Doing Nothing

I didn’t get anything done today. I was going to write an article about focal length on camera lenses, but I ended up spending five hours reading about it on, Wikipedia, this great explanation of f-stops, etc. It was interesting, and I learned quite a bit, but I still didn’t write anything. Writing about photography doesn’t feel like writing about personal development, because it seems like I can write whatever I want with the latter. With photography, I spend more time researching and worrying about technical details than writing. General ideas are more important. Really specific articles are beter than all-encompasing ones. That’s contradictory, but I’m sure it’s true. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll certainly fail. I can’t write an article called “The State of Digital Photography,” because there’s way too much to cover and I’ll never get started.

I was home with my parents and we had dinner together (sort of), which was nice. No turkeys were involved. I wonder how turkeys become food for us. It’s cruel and unusual. I ate a salad with lettuce, dark green vegetables of some type, cucumbers, black pepper, sea salt, and garlic dressing. It was delicious. Salad won’t nourish you much because your body can’t digest much of it, but it provides great vitamins, keeps your system clean, and tastes good.

I slept till 9 A.M. this morning. That messed me up. If you spend two hours getting out of bed and three hours reading nothing, then the rest of the day is shot. Being in college almost every day does build discipline. Having a job does too. You end up getting more done in the gaps between work than you would if you had all the time to yourself. Personal development is all about using your own time and resources efficiently, rather than relying on other people or businesses to schedule your life. To rely on yourself, you need discipline. When you have self-discipline, being bossed around by others is no less than silly.

Today, I learned how to play the song I composed for the piano on Monday. I’ll post it tomorrow. I’m going to spend a couple days with my grandmother starting tomorrow. She’s 102, so she needs my support. :silly:

I shipped out lots of packages from my eBay auctions yesterday, and more are going out tomorrow. A lot of stuff didn’t sell, and what did didn’t make too much, except for the Kodak ink cartridges and miniDV tapes which profitted me $50. Counting Craigslist, my total profit is at $150. Plus the $65 I made on ads on this site this month, and the stuff I sold earlier, I’m over $300, which is more than my old job.

I applied for a job at Office Depot. Dad and I go there so often to use the ink cartridge recycling coupons I mentioned in Selling Stuff, that I may as well work there. Working has a lot of perks, after all. Applications are really funny these days. There’s all these threats and psychological evaluation questions. I don’t take them seriously.

The best way to have a job is to not care at all about being fired or reprimanded. You can do that when you make money from other things or you have few bills to pay. Stay out of debt. Having a normal job can be fun for a time, especially if you have no fear. Then, you can do whatever’s best for yourself or the company rather than looking over your shoulder, limiting your dialogues with customers to two minutes, and memorizing details of policy. In fact, these are the people that do best in the workplace because they don’t take crap. They also do the worst and get in trouble, but it doesn’t matter. If you have a job which you cannot walk away from at a moment’s notice, you’re a slave. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your rent or your cable t.v. bill or your car. Being a slave is inescapable for a while, but you do want to constantly be working to get out of it. Taking Thanksgiving off is inexcusable. :grin:

Tomorrow I’m getting up at 5 A.M. and I’m going to take some cool photos and get stuff done, even if it kills me. I will not be participating in Black Friday. There was some guy camped out by the Daytona Beach Best Buy on Wednesday, tent and all, but I think he was just there to be a public spectacle.

Good night all. It’s okay to get nothing done once in a while. You can even get depressed about it if you want. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s therapeutic. :cool:

First Google AdSense check

$112.23 Google AdSense check

Just got this check from Google for $112.23. I wasn’t sure if this Google ad program was real till now; perhaps they’d just take my money and ban me when I reached the $100 threshold? :xx:

I started this blog way back at the end of last year, just for my photography. I didn’t do much for a long time, often just spending lots of time fiddling with the layout and code, but in the past two months I’ve made lots of progress. I feel I can do a lot of good here, if not for others, for my own mind.

