Thursday, June 30, 2011

Modern Paleo: Sleeping On the Floor

Hey, check out my new article at Modern Paleo, about sleeping on the floor. I've done it for over a year now and can't conceive of being comfortable any other way.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Condemning Condemnation?

A particularly irksome question I've stumbled upon lately is why some people seem to only be intolerant of moral condemnation, and not any other specific immoral acts themselves. It's a little different in my case that they're not saying things such as "don't judge," but are rather becoming provocative and hostile when I explicate a firm moral stance against something in particular. At the same time the person will evade a great swath of obscene things that are incredibly immoral, and their only issue is that I've called it out. What makes these people provocative to these kind of stances?

My hypothesis is that by condoning certain acts and ideas that are known to be wrong to some extent in a individual's knowledge they want to evade that knowledge so as to feel comfortable with what they're doing and sanctioning, which makes it so that anyone with convictions becomes their enemy by way of not allowing the evasions to persist. I know, for instance, some particular persons who associated with a person who was blatantly immoral and malicious, and yet they maintained contact with him out of a sense of "duty." When I acknowledged that person's immorality he got a pass on all his behavior while I faced vitriolic hatred for my stances. It's incredible hypocrisy.

Now I know in particular why a person might be afraid to pass judgment, for he may fear facing hostility and judgment in return, so it is only the flimsy stance against passing judgment that confuses me, where a person will vaguely recognize a lot of wrongdoings but only become upset when someone opposes them on principle. What's going on here?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Odd Splash of Good News

A little while ago I mentioned the importance of recognizing the positive in the culture every now and then on a more frequent basis. While I recognize that the world is definitely getting into a worse place in our presence age, I think far too many people, especially Objectivist activists, have been dwelling too much on the negative aspects of what's happening. It's important to acknowledge and examine the follies, but it's being done to such excess that it's hard to see any positive in the bleakness all these people paint, and at least Diana Hsieh seems to understand. I'm not encouraging ignoring the bad, but rather calling for people to call to attention the good more often, for even one acknowledgement once a week can do wonders for one's resolve to battle a deluge of negativity the other six days. I'm still hopeful, and given the chance the war of ideas can still be won this is perhaps the most essential time to fuel the spirits of intellectual troops, for the tide may have fewer than five years to be changed.

So to follow my own advice, I cite these positive news stories as of late. They're quite unusual since they've been happening very close to one another within the last two weeks, which makes me wonder if I'm living in a parallel universe, if things are actually getting better, or what:

New York has legalized gay marriage. I'm heterosexual, but I also believe in the right to marry whoever you want on voluntary terms. Nobody has any business tending to other people's affairs and forcibly preventing gay couples from marrying, especially the government.

Geert Wilders has been acquitted of hate speech charges. The court ruling was rather sloppy, justifying the decision on the basis that he was criticizing the Islam religion and not its followers, so there's still needs to be more understanding of what free speech entails, but this is a good development. You should be allowed to say whatever you want given you're not violating rights (e.g. divulging information contractually agreed to keep secret) or inciting violence.

From a CNN alert e-mail:

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down California law that would have banned selling violent video games to children.

The 7-2 ruling today was a victory for video game makers and sellers, who said the ban -- which has yet to go into effect -- would extend too far. They say the existing nationwide, industry-imposed, voluntary ratings system is an adequate screen for parents to judge the appropriateness of computer game content.

Still no understanding of individual rights present, but still a victory for them nonetheless. It's the parents obligation to monitor and control what media their children consume, and they have no right to force all people to follow their standards by issuing a ban on violent video game sales to minors. California, I've heard, has a particularly bad reputation regarding nanny-state behavior, so that this comes from here is intriguing.

And from another CNN e-mail:

The Supreme Court has tossed out an Arizona law that provides extra taxpayer-funded support for office seekers who have been outspent by privately funded opponents or by independent political groups.

A conservative 5-4 majority of justices on Monday said the law violated free speech, concluding the state was impermissibly trying to "level the playing field" through a public finance system.

Arizona lawmakers had argued there was a compelling state interest in equalizing resources among competing candidates and interest groups.

I'm not sure how ideological the actual court ruling was, but this is rather good. If a candidate receives more donations than another candidate does it is because more people are voluntarily choosing to fund him, not because they're being forced to. To "level the playing field" by forcing tax payers to fund certain candidates is not only stealing, but also forcing them to support ideas and people they choose *not* to support.

This isn't a development within the last two weeks, but recently I've learned that Exxon established its own blog to talk about company happenings and even defend themselves against political attacks. I don't know how good the entirety of the blog is, but here's a good piece. I wish more companies would defend themselves like this, because while people may be very resistant to acknowledging their positions it would at least offer an impediment against politicians doing what they want. The worst thing you can do is not say anything when something you oppose is advocated to be put into law. Will other companies follow suit?

I don't know what all this has to say about the culture in general given that these are small pieces of evidence in a larger body that has yet to be seen, but it's good stuff regardless. It's this kind of content that needs more attention in the blogosphere. Individual rights are under attack, but individual articles here and there show that battles are being won in at least some places, and we can use this to fuel our resolve to continue fighting, securing more victories and generating more of these articles, until the war of ideas is won.

It's stuff like this that shows there's still hope for the future. It's stuff like this that shows it's possible to overcome evil ideas and political laws within our lifetime. And it's stuff like this that give us reason to expect that maybe life is still, and will continue to be, worth living.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sense of Humor Update

Last week I spoke about some self-improvement I was undertaking to improve my sense of humor. Well, in the end I decided that my style of humor isn't that negative after all and that it isn't actually undermining my relationships, and lately I've noticed an actual positive in regards to the fact that I'm actually employing humor at all.

Lately I've noticed that at work I've opened up a lot more and am making witty attempts on a fairly consistent and frequent basis. This is very good news to behold considering that just a scant few months ago I was terrifically anxious around people all the time and kept shut tight like a clam while at work, always keeping to myself. I feel no discomfort barrier now, not even with people I'm just meeting. My sense of life has become much more lively.

Furthermore, I've been much more open with my moral judgment as well, being very expressive of my appreciation of someone and hardly being afraid to issue a condemnation when it is deserved. My fear of being responded to with irrational hostility has been very reduced, and in circumstances when I do face such reactions I feel no discomfort in my position and am able to keep a solid physical stance during such confrontations.

I'm proud of myself for having made such progress. Multiple valuable friendships have been the happy consequence, and no longer do I feel any pains of loneliness as I had a few weeks ago. However, there's still a ways to go. I still feel dumbfounded as to what to say when people ask me personal questions, such as what I do after work ("er -- uh, read, write, take a cold shower . . . "), and romantic aspirations are still going unpursued, though I need to work on a more serious conundrum before I get to that.

I have to keep singing the praises for Mind Over Mood. Its information has made the methods of successful introspection incredibly more clear now, to the point where I save time in my efforts and reap more benefits. It's a book I wish I read a long time ago rather than let sit on my reading list for so long, as I think I would be further along in my character development if I had done so.

Right now I want to keep the course in developing my good habits in nourishing friendships and introspecting on my emotions, and after I earn a more secure living I'll being pursuing romance with more directed effort.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Music: Scatman John's *Scatman*

Scatman John is another one of my favorite artists, though I have difficulty coming in contact with a wider selection of his work. This particular piece is just bursting with giddiness I'd say, and all the hyperactive dancing in the video almost tempts me to stomp along, though I know my landlord downstairs wouldn't appreciate that. And aesthetically I have to say I admire the mustache.

The weird thing I think about the video are those instances when a person's lips don't match the vocals in the least. Rather awkward.

Other selections I've come across which I've found to be good are The Invisible Man, Scatman's World, and Only You. I've hardly gotten to know Mr. John's character to any great extent through writing, but the great and vibrant sense of life permeating his songs gives me the impression of someone who deserves to live, so I find sadness in his dying at age 57. His music lives on, at least, for all our comfort.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Thoughts on Charles Schulz

Lately I've been reading Schulz and Peanuts to see if there's some greatness behind the man who has created the immensely popular comic strip, as well as reading some of the anthologies. Like with Walt Disney, I wanted to see why he's so popular, and to see if I could garner an admiration of his work through garnering an admiration of the man. In the Disney case, I picked up a biography while shopping and came to admire Disney immensely, and such an admiration has indeed led to me watching and enjoying his company's animations, even though I ignored and disliked them as a kid. I was hoping the same might happen for Schulz, but unfortunately not.

Now with adult eyes I can see the wit and intelligent construction that goes into the strips, finding new enjoyment in contrast to my childhood distaste, but Schulz himself is hardly a prime mover and has some bad philosophic elements. It surprised me to learn, for instance, that he didn't exert that much control over his art, as he allowed it to be titled something he detested his whole life. He just didn't believe in "making trouble," even if it meant sacrificing something as significant as the title of his strip. Furthermore, I found it sad to learn that an unjustly humble attitude was instilled in him during youth through his family's philosophic opposition to self-esteem, which led to him hiding his talents and feeling guilty about them, and even being baffled in old age as to why everyone thought he was a great cartoonist. Through this he also seemed to develop his malevolent universe premise and victim mentality, where he was afraid of people, withdrawn, and possibly even constructing imaginary wrongdoings against himself, such as frequent bullying on a playground that may have never happened.

From my reading I'm not nurturing what I would say is an actual dislike of the man, but rather a growing disinterest after seeing he's not at all heroic or dominant. It's good to see that he's been recognized for his talents and actual greatness in the comics industry, but I think he would have been capable of much greater things if he had a stronger personality. If only he had fought for his own way.

But at the same time, distinct from the biography, I am recognizing the actual merit behind the comic strip. The writing can be witty and the jokes well-written, the minimalistic lines aesthetically pleasing in their economy, and the malevolent universe not all that bad. On this last point, while I know the strip is known for it's depressing elements I don't think it's that negative, and have noticed there's plenty of good elements too where the characters do find satisfaction and contentment.

