“The Lack of Information is Information”

My observations provide the material for my blog posts as long as something entertaining, enlightening or useful can be derived from them. For the previous two months, I’ve been maintaining a cash flow positive work-life while looking for the next thing in yet another new city. I’ve detected a smaller number than usual entertaining, enlightening or useful things lately. I’ll heed Albert Einstein’s advice though.

Full disclosure, I’ve been reviewing legal documents for large-scale corporate lawsuit at an hourly rate. It’s boring, but keeps me out of my savings account. Consequently, I haven’t found much that I think is worth posting about until the other day.

There I was in the massive horizontal office space outside of Austin among 100 or so licensed attorneys. We don’t talk much. There are no partitions between us, yet there is little socializing.

Then, my project supervisor called me over to her desk for training on coding documents for the next project. These trainings are as mind-numbing as the work itself, but I get to stand up from my workspace and talk to people. During training, the project supervisor went through how to code the documents in vociferous fashion and said something that I found blog worthy, “Lack of information is information.”

Maybe I am losing it (if I had “it”), but these 5 words resonated with me, as applicable to countless interactions I’ve had. Perhaps it was the type of small “miracle” Einstein talked about.

This “lack of information” notion is as applicable in dating as it is in any other arena of my life. I’ve had good and bad fortune, but during at least one phase of almost every romantic relationship, one person wonders why the other isn’t texting, emailing, calling, snapchatting, DMing or communicating back on their time frame.

Based on the notion that, “lack of information is information,” if you don’t hear from someone, it means they aren’t trying to communicate with you. They may become more interested, but they aren’t as interested during the “why won’t they call me” phase OR they are a game player. This is information. Sounds common sensical, but is not commonly kept in mind in such a situation.

I, for one, continuously encounter this communication game fairly often as a single person. It usually indicates that the prima facie relationship is not meant to be, but being in a nice, casual relationship can ease the sting of loneliness and be an important personal connection.

Lately, I’ve tried reconnecting with a woman with whom I was in a romantic relationship that lives on another continent. The geographical barriers between us are probably not the most significant reasons we won’t be together in the long run, but I still like and enjoy communicating with her. Her response rate is approximately 30%. Her lack of responses are information. For whatever reason, she doesn’t want to communicate. She may have a new boyfriend. She might not feel the fire. Who knows? Who cares? Me, a little bit.

Onward, the “lack of information” notion is applicable in interviewing for jobs too. I’ve had mostly good fortune without a ton of material success. By that, I mean I have been rejected from jobs and later determined I didn’t want them anyway. Between the final interview and final offer decision for some of these jobs, I’ve had to wait on an answer for weeks.

During this post-interview waiting period, I didn’t have any information to tell me whether I would get an offer. The “lack of information” was always a signal that the hiring party hadn’t decided whether they wanted to hire me OR they knew they didn’t want to hire me and played coy about giving me their decision. The latter way of doing it is nauseating and unprofessional, but I digress.

Relating this philosophy to someone famous, Cal Fussman, a wonderfully skilled orator, urges hopeful speakers to “use the silence.” If you watch and hear him speak, you’ll quickly notice how he uses the silence as intently as he does his words. His silence ranges from meaning, “let that awe-inspiring story I just told you sink in” to “I have the floor, keep listening.” Fussman’s silence or “lack of information” is information.

There are volumes more I could say here and maybe I’ll come back and add later, but I’ll leave it here for now. Lack of information is information.

Below is a rad picture of Costa Rica. I won’t tell you exactly what I did there. Lack of information is information.

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Costa Rica Return

Pura Vida!

After returning from Costa Rica slightly over 3 years ago, I stumbled through various jobs and international forays to reach where I am right now. Writing about what I’ve learned feels like it trivializes it. It’s been fun, disappointing, eye-opening and a whole lot of other things. While my experiences in Costa Rica and China may have made getting a satisfying job more difficult, my only regrets are not committing to more time in both places. Surprisingly, the deepest understandings have come while I’ve been in the USA trying to find my way. Enough introspection.

For some time, I’ve thought I sold myself short by staying put in Costa Rica for the 7 month period I did. My wanderlust nagged at me with this notion that I should have visited and lived in other Latin American countries. After all, there’s a whole continent (actually 2) below Panama. My return trip there wholly refuted this notion. While I haven’t fully committed to one place in USA yet, I can now state with far more certainty that I am thrilled and proud to have made Costa Rica my only home for the 7 month period that I did. This is three-fold.

  1. Relationships – I haven’t fully divulged how I scoured and found my place in Costa Rica. It was some trial and error and some adventure. Nonetheless, I ended up in a room of a great house near San Jose. Three Costa Rican, med-student brothers were my roommates. By the time I left, I felt like a temporary member of their family. Well I returned to stay at their house and the place and room fit like an old shoe. What’s more, I was again treated like family. How fortunate and proud I am to have a second-family there. This was only possible because I stayed the course in Costa Rica during my time there. Here is a picture of the central reference point in Santa Ana, San Jose, Costa Rica.

 

Iglesia Catolica

2.  Language – Because I stayed the course in the same country and made efforts to pick         up the language. Speaking it was like riding a bike even though I had not practiced or       studied it since leaving there 3 years ago.