While makes the most, the balance is switching to this blog. I think it’s because I’m writing in-depth, thought-provoking articles like Digital Sharecropping, Personal Development for Photographers, and Transcending Limiting Beliefs. Not lists or tables or mash-ups or charts. No fluff. Writing that takes will work and has a real purpose. I didn’t really start doing this till two months ago, when I added personal development as my main subject alongside photography.

While $112.23 is no more than pennies an hour for all the work I’ve put in here, it’s much better than any job because I would do this for free. Most people can’t say that about their jobs.

Even though I made far more as a criminal, it’s much better to profit as an asset rather than a leech. Friends have been quick in offering to click ads for me or get others to do the same, but I’ll have none of it.

My hosting bill is paid up till 2009 March, and it has totaled $70. I also registered till 2018, costing $73, and are mine. I’m in this for the long haul. Expenses don’t really count, because I’d be paying them either way.

This month has been the best yet; I’ve taken in $61; half of what I made in the eight months before combined. Curiously days have bounced between $0 and $4 rather than being constant like last month, but it doesn’t matter.

Some people hate ads. If I was one of them, I would’ve made nothing. If this is a business, I’m lucky because most businesses lose a lot of money to start.

You can’t expect to make money if you don’t even try. Blogs are much like newspapers, which pay their printing bills and more with advertising. Now, the bills are time, effort, and less importantly, web hosting. And the message is free, rather than being a token fee of thirty-five or fifty cents.

However, if you give away the message and turn your back on advertising and turn down donations (read: don’t ask for), you can’t turn your passion into anything more than a hobby.

Unrelated: the URL for this post has 666 in it because that’s the post ID. It’s just a counter. I think it’s cool to have it at the end of URLs. I’ve actually made only 530 posts and pages, but the other numbers have been lost to test posts and drafts. Think of it just as an arbitrary number to uniquely identify each of my articles.

Also: this post is evil. :evil:

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value

Something that is valuable without strings attached has intrinsic value. I find intrinsic value is far more reliable than extrinsic value, because it’s self-reliant, independent, and free of the influence of others. The opposite of intrinsic value is extrinsic value. I like “extrinsic” as a word, but don’t see it used much. What it means is the value is assigned to the item by external forces. The item is worthless on its own. Or perhaps it has a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic value, so it is simply less valuable.

One thing that’s hard to accept about intrinsic vs. extrinsic value is that it’s a sliding scale with different paradigms. Nothing is binary. Something that has intrinsic value in one context and have no value in another. You might think the item has extrinsic value, and from a completely objective perspective it might, but it’s entirely okay to call its value intrinsic for the sake of comparison.

A great example of the two types of value is money. At the extreme end we have currencies made of paper and backed by nothing more than military might. These are called fiat currencies, because they’re valuable by legislative fiat (an order). The United States has fiat currency. My money has no value unless other people agree that it does and will exchange goods or services for it. It cannot be turned in for anything of value (besides coins), more of it can be created at virtually no cost at any time, and if all confidence is lost in it, it doesn’t even make good toilet paper. The money’s value is entirely extrinsic. In fact, it’s declined considerably in my short life. I remember in 2002 when gasoline was 85¢ a gallon, but now it’s over $4. It’s not because of shortages—there’s plenty of higher priced gas available. In terms of fuel, my money is one-fifth as valuable as it was six years ago. Granted, the increased prices are also due to the oil companies joining to form monopolies, but if our money had value that was fully intrinsic, such massive losses would be impossible.

Now, the U.S. dollar has not always been fiat. Before Nixon abandoned the Bretton Woods system in 1971, you could trade in a dollar for 1/35 an ounce of gold. So it had intrinsic value. During the world wars, convertibility was abandoned so more money could be printed, so for a time there was no intrinsic value. But even under Bretton Woods, paper dollars didn’t even have intrinsic value so much as representative intrinsic value. They’re still worth nothing on a deserted island, but as long as we were under the current system of things, their value may as well have been intrinsic, because they could be exchanged for something solid. The value was never fully intrinsic, or else Nixon wouldn’t have been able to pull the plug.

