Charlie's Blog: 2023


The Not-To-Do List

“Not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

I don't always agree with Tim Ferriss, but I do appreciate Tim Ferriss. He has some good ideas, and I think his best idea is the Not-To-Do List. For most people, doing more is what they are after. They never stop to consider doing less. Subtraction belongs in the toolbox of your life, and I can say that removing things from my life has helped me. Here are the items on my personal Not-To-Do List.

1. Stop watching sports.

I do not watch sports or follow sports. This was not always the case, but I came to this decision in stages. I cancelled my cable TV subscription, and I deleted the preset for the sports radio station from my Walkman. I don't keep up with any of it now. In life, you can watch others do things, or you can do things yourself. For me, time to watch a game is better spent going for a walk.

2. Stop pursuing hobbies.

I define a hobby as the serious pursuit of a worthless activity. I do have worthless activities that I do for momentary fun like playing the kazoo or drawing things on the back of junk mail. I watch birds sometimes from the back step. But I don't go beyond this stuff into serious wastes of time and money like ham radio or car collecting. I definitely don't hunt, fish, or play golf.

3. Stop doing things that you are not good at doing.

This is a corollary to the hobby thing. I gave up guitar playing when I accepted that I was not very good at playing guitar. I switched to the kazoo because I could be just as annoying at a fraction of the cost. I also don't listen to people who think I should do podcasts or a YouTube channel. I am a good writer, but I am not a good speaker. My TBI has only exacerbated this for me. I also stopped writing fiction and poetry. I stick to non-fiction blogging.

4. Torch your bucket list.

I am never going to climb Everest or run a marathon or complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I think all bucket lists are vanity. The only thing I want to do before I die is to be in a state of grace in order to go to Heaven. I don't think dying and becoming a popsicle on Everest is going to help me on that.

5. Stop trying to change other people.

When it comes to other people's problems, I am mostly indifferent. This is because these problems are usually self-inflicted, and people are not going to do what it takes to fix those problems. I pray for people and will give advice if they ask for it. Otherwise, I mind my own business. I have my own problems.

6. Stay off of social media.

Ever since kicking my Twitter addiction some years ago, I vowed to never allow myself to become addicted to social media again. I have kept that vow. Social media is a waste of life.

7. Stop extroverting.

I am an introvert. I can fake being an extrovert when I need to do that, but I am playing out of my position when that happens. I prefer a quiet mode of existence. Consequently, I don't go out to bars and cafes or attend parties and social functions except when it is required. I find people exhausting. My TBI has only exacerbated this for me. I don't care to change this.

8. Stop consuming bad information.

I try to listen to both sides of an argument or an issue. At some point, I have made up my mind, and I can tune out the wrong side. I am never going to become a Protestant again, join the Eastern Orthodox, or go atheist. Similarly, I am never going to become a Marxist. I am not going to become a carnivore meathead or take up triathlon. Knowing these things allows me to ignore a lot of useless blabber.

That's it for my Not-To-Do list. As you get older, you realize how precious time can be. This motivates you to stop wasting it. The Not-To-Do list is a great way to stop wasting time.


Shoes and Socks

DISCLAIMER: I am not a podiatrist or shoe expert. This is just a personal testimonial concerning what I wear on my feet for walking. Consult with podiatrists and experts before buying footwear.

It's gotta be the shoes.

The athletic footwear market is a 100+ billion dollar industry. That's a big number of shoes sold. $15 billion comes from the sale of running shoes. I won't get into socks. As for walking shoes, I don't know.

I wear shoes out of necessity. I don't think shoes have magic properties, but they do protect my feet. When I was a teenager, I took up walking briefly to help lose some weight. I had some paper thin soled boating shoes I wore while walking on the concrete sidewalk. My legs and feet felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to them. I switched to some thick soled knock off brand running shoes from Walmart, and my legs and feet improved considerably. The lesson I learned from that experience was that I need that slab of foam underneath my feet especially on concrete.

I don't think you need special or expensive shoes for walking. The shoes I walk in now are essentially the same as those cheap Walmart shoes I wore briefly as a kid. I wear New Balance 608s preferably in white. They cost $50-60 on Amazon. I know when I need to replace them because I get that sledgehammer attack feeling in my legs at the 500 mile mark. Here is a picture of those shoes:

The Gentle Reader will recognize these as "dad shoes." Many of the old men in my town wear these shoes. I suppose this makes me an old man, too. They are basic, yet they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn in my life. These shoes are without gimmicks which brings me to the main point I want to make in this post.

Gimmick shoes are the ones that have some "extra" thing that makes them better than my plain shoes. These gimmicks also make them more expensive. One of those gimmicks for the last decade has been the minimalist barefoot shoes that promise to promote a more natural foot strike. Runners have taken to these shoes in the vain hope for finding a remedy for their running injuries. I recommend switching to walking. I do not think human beings were designed for long distance running, but I do think they were designed for long distance walking. Aside from a couple of blisters, I have experienced no injuries with walking.

Another gimmick has been the swing to the other extreme with maximalist shoes with gigantic stacked soles. I call these "Frankenstein shoes." I suspect they do help with injuries, but I think they are excessive especially when you look at the price tag.

The other gimmick shoes have weird construction. For instance, shoes with air cushions (and a famous swoosh) work good until you hit a tack. Then, they make a weird sound as you push out air through the puncture with each step. Another new line of shoes have little empty pockets under the sole to act as shock absorbers. Then, there are the rocking chair walking shoes with curved soles that are supposed to help propel you forward with each step. At the end of the day, I want the slab of foam. You can keep the gimmicks which I think are aimed at depriving you of hard earned money.

I suspect that trail shoes are gimmicks, too. I love walking on trails, but I wear the same NB 608 shoes I wear for everywhere else. I noticed early on that trail shoes were essentially the same as the road shoes except with different aesthetics on the upper. Later, they made the soles a bit grippier like off road tires for a truck. This was supposed to help for gnarly and technical terrain. I don't do that type of walking. If I did, I would switch to a good pair of hiking boots. I am not a hiker, so I save my money.

The one thing I do that seems unique to me is that I wear thick socks with my walking shoes. My socks are Thorlos running socks that only come up to the ankle. Here is a picture:

I love these socks. I wear them to protect against rubbing and blisters. They also add another layer of cushion to my dad shoes. My philosophy is that you will do a thing more if you are comfortable doing it. I walk mainly because my shoes and socks are comfortable.

My only beef with shoes is having to buy a new pair every six months. I don't think this fact of life will ever change. Everything has a downside. But this brings me to another thing I like about my New Balance shoes. They don't change. I buy the same brand and model every time in the same color. I may switch colors if they are cheaper, but the basic white ones tend to be the lowest cost. My two pairs of basic shoes each year still cost less than a single pair of gimmick shoes.

Shoes and socks come down to individual preference. Some folks like a tighter shoe with thin socks. I think everyone would benefit from finding a basic shoe that is inexpensive paired with a comfortable pair of socks. Aim for comfort. I think that is the most important thing. If you're not comfortable doing it, you will stop doing it.

UPDATE: I came across this article on maximalist running shoes aka Frankenstein shoes.

The Padded Paradox: The Cost Of Cushioned Running Shoes

Science aside, many runners find that max running shoes feel great—like soft, bouncy moon boots or like the shoe is doing the work for you. But highly cushioned shoes are not actually linked to lower levels of impact than traditional running shoes; in fact, they come with a higher vertical average load rate and vertical instantaneous loading rate—both of which promote overuse injuries like stress fractures and plantar fasciitis, research published in 2015 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise revealed.

A 2018 study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine also showed that runners exhibited increased impact forces and loading rates—variables that have been associated with a higher risk of running-related injuries—in maximal shoes versus neutral shoes. The authors wrote that runners who are new to running in a maximal shoe may be at an increased risk of injury.

