A Collection of Reading to help you Understand the World as it is Now, How it Came to be from the Dawn of Time and What to do Moving Forward…

Bill_bryson_a_short_history of nearly everything

Bill_bryson_a_short_history of nearly everythingWe will start with Mr. Bill Bryson as he has done a fundamentally wonderful job of making some of the most far reaching ideas and theories available to people whom you would more often than not see at the opening of shitty zombie films [Resident Evil NOT INCLUDED=].

It is a fantastic book that literally takes you through the first inklings of a universe to all the major and overlooked contributions that have brought us to where we stand today, which is the brink of global apocalypse… sorry, its just as it is.  Of course, as near complete species wipeouts have happened 5 such times, wipeout refers now to those reading, and not the planet itself.  It is a planet, we are small.  Dont worry about it [planet], worry about it being able to care for you.

Next we have Alain de Botton and his genius book, The Consolations of Philosophy.  After reading Mr. Brysons you may be a bitconsolations of philosophy by alain de botton aghast at the situation we find ourselves in and will need a bit of picking up, not to mention some insight into why possibly things are as they are.  For instance, how did we ever get to the point where it is completely relevant and natural to speak of a planet full of sun, rain, good food, butterflies and chihuahuas in a way that questions whether we have passed the point of no return for our species?

Directly below is a TED.com Talk by Mr. Alain de Botton, how would one say that anyway, Mr. de Botton… I guess thats right, fantastic talk, extremely insightful, given by a gentleman, you could only be better off for having watched it!

ways of seeing by john bergerNext, we have Mr. John Berger and the Ways of Seeing.  Again, masterful and genius, it literally walks you through history and advertising.  I bet you are completely unaware that there was advertising on a mass scale in the times of Kings and Queens, I was!  This may help you see, as the book implies, a new way of looking at what is being shown to you on a nearly daily basis unless you live away from it all.  coupled with the Consolations of Philosophy, you can get a very complete picture of how easy it is to manipulate a human.  Or, to state it better, how easily we allow ourselves to be manipulate.  Victim or Volunteer.  Look at the planet, you tell me.

At this point I wonder which is better, Schopenhauer or Gun Germs and Steel, I opt for Schopenhauer, you may feel otherwise, -Schopenhauerbut I feel after reading so much about the hows and whys, we should get personal and look inward a bit, a lot actually.  In his papers, particularly an essay aptly titled, “the Meaning of Life”, I have found much peace and understanding.  Beyond that, it will be a personal journey and if at first you find you cant get into it, TRY ANOTHER TRANSLATION, or read it as he wrote it in German.  Remember, when reading translations you must always try a few of them out, as I learned in reading the Tao Te Ching.  Different translations will many times completely alter what you are reading.

Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond explains a few things and truth be told, i set myself free by openly admitting to have guns germs and steel by jared diamondonly read half of it and then giving it away.  I got what I felt I needed, for me it was to understand the drive of man and mans ability to twist truth to accomplish utterly evil ends all in the name of god.  An extremely eye opening book, but then, with eye opening books, they usually only open eyes that have been looking to be opened and those that wish to remain shut never seek them out in the first place, kind of like going to a vegan bar b q in the hopes of converting meat eaters to veganism.


The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu, whom, to this day not much is truly know of the gentleman, his very name he attributed this Tao+Te+Ching_Monkgreat work to is translated as Old Boy.  Essentially, it is THE Taoist doctrine and is written in a way that the youngest children can read it, but the wisest sage may have trouble understanding it.  It is life in words, the entire universe in an almost poetic form.  This is a cornerstone of reading for anyone who wishes to become enlightened by reading anothers words.  After all, how often will you read a most profound book in this day and age and not be able to find anything concrete about the author!


Next we are off the the wonderful mind of Piers Anthony and the GeOdyssey Series

Here Mr. Anthony takes all the knowledge which Bill Bryson expounded on in regard to human development, begins and ends each chapter with the science and in between writes a story that takes you through the ages of man as it most likely would have been played out based on our knowledge of our interpretation of the fossil record and the fact that Mr. Anthony is a literary genius.  It is a multi volume epic, Do try and read them in order!

Shifting Baselines and Waistlines. Your health effected by odd combinations of time, memory and grasp of history.

don quixote

For me two of the most difficult apects in the “getting healthy” phase of life is the adjustment to doing things differently that take me momentarily out of my comfort zone.

Broken down as follows from that statement are:

1.  Shifting my baseline experience of what is my comfort zone.  Baseline – my bottom line view on normal and acceptable in my world as it applies to myself and those I care about, including but not limited to, critters, assholes and the planet at large, possibly even E.T.

2.  The appearance of time passage to me during this phase.

To fully understand the import of these two things has taken me 36 years to put together in my own head as I have been so resistant to its finding a way in for so many years. Often you have heard of giving things time, all good things come in their time, a watched pot never boils, good food takes time, ETC.

