Monday, December 24, 2012

Fear Not

This was a entry I meant to post around the Halloween season. I forgot about it until now, so here we are.

As All Hallow's Eve approaches, I feel the need to discuss what is frightening in this world. Now, I am a person who has fears. Really, there is no person who isn't afraid of something. But it seems like I have more unusual fears than most. The typical horror movie formulas of blood, mutilation, and jump scares don't have much of an effect on me. Some bloody scenes may make me sick, and I do get surprised by the occasional jump scare. But I can't really say that they scare me.
Here's a good example. A few nights ago at a party, some friends on mine were playing a game called Slender: The Eight Pages. I will not comment on the game play since I really didn't get what was going on. Most of my friends were having fun, but I didn't get what was so scary.
I think the problem is that if I know something is fake, like a video game or a movie, I don't let myself get into it. I remember going to a haunted house attraction once and was so unimpressed with it, that the staff began to avoid me to scare others behind me.
But that's not to say that I don't find all horror fiction banal. I recently was watching a let's play of a game called the Witch's House. This game seemed scary, not because of the jump scare near the end, but rather because it plays on the mind of it's participant. Being forced to do something disturbing like cutting the limbs off a teddy bear and seeing them them bleed is something that penetrates my mind and let's me forget that I'm in my room watching a video on youtube.
In fact, one of my favorite horror movies of all time is a Japanese film called Kakurenbo - Hide and Seek. The story focuses on a group of children who go to a forbidden city to play a game and are pursued by a gang of demons. But what I find most frightening of all is the ending. After being chased down and captured by the demons, the head demon gives the last survivor his prize: He now is turned into a demon and forced to hunt the future participants of the game. To most, I assume this is a weak twist. But this horrifies me far more than creepy ghouls or heartless serial killers.
Maybe it also has to do with the idea of stupidity. Or rather, the idea that in most horror movies, the survivors victims all behave in an idiotic manner that only guarantees their deaths. When I know I would behave in a much more sensible manner than them, it makes the deaths of these characters more humorous than scary. I've come to understand this is part of the appeal of horror genre, but I personally don't get that appeal. And that seems to be what it all comes down to. I don't get the horror genre.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Top of the Mountain

While reading a book by Lawrence LeShan about meditation, I came across an interesting metaphor. The chapter I was reading was concerned with the trap people fall into when they consider meditation. Superpowers and ethereal visions were discussed. But when discussing this, he mentioned the use of spiritual ecstasy, be it induced by deep thought or powerful drugs, as it pertains to inner development. In this, he said:
Standing high on a mountain will let you see where you want to go. But if you stay on that mountain, you will never get there.

People who know me will tell you I have a strong stance against recreational drugs. This includes not only LSD and marijuana, but also tobacco and alcohol. I have never seen the purpose of using external substances to manipulate the chemistry of you brain. I am taking prescription medication to keep my mind stable, but this is a measure of survival, not leisure. I have negotiated with my doctors to take no more than necessary to keep myself from becoming dangerous. And even then, I long for the day when I need not rely on it.
But that is all irrelevant to this point. If I may dive into this metaphor (which LeShan actually advises against since you fall for another trap of taking it seriously, but we know I'm just being poetic here, right?), you use pleasurable stimulus to take you high into the sky, where the air is crisp and you can see for miles in every direction. You can see the golden deserts, the emerald forests, the clear blue oceans, and everything in between.
Now you can pick a spot and say "I want to go there". But here comes the difficult part. Now you must leave the mountain. For the sake of time, let's say you want to go to the heart of the forest, where you spied deer and other creatures living in grove of trees. But not only must you travel for miles and miles, but you must also deal with the obstetrical of travel. The outlying areas of the forests are full of sticky air laced with pestering gnats. You may get lost among the trees and find yourself in a swamp choked with methane. And even if you get to your destination, you may find all the woodland creatures have long since abandoned this clearing.
At any point, you may feel the need to return to the mountain. You feel the need to indulge in the pleasure that made you first able to see what makes you stimulated. The problem is that not only must you force yourself down again, but you are back where you started. However far you got has been made meaningless since you need to go that far again. Maybe you can pick somewhere else to go, but the desert and ocean are filled with just as many pitfalls.
While I often find myself longing for the pleasure of the mountain top, I also feel the need to avoid it. Not only do I feel a warrior should know better than to take shortcuts that will just make your journey longer, but I also think a warrior would enjoy the pleasure of those pitfalls if he didn't know they were there. I fully agree with Nitcheze that "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", but I would go farther and say it also makes you happier.
As part of a deal I made with myself to not be judgmental  I will not command people to cease the use of recreational drugs or similar stimulus. But I will advise them to leave the mountain and see what the rest of the world is like. I'd also like to point out that being high, in any sense of the word, does not make you more worldly than someone from below. In fact, that mountain top is the farthest place from the world you can be.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Losing Focus

