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Continuous Train of Thought
House Painting
Kansas and Overpopulation
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20210530 - Roy

Continuous Train of Thought (CTOT)

Enhanced productivity lets your office get more work done per hour. Overtime reduction keeps your labor force sharp. More work with less trauma in fewer hours apart from the family profits everyone. If you invest in the necessary resources.

Knowledge Workers

I will use the term to get along, but Knowledge Worker is misleading. These are thought workers. Knowledge is useless unless a worker thinks about that knowledge in a useful way. Otherwise we are just talking about data storage. It is ironic so little attention is paid to thoughts when they are in fact the "knowledge process" coin of the realm.

Knowledge workers are not manual laborers. Knowledge workers manipulate information using their experience and intelligence to create products where the real means of production are intangible. Management that may extract results from assembly line workers is often egregiously ill-suited to knowledge workers. A wise administrator persuades knowledge workers instead of coercing them. Knowledge worker productivity is a complex topic. It is disheartening to see that complexity routinely profaned by crude Theory-X ideas.

CTOT - Continuous Train of Thought

Continuous Train of Thought (CTOT) describes the productive mental state where a person's full concentration is focused on the task at hand over a contiguous span of time.

CTOT differs from merely paying attention by being active instead of passive, productive rather than consumptive, thinking rather than perceiving. An average adult may pay passive attention for a two hour movie, yet struggle mightily to maintain productive concentration, CTOT, for twenty minutes. Knowledge workers are a subset of the general population characterized by exceptional powers of concentration. Why? To put it colloquially, because thinking is hard.

"The true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention." Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, 2015.

The statement is ironic. Most attention studies examine information consumption. Such studies are sponsored by advertisers, interface designers like Microsoft, websites, entertainment companies, and the like. They are concerned with a client's ability to process presented information. Studies on concentration's effect on knowledge worker productivity are far less common. Yet without knowledge worker production there is no product for client consumption. It seems much of the business world is pushing a horse with their cart.

CTOT is an aptitude, a skill, and an environment. A wise business hires people with the aptitude, trains people to enhance the skill, and provides them the environment. The relationship is hierarchical, so if Human Resources (HR) fails in the hiring process, there is little training or environment can do to optimize productivity. HR's generally poor understanding of CTOT leads to a high hire failure rate, but some people with aptitude eventually make it into your building. The next level, CTOT training, is hard to obtain given the lack of understanding regarding its importance. If I ever have time I may write up such a curriculum. Someday. Which leaves environment.

CTOT is the primary productivity tool for knowledge workers. Think of it as a kind of thought-pipeline management. The work environment must not introduce avoidable CTOT interruptions. Thinking is a difficult process under the best conditions. Yet for many companies, precisely this difficult thing called thinking is their manufacturing process. Given its level of importance and difficulty, workers should expect a quality thinking environment.

You would imagine this last statement all too obvious. Walk into office buildings across the world and note how rarely you encounter quality thinking environments. Our ubiquitous blindness to the thinking environment seems inexplicable. Every time a knowledge worker shifts in her uncomfortable chair, the thought-pipeline is disrupted. Money is lost. Every time a knowledge worker leans forward to squint at his substandard monitor, CTOT is broken. Money is lost. Every time a person's CTOT is broken by invasive cubicle chatter, money is lost. Every time a knowledge worker waits on their computer, fifty years worth of studies tell us productivity suffers.

CTOT Effect on Revenue Growth

CTOT lies at the center of revenue enhancement. The alternatives, hiring more people or working existing staff longer to produce more hours, are not only less profitable, and face the iron rule of diminishing returns, but routinely face more intractable barriers. In many offices, increasing staff is impossible. They are already space bound. Longer hours is often similarly out of bounds. Staff are often already worked far beyond optimal hours. Increasing revenue depends on getting more work out of each hour.

PROFITABILITY IS ENHANCED BY REDUCING THE PERCENTAGE OF WASTED THOUGHTS PER DAY. Stated otherwise, profitability is about increasing concentration. Interruptions, even seemingly minor ones, can hemorrhage profits.

CTOT as Motion Study

CTOT is the bedrock of knowledge worker productivity. Motion studies go back at least as far as Henry Ford. Assembly line productivity was dying the death of a thousand cuts. Wasted motion not only costs its literal delay, but also slows everything through a kind of process friction. That friction increases the cooling load, so to speak. You have the delay's lost time, plus the remediation effort to recover from the delay. It is not unusual to have a process grind out so much friction the majority of the effort goes up in the heat of just getting the beast to run at all. Such an out-of-control process is fiduciarily irresponsible. Harming CTOT in order to save pennies is fiduciarily irresponsible.

