On busyness, focus, ideation and realization

Category : Life · (2) Comments · by Jul 18th, 2011

There are so many things going on in my life at this moment.

To enumerate some of them: Group Effect, school, SoJo, this blogpost, energy generating stadium chair design project, a lab report, thermodynamics project, system models project, exam studying, personal writing, soccer, gym, etc.

But really, I’m only writing a blogpost at this current moment. Contradiction.

It’s very often that things overlap in our mind. That when we are supposedly focusing upon a task, several other things come up as well, thus degrading the quality of current focus and taking oneself out of the present. This lack of presence weakens your spirit, ties you to the past and doesn’t allow you to fully experience this journey called life. I think this very much comes back to how we create and fulfill our intentions.

When you have an idea, some type of result you want to create in the world, it’s very important to focus wholly upon it. If your idea is large enough, it will probably manifest itself in several different forms. For myself, ‘helping humanity help itself’ is manifesting through Group Effect, SoJo and popping up in other places. It’s important to keep these fragments connected in the framework of the original intention, lest they become sources of dischord and fragmented focus. Then, you can focus on the specifics while still keeping the larger goal in mind.

Sometimes ideas take time to germinate. It took (I’m checking my clock for some reason) 5 years to get to where I am now with Group Effect. In grade 10, I just didn’t have the means to create an organization, web application and personal maturity needed for this endeavour. Technology took time to catchup (thank you Amazon Web Services, Google Web Toolkit, and the semantic web)!  I’ve created the intention of helping humanity help itself, creating a collaborative story writing application, helping humanity ‘write it’s script’, helping the global south help itself through innovation (link), the reinvention/discovery of who I am, creating a complex simulation of socio-economic-politicol-cultural-milaristic-planetary-actor based-evolving-multi dimensional systems as a fun learning game.

These ideas are in play, whirling around in the universe, finding a way to come to fruition. In fact many are coming to fruition, and not necessarily directly by me! It’s important to create intentions, yes, but each one has they’re time. They need to be created, let go, worked on what’s necessarily and then let go (Courtesy Blackalicious – The Craft).

Lastly, I have the feeling that I’m always consuming stimuli from the world. This may come at the expense of creating what is truly my will. I read an article from The Toronto Star and I start hating on the mayor Rob Ford.

My objectives

  • focus on one task at a time
  • keep the larger framework of focus in mind
  • create great ideas and realize them

So, what will I do differently?

  • Leave the computer off, disconnect from the internet, stop reading email more than twice a day
  • Write rather than read – Write something every night in my notebook or blog
  • Do some 30 day challenges (thanks Malcolm)
  • Spend more time outside

A worthwhile day often concludes with a lesson. I am satisfied.

On the Design of Mind

Category : Life · (2) Comments · by Apr 1st, 2011

The Native American likens the world to a turtle’s back, the Indians have elephant gods and the Norse have swashbuckling deities like Thor. We use the things around us to describe the world. Naturally, when I think about how we think – conceptualize, process and design ideas – my mind likens this to the software and subroutines in a vastly complex computation machine.

I’d like to improve the way I think, to have greater control and focus in my thoughts while expanding the creative unboundaries of the infinite mind. This to me is a worthy goal. We all know how it feels when we are ‘out of our minds’ to a degree. Vegging out in front of an LCD screen is too often a regular occurrence, leaving us feeling, well, brain dead.  We just have too much potential to let this slide. We now have our negative duty (don’t feel brain dead) and our positive goal (unlock the potential of our creatively focused mind).

It’s interesting that in order to create mind software, itself a tool for creating thoughts, we must think about it. That’s the beautiful logic of sentience – circular logic at its best. We have to accept the fact that how we think influences what we think and vice-versa.

There are also massive requirements imposed on our minds. They have to remember many different things (I’m studying for an exam currently, a result of poor mind software the last time I wrote the exam), interface with our bodies, emotions and spiritual selves, and deal with fuzzy and contradictory information (especially in romantic situations). The software also needs to be able to solve some of the hardest problems on Earth like ‘how should I live my life’, ‘what will bring a new world consciousness’, or ‘what’s for lunch’ (steak – a rare treat).

Some things I’ve learned:

It’s a dynamic system (It changes all the time!) – I’m amazed at how unstable…er, dynamic my mind can be. One minute I’m writing this post, the other,. Do you notice the changes from minute to minute? We often don’t recognize these changes, the first step to understanding, redesigning or simply better utilizing them. Longer term changes are notoriously more difficult for humans to comprehend. For this, I’ve been keeping a journal and trying to recognize how I feel each day.

