the day they arrived

The Day They Arrived

I awoke to a loud sound in the night; it sounded like a plane, which wasn’t too out of the ordinary. Planes are always flying over our place. I went back to sleep. A few hours later I awoke again, this time I got up and walked to the window, the rest of the world was waking up. The sky was bright orange and pink across the horizon.

Down on the street, people were walking around, and cars were driving up and down the road as usual. I did my morning routine, of getting ready for work. I checked my phone a few times to see if anything interesting was going on. Social media was full of the usual pictures of food and people having fun. I twitted into the void about the noise in the night; I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

After packing my lunch and getting dressed, I headed to the door and said ‘goodbye’ to my wife and daughter. Outside people seemed more rushed than usual. It wasn’t that anything was different, rather everyone seemed a little more stressed. I figure it was because of the heat; it was hot last night and I always have trouble sleeping on nights like that

The subway was packed, and there were the typical delays. The heat seemed to be making everyone act a little less friendly than normal. Of course, the delays weren’t helping that either. At my stop, I got off the train, left the platform, and headed up to the surface. Almost right away, I noticed that my phone wasn’t connecting to the network. Though this wasn’t a total surprise, as my phone is old and always has problems connecting to the network. Today, as I’d done so many times before, racked it up to the heat, everything seemed to be a little off on days like these.

At the office I was a little late, most people were already in their seats. Around noon a co-worker sent me a message with a link to a youtube video, it was a blurry night shot. In it, there were things that looked like planes with lots of lights on the bottom. The scary part was that the whole sky was full of them. After watching for a few seconds, I got another message, “Looks fake, but it’s all over Reddit.”

I did a little searching and discovered some ‘legit’ sites were also showing the video. That surprised me, as it looked like one of those gag videos that gets passed around every once and a while. An article on CNN said it was recorded 250 km south of Paris at around 3:56 am. The report pointed out that they had decided to publish the video despite not being able to verify it. With a little more searching, I found 30 similar videos on YouTube.

At some point in the afternoon, I turned my head and looked out the window to my left. There was something strange in the sky, it looked like a jet, but wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. I turned to my computer, then back to the window, but whatever I’d seen was gone. I walked over to the window and asked my co-worker if she had seen something, she didn’t know what I was talking about.

A few minutes later, someone else sent me another article. This time it was about daytime sightings of ‘spaceships’ over cities along the east coast. At this point, people were taking the news seriously, and chatter in the office was getting loud. People were saying things like, “What the hell is going on?” “This can’t be real,” “What are these things?”

I decided to take a walk; all the gossip had become too much for me. I needed the break to get my focus back so I could get some work done.

Outside, the air was hot, and clouds filled the sky. I looked up because there was a sound like what I’d heard in the night, but this time it was louder and more direct. From behind a cloud, something grey pocked out; it was moving slow and getting bigger. My heart started to race. As the craft move beyond the clouds, I noticed two more similar objects behind it. They were moving slower, and whatever they were scared the living daylights out of me. I thought, “What the fuck?” At the same time, it felt like my soul leaped out of my body, and I started to sweat.

This all reminded me of a dream I’d had in the past. In the dream, I look up at the sky, and it is full of massive black triangle like ‘jets.’ They were organized like a flock of geese and moving slowly across the sky.

At this point, I looked around, and there were many more people outside, they are all looking up at the sky. Some faces are filled with disbelief, while others look consumed by stress. Still, others look like they are on the brink of losing their minds.

I rushed back into the building and headed to my office. As I was walking through the hall my phone rang, answering it I heard my wife’s voice. “I’m scared… Have you looked at the sky?” after a pause, she went on, “Can you come home?” At that point, my phone lost it’s signal and wasn’t connected to the network again. I tried restarting it, but that didn’t make any difference.

Back in the office, people were freaking out. Some were glued to the window; eyes fixed on the sky. Many others had already left or were outside seeing things for themselves. I looked at my computer, and there was an email from management. It read, “In light of the situation if you don’t have anything urgent, you can leave now.” I wondered, “What could be more urgent than this?’ As I finished reading the email, my boss stepped out of his office and repeated the message.

I packed up my stuff and headed for the door. The hallway was full of people now; everyone seemed to be heading home. When I got outside, only a few people were waiting for the bus. But I could tell they were packing in closer, so I pushed through to get as close as possible. When the bus arrived, I was able to get on. It was full, and no one wanted to get off, at every stop, more people pushed on. Looking around, many peoples faces were white as if they’d seen a ghost, others were crying.

At the subway station, I headed down to the platform; it was crowded. I had to wait for a few trains to clear some people before I could get on. The subway was hot and sticky, with so many people crowded in, the AC had stopped working.

Halfway home, the train stopped moving. The conductor said there was a problem with the train ahead of us. Fifteen minutes later, we pulled in to the next station. The conductor again, said there was a severe problem with the train ahead. With this news, most people stood still, but after 10 minutes, I gave up and headed to the surface.

Outside, the streets were full of people. There was a buzz amongst them; everyone was talking about what was going on in the sky. I looked up to see the same things I’d seen when I first stepped outside. I decided that even though it was interesting, I was going to keep my eyes on what was ahead of me. That seemed like a safer option at this point.

As I walked, I noticed that a lot of people were sitting on the ground or leaning against buildings. Some were crying; others had even passed out. The whole situation was freaking me out, but I knew my only options was to get home as quickly as possible.

When I finally got to my building, the front door was open, but the lobby was empty. The elevator doors were open, but they weren’t moving, the lights above said ‘In Service.’ Heading to the stairs, I climbed to my floor. Walking down the hall, I could hear the buzz of the news emanating from every door.

At my apartment, I unlocked the door and headed in. The blinds were closed, my wife and daughter were sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room. Her laptop was open, and she was watching the news from her home country, she said, “look at this.” We watched the feed, it was like what I’d seen outside but to the extreme. “Fuck! What the hell is going on?”

We made dinner and tried to eat, but neither of us was hungry. Our daughter was ok; she ate because she had no idea what was going on. Her only hint to the situation was the stress on our faces, but we tried our best to hide it. After putting her to bed, we watched more news to see if there were any updates. We both tried calling our parents to see if everything was alright, but our calls wouldn’t go through.

That night I tried to sleep but rolled around restlessly instead.

confidence

The Problem With Confidence

It is great to have confidence, who wouldn’t want to have it? Having confidence helps us accomplish what others might think is impossible. It also ensures in a way, that we are willing to try things that may fail. In a lot of ways, confidence is an essential piece of achieving something significant or important. All this being true, confidence also comes at a cost, and can often act as a mask.

Of course, this makes sense, when we go to the doctor we want to feel confident in the advice we get. If you went to the doctor, and the doctor was sheepish and unsure, you would ask for a second opinion. For many things, this is the case, we expect experts to be sure of what they are saying; otherwise, we ask someone else. For this reason, confidence has its value, especially when it concerns our health or families, we want to be sure.

We Mistakenly Select For Confidence

The problem is that we often end up selecting for confidence, without even realizing it. When we are looking for answers, we want good ones, and we want the right one. Due to this, we feel like we are getting good answers when the person telling us something is confident. It is often difficult to understand questions, let alone answers, so we often rely on assuredness. This is especially true when we have little knowledge about something. At these times, our only gauge of truth is the confidence of the speaker.

With the internet, there is more information than ever before. This abundance of knowledge makes our choices more difficult. For many topics, we are bombarded with alternative options, but how do we know which one to choose? Because of this, often the quality of the presentation is all that we can work with. Which in many ways, is a show of confidence. Unfortunately, at times this comes at the expense of facts and accuracy. As an example of this, look at advertising which is rarely about facts, rather it is all about image.

Why We Use Confident As Metric

This may explain why we have a problem. For ourselves, we often gain confidence as we learn more about a topic. For this reason, so we associate confidence with practice. In turn, we come to assume that other people act the same way; so they are confident because they have worked hard. From this, we are able to pass on some of our decision making to other people. When we are looking for guidance, we use confidence as a barometer.

This being the case, it is also concerning, as some people are good at confidence. In a sense, they may not be good at anything else, or at least anything that matters. In turn, this means we may give them more faith and power then they deserve. For an example of this, look at Donald Trump, many would say he is incompetent, though I doubt that. Regardless, he has lots of confidence, and that is a big part of the success he has.

