The rules of climbing

My Regular Mind, June 20, 2018 at 09h57

I’ve been teaching my son The Rules of Climbing since he was young. He’s still young so it sounds much more adorable when he recites them, but here they are:
1. Foot is secure
2. Good grips
3. Watch what you’re doing, not what other people are doing
4. I’ll always help you down if you need it, but I won’t help you up beyond your own ability

He’s been repeating these rules to himself any time he climbs, which is great… but he’s starting to understand more complex ideas now, and I’m afraid it won’t be much longer until I have to tell him the ugly truth. These rules, and climbing itself, is actually a metaphor for life. And this is how I’ll tell him:

1. Foot is secure. You need to have a solid foundation or else it doesn’t matter how high you build or how far you reach, you’ll fall every time. You have to know who you are deep down, even though you’ll change so much and there will be times you won’t even recognize the person you once were. You’ll be passionate about so many things in your life and you’ll be able to succeed with any of them as long as you’re grounded.

2. Good grips. Physically and figuratively, with every new level you reach for, you have to know what you’re holding onto. Make sure it can support your weight. This is especially critical and impossible with people; you will meet all kinds in your life, and not all of them will be dependable. Some will seem like it, some will claim to be. Some will have the best intentions but still, no matter how hard you’re holding on, will let you fall. When you find something to hold, maintain a good grip. Be strong.

3. Watch what you’re doing, not what other people are doing. As you climb higher and higher, there will be more to see. You may even be the first person ever to see it. But distractions are dangerous. Even for a moment, if you forget what you’re doing or where you’re going, you may never get there at all. Other people will be climbing too. Let them. It doesn’t matter if they’re climbing faster than you, or higher, or easier. None of that matters. It’s your climb, and you’ll get there at your own speed. Just keep going, that’s what’s important.

4. I’ll always help you down if you need it, but I won’t help you up beyond your own ability. Sometimes we get so eager to reach new heights that we don’t think about whether we’re ready for them. Achievements are amazing things. They make you feel powerful, successful, proud. But climbing to the top without knowing what the top might be like and whether you can get back down, that’ll leave you scared. What you don’t want in life is to put yourself into a situation where you can’t predict how you might react. There are plenty of people who find success before they learn how to handle it. Their feet aren’t secure, or maybe they don’t have good grips. That will always lead to trouble.

I want the best for you. I want you to be successful at whatever you’re passionate about. But as much as you can, I want you to figure out how to do it yourself. You learn a lot about how to get down while you’re climbing up. It builds the strength you need to keep going, and lifting you up past the hard parts won’t help you. I tell you over and over, “good decision-making,” because that’s the skill I want to foster. Sometimes your foot slips, but you’re still holding on, and you put your foot somewhere better. Good decision-making, keep going. Sometimes kids run up below you and start shouting, but you keep your eyes on where your hand is going next. Good decision-making, keep going.

I love you, son. Be clever, curious, and kind. And keep going.


My Regular Mind, January 3, 2018 at 08h14

Years ago I found some really groovy-looking wood that was being wasted as a warehouse pallet. I took the nails out, ran the boards through a thickness planer, and began preparing them for their new life as a headboard.

I used tongue-and-groove joinery to assemble the boards as the main decorative piece, then acquired a 2×4 from an old building demolition in Vancouver to use for the decorative frame. After running them through a thickness planer, I ripped them so they had a square plane, routed a groove to receive the main decorative piece, then mitred the corners to fit nice and flush. Glue. Clamp. Continued…

Roof rack for plywood

My Regular Mind, December 22, 2017 at 04h20

Recently, I decided to build a roof rack to transport full sheets of plywood. I wanted to be able to assemble and disassemble it quickly without compromising any strength. My final design incorporated what I think are all half-lap joints. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) I used two long 2x4s and a couple wider planks of wood that were all gathering dust in the shop.


The trouble with time travel

My Regular Mind, July 21, 2017 at 11h57

There’s a fundamental flaw that exists in most time travel stories that I just can’t ignore. The first time it occurred to me was while revisiting Back To The Future after contemplating our solar system. We exist on a planet that is itself spinning at 460 meters per second while also rotating around the sun at over 30,000 meters per second. Combined, the actual speed at which we are moving is staggering and our actual location incalculable. Yet somehow when Doc Brown’s DeLorean creates a hole through time, that hole remains anchored to a location relative to Earth. This is a writing convenience that ultimately seems implausible to me. If someone were to travel through such a hole in time, it would probably leave them in the same position relative to the universe, which would be somewhere in the vast emptiness of space. Oops.

However, there are some time travel stories that avoid this problem by having a stationary point of origin and destination. This is something I can get behind. Characters in these stories will often use a device with a fixed location to travel through. For example, Lumpy Joe will create a machine in the present, and moments after turning it on, someone will emerge from it from the future. In a situation like this, the hole in time that the device creates is more like a tunnel, with both openings relative to its location in the universe. It’s not arbitrary. Sure, it severely limits story possibilities, but if it helps me personally sleep at night, then it’s worth it, right?

