Friday, October 17, 2014

Hilarious Email By Satoshi

Dear all,

I didn’t like to see plastic bags left in the sink for a few days, and I threw them away.
If any of you kept those bags there for any professional or scientific reasons (I believe it’s not the case though), please label them.
If you still need those bags, please pick them up from the trash bin.

The electric kettle was empty.
Please fill it when the water level is low after you use it.
It’s bad to keep the kettle empty, because 1) heating the empty kettle can cause fire, and 2) the next person are not happy.
To fill the electric kettle, you can use the metal kettle in the shelf above the sink.

Cleaning up garbage and filling the empty kettle don’t produce any scientific data for your future publications and never strengthens your CV, however you still need to do these things, I think.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Pros and cons of genetic testing

FROM JapanTimes [Link]

More and more companies from fields other than medical services are entering the market for genetic testing, which make it possible for people to easily find out the risks of their developing certain types of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

It is necessary for people to correctly understand the nature of genetic testing available, including its accuracy, before they decide to undergo the tests.

Recent entrants into the market include Internet firms like Yahoo! and DeNA. The number of companies offering genetic testing services more than doubled from 340 in 2009 to around 740 in 2012. Many more companies are planning to enter the business because genetic testing services are not a medical activity and does not require a license.

The companies, which are providing what is considered to be an information service, entrust the job of actual examination of genes to testing institutes.

Still, commercialization of the services carries some problems. The selling point of commercial genetic testing is that by sending a mouth swab sample to a testing institute, one can know his or her risks of developing various diseases. The biggest issue is the accuracy of such tests.

A genetic testing venture 23andMe, in which Google has invested, has started offering the Personal Genome Service to “provide health reports on 254 diseases and conditions” for slightly less than $100. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2013 ordered the company to halt the sales of its saliva collection kit due to concerns over the accuracy of its genetic examinations.

People need to be aware that the results of genetic testing only have a high degree of correlation with the risks for certain diseases. In addition to genes, acquired factors such as diet, smoking, drinking, stress, lack of sleep and lack of exercise are also responsible for some diseases, including cancer.

Users of genetic testing services should know that the discovery in genetic examinations of the presence of irregularities that raise the risk of developing certain diseases does not necessarily mean they will develop them.

So, it is not wise to rely solely on genetic testing. The results of testing may cause some people to be unduly pessimistic about their future. The providers of genetic testing services must be careful when explaining test results to people.

The providers also should handle data on individual examinees’ genes with utmost care because they are personal information. Leakage of such data must be prevented at any cost. There are moves among testing institutes to use data from genetic testing for research purposes. There must be no lapses in the management of data.

The government needs to quickly set down rules to ensure the reliability of commercial genetic testing. At the very least, providers of such services should be required to make clear to users the purpose and limits of tests, their possible disadvantages and the scientific grounds of their clinical usefulness, as well as company policy on handling personal information including genetic data acquired from the test and the relevant information on testing institutes.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What I learned from 23andMe - Part 1 - I am an European Decendant

Well, it perhaps the most striking thing when I saw the report from 23andMe - my maternal origin is from Europe, which can be put in another way: "I am an European Decendant". How can this be possible? Anyone who know me personally might thought I have origin from Mongolia but seriously no one will think about Europe.

Let me explain this story, in the genetic testing, polymorphism sites in Mitochondria DNA were also examined together with genomic DNA. As it well known, mitochondria can only be inherited from the mother, therefore by checking the mitochondria DNA, it is possible to trace back the maternal origin. In my case I have a haplotype U5a1b1, which shared by more than 90% of Scandinavia Europeans. The most plausible explanation is that My maternal ancestor might come to Asia through the silk road around 1400 years ago in Tang Dynasty. What an amazing history.

