12-31-13 - My Philosophy

Note to self :

Any time you face a decision and you aren't sure what to do - just take the choice you are more afraid of, the bolder choice, the choice that's more risky with the larger possible upside.

(lol, yeah right, I'm not actually doing that)

12-31-13 - My Philosophy - 3

It's perfectly reasonable to shit on what most of the world does. Consumerism is awful, shopping is disgusting, TV is boring, dining out is awful, etc. etc. That's fine, that's true, that stuff is awful. But the alternative can't be just nothing. You have to have an idea in mind of how a good life is spent, and actually do that. It can't just be "I don't want to do that garbage everyone else does" and instead I'll do nothing, it has to be - instead I'll make my own glider and jump off my roof, or whatever, something worth doing.

12-31-13 - My Philosophy - 2

Note to self : Never ever listen to anyone about anything.

Several reasons why.

1. I am very vigilant about protecting my brain from poison. I avoid commercial TV and advertising of all kinds. I avoid TV news and the mass news in general. I avoid group-think garbage like Pollan and Gladwell and so on. There is horrible brain poison everywhere, and most sophomoric pseudo-intellectuals think that they are either strong enough to resist it or even get benefit from it. Nonsense, all you get is brain-washing and ruined opinions. Nobody else does research like I do. Nobody else protects themselves from bias like I do. Their opinions are shit. Just smile and nod and ignore them.

2. People who do great things strike out on their own and follow their own heart. Even if you are "wrong", who cares. Do your own thing. If Einstein or Prince were surely told by all the cowardly morons around them that they shouldn't strike out and do such odd things.

3. If you make your own decision, at least it's yours. You're making your own life, not following the herd. You can learn from your decision and hopefully do better in the future.

4. Getting things "right" is vastly over rated. Make mistakes. Try things. Have experiences, learn. Try more things.

5. People are fucking liars about their level of expertise and surety. People are constantly acting like they really know something and giving you advice about it like their answer is definitely right. It's not. They don't know shit. Thirty minutes of googling will teach you more about it than they know. In fact their "knowledge" is probably apocryphal or wives tales or widespread misunderstanding. It's almost impossibly rare to find someone who will actually admit "I'm no sure about this" or "I think I know the answer, but it's not based on much". Instead you get "oh yes, definitely this way, it works great, everybody knows this". Umm, no, I'm just going to competely ignore you because you have zero rigor in your analysis and zero honesty about your level of expertise.

12-16-13 - Baby Baby Baby

Sometimes I think we're being too good to the baby. Not that you can spoil a baby, or that you need to "toughen them up" for the real world (you fucking assholes, being shits to your baby and pretending that your self-serving neglect is good for them). But that we're pushing ourselves too hard, and it's not sustainable.

In some ways this is the least important phase to be a good parent. The baby won't remember anything; and even if they do remember a blissful early childhood, that's almost not a good thing. It creates a constant longing for the lost bliss of the sweet loving parents you had when you were tiny.

The big problem is if you can't keep it up and check out as the baby gets older, which is incredibly common. Lots of parents have their first baby and are super excited and devoted and loving. Then time goes on and they burn themselves out and they go back to work and take up their hobbies, and they start to just get annoyed that the kids still want them all the time. God dammit this kid is really getting in the way of my amateur donkey-porn-making habit!

It's much better to be consistent. Children don't understand the variations of adult interest; they think they are to blame, or something has gone horribly wrong; they don't understand boredom, or the feeling that you need to do more with your life, or that you need to be an independent person, or whatever it is that makes you draw away sometimes and come closer at other times.

12-14-13 - Male Misery

I feel like the human man in modern society is more fundamentally doomed to misery than the human female. Women can find relationships and have babies, which lets them fullfill their deep biological chemical needs. They may feel unfulfilled, or discriminated against, or whatever, but those are sort of intellectual problems, not deep biological problems. Men need to bash in the heads of other men and take their women; we need to scream and fight and fuck, and we are never allowed to do it, and that creates a deep misery that's uniquely male.

Of course we're civilized and we don't do those things, blah blah blah, but the constant urges and supressions just creates this unpleasant impotent feeling, like I'm not the man I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to murder you all and take your land and women, and I just don't get to. (I suppose I could do it by becoming a banker or a lawyer, but I don't want to do it that slimy way, with paperwork and manipulation, I want to do it by stabbing you in the gut).

(of course there are shared miseries that men and women all face like the inherent illogicalness of life, the feeling that we need to do something significant with ourselves but also the knowledge that all things are pointless, the inability to ever really connect to another human being, the permanent solitude inside our own heads, the paradox of following a moral code that's based on nothing but convention, etc.)

I think this is part of why there are more male writers and poets and such, because we have this horrible yearning inside that we can't fullfill in any reasonable way, so we have to get it out with expression. (and of course more serial killers and rapists and so on).

Anyway, I thought about this because I watched TT3D, which is only okay (bad luck for the film makers that they didn't get the real life drama to play out the way they wanted). It occurred to me that the TT is one of those rare opportunities for a man to be a man, to risk your life, to do something at the absolute limits of what a human can do, to show the world what you are fucking capable of, to battle other men to the death essentially. Stupid observers see it and say "it's too dangerous" or "it's illogical to risk your life like that". Nonsense, when your daily life is a constant misery of unfullfilled desires, going out and doing something that makes you feel really right is completely logical. What's not logical is all the people who are so safe and responsible and careful with their lives, for what? What are you saving yourself for? So you can watch The Price is Right in a nursing home?

12-14-13 - cbloomco product design

1. All cbloomco products will have a hard-switch to disable all status lights and beeps. This could be just a little slider toggle. You switch it to off, and you get absolutely zero lights, and zero beeps. We make routers, stereos, etc. Flip the switch and you have beautiful silent dark boxes.

2. All cbloomco products ship without any stickers or logos on them whatsoever. Not even a "cbloomco" printed anywhere. When stickers are required by law, they are done in ways that make them easily removable without leaving any residue. For example they might be put on a removable panel, and a replacement panel is included without any stickers so you can just swap it. Or they might be put on a non-functional piece that you can just detach and throw away. (cbloomco clothing ships with no tags)

3. All cbloomco electronics have real hard-switches and physical knobs. No digital shuttles, real knobs that save your position and can be adjusted even when the product is off. No digital toggle buttons that have no state, but real up/down switches.

4. All cbloomco electronics have UI's that are 100% *stateless*. That is, every button has a single well-defined function and it does that function all the time. One of the very common statefull buttons that pisses me off on a regular basis is the "Play/Pause". What a moronic abomination. I hit "Play", and I seem to get no response, so I hit it again, oh crap now its Paused, hit it again, wait did that work, oh my god just play I want a damn button that always means play and has no context!

12-14-13 - Bullies

One of the nasty ways that men bully women (and sometimes other men, but it's a particular weapon for men against their female lovers) is with "rational thought".

Basically this consists of ignoring the subtext and real meaning of what she's saying and forcing her to express something in a factual rational way. This is a really nasty form of abuse and bullying. You'll see the man saying things like "that doesn't make any sense" or "can you explain what that means, because I really don't understand what you're asking for" or "no, that doesn't follow from that, just tell me what you're trying to acheive", etc. Then she gets upset and the man is self-righteous "I didn't do anything! I'm just trying to talk to you and get you to make sense!".

You fucking dick. What she's saying is "I want to do this, and I want you to support me" or "please show me how to do this in a kind way" or "you're shutting me out" or "you're being selfish" or "open up to me" or "I feel insecure and need love" or "just let me have this without explaining it" or whatever it is. Usually an unspoken message, that's quite clear if you would just get off your "rational argument" high horse and actually listen.

I find this type of bullying particularly offensive, because I love rational arguments, and it's a shame to see them used as a nasty weapon.

Another type of bullying, often used by husband against wife, but also often used in the work place, is the "let's talk about" / "we have to agree on this".

These assholes will pretend that they're just being fair - "look, this decision affects both of us, so we need to talk and come up with a solution we're both happy with".

In fact they are using talking as a weapon. They will keep talking until you agree with their way. They will say we need a meeting to establish a "consensus" , but to them consensus means their way. Even if the meeting goes against them, they'll keep talking about their way and call more meetings until everyone agrees. They won't let it go until you get frustrated and annoyed and just let them win.

Again these guys will be all self-righteous and act like they are being totally reasonable - "you can't just make decisions that affect all of us without getting an agreement first". Oh yes I can, because if I talk to you about anything you will make it a big problem every time.

Talking and agreeing is all well and good, but only if all parties are willing to compromise and let the other side win sometimes. If one side is unreasonable then the "discussions" are just bullying and abuse.

12-13-13 - QUIET PLEASE

Recently I've been taking baby for drives to get her to fall asleep. I prefer using walks, but in the rain at 20 degrees they aren't so fun.