In many ways, Trump also serves as an anomaly, as I suspect many people in power are like him, but he is more loud about it. No doubt many are smart and able, but that isn’t what matters, instead, their performance does. And to be clear about the word choice of ‘performance’, I mean in the sense of an actor rather than an athlete. For many reasons, Trump stands out, but most politicians are exactly like him.

Confident Performers Rule The World

Given this proposition, it seems our society is full of people who are confident performers. But that could also mean they don’t have the skills or competence that matters. People can only optimize for a couple of things, so it may become necessary to optimize for performance or confidence over other skills.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that confidence isn’t a skill; it is an important one if you want to be a leader. But at the same time, it isn’t useful once you become a leader, because then you need to make good choices. You could say, that confidence gets people into positions where they can make choices, but it doesn’t help them make those choices. In the end, the choices could be worse, as people with excessive confidence may not have gone through the typical challenges of learning.

In many ways, confidence is a surface thing; and it doesn’t require a deep dive. It doesn’t require expertise; rather it needs the ability to project expertise. For that reason, we get lots of people projecting expertise, but not being experts. Know the saying ‘fake it till you make it’? It is that, but instead of making it, people keep on faking it. So, we have a society filled with fakers. In some ways, this makes sense, with so much information, confidence is a valuable currency.

Confidence On The Internet

As an example of this, on platforms like Medium, long articles get more engagement and upvotes. Because of this, they get more shares and popularity. Which makes me wonder; are these articles popular because they signal confidence, or because they are insightful?

Here is my theory; people have written long, insightful articles and gotten traction. Some other people looking at the stats discovered that longer pieces were getting more engagement. Using that information, they wrote long articles and got a better response. From that, they were rewarded for length rather than content. In a sense, this is like rewarding confidence over substance. No doubt, some of these articles are good, but often they are copywriting that says nothing at all. Part of the reason I’m skeptical, is that most people have a short attention span, so how are they able to read 20 minute long articles?

It comes down to this, showing confidence is a great way to gain trust. But it also depends on people not knowing the facts or the truth of the matter. But this is easy because people often don’t know much about what they are asking experts. In this sense, asking an ‘expert’ opens us up to people willing to exploit us with their confidence. This isn’t like asking a doctor, but rather it is like asking a salesperson.

Confidence In Person

Thinking about this, reminds me of someone I know. He is very loud and confident; his friends look up to him and see him as an authority. But when I’ve had conversations with him, there is rarely substance to what he says. Instead, he is loud and gets the people around him on his side, rather than being honest or factual. In most situations, this works great for him, as he is good at getting people on his side. Obviously, this is more complicated than that, but confidence is an important factor. To be frank, in private conversations, he is more honest and fair, but those types of conversations don’t happen often.

I’d say this is also the case in many different types of situations. Being someone who is shy but opinionated, I find that people who aren’t shy often have the ‘floor.’ With that position, they tend to spread uninformed ideas to the people around them. The people around them don’t know the facts either, so they take the word of the confident person. For this reason, bad ideas often spread because of who is saying them, rather than the substance of the statements.

Confidence Might Not Matter

Now that I’ve spent some time describing the issue, it is time to wind down the conversation. In many ways, our world is run by people with lots of confidence. You could say this is detrimental to all of us, because the best people to make choices aren’t making those choices. But, I’d suggest that in a lot of cases it might not matter.

Consider sales, salespeople sell products, but they can only sell what exists. If they are confident enough to sell something that doesn’t exist, by the time the contract is signed, it will be about something that does exist. That may sound like a scam, and it could be, but it could also be a revision of intent. In other words, buyers follow confidence but settled for what is available.

For another example, look at a CEO. The CEO can be confident and unaware, but this won’t matter as the company is often a machine that functions on its own. In a way, all the important choices have already been made and are part of the process. So, when someone tries to steer the ship in the wrong direction, the boat keeps going where it is headed.

The point, which might not be clear, is that even though unjustified confidence is a problem. In a lot of cases, it doesn’t matter because things are already working. No matter how confident someone is, they still have a considerable battle against ‘the system’ if they want to change it. They can try to change things, but there will often be checks and balances that slow them down. In the end, they may claim to get what they want, but that doesn’t need to be true.

Confidence Is A Mask

Confidence is important, but it is also a powerful mask that hides incompetence. We need to learn to be sure of the things we know and skeptical of what we don’t. At the same time, we need to know that there are bad actors going around doing the opposite. Instead of justified knowledge, they use confidence to hide incompetence. Knowing this gives you some defence against their tactics. But unfortunately, you will always be in a battle with people who aren’t paying attention.

In some ways, the conclusion is silly, know that the world is full of people who pretend to know things but don’t. With this, you can avoid falling for tricks of confidence. Or you could use confidence to your advantage. At the same time, this knowledge can be painful as you can see it, but not do much about it. If you are wise, you may want to learn to accept this and move on from things you can’t change. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try, fight if you can, but many games aren’t worth playing.

In the end, the most important thing you can do is your own research. Understand as best you can the things you have questions about, and use that knowledge to ask more informed questions. With that, you will find it easier to smoke out hucksters and realize if you are getting tricked by confidence. For bigger things, you can try to spread information first, as people tend to anchor to what they hear first. But even with this, you will be in a battle with many louder voices. So once again I say, some fights are not worth fighting.

If you have any better advice for dealing with this, let me know in the comments below.

twins

J-Squared

Joan and Jane were born at 7:59 and 8:15 on a Tuesday morning. Two hours later their mother died. Two hours after that their father left the hospital and never returned.

Joan and Jane were identical twins. Due to the circumstances surrounding their births, they would both live two entirely different lives. That said, both girls quickly got adopted without complication.

Joan was adopted by the Smith’s. They lived in Alberta, which was far away from the location of her birth in Toronto. The Smith’s lived an honest life. Mr. Smith worked as a bus driver and maintained the family farm with the rest of his time. Mrs. Smith was a 5th-grade teacher at the nearby elementary school.

As Joan got a little older, she learned a lot about how to take care of the farm. Her parents appreciated her hardworking nature and dedication to their livelihood. As a result of this diligence, Joan got good at taking care of the family animals and the more labour intensive work like bailing hay. Every summer she would spend most of her days with her father doing farm-related work.

Although Joan’s family lived a simple life, they always encouraged her to take her school work seriously. She got straight A’s and read books when she had time to herself. She was a huge fan of science fiction and was always asking questions about how the world worked. Her parents tried their best to satisfy her curiosity but knew as she got older they would run out of answers.

Jane’s life was very different. She was adopted by the Carter’s who lived in Forest Hill, an affluent neighbourhood in Toronto. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother was a doctor. They were both very successful, but always busy with work. Because of this, once Jane was old enough to be left to her own devices, she was.

Jane’s parents instilled in her the idea that hard work was necessary and an essential part of a successful life. Even if she didn’t want to believe them, she saw it every day in the lives of her parents. Jane went to private schools throughout her childhood and did very well.

Jane also loved reading, and with her parent’s library, there was always something for her to pick up. Most of the books were non-fiction, but the variety was vast enough that she never got bored. Due to this, Jane never thought to ask for any books as there were always tones on the shelves. That said, she loved watching science fiction and wasn’t too interested in the things that girls her age typically like.

Both girls were excellent students in high school. They stayed out of trouble and always got excellent grades. Of course, there were times when their respective parents lost their patients, but that was often a short-lived affair. If asked, their parents only complaint would have been the occasional experimentation with drugs. Both girls figured they had kept it a secret, but their fathers always knew.

In addition to their experimentation, they were both interested in science and did well in math. The drugs may have had some influence, but they were both drawn to cognitive neuroscience. The science of the biology behind thoughts and how the brain works.

Joan’s grades were excellent, and she got into every university she applied. But even with the scholarships, she was offered, money was still a concern. So she decided to stay local and went to the University of Calgary.

Jane was in the same boat, and she got into every university she applied. But with money not being a concern, she decided to take a chance and went to UC Berkeley in California.

Both girls continued to do well at university. They were always at the top of their classes and known amongst their peers. Although they had a fair amount of friends, they usually chose to stay in and study or read. Over the years, they both had a couple of boyfriends and at one time or another a girlfriend. Regardless of who they dated, it was important for both of them to have someone special in their lives.

