Something, something, perfect enemy of the good.
I'm Arthur. This is my website. I threw together a basic structure using GitHub Pages (because tech geek) to get something off the ground quickly.
I have about a million and one things I'm passionate about that I want to get out of my brain and onto proverbial paper.
Some of it is about me personally and my own history, experiences, and growth. Some of it is observations about the world, social and interpersonal dynamics, philosophy, psychology, and other not-about-me-directly things like TV, product design, and project management. Some content is in style of date-specific blog posts, and some content is captured in "timeless", "living" posts...I haven't written any of the latter yet, but I have created a ton of stubs to give an indication of what I want to write about (and there are a ton more I haven't created stubs for yet, too).
Frankly, a huge motive for me here is to create what amounts to an "Arthur wiki" or "Arthur user's guide". Whether you want to get to know me or you're just interested in my thoughts... Buckle up.
On This Page
- Recently Added Content
- Elevator Pitch
- Random Tidbits
- Interests, Values, and Passions
- Valuable Resources
- Personality and Behavioral Profiles
Recently Added Content
Stubs written in the last 21 days.
Asking People About Themselves
Stubbed on 2020-07-17
Why is it considered "polite" to ask people about themselves? And why do I struggle with that?
Stubbed on 2020-07-15 (last updated on 2020-07-16)
I'm definitely a "control freak", but I have zero interest in controlling others.
I'm a logic-emotions monist, open (almost to a fault), wholehearted, wild, untamed, and disciplined in mind and action. (I wrote a decent stub on Family Arguing that proposes a causality for how I came to be this way.)
I tend to be a generalist and selective specialist, but a huge nerd through and through. I'm a die-hard advocate of induction as the primary mode of human cognition. My superpowers include seeing patterns and untangling nuanced differences. I'm especially good at seeing underlying principles, whether in human behavior or API design, as well as finding general, future-proof solutions to seemingly disparate problems. Check out my Personality and Behavioral Profiles below.
To me, integrity means integrating mind, body, and spirit. It means continuously learning rational (ie, practical) principles, and walking the walk and talking the talk. I embrace consistency and reject compartmentalization. I'm a geek about intellectual pursuits, I'm maniacal about physical fitness (in health, bodybuilding, and diet), and I'm always learning and growing in the areas of mindfulness and empathy (thank you, meditation).
I'm opinionated and curious, willful and flexible, arrogant and aware of my limitations, direct and sensitive/tactful (or, well, I try!). I always have to be right, not necessarily appear right or merely "win" arguments. I worship at the alter of the supreme sanctity of the truth; discovering that I was wrong is a gift that allows me to learn the truth and actually be right. I'm utterly intransigent about certain things (especially more fundamental matters of principle), but really easygoing about a lot of more superficial things. This seems to create a lot of confusion for people, and most people erroneously conclude that I'm just uptight and inflexible.
I love logging things in the spirit of Quantified Self, though it's not an especially social phenomenon for me. Part of my love of it is in bringing order to the chaos of life through data normalization.
What is "The Truth about the Dishwasher"? You'll have to wait until I write about it...
While I buck a lot of social conventions and many of the superficial manifestations of my traits are baffling to a lot of people (believe me, I will write plenty on this), if you really get me, if you really see and understand the core of my being, I am super predictable.
I love children, and I can't wait to be a dad.
I'm the product manager for Alexa Tech Docs for Amazon.
I grew up in Los Angeles, and I live in San Francisco (but maybe not for long).
- I'm a homebody. The chances of my initiating going out to eat, to a bar, or to a club are extremely slim. Dark, loud, and/or crowded? No, thanks. My perfect Friday or Saturday night involves going to bed early.
- I'm a creature of habit; I love my routines and comforts.
- I hate wearing clothes. Specifically, I love being shirtless. It's a manifestation of my extreme vanity. (More on that controversial and triggering topic later!)
- I've been eating strict Paleo (with various modifications and refinements) since 2009. No cheating.