So I'll drive a bit and she falls asleep quickly, and then I'll park and listen to the radio. And then the annoyance begins. The fucking Porsche automatically turns off the electronics after 5 minutes of engine-off time. I have to turn the car off and back on, and then it makes a ton of fucking beeps, which wakes baby. My other cars turn off the heat, and if I turn the ignition up to the spot where the heat will come back on, they beep beep beep. Of course if you open the door they beep beep beep.

QUIT FUCKING BEEPING AT ME. I know the god damn key is in the ignition. I don't need your help! Just never ever fucking beep at me.

Sometimes when walking baby to get her to sleep I'll have her almost asleep, or just right on the edge, and I'll walk past some car and the owner will lock or unlock it and the fucking thing HONKS. How vulgar, how fucking scummy. Cars do not need to make noise ever. If you need a sign that your car is locked, your key-fob could give you a little zap. Hell it can go ahead and electrocute you to death, you fucking moron.

(part of the problem is that so many cars use a lock/unlock toggle, which is fucking retarded awful design. UIs should be stateless. But that's another rant).

(and there's a separate problem that so many owners are fucking inconsiderate assholes/retards and decide to fire up their ridiculous huge truck right as I'm walking the sleeping baby past. You could have waited five seconds you useless waste of oxygen.)

12-12-13 - Baby Baby Baby

Baby has taught me the idea of unconditional love.

Romantic adults like to talk about "true love" and "till death do us part" and shit like that, but of course all adult love is conditional. If you beat me, I will leave, if you cheat on me, I will leave, if you just start to treat me like shit and nag me and put me down all the time, I will leave, if you get really fat and lazy, I will leave, etc. Of course its conditional, if you really think you have unconditional love for someone, you're either a moron or a victim of abuse, or just a pathetic unmotivated martyr. Decent people don't stay in bad adult relationships.

But with Emmy, I just want the best for her. I want to give her sweetness and love and a happy life, no matter what. I know she will be bad to me. As a child she will pout and yell and punch me and be a jerk, and I will love her anyway. As a teenager she will probably be really deeply awful to me for many years, and I will feel like our love is entirely one sided, but that's okay I'll let her go through that.

It's an entirely different feeling of love than anything I've experienced before.

Even the best adult love, the feeling is more like hope - I hope this works out, I hope she keeps loving me; it's an optimistic happy feeling. This is different, I guess I feel like this love for Emmy is inside me, it's not determined by anything in the outside world, and in that sense I have complete control over it, it's not vulnerable.

My relationship with baby is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. But it occurs to me that if I put the same amount of time and effort into other relationships, they would probably be rewarding too. It's just so much fucking work, and so much emotional engagement all the time, I've never given this much of myself to another person ever.

I suppose if you went around giving unconditional love to everyone, you would probably be pretty happy; blissed out like the Dalai Fucking Lama.

12-11-13 - Baby Baby Baby

Emmy's been using a walker for a while. (the kind you sit in and your feet can touch the ground and it has wheels so she scoots around)

Aside : jesus christ I need to be in charge of designing every product in the world. Everyone is fired. The god damn walker has a *square* base. That means she's constantly getting stuck on things or in the corner of the room and I have to get off my lazy ass and get her unstuck. Of course the base should be a circle. Somebody needs to give Fisher-Price a lesson in squares vs. circles. WTF.

(Aside 2 : the baby walker should totally have a little vacuum cleaner with brushes on the bottom of it so that she can clean the floor as she walks around)

All the over-anxious-parent literature these days says you should not use walkers because they "slow development". (and of course they're dangerous death traps because you're a moron who lets baby use a walker unsupervised right next to a pit full of punji sticks). In this case "development" is measured as the age at which baby walks on its own. The claim is that because walkers teach muscle movements that are not the same as real walking, it slows "development".

What a load of shit. This is the typical modern dumb-like-Bill-Gates use of narrow metrics.

If your metric for "development" is "age of autonomous walking" then almost anything you have baby do other than walk-training will slow "development". How fucking sophomoric. It's like the dumb studies that say things like teaching music doesn't help children's education, where "education" is measured only in standardized test results.

Now of course if you plop your baby in the walker and ignore it, that's bad for development. Spending time paying attention interacting with your baby is good for it. I don't need any damn study to tell me that, it's fucking obvious. Leaving your baby alone neglected is bad for it. Duh.

I guess this is sort of a reminder to myself. Yes I'm sure that in a mass population study, walkers correlate with bad things (like dead or dumb babies), because the average parent puts baby in there and then leaves the room to watch TV. But I don't do that, so it doesn't apply to me. Nothing that anybody says applies to me because I'm not a fucking moron.

12-11-13 - Baby Baby Baby - 2

There are moments when I'm playing with Baby and Mom when it just feels so sweet, like this is what life is for, that there's nothing else I'd rather do. Those moments are delightful but brief. It's really easy to be with baby for 1-2 hours a day, beyond that it gets hard.

Moms that have nannies and jobs are not real "moms". I can say that because that's how I'm defining the word "mom". A real Mom is broken down by the constant care of the baby. A real mom is frazzled, exhausted, totally bonded to the baby but also sort of fed up with the baby. A real mom gets a bit neglectful; well, neglectful is too strong, but there's a certain relaxedness that a real mom gets, it's a good thing. Part time moms have too much energy to devote when they are with baby and they're all hyper super-momming. Real moms know that babies are gonna crawl down stairs and play with electrical sockets and meh what are you gonna do, chill out and keep drinking your tea the baby will be fine.

"Real moms" become wonderfully chill about everything. You develop a new idea of how much you can accomplish in a day. The bar for "being dressed" or "clean house" is reset. I know these sound like bad things, but they're really very good. Adults without babies who are striving and trying to act all cool and expecting to accomplish things all the time are so frustrating. Fucking chill out. We're with out baby, the baby is healthy, nothing else matters, stop stressing.

Parents (ignoring the case of nannies / grandparent help / daycare / etc. real do it yourself full-time parents) generally spend linearly less time on their children as they get older. You spend almost 100% of your time with baby at first, then as baby grows up you spend less time simply because you *can*. Basically we parents want to spend as little time as possible with our children. That's not the conscious thought, but it is the reality based on actual behavior. As our children become more independent, we spend less time with them. It goes down and down until high school when you hardly speak to each other any more.

I'm now quite immune to the sound of babies crying. In fact I almost like it. I can fly on a plane now with a crying baby right behind me, and my reaction is to turn around so I can see the cute little bugger, not to turn around so I can glare meanly at the parents.

I have a new love of seeing other babies around the world. I guess I've always loved babies and children, but in my adult life I developed an uptightness that kept me from just going up to them and saying "coo coo" or playing with them. Now that I have my own baby I feel like it's a free pass to play with other babies.

One of the nice things about having a baby is when you go out in the world, you get to interact with people in their "you have a baby" mode, which for most people is better than the way they normally treat you. (adults are so fucking awful to each other all the time). You get to see people doing "ga ga" faces at the baby which is a great laugh, and they just smile and talk to you like a fucking human being. Anyone who doesn't smile and play with the baby I immediately judge and write off as a monster. At the opposite extreme, some people come up and immediately start poking their fingers at the baby, WTF keep your hands off my baby!

(it's sad to see people who are so uptight and boring and grumpy with other adults, but who light up and are sweet and playful with children. You can tell that the sweet/playful side is their true self, and the goodness has just been crushed out of them and they've learned to have this horrible closed off interaction with adults. Like me of course)

Baby was insanely hard from 0-3 months and has been pretty sweet and easy since then (relatively). Going through that hard time was good I suppose, because in a relative sense it makes everything else seem so easy.

10-23-13 - Baby Baby Baby

The Buddha was a baby abandoner.

His so-called quest for enlightenment started immediately after his first child was born, at which time he saw a future of changing diapers and not sleeping and saying "yes dear" and he got the fuck out of there. Yeah, I see what you did Buddha. I'm on to you.

Lots of the so-called "great men" of history have been baby-abandoners. Society has taught me that as long as you are famous, you can cheat on your wife, punch people, abandon your children, and just generally be a lout and nobody will care. In fact you will be celebrated for having "strong passions" or some shit like that. Hey, the rest of us have strong passions too, we just have some fucking morality and control, you scumbags.

There is a sort of panic that strikes many parents once you settle into life with baby. You feel very trapped. Not that having a baby is such a bad thing, it's not about that, it's not like "god this sucks I need to get out of here", it's just the realization that your life plan is now locked.

I, like most people I assume, have always had these fantasies that maybe I would drop everything and do something completely different with my life. Maybe I would quit my jobs and just go be a beach bum for the rest of my life. Or maybe I would go to wall street and work really hard and get rich. Or maybe I would try to be an actor. Who knows, all these absurd unrealistic fantasies in the back of my mind. But somehow it was comforting to think that even as I was grinding away drearily towards death in the life of a salaryman, maybe I could drop it all and go do these things. Baby puts an end to those fantasies. I can't ever drop it all now, I have to keep working, support the family, have to be responsible, and it's that prison of the future that creates the panic.

I know many dads that wouldn't mind having another baby; they love babies. The moms immediately say "awww hell no". These are clearly couples where the dad did not do much of the baby work.

