Sunday, March 23

Uncle Jeff

I just doesn't roll off the tongue. But I'm officially an uncle. More details will follow, along with a couple pictures.

And I sincerely hope you're reading this off a news feed and not actually checking my blog anymore (try google reader). I might get back to posting at some point, but this semester is three times as time consuming as the previous one. Things are looking great at the moment and I'm making great strides on my 101 list, so I'd like to post about that. Perhaps soon. Till then...


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Wednesday, March 5

Gotta Love Bubbles

A myriad bubbles were floating on the surface of a stream. 'What are you?' I cried to them as they drifted by. 'I am a bubble, of course' nearly a myriad bubbles answered, and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as they passed. But, here and there, a lonely bubble answered, 'We are this stream', and there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices, but just a quiet certitude.

- Ask the Awakened by Wei Wu Wei


Sunday, March 2

Zeta Psi Step Show - Tulane University

Friday, January 11

1st Year Anniversary

Well, it's done. It's been 1 full year since I officially smoked the last cigarette of my life. I haven't posted on this since the six month mark, but I've stayed 100% nicotine free since. Not a single puff or drag off a cigarette, and now that I live in a city without smoke-filled bars, it means my lungs have been clean of second-hand smoke as well. Although I am a believer in personal will-power, I know from prior failed attempts that it's not a will-power over the desire to smoke. Just as you can't make a person do something -- you can only make him want to do something -- you can't make yourself not smoke. But you can make yourself want to stop. Cheap psychology tricks aren't effective. Neither are scare tactics. Those anxiety inducing techniques only give rise to one and the same urge they're trying to quell -- albeit in their own perverted way. No, what's necessarily is to literally reprogram the conditioning that created those urges in the first place.

Following a saying I'm quite fond of, "That looks interesting/I want to try that/I wonder how that works....I think I'll pick up a book on it," the title of this post, just as with every post on the topic, is linked to product page for The Easy Way to Quit Smoking, by Allen Carr. It looks hokey. It sounds hokey. I'll grant that, at times, it even reads a little hokey. But it's damn intelligent, not preachy, and works with wherever you're at in your attempt to quit. I decided I was being a hypocrite by giving up meat for my health and yet still smoking nearly a pack-a-day. But whatever the reason, it does get better. The first three weeks you think about it, the first few months it crosses your mind, and every now and then it comes up. But Carr talks about a moment when you know it's just done. Well, I had that moment at about the end of the first month, but it's good to say it again at the 1 year anniversary (and every once and awhile, for that matter): it's done.

Namaste' and good health to all.


Thursday, January 10

Day 10 - A Cluttered Life

One of the pitfalls in attempting to start up any new habit is the overwhelming shift that marks the initial transition. Cleaning your apartment once a week isn't bad. But cleaning it that first time...that sucks.

This past week has been extremely productive. But there's just a lot to be produced. The bed has been flipped, floors have been swept, flat surfaces have been cleared in the living room and kitchen, and the dishes are being done nightly. So far, so good. But I look round the house and realize just how much there is left to go. I still haven't been able to take care of all the filing in my office, nor the requisite shredding that'll entail so as to free up some space for said files. And, in general, I feel like I have too much crap.

I was sitting in my living room, staring at my bookcase and thinking when was the last time I even flipped through some of those books. There are certain books, academic and otherwise, that I'll pull down from time to time. And some are reference know, just in case. But there's probably a treasure trove of resale value lying dormant in there. And DVDs. I probably have about 35 DVDs right now. Why? Because the $5 price of some of them, either in Wally-World's cheap-o bin or used from Blockbuster, was worth seeing it once (and, at only a dollar more than the rental fee, what a deal?!?). Of course...I only watched them once. So, really, I'm down a buck, even for an impulse purchase.

