Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your participation in my recent poll. You’ve stirred my creative juices and given me some good ideas to run with. You are the best, and I appreciate you being here. So, without further ado, here are the top choices that YOU asked for, along with my thoughts on how I may approach said ideas.
1 – The Most Popular Paths
- Political topics: I follow the news on both sides with a critical eye and when a topic or piece garners an opinion, it’s inevitably a strong one. I want this to feel like a supportive community, more so than a podium. I fear polarizing people who are otherwise happy to hang around. If I delve into political topics, it will likely be critical examinations of topics that I have heavily researched and considered, under the assumption that the general readership has not. Examples: student loan forgiveness, legalization of psychedelic substances, critical race theory, etc.
- Short stories: I love reading fiction. I love writing fiction. My brain has been a bit slow in circulating the creative juices since an infection and subsequent fatigue several years ago. I’m excited to dive back in, likely poorly but with great enthusiasm. Here’s are two sci-fi short stories from the archives to quench your desires in the meantime: Unevolved and Assignment.
- Wisdom & lessons learned: I had a successful blog from around 2010 to 2014 and the bulk of my post revolved around small moments in life and the lessons learned. I loved that place, yet I felt I needed to break from it (and start hiding behind a pseudonym). but I adore that style of writing and can certainly make this happen. Past examples: The Shape And Color Of Our Perceptions and Systems & Stories Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
2 – Exciting Forks In The Road
- Real-life anecdotes: While my life is likely quite normal, I am easily amused. I notice all of the small things, say ridiculous things, and get overly excited about a new pen or a new leaf on my pothos (which spits out a new leaf nearly every day). I remember that time a cheap date where the guy pulled a melted Hershey’s bar out of his pants and when my 7’2″ coworker leap into the air at the sight of a spider. I like transforming everyday nothings into somethings. Here are some from the archives: The Truth About Heroes & Warriors and This Is Either Going to End in Marriage or Arson.
- Creative writing tips: I write less than I use to because my body began demanding more than four hours of sleep. However, I have done a lot of writing in my life and intend to do a lot more. I’m always researching what I can do better, so would be happy to share my discoveries and insights.
- Cooking & baking: I love cooking and do so just about every day. With the pandemic at play, we’ve not gone out to eat at all and have only picked up takeout three times in the last years. However, I don’t have the patience to take lovely pictures at every step. What I can do is pass along cookbook and recipes that I would give two thumbs up. I can also give tips on frugal cooking. For example, if you use a lot of spices, pick up 16oz bulk bags to refill the little glass jars. This has saved us hundreds of dollars (though, as I mentioned, I cook a lot).
- Structural engineering & infrastructure: Around 1995, I watched a documentary about America’s failing infrastructure on PBS. Alongside my father, I watched footage of bridges collapsing and power-lines sagging hopelessly while constructing bridges with my brother’s K’NEX. Five years later, I discovered CAD bridge-building software during a math assignment and then attended a STEM summer camp program. The critical issues of 25 years ago continue to be ignored until a critical disasters brings the topic back to the forefront. To this day, I am fascinated by all facets of structural engineering, though I have absolutely no training (yet, a strong propensity to think like an engineer).
- Current events: Similar to politics, this is an area in which I shall tread lightly. Firstly, I don’t follow mainstream news and often sample news from both sides in search of the truth; secondly, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Sometimes things are relevant to me, such as the huge influx of mad hatters moving to the middle of the desert, warrant some input. By the way, If you’re thinking of moving to Phoenix, heat your oven to 425° degrees, open the oven, bask in the heat, and don’t pull away… that’s Phoenix from mid-March through mid-November. We have two months of I forgot Phoenix dropped below freezing, one month of the most perfect weather you can imagine, and nine months of living in the furnace.
- Finding meaning: Every object on earth carries a shadow in relation to the sun, and each each of us is exposed to both light and darkness on a continual basis. I believe that it’s our responsibility, as sentient beings, to pay attention and to seek out beauty, meaning, and purpose under all type of circumstances, so as not to be overwhelmed by darkness. When considering meaning, I often think of some lines from poet David Whyte: “Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” Even if meaning isn’t inherent, it can be found.