CTOT is a knowledge worker's motion study. Have you not noticed how much more you get done nights or weekends when no one is around to disrupt your train of thought? Phone calls and meetings and knocks on the door are unavoidable interruptions. Thinking about how much you hate your chair or waiting on your computer or rubbing your eyes from strain are avoidable. Such delays, accumulated over every minute of every day for every employee, are expensive.

Take computer response times as an example. Studies going back into the 1960's show even small delays in computer response times have significant cognitive effects.

Up To -
0.1 second - Limit for user feeling the system is reacting instantaneously.
1.0 second - Limit for user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though they will notice the delay. User loses feeling of operating directly on the data.
10 seconds - Limit to keep user's attention focused on dialogue with the computer.
Beyond ten seconds - Users shift to other tasks while waiting on computer to finish.

Now you see why computer speed is of great importance. A ten second delay snaps your CTOT. Any action on the computer that takes more than one-tenth of a second introduces some measure of distraction, and thus decreases worker productivity. Only now can we even begin to approach a zero-disruption one-second computing environment. The ideal, a zero-distraction environment where all responses take less than one-tenth second, must await a future of even faster equipment. And much better Windows.

Firms bleeds profitability through avoidable thought-pipeline disruption time and a thousand times again, day after day, year after decade. The cost of the lost productivity dwarfs the remediation cost even before the effect on morale is considered.

CTOT as Respect

When you give workers resources to enhance their productivity, they understand you have invested in them. Investment demonstrates "human resources" is not merely the joke Theory-X managers tell each other before employee-flogging resumes. When you deny workers good equipment you belittle them. You marginalize them. Of yes, we notice. It is particularly insulting when the equipment is to do a better job making you money. How many companies think so little of their workers they starve them of profit-making resources?

The cost of disrespecting your workers over the price of a chair or monitor, for example, is severe. Poor morale disrupts CTOT, and does so continuously. Discomfort harms CTOT. Delay disrupts the thought-pipeline. Some days bring such CTOT chaos I wonder how this sort of firm makes any money at all.

The obvious fact about knowledge workers is you cannot really tell how much of their knowledge they give you, how much of their creative energy they invest in your product, how closely they run to the edge of their productive ability. So much of what you wish to buy from a knowledge worker is not visible. Is not worker morale worth the price of quality equipment?

Environmental CTOT Examples

How does environment affect revenue through its effect on CTOT? We will look at two examples, namely Chair and Cubicle.


Say a cheap chair distracts a user ten seconds per hour due to discomfort, as compared to a good chair. This is hardly an unrealistic penalty for using a cheap chair. The cheap chair directly costs you over a minute every day in time lost. Let us plug up some numbers so we can analyze the chair decision. A rough but not useless hourly rate can be obtained by dividing firm revenue by total employee hours.

Assume firm earns $4,000,000 annual revenue.
Assume firm has 40 employees.
Assume cheap chair costs $250 and has a 5 year life.
Assume good chair costs $2,000 and has a 10 year life.
Assume 8 hours per workday per employee.
Assume 5 workdays per week.
5 work days per week * 52 weeks per year = 260 work days per year

$4,000,000 revenue / 260 days = $15,384 firm revenue per day.
$15,384 / 40 employees = $384.60 firm revenue per employee per day.
$384.60 / 8 hours = $48.08 firm revenue per employee per hour.

For simplicity sake let us go with $50 per hour.

8 hours * 10 seconds lost time = 80 seconds lost time per day per employee.
260 days * 80 seconds = 20,800 seconds lost time per year per employee.
20,800 seconds / 60 = 346 minutes per year.
346 minutes per year / 60 = 5.7 hours.
5.7 hours per year * $50 per hour = $285 in lost time per employee per year.
$285 per year in time lost * 5 year cheap chair life = $1,425 lost revenue per cheap chair.

But the cheap chair's life is half a good chair's life, so double the loss.

$1425 * 2 = $2,850 loss.

That $2,850 is loss, not the cost of two chairs.

$250 chair + $250 chair + $2,850 loss = $3,350 ten year cost
of two cheap chairs that cause 10 second @ hour distraction versus one good chair.

So what looked like a great "savings" of $250 for a cheap chair instead of $2,000 for a good chair turns out to have squandered $1,350 solely to buy extra user discomfort. More than half the price of a second good chair spent to instead produce user discomfort. Too many companies operate based on superficial cost analysis.

