Random

I was just going about my business when out of nowhere my sister de-railed my day with a horrible little nugget of wisdom from the zoo – which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since.

Let’s have a quick chat about the largest lizard on earth.

They smell with their tongues, can swim between islands, possess venom which thins the blood of their prey and can reproduce asexually, laying 15-30 eggs at a time.

Pretty cool, right?

Wrong.

What would you say if I told you that baby Komodo dragons made up approximately 10% of an adult Komodo’s diet?

If you’ve got 30 babies, what else are you going to do with them?

These little Komodo dragons spend the early stages of their lives in the treetops – purely for the fact that mature Komodos can’t climb up and eat them.

When they do eventually muster the bravery to explore the ground, it’s common for baby Komodo dragons to cover themselves in the faeces of adults to avoid being cannibalised.

I repeat; baby Komodos coat themselves in their parent’s crap so that their parents don’t eat them…

Facts like this often leave me awestruck by how far removed we are from the savage realities of the natural world.

Humans are weird, but nature certainly has our number.

While definitely the most disturbing, this isn’t even the nastiest aspect of a Komodo’s eating habits.

If you’ve never seen footage of a Komodo hunting its prey, allow me to paint you a picture.

Hot tip: Don’t youtube this. It’s flat-out brutal and you’ll probably wind up on whatever animal cruelty watch-list I’m now on.

If a Komodo wanted to eat you it would storm up, take a bite, then casually follow you around until you’d lost so much blood that you couldn’t defend yourself. Once you looked delirious enough, it’d commence eating you alive. Bones and all.

Next time you’re having a rough day, try putting yourself in the shoes of a baby Komodo; dripping in your mother’s crap, trying desperately to scale a tree as the creature who brought you into the world snaps hungrily behind you, charging at you with all her might and evey intention of eating you whole.

If the baby Komodo can find a way, we probably can too.

I have at times been perplexed by the amount of sneezing I do at seemingly random intervals, deducing that I probably just have allergies to something.

During a meeting today, I needed to walk from one building to another. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Fremantle, and as we approached the second building, I couldn’t help but let out three muffled but aggressive sneezes.

“Sorry about that!” I said, embarrassed. “I think I must be allergic to one of the trees or something around here, it gets me all the time.”

The woman I was meeting with didn’t miss a beat before responding, “No, it’s probably the sun.”

Apparently, this is an actual thing.

The Photic Sneeze Reflex is a legitimate medical condition which causes people to sneeze when exposed to a variety of stimuli, including looking at bright lights.

Strangely, the earliest know record of the Photic Sneeze Reflex lives in the writings of Aristotle.

‘Why is it that one sneezes more after one has looked at the sun? Is it because the sun engenders heat and so causes movement, just as does tickling the nose with a feather? For both have the same effect; by setting up movement they cause heat and create breath more quickly from the moisture; and it is the escape of this breath which causes sneezing.’

Aristotle

Aristotle thought that the sun might cause nose sweat, which could tickle the inside of the nose enough to illicit a sneeze. While the logic checks out, this isn’t actually how it works.

Scientist’s best guess at the moment is that the sneeze reaction has something to do with the overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve,

Image result for trigeminal nerve
NHS

This nerve is the connection point for three other nerve branches including; the ophthalmic branch, which can be stimulated by rapid changes in light conditions; and the maxillary branch, which when stimulated, can cause sneezing.

The running theory is that when the opthalmic branch is overstimulated, it can cause other branches of the trigeminal nerve to become irritated.

A 2010 study discovered that if you’re amongst the 18-35% of people who report sneezing at the sun, you almost definitely have a very specific and seemingly pointless inheritable genetic mutation.

For those of us with the mutation, the irritation passed on to our maxillary nerve from overstimulation of the ophthalmic nerve through bright light changes is just enough to send us over the edge and into a small fit of sneezes.

The condition is harmless unless you’re a brain surgeon, but one hell of a nuisance nonetheless.

You can test whether you’re affected quite easily. Just walk outside and look at the sun for a while (not directly, obviously). If after thirty seconds or so you wind up achoo-ing your head off, welcome to the Photic Sneeze Reflex Club. You’ll receive your card in the mail.

Are you a writer?

How would you know?

Writers tend to write, right?

But how often, who for and how well?

This line of questioning is ambiguously annoying for a reason; there are no hard and fast metrics which dictate what a writer is or isn’t.

