Street Fighting Asian Women and a Foam Igloo

5 hours jet lag and a toddler waking up at 4am puts a different kind of spin on travel. It’s like we’ve relapsed into newborn-era sleep deprivation, but redemption comes in the form of everyone being extremely nice to us (on account of the toddler). That and the weather is fucking incredible. The rain isn’t even rain. It happens daily, it’s like that falling mist for anyone familiar with the same effect occurring at Niagara Falls. With the heat, it’s generally welcome. Like those stupid mist-yourself-in-the-face bottles that were popular last summer with joggers.

So far my big fear of surfers bullying me out of good waves hasn’t happened yet because there haven’t been any “good” waves – just modest hip-high stuff the local population doesn’t care about. But I gobble it up! The worst surf here is still as good or better than the best on the Lakes.

Working remotely hasn’t been a problem. The timing is also good because most of my clients have wrapped it up for Christmas anyway.

Waikiki is expensive. Pave The Beach in Toronto and plant Yorkville directly along Ashbridges Bay, and that’s kind of what Waikiki is – this yuppy offshoot of a much more urban Honolulu. Things are white and asian and rich here. Japanese writing on everything. Walking the sidewalks is an opportunity to trip over $5000 miniature dogs while their owners struggle to manage armfuls of shopping bags embossed with brands I can’t pronounce properly. Real Christmas trees shipped in from mainland.

Step outside of Waikiki and into a dramatically less manicured Honolulu for a chance to see an Asian woman chasing a shoplifter down the street, hitting him with a broom stick while her husband attempts to hit the man with a projectile Diet Coke. The can misses and ruptures, spraying wildly all over the sidewalk, which was already covered in broken glass. I don’t think you can quite call it poverty, just a perfectly contrasted bit of rich and poor America sharing the same stretch of coastline.

Throughout the day intermittent bursts of urgent yelling drifts up 25 storeys and reminds us of our proximity to the canal, and to a thriving dragon boating community.

Dollar pints and $4 pitchers are available if you don’t mind hiking 20 minutes into town to get drunk at the mall in the Shirokiya Japanese Food Court. Apparently it’s the place to be on Saturday nights. Cheap beer and a wild variety of menus covering everything from sushi to curry udon to gyoza and garlic chicken. I asked a fat security guard what his favourite place was in the food court, he refused to commit to suggesting one because he eats at all of them and apparently they’re all awesome. Isla found a Christmas display and tore into the cotton snow before peeing on the floor.

We’ve made her an igloo out of the memory foam mattress I used to pack my surfboard for the flight over. Air Canada still managed to smash the side of it, the cunts. No free food on a 10 hour flight either, so we bought $7 Kraft Dinner and some other airplane food. The foam igloo muffles sound and keeps it dark while Isla sleeps, day or night.

Having the stroller is a godsend. We weren’t sure if it was the right thing to do to bring it or not, which adequately illustrates how inaccurately Lia and I imagined what it would be like to move around with a toddler and without a car. We have a lot of shit wherever we go, and we make full use of the stroller’s ability to take a respectable amount of said shit in addition to loads of groceries. It’s bad when the downward force on the frame causes the wheels to buckle outward and make me wonder what the actual weight restriction is on the thing. I don’t imagine it’s built to withstand what we’re putting it through – but so far it’s holding up!

4 more days here then onto Makaha with a rented car. From there, excursions to other parts of the island to scout for potential locations to stay for longer spans of time. I’m working on getting my paddling up to par before exposure to larger surf. The West and North are supposed to offer impressive conditions during these next few months, and I’d hate to be in a position to not be surfing because it’s too good.

 

Not Being A Professional

I caught myself not doing things because I wasn’t going to take it through to the point where I’d be able to make money doing it. The thought would be something like, “I feel like playing guitar right now” then another thought would say “Well, why? Are you going to play professionally? Are you going to be a musician?” and then I’d say “no” and not play.

The same thing was happening with art. I’d studied art in school in the belief that I’d end up creating art professionally. When that didn’t happen, I stopped making art. The “Why do this if it won’t pay me money?” question was silently cock-blocking my creativity.

But really, not getting paid for something is a very good thing. It means nobody gets to have any god damn say in what you’re doing. The moment you sell your shit, you are accountable to the person buying it. What lovely freedom resides in not having to give a fuck about anyone else but yourself when you do the things you love doing.

Here is a drawing that I loved doing:

life drawing 1

It’s good to be a professional when making money, building strong relationships, and delivering on whatever you said you’d do.

I think it’s bad to be a professional when exploring yourself creatively. I think creativity is a place for immaturity and childishness where no promises are made or kept, no consequences or expectations exist, and above all you get to do whatever the fuck you want to do.