A step up from paper currencies are metal currencies, like the dimes and nickels in your ash trays. Though illegal, in times of panic they can be melted down to build real things, because they’re made of metal, not worthless paper. Gold and silver coins are even better, because people universally value those metals. However, as building materials, they are less valuable. Going back to paper, the bills in my wallet have some intrinsic value I forgot about. If it’s very cold and I need kindling to start a fire, I’ll be happy for my stack of $1’s.

The king of all currencies is gold bullion. It’s never going away, because people universally believe it has value. Its value is unchanging and largely intrinsic. When I see the worth of an ounce of gold is soaring above $1000, I don’t buy the hype that the gold has more value. What’s actually happening is that our dollar is becoming less valuable, but gold is the same as ever. Now, if you can buy more with $1000 of July 2008 money than you could with, say, $500 of July 2001 money, that’s doesn’t mean gold has gained value. It just means everyone is taking losses, by providing goods that are worth more than the money they charge. When the empire (the United States) is dying, everyone takes losses.

Even gold doesn’t have the true, objective type of intrinsic value I talked about at the start. If you’re back on your deserted island, all the gold in the world won’t do nothing to get you out of there. An airplane is something with solid intrinsic value. But you still need fuel, a pilot, and lots of other stuff. Heck, you even have to depend on the laws of physics remaining stable so that it continues working. But most of us would agree that little of its value is extrinsic, so those concerns are small. If all 6.5 billion of us agreed tomorrow that gold is as worthless as water, it would be that way in an instant, though.

Some things have intrinsic value that’s fleeting. The apples at the grocery market are valuable as food, but as soon as they turn rotten, the value is lost. The same can be said for human life: my Grandfather has no intrinsic value, because he’s dead and burned. Nor does my cousin, in spite of being dead and preserved in a coffin. The only value of his body is assigned, because many of us believe in stuffing and preserving corpses for some reason. We believe a corpse has value, but that’s extrinsic to the corpse. A person does have intrinsic value, but only while living. Value shifts from intrinsic to extrinsic upon death. Extrinsic value is not universal, either. My family values my cousin’s corpse much more than my neighbor’s. Extrinsic value can be fleeting. A lottery ticket is valuable extrinsically, but only till the numbers are called. Then it’s worth nothing. If it’s a winner (never happens), the value shoots up all at once, but it’s still extrinsic, just like the coupons in my wallet, because it’s reliant on fulfillment by others. Intrinsic value is not, or in relative cases, it’s reliant on unlikely-to-change entities like society or a humongous government, so it’s always a safer bet.

Where you can use the two types of value in your life, is in analyzing the time and money pits around you. Recognize that if you’re pursuing goals with extrinsic value, your goals belong not to yourself, but to other people. Sometimes, supporting the goals of others is inevitable. Florida Power & Light will cut off my family’s power if we refuse to continue to pay them in extrinsically valuable money. Could we live without power? Probably, but it isn’t practical. I couldn’t even share this writing with you without the power for my computer. Money is something most people value by mandate, despite being extrinsic. It even says on my $1 bill, “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private,” so I’m required to accept money as a valid form of payment even if I open a business. The business isn’t truly mine if I’m required to give people valuable stuff for in return for crap (fiat money). But I accept that I have no alternative with what power I have now. There’s a massive gulf between this lost freedom and the lost freedom you are probably subjecting yourself to.

One thing that definitely has no intrinsic value is a college degree. A college education has intrinsic value, but only to the person receiving it, and then only if it is applied. A modern college education is utterly worthless. College is a crock. You’re trained to be a docile slave for any master and brainwashed to tell lies as truth to support the state. Lies like global warming, the cancer myth, and politically-correct language. Instead of learning real stuff like history or how to spell, you have to read and write garbage about The Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s worth less than nothing. College saps your mind and spirit. It is a self-accepted prison and you are a self-accepting prisoner. I am currently a prisoner with you, unfortunately.

