A Day in the Life: a brief foray into political activism

What does politics have to do with existentialism? I’m glad you asked.

E V E R Y T H I N G

Politics in an outward expression of our personal moral philosophy. Your view of the world and the way you should live your life greatly informs your political views. I strongly feel that all aspects of one’s personality are connected, some connections are more obvious than others. The more connections I find between the various aspects of my personality… so more fascinated I am with the human condition. So come… be fascinated with me!

**The ideas expressed in this video are in no way meant to degrade or offend the views of others. If you are offended, I am sorry that I have offended you, but I stand by my words. This is, after all, America.**

I truly hope that something I have said reaches someone, anyone. Let me be clear, I am in no way naive enough to think that my voting for Gary Johnson will mean that the whole of our political system is going to change. Nor am I naive enough to think that Gary Johnson is going to win the 2012 Presidential election (I’m pretty sure Gary Johnson isn’t naive enough to think this either). I can’t even say for sure that Gary Johnson has a better answer than Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. But I can not, in good conscience, support a Democrat or Republican simply because they have a better chance of winning office. The only thing I can think of worse than voting for a mainstream presidential candidate that I do not have full faith in is not voting at all.

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All Work and No Play (or why I don’t really care when the president plays golf)

We’re always told you have to work hard to succeed. This is certainly true and I am in no way about to try to refute that claim. That would be silly of me and quite honestly a waste of a blog post. But what I am going to try to do is convince you to take a break.

I can’t remember ever seeing my father with brown hair apart from in pictures; this is likely because, as he claims, his hair turned white the second my older brother was born. Now, my father is prone to hyperbole but you get the point: stress changes you. Some stress is good, but if you are overworked or under recovered you are going to eventually burn out. No one, and I mean no one is immune to the need for rest. For many, rest comes on in the form of sleep. A good night’s sleep has been shown to play as much an important role in your health (and in weight loss efforts) as diet and exercise. But I contend that leisure plays a vital role in our mental as well as physical health. Sometimes when I am writing a long and tedious paper for school I find myself starting to get frustrated and all brain function will cease to the point where I can’t type coherent sentences. At times like this I find it beneficial to step away and not worry about that paper for a while. When I come back to it my mind is fresh and I am again able to form thoughtful sentences. This concept spills overs into all aspects of our lives when we expect a lot out of ourselves: Work, cleaning, social responsibilities, even video gaming (ever try to beat a level of a game for hours failing each time only to come back the next day and beat it on the first try? yea I thought you did). My point if you can not be all business all the time and next expect to function at the same high level of excellence you expect from yourself.

You have to take a break.

This is why I love hobbies and television. They provide an escape that can relax and refresh the mind. This relaxation time allows us to recharge our batteries so that when we it is time to do our job again we can do it to the best of our abilities. Hobbies let our brain cool off and sometimes even help us gain fresh perspectives that will benefit us in the long run.

Have you ever looked at photos of presidents before and after they took office? They are pretty different, and not in a 4-8 years have passed sort of way. The presidency has a tendency to age a person beyond their years. And I mean, are we really surprised by this? That shit is stressful. Imagine the amount of stress you feel at your job and how sometimes that can be hard to deal with… now imagine that you a President of the United States and the entire world is scrutinizing ever decision you make… and any wrong decision you make can lead to war, increased debt, deaths, etc. No one they age so quickly.

And yet you hear a lot of complaints from people when the president (and even presidential candidates) take vacations with their families or go golfing. As though somehow the immense pressure of the presidency makes you immune to its pressures and the need for even 18 holes of futile escape. It’s true… when you are President… you are President 24/7 but I can not imagine even working a mediocre full time job and not being allowed a little down time. Granted the timing of trips to the country club should make an attempt to be sensitive to any urgent issues facing our nation, but lets be honest, no one is going to fix the economy in the amount of time it takes to drive your golf cart down the fair way.

So in conclusion, find a hobby, take a break, and let our presidents play golf.

I want to hear from you!!!!!

 

Yesterday’s video inspired to make a sort of video series for the blog… so I’m looking for topics from you, my super awesome friends and readers/viewers… What I’d like is substantive questions or topics that I can provide my personal perspective on….like specific concerns about important topics that affect the various aspects our lives, or providing information about things you’d like to know more about. If you have anything you want to hear about please let me know! I’d love everyone’s input on this 🙂

 

Feel free to send me questions or topics in the comment section, on the facebook fan page, or through an email to thehardboiledlife@gmail.com!

 

I look forward to your suggestions!

Food for Thought: Love and Respect

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been pretty busy delving deep into the abyss that is business ethics. It has me curious at to who is reading publications such as The Journal of Business Ethics: businessmen or philosophers? My money is on the latter. And oh look I’m off topic already and I’ve barely started…

A N Y W A Y S . . .

I’m a big fan of Immanuel Kant. I’m not going to pretend that his ideas are the be all and end all of moral philosophy but they certainly do provide an excellent framework for determining how you should treat others. Whenever something has thrown me for a loop (ethically speaking), going back and reading Kant reminds me of how the world should be (providing it were all sunshine and daisies and everyone was required to study moral philosophy).  For those that are not familiar with Kant, allow me to introduce you to the Categorical Imperative. There are three formulations, but I just want to go over the first two. Ok now…

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.”

