Self-Help Blog - Most Recent Posts

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8/25/2016 - Zippable pillow protectors: better than plastic bags for organizing things
7/23/2016 - Free webinar with Deepak Chopra & Eckhart Tolle on Aug. 3, 2016
11/26/2015 - Updated the Self-Help section and Donations page
7/8/2015 - Some thoughts on synchronicities
8/16/2012 - Link: "5 Reasons You Should Treat Your Partner Like Your Dog" (Link)
7/13/2012 - Free: Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge - Begins July 16th, 2012
6/15/2011 - Free teleseminar by Neale Donald Walsch, 6/15/2011, 8:30 PM EDT (Link)
6/9/2011 - Ganesh Mantra (Video Link)
5/24/2009 - Avoiding Distractions on the Web - How to Block Websites Using Your Hosts File (Productivity)
5/20/2009 - Tapestry Analogy (Link)
12/25/2008 - Free Samples from PhilosophersNotes.com
12/12/2008 - If You Can't Do Something Hard, Try Something Even Harder (Tip)

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Zippable pillow protectors: better than plastic bags for organizing things
Thursday, August 25th, 2016
11:54:46 GMT


For most of my life, I used plastic bags and cardboard boxes of various sizes (usually overly large, heavy, and difficult to move when full of junk) to "organize" things in a mostly inadequate, chaotic way.

But, recently, I finally thought of a great new innovation - putting things inside zippable pillow protectors. I prefer pillow protectors because ordinary pillowcases often don't have zippers. And sometimes ordinary pillowcases are so nice and soft you might be reluctant to use them for storage.

Compared to noisy, unsightly plastic shopping bags or garbage bags which easily get torn and often have no built-in way to completely close them - zippable pillow protectors are quieter, nicer to look at, easily closeable, and tend not to rip.


I don't have a closet, and I don't have space in my room for a clothes rack, so, now I keep different categories of clothes in different zippable pillow protectors, which makes them much easier to find than having them in numerous cardboard boxes or a giant mixed up pile.

I haven't yet thought of or found a good way to label them, but will update this post if I do.

(Addition, Sept. 22, 2016, 10:00 PM EDT. Using safety pins, I attach small rectangular papers labeled with the bag's contents. Each bag gets two labels - both near the middle of the zippered edge, on both the front and back of the bag. I should maybe use something a bit sturdier than plain paper, since plain paper might rip easily.)


It turns out both plastic bags and pillow protectors are bad for any non-rugged dressy types of shoes, since those can easily get crushed and creased. (I was always so oblivious to fashion that I didn't realize that until this year!) And I guess any clothes you don't want getting rumpled might be better off hanging somewhere instead of crammed into a bag.

But, for most of my clothes and my more rugged shoes, pillow protectors are perfectly fine. As for my more fragile shoes, I'll just stick those in small cardboard boxes.

I want to get a lot more zippable pillow protectors to hold many other categories of stuff, like plastic bags, boring junk mail I don't feel like going through yet, old receipts, other old papers I don't really care about but don't want to just throw away, and whatever else.

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Free webinar with Deepak Chopra & Eckhart Tolle on Aug. 3, 2016
Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
12:11:18 GMT


Today, I heard about a free (in price) webinar on August 3, 2016 with Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle:

Beautiful Chaos: How to Find Meaning in a Messy World

Usually I'm more interested in pondering more practical (or hopefully practical) ways to solve the world's problems, rather than just seeking better ways to philosophize about and not feel as bad about the way things are.

But, for some reason, I'm interested in attending. I'm unfamiliar with Eckhart Tolle, but I read a bunch of Deepak's books a long time ago and liked many ideas in them, even though I was (and am still) very agnostic and (believe it or not) skeptical about many things, despite my embarrassingly openly-admitted interest in topics like astrology, etc.

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Updated the Self-Help section and Donations page
Thursday, November 26th, 2015
02:25:59 GMT


For the first time since Jan. 2, 2013, I updated the Self-Help page. And for the first time since May 13, 2013, I updated the Donations page.

What got me started on all this was discovering that I never fixed the broken link on the Self-Help page to one of the very best self-help essays I ever read - How to Operate Your Brain Perfectly, by Nick Pagan.

Fortunately, that PDF file is still available, thanks to Archive.org.

(Addition, Nov. 28, 2015, 1:49 AM EST: I recently rediscovered some self-help videos by the author of that essay: 1dayhabit.com Videos.)


Then, once I fixed that link, it occurred to me that Non24.Com and Non24.Org would be appropriate additions to the Self-Help page.

