Success Habits

Some Sunset with Trees
Some Random Sunset that has Nothing to do with this Post

I started reading Robert Ringer’s Million Dollar Habits this afternoon and just got inspired to make a list of success habits myself, before even reading any of his own. Only one came to mind at the time I started writing, which was to rise early. Then the rest of this list just sorta… rolled out onto the page. But I think they’re good habits that compound, especially if one is consistent over several days or weeks. I tried to be practical, with pragmatic advice that anyone can implement immediately (and I myself need to start implementing my own advice, for most of these).

I’ll just leave with a Robert Ringer quote from the intro to the book:

Put in metaphorical terms, success is not a grand-slam home run. Rather, it’s a matter of consistently hitting singles and doubles day in and day out. The individual who makes it to the top concentrates on staying at bat and avoiding the big mistake. Then, when that perfect pitch comes across the plate, he hits it out of the park.

(Just to re-iterate, this is a list that I made up, not from Million Dollar Habits.)

  1. Rise early. Wake up at 5 AM.
  2. Make your bed first thing every morning. It gets you started taking action and instills good habits.
  3. Some physical exercise, every day. Yoga, bodyweight exercise, walking or light jogging to start. Maybe some weight and/or resistance training.
  4. Eat healthy. The less animals, the better. The closer to nature, the better (including raw foods). Treat your body like a temple.
  5. Just say no. To intoxicants, toxic things. Cigarettes, alcohol, greasy/fried food.
  6. Clean environment. No toxic people or unhealthy thoughts. Healthy mind = healthy life. Healthy music too. Don’t hurt your eardrums.
  7. Learn every day. Read books, learn languages. Use audio courses, self-study from books, even YouTube courses. Just learn something.
  8. Get 6-7 hours of healthy sleep each night. Be consistent with sleep habits.
  9. Produce meaningful work, and try and contribute to society. (Grow a garden. Make music. Prepare healthy meals. Help old ladies cross the street. Get paid for some of it. Do some for free.)
  10. Stop trying to look cool. You know if you are. This includes music, clothing… social choices. Worry about achieving the goal, not appearances.
  11. Take care of yourself. This means caring about yourself, and loving yourself. How can you love others if you can’t even love yourself?
  12. Don’t make excuses or rationalize. About 99% of the time, the phrase “I don’t have time” really means “It’s not a priority”. You do have time — that’s why you wake up at 5 AM, right?

Tonight I ordered a plate of fries…

French Fries... a.k.a. "NastySticks"
French Fries… a.k.a. “NastySticks”

… and I didn’t eat any of them. I couldn’t do it.

Initially I just thought, “Oh, it’s just a little unhealthy, not a big deal. And I miss Western food, so I can afford to eat this junk, just for now, while I’m here in Asia.” (That’s a convenient rationalization.) Anyway, I ordered them. $60 NTD, around $2 USD for a plate of comfort.

Then I heard them dunking the fries in the oil. Heard the sizzle and pops of the hot grease doing… whatever it does to raw starch.

And that’s the moment that I realized, “… oh shit. I just ordered a plate of acrylamide. Cancer. Fuck. Shit. Damn. Ass. Hell. What do I do? I just ordered this, I can’t not eat it, not now! Plus, the manager might think I’m being rude, and I definitely want to save face, I mean, this is Asia.

Then another realization. What the heck am I thinking? I’m literally risking cancer just to save face? And with people that just happen to work in this southern Taiwan city that I’ll never see again in my life? Well, once I put it that way, it’s a really simple decision.

And I can’t eat acrylamide. I can’t risk getting cancer just in order to save face, that’s ridiculous. If I’d have eaten that nasty, oily, greasy plate of fries, I’d’ve felt like a hypocrite. I mean, I’ve been going around telling people how specific starches in potatoes, when subjected to high heat becomes acrylamide, which is linked to cancer. Plus, they’re just unhealthy as just about anything.

Whenever I think hard about what I really want to do in life, it usually comes back around to a couple of things: 1) Science & innovation, and 2) a healthy Raw-vegan lifestyle. How could I actually consider coaching people to better health when I myself eat crap like French Fries? It just didn’t sit well with me.

