Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Summary # 28

I lost about two days of productivity this week due to an intense desire to rest, but I don't regret it in the least. Sometimes restoring yourself can be more constructive than continuing on with petered out faculties. Overall it's been an okay week, though I missed quite a few goals, but at least I've come to identify some significant changes I need to make to my life and lifestyle in order to foster more a better state of spirit and mode of living, which will help determine my self-improvement goals for this week. Though, once again I've come across the conundrum of trying to comfortably allow myself to forgo some values in favor other ones, as it is natural to want to enjoy all values at all times.

Most significantly, I've been questioning my routines. As you may know, I've been practicing meditation to order to try and alter my temperament to a more calmer state and to improve my health, but these past two weeks I've been failing to meet the routine since it's so danged time-consuming at a half-hour per session. That's a full 3.5 hours per week, 14 hours per month, and 168 hours per year. It's a beneficial practice, but can't I be doing something more efficiently? I have an alternative practice in mind, and that's in addition to my cold shower practice. More next week.

Other than that, I've realized how pained I am to neglect walking, one of my favorite activities period. Due to work and other activities I have been going without it for a long time, and taking one recently submerged me in a very intense contemplation that lasted for hours, a mood that took hours to alleviate. I don't know why I operate like this, but the more I go without introspection sessions the more the urge grows down the road, finally coming out as an intense and isolated mood. One of the best resting activities I can undertake is to use my free time to take extremely long walks to collect my thoughts. Walking should be more a part of my routine than it has been, but at the same time I need to realize that I shouldn't walk when I have no urges for thinking, and instead take to my writing or reading.

Finally, I've also come to realize how badly I've been going about my sleeping habits. It's a natural temptation to  want to go without a bedtime so that we may keep on doing things, especially productive things, but the lack of sleep, either in quantity or quality, can really put a damper on one's competence. For several weeks I've been wasting time in bed because my body wants to wake up at a set time (between 7:30 and 8 AM) when I really need more sleep, so I stay in bed since I'm under the impression that I can keep sleeping, but my body won't allow me to. That's wasted time for productivity that leaks unto the rest of my day, slowing my capacities and lessening my overall abilities. One day this week I went to bed and woke up early feeling utterly fantastic, and in combination with a great walk I had a rockin'-ly productive day where my momentum was sustained throughout. It's amazing how one's sleeping habits can have such broad and long-lasting effects like this. While I would like to stay up, I think it might be better for me in the long-run to establish better sleeping habits since while I might be spending more hours sleeping, I'll be able to put more into the hours I'm awake. Even with my late-night restaurant job I can still pick out a constant schedule for regular sleep, so I have no excuses.

Here's the list for this week:

1.) Finish Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen: Finished. I'm entirely unimpressed. Charlie Palmer doesn't seem all that unique, so my curiosity has smoldered out. I'm not so sure I want to visit his restaurant in the Joule hotel anymore now.

2.) Read fourteen chapters of Mind Over Mood: I finished the book, but to my error I turned out to be less than seven chapters away from the end. It is FANTASTIC. I must review it soon.

3.) Read/skim seven chapters of What Einstein Told His Barber: Nope. One of the problems with the imbalances in my life is that writing has been taking up a lot of my time, which has unfortunately been pushing out much of my reading. This desperately needs to be fixed for my studies. I think some lifestyle choices have been the problem at root, so I've got some goals in mind to address them.

4.) Look up Egyptian music: I did, but I found nothing of the sort I had in mind, so no music post.

5.) Look up Japanese music: Same as above.

6.) Watch some lectures on inflation: Not yet, though an important task I should get to soon.

7.) Document what I need to do for my new job: Not yet.

8.) Establish a banking account: Accomplished.

* * * * *

Aside from setting some productivity goals, this week I'd like to direct towards establishing better lifestyle and spiritual habits, as I see now how some bad choices, like my irregular sleep, has been having negative effects throughout every area of my functioning. Additionally, this past week I've made some major identifications about the nature of introspection, which I'll write about sometime next week. Here's what I'd like to do for next week:

1.) Introspect once a day in my introspection journal: This is a part of the major identifications I made about introspection. I'll elaborate later in that post I'm going to write next week.

