crazy awesome, quora

“Sweet, intense and cool all in one.”  Urban Dictionary thus defines “crazy awesome,” solidifying the phrase into infinite internet existence.  Yes.  It doubles as a description of Quora.

My last three blog posts have featured Quora.  Why?  Because it is impacting how I think and I think I should share the process as it unfolds.

Stats:

I’ve asked 68 questions and contributed 65 answers.  I follow 51 topics and 11 boards,  6 of which I curate.  2358 credits. 152 followers, 109 following.

My most popular board is How to entertain an intellectual with 106 followers, 26 posts and 2636 views.

Yesterday I woke up to 85 notifications.

Whoa.

One month ago those numbers were halved or quartered.  Notifications were virtually non-existent.

It’s safe to say that Quora is a little addictive.  Thankfully, if you’re intelligent and interactive (or famous in San Francisco), Quora’s community will love you back. Why?

In the words of Jason Preston, “Quora is curiosity, never satisfied. ”

…at the core I think I find Quora addictive because it is a targeted attack on human curiosity.

We’re all wired, somewhere in our brains, to be turned on by new knowledge. And Quora is designed to constantly surface new answers about topics we are interested in, without us having to ask the questions.

And when we do have questions the crowd is there to help.  Curiosity fuels me on Quora.  It fuels people to reach out and interact with each other.  Here are a few examples.

Inbox notes from strangers:

Going through your quora answers, I see so much energy, optimism and straight pointedness.

Love it !!

another came in while I was writing this post:

I’m a recent graduate who took the plunge into the polluted fires of China and recently came back out to seek greener pastures States-side. Many of the experiences I’ve had are once-in-a-lifetime, so your outlook on career-life balance definitely resonates with me.

To fulfill my long-term goal of becoming an entrepreneur and achieving financial freedom, I’m making a career transition–I hope into an entry-level sales position. Yet, in the back of my mind, I know that rationalizing what I want to or should do doesn’t have much to do with reality, so I want to ask you a simple question:

How did you get onto the road of being absolutely happy with what you’re doing?

I know it’s a big question that probably has an equally big answer, but if you have the time to distill your experience, I’d really love to read your reply.

Awesome.  I will reply to him.

I need to think hard to venture out, to be uncomfortable and unconventional. Great people like you make this world interesting!

You can see why why Quora makes you feel good.  Strangers spontaneously light up your day with kind words, useful answers and entertaining ideas.  This week I unexpectedly discovered that caffeine is a natural insecticide and that hippopotamus milk is pink.  Useful?  Probably not.  Delightful?  Definitely.  I love surprises and ideas, two things which Quora is full of.

I often get on Quora to achieve a thoughtful interlude between projects during the day.  And ok, in honesty, I’ve also been losing too much sleep to the epic Quora news feed (it’s 1 am now).  So what’s the point of all this?  Quora is a story.  It’s unfolding now.  It’s influencing my daily activities, my perspective.  Right now I’m not sure how to think of it.  I do think about it, though.. why Quora is valuable and how that value transfers to other parts of life.

Quora is a dose of “hm, that’s interesting!” every time you open the app.  After a brief spurt of ADD-ish idea tangents, I return to life refreshed, inspired, and might even shape projects in a different way than before the influence of Quora.

It inspires me to diversify creativity and share outputs, like autotuned voice memos, and experiences by responding to the occasional college grad looking ta build a life he loves.

In closing, here’s a little creative challenge for you, noble reader:

What is the most epic day you can imagine?

Tony Nguyen sets the stage:

Here goes nothing.

You wake up in a time machine 3 days in the past on a deserted island somewhere in the Atlantic, and upon walking out, you discover that a feast fit for a king is laid out, catering to whatever culinary desires you possess. Finishing the last of your decadent meal, you fly using your newly available superpowers and perch atop a double rainbow.

You discover that all the women of your fantasies are lined up waiting on command to do whatever you wish. After you have completed most if not all of your fantasies, you ride a neon robot giraffe to the start of EDC, a massive rave with your favorite producers/Djs. You then proceed to party until the end of your most epic day ever.

This all took place while accompanying theme music followed you around.

I laughed out loud when I read this and it made me happier for the rest of the day (small joys go far).  Maybe it was the imagination or perhaps the surprise that someone actually answered.  Either way, it’s crazy awesome. I can hardly wait until tomorrow – a new day, the sunny end of this night.  New ideas and discoveries await on Quora and beyond.

Continue Reading

Vegan experiment: day 10 of 45

Vegan = plants only.  No animal products.   No milk, cheese, butter, eggs, or meat.  I am minimizing starches (forget bread; grains sparingly) and maximizing whole foods.

Volumetrically, about 60% of my diet is vegetables; 30% fruit;  10% nut and oil.

I eat A LOT.  A 90% vegetable and fruit diet has that effect.   I average about 30 different types of fruits and veggies each day.  I have developed a serious affinity for Curries and Chinese Five Spice.  My body feels great.

Creative cooking is a fun new challenge: using only plant based products, how can I build a complete protein loaded with phytonutrients that tastes spunky?  Innumerable ways, it seems.  I tend to make super-sized supermixes of about 15 types of veg/fruit that I munch on for several days.

