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Archive for January, 2013

My cat is high maintenance

Back in October, we got a new cat – Ruby. Ruby is very friendly; she likes to be around people. Whenever we’re on the couch, she usually jumps up on us and starts to nap. It’s her favorite thing.

She also loves her cat condominium. Whenever she’s hyper, she races up and down it. There is a little hole she can sneak through to get to the top. However, she has gotten chubby over the past couple of months so she’s having trouble squeezing through it compared to when we first got the tower.

Below is a picture of her on the top of the condo:

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The thing about Ruby is that even though she is very pleasant, she is a very high maintenance cat.

  1. She has tummy trouble.

    Ruby has a sensitive stomach. When we first got her, we would feed her in the mornings and then she would run around and be very hyper. Unfortunately, all of this running around caused her to get an upset stomach and she would vomit up half her food. She did this once or twice per week.

    We fixed this by giving her small amounts of food in the morning. That way, if she did run around, she wouldn’t have much in her belly to upset.

    That works. We had to outsmart her.

  2. She has serious tummy trouble.

    Unfortunately for Ruby, she has had several bouts of diarrhea since we got her. She also got it when we took her to our friend’s place while we were in Argentina for three weeks.

    We’re not sure why she experiences these problems. We give her expensive cat food and it’s supposed to be good for cats. Yet from time to time, she still has issues.

    I’m not sure why. So far today (Monday, Jan 28) she hasn’t had a problem, but the past three days (Fri-Sun) she did.

I’ve never had a cat that had the same trouble as Ruby – neither Java, Molly, Hampton, Scooter, Spooky, Little Sam or Big Sam. They were indoor/outdoor cats, and they all had less controlled diets. So it puzzles me why Ruby has had so many health problems despite having all her shots.

Hopefully it’s only because she’s a kitten and her digestive tract is still formulating, figuring out what’s working for her and what doesn’t.

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Ruby,

In my previous three installments of how I met your mother (part 1, part 2, part 3), I described my previous failed attempts at romantic relationships, and how nothing ever worked out. I would put the work in but never quite enough to expose my vulnerable underbelly.

But it didn’t work out.

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But in 2009 things started to change.

It was in 2009 that I first started to learn about how to read body language. You can go back in this blog to that year and find posts that goes through that sort of thing. I specialized in reading body language especially (which is easy) and decoding facial signals (which are harder but with practice are straight forward to decode most of the time).

I read about how people who expose their rib cage like when they raise their arms (such as cheering when a goal is scored in hockey) are displaying confidence. People who rub their necks are universally showing uncertainty and are pacifying themselves. I learned about how our feet are the most honest part of our bodies. I also learned that I could appear confident by emulating these behaviors, even if I didn’t feel confident.

I could do this by copying the behaviors that show poise and limit the ones signal unease and nervousness.

You may be thinking to yourself “Well, gee, that’s all so obvious.” Is it, now? We may be able to recognize these signals in others, but it is very difficult to recognize it in ourselves and react accordingly because these behaviors are not conscious. They are hard wired into our brains.

This would be a recurring theme in my personal research of everything – there are things that are wired into our brains that don’t make sense when examined from a distance, but we still do them at the time. For example, we all know junk food is bad for us and we should cut back on it. Yet nearly all of us each too much of it.

It was during this time that I had a magic performance at a church campout where I performed a trick where a thought-of word from a book by a spectator appears on someone else’s arm.

But during this performance, I modified my style. Whereas I am typically reserved in real life, during the show I was hyperactive and very energetic and showed all types of confident displays. Observe the picture below:

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There’s any number of ways I could have pointed to my volunteer with my right hand. But notice two things:

  1. My arm is completely up, showing my rib cage. That shows I am very confident.
  2. My thumb is pointing up. Thumbs-up are another sign of self-assurance.

Right before the big finish, look at this picture:

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I am invading my other volunteer’s personal space with my left hand, and my palm is facing down. Both of these are signs of someone who is well at ease in their surroundings.

Before learning about body language, I wouldn’t have done either of these motions (probably).

I bring this up because during the summer of 2009, I practiced these when I went dancing. You see, one evening my friend Hobbes and I went dancing in downtown Seattle. I can’t remember what it was, it may have been salsa or swing dancing.

It doesn’t matter.

As I had been dancing for a year and a half prior, I had some skills. By no means was I a great dancer, but I was confident enough in my skills to classify myself as adequate.

While at the dance there was a lesson, and I would introduce myself and show the signs of confidence. I would walk up to the other follows (ladies) and make sure my hands weren’t in my pockets, face them square on, and so forth. And then while dancing I’d talk about random stuff. At one point, I asked another girl to go and dance with Hobbes since he had been “wall-flowering” earlier in the evening.

Near the end of the night, with maybe 30 minutes to go, one of the other girls who I had been chatting with for parts of the evening walked over to me and gave me her and her friend’s contact information (I had told them that Hobbes and I visit another dance studio on the east side and they should check it out (this was from my random chatting). They informed me that they’d like be kept up-to-date about what was going on over there.

I had not asked for this information, nor even hinted it. It was completely out of the blue.

(Note: nothing ever came of this, but it doesn’t matter)

This marked a turning point for me in relationships. I started to learn what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t.

I often read feel-good advice on the Internet and in books when it comes to attraction: just be yourself, be a nice person, be a good friend, etc.

Personally, I have not found this advice to be at all helpful.

When it comes to attraction, there are things that work and others that don’t. We often talk about how “love is blind,” but it’s only true when you’re already in a relationship. If you’re not yet in a relationship, “love” is very selfish and looks for specific things.