- I'm a compulsive nail-biter and "investigator" of my dermatological phenomena. (These are things I struggle with a lot.)
- I'm a horrible procrastinator. I often struggle to muster up the will to invest effort into tasks that would take 5-15 minutes to complete, so instead, they hang over my head for weeks or months, creating a ton of background stress. I find myself wondering whether this is a function of being extremely susceptible to cognitive inertia and the flip side of why being in a state of flow is such a powerful, productive experience for me. I think this is also related to why it's so important for me to set up daily/weekly routines, especially to handle administrative "adulting" tasks.
- I'm extremely risk-averse, definitely to a fault and in a very anxiety-provoking way. This is a disposition I really need to keep in check.
- As a kid, I hated getting dirty. I didn't like playing in puddles or mud. I loved bathing. It's probably related to my attitudes about hygiene and cleanliness today, including perhaps my tactile aversion to stickiness and dust/chalk, my dislike of slimy foods, and paranoia about STDs. I literally and figuratively colored inside the lines (and still do).
- I'm extremely materialistic in that I attach high sentimental value to things most people would regard as unimportant--so I can't throw anything away. But with the exception of groceries and occasional tech splurges, I'm pretty darned frugal by nature.
- I love the beach and the ocean, and while I don't pursue them often enough, I enjoy all manners of water sports and being on various water crafts.
- I enjoy camping and hiking (after all, I'm an Eagle Scout), but I rarely initiate it, instead enthusiastically participating when others organize trips. (I wonder why that is...and how much of it might be more that I just like to think that I'm the kind of person who likes camping, considering how much I actually really like to stay clean and love my routines and creature comforts.)
- I hate traveling by plane, but I love the phenomenon of flying. I love window seats so that I can be filled with amazement at how we're in a metal can hurtling through the sky at incredible speeds and marvel at what human ingenuity can achieve. But the whole end-to-end process of commercial flying is super stressful, from booking air travel, to packing lightly enough, to getting to airports on time, to TSA security theatre, to numerous travel modality switching (car, walking, flying, walking, car), to sitting in claustrophobia-inducing uncomfortable seats that are not suited for someone who is 6'2". It means that if it's within an hour or two difference (eg, SF to LA), I'd much rather drive, even though driving is also super stressful for me (especially because of paranoia of getting speeding citations).
- Despite enjoying cooking (especially with others), I am not culinarily adventurous. Aside from the influence of my risk aversion and dislike of slimy things / weird textures, I have a lot of psychological hangups about certain food categories (eg, all seafood, the smell and idea of which I have strongly associated with rotting marine life in tide pools). I don't like exploring new foods, and I'm very happy to just eat the same boring thing, day in and day out. (This makes designing and adherence to meal plans for my fitness goals really easy!) See also my post on Paleo.
- Listening to music is a very active process for me (meaning humming or singing along), so it's really hard for me to ever have it on in the background. It also means I don't much care for intentional music discovery (like Pandora). Invite me to the symphony, opera, or ballet if you're prepared to be hitting me every 5 seconds to stop me from signing along.
- I've never been to a music performance that didn't involve sitting in seats, but I do like quite a bit of contemporary music.
- I don't dance. Well, that's not true: I'm very comfortable learning dancing styles that have predefined moves that I might recombine on the fly to music (eg, swing, salsa, tango), and I've taken a few classes here and there. I tend to pick that up pretty well, but I'm not especially skilled. What I don't do is the random move-your-body-to-the-beat kind of dancing that's typical at clubs, weddings, etc. It's not that I'm inhibited in that regard; it's just not me. I feel stupid doing it, even though I don't think anybody else looks stupid doing it, and I know I don't look stupid to anybody else. I wouldn't do it in private, either...that also feels really uncomfortable. I used to be embarrassed about that and wished I could fit in, but nowadays, I'm way more comfortable just not participating, despite everybody else's attempts to talk me into dancing (which I think amounts to an unintentional attempt to shame me into it). Nope. Not me. Thanks!
