July 31, 2013

Time For A Better Ride

It is time for a better ride, one centred on love and freedom.

Comic and cultural commentarian Bill Hicks was born 4 days before I was in the heady hippy winter of 1961. Although we both came to be teachers, my approach was gentle (and in a classroom) while his lessons from the stage were harsh and in your face. His natural talent as a performer, coupled with his uncompromising abrasiveness proved to be effective.

From the time Hicks was a boy of 15 he was on stage sharing his insights and serving audiences with not only uncomfortable truths, but also a good measure of humour.

His "The World Is Like A Ride" piece has always appealed to me, although it isn't really funny.

Enlightening, perhaps. Or with the recent attacks on other truth-tellers such as Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden it is more accurate than ever. As Hicks says in the piece that follows, "we always kill the good guys who try and tell us [the truth]".

Anyone brave and altruistic enough to reveal the illusion perpetrated by those who benefit from the mad pursuit of power and profit are discredited, silenced in jail, or outright assassinated.



"The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun for a while.

Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, "Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, "Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride." And we … kill those people.

"Shut him up! I've got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real."

It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride.

And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.

Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride.

Take all that money we spend on weapons and defence each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

- Bill Hicks



Today in my own country Hicks would probably be labelled a "multi-issue extremist" or "economic terrorist" and barred from entering.

Unfortunately the power of his pointed wit will not be unleashed on the sad state of affairs that threaten the people's desire to "create a better ride".

Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994.


Quotes On My Fridge




"Happiness can only be found if you free yourself from all other distractions."

- Saul Bellow

July 29, 2013

Truth In Food Labelling Monday

While current food labels give some information, they could provide a LOT more.
See below for a proposed alternate label that has big food producers shaking in their loafers.


If you are the type that cares about what goes into your temple, and you take the time to check, you probably find current labelling standards to be lacking. Questions remain unanswered.

A lot of people that like to eat real food are pushing hard for accurate food labelling, especially since GMO 'foods' are increasingly being snuck into products without diners knowledge. 

Polls have shown that 90% of Americans want to know if their foods contain GMOs, but producers are stalling in this push for transparency.

And whether foods contain genetically modified organisms isn't the only thing they aren't telling us.
Is the product nutritious? How real, or natural, is it? What impact does the food's production have on social and environmental conditions? 

What is needed is a simple, read-at-a-glance food label that gives all this information so shoppers can make informed food decisions.

Below is one such label being proposed by people who think that you can't have too much information when it comes to making food choices that are better for your health, the health of your neighbours and the health of the environment.



July 27, 2013

Hours of Life vs Money and Stuff

You only have so many hours in your life - about 657, 000 on average.


You can always make more money, but you can't make more time. There are only so many fleeting hours that we will be here, like the breath of a buffalo in the winter time as Chief Crowfoot said on his deathbed in 1890.


Figure out your real wage. It is expensive having a job.


I have enough money for now. I don't need more things.



Once you pass "enough" fulfillment goes down anyway - might
as well just stop there and enjoy yourself.


What I want are more hours of life, more freedom. I want to use more of what I have left of my 657,000 hours for things that make me happy, whatever they may be.



Bike rides make me happy.


As far as I am concerned the work-consume trade-offs suck.



Simple living is the path to taking your hours back.

July 24, 2013

An Ice Box Is Silent

An ice box is silent, unlike my fridge.


Because I love cooking, the refrigerator is one of the high-tech products in my home that I appreciate the most. Having said that, it is also the one that I dislike the most.

The problem with my fridge is the noise it makes. It is a constant reminder that I live an industrial existence captivated by conveniences. What if the power goes out?

In the winter of 2006 we had a wind storm of historical proportions that wreaked devastation over a wide area. The power was out for almost a week. It was wonderfully quiet for the duration of the outage, but we did have to eat frozen stuff as it thawed.

The rest of our fridge we turned into an ice box. An ice box is perfectly silent.

Around our home the call of birds and the wind through the tree branches are the loudest things that we normally hear throughout the day. Sometimes you can't even hear that... then the fridge *clicks* on, putting an abrupt chill on our chilling out.

Then, as abruptly as it began, the fridge *clicks*, and falls silent. I can hear the wind off the water, fresh with the spray of ancestral memories.

Mmmmm.


*Click*

July 22, 2013

Billboard This! Monday

What if you could put a message on a blank billboard? What would you say to all the people
who would see it? 

