The 1:1:1 Challenge

Starting Monday, March 6, 2017, I am embarking on the 1:1:1 Challenge. No, this isn't the Catholic 1-1-1 Challenge, although their challenge is pretty cool. The 1:1:1 Challenge is one that I created on my own to pursue my interests and to do the work necessary to build the expertise I want to have. According to my challenge, every week, I will complete the following:

  • one video game
  • one book
  • one craft

The challenge does come with a few rules and caveats:

  1. Completing a video game means reaching the credits and/or end screen. It is up to my discretion whether or not to 100 percent a game.
  2. Completing a book means reading a book from start to finish
  3. Completing a craft means creating something from scratch into a final, new product or form
  4. I am allowed to repeat video games, books and crafts. It doesn't have to be "new" to me to count toward the challenge.
  5. If a game video game will take longer than a week to complete (I do still need to eat, sleep and work), then the challenge can be extended to two weeks for the completion of that game only.
  6. A "craft" is defined as "an activity involving skill in making things." Crafts include, but aren't limited to, paintings, mixed media art, jewelry, blog posts, papercraft, textiles, text-based video games.

Why Video Games, Books and Crafts?

Video games and books are chosen primarily to build my repertoire. My vision is to be an expert in post-escapism, which is the field of understanding "games by placing them in social, political and cultural context. It finds value in what game says about the world around it." Post-escapism combines my love of gaming with my interests in activism, human rights, public police and the like. Playing video games will build my repertoire of games to analyze and place into context. Books will build my repertoire and understanding of past and present social, political and cultural contexts.

Crafts are the synthesis of the first two, since there's little point of building repertoires if the actual analysis is never completed. It's the chance to connect what I've learned, played and read so far. Although I am a writer by trade, writing isn't the only way to practice post-escapism, which is why I defined it to include so many different mediums. Craft is also defined as a trade or a handicraft, and I liked the idea of creating crafts while also working on honing my craft.

Why Do This Challenge at All?

I am embarking on this challenge and creating it for myself as a matter of discipline. I feel I need to double down on my strengths and interests and this challenge is a great way to do that while also pushing myself to execute and to create, whether that's through writing or painting or a household good or what. It's good to play video games and to read books and to think about their contexts, but that alone isn't going to make me a post-escapism expert or build my credibility as said expert.

Also, now that I have the language of post-escapism, I'm excited to explore it and perhaps define its study and some its major theories. It's a rather new field within video games analysis, culture and "new games journalism." I think it'll be really cool to be a part of this evolution within video games. I need a way to get started and embarking on a challenge is the perfect way to get started!

When Does the Challenge End?

Hopefully, the challenge never ends. There will always be new video games and new books to discover. The political, social and cultural contexts in which these media exist will always be changing. The artistry and creativity needed to create great crafts are boundless. Ideally, I could do the challenge forever and tweak it so it includes more types of media. Eventually, I could make it harder by increasing the quantity per week or decreasing the amount of time to take on all three items.

What video games, books and crafts are you doing first?

The video games I am tackling first are Democracy 3, Shovel Knight, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Hand of Fate and Cook, Serve, Delicious. All of these games are titles I've already started, so they are first on my list so I can finish them. GTA Vice City may take me longer than a week to finish, but I think I can do it. I'm about halfway through the game if I remember correctly. I do have a full list of video games I plan to tackle, which is ever-changing as I complete games and own more titles and consoles.

I also have a list of books I plan to read. The first eight books on the list are the first eight I will read because I either own those books or I have them in my possession from the library at the moment. After those eight books, I will read books in any order based on availability and/or interest at the time. Like the video games list, the books list is also ever-changing as own more books or discover new titles that'll provide great information.

As for crafts, I do have projects I need to finish as well before starting on anything new. I do have signs and coasters I need to make since I already have the materials to do those. I also need to make a present for a wedding reception coming up later this year, and have just the canvas for that present. Besides those, there will be plenty of ideas for blog posts, ZEEF lists and other artistic endeavors.

My To-Learn List

my to-learn list That booked I picked up from the library, Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever Will, is turning out to have a lot more value than I originally thought. Although I already have a college degree, the book is full of neat idea on how to keep learning and growing, which is something that can be done whether or not you have completed higher education. Today's neat idea is coming up with a list of things you want to learn, and then getting starting on learning one of those things. I like this because there's always things we want to learn, especially since those things we want to learn aren't the same things that are taught in schools.