So, all this went on in my head as I sat and stared at those crispy, oily, browned fried tuber sticks in front of me. They just looked… nasty. I broke one open, just looked at how the fibers fell apart. At how oily it was & how the whole thing had undergone some chemical reaction in that deep fryer that created some things which were really horrible for my body. I couldn’t eat them. So I just walked out of the restaurant.

It was a vegan restaurant, and I believe that’s a good thing for the world and for our health in general. But it wasn’t healthy vegan, and served one of the most unhealthy things imaginable. Honestly, now that I think about it, I’d rather be eating healthy baked salmon fillets than to eat those nastysticks. (Note: French fries shall forthwith be referred to as “NastySticks”). But I won’t do that, for ethical reasons.

That’s the thing with the raw vegan lifestyle — it’s mostly focused on health, and people who choose that diet and lifestyle seem to be a lot more educated about health and nutritional requirements than people who are just vegan, for whatever reasons.


Photo by Daniel Go

WordPress 4.4+ — How to Fix the Disappearing Admin Panel in the Post Editor

Well, the geniuses behind WordPress did it again. Enabled a change that Automattic thinks is the latest thing since sliced bread, and forced it upon the entire rest of the WordPress world.

This time, it’s in the form of a disappearing admin panel when you write posts. Apparently everything else is a “distraction”, and when writing, the only thing you should see is your little text box and nothing else. Well, fuck that. It’s annoying, and most of all, distracting! The distraction-free feature is actually distracting the hell out of me and I just want to write my post with a standard static screen with all my buttons and checkboxes that I’m used to.

Here’s how to fix it:

Step 1: Click the “Screen Options” at the top-right of the admin panel.
Step 2: Uncheck the “Enable Full-Height Editor and Distraction-Free Functionality” checkbox.

wp44-fix-post-editor

Institute Policies to Avoid Breaking Hard Rules

Policies and Procedures?

Today I had a conversation that went something like this:

Girl: “Hey, can I borrow your laptop?”

Me: “Hell no!” (jokingly, but not really joking)

Girl: “I’m working on something now, so I’m gonna need to borrow your laptop. This font size is just too small for what I’m working on.”

Me: “…”

I personally have a hard rule about my laptop: no one uses my laptop. For any reason, ever. That rule is slightly bendable for one person – my wife. And even then, she has her own account on my Macbook, she doesn’t log on using mine. Why?

Well, it’s a tech thing, and most really really techy computer people are probably just like me, but basically there’s a lot of data thats… well, private. Like, really private. Like, $xx,xxx worth of private. For example, private keys. My ssh keys are stored on my laptop, un-encrypted because I ssh all the time and don’t want to type in a password every time I log in to a server. (Yes, I know about ssh-agent).

More importantly, private keys for things like FinTech (e.g. Bitcoin, Dash). Now, those are encrypted on my laptop because even I’m not that stupid.

Also, content. My own content. My disk could crash. Maybe I didn’t back up some articles I’ve written, or photographs that I’ve taken, or videos that I’m working on. Projects, plans. Whatever. Sure, I’m responsible for backing that sh* up, but I’m also responsible for not letting someone else possibly screw up my data on my computer.

Even if I enabled the guest account on here, I’m not familiar with how to set up a disk quota. So, I can either risk letting this person that I hardly know fill up my disk and risk breaking my machine, or I can take time out of my day to learn how to set up a disk quota, which may or may not work or be a viable option. Neither of those things are acceptable to me.

So, I can either:

a. Look like a jerk when I have to tell this girl, “No, you cannot use my laptop… “, or:
b. Let policy take care of it. “No, sorry, I have a policy not to let anyone use my laptop because …”.

This accomplishes 2 things for me:

1. It frees me up from making a decision about it. Once it’s policy, even I have to abide by it. So, it’s just, no, sorry, because policy.

2. I don’t have to deal with the consequences of breaking my own semi-rule because I decided to not look like a jerk, even though I have good reasons not to lend out my Macbook. Basically, it helps me to not look like a jerk. Even tho I’m not one — it would appear, in the moment, as tho I am being “mean” to this girl or something.