Back in 2004, before consumer capitalism began to crumble under the sheer weight of the greed and corruption of the financial elites (and aided and abetted by us, the consumers), antiadvertisingagency.com sponsored a small project to help fight back.

They created and distributed 600 billboard posters asking people, “What if you could put a message on any billboard? What would you say to the millions of people who see them every day? Here's your chance to say it.”

The following are a few creative anti-advertising billboards that were returned and that the project editors chose to highlight online.





















What if you could put a message on a blank billboard, assuming you didn't cut it down first in the style of Edward Abbey's Monkeywrench Gang? What would you say to the people who would see it?

Well, here's your chance. Share your ideas with thousands and leave your billboard message(s) in a comment below.

July 21, 2013

You Don't Need It




Feeling motivated to go shopping? Chances are you don't need to go anywhere. Maybe just stay home and play a game with the kids. Or teach them the most effective words to protect them from the futility of a life trapped in the work/spend/debt cycle.

"You don't need it." These four simple words have the power to change the way you see the world and your life. Since we have become infected with the values of consumerism like greed, selfishness, and the accumulation of material goods, the words, "you don't need it" can be liberating.

So what does one really need?

Strictly speaking a person could get by with food, clothing (if the climate requires clothes at all), shelter, clean air and water. While these would ensure survival they may not allow one to make progress in life in order to experience their full potential.

Someone may have the ability to become a great thinker or builder or artist, but if they are caught in a struggle to meet their basic physiological needs, they may never have the opportunity to develop their gifts.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow said as much when he created his pyramid of human needs while thinking about what motivates human behaviour. At the base of his pyramid you will find the basic survival needs. But they are only the base from which we continue to work upwards when these conditions are met.

This is what you really need according to
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow and other thinkers, we have a natural drive, or motivation, to progress all the way up the levels to Self-Actualization. As we self-actualize we become everything that we can possibly be, bringing the best we have to offer to the current situation in the present moment.

Some pyramids add a level above Self-Actualization called Transcendence in which one helps others to self-actualize and achieve their full potential.

Consumerism takes advantage of our natural drives, misdirects us, and presents distractions and roadblocks on our way toward furthering our personal development and enjoyment of life. When we see how we are being blocked we can say to ourselves, "You don't need it".

Instead, we can focus on what we actually need - basic survival requirements, safety, love, and feeling good about ourselves. This is what we need to achieve our potential, then help others do the same.

Maslow found that self-actualizers share certain characteristics. Whether famous or not, educated or not, rich or poor, self-actualizers roughly fit the following profile.

Characteristics of Self-Actualized People
  • Self-Acceptance and Democratic World View
Self-actualized people tend to accept themselves and others as they are. They tend to lack inhibition and are able to enjoy themselves and their lives free of guilt.
  • Realistic
Rather than being fearful of things that are different or unknown, the self-actualized individual is able to view things logically and rationally.
  • Problem-Centered
Self-actualized individuals enjoy applying their problem-solving skills to real-world situations and like helping other people improve their own lives.
  • Peak Experiences
According to Maslow, peak experiences are, "Feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences."
  • Autonomy
Does not conform to other people's ideas of happiness or contentment. This original perspective allows the individual to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty of each experience.
  • Solitude and Privacy
Self-actualized people value their privacy and enjoy solitude. While they also love the company of others, taking time to themselves is essential for personal discovery and cultivating potential.
  • Philosophical Sense of Humour
The actualized generally have a thoughtful sense of humour. They are able to enjoy the humour in situations and laugh at themselves, but they do not ridicule or make fun at the expense of another person's feelings.
  • Spontaneity
There is a tendency to be open, unconventional and spontaneous. While these people are able to follow generally accepted social expectations, they do not feel confined by these norms in their thoughts or behaviours.
  • Enjoy the Journey
Self-actualized people have concrete goals, but they do not see things as simply a means to an end. The journey toward achieving a goal is just as important and enjoyable as actually accomplishing the goal.


Now, there is a shopping list I can get behind! To me it looks a lot like a simple living checklist as simple living allows the time and head space for such pursuits.

Contrary to popular belief, this shopping list can be largely filled with little to no money. You can't buy friends and love, and most of the other things above the basic survival needs. You can't buy your way to the top of personal development.

Our system believes that we are motivated by engaging in our role as consumers, but I believe that is wrong. Maslow and many, many others throughout history, have pointed out that when it comes to becoming everything we can be, you don't need much more than the motivation and intention to do good and be free.

