peanut butter phase, the quantify everything movement, and life frameworks

2012-03-31 17.22.34

starting in january 2012 with a disgusting, yet fateful jar of almond butter and a halfhearted effort of doing “weekday paleo” (……..), i somehow got in the habit of eating A LOT OF PEANUT BUTTER.  somehow this craze didn’t hit me until my 20’s, but here goes, some peanut butter math:

small containers: 11 jars x 14 servings per jar x 190 calories per serving = 29,260 calories
large containers: 4 jars x 25 servings per jar x 190 calories per serving = 19,000 calories

29,260 calories + 19,000 calories = 48,260 calories / 91 days = 530 calories per day of peanut butter, on average, for the first three months of 2012.  whoops.  that’s like.  a subway sub of peanut butter every day.  hmm….

the basic “quantify everything” view:

They are an eclectic mix of early adopters, fitness freaks, technology evangelists, personal-development junkies, hackers and patients suffering from a wide variety of health problems. What they share is a belief that gathering and analysing data about their everyday activities can help them improve their lives—an approach known as “self-tracking”, “body hacking” or “self-quantifying”. (economist – the quantified self via patrick)

yes, fitness dongles are all the rage now, i get it.

my expanded “quantify everything” view: a hyper-rational, hyper-framework/analytics driven way to make life decisions.  we should try to fit everything into boxes, 2×2’s, spectrums, etc. a good deal of this blog is about that, and is what i strive for in life/my own personal decisionmaking.  this is important to me because… various reasons:

  • i believe that emotions and gut decisions can yield bad decisions and would rather be able to back it up with logic.  i feel like so many people in this world make terrible, terrible decisions and have terrible, terrible opinions because they don’t think hard enough about it.  KEEPS US HONEST, keeps us from lying to ourselves.
  • i firmly believe that frameworks make life better.  encourage you to think about things in better ways to maximize your likelihood of success/happiness. 
  • it can be a fun analytical exercise, trying to categorize and understand things.  quantifying things that aren’t meant to be quantified is an interesting challenge to me. 
  • they help me understand the way the world works, making me more prepared (and, on the flip-side, more cynical)
  • sometimes “let’s just see what happens” is a terrible strategy and you need to act deliberately in ways that are against your gut/emotions.  how can you DECIDE to be happy if you don’t have a framework to assist with your decision?

“I think that you’re just a cynic in disguise, trying to get people to convince you otherwise.”

What is life like when you graduate college and start working? (written by my CS106A section leader!!!!!!!!!)

When you graduate from college, you trade in the old anxiety that you might not be able to scrape your way through the latest assignment or pass the next exam for a much deeper and more worthwhile anxiety, that you might fall short of making the most of your opportunities in life.

College is a minimal constraint satisfaction problem, and many of those constraints are purely heuristic/artificial. Life after college is a completely open-ended happiness maximization problem, so to speak, and no one has any clue how to solve it for themselves—much less how to solve it for you.

common criticisms: (for the sake of time, i’m not actually going to respond to them; i certainly understand where they’re coming from; though, in the end, i value them more as warnings and the value of balance.)

analysis ruins nice moments:

“There’s a saying that you should never ask anyone why they love you. This is true-don’t do it. You shouldn’t be rationalizing or analyzing that feeling because the more you do, the more it fades. If you have a positive emotion that you’d like to preserve, don’t think about ‘why’.” (gizmodo)

(by the way, i fully intend on doing a “why do we love each other” blog entry)

analysis hurts relationships, friendships:

His basic idea, hotly disputed by other evolutionary psychologists, is that intelligence applies to novel human activities, so simple but very meaningful and important tasks like friendship, social exchange, mating, and parenting are at best orthogonal to such intelligence. He argues that more intelligent people reject the simplistic solutions offered by common sense as applied to these time-tested arenas even though it is usually the correct solution. Intelligent people are tempted to apply analytic reasoning instead of feelings, unnecessarily complex ideas simply because their intelligence allows them to entertain such complex ideas. (bi – talks about how being smart is bad)

frameworks/analysis can lead to really stupid decisions easily refuted by common sense: (smbc)


decision making/emotions are too complex for rational frameworks:

sean h, in response to my benefriends entry:

i think most people dont understand anything at all or are aware, chances are good that we will never be aware of why we do, but this kind of analysis is apply [sic] first grade arithmetic to the most complicated of human conscientiousness.

If we think we humans can understand using mathematical models to explain the magic of the universe we might as well be dead. We are the sum of all our parts. Given the chemicals that form our body influenced but our cultural upbringing the cause and effect of every action can be explained and someday predicted. Why live if we are robots?

mark loves (loved?) calling me a robot.  to which i would reply: “beep beep boop”. 

loss of basic human interaction skills: (smbc)


ughhhhh MIH ❤ ❤ ❤ (god, i love both of these comics SO MUCH)



cato  cato2


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