– From XKCD.com

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Scott Adams on Marijuana

November 30, 2007

If the science around marijuana curing cancer were to become indisputable, and if smoking marijuana delivered the medicine, would they ever mention that in the fact sheet?
In other words, might the “fact sheet” ever be balanced for both the good and the bad?

Updated Marijuana Fact Sheet

1. Marijuana cures cancer.

2. Marijuana reduces stress.

3. Marijuana helps digestion.

4. Marijuana improves your sex life.

5. Marijuana is expensive, thanks to your government.

6. Marijuana is illegal, thanks to your
government.

7. Marijuana will make kids lazier and stupider
than usual.

8. Marijuana causes psychological dependence, similar to jogging.

9. Marijuana is expensive, similar to an iPhone.

10. Marijuana reduces the number of highway accidents.

– From Scott Adams, What If?

This Thanksgiving Break didn’t go at all like I thought it would. Well, the intrapersonal aspect didn’t. The interpersonal went off without a hitch: I had the most fun I’ve had with Chi friends in quite a long time. In 3 months, in fact. And I’ve majorly wet my chops for 3 weeks when Winter Break begins. That’s 3X as much time for fun!

But back to the intrapersonal: I had the intention of reading through a bunch of books, and writing and drawing a great deal. Most of that didn’t come to fruition for one big reason: my computer.

The hard drive in my Mac died over the break, on Thanksgiving, to be more precise. I tried to update the OS, and in the process apparently taxed the hard drive to the point of death  [sounds fishy to me, but at the same time reasonable enough that it might be true]. Luckily, and very thankfully, I got all my data off the computer before the hard drive went to storage heaven. I really had a reason to count my blessings with that one!

So besides putting me in a sour mood for a good deal of the next day [something that, unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job of managing], I also found my priorities quickly reordered to solving the computer issue. That meant that everything else, all the ‘very important’ things I wanted to get done [like write, read, and draw], got quickly placed on the backburner. And now, only a few hours away from returning to college, I have the computer issue solved, but nothing much else to show for an internal journey.

But sometimes the journey is the path. And the obstacles along the path are the teachers. I think I could learn a lot from this little episode, if I just took the time to. Which is what I’m doing here. This fiasco demonstrates a life principle in about as simple terms as it may be presented: we focus on the loud and close, often to the exclusion of the distant and important. My computer broke. I couldn’t really imagine living without my computer [it really has become a sort of extension of me, something that I’ve completely modded to match my every whim and need]. So I spent the great majority of my me-time during break trying to fix it. All the while complaining to myself about how much of the time I was wasting that I should be spending on more important pursuits.

Maybe I could have shortcircuited the whining altogether by just going to the important things instead. None of them really involved the computer. I can read, write, and draw quite easily without my Mac. I can even easily access the internet with this PC [what a though life I lead…]. I could have completely salvaged this break from Thursday evening on, had I just taken a step back and put my priorities in order.

So priorities are dynamic. Yes, at the start of this break, I had something in mind. Then something else came up that required my attention, intention, and money. I could have just given it it’s due, bought a new hard drive, and then gone about my day. Instead, I shifted, automatically, all my priorities to the new and loud problem.

Life lesson learned. Be dynamic, not static. And pay attention to what’s important, not just what’s loud/close.

Secondary life lesson reviewed. Yeah, it’s unfair. And break would have been better had the hard drive not died in the first place. But it all could have turned out far worse. And with what did happen, you only lost a day or two to aggravation. Anything else you lose is your own fault.

I hope everyone had a great break! Enjoy the rest of your semester / non-Holiday season!

November 18, 2007

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know we all wanna change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well,you know we all wanna change the world
When you talk about destruction
Well, don’t you know that you can count me out?
Yeah, you know it’s gonna be all right
You know it’s gonna be all right
You know it’s gonna be all right
You say you’d change the constitution
Well, you know we’d all love to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know you better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
You know it’s gonna be all right
You know it’s gonna be all right
All right, all right, all right

– Revolution by John Lennon, as performed by The Beatles

November 16, 2007

For tardiness: I forgive people once or twice if they have good reasons. After that, I just leave or remove them from my life. I don’t have time to constantly wait for people who don’t value the time of others. Just like in personal outsourcing, I gauge reliability before everything else. Every once in a while, sh*t happens and people are late — that’s fine. But if it’s a habit, that’s fatal.