For instance, did you ever notice that most of the time, women are shorter than their (male) significant other? You may say “Well, that’s because men are taller, on average.” Yes, that’s true. But it doesn’t account for all of it. Because of genetic variability, there are many women (20-25%) that are taller than men. But 25% of women are not in relationships with shorter men. Even tall women tend to go for even taller men. The proportion of relationships where men are taller is 90% or more.

In my experience, being a nice guy is not enough if you don’t project confidence. Indeed, I had (have) far more success when I project confidence than when I was just a nice guy. That doesn’t mean you should be a jerk, but it does explain why jerks have more romantic success – because they project strength which is attractive (to women, but all of us want to follow strong leaders; just think about sports, politics and business).

It isn’t logical (jerks may simply be ignorant and unaware of their buffoonery) but those are the breaks. They are the leftovers of our evolving brains that developed for a world far different than our own.

Once I figured this out, I decided that I could tip the odds in my favor. This is important because it would go a long way towards producing success in my final relationship.

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I’ve observed that many of my friends who have gotten married have gained weight. This has been true for most (though not all) of them. I’m not sure why although I can see how if you have kids, that would contribute to it.

What about me? Have I gained weight since I got married 16 months ago?

I don’t know how much weighed when I got married, but I did start weighing myself two months later and have recorded it everyday I have been able to (i.e., when I’m out of the country, I don’t).

Below is my daily weight with a smooth blue line average since September 2011:

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You can see it shot up in December after my surgery but then leveled off and stayed high until April 2012 when it dropped. That was when I went to southeast Asia. My weight then stabilized and then creeped up in November and December and then has just recently come back down to the the lowest levels ever – after I returned from Argentina.

Below is a monthly view:

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Going by this, you can see that no, I have not gained weight since I got married. In fact, as of this writing, I am my lightest weight I have ever recorded (although not necessarily lighter than I was 5+ years ago).

Quite frankly, I have no idea what contributes to weight gain and weight loss when it comes to myself:

  • My diet hasn’t changed.

    I buy my lunch at work less than I did before I got married. But throughout marriage, my diet has been the same. The big difference is that in Argentina, I ate more red meat (plenty of steak) and had sugary drinks (like Coke) more frequently than I do now.

    In other words, the opposite of what contemporary nutritionists say make you fat did not make me fatter.

  • My lifestyle hasn’t changed.

    I don’t exercise any more now than I did before; in fact, during the summer I went hiking very frequently on weekends and you can see my weight slightly crept up a little bit. On the other hand, I hiked much more in Argentina so maybe that contributed to it.

  • I don’t know what the deal is with December 2012.

    You can see in December 2012 my weight went up. There’s no denying it. Is it the weather? Is cold weather making me fatter? It’s a good theory except that it’s even colder now in January and I weigh less.

So there you go. I’m a paradox.

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Hanging around Buenos Aires

For the last bit of December 2012 and the first part of January 2013, the wife and I were traveling in Argentina and Chile in Patagonia, the southern part of the country. The final two days were spent in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.

I didn’t have many expectations of the place before I got there, I just knew that it was a large city (11 million, one of the top three in South America depending on how you count it, after Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo). But the city is amazing!

Buenos Aires is like a European city with the ridiculous expense of Europe (i.e., everything costs almost double what it costs in North America). Instead, the costs in Buenos Aires are slightly less than North America for some things (restaurants) and much less for others (hostels and the subway).

To give you an idea of the architecture, below is the Casa Rosada which is where the main parliament of the country takes place. It’s located in Plaza de Mayo (that’s may be wrong but I can’t be bothered to look it up right now) which is the main political square of the country, where mass protests regularly take place. There are tours during the day on weekends but since we were there on a Friday, we couldn’t go inside.

The statues in front like this is reminiscent of Spain or Italy:

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Another section of the city houses the Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes (literally: Palace of Water Flows, according to Bing Translator). For some reason, at first I thought it was called Palacio de las Aguas Calientes, or Hot Water Palace. That made me think it was an engineering facility for the city’s water flow.

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I was thinking to myself “Man, that is the nicest public works building in history! Nothing even comes close to it!” It was only later that I discovered my pronunciation was wrong and that it is now a museum. But according to Wikipedia, it originally was built to accommodate supply tanks of running water for the city in the late 19th century.

I don’t know if the story is true or not, but one of the locals told us that the building was designed in Belgium and shipped to Buenos Aires where it was reconstructed locally. If so, that’s amazing. And a lot of effort.

Whenever I’m in South America (and Europe), I like to check out the Catholic churches. I do it because the architecture and art within them is so much nicer than in Protestant churches in the United States and Canada. I may not be Catholic but their churches are way nicer everywhere in the world. Even the Church of England buildings in the UK, which are very nice (Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral) were originally Catholic.

This church is located near the Casa Rosada on the other side of the square. In the picture below you can see me waltzing around acting like such a tourist, snapping photos:

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But my favorite part of the city’s various amusements is the Necropolis – the Recoleta Cemetery. It is a huge square encompassed by high walls and takes up many city blocks. Inside are large graves belonging to very important people within the city – presidents, generals, nobles, and high ranking officials. It takes forever to walk around the place:

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If you’re not thinking “Wow, some of those graves are pretty big!” you should be. I calculated that a few of them were larger than our two-bedroom condos.

And many of them were nicer than our two-bedroom condos. How is it possible that dead people have a better place to live than me?

Along the way I found a lazy cat just kind of lying around. Unlike my cat at home, this one was pretty skinny:

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It took us two days to walk around Buenos Aires and we probably could have easily spent a couple more. It was very hot those two days and that contributed to draining us of energy.

But I liked the city.

And that’s my story of our time sightseeing in Buenos Aires.

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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