The point being, the transition period is taking a little longer than I had hoped to adjust. There's a lot of stuff on The List that, once I'm able to get it done for the first time, it should follow again like clock-work. But I've just been feeling a little behind on the getting things done for the first time department. The title of this post is linked to a great article on beating the clutter entropy in our lives. Hopefully you enjoy it. As for me, I'm getting back to work (...okay, I'm going out for a drink with friends...but tomorrow...really...)



Friday, January 4


In case you know my good friend Kinney (or if you're one who doesn't read comments, which is fair), I thought I'd repost his comment in the body of a front-page post. I actually defer to his expertise in all things political. While we don't necessarily agree on everything, he's the most politically informed person I know.
"I have never really been inspired by a politician before even though I really like politics. You have to watch the acceptance speech Obama gave. It is amazing. I am fired up and ready to go."
The title of this post is linked to the video Kinney added to his comment.



Completely unrelated to lists or, really, anything I've presented on DW so far, let's just all gather under one banner, hold hands and celebrate the repudiation of Clinton in Iowa (and what a good word choice; click the title of this post for the news segment). Not only did Obama win Iowa, even Edwards came in above Clinton. Even such a whisper of hope is enough to let me sleep soundly tonight.


Thursday, January 3

Day 3

As you can see in the right-hand sidebar, I've included a version of my list as it was originally posted on Day Zero. In addition to the categorization and numbering, you'll also notice that quite a few of the items have a "(0/##)" tailing them. This is, obviously, to assist in checking off items from the list. Some of them are one time events, so no (0/1) is necessary. Once they're completed, I'll add a script to strike through them. But others which are monthly or weekly, etc., I will periodically update the numerator portion of their ratios-to-being-done.

Also, while I will hopefully continue (or, uh, improve upon?) posting about other divergent events and thoughts, I'll just title the posts regarding The List as "Day #". That way, those of you who have 107 feeds on your news lists (in both your morning and evening checking thereof) don't need to trouble yourself with mine. However, that's not to say I won't still be tagging the title of my posts to interesting and tangentially related sites (this one is to a great article on modest changes in our lives, a focus I attempt to maintain in developing my own list, with a few well-considered allowances).

That being said, in amending the list to include those quantifying numbers, I realized just how quickly the 1001 started up. Luckily, I've made good time on starting things I intended to do anyways (it sure does help keeping to #78). I figure the best way to stay on top of things is to create an abbreviated list of things I need to accomplish each week, month, and year. That way I can easily reference back and forth through them without overlooking one. I know, a little neurotic of an approach to simplifying one's life, eh? Well, like all good habits, a little work on the front side should hopefully make it all second nature as the days progress.

In the meantime, I'm well underway with the more mundane items on the list (#70, #81, #37). And Mardi Gras (#59) is currently in the works. I'll update you on that one soon. It should also be one of the better items for which I'll have some pretty decent photos to post and caption. So, till then...



Tuesday, January 1

Day Zero

Happy new year, friends! To jump right into things and ignore the absence you've been subject to recently, I'd like to share with you my new resolutions. Mind you, I didn't say "new year's" resolutions; these are simply new goals I aim to complete within the next 1,001 days. In other words, they're long standing habits I hope to develop in my spare time...101 of them. The reasons for such an undertaking are many-fold. First, 365 days is hardly enough time to plan for, work on, and undertake many of the goals I want to have. Second, many goals shouldn't be confined to an all-or-nothing mentality. It's okay to miss a week here or there in your efforts, so long as you have the ability to be successful later. And if nothing else, I'll at least be able to cross off some goals, even if I'm unsuccessful at completing all of them. So in addition to the purpose DW served before today, I will also be incorporating pictures and posts of these events as they get completed.

