Luminary Perspective

March 21, 2006

Thoughts on Rhythm

The more I think about it, the more it seems like rhythm is the ultimate key to hacking our wetware. The flow of ideas and thoughts inside us is based to a large degree on timed functions. All you have to do is synchronize them properly and they can accomplish anything that is possible for a mind to accomplish.

Rhythm reduces the amount of energy that it takes for the mind to accomplish a particular task. A non-repeating beat is never as easy to process as a repeating one. However that is not to say perfect rhythm is the only thing that is useful in life. Often it helps to break a flawed pattern. However, this only works if there are sufficient resources available to correct it.

Thus, it is good to start with with a rhythm until sufficient resources exist to handle a break, then locate a flaw and temporarily break the rhythm over it. This is a really basic principle.

R mental
H  composed of timed functions : rhythm synchronizes
Y social
T  people expect rhythmic behaviour : schedules, ideas synchronize
H flaws in a pattern
M  may be ignored for a time : must be confronted at the right time
I repeating patterns
C  build energy : permit growth : not always perfect

Growing Worms

Filed under: Business, Efficiency, Spiritual Growth, Technical — Luke @ 10:56 am

Last summer, we had the bright idea to purchase some red worms. The little critters are fairly hardy, but even so we thought we lost them last winter when the bin froze solid. Well, this spring I dug around in the bin and it turns out there are several breeding adults still alive in there. Apparently they either grew from eggs, or survived freezing.

I like worms. They are nature’s farmers, constantly plowing and fertilizing the soil. Nightcrawlers are about 5-10 inches long, and plow deep burrows into the subsoil. They come out at night to find any food lying about, then pull it down and eat it. They also leave some of their castings on the surface where it buries loose rocks and fertilizes surface plants. Their tendancy to dig deeply makes them a tree’s best friend, because the roots of trees need spaces to grow into and ways for water and air to pass through the soil.

Red worms are different from night crawlers, because they are smaller and require a higher carbohydrate intake to survive. They thrive on manure piles and rotting vegetable matter, and reproduce quite a bit faster. This is the kind we have in our worm bin. We feed them coffee grounds and table scraps, along with rotting leaves and such for bedding. Our current bin is half of a plastic 55-gallon drum with holes in the bottom for drainage. I am planning to make a larger one by stacking some tires on top of each other.

Not only are worms good for the soil, they make great fishing bait. Red wrigglers are popular because they wriggle around more than nightcrawlers. They (and/or their castings) should be fairly easy to sell if we can get them to reproduce enough.

W red worms
O  reproduce fast : eat high-calorie stuff : small
R night crawlers
M  come out at night : dig deep burrows : greatly improve soil
B worm growing
I  use red worms : feed table scraps : need bin with drainage
N

Fluency-Based Learning

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Efficiency, Writing & Education — Luke @ 8:27 am

There has been some fascinating research done in fluency-based learning. This is a training technique where higher-speed, rhythmic answering of questions is favored over short-term accuracy. With my current understanding of neurochemistry and accelerated learning, this makes a lot of sense.

Rhythm releases energy-carrying chemicals into the nerves, muscles, and brain cells involved, and helps thoughts to occur synchronously with each other so they can connect logically. It also links them together in the memory, boosting long-term retention. The faster you practice something, the more energy is supplied when you try it the next time. Having this extra energy available creates an added boost to performance and memory for the skill, even if it wasn’t done with pure accuracy the first time.

In my experiments with the Dvorak typing tutor, I have found that by getting into a rhythm and not breaking it, I get more learning done than by going for strict accuracy. Not to say accuracy isn’t worth striving for, but it is a different function from fluency, which is having the right answer come to you immediately.

Howard Stephen Berg’s famous speed reading course starts out by instructing you to train yourself by reading through the book without even trying for comprehension, rubbing your hand across the pages in various rhythmic patterns. This is to condition your mind to expect mental activity at that rate, and supply a steady flow of energy to the high-speed reading rate that you are shooting for. It also helps train your eyes not to get fixated for too long on a given part of the text, but to rhythmicly move over the whole page.

Writing is another area where I believe the concept of fluency-based learning has helped me. I write more quickly than I would naturally be inclined to, and don’t worry about mistakes until after I’ve made them. I actually make fewer of them this way, and it increases my writing speed more in the long run as well.

F high-speed testing
L  prepares the mind : supplies more energy : better retention
U speed-reading
E  high rhythmic rate conditions mind : more energy made available
N speed-writing
C  write things faster and rhythmicly : quality can be worked on seperately
Y

Computer Game: Learn Dvorak

I just came across a neat computer game. It involves pressing keys really fast. If you hit the right key, you go up a level, but if you hit the wrong key you lose a level. Sound fun?

