I started listening to Sun Tzu's "Art of War" on audiobook recently. I'd tried to get through it before, but the translations I picked up were a little too dry, or I wasn't in the right state of mind for it.
Listening to the narrator speak out Sun Tzu's strategy made me realize something - the fundamental judgment errors people make are independent of any particular field. Going on tilt in poker or attacking immediately with exhausted troops after it's taken three months to build siege engines - are these not the same thing? Overpursuit past objectives in war, and deviating from core investment strategies after a short term win or loss - certainly, this is a similar judgment flaw.
This particular audio version includes commentary written by other Chinese military strategists, and one story is how one commander and his officers were at a neighboring kingdom trying to convince them to make an alliance against the barbarians they were fighting. After a week of great treatment, the neighboring king grew more cold and distant to the commander.
Being perceptive, the commander guessed that the barbarians might have also sent envoys, and now the king was choosing which side to support. The commander captured and interrogated one of the palace attendants, who said yes, the barbarians did send envoys.
The commander's party was less than 30 men, it was him and some of his officers. The barbarian envoy had over 100 men. But, in the cover of night they snuck to the barbarian camp, lit it on fire, played war drums to make their forces look larger than they were, and shot down barbarians with bow and arrow and crossbows, and completely destroyed the enemy forces.
Vitamins were the sort of thing I always casually knew I should do, but I did it haphazardly in the past. Starting about three months ago, I would track whether I took a vitamin every day, and at the end of the week list how many days I remembered to take a vitamin. It's been 7 out of 7 pretty much every week since then.
The first vitamins I picked up in Seoul were chewable vitamin C tablets. I was pretty tired and run down at that point and wasn't sure why, so I changed my diet a little, started doing more walking, and started taking vitamins and my energy picked up quite a bit. I don't know how much of that was the vitamin C, but since then a couple times I've felt a little under the weather I took two of them that day, and my energy has been pretty high.
I was just about out of vitamins, so I bought some more here in Hong Kong. I got vitamin C again, and I was also looking for something for joints since I had a knee injury in the past. I was looking for some L-Glutamine which I heard was good, did a little casual research on, and it seems good:
It is also known that glutamine has various effects in reducing healing time after operations. Hospital-stay times after abdominal surgery can be reduced by providing parenteral nutrition regimes containing high amounts of glutamine to patients. Clinical trials have revealed that patients on supplementation regimes containing glutamine have improved nitrogen balances, generation of cysteinyl-leukotrienes from polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes, and improved lymphocyte recovery and intestinal permeability (in postoperative patients), in comparison to those that had no glutamine within their dietary regime, all without any side-effects. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamine#Aiding_recovery_after_surgery
Forgive me if this seems incredibly obvious to you, but it's pretty hard to eat well while traveling if you don't buy groceries. Some places like Seoul and Taipei have incredibly good convenience stores with a mix of hard boiled eggs, rice balls, sandwiches, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other hot and cold food in them. But most countries don't - so you're going to eat a lot better if you buy groceries.
I always buy the following: *Oatmeal: Very easy to cook and nutritious. If you don't have a stove or pot where you're at, just stir boiling water into it. Less water is better. If you add too much water and it's soupy, stir in more dry oats. Microwaving works too. *Canned tuna: Very nutritious and filling for a small space and weight. Healthy. Protein. *Fruit: Usually bananas if there's decent bananas around. Other fruit is okay. *Something to put tuna on: I prefer rice, second choice is good pasta, then cheap pasta or bread. *Something vegetable-ish: Soup is good, or just vegetables straightup. I like baby carrots to snack on. *If I'm lifting weights, a bunch of protein. More tuna and nuts if I don't have time or space to cook.
I'm back on Mount Davis in HK, I dig the nature up here so much. After 10 days down in Mongkok and Yau Ma Tei it's good to be out in the wide open space. Thinking of going to the middle of nowhere in the New Territories, but I do like meeting people in the city. Decisions, decisions...
I like looking at things and really thinking them through. If you do this carefully once, you can just automatically do the correct thing forever after that.
So, basic things - when taking the lid off the coffee, where do you put it?
Me? Depends if there's coffee on the bottom of the lid. If so, topdown, bottom up:
No coffee? Then bottom down on the table, keeping the top of the lid cleaner.
A lot of time I work in cafes. I don't see it as expensive coffee - I see it as cheap office space.
Sometimes I'm not thinking very well where I'm living or staying, so I change the scenery to do better work. I've gotten pretty good about not compulsively checking email, Hacker News, etc., but some days the 'net keeps calling me, and I head out to a cafe without internet. Sometimes I'm staying at a place without internet, and I had to a cafe to clear out my emails and do my business online.
Here in Hong Kong, I'm staying in a little hotel in Kowloon with internet, but I don't really dig the vibe of my room. It's too... clean, actually. Now, don't get me wrong, I like a clean room, but there's a faint air of soap and antiseptic and I see a cleaning woman mopping at least twice per day. Add that to my room being in the middle of the building with no window and I decide to head out to a Starbucks for some ambient noise, more light, and the smell of coffee.