- Personal sovereignty: To be sovereign over one’s self is to be free of the control or coercion of others, and to truly direct one’s own life (i.e. exercise free will). The price of freedom is taking full responsibility over all aspects of life – conducting thorough research, thinking critically about how decisions today may impact your life tomorrow, and accepting responsibility for both positive and negative outcomes. In a perfect world, the goal is individual freedom for all, which is derived from individual power (attained through personal responsibility and discipline) combined with a moral culture dedicated to civil behavior. It’s what ancient philosopher, such as John Locke, and the American Founding Father’s strove for. I don’t believe it’s possible on a large scale currently, but if even a fraction of the world’s population become more self-reliant and supportive of their local communities, it will alleviate strain from our overburdened systems and everyone will be better off for it.
- Book reviews: When I ran my former blog, publishers sent me boxes of free books every month in exchange for a review. A good portion of the books weren’t very good and it was a lot of pressure to write gracious reviews about terrible books. I love reading, though I don’t have quite as much free time as I did a decade ago, due to my reacquainted with my good friend, sleep. I go through phases, but right now I’m on a huge poetry, short story, sci-fi, and economics kick. I have eleven recently-finished or in-progress books on my desk. I’ll share positive reviews on anything spectacular, critical reviews on books that have received undue acclaim, or those in which I learned something worth sharing. Some past book reviews: The Atomic Weight of Love, Little Fires Everywhere, and Kotov Syndrome.
3 – You Got Lost, But Aren’t Upset
- Habits, systems & routines: As I get older, I’m beginning to suspect I have some low-level ADD or extremely mild autism. Through my early years, I had to devise tactics to navigate school and social interactions while struggling to focus or unsure of how to best respond to the person in front of me. I got by without issue, but have continued to find ways to streamline, limit options, create patterns, and generally create daily routines that simplify my life. I’ve read dozens of books and hundreds of articles on the topic over my lifetime. While I have come to despise the click-baity topics, I’ve come to discover some things that work well for me, and would be thrilled to share. Here are a few from the archives: Why Systems Trump Goals and Creating Your Own Metrics for Success.
- Money & finances: Money is freedom. When I build wealth, I create options. I began investing at age 18 after plucking personal finance books from my parents’ bookshelf and, while I feel behind, my financial advisor insists that I’m on track for an early retirement. I live frugally, save aggressively, and take calculated risks to build my wealth so that one day I may be able to stay home with a child, buy a lovely plot of land, or do work that I love even if it doesn’t quite pay the bills. Past topics: You Don’t Need To Be Rich To Make Your Money Work For You, How Much Money Is ‘Enough’?, and Why You Should Build A FOMO Fund.
- Romantic relationship advice: I have been with my partner for just shy of eight years. Prior to that, I’ve had some terrible, short-lived relationships with jealous types and awful dates that I still laugh about today. I don’t know everything about love and companionship, but I’m happy and still deeply in love after passing the infamous “seven-year itch” so I think I must be doing something right. From the archives: Synchronicity, Entrainment, and Finding “The One”, 5 Valuable Lessons From My 5-Year Relationship, and It’s Not About the Wedding.
- Human-centered design & ergonomics: Likely stemming from my childhood obsession with bridges, I have always had an opinion on how things could be made better. At age six, I complained to my teacher about how uncomfortable my desk chair was and, around that same time, began redesigning furniture forts to accommodate more friends. I love discovering thoughtfully-designed products that take into consideration the interaction between the object and the human. Aeron chairs are meant to be comfortable and supportive, while simplehuman trash cans take a gross necessity and make it work practically while looking elegant. If education were free, I would likely pursue a degree in either human-centered or structural engineering because I can’t help but swoon at the overlap between brutal practicality and show-stopping beauty.
- Hiking, camping & backpacking: I love the outdoors and enjoy both researching and testing out gear. I shared my favorite hiking gear a few years back and it all still holds true. I may create a post on my favorite camping gear or share pictures of my favorite local trails.
- Gardening: I live in a condo which is currently infested with squirrels, so I’ve been venturing to my parents’ house to get my garden fix. I may share getting started tips, produce that I’ve found to thrive and fail in the local climate, as well as nifty gardening tools that get the most use.
- Consciousness: Consciousness, at its simplest, is “sentience or awareness of internal and external existence”. What a loaded definition! I think a lot about existence, where life came from, and our purpose and while I doubt I will ever stumble upon a full understanding, I believe that the exploration itself can lead to some enlightening discoveries. I’ve studies the holofractographic unified field theory, the simulation theory, the coding of information into our DNA and accessible via hallucinogenic substances. It’s fascinating stuff, so I’ll see what I can do to put it into words.