Monday, December 31, 2007

One more thing....

Ok, I forgot one more thing. I've got to do some more delving into this site and really get a good post written on it, because it sure as heck deserves one. In the meantime, however, check this site out on your own if you'd like. Probably the most incredible site I have been on lately.

New Year's Poll

Ok.. The poll actually has nothing to do with New Years, like at all. But you should still vote. Maybe this poll is less ambiguous than the last question, which has a history of frustrating those presented with its conundrum. I think this was a pretty easy poll for me to weigh in on. Maybe too easy.

So, the results of the last poll? Actually I don't even remember. Except one answer had 5 votes and the other had 4. With 9 people polled and that kind of spread between the answers... Well, I don't think it is even possible to make a statistically sound conclusion with those numbers, since there is absolutely no way to split evenly on the topic. So yeah, thanks for participating in the poll.

This last week I got sick with strep throat. That was fun. And then I moved back to my apartment last night. I don't have any plans for new years tonight. I learned that commupance is a real word from the 1850's???

Oh, so here is a little story. Man, I think it is bad that the whole time I am writing this post, I can hear it in a Daxflame voice in my head. Anyway. I have decided that I have a really hard time with sunk costs. If you know me, which you most likely do because you are reading this blog, you will know that I view life's scenarios in a very logical way. I use economics and cost-benefit analysis to guide most of my decisions. This explains why I was crushed when this summer I realized I had $170 in bank fees ($170 of which I managed to get out of). As soon as I got those fees, it completely negated the possible returns I hoped to get from my new investments (I had just bought some money market funds). So, I felt that the rest of the year was just going to be wasted in trying to get out of the red.

In fact, in my mind, I have a sort of running meter where I keep track of how I am doing in life. When I think I have been able to get ahead financially or scholastically, either by scoring some cheap textbooks, getting out of fees, making some good investing moves, acing a test I didn't study much for, etc, the meter turns towards the green. I feel like overall, I am ahead of the game. However, when I make some stupid moves and bomb a test, get my car booted, breaking something expensive of mine, etc, the meter dips towards the red. This meter is always there, and it is always an indicator of how I am doing. Luckily I don't ever recall spending too much time in the red. I've had setbacks, but I always feel like overall in life I am ahead, meaning I am living well, making smart decisions, and being blessed to be on the right track to succeeding in life.

So, that is why I have such a big problem with sunk costs. They seem like such a setback. Not only are they unpleasant, but they seem to negate other successes and wins in my life. It would be good if I could compartmentalize my life and not let certain aspects affect other aspects, but the Meter just lumps it all together and gives me a general reading of how I am doing.

What got me thinking about this is my guitar. I took a guitar class this semester and it was really rewarding. I went out at the beginning of the semester and bought a guitar with a case for $200. It looked like a decent guitar, but what did I know. I brought it home, and then noticed that it buzzed when others, who know how to play, were playing on it. I took it back to the store and they made some adjustments that helped a bit. I started going to class and learning. The action of the guitar felt a little high and seemed to make things difficult to play (perhaps it was just me being bad that made things difficult). I took the guitar into the Great Salt Lake Guitar Co. of Provo and the luthier there adjusted the action by working on the nut. It cost $35. I got it back and noticed that it buzzed again. So, I dealt with it the rest of the semester, but as I learned more and got better at playing, it started bothering me more. I took it to Best in Music in Orem. The guy there criticized the last guy who worked on it and said he would replace the nut and fix it for $35. A week later I came back and the nut had been replaced but it still buzzed. The lady there got the guy working on it on the phone. He said, "I replaced the nut, but now the problem is your frets are uneven and so if you want I can work on evening those out." Since the guitar was worse than it was when I brought it in, I agreed, even though it would cost me $45 more. I came back later that day after the guy had come in and "finished" my guitar. The total was only $55, but that is because he had some trouble with evening out the frets. I played the guitar in front of him, and it sounded exactly the same as when I brought it in. I emphasized this non-verbally by choosing only to play the worst offending string over and over again. He said he could keep working on it but that might bring the total up to $100. I didn't want that. We talked some more, he could tell I was dissatisfied with the results, and he knocked down the tab to $35. I paid and left. At this point I was so sick of the now $270 guitar in my backseat, that I tried to decide what to do.

