Friday, February 10, 2017

When The Man Comes Around


My friend recently found out her husband is dying. The doctors say he has less than 5 years to live. He could be dead tomorrow. There's no operation and no medication that can stop this. Only a miracle will change the inevitable.

I don't know what it would be like to know how little time you have left on this side of eternity. I'm sure it would make any person re-evaluate their life. We all know we have a limited number of days but we all assume that those days numbers in the tens of thousands. I mentioned in early blog posts about sudden illnesses and deaths that affected people I know much earlier in life than is expected. My cousin lost his wife to ALS. A coworker has learned she has MS. They were both younger than I am. Another coworker lost his daughter to cancer. She wasn't even 10. My parents are currently older than their parents were when they died. No one knows for sure how many days or years they have left. And yet, I would guess that we waste so much of our time on things that don't matter in the larger scheme of things.

My friend is preparing to be a widow in her 30s with 3 kids under the age of 9. Now that the reality of mortality has set in their priorities have changed. Life is not about going to work right now, even though money will be important in the future. They want to spend time together. They want to make videos for their kids to remember their dad.

I'm planning to live beyond 100 years old. How should I prioritize? Do I live like today is the first day of the rest of my life or live like today will be my last? What's the middle ground?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Proverbs XXI

If you're going to fish you need the right bait.
If you're going to hunt you need the right weapon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ads

I'm trying to remove as much advertising from my life as possible. I hate it. I hate being exposed to marketing designed to make me want or buy something. I think I'm good at ignoring the advertising thrust on me but I can't be 100% confident that I'm operating of my own free will. I drive the same car as Tony Stark. Is that a coincidence? There's a lot of interesting research being published over the last 5 years or so regarding the affects of advertising exposure.

First, studies say that the average North American encounters about 5000 ads a day. Some are blatant and others are more subtle. The 30 second commercial is an example of a blatant advertisement. So is a billboard. Brand name labelling on clothes or electronics are more subtle advertisements as well as product placement in movies.  There are are a lot of ads that fall somewhere in between on the marketing spectrum. I know I will never be able to filter them all but I have decided not to knowingly subject myself to all these messages.  

Studies focused on the effects of advertising on children has discovered that the more ads a child is exposed to the more materialistic they tend to be. The more materialistic a child is, the unhappier the child is as well. It is a bit of a chicken/egg problem though. Are unhappy kids seeking out ads to find products to make them happy or does exposure to adds make them want material items which leads to unhappiness when the things don't make them as happy as promised? I'll let you decide.

It has also been observed that people who have viewed food advertisements before meals eat up to 45% more food than those who were not exposed the the advertisements. I think this shows causality and answers the question from the paragraph above.

Studies using multiple test groups have found an interesting link between marketing and emotion. One group was shown two products, stating that one is inferior to the other based on certain reasons. The test group was shown pictures of the inferior product with things people generally associate with pleasant feelings such as sunsets, Christmas, and baby animals while the superior product was displayed with generic items and backgrounds. The second test group was show photos of the items, each displayed with the same generic items and backgrounds. After viewing the pictures both groups were asked to pick the best product. Almost 85% of the people who were shown the positive emotional pictures chose the inferior product, even after being told several minutes earlier why the product was inferior. The generic test group chose the superior product almost 100% of the time. Coca Cola is a master at emotional advertising. Their most memorable adds have no product information at all. They rely almost completely on creating warm fuzzies for the viewers.

Advertising works. And that's why I want out. I want to be free of the undo influence of product peddlers. Previous to this decision I think I managed to keep the influence of advertising to a minimum in my life. I am not a very materialistic person and I don't have a desire for the bigger and better product X. However, I have seen more targeted ads trying to work their way in to my life and I am tired of being on the receiving end. From a technological stand point there is a lot that can be done to keep the ads away. I'm doing what I can on that front.

I will never be 100% free of this Matrix, but I will do what I can to come close. I know I will be happier because of it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Vacation Life

I'm not going on a vacation any time soon.

I don't "need" a vacation any time soon.

I try to live my life like a vacation.

Here's why.

I live in a great city. It's a city that many people come to for a vacation. Once I realized that people spend time and money to come experience what I have access to on a daily basis I started to reevaluate what I consider leisure. The things I want to experience and the things I do for enjoyment are relatively simple and relatively cheap. Drawing upon my previous posts discussing opportunity costs and the law of diminishing returns I concluded that I don't need to work a lot to fund my leisure activities and that spending a lot on a big vacation may not be the best return on investment (happiness). This means I have more free time to do the things I like to do and I don't need to spend a lot to do them. Ultimately, I'm just as happy, if not more happy, doing a lot of smaller enjoyable things throughout the year than a couple big "vacations".

