Saturday, February 27, 2021

Considerate Behavior

Previously I wrote about the connection between being considerate and being conscientious without defining what I meant by the term considerate.  To be considerate is to refrain from behaving in a way that suggests that you failed to consider the negative impacts upon others before speaking or acting.  Sometimes, however, not speaking or acting might be inconsiderate when it would be of benefit to others for you to do so.  This thoughtlessness can be a result of apathy, selfishness, or mere ignorance.

Avoid being oblivious to the state of others to reduce the risk of being unintentionally inconsiderate.  A simple example would be making loud noises without noticing that someone nearby is on the phone.  Another would be to fail to express an appropriate level of gratitude for a gift or favor because you were unaware of the substantial cost to your benefactor.  A more complicated example might be to criticize someone for their lack of productivity at work while being clueless about their personal crises at home.

You cannot always predict ahead of time whether what you say or do will hurt or inconvenience others.  Attempting to do so might cause you to freeze up completely.  You can, however, respond positively when someone brings an issue to your attention by assuring them that the harm was unintentional and that you will avoid repeating the mistake in the future.

For more thoughts like these plus some quotidian, please see my paternal advice website.  I have been adding everything I can think of to it recently, including the kitchen sink.




Sunday, January 31, 2021

Minessentialism

I have been continuing to give or throw away at least one thing per day.  Sometimes I get behind on this but I keep track and catch up later.  It seems to be working.

I have let my magazine subscriptions lapse.  Just recently I have also been unsubscribing from all of the mailing lists that have been clogging my email inbox, including the ones that I would really like to read someday should I ever get the time.  I might re-subscribe to a few when I start seeing my email backlog shrinking rather than growing on a daily basis.

Today I finished watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and The Minimalists: Less is Now on Netflix.  The word "minimalism" is tricky as its new meaning has little to do with its previous historical definitions.  The other issue for me is that it does not capture the idea of de-cluttering your inbox in addition to de-cluttering your house.

I went digging around on the Web and discovered the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  This seems to cover the flip side that I was seeking.  Like the word "minimalism", the word "essentialism" also has a historical definition that differs from its modern meaning.

Other people have noted the connection between minimalism and essentialism.  One person illustrates this with a Venn diagram showing how they parallel and intersect.  I like to think of minimalism as freeing up your space and essentialism as freeing up your time.

I am inventing the term "minessentialism" to mean a practice that combines both minimalism and essentialism.  This word has no historical alternative definition to confuse the meaning as confirmed by a search engine.  It has the advantage of emphasizing the shared themes and goals.

 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Optihumanist Principles 2020

For my annual revision of my Optihumanist Principles, I rearranged the order of the sections to improve the flow.  I also updated the content of the Democracy and the Optimism sections.  Here is the revised document in its entirety:

  • Reality is real. We choose to live our lives free from fear of the supernatural. We uphold reason and science as paths to the truth. We build heavens for ourselves and our beloved in the here and now.

  • Religion is natural. We answer the call for a new religion compatible with the scientific spirit. We gather as a community to educate and to celebrate. We find meaning in ourselves, our descendants, and each other.

  • Democracy is respect. We adapt to change by adopting change. We demonstrate our faith in our fellowship by voting as equals. We defend the rights of others as our own.

  • Life is limitless. We create and share knowledge to expand our possibilities. We invent and innovate to overcome infirmity and mortality. We welcome the propagation of life throughout the Universe.

  • Optimism is opportunity. We hope for the best and prepare for the best. We pursue our goals tenaciously despite repeated setbacks. We recognize long-term incremental progress.



 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hoarding or Prepping

Compulsive hoarding runs in my family and until recently I myself had an issue with bibliomania that would occasionally result in a storage problem.  I have come to accept that it is not possible for me to read all of the books that I have collected over the years so I have given myself permission to unburden myself of them.  My new minimalist living rule of throwing away at least one possession every day is gradually freeing up space on my shelves at the rate of 365 books per year.

Many years ago a relative told me that when he was trying to throw away an old metal wash basin, my maternal grandmother protested that they might need it to bathe a baby at the river someday.  I was not sure what kind of scenario she might have been imagining where a city resident such as herself would have to go to the river many miles from where she lived for water.  I understood, however, that people who lived through the Great Depression and World War II thought twice about throwing anything out.

The panic buying and hoarding of food and hygiene supplies at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year made me think about the legal penalties for hoarding food during World War II.  How would that apply to people who had already accumulated an emergency cache prior to the start of a national rationing program?  I imagine that those preppers and Mormons that already had deep pantries were probably not standing in the long lines of shopping carts piled high with hand soap and toilet paper.