Baby has gotten incredibly cute. She lights up and smiles when she sees us sometimes; it's like an instant kick in the stomach of happiness when the baby does that big smile at me, no matter how pissed I am at her it just melts away.

It's a good trick. It's so irresistable when someone just blasts a huge smile at you. I suppose that some adults use it to, like those really bubbly Southern Belle types that are just beaming huge smiles at everyone.

I think our baby has some kind of hyperactivity problem. I hope it settles down before she gets older. She's developing incredibly fast, she's super active, constantly energetic and engaged and needing stimulation. On the one hand it's encouraging (I'm glad she doesn't have brain damage) but god it's exhausting. We go to some baby play groups, and in comparison all the other babies are just sloths, they sit there and stare off into space. Our baby flops around smashing everything like a tiny Godzilla.

10-17-13 - My TV Bed

In my living room, I have a bed instead of a couch.

Everyone who comes in looks at it funny. Some ask "what's that for?". Most refuse to sit on it and wind up leaning against the wall or something instead. I suspect that they're afraid it's used for sex. Which yes of course it is, but if it was a couch that would be used for sex just as much; every surface in the whole house is used for sex, and hell some of the outdoors too. The fact that it's a bed doesn't really change that.

The primary purpose of the bed is to give me a way to watch TV without hurting my back. It's wonderful. It's really good for me. I have the TV mounted up as high as possible on the wall (*), so I can lie flat on my back, with my neck straight, not curled forward. In fact I use a little lumbar support to get slight lordosis. It's amazing therapy. You can't go and do 15 minutes of physical therapy and then sit at a couch in horrible posture for 2 hours and expect anything good to happen; back reform is about being in good positions *constantly*. Always always, never ever slouching or head-forward.

(* = it would be even slightly better to have the TV on the ceiling. I started looking into projectors that I could point straight up, but it turns out that projectors can't be tilted more than 15 degrees towards the vertical or something retarded like that. WTF.)

Anyway, Tasha hates the bed for various legitimate reasons, but I fiercely cling to it. It occurs to me that my love for it goes beyond just the comfort and postural benefits.

The bed has become a symbol for me of my non-conformity. I love that when we have other suburban moms over they're kind of freaked out. I hate how fucking generic and suburban I've become, how mild and normal.

I've always been so opposed to the idea of doing things because of fitting in. When someone tells me "you can't wear ripped jeans" or "you have to weed your parking strip" or whatever; why? why do I have to do that? Because some fucking suburban assholes will tsk-tsk me if I don't? fuck them! Let them get their panties in a knot if they want to, I'm not doing anything that hurts them. Sure I wind up conforming most of the time just because it's easier and I'm very lazy; I don't wear weird junk anymore because I just don't want the trouble of the interactions it creates, I prefer to dress like everyone else so I can just slip through the world un-noticed. But fundamentally I'm so opposed to doing anything just because "you're supposed to", because society has some fucking retarded ideas.

So I cling to the TV-bed as my fuck-you to what I'm supposed to do. It's the only way that my home is bohemian and free the way I really want it to be.

You want a hot tub in your living room? Great, sounds fun. You want a pile of bean-bags and throw pillows? Cool. You want to just draw on your walls with markers? Yeah. God everyone's home is so fucking boring, oo you're so good at copying the fucking magazines.

I realized there's a challenge/filter aspect as well. I like the idea of freaking out the uptight conformists because it lets me know right away that I don't like them. If you won't sit on my bed with me, you're no friend of mine. All through my youth I used various forms of challenge/filter. I would aggressively question people who were being irrational, and if they couldn't take the heat and stand up for their reasoning, then they're not for me. I would use curse words and mock religion. I would dress weirdly because anyone who judged me by my clothing was too superficial for me to bother with. (**)

Of course the result of all that was that hardly anybody ever passed my tests and all I did was alienate myself from society.

(** = advice to my children : don't try to be different. Nobody likes someone who's unique. Just try to fit it in, do what society wants. That doesn't mean that you have to just be a drone and conformist, but if you're going to stand out, do it in the societally approved ways. You can be a "bad boy" or a "rebel" which are totally conformist stereotypes; people like that, they want to be able to judge you and know where you fit. And it's much better for you, it will give you more friends, more lovers, more careers. Don't challenge people and be disappointed when they fail; know that everyone sucks but take what you can from interacting with them anyway).

I'm keeping my TV-bed.

10-17-13 - Drinks

I can't stand talking to sober people. Ugh, they're just so fucking boring, so phony. Oh yes everything is fine, life is great, I'm doing some home improvement and checking my property values; do you see this new gadget I bought? some horrible Hollywood move is out. Ugh. People trying ever so hard to be "clever" and "witty" and one up each other and act like we're all having such a good time. We're not.

I much prefer talking to drunk people. I like people in the "I love you man" stage of drunkenness, when you finally are allowed to touch each other (dear god, a man making physical contact with another man, we can't possibly clap each other on the back unless we're drunk or playing sports). Then a little bit of honesty starts sneaking out, you finally get to hear something more than the facade of "everything is okay". You get the "I hate my job / I'm afraid of being fired" or the "I think I hate my children" or "my wife is cheating on me and I wish I could watch" or whatever craziness. When a great song comes on will we sing along?

These days when I consider having a dinner date with another couple, part of my filter is "do they get drunk?". Will we sit around unhurriedly for a few hours and get progressively soused and finally open up and start to have fun? Because if they don't drink it's just going to be tense and awkward and boring. No thank you.

09-22-13 - The Standard Western Path to Enlightenment

The Standard Western Path to Enlightenment :

Spend your youth and early adulthood scrapping viciously in the capitalist battlefield. Lie, cheat, steal. Amass a fortune with little concern for morality. (if you're a woman, marry someone who does that).

Once you have a comfortable fortune, decide that money is not the path to happiness. "See the light" and prioritize happiness and kindness and so on. Talk a lot of shit about sustainability and inner peace and how money doesn't make you happy and blah blah.

But don't give back the fortune from your early years. Of course not. Don't actually live cheaply or minimize consumption. Talk a lot of shit about "simplifying" which just means instead of having 5 houses you have 3, and instead of wearing new fancy high heels out to restaurants, you wear designer yoga pants to your celebrity trainer private lessons.

As a life plan, it's a pretty good one. If you just immediately set out to "live well" in your youth, you'll wind up broke and struggling in your old age. If you instead go plunder and build a nest egg first, you can always "see the error of your ways" later.

I should note that this path is in no way confined to New Age hippie types. It's also a great way to go for more traditional religions. If you're going to vow chastity or piety or whatever, you should make sure to fuck a lot of whores and steal a lot of money first. See for example St. Augustine, The Buddha, GW Bush.

09-22-13 - Secular Variations

A lot of secular people know that there is something nourishing about the rhythm of certain religious practices. Part of it is just having something that you do every week (or every day) that you aren't allowed to skip. It gives you a way of marking time, and gives a pattern to your life.

Church : obviously the community aspect is vital to human existance. There aren't many other ways to get that group inclusiveness without the irrationality of faith. I guess there are some secular cult-like groups that provide something similar (AA for example) where just being "one of them" qualifies you for special friendly treatment.

The other valuable aspect of church is just being forced to sit and think once a week. It does give you a way of re-centering yourself for the next week. Even if you just sit there and ignore the nonsense coming from the pulpit, that has value. I suppose you could get that benefit by doing a weekly meditation group. But even hearing the plathitudes from the pulpit is a good thing; it's good to hear things like "be good to your fellow men" or "make sure you get a lot of poon before you marry" or "bros before hos"; it's all stuff you know, but it's easy to get the mind off lost in complications, and it helps to be reminded of the basics.

Sabbath : I had the idea a while ago to try "secular sabbath". (I think this is kind of a trend at the moment). Sabbath here refering to a Big Leboswki style "I don't roll on shabas" kind of thing, a day of rest with strict rules. Just having a day once a week when you aren't allowed to do the things you do on other days. To break up the monotony and deny yourself the easy pleasures.

My Secular Sabbath rules : no work, no computer at all, no TV, no errands, no chores. Only relaxing, hanging out with family. No working out either; you can do exercise for fun or play, but "working out" is just a form of doing work or chores. No doing anything that's on a todo list. You can : listen to music, read books, take walks, cook, go for a country drive, etc.

Anyway, we tried Secular Sabbath once and it was SO HARD. When you forbid those things, there are just so many hours in the day. It's quite a shock. I'd like to try again, but maybe we have to ease into it, like half-day sabbaths first.

Salat (Islamic five daily prayers (waqt?)) : recently I was watching some documentary about Islam, and around the same time I was thinking about how I really need to be more regulat about doing my physical therapy every day, or even twice a day. It's so hard for me to make myself stop working and just stretch for a minute; it's so easy to just decide "nah, I'll skip the stretching today and just keep coding". And it clicked that Salat must be a wonderful break to your day. It's like what I always am jealous of cigarette smokers for. Having something that just stops your other activity and makes you go outside and be quiet for a few minutes.