What a college education does have, is plenty of extrinsic value. Employers, in cahoots with the universities, agree to accept only mind slaves with worthless degrees for jobs. Or perhaps they’ll accept anyone, but pay you much more if you’ve gone through four to six years of obedience school (on top of thirteen years of mandatory training). College is a job where instead of being paid, you pay. Can’t you see the irony there? You learn B.S. subjects like humanities and calculus, wasting upwards of thirty hours a week “studying,” when really you’re just memorizing pointless trivia and useless formulas to reiterate for a test and then forget. A typical collegiate essay is a series of citations, footnotes, references, maybes, “he or she”s, “what if”s, and semicolons. Nothing is from the heart, everything is crap, and no one would read it if they weren’t being paid. There’s no growth and you’re not developing as a person, despite how you may protest. College is at best an expensive social experience, and even that is on shaky ground.

A college education is firmly in the category of extrinsic value. Unlike universal concepts like serving others, inspiration, and passion, and working for yourself, college is ultimately a waste of time. It’s okay to do things with extrinsic value, even if they cost huge amounts of time and money. Repeat after me: “I, Richard X. Thripp, allow myself to pursue projects that have no intrinsic value.” BUT, you cannot live in fear by deluding yourself into believing you’re acting on some higher purpose. There is no higher purpose to my college education. Tasks with only extrinsic value must only be pursued for utilitarian purposes, should you claim to be living courageously.

Buying things that have mere extrinsic value, unless to resell, is something I cannot live with. Diamonds are an example. Unlike gold, they have no intrinsic value because they’re as common as dirt. One company (De Beers) controls all of them, releases very few, and advertises how wonderful and valuable they are. De Beers has managed to make diamonds extrinsically valuable to an insane degree. If you can make yourself (or a product) highly valuable, you can make a lot of money, even if it’s extrinsic.

Intrinsic value is the only path that has a soul, though. In sociological terms, coordinated efficiency (i.e. teamwork) represents intrinsic value, whereas allocated efficiency (i.e. buy the best people) is to extrinsic value. Money has its place: it represents you contribution to the world (either type of value), and it can be exchanged for goods and services of either type (food vs. diamonds). But if you do something for money alone, that means it has only extrinsic value, be it to yourself, the world, or both. With my website, I hope I’m doing something of intrinsic value to others, and I know it has intrinsic value to myself. I take, post, and give away creative photos, write free and hopefully insightful articles, and develop as a person through all of it. If you’re doing something of intrinsic value, you’ll know it because you’re energized, dedicated, and excited about it. If you don’t feel the heat, you might be providing a service that’s intrinsically valuable to others, but not to yourself. If I fixed computers for a living, it would be an important service to others, but it wouldn’t do anything for me. The other thing that can happen, is that you’re doing something you love (intrinsic value for you), but its worthless to others. Perhaps it is painting, playing piano, or taking nature photographs. What you want to do is to find something that’s intrinsically valuable to you and others, or convert what you’re presently doing over. Often, this just involves publishing your art online, or releasing a music album by burning the CDs on your home computer. But when you’re on the path of good for yourself and the world, everything will feel right.

While it takes a lot of soul-searching to reach the goal, I can tell you some of the clues that you’re on the wrong path. If you’re not sharing it with others, it can’t have any value to others. The first step to converting something that’s valuable to you but not to others is to show it to them. If you’ve written an awesome book but can’t find a publisher, just set up a blog and give it away free in installments. Tell a few friends about it. If it’s interesting or useful, lots of people will pick up on it and visit. You’ll know this because you’ll be getting lots of comments and trackbacks, and your bandwidth meter will be maxing out quickly. If this doesn’t happen, it means you suck. It’s okay. Right now I suck. But sucking is the only way to progress.

