It’s Like Magic

I recently discovered all of my old journals and sketchbooks from my late teens and twenties, high school through college and into “real life.”

The spooky parts were the bits where I wrote about what I wanted, or where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do in the future. Most, maybe all, of those things have become reality. This isn’t unique to me. I just listened to Debbie Millman’s podcast with Tim Ferriss and she goes into way more detail about it than I do here, so if you’re curious you should listen to the full episode.

It’s as close to believing in baloney like The Secret as I’m willing to go, and the only reason I do believe that writing about your own future is an effective method in realizing your dreams is because that pattern has been revealing itself in my own life.

The exercise goes like this: write down what a typical day looks like for you 10 years from now. Go into crazy detail. Specify everything from what your spouse smells like to how many kids you have and what their hobbies are. Go from waking up to falling asleep at night, and everything in between. Again, as much detail as possible. I’ll do one now so you can read it and maybe do one of your own. I swear, so far whenever I’ve written these, they’ve done way more good than bad. For example, the first time I wrote about wanting to earn $10,000/month passive income I think I was earning $200-$400 passively. That number is now over $2000. Under $8000 to go!

OK here’s my dream day, January 30th 2027:

I wake up fully rested, early. Like, when the sun is just coming up early. The first birds are doing their thing, but not all of them.

My house is quiet. We have land, by the water. I can hear the waves against the shore. There are old trees on the property too, and I can hear the breeze in the branches just outside my bedroom window, which is on the second floor of the house.

Lia’s in bed with me. Maybe some of our kids come running in and jump on us. Maybe two are old enough to do that, and the other one is too small so they had to carry him/her in. The baby’s shat itself and Isla’s 10 so she can do a pretty good job of changing the diaper, which she does. The kids are happy. Lia and I are happy. We’re somewhere warm, or cold, it doesn’t really matter, but we’re together. Is it our house? I don’t know. Maybe it’s somewhere we’re staying for a while. It feels like home, wherever it is.

Anyway, we get up and shower. The bathroom is connected to the bedroom, I know that’s important to Lia and now that I think of it I like it too. The whole family doesn’t shower. Actually I don’t even think I shower. Nobody showers, we just get up and brush our teeth and do our thing, there’s a breeze coming in so it can’t be winter at this point, wherever we are.

Big breakfast gets made. Isla and her younger bro/sis help but mainly I do the cooking. Lia makes a smoothie or a salad or something. The food I make is fucking terrible for you but delicious. I’ve gotten pretty decent at cooking all kinds of things over the past 10 years. I’ve even figured out how the FUCK to make sourdough god damn bread. Fuck.

Isla says “FUCK” when she burns herself on something hot and nobody cares about the swearing.

Things feel easy, calm, peaceful. Real chilled out. There will be higher-energy stuff because that’s in our blood. But for the morning, things are calm.

Family breakfast, no fucking phones. There’s a mini gong and the baby smashes it with something hard and we all hold hands and feel gratitude for whatever until it finishes ringing. Might take a minute. This isn’t religious, it’s just presence and coming together in a token way as a family.

We eat. Food’s great. Kids pack it in like animals. Lia’s smoothie isn’t just greens and water, it tastes good. Dates or something. But we’ve hit that balance between my version of a smoothie (which would include ice cream) and hers (which often smells like a fresh cut lawn).

Off to activities. Do we exist in some kind of permanent vacation? Not in a conventional way. It’s like a ninja-in-the-mountains kind of training. Like when Bruce Wayne becomes a part of the League of Shadows before becoming Batman. We’re all studying different, or the same, things and that sometimes influences our location for a while. If we all want to learn to surf, as an obvious example, we would need to be in a place like Nosara Costa Rica for several months. Or roadtripping along a coast, preferably with waves that wouldn’t drown my god damn children (or me). Soooooo not Hawaii.

This sounds like we live in a trailer, which we very well may.

Late morning, the kids are studying something or another or we’re surfing or have just finished surfing or hiking or doing something we’ve never done before. Safe to say there’s a good deal of variety in our lives at this point. Lia’s a yoga pro by now, of course. Nobody doubted that for even a second.

I think I’m much better at web design than I currently am – like scary good, and “Full Stack” so capable of building full-on god damn anything I want. With databases and users and automatic two-step verification and payment processing. I know how to do all kinds of shit, and I have clients that love it and pay me to do it from wherever I am.

I am the ninja in the mountain.

What else….

Lunch time – again we maybe get food somewhere or eat something simple. I don’t want my family to get too extravagant. I’d like to be able to feed us but I’m also horny about efficiency. When I cook, there are leftovers (which taste damn good) and nobody complains about eating it for a day or three after the fact. I make good money but I don’t spend it like an asshole. In fact, a decent amount of it gets invested, donated, used for travel in a modest way.

The kids are awesome. I’m reminded of that every so often. Not every time I look at them or my brain would burn out, but a couple times a day let’s say. They piss me off too but I like that about them, they challenge things. They’re not pussies. They speak back and fight me the best they can and I usually win but sometimes they do and that’s the best moment of all, because it means they’re learning and they’re independent. They’re learning how to use their tools, and they’re pumped about it. Lia and I reward their efforts profusely. Our kids are really starting to turn into gritty little bastards, and it’s awesome. Sure, they’re weak sometimes too, and that’s OK – so am I and so is Lia and we show them that it’s OK to be vulnerable. These aren’t machines. They’re kids, but you get where I’m going with this.