What if instead of praying to Mecca, you just closed your eyes and did some stretching? Actual the prostrations they do is a pretty good light stretch, that's all you need. Do some child's pose and down dogs. Five times a day at strict times, no matter what. I think that would be really good for me.

09-22-13 - Missing Out

Sometimes it strikes me that just before I was born, there was this glorious era when people believed in the power of love to change the world, did drugs and had sex, listened to music and danced. It was perhaps the greatest moment in the history of human civilization, and I just barely missed it. But then it occurred to me that even if I was alive, I surely would have missed out, been too shy, made some excuse about why the "dirty hippies" (typical jealousy turning to condescension) were no good.

In your lifetime, there will be various special moments, when certain things come together and something unusual happens, where people behave outside the norm, where people are better. Or just where opportunity and freedom suddenly appear, so people are optimistic and happy. In my life there's been the fall of the iron curtain, the opening of southeast asia, freedom in Spain. That's the place to be, when something big like that happens, you need to go be a part of it!

If you hear about something great happening in the world, or if you go visit someplace and you're like YES! this is it for me, this is living! and you pack up your life and you go for it - good for you, you're doing it right. If you just go "oh well" and go back to your normal humdrum life, you're a pathetic coward, you may as well just kill yourself now because you're not alive.

09-22-13 - Asceticism

Some of the happiest times in my life (ruling out major events like meeting a new lover or having a baby or things like that; considering only times when no major event was happening) have been when I've gone semi-ascetic. That is, cutting out sugar, alcohol, TV, internet browsing, porn - all those easy pleasures that are sort of destructive for the soul and just ways to get a little bump and waste time.

Certainly things like sugar & alcohol are just poisons for the body, and when you eliminate them your body feels better and you have more energy all the time, so part of the happiness is from that. And if you eliminate things like TV and interent browsing, you're forced to do more substantial activities for pleasure like meeting new people and getting out of the house and so on, so part of the happiness is from that.

But I think a major aspect of it is human happiness renormalization.

If you allow yourself to have these "bumps" of very high pleasure from sugar, alcohol, drugs, porn, lolcats, whatever, then in comparison everything else feels pretty awful. You can fall into this mindset that "life sucks, except for the bumps".

If you cut out all those highs, at first you're just miserable for a while, but then your brain renormalizes, and lots of little things become pleasurable. Reading a book, watching the sunrise, the feel of cloth on your skin, taking a walk. Suddenly those things are very high pleasures, because you're not allowing yourself anything higher.

I suspect that if you went fully ascetic like a monk and ruled out sex and ate only rice, and forced yourself to do something deeply miserable like meditate for two hours a day (there's almost nothing in life that's more painful than meditation), then in contrast just sitting and talking to someone would be an ecstatic pleasurable experience, and you would be constantly full of joy like the Dalai Fucking Lama.

The closest experience I have is backpacking, which makes returning to hot food and a comfy bed so magical and amazing. Asceticism is a bit like backpacking every day; it makes ordinary life magical and amazing.

08-31-13 - I epic fail at life

I've always wanted to be a person who focused on quality of life rather than money or career. I always thought that if I wound up having good relationships, good sex, good friendships, lots of exercise and adventures, that it would be totally fine if I was broke, if I had no measurable "success".

(I suppose this was all a counter-reaction to my early life when I was deeply focused on "success"; not financially, but in the intellectual world; I wanted to do physics and discover a new law, or something like that that was a real achievement, to do something concrete and measurable with my intellect that the world could see and praise me for. Once I gave up on that and became disillusioned with that whole ambition I started prioritizing "life" instead.)

Pursuant to QOL, I specifically chose not to take higher paying jobs at places that I thought were kind of soul crushing, like wall street or google; I chose not to pursue the executive path when that was an option to me; I chose not to do various startups that I knew would consume my life.

Those would have been fine choices if I had actually pursued QOL. But I didn't. I just worked. Doing jobs that were supposedly less stressful or more rewarding and would allow me more time and energy to focus on the things that mattered - I still just worked.

I've wound up not doing any work that is either very exciting, very significant, or very lucrative. I've also wound up not really making my life better, putting the time in to working on myself and establishing new better patterns of living.

I still have absolutely no clue how I fit into this horrible world, what I should be doing with myself, or what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I still wake up every morning feeling like I'm about to spend my day in a way that is not what I really should be doing with myself. I suppose I'm somewhat less desperate and depressed about that fact than when I was younger, but I think that's just the sweet apathy and surrender of old age. I am more at peace, which is good, but it's the peace of giving up.

Of course, that said, like most of these issues where I'm being hard on myself, I'm still better than 99% of you. I see all these people around me living pathetic unfulfilled lives, not doing anything positive with themselves at all, just basically ticking off the days until they die, and they can't even admit to themselves that they want something more.

ADD : I don't mean that I haven't chosen jobs that were interesting; but it's on a level of being mildly pleasant. It's not deeply satisfying. And of course I do put life first in little small ways on a regular basis, but not in the big way that I really need.

It would have been so much better if I would have just gone all out and done crazy hard work at something I really believed in, and not even tried to have a life during that time. (because work and life has never really worked out for me). And then at another time I should have just stopped working and really focused on making my life better. Instead I half-assed both all the time and didn't really do either.

ADD : All my life I've looked around and seen these pathetic men living generic suburban lives; go to work, dress like a shlub, don't speak up, don't do much, don't stand out, don't pursue any big pleasures or do anything interesting. I thought, god how awful, how boring, how cowardly. And here I am.

08-29-13 - Baby baby baby

I backed our car into our stroller last week. I felt like a real dad.

Baby is starting to entertain herself more. She's learning to grab at things, so we can put some objects in front of her and she'll flail her zombie-like arms at them for a while. She concentrates so hard, trying to get her hands to do what she wants. Thank god for small bits of relief. It's so damn exhausting playing with her. The first ten minutes are great fun, but then it just keeps going, and going, and going.

My sister is visiting with her toddler-age kids. Holy shit what a handful they are. On the one hand, I prefer playing in the yard and such activities over constantly walking baby around, but on the other hand they are just so chaotic. The standard idea that you take the kids to the park to "tire them out" seems counterproductive to me; we ran around for hours (or rather they ran around and I sat and watched) and I got tired out, and they were just ready for more destruction.

Baby laughed out loud for the first time recently. Sometimes she's just so happy, it's like impossible not feel good, even when you're exhausted and pissed off. Sometimes when she sees me she bursts into this huge smile and is so happy that her limbs just shoot out, and that delays my suicide plans for another day.

I diminished my child for the first time recently. Surely not the last time. I really don't want to do that.

We went to this party for new parents (a sort of masochistic exercise in awkwardness) in PEPS. Baby Bloom was just doing her usual routine, standing and proto-walking and waving her arms around, being super alert. Seeing the other babies made me aware how unusual she is; they all just chill out and sit in their parents arms with a glazed look on their eyes; BB is constantly active needing stimulation, almost never calm. Anyway, the other asshole parents see BB walking and interacting and they get all competitive, they start standing up their wobbly babies or putting them on the tummy and saying "my baby is almost crawling" blah blah. Jesus christ you assholes, the babies are not competing, they are innocent, they're just being themselves, don't put your fucking low self esteem issues on your child already.

(I'm as uptight as the next person, but one thing I have never tolerated is adults putting their shit onto children. Both the parents and 3rd parties. For example castigating them when they aren't doing anything wrong. Like if you set up a picnic in a park and some kids run around disturb you and you're like "fucking kids" , WTF you're in a park, it's a perfectly valid place for kids to go nuts, you are scum. A few months ago we stopped at some road-side place, and there was a line for the bathroom because a young kid was going and taking a long time, and some asshole adult was complaining about how long he was talking; jesus christ the kid is barely potty trained, you should be stabbed in the nuts.)

So anyway, with the new parents getting all intimidated by BB, I just reflexively diminished her. I spit out something like "oh, it's just instinct, she doesn't know what she's doing [talking about her walking]; and she's just terrible at tummy time" and "oh, it's really a curse, she just never chills out and sits still", trying to downplay her amazingness. It's just automatic for me to do that; I've been diminishing myself for most of my life, trying to fit in, not seem too cocky, pretending that I don't actually know everything about everything and that I'm not better at almost everything than almost everyone.

Well fuck, I don't want to do that to my child. I've been trying very actively from the beginning to not push her to learn anything, to not measure her progress or know where she is developmentally or where she's supposed to be. I just want her to be herself and do what she can do without feeling judged about it. But she's amazing and if you're intimidated by that you can go commiserate with the other losers who will inevitably team up against us and put us down behind our back to make themselves feel better.

(and the whole idea that your baby should be precocious and advanced is so retarded. Let the baby take its time learning things and experience each phase of life. Walking or talking early or whatever it is they're obsessed about is not going to make your child happier or more successful. As someone who progressed through everything in life very quickly let me tell you, it's not an advantage.)

In other news...