- I scrupulously avoid reading any news except tech news. I'm blissfully and self-righteously ignorant of current events. I find that most news disproportionately reports on the sensationalistic negative stuff going on around the world, perhaps catering to a sort of schadenfreude. Aside from finding that distasteful on philosophical grounds, I think it misrepresents the proportion of bad and good in the world and skews our perception of how good life is. There is so much good and wonderfulness in the world; I'd rather focus on that. And I'd much rather risk having a disproportionately positive view of the world than negative. Moreover, I have close to 0% control over nearly 100% of the negative stuff reported in "the news", and there's very little I can do differently on the basis of "being informed"; so what's the point? Yes, sure, I can fight for cultural change in the long term, but being informed of broad trends and certain major current events is inescapable, no matter how well I avoid explicitly pursuing "the news"; I don't need to be inundated with negativity to have a motive to live a good life and work to improve the world (if anything, that negativity would sap my energy to do so).
- I'm also fairly ignorant of history (which is actually a shame). If anything, I tend to know more about historical trends and periods than the "who's who" of history.
- I know very little about pop culture or spectator sports, neither of which I have much patience for. The most I might know is a little about actors in my favorite shows/movies and sports I've actually played.
- My favorite movie is The Time Traveler's Wife.
- 1 out of 10 Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes makes me cry. My favorites are Who Watches the Watchers and The Offspring. I'll let you make your own inferences about how much I cry during other TV shows and movies.
- My favorite fiction book is Atlas Shrugged. The His Dark Materials trilogy is a close second because fuck authority.
- I have a lot of favorites. I like things how I like them. It's probably a manifestation of how much I care about things in general.
- I ran a philosophy club at UCLA called LOGIC for about 7 years between 2004 and 2011. I took it extremely seriously and organized it as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. We put on some very high-profile and well-attended events.
- Some of my closest friends are from middle school.
- The most consistent and frequent trigger of my anger is bad UX on mobile apps and websites.
- Swords and knives violently cutting flesh in TV and movies? No problem. Needles and scalpels? Slow torture involving mutilation? I often can't look, and when I do, I'm at extreme risk of passing out. Getting my blood drawn can easily trigger a vasovagal response, but I have no problem making myself bleed using sharp tweezers on my own skin to "address" dermatological phenomena.
- I dropped out of high school. (Okay...I say that for dramatic effect. I tested out after 10th grade because I ran out of AP math and science classes...kind of.)
- Technically, Russian is my first language, and my parents forced me to go to Russian School on Saturdays for 11 years (maybe here?)...unsurprisingly, with my willful personality, I didn't get much out of it. I took French in high school and college. I took one quarter of Italian at UCLA.
- I studied piano pretty seriously between the ages of 7 and 18 (now I just dabble), I played flute in grades 6 and 7, and I was in choir in grades 7 through 10.
- I'm an Eagle Scout.
- I graduated from law school and even passed the CA Bar Exam.
- Brené Brown "speed round" / "rapid fire" from Unlocking Us:
- Vulnerability is
honesty to yourself.
- You're called to do something brave, but your fear is real. What's the very first thing you do?
- Something that people often get wrong about you is
that I like arguing, just because I'm willing to defend my beliefs.
- Last show that you watched, binged, and loved:
as of April 2020, The Magicians
- Favorite movie:
The Time Traveler's Wife
- A concert that you'll never forget:
While at university, I got access to discounted student tickets to the LA Opera to see Mozart's The Magic Flute. We got seats 4 rows from the stage, and my friends had to keep hitting me to stop singing along, since I had been listening to all the songs on repeat for a week leading up to it.