If you write anything at all, you have a case to state.

Whether or not you’re a writer depends entirely on whether or not you think you’re a writer.

The same goes for dancers, photographers, fighters, models, philosophers and nearly everything in between.

You become a writer (and cease being an ‘aspiring-writer’) the second you decide to mold your definition of what a writer is to include yourself.

I believe you should do this with everything you’re passionate about.

The ‘aspiring’ part of ‘aspiring writer’ is a safety net. It shields your work from scrutiny and justify mistakes.

Unfortunately, the shield perpetuates itself.

There’s not much use in considering yourself an ‘aspiring’ anything. Making mistakes and processing critique are both essential to growth.

‘Aspiring’ implies that the goal is to get good enough to shed the preface. It implies a destination which is an absolutely arbitrary definition.

It’s better to be a bad writer than an aspiring one.

Nobody is going to respect your work or hold it to a professional standard until you do so yourself.

Being bad at stuff is great. The worse you are, the more you have to learn.

Those who identify as ‘aspiring’ tend to be the most fearful of failure.

Become petrified enough of failing, and you might just scare yourself out of ever getting the practice you need to reach your destination.

Stop aspiring, start doing.

Find what you love.

Show up.

Do the work.

Embrace the failure.

Grow.

I competed in a BJJ competition today. It was my first time competing as a blue belt, and I didn’t just lose.

I got demolished; 22 points to 0 (which in BJJ, is a lot).

Courtesy my Smoothcomp profile.

There’s plenty of excuses I could make to lighten the blow; after all, the guy I fought has been training for more than twice as long; I was feeling a bit off today; and I prefer submission only formats to points based competitions.

But none of that changes the outcome, nor does it prepare me for my next competition.

Those excuses are all null and void because I signed up for this. I invited the possibility of this failure when I registered to compete.

Now that I have the failure, I have three choices:

I could quit. Decide that it’s all too much and I’d rather not expose myself to this failure again.

I could suppress it, forget it and move on. This way I get to continue training and competing without thinking or talking about the failure.

Or, I could embrace it; analyse the loss, accept that today I wasn’t good enough, and figure out how to close the gap.

Losing stings. It’s supposed to sting, and we should embrace it.

Accepting failure isn’t enough. Our actions after failure often define us more than the actions we took which led to the failing.

I could have won today despite all my excuses. I could have been better prepared, and I could have fought smarter and harder.

It’s okay that I failed, but it’s not okay to move on until I’ve turned that failure into progress.

With a loss that rough, I might be processing a while. But I didn’t get injured, I didn’t get submitted, and I know where I need to work.

When you love what you do, doing the work is the fun part.

Have you ever plugged your USB in the right way around on the first go?

Of course you have. It happens 50% of the time.

Why then does it feel like your USB was designed specifically to annoy you the other 50% of the time?

Because we aren’t programmed to remember all the times they went in without a problem.

We are programmed to experience negative emotions like frustration and fear more intensely than we are positive emotions like excitement and joy.

This programming helped our ancient ancestors avoid getting eaten by lions, but does little to save us from the terrors of our USB drives. Our minds haven’t evolved as quickly as the dangers most of us face in life have reduced.

Rarely will these over accentuated feelings of anger, frustration or discontent do anything to serve you, even if you have good reasons to feel them.

It’s harder to foster and maintain a positive mindset, but infinitely more productive.

We must be constantly aware of our biological negativity bias.

Don’t get into the habbit of feeling like you have the right to be upset (even when you do).

When these feelings creep in, ask yourself;

“Is this feeling serving me?”

If the answer is no, or the emotion isn’t providing an immediate and obvious benefit, it has no place in your mind.

How you choose to process these emotions is up to you.

The antidote to negativity is perspective.

Breathe. Rationalise. Exercise. It doesn’t matter. Do anything which helps you find the perspective required to process the pain.

Build a practice out of seeking perspective instead of harbouring pointless negativity and you’ll lead a far richer life.

Your USB doesn’t hate you, and you’re not a fool just because you put it in the wrong way.

It doesn’t always go in wrong, even though it feels like it does.

It’s your responsibility to act accordingly.

Deceptive bluffing games are my guilty pleasure.

Werewolf, Secret Hitler and Mafia are all excellent games in their own respects, but recently I’ve fallen in love with a simple game called Liars Dice (also called ‘Perudo’ or ‘Pirate’s Dice’).

