Friday, December 31, 2010

Weekly and Yearly Summary 12/24/10 - 12/30/10

The momentum continues to be sustained in my productive life, as I had another fantastic week. I did fail on some minor goals, but such a misfortune is overridden by just how exemplary I performed otherwise, all with the bare minimum of being bothered by the Circumstance. I added some goals mid-week, so don't be surprised if you don't remember me mentioning them: I utilized my free credits at and watched a television episode and a movie, I completed chapter 16 of Good Calories, Bad Calories (completing 12 conceptual exercises), I completed the 7th and final chapter of The Logical Leap (completing 10 conceptual exercises), I did my conceptual exercises with the use of the internet rather than the dictionary, I read three articles of and thereby finished my most recent copy of The Objective Standard, I constructed a summary for my chocolate connoisseurship this year, I got up as soon as I determined I was no longer able to sleep (instead of lazing in bed), and I successfully cultivated my concentration. Also, I unintentionally pick up the subconscious goal of trying to alter my posture for the better after being forwarded a lecture of Ester Gokhale. I feel like a stronger and more competent person after all of this. Getting Things Done is really a beautiful system for productivity, and has assisted me immensely. I just kept myself continuously working throughout all times of the day, even late at night just before bedtime. Most especially helpful was my ability to divorce my conception of time from any activity, which allowed me to resist feeling like I should be doing a particular something at any specific time, like recreating and lazing about after my work shift ends instead of getting back to my goal pursuits.

There are only two things that didn't get completed. I intended to write out a list of good things that have happened to me each and every day, but I skipped a few nights. For instance, one night Circumstance 2 frustrated me to the point that I could think of nothing better to do than vent myself with music, by which afterwards I was too tired and needed sleep. I do plan on keeping this habit as a regular routine; these are just a few missteps. Secondly, I totally forgot about my Project and didn't gather the information I needed. In a way this could be interpreted as good: My mind was so unhindered by the Circumstance that I didn't sense that there was any problem in need of solving. But this cannot continue, so next week my Project will definitely be emphasized.

Getting TLL done was a great thing, especially since I finished my reading early again just like last week, but I don't feel like I've gotten everything that this book has to offer. There were some great insights here and there, but I think a lot of it went over my head simply because there were so many scientific concepts I didn't understand. Obviously an education in basic science would do greatly for my comprehension of this book. Additionally, I still think there are some major problems with my note-taking and general study methods, so I should continue to take to working out those kinks. Unfortunately, given my limited understanding of TLL I don't think I can do well in giving it a just review, so I'll just say that I'm definitely going to reread it once I formulate better study methods and catch up on my scientific learning.

Now, it's the end of the year, isn't it? While I generally view New Year's resolutions as an irrational practice -- self-improvement should not be delayed until the end of the year -- I see now that this time of year does do well to put a perspective on things and remind one of the movement of time. I will continue to dedicate myself to making self-improvement goals at any and all times of the year, but I will also take advantage of this seasonal perspective and set up some medium-term goals to pursue in order to help me keep a perspective on the progress of my life. First, a glance at this year.

The best that could be said about this year is that I've done well to exert myself in self-improvement and my Project, but without the aid of a formal way to track my efforts everything is sort of a blur. I've dedicated so much time to my Project that it most dominantly sticks out in my mind. The first few months of 2010 were virtually wasted since I was still tortured by thoughts of the Circumstance. I didn't know then how to deal with it, so it was a loose end that filled up my subconscious and practically paralyzed me from concentrating on anything else. For hours I would pace around ignoring my open textbooks in order to engage in the futile effort of having the same thoughts over and over again about that petty little Circumstance. By February I started developing some vague picture of my Project and started working on the earliest steps, and by March it was almost fully conceptualized. Peace returned to my mind when I finally knew how to solve my problem and what to do next, but things came to a grinding halt when I got stopped by an independent variables, variables I could influence but not control. For several months afterwards all I was just waiting for the independent variables to fall in my favor while I worked on my studies and self-improvement in the meanwhile. Now it's taken me up to the end of this year to tire of waiting and contemplate an alternative means to solving this Project, one that would both increase its value and guarantee no independent interference. I'm not fully committed to it yet, but I think I will be since Circumstance 2 is now interfering with the independent variables and making matters worse.