So, below is my list of things I want to learn how to do or to learn more about. At the end of it, I'll pick one and start learning more, whether that's by reading a book, or talking to someone, or trying a few things out on my own. The point is to come up with something that can be a self-directed project of learning and building skills.

What I Want to Learn

  • Russian (again)
  • How to Make My Own Soap (dish soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, hand soap etc.)
  • To Play the Clarinet (again)
  • American History
  • World History
  • How to Register Non-Profit
  • How to Cook Vegan Food
  • How to Brew Espresso
  • Some type of aerobics, such as zumba, yoga etc.

Be More Specific...

  • Learn to have a conversation in Russian
  • Learn how to make your own laundry detergent
  • Learn how to use an espresso machine and make a delicious latte
  • Learn how to register a non-profit in Missouri
  • Learn to play a song on the clarinet
  • Learn how to do a few basic poses in yoga
  • Learn enough U.S history to ace the history part of this eighth grade exam
  • Learn African history post-European emancipation

My Choice for What I Want to Spend My Time Learning

Of all those wonderful things I can learn, the one I'm going to choose to work is the U.S history one. I remember reading the article about that test a few months ago, and I was a little embarrassed that I found it so tough. The spelling section is easy, but physiology is crazy and grammar isn't all that easy either. I'm going to get started on this by borrowing a U.S history book the next time I go the library, and then reading up on the specific topics covered in the test. It's kind of nice I don't need to study anything beyond 1912. In a future post, I'll talk about what I've learned (besides the answers to the questions, of course). In the meantime, there are a few things about our nation's history that I need to learn, and that many of us probably need to learn as well.

Setting My September Goals

setting goals I know it's a bit late to do this, but better late than never. Part of what it means to be awesome is to set goals, to create action plans to meet those goals, and then actually meet those goals. I'm going to set myself for awesomeness for the rest of the month, and eventually the year, by setting a few goals for the latter half of the month. These aren't the most ambitious goals in the world, but I also need goals that I can meet in two week's time.

Finish My DMV Appointment Articles

I have 52 articles left of the 102 articles that I need to complete. I want to get this done by the end of the month so I can invoice my client for the next set of articles. This set is taking longer than expected since I don't have the hired help to get them done. The articles aren't hard, just a little tedious since there's a fair amount of research and fact-checking that needs to go into each article. I'm putting it here as my top goal, and telling the world that this is what I'm going to do, so that I stop putting off these articles and start getting them done.

Finish Harrington on Hold 'Em

I haven't touched this book much since I last wrote about reading this. I'm stuck in the chapter on starting hand ranges, and my plan was to make a set of charts that I can refer to as I am playing poker. I've only made one chart, and I actually made it wrong, and ever since then I haven't touched the books or the charts. I really ought to get back to the book, since I think these charts and memorizing these starting hand ranges would improve my game and better ensure that I put myself in a good position when I decide to play a hand.

On a side note, I have already finished one book on my list of books to read this fall (I could have added a few more to this list, actually). Working on my second!

Have $100 in My Poker Bankroll

I am so close to meeting this goal! I currently have $91 and change, and if I reach $100, then I will have broken even with my original deposit. It's only up from there, as once I reach the $100 I can move up a buy-in level. Then, I can work my way up to doubling my money. Completing my second goal on this list will increase my chances of making this goal.

Answer 5 Questions for International Political Forum

So far, I've only answered one question about the Prime Minister and the Syrian conflict, with research started to answer questions about changes to the food stamp program and the welfare system. I need to get those up before they become outdated. This goal is doable, since I'm already 20% there, with two more questions in the works. I'm going to make it a mini goal to get both of those questions up this weekend. This would put me 60% toward my goal, making the other 20% that much easier to do in two week's time.

5 Books I Will Read This Fall

books to read this fallSo, summer is officially over (in the sense that school starts or has started. I understand it still feels like summer out there in some places.) As for my summer reading list, I read 4.5 out of the five books (I've read much more than 4.5, but not all of them were on the list). I'm in the middle of Harrington on Hold 'Em, and it's a great book that has augmented my poker game plenty so far. I've come to a point in the book that I need to read over a couple of times, as there are lots of good information there that I need to soak in so I can incorporate into my game. Since I will eventually finish that book (I've seriously committed to improving my poker skill and making some quality dough from it), I'm not going to put it on my fall reading list. The reading list is for myself, as it's supposed to be for fun and for personal development. Here are the five books I will read this fall, with fall ending on December 1st right after the Thanksgiving holiday (Thanksgiving is totally fall).

Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America

I've started this book, and it was something that piqued my interest since I read The New Jim Crow. Institutionalized racism, and the idea of race in general, is very intriguing to me since it's treated so differently in Hawaii and the state doesn't have the same racial history and experience as the rest of the United States. I like it so far, and I particularly like how the author covers racism since the early years of the United States. I'm curious to see if, and how, he tackles the drug war and how much he covers of the current climate.

Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America

I'm really excited to read this once, since I work in media and am incredibly curious about money, politics, and how these things affect the media. I feel like I'm going to be blown away by what's in this book because I'm somewhat aware of the problem and what's going on, but I think that what I know is just the tip of the iceberg. I want to know what this book has to say.

Collision 2012: Obama Vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America

This book tells the story of the 2012 presidential election. I understand that I was there, and am very aware of what happened, but the 2012 election was an eventful 18, 24 months. There were lots of, noteworthy people saying lots of, well, noteworthy things. I don't mind reliving it again, especially since this book offers insight and perspective that I wouldn't have experienced when everything was taking place.

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield

This one is our current book club reading for our Amnesty International chapter. I've started it, but it's a beast of a book (over 500 pages), and I would like to finish it before our October meeting. It's essentially about America's covert wars, drone strikes, and the U.S foreign policy of "the world is a battlefield." Once I'm able to borrow it again from the library, I'll make it a point to read it.

Act of Congress: How America's Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn't

I started this one on a random day at the library. I need to kill some time before and event, and it was hot out, so sitting in the library and picking a book to read seemed like a good idea. This was the book I found. I read the introduction and I want to read the rest. It's about Congress' response to the financial crisis, particularly the whole story behind getting the Dodd-Frank Act passed. From what I understand, this bill was stripped of much of its teeth that even though it passed, it really doesn't do anything to regulate any industries or to change any of the things that led to the crash in 2008 in the first place.

Curse You Taquitos!

taquitos Part of my eating healthier, SuperBetter, goals is to avoid the amazing taquitos from El Monterey. It's so hard to abstain! They're really delicious, and it doesn't help that there are two whole boxes in my freezer right now. This is one of my bad guys that I need to fight and to defeat, and today I was the one who was defeated. This one is going to be tough; at least until all the taquitos are gone. Then, it will be easy because all I'll have to do is to stop buying them.

I Have Books to Help Me

Books, books, books! I do have several books that can help me eat better and to do a better job of planning my meals so I don't resort to eating out or microwaving something. One of those books is The China Study Cookbook: Over 120 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes (if you're all about books with pictures and short paragraphs, then cookbooks are your style. I don't really have anything to compare this too, but I think this book has a lot of short and easy recipes, with rather easy ingredients to obtain. It also looks like I could easily make meals for one or two people. I have another plant-based diet cookbook, called The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan That Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds. I do like that it's a 28-day plan, but it's also written by a male firefighter, where one serving for him is really enough to fee four people. I made a lasagna out of this book, which was really good, but was gigantic when I was finished. The recipe said this fed four people, but it looked more like 10 to me. It provided my fiance and I, like, six meals between us and I couldn't even use all the ingredients because they didn't even all fit in the lasagna pan.

Plant-Based Diets

One of the toughest parts of the plant-based diets is getting all the ingredients and having affordable access to some of these foods. The China Study cookbook seems a little bit more helpful in where to get certain ingredients and also uses ingredients that are more accessible. For example, as part of the first week of the Engine 2 diet, you need to have Bragg Liquid Aminos and agave nectar. I don't know what those things are and what they look like, let alone where to get them. The China Study doesn't have anything as unusual. It's also not as strict as the Engine 2 diet, although the China Study doesn't advocate for too much of a diet except whole, plant-based foods.

Another book that I have to help me is the Full-Plate Diet, which isn't at all about having a plant-based diet. It's simply the idea of adding more fiber-rich foods (which are essentially fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds). It's called a full plate diet because it encourages you to eat your fill, but to switch out foods that low in fiber with those that are higher in fiber, or even just adding the fiber-rich foods to what you're already eating. Since the foods that are higher in fiber also tend to be those with lower calorie counts, you can easily lose weight without having to restrict yourself or to go hungry. So, instead of not having any ice cream, with this diet you can have the ice cream. It simply suggest to maybe add bananas and/or blueberries to your ice cream. Not a bad trade off. On top of that, this book is very informative about these fiber-rich foods and also offers a lot of tips on how to "power up" your meals and how to switch your foods. I like that it's so helpful.

