Monthly Archives: October 2020

How much of us is just our habits?


Photo by fauxels from Pexels

A long time ago, I think back in secondary school, I read a book (I think it was a book) that briefly dwelt on the idea of your “filter” having a huge influence on how you come off as. If you just say all the nasty stuff that pops, I think even in the heads of nice people from time to time, you’re going to come off as a lot meaner person than you would otherwise be perceived as.

I think, there’s a lot more habits than just your filter which influence our personality. I heard a few times that the book how to win friends and influence, recommends when you meet someone new to stick some effort into remembering their name and two or so facts about them. This way when you meet them again you can ask them something about the facts you remembered which might make the person think you care about them (which is often a good thing). A habit like this would, I think, influence your personality quite a bit.

I kind of wonder how big of an effect habits can have on you. I think I remember reading some earlier works in psychology focused on habits quite a lot. Some of them even going so far as to declare our personality is just our habits. That we are just what’ve been conditioned to be… Well guess I’ve got some more reading to do.

My two types of thoughts (active and passive thoughts)


Image from Pexels

I sometimes notice that I’ve basically got two types of thoughts. Let’s call them active and passive thoughts for now. Active thoughts are my thoughts, where I feel I’m actively deciding to think these thoughts, whereas passive thoughts are, well, passive. They just pop into my head. no effort required.

I don’t always notice the difference between the two of them. I think I notice the difference most when I’m trying to speak fairly loudly. Then active thoughts feel louder in my head, whereas the passive thoughts are still pretty quiet. I don’t know if this is always the case, I only remember such details from the most recent time I noticed this. That time I was trying to speak to someone while we were walking in a park.

I also remember I noticed these types of thoughts a few times a long time ago. Back in secondary school I one time described the passive thoughts as someone, kind of giving me the
answers to certain test questions and one of my fellow students asked a bit more questions and I did admit it was probably just my own thoughts. Back then, I was also very into star wars and eventually started to think of my passive thoughts as a long-dead Jedi knight who was being reborn in my body… I don’t think I actually believed this most of the time, but it was an entertaining thought.

I also described these types of thoughts to a friend once during University. I think not much after I noticed the difference between them again. He was quite interested, but I don’t think the conversation lead me to any new insights.

I quickly googled (or in my case ecosia’d, since that’s my default search engine) a bit while writing this. Just to have a look if other people have written about this as well. Turns out they have, so maybe I’ll write another blogpost about this with some perspectives from other people (or maybe even some research into the phenomena).

Rules for interaction (not really)


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

A few years back I had a quite long list of guidelines I wanted people to follow when commenting on this blog. I’ve since changed them (or maybe I never posted them at all, I don’t recall), but they still seem like good guidelines for (online) interaction so here’s the list:

  1. Don’t overgeneralize about groups or humanity as a whole. Sure some or most people might fit a certain generalization but it could come off as quite offensive to the ones who don’t fit the generalization (and some who do). You could get around this by just adding the word most,  but I don’t know how different most x are bla comes off from x are bla.
  2. Try not to argue (about politics) when you’re getting emotional. Try to get a good night’s sleep and see if you can approach things more rationally. This because to me it seems like getting angry at each other during an argument isn’t fun. Originally I also applied this rule to other emotions and though I can see how it not following this rule might lead people to adopt different conclusions then they would if they followed it, I can see how those different conclusions could be valuable now. Heck, even anger can be motivational and get people in your in-group to do something. When you’re speaking in front of an audience, where the people just watching the conversation and getting popcorn outnumber the people who’ll be frustrated by a shouting match, getting into an angry argument could be just fine.
  3. To some people, political jokes are only funny when you share a point of view and some people just have a different sense of humor. Not really a rule but something to be aware of.

I had more guidelines at the time, but what I left out were redundant guidelines which are already covered by the other ones and one which I think wasn’t very useful.

How I lost quite a bit of weight


Over the last 6 months, I lost quite a bit of weight (almost 10 kg or 22lbs since June, but I started losing weight before I kept track too). A lot of it was due to no longer being on meds that have increased appetite as a side effect (am unfortunately back on them) but some of it is due to my efforts.

One of the things I did was get healthier staples. I didn’t have any and what I ate was fairly unhealthy, so for me, almost any staple would have been an improvement. I settled on menemen, pesto sandwiches, brown bread with PB&J (very light on the jelly), protein bars and yoghurt (what I put in yoghurt I switch often depending on what’s in the fridge or what I’m in the mood for). I used these as lunch and breakfast staples. This reduced the unhealthy stuff I’d sometimes eat for breakfast, like bread with Nutella or other sugary stuff.

