Bren-Barn
31 Santa Barbara, CA
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Bren-Barn
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My self-summary
I tend to like profiles where the author actually tries to describe what they see as important aspects of their own personality, so this is going to be that kind of profile. So if you were just hoping to read here that I live life passionately and to the fullest!!!!, that I m down 4 a gr8 time netime, or that I'm a laid-back guy who likes going out but is also cool with just staying in and chilling, then you might want to look elsewhere. (Ironically, most of that stuff is true of me, to some extent, but it's just not that informative, right?)

(There seems to be a trend of people listing their Meyers-Briggs type in their profile, but I'm not doing that either, because frankly I haven't seen much evidence that that is a legit measure of anything. As far as general personality tests I prefer the Big Five --- and that preference itself probably tells you something about my personality. My latest scores on the long version are: Extraversion 2, Agreeableness 42, Conscientiousness 50, Neuroticism 31, and Openness 75.)

Maybe the most important thing to know about me is that I doggedly pursue happiness, but I find happiness predominantly in relaxation, familiarity, and a gradual expansion of the horizon, with only rare garnishes of novelty and excitement. I've developed my own personal approach to life, largely by filtering my natural introspective tendencies through things I've read in literature, philosophy, and psychology (especially happiness psychology), and of course through my own experiences and my (often involuntary) introspection about them. Briefly summarized, my secret to happiness is: find what you like, and stick with it. That means you have to do some looking, but it also means that when you find things you like, you should consider dialing back the looking so you have some time to actually stick with that stuff you like.

So my main criterion for deciding whether something is good (as in, a good movie, a good book, a good hike, a good restaurant, a good job, even a good friend) is to ask myself "How much do I want to experience this again?" I like to maintain a slow but steady influx of new experiences, but reserve a substantial amount of my time and energy for re-experiencing the things I already know I like. Like I said, though, I do this with intention rather than just out of apathy: I like to pay attention to what makes me happy, and make use of that knowledge to, you know, make myself happy. (And, in keeping with that notion of re-experiencing things, I look not just for things that can make happy, but things that I feel I can rely on to keep making me happy, consistently, for an extended period of time.)

What are these mysterious things? A lot of them are really simple and easily obtained, which I think is pretty cool. Here are some of my go-to sources of happiness:
* I live in a wonderful place, and I take advantage of it. I go for long walks around town or on the beach. Sometimes I go for hikes. Sometimes I just sit on a rock and look at the ocean and think, dang, that is nice to look at, and enjoy and appreciate that I'm able to do that.
* I hang out with friends, play games, and shoot the breeze.
* I read.
* I play around with data. I've done this in various ways for a long time, but I got increasingly into it during grad school. I just track down datasets that I think are ripe for uncovering interesting patterns, and I try to uncover them, just for fun.
* I play around with computers. Often this is connected with my data goofing, but sometimes it's kind of its own thing. I have various little projects that I move from front to back burners as it suits me.
* I play the piano and write music.
* I explain things to people. (Mostly, I explain math to kids. This is actually what I do for a living.)
* I think about stuff.

Ultimately most of the things on that list can be summed up with the last one. I like observing systematic things and analyzing them to get a better understanding of how they work, even if I ultimately don't find the "answer". (The alert reader may notice that even my little introspective happiness-maximizing plan is basically this.) Talking about ideas with people feeds that urge, as does playing with data or with algorithms, as does reading. (Even reading fiction --- good fiction anyway --- is a way of tangling with the human condition, the most delightfully baffling puzzle of them all.) Games (either board games or computer games) provide an interesting sort of relaxing mini-version of this experience, where you learn a closed, toy-like system and try to figure it out in the same way. Explaining systems to other people is, as everyone says, one of the best ways to understand them yourself. Even music is in a way an exploration, taking an idea that comes from some enigmatic source and developing it to discover what it can lead to. And yeah, there are other things, things that I like to do, but do less often. (Travel is a big one in that category.) But that list pretty much covers the basics of what I like to do in terms of day-to-day life.

Now, of course, this is a dating website, not some kind of thisiswhoiamasaperson.com, so at some point here I need to get to the point. The above should hopefully give you an idea of what sort of fellow I am. As for what I'm looking for, you should know that the philosophy outlined above is in full effect. That means I want to find someone I like and stick with her, and that in turn means I want to find someone I think will make me happy over an extended period of time. For me the goal is to get to a point where the relationship is, for both of us, a refuge from the bad parts of the outside world, as well as a base from which to explore and savor the good parts together. In the parlance of my little philosophy above, we would begin to build a shared store of happiness, things that make us both happy, that we enjoy together with no end in sight. I'm not interested in any romance that doesn't at least point in that direction. (I'm open to meeting friends through this site too, though, so that's cool.)

That means I'm looking for someone who's cool with a life that is devoted more to tranquil contentment than to high-velocity pursuits, and who feels like most of the stuff on that list is stuff she likes too, because otherwise conversations about what to do today could quickly become awkward. And she'd probably better be pretty sweet, because I am too, but my sweetness is of a synergistic sort that requires a complementary sweetness in order to reach full flavor.

