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Thoughts and last minute miscellaneous ramblings


The Difference

The difference of writing styles between the “classics” and modern (1980 - present) periods lies in the development of the story with regards to character development, environmental description and influence, circumstance and the positioning of the character in that environment.

In classic works, the story is a vehicle that carries the character through a climactic, ephiphanal or quantum change or changes. The art of writing came from the subtleties of change. As the characters evolve, the reader comes to know him. The character is appealing because he frequently has a code of ethics, religion or beliefs. It is the simultaneous challenge for the reader to understand the integrity of the characters code as it is for the character to sustain his efforts. Further, the character is influenced by his environment which is the backdrop for evolution. All along, we, the reader, are becoming familiar with the character and the consistency of his actions. The characters’ pursuit of an ideal of his own integrity is the magic addition of the book.

Today, the characters evolution is no longer the emphasis of the book. Action and drama have now become the main focus; the entertainment. It is the actor by which the story is expressed; instead of a ray of light symbolizing hope or opportunity for the hero, it is the power of the earthquake made more visceral, personal and powerful through its actions on the character. The allegory environmental change affecting the character is thus reversed. The entertainment and awe of a set of circumstances are now expressed through a victim—the main character.

Ironically, though the environmental drama is made more visceral with the victimization of the character, this dramatic positioning of the character in environmental turmoil also has the ability to distance the situation from personal involvement of the reader. Now, it is the power of the situation. The reader simply identifies with the situation and roots for the character to survive. The result is a safe detachment of the reader from the dramatic circumstance as there is less intellectual involvement.The story becomes simply a story, not a personal odyssey.

Thus, we see writers who have learned the art of gratuitous description. The Firm (Grisham) and Prince of Tides (Conroy) hold our interest through their ability to fascinate us with detail and environmental forces; like shock TV, we see the unbelievable enacted in flowery, graphic, descriptive overprose fuel injected with explosive action. Unfortunately, though these books may be good reads, unputdownable, and involving, once finished, the reader is left abandoned. There is no lesson that is learned. Rather, the book has been merely entertainment, instead of education. The magic of character development and the purpose of one’s code in life or the complexities of a person’s philosophy used to be expressed in the classics.

Catcher in the Rye (Salinger) gave us a dramatic look at ourselves and the acknowledgement that we must change; it brought awareness to our own insecurities associated with the responsibilities and periodic betrayal it brings when one matures with age. Not only was Hemingway “descriptive as hell” but he had the magical talent of saying more than what was on the page. Symbolism, double entendre and omission are used to pull the reader in and make him think. The implications of Hemingway’s writing educate the reader and leave lessons that have true staying power.

Crichton, Conroy, and Grisham simply say exactly what is on the page. This may be descriptive, but it is also easy. The writing is easier because it serves only one mission. With classics, the writing told the story and it told a lesson. In today’s culture, most expression is commercial—for profit. Thus it is strongly targeted to do specific entertainment tasks. Religion, morality and personal code evolve elsewhere, we hope.

Sitcoms come close to instilling wisdom or a broader perspective in the “reader”. Because sitcoms are consistent every week, we are granted the ability to see the characters grow. Good sitcoms show the development of personality; we begin to think of these characters as friends of even charactictures of ourselves. The “bad” TV, Melrose Place, COPS, CODE 3, Americas Most Wanted, etc. use shocking or unbelievable circumstances to carry the entertainment. Thus, we watch victims survive of die in situations which we can relate to. Again, or internal experience and the impact becomes ephemeral.

We can watch, experience the trauma and then go to sleep.
There is a certain comfort in predictability of actions and events. These modern works are predictable, more conveniently packaged and do what they are supposed to do—and nothing more.


Wedding Toast To Larry and Antoinnete
May 28, 1994

Magic
Tonight, I would like to talk about Magic.Magic is described as supernatural, impossible or even unreal.
But always, magic radiates brighter than every day life.
And what is wonderful about the institution of marriage isn’t just the celebration of
ceremony or symbolism but the celebration of MAGIC.
Larry and Antoinnette have decided to unite, to synergize forces with one another and,
in this process they ignite the passionate glow of magic.
The brilliant glow of magic inspires everyone of us lucky people here today
and will touch and fuel Larry and Antoinnette today, tonight and forever.