I knew this would happen eventually, because if nothing else, it has happened every other time I've tried to start a blog with this intention. I got lost. It's been almost two months since my last posting here, and many of my recent postings have been off the topic I wanted to approach with this blog.
For once, I can trace this back to a reason of sorts. I recently became employed with a full time job. That accounts for the last two weeks anyway. But mostly, it's the same thing that keeps me from getting in touch with the people I care about. I don't want to bother them with the problems in my life. I have always had this idea that I am not important in people's lives, and that if something important happens, they will contact me. This is flawed reasoning and I know it, but psychological convictions are difficult to overcome.
So mostly, I haven't been posting because I don't feel like bothering the internet with my troubles. Of course, it's not like anyone reads this anyway. But that's okay, this blog is mostly for myself as opposed to someone else. But that's for later. Right now, I need to get back on track. I need to post on this blog more often and I need to do things that make it possible to post on this blog more often.
The original purpose of this blog was to chronicle my journey to becoming a warrior. And as I said, many of my posts here have been on unrelated subjects. So I need to regain focus. It's not like I ever gave up on this dream. It's more like I lost momentum and couldn't get back up. And as a warrior, this is unacceptable. I need to keep my fires burning. I need to keep moving. In the last month of time, I've barely even gone for walks.
So, while I should make it a point to continue after making some progress, I am starting this as a new beginning. From here on, I am refocusing my energies to my pursuit in the warrior arts. As I write this, I am preparing to go out and exercise. I will now focus on that and try to maintain momentum. This is what a warrior would do, so that's what I will do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Disagree to Agree

These are the times when I start to realize that my father and I have been living under the same roof for too long. Not 15 minutes ago, my father and I had one of our (for lack of a better term) spirited debates. Under normal circumstances, this would be great. I love debating with people and have debated, with myself, about starting a debate club. Hell, it's what I do 75% of the time with my friends anyway. The problem is that my father tends to get angry if someone doesn't agree with him all the way. And when he gets angry, he gets agitated, belligerent, and starts putting words in his opponents mouths, denying he's doing so the whole time.

Before I go any further, if you are reading this and assuming my father is a gruff individual, I'd ask you to remember that you are only hearing my account of what is going on, and that you try not to form opinions about someone based solely on the account of someone who is in disagreement with him. I do not pretend to know exactly what my father thinks, and if I give you that impression, please take it with a grain of salt. I ask you give him the same courtesy. Let's continue.

The argument, this time, was on the issue of gun control. Just for grounding purposes, these arguments in the past have been about religious tolerance, women's rights, and the pursuit of peace and prosperity. What I often find disturbing is that we agree on most issues. But it seems like when I disagree with my father on one or two points, he assumes I'm in favor of the opposite extreme. Here's an example. The argument centered around the control of assault rifles and weapons of mass death. My father's solution was to aggressively ban the possession, sale, and manufacturing of these weapons. My argument was to limit these weapons, possibly to use within gun clubs and other specific arenas where people could get their gun fix without harming people while increasing education and awareness to help ease back the oppressive gun culture we have in the country. I also argued that an aggressive ban would create a thriving black market and would have other adverse side effects that carried the possibly of making the problem worse.