3.  Local Knowledge – This seems like an intangible, but obvious point. That said, I felt a         high level of comfort taking an adventure to a Costa Rican city I had not previously           been to. Getting around there was far easier, because I lived there previously.

All told, have a full-watch of my YouTube video about the time I went back to Costa Rica for the first time since living there 3 years previously.

 

Musings of 2018

I still have my health and friends, so the foundation still stands on solid ground. That said, 2018 was one hell of a self-induced struggle. I learned more from it than any other year.

Trying really hard is a sure way to learn and an almost as certain of a way to fail. I take pride in appreciating my life as much as the next guy, but if my biography were written today, it would probably have to be entitled something like, “Wasted Effort.” I’ve tried at things that were not matching my energy, which leads me to 2019’s mantra, which will be to ‘go where [my] energy is matched.

Have you ever really wanted to be with someone, but you were always the one reaching out and trying to make plans to eventually find out the other person had other priorities? That doesn’t make the pursued person stupid, but the pursuer is almost always better served by directing their efforts elsewhere. I’ve learned this is the case in innumerable other areas.

On that note, one quote I heard this year really stuck with me. That is, “the teacher has failed more times than the student has even tried.” I’m not sure anything encapsulates or rings as true for 2018 as that does for me. As I did just before New Year’s last year, I have finished this year’s posts with a collection of quotes from things I read and observed over the past 365 days. Those quotes and three pictures that imply and prove how incalculably lucky I am are below:

From The Tao of Seneca

“No good thing renders its possessor happy, unless his mind is reconciled to the possibility of loss;”

“at which is enough is ready to our hands. He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich.”

“The present alone make no man wretched.”

“Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.”

“Democritus says: One man means as much to me as a multitude and a multitude only as much as one man.”

“Your good qualities should face inwards.”

The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene

“The successful courtier learned over time to make all of his moves indirect; if he stabbed an opponent in the back, it was with a Velvet glove on his hand and the sweetest of smiles on his face.”

“To avoid the taint of power, you attempt to treat everyone equally and fairly, you will confront the problem that some do certain things better than others.  Treating everyone the same mean ignoring their differences, elevating the less skillful and suppressing those who excel.”

“Many of those who behave this way are actually deploying  another power strategy, redistributing power rewards in a way that they determine.”

“An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings.”

“our ideal wiseman feels his troubles, but overcomes them.”

“… the wise man is self-sufficient, that he can do without friends, not that he desires to do without them….. he endures the loss of a friend with equanimity.”

“When one is busy and absorbed in one’s work, the very absorption affords great delight, but when one has withdrawn one’s hand from the completed masterpiece, the pleasure is not so keen.”

“These are so-called “fair-weather”friendships; one who is chosen for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as he is useful.”

“unblest is he who thinks himself unblest.”

“You can never straighten that which is crooked unless you use a ruler.”

 

Year of Yes, Shonda Rimes

“It’s pretty shameful of me to sit around saying I’m miserable when there are uno bullets in my face and no one’s kidnapped me or killed me or left me alone to treat all of the lepers.”

 

Building a Rocketship Masterclass

“No astronaut launches for space with their fingers crossed.”

 

Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

“Over the millennia, small simple cultures gradually coalesce into bigger and more complex civilizations. So that the world contains fewer and fewer mega cultures, each of which is more and more complex…. At the micro level, it seems that for every group of cultures that coalesces into a mega-culture, there’s a megaculture that breaks up into pieces.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Complete Yoga Book, James Hewitt

“All techniques of Yoga aim to produce tranquillity…..all have a relaxing influence that is widely acknowledged as probably Yoga’s greatest advantage for WEstern man. For he lives at a pace unknown to his forefathers and his nervous system has to cope with a bombardment of stimuli that would have been intolerable to earlier generations.”

“Who is the richest of us?”…’He by whose departure the body seems worst, he is the richest.”

“Mediation works upon the nervous system and the organism’s physiological processes, and the results are extended beyond the duration of a daily session of contemplation to bring increased  physical and psychical  poise to life’s daily activities.”

“The history of the western man has been one of conquering nature. He has sought for the meaning of life outside of human consciousness. In contrast, the Eastern truth-seeker has looked within himself.”

 

Kite Runner,

“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”

 

12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson

“In a small town, everyone knows who you are. You drag your years behind you like a running dog with tin cans tied to its tail. You can’t escape who you have been.”

“When you move, everything is up in the air, at least for a while. It’s stressful, but in the chaos there are new possibilities.”

“The person who tries and fails, and is forgiven, and then tries again and fails, and is forgiven, is also too often the person who wants everyone to believe in the authenticity of all that trying.”

“When it’s not just naivety, the attempt to rescue someone is often filed by vanity and narcissism.”

 

The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield

“If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving life God intended when he endowed each of us with our own unique genius.”

“It goes without saying that this principle applies to drugs, shopping, masturbation, TV, gossip, alcohol, and the consumption of all products containing fat, sugar, salt or chocolate.”

“Fundamentalism is the philosophy of the powerless, the conquered, the displaced, the dispossessed.”

