Where Is The Writing Recently?

NOTE – I wrote this early in October when I had yet to realize that I had started to write again.

I enjoy writing this blog. I try to keep it focused as a narrative on the various aspects of changes in mental or physical state. It follows that most of what I write about here is going to have a lot to do with me and what I experience. These experiences need to be different enough from the rest of my life to stick out. Up until recently there has been no shortage of things that are in contrast to what I’ve normalized; not knowing your motivation for things tends to lead you to a number of dissonating events that periodically rattle your cage. These occurs less now that I’ve started to do something called “growing up”. Life has stopped happening to me and I’ve started to make my life happen. The path I need and want are the same and I see it.

Less dissonance means fewer changes in state though so there’s not much to write about here.

With reference to where my head is at, it feels like it is reorganizing itself. The last number of years have been intensely stimulating and busy for me and it really does feel like I’m taking the time to figure-out what it all means in a way that I understand and am able to articulate. If I don’t take the time to consolidate and synthesis an understanding based on all of the information I’ve collected, I’ll continue to collect data forever making slow progress in my personal development. It’s as though the data collection gave me knowledge about specific things and the mental reprocessing of the data is creating wisdom about the world in general. There are patterns through out all of it, most of it is automatic and predictable. The individual experiences or things may not be intuitively linked, but when all of the pieces are combined, there is a very clear picture of everything.

What is striking is just how quickly this clear picture impacts your life. You stop almost all of the things that were based on the dissonance because it just goes away. You stop them almost immediately because it is human nature to serve the primary purpose you create for yourself; either conscious or unconscious e.g. to make money or harvesting sympathy by manufacturing victim status. Knowing what it is and making it what you want it to be just changes everything. The old understanding CANNOT exist with the new understanding so it vanishes taking with it many dependent behaviors. It would seem that doing the things needed to generate content for this blog were some of those behaviors.

Flat-Lining The Volatile Passion

Des has stopped letting me get away with my legacy habit of making declarations of how other people should act or feel. If you find yourself doing this and then stop, you’ll quickly notice that other person or people stop impacting you very quickly. That’s important because then they weren’t impacting you in the first place.

Des mentioned that the recent evidence suggests that emotions often come before their attributed cause. Intuitively this seems backwards until you consider the impact unconscious thought processes could have on the emotional system. Given our innate need to establish order and create cause and effect understandings of things, we’re going to be very effective at finding a reason for feeling a particular feeling. It just seems like we figured it out, but all we did was throw a label on something that was there already. We might have gotten it correct but we stop searching once we find a justification and simply embrace that as the cause. Chances are we are wrong though. Rarely do we stop to think what other reason we could have for feeling a particular feeling. Try it next time you feel something, there are lots of reasons to feel happy, sad, angry, blissful, etc….

The fundamental attribution error is a powerful thing. When someone cuts me off in traffic I think things about them. If I then get to see what they look like, or if there is something about their car that stands out, that becomes the reason why they did what they did. Crappy old pick-up truck? Drunk hippy. Pretty boy / girl or a BMW, self absorbed jack ass. Soccer mom or mini van, distracted moron who thinks their life and family are better than every one else. Oh wait, I’ve had my turn signal on for the last 5 minutes. Hey, I’ve had a tough day, I’m kind of tired and the radio is too loud. You people need to chill, it’s a small thing, 99.9% of the time I don’t drive around like this. You’re acting like you know something about my character without considering the circumstances surrounding my one small error.

People have a finite amount of will power and with each decision to go without, our chances of caving on the next option increase. Will power is fueled by glucose which means it will become depleted when used and it will not recover unless the blood sugar level is normalized. If you are restricting calories and your blood sugar level drops, it gets tougher and tougher to stay on track because the part of your brain that helps you stay on track is out of fuel. Eat frequently and do not go hungry. It’s already too late once the hunger pains set in.

Sharyl mentioned that while she’ll listen to everything I have to say, the amount of faith she has in it will be inversely related to the amount of shit I talk. This gave me cause to step back and wonder what I’ve been talking crap about. Mostly what other people should do or feel. And I read a lot and form untested theories about things. She’s tested a lot of them and they don’t work. I suppose I can talk some shit so long as I accept hearing that it isn’t accurate and learn something.

Arguing – You Need To Know Why

Part of a series on arguing.