However, although I feel like I stated my position clearly, provided clear analogs, examples, and philosophical guidelines, my father seemed convinced that I was, and I'm quote my father to the best of my memory:
Throwing up my hands and giving up on the problem. I wanted the wild west and had no sympathy for the victims of these tragedies that have blighted our country in recent months.
I'm fairly confident that I did not say that in any way. Perhaps part of the problem is my speech patterns. I like to play devil's advocate, often pointing out (but not agreeing with) the beliefs of the opposing side. So I'll often start my statements with something like:
It's true that the political climate in this country is one of gun crazies. People love guns and will do almost anything to defend them. But I feel this is a problem that can be solved and should be given the utmost attention by educators and people who have the power to change people's minds.
If you have noticed, some of the text is colored red. Where the red text starts is usually where I get cut off by my father, who will begin to say that my statement up until that point is one agreeing with the people I don't agree with. By the time I get around to completing my statement, my father has already seemed to latch on to the idea that I am disagreeing with him, even though I am agreeing with him for the most part.

But perhaps the worst part is that my father seems to have a hard time letting it go. When it has become clear that we cannot make any headway in reaching an amiable solution, I'm ready to declare the age old "Agree to disagree" and walk away before things get too heated. But not only is my father not willing to let me walk away, but when I finally do, he will sometimes track me down and reinstate the argument. To be frank, I'm beginning to get tired of this. But it's within my nature to try and hold friendly debates. Or at least debates more friendly than this. I need to get a job and move out before we start going for each other's throats. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

All By Myself

As July comes to a close, I find myself once again in my house all alone. My parents who would normally be running the day to day operations of this household are vacation for the third time this month. I don't really hold this against them in any way, but it does seem to be causing some problems.
What I find most odd is that when my parents are around the house, I'm often trying to find opportunities to be alone so I can do things without having them question me about it. If there's one thing I fear, it's having to explain myself because I often don't have a good answer. And yet, with my parents gone, I find myself unable to do anything. I end up spend a lot of time just lying around the house.
A part of the problem is that with my parents gone, I feel overly responsible for the household. While I know I'm just being paranoid, I can never shake the feeling that some disaster will occur and I will be held responsible for it. This is especially pointless when you consider that my parents probably wouldn't hold me responsible for a break in, or a fire, or any of the improbable disasters I know won't happen but can't stop thinking about.
As a result of this paranoia, I feel tied down to the house. Like I can't go too far before I need to go back. Taking care of the family cat also plays at my mind, and so many other things out there. I'm pretty sure that when I get my own place, I'm going to make sure that it's an apartment with low maintenance requirements. No lawn to mow, now pets to care for (for a while anyway), and minimal cleaning. Again, I'm just being overly sensitive, and I know this. But until my parents get back, I'm not sure if I can be comfortable in my own house. At the very least, I can count on my cat not waking me up at odd hours in the night.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Patience in Practice


About four months ago, I collected some maple seeds that were falling from a tree in my yard. With the aim to make them into a bonsai, I soaked, stratified, and three months later sowed them. I started with 10 seeds, of which, 3 made it past the soaking stage. Of them, only one germinated to full maturity.


These pictures were taken roughly one week ago. Since then, I've replaced the soil and found that one more seedling has sprouted. All in all, it seems to be going well. The stalk is getting big and leaves are starting to get green.


Now, I've tried to grow bonsais before. Usually, they die after a while. Even though it's only been a week, this is farther than I usually get. Many times, I find myself going into my porch to stare at the progress my bonsai has been making. What I have to remember is that growing a bonsai is supposed to be an exercise in patience. Most of the bonsais you see in catalogs and websites are at least a year old.
I was a bit nervous about writing this article since when I pay attention to my bonsais, it tends to jinx them. But I'm giving this bonsai more attention than usual, so I'm hoping it will not be the case.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Making Progress

About 10 minutes ago, I finished a somewhat exhaustive exercise routine. For a while now, I've been trying to keep a daily routine of running in the morning, walking at noon, and running again in the afternoon. For running, I warm up with a half mile walk, then running for 10 minutes around my neighborhood block, then cool down by walking the rest of the way. For walking, I've found that two laps around my block adds up to roughly 2.5 miles. So I've been trying to do this every day.
What makes today so amazing is that I got my morning run in and then went right to my walk. I tried to do another run, but was too wiped out to get very far. Furthermore, I've been steadily getting faster in my running. It took me a while to get up to 10 minutes in the first place, and then I was able to run for .6 miles. But today, I got .8 miles in 10 minutes, which seems like a huge improvement. the trick obviously is to keep at it and do it every day. Tomorrow, I'll try to get all three routines in on one stride.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Serious Push Ups