To Larry and Antoinette, All the best and thanks for the magic.


Trouble Comes
11/21/94

People in trouble get in trouble.
It’s funny how some people seem to get “speeding tickets from God” or notes from society when they’re in trouble. Or worse, seemingly unrelated things go wrong just to make it harder for them. Sometimes, they get in trouble all by themselves--by eating too much or neglecting to exercise their body which then fails to purify their soul. Sometimes they don’t even think about their bodies.
It’s easy to focus on the things that bring instant pleasure-like helping someone, having a probing and satisfying conversation that reveals something new or hidden about someone-but it is far harder to have a conversation with yourself that reveals something new or hidden about yourself. It could also be far more satisfying and could make you smile in different ways.

When the going gets tough, it’s easier to be the hero for your parents. They will always accept your love and effort.When someone has become too dependent on you, it is hard to not answer their calls for help first. Like any thing dependent, they can be trained.
It’s funny how it’s easier to criticize one’s friends for their success rather than to compliment and learn from them. Asking them how they do it is still being a friend. And you can learn in the process.

It is startling how cold the world has become. It seems that “the good old days” when people were warm and friendly are almost fictional.

There are assholes everywhere. But they are driving new cars.

It is time to be an asshole.

It’s scary as hell when the clock keeps ticking

It’s scary as hell when the rent keeps building

It’s scary as hell when the addictions keep pricking

It’s scary as hell when the needy keep needing

It’s the scariest thing in the world to take a personal inventory and find it isn’t satisfactory

It’s the hardest when you’re the only one who can change things and no one else can help.

The only way to succeed is to look at oneself honestly. Where is the place that needs the most work? Where am I cheating? Why am I eating? Why can’t I be succeeding? I will succeed above all else, for myself.
This success will be for them, too.


Assholes Everywhere
11/21/94

We poked fun at the stunning white innocence of Leave It to Beaver.
Happy Days used to be a sitcom.
Disco has come and gone and come again and gone again.
Now there is something browned out with confusion and vague expressionism (“Grunge”).
Now the Fonz is gay and the sportsman’s favorite anthem “We will rock you” is the eulogy to Freddie Mercury.
The doctor who was shot at on HWY 163 in San Diego’s first words: “I don’t understand it; I didn’t cut anybody off”.
That wonderful, opinionated, overeducated Grunge group, the politically correct mindset of this generation, the blessed ‘90’s has become so open minded that we have passed prop 187.

River Phoenix downed his babies.
Mommie drowned her babies.
We elected a president to have someone to blame.
Ted Kennedy hangs onto his dead brother’s fame.
If only Mike Tyson could get out of jail for date rape so he could beat the shit out of a 46 year old preacher.
Only in America.

And OJ, America’s last action hero burns it like Nero.

Where’s my pager? Where’s my cellphone?

The insurance is in the shop and the Beemer is on the blocks.

Beavis and Butthead for president. Do you realize that Dan Quayle is going to win in 1996?
And the ‘77 Cutlass sat burning in the afternoon sun.

Compiling the lists in her mind. Going through the list in her mind


Car Wreck
1/28/95

Bright future, bright past
Bright lights, a good repast
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Slumber, plumber, or stock broker

The blood trickled in a crust
and they found traces of cocaine


50th anniversary of World War II
5/10/95

The anniversary of World War II: In the past, as history was made, art history and popular culture (styles and trends of the time) added a certain texture and 3-dimensional understanding and character to the chronological events we call history.

For instance, as history is presented to us, say a World War II movie, we see the overall point (ex: the Battle of Midway) with its factual computations and logistics. As a bonus, we get to see some of the style (the clothes they wore), the language and the music.

TODAY, it seems that art, fashion, popular culture has become “historical” on its own. Truly historical change (amending the constitution for a balanced budget) is lumped into the same category as incidental or remarkable societal irregularities (OJ Simpson). History in the traditional sense is now merely a backdrop to the “human condition”. The newsworthy, historical incidents (Yugoslavia, Chechnia, Rwanda) merely add to the mixture of insatiable variety of these times.

