The Six Basic Pleasures Theory

I don't have time to flesh this out, but I just had a thought that I'd like to explore later.


There are six basic paths to pleasure, for a human:

  • enjoying a physical experience (e.g., sensory input)
  • enjoying a shared experience with someone else (i.e.: laughing at a joke)
  • enjoying a sense of accomplishment (for example, "I just jumped 12 feet, I rock!")
  • enjoying a sense of recognition (for example, "Dude, you just jumped 12 feet, you rock!")
  • enjoying a sense of connection (best example being love)
  • enjoying a sense of purpose (be it participation in a project, a sense of nationality, or religious experience.)
 I'm not sure, as I type it out.  But I have to get back to work.


Paradoxically, perhaps, I am a person of faith.

According to Wikipedia:

Faith is trust, hope and belief in the goodness or trustworthiness, of a person, concept or entity. Religious faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition, "things will turn out well in the end," can be enjoyed in the present and secured in the future. Consequently, religious faith appeals to "transcendent reality," or that reality which is beyond the range of normal, physical human experience (e.g. the future). "Transcendent reality," therefore, constitutes a reality which is off limits to the rigors of scientific inquiry such as falsifiability and reproducibility. However, atheists and agnostics criticize religious faith as superstition, categorizing it with other forms of belief that are not based on measurement of material things.
I trust that the universe is on the right path... whatever that may be. I do occasionally wonder if this means I have some kind of residual theistic tendencies, but I think if that's the case, it's certainly far more pantheist than theist in a traditional sense... but the point is that I do, in fact, have faith that the universe will "end well".  Since that's a completely non-scientific, unprovable notion, I must call it faith, and it's not one I can get rid of.  ...nor do I have a strong desire to.  Think of it this way: if I'm biologically programmed to have this kind of faith, then it's probably for a good reason, and it's not an instinct I care to shut down.

I've been giving this some thought, lately, and it occurs to me that I also believe that if I believe the universe itself is on the right path, I should logically believe that the constituent pieces of the universe (most usefully, the Earth and its inhabitants, and more proximally, me) are doing "what they need to do" to get to whatever end-point the universe as a whole is pointed toward.

Specifically, I've been contemplating whether or not this constitutes a kind of moral compass.  That is, if whatever it is my life is supposed to amount to is a "good thing" in light of the "Big Picture", then I should probably continue doing what it is I'm doing.

Begging the question as that clearly is, I still find it pragmatic and useful... an interesting line of inquiry, as it were, into a deeper understanding of my own personal moral compass... my "intuitive morality," as it were.  As I continued to think about this and try to hone the question a bit, what I was left asking myself was, "what qualities go into my definition of the word 'better'?"

This is, I think, a useful question. I believe every individual is entitled to their own definition of the word.  ...That is to say, I don't believe there is an absolute universal (meaningful) definition of "better".  ...But this line of reasoning I've found myself on does justify (fraught with fallacy as it may well be) understanding one's own definition of the word.

Of course, all the conflict in the world is borne of differences in opinion about what would be "better"... from "it would be better if the world comprised of an Aryan master race" to "it would be better if I didn't have to listen your drivel about philosophy, Jeremy."  Some absolute, universal guidance on what's better would be tremendously useful in terms of quelling everyday stress, if not global violence and strife.  But, alas, as someone who believes that the universe is on the right course, and there are no obvious answers as to what's ultimately "better", I'm left trying to accept that everyone has their own sense of the word, and in the grand scheme of things, that's for the best.  ...ironically.

Regardless, the utility in an understanding of my own tendencies has been of tremendous benefit.  (Or, at least, if feels that way.)  After asking myself a series of "what would make ____ better" style questions, I found some recurring themes for what I consider "better":
  • parts contributing to the whole
  • an awareness of a system's context
  • steady challenge which isn't overwhelming
  • adequate size (leaning toward the minimal, here)
  • a level of diversity an ideal example, I point to the biodiversity of a mixed temperate forest as an ecological model: clear order with "standards," with complex and interesting outliers that fit into the whole.
  • understanding a majority of salient elements, with a trickle of mystery as new elements are discovered
  • general comfort, with only occasional excitement
  • acceptance of what clearly is, with a general, low level of measured growth
  • maximized beauty, without ruining functionality
  • as much creativity as can be managed without burning out
  • an emphasis on future possibility, second to an enjoyable present state (and a de-emphasized history)
  • excellent constituent parts in the system
  • a (reasonable, modest) sense of meaning
...The last bullet point is perhaps key: the idea that one's personal preferences leads one toward some kind of meaningful life.  I think that's what this whole thought process was about, and as such, I've found it rewarding.

