When you're old and curmudgeonly like I am you become set in your ways.  It's hard to believe but some of these ways are wrong.  Your habits are a result of your old thinking and most importantly your old actions.  Since I know everything now, it's conceivable to me that a younger version of me may have made an error in thinking and ended up habitually doing something silly, without thinking, like screwing around with my iPhone at every single spare moment throughout the day.

See what I did there with the bold.

We do things, we make decisions and choices without even considering the options.  Our subconscious not only can provide us with important facts, like all the words to the closing song of Gilligan's Island, it also will bring up complex thoughts like the results of thinking or provide a course of action.  Don't believe me?  Think of the last time you drove a car somewhere and had one of those realizations like, "Holy crap I'm driving a car and not paying attention to where I am or where I'm going!  How did I make it this far?"

Learning anything requires repetition, so does unlearning.  But before you start training yourself what you want to do, like Zippity the Zebra in Man vs. Beast you have to "realize it's a race."  The key there is to set yourself a standing order to notice when you do some physical thing . Go on, put that subconscious to work for you noticing you taking the phone out, or eating that 28th cookie.

Now you are at that crossroads, where you make the choice.  The thing you've done at up until this point over the last 87 times this choice came up, the thing you decided you wanted to change for some reason, will seem very compelling.  It may even seem crazy that you ever wanted to or could change.  Here is where you will need to have thought out the good reasons for why you will change, to overrule the habit and emotional response that is tied into taking that habitual action.  What you want to do here is put yourself in the right frame of mind to realize, that, yes there are actually other things you might want to do besides restock the floors in Tiny Tower.

The way I recently learned and am trying to do that is to have a nice little slogan, "WWID?"  This means, "What Would I Do? Where I, is me heroically taking into account my full hierarchy of values."  This is a pretty general mindset, depending on the particular habit I'm trying to change I may just focus in on that one for a few weeks and have a different slogan to recall in my time of need.

So in summary, I plan to take certain things I don't want to do anymore and notice when I'm doing them so I can wake myself up enough to know, "it's time to make a choice," and then put myself in a heroic frame of mind to make that choice.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister

As I indicated in a prior post, The game of life, I planned to post updates to help my motivation.  I've learned that my projects go much better when I periodically look objectively at my results thus far and make a conscious decision how to proceed.

I had initially planned an update every 9 days since it just happened that I was 108 days out from my goal when I started and being a geek I couldn't help but see the evenly divided intervals.  But, alas, I have missed not only 99 days but also 90.  We now stand 86 days from my goal and this is my first update.

So from an eating perspective it's been easy, I've been able to avoid all but a very small taste of sweets and all but a very small amount of grains.

I think it was easy because before starting I made an effort to pay attention to how crappy I felt.  How I was tired and always lacking something trying to find it in sugary snacks or in caffeine laden beverages.

And—I think this was stronger motivation—I also made an effort to actually imagine two alternate futures.  One where I now took responsibility for my health and one where I continued to drift eating and acting based on whim or emotion.

The first was me in 20 years, strong and healthy working with my daughters on some sort of outdoor project, maybe helping them build a new garden or shed in one of their homes, but here I was a man of 55 (the same age as my father when he died) doing hard physical work with my shirt off and not inappropriately.  Feeling temporarily winded from a recent extreme exertion and resting for a moment, taking a deep breath and feeling the exhilaration of being alive and reshaping existence to my will and paying with my effort.  And I was just at that moment before I plunge back in and continue at a hard task that will still take another hour or so after which I will enjoy a restful afternoon with good food and surrounded by loved ones.

The second I don't like to think about, but I do anyway.  It was me in 20 years.  I can't really picture myself like I can in the first vision, but I am able "…to guess by hints, to see everything through the greater intensity of implication."1 And in this case I am looking out.  I see myself in the sterile hospital environment.  I am uncomfortable, I've just woken up and have been laying this way for a long time, a few hours, a few weeks? I am just so tired and sore I can barely muster the energy to move.  I finally notice that here again I am surrounded by loved ones.  But this time the looks on their faces are masks of tragedy.  In this imagining I really pictured my daughters as young adults, they were beautiful if they weren't so sad.  I wanted to tell Allison that nothing could be so tragic as to put such a look on her face, and she tried to smile for me when she saw me awake, but the pity there was worse.  And Ashley never one to attempt to hide her emotions wouldn't even smile and was barely able to look at me.  I reached out for them with a tremendous effort and saw the tubes snaking around my arms.  And my arms were thin, flabby and pale.  Then I saw Michelle and it the suffering she was obviously trying to hide from me was more than I could bear.