“If you find yourself criticizing others, you are probably doing it out of resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own.”

“So if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.”

“The professional concentrates on the work and allows the rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”

“Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace.”

“Of any activity you do, ask yourself: if I were the last person on Earth, would I still do it?”

 

Linchpin, Seth Godin

“If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job.”

The linchpin says, “I don’t want a job that a non-linchpin could get.”

“The linchpin is hungry, scared, and horny.”

“The lizard brain is the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.”

“The lizard brain is in charge of fight or flight, of anger, and of survival,. That’s all we used to need, and even now, when there’s an emergency, the lizard brain is still in charge.”

“The whole [lizard brain] is called the basal ganglia, and there are two almond shaped bits in everyone’s brain. Scientists call these the amygdala, and this mini-brain apparently takes over whenever you are angry, afraid, aroused, hungry, or in search of revenge.”

“And when it is aroused, the other part of our brain stands little chance, particularly if we haven’t trained for these events.”

[It’s] “nearly impossible to talk an angry CEO down from a revenge rage.”

“He cost his company tons of time and money and goodwill.”

“You become a winner because you’re good at losing. The hard part about losing is that you might permit it to give strength to the resistance.”

“The people who break through usually have nothing to lose, and they almost never have a backup plan.”

“The resistance is so tenacious that it encourages you to speak up and drag down anyone around you with the temerity to dream.”

“Consider the argument that it’s just as likely you hold back out of fear that something might work.”

“The winners are, once again, the artists who give gifts.”

“Teamwork is the word bosses and coaches and teachers use when they actually mean, “Do what I say.”

“That’s why telemarketers who read scripts never achieve the results of salespeople who actually speak what they believe.”

“If you accept that human beings are difficult to change, and embrace (rather than curse) the uniqueness that everyone brings to the table, you’ll navigate the world with more bliss and effectiveness. And make better decisions, too…. There’s a media mogul who stole from my in 1987, and I haven’t spoken to him since. He doesn’t even know I exist, I bet. SO much for teaching him a lesson.”

“Fundamentalist zealots always manage to make the world smaller, poorer, and meaner.”

“IF there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.”

“It’s about figuring out whom we can trust and work with and who must be kept at bay.”

“Forward motion isn’t the default state of any group of people.”

“Understanding that your job is to make something happen changes what you do all day.”

“the power you bring to the table has to be very difficult to replace. Be bolder and think bigger. Nothing stopping you.”

“I think it makes sense to make your art your art, to give yourself over to it without regard for commerce.”

“The result of getting back in touch with our pre-commercial selves will actually create a post-commercial world that feeds us, enriches us, and gives us the stability we’ve been seeking for so long.”

Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud

“My hope is that you will be comfortable and confident in seeing, negotiating and even celebrating some endings that may be the door to a future even brighter than you could have imagined.”

“endings are often a necessity for a turnaround.”

“…some things die and some things need to be killed.”

“…good cannot begin until bad ends.”

“1. If an initiative is siphoning off resources that could go to something with more promise, it is pruned. 2. If an endeavor is sick and is not going to get well, it is pruned. 3. If it’s clear that something is already dead, it is pruned. This is the threefold formula for doing well in almost every arena of life.”

“… in order to succeed, we must prune. How does that make you feel? Conflicted? Welcome to the inner turmoil of necessary endings.”

“Positive is doing what is best and right for the business for the right people.”

“The very nature of people is that there are some good ones who are not right for you, some sick ones who are not going to change, and some who are adding nothing. Always.”

“Make the endings a normal occurence and a normal part of business and life, instead of seeing it as a problem.”

“If a situation falls within the range of normal, expected, and known, the human brain automatically marshals all available resources and moves to engage it.”

“…take a look at your worldview, and see if you see endings as a normal part of life, to be fought if they show up before their time but to be embraced when their time has come.”

“Life is composed of life cycles and seasons. Nothing lasts forever.”

“The map that makes people feel responsible for other people is one of the most ending-delaying maps there is.”

“You must finally see reality for what it is—…. that what is not working is not going to magically begin working.”

“Look at the degree to which you are driving the process.”

Lost Connections, Johann Hari

“work [that] is monotonous, boring, soul-destroying; [where] they die a little when they come to work each day, because their work touches no part of them that is them…. Disempowerment,…. Is at the heart of poor health” — physical, mental and emotional.”

“Every status update is just a variation of a single request; ‘Would someone please acknowledge me.”

“The Westerners will almost always describe the individual at the front of the crowd first, in a lot of detail—then they describe the crowd. For Asians, it’s the other way around; they’ll usually describe the crowd, and then, afterward, almost as an afterthought, they’ll describe the guy at the front.”

“The more unequal your society, the more prevalent all forms of mental illness are.”

“To say that grief should disappear on a neat timetable is an insult to the love we have felt”

 

The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer

“There is a source of energy you can draw upon from inside. The only reason you don’t feel this energy all the time is because you block it.”

“The only think you have to know is that opening allows energy in, and closing blocks it out.”

“You are either trying to push energies away because they bother you, or you are trying to keep energies close because you like them. In both cases, you are not letting them pass, and you are wasting precious energy by blocking the flow through resisting and clinging. The alternative is to enjoy life instead of clinging to it or pushing it away.”