Additionally, when I was really in the mood for sweets, I either took a healthy-ish sweet like yoghurt/custard, or took something small but delicious like one chocolate truffle or one piece of orange and almond filled dark chocolate.

With yoghurt/custard, I bought both a healthy variant (low in sugar and high in protein) and a less healthy one. When I ate yoghurt I mixed the healthy and unhealthy variants and slowly decreased the percentage of unhealthy yoghurt in this mix. This way I was I could get used to less sweet yoghurt in a very incremental way.

I didn’t always give in to my sweet tooth either. I know my desires for food are fickle, so sometimes I waited for a healthy craving to come along and satisfy it rather than my sweet tooth.

A last thing I did was keeping track of what I ate on the website of the Voedingcentrum (a foundation subsidised by the Dutch government, with the goal of informing the public about nutrition). This helped me see what I ate so I could for example notice that one chocolate truffle is about the same amount of calories as a small bowl of yoghurt. Knowing what things cost in terms of calories helped me make more informed food decisions. It also helped me notice when
sugar consumption in the previous days was causing more sugar cravings in the present. This way I could cut back on sugar in time to prevent a slide back into heavy sugar consumption.

For people who don’t know Dutch, there might be something similar to the Voedingscentrum where you’re at. If there isn’t you can try chronometer, a for-profit company which also lets you track your nutrition. I tried it for a while too and, to me, it seems more user friendly (you can copy and paste food you ate and it gives you in my opinion better graphs) than the Voedingscentrum’s nutrition tracker, but in exchange, you have to pay if you want to download your data and there’s a lot of other features locked behind a paywall too.

I hope this was helpful to some of you and that these techniques will be as helpful to you as they were to me.

How to make a pesto sandwich


This is a recipe which I found online and really liked. I just made one small tweak to fit the recipe to the ingredients I generally use. So take a look at the original, for Becoming Betty deserves the credit for this delicious thing.

Ingredients:

1 Oven pistolet

15 to 25 grams of pesto

40 to 65 grams of mozzarella

1 tomato

a dash of pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 °C (392 °F).

Slice the pistolet and bake it for about 5 minutes on an oven-safe plate.

After baking the pistolet for a bit carefully transfer the pistolet to a cooler plate and spread pesto on the bottom half (this is a slight diversion from the original recipe. I spread pesto only on the bottom half of the sandwich, at first. This is because my sandwich needs to go into the oven longer to finish baking the pistolet. The pesto on the bottom will be somewhat protected by tomato and mozzarella so it can stay, but if I put pesto on the top half now, it will burn while in the oven).  Wash and slice a tomato and put it atop the pesto covered bottom half of the pistolet. Then slice some mozzarella and put it on top of the tomato. Add a dash of pepper and put the sandwich and put it back into the oven, for another 5 minutes. Once It’s done transfer to the cooler plate again. Add pesto to the top half of the sandwich and you’re done.

Hope you enjoy this meal, which I find quite delicious.

We ignored the hypocrite


Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels The stock photo site didn’t say who the woman is and this poem is of course not about her

We ignored the hypocrite for she went skiing while knowing the harm

We ignored the hypocrite for she travels while railing against coal

We ignored the hypocrite for she ate a burger one time despite what she believes

We ignored the hypocrite and now the world is gone

This poem might not have been that good. I wanted to make one about how it is hard to fully live by your ideals. Basically everyone with a lot of ideas about how society could be function better is going to be a hypocrite at some point but that it is important to still try, and not give up on good believes because you can’t fully live them. I don’t think that really came across or at all in this poem. Maybe just a harsh version of the gist.

Dream journal: the one where I’m a woman (Content warning suicide)


Photo by Arthur Ogleznev from Pexels

Quite a long time ago I had a dream where I was a woman (not my gender outside of the dream). I don’t think I recall what I looked like, besides fairly slim and I might have been wearing a dress.

I was at a party, having a good time or maybe not (I don’t remember many details about this dream, because I had it years ago and I didn’t keep a dream journal yet). I think I just watched one conversation evolve, not getting involved myself.

After a bit, I left alone. I think I took my car and just drove away. Over at the party, there had been an orange lamp on the wall, but most of the scene was pretty dark. Now the orange was slowly taking over as I continued driving.

Then I arrived at a cliff. Here the orange was at its brightest, the morning sun had conquered the shadows of the night. I got out of the car and jumped off the cliff.

The suicide wasn’t out of the ordinary for me. In the past, I have often had thoughts about suicide and though I didn’t usually dream about it, it didn’t seem surprising.

