deliberately) to the 3-day and even the 2-day work weeks, which have about three and six times the net recovery as the standard week.

So if you’re finding the standard 5-day work week a bit, well, inhuman, maybe you should consider angling for a 4-day week. Seriously, this thesis has been tested and proven by many experimenters in the field, myself included.

Not to mention that if we are ever going to get this juggernaut of a consumer culture under control, we’re all going to have to shift our priorities to more satisfaction and less stuff. So the 4-day week is the moral thing to do as well!

Thou clouted clay-brained bum-bailey!

One last time-waster. Go here for your custom Shakespearean insult. Thou vain spur-galled scut.

UPDATE: Some of you fawning earth-vexing dewberries have been complaining that the link doesn’t work. Works for me every time, thou beslubbering beef-witted barnacles. See?

Try cut-and-paste with the web address: If that doesn’t work, click REFRESH. If that doesn’t work, do this Google search for “shakesperean insult“. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to invent your own insults. May i suggest you start with the word “fucking”?

Double take

Goldsmiths art college student Sam Spenser's installation Bloom in London, Nov. 2007

Trees and brollies — talk about WestCoast-o-philic art! How i’d love to see something like this appear in Ukee or Toff. Nothing shapes WestCoast life like rain, but for all its appearance in the art of the region you’d think we live in a blooming desert.

This is the gift of good public art: surprise, astonishment, a lift out of the ordinary. In my travels across the country these past months i’ve paid a lot of attention to public art and what it adds to a place.

[Step up on soapbox] As a Pacific Rim Arts Society board member, public art is one of the things i hope to bring to our communities. [Wave arms, fall off soapbox.]

Thanks to Urlesque — exposing bits of the Web for the down-low.

Inflating the lit quotient

I know i’m mostly regurgitating the words of others and contributing little original thought on this blog these days — ’tis the widespread curse of blogging (and often of journalism) in the modern world.

In my defence, it’s an unaccustomed thrill to have a good computer and fast Internet access, so i’ve been ranging widely and indiscriminately in search of reading, amusing and wanking material. (Perhaps you didn’t need to know that last.) I’ll be losing the access soon, so i’m going at it compulsively now.

In the interests of literary pomp, here are a couple of thoughts plucked from the Holt Uncensored blog of SanFran editorial consultant Pat Holt .

One includes a cardinal sin of amateur writing (even among professionals) that runs rampant in small-town scribbling, my own included:

“He wanted to know but couldn’t understand what she had to say, so he waited until she was ready to tell him before asking what she meant.”

Something is conveyed in this sentence, but who cares? The writing is so flat, it just dies on the page. You can’t fix it with a few replacement words — you have to give it depth, texture, character. Here’s another:

“Bob looked at the clock and wondered if he would have time to stop for gas before driving to school to pick up his son after band practice.” True, this could be important — his wife might have hired a private investigator to document Bob’s inability to pick up his son on time — and it could be that making the sentence bland invests it with more tension….  Most of the time, though, a sentence like this acts as filler. It gets us from A to B, all right, but not if we go to the kitchen to make a sandwich and find something else to read when we sit down.

Flat writing is a sign that you’ve lost interest or are intimidated by your own narrative. It shows that you’re veering toward mediocrity, that your brain is fatigued, that you’ve lost your inspiration. So use it as a lesson. When you see flat writing on the page, it’s time to rethink, refuel and rewrite.

And another on the self-inflicted degradation of publishing in general:

That same Page Six mentality that turns the arts into a gossip machine has moved the focus of publishing away from books that are literature and put the spotlight on the authors who create literature. Roth doesn’t mean we’re honoring authors more than books –- quite the contrary. He means we’re exploiting famous authors by writing biographies that deliciously and salaciously accent their hidden pasts, their secret inspirations, their dark side. It’s more lucrative to do that, he says, than to publish serious literary works.

In Roth’s latest novel, “Exit Ghost,” he especially indicts “cultural journalism” as presented and practiced by the New York Times.

“Cultural journalism is tabloid gossip disguised as an interest in ‘the arts,’ ” a character protests in a letter to the Times, “and everything that it touches is contracted into what it is not. Who is the celebrity, what is the price, what is the scandal? What transgression has the writer committed, and not against the exigencies of literary aesthetics but against his or her daughter, son, mother, father, spouse, lover, friend, publisher, or pet?”

I’ve gotta say, i concur. I refuse to be sucked into the cult of celebrity, but it’s so in-the-air that I too would probably piss my pants if i ever by chance shared an elevator with Britney Spears. Though i suppose i’d have to recognize her first.