The Sexy Geek at WonderCon 2012

I will be at WonderCon this weekend meeting fans and making new friends. Stop by the House of Silk booth (#813) on Sunday from 11-11:30am or 3-4pm to hang out and chat. There’s also some hot models and hot artwork from my friend J.P. Roth’s new Ancient Dreams series. And don’t forget that you can get a free preview of my soon-to-be-published book The Sexy Geek by entering your email address in the sign-up form below:


Stay sexy, my friends.

How to deepen your voice and talk like a manly man

I’ve noticed a lot of nerds, including myself sometimes, tend to talk in a pinched, nasal tone. This is something that women do not find attractive. Women like deep, manly voices. You don’t have to sound like Darth Vader, but you do need some depth and some bass in your voice.
If you have a high or nasal voice, don’t fret. It’s not something you’re born with, but a bad habit that you can change. All you have to do is stop using your nose so much and let the rest of your vocal apparatus do some of the work. Here’s what I’ve learned from celebrity vocal coach John Deaver:

Sound is produced by air from your diaphragm being pushed across the vocal chords, but there are three main places where sound can vibrate, and all of these play a role in shaping the sound:

  1. The nose and sinuses.
  2. The mouth.
  3. The chest and throat.

Your first instinct might be to say “Ok, I’ll push all the sound into my throat and talk with a really deep voice”, but that would either make you sound fake or stupid. This is because you can’t articulate the vowel sounds with the throat.

The trick is to find a balance between all three. The chest resonates and provides depth and fullness, the mouth provides clear articulation and a natural buzzing vibration, and the nose and sinuses provide the occasional high pitch or nasal consonant.
Here is an exercise that you can do every day to retrain your voice:

  1. Start with a low hum to get the feel of chest resonance. Do this for a couple of minutes to get warmed up.
  2. Pinch your nose and talk or read out loud. You’ll feel when the sound starts trying to go up into your nose, and you’ll be able to pull it back toward the throat.

Do this every day for a few minutes, ideally in the morning, since your voice is naturally lower at that time, and it’ll help you set the tone for the rest of the day. Then, throughout the day, listen to yourself talking, and try to subtly move the sound away from the nose and sinuses and more towards the chest and throat. Over time, this will become a habit, and it will sound completely natural without you having to think about it.

Last-minute Valentine’s Gift Ideas for the utterly clueless

It’s coming. That special day of the year that officially signifies romance but usually brings anxiety and disappointment. Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and unless you want to spend it in the dog house, you’d better buy your significant other something nice. More than nice, it has to be special. Here’s what I’ve learned about buying gifts for women over the years.

The secret to buying amazing gifts

The best way to get someone a good gift is to pay attention. They drop hints, sometimes on purpose, sometimes without even realizing it. Here’s an example: Once or twice in the middle of the year, I mentioned to my wife that I thought about getting a Kindle, but that I didn’t feel like spending the money. She bought it for me for Christmas. Was I surprised? You bet I was.

What if your girl has made what she wants so obvious that you feel like if you get it for her, there’s no surprise or creativity involved? I would saying you’re probably better off getting points for your attentiveness than taking the risk of getting her something she doesn’t like because you were trying to be creative. Maybe compromise by getting her what you both know she wants, plus a little something extra that you thought of yourself.

Of course, if you’d been paying attention, you probably wouldn’t be reading articles like this one a couple of days before V-Day. So, as a favor to those who are clueless or have just run out of ideas, I’ve compiled some advice about each of the stereotypical categories of Valentine’s Day gifts for women, based entirely on my own experience. If I can’t save your Valentines Day, maybe I can at least make you laugh.


Buying lingerie for a woman is really really difficult. Beyond the simple fact that her tastes may differ from yours (you like crotchless panties, she likes Victorian lace), you also have the problem of size. Here are some lingerie mistakes I’ve made over the years:

  • Bought lingerie for a girl who wasn’t sleeping with me. The last time I saw it was when she tried it on at Victoria’s Secret. I hope she and someone else enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed learning a valuable lesson and telling this hilariously sad story.
  • Bought lingerie at the last minute at a little store inside Grand Central Station. “It looks cheap and nasty, like something a prostitute would wear” were my girlfriend’s words. Ouch. I don’t even remember what she said about the furry hand-cuffs after that.
  • Decide to hilariously subvert gender roles by buying sexy underwear for myself instead of for her (the gift would be the opportunity to see me in black briefs! Get it?). Somehow, this did not lead to sexy laughter followed by sexy Valentine’s Day sex. Oh well. At least I discovered that briefs are more comfortable than boxer-briefs.

