Journal Entry - Friday, March 1, 2024



The Pursuit of Happiness


I just started reading “The Pursuit of Happiness” by Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen is the President and Chief Executive officer of the National Constitution Center. It is not an exaggeration to say he knows more about the Constitution, its origins, and its motivation than most likely any sitting Supreme Court Justice. That’s another topic.

When I say I started reading, I mean I just started… I’m on page 3. Let me tell you, I can already see this will be one of the best books I have ever read. That is a bit of a superlative I realize. Keep in mind I studied Political Science with an emphasis on Con Law. I know, I know, what does that buy you when you’ve spent your life as a database developer and Linux programmer… Probably nothing (but I like to think a tiny bit).

I adore this quote from Cicero:

O philosophy, guide of life!
O searcher out of virtue and exterminator of vice!
One day spent well and in accordance with thy precepts
Is worth an immortality of sin.

Obviously, Cicero is telling us that one day of virtue is more satisfying than an entire life of sin. That is a beautiful thought. Imagine if we could just manage two days of virtue…



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Journal Entry - Thursday, February 29, 2024



My Love


You are my love.
You are beautiful.

It makes me proud to know you love me.
I would go anywhere with you on my arm.

I smile when I think of you.
Every moment with you Is precious.

Even though I was not given a lifetime with you,
Now that you are a part of my life,
I appreciate it all the more.



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Journal Entry - Wednesday, February 28, 2024



Thirteen Virtues


Benjamin Franklin was a man who wrestled with his urges and flaws. He also worked hard to improve himself. He decided that working on the following thirteen virtues would make him a better man. He shared his plan with several of his friends, among them Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. (They also adopted his project in their own lives.) He worked on a single virtue for one week, then moved on to the next. He chose thirteen virtues because that would allow him to work on each of the virtues four times a year. Here is his list of virtues for self-improvement:

  1. Temperance
  2. Silence
  3. Order
  4. Resolution
  5. Frugality
  6. Industry
  7. Sincerity
  8. Justice
  9. Moderation
  10. Cleanliness
  11. Tranquility
  12. Humility
  13. Chastity

If one is interested in a project like this, as I am, the point is not to adopt Benjamin Franklin’s list, but to come up with a list best suited to achieving one’s own goals for bettering the self. It doesn’t have to be thirteen virtues. The important thing is to give this some careful thought, draw up a list that reflects the improvements you desire to make, and then work on each in turn, recording your progress as you move through your list. There is no record of why Franklin chose to work on one virtue at a time and record his results, but modern psychology has shown this is the best way to develop new habits and incorporate positive change into our lives.

My list will probably be different and may have more or less than thirteen virtues that need improvement. (One of the above is not a problem for me…) I will be tracking my project results in my private journal, this entry serves as my “project kick-off.” There is no finish line. (Some might say I’m getting a late start…) I’m aware that a good deal of time may be needed! Benjamin Franklin had this to say about the results of his project:

“On the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell short of it, yet as I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”



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Journal Entry - Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - Part 1



A Contest Ensues…


I challenged OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot to a contest. I asked each to write a poem about me, in sonnet form. What follows are the results of the contest, and my humble (if that’s possible) opinion of which AI engine is the better poet. Keep in mind the opinions of ChatGPT and Copilot are their own, fact-checking by the reader is encouraged.



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Journal Entry - Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - Part 2



A Sonnet by OpenAI’s ChatGPT


In shadows cast upon the stage, he strides,
Brad Adkins, with a poet’s heart ablaze,
His words, like stars, in midnight skies reside,
Each line a melody, a timeless phrase.

With pen in hand, he weaves a tapestry,
Of dreams and hopes, of love and loss entwined,
Through sonnets sung with heartfelt honesty,
He paints a portrait of the human mind.

In every verse, a glimpse of truth appears,
A mirror held to life’s complexities,
With wisdom drawn from laughter and from tears,
He captures hearts and sets the spirit free.

So let us raise our voices in acclaim,
To Brad Adkins, the bard who lights our flame.



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Journal Entry - Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - Part 3



A Sonnet by Microsoft’s Copilot


Brad Adkins: An Ode to Creativity

In Portland’s vibrant heart, Adkins weaves,
A self-taught maestro, colors on his brush,
Poster boy of low-rent art, he believes,
In everyday magic, life’s ordinary hush.

His canvas, the quotidian’s humble frame,
Brushstrokes of curiosity, whimsy, and grace,
Charm Bracelet’s symphony, a whispered name,
Collaborating with time, in life’s bustling space.

From Kalispell’s peaks to Oregon’s embrace,
He curates, orchestrates, and paints the air,
A cotton farmer’s son, a cotton field’s trace,
Adkins, the artist, weaves dreams with care.

So raise a toast to Brad, the unseen star,
His art, a sunbeam dancing from afar.

Note: Brad Adkins’ diverse work spans beyond visual art, touching music and conversation. This sonnet captures a glimpse of his creative spirit.



