#PaidMe2021

Remember the #PaidMe threads in the summer 2020?

It is fine if you don’t – they seem to have died out as fast as they blazed on to the Twitter scene.

To say that a lot happened in 2020 would be to understate and understatement. Now the situation in the US is beginning to stabilize (go get your sticks, folks πŸ’‰πŸ’‰) with an accompanying boom in hiring.

But if people are getting hired again, are they getting paid enough?

With wages required to “live comfortably” rising, it is as important as ever to openly discuss compensation and DO YOUR RESEARCH.

I follow off of my own #PaidMe post from last year here in the possibly vain hope you won’t devalue your own worth (but who knows – this post may be showing me caught with my pants down).

Just as Adam Ruins Everything, without further to do,

The Data 2021

THP – Take Home Pay (assuming only income taxes without contributions apply)
Inf – Inflation (not used for this year)
CoL – normalized to national Cost of Living (compare this)

#TechPaidMe #GameDevPaidMe
Senior Software Engineer
Base: $123,000
THP: $92,967
CoL: $90,259.22
MZ, owned by AppLovin
Las Vegas, NV

Let’s talk about this.

Takeaways

I believe these are high numbers (if interviews with Las Vegas-based businesses are to be believed). This does not include bonuses, stock options, WFH, or other benefits (rough estimate would increase base pay 130% for that value).

The term “Golden Handcuffs” comes to mind, but that’s another post.

What also comes to mind is that companies can afford to pay you much, much more than they currently are.

And why aren’t they?

I’ve written on negotiating your compensation before and have linked articles all throughout this post. The resources are out there to both evaluate what you ought to be earning and how to muster the courage to politely demand more.

Use ’em.

You ever want to discuss numbers? Let’s talk – 20 minutes is all we’ll need.

In the meantime, go earn your freedom! Don’t work too hard getting that bread. Drink water, take rest. Cheers ~

June July Goal Review

Not much to show, and a little to say:

June Review

    1. Family
      1. Won! Easy in theory, I write this being socially exhausted (my introverted side coming out). Will be on me to keep the spark alive of staying engaged and responsive while balancing my own needs.
    2. Playtest BITS
      1. Failed. I’ve come up with more for the system (posts coming in July), but travelling about, I’ve not focused on gathering folks to play. Until that happens, the system is just an idea of a ruleset vs. something tried and fired.
    3. Write, Record, Publish Voice Reel
      1. Failed. Didn’t approach this at all other than thinking I’m not getting to it fast enough. And now there’s no more time, so here we are 😦
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit Again!
      1. Failed. A change in sleep schedule blew out the letter-of-the-law for this goal, but travel and inconsistent night writing (like now) didn’t cut it in June. For shame! 

July Proposal

    1. Rest
    2. Re-Evaluate
    3. Reflect
    4. Ready-Up
      1. I can’t remember the last time I failed as hard as I did in June (75% failure!!). In response, I’m taking July on without requirement other than to being aware of my day-to-day.

        Once done, I ought to be properly equipped for charging into August with solid goals and projects to share.

As the proposal says, I failed. Hard.

Might be time to go a little softer. I jumped out of airplanes and visited with family and played games and made game designs… but I feel… Not much?

Maybe it’s because I noticed so few bugs on my windshield on a cross-country trip.

Hope you’ve had a better time of it. Enjoy what you may of your summer, K? Cheers.

It Is OK to Fail

Really, it is.

But failure snowballs into complete and utter debasement! Failing is a slippery slope to irrelevance.

Certainly don’t make a habit of easy failure. If failure must happen, make it hard-fought to get the most out of the slip.

If the failures are spectacular enough, the failure will be quite relevant! Regardless, the failure should be relevant at least to you to show what to do or not, in addition to being an example to other folks.

But failure is a sign of weakness! If I fail, I won’t be wanted, I’ll be scorned, and I’ll carry a Scarlet Letter forever.

While some folks may not want you over particular failures. And some truly severe Scarlet Letters are deserved so that others can be protected.

Yet you live only with yourself. Only you know the severity of guilt and the just penance. An so long as you are acting out the penance (even if it is only to not fail the same way twice), you are doing what is owed to the failure.

But failure can be tragic! It can scar and rend and kill and all horrible things.

That’s a fine point! Failure certainly can be immense in its consequences. But what are consequences worthy of worry?

As the saying goes, “any landing you can walk away from is a good one,” so the same applies to failure. Loss of money or time or knickknacks can be made up and should come with an adequate exchange of experience. Bruises heal and hurt feelings amended.

