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09 Jul 2008 - Motivation for Geeks
Have you ever felt as though you just didn’t want to go into work because there was no use in doing so because every day is the same thing? You’re not alone. In fact, millions of people feel this same way each and everyday that they go into work.
Recently I have noticed myself having a lessened sense of motivation on all fronts of my life – both professionally and personally. I have noticed my enthusiasm towards work dwindling and my devotion to weight lifting almost have no meaning at all. I have taken it upon myself to begin to read up on self-motivation skills and find out just what goes on inside of our minds that lead us to believe that sleeping all day is the right course of action to cope with our lack of motivation.
What lies ahead is a collection of ideas and thoughts that I have gathered while reading countless articles on self-motivation, as well as trying a few different methods over the last several weeks while at work, at home, and generally out and about. Ok, well maybe not countless articles. But a fair amount.
Be honest with yourself
Personally, I think the first step towards effective motivation in the work place is simply being honest with yourself. Ask yourself this string of questions: “Is this really what I want to do? Is this a job or a career? Is my personal life and my professional life congruent with one another?” The answers to these questions should begin to shed light on to whether or not you can truly be motivated to the point where the benefits of the work you produce serve as motivation to you. If you can honestly say that the results of your work motivate you to produce more work of the same caliber, then you have found your calling. Think of this calling like a turbo but instead of utilizing exhaust to produce more power, more motivation leads to more passionate motivation and it feeds on itself.
If however, you only see your job as a job and not a career, and don’t allow your personal and professional lives to be congruent with one another, then it might take some outside motivation to help you realize that the job you are working is indeed a career and should be allowed to intertwine with your personal life. This doesn’t mean that any “job” can be turned into a “career”. Being a police officer isn’t for everyone, just like being a professional football player isn’t for everyone. You have to use your own judgment when it comes time to call it quits and move on to hopefully finding the career that’s meant for you.
Have a positive attitude
Motivation and attitude go hand in hand. If someone has a poor attitude towards whatever it is they are doing, then most likely they lack motivation as well. If someone has an eager “can do” attitude towards what they are doing, then they most likely have the motivation that is needed to be successful in life.
This is something that I suspect almost all workers do from time to time: Complain about their place of work. People tend to complain about customers, co-workers, superiors, and even the environment in which they work.
This is probably one of the worst habits that a person can pick up aside from hard core drugs that create an attachment stronger than a mother has towards her child. Take weight training as an example. In order to be able to lift 300 pounds, you must first work your way up to 100, then 120, then 140 and so on. By doing this you are conditioning your muscles to be able to endure the weight and stress of the object you are trying to lift. With that same thought process, by continuously believing that everyday at work is the worst day of your life you are conditioning your mind and body to believe that it’s true. For those of you familiar with psychology, this idea is very similar to learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is a condition in which the subject has learned to believe that it is helpless in a particular situation when in fact there are solutions to the problem at hand.
How can you expect to be motivated towards something that you have conditioned yourself to dislike and/or hate? If Olympic athletes told themselves every morning when they woke up that they hate the sport that they have so passionately trained for countless hours in order ascertain a feat that only a hand full of individuals in the world can relate to, would they be able to succeed and become world class athletes? Most likely not.
Instead of having a negative demeanor, challenge yourself to do the following: When you are woken up in the morning by your alarm clock, resist the urge to proclaim, “Oh god, another day of work from hell!” Instead make an effort to reinforce in your mind that the day ahead is going to be a good day. Make this a conscience effort for a month; Everyday for one month. By the end of a one month period, you should no longer have to force yourself into thinking that the day ahead of you will not be a day from hell, but instead be the first day of the rest of your life. If you need help accomplishing this goal, keep telling yourself that you will think positive thoughts about the next day upon waking up before you go to sleep. Keep repeating this mental reminder for several minutes while you are trying to go to sleep.
Before I go on about goals, it’s important to note that the way in which you construct your goals determines the outcome in which you will likely derive from that goal. If you make your goal too broad then the chances of you achieving that goal during the allotted amount of time are greatly reduced. If your goal is very specific and you are honest with your own abilities, then the chances of you achieving your goal are greatly increased.
Setting goals is a good idea because it gives direction. If you go into work everyday and you don’t know what you are working towards, then you have no purpose, and without a purpose, you most likely don’t have any motivation to get the work done. Setting goals solves that problem of not having a clear direction in which to work towards.