Games I Would Buy if Ported to the iPhone

I just bought the Carcassonne app for my iPod Touch, and I really enjoy it.  They did a wonderful job capturing the experience of the physical game for just $5.  Add that to Settlers of Catan (which is quite good, though I find that the computer picks on the human with the robber, and that gets old), and Hive... and three of my favorites are available in my pocket.  Which is damn cool.

I also just bought the original, old-school "Prince of Persia" for a buck.  Hard game!  But cool to re-play.  And Archon!  I loved Archon as a kid, and it's a blast on the iPod.

...Now, mind you, there are some superlative new and original games for the iPhone/iPod.  The best ones I've seen so far are Space Miner (hilarious), Dungeon Hunter, Red Conquest (even if it kicks my ass on the easiest settings, it's brilliant), Spider: the Secret of Bryce Manor (this is bound to be an all-time classic, favorite game), Spirit, Strategery, Tilt to Live, and Orbital.  ...Not to mention the myriad Tower Defense games (which are mostly quite fun).

In all, I haven't been so excited about computer gaming since I was 10, playing on the Intellivision and Commodore 64.  ...Which is to say, it reminds me of one of the happiest times of my life.  I am *loving* this.

Old School Games

There are quite a few old-school C-64/Intellivision games I would love to see properly ported to the iPhone (meaning: updates to the controls, since the iPod doesn't have a normal joystick or keyboard... and possibly updated graphics, as long as they are "true to the original," as Archon managed to be).  For example:

Pools of Radiance / Curse of the Azure Bond / Secret of the Silver Blades / Pools of Darkness

...I would totally play these over again, if they were in my pocket and didn't take 15 minutes to load.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Intellivision)

Man, did I love this one.  Simple, you can play it in five minutes, and it's nerve-wracking in a good way.  :)

Seven Cities of Gold

Quiet, interesting game.  I'd love to see a straight port of this, actually, with just a few control updates.  Nothing too fancy.


...Begging to be put on the iPhone!

Below The Root

Meditative, spiritual adventure game.  Loved roaming among the treetops.

Sid Meir's Pirates!

Another one of those early, easy, open-ended games that you can waste hours in, a little at a time.

More Recent Games

It would be pushing the limits of the technology, and it would require some "dumbing down" of the graphics and possibly a bit of the play, but I'm betting they could do a reasonable job of moving some of the more recent computer games to the iPod.  I'm not expecting to see Half-Life 2 anytime soon, (that would be TOO COOL), but I'm betting they could pull off some playable and enjoyable versions of a few of my better gaming experiences:


This would, of course, require some major dumbing-down and (in particular) much more basic models, but I'm betting they could pull it off.  ...Would it be worth it, monetarily, to but six months' development into it?  Probably not.  So I'm not holding my breath.  But, for the record, I'd definitely put $15 down on this one.

In fact, I'd pay $5 for a "developers log" app that would keep me posted with development news and help pay for it.

Knights of the Old Republic

Again, it would take some work getting the models simplified, but this would be really enjoyable.

Myst / Riven / Etc...

...Why haven't they put these kinds of games on the iPhone already?!  I've seen a few, but they haven't looked particularly good (and those that did I read were really hard).

Board Games

...Of course, there are a *lot* of board games that I would like to see on the iPhone!  Some that jump out at me:


There are already a few implementations of this, but they all suck.  We need a nice one.


Simple and effective abstract game, it's one that I really like, and could be elegantly done, quickly played, and enjoyable.


Okay, go ahead an laugh, but I really had a lot of fun with this back in college and would like to play mindless dungeon-crawling in perpetuity every now and then.  Maybe it would loose something with out the silly friends and cheap pizza, though.


...Waaaaay too expensive to actually buy, so I'd love to pay $3 for an electronic version.  It's a simple and interesting abstract game.

Actually, there are a whole bunch of games I would pay up to $5 for to be able to play solo:

Arkham Horror, Dominion, Elfenland, Ticket to Ride, Power Grid, Pandemic, Puerto Rico, Runewars (and the new one... RuneLords or something?), Galaxy Trucker (another one that's too expensive for the real thing--and would adapt well), Dune (the '79 version--too hard to find these days), Twilight Imperium (too much of a hassle to play for real!), ZERTZ...

...And, crap, now I'm looking at Board Game Geek again.  More talk about this later.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Notes

These are some notes that I took while learning about Maslow's "Peak Experiences."

