Jem And The Holograms

I think about a lesson I learned each day, and then I share it with you… because if it is in my brain, it needs to come out so I can make room for new stuff.

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Today is not really a lesson but rather expanding a post on FaceBook, explaining the Holographic Principle in playful, Science-for-Dummies terms. If you like to think big, though (I mean, really BIG), you might like this…

As our technology progresses, we make simulations to help predict the future. We make weather simulations, flight simulations, social simulations…we even make games like The Sims to help predict the actions and nature of people.

So we can reason that our simulations will continue becoming bigger and better as we continue figuring out how to throw more computing power into them. Eventually, we will build simulations of the universe, maybe even virtual reality simulations of the potential fate of everything. Can you imagine?

Well imagine, then, that maybe we already have. Maybe our species (or another) has acquired the technology and knowledge to create completely realistic simulations of the whole universe, from start to finish, to test theories, fine-tune the laws of Physics, or introduce absurd laws (like Quantum Physics or String Theory) to see how a simulated world might react.

This means, of course, life, as we know it, might not even be real. We could be a self-aware 3-D holographic simulation. Imagine a super-advanced alien race that creates magnificently complex games for their entertainment. We might simply be the avatars of a cheap throwback game in their X-Box 10000.

If you are nerdy, you can think of it this way: what if all of Star Trek: TNG never really happened? What if it just took place in an (close to) infinitely large holodeck, but no one on the Enterprise ever realized it? They just played out the program as they might have done thousands of times before. (If you are a more contemporary nerd, you could just say you took the blue pill…)

Going a step further, this means our laws of Nature, Physics, and Reality are not the actual laws of the real Reality outside the game–they might be completely different in the “real” world!

One more thing… and this is where it gets really goofy and starts to break down… if the originating species could build a simulation that complex, and the simulation is so collectively intelligent that it is building simulations… then we could be a simulation inside a simulation inside a simulation, etc… (we can do this all night.)

At any rate, don’t try wrapping your mind around it. In the end… it’s turtles all the way down!

 

(If you don’t get that reference, I’ll leave it to you to look it up.)

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What Are You Filling Your Space With?

I look at each day and figure out what life lesson I learned from it. I share each lesson on this blog.

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To create more time to spend together, Nicole and I have built some efficiencies into our otherwise busy days (such as trading breakfast for pre-prepared smoothies). Our plan worked. We have more time in our evenings now.

Ironically, we found ourselves not knowing what to do with that time and on at least a few occasions we have spent our extra time trying to agree on what to do with the time.

As a society, our lives are cluttered with work, social affairs, hobbies, and passions, and habits. In fact, our lives are much like those overstuffed closets you see in cartoons. When you yank something out of it, you create space and everything falls into that space, burying you. Many people fail at breaking a habit (like smoking, for example) because they do not have any idea what to fill the time and space that habit used to take with (such as exercise or bubblegum chewing–something that is equally mindless and a little alluring).

When you create space in your life, you must be intentional about what you will fill that space with. If you do not decide what to do with your life, then everything else (and everyone else) in your life will decide for you.

Incidentally, we ended up playing cards, staying up late to finish the game. Nicole won, this time…

 

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Your Pet Thinks You’re Crazy

I look back on each day and figure out what lesson I learned from it. Then, I share each day’s lesson with you. Here is today’s…

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I have been thinking about Time lately, and one thing I realized is we humans are the only creatures who have any long-term sense of it. Our pets, for example, live in a world that runs on the most rudimentary mathematical equation: cause and effect. When I do This, That happens. They live without any context for living.

In some ways, this means they enjoy more satisfaction with life–pets do not have the stress of making ends meet, maintaining relationships, or worrying about their environment. They do not even have the context of sanitation to be mindful of their hygiene. In other ways, it means they have no appreciation for the nuances or consequences of living and therefore, have less satisfaction with life–they have no fascination for rainbows, no appreciation of the work put in to feed them, no gratitude for their toys or the people in their lives.

Can you imagine what it must be like for the dog whose exasperated master rubs the dog’s nose in the dog’s urine when the dog pees on the floor? To the dog, the math was simple: he had to pee, that was the best spot he could find. The dog has none of the context around the master’s stressful day at work, the cherry-wood stain on the floor, the fact that they have to keep living there, or the amount of time and effort needed to clean the mess.