The Distribution of U5 haplogroup 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014



ARGV: Argument Vector
c(): combine ? not sure

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Useful Mac Terminal Commands

Here are some terminal commands which I wish I knew earlier.

pushd and popd are used to store and change directories.
A trick is by using pushd without any parameter, you can
move back and forth between two folders.

a short example
pushd ~/data
pushd ~/analysis
pushd # now the directory is changed to ~/data
pushd # now the directory is changed to ~/analysis

2.clean the screen
This is same as clear command but I prefer to type 2 keystrokes vs 6 keystrokes
In addition, it also works in the console of Rstudio where clear does not.

control + L 

3.screen for ssh connection
When executing a program in a remote computer by ssh,
if the connection lost, the execution will be aborted,
screen command can solve this perfectly.

4.alias for frequently used commands
alias ep="nano ~/.bash_profile"
alias sp="source ~/.bash_profile"
alias cdr="cd ~/Documents/repo/"
alias cdd="cd ~/Dropbox/"
alias ll="ls -Gl"
alias play="~/apps/spotify play"
alias pause="~/apps/spotify pause"
alias n="~/apps/spotify next"
alias p="~/apps/spotify prev"

5.move to the beginning or the end of the line
Control + a # to the beginning
Control + e # to the end 

6.Execute last command as root - sudo !!
A short example - forget to add sudo when install ruby gem
$ gem install gnuplot
Fetching: gnuplot-2.6.2.gem (100%)
ERROR:  While executing gem ... (Gem::FilePermissionError)
        You don't have write permissions for the /Library/Ruby/Gems/2.0.0 directory.

Use sudo !! as a shortcut for sudo gem install gnuplot

$ sudo !!
sudo gem install gnuplot
Fetching: gnuplot-2.6.2.gem (100%)
Successfully installed gnuplot-2.6.2
Parsing documentation for gnuplot-2.6.2
Installing ri documentation for gnuplot-2.6.2

6.Open current directory in Finder from command line

open .

7.Edit bash_profile to enhance the functionality of shell

# change the style and color of the prompt 
PS1='\e[0;32m\u: \e[0;31m\w \e[0;30m'

# add autocomplete for git
if [ -f ~/.git-completion.bash ]; then
   source ~/.git-completion.bash

8.Name the tab

# add a function to bash_profile 
# nt for nametab
function nt {
        echo -ne "\033]1;$1\007"

Monday, July 7, 2014


Personal Blogs

TextMate Shortcuts

It is super handy to deal with some routine yet trivial tasks with a few TextMate tricks.
Here I list some shortcuts which I found most useful.

  • Column wise selection
    Option + Left Drag with mouse
    This allows selection and direct editing on vertical columns.

  • Auto completion of the code
    In many IDEs, Tab is used for auto completion, similarly you can use Esc key to do this.

  • Find and Replace in Project Folder
    Command + Shift + F
    This allows quick replace in a bunch of files inside the same project folder.

  • Selection of whole line
    Control + Command + left Arrow or Right Arrow
    Shift + Command + L

  • Change Indent
    Command + [ or ]
    This is very useful for Python when there is a block of code need to be indented.

  • Comment current line
    Command + /
    If you do Command + / two times, it will uncomment the line. You can also first selected the code block and then comment all together.

  • clip board history viewer
    Control + Option + Command + v

  • Duplicate current line
    Control + Shift + d

  • Insert Comment Banner
    Control + Shift + b

  • Open Home directory in sidebar
    Shift + Command + h

  • Insert Burdle Item
    Control + Command + t

  • I did a google search during the writing and found a number of great posts and resources:
    Essential TextMate Shortcuts, Tips and Techniques
    TextMate shortcuts you should be using
    PDF version of the TextMate cheat Sheet.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Quick fix for knitr and PDF under MAC - Rstudio

    Mac marverick + Knitr + Rstudio +  Pandoc for PDF
    A quick fix for the error
    mktextfm ecrm1000
    LaTeX Error: File `framed.sty' not found.

    sudo tlmgr install ec
    sudo tlmgr install framed


    Friday, May 30, 2014

    Chrome Shortcuts

    • Toggles the bookmarks bar on and off.
      ⌘ - Shift - B

    • Opens the bookmark manager..
      Option - ⌘ - B

    • Select the current link address..
      ⌘ - L
      L is for link.