It was time to cut my losses. Right then and there, I decided that I wouldn't spend another dollar on that guitar. I could have bought two decent guitars for that price. Not only was I not going to sink any more money in that guitar, but I didn't want it around. I disliked it so much that I thought it would be dishonest to try to sell it to someone else. I considered the idea of smashing it. This guitar was a sunk cost and just its presence signified a failure of mine.

So, I am going to give it to my brother so he can start learning guitar on it, and I am looking for a new one on craigslist. But there it is, my dislike for sunk costs. I think what I dislike about them most, is the inability to win. It is a lose more-lose less situation, but still a lose-lose. Oh well, if I have learned anything it is that money is just money and in 5 years down the road, most of the setbacks we encounter today will be inconsequential in the context of our lives.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Family time

This is probably the best Daxflame video I have seen.

I am sorry to the UTMOST degree

I would like to make a public apology for all disparaging things I have hitherto said about Firefox. Today I got fed up with IE7 and will no longer use it. Please accept my apologies. Barney, this is mainly to you. Btw, I really like it. I installed Boost too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007 blogging

So... Just a couple updates. Today I realized I had a fear of playing guitar in front of people and decided I will do that more often until I overcome it.

Next, as you see I have added a poll to my blog. Yes, you may be familiar with my hypotheticals. Now you can enjoy my hypotheticals from the comfort of your own computer. I will update the hypothetical each week. I feel that by answering hypotheticals, we all will be more prepared for a variety of situations that, as unlikely as they may be, would be better handled if we had an answer already decided. You know, kinda like how they advice you to make the decision about your standards only once. This question is actually complements of Jameson.

Okay, and then my photos. I walk around each day and see funny/interesting things and often I am not with anyone who I can talk to about what I see. So instead I whip out my phone and take pictures with the intent to some day blog about them. Well I have finally run out of other things to do. Here are my photos.

I like this picture because I don't think I have ever seen someone smile while bleeding profusely from their head, or anywhere in fact.

Probably the most confusing poster I have ever seen. If you notice, that green circle says, "Sweet spirit." I don't get it...

Second most confusing poster I've seen on campus. I've decided I am very lost as to how the prefix "i" modifies a word.

Apparently it's the newest trick in marketing though. Maybe they are teaching this in marketing schools, "One sure way to get your sales up, folks? Add an "i" before everything. Everything..."

Hehe, okay so maybe all of my pictures are confusing posters. I like this one though because it was a poster in the wilk that was advertising the barbershop. Now, I would have to say that if you lined up 10 random guys and asked me to pick who just got their hair cut, this guy would be one of the last ones I would guess. I guess he could be on his way to the barbershop when this picture was taken.

Modern day Alice in Wonderland. This is in the Brimhall. This picture doesn't show it very well, but that door is really.. small. Like, this isn't just a long hallway, that is really a small door that comes up to my neck. I like most that it has a number on it.

Okay, final picture. This poster's sweet, cause even though it technically says "Opportunity: When one window closes, another opens," to my subconcious it seems to say "Determination: When one window closes, you make another one, even if it takes a sledgehammer and a whole lot of muscle."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Comment on this

This is a census poll. If you read this post, please comment on it so I know you are reading this. Don't throw the poll off, just be counted. You could even just like... count off like you do in gym class. I will start...


I'm finally done. I took my last final today for my Molecular Biology lab. It was one of those classes that we got attendance and participation points in, but our weekly quiz was never graded and so we never really knew what to expect... then came the final. I studied for a few hours today, and it was a very good thing. The test was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Anyway, I am done with this semester. I feel like I eeked by one more semester.

Cindy and Amy came over tonight and I watched garden state. I really like that movie. I love the Shins songs on the soundtrack. It is one of those things though that I feel has a lot more meaning than I get. I need to look up some analysis of it online. Cindy bought me a tragicomedy "Waiting for Godot." I am really excited to read it.

Anyway, this was kinda a boring post but, thats my life:-) Things are good. I also got a new book for myself. It is called "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. Pretty excited about that one too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back on track

I think I am back on track to stresslessness. I am going to rock my ACS test today and then just take it from there. This will be a great week.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

As of late

The last couple days have been interesting. I feel like I've had some good experiences or opportunities to overcome challenges in my life. In some instances I perhaps failed and got stressed or angry, but perhaps I've done better than I have in the past.

A couple days ago I got booted while I was dropping off some banana nut bread at a friend's place. Yesterday for the first time relationship uncertainties frustrated me. Today a friend was telling me how I should live my life (in particular how I should approach relationships) and it really bothered me and so I left their apt. They followed to apologize.