Lunch is done and we’re driving, why not? I know I woke up in a house but I think I was confused. I’m probably in a kick ass trailer. We own a property or a couple properties but Lia AirBnBs them when we’re away.

I think we’re driving somewhere none of us have been before. It isn’t sketchy, it’s safe. There’s no real stress about this trip.

I don’t think we own the trailer. I think we’ve rented it, because we’re going to leave it in some town in Sweden and get in a rented sailboat and sail somewhere cool. Lia and I have heard about these islands where people sail and camp throughout them. Maybe we’re there. Maybe we know some Swedish and that’s what the kids were studying before lunch.

I check in with the office and things are normal, I have a bit of work to get through and it takes me an hour or so. Nothing crazy. All of my clients are very cool people, they know who I am and what my life is like. They’re cool with it.

We set sail, maybe we catch a fish or something and maybe by then I know how to clean and cook a fish. That’s dinner.

The kids are documenting these things. They already have developed little followings of their own. They get the value in connecting with their own online audiences and communities and they also earn modest incomes of their own and I probably don’t really understand it fully because I’m 41 and the social side of the internet has long left me behind. I just don’t have time for that shit.

Evening is closing in, the sun is setting. The water is glass. Maybe I do some sketching or watercolour painting or writing. Lia and I have some alone time. The kids have friends I guess, they’re hanging out with them for a bit. Things get steamy on our boat, BOW CHICKA WOW WOW.

Everyone is together before bed. We hang out on the boat and watch the stars. Lia still almost shits herself every time she sees a shooting star. The kids have inherited that from her so actually all of them almost or actually shit themselves as a result of shooting stars. We heat up some hot chocolate, Lia puts cheese in hers. Isla crushes cherry tomatoes into hers. The other kids are normal, they just drink it plain like I do.

We pack into our small sleeping quarters, chat a bit, then one by one we pass out. The kids talk in their sleep but I can’t hear it over Lia’s epic snoring.

Note to Self: Re: Self

This is an excerpt from my travel journal, relatively sure the date on the entry is Sept 11/2009:

Note to self: re: self: I float through despair when I am uncertain about something important. It robs me of my confidence and the issue, whatever it may be, weighs down heavily upon me day and night. I am happiest when things are clear and I know what I’m doing. I feel powerful when I believe in something and can work towards it. I feel useless and helpless, depressed and frustrated when I have no golden destiny to work toward realizing. So think hard, make choices by the heart, believe in them, believe in yourself, and step into the ring.

How Brain Phones Might End Violence Forever

I think humanity is on course for world peace, either via a biotechnological mass-evolution or by slower means. Here’s how technology could accidentally force an end to violence:

It starts with emoticons ??????. Emoticons enrich our ability to communicate remotely by imbuing text with emotion. These “emoji” already exist and have become indispensable in our text messages, Facebook posts, tweets and emails. Our phones incorporate emoji sets as a part of the keyboard. We even draw them in hand written notes to one another. Humans use emoticons where possible because it’s just better to be able to add some emotion to the message.

As technology changes, it’s reasonable to expect emoji to come along for the ride. I would expect a hands-free version of calling and texting to replace smartphones. Something we maybe wear as an earpiece or get wired directly into our brains: a brain phone. Then we’d just have to say or think messages to each other. I don’t think it would be a huge leap to be able to add emotional context to the messages either.

And here comes the crazy shit:

If these devices are connected to our brains, they could probably manipulate our neurotransmitters in order to trigger whatever emotional response we want to add to our message.

Here’s the new emoticon set for the brain phone (click to enlarge):

neurotransmitters
source: compoundchem.com

Okay, so now we’ve got brain phones allowing us to send and receive emotions. Cool. Bob just messaged us that he’d won his hockey pool! We’d get a little cocktail of adrenaline mixed with dopamine (I’m just guessing at the mix) to simulate Bob’s excitement and make our brains feel it too.

You’re getting the idea by now. Technology might eventually give us the ability to simulate shared emotions.

Syncing up our feelings would be really useful in a variety of situations where the group should be cohesively feeling the same thing. For example, a movie theatre might want everyone in the audience to feel a surge of endorphins during a sex scene and a dose of serotonin for the part where the boy finds his lost dog. Schools and universities might want to lower adrenaline levels in their students during exams (to lower stress), and increase acetylcholine and glutamate (which are involved in thought, learning, memory, and attention).

So the jump would happen, as with any evolutionary step, if there was to be a mutation or accident or problem with our brain phones.

Say we could no longer control the sending or receiving of these emotions, but instead went into some kind of “live mode” where our devices could relay emotion directly without our consent. We’d be in a position where any suffering we caused we’d have to feel, and any pleasure we gave we also received. Kind of a “forced instant karma”, thanks to the brain phone. I would expect violence to stop entirely, to be replaced probably by lots of borderline-inappropriate massage parlours.