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Journal Entry - Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - Part 4



The Winner Is…


ChatGPT over Copilot, hands down…



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Journal Entry - Sunday, February 25, 2024



The Lake


The lake is a strand of dark blue
Surrounded by a ribbon of green marsh grass.
Ducks fly in low, landing in sequence,
They form a line paddling to the opposite bank,
Their purpose unknown.

How long has this rock I am sitting on
Been waiting here for me?
Certainly, since before I was born.
It seems likely to be here
Long after I am gone.

I picture this rock having been placed here
By the cataclysmic uplift that created these mountains,
Or perhaps it broke away from the peak above
like a disobedient child, tumbling and churning
Until it came to rest here, where I to sit.

I don’t want to leave this spot.
It makes me think of places far away,
Sights more beautiful than I can imagine,
Destinations I have yet to experience…
But I think, being here is enough.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/24/24



# 158


I threw some money away today. I signed up (online) for a service without reading the fine print. If I canceled (even immediately) I was still obligated to pay a fairly significant “cancellation fee.” Welcome to the “Internet Service” business model. My bad.

I suppose this makes me naive, or worse yet, just not very bright, oh well… I blame the service provider for not making the terms at least somewhat visible before pressing the ever-engaging “Continue” button…



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Journal Entry - Saturday, February 24, 2024



What is a Bicycle Tour


A bicycle tour is a bit more than getting on a bicycle and going for a ride. You’re stepping out of your normal existence, and you’re entering into an entirely new world. It’s a lifestyle apart from what constitutes “normal life.” Every day requires focus but on a limited number of tasks. This narrowing of awareness results in increased observation of your surroundings, your own feelings, and everything you are experiencing. It makes other peoples’ opinions and attitudes less relevant, not less important or less valuable, just less impactful on you. That allows you to appreciate other people without obsessing about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of what they may be saying at the moment.

Your day begins with a simple meal and a cup of coffee you make with your own hands. It’s enjoyable because you created it. Packing your gear for the day’s ride is done deliberately and with intention. So it is with a myriad of details throughout the day. The simple process of stopping and securing your bicycle becomes a satisfying and affirming ritual. Setting up camp, preparing to sleep, sleeping, and waking, are things that take on a significance that has no counterpart in “normal” life. They are immensely satisfying.

You see things in a whole new way. You are forced to slow down your perception of time and your observational perception. At the same time you are slowing down, your mind is embracing thoughts and ideas that wouldn’t normally be noticed. “Mind expanding” may be a bit of an overstatement, but it’s a good description of the mental experience that comes with the physical exertion of riding for eight or ten hours a day, day after day.

While all of this is part of the journey, the real thrill is completing your adventure and looking back on the experience. You can’t help but grow from the accomplishment. A tour is an accomplishment to be proud of. If you are like me, after you complete your tour, you’ll be asking yourself, “What discoveries will I make on my next tour…”



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Interesting Shit - Friday, February 23, 2024



My Truck’s Electrical System


Dual battery setups are quite common in overland vehicles. This allows the system to provide auxiliary power for accessories when camping. The system can be used to provide power to accessories when the rig isn’t running (lights, inverter, device chargers…emergency power for a chair lift at Mt. Bachelor, etc.) In a dual battery setup, the batteries can be connected in series or in parallel. Batteries in series will have the negative of the first battery connected to the positive of the second battery. Batteries in parallel will have positive from the first battery connected to positive to the second battery, same with the negatives.[ www.batterystuff.com/kb/articl… ](#)

Unless you drive your rig every day, and a fair distance at that, your alternator may not be up to the task of keeping the system fully charged. I’m told this is particularly a problem when an owner is an old man who just takes his rig out for long-distance adventures occasionally, and the rest of the time just drives to the liquor store. (Fact.) I have also been told old ladies are harder on electrical systems since their trips tend to be shorter, less frequent, and slower to boot. (I have no idea if that is true or not…)

To solve this problem you need to keep a battery maintainer connected to your rig. Here’s where this “interesting shit” actually gets interesting. You have to pay attention to the type of batteries you have installed. There are three types, Lead-Acid1, AGM, and Lithium. If you have two batteries of different types (I have AGM and Lithium) you need to buy a maintainer that can handle both types. Put the maintainer in Lithium mode and connect the jumpers to the terminals on the Lithium battery. You’re all set. (Note: don’t let this deter you from making those daily trips to the liquor store…)



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  1. If you have a Lead-Acid battery, get rid of it. ↩︎

A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/23/24



# 157


Sometimes I laugh and cry at the same time. I’m going to take that as a healthy thing. It’s probably better than crying. If you are just crying, you probably have given up. If you are just laughing, you probably haven’t embraced the depth of what is confronting you.



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Interesting Shit - Thursday, Feb 23, 2024



Tire Rotation Schedule & Tracking


Toyota Tacoma - New Tires Installed at 127,149 miles.

