Getting Older

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Birthdays are a funny thing, aren’t they? Let’s look at this tweet for example,

It’s @haacked’s birthday. Give him crap about getting old.

No gifts, please. Especially not what Charlie suggests.

Of course I’m getting older. We’re all getting older. Every second of every day and twice on Monday. Every femtosecond even. Perhaps the only time we’re not getting older is the moment within a Planck time interval. But once that interval is up, yep, you’re older.

Yet people apparently live their lives completely oblivious to this fact until they’re next birthday comes along. As the chronometer slides the next number into place, the realization dawns, “Damn! I’m older!” What? You didn’t know this?!

Feeling Older

The odd thing to me is that I don’t really feel older, mentally. I mean, I consciously know I’m older, but I feel like there’s this smooth continuum from my first memory to now. While the things I spend time thinking about have changed, the way I think about others and about myself feels like it hasn’t changed. I’m the same person then as I am now, and that kind of blows my mind.

For example, I still think fart jokes are funny.

In my mind, old people tell you how they used to walk miles uphill both ways to get to school. But I realize that these days, old people tell you about how they used to have to use their phone to connect online at 1200 baud. And there was no internet!!! OMG! What the hell were we connecting to?

Rather than feeling older, I am observing the evidence that I’m older. For example, I used the word “baud” in this blog post. Another example is how injuries now take much longer to heal. I have two kids, a four year old and a two year old and I’m pretty sure that if I were to slice them clean in half, that’d only put them out of commission for a week. They’d heal up and have no scars! Meanwhile, if I get a paper cut on a finger I can pretty much kiss that finger goodbye. Write it off as a loss and start practicing typing with two bloody stumps for hands.

Getting Experienced

But it’s not just physical. I do notice that while I don’t feel older, I do have the benefit of many more years of experience to draw upon. But more importantly, I’m finally actually paying attention to that. Go figure.

Last week, we had our GitHub summit and Friday was our field trip day to a distillery then a bar. This was the night set aside to party hard. Which is amazing to me because the night before I’m pretty sure we as a company consumed enough alcohol to bring elephants to extinction.

But I drew upon my experience and took it easy because I had a flight early the next morning and I did not want to be sick on an airplane. Contrast this to a few years before at Tech-Ed Hong Kong when I was out with some local friends and at 5:00 AM I had to leave the bar early to catch a flight. For the first time in my life, I contemplated suicide.

Some might call that getting wiser. I call it pain avoidance.

Knowing Less

The other evidence of my getting older is that I know a lot less now than I did when I was younger. Certainly that can’t be true in the absolute sense since I don’t have alzheimer’s (that I’m aware of anyways). But I remember as a young programmer I knew everything!

I knew the right way to do all things in all situations with absolute conviction. But these days, I’m not so sure. About anything. All I have is the breadth of my experience and pattern matching at my disposal. Each new situation is simply a pattern matching exercise against my database of experience followed by an experiment to see if what I thought I knew produces good results.

The great thing about this approach is when you know everything, you have nothing to learn. But now, I’m constantly learning. Many of my experiments fail because many of my experiences are no longer relevant today. The world changes. Quickly. But each experiment is an opportunity to learn.

Staying Young

So yeah, I’m getting older, but I’ve found a loophole. Remember the kids I mentioned slicing in half? I’m not going to do that because I’m worried I’d end up with four of them then and two are already a handful.

These two do a great job of making me feel young because they will laugh at every fart joke I can come up with.

So thanks for all the birthday wishes on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. Here’s to getting older!

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Comments

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25 responses

  1. Avatar for Ryan
    Ryan January 23rd, 2012

    So true on the slicing kids in half theory. Though theoretically it depends on if the slice is lateral or longitudinal. Nonetheless you are best not to try it.
    Happy Birthday!

  2. Avatar for me
    me January 23rd, 2012

    Oldy :O

  3. Avatar for Kyle
    Kyle January 23rd, 2012

    Very nice post. Happy Birthday.

  4. Avatar for Calvin
    Calvin January 23rd, 2012

    Glad I'm not the only one still left out there that can find humor in bodily functions.
    Happy Birthday!