I didn't bother to fill in details about what particular disease had put me in such a terrible condition.  But to concretize the threats to my future of living a lifestyle where I ignore what I've learned about nutrition has helped my motivation tremendously.

I've diverged a bit from my original intent of this article into that motivation that has made the choice on what to eat easy.  Now to sum up my update.  My two primary measures of the effectiveness of my health sprint are my weight and how I feel energy wise and general comfort level.

Over the past 18 days I've felt great.  I made a great effort to get plenty of sleep, and I can't remember being better rested.  My energy level has been excellent.  I seem to wake up ready to take on the day and keep a more or less constant energy level until the end of the day when I start to get tired and ready for bed.  My creativity level has been high, and my stress level has been low.  I take surprises and emergencies at work well and have been less defensive when criticized or when I perceived criticism.  Also I've been very productive at work and in my personal projects making great strides toward my goals.  Finally I feel stronger.  I've been doing pushups occasionally at work and they've certainly gotten easier to do.

As far as the scale, well that is the millstone, and the challenge or opportunity.  I've only dropped about 2 pounds per the chart software I use.  In the past when I've done this I've dropped weight more rapidly.

HackDiet chart

Based on this I am going to tweak my approach in an attempt to speed things up a bit. My plan is:

  1. Cut out dairy (I got a milk frother for my birthday and have been enjoying tea lattes so for now that will pause)
  2. Go to the gym more often, I am going to target 1 trip every 3 days.

Other than that it's no sugar, no grains as I stated at the outset.  I anticipate feeling great, stronger and being lighter.  I'll plan another update in a few days.

Maybe on 81 days to go.


  1. Borrowing a short quote from my favorite book of all time The Fountainhead.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
Tagshealth

Another change I've made recently to help with my overall health is to try using a scheduling infrastructure for my day. For about three weeks now I've been using the Pomodoro Technique to plan and track my activity throughout the day. It's improving my productivity and also helping me lose weight. This relates to my physical health in two ways, first if I spend my days full of anxiety about all the things I'm not doing I can never get physically well. Second it makes me do push-ups.

That probably needs an explanation. Pomodoro is a time-boxing technique that guides you to do 25 minutes of highly focused activity followed by a short 5 minute break. In the PDF the author suggests it should be a real break from any thinking about work. I found the transition from a hard thinking task to a state of mental relaxation to be very difficult to pull off, my mind–already warmed up to the topic–would wander back to the problem I was working on. So I decided to do a set of push-ups to help me relax.

So far I've gotten better at pushups, squats, and sit-ups. Oh, and I'm enjoying my productivity based primarily on the structure to my day. It helps me concretize the idea that I can only do so many things in a day and helps me at the hard task of prioritizing my time. It also helps me measure how long I take at certain tasks. Since I chronically underestimate I welcome the opportunity to improve my judgement.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister

When sacrificing sleep to do important work or play I've often made the remark, "I'll have plenty of time to sleep when I'm dead."  But little did I realize that by not getting adequate sleep I was working to bring that day closer.

I was clued into this fact by the various Paleo resources I've studied over the past few years particularly Robb Wolf's, The Paleo Solution.  So I started paying attention to how I functioned on various levels of sleep.  I learned that I was able to think, act and feel much better when I was well rested.  I remember thinking, "Does anyone else know about this? It is actually possible to walk around with nearly super-human ability simply by consistently getting a full night of sleep!"

Now in my defense, I not only attended college but also have two young children and have worked primarily at technology start-ups throughout my career.  So sleep was scarce in my life and somehow I just had to find a way to get things done.

But it's not super-human, it's regular-human to sleep when tired, wake up well rested and feel alert and energetic during your days.  A good sign of trouble is you need chemicals to wake up and function at all and at bedtime you can't figure out how to fall asleep.

So I failed to mention in my initial post on my plan to win at the game of life that one other thing that is going to help me meet my health goals is to get plenty of glorious sleep. You too should get plenty of sleep tonight, you deserve it!

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister

For a while now I've been trying to do a lot of things and getting many accomplished, but really want some focus on less things that I make tangible progress on.  And so I am looking to set myself some constraints in order to actually get things where I want them to be.  A few vague plans I have are to ship a game this year.  Actually I'd like to ship two games, but I am still floundering in the beginning stages of understanding and putting together a basic 2D OpenGL game engine.  So my plan is to have a rough beta version of something that at least works by my birthday.  Then I can set a new goal for shipping it.  That should help give me some focus.