I've hardly studied the topic, but my personal opinion is that Bill Watterson, the author of Calvin and Hobbes, is truly the greatest comic strip artist that ever lived. He has enormous integrity and conviction that led to him constantly fighting with his syndicate to ensure that he got to publish his strip the way he wanted to, an inventive creativeness that pushed him to constantly experiment with different styles, and philosophies that not only stimulate the reader's intellect, but are also portrayed with aesthetic mastery through the art. This last point I think is essential to the proper form a comic should take -- illustrating the ideas through the artwork -- as endlessly I see comics fail on this point over and over again, either overemphasizing the artwork in divorce of the content or having the characters do lots of talking which makes the artwork superficial. While it's sad that Calvin and Hobbes is complete, I think Bill Watterson did the right thing since we can view the entire series with happy nostalgia, not having to face what a terrible decline strips such as Garfield have gone through. If only we knew what Mr. Watterson were doing now.

As such, I don't plan on finishing Schulz's biography, but I do think I'll take to finishing the multitude of Peanuts anthologies available from my library. They are very good strips indeed. I'm not sure how I'd rank Peanuts right now, but Calvin and Hobbes is definitely my favorite strip, Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland second, and Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend third.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chocolate Review: Green & Black's 60% Hazelnut & Currant

Green & Black's 60% dark chocolate with hazelnuts and currants is my second foray in dealing with this mysterious currant fruit, which I've never heard of until coming across it in chocolate. It doesn't say what type of currant is used, but they taste so much like raisins that you might as well think of them as that. Hazelnuts are my least favorite nut, but paired with other things, such as toffee, I can find it tolerable and even pleasurable, so I thought to give this a try.

Like with G&B's milk almond bar the amount of nuts incorporated is very generous, ensuring some in almost every bite, and they can be easily counted by the round bumps on the back. The display side of the bar appears very "dusty" and has an amount of smudging that eliminates any shine, but has a very solid snap. Most disappointing is the weak aroma that is very hard to perceive even when smelling up close, though the sole tone of currants can be detected, and the flavor profile consists of equally matched hazelnut and currant (/raisin-y) tones against a bittersweet cocoa background, finishing with the currants becoming more apparent and isolated. The currant berries offer some moisture and stickiness, and the hazelnuts are not at all crunchy; rather, they're hard enough not to be soft, but at the same time aren't crisp, so they're in that intermediate point which has no name. The chocolate melts quickly, but with some graininess.

It has its imperfections, but it's enjoyable to say it's at least worthwhile. I tend not to like hazelnuts for the somewhat sharp sweetness that represents them, but here is a pairing where I find the flavors all get along and come off well. The chocolate definitely could use some work on its texture, as well the the appeal to the olfactory sense, but overall it's a pleasing experience I don't think you'll be disappointed in, especially if you're a Raisinets fan as I was in my non-Paleo days.

Now where can I get me some Brazil and macadamia nut chocolate?

Weekly Summary # 36

A very good week, though there's nothing spectacularly striking about it. My productivity has been more vigorous and balanced on all fronts given my method mentioned last summary, I've been taking a stronger interest in my work as of late, and I continue to show more emotional progress with my Mind Over Mood introspection habits. In the end I feel very satisfied and think I need to stay the course in order to strengthen my habits and practices. I've been more content at the end of the day when I visualize an abridged version of all that I've done for the day, and almost unconsciously I've been trying to work faster at every task without struggling to up my pace. My only problem is that I'm in a financial pickle right now, but I have the confidence that I can overcome it gracefully, and am serene with the situation.

The list:

1.) Look up web resources on web design: I dilly-dallied and didn't get it done. I tried doing some research, but given my poor art skills I feel scared at the prospect of attempting such a feat as creating an attractive banner for my site. Though, I should persist.

2.) Continue studying muscle groups: I did, twice. I pretty much have it down, though with a little confusion. Maybe I should study one last time to lock things in. As predicted it has made exercise planning much easier, and in addition I've also been getting surprising insights on how my muscles are balanced and where work needs to be done (triceps, glutes). I really should have done this a long time ago. If you want to learn for yourself, here's the site I used.

3.) Convert to Gmail and redirect newsletters and like to there; add signature: Done. It was a horrible process! Lord, having to redirect all those newsletters. I wish it were a little easier, but it's all worth it for a more fluid e-mail experience. I'll still maintain my other account for a few more weeks to see what else I may have missed.

I'll try to post my e-mail on my blog whenever I can figure out how to do so securely, like with CAPTCHA.

4.) Ask my credit union how I can convert my money to other currencies: Done, but they couldn't help me since they don't deal with foreign currency. I'll need to talk to a major bank.

5.) Create productivity lists for work: Done, but the dish washer machine at work gets it too wet to be of use. I haven't been able to get a plastic sleeve for it yet, so for now I'm mainly using my stopwatch.

6.) Read to page 100 in Schulz and Peanuts: Done. I've decided not to finish it. I'll explain why tomorrow.

* * * * *

This past week I've been much more interested in improving myself at and thinking about work, which I take to be a sign of a revitalizing interest in my career. Good, my passion is flaring up. I'm rerealizing not only how practical it is to come up with innovations, but also how fresh it keeps matters, always staving off boredom. I still need to work on reading more, however, and my intellectual thinking as well, so this week I'd like to emphasize the reading I've been neglecting, especially since I've attacked my lists so savagely.

So for this week:

1.) Research CAPTCHA: I want to give a private way for you guys to contact me, but I'm certainly not going to put my e-mail all out in the open. I want one of those word verification systems, but haven't figured out how to put one in.

2.) Read to page 100 in The Science of Chocolate

3.) Finish my spring 2011 spring edition of The Objective Standard: I have a horrible habit of leaving the journal laying about until I'm prompted by a new edition's mailing to pick it up.

4.) Read chocolate history book: Vague for now, as I've forgotten which book I requested from the library on the history of chocolate. I'll find out soon enough.

5.) Look up how to create banner graphics

I feel strange, as if I'm somehow offtrack, but intellectually I recognize matters as otherwise. Though, maybe I should pay attention to this emotion, as I often get the same sense when I've forgotten something before leaving a room and am dismayed to find out what after it's too late. Most difficultly, I find that over 90% of the time that sense is right, so maybe it is here too. Oh well: Everyday is another day to improve. I've been telling myself that frequently lately.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Principled Vs. Stubborn: A Conceptual Pet Peeve

Oooooh I should have written about this months ago, as it's been a pet peeve I've been thinking about for months. In some of my most long-lasting disputes my character has often been labeled as "stubborn" for not accepting my opponent's position, and while it's hardly a severe injustice the inaccuracy of the conceptual application annoys me given I advocate speaking precisely.

Essentially, the problem here is that my opponent is calling me stubborn only because I refuse to accept their position, not because I'm tuning them out or am denying what I recognize as true. In these particular cases the persons use atrocious logical fallacies such as begging the question, appealing to popularity, and even resorting to intimidation by yelling and calling me names. These conversations can hardly be called constructive arguments, and I've had to tolerate them since I either had to deal with the person not of choice or have been unwelcomingly contacted by them. Because of their refusal to provide evidence or proof I have held steadfast in my position by virtue of intellectual honesty and integrity, and for that I've been called "stubborn," but it isn't an accurate label.

In reality I'm being principled, not stubborn. Both of these concepts, when oversimplified and their essential characteristics are suspended, mean that one refuses to change one's course of action, beliefs, or evaluations in the face of persuasion (either forceful or intellectual) or calls for alteration. The feature that distinguishes these terms is why one is maintaining such a refusal. In the case of stubbornness, the essential trait is emotional: The person is maintaining his position or course because he's acting on emotion or is evading something that upsets him. Take as example a cartoon I saw, where a character walked fruitlessly up a downward escalator with his eyes close, vigorously denying to all the inconvenienced shoppers that he was going the wrong way because he wanted to evade being upset by learning he was wrong. He's being stubborn because he refuses to change his course of action, going the wrong way on an escalator, even though reality blatantly shows he's doing something unproductive.

A principled person, on the other hand, maintains his position or course on the basis of his intellectual honesty and integrity, and maintains them because it is in his best judgment that it is proper to do so, after assessing other people's positions and the available information about the matter. He may still be in the wrong, but he doesn't maintain a wrongful position or course because he feels like it, but rather because he's honestly mistaken. There's no stubbornness here.

I am annoyed by having such a label as "stubborn" applied to me since I pointed out the logical fallacies in my opponents' positions -- which they have refused to address in any way -- and have made explicit that I refuse to change my mind because my judgment is unaffected, so to accuse me of acting stupidly on emotion is inaccurate and unjust. And irritatingly enough, what these opponents accuse me of is what they're actually guilty of. It is they who refuse to address or even acknowledge my position, and maintain their ways of thinking even as they keep recognizing fact after fact I give them and the evaluations that logically follow, so it is they which the label stubborn appropriately applies.

And by gosh, anyone who refuses to acknowledge the distinction between these concepts is being stubborn too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Praise of *The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes*

My favorite television show used to be Monk, but unfortunately I got into the series quite late, like its last three seasons, and too quickly saw it come to its end. Ever since I've practically had a hole in my heart for what to watch then, as I valued immensely the dominant display of limitless intelligence and astuteness, and could not find it matched anywhere else. Mythbusters comes at a close second for my favorite shows, but doesn't satisfy totally.

Thankfully I've discovered a series about Sherlock Holmes way from the 1950's, called The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I thought to give it a try one evening while browsing and didn't expect much of it, but ever since the watching the first episode (The Case of the Neurotic Detective, for me) I've been hooked. The actors who play Holmes and Watson are perfect for their roles and have entrancing speaking talents, and while it's primarily a drama it has tasteful and balanced sprinklings of comedy that have aged very well given that the series is over fifty years old. It's been a more than satisfying fill-in for my mystery desires.