Our true motivation lies in becoming the best individuals that we can possibly be in this moment in time given the gifts and talents that we possess right now.

July 19, 2013

Disposable Income



We live in a disposable world in which stuff is designed to be thrown away after being used or used up. So we have disposable red cups, party hats, lighters, packaging, workers, and income.

Hold on. Throw away income? Who has enough of the stuff to do that?

Disposable income is basically seen as money remaining in your hot little hands after paying taxes and bills for necessities. It is "play money" in the game of buying things you like, or are nice to have, or establish your social standing, but strictly speaking that you do not need.

Although this 'extra' money could be saved, most people choose not to save seeing it as boring and staid. It is more thrilling to play the game as a shopper than as a saver. Until you go bankrupt, and then it's game over.

Savings help protect us from unexpected changes in life, and we knew that some of those would be coming. When Linda and I were playing at full time jobs we bought more stuff than we do today, but we never saw our money as disposable.

First of all, we worked harder for that money than just passing Go and collecting $200 dollars. Second, we saw the potential in trading buying stuff for savings and increased freedom. After meeting our monthly obligations we banked the rest of our income. Not everyone does this, finding the lure of spending too great. And I admit, it can be tempting.

Spending money is very easy to do while saving it requires some delay of gratification. While a country like Switzerland has a forecasted savings rate (as a percentage of disposable income) of around 14%, New Zealand's rate is only 0.1%, and Denmark's comes in at negative 0.7.

You don't have any disposable income if you
spend more than you make.

We resisted the urge to throw money away on frivolous pleasures by keeping our long range goal in mind.

Our plan was to live a simple life while working so we could save and eventually have a simple life that did not involve working (in a salaried capacity). Over the years we enjoyed tweaking our budget to maximize savings. We wanted to start our unfettered simple life as soon as possible.

We threw our money into our account, paid off all debt, and after about 20 years we had reached a point where we were able to break free from the work/spend cycle. Controlling our desires and delaying gratification allowed us to create the life we wanted to live.

Today we rarely buy anything beyond necessities, but we are enjoying life like never before. We feel like we are ensconced in a lush, protective oasis of simplicity surrounded by a desert of debt and flagrant spending.

If you actually have disposable income, the best thing to do with it is throw it at yourself and your dreams, not things and experiences that only provide momentary pleasure.

July 17, 2013

There Are No Ads In Nature

Photo from a beach on a recent evening bike ride - not a billboard in sight.

One reason I like being in nature so much is that there are no ads to be found there. No billboards, no jumbo screens, no seductive voices in your head telling how much better you will feel after spending a few dollars more.

I think that is why people like going to the beach - sand, surf, and a comforting, uninterrupted visual expanse of ocean. No advertising to be seen to obscure water, sky, or the setting sun. I am actually surprised there aren't floating billboards off of popular beaches (if you are in marketing and advertising ignore this).

Climbing mountains, or even hills, works as well. From a lofty perspective, everything below blends into the massiveness of the overall view. There may be advertising down there somewhere, but it is so teeny tiny that it is rendered insignificant compared to the landscape.

I wish the relentless propaganda to purchase were that insignificant all the time, but it is not. It is an expensive undertaking that has the power to change our brains and the way we think (or don't think) about what we really need.

The marketing and advertising industry spent half a trillion dollars in 2012 to blanket as much of your life as possible with pleas to get you to spend more of that hard earned, and dwindling, supply of cash. Wow - that is more money than people spend on buying birthday presents for their pets.

Spending on the mind manipulation of the population was up 3.2% globally, 4.6% in North America, 6.7% in Latin America, and 14.6% in the Middle East and Africa. No austerity there, although ad spending was down 4.2% in Europe.

Europe must be doing something right - perhaps they are aware of the dangers to their minds as free thinking individuals. It would be nice if the downturn in spending were because they wanted to protect their children rather than because of economics.

Research has shown that advertising is harmful to children and other living things. Advertising messages are carefully designed to stimulate (or relax) certain parts of your brain. The ad agency's work is lead by research in neuromarketing and other related areas of study.

Some psychologists have called out their peers for assisting advertisers in targeting children because of the negative effects ads have on child development. "Thanks to advertising", one psychologist says, "children have become convinced that they're inferior if they don't have an endless array of new products." And it isn't just the kids that feel this way, is it?