Once you’ve built you a following and love what you’re writing, you’ve already made it. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving everything away and losing money. If you have a website, and a lot of visitors, it’s impossible not to make money. Then put ads across the site. Register for Amazon Associates too, then start dropping product links everywhere, like this. Soon, you’ll be making money off something that’s intrinsically valuable to everyone, which is great. A lot of people will try to tell you that you can’t do it, you have to pick between money or heart, and that you should keep your day job and just follow your passion on the side. Ignore them and forge ahead.

If you’re working for a corporation with no intrinsic value, it probably puts up a smokescreen of purposeful charity to substitute. Instead of changing the world directly, the company donates a couple percent to charity. This is the “throw money at the problem” mindset, and instead of integrating charitable practices into the business, it’s just tacked on as a “me too” afterthought. Corporations like Wal-Mart, Target, and Publix do this. Then, they’ll come up with some phony mission statement for their employees, like Office Depot’s “delivering winning solutions that inspire worklife.” I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically when I first heard that one. Next, require all the employees to wear shirts with the mission statement and chant it over the intercom.

Ask any candid Office Depot employee if he cares about the mission, and the answer will be an obvious no. Very few people who work there, or have any sort of job, do so for an intrinsically valuable purpose. “For the greater good of all humanity” is an excellent purpose, but most companies that bandy it about don’t believe it. It is of extrinsic value to them. It’s fake, a charade to fool dummies and investors. You’re never living intrinsically if you’re living fakely. It’s better to work for a company with the mission, “to make the most money possible, at all costs.” Or live your life like it. But that’s a petty experience. Most companies are not that bad. They have a decent amount of respect for their customers and employees. But to call themselves charity cases is false and pretentious.

What else is only of extrinsic value? Certification. Education. Expensive clothes (unless radiation proof). Rites of passage. Careers. Tradition. Rules and procedures. Legacies. Religion. Sleeping at night. Clocks. Being an employee. Corpses. Funerals. All these have no value on their own. Only if other people agree, or demand them, do they become valuable, and then only extrinsically. Don’t be too worried about them. They’re red herrings.

What things do have intrinsic value? Love. Doing what you love. Purpose. Learning. Passion. Discipline. Wealth (for leverage). Power (the power to know better). Respect for human life. Serving others. Serving yourself (you have to to serve others). The list goes on, but you can see that aligning yourself with these principles, and paying no attention to the ones of extrinsic value will alienate a lot of would-be friends. Do it anyway.

I am no longer an employee

I was fired an hour ago. It took me this long to write this (I’m slow, you know).

If you’ve read my first post about this, you’ll know that I was in trouble for telling my boss she’s in the wrong career. And possibly for teasing her for five months, but she started that and it didn’t become a problem until after my nerve-striking statement, after which she was searching for problems to catch me on. That meets the definition of a red herring.

Bascially, I was fired for being honest rather than fake, by my boss’ supervisor over the phone. When you have a boss (even yourself) who wants attractive but evil fakeness rather than honesty, then that is the only thing that can happen if you refuse to compromise. The only thing.

Perhaps if I would’ve groveled a bit more at several key points along the way, or put up a wall of fake professionalism through the past three months of my job (i.e. not talking about anything deeper than the state of the morning coffee), then I could’ve clung on a lot longer. I also could’ve sucked it up and not asked to be transferred to the Ormond branch, and acted as if I wasn’t being held back.

Or maybe it was sharing Fear is Evil with my supervisor and old friends at Ormond. It was probably too jaded, yet truthful for them. Truth is a scary thing, for people who have sheltered themselves from it. There isn’t one truth, but many, and mine is one of them. I learned this from my year in QUANTA. Mine is a particularly frightening one to someone in the system.

Sharing that article was not a “smart” thing to do, from the standpoint of a normal person. What would the normal behavior be?