The one mistake I’ve never made, that the sales-girls are always trying to get me to make, is to buy her a padded bra. Are they trying to get me killed? Why don’t I just give her a card that says “I love you, babe, but I wish your boobs were bigger”?

But padding is just the beginning. Buying bras is complicated stuff. Even women aren’t that good at picking the right size, according to experts. Furthermore, most bras are uncomfortable with all those wires and itchy straps (um, I imagine). Unless you find something really nice, and I mean way nicer than any of her ordinary bras (maybe something all lace), and you’re sure it’s going to fit, just skip it. Most women have one or two favorite bras that they wear all the time.

Panties, however, are a different story. She changes her panties every day (or at least she ought to), and they’re tiny so they get lost easily. This means that your average women can always use a new pair of panties. And panties are incredibly easy to buy because unlike bras, they only have one size variable. Find a pair of her panties that fits her well (i.e. don’t grab the one pair that’s always falling off of her), and check the size. You can usually find a 5 for $25 sale, so buy her five pairs and hopefully she’ll like at least one of them. I call this the shotgun approach to gift-giving — you can’t miss. Ask the girl behind the counter to gift-wrap ‘em for you and you’re good to go in the lingerie department. You may want to pick up something else though, like perfume or a box of chocolates, just to round things out so that when her girlfriends ask her what her man got her for Valentine’s Day she doesn’t have to say “Uh,…underwear”.

And one final thing: always err on the side of too small. You may be thinking, “I’m an L, and I’m pretty average, and she’s a little smaller than me, so I guess she’s an M”. Big mistake, buddy. Keep in mind that women’s sizes run a lot smaller than ours do, all the way to XXS, in fact. This shouldn’t be a problem if you checked her size before you left the house.


A woman’s olfactory glands are more advanced than ours, so don’t go thinking you can get away with buying her cheap perfume. Spend the money on something nice, that you both like and that way it’ll be a gift that gives back. If you know what kind of perfume she already wears, get the same thing or something similar. If you don’t have a clue, go to the mall and sample a few by spraying them on cards. When you find one you like, take the card with you and sniff it at various intervals throughout the day. The character of the scent changes over time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that eau de parfum is much stronger than eau de cologne, so if your woman likes to put a lot of perfume on, get her the weaker one so you can both breathe.


Yes, girls like chocolate, it’s true. That doesn’t mean that a box of chocolates makes a great gift. It’s kind of cheap, and she might think “Do you think I’m such a fatty that I’ll eat a whole box of chocolates?” or “Are you trying to fatten me up?”.

Plus, I’m a total chocoholic, so for me to buy my wife a box of chocolates would be just like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer buys Marge a bowling ball with “Homer” engraved on it (“So you’d know who it was from!”).

This seems as good a place as any to tell the story about how I sent my ex-girlfriend a chocolate penis with a nasty note. Ok, I never actually did that. But I considered it.


Flowers are kind of cheap, too. The best time to bring her flowers is when she’s not expecting them. They make a great “Just because I was thinking of you” gift, but if you send her flowers for a special occasion, you come across cheap and lazy-minded. Try a little harder, or get her flowers in addition to something else, like panties, perfume or chocolate.

I also read somewhere that the thing she likes most about flowers is not the flowers themselves, but showing off to her co-workers that she has a guy that sends her flowers, so if your girlfriend is really immature, maybe you should have them sent to the office/salon/boutique where she works.


Jewelry is actually a pretty safe bet provided you have two things: money and good taste. Trying to buy a woman inexpensive jewelry is very risky. I once bought my wife a bracelet that I thought was cool and quirky, but she thought was cheap and ugly (AND it was too big. Double fail).  But I have never gone wrong with diamonds. Every girl loves diamonds. Obviously, some like smaller, tasteful diamonds, and some like the bling. You should know which type your girl is.

