By Pegi Taylor   Published May 14, 2005 at 5:12 AM

{image1}A lot of people hate getting advice; I'm not one of them.

When I owned a Milwaukee bookstore for over a decade, I'd often have a question-of-the-month I'd try out on regular customers. The fluctuating barometer of answers allowed me to figure out my own point of view.

Generally, I'm against trying to do two things at the same time, or multitasking in current parlance. Case in point, I needed to boil down some ale for a stew I was making recently. I turned on the burner and figured I could finish off an e-mail. Of course, the message took me longer to write than I calculated, and I spent fifteen minutes scrubbing the boiled over beer off the stove.

However, I also believe females are genetically primed to juggle. Any mother can tell you that she must tune in to multiple sources of information to survive, especially when children are young.

Now, it's one thing for people to make cell phone calls when they are going to the bathroom, or people sending Internet messages to each other about a speaker while listening to a presentation. These behaviors are rude. I can sometimes hear my daughter in Los Angeles clicking away on her keyboard while we're on the phone and sense she's not quite "with me." I'm not sure if she's being inconsiderate. Our brains are capable of functioning in different planes simultaneously.

When I have baking to do, I plan ahead so I can make phone calls at the same time. I rarely leave out an ingredient and it allows me to have a leisurely chat with out-of-town friends and family. I have trouble carving out much time for long conversations otherwise. Yes, there is some clanking in the background, but I do feel I can fully concentrate on the conversation. Often, I'll alert people and let them know what I'm making and wish they were around to partake.

Some people are really offended. One person in particular won't talk to me unless he can't hear environmental noise and feels he's got my undivided focus.

Am I being obnoxious? Do you get annoyed when you are on the phone with someone and she's on her treadmill? And do readers agree that there's a gender split with attending? Are women more able, based on their historic role as mothers, to listen while doing something else?

Readers, please use the talkback feature to offer your advice. I'm asking for it!