Absolutes

Scientific minds try to think in absolutes whenever possible. If I do X, the result will very likely be Y. I experimented with A and the results were very most definitely B, C and D.

Cause and effect is a core, and utterly important principle.

Where humans are involved, though, I find I tend to overstep with absolutes.

Take attempted weight loss. Weight loss is simple, to loose weight the body must be at a caloric deficit. Without that deficit, you are lost. You can create a deficit in one of two ways (generally speaking):

  1. Reduce your caloric intake
  2. Increase your physical output

The required level of physical output required to tip the body into caloric deficit is generally very high (much higher than almost anyone realises) and is required on a consistent long term basis (something humans aren’t good at).

Reducing your intake is a smarter play. A little of number 2 is fine, but you’ll win or loose based on number 1 most of the time.

Relevance?

Someone was trying to loose weight, and doing a good job apparently, but they had hit a plateau.

They had a personal trainer, a gym membership, and were using both regularly.

Naturally I said to myself: “They just need to eat less. Less food, caloric deficit. Result.”

In a world of absolutes, that is true, but our world isn’t really like that when humans are part of the equation.

“No one needs to go to the gym to loose weight” I thought. “No one needs a personal trainer – what an absolute waste of money” I thought. True in absolute world, not true in this world.

A few hours later I realised I was being a twat. I’m quite familiar with this feeling.

Some people need gyms. No gym, then for them no result.

Some people need that personal trainer. No personal trainer, no result for them.

Not every human being is a calorie counting, obsessive compulsive, data driven fruit loop like myself.

My absolutes aren’t worth shit to other people. Folks figure out something that clearly works for them, and then they have minimalist douche bags telling them they don’t actually “need” whatever it is they’ve found to work for them, and that they are clearly “doing it wrong”.

A human being in a lab may be one thing, but a real person in the real world is quite another.

Speaking and thinking in absolutes just makes you (me) look like an asshole.

Crohns Disease And The Sad Train

Chronic disease can be a horrible thing.

After a while it’s not even the disease itself that is the real problem. Give it enough time and enough negativity and your mind becomes the real inglorious bastard. “I am sick” becomes your default state of mind on both good days and bad days. Welcome to the world of chronic depression.

You see it in Crohn’s groups online every day. Everyone is sad, everyone is a victim, nothing is fair.

Every day someone posts a picture of a sad kitten with sad words written over the top. Hundreds of replies follow from people who are sad too. They’re not the “supportive” kind of replies though, they’re not “Get well soon Timmy! You’re doing really great! You’ll be fine!” style ripostes.

They’re the “me too” kind of replies. Everyone throws their hat into the ring of miserableness so as not to be left out.

Let’s all be sad together, there is plenty of space on the sad train!

It pisses me off just a little bit.

“Who is this fucking guy telling me not to be sad because I have Crohn’s?!”

To simply know that you have Crohn’s means you’re incredibly likely to be the 1%. You were born into or live in an affluent country and the word is quite literally at your feet. There are millions of people on the planet that don’t have first world medical facilities and have no idea what Crohn’s even is. They’ve got it, they’ve no idea what it is and they can’t get help.

Put down your soy latte and chew on that one for a little bit brothers and sisters.

I’ve been sad before. Super sad. Super sad and super sick. There is nothing wrong with being sad, be sad.

There is everything wrong with continuing to be sad. Day in and day out, you’ve no business being sad long term.

We’re all going to get flare ups. We’re all going to have really bad days. That’s just how it has to be, normal people have terrible days too.

Normal people feel like no one understands them. Normal people think no one understands what they are going through. Millions of folks wander around suffering from clinical depression, their mind is trying to screw them over every day. Bob from down the street has problems. Your neighbor has problems. Your teacher has problems. Your physician has problems too.

The absolute cry-fest that has developed around diseases like Crohn’s does nobody any good.

If I told you today was the last day you were going to get you sure as shit wouldn’t spend it moaning about the hand you were dealt.

You’d go and be awesome.

You’d possibly get a pizza first.

(This really needed that food reference for credibility, Crohn’s “street cred” as it were)

Why Everyone Should Train In Traditional Karate

There are so many options these days.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a university (that place where you pay extortionate fees for an education you probably could have gotten from YouTube for free), or toilet paper (likely the pinnacle of human achievement thus far) – you’ve got options galore.

The fitness industry has surely reached near-complete saturation by this point – even in yoga circles there are at least a dozen options, from Bikram to Ashtanga, Hatha to.. AcroYoga?

In the “martial arts” space there are also six zillion options, and one is traditional karate. I started learning karate when I was 11 and started teaching karate a few years ago. Therefore I am naturally about to tell you why what I do is the best, and everything else is poop.

I know what you’re thinking. “Chris that sounds awesome, when do we learn the 3 finger tiger style exploding face technique?

Great question, I’m glad you asked. Let’s look at what traditional karate won’t do for you:

  1. You won’t win any medals, there aren’t any medals.
  2. You probably won’t have a heap of fun to start with, it takes a while to become masochistic enough to genuinely enjoy hours and hours (and hours) of hard physical training. Honestly though, it’s great.
  3. No one is going to be throwing high fives and “broing it up” with you after class fraternity style, it won’t happen.
  4. Your body wont cooperate, likely for years.
  5. You won’t feel like you’ve mastered much, or anything at all, 10 or even 20 years later. I certainly haven’t.
  6. Your body won’t like it – it won’t feel good and you might not feel like you’re going anywhere.
  7. You won’t become a killing machine after 5 classes. You won’t become a killing machine after 500 classes, either.