This little sci-fi walkabout might be far-fetched in terms of exactly how world peace comes about, but regardless of the means I think humanity is ultimately bound for a peaceful destination. It might just take a little longer than in the brain phone story.

Here’s the slow, realistic look at how world peace is already in progress:

Information is proliferating like a motherfucker. 100 years ago, people were lucky to have read 50 books in a lifetime (source). Now, not only do we easily dominate that number of books in our lives, but we also suck up podcasts, Netflix serieses, movies, blogs, YouTube videos, and a bonanza of social media content.

This is causing us to get way the fuck smarter. According to reason.com, American IQ in year 1900 averaged 67 points. By today’s standards, that’s borderline mentally retarded. We are all geniuses compared to the people who came before us, and our grand-children will look like rocket-geniuses compared to us.

Our ancestors, apart from being retarded, where also extremely violent. Including all deaths due to both world wars and all wars since, we are still much more peaceful overall than our ancestors were. Here’s a smart guy with graphs to prove it:

So we might not need brain phones to trigger absolute peace among humans. We seem to be getting there all on our own, thanks in large part to our growing minds.

The Selfish Road and Why I Take It

Living with the least external resistance possible means doing a lot of what other people want you to do.

One can avoid conflict by yielding to the wills of others, and enjoy easy relations with friends, family and coworkers. Smooth sailing.

I did this for a while and I got all angry inside.

I’ve realized recently that I’m very stubborn. When I yield to something I fundamentally disagree with, it fucks me up inside. Lots of stress. I get cankers in my mouth. Not a great way to be. Sailing can be smooth on the outside (between myself and other people), but what good is that if I’m experiencing a fucking hurricane on the inside?

So I’ve started being more aware of my own internal resistance. If I’m resisting something internally, I consider that along with the potential social damage I stand to incur if I decide to do things my way. More and more, I’ve been choosing my own happiness and life has improved dramatically.

For example, last Christmas my aunt was in town. To put things mildly, we don’t get along. So, I didn’t attend family Christmas last year. Lia, Isla and I stayed home, did our own thing. I got a lot of heat for that, but that was the price for a stress-free holiday. Looking back, it was 100% worth it for me and for the family I’m building (with Lia and Isla). They deserve the best version of me (not the stressed me), and at the end of the day my priorities lie with them, and with myself.

Let’s look at the word “Selfish”.

We think the word is bad. It’s simple. “Selfish” is not a good thing to be. But sometimes it is. I think some selfishness is absolutely necessary in the maintenance of personal happiness. I personally believe we should all be more selfish than we currently are. You know what I mean. Don’t hog all the candy, don’t eat the entire cake, don’t be a shit. But do be selfish in prioritizing your happiness over all else. If you’re not happy, what good are you to anyone? I just don’t see sacrificing personal happiness for someone else’s as a sensible long-term approach.

 

Bonus Points if Your Kids Aren’t Torturing Small Animals

I just woke up from a dream where I was photoshopping a car while my grandparents were driving away in it. Both of them are gone now and it leaves an emptiness in me. I find myself forgetting that they’ve died. It will take a few years to adjust to it I think.

It’s easier to see what matters when someone dies. Work doesn’t matter, to me anyway. Maybe yours does. My work could disappear and someone else would fill in the gap.

To say I care about my work isn’t really true. I want it to be good, and I’m compelled to do a very good job – but my reasons for doing a good job aren’t very altruistic if you look closely at them. Business is just better when you do a really good job. More work comes, and there are fewer complications with quality work. I can charge more money because most of the time, I’m the best option on the table. But I’m not doing a good job because I care about it. I used to think I cared about it. I like the work, but that’s different. I like writing code, I care about my cat. You know what – I care about my clients too. But I don’t care about their projects. I don’t invest emotional attachment in the jobs themselves. And the clients I don’t care about, I don’t work for them. I tell them I’m too busy to do their work, and they move on. Things get horrible when I don’t care about the client.

But ya, my grandparents are dead.

Everything they’ve done is over, or at least to them it is. I don’t believe in the afterlife or that Grandpa’s up there looking down on me. And if there was an afterlife, he’d probably watch me once in a while but realize that I’m extremely boring most of the time, or doing things he probably doesn’t want to see haha!

The closest answer I have to thinking about death is that it makes me want to create life. The fact of my death coming makes me want to have more kids. The universe can be seen as battle of life vs cold dark nothingness, and it can be proposed that our job, as living things, is to fight to keep life going. The fun kind of fighting. Where you get to have sex.

Genghis Khan would agree with me here. So would daffodils and rats and even influenza virus. If I had to pick either a virus or nothing, I’d hope the virus lives on. At least it’s alive.

If you zoom out far enough, back away from the details of your reality, you’ll see that success can be measured as basically as you want. I sometimes look at successful parenting as: “Are your kids still alive?”

If you can answer “Yes” then you’re parenting successfully.

Bonus points if your kids aren’t fucked up and sad and torturing small animals. Extra bonus BONUS points if your kids have made their own kids. I think that’s part of why grandparents are so stoked on their grandchildren. The first grandchild means they didn’t fucking fail as parents. They made kids that were at least not too fucked up to attract a mate and have more kids.

