Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cleanup 2010

I recently re-established contact someone. She's the girl in this post from April 2008. She does not use social networking sites (facebook) and rarely ever pops up online on instant messaging. I havent seen or heard from her in almost two years.

It made me realize something. Human relationships are ultimately independent of the internet. So what if you stalk and watch the status updates of a thousand people you barely know? It does not make you closer to someone, and cloggs up your brain with unnecessary information about people who dont necessarily care about you in return.

Facebook will now be more focused. More relevant. I will only see updates from people whom I really know are my friends. Those who reciprocated empathy. Those whom I care about. Those whom I wont hesitate to call if I broke a leg. Allowances will be made for people likely to be important to my career (read: Friends from the faculty I dont really know well), but they will be appropriately classified as work related contacts and their status updates will be hidden from my view. There will also be allowances for new people I would like to establish contact with.

Robin Dunbar (read about Dunbar's Number) observed that social groups tend to lose cohesiveness after the size exceeded 150 people. He estimated that people could maintain contact with roughly 150 people at once. Any more and social connections will start to collect dust and break. As a young guy, a majority of my friends use facebook, hence it offers a pretty good representation of my social circles, both past and current. Despite having a pretty strict no-add policy, my friends list has ballooned to over 500 people. I dare say that I only have about ten people on that list whom I would call without hesitation if I broke a leg. Only half of them are in Australia. The target is to trim my facebook contacts to about 100 people, with the remainder (estimated to be around 100) consisting of people I recently met and wish to build bridges and those relevant to my career path.

Apologies to those deleted from my friends list in facebook and MSN. I just have to stop this flood of status updates that I want yet dont want to read =S. Even if you cannot reach me on facebook, know that my current contact details can be found from this blog (about me page) and I would be glad to re-establish contact. It's not going to be easy, but it has to be done. The criteria for selection has been highlighted in the previous blog post.

Removed 314 people from my friends list (updated 25th Jan). Final tally:
- 87 med acquaintences added to facebook list
- about 20 new people (ie. people I'd like to get to know better)
- about 90 friends

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The First Ezra Plan

2010 begins with a more balanced view of the world and the opportunities available to me. The negativity that has plagued me is no more. Major health concerns have been resolved and I have the strength and vigor to put my life plans into motion. Spiritual issues have been resolved and my mind is at peace. Through experience I now know what needs to be done and I find myself at a very critical stage in my life.The coming years will likely determine the course that my life will take. Career goals have to be met, but more importantly, who I choose to mix and empathize with will determine my social circles, and the real course my life would take. I also have to find someone worthy to spend my life with, and the current trend is worrying - the most worthy women from my generation are being snapped up even as I write this article.

Status Report, January 2010:
Fundamentals: Physical wellbeing finally adequately taken care of with kinesthetic knowledge improving steadily. Spiritual issues resolved. Connectedness improving though still not satisfactory. Mental health improving with a more positive outlook on life and new things.
Career: On track. Unsatisfactory progress in 2008. More effort needed to integrate ideas/concepts on various subspecialties. Anatomy and histology knowledge lacking.
Relationships (platonic): Ties with too many social circles from scattered, unrelated groups of people. They tend to lack depth. A solid core social circle is needed.
Relationships (romantic): Actively dating. Not attached. Up trend clearly noted following improvements in physical wellbeing and greater connectedness. More worthy women starting to reciprocate romantic interest.
Arts: I've discovered that I have a rather low pitched singing voice. Think Creed and John Mayer. My first cover, Check Yes Juliet, was sung one whole octave lower which is why it didnt sound too good. I could barely hit the high notes of my second cover Over It.

The First Ezra Plan, 2010

Broad Goals: To win in the game of life - Career and relationships, built on a solid foundation of a healthy mind, body and spirit.

[Fundamentals: Physical] A maintenance program at the gym with a better alternating routine to maximize efficacy of compound exercises. Hope to hit a realistic 67kg target this year. A proper stretching routine will also be implemented. There is a grave need to improve hip flexibility for everything from dance to pool (snooker). I can now confidently do wide grip pull-up's. Next up: Handstand pushups.

[Fundamentals: Nutrition] This underpins all aspects of my life. Bottom line: 2000 Cal with 70g of protein, fruit and green leafy vegetables a day. My diet in Melbourne has improved by leaps and bounds since 2007, but there is still room for improvement. A hybrid asian/western cooking style will be used. There were two very important culinary discoveries last year: Variations of the ricepot meal and the humble bean/tuna salad. Being able to prepare food efficiently and consistently is important for maintaining good nutrition over the long run.