    • Open the Download Tab..
      ⌘ - Shift - J

    • Change to Next or Previous Tabs
      Option - ⌘ - Left Arrow or Right Arrow

    • Bookmark All Open Tabs
      ⌘ - Shift - D

    If you want to modify the default shortcuts, follow this youtube video.

    Chrome 鼠标快捷切换Tab

    用macbook pro的时候可以用Jitouch 设置手指左敲或右敲来实现。
    在台式机系统,因为没有触摸板,一个比较好的替代是用鼠标滚轮的左拨或右拨来触发快捷键 COMMAND + OPTION + LEFT (RIGHT)。 另外CONTROL + Tab 也可以切换,只不过是单行循环的。没有左右切换方便。
    具体设置可以在Logi control center里修改。

    Thursday, May 29, 2014

    Gencode and Fantom Project

    Gencode 是什么

    Gencode是Encode Project 框架内的一个旨在对人类和小鼠基因组进行全面注释的项目。目前人类 Gencode 最新更新是V19,此前两个比较大的更新是V7 和 V10。
    使用时以具体需要为准,例如Brain Span的data 全部以Gencode 10 为reference 生成。

    Gencode 的数据可以以GTF 格式下载,也可以用 MySQL,或者Perl,Biomart 等取得。
    关于GTF的说明,可见这里。GTF 是 Generic Feature Format 的缩写。
    GTF 文件可以在R 中 用GenomicFeatures package 转换为TranscriptDb 对象。

    Fantom Project :

    Fantom project 是以RIKEN为核心,全面识别不同组织,细胞株的转录组,增强子,启动子的基因组项目。这个项目中广泛使用了 CAGE 方法,提供了高分辨率的细胞调控元件的序列。

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    Whatsapp 通话统计

    拿R 统计一下whatsapp的发消息的时段和频率。

    cut -d " " -f 1,2  WhatsApp\ Chat.txt > ~/Desktop/whatsappFeb-May.txt

    text <- read.table("whatsappFeb-May.txt", head=FALSE,, sep="\t")
    text$V2 <- strptime(text$V1,"%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S:") #将字符串转换成时间格式

    # 月份的统计
    April  February  March     May
    3194      2499           2370    3835

    # 周一到周日的统计
    Friday Monday Saturday Sunday Thursday Tuesday Wednesday
    1316     1478         2358           2633         1531          1084           1498

    # 按小时的汇总
    00 01 02 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
    1156 208 7 30 738 67 145 224 422 678 775 563 311 528
    18 19 20 21 22 23
    510 753 617 1215 1387 1564


    02       03        04      05
    2498 2370    3194   3835

    table(format(V2,format="%u")) # weekday

    1         2          3          4            5           6           7
    1478   1084   1497   1531    1316   2358    2633

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

    微软 Surface Pro3

    David Pogue 跳槽到Yahoo 后一直没有关注过。Google 搜 Surface Pro3 的时候看了这哥们的最新专栏,真是太有趣了。置顶的是一个视频,Pogue在其中人格分裂,一人模仿了Mac vs. PC的桥段。诙谐而且以夸张的形式突出了surface的优点(尤其对于Ipad)。链接在此。视频的最后还有Yahooooo的声音,多年前这是主页点击yahoo标识中感叹号的一个小彩蛋,yahoo改版后就再也没找到。

    看完总结一下,我觉得surface 是一个很有吸引力的产品,硬件和重量都很好,支撑架可以任意角度放置,更重要的是可以运行windows程序 -而不是App。另外一点Surface是laptop和tablet的混合体。带两个设备出门太麻烦,买两台设备也要多花一份钱,与其如此还不如用surface 好了。此外觉得手写笔不错,不知道实际使用起来感觉如何。看的的确心痒,如果能把手头的Thinkpad T400卖掉,就换这个。

    Friday, May 23, 2014

    R apply family

    R 的apply 类函数包括 apply, lapply, sapply, tapply, mapply 等。
    这些函数经常被用来取代for loop 来进行矩阵,列表等的分割和计算处理。

