29 years old

And getting better at stealing ideas and ideals.

Painting of bluebird flying into purple pond tree while lizardman feeds tea to the wolves.
Bluebird flies into tree growing out of purple pond while lizardman feeds tea to the wolves.

I’m into the last year of my twenties.

What fun!

I enjoy getting older.

And I enjoy writing these articles (see 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

I think I still think with the mindset of a 23 year old, maybe 22 but just a little smarter.

A couple of big things this past year:

  • Publishing my first novel, Charlie Walks — I started writing it at the end of 2017. The digital version came out on my birthday last year. Now the paperback version is about to be shipped worldwide.
  • Buying a house with my brother — A few years ago I said I’d keep my assets digital until after 30 and travel. Then an airborne virus took over the world and my plans changed. So I decided to go all in on owning land, taking on more responsibilities. Our house is a nice house. We don’t plan on ever selling. In a year or two we’ll buy another one so we have one each. For raising future families.
  • Publishing a beginner-friendly PyTorch course — My third online course. I still get nervous every time I start to record a video. But I convert that energy into excitement. It’s my best one yet. I’ll be using the funds for future projects (Nutrify).
  • Working on a farm one day per week — I’ve been saying for a while now I’d like to own a big piece of land in 2-3 years. The timeline is arbitrary, I’m saying it to put the energy out there. I’d like to grow my own food. So I’m starting small, one day per week at a local farm and soon a small garden in my own backyard. In a couple of weeks it’ll be one year since I started there. Seeing the land change with the seasons is magic.

Aphorisms, thoughts, ideas

I start a new note every year titled how old I am and write down random thoughts and ideas.

The following are what showed up this year.

Minimal ordering and editing and some may be directly stolen from other people (I forget which).