- Favorite meal:
ribeye steak, with a side of french fries cooked in beef tallow, a gigantic salad, and a glass of Malbec
- What's on your nightstand right now?
on 2020-04-26: Phillip Pullman's Once Upon a Time in the North, my mala beads, my (non-military) dogtags, a few Pixel phones, an empty glass (for water), and a some folded clothes
- A snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you joy:
snuggling with Billy
- What are you deeply grateful for right now?
my friends who truly see and understand me
- Vulnerability is
- If I were Maeve from Westworld, able to modify my "Attribute Matrix" on a tablet, here's what I would select (on a scale of 0-20):
- bulk apperception: 20
- candor: 20
- vivacity: 20
- coordination: 20
- meekness: 0
- humility: 0
- cruelty: 0
- self-preservation: 20
- patience: 10
Not really sure about this one... In some manifestations, impatience is a really good thing, insofar as it prompts doing something about an unacceptable situation, reflecting intense value commitments. In other manifestations, patience amounts to resilience and skill in being able to deal with a situation more coolly, calmly, rationally, and soberly.
- decisiveness: 20
- imagination: 20
- curiosity: 20
- aggression: 20
- loyalty: 20
This is provisional, since it depends on what you mean by "loyalty": loyalty to facts? loyalty to a person? being truly supportive by being willing to challenge a person and act in accordance with their long-term interests, even if unpleasant or uncomfortable in the immediate term? superficial agreement with / enablement of anything they say or do?
- empathy: 20
- tenacity: 20
- courage: 20
- sensuality: 20
- charm: 20
- humor: 20
Interests, Values, and Passions
- bodybuilding and physical fitness
- meditation, mindfulness, wholeheartedness, vulnerability, and empathy
- tech geekery
- philosophy (especially ethics and epistemology, especially Objectivism)
- parenting theory (cannot wait to put this into practice)
- Krav Maga (at Krav Maga San Francisco)
- Star Trek
- current obsession: BWV 999 (JS Bach Prelude in c minor)
- cooking (haven't done anything creative in a while, though)
- good UX (yes, on websites and apps, but really, in the world generally!)
- management theory
- learning Hebrew (kind of fell off the wagon on that, honestly)
- soccer (AYSO)
- tennis (throughout childhood and Palisades High School Boys Tennis 1999-2000)
- swimming (Santa Monica College Men's Swimming & Diving 2001-2002)
- rowing (UCLA Men's Rowing 2003-2005)
- triathlon (UCLA Triathlon Team 2005-2007)
- touch rugby (Stanford Touch Rugby 2011-2013)
- ultimate frisbee (Big Gay Frisbee - SF 2013-2016)
These are ideas and approaches to various areas of life that I have derived great value from...with some indication of my own viewpoints sprinkled in.
- Renaissance Periodization
- Carolyn Hart Manual Therapy (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
- Jeffrey Lem Optometry (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
- Scott McKinzie Family Dentistry (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
- Washington Square Park Dental (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
Psychological and Emotional Well-Being
- Mařenka Cerny Somatic Psychotherapy (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
- Brené Brown: website, Audible, Kindle
Her work covers many interconnected topics, including connection, compassion and empathy, vulnerability, courage, shame, perfectionism, belonging (versus "fitting in"), worthiness, authenticity ("being the wilderness"), and mind-emotion integration.
Take a peek at the resources below that are available for free (such as on YouTube) or take a look at "Which Book Do I Read First?".
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Audible, Kindle
- Daring Greatly: Audible, Kindle
- Rising Strong: Audible, Kindle
- Braving the Wilderness: Audible, Kindle
- I Thought It was Just Me (but it isn't): Audible, Kindle
- Dare to Lead: Audible, Kindle
- Listening to shame (talk): YouTube: TED
- The Power of Vulnerability (talk): Audible, YouTube: TED
- The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting (talk): Audible
- Men, Women and Worthiness (talk): Audible
- Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice (talk): Audible
- The Call to Courage (talk): Netflix
- Brené Brown on Empathy (short): YouTube: The RSA
- Brené Brown on Blame (short): YouTube: The RSA
- Unlocking Us (podcast): Website, Spotify
- Attachment Theory
- Lundy Bancroft: The Joyous Recovery: Kindle
- Marc Brackett: Permission To Feel: Audible, Kindle, website
- Bessel Van der Kolk: The Body Keeps the Score: Audible, Kindle
- Deb Dana: The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Audible, Kindle
- Marshall Rosenberg: Nonviolent Communication: Audible, Kindle eTextbook
- revelatori (Tori Press)
- Authentic Relating and Circling
Parenting and Education
A parent's job is to be a guide in a child's development into an adult. A parent is a model, not an authority figure. A child must learn, not obey. A parent should not try to tame their child or desire obedience, but to help the child cultivate the skills of agency, self-determination, self-regulation, independent judgment, internal motivation, and efficacy. "Punishment", ranging from grounding to stonewalling to physical striking are not effective tools; they teach a child that these are normal modes of interaction between human beings and handicap their future adult relationships. Punishment and "consequences" create power struggles and undermine the possibility of finding win-win solutions. While I wouldn't say it's always wrong to characterize a child as "misbehaving", the more useful framing is to understand that the child is attempting to achieve a value, perhaps ineffectively, and that it's the parent's job to help the child learn more effective ways of achieving values. Regardless, approaching a child with anger or phrases such as "You're bad." and "You're being bad." (which a child is likely to internalize as a matter of basic identity) are disastrous.