As I'm developing into a better and more competent person I think I'll take advantage of my learning by taking the effort to formally document my achievements week-by-week and year-by-year. That way I'll have access to a larger perspective on the movement of my life and will be much more able to summarize my successes and continue planning for the future. This year was pretty good, but I don't want my accomplishments to be as hazy as they appear now.

My goals for this year may seem modest -- and I hope they are that I may stuff even more achievement in my pursuits -- but there's always the possibility of adding goals as I go. The goals that are specific to my chocolate connoisseurship will be listed in my yearly chocolate summary rather than here. For 2011, I want to aim for the following:

1.) Finish my Project: Natch. Natch natch natch. I've been working forever on this endeavor and it's WAY overdue that I get it finished. For all of those not in "the know," I bet you're dying to learn what it is, no? There's still no projected end date to this endeavor, but I am hopeful that it will be finished before it hits the one-year mark. There are some hopeful signs...

2.) Write letters to the editor regularly: I care a lot about which direction America goes in and yet I've done very little in terms of political activism since I've stopped blogging at Benpercent. If this culture goes to hell then I certainly deserve it. While I might not intend on making activism a strenuous dedication, I would like to make it a very regular habit if I can. A good goal, I would say, would be to strive to write one letter a week. I'd like to get my Project out of the way first since the Circumstance and Circumstance 2 are interfering with my endeavors in the greatest way.

3.) Read twenty books: My reading habits are far too modest. With my study subjects, didn't I pretty much spend the last several months working with only four or so books? I could do better than that: my brain needs much more sustenance. In truth I hope I can dramatically surpass this projection, but I'm settling for twenty at this point in order to set a minimal obligation. I love reading and yet don't indulge the value enough.

4.) Cook a pasture-raised steak at least once: My finances are tight, so seldom have I indulged in truly paleolithic meat. I've had free-range chicken and wild venison, but what I'd really like to try is a good old fatty steak. I might not be able to afford it regularly, maybe not even during this year, but I'd like to try it at least once.

5.) Try three different kinds of salt: It's easy to mix things up with spices and herbs, but different kinds of salt I'm really curious about. Diana Hsieh of Noodlefood is to blame for this, for she made quite a fuss over some truffle salt she bought. Trying different salts might actually be more friendly to my budget as well, as they should be incredibly more versatile. If all else fails: Just put it on eggs.

6.) Try sous vide cooking: Sous vide cooking is a slow cooking method where food is sealed in an airtight plastic bag and is cooked in a bath of precisely heated water. It leads to dramatically different results in the end products since they can only reach the temperature of the water, thereby making for a much more controllable experience. I'm aware that such a thing as the Sous Vide Supreme exists, but I still need to try the method yet before making such an investment. There are alternatives to be tried on the internet. If I do determine that I like it, then I'll probably start saving up for a professional grade immersion circulator since I intend on being a professional chef.  

It feels like I'm shooting quite low, but again there's always time to add more. You'll certainly hear me speak periodically of these goals: they are not carelessly stated and will not be neglected within two months. I can only maximize my abilities so much given my finite time, so all my time must be made to count.

Now then, onto to weekly goals, those which compose the individual steps to be taken. For this week I'll aim to complete chapter 17 of GCBC, read at least four scenes from Cyrano de Bergerac (the book I'll replace TLL with), develop a way to track my progress on my goals in a permanent form, conduct a certain business transaction (more next week), do some heavy research and thinking on my Project, and develop a template of information I need for the alternative means for my Project. In comparison to last week this may seem like too little, but remember that I'm emphasizing my Project this week, which means I largely cannot tell you of my goings-ons. Just for now. Be patient.

With the best of my benevolence I hope you're making the most of yourself as well.

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