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.

If the Aliens Come Now, We’re Fucked

The new version of Monopoly is played with bank cards instead of paper money. The game’s still fun, and goes a lot faster than the original version, but it does away with our ability to fuck with the rules (because there’s a central card reader which keeps track of player cash balances and property holdings. No more free-wheeling land trades or desperate negotiations because you’re broke! In the old game, my specialty was piling up a lot of cash then going for a “night on the town” and blowing it all on expensive hotels (which I never owned). I was generally out first.

Playing the new Monopoly got me wondering about old games vs. modern games, and why I preferred some over others. I think it comes down to the same reason why my jiu jitsu instructor preferred grappling over striking. Jiu jitsu over boxing or muay thai.

“It’s rare, but an amateur can get lucky and knock out a professional with a wild punch. That just doesn’t happen in jiu jitsu. On the ground, the amateur loses every single time.”

There’s no luck jiu jitsu. The better guy wins every time. I like that.

That’s also why I like chess. Both players have exactly the same pieces. There’s next to zero room for luck. Chess just gets out of the way and lets two people compete in as fair and true a way as humans have yet devised.

The best games do that. They move aside and let the competitors clash directly. The shittiest games do all the playing and the opponents are just puppets, playing out the will of the rules, the luck, and the dice.

Slot machines are shitty games.

Roulette is a shitty game.

Poker is a great game.

Most sports are excellent games.

Mobile games are almost all shitty. Clash of clans, which I was addicted to but am now playing less and less because of Pokemon GO, balances complex strategy and totally unfair match ups. As players progress in the game, they cannot be beaten by newer players – not because of increased skill but because of flat out better troops and defences.

Pokemon GO is similar. Brand new players have absolutely no chance of winning battles. Their pokemon just suck way too much. Advanced players dominate entire towns, only because they’ve been playing for longer. The longer you play Pokemon GO or Clash of Clans, the more powerful you become in those games.

I’m not a big fan of that. Playing something for a length of time shouldn’t guarantee progress. And that’s why I think it will eventually peter out and die like every other mobile game. It has a lifespan. You progress through the game, maybe you make it to the end, and then you either finish the game or quit.

Chess will never die. The pieces in chess don’t get better or worse. The amount of time someone plays chess guarantees nothing. It’s on the player to get better. The game doesn’t help us along.

This is maybe a reflection of our times vs our ancestors. Our ancestors invented chess, we invented Pokemon GO. Our ancestors were ballsy enough to fight with the same weapon as the new guy, year after year. We seem to think that we deserve a better weapon if we’ve been around for a while, so we can utterly obliterate the new guy.

This is why we’re a bunch of pussies and why our grandparents are so much tougher than we are. It’s also why the next generation is 100% useless compared to us.

Humans, in North America anyway, are getting really god damn soft.

If the aliens come now, we’re fucked.

 

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.

My 5 Best Decisions of Life, Being a Meat Sack, and Porno

Here is a countdown of the 5 best decisions I’ve ever made, in my life.

#5 Buying a House, Not in Toronto

first house
Stoked! First HOUSE!

As if I could have bought in Toronto if I’d wanted to! Nope. But having control over my own tiny kingdom is a fantastic feeling. Like anyone with their first car, I got a huge jolt of feeling of freedom when Lia and I bought our little Honda Civic, but that feeling was nothing compared with moving into our own house. For us, being located outside of Toronto has also dramatically improved our lives from an emotional standpoint. Our overall stress is a fraction of what it was when we lived in that city, our cost of living is lower, and the pace of life in Peterborough makes much more sense to us.

#4 Becoming a Freelancer

People think I’m my own boss, and that’s far from true but I’m definitely not complaining. Instead of having one boss, I have a dozen. None of them know who the others are, so I can get fired by one and still keep the rest. This gives me a lot more liberty than if I only had one boss and if my entire paycheque depended on that single relationship. There is much less stress in knowing that I can lose several of my jobs and still get by. If one of my bosses drives my stress beyond a tolerable threshold, I end the relationship and focus on finding a lower-maintenance replacement.

For the first few years of my “self”-employment (it would be more accurate to call it “multi”-employment) I made just enough to pay rent, eat, and occasionally get drunk. Now I’m making enough to live in comfortable frugality, support a family, pay a mortgage, save a little, and travel occasionally. Some days my life follows more of a “retired” pattern, other weeks I’ve got no choice but to string together a sequence of actual, “real grown up” hard work days. On average, life with multiple bosses is fucking awesome.

#3 Signing Up for an Audible Membership

My audible membership sets me back $20/month, and obligates me to use the book credits I’m paying for, and actually follow through on listening to books. After 4 or 5 years, the total book count is into the hundreds – on subjects I absolutely would not have bothered with in printed format. Business, history, self-help, economics, science & technology, fiction, autobiography.. this is some excellent shit and it makes me feel like I have an unfair advantage in life. And even if that’s not true, it sure makes me feel good.

Want a book that will point out dozens of small, simple logical mistakes every single one of us commits? Sneaky little pre-wired errors which trip us up and seriously impair our ability to be truly happy or to make useful, effective, accurate decisions about important shit? This book made me feel like invisible retard-chains had been taken off my brain: You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself.

#2 Having Kids

isla
When not scream shitting, they’re melting hearts.

It’s impossible to imagine how awesome kids are until you have your own. I was slow to come around on the idea of making babies and committing to the responsibility of raising a life. But the truth is Lia does most of the hard work and I help as much as I can, which is probably not very much. Isla is fucking amazing, and gets more amazing as time goes on. She’s the highlight of my day, every day, and when I’m not around her my life is fucking shitty by comparison. I look back on life before Isla was in it and wonder what the fuck I was doing with myself, because it was relatively meaningless.