And then there are stories like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure where they acknowledge that to travel through time and remain on Earth also involves traveling through space. I suppose I’m okay with this, but man, sticking that landing would be haaard.

Juggling or driving

My Regular Mind, July 20, 2017 at 09h55

I never imagined life would feel this full. My day-to-day schedule is so tightly packed and compressing that bones are turning to oil. If I’m being honest, there are moments when I think it’s too much and I can’t handle it; and if I’m behind dishonest, don’t worry, I’ve got this all under control. Every morning I pick up the balls one by one… exhaustion, dog, work, baby, webcomic, bills, sales, errands, food, hobbies, career path, future. And I juggle.

I can’t possibly catch them all, so I focus on the most fragile and forgive myself for the balls I won’t pick up again until tomorrow.

This site is slowly coming together. Again. I’m cleaning up its old posts and function in general. Plenty of things will never be perfect, not without time or money, and I have to move forward with these imperfections gnawing at me. Not something I’m used to, but something I must accept without time or money. I suppose it’s in my nature to worry that these imperfections define me; maybe that’s why I used to spend so much time obsessively analyzing each and every word. I’m easing to the idea that I don’t need a negative-drive for improvement. Despite how full my life seems, it also contains so much possibility and positivity, and maybe I just have to step aside and let it drive me.

Wooden bench

My Regular Mind, December 24, 2015 at 08h35

I’ve spent an ample amount of time in the workshop lately, practicing woodworking in order to build myself a new desk. This bench is the first piece of furniture that I’ve ever built, aside from a poker table several years ago, and as the last coat of varnish dries, I find myself quite pleased with the results. It’s not without its imperfections, but I’ve learned enough in the process that I’ll be able to build my desk with a lot more confidence. And hopefully fewer mistakes.


Personal change: a self-reflection

My Regular Mind, October 9, 2015 at 08h01

People often say it’s not polite to discuss politics. In ye olde days, I don’t think this was the case; people discussed politics all the time. Maybe there was less to talk about back then, maybe there were fewer ‘polite’ distractions like sports and celebrities. Or maybe it’s because back then people realized the direct impact that politics had on their lives, and maybe now we’ve forgotten.

It can take time to research what values a politician has, and it can take even more time to research whether or not they’ve honestly stood up for those values. It’s not always easy. It could take hours, days, weeks. And to figure out the values that you have yourself, well, it can take a lot longer than that… and it usually takes a lifetime to find out if you’re honestly living up to those values.



My Regular Mind, October 2, 2015 at 07h21

For the past few months, this site’s been the target of repeated attempts to be hacked. I’ve been taking regular measures to try and thwart these attempts, but they seem to be getting more frequent and orchestrated. It seems like the attempts are coming from all over the world, although it may in fact just be one lone gunman masquerading as a rogue pack of stormtroopers.

I’m trying to understand why anyone would want to invade my site. As someone who was fascinated with hacking when I was younger, I know the excitement that comes with the challenge of accessing something you’re not allowed to access. As someone who appreciates the work that white hat networks like Anonymous do, I can identify with the ideal of discovering truth in concealed information or exposing the corruption of certain systems. I can usually wrap my head around most viewpoints even when I don’t necessarily agree with them, but this… I’m not sure I do. What thrill is there in causing me this grief? I’m not some heinous villain plotting against the poor, I’m not some monolithic Corporate juggernaut Hell-bent on global domination. I’m not Shell, or the CIA, Wal-Mart, Halliburton, or Cyril Sneer; I’m just me.

So if you’re reading this and by some chance you’re trying to breach my site, please… just move along? I promise you, there are more justified causes that could you use your attention.

Thank you.

Comicle #12: Dirty lies

Comicles, June 1, 2015 at 08h49

Something special

My Regular Mind, May 12, 2015 at 06h25

If you’re reading this, it means that robots have not yet enslaved humanity. Take comfort in that, but remember that it could happen at any moment. One minute you’re just baking cookies, the next minute you’re shining robot shoes and picking up their dry cleaning. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts, puny humans!

Most recently, I’ve been using my freedom to get my first graphic novel off the ground. To my surprise and overwhelming excitement, it worked out! I’m planning on writing a more elaborate conclusion, but to summarize, it was incredible and it was stressful. I went through intense waves of joy followed by doubt, followed by joy and then doubt again, often in the same hour. Now I can shift that stress from fundraising to production, which is a much more inspirational form of stress. I’ve been going over every beat of the story carefully this past week, and I’m more confident than ever that this book is going to be something special.

Focusing on this campaign caused me to neglect other things, though. I didn’t end up posting anything here in over a month, and I had plenty worth posting about. I let you down, Internet, and I’m sorry. Please, let me make it up to you with some comicles I doodled. I was told that they were funny. This was not my intention. They are supposed to be serious and poignant commentaries on society, and what you might think is a punchline is actually a depiction of the twists that life brings us, designed not for laughter, but for reflection. But go ahead, laugh if you want to.

All the best, puny humans!