3.365 Strongmen

18. In the shadow of the continuing riots and looting in major American cities, I think back to two countries where I live that will run by strong men, some referred to as dictators.

The men I am talking about are Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea.

When I went to South Korea in the Peace Corps in 1975, President Park had been in control for a number of years. One thing you can always count on from military men who become civilian leaders is that law and order is not just expected, but demanded.

This was during a period of time when the South Korean economy grew faster than just about any country in the world. As long as you stay out of politics, especially opposition politics, you are allowed to grow your business and prosper.

Now, South Korea is one of the richest countries in the world per capita.

While there were occasionally some protests and dissent that were allowed to happen, say farmers protesting some US policy in front of the Embassy, protests against the government were put down quickly and harshly.

In Seoul, on occasion the students would rise up and the air would be filled with tear gas drifting across the main part of downtown.

More serious uprisings and demonstrations occurred in 1979 and 1980 after president Park’s assination.

As for Ferdinand Marcos, he was the president of the Philippines at the time I was working for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer.

I had a chance to meet him in Malacañang Palace when a new ambassador to the Philippines was presenting his credentials.

I know people may not believe this, but I think Ferdinand Marcos is the most intelligent man I’ve ever been in the same room with.

In the Philippines, the police and military do control most of the major cities. However, in the provinces, roaming bands of dissidents may control huge areas of the country.

In some areas, poor people are forced to pay taxes to these guerillas. One thing I used to hear from them is that the guerillas charge less money and less taxes than the government used to.

Both Marcos and Park were army colonels that seized power in their countries.

Marcos was an absolute military hero during World War II. He was also the number one student who took the bar exam.

19. Last night, I broke down and consumed some potato chips and tropical trail mix before bed.

I even skipped dinner so this was the only extra food I had after breakfast at 10 in the morning.

My blood sugar shot up to 258 when I woke up early this morning. It’s obvious that I can control my diabetes, but only if I eat real whole food plant-based meals.

20. Now is the time I have to get serious about building up my body and finances to their maximum level so I can escape this country within one year.

What am I waiting for? To get old.

The recent virus lockdown and the widespread why rioting around the country have brought out the fact that no person is really safe – black or white – and it is time for each individual to protect himself or herself.

The police who have been militarized over the last four decades are not there to protect your homes and your businesses from looters and Rising.

They have been standing down in any number of cities at the request or demand of cowardly mayors.

No one is really safe. This has been the case for a very long time, but now it’s just becoming visible to the general population.

“For years now, we’ve been told that cops need military weapons to wage the government’s wars on drugs, crime and terror. We’ve been told that cops need to be able to crash through doors, search vehicles, carry out roadside strip searches, shoot anyone they perceive to be a threat, and generally disregard the law whenever it suits them because they’re doing it to protect their fellow Americans from danger. We’ve been told that cops need extra legal protections because of the risks they take.
None of that is true.”
Officer Friendly is dead. He was taken out back and beaten to death.
Even before the virus and the riots, people have been leaving New York City and San Francisco and moving to the Asheville, North Carolina area.

My friends in that area tell me that homes are exploding in price.

It used to be only Floridians who are running up the price of real estate and ruining North Carolina. Now it’s blue state individuals who can’t stand the society they’ve created.

In my opinion, it may not be enough to get out of the major cities to a small town or rural area. My advice to people who are retired and healthy is to consider moving to another country. At least you may want to consider having a second home that you can escape to if things get bad in the US.

I never thought I would get to the point that the US would not be safe.

The only saving grace for living in a rural America is that the internet has made the entire country more connected. Entertainment is available to everyone. Bread and circuses for everyone.

If there’s one stimulus that we need to make in this country that I know they won’t put into place, it’s the hard wire the entire country for 5G internet. Satellite connections are too slow and too expensive and only suitable for remote islands.

I know this can be used to help track and control citizens, but I think the added bandwidth and flexibility could be worth it to people who are willing to take their privacy seriously.

21. Habits and Rituals

To get the most out of the rest of my life, I am attempting to develop habits and create rituals that will help me work toward becoming a perpetual traveler again .

