Journal Entry 361 – New Treadmill, Book Recaps: Waking Up, A Brief History Of Time, Change Your Mind, Eli Retirement (Long One)

Sarah and I decided to get a treadmill for the house. I haven’t really done legit cardio with any consistency since we moved into the house about a year and a half ago. We got one that is about 165lbs assembled. After researching treadmills, you either go really small and it will likely fall apart soon or you go with the BIG ones that are very expensive, fancy and take up a whole room. Luckily the one we found was in the middle. It has all the same features and look of a bigger treadmill, but it’s like a fraction of the size. Personally, I used it 5 days in a row last week and then got super burned out the last day. I have always enjoyed running but just like anything else, when you do it too much, you get burned out, bored, etc… So as of now, my routine will be balanced between 2-3 days of cardio, 2-3 days of lifting and 2-3 days completely off. All of these different days have benefits and ensure I don’t burnout towards any one way of training.

As I stated in my previous post, my plan was a book a month. I have already read 3 books. These are not easy reads either. I write down important notes, look up words/topics/people I’m unfamiliar with due to the fact that the authors have a very advanced vocabulary. (Not sure if it’s just to show off or they genuinely use those words.) I’m also trying to change the subject of the book each time, so kind of like exercise, I don’t get burned out on reading similar topics even when I find that topic very interesting.

Books read so far:

Waking Up by Sam Harris – This is a book that explores the various religions of the world and its main focus is on meditation and the author’s experience with it. He explores Eastern Meditation more specifically a couple forms of Buddhist meditation. These people try to transcend through meditation leaving the ego (the self) and all of the worldly pleasures behind. Transcend being a spiritual term, something that happens to you mentally through intense effort and when you pass away. He stated that most westerners have likely achieved a similar state when on LSD or Psilocybin. If taken responsibly with a guide/expert/therapist/etc.. (not the way they usually are) they can be a very transformative experience that quite literally help to interconnect your brain.  I don’t want to go too indepth here as the topic was complex and the book was long. To say the author’s vocabulary was impressive would be an understatement. I would recommend it if your interested in mediation. I myself have not ever meditated on purpose, even though it is rapidly growing in popularity. A bit slow, but I like the author. I would say like 7.5 out of 10.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – Holy hell this book was insane. He presented it in a very simple to grasp way, but I had to take a lot of notes on this one. He goes into various topics of evolution, God, Physics (Obviously), the future of our race, etc.. The Universe is made up of Matter, Energy and Space. Mass and Energy essentially being light and living organisms. Space is a vast store of empty negative energy. The Universe is actually in perfect balance between positive and negative energy. The Universe likely started about the size of a proton and Quantum Mechanics may explain the Big Bang. At the beginning of the Big Bang, Time began. If you traveled back in time, the universe would collapse in on itself being reabsorbed to a tiny singularity (huge mass of energy and gravity in a tiny amount of space) beginning point. Similar to what you would expect a black hole to do. A Black Hole is a star that collapses in on itself with gravity so powerful, light (the fastest thing in the universe) can not escape.

Hawking, does not believe in God. His main argument as I understand it is that time started when the Big Bang begin (a singularity). Which means God would have had to been around before this event took place. But based on the laws of nature and matter nothing could have existed before this time, as there was no time or nothing to exist in. Just reading this gives me a headache, but personally, I don’t feel this is a strong enough argument to disprove anything. If you believe that the universe was created out of randomly appearing protons through the very confusing nature of Quantam Mechanics, you can’t rule out a supreme power either. (I take a very agnostic approach to all of this.) This book is WAY too dense to cover it all here. These reviews or recaps if you will are just to provide some really interesting takeaways I got from each book.

A few other interesting tidbits were M-Theory. A Complete Unified Theory – which suggests that the universe may have a very large number of possible histories. A multiverse theory if you will, where everything that is possible may have happened in an alternative universe. Kind of a scary thought if you think about it. That means I could be contemplating suicide in one universe after a terrible life and a multi-billionaire in another. Not sure how I feel about this theory.