It is like today’s history is defined by QUANTITY OF EVENTS; all are competing for finite mind share and only the MOST SENSATIONAL, not most HISTORICAL will be remembered.

The WWII anniversary is not significant (unfortunately) because it is out of our context of significance.


We’re Always in School
1/16/96-letter to Larry Boyle

The further extension of this is: maybe this is how we’ve always been.
I have had a bit of an epiphany with regards to feelings of inadequacies and insecurity, professionally. I feel the same awkwardness and fear of being in grammar/high school where I felt awkward. Do you know what I mean? It is like you don't want to stick out because, in school, someone would beat you up.
In work, your boss or someone else will verbally beat you up. You become fearful of trying/attempting. At your job, you probably feel pretty good; like being in 8th grade or as a senior. You know most of the mysteries and feel comfortable if not elated with your position.

I guess that is why you're supposed to stay in a job for 4 years or more.
To beat the metaphor even more, I guess I've been transferring schools a lot and have withdrawn.
Now is the time to "be popular" by making and keeping friends to get shit done.
Any thoughts on this treatise (what is a treatise, anyway?)


Memories Of Nick Mein
R.I.P. 1/17/96

Images of the greatest man beside my father.

Paddling the canoe the first time Nancy met him in 1991.
Puling him off Dad in 1984 with Brad and Sinda looking on.
Telling Dad he had Aids in 1987 right before I did my first triathlon.
Leaning on me, stoned at Secret.
Giving his full attention to dying old ladies though he was in greater pain than them.
Partying with him with Tom Leech and Larry Boyle in 1986.
Hugging him in October, 1995 when he was in the hospital, smelling just like Dad,
as he pledged to himself, “I’ve got to keep fighting.”
Waving goodbye to him forever on Saturday, Jan 13, 1996.

Obituary: The Best Company a Man Could Have (W.W.Mein, JR.)
Those who were conservative loved Nick because he represented the creative, the intellectual, the ascetic, the nefarious,
the naughty and the experimental side that all of us have but fight to suppress.

Those who were more wild loved Nick because he represented balance and they looked to him as a leader.

He was someone who got away with it.

He lived life his way, damn the consequences. That is why he is so inspirational, even in death.

His integrity to himself, his desire for the best and the most, though troublesome or inconvenient and possessive,
he always paid back in a different kind of currency.

The brightest stars truly burn quicker.
Nick was what famous people are supposed to be.
He made you feel important, no matter who or what you are. He still does.
His genuine interest in others and memory retention was gifted.
He is one who lived in a state of question and insecurity yet he always seemed so strong;
he lived where others only went when in desperation or truth or crisis.
He understood and lived the fundamental changes in life.
He was the embodiment of the sum totals of the epiphanies of our lives.


The Tiger
Dream on Jan 8, 1998

I was trying to control or even kill the tiger I owned that I forgot about.
Using a bobcat to calm it.

I have a tiger in me-the beautiful, wild, impulsive side that needs to be tamed and treated with respect.

To let it go will kill me.

To kill it will kill my spirit which will numb me.


Maturity
1993

The evolution is gradual yet perceptible and deliberate. It is worthy though not always pleasant. Truly, it is a let down when moral responsibility catches up with wonton thirst and selfish consumption of life; one's actions begin to muddy the safe eddies of others. Maturity means moderation--mediocrity, a compromise. The sacrifice of ideals, replaced by practicality or "most accepted" behavior, leaves you feeling hollow. Emotional urges which feel so good, so right, so pure, are tempered with reasonableness and structure. It isn't "right", it is merely easier.

One must heed these speeding tickets from god -- the hints of unacceptable/unallowable behavior. The bandwidth of "adults" is far more restricted than that of children or young adults.

Treasure the young adult years. This is the period of harmony and synergy of personal development and exertion of control. Behavior and outlook becomes dull and safe like an unhoned blade. The surface cuts less precisely, but it is not as brittle. Tempered not by heat, passion or emotion, the psyche and resultant behaviors are molded by convenience, ease of maintenance, and "general" acceptance. The inevitable dilution of self leaves one regretful and feeling trapped with the struggle; to remain concentrate in the midst of god's speeding tickets, peer's warnings, parents disappointment, and love, lost..


