Friday, June 4, 2010

On Hiatus

This blog is on hiatus for a while (maybe permanently, not sure).

You can still follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and my Home Page.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Central Heating

If you live in a cold region, it is reasonable to assume you need heat in the winter. After all, a human would freeze to death if he were directly exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for long, especially at night. This doesn't have to be "active" heat, however--heat that is generated by burning fossils fuel or consuming electricity. Passive heat can work just as well, provided the space you are occupying is small.

Most people in modern industrial societies consume far more heat than they need. They own or rent cavernous homes--size proportional to income--which they insist on heating in their entirety, even though most of this space is used only for storage. This is where "central heating" is required. This is a a furnace or other heating system that forces heat into the rest of the home via ducts or water pipes. Compared to distributed heating systems, like space heaters or fireplaces, central heating is relatively efficient, but the fact that it is required at all suggests you have far more space than you need.

The custom of heating large spaces to live in is a cultural phenomenon, not a requirement of survival or even comfort. For practical purposes, all you need to heat is the air immediately around you, and often insulation alone is sufficient without the need to burning anything.

In everyday life, you need heat for two things: for sleeping and for conducting relatively sedentary waking activities, like reading or working on a computer. Can you be comfortable doing things without central heating?

Sleep is the time when you are most vulnerable, so you'd think that's when you most need heat. Wrong! Because you aren't moving much when you sleep, you can wrap yourself in insulation -- warm clothing and bedding. If you are cold, you just add more layers. You can also use bedding systems that are more enclosed, like sleeping bags, rather than loose ones like blankets. It makes no difference to the body whether it is wrapped in several sleeping bags in an unheated room or is sleeping with a single blanket in a home heated to 78 degrees. The financial difference, though, can be huge. The cost of sleeping bags is trivial compared to the ongoing cost of burning fuel to actively heat the home.

The most important key to survival in harsh climates is not staying warm but staying dry. If your bedding gets wet, then its insulation value collapses. This is where shelter comes in--be it a house, shed, tent or car. It protects you from water! If you have waterproof shelter and plenty of warm clothing and bedding, then heat is mainly a comfort issue. As with all comfort issues, heat is negotiable. It's a balance of cost and what works best.

There is little reason, apart from social and cultural expectations, to heat an enclosed home a night--regardless of the outside temperature. As long as you remain dry and the air around you is still, there is no low temperature that can't be addressed by passive insulation wrapped snugly around you. If one sleeping bag doesn't work, try two or three. The only plausible reason for nighttime heating in cold regions is that the indoor plumbing might freeze (just one more curse of this modern contrivance!). Okay, so if you already have central heating and insist on having indoor plumbing, then set your thermostat to just above freezing. That's a reasonable baseline for the amount of ambient heat you need around you when you sleep.

In the morning, of course, it can be a challenge to get out of a warm bed into a cold room. That's when you need more active heat sources. If you are actively exercising, your body generates it's own heat, and you can do these activities outdoors or in an unheated space. But if your job is to type things on a computer, it is hard to imagine doing this with gloves on in a room that's close to freezing. There is a limit to how many layers of insulation you can wear around you and still engage in subtle motor skills.

However, when you are sitting in one place doing something, you aren't occupying much space. You can work on a computer just as easily in a 5-foot cube as in a spacious study, so why do you need to heat the whole house? In general, the smaller the space, the more cheaply and efficiently it can be heated. Yes, central heating may be efficient overall, but not as efficient as heating just the room--or portion of the room--you happen to be in.

So why not just work in a 5-foot cube? If it was well-insulated, your body alone would heat it and you wouldn't need any fossil fuels. Of course, it is hard to find a 5-foot cube on the market designed for that purpose, but you wouldn't expect it in our society. Our commercial culture always wants to sell us excess -- like a 2000-square-foot home with all the accessories and upkeep -- because that's where the profits lie. If you want a humble 25-square-foot box to work in (or even live it), you'll probably have to make it yourself and accept that society will see you as eccentric.

Central heating was a reasonable solution to heating the traditional house--better than fireplaces at least. But if you think about what you really need in life, both the house and the heating system may be unnecessarily. First of all, do you need to be living in this cold climate at all? As long as you avoid the humid lands, life is far easier closer to the equator. Secondly, wouldn't your life be more efficient if it were housed in the smallest package possible? Not only is it cheaper in terms of rent and heating fuel, but it encourages you to live a lean and nonsense-free life instead of a flabby and cluttered one.

