Free write (7/3/19)

Topic: Food.

Context: Created as a short free writing exercise with some colleagues, fellow educators. Very little editing. Grammar not important.

The free write:

They decided to write about food. And Betty started singing, “Food! Wonderful food! Wonderful food!” I thought, “Food’s ok.” But she kept singing. And that’s when I distinctly heard someone crying. We looked and saw Djelilatou in tears. When we asked, she said: “I don’t like food as you do, Betty.” Tears fell from her face. It was wrong to assume that everyone would feel the same way about food as Betty does. Raul tried to mediate.

“Listen, guys,” he said. “We don’t need any fighting!”

“There better not be any,” said Marcos as he entered the room, pizza box in hand. “’Cause if there is, I’m in the mood to rumble.”

It was an obvious reference to Rumble in the Bronx. Clever though it was, I felt uneasy. Wondered if I should intervene.

“Food is great!” Betty shouted. She was in denial.

More crying, like a puppy drowning. Truly helpless I felt.

“Maybe,” Raul said . . . “Just maybe there are those of us that like food, and those of us who simply like it less. That’s all, guys. We don’t need to fight.”

“No fighting!” shouted Elizabeth.

Marcos appeared to agree because he said: “I am more of a lover than a fighter anyway.” And sat down.

Free write (7/1/19)

Topic: Fall 2018-Spring 2019

Context: Created as a short free writing exercise with some colleagues, fellow educators. I attempted to “freestyle” toward the end. Very little editing. Grammar not important.

The free write:

Nothing really is coming to mind. I will have to think about this more. What happened? What happened during this time? I was teaching. Hands full. Really trying to pay down that debt. Did a good job on that. What was happening then? Conferences and Poet’s Cafes. The conference was such a clusterfuck. Truly. Very difficult to pull off. Six people. Three different scenarios. Where’s Occam when you need a razor? I don’t know. More memorable was the recent Poet’s Café. That Sadiq guy. Will have him on the Pod. Should be fun. Very interesting. Some good hip-hop. Rap the rumblings of people in rags. Some rags to riches. Sad men and women by circumstance but also glad because they stand. Damn, I don’t know, man. But there’s something about it that speaks to me. An energy. A needing to be received. A people who’d never live on their knees. A mind game that’s fun to play but hard to stay and vibe and stay alive. I don’t know. It’s cool. Wish more would show. Many more of these events to go. Where we can grow and see, how the young and old, man and lady alike, fight oppression and life with meaning and life. Reminds me of when Brother M took the stage before I knew him. I remember how it was back then. Singing a song of soul and power, with no desire to cower.

Learning from Teaching

I’ve learned many things from teaching - about teaching. I’ve learned that some students will dislike you no matter what. I’ve learned that teaching at a community college comes with its own bag of problems that one doesn’t necessarily think of beforehand. I’ve learned a great deal about time management. Maybe most importantly, I’ve learned about my limitations.

My first semester, I was given a task that, unknown to me at the time, was impossible - at least for me. With a few days’ notice, I was given two different courses to teach. I was a bit surprised that I got those courses. That is, I had no syllabi for them. I was also working two other jobs. I thought I could do it; I was excited to finally start teaching. There were some other issues too that first semester, such as the two classes being back-to-back and at basically opposite ends of the campus. Just the lesson plans themselves took up so much time! I tried getting time off at one of my jobs but wasn’t allowed to. Anyway, it was incredibly stressful and difficult. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t underestimate how much time designing a course (let alone two) takes. I mean, I’m very meticulous; beyond just the work of grading and reading essays, I was reading every document and handout and book and analyzing every lesson plan over and over again - without the key experience that would help me figure out the best way to do things. I also would probably not have worked either of those other jobs. The pay would have been considerably lower, but it would’ve helped me tremendously. (Almost forgot to mention, this was a very difficult time for me, too, because my grandfather, who I loved dearly, died and my then-girlfriend of about two years broke up with me - all within a month or so of each other. As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours.)

