Sunday, July 26, 2015

Better Late Than Never

Do I still think of myself as being a scholar warrior?

Well, I guess that depends on how you define scholar and warrior.

I'm a scholar in the sense that I'm a lifelong learner who loves learning, and a warrior, in that I consider myself to be a very tough person, dedicated to health and fitness and spiritual growth, and am always attempting to improve myself in some way, to be strong and graceful and athletic and also with a good character, but not a soldier in the military fighting sense. But if I had to, to preserve my survival, I'd give it my all.

Realistically though, I neither have a college degree, nor am I presently attending college, so can I rightfully call myself a scholar? Probably not. But I like the term, and there is some truth to it, in that I am a very inquisitive person, who also reads a lot, and is by nature very philosophical, and I suppose within the spectrum of multiple intelligence theory, I've got what you call strong intrapersonal intelligence, having a strong knowledge and curiosity of self, being rather introspective and as I said philosophical.

I write this post, because I've started a new project, and I like to report on all projects related to personal development, in that I've resumed my math refresher course. I've been talking about refreshing my math skills for years, but, not wanting to take any formal classes, have had trouble finding good books to work with, surprisingly there are not too many at the library, and the few titles they have are of limited quantities, with often long waiting lists. Also the problem with studying mathematics from a book, is that there is not much help, as far helping you understand something that you are having trouble with, without a teacher, while still possible to learn completely from books, it's a lot slower.

Well, I've had great success now working with the free online math classes on Khan Academy, and I'm not too terribly embarrassed to admit it, that even though I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, with an above average IQ, that unfortunately my mathematics skills are very poor. Somewhere along the line, despite being a high school graduate, who passed all the required mathematics courses, I lost interest in it, reached a brick wall, had a problem understanding some element of it, and just sort of gave up, as something I had no interest in learning, other than doing the bare minimum to graduate.

Okay, according to the Khan Academy, I'm presently in the 5th grade. How the hell did that happen? I guess a lot of it has been forgotten, but some of it I didn't learn. I had reached that brick wall, and chose to stop, rather than climb over it. But now I'm climbing over it, a little at a time.

You see I got this idea to do this from this self-help book I recently skimmed through at the library, about how to be a more effective thinker, written by two mathematics professors, who mentioned in that book that the number one reason why college students have problems with higher mathematics, is because they failed to master the lower mathematics. Basically, you can't master level 2, until you've mastered level 1. You might pass level one, but without actual mastery, each successive level will become much more challenging and confusing, and more likely to have problems with it.

So, I go on the Khan Academy, and just for the sake of curiosity, say I'll start at the beginning, right back at Kindergarten. I get a little sample of 1st grade and 2nd grade, and so on, and it's not until about the 5th grade, that the problems started getting harder, and I actually got a wrong answer. That's in the areas of fractions and decimals. So anyway, I'm making progress. And because I had already had exposure to this in school, I think I'll probably learn it really fast, because it's just basically reviewing what I should already know. And we'll see how far I go. Maybe all the way to the top. Either way, if you need some brushing up with your maths skill, I totally recommend Khan Academy. It's actually pretty fun, like a game. So much more effective than learning on your own from a book.

That's what I'm working on now, and maybe in a few months, I'll not only be back in high school, in terms of my level of mathematics,  because really I'm in my 30s and I'm way too old for high school so hopefully I won't be there too long, but also maybe I'll be back into my running routine and making some progress there, getting closer to running that first 5k. The only reason I stopped is because its been so goddamn hot, I'm telling you this is no place to live, except for winter, half the year you feel like you're melting and can't breath. Is it true that there's a hole in the ozone layer directly above Arizona? I heard that somewhere, but never checked the facts. That's something to look into, because I'm noticing that each year its becoming more uncomfortable to be outside here during the summer.

Anyway, that's all for now. Another, quite possibly overdue, mind/body fitness report.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spontaneous Poetry, July 2015

My thoughts
are so expansive
like the sky,
blue and deep
and penetrating,
a celestial fire
burns deep
within my heart,
like the sun
illuminating wisdom,
heavenly words that speak
in the telepathic language
of silence. . .