Their universities careers were similar. They learned a lot about their subject matter and finished at the top of their classes. They both also became interested in the mind-body problem. Which is a philosophical question that asks if the mind and body are different things? Are thoughts physical or are bodies mental? Or maybe there is something different that connects both of them?

When it came to practical things, they were both fascinated by machine-mind interfaces. It likely had something to do with all the sci-fi they watched. Regardless, mind-controlled limbs were going to be all the rage going forward.

As they both neared the end of undergrad, they were approached by their respective professors and asking if they wanted to take on a Ph.D. 

Jane liked where she was, so she took up one of her professors offers and stayed at Berkeley. Her focus would be on brain-body interactions. She was particularly curious about how she could use live brain activity to control devices.

Joan, on the other hand, wanted to make a more significant change in her life. She was growing bored of living at home, and due to her grades and area of interest could practically go anywhere she wanted. She ended up settling on moving to the University of Toronto.

Joan’s focus would be a mix of engineering and neuroscience. She was more curious about the neurological response to the movement of limbs. She decided to investigate how changes in positions, resulted in changes to states of mind. To do this, she would need to build artificial limbs and figure out how to get them to respond to user feedback.

Over the years, the girls work progressed with the typical ups and downs of academic life. The direction of their work, for the most part, stayed the same. However, they adjusted their research as needed and became more specific in their goals.

As Jane approached the end of her program, she had developed a non-invasive headset that was able to detect changes in brain activity. This activity was matched with body actions. In a sense, by recording activity and calculating patterns, she was able to make accurate predictions about expected arm and leg positions.

Joan ended up developing an artificial limb that could respond to cognitive signals. But, she had to use already existing technology to capture those signals. The technology was bulky and unmovable. However, it made great sense of what users were thinking and translated that feedback into movement. Her limb was also able to give feedback and keep balance despite the noise in cognitive signals coming from the headset.

Both ladies successfully presented their findings and were awarded their degrees. At the same time, they were both equally unsure of what to do next. Seeking some community feedback, they both submitted their research and headed to the ‘Brain Body Machine Conference.’ Due to their expertise, they would present in different streams and rooms, but would still be at the same conference.

Joan presented her findings to a half-full auditorium. It wasn’t that her work wasn’t significant, it just wasn’t as exciting as some of the other work presented at that time. Practicality makes the world go round but isn’t what grabs people’s attention.

Jane’s presentation was later that day, but unlike Joan’s, the auditorium was full of people. Her technology, though simple was groundbreaking for the community. The future applications seemed enormous and would fuel the bleeding edge of the growing industry.

After Jane’s presentation, someone approached her and said “You are impressive. I saw your other presentation earlier this morning. You’ve got your hands in lots of different baskets.” Jane paused for a moment and replied: “You must have me confused with someone else, this was my only presentation.”

The person looked confused but went on “I’m sure it was you. Well, I thought it was you. She had the same voice, hairstyle and look. I guess her clothes were a little different, but the style was the same.”

Jane stood there in confusion, and wondered how such a person could exist? She hadn’t met anyone like her before, nor had she heard of someone who looked like her either. Jane thanked the person for the compliment and took a walk to clear her mind. After stepping outside for a few minutes, she headed to the cafeteria to grab something to eat.

Jane got in line and picked up a sandwich and a drink. She walked along to the cashier and paid, then looked around for a place to sit. Jane scanned the room from left to right, when someone caught her eye. She looked again and noticed the back of someone’s head who was wearing a similar outfit and had her hairstyle.

Primed by the previous conversation, Jane headed in that direction. When she got closer, she could see the side of the other woman’s face. Jane couldn’t help but notice she was looking at a mirror reflection. She even had the same arch in her nose, and her eyes were the same shape and colour.

As Jane approached, Joan looked up and stared into Jane’s eyes and mumbled ‘WTF.’ Jane took a seat across from Joan and said: “I never knew that I had a twin?”

Jane and Joan knew they had both been adopted, but they had no idea they were twins. After that first meeting, they realized how much they had in common. They discovered that they liked the same types of books and movies. They also realized very similar things inspired their works.

When they got home from the conference and brought up what had happened with their parents, things were cleared up. The circumstances of their adoptions had been chaotic, so everyone thought it would be best to keep it a secret.

When it came to business, they realized that their works would go hand in hand. They also realized, that with a little bit of collaboration, they could turn their research into a fantastic business.

After some organization, they approached Jane’s parents and asked for an investment. They used the investment to create a company called J-Squared. In a short time, their company became the leading producer of mind-controlled prosthetics.

climate change - fear porn

Fear Porn

The internet and TV news is jam-packed with fear porn. Fear porn is stories and ideas that intend to fill us with fear. Unfortunately, many of us are addicted to this kind of information and even seek it out. Even though it isn’t good for us, or even what we want, we keep consuming it, either by choice or because it is the only show in town.

I recently read an article in the Guardian, that was about a woman who decided she wasn’t going to have children because of climate change. The article went into how there is a growing number of people who shared and follow this ideal.

The general position of the movement is that people are the problem. Or better yet, too many people are the bane of all the earth’s ailments. This means to followers that having kids contributes to the existential crisis of global warming. Halfway through the article, it is pointed out that having fewer kids will not have much of an effect on climate change. In essence, the assumptions about the problem are deeply flawed.

It Is About Fearing The Future

At this point, the article changes it’s tone and goes into how these people believe the world is going to hell and that the future will be horrible. It explains that the amounts of pollution going forward, is going to be severe and temperatures will be so high, that the world won’t be a safe place. I may be exaggerating the point, but the general sense is that these people believe we are in environmental end times.

I get the feeling that many people fear that the world is going to hell. Some also believe we are destroying everything mother nature has given us. Along the same lines, some people think we are essentially creating a lifeless future.

No doubt, this could be a possibility. But it seems that a lot of the information we get from the media is full of a sense of fear. This fear, in turn, encourages us to stay inside and avoid all the terrible things that might happen if we go out. Being stuck inside and afraid of going out, we consume more media that then fills us with more fear. As evidence of this, my mother warns me about going for walks at night; she believes it is dangerous to be outside after dark.

It may be true, that the world is headed to hell in a hand-basket; and all our fears could be real. But public intellectuals like Steven Pinker, a Harvard Professor, suggest we live in the safest most peaceful times in all history.

Blame The Media

But the mainstream and alternative media are trying to make us believe the opposite. It is not all their fault; we seek it out and love junk about how terrible the world is. As an example, look at the popularity of true crime stories. These stories are manufactured entertainment about horrific events. In this sense, they make crimes more real, even though most of us would have forgotten about them.

The media is part of the problem; no doubt they make a point of focusing on how horrible things are. In part they have to because that kind of content pays the bills, fixed eyes are great for advertising. And to some extent, this is what people want, at least that is what gets them to read and watch more. And these days, in a world led by ad-clicks and attention, content creators have no other choice.

Of course, amazing things are happening all the time, but they don’t pay the bills, so they get less coverage. But even worse, when it does get covered, we tend to write it off as cynical or sad. In a sense, a lot of good news is instead a different kind of bad news.

Could This Be Fear Porn

This brings us back to the idea of fear porn. I can’t say the only reason why people watch porn is because they want quick and visceral sexual satisfaction. But that seems to be the case and is also the case with fear porn. Rather than beating around the bush, fear porn jumps right into inciting fear.

The reasons why fear porn is so popular may have something to do with our biological responses to it. On one hand, it may induce a fight-or-flight state into our minds. Equally terrifying, we may live in a society addicted to the stress hormone cortisol. Either way, fear porn appears to exploit these two systems for nefarious purposes.

I am an occasional consumer of fear; my flavour of choice tends to be financial information. I’d argue that it is true, but in reality, it is nothing more than fear-inducing facts. You could even argue, it serves no purpose other than filling me with fear about the future. The facts may be accurate, but I can’t do anything to stop what is coming, so being fearful makes little sense.

Watching this kind of ‘news’ makes me feel strange, but afterwards, I seek similar feelings. Along the same lines, I have a friend who is into AI and automation, for him that is the kind of fear he seeks. This is like my fear of the economy and the lady from the articles fear of global warming.

The lady in the article was avoiding having children because of the hellish future she saw. I would suggest, that the only way one could have come to that kind of conclusion, is by watching way too much fear porn.