There are many strategies I employ now in getting more teacher-work done. I use spreadsheets a lot and have digital copies of essentially everything. I do things early. I often expect the worst. I have backup plans. But mostly I learn from my experiences and make changes here and there. That’s life. Make small changes as often as you can. Pace yourself. Prepare for hardship and the unexpected. And when you’re at the end, you can say, “Survived.” That is the human condition, no?

Writing about Writing

Writing is like running. (I thank Murakami for that insight.) Sometimes, you do it ‘cause it’s good for you – and to maintain the habit, the discipline. Sometimes, you want to see where you end up. You know you want to go somewhere, but don't know where. So you run. And hope that maybe you’ll figure it out once you get there. But you don’t always feel like it. Sometimes, you need a warmup. Maybe you want to walk a bit, or pace, or do some jumping jacks. Free writing can also be a warmup for writing something more serious (running). And you wouldn’t do anything unless there’s a benefit. But you don’t always know what the benefit is. Yet you have faith that there is one - because it's helped you in the past. So, sometimes, you just start; you try to not think, just do. And you reach flow. That is an end in and of itself. And, in that way, writing is also like meditation.

How I Don't Decide (Breakfast), Part I

Jonah Lehrer in How We Decide explains how the brain is in a constant state of conflict. To decide on something, the brain engages in a battle of neurons; a threshold is met, and a decision is made. Lehrer points out that emotions often help us make certain decision. If, for example, one exercised critical thinking for every decision (dispassionately), it would take a long, long time simply for one to shop at the grocery store. So, emotions, he argues, are very useful in everyday life; and aren't, as many assume, always in the way of our more reasonable selves.

I read the book some years ago, but someone recently privately commented on how indecisive, or overly analytical, I can be at times. It reminded me of the book, and that I related very much with an experience Lehrer recounts of taking too long to decide on which cereal to buy. Not only has that happened to me, but I often find it takes me much longer to make certain (simple) decisions than most. Perhaps I lack some of the emotional advantages others do. Perhaps I have better analytical skills. Maybe a bit of both.

But here's the thing. I find my ability to consider deeply even simple decision to be useful in my life, even if momentarily inhibiting. The reason is that these decision (when multiplied many, many times throughout the course of my life) have a greater compound effect than people normally assume. 

So I'd like to share just one example (otherwise I'd write a book) of a minor thing most people don't think much about that I do, and why I think it's important to think critically about it, at first.

What to Eat for Breakfast

Something I still haven't completely stopped thinking about. For example, what's the best macronutrient ratio for breakfast? Here's one study on the topic I used to learn more about the issue.  For me, because a relatively high-fat (HF) breakfast was correlated in the study with greater overall caloric consumption (and I'm trying to gain weight, and consume more fat since I'm vegan, or trying to be), I prefer it over a high-carb (HC) breakfast on most days. A HC breakfast, though, was shown to lead to less hunger later in the day, which would certainly be of benefit to me during long workdays.

But it depends on the day. For days that I'm going running or to the gym, I will eat a HC breakfast, such as a fruit smoothie (using low GI fruits, water, and kale) or oatmeal (using a low fat plant milk and low GI fruits). Of course, I wait a minimum of an hour before heading out, for digestion. I will also do a HC breakfast if I have a long workday and won't be able to consume another meal for some time.

However, on most other days, to encourage greater overall caloric and fat intake, I will breakfast HF; I might eat "oatmeal" (with coconut milk, peanut butter, and chia seeds) or avocado, hummus, and almond bread. Of course, I have to be mindful that I will get hungrier earlier than usual later in the day. Thus, I'll bring some slow carbs (such as a slightly green banana) with me to work to tame hunger till my next meal. 

It's interesting that the study found HC was slightly correlated with greater awareness later on, which I conjecture might be due to fat taking longer to digest. So I may not want to breakfast HF before, say, a test or quiz; conversely, I can assuage any supposed negative cognitive effect with caffeine about 20 minutes before any mentally challenging activity. Nevertheless, the correlation was slight, and the researchers suggest further investigation into it.