A reasonable compromise for the modern knowledge worker is a small studio apartment. It's easy to maintain, cheap to heat, and because there's a hard limit to the available space, it's not going to be filled up with Things You Don't Need. Yes, it is useful to have a place to sleep, eat, store a few clothes and perform whatever meaningful activities you are engaged in. The rest is vanity and empty entertainment, and there is no sense trying to heat it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


We have already ranted against television. Your life is much richer without it! But what about "concentrated television", where you can replay shows at your own convenience and zap out the ads?

Services like TiVo and DishPVR allow you to "timeshift" your viewing and perhaps do it more efficiently, but the underlying programming is still the same. Television in any form displaces your own thoughts with someone else's. Instead of thinking about your own problems and your own productivity, you're sucked into a script provided by others.

Television and other sensory addictions subdivide your consciousness, which is a finite commodity. The more things you try to attend to, the lower the quality of that attention will be. If you are keeping track of the lives of dozens of fictional characters and stories, then you can't be attending as well to the real characters and stories of your own life.

Watching concentrated television is akin to taking concentrated drugs. You're cramming more sensory stimulation into a shorter period of time, with even less time to process it. Furthermore, when you can timeshift your television, you'll never miss your favorite shows. You'll see ALL of them! If you pre-program your shows in advance, you will come back later to have them all waiting for you. This is like having a big buffet in front of you. How can you resist eating it all?

Back in the old days, you had to be in front of the TV at the time the show was broadcast. If there were conflicts with other shows or with real activities in your own life, then you simply missed the show. Is this such a bad thing? Schedule conflicts and the pain of having to watch the ads were natural limiting factors on how much TV you watched. Concentrating the television just makes it easier to watch and more irresistible for most people. Like concentrated food, TiVo encourages "data obesity" where people overindulge to the point where their true quality of life is very poor.

It doesn't matter if a drama is "good", a comedy is "funny" or a documentary is "informative." There may be a lot of admirable shows on television. The only question is whether they are the best thing you could be doing with your limited time on Earth.

Also see: Mindless Entertainment Wasting Our Planet (Kilroy Cafe #16)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hand Sanitizer

This stuff may make sense in hospitals, but it's a waste of time and money in the real world, which is so plastered with "germs" that it's best to let nature take its course.

The very concept of "germs" was created by the advertising industry to sell products. Germs are evil little cartoon characters that only "Scrubbing Bubbles" and other cartoon heroes can deal with. The end goal here is always to sell you something, and to do that the commercial world invents new threats you never knew existed.

In reality, the only "germs" are bacteria, viruses and maybe mold spores. Mankind has been living with them since the beginning of time, and we have reached a detente: the microbes do their thing, and we develop defenses against them. By going overboard on sanitation you may end up disrupting the detente and ultimately giving the microbes the upper hand.

At best, hand sanitizers and similar products are simply ineffective. There are too many germs in the environment and too many ways for them to get to you. At worst, sanitation products may actually weaken your immune system and breed stronger germs.

Take a product that claims to kill "99% of all bacteria". Sounds good, right? Wrong! What about the 1% of bacteria that weren't killed? That's right, they multiply! Since they weren't killed by the product initially, they must have an immunity to it, so your next generation of bacteria are going to laugh the product off.

The body's best defense against disease agents is its own immune system. You keep the immune system primed by ALLOWING it access to disease agents. People who live in plastic bubbles never have a chance to develop immunities, so when disease agents inevitably get through the plastic wrap, the body has little defense.

The same concept applies to antibiotics. The inevitable effect of the overuse of antibiotics is that we have bred stronger bacteria resistant to them. That's yet another case of a "miracle" product turning into a bad thing in the long term. (In truth, there are no miracles in life, only trade-offs.)

I'm not suggesting you forgo antibiotics if you need them to stay alive and or that you you should bathe in germs, like swimming in the river Ganges. You just don't need to go overboard and try to kill ALL germs. It's probably a good idea to keep wounds clean, wash your hands after going to the bathroom and take a shower on occasion to reduce the bacterial hordes, since even the strongest immune system can be overwhelmed. But you don't need to use a hand sanitizer every time you touch a door knob or shake someone's hand.