Well, my poker tournament has started, so I'm going to do that now.

Progress on My Summer Reading List

summer reading booksI previously committed to reading five books this summer. Not just any five books, but five specific books, although I would like to read more than five books this summer. As of today, I have read two of those five books already: The Business of Baby and the Road to Lost Innocence. I've already made it clear how I feel about The Business of Baby and the status of maternal health in this country.

Road to Lost Innocence

I enjoyed Road to Lost Innocence, as it provided additional details about the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia and how the industry has changed since Somaly was a prostitute. What struck me the most is the lifelong psychological consequences these girls have, as even women like Somaly don't come out completely unscathed. In the book, she says the smells give her nightmares and haunt her the most. She readily admits that the smells are probably in her head at this point, but that doesn't stop her from using perfumes and air fresheners to do what she can to block them. Even though I already has a strong understanding of Somaly's story and of the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia and other developing countries, I do enjoy reading more books about this topics (and other topics that I am already familiar with) because I think that each book adds additional details and an additional perspective. From this book, I learned more about the men who frequent the brothels, how the foreigners perpetuate the trade (and how they helped Somaly) and some of the attitudes that Somaly is up against in her country.

I Finished "The Defining Decade"

Even though it wasn't on my summer reading list, I borrowed The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter- and How to Make the Most of Them Now yesterday since the main idea behind this blog is building identity capital. The idea came from this book, so I had to read it. I ended up finishing it yesterday as well, as I found it to be an engaging and phenomenal read, something that all twentysomethings should read. Although I do think the first half of my 20s have been well spent building identity capital, as I am heavily involved in activism and have spent much of that time building a business and learning all sorts of skills, I like how the book is much more than maximizing your professional life. It's also about thinking about marriage before you have one, making wise decisions about your relationships and what you want out of a life partner. It's simply about not treating your 20s as simply a time to have fun, to have no responsibilities, and to do what you want until 30. Starting a family, a marriage, and a career all at once is difficult, especially if you didn't spend your 20s thinking about those things and taking steps in the right direction.

What am I Reading Now?

Currently, I'm tackling Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government. I've only gotten through the introduction, so I can't say too much about it. It seems interesting so far, and I do hope that the book offers a few concrete ways to use the Internet and social media to participate in government and to improve civic engagement. It would be helpful for my activism work, since part of that work is finding support for legislation or lobbying politicians to do this or that.

I did find out something interesting when I watched a documentary on Netflix the other night (it might have been We're Not Broke, but I'm not sure). One of the things the documentary said is that the politicians and the staffers actually don't write the bills, even though that's what the Schoolhouse Rock video says. Bill writing is something that's outsourced to the lobbyists, who can then come back with the exact legislation we want. It got me thinking that with activism and with non-profits, it might be a good idea if we take the time to write the bills, and then when we lobby, we just drop off a bill instead of just saying, "We are concerned about X, Y, and Z." We would have done most of the hard work, and it could be much more powerful if a lot of people lobby at the same time and drop off the same bill to numerous politicians.

5 Books I Will Read This Summer

books I will read this summer I've been putting books on hold at my local library for a few weeks now. With some of them, I still have a to wait awhile because of the long waiting list. For others, I was first on the list, so I was surprised that I hadn't yet received any email or notifications that my books were ready to be picked up. I decided to go to the library today because I had the time and that I would easily find something to read as I waited for my books. Lo and behold, two of my books that I placed a hold on were ready for me. So much for that notification system.

Because I now have a few books for me to read (well, I already had a ton of books because I have lots on my Kindle and a lot on my bookshelf, but they aren't as much fun as library books), I'm going to continue building identity capital by reading good books. No, "Game of Thrones" or "Twilight" aren't on this list. I really don't see those books building the kind of identity capital that I want. Besides, I prefer non-fiction books anyway, so here are the five books that I will read this summer. This is a declaration, and I will totally read these books this summer.

As an FYI, summer is defined as "now until the day after Labor Day," as this is typically when school starts.