People argue that the dog knows he is in trouble, but does he? From the dog’s perspective, probably the best explanation he can conjure is, “Sometimes when I pee in my cell, the people who locked me in prison go ballistic. I have no idea what they expected me to do instead. I’m hoping they don’t notice this time because the last time they completely lost their sh*t and forced my face into it. And then 20 minutes later, they treat me well. This is one messed up situation.” 

Of course, it is not even that sophisticated. The dog has no concept of prisons, cells, bad, good, punishment, or reward. The world is simply a very confusing morass of double standards, random beatings, and meaningless love. What we consider to be loyalty, the dog might think is simply the safest bet. “Despite these people being complete nutters, I can’t imagine how much worse it could be without them.” Then again, no wonder they often try to escape and make it on their own.

The context of our lives is what makes life meaningful, which means it can also rob meaning from parts of life. We make some parts more meaningful than other parts. Sometimes the dog is important. Sometimes the dog is an excuse to vent negative emotions. To the dog, though, it is all the same. You are a crazy person.

To bring this back to Time, the dog has no context from which to remember peeing on the floor is bad. The dog just knows you are random and crazy and sometimes treat the dog well, sometimes poorly.

For us, it is the context of the past that gives meaning to the present and future.

 

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Back In Time

I challenge myself to find a valuable life lesson in every day. Then I share that lesson with you. This blog is our journal of lessons learned. Here is today’s entry…

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In our quest to build things we dream of in science fiction, we forget we have already built many of them in science fact.

We want to have time machines that transport us to the past. Ironically, we are also the only living creatures with a cohesive sense of the long-term past. We are the only creatures we know of who are able to look at fossilized bones or shells and draw conclusions about where they came from. We are the only creatures in the known universe capable of putting the pieces of history together and creating a cohesive narrative of what came before that led to now. Only we humans can ascertain how the world, life, even the universe, evolved.

Through observation, testing, and recording results, we have ascertained how Rome rose and fell. We are able to look back into the past and imagine what dinosaurs looked like and where and how they lived. We can follow the path of plate tectonics to envision what the land and oceans of Earth looked like millennia ago.

Only we humans can revisit the past and alter the course of any would-be future based on our knowledge of the known past.

We want to build time machines to travel to the past but we have already built time machines through the science of carbon dating, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, written language, cosmology, stories, art, etc.

No other creature on Earth knows Earth’s history–only humans. No other creature can speculate about Time, Space, Matter, or where any of those came from–only humans.

We do not need to build time machines to visit the past. We are the time machines.

 

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A Paradox of Time

Every day I strive to learn a lesson in life. Then I share it with you. Here is today’s lesson…

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I am no astrophysicist (so if I say anything patently stupid here–and you are an astrophysicist–feel free to call me out), but my brothers and I love to chat about space, time, and the fate of the universe. In one of those conversations, Milo and I discussed the wackiness of Time, when I tripped across a paradox I had not considered before.

This might be a little nerdy and confusing but I will try to keep it straightforward since you might like to talk about this, too.

We know time travel exists because we are doing it now. We are always moving forward in time, from present to future. The real problem is traveling backwards through time.

It is fun to think of different ways to make visiting the past work, but there is a logical and fundamental flaw that will, I think, always prevent us from going back in time.

When you travel through time you also travel through space (when I cross a room, for example, I am traveling through space to reach the other side of the room and it is also later in time when I get there).

Therefore, theoretically, you should be able to cross time-space backwards and end up in the past, just as you can walk backwards across a room (but time still moves forward). The catch is, to go back in Time, you must travel faster than the speed of light.

Everything emanates light, including people. Thanks to this property of the universe, we are able to see into the past. When I look at you, for example, I actually see you as you were a fraction of a second ago. It took light a (very) small amount of time to travel from your face to my eyes so I could see you. This means that light, to travel through time, must also travel through space. Because of this, when we point our telescopes to the Andromeda galaxy, we actually see Andromeda as it was about 2 million years ago–the time it took the light from Andromeda to reach Earth.

