Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wasted decades of working out

July 9, 2020

After several decades of working out, one would think that I would have a near superhuman ability to use my mind to connect to, activate, and control every muscle in my body. Sadly, I do not. After watching several of Ryan Humiston’s YouTube videos, who constantly stresses the importance of connecting the mind to the movement, I sadly became aware that I have been doing exercises mostly with my mind disengaged. Just mindless repetitions. Instead of mind-body control, I have sore joints.

That said, it is never too late. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. From this day forward, I dedicate myself to fully engaging my mind with every movement, being aware, learning to control my body. I will have superhuman control of my body.

Characteristics of a great programmer

July 3, 2020
  1. Meticulous: no detail is too small or unimportant. Most bugs are due to programmers skipping over the small details.
  2. Laser-focus: can remain focused on the task for long periods of time. Not tempted to constantly check email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever.
  3. No ego, humble, good listener: able to set aside one’s own plans when someone comes up with a better plan.
  4. Willing and eager to learn the domain: many programmers just want to do the cool techie stuff and don’t want to “waste time” learning the domain when they could be learning new techie stuff. Bad attitude. Without learning the domain, one cannot know the constraints, co-dependencies, and plain ‘ole weird stuff in the domain. One will be doomed to write buggy, mediocre code.
  5. Can see the big picture: can take a complex fog of concepts and see through to the simple underlying structure.

You don’t have a soul, you are a soul …

July 2, 2020

You don’t have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body.
The body changes, but the soul is eternal.

Got bent toes? Here’s why and what to do to flatten them

June 27, 2020

Interesting thing I learned yesterday from my massage therapist: bent (crooked) toes are the result of the tendons leading to the toes being too tight. Look down at your toes. Flex them upward. See those stringy lines that pop up, leading to the toes? They are tendons. If they are tight, your toes will be bent. The tighter they are, the more the toes bend. Highly bent toes are not good. As we get older, the tendons tighten, and consequently the toes bend, more and more. How to flatten them out, i.e., how to loosen the tendons? Answer: practice grabbing a ping pong ball with the balls of your feet and your toes.

Advice to people getting a degree in computer science

June 18, 2020

Programming is relatively easy. The hard part is understanding the domain.

The worst computer science people are those who just know computer science, they don’t know any domain. Consequently, when confronted with writing a program for a domain problem, they don’t understand the terminology or the concepts or the co-dependencies. They are doomed to write mediocre and buggy software.

Getting a computer science degree? Get a dual major – computer science plus a degree in some domain. For example, if you’re interesting in music or acting, then get a degree in music or theater. Interested in fitness or sports? Then get a degree in physiology. Interested in anti-aging? Then get a degree in biology or pre-med. Interested in aircraft and flying? Then get a degree in aeronautics.

Don’t keep score – best relationship advice I’ve ever received

May 30, 2020

A while back I was talking to a friend and he was telling me about all the chores he does at home. It was a lot. He does most of the chores. His wife hardly does anything. I pointed that out to him and said, “Shouldn’t chores be shared equally?” He responded, “We’re not keeping score.”

Don’t keep score – that’s the best relationship advice I’ve ever received.

Holding the breath for intense, system-wide body response

May 22, 2020

I recall reading that the surfer Laird Hamilton would deliberately choose to surf huge, dangerous waves. He said that it is in those moments he is most alive.

Imagine being suddenly confronted by a lion. Your body instantly reacts, flooding the entire bodily system with tremendous energy and alertness. You are completely present in the moment and totally alive.

For several years I have been taking a 10-minute walk after every meal. For the last six months I have been doing breathing exercises while walking: breathe in for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four, repeat. And for the last month I have been doing hold-the-breath exercises while walking: take in a deep breath, hold as long as possible, exhale powerfully. I have found this breath-holding impacts my entire bodily system in a very positive way. I feel my digestion improved. I feel my brain sharpened and alert.

I think there is something to the idea of doing something every day that triggers an intense response by the body. Perhaps not to the extreme indicated in the following quote, but the idea is right, I think: “choosing constantly to face death and choosing to live life in a meaningful way.”

My nominees for the 4 greatest athletic sports

April 27, 2020
  1. Free-diving: uses powerful movements to descend as deeply as possible as quickly as possible, all the while using as little exertion as possible so as to minimize the need for oxygen.
  2. Mountain climbing: incredible grip strength, fearless, agile.
  3. Figure skating: combines power, speed, agility. All done in apparent effortlessness.
  4. Boxing: strength, quickness, overall conditioning

How to train so that when you are 100 you look, perform, and feel like a fit 50 or 60 year old

April 19, 2020

This is an incredible interview of Dr. Peter Attia on aging:

Here are my notes:

What does it mean to be 100 years old, but look, perform, and feel like a fit 50 or 60 year old?

As we age, there is a lot of joint failure that becomes problematic. When we are younger our exercise routines tend to disproportionately load joints over muscles. We need to figure out exercises where we can maximally load the muscles while minimally loading the joints.

What should a 100 year old be able to do if he is to live a physically fulfilling life? Here are some ideas: He should be able to carry two 25-pound bags from a grocery store. He should be able to lift a 30 or 40 pound suitcase over his head and put it into the airplane overhead compartment. He should be able to dip down into a squat, grab his great-grandchild, and pick her up. He should be able to jump down on the floor and play with cars or dolls and then stand up without assistance.

