I Just Want One Thing

Re Keeping up with the Jones’ Daily Challenge

Look, this is an entitled generation, I’ve heard, and I don’t want to be a part of the problem. That’s why I just ask for one thing.

Granted, it’s not a cheap thing. And it’s technically dangerous in the wrong hands – or, to others, in the right hands – but it’s really, really awesome.

It’s magnificent. It’s fancy. It’s got cool tech. It has thrust vectoring. It has an M61A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon. It has fixed-geometry serpentine inlets and RAM. It’s got a top speed of Mach 2.25.

Ok, I should stop. I’m probably getting you all worked up.

The F22 Raptor is the most beautiful thing to come out of the most beautiful engineering segment – aviation – in at least 50 years. It’s a fifth-gen fighter aircraft capable of out-dogfighting (arguably) any aircraft ever built. Yes, it costs about $200mil apiece, but I was gonna say please. It’s also got an annoying propensity to deprive pilots of oxygen, but you don’t get into the flying game for the fresh air.

F22

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I Just Want One Thing

Sink or Swim

Re Sink or Swim Daily Challenge

Have you ever been left alone to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation?

I remember the panic I experienced when I knew I was, and how helpless I felt. I was young, really young – young enough that I hadn’t learned to swim – and I’d just exited a waterslide. It was one of those slides you go down on a blue matt and then plop out into a pool. Well, I plopped out, and still sitting on the matt, started to sink. The water level quickly rose above the matt, and my panic level immediately followed it. I looked desperately at my father for help, but none was forthcoming. I couldn’t understand. I was DROWNING! How could he just stand there looking blankly at me? I couldn’t swim!

Moments later, when through the matt my butt felt the hugely reassuring bump of the hard bottom of the pool, I finally understood why. The twenty inches of water taught me a valuable lesson: if you feel like you’re drowning, don’t panic – you’re probably just stupid.

Sink or Swim

When Keeping Resolutions is Weak

Re Resolved Daily Challenge

When I spend a day snowboarding, I’m liable to fall. In fact, I very nearly intend to.

I’ve snowboarded for years. When I was 7, I began to toboggan standing, as sitting had lost its charm. Then my father told me about snowboarding. It sounded great. It was great. I could continue to challenge myself in perpetuity. And with each challenge was the risk of a fall. In fact, I came to realize that falling was an inevitable consequence of pushing myself. If I went the whole day without falling, I knew I’d “wussed out”.

I like to think that the same should apply to resolutions. If you’re keeping them, you must not be giving yourself hard ones.

-And that, my friends, is how you can use a post-hoc analysis to feel better about your failures.

 

When Keeping Resolutions is Weak

Provenance of an Android Fanatic

Re Unpopular Daily Challenge: “Goal: write about a time you had to pick between two choices, and you picked the unpopular one”.

This post is the unpopular one.

I was recently asked by a middle-aged man where babies come from. I told him the truth – “In your case, I’d hope for a stork” – but I knew what he really meant.

He meant iPhone users.

Now before you furiously touch all parts of your screen trying to exit this without pressing your one button, know that I do understand you. In fact, I appreciate you. It’s cute. It’s hip. Mostly, it is a fair declaration to all: “I am not the type of person you’d want to trust to bag your groceries.” In the old days, to achieve the same effect, one had to wear a tricornered “Dunce Cap”. With technology’s continued progression, we’ve miniaturized it, made it elegant, and even added a virtual assistant capable of calling people whose names sound just like that of the person you tried to call. In fact, I even briefly saw someone go on the Interwebz on one (until the adorable little battery gave out – though to be fair it was over 20min since it’d been charged).

Now where did such a mindset come from? And what alternative is the author into?

Source: I find that when everyone around me is obsessed with something and trying to sell me on it before I’ve developed any interest in the topic, it acts as a buffer between me and said topic, preventing me from developing any interest in it on my own. Such was the case with the iPhone, hence my instinctive dislike. Such was the case with Armin van Buuren, who I now find annoying to hear. And such was the case with Breaking Bad – this I know I’m missing out on.

Android is the alternative. Not an alternative, mind you, but the alternative. And I don’t love Google any more than Apple. I did, by the way, but Google lost me as a fan after making Google+ signup automatic and with huge privacy issues, and losing their motto (and parallel motivation) “Do no harm”. Apple had my support after my aging and oft-dropped MacBook Pro made it into its fifth year of function.

Provenance of an Android Fanatic

Quitting Smoking

RE: Happy Endings Daily Challenge

Quitting Smoking:

