Friday, November 27, 2009

What is the simplest thing we can do to help the environment?

Reduce consumption.

Understanding the impact on the world of our everyday "buying" decisions is a very good first step. When these seemingly disconnected decisions are aggregated for entire populations and/or markets, the impact becomes very significant.

Whenever you buy something ...
  • Think about having to manufacture millions of that one item (that is usually the effect a market as large as the US has on most mass related products), ...
  • then, think about the amount of raw materials that will be required and where they are coming from, ...
  • the fuel/energy required to manufacture them, ...
  • the fuel/energy required to transport them to millions of consumers like you all around, ...
  • the space required to dispose of them when they are no longer useful
Worst of all, think about all those raw materials and all that energy gone forever ... and, the fact that the cycle has to start again for the next batch.

How many of these cycles do you think the earth can support from raw materials to land fill? Not many at the scales we are able to produce these days ... in the meantime, all trees in the Amazon, Russia, and Indonesia will disappear, all coal and oil will pollute everything we see with CO2, plastics, chemicals, etc.

So what is there to do? Easy. Reduce consumption.

And whenever you do buy something:
  1. Be aware of where it comes from and its likely impact on the environment if you follow the cycle described above, or
  2. Buy things that are locally produced, or
  3. Buy something used instead.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What is the main source of stress?

Lack of control.

Stress is primarily created when you find yourself in a situation where you do not have enough control to drive a desired outcome.

Have you ever been asked at work to do something for which you do not have the necessary authority to make happen? How about when you are supposed to get something done for which you do not have enough time or simply you do not know how?

How about when you are made accountable for the success of a project but you are not given, or do not have, the authority to manage the assigned resources? Does this bring memories?

How about when you are studying for a test and you do not understand the subject matter? How about taking a test when you did not have time to study? Here is a good one. How about when you get to the room where your final test is supposed to be and you find out that the room is the wrong one? Now you are not only late for the test but you have no clue where the test really is. Are you sweating yet?

The best strategy to reduce stress is to recognize and avoid situations where:
  • you do not have enough control to effect the desired outcome, or
  • the situation is simply uncontrollable.
And, if you ever find yourself in a stressful situation - focus on gaining control as soon as possible.

More control .... less stress. Absolute control ..... no stress : )

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What explains weight gain or loss best?

Food Quantity.

People say that controlling your weight is somewhat out of one's control. People are very good at finding excuses and uncontrollable factors to blame for their weight problems - metabolic rate, heredity, family habits, the weather, or that my dog makes me eat.

The reality is that mass cannot be created out of nothing. If you do not eat, you will lose weight. It does not matter how many uncontrollable factors are against you. You cannot gain 10 pounds from 1 pound of cup cakes. Just plain physics.

You may want to spend hours trying to analyze what you eat and eliminate fats, or carbohydrates, or sweets, or whatever so you can keep eating a lot ..... but if you eat a lot of anything, however filtered it is, you will still gain weight.

So, how about reducing quantities first? Then make sure that what you eat is well-balanced.

Too simple? : )

Monday, November 9, 2009

How do you know when someone you like is special?

Comfort.

Have you ever met somebody that you are physically attracted to that, at the same time, makes you feel like you have known them forever? Have you felt that instant comfort and trust that allows you to spend hours talking about all kinds of stuff effortlessly?

If so, this "comfort" is a great clue that you have met someone special.

Physically attracted and comfortable - nice combination, no?

What is the best way to learn something?

Trial and error.

Our brain is designed to be a learning machine. A machine that requires inputs from the outside world. The more and more frequent the inputs the better. The ultimate goal is to drive our machine to build the required circuitry to deem new knowledge as "learned" and "stored".

So, what is the easiest way to build these permanent circuits?

Have you noticed that sometimes you learn something and 5 minutes later is gone? How about something that you learned when you were young, like riding a bicycle, that is always there? What is the difference? Simply put, you built permanent circuits for one and not the other.

Repetition and making mistakes is key to building permanent knowledge ... but also understanding that our senses are the inputs that feed our brains to build these permanent circuits - seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, hurting, feeling, etc.

The more we try something and the more mistakes we make and the more senses we use, the faster the building of permanent circuits becomes.

So, if you want to truly learn something, persist and not be afraid to fail ... and if failing is part of learning ... might as well fail big ... it is more fun that way : )

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What should our next step be in Afghanistan?

Downsize and restructure.

Staying in Afghanistan without a well defined, attainable, and tangible goal does not make sense. And, given our current economic situation, can we really afford it? If the overall justification for being there is to contain terrorism at its source, why are we also trying to rebuild a nation?

Is it because we think that once the nation is up and running, terrorism will disappear? Really? Do we think that the police and the army are going to be able to contain anything when corruption is so pervasive?

Besides, how do we know when we are "done" rebuilding and it is time to go? With the current approach, we could be there for the next 10 years or more.

How about if we replace what we are doing with a very focused capability instead? Reduce our forces from tens of thousands to a few hundred.

How could these be more effective? How about structuring this new capability to only be target-driven based on a strengthen intelligence gathering infrastructure. Their focus would be on a series of discrete, clearly defined, attainable, and finite missions. Let's get everybody else back home.

Just my opinion : )

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What is the key to a long lasting relationship?

Expectations.

Love is an interesting thing. Today, it seems like everybody and everything tells us that finding ever lasting and passionate love is the ultimate goal. And, that what we feel from the beginning should remain constant throughout the relationship.

There is nothing wrong with the idea of ever lasting and passionate love, the problem is the notion that these "feelings" should remain constant from day one.

The reality is that love evolves and changes like anything else. A typical life cycle goes through attraction, passion, infatuation, warmth, admiration, respect, stability, companionship, friendship, caring, etc. The challenge is to be prepared and to understand these different stages as you go through them -- and not fall in the "it is just not the same as at the beginning" trap. It is not suppossed to be. Love develops, if given a chance, into something deeper, more stable, and more meaningful -- ultimately, into some sort of "subliminal" and "transcendental" well-being by just being next to the person you love.

So, manage your own expectations. Expect love to change and enjoy the ride. The end game is worth the journey.