Peet Brits

Hmm, but that doesn't make any sense…

Does true love exists?

Posted by Peet Brits on May 25, 2010

Or to rephrase the question, is it possible to fall in love and stay together with the same person your entire life? Even if this love is your first love?

The mushy short-term loving feeling is to pull people together, and once they are together they need to commit to make it work.

My grandfather died a few weeks ago. I was always amazed when I looked at my grandparent’s marriage. They were always together, worked hard to maintain the house, and always did everything as a team. Yes they argued a lot because they got frustrated with each other, but even then it was as if they knew that, no matter what, they were always better off together.

This mindset that life is hard and you have to make it work, no matter what, is something that died away a few generations back. We no longer know the meaning of commitment. We no longer know the meaning of family. Life has become too easy and too comforting. We sit lazily on the couch and watch TV. We quit our job and get a new one. People enter relationships only to have fun, kiss and have sex, and when things get rough, they quit and get a new one. Etc. etc. etc.

And yes, all people are not like this, but this has definitely become the trend. My point is not that true love does not exists any more, but that our modern society has suffocated it.

Posted in Art of Living | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Health Risk: Toxic Human Behaviour

Posted by Peet Brits on April 27, 2010

It is important not to return other people’s negative behaviour or things will only get worse. Dr. Kim wrote a great article about what a person can do about negative behaviour, which he labelled toxic behaviour.

Toxic behaviour is bad for your emotional health, as it influences your organ system health, especially the nervous and endocrine systems. Emotional health is largely affected by our daily interactions with others. You know that you are a victim of human toxicity when another person’s behaviour makes you feel bad regularly. This includes intimidation, hurtful gossip, excessive complaining, discouragement to follow your dreams, and taking advantage of kindness and resources while pressuring you with guilt.

I strongly suggest that you read Dr. Kim’s article for more detail. In this post I will only summarise his suggested process of dealing with toxic people and behaviour in four steps:

A) (The first step applies to anyone.) If you are the cause, then apologise. Ask a trustworthy person for their opinion to help you clear your mind. If you are not the cause and the person is not a frequent contact, then silently say goodbye and move on. (For example, an unkind customer.)

I applied this concept in my own life while in traffic. Normally road rage leads to the blowing of horns, shouts of insults, and displays of unspeakable sign language. Instead of returning the behaviour like everyone else, I started repaying evil with good. Whenever someone got angry with me, even when I was completely innocent, I would simply smile and wave. This is not a wave loaded with negative emotions, but a wave that said, “I am sorry and I forgive you, no harm was done.” Most peoples’ faces would soften immediately, and once a woman even blushed. I must tell you, it felt great, much better than the rotten after-taste of anger.

B) Develop compassion. (This step applies to someone that is at least a regular contact.) Toxic behaviour is learned or caused by hurt, disappointment or anger, so your compassion must become greater in order to overcome or quell your own hurt, but do not become a doormat.

C) Have patience. (This step also applies to someone that is at least a regular contact.) Wait for them to apologise. Teach them that you want them to treat you with kindness and respect.

D) (This final step only applies to someone close, in a deeply committed long-term relationship.) If there is no apology for too long, then you have to initiate a make-up session (proactive and even martyr-like). Hopefully your initiative will motivate them to take more responsibility for their actions next time. The key is to reach a peaceful and loving environment, with the hope of increasing understanding and intimacy.

Posted in Art of Living | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Eugene Terre’Blanche murdered. Now what?

Posted by Peet Brits on April 4, 2010

Normally I do not involve myself with politics, but this in an exception.

Eugene Terre’Blanche was murdered on Saturday. I was never a big fan of the AWB, but hell I am angry! Is no one safe anymore?

Violence is not the answer.

Nelson Mandela had a dream of a united South Africa. The ANC today does not care about his dreams. They only piggybacked on his fame to get to a position of authority, and now we have “reversed apartheid,” where all the fingers are pointed at the whites while they screw South Africa over. You could say they stabbed Nelson Mandela in the back, and now he is too old to fight back.

Where should we turn?

Helen Zille from the DA has done a lot for South Africa. She was named the world’s best major in 2008. You might blame me now for advertising a political party, but I belief the DA is the only party with the potential and capacity to unite South Africa.