If you have good taste but not a lot of money, try freshwater pearls. You can only do this a couple of times though until she figures out that they’re cheaper than regular pearls. Trust me.


I hope that I have pointed out some of the land mines in these cliched gift categories so you can avoid a Valentine’s Day disaster. But seriously, if you can do something special and original that you know will make her happy, do that instead. If not, you can fall back on the ideas above. Happy Valentine’s Day!


7 easy ways to boost your confidence and feel like a sexy, manly man.

Nothing’s sexier than confidence. A good-looking person hiding in the corner will only accomplish a fraction of what an average person with confidence can accomplish. And that applies to so many aspects of life, from business to dating. You can’t fake confidence, but you can pump it up from the inside using the following tips:

  1. Do something that scares you. The first time I sang in the New York City subway, I was nervous, but afterward, I wasn’t afraid of anything. I was walking down the street singing, smiling and making conversation with people. Can you imagine how cocky you’d feel if you went skydiving? It doesn’t have to be that intense though. Try singing karaoke or playing at an open-mic, talking to a complete stranger, joining Toastmasters to practice public speaking, anything that gets you out of your comfort zone.
  2. Lift weights. Heavy weight lifting produces a surge in testosterone and growth hormone, both of which we could all use more of. To maximize the benefit, do compound exercises and use free weights so you can work more muscles per exercise and spend less time in the gym grunting. (I talked more about weight-training here).
  3. Stop looking at porn so much. I’m not a prude. I think looking at porn once in a while is probably fine, but chronically overstimulating yourself will result in abnormally low dopamine levels, leaving you depressed and anxious. Not sexy. Read more about it here.
  4. Stand up straight.  Good posture not only makes you look more confident, it makes you feel more confident, too. Instead of getting all stiff and awkward, just relax your shoulders and neck and picture a string attached to your breastbone pulling you upward. So, chest up and out, shoulders down and relaxed. And tilt your head up slightly, like you’re relaxing and taking in the air on a beautiful summer day.
  5. Smile. Sure, we smile when we’re happy, but did you know it actually works both ways? Smiling makes you happy, and happy people are more confident. And since smiles are contagious, people will smile back at you, which will make you feel even more happy and confident, and so on and so on in a positive feedback loop. I find that this works best when I smile from the inside. In other words, don’t just flash a smile, think it. Let it start from your eyes and then slowly wash over your face. Read more about the power of smilling here.
  6. Put on a nice shirt. If you look better, you’ll feel better about yourself. There is a difference, however, between a shirt that’s “nice” and a shirt that makes you look good, and it all comes down to fit. Fit matters more than price, fabric, color, or designer. Get a perfect fit by making sure of two things: 1) The shoulder seam aligns with your actual shoulder (this makes your shoulders look square and manly) and 2) Avoid excess fabric around the mid-section (this just makes you look fatter).
  7. Get a haircut.  There is probably no cheaper and quicker way to dramatically improve your appearance than with a good haircut. If you’ve been going to some lazy barber who’s been hacking at you with a clipper, take the time and money to find a real hair-stylist who can suggest an improvement.

Any other suggestions?


The truth about body odor and how to prevent it

Body odor is caused by bacteria that live on your skin and turn your sweat into rank-smelling acids. You can’t eliminate these bacteria (at least not without severe antibiotics and their attendant side-effects), but you can reach a state of rapprochement with the enemy by bathing daily and using a deodorant or antiperspirant. Some people use these terms interchangeably, so I want to make sure we distinguish them.

Deodorants do just that: de-odorize, mainly by attempting to kill the bacteria, most often via alcohol. Obviously, if you sweat a lot, eventually these anti-bacterial chemicals will be washed away and the bacteria will return, but if you’re not very active during the day (aside from when you exercise, obviously), deodorant may suffice.

Anti-perspirants are a sub-category of deodorants. They have the same germ-killing properties of deodorants, but they also block your body’s sweat glands. I don’t want to sound like one of those paranoid people that think everything is carcinogenic, but this just strikes me as a little bit extreme and unnatural, especially since it’s really the bacteria, not the sweat, that cause body odor. Beside, I’ve never found an anti-perspirant that could actually stop me from sweating. Nevertheless, if regular deodorants are not working for you, give anti-perspirant a try. The most effective one I’ve found is Mitchum (I like the unscented, sensitive-skin variety). It never stopped me from sweating, but it did an awesome job at keeping odor away.