My takeaway from this is that running is always the primary cause of running injuries. The shoes make no difference. This is a good reason to WALK in sensible shoes. Avoid the gimmick shoes.


The Tragedy of Micah True

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, personal trainer, or healthcare professional. These are just my opinions. Consult a physician before starting any exercise program.

I don't want anyone to do anything except come run, party, dance, eat, and hang with us. Running isn't about making people buy stuff. Running should be free, man.

Micah True was 58 when he died. He outlived Jim Fixx by six years. Like Fixx, True was an avid runner. In fact, he was an extreme ultrarunner and the hero in Born To Run known as "Caballo Blanco." True also died like Fixx from a bad ticker. True's heart was enlarged and showed evidence of scarring. It is the contention of Dr. James O'Keefe that running killed Micah True. I agree with O'Keefe.

James O'Keefe presented his argument concerning True's death in this Ted Talk. I highly recommend watching the whole thing, but I will summarize it here. It is possible to take endurance exercise too far. You can have too much of a good thing. Micah True was a perfect experiment in this regard as he ran for many years for extremely long distances. True described himself as a "trail running bum" similar to surf bums and climbing bums who spend the bulk of their days pursuing their passions. All that running took a toll on his heart. Naturally, there are those who differ with O'Keefe on this theory. These people are in denial.

Exercise is like anything else. You need exercise, but you don't want to overdo that exercise. It is all tied to the dosage. For Micah True, he took an overdose. That shatters a myth that I suspect the editors at a certain running publication would like to keep intact. High mileage running and marathons sell a lot of stuff. I can't help but draw a parallel between these running purveyors and tobacco company executives in denial about the hazards of their products. Micah True got it wrong. Running is totally about making people buy stuff.

The Gentle Reader already knows where I stand on this issue. I think walking is better than running. Plus, I don't make a red cent off of that opinion. I have no financial conflicts of interest when it comes to this debate. Unfortunately in life, where people stand on things usually depends upon where they are getting their money.

I am tempted often to devote a project entirely to a single topic of interest because this would increase traffic to that project and also advertising prospects. Unfortunately, I think being a single topic blogger is a hazard to objectivity. I have the freedom to present the empirical evidence and even change my mind on an issue because I haven't built my living on the thing.

I think running is an overrated and oversold activity. Because of this, people pursue it when they shouldn't while others are discouraged by it and remain on the couch. Walking is the middle path. Exercise doesn't have to be extreme to be beneficial.

Show me the bodies.

UPDATE: I have really enjoyed reading the combox comments on the O'Keefe video, Run for your life! At a comfortable pace, and not too far: James O'Keefe at TEDxUMKC. Here is a selection of the ones I liked the best:

I have been an endurance athlete/triathlete my entire life. My perfect Saturday was a 45-mile bike ride, followed by an 8-mile run with a 5 hours rest afterwards and then an afternoon masters swim chased with several pints at the La Jolla Brewing Co. I always thought that my activity would make me bulletproof, and I'd live to be 100. 2 years ago, after a vigorous masters swim in the lead lane with an ex-olympian, holding times that I would be proud of in my 20's and 30's,- I went home, had a sandwich, sat down at my desk and (with no prior history - family or otherwise) had a heart attack. They told me it was SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Arterial Dissection) It was a super rare type of heart attack that effects women having a baby (90%) and endurance athletes (10% male). It floored me. I asked my Cardiologist "what caused this?" he said - "I don't know". I asked, "Will it happen again?"  he said - "I don't know". I now hang in the back, I am at about 65% of where I was 3 years ago, I take long walks and am enjoying the view from the middle/back of the pack. I'll be 60 next year, and I know my kids would like to see another 40 more.


What a wonderfully informative presentation. This avoidance of high intensity for long periods is also shown in Mafetone program. At 63 I thought I had a responsibility to push myself harder to give myself the best shot at a long healthy life. Not now, I am going to keep the intensity down and settle for plenty of low intensity exercise.


This is one of the best talks when it comes to exercise and safety.


Thank you for this lecture. I kind of suspected that the law of diminishing returns, which applies to everything else in life, would apply to exercise as well. Thanks for going over the evidence for this.


I'm an avid walker.  I love to walk.  Sometimes I even enjoy a nice run or some hill climbs.  The runners in my life don't understand.  They're into their best time.  Training for that next race.  We don't understand each other.  I walk to lower my stress and be happy.  I hope it does good things for my heart.


Much of this information, in bits and pieces, has been around for decades but the good doctor FINALLY puts together a sensible way to look at how we should approach our exercise habits in accordance with the older and, now, the newer research. His presentation style is low-key and comforting...


Wow. This blew my mind. Completely contrary to what conventional wisdom has fed us for the last 30 years. Thank you for sharing.


I have been an endurance athlete for about 10 years now training for Ironman triathlons off and on...and I have definitely noticed some negative health related things that occur when my training time periods rise above a certain level.


Fantastic talk. I certainly believe our bodies are not designed for endurance sports.


I felt my heart relaxing while listening to his speech. Nice indeed.


This opened my eyes a bit. The word I'll take from this is - Moderation! Life in moderation is healthier. Being efficient and optimal is more important than overdoing things. From now on I'll eat moderately, exercise adequately, and enjoy work. Thank you!!


everything he said was true and backed by solid data. Thank god we finally have people like this changing the ignorant face of exercise.


Brilliant!!! Everything in moderation has always been the best advice.


Amazing!   The readers of runners world won't be happy about this study.  Apparently for maximum health you should be running 2 times a week, roughly no more than 10-15 miles per week.  WOW!


This research is consistent with centenarians.  For example, Jeanne Calment only rode her bike around town.  Not to far and not too fast.  She started riding her bike at 3 years old and did so until 110 years old.  She lived to 122.  The centenarian Greeks also did a lot of low impact exercise such as shepherding sheep up hills.


Years go by, but this speech remains true.


This is an amazing Ted talk with robust scientific data that shakes the very foundation of endurance athletics . Thanks.


I was a devotee of Jim Fixx; studied his book,  "The Complete Book of Running" .  And, was shocked when he dropped dead while running.  Luckily I never had time to become more compulsive than a couple of half-marathons, and years of 7 miles on the weekends (with, of course 3 mile normals)


My friend's husband was a passionate cyclist pushing it every day. Very fit, looking great, full of life, good job as an engineer etc - perfect life you'd think. He died on his bike in his 60s, heart attack... She was absolutely devastated and felt cheated, how come, he was so fit etc... Now we hear more and more of pro athletes collapsing and dying suddenly. I think society is becoming more aware now but we need to take this message further, exercise is like water, you don't hydrate, you die, you overhydrate, you die. That's why I enjoy being a couch pot... no, I'm kidding :) I enjoy mixing my training with strength training, I'll do 20-30min of moderate to high cardio + 20-30 min of strength training. That way I feel good. When I was pushing my cardio too much I noticed I was sick all the time and I didn't feel that well most of the time, usually tired. The problem is that intensive cardio past 50--60 min is like a drug, you get high from it, it feels great for a second, you're the king of the world but like every drug that makes you high, it can be very dangerous.


By Cracky James O'Keefe just told me that I should be doing exactly what I have been doing, I walk moderately twice a day 40 miniutes and a few other activities.   I used to run marathons and exercise like a fanatic, but burned out, good thing too.


GREAT talk by Dr. James O'Keefe. Brings to mind the tragic story of Jimm Fixx = author of the Complete Book of Running - only to die in 1984 from jogging with multivessel disease on autopsy - which is eerily similar to Micah True's story (Caballo Blanco) that Dr. O'Keefe describes. It makes sense that some exercise is good - moderate exercise is better - but extreme exercise (done repetitively without rest) may be fatal.