I don’t think I thought much of the fact I was a woman in the dream, even thought it was a fairly good experience. Maybe I thought nothing of it because of the nature of dreams, or because at least at the time I didn’t care what gender I was. I think now I might care a little bit, just lucky I was born in a matching body.

I think what did strike me was that I wasn’t myself in this dream, something I had at least not noticed being the case before this one.

I also don’t think I believed you could grasp any special meaning from dreams. However, about a month ago, I heard dreams aren’t all random either. In the Netflix docuseries The Mind, Explained, I learned that the emotions of the day can have quite an impact on what you dream about. Citizens of Germany during Hitler’s rule, for example, had a lot of very dark dreams.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was having plenty of luck, remembering and writing down my dreams. Now unfortunately not so much. So, I can’t examine if my emotions too have quite the impact on my dreams.

Despite that, I did find it odd that the episode stated that only 5% of peoples dreams take place in locations the dreamer doesn’t recognize. To me, this seemed very low, so I checked my journal for a bit and though my dreams take place in unknown places a lot more than 5% of the time, my initial guess, of almost all maybe 90%, is also probably wrong.

Dreams can be pretty interesting.

An Old Post | Start of the Spectre of Delusion


Something I didn’t post back in 2016 because I didn’t have the energy to polish it. This might get a bit confusing (very appropriate), since I’ve tried this before, in May 2016, but failed to publish it then. I kept the intro I wrote back then in this post (just to torture you, jk). Some context, Daphne was my girlfriend when I was 10 or so years old.


For me the Daphne period of life has ended. I think I can let go of the pain now. It did produce quite a spurt of creativity inside me. I wrote in a diary and in a notebook plus a thing I shouldn’t mention. The work might be too unstructured to properly publish or even make into something decent. So now I leave you, dear reader and myself, with one the last post that was actually one of the first things I wrote after hearing of Daphne’s death.

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I calmed down again since I’ve written my last post. Of course I still feel some grief, but it’s now mostly present in the back of my mind, instead of consuming almost every moment, like it’s done in the past two days.

When I first found out about Daphne I wrote a lot and talked to a lot of people about it. In that emotional chaos my dad showed me a page in a book called “Who’s who in the Ancient World”:

Daphne (‘bay’ or ‘laurel’)

A Greek mountain-nymph who was pursued by Apollo, and in answer to her prayer for help changed by Mother Earth into a bay or laurel tree….

The story goes on after this first sentence, but for the purpose of this blog post the mere essence of the first sentence suffices.

After showing me the Daphne of antiquity, my dad also told me that we have a Daphne plant in our garden. He said it was there when we moved in. But in recent years other plants have hidden the Daphne plant from sight and he thought the plant might have been dead too. The next day he showed me a picture of the Daphne plant and we went to look if she was still there.

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The plant wasn’t dead there was still something of the Daphne plant remaining. It is the plant with the light greenish leaves in the picture below.

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I think I’ll try to give it more space and if the plant is also dead, I’ll plant a new Daphne plant. Maybe when I do so a new Daphne will be born too. Reality of course doesn’t work that way but in fiction we can pretend it does.

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Here I’ll give a note from the present (May 2016), the Daphne plant hasn’t died. After my mom and dad came back from their vacation in Greece, my dad saved the Daphne plant for me, by removing parts of the plants that were blocking its acces to the sun.

In a way her death makes me feel the suffering of others more… I probably couldn’t have saved her even if I tried to contact her again. But maybe she will inspire me to safe some other lives. My first thought was to do something political, but the succes of such endeavours would always be uncertain. Today I was called by someone from the red cross. I have made some one time donations to them, and the person calling me wanted to know if I’d be interesserend in having a monthly “subscription” thing. I said I’d prefer not to since it’s often necessary to change where your charity goes depending on circumstances, however now the circumstances dictate that the redcross is probably in need of more donations than usual.  I think I remember the guy on the phone telling me the redcross is the only organisation with acces to the region of Syria. A quick google search falsified that statement, however I do agree that the redcross currently probably needs more money than usual so I’ve donate something to them.


Some last notes from 2020. 

  1. I now know much better what charities (and methods of giving) are more effective. GiveWell has a list of evidence backed charities. This might not literally be the most good you can do with a charitable donation, since GiveWell requires pretty solid evidence a charity actually works and some charities might have more uncertain but potentially bigger impacts. It is a very good start though.
  2. The Daphne plant is dead. I guess that’s ok. It was always only of metaphorical importance.
  3. This post could probably do with some more editing, but I probably shouldn’t return to it again soon, because of mental health reasons, so I’ll publish it now anyway. Might occasionally edit it.