• 1. Offend your boss, not by something inherently offensive, but because there’s a shred of truth in it and she is scared.
• 2. Apologize profusely.
• 3. Promise it will never happen again.
• 4. Say it wasn’t true, you were just joking.
• 5. Say it wasn’t true, you were just angry.
• 6. Beg forgiveness.
• 7. Work extra hard and donate money to the library (or the equivalent for another workplace), to prove what a wonderful servant you are.
• 8. Not try to get transferred, because that’s asking too much.
• 9. Go up the chain of command and tell them how sorry you are too, because that’s what it’s going to take.
• 10. Be so wonderfully nice to everyone, you’re bound to be loved. But to everyone else, it’s obviously fake.

… and the list goes on. Do any of these sound like the behavior of a smart, passionate person? If this is the list you’d follow, it’s time to wake up.

In my younger days (12-15), I would’ve been more apt to handle this differently. I’d respond with a month of hatred toward my boss, plus three months of hatred toward the system, and then, because I was never weak enough to seek revenge, six months of apathy. Then I’d just try to forget all about it. But when we forget, it’s just avoidance. Fear. I’m sixteen now, and I hope I’m passed that. You have to face your fears if you’re ever going to grow anywhere. Being an employee isn’t so great after all. This is a blessing in disguise for me.

I’m not angry, I’ve moved above anger. Which is great, because anger drags you down. It’s a weight on your soul which pulls you down to the level of an animal. All I can feel is compassion, which is great because it means I’m moving forward and I’m not permitting negativity in my life.

The big problem, even bigger than being pushed to act fakely, is that since my new boss started (Jan. ’08), she took away everything I used to do. I was relegated to shelving and organizing the shelves (shelf reading), and not helping patrons check out items, or find stuff, or on the computer (unless it was something she couldn’t do), or issuing library cards to new faces in the library, or photographing story-time and other children’s events. In fact, she was bent on a strict code of professionalism in the workplace (no humanity). I used to give out print copies of my photos or articles to patrons and staff often, but she prohibited it, saying it was not my “job.” Funny thing is, it’s exactly my job, because all of our jobs in life involve each other. Not a grandiose title, or a book full of policies and rules. Normal people don’t need a man-made book of policies and rules.

So, where my goal in library services is service to others, I became unable to fulfill the mission by these new restrictions. And if I can’t do the mission, than each day is drudgery. I was dreading going to work today, before the news, because I didn’t want to go through another (half) day where my path was blocked. I’ve seen it in the library, because we get half the patrons than when Lisa was there (the upbeat librarian who was transferred out at the start of the year). The shelves and books are in beautiful shape, evenly spaced (one of my projects was to make their heights equal), and in perfect order. And it means nothing.

Either way, I made 59 cents on my website yesterday, far less than my $8/hour job. But at least this path has a heart.

So what am I going to do now? Besides my precalculus algebra class that I have eight days and two tests left in, I’m going to dedicate myself here. To my photography, and sharing it with the world, and building profits off of contextual advertising. The Volusia County Public Library system is no worse than any other, but that doesn’t mean it’s better either.

There’s a really funny thing here. When I spend twelve hours on the computer on days where I released my entire portfolio as stock imagery, or made dozens of comments on other blogs, it’s a smart and logical thing to do if I make it big (i.e. make money). If I fail miserably and make nothing, than no matter how driven and positive I am, I’m nuts. A megalomaniac, and quite a monomaniacal one. Perhaps I’m even delusional, for maintaining positivity where others would give up in despair. I might even have Attention Deficit Disorder. Whatever it is, there’s something horribly wrong with me, because I refuse to be “normal.”

It’s the same thing for gambling. If you play black-jack at Vegas for twelve hours a day, you only have a gambling “problem” if you’re losing money. If you’re the most brilliant card counter ever and are making money hand over fist, there is no gambling problem. The “problem” status is not dependent on the righteousness of the behavior, but its end results. A curious quirk. There must be a name for this concept. If not, I’ll make one up. But I’ve reached the end of my thoughts for now.

An ode to courage, and to living with it even when everyone else forsakes it. I know I try to.