If you think all of this makes me sound picky, you're right. I'm in no particular rush, and I'd rather not get involved in something that's I don't think is going to last for the long haul. I'm looking for a relationship that will make me happier than I am right now, which is no simple quest. On the other hand, I don't hold it against anyone else if they're picky too. In fact, it seems like just about the only way this can work eventually is if I meet someone who is so doggone picky that, until she met me, no one else quite fit the bill.
What I’m doing with my life
I work as a math and reading tutor to kids. I'm also beginning to do some freelance consulting/training in the computer programming realm. I try to keep a good amount of free time to relax and work on various side projects.
I’m really good at
I have a very good memory. I've become pretty good at forming and keeping certain kinds of habits, which I find an intriguing phenomenon, although some of these are habits that other people would be baffled by. (One of my habits, for instance, is writing down my dreams each morning. I now have over 100 journals full of over 10 years worth of dreams.) I'm also good at solving problems logically (not just in the sense of doing brainteasers, but in the sense of applying a logical approach to solve practical problems).

Last but not least, I'm good at living frugally without scrimping or denying myself much. I just have limited --- and cheap --- needs. (It's amazing how much money you don't spend when you don't like coffee or alcohol.)
The first things people usually notice about me
I have a fez on my head.
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
Novels: Moby-Dick, The Wings of a Falcon, The Great Gatsby, Dictionary of the Khazars, In Search of Lost Time, and the 1001 Nights. Nonfiction: mostly psychology (e.g., Stumbling on Happiness, Gut Feelings, stuff by William James) and philosophy (e.g., Plato, some Daniel Dennett, and more stuff by William James). Short stories: the end of the beltline and The Mansion on the Hill. Comics: Poor Sailor. Oh, and Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie.

I recently finished reading a philosophy book called "Happiness and Goodness". I'm now reading some more philosophy (Peirce) and beginning a leisurely reread of Proust with fellow Proustophile and OKCupid denizen zin_0.

I also read the Los Angeles Times every day (in hard copy). And lots of Wikipedia articles.

Movies: The Princess Bride, the Bill & Ted movies, Rushmore, 12 Monkeys, Star Wars, State and Main, Sweet and Lowdown, and perhaps most of all Lone Star.

TV: I don't have a TV, don't watch TV, and am not generally interested in watching TV.

Music: Despite being musically inclined, I rarely listen to music. When I do listen to music,I like classical (predominantly Beethoven), classic rock, modern pop/rock (e.g., The Smashing Pumpkins, The Arcade Fire), Irish traditional music, spacey guitar soundscapes (e.g., Explosions in the Sky), and various other stuff. I usually go to a few classical music concerts in a year. I also like to listen to super-old recordings from the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization project now and then, because they give me a delicious feeling of nostalgic peace. (Check out the cymbalom ones.)

Food: I tend to care more about what's in the food than what "kind" of food it is. I'm a meat and dough kind of guy. (I can enjoy vegetables too, but I don't feel like I've had a full meal if I just eat vegetables.) I like baked goods, especially things made with oats. I drink a large amount of whole milk.

There are some pretty common foods that I don't like, including cheese, cheese, coffee, wine, and beer; this astonishes many people.

Some favorites: Indian food, Mexican food, "Absolutely Divine" lemon cookies from CVS, hearty stews, walnuts, waffles, donuts, and cornbread.

I feel in this section I should include a disclaimer about my near-total disconnection from "pop culture". I don't have a TV, I don't have Netflix, I don't have an iPod. I don't have iTunes, I don't even watch a lot of YouTube or anything like that. This doesn't mean I'm a luddite, because I spend tons of time on the computer. I do occasionally listen to music or go to a movie, and when I do I enjoy it, but I'm just not the kind of person who likes to have a constant stream of audiovisual entertainment feeds. Most of what passes for entertainment in my life comes from reading or from physically seeing and doing things.
The six things I could never do without
A small notebook and pen in my pocket, a computer with internet access, a piano, whole milk, cookies, the ocean.
I spend a lot of time thinking about
The human condition.

What I have recently read.

Whatever sort of data I've recently been fiddling with (the census, tweets, the stock market, you name it).

Music. (This is not so much "thinking" as just constantly making up tunes in my head.)

The future.

Why people (including me) do the things they do.

What it is about things that seem the same that makes them seem the same, and what it is about things that seem different that makes them seem different.

Also any one of my peculiar fascinations, like miracle fruit or Tristan da Cunha or tardigrades.
On a typical Friday night I am
I often get together with friends and go out to dinner and/or play board games. Sometimes I go for a walk and/or watch the sunset after work. Sometimes I play multiple simultaneous games of Scrabble online.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit
I prefer to be the one in control in a relationship. I'm therefore looking for someone who would also be happiest with that arrangement.
You should message me if
You've read the above and think I sound rad.
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