You need to know what why you are arguing and what you want out of the interaction

Fundamental to doing your best at anything in life is knowing what you are doing and maybe why you are doing it. This applies arguing because if you don’t know what you want out of the situation, you’re just going to give the other person what they ask for, usually after a dispassionate defense from their verbal onslaught. If you don’t know what you want, you get what you get.

Every goal you have every achieved started off as a something impossible, a clearly defined and measurable objective, sometimes with a do by date. Once you create it, your brain and body set out to make it happen. This is the way human beings achieve things. In exactly the same but entirely opposite way that you are not setting an argument goal in your head and letting your powerful brain figure-out what to say to create a compelling case to win, person who is going to argue with you next has and is doing these things.

The chronic arguer is working on these things all the time, so if you end up talking to them, there’s a good chance that what will come-out of their mouth will be manipulative and calculated. Unless you want to argue with them, set the goal of getting out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Create a couple of fixed responses and fire them out whenever you are being engaged – “sorry, I have to check on my kids / parents / pet stocks quote, etc…” or “that is an interesting point of view but don’t have time right now, I have to go.

If you do want to argue with them make sure you know what you are fighting about. If it’s a ongoing thing, you are not arguing to change someone’s point of view (if this was possible it would have happened by now), you are arguing to change someones reality (unless their world changes they are not going to change). Make sure you know what that is before you set out making it happen.

It is important you look out for your best interests. Knowing what these things are before having to defend them will go a long way in guarding yourself from manipulative people. When someone engages you in an attempt to change your point of view take a moment to figure-out what you want out of the interaction and work diligently to achieve it.

Partnerships And Level Of Expertise

It is important to realize that the journey of self-awareness and enlightenment you are taking is very similar to the journey most others are taking. While your experiences, perceptions and interpretations are unique and special in and of themselves, they are not unique or special in the world. All are on the journey, some are more aware of this fact than others and some are controlling the journey making their life exactly what they need it to be.

This is mentioned because it is very easy to transfer our lessons and understandings onto another person and then blame them for not taking the action that our lessons revealed. Astounding as this may seem, their journey may not have led them to the same experience and lesson that makes one an “expert” in a situation.

What’s more likely is that they are looking at you wondering how you didn’t get the life experiences to adequately solve this situation in the way they learned how to address it. Weird as that may seem to them, your life didn’t prepare you as well as it prepared them.

When this stuff happens, when there is a problem to be solved and two people need to figure out the most effective way to solve it, there is a matrix of possibilities that will reveal the possible future of the combined problem resolution behavior:

  • There is a problem to be solved, neither one is an expert and both openly admit a lack of knowledge. If it is a trivial thing, one of you do it this time, the other do it next time. You’ll eventually learn how to deal with it if it comes up often enough. If it’s important, you’ll agree to ask an expert for help to make sure you both move forward appropriately. Very workable.
  • There is a problem to be solved and neither one is an expert and neither one will admit it. There is a power struggle at play here. The lack of openness about ones lack of knowledge makes this a potentially unworkable situation as both people are more concerned about managing and controlling the perceptions of the other vs. solving the problem at hand.
  • There is a problem to be solved, one person is an expert and the other person won’t admit that they are not an expert. This can develop into an unworkable mess as going against an expert when you know very little is indicative of insecurity or a power struggle.
  • There is a problem to be solved and both are experts. Being experts, both they that there are many ways to solve a problem or they agree on the only way to solve the problem. What happens here is that both will learn from the other while the best solution is synthesized. This is a very workable situation.

In most cases, the variables are level of expertise and a willingness to state it. It’s simple, you either know or you don’t. If you don’t know and you can admit you don’t know, you can find the answer and solve your problems quickly. If you don’t know and won’t admit that you don’t know, you are going to misrepresent yourself to appear like someone who does (an expert). As a consequence of being full of shit, you aren’t going to solve the problem effectively and will likely berate the other person for a lack of resolution with a situation.

Key to solving problems, existing in a partnership and generally being a successful person is a willingness see, accept and declare your level of expertise about things. It’s pretty simple, if others can’t help or teach you, you won’t learn from others, which is a really great way to waste a lot of your life.