Some people will not vote for the DA because they are not against gay marriages or abortions, but what does that have to do with ruling a nation? Those are moral issues, not government issues. Gays will be gay regardless of what government has to say about it. The same goes for abortions.

The ANC has had almost two decades to prove their ability to run South Africa, but as far as I am concerned, they failed. Perhaps I exaggerate, but ask any person that regularly reads the news what they think of the ANC and its rulers. I am not even going to bother to begin giving examples.

Our challenge is to get the majority of black people in South Africa to realise this. Democracy cannot work in a country where it is white versus black, because in this country the blacks will always outnumber the whites. We must work together to make them see that our current government, the ANC, only cares about their own ways.

Do not take my word for it, follow Helen Zille on FaceBook and decide for yourself.

Enough ranting from me. This post will probably not reach a big enough audience to make a difference, but I can only hope. So much for a happy Easter.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

When should people divorce?

Posted by Peet Brits on January 22, 2010

The question of divorce is a very significant one, especially with the increasingly high divorce rate. On the one extreme, Christians would say that people should not divorce, because they made a promise before God. I cannot help but feel that they are somehow dodging the real question. The other extreme would say that people should simply live together, or use their first marriage as a trial marriage. Do these people even realise how much hurt this can bring, especially to the children?

I am happy to say that I have recently heard a discussion on the radio that would properly answer the question. This is from someone who attended a marriage counselling seminar. The topic eventually turned to divorce, and the professor made an interesting statement.

Note: This was a secular event, so there was no religious bias in the reply.

This is how the conversation went:

“So doctor, when should we suggest a divorce?”

“Never.”

“Never? Did you say never?”

“Yes, never. The person you married is the person you were supposed to marry. If you divorce and marry again, then you will marry the same person, just with a different face and a different name.”

I think that speaks for itself. I only have one thing to add. Lately I have become convinced that the family is the foundation of society. If you destroy the family, then you will eventually destroy society.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your comments.

The question of divorce is a very significant one, especially with the increasingly high divorce rate. On the one extreme, Christians would say that people should not divorce, because they made a promise before God. I cannot help but feel that they are somehow dodging the real question. The other extreme would say that people should simply live together, or use their first marriage as a trial marriage. Do these people even realise how much hurt this can bring, especially to the children?

I am happy to say that I have recently heard a discussion on the radio that would properly answer the question. This is from someone who attended a marriage counselling seminar. The topic eventually turned to divorce, and the professor made an interesting statement. Note that this was a secular event, so there was no religious bias in the reply.

This is how the conversation went:

“So doctor, when should we suggest a divorce?”

“Never.”

“Never? Did you say never?”

“Yes, never. The person you married is the person you were supposed to marry. If you divorce and marry again, then you will marry the same person, just with a different face and a different name.”

I think that speaks for itself. I only have one thing to add. Lately I have become convinced that the family is the foundation of society. If you destroy the family, then you will eventually destroy society.

Posted in Art of Living | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Writing IT Documentation

Posted by Peet Brits on November 10, 2009

How many programmers would agree that there is a lot of useless IT documentation out there, mostly because they state the obvious. Microsoft documentation is often very guilty of this. For example, is the phrase “creates a new XML Node” really a good definition for “XmlNode”?

I am not here to rand and rave about problems, but rather to suggest possible solutions. There is a long forgotten rule that I would like to point out:

Rule: Do not use the defined word inside its definition.

Most definitions stating the obvious is guilty of breaking this rule. Let me go back to my “XmlNode” example from earlier. Instead of stating the obvious, which everybody already knows, most people reading the documentation would probably want to know the difference between “XmlNode” and “XmlElement”. Here is a hint for applying the rule: Begin your sentence with “An XmlNode is a <…>”.

I know most programmers would rather eat their hat than write documentation, but when you absolutely have to do something, at least do a decent job at it! I hope this post will set the right mindset for writing better documentation.

Posted in Code (Programming) | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Couch: A Look at Human Lifestyle

Posted by Peet Brits on January 7, 2009

Tempting Sofa

Tempting Sofa

I might not be posting anything anytime soon after this article as my studies started this week. (Whoohoo!) It already feels like I am behind! Now I quickly need to get this topic off my mind in order to focus. Focus comes from self-discipline, which is partly what this article is about. All right, enough advertising. Hope you enjoy my latest idea.