The trouble with habits and rituals is that they have a tendency to overwhelm the individual and make you a slave to something that may or may not be working.

Too many of us are muddling through life without discipline and wondering why we are not getting any closer to our vision of the lives we want to lead.

Massive success does not require big changes. As the stoics used to say, all you need to do is take small actions everyday that lead you in the right direction.

Repetition multiplies the power of our habits.

Over the course of the day, new habits have very little effect. but over the course of a year or more, habits can remake your life into something you’ve wanted to become for a very long time.

Our habits accumulate over time and define the course of our lives.

Habits are difficult. People start something new to improve their lives, but when they do not see results relatively quickly, they have a tendency to abandon the habits before they can help their lives.

This is where we get into the problem with goals. A number of efficiency experts try to tell you that you need to have a goal which has a fixed result at the end of a fixed time.

Yeah right.

The trouble with goals is that we very often don’t control the outcome of our actions. But we do control our actions.

We blindly chase after goals even though we should be looking at systems to improve our lives.

Does McDonald’s have a goal of serving a hamburger, or does it create a system that can serve millions of them every hour?

Goals don’t help you win.

Everyone in the Olympics has the same goal to win the gold medal. So the goal itself is useless. What is important is that you have a system of workouts and training that all lead to victory in your sport.

A perfect example I have a goal is to clean up a messy room. But that only provides a temporary change. If you have not changed your system of putting items in their place and keeping them in place, your room will soon return to the mess it was before.

If you change your system, you can easily change the output.

Goals have a way of making us prisoners. For many of us, instead of being a prisoner, we are more like escaped convicts. The goals are just sitting there, and we ignore them. All they do is make you feel guilty.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown and the rioting around the country, it’s becoming harder and harder to create the rituals you need to get you to an uncertain future.

My vision remains strong. I want to travel the world during the last years of my life, but to do that, I will need a lot more money than I have now. My thoughts take me back to Thailand. I have to decide if I’m still young enough to be able to take it and can dish it out.

Overall, if I’m looking for a full-time girlfriend or maybe even spouse, the Czech Republic seems to be the place to start. The only problem is that it’s a bit expensive. I should look at Poland now that the relations are getting closer.

Also, one of my main goals is to get rid of my current possessions and limit myself to only a few items.

One of the main things I need to do is buy a converter to save all of my old slides from Korea as digital images.

Update: the slide converter has arrived, and it works.

One of the problems with goals, is that when you reach your goal, you have a tendency to stop doing whatever it was that got you to that place.

I can remember back in high school, once I got a good grade on a test, I wasn’t interested in this subject much anymore.

When we were young, it was all about the goal, not the process.

Proper long-term thinking does not require goals.

Stoic habits of small actions that take place every day that help build up the individual. As we get older, taking those actions everyday gets harder and harder.

Small rituals and routines may seem unimportant at first but they combined to create a more successful life.

At the beginning of our quest, we want to concentrate on small improvements.

Daily 1% improvements will accumulate.

Focus on building your rituals and developing your system instead of the goals and selves. Rituals take the thought process out of your daily routines. There are many different things we do everyday that we don’t need to think much about.

We all find it extremely difficult to keep up a habit after an initial burst of motivation. However, once I have it is ingrained we don’t have to worry about it.

Unfortunately, both good and bad habits tend to stick around once they are ingrained.

Systems are far more important than goals.

Most of us look to change habits by creating a new outcome. Instead, we need to create new habits that will change the person we want to become.

Every system of habits is based on a system of beliefs.

For example, your goal should not be to read a book. Your goal should be to become a reader.

To change who we are, we have to change what we do.

First, you have to determine the kind of person you want to be. And then, prove that you are that person by engaging in a series of small actions and small wins.

Continuously update your habits and rituals to create the best you.

To build good habits make them apparent, appealing, easy, and satisfying.

To kill bad habits, make them unappealing and unsatisfying.

As I get older, I find it harder and harder to develop good habits and to remember everything that I want to do in my routines.

We need to be aware of our habits before we can change them. I may want to try a Japanese method of pointing and calling so that I don’t forget certain items that are critical to my success.

