Friday, February 4, 2011

Weekly Summary 1/27/11 - 2/3/11

I completed all but one goal this week. My accomplishments are that I finally managed to finish Good Calories, Bad Calories, finished my current issue of The Objective Standard, read up to chapter two in Food Styling for Photographers, read up to page 300 in Becoming a Chef, read up to page 50 in The Professional Chef; spoke Everything I know (and wrote the blog post I promised for it) for my final assignment for GCBC and an ice cream tasting, and set time limits for both the former's writing assignment and conceptual exercises; I did my taxes, practiced tying my shoes faster (especially of use for my apron at work), utilized the categories studying/thinking in my perfection checklist to track my mental exertion, and bought groceries with a particular concern in practicing my cutting. The only thing I didn't get accomplished is documenting a book on professional photography, as I found Food Styling is inadequate for my concerns. Overall, this week wasn't rough enough.

Honestly, I have to say it's been a rather disappointing week. I feel burnt in a way, because with my Project in place and the Circumstance still continuing to agitate me it's amounting to a lot of monotonous action that really isn't amounting to anything concretely, like running a car with its wheels suspended off the ground. It's been several weeks I've managed to sustain my productive focus, but I have to admit I'm tired of it. It could be my lack of action on the Project speaking, however, as it could simply be the case that the loose ends are again affecting me and encouraging me to action, taking a bite out of my impetus. Ugh, to sit still for so long! But I must be patient, for there could be a good development on the way, for which I must be patient for about a week or two to ascertain the nature of.

Being snowed in was probably the worst thing that happened. Due to my saving up for the Project I only engage in two deep values, grocery shopping and working out, twice a month to help curve vehicle costs, and I look forward to it every time that part of the month comes. On Wednesday the snow was so heavy that it was impossible to get out of the driveway, thereby keeping me in the house all day. I did not take it well; in fact, I shivered with anger that my day's plans were ruined. I knew they were only going to be delayed until Thursday, and I did resume my plans as usual then, but to have my desires frustrated then was nearly intolerable. It ruined my day. Man, and I used to like snow.

The only remedy to this ailment I can think of is to get back on my Project as soon as possible. Without it I feel like I'm trapped in some kind of cage where, no matter what values I obtain, there will always be some monstrous anti-value present to overrule it all, oozing all over my happiness. The way I'm feeling right now seems to be consistent with my fluctuating emotions, where I can operate fine in disregard of the Circumstance for a short while before there's a collapse that eats at me. In this case, I spent several weeks chugging away at my goals, and now have gotten myself into a "What's the use?" funk. The Circumstance cannot be ignored, and I shouldn't try to.

But as I said, action on my Project is a little slow right now. There's a discussion going on, but it's moving slowly, so I have to sit patiently until the dialogue continues again. I just have to keep that in mind: I am justifiably waiting in expectation of something. . . Be patient. . . Be patient.

Anyhow, let's get back on track, for I do have a thing or two to discuss before concocting my new goals.

As promised, I cite my thoughts with the Everything I Know technique now that I've practiced it. My verdict is that this method shows very, very, very great promise. It wasn't hard at all to do at the end of my last GCBC studying assignment; in fact, I had more to write than my ten minute time limit asked of me, so it was too short. As predicted I only wrote in disconnected streams of facts, but they came out a lot more coherent than I thought they would, and I liked how they seemed to keep the material fresh. However, I detested using this technique during my tasting. I don't like talking in that at all! I'm so focused on the food that I'd rather keep my mouth filled with the chocolate or ice cream rather than with words, and saving all my speaking for the end is rather fruitless since I'm only verbally stating that which I have already written down. The writing is perfectly sufficient for my thinking in this realm, so I will continue using the technique with my formal study subjects but not with my tasting. My tastings must be silent!