Example of [writing] style
4/30/95

He smiled to himself, bending to scoop the contents of the dog food can. Coming back up, his back twinged and the knee cracked. As a reflex, Bill Bledsoe placed his hand on the counter. The corner piece he'd fixed into place twelve-and-a-half years ago. At that time, reinstalling the corner piece was more passionately puzzling and fulfilling than the satisfaction that the professional carpenter would have felt. Now, at his age, he was reluctant to do such "handyman tasks" because he already knew the satisfaction of fixing it himself. The predictability of the emotions, though substantive, was, in effect, less appealing than watching a professional do it.

"Maybe I am just admitting my limitations, " he thought. Or maybe it is simply easier. After all, he has the money to afford it.

Analysis: The irony is that the satisfaction of doing it yourself is priceless. Paying somebody to fix something is a transaction for a desired modification. Doing it yourself is a desire to learn more, to enrich yourself via curiosity and mental craftsmanship.

It is for this reason that chronic "do-it-yourselfers" are never done. The purpose of doing it yourself is not to get done, but to savor the challenge.

When something breaks or needs to be fixed, it is an invitation to learn or a transaction to deal with.


Expectations
3/30/98

The gifts of friendship are best realized when not anticipated. The miracle of friendship is the blessing of surprise.
Like found treasures, the bounty is unexpected.
Like weather, their actions are unpredictable.
You cannot depend on consistency but you can depend on loyalty. Like all charitable causes, friendship is something you give when you have available inventory. Though frustrating, you can not wait to receive, but you can cherish its' surprise delights.


Getting Laid

All along, boys go through life questioning who they are. They are rife with insecurity. Teen years and young adulthood are spent trying to fit in-ironically to create a unique identity by being the same as their peers. But always trying to get laid-to get the implicit approval of bedding a chick.

If lucky enough to go to college, as their mind expands, so does their confidence. This results in an increased ability to get laid. Suddenly, insecure boy becomes master of his universe-"I know who I am and I can get laid".

Never is a man more confident, more complete, then when getting laid at will.

Then it happens. Some chick, some score, some conquest, tugs on his strings and asks for commitment. There is no greater trauma in man's existence. Once his identity has been fully defined and he is confident in himself, attaining goals with ease, a woman comes to him and asks him to give it all up. To, now, suddenly, think for them, not just me.


Random Quotes

"Fortune Favors the Bold" - W.W. Mein Jr.

"Beauty is America's lottery. Fame is America's royalty" - Tony Curtis

"In a zoo, a bear is a clumsy, comical, fat beast. In the woods, it is a sleek and powerful animal" - Mountain Bike magazine editor

"Every Ride is a Race!"- Specialized Bike ad and tag line of my riding group

"How will you be remembered"-Chang So

"Are you in charge of life or is life in charge of you?"  - 9/24/01, fitzy leaving for England

"Rocking Ass"- 10/16/01, Chang So expression

"Justicism vs Terrorism" - 10/18/01, President Bush wanting to go to war with Iraq

 


Birthday Thoughts 2000
From letter to Larry Boyle 9/18/00

Funny, an odd dude who I barely know here--works setting up the phones--sent a "happy birthday" greeting. He wrote something like "I hope you have a good epiphany". Oddly thought-provoking that notion, and I have to say that birthdays one generally looks for some sort of brilliance or sentimental summation. I regret to say that I am frustrated as I have not achieved such an illumination. However, Woody (our midget cat) did disappear for 36 hours, putting us in a state of panic and a deep depression for Nanc. Luckily she showed up this morning for some grub. Bet she was trapped in someone's garage. Point is, I have never thought that cat would live that long, but we weren't ready to say goodbye yet. Maybe that is the epiphany; one is never ready to say goodbye and rarely prepared for it in the first place. And perhaps one needs to be much more appreciative of what one has. I find myself going through life at a fast pace, full of accumulations and the pursuit of more, but not necessarily full of satisfaction.