This isn’t to say the concerns of fear porn aren’t real, who knows what the future will bring. But, all this fearful information is hurting us and making our lives more stressful. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are at memorable highs, yet statistics show, this is one of the safest times in history.

It seems the personalized internet has created a market for fear. Because of this, we end up needing or getting more of it all the time. This pollutes our world views and makes it seem like the world is worse than it is. Like any addiction, growing desensitization leads to an increasing need for a stronger dose.

We Can Get Over The Addiction

If you discover you have picked up a fear porn addiction, it is best to accept that it is happening. From there, you can make a point of trying to control it. The biggest problem with this kind of addiction is that it fills us with fear. But it also convinces us into thinking we need more info as things can only get worse. Of course, we may have an accurate view of the future, but the future isn’t here, so what’s to say we are right? Even more, why worry about things we can’t control or do anything about?

From my personal experience, realizing I was addicted to fear, helped me get over it. Once I changed my consumption, the algorithms picked it up and suggested different content. This, in turn, makes it easier to avoid the fear I was consuming in the past.

It is natural to fear the future because the future is unknown. But rather than seeking lousy news, we should try to create a better world today. Forget about the ‘facts’ and focus on what you can do now. If the future looks terrible, stop looking to the future and focus on making now better. If you can make now better, then the future will follow. It all comes down to the idea that you can only make the world a better place by focusing on what you can do yourself.

Knowing that clicks and attention drive our online lives, it is fair to say that someone is profiting off of our fear. If that is the case, how can we even be sure we are being told the truth? Could instead our fear be feeding the beast in an attempt to increase profits? Either way, too much information about a terrifying topic isn’t doing us any good.

If the above doesn’t work, look around. Things are way better than they seem from the information on our screens. Try it for a day or two, avoid everything online and only watch what happens around you. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how peaceful and calm the world is. Life may be getting worse in some ways, but it is also getting better in many other ways.

We should avoid or ignore fear porn, then it will be easier to embrace a more positive outlook. Because after all, the world is a pretty safe place for most of us.

Korean Spicy Ramen Challenge

Korean Spicy Ramen Challenge

Over the weekend my family and I went to a Korean grocery store. This isn’t a new experience, as we often go to these sorts of stores. With our mostly Japanese diet, there are many ingredients that we can’t find at a regular grocery store, so a Korean one is our best bet.

One of the stores that we often visit tends to have free samples, when something looks good I always give it a try. For some reason, it must have been the time of day; there were more samples than usual. Often, they fry oyster mushrooms, but this time that wasn’t the case. Instead, in the same place, there was something different.

At the time, I was with my daughter and figured she couldn’t eat it, so I avoided the sample and walked around the store instead. As we finished up our grocery list, I told my wife we needed some Kimchi. She said “You’d be better at picking it,” so she distracted our daughter. Usually, my wife has the shopping list, and I’m the designated distractor.

As I walked through the store, I took the long way and grabbed as many samples as I could. When I got to the kimchi, I looked at the different options and opted for a smaller one. I love kimchi, but it tends to smell up the fridge before we can get through it. At the same time, my desire for it comes and goes, so I may eat it every day for a week, then not touch it again for months.

As I walked away from the kimchi, I realized that I was beside the free sample I had wanted but avoided earlier. The girl at the stand looked at me and said, “Korean Spicy Ramen Noodles?” I took a look at the noodles and picked up one of the cups. The girl handed me a small spoon. Without thought or consideration, I scooped up the noodles in one bite. As I chewed them, they didn’t seem all that spicy.

The girl watched me and said, “Aren’t they hot?” with a serious look on my face, I said, “Not much.” She smiled and nodded with a look of surprised, then said “Wow!” At this point, I’m not sure what happened, but I acted without thinking and said, “You know what? I’ll take one.”

I reached over and grabbed one of the packages of noodles, turned around and started to walk away. The girl called to me, “Wait. You get this drink for free when you buy the noodles.” I turned back, and she handed me some clear flavoured drink. Not knowing what it was or wanting it, I took it anyways.

Afterwards, I wondered why? Was it because she didn’t think I could handle the heat, or was it because I wanted to prove how strong I was? Maybe my ego or sense of self was being challenged, and I had to buy the noodles to prove something.

As I walked away and headed back to the cash registers, I felt a little bit of spice on my lips. After a few seconds of this, I sort of thought the flavour had gone away. Maybe my mind was somewhere else, and I wasn’t thinking about it.

When I found my wife she pointed at the noodles and asked: “What’s that?” Trying to justify my purchase, I said: “Oh these are the Korean Spicy Ramen noodles Micheal (my old co-worker) told me to try?” She looked at me questioningly, in the way she usually does when she doesn’t approve of the snacks I’m buying.

As we piled our stuff onto the cashier’s conveyor belt, I started to second guess the noodle purchase. And thought to myself, “why am I buying these?” When I lived in Korea, I could handle the heat, but that was a long time ago. More recently, we rarely have anything spicy. I also thought back to the last time I tried Korean Shin noodles. They are a less spicy variation, but even then I didn’t enjoy them as much as I used to.

While I reconsidered my experiences from the past, I realized my lips were getting hotter and starting to burn. I can’t be sure if they were getting hotter or I was paying more attention to them. Regardless, it wasn’t enjoyable, and it wasn’t only my lips; my whole mouth was now on fire. “What the hell did I eat?” I whispered to myself. “Why am I such a wuss when it comes to spicy food?” I thought.

The longer we waited in line, the more I noticed the burn. As the cashier started to scan the groceries, I realized I had no other choice but to give up. I picked up the noodles and drink and in shame said, “Please take these back. I can’t handle the heat.” As I said this, a sense of relief flowed through my body. The cashier took the food products without comment and placed them on the counter beside her.

As we walked through the parking lot, my mouth was still burning. But I felt better about not buying the noodles or having to eat them again. Inside the car, my wife pulled out Korean rice cakes and handed me one. Eating the slightly sweet chewy treat cleared my mouth of the spice and put me back in a normal state. I thought out loud, “This is the kind of Korean food I like.”

As we drove home, I came to realize that I failed the Korean Spicy Ramen Challenge.

about being back in school

Having Dreams About Being Back In School

I’ve recently started keeping a dream journal. Keeping a dream journal is something I have done in the past, but have found a new passion for recently. One of my first observations is that I have a lot of dreams about being back in school. Some of these dreams have found me at grade school, others at high-school and some in college.

Reading A Book About Dreams

The reason I got into recording my dreams again, is that I read a book on the science of dreaming. It talked about all the different scientific discoveries related to dreams. This included information about how lucid dreaming was first verified as a real phenomenon.

If you aren’t sure about what lucid dreaming is, in the most basic sense, it is becoming aware that you are dreaming. Many people may have become aware of this idea because of the movie Inception. Inception is about corporate espionage done through tapping into peoples dreams. Though taking control of your dreams the way they did in the movie is a very advanced form of lucid dreaming.

As for the verification, it was done by observing eye movements that had been previously agreed upon. The idea being, that while someone is lucid, they can look around in their dream, following a pattern. The assumption was that those eye movements would be observable in the real world. The experiment was successful and created a foundation for further research on the topic.

Dreams Are About Balance

One interesting idea from the book was that dreams are a way for our minds to deal with the events of our day. In a way, dreams provide us with a way to try and make sense of what has happened. Or, they can be a way for our minds to find balance with what we have experienced. In this sense, they even us out psychologically. This balance can be helpful when things aren’t going well, but it can also provide balance when things are going good. There is also the view that dreams are a way for our minds to reinforce the things we already believe.

In the extreme, when a dramatic event happens in our lives, dreams are there to help us deal with those emotions or help us work them out. From this perspective, reoccurring dreams can be there to get us to take actions on things we have been ignoring or refusing to address. At the same time, they can occur to remind us of the feelings they are inspiring in us. This last explanation is interesting when it comes to dreams about being back in school.

Due to my reoccurring dreams about being back in school, I decided to look up the meaning of those dreams. Many of the descriptions I found suggested that these dreams are reflecting our emotional states in school. The explanations, also said that these sorts of dreams are often negative because many of our experiences in school were negative. School might not have been bad, but for many of us, it was the first time we experienced challenges.

In this sense, we have dreams about school because we are experiencing similar emotions as we had back then. If your life is stressful now, then dreams about school might be a reflection of the stress you first had while you were in school.

For me, my dreams aren’t so negative. But many of them are about missing a class or having an exam or assignment that I am not prepared for. These kinds of themes seem pretty typical from the various dream descriptions I read.

The Meaning Of Dreams About Being Back In School

Putting this in perspective, it would have been stressful to miss an exam or not be ready for an assignment. So our minds have created associations with those emotions and experiences. On top of all of this, because they happened early in life, they are a sort of emotional foundation for many of us.

That said, on a grand scale of potentialities, I could imagine much more stressful dreams, then those about school. At the same time, work isn’t as stressful as school was, at least in part because I’ve been able to work out ways of dealing with it. On top of this, surprise exams aren’t that common anymore, but unexpected events might be.

I get the impression that many of our first emotionally significant events happened while we were in school. Now, our minds use those experiences to try and give context to what is happening in our lives now. When we are young and in school, we lacked experience, so everything is new and an opportunity for learning. As we get older, we have new experiences, but now our minds try to fit them into the templates of our past. This isn’t to suggest that the things we learnt in school were any more important than what we learn now. Instead, they are the first experiences we have so that makes them significant.

Missing an exam would have made us feel unprepared and unready for what was coming. Having a similar experience now feels the same way because it reminds us of those memories. Our school experiences would have been our first glimpse of ‘real life.’ Other things could have happened since, but for our ‘work-life,’ exams and assignments seem like a perfect predecessor.

Saying this doesn’t mean I’m sure that this is the cause of our dreams. The truth is, we don’t often know what our dreams are about, and many factors often influence them. But if we humour the view that a lot about what we know in life came to us as kids. School is the archetypal setting for lessons to be learnt.

What These Dreams Mean To Me

Using that idea and being honest with myself about what these dreams mean, it likely has to do with the time I spend on my writing. As a child in school, writing was often a traumatic event; it would have been a massive point of conflict and self-doubt. Those same emotions are likely haunting me now. Subconsciously, I may be wondering if my work is good enough. Further, it could be about questioning if I am living up to the standards I’ve set for myself.

From my perspective, these interpretations make sense. That said, these aren’t the only possible explanations. What else could explain these reoccurring dreams about being back in school? I’m not sure, but I’m not in school these days, nor am I considering it, so any explanation would likely link back to learning.

Have you had dreams about being back in school? What do they mean to you? Let me know in the comments below.

horoscope was right

My Horoscope Was Right!

Most weeks I check out my horoscope, but this week my horoscope was right. It isn’t so much that I believe in them, or think they are real. But they are usually positive and motivating in some way. I know the argument, horoscopes are written so generally that they apply to everyone. I also realize that they come from random people on the internet, who get paid to make up positive statements. But these facts don’t concern me. No doubt they are valid criticisms, but they don’t have anything to do with why I read my horoscope.

Horoscopes Aren’t That Crazy

In a philosophical sense, there is no denying that the day you were born has some effect on the life you live and the person you become. For a quick affirmation of this, consider the book Outliners by Malcolm Gladwell. He talks about how when looking at successful Canadian hockey players, a majority of them are born in the first few months of the year. From personal experience, I can verify that being born at the end of the year makes a lot of things more difficult. I played hockey as a child but was always smaller and weaker than my teammates. By the time I caught up in size, it was the next season and a new league. Once again I was one of the youngest kids on the team.

The thing is, much of life is influenced by coincidences of time. Sure they are often human conceptions, like age ranges for school or hockey teams. But, there is also something deeper to all this, that is not a human creation. Take, for example, the seasons. Being born in the summer versus the winter must play some role in the people we become. For one thing, consider the different foods our mothers may have eating because of the seasons.

All in all, it would be difficult to make an argument that could stand the strict regiment of science, but it doesn’t seem all that crazy a claim to make. When we are born during the year, has some effect on who we become. How much it matters in comparison to genes and other factors would be harder to quantify. Regardless, when we are born is a part of the equation. I’m not claiming that the things a horoscope says are right, only that there is some foundation behind the idea. After all, the idea of a horoscope must have come from somewhere, right?

My Horoscope My Life

Now that we have our investigation of horoscopes out of the way, we can get to the story. A few Fridays ago, I was talking to my manager about work and asking him questions about our company. He seems pretty open-minded, so I can be honest with him. He knows that I like to write and am working on some books. While we were talking, I mentioned my dream was to write books as my job. We also talked about how I’ve been afraid to take chances and do things out of the norm.

In particular, we talked about houses, I said I’d like to buy a home, but they are too expensive in this area. He said I could get out of the GTA or move to another province where prices are more affordable. I said that was an interesting idea, but I couldn’t do it because my family wouldn’t be happy about it. With that idea, we got into talking about doing things because we want to live a life for other people rather than ourselves.

That point resonated with me, because after I had graduated from college, I considered moving back to Korea and teaching English. It wasn’t so much that I liked the job, but rather the different lifestyle and adventure. At the time, that was what I was seeking, yet, that was also the kind of change I was afraid to make. I didn’t pull the trigger because I was worried about what other people, my family and peers, in particular, would think of my life trajectory.

Back To Work

After the conversation and over the weekend, I was working on my book and editing a section related to being yourself. In that section, I talked about jobs and career paths. I point out that we sometimes do things because they are valued by others, rather than being what we want. The advice I was suggesting in the book, is the same advice I should be following myself, but am sometimes afraid too.

After those events, I returned to work on Monday and checked my horoscope, like I usually do whenever I remember it. For context, I work at a media company that publishes horoscopes every week, so those are the ones I read. To be consistent, it seems necessary to point this out.

Based on all the things that happened the week before reading the horoscope, it seems to make sense and be on the same wavelength as me myself. Again, I acknowledge that this is a coincidence, but it still seems too accurate.

Here is what my horoscope said:

You’re the first one to admit that you often end up living your life according to the expectations that others place on you, rather than following your own needs. The New Moon in Aries will stir up the independent spirit within you. No longer will you feel invisible. It’s time to stand tall and make yourself known as a mover and a shaker. Work out your own requirements and make them a priority. If your head starts to spin and your emotions swirl, you’ll know that you’re doing the right thing. You’ll soon be celebrating. My horoscope’s source.

Of course, this isn’t perfect, and I do look at them every week, so I have fifty or so chances a year to find a match. But still, this seems too accurate to be random.

What exactly it means was yet to be determined. But the coincidence of coming across this horoscope after having that conversation is far too significant to ignore. I had something big on my plate at that time, and that was undoubtedly influencing my perspective. But would that awareness make a difference, at the time it was still to be determined. Regardless, it would be a good idea for me to try to be more conscious and aware of what I want. It would be better for my sanity if I were to ‘live my life instead.’

The Horoscope Relates To My Life

It has been a few weeks since I originally wrote this story, but a couple of things have come to light. The first is that my manager announced that he would be leaving his job and moving to another province. An interesting turn of events considering the advice he gave me during our conversation. As for myself, I was oftered a great job, which if I were to do what other people expected of me, I would have taken. But knowing I need to do what is best for me, I decided to stay at my current job. Reason being, it gives me more time and less stress so that I can focus on my goals as a writer.

In some ways, this may seem like a leap. But at the same time, that horoscope helped put the job opportunity in perspective. I considered taking the job, and the reason was that in the rational perspective of having a successful IT career, it would have been the best choice. But that isn’t what I want, and that would be living up to other peoples expectations over my own. On top of this, the week that I was considering the job offer was one of the most stressful weeks in the last year or so. My head was spinning and my emotions were swirling. With that in mind, writing this story is more in line with my wants and desires. By writing more stuff, I am getting closer to the life I want.

Surely things like this don’t only happened to me. Have you had a similar experience with your horoscope? If so, let me know in the comments below.

benefits to walk

10 Benefits of Walking

We all do some walking every day, and for the most part, it is a normal part of life. But have you considered that walking, outside of being necessary is also fantastic for your health? Let’s talk about some of those benefits. Here are 10 benefits of walking.

1) Great For Your Physical Health

There is little doubt about the physical benefits of walking. Walking gets your body moving and gets your blood flowing. Also, walking is a low-intensity workout that can be done conveniently and without any equipment.

Walking is good for your body as when you walk, you are getting exercise, and so you are burning calories. At the same time, you are strengthening your bones and burning fat. You are also giving your body a chance to move. Moving around gives you a chance to stretch out your muscles and joints. It also helps you feel better about what you have done with your day, as you’ve gotten out a moved around.