Lately, inspired to do things properly, I've started to use a new form for push ups. I've been trying to do at least 40 push ups a day. Not all at once mind you; I'm still pretty weak. When I did these push ups, I was pretty sloppy. My feet would slide back to make my hands come above my head. I've since learned this is an ineffective way to do push ups. Not based on any research I've done, but rather on what I'm doing now.
Now, I've worked out a system to ensure I'm doing proper push ups. I start by standing straight up. I slide one foot back until my knuckles come to the floor by by other foot. I then slide my other foot back with the other one and now my hands are inline with my shoulders, or even behind them. Finally, I push up and down on my knuckles, since using my palms tend to hurt my wrists. I know this is a much better way to do push ups since before, doing 10 push ups in one set was fairly difficult. But doing it this way, I'm lucky if I can break 8 in a single sitting.
Doing it this way has certain disadvantages. For starters, getting 40 push ups a day is much more difficult. In fact, I haven't been able to break 20 since I began doing it this way last week. But the fact that it's more difficult means I'm getting more benefits out of it. So I'll keep at it, and keep trying to do more. That's about all I can do at this point.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

For the past several days, I've been in a very crippling state of depression. I attribute this mainly to the fact that I am a recent graduate with no job prospects. I was being driven insane by boredom. I was trying to occupy my time with projects; all the things I thought I wanted to do, but never seemed to have the time to accomplish. I now realize the fallacy in that thinking, as I now have free time in abundance, but have no motivation to do anything. This depression was taking it's toll on me. I was neglecting my exercise and sleeping too much. And all this just seemed to deepen the sadness I was feeling.
But then I woke up this morning, and I seemed much better. I feel brighter and happier. I went out for a jog this morning, and I felt great doing it. I'm not sure exactly what changed to make me feel so much better. It could be that at the moment I have my resume being circulated among various HR people. It could be that the weather isn't as rainy as it was in the past few days. Or it could just be that my bi-polar disorder is cycling and I'm heading into a manic phase. If the latter is true, then I should probably be careful with my actions. I tend to be worse manic than depressed. Whatever the case, I'm just glad that for now, I'm in a much better state.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Going With (Or Against) The Flow

The tide of public opinion can be an odd thing at times. Take James Hellwig, better known to professional wrestling fans as The Ultimate Warrior. I am not a professional wrestling fan (any more), so my introduction to him was through the web company Channel Awesome and the That Guy With The Glasses Website. On that site, they were mainly poking fun at the Ultimate Warrior's venture into comic creation and how his mannerisms and speaking habits were extremely unusual. And I gather that many people agree with them.
However, I find his ways near inspiring. I'm not sure if the people of Channel Awesome were just making jokes or if they didn't get the metaphors and symbolism, but most of the Warrior's writing made sense to me. I've been meaning to find a copy of the actual comic if only so I can further analysis the writing.
Until then, I take comfort in knowing that the Ultimate Warrior is still around. I understand he is now a chiropractor (how ironic), but also posts a series of videos on Youtube. Once again, I find most of what he has to say inspiring. I find myself agreeing with him on the value of discipline and taking yourself seriously. In fact, I have set it up so that my three alarms (I have trouble getting up in the morning) will play sound clips from the Warrior's sermons. So far, they've proven very effective.


Friday, May 11, 2012

When The Fires Die Out, Our Work Will Begin

The above phrase is something that has been floating around my skull for some time now. It still applies well to what is happening now though. Earlier today, I finished the final in my last class. As in the last class in my college career. Provided I passed everything, I can now focus on finding a job and getting on with my life. Due to certain circumstances, I have been going to school part time, so it has taken me almost 8 years to finish college. Of course, I still need to pass all my courses.
But when that proves to be true, I will have a great deal of time on my hands. I should dedicate much of that time looking for a job, and I will. But it also means I now have free days to accomplished many of the things I didn't seem to have time for before. For the longest time, I've been having classes in the late evening. To compound the problem, many of the activities I've wanted to take part in are during this time. But this means I no longer have any excuse.
One thing I plan to do as soon as possible is look for some local fencing clubs. I've been meaning to get into this as a sport. I've taken martial arts classes in the past, and these have provided massive benefits to my health. Having a regimented routine tends to give me a sense of purpose and makes me more likely to go through with it. So, come Monday, I plan to head to a nearby fencing club and see if I can join in.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wireless Chains

For many years now, I've had a smart phone. An original Motorola DROID to be exact. The device has served me well for the years I've had it. But lately, I've been having some odd thoughts regarding it. I'm starting to see this phone as a burden. There are two aspects to this argument:
First, the phone is outdated, and it's beginning to slow down. Many times I find myself waiting for it to load, or boot up, or just work the way I want it to. To compound the misery, the phone is poorly designed. When I take a call, it's often hard to use. The phone's interface is right against my face, so I either end up pressing buttons accidentally, or moving the microphone away from my mouth. Though, I admittedly don't get that many calls. And finally, the battery dies very quickly. Replacing the phone, which is an option, will solve this problem for a while. But with the myriad of all the other reasons, that may not be enough to save this.
Second, I'm starting to feel tied down to this phone. We live in an era when being separated from a cell phone is not optional. Still, I often find myself depending on my phone more than what seems normal. Using internet and apps seems to be becoming an addiction of sorts. So I'm looking to server the source of the poison. I'm looking for a phone that would still have some of these features, but with more difficulty to do so.
So I'm contemplating getting a basic flip phone. I have my eye on one, and I'll probably be stopping by the store tomorrow to discuss my options. My primary concern is whether this is a good decision on my part, and by that, I mean whether I really want this. I've made decisions on impulse before, and they don't always work out. In the ideal situation, I'd be able to keep my smart phone, but it's connection would be severed. I would then have both a smart phone and a flip phone to switch between if one proves to be better than the other. I need to get more information. Hopefully from both experts and from friends.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Purpose and Intention

Lately, I've been under a great deal of stress. I am approaching the end of college career, which is compounding the normal stress of having finals and projects. Due to this stress, I've been unable to maintain my training to become a warrior. The lack of this training is starting to have negative effects on my mental status. But it has had the effect of helping me reorganize my priorities. I still value to ideals of the warrior, but I need to do what I'm capable of. I'm going to college to study engineering, and am hoping to go into a career in energy development. Training to become a warrior will still benefit me in my life, but I am not a soldier who's job it is to fight. My life and my work will involve the application of mathematics and physics, and I am well satisfied with that.
Once I pass my exams, graduate from college, and possibly find employment, I will be able to refocus on my warrior training. But until then, I need to focus my attention of what other's need of me. That is what a warrior does.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Politics

I was talking to a friend of mine today about political parties. I will try to summarize it as close to how I can recall.
What I want to form the Stoic Party. This would be a party whose principal is to avoid selfishness. I want to form a party where people will pay their taxes and be productive rather than complain all the time.
My friend was in agreement with me on most points. I'm not asking that people be required to not complain or to avoid selfishness, but people who encourage it should be shunned by society. Admittedly, I'm in the low tax bracket, and I have never had to pay more than $100 in taxes. All other times, I've been receiving a refund. With this in mind, perhaps I don't have much business lecturing people in civil duty. Still, it is clear to me that taxes, which seems to be the primary complaint people have in the United States about their government, are a necessary component of our modern society. People who bring up the libertarian point of view and feel that privatization will solve all our problems I feel are not seeing the whole picture and are merely being greedy about their possessions. I often phrase it as that they want to make two cakes with one bag of flour. But this is a discussion for another day. I will bring this up again.
Ultimately, forming a political party is a goal of mine. I feel this is part of my civic duty by merit that you are commanded to try to make your society better. Though perhaps a political party is going too far at the moment. For the record, I am a liberal, but only because the conservatives in this country are too dishonorable. With that in mind, perhaps I should refocus my aim on forming a political organization. One not so much focused on promoting political ideology, but instead focused on promoting political ethics among both representatives and citizens. In reality, a two party system works fine when the populous is well informed and responsible. That's all I want out of this country and all others. I support many liberal positions, but I'm not asking other people to do so as well. Just take your responsibility as a citizen seriously and be reasonable in your actions. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Do Not Disturb

On my way out of my house this morning, I noticed something. For a while now, I've been seeing a Robin around our front porch. But when I looked where the Robin left, I saw she was building a nest in a shelf on the porch.