Here’s another set of drawings that felt god damn awesome:

I don’t know about y’all – but I feel really good when I make stuff. Writing, snow forts, decks, bread, it doesn’t matter. The making seems to matter more than what I make. And by that logic, when I stop is irrelevant. I don’t have any pressure to finish what I’m doing. There’s no need to do a “good job”. There’s just the need to be “doing”.

I don’t know if creation is inherently important for all humans, but I suspect it is. Maybe it’s like eating and shitting. We take so much in, but what comes out?

I’ve deleted Clash of Clans and Pokemon and Chess from my phone. Those games were fun in the moment, but the moment they ended I had nothing to show for my time and energy. I’ve replaced time on my phone with time with dough or a pencil or a saw in my hand. The stuff I make accumulates. It’s real. It would be awesome to leave behind a lifetime of sketchbooks, pottery, songs, stories, photos. Every hour spend watching Netflix is an hour I could have also been painting. And ya, down time is important too. Shutting down the creative machine is, for me at least, necessary in order for the batteries to recharge. But it’s always harder to power it back up again, which is why it’s that much more necessary.

In the cardboardy wisdom of @dankosaurus:

 

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.

Why Routines Set Us Up to Live in the Zone

I’m blogging so I don’t go on my phone and play chess. The robots in Westworld run loops every day, and I do too. Their loops are programmed by someone else, my loops are programmed (I hope) by me.

Sometimes I take a step back and look at my loops. The day is made up of a handful of them. Routines. There are bigger routines for the week, and the season, and the year. I live with them. We all do.

I don’t think I’ve actively created my loops. I think they’ve just come into existence naturally. They seem to form mostly utilitarian functions. I don’t think loops are good or bad for the most part, they’re just helpful so we can get shit done without having to spend lots of brain energy making decisions.

So maybe loops are a product of our brains going into a “decision-economy” mode, and allowing for some surplus mental power.

 

Surplus mental power, mmmmmmmmm.

The problem is I rarely spend my surplus mental power on anything useful. I sit the fuck down and play games on my phone is what I do. Like a lazy cunt. But sometimes when I do something NEW that I’ve never done before, that’s when shit is amazing. That’s when that extra brain energy gets SPENT instead of getting sucked out of my eyeballs by my phone screen.

Spending brain power on new things feels good. As we get older, we need to put more effort into seeking out and doing new shit. Kids don’t need to worry about this yet. Everything is new. I showed Isla a paper-thin sheet of ice today melting under a slow trickle of water from the tap and it blew her mind. The way the ice melted with a bit of water running over it blew my mind too, because I was looking at it with Isla and really paying attention. I’d never tried melting ice with water to make it look cool. It had all these holes like swiss cheese, and was spiky like antlers, and so thin it felt like it was barely there. It was amazing for a few seconds where the ice was in that insanely delicate stage, I’d turned off the water and the warmth of the air was still causing it to melt and change rapidly.

Another way I found “new” was cooking some dinners I’d never done before. Just following recipes that had awesome ratings online. You know how people talk about being in the “zone”? I was in the fucking zone, baby.

How you can tell you’re in the zone:

  1. You lose track of time.
  2. You are consumed with what you’re doing.
  3. You aren’t thinking about the past or the future. You’re PRESENT.
  4. You have that feeling that you’re in the fucking ZONE, bitches.

So I guess the moral of this blog post is to let your loops be loops, don’t get too worried about life being Groundhog Day. Just be the version of Bill Murray who gets in the zone and does a bunch of new things and learns how to play piano. Don’t be the version of Bill Murray who turns into an asshole and shits all over everyone because he’s fucking miserable. The difference between the two Bills is zonal positioning – one is fucking in, the other is fucking out.

 

 

 

 

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.

Why Men Should Leave The Seat Up

Men should leave the toilet seat up

At home the toilet seat stays down. Things can’t fall in, and Lia doesn’t like to touch the seat. Makes her feel gross.

But shared public washrooms got me thinking.

I want to be as courteous as possible for the next person, so sometimes when I’m feeling all do-goody I get a wad of TP and sop up all the piss covering the seat, lift the seat, piss in the bowl, and return the seat to the down position. It might seem like this is absolutely the kindest possible thing to do for women everywhere, but it isn’t and I’ll tell you why. The “Clean Seat Down” policy benefits the next person if she happens to be a woman, or a guy that needs to shit, but there’s third person who fucks everything up. If the next person’s a man needing to pee, there’s a good chance he’s not going to lift the perfectly clean seat. He’s going to enter the scenario with the best intentions possible, telling himself he has perfect aim and fully planning to leave the seat spotless. But alas, nobody’s aim is perfect all the time. Even a dude with really good aim is going to get a few tiny, piss-mist (or piss-missed) splatters on the seat which, unto itself doesn’t seem like a flagrant breach of public dual-sex bathroom etiquette. Piss mist is easy on the conscience. Lots of guys leave piss mist without a second thought. “Hey,” he thinks, “at least I’m not that asshole that pisses all over the seat.” He zips up and walks away feeling pretty good about himself. But really, he IS the asshole that fucked everything up.