I love having a crying baby. When she's really bawling, I like to take her out in the yard or take her on a walk. I feel none of that mortification that I'm disturbing anyone, that I have to hide my baby away. I mean, I wouldn't take her to a fancy restaurant or a movie (wtf are some of your parents thinking?), but around the neighborhood, hell yeah I get to make some noise for once and I don't feel bad about it at all. I've been listening to your fucking lawnmowers, weed-whackers, pressure washers, constant home-improving, car alarms because you're too fucking incompetent to get in your own vehicle without setting it off, car locks that go beep or honk, unmuffled motorcycles, cell phone conversations outdoors, fucking bluetooth conversations in restaurants and elevators. All you fuckers can listen to my crying baby now. She's just being a natural baby, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Suck it.

Our homestead is pretty high maintenance; between the chickens, the cats, the big yard, the aging house, there's several hours of work to do every day. Before baby it was kind of fun. You've got to do something with your day, it's nice to just walk around the home and do some chores, I was enjoying it. Now that baby is here it seems like a huge fucking pain in the ass and a terrible situation. I have no hours to spare and no energy for the homestead maintenance, so instead of being a pleasant way to spend the twilight hours it has become another "todo" that I have to rush to get done and cram in between RAD work and baby work.

I'm in serious danger of becoming Dicky Boss about baby. Sometimes I'll work all day, then go into the house in the evening and find baby crying, and I swoop in to "do things better". What a Dicky Boss. Dicky Boss is totally uninvolved in the day to day operation of the company; they're off directing the construction of their Zen-style retreat using company money. But Dicky Boss loves to show up randomly and get in everyone's business and randomize them. You can't ever appear to be resting when DB comes around. It's classic in the restaurant business; a smart restaurant employee knows there are crazy rushes at certain times, so part of your job is actually to rest between those rushes so that you will be fresh. But oh, no, not when DB shows up, "what am I paying you for? go fill the ketchups". One of the classic stupid moves of DB is to be overly perfectionistic. They'll see something that's not perfect and tell someone to fix it. (and then they'll complain to their peers about how nobody at the company has the sense to just do things right, that they have to personally show up to point things out). In fact all they did was make people waste time on some unimportant detail that took time away from more important things. A smart worker knows that you can't perfect everything, so it's actually good practice to not worry too much about everything. In fact at many companies I worked at (particularly 3rd party game companies when the publisher decides to pay a visit), we would be so prone to DB randomization that we would completely hide what we were really working on and show them some earlier level that we had already polished so that they couldn't get their mits into anything too important. It was all a bit like when a Soviet Apparatchik would pay a visit to a coal mine, we'd grab a bunch of rocks and paint them black, put up some movie-set false building fronts to make everything look better. Anyway. Some imperfection is actually correct. You can't be busting your ass constantly. Those of us prone to Dicky Bossness need to just let the workers do their work. (*)

(* = on the other hand, being a Dicky Boss does make people work harder. It's a lot like the way that nagging and just generally being a pain in the ass does (sadly) work. Your employees might hate you, but they will do what it takes to placate you, just to make you shut up and go away. Whereas if you are nice and chill and let them work the way they want to, they will in fact slack off and do shittier work. For example if you hire some home-improvement contractor guys, you will in fact get better work if you are in their face every day monitoring what they're doing. Sad Facts of Life : being dicky is in fact rewarded.)

I'm also in danger of using job work to avoid family work. That's something that I always swore I would never do; I guess because my dad did it, and I've seen so many other dads that I've worked with do it, and I always thought it was so sleazy. But it's hard to resist. When you're at the office you know you could go home and have to deal with a crying baby and help clean and everything else, or you could just hang out at the office a little longer "working". Of course you do. The home office is a mixed blessing in this respect; on the one hand it means I'm at home so I can help out and I haven't completely fled the scene; on the other hand it makes it really easy to just pop out to the home office for some "work" when I can't handle the baby work any more. I've got to be strong and resist this.

08-24-13 - I miss (some things about) being single

Well, no actually I don't miss it at all. And it's not that I miss fucking around or having my freedom or any of that cliche crap; I love my wife and love being with her every day. In fact oddly what I miss about being single is that it's so very awful.

When I was single I hated it so much that I was very motivated to not be single any more. That motivation was a force that has no equal in my life. It would make me do things that are almost incomprehinsible to me now, like approach strangers on the street, or go to social events where I knew noone and actually mingle and meet people. I hate that stuff so very much and it takes a huge force of will to put me into the mindset where I can do it, that only the sheer desperation of needing to not be single any more could make me do it.

I also realized at some point in my life that the best way to make yourself attractive as a single man is not to do the retarded things that most people do (work out, buy new clothes, buy cars, lol) - it's to have a good life. If you meet a girl and she comes into your life and you're doing exciting things and hanging with friends and you know the secret spots and are a regular at the cool places, that's a life she wants to be a part of. If you meet a girl and you don't know anyone fun and you stay home all the time and are generally a loser, of course she doesn't want to be in that life.

So that would make me try to have the life that I thought I should when I was single. I would try to hang out with friends, go out more, be involved in the community and what the hip kids are doing and talking about and all that.

The weird thing is I hate all that stuff and think it's so vapid and pointless, and as soon as I don't have to do it any more I want to stop doing it, but I think I am more happy when I'm doing them.

(maybe that happiness was an illusion though; it could just be because it's unusual for me, if I actually lived like that long term the happiness would go away; it could also just be the shallow happiness of social approval, feeling like you're doing what you're supposed to be doing in society; "oh yes I am being so successful at living, look at me, what a good job I'm doing"; I suppose most happiness comes from feeling that you are doing something that leads you towards a better life, it's not actually that you like those activities better)

To some extent it's that human happiness is based on a differential. So if you are basically content, then you will be unhappy because things aren't getting better. But if you are deeply miserable (eg. single) then there will be lots of moments where you think things are getting better ("I met someone great! maybe it will work out with her!" or just "I have cool friends and hobbies! I'm so desirable now, great life will be mine!") that give you hope and that makes you happy.

There are some other odd things I miss. Like being single gives you motivation to work out, shower, brush your teeth, dress well. When you're not single all those things just feel like chores, there's no reward for them, there's no positive feedback. You have to just do them because they're obligatory, and that's just wearying.

(I don't understand people who are married and still trying so hard to impress society; your self-esteem must be just awful. You see these couples that are dressing all hip and following all the trends, riding their kids around on their bike and making their sustainable home with reclaimed furniture; oh la di da we're all so impressed at how trendy you are; no we're not, your need to fit in and get approval is pathetic. That's what you do when you're in your twenties and trying to get laid, not when you're married and old. You wear sweat pants now.)

I miss the added value. There are so many things in life that are just not that great, and really not worth doing without the possibility of meeting someone. Certainly things like going out to bars and clubs, but even just walking around the city, going out to restaurants, going to coffee shops. If you're just doing it for what they sell, WTF are you thinking, it's awful, what a waste of time and money. It's only if you can flirt a bit, possibly meet someone, that makes it worth going out to public places. Even if it's only one in a hundred times, that little bit of added value pushes it over the edge from "not worth doing" to "hell I guess I have to get out of the house and meet people somehow".

I miss the way that when I was single I would try to make myself a better person, so that if I did meet someone special I would be good enough for them. I would try to be nicer and more open and more friendly and all those things that are hard for me. It was rewarding, and I liked who I was, but it's also just so exhausting that I can't keep it up without that motivation.

A very typical case is music. I used to spend lots of time following new music, local bands, checking out new things, going to shows. Part of it was because I liked music, but a lot of it when you're young is because music is a kind of identity, it's a lot like clothing, it's a way of showing your personality to the world, it's a way of defining your social group. Knowing the right bands gives you "cool cred". (I get the impression this is not quite so much the case with today's youth as it was in my generation, where grunge vs slowcore vs punk vs new wave was the most important aspect of defining the social cliques). Once you get older you realize that's all so incredibly retarded and shallow, so you stop making all that effort to impress other people. But I do miss being up on new music and listening to new things and so on.

I guess in some ways it's similar to the times in my life that I've decided I need to cut out all the simple pleasures that I believe are quite harmful to me (computers, TV, alcohol). If you forbid yourself from those things, then when you get to the end of the work day you're faced with this interminable evening and the quandary of WTF DO I DO !? You become so miserable that you get crazed and motivated to really do something new with your life, get out of the house, try something fun. It's so awful, but probably actually better for me.

08-16-13 - PM

Is the type of person who will shake your hand
And look deep into your eyes
And be all nice and friendly with you
Just so they can learn about your weaknesses
To use them against you.

A producer is the type of person who, when one person on the team does something that's vaguely against policy (but is fucking irrelevant so they should really just do nothing), rather than just talk to that person about directly and nicely, will send out an email to the entire team saying "Just a friendly reminder about our company policy, blah blah blah".

08-16-13 - Daily Misanthropy

Ugh. I know I would be so much happier if I would stop hating everyone in the world every day. I really hate to go to that dark place in my mind, it's very unpleasant for me, but I just don't see how I can not go there when I go out in the world and see the way that humans are. I'm not even talking about the deeply selfish rotten things that people do on a daily basis (like voting Republican). I'm talking about just the way people act in normal life every day.