I dunno, it felt sort of like a step back the last couple days. But I guess in retrospect, I am doing better than I would have been doing in the same situation.

On another note. Do you think retroactively buying an ACS Study Guide for which you have previously broken copyright laws in regards to justifies your previous indiscretion? I just ordered the study guide online after talking to my mom and feeling guilty that I had a PDF copy of it, even though it is copyrighted. I guess I can use it to study for the DAT.

I also think I am going to Wyoming this break with my brother Ben to visit the mission. Should be fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Three Most Attractive Things a Girl Can Do

1. Wear pigtails. I don't know if I need to elaborate, or even if I can. They are cute, fun, and just goodlooking.

2. Wear fishnets or patterned semi-transparent tights. I don't know where we ever got the idea that fishnets were bad. More girls need to follow in Clarissa Lassig's shoes. She really knows how to dress and really pulls off fishnets. I think they look very sharp.

3. Wear headbands. I don't know what it is, but those wide plastic headbands girls wear are really attractive. They seem very simple to wear too so I don't know why more girls don't do it.

Anyway, when more girls understand the above three points, they will have men flocking to them. Men will melt like putty in their hands.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I called Legacy Mazda today because after taking my car in for 3 times now, the belts they put on over the summer are still squeaking. As I was getting ready to call I prepared what I would say. I decided to ask for John, compliment him on the service I have received so far, express concern about my belts still squeaking, tell him I still wanted to keep my business at Legacy, and ask him if he had suggestions on how I could get a beat on this noise. I called John and said, "John this is Gabriel Proulx, I don't know if you remember my car..."

He immediately fired back, "Mazda Protoge. I also remember your dad coming in last week too."

I chuckled, "Oh, he must have talked your ear off too!" I then proceeded to explain my situation and ask what could be the problem. He told me to bring it in tomorrow and they would check it out.

I finished Carnegie's book Saturday. There isn't a single person alive who should not read that book. It is one of the most revolutionary and life-changing books I have read. The previous pleasant exchange could not have taken place had I not read the book. As simple as the principles are, they have profound effects on every day interactions. I feel like I have gone from being a good people-person to a great people-person.

Go buy the book and read it. If you value your relationships with others, you will read it.

Living the dream...

Brother Reyes used that phrase in one of his testimonies this year. I found myself really impressed that he was really living the dream. As he described his life, he made it sound like there was nothing more he could wish for. I remember being amazed and sort of jealous. I also wondered if it was even possible to live the dream like Brother Reyes was.

I now know it is possible. This past week has been incredible. I don't know how to describe it. In fact, I feel silly trying to describe it because there isn't any one particular thing that has happened to make my life great. I happened... I happened to make my life great. Ever since I have decided to eliminate stress from my life and not get angry or be negative, I've been living a new life. I try to explain to people the significance of this last week in my life, and I don't think anyone really understands because, well... Imagine you were trying to climb over a brick wall, and the minute you crested the top of it you beheld a beautiful view. As much as you could try to describe it to others that were still trying to climb, you could never really impart to them the actual beauty you see. They have to be at that point themselves. There is no substitute for personal experience.

Anyway, life has been great. School is wrapping up. I have incredible friends. I have a great family. I have the cutest 4 boys as my nephews ever. I love dentistry and the idea that I will be doing it for the rest of my life. What else can I say? Last week was a turning point in my life. I sometimes catch myself getting negative, but I've made very significant strides to almost eliminating stress and negativity from my life. It is pretty much incredible.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A part of me died yesterday

As of yesterday, the negative, critical, pessimistic, stressed, and angry part of me is dead. I'm a new person.

Barney came over Monday night and we talked about stress management. He told me he's only been stressed once in the last few years, and has only been angry maybe two times. At first I was skeptical, but I heard him out. His philosophy is simple: we choose who we are and what we feel. That's it. When we are stressed or angry, it's by choice. If that isn't so for someone, then that person needs to work on self-control. Ultimately, if not already, these can all be choices of ours.

Now, if it is a choice, is it helpful or desirable in anyway to be stressed or angry?

I thought, 'Well, sometimes stress can pressure you to get things done efficiently and effectively.' Upon further thought, however, I abandoned that view. Yes, perhaps pressure can motivate. But how does one work efficiently and effectively? Through being calm, being collected, having a clear mind, and by possessing the energy that the tasks-at-hand require. Stress not only doesn't contribute to any of these necessary qualities, but it shorts the circuit of success.