Of neuromarketing, which uses magnetic resonance imaging techniques to study the brain while high on advertising, Wikipedia says:
"... the perception technologists of the market are very tempted to learn the techniques of effective manipulation of subconscious brain activity. The main reason is to inspire the desired reaction in people’s perception as deeply as possible."
Eww, and yuck. How do these people live with themselves, and how do we expect children (and other living things) to stand up to this onslaught of harmful media messages?

I have never been "inspired" by an ad, or at least not in a good way. I am inspired by going for a long bike ride into the hills. Or plunging naked on a hot day into a deep, cool swimming hole on the river. Or watching eagles, osprey and vultures soaring on the ocean breeze.

The marketing vultures, that are constantly circling overhead, are going to have a hard time with me.  I am not going to let them pick my wallet dry. Spending money on things I don't need has never made me feel better, and all the MRIs and focus groups and galvanic skin response data won't be enough to change that.

Why? Because I frequently enjoy being in nature, the place with no advertising.

Just me, and life. No manipulation, no buying anything.


Some of my favourite trees that I like to visit on my bike rides.


"I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all."

- Ogden Nash



July 15, 2013

Free Yourself From Consumer Slavery Monday

Emancipate yourself from consumer slavery; none but ourselves can free our wallets.

Bob Marley dared us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, and reminded us that we are the ones with the key to the cell door. The bar code image above reminds us that we can be imprisoned and enslaved by the things we buy, as well as the work that we do to support the consumer lifestyle.


"Do possessions make you rich? I don't have that type of richness. My richness is life."  


By freeing ourselves from consumer slavery, which is just another manifestation of mental slavery, we  free our wallets as well. We break the chains of the consumer society so that our repressed desires of a more authentic existence can come forward.

Once free from the clutches of consumerism, we can begin to build the life we want - a creative, joyful, self-directed life. It turns into a project where your life is your art, and your art is your life, just the situation that Bob Marley created for himself during his career.

Consumerism and its slave drivers can only imprison us if we let them.

Make the commitment to not let them, to break free, and to become an impartial observer of your own life. When that happens, you can see where you are giving away your freedom and where you are serving your masters.

Then you can take your freedom back. Emancipation can be yours.

"The greatness of a person is not in how much wealth they acquire, but in their integrity and ability to affect those around them positively." 
- Bob Marley

July 14, 2013

Mind Full, Or Mindful?


Mind Full, Not Mindful

While I was fully engaged in my teaching career in the city it was difficult to go from Mind Full to Mindful. My head was crammed tight with things that always seemed to take precedent over taking quiet time. I had to do something before my head popped.

Adopting a simple life relieved the stress. Slowing down was "fast acting relief" as the comedian Lily Tomlin promised it would be. A less busy life allowed me a chance to empty my mind of clutter, strip life down to the essentials, and attain that mindful state more often.

Since I have slipped into a less complicated life I am more able to notice the bliss and the gift that is in each and every moment.



What is Mindfulness?

"Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience." - source


Moving Toward Mindfulness
  1. Meditate. Focus on the breath. 10 breaths to start.
  2. Slow down. Notice the subtleties of your experience here and now.
  3. Make things new. Try doing regular things in new ways. Take risks.
  4. If you get angry, observe your thoughts and feelings in a detached way. Watch the anger cool and slip away from your body and your mind.
  5. Accept the moment without judging it good or bad. Be aware of all the richness that your senses are perceiving. 

Read more about mindfulness here.

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

- Buddha 

July 12, 2013

Common Sense Is A Super Power


"Don't worry - God (or technology, or the Gods of technology) will save me."

At one time common sense was common. Then common sense became not so common. Now common sense is so rare that it's considered a super power.

We ignore what we see around us and the gut instinct it triggers, and instead choose to believe the same old lies that pushed us to the brink in the first place.

Common sense will tell us that 5 planet lifestyles are not possible indefinitely. That the ongoing social, spiritual, and environmental destruction wrought upon the world in the name of profits before everything else is leading us to an appointment with collapse.

The disasters are mounting. The Canadian tar sands are an ongoing disaster, the weather is mighty suspect lately, and the rich are getting richer at a faster rate while the rest of us are heading in the opposite direction.

Catastrophic flooding, endless war, runaway oil trains exploding and wiping out a small town with great loss of life, illegal global surveillance, the destruction of the middle class - and those were just this week's headlines.

I don't know about you, but my spider senses have been twitching for a while now. That was one reason Linda and I began taking more earnest actions in changing our lifestyle back in 2001 - we had a feeling that things were not right and were likely to get wronger before they got better. We wanted to return to sanity.