Wireless Industry Life Cycle – Globalization, Labor and Profit Taking

About 10 years ago I got my first cell phone and am now using my 7th. Only one of them stopped working outright. The rest of them still turn on and probably still function. They were shelved because wireless technology advanced which eliminated their network or their lack of features made them obsolete. 1 in 7 failure rate isn’t that bad considering what is involved with a wireless phone. 5 in 7 technological decay rate is a lot more exciting to think about, and a touch alarming when you actual hold onto a smart phone and think about the people how helped to make it.

It’s exciting because 25 years ago there weren’t a lot of cell phones, the Internet wasn’t really very much to many people, and the global economy wasn’t the thing that it is now. We’ve created wireless technology and the profit cash machine of disposable accessories out of nothing in about the same length of time it takes to raise a baby into a self-sustaining accessory buyer. That’s fantastically quick. In fact, it’s science-fictionally quick. Ours is a species that can imagine and create the impossible into reality given enough energy to fuel the physical and mental labor. Once it exists, it quickly becomes part of the economy and accessories are introduced to be the profit taking currency for the technology.

What’s alarming is that I don’t know how to make a cell phone and I’m sure no one on the planet could make a cell phone by themselves. The accessories that drive the wireless industry depend on the cooperative effort of millions of people. You need a well formed and stable society to create the technology in the first place – countries that focus on education, infrastructure, national security and the wellness of their citizens. Then you need stable predictable places to build the accessories to ensure a constant supply.

The country that created the technology will tend to enjoy an initial boost from the accessories but the need to increase profits and “stay competitive” eventually sees the trend towards lower cost suppliers and efforts to lower the cost of manufacturing (labor). It starts with the chips and plastic cases coming from Asia and in a couple of years the factory gets moved to Mexico. Soon there is nothing left of the company in the country but R&D, business offices and distribution centers and then, these have been absorbed by a bigger corporation and been streamlined for efficiency. Unless there is a new technology or industry created, it’s really unlikely that a country will enjoy a boom again. I think this is the point we are at now.

The country that supplies the lower cost components and then the lower cost labor enjoys a slight change in their standard of living. Some do very well but for those who supply the work the change more closely resembles 19th century industrial cities were you ARE a piece of the machine. I have no idea if they enjoy an improved quality of life. I know they aren’t getting paid anything close to what was paid for the job in North America. While it is relative, how can it be that someone in Asia would be entitled to 45 times LESS for doing the same thing? The cost of the device doesn’t drop very much; company’s profits go up.

Okay, so the jobs left one country to be done at a fraction of the price somewhere else. The cost to the consumer doesn’t go down enough to accommodate for the loss of national income. The people who now make the devices cannot afford to buy them at the price we are charged here. In fact, the number of people who can actually afford to buy them has decreased by the out-sourcing of its manufacturing. Over time, and not very much of it, the population of people who actually have in their hands the money they need to buy the devices (not on credit) is shrinking. It doesn’t take a lot of foresight to realize that this is extremely short sighted. It is compressing the affordable life cycle of a technology by factors, extracting all of the money out of it as quickly as possible and putting it into the hands of a very small number of people. People supply the labor for as long as the money moves from the masses to the few. Once it slows down, many are out of work and a few have acquired generational wealth.

When someone says “buy Canadian /American / whatever country” they’re encouraging you to keep as much of the labor in that country. This is a noble pursuit, but do they make a promise to keep the labor in the country? What happens when the owners sell or decide to focus on taking profit?

Human Beings – Make Your Engine Bigger, Burn More Fuel

Trainers and strength coaches like to talk to other trainers and strength coaches and talk about their wisdom. Each of us have had 1000’s of experiences with clients, worked with 100’s and likely drawn some great conclusions about what is going on with people.

Here is my statement today: IF a women has the same amount of muscle as a man, she will burn approximately the same amount of calories as he would if he was to perform the same activity at the same intensity. I’m sure there’s some reason why the word approximately is essential for making the statement true, but by in large, doing the same amount of work will require the same amount of energy. In fact, the definition of work and any formula I’ve seen for it does make this factual statement / conclusion.

What are the practical implications of this?

If you want to burn more fuel you need to build a bigger engine. The bigger engine will move a bigger load which, by definition, will boost work capacity and therefore increase energy consumption. Even if you keep the weight the same, the increase in the size of the engine will translate into great energy expenditure. So building muscle is critical for helping someone get and remain lean.