In physics you learn about the different forms of energy. One of the forms that engineers often try to minimize in the design of circuits and machines is that of heat. Often heat is not a desired byproduct and its presence indicates energy leakage from a poorly designed product. So it is with stress. Our circuit of success requires our full reserve of energy. We can't afford the energy leakage stress imposes. We simply don't have enough energy to go around.

At first I argued that sometimes I harness my anger to motivate me in other facets of my life. For example, I get dumped and I refocus my anger or negative feelings towards my performance in school. Now, this is partially true, but I believe we can circumvent the process and better harness the energy before we reach anger. Consider the food chain. Each level of the food chain, or trophic level, corresponds with a 90% loss energy from the previous trophic level, only perpetuating about 10%. For example, a portion of beef takes about 10 times the amount of grain in terms of energy. The 90% is lost to the second law of thermodynamics, lost by heat. I think we suffer the same effects as we re-channel our anger. We may be able to recoup some energy, but by choosing not to get angry I believe we better allocate our resources to handle the problem at hand.

So it is with negativity, criticism, pessimism. They all drain on our well-being and prevent us from reaching our potential. I reached a similar epiphany when auditioning for County Chorus in High School. Going into the audition I realized the pointlessness of nervousness. I would get nervous that I wouldn't do well. Because I was nervous, my voice was not as steady or strong and I didn't do well. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I've decided though to optimize my life. Stress and negativity are counterproductive. I decided yesterday to give them up. Despite finals, grades, relationships, and the regular pressures of life, I feel calm. I'm excited for the future. I feel like I've turned a new leaf. It will take a while to find my new groove, but I will, and I will find myself a better person than I was yesterday.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Thoughts five from midnight

No stories, just thoughts. Although I do have several pictures I have been snapping on my phone that I need to upload soon and comment on.

- The more I live, the more I am convinced that love is illogical. Either by defying or superseding, not sure which, it escapes understanding by a logical mind. There are no formulas. Scary thought for a bioinformatics major.

- I don't even know if I think people who don't live in glass houses should be throwing stones. All around the throwing of stones sounds like a bad idea.

- I like tragedies. I don't know why. I think I enjoy the cathartic release that Aristotle talked about that accompanies them. I love the juxtaposition of what was a deserved punishment with what was the actual punishment the tragic hero receives. I knew this though. Further I have decided I like tragedies from a distance and not in my life. In fact I dislike anything resembling tragedies in my life.

- Good friends are hard to come by. They are worth keeping.

- Oedipus ran from what he thought was home and those he thought were his parents in an attempt to thwart a prophecy that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. The result? He ran far away, crossed his real father, unbeknownst to him, on the way and killed him. Then he went to Thebes and unknowingly married his mother. On a smaller scale, I am afraid of hurting people and as a result often act in a way that ends up hurting someone. Moral? I don't know. Don't run to avoid problems, act proactively to counter them maybe?

- Sometimes people are so good at a talent that I start analyzing which scenario is more likely: A) That they are really that good at doing something that seems impossible to do, or B) That they are really robots posing as humans to make us feel untalented. Now, B sounds pretty improbable (owing to the scarcity of robots and not to a lack of desire on their part to make us feel inferior) but I can foresee a day when the number of robots in circulation is high enough to make this a lot more complicated of a scenario to figure out. I guess option C) That I am prideful could also be a solution. One time I was in my apartment and I thought to myself... 'Robots are going to get really popular. I should buy the domain and hold it till I can sell it for lots of money.' Apparently someone had that idea too because if you go there it is titled "Roborental: News about cars until we start renting robots." It then goes on to explain:
"Warning: On this website we have a hodge podge of information about cars and travel - to Explore. Once Robots become more popular and robot rentals become commonplace - this website will be taken down and a financial concern which makes robot loans will be put in its place. Until then - enjoy a variety of interesting topics on cars and travel - which are searched for a lot on the Internet, but there are not a lot of Internet Resources available..."
I had a mix of emotions when I saw this. I was both amazed that someone thought exactly like me. And then I was disappointed that although this person has poorer grammer than me, and doesn't make sense half of the time, they still beat me to the punch. Anyway, that was a side note. Robots... watch out for them is my best advice.

Well those are the thoughts on my mind around midnight.