I hope old fashioned families come back. It’s shitty that our choice today is “kids or a career” because who wants to be poor with a bunch of kids? Most of the people I know are delaying having kids because it’s the right financial decision. Get established in a career first, then have kids. I’m in that boat too. Lia and I were stable enough financially to have a baby before we decided to go for it. Not rich or anything, but not worrying about bills or food was enough security for us to say fuck it (literally).

You might think a kid would add meaning to your life. I used to think so too, but really what happens (at least for me) is the amount of “meaning” stays roughly the same – it all just transfers to the kid. Everything else loses meaning, and the kid sucks it all up. Even your marriage/partnership is in danger of losing meaning as it all transfers to the new baby. Lia and I are lucky in that we’re game to ride out the changes in our relationship. We’re flexible, and patient. We know we still love each other even when we don’t have time or energy to spend together the way we used to.

If you look at kids from an investing standpoint, the payoff is potentially huge. There’s the obvious emotional reward and fulfillment of watching a miniature version of yourself grow up. This assumes the kid isn’t a complete fuck up, in which case the investment is a horrible one. But in ideal circumstances, there’s also the security of having someone to look after your ass when you’re too fucking old and useless to hack it anymore. Or maybe robots will do it. Or maybe medical breakthroughs will make it so we don’t die.

Here’s a smart guy taking about us not dying:

So here’s the kicker: if medical technology is likely to bring us to a point where we can prevent aging, what does that mean for having children? According to this article at davidsuzuki.org, the earth can only sustain 200 million North Americans indefinitely (because our high-consumption lifestyles and profit-driven corporations suck up so many god damn resources). Last I checked, Canada + USA = about 330 million. This doesn’t include Japan or Australia which suck up resources just as hard as we do.

I interpret this as presenting would-be parents with two choices:

  1. If you want to have a big family: better get started soon. The need to limit global population growth is already here. It’s not unrealistic to expect to see something similar to China’s “One Child Per Family” policy take place within our lives, even as privileged Canadians.
  2. If you want to help the planet, don’t have any kids at all. Stop buying so much shit OR stop driving your car so much OR start sending even a small amount of money to Africa every month. I’m sending 2% of my annual pre-tax income and I haven’t noticed a difference in my quality of life at all. But you can bet those 400 kids that now have mosquito nets and aren’t getting fucking malaria can tell the difference! Go to http://www.charityscience.com/ and start sending money right now. ($6 prevents 2 kids from getting malaria for 1 year. If they don’t have malaria they can go to school. If they go to school their odds of getting out of poverty are exponentially higher. Source: Doing Good Better by William MacAskill.) If you actually sign up to send cash each month, say so in the comments below so we can peer-pressure more people into doing it. Any amount is infinitely better than nothing. We are the richest 1% on the planet. We can afford it.

Is Adulthood the Death of Fun?

Apparently I stopped having fun a long time ago, and became all serious and cunty. This process didn’t happen quickly – and it didn’t happen on purpose. Gradually I just stopped doing the fun things I grew up doing.

Here’s an example: my snowboard has been sitting in my basement gathering dust for probably 5 years now. My parents used to take me to the local resorts several times each winter when I was younger. We even did week-long ski trips! Then when I was in high school my friends and I still snowboarded a fair bit. One of us would borrow a car, and we’d all pile in and go. In college I went a handful of times, maybe once or twice a year. Post college I stopped altogether. Snowboarding became extinct in my world.

Here’s another example: skateboarding. I picked up skateboarding in grade 6ish and was avid for the next 8 years of my life. The skateboard became less about fun and more about transpo in college. Then I got a motorcycle and never skateboarded again. It was either the motorcycle or a car, and rarely a bicycle. But never a skateboard. I was mentally comparing the skateboard to the other vehicles from a transpo perspective, and naturally it lost every time. Fun wasn’t even a consideration. Until now, I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about how fucked that is… that I don’t think about having fun. I don’t try to have fun. I schedule in things that are probably going to be fun, like camping and parties and sports during the week. But day-to-day fun? No. Normal days are for work. I don’t expect to have any fun on a work day.

Super. Fucked. Up.

Rewind to when I was a kid, I made it my god damn business to have fun every day. Hockey, lego, building dirt huts for G.I. Joes, Shooting G.I. Joes with a pellet rifle, throwing a football, playing street hockey, throwing rocks at a telephone post. FUN SHIT WHENEVER POSSIBLE. EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT FAIL.

For adults, even at sports, come to think of it, fun is an afterthought. We play sports for “adult” reasons like the often cited “I need to stay in shape” or “it’s a good way to socialize.” What the fuck does any of that even mean? It means we’re all cunts. Boring, dusty, cunts. (Unless you’re the rare bird who plays sports for the fun of it, then you’re exempt from being a cunt.)

Adult sports teams mostly want to win. Adult athletes generally evaluate their level of enjoyment based on whether they’re winning or losing, making good plays or not. We analyze it and poke at it and inspect it. I think that’s OK now and then, but not as the norm. I think we should be playing sports with the primary reason of sports are fun as fuck to play. We don’t do sports. We play sports. We’re all playing together. That’s all it is. We should be aiming to have as much fun as we can, not arguing about calls or fouls or other bullshit. And hey, I’m like that too. I’m guilty! I get all angry and shitty when I’m playing sports. It’s no good! I need to fucking stop and slap myself and get back to the basic, simple fun of it.