So I started writing about them - and then ended up also writing some autobiographical stuff.

But just the tip of the iceberg, as usual, since for various reasons I can't yet actually publish the most interesting stuff, or get into much detail about it.


Happy Thanksgiving, and also thanks to everyone who ever helped me in any way.

I hope someday I'll be able to repay everyone's kindness somehow, such as through my various creations such as software, articles, etc. - or even through my possible future wealth, if I'm ever fortunate enough to get wealthy.


One of the things I like about my own astrological chart is that I have Uranus in the 2nd house, which is often thought to be associated with sudden unusual changes in one's material fortunes.

Sometimes, that has seemed true - but that's another story I can't yet tell in full detail.


Addition, Nov. 25, 2015, 11:31 PM EST. Realized I forgot to mention anything about some of the most useful software I've ever encountered, so I added that to the Self-Help page's External Links section.

Addition, Nov. 30, 2015, 2:17 AM EST: Added a bit more to the GNU Emacs section of the Self-Help page.

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Some thoughts on synchronicities
Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
14:05:54 GMT


I've been continuing to procrastinate about even checking my email or forums lately. Sorry about that.

At the moment, I'm more in the mood to just climb up on my soapbox and give a speech than interact with people.


I'm still itching to create (or find) a CMS (or content management system, for lack of a better term) that I feel happy and comfortable with - since until I do, I don't think I'm going to feel really enthusiastic about adding to my websites. Plus, I think a lot of my projects could benefit from some templating features.

A CMS of some sort should also help with my old project of writing my autobiography. (It's surprisingly more interesting than most people would expect. Surprised me, too.) And, since I find most mundane things about life relatively boring - with my autobio project, I will probably continue to mostly focus on documenting the weird but cool synchronicities and other surprising oddities I've sometimes encountered, rather than writing very much about the many boring things in my life (which far outnumber the interesting things).

I have a bunch of remarkable things rather crudely documented, but, I want to make them a lot more organized and presentable, even beyond what I've already managed to achieve with the help of Astroblahhh Desktop.


Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to publish most of my autobiography for a very long time due to privacy concerns and the fact that I almost certainly wouldn't be able to obtain permission from everyone mentioned.

But, I'm not sure publishing it would do the world much good anyway, since reading about others' remarkable experiences (and then having to wonder if they're even true) is definitely far from as life-changing (and hopefully beneficial) as having your own remarkable experiences.

So, perhaps what would be more worthwhile for me to share would simply be, suggestions which could help curious people increase their chances of encountering (or noticing) remarkable synchronicities.


Actually, I already mentioned some ideas a long time ago on the About Astroblahhh.Com page.

Such as the idea of keeping a dream journal, so if there ever happen to be any odd coincidences between your dreams and the real world, you'll have a much easier time noticing that than if you never write down your dreams.

And I also highly recommend checking out checking out asteroids in astrology, including both natal placements of asteroids, and transits. There are thousands of differently-named asteroids. I particularly recommend checking out the ones which have your name(s) or similar, or the names (or approximate names) of significant people or things in your life. I've seen some darned weird-seeming stuff with asteroids at times.

(At the moment, it's probably easier to look up asteroids using the free chart-calculating features on Astrodienst than to use my free, libre, open source astrology software Eryss, unless you happen to already be running Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, or something quite similar. But someday, I hope to release versions of Eryss for a wider variety of computer platforms.)

And another thing I highly recommend is taking lots of notes. And not only having a dream journal, but a diary of events in your life might really help a lot.

Hmm, those actually might already be the best suggestions I have for anyone who wants to encounter (or notice) more odd synchronicities in their own lives.


Even though I probably won't be able to release my autobiography for a long time, I still want to work on it, because for me, synchronicities serve as a lovely reminder that perhaps it's really true that "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy", and that maybe miracles really are possible.

And, I hope analyzing these various oddities more carefully, comparing them to each other, looking for patterns amongst them, etc., might help shed more light on how and why in the universe such strange things sometimes happen.


I have far more questions than answers. Questions like, does prayer actually work, at least a bit, sometimes? Does God exist and really send "signs" sometimes?

Is there actually some grain of truth in the often disgustingly snake-oily-seeming New Age "Law of Attraction" crap?

Some people (like various famous reputedly psychic mediums) believe that everyone has "spirit guides", and that sometimes your spirit guides send you meaningful "signs". So is that the explanation for synchronicities?

Can astrology ever be proven objectively to have some grain of validity? What would analyzing astrology in depth using statistics reveal? (Hopefully future editions of Eryss - my free, libre, open source astrology software - will be useful tools in exploring these questions.)