Here’s the one I made tonight:

1 c chopped Kale; Squash1/2 c; zucchini 1c, arugula 1 c; can: kidney, garbanzo, soy beans; Mache 1.5c; over ripe blackberries; fresh cut ginger 1T; cut green beans 1/2 c; baby carrots sliced lengthwise 3/4 c; 1 peach, juice from 1/2 orange + 1/2 sliced orange pieces ; white rice vinegar 1/4 c; 2T Chinese five spice; 1T curry; cinnamon 1t; 1/6 c raw sugar; 1 t mustard seeds. s&p

I wonder what systemic chemical changes are going on in my body.  Biochemists, please, chime in.

The goal of this project is to explore potential relations between creative output and health.  So far, I’ve gone through all 595 TEDx music performances. I’ve started playing ukulele (almost there with It’s a Wonderful World).  I finally sent Billy Valentine a demo of my autotune performance from TEDActive (remixxx!).  I’m almost finished completing the corporate wellness program process for Sterling Health.  I’ve learned the basics of Inkscapes, a vector based graphic design program.  I joined Google +.  I’ve started recording brainstorms on the iamtpain autotune app.  The last thing on this list you should definitely try.

Continue Reading

Self-Experiment

Today I start a self-experiment.  For 45 days I will be tracking and sharing health data via this spreadsheet.  Novel parameters such as “the most interesting thing I learned today” and “how many times I stretched for at least 1 minute and less than 30, with corresponding metric of intensity” integrate with more traditional data collection points (weight, BP, exercise etc) in my first attempt at understanding the variability in my life.

The goal is to discover and explore possible correlations between health and creative output.  When I have  a great idea, such as the TEDx Global Music Project, is there something – or a set of things – I did during days prior that set the stage for ideogenesis and the pursuit of the interesting?  What activities do I do but ignore  (for example, the amount of time I spend on my iPhone before bed..)?  How can I compel myself to more wisely utilize my time?  How can I catalyze my evolution from good to great to excellent health?

These questions and more I am exploring in an organized and diligent manner.  Stay tuned to this blog for thoughts, insight and the occasional infographic.

This first phase is “2 weeks to runway ready” (I’m walking in a fashion show July 16th).  It kickstarts with a 100% plant-based diet and strict blend of 3x a week hour-long aerobic and anaerobic exercise.   We have also orchestrated tri-daily mini metabolic boosts, which I’ll share more about in a later post.

I read a fascinating paper by Allen Neuringer calling for more people to engage in self-experimentation, particularly professionals in the psychology field.  As I am experiencing first hand, the difficulty in designing quantified self systems is “exacerbated by our lack of experience in formulating questions about our own behaviors in a rigorous, empirically testable manner,”  Jump in and try it.  Use my spreadsheet if you’d like.  There are lots of resources; check out quantifiedself.com.

I would love your input, encouragement, ideas, suggestions, brainstorms and anything else.  The data is public domain so have at it.   Data viz artists might have a good time playing with this or suggesting amendments to parameters that would streamline info conveyance.  Some parameters would be easy, i.e. the hours of sleep I lose every month because I’m on my damn iPhone.  Hopefully, this will help me streamline myself.

“The solution to many of our problems is a continuous process of discovery and change.”

Continue Reading

Art Show Like No Other: Lady GaGa

Seldom is creativity so bizarre that it can be labeled intriguing, disturbing, sparkly, and absurd. Modern art sometimes fits this bill..after watching the video for Bad Romance and ending with a confused and strange feeling, I’ve decided “modern art” is the only way I could attempt to classify the unclassifiable Lady Gaga’s works. Brace yourself before you watch it. It blurs through claw-like dances, kidnapping, poisoning, prostitution, diamonds, murder, and a dead polar bear..to name a few.

I call it art because the video is her abstract representation of a story. I Googled her explanation of this new wonder, and indeed, there is a plot. I’ll summarize.

Lady Gaga takes a bath to wash off her “badness” (which I assume is represented by the broken-style dancing that preceeds it). She is kidnapped by supermodels, who drug her, pour vodka down her throat, rip her clothes off, and ship her to an upscale whore house. Shots of Gaga dancing for an auction house of men while strewn in jewels are disected by clips of a reptilian-esque gaga – the beauty and the beast. Jump to a shot of the winning bidder sitting on a bed, awaiting his prize, who is shown walking up to meet him. A polar bear skin conceals a pyrotechnic bra which our little lady uses to torch the customer alive. The finale is a cigarette-smoking Lady Gaga laying in bed by the charred corpse. Hm.

Baffling, yes. Words obviously fall short. But I cannot help but find it curious and intriguing that so much organized absurdity can come from one musician/creative genius. Every detail is considered, each symbolism carefully thought out. Much like a Picasso or Matisse, the beauty lies in the bending of what we know. The first time I saw Guernica it seemed unfathomable that it could ever compare to Louis David’s immaculately executed Coronation of Napoleon; however, as I looked deeper, I found the appeal of Picasso to be in his creative portrayal of reality. This artist’s talent pulled the viewer away from her standard conception. He forced an openmindedness and reconsideration of “normal” that lay foundations for innumerable other alternative methods of expression. In my opinion, Lady GaGa does the same thing. Like all abstract and modern art, she is neither universally appealing nor understandable by our conventional means. And like all great artists, she wields elegant talent while remaining unscathed by the barrages of criticism that accompany it. To me, who will never step onto the streets in the things this woman drapes, sticks, balances, or paints onto her body, the core aspect of her appeal remains beautifully simple: She makes damn good sound!

And now, the much anticipated and rarely understood Lady GaGa in “Bad Romance” :

Continue Reading