A Few of My Favorite Fall Things

Pukka Three Cinnamon Tea

I always keep a box of this on hand. When I get low, I immediately order more from Amazon. Since I can’t handle caffeine and decaf drinks usually don’t taste as great as the original, it is nice to have Pukka Three Cinnamon as a nice warm drink to put me in the fall spirit. I make a glass and add a little soy milk to make it creamy. I find it doesn’t even need sugar or honey (unless I am really craving sweet) because it has its own hint of sweetness that comes naturally from cinnamon. I am always looking for more non-caffeinated fall drinks, so If you have any other favorite fall teas let me know!

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Chili Powder

As you know, chili is the perfect cool weather dish. It warms the house while it’s simmering on the stove and it warms the body as it is enjoyed. There are so many variations of chili these days, but all of them contain one key ingredient, chili powder. Chili powder is amazing. Not only does it make chili, it is also one of the best ways to flavor mushrooms, vegetables, beans, and just about anything else you want to throw at it. Ever since my father had a heart attack, I have been on a very low salt diet. With Chili powder, I don’t miss salt a bit.

 

The Local Farmer’s Market

I truly enjoy the farmer’s market any time of year, but fall is when the baked goods taste extra sweet, the gourds are plump, and the apples are crispy. The close-knit social interactions and friendly faces make the local farmer’s market warm even on the coldest autumn days.

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Inglehoffer Original Stone Ground Mustard

While the American classic yellow mustard goes great on hot dogs in July, nothing beats Inglehoffer Stone Ground mustard in the fall. In my opinion, there is no better mustard, and my favorite grocery store (ALDI) always seems to stock it this time of year – I think because it ties in with Oktoberfest.

 

Bath & Body Works Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte Hand Soap

It is extremely rare for me to spend $6.50 on a bottle of hand soap. I find that price outrageous, but once a year I splurge. I stop by Bath & Body Works and pick out my favorite autumn-scented hand soap. This year I picked the Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte scent. It is sweet and I definitely smell the latte part of it too. What’s your favorite scent?

 

Fine-Tuning My Fall Playlist

I listen to my music seasonally. When September hits, The Cure is one of my absolute favorite bands. There are a few bands I can only listen to in the Fall. They just stir up the Fall feelings in me. I don’t listen to Blink-182’s album Neighborhoods any other time of year, but in the Fall barely a day goes by that I don’t listen to one or two songs from that album. Something about fall makes me want to listen to music, and there is very specific music that I enjoy during this time of year. Anybody else know what I’m talking about?

 

Donnie Darko

I love this movie, and it takes place in fall. It easily fits into my top five movies of all time. I have all kinds of theories and thoughts about Donnie Darko. You can read about one of them here. After you read it, let me know what you think! I could discuss Donnie Darko for hours.

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My Alma Matter’s College Radio Station

The school is Gannon University. The station is 90.5 WERG. I hosted a radio show one fall semester when I was a student. I fell in love with many of the alternative rock songs that we played. Now, I get urges to listen to alternative rock when the back-to-school season hits. In my opinion, there’s no better way to do it than on WERG.

 

Football

I am bad at following player stats and team standings, but on Sunday afternoons there is nothing I would rather do more than watch football. I’m a Buffalo Bills guy, sadly. What’s your team?

 

Home Improvement

There are a handful of TV shows that are great for fall. A few that come to mind are Roseanne, Friends, That 70s Show, and The Simpsons. My favorite of all is Home Improvement. That show has the best Halloween specials, Thanksgiving specials, and Christmas specials, and the whole series gives me that fall feeling.

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Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

I severely limit my apple intake in the Spring and Summer. That way, when fall comes they taste that much better. Not to mention, apples harvested in autumn are the tastiest. When fall comes, I switch from my berry oatmeal to apple cinnamon oatmeal. I like to throw in a few bowls of pumpkin spice oatmeal in here and there, but apple cinnamon is my favorite way to fall when it comes to oatmeal.

 

Fall Fashion

One of the great things about the change of seasons is the fresh feeling of a change in wardrobe. When the weather cools off, I switch from tee shirts and oxford shirts to flannels, chambrays, and sweaters. What is your favorite fall outfit?

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Turn Spaghetti Sauce into Chili Sauce

When I was a kid living with my parents, we often had hot dogs in the fridge. More often, we had spaghetti sauce in the lazy susan. However, we usually didn’t have a can of chili sauce.

That was probably for the best. Canned chili sauce is usually loaded with preservatives, sodium, and other unpronounceable things.

The nice thing about chili sauce is that it is basically just spaghetti with a few added ingredients. So, if you have hot dogs, but no chili sauce, here is my suggestion.

There are a couple spices you need to convert spaghetti sauce into chili sauce. The two main spices are chili powder and cumin. Add a couple teaspoons of those spices to a cup of spaghetti sauce, then cover the dish and microwave for a couple minutes. That will get you something that is pretty dang close to chili sauce.

If you want to kick things up a notch, add some chili pepper. If you want to put a little spin on it, add some cinnamon. And if a hot dog isn’t enough meat for you, pan fry some ground beef and mix it into the sauce.