Another obvious approach would be to just try to reduce the amount of sweat in your arm pits. Here are some ways to sweat less:

  • Wear 100% cotton undershirts and underwear. Cotton breathes, keeping you cool so you sweat less, and it also absorbs sweat, so less of it is sitting there in your armpit irrigating the bacteria colonies. There’s really no need to wear polyester or polyester-blend shirts on top of your undershirts either — textile manufacturers are doing wonderful things with cotton these days.
  • Trim your arm pit hair — the less hair you have, the faster the sweat will evaporate. I don’t recommend shaving it off because it looks weird, and armpit stubble is really uncomfortable, but most men have way too much armpit hair and it’s becoming socially acceptable to trim it or remove it.
  • Try to improve your heat tolerance — After three years of living in boiler-heated New York buildings, I find any temperatures below 78 degrees a bit chilly. Yes, this makes me side with the girls in the office who are constantly complaining about how cold it is, but you must admit: it’s a lot easier to put on a sweater than to try to cool off in a hot room. When summer comes around, try to see how long how you can last without turning on the air conditioner. And don’t set the thermostat lower than 75 degrees if you can help it.
  • Relax and keep a positive attitude — Getting stressed out about how hot it is will only make you sweat more. Try to remain calm and realize that it’s really not that hot. Think of the troops in Iraq, where it’s regularly above 100 degrees. That’ll put things into perspective. Or think about how lucky you are that you’re not living in Alaska, next door to the Palins.


How to maximize your enjoyment of alcohol while minimizing the negative effects

When I was growing up, my experience of alcohol was seeing my older brothers get completely shit-faced. This made a real impression on me, and it took me a while to rid myself of the idea that the purpose of drinking was to get blindingly drunk and pass out. I’d go out to parties at college and be really confused when people would look down at me for being drunk. “Of course I’m drunk! Isn’t that why we came to this stupid party?” was my attitude.

It took me about ten years to realize that real men don’t guzzle down huge quantities of cheap hooch or beer. Real men drink real booze. Slowly, like gentlemen. “It’s for sippin’, not for chuggin’ “, as my cousin Paul says.

When you get black-out drunk, your friends may have a laugh with you about it the next day, but please realize that though it may feel like they’re laughing with you, they’re really laughing at you. And I don’t think I need to tell you that getting black-out drunk greatly increases the odds that you’ll do something you’ll regret the next day. You might even do something you don’t remember. What’s the point of having an experience you can’t remember?

To drink slowly, it helps to drink something you respect enough to sip slowly, either because you respect the quality and/or price of the booze you’re drinking, or because you respect its power to make you do stupid things that you or someone else will regret tomorrow. Don’t assume beer will keep you safe. Beer tends to taste like water, and you can end up drinking a lot of it before you realize how drunk it’s made you.

Another good reason to avoid beer is that it doesn’t taste as good as wine or whiskey. And do you really need the extra calories?

A few more rules:

  • Never drink on an empty stomach. Have some greasy protein, like a burger, before you start drinking. It will slow down the absorption of alcohol. You still need to drink slowly, but at least you won’t get drunk after two drinks and forget how to drink slowly.
  • Drink a glass of water for every drink you have. Hopefully, this will slow down your drinking, but if not, it should at least reduce the potential hangover.
  • Never drink alone. Drinking is a social activity. Take away the social aspect and you’re just a sad, lonely alcoholic. Not sexy.
  • Don’t drink every day. Chronic drinking is one of the fastest ways to destroy your waistline and your health. If you have problems in your life that are driving you to drink, figure out what they are, and fix them. Alcohol doesn’t actually make you feel better, it just numbs you temporarily and leaves you feeling worse the next day.
  • Don’t use alcohol to boost your confidence — Alcohol only lowers inhibition, it doesn’t make you interesting or charming. If you’re trying to talk to girls, having one drink might help you take the edge off, but anymore than that, and you’re not a sexy geek anymore, just a drunk guy like all the others. Your brain is one of your best assets. Keep it functional and your night will probably turn out better.
  • Know when it’s time to quit. A little bit of alcohol makes you feel good, but there is a point at which it starts to make you feel worse. I know it’s hard to realize when you’re at this point, and this is all the more reason to drink slowly. Don’t let it sneak up on you. When you start to feel tipsy, stop or slow down. If it’s late and all your friends are drunk, say goodnight. They’ll plead with you to stay (’cause misery loves company), but they won’t remember the next day that you left early. That way, you get the best of both worlds: a satisfying social life and a good night’s sleep.
  • Know when it’s time to quit. Alcohol is a powerful drug. If you can’t handle it, there’s no shame in that. If you’re gregarious and outgoing in social situations, no one will notice or care whether or not your glass has alcohol in it. It helps to have an amusing one-liner about why you don’t drink. One of the best I ever heard was: “Every time I start drinking I always seem to end up in handcuffs”. Or you can say what I say: “I don’t like the way it makes me feel”. If the people you’re with don’t respect this choice, chances are they’re not very nice people. They may be alcoholics, or just immature jerks with a penchant for peer-pressure. Find some more mature friends.