Kenneth Cooper's "Aerobics" in 1968 was the first wave in the running craze. He cautioned in his  book, the benefits of running are many but if you run more than 3.2 miles you are doing it for reasons other than health


the middle way is the right way, thank you for sharing this life saving insight


The scientific confirmation of the common sense approach to exercise.


To live intensely can put you in a hospital.  The problem is not dying. It's hanging on with diminished health.  I'm 74 and walk a lot.


Genius and Common Sense together.


Clearly there is a difference between health and fitness performance.


Not a surprise heavy-duty runners don't like to hear this message.  What it doesn't take into account is the pyschological/mental aspects of vigorous exercise.  Some people don't want to slow down or reduce the amount of exercise because they don't feel as good as with their current dosage of activity.  Hard to go from Type A behavior/personality to Type B.  Runners, in particular, often have a hard time "cross-training".  They have a hard time getting mental boost from exercise if it's not long enough or fast enough.  Often, can't comprehend how they could have underlying health conditions with all of the exercise they get, especially when they feel great.  The "invincible" shield takes hold, as seen in some of the previous comments here, where one has the attitude of, "I'm not hurt and I feel awesome, so I can keep doing this for the rest of my life".


Thanks. I rate this as the best TED talk ever. Evidence-based, sound reasoning, well presented, and taking action on what's presented will have massive benefits to those who do so. Great work! You pulled together a lot of high quality studies into a succinct presentation.


The 45 people who disliked this video are obviously marathon runners in denial.


Runners will not like this video.  However, Caballo Blanco ran 150-160 miles a week, and the state medical examiner’s office has determined the cause of Caballo Blanco's death as idiopathic cardiomyopathy, a heart ailment.


When my father was in his 50's he ran several marathons and ended up being diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy.  Marathon running is not good for the heart.


very controversial topic but i think theres increasing data to support this guy. as an excercise enthusiast, i hate hearing this stuff too. its a shame but... probably gotta cut it back. 2-3 mile jogs humming along at 8 min/miles several times a week is the way to go. nice moderate pace swims 20-30 mins and that's it.


lol my knees regulate my heart damage.  Thank you.


I almost wanted to hate him for his message until he said "Don't shoot the messenger"


Shared this video with a runner and he wasn't happy.


Why run? Because it feels so good when I stop!


I hate running,walking is my thing


Batman Versus The Punisher

In certain extreme situations, the law is inadequate. In order to shame its inadequacy, it is necessary to act outside the law to pursue a natural justice. This is not vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive. It’s an emotional response. No, not vengeance, punishment.

On the face of it, Batman and the Punisher are identical characters. Bruce Wayne lost his mother and father to a senseless crime when he was a child. Likewise, Frank Castle lost his family to another senseless crime. Both mourn the loss of their loved ones. The differences between the two men are their responses to crime, and their philosophies about those responses. Yes, these are just comic book characters, but they reflect the real world.

Batman has been tempted to the style of vigilantism of the Punisher. This was shown in the movie, Batman Begins, when Bruce Wayne brought a gun to the courtroom to kill the man that murdered his parents. Instead, someone else kills the man for different reasons cheating Bruce of pulling the trigger himself. Wayne has a moment of clarity and chooses a different path. Without a target, he chooses to go after crime and corruption in general but to also refrain from becoming the thing he is fighting against.

Frank Castle responds by gunning up and inflicting punishment and revenge on the same criminals that Batman fights. The difference is that Castle kills the crimlnals. He is enforcer, judge, jury, and executioner. He takes upon himself the roles that do not belong to him. This is justified because of the "inadequacies" of the system. The Punisher sees himself as the perfect dispenser of justice. I wonder if he hasn't killed some innocent bystanders along the way making him the same as the criminals he kills.

We live in the world of Gotham City right now, and we always have. Crime and corruption have always been with us and will be here until the Second Coming. Until then, we have to preserve the order even if this is imperfect. Batman understands this. His efforts are meant to reinforce what good remains in the urban corruption. The Punisher wants to burn it all down to satisfy something personal inside of himself. The problem is that crime is not the solution to crime.

We have punishers today. These are the ones who take preemptive action against the "guilty." They make broad judgments about entire groups of people, and they scorch the earth in their desire to exterminate the guilty. This already happens in war zones in foreign countries. Many of our service members have chosen to become war criminals. Some even wear the Punisher's symbol on their uniforms and equipment. Stateside, many wish to fulfill their own fantasies of inflicting punishment on criminals without all that due process crap.

Batman is not the same as the Punisher. In the stories I like, Batman works in cooperation with law enforcement as represented by Commissioner Gordon. Batman is not a vigilante so much as a deputy police officer and concerned citizen. His personal decision to not use guns and kill criminals is Batman's way of keeping vigilante impulses in check. Bruce Wayne's personal desire is to hang up the cape and leave it to the authorities. The reality is that your police depend upon the support of the public.

Anyone can be Batman in our society today. This doesn't require a special costume or a Batmobile. It could be something small as serving on a neighborhood watch and keeping your eyes open to criminal activities. For years, America's Most Wanted put away bad guys by tapping into the power of the public. To a lesser extent, we can be Batman by being good parents, good teachers, and law abiding citizens. Ultimately, law and order are what make the world a better place not vigilantes with guns and anger. Law and order demands good institutions and good people. Undermining these things is counterproductive.

Saint Paul makes this point in Romans 13:1-4,

Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.

Authority comes from God especially the authority of law enforcement. The power of the police comes less from their guns than from their badges that represent the special and God ordained function they serve in society. A vigilante like the Punisher undermines all of that. He steals an authority that does not belong to him. Without a basis in God and morality, justice is shredded to bits as violence replaces morality. In the long term, this leads to anarchy and chaos.

The vigilante argument is that our institutions and our culture are failing. This is true. Batman deals with this problem in Gotham City. There is nothing light and sunny about Gotham. This is what makes Batman the most realistic comic book. Gotham City is the world corrupted by original sin. This is what makes the Batman myth so appealing to a conservative and a Catholic such as myself. This world will never be Heaven, but you can keep it from becoming Hell.

The fundamental difference between Batman and the Punisher is that Batman has patience. The Punisher lacks this patience. Frank Castle just wants immediate satisfaction. We can see this lack of patience at play today. People want to lose their tempers and get stupid. This rashness on their part never solves problems or makes things better. They just make things worse. It also fundamentally tells God that you can do a better job than the Almighty.

The last thing about the Punisher is an inability to acknowledge his own need to be moral and upright. At the end of the day, Frank Castle is just a criminal with a different agenda. He's not the good guy. He is called an "antihero" because he kills killers. And that is what galls people. It is the idea that even criminals are made in the image of God and deserving of some basic level of dignity. The Punisher does not believe this. Along the way, he loses his own soul. He becomes that which he hates. Castle is a tragic figure in this regard.

Don't be the Punisher. Be Batman. Make the world a better place instead of settling the score. Leave justice to the authorities. Leave vengeance to God.



I think happiness is overrated. Satisfied, at peace-those would be more realistic goals.

Something is overrated when it does not live up to the hype it receives. That doesn't make it a bad thing. It just means that it does not live up to expectations because those expectations were too high. Conversely, a thing that is underrated is a pleasant surprise. It did not receive the credit it deserves. Here are some things I find overrated and underrated.


Carhartt makes good stuff, but it carries the reputation of indestructibility that is undeserved. Aside from double knee duck canvas pants, Carhartt pants last about as long as a pair of Dockers. I bought some pairs back in 2012, and they were disintegrated by the end of the decade. They were comfortable, and I did not wear them for work but just for casual wear.


I bought some Dickies pants for work back in 2005. I still have those pants and still wear them. There has been some light mending and a patch or two, but those pants have been indestructible. These would be the polyester pants they make like the 874. When it comes to work wear for actual work, you can't go wrong with Dickies.