  • Difficulty: Highly Variable – typically Hard
  • Main Methods: Cold Turkey; Scheduled Reduction
  • Difficulty Reducers:
    • Know Thine Enemy: be prepared for the withdrawal symptoms. Know their duration and severity.
      • For instance, cravings can be powerful. The natural expectation that the feelings will just worsen until the next smoke can be intensely disheartening. Fight that with the knowledge that:
        • This Too Shall Pass.
    • Exercise:
      • You need to exercise more.
      • You need to exercise more. (Twice isn’t quite enough but it’ll have to do).
      • It’s important that you exercise more. (Sorry for lying a moment ago.)
      • Frankly, our stress levels are generally higher than we’d like. So are our blood pressures, and our waistlines. We don’t need to be quitting smoking to have a pressing need to exercise. However, if I know smokers, you’re either an Israeli soldier or a huffing, out-of-shape mess. Let that serve as additional motivation and get to the damn gym.
      • The tautness and irritability we experience throughout the course of our efforts are much lower when we can “siphon off” our tension via exercise.
      • Don’t tell me you can’t afford to go to the gym. Even if your cigarette money isn’t enough to cover it, there’s a great instructional video on how to turn a barn into a world-class training facility called Rocky IV.
    • Enlist Those Around You:
      • The people in your life can be your biggest source of stress or comfort. Make it the latter.
        • This can be achieved by blowing smoke in everyone’s faces until they very much want you to succeed in quitting.
        • Alternatively, can achieve this by describing your goal and asking for extra leeway, understanding, or space.
    • Make Your Goal Vivid:
      • Write down and display prominently:
        • Why it’s important that you quit
          • What benefits you hope to accrue
          • What harms you hope to avoid
          • How lack of dependency / addiction itself will provide benefit or avoid harm
  • Misc Observations:
    • Substitutions can be easier and more enduring that outright eliminations
      • e.g. add new items to your schedule, and substitute some 5min activity (like Sudoku) for the cigarette breaks you’d otherwise take
      • e.g. harm yourself socially, financially, and physically in a creative new way
        • This can be done by, respectively:
          • Avoiding deodorant like a vegan Frenchman
          • Vote for Justin Trudeau
          • Drag one bare foot behind you as you walk

Good luck!

P.S. Ask your doctor about meds like Champix if you really need the assist. I’ve heard many good reports secondhand – it seems to reduce cravings and withdrawal.

P.P.S. Re using E-cigarettes to quit – if you can do so with nicotine-free e-liquid, I recommend it. My heavily-smoking friend has been non-smoking for several years after quitting that way, and he was able to wean himself off the e-cig quite easily. However, while e-cigarettes with nicotine e-liquid are certainly a great improvement over cigarettes, you lose out on one of most noticeable benefits of quitting: lack of dependence. I’ve personally quit using the latter route, and while it lasted about 5 months, I had an e-cigarette sticking out of my mouth and various related paraphernalia jangling in my pockets for the majority of those months. Furthermore, when after five months I inevitably experienced technical issues, the difficulty I had acquiring what I needed quickly prompted my return to cigarettes. As such, I’d recommend making dependence a strong elimination target in its own right.

Quitting Smoking

Expression by Fashion

RE: New Sensation Daily Challenge

Fashion. A word whose semantic meaning is uncontested, but whose practical meaning could hardly be more controversial.

One would be hard-pressed to find an English-speaking individual who doesn’t know what “fashion” means. One would be similarly hard-pressed, however, to obtain a consensus about what exactly is “fashionable”. However, to resolve this apparent contradiction by pointing out that fashion is “subjective” or “in the eye of the beholder” is to attribute to ourselves that which is externally determined.

The fact is, as much as people may use fashion to attempt to differentiate themselves from their peers, we do not determine what we like, or what we find fashionable. This is hinted to in the definition itself: “fashion – a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior” (Source: Google). A “popular trend” is by nature liked by many people (otherwise it would be neither a trend nor popular).

So how, then, do people use fashion to express their own individuality? I posit that by choosing a particular style, we ask of others that when they look at us, they see (in some sense) not us but the aggregated characteristics of those who share that particular style. For instance, when I wear a fat-suit to go to parties, I’m not trying to get everyone to see me as fat – I’m trying to get them to see me as friendly (though I’d also accept jolly). In a sense, then, the “individuality” we express is more about what group we want others to view us as belonging to then it is about our uniqueness as an individual. If fashion were a test question, the answer would therefore be multiple choice format, rather than short-answer.

Where do these aggregated characteristics come from? Associations, broadly speaking. Specifically, we associate the characteristics of the people we’ve seen displaying similar styles with the style itself – and we then display the styles (by wearing them) with the implicit hope that others will share our association (i.e. if we like people who wear tophats, we’ll wear them, assuming on some level other people will share this liking and extend such affection toward ourselves). The associations can also be manufactured deliberately, e.g. by clothing manufacturers advertising a particular item on an actress, so that people’s associations with the actress might be extended to those of the clothing item. One last source is perhaps the most interesting: the Hemline Index. This is a theory, presented by economist George Taylor in 1926 (WikiPedia):

The theory suggests that hemlines on women’s dresses rise along with stock prices. In good economies, we get such results as miniskirts (as seen in the 1960s),[3] or in poor economic times, as shown by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, hems can drop almost overnight. Non-peer-reviewed research in 2010 confirmed the correlation, suggesting that “the economic cycle leads the hemline with about three years”.[4]

In summary:

  • we use our clothes to express other individuals’ individuality
  • we use our clothes to express our oddly-accurate predictions regarding the state of the global economy
  • Footwear has not improved appreciably in 700 years (see image below and tell me it does not look better than your Uggs) source

shoe

  • Fashion is a scam.

Lemme know if I missed any of the nuances.

 

 

Expression by Fashion

Jan 25 Morning: “Write Here, Write Now” Challenge

[Re Write Here, Write Now Daily Challenge]

Waking up to a buzzing alarm on January 25th feels astonishingly similar to yesterday’s wakeup. I’m disoriented for a moment. Then angry (a preparatory measure, in case someone else woke me). Soon that gives way to a sense of hope (today is a new day, full of exciting possibilities). Finally, I poop like a man, eat breakfast, and make myself a coffee.

Feeling alert, five pounds lighter, and satiated, I pull open my laptop to get cracking.

This post is me, cracking.

 

Jan 25 Morning: “Write Here, Write Now” Challenge