Sitting Somewhere Outside

Sitting somewhere outside away from all signs of civilization, in a park, or even if it is just a backyard in the city, if it is quiet and private with a lot of vegetation blocking the view of the street or other buildings and other obstacles to spiritual growth and contemplation, such a place, in nature, away from noise, it is for me the best place to meditate.

I seek it, and I find it, and if I don't, I suffer.

I listen to the sounds, watching the real world unfolding around me, clouds passing in the sky, a stream of water moving in the wind, forming little ripples of water traveling how it knows best, swimming fish riding the currents like natural born surfers, dragonflies darting through the sky, flying through the air effortlessly like surfers of the sky, landing on blades of grass to repose and meditate, palm fronds shaking like maracas in the wind, a birdsong peacefully soothing me, and all else, it's all very conducive to a meditative state of mind, not thinking about anything, emptying my mind, experiencing directly, understanding without the need for words, it opens up my mind to new creative insights. I have to do this, otherwise I become closed off from wisdom, closed off, dead, like a slave at the mercy of mediocre minds, lost and desperate and going down hill fast.

You've got to get out to the wild quiet places. To listen, to feel the sounds in the deepest pours of your being, not just to the physical sounds, but to your minds own response to being alone in the real world not yet destroyed by ignorant minds who fuck it all up. That is the source of wisdom. If you believe in God, you could say that nature is a manifestation of divinity operating at a physical level. Don't worship nature, but do see it as a portal to inspiration.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Descending Lemmon

I mentioned a couple posts down that before I move out of this city I'd like to ride my bike up Mount Lemmon. Well, nowhere near ready to do that. If anything, I'll just go up a few miles, and turn around. Need a lot more training, more mileage, getting used to riding at higher speeds and descending hills.

It is after all one of the most challenging rides in the entire country, with speeds potentially exceeding 40 mph, people have died coming down, losing control of their bikes and crashing into the cliff wall. Which means, definitely not a matter to be taken lightly, to be conducted in haste, without careful planning and preparation.

Anyway, to give you an idea of what the ride is like, here's an awesome video I found of a rider descending Mount Lemmon:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Movies Watched in June and July

Got drunk last night on hobo swill, was feeling sick for most of the day, but am now regaining my strength. Got to remember not to drink and blog, so if you've noticed some posts disappearing, now you know why.

Thought I'd post something light, about some of the newest movies I recently watched.

I get pretty much all my DVDs from the library, which means I don't spend a dime on any of it, (I'm the frugal living expert extraordinaire, good at saving money, just not so great at making it) so there's usually a fairly long waiting list on new releases, where it can sometimes take a couple of months to finally get a title, it's that delayed gratification at work, it's good for you, and that was the case with these.

The Theory of Everything

My rating: 2.5 stars

I wasn't that impressed with this movie, the acting was top notch, I'll give it that, but strangely Stephen Hawking's life story didn't much interest me. I think I'll stick with his books, where it's all about the ideas, without the personality, which I didn't much care for.

Inherent Vice

My rating: 2 stars

Another major disappointment. I found this movie extremely boring, way too long, and hard to follow. I also felt extremely annoyed with the actors, like they were all wrong for the part, and absolutely hated Joaquin Phoenix in this. I still don't quite understand what this movie was about, and really don't think it's worth the effort.

Wild

My rating: 2 stars

A female drug addict on the road to recovery, leaving behind a bad relationship, after the death of her mother, with absolutely no backpacking experience decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, a trail that extends over 2600 miles from Southern California to British Columbia, Canada. Thought this would be good, but it was just okay. Don't really see it as having replay value, and as backpacking movies go, I enjoyed The Way, staring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez much more.

Whiplash

My rating: 2.5 stars

This is the story of an ambitious jazz drummer in an elite music school's relationship with his abusive teacher. Not really too big on music centered movies, but this went pretty fast, kept me watching from beginning to end, but probably wouldn't need to see it again.