OVERRATED: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Ever since the beginning of UFC back in the nineties, every bro on the planet has looked to BJJ as the ticket to badassery in the fighting arts and for self-defense. BJJ is fine for MMA competitions but is horrible for real world self-defense. I watched one video of a BJJ black belt who weighed 155 roll with an untrained opponent who was almost 7 foot tall and 450 pounds. The big guy owned the little guy. In another video, an untrained karate guy beat an opponent at BJJ simply by standing up. Basically, if you refuse to grapple with a BJJ guy, they can't do anything with you. Finally, who wants to roll with a dude in a filthy and dangerous parking lot with the possibility that his friends may join in the action and kick your head in? I also don't see women using BJJ for self-defense against stronger and bigger men. BJJ is a sport not a system for self-defense.


Krav Maga is my placeholder for all real world self-defense systems including those that don't carry the Krav Maga name. For me, Krav Maga is more of a philosophy than a system which allows additions, innovations, and variations as its founder, Imi Lichtenfeld envisioned it. Keyboard warriors will claim that Krav Maga doesn't work. When does an eye gouge or a kick to the groin not work? Finally, what does work? BJJ? I go with the system used by the IDF, the military, and the police around the world. 

OVERRATED: The Keurig Coffeemaker

Convenience is expensive. The Keurig is proof of this. This overpriced machine with its pricey and wasteful K-cups takes the same coffee you could brew with a Mr. Coffee and makes it easy to make a single cup without having to use a measuring spoon. That small inconvenience is all that you're skipping. Meanwhile, instant coffee is there for people who want that single cup without the expense. You will need to measure the instant coffee with the same spoon you will use to stir the cream and sugar. The Keurig exists for the stupid and the lazy.


The Chemex is a big glass bottle and a paper funnel. It is not a convenient way to make coffee, but I think it makes the most delicious cup you can get with pour over coffee. It even does a good job making cheap coffee taste good. It is also more sanitary and easier to clean than a machine.

OVERRATED: Literary fiction

I have read both Steinbeck and Hemingway. I don't see the big deal about their stories. When literature becomes "art," it means it is boring and empty. I won't say the same for works produced before the 20th century like Twain or Melville or Dumas. In those days, people just wrote stuff people wanted to read. They weren't trying to win a Nobel Prize.

UNDERRATED: Genre fiction

The biggest selling writer of the last century is Agatha Christie. She is second to the Holy Bible in terms of sales. I doubt any English professors are lecturing on her work. The same goes for Tolkien, Spillane, and L'Amour. Like it or not, genre fiction is what people want to read. People enjoy those stories. They are beloved.

OVERRATED: Arnold Schwarzenegger

This guy only made two good movies in his life playing a homicidal robot. The rest of his catalog of work pales in comparison. Yet, he is considered the king of action movies.

UNDERRATED: Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell is now getting respect for his body of outstanding work. Big Trouble in Little China is his best work, but he shined in everything else he has ever done. As far as I know, he did it all without steroids or a martial arts black belt. Kurt is the blue collar action hero for the rest of us.

OVERRATED: Sherlock Holmes

When people think of detectives, Sherlock Holmes springs immediately to mind with the pipe and the deerstalker cap. Holmes is the classic genius detective who solves cases with superior intellect. His feats are amazing, but he is not so likable as a character even with his eccentricities.


Lt. Columbo played by Peter Falk is my favorite detective. This is because he is fundamentally blue collar with the raincoat, cigar, and junky car. Columbo solves cases not by genius but by not giving up. He comes across as dumb, but he simply keeps asking questions until he gets the answers. He is also humble and down to earth. The Columbo shows are a real joy to watch.


I am talking about the classic Army style jeeps not the modern SUVs. These offroad vehicles are horrible to drive and are worthless for getting work done. They exist primarily as toys for people who go into the wilderness to flip them over and get them stuck somewhere.

UNDERRATED: Work trucks

These trucks could be Fords, Dodges, Chevys, Toyotas, Nissans, etc. The thing they have in common is plainness and utility. This is opposed to the shiny new versions of these vehicles that people drive as status symbols. Go to the parking lot at Lowe's or Home Depot to see some real work trucks. If you're worried about getting a scratch on it, it isn't a work truck.


Netflix is like the Keurig. It is convenient but expensive. You get to watch movies at your convenience unless they are on another streaming service. Otherwise, you are paying rent on entertainment with most of it not worth watching. You also need great internet. Good luck if you live in the country.


When DVDs came out, I climbed aboard. I already loved CDs, so I was a natural fit for DVDs. I like physical media especially used DVDs from the thrift store. We have a library of these videos that we watch at our convenience, and the price is less than a streaming service. DVDs are taking a hit as people move to streaming, but I think people will come back to the discs just like they have with vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, and physical books.

OVERRATED: Apple Macbooks

Apple is more of a cult than a company. I think they make overpriced junk products they sell to a bunch of brainwashed fools. The Macbook is the best product the company makes because you can use it for work. It costs thousands depending upon which version you get and becomes worthless in two years.

UNDERRATED: Chromebooks

Chromebooks are derided for not being real computers, but they are a fraction of the cost of a Macbook and enables you to do what most people use computers for which is going on the internet. They boot up fast and last a long time. You can get expensive and durable versions, but we had one that lasted over 7 years that was the basic plastic model made by Samsung.

OVERRATED: Disneyworld

I lived for 5 years in Orlando, Florida, and I never went to Disneyworld. I am not a kid, and I find the park ridiculous and stupid. This was before it went totally woke. Now, I wouldn't even recommend it for families. Additionally, the bulk of your time will be spent standing in line trying not to soil your pants as the wait time exceeds the capacity of your bladder and colon.


I joke that Gatorland is Redneck Disneyworld. I think they may have jazzed up the place over the years, but I remember it being a quiet place filled with snakes and gators who just sort of sat there doing nothing. There are some shows with gator wrestling, but I found that I enjoyed just looking at animals that could kill me. Gatorland began a love in me for roadside attractions that are kitschy and cheap fun.

That's it for Overrated/Underrated. I think I will have future installments of this type of thing. Be sure to tune in again, and don't fall for the hype.


Need Versus Greed

And that no man overreach, nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and have testified.

I prefer the Douay-Rheims translation because it gives the proper Catholic understanding of Scripture. This is because of a truth I learned decades ago at a Protestant seminary. There is no translation without interpretation. If you read a Protestant Bible, you will get the Protestant translation. If you read a Catholic Bible, you will get the Catholic translation. This verse is one of those verses.

The King James Version translates this verse this way:

That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

 The New King James translates the verse this way:

that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.

 The New International Version translates the verse this way:

and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

All of these verses are similar, but they are not the same. The Protestant versions caution against defrauding someone. The Catholic version cautions against monopolistic behavior. You can see how the Protestant translations evolved in their interpretation. When you consider the Protestant and the Catholic attitudes towards business and commerce, you can see why they have different translations. It is the case of need versus greed.

Despite the claims of modernist heretics in the Church espousing liberation theology, Catholicism has always opposed communism. The right to own property is part of natural law. The commandment to not steal implies that one can own something. But Catholicism also opposes the monopolistic tendencies of those who go beyond owning something to owning everything.

The final end of material wealth is to meet material needs. Imagine if some company could lay claim to the air itself which is free and charge people a fee for breathing. This seems ludicrous, yet this is exactly what companies have done with water, land, petroleum, and other free things they did not create. It is so bad that they have made it illegal in some states to harvest rainwater. Then, when a business can't own a resource, they pollute the hell out of it. When you can't drink the water or breathe the air, this is a crime. Even the owner of the offending business should want to drink clean water and breathe clean air.

The problem we have today is that anyone who criticizes capitalism and business gets hit with the Marxist label. You can be a capitalist and still criticize capitalism. Everyone has the right to make a profit but not at the expense of his brother. Yet, this is precisely what many businesses do. And when they can't do it in one country that says enough, they move their operations overseas where they can get away with this dirty business.