What can’t be put back together are the three serious scars that can remove opportunities for action or attraction:

    1. Mind – Being unable to think straight, fully, or at all is a terrible, terrible thing. Brain damage, addiction, and dogma make up this scar where healing is miraculous (but we can’t depend on miracles).
    2. Body – Being maimed, crippled, or made twisted changes the whole world. (Trust me, I know.) Losing limbs, suffering catastrophic nerve injuries, and physical scarring such as tattoos of hate signs make this scar horrific to live with.
    3. Society – Being vile, abhorrent, or too dangerous to others or the culture is the quickest way to be identified with this scar. Outward physical violence, harm towards children and other helpless, and upending public expectations will slam you with a modern, contextual Scarlet Letter.

So long as these three scars are avoided, your failures won’t stop you!

But failure isn’t stopping me! It’s my fear of failing anew…

And that’s where coming to peace with failure comes it. It is OK to fail.

One of the biggest obstacles to what we intend and our lives being lived is us, you and I. Our thoughts dwell on the ‘what if.’ Prior experience and imagination can be a real bane in this regard.

That is why forgiving ourselves is the first step to making failure OK.

We are the ones that can stop habitual failure.

We are the ones who are already suffering under guilt.

We are the ones who can avoid the three disastrous scars.

We are the ones who must forgive ourselves.

Simply put, forgive yourself. It is OK to fail.

Why I Wrote This

The fear of failure lies strong on my mind and always has. I’ve developed rules for myself so as to fail less:

Failures still happen despite it all. Like this month’s goals I’ll be reporting on in a week. (It’ll be bad.)

And that’s OK.

Now this may sound like I’m giving myself a pass on a failure by using flowery words – it’s not (sans the flowery words part).

I know I’ve lived my life. What’s left is my duty to ensure my future self can live without the baggage of guilt or regret going forward. Casting off such suffering seems like a decent goal.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Really looking forward to your feedback here.

Where have your failures been? How have you recovered? What are you still carrying around all this time since?

Here to talk to hear about what’s going on – drop me a line and we’ll get the convo going!

Until next week, go out to happen to the world knowing the failures you make along the way are OK. Cheers ~

Pandemic America – Daily Bread

When COVID hit the US in 2020, it changed virtually everything.

For me, a major upheaval happened in diet. From eating multiple small meals a day every few hours, I consolidated. I indulge now in one meal a day.

This is intermittent fasting. In this kind of fasting, a person doesn’t consume calories for at least 16 hours a day (not a huge ask for a typical 3-meal-a-day person who isn’t gorging to the point of bedtime). A faster breaks for about 8 hours in the day, but I?

I fast for closer to 20-22 hours, possibly with a serving-sized pad of grass-fed cow butter at 18-20 hours to fight off any hunger. (This sounds akin to the Bulletproof Diet, though I don’t adhere to its principles per say.) Every waking hour is filled with liters of water and cups of herbal tea to fill in the gaps πŸ˜‰

Not only do I fast for most of the day, I also have moved over to vegetarian fare (butter the exception). After reading Sapiens and other sources of ethical review, I gave up eggs in 2020, closing the last door of flesh-like animal products. On rare occasion a cheese might be had or there is meat product made available by happenstance, but I view these encounters as inevitable and a fine way to gauge how my body reacts to meat anymore!

OK. Fasting, hydration, and vegetarianism. Add in intense resistance and cardio exercise at least 3-to-4 times a week, and I’m =fit=. If this was a more questionable blog, I’d put up pictures 😁 (You might find @JimmyChattin on Instagram and Twitter.)

Strength βœ” Endurance βœ” Speed βœ” Range-of-motion βœ” Physique βœ”

I like to think I’m making up for not competing, a common occurrence pre-pandemic πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ

But what did I do differently?

The Noms

Each bullet below is what I’d have at every meal. /Slashes/ indicate I would choose between these foods or sometimes add them together (you know, to live dangerously).

    • ~1 Peeled Organic Carrot (cut into 2-3 inch sticks, 9 sticks)
    • 9-10 Tablespoons Smooth Peanut Butter (~160 grams; Crazy Richard’s only-peanuts brand)
    • 1 Pickle
    • 4 Heaping Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
    • 8-12 Ounces Cooked Spinach / Broccoli / Cauliflower, or 1/3-1/2 Red or Green Cabbage Head
    • 2 Cups Cooked Quinoa / ~6 Cups Air-popped Popcorn
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (just pour it on)
    • 1/4-1/2 Cup Walnuts / Almonds
    • 14 Grams 100% Cacao Baking Chocolate Square
    • Spices (cinnamon, peppers, ginger, parsley, hot sauces, etc.)

If I need a snack, I go to my favorites:

    • Kerrigold Grass-fed Cow Butter
    • 6-12 Ounces Cooked Cauliflower w/ 3-4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, 2 Heaping Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast, various spices
    • 2 Tablespoons Baking Chocolate in Boiling Water w/ 1 Squirt MCT Oil, spices
    • 1 Pure Protein Bar

I sometimes add garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, someone else’s leftovers, or vices like a handful of peanut butter pretzel nuggets (❀) or Takis (❀❀❀❀).