It’s name is dvorak7min, and came shipped standard with the full Debian linux distribution. I have had it around for 6 months, but unfortunately didn’t bother to try it until this morning. (Shame on me!) All I needed was to switch to dvorak mode using xkbdconfig, and I was good to go. It is awesome, with instant feedback for every right or wrong key-press and an optional display that shows which key you need to press next. If having it blink at you doesn’t work, enable “Nastiness on” and it will start making you think twice.

Maybe a Dvorak typing tutor doesn’t sound too exciting to you. Compared to modern-day games, perhaps it isn’t that engaging. It doesn’t force you to be entertained by the way they do. You could get bored with it quickly if you had too much other entertainment avalable. But for someone like me who has been away from anything more advanced than minesweeper for about 3 months, it’s fun and addicting, much as is vimtutor.

The big advantage is I am learning a useful skill today, whereas I could be busy boosting my reaction time at pumping fake lead into fake corpses. The fact is, I want to be good with the dvorak keyboard — it’s only because I haven’t practiced that I’m not. I have heard many good things about it’s benefits in terms of ergonomics and efficiency. Not only that, but for the unaddicted mind, a tutorial like this has the same stress-relieving potential of any commercial game out there.

D like a game
V  dvorak7min : run xkbdconfig to switch : instant feedback 
O learning a useful skill
R  dvorak can speed up typing : enhances qwerty speed
A why not?
K  regular games more forceful : addiction to them tough to break

March 20, 2006

Stuff about Esperanto

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Technical, Writing & Education — Luke @ 12:31 pm

One of my favorite languages is esperanto. I like it because it is as easy for me to learn as it is for anyone else in the world. That’s not quite true of english, which is not as easy for everyone else to learn as me.

In esperanto, there is a set of root words. These can be made feminine, negated, or conjugated in various ways by adding the proper suffixes. They can also be made nouns, plural nouns, objects, subjects, adjectives, past tense verbs, present tense verbs, and future tense verbs. In every case, these are added in a consistent manner so you can apply the same rule in every situation.

Some roots are vir, akv, frat, est, am. Viro is a man, virino is a woman. Akvo is water, and akva is wet. Frato is brother, fratino is sister. Malfrato is a non-sibling, and malakva is dry. Estas is to be in the present, estos is to be in the futire, and estis is to be in the past. “Mi amos min fratino” means I will love my sister. “Li estas min frato” means “he is my brother/sibling.” “Ili estas fratoj” means “they are siblings.”

All in all, it is an easy language to pick up, compared to most others. (Admittedly, so are most other constructed languages.) It is also a good introduction to the learning of foreign languages, teaching people to think in terms of the parts of speech and the variety of ways they can be represented.

ES Advantages
PE  easy to learn : same from any background : intro to linguistics
RA Basics
NT  set of roots : repeatable rules : consistent pronunciation
O

Relavent Links:
Esperanto in English

Fe Fi Fo Fum, Terminology on the Run

Filed under: Personality Types, Writing & Education — Luke @ 11:32 am

Lately I have been using a mock-MBTI version of the personality type letters system. Instead of putting a J or P at the end, I determine order of traits by simply writing them in order. EFS, ITN instead of ESFJ or INTJ. It’s simpler and makes more sense to my mind.

However it is prone a little to misunderstanding. A bit like the vi editor or the forth language, it is really ridiculously simple once you know it, but you do have to know it for it to make any sense. If you don’t know that traits alternate, you won’t know that IFN means extroverted intuition, for example.

That is why I sometimes use the longhand literal form of appending a lowercase letter telling the directedness of a given letter. Although it is more cumbersome to write, it has the advantage of being harder to misunderstand. This is where I put “FeSiNeTi”, “TiNeSiFe”, or “FiNeSiTe”.

With all that CamelCaps, you can see why I get tired of it. But it is easier to see what I’m saying if you are still learning the system. Also, in communication it is nice to be able to use the abbreviations like “Fe” instead of “extroverted feeling” because it cuts down on the conversational workload.

My type is INT. That means Ni with Te, which come with Fi and Se. Go figure. 🙂

S Mock-MB
H  really easy : has slight learning curve
O CamelCaps version
R  too long : educational value : abbreviations useful
T

Churning out “The Stuff”

I have just not been getting as much done as easily lately. Some days writing 5 medium-sized posts is easy, others it’s hard. Today, I just want to stop and do nothing. But I know if I do that it will cost me in terms of will-power and discipline in the long run.

Today I have written two. They weren’t bad, but could have been better. To all my loyal readers, I thank you for your patience. I will try again to get my writing style down to improve. It won’t be easy, but that isn’t the point. The point is it will be harder to do what I want in life if I quit.