I also loved the one-minute time limit imposed for each concept in my conceptual exercises. While it may have made the exercise take longer than usual, it kept me more vigorously interested in fleshing out each concept best I can within the time frame. However, the time limit was only to help impose a bare minimum of time I should spend on each conceptual exercise, and yet when the alarm went off I felt urged to move onto the next, as if it were somehow a part of the rules. I see now using an alarm is a bad idea, so I'll probably switch to using my quiet stopwatch to prevent the distractions or any weird encouragements. Also, I think I'll boost the time limit up to two or three minutes, as one minute felt way too short, though did encourage me greatly to be efficient in my thinking. All in all, I think it's a great benefit to my conceptual exercises, one that could help me stick with my efforts much more thoroughly and flesh everything out. I feel all the more wiser and will continue this practice.

I'm disenchanted with the books Food Styling and The Professional Chef. I picked up Food Styling to see if it might help me in my photography pursuits, for I did resolve this year to start practicing food photography (remember? For my chocolate reviews and whatnot?), but it already presupposes that you have photography equipment and that you're open to using fake food to stand-in for real products. I only intend to photograph real food -- the stuff I make and review -- so this doesn't fit my purpose at all. Plus, I still need to know what it is I need to purchase before I start, so this book starts on much further than where I am. I'm not going to finish it. The Professional Chef, on the other hand, has been a boring skim so far. Right now it seems like a very practical reference guide, but in my current place I am not interested in the material being presented, such as the various types of cuisine. Right now, I think, I'm much more interested in the career aspects since that's what most relevant, which is probably why I find Becoming a Chef so interesting right now. I only have an interest in that which is either immediately accessible to my actions (such as cooking techniques), planning (such as saving up for an immersion circulator), or helps me know my current values better (such as the process of making chocolate). Anything beyond that is just idle talk that bores me. I think I'll take a different approach in reading them and simply skim through it, only looking for the things that interest me. I'm not sure whether or not I'd buy it just to have it as a reference. As such, some new books will be needed to replace them.

I'll forgive myself and defy my reading system, which I think is inherently flawed anyhow, and pick some books from the "forbidden" sections to add to my reading repertoire. I'll go for Objectively Speaking: Ayn Rand Interviewed, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, and Will Write for Food. I thought about going for the Selfish Path to Romance and The Body by Science Question and Answer Book as well, but it seems I might have to place a special request for that. Oh, and I'll get some Alfred Hitchcock movies too. I've got a craving.

Finishing GCBC leaves me both relieved and a little empty. On one hand, a months long study subject is finished, but on the other I think I might have really been working against my interests, thereby resulting in unnecessary struggle and stunted learning. I judged the book to be a valuable read the entire time I engaged in it, but regardless of that I still felt somewhat bored and had a hard time concentrating. It's questionable how much I might have even retained from this reading, which again brings to light just how much more seriously I need to take picking out my subjects. I can't just go to any old book that I want to learn something from and immediately hunker down and do an intensive study of it; they may be valuable, but some just aren't worth that methodology and may prevent me from engaging myself in more productive learning endeavors. My method of selection, and study system itself, still has flaws in this area which I really need to think out, which is why I'm not too keen on immediately replacing GCBC with another study subject. I don't have any thoughts to share right now, so to start with next week's goals I'll say that I'll write a post introspecting on all these matters.

Now then, how about next week's goals? I have to admit that without GCBC things seem too light. GCBC was by far the toughest and most time-consuming of all tasks, making everything seem light and quick in comparison. Without it everything seems -- light and quick. In addition, there's also that Project consideration where I may soon need to engage in some major action, so maybe I might get pulled away? Whatever the case, surely I'll find some productive use to put myself to if I undershoot and complete everything too easily.

For my study goals I'll aim to complete Becoming a Chef, read fifty pages of The Professional Chef, and order (and hopefully receive) the books mentioned above. Creatively, I'll write that introspective post about my studying conundrums and a Super Secret Thing (keep those words in mind. If you're lucky, you'll find out what they mean.) For my self-improvement, I'll try refining my tastes in art: I'll watch some Alfred Hitchcock movies and aim to listen to a 15 minutes of music every day, writing down over and over again the song titles and artists that I like to help me become more aware of them (this is related to my selective memory troubles). This may all seem too easy, but as always, I tend to add goals mid-week. I certainly deserve more time than the few minutes constructing this paragraph to think about my pursuits, don't I?

Things are still moving steady, but emotionally I need to get back on the saddle.

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