Monthly Archives: September 2013

#45 From Dabbler to Generalist, Ship Your Product

Once again I write from the city’s park. Now on a Saturday, I’m bathed in a mix of sunlight and dozens of different kinds of sounds, from groups of teenagers to the big wolf-looking dog in front of me. She reads book on how to create social businesses, and I wonder what can be of my new challenge.  There are so many things I want to do. But here, overtaken by the information overload of an incredibly busy Saturday at the park, I can think of little to do.

We’ve just watched an interesting series called polyamory, which, surprise, surprise! Is about the lives and issues faced by poly families. One tryad faces a new boyfriend of one of the girls, and two couples trying to get accustomed to living together, all four of them. Reminds me of how far most people are from freedom. From the mental freedom of even considering a life with 2, 3 or 8 people as an option at all. I wonder what would happen if the instinct that makes us want to be like others, and susceptible to peer pressure, were turned off. What would people really be like?  It has never been done, so we can’t say it would be like a !kung tribe, or a Californian republic, it would not be like a Vogue magazine nor a Miyazaki movie. Maybe it would just not be sustainable in the long run.

In social transmission, the name of that instinct is conformity bias. There is also prestige bias. Both of them make us more like each other. One by makings us more like most are, no matter whom, and one making everyone more like a few select people, who are considered prestigious by the majority, or whoever controls the media you most watch.

An interesting writing was brought to my attention by probably my favorite Fin. In that writing a distinction is traced between a true generalist, whose work is appreciated in many different disciplines, like Leonardo, Socrates or Russell and a dabbler, who kind of knows about a lot of things but always seems to be giving up one thing to do the next one.

The author’s thesis is that generalists deliver, while dabblers stop the work at 95%. The writing got me for a simple reason. I’m  a dabbler, and I didn’t know it. If a real artist ships, I’ve been living an amateur’s life. That is exactly how I feel about many things, and in particular, about my masters, a book I wrote mostly four years ago, and haven’t taken the trouble of finishing in these last two months when I should have.

#45 From Dabbler to Generalist, Ship Your Product

I’ve been meaning to this for a while, to go back to my old things, texts, my vlog, my writing sample for philosophy PHDs and so many other things, give them a final touch, put them in a box, and deliver.

For the next month, I’ll finish projects I have left near completion when I felt personally satisfied, and will get them ready into final form for others. I’ll begin by whatever is nearest to completion, and move on from them.

I got a new half-shift job, thus it will be fun to try to make time for all of it. The new job is, itself, turning many dabblers into generalists. They created an NGO and have a beautiful house and an almost sustainable socially engaged business. They are about to start shipping a better world.

Previous Challenge Tracking

Challenge #47 Share Your Goals With Who Shares Your Goals was hard to do. It is unbelievably natural to tell people what you just did and what you are about to do, specially parents and girlfriends. It worked very well, and I intend to keep my sharing of goals with people who don’t share my goals to a minimum. 

Challenge#46 Living as if Money Were No Object is not as complicated as one would think. You can take a job because you like,  regardless of salary and conditions, and to choose where you eat you can consider money as paper with no symbolic value other than as paper. I’ve worried less and less, and though I believe it wouldn’t be possible in the long run, this is an exercise I fully recommend to anyone. It’s even fun to think of money that way. 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic

#46 Living as if Money Were No Object

14:00 – São Paulo, Brazil, Thursday 28/08/13

I’ve just finished bike-riding in Ibirapuera park and decided to sit down to write on an exquisitely Ill positioned bench, with my back to a beautiful open field, and many trees, not as beautiful as the field behind me, in my field of vision. The sun penetrates my skin to perfection, a bonfire sensation entangled with the cold breeze that strides by.

To my left, another lone bike-rider sat down to play his flute, trying to catch up with the birds singing. At the field, called Peace Plaza, 11 French children are playing and screaming voraciously, competing to see who jumps all the way to the imaginary line faster inside big rice bags. At home, she waits for me, sleeping sound after a night of too much drinking.

