Thursday, March 25, 2010

Contrast: The spice of life

Think about a time when you felt really, really good...when you felt excitement or relief or joy or any other positive emotion that comes to you mind. You felt that way or you knew that was a positive feeling because you know the other side of the coin. When I am satisfied the most at dinner is after I have been fasting and when I have been snacking all day, dinner can only be so-so for me. All positive things exist because the negative exists.

Happiness and Sadness
For happiness to exist sadness must also. I always saw sadness as the antithesis of happiness, but this is not so. Boredom is much farther away from happiness than sadness. With sadness, happiness is somewhere nearby. When something tragic happens, say a loved one passes away, it is only sad because of the happiness and joy that you felt around that person or when you think of their memories. When your day goes well and everything falls together, you are happy because you know how things can be when things don't go well (maybe recently). The most difficult state that I've seen people in is when they are depressed, and depression and boredom are bedfellows.

Love and Enmity
For one to love, they must know enmity. A very loving person mustn't have enmity, but they must know it to recognize the love that they have. I am not afraid of enmity as much as I am of apathy. I want people to emote about me more than not knowing I exist. Of course I would rather have have the scale tilted toward love, but I do not want people close to me to not recognize me or not care about me at all. More apathy is not needed in this world. We must know of enmity and flee from it with such passion and fury that we only know of it through fairy tales where love conquers.

Fairy Tales
The reason fairy tales...or any tale for that matter are worthwhile is because of the contrast. If I am not taken up and down emotionally during a move...I want my $13 back!! (I can't believe how expensive movies are these days!) Beauty would be boring with out the Beast, Mulan would have nothing to fight and no story without the Huns....look at any good story and there you will find high contrast.

Beauty in Life
Contrast makes this sunset beautiful. The bright colors contrast magnificently. When you see a beautiful cloudy sky, there is probably high contrast between the fluffy white clouds with crisp edges against the bright blue sky.

I have noticed this everywhere in my life since I started to think about it. Through all the ebbs I realize that flows will be there also and visa versa. If you start to think about it, I bet you will see it too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Creating Value

Meet Kenny
When this guy approached me on my way down Auburn Ave to the King Center I thought he was going to ask for a handout. I've got this a lot while in Atlanta last week. I had a tight schedule my last day in there, but wanted to walk to the MLK Center to see the city and "richest
Negro street in the world." (Dobbs) With my time short and things to do many, I had my usual quick pace--reading Wikipedia via my phone while looking for historic buildings and cars every few seconds.

Then Kenny stopped me. He said, "Hey man, slow down! Do you know where you are and what happened here? Some big things happened in this neighborhood not too long ago and you're passing right by them!" He then began to tell me the intricate history of the different buildings nearby with regard to the civil rights movement. After a 30 minute personal tour he left me at the Martin Luther King Jr Center, shook my hand and turned to leave. What??!! No request for some money? The law of reciprocity is in effect can ask for something! I found out that he was homeless and in need from some of the questions I asked him. We talked for a bit more, and I suggested he advertise for free tours the free tours in s
ome European cities. I was very satisfied with my tour so I gave him a few bucks and we both left feeling good about the experience because it wasn't focused on money. It was a fair exchange.

MLK Center

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?" -MLK

"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.

Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice." -MLK

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shoe Shopping

I went shoe shopping recently and found myself the perfect rock climbing shoes! The shoes I've had in the past seem to just come to me...easy acquisitions. I would often just borrow them for short times when I needed to climb or I was at an REI garage sale and happened upon a cheap pair that seemed to fit alright. I was getting in to rock climbing more and more and I've always wanted a pair that I would really love. A good pair of climbing shoes that works well with your feet can work miracles on your climbing accomplishments. This is how it happened.

I was living in Cleveland and there was no really choices available. There was just one little climbing gym that didn't offer much selection. I was toying with the idea of getting some online, but they really need to fit perfect and need to be tried on if you're going to invest so much in them. I did the best with what I had...and made it work but waited until I went to West Virginia for better selection.

Desirable Attributes
With so many pairs on the rack, I began first by how they look and how I thought they would work with my style of climbing (I couldn't get a really flexible bouldering shoe with all the route climbing I do). I can't have a pink shoe or laces-they take too long to put on. So I weeded out most of the shoes through rapid cognition mostly and thinking about others for a sec.

The next thing I looked at was cost. How much of my time at work (where my cash comes from) am I willing to put in for these things. I decided that this would only factor in if all things else were equal (not likely).

Before buying I made sure the shoe had good ratings...I didn't want to rush into this purchase so I used my handy-dandy iPhone to find out more about the shoes I was interested in. I've been burned for not doing this with past purchases. That effort is worth its weight in gold! (if effort weighed a lot).

Fit and Function
The last and most important step involves trying the shoe on and trying it out. Most shoes I could put 'em on for a second and know they're not right, but a select few I had to actually try them out on the indoor climbing wall before knowing. I must have had 9 boxes of shoes...all my size that passed the selection criteria above to try on. I was supremely disappointed when a great pair of shoes that I tried on was so perfect until I tried them out on the indoor wall and my heel would not stay down when on my toes. That just would not do.

My Perfect Shoes
The pair that won me over passed all the previous criteria, but blew them all out of the water when I tried them out. I actually didn't know everything that I wanted when I knew I wanted climbing shoes. I learned a lot about my specific needs from those shoes that didn't quite make it. When I tried out the 5.9 Anastazi, there was something different...they just fit so well around my heel and in the toe while I was up on the wall. My ability instantly improved! After a couple minutes I did notice they were not perfect. In fact there was a pressure point right by my ankle. It wasn't bad though, but I bought them knowing they weren't perfect.

What Changed?
I thought they weren't perfect at least. It turned out that after a couple climbs they became perfect! I don't know if the soft spot below my ankle toughened up or if the shoe molded to my foot--they became the perfect match.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Science Of Influence

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along... move along.

I just finished a book on influence that was fascinating! This is one of my favorite topics to read about in psychology. At first I became interested in the topic to be more persuasive, dreaming of Obi-Wan powers of influencing other people. Unfortunately just because I read books like these and understand these principles, does not mean that I can utilize them. key thing that I have gleaned from this book and others like it is how to not succumb to these weapons of influence as much when other's use them. I still have a long way to go, but my heightened awareness has been a good start.

Here is a summary of 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Utah Weekend Trip

I had a blast last weekend in Utah! So much fun hanging out with family, friends, going to conference, seeing Betsy (on her mission!) and playing around in the Wasatch mountains.

Here are a few pics:

Cascade mountain on Squaw peak road...Perfect timing for this trip with the fall colors!!

Almost stepped on this guy hiking down from rock canyon. Andrew said that it must be a male b/c males go out to mate for two weeks and then die. Females stay hiding.

We drove the Alpine loop on Saturday...amazing back there! I really wished I had my mountain bike to ride the spectacularly speedy ridge 157 trail.

One of my all time favorite climbs is the big green monster. The 30 meter sustained 5.9 crack in the comparatively thin air in Utah got me breathing like I was sprinting by the time I got to the top.

On the trail among drab green and brown flora in Rock Canyon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


SCUBA!!!, originally uploaded by ben.obrien.

I signed up for scuba lessons and will get trained in a couple weeks.
But I couldn't wait for training and went last Saturday in lake
murky...I mean lake murray.

It was a pretty rad sensation to be suspended in a dark fluid like
that where any direction in 3 dimensions is an option. A couple times
my mind wandered and I imagined a huge fish coming at me ready to eat
me alive! I also couldn't tell my depth very well until I felt
pressure in my ears. I think I want to get a harpoon to carry with me
in case those dark spots aren't really just my imagination.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SC Pronunciations Guide

SC Pronunciation Guide, originally uploaded by ben.obrien.

I just flipping through an SC tourist book and happened upon this page
detailing some of the oft illogical pronunciations of words down here.
I saw a couple that I have struggled with most notably huger st (HYOO-
gee). Then I broke the silence of the library by laughing when I saw "Sherman: SAY-tun".