The Work

Workout, that is.

Really comes down to runs (cardio) and resistance (muscle).

For runs, I used to do longer distances, regularly 13-20 miles. I’ve calmed down since, going for 3-5 miles because it’s so quick. Every-other weekend hikes, dancing, and jump-ropes make up the variety any workout ought to have.

Resistance has had the most evolution since COVID arrived. I used to be all about the plates and free-weights. Now, I’m real big on pushups, pullups, and resistance bands. The bands especially are ~quality~, where I’m even now wearing one around my neck for easy exercise whenever, wherever. (Need to look at getting more / stronger bands at this point – broke my 40#er so only 110#-ish is attainable 😦 )

Extra Help

It takes a village, right? My village includes food, physical excellence, and other necessities.

My supplements include a whole-food multivitamin, B, C, and D vitamin boosters, zinc, and a collagen complex (no kidding, go add collagen to your supplement lineup). There are other bits here and there, but at this point I’m only using up my bulk orders πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

Of course, there’s sleep. Blue-light filters, dim light, chilling out, and a regular hygiene routine help settle me down. I read by phone (I know, bad) until I’m really ready, slipping on an eye mask and under a single sheet cover to stay cool. Legs raised, I snooze … IDK. Have to fix my Fitbit Bluetooth connection πŸ˜… Wake with the sunrise despite the mask and earplugs, I sit to write or go for a run!

This is my life, and life is Good.

What are you up to? Seeing my setup, what might need to be tried or improved upon? Looking for advice. Hit me up! Take care and stay safe in the meanwhile – cheers.

Pandemic America – Day in the Life

Life in the United States and the world has been shaken by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and the ignorant responses to it. Is still being shaken.

Yet change is on the horizon. I’ve received my vaccine, more folks have or are doing the same. Private and social and professional affairs are in the swing of a new paradigm. Soon there will be a new ‘normal’ with the events of 2020 and 2021 quick to fade away.

Let’s save a sense of what things were like during this (hopefully) once-in-a-century event. Here I share with you my schedule, because it is myself, as we’re both creatures of habit and defined by our actions.

Context

Before we dive, here’s an overview of my stances:

    • Upper-middle-class thought worker with decade career.
    • Ahead financially.
    • Familial support system across the country.
    • No role obligations as guardian or otherwise responsible to others.

2020

There is some discrepancy between the years (it was cushy to collect unemployment through the first year of pandemic).

    • 0700 AM – Wake now or earlier, usually with the sunrise despite an eye mask.
    • 0730 AM – Begin the day’s work. Depending on the month, this would be driving, hiking, writing, reading, studying, or designing.
    • 0100 PM – Possibly earlier, I’d either continue the day’s work or get to chores or working out. Chores tended to be a workout anyway, as I was chopping trees, landscaping, and assisting in construction. Got lean-buff with a push-up routine that broached many hundreds of push-ups in an hour!
    • 0330 PM – Lunch! My only meal of the day (more on this in another post). This one spent with the fam.
    • 0430 PM – Playing aΒ Halo 1:1 game with my dad for three rounds. Some of my most memorable times in 2020 as I was coming to grips with my workaholism and a depression brought on by the constant national news.
    • 0600 PM – Attempt to relax. Journal, respond to social media, etc. Often I’d take again to more work, but I tried to cap it.
    • 0800 PM – Gather up to head to bed by 9 at the latest. Read in bed until kaput.

Weekends and weekdays had no meaningful difference, except mail came some days and Tuesdays had the weekly 0600 AM grocery run to avoid pandemic exposure.

2021

Thus begins: The Day Job. My weekdays:

    • 0600 AM – Wake up, read social media and other channels in bed for about half-an-hour.
    • 0700 AM – Setup for the day. Respond to requests, journal, minor house chores, the works.
    • 0800 AM – Now I’m writing at this time, but for the first half of the year this could be anything πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ Sometimes I’d start the day-job early because it was easy to give into the workaholism and I failed to give myself direction.
    • 0900 AM – Butt-in-chair for the work-from-home day-job. May also take this time for appointments because workplace culture didn’t need me to be at attention until 10 AM.
    • 0300 PM – Somewhere around here I’m working out, followed by my once-a-day meal. Often I’d be doing the job while eating, but sometimes I allow myself to relax with something simple, like Netflix or YouTube. Back to the job in one-to-two hours.
    • 0600 PM – If not out by 5, I’d be out about now, give-or-take (written on a day I was out at 0645 πŸ˜‚). Shower if I haven’t yet from my afternoon workout and manage a chore or two.
    • 0700 PM – Aim to relax! I had to schedule leisure in; it got bad. For much of the year I took this time to study code and design patterns.
    • 0900 PM – Bedtime / Writing time. Harder to do the latter when you’re very ready for the former! (Written at 0800 PM on a Thursday πŸ™ƒ)

My weekends consisted of the same wakeup times, though sometimes I’d read for an hour in bed. Weekends were largely unstructured. Possibly get out to a skate park if there weren’t people around, go hiking up a mountain in fair weather, have a run, do chores, etc. Weekends during the 2021 pandemic remain(ed) fairly unstructured, a happy change from years of work-work-work plan-plan-plan.