And on a personal note, I think I should take to perusing more mysteries in my aesthetic amusement given the immense enjoyment I've gotten in the past. Such stuff calls upon the reader to not only admire and respect the intelligence of the leading heroes, but also for you to employ your own mind in solving the puzzle. It's a fun game to see if one can figure the solution before the hero does.

My regret is that I can't afford a Hulu Plus account right now, which limits how many episodes can be seen of the series, here. Oh well, there's still plenty available for free. I heartily recommend the episode The Case of the Winthrop Legend.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Page

Hey guys, if you hadn't already noticed, I created a new page for my blog that details the intricacies of my chocolate reviews, such as why I do them, what my standards are for choosing chocolates, and more. Embarrassing I know, but I've only now discovered the page feature for Blogger.

I've detailed all this stuff in previous articles before, but I don't think it's sufficient given that those posts will quickly be buried and forgotten, so I think I should have something easy to reference for those newcomers who may wish to know something like how I pick chocolates. I'll update the page here and there, but nothing big enough to make worth checking it periodically.

Let me know if there's any other information or questions you'd like me to include.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Defeating Negative Humor

Well, I finally thought of another self-improvement goal regarding my lovability pursuits. I've recently noticed how terribly excessive my negative humor is, where I indulge in things such as mock bullying, playful character attacks, and more. As of far nobody has taken offense and has even been amused, but still I think it would be best for me to reduce such a style of humor.

More or less I think this is a bad leftover habit from my childhood when I still had to deal with some pretty hostile people in school. Even as I gained more friends I was still the butt of people's jokes on frequent occasion, and in a self-depreciating manner I somehow learned to play along and participate, joining in on the jokes against myself even as they were atrociously malicious. I remember one time I was playing hacky-sack with a group of people who named the sack "Benjamin."

The negative, however, does not amount to a positive, and dwelling on the negative can very easily give way for people viewing you as negatively equivalent to the things you talk about. People want to be happy in life and live where bad things are the exception to the rule, not the trend, so I ought not joke around and tease about it as if it were the consistent tone of living. It might be alright on occasion, but I've been going too far.

To help alter this bad habit I'm going to add to my perfectionism list a new category: Humor. I still need to do more thinking on its precise restrictions, so that I know what constitutes a violation, but for now I think it would suffice to say that I've betrayed my goal if I engage in any playful character attacks or self-depreciating jokes, though there could be more. Hopefully doing this will make me more aware of what I'm doing, as my other categories have.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Music: Gorillaz's *19-2000*

Why is this song titled as it is? I don't know, but I love what I consider to be its goofy tone, even though it puts itself off as serious. It's music to listen to when in a bubbly mood, and the video is entertaining too.

Overall, however, I have a negative opinion of Gorillaz. While I like songs such as this and DARE, much of their stuff comes off as very malevolent and depressing, portraying life as hopeless and painful. You can even deduce it from the way the characters are animated, such as 2-D's (blue haired guy) awful teeth and black eye sockets, and Russ' (big guy in back of vehicle) pupil-less eyes and scornful face. The only exception seems to be Noodle (the girl), who is happy and joyful most of the time. I used to like Murdoc's (driver) aggressive and quiet attitude, but viewing recent portrayals of him repulses me with his cheesy demeanor and disease-like green skin color. Most recently the fictional characters are even portrayed as living on an island made entirely of garbage.

Oh well. What values there are, there are. Enjoy the good things as they come.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dragon Ball Z Kai: How Do Censors Satisfy Anyone?

As you might already know, I'm a fan of the animated series Dragon Ball Z and have been enjoying the abridged version, Dragon Ball Z Kai. The series is heavily self-censored, but I find the pacing and density of the material is more than enough to make up for it. However, I simply don't understand why the producers censor the way they do, and how they can hope to satisfy any parents who might get offended.

For instance, in a recent episode an anti-villain, Vegeta, is fighting an android in the street when suddenly a truck pulls up to them. Not caring for the trucker's safety, Vegeta fires an energy blast at the android that explodes the truck and a large portion of the road, causing all the debris to go down the cliff. It is obvious that the trucker died in the explosion, yet, to "censor" the death, the trucker's voice actor shouts "Dude! My truck!" to make it sound like he survived unharmed. (After being blown up and falling down a cliff? Pfft.) The oddity comes later in the episode, when the android kicks Vegeta and breaks his arm. The scene was surprising and brutal, and hardly censored too, showing Vegeta's arm bending in the opposite direction. For something that's supposedly edited to be made more appropriate for a younger audience, that's pretty intense. You can even see his arm dangle briefly as if it had no bones in it, showing the extent of the damage.

So why do the censors feel the need to make look alive a trucker who died in an explosion, even though he went up in smoke and with no visible body damage (he was just vaporized), but they're alright showing a very graphic scene of someone's arm getting broken? It's so inconsistent!

That's not the only instance either. Earlier in the series they showed, though with the screen largely colored black, someone getting their hand chopped off, but later within the same season the characters are bizarrely censored so that they say they're trying to "grab" someone's tail even though they're obviously trying to cut it off. Furthermore, all the characters never say the word "death" or "dead" even as corpses are visibly laying about. How odd it is that words can be considered offensive while the actions they denote are apparently okay to show.

If the producer of the dub isn't going to have consistent and clear standards on their editing, then why bother? Are parents actually satisfied by these measures?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chocolate Review: Lindt's 70% Cocoa Almond Brittle

Lindt has recently announced the arrival of two new entries into their Excellence lineup, 70% Cocoa Nut Crunch (walnuts) and 70% Cocoa Almond Brittle. I was excited to see both of them at my local Target, but unfortunately only the almond brittle bar is qualified for review, as the walnut variety has the dreaded "artificial flavorings" listed in its ingredients. Lindt generates mixed feelings for me given the mixed quality of their products. Their 85% and 90% dark varieties are great, and I've been dying to get my hands on their 99% bar which I just can't find, but by and large their extensive product line contains artificial ingredients which are just unpalatable to my dietary guidelines. I guess we'll just have to enjoy what values there are. Please note, however, that the almond brittle bar contains glucose syrup derived from wheat, so it's possibly not gluten-free.

I'm particularly impressed with it. The bar looks immaculate in its precise uniformity free of any bumps from the brittle or chips off the surface, and you can't see the brittle integrated unless you break in to look at the gradient. It has a smudgy shine and no snap, but the mouthfeel has the wonderful complexity of being liquid smooth and incredibly crispy at the same time. The scent is very strong with toasted nuts and sweet caramel, and the flavor is a dance of nuts intermingled with notes of caramel and a surprisingly fruity chocolate, slightly stronger at the finish. The sweetness made the back of my mouth ache a little bit, being a smidgen too high, but it's not too bad. Overall it defied my expectations and pleased me.

I guess in viewing Lindt as overly using artificial stuff I had established the prejudice that it was a poor quality chocolatier, leading to mixed expectations in coming to taste this. My prejudice is duly uprooted. However, despite how pleasing the experience was, the sweetness is something that doesn't motivate me to keep coming back for more, so I'll probably only eat this once and consider it satisfying in bringing new experiences.

I know it's comparing apples and oranges, but given the similarity I found myself immediately thinking of Endangered Species' 72% Coexist toffee pieces and concluding that I would much prefer the buttery and saltiness of that over the brittle. I still recommend this Lindt variety, but I view it more as a one-time thing. The toffee is my preference.

Weekly Summary # 35

An excellent and productive week! I've learned a new way to manage my to-do lists that has been boosting my productivity considerably, enough so that I virtually eliminated all my items even beyond my goals. I have a list for just about everything -- short actions, long actions, physical actions, computer actions, and so on -- that I consult regularly to see what I could possibly do next, and the most important list is my Short-term Aims and Goals list, which documents what I want to get accomplished today, tomorrow, this week, and sometimes even next week. My error is that I've been detailing my daily goals too exhaustively, so I've often been taking on assignments that take an entire day to complete, by which then I'm tired and feel finished with my day, lacking motivation to check any of my other lists. This week I've trimmed down my daily goals to the bare essentials I want to tackle in a day, leaving the rest to intuition to decide where to go next in my goals and other activities, and I've found it's surprisingly effective in increasing my motivation to keep constantly attacking my lists, rather than completing my daily goals and feeling done for the day.

Even better this week is that I've been feeling more and more content about life on a consistent basis, and feeling a stronger person. I've been maintaining my introspection habit consistently and writing down good things that have happened recently, and I find that my consistent mood keeps getting brighter and brighter. It's certainly allowing me to make calmer and more productive choices, and be an overall better person, so I consider this significant progress in the emotional realm. I'll absolutely keep up these practices on a routine basis, lest I falter.

The list:

1.) Memorize the various muscle groups: Done. I'm not sure how effective my learning has been so far, but already I seem to have a firmer understanding on which exercises I should be doing to tone my body and how to plan the exercise orders. I learned the various groups surprisingly fast, though I learned quickly only to focus on groups relevant to my exercise concerns, as some of the muscle broken down very intricately have lots of difficult technical names to remember, which I don't need to know since exercise can't target them that specifically. I'll check my written notes to test and refresh my knowledge throughout this week.

2.) Read to page 150 in Schulz and Peanuts: Totally forgot! I made a particular error for the first time too: Apparently I only listed this goal on my blog and didn't document it on my list of goals that I consult daily, so I lost awareness that I made this goal. Oh well, still plenty of time to read the book.

3.) Read to page 200 in Crash Proof: Didn't make it in time before it was due at the library, but I've rerequested it. I'm fairly convinced on the root of the U.S.' economic problems now and am not involved in arguing for them, so I think when I get the book back I'll just skip right to its recommendations for protecting savings. That's all I want to learn.