I listened to/watched a Ted.com talk in which Daniel Pauly speaks to the shifting of the baseline as it regards the Ocean.  It is a relatively short video and is quite eye opening if you let it, not to mention how it may be part of a key piece in your journey to health and general ninjaness.  Watch this and learn about the Ocean, it is afterall the birthplace of life on this planet what with the primordial ooze and what not, of course, pay attention to the theme, the theme is the key for this idea.

Theme in super summation:  As the years progress, unless you are extremely diligent not only in being a detached observer of your surroundings, and an adept when it comes to learning from the past, you will never see the loss of possibility in your natural world as you will accept the current state of affairs for “as good as it gets”.

Without further ado, Mr. D. Pauly –

Im hoping this has left you with a greater respect for the ocean and for the true attention that must be paid to ones surroundings if you are to have any chance at all of finding a quality equilibrium in life which will lead you to health and ergo, some semblance of happiness.

We have forces arrayed, literally, all around us trying to shift our baselines on a daily basis, these forces are called: ADVERTISING.  In truth, the easiest thing to say is – Caveat Emptor, a.k.a., Let the Buyer Beware.  You must come to know that things are not being sold for your benefit, that is a happy outcome perhaps and congrats if it works that way for you, things are being sold to you so a company may make a profit.

There is so much energy forcing us into certain directions that it is hard for a person to truly pick and choose the orbit best for them as many have even forgotten how to tune into what they feel is best for them.  It will take a lot of energy at first to buck the trending tides which seem to do nothing but lead a person away from health and fitness and ever into somnolence and disparaging self pity leading to disastrous health to the tune of eating food engineered and not even grown.

This is basically describing that lazy, unmotivated feeling during your exercise.  This feeling many times never goes away, I have heard pro athletes, body builders, you name it, all say the same things about motivation levels, feeling lazy, not into it etc.  No matter what stage you are on, once you start a health and fitness program, you are constantly getting stronger or maintaining a certain level of strength and fitness or barely keeping your head above water, but still trying.  As so poignantly sung in “Just Wait” by the Blues Traveler, “…no such thing as failure in he who keeps trying…”

I firmly live by and accept those words.  I just like to couple them with Bruce Lee’s wisdom of doing more tomorrow than you did today by at least 1 thing, he said it a bit more eloquently because he was himself saying it, the message is the same=]

And if I lived them everyday, I would be famous and you would be buying my words, not having me seek you out to read them=]

As you get started or as you continue, you will feel it, I do not think there will ever be a time where you are not sore or feeling a bit lazy.  Coupled with the fact that many of you reading this are doing so from portable electronic devices or sitting in comfortable places, drinking warm beverages whist reading… You are already at a very comfortable and relaxed pace in life which will be initially resilient to the big change of being healthy and the focus to seek out all aspects of your life that need to be trimmed or added to achieve the goal.

By understanding that we are starting off from a “more difficult” baseline of relatively domesticated, city dwelling, usually overfed, and surprisingly this goes for most people reading this, even if you are in rad shape, you probably still over eat, very few are on the ninja food level.  I am there once a month or so…

A few of you may have hairs prickling and you’re now mumbling about what the heck does this guy know.  Actually knowing, you are right, I don’t know, I only ate once really well in my life during my training for the Ironman I never participated in while living in Hawaii.  I will however direct our attention to the Shaolin Monks in China, who eat twice a day, from a bowl and still manage to break bricks with their bare hands while spinning helicopter kicking over five guys with spears.  That they have a dramatically shifted baseline is the only real difference.  Anyone can truly do anything.

My goal is only to help everyone involved feel better and look at other possibilities to incorporate in their own lives.  Many people are far more advanced than myself, and I know that, and I also know of people more advanced than that, I try to have an understanding of – BASELINES.  By understanding many baselines, you are able to look at your own with the casual detached observational powers of the outsider with nothing to lose or gain by comparing and analyzing.  When you do this, you are now looking at yourself realistically.  Many times I would look at myself in the mirror, especially when I used to weight 285 [100 POUNDS HEAVIER!] and think how fat I am.  This would usually be right after I flipped through a Mens Health or some equivalent magazine.  This is not a realistic baseline approach if used as a tool for guilt which is how I used it at the time.  Set reasonable goals for yourself if you are comparing yourself to others, especially others in media, print and film, and ESPECIALLY if that media print and film is based on health and fitness, of course they will be the best of the best who have had a shifted baseline for sometime, that and/or a great photoshop artist.

A 50 year old comparing itself to a 20 year old will be hard pressed to come up with a decent baseline comparison for health and fitness, especially if they have been living a sedentary life and want to change it.  Be honest and fair with yourself, you want to be promoting success and not merely courting failure.  Courting failure is a subject which many of us exercise to some degree or other on a near continuous basis as we do not have the tools for complex thinking because many of us do not even realize this behaviour [spelled British style=] is going on, further, it is a way of being which is pushed upon us by the forces that drive general society and the your subsequent acceptance in that arena of life.  One must begin to question everything if one is to be a fit as one can truly be!  It is O.K. for the 50 year old to set a baseline on the exercises, just be easy on yourself when it comes to the baseline of the results.