Think of goals having a structure that is shaped just like a triangle. At the pinnacle is your definitive goal which is impossible to reach without the goals that are below them – This concept is very similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in which in order for self-actualization to take place (Which is located at the tip of the triangle) the needs below it must be fulfilled. What you decide as your definitive goal is up to you, and the height of the triangle depends on that very same goal. The more outrageous the goal is, the higher the triangle will have to be in order to accommodate such goals. If you find that you have a somewhat difficult goal at the pinnacle of the triangle, yet the height of the triangle is very short, your lower level goals may be too broad and you might be setting yourself up for failure before even starting.
Remember goals are like pennies: A penny is a penny, 100 pennies make up a dollar, and so on and so forth. Each large goal is broken down into many other smaller goals that can be reached on an almost daily basis. Wouldn’t it be nice to score a goal everyday rather than once every several months? Winning is a good way to boost motivation, so do yourself a favor and set some goals that you can score.
Learn from your mistakes and failures
If there’s one thing I’m good at while at work, it’s learning from my mistakes. Each and everyday on my way home from work I think to myself what I could have done differently in order for things to gone better. I make a mental note of that and the next day that I work I make it a point to work out that issue before it becomes a problem. This doesn’t mean I just focus on the negative things that have happened during the day – I take time to reflect upon the positive things during the day. Though it almost goes without saying that in order to improve on something I must be able to honestly identify points of weakness.
Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself and to others that you have done something wrong. You’re better off owning up to your mistakes when your boss inquires as to what went wrong rather than trying to lie or place the blame on someone else. Make sure that you learn from your mistakes though. Don’t let them haunt you for they are likely to be the first thing that you think about the next day when that alarm clock goes off and it’s time to get ready for work again.
Switch things up
Vito Whitlach has said this before in his weight loss blog: “The only thing that shouldn’t change is change itself”. Avoid becoming burnt out by doing different things at different times of the day in a totally different order than the previous day if at all possible. This will keep your mind on its toes trying to guess what’s going to be the next thing around the corner.
The idea behind this is to make the idea of working more appealing if you find yourself having a hard time staying motivated and focused on the task at hand. This idea of constantly changing the order in which you do things works great when weight training. If you’ve ever tried lifting weights for several weeks straight you’ll know what I’m talking about. After several weeks of conditioning your body to lift a certain amount of weight after doing a certain sequence of exercises, it’s no longer breaking down muscle in order to endure the strain of such lifts. In this case your muscles have effectively become numb to the daily grind of the same work out routine that you have been following for the last several weeks. In order to overcome this, simply switch the order in which you do things along with changing the amount of resistance, and you should start to see improvements once again.
06 Jul 2008 - The advantages of being self-sufficient
Growing up as a kid I quickly learned the building blocks of life. You know, the building block that goes something like, “The more money you earn, the more money you spend.” It’s kind of like how some retailers exclaim “The more you spend the more you save!” in their advertisements, it’s even the same as “how now brown cow” Believe it or not, these three sayings go hand in hand with one another.
Some people unfortunately don’t learn about this vital building block of life until it’s too late, and some don’t learn it at all, even after they die. I realized that the only way to avoid having to spend more money was to begin doing things myself. Instead of calling an electrician to come in and install two new breakers I did the installation myself, I change my car’s oil every 30,000 miles myself like I’m supposed to, I wash my car instead of going to a car wash, and I even do my own dental work instead of having to go to a dentist and have them work on my teeth. In fact, I was able to perform my own root canal. At first I thought I had numbed the area fairly well to the point where I was drooling and couldn’t feel anything, but soon after I started the operation I realized that I did the wrong side. Stupid mirrors.
There are several advantages of performing your own work without the help of some stranger who wants to kill you, your family, and your dog and then take all of you possessions and sell them on Craigslist along with your house. The most obvious in this case is the advantage of living longer. At least by one day.
Save yourself money
As the proverbial saying goes, “Time is money” and the only thing that costs more than your own time is the time of others. So instead of taking your computer over to Best Buy and have the Geek Squad “technicians” install more RAM because you have so much spyware running in the background you should read just how easy it is to do this on your own. You might be shocked that it’s about 30 seconds of work. Some how Best Buy comes up with a $60 bill for labor, claiming it took them 45 minutes to do the installation. They usually arrive at this astronomical figure because the “technician” working on your computer went missing when him and a few of his buddies went to play WoW in the back and left the timer running.