I know a person who works as a nurse. She is also a flight attendant. She works 6 or 7 days a week. She saves up all her money and blows it on 2 vacations every year. She works almost 330 days a year and relaxes the other 35 days. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks this is stupid. We aren't meant to devote ourselves to work. We are to devote ourselves to purpose. I try to work as little as possible. That allows me to devote more time to purposeful things. Don't get me wrong, I think a little rest and relaxation are important, but I don't see the need to do it all at once.

I try to live every day as a vacation.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Less is More

It's Christmas time.  The news just told me the average person in North America will spend $600 on Christmas presents this year. That is actually down 8% from last year. Considering the fact that I'm paying ZERO for Christmas presents, someone out there is buying $1200 to compensate for my lack of Christmas "spirit".



I have written in the past about the law of diminishing returns when accumulating things. Basically owning 100 TVs won't make you 100 times happier than owning one TV. However, owning one tv will probably make you happier than owning none. Somewhere in between you will find a maximum return on investment. I would also suggest that owning 100 TVs would make you less happy than owning one TV. (Search Laffer Curve although it really isn't connected to my theory.) Owning 100 TVs would cost a lot of money. That money could be spent on other things. It takes a lot of space to store 100 TVs. That space costs more money to hold your 100 TVs. Then there's the electricity bill. Simply put, owning 100 TVs is an inconvenience.

TVs aside, everything we own has a similar affect on us. There's a point at which accumulating more does not bring happiness. I think we're beyond that point in North America. There's a very interesting contrast happening in my life right now. I am actively working at reducing the amount of stuff cluttering my life, all the while people around me are actively shopping for more things because its Christmas. I've been giving away a lot of clothes lately. It's ridiculous how much I've accumulated, and I'm actively trying to reduce my consumption.  I have about 20 pairs of shoes. How does that even happen?

In one of my multiple homes I have a room to store my shelves that hold my boxes that house my things. Those things are rarely, if ever, used. I have 3 sombreros. I know Mexicans who don't own 3 sombreros.

I am working to bring more to my life by having less. Less things, more money. Less things, more time. Less things, more happiness.

Solstice


It's my favourite time of the year. The shortest day of the year. Once again, every day for the next 6 months is going to be a little longer, a little brighter, than the day before. We made it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Discomfort Can Lead To Growth


This blog has documented the changes I've gone through over the last 7 years or so. I've grown quite a bit as a person. My world view, how I perceive others, and how I perceive myself has changed drastically. Its been quite interesting to look back at who I was and where I've come from and compare that version of me to who I am now. I think the changes are good. Great even. What I've concluded is that comfort leads to stagnation and deterioration. The best comfort can lead to is the status quo. However, the negative end of the comfort spectrum ends with death of the soul, if not the body.

Growth only comes through the discomfort of trials. When I first started this blog I was deeply dissatisfied with my personal development. I suffered from Social Anxiety, I was incredibly shy and I was/still am an introvert. These obstacles left with me with only 2 options. I could learn to accept this disabling fear and live with it. I could seek out a life of comfort, which would have meant essentially living as a hermit. No friends. No social activities. No interaction with the world outside the necessities of life. I could avoid my fears and live a comfortably pathetic life. Or I could do whatever it took to overcome these obstacles in my life. It was very uncomfortable confronting my fears and putting in the necessary effort to grow beyond my limitations at the time. However, now that I am on the other side I can say with certitude that any discomfort I felt at the time is more than compensated for by the place I am in now.

It frustrates me to see people limiting themselves, seeking out immediate relief from discomfort instead of allowing that discomfort to lead to growth. The guy who climbs a mountain doesn't give up and go home because it got cold out. He puts on another layer and keeps climbing. The band that releases a hit song likely had a lot of flops that preceded it. The lady that loses 100 pounds didn't retreat to the kitchen with a spoon and a bucket of ice cream. It took self control and many uncomfortable trips to the gym. These are all real people I know. They could have retreated to a warm home, a boring profession, or a bakery and found comfort but they didn't. They persevered through their discomfort and changed their circumstances.