Also along that front I'm thinking I should blog consistently about the things I do and learn while working on the game so it forces me to really solidify my understanding.

I'd also like to really get my health to a better place.  On Saturday Allison's karate school, East West Karate, had a class for parents of new students to learn a few basics so we can experience some of what they are doing first hand.  It really made me miss my training.  Now I haven't been to the gym or done any serious workout in months so I've been sore now for two days.  But on top of that I've gotten the best nights of sleep that I've had in recent memory due to actually using my body a bit.

So I'm considering joining their adult classes.  As I've already earned a black belt, they would allow me to wear it to their school and help me have an accelerated version of their curriculum.  But I have mixed feelings about that.  I did work hard and earn it, but I am severely out of practice and wouldn't want to embarrass myself or the school who awarded me my black belt by showing up there next week.  Also I'd want to do it only if I really am sure I'm committed to it.  So I'm thinking I'll set myself a target of June to get myself into better shape through a concentrated training program at the gym, and probably 2 or 3 days a week run myself through some exercises trying to recall and practice some of the martial arts skill that I had earned through hard work and let slip away.

Also I have plans to attend a Thinking Directions pilot class in New York City on Saturday from noon — 3, and I'm also very excited about that.  I'll have to see if I know anyone in New York that wants to grab dinner before I catch the NJT back to Trenton.

BIG THINGS COMING YOUR WAY!  WATCH OUT!

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal

Today I forgot to eat breakfast and got moving very late because I was immersed in what I was doing. Spending so much time being interrupted and allowing myself to be interrupted I had started to forget the pure and simple joy of focused, productive work. I intended to try and achieve that state as often as possible. I need to blow off a few meeting reminders, phone calls and the like. It's good for the soul.

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AuthorKevin McAllister
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Ready for SchoolToday I was really hit by the fact that one of the hardest parts of parenting isn't even in the same building as cleaning up bodily fluids or going upstairs to "fix the covers" for the 3rd time in 15 minutes.

It's in encouraging the push for independence, and growth.

My wife sent me a snapshot of Allison before running her to her first day of pre-school. And I felt quite a strong bit of emotion. I am still not sure if it is reluctance, fear, sadness, joy or all of them pushed together.

Happy first day, Allison!

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal

Tonight during Monday Night Countdown on ESPN watching a segment called "Jacked Up!" Where they review the top 5 big hits of the football games this weekend. Allison started cracking up during the hits, when we said "boom!" Yeah that's right, big hits are universally enjoyable, as long as you aren't the one being hit.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
Categoriesfunny, Personal

I guess getting old for me means my daughter's first birthday. What a wonderful year. And an even better **now**. Happy Birthday, Allison!

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal

When I was in college people would always ask me what I wanted, what my goals were. What I wanted to do when I grew up. I would tell them, "have a hammock." Many would write me off as a weirdo and never talk to me again. The majority, would ask me, "What the hell does that mean?" Well clearly it is deeper than just owning a hammock, they are not terribly expensive, and if you really wanted to you could make one out of miscellaneous materials for probably around $30. So I explained to have a hammock and be able to use it, really use it. To have the freedom to wake up, hit the hammock with your library book(s) and your glass of lemonade and enjoy the outside and some reading for a good 8 to 12 hours. Obviously the way to achieve this kind of freedom is through having enough money to support this lifestyle. So really it is about freedom from the bill collectors and the massive debt incurred attending college.

I figured the way this would happen would be I would make a big pile of money by a few years after college, pay everything off and have enough left over to live off of the spoils of having money, *interest*. Spend about 15 hours a week tracking my investments and the rest of the time enjoying my various hammocks.

How to achieve such a lofty goal. Well what do engineers actually do when they graduate. Many go to industry, they go work for giant engineering farms, where they ripen their young engineers by surrounding them with the color grey and bathing them in fluorescent light. Some pay well, some pay poorly, they all have pretty good benefits. The downside of course is engineers here are resources like the copier or the conference room. They get cataloged, tagged and are called on to do things that are understood to be their bailiwick. There are growth paths here, that involve fighting bureaucracy and red tape and really after 10 - 20 years you could be pulling down a nice paycheck. The problem I noticed when working at $BIG_COMPANY was you don't really need to excel and many of the big rewards are fairly arbitrary. You could be there 30 years and barely have your job change. Do the same or similar things every day. Sounds like I am describing prison. Anyway I initially chose this route, but as you can see from my description above it just wasn't for me.

