Fredonia Hockey is famous

Two days ago a Fredonia Hockey locker room celebration posted to social media went viral. First it was picked up by Barstool Sports, then NBC,  then ESPN. Fredonia Hockey became famous, and we all had fun watching the world react to the video.

Being famous is nice, but being famous for longer than 15 minutes is rare and hardly worth pursuing. It’s much more important to be famous to the family.

In my strength and conditioning family, Mike Boyle, Andrea Hudy, and Frans Bosch are famous, but you’ve never heard of of them. In my reading and podcast-listening family, Seth Godin, Sam Harris, Krista Tippett, and Robert Sapolsky are famous. You’ve never heard of them either.

I’m famous to about 200 athletes at Fredonia: they read my blog regularly and tell me which posts they like. That’s way more important than if every resident of California happened to read one of my blog posts. My 15 minutes of fame would come and go quickly.

Be famous to the family by answering this question: Who do I seek to serve? Then serve those people relentlessly.

[Fredonia Hockey is on a two-game SUNYAC winning streak after dropping Cortland last night. Tonight they take on the ninth-ranked team in the country, Oswego. Good luck boys–Whoooooooo!]


Why you’re forced to take gen ed classes

I’ll let our president, Ginny Horvath, take this one:

Jon-Ryan Maloney: With the growing cost of college, how do you engage somebody who thinks a humanities degree isn’t worth it? You seem to have a unique perspective because you lived this question. Particularly on this campus, how do you think about the question of a broad, liberal-based education?

Dr. Virginia Horvath: When people start college they might think, “I’m going to major in business, because I’m going to work for a business.” Well, most people who are not entrepreneurs work for a business. Some businesses need people with business degrees to do marketing, advertising, and accounting, but a lot of entry-level positions in businesses want a person with a bachelor’s degree. They don’t care what it’s in, because they’re going to train you in the specifics of the company. So I think a liberal arts degree is helpful preparation for all of those. I think of Diane Craig, who was the CEO of Ford Canada, and is now in charge of all Ford sales in the United States. At Fredonia, she was a math major. Students here have asked her, “How did your math major lead you to that? Is it because you were good at math?” She says, “No, I got a job working in a Ford showroom as a salesperson, and I couldn’t have gotten that job without a bachelor’s degree.” So some of the marketability of a bachelor’s degree depends on people having an attitude that they’re becoming as smart as they can be. Not, “I’m going to take the requirements, and then I’ll have the degree that entitles me to a job,” but more, “I really want to work to be as smart as I can be.” Even if you’re never going to be a sociologist, you take sociology because you’re going to learn about society. You’re going to learn about those issues that you have to use in the workplace to understand social groups. Why take math if you’re never going to be a math teacher or an accountant? Because you’re training that part of your mind that can do quantitative reasoning. What job doesn’t depend on understanding data and statistics? A person who really goes into our CCC (College Core Curriculum) courses with the right attitude, thinking of it as developing different parts of the brain, is getting ready to do anything.”

Here is the full interview with Horvath. It’s long, comprehensive, and worth reading if you want to understand what you’re doing in college.

A hot water pipe bursts in a dorm room

A hot water pipe burst in two athletes’ dorm room last week while they were asleep. By 5 a.m. several inches of boiling hot water had accumulated on the floor, and when they woke up to a room full of steam they realized something was wrong.

Everything on the floor was ruined, laptops and textbooks included, and they’re staying in a hotel until the problem is fixed.

This isn’t a big deal in the long run: lost possessions will be reimbursed and and life will go on. There’s a bigger question to consider though: do you want a future where you’re dealing with these inconveniences all the time?

This life is called home ownership. As my mom put it to me recently, “if you’re going to own a home you either need to like fixing things, or you need like paying other people to fix things.”

We take it for granted that once you reach a certain age and accumulate a certain amount of wealth you should buy a home. After all, it saves you money (not necessarily true) and makes you happier (not necessarily true). It does the opposite just as often.

Last year the CBC published a popular segment about a couple who shunned home ownership, helping them accumulate enough wealth to retire early and travel the world.

This ideal isn’t out of reach for most middle-class people, particularly young middle-class people. It just requires some thoughtfulness about how you spend your money.

No, you don’t need Thanksgiving break

You only think you do. Thinking is the problem.

Look closely and you might notice that doing homework doesn’t stress you out. Thinking about doing homework stresses you out.

Look closely and you might notice that you’re less happy on a Saturday night than you are sitting in class on a Tuesday afternoon. But you didn’t notice that because your thoughts about Saturday night make you more happy than your thoughts about class on Tuesday afternoon.

There is a simple way to break this cycle: actively notice what’s happening right now. Notice your thoughts and notice how they make you feel. Over time, you can train yourself to have new thoughts, and attribute less importance to the ones that used to make you feel bad.

The process is simple, but like most things worth doing, very difficult.

My best purchase of 2017

Without a doubt, it’s the commuter bike I bought from Hollyloft in Jamestown.

I did not buy a bike because I necessarily enjoy biking: I do not consider myself a bicyclist any more than I consider myself an “automobilist.” I bought a bike because I want to get from “Point A” to “Point B” using the least amount of money. I am a strict utilitarian when it comes to transportation, so let’s break down the math:

The bike cost $339.95. Extra parts and tax brought the total to $483.54.

That purchase was thirteen weeks ago, and since then I’ve only gone through two tanks of gas for my car ($60), almost entirely from commuting to Buffalo. Using a conservative estimate of $20 in gas expenses per week, I’ve already saved $260, bringing the cost of the bike down to $223.54. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s recommended I get my car oil changed this month (which I will), or at 111,000 miles. I’m just over 109,000 miles. In four months I’ve only put 300 miles on my car (!!!). Even a novice quickly sees that the real savings is in the life of the car and fewer trips to the mechanic. Given proper care, my car will last exponentially longer than it would have otherwise.

When I do need to buy a new car, I do not need to “invest” in a car with “high safety ratings,” “good gas mileage,” or “snow tires.” I don’t use my car enough to warrant buying any of these high-priced items. I can instead buy a cheap, used car and start the same process all over again. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars saved over the course of a lifetime.

So where does all the money I save go? Into low-cost index funds for my retirement. The more money I can get into retirement accounts the better.

And that might not even be the best part. The best part might be that exercise has become a natural part of my life, much as it was for humans up until the industrial revolution. I no longer go to the gym to do cardio; I do cardio to get to the gym (and then do my strength training), which saves a ton of time. If my gym membership wasn’t so cheap I’d cancel it.

Granted, you need to live close to your job to make this work, but that’s another article in itself.


Difficult teammates

Sometimes we love all our teammates, but usually not. Usually we have a few teammates who annoy us.

I’ll take the later any day.

In her book The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, Pema Chodron explains why:

“Because they challenge us to the limits of our open-mindedness, difficult relationships are in many ways the most valuable for practice. The people who irritate us are the ones who inevitably blow our cover. Through them we might come to see our defenses very clearly. Shantideva explained it like this: If we wish to practice generosity and a beggar arrives, that’s good news. The beggar gives us an opportunity to learn how to give. Likewise, if we want to practice patience and unconditional loving-kindness and an enemy arrives, we are in luck. Without the ones who irritate us, we never have a chance to practice.”

The people who annoy you are teaching you where to practice.