Another method for discovering shifting baselines is by use of the Socratic Method of reasoning.  I bet you weren’t expecting that and many of you may be scoffing at this point, jumping to the conclusion that anyone who lived so long ago knows nothing of today.

What Socrates knew and what you now know, is that it isnt the people or situations that change with the untenable procession of sand in the hourglass so much as the technology with which we walk through that time.  People stay the same; thier motives, drives and desires at any rate, that is what being human is.  You have a map, everyone does and you in turn live your life based on it.

So we get maps of how people work, we help get these maps by looking at the changes in people based on technological advancement.  Taking that and looking through history we see trends, on every level, and based on what level we are trying to acheive for our goals, we can help get ourselves direction.

Example – You want to have a savings.  You earn 50 cents for mowing the lawn.  You speak to people about how they saved money when mowing lawns and they tell you they saved half thier earnings in a piggy bank.  You begin to save.  It seems simple and innocuous, but it is a cornerstone behavior on which you will base most of your life conciously or unconciously.  You will set a baseline based on who you learn from and what level of implementation you r are willing to go with the information you recieve.  Some may continue questioning about how to best save money and learn about DRIP investing and by the time they are 18, they are multi millionaires sponsoring pedaling for peace…  All because they further questioned and were better able to set more specific baselines to bring about thier results.

what..? =]

You are constantly setting and adjusting baselines based on what is going on around you.  Most of it is not conciously done.  Be aware of that and you will start seeing the process in action, at that point, you could factor in Socratic Method.  it is very simple and is like this example taken largely from the book The Consolations of Philosophy, written by Mr. Alain de Botton.  A genius book that blends wit with wisdom, truly a great place to learn to be a happier human, and learn about the world you inhabit!-

The Socratic Method for Thinking:

1.  Locate a statement confidently [most will look at you like a fool if you say otherwise] described as common sense.

     You are what you eat.

     Being virtuous [doing good] things in the world requires money.

2.  Imagine for a moment that, despite the confidence of the person proposing it, the statement is false.  Search for situations or contexts where the statement would not be true.

     Could one ever be something other than what they eat?

     Could one never be what they eat?

     Could one ever have money and not be virtuous [do good] things?

     Could one never have money and be virtuous [do good] things

3.  If an exception is found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise.

     It is not possible to be something other than what you eat.

     It is not possible to not be what you eat.

     It is possible to have money and not be virtuous [do good] in the world, and to actually not do good so well you really F stuff up!

     It is possible to be virtuous [do good] in the world and not have money.

4.  The initial statement must be nuanced [changed slightly, tweaked] to take the exception into account.

     You are what you eat.

     People who have money can be described as virtuous [doing good] only if they have acquired it in a virtuous way and use it in virtuous way, and some people with no money can be virtuous when they have lived through situations where it was      impossible to be virtuous and make money.

5.  If one finds exceptions to the improved statements, the process should be repeated.  The Truth, in so far as a human being is able to attain such a thing, lies in a statement which it seems impossible to disprove.  It is by finding out what something is not that one comes closest to understanding what it is.

consolations of philosophy by alain de botton6.  The product of thought is superior to intuition.

I think that gives us a pretty good idea of why Baselines are important, how we base them on rationale, memories, others and spurious trains of thought that get us nowhere fast.  How they manage to creep into our lives and how we equally manage to change them without our concious thought and how we can begin to, at the very least, be aware and begin to make changes.

Of course, changes take time and as we know well, Time is Relative.  Einstein is quoted as saying, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

So, here we are, looking at our baseline model of a ninja with the UNDERSTANDING that this person underwent rigorous training since birth and that we are only just beginning our journey, this is correcting for real world.

Slowling, ha, thats a good one, slowling…. slowing down time to a natural rate is a key ingredient to the mix that is you.  When you look at the time things grown in nature, you get an idea of what they are all about.  Oaks grow to be legends, unearthed by archeologists, so old they have literally turned to stone.  On the other hand you look at a baby gazelle in the plains, and here is an animal which is reaching very high speeds at a very young age due to the ever present razor of life which is constantly pushing the Darwin Theorem.

Where is all this taking us.  Take some time to be realistic with whatever change yo want to embark on.  Give yourself time for it to happen.  With time must come a constant diligence as you are changing your subconcious.  Its not part of your everyday life, thats why its called as it is, SUB concious, below the radar.  You now have to take time to bring it to the radar screen and keep it there until you manage to change it.

Baseline shifted, like changing a gear in an autmobile, now you can move forward, or reverse, the fact is, you have finally made a change and can now view your ENTIRE WORLD in a new light, as you now have a new baseline with which to make decisions from.

Enjoy it and Aloha!