How many more warnings will we ignore before we awaken our slumbering super powers and heed what we can see and feel in our bones? It is like the old joke which I interpret as being about failing to take action when opportunities present themselves.

A city is experiencing a terrible flood. A man is sitting on his front porch watching the water rise when a fire truck pulls up.  
“Get in! Everything’s going to be underwater!”  
“No thanks", the man says confidently, "God will save me. The firefighters drive away, siren blaring. 
An hour passes and the water is now lapping on the porch. A boat comes by.  
“Get in! You’re going to drown!”  
“No thanks", says the man. God will save me.” 
The water rises over the house. The man is now on the roof. A helicopter flies overhead.  
“We’ll lower a line. Grab it or you’ll die!”  
“No thanks. God will save me.” The man drowns.  
When he gets to Heaven and meets God the man asks, "Why didn’t you save me?” 
“First I sent a fire truck. Then I sent a boat, and finally a helicopter. What more did you want?”

It doesn't matter if one believes in a spiritual god sitting on a cloud, or the financial gods of capitalism sitting on the bull of Wall Street, or the science and engineering gods of infinite technical wisdom perched upon their super computers and rocket ships, we are going to need to save ourselves.

It is up to us to do what looks right, and what feels right.

The warning signs are there. It is time to reclaim our birthright, our super power. It is time to return to using our common sense and start making much-needed changes.

July 10, 2013

Spontaneity



After earning a degree in psychology, but before starting my training in education, I worked in a special needs program for autistic students. It was an eye opening perception shift to see the world from the point of view of my two key students. They challenged my ideas of what is real and what is important.

My autistic students disliked surprises. They disliked surprises a lot. As soon as anything approximating spontaneity loomed, emotional meltdowns ensued. I learned to stick to their program and keep things very, very predictable.

People with autism are not unusual in their desire for predictability, but represent the far end of the spectrum that is 100% predictable on one end, and 100% spontaneous on the other. Most of us fall somewhere in between, but most fall closer to the desire for predictable.

Spontaneity is usually interpreted by our structured, planned, and disciplined culture as impulsive and childish. As adults we are more likely to equate the word with spontaneous combustion than with being free in the moment.

Suddenly bursting into flames - not so good. Going with the flow of what life brings - very good.

I have found that the more spontaneous I am, the happier I am. And in a positive feedback loop, the happier I am, the more spontaneous I am likely to become.

It feels good to be free in the moment to follow our own energies and let life wash over us. The last time most of us allowed ourselves to be truly spontaneous was in childhood, and even then it is an impulse which adults wish to stifle.

Like my students, we need some structure in life to get important things done, like eating, sleeping, exercising, eliminating, keeping warm, and connecting with friends and family. The rest of the time we can give ourselves permission to set aside our rational, contained manner.

Predictability may provide the illusion of security, but one risks missing the possibilities of freedom. Life is vital when you release your own open, natural, and uninhibited self.

When we resist our own autistic tendencies, we can reconnect with our true spontaneous spirit and live fully in the moment. Who knows, great things may happen. Scientists often report key ideas and realizations "coming" to them spontaneously during periods of open relaxation.

Being more spontaneous leads to happiness, peace, and confidence. That is a good feeling to have at all times and will lead to shifts in perception.

Be More Spontaneous... Now!

  • smile at a stranger
  • do a good deed for someone out of the blue
  • get into your car through the passenger door
  • do something you have always wanted to do
  • get in touch with someone you haven't connected with in a long time
  • cook something you have never made before
  • go for a walk, ride, or drive with no destination
  • sit quietly until something happens
  • set aside some time to do whatever you want to do
  • skip work and go to the park (not near work)
  • hang upside down

July 8, 2013

Think Happiness Monday

Think happy thoughts and you will be happy.

Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are;
it solely relies on what you think.

- Buddha

July 5, 2013

Abnormal And Lovin' It

Keeping a foot on the neck of normal.

William James, the American philosopher and psychologist, claimed that the study of abnormality was the best way of understanding the normal. Considering I'm abnormal, I don't have far to go to begin my own study.

Come to think of it, that is what this blog is about - studying the abnormality of living a simple life in order to understand the high consumption, consumer driven lifestyles which are currently considered (by some) to be normal.

Is 5 planet living normal? Is it regular, standard, ordinary, common, or usual practice? Is it progress?

Using James' approach, we can look at what is seen as abnormal in order to have a feel for what we choose to accept as common practice.