– From How to Test-Drive Friends and Irritate People by Tim Ferriss

I love this guy. So many brilliant ideas if you mine through his site / his book [The Four Hour Workweek]. He isn’t afraid to buck the trend. And he actually has the balls to buck the trend.

As opposed to some people I know [hack, cough, me] who just get pissed off at the trend and bitch. Perhaps if I put some miracle grow on my cajones, I can solve that problem?

And as always, a nice reminder that showing up late to things constantly is cute at first, then novel, but finally annoying as hell.

Daily Growth Jog 151107 A

I just read a post by Scott H. Young on being to busy to live life. What a concept. We fill our time with so much stuff, and most of it things that we’ve already done and know will give us a certain outcome, out of fear of what might happen if we try new things.

I remember reading that humans are randomness seeking machines. But I don’t think that’s quite right. If I’m any example of a human, we’re really randomness limiting machines. We try to remove as much of the novel from life [to a certain point of diminishing returns] in favor of those things we know that will already make us, at the least, pleasured for a bit.

Let me use myself as an example: I have a few set things that I definitely do every day. Like check e-mail way too many times. And write this bidaily post [though this is relatively new when it comes to something I do every day]. I hang out with Chris at dinner. I read [most of the time, when I’m not too ‘busy’ to {which usually means when I’m not too busy worried about how busy I should really be}]. Over the past few months, I’ve run cross country. Oh, and I do homework, usually spread out but most recently for a three hour stretch in the afternoon [though I have still yet to do an actual three hour stretch all in one sitting {you wouldn’t think it would be that tough to find that time, but you would be surprised}].

Now to the things that I do much less often, but probably, maybe should do more of [but haven’t yet developed the ‘feel’ for how much I enjoy them]. These are the activities that have yet to become ‘programmed’ into my ‘subconscious’ routines. Drawing, a la as in the exercises of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Writing novels / short stories / actual essays for publication / poetry. Playing guitar for any appreciable amount of time and actually learning something from it. Going on nice long walks listening to audiobooks [which might be much more of a possibility now that I have some cash-inflow]. Actually getting into reading a book [more than once every few weeks… I’m talking reading one good book a week and actually absorbing it]. Doing yoga / meditation / chi gong / other energy work.

Okay, do you see a pattern here? I don’t know if I do. But what I do notice is that a lot of the most rewarding experiences in my life occurred when I upped the randomness. Like joining the Cross Country team at the whim of my brother and finding out that a lot of really cool people run XC. Or ending up at Ursinus, even though I wanted to go to Villanova, and then realizing that I had found just the right college for myself [and anything that might be missing is my own fault for not creating it!].

In other words, surprise, risk taking leads to the most reward. To be cliched, it’s not all the things that you did do that you’ll regret: it’s those things that you didn’t. But what does that really mean ultimately. I mean, really, what does it mean if you don’t have the guts to do it.

Well, today, just start doing more of that ‘random’ list and shift away from the ‘usuals.’ Yes, the usuals taste good. And in the short term, they’re very effective at reducing the entropy in your mind. But in the long run, you’ll probably be better off figuring out a way to get more of the ‘spice’ into your life. Not to be gay or anything. But those activities that you’ve relegated to someday/maybe may be more useful for you right now!

November 15, 2007

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Jai guru deva
Jai guru deva

– Across the Universe by John Lennon, as performed by The Beatles

November 15, 2007

Let me take you down
cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone
but it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me

Let me take you down
cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

No one I think is in my tree
I mean it must be high or low
That is you can’t, you know, tune in
but it’s all right
That is I think it’s not too bad

Let me take you down
cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Always know sometimes think it’s me
But you know I know when it’s a dream
I think I know I mean, ah yes
but it’s all wrong
that is I think I disagree

Let me take you down
cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever
Strawberry fields forever
strawberry fields forever

~ Strawberry Fields Forever by John Lennon, as performed by the Beatles

Containment as a Life Policy

November 15, 2007

Daily Growth Jog 131107 B

The word of the moment right now is containment. Or focus. But the way I want to think about it for now is containment.