Well what else is there? Graduate school? Two more years, for what another piece of paper, that gets me a nominal raise at $BIG_COMPANY, or the chance to switch to another big company. Will I learn more? yes and no. I will learn more about specific topics, not necessarily things that work in Industry, but certainly things that work in the academic world. I sort of also chose this, when I was at the big company, I started grad school at night. It was... not compelling, hell I was **bored**. I had just finished about 5 years of this, and I was looking at 10 more classes, which quickest possible way to get to the end of that would be 2 and a half most likely 3 years. And it was hard to see how that would get me closer to my goal of the Hammock.

Other options? Start a business. Be my own boss, do what I want. And most important, do something really, really cool! Now this is something that sounds interesting. But how the hell do you do that? Well there are tons of steps involved. Some hard, some boring, some tedious and some deliciously fun. To start a business you need to have an idea, something really clever, something no one has thought of before. Also I am in college and I have a senior design project coming up, where Engineering school does it's damnedest to simulate the real world. You need to come up with an idea, propose it to someone for approval, do some or all of the work to get at least a prototype working and present it. There are opportunities for funding and opportunities to start a business with that idea after school. Of course there was some stupid rumor or fact that the school has the opportunity to get some percentage of any business arising out of a Sr Design project, which would be fine if they were *letting* me use their resources to help accomplish it. But I was paying dearly for that privilege. But that's a bit off topic here.

When I was working on ideas for my senior design project, I sought the advice of the professor who wore the most expensive suits and talked the most about entrepreneurship in his classes. It didn't hurt that he was the incoming IEEE president either, his advice had to be worth the price of admission. While I was focused on coming up with some ground breaking new *thing*. He kept saying that your proposal doesn't have to be so, unattainable. He kept picking up his pen and saying, something simple, and enhancement to an existing product, for example somehow making this pen better. I left the meeting figuring he had been in the academic life too long and had lost his mind. Why the hell would I improve the ball point pen, when I could do something exciting, like, um, well something more exciting than that, surely. So I continued my search for the **idea**. Finally with deadlines approaching, picked something, but wasn't terribly jazzed about it.

Over the past 3 years I have slowly come to learn, that the [big idea is a myth](http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/archives/2005/10/the_myth_of_the.html), if only Ramit could have told me that about 5 years ago, I'd surely have my hammock by now. Of course I would have thought him as a guy who just lost his desire, or was really never going to be the one to come up with the great idea anyway. But really, now, I am finally in what I feel is the right frame of mind to start gaining that freedom. I have learned much in my career, and like every other time in my career, I think I know it all. But I do know more now. And since after a brief stint with a big company I have spent most of my time working at small startups, and learning.

So I think I'll save my big ideas for any Science Fiction that I eventually get around to writing. And continue to take action on my current [general goal](http://logicaldisconnect.org/archives/2005/08/27/mind-games-2/)

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal
4 CommentsPost a comment

I was lead to the concept of [continuous partial attention](http://www.corante.com/getreal/archives/2005/01/17/accentus_real_time_blinking_through_music.php) through an entry about [email overload](http://www.43folders.com/2005/10/marc_eisenstadt.html). I am very conflicted on this concept because, I know I am so much more productive when I can concentrate and block out the world. But I also have a tendency to load up my work environment with distractions. IM, email, RSS feeds. So on some level I want to get things done, but on another I guess don't want to miss anything? When I get into the flow I really get into it, I could go for days barely eating and sleeping because I am so focused on accomplishing something. I can only assume my embracing of distraction has to do with boredom, or not caring enough about the things I am purportedly trying to accomplish. This may be a good time to cast through my mind and find the things that send me into frenzied periods of autistic like concentration, and then find a way to pay the bills doing that. I do have some ideas.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal

Got in to work around 6, haven't eaten lunch. That means it's been 9 straight hours of work, and it's nice out. That also means it's time for a break and to collect on that 800 - 1000 calories I am owed today[*](#fn1). So I am [walking](http://tinyurl.com/8htam) to get a [sandwich](http://primohoagies.com/). I'll also probably pay the [idiot tax](http://powerball.com/) while I'm out. *: I had a small banana and 6 bread & butter pickle chips. I estimate that to be around 100 calories.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister

Thanks to Chris & Jen, Michelle & I went to the Phillies game last night. They whupped the Braves, and our seats were ridiculously good. We sat in the first row of the section in left field. So I could throw things at Burrell if I wanted to. The only disapointment was that the three Homeruns that did go to left were either 1 section toward center, or way over our head, like the Andruw Jones's 50th on the season, that one was a shot. Anyway It was a nice evening out, and the seats were great. Although the Phillies continue to confound. Just when everyone gives up on them, they sweep the Braves. I had fun and even still managed to go to sleep too late.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal

If you are an avid reader, and want to see my book recommendations and reviews, check them out at [Library Dweller](http://mcallister.ws/librarydweller/). Also to get an idea of my goals for that site check out the [first entry](http://mcallister.ws/librarydweller/2005/09/01/library-dweller/). I am looking for feedback, and suggestions for *stuff* I should read also, so either comment, or send me recommendations to [mclazarus@gmail.com](mailto:mclazarus@gmail.com).