The faster / harder you work an engine, the less efficient it becomes. Walking is a fairly efficient way for humans to move, sprinting is profoundly wasteful. Short intervals of fast intense work will burn more energy than steady state work, and this is why most coaches will encourage their clients to participate in interval work BEFORE they encourage them to do the steady state work.

To keep a big engine, you need to prove to the body that it need to remain that big. If you don’t use it, the body gets rid of it quickly because it requires energy to maintain and use. Always keep in mind that the body will get rid of EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that requires energy but which isn’t getting used. It doesn’t take much stimulation to hold onto muscle mass so long as you are eating enough protein and food in general.

What does this mean?

Most women are going to have to perform extra movement to make up for the energy NOT used to power or maintain the bigger muscles.

Women will be better served by building muscle before shifting their focus onto fat loss. Men can approach it from either direction and still enjoy success.

Protein is of more importance to women during the initial training phases and especially during the fat loss phase.

The Wisdom Is Already Inside You

“Everything you’ll ever need to know is within you; the secrets of the universe are imprinted on the cells of your body.”
― Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior

When I first read this in the months following Natalie’s death I remember that it gave me hope. It felt like something important, something that, if true, would help everything in my life make sense. I wanted it to be true but had no idea how it could be.

But that understanding has begun to change as I learn, experience and allow my brain to process the sum total of all that it has been exposed to. What’s starting to come out the other in is a rudimentary understanding that the wisdom is already in the brain waiting for the right experiences and serendipitous timing to draw it out. If you don’t get these things, the wisdom lies waiting for the opportunity to present itself as an epiphany. It may seem like I’m suggesting that a newborn is just as wise as an elder in a tribe, and I am. With the right experiences and some key lessons and moments, the newborn can cultivate the same wisdom.

With reference to all of the lessons of the universe, that’s a lot, and it covers a very long time, so the distinction of where the wisdom comes from can be dismissed as semantic. What cannot be dismissed however are the pieces of wisdom that apply to our own lives. When someone tells us something that is profound, it strikes us hard NOT because they offered up a new piece of wisdom but because a new piece of wisdom came from inside of us. Phrased another way, how would you know it is wisdom unless you can identify wisdom?

Who is the wise person in these types of situations? Is it the person who drew together a few thoughts and chewed-out some words or is it the person who was waiting for those words to come into their life so they could trigger their reactions of “wow, that is profound.”

Braces – The Second Wire

I’ve had my braces for a couple of months and they feel mostly normal now. Des told me about fishing a few years ago when Mitch landed a decent sized bass only to find an old lure sticking out of its mouth and few yards of fishing line twisted around the body and almost encased by the skin. The fish had escaped capture a year or two ago and had grown to full size in-spite of being all wrapped in handicap. Fish didn’t know, it just goes on like nothing is different, because nothing really is, it can’t remember a time without the fishing line and the mouth piercing.

So I’m kind of like the fish. I miss chewing, I remember a time when flossing didn’t take as long, and my mouth feels different, but I adjust, change my behaviors and go on with life.

The second wire is on now, it’s thicker and will just finish off the movement of the front teeth and continue the movement of the molars. Here are some interesting things about it right now:

  • How they work. The first phase is simple. Loosen and move the teeth forward to create the space needed to allow for proper alignment. This is done using a special wire that will try to return to its natural shape. It is attached to the brackets that are on the front of the teeth and over time the small amount of force it exerts loosens the root and allows the teeth to move. The wire was cut to length after it was put to the brackets so it is at its longest the day it is installed. As the teeth move, the wire returns to its natural shape. Since this is less jagged, it is shorter so the extra length seems to grow out to the back of each side – the wire ends come out further and further from the last bracket. It’s sharp, it cuts the mouth. You know it’s working though, so that’s pretty cool.
  • How quickly they move the front teeth. Doctor Nick estimated 3 months to straighten the front teeth. The top ones have been straight for about 3 weeks now and the bottom are about 2/3rds of the way there. I can see the appeal of the 6 month braces and they should be considered if your bite suffers only cosmetic concern.
  • I need to supplement my diet with more fat because I am not eating as much meat or seeds/nuts, my conventional sources of fat. My skin got really bad and the cream I use didn’t seem to do anything. When I thought about the way I had been eating, and the way I’m looking, it became evident that I’m not getting nearly enough fat. Carbs are easily turned to mush so I’ve been eating a lot more of them. A high carb, high protein, high activity life style will make you lose weight in a hurry. I’m about 160 lbs and about 6.5% body fat, which isn’t my intention. I’m starting to get an idea of what it would take to get into contest shape for a body builder and frankly, it isn’t pretty. Sean has suggest that I start eating stews and soups loaded with the foods I need but have trouble chewing. They’ll soften down and give my digestive system a good head start on breaking them down.
  • Smiling is easier than it has been in a very long time. When I smile, I feel the braces and they remind me of what the teeth are going to look like in the future, so I smile more. In my head I’m already there because all that needs to happen is for time to pass. Whatever, it’s nice to be able to smile without thinking about it again.