There are limits to what you can own. Commies want you to own nothing. Dirty businesses want to own everything. Catholics believe you should own what you need in order to live.

A fellow once told me that he was trying to make a living not make a killing. That stuck with me. I believe in making a living. I don't believe in making a killing. I didn't really settle on this until after my conversion to Catholicism. The irony is that I have done better materially after making that switch from my libertarian mindset.

People who are extremely pro-capitalism will deride contentment as making one soft and lazy. Greed is good. It motivates and innovates and blah blah blah. Here is the Gordon Gekko speech from Wall Street:

I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.

This speech was based on an actual speech by Ivan Boesky. Both Gekko and Boesky would serve time for their crimes. Yet, their respective speeches would make Ayn Rand proud because they championed both capitalism and selfishness. Neither one of these two was content with what they had. They always wanted more.

Greed is not good. This is why it is listed in the seven deadly sins. The rapacious hunger for money and material things is one of the surest paths to poverty. The lack of contentment I see among friends and family members is what drives them to live paycheck to paycheck even when they make six figure salaries. They have to earn more which leads to them spending more requiring them to earn more. This creates a vicious cycle that has no end.

Companies engage in the same vicious cycle. They prosper by doing good business until the greed drives them to increase profits by doing dirty business. This is why you can't buy a decent can opener anymore because the company decided it was more profitable for them to stick it to the customers by making lower quality products. In the long run, customers turn away from that business to find what they need. I know I did.

Good business is good business. You can't run a good business on greed. That is a libertarian lie. This is why some of the best businesses belong to people who tend to be hippie types. I don't think these people are heroes necessarily, but they do eschew greed for the sake of other goals. Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia is a prominent example. Patagonia eschews greed and remains profitable. That is not supposed to happen, but it does.

Another quip I heard was this. "Pigs get fed while hogs get slaughtered." Basically, it is enough to be profitable. Going beyond this profitably involves increased risks and potential disaster. You see this with Facebook's failures with creating a metaverse. That was a dumb idea. At some point, you pay a dividend to your shareholders in concession to reality.

I see need as the driver of progress and not greed. Successful businesses satisfy needs. Unsuccessful businesses fail when they seek to satisfy their greed.

How much is enough? That is a hard question to answer. Needs are finite. Once present needs are met, you have to consider future needs. It is enough to eat today and to eat tomorrow. Beyond that, you are working to meet someone else's needs. This might be your family, your grandchildren, the poor, or what have you. Contentment naturally leads to generosity. Greed does not. Greed turns wants into needs and never finds satisfaction for itself.

I am a capitalist and will always be a capitalist. But I believe in clean business not dirty business. Businesses and individuals should focus on meeting needs not feeding greed. No business can last long without a profit, but profit is the byproduct of success. It is not success itself. A dirty business can be profitable for a season but not forever. Consequently, it is not successful in the same way that a bank robber or a lottery winner is not successful. Luck and theft are not winning strategies.

Good business takes a holistic view of things with an eye towards sustainability over the long haul. Quality and morality matter in business. I don't know any customer that wants to be robbed or deceived. Unfortunately, our culture today gives all the incentives to dirty business while punishing good business. This needs to change.


The Generalist and the Specialist

A jack of all trades is a master of none, but often times better than a master of one.

I have seen this quotation attributed to Shakespeare, but I couldn't say for sure that Billy Boy made this quip in any of his works. It doesn't matter because it is true. It serves as both compliment and insult. It also begs the question. Is it better to be a generalist or a specialist?

This topic came back to my mind a few weeks ago when we took a friend to the auto body place to inspect her wrecked vehicle. The car was totaled, and the guy told her that she could go ahead and get her things out of the car and take her license plate. I reached into my pocket and took out the small Leatherman Squirt multitool I carry on my key chain and opened the screwdriver attachment to remove the plate. It struck me how handy these multitools can be especially when one of them is all you have. It made me resolve to get a larger Leatherman to carry on my belt.

The Leatherman multitool is the best symbol I have of the value of being a generalist. The Leatherman is truly the jack of all tools. It is not the best of tools, but it is very handy when you need it. It certainly saves you a trip back to the toolbox to get the specialized tool. I have seen many fellows who carry one regularly on their person.

I would never use a Leatherman to overhaul an engine, plumb a house, or chop firewood. When it comes to certain tasks, the specialized tool is the only one that will do. Anyone who thinks he can replace a box of tools with a Leatherman is a fool. By the same token, you can't carry that box of tools in your pocket.

The same principle is at play when it comes to what you choose to do in life. Many folks come to the crossroads in life when they have to choose to be a generalist or to become a specialist. This choice comes with reward and regret. Neither choice is the right one or the wrong one because they have their upsides and downsides.

The upside of becoming a specialist is that it is much easier to focus on doing one thing well. It can also be more lucrative. The downside is that you may also be unemployed or become unemployable if your one thing becomes obsolete or can be done by a machine. I have seen this happen to specialists in my lifetime. They go from being rich to becoming broke.

The upside of becoming a generalist is that it makes you more employable and more useful. The downside is that generalists usually don't make as much as specialists even if they are always employed. There is less downside risk in being a generalist, but there is also less upside reward. If you're a narcissist, you probably won't be able to handle being a generalist.

Another aspect of the specialist/generalist debate is personal fulfillment. Specialization leads to boredom. Generalists are never bored. It takes more work and intelligence to be competent at various tasks than to be supremely gifted and trained for one task. Specialists make up for this lack of stimulation by seeking out competition. It becomes a game to them. When there is competition, there are egos. Generalists oppose this competitive spirit and tend towards humility.

Some people will argue that you can be both a generalist and a specialist at the same time. I disagree. I'm not sure what drives this crazy idea except a naive belief that you can have it both ways. You can't. As a golfer relative of mine once told me, he was never going to make the PGA tour while holding down a day job. I did not doubt him. Likewise, you're never going to make the top grades necessary for Harvard Medical School while also tending bar. You need rich parents for that which is why wealth has a way of perpetuating itself.

It may sound like I am selling the generalist path since I am biased on this topic, but I strive to be evenhanded in my discussion here. I appreciate the fact that my eye doctor specialized in his field, and I chose him based upon that expertise and ratings. I wanted the best guy to cut on my eyes. When you get your sight back, it makes you appreciate specialists.

Specialists are good for the world in general, but specialization is not so good for the individual. If my eye doctor developed a tremor in his hand or his own vision problems, then he better have a good financial planner looking after his money. The general practitioner doesn't have the same risks. This is why the path of the generalist looks better over the long haul. That path seems more certain and secure even if it is less lucrative.

Certain fields and endeavors tend to favor the generalist over the specialist. For instance, all blue collar jobs and trades favor the generalist. I have never known a plumber who didn't know a bit of carpentry, drywall repair, and electrical wiring as these come into contact with his profession. And if his van breaks down, he will not hesitate to pop the hood on that thing. I doubt the computer programmer wastes any time learning about the electrical wiring powering his machine.

In the military, specialists favor the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force as all three of those branches have specialized jobs for those who score high on their tests. The Marine Corps tends to favor the generalist who is primarily an infantryman who can learn additional skills as needed. As the Corps puts it, "Every Marine is, first and foremost, a Rifleman." This applies even to the desk jockey pushing a pencil. This is also why the Marines have been reluctant to provide personnel to the spec ops community because this requires specialization and a loss of those Marines to the service of other departments and missions. Turning these generalists into specialists also hurts morale as this brings in competition with many wanting to become special operators. Once you become a special operator, you don't want to go back to peeling potatoes and cleaning latrines.