Recently I did something new. I took my skateboard on the GO train because my bicycle wasn’t allowed during rush hour. It was busy in Toronto so I did a lot of weaving through crowds, at a good clip. The weaving was different than just going straight, from point A to point B. The weaving was fun. I was accidentally having fun again. I didn’t realize that I’d ever stopped having fun on a skateboard. I also didn’t keep it up. Months went by, and I still didn’t skateboard for fun.

Today I took Isla out for a rip in her stroller. I took my skateboard too. Pushing a stroller is a fuck of a lot more fun when you’re on a skateboard. The stroller wants to go the opposite way I lean on it, so if I lose my balance a little and push on the stroller things get interesting! It was fucking awesome. Isla loved it. I loved it. We covered like 4k. We went fast. I got stares from everyone. One guy yelled, “Yaaaa you’ve figured it out!” and I yelled “Quality parenting right here!”

Isla on my skateboard

I also play Pokemon Go, so I caught a bunch of Pokemons too.

We also somewhat bombed down a couple hills that we maybe shouldn’t have. That’s the only part that felt a little unsafe and we’ll definitely bring helmets for the next round because the hills were the best part.

Galavanting concluded as 6 o’clock rolled around, so to speak, and we headed home for Isla’s dinnerbathbedtime. Baby down, Lia hopped over to the other side of the house to get some painting done in the bathroom. I was left to my own devices and figured hey, fuck it, I’m going out to tear around a bit more.

I found a parking lot, freshly paved, and shredded the fuck out of it.

Kids yelled at me “HEY COOL TECHNIQUE!” because I was pumping the skateboard like a surfboard. And it was cool technique. Remember, I spent 8 years skateboarding. I’m pretty fucking good at it. And now I surf too, it’s a surefire combo for looking dope as fuck to a bunch of high schoolers.

For reference, this is how Kelly fucking Slater pumps a surfboard!

I found a couple hills and bombed down them (nearly wiped out on a wide turn at the bottom of the last hill, but held on)!

It’s the most fun I’ve had in months.

We don’t need to drink to have fun. We can do things we did as kids, that’s fun too. I’m not anti-drinking, but I am anti-not-doing-fun-shit-you-used-to-do-as-a-kid. If you wanna get drunk and play with lego, I’d be your first and biggest and possibly only fan. But I expect a lot of people would be jealous of your “childish” ass, deep down. So do it.

Fun and work can coexist in the same day. I think it needs to. Otherwise, the best we can hope for is a fun to boring ratio of 2:5. Not so hot.

I’m going to be trying harder not to be such a serious cunt and to just have fun again.

Adulthood is not the death of fun.

This is your invitation to play again.

Because, according to the immutable genius of Taylor Swift, you’ve got two choices:

The player’s gonna play and the hater’s gonna hate.

 

Mint Tea Nostalgia, Retarded Stuttering Grandpa

I don’t know what I’m going to write about this time so I’ll just keep the fingers moving and see what happens.

My friend Danko has been living in Germany for the past few years and he just came to my house and visited last weekend. He’s been looking for a permanent place to live, which is ballsy I think. He loves aspects of Canada but hates the winter, the Toronto drivers, and lots of other things. Enough other things to want to find another home. Or maybe there just isn’t enough here that he loves. I don’t know.

There’s a lot here that I love. And it’s easier to live here than anywhere else. I’m lucky to have been born here, the healthcare is great, jobs are not easy to get but better than most other places I’d consider living. Not that jobs are terribly relevant to me, but the economy is. A strong economy is good for a freelancer.

Sometimes I get a little broken-hearted about thinking of all my old college friends and where they are today. Just that we’re not all together anymore. There was a time when most of us lived in two apartments, in twin apartment buildings, a short pitching wedge shot apart. We used to hit golfballs at each others buildings. I used to see most of my friends every day. That was school. It wasn’t real life, but it was fun.

Real life is bigger. I make money now, instead of just haemorrhaging cash from an OSAP loan. Money has made a lot of things better. I have independence.

I think what I miss is that closeness of school. I’m alone right now because Isla’s sleeping and Lia’s at book club, and I’m lonely. I don’t feel lonely very often. I’m a little sad. I kind of like it. I’m going to make myself mint tea, with cream and honey in it, and keep writing.

The kettle’s heating up the water.

I’m making myself all nostalgic. Tea makes me nostalgic. So does fall. It’s like having a broken heart, which sounds bad but it’s nice because it brings me into the moment. It makes me feel things more intensely, like music.

My grandma died, what, about a week ago. Sudden heart failure. I think I miss her now. I didn’t before, it’s crazy how long the shock can last. I didn’t cry until I was alone in my car, driving. A bunch of starlings were doing that swarm thing where they look like a big blob of birds in the sky. They were doing that in front of a sunset. I cried a lot.

I always wonder about my grandpa. We were really close, he died nearly 5 years to the day before my grandma. She died a day before his deathiversary, a week after her birthday, two weeks after his.

My grandpa was really into me building things. My earliest memory of him, he’s teaching me how to use a handsaw. Orange handle, whippy blade. Start it like this: draw the saw toward you, using the side of your thumb as a guide. It makes a shallow kerf. Don’t press down, let the saw do the work. Just focus on keeping the saw straight.

I still build things. I love building things. It reminds me of him. It’s how I remember him.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-8-09-43-pm

I don’t know how I’ll remember my grandma. We didn’t really have anything special we did together. When I was a little kid I used to go on walks with her and her dogs. They were huge. My dog name was Autumn. It was me, grandma, Winter, Eric, and Kenya. Sean was there too I don’t think he had a dog name. I don’t know why Eric had such a boring name, the rest of us had cool names. Eric. It suited him though. He was big and calm, except when he saw another male dog sniffing around near his bitches. Apparently Eric knocked a dog over once and ripped its dick and balls off. Eric had epilepsy and they had to put him down, lots of seizures. Shitty way to go.

My tea’s steeped. Time to add shit to it.

Fuck I love mint tea.

Fuck I love the work Fuck. Look at it. Fuck. F U C K. They’re all beautiful letters, all together. Even if I had a stutter I’d love to say fufuck.

My grandpa used to pretend to have a stutter. He used to pretend to be retarded too. It was the best. Not in public or anything, but at thanksgiving dinner he’d usually fuck around and make everyone laugh. Or just whenever he had a surge of energy and needed to do a jig and a bit of a retard shuffle.

So not drinking is going pretty well. Or when I drink, drinking less. Not getting totally fucking wasted I should say. I’ve bent and broken my one drink rule twice now. I don’t mind. As long as I keep coming back to it as a default for the evening, I think it will keep being a useful system. A couple weekends ago my friend Don lent me a massive soup ladle, it fit 5.5 cans of beer in it. That was my drink for the night. I remember at the end of the ladle thinking I wanted another beer, but I didn’t have one. I didn’t do that on purpose, I just didn’t end up getting to the beer in time to get one while I still wanted one. By the time I was near the beer, the urge had passed and I was thinking about getting to bed.

I often wonder about living somewhere else. Or maybe just some of the time. I think it would be a good thing for me to do. I like the idea of moving around. But there are two distinct mindsets adopted depending on where I am. If I’m in Peterborough, I have a much tamer frame of mind. When I’m travelling, I’m way more adventurous in my head. Lia too. We’ve talked about this. We’ve found that it’s really difficult to make travel decisions from home, but it’s easy to make travel decisions even from the car – on a long drive. Something about moving. It inspires us.

I’ve been making a lot of safe choices lately, and now I know what that’s like. It’s like a house, and a deck, and a bunch of renovations on the house, and renting rooms in the house, and getting new clients and working and meeting the clients and doing a good job.

I struggle with thinking about things in more than a binary fashion. Like either travelling or not. I’d like to think of travel as more of a thing that I’m always open to, and when it happens, great. Being game for anything is becoming more important as I get older. It’s getting really easy to string together a bunch of days that are pretty much exactly the same.

There are lots of people whose days are exactly the same, over and over again, and I’m becoming more like those people.

Some of that I enjoy. Some of it I don’t. I think the biggest part that I don’t enjoy is the lack of adventure.

We don’t really live in an adventurous culture, I don’t think. And yet, I think most people crave the shit out of adventure. There’s the tricky part of adventure costing money, if you want to go to a different country. But then, if we were serious about it, we’d find a way.

Danko’s found a way. He’s visiting all kinds of countries in Europe, and he won’t be stopping there. Our recent talks painted him in hotter places, by the ocean, still looking for his perfect place to live. I hope he finds it. Or maybe he won’t. Maybe his perfect place is always somewhere else. That’s fine too, if that’s what makes him happy.

I didn’t realize how much I missed him until he visited. I miss him so much. But I think it’s better this way. It’s better than not missing him. It’s better than when he lived in Toronto and wasn’t very happy and I wasn’t missing him. Maybe missing is in the wrong category. It should be a good thing to miss someone, but I’ve always thought of it as a negative emotion. It’s worth appreciating, the feeling of missing someone. It’s an opportunity to reflect, and love, and feel grateful for someone. I don’t do much of that, I’d like to do more.

Would You Trade 10 Years of Life for $1.8 Million?

 

Would you trade 10 years of life for 1.8 million dollars?

Just for fun, let’s make an upfront decision to either take the cash or not. I’ll admit that my first answer was “YES, GIMME THE MONEY” before I sat down and really thought about it. What’s your answer?

Got it? Ok, let’s move on and try to figure this out for real.

A standard method of creating a relationship between money and time is to follow this line of reasoning:

“Well, I make $30/hour at work, so one hour of my life is worth $30.”

Using $30/hour as a starting point, let’s assume that you’re awake and conscious for 16 hours/day, which means that each of those waking hours is worth $30. So each day of your life is worth $480. Let’s make it easy and call it $500. Each day of your life = $500.

Would you trade a day of life in exchange for $500?

Would I? Maybe! Probably yes.

What if we stretch the timeline to cover 10 years? $500/day x 365 days in a year x 10 years = $1,825,000.

Would I take $1.8 million and give 10 years away? Ooooh, things just got tricky. $1.8 million is a shitload of cash! I could do great things with that much money. I could quit working and just surf and travel, I’d only work when and if I felt like it. That much cash would give me so much freedom!

Before YOU take the cash though, let’s take a closer look at the fine print:

The sacrificial years come from your WORKING life, not your retired life. You’re not getting the $1.8 million and dying at age 70 instead of age 80. You’re skipping FORWARD 10 years, then getting the cash, then still dying at age 80.

In other words, we’re trading our youth for the money. Why the fine print? Because that’s exactly how it works in reality. We trade our days for cash during the best years of our lives, and we have access to the bulk of our money in retirement.

So for me, Lia and I would skip to age 40. Our daughter would skip from 1 to 11 years old, and we’d get paid a bunch of money to do it.

Does the deal sound a little shittier? It should! It definitely makes it harder to say yes to the money.

The problem with how we compare our time to money is we’re short-sighted. We think we have all the time in the world, but we don’t. And while we’re trading our time for money, we’re trading our best years first.

 

Not convinced? Let’s say I made the timeline longer. If I were to skip to age 80 at $500/day I’d be trading the next 50 years of my life for $9.1 million. Would I take that deal? Fuck. No.

The key concept: money becomes LESS valuable and time becomes more valuable as we get closer to death. 

And the added kicker is we can always die at any moment. We don’t think it’s true, but it is. People die all the time. I could die today, you could die tomorrow, and both of us WILL die someday.

We’re all gonna die!

We don’t have a choice about that. But we do have some choice over what we spend our time doing before we go tits up. Let’s spend our time like champions, and make the choices necessary to be happy now AND happy later.

How in the fuck do I do that???

A basic tactic I’ve stolen from Chris Guillebeau is to write down 4 sentences before I go to bed, answering these 4 basic questions:

1: What didn’t I like doing today?

2: How can I do less of it tomorrow?

3: What did I like doing today?

4: How can I do more of it tomorrow?

Answering these 4 questions every night has revealed that I tend to automatically just do shit at work that I don’t really enjoy. These are things that I should either minimize or eliminate entirely. By writing them down after the fact, I gradually become more aware of the bad parts of my day, and I become more active in minimizing them.

Answering these questions every night has also revealed that I enjoy doing other things, like going on small outings with Lia and Isla, working on side projects, and playing organized sports. These are things which I should be doing more of every day. Seeing it all in writing every night is a useful check-in with myself to see if I’m on a good path or not, and forces me to think about how I can make small changes in order to create days that add up to be pretty damn enjoyable.

Love you all. Thanks for reading.

 

The Book that Cost Me $61,202.95

Okay, flashy title, I know. But it’s true. This god damn book will cost me $61,202.95 over the next 51 years, paying $100/month. Here’s how I justified the expenditure:

We all know at least one person (or maybe we ARE that person) who is always worrying about not having enough money. Here are a couple facts to keep in your back pocket which will end the pity party with a hefty bitch-slapping of real life:

If you earn more than $52,000 USD per year, you belong to the richest 1% on the planet.

If you earn at least $28,000 (that’s the typical income for working individuals in the United States), you’re in the richest 5% of the world’s population.

Even someone living below the US poverty line, earning just $11,000 per year is still richer than 85% of people in the world.

There are 1.2 billion people in the world who earn $1.5o per day or less. Do they survive on $1.50 per day? Not really. They die regularly. People in this income bracket have a pathetic life expectancy of only 56 years, compared to our mighty 81 year Canadian life expectancy.

How should we feel about this? We should feel really fucking lucky. We should wake up every day and scream for joy. If you’re having trouble feeling grateful for things in your day to day life, hopefully this post will help you be grateful for your lunch, your shirt, your parents, and your bed.

If your feelings end there, fine. Just by being more grateful and less of a cunt, you’re make a positive difference in the world. Go get ’em tiger.

If you’re still reading, maybe you’re a little pissed off and wondering, “What should we DO to fix this fucking shit?” Well, we shouldn’t give our spare change to that cocksucker outside the LCBO. Unless he sucks our cocks for the change. Assuming he’s mentally sound enough to string together a semi-coherent sentence, that motherfucker has access to all the social support he needs. Even the crazy ones have people hunting for them in vans when it gets cold, to try to keep them from freezing to death by offering blankets and an optional ride to an albeit packed and shitty homeless shelter. But it’s still shelter, and there’s still food, even if it’s shitty food. I’m not saying the bum has a good life, but I am saying he doesn’t deserve our charity dollars above what we already pay in tax to keep our not-so-shitty social support systems running.

What we should do with our spare change is send it to those poor disease-ridden fucks starving and shitting themselves to death in horrible places without a god damn hope in hell.

We should send those guys a little bit of money, regularly. And because we’re lazy cunts, we don’t even have to think about it. There are people out there who love to think about this shit all day and will take our money and stick it where it counts most.