How to Win
1/29/01 Day after the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants

The Baltimore Ravens are winning team, not because of gifted players with extra ordinary skills, but rather because they play the game with a totally different perspective and effort.

Most, if not all, other teams rely on gifted, reliable and talented players, an element of luck, and a varying game plan that keeps the opponent guessing. The Ravens play with a team-wide intensity and focus that is unmatched. It is their mindset that makes them win. They are ALWAYS waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. Whenever the opponent has to take a risk, Baltimore is ready to capitalize on any mistakes that are made.  They are absolutely focused on the game, playing with 100% mental effort, proactively looking down on the game instead of being forced to react to it. Since being on offense requires more risk (the ball is in the air), more mistakes can happen, and because the Ravens defense is so acutely aware, they capitalize on any opportunity, small or large. That is why statistically, though the Ravens have mediocre offense, they won the championship.

In business applications, we can learn from this. A business unit is stronger as a team that is acutely aware of all elements of the business. Instead of relying on individual contributors to save the day by coming up with new ideas, the team should always be sharing and learning from each other, and by all players having the same awareness of goals and how to accomplish them. With everyone absolutely focused, it is easier to capitalize on opportunities and to then be successful. And by making incremental improvements, instead of trying hail marry attempts with little odds for success, the team improves gradually but with an element of certainty.

The same kind of thinking can probably be applied to our personal lives if we prioritize and care about our own objectives. Oddly, most of us take this for granted.


The inverse of reality
8/16/01

How odd it is to be an aging dot comer with experience of the past ways of how things were done, conflicted with the idealism and freedom of a new idea where baggage was left and intelligence tempered by loose conformity allowed growth to come by sheer momentum and purity that is enabled when something is new.

Now that things are getting tough, the pain is more perplexing. In my father's day, you worked because you had to. It didn't always feel good. With the Internet, and working at a start up, you worked because it was fun. The more you worked, the more satisfaction you got. Now economic reality has caught up with lucky timing, and it doesn't feel as good. Work is becoming work and one expects less of the satisfaction one had just months ago.

It is incipient, like an addiction. You don't know it's happened then suddenly it has. The irony is that it doesn't get better-in fact, this is better than most companies who will never evolve to the utopian state that Yahoo once had. Idealism is always tempered by reality.

Those whose personal idealism was in parallel to the idealism of the Internet must truly be at a personal crisis as they have never dealt with true adversity in the workplace. Those who were jaded at first then became use to the new freedoms of purity of ideas and focus on execution are now fighting the urge to resent the CORPORATION.

We are inextricably tied to the companies that provide our identities.
They enable the luxuries and necessities that, in reality, truly define us.


The need for pain
8/16/01

There is no longer pain in the United States. Everything is doled out in easy to consume packets of satisfaction. Though we do not work hard enough to enjoy the material staples we have come to expect. The McStarbucks of our lives are so easy. The pursuit of convenience and it's 24/7 response have dwindled what should have been coveted-personal time. Las Vegas and other forms of instant gratification has killed tradition. Identity is defined as the clothes you wear, where you live, what you drive, and who you work for.

There is no religion beyond the extroversion of your self.

Music is packaged and uncreative, as is most media. But there is a sense that no one cares nonetheless. Where are we going and why so fast? And why does it go so fast?

One must cherish what is precious-life's genuine moments
and satisfaction from executing your personal will on this indifferent universe.


Three Steps
2/8/02

There are three steps that lead to Mastery

1. Doing it
You start doing something that is additive to your typical regime. It may be as obvious as a new sport or hobby or as subtle as a new job responsibility.

2. Acknowledgement
You realize you are spending more time doing this activity. It goes from intimidating to routine, but you don't really have a conscious realization.

3. Appreciation
You move from the subconscious routine to the conscious appreciation and predictability. And you realize that you feel good and empowered by this newly acquired skill. Appreciation is the realization of the acquisition.

With appreciation, you can continue to improve to master the skill, or move on to learn new ones.


