Charlie's Blog: June 2023


Why People Fail

Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your ears.

People think they fail because they lack motivation, discipline, virtue, intelligence, and other things relating to their character. This is not true. This sort of stuff sells a lot of motivational pep talk material meant to boost confidence and inspire people and make money for the talker. Yet, the people who consume this nonsense still fail. Why?

People don't fail because they lack discipline and virtue and motivation. They fail because they are overwhelmed. That's it. If you think about it, you will find this to be correct. In the fog of complexity and confusion, people surrender. They give up. Great leaders, soldiers, and fighters know this which is why they endeavor to create confusion in the minds of their enemies. They are also helped in this by their enemies who allow their thoughts to go wild. When the enemy is overwhelmed in his own mind, he will be defeated.

The key to avoiding failure is to avoid being overwhelmed. The key to avoid being overwhelmed is to embrace simplicity. You embrace simplicity by knowing what to eliminate and what to ignore. If that seems overwhelming to you, it shouldn't be.

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones faces off against what appears to be a very skilled man with a sword. Jones pulls his pistol from his holster and shoots the man dead. It is a famous scene, and people love it. What we must focus on is the moment before Indy pulls the gun. Were you scared? Were you wondering what Indy was going to do? That is overwhelm. For a brief moment, our hero was defeated. Did he use cunning, daring, and motivation to overcome the bad guy? No, he just shot the guy. Indy did not overthink the situation. In fact, you could say Indy was a bit of a coward for not giving the swordsman a fair fight. Whatever.

People fail when they think an overwhelming situation requires an overwhelming solution. It doesn't. If you fight the enemy on his terms, he will win every single time. If you fight the enemy on your terms, you will win every single time. Every battle is a struggle to force you to fight on the enemy's terms. This is why every battle is a battle for your mind.

This concept I have just shared with you is the fundamental essence of Sun Tzu's Art of War. Here is a sample of quotations from that great mind:

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

I can go on and on with these quotations. They seem mysterious and inscrutable with its ancient Chinese wisdom. The mystery is erased when you grasp that they all say the same thing. You win when you create confusion in your enemy and eliminate confusion in yourself. That's it.

For the vast majority of us, we have no enemy to fight except ourselves. This makes our task much simpler. You don't need to create confusion in your enemy. You just need to eliminate confusion in yourself. When you do this, you will no longer feel or be overwhelmed.

Simplicity is the tool for success. This is because simplicity eradicates confusion and overwhelm. You don't need sophisticated solutions because these will only compound the problem. You will fail. Put down the sword. Pull out the gun.

Some people are never going to get this. No matter how simply you explain it, it eludes their grasp. They are trapped in a mental prison with no clue that they are holding the key to their escape.

I once tutored a fellow for an English class for college. He was failing the class because he could not write well. I taught him to write in simple declarative sentences. They sounded like something from Dick and Jane. His instructor loved it and read his papers aloud in class. She could not believe the transformation in his writing. His classmates took to calling him "Hemingway" after the writer known for his spartan prose. Yet, he succumbed to his own lack of confidence and returned to trying to sound like a genius in his papers. He was failing again. Fortunately for him, the Fs and the As averaged out to a C which was all he needed to make for his pharmacy degree.

This guy was never going to get it. He could not embrace the simple answer I gave him. He returned to being overwhelmed and confused. This is why he failed. If you allow yourself to be overwhelmed and confused, you will fail, too.

Simplify your life. Simplify your thoughts. Simplify your strategies. Simplify your mind. In that simplicity, you will find success. Simplicity is the antidote to overwhelm. Simplicity is the antidote to failure.

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.


Charlie's Grand Unifying Theory

 Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Physics has this thing called the Grand Unifying Theory which is a hypothesis that all the forces of the universe could be explained in a single theory that unifies those forces. So far, the GUT has eluded them. But I like the concept as a joke name for my blue collar strategies. What I noticed in these strategies of mine were certain common elements. They are so common that I started using them as signposts that I was on the correct path. Here are those common elements.

1. Simplicity.

I am fond of comparing checkers to chess. Chess is a complex game. Checkers is a simple game. I am also fond of saying that it is better to win at checkers than to lose at chess. In other words, the simpler strategy is better than the complex strategy.

There is a tenacious belief that the complex is better than the simple. This belief comes from a desire to have a feeling of confidence. People prefer being Goliath with his sword and shield than being David with his sling and stones. When you're a David, you have the quality of unintimidation. This is the ability to ignore the hype and noise and focus on the strategy. This comes from a place of humility. It means grasping on what you know as opposed to what you feel.