Walking baby around the neighborhood, there are cars not stopping for the stroller. There are people walking dogs who let their dogs come right up to the stroller; WTF you asshole keep your fucking animal away from my child. There are people who have gone to work and left their dog in the yard to bark at the neighborhood all day, and people with their dogs running around off-leash who yell "stay!" and the dog completely ignores them and they laugh "ha ha he never does listen".

There are people at the grocery store leaving their cart in the middle of the aisle, people who push my cart from the edge of the aisle into the middle and then just leave it there without saying anything. There are people who pull out into the intersection and block traffic when there's a pedestrian crossing. You're all just so rotten, how can I not hate you?

The only solution I've found is just to not go out in the world. Or to go out only in very careful ways where I am more likely to be around decent human beings.

Lately I've been taking the light rail into the city once a week for a physical therapy appointment. It reminds me that I miss the city; it's fun to do something "urban". I love being on the crowded streets, walking around seeing all the people, how kids dress these days, the little random interactions. I love that little bit of exercise from walking places and short bike rides. It's nice to move outside of a car.

But the light rail makes me so depressed every time I ride it.

There are always a ton of people sitting in the double seats who put their purse or whatever in the seat next to them, or sit on the outside of the two seats. You fucking assholes. You're scum, you should just be immediately shot in the head for that. There's no excuse. You are intentionally preying on the fact that you know most people are such pussies that they won't ask you to move over, and for that you should die.

(I know there's a very popular "realist" attitude in the nerd community these days; that if the world lets me get away with this, I should do it. Fuck you.)

And then there are all the people who stand, looking at the seat wistfully, and don't do anything. WTF is wrong with you? All you have to do is ask them to move and they will. Don't let them get away with it! Fucking take that seat, you're so pathetic! I don't sentence you to death, but I do banish you to Pussy Island where you can hang out with all the other meek people not ever saying anything you want to each other.

And then there's me, sitting there feeling loathing for the previous two groups, getting myself all angry and depressed over nothing. Perhaps I'm the worst of the three. Sometimes I will ask someone to scoot over so that I can sit down, not because I actually want to sit there, but just because that fucker is not going to get away with it on my watch! How pathetic that my behavior is based on policing the world and not what I actually want.

08-15-13 - Mistaken Missing

I find myself recently often thinking wistfully of this time in my past.

One summer I spent in Texas - I guess it was actually after I quit grad school, after I came back to Austin to work at Eclipse and then quit Eclipse because they were going under - it was the first time in my life as an adult that I had nothing to do. Every summer in college I worked a computer job; I made enough money in those summers to pay my way through the college year (I generally lived on about $20k a year, which seemed like plenty to me at the time). In hindsight I wish I'd taken those summers off to do something other than work, but anyway.

So that summer for the first time in my life I had no job and no school. It was a hot Texas summer as always. Some days I would ride my bike over to Zilker and swim in the cold springs a bit. Most days I would just go up the road to the little local neighborhood pool. (Austin, like many cities in the US, has a great network of public pools built back in the ancient days when our government actually did good for its populace). I would lay in the sun, swim a bit, lay in the sun some more, read some books. In my memory I can feel the pressure of the sun on my skin; the beads of sweat slowly forming, getting bigger and bigger and then suddenly running down my side. My company at the pool was typically a gaggle of chattering moms; they would sit on the hillside and watch their kids swim and I would lay a little ways off.

In my memory there's a great feeling of repose. That there's nothing to do in this life, no reason to get up, so just lay there. There's a great stillness, heavy summer air, slowly slipping into the water like a crocodile.

But that's not right at all. I was actually deeply depressed at the time. I was aimless and alone; my mind was frantic, going in circles all the time; what do I do with my life? my god where do I go from here? I hate my friends, I have no women in my life, I hate who I am as a person, I'm completely isolated, I kind of hate software jobs, I guess I'm not going to do physics, good god I need to do something to shake this up, I need to make a big change but I don't know what, I need to stop lying around all day.

But in my memory I block out all of that and I only see the moments of lying around, feeling like there's nothing else to do in the world, and it feels sweet. I guess I'm stressed out at the moment and feel like there's way too much that I need to be doing all the time.

08-01-13 - Self

Listen up, Self, we need to have a difficult conversation. I know this will be hard to hear, but if we're going to get along for the next 50 years, we've got to get this out in the open. I've got a lot of problems with my relationship with you; I'd like to get along with you, you're me, but it's been hard for me for a while. I'm going to tell you some bad things about you, and I want you to try not to get offended and hurt and just close off about it, please try to listen and respect my feelings, for us.

You treat everyone like a child. You're always condescending and pedantic, you're constantly teaching. You think you're so damn smart and you have so much to teach everyone. It's hard for you to even engage with people in any other way. It's particularly embarassing for you when you go off on a lecture about things you really are quite wrong about. It also is connected to the next one -

You're terrified of being seen to be wrong. You have this image of yourself as being so right all the time and everyone respecting you for it (they don't), that you hate to have that bubble burst. It makes you really stiff and tense all the time. If you would just be more humble and not act so sure all the time, maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal when you're wrong about something, you could just brush it off.

You never really listen. You have your own pre-conceived ideas and you're so set on them. You pop into the conversation to share your "wisdom" and then you shut down and don't really pay attention when other people are talking. If you would listen for once you might find that other people are saying interesting things. Your life might be better if you opened up to what others had to contribute. Maybe you could learn something.

You've created a very safe little isolated life for yourself. You don't put yourself in any situations where you might be uncomfortable. You don't push yourself to get better, to try new things, to meet new people. You lie to yourself and tell you that the things you have are the only things you want, that the life you don't have that other people have is shit.

You're incredibly hypocritical about money. You act like you aren't motivated by it, but really why would you have your career path if it wasn't a major factor to you? You act like you're so moral, like you're staunchly anti-patent, but in reality if someone offered you a huge pile of cash to patent something, you would take it. And then you would make up some reasons why it was okay.

You're extremely inflexible. You're basically just not fun. If someone else wants to do something beautiful and fun, you're likely to shut it down, waa I don't want to do that, hmm not now I don't feel good, oh that's not very good is it. What a bummer you are. Of course nobody wants to invite you to do fun things; you're a bummer!

You get along poorly with anyone you consider a peer or competition. In a group of adults and children, you're way more open with the children. I suppose it's that your ego is so fragile, you don't like to be around anyone who could challenge you, or anyone whose opinion matters to you, because it might not be good and then your fragile illusion would come crashing down. All adult males you can't really open up to or be natural.

You're not really emotionally honest with anyone in your life. Maybe your wife, a little bit, but that's it. All your other interactions are completely superficial and phony.

You're much nicer to hot women than you are to any other adult. It's completely obvious to any observer and pretty tacky. What's so sad about it is that you're not really even flirting; your base level of niceness is so low that when you ratchet it up for pretty girls you just get to a normal level of niceness. You really should be that nice to everyone all the time.

You've done okay in your life, but not through any initiative or boldness; you've never gone after your dreams or taken any risks. You preach about being responsible and providing for your family and blah blah, but those are really just excuses because you're afraid to really change your job or try something adventurous.

05-22-13 - A Sad Change in Nerd-dom

In the last 10 years or so I've witnessed a transformation of many of my nerd friends which makes me sad.

Ten years ago I had a lot of peers that were shy, dorky, a bit naive, really "uncool" in larger society - but they were earnest, super sweet, straightforward. I thought they were wonderful, innocents in a way, not playing the games that you need to play to get ahead in the real world. They thought you could approach girls by just being honestly interested (or they were too scared to approach at all); they thought that if you worked hard for your employer, your employer would treat you well. I'm sure they were frustrated and miserable but they were fundamentally good people that I would have no qualms about recommending to someone else.

In the last ten years almost all of my sweet, earnest dorky friends have disappeared. They've become people who are much cleverer about the way the world really works. Some of them have actively studied PUA, others have just suffered enough injustice from employers and the shitty world that they started being more self-protective and watching out for their own best interests. They've all lost that open straightforward look in their eyes, and it's been replaced by a more calculating "what can I get for myself out of this situation".

I'm sure they are much more "successful" now (measured in a shallow physical way), and probably just happier, but to me it's a sad change.

It is brutally hard to be idealistic. You watch everyone around you be super shitty to eachother all the time, and some of the shittiest most selfish people are greatly successful because of it. You feel really dumb about being idealistic when there seems to be no reward in the real world. But just because it's hard and painful doesn't mean you stop doing it; many of the best things in life are hard and painful.

In general in nerd-dom there has been an adoption of "realism" in the last 10 years, and I think it sucks. (realism in the 1960's Rand corporation sense)

Nerds now look at the world around them and think, how can I use my brain to get the riches of life. I felt like in my youth nerd-dom was very idealistic; the goal was not riches, it was making a great discovery, which you would of course share with the world for free because discoveries are not owned by anyone; using tricks to seduce women or make advantageous business contracts was simply not in the nerd's reach, and considered to be part of the scummy non-nerd world. That's all gone and now nerds are only interested in using their abilities to climb the same stupid ladder as the normals.

