Taking Time to Take In

Lately I’ve taken to walking a lot more … sometimes for up to two hours at a time. I don’t listen to any music and I’m not talking to anyone. I’m just observing, thinking, day dreaming, breathing, and listening.

When I first started walking I’d notice the many people that would pass me by in cars, bikes, running and jogging. Many years ago I used to run and initially I’d get envious of runners and joggers easily passing me by. I’d think about the fact that they’d be covering the same distance that I’m walking in at least half the time. So initially walking long distance took up a huge amount of my time. But lately it seems to not take that long.

I mean when I walk for two hours it still takes up two hours of my time. But now the two hours just doesn’t seem as long, and in fact at times can go by rather quickly as I guess I get more distracted or rather occupied by me taking the world around me in with ever more depth, breadth and wonderment.

I also start to find the time to take myself in more. For example I remember sharing with someone how disappointed I was that I was turned down for a new job I applied for. That person reminded me how I was hesitant to apply for that new job because I was afraid of not getting accepted and felt like the new job would be good for me. I was afraid to try for what I wanted, but I had the courage to try and take there risk that I might get turned down. That person congratulated me for trying and taking a risk. And I paused and realized that it was actually amazing I tried.

And while I’m walking, it’s rather amazing that I’m able to walk for over an hour covering about 5 miles at a time, getting healthier and keeping fit in a way that’s puts less stress on my joints. I find I’m able to eat healthier and am slowly losing weight trending towards a healthier body. Doing this takes some discipline and is not a trivial act — I pause to take that in.

It takes some time and sometimes a bit of help from another to find the proper perspective so that I can take in myself. And when I can take myself in, I start to view the things that I have been able to do everyday as amazing — even things that I initially viewed as “unsuccessful”. Because what ever you did that was “unsuccessful” is amazing because it means you tried and the trying itself is a success. Take that in. Breath that in.

The practice of taking yourself in like creates your self esteem. It is the most fundamental way of self love. It creates your resiliency to live within circumstances in life that may seem unloving, uncaring and cruel.

The most important thing you can ever do for yourself is to take time to slow down and take space to take yourself in. You are amazing. Try not to take the things you are able to do everyday for granted … like it’s no big deal.

When you watch this video and listen to the words. I want you to imagine as if “higher self” part of you or the “better side” part of you is singing these words to you. That “higher self or better side” part of you embodies the gentle, caring, loving, honorable, and good parts of you.

Imagine this part of you singing these words to you. Imagine this part taking time to dance slowly with you. Giving you a breather. Appreciating you. Loving you like no other because in the end no other could ever be a better friend to you than you.

Take yourself in. You are beautiful. Your are amazing. Just as you are..

Click the link below to watch this video.


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What is Depression?

Over ten years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It stayed with me for perhaps a few months and then for many years was not part of my life. In recent months it seems to have come back into my life.

Back in then over ten years ago (around year 2005 and later) I’d been through many years of personal stress, so in some ways it wasn’t a surprise with the diagnosis. BUT honestly at least for me I found the diagnosis required my participation to come into being. You see the thing about any kind of mental / emotional / psychological disorder is that the diagnosis is very much a subjective thing coming from a mental health provider. And that diagnosis comes as a result of willing participation of a client wiling to show up and talk somewhat consistently with a health provider.

I remember many years earlier people sharing going thru a divorce or tragic loss of a loved one, or loss of a job and having “a break down” or a “nervous break down” which others later describe as depression. It made it all sound like a situation of just being “over whelmed” and perhaps needing to reach out by way of some kind of clinical diagnosis. But in the end there is an aspect of depression that seems at times hokey.

Someone says “I’m feeling depressed”. Isn’t that just an emotion. I always felt that feeling depressed was just a longer seated state of feeling sad for a long time. So if you’re feeling an emotion for a long time why is that a clinical disease or illness that should be “fixed” with therapy or medication?