Strategies that adhere to my Grand Unifying Theory are simple strategies. This is their strength. They work. That's all that matters.

2. Economy.

When your strategy is simple, it is also economical. You don't waste money, time, or energy on the unnecessary. People who have lots of time, money, and energy to waste prefer those strategies that utilize those resources. Everything becomes a war of attrition as they burn through those resources.

When you have limited resources, you have to spend those resources as wisely as possible. The simple strategies of the GUT are keen on conservation of time, money, and energy. You become a sniper with those resources instead of a maniac with a machine gun.

3. Reliability.

The strategies of the Grand Unifying Theory are reliable and predictable. You are going to get the same results again and again. Others will get the same results following the same strategy. Any strategy that depends on chance and luck for the outcome are not reliable or repeatable. This is why the Grand Unifying Theory opposes luck.

4. Opposition.

The last part of the Grand Unifying Theory is hatred from others. I am not sure why this is the case, but those seeking confidence love to throw shade on Grand Unifying Theory strategies. This is so common that I have learned to look for this irrational hatred to point me in the right direction. Sometimes, people will adopt one of my strategies, and then sabotage them on purpose in order to reject them later. This is also part of that opposition.

The Importance of Execution

A strategy only works when you have execution. The Grand Unifying Theory makes execution more achievable, but it does not make execution dispensable. I am fond of saying that it works if you work. The Grand Unifying Theory fails when people abandon the strategy. This is why I have learned to distinguish between failures of strategy and failures of execution. Strategic errors force you to go back to the drawing board to think about a new strategy. Failures of execution force you back to the strategy you ignored.

 Examples of the Grand Unifying Theory in My Life

1. Hard work + simple living.

I define financial success as not living paycheck to paycheck. I know people with modest incomes who live stress free lives because they have savings. I also know people who make six figure incomes who are one missed paycheck away from financial disaster. I wonder how that is possible, but you should never underestimate the capacity of people to blow money. At the end of the day, it's not how much you make. It's how much you save.

I haven't been paycheck to paycheck since my twenties. Somewhere, I decided that I was going to work as much as I could and only buy what I needed. Without much more thought than that, I noticed money accumulating in my checking account as I earned more than I spent. Like many others, I learned that the secret to money is modesty and frugality.

This blue collar financial strategy is not popular whatsoever. It never occurs to people to spend less. They are always gunning to earn more. And they turn to financial advisors for tricks and gimmicks for help. They think being good with money is a magic power that only professionals understand.

2. Krav Maga.

I spent some time studying martial arts with a friend who was into various styles. I began to study those styles until I noticed that I would become frozen in sparring because I could not decide what to do. I had too many options, and I would spend more time thinking instead of reacting. I found this frustrating. So, I opted for the simpler and more brutally effective self defense system known as Krav Maga. I have been much happier.

People hate Krav Maga with a passion. This hatred seems to be the only thing that unites these various other schools. The one school with the most hatred for Krav Maga is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Now, BJJ is good for fighting in the MMA, but I am not an MMA fighter. I am just a regular person who needs to get out of a bad situation as effectively as possible. I don't think taking an assailant to the ground in a filthy parking lot and getting him in a rear naked choke is going to do it for me. I prefer to rake his eyeballs with my fingernails and run away. I don't need submission. I need survival.

3. Lasagna gardening.

Gardening can be intimidating because there's a lot to know and learn. I wasn't sure how to proceed and had one false start. Then, I discovered Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. I immediately recognized in it my Grand Unifying Theory. Her system of gardening is easier than tilling and is very effective. It is now the way I garden, and I am happy with the results. I call it the "Krav Maga of Gardening."

Lasagna gardening is so easy that I don't understand why everyone isn't doing it. It takes awhile to build up the beds, but they become a permanent thing of production as you add elements each year. The number one criticism of lasagna gardening is that it is a lazy way to garden. That sounds like a selling point to me.

4. CB Radio.

When I looked into prepper communications, I went immediately to CB radio. This is because we had CB radios when I was a kid. I didn't know what a ham radio was back then and GMRS didn't exist. As I studied up on it, I concluded that CB covered my needs at a low cost. There was no need for me to buy thousand dollar ham radio receivers. I just need to talk to my neighbors, truckers on the highway, and whoever I like when the skip is rolling. CB radio is the most loved and hated radio service. Yet, it endures as a simple, economical, and effective means of communication that has a long track record. I know that I will be able to talk to my people when the cellphones stop working.

