Archive for September, 2018

Godspeed, Mr. B (My First Round of Golf Under Par)

This year, my golf tournament performances have been mostly terrible through August.

While my handicap has stayed in the 1-2.5 range for most of the season, I’ve played closer to a 5 in tournaments and haven’t shot better than +3 (once) and +4 (twice).

With only one exception, I’ve been absolutely terrible in all 2+ round events with decent fields. As a result, I’ve accomplished very few of the goals I set for myself at the start of the season.

On September 16, I showed up for a 1-round event at a course I almost never play and proceeded to hit a few balls on the range.

After 20 lackluster swings with a pitching wedge and 7-iron (and very little practice leading up to the event), I was desperate—poor contact, weak misses to the right, and a few deep pulls.

With a 7-iron still in hand and 20 minutes to go before tee time, I had a bit of an epiphany about releasing the club face. To make it happen, I simply had to allow myself to pull the snot out of the ball (my brain hates this).

Flush city.

And here’s the thing—I wasn’t pulling the ball very much at all. I had to aim a few yards farther right than I’ve grown accustomed to, but after finding the center of the club face with the 7-iron, it only took a few swings with other clubs to get everything dialed in.

I capped off the warmup with some drives that were absolutely punished, and I headed to the first tee with ball-striking confidence like I’ve never had before.

As expected, I found the center of the club face all day and proceeded to shoot an even-par 71 (73.4/130) with 4 birdies, 14 GIR, and 10 FIR—a bona fide ball-striking bonanza.

Although some a-hole beat me by shooting a 70 with consecutive birdies coming in, I felt like I had operated on a new plane all day. I knew I could knock my ball around with some control and confidence, and I knew I could score.

Despite the high of finally playing well in a tournament, the ensuing days weren’t great. It rained a ton; I worked the whole time; and then, on Thursday (Sep 20), life kicked my butt.

That morning, my dog—Mr. B, 5 days shy of his 15th birthday—woke up in a lot of pain. He’d had a tumor on his right foreleg for many months, but it “breached” this week and really became a problem.

He was having trouble moving, and the tumor started bleeding and leaking pus all over the house.

I knew he’d had cancer—or at least a bunch of internal tumors—for at least 5 years. The thing is, his energy always remained pretty high, and his mobility was excellent until the last couple of weeks.

After putting it off for a couple hours, I made an appointment at the vet and loaded Mr. B into the car. I was prepared for this to be our last ride together.

(Whenever stuff like this is happening, you just sorta float through the experience because it’s all too heavy.)

We arrived at the vet, got some blood work done, and then waited for the results.

Twenty minutes later, the vet came back with unsurprising bad news: Mr. B had advanced cancer, and he would likely die if we tried to remove the tumor because his body didn’t have the white blood cells necessary to repair damaged tissue.

He was in so much distress over the tumor that I knew it was over.

This was our last moment together.

Mr. B at the vet

That night, I didn’t sleep a wink.

I’m sure I was a little bit heartbroken, but honestly, I just felt so strange. When you lose a companion like this, the things you begin to notice are all little things you probably never gave an ounce of conscious thought to before:

When I got up to pee, no one stirred in their beds to see what I was doing.

At 8am, I didn’t have to fill a food bowl.

When I went upstairs to my office, I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s knees.

Just a bunch of little stuff that gives you big feels when you start sorting it out after a loss.

The next day, Friday, was just a weird “readjustment” period. The relentless September rains continued, and I finally got the energy to hit a few balls on the sim that afternoon.

I hit about 60 balls—my first swings of the week—and didn’t feel like I was finding the club face the way I had the previous Sunday.

But who cares? Golf felt really unimportant, and my mind was somewhere else.

Even so, I was scheduled to play in a 2-round tournament that started the next morning. I was hopeful I could at least get some sleep and not go embarrass myself.

I woke up the next morning sometime before 6am to the sound of relentless, heavy rain. My thoughts: “Great, I get to go slog through the rain and mud for 5 hours, shoot 80, and be super disappointed about everything in life.”