That's just sick! You need to contact life directly, without a hundred lotions, sprays and obsessive-compulsive rituals getting in the way. Just shake hands, kiss babies, use public toilets and when you begin to stink, take a shower.

You don't want a flabby immune system, do you? Give it some exercise!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Has there ever been a point when your life seemed so painful that you considered suicide? Sure, we have all probably thought about it, at least in our teenage years when our lives are filled with such melodrama. Obviously, if you a reading this then you declined the option, but if the issue comes up again, how do you process it?

A big unknown is what lies on the other side. Does it change the equation to know that Paradise or Hell or Nothing at All awaits us in the afterlife? I say no. The decision about whether or not to end your life can be made solely on what you know about life already, and the logical, intelligent answer is usually to hang on to it.

Whatever lies beyond, it is another universe without much bearing on this one. Whether it will be eternal joy or eternal damnation or eternal nothingness, the "eternal" part means that it doesn't make a whole lot of difference whether you get there now or later. You can let this life play out, and Heaven or Hell will still be waiting for you. The only universe you know about for sure is this one and you have already built up some skills here, so you might as well use them.

That is not to say that suicide is always wrong. If we remain lucid until the day we die, there is a good chance that you and I will be making end-of-life decisions that are roughly the equivalent of suicide. For example, say we are diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the doctors give us the option of a painful and invasive treatment that may extend our life by three months but at great cost. Do we push for the three months or decline the treatment and just enjoy the time we have left? It's not like putting a gun to our head, but not accepting the treatment is still essentially a suicide decision, and in many cases it may be the right one.

You could call this a "strategic end-of-life choice," and a lot of things factor into it: not just your own comfort and well-being but that of the people you leave behind. Whatever you may believe about the afterlife, it seems clear that life on Earth will continue without you, so as you get ready to check out, this continuing life becomes more important to you than your own. Since the afterlife is beyond your control, all you can invest in is what you leave behind on Earth.

Think back to your teenage years and the suicidal thoughts you inevitably had. Were you really thinking about the good of humanity when you considered it? No, it was more like, "I'll show them! One of these days I won't be around, and THEN they'll be sorry!" That's the narcissistic form of suicide, and like other narcissistic thoughts it overestimates your own importance in the world. The fact is, you're not much good to anybody dead. Sure, they will grieve, but they'll get over it, and you'll just end up out of the loop, without any influence at all.

Post-teenage suicide - the kind where a relatively healthy adult blows his brains out with a gun - is also narcissistic. It's not thinking about the people you leave behind but only about your own selfish interests. (First of all please choose a cleaner method, because scraping your brains off the ceiling and your blood off the walls can get very expensive.) Almost always, there were options, but you were so wrapped up in yourself that you refused to see them.

Okay, so your business has failed; your spouse has left you and you lost two legs in an auto accident. That doesn't mean you are powerless or that you can't contribute anything to the world you leave behind. As long as you can move one finger, you have power in the world, and your creative challenge is to figure out how to use it.

It seems to me that just thinking about suicide can be very freeing. If you are ready to give up everything, then you should be able to step back and say, "Okay, instead of giving up everything, why don't I just give up the things that vex me?" Thinking about suicide opens the door to radical experimental solutions - like walking out on some of your commitments or letting your business fail. It's going to happen anyway if you kill yourself, so why not hang around and make these decisions selectively and strategically instead? Suicide can be a really great idea if in fact you back off from it and choose to radically restructure your life instead.

People usually consider suicide because that are hemmed in by preconceptions of what they need in life, and life just doesn't seem to be delivering. The really radical solution is not suicide but to hack away at the preconceptions. True creativity is to renegotiate things that you once thought were beyond negotiation, and hitting rock-bottom in your life opens up this option like nothing else.

I have know several people who committed suicide, and - at least in this small sample - they were all very rigid thinkers, not open to compromise. They had certain expectations about life, and that's all they would accept. When some circumstance turned against them - relatively minor in my book - they said, "Fuck it!" and checked out.

I would make allowance for overwhelming physical pain. If the disease is terminal and you are suffering so much that you can't even type on a keyboard, I suppose you might call Dr. Kavorkian (when he gets out of prison). However, most who consider suicide are suffering only psychic pain, which usually comes down to not wanting to change ones cherished preconceptions. Psychic pain is reversible, but only if you make the decision to give up something. If you are rigid and not open to change, if you care little about what you leave behind and don't see any point in life, then I guess suicide is an option. It's not my option, though. As I see it, every misfortune can be turned into an advantage if I choose to. It's not a matter of circumstance but of attitude.

