This Sentence No Verb



The title of this blog, ‘This Sentence no Verb’ is self-referential. I love this kind of stuff, and so decided to make it the theme of the blog.  Here are some other self-referential sentences:

  • This sentence contradicts itself; well, no, actually it doesn’t.
  • “Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation” yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation.
  • This is a sentence with “onions,” “lettuce,” “tomato,” and “a side of fries to go.”
  • I am the thought you are now thinking.
  • I didn’t finish this sentence… yet.
  • In this sentence, the concluding three words “were left out.”
  • Please, oh please, include me in your list of self-referential sentences!

Recursion and self-reference is explored in detail in the Pulitzer prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Amazon paperback) by Douglas R. Hofstadter. He discusses many things self-referential, as well as a dazzling array of mathematical, philosophical and computer science topics.  I first encountered this book twenty years ago, and it’s still as amazing today.

Walkin’ and…

Homer Simpson running

A couple of weeks ago, I’m running on the treadmill, and my left hip starts hurting.  I work through it, but the next day it’s really sore, and I can’t run that night.  Long story short, I took a week off, started again, and you guessed it – hip pain.

Looked it up on the Internet, and a guy from New Zealand has a site about it.  Turns out that a weak gluteus maximus can cause hip and leg pain!  If the “muscle recruitment pattern” is off, the femur (thigh bone) doesn’t center properly in the socket.

What to do?  After convincing yourself that this whole thing is true with “Getting to Know Your Hip, Exercises 1-3,” you apply the simple solution:

Engage gluteus maximus at heel strike.

What does this mean?  Tense your buttocks when your foot hits the ground, of course.  When you contract the gluteus maximus, the “gluteal antagonist” muscles clench too, automatically, and the femoral head centralizes in the socket.

So, I started trying this today.  It was pretty funny – here I am, walking in downtown Seattle where I work, mingling in with the crowd as though one of them, “engaging the gluteus maximus” with every step.  It was all I could do to not crack up.  Little did the pedestrians, business people and homeless know what was going on.  Of course, I don’t know either – maybe some anonymous, unknown citizen walked right past me, clenching buttocks with every step, femur centralizing in the socket…

Multitasking – No

Most of us multitask, doing several things at once: TV or music, reading, eating, phone.  Even in the restroom, reading.  Once you get used to this mode, you feel inefficient, even lazy If not busy in this fashion.

But for many tasks, it’s a bad idea.

Most of us can’t concentrate fully on one thing for very long.  Adding more simultaneous tasks just magnifies the chance of distraction.  Take writing: with too many irons in the  fire, suddenly I’m absorbed in a TV show, a book, the Internet. I’ve spent two hours researching a small fact for a story, and done nothing on the story itself.

What is multitasking – working on several tasks simultaneously?  Not quite – it’s switching rapidly between several tasks.  It’s fine for computers, where some operations (most notably disk I/O and network access) are much slower than others.  While a slower task is pending (and usually being handled by a secondary processor), others can be taken care of.

But for us, it’s often different.  Here are some slower activities (equivalent to the computer’s disk I/O) where multitasking may make sense:

  • Conversation.  One can usually tell what the other person is saying well ahead of them saying it – you can think faster than they speak.  Not recommended for one’s significant other (unless you want to multitask with the fist of death).
  • Watching TV
  • Nuclear power station control operator
  • Fighting an octopus

Better to concentrate completely and not multitask when:

  • Driving
  • Watching The Office
  • Writing about multitasking
  • Eating – I think it’s best to put everything away and enjoy your food.

Bottom line: when you really need to get something done, here are some ideas:

  1. Alone in a room with a bare light bulb, paper and pen.
  2. Or, alone in a room with laptop computer, not connected to the Internet.
  3. And, lots of snacks. Let’s not get too crazy here.