Drink like a man, not a teenager, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy yourself and have fond memories the next day.


Nick Cannon forced to start living like a Sexy Geek

Nick Cannon’s kidney problems have forced him to give up junk food and start taking better care of himself. I’m not sure if his poor eating habits caused his health problems, but I’m sure they contributed to his condition or at least aggravated it. Read more here.

I especially like this quote of his:

I always considered myself as someone who was in great shape, but I was doing too much (to my body) so my immune system got confused and just started attacking my kidneys… I look like I’m in shape, but I was putting the wrong stuff into my body, speeding all the time, not sleeping and eating properly – it’s all about taking time and really caring about yourself and how you fuel yourself.

I’m glad that he’s cleaned up his diet, but it’s clear that his attitudes to food still haven’t changed. He and I clearly have different definitions of “good oatmeal”:

Cannon’s since had to replace his beloved sugar-filled Lucky Charms cereal with oats as he “can’t have none of that stuff anymore”, but he moans, “(It’s) not even the good oatmeal. (It’s) real oats, like horse-feed stuff – but it’s cool. I’ve got to start to love it.”

Dude, what do you have against real oats? Maybe you’re just not making your oatmeal properly. Try this recipe from eat2succeed:

  • 1/2 cup (45 g) of rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup (157 g) of skimmed milk
  • 2/3 scoop (20 g) of chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 cup (125 g) of frozen raspberries
  • A dash of cinnamon

    High protein chocolate raspberry oatmeal (photo by eat2succeed)


Personally, I would use whole milk because I think the fat is probably good for me and it’s more filling. And I would add some chia seeds for a nice crunch and some extra fiber and god knows how many vitamins and minerals (’cause chia apparently has all of them in abundance).

Remember, if you put garbage in your body, your body will look and feel like garbage. If you put healthy food in your body, your body will look and feel healthy.

Eat smart, live smart. That’s The Sexy Geek way.

Only boring people get bored

The other day I was complaining to my wife about how bored I was. I’ve been working from home for the last six months, first for Adobe and now for myself, and it can get kind of lonely. I also don’t have a car, which impedes my sense of mobility and autonomy. I’d gotten quite used to not having a car, because in New York, you don’t need one and can get around perfectly fine without one.

I had also gotten so wrapped in my work and in my music that I had forgotten how to let loose. It used to be that drinking and music were my only hobbies. Then I gave up drinking and started working on music almost full-time. Just like that, I had no leisure time. This single-minded focus on the things I considered important was, I admit, somewhat satisfying for a while. But everyone needs a break now and then.

After several months of this, I got so bored, I seriously considered drinking again. Not that alcohol itself actually appealed to me, it just seemed like drinkers always have somewhere to go and something to do. And alcohol is definitely a social lubricant, in that it reduces inhibition, and gives people something to bond over (drinking). But if you take away the alcohol, you quickly realize some interesting things: bars are boring, drunk people are annoying, and you have to turn off your brain with alcohol to make them seem interesting.

Finally, I realized “I live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country. If I’m bored here, it’s my own damn fault!”  I’m a smart guy, surely I can figure out a way to entertain myself. So, I made a resolution to go out every night for the next 30 days.

