Archive for May, 2010

6 Free sites (quick post)

learning is like a wildflower, something that can be grown anywhere, between narrow cracks in concrete jungles, or in nice meadows. here are more resources for us autodidacts to use in the pursuit of knowledge:

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until it’s over, but it’s far from over

where i come from motivation derives from survival. survival itself is the instinct that you just develop along the way when interacting in very stressful worlds. survival is a test, some win some lose. now that i live outside that type of world i find it difficult to stay motivated. when i have already kicked into high-gear in terms of survival, how do i get that feeling of motivation that i once had?


finding purpose behind a desk and on a computer rather than on the streets trying to eat is very different. previously my mode was survival, success out of spite, but now what is my purpose? well re-purposing is something that is not that difficult. in my particular situation i think of what i went through, and how i can help those people going through similar things.

so my new purpose in saving other people is kind of like saving myself once more. instead of losing focus, eating steak and gaining weight i have an objective in mind; save as many as i can.

the way that i save people is through my day job in education, and re-telling my story through writing.

re-imagining your world

i believe firmly that the sky is very grey when it comes to people’s worth. for instance what i learned from being involved in a drug-centric world was not all negative. while illegal that particular craft has people or dealers who have qualities like being hard working, intelligent, innovative and resilient. these skills seem to be transferable.

so now that i am behind a desk i get to bring those qualities to the table. the mentality is no different, but the world is. i can be all of those things, and more in a world that is centered on the education of others. before it seemed like everyday was a struggle mainly because of the risk, but risk is something unknown. if i center my world on the unknown that does breed hope. so how do i find that behind a desk?

being the best

to find risk behind a desk i simply tell myself that i want to be the best at what i do. this relates to risk because being the “best” implies not being the same. individual behavior change relies on the fact that you do not repeat something that did not work out for you in the first place, you do something different. well the dynamics of the professional environment plays on the same thing, if you want to be the best or improve do something different than everyone else. of course the thing is, being different is taking a risk. people tend to be more comfortable with routine, so trying to be the best is how i create that sense of risk for myself now.


by now you get the sense that i feel that motivation exists outside of whatever world you exist in. so even though no one is exactly like you, or has had exact experiences, motivation has some of the same factors, so why not find those qualities in the stories of others. i often find motivation from film, music, or lectures. when i look to be motivated lately i will play the song “over” by drake.

this song motivates me in the same way that the ghosts of the past do. i think of the things that motivated my grandfather to overcome slavery, to own his own farm. i think of the odds that faced my old man in the korean war, or his journey in his legal and illegal businesses. these stories whether in film or through the past inspire me to do better to improve. so i make use of them, i remind myself of them often to gain perspective on what i am doing now.

when drake says “….that’s what imma do til it’s over, but it’s far from over.” he is speaking on legacy. when it is over what will your name look like, how will your children perceive it. your legacy is something worth exceeding expectations for.  find someone who would like to leave things better than they found it, then you have found one person who is motivated.

“you can look me in the eyes, see i’m ready for whatever, anything don’t kill me make me better.” – t.i. motivation

learning something for nothing

in the classic star wars saga the way to teach another the religion, and practices of being a jedi was through apprenticeship. in most cases in history the apprenticeship is free. the learner typically lived under the patronage of the teacher, it was an all expenses paid education, well at least financially. it would be difficult to find a decent apprenticeship these days for pay. regardless one of the best benefits of learning is that it is so fundamental and inherent, that it’s free.

free education is mostly spoken of as some ideal, but the reality is that it is not an ideal but something real very real. being an autodidact means that you learn for free. learning is one of the few  abilities that we are actually born with. previously in the autodidact post i stressed that learning has happened far before formal school systems existed. the free price tag is one of the greatest benefits of being self-taught.

the cost benefit of the college student is insane. looking at the chart below (from a columbia university study) you see that the college graduate’s salary contributes more financially to the system. this is a cost benefit to society, having a productive member contribute ideas, new thinking, and consuming products.

well college students pay time and money into the system for that benefit, but it is possible to get the same benefits without paying the money. the autodidact knows this, but the cost is not what drives them, it is the learning itself.

this idea is becoming more and more prominent due to the web, the hope is that it becomes highly practiced. in my autodidact post i listed sites that led in open courseware. the new york times recently did something similar in it’s article learning something for nothing.

extreme minimalism (quick post)

the other day i came across this gem of an interview with a guy that plays on the hit tv show mad men. he talks about his extreme turn to minimalism lately.

Categories: quick post

food for thought

being a minimalist i evaluate my spending habits often. by far one of my biggest expenses and passions is food. i make things myself and also eat out. when it comes to food i like variation. when considering ways to cut down on this expense i could not figure out the proper way to minimize cost but increase the quality of my food experience.

the other day when speaking to a colleague it hit me. my colleague told me that they followed the sales each week.


by following the sales your sense of wonder increases. having a sense of wonder is one of my favorite things about eating and cooking. if i went to the grocery store i would normally make dinners based on what i usually eat; steak, yams, potatoes, etc…. i would get the typical southern style food, which i love, but i like excitement in meals. why would i pigeon hole myself? well grocery shopping is a cognitive experience. with large numbers of options it’s difficult to make a decision, therefore mentally i go with the simplest categorization; past instances. even though i am willing to try new things when shopping without planning i have sensory overload, therefore logically scramble to organize my thoughts in a way that makes shopping easier.

if i follow the sales each week this gives me the opportunity to experience foods i would not otherwise experience. through eating it will open up my palate and my creativity through cooking. it is a win win scenario lower costs with a sense of adventure in the world of food.


following the deals you receive in the mail is an easy way to grocery shop. before i could not stand receiving something on paper that i never used, but now i look forward to it. finding sales provided by restaurants may be difficult, but possible. good sources include local newspapers, or their websites. the local paper where i live is always recommending places to eat while providing financial incentives for going. browsing the web for deals near your location is the other option.

i found some more helpful ways to save in a post over at zen habits called 50 tips for grocery shopping. i found some of it useful, so check it out if you like me, spend more money on food than you care to spend.

Categories: consumer info, money Tags: , , ,

simplicity’s complexity

often as a minimalist we take for grated the complexity of the things that simplify our lives. think about the things that you use that are versatile or do multiple things, on a certain level they are simple but maybe on a scientific level they are complex. george whitesides talks about this specific paradox.

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