“The reward for not protecting your psyche is liberation. You are free to walk through this world without a problem on your mind.”

“If you have a lot of fear, you won’t like change. You’ll try to create a world around you that is predictable, controllable, and definable. You’ll try to create a world that doesn’t stimulate your fears.”

Jay Shetty – Instagram video

“The teacher has failed more time than the student has even tried.”

 

My 12 Rules for Life

Having recently completed Jordan Peterson’s culturally significant, 12 Rules For Life, I thought to author my own.

In addition to the rules themselves, Peterson’s book encapsulates a multitude of valuable lessons with his own personal stories, metaphors and fables. I even referenced his writing in a recent YouTube video to explain some of the unconventional adventures I’ve had and documented (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_33kBnpdzo). A passage in Peterson’s book was the best way I could find to answer the question I get from friends, which is something like, “why the hell would you do that?”

Politics always aside, Peterson’s book has a little something for pretty much everyone.

These are off-the-cuff, but have been developed by 35.5 years of mostly easy living and thinking (often overthinking). I claim no advanced expertise on the subject past my own time on Earth. I know enough to know all of these are subject to change and change back. Here are my own 12 Rules for Life as of this moment:

1. Live off less than you make–This goes for people of all socio-economic classes. Coming from someone who has been salaried throughout the range of the 5 figure to small six-figure range in no particular order, I have found my stress level will stay low if I just live within my means. I am no Dave Ramsey, but living off of less than you make does a mind good. It’s not how much you make. It’s how much you keep.

2. Treat people, including yourself, as if the only benefit you will ever derive from how you treat them is your own memory of how you treated them–Having briefly navigated the worlds of high-level business, law, a tiny bit of international finance, as well as criminal defense, I understand how it feels to be used and played. Sadly, I’ve done the playing too. The first feels shittier than the latter, but neither feel as good as treating another with dignity, compassion and sometimes even love.
Immanuel Kant lived by a rule that could supersede this one. Mark Manson recently blogged about it: https://markmanson.net/the-one-rule-for-life
“Networking” itself flies in the face of this rule, as I understand “networking” to mean “meet people in case you need something from them, in a professional sense.” Going into networking events with the opposite mindset, which is to figure out how to help everyone you meet, would adhere to this rule. This mindset, however, is shared by only the minority of people you would there. I digress. I have found that just being good to people, including yourself, for its own sake, is the optimal, long-term human relations strategy. You may not get those backstage passes from your new high-up connection in the music business, but you may be remembered for something better than just another person who asks for favors. Be good to people, including yourself. The long-term results will be better for you.

3. Don’t be a donkey–This is the one I wish I had kept in the forefront of my mind over the past 3 years. It hurts to have learned it when I did and not earlier. I even blogged about it (https://jahodge6.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/shouldiliveabroad/). You can do everything you want to do if you are willing to do one of them at a time. I went to Costa Rica, came back to disastrously re-enter the real-world and then decided to set out on my original plan, which was to go to Asia after Costa Rica. This sequence is my greatest regret to date. I could have spent all the time I needed to abroad and then come home to work again. One thing at a time. Instead, I waffled back and forth straddling the US workforce and the more attractive demographic of world travelers while living mostly at my Mom’s. If you really want more than one thing, give one thing your full effort and attention and then move on to the other when you are ready. Anything else will confuse your mind, soul, body and most of the people around you.

4. Blossoming where you are planted, but go to a better climate if you can blossom more easily there–Coming out swinging here, it’s hogwash that everyone can be all they can be in any location. Yes, if you are not fortunate enough to leave your current location when you know others are more suited for you, you should give your current zip code everything you have. It will make you resourceful and creative in a way an only child in a childless neighborhood can relate. HOWEVER, some people just belong elsewhere. That is better than ok. Relationships are based on mutuality. Relationships are our north star we should follow to measure situations against our guiding principles. If we are living in a neighborhood or city full of people whose values we cannot relate to, maybe we should move. If your values don’t work in any place or you find that you relate to ISIS or scientology better, you should reconsider your values. If you however, are a loving, productive member of society, and don’t feel life you belong, by all means, move.

5. Traveling is the key–As is the exhilarating experience of travel itself, this one is tough to put into words. Travel takes you past gaining knowledge or understanding and hypnotically ingrains a larger breadth of life experience into your soul that cannot be reversed. You can wikipedia a faraway place, read about it in history books, and then talk to people about it for 100 years, but nothing will give you the full experience of that location like going there to see, smell, taste, feel and hear it. We cannot fully quantify our experiences through words, so there is no substitute for living them. Herein lies the difference between learning about something and learning something. I prefer the latter ten times out of ten. I am certainly not the first or last person to espouse this. It reminds me of the scene in “Goodwill Hunting” when Robin Williams’ character puts punky Matt Damon’s in his place by explaining that he doesn’t know shit, because he had never left Boston (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEIQSbul9Os). The benefit of travel can be construed as one of the main themes of what Williams’ character said and is one of strongest illustrations of the point he was making. I am one of the lucky ones to have traveled, but I appreciate all of my wanderings, nonetheless. Books are good, but travel simultaneous heightens all of your senses in a way no website, book or Parts Unknown (favorite show) episode can. Even if it means driving to the next county, travel.