I also heard at times that depression was more a deep seated anger at self. Once again anger is just an emotion. So if you’re feeling anger for a long time against self why is that a clinical disease or illness that must be “fixed”?

Ultimately, there is an aspect about depression, it’s characterization, it’s sharing with others and the participation with medical health care professionals towards a diagnosis that states that depression is a self inflicted state of being. And researchers had been able to find methods of physical treatment either through psychotherapy or psychiatric medication to counter the physical reinforcement of this self inflicted state of being. Psychotherapy helps one express and ease the painful regions of emotions while medication helps counter diminished neurotransmitter activity in the brain.

I’ve now come to see that depression is a defensive mechanism to numb feeling of things that have been too painful to feel. There are powerful and passionate life forces behind depression and in depression the choice has been made that it these emotional forces can only be endured through shutting down. It can be an energetic shutdown to encourage fatigue and sleep to help protect yourself from a tyrannical critical voice that refuses to let you rest and accept the major inconveniences of turn of life events that just refuse to meet your expectations. I’ve heard of some describing depression as a literally extremely physically painful experience. It leads to not caring. It leads to lack of self care. It leads to suicidal ideation.

So I would say that depression is not itself an emotion but is certainly brought on by very strong emotions. Depression is more the state of being and intent to suppress feeling the very strong emotions. I think though that there are many who through most or even all of there living life manage to suppress feeling many emotions who never quite get classified as depressed. These would be people who manage to suppress emotions and find mechanisms in life to function avoiding these emotions. But for those who eventually can find no way to avoid without it impacting on daily functioning life of self care, these people need external intervention to become functional again. It’s the need and the act of an external intervention to help someone who is no longer able to care fo self due to a paralyzing and numbing state of being that leads to diagnosis of depression.

So back then over ten years ago some friends suggested I get some help … and at times wondered if I was just a saint for being a very giving person to others, but at times at the expense of my own self care. Even a few wondered if I was depressed and that perhaps needed the help of some medication. And then I remember reaching a state of deep “I don’t care anymore”.

For me it was a kind of state of exhaustion where even if I was scared for my life about some some imminent physical harm — perhaps a car about to crash into me if I don’t jump out of the way — in my “I don’t care” state I wouldn’t move and know that the car would likely hit and kill me. In the state of what I would call depressed for me I’d just be too physically tired to move and my sensation of terror and fear of pain would be too numbed out to motivate me jump out of harms way. For me my definition of clinical depression is when I feel this deep seated emotional and physical state of “I don’t care”

I write and talk about this because in the last few months I’ve started to feel at times a bit of the “I don’t care”. There’s still a lot of vigilance in me to keep trying and striving. But that inner vigilance is creating lots of stress and exhaustion and ultimately intertwined in the creation of “I don’t care”.

At the very least I guess this particular blog entry describing a self fulfilling problem of depression is itself becoming the cure to counter the depression. And it’s the cure not because I’m going to come up with some ten steps to coming back to normal. It’s the cure because I’m willing to remain vulnerable to stigma and shame and share it and express it.

While I have done many things that seem very “awakened” and “mature” in areas of spirituality I’m just as filled with weakness, doubts, and faults as any one else. This is my knowing that while I’ve accomplished many things intellectually like setting up and maintaining several websites for many years, blogging for over 10 years and getting ready to publish two books that I’ve worked on for over 10 years — I’m still very capable of flubbing up. Things could take a turn and I may never publishing my books. I may become too ill and have to quit all my websites. I could go spiraling into depression and isolation. I could become just another homeless person wandering the streets.

For me depression is the area where I say “I don’t care and I don’t want feel anymore.” It’s the area that says “I wish I were dying sooner” because it’s becoming too painful and exhausting to keep fighting and hiding from the so many things in life that seem more threatening than physical death.