    首先谈 apply - apply 处理matrix 或者 array 的行或者列, 返回一个vector或者list.
    apply ( x, 1, FUN)  对 x 的进行操作
    apply ( x, 2, FUM) 对x 的进行操作

    m <- matrix(1:9,3,3, byrow=TRUE)
    # 1 2 3
    # 4 5 6
    # 7 8 9
    o1 <- apply(m,1,mean)
    [1] 2 5 8   可以看出来这个得到了每一行的平均值,第一行的平均为2,第二行为5,第三行为 8
    o2 <- apply(m,2,mean)
    [1] 4 5 6

    lappy 用来处理一个list,并且返回一个list

    l <- list(seq(1:5),seq(1:10),seq(1:25))
    [1] 1 2 3 4 5
    [1] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    [1] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

    [1] 15
    [1] 55
    [1] 325

    sapply 类似于lapply,但是返回一个vector 而非列表,在很多情况下便于阅读和后续处理,其实相当于unlist(lapply( x,FUN))
    [1]  15  55 325
    l <- list(seq(1:4),seq(1:9),seq(1:25))
    ToMatrix <- function(x){
    root <- sqrt(length(x))
    converted <- matrix(x,ncol=root,nrow=root,byrow=T)
    return (converted)

    [,1] [,2]
    [1,] 1 2
    [2,] 3 4

    [,1] [,2] [,3]
    [1,] 1 2 3
    [2,] 4 5 6
    [3,] 7 8 9

    [,1] [,2] [,3] [,4] [,5]
    [1,] 1 2 3 4 5
    [2,] 6 7 8 9 10
    [3,] 11 12 13 14 15
    [4,] 16 17 18 19 20
    [5,] 21 22 23 24 25

    可以看到z 为list

    tapply 用来处理含有factor的vector,tapply的第二项必须是factor

    f <- rep(c("A","B","C","D"),each=25)
    A B C D
    13 38 63 88

    mapply 的用法为 mapply(FUN, …,  ... )
    mapply的第一项是函数,后面省略号代表vector 或者list 的, 这些vector的每第N项都做为函数的参数传递到函数中。看起来很复杂,举例如下
    fx <- function(x,y,z) { x+y^2+z^3}

    首先定义一个函数,有三个参数x,y,z , 最后返回  x+y^2+z^3
    假设有一个matrix m2
    m2 <- matrix(1:6,2,3,byrow=T)
    m2 如下两行三列
    1   2   3
    4   5   6

    如果想对m2的每一列的值作为参数取得fx 的计算结果,就可以如下操作
    mapply(fx, m2[,1],  m2[,2], m2[,3])
    [1] 32   245

    1 + 2*2 + 3*3*3 = 1+4+27 =32
    4 + 5*5 + 6*6*6 = 4+25 +216 =245

    这个例子也可以用apply 来实现
    [1]  32   245

    2014-05 my playlist

    Lady Antebellum – Just a Kiss
    Rodney Atkins – Watching You
    Lady Antebellum – Can't Stand The Rain
    Randy Travis – Forever And Ever, Amen
    George Strait – Living For The Night
    Deana Carter – Strawberry Wine
    George Strait – Amarillo By Morning
    Big & Rich – Lost In This Moment
    Bob Carlisle – Butterfly Kisses
    James Taylor – Here Comes The Sun
    Tim McGraw – Grown Men Don't Cry
    George Strait – Living And Living Well
    Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence
    Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
    George Strait – Amarillo By Morning - Live
    Billy Joel – Piano Man
    Kenny Rankin – Blackbird
    Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence
    Richard Clayderman – Souvenirs D'enfance. 'Childhood Memories'
    Elton John – Tiny Dancer
    Billy Joel – Piano Man - 12 Gardens Live

