When I die (or, rather, a little before I die, if I have time to be contemplative about my death) I plan on reflecting back on my life.
I expect that my peace with life will be based not on how much I’ve worked, or how much money I’ve made, but will be based on a mix of my relationships and experiences as informed by my theology.
My theology is simple. I ascribe to the Westminster Catechism (full disclosure, I couldn’t spell catechism if it were not for spellcheck) and believe that about 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus lived, said things of enormous significance, died, and then rose again.
You, too, have a theology. Statistically, it’s probably I don’t care if there is/isn’t a “god”, but I wish people were not so terrible to each other.
This is totally fine with me. I’m not writing about theology; I value when others lay out their assumptions about the world, because that invariably impacts their thoughts on the world.
I, too must outline my assumptions about the world, so you can evaluate them, weigh them, glean any possible value from them, then discard the rest.
My relationships are simple. I’m married, and it’s the coolest thing. I don’t know how to best sum it up, but far and away the best thing I’ve got going for me is Kristi.
The significance and importance of my marriage far outweighs other topics that I write about, like work, jobs, money, travel, side projects, programming, climbing, etc.
I don’t know much about marriage, or relationships, but please fight fair.
I am fortunate to have a strong web of friends and family. I can have a question about anything, and probably know someone that can provide an excellent answer, or if not, can help me get that answer.
This web of relationships provides incalculable support and peace of mind, and gives me room to take larger risks in other domains of life.
I used to believe that personal relationships were of little value. I was a fool. I now view them to be one of the most important parts of my life.
Programming and Software Development
My day job is to solve problems, usually by writing code (or, really, reading a ton of it, and then writing a little bit).
This reading and writing means I spend most of my day trying to do things that I don’t currently know how to do.
I’m an insatiable learning, but I also learn best by figuring out how to teach and explain what I’m doing. For example:
- I wrote this post on MySQL character encoding because I was trying to resolve a bug some of our customers reported
- Here’s another one about hard-earned lessons about large database migrations in production
- Of course, good questions lead to understanding, not just answers.
Turing School of Software and Design
This aforementioned intersection of software, and explaining, has led to a lot of teaching, but in an unusual way. I’ve worked with many people who are just beginning their journey into software development.
Most of these people are enrolled, or considering enrolling, at the Turing School of Software and Design.
I’ve made video walk-throughs for the entire “intro to Turing” prep material, and a lot of the Ruby-focused material in the first quarter of the program.
I wrote a lot while at Turing. Some of that writing is published here, some are Github gists. I built this collection so I can easily point others to the same resources.
Books and Wisdom
My own thinking is severely limited, and the best way to learn to think better is to learn from those who think clearly.
Wise men and women pour themselves into writing a good book, which you can consume for mostly-free, and a few hours of your time.
Books are doors into other people’s heads and hearts, or into entirely new worlds. I cannot state concisely all the reasons that I think you should read, but here’s a list of books I most commonly recommend to others.
Oh, and I use a Kindle. I think you should too, but whatever it takes to help you read is fine with me.
I’ve started occasionally posting extensive notes from the books I’ve read, if they meet a few criteria:
- They’re good enough to re-read (I only post notes when I’m re-reading the book)
- I want my life to be shaped by the material in the book
Here’s all the book notes I’ve done:
The human body is amazing, and adaptable. If you could push a button and easily go through life with perfect physical health, you would. Statistically, most people are not in perfect physical health, so they deal with a range of maladies.
Food is 80% of the “fitness” equation (and not the 80% that you might think)
You are what you eat. Body composition is a function of what one eats and genetics, not of exercise. Exercise is great for getting strong, but not for losing weight.
Don’t count calories. Don’t try to eat less food. That way lies insanity.
If neither calorie counting nor eating less is the answer, what is the answer?
I sure as heck don’t know, but I’d recommend reading these books (or at least my notes from them):
- Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It (my notes from the book)
- The Case Against Sugar (my notes from the book)
Basically, avoid added sugar, and things that metabolize into sugar. Eat all the fats and butter and such as you’d like.
The timing of when one eats can be interesting, too.
Intermittent fasting is pretty cool, and speeds up my mornings nicely. I’ve been “intermittent fasting” since late 2015, have had nothing but a positive experience. I could go on at length about it, but I’ll just give you the resources that got me started on the idea:
Exercise is maybe 20% of the fitness equation
There are people out there who love exercise for the sake of exercise. While sometimes I feel like I can relate, usually I cannot.
Anytime I think about exercise, I think about the time requirements compared to the benefit. Distance running immediately fails this evaluation. It’s appeal is precisely because it is miserable and difficult. The reason some people like running is because it’s miserable and difficult, and I wish the sport as a whole would admit this.
I love to be miserable and do difficult things, but on my own terms. My “suffering of choice” is almost entirely focused on rock climbing, and training for rock climbing.
There’s no magic bullet, but there’s a convenient way to get amazing exercise in just a few minutes, in the comfort of your own home.
Allow me to introduce Russian Kettlebell Swings.
If you were to do no other exercise for the rest of your life, but swing heavy kettle bells, you’d be in better shape than almost everyone you know, for only a modest time investment of 5-10 minutes, every other day.
If you’ve gotten on an exercise bike or an elliptical in the last year, please give heavy kettlebell swings a start. Start at 30 pounds, and work your way up from there.
Writing here is purely an exercise to improve my own thinking. It’ll be ugly. I’m OK with this.
thompsonjoshd at Google’s popular email service.
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