Here’s how: The piss-mister puts the next pisser in a pickle. If the next pisser is a lady, she’s got to wipe up those little piss speckles, or hover. If the next pisser is a guy, he’s going to spy those few speckles of missed piss and go, “Hey! This seat’s all ready been peed on! I’m not lifting this seat and touching that gross piss.” So he pees, probably pretty carelessly, and from there things just get horrible. Guy after guy visit the stall with decreasing give a fuck about where their streams end up.

I’ve been there. If I show up and the seat’s a write off, I’m not at all careful about aiming. The damage is done. Total mob-mentality and diffusion of responsibility. I’m guilty. But I want to change. That’s why I’ve given this so much thought.

And all that thinking about public toilet seats lead to this epiphany: It’s better to leave the seat up.

I just checked with Lia and she said if she finds the seat up, she uses her foot to lower it. This is way better than Lia having to wipe up piss, or hover over a pissy seat.

And, if the seat’s clean when I show up, I don’t even have to touch it. I can lift it with my foot pretty easily.

Now that I’ve written this post I’ll probably also use a handful of toilet paper to wipe the pissed-on-seat before lifting it and leaving it. Just to be able to feel like a hero to all of womanity.

Did this post bring public bathroom horror stories to mind? Leave them in the comments!

 

 

Making Beer, Bread, Logs and Quarters

This week I made a few things, and it felt awesome. In keeping with my previous post Is Adulthood The Death Of Fun, I’ve been consciously having more fun during the week. Doing those things I’ve been meaning to do.

To kick it off, I finally got around to brewing beer. During the process, I was fairly certain I’d never do it again. Luke, a friend with brewing experience, says this is how most new brewers feel. It’s a lot of work. BUT, after the brewing is complete, you have this beautiful bubbling jug of (very nasty looking) India Pale Ale:

img_20161030_155551

I’m a big advocate of doing things that are intrinsically rewarding. Brewing beer wasn’t like that for me. But the payoff at the end of even just looking at it every day while it ferments is very rewarding. Enough so that I’d do it again, with better gear, and more people to share the work. I picture brewing a large batch with several buddies as being some real good fun.

Next, Bread

My friend Tyler knows how to make sourdough bread, so I asked him to teach me. I didn’t even care to know how to make sourdough specifically, I would have been happy with just mixing water and flour and baking it. But that’s not how Tyler does things so instead we tackled one of the most difficult breads, and it took several days. This is what resulted:

img_20161027_162333

Riding high having just baked that awesome loaf, I tried a solo bake at home and failed utterly. The dough was all soupy, it wasn’t even bakable. I had to chuck it.

Sourdough is a god damn tricky process. You’re working with water, flour, and yeast that just floats around in the air. That was a revelation for me, the fact that you don’t add yeast. It just kind of finds your mix and gets in there and starts colonizing. Awesome. You can’t even take yeast from one place and use it in another, long term. The local yeast will just take over, and your foreign yeast disappears. So the most important thing about French bread, it turns out, could be that it’s made in France where the yeast is apparently awesome. That’s how I interpret it anyway. That and they really know how to fucking bake in France.

Wood

This is the opposite of beer. I love everything about the early stages of getting wood ready for the winter. Hiking out and finding some decent lumber, hauling it home, cutting it into logs, stacking it inside. The whole thing feels amazing. This is how I imagine squirrels feel.

img_20161030_155219

Lia and I talk about “feeling rich” when we have certain things taken care of. Like groceries. A full fridge makes us feel rich. A stocked wood cubby makes me feel rich too. It just looks abundant. I just sit there and stare at my wood sometimes. It’s almost a shame to burn some of these pieces, they’re gorgeous.

Art

I don’t draw anymore and it’s a fucking tragedy. I used to absolutely love to draw. But then I went to college and spent 4 years learning how to draw better, which was great, but I also learned how to look at art and mentally dissect every little thing about it. Being hyper-critical ruined the fun for me, and I stopped drawing because my mind wouldn’t get out of the way. I was pissing myself off. But now I’m finally getting my toes back in the water and it feels great. Lia was gum ball machine for halloween so I was a quarter.

Gumball machine and quarter couples costume

I drew it with sharpies.

img_20161030_155521

So that’s it! If you’ve been doing anything cool and new, throw it in the comments! Let’s dog-pile some fun shit!

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.