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The only web comic I read is XKCD. It's smart, funny, and often times educational. I'm a fan. The latest comic is a criticism of pickup. There ARE certainly valid criticisms of pickup, but Randall took a cheap and inaccurate shot at it. I've shrunken it below, but you can see the original here.
I'm one of the main characters of The Game, have been going out every night since February first (except the last week, where I got caught up on some work), and am friends with most of guys who contributed substantially to the pickup community. In other words, I know what I'm talking about.
All of those guys are either too busy to defend pickup, or just sick of having to do it yet again. But hey, it's Thursday night and I haven't written a blog post this week, so I'll take a crack at it.
We sat in the tiny passageway, exhausted. Our muscles were fatigued from overuse. We were over a mile deep into the cave, hours away from the surface, hours away from food, and hours away from water. Had our curiousity finally gotten the best of us? For the first time ever, I was worried for my life. I couldn't imagine dying, but making it out of the cave seemed even less likely.
It started months ago. After exploring the small caves at Enchanted Rock, we were eager to tackle something a bit more challenging. A search on the internet led us quickly to Airman's Cave - perhaps the most well known cave in Austin. What we didn't know at the time was that it was also an advanced level cave. Few members of the caving community in Austin would attempt the cave. With an average ceiling of 18", Airman's cave was a full 2.5 miles long. But we didn't really know that either. In fact, we knew nothing of caves or caving.
To access the cave, we had to take a hike down a dry creekbed and search for it. After wandering around for a while we spotted a large opening on the hill. That was it.
Wow. I've been much busier than I thought, so I haven't been able to write any updates for a while. Luckily I have a huge layover next week in Phoenix, so I'll have plenty of time to crank out some stories.
Anyway, some friends and I recently switched our cell phone plans to the best plan ever. Here's the breakdown :
500 Anytime minutes
Unlimited PCS-PCS minutes (mobile to mobile on Sprint)
Unlimited Nights and Weekends starting at 6pm
500 Text messages / month
EVDO (fast internet) service
Roaming on Verizon's network
All for only $30/mo
Right now I'm staying up with my cousin who's a senior in high school. It's midnight on Sunday, and she's busy finishing up her homework for the weekend. There's a roll of tape on the coffee table, along with pink ribbons, a glue stick, cutout pictures from glamour magazines, and a bunch of construction paper. For her weekend psychology assignment, she has to make a book using a vocab word as the header for each page.
I rant about school every once in a while here, but the truth is that it had been a long time since I'd really experienced what school was like. I dropped out in 2001, twelve years ago. Usually I visit my cousins during school vacations, but they're in school this time, so I've had the chance to live vicariously, help with homework, and remember just why I disliked school so much.
My cousin's project, as best I can understand, and as best she can understand, is essentially busy work. She had to spend an hour or so writing some paragraphs that were related to psychology. Then she spent four or five hours finding pictures, cutting them out, printing the paragraphs, cutting them out, arranging construction paper, pasting, and binding. It's insane.
Her younger sister, a sophomore in high school, asked for help with biology. Some of the material was really relevant and useful stuff, but that material was buried in a bunch of cruft. Some questions were so ambiguous that you would have to read them two or three times just to understand what they wanted you to answer. Some questions were made difficult not to simulate real-life situations, but just because the underlying material was too intuitive and basic in its natural useful form. Then others covered material that was so insignificant that it is guaranteed to be forgotten within a week, and would have to be relearned from scratch if my cousin ever were to become a biologist.
I used to dislike to work. I saw how most people lived their lives, slogging through work that they hated, and I was determined not to fall into that trap. I made the mistake of generalizing, lumping all work together in the same bucket.
Since then, things have changed. In terms of monumental personal life changes, becoming a hard worker is the most recent one I've undergone. About a year ago, for reasons I touched on in this post, I decided that it was imperative for me to become a hard worker. I didn't do it because I had suddenly fallen in love with work, but rather because I had began to feel as though I was behind. And believe me, it wasn't love at first sight.
To fall in love with hard work, you must understand why it's necessary. When I was young I was told that sugar was bad, but I never understood exactly why it was bad, so I kept eating it. Only when I learned how it chemically affected my body did I finally give it up. The same is true of work-- if you don't know why you have to work hard and love it, you'll probably never actually do it.
Work is your gift to the world. That sounds corny, but it's true. And believe me, you owe the world a gift or two. Think of all of the various things that millions of people around the world have done for you to enjoy the life you have. They made up languages, invented stuff, procreated at the exact right times to create your ancestry, and managed to not kill each other in the process. We're lucky to be here, and the high standard of living we all enjoy now is only because of those who came before us. Some, like Einstein, had huge impact, but even people you don't notice, like the janitors, are making your life better.
