When I was younger, I didn’t like sports. However, over time, my opinion changed from outright dislike to grudging acceptance of sports, to genuine enthusiasm for sports of all kind. I don’t usually go out of my way to watch it if it’s on TV, but I do like going to live games. Actually, much of my enjoyment of sports are due to reasons tangential to the sport itself.

Watching games in person is my favorite aspect of sportswatching. I enjoy the community surrounding sports – when fans start chanting or cheering , I like to join in and chant along with them. I feel as if I’m part of the community as well, despite being team-agnostic. I live vicariously through surrounding fans; when they get nervous due a tight play, I’ll pick up on some of that through osmosis. Attending a sports event in this fashion can be an emotional rollercoaster.

Ironically enough, now that I’m getting more into sports, it seems as if they’re declining in popularity in mainstream America. ESPN, the biggest network for sports in America, is losing subscribers hand over fist. Football in particular seems to be having problems with long term viewership – with more general awareness of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, it seems like parents are less willing to let their kids play football, which will lead to a smaller player base for the NFL. The CTE issue also seems to be turning people off of football. It can be pretty hard to stomach the details of the consequences of high impact sports and the long term complications that arise. I don’t know what the future holds for contact sports, but I’m going to continue watching them.


On The Benefits of Blogging: Total Recall

One benefit of blogging that I’m looking forward to is improved memory recall. While I don’t know if my overall memory will be improved, I will be able to better recall the memories that I’ve written in blog posts, because I’ve spent time wiring them deeper in my brain by examining them in further detail. I had a friend who would write about the food he ate in restaurants to serve the same purpose. I think it’d be especially useful in recalling experiences like taste, visual memory, and so forth – because you’ve linked the writing with the sense, reading what you wrote would probably help you recall the memory with more vivid details – you’d recall the texture, the fragrance, etc. Apparently, writing down your thoughts on the food also gets you better service, because the workers think you’re either

A) A food critic


B) A food blogger, which is basically a food critic who doesn’t get paid by a company to write reviews.

I’d also do something similar with food, but instead of writing down my thoughts, I took pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? It definitely helped me recall things about the food and the memories associated with them, but I think writing about it would’ve imprinted it more deeply in my mind. If I were blogging about food, I’d do both, which would be even better. Too bad this isn’t a food blog, huh?




My First Setback!

I broke my posting streak – I think it’s been two days since I wrote my last blog post.  I’m actually writing this blog post at 2:00AM. I had plenty of opportunity to write up my blog post for the previous day, but I kept putting it off because I figured I had plenty of time to do it later. That’s an important takeaway from this – don’t put things off unless I have a good reason. In this case, I had the opposite of a good reason: I just wanted to procrastinate. I don’t feel too bad about skipping out, but one issue I had is still bothering me – I’m having writer’s block. I only wrote up this post now because I had an idea of what to write, however flimsy. But I’m currently stuck. I did actually have a good idea to write up skeleton posts with vague guidelines of what to talk about whenever I came across an interesting thought. I’ve built up a pipeline of about 4-5 back up blog posts. However, I didn’t really feel like expounding on them, because there’s only about two unique themes, with the rest of the posts being variations on that theme. This kind of obviated the purpose of having back up posts – what’s the point of having a backup plan when I never use it? However, thinking more long term,  I’m hoping to build up a big enough pipeline that I can always find something I feel like writing about if I can’t think of something to write about that day. I find this post adequate. I guess not posting worked out in my favor after all.


On the Benefits of Blogging: Self Reflection

I’ve skimmed through the expected benefits of daily blogging, but I haven’t gone too in depth on what I’ll gain from it. After all, there’s very little reason to do something without expecting something out of it – whether it be self satisfaction from exploring hobbies, or physical improvement from exercise, and so forth. This entry will focus on one aspect – self reflection. I leave the option to follow up on this theme if I want to discuss other benefits.

On my list of personal values, self reflection rates pretty highly. In reality, I practice it rarely. In this regard, it’s similar to diet and exercise: while I feel maintaining my physical health should be a high priority, I frequently prioritize other things like work or convenience. While the physical health issue is still a work in progress, I’m trying to work on the issue of self reflection by keeping up my daily blog.

Self reflection is important to me because it’s crucial to personal growth. If I want to grow, I have to work on my issues, but if I never take the time to reflect and figure out what issues actually I’m having, I’ll never fix them. Looking back at my high school and college years, I notice I spent a lot of time on self reflection. In high school, I would occasionally walk back home after classes ended – at roughly 5-6 miles, this was about two hours of walking. Because it took so long to get home, my mind would wander and I could ruminate on whatever happened to come up. In college, I took the train to school. I would often walk from the train station to school. At about 1.5 miles, it’d take me 30 minutes or so. Not as long as in high school, but because the frequency was higher, it wasn’t so bad. However, nowadays, I take the bus to work. It already takes about an hour by bus; the time it would take to walk to work would be completely untenable.  The takeaways:

  • Walking is a great outlet for self reflection.
  • Habits are easier to build when you can tack them onto mandatory parts of your schedule

I still think long walks are great, but it’s not something I can build into my schedule anymore. Blogging is a great substitute, though, since I can do a write up from anywhere I have access to a phone, computer, or pen and paper. The one problem with blogging is that it doesn’t have that immediate need built in like walking – if I didn’t walk to school, I would miss class. If I don’t blog, nothing bad happens. This is where those flywheel inputs I talked about previously will theoretically kick in.