Life is a resource, and you can either use it or not. If you choose not to use the remaining time at your disposal, I can't really argue with your decision, but once you do it, you're not part of my world anymore. The rest of us may grieve for a while, but we'll move on, and pretty soon we'll forget you even existed.

Isn't that frightening enough?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Indoor Plumbing

Now, I'm not going to claim that indoor plumbing can't be USEFUL. In dense cities, modern sewer systems and sanitary drinking water systems have saved countless lives. Prior to indoor plumbing and the advent of the Crapper™, human waste was dumped in the street, where it spread infectious diseases and often contaminated nearby water supplies. I'm not saying that new homes shouldn't be equipped with plumbing systems or that plumbing should be ripped out of existing homes. Indoor plumbing, however, has created a whole new set of social and environmental dilemmas, and its value in your own life may be overrated. If you have to, you can probably get by without it.

Indoor plumbing does two things: It brings fresh, safe water into the home and it carries liquified waste out. The unfortunate effect, however, is that it encourages the abuse of both systems. People with plumbing tend to use way more water than they need, and they produce far too much liquid waste. Given the availability of nearly free, effortlessly-obtained water, consumers will use hundreds of gallons a day rather than the couple of gallons that could get by with. At the other end, they are producing huge amounts of waste water, which has to be run through a resource-intensive treatment process. They are also flushing just about anything into the sewer, not just toilet paper but garbage, gum, cigarette butts and anything else that will fit, accompanied by countless wasted gallons of flush water.

While human waste dumped in the public gutter is a bad thing for both the environment and society, the same waste dumped on biologically active land—in reasonable amounts—is generally good. Urine is moderately poisonous to most life forms, but when animals pee, even big ones like cattle, the land manages to deal with it. On the other hand, the land loves shit! It's great fertilizer, and there's a whole host of flora and fauna prepared to deal with it.

Modesty aside, is it better to relieve yourself in bushes or in the Crapper? From an environmental standpoint, probably the bushes! You're not wasting any water, and your shit is being put to good use! Of course, if a hundred people used the same bush, there might be disease and overload issue, but if it's just you, no problem!

Where should you dispose of your toilet paper? You could bury it and let nature do its work, or you could put it in the trash. Most domestic trash now goes to landfills where it is essentially entombed for eternity. As distasteful as this may sound, landfills are the most environmentally benign disposal system we currently have (apart from the recycling of high-value materials). If you flush your t.p. down the john, there has to be a process at the other end to filter it out—at which point it is probably going into a landfill anyway.

On the input side, does an individual human really need to run through 100s of gallons of clean water a day? It's amazing how much you can do with just a gallon or two with a little thought and ingenuity. The most important thing we need water for is drinking, but that usage rarely reaches even a gallon a day unless you're sweating like a pig. (Do pigs actually sweat?) Of course, a gallon won't run a modern dishwasher or washing machine or give you a decent shower, but your need for those things may not be as pressing as you think.

Even if you have indoor plumbing right now, you may someday encounter circumstances when you won't have it. In that case, you get along better than you think! Below are various tips and observations that might be helpful. (Some of them are drawn from my other blog, Homeless by Choice.)
  1. You don't need water to brush your teeth, only toothpaste and a toothbrush. Your own saliva provides all the wetting you need. You don't need to rinse your mouth afterwards; just spit. (Toothpaste is non-toxic and harmless, should a little residue remain in your mouth.) Water is USEFUL only to rinse off your brush when you are done, but you don't need much. If you are unable to rinse your toothbrush for several days, it may get a little crusty, but you can still use it.

  2. The need for a dishwasher is generally the result of having TOO MANY dishes. (See dishwashers - automatic.) If you have only one set of dishes per person, you might end up not washing as much and eliminating the need for the mass washing.

  3. In the developed world, the pendulum has swung from "unsanitary" conditions to "hypersanitary" conditions. That is, when we have the resources we now insist that things be much cleaner than they have to be for any genuine health need. For example, you use a glass once, then put it in the dishwasher. Why can't you use the same glass all day? There's no real sanitary reason why not, just a cultural "ewwww" factor. Our epidemic of hypersanitation is encouraged in part by commercial marketing, which always has a product to sell you to address it. (To sell you the product, marketers first have to create the need.)