4.) Submit a request for a chocolate-based book (more informative, not recipes): Submitted requests for The Science of Chocolate and The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History of Cacao, and am anxiously waiting for them. I want to learn as much about chocolate as I can.

5.) Follow more chocolate blogs: Well, somewhat. They seem to be surprisingly scarce, as I only found one or two new blogs to add to my reader that I hadn't heard of before. I guess any others that exist I'll just have to stumble upon accidentally.

6.) Write an article for Modern Paleo: Done. I'll link to it when it publishes. I plan on kinda retiring from contributing to this blog except for my chocolate reviews, and I add emphasis on "kinda." Writing an article for them on top of the commitments I already take on with this blog is very stressful and pressing, so I'd rather refrain from writing another article there unless the ambition strikes me. I just think my time can be spent in more valuable pursuits.

7.) Look up book on coding: This is related to my new year's resolution to redesign my blog, and I skipped out on it because I keep running into value conflicts. On one hand I see benefit on obtaining such knowledge, but I keep refraining from pursuing it because I favor better other values in my hierarchy, such as chocolate and learning more about the culinary field, so I'm afraid to take on such an educational endeavor since I think it'll eat up too much of my time. I still plan on redesigning something, so I've just got to rethink things in a way that will still allow me to concentrate on the highest parts of my value system.

8.) Take walks that last approximately 45 minutes until daily goals are completed: Done. As mentioned earlier this week, I've been having a problem taking too long of walks lately, so I thought to remedy the problem by forcing myself to go home after 45 minutes elapsed. It worked wonderfully, as I felt no discomfort or disappointment in cutting off my walks in such a way. I'll integrate this into my system of self-improvement habits to ensure that its benefit remains constant.

I've also applied similar limits to checking e-mail and blog stats. Without restrictions I found myself doing it too frequently, but when I applied the rule of only checking once in the morning and then not again until after my daily goals that I was helped overall in my productivity, so they are yet more habits I need to keep up with.

9.) Examine Google Mail: Done. I had been contemplating a switch, and I think I've decided to do it since Gmail is much more fluid and fast, and thus more efficient.

* * * * *

I attacked my to-do lists so thoroughly that there seems to be little else to do now, and I have little goals I can think of. Keeping in line with my last weekly summary, my main interests now are computer coding (web design, really), chocolate, exercise, and getting my financial house in order. I can do something with the web design, but I'm waiting for books on chocolate, exercise, and finances, so one goal is a-go while the others are on hold out of my power. That's alright, as there's always plenty of time to think and plan how my time could be spent more productively. Best of all, the pared down to-do lists make me feel more comfortable with the prospect of reading more, which is what I've been wanting to do more while at the same time thoroughly neglecting.

So, for now, here are my rough plans, which will likely change by the time you see this next week:

1.) Look up web resources on web design: Of all things, I want to reconstruct that hideous header I have on top of my page. Change that and I think I'll be content with the simplicity of my blog.

2.) Continue studying muscle groups: I'd say all I would need to do is check my list of muscle names and test myself to see if I can correctly locate them on my body. Again, the groups were surprisingly easy to learn and memorize, making me feel silly for procrastinating for so long. If you workout then I suggest doing the same, as it brings more awareness as to what improvements you need to make.

3.) Convert to Gmail and redirect newsletters and like to there; add signature: This will be a bother, but should take only an hour or so, nonetheless. If you're one to communicate with me by e-mail, then be sure to ask for my new address.

4.) Ask my credit union how I can convert my money to other currencies: This is mainly what I want to do to protect my savings from the probable oncoming economic collapse. The web turned out to be a bogus resource since most all of it deals with how to calculate currency exchange rates. I want to know how to literally do it, and mainly how to incorporate it into my banking rather than holding it as paper.

5.) Create productivity lists for work: This helped me immensely at my last job, and I think I should incorporate this back into my current job too, as well as utilizing a stopwatch to time how efficiently I do a task. Given the amount of wetness as my job, however, I fear my lists won't fare well without plastic coverings, but I'll learn how to make do until I get them.

6.) Read to page 100 in Schulz and Peanuts: The reason why I've reduced my goal here from 150 pages is because now I'm not so sure I want to continue reading it. I came to value Disney productions by gaining an admiration of Walt Disney himself through a stellar biography, so I thought I could come to admire the Peanuts comics by reading Charles Schulz's biography. While I see value in his comics, I don't think he was great as a person, and so am considering quitting the book.

That's it for now. Given my improving sense of life I'd like to write a happy post later this week on how I plan on enjoying my life in the short-term, and utilizing my smaller to-do lists advantageously to give me a more comfortable amount of time to indulge in some learning. Life is worth living and thinking about, alright.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You Can Only Hate What's *There*

Lately I've been thinking about the Objectivist tenet on how things such as income distribution, anti-trust laws, and the like are evidence of hatred for the good for being good, and I think I've made an identification that makes this point a little clearer.

By "hatred of the good for being good" Ayn Rand meant that these people of this kind hated good people -- talented artists, successful businessmen, geniuses -- because they possessed human values and practiced virtues which they did not, and they hate specifically those qualities. In practice, her logic continues, this will amount to seeking out to undermine or destroy these things, such as by upholding "abstract" art, taxing and regulating businessmen, and labeling geniuses as nut jobs. They'll mostly do it under an intellectual guise, such as arguing how abstract art is actually great or why businessmen are immoral, but at root the motivation is hatred of the good for being good.

The specific thing that confused me is how such a large body of people as a society could be malice driven like this but state their motives as being otherwise. Is it not possible that they could believe their justifications with total sincerity? And I think degrees are relevant here, as I believe someone could be conflicted by believing partially his justifications while being motivated at root by another, so here I'm adding emphasis on total sincerity.

What clarified things for me is remembering that only existence exists. That which does not exist cannot have an impact on reality, and anyone who claims to deal with things that don't exist, such as supernatural entities, are only dealing with content within their mind. Since the thing doesn't actually exist, they can't interact with it, or even direct their emotions towards it.

So for things such as society decrying the acts of honest businessmen, I think the reasons why they hate them for their ability and success are imaginary because the misdeeds they're accusing businessmen of are largely nonexistent. They don't rise prices arbitrarily, force consumers to purchase from them, steal from voluntary transactions, and so on, so when people claim to hate businessmen for these acts they're almost solely dealing with content of their minds, as the facts by and large don't exist. Since these facts largely don't exist, that means these people can only direct their hatred towards that which does exist, and what is it that exists of great businessmen in general? Success, wealth, ability, and more. People hate those attributes because those are the attributes that actually exist, not price gouging, stealing from willing consumers, and being overall menaces.

To give another example, imagine having a craving for a granny smith apple, and contrast two different scenarios in which a granny smith apple is present and not present. In the latter situation, a person cannot justifiable claim to crave the apple on the table before him because the apple isn't there. He knows physically he craves an apple, but so far that desire remains physical, emotional, and rooted in his mind because there is no such apple around to be the object of his desire. And so it goes with businessmen: Since, in general, the evil doings they're accused of don't actually exist, what these men are hated for is what actually exists, what can be objects of people's hatred, which is talent, money, etc. Of course, I recognize that some businessmen are and have been evil, such as the peanut manufacturer that last year deliberately processed and sold spoiled peanuts, but they're the exception to the rule, not part of a trend.

Only existence exists, and all we can interact with is existents. If a person is unable or unwilling to recognize that something doesn't exist, then instead he'll interact with actual existents in a totally misguided way, right down to believing he's dealing with something that actually something totally different.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hershey and Child Labor

Via Jim's Chocolate Mission I've learned that there was recently a protest against Hershey regarding their usage of child labor in Africa. It was cited that they made a vow about a decade ago to cease such a practice, and yet to this day still continue it.

Chocolate, believe it or not, is quite wrapped up in politics, and I'm certainly concerned about a company's practices when I contemplate regularly consuming their products. I still have a lot to learn as to what the current issues are and where companies stand, but I've heard that some companies even indirectly fund slavery in the cacao plantations they purchase beans from, though I haven't heard any names accused or conclusive evidence. But as far as things go in this article, I think things are far too sketchy on whether it's proper to condemn Hershey or not. It notes specifically that they're condemning child labor, not slavery, so it is of great question as to how we should evaluate that practice.

Most essentially, what is the economic context of the workers? If things are so poor there and everyone badly off, then voluntary child labor would actually be a good thing, because otherwise the alternative would be an even poorer people and perhaps starvation. If that's the case, then even such an unpleasant practice becomes desirable by the overall good it does to the workers. On the other hand, if it's superfluous and unnecessary, then I'd consider it an irrational practice that isn't worthy of supporting, but at the same time isn't worthy of condemnation given its voluntary nature. In either case, if it's true that slavery isn't involved here, then I think protestors are making a mountain out of a molehill.

I suspect that it's the case that poverty drives these people to employ children, because otherwise a more prosperous society would have enough wealth to allow these children to stay home and pursue other activities, such as schooling. How good of workers could they possibly be anyhow in comparison to grown men? It's likely out of economical necessity that they find themselves in this position.

As such, I see no reason to abstain from consuming any of Hershey's products. I see no sufficient evidence that they're actually guilty of an immoral practice, and will not condemn them as such.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Consistent Spiritual Fuel?

I've laid out my case as to why I believe we should be optimistic for the future and still hold to that position. A better future is certainly no guarantee and there's little evidence that the tide is actually turning in a good direction, but there's definitely enough to justify hopefulness for a happier time within most of our lifespans. However, for several weeks now I've been disturbed by the trend of bloggers mainly focusing on the negative aspects of the world as it stands today and only occasionally mentioning positive cultural attributes. Good things should not be cited for the purpose of getting a breath of fresh air, because life in its proper form has the good as the rule of nature, not an exception. Times are getting worse and more difficult surely, but I think concentrating on them so intensely is only going to serve to deplete one's spiritual fuel and motivation even further. Intellectuals writing about cultural issues seem most guilty of focusing on the negative.