I originally thought I was going to write about the benefits of self reflection, but I kinda meandered onto a tangential topic. Such is life.


The Theory Behind the Flywheel

As mentioned in my about page, I’m trying to build a virtuous cycle of constant improvement by writing a blog entry a day. Some of the benefits I hope to gain:

  • Improved vocabulary
  • Better at conveying my thoughts through text
  • A minimum amount of time every day for self reflection

There are two immediate motivators I have in mind to sustain the flywheel:

  • The first motivator I have in mind is building a positive association with short term rewards. I’ve committed myself to writing up a blog post once a day. I have no other criteria – length or content doesn’t matter. I’ve removed all blockers in the way of me actually following through. Assuming I actually do it every day, I get that feeling of satisfaction of knowing that I delivered on my goal. Over time, this feeling of success will theoretically compound to the point where I will actually look forward to writing a blog entry every day.
  • This is tightly coupled with the first motivator, but separate. By writing a blog a day,  (Though not necessarily posting them, or I would’ve already failed my task, since I missed Sunday – If I keep moving the goalposts, then I’ll always kick the field goal.) I’m hoping to build a streak. Theoretically, this will also compound over time, because breaking a two year streak is much more meaningful than breaking a five day streak. The longer I can keep it going, the more I’ll feel compelled to keep writing.

There are also some things I’m trying to keep in mind as I do this:

  • Despite what I said above, I’m not going to self flagellate if I miss a day. That can lead a vicious cycle where I’ll criticize myself for missing a day, and then the next time I miss a day, I’m more inclined to put off blogging again, because I’ve built up a negative association with blogging. If this were a third party and I had to bring up some criticism to them, I wouldn’t want to come across as if I were attacking them. A common approach to bringing up criticism is first complimenting them on their strengths, and then bring up the issues you have. I’m essentially framing the discussion of criticism in the same way to myself. It might seem meaningless to do it, since I know I’m doing it, but my subconscious doesn’t give a shit what I think.
  • Keep this as low stakes as possible. I’m not writing for anyone expect myself. Sometimes, I might be inclined to put in more effort, while other times I’m going to phone it in. That’s fine. I’m not going to try to set a certain bar for my work – I’m more concerned with consistency at the moment. I don’t want to feel obligated to make a great post and then end up not doing it.

Anyways, I think flywheel is a dumb name, but I do think the principle is sound.

Movie Reviews

Placeholder for Planet of the Apes review

I was supposed to post my review for Planet of the Apes yesterday, but the scope of the article kinda grew way beyond what I was expecting, so it’s going to be delayed until I deem it ready. I’m still counting this post for Sunday, because I definitely wrote something – it’s just going to take a while. I’ll update this post with the review when it’s finished.

***Dec 19 2016***

My enthusiasm to do a long form exegesis on Planet of the Apes has waned pretty significantly. I don’t want to put it off forever thinking that I’ll get to it eventually, so here’s the most recent draft with light editing.

I’m a huge fan of Planet of the Apes. It’s heralded as a classic of science fiction, and for good reason. Having just rewatched it, I think it’s safe to say that it holds up well. In fact, the main theme is still pretty resonant today.

In general, developed countries are moving away from religion. This is especially noticeable in more metropolitan areas like San Francisco. People aren’t usually shunned for their religion, but it’s not the pillar that holds up the community like it would be in other places.

Planet of the Apes takes a different tack:

It sets up a backwards society that accepts some scientific progress, but only within the limited confines of what their religion deems acceptable. *Insert evolution/climate change commentary here.* Charlton Heston plays the devil’s advocate – learning new things is, in fact, good. Denying reality and outlawing it because it disagrees with your beliefs is bad. Then the ending turns everything on its head.

Even though the ending has long been spoiled, it still works as an effective punch to the gut – despite the draconian rules of the new society, it turns out to be a reaction to the mistakes of the previous one – uninhibited scientific progress without a moral compass. The leadership of ape society has long known the history of humanity, and it’s grim: mankind wiped out its own civilization, likely by atomic warfare. It’s a hell of a sucker punch: the movie spends a large part of its running time having Charlton Heston point out all the flaws in an oppressive theocracy, only to find out that the alternative is no society, because humans fucked it up. We’re pretty good at doing that.