There are other considerations for breakfast, such as micronutrient content and whether or not to cook and, if so, how. Generally, nutrient-dense foods are better. So I opt for those whenever I can. For instance, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, beans, and peas are nutrient dense. (I may also consider which nutrients are most important for me as someone who is mostly vegan, such as B12 and D3.) And regarding cooking, it depends on the food; some become more bioavailable after cooking them while others are better raw. But this subtopic can be a blog post by itself. I'll have to do a part two, after doing some research.

The reason I have done critical thinking about this is that health is deeply important to me. It really is the requisite quality of a good life. Some might disagree. I call such people philosophers. But, personally, I couldn't live a good, worthwhile life if I were terribly sick (racked with physical pain and an inability to perform certain basic functions). Health is something many take for granted. And diet is perhaps the single most important contributor to one's overall health because of its consistent contribution to one's body makeup. 

Sure, no one wants to spend a lot of time in deciding what to eat for breakfast. But once you do, you can eat the most optimal breakfast for you every morning. And that leads to optimal living.

On Mass Shootings in America

Gun violence, especially the kind that seems to provoke no action from Congress, is an issue of particular significance to me. It's hard to think of an issue more important than one that is literally killing us. It's been said quite a bit by conservatives that talking about gun control politicizes a tragedy.

Here's a tweet from conservative commentator Tomi Lahren. 

Actually, it's about a another lunatic with gun. (Her Twitter account is very interesting. For instance, she states that we need more Jesus and God re: calls for prayers after such tragedies. You mean the sadistic, jealous, homophobic, sexist God of the Bible? No thanks.)

Here's another similar comment by Senator Marco Rubio.

I largely agree with the sentiment. I'm for waiting for the facts, too. But we've seen this movie before - a lot of times. And there tend to be some patterns, such as the use of the AR-15, or mental illness, or domestic violence. And time and again conservatives say that now isn't the time. With mass shootings happening all the time, it may never be the right time to start to talk about what to do. Further, jumping to conclusions is one matter, discussing the issue in order to figure out how to prevent mass shootings from happening is another. And I can think of no greater way of honoring the dead than to make it our goal, as much as it is possible, that no more innocent Americans die in this manner.

Our high proportion of gun ownership (there are more guns than people here) also seems to be the one factor that distinguishes us from other countries in such a way as to explain the vastly disproportionate rate of mass shootings in America. (We certainly don't have vastly more crazy people than anywhere else in the world. And even if we did, if it were harder to get a gun for some, then mental illness wouldn't be the threat that we have now. True, there might be more stabbings. But I, for one, would choose mass stabbings over mass shootings every time.)

Finally, I want to end with some comments from the actual victims of this violence, including one brave senior who responded to Lahren's tweet.

This survivor is calling for discussion of gun control, as well as mental health. She doesn't seem to think it's too early to talk about this issue.

And this other student expresses similar concerns and calls for action. 

Just some thoughts. This has been a freewrite. The issue of mass shootings in America is complex. There is likely not one solution. I'm not calling for a ban on all guns. I believe in gun ownership. But I believe, in short, that we should make it very, very difficult for one mentally unstable person to murder lots of innocent people. Yes, I also believe mental illness is part of the problem. Specifically, I believe we overmedicate people here. And that's largely due to corrupt pharmaceutical companies. It's hard to blame corporations and organizations working within the under-regulated capitalist system we have. But when corporations can influence Congress with their speech (read, cash), it is not surprising that Congress represents them more than us. And we end up paying for it.

Seeing the pictures of the deceased victims is heartbreaking. Makes it much more real. I suggest you do that. I suggest Congress do that. I suggest the NRA and gun manufacturers do that. Another such tragedy will happen. And it won't be long. And the victims won't simply be more statistics. They'll be innocent people: men, women, children. Don't let them down.