Some physical changes, some behavioral changes and a whole lot of life being exactly as it was before.

Feedback Destroyer – Post Revisited

Post Feedback Destroyer – Mitigating An Automatic Response got a timely spam comment because I would have forgotten something that happened on this week.

I got some feedback after yesterday’s All Terrain class and it is getting a lot easier to hear it and to understand where the person is coming from. It was a new participant to my class who was healthy enough to keep up with the physical aspects of it. Her feedback was that I should have mentioned more about the rpms or pedal speed that the riders should be aiming for. The bikes have a display that shows this information and I do make reference to it through-out class when I want the people to ride on beat because the music is a big component to it. Once it was clear what we were talking about I told her that riding to the beat is actually what I want the class to do, and asked her if mentioning more about the rpm would be helpful? She said it would have. I thanked her and said that I’ll focus more on it moving forward.

By virtue of her saying it, I wasn’t as effective as an instructor as I could have been so the class didn’t work for her as well as it could have. The fact that she was new to my class means that my coaching isn’t clear enough for new people to get the profile the music is creating. That will need to change. But as is the case when you are doing something for someone else, your own opinion about it tends not to matter all that much. When it comes to feedback, embracing the servant mindset will allow you to see the others point of view and make the needed changes quickly.

If you haven’t gotten any useful feedback in a while consider tabling your opinion about it when you receive it and instead use that energy to figure-out how and why they are correct.

Fluff Pieces In The Media – 5% = 100%

Kate send me Staying young with fitness by Joanne Richard asking me for my opinion on a specific section:

“Endurance running – and other aerobic exercise that relies on repetitive motion over a long period of time, such as stationary biking, or using a stepmaster – results in premature symptoms of aging: slower reflexes, shorter and weaker muscles, less flexibility, worn out joints, broken posture, and inflammation that takes hours to stabilize.”

Well, it’s true. If Adam or Tony made that statement I would agree with them.

But the statement doesn’t supply the context by which it is accurate and the article it is from doesn’t seem to shed any light on it either. So I conclude that it’s a dangerous statement REGARDLESS of its accuracy with the 5% of the population it applies to. I draw this conclusion from the fact that it is misleading and it the type of information that pushes people away from exercise that they may have considered doing.

Please keep in mind that the statement comes from the book The Happy Body by Jerzy and Aniela Gregorek WHICH I HAVE NOT READ. These authors and fitness professionals are well accomplished and the principles they encourage of a well balanced body through appropriate rest, relaxation, flexibility, nutrition and strength training are completely sound. This is true 100% of the time – eat, train and recover in appropriate amounts and you’ll achieve more of your potential.

My beef is with the lack of context in the piece that appears on canoe.ca. The most important thing a human being can do to improve their health is to move and move more. Nothing does the body good like moving it. Ideally, you do movements that take your joints through their full range of motion, you perform movements that are challenging for the body in terms of movement complexity and over load and you eat and rest for your activity level. But if you don’t do the full range of motion movements, you’ll never get the benefit of doing them. For this reason, if someone likes riding a bike, doing a step mill or running, but doesn’t like lifting weights, they should ride, run or climb stairs as opposed to stopping or not starting out of fear of the aging that will occur as a result of their endurance type activity they are doing.

5% of the population would likely benefit from decreasing their endurance activities and substituting them for more strength based movements. The other 95% of the population would benefit from doing MORE (or any) endurance training in spite of the “aging” effects of it. Carrying excess body fat while NOT having a strong cardio vascular system will see you age faster than becoming a decent 10 km runner.

Move now and become fit. Even if it’s movement that some gurus doesn’t necessarily agree with.