In simplespeak this means don’t do things unless you think it should be ok for everyone to do it.

“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”

In simplespeak this means don’t use people.

The idea of treating others as ends rather than means has many implications in everyday life, but for Kant it is not enough to simply not treat one as a means. It is a twofold process. To be indifferent to someone means that you are not treating them as a means, but you are also not treating them as an end. For Kant we are morally responsibly for treating ALL people as ends. What this means is that we should find ways to promote the positive and negative freedom of individuals and be concerned for their physical and moral well being.

I am currently in the process of doing research for a paper applying Kantian ethics to corporate employee relations (fun right… I think so). So far a lot of what I have read relies heavily on this second formulation of the categorical imperative, and there was a citation from an article by Ornora O’Neill that really caught my eye in regards to how it relates to everyday life. Simply put O’Neill said that benevolence (and in turn-morality) creates a tension between love and respect. We are morally compelled to care about the well-being and happiness of others (love), but we should not go so far as to assume we know what is best for them and force our ideas of happiness upon them. Rather, we should allow them the autonomy and independence to seek out their own happiness (respect) (providing they are acting as moral agents).

I bring all this up because I feel that I see a lot of “you should do this” “you shouldn’t do that” “I think that’s wrong so you are wrong” in today’s society. In a country so deeply divided on every. single. issue. this doesn’t come as a surprise. I think that part of the problem is that we have had the “love” part drilled into our brains so much that it has stymied the “respect”. We are so self-interested and concerned with our own way of life that we fail to see the merit in ways that differ. This is not to say that we should tolerate morally reprehensible behavior in the vein of respect for individual autonomy, but we should recognize that we are all of different paths with varying experiences, purposes, capital, beliefs, etc. And to assume that there is only one way to properly live life is…for lack of a better word (and for minimal shock value) arrogant. What we should strive for as rational, moral people is a minimal level of physical and moral welfare for EVERYONE regardless of any differences among us.

In an effort to practice what I preach I will say that I am not telling you that you NEED to do this, I am merely opening your eyes to a different way of moral thinking. Take it or leave it.

 

*If you are interested, this is the citation for the article I was reading today…*

Bowie, N. E. (1998). A Kantian Theory of Meaningful Work. Journal Of Business Ethics17(9/10), 1083-1092.

Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

I got the idea for this recipe from a SkinnyTaste recipe. I just happen to prefer green chile enchilada sauce to the red sauce. So, in that spirt, I adapted my regular enchilada recipe to a lower calorie option where the zucchini takes the place of those carb laden tortillas (don’t get me wrong, I adore tortillas). Enjoy!

Makes four servings (two boats each): 325 calories | 18g carbs | 34g protein | 14g fat

Here’s what you need!

4  whole zucchini

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

4 oz reduced fat cream cheese

1 can (one of those small ones) diced green chiles

1/4 cup diced onion

1 can of green chile enchilada sauce

1 cup reduced fat shredded cheese- mexican blend

cilantro and green onion for garnish

Here’s what you do!

1. Slice the zucchini in half length wise and scoop out the middle so you have about 1/4 inch left the whole way around. Pop the zucchini into boiling water for about a minute, drain, and set aside.

2. Cut your chicken into itty bitty pieces and cook until almost completely done. Add the onion and green chiles. Then add the cream cheese and cook until nice and creamy (no cream cheese chunks!). At this point if you want to you could add what you scooped out of the zucchini, but I find that this watered down the flavor (even after trying to get as much water out of the zucchini as possible)… you’d be better off saving it for zucchini cupcakes.

3. Fill your zucchini boats equally with the filling. Top with your enchilada sauce and cheese. Add cilantro and scallions as you wish.

4. Bake in a 350˚ oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

Happy noshing!!!

To write is to write

I fear the possibility that the blog is going to fall victim to writer’s block. My brain has been pretty tired the last two weeks trying to comprehend scholarly articles about business ethics. What I really want to know is… at what point in an education does one learn to write so that no one can understand your words without reading i n c r e d i b l y   s l o w l y ???? Once I figure out what they are trying to say, I just get annoyed because I feel they could have said it much more succinctly and I probably wouldn’t have accidently dozed off in the middle of their article.  It’s really a catch 22 for me… because I love books… like… actual tangible books… but it seems that they put me to sleep (another reason those 7 books I was suppose to read this summer are still sitting on my shelf). And I can’t really buy e-books because if I stare at my computer any more than I already do I think I’ll develop a tumor.

At any rate, today I heard about this thing called National Novel Writing Month. It takes place in November, and basically your goal is to write an entire 50,000 word novel within the confines of 1/12 of the Gregorian Calender. The idea is that you just write; you forget about what you think you should be writing about, how you think it should sound, the minutia of coherence and so on. This is a novel idea (you see what I did there?!) in that I think it can sort of break people of the biggest thing that holds them back from writing- their brain. To meet the 50,000 word goal you have to write an average of 1,667 words per day, which means you need to write like your life depends on it and stop fighting yourself while trying to find the “right” words. I’ve always heard it said that the best way to become a writer is to simply write… everyday… many argue that it doesn’t have to even make too much sense… the point is that if you write everyday… eventually the words will come to you.