Some qualifiers: Many of these goals will need a little explaining as they come up, and of course none of them are completely transparent towards their intended purpose. In other words, they shouldn't be judged solely at face value. For right now, they serve as simply a guidepost to be expanded upon in future posts. This is also my first time undertaking such an adventure, so many of the goals which may seem worthwhile right now may end up being trivial. Alternatively, many of those that seem more on the trivial side right now may end up being my greatest challenges. Whatever happens, it'll be a learning experience useful when I attempt to complete #101. And just so it's out there, the stop-date for this list is Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

You can see that they're divided up by what area in my life they most serve to improve. Additionally, many give certain time qualifiers or consistency standards to live up to which are, again, merely guideposts and serve as simply a minimum requirement. If you're interested in a similar adventure, the title of this post is linked to the site from which I got this idea. I'll be updating the general layout of DW to reflect the recent shift in focus, as well as posting more about the shift in the coming days (along with getting started on the goals). But without further ado, here's The List:

1. Specifically save money in three different accounts
2. Keep finance records up to date
3. Remain under my envelopes per month
4. Put $800 away each month
5. Keep monthly credit balances under $300
6. Develop means for a passive income
7. Make a will

Purchases and Expenditures:
8. Purchase a house
9. Take on any remaining bills
10. Buy a motorcycle
11. Buy a good road bike

Lifestyle & Experiences:
12. Update my blog once a week
13. Spend one week a year in solitude
14. Grab a pint once a week
15. Be in a committed relationship
16. Reflect on how I’m using my freetime once a month
17. Recap each day at the end of that day, then let it go
18. Go camping once a summer
19. Try a new restaurant each month
20. Cook a new recipe bi-weekly
21. Take one not-for-credit class a year
22. Go to a play once a year
23. Learn to play golf
24. Learn to play the piano
25. Learn yoga
26. Go ice-fishing
27. Take a bike tour/weeklong camping trip around Wisconsin
28. Read one non-philosophy, non-fiction book a month
29. Read one fiction book a month
30. Memorize 5 new poems
31. Eat at the dining nook table once a week

32. Clean the house weekly
33. Clear off flat surfaces bi-weekly
34. Create a personal library database
35. Get rid of 101 materialistic items
36. Make a list of what I’m looking for in a new house and what I can afford
37. Clean my car weekly
38. Wash my car monthly
39. Wax car once every 3 months
40. Keep up-to-date on car maintenance
41. Brush Relic once a week
42. Get Relic a friend
43. Plant and maintain a garden through a season
44. Organize files in my home office once a semester
45. Organize desk and files at work once a semester
46. Make the bed everyday for a month
47. Do the dishes before bed everyday for a month

48. Pass Premils
49. Outline dissertation topic
50. Become independent of my second jobs
51. Teach my own course
52. Sacrifice independence at work
53. Keep CV current updated at the end of each semester
54. Get published
55. Keep schedules up-to-date
56. Time manage to create one day of rest per week
57. Attend an Eastern APA
58. Go to at least one conference per year

59. Make it to Mardi Gras
60. Make it to each friend’s wedding
61. Make it to Texas
62. Make it to Ithica
63. Make it home twice a year
64. Take a long weekend to nowhere
65. Get a passport
66. Leave the country
67. Take a family vacation

Health and Wellbeing:
68. Make a 101-things-that-make-me-happy list
69. Shop farmers market once a month
70. Work out 3 times a week
71. Learn 1 pack of vocabulary words a week
72. Volunteer tutoring or reading
73. Give blood 6 times per year
74. Get a real massage
75. Bike to campus every day the weather permits it
76. Go on a meditation retreat
77. Meditate daily for three months
78. Keep a daily to-do list
79. Do a years worth of 5-minute writing
80. Compliment others 3 times daily
81. Take my vitamins
82. Take one month of martial arts classes
83. Do home exercises daily
84. Do stretches nightly
85. Train for and run a 5K
86. Take a month off from alcohol
87. Bring packed lunch to work for 1 month straight
88. Go strict vegan for 1 month
89. Achieve a BMI < 13% (Currently 19.5%)
90. Be able to bench my own body weight
91. Remove all caffeine for one month

92. Call home once a week
93. E-mail home twice a week
94. Keep in touch with "My Five" once a month
95. Remember friends’ birthdays
96. Get a family portrait taken
97. Put up more pictures of friends on my walls
98. Write a letter each week
99. Have a dinner party once a season
100. Play more games with friends

101. Make a new 101 in 1,0001 List


Tuesday, November 27

Food for Thought

"Man lives on one quarter of what he eats. On the other three quarters lives his doctor."
-Inscription on an Egyptian Pyramid, 3800 B.C.