As such, I'd like to add a new facet to my blogging habits in which I, on irregular occasion for now, cite and talk about things which I find to be satisfying to my spirit and to fuel my motivation, giving me the impetus to better myself as a person and fight for a future worth living in. I don't want to and won't be one to filter out negative news since that would be ill-advised for activist endeavors, so my main intent is to more often include writing about inspirational matters into my regular practices, especially in regards to noting positive cultural developments. We've all had enough of the bad things in today's world, haven't we?

Mediums include essentially everything, from a good news story about a political happening, a scene in a movie, something interesting I witnessed in person, and so on. You can never have enough good things, so I'll aim to keep my eyes open as wide as possible.

Additionally, I suggest for others to do the same, especially those engage in intellectual activists. If you concentrate on only the negative aspects all the time, then how consistently appealing are you as a source?

The war of ideas may be still going on, but I think there's a darn good chance of Objectivists winning, and to fuel ourselves we ought to raise greater awareness of those incidents, strengths, and so on that validate that life in today's age is still -- and will continue to be -- worth living.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rough Schedules?

I am addicted to walking. Have been for roughly seven years now. I think I got into it unintentionally through biking. At first I was exercising on an exercise bike in the basement, and I took to biking outside when I got sick of being in the house. Then I got tired at not being able to look at the sky while biking, and so began walking. I discovered how greatly it enhanced my thoughts and soothed me, and maintained the habit regularly since then. Some of the most disappointing moments in my life were when the weather prohibited me from going on a walk, though some times I would just push through the unpleasantries anyhow.

However, I've noticed that lately, largely due to the success of my sensory enrichment experiment, I've been enjoying my walks to the extent that they've been taking up too much of my time and biting into my productivity. Given the complexity of the roads in my neighborhoods and the great variety available in routes, I just never get bored, which has led to me taking two-hour walks almost everyday last week. When I get home I'm so stuck in my contemplative mood that it's hard to break out of it and get to work on the activities before me, so I ought to do something to get it under control lest I let my goals go unpursued.

The issue is mainly that of indulging in an enjoyable activity without defined limits. Without criterion for judging, I too easily go overboard in my engagement and have it infringe on other areas in my life. What I'm thinking will serve well as the solution is imposing a rough schedule which will impose time limits on activities as these, but will still allow for great flexibility given that I'm largely only imposing time limits, not time frames in which I must complete an activity or the other. Getting Things Done has definitely served to improve the productivity in my life; I just need to find a way to balance out the proportions so that they favor the purposeful activities rather than the recreational ones.

While my thinking hasn't covered all areas of my life yet, I'm thinking at this point that I would do well to set an alarm that would set an upper limit on how long my walks can take, rather than allowing me to indulge in a thought process for a long as I please, which could amount to several hours. For now, I'm thinking of setting an alarm on my cell phone for 45 minutes on my walks, by which time it goes off I must begin trekking back home regardless of where I am on my planned route. Until I complete all of my daily goals I won't allow myself another walk unless I'm making for a special one, such as visiting the nearby nature preserve. From there I must get going and attack my other activities. I consider this a "rough schedule" since I'm approximately weighing how much time I'm dedicating to an activity, but am not pinpointing it to any particular time of the day.

Imposing limits has been very successful in the past, particularly in managing the time I spend on social networking sites such as Facebook. To reduce my time on that site I instilled the rule that I wouldn't get on it until after 5 PM or until twenty minutes before I leave for work, and before I complete all my daily goals I wouldn't allow myself more than twenty minutes on it. While my standards have increased to a half-hour now, I've found the practice so great that it has reduced any craving to dawdle idly on that site and that I maintain my rules nearly intuitively even though I have no written requirement about it. It's fused into the natural habits of my life and become emotionally accepted because of that, so I don't feel any cumbersome restriction to my desires because of it.

Additionally, to help further mitigate any idleness in my life I think I ought to impose a bedtime of midnight, because otherwise I tend not to engage in meaningful recreational activities. I've stopped doing my previous bedtime practices because I found taking a cold shower beforehand to be totally effective all on its own, practically negating any need for anything else beyond it. Though lately in my late-night recreation I tend to dawdle around since I don't desire to go to bed and yet cannot find myself authentically enjoying any activity, so I think I should impose another limit in order to set my emotions straight and make myself more disciplined by nature. The exception of the rule would be when I'm either home really late from work or am authentically enjoying a particular activity (making it essential to feeling mentally rested), which in that case I'll allow myself to stay up a half-hour beyond my normal time for the sake of enjoying life, excuse enough.

As for my other productivity habit where I timed myself in every activity, such as washing dishes or making my bed, I dropped it since it was so darn stressful trying to exert myself like that all the time. I might be a little slower without it, but at least it's probably better for my physical health, not to rush things all the time.

Hopefully this walking restriction proves to be another habit which integrates seamlessly into my life, which I cannot view myself as being without from then on.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Music: Remix of Donkey Kong Country's *Aquatic Ambiance*

Yes. Video game music. I'm embarrassed to admit that I do like some pieces from this medium, but years ago I used to be a hard-core gamer whose exposure to music was almost limited solely to this realm. My favorite attribute of these pieces is how they're meant to loop, as I tend to enjoy listening to the same song several times in a row to satisfy a mood, which video game music does perfectly with its infinity.

This is a rendition of the theme to the underwater levels in Donkey Kong Country, a very well done game (though my favorite is the second). It not only has beautiful graphics, but also wonderfully produced music, this piece perhaps being the most famous. It's simply beautiful. It conveys the theme of an underwater world perfectly and soothes like a scented bath would. The vision that dances in my head is going swimming in a deep stream during a full moon bright enough to case shadows.

The thrill is a little too loud at the beginning, but once it quiets down it's just wonderful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bullies and Shirts

Recently I've had the annoying experience of a bully of the sorts yelling at me from his vehicle for me to "get some clothes on." Given the frequent sunny weather here in Texas I tend to favor shirtless and shoeless walks, mainly to up my vitamin D production and get a more even tan, and I guess this person didn't approve of my appearance. Of course, courageous as his act was, he conducted it by slowing down his car, yelling from an open door, and then driving promptly away. This is the second time this has happened to me, the other person committing the act without stopping or slowing down.

This irritates the hell out of me. Not because of its rudeness, but because of the philosophical underpinnings that are implied in the mentalities of these people who would do such a thing. My intention in taking a walk in such a fashion is not to make a statement or garner attention -- not even the attention of attractive women -- but simply to maintain my health and regularity of appearance (no farmer's tan for me). Otherwise I'm tending to my own business, walking for the same reason I always do: To introspect, which walking vastly helps me do. Oftentimes I even nearly lose awareness of what I'm doing because I'm enjoying my thinking so much, concentrating only on the attractive scenery and thought processes. These bullies, on the other hand, are displaying second-handed mentalities in which they're not only sensitive to their environment as it relates to them, but also are moved to offer spiteful comments to that which they disapprove of in order to gain approval of the people that are in the car with them.

It's obviously a difference between first-handedness and second-handedness that is leading to these different behaviors. In my first-handedness I am only concerned with my environment insofar as it relates to my safety (e.g. not stepping on glass barefoot) and aesthetic admiration; otherwise, my primary concern is my task, which is to enjoy my walk and indulge in a lot of thinking. They, on the other hand, in their second-handedness are concerned with the environment in regards to how it compares to them, leading them to keep a watch out for whether, say, people are looking at them, or in my case they might be looking for things to mock such as I, since my shirtless practice is uncommon and therefore unconventional, leading to them feeling irrationally superior to me since they're accepted by popular views and I'm not. Therefore, I theorize that their bullying comments was to gain a sense of superiority by highlighting in their minds that they're following convention while I'm not, and that the people in their car are approving by way of their probable laughter at their antics.

What most offends me is that I view this as unjust treatment considering I'm a great adherent to the golden rule. I treat others as I desire to be treated, and psychologically this has made me very tolerant of non-essential (i.e. not concerning morality) differences. I often walk shirtless and shoeless in public and expect to be respected on that matter and left alone, and in return I leave other people alone on their stylistic choices and practices in public, whether it be wearing what I'd consider offensive or absurd clothing, or strange practices such as walking with one's hands in the air (yes, I've seen that in the past). I've even seen a man walking around in a neon green suit before and only casually looked at him, not feeling motivated to stare or even comment on it in the privacy in my mind. When other people treat me rudely about my differences while I'm respecting theirs I feel unjustly treated since I'm granting them something they're not returning.

Whatever their comments, I'm not going to stop this practice. It has nothing to do with other people, not even showing off my physique to women I might find attractive. I'm engaged entirely in my own matters and wish these people would just tend to their own.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chocolate Review: New Tree's 51% Dark Milk

While I should be refraining from buying chocolate at the moment, Target was having a clearance sale on this particular item, so the threat of it disappearing forever prodded me to add it to my stocks. New Tree, among a few others, is one of the companies I'm very interested in, not to ignore that their ginger bar is one of my top three favorite chocolate bars period. I find New Tree most memorable for the aesthetic beauty their bars offer in their subtle designs, and more broadly New Tree is known to add various extracts and whatnot to their chocolates to up the health properties, though that is debatable from various dietary perspectives depending on the specific add-in. The treat in intrigue today is New Tree's 51% cocoa dark milk chocolate.