The following are generally considered abnormal in consumer-oriented cultures:

  • Not owning a car, TV, mobile phone, computer, or any of the other standard consumer items.
  • Not working full time in paid employment.
  • Flying, driving, or traveling less (or not at all) in order to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Taking more than 2 weeks per year to have for yourself and your own agenda.
  • Living in as small a space as is comfortable (I have seen 300 sq. ft. per person mentioned as a good place to start).
  • Using your fair share (living a one-planet lifestyle).
  • Sleeping without an alarm clock.
  • Eating low on the food chain.
  • Considering the social and environmental implications of everything you buy.
  • Spending a lot of time in nature (enjoying it rather than exploiting it).
  • Knowing your neighbours.
  • Spending less than you make.
  • Eating with the whole family together at the table (without electronic devices present).
  • Seeking to do what is right instead of what is merely convenient or most profitable.
  • Voting or otherwise participating in the process of democracy.
  • Being creative through artistic expression. (dancing, singing, drawing, painting, playing an instrument...)
  • Following your heart, rather than living according to social convention, or your parents expectations, or whatever pays best.
  • Letting your body exist in all its hairy, funky, natural glory.
  • Living with less by practicing some or all of the R's. (Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Respect, Repair, Repurpose, Regift, Reject, and Retreat.)

Living simply, which is standard practice for most of humanity, is still seen as abnormal in some parts of the world. But not for long.

In those places that have experienced the gluttonous excesses of the past, excesses which have been normalized by the media, movies, advertisers, and pro-corporate governments greedy for tax revenue, will come to be seen as the rest of the world must see them already - as highly irregular and destructive. As abnormal.

For now we are shackled to the devil of modernity and the view that it is normal. But as William James warned, "the world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck."

July 3, 2013

(House) Size Matters

Be small, live large.


"To the average man",  says a post concerning penis size published on a semi-reputable medical website, "whether he's straight or gay, his penis is, consciously or unconsciously, one of the most important things in the whole world." ONE of the most important, but is it THE most important?

For a host of illogical reasons, size has been made to matter in several areas.

The most important "size matters" thing for many men (and women) it seems, is not wee willy winky proportions, but the size of ones house.

"Ooooo, what a big... house you have."

I come to this conclusion partly because the most viewed post on NBA since we began in 2008 is "Average House Size By County". I also did "extensive" research and crunched some numbers which I will share later in this post.

My house size post also happens to be the most commented (controversial?) with 80 + comments currently, including my responses. Comments still trickle in at the rate of a few every month, which continues to surprise and please me.

The discussion the post has generated has been interesting with various views being shared in a forum that I try to make as non-threatening as possible for all readers regardless of where they stand on the size issue. I am still talking about houses here.

One thing that comes across in all the comments is that many people have given average house size a good deal of thought. Usually, though, thoughts tend toward dreamy dreams of some day inhabiting a larger sized house.

But not always. A recent comment represents my best case scenario with a large house proponent at least being willing to stop for a moment to consider what house size really means.

"I just wanted to say that your post here has inspired me to consider smaller houses. My husband and I currently live in an 1100 sq ft apartment and are looking to buy a house sometime in the next year. 
I had myself convinced that we had to buy a house bigger than our apartment because that just made sense in my mind. I thought 2000 was an acceptable minimum and even then, only if we planned to upsize to around 3000 in 5 to 10 years.  
It's still too early to say what we'll eventually buy, but this post has certainly changed my way of thinking." - Anon

We are slowly coming to the realization that, like penises, bigger houses are not necessarily better.

It should be known by now that it isn't size that is paramount, but rather it is what you do with what you've got that is most important.

Small ones can be surprisingly satisfying if used skillfully. Houses, I mean.


The Numbers 

If you think that people are obsessed with size, you are right. In most cases we tend to believe that bigger is better.

But what is the biggest size obsession of all?

When it comes to web searches, there is no contest - house size has WAY more hits than penis size. In my wacky world of research, 'more hits' equals 'more important'.

  • average penis size 5,870,000 hits
  • average house size 307,000,000 hits

  • average penis size by country 483,000 hits 
  • average house size by country 257,000,000 hits



July 1, 2013

Cirque du Soleil Monday

Normal is boring.



"Being foolish sometimes, or outside of your comfort zone, is noble.

But what makes my adrenaline go is to really embrace the world around us that isn't necessarily normal."

- Krista Monson, Cirque du Soleil casting director
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