    R 自测 test -1

    1. vector, matrix, array, list, data frame 的区别。如何从不同subject提取值。

    2. attach, with 和 within 的区别

    3. 和 stringsAsFactors 的区别。 如何在全局声明 = True

    4. data frame 包含 A 和 B 两列,C是vector,是B列数值的子集。如何提取 data frame只含有C的行。

    5. Edit 和 fix 的区别

    6. apply, lappy, sapply, tapply 的区别

    7. 如何删除当前环境下所有objects

    8. str, class, mode 的区别

    9. par 中 mai 和 mar 的区别

    10. 如何关闭当前 graphic 窗口

    11. mtext中side line adj 的取值范围和意义

    12. as.data中 %d, %a, %A, %m, %b, %B, %y 和%Y 的含义

    13. sort 和 order 如何使用

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    Piano Man

    Piano Man 是 Billy Joel 的第一首单曲,在推出后的4年间并未受到广泛反响,但伴随Billy Joel的第5张专辑 The Strange热卖,此曲迅速走红并成为他的代表作。全曲以一个酒吧钢琴手的视角展开,记录了酒吧常客的人生众像,从回忆往昔的老人,失意的酒吧侍者到借酒派遣寂寞的生意人,意境丰富引人深思,并且旋律动人。


    It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
    The regular crowd shuffles in
    There's an old man sitting next to me
    Makin' love to his tonic and gin¹ (Make love to tonic and jin 暗喻着享受,放松,tonic and jin 的正式叫法应为 jin and tonic,为了旋律需要,作者调转了顺序 )

    He says, "Son, can you play me a memory
    I'm not really sure how it goes
    But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
    When I wore a younger man's clothes²." (老人让钢琴手弹奏一首记忆的歌曲,他已经忘了大部分歌词,但却记得它激起的情感-当他还是年轻人的时候听到这首歌的感受)

    La la la, di da da
    La la, di da da da dum

    Sing us a song, you're the piano man
    Sing us a song tonight
    Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
    And you've got us feelin' alright

    Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
    He gets me my drinks for free
    And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
    But there's someplace that he'd rather be
    He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me."3(为了躲避唱片公司的纠纷,Billy Joel 化名为Bill Martin在洛杉矶的一家酒吧驻唱)
    As the smile ran away from his face
    "Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
    If I could get out of this place"

    Oh, la la la, di da da
    La la, di da da da dum

    Now Paul is a real estate novelist4 (Paul 是一个房地产商,但却想成为小说作者 )
    Who never had time for a wife
    And he's talkin' with Davy, who's still in the Navy
    And probably will be for life

    And the waitress is practicing politics
    As the businessmen slowly get stoned5 (生意人已渐渐如醉)
    Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
    But it's better than drinkin' alone

    Sing us a song you're the piano man
    Sing us a song tonight
    Well we're all in the mood for a melody
    And you got us feeling alright

    It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday6 (Saturday在演唱会上常被stadium或演唱地地名取代,例如在东京演唱会,此句为It's a pretty good crowd for Tokyo)
    And the manager gives me a smile
    'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
    To forget about life for a while
    And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
    And the microphone smells like a beer
    And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
    And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"7(隐含着酒吧常客对Billy Joel的期许和对他现状的惋惜)

    Oh, la la la, di da da
    La la, di da da da dum

    Sing us a song you're the piano man8
    Sing us a song tonight
    Well we're all in the mood for a melody
    And you got us feeling alright (在Billy Joel的演唱会,这一部分常常留给歌迷群唱)

    随着年龄增加,Billy Joel 对Piano Man的演绎更加收放自如,出神入化,富有沧桑感的嗓音听起来更有韵味。演唱会的现场版因为歌迷的互动极具感染力。Piano Man好似一瓶经年的老酒,随着岁月的变化更加芳醇和醉人。

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    I'm Charles Duhigg, and This Is How I Work