On top of this, physical activity and your physical health are related to many conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, getting enough exercise helps prevent diabetes and heart disease.

Walking is a great way to get your body moving, this is especially important when you spend most of your time sitting down. Sitting down, in some ways is comparable to smoking in the adverse effects it has on your body. For this reason, walking is the perfect antidote and will undoubtedly make a difference if you aren’t already doing it.

Regular walking is excellent for your physical health. Not only does it strengthen your body, but it also helps you keep fit. On top of this, it helps prevents some of today’s leading causes of death. These benefits are even better, as walking is low intensity and doesn’t do the same damage to your body that other activities can do.

2) Great For Your Brain

Walking is excellent for your brain, however, this isn’t something you might commonly consider. We tend to see walking as a physical activity that is mostly good for our bodies. But then again, the brain is a part of the body, so this makes perfect sense.

Walking helps get the blood flowing, as mention before, but this is especially good for the brain. Proper blood flow helps improve circulation which brings blood to the brain. Blood flow carries glucose and oxygen to the brain which helps it function better. Bringing nourishment to the brain is good in that it helps create new neurones, which in turn improve memory.

Also, the creation of neurones strengthens white matter. White matter is the stuff that connects different parts of the brain. In a sense, the improvement of white matter and neurones helps you think faster and more clearly.

There is also research from the University of Illinois which suggests that improved blood flow also improves myelin. Walking and enhanced blood flow is essential for healthy myelin. Issues related to poorly functioning myelin include Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.

One thing to keep in mind with these conditions is that it is great to stay active when you are younger. Activity has all kinds of benefits for you right now. But remember as you get older, the negative consequences of not taking care of your body get worse.

Walking is excellent for your brain for all the same reasons that it is excellent for your physical health.

3) Helps You Lose Weight or Maintain it

Everyone knows that exercise is good for our health. We also know that exercise helps us lose weight. But we might not put two and two together when it comes to walking, because walking seems so causal and non-intensive. However, that isn’t the case, as walking is a great way to help you manage your weight.

If you aren’t getting any exercise at all, walking is a great and easy way to introduce some activity into your life. Walking although it is low intensity is still exercise, and any exercise is better than none.

Walking is especially helpful when you are overweight, as the heavier you are, the more calories you burn while walking. The intensity of a walk is also important. However, as a general rule of thumb, a 30-minute walk will consume between 90 and 200 calories.

If you aren’t burning any extra calories at all, then walking for 2 hours has the potential to burn 800 calories. Also if you are eating healthy, this will surely help you lose weight. If you are already maintaining a healthy diet, walking will help you manage your weight more easily.

The scale of the benefits to your health of walking is going to depend on other factors as well. These factors include your current weight, diet and the amount of exercise you get. Regardless, a little bit of walking will go a long way in helping you maintain your weight if you are already eating healthy food.

4) Great For Creativity

Walking is excellent for your body and brain, but did you know it was also great for creativity. For regular walkers, this might not be too surprising. While walking it is common to think of different things that you don’t usually consider.

Walking is excellent for many reasons related to creativity. To start, it gets you out of your environment and forces you to see new things. Seeing new things can trigger memories or inspire new thoughts. Getting out also exposes you to things you hadn’t seen before or wouldn’t have seen if you stayed at your desk.

You could also say, that while you are walking, you are improving blood flow. For this reason, your brain is getting more oxygen and glucose which will help it function better. A healthy mind is more likely to have strong connections between neurones. These connections will help you come up with new ideas or connections while you are out in the world.

Researchers at Stanford University did an experiment where they asked participants to come up with a list of uses for an item like a shoe. They did this twice, once while the participant were sitting down and another time while they were walking on a treadmill.

What the researchers found, was that the participants came up with much longer lists if they were walking. An added benefit was that after the walk, the people were still more creative, so the effects of walking seem to last longer than the walk itself.

Overall, walking will help you be more creative, not only while you are walking but even afterwards.

5) Reduces Stress

Walking has many benefits when it comes to reducing stress. Walking will help you handle pressure and will cut down stress when you are stressed out. In many ways, stress is one of the leading causes of death, so a great way to live a better and longer life is to do the best you can to cut down on your stress.

One way that walking helps reduce stress is that it puts you into a sort of meditative state. We may all be aware of the benefits of meditation. However, research suggests that walks can get us into a similar state. For this reason, walking will help you cut down on stress and help you get into a state of flow. A state of flow is a state of focus and calm, which in itself helps drive away stress.

In addition to the meditative state that walking brings, it is also a great time to get out into nature. Studies have found that walking in nature, a park or forest, etc., is even better for reducing stress. Interestingly, this is still the case if you aren’t enjoying the walk or if it is too cold. The underlying idea is that walks help reduce stress, improve focus and memory.

Another reason why walking helps reduce stress is that it boosts your bodies release of endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good and are known to reduce anxiety, mild depression and improve self-esteem. Your body wants you to feel better, so by walking, and exercising you are helping the body do what it is supposed to do and releasing the hormones that make you feel better.

In addition to the benefits of releasing endorphins, walking also helps you feel less tired. Being less tired is excellent as it will help you deal with stress and other negative emotions.

Finally, walking can do an even better job of reducing stress if you walk with friends. Walking with someone else may seem more interesting, yet at the same time, it isn’t something you may usually do. That said, being with friends will help you feel better. It will also give you a chance to talk about the things that are on your mind and potentially causing your stress.

Now that we are halfway through our list of 10 benefits of walking let’s move on to the next five items.

6) Helps Improves Mood

In a lot of ways, walking will improve your mood. You could say, the improved mood is similar to a reduction in stress. In other words, if you are stressed, and you are doing things to get to ‘normal.’ Then doing those same things when you are in a ‘normal’ state will help you feel better.

Assuming there isn’t already too much on your plate, walking is going to help you feel better in general. But even if you are too busy or stressed, taking a break and going for a walk will make you feel better.

Researchers at Saint Xavier University found that doing similar tasks while sitting or walking gave different results. When people are asked to watch a boring video while resting, they will get less enjoyment out of the experience. Whereas, if they are to walk while watching a similar video, they will feel better and are more uplifted afterwards. These studies accounted for many factors by telling the participants that they would need to write a paper later. They also did the research in the same room, so that the exercise equipment was always present.

Walking has been found to give people a sense of engagement. So if you go for a walk before doing something you aren’t very interested in, you will feel more engaged because of the walk. Related to this, walking, in general, will make you feel better. Meaning that walking before doing something will help you feel more involved and confident about the experience. In general, all of these things will put you in a better mood.

7) Helps Increased Productivity

Walking has great benefits when it comes to improving creativity, decreasing stress and improving moods. For many reasons, these improvements will also contribute to better productivity.

That said, increased productivity comes down to the way you feel while you are working. With less stress, you are more focused on what you are doing. The focus will allow you to get more done and help you from drifting off onto other things.

Improved mood will help you work better with others. When you are in a good mood, you are less likely to engage in conflict or give a wrong impression to your co-workers. The idea being, that when you are in a good mood, you can be your best self. Meaning you will work better with your co-workers, and they will be able to work better with you.

As mentioned before, when improving your mood, you will also work better because you will be happier and more satisfied with what you are doing. Often, work can be exhausting and uninteresting, but being in a good mood enables you to be more engaged even if you don’t want to be.

Another benefit and something similar to what we will talk about in the next section has to do with walking meetings. If you walk with your co-workers, you can work out issues or figure things out in a less stressful environment. At times, the workplace can sterilize conversations, so walking is an excellent antidote for that.

8) Great For Your Social Well Being

For me, this is one of the best things about walking. Though at the same time, it isn’t something I do very often. I usually find that I often go for walks alone, but when I do walk with someone else, we often have great conversations.

When you are walking, there is a lot less going on, than if you were sitting in a coffee shop. In a busy place there are lots of people around, so distractions are plentiful. Also, there are phones and other electronic devices that distract us and disengaged us in our conversations. Walking outside is the perfect environment for a discussion because it lacks all those distractions.

On top of this, walking gives you an opportunity to spend time with your friends or family members. Like mention above, walking is an excellent opportunity to focus on the people that you are with at the time. Meaning you can concentrate on the conversation with less of the typical distractions found at home.

Walking in itself is healthy, and spending time with the important people in your life is also healthy. So doing both of these things together is going to have cumulative benefits.

Exercise and positive social experiences will help you release endorphins which will make you feel better. Better still, spending time with friends or family while walking will improve everyone’s experience.

A relationship is nothing without time spent together. Going for a walk is an engaging, cheap and healthy way to spend time with someone. For this reason and those above, walking is a great way to help maintain healthy relationships.

9) Soak Up The Vitamin D, Breathe in the Fresh Air

One of the most obvious benefits of walking is the time you spend outside. There are some factors to consider, but in general being outside means, you are going to be getting fresh air. Also, seeing the sun means you will be getting vitamin D as well.

For obvious reasons, these benefits are going to be more prevalent when you are walking in a forest or park rather than in the city. It is also going to work better if it is the sunny season and a non-cloudy day. But all in all, these are only a small part of the equation.

The benefits of fresh air are enormous as fresh air helps you clear out your lungs and get more oxygen. It also helps you with digestion by increasing the oxygen in your bloodstream. Increased oxygen is also good for your heart and blood pressure. Also, it helps with your immune system and makes you feel happier in general.

Vitamin D has all sorts of benefits as well. According to WebMD, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium which strengthens your bones and body. Vitamin D is also significant because it reduces the risk of various types of cancer and heart disease.

Another thing to consider is that you can take vitamin supplements, but the best sources are always the more natural ones. So in this case, sunshine works best.

Walking outside in the sun is excellent for your health because of all the fresh air and vitamin D you get.

10) Reduces The Risks of Old Age

For all of the reasons listed above, walking is an excellent activity for your body. The more you take care of your body today, the better shape you will be in as you get older. For this reason, walking will do wonders for helping you maintain a healthy body into old age.

Some special considerations for old age are those concerning certain types of cancer and body strength. As people get older, their risk for many different kinds of diseases increases. Bone strength is essential when it comes to osteoporosis and conditions related to ageing. Keeping fit will put your body in a better position to deal with these potential complications as you grow older.

Another thing that happens as we get older is that we tend to become less active. While you are working, you have no choice but to move around to get from place to place. But when you have less to do, you have fewer reasons to move. For this reason, walking is going to give you extra exercise that will potentially make a big difference.

Walking is also good for your social health in old age. I know my mother, who is now retired goes on a walk every day with her friends. Walking together is an excellent way for them to get exercise and spend time with their friends. If they weren’t walking, they might feel more isolated. A common problem for older people is the feeling of isolation, so walking with friends is a great way to combat that.

Overall, the benefits of walking are all the more critical as you get older. So as you walk more, you will live a more healthy life today and in the future.

What do you think of these 10 benefits of walking?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it undoubtedly covers a lot of things. Do you know of other benefits that I may have missed or overlooked? Are there other reasons why you may walk that don’t have to do with these benefits?

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

finding money on the road

Finding Money On The Road

You could say, I’m lucky when it comes to finding money on the road. I used to find lots of money, not only coins but bills, big bills, 5’s, 10’s, 20’s and even a 50.

It could have had something to do with how much I walked. I used to walk all the time, a couple of hours a day. But then again, it even happened, while I was on short walks with my wife in our neighbourhood after dinner.

At other times, I have even been known for finding money on the road while driving. I stopped the car, backed it up a little, opened the door and picked up three 5 dollar bills. My mother and wife were in the car and asked why I was stopping. They were both astounded when I showed them what I found.

My wife also has a collection of money she has found on the ground, loonies($1), toonies($2), dimes, nickels and quarters. If you were to add it all up the money she has found, it would amount to twenty dollars or so.

For full disclosure, finding money on the road is something that has been happening since I moved to the city, a little over five years ago. But in the last year or so, I’ve not been finding money on the road as much as I used to. My lifestyle has changed significantly, and I don’t walk as much. Also when I walk, I am with my child, so I tend to focus on her rather than the things going on around me.

Recently this happened.

My manager, who sits next to me, was organizing an office baseball game. He bought all the tickets and was collecting money from the people who had signed up to go.

On Monday, another co-worker, named Sarah came to his desk to pay for her ticket. I joked with them both by saying, “Can I use Bitcoin to pay for mine? Who even carries cash these days?”

Sarah replied, “I always keep at least $40 in my wallet. It feels like something is missing if I’m not carrying some cash.” I thought about this and realized that recently I haven’t been carrying as much cash as I used to, in fact, I rarely have any cash on me as I always use a credit card.

I told Sarah about how I always used to have luck finding money on the road, the details of which I mentioned above. I finish off my story by saying “Now that I don’t carry cash, I don’t believe in it the same way as I used to. That could explain why I don’t find it so much these days.”

Sarah and the manager laughed at my wishful thinking. Then Sarah said, “Now that you are seeing money changing hands, you can believe in it again. Hopefully, this will help you find cash again.”

Maybe this is a Real Thing

I agreed and suggested that seeing things happen made them more believable and likely to happen again. Sarah said, “Isn’t that kind of like when people say they are thinking of someone and then that person calls?” I wasn’t exactly sure about the connection but remarked that there was actually some research on that phenomenon. Some researchers had suggested that it was a real thing. When test subjects got a random call from a selected list of callers, they correctly guessed who was calling them more than would be expected by random chance alone.

After the conversation, I thought more about the idea and how I would need to go to the bank to get $20. At the same time, I didn’t want to do that, because I’d have to get way more money, and I didn’t want to be carrying around cash at work.

Then something happened.

The next day I picked up my daughter at daycare as I usually do. We stopped at a shop and bought some vegetables, then continued home. As it was summer, we always walked back, so this wasn’t any atypical behaviour.

Halfway home, I spotted something in the grass. I slowed down and took a look. It was a MetroPass, which is a monthly transit card in my city. I leaned over and picked it up, realizing that it was for this month, which was great as there was still a week left. I looked around to see if there was anyone it could belong to, but there wasn’t anyone about. That said 100’s of people could have walked past that very spot over the last day or so.

In the past, I had found a metro pass under similar conditions. I tried to list it online to see if anyone would claim it, but everyone who replied was trying to scam me. When I gave up trying to find the real owner, I brought the pass to the city transit ‘lost and found.’ The guy working there gave me a strange look as did the other people waiting in line. At that point, I knew there wasn’t a way to get the pass back to the actual owner.

At home, I left the MetroPass in the cup holder of my daughter stroller and started making dinner. When my wife came home, she said: “You left your MetroPass over here, don’t forget it.” I explained that it wasn’t mine and went through what had happened. She asked, “what are you going to do with it?” I said, “I’ll bring it to work tomorrow and see if anyone wants it for $10.”

MetroPass into Money

A little while later, while we were eating dinner, my wife said, “I posted the pass you found online. Someone wants to buy it tonight for $20. Is that ok with you?” I replied, “That’s fine, I didn’t really have a plan for it anyway.”

After dinner, and after we had finished our chores, she headed to the subway station to sell the pass. When she came back, I was meditating with my eyes closed. She placed the bill in front of me, beside my timer so I would see it when I finished. Upon opening my eyes the twenty dollar bill was there, and I had ‘found’ money again.

At last, my long streak of not finding money on the road was broken. That said, twenty dollars is a decent amount of money and exactly how much I needed.

The icing on the cake.

The next day at work, I took my seat and waited for my manager to return from his meeting. When he did, I handed him the money and said: “You’ll never guess where this came from. I found it on the road yesterday.” He laughed considering our conversation from two days earlier, though I’m not sure he completely believed me. I said, “I’ve been blessed by the ‘finding money on the road’ gods.”

A little later, Sarah was walking by, and I told her about what had happened. She pointed out how seeing the money changing hands must have helped and laughed at the strange coincidence. I then made a joke about how it was kind of like magic and said: “The world we see has something to do with what we are thinking about in our minds. When we think about things, they happen.”

Another co-worker walked by and asked what we were talking about. I told him my story, and he replied: “As you get closer to nature, you notice more of those kinds of connections.”

Later in the afternoon, Sarah was walking by again. She turned to me and said, “I have to tell you something about our conversation from two days ago.” Sarah went on to say that someone who she had been thinking about sent her an email. She hadn’t heard from them for a couple of years, so it really was random. Finally, she pointed out that this was precisely how she had described my money finding situation earlier.