6. Just exercise–You don’t have to be a trainer at GloboGym or compete in the world CrossFit games, but saying, “I don’t like to exercise” is like saying, “I don’t like to eat.” As a former 3-month high school meathead, P90Xer and now yogi, I can almost definitively say, there is some form of physical activity of some duration for everyone. If you have injuries or physical limitations and cannot exercise, you have my sincere sympathy and compassion. Others should find some way to move around for at least a few minutes every day. It cleans your blood, improves your mood by decreasing cortisol and increasing other feel-good chemicals in your body and a hell of a whole lot more. I understand you may not enjoy going to a gym full of overzealous, no-necked muscleheads, but that composes 1% of the available types of exercise through one-click of a mouse. Saying you don’t like to exercise is like saying you don’t like to eat. It is in our nature. There is some form that suits everyone.

7. Love at first-sight is bullshit–Romance is one of the human-specific phenomena that makes life worth living. Without it, we may as well throw in the towel. That said, love, at first sight, is impossible. I firmly believe in “lust” or “chemistry” at first sight, both of which could morph into love, but I don’t believe you can definitively say you love another person until you have heard or seen them cry, heard and smelled their farts, gotten to know what scares them and generally accepted the most fully unmasked version of them. That’s what my current version of love is. To know all of the “bad” things about another person and still want to be with them.

8. Never judge a book by its cover, but remember you may be judged like that–Look good, feel good, do good. This one may come across as the shallowest rule on my list, but it’s quite true. Taking care of yourself so that you present an appearance of self-respect implies to others that you may be worth having respect for. As a former preppy golfer, turned workout clothes connoisseur, now to henley wearing bro, I am starting to fully appreciate the fact that if you dress well, you will feel well and give yourself a chance to do well. The Yankees wear pinstripes. Men and women wear suits to court. Tiger Woods wears red on Sunday. All of this plays into their performances. You don’t have to model Tom Ford, but give how you dress some thought and watch how Guy Ritchie explains how to wear a suit on Joe Rogan’s show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMejeTP2edI). Look good. Feel good. Do good.

9. Color in as many circles as possible–I vaguely recall an introduction to fraction exercise Mrs. Horton had us do in 2nd grade. It looked something like what is shown in the picture.
unnamed
You had to show you understood basic, single-digit fractions by looking at the number (i.e. 2/5, 1/3, 8/9, etc.) and coloring in the amount blank circles equaling the numerator in a row of circles equaling the denominator. It was far easier than I am making it sound.

Life is best looked at this way. It presents you with a finite number of blank circles, which represent various experiences. You should strive to color in as many of those circles as you can or have as many experiences as you can. Don’t get so caught up in feeling ok or making money that you end up with uncolored circles.

10. Shut it down–I used to keep my phone off from sunup to sundown on Sundays. This practice helped me grasp the truths that were present in my life on a weekly basis. There is an inverse relationship between the volume at which your intuition speaks to you and the amount of time you spend on social media. Give it a rest for as long or as short of an amount of time as you can. Any amount will make a difference. It will be there when you get back.

11. Don’t assume malice when busyness or ignorance will explain–If people don’t call you back or you lose touch with them, it is very likely because they are busy or don’t realize how much you want to keep up with them. I have been out of regular contact with married friends who have children, but it is my hope that they know we can pick up where we left off when they are ready. I understand that they probably don’t have time to catch up or don’t even know I think about them. In the off-chance that they hate me now, that is their problem and I will still remain open if they want to get together.

12. Rules are stupid–This one is my favorite. A person’s success and fulfillment have a lot to do with their own balance of audacity and humility. Audacity is no more clearly illustrated by a person being willing to break rules or norms. Humility is not doing it in a way that is disrespectful to others. I am not encouraging people to break laws (we need those) OR to even show disrespect for rules that are founded on loving thy neighbor. I am, however, saying that living by too many rules is the surest way to impede your life and keep your inner genius hidden. Rules are fucking stupid. Follow them if another could be hurt by your breaking them, but question them if that is not the case. I recently listened to Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and of the passages that stuck with me the most, one was, “biology permits, culture forbids.” You can do whatever the fuck nature will allow. Life is situational, so no rules work all of the time. Live like it.

Having combed through these you may be more informed, but you definitely have a better sense of where things stand for me. It is my greatest hope that these rules will change and move in and out of the list of the governing mandates of my life.

Just a Recommendation

Through this post, I hereby recommend Ray Dalio’s profound book summary animation video (link below).

Playing in the background while I write this post, the linked YouTube video herein inspired me to recommend it to the wonderful people reading this.

As background (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Dalio), Ray Dalio is firmly embedded in the conversation of the world’s most successful hedge fund investors. He is an unmistakable billionaire and doesn’t need to tell anyone that. Son of a jazz musician and homemaker, he is a first generation one-percenter. People of exhorbitant wealth tend to forget how it felt before they were wealthy. Mr. Dalio is a clear exception to that trend.