Profitability turns out to be heavily dependent on avoiding a build up of small delays.

A knowledge worker cannot be productive eight hours out of eight. These are not mindless drones, and knowledge work is hard. Were it not hard you would hire cheaper employees. Yes, people waste time talking at the coffee pot or using the restroom, but that is because they are people. People with exceptional powers of concentration, but still people. To say they waste time already in no way invalidates CTOT. You have pointed out the unavoidable time "wasted" with employees being people in contrast to the completely avoidable time wasted by a substandard work environment.

Say a knowledge worker's capacity is two-hundred (200) productive thoughts per day, or twenty-five (25) thoughts per hour. At 50% efficiency this leaves one-hundred (100) monetarily-useful thoughts per day, or roughly thirteen (13) thoughts per hour, every hour they are in the office. I suspect one-hundred productive thoughts per day is too difficult to maintain long term, but these are exceptional people.

Use the previously calculated $384.60 revenue each employee must produce every day.
$384.60 * 260 days = $99,996 per year per employee

260 work-days * 100 thoughts @ day = 26,000 thoughts @ year @ person (50% efficiency).

$99,996 revenue @ person / 26,000 thoughts = each thought must generate $3.85 in revenue.

Now look at these numbers from the other way around. Each worker has one-hundred opportunities every day to lose a $3 thought. Do that once a day and you get 260 * $3 = $780 lost productivity a year. Your chair can easily cost you a third the cost of a good chair every year. Just let its discomfort cost you one useful thought per day. Over the ten year life of a good chair, the cheap chair will have squandered $7,800 - nearly the cost of four good chairs, from the CTOT loss of one thought per day. How easy to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Profitability is about lowering the percentage of wasted thoughts per day. Stated otherwise, profitability is about increasing concentration. Interruptions, even tiny ones, can hemorrhage profits. It is ironic assembly lines have long known productivity is the most effective way to increase profit. They routinely spend substantial sums increasing worker productivity. Knowledge firms seem largely not to have gotten the memo. We spend real money on IT infrastructure then cheap out on the factor that makes it all work. PEOPLE.


CTOT explains why cubicle farms are a poor design. Distractions. Distractions. Cubicle farms are an obvious yet ill-considered notion to save money by giving workers less than their own office. Distractions. Life is full of easy yet terrible solutions.

Offices encourage people to stay on task. Cubicle farms promulgate distractions. Everyone in the bullpen, participant or no, can scarcely avoid being distracted by conversations too trivial to engage in were anyone required to even rise from their seat. Or people talking to themselves. Or a neighbor's phone conversation. A cubicle farm is productivity death-by-design. Cubicle farms are a bad idea. They have always been a bad idea. Life is rife with bad ideas nonetheless implemented.

An office tells the employee you value their contribution to the company. Pack 'em in! conveys the opposite. A cubicle makes the person wonder if you would, if you could, give them nothing but a plastic folding chair in the parking lot. Toiling in a cubicle prairie-dog village is discouraging. People hate them, and you should too. The demarcation of humans into employees or prairie dogs perpetrates that noxious Old World pecking-order. American caste. An office is a CTOT production tool, not a merit badge. If an employee contributes so little to the company year upon year upon year, too little to provide them an office, should they still work for you?

Obviously, remediating the effect of a poor chair is easier than restructuring a deficient building. But the CTOT wastage of the building is likely many times that of even the poorest chair. I hope to bring forward the conversation and consideration of Continuous Train of Thought. Millions of thought workers so much at the heart of modern society have yet to receive their own paradigm shift; their own Industrial Revolution.



20210424 - Roy

House Painting
Optimized for cedar lap siding.

01. Remove hardware
02. Repair/replace any rot
03. Power wash - do not fuzz the siding with too great a pressure
04. Let dry
05. Set nails so below surface of siding
06. Scrape - do not go crazy and rip the wood up
07. Power wash
08. Dry
09. Sand
10. Scrub wash by hand - old paintbrush works as the scrubber
11. Dry
12. Brush on penetrator - see below
13. Dry - longer than normal due to penetrator oils
14. Fill nail holes with putty
15. Caulk every crack and seam - resist urge to skimp this step
16. Dry
17. Prime
18. Dry
19. Paint
20. Dry
21. Paint second coat
22. Dry
23. Reinstall hardware


Basic ideas -

Paint does not stick to rotten wood. -- reason to repair rot
Paint does not stick to dirt. -- reason to wash
Paint does not stick to wet wood. -- reason to let it dry
Paint does not stick to rust. -- reason to set and putty nails
Paint does not stick to flaking paint. -- reason to scrape
Paint does not stick to fuzz. -- reason to sand

Another reason to set nails is so you can scrape. Otherwise your scraper catches on the nail heads.