Is New Tree the first to try such an odd combo? I think they are, for I've never heard of it before. Anyhow, in this particular variation they add extra fiber and reduce the sugar by 30% in comparison to the average competitor, and otherwise it's just a good old chocolate bar. It smells of cream, cocoa, and caramel, and tastes luxuriously of caramel with a perfect amount of sweetness and constantly held intensity. I couldn't really sense the vanilla as is indicated in the tasting notes, but I think that means it's well fused into the experience rather than being absent from the taste. I love the mouthfeel: it's very firm without being crunchy and melts into that fatty deliciousness notable of chocolates with low melting points.

The appearance struck me as odd, however. Unlike other of New Tree's products, this one merely had lines traveling down at an angle on each square, not those wonderful leaf veins I've seen on the mint and ginger bars. Why the switch-up in such great aesthetics? Moreover, why does the packaging show the chocolate as having leaf veins when it doesn't? Otherwise, it has an okay shine, though no snap.

I'm glad the wrapper is different. This one is much easier to rip and isn't sealed entirely shut like some of the other products are, which makes the confection much easier and quicker to get to without damaging it. I deplore the strong and sealed wrappers I came across before, as I kept breaking the bars 100% of the time when trying to get into them.

In conclusion, this is certainly a unique combination for sure, one that looks paradoxical on the surface, but New Tree has pulled it off well enough to leave me extremely pleased. The caramel sensation and fatty mouthfeel are just right, making this my milk chocolate of choice, which I would absolutely recommend.

Weekly Summary # 34

Oh boy. Another one of those weeks in which a lot of doing goes on, but not a lot of "done" accumulates. Where did all the hours go? I admit to feeling ashamed for my lack of productivity this week. It's not due to not having enough time, and I won't use my increased work hours as an excuse, but rather a case of not putting enough into the time I have. All there's left for me to do is to simply be more active and don't idle about. What I definitely need to work on is eliminating my fixation with my Short-term Aims and Concentration list, in which I document what I want to get done for the day, possible tasks for tomorrow, my weekly goals, and next week's goals. When I accomplish my daily goals ahead of schedule I give myself the false sense that my day is over and then refrain from attacking other possibilities on my lists.

Most notably, I've been experiencing a drastic increase in my anxiety lately. I'm encountering tough financial times, and it doesn't help my worries that I'm not only in a possibly unstable situation, but also the economy itself is nearing collapse and I haven't had time to garner the means to prepare for it. Worry, worry, worry . . . but at the same time Mind Over Mood has been awesome in helping me deal with the stress and feel a person with greater endurance, so I'm beyond glad I've read that book. Even if my situation grows more difficult I at least want to get myself to a place where I'm serene with my circumstance (lowercase c, for those who know what I mean).

The list:

1.) Write article for Modern Paleo: Wrote a rough draft and hate it. I've got to rewrite it.

2.) Look up "feeling art": Found it! It's called Touching the Art, by Luc Travers. I have no idea why I thought it was called Feeling Art. I've added it to my reading list, but since I don't have any goals involving art at the moment I don't know when I'll get to it.

3.) Read to page 150 in Schulz biography: Not yet, but thankfully this book is actually stored at the library I travel to, so I'll have a much easier time holding onto it until I finish it.

4.) Read to page 100 in Crash Proof: And beyond. Given the closing due date this isn't a sufficient pace, however, so I'll probably need to fill out a request for it again since I can't renew it. Blast. At the very least, I find reading the book helps me face the more difficult times ahead of us given that I'm granting it attention.

5.) Memorize the various muscle groups: I got some sites documented, but I didn't do the studies. Darn. I but merely plan on massaging my various muscle groups while I state their names (think of the song Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes without the singing). In retrospect this shouldn't be too time-consuming, so I'll go for it again next week.

* * * * *

My present problem seems to be that I'm accumulating more and more interests while I'm doing less and less to act upon them. It's time to essentialize and stick to certain concentrations in order to get something of significance accomplished regardless of how many tempting deviations may present themselves, unless I judge them to be of higher value. Of current, my main interests are:

1.) Computer coding: I've said in my New Year's resolutions that I want to redesign my blog layout. I should learn some coding to see how I could do that, but at the same time I've got some simple ideas that might make my life better, so I'm thinking of learning some easy and quick coding skills to see if I can get done what I want to get done and see if I want to take it any further.

2.) Chocolate: I simply want to read and learn more about it, and blog more about it beyond my too-seldom chocolate reviews. I need to search out more chocolate resources and books to see if I can cultivate something.

3.) Exercise: Weight-lifting is my second hobby in addition to walking. It's fun to go to the gym to see how I can test my limits, make myself stronger, and improve my well-being, physique, and appetite. I want to learn more about optimal practices. Right now, of course, I'm aiming to learn the various muscle groups in order to enable myself more rational exercise order planning, and I've submitted a library request for Body by Science Questions and Answers too, so I think that's sufficient for now.

4.) Get my financial house in order: I do not have the means of doing so right now -- and hope I'm not too late -- but acquiring the necessary knowledge is a must. I'm reading Crash Proof for that reason, but unfortunately may have to submit a request for it again since I may not finish it in time and cannot afford to buy it. Aside from stocking myself materialistically with food and medical supplies, my main thought in protecting myself is to convert my dollars to another currency. I don't want to play stocks right now; just protect my savings.

To get myself into a more focused mindset, I'm thinking of doing fewer goals this week with the thought of greater time dedication to each of them. So for this week I plan on:

1.) Memorizing the various muscle groups

2.) Reading to page 150 in Schulz and Peanuts

3.) Reading to page 200 in Crash Proof: And resubmit a request for it too since it's due soon.

4.) Submitting a request for a chocolate-based book (more informative, not recipes) and following more chocolate blogs

5.) Writing an article for Modern Paleo

That's it for now. On the sidelines, I should also work on getting up earlier and conducting earlier morning walks. I love walks so much, yet they're time-consuming given my immense value, so I ought to make more time for them. I'll also be managing anxiety in the meanwhile.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Writings for Modern Paleo

I have advertised it before, but I guess I should add greater emphasis to the fact that I also contribute to another blog, Modern Paleo. Most of my contributions are cross-posted articles like my chocolate reviews, but on occasion I have written articles for them exclusively, and I think I didn't do a good job raising awareness on that part. Omitting cross-posted pieces, here's some MP exclusives:

Paleo and Rewriting Reality: People have taken before to recognizing what good health effects my lifestyle has achieved, but on more than one occasion I have had it where their estimates will change completely once they learn my means. One person even deceptively put me off as a vegetarian even though I eat far more meat than vegetables.

Being Paleo During an Economic Disaster: It's never a nice subject to think about, but now is the time to get one's food and health life in order before things get bad, otherwise you might be up the creek without a paddle.

I'll continue writing more exclusive articles here and there in the future, and will be better in making note of it here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I wonder: How much of a trend could it possibly be that people will assume a person is innately incompetent or ignorant if they make a mistake, no matter how much they demonstrate that they have corrected themselves? I'm thinking in terms of things like forgetting directions to a place or performing a work task incorrectly, not immoral stuff.

Lately I've noticed I've been nurturing a rather irrational premise about mistakes that has been making me fearful of people watching me cook. I don't mind the prospect of accidentally ruining my meal and learning from my errors, I just don't like it if there are witnesses around, and I think that it may be due to some irrational ideas regarding the nature of mistakes itself.

In the past whenever I would make a mistake it was treated with near absolute disbelief that I was capable of learning or correcting my ways, as when I would err the people around me would then endlessly try to correct and guide me, way beyond reasonable or rational expectations. For instance, if I previously had difficulty remembering the directions to a certain location the person guiding me there would then ceaselessly give me directions to it and quiz me upon it for weeks, even months, longer than ever needed, and they would outright ignore my improvement and correction and continue on with their guidance. In other words, after having made a mistake I would commonly find myself being treated as I weren't capable of learning from that mistake. Thus, I tend to fear people observing my mistakes because I fear it's going to lead them to try and correct me upon it nearly without end, and ignore any proof that I have learned. For goodness sake, some people have even taken to offering me directions to a place I've traveled to literally over a dozen times.

It's okay to offer constructive criticism, but beyond a certain point it becomes insulting. One needs to keep a watch on the evidence that the person is either improving themselves or have totally corrected themselves, otherwise you're ignoring their ability and treating them unjustly.

The reason why I wonder whether this part of a trend in the philosophical culture is because it has a nature as an idea: That mistakes are somehow evidence of a person's inability to perform or learn. And that in effect may be related to another philosophical idea: That ability and talent is innate and outside of one's capacity for development; you either have it or you don't. Given that, a person with that idea might be overly disturbed at their mistakes since they might believe they have no natural capacity to do otherwise, and a like person witnessing someone make mistakes may assume that a person needs to be forever guided in that endeavor otherwise they'll unavoidably fail on their own.

Have you noticed this trend in your own life?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Continued Thinking on my Purpose in Life

Just about as always, I've been doing some thinking as to where I want to go in the culinary field as per my purpose in life, and more and more I've been realizing lately just how much I love an intellectual direction. At first I thought I'd might like to own my own restaurant or restaurants, but I'm confused on that matter for the moment.

After observing myself these past weeks after someone made a significant comment about my character, I've learned that I do my best and am my happiest when I'm feeding my mind and putting it to work. Pure muscle-type labor is out, as not only would I be discontent, but I'd also perform poorly since my mind would be severely dulled and undermine my efforts by wandering to other thinking to gain stimulation. On the other extreme, it doesn't seem I'd enjoy too much the pure intellectual realm either, just writing articles and stuff.

I noticed how important my mind is to my work through working a very looong shift of dish washing at my current job. I came in fine, but several hours in I started losing control of my pacing and felt empty-headed. My brain simply felt deprived. However, to gain temporary relief from his duties a coworker offered to trade places with me, so he could wash dishes to restore himself while I chopped lettuce for salad. Instantaneously I felt recharged at the prospect of learning and developing a new skill, and during the task I got so excited that I literally got an adrenaline rush and could hardly refrain from blasting with energy. Afterwards I took to washing dishes with renewed vigor. Learning is a must in my career.