    I'm Charles Duhigg, and This Is How I Work

    I'm Charles Duhigg, and This Is How I Work
    You might say Charles Duhigg is a man of habit, and he'd probably say that weall are. His book, The Power of Habit, examines why we're prone to forming patterns of behavior—both good and bad—and how we can use that process to take the reins on life and work. We caught up with the New York Times journalist to discuss some habits of his own.
    Intro by Andy Orin.
    Location: Brooklyn, NY
    Current gig: Reporter for the New York Times; author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCurrent mobile devices: Droid Maxx (which is awesome because it never dies); iPad mini
    Current computer: MacBook Air
    One word that best describes how you work: Methodical

    What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

    I spend all of my time on Google, Microsoft Word, or in my email app. I also use Google Voice a lot, so that I can transform any phone into my primary communication device. I use Tripcase to travel (which is so-so) and Google Maps to navigate. My secret weapon is Google Scholar.

    What's your workspace setup like?

    I have a desk in a shared workspace. I have a walking desk, but to be honest, I never use it (I would like to, however!).
    I'm Charles Duhigg, and This Is How I Work
    Pictured above: Charles' workspace

    What's your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

    Here's the basic philosophy of how I work: I sit at my desk for a very long time, no matter how happy or unhappy it makes me, and eventually, the work spools out. I'll get so bored that I'll turn to what I actually need to do. I don't check blogs (except for Romenesko and The Awl, I don't even really know which blogs I like.) I don't have any art around my desk. I'm by a window because I like the sunlight, but I sit with my back to the outdoors. I wish that I used my walking desk (and I'm going to try!), but I'm a little worried the treadmill will make it easier to walk away from my desk. I am not particularly friendly to people who stop by (though I do give myself 30 minutes of social time each afternoon.) I eat lunch at my desk (I get it delivered, and it's the same salad every day.) If I receive an email and it's not obvious why I should respond, I hit delete. (My wife isn't crazy about this last rule.) I go to the bathroom a lot, but besides that, it's not unusual for me to sit at my desk for 8 to 10 hours straight. This is slowly destroying my body—but I would rather write good stuff than be in good shape.
    I want everything in my day to be as boring as possible because it makes all the tasks I need to do the most stimulating options. (And, I should note, many of those are tasks that I genuinely enjoy—I chose to be a reporter because I like the activities themselves.) There are lots of things that might make me more productive (I had a virtual assistant for a while; I once used "The Email Game"), but those productivity aids, I think, pale in comparison to: Sit down. Don't get up. Don't do anything at work that doesn't involve work. If you do that enough days in a row, it becomes second nature.

    What's your favorite to-do list manager?

    I make to-do lists on yellow pads. I choose one task, and focus on it until it's done. I try to cultivate my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I spend a lot of time organizing my desk and papers.

    Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?

    I really enjoy having an iPad because it makes it easier to read on the subway and in bed without keeping my wife awake. But the most important gadget is the phone. I am a strong believer in the axiom that when in doubt, pick up the phone. It is always faster to learn from a conversation than from reading: an expert knows what questions I should be asking. So if I'm ever uncertain what to do next, I start dialing.
    Pictured at left: Charles' to-do list

    What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

    I'm really only good at one basic activity: reporting and writing. And I am obsessive about reporting and writing. Figuring out how to find a really great story - and then how to tell it—is the hardest, most interesting activity I've encountered. I decided to become a journalist midway through business school because that activity —figuring out how to find and tell really great stories—seemed like something that would keep me genuinely fascinated for 30 years. I really like working.

    What do you listen to while you work?

    There is a dude a few seats away from me who speaks very loudly. I listen to him. Not happily.

    What are you currently reading?