If you are like me, you enjoy regularly exercising your inspiration muscle. Dalio’s video now has an indefinite spot on my daily or weekly inspiring videos to watch list.

Hats off to him for keeping his perspective even after reaching the zenith of what is sometimes rightfully known as an uppity world.

As someone who is currently looking for the next challenge and opportunities, my strongest takeaway from watching it is finding out what my ego and blind spots are keeping me from seeing.

Enjoy!

Domestic Vagabonding and Pain

About 8 years ago, I moved to the largest metropolitan area within a half day’s drive from my hometown to get on board with a directionless start-up in hopes of making a lot of money in a short time. The start-up fell flatter than a pancake and I quit in an unprofessional fashion (not bragging) within two months. So, there I was in the big city with no job, my pickup truck and a mountain of student debt. My good friend and then landlord generously cut me a deal on rent until I found another source of income.

Over the next three months, I sat unemployed and unoccupied for hours each day applying for 1,000 jobs with little idea of whether I was qualified for them. I “networked,” started a blog that is somewhere in an internet cemetery and wondered about my life’s purpose. The latter is still part of my alone time.
After going 90 days without a job, I had to start making money again, so I set my sights on temp work. I came up empty-handed after interviewing for a barback position and then as a waiter. So, I bit the bullet and took the first job I was offered, which landed me back in my hometown. If nothing else, it got me back afloat.

If the above-described situation had happened today, I would be able to hold strong without full-time employment until I found work I liked instead of taking a job to avoid going broke and the existential vacuum that comes with having nothing to do every day.

In fact, a similar situation is happening right now. This time, however, it is far easier. After returning from living in Asia, I returned to live in my hometown and applied for jobs in the same big city I lived in in 2010. I did this for the first quarter of 2018. Unsuccessful for 3 months, I decided to make the move and figure it out when I got to the big city. With a rented sedan full of my limited belongings, I arrived at my first AirBnb.

For most of us, living in the first world requires transportation and shelter. Those are both far more temporarily available in 2018.

Full disclosure, I am holding out from buying a car by choice. I like the freedom. Thanks to Uber, Lyft and all of the ancillary ridesharing platforms, I can drive myself by renting another person’s car when I feel like it and operate without a car when I feel like it.What “ancillary ridesharing platforms?” You may ask.

Two platforms called Hyrecar (https://hyrecar.com/) and Turo (https://turo.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=gs:br:brand:root::usa:d+233125353&utm_term=root::exact+kwd-1383426951+239650268840+25200930153&gclid=EA
IaIQobChMIwsbPse_q2gIVjYbACh1lxAY2EAAYAiAAEgJ6g_D_BwE) make it possible for you to borrow someone else’s car to drive for Lyft and Uber. Because my ultimate goal is to live within walking distance from work, I have not committed to buying a car even after getting full-time work. It may be an ocassional pain in the ass for friends to give me rides, but it’s also liberating for me and I don’t experience the inevitable rises in blood pressure that go along with driving in traffic. The sharing economy in all its glory makes moving to a new city without personal transportation a no-brainer.

As for moving somewhere without signing a long-term lease, I am doing that too. My primary reason for this is that this city has world-reknowned traffic. To avoid it during the next phase of my life, I will live as close as possible to work. Since I don’t know exactly where I will be working, I have avoided signing a long-term lease. Almost all of my friends, including my previous host, are married and most have kids, so moving in with them won’t really work at this stage. So, I have opted to use AirBnB. It has been an adventure with a little pain. I am in my fourth different place since April 1st.

I have no complaints about my transient, minimalist life at this moment. I will get a place and car when the time is right. An unforeseen challenge to this lifestyle is having personal space to use as my own for the purpose of my choosing. I like to doing yoga, handstands and bodyweight HIIT workouts to start my days, which requires a little more than a yoga mat of space. I didn’t realize that a body length (I’m 5’8″) of space that is not a bed or closet is not quite enough for me. I learned this the hard way.

During one of my recent AirBnB stays, I came down from a handstand to hit my ankle on a metal bedpost which sidelined me from the rigorous exercise routine I like to keep. The shock of the pain kept me on the floor of my rented room for 3 minutes. As I laid there writhing, I thought about the risks I have taken over the past 2 years and how I ended up in this position. It was physically and emotionally painful. I needed this pain. It taught me something. Shivering, I suddenly grasped the meaning of the pain. I shouldn’t be ashamed of needing more than a bed and a place to put my bags. Perhaps getting my own place has some functionality outside of hosting friends. I indirectly caused this pain by not renting a place with enough space to fall, worry-free from a handstand. It’s not needy to want these things so I can operate at a higher level. Materialistic is the last thing I can be accused of being right now, but my pain taught me that some first world luxuries have some functionality outside of abundance for it own sake. I may not be quite finished vagabonding, but will seek living space with enough room going forward. It doesn’t make me soft. It makes me newly more practical.

Thank you pain. I will heed your advice.