At the same time, I've been wondering about my capacity for culinary creativeness. Truth be told I don't seem to be very active in the realm of thinking up new dishes and combinations, but still I do think about food a lot, distinct from hunger. At this point I'm considering chefdom a point in my career, not an end-point, I think. Then again, perhaps my culinary creativeness is simply due to being unsophisticated in that realm, as I can't afford to eat at restaurants currently, live on a budget Paleo diet, and haven't started my second job at the country club yet, meaning I don't get a lot of exposure to culinary artistry and flavor sensations. Before I reach a definitive conclusion on this point I'll need to eat out more, experiment more at home, and advance forth into the hot line at work.

As for the short-term, after reading more and more chocolate-oriented blogs and articles I have been experiencing a desire to write more regularly about chocolate, much more often than my once-a-week chocolate reviews. I may not want to be a fiction writer as I did while growing up, but writing is still a value to me, and it seems that I may be being pulled in the direction of chocolate, whether it be about recipes, farming, political activism, or the like. And come to think of it, I've been terrible at carelessly discounting chocolate's potential role in my career, haven't I? I like it an awful lot after all, and it's been a value to me that's just growing stronger as time passes. Maybe I'd like to manufacture my own line in the future . . . ?

For now, what I think I should do is get into my second job, increase my exposure to more sophisticated cooking, eat out more after stabilizing my finances, experiment more at home, and see if there's some way I could stimulate my writing urges with chocolate-based topics. I thought my thinking was more clear on the matter of which direction I'd like to go, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. Not yet.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Coming to Objectivism

In the past weeks I have read some accounts of other people's journey to Objectivism and atheism and have been inspired to write my own account. It's interesting to see how people come to take such strong ideological stances as these, for if these transformations were documented in a story, they'd be a dramatic turning point in the plot. Besides, I notice some people are often interested in some alternative ideas but are afraid to give them thorough thought for fear of how they might affect their relationships or put obstacles in their way, so I'd like to demonstrate that any hardship endured as a consequence is more than worth it.

For the most part, the reason why I've become an Objectivist is because I spent the majority of my life suffering from the bad philosophical ideas that Ayn Rand repudiated. My elders are ideologically blank and adopted the ideas that form their character with unthinking absorption and no intellectual interest, so I adopted the same ideas by observing their practices and grew up very miserable as a result, made worse by the fact I often didn't know why I thought life was so horrible. The majority of my childhood was spent either playing video games, watching television, or daydreaming, as ceasing any of those activities would make me aware of how terrible I felt deep-down.

A lot of my pain was derived by not only accepting bad ideas in unconscious terms, but also by not having any stance in important areas and therefore being plagued by uncertainty. I had pro-capitalist emotions in my teen years, but absolutely no political views while growing up, for instance, as my elders never talked about politics or took any kind of political stance. I even had a terrible stint where I doubted the validity of my sensory perception and believed I was doing evil things beyond my awareness, as one time a kid maliciously and falsely accused me of a crime without having evidence or witnesses, and yet most all the adults seized on me and with much rage urged me to "confess," despite the consistency with which I denied committing such an act and didn't even remember coming in contact with the kid. Their "certainty" in my crime made me think my memory was somehow unreliable, so I was terrified that I might be a horrible person and not know what acts I committed.

Even though my philosophy was adopted without thinking, it can still be identified in explicit terms now that I'm wiser. Metaphysically, I struggled with a mystical, religious universe in combination with one that had an identity separate from anyone's consciousness, as I both believed in God and an atheistic, scientific reality. I always had doubts about God, but since my elders didn't take my questions seriously and instead brushed me off my questions simply went unanswered, but they ultimately never left my mind since they were never refuted either. My ethical premise that thoughts themselves can be evil prevented me from thoroughly thinking about those questions however, as I thought even the slightest doubt in God could sentence me to Hell, so I actively refused to think about those matters.

Epistemologically, I adopted secular faith. While I was religious, it was primarily an intellectual position I held to, but largely paid lip-service to. The extent of my family's religious beliefs were that there is a God and he gave ten commandments, but nobody read the Bible, went to church, or took any other aspect of religion seriously. They just said they believed in God, maybe prayed at night, and otherwise lived their lives in contradiction to their supposed beliefs. I was never taught how to learn things or by which means to identify that something was true, so I developed a "somehow" mentality in which I was expected to believe in things because my elders "said so," "just know" it's true, and so on. I was perpetually uncertain, but had no thinking tools in which to fully address these premises.

My ethics were probably the most developed and destructive. It consisted of altruism, that thoughts can have moral status, and second-handedness. On the first, through whatever means I gained the belief that one should sacrifice for others, but in the end it caused me much pain since not only is sacrifice painful, but also because I grew up largely without friends and therefore without recipients for my sacrifices, and I didn't want to sacrifice anyhow since my life was spiritually painful enough as it was, so I lived with perpetual guilt. On the second, since I lived with an elder who was emotionally unstable, unpredictable, and even explosive, I gained the belief that thoughts can have moral status given how hysterical they would react to some things I said, so I thought even the mere contemplation of a "bad" thought can make one evil. I resorted to suppression, which made the bad thoughts worse and therefore me more grieved. On the last, I had another elder who was literally obsessed with what other people thought of them, so watching how they were constantly petrified at other people and always trying to cater to them made me believe it must be ethically necessary to be concerned with others, so I too became immensely worried about what other people thought of me. My self-esteem ended up being eroded since I was heavily bullied, had few to no friends, and had mostly teachers indifferent to my problems, so, granting weight to other people's thoughts, I lowered my opinion of myself. All three tenets combined made me endlessly guilty that I was not doing my altruistic duty, distraught at my mental processes, and avoiding people for fear of what they thought of me.

And politically, as stated before, there were no views. I'm not sure if my elders even voted while I was growing up. No subject of any political nature was ever brought up, and to this day I have no idea what most of my family's political affiliations are. I think they were too afraid of the slightest strife to be able to take a stance on anything, so they avoided endorsing or condemning anything, if they had any political beliefs at all, in order to get along with other people. In my teens I developed pro-capitalist emotions since I somehow arrived at the conclusion that other people should not force their beliefs on others. This didn't grow to a full political belief, however, as I still didn't know how to think in ideological terms.

The philosophy as a whole consequently made me grow up in a miserable. My metaphysics and epistemology made me confused and constantly doubtful. My ethics made me view myself as an evil person who deserved to die and was resentful at other people's perception. And my absence of any sort of politics left me ideologically powerless to society's laws since I had no conception of how men should treat each other. A lot of philosophical stances were actually something I potentially leaned towards, like atheism and rational egoism, but the ethical tenet that thoughts can be evil made me refuse to think about them, and I could hardly think in explicit terms anyhow. I played video games, watched television, and daydreamed endlessly to avoid thinking or even acknowledging the reality my life, and got depressed otherwise.

I adopted all of these ideas from my elders, who were (and still are) largely unaware of them themselves, and at the same time they hardly participated in my spiritual raising. They entertained me with material goods and fed me, but I could never have deep talks with them nor engage in any meaningful activities that would allow me to spiritually bond and nurture a love. My mother's emotional instability established my misery, made me afraid of her, and made me avoid her since I couldn't predict her behavior. My grandmother just gave me a lot of presents and material goods, which I enjoyed, but cannot appreciate her character on the basis of since her personality if of a different nature. My grandfather sat around and drank soda all the time, and eventually I became afraid of him when he one day lifted me by the front of my shirt collar, looking like he was going to hit me, all because I had a bad day at school and provoked him by looking sad, so from then on I avoided him for fear of danger. I was left to my own devices then, and could do practically whatever I wanted, whether it meant playing video games for an obscene amount of hours, guzzling a quarter of a twelve-pack of soda, or eating an entire package of pudding. The rules were mostly lip-service, as even gentle asking would make them cave and backtrack, leaving me with little parental influence. I spent the vast majority of my time alone, doing my own thing.

As time went on my philosophical premises made me feel worse and worse, to the point I became suicidal. My life was only protected by a lack of motivation, however, as my most distressed and suicidal moments were accompanied by a great fear and lack of motivation to do anything about it. I spent well over five years nurturing suicidal thoughts and intentions. My relationship and trust with my elders was destroyed when they totally ignored me when I outright told them about this, as they refused to talk to me about it or get me any kind of help. The friends I consulted with didn't help me either, as it turned out they just used me to vent themselves, so they didn't care to give my serious problem any attention. I was shocked that the people I trusted the most in my life could betray and abandon me like this, so from during that period I stopped trusting and "loving" these people and kept to myself. I was alone with my problems. It's especially bad since I almost went through with the act one time, and was only saved because I had a calming mood swing on the long car drive to get materials from the store.

Ayn Rand came in about 2006, which is when I was already vigorously interested in philosophy, thinking about it often. Some time back I had discovered Anthony Burgess through A Clockwork Orange and The Doctor is Sick, and loved his writing, which inspired me to start entertaining philosophy. Burgess primed my consciousness, so to speak. One day I was just randomly splurging at the bookstore on some books when The Virtue of Selfishness caught my eye. I read Athem in school previously and hated Rand's writing style, but a valued friend at the time mentioned that she loved it, so I thought I'd give Rand's non-fiction a thought to see if it was any better. Although the title is intentionally provocative, I didn't see anything different about it, as my unexplicit ethics said nothing persay about selfishness being evil, so this was a random purchase that didn't really rouse my interest.

But did the reading ever rouse me.