Evil
From a dream 5/12/02

Evil is not inherently judgmental or mean. It is not in itself malicious, it is just that it's direction is the opposite of "good". Evil has been generalized and demonized as "the Devil" by society forever. It is mankind's convenient way of bucketing concepts into easier to digest, and easier to manage/avoid on a daily basis, more practical evidence of life as it evolves. Similarly, "Good" has been generalized in religion, and religion offers hope and answers to problems/questions that are too large for humankind to comfortably and satisfactorily answer. However, Good is described in more detail, and with greater evidence. Evil is generalized/personified as a being, "the devil", but not include as acts, steps, or potential guidelines for success, as Good is.

It occurs that perhaps not only should "evil" should be embraced as a challenge to understand and even master, but also as an opportunity to maximize "good".

There are two fundamental ways to move forward; one, gain more success, and, two, minimize loss or failure.
If we strive to embrace Evil, we can find ways to minimize it's impacts, thereby reducing the ratio of good to bad, and further tilting the balance in good's way. This imbalance is what humankind strives to achieve.

Some people choose to live in reaction to Evil or fear.
It is pathetic to see some people wallow in the comforts of evil, but their value system is based on an affinity toward these strong feelings that give a sense of purpose or meaning.

Most others choose to live in expectation of Good, or hope.
Human nature dictates that Good is easier (more pleasant) to strive for, whereas Evil creates discomfort and pain. To achieve forward momentum, and a continuous growth of overall "goodness", it is logical to want to maximize "good", while mitigating "evil". It is a balance sheet of life where debits and credits are evaluated.

My sense is that humankind focuses on the pursuit of credits, but does not "cash in" by reducing the operating costs of evil. As we strive to be "good", and create goals, steps, and plans to do so enhance our "good", perhaps we should also analyze and study evil. To embrace evil in the same sense as good, and to know evil, understand, feel, and accept it's consequences. To plan for it.

Doing so can allow for greater familiarity with Evil's presence, and allow mankind to recognize and fix evil in advance of evil becoming all encompassing, or a larger issue than need be. It follows that we should spend as much time "knowing" or worshipping evil as we do good.

Funny how Good and God are closely related, as are Evil and the Devil.

Though I think it more important to focus on one's self, we must also be wary of society, media, and religion who demonize evil and use it for their own leverage. For instance, the American press and government tend to blame any uprising or school of thought that is counter to the American agenda as "a war on terrorism" or a "strike against democracy". Religions seem to blanket the opposition as "evil" with, potentially, no recourse but to conquer the opposing evil. What if these religions welcomed the opposition as other potential sources of "good" versus threatening schools of "different", and therefore, "evil"? And groups within society create extreme judgments against their opposition, associating "evil" with their opponents views. How much stronger would it be to acknowledge differences, and to delight and honor them instead of heaping hatred and negativity? As we consume the media, we are placated into thinking that these generalized "evils" are standing in the way of generalized "goods". But we need to be critical and to ask if these situations are being too generalized so that other agendas can be slipped forward.

More importantly, we need to embrace and confront evil with the same interest and conviction as good. Hokey as it sounds, we need to make a friend out of evil, or, at least, confront it with open eyes and practical judgment.


Letter to Sean Bourke, Xmas eve 2002

The United States is no doubt seeped in the clutches of an addiction with evil; Catholic church has spent $1 billion defending sex crimes; kings of industry like Worldcom and Enron insiders who manipulated and duped it's investors for their own greed; leaders such as Trent Lott who hold, just under the skin, feelings of racism; and materialism that touches everyone. It is hard to find goodness in the cause of the nation when behavior seeps out in these unflattering chunks.

But there is some good that seems burn steadily bright. If anything knowing that folks as good and hopeful as you are helping to push your own agenda of peace, and the genuine effort of that little girl Amanda. And even that you are using Yahoo mail to stay connected is a nice reminder that even technology can have a face.

There is a strange sense of alienation in this almighty country, and we need to treasure those things that make us feel connected and even sentimental. It is these things that stack up to meaning in the end, and create memories in the present.