In the world of sports and fitness, you will notice certain physiques serve certain functions. Basketball players tend to be tall, lean, and athletic. Marathon runners tend to be skinny and light with great aerobic capacity. Cyclists tend to be skinny and light from the waist up and muscled from the waist down. Bodybuilders are human statues while powerlifters are slabs of meat able to exert great strength. The generalist in the physique category would be the rugby player who is strong in the upper and lower body, heavy in weight, lean in muscle, and possessing the same aerobic capacity as a soccer player but the same strength as an American football player. I think the Rugby player physique is the most functional for general activities and life. They are the Leatherman tools of athletes.

In the world of academics and the mind, the generalist will simply be well read in all of the basic subjects of history, literature, philosophy, science, etc. He will not be a polymath or Renaissance Man like Leonardo da Vinci since this requires the same level of performance as a specialist but across multiple disciplines. Basically, a polymath is a master of all instead of one. I don't know if this is feasible in our day and time as knowledge has increased exponentially but not the time in which to learn it.

I think to be a generalist requires a real desire to follow that path. People motivated by greed or an aversion to work are not going to take this path. I have tried to recall generalists from my work or life that I have encountered, but my mind is drawing a blank. I remember one fellow who was fond of saying, "That's not in my job description." He did not possess a robust work ethic. Unfortunately, most followed his example.

Personally, I choose the generalist path. I'm not particularly good at one thing, but I am competent at many things and flexible enough to adapt to new things when needed. But I have learned one great lesson from specialists. If you are bad at something, you shouldn't do it at all. It is better to pay someone to do it right than pay them to do it right after you messed it up. Generalists should know when to let the specialists take over.

The key for the generalist is competence. The generalist knows that he needs to perform to a certain level of satisfaction but not more. A generalist can be a short order cook but not a French chef. A generalist can be an EMT or paramedic but not a surgeon. This is why being a generalist requires humility. You have to know what you can do competently and also what you shouldn't do at all. You leave the higher level stuff to the specialists.

I do not believe it is better to be either a generalist or a specialist. Each path has its upsides and its downsides. You have to decide for yourself which path fits your skills, talents, and personality. What is best is what will be best for you. Also know, you will always feel regret whichever path you take. You can't have it all which is the most important lesson in this debate. Learn to live with that brutal fact of life.


2 Recent Articles Related To Walking

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, personal trainer, or healthcare professional. These are just my opinions. Consult a physician before starting any exercise program.

The vogue for counting steps springs from a work ethic gone wild, a need always to be meeting goals.

I recently read two articles related to walking that pertain to points I have made here at the C-Blog. The first deals with fitness trackers. The second deals with the debate about walking vs. running.

Confession of a Failed Steps Fanatic

I came across this article in the dead tree version of the Wall Street Journal. I figured it would be behind the paywall on the internet, but I was fortunate to find this version for free on the MSN website. The gist of the article deals with the obsessive/compulsive nature of using pedometer devices like the FitBit. Here is a great quotation from the piece:

The vogue for step counting seems to spring from our obsession with productivity, our work ethic gone wild, our need to be always accomplishing and meeting goals, or else we are lost, adrift. (The apotheosis of this impulse to maximize efficiency is probably the treadmill desk.) It may also be that unlike global warming, political chaos, pandemics, wildfires, disease and the inevitable deterioration of our own bodies, steps are one thing we can control.

The keyword here is obsession. I don't think Thoreau walked with this kind of obsession, and I can't picture him ever wearing a FitBit. I understand that having an obsessive-compulsive disorder is a great motivator for walking fitness, and this may be the only way some people will ever get out the door. But I think it takes much of the joy out of walking and life.

I walk with a Casio G-Shock with a timer that beeps. I use this watch to let me know when to go back inside. Otherwise, my daydreams would keep me outside longer than I need to be. I don't quantify my walks except that I did my walk for the day. I do not keep a log of my walking or post my stats to the Strava website. This is because I do not want to feed that quantitative side of me that leads to comparisons with others or doing dangerous things like walking in a lightning storm to get my steps in. I am not a steps fanatic.

Is running better than walking? New research says yes
You can finally conclusively win those arguments with your non-running buddies

This article is in the Canadian Running Magazine and references research featured in The New York Times. The gist of the article is that running gives greater fitness benefits than walking. I have already given my opinions on the topic here.

Why is there a giddy reaction over this research which says nothing new while leaving a lot of stuff unsaid? As the article puts it, "Here’s what you need to know to win all the walking vs. running debates with your friends." I am unaware of these debates mainly because I don't have any running friends. I do have many walking friends, and they do not care about runners.

The reason a running magazine would trumpet this research is no mystery. Running magazines sell the activity of running and related products and services. Anything that boosts running matters to their bottom line. Anything that undermines running (like walking) is not going to see publication in the magazine. The fact they even mentioned walking at all tells me the editors of this magazine must be worried and concerned.

Here are some facts that I do not dispute. Generally, an hour of running burns more calories than walking. It also burns more calories than cycling or swimming. Running, cycling, and swimming all burn more calories than walking. And what beats running? High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT burns more calories than running while also boosting endurance and strength. I won't even go into the calorie burn of sprinting, rock climbing, stair climbing, and on and on. The bottom line is that walking is definitely on the gentle side of the exercise menu. This is the reason I enjoy it so much.

What makes running so awful are the injuries. This part gets no mention in the article. That is the real debate here. I would rather walk an hour each day and do it again the next day than run for half an hour and hope to be healed up enough from whatever injuries I encounter to do it again the following week. The high injury rate among runners is undisputed.

This bring us to the longevity argument. The article claims that running boosts VO2 max which is a marker for fitness and longevity. As the article states, "VO2 max, a measurement of how much oxygen your body uses during regular exercise, is a helpful standard for assessing fitness and predicting life span." The keyword here is predicting.

The reality is that research shows otherwise. CBS News had an article entitled Too much running tied to shorter lifespan, studies find, which stated, "The researchers behind the newest study on the issue say people who get either no exercise or high-mileage runners both tend to have shorter lifespans than moderate runners." Basically, the high mileage runner lives about as long as the couch potato. The recommendation is for moderate running.

What is moderate running? The CBS article says, "In O'Keefe's view, the 'sweet spot' for jogging for health benefits is a slow to moderate pace, about two or three times per week, for a total of one to 2.5 hours." That does not sound like a ringing endorsement for running. The irony is that Canadian Running referenced this article that said the same thing as the CBS article but puts a more positive spin on it. At this point, you start to suspect that someone is fibbing on this information.

I will tell you what I think is the truth here in this research. Running high mileage at a fast pace will shorten your life. I think this is because of the sustained stress placed on the heart. I am not a doctor or a scientist, but the literature on the subject indicates to me that this is the case. The slow and infrequent jogger is probably safe from this risk.

The real debate comes down to slow jogging versus fast walking. Jogging seems to offer increased cardiovascular benefit at the cost of increased injury. Power walking seems to offer almost as much cardio benefit but without injury. Additionally, increased steps results in increased fitness.

My bottom line is that running in all its forms, durations, and intensities is not worth the injuries. The better way is to walk with a preference for duration and intensity. All things considered, a long brisk walk beats a slow jog. I suspect the editors at Canadian Running already know this.


Unpopular Strategies

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

One of the debates that I follow online is till vs. no-till. This will be boring to the average reader, but it is a hot topic among gardeners. I am in the no-till camp, but that is not the topic of this blog post. I noticed that in this discussion no one mentions my favorite garden strategy which is lasagna gardening. They will mention other no-till strategies, but lasagna gardening is not one of them. Why is this? I have come to the conclusion that culture is the culprit.

I have mentioned before how most of my strategies tend to not be popular strategies. I don't choose these strategies because of their unpopularity, but I do see that unpopularity as a signpost now. Generally, my strategies are unpopular, yet they will possess a small but devoted following. This devotion comes from the fact that it works. Beyond that, no one else is buying it. Yet, they will subscribe to failing or difficult strategies in droves. You would figure that failure and defeat would make these bad strategies unpopular, but they don't. What is short circuiting the reasoning of the herd? It is the culture.