I was immediately blown away from the first article on, and Rand wrote in a clear style that helped me consciously call to attention ideas I couldn't speak about explicitly before and yet was having my life dictated by. Her words hit my intellectual core and made me see for the first time in my life my own system of morality, the morality I had been living by my entire life. She made me see how such a belief was destroying my life, making me miserable and reclusive. She made me see that rational selfishness was not evil, that it didn't consist of hedonism or hurting others for your "interests," but rather trading values with others. She made me see that it was not bad to be alone, and that it was not right to place other people's thoughts above your own. I was only about two essays or so in before I entered a state of intense euphoria that lasted for hours, rendering me incapable of reading any further until I had calmed down. That day was a turning point in my life.

I didn't desire to immediately take to other of Rand's works yet, but she did set off a vicious storm of thinking that drastically morphed my character and how I began thinking. I became incredibly philosophical and contemplative. The philosophy I detailed above quickly became uprooted in favor of integrating Objectivism, and it's amazing how quickly I took to it, almost as if I had been a potential Objectivist all my life. I think the doubts I had about certain positions, like about God, would have led to me integrating Objectivist premises quickly if I had fully addressed those doubts, but since I believed thoughts could be evil I didn't do that thinking, thereby leaving the stances I hold now only as a potential. Very quickly I lost the desire to maintain my evasion techniques such as playing video games, as I soon began building my self-esteem and self-love, and favored perusing intellectual forums on the internet to further develop my philosophy. I don't think I ever actually valued video games, as the habit was broken nearly instantaneously and abandoned since; now I've sold all my games and systems, and there is only a single arcade collection installed on my computer that I seldom use.

The first things I started to do were read more vigorously than I already was, have philosophical talks with my friends and some elders, and, most importantly, consciously alter my behavior to match my new ideas. For instance, I recognized and was disturbed by how second-handed I was, as I was constantly faking my personality in order to garner approval from others, so I undertook my first major self-improvement endeavor to stop being dishonest in my actions. From then on I wasn't going to give lip-service to my ideas: I was going to preach and practice them.

Rand didn't convince me on her atheism however, so I was at first the well-known contradictory "Christian Objectivist." Her idea that evasion was evil penetrated my mind, however, so I could no longer allow myself to keep evading thoughts about religion, even if I did fear it as evil. I watched an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit! that talked about contradictions in the Bible, so that convinced me to convert to deism and not adhere to any specific religious. I kept thinking more and more about Rand's objections to not only Christianity, but religion in principle, and eventually integrated her conclusion that it was contradictory, logically impossible, and epistemologically unjustified, so about five months from having read the VOS, July 2006, I became a full-fledged atheist and stopped praying or believing in any God. As my philosophical beliefs changed, my mental health just kept improving and improving, making me grow happier and happier -- for the first time in my life. I took the objective status of my character seriously, was an overall better person, pursued learning more intently, and more. It was nearing the end of my teenager years, but my life was finally getting better.

My elders were largely indifferent to this development, unfortunately, and didn't take much interest in the books I read or that I was even reading at all. They treated me as if I was going through a stage and sometimes mouthed acceptance to the alternative ideas I stated that contradicted theirs. I briefly tried to argue with them, but I near-instantly understood that it was a mistake to try and philosophically convert them, so I largely left them alone, except in times in which they either provoked challenge or stated their beliefs in a way which made me need to voice mine lest they mistake my stance. I was my most ideologically sensitive at this point in my life, but they didn't pay attention and continued leaving me to my own devices, so they had absolutely no input in the ideas I entertained, adopted, or rejected. While I was materialistically taken care of, I consider myself as having raised myself from childhood and an entirely self-made man since my elders played no role in my spiritual development. I was growing increasingly antipodal to their ideology, but it didn't present any problems until I took some major actions to establish my well-being. You're probably already familiar with the scenario, as this is where my family troubles started brewing, eventually culminating in my current status where I moved to Texas without telling them and have excommunicated.

As part of my self-improvement I was striving to be more honest by acknowledging reality for what it is rather than what I believed it to be, and one aspect of that was my supposed love for my family. Yes, I deplored many of my elders, particularly those who didn't help me after I told them I was suicidal, but those conclusions were primarily in emotional terms only. In paying attention to the actual reality of matters it struck me as odd that I habitually said "I love you" to certain people even though I felt inwardly indifferent, so in order to reveal to myself how I truly felt towards these people I resolved never to say those words unless I actually felt love. To my utter surprise, I never said those words to my family again. When I introspected on the past I realized I almost always felt this way towards them, and was always mouthing words to deceive myself. I noticed I felt particularly strong negative emotions towards my mother. When she temporarily moved to Florida I suddenly felt immensely better and took more control over my life, eating a better (though not Paleo) diet, cleaning the house because I valued it, and being more at peace with myself. The lack of parental rules were still the same, so I didn't clean the house or ate better because I was told to -- they didn't even encourage me to -- but rather because I authentically valued the practices and maintained them of my own will. I hardly missed my mother. When she came back from Florida the negative atmosphere returned, I was stressed and in my room all the time, and refused to continue any of my regular chores. When she left again, contentment returned. One aspect of my inner peace of course could have been due to my philosophical development and desire to live life on my own terms, but it became explicitly clear that I held strong negative emotions towards my mother when I took a terrible vacation to Florida to visit her, which I hated everything about the entire trip, only relieved when I was home alone again. (My father wasn't in my life.)

I made the entirely calm dedication to never speak to my mother again whenever I should happen to move out the house, as I detested her the majority of my teenage years for her self-destructive behavior; unpredictable, unstable, and hostile emotions; and her refusal to recognize her problems or change herself. Objectivism gave me the thinking tools to reach this estimate by integrating evidence from the past and present to gather a sum of what her actions state about her character (we are what we repeatedly do), and my long-range thinking made me identify that her fluctuating behavior and refusal to change would mean that I would always be unhappy in dealing with her, which is why I chose to cut her off entirely rather than, say, merely move away and maintain correspondence. I don't think I would have been able to reach this conclusion if my psycho-epistemology hadn't been changed by Objectivism. Never at any point did I jump to a conclusion on the basis of emotion; the evidence told me this relationship would always be entirely unhappy, so I planned to disassociate entirely accordingly.

And of course, at this point you might know what happened. During my college days my mother kicked me out for knocking on her bedroom door too loudly, which is when I moved to my grandmother's and enacted the plan I constructed years prior. My family begged me to talk to my mother, but in response to my polite and extensive explanation for my stance, one I reached through hours of thinking, they gave me arbitrary conclusions they refused to give evidence for or prove, yelled at me, intimidated me, called me names, and so on. Eventually my grandmother got in the way of me living my life the way I wanted to as well, so I started the Project which culminated in me moving to Texas and cutting off a greater portion of my family. I have a super long essay here about what problems existed in my family, what I did about it, and what philosophically gave rise to my conflicts, as well as what you should do if you get in the same position.

Succinctly, I was taking great steps to vastly improve my well-being, but my elders refused to acknowledge the roots as to why I was getting so much better, so they encouraged me to reestablish the relationships and habits when led to my deterioration in the first place, so when I understood our conflicts could not be worked out by reason, I abandoned them since I was (and still am) unwilling to sacrifice my objective well-being for what they "feel" will be "good" for me.

As for friends, I still took an irrational attitude towards how I maintained many of my friendships given familial stress and leftover irrational premises, but ultimately I valued my friends less and less since I was growing more philosophical while they took another path. For instance, I hung out with people who played video games as intensely as I once did, but since I lost interest in the habit I lost the major thing I had in common with these people. I was becoming more interested in ideas, learning, and striving to realize the ideal, whereas they weren't, so we grew separately and apart. While my philosophy made me more friendless and unpopular, especially in college where my peers resented me, I didn't mind the aloneness since I had self-love and realized I wouldn't objectively like or love people with such contrary natures.

Sure, Objectivism has made me encounter a lot of obstacles, such as strife with my family, elimination of friends, hostility from others, and so on, but the hardship has been worth it to gain what I have today. I'm no longer suicidal, but rather am eager to live, more content, more respectful and nice to others, more intelligent, and more. And it is indeed Objectivism that has bestowed these benefits on me. I would never have been able to establish self-love if I hadn't repudiated altruism and the notion that it's a moral obligation to be concerned with what others think. I would never have been able to identify my family problems and solve them as I have, giving me a peaceful environment. I would never have been able to achieve my current physical health if I didn't have the courage to go against popular nutritional opinions and go Paleo. I never would have been able to identify my purpose in life and become the culinary-inspired, chocolate-reviewing person that I am today. I simply wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't changed my philosophy, thinking habits, and how I evaluate ideas. If I kept going on the other path, I don't think I'd be alive today honestly, because the pain would just have kept getting greater.

I have definitely been scrutinized and unjustly treated for my views, such as my family getting angry at me for not talking to my mother despite her atrocious immorality, but what contentment and inner peace I have achieved has more than made up for it, and it eliminates any temptation to compromise on my ideals on the delusion that it'll somehow make things easier or make me happier. I've stuck to my convictions, and have been rewarded justly in spirit.

The way I've stumbled upon Rand's fiction by chance makes me contemplate the Butterfly Effect, how a seemingly small factor can lead to a massive chain reaction, such as a butterfly's wing flapping eventually initiating a hurricane. What if I didn't see Rand's book that day when I was out shopping, or didn't purchase it? What if I didn't read Anthony Burgess and became interested in philosophy through him? Maybe I would be an entirely different person, or maybe I would have still become an Objectivist by having the psychological makeup receptive to those ideas. I don't know, but I'm immensely glad I stumbled upon Rand's work when I did because I was intellectually ready for her at the time, and her philosophy has diverted me off a destructive path that would have only grown worse with time. Now these days I'm always concerned with expanding my mind and learning ever more, and with improving my character more and more to match that of what I view to be my ideal self. Life is worth living now. This is my story on how I became an Objectivist.