Introduction

Often one might notice people striving towards a goal, or living a healthy lifestyle, but as soon as they reach their aim, they abandon the good habits and relax in the comfort of it. For example, a person being fit and healthy in high school gets fat the moment they start earning their own money. Another person’s dream was to get married, and the moment they cross that milestone they start behaving in a very different manner towards their partner.

What happened? Why did it happen?

I call this idea The Couch.

How Does It Happen?

Path To Couch

Path To Couch

Consider that we are all walking along a path. This is the path of human life. We could reach two types of milestones on this journey: one of comfort and one of a challenge. Comfort represents life’s luxuries, such as your first income or a raise. Challenges represent problems, especially those seeming too big to overcome.

This is where the couch comes in. It tempts us to sit down and rest when we are not yet tired. If we fail to overcome these milestones, whether by relaxing in comfort or defeated by our challenges, we end up sitting down on the couch (hypothetically speaking). This poisonous state of rest is the danger zone that keeps us from progressing on the road of life.

Many people might still be aware of this and attempt to get up. They would try to move one, but many times all they end up doing is walking right around it and then sit back down again. Once they enter this cycle they rarely move on without a huge amount of effort or help from some external motivator.

What the Couch Is Not

The couch is not a bed. A bed is a well-determined state or rest. You sleep totally; maybe a little lazy over weekends, but then you get up and go through your regular daily activities.

With the couch, you are neither sleeping nor awake. You are in some undefined state in between. It is like watching too much television: it makes procrastination feels good. This state of neither good nor bad is the main reason for the lack of motivation to change our behaviour.

To give another example, this is probably why people find it so hard to stop smoking, even once they know it is bad for their health. It feels good and they do not see any immediate damage done by it, so there is no threat to make them change.

They Come In Different Sizes

There is not a single path passing along a single couch, rather many different paths representing different areas of our lives, and many types of couches appearing on all of them. There are smaller ones, which you can easily get up from if you tried. The medium sized ones require a lot of effort to get up from, and you have to keep yourself in check for a few months in order not to sit right back down again. The big couches are almost impossible to move away from without additional help.

The longer you sit on a couch the more hard-wired it becomes in your brain and the harder it gets to move on. Self-control is in my opinion the biggest challenge any human being could possibly face. One can enforce self-control by healthy habits and routines, but then you must be aware that it becomes easy to overindulge once we break away from these routine. Overindulgence is an enjoyable form of self-abuse, coming from excuses like “well I am on holiday”. Urges have consequences, and we should prepare ahead [1].

Observations and Tips

Before people reach the couch it would seem like they are living towards a goal, but because this goal is not concrete, not written down or well thought about, it quickly fades away over time. Enjoying every moment of life is important, but one must never do so without any concern for the future or in ignorance of the past.

Some people live in denial. I have personally heard people say that they hate something, but once the wheel of fortune turns in their favour they immediately become what they once despised. I think they actually envied it, hating not having it.

Do you think this is ironic? To be able to pretend is uniquely human [2]. No man can lie like the man lying to himself.

One thing that I learned over the last year is to stop thinking about what you should be doing, how long it is supposed to take, how nice it would be once it is done, and just do what you are supposed to be doing.  That is right, stop idle planning and JUST DO IT.

NOW!

Resources

  1. I read this tip in a 1Time airplane magazine.
  2. This is from an article in Scientific American, comparing human two-year-olds with monkeys.

Posted in Art of Living, Psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What makes time tick?

Posted by Peet Brits on December 13, 2008

[I wrote this article over a year ago, 16-Nov-2007 to be exact, and originally published it on my facebook account.  I decided to publish it again on this blog because I really like the message.]

Did you ever wonder why time passes so quickly when you are enjoying yourself?  Why does water never boil when you are staring at it?  More importantly, have you ever came to the end of a year and wonder what you did during the past year?  What happened to the time?

I noticed something interesting by comparing these last two years.  This past year went by at an amazing speed.  It still feels like yesterday when I started with my new job in March.  The previous year, on the other hand, felt like a decade.  This is not because I was bored; in fact, I probably had many more activities that year than this.

