Ben Brooks on Hacking and Self-teaching

I was nodding my head in agreement for most of Ben Brooks' article "On Hacking", with a few minor differences: I have taken courses on the subject, and I work mostly on Squarespace as opposed to Wordpress. Still, he says something that completely mirrors my own experience:

The entire theme for this website is one big hack. Nothing more. That’s why it loads a bit slower than “good” themes, but it is my hack and I love it.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Furthermore:

Hacking away at stuff I don’t understand is how I got the skills and knowledge I have today.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with self-teaching, experimentation, and "tinkering" as the basis for one's skills and knowledge. Dare I say, much in the way of formal education is for the most part entirely overrated; one is plenty capable of becoming competent (or masterful) by trial-and-error alone. As a matter of fact, I tend to prefer this approach.

Total darkness at night for melatonin production and cancer therapy

A recent study concludes that a bit of dim lighting during sleep blocks melatonin release and, interestingly, renders tamoxifen, a widely used breast cancer drug, completely ineffective.

I'm currently reading the excellent book Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T.S. Wiley and Bent Formby, and the authors echo the exact same point: when we sleep, we need to be in a pitch black room. Absolute darkness. Even the tiniest bit of light—from a charging phone, the crack in the door, a smoke detector—blocks melatonin release and gives us a less-than-ideal sleep.

(Another tip: your room should be kind of cold. Like, sub-70s cold.)

Keep your kid's heels on the ground

Kelly Starrett has a great video (short, to-the-point, and not overly technical, unlike most of his stuff) that talks about how to buy shoes for your children—the advice is equally applicable to adults as well.

Early on, he says:

We've been evolving for two-and-a-half million years, and you're evolved to have your heel flat on the ground.

This is an important point to consider. The body adapts to the stresses placed upon it; this is a basic tenant of exercise science, physiology, and basic biology. For decades, we've been walking around in shoes with heels upwards of an inch (if not more) in height. Our achilles tendons adapt to this; they realize that they don't need to be as long as they're meant to be (since we've been buffering them with added heels) and systematically shorten over time.

Consider standing barefoot with your feet together, pointing straight ahead. Now squat to the ground, keeping your heels on the ground. Ninety-nine percent of you can't, and you'll find that you can only do this by bringing your heels off the ground. This is the same mechanism.

Another point Starrett makes: children almost always start to heel-strike while running around the 1st grade mark. In kindergarten, children run on their forefoot, and can squat like a human being; by 1st, they can't do this anymore. He theorizes this is because parents start putting their children in fashionable heeled shoes, increase their sitting time (desks in kindergarten, anyone?), and beginning this maladaptation process early on.

These are all bases of our recommendations for barefoot running, barefoot walking, and decreased sitting time.

Starrett also has a nice video on his website about why you shouldn't swing your kids by the arms.

Going Home

#365Project: 201/365

After a combined 25+ hours in the car between Boone and Kennett Square, PA, Kristin and I are indeed still alive, back home, and ready to get back to work. One memorable point of the ride home yesterday: we rounded a corner and found this scene in front of us. The above photo was shot leaning out of the moving car's window (camera strap around my wrist, of course) and turned out quite well. I've uploaded it as a desktop wallpaper which works nicely as the background for my 15-inch MacBook Pro. Download it here.

What's new? I found a job bartending at a local upscale grille to support my adventures, and have been thinking a lot about my next step in the big scary world that is Real Life. Stress has been catching up with me lately, and it's been tough to maintain all of my responsibilities; I've begun taking the necessary steps to get my life back on track, and things are looking up (though Kristin's lease is up and is moving to a new apartment later this week, with a new roommate, which leaves me in an awkward homeless-type predicament that I'll figure out later.) Long story short: life can be tough, but things almost always get better with time and a bit of work.