I think with physical death we all believe that it’s an impersonal door that closes us off from what we don’t want to find or be found by others. If we make the choice to stay alive and present in life, engaging and accepting what comes (even if it’s not at all like we would dream and fantasize it will be), we allow our selves to remain vulnerable to the unknown in the living state. That exposure to a rather limitless vulnerable unknown future in the living state seems immensely more terrifying than a final definitive physical death. The perception is that physical death feels scary because …. because well … it feels like death. Remaining alive to an unfolding ever more scary life feels scary … because well … if feels like were going to die.

There is an off-the-scale level of pain, horror, agony and unbearableness that we call death. It’s just that with physical death there’s a sense of an “off” switch. With the sensation of feeling like we’re going to die in the living state there is no “off” switch and it feels like unfolding living death just never stops. So in many ways the death in the state of being alive seems worse that the death associated with physical death.

To you blog reader … I share where I have been and still often feel this area medical scientists are willing to call clinical depression. It’s part of life or at least my life. I am human. I honor myself for sharing and bow in humble gratitude to you the reader having read to this point. Namaste.

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Found common ground with Stephen Hawking

So last night I ended up watching a documentary on Stephen Hawking’s life mostly centered around the book A Brief History of Time.  What I was kind of struck with is that I actually relate to Stephen.

Before I had watched this documentary, I had generally presumed like most of the media have concluded that he was a super brilliant theoretical physicist and also kind of out-of-touch with my world.  I may have seen this documentary years ago and not paid much attention.  But this time it captivated me as I started to see how some of my thoughts have some similarity to Stephen.  Now I’m not saying I’m anywhere as mathematically brilliant as him.  It’s just that where before I thought I was maybe 0.0000001% as bright as him — basically zero compared to him. This time I was thinking that perhaps I now at least show up on the radar and am maybe 1% as brilliant.  And to be true what I really mean to say is not so much a comparison of brilliance between me and the former Stephen Hawkings but that he and I bore some connection.  Even more, I’m saying I’m am more seeing how we are all really one or at least capable of getting to the point that we are all one.

Let me summarize some key observations.  The documentary talked about the fact that when Stephen lost the ability to write he could no longer use the normal mathematical tools that other mathematicians could use adeptly because that would require him to have a sort of photographic memory where he could write on imaginary paper in his mind and flip back and forth between pages.  Instead, he had to resort to perfecting working with geometric shapes, which I presume some of his assistants could start converting or confirming with more traditional equations.  When I heard this, I immediately remembered a time in advanced calculus class in undergraduate school we reached a section where we were expected to derive different forms of trigonometric proofs based upon a handful of memorized proofs.  I remember the teacher painstakingly taking many steps to complete the proof and then she illustrated the results on a triangle she drew.  As I started doing my homework I inadvertently went backwards.  I drew the triangle first and rather immediately the triangle completed the proof.  I then just had to copy the equations off each side of the triangle and it gave the appearance that I did all the hard work to memorize the equations and come up with the right steps of the proof.  I found a secret weapon to “cheat”  — except I wasn’t cheating.  The way the teacher and book were teaching everyone was rather hard and you had to be smart.  The way I did it was rather easy that a grade schooler could do it and not understand what they did but yet do it correctly.  I was rather surprised why everyone else didn’t see what I saw,  I roughly explained what I did once to my teacher and I don’t think she quite got it.  When it came to the next exam I killed the exam with absolute ease with so much extra time to spare.  That was so many years ago so I don’t remember to do what I did, but that memory connected with the idea that I could easily picture a triangle in my brain and from that have performed all those hard mathematical steps.

The documentary then described a mathematical problem that Stephen Hawking gave to one of his students.  The student described that Stephen Hawkings kind of already knew the answer to the math problem based upon his thinking using geometric shapes.  The math problem was challenging enough for that student to take a couple months to understand enough to work on it.  And when he returned with the solution it didn’t agree with what Stephen Hawking was expecting.  So Stephen assumed that the student made some mistake or that he failed to explore other parts of the math problem.  So the student rechecked his work but he did admit to not considering other parts of the problem.  So the student explored other parts and got the same answer.  Steve would then think of another part the student didn’t consider and the student would disappear for a few weeks to come up with the same conclusions.  This happened a few more times.  The student even worked with others to have a computer to solve the problem quantitatively and the computer came to the same conclusion.  After many retries, Stephen Hawking concluded he was wrong.

