How Spearfishing is Like Coding

Spearfishing requires a few things to happen in sequence:

  1. Hold your breath.
  2. Dive Deep.
  3. Spear a fish.

Between stage 2 and 3, when you’re underwater, that’s when everything is awesome. You’re only down there for seconds at a time, but it feels like minutes. There’s no sound at all, total perfect silence. You equalize to relieve the pressure in your ears, and you look for a big fish. When you see a monster, you shit your pants, then spear it. Everything becomes extremely simple like that and I think that’s a big part of why I’ve become obsessed.

Learning to code is like spearfishing. It requires a mental “breath hold” while you struggle to focus on solving only one thing, a small but challenging piece of a larger whole. There’s really no way of accomplishing anything if you’re not able to commit 100% of your focus while writing new code (code you’re just learning). Once that singular piece of code has been written, you get to “return to the surface” of your consciousness and breathe. Step back and run the code. If it works, it’s like you’ve hit the fish. If it doesn’t – your spear missed.

It’s interesting how coders and spear-fishers are required to totally dial their minds into doing only one thing if they hope to do that thing successfully.

What do you do that forces you to do a mental “breath hold”?

Winning Your Daily Battle with a Little Self Torture

This article is about how hurting yourself a little bit can turn a shitty day around.

A bad day isn’t a day that contains pain. A bad day is a day that contains no feeling at all. A totally neutral day. Frequently I have days like that, where I don’t feel anything, and for some reason I feel like shit at the end of those days. Styrofoam shit.

When people talk about how working out elevates mood, I think it’s actually that working out is painful. And you only feel awesome once the pain is gone and the endorphins come. But it was the pain that got you there. Nobody ever felt awesome after a half-assed workout.

Lately I’ve been exposing myself to pain where possible because it gives me a chance to wage war against myself, mentally and physically, and to win or lose some self-respect. If I can string together enough days where I can, for example, shower with only cold water – I seem to gain power and momentum for the rest of the day. That shower couldn’t fuck with me, so what’s next?

If I can’t take the shower I’m pretty much retreating into my shell, weakened, and certainly not feeling very powerful. Pussy Ryan won. The Ryan I want to be is nowhere to be found that day.

By default, I don’t at all want to feel pain. Nobody is wired to seek pain, we’re all wired to go for comfort and pleasure. But I make myself feel it anyway when I can bring myself to. I do this because I know the voice in my head that discourages me from feeling pain is the same voice that discourages me from taking risks, manning up, going for broke, and doing the meaningful things in my life. It’s the voice telling me to run from fear instead of smashing into it head on.

The voice is my inner wimp complaining. The voice in my head coming up with completely rational reasons not to do the belly flop (Thanks Ty!). And  thanks Kyle, for leading the synchronized flopping with flawless form.

We have more respect for people who can push through pain, and less respect for wimps. Exposing ourselves to pain, even just a little, is a way to win some self-respect and the feeling of being a badass every single day. It’s a way to turn shit around if we woke up feeling like thumb-sucking infants fresh from shitting the crib, then crying about it.

The Key to Unlimited Energy

With a lofty title like that I’d better deliver! Here it is, short and sweet: passion = energy. Lia and I just came to this realization after coming out of a crazy busy week where I did the unusual: I got up with Isla my fair share of the time and didn’t need a nap partway through the day.

Today was extra odd for me – I only got 6 hours of sleep (I usually need way more than this, like an embarrassing amount, I’m talking 10 hours does wonders for me). No nap, not even time to think about a nap. We were out at the farmers market then hustling to prepare for camping, building fishing spears and going for a paddle on little lake, swimming and back home for more camping prep.

It was a massive day. All things I love to do. No lack of energy.

I’ve had small days, bleak, boring days where I’ve had to drag my ass just to make it to bed at the end of it. Whatever was on tap in my body chemistry for those small, shitty, boring days – it probably resembled the dregs of morning-after beer bottles strewn about after a college party. Cigarette butts and all. Flat and gag-worthy.

Today my brain was juicing rocket fuel. And now that I have made the connection between passion and my day-to-day energy levels, I’m going to be looking for more ways of getting into shit that I can become obsessed with.

I’ll still do all the other work that pays the bills of course. Just not only that stuff.

Slow Motion Ultimate Frisbee Pulls

It’s funny how I’ve never noticed how much a player’s “approach” factors into the force they generate during a pull. But after watching this footage it’s obvious that footwork plays a huge role in adding distance into a throw.

There seems to be a consistent “big last step” in which all that lateral force is planted into the lead foot and translated into torque. It looks like everyone instinctively does this. To get even more yardage, it looks like many players also “hop” into that big last step, probably storing even more elastic energy in their muscles and tendons during those last microseconds of their wind up.

One thing that’s really interesting to watch is what the “non” frisbee hand is doing. For backhand pullers, most of them seem to be using two hands to wind up, then (obviously) letting go with the non-throwing hand at the moment the forward twist begins. For my forehand throw, I actually seem to use my left arm to generate whiplash and “pre-trace” the path which the disc will take. Super strange!

Become A Plastic Magnet in 12 Minutes

This drill will turn your hands into plastic-magnets. And yes, contrary to popular believe, plastic IS magnetic. Watch the video for proof.

Ultimate frisbee players are handicapped much in the way football players are – it’s tough to improve throwing and catching skills without a buddy, nice weather, and lots of space. Getting way better at frisbee doesn’t need to depend upon the availability of friends. You can jack up your skills by yourself, in your own backyard.

For this drill I’ve isolated the pop pass for practicing. If the Backhand is King and the Flick is Queen, the humble (but important) pop pass is certainly on the dais during every feast. It just doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

flick backhand pop pass

A new player using a strong fake followed by a reliable pop pass (to a dump or up field) can damn near eliminate typical short range errors. Short range flicks and backhands, by contrast, are tough to catch and difficult to throw. So we pop.

This pop pass/catch drill is designed to improve the certainty with which you:

  1. Throw pop passes at super short range.
  2. Catch single-handed on both sides.

So, as promised, here’s the video for turning your hands into PLASTIC MAGNETS:

The Wood Workout

Splitting wood brings me joy. So much so that I’ve made a video detailing how it has completely replaced my previous workout with an olympic barbell. It’s just one of those things that makes you feel like a beast. It’s probably in our DNA to get satisfaction from splitting wood, and one of those rare things we can do which is super destructive yet legal and socially acceptable.

 

The One-Liner Bullshit Machete

I’m a huge fan of machete-like pieces of logic which can be used to chop through bullshit. So today I am re-gifting a razor sharp piece of logic which you can use to get choppy on the clumps of poo flying about in your world:

“Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.”

– Darren Hardy (Author of The Compound Effect)

I love that line because it’s dead simple. It encourages us to be extremely picky about whose advice we take to heart. Otherwise we’re exposed to potentially shitty advice.

I hadn’t realized this before now, but acting upon advice from a sub-awesome source is like following a map made by an amateur cartographer.  We’ve all had exposure to shitty directions. The instructions weren’t clear, or possibly even wrong, and time was wasted. If we did reach the destination, it was a pain in the ass to get there. The journey was way more work than it had to be.

If I’m going somewhere, whether it’s an actual geographical destination or an abstract future milestone in my personal or professional life, I want a great map. I want to act on only excellent directions.

And I want a sharp piece of logic to cut through the bullshit.

Thanks for the Bullshit Machete Darren!

Retirement Progress Report 2

So things have changed quite a bit since we last looked at the Lowe family retirement strategy. They’ve simplified. Mainly, I realized that it made very little sense to have such a big “Rainy Day” fund ($20k) and not have that money invested and compounding. So now we have $5k ready for emergencies and the rest gets invested.

The last few months we’ve worked hard to spend less frivolously, and to invest more aggressively.

Here are the figures:

TFSA (self-directed TD Waterhouse WebBroker account): $15,194.46

Up $9,127.46 since last report.

This is our main investing account comprised of 3 low MER TD E-Series mutual funds (TDB900, TBD905, TDB902). We’re 1 month ahead of schedule for our goal of $20k invested for the year, averaging $3,042.49 invested every month.

This quarter we invested 42% of our net income. To help free up money for investing, we’ve also been selling thousands of dollars worth of shit we no longer use via Kijiji. Guitars, a motorcycle, electronics, old paintball guns, roller blades, it adds up!

Mortgage: $168,381.87 ($1,496.13 lower than last report)

We haven’t paid down our mortgage any quicker than we had been prior to the last report. Our current interest rate of 2.92% is below what is expected to be earned investing in indexed mutual funds (8%). If we renew in a couple years with a significantly higher interest rate (anything over 8%) it will make far more sense to pay down the mortgage more aggressively and stop purchasing mutual funds altogether.

That’s all for this report, see y’all in October!