These things don’t happen with a policy. Sorry, it’s stated beforehand. Rules are rules, policy can’t be broken.

Another example:

Last night I went with a group to a local gourmet market. Our host had a birthday the next day (today), so a couple of the guests wanted to make her something a special cake. After we got back, the girl who haphazardly purchased a lot of ingredients (of her own volition), realized that it cost her so much. So then she asked me and our other roommate if we’d go in on it together — to help re-imburse her. She ended up spending around $100 US, so that would be about $30 each.

When she asked us, we were put on-the-spot and I made a quick decision without having much time to think about it, and trying not to look like a bad person/jerk. So I told her that I’d chip in. I was upset about this for a while, but I’ve decided to pay it out of respect for our host (who doesn’t charge us anything to stay here).

But originally, that’s not something that I’d planned or budgeted for, so I really didn’t feel good about doing so. But if I’d had a policy which states that I can only spend money if I budget for it at least 2 weeks in advance, then I could have told her, oh, sorry, I have a strict budget policy. Even something like “my wife and I” have a strict policy about budgeting funds. I would not have had to make a split-second decision because all things like that are already decided beforehand.

Just like when eating — I don’t (knowingly) eat anything that’s not plant-based or mushrooms/yeast. Living with that hard rule is actually easy, because it’s one less decision that I have to make several times a day over the course of my life.

Least-Expensive Fruit Stands in Taipei

A Fruit Stand in the area of Dalongdong Temple, Taipei City
A Fruit Stand in the area of Dalongdong Temple, Taipei City

Being vegan who likes to eat raw whenever possible, I eat a lot of fruit.

Of course, Taipei doesn’t have too many raw food cafes (any?), but it does have a lot of fruit to offer. tropical fruits and the same “regular” fruits that we get at home (my favorite is dragonfruit — 火龍果).

But I can get expensive to eat a lot of fruit, and even in Taipei, fruits aren’t exactly cheap (not like in Thailand anyway). So I started to make a mental note of all the least-expensive places to buy fruit in Taipei. I don’t like to use the word “cheap”, because of connotations of low-quality, and the fruit is the same quality pretty much wherever you buy it here.

Here’s one just next to Longshan Temple:

https://goo.gl/maps/MdJRfuvPjd62

Address:
No. 1, Lane 224, Xichang St, Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108

This one was the 2nd-lowest prices I’ve found. The lowest? Here, by the Dalongdong & Confucius temples:

https://goo.gl/maps/dndXBTXm7DC2

Address:
Lane 259, Dalong St, Datong District
Taipei City, Taiwan 103

To determine the expenses, I’ve used a simple test: the red dragonfruit test. The lower the price of red dragonfruit, the lower the price. Most of the fruit prices follow suit I believe, but the red dragon fruits (aka pitayas) I know for sure.

Taipei – initial experiences

Wow, just wow. Where to start?

Taipei is a bit like I expected for an Asian city. Small shops everywhere, no obvious zoning considerations at all, general Asia street smell…

I found a nice tea house in the Yongkang street area (Da’an district) while I was walking around and — wait for it — waiting for another tea house to open. Guess the early bird gets the worm? Finding True Heart teahouse was a breath of fresh air.

True Heart Tea House in Taipei
True Heart Tea House in Taipei

Like any Asian city, Taipei is bustling, always moving, and I haven’t really had the chance to stop and take a moment. Tea time was time to do just that. While drinking tea (a Taiwanese oolong), I had the realization that our bodies are royal temples — not to be abused any longer!

Also had a vision of what I want to become — my “true destiny”, or something like that. Very zen, mindful, and always with tea. Serving tea. I want to help people become more mindful and aware of the now, and take time from the hectic hustle-and-bustle of the modern Western lifestyle. Not 100% sure how it will play out, but I think that I want to have a tea house, or maybe a Zen eco-village, or both. Some mixture of all that.

In other travel news

I’m extremely grateful to have Skype’d with Brittany this morning. Haven’t seen her face in about 3 days, so nice to finally see her (and our kitty).

Finally found a café to settle down in and get some work done. Trying to just slow down from the hectic travel life (always moving, always things to take care of) and just focus on getting my work done.