[Fundamentals: Career] I will need to devote more time to study this year, compared to almost no time spent last year (the 30 odd hours before the exams dont count). I have learnt that reading textbooks is a waste of time. Study smart. It's all about integrating knowledge and connecting all the dots in my head. This year, the focus will be on doing (workbook) patient cases one after another. Think what House MD does everytime he approaches a new case. Yeah, that's pretty much it. I will then do Q&A for topics relevant to the case. This should strengthen mental processes needed to deal with patients in the real world which is what really matters, both in practice and in my clinical exams. I plan to study for an hour a day. An infinite improvement over last year, on which most days I didnt study at all.

[Fundamentals: Spirit Core] Cognitive dissonance is no more. At peace with myself, I can now focus on what needs to be done. The ideas are all there. First Principles. Anonymously, I lift up the proverbial pen...

[Relationships: Platonic] Outreach attempts in 2009 ended up with varying levels of success. I had overstretched my mental capacity to handle human relationships. As a result, social connections ended up being too diverse and too scattered. A more focused effort is called for in order to strengthen connections with core social networks. Special attention must be placed on forming a core support group from existing social networks (or possibly new ones next year in the halls).

[Relationsihps: Romantic] There has been a steady rise in the quality of women reciprocating romantic interest in 2009. I hope this trend will continue. Last year's policy stands - I will continue to actively pursue women I find attractive who reciprocate romantic interest. I cannot determine who I will fall in love with (or who falls in love with me), but I can determine whom I choose to date.

[Sports and Recreation] With focus on the gym and kinesthetic arts I dont think I will have much time for sports, though I will try to make time for badminton. It will be more of a social thing and tie in with efforts to be more integrated into targeted social circles.

[Project GROOVE] 2009 saw my weight rise by over 20kg (Project RAM). 2010 will see me on the dance floor.

[Project VANITY] I've ignored looks for too long. Appropriate emphasis on looks and fashion is one of the things I am really looking forward to in 2010. The gym has given me more options when I shop for clothes, and I will use this to my full advantage.

[Arts: Music] I never knew I could sing until I tried. So why not try harder? I've learnt more teaching myself the guitar (from youtube!!) and singing in 2009 than I ever learnt playing the organ for years. I hope to record a few more covers this year. There is a small chance I will have time to participate in the Richardson Hall band. Was quite surprised when Simon (drummer and organizer) approached me. I may not be up to standard yet but I look forward to giving it a shot.

[Arts: Kinesthetic] Salsa once a week. Boxing circuit once a week. Hip Hop and Capoeira if possible. Capoeira is great fun and forms the basis for many freestyle hip hop moves (the same way ballet does for contemporary ballroom) but I will likely need classes as I am not yet at a level where I can explore it by myself.

[Policy: People First] Anyone who has sent me an sms knows I can take a whole day, or days, to respond. I read the message, then think about something else. It's like people simply isnt a priority in my life. By the time it gets replied, days could have passed. Something has to change about my approach to people in general. I need to place more emphasis on initiating and reciprocating attention as social situations demand. So what does it mean to put people first? Broadly, this involves thinking less of oneself and more of others, along with better outreach and sensitivity towards other people. I have to make it a point to reply messages more quickly and with empathic and meaningful replies.

[Policy: Facebook] Currently, my facebook account is a bit messy. My home page gets inundated with updates from people I barely know. There are too many random acquaintences - despite having a rather strict no-add policy (with the exception of family/relatives, I dont add people on facebook). There is a need for stricter control on who gets approved.

[Policy: Photos] I need to be more active uploading photos, especially for the purpose of strengthening social connections. Lugging around a big camera simply isnt practical, and technology has progressed to a point where cellphone point and shoot cameras are good enough for web/social use anyway. I expect most pictures taken this year to be from a cameraphone. That said, I will still probably follow the Monash Photography Club for excursions with my DSLR.

[Cleanup 2010] My facebook and MSN accounts are flooded with people I barely know. It's time to delete contacts. It's not going to be easy, but criteria would pretty much be:
(1) Am i likely to interact with him/her in the next one year?
(2) Is he/she significant to career/social progress?
(3) Can I recall doing something with him/her?
(4) Do I see myself re-establishing contact with him/her in the near future?
The target is 150 facebook contacts max. Apologies to all those affected. If you would like to re-establish contact with me, drop me a message on facebook or MSN. My current contact details can always be found here.