My Own “Year of Yes”

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Responding to an iBooks coupon offer, I ordered the first eBook I found somewhat intriguing, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I haven’t finished it yet, but have read enough to want to adopt her philosophy. True to its title, Shonda Rhimes memoir is about her deciding to agree to do anything that scares her for a year.
Those not living under a rock knew much about Rhimes before reading this post. I, who does not live under a rock, only knew of her and that she had had some success on TV and maybe in movies. Before starting her book, if I had to guess what Rhimes did, I would have said she was a female comedian, which is about like calling Bo Jackson a fast runner. She has proven herself as a success in multiple facets of TV. Her production company, Shondaland, is an empire. I didn’t know about her before reading the book, but now appreciate her “Year of Yes.”
To risk spoiling the book’s ending for myself, I researched what happened FOR Rhimes as a result of her yes-based lifestyle. I hypothesized that her life became way more exciting once she chose to say yes to everything that scared her for a year. So, I did some research and immediately found a TEDTalk on the same subject of her book https://www.ted.com/talks/shonda_rhimes_my_year_of_saying_yes_to_everything/up-next. According to her talk, her “eating” led to public speaking engagements (on top of the TEDTalk); live acting; and, most significant to her, playing with her daughters on demand. She found that saying yes to playing with her kids, the better every other part of her life became. According to other sources, her “yessing” led to accepting a marriage proposal, answering questions more honestly, and more. All of these things were personal, but carried over to her professional life.
As a trained lawyer and part-time overanalyzer, I have decided to try Rhimes’ philosophy for myself. Nothing remarkable has happened quite yet, but I will be appearing as an extra on a court TV show and a major motion picture soon. That’s a start. Once I start saying yes, like Rhymes, I predict I will have a treasure trove of material to draw from to write future blog posts. So let’s see, I will start with month of yes today (April 15th) and see where this takes me. Stay tuned.

One Hour Post–Transiberian

Combing through my posts will lead you to my YouTube channel, which will then describe my time living in China. I enjoyed every good, bad and boring moment there. Since coming back, friends have used me as a travel reference for just about every adventure they can think of. I can’t imagine a more flattering compliment. In serving as a travel reference, I have learned more about China even while home.

Today, a friend told me about his desire to trek the Trans-Siberian railroad, which I knew little about.  Referencing my YouTube channel for the second time, I traveled through part of China via railway and didn’t want it to end after 12 hours of sitting in one place. Imagining doing something like this for 7 days is enticing, but I cannot state with full certainty that I would enjoy it.

After learning about the Trans-Siberian Railroad, my mind went to planning the logistics of making the trip. Specifically, I thought about what visa a US citizen would need to complete this intercontinental train ride travel from Beijing to Eastern Russia.

In short, an American would need at least two visas.

First, China’s visa process is no walk in the park. I learned this over a grueling 5-month process before heading there with my single-entry, temporary work visa. You can read about everything that goes into obtaining a Chinese work visa, but, to my recollection, you have to obtain:

  1. an invitation letter from your Chinese employer;
  2. an authenticated copy of your college diploma (confirmation that it is real), which requires sending it to the secretary of your state and then the Chinese consulate.
  3. a US passport
  4. a certified police report
  5. previous work references
  6. a certified health evaluation, which includes a blood test, a full physical (no body cavity search), and a few other examinations

The article linked above will tell you what I have left out, but it costed about $500 and took about 5 months for me to get it all together and to receive my passport back with a Chinese visa in it. In sum, legally going to China from the USA is a pain in the ass (still worth it).

Similarly, getting a visa to travel to Russia as a US citizen requires enduring a drawn out process as well. To get a legal Russia travel visa, a US citizen has to obtain:

  1. a tourist invitation
  2. a passport
  3. passport photos
  4. a completed visa application form, which, apparently requires you to list the addresses and dates of all of your expected accommodations
  5. a document showing official results of a health evaluation, which includes an official HIV certificate

All of these are necessary to obtain a Russian TRAVELERS visa. There are different requirements to get a business or student visa from the Russian consulate, but getting any Russian visa takes a lot of effort.

With all of the above in mind, traveling from the USA to China or Russia to trek the Tran-Siberian Railroad requires a considerable investment of time and effort. Would this stop me, certainly not.

As info, the Trans-Siberian Railroad runs from Beijing through the top Northeast part of China, bisects Mongolia and then goes from one end of Russia to the major, East Russian cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Look at the map if this is not clear.

Trans-Siberian-map

I am not up for the challenge of putting the thrill of taking the whole Trans-Siberian Railroad into words, but I am sure I want to find out. Technically, it includes two additional primary routes (Trans-Manchuria and the Trans-Mongolia). For purposes of this post, the Trans-Siberian Railway includes the continues path you would take by train from Moscow to Beijing.

The longest continuous railway in the world takes 8 days to cover its 5,772 mile length.  It has a non-tourism use as 30% of Russian exports moved along this line. It is, however, mostly traveled along by Russian tourists.

As in every travel adventure I’ve ever been on, the only way to really learn about traveling the Trans-Siberian Railroad is to do it yourself. There is far more that could be observed on such a trip than could be included in a blog post, but the description in this one will have to do as I am only giving myself an hour.

Given all you now know that would go into going from the USA to complete the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Russia to China, you may be wondering if a person who considers himself sane who still do it. I answer that with a resounding “HELL YES!”