Does telepathy really exist, or other psychic phenomena? (I'm not sure what else could explain some of my dreams.)

Does reincarnation really exist?

Searching for credible answers to questions like those will probably keep me busy for the rest of my life.


Returning to the topic of synchronicities - another possible (but boring) explanation for synchronicities is that they are nothing but an illusion resulting from the human brain's capacity for perceiving patterns that aren't really there.

Sure, many flimsy synchronicities are probably totally explainable that way - though I think they probably shouldn't even be called synchronicities if they're that flimsy.

But the really interesting ones are not so easily dismissed.

I'm tempted to share a doozy or two from my own life - but, I'm feeling a bit too timid to do that at the moment, so I'll just direct you to Wikipedia's article on synchronicities.

Plus, anything written by C. G. Jung would probably be fascinating to check out. I haven't read very much of that yet myself, but I really want to, maybe even in its original language (German, I assume).


I used to have an even unhappier life than I do now. I used to be far more cynical (I still am probably more cynical than I should be, but at least less than before), and far more close-minded, scornful, and prejudiced against anything I regarded as irrational nonsense, such as religion, spirituality, astrology, or anything else that seemed to make no darn sense. (Though at the same time, I was still curious and both repelled and intrigued by such things, rather than 100% dismissive and avoidant. I was quite dismissive, but not nearly as avoidant as many people who consider these things a total waste of time are.)

Then, on a curious whim, I took a closer look at astrology when I was 18, and was quite surprised by what I found. (But that's a long story which I can't yet get into.)


Those and other fascinating synchronicities gradually made me more and more open-minded, and I became convinced that parts of religion, astrology, spirituality, and other things I had scoffed at were quite possibly not such abysmally irrational and empty rubbish as I originally thought.

So, I gradually became agnostic (with major suspicions that God might really exist), rather than an atheist-almost-for-sure as I had originally been.

I still retain my skeptical distaste for blindly believing in anything without evidence/logical reasons to believe.

But the various remarkable synchronicities I encountered seem to provide me some legitimate reason to at least suspect that there really might be "more things in heaven and earth" than were dreamt of in my original cynical, closed-minded, very mainstream-skeptical philosophy.


Despite my largely transformed worldview, I stlil sometimes (OK, often) pout and get profoundly sad about how unpleasant and lonely my life has too often been, and the tons of problems in the world. O me of little faith.

But, thinking back to the various wonders I somehow had the luck to stumble into (partly thanks simply to keeping a dream journal and diary, and being observant and curious) has done a lot to rescue me from abject despair.

So, I just thought I should write about that - the best cure for despair I've encountered in my life, other than obvious comforts like food, shelter, money, love, etc.

Perhaps if other people do some of what I did (dream journaling, keeping a diary, playing around with astrology, etc.) and encounter their own remarkable synchronicities, perhaps it might help lift them out of despair too?


Again, I'm unable to share too many private details from my and others' lives.

But, fortunately, there's far less reason for me to avoid pointing out odd astrological coincidences I've noticed which have nothing whatsoever to do with anyone's private lives. :-)

I guess I'll only point out a few for now. And, with the particular ones I had in mind, it seemed most appropriate to post them to Eryss.Com.

So, here's a link to that post:

Eris, Xena, Discord

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Link: "5 Reasons You Should Treat Your Partner Like Your Dog"
Thursday, August 16th, 2012
19:25:57 GMT


Link

I liked this article from PaidToExist.com:

5 Reasons You Should Treat Your Partner Like Your Dog

Don't worry, it's much nicer than the title sounds. :-)

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Free: Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge - Begins July 16th, 2012
Friday, July 13th, 2012
20:23:07 GMT


Today, I signed up for the free Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge™, which begins Monday, July 16th, 2012.

Never did one of these meditation challenges before. Maybe it will be fun and beneficial. And if it's not - whatever, at least it's free.

According to their FAQ, you'll be able to download all the meditations for free. (Update, 7/28/2012. Sorry - actually for purchase. I misunderstood what I read. The way the FAQ phrased it was "for download" and not "for purchase", and I just mistakenly assumed it was a free download.) Each meditation will only be available to listen to for free for 7 days after it's posted.

The theme or title of this challenge is "Free to Love". Sounds nice to me.

I guess I might like it. Looking forward to finding out. Guided meditations (especially with music - I hope there's music) do tend to be less boring for me than just sitting there silently. I'm definitely not much of a fan of meditation in general, though - it often seems like a boring waste of time to me.