Culture overrides reason. People will ignore their own common sense and go with the popular option. The best example I can give on this is the plant based diet. The research on this is overwhelming, and you know it in your gut. Eating vegetables is good for you. Eating meat is not. Yet, the vegan diet is DOA and has been DOA for decades. I have even convinced a few people to try it, and they experienced the positive effects in as little as three days. They all gave up to go back to suffering and eating crap. Invariably, they turn to some low carb meat diet and experience explosive diarrhea followed by constipation. They will endure all of that to do what everyone knows is stupid. Why?

The Atkins diet was popular. Then, people turned to the Paleo diet which was a caveman redressing of Atkins. Then, the Keto diet became the hot thing which was simply another version of the same diet. Now, the Carnivore diet is becoming the new thing. All of this low carb nonsense is driven by culture and not common sense. Meanwhile, vegan restaurants and products go out of business left and right. The surest path to bankruptcy is to open a vegan eatery.

I wish bacon was healthy, but it isn't. It's just tasty. Spaghetti is also tasty, but these low carbers will ditch pasta without hesitation. It isn't about flavor but culture. I know because the vegan diet has made me the most antisocial person I know because I can't share a meal with someone. This is why I prefer to have a coffee with someone at Dunkin' Donuts.

I am adept at ignoring the culture and the rest of the herd when it comes to these things. I can't pinpoint when this began with me. I just remember a time in high school when I didn't care to fit in anymore. I stopped caring what other people thought about me. After a lifetime of this apathy, I feel as if I live in a culture of idiots. There is a strength in this but also a danger.

The first danger is that you may think that every maverick is on the right path. I don't think that at all. Our society has plenty of mavericks, but they represent a different flavor of idiot.

The second danger is that you think you are on the right path because you are a maverick. I don't think this whatsoever. I can ignore the herd but defying the herd requires reason not chutzpah. Oftentimes, the herd is exactly right. You just need to know when the herd is wrong, so you can take a different path.

The third danger is exchanging one herd for another. People who buck the majority will try and find what they lost in a minority of likeminded people. This is when the tests for "purity" come out. I learn to ignore this idiocy as well.

My advice is to focus on your strategy. You get knocked off strategy when you lose your confidence. This usually comes as the herd mocks you. They may or may not catch on to what you're doing. It shouldn't matter. 2 + 2 = 4 despite what the herd may think.


Fighters and Quitters

Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.

The conventional wisdom divides the world into winners and losers. That dichotomy has never agreed with me, but I have always been at a loss to replace it with something better. Then, it hit me one day. There are no winners and losers. There are only fighters and quitters.

The day it hit me came when the property manager at our apartment complex made a comment about my humble efforts to walk the path around the courtyard after my brain injury. She told my wife that I was a "fighter." I didn't feel like a fighter at the time. I felt like a tragic loser. I had to make the choice between "try" and "wait to die." So, I chose to try. That choice and the subsequent efforts made me a fighter instead of a quitter.

That episode showed to me the ridiculous nature of the winner vs. loser dichotomy. Being a winner or a loser is what the world says about you. Anyone can be a winner. Most everyone is a loser. Being a fighter is when you choose to stay in the struggle of life instead of giving up. Fighters become indifferent to winning and losing. What matters most is not quitting.

I divide the world into fighters and quitters. A fighter is the paraplegic who decides that the wheelchair is not the end of his life. The quitter is the young man who retreats to his parents' basement to escape the cruelty of the world. Circumstances are not what make you a fighter or a quitter. Your decisions are what make you fighter or a quitter.

Fathers push their sons to become winners, but this backfires on them spectacularly. The sons experience failure early and opt to quit instead of fight. The blowhard dad calls his son a loser, and the son agrees with him. The rest is tragic.

The better way is for fathers to teach their sons to be fighters instead of quitters. You carry on in the face of defeat and failure. Those setbacks are just an inescapable part of life. Those things defy you, but they don't define you.

I refuse to call someone a loser. But I will call that person a quitter. I see a generation of quitters today. The world has tainted the well with that winner/loser poison turning so many into quitters. At any moment, they can turn into fighters. They simply have to will it.

I don't know when I became a fighter. My life has been a real disaster, and I have wanted to give up more times than I can count. I haven't given up. I have faith in God who strengthens me. That is ultimately why I am a fighter. My only requirement in life is to not quit.

I don't care about winning or losing. I only care about not quitting. God will handle the winning. I choose to stay in the fight. I only have one rule to follow. Do not quit.

UPDATE: One of the great examples I can give about fighters and quitters is the movie, Rocky. My wife had never seen the movie before, so we decided to watch it for our movie night. She liked the movie until the ending where Rocky loses. She wanted him to win. That was the feel good ending, but that ending is too easy and not realistic. Was Rocky a loser at the end of the fight? Yes, but we don't care. Rocky was a loser, but he was a fighter. He refused to quit. He wanted to go the distance, and he did.

Most of the time, winning and losing is not up to us. It is not in our power to win. The only things truly in our power are fighting and quitting. When you fight, you may not win. When you quit, you always lose.


Sensibility and the Information Buffet

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

There has always been a wealth of information. We like to think that our age somehow developed a surplus of information, but we didn't. A newsstand from 1953 contained more information than you could read in a year. The reason no one attempted it is because you had to pay money for that information. As for people staring into their smartphones, they were doing the same thing back in the day with their newspapers, magazines, and paperback novels. Nothing has fundamentally changed except the price of that information. You had to pay for those publications. Today, you pay for internet and cellphone access while the information is virtually limitless and free. It is a buffet, and some people attempt the all-you-can-eat challenge. This is stupid.

People tend to spend more to dine at the all-you-can-eat buffet than at a traditional restaurant thinking they will bust the establishment in the head by eating twice or three times the amount of food. The reality is that they will consume an amount only slightly larger than they normally do. If you pay three times the normal cost but only eat 1.5 times the normal amount of food, they busted you in the head. Yet, people keep lining up for those buffets. Why?

The answer to that question is obvious. People's imaginations are stronger than their observations. A classic example of this is Netflix. I used to have a Netflix membership when they sent you DVDs in the mail. I filled up my queue of movies and proceeded to watch them as they arrived. I would spend entire weekends binge watching stuff until I got sick of it. Before long, I would have a Netflix DVD collecting dust on the coffee table and paying $10 or whatever it was per month for what turned out to be a coaster. What I thought I was going to watch turned out to be way less than I imagined. I made a personal queue of what I actually wanted to watch versus what I could watch, and it was only a handful of movies. I did the math, and it was just cheaper for me to buy the 2 or 3 good movies on DVD that came out each year than pay rent on all the crap that was available on Netflix. I cancelled Netflix. The fact that it is a streaming service now only makes it worse. You are saving them the postage while paying for the higher bandwidth internet. They've got a great scam going there.

Streaming services are an entertainment buffet sort of like cable television. Many people are waking up on cable TV and cutting the cord. I know we did. We watch TV over the air on a $9 antenna. We don't do Roku or Chromecast or Prime or any of that garbage you have to buy. I don't watch much TV except as a weekend treat because the visual processing messes with my TBI. We watch old westerns and Columbo right now. Watching too much television makes me ill.

When I apply a quality test to the content, there's not much worth watching. Life is too short to waste on bad movies and television shows. The quantity is off the chain. OAB TV is not the same as the four channels we got when I was a kid with the fourth channel being PBS. Broadcast television has almost as much content as basic cable television except you don't have to pay for it. I'm not going to watch something just because it is free. That brings us to the internet.