When a crisis hits, a prepper will already have a cache containing enough consumables to last the duration plus two of every tool required just in case one breaks.  In contrast, a hoarder will end up acquiring multiple instances of an item because the disorganized storage of his hoard prevents him from easily identifying what he already has, knowing where it is within the hoard, and easily accessing it without having to shuffle other items around it like a sliding tile puzzle.  Based on these differences, here are guidelines you can use to ensure that you are prepping and not just hoarding:

  • Know what you have
  • Know where it is
  • Keep it accessible

 


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Upload

Upload is a science fiction romantic comedy television series available on Amazon Prime video.  It describes a near future in which those facing imminent death can opt to have their brains scanned so that their personalities can live on in a virtual world.  I enjoyed watching the first season and was happy to learn that it was renewed for a second.

 


 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Logotherapy

I recently finished listening to an audiobook recommended to me by a friend titled Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl.  The author pointed out that those who had something to look forward to after the war were more likely to survive Nazi concentration camps.  The author treated his psychiatric patients using logotherapy in which patients are led to find their own reasons to live.

I like the idea that optimism helps you survive.  I agree with the author that people need to have some reason to get out of bed in the morning beyond the primitive drives of hunger, thirst, and caffeine addiction.  I also agree that it can help in cases of functional paralysis due to crippling fears of personal mortality.

To one patient who was depressed because he could not have children, the author pointed out that life on its own must have meaning beyond mere propagation.  When I think of one of my favorite movies Children of Men, I wonder if that is true.  I think a better suggestion for the patient might have been to adopt.

Another point on which I disagree with the author is his promotion of any reason for living when a patient is suicidal, whether it is true or not, so long as the patient will accept it.  For example, he lied to one patient by telling him that his current suffering would be rewarded in the afterlife.  I think finding some meaning based in reality is important and to do otherwise is likely to have negative long-term consequences.

The author pointed out that staying alive long enough to find a meaning of life in the future can become a sufficient meaning itself.  I think this works on the level of our species as a whole.  While spreading conscious life throughout the Universe seems worthwhile for what we are now, the descendants of Humanity at some future level of intelligence might determine deeper truths such as why the Universe exists and what that means with regard to our purpose within it.

 



Saturday, August 01, 2020

Storage Rotation

Everyone knows that when you store milk in your refrigerator, you put the containers with the most distant expiration dates behind containers with imminent dates. This ensures that your family is more likely to consume your oldest milk first before it expires. You due this to reduce waste.

Years ago I set up a first-in, first-out (FIFO) can storage organizer in my pantry. When I insert my cans into the top slot they roll to the back and then down behind the older cans. As I pull the oldest can out from the bottom slot, the next oldest can rolls forward.

More recently I have been using this practice of storage rotation for my clothing as well. To ensure even wear, I store my newly washed shirts on hangers behind my previously washed shirts. Bear in mind that one of my clever children once said that I dress like a cartoon character since I wear the same outfit every day.

I also started putting my newly laundered towels on the left side of the shelf and then sliding them over after I have used all of the towels on the right. I do the same for my socks so I can replace all of them at the same time when they reach a certain level of wear. When it comes time to replace all of my shirts, I might go down a size since I have been losing so much weight recently.

I have heard about parents rotating toys. They only provide a subset of the entire collection at a time. When an old toy comes back into rotation after being in the attic for some months, the children play with the toys as though they were new.

Look for more practical tips like these on my website Papa's Anthology of Paternal Advice.



Wednesday, July 01, 2020

One-up Card Game

I invented a road-trip card game for two or more players.  The rules of the game are simple and can be quickly learned by young children.  It is designed for play where there is no table for laying out cards such as playing from passenger seats in a vehicle so there is no draw pile and it does not require shuffling.

Each player starts with their own pack of cards as their hand.  If there is only a single pack of cards to be shared by all of the players, divide the pack between the players by suit colors or suits.  The time to play a game is proportional to the number of cards in a hand so some ranks or suits may be removed from play for a shorter game.

A player may view the card faces in their hand but should keep them hidden from the other players.  At the beginning of a round, each player selects a card from their hand and holds it out with the back of the card facing the other players.  After each player is holding out a card, all players simultaneously flip the cards around to reveal the ranks of the cards.

The player with the card with the highest rank adds all of the cards played that round face down onto their points pile.  If there is a tie for the highest rank, each player adds the card that they played that round to their own points pile, regardless of whether or not they were one of the two or more players that played the cards that tied for the highest rank.  Players may not review the faces of the cards in a points pile from their own points pile or that of another player.  A shirt pocket may be used to hold a points pile where there is no table space so long as the card faces are not showing.