The mind needs exercise – That’s what we’re doing right now, reading and writing. Your task is processing the text, connecting it with your own thoughts and perhaps integrating it into your understanding. My task is to synthesize the information in my head, keeping in mind the nuances of communication and my goals for the post. Now imagine every day you did bicep curls, a single type of exercise. Sure, those guns would be jacked, but even then, what of the triceps, pectorals or deltoids?  Clearly, just reading and writing will not suffice, especially if it is of the same topics. Playing games, engaging in debate and living a varied life will provide a better overall mind workout. Do something new!

It’s highly dependant on the hardware - My mind is pretty lousy when I haven’t worked out for the day, basked in sunlight or gotten up from my desk. Water – so important, as is fruit, tea and light meals made of real whole foods (steak is questionable). Obviously, chocolate bars or liquor probably aren’t going to lead to intellectual success.

Imagine - How often do you sit down and purposefully imagine? I often find myself daydreaming, but that’s different. That’s my mind wandering, playing back experiences that have happened before, nothing new. Purposeful imagining puts you in the drivers seat. It gives you the opportunity to play with possibilities. Check out my post on scriptwriting and designing the future if you’re interested in this.  A cool technique I learned from the Handbook for the New Paradigm (pdf) is to clearly envision a future, then release it, holding it lightly in mind. I’m still experimenting with this and will have to publish my results in the future (I’m envisioning that).

We don’t necessarily need to design mind software – As I’m going through this post, I’m slowly discovering a thesis. We know what things make our minds work better – looking after our bodies, taking time to reflect, exercising the mind. Do those! From there, we’ll have more capacity to see what’s next. Our minds are wonderful beautiful machines. So much potential lurks within them that we have yet to fathom, as individuals and collectively. The abilities are in there, somewhere in the system of complexes, the pathways of possibilities, the clouds of creativity. Like the statue of a head in a block of stone, it’s somewhere in there. I liken us to baby Mozarts – the genius is in there, waiting to be developed. We don’t necessarily need to understand every bit of neuroscience before we can take advantage of it. What it takes is your choice.

Credits: My Zio Nick who has written on this subject, the book New Thinking for the New Millennium,  and a great nerdy article on self improvement.

My question for you is: When it comes to having a more effective mind, what seems to work?

On Dinner Parties

Category : Life · No Comments · by Mar 17th, 2011

Some of the time I find most valuable is that spent with friends or family, in direct conversation, without technological intermediary or distraction. One of the best times to have this is dinner. Dinner parties have the advantage of bringing together friends in what’s often a family activity, or for an away from home student, often a solo affair. It doesn’t require bars or restaurants or nightclub establishments, things that add a certain artificialness to interaction; dinner parties are in a home, made by us, and with a sense of respect and appreciation. So, in the spirit of social rebuilding, yesterday I had a dinner party.

Task:

Create good atmosphere and food enough for 8 people.

Dishes:

Bean Medley – Combined a few cans of beans into a pot with red wine vinegar. Heated it all up with some onions.

Spicy Polenta - This was inspiration from my Nonna (Grandma) and Renee, an engineering student who cooked at an Italian restaurant. It was cornmeal with some potato bits, lots of cayenne pepper (with no effect, sucked up by the corn) and some onion. It was necessary to add a lot of hotsauce afterwards to kick it up a notch.

Pasta Primavera – Made a few batches of rigatoni and set aside. Stir-fried some vegetables (onion, broccoli, carrots) and some tomato sauce, later to be combined with the pasta.

Steamed Potato and Cabbage – It’s really easy to cut up vegetables and steam them. Yellow and red potatoes were graced with cabbage in a rosemary and cumin spiced plate. Should have added some olive oil after cooking to increase moistness.

Results:

One flare up – I truly wasn’t expecting there to be a burner on fire. However, it added some fun to the cooking experience.

3 Guests – This is 4 less than expected due to physical malady and other engagements. This added some disappointment to myself and the guests. It’s really important to be fully appreciative of who is here. As Open Space Technologies professes,  “Whoever comes is the right people”. In future, personally invite fiends by non-electronic mediums.

Mixed reviews on taste – There was some feedback about the polenta being a bit too bland as well as the pasta somewhat undersauced. This was from my friends with East/South Asian palates. It’s important to keep cultural factors in mind and to create dishes that will cater to each.

Overall, I’m satisfied. I’m proud of the amount and diversity of food I was able to make and will likely have another party in April/May.