To you, reader, I trust this is lighter fare than my recent thoughts.

To my future self, I hope this brings back humble memories. You are likely farther than you were when writing this, but even if not, keep going πŸ˜‰

Yep. Definitely a chill post. No worries – we’ll be back to more substantial content in a bit! Cheers till then!

Truth: Top 10 Truisms

What is Truth? We might know it by how these top truisms are us and the universe.

1. Simplify

Less is truly more. Should you need more anyway, there is some written on this.

2. Suffering Exists

Exists and is inevitable, a persistent, constant force in the universe. I have taken a deeper dive into the topic.

3. Knowledge Is Terrible

What is known cannot be unknown along with all of its consequences. Care to know more?

4. Be Attractive

Attraction is a basic law of nature where to be attractive is the only thing to be. More material outlining attraction is available.

5. Don’t Settle, Suffice

In short, have higher standards, but keep those standards in line with what’s sufficient.

It is naΓ―ve to think things cannot be better regardless of situation. To seek to be better is one of the most noble activities to improve yourself and the world. However, an obsession without end will cause more suffering that it corrects.

Wisdom arrives when you know the world and yourself enough to understand what, subjectively, is “enough.”

Achieving this is a numbers game. Be it the theory of Pareto’s Principle, the Optimal Stopping Strategy for professionals and love-seekers, or Statistical Significance, the number of trials to find what’s sufficient correlates with both knowing and achieving that “enough.”

Truth requires continuous action until higher standards are met sufficiently. For you, that means being the harshest critic of your own monstrosity, leaving nothing for anyone else to critique.

6. Competition Is For Chumps

Competition spends immense amounts of energy. The more energy one has unspent for competition, the more likely that competition will be a success. And survivorship is Good!

But a strategy of expending too much energy against others goes by another term: War of Attrition. Attrition warfare can also cascade into a Pyrrhic (a.k.a. not-worth-it) Victory. By its very nature, competition tends towards less-than zero-sum outcomes, all competitors having spent their energies against each other, not their goals.

To come away from a singular competition with less or even no energy takes away that fund available for future competitions over food, space, and mates. Thereby, a competitor may have survived the competition, but their likelihood of surviving thereafter goes down (not Good).

Be it peacocks maintaining elaborate plumage to out-gaudy other mates, male lions killing each other for pride control, or humans laboring and becoming indebted to attain status symbols that are more form-than-function, competition takes a toll.

So what is the alternative? As renown military philosopher Sun Tzu would have it, “the best strategy is the one that delivers victory without fighting.”

In competition, little is gained. Effort is largely wasted and suffering gets accumulated by all parties in true competition (consider the benefits of play, the faux competition).

Energy spent in cooperation or subtle, low-energy, indirect competition (if competition must occur) is much more beneficial; all else is for chumps.

7. Know Better

Despite knowledge being a terrible thing, it is a requirement to know better, especially of oneself. The Good that knowledge can bring far outweighs the harm that may arise.

As put, knowledge is powerful. However, having the wrong knowledge can be worse than having pure ignorance – the road to Hell is paved with good [but ill-informed] intentions.

So figure yourself out, your duties, and the when and where you are. Be more selfish in coming to these terms. Until you have the language and patterns of understanding to ask and enact what’s required, you are no use to anyone except at best as a pawn (others may know how to use you better than you of yourself).

Better knowledge starts with asking better questions:

What does culture demand in status and contribution? How can one survive in the environment?

What do you like? What do you despise? What do you fear? How do you fail yourself and society?

Learn. Study everything. Find that gaps that need filling. Others have suffered in ways aplenty so that you do not have to. Yet some of these lessons are faulty, thus only by sheer numbers of examples can better knowledge be affirmed (like how the community process of Wikipedia allows correct information to form).

Competition is to be avoided because of the energy it spends; the same applies to gaining knowledge. Defer to the expertise and strength of those that have lived and done the things you seek to do – if they have proven Good (i.e. survived and reduced suffering), they are models to follow.

After the questions and the study, you will have the better knowledge needed to not only improve yourself, but better the world.

8. Escalate

More. Up or down depending on the context, always get to better faster.

Escalation of magnitudes is preferred – doubling, halving, or changing ten-fold is the broad stroke required to anchor what’s expected in any exchange. If the strength of X is insufficient to twist open a cap, at least 2X is required on the next attempt.