I’m not saying go ahead and drop your car’s transmission because it’s slipping when it changes gears – that might be a little too complex for any one person who isn’t an auto mechanic to do. What I’m saying is that the jobs that are usually less than one or two hundred dollars around the house can be done by a prospective do-it-yourselfer. Changing locks, small to mid-sized windows, new doors, lighting and some plumbing are all jobs that can be done by a do-it-yourselfer provided they have done some basic research online before hand. Oh and did I forget the mention that you need to be somewhat of a handyman / woman in order to get some of these things done? A hammer and a screwdriver alone aren’t going to be enough to replace a window.
Take for instance the project I undertook last year in which I installed two 30amp breakers in my basement for two Compaq R3000 UPS units. Prior to the installation I knew virtually nothing about installing new breakers and how to wire them properly. After doing some research online and looking at existing wiring already done in the house, I was confident that I knew enough to make the installation without killing myself or burning the house down.
Sure enough with careful wiring and double checking what I was doing every few steps because I was scared shitless that I was going to kill myself, I was able to complete the installation in just under a half hour. This just goes to show you that with enough careful research and observation skills, you can save yourself a good deal of money going without the help of a professional. Of course, there is always a time and a place for professionals. Use your judgment when it comes to undertaking such projects.
Learn something new
They say that you learn something new everyday. For some this might hold true, but I suspect for most this doesn’t usually take place everyday. In fact, I’m willing to bet it doesn’t usually happen on a weekly basis either. I’ll admit that there are days that go by sometimes in which I feel as though I didn’t learn anything new. As a result, these days usually make me feel like utter trash since it’s almost as if I wasted an entire day of my life since my mind was stagnant.
By doing something yourself instead of paying someone else an ungodly amount of money to do the work for you, it forces you to learn something new that you’ll most likely remember for the rest of your life and can pass on to others.
This knowledge of doing something yourself rather than having someone else do it for you is an invaluable life skill. For a true geek, learning something new has both intrinsic and extrinsic values that are nearly impossible to substitute by watching TV or by playing a video game for hours straight. In all honesty the initial utility from watching TV or playing a video game is greater than learning something new. However, in the long run the overall utility retained from learning something new will outweigh the amount (If any) utility left from engaging in some form of activity involving a television and a bag of potato chips.
Give yourself something to do
Have you ever waited and waited to finally get a day off from work. You know, a day in which you have nothing planned and can do almost whatever you want to do? And when you finally get that day of rest and relaxation, do you ever think to yourself, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!” This is when you should learn to do something yourself rather than hold off and pay someone else to do the job for you.
Speaking from experience again, I need things to do on my days off. Even though I find myself complaining about how it seems like I never get a day off, I always find myself LOOKING for things to do on those days that I do have off. Whether it be cleaning, working on my car, or writing for this website, it seems as though I always need something to do or I’ll find myself going crazy wanting to find things to do around the house. By doing things yourself rather than paying people to do them for you, it gives you things to do on your days off if you’re the type of person that finds themselves going crazy after sitting around for three straight hours.
Saves you time
Let’s suppose you don’t know how to change your car’s tire in the event that you should get a flat. You’re on your way into work one day when you run over a spike strip because you went the wrong way and now you’re forced to wait for a tow truck to either laugh at you and then tow your car away or laugh at you then install a donut on your car to get you to your destination. Most of the time it takes almost an hour for a tow truck to arrive, sometimes even longer depending on the amount of traffic on the roads and your location. Sometimes they might not even come at all.
Now let’s suppose you know how to change your car’s tire in the event of a flat tire. Your car gets a flat; you pull over and get out the jack and the spare tire. You loosen the lug nuts a bit, you jack up the car and the rest is history. You’re back on your way in about ten minute’s time rather than an hour.
Sure it’s great to have a service such as AAA for when you roll your car after smoking a funny one, but do you really need to use them when you have a flat tire? Save yourself some trouble and practice changing your tire on your day off if you don’t know how to change it already. Make sure you read up about it first though – You don’t want the car fall off of the jack and land on top of you even though there’s almost no reason as to why you should be under the car while you’re changing the tire.