The rounds continue until there are no more cards remaining in the player hands.  The winner of the game is the player with the most cards in their points pile.  Each pack should have a different card design so that the cards can be easily sorted back into their original packs after the game ends.

In some ways, this card game feels like playing the hand game Rock Paper Scissors except that a card can only be played once during a game.  Because of this, a player wants to avoid winning a round by playing a very high ranking card against very low ranking cards.  I named this card game "One-up" based on a winning strategy in which a player guesses the highest rank of the cards that will be played by the other players that round and then selects a card which is just one greater.


Monday, June 01, 2020

Paternal Advice

I decided to create a website collecting the advice that I want to pass on to my descendants.  I was able to get the website up and running tonight with some initial placeholder content.  I am calling it Papa's Anthology of Paternal Advice (PAPA).

I was inspired to create this website by similar books which were written by authors for the benefit of their children.  I have also heard that one should leave letters to your children to be read after you have passed.  As I document my thoughts on a variety of topics, I plan to keep in mind my children and grandchildren who are reading it as adults, possibly with children of their own.

I plan to harvest some of my essays from this blog to add to the site.  Eventually I might like to republish the PAPA website as a print book.  That way my descendants can have a tangible expression of my hopes for their success.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Weight Loss

For the last couple of months, I have been at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions.  Now that the "shelter at home" orders have been lifted, I finally got out of the house a couple of days ago to visit relatives at the family farm.  Since I have been wearing nothing but athletic shorts and t-shirts recently, it was a pleasant surprise when I put on my jeans and discovered that they were loose.

Over the last two-and-a-half months, I have lost twenty-two pounds.  I now weigh less than I have in more than seven very busy years.  I will explain how this serendipity became the silver lining in my coronavirus cloud.

It started in mid-March when I suddenly found that I had some unexpected free time on my hands due in part to the beginning of the pandemic.  To reduce stress, I converted that into treadmill time.  I was then able to achieve my daily goal of ten thousand (10k) steps per day on a consistent basis.

Shortly thereafter, my employer announced a step challenge for April with a gift card as a reward for each employee who reached a specified threshold.  Half-way through the month, my employer also announced that a matching amount would also go to a charity chosen by the participating employee.  That month I averaged 25k steps per day with a peak of 40k.

I have had a treadmill desk called a TrekDesk for five years but before April I had never really tried to use it while working from home.  Mostly I would just use it to walk while watching movies or playing multiplayer video games with my sons.  Because of the informal competition of seeing the recorded progress of other employees on a shared online spreadsheet, I decided to step up my game.

I was able to figure out a treadmill speed that was just fast enough that the pedometer on my mobile phone would consistently record a step while also still slow enough that I could continue to use the mouse and keyboard effectively.  I think this was only possible because I am a touch typist.  Once I was able to get into the zone while writing code, the time would slip away without me even noticing that I was also exercising.

I do the treading in two to four sessions per day.  I will tread for a bit, eat a meal, do some sit-down work for an hour or so while I digest, and then get back on the treadmill and repeat.  On some days when I am really motivated I will do my first treadmill session before I eat breakfast.

I think I have been losing weight by doing this for two reasons.  The first is that when I reach a certain excessive number of steps per day, I am going to lose weight no matter how much I eat.  Previously I have been able to lose weight by carefully counting my daily calories but this way just seems so much easier.

The second reason is that I am doing less snacking between meals.  I do not want to put food in my stomach if I know I am going back on the treadmill for another session soon.  I also do not want to snack at night when I am eagerly looking forward to weighing myself in the morning to see my progress.

I think getting good sleep is also an important factor in losing weight.  My extra free time lets me get to bed earlier which then makes it more likely that I will exercise more the next day.  To complete the virtuous circle, exercising more during the day helps me to fall asleep earlier at night.

There are a couple of reasons while I have persisted in continuing to walk daily since the step challenge ended almost a month ago.  The first is that now it has become a habit and I actually start to feel somewhat uncomfortable when I have not used the treadmill for awhile.  This corresponds with what I have heard about regular exercise becoming physically addictive.

This feels like some kind of cool mind hack like choosing video games that are both addictive and educational.  I am looking forward to the day when the virtual reality technology that lets you run while playing first-person multiplayer shooters becomes affordable for home use.  I think at that point the world-wide obesity epidemic will come to a screeching halt for the young male demographic.

Speaking of which, the other reason I am still striving to increase my average daily step count is that I know that "diabesity" is a major co-morbidity factor for COVID-19.  A couple of decades ago I was in bed for a month with pneumonia in which I constantly felt like I could not breathe.  I might say that for me personally there is a tinge of panic to this shared pandemic experience that has me "running" scared.