There's always two options. Retreat or press on. One is much more comfortable. The other leads to victory. The choice is always yours.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Scrooge

I'm Scrooge.

I had to go to a couple stores and a mall this weekend. It was horrible. Parking lots without parking spots, malls with bouncers, stores with every till open and line ups stretching for all eternity. I hate materialism. And Christmas brings out the worst of those who writhe in materialism like a pig in slop. Every year the news covers the latest Black Friday stampedes, shootings, fights and deaths as people struggle to buy more junk they can't afford to give to those who don't need it and people they are mostly indifferent about.

I rarely buy Christmas presents. And if I do buy something, it usually has nothing to do with Christmas at all. The timing is just a coincidence. However, I'm a fairly generous person with my time, money and possessions. I try to help out where I can regardless of the time of year.

Several days ago at work some of the office staff were talking about what they were buying their kids for Christmas and how they hope to be done Christmas shopping weeks before the actual date. I casually mentioned that I don't buy anyone anything for Christmas. Their reactions were amazing. Some had looks of sheer horror, as though I just kicked their dogs. Others thought I was lying. Others still tried to coax the "truth" out of me, suggesting what I meant was that I only buy presents for my immediate family or something that fit within their paradigm. I said it again. Nothing. No one. Silence. So I continued to talk. I told them that I don't want to waste money that could go towards something positive and/or practical on things that no one wants or needs just because every one else is doing it. A couple people quietly admitted that it made sense. They were also the same people talking about all the toys they were buying for their kids. Then someone quite seriously said, "But you're still buying something for your wife, right?" Nope. More silence. Aghast looks on their faces. It made my day. I hope some were shocked enough to change their habits, but they probably won't.

As an aside, I was the lowest paid person in that room. (By my own choice. I choose time over money when practical.) And yet I probably had the highest net value of everyone there. I don't particularly care about the value of my "stuff" but if I were to play by their rules, I own 5 houses, have a net worth closing in on 7 figures and my car cost more than my parents paid for their current home. I will be a millionaire by the time I'm 40 and I plan to retire by 50, which was younger than at least a couple people in the room. I am not a slave to money or things like they are. I actually feel sorry for them.

I bought my wife a house and a car a couple months ago. And we just spent a couple hundred dollars on things I would consider unnecessary to decorate this new house. That alone is enough of a decent into materialism for me.

Bah Humbug and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trump vs Clinton

This isn't a political post. However, I'll throw out some political prognostications just for fun. These are my thoughts on the disintegration of a pillar of western democracy, the media.

Before I get to the point though, I'm predicting Trump will win. That goes against almost every commentary and poll I see. I made that prediction over a year ago when Trump entered the race to be the Republican nominee. I may be wrong. I've been wrong before. If Trump doesn't win, I wouldn't want to be an American in 20 years. They are circling the drain at the moment. Western civilization is at stake.

Moving on to the the topic at hand, the diminished influence and respectability of the media. It is a fact that news organizations tend to be left leaning when it comes to almost all topics. As long as you could filter their bias, you could sift out a little truth. Those days are gone. There is no truth in reporting anymore, only narrative.

Pollsters keep confirming that trust in the mainstream media is at an all time low. Why? Because we no longer believe the stories they tell. Their "news" and our "reality" don't agree. I could go on and on but I will use a couple recent political examples to show why even Democrats and Socialists don't believe the narrative any more.

1. Trump competed against 16 other candidates for the Republican nomination. Most were quite well known. Many had deep political connections. Commentary after commentary from the "media" explained to the masses how he couldn't win. His support was capped at 20%, then 30%, then 40%, then he was going in to a contested convention because he couldn't win enough delegates. They were all WRONG. Trump defeated all challengers and won despite the narrative the media put forward for their "viewers". Being proven wrong all the time tends to reduce one's credibility.

2.  Meanwhile, Clinton was barely scraping by on the Democrats side against a geriatric socialist most have never heard of and some other guy. The media did not say a thing. They did not question Hillary's viability. She was their chosen candidate and they did not want to cast her in a disparaging light. Even worse, was the obvious DNC bias in favour of Clinton and against Sanders. They awarded almost all super delegates to Clinton against the wishes of their own party members. Did the media report on this? Only in passing, and not nearly to the level they reported on Trump's supposed inability to win. I have no doubt Bernie Sanders would have beat Hillary Clinton if the Media Party and the DNC did not cover for her. The day Trump won the Republican nomination the media's headlines screamed, "Trump Divides Republicans" and other such drivel. Instead of focusing on the fact that not only did an outsider win ahead of 16 other established candidates, he did so before Clinton could beat 2 challengers with the support of the DNC shenanigans. Most stories discussed how the Republican party was now fractured. Meanwhile, the Democrats were deeply divided by Clinton and Sanders but the media ignored the political parallels. The media lies by OMISSION and by the selective narratives (or distractions) they present.

For example, do you remember when Obama claimed to have visited 57 states while campaigning? Of course not. The media would not show that footage to the public. It would indicate that their chosen candidate was not the intellect they told us he was. Now ask yourself, if this was George W. Bush would the footage have been aired? Of course it would, because that fits the narrative the media was trying to sell.



3. Hillary has stood by and defended her serial sex offending husband (who is likely a rapist) and attacked his accusers publicly. Trump was privately recorded saying women let rich men grab their privates a decade ago. Which story do you think the media ran with? Yep. Trump. Now I have no problem with the media using the recording to illustrate who Trump is. I do have a problem with them acting as though it was worse than the Clinton's actions. I have a huge problem with the media giving voice to hypocrites like Michelle Obama and other social commentators talking about how this is obscene and offensive, while ignoring the Clinton's past, or ignoring the sexual innuendo of artists and activists Michelle Obama and the Democratic Party support. The narrative was that this was the most obscene and misogynistic thing to be thrust upon the American public in the history of the Universe. Apparently they haven't heard of rap music yet. Just recently Madonna offered to perform sex acts on anyone who voted for Clinton. The media must be clutching their pearls and getting the vapours about that? Nope.

4. Media personalities have been caught (via hot mikes, poor editing, and hacked emails) aiding Clinton. Media personalities have given debate questions to Hillary. Producers have told her when to smile. Moderators have advised her campaign team. The networks shrug off the fact that Clinton's defence of her illegal and treasonous handling of classified information was that she was incompetent. Editors have "removed" black Trump supporters from their footage of campaign stops. Or, when the media accidentally shows a person of colour supporting Trump, they quickly explain it away as a novelty because that's not the story they want to tell.


5. The Media used to control the gates that information flowed through. Now we have the internet. This makes everyone an eye witness and a reporter. One of the things this new generation of news gatherers has discovered is that the media spins the truth. They can't do it any more. When the media lies, the public is there to correct them on a world wide stage for all to see.

Years ago I attended a political rally. It was the only one I have ever been to in my life. It was in a small city but there were hundreds of people there to see this conservative politician. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a political gathering of that size in that city before or after. There were about 10 protesters outside with signs. I was quite young back then and was curious to see what parts of the speech would be covered in the media. As I watched the national news, the tag line was "Politician X Met By Protesters in City Y". Was it true? Yes. Was it presented accurately? Not at all. The actual footage for the story was mostly of the politician walking by the protesters as he got off the bus. The camera man was careful to fill the entire shot with all 10 protesters while making sure that the hundreds (possibly near a thousand) supporters were not seen at all. I was incredibly disillusioned by that story and began to sense that the media may not be reporting what was really happening. It caused me to question a lot of what is now presented as fact by these journalists. This was during the infancy of the internet, but if it happened today I could easily refute this narrative with a couple cell phone pics and a Facebook/Instagram account. And that's exactly what is happening today. The media can't control the masses like it used to. The gates are open.


And they wonder why no one trusts them.

Friday, August 12, 2016

I'm Back

It's been a long time. I've been busy with life. I've had a lot of things to write about and a lot of topics to address but I haven't had the time lately. It looks like that will change soon.

I used to have a fairly regular readership. As I dropped out, so did they. I don't feel the need to build a readership, I just want to get my ideas out there so that at some point in the future I can look back, or someone else can look back, and see what was going on with my life at this stage.  It's safe to assume more of my posts are going to be opinionated and "controversial" as I speak my mind. There may be a little reflection on the journey my life has taken and why I am the way I am today, but most of the first 2 years of this blog has already got that covered.

Topics for future discussion may include:

-Predictions for the Future
-Trump vs Clinton
-Olympics (and why they are stupid)
-Men and Women
-Relationships
-Social Media
-News Media
-People who annoy me
-Self Improvement
-Negative People
-Truth
-Faith/Religion
-Basic Economics (The study of incentives)
-Politics
-Pokemon Go

That last one was to draw more traffic, but I will have a post on Pokemon Go eventually.