Koi, Consciousness, and Morality

Picture this: a small, pebbled pond with a single, motionless koi fish. This is a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that exhibits artwork from the Far East. Man, was it beautiful. So this pond, it has a tiny, trickling waterfall. And as I sat and stared at this single koi fish, I thought, “This little guy looks sad,” which made me have other thoughts: “Is he sad?” and "How would I know?" As I looked closer, another koi fish appeared, then another, and then another. Clearly, he wasn’t alone.



These thoughts led to more thoughts about consciousness. The thing was, I didn't know what’s in that koi’s head. But because of its stillness and the context of its environment (the otherwise empty pond), I thought it appeared sad, maybe even depressed. Why? The answer’s my context. That is, the circumstances I had originally thought that fish to be in (alone and isolated), would make me feel depressed. But when one considers that this fish had likely spent its whole life in that pond, one would naturally conclude that the fish, to put it simply, doesn’t know what he doesn’t have; ignorance is bliss, they say. Further, this fish has no need for depression since it does not experience any “bad,” as far as I know, only "same." (And constant "same" may be depressing to humans; but that is because we understand change, that there is change, which the fish doesn't appear to know.) In fact, it’s environment is pretty peaceful. And it is not alone. Humans have need for depression and anger and so on because life is often full of struggle and ever-changing; what we feel has had an evolutionary purpose.

All this led me to think about morality. Why? Well, I believe, the basis of what we consider right from wrong is founded on a theory of consciousness. Why’s it ok to strike a rock with a stick and not a person? One is not conscious, whereas the other is. As philosopher Thomas Nagel put it, it is something to be one of us. And, by definition, we don’t like suffering (emotional, physical, or otherwise). So it is consistent to consider suffering in others as a bad thing, such as hitting people with sticks. In order to circumvent this foundation in morality, one may generally do one of two things: deny the consciousness of someone or something (e.g., “animals aren’t sentient, so it’s ok to kill them”) or make the assertion that doing something that would inflict pain or suffering upon a sentient being will result in greater happiness, or less suffering, in more, or more conscious, individuals (e.g., “It’s ok to kill animals because they feed a lot of people”). Personally, I think animals are conscious, and that we don't have to kill animals to feed people. But there is another exception to the general rule of not causing suffering in other sentient beings: vengeance.

Vengeance is the idea that suffering in a conscious being is a good thing if the being “deserves” it. In other words, suffering is deemed a just punishment – a way to “right” a wrong. For example, it would be ok to torture a rapist because raping someone is a bad thing – in that it causes a great amount of pain (emotional, physical, and mental) in the victim. Here’s the issue, though: it is not heavily subjective. Who deserves to be tortured and who doesn't? (You would get different answers, for instance, if you ask Dick Cheney vs. a member of ISIS.) What is the appropriate amount of punishment, and when does it go too far? (Should we, for example, cut off the rapist's genitals? What about drawing and quartering?) The problem is it gives a lot of power to the individual or group who is making such distinctions. It doesn't meet Kant's categorical imperative, a universal law. Would you agree that those who "deserve" it should be, say, harassed for the rest of their lives? Ok. Then what if I suggest that you "deserve" it?

What is truly problematic for me about vengeance is that it is antithetical to how I understand my own morality: a system of determining right from wrong based on a theory of consciousness. If it is something to be a sentient being, and, as sentient beings, we know the inherent bad there is suffering, then it follows that causing suffering in others is bad. Vengeance, on other hand, asserts that suffering is, in fact, good – it is punishment. That simply violates my intuition. Much of our morality has been shaped by culture. Culture can make a good person do a bad thing and think it good. Religion, given its higher, infallible authority, is particularly suitable for this purpose. 

