04 February 2009

25 Random Thoughts

Originally posted on my Facebook profile around the time many others were posting lists of personal desires, childhood injuries, personality quirks, and the like. After initially resisting to participate, I decided my list would be somewhat different, reflecting more thoughts than milestones.


Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

1. I believe it's totally OK to say you don't know, but usually not OK to sound like you don't know.

2. My favorite beers mostly come from Oregon.

3. For me, a real breakfast means eggs. Preferably scrambled and cooked gently over low heat and served salted and wet with a moist, luscious texture.

4. In my experience, the best way to really learn something is to teach it.

5. I've found that before you can raise people's expectations, you have to change their preconceptions.

6. Giving 110% effort makes no mathematical sense to me. See, my degree in math from UC Berkeley has some practical use.

7. I find small dogs to be annoying and essentially pointless.

8. With everyone I've lived with, falling asleep and snoring is sufficient grounds for someone else to change the TV channel.

9. If given the choice, I prefer to sleep in a pitch black, cool air temperature bedroom, with an open window for fresh air.

10. I take the view that insufficient sleep results in racking up "sleep debt" which often results in "forced debt repayment" often during the weekend.

11. Similarly, I believe using caffeine is like a credit card: borrowed energy from your own body's future results in an additional interest payment in the form of health degradation.

12. I think it's OK to have many changing interests through life. I currently find the hygiene hypothesis, which may explain rapidly rising rates in allergies and chronic diseases in Western countries, to be a fascinating challenge to the medical and cultural paradigm of the modern antibacterial lifestyle.

13. I find the news media in the U.S. to be disappointingly sensationalist. The most glaring example is to compare CNN in the US and then watch CNN International while visiting another country. It is amazing to see how the same organization can run a high quality global news channel for most of the world to watch, while dishing out personality driven "infotainment" from the likes of Larry King and Lou Dobbs for Americans.

14. To me, the best interviewer on television, by far, is Charlie Rose. Unlike Larry King, Rose actually reads up and prepares for each guest. Unlike Barbara Walters, Rose exercises his intellect by interviewing a wide range of guests, well beyond celebrities and top newsmakers.

15. I believe the excessive power of the teachers unions is the biggest yet least recognized obstacle to improving schools in the United States. Protecting nonperforming teachers from getting fired harms all teachers, all students, the entire school system, and ultimately, the American workforce, and America's competitiveness in the global marketplace. The teachers unions should be ashamed of being one of America's greatest competitive weaknesses.

16. I don't shop at Wal-Mart. Why? Because Wal-Mart represents a grotesquely unhealthy, socially irresponsible, and frighteningly vast shift in the global economy's balance of power. It is a prime example of how the free market needs to be partially regulated for the common good.

17. I agree with the observation that the United States economy's greatest strength is the legal flexibility for employers to hire and fire people quickly. The terrible pain so many Americans now face with unemployment has a distinct bright side. American companies will be the first to rapidly hire and expand as the global economy recovers.

18. I love international travel. I admire Anthony Bourdain and his culinary travels. I am a proud American, but I don't believe there is such a thing as American exceptionalism. Other cultures do some things and respect certain values better than Americans and we would be foolish to assume otherwise.

19. Earning the rank of Eagle Scout was one of my proudest moments. I found it to be personally more meaningful than graduating from high school. My experience in the Boy Scouts of America played a big part of my growing up. Scouting fostered a strong start to my lifelong personal development in leadership, citizenship, environmentalism, preparedness, self-reliance, and even cooking. I find it disappointing and unfortunate that the national Boy Scouts organization chose very wrongly to continue to discriminate against gays and atheists from joining as scouts, and women as adult leaders.

20. I strongly encourage everyone to make your own emergency preparedness kits for home, work, and the car trunk. You never know when a Katrina or Ike, Northridge or Loma Prieta may hit. Take the time now to mitigate the unexpected conditions faced by the Stolpas, and avoid the tragic fate met by James Kim. See http://72hours.org for easy instructions.

21. Vegetarians could get vitamin B12 from whole vegetables if only modern agriculture, through the use of harsh chemical fertilizers and insecticides, did not wipe out the myriad of native soil bacteria which naturally puts vitamin B12 into the plant structure. Meat eaters should stop pointing to our physiological need for vitamin B12 and the lack of it in supermarket produce as some sort of nature's proof we need to eat meat. Despite this understanding, I enjoy cooking and eating animals since they taste like meat.

22. I make sure I say "I love you" to my dearest wife many times every day.

23. There are few certainties in life but there are at least two I recognize: Life is too short to be angry. Life is too short to not be in love.

24. I find the world makes much more sense and daily life is much easier to accept when you assume everyone is inherently irrational, harbors multiple and conflicting interests, and acts on impulse often. This also helps immensely with self-acceptance.

25. I believe the recipe for happiness may take an entire lifetime to discover, but I think some of the less recognized key ingredients are (1) taking calculated risks, (2) enjoying nature and outdoor activities, (3) having a meaningful event or milestone to look forward to, (4) choosing harmony over righteousness, and (5) appreciating and using time as a precious, limited resource.