I was just thinking how ironic it is that to spend more time with ones' self, it is more convenient to take mass transit than to drive to work yourself. When you are "with people", on a train for instance, you spend more time reading and reflecting than if you are riding in a car thinking of the to dues. (Your drive to Travis may be long enough so you can reflect however!)

In any case, Sean, if I haven't said this before, I am proud that you are my brother in law. You remind me of what I think makes my family, myself, great. The appreciation of nature, the enjoyment of the environment, the emotion of the written word, and the magic of family. All the best to you.


Short cuts to success
8/16/04
There are typically 1-2 tips that make things easier.
Know these things you can become adept quickly. And ask questions to find your answers.
It takes years of practice to know the next 3-7 to master it.


Biking
8/16/04

There is nothing as challenging as pushing yourself mentally and physically at your highest limits simultaneously. Riding a bike uphill, against the clock, is one of the few things that exists that is available to virtually every one.
It is a rare privilege to be able to exercise your mental stamina and focus, coupled with complete physical exertion. To do so for 20 minutes is a challenge few will ever do. To do so for longer is almost unheard of.
This is what makes Lance Armstrong so amazing; he is able to sustain maximum focus in both physicality and mental state for hours, even days on end.
There are few sports that have such lengths of focus in both aspects. Running is perhaps the purist and to that end perhaps the marathon is the hardest event in the history of man kind.


Life After Death
8/21/05

One of the primary reasons for the existence of religion is because it attempts to answer "what happens when I die". They provide the  "recipe" for living a good life so you are rewarded in heaven, and this recipe is generally good, moral, and helpful toward creating an ordered society. Unfortunately, religion is often twisted by it's followers or leveraged by governments for societal control. So religion is not always the answer sought by all for the question of life after death.

The real question of life after death is--how do I become immortal? How can I live forever? Immortality is not necessarily a greedy thought but rather a solution or answer to the incredible fear and question of not knowing what it's like after your physical being vanishes.

Perhaps the answer to life after death and immortality is the Legacy you leave behind. Most important is your children and then extended family. After that, perhaps the people you touched. But the miracle of your life will be remembered, most likely, only as the residue of your strong influences that become muted through time. Perhaps life after death is a mere rememberance or story about your relative or friend who has passed. That flicker of rememberance-when they discuss you, smile or curse, is your life after death. Be grateful for the emotional and spiritual heirlooms that visit you unexpectedly, and, perhaps, make it a practice to remember the ones you love on their birthdays or passings. For me it will be that Lily loves nature and is polite and caring about others. What more could I want? Perhaps that she loves to bike and run.

Families that have Fame and are remembered for generations have large legacies and lifestyles and traditions that are powerfully baked in to each individual; this is a feeling of greatness and belonging, but it can also be limiting. But certainly, there is immortality that is shared by all members of these families. This is why large, extended families are so great.

Those that do not have children of their own-who also believe that immortality comes from one's legacy-must truly struggle with The Meaning of Life. Hopefully they are able to teach or mentor others so they will be fondly thought of and reflected upon forever. This being said, it is the very rare friend who will come visit you when you are sick in bed and don't feel like interacting. Bless and cherish those friends who would visit you, as well as the offspring and relatives who would through duty.


Bowling
8/22/07

Was running with Derrill and came to the conclusion that Life is a lot like Bowling. This is predicated on being 40 years old and suddenly feeling that life is sort of half over.
This year has been a bit traumatic:
1. My 50 year old neighbor, who seemed to really enjoy life to the fullest, committed suicide by hanging himself in the garage on 4/15/07. The day before, he gave my daughter a birthday present. And he's left his surviving wife alone. There is a palpable emptiness in the neighborhood that has not gone away.
2. My oldest daughter's preschool friend was diagnosed with Diabetes. She used to be very athletic and outgoing. Now she needs 5 insulin shots a day-even at 2 in the morning, fingerpricks, and a strict/regimented diet. How did this happen? How do her parent's cope? How has her psyche changed?
3. China is becoming the World's super power. The USA is loosing it's leadership position. We are seeing history take place right before our eyes.
4. My physically fit friend, Larry, who is 41, received news that his brother, also physically fit, had a massive heart attack at age 44 (though he has survived). How is this possible?
5. The War with Iraq continues on with trillions of $ spent and no end in site. Withdrawal my lead to unintended downstream consequences yet there is no victorious exit strategy.
6. Yahoo!-once the Internet darling (and growth stock) being surpassed by Google. Google's market cap is FIVE TIMES higher than Yahoo yet the P/E ratio is still lower. How can this be?
7. Social networking/new technologies that I don't understand and probably never will. I am no longer relevant to Internet change.
8. Rehabing from ACL surgery and knowing/feeling that I am no longer the runner I used to be. And will likely never be again.