Today I was supposed to start a challenge given by you, but I was given no challenges to draw from. Instead of being given meaning, symbols, and words to process, instead of the math, of the map, I got reality. Surrounded by mocking birds, pigeons, rocks and the occasional human ape, I wonder to what extend even I am not living in the moment enough.

I say even I for I have abdicated all the colossal forces trying to destroy the humanity that lies within us. All the buzz, poking, force-feeding, advertising, etc… I Don’t watch TV, have an adBlocker for the web, don’t believe in working for getting more things. Actually I’d rather have less things. A computer, two screens, and a lot of outdoor activity equipment, these are the material objects I’d like to have. And a unicycle, because… unicycle.

Many of the nice things about life are indeed free. It’s the fixed monthly costs that screw it up. Food, 400 bronze coins, health 300, supplements to live longer 150, house 600-2000 depending on a lot of stuff, internet 60,  pet 50-500, child 250-2500, non-working romantic partner/partners 600-6000.

God forbid you do the time-spent-working per unit-happiness-acquired calculations for things that are not worth  such as: bigger house, house in the beach, car other than the cheapest one, rings, diamonds, gold, guns, weapons, exotic birds, cigarettes, whisky, boats, planes, stuff you only see in 007 movies, lobster, caviar, stuff that the fashion industry expects you to know – I don’t, so I can’t cite – huge fancy parties (15-year-old parties, marriage parties, etc…).

All of those fixed costs may give you a spike of happiness, if you are lucky, it will last two weeks, tops. Positive psychologists have long known that reading a gratitude letter out loud to someone you believe did something good to you creates a happiness that outlasts purchasing a Porsche by 6 orders of magnitude, at least.

My flute companion has started again; the children are now trying to blend in by playing a little soccer. And I haven’t yet described my challenge, have I?

#46 What If Money Was No Object?

Four years ago I did a challenge in which I tried to spend 50 dollars for two months (for going out, eating out etc… not for fixed housing costs), I rode my bike everywhere and went to dinners with friends already fed, if I had not succeded in that challenge, that is what I would do. Since I have, I’ll twist a few knobs here and there, and for the next month I’ll try to live as if money were no object. Many interesting people, like Alan Watts, Keanu Reeves, and Mark Zuckerberg, care as little about money as they do about the shape of polar bear livers.

Join me in this challenge, and let us share how we feel about it later on. The flute man is leaving, and that is my sign to do the same.

Previous Challenge Tracking

Challenge #48 Out of the Armchair and Into the Field comes to an end with a very interesting twist to it. I decided not to leave on the day before taking the airplane, after realizing that despite having done all the effort necessary to take the plane and fly towards the Bay area, it was still not the case that I’d have a higher chance of living there if I did. My hypothesis that going sooner solves going later turned out to be wrong to the extent I could see it. I said screw the sunk cost fallacy and stayed! I’m fixing stuff.  Life is going in an amazing path, but too many things are going at the same time. I sat down to organize, and now I’ll travel only next month, for a month, return, and then finally go once ans for all.

 Challenge #47 Share Your Goals With Who Shares Your Goals turned out to be really hard to do.  The cognitive drive to tell people with whom you share genes your plans is strong, and sometimes they demand it (even knowing of the challenge, they don’t realize what they are doing), I do believe that in all occasions I managed not to tell, I felt better and it was good. So far what I’ve learned from this challenge is that it is worth it to try it, and that I should try harder to stop sharing goals with them, and continue with others. 

If you just arrived at fourhourscience, take a look at the first challenge as it is the only one you have to go through to jump straight on to the current challenge. Do challenge yourself on the comment section, and every first of the month, I’ll start a challenge chosen by my readers, and ask how they are going at their own self-challenges. Every 15th, I’ll choose one for myself. If you want to give me a challenge, make a comment in the most recent post, which is where I’ll get them from every 1st of the month. To subscribe to fourhourscience.com and keep track of your challenges, click on the blackish square on the bottom right that says follow.  If you are logged in a wordpress account, check the top left instead. – Neotenic