Mileage Date Actual Location
127,149 2/23/2024 127,149 Redmond, OR
132,000
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		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			137,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			142,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			147,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			152,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			157,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			162,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			167,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			172,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			177,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			182,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			187,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			192,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>
			197,000
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
		<td>
			
		</td>
	</tr>
</tbody>

Naturally, this will be updated from time-to-time. I realize this may seem a bit neurotic, but trust me, it’s also fun.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/22/24



# 156


I have been told by certain people that I lack “assertiveness” (Oddly enough this corresponds to Grammarly’s interpretation of my writing.) In fairness to myself, I find it necessary to point out what I consider to be a truism, that is: “Genius hesitates.”1

Albert Einstein in his seminal 1905 paper on Quanta, considered to be the birth certificate of Quantum Mechanics, began his famous paper with the words: “It seems to me…”



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  1. “Seven Brief Lessons On Physics,” Carlo Rovelli. P. 15. ↩︎

Journal Entry - Wednesday, February 21, 2024



My Grammarly Score


I’ve been using Grammarly for the last 15 weeks (the free version). It analyzes your writing and makes suggestions for improvement, including spelling corrections. Grammarly recently sent me some “insights.” They are quite interesting.

Productivity

I have been more productive than 80% of Grammarly users.

Mastery

I have been more accurate than 60% of Grammarly users.

Vocabulary

I have used more unique words than 65% of Grammarly users.

Tones

  • Confident 33%
  • Informative 33%
  • Formal 32%
  • Assertive 1%
  • Skeptical 1%

These statistics are based on an analysis of 94,549 words.




Looking over the numbers, several interesting things pop out. My “productivity” is higher than I would have expected. Frankly, I don’t think I write that much, put another way, I would like to write more. On the other side of the coin, My “vocabulary” and “mastery” aren’t all that impressive. I suppose being over 50% is better than being under 50%…

The most revealing statistics are the “tones.” My level of “confidence” is pretty low. I knew that. Along with “assertive,” I suppose this means I lack a fair amount of self-confidence. On reflection, I think that is a bit misleading. I try hard not to use a tone that tells people what they should think or how they should behave. I believe measuring those characteristics accurately would be beyond Grammarly’s ability without perhaps having a complete psychological profile of me at its disposal. (I admit using the word “perhaps” in the previous sentence would tend to lower my assertiveness score — there you go.)

Note to the Reader

The paid version of Grammarly (which I do not use) makes rewrite suggestions that can extend from whole sentences to whole paragraphs. That’s wonderful (maybe…) if you want to impress your teacher or professor, but that’s not why I write. I write because I enjoy the process and also because I think writing — for better or worse — should be an activity that reflects who you are, rather than who a machine thinks you should be.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/21/24



# 155


“Thank you.”

At least for me, the previous five entries have provided terrific inspiration. The trick is to revisit these words often and allow them to ingrain themselves into my practice. I have every intention of doing just that, to the best of my ability.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/20/24



# 154


“Keep going.”

Find something you like doing and keep doing it. Do it every day. Do it even if you aren’t particularly excited about it that day. Your reward is in the doing. It could be that today is not your day, but that’s okay, there is always tomorrow. Being the best is not the prize you are trying to obtain. Being the best you can be is the prize you are trying to obtain. That only comes with practice. Ask anyone who is the “best” at something why they do it and they will tell you it’s not out of a desire to be the best, I believe they will tell you it is out of a desire to do what they love.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/19/24



# 153


“Be kind to yourself.”

Give yourself some grace. Allow yourself to be forgiven when things don’t go quite as you had planned. My goal is to write, I don’t get discouraged when my writing is shit. I may never write like a New York Times columnist, but that’s okay because I’m writing like me.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/18/24



# 152


“Track your results.”

It doesn’t get any more simple than that, and the tracking does not have to be complicated. Simply clear your mind of success or failure, and write down what you did today. Don’t judge, just record. Judging will deter you. After a while the recording will become a reward in itself.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/17/24



# 151


“Build a routine.”

Someone recently asked me, “how do you have the discipline to write every day?” It is true routines are “built.” To begin building, the most important component is not caring about the result. Especially when the result is not what you hoped for. Make the point of what you are doing, simply the doing and nothing more. The love of what you are doing will emerge and the result will follow. The love of doing creates the discipline.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/16/24



# 150


The next five entries were inspired by the author Brianna Wiest.

“Start slow and small.”

Building on small successes is the most reliable way to reach a goal. Do what your goal dictates and do it every day despite what you may perceive as the quality of the result. If a small result emerges, celebrate it.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/15/24



# 149


Do I wish that I always followed my own advice?

Yes…

Am I successful at doing so?

No…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/14/24



# 148


Yes, we have much to teach our children, but we have much to learn from them also…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/13/24



# 147


Instagram isn’t fun, it’s work. Facebook isn’t fun, it’s work. X isn’t fun, it’s work.

Fun is a state of mind. That doesn’t take much work at all…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 02/12/24



# 146


It has been said that cats are not trainable. I can’t confirm or deny that hypothesis; however, I do know that I am trainable. My cat will not take water from his water dish anymore. He insists I lift him onto the counter in the bathroom so he can drink from the faucet. It makes me smile every time we do this dance. I’m quite sure it gives him as much pleasure as it gives me, after all, few humans are trainable.



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