Penetrator is equal parts turpentine, Thompson Waterseal, and boiled linseed oil. You may add a quart of 100% tung oil (not varnish) to the three gallons above. Penetrator's role is for the turpentine to carry the oil through the remaining paint and rejuvenate its bond with the wood. Penetrator also rejuvenates the oils of the parched bare wood. Lastly, it seals the raw wood surface so it does not wick all the primer away from the surface.

Actually applying paint is the easy part of the job. It is the sixteen steps before the first drop of primer that is the real work. It also stands to reason most paint jobs fail. Most paint jobs skip almost every one of the sixteen preparatory steps. These steps embody the focus of painting a house - the bond between wood and paint.

Water behind paint will lift it. Every seam, crack, and hole will allow water to get behind the paint. You need a watertight seal that keeps the water off the wood. Otherwise it is impossible to get the paint to stay adhered to the wood. Paint's role is largely to protect the sealed surface created by your preparation.

If there is anything innovative in this housepainting procedure, it is the penetrator. All the other steps are ones the paint can tells you but which most people ignore. Penetrator provides a uniform surface over both old paint and raw wood to which the new paint can adhere. In that sense you paint the penetrator surface that in turns adheres to the wood.

This is just an overview of the painting process. It should suffice for people with some construction experience to create a lasting paint job. Like all things, the more you know the better. The science and art of painting is a large field far beyond the scope of this little document. The hope is to equip you to ask better questions of the world of paint, and better understand its answers.



20210421 - Roy


The human conception of infinity is flawed.

We say the words. We can use the symbol. We draw the diagrams. Yet we cannot actually imagine it. As one might expect for beings in a material universe without so much as one actual infinity. Here, all our infinities are theoretical.

When we use infinity words regarding God, such as omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, it is vital to keep in mind our oh so finite ability to even imagine such concepts. These characteristics of God are legitimate topics of conversation, indeed essential, as long as we do not forget our understanding of infinity is incomplete. Even the wording logic of such a phrase as, "Understanding of infinity is incomplete," highlights the inadequacy.

Humanity has repeatedly, and all too often catastrophically, failed to evince the requisite humility. In our arrogance we try to lock God in a box of His infinity, ridiculously contradictory as that even sounds.

One demonstration of this illogical logic is predestination. At its full extent, predestination claims there is no freewill, no choice of any kind. Every thought, raindrop, and flower was locked and settled before time began because God knew it would be so. This doctrine seems more closely related to the Hindu idea of Mahavishnu dreaming existence than it is legitimate Christian theology, but predestination is certainly not an uncommon doctrine. See Calvin. Blame would thus seem only a joke, since you are compelled to every sin by God's combination of omniscience and infallibility. Choice is an utter illusion. Again, this strikes me as more Far Eastern than Christian.

The underlying logic of predestination is that God's infinity precludes true choice. More to the point, that it is impossible for God to create a universe containing true choice. The logic is that God cannot escape the box of His omniscience. Flee any idea dependent on God-in-box.

Of course by this I am not speaking of God keeping His promises. Promises are constraints God puts on Himself by choice. Because God cannot lie and because God is a promise keeper who watches over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12) God by choice binds Himself whenever He makes us a promise. That infinity should deign to constrain Himself for the sake of we finites is one of the most astounding aspect of God.

Of course we finites are not content with the constraints God puts on Himself for our sake. We want to build our own boxes in which to keep God. Predestination is an apparently pious box which is actually heresy. God is not a murderer, thief, rapist, liar, and adulterer. God does not cause us to sin.

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man." James 1:13

Moreover, predestination's God-in-a-box is not actually even logical. Were it true, Jesus' redemption would have been incomplete, a failure He was unable to make universally available.

"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came on all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came on all men to justification of life." Romans 5:18

Surely predestination's denial of Romans 5:18 is a bigger problem for theologians than the possibility of free will.

Predestination renders creation vain, as if life were some kind of previously-recorded movie. But we know God does not act pointlessly.

Predestination is a religious God-in-an-infinity-box, not a Biblical doctrine. The proof is so obvious centuries have looked right through it, blind.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:5-8

Philippians 2:5-8 is the explicit description of omnipotence. Understand.
He transcends even that.

"Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:17-18

Jesus laid down His life, and took it up again, by choice. This fact stands at the very center of Christianity. Jesus is not His power's captive. He can lay it down and pick it up again at will. Nor did laying aside that power render Him other than God.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8

Jesus hungered and grew weary. Jesus slept, yet remained God. Jesus transcended those infinite power characteristics precisely because they are His characteristics and not His essence. Jesus is more than His attributes. He was, is, and will always be God. Jesus could take on flesh yet remain God because He is not bound by His power any more than He is bound by your power of imagination.

The heart of Christianity is that Jesus's power does not constrain Him, as evidenced by the Incarnation. Yet some people who think themselves clever try to use Jesus' power to bind Him to things like a predestination universe without choice. How blind.

In some measure, the greatest irony of our blindness regarding God's transcendence of His power, despite it lying at the very center of Christianity, is with whom we share that blindness.

"However, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." I Corinthians 2:6-8

Satan too was blind to the fact Jesus is not bound by His power. A power for which Satan sold his soul.

"How you are fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, who weakened the nations! You said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." Isaiah 14:12-15

This is why Satan was blind to the Incarnation as described in I Corinthians 2:6-8 above. He could not imagine laying aside the power for which he sold his soul. So it is no surprise we too forget Jesus unbound, and thus wander into errors like predestination. Be wiser than the devil about putting God in a box.

When God tells you to choose, He means it. When God tells you to decide, it is a real choice being placed before you. The fact you have difficulty understanding the possibility of choice, even though laying aside His power is at the very center of Christianity, is to be expected.

The human conception of infinity is flawed.



20160703 - Roy

Kansas and Overpopulation

There is a good deal of talk about the world being overpopulated. The irony is that as the population has shifted to the tiny geographic areas called cities, an increasing amount of land in the United States is far less inhabited than it was in even recent history. It is understandable for urban dwellers to feel crowded, but it is a logic failure to project that onto the whole world. Consider the numbers.

US Population = 321,368,864
US Area = 3,794,101 square miles
US Density = 84.70224 people per square mile

Kansas Population = 2,911,641
Kansas Area = 82,278 square miles
Kansas Density = 35.39 people per square mile


1  New Jersey 1,210

2  Rhode Island 1,017

3  Massachusetts 858

4  Connecticut 743

5  Maryland 611

6  Delaware 475

7  New York 417

8  Florida 365

9  Pennsylvania 286

10  Ohio 283

Were Kansas to have the population density of more crowded states, what percentage of the US population could live in Kansas?

 New Jersey 1,210 99,556,380 31%

 Rhode Island 1,017 83,676,726 26%

 Massachusetts 858 70,594,524 22%

 Connecticut 743 61,132,554 19%

 Maryland 611 50,271,858 16%

 Delaware 475 39,082,050 12%

 New York 417 34,309,926 11%

 Florida 365 30,031,470 9%

 Pennsylvania 286 23,531,508 7%

 Ohio 283 23,284,674 7%

So if Kansas had the population density of New Jersey, it would hold nearly one third of the entire population of the United States. That would sure leave a lot of ground free for farming in the other 49 states.

Looked at another way - What if we combined the five central plains states?

Kansas 82,278

Nebraska 76,824

South Dakota 75,811

North Dakota 69,001

Oklahoma 68,595

These five states combine for 372,509 square miles. For context, Alaska alone is 570,641 square miles.

If you use the density of the more crowded states on the area of these five states, the number of people these states could hold is surprising.

 New Jersey 1,210 450,735,890

 Rhode Island 1,017 378,841,653

 Massachusetts 858 319,612,722

 Connecticut 743 276,774,187

So with the population density a little higher than Massachusetts, the states of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Oklahoma would hold the entire US population. That would leave 45 states entirely unpopulated. Sure does sound like the U.S.A. is overpopulated. What was I thinking?

Looked at another way - Current US density is 85 people per square mile. Double it to 170 people per square mile. So if the US were to have the population density of GEORGIA, 186 people per square mile, it could hold over 640 million people.



20210420 - Roy

I have long resisted a blog, despite being an author with a website, because I certainly do not need another writing project. I am already deep in a time deficit. Yet I find myself writing little position papers so to speak about things that interest me. Those pages wind up in a box by my desk where even I rarely see them again. In addition, some of those papers are timely, such that they will expire in this box.

Since it is possible someone somewhere might also find some of them of some interest, to sum things up I decided it was time to set them down in a visible format. A vague endorsement, but an endorsement nonetheless.

So a blog it is. I apologize in advance for the blog's poor care and feeding. I certainly do not have time to blog on schedule.





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