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister
CategoriesPersonal

Inspired by [my brother's](http://tom.mcallister.ws/) [NFL season preview](http://tom.mcallister.ws/2005/09/08/nfl-season-overview-commentary-on-all-32-teams/), I am going to strive to be more concise in my explanations, descriptions and opinion expression. From what I can see it brings more interesting response, and sure you will be misinterpreted, but at least you will know people read what you wrote. I know many of my work related emails have been skimmed and archived, because, who has the time.

Posted
AuthorKevin McAllister

So I have been selling a bunch of my old books and some other stuff lately, all proceeds go to pay for me going to Mexico with my family next June to attend my Brother-in-law's wedding. But I figure I have a few people who read my stuff this, so I might as well see if anyone is interested. If you want to buy it through ebay or amazon go right ahead, **but** if you want to just buy it from me directly I'm hapy to offer a discount. If you want to pay via PayPal, you can take 10% off the price listed, just make sure to tell me first, so I can de-list it from th other site. If you want to pay me directly, cash or whatever (as long as I know you), take a full 15% off, since I don't have to pay the commission. And of course I'll charge you exact cost for the shipping instead of the flat rate, or you can pick it up. If you want to buy my books check it out:

* [half.com listings](http://shops.half.ebay.com/mclazarus) * [amazon listings](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=logicaldiscon-20&creative=9325&path=http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/customer-open-marketplace-items/A2GU5ICV6B4SJ1/ref=fb_comi_spgl)

Generally pretty slim pickings. But maybe there is something that tickles your fancy. Let me know.

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AuthorKevin McAllister
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I have thought of it so many times, and dismissed it for various reasons. Too hard, too much cutthroat competition, not enough time, not a viable way to make money, way too many wanna-bes I don't want to get classified with them. But damnit, there is no other thing I would rather waste some spare time on than writing video games.

I think the main reason I got interested in programming and playing with computers at all was games. I would never have given a second look at my Dad's [TRS-80](http://www.kjsl.com/trs80/) if he hadn't shown me how to load up some game, he acquired from who knows where, with the data cassette drive and start playing.

> You are in a dark cave, there is a hallway to the west, another to the east and a smell > of rotting flesh from the south, you have a pocket knife, and there is a torch on the > floor.... What do you want to do?

I learned BASIC on that thing just so I could try and mimic what the authors of that wonderful game had done, and my love of programming came from video game roots.

Man, I was hooked, from then on I would have trouble with my body weight, because I would prefer to sit in front of the TRS-80, Atari, IBM PC AT, Beltron, Commodore 64, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, PlayStation, N64, PlayStation 2 than do other stuff. I mean sure I played sports, and did all kinds of other stuff, but sometimes it was a battle to pull myself from playing [*River City Ransom* ](http://www.seanbaby.com/nes/rcr.htm) one more time, "This time I'll win without buying the cowboy boots!"

Anyway, since then I have gotten degree's in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, have taken numerous programming courses, have done programming professionally, and have always thought of doing game programming, but never had the guts to follow through. Always doing what other people thought was a more viable means of making money. But hell, I have a day job. I get paid that way, if I am going to do side work, that may eventually become a way to get paid, I need to do something I have passion for.

And video games are that passion. So yeah, add me to the list of all the geeky wanna-be's who tried this. Because I am trying. My goal is to have something playable by the end of September, and hopefully sooner. And yeah I am going to the dark side to do this, because if I do want to eventually make some money on this, I need to maximize that chance. I am going to try and do this in C# with DirectX on windows.

*GASP*! I thought you hated windows?! I thought you were mister Linux. Well I got news for you, to quote a lovable scoundrel, "Look, I ain't in this for your revolution. ... I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money."

So I start today, actually I started about 3 days ago, but I publically start today. So watch this space, for the next revolution in gaming. :)

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AuthorKevin McAllister
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