I came to this concept after deciding to encapsulate my school work to an intense 3 hour period in the middle of the day. Quarantine might be an even better metaphor. Because that 3 hours of work, if I spread it out over the course of the day in, say, a bunch of 20 to 30 minute periods [as I’m apt to do] would sap a lot of the energy from my day. It’s sapping energy from my day right now, and I feel very confident that I’m near where I should be in almost all of my projects. At least, more so than I have been in quite some time.

Which makes me think this is a really good idea. Because if I feel uncomfortable with it right now, knowing that I have it under control, I can only imagine how lost I am when I don’t have the containment going at all. But the funny thing is that I’m probably so lost at the point that I think the stress is something that should be happening. But, uh, no! That’s not the point of any of this at all! The point is to live life with ease, while approaching those things that I know I should approach. The point isn’t to stress about the things that I’m not doing while I’m not doing them and thus sap all the energy out of the things I should be doing.

In other words, it’s all about containment. It’s all about figuring out ways to ‘quarantine’ / box off / separate those parts of my day so that I can focus on one thing at a time. And I guess this really is about focus. About putting on a certain cap and working from that place for a long period of time. That way I don’t have to deal with the rev-up / rev-down periods. I have this obsession with short bursts of work. But sometimes those short bursts really aren’t as effective as one long, sustained push. A long sustained push can get you past things that a bunch of hornet type attacks could never approach. And the key is to realize that and go with it. To be open to the moment as it is. And then approach it from the most powerful perspective that I can.

Which this also makes me think about planning vs. doing, and how it’s best to separate those into two different phases that rarely ever interact. In reality, it’s a good idea to not plan while you should be acting and not to act while you should be planning. The two types of thinking [to use a cliche, one right brained and one left brained] don’t mix well. While ones on, the other is automatically off. And vice versa. It’s, possibly, impossible to let the two states of thinking coexist. You’re either doing or planning. Or you’re doing planning. But there aren’t really any other options.

Containment makes sense when you consider how much free time we really have. And we could do so much with that free time if we knew what to do with each little sliver of time as a combination into a big sliver of time. If you add all the infinitesimal pieces of time together, you get the times that you need to make sure to contain. You should put borders up, flexible borders, yes, but borders nonetheless. Homework time. Reading time. Writing time. Hanging out time.

Lucy in the Sky…

November 14, 2007

I now have all the synthetic tools to make lucy in the sky. It turns out that said chemical is just an amide of a common acid found in ergot. So all you have to do is activate the carbonyl on a chemical isolated from the ergot with, say, thionyl chloride, and react in some diethylamine. Tada, magic time!

Funny thing is all of those things are relatively easy to get. That is, except for the ergot. Yet again, the government has managed to make something that grows naturally hard to get.

On a more interesting note, apparently 1 gram of the stuff contains about 10,000 hits. I call that a good percent yield!

Because drug and explosive synthesis are the only reason I stay awake in Organic Chemistry!

Or to put it another way that sounds less anarcho-hippie, it turns out the two coolest things in chemistry are carboxylic acids [and their derivatives] and benzene [and its derivatives]. Yet you don’t get to those until your second semester of organic chemistry. I have definitely experienced that whole ‘way cool how this all comes together!’ feeling in organic chemistry over this past semester. Everything in organic I was kind of a mish-mash of random theory we needed to get to where we are today. But looking down from the mountain we climbed, it’s pretty cool stuff.

Damnit, I like organic chemistry! What the hell, that wasn’t supposed to happen…

PS – If you’re feeling psychedelic, I advise listening to the soundtrack to the new musical Across the Universe. Nothing like Beatle’s covers to put you in the mood for some lucy.