What this meant for me was that Stephen Hawking was in many ways a profound “daydreamer” thinking in high-level concepts about the meaning of life, what is God, how did the universe start and how will it end.  As he worked with these high-level concepts he was “cursed/gifted” with the inability to work equations the way a “normal” mathematician with working hands could do things.  So towards his later years, he would hand off mathematical problems to students and assistants to prove out what his geometric shapes already showed.  In the same way, I used my triangle to breeze thru one challenging part of an advanced calculus class, Stephen used way more elaborate shapes to breeze thru to conclusions left as an exercise for an assistant or student to complete to the expected answer.  Usually, the student would prove Stephen correct, but not always.

The end result of this was that the original theory that black holes are black was proven wrong.  The current explanation that Stephen Hawking had was that as physical matter is sucked down to an infinitely strong black hole at random moments some of the matter and anti-matter parts of the matter don’t always go down together.  When this occurs some residual radiation comes out of a black hole even though a black hole is supposed to be so strong that no radiation can escape its gravitational pull.

The documentary ended with a bit of confusion for me as to what the current belief of the universe is.  In one area Stephen seemed to conclude that the universe never began and always was.  But then he ends saying he still firmly believes the universe will end in a big contraction in maybe 20 billion years in sort of a reverse big bang.  But if the universe never began that there was no big bang.  He also started asking questions of is there a creator referring to the creator as him and what is the purpose of life.  As he continued I then felt much more capable of debating with Stephen as he was entering what I consider my realm of life thinking about the purpose, perception, and experience of the human existence.   Oh, by the way, I’m about to release my first book Spirituality for REAL: Beyond the Incense and Meditation which I think goes in much more depth into the realm of spirituality then A Brief History of Time.

I’ll leave one more note.  Stephen did also mention that he was seeking a unified theory that explains all things.  His firm belief that for such a theory to work it has to be easy enough for anyone to understand.  Somewhat about as easy to understand as Einstein’s E=MC2 equation. Maybe even more so.  He believed that if we had achieved this unified theory then it would be common ground for philosophers, engineers … everyone to have a discussion and understanding.  So in the end quite literally a brilliant actor in a play, an artist in a painting a child with disability overcoming a challenge, a dog giving you a hug may literally be one and the same brilliance as a Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein doing what they did best.

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Figured out how to make Word jump to end of lengthy document

Long before I was blogging I journaled privately.   I journal in a single Word document.  I’ve been journaling for over 20 years and my Word document is over 1100 pages long.  What I started to notice over the years was how long it took Microsoft Word to load my document.  When Word changed over from the “doc” to the “docx” format things really became cumbersome with Microsoft Word.  It would no longer load my entire document but instead load just the first few pages and would only load additional pages of the document if I attempted to scroll there.  It is Microsoft Word’s way of being a bit lazy thinking why bother making we wait to load all 1000 plus pages when I as the reader only need to see the first few pages.

That’s the problem.  I’m not so much the reader but the writer and I’m mostly interested in jumping straight to the end.  Generally, to jump straight to the end you’d think you can move the scroll bar to the bottom of the window.  That doesn’t work.  If you do that, it makes Word jump a few pages and then causes Word to realize it should load a few more pages to create the illusion it loaded the entire document, but then it only loads a few pages and stops loading.  So then you have to move the scroll bar down again to cause it to load a few more pages and then it stops.  So ultimately to load the entire document I needed to manually scroll continuously for about 2 minutes straight. For years I tried to search on Google for a faster way to get Word to load up my entire document or at least not have me manually scroll down for 2 minutes.  I never found anything.

