Posts by fatherlinux

The Many Versions of You – Comparing Yourself to Others in a Healthier Way

The Many Versions of You – Comparing Yourself to Others in a Healthier Way

“Should you compare yourself to others when attempting self improvement?”

That’s what we debated this morning at the local coffee shop. It started because a young guy said, “I try not to compare myself to other people” – his intention was to imply that you are somehow a better person if you don’t. It was some sort of pop-culture, Buddhist-like reaction. It’s common wisdom right?

When, I heard him say this, I thought silently to myself, that’s interesting, because I don’t even know how to make that delineation anymore. I think comparison is fundamental to self improvement. Whether it’s working out, learning a new subject or just attempting to become a better person (Buddhism anyone?). Here’s why…

A long time ago, I realized that the old me and the current me are not the same person. This sounds completely obvious at first, but a bit crazy when put it into action. It all started when I was documenting things for work early in my career. I would write something down, and then months or years later, I would read it again because the task needed done again. As soon as I’d look at it, I’d say to myself, “Who the heck wrote this? It doesn’t give any of the detail necessary to complete this task, much less modify the task for a new situation with any sort of confidence.” My first reaction was to be annoyed by the utter lack of foresight that “old me” had when he wrote it. I remember thinking, that guy was selfish, lazy, and didn’t write it all down. But, that guy was me, so I only had me to blame.

Then I realized, okay, I have to actually come up with a technique to help the future me who won’t be able to remember all of the things that I remember right now. I need to write to the future me and fill in the gaps so that when he reads it, he says “oh, this is pretty easy to do. I see all the backstory. I see why, I see how. I see how this other piece works that interacts with it.” I wanted future me to say to himself, “old me, you were pretty damn good!” 🙂

This thinking technique gives future you the warm and fuzzy feeling. Future you is very similar to a completely different person because you’re not going to be current you in two years when you read that documentation. This also serves as a good foundation for writing to others – though, I have found it’s always easier to write to future me because I have learned how my own brain forgets things. I have gotten to know future me pretty well, really well.

So, this led to the epiphany this morning while debating, that you’re really only ever you for a moment. The duration of “current you” is seconds at best. Ever forget what you were in the middle of doing? The old you is not the same as the current you. The current you is not the same as the future you. The only real you is the current you, so living in the present, as Buddhists say, is really the only thing that’s real – and also, quite logical.

So when you think about self improvement, you need a frame of reference – current you – you’re really comparing “current you” to a potential “future you.” The goal of self improvement is to ensure “future you” becomes something better. Basically, “current you” and “future you” are two different people. For any self improvement to happen, you’re really always comparing yourself to somebody else.

So, I don’t know how to separate future me, and past me from other people – logically, it’s similar.

Fine, then it’s OK to compare yourself to other people, but we all know there’s a healthy way and an unhealthy way. Well, first off, don’t take it to the extreme – to where you feel bad about how you’re performing now because of how the old person used to perform. Also, don’t feel bad because you want to perform better in the future and you can’t do it now. That’s the same as looking at some other guy at the gym who’s lifting more weight than you, and feeling bad about it. Don’t do that.

Conversely, don’t look over at a guy that’s not picking up as much weight and feel better than him, because that’s an unhealthy comparison because you’re only “current you” for a moment. Today, tomorrow or next month you could be injured, paralyzed, or find out you have cancer. Being competitive to the point of feeling superior will burn you, here’s why…

You’re really a summation of all of those past versions of you – you quite possibly will become the future you when you’re 70 and you won’t be able to do it anymore. Too young, too old, it has happened and will happen to all of us. Period. Let that sink in. Prepare for it. Really, just remember that the present you is composed of all these other yous that are in the past and future.

Now take it to another level, when you look over at the person at the gym next to you. Realize that they are… their past, current and future them. Don’t compare your current you to their current them because both of you are so much more than that. There’s no point taking the comparison to an unhealthy place where you’re thinking you’re better or worse than them. Think about it, they were a past them at some point and they weren’t able to pick up that weight, run as far, and didn’t know as much. Or if you feel better than them, just remember someday they might get better, and they might be able to kick your butt.

So, today, I tell you to break two Buddhist rules – live in the past, present, and future as well as feel free to compare yourself to other people – just do it in a healthy way. Think with more dimensions, this is a gift that, as far as we know, only Homo Sapiens has – use it. You will go through periods in your own life when you can and can’t do certain things, whether it’s learning, strength training, running or just walking. Accept that and live in the current you. Once you start thinking about it dimensionally, thinking about all the versions of you and them, the comparisons become a lot more healthy.

