"Everything in excess is opposed to nature"

Well interwebs, it has been quite a while since my last post. I’ve been busy, trying to keep my head straight and figure out what this post would be about. Through that thought process arose one winner, and one sort-of obligatory half winner. First I plan on talking about excess, and how I’ve been trying to reign in my excess. Don’t worry I’m not trying to get overly preachy or anything along those lines, I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to consume and the implications it has on our society, health, and mental well-being. Secondly, I’ll sum up what I’ve been doing lately with work and life, this was the half winner so don’t expect it to be too informative. Credit to the quote in my title goes to Hippocrates.

Excess

Recently I read Born to Run which was recommended to me by a friend and co-worker of mine. To sum it up, the book is awesome. I enjoyed every part of it, and myself being not much of a runner (trying to get better) found it really inspirational. The kind of thing you want people close to you to read. I really feel that it changed my outlook on a lot of things. One of the main takeaways I found from the book was the thought of “less is more,” this is definitely not a new idea, but for me I’ve never really thought about how this could change me. I guess what it taught me was that you really don’t need what you think you need to do great things. You may think to be really good at math or that you have to have the best calculator money can buy, or before you decide to eat correctly and exercise more you go buy books and exercise equipment, and health videos, etc. I know I personally have done both those things.
I found myself trying to tie this advice into my life, and decided that the word “Excess” fit appropriately. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, “Excess” is defined as “The state or an instance of surpassing usual, proper, or specified limits.” This brings up all kinds of ideas of what is “proper” or “specified limits.” I have the internal struggle though, who am I to tell other people what they are doing wrong with their amount of excess? I mean, I have all sorts of unnecessary things in my life, electronics, alcohol, dining, personal indulgences, etc. Even while writing this post I found examples of things I currently do that I need to reign in the excess. I think the best way to illustrate my point is to give some concrete examples, and try to explain where I think the logic is flawed (from my perspective of course).

Costco

This is a hot example, because most people get offended when I talk shit about Costco. Growing up we shopped there quite a bit (Price Club back then), and I always was amazed by the aisles of large quantities of things, and of course the samples. What would anyone want to do with a mega pack of dish soap, or bathroom tissue, or 10lb brick of cheese, etc? I mean, I do dishes just like the next guy (probably not as often), eat cheese, use bathroom tissue. Granted I just live by myself and only have to take care of myself (and my cat). I still think though, whats the point of buying the excess soap? The bricks of cheese to get ready to freeze? To save a couple of pennies? I totally understand the urge to be frugal and spend money wisely, but I think that sometimes its unnecessary, and the costs to society and your own well-being outweigh the benefits to your pocket-book.
Now to be clear, I’m not talking about buying local, or organic, or any number of other issues, even though I agree with some of these, but that’s not the point. The point is that sometimes it is healthy to want, and not receive. I believe this gives you some discipline that you wouldn’t have otherwise. In our society, discipline is hard to come by, we get everything we want if we have the means to get it (most of middle class does). If we get everything we want then where are the surprises? Where is the discipline. All I’m trying to say here is that certain things are unnecessary. I’ll leave the decision on what that is in your life up to you. For me, I could drink less beer, I could use less electricity, I could get rid of about half my wardrobe, and I could get rid of most of my gadgets.

Food

The thought of eating till I need to unbutton that top one (I know you know what I’m talking about), really got me thinking (as I was unbuttoning my top button). Why was I doing this? What is the purpose of this excess? Does eating till I explode really benefit me? To answer them, I drew from some advice from my doctor. About a year ago I asked him what the most effective way to lose weight and become healthy was, he told me (to no big surprise), diet and exercise. My initial thought were something along the lines of “Hey thanks asshole, I just want an easy solution.” So further pursuing the question with him I asked, “Well, what is the best diet,” and I was prepared for the worst (he’s a vegan after all) but all he said was that we as a society have forgotten what it is like to be hungry. I didn’t really think about this much until I found similar advice given by a running coach in the book Born to Run. His advice to people looking to train and get fit, “Eat like a poor person.” Now this really got me thinking, we live in one of the wealthiest nations, and we can feed our faces with such ease, that we have forgotten what it is like to be hungry. Like I said before, we have access to Costco, Wal-Mart, Amazon, just to name a few.
What will eating like a poor person do? Will it cause you to start buying more soda and less milk? Will it cause you to eat more processed foods and less healthier more expensive foods? Probably, but the point is not what your eating, its how much your eating. Stretching your meals out, eating slower, and not taking seconds in favor of eating leftovers another day are all ways to save money without eating less expensive and generally crappier food. Food should be a fully immersive experience whether you are at a restaurant, or just home cooking a meal with the ones you love. Taking your time will make you pause and take all this into account. “Eat like a poor person,” and “Sometimes I just need to be hungry,” seems like sound advice to me and I’m going to try to integrate these into my life.

Conclusions

All in all consuming less, eating less, and eliminating excess seems like sound advice to me. If you stuck with me till here then we’ve only broken the ice, I want to hear what YOU think. Am I totally off base about excess? Are there times in life where we can benefit from excess? Surely there are counter examples to what I’ve talked about, consider a Titanic with 20% more lifeboats than necessary. Obviously that kind of excess would indeed be a good thing, so now that I’ve got the low hanging fruit, it will be up to readers of this post to let me know how much shit I’m full of. Until then, enjoy eating less, consuming less, and trying to reduce your overall impact.
Like I said in the beginning, my last topic is my current life situation for those interested. I’m currently very happy with my new work, doing things that I feel make a difference has really re-ignited my passion that I found while still attending school last year. Working with people who have shared interests, and similar world views has been huge as well. I love where I’m at, love the people there, and most of all have the excitement I felt while still attending school and cracking that hard to solve homework puzzle. Boise has been beautiful, and my recent bout with almost leaving really made me reflect on what Boise has to offer. Not only does it contain some of my favorite people in the world, the weather is awesome, the city is clean, and the taps are always full. What is my next life goal? Who knows, maybe becoming a better person, trying to run more certainly, spending times with friends/family. These are all worthy goals, and I can’t wait for what the beautiful Spring and Summer will be like. I’ll hopefully be blogging more often, now that I have a sort of direction I want to take this blog. Stay tuned.

Ohhh Radiation

The quickest way to piss someone off…
Take away their ability to eat
Five lbs lost last week and dropping, doc says if I lose anymore its gonna be a bigger issue.
Let them drop, let all the lbs drop like the leaves from a tree I say. I can’t get any lighter than my first sick weight (145 lbs). But at this rate I’ll be there by the week after next. Yogurt, Instant Breakfast, and Smoothies only go so far.

Thoughtful

As I sit here before work on this beautiful Easter Sunday morning, I’m updating my current bills for my treatment and I’m drawn to this number at the bottom of the spreadsheet we update. And the total billed for my 5 months of treatment is:

$101,000

What can this get you? Well here are a few things… After one more Radiation Treatment I could have one of these

These things are just material possessions and you can’t really put a price on the gift of life……blah blah blah 🙂

But instead of all these cool things I get this and this. Oh well complaining gets nobody…nowhere.

Cheers, and Happy Easter!

Workplace Revival

Found this while browsing today. We are always talking about this very subject at work so I thought I would provide a little professional insight to the topic. I have no doubt my opinion is irrelevant but nonetheless…the article is interesting.
Pulled from CNET.com news.

Here’s some good news that you should forward to your boss. A study conducted in Australia found that people who engage in “Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing” (WILB) are more productive than those who don’t. Workers who “surf the Internet for fun at work–within a reasonable limit of less than 20 percent of their total time in the office–are more productive by about 9 percent,” according to the study’s author, Professor Brent Coker, from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Management and Marketing.
Professor Brent Coker
(Credit: University of Melbourne)
The reason that “WILB” increases productivity, he said, is that “people need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration. Think back to when you were in class listening to a lecture–after about 20 minutes your concentration probably went right down, yet after a break your concentration was restored.”
A short break, such as surfing the Internet, “enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a day’s work, and as a result, increased productivity.”
But this doesn’t apply to everyone. Approximately 14 percent of the sample showed signs of Internet addiction and, for them, Web surfing can decrease productivity. The more they surfed at work, the less productive they were. The reason for this, he said, “is because of an ‘urge’ to search the Internet. “Those that aren’t addicted, don’t have this urge and they surf the Internet as a reward.”
The study found that 70% of the 300 workers surveyed engage in “WILB.” The report was released in Melbourne on April 2nd when it was still April 1st in the United States. In an email, Dr. Coker assured me that it’s not an April fools joke.
I’m not sure whether the result of this Australian study applies to workers in the U.S. and other countries, but I for one have a vested interest in believing what he says. If nothing else, it’s a great excuse, especially if your boss is giving you a hard time for “WILB.”

Food for thought at least, also only 15 more radiations left!!!!

Friday

Another Friday night, contemplating some more LaTex fun. But just had a big math test today so I’ll probably take a night off.
I’ve been thinking a lot about math today and lately, and I really have been growing an affinity for it. Not in the sense that I’m very good at it, but in the sense that mathematics when viewed in the right light is really a beautiful and pure thing. Not many things in this world are fortunate to be as logical. I struggle in math class everyday, and anyone who thinks that math ever gets easy … well they are just kidding themselves.
As I was losing hope today about my mathematical education, and browsing through some old teachers web pages, I came across a certain article written by my previous Calculus 2 teacher (Dr. Harlander). He captures exactly what it is like to be a student of mathematics, a “constant confrontation of ones own limits.”
His paper gave me a sort of new perspective on my education. I, more than most people, get caught up with the deadlines of certain activities. This loss of focus seems to make the learning process more difficult, so from now on I will be focusing on the process of learning, not just the end result
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