Monday, July 26, 2010


I realize it's been a while since I've informed my parents of anything, and since that was the intended original purpose of this blog, I have a few updates for those concerned.

The primary task I've had during the last few weeks, other then minimizing my burden on the Wilson family, was securing a place to stay in Olympia. Over the course of four or five day trips we gathered a list of options, we pruned it down, and ordered them. A bit of aggressive phone work kept me informed about openings, and a bit of fortunate timing lead to us securing the last possible two bedroom apartment at our first choice complex. I actually only manged to get the spot by driving the deposit down that day. While I was driving others came to try and secure the same location. Thus concludes the primary task of these past months, and as of August 20th Kevin and I will be moving into Abalon Pointe.

This brings me back to an all too familiar routine which I know as "laying low." It's an exercise of minimalism designed to conserve funding. It is by nature boring, and its familiarity has only exacerbated that, but it's a necessity, and at least at this point I have a concrete date at which the exercise will end.

Just another twenty five days.

Friday, July 23, 2010


When Ki has been described to me it has always been in large grandiose terms that speak to the magical thinking that tends to go along with it. This has always given it a certain unattainability which seemed to suggest that it wasn't something you should fully try to understand, but rather something you should accept as being mysterious and ill defined, like God or the government or the basic functions of a home computer. There is an idea I have been trying to get at for months now, and in the process I think I may have inadvertently stumbled upon Ki.

This came as a convalescence of thoughts so I have no idea where exactly this starts. I think the foundation of this may have to do with knowing ones self by ones actions. This is an idea of mine that goes back many months. It started as a purely behavioral way of examining myself. As an example I could say I wanted to lose weight all I wanted, but if a behaviorist observed me going to McDonalds every Saturday they would conclude that I was motivated by a desire for McDonalds. They would have no idea about my desire to lose weight. This gives me the first principle of this discussion.

We can measure of ourselves, and come to know ourselves, by examining our actions.

The next principle builds on the one before, but before I give it I need to take a brief detour to resolve the entire debate about free will versus predestination. Since I'm doing this as a detour I'm going to cheat and just assert that ones perceptions define ones reality. If you accept that then I would pose a simple question to you. Have you ever perceived yourself making a choice? We perceive ourselves to be making choices, hence we have the free will to choose because perception defines our reality. This leads me to my second principle.

We have the ability to choose our actions.

If you've been paying attention to the human condition, and I'm going to assume you have, then you know it's not nearly that simple. Lets return to that fast food example from before. It's easy to say that I could just choose not to eat there, but the reality of the situation involves a competition of motivations. I can choose not to eat fast food but it's going to take a certain amount of willpower, and this is where the discussion gets back to Ki.

If you observe and define yourself by your actions, and you believe that you have the ability to control your own actions, then the next logical step is to think that you can redefine yourself by controlling your actions. This makes the mechanisms of control very important. There are many different ways we express this idea of the energy that allows us to take control of our actions. This can be a matter of effort, it can be a matter of willpower, it can be focus, or intent, or meaning, or spirit, or enthusiasm, or dedication. What we are talking about here is the ability to express free will, quantized. What is this quintessence that instills in us the ability to choose, and in choosing adds meaning, personal significance and more often then not quality to our actions? I think it's Ki.

At the very least I'm going to call it Ki. What you call it isn't actually all that important, what is important is the source of it. A great deal of it comes from within ourselves. The rest comes from the world around us, and how we interact with it, which I believe to also be a function of ourselves. If you think that's a bit to obscure of an assertion I would refer you back to my previous statements on perception defining reality. So in this way I would say that the place we occupy in the world is better described as the place we make for ourselves in the world. Making this place is an action, and so we're lead back on a logical route to an idea that I connect to more intuitively then logically, namely that the the world beyond ourselves comes from within ourselves. I'm not sure if this is a quote or not but the phrase that comes to my mind is "I am in all things and all things are in me."

In this idea we have a concept of self which extends to the bounds of ones conceived universe. It flows out from the self into the world around you, defining it by the self, and the world in turn further defines the self. It's a loop of self and world recreating each other, but at this point we don't yet have an active influence on it. This vision of the universe as self is what I'm going to call the Yin form of self. What really interests me though is the Yang form of self. It's the active principle of yang that not only defines, but redefines. When you make a choice, alter your actions, alter your self and hence alter the world the you which is doing that is your Yang aspect. The Yang self is the one that's making those choices.

Now we can't have a discussion about Yin and Yang without having some bullshit about balance and interdependence, and this is where I'm going to tie everything together. Remember Ki? I'm supposed to be writing about Ki. If there's one thing I learned from Aikido it's that the essential lesson of Ki is flow*. When directing Ki in ones body you never say that you're pointing your Ki in a given direction, but rather that Ki is flowing in that direction. It's a moving active thing that moves through us, directed by us, but never starting or ending with us. Ki is the quanta of choice, and the essential connection between the Yin and Yang forms of self. We draw energy from ourselves, and the world we make for ourselves and this gives us the power to redefine and direct ourselves. When you redefine yourself such that you are more in tune with your Ki, or perhaps simply that you are more in tune with Ki, you gain a great ability to control yourself and redefine yourself further. If you want to be the master of your world you need only to sit at the center of this wheel and turn it always in your favor.

The trick, in the end, is going to be knowing what it is about yourself that you need to redefine. I have thoughts on that, but that's going to be something for another time.

*The other thing I learned from Aikido was how to roll when I get knocked over, but I pretty much never get knocked over so that's not nearly as important.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Phasing out

I've been working the last few weeks to phase things out of my diet. It started with caffeinated soda, but the more important one is fast food. As of today, Monday July 12th, 2010, I'm formally abolishing it from my life.

I've made these kinds of proclamations before, and they've met with near universal failure, but my approach this time is much more reasonable. There are certain states and behaviors which lead to the consumption of fast food. There are the ingrained practices, such as stopping for fast food while on a long drive. There are the times when it is the option of last resort. These come in a number of flavors but they basically break down to a situation in which I'm hungry and for whatever reason both cooking and healthier restaurants are not viable options. Breaking the ingrained practices should be relatively easy. The pull there isn't based on any real drive, just force of habit, and I have a few tricks I've cultivated for derailing old habits. The second scenario is the more perilous one, but I have a solution for this too.

Kevin, as a rule, doesn't eat fast food. He gets into the same scenarios, but he's picky about food, so it doesn't happen. His solution is going to be my solution, and while I recognize that the behavior I'm substituting is not strictly healthy, it's a definite improvement, and once I've managed a definitive switch to this new behavior I can take steps towards and even better alternative. Anyway, Kevin's solution is a mimicry of the merits of fast food. It's available at all hours of the day, and easy to prepare. This is why when Kevin is hungry late at night, or while tired, he goes to any one of the grocery stores which are open twenty-four hours, and buys something very simple to make. This is usually something frozen.

Is frozen processed food good for you? No, of course not. But it's better. Financially, and health wise. So while I'm taking steps to improve my diet in other ways, steps which are mostly on hold due to the recurring issue that it costs a lot to feed myself on a diet of vegetables, this is one key step in the process of lifestyle reformation.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Tech Support

I've spent a lot of time today trying to resolve the problem of my thoroughly infected laptop, the result of which is that I've quite nearly bricked the thing. It's important at a time like this to remember that I got it for free, so even if it does die my net loss will be zero.

The story behind this laptop is kind of weird. I got it because a friend apparently had a few laptops extra. He heard that I was a college student who didn't have a laptop, and faster then I could offer my profuse thanks I had a new Dell Latitude, and the Dell backpack which he had gotten with it.

After this the laptop fell into a weird role. I take notes by hand, I prefer it that way, so I didn't actually have a terribly large amount of use for it at school. When I need to access the Internet I would usually use my desktop computer, if I was near it, or my smart-phone. The laptop fell into kind of a gulf, serving occasionally as a workhorse, but over time it became a media tablet. It's main job was to run Media Player Classic and/or iTunes while being highly portable. It did this job well, but when I first started trying to use it as a real computer I ran into the fact that I had left it unprotected too long. A monstrously thick batch of spyware coupled with an old system soon took its toll. Eventually I resolved to just do a full restart, rolling it back to factory defaults, but that was a bit complicated by the devices odd history of ownership.

Being the tech savvy youth that I am I found what I was pretty sure was a way around that, but I've just watched it go from reinstalling XP, to a brief display of "Windows was unable to install System" to watching it blue screen from the windows installer, which is an altogether new idea to me and something akin to the tech support equivalent of a lovecraftian horror.

So this may be the end of this strange little machine. I have a few more things I can try before declaring it a lost cause, but as I've said the laptop never filled a critical role in my life, and once I'm set up in Olympia and my desktop is back online I'm sure I won't really miss it. It's a shame to see it go, but such is life.