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Body Hacking – Most Business Travelers Are Body Builders, They Just Don’t Know it

Body Hacking – Most Business Travelers Are Body Builders, They Just Don’t Know it

If you are a road warrior, you have probably never thought of yourself as a body builder. But, if you have ever wanted loose weight, you probably are body builder and just don’t know it. For a long, long time, I hated the idea. I loathed it . Eventually, I I learned to embrace it because body builders know how to loose weight better than anyone. Here’s why. Physical fitness and looks are two separate things. One is mostly governed by how hard you work out, the other by diet. One is mostly governed by training program, the other by social perception. Mostly….

Sure, they are related statistically, but any individual can have a completely different physical relationship between the two. You could be the big guy with a belly roll, and still out sprint a smaller guy. You could have better cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, strength, explosive power, and speed – and, still have a deposit of fat around your midsection. Statistically, high body fat relates to health problems and lower performance, but specific individuals, who train really hard, but still eat like crazy, can crush performance and be healthy. On the other hand, you could have a very good diet, look very healthy, barely work out, be weak, slow, and have barely any endurance. That’s because fitness and looks are two completely different aspects to general health and general fitness.

They are related, but not 100%..

To get to the elite levels of fitness (competitive sport level) or elite levels of body shape (body building) you absolutely have to do both. But, as a regular business person with a sedentary job, you can surely have a decent, healthy combination of both. So, if you weigh 260 lbs and want to weigh 180 lbs or weigh 160 lbs and want to weigh 130 lbs, you will have to adopt the methods of a bodybuilder. You will have to count calories, you will have to “cut” as they say in body building. Trust me, they know how to do this, they have been doing it since the 1950s. If your goal is to lose weight, you have to cut. Cutting is a technique which focuses on reducing body fat. The goal of reducing body fat is primarily to change how you look and feel, not how you perform. Your performance may increase, it may not. You might lose strength, but you might get faster because you’re lighter. It will all depend.

Decide what your goals are. Do you want to look “better” (your perception, or the world’s perception?) or do you want to perform better? Embrace your goals, don’t feel bad about yourself. Don’t underestimate yourself. If you do let yourself feel bad or underestimate yourself, you will just waste precious time in life – waffling. So, grab your belly roll if you got one and and tell yourself, “this is just for looks” – if you care about looks, adopt the art of the body builder. If you don’t care, embrace it. If you want to build muscle and have fun, lift weights. If you want to run faster, practice sprinting. If you want to run further, build up distance in practice If your goal is medical health, it will take a combination of nutrition and exercise.

Fitness, looks, and health are all different things. They are different physical goals. At he elite levels, they are particularly related, but at normal human levels there is a lot of leeway. So, the next time you look at some bigger guy or girl walking down the street, try not to judge them, they just might kick your butt in a sprint or out run you in a distance race. Never judge physical fitness by their physique.

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The Tiger and The Bonsai

The Tiger and The Bonsai

Your body has two ways that it can move. Like a tiger and like a bonsai plant. Tigers move quickly, striking their prey. Bonsai plants move slowly, over time, growing towards the Sun.

Humans do both. We run, jump, try new things, sing, and play music we already know. We enact these movements from instinct and muscle memory like a tiger. We are most comfortable with the satisfaction of these quick movements – we understand their outcomes better and can see the results immediately.

We also go into a calorie deficit to lose weight, we lift weights to stimulate muscle growth. We do Yoga to increase our flexibility. But, each of these changes is slow like a plant.

These movements are inextricably connected. If you run a mile, 50 times, over six months, you will, over time, slowly get faster. Same with weights – you will get stronger. Same with diet – your body composition will change. Same with education.

The fast actions influence the slow actions, and the slow actions affect the fast actions. Over and over and over until we grow towards the Sun, or we are eaten by the tiger….

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Three Unexpected Benefits of Losing 35 lbs

Three Unexpected Benefits of Losing 35 lbs

About a year and a half ago, I started on a journey to loose 35 pounds. When I started, like many people, I just had this nagging feeling that I needed to loose some weight and do more for my health. I had no idea how far this would go to changing my life forever. I want to quickly share a few unexpected thing that happened:

1. Everything is more fun. I am way more flexible. Bending down doesn’t bother me anymore. Getting up off the ground is way easier. Walking for an hour in the mall doesn’t hurt my back anymore. Pull-ups are way easier. Squats are easier. When I am snowboarding, it’s so much easier to do jumps, etc. I just have more fun doing anything physical, even workouts.

2. It’s changed my view on aging. I feel younger. I am less scared to try new things. My posture is better. My gait when I walk is better. I look better – and my clothes actually fit me. I noticed that I am more playful during physical activity – watch young people, they trip their friends, they make unnecessary moves when walking, they throw rocks and bang sticks – that’s back. People tell me I look younger. I rather like that part 🙂

3. I have a renewed sense of being able to change things in my life. It’s difficult to admit, but I remember looking down at my stomach as it slowly grew year after year, thinking to myself, I guess this is just part of getting older – I guess I will just never look and feel like I did when I was younger. I was resigned to it. Sure, I had seen “before & after” photos of people loosing weight, but that seemed distant and unreal. About a year into my journey, I had lost 4″ off my waist and 30+ lbs. I realized I needed new shirts, pants, and suits – which startled me. I hadn’t planned for that. Let that sink in. I hadn’t planned for it because, when I started, I didn’t really believe I could loose the weight. That hurt when I realized it. I don’t know what new goals I will set in the coming years, but I have a stoic feeling I can achieve unknown things.

All of these little things add up. Together, they have made me feel a lot happier day to day. So, if you felt like I did and you are sick of it, here’s how I started my journey. For me, it started as an experiment – now I know I will do this for the rest of my life. I never want to gain the weight back – ever.

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Armchair Quarterbacks & The Florida School Shooting

Armchair Quarterbacks & The Florida School Shooting

So, you think you know what you would do in a school shooting? You think that Sheriff should have ran into that Florida school without thinking right? Yeah? You’d do some kinda John Mcclane shit from the original Die Hard? Let me tell you why you have no idea what you would do. There’s a lot more to tactically assaulting a building than what you think.

Before I go on, let me tell you, I don’t know shit. The more I learn, the less I feel like I know for sure (see full disclosure at the end of this article). That said, I have learned a few things about guns, and terrorism over time. Also, when the Florida school shooting happened, I happened to be in the middle of reading a book called Terror at Beslan about the Chechen terrorists who took over a school in North Ossetia (part of Russian Federation). It was a shitshow with 1000+ kids taken hostage, 300+ people dead, hundreds of children, and like 800 wounded. A..complete…shit show. Worse, it could happen in America – but I digress.

If you think the Sheriff was a total pussy and should have ran in guns a blazing, let’s start with some background information to frame this question right.

Tactics for Assaulting Buildings with Terrorists and Active Shooters

First, there are two main tactics for assaulting buildings. While in the West, we have these things called civil liberties, the Russians see no need for that. They are a bit more stoic, pragmatic, and nihilistic.

  1. Western special forces and law enforcement generally follow a philosophy which can be summed up with the phrase, “speed, surprise and violence of action” – you will find that this language is common in any discussion of tactics. Generally, it means, train like a mother fucker so that a whole team of law enforcement or special operators can move into a building quickly, organized and overwhelm the enemy. This will minimize casualties for civilians and operators, minimize the time to take control, and maximize casualties of the terrorists.
  2. The Russians generally follow the above philosophy as well, but they add some stuff that doesn’t sit well with Westerners. First, they LOVE gas. They will use paralysis gas, sleep gas, all kinds of gas. Even when terrorists have gas masks, it knocks out all of the hostages so that they can’t be used as human shields, nor get in the way of friendly fire. Second, they will shoot through hostages. The Russians generally consider you “already fucked” once you have been taken hostage. If you survive, great, but if not it’s because you were already dead anyway. Third, they like to take the terrorist’s families hostage and use them as bargaining pieces. Kinda interesting.

What The Sheriff’s Deputy Probably Knew and Didn’t Know

Now let’s move on to some shit the Sheriff might have been thinking. I don’t know for sure, but it’s reasonable to think that almost any law enforcement officer would know this stuff…

  1. An AR15 is loud as fuck. People know when somebody is shooting an AR15 or AK47 (which is even louder). This gives you an indication of what you are facing if you hear one firing in a building.
  2. AR15s are WAY, WAY, WAY more accurate than pistols. They are frighteningly more accurate. The first time I ever fired one, I could hit hard drives (like 3″ X 5″) from like 100 yards away – without my reading glasses on. They are fucking terrifyingly accurate.
  3. AR15s will shoot through anything in a school, ANYTHING. There is nothing that would provide cover, so you have to move, fire, move, which most average cops don’t know how to do very well. Here’s a video of an AR firing through cinder blocks – this isn’t like the movies where you duck around the corner and you are fine.
  4. It’s possible he had no idea who was shooting. Could have been a trained terrorist (yes, they are well trained, read Terror at Beslan and you will never feel safe again)
  5. It’s possible he had no idea how many shooters there were
  6. It’s possible he had no idea if there were hostages
  7. It’s possible he had no idea if there were bombs
  8. It’s possible he had no idea about anything
  9. It’s possible he was following local department policy on SOLO ENTRY AND “CONTACT TEAMS” which are all over the map depending on police force

Facts

  • If he ran in by himself, he would not be following best practice for assaulting a building
  • He waited 4 minutes
  • The investigation still isn’t complete so we don’t know a lot yet
  • If he would have ran in, and shot a kid by mistake he would be fucked
  • If he ran in, and got shot to death, he would be fucked
  • If he ran in and the shooter had a kid hostage, he would be fucked
  • He didn’t received any clear commands that we know of
  • The shooter is responsible for killing the kids – he is not

The Actual Solution

After reading Terror at Beslan, I have realized that nobody in the USA is talking about the real solutions.

  • More guns is not the answer. Arming teachers is retarded. The average cop qualifies once a year and fires like 60 rounds. That’s not enough, and they don’t do more because it’s expensive. No teacher is going to have the time/money to train enough. Furthermore, it’s tactically useless in like 99.9% of all scenarios. In Terror at Beslan, there was an armed guard, and an armed police officer. Both were taken hostage by terrorists, gave up their weapons, and were summarily executed because they could be a danger later. If you are telling me that a teacher wouldn’t give up in a heartbeat if given the “hostage” choice, you are crazy. As an aside, never take the hostage option, it’s a ruse. Always fight to the death. My two cents.
  • Less guns is not the answer either. Banning guns only takes them away from normal people. The Charlie Hebdo Attack and the Bataclan Attack happened in France where people can’t easily have guns. Taking guns away does not stop terrorists or crazy people (who are almost always smart). Technically, we could probably stop stupid, crazy people by taking guns away, but I don’t think it would help enough that it’s worth the political battle.
  • The Russians learned from the Beslan attack. The citizens had a shitload of weapons, including rocket launchers and machine guns, but they still didn’t assault the school (but armchair quarterbacks think the Sheriff’s Deputy should have with a 9mm pistol). The terrorists did, however, gather intelligence on the school for weeks, maybe months.
  • So, the main thing we can do is wake the fuck up, and keep our eyes open. Terrorist typically build intelligence, just like special forces. This is just like child molesters, so when you see the crazy looking dude in the white van sitting outside the school, say something!!!
  • Active shooters are similar but different. But, they usually post stuff on social media, so again if you see something, say something!!!
  • I think the gun restraining order is a good happy medium, it adheres to every fact we know about active shooters and terrorists. Terrorists probably don’t buy all of their weapons, but they will often give away telltale signs while gathering intelligence. Also, following the money stream is useful, which the FBI already does.

Enough Armchair Quarterbacking

I get that people think things should be a certain way, but they’re not. They’re just not. There are practical constraints to the possible solutions.

  • Cops ought to train to fire while moving, have body armor, practice with ARs, and be physically fit.
  • In reality, they qualify once a year, firing 60ish rounds and many are overweight and out of shape
  • We always want what ought to be vs. what is
  • We need to live in reality vs. fantasy
  • We need to think about how to fix things vs. get mad and rant

Full Disclosure on My Background

  • 42 year old, white male – 168 lbs 5’9″
  • College degree in Four Field Anthropology. Minor in Computer Science. Took a special topics 300/400 level sociology class on terrorism after 9/11.
  • Market and sell free software for a living
  • Have shot AR15s and plenty of handguns, semi-automatic and revolvers
  • Train at gun range once per quarter – typically fire 200 rounds – do drills like a martial art
  • Train 4-7 times per week – weight training, jump rope, rowing, running in weight vests, basically nutty
  • Personal records: 360 lbs X 3 deadlift, 315 lbs X 4 squat, 205 lbs X 2 bench, 130 lbs X 1 overhead press. No other exercises matter.
  • Grew up very poor, have been in plenty of physical fights
  • Trained in high school in a private fight club – fought every day – every day – boxing gloves, no kicking in the privates, no gouging eyes, no other rules – lost plenty – won plenty
  • Have been kicked in the head – three times to be exact – same fight – it sucked
  • I don’t believe more guns are the answer, I don’t believe less guns are the answer either
  • Radically neutral politically, always looking for the logical fallacies on both sides (I hate Libertarians too)
  • I have never been in the military, been a law enforcement officer, or shot at anybody, but I have empathy for these jobs….
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