A peak experience involves:

  • Intense happiness
  • Heightened sense of reality
  • Expansion of awareness
  • Feeling one with the universe
  • Clear thinking and understanding
  • Feeling more powerful
  • Loss of placement in time and space
  • Experience fully, vividly: be present.
  • Make a growth choice 12 times a day.
  • Shut out external behavioral clues.
  • When in doubt, be honest and take responsibility.
  • Be prepared to be unpopular.
  • Make peak experiences more likely.
  • Identify your defenses and give them up.
  • Do not do things that do not reinforce your goals.  DO things that do!
  • Find a mentor who has achieved your goal.
  • Avoid nay-sayers.
  • User visual reminders.
  • Track your progress.
  • Focus on positive. Forgive the negative.
  • Find social support.
Superior Traits:
  • no fear of the unknown
  • self-acceptance
  • accepts reality
  • no unnecessary inhibitions
  • focus on mission in life, devoted to duty
  • serene
  • lack of worry
  • alone without being lonely
  • self-starter
  • owns behavior
  • non-stereotyped
  • present
  • has peak experiences
  • awe
  • loss of placement
  • expects good
  • kinship with good, bad, and ugly
  • profound relationship with few
  • friendly with many
  • humble
  • discriminates between means and ends
  • tedious = enjoyable
  • unhostile humor
  • self-depricating
  • creative
  • resists enculturation
  • indignant of injustice
  • has imperfections
  • impatient when stuck
  • resolves dichotomies
  • no "conflict"
  • wise
  • child-like qualities
  • more interested in stuff than having stuff

Pragmatic Thinking And Learning (Notes)

I'm just "dumping" the notes I took while reading the aforementioned book (which I highly recommend), so as to have a copy of these online.  Perhaps you'll enjoy the read, perhaps it's a waste of your time.  Feel free to skip this post.

1. Consider the context.

2. Use rules for novices, intuition for experts.

3. Know what you don't know.

Dreyfus Model (1970s research):

  1. Novices need recipes and rules, are detached observers, and erroneously consider everything as important in every situation (particularly when trouble-shooting).
  2. Advanced beginners do not want the big picture.
  3. Competents can trouble-shoot; are intuitive and resourceful; but are not capable of self-correction.
  4. Proficients need the big picture, correct poor performance through reflection, learn from others, apply maxims properly.  They self-correct.
  5. Experts work from intuition, are ruined by rules, focus on relevant information, and are part of the system (rather than outside it).  They show more self-doubt, know what they don't know.  They usually cannot teach their craft.  It takes roughly ten years of concerted effort to get to this level.
4. Learn by watching and imitating: imitate, assimilate, innovate.

5. Keep practicing to remain an expert.

6. Avoid formal methods when innovating / being creative.

8. Capture ideas constantly to get more of them.

Picasso: "computers are useless: they only give you answers"

9. Learn by synthesis ... and analysis.

10. Good designs (aesthetics) actually work better.  Make the interface nice.

We learn best with a well-defined task, challenging but doable, with informative feedback you can act on, with opportunity for repetition and correction of errors.

12. Engage more senses for better cognition.  (Note I skipped 11; it didn't strike me as worthwhile.  There may be more skipping later, too.)
  • Seeing is the crucial artistic skill.
  • Create an R-mode, L-mode flow for learning.
13. Lead with R-mode, follow with L-mode.
  • "Write drunk, revise sober." - Writer's adage. 
  • Get used to it first (get "a feel for it"), then learn the rules.
  • Dr. Galin, UCSF: Three responsibilities of the teacher to the student:
  1. Train both L-mode and R-model.
  2. Train to use the best mode suited to the task.
  3. Train to integrate both styles.
Anne Lamott: "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor."  ...Go ahead and write a really shitty first draft.  Trying to do better can keep you from writing anything at all.

14. Change your routine to exercise your mind.
  • Use functional shifts in words to excite the mind.  (changing parts of speech and adding unusual suffixes/prefixes)
  • Anchoring bias is when you get primed with a thought, a'la Derren Brown.
  • Need for closure is a bias.  Keep your options open!
  • Fundamental attribution error ascribes personality as the cause of action, rather than context.
  • Confirmation bias: choose facts that fit, ignore others.
  • Self-serving bias: win = my fault, loose = someone else's.
  • Exposure effect: prefer familiar things.
  • Hawthorne effect: we change behavior when studied.
  • False memory: suggestion.  "Every memory read is a write."
  • Symbolic reduction fallacy: bad analogies.
  • Nominal Fallacy: labeling something means you understand it.
19. Be comfortable with uncertainty; defer closure.