  • The universe produces people like an apple tree produces apples.
  • Enough is as good as a feast.
  • Imagine what you could create if you worked on nothing except one thing for a whole year (or even longer).
  • Breath through your nose. Reading the book Breath by James Nestor got me far more interested in the power of the breath. Almost enough to change my site’s title from Eat, Move, Learn, Make to Breath, Eat, Move, Learn, Make. All of the major religious prayers and traditional chants, spoken correctly with the right pace result in 5.5 breaths per minute. A calming and enchanting pace.
  • Most of the weight you lose when you lose weight is through carbon dioxide. So if you’d like lose weight, start with proper breathing.
  • The more you try to escape death, the more you end up escaping life.
  • It’s incredible how quickly the body adapts to something. I started doing three daily sets of 25 bodyweight squats per day and within two weeks could do multiple sets of 100 or more. Take advantage of this. Start and be consistent.
  • Your son will follow your example. Your daughter will marry it.
  • If something in someone else irritates you, maybe it’s something you could improve on. For example if your initial reaction to seeing something/something is resent, is that because you’re not pulling your own weight somewhere? If someone does something really well and you’re saying to yourself “oh XYZ could’ve been better…”, perhaps that’s because you’re the one who could’ve done the thing but didn’t. Many critics must feel this pain often.
  • Joie de virve: a French term describing the general feeling of excitement for life. The kind of people life chases after rather than them chasing after it.
  • Yugen: A Japanese term describing the marvel of the unknown. The feeling you get when birds fly behind the clouds and you wonder where they’ve gone.
  • Jijimuge: a Japanese word for the mutual interdependence of all things. Trying to fully describe a single leaf on a tree you realise you have to describe the entire universe.
  • Balance is a lie. Or maybe you’ll get it for a moment. But the essence of life is movement. Movement between polarities. Between comfort and discomfort. Between good and evil. You couldn’t experience one without knowing the other.
  • Productivity is a scam. Most of modern productivity is documenting something happening rather than the actual happening. Real productivity is creation through scaled effort. But the more you worry about productivity, the more you get caught in a trap of always trying to be more productive rather than doing the actual thing (I’ve been in this trap many times).
  • Productivity for productivity’s sake results in zero thought about the customer or the consumer. The doctor who sees 35 patients in a day and knows not a single one of their child’s or spouses names.
  • Learn from reality rather than thoughts (you’re smarter doing than you are thinking). One of my favourite Zen master stories is when the teacher asks the student what the sound of one hand clapping is? And the student spends weeks thinking about what would be a smart answer for the master. Eventually the student comes back to the master and says his answer and the master shakes his head. The student thinks again and comes back. The master says no. Eventually the student gives up and the master slaps him in the face. And immediately the student gets it. The master delivered his answer via a reality where as the student tried to acquire his through thinking. Sometimes you need a slap in the face to see things clearly.
  • The rower of a boat uses effort but the one who puts up a sail uses magic.
  • The best lessons are the simples ones that arise time and time again. Take machine learning and deep learning, many of the most import concepts leverage the power of randomness. They could be explained on a couple of sheets of paper.
  • Myths are the kind of stories that have never happened but always happen.
  • Take care of your body and test your physical potential. I don’t know how this is not the normal.
  • Masculine traits protect against depression. Displaying and having leadership qualities, strength, respect and confidence results in less depression? Shock. Note: masculine and feminine traits are tools for anyone to adopt.
  • Nature makes no mistakes. Patterns in clouds, lines in rocks. They’re all over the place but they make sense like a good water colour painting. One of those abstract ones where the characters look strange but you can still make out what they are.
  • Time doesn’t exist on the farm, everything goes the speed it needs to. Again, nature makes no mistakes. Spring arrived and the plants put on a show like a symphony. No prompting. They just knew. It’s time to put on a show! Working on a farm one day a week this year has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. The garlic harvest is next month. I’m excited.
  • Life is an illusion but you must take part in the illusion. Playing chess on extreme mode means trying to change the rules. Playing chess on fun mode means learning the rules and playing with them. If you know the rules of life, don’t be pissed off by them, exploit them.
  • Freedom and equality are enemies. If you increase freedom, natural inequalities multiply. If you seek equality, freedoms get removed. See above: balance is a lie, the tightrope of life stretches between absolute freedom and complete equality.
  • Getting a job: “How can I compete against those with a PhD?” 1. Don’t get a job. 2. If you do, make it so you have no competition. If you ever try to compete, realise you may be signing up to a game where the rules don’t suit you. Set the system up so you always win.
  • Being chased after is fun. Become so good they can’t ignore you. This applies to dating, job opportunities etc.
  • Movement, physical and metaphysical is the most important learning paradigm. My strongest memories are those when I was in motion, running through olive fields with my girlfriend, laughing with the family. The same for the classroom, if the teacher created a dance out of things, the topics flourished in my brain. Everything still and boring died off. So for my lessons, I try to teach with movement as much as possible (you’re smarter doing than you are thinking).
  • Teaching is 80% energy, 20% content. Enthusiasm is contagious. If a child sees a person who’s really into what they’re doing, they’ll become captivated.
  • The pincer manoeuvre of learning or creating change: top down and ground up at the same time. For learning about food, ground up: learning to farm food, top down: building Nutrify to take a photo of food and learn about it (accessible to everyone with an internet connection). Learning about machine learning, top down: building your own projects without knowing all the steps, bottom up: learning what’s happening behind the scenes.
  • Intelligence is a function of the degree to which you realise that your behaviour is one with the rest of the world.
  • The asymmetry of gift giving and loving, it seems to me that it’s far more fun to give something rather than receive something. Or give love rather than to receive love.
  • Growing a garden or loving family is a grand a mission as any world-size enterprise.The Western CEO wants to grow a company. The Zen master wants to grow a garden. I’m starting to side more with the latter. What a terrific relief to realise you’re free, free from all missions.
  • It is often far easier for man to adapt himself to nature than for him to adapt nature to himself (sailing a boat vs rowing a boat).
  • Disagree doesn’t have to equal dislike.
  • Trust the strange tradition before you trust the psychologist. Better to rely on thousands of years of wisdom or millions of years of evolution (trust your instincts) rather than hundreds of years of eduction. After all, a psychologist is human too and a knife can’t cut itself. Perhaps the traditions we create and technological superintelligences we seek are because of our subconscious (or conscious for the intelligent) awareness of our own weaknesses.
  • It’s okay to do things for the money. Money is as valid reason as any other. As long as the things are of good quality. I used to think I didn’t need the money. It’s true. I don’t need it. But that was because my work wasn’t good enough to be paid for yet. Then I got skills. Got good. Then I started to charge.
  • You just ask. Walked into a bookstore the other day and asked if they would take my book to sell it. They said yes. Another place said no. 50/50. Easy.
  • Hang around those who know how to make much from little and avoid those who only know how to make little from much.
  • How much of abstract concepts like travelling and happiness is mindset? Going for a walk along the path you’ve walked 100 times and looking at pavement you’ve never seen before. Staying local but seeing same area with new eyes. Or waking up in the morning and saying I’m going to be happy today. Setting the baseline high. Am I crazy thinking it’s that easy?
  • The secret is in the imagination, take that away and you have dead meat. I’ve been to strip clubs where the soul is taken out. You see skin and something deep inside you triggers. Pseudo-attractive. There’s a reason the show ends when the panties come off. You gotta leave something to dream about. The extremes are better and worse in the imagination.
  • Description via opposite. Describe how beautiful something is by showing its opposite. Contrast is one of the best reality buttons you can press.
  • In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.
  • Food is life, growing it, cooking it, eating it, sharing it. One of the best ways to pay respect to an animal is to cook it well. Approaching food with utility sucks the juice out of life.
  • You can’t put a price on a view or walkability. Looking at a good view never gets old. There’s a local hill I love driving up to the top of just to see the view. I’ve seen it two thousand times. I still love it. Walkability means how quickly can you walk to something where you live? A cafe or a restaurant or a nice place to keep walking or a place to work or a place with happenings. Almost all commute time is a negative. So when investing to buy a place or live somewhere, put view and walkability high on the list.
  • Strange that sex and cooking is something we all do and are required for the species but the amount of education on each of them is minimal.
  • If something seems like a scam, it probably is. Trust your instincts. Even if you’re wrong, you’ll be happier to know you went with your gut.
  • Every level of interaction of your business is your business. Customer service is your business. Marketing is your business. Your product is your business. Everything. Speaking with a pool man yesterday and the service sold the product. The product is good but the service took it up another level. Half the reason I go to a restaurant is to flirt with the wait staff. Good service makes the food taste better.
  • Many (including scientists) forget the role of science is not to prove, only disprove.
  • If you’re not having fun with what you’re making, how do you expect others to?