A+ mentality, obviously.

But over the next 4 hours, the rains broke, and I managed to find the center of the club face on the sim.

Suddenly more upbeat, I headed to the Bluebonnet Cup (which has a pretty strong field by Austin amateur standards) and began my warmup.

By the time I reached for my driver, I had this weird “vision” that hit me out of nowhere—I felt like I was going to shoot an under par round in this tournament!

I had ZERO reason to think this was even a remote possibility.

I had never shot under par before in any round, tournament or casual.

My previous best 36-hole score in a tournament was 153. In at least a dozen tries, I had never finished in the top 50% of the field in one of these higher-tier Austin events.

And I almost never play the host course.

As I headed to the first tee, I thought about Mr. B. I thought about the fact he’d sort of “come in second” in a lot of ways during his life.

There had been times where I’d favored other dogs through the years. Beyond that, Mr. B was quirky as hell, and some of the girls I had been with found him annoying.

I let that stuff affect me from time to time, and like I said—I felt like he “came in second” to other concerns too often.

As I got ready to hit that first drive, I thought to myself:

“I’m gonna play this thing for Mr. B. I’m gonna keep that consideration at the forefront above all other concerns, and he’ll come in first—with me—today.”

After a couple of solid pars to start my round, that little “vision” hit me again, but stronger—I was going to remain in control and actually do this thing for Mr. B.

I proceeded to make 4 birdies and an eagle, but two short misses left me at even-par 72 (70.7/114).

After making birdie on the final hole, I was thrilled with a solid round but a little disappointed that I didn’t break par the way I had “seen” in my “vision.”

But I had one more round to play, so I guess it was still possible.

Either way, I had now shot even par in consecutive tournament rounds, and I felt pretty good about keeping my friend in my thoughts and following through with a strong performance.

And I finally had a great night of sleep on Saturday.

Sunday morning arrived with its typical calmness, and I was really looking forward to the second round of the Bluebonnet Cup.

I warmed up on the sim before heading to the course, and I was awesome—piping shot after shot right down the middle with authority.

Once I arrived at the course, I started thinking about my “vision” again. If I was going to make it reality, I had to go out today and shoot my first-ever under par round.

And if I did that, I’d probably finish top 10 in the tournament, which would be phenomenal given my record, my year, and my crazy week.

Fortune seemed to be on my side.

My playing partners were a 15yo kid (lil b*stard shot 68!) and a guy who I knew but had never played with. He works at the course near my house, and we always shoot the sh*t on the driving range and talk about the tournaments we play (which is the same rotation, basically).

Bottom line: Good vibes.

But after a couple of opening pars (one of which was on an easy par 5), I made a double bogey after fatting a wedge into water on the tricky third.

I was +2 through 3 holes, and when you’ve never broken par before, you really like to keep things on the happy side of par rather than forcing yourself to overcome some slop like that.

Normally, a double bogey in a tournament really bums me out. I am just not “clean” enough to get through a round without mistakes, and dubs are the one thing I focus on avoiding above all else.

But this time was different.

I knew I was going to make some birdies, so I focused on that and didn’t worry about the dumb stuff.

After a meh tee shot on the par 3 4th, I lipped out a curling 35-footer for birdie.

On the par 4 5th, I stuffed a wedge from 91 yards that almost went in. Boom—got one stroke back!

On the par 3 6th, I hit a gorgeous pitching wedge from 147 to 4′ and drained the putt. And just like that, I was back to even par.

I was still E on the 9th tee (a par 5), and I made a killer up and down for birdie to go -1 on the front.

The “vision” was still in play with 9 holes to go.

Naturally, it was a roller coaster.

After a par on the 10th, I made a weak bogey on 11 after a punch shot hit a puddle in the fairway and didn’t roll out the way I expected.