Hostels can be both good and bad, and I think the reason most people stay in them is the low price for some value. But the money in running a hostel is in groups of people — the numbers. And for an introvert like me, forced group settings like this just… suck. Most hostels are not good for actually getting things done. So I’m looking to find a short-ish-term apartment somewhere in/around Taipei.

I also brought too much crap with me, as I knew I would. Too many clothes, bulky items that I brought “just in case”. Been down this road so many times. I know better. :/

Ok, bye.

Refresh Yourself in the Airport

When traveling long-distance flights with multiple connections, I always feel 100% better after refreshing myself, changing my socks and shirt.

I’ve found that it’s generally easier if I can locate the family restroom, then refresh in there. I’ll wash my feet, dry them with my Packtowl, then put on a fresh pair of socks. I also will wash/rinse my armpits and apply fresh deodorant, and change my shirt. The aforementioned Packtowl is wonderful when traveling.

I’d recommend packing a change of clothes in your personal bag, which I do.

But since I also don’t check bags, I have everything that I need with me at any rate, whether packed in my personal bag (smaller) or my carry-on (bigger, mostly clothes and laptop).

After a quick 10-minute refresh in the family bathroom, I always feel so much better, cleaner, and ready for the next leg of the journey. This is especially true after 6+ hour, long-haul flights.

In transit to Taiwan

The last 2 weeks of life have been a complete blur. I’ve been running around like crazy trying to get loose ends tied up in Arkansas, get assets moved around and re-allocated, and sell my big stuff (e.g. car) that I won’t need abroad.

Right now I’m in the Narita airport in Japan, about 80 or so km east of Tokyo.

And unlike my last short visit to Japan, this trip’s layover is only about 3 hours, so there’s really no time to get out and see any of Japan. So I’m staying in the international terminal, getting some food in my stomach and waiting for my evening flight to Taipei.

If I hadn’t already booked the flight all at once, I might have broken it up and stayed in Japan for a few days, then flown out. But then I’d want to spend quite a bit of time in Japan once I was here, see lots of sights and things. Maybe one day soon, before I leave Asia.

Oh yeah, I bought a one-way ticket to Taipei. I’ll be traveling around Asia, working on building my own living out values that I believe strongly in. Such as mobility, financial independence and freedom, and monetary freedom (achieved via FinTech such as Bitcoin and Dash). I also just freaking love east Asian culture, food, mindset, and the cities. Ah, … the city.

My wife is still in the US. For some, that causes heads to turn. Others seem to be a bit more understanding. For various reasons, she’s staying back in Arkansas, but mainly it boils down to:

a) the cat
b) her personal development

She loves her pet cat that she’s been with for about 16 years and doesn’t want to leave her. Precious (the cat) gets really depressed when my wife is gone for long amounts of time (over a week or two and gets really bad). Her health deteriorates. We’ve almost lost her a time or two, and we’re pretty sure it’s got a lot to do with Brittany’s presence.

She also feels the need to stay for reasons of helping certain individuals, and building her own sense of independence, which she’s never really had and is the next stage of personal growth for her. So that’s that. It’s been difficult not being able to communicate with her, but we texted briefly a bit ago. We plan to meet up in a few months once we’ve both accomplished what we need to.

I’ve got a bit of personal development to do as well, mindfulness being one of my primary goals for my own.

I just realized that I’ve gotta so see about changing my seat to an aisle seat, so I’m gonna leave off here. But since I’m trying to be prolific, just gonna go ahead and ship this one out the door.

Thanks for reading, and please drop me a note if our interests align, and you’re in Taiwan within the next few weeks or months and wanna meet up.

Crazy side note:

I met a couple (Jonathan and Rachel +1 cute baby boy) flying from XNA (in Arkansas) to Taipei, same exact route as me. Crazy. I never would have thought that I’d have the exact same itinerary as someone else originating in Arkansas and ending up on the other side of the world. Small world.

Ctrl-P to print…

Most people don’t think about how their websites or blogs print out. Probably because most people don’t print things anymore. But for me, if I’m starting on a long article, I’ll try and print it so that it doesn’t hurt my eyes.