But is there any sense in the contradiction? Is it actually ok sometimes to cause suffering in others? Well, in accord with this theory of morality, I think that suffering is always inherently bad, even when it may be necessary, as it is in certain self-defense scenarios. By definition, it is always regrettable. More, vengeance is driven largely by our emotions, which certainly drive us away from reason. It may be useful to teach someone why it isn't good to mistreat another. But revenge goes beyond teaching; suffering is the point, often to satisfy some emotional urge, be it pride, rage, or the like. Some might claim that revenge is reasonable to compensate a victim for a loss, perhaps of property, or suffering; yet there is nothing actually gained from the transaction of causing the pain. One has merely added to the net suffering in the world. Some would claim that revenge is a dish best served cold. And yet, to me, it is never cold, but cooked to some degree or other. Otherwise, the point would not be to harm, but to educate, or perhaps to only do what is necessary to avoid future injury; and that can hardly be called revenge. 

I sat near that pond and free-wrote for 20 minutes. Truly, consciousness matters. It gives the world meaning – or searches for it. I continue searching.

A Little on Depression

Depression is real. I know. I had it. For a long time. On and off, for years. And it wasn't until I confronted my demons that I conquered that mental disease (after it got harder, of course). And it took time. I incorporated as many things as I could into this lifestyle change to get better. I started going to the gym, making and going out with friends, dating, taking vitamins and eating better, and not brooding by myself so much. I have yet to talk publicly about circumstances leading to that dramatic confrontation. I hesitate for good reason. (But I will, at some point, during a future podcast episode because I think it's important.) It isn't easy being judged. I try to reserve judgment of others, not to make unneeded assumptions, which I think are the root of many a problem interpersonally and societally, for instance. 

Anyway, I'd just like to encourage people for now to keep fighting. I did. And even though it seemed seriously impossible that I would reach this level of being happy and content with myself and with life, I have. During depression, one's thinking is clouded. So don't rush to anything. It's like when you're upset. After you calm down, your thinking of the same event changes significantly. It's suddenly not as bad, the instigator not as evil, you less the victim.

I'm partly motivated for this post because of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington's death. I've been a fan for many years. And I'm saddened to know that someone who must've felt and thought many things that I had, gave up. (Maybe I also identify with him since there was a time when I tried to be a singer in a band, too.) Suicide is selfish. But no one can share your internal pain. I'm not judging. But depression is something that must be fought. Keep fighting. You are capable of so much more. I see it now in myself.

On Choosing Veganism, and Struggling

So I chose to go vegan. Several times. And failed. Why?

I first went vegetarian at 19 (many years ago). I failed at that initially, too. What had prompted it? First, there's a memory I have. I'm ten or eleven and at my aunt's house in the DR. They have several farm animals on their land. I'm chucking rocks into the overgrown grass in the yard. Moments later, I see a pig walk by in the grass, bleeding from his head. I felt a massive amount of guilt. The pig's blood and pain was a direct result of my actions. Fast-forward several years, I (16yo) watch one of the The Faces of Death videos. That shit made me feel sick for about a week. Every time I ate a hamburger, the images I'd seen came back to me.

I tried going vegan once or twice before, failing each time because it was too difficult. Namely, cheese was too delicious to give up. I also reasoned that, at least, buying dairy products and eggs didn't directly lead to the killing of chickens or cows. I had no idea how much animal suffering is caused by the production of dairy and egg products, or how integral they were in sustaining the meat industry. (The same can be said about fur and wool, for instance.)

So, about three months, I was watching a YouTube video (it appears not to be currently up) that gave the facts re: what happens to most dairy cows, chickens, and chicks at big farms, which included drone footage. Male chicks, for instance, are fed en masse (no anesthesia, absolutely conscious) into a big meat grinder from a conveyor belt. The footage of what happens was hard to ignore, and I, as a consumer, was complicit in that abuse.

So I was vegan. For, like, two months. I found it freeing. Of course, I had to pay much more attention to what I was eating, reading labels and learning a lot more about nutrition, and supplementing. But recently I relapsed. The temptation was too much, and I was too hungry. Honestly, it was great for a while to eat cheese again. Not to worry. Not to be inconvenienced. I had a couple vegan days in the week. Thought that was good enough.