If you want to live to 100, you must delay the onset by about two decades of every major chronic disease – cancer, heart disease, and others. It’s not that you won’t get them, but you better figure out how to get them 20 years after the average person gets them.

Bruce Lee looked at every discipline of martial arts, including boxing and wrestling, and said, “Let me extract from each of these disciplines that which I believe is useful and discard that which I think is useless.”

How will you train so that you can be the best 100 year old imaginable? How will you do it if you’re only able to spend 10-12 hours per week preparing for it? My guess is that you should take a lot of things from various disciplines and discard a lot of things and build a routine that involves the maintenance of muscle mass, joint integrity, flexibility, functional movement, and balance.

The advantage of deadlifting and squatting is that they reveal all of your errors in the movement. You can’t take bad form into those movements and not get revealed. The question is, are they unnecessary risks? Am I one bad deadlift away from a catastrophic injury? Do I need to do them to become the best version of myself as a 100 year old? Lately I’ve been doing a lot of single-leg movements such as curtsy squats, lateral lunges, incredibly strict lunges where the front leg glute is specifically loaded, and bodyweight squats with meticulous form so that I am fully loading the glute and not overloading the quads (overloading the quad is a common mistake). By doing these things, I don’t feel that I’ve lost a step.

The term “cardio” is confusing. Most people think VO2 max is a heart/lung issue. It’s actually mostly a muscle issue. The bottleneck is not how much you can get into your lungs. The bottleneck is how much your muscles can utilize. When you look at the winner of the Tour de France or the gold medalist in cross-country skiing, or the person who wins the Boston marathon, or when you look at the most extreme endurance athletes, what is unique about these people is their muscles, which is counter-intuitive because they are typically very slender individuals, but their muscles are so efficient at aerobic metabolism, they are able to extract so much oxygen out of blood. When you or I are at our VO2 max we are breathing out 80% of the oxygen we breath in, so it’s not a gas-exchange problem, it’s a muscle problem.

So much of what we do is joint overload. Take the military press. Is there a time and place for a military press? Absolutely. Does it have any role in my life? Absolutely not. Why not? First, I don’t need to load my spine in that way. If I can get 80% of the benefits of the military press by doing activities below my neck and using more static-loaded movements above my neck, and that gives me 80% of the benefits at 20% of the risk, that is exactly the kind of compromise that I am willing to make. I think we need to apply risk/reward more often to how we exercise.

I don’t want anything to get in the way of the knowledge that can drive living longer. That, to me, is such a priority. I would rather be poor, but know how to live longer than to have all the money in the world and then loose my health.

Regarding the many changes in my life (i.e., the many career changes), I have been able to internalize the “Fallacy of a Sunk Cost.” The sunk cost fallacy is talked about in every Economics 101 class. To take an example, suppose you are building a bridge and it costs $10 million dollars. You are $9 million dollars into it and then the contractor says “It’s going to be another $11 million.” For many people they evaluate the contractor’s statement based on how much they have already put into the project. That becomes a very dangerous game because you can’t get those dollars back. Instead, you have to evaluate it exactly from where you are standing right now (i.e., ignoring the money you’ve already invested). For whatever reason, I’ve been able to stand at any point in my life and say “I want to do X. I am going to evaluate it only through the lens of how many years I have left on Earth and not at all through the lens of what I’ve already put into this.” It just seemed very logical to me to always pursue my bliss. Also, we’re in a different world now. The days are long gone of doing one thing your whole life. It’s no longer ridiculous to have a career change every five years. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 10 years, but I would be shocked if it looked exactly like what I do today. If you’re not growing, if you’re not constantly being reminded of how much higher you have to climb, I suspect life becomes a lot less fun.

David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech in 2005 called “This is Water” is unquestionably my absolute favorite 22 minutes of what to listen to. The first time I heard it, it didn’t resonate with me. I needed to hear it a few times before it really resonated. He said, “If you worship power, you will forever feel powerless. If you worship the intellect, you will forever feel like a fraud.” The former didn’t resonate with me because I am not a power-seeker, but the latter did resonate with me. “If you worship the intellect, you will forever feel like a fraud.” It is so true. I find myself, on at least a daily basis, thinking “I hope people don’t find out how much I don’t know.”

Writing and writing programs

December 12, 2019

The following is from the book, Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum, page 108. I think it’s great.

“Often when we think we understand something and attempt to write about it, our very act of composition reveals our lack of understanding even to ourselves. Our pen writes the word ‘because’ and suddenly stops. We thought we understood the ‘why’ of something but discover we don’t. We begin a sentence with ‘obviously,’ and then see what we meant to write is not obvious at all. Sometimes we connect two clauses with the word ‘therefore,’ only to then see that our chain of reasoning is defective. Programming is like that. It is, after all, writing too. But in ordinary writing we sometimes obscure our lack of understanding, our failure in logic, by unwittingly appealing to the immense flexibility of natural language and to its inherent ambiguity. The very eloquence that natural language permits sometimes illuminates our words and seems (falsely, to be sure) to illuminate our undeserving logic just as brightly. An interpreter of programming-language texts, a computer, is immune to the seductive influence of mere eloquence. And words like ‘obviously’ are not represented in the primitive vocabularies of any computers. A computer is a merciless critic.”