2.) Read a particular essay about surviving an economic collapse: Yes, it may be a depressing subject to think about, but I've found that facing the issues has been strengthening my spirit against disappointment, especially since I'm optimistic about the culture and there are ways to bear the bad times. I'll link it next week, as I don't know the URL as of this writing.

Additionally, maybe I'll write some additional posts on bearing bad times, because as things get rougher people will certainly be in need of spiritual fuel. With all the negative writing about I think we need more voices pointing out the objective positive, no matter how small. Maybe I'll make myself one of those voices.

3.) Read What Einstein Told His Barber: It's a very unspecific goal I know, but at the very least I'll say that I'll strive to read a full section every time I pick it up, as I still need to correct the imbalances in my life that's pushing some important activities to the wayside. Correcting my sleep patterns will probably be the most beneficial, as it should increase my efficiency and give me more working hours. I should probably be less paranoid about my reading as well, as I overestimated how long it would take me to receive some inter-library loan books and now have about a dozen rentals I can't possibly finish before their due dates.

4.) Read Alinea

5.) Read What Einstein Told His Cook 2

6.) Write a book review for Mind Over Mood: Book reviews were a failed writing endeavor here in the past, but this book fits the blog's theme too well to be neglected, especially given how good it is.

7.) Watch those lectures on inflation neglected last week

8.) Go to bed by at least midnight every night: It may seem like a late bedtime, but the latest I get out from work can be up to 11 PM or later, so it's the time frame I can always isolate consistently. I allow myself to wake up naturally, without an alarm.

9.) Put orange safety glasses after 10 PM (unless working): Another neglected health practice. Based on my reading I have found that humans produce the hormone serotonin when exposed to blue spectrum light (like that available in daylight) and melatonin in its absence, and serotonin makes one feel alert and awake while melatonin prepares the body for sleep. This is why we awake to the sensation of daylight and feel sleepy when going without blue light. I've learned that such electronics like computer monitors can generate blue light and thus keep us producing serotonin much longer than we otherwise should, which explains why I was able to stay up until 3 AM while a teenager, and is probably contributing to my sleep troubles. In addition to using f.lux, I've found that wearing orange safety glasses -- and the color is important, since it filters out blue light -- has indeed allowed me to calm down and get sleepy more easily at night while not sacrificing electronic usage. I've been forgoing them these past weeks, and f.lux used alone isn't too effective, so that's probably why my sleep schedule has been getting messed up. I may look weird wearing them, but they really help stabilize my sleeping patterns, and when habituated in wearing them I'm not bothered in the least by their presence. Additionally, I also wear a face mask to keep my eyes in the dark (since my house mates don't keep the place totally dark) to prevent myself from being woken prematurely.

10.) Look up resources for improving my speech: Speaking continues to be an ongoing problem with me, which was the subject of a major self-improvement venture in the past (unfortunately, I can't find my online documentation of it), and yet I seem to continue to have difficulties. Simply put, my hearing-impairment affects greatly how I'm able to speak since I can't hear all the pitches a normal person is able to and because I hear my own voice differently than other people do, excluding the obvious fact that I'm hearing myself in first-person. While I've made major improvements, I'm still having great difficulty speaking effectively, especially fluidly, and people still tend to think I'm some kind of foreigner due to an "accent."

Personal aesthetics aside, I'd like to improve my speaking since it has been source of great difficulty in the past. For instance, some people used to think I was literally retarded because I couldn't pronounce certain words, and I couldn't pronounce them correctly since I couldn't hear their distinguishing pitches (bath, for example, I would pronounce as "bass," and scissors as "thissors"). The major improvements have come by way of understanding how to generate the proper tongue movements to incorporate the pitches, but more work yet needs to be done. It doesn't help that I misinterpreted my problems as a matter of accent in the past, since as a teen I spoke with a fake British accent to "cover it up" and have thus ingrained some bad habits, which is why I have a category for my speaking habits in tracking my moral perfection. (To make sure I keep speaking with my *true* voice.)

* * * * *

That's it for this week. I look most forward to seeing what the lifestyle choices, such as sleep, will change matters.

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