Now, I am not one to bother someone who is just trying to live their lives. This is part of the reason I don't even swat mosquitoes anymore. Still, I imagine the Robin would find the in and out of our house to be a bad place to build a nest. For now, we have decided to not tear the nest down. I don't think the Robin would become aggressive and attack us as we leave the door. Also, it might be an interesting photo opportunity to see baby birds being raised. I'll post more as it happens.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What to do on an Off Day

For much today, I've felt a bit off. It's been hard to summon the energy to do the things I want, and I'm constantly stumbling on my progress. For the time being, I'm not sure what to make of this. Most likely, it's the dreary weather we had earlier today. It does tend to effect me more than the average person.With over cast skies and torrential rain pouring down, it is hard to find energy in that.
Still, it's unacceptable. A warrior should be one everyday. It is not fitting at all to be a warrior only in sunny skies. What will I do when my enemies attack in depth of my despair? Does that make my defeat more acceptable? I should be able to summon the discipline to get through something so trivial.
However, this is a problem. At the moment, the sun has come out and things are getting better. But I'm still off for the experience and am still having trouble. I guess since it's still early in my training, it's okay to be hampered by this obstacle for now. But I can't become complacent with it. The adage of "Just do it" isn't enough. There has to be something else that can get me going. I will need to think about this.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Recent Success

With some minor missteps, I have been making good progress lately. I attribute this mainly to a journal I've been keeping. In it, I've been recording such things as my exercises, eating habits, and how I maintain myself as a warrior. This is still a new thing for me. I sometimes forget to record certain important events. Sometimes I don't remember to carry it with me. I'm getting better at it though, and soon I'm sure it will be second nature to me, like my medallion. There are still other things I feel I need to record, but I will worry about those later.
So, for the time being, I've been doing well. I have been running in the morning and remembering to do push ups. In some respects, these remind me of what bad shape I'm in. Jogging a mile in 15 minutes, an average of 4 miles per hour, leaves me exhausted. My lungs are holding up, but my legs have a hard time handling the stress. Doing too many push ups tends to result in my arms becoming hard to move, and too much is barely 40 a day.
Of course, I tend to do things alone. I don't know if these are accomplishments to be proud of for someone in my condition. If I were to socialize with people in a similar situation, maybe I'd have a better understanding. But my desire to do things alone continues, so I may never know. But whether I am alone or in company, whether I'm doing well or if I'm under-performing, the important thing is to keep going. I need to continue these exercises and eating better food. And to this end, I will be recording much more in this journal.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The True Warrior

Above all else, I value the ideals of the warrior. The mythos of the noble hero is something I can never shake from my mind. As such, I am starting this blog to catalog my journey to properly understand what the warrior's philosophy means. I have tried many times in the past to attempt such feats, but they often end with some level of failure. While I cannot guarantee it, I will try to make this attempt more successful. 
It occurs to me that some of this may seem anachronistic; a bygone relic of a more savage time. But I disagree. The stoic ideals of the true warrior is one everyone can benefit from, and would improve the world greatly by it's application. The Warrior ideal is one where people will place the value of others above themselves. This is something that seems all too lacking in our modern world. People seem more concerned with selfish desires for wealth and comfort. No amount of these will make a person happy. Happiness comes from making others happy. The common man cannot appreciate this, but the warrior can. This is because the first thing s a warrior must consider is that he may one day lay down his life for their ideals. This act is ultimately free of selfish desires.
This is a brief summary of my idea of the True Warrior. I will have opportunity to expand on it as time goes on. It is my hope that whoever reads this will be similarly inspired to lay down their life for their ideals. And thus, my journey continues.