I certainly have had my own dabbles with realism. At some point you get frustrated, seeing all these asshole normals around you being so "successful", and you decide you want the things that they are able to get, and you use the only asset that you have as a nerd (your brain) to figure out how to get it. And it works. But I don't believe that it's a good way to live. Being self-interested and acting in a way that maximizes your own return is fundamentally a shallow, lonely, cold way to live. It's not admirable, in fact it's rather despicable.

There is a middle ground, which I am striving for these days. It's to try to be the person that you want to be, to act as if the world was the way you wish it would be, but also to be aware of how the world really works and don't put yourself in situations where the logical disconnect between reality and your ideal are too great. That is, seek out situations where being your ideal self is not too big of a penalty; eg. if you're considering two jobs, and in one of them you would really have to be a big political backstabber to get ahead, and the appearance of working hard would be rewarded more than actual good work - then don't choose that job, even if it might be better for you if you did play the game.

04-03-13 - Sad Facts of Life

Gathering of some sadness.

1. I went to sit at my kitchen table a while ago, and saw all the seats were taken by cats. One of our cats, "Kitten", is totally chill and easy going and lets you do anything to her and still just purrs about it. One of our cats, "Chi Chi", is crazy and mean and hisses about everything. So of course I immediately just dumped Kitten on the floor and sat in that chair, without thinking about it. But then it occurred to me that what I was doing was rewarding bad behavior. You just automatically give the shit jobs to the people who don't complain and just take it. People who are big whiners and grumble about everything in fact are allowed to slack. Really it should be the other way around, they should be *punished* for being such annoying bitches, and the sweet ones who don't complain should be rewarded, but that's not how life works.

2. People who pretend to work hard are rewarded for it. People who just quietly do a great job are not. Or even if we do realize that and compensate for it, it's not nearly enough. Certainly I have fallen prey to this in a lead position; you might know in the back of your head that this guy on your team who's putting in tons of hours and constantly complaining about how hard he's working isn't actually getting much done; he's spending all his time walking around the office telling everyone how hard he's crunching, and when he does sit at his computer he's on message boards. But it still gets in your head that "X is working hard". Even if you do try to compensate people fairly, it should be something like a 10X difference in pay, and the harder worker should get lots of time off, but it's not remotely close to that. The fact of life is that it pays off massively to spend time at the office not working, and to constantly grumble about how hard your job is.

3. It's almost impossible to get fired for just being really shit at your job. This hit me when watching Top Chef. Nobody is ever eliminated for just making really boring simple food, or even just for making food that's not as good as the others. It's always for some dumb specific thing, like you didn't get X on the plate or whatever. Judges, bosses, etc. are not very good at evaluating a whole package with all it's pros and cons and going "this one is better than that". They like to have on specific obvious fault to latch onto. People get fired for being late to work, or specifically not doing some task they were told to do, or coming to work drunk. People never get fired just for doing really shitty low quality work all the time, if they are smart enough to put their effort into not making those obvious fireable offenses. Certainly at large companies you can skate by as a programmer at a microscopic productivity level as long as you do the things you are specifically told to do (and maybe crunch a tiny bit right before annual reviews).

4. True kindness is never rewarded; superficial niceness is massively rewarded. If you are kind of a gruff asshole, but occasionally do really self-sacrificing things that help someone in a substantial way, give of your time and inconvenience yourself - noone will care, you won't be rewarded for it. Conversely, you can never do anything seriously helpful for anyone, but if you smile and make chitchat and occasionally flatter them, people will like you and treat you well and do favors for you. Life lesson : be nice, not kind.

5. Nagging works superbly, especially on people like me. Be it in home life, or producers at work, or fucking web sites that want me to sign up and throws a popup at me every time, I just want the damn pestering to go away, and the only option is to let them win, give them what they want.

6. People are constantly trying to "get one over on you". They're just looking to see what you'll let them get away with. The simplest case is little shit like cutting in line, or grabbing the last of something they know you want. They are totally cowardly about it, they don't look you in the eye and take it from you, they try to act like they aren't doing anything wrong, and if you don't call them on it, then they're so proud of themselves for getting away with it. If you do just say "excuse me" they'll act all apologetic; they're just trying to see what they can easily get away with.

A lot of neighbors are shit-heads like this. They'll start mowing the lawn six inches across the property line, and will eventually take it unless you go out and yell at them. They'll do things that they completely know is an asshole move, like they'll put their stinking compost pile right on their property line next to your patio. They're just trying to get away with it and see if you let them. If you say something they apologize and move it, and then a few weeks later they'll try to get away with some other tacky shit that they know full well is wrong. I see a lot of forums on the web where people are like "I blast my music all night long and none of the neighbors complain so I assume it's fine". You're a fucker. You know full well that it bothers them, and just because they let you get away with it doesn't mean you should.

Of course this is the entire modus operandi of salesmen. A lot of places, like jewellery stores, or persian rugs, will initially give you a price that's just totally ridiculous. That price is an insult, it's the sucker price, but they're just trying to see if you're cowardly enough to let them get away with it. All you have to do is go "lol, try again" and they'll give up the charade (but they'll try again at the end when they slip in the service plan or the doc fee or whatever).

Lots of employees are like this. They will progressively do less and less work, and do it shittier and shittier until you call them on it. They think they're so smart "zomg I can hardly work and nobody calls me on it". You're not smart, you're a fucker, you're stealing from someone who is trusting you.

The next level, which salesmen and realtors and business people are masters of, is to act like your friend while they try to get away with something. The really clever ones set it up so that it seems like their way is just the natural way to go, and if you want to stop it you have to act like a big jerk. For example, super sleazy and common business tactic : just start doing your plan without getting it okayed, then act like it was a collaboration and it's going great and you're good pals with the opposition. This makes it very easy to just go along with it, and makes it a really big deal to stop it.

It's all sort of like a pet that wants to eat off your dinner plate. They aren't actually aggressively coming after you, they're just looking to see if you'll let them get away with it easily. You just have to give them a whack in the nose once in a while to remind them that you aren't letting them get one by you.

You have to have your defenses constantly up in this life. Nobody will just treat you fairly out of the goodness of their heart. They will lie and cheat and steal from you if you let them.

7. What you have to do to be treated decently. So sad but true. If you want a customer service person, or a contractor, or a cop, or really anyone to just treat you fairly and have some reasonable consideration for you as a human being - you have to pull some kind of move. There are two options that both work. One is to yell or cry and make a big scene. The other is to shmooze a bit and try to make some kind of connection, call them by their name, tell a joke, or give them a little story about yourself, so they will see you as a human being and treat you decently. While this is true, and it's certainly wise to take advantage of it, how fucking shitty is that. The underlying thing that makes this wise and true is that if you *don't* tell someone a funny story then they will treat you like shit and fuck you over.

8. To some extent the whole idea of peaceful civilization is a myth. We're all at war with each other. Your government is trying to fuck you, large corporations are trying to fuck you, your neighbors and co-workers are trying to fuck you. Your "friends" are not your friends when it comes down to what matters. As long as nothing is at stake, then fine you're friendly, but if you're both competing for the same job or the same woman, then suddenly they're telling lies about you behind your back. Your boss who's your "friend" is paying you half what you're worth because you're too young to know better, while smiling to your face.

I grew up believing that all humans should be treated fairly, and while I should do well for myself I should never do it by taking unfair advantage or hurting others. LOL. It's taken me many years of great pain to see that almost noone else feels that way. I would watch as people did unbelievably rotten things to me and it just broke my heart; I'm a human being, why would ever intentionally hurt another human being, especially when the benefit to you is so small? I just don't undertand it, but such is life.

To some extent "the rule of law" is just a form of combat that was created by the powerful who control the law, and the rich who can buy good lawyers. It's a way of making the battle between humans into a form that they can win. (People who's main strength is fist-fighting are really unfairly marginalized by our modern society, which was set up by a bunch of pansie-ass European aristocrat weaklings).

One of the scummiest myths of civilization is that we are rational human being who can "talk out our problems". Perhaps a separate post on this.

9. The horrible level of male conversation. The way men talk to each other is so revolting. It's always in this sort of shallow macho level, semi-jokey, never showing any humility or admitting any weakness. Obviously auto mechanics and construction workers are on that sort of locker-room grunt-grunt conversation level, but even programmers are usually stuck in the "fishing story" level. Like "lasy year I had to fix a bug where the system software had an internal memory trash" , and someone else will be like "well I had to printf-debug on a punch card machine" , err grunt-grunt.

10. The inability to ever have a deep conversation. Perhaps a separate post on this.

I've always been super-opposed to all these tricks, to the point of self-sabotage. I believe that people should be treated well whether or not they tell a funny story. Because of that I would *not* try to shmooze the rental car agent, because I wanted them to treat me like a decent human being without me tricking them. Of course that doesn't work.

