Tom Petty, AM Radio, Heavy Metal, and Motivation

“If you ask me, you are both off the mark.  Last night was about two people ruled by very powerful superegos, tortured by them, who found a chance, however misguided, to break through and rediscover their ids together.  Call me an old softy, but that’s how I see it.” – Frasier

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The Boy and Pugsley dancing in the rain, which makes my id sing.

I’m not sure exactly when I first heard a Tom Petty song.  Where I grew up was media vacuum.  On TV, we had three channels, plus PBS® (Who watched PBS©?  Nobody.).  Unless it was nighttime, we only got two radio stations, and both of them were AM stations.  One played country music, so, for me it might as well not have exisited.  The other played a complicated mix of top 40 from four years previously, news, and an hour of mariachi music at lunchtime.  It signed off (shut down) at 11PM.

But at night . . . at night the mighty KOMA blasted out 50,000 watts of rock and roll at 1520 on the AM dial, the ionosphere conducted the signal hundreds of miles and back toward earth and over the mountains to my house.  It’s probable that I first heard Tom Petty on some cool summer night (down to 50 ˚F most summer nights).  Maybe it was “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

But Tom was always a bit older than I was, both in age and in the issues he raised in his musical themes.  Me?  I gravitated toward metal, mainly hairy metal, Ozzy™.  Mötley Crüe®.  The Scorpions©.  Despite the previous list, what I liked wasn’t all hair metal.  I liked “normal” music, too.

I ended up on a strange quest:  I’d heard a song, once, and I’d try to tell people what it sounded like, and say intelligent things like “it goes Da Da Dadum dadum de-da dum Ohh-Aiii-Uh . . . Uh.”  The record store clerk would nod knowingly, and point to a cassette or album.  It would turn out to be Judas Priest™.  Which I really, really liked.  Or Molly Hatchet©, which was kinda okay.   I would dutifully buy the tape or album, zip home (first on my ten speed, later in my pickup) and then listen to the album.  Normally, in the first song I would know if it was the same singer.  Always the answer was it wasn’t.  But these mistakes were beautiful – I can still remember sitting on the couch on a dim, overcast day, the clouds pregnant with snow that had yet to fall, blasting “The Hellion” and thinking . . . “okay, life is really cool.”

Imagine that this song played every time you entered a room.  I imagine Google® is working on that.

Again, none of them were the band I was looking for.  I think I spent $300 or so on every single album that featured leather, scantily clad females, and Spandex® that I could find.  For reference, I had all of these as either cassettes or albums.  Album cover copyrights belong to their respective corporate overlords.

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Funky font?   Check.  Picture that looks like something the disturbed kid drew in art class?  Check.

dio

Satan?  Check.  Priest in glasses being thrown into a pit of fire?  Check.

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Hmmm.  I don’t know about you, but something screams, John Wilder, BUY THIS ALBUM NOW!

raven

Spandex®?  Check.  Leather?  Check.  Canadian?  Check.  But . . . they’re dudes.  I bought this on cassette, so, thankfully, the picture was tiny.

heavy-metal-soundtrack-album

Swords?  Check.  Giant flying leathery chicken?  Check?  Leather . . . on a girl this time?  Check.

AliceCooper

Wow.  Just . . . wow.

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I never could figure out what sort of naughty thing they were supposed to be doing.  In the day.  At a drive in.  With both feet out the window.  Probably ripping the labels off of pillows?

Until . . . like Columbus I discovered what was already there (and broken up by the time I found them): Led Zeppelin.  True Fact:  Christopher Columbus first discovered Robert Plant picking onions in a Nevada prison camp, and introduced him to Jimmy Page at a ballet class, but would take no credit because he wanted Led Zeppelin to do disco music.

So, I listened again to Zeppelin. “Yeah, it might be that guy singing?”

It was.  It was this song:

This was the song.  Yay! 

But I’d have to special order the album, since they didn’t have Led Zeppelin III in stock.

Nope.  Too much commitment.

As you might have been able to tell by the artists and album covers above, my musical tastes were driven by my id.

If you don’t remember your Freud, he broke the brain into three bits:

  1. The Super Ego, which, like your dad, is for criticism and moralizing.
  2. The Ego, which is the organized human who lives on the main floor and deals with society in a realistic manner, and
  3. The Id, where all base instincts (Sex, PEZ® and Rock and Roll) live in the basement of your brain.

I listened to a lot of rock that was id driven.  And why not, I was working on a multi-decade winning streak.  Sad songs were for people who occasionally lost stuff.  But Tom Petty’s music was deeper.  It spoke to the conflict between the Super Ego and Ego, an intellectual and emotional conflict I really didn’t have.  I was riding high on year after year of success, slaying dragons and charging the castle.  Why would I question anything?  Party on, dudes!!

It wasn’t that Tom and I didn’t get along – he was no Bruce Springsteen or Johnny Depp, who are both dead to me.  They know why.

Really, it took life kicking me in the teeth more than once to move me from the normal reckless abandon that I attacked life with to a person who asks the kinds of questions that Tom Petty discusses in his songs.  I still recall having a conversation with The Mrs. when I began to realize that I liked Tom Petty:

Me:  “You know, the older I get, the more I understand Tom Petty.”

The Mrs., shaking her head, raising her voice a little:  “Can’t hear you . . . blow dryer on.”

But now Mr. Petty is speaking to me again – he died.

It’s not unusual for rock stars to die young – it’s like we pick an unstable, talented personality and then shove massive amounts of cash at them.  I’m just surprised that 90% of them aren’t dead by 30.  Just my luck that after the apocalypse the Twinkie®, the cockroach, and Johnny Depp will still be around.

But Tom Petty won’t be around, even though The Postman (movie) promised me that he would be.  His death hit me (oddly) harder than I’d anticipated.  He hadn’t been my life’s soundtrack, though I’d clearly been listening to him more recently.

He made it to 66.  According to the CDC, 83% of white non-Hispanics will make it to 67.  Only 1% of 66 year olds die.  If you make it to 66, your mean life expectancy is to make it to 86.  So, from this data, he died early.  But he didn’t look out of shape.  Far from it – he’d just finished a part of a concert tour comprised of 50 dates in five months, which can take a toll on 26 year olds, though I presume at 26 it’s the Jack Daniels® and late nights and not the (presumed) warm tea, oatmeal cookies and obligatory cellophane wrapped butterscotch hard candies that old people like that filled the Heartbreaker’s dressing room.

Though Mr. Petty was quite a bit older than me, I guess his death hit me like it did, because even at 66 it seemed he should be too young to die, just as his voice entered my soundtrack with a greater frequency and volume.  It makes me feel that much more mortal, and therefore more committed to getting into the best shape possible now so I can be in the 50% that make it to 82 years.