In a way, it’s a good sign that I’m getting discouraged and frustrated. It means I am challenging myself. If I had stuck with an easy rate, I wouldn’t be growing. The longer I stick with this rate, the more growth I will achieve, and the more likely that I will get to a point where this is “too easy”, even on a daily basis. Perhaps then I can double up and make it really hard on myself. 😉

W Hitting the wall
O  5 posts is overwhelming today : yet not impossible
R Skills take time
K  challenging rate is hard : unchallenging rate won't bring growth

Learning The vi Editor — The Right Way

Filed under: Motivation, Technical — Luke @ 9:08 am

I studied the vi editor yesterday. It is satisfying for me to take in information on various subjects, and even more satisfying when the study starts paying off in terms of time and effort saved. Some of the commands I found handy were dw, cw and ZZ. I used to always use :wq or :q! to quit when I finished with a file, but now I know that ZZ and ZQ available, and much easier to type.

What I really appreciate (maybe it comes with being INT 😛 ) is that the paradigm of vi is based on the idea that an alphanumeric keyboard with two meta keys (shift and control) is sufficient. I am just getting myself weaned off of the “return”, “escape”, and “backspace” mentality. CTRL-M, CTRL-C, and CTRL-H take care of each of these nicely, while h, j, k, and l guide the cursor through the file, eliminating the need for arrow keys. The end result is less stretching of the fingers and less distraction.

If you ever have any question, chances are the gap in your knowledge can be fixed in a few minutes by typing :help . If this doesn’t give the result you are after, try searching for whatever with the forward-slash. (You’ll know all about this after going through vimtutor.) Once you have learned vi, it is hard not to like it.

M Paradigm
O  no non-alphanumeric needed : more simple once you learn it
R Problems
E  none once you learn it : easy to quit before mastering
V How To
I  vimtutor : use :help and / : learn the control and shift-keys

Seeking Spiritual Gifts

Filed under: Personality Types, Spiritual Growth — Luke @ 5:53 am

There is an interesting set of passages in Romans 13 regarding spiritual gifts. These are all ways of helping others, and they seem to develop in people over time, unlike typological personality traits which are more set in stone.

However they are all things that certain types often acquire more naturally and easily than others. An intuitive person has more natural tendancy to prophesy, and a logical person often has more ability to teach things. A sensing person has more immediate inclination towards helping others, and a feeling person is often inclined to build up and motivate (exhort) people to do better.

Everyone has some amount of each typological trait, with two of them being stronger and more important to them. Thus, the gifts are possible for everyone to learn, but not everyone has developed them all to the same extent or in the same direction.

A lack of mercifulness is not a good thing, neither is a lack of willingness to help others. A lack of ability to teach truth, or to discern the hidden meanings of things is not good either. No one should settle for a lack of any of these. We need to expand and grow in areas of weakness, not ignore or rationalize them away. I’m not saying you need to be an expert in them, but you should strive for a reasonable ability in each of them.

We all have chances to learn and grow, and we should recieve each of these gifts in a manner that enhances and works together with the way we are constructed as individuals. If I become more of a server or administrator, it won’t be because my sensing side ascended in preference order, or changed direction. It will be because my God-given type of personality really does have the capacity for them.

SP Everyone has some gifts
IR  : personality traits can predispose : not limited by p-type
IT Not a competition
UA  : gifts from God : all are ways of helping others
LG Developing more
IF  : divine guidance is part of the process : some come more easily
TS

March 19, 2006

Learning Versus Doing

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Motivation — Luke @ 12:43 pm

I have spent years studying about accelerated learning techniques, was not able to apply it much until recently. It just seemed like no matter how hard I tried to learn, it didn’t make a difference.

The trouble was, I was not putting them into practice. They required being put into practice and used repeatedly until they started kicking in. Instead of using the techniques repeatedly until the skills kicked in, I used them briefly while I was studying them specifically, then moving on to the next topic of interest.

My strategy of focusing completely on that which I am currently learning the most about, is not a bad thing in the right context. It lets me get a lot done faster. Unfortunately it has caused me to forget to practice certain things that need daily application to fully attain. Only by trying these things daily for a long enough period of time can they be ingrained to a great enough extent to make a person into a speed-learner.

The solution is to form a daily practice routine, and to then commit to learning them. Although the skills don’t come overnight for most people, they are worth attaining, even if it takes months or years.

LE Skills
AR  : need practice : not acquired overnight : more than information
NI Temporary Focusing
NG  : maximizes assimilation of information : not skills
DO Strategy
IN  : use valuable skills daily : schedule time for other focusing
G
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