The game of life is disgusting and sleazy and broken, but you can't choose not to play it. It's like if you wanted to be a professional soccer forward and you didn't take dives for fake penalties. You just can't do it, nobody would give you a spot on a team because you wouldn't make enough points. By being "clean" and not taking advantage of the sleazy ways of getting ahead, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage so severe that you just can't win.

02-25-13 - Random Unconnected Thoughts on Exercise

Some things I've been thinking about for a while. I got motivated to write because of Thatcher.

O. It's really hard to put in a hard workout as an adult. I'm not trying to look good anymore, and it doesn't really feel physically pleasurable the way it used to, I don't get an exciting "pump" or a good rush, I just feel tired and sore. It's pure willpower now, I work out because I know I have to in order to feel like a decent human being, it's like taking my medicine. But I guess almost everything in life is like that as you get older, you know what you have to do, you just suck it up and do it, you're an adult.

It's really hard for me to put in a good workout without either sex or rage. When you're a teenage male, you divert a lot of that excess sexual energy into workouts. Part of it is a subconscious belief that the girls are going to love you if you just get muscley (which is mostly absurd, partly true, but certainly not a good return on your time invested), but more than that it's just a good use of all that physical energy, and it makes your body feel great which you can appreciate because of the constant sex drive.

I also used to be constantly full of rage. I was mad at everyone and everything all the time, and one of the better outlets for that rage was to do pushups. Now that rage is mostly gone from my life; when my nominal friends make snide off hand put-downs, I just get depressed now, not angry. In many ways anger was good, it gives you energy, it fires you up to go fight or exercise or write or change the world. Our modern society is so anti-anger, it wants to strip the power and virility from men, and that doesn't always feel great. In any case, it makes getting fired up for a hard workout much harder.

O. When I was in college I had the great opportunity to workout with some friends; we were pretty close and able to do the whole yelling at each other in the gym thing. It was fantastic; stuff like "get hype! one more, this is pussy weight, you got it!". When you're lifting and some dude is cursing at you, it sort of fills you with rage for a second, like fuck you shut up you asshole I'm lifting here, and that rage is great for giving you a boost of energy to finish the rep. I miss it and thank you guys.

O. I suspect that part of the reason I have so many injuries in shoulders and back is because of my youthful exercise program and lifestyle. I did basically no exercise through high school, and was spending tons of time on the computer, and then in college started working out and mainly did pecs & abs (pushups and crunches type stuff). The result was a disfunctional kyphotic physiology. My chest was fallen forward, and my shoulders were rounded forward so they really weren't being used right; I then did front-contracting moves that only made it worse, or at least didn't help.

If you're a young person, I highly encourage you to work now on forming a better body pattern. Life is long, but youthful body patterns are hard to break. Far too often when kids decide to get in shape they go and do bench presses and curls. If you are a typical nerdy programmer youth, what you need is to first get your functionality sorted out, do mainly back exercise and full body dynamic exercise. Swimming would be ideal. Don't start doing heavy front-body lifts until *after* your shoulders are naturally being held back. It's very tempting as a youth to focus on pecs and abs and biceps because you can make big visual gains very easily, but that's not what you need. You have to think of youth as building your foundation that you will have for the rest of your life; the growth-spurt phase for men is a unique opportunity to set up your posture and body shape, your bones and tendons will not move around very easily later on.

In the past few years I've been trying to get back into working out following my various injuries. One of my goals has been to do zero exclusively front-body exercises. No pushups or bench presses, no crunches of any kind. The backbone of my workout is dead lifts and squats (various types). I do front-body stuff only as part of full body movements (I'll do things like burpees). I try to do some back-isolation stuff too, but god that stuff feels horrible and it's hard to find good back-only moves.

Once you're older and have certain muscle firing patterns, it's incredibly hard to fix. I've been trying for 5+ years and have made only slow progress. I still can't do things like throw a ball, because as soon as I try to throw something hard my body instincitively fires the muscles in the way it learned when I was a teenager, which involves yanking my shoulder into some weird forward position that's painful now. That instinctual muscle-memory stuff is really hard to fix, so try to get it right early.

O. French fries (and potato chips) are junk food. Why exactly? What's unhealthy about french fries? Years ago people would have said "the fat"; Now people might say "the carbs"; both answers are retarded. There's nothing inherently wrong with french fries. They are a source of a large amount of empty calories. If that's what you need (eg. you just rode a stage of the TdF) then fine, eat the hell out of them. But chances are you didn't, so you don't actually need 1000 empty calories. The actual unhealthy thing about french fries is that they are just too damn delicious, which makes people eat more than they need. (and they're extremely calorie dense, so it's easy to keep eating a lot after you are actually full).

O. Ab exercise has great benefits aside from looking better. It makes you more aware of what you're eating. (exercise in general makes you less eager to overeat, but ab-consciousness even more so). It makes efficient pooping much easier, you can squeeze your body down like a tube of toothpaste. It's great for posture and takes strain off the back; proper posture comes from lengthening the front of the stomach and tucking the rib cage down. It's great for sex, both in being able to move your body and also for arousal and orgasm control. I believe that deep squatting is similar, it's great for the pelvic floor and man muscles, it makes me feel like a younger man.

O. If you're having trouble with your back squat form, do front squats. I couldn't do back squats for about 3 years and tried various other things (hacks, fronts, overhead). Now I'm finally able to do back squats again comfortably and my form is *way* better than before. Front squats make you keep your head up, your back very vertical, and your knees wide. It feels really good when you do it right. I don't think you can just add fronts to your normal back squat routine, you have to completely quit back squats for a year to reset your memory of how to do the movement.

O. I've become a believer in the benefits of "light movement" (which as an arrogant youth I mocked for its uselessness). This is not for weight loss or for muscle building (aka "body transformation"), it's just to feel better. For someone who's sort of stiff and injured and constantly in a bit of pain, it's enormously helpful. Active stretching is a great thing to do, things like yoga or even Jane Fonda era aerobics moves. My goal is to do an hour of light movement every day; I average maybe 5 minutes.

02-03-13 - Prowess

Most people misunderstand physical activity.
They see a superb kayaker and think "they must be really strong"
or if they try it themselves and struggle and get tired they think "I'm too weak".
Muscles have almost nothing to do with it.
The difference between a pro and an amateur is almost entirely
the neural pathways that subconsciously control muscle firing.
A beginner athlete is using way more force than necessary to do movements,
and is firing lots of muscles that don't actually help the movement at all,
and is even firing lots of muscles that *resist* the movement.
(one of the more extreme cases of this I've experienced is punching;
almost everyone very strongly resists their own punch; in a
straight punch like a jab the bicep should be almost completely relaxed).
A pro athlete is firing exactly the right muscles at exactly the right time,
and no other muscles. This allows them to achieve the same motion with far
less effort. In a sport that also has technique (like kayaking), it is
almost entirely the technique and the neural pathways that make the difference;
in fact you can see people who are superb at some physical task
(kayaking, tennis, whatever) and seem to be able to do it for hours
but are obviously in quite bad shape.
In fact as your technique gets better, if you want to keep getting a good work out,
you have to keep pushing yourself harder, which can be difficult mentally.

02-02-13 - I miss weird things

I miss meetings. I miss producers.

It's really hard to work with people out in the real world who haven't been in a formal work environment. Like if you're just trying to coordinate some friends to do some gardening or whatever, people who haven't gone through that office social training just don't know how to communicate about tasks. You have to be incredibly pedantic, you have to be super clear about what each person expects the other to do, what the task sequencing needs to be and where the choke points are, when you'll need help or not, etc. and they find it kind of annoying and insulting. Like any time there's an issue that everyone should agree on, you need to call a meeting and clearly explain it and the proposed solution, and get everyone to say "yep we're on the same page" then you can go do it.

People who haven't been in the formal work environment are always like "yeah yeah I know, leave me alone" but then they proceed to fuck shit up by not doing what they were supposed to in the team orders. Like you were counting on them to open the door for you before you got there carrying the bath tub, and when you arrive you find them instead washing windows and the door is closed with the bath tub in your hands, and you're like WTF and they're like "oh I thought I'd do this first". WTF if you don't follow the team orders you need to check in with the group. If you couldn't do your tasks on schedule you need to say so at assignment time, don't just let them drop.

I'm sure military guys face a similar but even greater frustration when they get back to the real world and see what a disorganized mess everyone is.

02-01-13 - Filtered Look

Morphological filtering
Works by assuming a prior model for images
that models them as mainly smooth areas and edges
they inherently remove "texture"
that is, fine detail which is not edges

most people don't seem to notice this or be bothered by it
me, I notice, and it bothers me a lot
it makes everything look a bit cartoony
or playboyish
too much edge and smooth

Of course I find myself rather alone in generally hating the overly-computer-processed look that everyone favors these days. I despise false color HDR manipulations. I vomit at all the super pumped-up contrast photos used for real estate ads. I can't stand all the weird filters used on movies these days.