It is that simple.

Environmentally Sustainable Computers and Technology

“To reverse the effects of civilization would destroy the dreams of a lot of people. There’s no way around it. We can talk all we want about sustainability, but there’s a sense in which it doesn’t matter that these people’s dreams are based on, embedded in, intertwined with, and formed by an inherently destructive economic and social system. Their dreams are still their dreams. What right do I — or does anyone else — have to destroy them.

At the same time, what right do they have to destroy the world?” 
― Derrick JensenEndgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization

We have some huge steps to climb in the field of technology. Technology (aka: tools) can be of great importance to civilization. They can also destroy it. In the technology and computer industries, one of our main concerns should be environmental sustainability because if we destroy the world, there will be no use for tools anyway. Watch some of my favorite documentaries like Sustainable (this is my all-time favorite documentary), The Smog of the Sea, or In Search of Balance, and you will quickly understand the importance of a healthy environment.

Computers, with their large amounts of power-consumption and their heavy reliance on precious minerals from the Earth, certainly have their environmental impact. The good news is that many people and companies are working on reducing and even eliminating that impact.

The biggest enemies of the environment seem to be corporate-scale farming (aka factory farming), transportation, and power production/consumption.

The Computer Industry Takes Its Toll

The computer industry fits into each of these industries in various ways. The most obvious is power. Computers use electricity. Computers also use other natural resources from the Earth like silicon and steel. And, if not properly recycled, they contribute to pollution.

In the corporate-scale farming and transportation sectors, there is a little more hope. The processing power, the analytical thinking power, of modern computers can be used to find ways of making farming (and other industries for that matter) more sustainable. The networking power of modern computers can be used to significantly reduce the environmental impact of transportation simply by allowing more people to work remotely. This can significantly cut down on driving and flying.

I’m not an easy person to convince, and if I were the ruler of the world, I would probably just say, “to Hell with computers. We did alright without them for a long time.” But then again, I don’t know God’s ultimate plan, so the best I can do is what I am doing right now, think about how I can do what is right, what is virtuous.

Great News for the Environment

In my thinking and researching, I found some great news. In fact, it may be the best news I have seen all year. It should be news that is on the front page of every newspaper and news website. It should be spread because it is good news, and it is news that can affect positive change.

The great news I found is that Microsoft, Google, and Apple (pretty much the three biggest players in the computer industry) all do at least a little bit – they are at least aware – by way of environmental sustainability. In fact, after finding the environmental web pages for each of the companies, I am hopeful that computers may be more of a solution than a problem for environmental sustainability.

Here are links to Microsoft’s, Google’s, and Apple’s environmental sections. They all look pretty good. Microsoft claims that its global operations have been carbon-neutral since 2012, Google claims Google’s got all kinds of projects working towards sustainability, and Apple claims that 100% of the energy used to power their data centers is produced by wind, solar, or water.

Of course, it would not be in these companies’ best interest to report on the bad, so we can’t expect them to do that. But the important thing is that they are putting some effort into doing good for the environment.

Improvements that computers can help with

That good news got me thinking less about throwing my computer out the window (although, I would still like to do that with a few of the computers and people I deal with each day), and more about ways I would like to see computers improve our world. Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Improve network infrastructure and communication media to make it possible for more people to travel less
  • Improve efficiency in the workplace so that people can work less. Wouldn’t 30 hour work weeks be awesome!? My hope is that this extra time would be spent on positive things like gardening/homesteading (sustainable food), cooking (instead of eating out, because restaurants typically don’t use sustainable practices), and being with family and friends (happiness).
  • Provide opportunity for the poor to get out of their poverty if they so choose. Essentially, I would like computers to be accessible enough that they create a more even playing field, so that those who work hard and contribute to society are justly compensated. Computers can create a more even playing field by giving the poor opportunities for work that they might not have otherwise had. These opportunities might include giving a voice to the voiceless (by way of blogging/broadcasting), providing free information for learning and knowledge, and aiding in finding work.

We’re not there yet, but we can be soon

Though it looks like we’re going in the right direction with computers, we aren’t there yet. We always need to be vigilant, watching out for the gifts God has given us. For this to work, we all need to play our part. We need to keep companies in check. And we need to keep ourselves in check by doing things like recycling our old devices, reducing power consumption, and reusing items that still work like the mouse from an old computer or the power adapter from an old phone.
If you are interested in learning more about computers and sustainability, here are some great resources I have come across in my research:

A Bit About Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko is my favorite film to watch during the Halloween season. It is creepy and takes place in October. Also, the soundtrack kicks butt.

My affection for the movie goes beyond the great setting though. What really draws me are the theories and discussions surrounding the movie.

At first glance, the plot is confusing and nonsensical. Even then, the movie is great. The characters are interesting, the romance is bold, and the humor is just right.

After reading up on the movie, one starts to realize it is not just a movie. It is a poem.

I have watched Donnie Darko many times, and each time I have noticed new details. When I notice something new, I consider how it plays into the plot.