At the cafe, there was a young girl playing. I'm not so good at telling age, but maybe 9 or 10 years old? She was of South Asian descent, maybe Indian, Pakistani, or Sri Lankan. Hard to tell an accent at that age, but sounded vaguely American. Maybe her English teacher or the international school she attends is run by an American? Or she's with her family on holiday from the States?
She was running and jumping around, dancing, while her parents were talking intently a little ways away. She kept talking to me, saying "Hello!" and looking at my computer and saying, "To - shi - ba!" She got a bunch of either straws or coffee-stirrers and was bending them into shapes, climbing onto chairs, and otherwise jumping around and having fun.
He was an American guy, fresh out of university, doing some mix of public relations and something like espionage for the Chinese government in Shanghai. Interesting guy - I'd been shooting pool by myself and he asked if I'd be up for a game. Sure.
So we chatted - he was in Shanghai to go through the Expo and talk to everyone foreign about their experiences. Being a young, white, American guy with a light East Coast accent, he blended in and was basically invisible. He was able to get an impression of what journalists really thought and people at the Expo really thought. He was getting paid decently for this and having a really fun time.
He added that he wasn't just there to make sure the publicity for the Expo was good: When he reported in that a number of people felt that workmanship setting up their display areas was shoddy and the local contractors had cheated them, Shanghai officials reached out to them, made it right, and took the contractors to task.
He seemed like a solid guy, athletic, hard working, smart, well read - kind of guy that's going to do a lot in life. I used to live in Boston, so I asked him if he followed the Red Sox or Celtics.
I still remember his answer. "No, I don't like spectator sports. Playing sports, sure. Spectator sports, no."
I've been thinking lately about how to become more prolific.
The equal-odds rule says that the average publication of any particular scientist does not have any statistically different chance of having more of an impact than any other scientist's average publication. In other words, those scientists who create publications with the most impact, also create publications with the least impact, and when great publications that make a huge impact are created, it is just a result of "trying" enough times. This is an indication that chance plays a larger role in scientific creativity than previously theorized.
I look at the sheer volume of work produced by someone like Einstein in science, or Robert Heinlein in fiction, and y'know what? Much of their stuff isn't good. Much of Einstein's observations outside of physics are pretty bad and off-base, he recommends courses of political action that were tried later and led to totalitarianism. If he were alive today, he'd no doubt say "mea culpa" - "I was wrong", especially in his opinions on the Soviet Union.
But it doesn't matter, because his good work is incredible. Even trying to understand special relativity makes it clear how amazing his work is (best guide to relativity for laymen I've found). It doesn't matter if you get some things wrong if you get one or two important things right.
I'm doing what I can to live to between age 100 and 110 or so, longer if possible. I'm aiming to have almost full mobility, respiration, and general health until age 80-90 or so, then perhaps gradually declining/deteriorating health until passing away between 100 and 110.
So I work on the big stuff - stretching, diet, aerobic exercise, strength training, nutrition, and so on. Lately I've been thinking more about having good skin at that age.
About five years ago I had a really lovely girlfriend who put lotion on twice a day in the morning and night, and she had the most amazing and soft skin. Now, I don't really care about amazing and soft skin now, I don't care about having great skin between ages 30 and 50, but I definitely want not-terrible-skin at age 90.
In Korea two months ago I spent time in a jimjilang, a big family spa/bathhouse type place. They had a room full of scrubbing salt near the pools of water, and after scrubbing my skin with salt and putting on lotion, my skin felt about a million times better the next day. The hotel I'm staying at in Hong Kong has free lotion here, so I put some on yesterday. My skin feels a little more smooth and a little less rough.
Flames erupted through my lower body, shooting from my calf to halfway up my back.
I'd been training pretty hard lately to get back into shape - every day at least 15 minutes of exercise, closer to an hour most days. I'd mix up the form, a little walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, or training with weights. Now I was having a masseuse in Hong Kong break up the lactic acid and knots in my muscles, and I cried out when she dug her elbow into my already tender thigh.
Focus. Focus. I read a lot of history, and greatly admire the warriors that wouldn't cry out even when wounded or being interrogated. I was just reading a story a samurai who faced torture for a day straight without crying out once.
I try to go into my head, separate the pain from myself. Like I'm sitting on top of a cliff and watching pain battle my body down in a valley below. I do roughly the same thing towards the end of a workout when things start to hurt - I don't try to tune it out. I observe it. I try to enjoy it - time is slowing down and becoming harder? That's good, it means I get to experience more time. And the hurt is proof I'm alive.
I do the same if I'm ever feeling sad - I try to reflect and appreciate the sadness. It's an emotion, it's something natural to be felt, and can be enjoyed like a bitter type of food or an acidic glass of wine. It burns a little, but acknowledging transforms it in a way. Instead of something to be fought, it can be accepted, acknowledged, and appreciated for what it is.