The 12th is a very gettable par 5 that was made a little more tricky by a headwind, which brought water and bunkers in play off the tee. While everyone else appeared to be laying up, I knew a 2-putt birdie was my best chance to recover from my mistake on the previous hole.

So I pulled the big stick and absolutely crushed one. I’m not sure I’ve hit a ball that hard all year. My ball waved to the water and bunkers as it went soaring past, and my playing partners were like, “wtf just happened?”

After that triumphant drive—and with only 160 yards remaining—I hit an awful shot and short-sided myself. With no good options at my disposal, I took my medicine, chipped it 18′ past the pin, and proceeded to bitch to my playing partners about how I had wasted that prodigious tee shot.

My look at birdie was not a good one: A downhill left-to-right slider, which I basically never make.

Naturally, I put it right in the center.

If you’ve played a lot of tournament golf, you know about the key shots that either keep a round together or propel you to a great performance.

As soon as that putt dropped, I knew what was up. This was my time, my opportunity.

The hardest hole of the day, the 204-yard par 3 13th, was the next challenge. And apparently, I’m into drama because I hit a terrible tee shot and short-sided myself once again.

But this time, I was 12 feet below the hole, and a 20-yard flop shot was my only hope of getting it close.

I’ll do damn near anything to avoid hitting a flop shot in a tourney, but I had no choice here. As I went to swing, disaster struck—I thinned the frickin’ thing and unleashed a laser that appeared to be soaring across the green.

Miraculously, the ball hit the FLAG (not the pin) and dropped to the ground, 12 feet from the hole.

Everything on the other side of the green—where my ball was heading—is out of bounds. If that ball doesn’t hit the flag, my day is over.

Although I missed the ensuing par putt, I considered what had just happened over the last two holes: Unlikely birdie, miracle flag save.

And the next hole, the par 5 14th, is where I had made an eagle the day before. Let’s do this!

Once again, I uncorked a bomb that left me only 196 to a front left pin. I tugged the approach ever so slightly, leaving me on the fringe with about 20 feet to the hole.

My eagle putt stopped dead in the jaws, one revolution short. Easy bounce back birdie, though, and still at -1 for the day despite a dub and two bogeys.

The 15th hole is a tricky little par 4, and I did the one thing you really don’t want to do—go long with the approach, because all putts and chips from up top are downhill and very slippery.

My approach putt from the fringe trickled 4 feet past, leaving an uphill right-to-left putt for par.

I addressed the putt, felt weird, and backed off—something that’s taken me 50 tournament rounds to force myself to do.

As I addressed the putt again, I felt a little less wonky, but I admit I was damn concerned about the implications of another bogey.

With that weak mindset in play, I failed to hit the putt hard enough, and it lipped out on the left side.

Now back at even par, I was pissed. Another 72 wasn’t going to do it. My “vision” was to shoot under par for Mr. B, and now I had no choice but to find a birdie on the final 3 holes, two of which are tough with difficult greens.

I ripped a long iron off the 16th tee, leaving 128 to a back right pin. With water short and right, I took a slightly conservative line left of the flag, leaving 19′ of downhill left-to-right break for birdie.

Although I had made a similar putt on 12, this one had more break, more speed, and was just not a great look. Simply put, it’s not a putt you expect to make.

Of course, I hit a perfect putt and watched as the ball died on the pro side and dropped into the cup.

Unbelievable. That was my 6th birdie of the day, matching a feat I’ve only ever accomplished twice before (and never in a tournament).

The writing on the wall was clear: I HAD to close this thing out.

The 17th is a par 3 that plays entirely over water to an undulating green, and on Sunday, it played 170 yards into a moderate wind.

I hit a solid shot pin high, but it came to rest in a spot where I’d have to carefully negotiate speed and a huge, swinging break (like 8 feet).

With surprisingly calm nerves, I struck a beautiful approach putt and cleaned up my par from inside 3’—followed by a MASSIVE sigh of relief after getting out of there with a 3.

The 18th is an easy, short par 4 with out of bounds left, and I aimed my tee shot at a fairway bunker 10 yards right of the fairway to avoid blowing up my round and my tournament on the final hole.

The drive was successful and left me just 66 yards away from the pin, but I now had a new challenge to overcome because I was starting to lose my focus.

Tiger Woods had just won the Tour Championship—his first victory after spinal fusion surgery—and our group was talking about it and watching the action on our phones.

I failed to lock in mentally before my next stroke, and I hit an indifferent shot that left me 21′ from the hole.

After a poorly struck putt and a bit of a misread, I was looking at 4.5′ for par and my first-ever round under par.

I had missed 3 similar putts over the previous 35 holes, and none had more on the line than this one.

I told myself to step up and “just knock this f*cker in,” and that’s exactly what I did.


As we walked off the 18th green, the skies opened up, and it started to rain. As we continued up the hill toward the clubhouse—with the rain falling gently all around—I reflected on the week I’d had.

And I started to cry. (I am about the furthest thing from a “crier” you’ll ever see.)

Somehow, the “vision” had come true! It almost felt like it had been true all along, and I just had to walk the path.

I couldn’t break par for me, but dammit, I did it for Mr. B. I was so overwhelmed by the sheer perfection of the moment that it took me a few minutes to realize the totality of what had happened:

I had never broken par before.

Obviously, I had never shot under par in a 2-round tournament before. Hell, I hadn’t shot better than 153 in a 2-round tournament.

I had never finished in the top 10 of a “big” amateur event with a field of more than 40 players.

With 10 birdies and an eagle over 36 holes, I crushed those glass ceilings.

Right now, it feels like a miracle.

As I write this today, I feel nothing but absolute gratitude.

I am so grateful for every missed 4-footer, every bogey on the 18th, every stupid double bogey, and every little failure that ever caused me to shoot over par before this past weekend.

The final round of the Bluebonnet Cup was a microcosm of all those things—a dub early, a short miss for par, an extremely difficult 17th hole, and a knee-knocker to close the thing out—and I overcame it all to post a number that had eluded me for over 500 rounds.

I know there’s a ton of great golf in my future, but I doubt it’ll ever get any sweeter than this.

Permanence vs. Impermanence (Are we ever going back home?)

Tthink about the great relics of human civilization—the pyramids, the magnificent castles of Europe, the Great Wall of China, meticulously detailed sculptures from different eras, the awe-inspiring churches and temples that dot almost every landscape we’ve ever inhabited…

All made of stone. All hundreds of years old. All crafted with the intention of permanence and standing the test of time.

For most of human history, this has been our MO. Kings built temples and tombs because they wanted their legacies to live on forever. Religious structures were built to signal strength, sanctuary, and an everlasting permanence—divine qualities.

Once upon a time, we just got this. It didn’t require conscious thought or consideration; it’s just who we were and what we did.

But thanks to the technological revolution, that ancient paradigm is shifting. We are actively moving—or perhaps have already moved—from a mindset of permanence to one of almost complete impermanence.

This is rapidly changing everything about our world, from externalities like the structures we build to more internal matters like how we behave and what we value.

Watch this video and see why humanity is shifting from permanence to impermanence.

In that video, I posited that the only reason you would ever really operate with a mindset of impermanence is if you knew you were never going back home.

This is life’s reset button.

But while individuals may invoke an impermanence mindset from time to time, entire civilizations never do this unless faced with the immediate threat of extinction.

And yet here we are, in the midst of this great technological revolution and without any fear of immediate extinction, all operating in increasingly impermanent ways.

When I first produced the video above, I struggled to make sense of this great shift. How could we abandon our ancient ideals so quickly, so completely, in favor of this new paradigm?

But after revisiting the Joe Rogan podcast with Elon Musk—specifically, the segments on AI—I think I understand what’s going on here.

We are becoming something else.

The next step in evolution is not some linear, organic, and biological addition to the human body.