But, lots of people think meditation is really awesome, so, maybe I've just been doing it wrong. And maybe this free challenge will help me figure out how to do it right.


Update, 7/28/2012: I pretty much lost interest around Day 4 - even though I liked the benefits of meditation I heard about in these Introduction to Meditation videos by Deepak Chopra, and the meditations were guided for the first several minutes and had music throughout, and were relaxing and not bad to listen to.

I guess I just feel like I have too many more important things to do. First I tried doing the meditations soon after waking up, and I sort of liked them, but afterward, to my mild dismay, I found myself a bit less motivated to go and do the productive things I would rather have been doing other than meditation.

So I started putting off doing the meditations until closer to bedtime, but soon ended up putting them off so long I was too tired to want to do them anymore. Then I procrastinated until the meditations I didn't listen to yet were due to be taken down (7 days after they were posted), but, still didn't feel like doing them.

However, I still think meditation might be worth doing. Someday I'll probably get around to giving it another try.

Especially since Joseph Ducreux seems to think meditation is a good idea. :-)


(Meme image not by me,
I found it on the web somewhere.)

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Free teleseminar by Neale Donald Walsch, 6/15/2011, 8:30 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
23:14:43 GMT


Link

Less than 1.5 hours from now, today, Wednesday, at 8:30 PM EDT (5:30 PM Pacific Time), there's going to be a free teleseminar by Neale Donald Walsch (author of the Conversations with God books). The teleseminar will be available for download afterward.

How To Have Your Own Conversation With God

I've never seen or heard a teleseminar by Neale before, so I don't know what to expect from this or how good this will be. However, I read some of his books, and though I was quite dubious about various things they stated, I nonetheless enjoyed reading them.

Best wishes and hugs to everyone, especially anyone who is having a rough day.


Edit, 6/16/2011, 7:39 AM. The teleseminar is now available for immediate download after you fill in your name and email address at the page linked to above.

The MP3 of the teleseminar is about 14 MB and 77:34 long. (Edit, 2:48 PM. I'm not sure, since I didn't listen to the whole thing over again, but it sounds like it might have just as many annoying skips in the audio as the live webcast. Oh, well.)

I'm not going to thoroughly review it, but I enjoyed it. It was better than I thought it might be, and wasn't too sales pitchy.

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Ganesh Mantra
Thursday, June 9th, 2011
23:01:09 GMT


Video Link

Here's a link to a video from YouTube.

Ganesh Mantra - Obstacle Breaker (STROBE)

According to the video's description, it contains only 98 repetitions of the mantra, since 108 wouldn't fit in 10 minutes.

I don't know if mantras really have any genuine metaphysical effects. But the audio of that video definitely has the positive effect of relaxing me.

There are a lot of other mantra videos on YouTube.

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Avoiding Distractions on the Web - How to Block Websites Using Your Hosts File
Sunday, May 24th, 2009
03:12:36 GMT


Productivity

If you're trying to get useful things done while you're on the internet, but find yourself habitually wandering over to distracting websites like forums, YouTube, or web-based email, you might like to use the following instructions (or an adaptation of them, if you're not a Windows user) to block any sites you want from appearing in your web browser even if you try to go to them.


In not only Windows but other platforms, there's something called a hosts file which allows you to block sites. The way it does this is by making it so any attempts to access anything at certain domain names are redirected to some other IP address.

The location of the hosts file can vary, but, if you're a Windows XP user like me, you might find it in this folder:

C:/WINDOWS/system32/drivers/etc

If the hosts file isn't at that location, you can look in the Wikipedia article Hosts file for some other possible folders/file paths where it might be. (Alternatively, you can search the web for a different source of info which is more trustworthy than Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone).

In Windows, you can navigate to the above file path simply and easily by opening Internet Explorer, copying and pasting the above file path into the address bar, and pressing Enter on the keyboard.


Make a duplicate of your hosts file, so you can put it back the way it was in case you mess anything up. (In Windows, this can be done by single-clicking the file, pressing Ctrl and C at the same time on your keyboard, then pressing Ctrl and V at the same time on your keyboard. A new file titled "Copy of hosts" should appear).

If your hosts file is set to be read-only, you'll have to change that before you can edit it. In Windows, right-click on your hosts file and choose Properties, and then make sure there's no checkmark in the box that says "Read only".


Next, open the hosts file with a plain text editor like Notepad. To block YouTube, add some lines like these.

127.0.0.1 youtube.com
127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com

(You can put either spaces or tabs between the 127.0.0.1 and the domain name).

