TITLE: No Shortcuts
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: November 18, 2006 9:17 AM
I overhead a conversation in the locker room yesterday that
saddened me. Two university students were chatting about
their lives and work-outs. In the course of discussing
their rather spotty exercise routines, one of them said
that he was planning to start using creatine as a way to
develop a leaner "look".
is a naturally-occurring compound that some folks use
as a nutritional supplement.
Maybe I'm a fuddy-duddy, but I'm a little leery about using
supplements to enhance my physical appearance and performance.
It also may just be a matter of where to draw the line; I
am willing to take multivitamins and zinc supplements for
my immune system. The casual use of creatine by regular guys,
though, seems like something different: an attempted shortcut.
There aren't all that many shortcuts to getting better in this
world. Regular exercise and a good diet will help you develop
a leaner body and the ability to perform better athletically.
The guys I overhead knew that they could achieve the results
they needed by exercising and cutting back on their beer
consumption, but they wanted to reach their goal without
having to make the changes needed to get there in the usual
The exercise-and-diet route also has other positive effects on
one's body and mind, such as increased stamina and better sleep.
Taking a supplement may let you target a specific goal, but the
healthier approach improves your whole person.
Then there's the question of whether taking a supplement actually
achieves the promised effect...
These thoughts about no shortcuts reminded me of something I
read on Bob Martin's blog a few weeks ago, called
There Bob cautioned against the natural inclination not to
work hard enough to slog through other people's programs. We
all figure sometimes that we can learn more just by writing
our own code, but Bob tells us that reading other people's
code is an essential part of a complete learning regimen.
"Get your wading boots on."
I've become sensitized to this notion over the last few years
as I've noticed an increasing tendency among some of even my
best students to not want to put in the effort to read their
textbooks. "I've tried, and I just don't get it. So I just
study your lecture notes." As good as my lecture notes might
be, they are no substitute for the text. And the student would
grow by making the extra effort it takes to read a technical
There are no shortcuts.