To illustrate this point, consider the human brain. You can literally trace human evolution through the layers of the brain; in fact, the central—and oldest—portion of our brains is the amygdala, which we share with reptiles.

300 million years ago, we were reptiles. But the addition of the cortex and other components is what changed us into mammals and, ultimately, primates.

Because of this, you could argue that the primary driver of evolution is the brain and how it functions.

And that brings us to today: We have reached a point of technological innovation that makes artificial intelligence (AI) a reality. AI is an incredibly accurate, incredibly fast extension of the human brain.

Among other things, this affords us the opportunity to offload basic cognitive functions so we can focus on higher-level functions like synthesis and crystallization.

Because of this, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the next step in evolution is a synthesis of technology with biology.

We are literally going to strap on an AI-driven super cortex that will elevate our cognitive function in an exponential way.

And in the same way that a lizard brain plus a cortex equals a mammal…

A mammalian brain plus a super cortex equals…something completely different from the homo sapiens of today.

On some level, whether conscious or subconscious, we know this is the path we’re on.

And as a result, we know we are never going back home.

Hence the shift toward impermanence as we prepare for a journey that quite literally transcends our species.

The Key Difference Between Centralization and Decentralization

One of the more compelling insights to come from the Joe Rogan interview with Elon Musk is this idea that humanity is actively creating “giant cybernetic collectives.”

Through our participation in social media platforms and on the internet in general, we are assimilating knowledge and building connections at a rate that vastly exceeds everything that has ever happened in human history.

But there’s an ominous underbelly to all this novel construction.

We grow these giant cybernetic collectives by feeding them information, and this is creating massive, centralized cyborgs—vast networks of people, technology, and content. Examples of these centralized cyborgs include:

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Because we feed and access these cyborgs directly, they have grown to become destinations rather than simply serving as highways of information. As such, these cyborgs now enjoy incredible leverage and power over their participatory nodes—you and me!

In other words, they have become centralized platforms we must visit in order to produce and consume whatever information is relevant to a particular platform.

They own the means of production and distribution. They effectively own all the content. They decide what happens—who’s in, who’s out, what you can see, what you can do, you name it. They are in charge.

If you play this timeline out 10, 20, even 50 years into the future, the situation just looks more and more bleak for endpoint nodes (again, that’s us!).

The centralized borgs grow bigger and more powerful—thanks to our input, no less—while our freedom and influence decline relative to them.

It doesn’t take genius-level insight to see this road is leading us to a dubious destination. And it makes one wonder: Is there something we can do to change this course?

I’ll be honest—it looks as though we are on this inexorable path of building these giant cybernetic collectives.

But before they swallow us whole, we can at least entertain the idea of decentralization and what it looks like if we are responsible for our own means of production.

Watch this video and discover the key difference between centralization and decentralization.

The Joe Rogan Podcast with Elon Musk — A Supplemental Guide!

The Joe Rogan podcast with Elon Musk was one of the most important events of 2018, and no—I’m not being hyperbolic.

If you thought this interview was all about Elon hitting a spliff, you…may have been misled slightly.

In reality, Elon helps us peek behind the curtain to get a glimpse of the future:

  • Can we dig underground tunnels to alleviate traffic?
  • What does your brain look like on artificial intelligence?
  • Can you control AI with your thoughts?
  • Can you live forever with AI?
  • Can social media and happiness co-exist?
  • Are we living in a simulation?
  • Flying cars? Electric planes? Cars with robot eyes?

Invigorating topics, but here’s the thing—Elon often speaks in a guarded, almost cryptic manner, and Joe doesn’t really know enough about these topics to press him for critical details.

This is precisely why I produced a supplemental, 13-part video series on the Joe Rogan interview with Elon Musk.

So many of the topics they touch on require massive illumination, and there’s so much additional value to uncover here. Fortunately, that’s where I come in!

I’ve included all the segments below, but I’ve highlighted the really good ones in yellow. If you want to maximize your time, start with those videos and then branch out to any others that interest you.