One such organization is GiveWell (UPDATE: For Canadians, Charity Science is a better option for tax reasons). They highlight charities that are thoroughly vetted, evidence-backed, and underfunded. They find charities that are powerfully effective in helping the ultra-poor, by turning pennies into fucking miracles, but are not all that sexy from a marketing standpoint (AHEM! Breast cancer, child cancer, cancer cancer… these orgs don’t need your charity bucks, send that cash to the Malaria-ridden sub-Saharan Africans instead).

So what did Ryan Lowe do (other than refer to himself in third-person)?

Like ripping off a band-aid, he clicked on the GiveWell link and then the Donate button, afraid he was going to chicken out the entire time. Then he entered $100 next to the line that says: Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion. Ryan likes not having to research shit, and he trusts that GiveWell is going to do a better job allocating his money than he could possibly do himself.

He then picked Every Month for how often he makes his donation.

He entered his name, addy, and credit card info, and typed his daughter’s name as the person he’s dedicating the donation on behalf of. That made him feel all good inside. Like the world is gonna be a slightly better place for his little girl to grow up in.

Then he held his breath and clicked the Donate button.

Here’s Ryan’s confirmation email if you think I’m full of shit:

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 8.02.58 PM

 

Ryan has always felt like a little bit of a cunt for not doing more to help those who have fucking nothing. Now Ryan feels a whole lot better about himself, and probably won’t miss that hundred bucks anyway… especially now that he’s decided to only have one beer at a time.


Back to First Person and Some Math:

Stats at the beginning of this post were stolen from this book. It cost $2.95. If I live to the average Canadian age of 81 I will make 612 more monthly donations of $100. That adds up to $61,200, plus the book price for the total $61,202.95. Hopefully our fucking dollar evens out a little to make this whole process more bearable. But if it doesn’t, fuck it. I lucked out by being born in Canada and I know what it’s like to shit myself for days on end, and I don’t like it. If that’s how people out there are dying, I’ll gladly part with $100/month to help make it stop.

UPDATE:

GiveWell donations are NOT tax-deductible in Canada. However, Canadians can set up regular contributions through Charity Science and 100% of the donations go through to the Charities. Also we don’t get boned on the US dollar being so high.

I have cancelled my GiveWell contribution and set up a Charity Science contribution (for $100 CAD/month), which will be buying mosquito nets to cover children while they sleep so mosquitoes don’t give them god damn malaria.

Here’s the nice card they send when you donate:

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 8.47.37 PM

 

 

 

 

Why Do I Drink?

Why do I drink?

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to really think about it, so here’s a quick list of my reasons for drinking, off the top of my head:

  • It’s fun
  • Everyone else does
  • Why not?

This is more of an exploration of my own thoughts than anything else. At some point, back in high school, I began drinking at parties. It was very much a coming of age thing, as well as a social thing. Not everyone drank, and it felt good to be a part of the group that did. College was essentially the same story. My friends and I “knew how to party” and that felt like a good social space to exist in. I definitely don’t regret any of my younger, stupider years.

The problem is now I’m old(er). I’m a father. My hangovers are brutal. After my bachelor party, I wasn’t back to my normal self for 4 days.

I’ve never been the type of person to do a “cleanse”. I don’t believe in that shit. Either do something full-time or don’t. The accomplishment of not drinking for a month doesn’t substantiate any gains in my mind. There’s no permanent change, just an intermission in the shit show.

I much more like the idea of the “One or None” drinking pattern. I don’t know if I could do it, but I like to think that life would be better if I took it on. One or None is just like it sounds. You have one drink, or none. All you’re guarding against is the landslide of one leading to 10 without that being a choice that was ever made.

I won’t be thinking of this as if I’m doing it for a month. I will think of it as if I’m doing it forever. This is now my way of drinking. Either I have a single drink, or I don’t. And of course I can cheat. A litre of beer is still just one beer if the cup’s big enough. But I have to drink it before it gets warm. Sadly, this will still prevent me from drinking as much as I currently do. And also I may very well decide that I hate life without drinking and go back to how I was before. But I don’t think I will.

Being a dad makes other things more important than partying. Morning things. Like being able to keep your eyes open at 8am on a Saturday while your daughter hits you in the face with a fly swatter. I personally feel like triple the bag of shit when I’m hungover and trying to be there for my kid. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers quit all substances right after he had his first child, and now I get it. I just don’t think it’s realistic for me personally to quit drinking altogether. I still fucking love drinking.

Here are 4 benefits in taking the One or None approach:

  1. You still get to fly under the radar in most drinking situations. Having only one beer isn’t going to rustle anyone’s feathers and result in you having to defend your reasoning in front of an angry mob of drunks. Unless you’re somehow the first male to get bum-pregnant, it’s socially impossible for a guy to get away with drinking water at a party.
  2. Sometimes you just need a drink, and you still get to have one.
  3. No more worrying about whether you’re good to drive or not. I will admit that I’ve flirted with this line and I’m not proud of it.
  4. This should have been point #1: NO MORE FUCKING HANGOVERS. My wife says the best she’s ever felt was the year she stopped drinking while pregnant and into breastfeeding newborn Isla. I haven’t been anywhere close to that sober in my adult life. I’m curious to see what it’s like.