Reading books and killing time

Waiting for the MRI scan of my knee, I have a lot of time to read.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – by Daniel Kahneman. This is a book about behavioural economics which is the field of economy which tries to explain why people make stupid decisions. This is something I am very interested in.The book offers some surprising insights in the irrational way our brains work and I would highly recommend reading it to anyone. While reading the book I tried to relate it to my personal life and experiences.

hostel entrcance

The entrance of my hostel

It was in this course that I found out that my life hack of making money in the West and spending it in developing countries (Portugal, sic), has a sound scientific basis as the following quote from the book illustrates: Brain scan studies suggest that making purchases at very low prices is a pleasurable experience.  A major scientific breakthrough made possible with expensive MRI technology. It seems suitable here to point out that MRI scans are not only used for silly knee injuries, but also for the advancement of science.

The book mentions furthermore an interesting thought experiment concerning holidays: Imagine that at the end of your holiday, all your photos and all video material will be destroyed. Besides, you will get a magic potion that will erase all memory of your holiday. The question is: How will this affect your holiday? How much do you want to pay for it? Do you still want to climb that mountain or walk through that jungle?
Personally, I think not. I would lay on the beach and drink cocktails. It has long been my philosophy that travelling is all about collecting stories.

Another book I am reading is The Alchemist of Paulo Coelho, in a French translation.
I am doing quite well, allthough the French verb conjugations are giving me headaches. The book is very inspiring and it taught me a lot about sheep. It’s also full of blatant lies and ill advice…
I’ll give an example. In English, because the diacritics in French writing are driving me crazy:
It says somewhere in the text:  And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
This is not true. It sounds nice. It sounds inpiring. But it is not true.
Afnother example: There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
Not true. Think only of a mountaineer whose dream it is to climb a moutain. He tries to summit it, but in doing so, he stumbles and falls to his death.
No fear, but death nonetheless.


The hostel in Faro

The hostel I am staying in was built by the owner of a tuna factory. It was originally a country house as Faro was much smaller back then. The mansion was divided in four apartements for the four brothers of the family. But these days the tuna factories are long gone and the house has become a place where travellers can rest their weary heads.

Other tidbits.

Facebook makes people unhappy according to a study of the University of Missouri. Professor Margaret Duffy found that heavy Facebook use (a survey under students who used Facebook on average two hours a day!)  can lead to feelings of depression etc… Regrettably, Professor Duffy did not research the feelings of happiness of people regularly visiting my blog, which, I feel, would be far more stimulating for most people and which is, moreover, very unlikely to raise any feelings of jealousy.

Portuguese food constitutes an Intangible Cultural Heritage according to UNESCO. Together with the cuisines of countries like Italy, Spain and Greece, it is listed as Mediterranean Diet, which propagates the question if Portugal is a Mediterranean country. A dubious proposition given the fact that it borders absolutely nowhere on the Mediterranean Sea. Most of my knowledge of the Mediterranean Diet is from microwaved Portuguese food which I eat in front of the television.

On that same television I watched Ultimate Survival which could easily be assumed te be  about cycling along Portugals roads, but was just Bear Grylls being dropped in some wilderness.
So I watched him survive.
Bear Grylls is descending into dark caves, climbing rocky peaks and traversing frozen waterfalls. It seems ill advice to the average office employee who finds himself in a typical survival situation, as Bear Grylls would call it.


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