Tom Petty inspired millions in many ways – through emotional ups and downs.  He inspired artists everywhere that they could pick up a guitar and play and that their music would, like his, give them a slice of immortality.  And guys like me who want to keep runnin’ down our dreams.  I think this is the part where I get the dragon, right?

Thanks, Tom.

Income, Happiness, and Bad AC/DC

“See, this is what we call an all you can eat buffet.  Here you can eat all you want for just $6.99.  That why everyone comes here on Tuesday nights, except for Kenny’s family because for them, $6.99 is two years’ income.” – South Park

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The purpose of having money is so you can afford to buy things like this. 

I remember having a negative net worth and still enjoying most parts of life.  I had my health, my youth, good friends, PEZ® and meaningful work.  I also remember sleepless nights worried about how I was going to pay this bill or that bill.  I clipped . . . coupons.  And used them.  I’m so ashamed.

Let me back up.

I was married before The Mrs., as I’ve mentioned before.  That relationship ended (which made both of us happy) but my previous spouse had been in charge of paying the bills.  On her last day in the house she handed me a bulging plastic grocery sack filled with bills.  She then handed me a checkbook in a blue plastic cover, the sides of the cover starting to crack at the point where the cover bended to open and close the checkbook.

“I have no idea how much money is in the account,” she said.

The answer was, “not much.”  The first bill I pulled off the top of the stack was a credit card that hadn’t been paid in several months.

Wow.

I got out a spreadsheet and started to add up bills.  I made a list of minimum payments.  I made a pretty ruthless budget ($4 a day for food for three?) and . . . went to work.  I took a loan against my 401K and paid all the back payments due on the accounts.  Lots of Hamburger Helper®.

But was I happy?  Well, yes.  My friends said that I hadn’t looked happier in years.  And I felt happy.

Now there has been no time in my life where I couldn’t afford to feed my family.  Were there times when I was a week of payments away from being at zero cash?  Certainly.  Did I have an emergency fund?  Not really.  I could have played the alternate-bill game, slowing payments for the electricity so I could pay the gas.  I could have maxed out my credit cards, sold family heirlooms, sold plasma, sold a kidney.  I could have averted bankruptcy for a few months.  Emergency fund?  No, a catastrophe spending plan.

Thankfully, it never came to that.  So, a negative net worth and a happy life?  Sure.  I was young:  the future was wide open.

But you don’t have to trust me.  Actual Nobel® Prize-winning economists (Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahnemann) did a study where they tried to measure the impact of income on happiness.  And, they found (in 2010 dollars, which were less plump and firm compared to today’s inflated dollars) that happiness was maximized at a household income of about $75,000 (that would be $85,000 in today’s dollars).  People’s perception of life increased with more money (they thought they were doing better) but they weren’t any happier.

I then began to wonder what factors might influence whether or not $85,000 is enough?

  • If you’re paying a huge proportion of your income on debt, it will prevent you from spending on other things.  In my personal example, I had debt, but I also had a plan:  work like the devil to pay it off.  Each retired credit card or past due bill was a little victory.  There are some forms of debt, though, that are worse than others.  The king of bad?  Student Loan debt.  While education is valuable, the only way to default on a student loan is to die, and I think that’s pretty extreme to get out of a bill.
  • Location, location, location. New Yorkians and San Franciscainites would scoff at $85,000 per year.  Their homeless rat-catchers make more than $85,000 on a bad year.  I tried to come up with a city that might be near the national average for cost of living:  I ended up with Reno, Nevada.  To replicate $85,000 in Reno would require $184,000 in Manhattan, and $143,000 in San Francisco.  I’m not sure that this really covers it, because the average house in San Francisco per this survey was $1,000,000, and the last time I looked, $1,000,000 buys you a house with 830 square feet in San Fran.  750 square feet in Manhattan.  My college apartment was larger.  No free range children there – you probably have to stack cages to keep more than one.
  • What does your future look like? This is going to impact your overall contentment.  Feel like it’s all over and the dark of winter of your life is at hand?  Or is it just dawn, and you’re looking at a warm spring day with a lifetime ahead?  Your perceptions of yourself, your potential, and your future influence your contentment.  Grumpy old men?  Yeah, they think that they’re at their winter and are angry that you’re limber enough to touch your toes.
  • Number of Kids/Parents to Support. Have you ever spent money to buy food for a seventeen year old defensive tackle/noseguard?  I have seen The Boy get up from a Sunday dinner and go directly to the fridge to see if there’s anything to eat.  How many ribeye steaks can you eat?  I’ve seen him eat three.  After three or four bratwurst.  These are not exaggerations.  I went shopping one Sunday with The Mrs.  We had a shopping cart filled with food.  She looks at me.  “This is just for The Boy’s lunch.  One week of his lunch.”  He has a little brother, Pugsley, who will soon enter Junior High and the high calorie consumption of testosterone and a teenager.  Then there’s college.  There are cars.  Spending money.  Have a dozen kids?  Yeah, $85,000 for the household seems a bit sparse – you might need to sell some for medical experimentation.
  • Medical Expenses. The Mrs. listens not to my entreaties that her insulin costs nearly as much as gold per shot.  She’s all, “Well, if I don’t take it I’ll die.”  The Mrs. has a really crappy pancreas.  But if you have medical expenses that are very high?  Forget insurance – it’s been awful for years – it’s like paint made for the government:  it’s expensive and covers nothing.  Have enough of these issues?  Jimmy Kimmel will cry for you, and $85,000 might seem woefully small.  Note:  substituting “homemade” insulin is not recommended.  The Mrs. did NOT think that was amusing.
  • Hobbies.  Sure, they’re optional, but we’re talking about being happy.  I like collecting 17th century glassware.  And then using it for practicing skeet shooting.
  • Spending Habits. Being on a budget sucks – the discipline it takes to plan and scrimp and save is rough, but it’s better than homelessness . . . .  Sometimes you don’t get to pick the Sam Adams® and have to just pretend Natty Lite© is awesome.  My previous post on the money philosophy of Mr. Money Mustache, Financial Samurai, and Early Retirement Extreme still applies (LINK).  Read it.

The Kinks understand that nobody likes being a cut-priced person in a low budget land . . .

So the $85,000 is above the median (half of the households above, half below) household income of ~$60,000.  As near as I can figure, $85,000 puts a household in the top 35% of income in 2017.  Again all of this research doesn’t prove you’re happy or unhappy at any income.  It just shows the sweet spot where additional income seems to stop adding additional contentment for most people.

I would (personally) guess a big predictor of long term happiness would be the amount of wealth that you had managed to save.  It would certainly add peace of mind, knowing that you had some long term money, and that would remove a lot of the day to day stress from unexpected events – job loss, sickness, needing to buy Cher concert tickets.

But can you have too much money buried in Mason Jars® behind your house?  Sure.  If it removes your incentive to work, does that remove meaning from your life?  I’ve seen more than one person retire and die a month later.  And you don’t have to be old to lose your purpose and give up, as Buzz Aldrin proves (LINK).  Not everyone will lose their purpose, and I really do recommend working until you’re sick and tired of it – that’ll get you in the right mindset to retire.

But higher income come with issues as well that might detract from the overall contentment that income earners get – don’t think that the $150,000 crowd has it easy.  Long hours.  Deadlines.  Job insecurity (average VP only lasts six years before being canned).  Travel.  Time away from the family.  Awful bosses (CEOs rank high on the range of socio-psychopath).  So, at some point, it’s probably better to live cheap rather than live a stressed out life.

Because the future is wide open . . . .

Some bonus content, since we’re thinking about cheap:

The following is almost nine years old, back at my old blog, Wilder by Far.  Here’s a link to the original post (LINK).

For your pleasure, I have transcribed an AC/DC™ tune Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, as written by William F. Buckley. Enjoy.

If you’re experiencing difficulty with the school principal
He’s making you quite sad
You wish to complete education without resorting to implied sexual intercourse
Here is a course of action
Grab a telecommunication device, I never leave my domicile
Contact me whenever it’s convenient
E-mail – Bonn.Scott73@acdc.com
I conduct my life through extralegal means

Hey

Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively

You are experiencing difficulty with your life partner
You have serious emotional depression over the relationship
He’s conducting a clandestine illicit possibly romantic relationship with someone with whom you share extremely strong interpersonal ties
You may feel so emotionally distraught that you cry
Grab a telecommunication device, I am currently not in the vicinity of other humans
Or come visit informally with no set purpose or agenda
Enter and remove thoughts about him from your mind
We will cooperatively either stage a fancy dancing party or partake of our own illicit romance

Hey

Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively

You have a female domestic partner whom you wish to no longer have contact with
But you lack courage to take action
Your domestic partner is continually argumentative and critical
Sufficiently so to make you question your mental competence
Grab a telecommunication device, leave your domestic partner without other human companionship
The proximate moment for you to exhibit some sort of courage is now
With reasonable financial remuneration, I would be glad to
a)perform a silent act of assassination while you pursue your own alibi or,
b)have an illicit romantic encounter with your female domestic partner
(the Internet is unclear here, I prefer version a since I see no reason version b would in any way bring the situation described to a favorable conclusion, but there is some scholarly debate)

Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively, yeah
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts and they’re performed inexpensively

Heavy quasi-stone masses intended to sink bodies when attached to the feet
Molecules containing triple-bonded carbon and nitrogen
Tri-nitro-toluene
Performed inexpensively

Ooo, common items used for the purpose of constricting the ability of a subject to breathe
Agreements to do wrong
Large differences in electrical potential
Performed inexpensively, eah

Nefarious acts, I will perform them without regard to what they are, performed inexpensively
Nefarious acts, nefarious acts, nefarious acts, performed inexpensively

Yaaargh

Happiness, Dilbert, and Suffering

“There are two kinds of pain.  The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain.  The sort of pain that’s only suffering.  I have no patience for useless things.” – House of Cards

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Talk about suffering . . . these guys fight to the bitter finish!

Suffering and evil.

They exist.

But so does happiness.

Scott Adams (the Dilbert® author/artist) even has a formula for it.  His post about it is here (LINK).  The formula as presented by Mr. Adams is pretty simple:

Happiness = health + money + social life + meaning

That’s a pretty short list, and a pretty simple formula, and, unwittingly those are represent three of the four items that I chose to feature on this blog – Monday Meaning, Wednesday Wealth, and WilderHealth Friday (yeah, that rhyme sucks, let me know if you have a better one) that this blog is thematically intended to address.  I guess that great minds must think alike?

Health

I believe Mr. Adams intended the list to be (more or less) in order.  For instance, if you’re on your deathbed, having money and a party with tequila-shooting 23 year old actual girl bikini models (you have to specify the “actual” part after 2016, I guess) in your room plus the Pope and Dalai Lama asking you for advice with their religious problems . . . okay, I’ll admit that’s not a bad way to go.  But the whole “going to die” in 20 minutes still turns the whole party into kind of a bummer, what with the dead dying guy and the Pope.  This Pope is not a party animal, unlike the last one . . . .

pope beer

Can I get an amen? – source, Internet, Provenance Unknown

Money

Money is second on the list.  Is it?  I think so.

Money cannot by happiness, but it can buy experiences.  It can buy leisure time.  It can create situations where you have a social life.  And, it can create situations where you create meaningful experiences.  And I’ve been with very little money ($70 in the checking account and $150,000 in debt) and have been out of debt, and I very much recommend having money.  If you’re healthy, that’s a great start.  If you’re healthy and have money?  You can get to the next bits.

Social Life

So, you’ve got health, and money.  Without anyone who cares about you, it’ll seem pretty hollow, since we humans are (mostly) social creatures.  Oh, I’m sure that you’ll bring up Grizzly Adams® but even he had his bear, Ben.

James_Grizzly_Adams_-_Towne_&_Bacon,_1860

In truth, Adams was just a businessman and shoemaker who made and lost several fortunes and died of an aggravated grizzly bear bite after a monkey bit him in the same spot five years later.  Normal, boring suburban life.  Picture source, Wikimedia, public domain.

Meaning

So, finally we end up with First World Problems.  Health is a common problem in the world, as is money, although I think plenty of strong families do get by without money, and even find tons of meaning during a simple life.

Weird Al talking about First World Problems.  Perspective, right?

There’s probably a sweet spot for income, too.  There might be a classic “Three Bears” problem of too much, too little, just right, but I’ll imagine it skews more towards having too much money.  We’ll hit the topic of earning “too much money” (really, probably working so hard and so stressfully that you die sooner) some Wednesday.

Meaning is important, and I can recall some occasions in my life where I had all the money, social connections, and health anyone could really ask for, and then I’d start thinking about meaning.  It was during those situations that I realized that mankind wasn’t horribly predisposed to contentment.  If it isn’t health, material possessions or friends, we have to have something to search for, and it turns out meaning is an easy one.

And I think that the search for meaning often shows up when we do have most of our comforts met – I know that some periods of personal success have left me feeling hollower and brought me back to looking for that deeper side of life.

The Other Side of Happiness

Some churches and religious folks preach that money and the good life is a gift from God, and I’ll agree.  But we cannot forget the gift that suffering is.  I’m not sure that there are many people who have been made better by having all that money.  But when a person has to go through a tough time?  Suffering exists, and difficulty exists, and they exist so we can vanquish them and emerge from the other side, better and stronger.

Is there suffering?  Undoubtedly.

Is there evil?  Certainly.

These exist.  And, we can use them, or rather, in vanquishing them, if we do it right.  If we don’t give in to despair when suffering, if we don’t become evil in vanquishing evil, then we emerge on the other side better for our journey.  And stronger.

At least that’s what I told the Pope and the Dalai Lama, but I’m not sure they heard me over the music.  And the Pope can totally drink tequila.  He’s a party animal!

Insulin 🙂, Glycemic Index and Weight Loss: Not so simple?

“Lord Walder let me choose any of his granddaughters, and promised me the girl’s weight in silver as a dowry. So I have a fat young bride.” – Game of Thrones

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I wonder what the glycemic index of ALL THE CAKE is?  Probably pretty high.

One thing I love about writing this blog is that I always learn something.  My favorite times writing are when, in the middle of the research that I’m doing that I find out something new that changes my conclusion.  Or, like today, when I think I’m pretty up on a subject but I end up finding out something that doesn’t change my conclusion, but changes the way I got there.  So, spoiler alert – I learned a lot, but my conclusion didn’t change.

When it comes to weight loss, it still comes down to what you eat.  For the last two and a half months(!) I haven’t been practicing what I preach – I strayed pretty far from the Paleo®/Primal©/Atkins™ low-carb type diet.  I’d give you my reasons and excuses, but I’m not in junior high anymore and am not really worried about stuff like that.  I’ve mentioned plateaus (LINK) before, and have decided to research the whole diet mess in greater detail.

Like junior high, it’s all about hormones.  Just not exactly the same ones as junior high.

The first and most critical hormone when it comes to weight loss appears to be insulin.  What is insulin, besides expensive?

Let’s take a step back before we answer that.  What’s a hormone?  A hormone is a messenger chemical that the loose agglomeration of organs that your body is made of use to signal each other.  They probably don’t have as much information as, say, a text message.  Think of hormones as the emoji’s of your body.  Keep in mind, these emoji’s don’t just go to one place – they go everywhere.  And do different things in different combinations.

The primary triggering mechanism (but not the only one, as we will see) to flood your body with insulin is the blood sugar level.  Your body actually can see the quality of your blood as it goes through your veins, probably through telepathy.  When the blood sugar level increases, the pancreas releases insulin.  Insulin is the 🙂 of your body.

So, let’s pretend you’re six years old, and the idea of eating a cup of sugar appeals to you.  Your blood sugar content rises, your body sends out a batch of insulin 🙂 .  This insulin allows the sugar (specifically glucose) into the cell to be converted into energy – unless your cells have plenty of energy already, in which case the glucose is converted into glycogen for storage in the muscles for when it’s needed.  If the cells and the glycogen storage are full?  Game over.  Let’s turn all that spare sugar into fat.

So, let’s eliminate insulin 🙂.  That seems easy enough.  No insulin, no fat.

Without insulin 🙂, your cells wouldn’t allow the sugar through the cell wall, and the sugar would continue to increase in concentration until your blood took on the consistency of maple syrup.  Just kidding – your body would dump the sugar through the kidneys, which the kidneys totes do not like – the ancient Greeks even had a name for this:  diabetes, from the words for “pass through” and “sweet.”  Really.

This is actually what happens with type one diabetics:  their pancreas stops making insulin 🙂 and then they get really skinny.  And then, if not diagnosed and given injections of life-giving insulin 🙂, they die.  Elevated blood sugar for long periods of time is really bad for you.  The Mrs. is a type I diabetic.  I tell her that she should stop being dependent upon drugs.  She hits me.

Insulin 🙂 is anabolic – it signals the body that it’s time to build stuff – in this case, fat or glycogen.  Fat is an especially potent storage form, it has about twice the thermal energy per pound or gallon (I could say gram, but I’m not a communist) as sugar does.  But, we should all recall that a calorie is not a calorie – your body uses them differently (LINK).

So, the insulin 🙂 wants to do something with your blood sugar – it has to or else it will kill you.  Part of the choice is yours – eat a batch of potato chips and lounge on the couch?  Right to the fat conversion.  Eat a batch of potato chips and go exercise?  Creating that caloric deficit is required to lose weight, but remember, you can’t outrun your teeth (LINK) even on a low-carb diet.

This forms the basis for the strategies in the Paleo®/Primal©/Atkins™ diets.  In Atkins™ the focus is entirely on elimination of carbs.  In Paleo®/Primal©, the focus is on eating things that are in tune what a hunter gatherer would have consumed back in the day, and a greater understanding of “insulin 🙂 reality” is a component of the diet.

It turns out that there is a list (a very long list that you can find here (LINK)) of what the Glycemic Index (I’ll just call it Index) of food is.  In this case, the Index is a comparison of how the food compares to just drinking 100 grams of glucose, the sugar that goes straight into the bloodstream without alteration.  So, glucose has an Index of 100.  White bread?  70.  Baked potato?  69, nearly the same as bread.  Carrots?  35.  Rocks and twigs?  0.  The Index tells you how much your food is going to go immediately to your bloodstream as sugar.

It’s a complicated system, and there appears to be no evidence that glycemic index values by themselves are a very good basis for a diet.  It does, however, provide a clue as to what causes an insulin response in your body.

A nice, juicy ribeye is composed of protein and fat (along with some garlic . . . mmmm).  The glycemic index of a ribeye is zero.  It doesn’t raise your blood sugar at all.  Let’s say you ate nothing but ribeyes and water for a week.  Wonderful idea!!!  You would not die, but you’d probably start to get sick of ribeyes.  After a year.

But when you ate the ribeye, your body would toss out insulin 🙂.  Well, it wouldn’t do just that.  It also tosses out glucagon (another hormone), which allows amino acids (protein) into the liver to be turned into . . . glucose.  It’s an example of how one hormone does many things, and, in combination with other hormones, does yet a different thing.  Maybe instead of emoji’s, hormones are more like a Rubik’s Cube® which each hormone turns the cube a different way and nobody understands except for Eastern European kids who have no social life.  Limiting this to just insulin 🙂 or even insulin/glucagon can’t tell all of the story, but it is a start.  If you overeat while on Atkins®?  Yeah, you can gain weight.  Thanks, a lot, insulin 🙂.

In a person who hasn’t developed diabetes (type II, the kind that old people get) this insulin/glucagon situation balances itself out.  And our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have a Dairy Queen™ to go get a Blizzard© at.  So, they ate their mammoth, some nuts, and berries.  Pretty low carbohydrate load and the insulin/glucagon balance didn’t create too many fat cavemen.

But we have Dairy Queen™, so modern us uses a lot of insulin 🙂 dealing with that sugar.  And the pancreas keeps pumping it out.  The response to that is that the cells start to ignore the insulin.  Oh, him again.  And then the sugar is stored as fat . . . and the negative cycle repeats, and the person slowly develops diabetes (type II).

But low carb diets improve insulin 🙂 sensitivity.  Working out hard and sleeping well increase sensitivity.  The best cure of all is to lose weight, though that’s not a guarantee to remove all negative aspects of loss of insulin 🙂 sensitivity.  Mark over at Mark’s Daily Apple® has a big list of suggestions on how to increase your insulin 🙂 sensitivity (LINK).

But it’s still a question of thermodynamics, and you’d have to eat a bucketful of broccoli to get to 2,000 calories a day.  Low carb diets just help you not be as hungry and are (in one respect) natural portion limiters, especially if you throw in lots of low carb vegetables as would be common with a Paleo® or Primal© diet.  (Fruits are harder, since we’ve bred them to be much sweeter over thousands of years.)

In the end, my advice is to treat life as you grow older like you treated life in junior high – work out hard, don’t ignore your hormones, and get used to hair showing up in weird places, like your back.

John Wilder is not a doctor.  Do NOT the take advice of anyone without first consulting with your physician, swami, healer, metaphysician, lawyer, and guru.

A Guide to Job-Getting, or, Interviewing for Fun and Profit

“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Merlin. You are about to embark on what is probably the most dangerous job interview in the world. One of you, and only one of you, will become the next Lancelot.” – Kingsmen:  The Secret Service

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These women were interviewing for the baby-catching position we had.  Neither was hired – since it was clearly in the job description that you cannot be made of metal, wood or stone.  But they caught 8 of the 10 babies!

This post is the result of a discussion I had with a relative who is getting within six or so semesters of graduation.  Please, do pass this link around since many college kids have NO idea that HR is the enemy or even how the hiring process works at a major corporation.  Or how to use a dial phone.  But the whole phone thing is beyond the scope of this post . . .

Previous posts have discussed (honest) ways to make money other than being an employee – and being Johnny Depp doesn’t count.  Chief among them are being self-employed (which is like a job, but with none of the job security), owning a business, or being an investor.  But most people want to work for a company, especially new college graduates.  Something about having a steady paycheck seems to motivate them.

Starters:  The Résumé

I’ve had the good fortune to review thousands (not an exaggeration) of résumës.  I know that there’s no umlaut in the word résumés, but I never get to use umlauts.  Between me and you shouldn’t the word umlaut have an ümlaüt or two?

I digress.  I’ve seen zillions of résumés.  Most of them are booooring.  Really boring.  Member of this.  Member of that.  Yeah, and for five bucks I could be a member, too.  This isn’t to knock the kids coming out of school – but, really, no one cares if you were part of the intramural interior mural team.  It all just blends together on the page and looks?  Yes.  Boring.

My friend Eric had a cool résumé – in it he mentioned working on a Christmas tree farm.  After we hired him, he said that people always referred to him as “the Christmas tree guy,” so he kept it on his résumé. And, honestly, for mental manipulation in the interview process, that’s wizard-level technique.  Most people have fond memories of Christmas, and Christmas trees from being a kid, even if there was that year that Momma and Uncle Luther stopped talking to each other due (in part) to a Jim Beam® fueled argument over who Grandma liked best and who took better care of her because they were more selfless.  Only saw Uncle Luther one more time after that, but I did get a cool Transformer® that year.  It’s probably best to leave all that detail off a résumé – it falls under the category of way too much information.  But Christmas tree farm is awesome.  Ahh, the smell of home baked cookies, bourbon, and regret.

The idea is that your résumé should have something unique on it – something that raises a question in the mind of the reviewer, and ideally the item should be pleasant.  But even if you’ve got a great résumé?  Chances are good that (if it’s even printed nowadays) that it’ll be discarded after about thirty seconds of review.  Why?  There are lots of other candidates, and it’s a numbers game, and lunch starts at 11:30AM and I want to get there just after they bring the Nacho Bar out before fat Carol from accounting takes all the sour cream.  Mmmmm, nachos!  Swipe left on this dude.  Let’s go!

Have someone you trust review your résumé to make sure that it looks good.  Typographical errors in the land of spell checkers are a killer.  In the old days, having a typo meant you were, at best careless.  Having a typo on your résumé today?  You’re careless and actively stupid.  Also, when handing out paper copies of your résumé, make sure that yours aren’t covered in small blood spots and a thin film of mucous.  (Unless you’re attempting to be a forensic dude for a police department, where that’s probably okay, heck, maybe even required.)

The job hunting process is stacked against you.  You have to compete to get attention from someone who cares less about you than the Nacho Bar, which is why most jobs come from personal connections.  You’ve worked with someone, they talk you up to someone who’s hiring.  Now, instead of a picture of a résumé on screen, there’s a real personal contact – someone who now has a vested interest in getting you through the process.  You’re a real person again, and not just a blood and mucous covered résumé.

As a new college graduate, the person that you and your prospective employer both know is the college you went to.  Often, people who went to that college lead the recruiting effort there, so they can do service for both their new company and their alma mater.  So, as a recent graduate, you are in a unique position – your college and its reputation is your ticket in.  So, if your college has never sent anyone to work at your dream company?  It will remain just that – your dream company, since it doesn’t “know” your college at all.

Perhaps the best position to be in is if your father is or has been President of the United States (Chelsea, Donald Jr., George W., you all are in that category) which makes you improbably employable, since everyone knows you.  You could spend your time writing a children’s book about how the Armenian Genocide was a good idea and they’d put that sucker on the bestseller list.

But back to unpresidential you:  let’s pretend you’re the lucky one and your résumé has been pulled out of the giant HR hat where they keep résumés and pull them out on mimosa Friday (every HR department has this).  What next?

One time they let Tom Petty wear the HR hat in a video.  Exclusive footage!!!

Likely you’ll get an email attempting to set up a phone interview.  They’re most likely not sure enough about you that they want to spend a lot of time with you, but they know enough about you that they want to learn more about the Christmas tree farm.  Given that, they’ll give you a screening interview.

Screening Interview

The screening interview is generally a phone call (or an on-campus interview) that’s almost never longer than 30 minutes or so.  Some are as short as 15 minutes.  I would routinely end the screening interview early if the candidate was obviously not as advertised, high on PEZ©, or in some other way disqualified themselves.

How else could they disqualify themselves?  A variety of ways.  Not picking up the phone when I called at the scheduled time.  Excessive snorting.  No one likes a snorter.  Not knowing all the names of the Three Stooges© and the Marx Brothers™.  Really fundamental stuff.

As a candidate, know that the phone screen is just that – a screen.  Your interviewer just wants a reason screen you out so they can delete your résumé and have more room for Call of Duty™ on their HR computer and also narrow the pool of people that they’ll actually have to talk to in person, which will obviously take away from Call of Duty® time.  If the interviewer is someone from HR, they’ll likely go through a list of qualifications for the job and look to see if there’s some reason that they can ignore you for the rest of their lives, or maybe trade you to the HR guy over at the company down the street for a weapons upgrade.

One phone screen where I was the candidate, I set everything up so I’d have some peace and quiet in my bedroom when it was time for the phone call.  The phone rang, and I picked up and started talking to the interviewer.  About a minute later, my two-year-old daughter picked up the phone downstairs and started pressing buttons and babbling into it.

Me:  “Excuse me . . . just a second.”

I ran downstairs, vaulted over the baby gate, unplugged the phone from the wall, and took the phone with me out of the room, and then ran back upstairs.

Me, to interviewer:  “Back.  And I have one less daughter now.”

The interviewer chuckled and went on through her questions.  Apparently the interview went well, since I eventually got a job offer and worked at the company for some years, and the interviewer even baby sat that same daughter.

I didn’t feel at all bad after that phone screen.  My theory?  If they didn’t have a sense of humor, it probably wasn’t the best place for me to work, anyway.

If you haven’t done so, you really should practice interviewing on the phone with someone who has done some interviewing.  You may think you’re pretty darn special (and you might be) but you might come off looking as articulate as one of the contestants on Family Feud® during the lightning round.  And not one of the smart contestants.  Practice makes us all better.

On Site Interview

After you’ve not been killed in passed the screening interview, you’ll get the opportunity to go and visit the company at their site.  What will happen next  . . .  depends.

Probably the norm for small and medium size companies is that HR picks interviewers based on Astrological tables, and the interviewers have had exactly zero training on how to interview.  Not only that, the interviewers might not even know anything about the job you’re interviewing for.  You can generally tell if this is that kind of random-shotgun-amateur interview if:

  • HR doesn’t give you a clue as to what to wear.
  • People are late.
  • Interviewers keep you over the allotted time.
  • The interviewer doesn’t know exactly where you’re supposed to go next.
  • The interviewer asks if you’ve seen any positions they can apply for.
  • If the interviewers ask lots of yes or no questions or hypothetical questions.
  • HR says it might be weeks before you hear back from them.

Working at a company like this will be as random as the process – they don’t have sufficiently developed business processes to make an interview go smoothly, or even share an idea of the qualities the company considers important when it hires to the interviewers.

Contrast that with a mature process:

  • People are on time.
  • Everyone has copies of your schedule and résumé.
  • The interviewer (or most of them) are polished and smooth, and the only yes/no questions you get are whether or not you want coffee, water, or a bathroom break (and everyone asks).
  • Every interview/conversation has a theme, and you do most of the talking and tell a lot of stories about your past. Sometimes even more than you expected to share.
  • The final interview of the day is with a VP or higher, and they’re pretty impressive.
  • HR gives you a very tight timeline on when you might expect to hear back from them, and they hit the deadline.

I’ve interviewed in both systems, and as someone attempting to get a new employee out of the system, I greatly preferred the second system – it produced a consistent quality of candidates.

In a polished interview setting like that, everyone gives feedback, everyone.  I had our department’s administrative assistant escort the candidate to the next interview.  It was neat, because she was very nice and the candidate, if they were going to drop their shields and act really weird, well, that was often when they did exactly that.  Some were rude to her.  One guy asked the administrative assistant if I was married (I never did figure that one out, and, no, he didn’t get a job).

As a new interviewer, I was awful.  I was disjointed.  I asked weird questions.  I might have seemed a bit intimidating.  I was not at all smooth in managing the interview time.  But I kept at it, and eventually the company added interviewer training and a guide to the qualities that they were looking for in an employee and with practice I got better – I’ve interviewed hundreds of people during my career, if not well over a thousand by now.

I learned that the most effective interviewing technique was behavior-based interviewing, where you had the candidate tell stories from the past, outlining how their behavior had created outcomes.  And it was amazing the stories that I heard!  I had candidates, during interviews, admit to stealing from previous employers.  And being trained in interviewing with lots of practice is sort of like having a superpower – the night I met The Mrs. I ran her through the interview techniques during our first date.  She ended up talking a LOT and told me most everything I needed to know.

On one occasion I was requested to interview a candidate and go through all of the topics.  Normally that took hours – like five, and it was done by five people.  It’s a really smooth process – and most people will tell you their innermost secrets if you ask them just right.

John Wilder:  “You need me to do what?”

HR:  “We only have half an hour with this candidate, and we need to know if we want to hire her.  We need a pro, and you’re the only one who can do it, John Wilder.”

John Wilder:  “But think of the cost, man . . . this will be a thoroughly unpleasant half hour for her.  Even if we want her to work here, she might not want to after that.”

The interview was probably the most horrific thirty minutes of the candidate’s life up to that point, unless she was born in a war zone (she wasn’t – she was born in Michigan, oh . . . wait).

The answer was no.  Even during that thirty minute session I’d ripped enough stories out of her that I would have been uncomfortable with her managing filling jelly doughnuts instead of the multi-million dollar responsibilities she’d have (and be fired for messing up) working for us.  A definite no.

That had been one of the hardest things for me when I started interviewing.  “Yes” is easy to say.  And it’s easy to see.  “No” was harder, until my friend (the same one who phone screened me) told me this:  “Remember, John, giving someone a job who doesn’t fit here is much crueler than telling them no.  You’ll have taken away part of their life that they could have spent doing something that they were meant to do.”

And she was right.  “No” became much easier, even a moral choice.

Since then, I’ve added one other criteria:  there is no yes but a “hell, yes!”  You should be excited about new people that you’re bringing into the organization.  One of them might be your boss someday.  Or your friend for life, like Eric, the Christmas tree guy.  Or Johnny Depp.

I think I need to talk to HR . . .

A Short Guide to Transhumanism and The Future of Society

“So it says here that you’re proficient in C++, code assembly for multiple processor architectures, and . . . that you are a cyborg?” – Silicon Valley

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What a Transhuman might see?  Or way too many filters?

Friday’s discussion of Ray Kurzweil’s (LINK) work on immortality was just part of a bigger picture:  it is one of the foundational principles of Transhumanism.  One definition of Transhumanism is the use of biology, information technology, nanotechnology, and cognitive enhancements to consciously and dramatically evolve humanity in a short period of time.  I know, I know, it sounds like a villain’s plot out of James Bond, but there are a dedicated group of people who are working to bring this about right now.

Transhumanists even have a magazine (LINK) called H+.  H+, for humanity plus, is also the abbreviation that is used by some for the movement to indicate Transhumanity.  And they’re working on achieving H+ now.  One of the more recent articles was referencing a study showing that planarian worms keep their memory after being frozen – something that might be important if you are researching how to bring yourself back after being frozen, like Kurzweil plans for after he dies, if he’s not immortal by then.

We talked about biology on Friday, and getting people to live forever (or a really long time) is part of the movement.  But it’s not just living longer, it’s also increasing life quality.  Inevitably, the idea of uploading a human consciousness (maybe after getting thawed out?) into a machine comes up, since human life is frail and we could build a robot body that’s tougher than a refrigerator, and faster than one of those shaky little Chihuahua dogs.  Having a cool steel body would allow you to be either a Prius® or a Corvette©, depending on if you liked the metric system or not.