So here's the metaphor: BOWLING.

With Bowling, you have 10 frames (100 years if you are lucky; 10 years to a frame) to play the game.
And no one really likes bowling at first; it's hard, but kind of fun.
You think you've got it figured out but then realize it's really difficult to hit all the pins.
And suddenly, you're in the 5th frame and your game is 1/2 over.
Have you learned from the first half?
How many gutter balls?
How many spares to get back what you've lost?
And how many strikes have truly put you ahead?
The sooner you realize that every shot counts, the better off you will be. Just don't get sidelined by forces you didn't anticipate.


Fever Fog
4/21/2010

So I had a fever and sinus infection for the past week. The fever/sweats lead to some pretty trippy dreams.

Here are a couple of thoughts that came up from these dreams:

On presentations/fear of presenting. Try not to be afraid/intimidated by anyone. In advance of the presentation, think about the person(s) who might intimidate you and analyze why. Then think about how they are just people and why does that person really intimidate you? Seems like a good rule of thumb in general.

On managing. From watching "The American Gangster"-Denzel Washington is the kingpin of his drug operation. The observation is that it's dangerous to get too involved at the ground level (drug acquisition and distribution) because "workers" at that level can get killed. Same thing in a big organization; be careful micro-managing a situation--it will likely be a time suck and, big picture, better if you delegate.


Squandering versus Growing
7/25/2010

Reflections on two things. First, Yahoo! Shopping vs. Shopping.com. Y! Shopping, part of Yahoo!, was successful because it was part of the Yahoo! network of properties. Yahoo! was wildly successful because it was a pioneer in the internet space. Pioneers discover new assets and make them consumable. They hit the gold mine first. Opportunists, like Google, study and focus on the new opportunities and try to master what they can do to extract the gold. Yahoo! got distracted and too diversified. As a result, they are in a defensive posture, trying to save what they have claimed by being the first. Shopping.com has an offensive posture, trying to grow while Yahoo! Shopping is in a triage mode having outsourced their core technologies.

Similarly, my great grandparents found wealth. And my grandparents squandered it instead of growing it. An example is their place in Lake Tahoe, which they sold for 2.2 million in 1988 (?). It is now listed for sale at half ownership for 7.2 million; 555% increase in 12 years.

 


Reflections on Loosing a Loved One/Reincarnation
10/3/2012

Response to Dana Young's announcement that her father had passed away:
"I don't even know what I would do in the same situation. Thank you for sharing. I believe that those who have passed are reincarnated when you remember them. If you believe that too, then have the courage to remember as much as you can. As we grow older and loose our short-term memory, our long term is still there. I think it is there for a reason."

I can't even imagine if this was to happen to my parents--I would be a wreck.
But I believe that those who have passed are temporarily reincarnated when you remember them.
If you believe that too, then it is important to have the courage to remember as much as you can and as often as you can.
The emotions you feel are reincarnations of interactions; hugging, arguing, laughing, etc.
So keep the mental conversations going with those who have passed. And talk to your friends/relatives freely and openly about those who have passed. It is important to you.
Ironically, as we grow older and loose our short-term memory, our long term is still there.
I think it is there for a reason.

 


Key Learnings on Work Environment
12/4/2012

After leaving Yahoo! after 15 years, some key realizations.
1. Spend time with people who are positive. Make an effort to reconnect with them. It does both of you good.
2. Choose to work in an environment that is positive. And make sure you continue to make that environment positive and growing and learning.
3. Think of your coworkers without hierarchy. They are just other humans trying to cope and get by with life. And we all need each other to succeed.