Saturday, March 19, 2016

* exodus by leon uris

* i found a stash of my high school and college book reviews. any askterisked titles denotes a book review from this period.

february 21, 1994

exodus, by leon uris, is an exciting book about how the jews gained their freedom after hundreds of years of persecution by the russians, germans and many other countries, that tried to exterminate the jewish race.  anyone who reads this book will gain an understanding of the jews and see why is was so important that they should fight for a homeland of their own.

the novel starts out on cyprus with a reporter meeting up with a nurse and old friend - kitty fremont.  kitty was on vacation in cyprus, but later went to work in a british detained persons camp for exiled jews after world war two.  she later meets a man by the name of ari ben canaan, who is a leader of a jewish organization.  together with the report, mark parker, they get an old ship, the exodus, and train children and prepare them to go to israel.  mark writes a story about how the jews are treated by the british and sends it back to london in order to get the world on the side of the jews.  finally the british let the boat go to israel.  when they get there, the organization gets the children into camps and cities called kibbutzes.  kitty also goes with the children, but mainly for the reason of a girl named karen clement.  karen went mainly for a boy named dov landau, who was an excellent forger.  when karen and dov arrive there, karen stays with kitty and dov goes and joins the maccabees, a terrorist group fighting for the freedom of the jews.  later on, dov and a man by the name of akiva, who was ari's uncle, are captured by the british.  ari goes to the maccabees and helps them get akiva and dov out of th British jail.  their plan succeeds, but akiva dies and ari is shot in the leg.  at about the same time, kitty and karen were preparing to leave to the united states.  when kitty hears that ari is injured, she goes to him and nurses him back to health.  after all this time, the united nations votes on the issue of the jews obtaining a homeland or not.  the jews get their homeland.  the arabs did all that they could do to keep israel from becoming a state and they end up fighting the jews to do so.  the jews put up a miraculous fight to keep their homeland.  they end up keeping all their homeland at the end.

the theme of the book is nothing byt to show the world what the jews went through to get their state.  leon uris, just as his other books, puts fiction with reality.  in this book, he uses flash-back to tell the story of the jews before, during and after world war two.  the graphic disgust of what the germans did to the jews is also portrayed in this novel.  if there were any lesson to be learned from the book, it would be the reminder of what the jews went through and how no one should ever go through what they experienced.

exodus is an excellent book to read if one wants to lean the story of the jews.  leon uris is probably one of the best sources for this subject.  he spent many years researching, reporting and travelling through the countryside of israel.  exodus might also perhaps be one of the best books about the jewish story.

mr. puckett gave me a 46/50; with the comments, "don't tell so much of the story and devote more time to response and reaction"  reading this again, i vigorously agree with his assessment!

* fahrenheit 451 by ray bradbury

* i found a stash of my high school and college book reviews.  any askterisked titles denotes a book review from this period.

february 14, 1994

Fahrenheit 451, by ray bradbury, takes place in a distant future of the 1990's.  guy montag is a fireman who burns books rather than saving houses and other burning buildings.  one day he meets a girl who is carefree and looks at the simple pleasures of life.  she ends up talking to montag, almost every day, about the little things like looking at the dew on the grass in the morning or the smell of burning leaves.  montag starts to change from being a slave to the society to becoming an individual for himself.  later on, guy finds out that the girl and her family disappear and he becomes suspicious.  guy also starts to take books from the houses he is burning.  capteam beatty, the head of the firemen, comes to talk to montag.  beatty knows that montag is starting to question the society in which they live.  beatty ends up explaining the reasons behind burning the books.  guy ends up killing all the firemen in his unit during a burning and then goes on the run.  he escapes and just when he gets to a camp of runaways, just like him, another war breaks out and the city he left was obliterated.  the story ends with the runaways walking back to the city.

this book is well-written and has an excellent meaning to it when it talks about censorship and how far it could go.  this book also shows the change in guy montag at the end of the story.  at the beginning, guy was just another person, but as the story progressed he gradually changed from being a common villain, to a hero who has beaten the corrupted system.

the theme of the book is all about censorship.  ray bradbury's whole point was to avoid the censorship of anything pure.  he protests the whole idea of shortening plays and writing condensed versions of plays and books and whatever else is written by original authors.  he is against anything that cuts, destroys, or makes anything of the work, other than itself in its original form.

fahrenheit 451 is one of the best books that has been written by ray bradbury and has an excellent message that every person in american should learn and remember.  every person is himself and no one else should judge how he should express himself or take away the right to do so.

mr. puckett gave me a 49/50 on the report; with the comment 'a little too much story-telling but not bad.  what is the significance of the title?'

Monday, February 22, 2016

read two things related to stoicism and food today

a little context first ...

i did a fabulous job losing weight from march to august of 2015.  i kept the weight off from august to november.  but then from thanksgiving until today, i've been gaining about 0.4 lbs a week.  so, last night, while i was trying to fall asleep, i was meditating and thinking of ways to eat less and eat better.

then today, while reading, i came across two food-related stoic thoughts.

first, in reddit, this post discussed food meditation.

and secondly, while reading stoicism and the art of happiness, i read this:
"here's a novel idea ... try eating a more healthy diet for the next week.  there is an important 'stoic' twist, though.  when you're trying to stick to your plan, rather than motivating yourself by thinking about some desired outcome, such as losing weight or improving your health, etc., focus instead on the inherent value of developing self-discipline. losing weight or improving your health isn’t guaranteed with any diet; it’s not directly under your control, but partly in the hands of fate. it’s also something that’s off in the future, a ‘hope’, a consequence of your actions rather than something happening ‘here and now’. by contrast, prudent self-discipline is good and praiseworthy in itself, whatever the long-term result.

you don’t need to imitate an ancient stoic or cynic diet, just challenge yourself to eat more healthily for a week or so, using your own common sense to guide you. for the record, though, the stoics followed the advice of socrates that we should ‘eat to live’ rather than ‘living to eat’. in his lecture on food, musonius rufus argued that mastering one’s appetite is the very foundation of training in self-control. he says stoics should drink only water and avoid gourmet meals, preferring vegetarian food that’s nourishing but cheap, convenient to obtain, and easy to prepare (for example, milk, cheese, honey and certain fruits and vegetables, etc.). he says Stoics should eat slowly and with mindfulness, exercising moderation and self-control. for some modern readers just having still water for a week, instead of other drinks, might be a good initial challenge.

remember, the goal is to improve your self-discipline and related ‘virtues’ or character strengths, rather than to lose weight or gain physical health. if you’re exercising self-discipline and perseverance, though, it makes sense to do it in a healthy direction, doesn’t it? stoics refer to physical health and fitness as something ‘preferred’ but ultimately irrelevant, or ‘indifferent’, in relation to true happiness and fulfillment. cultivating a healthy character, is infinitely more important to them than cultivating a healthy body. nevertheless, we develop self-discipline precisely by trying to do healthy and appropriate things in the world, whether or not they turn out as we’d have preferred."

Monday, January 25, 2016

the car battery and the manager

during the week of january 17 to 23, i noticed my truck would hesitate to start.  being almost 4 years old, i sense the battery was about to die.  i figured it would last a week and i could get a new battery on the weekend.

friday came and after i finished work, i decided to leave a little early and go to the shop to replace the battery.  however, the truck did not start and i knew the battery was dead.  i needed to be at my son's flag football practice by 4:30pm.  it was just before 3:00pm and i was an hour away.

i contacted the site security and asked if they had jumper cables; they said they didn't and in fact, it was campus policy that vehicles cannot be jump started on the premises.  i needed to have my truck towed off the campus.  so i called a wrecker service and they said they would be there in a the next hour or so.

next, i sent an email out to the parents of my flag football team to let them know to either carry on without me or to just cancel practice.

then i waited.

it was at this point that i felt completely calm.  it was unusual because if these circumstances had happened to me in 2014 or 2013, i think i would have been a complete ball of anxiety and worry.  but in 2016, i was calm and welcomed the time to my self to sit in my inner citadel.

this is what stoicism has done for me.

on monday january 25, i attended an all-day meeting with a manager and his leadership team.  this manager is known for his deliberate and very meandering and over-detailed meetings.  i was there to share some financial data with him and his team.

as i presented the data and began answering questions, it became evident that i had committed an error and that the manager had made an error in his assumptions which impacted the data as well.  in that situation, i calmly fixed my error and was able to keep a very clear head as i addressed the manager's concerns.

had this happened to my in 2014 or 2013, i most likely would have been sweating and quite flustered.  but in 2016, i was able to keep my cool and address the situation dispassionately.

life continues to get busier and more stressful for me; but i have never felt calmer and more in control than i have this year - the year i have embraced stoicism.

in a conversation with my wife, she acknowledged that i am handling the extreme stress of my job and all the other demands of life.  in 2014 or 2013, i would have been very grumpy and moody.  in 2016, i am even-keeled.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

thoughts from this week

as i listen to meditations every day on my commute and as i try my best to practice stoicism, i keep thinking that i ought to do as marcus did and simply write my own version of meditations.  perhaps sometimes i can tweet my thoughts while others i can write on my blog.

two recurring thoughts from this week:

the impermanent nature of things; change is constant.  the brand new campus, on which i work, will one day be abandoned - therefore there is no need for awe.  everything new that is being built now, will one day be old like much of the roads and buildings i see today.

as marcus said (and i'm paraphrasing here), a 40 year old man has seen it all.

marcus also quotes epictetus who says (again, i'm paraphrasing) when you kiss your child at night, think that perhaps they will die the next day.  this helps to focus your thoughts on what's important now - in the present.  i did this this week with my children.

focus on the present.  i'm in a bad habit of leaving work on friday and immediately feeling depressed because i know the weekend will end soon and i'll be back to work on monday before i know it.  not only does this rob me of the present, but it seemingly defeats the purpose of having a weekend away from the normal monday - friday work.

to myself, i say, organize yourself friday afternoon and leave urgent affairs in a good position.  be prepared for monday and then leave work for the weekend; both physically and mentally.  then focus on the weekend and the matters of the weekend.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

things i'd like to accomplish over the holidays

just putting some ideas down about what i'd like to have accomplished over the next two weeks during my holiday break.

  1. list out stoic practices (see here) and create terms for them that are meaningful to me
  2. develop a cadence for practicing them and writing about how i practice them
  3. play at least 7 chess games (30 0); play lots of blitz and solve a lot of problems on chesstempo
  4. start recording my own audio book of meditations (so i can listen to it every day during my commute)
  5. plan and begin creating lessons for the sunday school class i teach (for 2016)
  6. finish reading and creating book reviews for the obstacle is the way
there might be others that i think of and add to the list

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

practice being in need of only a few things

while perusing a stoic blog today, i came across this post.

in that post, there was a quote.  i searched this quote and found the full quote at this link.

here is the quote by crates of thebes:
practice being in need of only a few things, for this is the closest thing to god.
for the gods need nothing.  but, so that you may learn more exactly what is involved in having few needs ... reflect that children have more needs than adults, women than men, invalids than the healthy, and, in general, the inferior everywhere has more needs than the superior.  therefore the gods have need of nothing and those nearest to them have the fewest needs.
it is a worthy pursuit, in all aspects of life, to need little.  in possessions; in entertainment; in clothing; in food.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

make your life count

in reading meditations this morning, i came across this passage:

people marrying, having children, falling ill, dying, fighting, feasting, trading, farming, flattering, pushing, suspecting plotting, praying for the death of others, grumbling at their lot, falling in love, storing up wealth, longing for consulships and kingships.  and now that life of theirs is gone, vanished. 
similarly, look at the histories of other eras and indeed whole nations, and see how many lives of striving met with a quick fall and resolution into elements.  above all, review in your mind those you have seen yourself in empty struggles, refusing to act in accord with their own natural constitution, to hold tight to it and find it sufficient.  and in this context you must remember that there is proportionate value in our attention to each action - so you will not lose heart if you devote no more time than they warrant to matters of less importance. 
so where should a man direct his endeavour?  here only - a right mind, action for the common good, speech incapable of lies, a disposition to welcome all that happens as necessary, intelligible, flowing from an equally intelligible spring of origin.

i have just completed an enterprise leadership training course.  to say the least, it was inspiring and insightful.  i feel changed and now i am change.  no, that is not a typo.  i did not intend to write "i am changed", rather "i am change."  my paradigm has shifted from passive to active.

to help further explain, allow me to use a couple of seemingly cliche clips from dead poets society.

this one life, is all we have to live. weather we believe in an afterlife or eternal life or not, that does not matter. for the response to either belief is the same: that we have one life to live; one life to prove what we are worth.  and should we live a life of pleasure, devoted to hedonism?  should we eat, drink and be merry all the days of our life?  the stoic says, no.

the stoic believes in living a right life; a life of virtues; a life of improvement and in helping the common good.

so, what will you do?  how will you seize the day?  what verse will you contribute to the powerful play?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

178.8 - a new 20 year low

In March this year, I was bouncing between 215 and 213 lbs.  I set a goal for myself to drop to 180 lbs.  I went to work by developing two habits.

First, I developed the habit of waking up between 4 and 4:30am every weekday and going on a 4 mile walk (1 hour).  I had been developing this habit for the last two to three years.  This year, I simply didn't let myself off the hook.  I'm at a point now where I simply can't live without going on my 4 mile week day walk.  It's like sleep - I just do it.  As a side tip, I leveraged the "Alarm Clock Xtreme Free" app to ensure I get up and stay up in the morning.  In order to turn the alarm off, I have to solve 6 complex math problems, which require me to get up, sit at my computer, open the calculator and punch in the numbers.  By the time I'm done solving the problems, I'm too awake to go back to bed.

Second, I developed the habit of weighing myself before and after my 4 mile walk.  I have a "weight record template" I print out and hang on my closet wall, right above the scale.  I love recording my weight and seeing how it drops.  It's basically positive reinforcement for walking and eating well.

Along with those two habits, I developed a system that works quite well for me.  This system allows me to enjoy eating the foods I love while still losing weight.  The system goes like this: Monday through Friday are "work days."  It helps to have a very busy life and work schedule to keep your mind occupied.  Sitting around being bored at home causes boredom eating.  During the week days, the only food I eat (and the only food my mind and body really need) is as follows:

1. Isagenix Cleanse mix + Crystal Light (caffeinated) + 90oz of ice water.  I drink this on my commute to work.

2. Isagenix Refresh (like Gatorade) + Crystal Light (caffeinated) + 90oz of ice water.  I drink this during my first two hours at work.  I also take an Isagenix metabolisim boost pill.

3. 90 oz of ice water. I drink this during the latter part of the morning.

4. Depending on the day, I may eat lunch with co-workers.  But on those days when I don't eat lunch, I eat a 30 calorie Isagenix wafer.

Now, at this point, you're probably freaking out about the lack of food that I'm eating.  And you're probably wondering how this is even possible.  Believe me, I've tried lots of different systems (eating breakfast, lunch and dinner; eating six small meals, snacking on veggies ... I've tried a lot of different systems).  But, for many different reasons, those systems just didn't work for me.  The weight would stay on; I would get tripped up on trying to keep track of calories; my mind would be fuzzy, I'd be sleepy ... there are many reasons why those systems didn't work.  The bottom line is, this system works for me on many different levels.  I have energy.  I have focus.  My mind is clear.  I'm not so sleepy.  It is sustainable.

5. After commuting home, if I didn't eat lunch, I will have a small, healthy snack and then make myself an Isagenix protein shake.  One scoop of ionix and two scoops of the strawberry protein mix with iced water.

6. After the shake for dinner, I drink 90 oz of water.  And then I'm pretty much done ... I feel full and I don't think of food or eating.

That is my routine during the week.

Then on the weekends, if I feel so inclined, I will allow myself to indulge a little - go out to dinner.  I also allow myself to eat my favorite indulgence: frozen greek yogurt (usually blueberry or peach).  I also double my miles on Saturday and Sunday.  I will walk 8 miles each morning.  So, 4 miles each weekday, 8 on Saturday and Sunday equates to about 36 miles a week along with normal walking.  Per my FitBit, I average about 13,000 steps a day.

And that is pretty much it - that is my system that works so well for me.  I love it!  It's sustainable!  And I don't anticipate any changes to my system anytime soon.  I think the weight will stay off for a long time.

So what has this system accomplished for me?  I weighed in at 178.8 this morning.  According my my records and estimates, that is the lowest I've weighed in about 20 years.  That is even lower than when I did the Shangri-La diet 9 years ago (see this post).

The next habit I want to develop is getting into sit-ups and push-ups and bi-cep curls.  I'd love to be able to do 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups in one session.

But for now, I'm basking in my achievement!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

br: obstacle - the discipline of perception

over the course of my career, i've heard so many managers call a bad situation an 'opportunity' that it drove me nuts.  why could they not simply call it what it was - a menace, an annoyance, misfortune or whatever.  by why all this spin and political correctness?  for years this bothered me, then it simply became amusing and finally it became an attitude after learning of stoicism.

in the chapter entitled 'the discipline of perception' we learn of john d rockefeller and his secret to building an empire.  in the course of his life, through multiple obstacles, rockefeller developed an ability to keep a cool head in the face of adversity.  while his competitors would become fearful and anxious, and only see doom, and would cut and run, rockefeller would see opportunity and figure out a way to turn it to his advantage.

another phrase that has bothered me over the years is a phrase i often heard in the last couple of presidential elections: 'never let a crisis go to waste'  i guess it bothered me because the politicians who often used the phrase would exacerbate the social problems the crisis created.  however, i don't think the phrase only applies to one political party.  no matter the situation or crisis, we can choose to have an attitude that works t our advantage.

in summary, those who are overcome with fear and anxiety should heed the example of rockefeller.  seize the initiative; own the bad situation and train your attitude to figure out a way to make things work for you instead of against you.

let me wrap up with some advice from the author.

you will come across obstacles in life—fair and unfair. and you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. you will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming—or possibly thriving because of—them.

there are a few things to keep in mind when faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

we must try:
to be objective
to control emotions and keep an even keel
to choose to see the good in a situation
to steady our nerves
to ignore what disturbs or limits others
to place things in perspective
to revert to the present moment
to focus on what can be controlled

Sunday, August 2, 2015

br: "the obstacle is the way"

over the next several weeks, i will be sharing my thoughts and opinions about ryan holiday's book "the obstacle is the way"

i've been reading it for several weeks, mostly reading and re-reading several chapters.  this book is one of those books that is suited to be read at any point and at any time.  it is almost like a daily reader type book.

as i read it, i'd like to summarize the chapters, opine and discuss how it applies to my own life.

if you come across any of these posts, feel free to comment or raise discussion points.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

keep moving forward

one of my favorite movie characters is rocky balboa. this speech he gives to his son, reminds me of the marcus aurelius quote: "so other people hurt me? that's their problem. their character and actions are not mine. what is done to me is ordained by nature and what i do by my own."

What is it you said to the kid? The world ain’t always sunshine and rainbows; it’s a very rough, mean place. And no matter how tough you think you are, it’ll always bring you to your knees and keep you there, permanently, if you let it. You are nobody and you’re never going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about hard you hit, but it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take; and keep moving forward. If you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth, but you’ve got to be willing to take the hit.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

a busy, simple life

i had one blog post in march.

as previously noted, i started a new assignment with my company.  my new assignment has been tremendously busy.  along with the longer hours at work, i also work in a different office location which has added an extra 30 minutes to my commute.  i'm now driving roughly two hours a day instead of one.

interestingly enough, i've never been happier.

longer work hours have solved at least one problem: boredom eating.

at the same time i began my new assignment, i started a new daily routine.  i get up at 4:30 in the morning, walk four miles, clean up, commute and then work from 7am until about 5:00pm.  on my way to work, i snack on a small bit of almonds.  for lunch, i eat an avocado and then on my commute home, i eat another little bit of almonds  by the time i get home, i only have time to help the kids with homework, eat a small dinner and then put the kids to bed.  on some days, i'm able to exercise a bit more after i arrive home.

this has been my routine the last four weeks.  i've lost 7 pounds, have more energy and have had greater focus.  before this new assignment, i would watch at least an hour of tv in the evening.  after the new assignment, i've watched no more than an hour of tv on the week days.

life is busy, but it is also simple.  it's work, family, exercise and sleep.

photo source: mashable

Monday, March 9, 2015

thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ...

the oxford dictionary defines covet as "yearn to possess or have (something)."

synonyms for covet include desire, yearn for, crave, have one's heart set on, want, wish for, long for, hanker after / for, hunger after /  for, thirst for

to covet something, means you really, really want it.  usually, in the biblical sense, coveting something that belongs to your neighbor is a sin.

the other nine commandments are outwardly manifested.  in other words, one can easily determine if a person is keeping a commandment or not by observation.  however, the tenth commandment is a commandment which cannot be easily observed.  coveting a neighbor's possessions is a sin of the heart.

coveting what others have is the root of our consumer-driven society today.  virtually all marketing today is an appeal to have more; to have what others already have and are enjoying.  simply put, marketing sells coveting.

one christian pastor opined, "covetousness is something which our culture seems to value, and which the church has become accustomed to, even catering to it instead of condemning it.  i honestly believe that if coveting were to immediately cease in america, our economy would be in shambles" (link)

i'm not so sure america's economy would crumble if everyone began obeying the tenth commandment, but i do agree with the sentiment.  coveting is a the big religion in america, in which even churches participate, with some churches going so far as to fund billion dollar shopping malls (link).

so, what is the antidote for coveting our neighbor's possessions?  in a word, contentment.

and to be content, we need to be grateful for what we already have.  having a grateful heart and letting love into our heart will breed contentment.

watch less television and advertising (read this becomingminimalist blog post).

another way to counter coveting is to focus on what really matters in life.  focus on relationships and spending time with others.  serving a loving others is always a good answer to many problems.

seeking knowledge and wisdom instead of things or more stuff is also a good way to prevent coveting from corrupting our heart.  read a book, learn a new language, learn a new skill - all good antidotes.

the bottom line is we need to get at the root of our problems.  and one of those roots where we need to apply our ax is covetousness.

image source:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

minimalist office

last year, the company i work for adopted an open and shared space environment.  around jaunary of 2014, i moved from a private office to an open cubicle-type shared office space.  this meant that i no longer had my own desk.  rather, i would simply choose from a bank of desks, which desk i would work at for the day.

i remember last year, when i was packing up my office, that i had a few boxes of 'stuff.'  this stuff included books, notebooks, memorabilia, pictures, files, pens, pencils, cup-holders, my stash of tea and drink mixes and other stuff.  i decided, with the move to the open shared office space, that i would go paperless and have little to zero things.

i have largely achieved this goal.  whereas i used to have lots of notepads and notebooks, now all my notes are captured using microsoft one-note.  the only times i have needed to print or use paper in the last year was for business-required purposes.  but if the purpose was my own, i found a way to use/store it electronically.

all my other stuff, i ditched or gave away.

today, i moved office locations again.  i cleaned out my personal locker and all of my stuff fit in one small bag.  mostly the stuff i had were drink mixes, a mug and some books from a training class i had taken recently.  in a matter of 3 minutes, i was packed and gone from my old office.

my new office is much like my old office, only now i have an assigned seat again.  all i have at my new desk now is my mug and phone charger, along with my laptop and docking station, which were provided by my company.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

clutter at critical mass

in the past two weeks, i came across two memorable articles.  both articles point to the fact that society's clutter has reached a point where more and more people are either taking up minimalism to re-gain their lives, or they are making a living off those people who are trying to implement minimalism.

if you go back 100 years, people possessed things for either utility's sake or for status' sake.  the great depression created economic scarcity.  people who lived through the great depression ended up hoarding or at least developed the sense to hold on to things for a long time.  as technology progressed, the old went out and the new came in.  families handed down electronics and furniture; children felt compelled to hold onto possessions their parents or grandparents gave them.  as more time passed, our possessions began to bury us; in some cases literally.

and now in 2015, we find ourselves in a post-scarcity economy, where having little to no possessions is now a symbol of status.  as this nytimes opinion states, "in some well-off circles, people boast about how little they own" and more of the "richest americans [are] increasingly consum[ing] expensive experiences - like a trip to bhutan - rather than material goods."

in 2015, we are also seeing how people can become professional dumpster divers.  big box retailer stores are so well off, that returned items can be easily discarded in dumpsters.  savvy people who are quick on the draw can retrieve these items before the dump truck arrives, repair or simply resell the items on an alternative market.  this wired article, towards the end of the column, estimates a professional dumpster diver could make $600,000 a year!  this is a rather extraordinary way to make money off people (businesses) shedding excess.  the more common approach to make money off minimalism is to garner a following, write a book and then sell it.

any search on the internet or twitter or amazon will return results of people who are either writing about this movement or people who are willing to sell their consulting expertise on how to de-clutter and minimize their life.

in summary, i find the whole of it quite interesting.

image source: instagram emma.putnam_

Friday, February 13, 2015

direct orders

i really enjoy scott adams' blog posts.

today, he wrote a really interesting post on self-control, entitled "can you make yourself less lazy?"

the crux of his argument goes:

"How does one break the laziness stalemate? My method involves imagining the executive control part of my mind giving direct orders to my arms and legs. I literally watch my arm rise on command of my executive control. I know from experience that once my body is moving I will feel less lazy, so all I need to do is stand up. Curiosity is a powerful motivator, and my executive control wonders whether I can command my arm to move while I feel so lazy. So I give my arm a direct command and watch what happens. It moves! And that’s usually enough to transfer control of my actions back to the rational part of my brain, at least temporarily."

it's worth a shot to see if this helps in developing good habits and breaking bad ones.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 minute GID

you can break rooms and big areas of your home into little chunks; then deal with the chunks and liberally throw away.

for example, our dog's cage has been sitting in this spot, unused for at least six months.  since then, it has become an informal table whereupon bottles, boxes and bags have settled.  next to the cage is a fan that was displaced from another part of our home.  i found that i began to use it last summer, but during the winter months, it too has been unused.  then you have the tote-box, some gatorade bottles and a few shirts i've been meaning to donate.

today, i just decided to GET IT DONE.

the dog cage, while not used often, does get used a few times a year.  i put it in storage.

the tote box, along with a few other tote boxes that were in the same room, are actively being used.  i put them in a proper area too.

the bottles were stowed in the pantry (don't know how they ended up in this room).

the fan was moved to another wall.

the clothes were put into the "to donate" bag.

while not much was tossed out in this area, other areas of our home that are chunk-able, will have a lot to be discarded.

Monday, February 9, 2015

scheduling habits

Alarm Clock Extreme
a few years ago, when i was really determined to consistently get up early in the morning, i downloaded an alarm clock that had a really neat feature.  to dismiss the alarm, i had to correctly answer a given number of math problems.  i set the math difficulty to 'hardest' so that i had to actually get out of bed, retrieve my phone from across the room, go to my computer and start the calculator and solve the six difficult math problems.  by the time i solved all six, i was awake and ready to go.

this month, i'm working on a few habits; and for every single one, i've put it on my calendar and set an alarm for it.

my first alarm goes off at 4:40am.  after solving six hard math problems, i weigh myself, get my jogging clothes and shoes on, and i'm out the door by 4:50am.

my second alarm goes off at 4:15pm; to remind me to ingest coconut oil while plugging my nose (confused?  see details about the shangri-la diet).  after wards, i will exercise (4 mile walk, basketball, etc).

my last alarm is at 9:30pm; to remind me to ingest a spoonful of honey, update my records and then go to bed.

i feel confident these habits will form and the alarm clock with the math-dismiss, will give me pause to think about what it is i'm trying to achieve, instead of mindlessly swiping away the reminder and procrastinating self-improvement.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

opinion: overboard on minimalism

the recent headlines this week featured the debate about whether parents should vaccinate their kids or not.

in a recent perusal of reddit, i came across a youtube video of that national geographic series called "live free or die."

while these ideas were swirling around in my head, i came to a couple of conclusions.

first, both movements (people who choose to not vaccinate their children, and people who choose to live off the land) seem to be a rebuttal of post-modern day society being overly consuming.  and these movements are an attempt to push back against consumerism and extravagant living.  the minimalism movement agrees, by and large, with the rebuttal, but maybe not so much the conclusions.

second, the conclusions of the anti-vaccination and live-off-the-land movements are not progressive.  in fact, they are very regressive and adherents to both movements have a high percentage chance of dying too early.

in my opinion, the middle-ground rebuttal to over-consumerism and extravagant living is the right way to go.  we can minimize a lot of distractions and possessions in our life.  but there is no need to go overboard and essentially quit civilization.  both over-reactions are dangerous and anti-social.

if everyone chose not to vaccinate, the impacts on society would be horrendous; setting civilization back few hundred years.

inexperienced people who decide to live off the land, put themselves at risk.  in one example of the live free or die episode, i watched in bewilderment as a man found a pack rat, killed it with a rock in a sling-shot and then when the dead rat was stuck in an upper limb of a tree, he climbed the tree and knocked the rat out.  this must have taken a few hours to kill, retrieve, skin and cook this 'snack', all while putting his life at risk.  i just shook my head in disbelief.

i'll stick to the principals of minimalism; focusing on what matters most. but i won't surrender the decades and centuries of experience our ancestors sacrificed so that we can live in a world that is free of problems that killed so many people in the past.

comic source: