Lifestyle

Blogging and Botting

I enjoy blogging and releasing content and this site is the perfect platform for that.

So I post here weekly (or at least try!) and I have been noticing a couple of things.

  1. Practically nobody comes to this website other than people who click the link that is on my Twitter.
  2. There are a lot of people who like my posts and follow this blog after I do post.

So I started looking into it, and I’m holistically convinced that the people who are doing so are bots.

Sure there might be one or two of them just trying to do mass marketing through mass following and liking (which is an actual marketing strategy),  but I think the majority of them are bots.

Some are more straightforward than others.

Some of them will just be called “GreatMarketingTips”, “SuperSportsNews”, “TravelDestinationFun” or something equally blatant.

Some of them will try to be more sneaky.

Bill Josephson, but then you look at the first posts and its “5 great marketing strategies” and “Great ways to improve business”

I love blogging and although you might expect my next few words to be of hate they are not.

The bots are funny to me, the idea that this website doesn’t have any users but rather only bots talking about marketing is hilarious to me.

I’m not upset. This is has been a great experience.

The Balcony

About a year ago I learned to stop studying in just my room. Don’t get me wrong, I study plenty in my room it would be insane if I didn’t.

What I learned though is that I don’t enjoy being cooped up. If I’m in my room for most of the day I get stir-crazy, especially if the assignment I’m working on is causing me plenty of frustration. If I’m tired it gets even worse because I might convince myself to nap instead of being productive.

So began the quest to find a place on my campus to study, give me a change of scenery and keep me from burning out.

And I found some good ones.

My school’s main library. There is a quiet study floor with some large cubicles. I can completely sprawl out on them and also have a power outlet. All of the elements of a great study space. But sooner or later, I became restless again. So I went to some of the other libraries in the school.

In one of the building I actually have access to an organization’s office, which is a quiet study space with a large desk.

Consistently though, I found fault in all of them. All of them were way too confined. I wanted some place with a good view.

In one of the buildings on campus there is a sixth floor with seating and a good view. Pretty good spot, sat there a few times, it had a great view, and some comfy chairs.

In our campus’ science building there is a balcony, I thought I would give it a shot.
And it was alright, there wasn’t really power, or an incredible view, and the seating wasn’t amazing, but it did give a dose of fresh air. I was hooked… On the fresh air that is.

So I scoped out a couple of more balconies around campus. And I found the one that is objectively the best on campus. Here is a list of reasons why:

  1. It has an incredible view. It overlooks most of campus and although it comes incredibly close to a roadway a pair of headphones drowns out all of the sounds of the cars, which is soothing regardless.
  2. It doesn’t have a bunch of people. I have nothing to hide, privacy isn’t the issue for me, the problem is that even in “quiet” zones some people believe that answering a phone call is a quiet activity.
  3. It has good Wi-Fi and cell reception. Some places on campus don’t have any cell reception at all, but this balcony in the great outdoors, has the best of both worlds.
  4. It has power.
  5. It had alright seating. This by all means was not a studying balcony, it was just a balcony that was shoved into the building design, so the only seating available was a desk that was splintery and bumpy and a single plastic chair. A towel over the desk meant that I could put my laptop on it and avoid splinters, so it worked out.
  6. It now has amazing seating. I don’t know who did it, but somebody put a honest-to-goodness non-splintery flat desk and a cushioned roll-y chair.
  7. No bugs. The balcony is about 4 stories up in the air, sure there are some flies, but other than that there is nothing. No mosquitoes.
  8. It has an overhang. This means that unless it is freezing or melting outside, I can comfortably sit on the balcony and breathe in the fresh air.

I don’t know why I wrote this blog post. I guess I could pawn off some meaning like “try diversifying your study spaces” or “try getting a breath of fresh air every now and then.” Whatever the reason I enjoy this place and I guess I just wanted to brag about it.

Snakes and Greed

I’m trying not to become a lifestyle blog. I have no intention on how to tell anyone how to live their life, mainly because I can’t verify that what I’m saying is really the way to do things. That said though every now and then I like writing small reflections on things every now and then.

As this post is titled, it’s about snakes and greed. Hold up, I know what you’re thinking but rest assured I’m not harboring any resentment or ill will towards anyone. I’m not going to talk about how money ruins man. I’m not going to talk about liars and their poisonous tongues. I’m going to talk about something way less deep.

Snake is a classic video game where you are a snake tasked with going around a small boxed off zone to gobble up as much food (or MacGuffin) as possible. The twist is that every time you eat a food you grow a little, and if you run into your own body or the wall, it’s game over.

Image result for snake game

Now here is the masterful a+ high quality premium grade reflection. This game involves the most basic form of strategy that exists, and strategy always brings out life lessons. Here’s Snake’s:

  1. Don’t be greedy
  2. Good things come to those who wait
  3. Sometimes you need to ignore short term gains to accomplish long term goals
  4. Be kind of greedy

I crossed out the second and third point because I realized that it was just increasingly verbose restatement of the first point.

Playing the game, if you rush towards the food every single time, sooner or later you will end up trapping yourself. It’s the fastest way, but it doesn’t ensure that you will last. On the other hand, if you try to weave and condense yourself every time before you go to the next food you are assured safety from entanglement, although it does take a considerably larger amount of time.

The moral of these two strategies is that if you are ultimately greedy and not thinking or planning for any long term goals, you might end up closing doors on yourself. On the other hand though, if you spend your whole life planning, you could possibly miss out on some of the doing.

And that’s all I really have to say. I love snake, it’s a fun and relaxing game to pass the time.

Throwing a Pigskin

How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains?… Yeah… Coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we would’ve been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.

-Uncle Rico, Napoleon Dynamite

I was never really good at football. By that I mean my mom was a little protective and I never got to play. I really don’t mind, football is a dangerous sport anyways.

This blog post isn’t about football though, this blog post is about regret and denial.

I know, I know. Maxwell you said this wasn’t going to be a lifestyle blog. Maxwell I thought you were going to do more music reviews. Maxwell, why don’t you talk about games or math or something.

I am going to live in denial a little bit and say that this post is really a character analysis more than it is a lifestyle commentary, although you can expect it to devolve into some form of rant. The character I am partially analyzing is Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.

Image result for uncle rico

If you haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite shame on you I understand. It is a strange movie where it doesn’t really feel like there is a solid plot and every character is a caricature of an actual human.

Uncle Rico is the uncle to the main character Napoleon. That’s about it. He really doesn’t have much going for him. He is the caricature of regret and denial.

Although a grown man, Uncle Rico constantly references high school and how his coach didn’t put him in during state football championships. Most of his screen time is taken up by watching him record himself throwing footballs, aimlessly.

One of the scenes depicts him trying to use a (fake) time machine, so he can go back in time and correct the mistakes of the past.

His character is the epitome of denial, spending all of his present time wallowing, believing he should have earned something that is now long gone and out of reach.

Do not be like Uncle Rico.

If you don’t play football, you are halfway there.

I’m just kidding though, everyone probably has dealt with denial or regret. Everyone’s life is littered with mistakes, good days, bad days, alright days and so on and so forth. It is easy to get bogged down by a bad day and then caught up in a fond memory and think that you were so much better off then. The fact is you are selecting data and creating bad math.

And here is where I start talking about math.

First off, as humans we have an innate ability to see patterns and analyze things. I don’t mean we do it well, honestly we are pretty terrible at it. Optical illusions play on our brain’s desire to see patterns, and people still assume that 939578991 is more random than 123456789.

Now here is what you need to know about life and then about statistics.

No matter how hard you try you are going to have a bad day, if your life is amazing and awesome in every way you are still going to have bad moments, and still going to have regrets about your life.

On the flipside though, no matter how terrible and depressing your life is you are still going to at least have a couple of good moments.

The fact is that no matter how much you don’t like statistics, your life is a scatterplot. The ultimate goal in life is to be an upward trending scatterplot, kind of like the one below.

scatter plot showing strong positive linear correlation

The Y-axis would be your overall self-satisfaction.
The X-axis is time (how classic).
The line not only is the average but what you believe the satisfaction you should be getting out of your day is.

People that get too stuck in the past have a graph that looks like this.

Notice that it putters out.

If you get too attached to a memory and find yourself saying that those were the glory days, that you no longer can be as good as you were, that you PEAKED, then this is probably what your life is like. You never actually get back to that level of self-satisfaction because you are now comparing your entire life to a single event.

The best way to remedy this is by first coming to the realization that you did not in fact peak. If you are life-ing properly you should peak when you die.

You are going to have good memories and they will define you.
You are going to have bad memories and they will define you.
The important part is that they aren’t unreachable.

If you live your life saying that you can never reach the pit that is your worst memory, then the rug could slip out from under and you could make the same mistake.

If you live your life saying that you can never reach the heaven that is your best memory, then I guarantee right now that you never will.

Your good memories should be motivation for how great your life can be. You should stop at nothing to the consistently reach the level of satisfaction of those memories. You can never relive those memories but you can make new memories that are just as great if not better.

Your bad memories should be there to motivate you to do better. Realistically, no matter how motivated or talented or happy or complete you are there will always be a bad day every now and then. The point of your bad memories is to minimize these bad days and the problems that they cause. You can’t fix them because they have passed, but you can learn from them.

All in all, the past is the past and we can’t ever reach it again, so use it as a lesson and then move on. The only part your present self can effect is your future self, and the only part your future self can thank is your past self.

Maximum Endeavors Reached

When I made this blog it was during a time where my school life was winding down and summer was beginning. So during Summer I was capable of releasing pretty decent content weekly and then stream video games. With all of that time I was also able to expand the endeavors I could do. Here is the semi-sweet news:

I don’t have enough time to expand, for now.

When the school year started I took all of my weekly goals down a heavy notch. And then I failed to accomplish all of them. So I tried harder, and I still failed.

Without a doubt though I have gotten more efficient. I am planning out my weeks exceedingly well, I am getting closer at accomplishing my weekly goals, and I am getting my studies finished faster. Beyond that my life is getting way more active, I am participating in events all over campus and hanging out with a lot more people.

So the problem isn’t that I am shirking my weekly goals to play videogames (trust me, I would be playing Metroid: Samus Returns right now if that were the case). The problem is that my life has gotten much busier, which is why I haven’t been able to stream or become more active in my endeavors.

The good news is that more content will be coming in the weeks to come. Here is my reasoning:

  1. Next week is Xylo-A-Day’s Zelda theme week. If you don’t know, that means that every day starting Sunday I am going to posting a Zelda themed video every day for an entire week. It will be awesome so you should check it out.
  2. These next two weeks are just particularly stressful on my life, I have a major test coming up and some career opportunities I need to go for, so a lot of my focus is on that. Also theme week recording.
  3. I am only going to be more efficient at time management. Two weeks of experience in getting things done will only prove to help me get things done faster.
  4. Hopefully after this is all over then I will probably be able to start a new endeavor, which will be really refreshing to start something new.
  5. Oh did I say that theme week is next week.

All in all I don’t really know what else to say, when I made this blog I just said that it would be documentation for my life and at the very least I intend to keep that promise.

My life is only getting better and so hopefully the content of the blog will be able to reflect that progression.

The Upward Spiral

Major Disclaimer: This is not an attempt to become a lifestyle blog.

Like most people, you have probably heard of the downward spiral. It probably goes something like, something bad happens, and then in reaction to that something bad happening a bad decision is made, then something bad happens, and then a bad decision is made, and it just keeps going.

The downward spiral is pretty easy to get into because stress and vice are a perfect combo.

A large assignment that is due weeks from now seems like a daunting task to start, I decide to play video games instead to relieve the stress.
A large assignment that is due days from now seems like an even more daunting task to start, I decide to play video games or sleep instead to relieve the stress.
A large assignment is now due, and I stitched together some garbage to produce a product.
I get a bad grade on the assignment and then become less motivated in class and don’t know the material as well as I should for the next assignment.
A large assignment that is due weeks from now seems like a dau…

This is the main problem with math, unlike plenty of other subjects math stacks on itself. It requires that you understand addition to really understand multiplication. It requires that you understand multiplication to understand raising numbers to powers.

The downward spiral creates problems because it is present you shirking responsibility for future you to do. Then future you becomes present you and present you is salty because past you didn’t do anything.

The upward spiral is the opposite of all of this.

The upward spiral is when present you sacrifices time for future you to be more successful. It is tough and mostly counter-intuitive but is usually worth it.

Examples include:
Going to the gym
Not procrastinating
Making plans
Making a budget
Sleeping enough/not sleeping too much

People like to be instantly gratified which is why it is hard to get on and stay on the upward spiral. It takes days before the effects of the upward spiral are felt.

The best part about the upward spiral though is that it creates the opposite feeling of the downward spiral. Present you will be in a constant stream of gratitude for past you and will be more motivated to help out future you. Then future you will become present you and it will all start over again.

The past two weeks I haven’t posted because I was out of town and then I was sick, but beyond all of that when I got back I became unmotivated. I thought about it more and my desk was dirty and I wasn’t releasing xylophone videos. Everything was piling up and I wasn’t willing to start polishing off my to-do list. I’m still in the chilling mood but I feel like blogging is getting me one step closer to riding that upward spiral.

Sorry for the ramble, I hope this will never become a lifestyle blog.

Monster of the Week

My favorite TV show format is definitely Monster of the Week. This is essentially a trope where every episode has a different problem to solve that gets wrapped up nicely and then put away to (usually) never be seen again.

This is different from shows like Breaking Bad where every episode is just one step closer towards completing a seasonal arc and just about every interaction is meaningful.

I didn’t realize that I enjoyed the heck out of this format until I looked back at all the shows I’ve really enjoyed. Now don’t get me wrong, all these shows also contain a large story arc that span the many monster of the week arcs, but that doesn’t mean that they are excluded from the category.

To start, I love X-Files.

If you haven’t heard of X-Files, it is a show about FBI agents Mulder and Scully who go from town to town to investigate paranormal activity. The great thing about this show is the relationship between the two main characters. Mulder is defined by his firm and unwavering faith in the paranormal, while Scully is more stoic in her beliefs and fails to believe unless an adequate scientific reason can be produced.

The next show I would suggest that follows this format is Fringe.

Fringe is roughly a generic copy of X-Files, but is still very good. It follows FBI agent Olivia Dunham and Walter Bishop who work in the FBI’s Fringe division. They also go from town to town to investigate strange occurrences that don’t exactly seem natural. It is very good and the shows overarching plot is actually very good.

Twilight Zone is the epitome of the Monster of the Week format.

Twilight Zone is a TV show where every episode has a different premise, which is usually either dark, or insightful, or both. The episodes usually contain a nice twist as well, such as book-loving who survives the nuclear apocalypse accidentally breaks his reading glasses. If you haven’t ever seen this show I definitely recommend looking up the episodes that are well referenced in pop culture and watching them.

Finally, the show that convinced me to write this post was Supernatural.

This show follows two brothers who roam across the country purging the supernatural entities that they find. What is great about this show is that every episode showcases a different creature of actual folklore or they have an episode about urban legends. It is just really cool to see their versions of vampires and werewolves, and also how they take care of Bloody Mary.

Knowledge of My Ancestors

If somebody were to go up to me right now and offer a million dollars to name 5 vacations that my parents went on before I was born I would not have 1 million dollars.

I honestly don’t know most of what my parents did or said before I was born. I mean sure, there are a few tapes of important times like their wedding but those are special days and people don’t act entirely natural. At the end of the day I don’t know what my mom’s 11th grade history project was. I don’t know how my dad played video games. I don’t know what Grandpa Joe’s (Disclaimer: I don’t have a Grandpa Joe) family barbecues looked like.