Books I’ve read

Been reading a cross between fiction, philosophy, spirituality and religion this year.

And of course anything and everything relating to machine learning.

I’m starting to see more and more crossovers in the best techniques in machine learning the best techniques in various religions and traditions.

After all, however different their points of view, all traditions are trying to point to a similar goal: how to live a good life.

The same with machine learning techniques: how to get a machine to learn.

I like ideas and concepts that have stood the test of time.

They’re Lindy (something that’s been around for a long time will tend to stay around).

Starting less and less to seek new books (except for technology) rather than rereading older books I enjoyed the first time.

  • Various books by Alan Watts — In My Own Way (his autobiography), You’re It (for the second or third time), Just So, Out of Your Mind. Watts’ writing and speaking is like a going for a long walk and feeling a cool breeze. It’s lyrical. His works are where I learned the idea of the coincidence of opposites and much about Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and general philosophy.
  • Books by Charles Bukowski — South of No North, Hot Water Music, Post Office (a little bit, again). Bukowski views the world from a cynical point of view but I can’t help but get excited reading his work. The realness turns me on. Despite what’s written down, he’s a romantic at heart.
  • The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida — I’ve read this three or four times now. Three in the last year. This should be required reading for all men. It’s also the book I’ve gifted most. I want to hang around men who’ve read this.
  • Essays on Creating Reality by Frederick Dodson — I’m a big fan of life being a self-fulfilling prophecy. So reading these was like a big dose of confirmation bias. Create the world you’d like to live in.
  • One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka — If there were a Zen guide to farming, this is it. A perfect blend of experience, storytelling, adapting to nature (rather than forcing it to adapt) and error correction.

My favourite newsletters are The Lindy Newsletter by Lindy Man (Paul Skallas) for Lindy takes, No Mercy No Malice by Scott Galloway for marketing and business takes and Normcore Tech by Vicki Boykis for tech taltes.

For 29 to 30

Some straightforward goals for the next year. Some not.

Habits work better than goals for me (set the system up so you always win).

  • Get shredded and tanned and jacked in the Summer build muscle for the Winter.
  • Generate $1000 per day income by the end of year. Then double it by 30.
  • Build up the garden in the backyard.
grass area in front of 10 meter long empty garden plot filled with soil in front of a fence, cloudy sky above
Look at all that potential! A blank garden is as exciting to me as a blank page.
  • More sunrises, long walks.
  • Play at the edge, take the gamble.
  • Tip more, carry cash, spread the energy of good service, service can make or break an experience.
  • Paint more (even if they're bad), create more, write stories more, have fun with it. You have to learn to inject fun and love into life with a level of unconscious discipline, there’s too much going the other way.
  • Make Nutrify capable of providing fun information for 1000 foods, vision and text. The app should work the same on web and mobile.
  • One thing at a time. One thing really well.
  • Love yourself like your life depends on it.

Doom and gloom is rife around the world.

But I go for walks outside and the birds are singing and the bugs are landing on the plants.

A branch falls and it makes a lot more noise than the rest of the tree growing.

I’m tuning into the latter.