  4. "Germs" are a marketing invention and don't really exist. Instead you have two potential disease causing agents: viruses and bacteria. You can never eliminate them entirely, and your body has defenses against both. In fact, your body needs regular exposure to viruses and bacteria to keep its defense systems in tune. If something you touch is covered with "germs," it doesn't necessarily increase your risk of disease, and your health is not necessarily improved by continuously washing everything you come in contact with.

  5. In general, you're not going to catch any diseases from viruses and bacteria emitted by your own body, only those from other people's bodies that happen to be infected with diseases you haven't been exposed to. If there are millions of bacteria on every square inch of your bathroom, that's not necessarily a health risk if they're all your bacteria. Likewise with the viruses and bacteria of your immediate family. Within a household, there are so many vectors for disease, like kissing, that you're going to be sharing "germs" anyway, so keeping your home surfaces sanitized is irrelevant.

  6. It is absolutely insane to produce a half cup of urine and flush it down with four gallons of clean water! There has to be a better way! If public norms were not an issue, you could keep a pee bottle and dump it only once a day. I'm not saying this is right for you, but if you have an opportunity to not waste so much water, maybe you should try it. (Pee in the bushes!)

  7. You don't produce so much urine—and thus don't have to flush so often—if you simply don't drink so much. People in the modern world tend to drink far more than they actually need: quarts of drink per day rather than the few ounces of water they can usually get buy with (except when sweating). This is due largely to their caffeine addiction, which is epidemic throughout the world. People also insist on drinks with every meal, which is also unnecessary. If your pee is more clear than yellow, you're probably drinking more than you need. When you limit your fluid intake, it is amazing how long you can go without a bathroom break.

  8. Everyone needs to bathe, but probably not as often as most people do. If you feel you must shower twice a day, then indoor plumbing is necessary, but if 2-3 times a week is enough for you, you might be able to "rent" a shower—say, by using a health club. How often should you bathe? Since the main issue is usually odor and its social effect, not health per se, you need to smell yourself to find out. Admittedly, this isn't easy, but there has to be a certain time frame where offensive body odors kick in (two days? two weeks?). If you bathe more often than that, you aren't getting much benefit from it.

  9. Health clubs are great places for personal hygiene without the need for plumbing of your own. You can use all the hot and cold water you care to, while someone else pays for it and maintains the infrastructure.

  10. In situations where you have little water for dishwashing, disposable plates, cups and utensils might do the trick. You might also be able to use non-disposable plates and cups and simply wipe them off with a paper towel instead of washing. Again, there's no reason to fear "germs" on your plate if you will be the next one using it.

  11. Food residue that has dried onto your plate may be unsightly, but it isn't a health risk. Bacteria doesn't grow in a dry medium!

  12. When bacteria does grow on spoiled food, it may produce toxins. For example, you may get sick from drinking a cup of spoiled milk. You won't get sick, however, if there's just a thin layer of milk residue on your glass, even if it looks unsightly. This type of bacterial growth is different (and a lot more benign) than the bacteria passed between people as disease agents.

  13. If you have no plumbing of your own, you can wash your clothes just as well at a facility called a "Laundromat". This is a commercial establishment available in most cities and towns where you "rent" washing machines and dryers by placing coins in them. The price may seem high, but it probably beats the monthly cost of owning a washing machine. Commercial washers usually use water much more efficiently than home washers do, and they may work better.

  14. You can stretch out your visits to the Laundromat by not changing your clothes and bedding so often. Do you need a new set of clothes every day, or can you stretch them out for several days? Maybe you should test for actual dirtiness (by appearance or smell) rather than just assuming.

  15. Shit stinks! That's one reason you can't just through it away in the trash. Surprisingly, shit in a plastic bag stinks even worse! That's because plastic prevents the dung from drying out, while it continues to pass odors. What doesn't stink? Shit wrapped in both plastic and aluminum foil! That's because foil passes no odors. Believe It... Or Not!™

  16. If you think throwing shit away in the trash is offensive, consider this: Baby diapers are routinely thrown in the trash. There's no other way!