Consciousness likely is tied to intelligence somewhere in our evolution. All conscious beings have a huge percentage of processes that happen subconsciously, but the ability to perceive our environment and surroundings is a conscious activity. Millions of years ago we had to pass down intelligence through DNA. In the last 10000 years, we haven’t actually gotten any smarter from an evolution standpoint. However, due to written language and passing down knowledge from one generation to the next as well as technology to assist, our intelligence as a species has increased dramatically. Genetically modified humans (DNA alteration) will be a thing in the future. This means humans that have no diseases and can potentially live hundreds to thousands of years among other favorable traits. We will not last long as a species if we do not stop destroying the planet, however. Due to the sheer size of space and our current technology, we are on pace to destroy ourselves faster than we are to travel space with any real success.

I will finish with this interesting statement, wormholes are still poorly understood and not likely to be a method of travel (as of yet) so the fastest we can go is the speed of light (670,616,629 mph). This means the nearest star is 8 years away at that speed and to reach the center of this galaxy, which is a tiny speck in terms of the size of the Universe, it would take 50000 years. You’re head hurt yet? Mine sure as hell did. I don’t think I have ever had my mind blown so many damn times in my life. HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. It’s not too long either, but you will likely need to look up stuff, write facts down and re-read statements a few times. I would rate this book 9.5 out of 10.

Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – This book was somewhat off the coattails of Waking Up. The author looks into the history of psychedelic drugs, how the stigma around them was created and their use today. The history piece was pretty interesting at first, but some of it felt it dragged on too long. Psychedelics have been around for a long time and used in cultures all across the world in various forms through Peyote or Mescaline (American Indians and Mexican Cultures),  Ayahuasca (South America), LSD (literally from a fungus called Ergot) discovered on accident only 100 years ago and made popular around the 60’s. If there are any Hippies reading this, you are likely familiar with this one. Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) this one has been around a LONG time. Most researchers say in the BC period. Made popular to Westerners in the 60’s through Tim Leary, a Harvard Professor who started taking a lot of drugs and started the counterculture movement. This drug was just legalized in Colorado and California. Believe it or not its almost impossible to overdose on LSD and Mushrooms from a physical standpoint. That being said people should proceed with EXTREME caution when taking these. They are not to be taken lightly and while they can be transformative to people in a positive way (more loving, less selfish, more creative, stronger spiritually, even increased intelligence if used correctly) they can also incite terror while the subconscious parts of your brain come to the surface and force you to deal with things that you may not be ready for. Time is distorted, which can make the experience endure for much longer than you would like.

He basically then goes to say there is an underground network of therapists who use these drugs intelligently to help transform the lives of people with mental issues, PTSD, Depression, Cancer and there seems to be a very promising success rate to cure these people. He also cautions that if you have any history of Schizophrenia, stay the hell away from these things. The brain has a Default Mode Network. This is quite literally your ego and “normal reality” that everyone is used to. When this goes offline (through the use of drugs) your brain becomes more interconnected and your perceptions can change drastically. A good read. I obviously do not use these drugs as they are still highly illegal in this country. However, he presented a good case for them to be used appropriately given a certain situation.

I have a theory about the powerful effects of these drugs. Especially about one he mentioned called 5-MEO-DMT, which is from the venom of a specific Toad native to Colorado and South America that you then have to dry its venom in the sun and then after the venom has been removed, you smoke the after-effects. (How the hell do people figure this out, am I right?) I think these drugs may have somewhat of a Near Death Experience to them acting as short-acting poisons. Not enough to kill you if you get the dose down (again there is almost no amount of LSD or Mushrooms that can kill you from physically taking the drug) but affecting your brain in a similar fashion to those that pass away. However, since you are not dead, your ego is still fighting to hold on to you. This creates an interesting interaction between your brain in this reality and the “next realm/reality/spirit world” if you will.