#1 Marrying Lia

Lia and Isla
My loves.

OK I was pretty hard on myself just there, life before Isla was still amazing because of Lia. Life without Lia was like life without tastebuds, eyeballs, ears, hands, or a penis. I was basically a meat sack with a hole to breath out of and another hole to shit out of. Plus I cried a lot. Lia is the most genuinely happy person I’ve ever met, and I’m lucky she came around on the idea of taking me back after I stupidly broke up with her and moved to Korea. I can be fairly happy when I’m single too, but there’s always the “I wish I had something deeper” feeling echoing around in your heart. “I wish I could have sex with whoever I want” occasionally echoes around in the penises and vaginae of happily married people, because we’re still just animals and probably wired for sexual promiscuity, but hey, that’s what porn is for.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Please Stop Storing Photos on Your Computer!

I can’t believe how long it has taken me to finally figure this out. This morning my dad sent me a link to a free, cloud-based photo album and I was like, “Holy shit. I need this.”

I’ve been using a combination of iPhoto and Apple Photos (I don’t know what the difference is) for storing all of my photos, since the beginning of time. I’ve never liked it because having a lot of photos and videos on my computer slows it down. Storing photos locally on your hard drive is also risky because there are lots of ways of losing them forever (theft, damage, accidental deletion). A better idea would be for your photos to automatically back themselves up to the cloud (remote storage, which is much safer and just better).

Enter Google Photos, with unlimited storage for all of your high quality photos and videos. For most people, including myself, the free high quality option is more than good enough. If you want to have higher than high quality, you can select original resolution and pay for the additional space as needed.

So how do you make the switch? Google provides free photo backup software to do all of the importing for you. I’m doing it now, and it’s chugging through over 50,000 images and videos. This is going to save my computer a LOT of storage space.

When the import is done, I’m going to delete all photos and videos from my computer and enjoy the speed increase.

Thank you Google for solving yet another of my problems!

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.

How to Cock Block Your Own Stress

Probably the most personally satisfying discovery I’ve made this year is the Stop Loss technique, courtesy of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. A “Stop Loss” order is an investing mechanism that allows a person to sell her stocks if their value drops to a specific price established beforehand, thereby preventing further soul-crushing losses.

The example in the book is an investor putting a -5% Stop Loss order on every stock he purchases. So if the stock drops by 5%, it’s sold immediately. This automatically guards the investor against total devastation, and is something I should have done years ago when I purchased $1000 of Zynga stocks, like an asshole, on a whim.

At the time, Zynga was making some really addictive smartphone games, so I was hopeful for the company’s future. I bought at $14/share and within a few weeks the stocks were valued at $3/share. Steve Jobs basically said “We’re not supporting Flash technology anymore” and Zynga was fucked. Their whole company was Flash based. So when I eventually sold my Zynga stocks I had lost $800. A Stop Loss order could have automatically ditched my stocks as soon as they dropped to $13.30/share and limited my losses to $50.

Now, if I buy stocks, I set a -5% stop loss order immediately. Then, if the stock goes up, I change the stop loss to 0% + $20 (the cost of the buy and sell transactions). This way I never lose more than 5%, and if I’m patient (and a little lucky) I can also set up a position where I can’t lose any money at all.

Stop Loss is sexy for investing, but it’s MUCH more valuable in cock blocking day-to-day stress.

Here’s how that works:

As soon as a problem presents itself, I decide beforehand how much of my own personal happiness I’m willing to lose while trying to sort it out. The shocking thing is: if I decide ahead of time how much stress something is worth, I realize NOTHING is really worth very much stress. It’s much harder to get full-blown-scream-cry-into-a-pillow stressed when I’ve already decided how emotionally invested I’m willing to get.

Here’s a real life example where I didn’t do a very good job of it:

My email recently stopped working. Client emails weren’t coming through, and my hosting provider (eHost) fucked me around for a full WEEK without fixing anything. I spent hours on the phone to outsourced fuck-parrots in India who just kept repeating, “Well sir, it seems there is no email here.” Yes, I got really fucking stressed out. This is probably what triggered the search for a way to stop feeling like a tightly wound ball of shit.

I found peace by making a decision: “I’m going to switch hosts. Any emails I missed, people will either follow up again or think I’m a dick and take their business elsewhere.”

The stop loss comes in with consciously deciding not to care anymore about the lost emails, the damage to my reputation, or anything else even vaguely related to the problem. The stop loss order sounded like this in my head, “I’ve already stressed out too much about this, so I’m done. Anything else that happens relating to this will either sort itself out or not, and I don’t care either way. I’m not willing to feel any worse about this than I already do.”

It felt good. I started to feel better and better, and eventually I felt awesome again. God damn eHost was out of my life, and the problem, though I was still dealing with it (because it takes a while for a new email with a new provider to take effect), no longer bothered me.

A trigger had switched in my brain.

This type of thinking comes up in a podcast between Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins on Achievement Versus Fulfillment. Tony says he uses a “90 second rule” to deal with problems as they come up. It’s simple – he faces the problem, feels it fully for 90 seconds (stress, anger, sadness, whatever), then decides on a solution on the spot. The decision represents the end of worrying. It’s done. Time to move on.

Problems often feel like they’re important and should be worried about. It feels like the right thing to do. But I would argue that the right thing to do is to strategically set a mental “Stop Giving a Fuck” point which, once reached, triggers a solid and satisfying “I don’t give a flying fuck” response.

What is your take on this? Comments are open… now.