But if you had your brain already uploaded into a machine, why bother at all with an actual body?

That’s a second possibility – just upload your consciousness and live in a hard drive.  Some folks, like me and Elon Musk consider it more than a little likely that we live inside a simulation right now.  My first post to discuss this idea was here (LINK) where it becomes the explanation for why we haven’t been contacted by aliens.  We’re either living in a simulation or we’re non-player characters in a very detailed video game.  At least you might be a non-player character, I know I’m real (not as sure about you).  Maybe it’s a multiplayer game?

The other frontier of study that is impacting Transhumanism is nanotechnology.  For about a year, everything was “nano” in every magazine, every news story.  It think that’s been replaced (for now) with “sustainable.”  But, outside of a cool techno band name, what does nano mean?  Roughly it speaks to structures between 0.000000001 meters and 0.0000001 meters in size.

“Nano” had its start when Dr. Richard Feynman put together a lecture that was titled, “There’s Plenty of Room at The Bottom.”  You can find it here (LINK).  In it, Feynman sets the stage for manipulation and eventual mechanization of really, really small machines.  In it he referenced biology as a template – we know that these small machines can exist at that scale, because cells exist and are functional at that scale.

Another place that H+ folks are working on is cognitive improvement – concepts on how to better improve the functioning of the human brain and make us smarter, either biologically, chemically, or through fusion with technology.  And not smart like “vodka Saturday night,” but really smart.  Chemical enhancement has gotten a majority of the attention when discussing the subject, but I would suggest that Google® has already provided a significant cognitive enhancement.  I recall having conversation in 1998 when The Mrs. and I were having an argument about something so important I don’t even recall the subject now.  My friend Matt looked at us and said, “Why are you arguing about a fact.  Look it up.”  After booting up the computer and connecting to the internet via a modem, one Hotbot.com search later, and we had a factual answer (this was before Google™ took the world by storm).  We haven’t had an argument over a searchable fact in years.

I argue that the most significant cognitive enhancement in human history so far has already occurred.  The Internet provides a massive amount of factual knowledge and computing power.  This power makes us all smarter, and gives as a much more of information far faster than at any point in history.

By nature, this vast variety of views makes us drift further apart as a nation.  When I was a kid, there were three networks, plus PBS.  Everybody in the seventh grade talked about the same show – we were all watching it – after all, Fonzie.  Cable existed, but it was mainly a way to get The Three Stooges©.  Now, it’s very rare to go in to work and be able to talk about a television show – I’ve got 200 channels, and I’m certain that nobody I work with is watching Escape from New York right now.  Given DVRs and on-demand, people might not even watch the same show in the same year as you.

On Friday I said that I thought that, even though the several aspects of immortality seemed to be pretty far off from a technical standpoint, I thought that there might be a way that some of the more crazy-sounding things might happen sooner than we’d think.

And there is – it’s called increasing returns.  Outside of standard medical science, which I think we can all agree is pretty stunted (LINK), there is a massive increase in technical knowledge going on.  If I can use an analogy – if you’ve ever done a really big jigsaw puzzle, it’s very slow to start with.  All the pieces fit with other pieces, but there are so many other pieces it’s difficult to find the connections.  But once a few connections start to go in, the picture starts to make more sense.  Eventually, as there are only a few pieces of puzzle left, they go very quickly.

And it’s been that way with technology throughout history.  Our knowledge as a species keeps growing over time – more links are made, and finally we solve one puzzle quickly.  We do run into physical and thermodynamic limits, like the total amount of energy one can get from a gallon of gasoline, or the amount of flavor that can be packed into a piece of Juicy Fruit®.

As we have more smart people on the planet now than ever before in history that can now pull information from the entire history of the world working on information system problems, we end up with far more than Uber – we’re near to having AI systems that that will be able to replicate most of the things that most thinking people do at work.  From truck drivers to managers to accountants.  A few key decision makers and people who do actual physical work that robots can’t do will be all that’s necessary to run a major corporation.  One corporation I was working at around 1999 got rid of hundreds of accountants – floors of a skyscraper were empty – not because business was bad, but because those people had all been replaced with accounting software, and purchasing software.

And this will increase with time, too.

The big idea of Transhumanism isn’t that we replace a bunch of accountants and purchasing managers – the big idea of Transhumanism is that we replace humanity with newly evolved Transhumans.  And there’s no fixed version of what the final, evolved version of us will be like.  It almost certainly will not look like us.  Beyond that, I’m not even sure what the viewpoint would be of 200+ IQ immortal cyborgs – what projects would they work on – how would they vote?  Would we even be able to communicate with them?  The final form of Transhumanity might be one where they instantly communicate, one to another.  They might look much more like Borg® than Boy Scouts.

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Bought a t-shirt with this on it for The Mrs. – she still wears it.  No one wants to be late for the Singularity!  (H+ Magazine)

Greg Bear wrote a great story (that he eventually turned into a novel) about combining intelligence plus cells using nanotech – the original short story can be found here (LINK).  The story describes increasing returns in a pretty unusual and chilling way.

We can’t know what the final form of Transhumanity will look like.  There is a mathematical definition that describes when mathematics and logic break down – like one divided by zero, or a black hole where gravity overpowers all other forces.  We call this a Singularity – and it’s clear that we cannot imagine what an all-powerful humanity would look like.  I just hope that they don’t get me in the freezer too late during the Singularity – I would hate to still be in the microwave when the Singularity hits.  That’s just bad form.

Who Wants to Live Forever? Ray Kurzweil, for one.

“No one lives forever.  No one.  But with advances in modern science and my high level of income, it’s not crazy to think I can live to be 245, maybe 300.  Heck, I just read in the newspaper that they put a pig heart in some guy from Russia.  Do you know what that means?” – Talladega Nights, the Ballad of Ricky Bobby

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This might be my best shot at living forever (that’s Pugsley and The Boy) – the apple isn’t too far from the tree.  And the tree has roots.  And those roots are me, and I need nourishment.  As in a glass of wine.  Hmmm, I’ll stop this metaphor right here.  And, yes, Alia S. MacWilder, and Zelda Wilder, you count, too.  I’ll be looking to all of you when I need organ transplants so I can live forever.

The past week had two posts about the debt:  (LINK) and (LINK).  The reason that I put those on Wednesday was that’s the day that we post about Wealth and finance related stuff.  Those posts were intended to work with this post and Monday’s post, since all of them serve to illustrate the aspects of the future that’s arriving quickly and will absolutely impact you, perhaps in most everything you do, and sooner than you might think.  You were expecting flying cars, but the future is much, much stranger than that.  Pig hearts!  Do you know what that means?