21. Hedge your bets with diversity.  Your way may be wrong!

22. Allow for different approaches/biases from different people.
  • Bumper stickers and customization of your car are alpha markings and correlate with road agression.
  • "Lizard Logic": 
  1. Flight, fight, or be paralyzed with fear
  2. Immediate gratification.
  3. Dominance. 
  4. Territoriality.
  5. Blame.
  6. Moral buckets (good vs evil, no greys) 
23. Be the evolved one. "Breathe, don't hiss."

24. Trust intuition. ...but verify.
  • How do you know?
  • Says who?
  • How, specifically?
  • How does what I'm doing cause this?
  • Can you measure it?
  • Compared to what/whom?
  • Always?  Any exceptions?
  • What would happen if you did/didn't?
  • What stops you from...?
  • Can you define it's opposite? 
You are primed by your expectations.  Most of perception is based on prediction!

  • Every decision is a tradeoff.
  • "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." - Mestrius Plutarchos (Plutarch), 45-125 BCE
  • Latin "educare" means "to draw out".
  • SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable (not overwhelming), Relevant, Time-boxed.
  • Have a concrete plan over several time horizons. It will change, but "the planning is more important than the plan."  (I think that was Churchill.)
  • Diversify your goals: "it minimizes risks... riskier projects have greater rewards, so you want both risky and non-.  At least all learning investments have value, though!
  • By investing time regularly in learning (meaning: schedule your learning time),  you average out the return on your investment: some time more valuable than others.  Create a ritual of investing time into your goals. Waiting for the muse invites procrastination.
  • Set reminders to re-evaluate your goals periodically. ...probably in line with your time horizons. Also schedule time each week for each goal/objective.  Probably 2 or 3 sessions per week.
  • Study groups are more effective than being self-taught, according to research.
  • The part of your brain that handles reading is very small.  The rest of your body doesn't really "do" language, so reading is the least effective way to learn.  Watching and mimicking is the most effective. When reading, read deliberately: recite important things, ask questions, use the information. Stimulate your brain.
  • Retrieval is key for learning.  Test yourself.  Best iteration is 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks, then every 6 months.
  • "Chance favors only the prepared mind." -- Louis Pasteur.
  • Mental preparation which involves an inward focus of attention promotes insight.
31. Documenting is more important than documentation.
  • Put yourself in the problem. Anthropomorphism helps leverage experience.
37. Permission to fail is the path to success.  ...give yourself a "failure permitted" zone.

38. Imagine success repeatedly.  Put your mind in that groove of doing things right.
  • "Trying fails. Awareness cures."
  • Consultant's rule of three: if you don't have at least three possible solutions and at least three ways each could go wrong, you haven't understood the problem.
  • Study at U-Mich finds multitasking robs 3/8th of productivity.  One thing at a time!
...Apologies if this was of no use to you.  ...Go read the book!  :D

Goodbye Facebook, Welcome Back Blogger

The events of the past five months have been life-changing: I am not the person I once was.  I feel the need to write about it, and so I am "returning" to the use of Blogger.

The same events have, at best, ruined my local relationships, and what made Facebook "work" for me was the ability to keep up with all of them, make plans with them, and the like... there's no use in that now, so there's little use in staying on Facebook.  Sure, coworkers and family are there, but I can keep up with them by other means. C'est la vie.

The following series of posts will be intensely personal.  If that's a problem for you (and for coworkers, it SHOULD be), unsubscribe to this blog and stop reading.

The End.

In case it hasn't been clear: I don't really blog anymore.  :)

I expect this will be my last post, barring the odd little need to put something online for some reason or another.

Thanks for watching, guys.

The Padlock is an Illusion.

I just found this. Since I had a (new) padlock handy, I thought I would give it a quick shot.

The first step was a little awkward, but it worked.

The second step was brain-dead easy.

The third step was too tedious for me to try without really needing to do it, so I just looked up the right block of codes, then looked at the code on my lock to see if it would work.

And it wouldn't! I was terribly upset about this.

But I tried it anyway... and it worked. Surprised by this result, I fiddled around a bit and discovered that the second number was really sloppy. For me, it worked on 11, 12, 13, and 14.

I didn't try all the variants on the first number, but I did notice that the first number was also "sloppy", and worked on other numbers than the number given on the package.

In other words, the padlock is a ruse; an illusion. It's not as "secure" as it makes you think it is.


1kBWC Whimsy IV

The bottom two are actually copies of Blank White Cards that can be found on Flickr.  I did so without permission, but I did leave a comment to them later saying I'd done so...

1kBWC Whimsy III