If you were walking down a busy street today in the Andromeda galaxy, someone on Earth would not know for another 2 million years because that is how long it will take the light from that moment to travel across space and reach us humans.

Think about this. The light from every moment is always traveling across space, in all directions. However, every moment that light is followed by the light of the next moment, and the next moment, and the next, etc. It happens so fast and so close to simultaneously that it seems like everything is happening all at once.

If I could somehow travel through time to the moment you began reading this article, I would have 3 major problems, though:

1. I would have to travel faster than light so I could get ahead of the light in my present moment. I can never escape the present because I can not travel faster than light.

2. If I could travel faster than light, then I have an even tougher problem. I could not see where I was going. There is no light if I am ahead of it!

3. Even if I conquered the first two obstacles, when I arrive in the past, that light will have already moved on. There would literally be no past to see.

 

The inherent problem with time travel to the past or future is if you master the mechanics needed to do it, you still would not be able to find anything because the light is either not there yet (future) or has already left (the past).

It is fun to play with the ideas, but I guess the important thing is, regardless of what life you want to live–past, present, or future–use your Time wisely, because when you run out of it… there is nothing more to see.

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Breakfast for Dinner?!?

Want to have more time to enjoy your evening? This is what we are doing and it is working!

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We work hard. We have hobbies. We have chores. We chase passions. We try to always improve ourselves. In short, like you, we are busy. Even though we have no TV, no video games, not even a lot of furniture (1 couch, 1 bed, 1 desk, 2 end tables, 1 dining table), we still struggle to find time just for us, just to relax each day.

I think 2 and a half hours of completely open leisure time is a good amount to have, but after work, making and eating dinner, taking out the trash, feeding the cat, getting ready for bed, prepping for tomorrow, etc… we typically have 45-minutes to an hour to do whatever we want.

If you know me, then you know I love efficiency and I am always seeking ways to do things smarter, faster, or with less effort (I like to automate tasks and create habits). Nicole and I realized dinner is a huge time-suck for us, so we are trying something new and so far, it is showing great results.

We eat cereal for dinner. 

It is not, admittedly, the best dinner but cereal–even junk food cereal–is still full of vitamins, easy to prepare, and tastes delicious. We typically avoid highly processed “food” but for a quick meal, cereal is tough to beat. We still want to be sure we are eating fresh foods and veggies, though (which we would normally have prepared for dinner), so we changed our breakfast routine, too.

Instead of cereal for breakfast, we make smoothies, but with a twist. We prepare our smoothies for the week on Sunday and freeze the ingredients in single-serve baggies (1-quart size). In each bag, we have broken or chopped 3 fruits, 3 vegetables, 3 nuts, 3 grains, and a scoop of brown rice protein powder–more than enough actual nutrition to make up for cereal dinners. In the morning, I drop a frozen bag of smoothie ingredients into the Vitamix, pour in about 3 cups of unsweetened milk of my choice (usually Flax or Almond-Coconut) and blend it up. I drink it before I head to work and it tides me over most of the morning.

The best part is, we have added around an hour to each evening, allowing us to walk, talk, watch Netflix, read, meditate, or whatever we want! Can’t beat that.

If you want to try this crazy experiment, here is what a couple of our smoothies might look like:

Always start with 1 banana and 1 carrot. It is hard to screw up the taste after that, and you get lots of great vitamins between those two alone, like Potassium, Fiber, and Vitamins A and C.

Smoothie 1 (everything chopped and placed in a 1-quart bag, to be frozen):

1 banana

1 peach

6 strawberries (whole, with greens)

1 carrot

1 handful of parsley

1 handful of spinach

A palm’s worth of sunflower seeds

A palm’s worth of raw pecans

1 teaspoon of chunky peanut butter

A palm’s worth of raw oats

A palm’s worth of chia seeds

Scoop of brown rice protein powder (or vegan protein powder of choice)

3 cups of unsweetened Flax milk (this does not go in the baggie–pour this in the blender in the morning)

 

Smoothie 2:

1 banana

1 carrot

Handful of basil

Handful of blueberries

Handful of kale

5 Mango slices (half a mango)

A palm’s worth of raw cashews

A palm’s worth of raw walnuts

A palm’s worth of flax seeds

A palm’s worth of hemp seeds

Scoop of brown rice protein powder

3 cups unsweetened Almond Coconut milk (don’t put this in the bag, obviously–pour this in the blender, in the morning)

 

Mix and match any of the ingredients. Trade spinach for a cucumber, or blueberries for beets, or parsley for cilantro. Experimenting with the flavors is half the fun. Each morning, I just grab a bag, the milk, toss it in the blender and I’m good to go. That night, a quick bowl of cereal (or sometimes, a bagel with vegan cream cheese–any quick breakfast really) will hit the spot and free up time.

Have fun with that life-hack. If you have more, comment on FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, or wherever you read this blog. Don’t forget you can subscribe to have each post delivered right to your inbox so you can archive and save it for reading later. Whatever works for you. I’m flexible.

Enjoy your breakfast dinner!

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You Don’t Know Me (And Neither Do I)

Today’s Lesson: It’s tough to see I to I.

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“…And that is why I am who I am.” Our friend finished sharing some very moving and important details about his childhood. It was the kind of story people write books about, that later become screenplays, and eventually turn into inspiring and uplifting academy award-winning movies.

I do not know many people who do not have amazing life stories that could become movies. In fact, just think about how often you hear the phrase, “My life could be a great movie…”. Everyone’s life could be a great movie, and I believe all those movies would be great. We all have struggles, challenges, trials and tribulation to overcome (often as children) because there is no manual for life. We each have to figure it out the hard way.

When we hear a close friend’s intimately protected back story, we are often surprised. Sometimes that friend is no longer who we thought they were, in the light of new details. It is like we don’t even know them.

Here is the real kicker, though. We don’t know ourselves, either.

When I look back at my life, I remember (and this is being very generous) maybe one-fourth of my own history–you know, the history that I lived.

I do not remember most of yesterday. I remember waking up, going to work, coming home, and going out to dinner but I do not remember every word of every conversation or every visual input that affected my attitude, or each billboard that subtly coerced me into trusting a brand name, or even every detail of my friend’s story. I remember the highlights but, as they say, the devil can be in the details. It is the minutiae and messy morass between the big plot turns that build character, that make me who I am.

In essence, I am missing most of who I am. Sometimes an old friend will share a story about me that I do not remember. I can not scroll back through my entire history. Truly, I only know the highlights–bits and pieces of stories I have heard and told over and over.

In other words, we are, at best, only the Cliffs Notes version of ourselves.

We should not fret, therefore, when we think we know someone because we remember a few major dots in their life but have forgotten most of the lines that connected them.

In the end, isn’t it better to be surprised once in a while… even when we surprise ourselves?

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Making Time

Today’s Lesson: You have to make time to make time.

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I feel so busy these days that I barely have an hour to myself. Nicole and I both work long hours. Each day when we get home, it is a mad scramble to clean up, make dinner, prepare for the next day, get ready for bed, and if we are lucky and do not miss a beat… we might be able to share 30-40 minutes of downtime together.

We do not own a TV. We do not have many social commitments (or even many friends). We don’t play sports or go to the gym for an hour. We don’t have kids or family nearby to take up our time. We just work, come home, and get ready for the next day.

There are, of course, other things we would also like to do and sometimes we can cram one or two of them into the weekend, between chores (like spending time outside, reading, writing more, catching a movie, playing with Rainee, exercising, learning new stuff, etc.).

I know we are not alone in this battle but I am often confounded by how bad I am at making time for everything. Sometimes I watch other successful people (famous but sometimes just my peers) accomplish more than I seem to, while also balancing children, second jobs, big social circles, and more. I do not know what specific compromises they make (sleep, sex, cooking, or eating healthy, maybe?) but I marvel at their leisure time.

I see two main struggles for myself.

The first is, I am, I think, incredibly efficient but also a perfectionist. It is important to me that everything that is done… is done well. For example, my laundry is not haphazardly folded. I know how I like things placed in the closet. I do not have a “junk” drawer in the house. I run my schedule like a military operation each day. I can tell you almost exactly where my feet will be placed at any given time of the day.