However, delicacy is sometimes required in a situation – perhaps the vessel to open is brittle or a negotiation comes to a close. In that case, less than a magnitude in change is required, but escalation plays a part here, too: to achieve less than 100% change, use 10% (.1X instead of X).

Yet, it may come to be resented if too much is asked for, or cause disgust to ask for too little. What would be acceptable between those extremes comes from better knowledge and caring for one’s own wellbeing. Trust that another will defend their own self interests as you ought to be an advocate of your own.

Therefore, escalation is a benefit to the universe: It saves time (the expense of energy), it wastes less by finding the sufficient amount to expense (magnitude of energy), and reduces mental suffering from an effort too generous or stingy (buyer’s remorse).

9. You Are Responsible

With existence comes responsibility. All incentives, all motives, all actions, and, ultimately, all outcomes are the responsibility of the perceiver. Whether through the tangible consequence or the mental perception, the individual has stake in anything that goes on.

Respect yourself and take caution. All that you do and perceive is at least a subjective reality. Merely by consciously perceiving the world, you create what’s real. In this way, you are partly-if-not-wholly responsible regardless of context.

So what will you do with that great power?

In existing and therefore creating reality, you have a part to play in the suffering in the world, both for yourself and others. A person cannot abstain from action and expect that abstention to not cause suffering.

The only way to have a say in survival and suffering is to act, which carries its own set of consequences. Despite that, failures in action are overcome faster by further action and personal change of perception. A failure to act passively discovers outcomes that – if the universe has any bias – tend towards entropy, the ultimate failure to survive (not Good!).

(This brings up that action appears to be Good, but that’s a separate discussion.)

Whatever comes, by existing, you are responsible for all action, inaction, and your perception of the outcomes. Only by taking action and curating your perceptions might you also be responsible for any Good.

10. Forgive Yourself

A stark follow-up to the “Responsibility” point above, you must also take responsibility for forgiving yourself.

The journey to be better and do Good is long, difficult, and continuous. People are similar and people fail – you are much more like them than you imagine.

Meanwhile, you have the morals you can afford, so be merciful to yourself when you fail, slip-up, or otherwise dwell on what must be temporary setbacks. Should failure prove to be a habit, be the harshest critic of your own monstrosity and be better immediately in the moment (you may always recess to being lackluster later).

There is the same self-forgiveness universally. No land dwells on the consequences of a volcano or earthquake. Instead, the land bears its scars and continues. Indistinguishable it is for wind and rain and galaxies that crash into each other, each holding no grudge but instead swirling away to continue their atomic existences changed, yet continuous from one form to the next. No mountain crumbles under its own self-doubt or loathing, but continues to push up through the clouds by its volition no matter the wear. As you must too.

That’s the reason you must own care for yourself – no one else will have your drive or context to be up to the task of forgiving your failures, nor ought they if you’ve not done so already. Thus, through forgiveness, resolve some of the greatest sources of suffering for you: your own doubt and guilt and regret. Thereby, to forgive yourself is a Good thing.

These ten truisms appear to be some of the most-true things for not only people, but all life and the universe, too. The sections above do not go into depth of any great description and proof-by-example, yet everywhere I look these things make themselves present.

As a character in a Zelda videogame once put, “it’s dangerous to go alone,” I only want you to take this so you can do Good and that Good may happen to you.

All something to live by. Cheers!

May June Goal Review

I kept some appointments and lost some last chances (not really, but still…).

In non-goal news, I’m exploring what life might be like as a digital nomad right now and through next month. May share with you some stats later! On to the reviews:

May Goal Review

    1. Appointments
      1. Won! As much as a person can win keeping up with their health and social engagements can πŸ˜… Will aim to not include mundane tasks here in the ol’ goal post in the future.
    2. Last Chances
      1. Failed. Not going to give this to myself in the least. Some “wouldn’t this be cool” things are still on the backburner (looking at you, Jiu Jitsu), while others got delayed (like skydiving) or are MIA. Say it with me: “we’ll be dead soon!” I have to show some eagerness about this ego’s existence!
    3. Half-Hour Happy Habit
      1. Won! This was certainly aided by spending quality time with family over shared passions like games. I also enjoyed time reading and am picking back up some new Netflix series seasons!
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit
      1. Won! I have discovered 8 AM isΒ good. I sometimes start at 7, losing time until it’s suddenly 8! I tend to write now at night too, like this here line πŸ˜‰ I’m too afraid I’ll lose this if I don’t include it as a goal next month, so…