Save the file, and restart your web browser. Now, you won't be able to reach YouTube, because all your web browser's requests for anything at youtube.com or www.youtube.com will be redirected to 127.0.0.1, the localhost IP address - your own computer.

Unless you're running web server software on your computer for some reason (such as to run Astroblahhh Desktop or the Astrosorting Music Organization Database (AMODB)), you'll only reach a blank page.


If you want to stop blocking YouTube without deleting the above lines altogether, then, you can put some pound signs at the beginning of the above lines, like this:

#127.0.0.1 youtube.com
#127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com

Then, if you ever want to block YouTube again, you can just delete those pound signs.


Another tip - don't make it too easy for yourself to access and edit your hosts file. If you're using a particularly nice plain text editor like my favorite, NoteTab Light, you might be able to bookmark the hosts file. But, it's better not to, because that would make it too easy to unblock the sites you want to avoid.

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Tapestry Analogy
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
21:48:55 GMT


Link

At Donald Trump's blog, I found an encouraging analogy, comparing your life to a tapestry, in this blog post:

Why We Want You To Be Rich: Winners Take Control (5/15/2009)

I found it cheering, so, just thought I'd point it out.

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Free Samples from PhilosophersNotes.com
Thursday, December 25th, 2008
08:40:31 GMT


PhilosophersNotes.com is a website which provides very abbreviated summaries of popular self-help books in PDF and MP3 formats.

Currently, PhilosophersNotes.com is offering 25 free MP3s and PDFs. You can sign up to get those at this page.

This appears to be a holiday gift, so I assume it's only a temporary offer. So, if you want them, sign up while you can. (Edit, 1/9/2009, 4:30 AM: Actually, they're still available now too). Once you sign up, you'll be able to download the MP3s and PDFs until the end of 2009.

(Edit, 4/26/2009: The original offer has been expired for a while now, but, happily, you can still hear the first few minutes of each MP3 and see the first page of each PDF.)

By the way, the MP3s aren't just a verbatim reading of the PDFs. There are often little variations thrown in.

I recommend getting both the PDFs and the MP3s - the PDFs are great for a quick overview or review, and the MP3s are great if you're working on some kind of mindless task like cleaning or driving but want to learn something at the same time.

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If You Can't Do Something Hard, Try Something Even Harder
Friday, December 12th, 2008
03:41:03 GMT


Tip

Programming is really difficult and tedious for me. It's often hard for me to do, and often hard to even force myself to start struggling to do. But one good thing about programming (aside from it enabling me to create unique and utterly customized tools I never could have obtained in any other way) is the fact that it makes a majority of everything else I might ever want to do seem tremendously easy in comparison.

For instance, years ago, I was interested in learning Japanese. Of course, I gave up on that - mostly because of losing interest, but also because of having too many obstacles such as little money for books, no computer with good Japanese dictionary software, no convenient transportation to the library, little internet access except at night and in the early morning when it wasn't clogging my family's phone line, etc. (I know it's pathetic that I let such things stop me, but my excuse is, I was a teenager who was not very resourceful and crippled with shyness).

And on top of that, Japanese itself was hard to learn. All those blasted thousands of characters, and multiple pronunciations for each. Arrghhh!!

Recently, though, something drew my attention back to the idea of learning Japanese, and I ended up looking through some of my old books. Whereupon, to my surprise, I discovered that just sitting there reading a book and passively absorbing even something as ridiculously overcomplicated as Japanese seemed blissfully, wonderfully easy compared to all the frustration and torment of having to constantly wrack my brain to figure out the next logical step in the process of writing and debugging a program. It was truly a nice change of pace - just reading stuff and not having to really think about it, just soaking it up like a sponge.

So, in summary - if you're having trouble doing something hard, force yourself to do something tremendously harder for weeks or months on end. (I recommend programming). You might end up running back to the original difficult task with open arms.


(Not that I'm now studying Japanese again - not yet, at least. But, I really might go back to learning that, sometime. I already am dabbling in French again. Something language-related might actually be a much better career for me than programming. Learning languages seems to come more naturally to me, it's less of a struggle. I have never yet become fluent in any language besides English, but, I was good at French in high school, at least.

If I do start studying Japanese again, I plan on attempting to learn Chinese at the same time, because both use many of the same characters with the same meanings, and it appears Chinese might be less hard to read than I thought, because apparently, each character has only one pronunciation, unlike Japanese. Also, Mandarin Chinese is one of the most commonly-spoken languages in the world, so, it's bound to be useful. I always wonder what cool stuff in other languages I'm missing out on.)

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