    I like and

    Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

    I have no idea. When I was a kid, I would often feel shy at social gatherings, and (at that point in my life, for reasons I can't remember), I thought I was going to become an actor. (Note: I don't even like going to plays.) So, I would lecture myself that "if you want to become an actor, you should practice by talking to those people." And then I would. It eventually became second nature. I have no idea if this is my natural inclination or something that I've forced myself to do so many times that it is who I am.
    On that same theme, when I was in high school, I participated in debate. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it's accurate to say that winning high school debate tournaments was the single most important thing in my life. Sometimes I worried that I wouldn't be mentally ready to win, so I started a ritual, every morning, where I looked in the mirror and said "if you don't win the debate tournament this weekend, you are worthless." As you might imagine, this wasn't super great mental health-wise. I wouldn't want my kids to do it. But it meant that there was a constant pressure on me to be as prepared as possible. And here's the thing: I won a lot of debate rounds.
    And that contains the seeds of how I work: a lot of my responses above seem like something a jerk would write. (I'm unfriendly! I embrace obsessions!) They don't seem empathetic or akin to the joyfulness of discovery that I try to infuse into my work. But that joyfulness exists in my writing because I try to channel it away from other parts of my life. I don't mean to suggest that I endorse competitiveness or standoffishness, or that I think they are necessary for success or productivity.
    Rather, it's that I have chosen a goal: finding and writing great stories that (hopefully) are important enough to change the world. Things that don't conform to that goal seems less exciting to me, and so I try to avoid distractions. I think often of Chuck Close explaining why he makes portraits by painting small boxes: because the intense constraints on what he can do forces him to become more creative within each box. That's what I want in my working life: intense constraints that force me to be as creative and original as possible within my work. I don't want to lessen that pressure.
    I should also note that outside of the 8 to 10 hours a day I work, my goals are very different: to be a great father and husband and friend and person. To be, in other words, deeply good in a manner that is thoughtful and real. And so I work hard to be friendly and supportive and caring and to enjoy life. Also, I rely upon empathy (and anger and self-righteousness and a sense of joy) to find and write stories. I relax outside of work, and I watch TV and have a cocktail with my wife and play with my kids. We have dinner parties. We have fun. Not hard fun. Easy fun.

    Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _________ answer these same questions.

    Michael Lewis.

    What's the best advice you've ever received?

    The best advice I received wasn't really advice, but the example of other people's decisions. I'm inspired by people who continue working—hard and painfully, on things that are important to them, but not necessarily the fastest paths to glory —when they don't need to, or when fame or leisure are plausible alternatives. Michael Lewis could hang up his reporter's notebook and, for the rest of his life, be lauded as one of the greatest living writers. But he continues doing important work.
    In college, I took a course from David Brion Davis, who by the time I encountered him had already won the Pulitzer Prize and had, in important ways, redefined our sense of both historical research and slavery. He taught every class as if something depended upon him being as good and clear as possible. He was in his late 60's, but I saw him once on the street and he blew past us, walking fast and hard, with no time to waste. That is the example I hope to emulate, and the best advice I've received.

    Is there anything else you want to add?

    Productivity, I think, isn't about the apps you use or the way you create a to-do list or some new gadget. (Though, that said, I read interviews like this all the time, hopeful they will reveal some new app or to-do list or gadget that will change my life.)
    Problems regarding organizing tasks or lives are relatively easy to solve—and, if you're working hard and smart, I think, the solutions change depending on your project or stage of life or how you feel that day. Productivity isn't one shift, any more than love is one emotion or meaningfulness one moment.
    Rather, I think productivity is about the story you tell yourself about yourself and the world. To-do lists work when they reinforce —and mature—the mental models we carry around that make it easier to, say, think about a paragraph on the subway and see some deep structural problem; or become fully immersed in a task because you know you'll have a way to recover once the task is done.
    Productivity is, ultimately, about thinking more deeply. And the best productivity aids, in my experience, are things that push me to critique ideas until they become more true and real. Sometimes that's an editor or a friend. Sometimes it's a walk or a run. At other periods it's simply hard, good, frustrating and mind-numbing self-criticism, in front of a screen or manuscript, reading the same paragraphs over and over (or avoiding reading them) until the deep truths or logical fallacies or opportunities for creativity become clear.
    I've been really lucky in life—luckier, frankly, than I deserve. When I labor to deserve that good fortune it seems to create more productivity in my life. And so I try to honor that luck and prove that I'm worthy in how I behave and think, and I'm grateful for the productivity that occurs.
    The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Every other Wednesday we'll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips, and tricks that keep them going. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Tessa.