June Goal Proposal

    1. Family
      1. Heading out (vaxxed) to see my immediate family (also vaxxed)! Travelling overland, socially distanced, and working out of an Air BnB because why not leverage the benefits of remote thought work? Achievement here is to say “yes” to family gatherings and to party a bit as well as a socially isolated, responsibility-minded small group can πŸ˜‰
    2. Playtest BITS
      1. Remember BITS? It had some troubles, which made it easy for me to put it down for half a year. Now I have inspiration to fix the problem left in the system. With my daily writing habit, it’s about time I gain the courage to give the system a quality roll.
    3. Write, Record, Publish Voice Reel
      1. I used to do these posts vocally. I had a voice-acting goal a long time ago too. Not a week (OK, 2-3 since I’m hardly out!) goes by where some stranger doesn’t comment on my vocals. And 2021 had something to look forward to with getting my abilities out there. Now is the time to fear less and do more. Where’s it going to go? IDK yet, but I aim to share with you a link to listen to in a month!
    4. 8 AM Half-Hour Writing Habit Again!
      1. So good, I propose it twice 😁 I’ve written a bunch of blog posts with this and started on BITS again. Here’s to the second time bringing the same charm!

May was kinda lame getting to do what I felt ought to be done, so June aims to make up for the lapse. It’s going to be an aggressive next few weeks, so it’ll be up to me to stim and focus on the things that’ll make the biggest impacts!

Cheers, folks. Go conquer your intentions!

Post Vax Wishlist

After more than a year of global disaster, vaccines are finally being rolled-out en masse! And guess who’s just passed his second-shot two-week waiting period!? πŸ˜ƒ

I’ve compiled a quick list of the things I look forward to doing (safely) after becoming fully vaccinated and humanity maybe learning something from the wreck that has been the COVID response.

If you’ve plans for reintegrating into society, let me know! Always open to sincere suggestions for an experience πŸ˜‰

Jiu-Jitsu

Even as I write this, picking up one of the top martial arts may be a temporary thing. Despite it being a favorite of fighters such as former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink , it’s very high impact (duh). Later in 2021 I may be advised against more injury-prone training, so we’ll see if I can make and keep a commitment to get my skills honed 😎

Firearm Safety

Been ages since I’ve last shot a firearm, even longer since taking firearm safety training. How to properly handle and use weapons is knowledge I encourage anyone to respect – it’s about time I made sure I lived up to my own standards.

Fam

A fully-vaxxed family visit of all members! If a sense of mortality hasn’t struck you during the pandemic, seeing a psychologist is strongly recommended. Having a taste of my own death and the limited time left of others, this is quite an important task.

To make the trip, I’ll have a repeat of the drive in 2020, only without the two week quarantine after! Should be a good time ~

Friends

Like above, make time for some of the most quality individuals I’ve ever had the honor of meeting.

Whether the friends come to me, I to them, or new ones are made on the spot, why not spend more time with the best persons? Cali, Portland, Seattle, Utah, Vancouver, Europe, and elsewhere are on the shortlist 😁

(Might finally get to use my cancelled Europe airline tickets from May 2020!)

Restaurants

Sometimes, it’s the little things. Sometimes, those little things need to be put away to safeguard the social contract. And sometimes, the return of those little things can be some of the most cherished opportunities.

I won’t take restaurants for granted anytime again soon, making special patronage to some of my favorite places. If locations have closed, I can finally visit those ‘someday’ eateries to make new favorites!

Celebrations

Dancing! Pool parties! Festivals! Concerts! Competitions! So many things that, once denied, are sorely missed.

Where will I go dancing? Who’s hosting the parties? When are the festivals and concerts? How will I find competitions?

I don’t know how I will celebrate after getting vaccinated and the herd-immunity threshold is hit, but dang it – I won’t be saying “no” to a good time πŸ”₯

Just a few things to aim for, a bit of hedonism when austerity was the rule of the year. Whether or not they make it onto goal lists is another story, but that’s for another month.

Stay safe, y’all! We’re almost there! Get your shots πŸ’‰ See you out-n-about in the world sometime soon! Cheers.

Truth: Attractiveness

Be attractive.

Truth itself is an enigma. Truth might be known through its many faces, though not all faces are equal in their value to Truth. But attractiveness? Attractiveness seems to be side-by-side with what Truth is.

Whether as a material law (magnetic/electric/gravitational), physical trait (symmetry/garb/health-signaling/etc.), or mental characteristic (charisma/stability/respect/etc.), being attractive secures the resources of survival. Attractiveness is an objective and severe determiner of the consequences a thing receives in its lifetime.

The benefits are plenty: Ability to convince a person to do another’s work; Gather mates for raising offspring or protection; Decrease the likelihood to be neglected or killed (a reason baby animals are “cute”); et al.

Being attractive gives the edge to survival – as has been proposed by others, that which is Good is that which survives.

This principle extends beyond biological evolution too. Non-organic nature seeks to persist in its states forever and ever, from thermodynamics to motion. What persists the longest are those things with strong bonds and mass; i.e., matter in the universe that is “attractive” survives.

