James Tang

Month: September, 2009

New Resolutions

– Write down all dreams. Hopefully lucid dreaming won’t be too far away.

– No TV alone. Watching with others is fine because then it’s a social bonding activity. Read books, write blogs, or work otherwise when tempted.

– Default to “yes” when it comes to activities or opportunities. Thankfully, I’m in a position where money is (relatively) not an issue, nor is time. I even have the friends and the organizations. No excuses, get out Jimmy.

– Actually stick to the workout schedule.

Monday: Ultimate

Tuesday: Weights

Wednesday: BJJ

Thursday: BJJ

Friday: Weights

Saturday: Crossfit

Sub any missed days with 15-14-13-..-3-2-1 sets of burpees (120 total) for time or 7-5-3-1 sets of 3x pull-ups 3x ring-dip 3x ab-slide for time. I’m allowed one free miss a week.

Ultimate Frisbee

We just had our 2nd IM game today. We played the other EECS grad team and rocked them pretty hard 11-2. Who would have thought that Team B would win?

I see this sport as being less running than soccer, yet more than football. The reason being that in soccer you are always moving regardless of whether or not you have the ball. In football, you stop running once a pass has been made. In ultimate, you’re always moving unless you have the frisbee (1/7 players). In short, the game is light hearted, tiring, and fun. Good game guys.

Tardiness

Being late makes it less fun for everyone.

It’s one of those rules I have always neglected because I thought the world should revolve around my convenience. No, the world is waiting for me and I shouldn’t annoy it any more than I already do.

New Pet Peeve

People who check their iPhones/Blackberry when eating with you.

Drug

If someone invented a free drug that induced happiness with no negative side effects (define that however you want), would you take it?

Yes Man

This movie came at Hana’s recommendation and it really gave me a new appreciation for trying new things. I remember reading Paul Graham’s essays before about “staying upwind” but until I saw Yes Man I didn’t have a visual image of what could result. One of the hardest things for me to do is try something new, to accept change. As relatively young professionals/students, we are at the beginning of our adult life. This means no one else claims responsibility for our actions except us. Truly embracing this is refreshing and scary. It means you can do whatever you want. If I want to plan to take the next year off to travel around the world, I will. It’s also scary. The thing I fear most is that I’ll dig myself into a rut and never leave because it’s just so damn comfortable.

As has been said so many times, do something challenging, something random, something that might lead to an unexpected fortune, and stop rejecting something just because you feel weird about it. Do it and regret it later. Surround yourself with friends and opportunities to try out new things. We live in the age where people are easily connected, ideas are abundant, and travel is getting to be less of a hassle.

Why? Because it’s there.

Sleep + Food = Energy?

One of my oldest theories about sleep was disproven yesterday. I was talking to Aiko, one of my friends I met in Japan, and she told me that Japanese people sleep about 6 hours average. I was totally stunned. In a few minutes, she had shown:

  • 8 hours a day is a myth.
  • Sleep debt is a myth.
  • Life expectancy is not shortened due to lack of sleep. (Japanese people in Japan have the longest lifespan vs. Japanese in other countries)
  • Energy levels do not decrease with 6 hours of sleep. (Anyone who has met Japanese people knows what I’m talking about)

I remember reading before that a vegetarian diet gives more energy, but maybe it also reduces sleep requirements?

(Vegetarians consume more calories than non-vegetarians, yet end up being thinner. Simple calculations would imply a higher metabolism per body weight, which just means the body functions better).

I also had this previous theory of calorie expenditure. Basically, I thought our bodies have a set amount of calories it can burn through before it expires. This was based off the idea that our cells make copies of themselves quite frequently, but each time it copies itself, the ends of our DNA strands don’t get copied, so the DNA gets shorter and shorter. I believed that having a faster recovery system meant that the body was able to replicate cells faster, thereby also reducing the DNA in our body, causing aging.

I’m totally confused now. Western literature and health recommendations seems worse and worse every day.

Self-Destructive Lives

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what life, in particular the meaning of the word “self”. From an objective point of view, this means my body and my thoughts. However, if we live in a subjective reality, then everything around us is a manifestation of our thoughts. Jesus taught that helping others helps yourself. He believed in this to the point of giving away all resources he had to people he believed could use better. Similarly, Marcus Aurelius says if a man harms another, he is really only hurting himself. So the question remains, how far exactly does “self” extend?

What about the idea of duty to others? Should I act in self-interest, or for the benefit of others. In an episode of House, we saw a doctor abandon her medical profession in order to pursue a happy life in cooking. On one hand, she is now living her life as happy as she can be. On the other, society had worked together to help bring her success so that she could repay them by saving lives. Society invested in her, by taking the residency at Johns Hopkins from someone else and giving it to her. Not to detract from the value of cooking, but I believe saving lives is a higher calling. By quitting her job, she essentially betrayed society. Can you imagine if a field medic just decided to quit his regiment during war times to pursue a career in farming? How far exactly should be live our lives according to our terms?

Should we have the responsibility of intervening in someone’s self-destructive life? I used to believe things like addictive drugs and gambling were fine because they were conscious choices and only hurt the person involved. This was until I realized that person could also have become the person to find a cure to a terminal illness I might get, but he didn’t and so he hurt me. Similar case with suicide. I finished The War of Art and he writes that each of us has a grand masterpiece within us that we need to bring out before we die, almost as if it were a duty. What does this mean?