Before I get into that, I want to explain why I eat what I eat, so that people considering changes based on my opinion can make sure that my goals align with theirs. I choose what I eat for long term health and longevity. That's it. I love animals and think they should be treated kindly, but if factory farmed meat would make me healthier, I would eat it. Taste is important within the range of healthy foods, but if styrofoam packing peanuts were the secret to health, I'd be pounding them down. I don't eat to gain association with any group or subculture. Whether I'm considered vegan, vegetarian, paleo, carnivore, or anything else doesn't matter to me.
I'm not trying to be right yesterday, I'm trying to be right today. Sometimes that means admitting that I was wrong and making the best change I can. I base my identity around adapting quickly to the best information I can find, not clinging to the previous best information.
Also, I don't care how much money I spend on healthy food. If $5 buys me a meal that's somewhat healthy and $10 buys me a meal that is completely healthy, I will pay the $10. The act of eating is amongst the most intimate processes we undergo. The food we choose alters our bodies, minds, and futures. That makes it a top priority financially and otherwise. I once read an exchange where someone asked someone else why healthy food was so expensive. Because it's more valuable, he replied.
As I mentioned last week, I'm about to release the book version of Life Nomadic! It's just over 150 pages of travel related awesomeness. Here are some of the many topics I talk about in it:
My goal when writing the book was to make it ESSENTIAL reading for any traveler or nomad, but also for it to be VERY valuable to even the casual traveler or for someone who doesn't travel at all (by sharing interesting stories and life philosophies). Some parts of the book cover topics I've covered here, but almost all of it is brand new.
Anyway, I'll go more into detail when I release the book on MONDAY 10/5. For now, enjoy reading the first two chapters. But first....
In 2009, probably within the first couple months of its existence, I downloaded the Bitcoin client and began mining bitcoins. Back then it was really easy-- you could get hundreds of Bitcoins per week for free, but they weren't worth anything. Not wanting to waste my time, I deleted the Bitcoin client, and any bitcoins I had mined went along with it.
Last March I thought about Bitcoins again and decided to check up on them. As I read about the progress that had taken place in the preceding years and learned more about the technical aspects of Bitcoin, I was blown away. This is going to change the world, I thought.
So I bought a few when they were around $30 a coin, a few more at $80, and then again at $110. I'm not a Bitcoin millionaire or anything awesome like that, but percentage-wise, it's the best return I've ever gotten on anything. In case you don't fanatically check the price like I do, it's at around $825 per coin as I write this.
I'm going to write the rest of this blog post to explain why I think it's important that you buy some Bitcoins, but take it all with a grain of salt. I do know a fair amount about Bitcoin, but I don't know much about investing or, more importantly, your financial situation.
I was talking to a religious person the other day. They spoke with 100% confidence. Then I thought about how atheists, myself included, tiptoe around religious people. We don't want to offend them. It's the same feeling you get when talking about Santa Claus around kids.
I'm done with that. Religion is ridiculous. There is no god. I'm not even capitalizing the word anymore. There is no heaven.
The ONLY reason that anyone believes in these fictions is because of tradition and information being passed down through generations.
I'm pretty good at a lot of things. I'm a good programmer, a good blogger, a good writer, a good poker player and so on. Am I one of the BEST programmers in the world? Nope, not even close. Best bloggers in the world? Again, no. Writer? Not within miles of it. Poker player? Middling.
There's a type of bet in sports called a parlay. If you don't know what that is, it's a bet on multiple events. To get paid off, you have to be right on all of them. So maybe the 49ers have to win their game, the Patriots have to win theirs, and the Steelers have to win their game. Even if every event is pretty likely to happen-- say fifty percent to make the math easy, the odds of all three happening are pretty slim. One in eight. Because it's rare for all of the events to happen in the same way, you get paid off proportionally well.
In the same way, combinations of skills are extremely rare and valuable. I may not be the best at any of those things, but I doubt you can find someone who is as good at all four combined as I am. That's not because I'm amazing, it's just because we've all picked a handful of things that we specialize in. You might be the best juggling / running / physicist in the world.
Luckily very few things in this world require only one skill. Even things that seem like they do, like painting, also require storytelling, marketing, social skills, etc. In the infinite world of possible paths, we all have the opportunity to use our set of specialties and change the game so that the winner is the person who has those skills.