Time and location are critical. A detailed time and place to carry out a new plan makes it more likely that the new plan will be put in place.

For example, I will stretch for 10 minutes at 3:30 in the morning after feeding the cats.

Actually, I need to start with 1 or 2 minutes and build up.

On my list of habits that I am turning into rituals, I need to stack different items so that they become easy to do and a set order each day.

The environment can be much more important than motivation. You can place visual clues around your house to remind you of different actions that you need to take.

Make the cues to good habits apparent in your environment.

Make bad habits invisible. Lessen the number of cues in your environment to help get rid of any bad habits.

To create good habits, it helps to be part of a group where these actions are regularly taking place. In my own situation, I’m basically on my own. I do not have others to copy and imitate.

It may be a little more difficult, but I do have the ability to create whatever good habits I need and turn them into rituals.

We need to keep repeating habits until we do them automatically. Just make that first step.

Stoic action is needed, not words.

Habits help us accomplish more with less effort. To do this, we need to arrange our environment to make accomplishing it as easy as possible.

Create an environment where making the right choice is the easiest choice.

Increase resistance to bad behaviors.

To develop a new habit, it must take less than two minutes to put into action. We need to create a new habit before we can improve it. The habit must exist before it can get better.

In my case, I want to develop a number of new exercise routines that I can do at home in any short period of time when I need a break from whatever it is I’m working on.

Due to the changes brought on by the Coronavirus, I cancelled my Planet Fitness gym membership today which was not something I wanted to do.

From now on, I need to build my body by incorporating dozens of different exercises to work different muscles without the need for adding weights. At my age, just the resistance of my body weight is enough.

And the most dependable way to ensure correct behavior is to utilize technology to automate that behavior.

If we want to have it to stay, we need to feel successful even if the action was only a tiny one. Try to feel successful right after the action has been taken.

Some people use a physical calendar for habit tracking. Jerry Seinfeld used to mark his calendar with a big red X for every day he worked on new jokes. This was a visual metal track to help yourself write jokes every day and not break the x’s on your wall calendar.

Measuring like this is not for everyone. I am always going back and forth on whether or not I want to print out a daily PDF which shows the activities that I intend to accomplish on that particular day.

I believe it helps when you only track the most important habits that you have to get done. It helps if our habits synchronize with our natural abilities.

Most people waste a great deal of time trying to improve on their weaknesses. Most of us would be better off trying to maximize our strengths and develop these into the habits that can lead to being the best in your particular field.

The biggest challenge to success is boredom, not failure.

Anyone can succeed when highly motivated. The challenge is to continue moving forward when that motivation has subsided.

I think of the practice routines of athletes like Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps. No outside coach could ever have invented workouts as tough as the ones these athletes and post on themselves.

For me, to be able to create books and earn a full-time income from my own writing, I need to impose a similar routine on myself.

22. Planet Fitness in my area has reopened, but with temporary hours that do not suit my schedule.

I need to call back during regular business hours and cancel my membership.

This troubles me a great deal. I have always used Planet Fitness as a way to be able to catch a workout and a shower in any city in America. But if I don’t have the convenience to attend the gym 24/7 at my own location, then the membership has very little value to me.

But now that travel has been limited in the US, the benefit of being able to use a gym anywhere in the country is also of limited use to me. European countries are starting to ban the entry of Americans as part of the coronavirus lockdown. Maybe now Americans will get the idea that we don’t run the world.

I don’t remember the last time I used a Planet Fitness gym in a city other than Jacksonville.

What it will do is accelerate my desire to create workout routines for me at home that do not require weights.

This will allow me to travel anywhere in the world, even to remote country areas, and still be able to stay physically fit.

I’m working on my WS system, and one thing I need to do is write an article or comment on everything that I want to incorporate into my business. Instead of coming back to a bookmark later, I need a post.

One of the benefits of Your Music Library on Amazon Prime is a chance to listen to the songs of long lost blues and country musicians, as well as early rockabilly.

My favorites recently have included Ricky Nelson and Gladys Knight. I don’t know why, but Gladys first thing in the morning raises my spirits. Later in the day, a little CSNY or even Do Wop reminds me of the old days.