Planets – the tiniest fraction of the mass of the stars they orbit – only exist that way if not subsumed as moons of even larger planets. Suns live only so long as there’s fuel to burn, the more fuel, the longer life a star has. Galaxies outmatch any planet or star for lifetime, attracting billions of stars, yet they cease to exist as a whole after cataclysmic interactions with something of approximately equal attractive potential (i.e. other galaxies).

Therefore, being attractive is a necessity of the universe, as plasma, rock, or mammal. Further, there are tiers of attractiveness, differentials of both magnitude of attractiveness and type.

Just discussed has been material attractiveness of the gravitational type, with examples of planets being in their own tier, suns another, and galaxies encompassing them all. The same applies to biological life.

An attractive baby is not the same type of attractiveness as that of a sexually attractive mate (ruin to any that foul-up this distinction). Two babies also cannot be deemed to be equally attractive (e.g. as soon as a child receives more ‘resource’ than another, that first child is by definition more attractive), a concept that also applies to shallow comparisons between two job candidates.

Anything that confuses the type or magnitude of attractiveness does not survive. Planets burn away in stars, social aberrant behavior is mocked and condemned, inconvenient (i.e. unattractive) infants killed once upon a time today. Diverging from attractiveness is punished, thereby adding to the net suffering in existence.

If doing what is unattractive generates suffering and ends its existence faster, the contrast that does not create suffering and survives must be called Good. Being attractive is Good.

Bringing it back, attractiveness reinforces itself as being adjacent to Truth: Attractiveness is a universal quality across matter and time, nature tends toward attractiveness, and the pursuit and state of attractiveness reduces suffering.

How to Be Attractive

First, there is great advantage for a person to be born attractive. Natural symmetry, familiarity, secondary sex characteristics, easy display of health through skin, nails, hair, and teeth, and other traits greatly increase the survivability of both the individual and their genes.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Saint Ambrose

Regardless of birth, fit into physical and social environments. Being ‘average’ and ‘consistent’ for the surrounding context breeds familiarity which is attractive, as well as showing a healthy response to the external stimuli of a particular niche. Further, fitting in with others feeds into social affirmation, an attractive trait that signals others to act on and for one’s behalf.

Success in handling changes and challenges in the social intangibles and the physical resources for survival indicate two attractive qualities: Health in the now, and advantaged genes for later reproduction. Such accomplishment is part of seeming confident. Confidence itself is a sign of health, its natural assertiveness gaining resources for survival and protecting those resources.

There are other ways to express attractiveness; these assets are many and varied. Listening to the opinions of others and one’s self will determine what works best!

Attractiveness Elsewhere

Abraham Lincoln – “I have no other [ambition] so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”

Sun Tzu – Appear as is best for your intentions with others. (Fake it to make it.)

Beauty – Attractive things exist so long as not too much is known about them at the time. (See: Knowledge is terrible.)

First Impressions – “If their initial impressions of the candidates are positive, employers show a higher tendency to ‘sell’ the job by providing information to the candidates about the job rather than gathering information from them.”

Live an attractive life as best you can. Cheers.

Truth: Suffering

Suffering is inevitable.

Truth can be debated endlessly. Look no further than the blind men and the elephant. Simply put, a singular Truth cannot be known πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

What can be understood are the collection of truisms close to Truth. Things that are agnostic to time, space, culture, and context are more true than dichotomies or idioms. Something that, once known, is of terrible power for its ability to inflict or relieve suffering in one and another. Yet, not knowing can lead to a suffering through ignorance!

So what is truthful?

All life seems to agree on this: Suffering is the only guaranteed experience.

Before you go, hear me out. Suffering is a cornerstone of existence if not the foundation of what it means to be alive.

It all starts at where all things do: at the beginning. First there is the suffering caused to mothers during pregnancy and labor. Second, babes wail at the shockingly cold, shockingly bright loss of everything they have ever known. Communities then suffer the child’s cries and inadequacies while their parents sweat and toil to keep the new human alive – and often that is beyond their abilities!

The baby born, that child will become self conscious. With that knowledge, the young person begins to doubt their own value. Their body morphs through puberty in unknowable, painful ways. Their minds become aware of themselves and other people, namely the failures of themselves and their society. A child is considered ‘mature’ when they lose the shield that was naivetΓ©. In a complete upending of the child’s reality, they come to understand they are betrayed by family, friends, society, and their own body.

That babe-turned-adult suffers once again as the incessant march of time grinds down thought and bones alike. If not outright crippled in mind and body, the ‘edge’ of peak performance experienced in late adolescence is dulled. A second revelation comes where the elder recognizes how much of their short life has been spent with little return. Existential nihilism or a living lie of denial sets in, killing the elder long before they are dead and buried. This is the elder’s only inheritance left to their next of kin, who in turn do not understand the trauma they’ve received. Thus the cycle of suffering, from birth to death, continues on into the next generation.