Like the old newsstand, they upload more videos and content in a single hour on the internet than you could consume in your entire life. I find the sheer bulk of this information to be overwhelming. It becomes less overwhelming when you apply a quality filter. Just because they produce it doesn't mean you have to consume it.

I am better than most on this issue for two reasons. The first is that I do not own a smartphone. The second is that I do not have any social media accounts. Those two things alone will allow you to get back much of your time and attention. Still, I developed a bad habit that goes back almost two decades. I was maintaining a digital hoard with my feed reader.

I was a fan of the Google Reader when it first appeared and think it was one of the greatest services they ever offered. The Google folks discovered that the Reader was hurting their other ventures like Google+. The fact is that a feed reader allows you to choose what you want to see versus what they want you to see. Regardless, they killed the Reader, and I went to Feedly. They were generous with their service until they cut the the number of feeds you could have on the free version of their application and on the paid version. So, I looked at Inoreader and paid for an unlimited subscription which I abused.

I never looked at the vast majority of my feed subscriptions which were in the thousands. I was OK because following the feed was enough to make me think I was actually reading the content. I was deluding myself with this nonsense. I was at the information buffet but only eating the same few dishes I actually liked. It hit me that this behavior was foolish, but I didn't know what to do except keep paying the subscription on what amounted to a digital storage space for content I was never going to consume. I was a shameful information hoarder.

It took me a couple of days of thinking to figure out what to do about my problem. The solution I reached was to delete all of those feeds and start over with a 150 feed limit which is how many you can have on Inoreader on the free level. I added back from memory the feeds I actually enjoyed, and it was less than 100. I had repeated the Netflix episode except with the feed reader.

I have likely lost the Gentle Reader at this stage of my personal tale. But if you made it this far, here is the payoff. If you are someone who is struggling with information overwhelm, I have two tools from the sensibility toolbox that can help you.

1. Go with quality over quantity.

You know what you like and what is valuable. If you apply a quality filter to your content, you will find that quality is in short supply. We force feed ourselves crap when it is cheap and plentiful, and we purge when get sick from it.

2. Go with the actual over the imagined.

My feed reader has stats on what I read, and what I actually read isn't that much. We want the options even though we are never going to use them. This embracing of the actual over the imagined requires a great deal of honesty and self-awareness.

This brings us to a concept made famous by Tim Ferriss--the low information diet. This is the practice of selective ignorance. Basically, you cut out everything for a week to break the information addiction. I don't know what you do after this information fast. I just know the correct path lies between knowing nothing and knowing everything. Ferriss is an extremist on things, so he gets credit for experimenting and thinking outside of the box.

I believe in having a sensible information diet. Like with food, you want higher quality and lower quantity. You want to avoid the extremes of starvation and gluttony. Somewhere between those extremes is the right amount of information you should consume on a regular basis.


Unpopular Opinions 6

Nothing is more conductive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.

Opinions can cost you friendships and relationships. If someone cuts it off with you because of a differing opinion, that person wasn't worth having in your life. Virtually everyone in my life disagrees with me on something that doesn't really matter. The irony is those differences have made me change my mind on some things. That's the appeal of reading unpopular opinions. They make us reconsider things even if we may not change our minds in the end.

1. Biltmore is overrated.

I visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, one time. One time was enough. I wasn't impressed by Vanderbilt's self-indulgence. The natural beauty of the place is stunning. The house is kinda gross. It is Gilded Age decadence. The Biltmore is a European palace built on American soil.

A better place to visit in Asheville is the Saint Lawrence Basilica. A guy that worked on the Biltmore worked on that church. It is amazing.

2. Pickleball and walking sports are stupid invitations to injury.

Pickleball is very popular especially for people over 50. It is a dumbed down and less strenuous version of tennis. Unfortunately, it isn't dumbed down enough as those old people have the most injuries from the sport. Across the pond, they have walking football which is soccer for people too old to run. I don't know what the injury rate is for that sport. I hear there is also walking basketball, rugby, cricket, etc.

When it comes to these sports, old people need to grow up. Older folks such as myself want to get in shape, but your health insurer would prefer it to not be pickleball. There is nothing healthy about getting an injury. This is why walking is the better way to go. Anything involving lateral movements, jumping, sprinting, etc. are invitations to injury. I know because young professional athletes get injured doing this stuff. Why do this at 50+?

3. Buffs are terrible apparel.

Buffs are neck gaiters, but they also get worn as covid face masks and headwear. I hate the things. I use a bandanna when I get sweaty.

The buff feels like you're getting choked when worn on the neck. It feels like a vise on your head leading to splitting headaches. As a mask, I don't believe in masks period. But if I did, it wouldn't be a buff.

I think dirty hippies like buffs because it keeps their long hair out of their faces. I recommend getting a haircut.

4. When it comes to creativity. stay in your lane.

Rock stars tend to be terrible actors and painters. Actors tend to be terrible rock stars. But when you're famous, people will indulge your vanity and lack of self-awareness. The public won't. It's rare to be good at one creative endeavor much less two or three. I think people should find out what they're good at and stick to that.

For me, I know that I am good at writing non-fiction. I am no good at writing fiction. I can analyze a good story, but I can't write a good story. So, I am going to stick to the non-fiction lane and leave the fiction lane for better writers than me. As for music, I play the kazoo. As for the visual arts, I draw doodles. Those are good for a laugh.

5. Joe Rogan is a bad influence and a poor example of manhood.

I don't know why Rogan is so popular, but I find it has more to do with the guests than with him. So much stupidity comes out of Rogan's mouth that I am unable to listen to him except when I need a bad example for illustration purposes. Rogan is the epitome of everything bad about bro culture. The only thing I like that he does is that he shaves his melon. He can keep the flaming joint and the jiu-jitsu to himself.

6. Men shouldn't wear bracelets or ear rings.

Jewelry on a man is effeminate. I am OK with a wedding band and necklaces with crucifixes and religious medals worn under the shirt. A medic alert bracelet is better worn as a necklace outside of the shirt because it is essentially the civilian equivalent of a dog tag. I think a wrist watch is as close as a man should get to wearing a bracelet. Otherwise, all of this decorative jewelry on a man is ridiculous and unmanly.

7. Paracord bracelets are stupid.

This is a corollary to #6. Men like to buy or make these ridiculous excuses to wear a bracelet. They claim they need the paracord for "survival." Whatever. Instead of making a fancy braided bracelet out of some string you are never going to use, just put some in your pocket. The problem is solved without going to Boy Scout school to tie a stupid craft project.

8. Harbor Freight sells good stuff.

Dudes love to bash on Harbor Freight as cheap Chinese junk. What they overlook is the stuff at Lowe's and Home Depot is expensive Chinese junk. I buy a lot of Harbor Freight tools and supplies especially mechanics gloves. I wear out those gloves. I would rather spend $5 for those gloves than $25 for a similar pair that doesn't last any longer.

9. I'm not a fan of straws.

There is much debate about plastic straws, but I negate the debate by drinking straight from the cup or glass. People like straws because they let you drink in the car while driving. I think eating and drinking behind the wheel is distracting and dangerous. It is a symptom of the fast food lifestyle. I prefer the slow food lifestyle.

I am for anything that reduces waste and pollution. This is not environmentalism but conservationism which is an idea that I want to bring back. This is why a right winger like me drinks from a Klean Kanteen. Plastic bottles pollute our water and spaces. The same applies to drinking straws.

10. Curtains are better than blinds.

Blinds are dirty and difficult to clean. They disintegrate in sunlight becoming brittle. When they break, they are useless. They are expensive to replace.

Curtains do the same job as blinds except you can wash them in the washing machine. They last forever. The heavier versions block out sunlight better than blinds.

That's it for the sixth edition of Unpopular Opinions. Hopefully, this did not cost me any friendships and relationships. That would be a real shame. My other hope is that it may have changed some minds.