There are instances in which the money you spend to have a task completed for you is worth less than the amount of time and effort it would have taken you to complete the same task. If you find yourself having a difficult time fitting the task of doing regular oil changes on your car and can somehow manage to drop your car off while performing other tasks at the same time, then this investment of 30 dollars might be worth the time and the hassle of doing it on your own.
There are still some things that are left up to others to do for you just for that very reason – It’s at times impractical for you to do everything on your own in order to save money here and there. But if you do a generous amount of things on your own, you’ll have more money to invest towards other things.
As you can see, doing tasks in and around your house can be rewarding to yourself and others if you complete the tasks successfully. I say others because it will save other people the time and the hassle of having to deal with you when you feel the need to post a topic asking how to install a new piece of hardware instead of reading the instructions or looking through the already posted threads that have already covered the exact same topic – 5 times over.
26 Jun 2008 - The World's Worst Stunts... Caught on Camera
Ricky Anders is the personification of “average”. He’s your typical 23-year-old overly-ambitious American male who just finished college with a degree in pottery. Since birth he’s always managed to maintain an average lifestyle: Average height and weight, average grades, average daily calorie intake, average hair length. Ricky was as average as taking the mean of a set of ten numbers that are all the same.
Perhaps one of Ricky’s only somewhat unusual traits was his ability to come up with somewhat unusual ideas for having fun. Ricky’s idea of fun has never simply been drinking a few beers at a party with his friends. Instead, Ricky has always been a thrill seeker and stops at no end to get his adrenaline pumping.
It’s was your average day in May – just the way Ricky liked it. The sky was clear, the air was warm and free of humidity and there was a slight breeze from his back which made a large grin appear on his face. The wind gave him reassurance that he was sure to make it into the Florida record books with his next jump. He was as ready as he was ever going to be for the jump of his life, and the jump of his life was as ready as it was ever going to be for him.
Ricky gave the signal to his friend in his work van to slowly accelerate towards the ramp at the end of Grant Street. As he did the nylon rope he was holding in one hand began to grow tighter as it bore the entire weight of his somewhat muscular 145-pound body. As Ricky and his BMX stunt bike began to pick up speed, Ricky noticed that the bike’s front assembly was wobbling because it was not meant for such fast speeds. Though not sure of exactly how fast he was traveling, Ricky thought that he at least hit 40mph right before hitting the ramp. As he got closer to the ramp Ricky began to have second thoughts about the jump, but realized that to abort the jump now would mean total disaster; The brakes on the BMX weren’t made to stop it from going 40mph, not to mention nearly all of his friends were looking on waiting to see him make the jump or bite the dust.
3, 2, 1… Ricky hits the jump and as he’s looking down he sees a blue chalk line and two Xs about 5 feet from where the jump was positioned. He and his two friends calculated that at that exact distance from the building he would make it with a foot to spare. But if he remembered correctly, the ramp was supposed to be on the marks, not after them. It was too late. Just as Ricky looked up to see where he was in relation to the building, the building was already in between his front and rear wheel and the next thing he knew he was looking up into the clear blue sky from a row a bushes.
The above anecdote plays out over and over again on almost what seems to be a daily basis now that services such as YouTube and Google Video (Which happen to be nearly the same thing) allow people to share videos of them doing things that they think are amazing but turn out to be complete failures. Before the advent of YouTube and Google Video, only the dumbest of the dumb ever became famous because in order for their videos to get out to the general public they relied on major news outlets to broadcast them.
There must be some significant driving force behind these people that motivates them into attempting such unrealistic stunts that not even Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris could perform even on their best days. It’s apparent that there’s something more than just fame driving these people after they bite the curb and then get back up and go for it again. We’ve set out to uncover some of the reasons why people attempt crazy and stupid stunts and post their results – successful or unsuccessful - on the internet.
The Adrenaline Rush:
Epinephrine, or “adrenaline” as it’s commonly known throughout the non-medical world, is a hormone that is quickly released in the body during periods of stress. This stress may be a result from threatening environmental factors such as like being 100 feet in the air and knowing you’re not going to land safely, as well as increased levels of excitement and anxiety – Such as the anxiety of knowing you’re not going to land safely.