Then a couple of weeks ago I discovered a better way!  After I had just loaded my 1000 plus page Word document I wondered what would happen if I asked Word to search for some text at that I knew was near the end of my document.  To my amazement Word within a couple seconds found the text that I was looking for near the end of my document.  Waaa Laaa, Shazam, aLa Kazammm!  Problem solved.  Yes!!!

If there was a support forum out there with an open question to solve this problem I’ve had for years I would get the satisfaction of posting the solution.  No one else I’ve found has the dilemma of editing a 1000 plus page journal in Word so I don’t think I’d even get any interest if I published the solution on YouTube.  So, for now, I’m quietly celebrating my brilliant discovery to a multi-year old problem of my audience of just one person.

Questioner: I constantly have to make edits to a 1000 plus page document.  When ever I load this document Word only loads the first few pages and I can’t figure out how to make Word load the entire document.  Do you have any answers?

Answer: I understand.  It would be nice if Word had a setting you could set to tell it to always load the entire document.  But I have a workaround that may meet your needs.  I recommend at the end of your document type in the words “END OF DOCUMENT”.  Then in the future if you end up reloading your document from anew, just make Word search for the text “END OF DOCUMENT”.   Word will then load your entire document rather quickly.

Questioner:  Your solution worked for me!  Thank you so much, Wilson, for answering my question.  You’re the best!

Answer: You’re quite welcome.  And thank you for the compliment and asking the tough questions.

Questioner:  Glad you liked my tough question. Hey seems like we connect we should get together?

Answer: Yeah?


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My Birthday and Past Two Decades

Little Willie at 3 months old

It’s 2018 and my birthday and I’ve been blogging here for almost 10 years.  So I find myself thinking about the past decade.  Few people know this but many years ago, in fact, 10 years ago my life had reached a rather low point.  It was 2008.  Yes, there was the financial crisis thing involving large-scale housing foreclosures, the collapse of major financial institutions, loss of many jobs and the start of a major recession.  But that wasn’t it.

For me my low point in 2008 was the culmination of the many challenges in my life that I have shared in Personal Journey, the Touch the Source blog and in this blog.  Ultimately, I ended up in a hospital for a couple weeks and followed up by several months of recovery.  I would describe some of those days in 2008 as simultaneously both the worst and best times of my life.  It was rough … I could have died in 2008 … but I wanted to live.

But that makes me look through my journals on another time, actually 10 years before 2008 … back to 1998.  Possibly that was the lowest point of my life.  In 1998 I woke up every morning wanting to die and somehow managed to pull it together to snap myself out of it.  In 1998 on one evening I took too many sleeping pills … and I remember eventually being helpless, unable to move but mentally awake enough realizing I might die and then suddenly realizing I did not want to die and prayed that I would live.  For several hours I felt like I was buried alive in a coffin, and that coffin was my motionless body.  For some reason today the physical effects of that incident course through my body.  I remember the sensations of being noticeably apart from my body.  I would turn my head and a few seconds later I feel my head turn I turn my head back and wait for me to notice my head turning.  As I write now, I can remember those physical sensations.

Move forward 10 years later it was 2008.  Like I said earlier in 2008 … I could have died … but in 2008 I wanted to live.  So unlike 1998 in many ways, it might be best not to call 2008 the low point but rather the turning point.  After that turning point, I found so much support come thru my life … but mostly because of me.  I eventually spent one birthday taking a workshop, which led me to enroll in the Barbara Brennan School of Healing for four years and then later continue on to go through five more years of personal growth in the Pathwork TP program.

So 10 years later here I am.  I’m much stronger.  In 10 years I started this blog, I became a homeowner (I always believed that was an impossibility), graduated from two different multi-year school programs, achieved Six Sigma Black Belt certification, studied and passed a brutally tough PMP (project management certification) exam and am getting ready to publish my first book.