5. Walking.

I came to walking for fitness late in life. I started walking in physical therapy to rehab from my accident. I did some study on walking for brain recovery, and I hit a motherlode of studies and information on its beneficial effects on the brain, the heart, the muscles, joints, mental health, and on and on. I felt like a fool for not discovering it earlier. It is cheap and effective. It is also hated. I know that is hard to believe, but I heard a well known radio host give his partner a lot of insults over walking on the treadmill at the gym. He said that only people over 65 should walk for fitness. Everyone else needs to be running. He sounded like a real douchebag. His name is Clay Travis.

These are just some examples. I have others I can cite from my own life or from other fields. All of these examples are simple, cheap, reliable, and hated. The only time they fail is when a crisis of confidence hits forcing an abandonment of the strategy. I don't abandon my strategies, but it always happens to other people that try them after my suggestion. That brings me to my greatest story about the Grand Unifying Theory--the Granny Shot.

The Granny Shot in Basketball

The granny shot is an underarm technique for making a free throw in basketball. It is the most effective way to make a free throw. Rick Barry used the technique to achieve a 90% free throw shooting percentage, a league record. Naturally, you would think everyone would shoot this way. But as Barry explained, the granny shot makes you look like a sissy. Most guys can't handle this.

Wilt Chamberlain was a terrible free throw shooter. He tried the granny shot and improved greatly. But he would abandon what worked to go back to lousy free throw shooting. He was too embarrassed to do the sissy shooting. Rick Barry didn't care because they can't make fun of you if you make it. That mindset is what you need with a strategy like that.

I love the story of the granny shot because it is the epitome of the Grand Unifying Theory in action. It works consistently. It is simple. Yet, it is hated and abandoned because of the confidence thing. I always recall this story when it comes to my blue collar strategies. I have learned that the one skill you really need to execute on these things is a willingness to ignore the herd and the detractors.

Whenever I go into something new, I try and find the Grand Unifying Theory. Sometimes, I have to create my own strategy from scratch using the GUT as a guideline. This is what I did with my financial strategy. I have also done this with my personal rule of life for spiritual practices and my time management system. But, most of the time, I adopt what is already there. I think the Fly Lady system for housecleaning might be a GUT strategy. My wife is using it and loves it.

What I don't believe in is "best" or "only." What I believe in is what is best for me. I would use the granny shot every single time. Others may choose to do the overhand shot. I don't care. I just choose the best strategies for me, and I stick with them. I am my own measuring rod for success or failure. That internal guide is what directs me in all that I do. I don't have a name for it except "unintimidation." I don't care what others are saying or doing. I just put my head down and execute on my strategy.

I also don't subscribe to old school strategies simply because they are old. Old timers bring out the tractor and the tiller when it comes to gardening. Old timers like to box for self-defense. I kind of admire them for this reluctance to change except their strategies fail at some point. When you're too arthritic to till, you hit this failure point. When someone pulls a knife on you in the street, boxing will not save you.

I also don't subscribe to new school strategies simply because they are new. Hydroponic gardening does not interest me. Cryptocurrency trading is not my thing. I don't understand these new things enough to make informed comments about them. When I don't understand it, I avoid it.

The GUT tends to fall somewhere between the old school and the new school. I know because most of my opposition comes from either crusty old know-it-alls or young punk know-it-alls. The one thing they share in common is pride and false confidence. The hardest thing to bear is when they succeed with a different strategy. It makes you wonder what you're doing wrong.

I remind myself that I am doing what works best for me. Michael Jordan didn't use the granny shot. I am not Michael Jordan. And that is why you need humility. This is why David preferred his sling to a sword and shield. He didn't know how to fight with a sword. He only knew how to sling rocks with deadly accuracy. Stick with your strategy that works for you.


This is my Grand Unifying Theory. It goes by other names. I call it the Blue Collar Theory and Charlie's Big Idea. I have honed it and adjusted it over the years. Sometimes, I thought I found a GUT strategy only to change my mind later. I am also looking for GUT strategies in new areas. I like simple strategies that work.

Finally, why do people reject my GUT strategies? I find it boils down to pride. Humility is the ultimate GUT strategy. When you sacrifice your ego, you can go on to do amazing and awesome things.


Unpopular Opinions

My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right.

One of my favorite reddit boards is Unpopular Opinion. I don't post on the board or even have an account on reddit. I prefer to follow it in my feed reader. But I wish I could post on it. I don't do this because reddit is awful for deleting posts. So, I am going to post my unpopular opinions here at the C-Blog. If you disagree with these opinions, I do not care.

1. Put your lifestyle first.

This sentence is open to misinterpretation as people have visions of sports cars and motorboats. In actuality, I recommend that people decide how they want to live before making decisions on jobs, careers, living locations, and relationships. For instance, if you are someone who refuses to work on Sundays out of respect for the Lord, you shouldn't take a job that requires that. If you are someone who likes being home, you shouldn't take a job requiring extensive travel. If you hate shoveling snow, you shouldn't live in the Northeast. If you want to live large, then you need to pursue a profession that pays well. If you want to live like a bachelor, don't get married.

I am value neutral on these things. My lifestyle is different from others, and it takes all kinds to make the world go round. But what I think is universal is a conflict between your lifestyle and your situation only forces you to choose later in favor of the lifestyle. It would be better to make these choices at the beginning and save yourself the conflicts.

2. Mustaches and goatees look creepy.

I am not a facial hair guy. If you see me with a beard, it was because I was too lazy to shave. I never grow facial hair on purpose.

I am OK with a full beard. I don't care for mustaches or goatees. I grew a goatee for five minutes sometime back in the 90s but shaved it off after concluding that I looked like a prison convict. As for mustaches, I call them "pornstaches" and "molestaches." They are the facial hair for creeps and dictators.

3. Shorts on men look childish.

I ditched all of my shorts ten years ago as of this writing. I keep a ratty pair of cotton shorts from those days as sleepwear. When that pair gets decluttered, it won't be replaced.

I had a job that required pants. But it was Florida, so they decided to relax the pants rule to recruit talent. I kept my pants and eschewed the shorts. The rest of the guys looked funny to me in their shorts especially the ones with pasty white legs. On another job, our competitor went with shorts while we stayed with pants. We looked professional. They looked like children.

What do I do when it is hot? I just pull the pant legs up when I sit down and get a cool off. It feels nice. Otherwise, I feel underdressed in a pair of shorts.

4. Jeeps are stupid.

I am fine with Jeep pickups and regular SUVs. I just despise the Army style Jeeps like the Rubicon. They drive terribly on the road. They are freezing in the winter. You can't haul anything in a Jeep without a trailer. They are uncomfortable to ride in. And most Jeep owners never leave the pavement. All of the pluses of a Jeep can be had in a four wheel drive pickup truck. I think Jeep owners buy these things out of vanity, and I think they are douchebags. Don't buy a Jeep. Buy a pickup truck.

5. Backwards baseball caps are dumb and annoying.

I have been known to turn my cap backwards, but it is always when I am doing something requiring 360 degree peripheral vision like driving a forklift. Otherwise, the visor of the cap is in the forward position where it belongs. I never wear it backwards as a fashion statement. People who do this are idiots, but I appreciate them sending out the warning. My favorite thing to laugh at is when someone is wearing a cap backwards and squints or uses their hand to shield their eyes from the sun. Turn the hat around, dummy!

6. Smoking is not that big of a deal.

I am not a smoker, and I do not encourage smoking especially for kids. But I have to admit that smoking shaves off the worst 10-20 years of your life. The fact that Pope Benedict XVI lived into his nineties as a smoker is not something the Surgeon General wants out there. And when someone has some other terminal condition like a brain tumor, I think it is cruel to deprive them of a smoke.

Smoking is just annoying to us that don't smoke. That's the primary reason it gets demonized so much. Having to breathe someone else's air pollution is not fun. I am satisfied with pushing them to the smoker's ghettos outside of buildings where they have to puff away in the rain and the cold. If the cancer doesn't get you, the pneumonia will. Otherwise, enjoy that cigarette. Nobody lives forever.

7. Scrunchies and body washes are a waste of money.

I admit that I used a scrunchy for years. Then, someone pointed out that the body wash was 90% water. I turned back the dial on my memory bank to the time when I used a washcloth and bar soap for a fraction of the cost. I made the switch back and have been just as clean as with the body wash. Why did I ever go for the body wash? I blame marketing.

8. Taco Bell is better than any Mexican restaurant.

I have eaten at many Mexican restaurants, and I am going to say it. I'd rather eat Taco Bell. Taco Bell tastes better and costs less. And, you don't have to tip anyone. Plus, I can order vegan fare at Taco Bell with confidence. At the Mexican restaurant, you are getting the lard refried beans whether you want them or not. When you ask about the lard, you get the no speaka da English! I rarely eat out, but Taco Bell is my top choice when I do.