So, what is the difference?

Where did I miss out?

As I pondered over these questions, I thought of all the things I did over these two years.  What I noticed was that two years ago I had a certain event that was a highlight of every week.  My whole week would build up towards that certain activity.  This year, however, the time just seemed to pass by.  Sure, I still had fun activities every week, like my rock climbing, but somehow each moment simply dragged on into the next.

This year I also spent most of the time wondering what happened to my time.  I noticed that I spend many more hours at work and in traffic.  This is something that I plan to change in the near future.  I no longer see the point in working overtime.  It is a fact that I am far less original and inventive when overworked and tired, but that is a completely different topic altogether.

What is the point of this?

Why would I even write this if it feels like I have no time to begin with?

I am still putting together all the pieces, but it seems like one must make time count.  In a world where everyone believes time is money, I must stop and quote what I heard from a certain Jean Symons: “Love is time”.  Find what you love in life and dedicate your time to it.  I believe you will surely reap the rewards.

Quotes

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t
own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it
you can never get it back.
Harvey MacKay

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
Douglas Adams  (I couldn’t resist…)

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin

My history is like a long dark tunnel with a few lighthouses of significant events on the way.
The Textures of Silence, (my own translation)
(Thus, if you do not add the significance of passion, love, or any other strong emotion into these moments, your whole life falls into a series of events simply flowing into one another.  Then, when you look back on a year, all you see is a dark tunnel).

Posted in Art of Living | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

C# 4.0

Posted by Peet Brits on November 26, 2008

Anyone seen the new C# 4.0 features? (Examples can be found from the C# October 2008 CTP page).

Well done on (still) copying Python (and other related dynamic languages) into your so-called statically typed language.

You guys make me proud.

Posted in Code (Programming) | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Programmers: far more than typists

Posted by Peet Brits on November 26, 2008

typing

typing

I recently read a post by Jeff Atwood where he states that programmers are typists first and programmers second. This is something that I could never agree with.

I am a Software Developer. I should be part of the whole development cycle. That means, among other things, I design, write, test and maintain my own and other people’s code. The initial coding is possibly not more than 20% of the full cycle. In fact, according to this post by Peter Hallam, it is no more than 5%! How then can we possibly be typists first and programmers second?

A programmer is not a cog in the machine; he invents the cogs and arranges them in the machine. He is not a factory element; he is the one building the factory. Sure, there are different roles and requirements, but this is what developing software is all about.

Yes, I agree that typing is one of the fundamental requirements for programming, but a programmer is so much more.

To agree with Jeff, if you do not know how to type, it is not really that hard to learn. Get yourself a typing tutor and invest some time in practicing. However, the day programmers become nothing more than mere typists is the day I leave IT.

Posted in IT Industry | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

True Sceptic, or Noisy Idiot?

Posted by Peet Brits on November 18, 2008

blogging

blogging

More and more sceptical websites seems to be appearing all over the internet. This in itself is a good thing, but how many of them are truly sceptical?

It is easy to take on a topic that is black and white, right or wrong. One must be willing to question public opinion and do a lot of research, but in the end, there usually is an absolute answer.

The biggest challenge lies in grey areas: there where there seems to be no absolute right or wrong answer and even if there is, it is rather hard to prove. This is the true test of character.

The reason for raising this issue is that most people, when faced with an uncertain challenge, fall back to personal beliefs and convictions. I have seen many of these websites, filled with fallacies and mockery. Sometimes it is fine to use mockery with an abundance of evidence, but still, since mockery is an attack of the person rather than an attack of the argument, it is something of which most scientifically minded people should never make themselves guilty.

To all those people who like hearing the sound of their own voice: just because your opinion differs from that of the public does not suddenly make you sceptics. I think it is best that I do not provide links to any of these pages.

As an example I will point to Brian Dunning, from skeptoid.com, who did a podcast with the topic Who kills more, religion or atheism. Most people would rather choose to avoid this topic, and those who do talk about it usually do so out of anger for the other side. I must say that his opinion is the best answer I have ever heard on this topic. Listen to (or read) it, and make up your own mind.

I am not against scepticism, sometimes I just get frustrated…

Posted in Random Stuff | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »