Wednesday, February 22, 2012

High Notes

My birthday day ended with good things.

I played two games of soccer, as a guest.

I was told by someone I played with, a pretty good player, that he'd rather play with me than against me.

A thirty year old woman I know pulled her husband over, and pointed at me, saying there, see, that's what 45 looks like.

People were glad to see me.

I was glad to be with people.

Now you know why I still live here despite the weather and the work.

Happy Birthday.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ending on the High Note

It's not the experience, it's how you remember it.

Apparently we are creatures that are affected more by our memories than the actual events.  Our memories are focused on the peak of any given experience, and the end of that experience. 

The examples are clinical, from the book I've been reading.

Volunteers put their hands in painfully cold water for 60 seconds, and 90 seconds.  The first 60 seconds of the 90 second version were the same, temperature-wise, as the 60 second version.  The last 30 seconds were one degree warmer, and so ended with a less painful state.  When the volunteers were asked which experience they preferred to repeat for the third trial, they said the 90 second version.

Similar results were found for painful surgical procedures - what mattered was the average between the peak of the experience, and the level when the experience ended.

It's not logical, but we aren't logical.  We have a pretty good, but flawed, way of making decisions.  We have a pretty good, but flawed, way to record a lifetime of more experiences than we can actually record in detail.

So... the most successful vacation has enough time to allow one to relax, a strong high point, and a good ending.  And the photos to bring the memory back up again.

The most desirable lifetime is one that has no major stress, some high points, and a good ending.

Which makes one's desire to plan for one's golden years quite understandable.  It's not who we are dating right now, it's who we'll be with when our life is over, and what the overall narrative of our life was. 

What path will give us the memories that prove we had a good life, and few regrets?

And does this mean that it's better to have many short term relationships as long as they end well?

I don't know... I'm still trying to figure out how to use this knowledge to overcome the flaws in my decisions, find happiness, and give my story a Hollywood ending.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reading Psychology

The problem with understanding more about how the human mind works, the inherent biases, the ease with which falsities are assumed to be true... the harder it is to have hope that we can do the right thing and have positive outcomes.

Fortunately, I have a human mind, so I can believe that there is hope anyway.

Here's to obliviousness.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happiness is...

A good woman, a playful dog, a park on a summer day...


Being satisfied with what you have, not desiring unnecessarily.

How does one balance that with a goal of not missing opportunities for a lack of effort?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spare, Change

It's amazing how fast the body can be modified.

In one month abroad, I lost ten pounds, most of it fat, some of it muscle.

In the month since I returned, I've gained back seven, most of it fat, some of it muscle.

You would think that I might be able to exercise some control in the process, but perhaps a lot of who you are is where you are, and what you spend most of your time doing.

Friday, February 3, 2012


On my way back from the coast last month, I was stunned when both my tripmates were attractive, friendly women.

The first hop was shared with a woman from Japan who had married a Canadian man, in the country for an annual ski trip.  We had both been on the same brutally long transoceanic trip, and had a great conversation about family and culture.

The second hop was with a woman originally from my city, currently working on the coast in the environmental regulation field.  She was an interesting mixture of Dutch and Filipino heritage.  Our conversation was once again great, and amazingly I stayed awake through it all.  I even boldly offered her my phone number as we got up to leave the place, despite my stinky, dishevelled state.

At the bar.  There's still room for a book, and wings.

In our conversation, she mentioned a movie that I now forget the name of, and a book, "The Value of Nothing", which I've been reading this week as part of my "go to a bar, have some water and wings, and read a book" series.  (It's just like going out and being social, without all the awkward "I have friends" part.  Maybe I still have a way to go.)

Although I see a few minor errors in it, overall it presents some very interesting and inspiring ideas, not the least of which is to question the true meaning of the words "democracy" and "value".  The author talks about situations where struggles for justice have been completely misreported to us in the West (Somali pirates being a reaction to toxic waste dumping), and where those struggles against the more heartless forms of capitalism have met with some success (such as the women's farming co-ops in India, and the peaceful revolutionaries in Mexico).

My son is constantly concerned about this world, and apparently the state of it depresses him even more than it does me.  He very much wants to find a way to make it a better place.  I've passed the book on to him, and I do hope he finds some of the same things that I found in it.

I love the little things in life that can turn into bigger things. Shallow intentions leading to deep inspirations.

Unexpected outcomes.