  5. Avatar for Bob
    Bob January 23rd, 2012

    Happy Birthday! -- nice post! LOL (and thanks for your previous posts about your hosting provider: just jumped on-board with them!)

  6. Avatar for Robin van der Knaap
    Robin van der Knaap January 23rd, 2012

    This is a great fart joke on youtube Jurassic Fart. If your kids like fart jokes and dinos like mine do :)

  7. Avatar for Tamizhvendan S
    Tamizhvendan S January 24th, 2012

    Happy birthday Haack :-)

  8. Avatar for Shrif
    Shrif January 24th, 2012

    Happy birthday sir!!

  9. Avatar for Ken Egozi
    Ken Egozi January 24th, 2012

    farty birthday

  10. Avatar for James Manning
    James Manning January 24th, 2012

    Speaking as a fellow geezer, may I ask for you or your fellow githubblers (something something glasses, lenses, telescopes) to start a github VS extension? I like the Git SCC extension, but c'mon, bring the whole experience into the IDE! github is more than just source control, after all :)

  11. Avatar for Peter
    Peter January 24th, 2012

    Hey Phil,
    I turned 30 last weekend and know exactly what you mean :-)

    Cheers!

  12. Avatar for Paul Cole
    Paul Cole January 24th, 2012

    Knowing Less: that's exactly what I've been feeling for quite a while, though I do wonder if it's because there's so much more opportunity to learn new tech now with the internet than there was 10-15 years ago, back then I'd buy a book, read it and think I knew everything about the subject, these days I've got a million and one websites to go to, which is great but also a little overwhelming.

  13. Avatar for Julien Bérubé
    Julien Bérubé January 24th, 2012

    At 29, as ironic as it may sound, I realize that the more I learn, the more I faced to the fact that I don't know much. Knowledge is such a Pandora Box.

  14. Avatar for Pat gannon
    Pat gannon January 24th, 2012

    Happy b-day! Section about knowing less is 100% gold! Totally agree (for myself)

  15. Avatar for Mark
    Mark January 24th, 2012

    First, happy birthday! Secondly, how the hell do you keep your computer room (from what I saw from the pic) so clean? Or did you photoshop all the toys, etc. out of the pic?

  16. Avatar for haacked
    haacked January 24th, 2012

    @mark the kids are only allowed in my office for photo ops. ;)

  17. Avatar for Felix Martinez
    Felix Martinez January 24th, 2012

    Awesome logos on the macbook. Github talking Nuget, priceless!

  18. Avatar for Ryan
    Ryan January 24th, 2012

    There's great freedom in knowing less.

  19. Avatar for Jose Gonzalez
    Jose Gonzalez January 24th, 2012

    Feliz Cumpleaños! I also have two kids: 4 and 10months. They make me feel like a kid (as stated on your post) but also old because they won't stop growing! I tried not feeding them but they don't seem to like that very much (a joke btw!)

  20. Avatar for John Bledsoe
    John Bledsoe January 24th, 2012

    I haven't changed the music on my iPod in a couple of years. Added a song here or there, but the core playlists are the the same. Very little new music is good, or good compared to the stuff I like.
    Therefore, I am old.

  21. Avatar for Vitamine
    Vitamine January 25th, 2012

    You got to the heart of it. Stay yourself no matter how old you are.

  22. Avatar for Pes 2012 Update
    Pes 2012 Update January 25th, 2012

    Happy birthday :) Don't worry phil. I think Your childs 're giving power for feeling young to you :))

  23. Avatar for Filini
    Filini January 30th, 2012

    happy birthday :-)

  24. Avatar for Sandy Mauck
    Sandy Mauck February 13th, 2012

    Great post, Phil. These are the conversations I think we all need to have regardless of what "trimester" we are in. If we are to really change our world, we will see that each generation has much to contribute and we can find one another through our common humanity. I am in my third trimester and I feel better than ever I did, I'm happier and more dedicated to my own growth as well as that of others. Keep on keeping on folks. It's worth it!!!!

  25. Avatar for Zauberkünstler
    Zauberkünstler June 11th, 2012

    I am honest. I don't like getting older. My little daughter is growing too fast and I would love to have more time to spend with her. I have learned that the 2 most important factors in life are "time" and "health". If you have both you should thank for it!