The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don't Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line

I just started this book today, and I am so glad a book like this exists. Maternal health is a topic I'm particularly interested in, since its especially so abysmal in the U.S. Many people don't realize how horrible our maternal healthcare structure really is. I started it today and I'm already learning things. For example, I had no idea there was such a thing as prenatal vitamins, and that they aren't necessarily good for maternal health. This is a book that every mother, or potential mother, or expecting mother, should read. Get it here.

The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine

This is next on my list because I've read the book, and watched the documentary, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide." Somaly Mam, whom this book is about, is absolutely amazing and she is featured in the documentary (if you haven't read or watched the documentary, then you need to do both right away. Both are phenomenal.) She rescues girls from sex slavery in Cambodia, and actually goes to the brothels to get them. She got out of sex slavery herself, too. In the documentary, she refers to her works as, "trying her best and doing what she can." Well, then I don't think any of us are trying hard enough if "rescuing girls from sex slavery is" Somaly trying her best.

Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor

I want to read this one, but it looks really long and really academic. However, I've taken a look at it and it turns out that one-third of the book is actually footnotes and acknowledgements and what not, so it's not as long as it looks. I also hope that it's not boring because the concept of how health, human rights, and poverty work together is an intriguing one. Plus, Paul Farmer is the author, who has done amazing public health work in Haiti.

Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government

I don't know much about this book. I thought it looked interesting because I am curious to learn perspectives and ideas about how to bring government and democracy into the 21st century. The author, Gavin Newsom, is the current lieutenant governor of California. Seems like an easy enough read, and it also seems like the book isn't just Newsom's perspectives, but a collection of perspectives and anecdotes.

Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play

I have to throw in a poker book here and improve my game! It's been a while since I actually invested time in studying poker and working on my game, and this book I actually have in PDF form right on my desktop. Besides playing more poker, I need to continue reading so that I can build my bankroll and eventually hit my bucket list goal of winning a bracelet and hitting certain milestones with my winnings. I have to learn from those who came before me and have already accomplished such awesome feats.

The 801 Books that I am Reading

Half the SkyOkay, it's not quite 801, but it certainly feels that way because I am trying to read more than one book at this time and reading more than one book at a time is very difficult. I accomplished once when I was 16, but all three books were fiction and I could blast through them fairly quickly. Considering that the books that I am reading now are all non-fiction, it's not quite the blast through that I would like. I also don't have the time that I used to have when I was 16 (who does, right?). Anyway, here's a list of those many books that I am reading. Maybe writing about them will get me a bit more excited about reading them.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

I actually read this book a few years ago, but I need to read it again for my Amnesty International chapter's book club reading. It's a powerful book about women's rights and what can be done to improve the position of women in societies around the world. You read this book, and your first world problems seem trivial and that you shouldn't even be complaining in the first place. I am excited to read it again.

Yes, the book now has two accompanying documentaries, and I've seen those too. They aren't a replacement for reading the book, but a nice supplement since they cover the same topics but do not discuss the same, exact stories.

How to Beat Sit-&-Go Poker Tournaments: A No-Limit Hold'em Guide to Beating Sit-&-Gos

Almost done with this one! It's an easy read, and I have learned a thing or two about playing SnGs. However, the book is a bit elementary, and I want to move on to poker books that have recommended and recommended over and over, poker books that folks have said have changed and have really improved how they played. Although this book I'm ready has helped, it's not in that category.

Of course, once I finish this book I have to move on to numerous other poker books, those highly recommended poker books I mentioned. They include (but aren't limited to):

Food, Inc.: How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer - and What You Can do About It

This book a companion to the documentary by the same name (which is really, really good, by the way). I've gotten interested in food recently since I went vegan about six weeks ago (I think I've lost about 10 pounds, just by eating differently). So far, I've watched other documentaries and have read vegan cookbooks and what not about what foods to eat and why they are better and what's going on with the food sold in restaurants and supermarkets. I want to read this book, and to watch the documentary again, to continue educating myself about food and the food industry/

More on the Way

Yes, I am adding even more to this list. My business coach wants me to get started on reading the two content marketing books I said I would read by the end of March. I've chosen my two, and once they are available at the public library, and I need to get on reading those. I tend to get though books on topics like the media and marketing really quickly, since I am very interested in the topic and I find these topics the most relevant to me.

Okay, I need to get to my reading.