Segment 1: A Boring Intro — Flamethrowers, tunnels, and what’s really happening inside the mind of a genius?

Segment 2, Part 1: AI and Giant Cybernetic Collectives — Is AI going to kill us all? Are we already cyborgs? If we can solve the bandwidth problem, will we merge with AI and become something else?

Segment 2, Part 2: Neurolink — How do we “talk” to AI? How will AI shape the future of human evolution? What’s the near-term future for AI?

Segment 3: Social Media and Happiness — “Happiness is reality minus expectations.”

Segment 4: The Simulation — Are we living in a simulation? Is our creation of Giant Cybernetic Collectives a response to universal entropy? If your sense of “where you are” is simply a product of your perceptions, then what is reality?

Segment 5: Teslas and Easter Eggs — Elon talking about Teslas is the best possible advertisement for Teslas.

Segment 6: Tunnels, a 3D Solution to a 2D Problem — Why don’t we have flying cars? Why bother when you can have mag-lev in a vacuum tunnel?

Segment 7: Just Plane Sad about Carbon — Elon has designed an electric airplane, but he says electric cars, solar energy, and batteries are “more important” right now. And how does he feel about carbon and climate change?

Segment 8: The Tesla Subsidy — Elon falls flat in his defense of the economic subsidy Tesla has leveraged to accelerate sales and gain market share.

Segment 9: Teslas, AI, and Robot Eyes — Auto-pilot and traction control are examples of AI already built into production Teslas. The incredibly quick response time of electric motors makes this possible.

Segment 10: Topical Soup — Lawsuits, the 1% dominating the 99%, Elon wishes politicians were better at science, Tesla is making solar panels, and is Elon gonna take on air conditioning?

Segment 11: Spark of Genius — Elon hits a spliff, but did he inhale? A weird anecdote about dead horses in Manhattan suggests he got his mind right. Joe brings the cringe with more “you’re a special genius snowflake” talk, but this leads to an interesting consideration: What is the nature of genius? Elon calls it a “never-ending explosion.”

Segment 12: Are We There Yet? — Elon offers up his vision of an exciting future.

Career shift! I’m adding some Focus to Thesis

Watch my video on how I’m changing my approach with Thesis to include a lot more Focus.

When I launched Thesis 2 in October of 2012, my goal was to create something that could serve as the foundation for any WordPress design.

That’s why I spent the next 2 years working on Skins, which are simply different designs that run on top of Thesis.

And lemme tell ya—Thesis Skins are just awesome:

  • They’re incredibly efficient;
  • They share functionality that makes them easy to learn and use; and
  • They provide users with lots of non-destructive customization options.

There’s just one little problem, though—almost nobody uses them the right way.

Too many Skins…

The issue with Thesis Skins is the same issue that plagues WordPress Themes—there are too damn many of ’em!

Over the last 6 years, DIYthemes has released 6 official Skins and also maintained two others that have never seen the light of day.

Because of this, I’ve mostly had to spend my time on routine maintenance and compatibility updates instead of “going deep” into any one Skin and creating something truly remarkable.

I had always thought I wanted to lead a burgeoning Thesis ecosystem that would be flush with Skins, Boxes, and anything else you might need to crush it online.

It took me 6 years to realize the end result of that approach would simply turn Thesis into WordPress-lite.

It also took me 6 years to realize I simply don’t have any passion for a quantitative approach to product development.

I only want to Focus on quality!

For the last 8 years, every bit of my work besides Thesis has been qualitative in nature.

The Golden Ratio Typography Calculator, for example, is all about perfect typesetting in any environment (digital or print!). It is a highly focused project with infinite applicability. Quality.

But because of the nature of Skins, my work with Thesis has morphed into this quantitative drudgery that feels a lot more like running a marathon than exploring the wonders of the universe.

No more.

From now on, I’m only going to Focus on the remarkable leverage I can provide for your website.

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