Image result for liars dice other name

All you need to play Liars dice is five six-sided die for each player.

The rules go like this:

  • Each player secretly rolls their handful of dice, keeping them concealed from the other players for the duration of the round.
  • The youngest player (or the loser of the last game) starts by declaring how many of a certain number they think is on the table.
    For example, if there were three players and the first player had rolled two threes, they might declare “I think there are three threes.”
    While they don’t have three amongst their dice, the chance that at least one of the other two players rolled a three is high.
  • The next player to the left now has three options;
    – Raise the last person’s bluff by either increasing the value of the dice, Three Fours. Or by increasing the quantity of dice, Four Twos.
    – Call the players bluff, at which point everyboy reveals their dice to be counted.
  • If the player’s declaration was correct, the accuser must discard one of their dice. If their bluff was wrong, the player who made the declaration must discard a dice.
  • If a player suspects that previous player’s guess is correct, they may also call “Exact.” If this turns out to be true, no players lose any die. If the player who called exact was incorrect, they lose a dice.

The game continues like this until there is only player with dice left on the table.

As the game goes on and the dice pool decreases, each player’s ability to bluff reduces.

There is a more advanced ruleset where all ones are considered ‘wild’, and are included in the tally for any number.

When playing with this ruleset, if someone declares that there are ones on the table, if the next player wishes to bluff a number other than ones, they must double the number of ones called by the previous player, rounding up. For example, if the first player calls Three Ones, the next player must either call four-or-more ones, or 6-or-more of any other number.

This rule also operates in reverse. If the first player calls Seven Fives, the next player may call Four ones, Seven Sixes, or eight of any other number.

Give this a crack next time you’re struggling to find a game to play at a family dinner. It’s incredible fun to watch and learn how your friends and family go about bluffing and calculating probablilty.

When I was 6, I’d do almost anything for $2.

With $2 in my pocket I could get 40 Strawberry Clouds, 20 Warheads or a hundred live rounds of ammunition for my capgun.

Money meant one thing; the freedom the select my next luxury.

I had a few ways of collecting money at this age. Naturally most of my income came through gifts, $5 here and there from family and friends at Christmas or on my birthday. But I came to realise that these income streams were seasonal, and out of my control. Hardly acceptable to someone without the forethought to make anything last.

So at the tender age of 6, I created my first job. I became the one-boy director, performer, choreographer and promoter of my family famous ‘Trampoline Shows’.

Whenever we had enough family around to justify an ‘occasion’, I would organise a scrappy 2-5 minute ‘show’ with my siblings, and charge every adult member of the family to attend.

These shows tended to involve a silly narrative which usually included bad attempts at magic tricks, trampoline flips, hideous knock-knock jokes and some form of tragic death at the hands of a capgun (which was often running suspisciously low on ammuninition).

These adorable (and I’m sure unbearable) performances started out at $1 per seat, which increased to $2 once I realised nobody in the family had the heart not to pay up, and had a stop put to them the first time I tried to demand $5 a head.

I learnt some valuable lessons from my first little business venture.

It was the first time I had leveraged my networks for a financial benefit. Of course, my family weren’t paying to see the show because the show was worth $1 to see. In fact, some of them probably would have paid the fatal $5 ticket price if I told them that they wouldn’t have to sit and watch the show at all.

My family were willing to pay $2 each to sit in a line and watch me jump on the trampoline for five minutes because they were invested in me. My success meant something to them, and they were willing to facilitate it.

Every meaningful job I’ve been hired to do since that point has had something to do with my ability to leverage pre-existing networks. While this sounds totally insidious, it’s not a bad thing. Our networks exist to support us.

My family were willing to sit through five minutes of me pretending to be a cowboy, who in one instance ‘accidently’ shot him self in the face because my sister got stage fright, because they care about me.

People who care about you care about what you want, and they’re usually willing to help you work towards getting it.

The even more important lesson was that as soon as you try to abuse these networks by asking too much of them, the support dissipates. And sometimes, once abused, that support will never be offered again. Luckily for me, while I never got away with another Trampoline Show, my family weren’t done supporting my endeavours.

When I was 6, my family were willing to help fund my strawberry cloud addiction. Now, the people I’ve served with on non-profit boards, or trudged through awful 18 hour hospitality gigs with are willing to champion me because they too are invested in my narrative.