 

 

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One Hour Post–Instagram Break

Keeping the promise I made two posts ago, I will spend one hour researching, drafting, editing and posting this post. Knowing that, hopefully you can be gentle on any of the following typos or errors. I will not edit them out.

Now, for the main topic of this article:

Over the past few years, I have successfully honed some of my personal habits and will implement the changes I’ve made in my future work. One of these changes includes completely breaking from a single habit each month. The habits I chose to eliminate are usually those which are harmless in moderation, but destructive in excess. If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a year, you have seen a related series of posts like this before:

During this month (March 2018), for example, I have refrained from any us of Instagram whatsoever. I cannot measure the difference not using Instagram has made in my life, but can unequivocally say that I feel better. Why do I feel better?

Research and common sense have repeatedly told us that using social media can lead to emotional problems, such as anxiety and depression. Forbes and countless other publications have reported on this in-depth. The phrase “Facebook Depression” has come about. It exists because social media can: 1. be addictive; 2. induce sadness; 3. lead us to self-comparison; 4. cause jealousy; 5. lead to delusional thinking; and 6. breed anti-social tendencies.  Further articles on the sometimes honest internet showed that Instagram has these negative effects more than any other social media platform. In fact, the article linked to the beginning of the previous sentence explains how a study showed YouTube was the only platform that did NOT increase users anxiety and depression.

What is it about Instagram that makes us feel so inadequate? It is widely accepted that people are more likely to highlight the positive events and places they are part of and omit the negative ones from Instagram posts. Other users subconciously interpret these posts as telling the whole story. Then, human nature takes over and we end up comparing our own lives to the fantasy lives shown in other Instagram users’ posts.

Omitted are pictures of people doing what they have to do (get a colonoscopy, visit dying relatives, interviewing for jobs we don’t really want, and on and on). Included are angled and filtered shots of pristine beaches, mountains and nature trails, and early-in-the-night pictures with friends. Sometimes people even post pictures of past vacations on #tbt (throwback Thursday) while working through a Tediously Boring Tuesday. Perhaps the latter should be a popularized hashtag. It could make some of us feel less alone and would be funny.

To sum up, I am largely in favor of celebrating and preserving the wonderful moments in life. We should, however, observe these moments with an understanding that these only tell part of anyone’s story and should be viewed without comparison. The latter is in our nature, but consciously remembering to do this will benefit our emotional health.

It is the end of March and I have confirmed that temporarily breaking from Instagram can do a body and soul good.

Next month, dating apps are coming off of my phone. We will see how I feel at the end of April. I will be lowering the percentage of finding Mrs. Right for 30 days, but, perhaps, I will feel better about my chances of finding her starting in May.

Tiger Woods’ Competition–Then and Now

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Tiger Tipping his Hat in 2018

Tiger Woods’ aura is alive-and-well in the modest corner of the sports world called “golf.” Tiger’s brand is bigger than golf, but the contents of this post concerns his on-the-course performance against his competition.

His current “comeback” may be in full force, but the game is in a different place than it was during Tiger’s prime. Without having fully researched it, I opine that the collective of the current Top-5 golfers on the PGA Tour are better than they were during Tiger’s prime. Because of this, Tiger has further to climb than any previous time in his career if he is to return to dominance. For the record, I think he will win at least 3 more tournaments, but not to the degree he did in his prime. Today’s best players are too good.

Looking further into this, let’s put that assertion against some facts. For expediency, I will one significant performance related stat to see if Tiger’s current competition is stiffer than it was during his glory years. In my previous post, I promised to spend only one-hour on each post for a month, which does not allow me to research this topic as thoroughly as possible.

Tiger had at least 5 record-setting seasons and a lot of high finishes, so his prime is hard to narrow down into a single year. I will presume his winningest years were his prime, which were 1999 and 2000. In that span, he won 17 times including 4 major wins and 3 World Golf Championships.

From that period, lets look at the Top-4, non-Tiger players at the end of 1999 in the All-Around Ranking statistical category. This would be the halfway point of what I have deemed Tiger’s prime for purposes of this post.

At the end of 1999, the Top-4 statistical, non-Tiger players were: David Duval; Phil Mickelson; Vijay Singh; and Ernie Els. Their combined All-Around Ranking score (lower is better) was 999. Tiger was number 1 by a considerable margin.

In comparison, the Top-5 players did not include Tiger at the end of the last official PGA Tour season (2016-2017). So, let’s give them an advantage and look at the Top-4 players, instead of 2-5 in the All-Around Ranking score category. They were: Rickie Fowler; John Rahm; and Jordan Speight; and Hideki Matsuyama. Their combined All-Around Ranking score was 1078, which is almost 100 point higher than in either 1999 or 2000.

If this statistical category says the most about the quality of Tiger’s competition in 1999 versus last year. The top players in 1999 fared better against the rest of the Tour than the top players in 2017. This may not mean that there WERE better, but is an interesting finding that may contradict my previous conclusion.

Keeping with my promise, I spend one hour, in total, researching and drafting this post, so my conclusion may be supported by other statistics.

I still hold that Tiger’s competition is stronger now than it was when he was at the top of his career, but maybe this an other statistical conclusions proved me wrong.