9. Ties are terrible.

I am down with the trend of wearing a suit or a sport coat without a tie. I think Mark Harmon made that look cool on NCIS. I'll wear a tie when it is required like for a funeral. Otherwise, I will do without one. I don't care to look dapper. As for bow ties, I really despise those. Tucker Carlson used to wear a bow tie. He ditched that awful neckwear, and his life got way better after that.

10. You should never marry more than once.

A long time ago, I decided that I was going to be a one-and-done on the marriage thing. I was not a Roman Catholic then like I am now, so that mindset and decision saved me from multiple bad decisions. I walked away from every woman I dated until I met the one I could not walk away from. If the Lord ever takes her away from me, I will not remarry but will live as a monk for the rest of my days. I will be grateful for what I had.

The vast majority of women today are not worth marrying. I do not believe in fornication or cohabitation. Either you are married with all of the joys and responsibilities that come with that, or you are single and celibate with the freedom that comes with that. I also do not recommend marrying a divorcee. She's already burned one sucker. She will burn you, too. Plus, that relationship is adultery in the eyes of the Lord.

That's it for unpopular opinions. There will be another round in a future post. You may disagree with what I have written here and dislike what I have written. I don't care. My opinion is worth the same as yours which isn't much.


Modes: Thrive And Survive

Just do it.

I have worn Nike shoes for most of my adult life. I am not sure why I wore Nikes because I hate the shoes and the brand. A few years ago, I made the switch to New Balance, and I have been very happy with that decision. Nike is the shoe of the professional athlete and superstar. New Balance is the shoe your dad wears. Nike represents the shoe you wear in thrive mode. New Balance represents the shoe you wear in survive mode.

Now, this post is not about shoes. It was simply inspired by a satirical commercial from SNL about Nike apparel. The spot makes fun of the aerobic fantasy selves Nike appeals to contrasted with the sedentary reality of where their gear actually gets used--the couch. The commercial nails it hard. The ridiculous part isn't the couch part but the running and boxing parts. Ultimately, the couch potato should just get some cheap Fruit of the Loom sweat pants from Walmart. This is what I do. I cut the elastic ankle parts off to make "Ninja pants" that I wear as pajamas. They are very comfortable and last longer than those flannel pajama bottoms. But I digress.

For as long I remember, I have been caught between two modes of existence. The first mode is survive mode. This is what you do to make life possible. Basically, you work a job and pay the bills. Leisure is mostly watching a show or a movie on television. That's all the money and energy you can afford.

The second mode is thrive mode. This is the fantasy self you create in your mind where you do all the great things you imagine doing in your life. This is not working a job but having a career that fulfills you. This is being a bestselling author, speaking seven languages, and climbing Everest. This is becoming an Ironman triathlete, an entrepreneur, a successful investor, and spending leisure time traveling and seeing the world. I have never been in thrive mode. I realize that I will never be in thrive mode. Thrive mode is just some fantasy garbage. The rest of my days will be spent in survive mode.

I don't have any regrets about this capitulation to reality. I like reality. I like being sensible and opting for a quiet life. I take life one day at a time now. I have crucified my fantasy self. It is one of the best decisions I ever made in life. I have stopped becoming and opted for just being.

My accident forced this decision for me. It took getting my brains smashed up for me to get some sense in my head. Instead of pursuing my fantasy self, I am trying to go back to my former self. It is a long and difficult journey. I never knew that trying to be normal could be so hard.

Every day, I write down a modest list of chores and errands that I need to do. My old self would have done them in little time. It takes me all day, and I have never done everything on that list. On my report card for each day, I am a D-. On a good day, I am a D+. Today, I made an F. I didn't have the energy to get anything done.

I have put my dreams to sleep. This would be a tragedy except I was never going to live those dreams. I am in survive mode because I am a survivor. I take solace in the true tale of Ernest Shackleton's failure to cross the Antarctic by land as his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in ice. They went from thrive mode to survive mode in one of the greatest adventures of exploration history. Shackleton was mostly a failure in life, but his survival story stands as his most epic achievement. He got himself and his men out of an awful mess. Shackleton was a survivor.

Thrive mode serves vanity and ego. Survive mode is about humility. Most of us will be nothing in life. That's a good place to be. Pride is what gets you stuck in the ice at the bottom of the world. Humility is what gets you out.

I have never made it to thrive mode in my life. I never put the miles on those Nikes. The irony is that I put the miles on those New Balance sneakers. I walk like a toddler, but I walk. And when I don't walk, I go easy on myself. I remind myself that surviving is done one day at a time. We try again tomorrow.