Overall a good read. May have been a bit slow, but the author did a LOT of research on a subject that is not easy to research at all. He did a great job presenting it over the 400 or so pages. I also learned a lot from this book. 8.5 out of 10.

My main goal of this reading frenzy project is to simply learn a lot. Especially about things that I’m unfamiliar with. You can only read so many nutrition and exercise books. 😉 As I finish a book I will write up my recap, so that I don’t have 3 books in one MONSTER post.

Eli Manning – My favorite player of all time and personal hero Eli Manning retired yesterday. To say I’m happy for him would be a massive understatement and I’m really glad he decided to retire. His contract was up, there was no market as there are a LOT of young QBs coming up through the draft, and he can finish a New York Giant. It’s rare for a player to spend his entire career with one team. The Giant’s have also retired his number 10. He has nothing left to prove to anyone and won his team two Superbowls in a 16-year span. Understand that this is more than half the teams in the NFL have ALL TIME. Winning a Superbowl is no small feat. I have watched literally every single game Eli Manning ever had in the league. Certainly had some ups and downs, some good Giants teams and bad Giants teams and rode the waves of the angry media and fans that Eli took on full force. Eli’s is 7th all-time in passing yards and 7th in touchdowns. When other players talk about him, it’s nothing but overwhelmingly positive. Eli made a lot of players better. Especially receivers. He was a great team player and will certainly be missed.

Journal Entry 360 – New Decade 2020

Another year in the books. 2020 marks the beginning of my 4th decade, which is kind of insane to think about. 2019 was a good year overall and certainly went by fast. A lot of coffee was consumed, certainly had its fair share of stressful moments, made my first trip to Europe, had several gatherings with friends/families/parties, completed several workouts, listened to way too many Joe Rogan podcasts and endured a long year of watching subpar Hokies/Giants games. Eli Manning turned 39 years old yesterday and will likely retire this offseason. 😦 The Giants have moved on to Daniel Jones, there are several great QBs coming out of college and there is simply a very limited if not non-existent market for Eli. Wished his career would have ended differently as I thought he deserved better. The Giants organization is really frustrating and really think they need an overhaul. I digress though.

New years typically bring new goals. Most people have great motivation to start the year and then it fizzles out pretty quickly. At the end of the year, they never really end up achieving anything. To quote Will Smith “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” I think this is a good way to look at it. I already have habits in place that are beneficial and don’t feel the need to do a complete overhaul to become a healthier person. That being said I do have a couple of things I would like to focus on this year, that would help make me a better person.

First, would be to read a book a month. Now this book isn’t going to be an easy read. I typically go non-fiction and also research a lot about the topics that the book mentions that I’m not overly familiar with. I think a book a month is a good starting point with all of the other factors I need to balance in my life. This is a great tool for building knowledge about a certain subject and just increasing overall intelligence.

Second, would be to simply stress less. I think anxiety is built into my genes and was always something I’ve battled with. Anxiety is usually a negative term, but it can actually be very useful as well. A double-edged sword if you will. It helps get things done, but can also be a nasty source of unneeded stress. I take zero medication for anything other than my Psoriasis. This is the way I prefer it. It’s on me to fix the root cause. I do think several things can be improved upon though to help battle stress/anxiety. Have a bit more patience with things, leave 10 minutes earlier for work (I leave early anyway, but I mean really early), so traffic does not play a factor, be more understanding about new advisors using our software (newbs), spend less time reading toxic Social Media articles or posts, continue my really good grasp on personal finance and find ways to get better without overwhelming myself.

I do have a workout routine in place to start the new year and it consists of 2 workouts on the weekend (more time off) and two workouts (Heavy) during the week at the gym. This gives me 3 lunch breaks off during the week to relax and likely just read whatever book I’m doing for the month. It also helps me avoid the new crowd of the gym. Diet will continue from last year. I like the way I currently eat and don’t really see a need to change it.

Until next time!