Matter – atoms and the like – too suffers in its creation, as understood through an empathetic anthropomorphism. All particles exploded into an inferno during the universe’s birth. All suns only formed after eons of atoms floating alone before being crushed and incinerated under their own weight. The universe itself may be convulsing in a cyclic version of Western Hell and has so done since the beginning of time.

Suffering is inherent in creation. Yet does it last?

Absolutely.

We see in the life of a person or a galaxy, suffering is the ever-constant companion throughout a singular existence. From start to finish, suffering is present and repeats its pattern infinitely.

Suffering persists. But what of the Good?

While there are absolutely may be moments of pleasure in one’s life, no two persons can agree on the specifics of such pleasures, or if the pleasure itself is a Good thing! (What is Good has been mentioned before, but a further exploration is later in this post.)

What used to be the common ground of Good was religion. But which religion? Which denomination of that religion? Can a history of stoning neighbors, burning knowledge, and the excruciation of the masses, justified in the many names of God, be considered Good? (Rhetorical questions all.)

When consuming certain mushrooms across the world, shamans and laypersons alike gain the satisfaction of meeting their own God without the need of religion. Perhaps this is a contributor as to why claims to be religious are becoming a minority. Regardless, religion seems to be unable to define a Good in the universe.

Hedonism gives many moments of pleasure. Eating, drinking, sex, and drugs all stimulate dopamine and other feel-good chemicals, these chemicals the only objective cause of pleasure in a person’s body. If pure pleasure is what Good is, the only Good activity in life is the pursuit of opiates until death arrives, the dead no longer suffering.

Sensual pleasure works as well as it does because of the erasure of self it causes. There is no person, there is only bliss. Should a person retain any amount of self-conscious ego, this pleasure is often found to be meaningless. (Not to mention that the individual hardly survives for long, which is not Good.)

The idea of ‘the nation‘ aims to give meaning with shared common purpose, that which the nation claims to be Good. Further, nations promise to carry the ideas and works and wishes of the citizen into the future, a survival-by-proxy. So which nation is Good? When? For whom? What consistently has been considered Good? Perhaps during the disenfranchisement of its women? The crucifixion of its minorities? The genocide of its enemies? The enslavement of the destitute?

The nation has many ideas of what Good is. No idea remains consistent, thereby a changing definition of what is Good. In the book The Rape of Nanking, it is come to be understood that nations will justify its actions without remorse, even glee, passing this ‘goodness’ into its citizens and collective actions. It is clear ‘the nation,’ despite giving meaning and surviving, cannot be Good.

If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

George Orwell, 1984

In these ways, the Good is entirely subjective. What is Good for one cannot be guaranteed for another. The Confucian Golden Rule of “do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” usurps its Western opposite of “do unto others what you would have them do to you.”

But Good may yet have something true about it. If suffering is the omnipresent woe, minimizing suffering may be a common agreed-upon Good. But remember that many things done with ‘Good’ intention (Western Golden Rule) cause suffering. Therefore, Goodness with the intent to reduce suffering seemingly is to act less on perceived suffering (the context others appear to be in) and more on actual suffering (the context a person finds themselves in, the only guarantee suffering is indeed occurring).

As Goodness with the minimal definition is an eternal endeavor since suffering persists, Good would need to accommodate failure and continue (i.e. survive). That still does not negate this narrow definition of Good as being subjective, only one in a crowd of other definitions that claim to be correct.

Simply put, a definition of Good may be “reduce net suffering to survive and survive to reduce net suffering.” This does not violate the subjectivity of Good, merely prescribes what the abstract concept is.

Good is subjective. So what is objective?

If any claim to objectivity is made, it seems to be made of suffering and surviving. A person cannot do a guaranteed Good. By the act of existing only, a person can participate in suffering.

You and I will experience suffering, will cause it. Much of it will happen and we won’t be aware of it. In our darkest times, we will seek it out.

Therein lies an objective truth: Suffering is inevitable. With that knowledge, preparing to suffer can be committed to and actions readied to reduce it. How suffering is perceived is variable, but thoughts about suffering tend to trend in two ways: Those that have the means to hypothetically bear great suffering are better; those that endure actual suffering not of their choosing are considered lesser.

Whether suffering is accepted or railed against, if a person finds that they are suffering, it may be a comfort to know suffering is natural and it too can pass. How to address suffering is another topic entirely, an important one to have when suffering is known to exist, persist, and permeate throughout the universe.

In these ways suffering conforms to a universal truth, a first-tier fact that better reveals Truth and hones other truths in their meaning and purpose.

Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.

George Orwell, 1984

Something I’ve pondered on and worth continuing to ponder. Cheers.