Then, the other day, I saw this. If the footage of animal abuse doesn't have an effect on you, if you do not feel guilty as a meat eater after watching that, I do not understand you. I do not know if we can communicate. You might as well stop reading this. I decided, after that, that I would no longer be complicit in such suffering. I understand that people argue that not all animals are abused in farms, which is certainly true to an extent in some farms around the world. However, to believe that the animal you are now eating hasn't suffered before getting to your plate is a level of trust in people and places you have not seen that I don't have. Also, there's the fact that the animals are killed. It's kinda difficult to kill something without inflicting any pain or suffering. Sure, one might think up ways, but how is it usually done? One might also argue that labels such as "free-range" or "cage-free" are indicative of the absence of animal suffering and/or presence of animal contentment. Again, that is a lot of trust to put into people and things you don't know or see. I have learned that such labels do not mean what people think they do. For instance, the "free-range" label may be obtained if the chickens are uncaged for the last three weeks of life. It also does not prohibit the use of cruel practices such as beak-cutting and starvation-forced molting. (Click here to read more about what egg carton labels actually mean.) So now I am once more on the vegan path. And I will report on my journey. 

I understand that there are other arguments against veganism. I will likely address these in future posts. I think one important thing to remember for anyone who is thinking about making the transition to veganism is to put back what you are taking out. Make sure you are getting enough protein and healthy fats and are supplementing.

Honestly, I think it's an accomplishment in today's world. I encourage everyone to try. Perhaps begin with reducing meat consumption. Then try vegetarianism. Then try to give up eggs. Then cheese. It's hard, no doubt. But it gets easier. You learn, and adapt. Most of us claim to love animals and abhor animal cruelty. Well, put your morals where your mouth is.

In Search of Lost Time

I've been going through some changes lately that've given me less time to write. It's hard. Writing is my passion. Not too long ago, I was used to having all the time in the world (a lot of time, at least) to write and read. But, now, I'm working a lot more and have more commitments. I have also found the love of my life, and she occupies a significant portion of my time, which I gladly give. Part of being an adult, I guess. Man, really cherish that time when you're kids, guys. It's precious. And fleeting! So, anyway, I just want to say that it's hard, and it gets harder. And having less time for yourself happens to virtually everyone. I mean, when was the last time you were able to accomplish everything you wanted for the day? I honestly can't recall. But you learn to deal with it - and wring time for every drop you can get. What else can you do? In Japanese, there's a saying, "Shou ga nai"; there's no other way. The French have a similar saying, "C'est la vie."

New Year, New Site

I've been wanting to have my own site, primarily for my own blog, for some time now. So finally, with the new year, I've decided to pay up and create one. Previously, I've had a free Blogger blog, which I'm currently keeping up and may be found here. (Note: eventually I will take the blog down.) This is my first attempt at creating a Web site and find it necessary as an author as a tool for fostering a platform, expressing myself, and staying connected with my fans. Thank you for your interest and support. I write because I feel myself inescapably drawn to the art and craft of writing, to write down stories of people who should've lived or will or had. It's a compulsion, something that will define my life and steal my days. But it's all good, 'cause I love it. It's this love, more than anything else, I want to spread. Writing, at its best, to me, is inspiration; it's truth; it's magic. Something relentlessly true, yet unexplainably unobtainable in quotidian experience. Like that feeling you've felt once or twice while looking up at the stars. They're there every night, but on rare occasion it hits you like a kick to the liver. Shit. They're all Suns. Billions of them just in the Milky Way. Imagine the planets. The stories. Untold.

Courtesy: Thomas Shellberg

Finding Time to Read

Finding the time to read while holding a job and having a girlfriend and being a writer can be difficult - I know. I've had to be creative with this. And, so, I have several methods I use to maximize the time I have to read.