My second struggle with making more time is something I only recently realized. My schedule is packed until I force something new into it. For example, I used to work roughly the same hours with the same drive time I have now, but I was also taking martial arts classes three or four times a week while doing it.

I have no idea how I would fit six to ten hours of classes in my schedule now and I had no idea how I would do it then. I just did it, and I showered twice a day on top of it.

I have been experimenting with waking up later yet forcing more actions into my morning routine and still arriving to work on time. So far, so good. I have surprised myself.

The lesson in this is, whatever time you have is what you fill your day with (meaning your habits expand to fill the allotted time you give them). Further, you make time for what you make time for (meaning, if you absolutely have to fit something in–say, if you had the chance to attend a lecture from your favorite famous business leader three times per week–then your schedule will “magically” open to work around it).

I imagine Steve Miller Band fanatics and people with children (sometimes called “parents”) must know this already. For me, it is a lesson I am just figuring out.

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future…”

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What Would You Do With An Extra Day?

Today’s Lesson: What makes you think, if you had more time, you would use it any differently?

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Having an extra day off over Memorial Day weekend was nice, but when the weekend was over, I still found myself thinking I could use another day off to catch up!

I do not know if it is a sign of being over-stressed, over-worked, or of people having bad time management skills but it seems no matter how much time “off” we have, we could always use more. Maybe it is because we really do not have “off” time. We cram it with chores, tasks, and events we know we would not otherwise be able to do or we are so exhausted we waste the time doing nothing of value.

I am beginning to think the problem is not with the amount of time we have to ourselves. The problem is what we do with it and why. If we worked two days each week and had five days off, I bet we would still complain about not having enough time to do everything.

We think life would be different if we had unlimited time but in a sense, we already have unlimited time. Since we never know when or how we might die, we live as if we will live forever. Maybe we should choose an arbitrary future date when we want to have the five most important things in our lives accomplished. Whether we make it to that day is not the point. Living as if we know we only have until that day might change everything.

 

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Untried and True?

If it has been around a long time, then it must be good, right? (Of course, if you have ever read my blog, then you can guess my answer is, “probably not”…)

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I am not a fan of Daylight Savings Time and I share this post explaining why each year. It is an archaic, damaging tradition that has far outlived any usefulness it once provided to society or humanity, yet, curiously, we revel in it.

Even I will admit, despite my cognitive grasp of its non-utility, a little part of me becomes excited for longer summer days. Still, I would rather have stable hours (and moods) throughout the year–or even better–simply accurate timekeeping.

There are many things we believe or do simply because we have always believed or done them. I uncover my own assumptions or false beliefs all the time. It is astounding the things I have accepted as fact and internalized for large portions of my life without ever questioning the logic or origin of the tradition or belief.

Here are some off the cuff examples of things I believed simply because people told me they were true: Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are real, I need eight hours of sleep, drinking milk does a body good, keeping quiet and working hard will help me do well in life, only book publishers can publish books, marriage is sacrosanct, eating meat is natural, college will make me smarter, and having kids and settling down is what I am supposed to do in my twenties or thirties.

Some things are so deeply ingrained that we do not even consider questioning them or holding them up to the smallest test of logic. I think my dad still believes if you take a warm shower (let’s say the water is 90 degrees) and then walk outside on a cool day (say, 40 degrees) with wet hair and bare feet, you are certain to catch a cold. Of course, if that were true, every kid that goes swimming in a 50 degree pool on a 100 degree day would go home with the flu. The difference in temperature is the same 50 degrees, yet this myth persists in my family and others.

In my book, Daylight Savings Time falls under the same category as other myths, half-truths, un-truths, plain deceptions, or outright blatant ignorance of reality. For some of us, change is much scarier than the alternative: growth.

It feels safer to sit still and hide under the covers when we believe there is a monster in the closet. Of course, there is never a monster in the closet and sitting still, scared, waiting to die would only make the monster’s job easier. When we have information about where the monsters are, it is better to take our new knowledge and run with it.

 

Today’s Lesson: Just because we believe for a long time that something is justified, correct, or true does not mean it is any of those.

 

 

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