Nightcrawler

My rating: 3 stars

This movie was pretty good the first viewing, but lost some of the rush the second time around. Definitely worth seeing at least once though. Overall it was very fast paced and entertaining from beginning to end, about the sleazy underworld of freelance accident scene filming, where if it bleeds it leads, and the bloodier and more gruesome the footage the more money it pays. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, too, and if you know his work, he's never done a bad movie, usually top notch all the way.

Birdman

My rating: 2 stars

Didn't like it at all, but if you're a theater person, which I'm not, who is either into acting, or going to live plays, you'd probably like it.

Lucy

My rating: 3 stars

Very fast, fast paced from beginning to end, and probably a tad bit too short, I enjoyed this movie. Reminded me of the movie Limitless. A drug that makes you super smart, superhuman, and eventually expanding beyond the human form, beyond flesh, merging with divinity. Repeat value? Probably. Could have been a little bit more, but for what it is, it wasn't bad.

Interstellar

My rating: 4 stars

By far the best movie of the group. It's slow paced, it's long, but it's worth it. A dying earth, the human race is facing extinction. The solution is sought in outer space. Quantum physics, time travel, worm holes, interstellar space travel, the 5th dimension, or was it the 4th dimension? I don't know, I need to see it again, but it'll be a long wait. Was the only movie of the group that I kept checked out for the maximum time. This one will go down in history as being a classic. So much more deserving of an Academy Award than Birdman.

Well, there you have it, these are not the only movies I watched in June and July, but they are the newest ones.

Still got a couple more movies I'm waiting for, most notably John Wick, and have seen a few other older movies that turned out to be surprisingly good, but I'll save that for another time. Just remember if you haven't seen Interstellar yet, do give it a go, it's a great movie, I totally recommend it. Is one of the better movies I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Favorite Oasis

It's been awhile since I've posted here, I've tried unsuccessfully a couple times to post something, but it just didn't come out right, couldn't get my thoughts together, so it was a no go.

I've been majorly depressed lately, and opted not to explore that area here on this blog, because who knows whose reading, I could have locals spying on me for all I know, and so I've got to be careful. Try to keep things here more on the upbeat side, or at least grounded in the truth of a well reasoned argument. Got to remember not to say anything here that I couldn't live with being mentioned on the nightly news, which is strangely very easy to forget.

Anyway, I felt a bit better today, and had the energy to ride my bike out to my favorite oasis in the desert.

It was about a twelve mile ride round trip. The distance varies depending on the route I take, whether or not I choose to meander down extra side roads, but today I took the fast route, six miles there and six miles back. Was a good ride. Am getting noticeably stronger, and more fit. Probably the one thing to do before I die, before I leave this godforsaken city, will be to ride up to Mount Lemmon. I'm a bit scared of it though, not going up, but coming down, the fast speeds, the fear of brake failure, etc. But yeah, one day, I'll try, and keep trying until I succeed. And if I still have a blog, you'll get to hear about it, and see pictures, if you're still listening.

Anyway, getting back to today's ride, here are a few pictures from the park.

On the way there I spotted two dead round-tail ground squirrels on the side of the road, road kill. I saw two hawks, and one vulture circling overhead. And two road runners running across the street. One on the way there, and one on the way back. The second one had something in its mouth, possibly a baby round-tail ground squirrel. It was noteworthy because it's been a long time since I've seen a road runner, and here I saw two today, but I didn't have the camera ready, so unfortunately no pictures of that.

As for the park itself, wasn't too much wildlife there today, at least not visible, just saw some ducks, some fish, some turtles, and lot's of dragon flies and beetles. I photographed a few ducks, but today's pictures focused more on the vegetation, some signs, a couple selfies, and a little bit of the pond.

Where are the other people?

Ha ha ha. Well, I generally don't photograph people, other than myself, but honestly, other than the groundskeepers, I think I was the only one there. It was nice. Nice and quiet.