I'm going to take a moment and let that sink in. I'll be back with a follow-up post shortly.

Thursday, November 22

Happy Tofurkey Day!

Don't think of this as a "Thanksgiving" post. After all, I take that notion to heart that it wouldn't be thanksgiving without the turkey, and since I'm not having turkey, it's not thanksgiving. Philosophered.

That's not to say I'm not giving thanks. So I thought I'd diverge from my normal world of philosophical musings and far too sporadic life updates to slow it down a bit with some aspects of life that make me happy. While I sit at home, slow cooking a vegan chili and getting ahead on a few journal readings, here's a list of things I'm grateful for:

I'm grateful the fact that more and more people are accepting a loving tenderness towards the wider world around them, in whatever manner they manifest that, be it through striving for peace, environmental change, or more of a small-town economy.

I'm grateful for my parents' kindness and acceptance of others; their unconditional love not only for their sons and our many faults, but towards random people that pass through their lives in the time it takes to offer a joke, a smile, or a simple courtesy.

I'm grateful for my brother's loyalty.

I'm grateful for this white Thursday afternoon and for the smells of a delicious meal in the works, a cat by my side, and friends within reach.

I'm grateful for the opprotunity to do what I love without having to worry about money or tomorrow.

I'm grateful for the potential that exists in a moment's action, and the absorbing, persistent, fulfilling nature of Life once you make that first move.

I'm grateful for wandering conversations with friends from the past that pick right up where we left off regardless of the months or years in between.

I'm grateful for you.


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Tuesday, November 20

On Invincibility

If you're like me, you survive death-defying feats about once every three days. And I'm not talking about the tightrope with a safety net here; we're talking look-ma-no-hands-watch-out-for-that-semi! Ok...maybe not once every three days. But it happens a lot. Each time, do you wonder why your still alive? Seriously, why haven't I died yet?

I think it comes down to one of two possiblities: either I have catlike reflexes and a spider-sense for imminent danger, or another JBP gets killed and out of the two of us I just keep getting the lucky draw. For example, it's possible I died twice on the way home today. In the first instance, a car turned in front of me and there's a possible world (think, Sliding Glass Doors) where I slammed into the side of the car and went flying over it (cracking my neck as I bounced once off the roof) to land in a puddle in a world-silencing "hummmphck" as the misty pavement takes on a characteristic red sheen. But I, not that guy (who, might I add, has shared in every single one of my life experiences, only separated off in his own world), am in this world. An arbitrary distinction, right? Logically speaking, for any set of compossible statements about each of my close-calls, it is necessarily true that at least one of us died in that situation and that at least one of us lived. And the kicker is, there's no distinction between me being the one or the other. True, I have causal efficaciousness to this life, but I can't cause the other JBP to do or not do anything anymore than I can call him up and reminisce about that time at band camp when I (and, hence, he)...well, you get the idea. So, maybe I am banking my own life on both my catlike reflexes and my twin getting killed. But is the fact that I get to choose if I live or die any better in the long run? Since it's logically necessary (which is much more necessary than just causally necessary) that one of us dies, I'm killing him as I apply the brakes.

Who've you killed lately?

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Wednesday, October 10

Early Birthday Present

You may have come to the conclusion by this point that my life up in Madison is just a bit too busy to be updating DW like I did back in DeKalb. Or perhaps you've concluded I followed my dream to become an ascetic monk and burned my computer along with all my other worldly possessions (except the loin cloth) in a fire of liberation. Turns out, neither of which are the case, though admittedly this hasn't been on the top of my priorities these past few weeks. But I've abandoned and come back to DW enough times to know how it works. I just gotta start posting when the mood hits me and it'll pick back up as a regular thing in no time.

So, I've decided to post my annual "I'm a sensitive guy who likes to cuddle" post. Not to worry; this isn't another post about a homemade wreath or regarding a new hobby of knitting. No, this is a post about my new cookware set!

You can only see the deep skillet, two sauce pans and an omelet pan in this picture, but to the side is an 8-quart stock pot and a second, smaller omelet pan. They're by cuisinart, hard anodized exteriors with titanium alloyed non-stick surfaces and fully riveted handles. How cool is that, right? My parents were talking about buying me a new set for my birthday when they came up next month, but luck brought me to purchase it this past weekend.

Anyways, one of these days I'll talk about meaningful stuff again like my life plan and being an uncle. But we'll start with baby steps. In the meantime, in tune with the subject matter, the title of this post is linked to the post-punk kitchen's recipe for the best weeknight winter stew I've found (perfect for any variety of substitutions to fit your taste). So till the next, slightly more interesting post...


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Tuesday, September 25

Wanna See My Aparment?

This is pretty awesome, on the one hand, and sucks that I'm at this place in life, on the other. The title of this post is linked to the Stark realty site, who happen to be the deal-makers on the property I'm currently living in. I got word a week and a half ago that the building I'm living in, along with it's mate next door, were going on the market. These buildings are each four unit buildings, each unit has 2 bedrooms, and a full, unfinished basement with built-in storage units. You can check this fact on the website: both buildings were going for the combined asking price of 550,000. I won't go into some other details quite yet, as there's some dealings going on right now, but you'd either have to be insane or completely ignorant to the state of affairs in Madison to not think that's the best deal ever. Do the math (trust me, I did): each unit rents (currently) for about $700, there's a total of 8 units, and even with a 5.75 APR the 30 year mortgage is only going to require somewhere around 35K a year. That leaves you with enough for maintenance, taxes, and some wiggle room for emergencies/vacant units and still turns quite a useful profit the first year! To be honest, I was actually looking into a couple sources of capital this past week. Someone in my position doesn't have the luxury of being able to scrounge the kind of money necessary for a downpayment in that kind of time (give me 2 years, maybe), but as I doubt I've mentioned it yet, the building I live in is perfectly located and perfectly laid out. In other words, if I could buy any property in Madison right now for realistic and practical purposes, this would be it. Of course, following the advice of a wise old woman (don't tell her I called her old), I've in mind to start a little smaller for my first property. But it is a project I actually have in mind to do while I'm up in Madison. Perhaps an older, split level house which has already been converted for apartment living. I could either live in one unit and rent out the other, or, if a second project I have in mind turns out to be feasible, I might purchase such a place and rent out both units (aka, I would be able to live elsewhere...and no, unfortunately that's not with my future med-school girlfriend). But I'm fairly handy around an old house (thank you, 716 Broadway), and Madison is of the nature to ensure there'll always be renters (not to mention, I'm not in it for the money; check my overhead and a little wiggle room for unforeseens, and you've got yourself a monthly payment plan).

So, while the pipedream of buying this wonderful piece of property is out of my reach, the overall plan is in place to purchase a similarly wonderful piece of property in the near future. I'm currently putting together a down payment (yes, I'm just that "thrifty" with my money) and will be actively looking for a place to buy come next March or April. I'll be talking about both that plan and the consequences of the sale of my current residence as the deals get closed. In the meantime, just thought it was kind of odd that pictures of my apartment are posted on the internet (by the way, they're the latter 3, and you can see the matching buildings which sit on either side of the communal driveway from this page, as well).

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