Reading while walking. This is my most notable hack to find more time to read. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone since it is a bit distracting - and potentially dangerous. It takes practice. In fact, I have my own method for doing so. What I do is I set the book right in front of me, at about eye level, and walk slowly, occasionally looking ahead and using my peripheral vision when reading. The reason this works - well enough, anyway - is that since the book is directly in front of me at eye level, I can readily see if anyone or anything is approaching. It will be picked up by my peripheral vision first. Now, it might take a bit longer to read this way since there's shaking while walking and distractions and looking ahead occasionally. But since you're adding extra time to your reading, it's worth it - at least for me. Another thing to think about is that you want to walk on a level, predictable surface, such as a concrete sidewalk or path. Walking on grass or sand, especially if there are pits, fallen branches, rocks, or holes, will be very inconvenient because you will, very likely, not see them coming and possibly trip. Also make sure to have a good view of the ground, too. Watch out for dog poop, for instance, which is a bit difficult to spot sometimes. That's why your book, or e-reader, should be about arm's length away, so you can see part of the ground as well as in front of you. Easier done when there aren't many people around. But recommended if you really need some extra reading time in your day and/or have pretty good peripheral vision. (Another point: done much more easily with audible books!)

Reading on the bus/train. This piece of advice is nothing new. But there is a certain way to do it. I've learned that having the book/e-reader easily accessible works well to battle against any thoughts you might have that might keep you from taking it out, such as it being too crowded to move much or just being tired and/or mentally exhausted and maybe not in the reading mood. When it is easily accessible, you're more likely to read. So keep your book/e-reader in a pocket or in one of the outer pockets of your book bag or purse. Cargo pants are a good option during the summer since the pockets are bigger than most pants pockets. When it comes to the act of reading itself, I'd just remember that you will be distracted. People may need to get through, if you're standing, so remember to take your book bag off and pay attention. You may miss your stop, too. I usually look up from my book/e-reader after every stop.

Reading while at work. Many of us have jobs that provide us with some downtime. Instead of letting it go to waste, let's get more reading done! These times may be infrequent and inconsistent in length. So I just immediately start reading when given downtime. Also, depending on the job, you don't want to appear unprofessional. Luckily, I work in an academic setting, so that is not really a problem. But if that is a potential problem for you, maybe wait until your break. Or do so clandestinely, if you're up for it. Hide the book in your bag. Or just make sure no one is looking!

Reading while eating. I've thought of this before but never really considered it much until I read about Junot Diaz doing it. I'm just such a fanboy of his that it was kind of inspiring. He was doing it while eating oatmeal, which brings me to one of my pointers: this is better done with simpler meals - that is, meals you don't have to look at much or isn't difficult to eat. So things such as: cereal, oatmeal, soup, rice, and so on. Also, it's easier to do this with an e-reader (or a tablet) because you don't have to turn physical pages; instead, you just tap the screen. It is tempting to instead watch YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu. But if you make a habit of reading while eating every time, most of the time, or regularly (such as once per day), the temptation lessens. Further, audible books allow you also to pay more attention to your food, so that is certainly a plus.

Reading with any down time. Doing laundry? Cooking? Using the bathroom? We have downtime all the time - that's why we have a word for it! Two minutes, for example, may not seem like a lot of time to read - and really it isn't - but if you add up all the two minutes you have in a day of downtime, it will probably add up pretty well. The trick is to have a book/e-reader ready and immediately start reading and don't stop until your downtime is over. Using a timer helps if you're cooking, for instance, so you don't burn anything.

Reading while waiting for sleep. Also easier done with an e-reader that has some light source. (Though people often say that the light, being stimulation, will keep you up, I often find that reading in bed, especially when I find it difficult to sleep, which is a problem I've always had, gets me sleepy quite quickly. And if I don't sleep, hey, that's more reading done - win-win!) I wouldn't recommend an audible book for this because you might fall asleep listening and then lose your place, unless you're rather diligent!

So, off the top of my head, these are the things I do to find more time to read. You know, there are so many good books out there. And, honestly, it makes me a bit depressed to think that I won't be able to read them all. Life is simply too short. I agree with James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce, who said, "Life is too short for reading inferior books." It's also too short for great books - all of them, that is.