- Positive Discipline
- Brené Brown: The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting
This is, hands-down, the most important innovation in math education in history, and I don't say that lightly. Grant Sanderson's approach to grounding math in graphical intuition and connecting it to reality has the ability to inspire curiosity and passion and prevent kids from checking out of math because of how it's so often taught as merely abstract symbol manipulation.
Management: Manager Tools
- Mark Horstman: The Effective Manager: Audible, Kindle
This is on my to-read/listen list!
"Why does philosophy matter?"— Existential Comics (@existentialcoms) August 5, 2015
"I don't know, why does science matter?"
"Well because scie-"
"Annnnnnnd you are doing philosophy."
Philosophy: Who Needs It
Your subconscious is like a computer--more complex a computer than men can build--and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance--and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions--which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. If you programmed your computer by conscious thinking, you know the nature of your values and emotions. If you didn't, you don't.
Okay, so I feel like I need to offer a fair bit of clarification on this, since I think terms like "selfishness" and "capitalism" can be readily polarizing and misunderstood, given widespread (mis)use in our culture. I'll do more of that clarification in a post at some point. For now, here's a summary of my viewpoints, which I credit to Objectivism and Ayn Rand.
- metaphysics: absolute reality
Facts are what they are. Our mere fact of believing or wishing does not change them.
- epistemology: knowledge through induction
Concepts are inductive generalizations of observations of concrete entities given in perception, as well as of other concepts. Bona fide knowledge and certainty is always contextual; new discoveries and understanding does not inherently overturn previous knowledge, but in a proper progression, builds on and expands it.
- ethics: egoism
The moral purpose of my life is my own happiness, prosperity, and joy, not the mere satisfaction of momentary hedonistic whims or pleasures. Sterilely, the purpose of my relationships with other people is to serve my own well-being, but I experience others as a tremendous potential or actual value to my life, and therefore, emotionally, as ends in themselves. I seek out win-win relationships. I believe people's true interests are harmonious, so there are no win-lose relationships; anything purported to be a win-lose relationship is really a lose-lose relationship. I reject the glorification of sacrifice and suffering. More concretely, the egoistic virtues I embrace are rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride.
- Tara Smith: Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist: Kindle
- politics: (laissez-faire) capitalism
The concept of "individual rights" identifies the factual requirements of human flourishing in a social context; the concept identifies the actions that are permissible and prohibited in a society if we want to create the conditions that enable prosperity. Negatively put, the initiation of physical force (including fraud) and its threat are prohibited. Positively put, people may act on their own independent judgment with respect to their own person and property, provided they do not interfere with others' ability to do the same. This amounts to freedom and what it means to live in a free society (we are not very close to that at present).
- aesthetics: romantic realism
The purpose of art is to provide spiritual fuel and to directly evoke emotions in a way that may bypass explicit conceptual awareness.