  17. Urine stinks, but only under certain circumstances. It smells bad in humid corners where there is no opportunity for it to wash away (like in New York City subways). Urine doesn't smell in the desert or in the bushes, at least not enough to be detectable.

  18. Bottled water may be relatively expensive, but if you are very frugal with it, it could be less costly than plumbing over all. You can do even better if you bottle your own water from someone else's tap. That's usually free!
Some of these ideas can be applied even if you possess indoor plumbing, or you might use nearly all of them if you are camping or traveling.

Whatever happened to the good old outhouse? Modern building codes and environmental regulations have run it out of business. Same with the septic tank. Biologically, these seemed like pretty good ideas: The waste had a chance to decay naturally, then was returned to the environment in relatively small doses.

Industrialized civilization can't tolerate these ad-hoc solutions. The trouble with modern law and environmental regulation is they demand the same solutions for everyone, regardless of the circumstances. We can't let you pee in the bushes, the reasoning goes, because if EVERYONE peed in the bushes, there would be chaos. We can't tolerate people living without plumbing, because if everyone did it there would be disease epidemics.

Building codes and environmental regulation have certainly improved public health compared to medieval times, but they have also resulted in absurdities, like the U.S. Park Service spending huge sums on high-tech, supposedly environmentally-friendly toilets in their parks, replacing the traditional outhouse. Heaven forbid some human should shit in the woods! While masses of people living together have to have plumbing codes and a thousand other regulations, it doesn't mean these rules are best for you or that you are damaging anything by evading them.

You are not "everyone". You are one person, and as long as you are not inviting a hundred people to pee in the same bush you are, you should feel free to find solutions that work for you. If no one sees you and the actual impact on the environment is nil, then go ahead and drench that bush! If it's civil disobedience, then so be it.

Someone has to stand up to The Man!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


People seem willing to pay enormous amounts of money for a "room with a view"—like a hotel on the beach or a house on a hillside overlooking the city. You don't need it, though. You can enjoy beauty wherever you find it, but it can't be bought, sold or nailed down in any way. As soon as you try, the beauty is lost and you're stuck with a product that doesn't work as well as it should.

Beauty, of course, is subjective. Is the Grand Canyon beautiful, or just an unsightly gouge in the earth? It depends in part on what you are used to: If you have never seen it before, you might be duly impressed on first viewing, but you won't be if you come from a whole planet of Grand Canyons where it is just another hole in the ground.

One thing is certain: The longer you remain at the Grand Canyon, the less you are going to be awed by it. It's going to fade further and further from your consciousness until only your life on the edge of it matters. After all, you can't DO much with the Grand Canyon; it just sits there.

People may rave about how beautiful something is, but when they do, it is usually because (a) they are new to the experience, or (b) they are trying to sell you something, or (c) they are trying to sell themselves on the wisdom of investments they have already made.

Real estate agents always play up the supposed beauty of whatever area their selling: "Look at those mountains. Look at that seashore. If you buy this property, all of that can be yours!" In fact, it can't be yours. You can buy the property, but what happens shortly thereafter? You stop seeing the view!

Beauty, if it exists, is a temporary emotional reaction inside you, not an inherent quality of the outside world. It is not something you can hang your decisions on, because emotions change. The same view that got you excited the first time you saw it will probably be ho-hum by the fifth time. In the long run, you are concerned with the pragmatic struggles of life, not its setting.

There are things that people universally find beautiful. For example, we seem to be programmed by our genes to see certain facial configurations as attractive—a certain spacing of the eyes, for example—but even this universal beauty fades with exposure. If you marry a fashion model, her objective beauty vanishes to you almost immediately, and what matters from then on is the actual functioning of the relationship.

When it comes to making practical decisions about your life, beauty—in any form—is a big con job. If you choose real estate, relationships or even vacation destinations based on perceived beauty, you are bound to be disappointed. Although the brochure may look pretty, the destination isn't going to look the same to you once you get there and get acclimated. The real operational question is, "What do I do?" and beauty can't help you with that.

The people who try to buy beauty or sell themselves based on it are a sorry lot. If you choose a mate based on appearance or a house based on its scenic view, then you have cheated on the operational criteria that really matter in the long run. You can show off your landmark home or trophy wife to others, who may be impressed at first, but that's not much comfort later if the house doesn't work for you or the relationship hits the skids.

Beauty is something you are free to notice, even turn your head for, but if you start making real decisions based on it, you're doomed.