How To Breath Like A Mermaid

In Hawaii there are a lot of people who are very good at being in the water, which often involves being involuntarily underwater for long periods of time. Last week I went surfing with a guy who had spent 17 years as a pro bodyboarder. Here’s a picture of him escaping death (photo credit):

When a man can hold his breath for almost 6 minutes, I immediately respect what he has to say on the subject. There’s a lot to practice to get to that level, but fundamentally there’s also a method anyone can use to significantly lower their heart rate (a skill I previously thought required becoming a monk and years of meditation on a mountain somewhere) and subsequently prolong breath-holding abilities.

They call it “breathing like a mermaid.” This method is employed by free divers hours before entering the water, as well as by professional surfers, bodyboarders, and probably the full gamut of aquatic athletes.

You do this:

Big, quick inhale (only a few seconds) followed by long exhale (a minute or more). Try it. I found it really difficult to exhale continuously for over a minute, but I could see how hours of breathing like this would train lung capacity and slow down my heart rate.

And now you know how mermaids breathe: quick in, long out.

The Genie That Doesn’t Grant Wishes

I was walking on the beach the other day and I tripped over something hard and metallic in the sand. Out popped a genie! The genie said, “Hi there! Before you get too excited, I’ll tell you how this works.”

The genie pulled out a set of cue cards and started reading.

“I am not a normal genie. I don’t grant wishes. What I do is, I put a spell on you that eliminates your ability to fail at one thing of your choosing. There’s no magic other than that. You still have to do all the work to accomplish whatever you set out to do. I just put a spell on you that makes it so you can’t quit.”

He put the cards away, into his pocket or something. I guess he had pants on.

“That doesn’t sound so great,” I said. Then followed with, “Are you sure that’s even magic?”

“That’s why nobody writes stories about me,” said the genie.

“Not true,” I said. “I’m gonna blog about this as soon as I get back to my Airbnb.”

The genie didn’t seem to care that I was going to blog about him. He began talking again.

“The first guy that discovered me asked that I put a spell on him so he would stop smoking. POOF! I put the spell on him. From that day forward, no matter how badly he wanted to smoke, my spell prevented him from being able to. It was very uncomfortable for him, and he was miserable for years. You see, he REALLY wanted to smoke. All day and all night his brain was screaming for him to have a cigarette. But the spell is permanent, he’ll never smoke again.”

“Shit eh.” I said, insightfully.

“Yup,” said the genie, crossing his arms and leaning back against a palm tree, which he drifted through.

I waited for him to drift back to my side of the palm tree. Then I said, “Okay let’s say I want a million dollars, and you put a spell on me. What next?”

“Just a sec while I look into the future,” said the genie. “AHA! I see it now… you would stop travelling and stop spending money on anything beyond the basics. You would live as cheaply as possible and put all of your extra money into low-risk, long-term investments earning 8% annually.”

The genie pulled a calculator out of his pants and mashed some keys. Then he said,”You would work as hard as you could in order to earn an extra $30,000/year to invest. After 17 years of this, you’d be a millionaire.”

“Crazy,” I said, trying to picture it all. “I don’t think I’m down to go through with all that.”

“Then don’t ask me to put the million-dollar spell on you,” replied the genie.

A moment passed, then I asked, “So you’re really not much use then, are you? People could do these things without your spells.”

“For sure,” said the genie. “But they generally don’t.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because many of the important things people want in life are really fucking hard to accomplish,” said the genie. “That’s why the other genies are so much more popular than I am. They let you skip the work!”

“Right.” I said. “Know where any of those guys are?”

“Nope,” said the genie.

“Shit.” I said, kicking at the sand.

More time passed and the genie started looking impatient.

“So what’ll it be?” asked the genie. “I’m gonna give you 10 more seconds then I’m outta here.”

“That seems abrupt!” I protested.

“7 seconds,” replied the genie.

“Um,” I said, scrambling for something good to not quit at, “I’d like to… ahhhhh… maybe I could… actually no, how about…”

“Time’s up!” said the genie. And he vanished.

I stayed behind for a considerable time afterwards, wondering what I should have said. But it’s a tough one.

What would YOU do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

 

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.

Virtual Reality Photos in Waikiki

It’s my first shot at sharing virtual reality files, so I’m not sure how this will display on your various devices but probably the best thing to do is to download Google Cardboard and get a Google Cardboard viewer and view these files that way. The viewer allows for audio and the two lenses create an immersive experience. It’s pretty cool.

This is the view from our Waikiki condo rental:

https://goo.gl/photos/i3YoHXLPZAKUurYLA

In the distance in the previous image you can see a mountain-looking thing. It’s actually a crater called Diamond Head. We hiked to the top of it one day and here’s a VR shot of that too:

https://goo.gl/photos/LbUf74G3LDu8soJA8

All this was done before 11am. Crazy what can happen when you’re up an hour before sunrise. Of course, no virtual reality tour of a day in Waikiki would be compete without a sunset beach panorama:

https://goo.gl/photos/PcFbuHU16X3RHUSY8

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:

The start of many things to #make. #cardboard #typography #sansserif #letter

A post shared by DANKO (@dankosaurus) on

 

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.