Funny story

February 1, 2019

This gentleman knocks on his son’s door. “Jaime,” he says, “wake up!” Jaime answers, “I don’t want to get up, Papa.” The father shouts, “Get up, you have to go to school.” Jaime says, “I don’t want to go to school.” “Why not?” asks his father. “Three reasons,” says Jaime. “First, because it’s so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school.” And the father says, “Well, I’m going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it’s your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster.”

Awareness, by Anthony de Mello.

Football and the ancient Roman gladiator games

January 30, 2019

Excerpt of an interview on the HBO show Real Sports, January 2019:

Interviewer: “You go to a Princeton college football game and everyone is cheering in the stands. But almost all the [affluent] people we spoke to aren’t going to let their kids play football [due to the risk of brain injury].”

Boston University doctor brain concussion/CTE expert: “That does become a gladiator type situation. Go hurt yourself for my entertainment.”

The most effective way to change your inner world is to change your outer world

January 26, 2019

Question: What’s the fastest way to improve your inner world (confidence, self-image, inner dialog, etc.)?

Answer: Improve your outer world.

If you want to be more confident or effective, rather than relying on easily-defeated positive thinking and mental gymnastics, learn to run faster, lift more than your peers, or lose those last ten pounds. It’s measurable, it’s clear, and you can’t lie to yourself. It therefore works.

The separation of mind and body is false. They are intertwined. Start with the precision of changing physical reality and a domino effect with often take care of the internal.

— The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, page 467.

The Powerpoint slide is my canvas for expressing information

January 23, 2019

I treat each slide in a Powerpoint document as a canvas, like an artist’s canvas. Instead of placing artwork on the canvas, I place words, pictures, and drawings that will hopefully convey useful information to the viewer. By treating each slide as a canvas, I feel liberated to discard the rigid header-body format; I often set the layout to blank and then create to my heart’s delight.

Compiler writers are the unsung heroes of the computer age

January 13, 2019

It recently dawned on me that everything we do with a computer, from making friends on Facebook, to running weather forecasting models, to rendering images on a browser, gets compiled down to a set of simple operations that a CPU executes at amazingly fast speeds. Without compilers and compiler writers most of the amazing things we do today with computers would not be possible.

I bow in honor of Alan Turing, who recognized that all computing can be done using a set of simple operations. Turing made the revolutionary breakthrough. Turing made today’s computers possible.

I bow in honor of the person or persons who recognized that high level languages can be created and broken down into – compiled into – the simple operations that Turing identified.

I bow in honor of compiler writers, who have devised ways to produce assembly code (CPU instructions) that are even more efficient than hand-crafted code.

I bow in honor of CPU makers; their machines are Turing’s soul incarnate in computers.

My strategy for mastering the Olympic weightlifting lifts

January 6, 2019

My new goal is to master the Olympic lifts. In particular, I want to master the snatch. One Olympic weightlifting champion (Jerzy Gregorek) says, If you can snatch your body weight into your 80s, then you will have a wonderful life. Why does he say that? Because the snatch is one of the most complex movements. It requires these attributes: flexibility, speed, and strength. The nice thing is, once possessed, those attributes transfer over to all parts of one’s life.

Here is my step-by-step plan to master the Olympic lifts:

(1) Increase my flexibility. Jerzy Gregorek said it took him a year to gain the required flexibility. I am sure it will take me at least that long. Probably twice as long. That’s okay. I want a solid foundation. I’ve been working on improving my flexibility for about a month. I’ve made good progress, but still have a long way to go.

(2) Master the squat press. What’s a squat press? It is this: Do a squat. At the bottom of the squat, press the bar overhead. Then stand up.

(3) Hire an Olympic weightlifting coach to teach me the snatch. I don’t think the snatch can be safely learned on one’s own.

Crunches are bad … here’s why

December 25, 2018

I spend most of my day hunched over a computer. That’s bad. It’s causing my spine to curve like a C, which is the wrong way for the spine to be curved.

The spine should be curved the other direction.

Crunches are bad because with every rep the abs are pounding on the spine to flatten out. But the spine should not be flat. The spine should be arched.

No more crunches for me.

In fact, no more exercises that pound the spine into flatness, which means no more upside-down leg press, no more flyes with legs up on the bench, etc. And certainly, no exercise that curl forward.

Two secrets to proper weightlifting technique

December 17, 2018

Secret #1: Curl your toes up. That will ensure your weight is on the middle of your foot (actually, on the front end of the heels).

Secret #2: Chest out, shoulders back. If you focus on keeping the chest out and shoulders back, it will naturally ensure your hips rise properly when lifting the weight off the floor and it will ensure your form is correct when squatting.

The power of truly listening

November 11, 2018

For almost three decades, John Francis has been a planet walker, traveling the globe by foot and sail with a silent message of environmental respect. For 17 of those years he didn’t speak a word.

Here’s what he said about listening:

[Before he stopped talking] I used to listen to someone just enough to think I knew what they wanted to say and then I would stop listening because I thought I knew what they were going to say. And then I would start thinking about what I was going to say back to show them that they were wrong or that I could say it better or look how smart I am. Not speaking was a great relief for me because I was able to learn from so many people. People have so much to teach if we listen to each other.

https://www.npr.org/2014/11/21/364688000/why-would-someone-choose-silence-for-17-years

Here is how to fix the education system

November 4, 2018

Every school, at every level, has these two mantras:

  • Learning is a lifelong process
  • Look longer and see more

The teachers repeat these mantras to their students, often. And at every level (1st grade, 2nd grade, …, 12th grade).

Every teacher exhibits, daily, a pure joy and love for learning.

No more summer vacations. School is year-round. 10 days off each year – a day off for Christmas, a day off for New Years, etc.

No more rushing to get through a curriculum. Slow down. The teacher introduces a concept and then lots of time is given for the students to explore the concept from all sides, see how it fits in with other things they’ve learned … let the concept become part of the student.

No more tests. Instead, students write, write, and write. “I don’t know what I think until I write it down”

Do these things and it will revolutionize our world.