Personality and Behavioral Profiles
as of 2015
- identify with strongly: *N*J
abstract, conceptual thinking is my strongest trait
- identify with weakly: *N*P
mostly a "control freak", but I can be comfortable going with the flow
- don't identify with at all: *S**
See Manager Tools Podcasts and summary PDF.
I'm very thing-/fact-/task-/idea-oriented:
- high Dominance: like to be in charge and take control of situations
- high Conscientiousness: love my rules and structures and processes
- Guilt & Shame Quiz
2020-04-04 17:15 PDT
- Guilt Self-Talk: ~91% (raw score of 51 out of 55)
- Shame Self-Talk: ~28% (raw score of 23 out of 55)
- Blaming Others: ~10% (raw score of 15 out of 55)
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman: Kindle, website
- How I prefer to receive love:
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
- Words of Affirmation
- Receiving Gifts
- How I naturally show love:
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- [Giving] Gifts
- Personal Development School
- 0% Fearful Avoidant
- 30% Anxious Preoccupied
- Fear of abandonment
for me, not "fear", but discomfort
- Dislike being alone or out of relationships for prolonged periods of time
not true for me
- Fear of loss or disconnection in relationship
- Can appear clingy or needy
"appear" being the operative word...
- Emotional hunger to get consistently closer in a relationship
- Often want to move very quickly to a commitment in a relationship
I don't know about "want", but I certainly do...I find it very easy to be "all in" relatively quickly and by default, which seems more a manifestation of my secure traits.
- Very sensitive to rejection
yup, but only when I have a reasonable expectation of attention/interest and from someone I care about
- Develop strong feelings quite easily
understatement of the millenium
- Fear of abandonment
- 0% Dismissive Avoidant
- 70% Secure
- A natural tendency towards feeling safe to express your feelings and needs
- Openness towards communication and belief that conflicts are solvable problems
- Strong ability to regulate your emotions
- Empathy towards others
- Natural balanced with boundary setting
- Feel safe to express your truth
- Strong sense of self-identity
- Truity Free Enneagram Personality Test
2020-04-28 10:10 PDT
- 98% The Individualist (type 4)
Fours want to be unique and to live life authentically, and are highly attuned to their emotional experience.
- 96% The Challenger (type 8)
Eights see themselves as strong and powerful and seek to stand up for what they believe in.
- 89% The Perfectionist (type 1)
Ones place a lot of emphasis on following the rules and doing things correctly.
- 86% The Giver (type 2)
Twos want to be liked and find ways that they can be helpful to others so that they can be loved and belong.
- 82% The Achiever (type 3)
Threes want to be successful and admired by other people, and are very conscious of their public image.
- 80% The Investigator (type 5)
Fives seek understanding and knowledge, and are more comfortable with data than people.
- 68% The Skeptic (type 6)
Sixes are preoccupied with security, seek safety, and like to be prepared for problems.
- 52% The Enthusiast (type 7)
Sevens want to have as much fun and adventure as possible and are easily bored.
- 46% The Peacemaker (type 9)
Nines like to keep a low profile and let the people around them set the agenda.
- 98% The Individualist (type 4)
as of 2013-01-02
People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.
People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
|1984||West Hollywood, CA|
|1987||Sister Jacqueline is born|
|1988||St Thomas the Apostle Preschool|
|Temple Israel Kindergarden|
|1990||Brother Andrew is born|
|Brentwood Science Magnet
|Walter Reed Middle School||Self-employed Tech Consulting|
|Palisades High School|
|1999||Sister Elizabeth is born|
|Santa Monica College|
|2001||Duckett-Wilson Development Company|
Rieber 5 South
Math of Computation BSc
Hedrick 7 North
|Mar Vista, CA||"Wyatt" (protecting his privacy)|
|2005||Parents get divorced|
|UCLA School of Law|
|2006||Acquire step-family (Masha, Emily, Michael)|
|Westwood, CA||Ayn Rand Institute|
|Santa Monica, CA|
|Mountain View, CA||CDNetworks|
|San Francisco, CA|
|Daly City, CA|
Alexa Core Services
|San Francisco, CA|
Alexa Tech Docs