When I Google related searches, I see people posting thoughts along the lines of:

“Why bother? Nobody prints things anymore.”
Those people are assholes inconsiderate, or ignorant, or both.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer over the course of my adult life. Looking at a computer screen, which emits blue light which is harmful to the retina.

I get eyestrain after looking at the screen for a few minutes/hours (depending on the day and how much off-screen time I’ve had to recuperate). So, in the interest of preserving my vision for future decades, I like to print long-ish articles.

There used to be an easy way to print things. Ctrl+P. Or, if you’re on a Mac, CMD+P. It still works, and people still print things.

But websites have gotten uglier over the years. Marketers have taught us that we have to use the sidebar to put an email signup form, as well as “tag clouds”, adverts and all other sorts of nonsense.

For one, it really degrades the readability of a site. But also, it makes web pages really, really hard to print out, if you’re trying to conserve paper and don’t want a lot of nonsense that you’ll just have to throw away.

Some people (developers) use browser tools to remove things they don’t want to see on an ad-hoc basis and print that. I’ve edited websites from 20 pages down to about 3 or 4. It’s that bad.

And this is really an issue of accessibility more than anything. Here’s a good definition from my friends Google and Wikipedia. They seem to know everything.

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).

This accessibility problem opportunity is also very easy to fix (usually). The solution? Print media stylesheets, à la the ones you can see here: https://github.com/nmarley/stylish-stylesheets

In summary, my real advice to anyone with a website would be:

Make it so that when a person visits your site and types “Ctrl+P”, they get a nicely-formatted version of your page/site that’s perfect for printing. That’s it. That’s the goal with all of my sites, and hopefully they’re all at least close to it.

Tangent: Sites should be “responsive”, which is an techie term. It means that when someone visits your site on a mobile phone, it should still: 1) look reasonably good and 2) be readable without having to zoom in. Not necessarily the same as the desktop version, but it should satisfy those two criteria. Also, Google thinks so too.

Just Do the Thing.

Zhu Li, Do the Thing - Varrick

Sometimes you just gotta Do the Thing you’re putting off.

After a recent serious bout of email anxiety, I’ve finally got to Inbox Zero. Tonight.

I wasn’t going to do it tonight. I almost left my house. Had something else to do — I still do! But I had been putting off emailing Valeska for too long. I had to at least get some momentum. Before I left the house, I had to at least prepare for emailing her upon my return tonight. Then I thought — no, I have to get started on the email. At least to write the initial greeting, formalities, etc.

So I did that — then I kept going. Just kept on. I had momentum, finally. It wasn’t so bad! I’ve been putting off this email for 3 days now, procrastinating both consciously and sub-consciously. That’s the scary part — the sub-conscious procrastination. I’d eventually identified that, and realized what my mind and body were doing to me. Well, mostly my mind, but the body acts in accordance with what the mind wants.

Anyway, I gained momentum and before I’d realized it, I was 80% done. Just had to finish! So I did. Just powered through it. Clicking ‘send’ hadn’t felt so amazing in such a long time. Then I was down to 1. Yeah, that’s right, I was still at Inbox One. Like Air Force One. Not really.

You know what happens next. Momentum. Powered through that one too. And this one had been put off for about 2 weeks now. And it’s not that I don’t like these people or didn’t want to email them — on the contrary, I really like and respect both of these individuals. Very much. But that’s what made it so hard.

Sometimes, you just have to sit your ass down, and Do the Thing.

When the pain gets great enough, you just do it. No more excuses. No other things to do. Just Do the Thing. And it feels great. Feels amazing, like I can finally breathe freely once again. Fresh air. I love fresh air. And sushi. What? Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, since I already had the momentum of Inbox Zero, and the wonderful feeling of having Done the Thing, thought I might jot this down. Maybe it will help elseone struggling with Doing the Thing.

Side note: If ‘elseone’ doesn’t make sense to you, please remind me to post my Proposed Additions to the English language note. I’ve typed it up somewhere and pretty sure I was putting that off too…

And now, I leave you with a montage of Varrick requesting that Zhu Li… “Do the Thing”.

ScreenCap Credit: KatherinaXC