Checkers Is Better Than Chess

...where the pieces have different and bizarre motions, with various and variable values, what is only complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is profound. The attention is here called powerfully into play. If it flag for an instant, an oversight is committed, resulting in injury or defeat. The possible moves being not only manifold but involute, the chances of such oversights are multiplied; and in nine cases out of ten it is the more concentrative rather than the more acute player who conquers.

Chess is a complex game. Checkers is a simple game. I love checkers. I hate chess. I think checkers is better than chess.

Chess players like to throw shade on checkers, and this is understandable. I do not like tic-tac-toe because it is an easy game that ends in a draw for everyone over the age of seven. But checkers is not tic-tac-toe. You don't see old men playing tic-tac-toe down at the general store. Checkers is a satisfying strategy game and deserving of respect.

The difference between checkers and chess is the same as the difference between boxing and kung fu. Boxing is simple compared to kung fu. But this doesn't mean that boxing is easy or that kung fu is superior because of its complexity. The reality is that simplicity is superior to complexity. If you've ever watched a boxer clobber a martial artist, you will understand the superiority of simplicity. The martial artist attempts to learn many complex moves while the boxer learns a few simple moves that he hones to physical perfection.

With chess, the same principle applies that is at work in martial arts. The chess player believes in his intellectual superiority because he knows and memorizes more moves than his opponent. The checkers player learns not to make mistakes. That is a key difference between the two games.

When a chess player looks at his board, he has to imagine many moves ahead while also anticipating the moves of his opponent. When a checkers player looks at his board, he analyzes to make sure he makes no mistakes. This relentless dedication to analysis leads him to pound away at his opponent. There is no sudden death in checkers like in chess with its checkmate.

After my traumatic brain injury, I was told that games were a good way to rehabilitate the cognitive deficits sustained from my injuries. I picked up a Rubik's Cube to try and solve until it hit me that I could never solve the thing before my accident. The same thing applied to chess. I was always horrible at chess. So, I turned to checkers. I find checkers to be a difficult game as well, but I am better at checkers than I am at chess. I have also taken to other simpler games. I like Connect 4. I like word searches, but I hate crossword puzzles. I can do sudoku on the easy levels but give up on the hard levels. As for the Rubik's Cube, I decided that I prefer doing the little golf tee game that they have at Cracker Barrel.

I have wondered why I prefer these simpler games to the more complicated games, and it comes down to one simple factor. These simpler games demand attention to not making mistakes or overlooking things. This is precisely the cognitive issue that I struggle with. I once tried to make coffee except I forgot to put water in the empty pot. I was cooking an empty pot on the stove. I had everything else for the coffee except the most fundamental ingredient which is the water.

These things didn't happen to me before my accident. Now, they happen more often than I care to admit. For someone with my condition, complexity can only create disaster. Performing amazing feats means nothing when you make mistakes. The most complex calculus fails when you make a simple mistake in your arithmetic.

With chess, there are no mistakes. The complexity of the game gives you many options to overcome your errors. With checkers, mistakes are catastrophic. Each game of checkers demands that you hone your game to perfection. In this, you find that the greatest skill is not being a genius but not making mistakes. The most important thing in life itself is not winning but not losing. Checkers teaches you this important lesson. This is why checkers is better than chess.

The fundamental flaw in all my simple games is they tend to become boring and repetitive like that game of tic-tac-toe I mentioned. There comes a moment when the repetition makes you stop paying attention. That is when you make your mistake and lose. Since this is my problem, I force myself to play the simple games over and over again. Computers have never played a perfect game of chess, but they have solved the game of checkers. This might make checkers seem like a deficient game when compared to chess, but it only highlights my point. You win at checkers by approaching perfection. You win at chess by being more creative in your play.

Checkers is better than chess. Those who disagree believe that complexity is superior to simplicity. I know better. And this also leads to one of my favorite dictums. It is better to win at checkers than to lose at chess.

UPDATE: People who know me learn that I am a fan of Columbo. I recently watched an episode called The Most Dangerous Match which has the game of chess as its theme. When the scene cuts to Columbo, he is playing a game of checkers with his veterinarian. I always thought that Columbo was a checkers player, and that episode confirmed it. Unfortunately, the episode did not pit a genius chess player against Columbo the checkers player because the murderous grandmaster was mentally unstable. Columbo has had better challenges from others.

Columbo embodies my checkers vs. chess idea. His suspects are always brilliant and arrogant. Columbo is always humble and basic.