Sounds pretty great, right?

Let’s look at some less impressive stuff, here is what traditional karate will do for you:

  1. You’ll look at yourself a few years later an be blown away by how much you’ve slowly changed physically. Hard gains from hard training.
  2. You’ll learn to respect yourself, and to respect all other human beings.
  3. You’ll make better decisions in stressful situations, both physically or mentally. You’ve have likely dealt with worse on the training floor.
  4. 5 foot tall or 7 foot tall, you’ll be able to look after yourself.
  5. You’ll make as many friends as you want to make.
  6. You’ll realise that competition, improvement and success is an internal phenomenon.
  7. You’ll have started a journey that takes a lifetime to complete. Training in your 60’s is common, 70’s is common. People train traditional karate into their 80’s.

Traditional karate hasn’t changed with the times, the last thing that really changed was the belt system so that we have these funny coloured belts now (rather than just white belts and black belts). That happened bloody ages ago.

Traditional karate teaches you that you can improve your life immeasurably through the tool that is hard work. Hard work and discipline don’t seem to be particularly popular in 2017 – but I can assure you it is as worth it now as it was in the “good old days”.

I feel like I’ve really nailed this sales pitch.

Go and try traditional karate, it’s good stuff.

What I’ve Learnt From 16 Months As A Parent

It’s a surprisingly short list if you remove the mechanical elements such as changing the odd nappy.

  1. Your child is the greatest child that ever was and ever will be. All others are merely flawed imitations.
  2. Things that work for other people probably won’t work for you. Things that work for you probably won’t work for other people.
  3. 45 minute sleep cycles introduce a new, deeply enduring level of fatigue by about the second month. 80 hour working weeks are a laugh by comparison, as is sleep deprivation due to acute illness. It is a different animal.
  4. You don’t need half the shit people think you need.
  5. Second hand is better than first hand, for every reason.
  6. Having help is helpful. Hats off to single parents, they are warriors.
  7. Children are like dogs in many ways; one is that they force you to meet new people. Helpful for an introvert, and also helpful that mine is super cute. I’m the dad with the super cute daughter. Get your 16 month old to high-five or wave at a stranger and they become like putty in your hands. I’m not sure what you do with the putty, though.
  8. Those special possessions you loved when you were childless and were so proud of that you decorated your house with need to get put away. Those possessions you don’t really care about need to get put away too. Screw, lock, nail and chain anything and everything down, and don’t use 1 nail for a 2 nail job. 3 nails, minimum.
  9. Quality communication with your partner is hard when your fatigue level is pushing 11.
  10. If you genuinely try to do a good job, it’s good enough.

If I can do 16 months you sure as shit can too. A highly recommended experience.

Special thanks to my high fiving, animal loving, arm crossing, face pulling, waving, kiss blowing and truck noise making daughter.

 

Legacy

Legacy is a strange word.

To me, it means shitty, old software. No one likes old software, except for that weird guy that writes the Game of Thrones novels. I’m pretty sure he writes his novels on a preschool xylophone plugged into a potato, or some other similarly under-appreciated root vegetable.

Line 2 and we’re off on a tangent, things are going well. Let’s start again:

Your legacy is what you leave behind.

I’m unlikely to leave behind a multi-billion dollar estate and world-changing body of work, but I’ve recently started to consider what my legacy might actually look like.

I’ve been very aware of my own mortality since my early 20’s, but now that I’ve got a +1 in the family I’m more curious than ever as to what I’m going to leave behind. As a software engineer, I’m sure everything I’ve ever written and ever will write will be horribly redundant by the time I’m gone. Even if I meet an untimely end, my body (a poor pun) of work will age (nailed it) almost instantly, such is the nature of software and computing in the modern world.

I’ll probably last at least a few years in the minds of a few people as a slightly (largely) irritating, over-sized dork. After a few years I’ll probably be remembered as slightly more handsome though, so that’s nice.

Will there be anything else, short of the fallible and ultimately fleeting human memory of me?

There is a small chance some of my woodworking projects will still be around. Possibly a chair, possibly a bench seat, maybe a stool? I should really move away from wood, and into the warm loving embrace of steel so that my shoddy workmanship can live on through the ages. Welders are cool, welding is cool, and the helmets are great. Being able to stick 2 pieces of metal together like they’re nothing is a special skill indeed.

I’ll hopefully have some form of legacy through my kid(s), so if I do a decent job there I guess I can claim that, but that’s a little weird. Their achievements are their own, mine are mine and ours are ours.

If I was gone tomorrow it looks like I’ve got some oddly assembled sticks, some soon to be obsolete code, and some words to my name.

And I wouldn’t have even owned a welder.

Sad.

Words are powerful, and so I’m going to try to write some. I hope that the things that I write will give my family insight when I’m gone.

No one lasts forever, and that’s a good(?) thing.