And here is where it gets weird, my children will. I’m pretty sure all of the children in the next generation will. If I stream video games (Oh wait I already am) my children will get to see an archive of me doing a completely mundane task, they will get to see a pretty unaltered young adult Maxwell. The video project I had to do for history class was uploaded to YouTube a couple of years ago. My social media is probably going to hang around on the internet for years to come.

In the movies of the next generation, when they have a scene where a parent passes, the protagonist won’t go to the parent’s closet and look through their old videotapes of their wedding. The scene will depict the protagonist as getting on their laptop, logging into facebook, checking out their parent’s wall and scrolling down until they see nothing left.

My children are going to see this blog, which is crazy because if I was one generation too early I would have to type this on paper and store it in my closet or under my bed. If they get bored in high school they can look at my blog and then post on Twitter “My old man was so dorky he wrote a blog post about vermicelli when he was younger #vintage.” Jokes on them, nobody is going to retweet that.

My Favorite Food

Vermicelli.

I thought about doing an elaborate intro, maybe having a story coupled with some witty punchline, but neigh, vermicelli is to be treated with respect and honor.

What is vermicelli?

It’s a rice noodle that does well to be served cold, but what really makes it great is if you top it with carrots, and mint, and nuts, and onion, and cucumbers, and sprouts, and finally a nice grilled meat, like pork or shrimp (why not both?). All of that is then smothered in fish sauce. It is one of the best things ever created

When I first had vermicelli, I didn’t like it. I can make excuses and say that I just wasn’t feeling down to try new things that day, but I know what the real reason was. I won’t deny that when I was young I was a really picky eater.

I didn’t like onion, I didn’t like tomato, I didn’t like mint, I didn’t like cucumber, I didn’t like avocado. Over the years my pickiness has gone away, in fact it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say that it reversed. I have started eating straight avocado. Every dish I cook now probably has onion in it. In the past few years I can’t think of a food that I don’t like.

Back to the vermicelli though, I really love it. It’s hardy, it’s tasty, it’s not absolutely unhealthy (though I won’t deny, with all that fish oil it probably isn’t the healthiest). I know this seems like a very strange rant, but if you haven’t had vermicelli, I would suggest you try it.

Hanlon’s Razor

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
-Hanlon’s Razor

Have you ever driven a car?

Have you ever been at a stop light and the light just changes? You don’t recognize it immediately so the driver behind you hits their horn?
What the Heck! I wasn’t even sitting here for that long! This person is trying to make my life miserable, how do they expect me to react to the light that fast! I know, I’ll drive real slow, maybe randomly brake a few times, that’ll give ’em something to honk about.

Have you ever been at a stop light and your child is starting to have a temper tantrum in the back seat because their shoe fell off. So at the stopped light you turn around and help get their shoe back on, and then without turning back around to look at the steering you put your hand where you think the steering wheel is. And then you accidentally lay it on the horn. You whip back forward.
Oh, the light is green, hopefully it hasn’t been like that for a while, that would be awkward. Why is this guy in front of me driving like an idiot?

I don’t condone bad driving, but I also don’t condone getting angry on the road, it doesn’t help anyone.

A razor is a philosophical tool (not the one to shave your beard) that is basically a generalized rule that works MOST (but not all) of the time. One of the most popular of the razors is Occam’s razor, which stated simply, “It probably isn’t that complicated.”

My favorite of the razors is the one above, Hanlon’s razor. It basically just states, don’t take it personally. I really don’t want this blog to be an inspirational or life blog, so I don’t want to give all the random confidence boosting advice, that isn’t what this razor is for.

This razor is the epitome of humans make errors. Be the bigger person.

It is all about intention. If you can’t prove intention at all, AKA two cars driving down the road, then you shouldn’t take things personally when someone else makes a mistake. Sure it is alright to be flustered, but to retaliate against an opposition that doesn’t even realize it wronged you only makes the situation worse.