If you haven’t read up on Donnie Darko theory, click this link for a good overview.

I could discuss my own theories and observations about the movie for weeks. I won’t do that, but when I watched the movie today, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

Donnie goes to the movie theater with his girlfriend, Gretchen Ross. While watching The Evil Dead, Gretchen falls asleep, and Donnie sees Frank. Frank tells Donnie to go burn down Jim Cunningham’s house. Donnie does what Frank tells him. As he exits the movie theater, the theater marquee in the background shot says, “The Evil Dead,” and below that, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

Those words, “The Last Temptation of Christ” are the hinge of my theory. I’ve noticed the placement of the words before, but hadn’t thought much about their role in the plot.

At first, it appears that “The Last Temptation of Christ” means Frank has tempted Donnie (the savior figure of the story, the “Christ”) to burn down Jim Cunningham’s house. I believe the temptation is the opposite of that. Donnie is tempted to not burn down Jim Cunningham’s house.

Jesus Christ actually overcame His last temptation. He did not succumb to it.

If burning down Jim’s house is the temptation, then the “Last Temptation of Christ” sign doesn’t make sense because Donnie did burn Jim’s house down. If burning Jim’s house down is the temptation, Donnie succumbed to temptation, unlike Jesus Christ.

Further evidence supporting my theory is the fact that Donnie is always thinking about girls. This is made evident in one of his hypnotherapy sessions.

At the theater, Donnie was sitting right next to his girlfriend. That is paradise for a teenage boy. That is what Donnie really wants. He wants to stay right there with Gretchen. However, if he stays, the world will not be saved.

The world will not be saved because Donnie will not have a strong enough reason to save it. Donnie will not have a strong enough reason to save it because he will not have to save Gretchen. He will not have to save Gretchen because Gretchen will not get hit by Frank’s car. Gretchen will not get hit by Frank’s car because there will never be a party. There will never be a party because Donnie’s mom will not be out of town. Donnie’s mom will not be out of town because the mean dance coach lady will be able to chaperone. The mean dance coach lady will be able to chaperone because Jim Cunningham will not be on trial. Jim Cunningham will not be on trial because he will not be busted with child porn. He will not be busted with child porn because the firemen will not find his secret porn stash. The firemen will not find his secret porn stash because Donnie will not set his house on fire. Donnie will not set his house on fire because he succumbed to his temptation to stay with Gretchen.

Donnie is tempted to stay right there with Gretchen because he knows, as Frank states in the theater scene, what is going to happen. Donnie knows he will die if he does not burn Jim Cunningham’s house down.

Donnie is tempted to not burn Jim Cunningham’s house down. Like Jesus Christ, Donnie overcomes the temptation in order to save the world.

That is my theory about the meaning of the sign behind Donnie when he exits the movie theater. Any Donnie Darko fans/theorists out there, what do you think?

P.S. I wrote a song about Donnie Darko a couple years ago. If you understand the movie, you will understand the song. You can listen to it on my YouTube channel.

Note Minimalism

Minimalism of notes.

I do not have enough time to act on all of my ideas – too many ideas, too little time. So instead of acting on them, I wrote them down.

I wasted all kinds of time writing down ideas that would never come to fruition. My list of ideas grew out of control. It took a few hours just to read it through.

Due to my overabundance of ideas, I was overwhelmed, and nearly paralyzed in my ability to act on them. I didn’t know where to start let alone finish.

In order to save time and hack my mind into completing more projects, I came up with the idea of note minimalism. And I did not add it to my list of ideas.

The idea of note minimalism is to eliminate the documentation of ideas that will never turn into actions.

The Rules of Note Minimalism

Rule for tracking ideas:

  • Do not write ideas down

Rule for acting on ideas:

  • Work on one project per medium at a time. This means that I can work on a few projects simultaneously as long as they’re different types. For example, I can work on one website, one song, one blog post, and one novel, all at the same time. However, I cannot work on two or more websites, two or more blog posts, or two or more novels at the same time.

The golden rule:

  • Do not start a new project of the same medium until:
  • Completing the current project, or
  • Trashing the current project

A Mind Hack for Motivation

In his idea/task organization book, Getting Things Done, David Allen argues that writing things down is important. He says it frees the mind to focus on the task at hand.

I tried Allen’s system. It may work for some, but it did not work for me. I found that writing the idea down ruins my drive to act on it. The project loses its urgency. I figure, now that its written down, I can finish it some other time. That time never comes.

Each new idea comes with a little bundle of excitement. By refusing to write the idea down, and refusing to work on two projects at once, the mind is forced to channel its excitement into the current project. It thinks, “I must finish this project so I can work on the new, exciting one.”

The Test of Time

It is my hope that note minimalism will lead to increased time for working on projects, and increased drive to complete projects. I have been following the rules of note minimalism for a couple weeks now, and, look, I’m actually posting stories on Medium!

This early in the trial, it is possible that the excitement of the new idea, rather than the implementation of the idea, is the driving force. These things always seem to work great at first. Only in time will we know the truth.