Can going out every night be a healthy, positive thing, and not a symptom of alcoholism or sex addiction? I would say yes. Here are just some of the many benefits I can foresee from this adventure:

  • Meeting new people — I am not naturally a sociable person, so it’s important for me to practice meeting strangers every day. And it would be nice to have a broader network of friends and acquaintances here in LA.
  • Experiencing new things — What better way is there to become a more interesting person?
  • Increased productivity — Since I know I’ll be busy in the evenings, I’ll be forced to get all my work done during the day. No more screwing around.
  • Networking — I’ll never meet anyone who can help my career if I’m sitting on my ass at home.
  • Finding new ways to entertain myself and to socialize without drinking — There’s a big world outside of the bar and I intend to discover it and claim it in the name of The Sexy Geek.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

How sparkling water can help you lose weight

I have an oral fixation. Throughout my life, I’ve had problems with drinking, smoking, and eating. Sometimes, I just get bored and I want to put something in my mouth (that sounds dirty, but it’s not. Not usually, anyway). For me, sparkling water, aka club soda, or seltzer water, or carbonated mineral water, is the perfect pacifier.

Sparkling water helps you out by:

  • Silencing phantom hunger pangs — It’s two hours after a meal, you know you shouldn’t be hungry, but your stomach’s doing something funny that you just can’t ignore, and it’s impeding your ability to focus. Don’t reach for a snack, a sugary soda, a beer, or even a piece of fruit — have a glass of sparkling water instead. The bubbles will make you feel full. I suspect this is one of the reasons people drink soda. Well, now you can have your soda without turning into a fatty.
  • Ensuring adequate hydration — this may come as a surprise, but sparkling water contains large amounts of water.
  • Boosting your metabolism — if you consume it cold, your body has to burn energy heating it up. This effect is small, but significant. And don’t overlook the metabolic impact of getting up and walking to the bathroom.
  • Reducing your glycemic response — if you squeeze a lemon into it, according to Tim Ferris: “In my personal trials, three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice just prior to eating appeared to lower blood sugar peaks by approximately 10%”. That’s a lot of lemon juice for a 10% effect, so consider the lemon juice optional, and rinse your mouth out with plain water after consuming it — you don’t want citric acid sitting in your mouth eating away at your pearly whites.

And finally, sparkling water is just more fun than regular water. As I always say: I like my water to sparkle — like my intellect.

Geeks are more creative when left alone — No duh

I’ve been saying this for years, and now a nice lady named Susan Cain has come along on written a whole book about it: “leave me alone so I can get my work done!”  From an op-ed by Ms. Cain in the New York Times:

the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.

I like the part about how “they’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas”. A sexy geek knows how to socialize and is aware of the benefits of human contact — stimulation of creativity, being able to bounce ideas off of people, and of course, being able to meet people of a certain gender. But we’re comfortable with solitude, indeed, it’s crucial for us to do our best work.

Especially relevant for us programmers is this paragraph:

Privacy also makes us productive. In a fascinating study known as the Coding War Games, consultants Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister compared the work of more than 600 computer programmers at 92 companies. They found that people from the same companies performed at roughly the same level — but that there was an enormous performance gap between organizations. What distinguished programmers at the top-performing companies wasn’t greater experience or better pay. It was how much privacy, personal workspace and freedom from interruption they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, most managers refuse to grasp this incredibly obvious fact and continue to herd their best employees together like cattle. Sometimes they even have the nerve to call it a bull-pen. When they get a bunch of programmers into one massive cubicle, I call it a nerd-pen. I also call it an insult to my professionalism, a hindrance to my productivity, and a living hell (yeah, I know, #firstworldpains, but still).

If you can’t get your manager to see the light (or if you can, but they have no ability to change anything because the CEO wants everyone working in an “open-plan” office), here are some things you can do to get some productive alone time:

  • Come into work early or stay late. I’ve tried to come to work early, and it never works. I’m just not fully awake at that time of day to be productive. But the trouble with staying late is that a bunch of other people stay late, too. And they don’t seem to realize that the reason you’re at the office late is to work, not to hang out and chat.
  • Book a conference room for a few hours. Don’t invite any of your colleagues, or even tell them where you are. Lock the door in case they come looking for you.
  • Work from home, or an internet-connected cafe.

Any other ideas?