We all have people like this in our lives. It’s okay to lean on them sometimes. Just don’t try to rob them. They’ll see right through it, and you’ll wind up without any lollies.

Have you honestly and lovingly thanked anyone today?

Has anyone thanked you?

If not, why not?

If the things we do don’t inspire loving appreciation and generosity, what’s the point?

Thank someone for something you normally wouldn’t thank them for today.

Do the same tomorrow, and every day after.

Grace is a net-positive.

Furthermore, it’s free. Grace is basically the solar power of human connection.

Harness it.

(And thanks for being here. I mean it.)

Today was the first day I’ve ever ‘thrown’ clay on a pottery wheel.

Naturally, I wasn’t very good. But after four hours of incredibly rewarding hyper focus, I left at least 200x better at pottery than I when I arrived.

200x better than abysmal isn’t good, but it’s something.

Image result for throwing clay

This experience reminded me of two things;

  • Learning new skills that have tactile feedback loops can be an absolute delight for ADD/ADHD minds.
  • Being shit at stuff is awesome. Our weakest skills usually offer the largest opportunity for progress and growth.

I cannot recommend a pursuit or obsession like this highly enough to anyone who struggles to manage any form of attention deficit disorder.

In fact, any activity which involves a tactile element that you can’t afford to take your eyes off, which also has instant measurable outcomes is a winner.

At its core, ADD/ADHD is the chemical disruption of regular executive functions. This basically just means that we’re not great at resisting impulsivity; we find it harder to stay on the path towards accomplishing goals because every side street or alley way could be where our next adventure begins. Even when we know there’s nothing down the alley, we can’t always resist checking. Just in case.

Activities like pottery are such blessings because they promote healthy hyper-focus. The hyperfocus is built-in because as the wheel spins and your hands are moulding the wet clay in front of you, there’s not room for any other inputs. This feels exquisite to people who don’t get to feel this often.

Hyper-focus is like putting on noise cancelling headphones at a football game.

The background static dissipates and you’re left with nothing but yourself and the task at hand.

This applies to short term goals, and is why we forget stuff, but it’s also why many of us struggle to stay committed to meaningful long-term progress.

By constantly exposing yourself to your own hyper-focus through an activity like this, you become better at managing (and hopefully harnessing) it.

Getting the hang of this and finding ways to maximise the time you get to spend hyper-focussed on interesting activities and problems that you care about is the key to a satisfying ADD/ADHD life.

The few hours after a Jiu-Jitsu class are the most productive hours of my day because my brain is primed to work in a way that it doesn’t prime itself naturally- I suspect this is the same for potters.

If you’re in Perth and are in any way interested in where you can go to try this, check out Clay Make Studio. The staff were lovely and their pricing is totally affordable.

I’m craving a dedicated personal office space quite badly.

I have a desk in my room that’s less than a metre from my bed. Naturally, this isn’t great for my productivity.

My house isn’t huge, and because I share a room with my partner all of my spaces are shared spaces.

I often write or get work done in the lounge when nobody’s home, but not so much when the house is full.

I’ve tried the coworking space thing before, but I’ve always felt that for the price I might as well just work from a cafe. At least I’ll get a pastry for my buck.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s what a lot of writers do. My only issue with cafes is that they usually present a constant stream of potential distraction.

On some days, they prove too much. My brain wanders, I get distracted for a minute, that minute turns into an hour and I’m no closer to where I want to be.

I resigned myself to the fact that this was just the way it was going to be for a while.

Then I discovered garden offices.

Rustic timber cabins - DIY or install - granny flats and sheds

These little nooks are cheap, look fantastic and don’t require intense council approval because they’re essentially just stylish sheds with windows.

I want one.

Inside would be nothing but a desk for working, a chair for reading and a bookcase full of my tsundoku.

How much would this cost?

It depends on the size and how much of the work you’re prepared to do yourself. Prefabricated kits are also an option, they reduce complexity and room for error, but increase cost significantly.

I need to do a lot more research, but people have completed some incredible builds for under a few thousand dollars and at the very least I’m inspired.

Rustic timber cabins - DIY or install - granny flats and sheds

I’m not sure how a garden office affects property value, but it could potentially be a worthwhile project once uni is over.

I’ve not impulsively made any decisions about this yet. All I’m saying is that if this is a terrible idea, someone ought to stop me before I start drawing schematics.