I think that one of the things that differentiates humans from animals is that from an early age we know we are going to die.  This shadow looms over us our entire lives, and there are constant reminders of mortality around us, from the seasonal shedding of the trees, to the passing of loved relatives – reminding us that we too are mortal.

And, in one sense, this mortality might be one of the greatest gifts to mankind:  it changes out the old for the new.  Imagine where our current and past politicians are the best we’re ever gonna see.  Regardless of where you sit politically, I know you barfed just a little in your mouth when you read that.  Death forces us to innovate, and to try to create a legacy that’s a capstone to our lives, because we all know that we only have so many days and, like a mayfly, we must do our work quickly lest it forever remain undone.  In the end, our lives are made up only of that precious, limited time.

But Ray Kurzweil wants to change all of that.  One of his obsessions (there appear to be many:  inventor, author, programmer, Sith Lord, PEZ® dispenser collector) is figuring out a way to extend human life.  And by “extend” he means “live longer,” but he’s attempting to change “live longer” to “live forever.”  As he’s about 70 right now, he has a vested interest in working as fast as he can to get progress . . . right now.

Right now one thing he is attempting to do is reprogram his biochemistry.  Kurzweil is attempting to do this by taking supplements.  Sure, like a multivitamin or two?  No.  At one point he was up to 200 pills a day.  Rumor is that he’s now down to under 150 supplements a day (LINK).  At that level of supplementation, do you even need to eat anymore??

I think I had the green pattern shirt that the goatee guy is wearing when I was in kindergarten.  It was a hand me down (back in the before-time, we wore crap our brother who was seven years older than us wore seven years before, because that shirt wasn’t worn out).

One of Kurzweil’s obsessions appears to be his company (LINK) (note:  I get NO compensation for any link on my site as of this writing, but Ray certainly does from his site) that sells his vitamins and his book.  And I have no problem with the man making a few bucks, and Ray seems to be committed to his lifestyle, so, be an informed consumer if you decide you want to buy some of his stuff, though I will warn you that his anti-aging multi-pack will set you back about $90 a month.  Which is not bad if it works.  I just ordered like $80 worth of stuff.  I’ll let you know what I think after I try it out.  Ray, if you’re reading this, take the $20 you just earned and buy yourself something pretty.

Going back to the list of supplements Kurzweil takes, one of them caught my eye:  metformin.  Metformin is a diabetes drug that appears to be gaining ground as a . . . wonder drug, but by accident.  The diabetics that take it get cancer only 40% of the time as their diabetic counterparts that don’t take it.  Additionally, they seem to stay well longer . . . they’re not as sick as the people not taking metformin.  They die of the same stuff (proportionately) but when they get cancer or heart disease, they’re older.

But, metformin only costs a nickel a pill since it comes from some French weed or something, but you have to have a prescription to get it.  There are a few dedicated doctors working to document the longevity benefits of metformin, but the FDA doesn’t consider aging a disease that you can cure with a pill . . . even though this one appears to have some pretty substantial positive effects.  My cynical mind says that this therapy faces headwinds – it’s cheap, it reduces very lucrative medical conditions (how much does chemotherapy cost???), medical research is not very good (LINK) and there’s nearly zero profit in bringing this off-patent drug to market.

But the promise of metformin is just one example of the breakthroughs that Kurzweil is anticipating.

His theory is that, right now, longevity treatments/knowledge/medicine are adding about a year of life for every year that goes by.  His goal is simple, live long enough to live forever.  And there has been interest in treatments like blood transfusions from young donors (I wrote about that here (LINK)) and a host of tech billionaires, like Peter Theil, are now treating longevity as a personal mission for their investments.  And to me that makes sense – if you’ve got billions of dollars that you made from making the world (and yourself!) wealthier, what better legacy to leave the world than longer life?  If you’re Mark Cuban, I’m not sure if you can spell any of that, but, hey, maybe his kids will invest well.  I’m hoping they can read better than him.

Kurzweil also has a contract to have his head frozen (or his body, my Magic 8-Ball® is unclear) after he dies.  No, not for fun, even though I hear that’s all the rage in Canada.  The theory is that, should they get to you fast enough and freeze you completely enough (and manage to minimize cell damage) that you’re still somehow in there.  Kurzweil was fairly optimistic in an interview about 20 years ago that we’d be able to bring back people from Popsicle™ Land© in 40 or 50 years, if they can peel the foil off and deal with the freezer burn.  And remember to pull the foil completely off the apple-cherry dessert thing.

If you translate that timeline to today, that would be only 20 or 30 years into the future, which seems optimistic to me, but just might be on time for reasons that we’ll go into on Monday (promise).

Why does Kurzweil want to go to all of this effort?  He preaches not only the gospel of living a long time, he wants to combine life extension with life enhancement.  Not only will your life be longer, it will be better.  I think this mainly involves being healthier, but one personal fear of mine is living on because I’m just too afraid to die.  To me, a life should be worthy of living.  If you’re not doing that?  You’re dead already, and no amount of Bookface© or Grand Piano Theft VII® will make up for it – you’re living a programmed life.  If it involves meaning, helping others grow, and killing alien invaders, dying gallantly like Randy Quaid in Independence Day® as we secure our victory against them?  Count me totes in.

But on the other hand?  Living because you’re afraid to die?  One case that I saw was someone who lived on for years merely because they were afraid of death – they liked pizza but wouldn’t eat it.  They like bourbon but wouldn’t drink it.  They like smoking but wouldn’t smoke.  It wasn’t pleasant to watch.  Me?  I’ll quote an earlier post (where I ripped off someone else’s line – it might be Stephen Wright):  I don’t ask for much – I just want to go out of this life like I came into it – screaming and covered in someone else’s blood.

And where does all of this end?  With, ultimately, uploading your mind, your consciousness into a machine.

Would that be you?  Would you still have feelings if your body was made of metal, your circuits gleamed?  Would a rose still look like a rose through tearless retina that could store exact HD memories forever?  Will Judas Priest sue me for paraphrasing “Electric Eye”?

True story:  I emailed Wozniak (who funded the US Festival, which is the featured concert venue above) and told him we needed to do it again, since I was too young to go.  As I understand it, the US Festival lost money.  I’ll give Woz credit, his folks responded:  “Ummm, thanks.  We’ll get back to you on that.  If we don’t, please understand that we did hear you, but just found your idea profoundly stupid.”  Actually they were polite.  But my idea was stupid.  Unless Woz really wants to do it again . . . .

I can’t really answer if machine you would even be you.  All the episodes of Star Trek® I watched when I was a kid would say, “No.”  Roger Korby created a machine to house his consciousness, but he wasn’t Roger Korby anymore.  Ray Kurzweil . . . is it a coincidence your initials are the same as Roger Korby?

Man, Shatner could tear up the screen.  And Korby’s hand.

There’s a lot more coming on Monday.  Stay tuned!!