Adrenaline has almost identical effects on the body as some drugs that are available from pharmacies and street pharmacies around the world. Such effects include an increased heart rate and stroke volume, dilated pupils, and arterioles become constricted both in the skin and the gut. Not to mention adrenaline serves as a great way to break down lipids in the body, so those of you who have trouble losing weight may want to think about jumping off of buildings in an effort to slim down for the summer.
For most stuntmen, doing bat shit insane stunts is like a heroine addict doing as much heroine as they can possibly get their hands on within a 24 hour period. Sure, they may overdose and die in the process, but it’s the rush that they get while doing it that they enjoy the most.
Many describe the rush that they get immediately before a stunt to be almost euphoric in nature – a natural high that the police and DEA can’t bust you for. Perhaps it’s this natural euphoric rush - which also happens to be legal unlike the million other drugs they probably take leading up to the initial thought of jumping the Grand Canyon on a tricycle – that is the main driving force behind such stunts.
The most common response heard when asked “why” is “it’s the rush I get”. Our research shows that this is the most common reason why people do such stupid things while on camera. The fact that it was caught on camera is nothing more than coincidence. Furthermore, the fact that it’s now posted on YouTube or Google Video allows the entire world to laugh at other people’s sheer acts of stupidity.
We weren’t totally satisfied with this one reason as to why there are over a million stupid videos out there that depict people doing stunts that even God himself could not perform so we kept looking for the perfect reason which might explain it all.
Fame and Possibly Fortune:
We went on to discover that some dream about becoming rich and famous after successfully completing a record setting stunt, or a stunt that is so unique that no one has thought about performing it yet. One young man mentioned that the stunt of all stunts to perform would be to somehow fabricate a bike that would be able to travel fast enough to enable the rider to jump over the Atlantic Ocean and land safely on the other side. He added that if someone could achieve such an accomplishment, they would surely win the Nobel Peace Prize. He failed to realize that there is such a bike that can do just that, but it’s no longer called a bike when it travels nearly 500 miles an hour and altitudes of 20,000 feet – it’s called a plane.
Every stuntman can only dream about being as popular as the late Evil Knievel once was. We all know that Knievel was very popular with the ladies and had a plethora of money to go around which enabled him to buy a nice double-wide mobile living unit, a nice car, and most importantly, a new set of hips and various other body parts that he broke over the years while attempting to get into the record books.
Take Gary Brolsma – “the numa numa guy” - for example. Though he didn’t exactly perform a stunt in the traditional sense he became an almost instant internet celebrity when his video was published on Newgrounds.com on December 6th, 2004. Gary has sense went on to published another two numa numa type videos in which he makes himself look like a total moron again. On purpose.
We continued our search for finding out exactly why people insist on doing insane stunts that they know are nearly impossible to complete successfully without taking a trip to the emergency room for a dislocated shoulder or even worse a dislocated head.
The answer was almost right in front of us the entire time: Boredom. When people have nothing else better to do than to sit around at home and think about what they could do with their free time, they begin to think irrationally. “I wonder if I can jump over my garage if I built a big enough ramp” are the types of thoughts that plague the minds of those who have too much time on their hands.
This seems like the logical explanation as to why there are so many videos of people trying to do stupid things on YouTube and Google Video. The vast majority of those who are in those videos are between the ages of 16 and their early to mid twenties. Between those ages young adults are still attending school while living with their parents. They most likely don’t have a job, nor do they have any other responsibilities other than attending school on a regular basis. Once Friday night hits, they are free and clear of such obligations and so the irrational thinking begins.
When we emailed one young adult who was shown trying to grind his way down a flight of stairs that was 25 feet in the air but instead found his head ground against the pavement why he attempted the stunt, he replied that him and his friends were sitting around and had nothing else better to do. He went on to say, “My friends turned around and said, ‘Hey Matt, I bet you can’t grind down that hand rail along those steps over there!’ This wasn’t something that I could let go being as young as I was at the time. They dared me to do it, and I wanted to show them that I was man enough to do it.”
The Opposite Sex:
Those who attempt bat shit insane stunts are predominately single males who wish they had a boyfriend, or in some rare cases, a girlfriend.
Young children do this type of thing all the time. They think that in order to get a girl’s attention they have to do something insane to win them over. However, th...