She said, “After our conversation, I went back to my desk and noticed the email. I was taken aback by our conversation, your coincidence and mine.”

But is it magic?

Some people may write off these stories as either being made up or being some kind of random chance occurrence. Although these are plausible explanations, they miss the point. This all did happen, and I have myself and two other witnesses to confirm the facts. But also, it was not just a random chance as it was meaningful to me in the context of what I had talked about.

The thing is, these kinds of synchronicities happen all the time. It is only a matter of us paying attention to them. Surely, they aren’t magic in the made-up sense of the word, cause that would imply they were some sort of illusion. But they are magical in the mystical sense of the word, which is something we often write off as childish.

There often seems to be some kind of magical force going on behind the scenes. It is not like everyone is always finding money on the road. I’d say, at the very least being aware or welcoming such occurrences helps them happen more frequently. So rather than writing off this story as something made up, see it as the basis for some kind of belief or magical way of thinking that can help you.

Try not to disregard these kinds of things, as they are real and happen all the time. If you want them to happen more often, you need to open your mind and be willing to let the magic happen.

Are you someone who is often finding money on the road?

Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

science in a lab

Pop Science vs Real Science and Scientism

Scientism is the belief that we have everything figured out. In some ways, it is a problem of pop science vs real science. It suggests that we understand what is happening and assumes there is nothing new under the sun. Simply put, it suggests we know everything there is to know.

Scientism goes deeper, it is the belief that we can quickly explain everything around us. In a sense, there are no hidden forces at play. In other words, it is the idea that we know everything there is to know because of “science.”

Many people, mainly non-scientists tend to hold this belief. Meaning it is often regular people who think they know how the world works. When they talk about a topic, they may say things like, “that isn’t scientific” or “science doesn’t back that up.”

The truth, however, is that these people don’t know much about real science. Often people are fixated on an inaccurate ideology that try to explain how the world works. Even worse, the truth is that people often don’t understand the basics of our day to day experiences or science in general.

There Are Many Unknowns

So much of what we think we know is unknowns or incomplete sets of facts or data. It is estimated that there 45 billion different types of bacteria in the world. So far only about 1 million have been identified.

It is the dominant belief in the scientific community that the universe has more matter than can be explained by observation. So it is assumed that there must be some other type of matter, this additional source is called dark matter. But dark matter has not yet been discovered or observed. In a sense, it isn’t genuinely known to exist, but the math says that it should.

We all walk around with the assumption that we are consciously experiencing the world around us. However, science hasn’t yet found the seed of consciousness or been able to completely map out the parts of the brain that create awareness. Scientists have been able to figure out how parts of the brain relate to parts of the body and functions, like speaking. But a complete overall assessment is not something we can expect anytime soon.

The broader universe is often missing from our understanding and explanations. Put into perspective, we are a tiny little dot next to another tiny dot, next to a vast open space with billions of other small dots. The thing is, we are so small and know nothing about what is happening on all those other small dots throughout outer space.

The point is that there are so many unknowns, that surely we can’t comprehend how much we truly know. Even worse, we don’t know what we don’t know. Being fair, in many fields, like microbiology, as described above, we could say we know less than a fraction of a percent of the facts.

What People Think Scientists Do?

What scientists do, is hard to say, as it isn’t always clear. But there is a seeming belief that scientists know a lot about everything. They are often seen as the authoritative source on all questions related to science, any science at that.

Take Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson as an example. These guys are so-called superstar scientists, although only one of them is a trained scientist. They are often seen on TV and talk about what they know and think. People have faith in their expertise and feel that they are valid sources of information. In many ways this is true, they know lots of things, but to what extent are they an authority on what they are talking about?

People also have a vague sense of what a scientist is due to what they see on TV shows and movies. We like characters like Sheldon Cooper and the other personas on Big Bang Theory. But these are more extreme examples of genius or nerds, rather than scientists per se.

What do Professional Scientists do?

Scientists are generally super experts on super specific niche topics. Which is to say, a scientist may be an expert on the electron spins of a particular atom. Or how species of insects, birds or bacteria interact and reproduce.

To do this, a scientist tends to spend years working hard at making a discovery in a particular niche. Sometimes they even spend years replicating work that has already been done. Or they make developments that are a small addition or update to an already made discovery.

The point is that professional scientists are looking at something very particular. So they spend years becoming a specialist on something that only they and a few others know about. They are not experts on a vast range of topics; instead, as a scientist will tell you, they are experts on something very particular.

All this said, training as a scientist teaches people to realize how difficult it is to know something for sure. For this reason, scientists are often more aware than regular people of how little they truly understand and comprehend.

How is Scientism Applied?

This is the problem, often people don’t know the facts or don’t do the science. They may say they have heard things on TV or read summaries in magazines, newspapers or on the internet. But most peoples knowledge is often limited to what could be called pseudoscience.

Consider the Gell-Mann amnesia effect, which is described as “the phenomenon of an expert believing news articles on topics outside of their field of expertise even after acknowledging that articles written in the same publication that are within the expert’s field of expertise are error-ridden and full of misunderstanding.” [wikipedia] The Gell-Mann amnesia effect is an example of the problem with pop science vs real science.

To honestly know something you must ask an expert or read the original research, but then you only know the facts about one particular perspective. Also, you won’t know all the facts, just some. Science is more of a dialectic than a one answer fits all. There is also the risk of trusting too much in the expertise of other people. Are they indeed an expert in the topics they speak about? Do they know anything more about the subject than you do?

Where Do We Find Scientism?

Scientism often applies to complicated systems or topics that science can’t explain or make sense of. It is true that we can’t prove that God exists, but it is also true that we can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. Herein lies the problem, is the god question even a testable hypothesis? If it isn’t, then it isn’t a topic to be covered by science and is instead a question for a philosopher.

A perfect example of pop science vs real science is Global warming. Inevitably humans pollute and make a mess of the planet. But it is difficult enough to predict tomorrows weather. How can we be sure about a substantially more complex global weather phenomenon? This isn’t to say climate change isn’t a real thing, just that it is incredibly complicated and saying that science has an answer is missing the point of what science can tell us.

Scientism is taking hugely complicated issues, and saying they are solved by science. At the same time not ever having read a single scientific paper nor understanding the methodology or interpretation of the results for yourself. Science and the world are incredibly complicated, the simple answer is often straightforward for a reason, and that is that it isn’t accurate.

More Could Be Possible Than We Think

People often discredited strange ideas quickly based on the assumption that they are not within their expectations of what is possible. It is easy, to say that something has been explained or isn’t real because it hasn’t been proven by science.

But the problem with these sorts of statements is that they are founded on the assumption that the question has been asked. Even worse, often the person making the comments rarely have been exposed to accurate information on the topic. For most people, this is a matter of pop science vs real science. Popular science is what people hear about, real science is mostly out of mind.

Undoubtedly, specific facts have been proven false by science, but on the other hand, many questions have never been put to the test. And that is a concern, how much science has to be done before we can say the science is out on a topic?

Take astrology as an example, admittedly the simplified representation of it sounds fake. But how would you create a valid experiment to test it? How would you gather the evidence, and how would you test your hypothesis? Has anyone done this before? Is it even worth doing?

This is the predicament with many complicated questions. We can’t test them, at least not quickly and they often aren’t profitable enough to honestly examine. In many cases, we can stick with the pragmatic Occam’s razor, which states the most obvious and straightforward explanation is usually correct. At the same time, without evidence, we don’t have an affirmative, just an assumption.

Most of the things we take for granted as being false or fake haven’t been considered, and we have no real reason to believe them to be true or false. We just don’t know. But then, if we are honest, we don’t know many things, and in fact, we hardly know anything. But that isn’t the way we usually act.

Maybe We Don’t Know Much About Anything

This is the thing; science has mostly gone after the low hanging fruit, it has only tested the obvious and practical. There could be way more things to discover, and there are tons of things we know nothing about. This being the case, we should assume that we don’t understand rather than being sure that we do.

We often have the false sense that us humans have got everything figured out, but that just isn’t the case. It is quite the opposite, we hardly know anything about the world around us and are often only grasping at straws.

We can look to experts, and they can give us answers, but for a lot of questions, they are just as limited as we are. I’m not suggesting that you avoid a doctor when you are sick, rather know when an expert is indeed an expert and when they are a talking head.

In truth, we don’t know what is possible or what is right, because, for the most part, the science is still out.

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