The second I read the description of this event I was filled with the most extreme forms of excitement and terror I could imagine. The idea of writing that much scares the bejeezus out of me, but I feel like, even if the end product was complete gibberish, the fact that I actually did it would be a great step in the right direction for my “writing career”. I’d really love to participate in this event in November, but I fear that it might drive me slightly mad if I’m trying to write a novel and take a writing class at the same time. So… I was thinking about doing this in January as my first post-baccalaureate attempt to pursue this dream of mine that snuck up on me- to become a published writer.

So…… thoughts?

 

PS- click the picture to check out some amazing quotes about writing from some amazing writers.

Spicy Honey Chicken

You’ll begin to notice, as I add more recipes, that I cook a lot of chicken. There are three reasons for this: 1) It’s inexpensive  2) It’s versatile; 3) It tastes damn good. Chances are, many of my recipes would work well with other proteins, but I always have chicken on hand, and I like it, and so the end result is a plethora of things to do with chicken. This is a very simple, yet tasty, recipe that I can’t seem to get enough of. I adore the combination and sweet and spicy. For the chicken haters, this might also be tasty on pork or shrimp, though I can not attest to that certainty.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Makes 4 servings: 168 calories | 15g carbs | 26g protein | 1g fat

Here’s what you need!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (I use tenderloins… just because)

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper, ground (if possible… I use my coffee grinder)

3 tbsp honey

Here’s what you do!

1. Mix your spices. Gently sprinkle the spice mixture on both sides of your chicken breasts. Feel free to rub it in.

2. Grill or bake your chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165˚. I usually grill mine, unless I’m being too lazy to go outside and subsequently clean my grill plates (I take my indoor grill outdoors because of overly sensitive smoke alarms).

3. Evenly disperse the honey over the cooked chicken. A pastry or basting brush would work great for this. Allow the chicken to remain on the heat just a little longer to let the honey do its thing.

Happy noshing!

The Perks of Planning

As I embark on my last semester of undergraduate scholarly pursuits (queue droves of people applauding for me actually finishing… and then slowly stopping as they realize it means I have to pay back my mountain of debt… the scene fades as they weep… holding each other…. in despair) I’ve started to look back on why it took me so long finish. Sure, the fact that I kept changing my major didn’t help, but a large part of it was also that I got burnt out. I stopped caring. I had no desire to do my school work and the more I had to do the more I pushed against it. In more recent semesters I’ve gotten my act together and started to care a little more about my grades. In order to get through my last few classes I had to change my approach; I had to figure out a way to balance school, my social life, and a strong desire to lay on the couch and watch teen melodramas.

So I started planning out my school week.

The way my online classes are set up I am aware from day one (more or less) what I will need to do each week and when large papers and projects need to be turned in. Each week I divide up that week’s tasks so that I don’t have to do too much each day. I do the same with papers. I haven’t written a paper in one day since 2007 when I spent 12 straight hours on a Saturday writing a 14 page paper relating the developmental theory of criminology to serial killers (awesome stuff). Rather, I’ll start research and writing early enough on a paper that I usually don’t have to write more than 300 words a day. I mean, I’ll write more if I’m on a roll, but I tend to get writer’s block quickly (go ahead… ask me how my book is coming. I’d throw the manuscript at you but it doesn’t exist… consider yourself lucky). The whole point of it is to not overwhelm myself. I get a decent amount of work done, but then I also get to watch Gossip Girl. It’s win win.

As I mentioned in a previous video , I have also come to enjoy planning my meals for the week. If you didn’t heed my advice the first time, I’ll say it again. Try it. It’s especially helpful if you have trouble with cravings or if you are a stickler for macronutrients. By planning everything out in advance you will be able to see if you need to make any changes to ensure you get enough protein, don’t eat too many carbs, or whatever it is you are watching carefully. It also makes the day itself easier. No longer will you stand with the refrigerator door open staring blankly as you are trying to figure out what you want for lunch… you decided already. And since you are taking the time to plan, you allow yourself to make better food choices rather than grabbing the first easy to make sodium laden thing you find in the convenience store. I have some friends that go so far as to pre cook veggies and proteins for the week. This is an excellent idea if you work crazy hours and don’t have time to cook everyday.

Planning itself can sometimes be a tedious task, but it makes the rest of your life so much easier that it’s really worth it. I’m not always the most organized person, ask anyone who ever entered my adolescent bedroom. But we’re adults now and I can’t just shove things under our bunk beds and pretend we’re solving a problem. Planning things makes my life easier. I make to-do lists for everything. EVERYTHING. I even divide cleaning tasks into the days of the week so I don’t have to spend an entire day cleaning the entire house because I’d rather do a little bit of everything everyday (INCLUDING sitting around and doing nothing) than spend any day devoted to one task and not be able to have any free time.

Ok… I might be rambling now..apologies.

What ways can planning make your life easier?