When I think about my life one decade ago then two decades ago and where I am now today on my birthday September 16, 2018 … today feels like the best birthday I have ever had!!!  I’m so proud of myself.  Wow.  I love you Willie!  I love me!  I’m amazing!  Happy birthday me!

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Another Try at just Being Me in the Presence of You

So I’ve become much more willing to be aware of more things that bother me and have been lovingly welcoming them to go ahead and bother me while I observe curiously.  So I continue to explore what makes me feel insecure, lonely, and not connected with you.  …  Yes, I’m kind of referring to you, the reader of this blog, whoever, you are.  Because even if you’re not directly there in front of me now, if you were, there would be some part of me that would feel uncomfortable being in your presence, especially if I felt like I could not hold up my part of a conversation to fill awkward silences.

Last week I blogged about loneliness but more specifically for me, I wrote about the times I might have difficulty connecting with others in any social setting.  I first challenged myself to sense my loneliness or lack of loneliness in the presence of a local social gathering.  When I  started to feel I was pushing myself to act “social” I was able to pause myself and go back home to be by myself.  And then I felt a loneliness being by myself. In both instances, I felt a loneliness or that inability to feel as connected as I would like to feel with others, whoever they are. Eventually, I spent a few hours by myself hiking thru a small forest and found a deep state of connectedness … as much as I could want for one day.

Today I woke up somewhat early and spent a couple of hours doing yard work.  I showered up.  Then I thought what I might try to do next.  I felt that loneliness or separated feeling again.  I initially felt a desire to pretend I wasn’t feeling lonely and made a “legitimate sounding” excuse to myself (particular to my inner critic) that I have a lot of work to do to catch up on unreimbursed medical expenses for the past year.  It’s kind of like the excuse I might make in a social gathering when I start to get terrified because I’m feeling awkward.  Instead of being able to settle in my body … I say “well nice talking to you … I really have to get going … I’ve got to get back to some work … or I have another engagement that I’m late for … blah blah blah — BUT the truth of it, if I could speak, would be:

Please, can you help me to believe that I’m actually very popular and someone special and as far from awkward as I fear that I am? Please notice the concrete evidence of this based on my very believable excuses I am making to you that I’ve got places to go and things to do … So anyway … I have to get going even though I really don’t have to get going 

So bye  

… even though inside maybe I miss you, I am currently overwhelmed with my inner critic that’s more concerned with me not looking awkward and unlikeable … I’m also starting to realize I’m probably ignoring and not loving myself very much, so I guess I’m missing myself …  Please forgive me if I leave so abruptly.

All of these thoughts happened within a fraction of a second, woven into a usually inexplicable bad feeling.  But today I felt a question rise.  And that question was:

Here we are on another Sunday.  Why not try again?  Why not just show up, no pressure, no demands?  

I think about the social fears I have … but rather than approach it with a willful “just face your fear … just do it!” I decided to change the language to softer questions of:

Can I dare try just experiencing a bit more of the discomfort of social awkwardness?  

Can I also not have preconceived thoughts about how overcoming social awkwardness should look like?  

Can I just show up once again at this weekly social gathering and if need be — go ahead and feel awkward again.  And if the discomfort seems too much it’s OK to just abruptly leave.

At the gathering, there was a guest speaker.  What I noticed is that as I sat in the audience listening to a guest speaker talk … I had no self-imposed demand that I act all “Mr. Social” with others.

And after maybe 40 minutes of sitting in the audience of having no demand on myself, I was very much expecting to leave once the talk was over.  But then I was surprised to feel a desire well up inside of me to just walk up to a few people and just say “hello.”  I felt the urge to shake a hand or even give a hug.  I noticed there was something about me that was much more at ease.  I had no agenda but was just following that innocent, curious urge to just walk to people and say “hello” in as friendly of energy as possible.

So I did do just that and walk up to few people and just said “Hello.”  Sometimes after the “Hello,” there was silence, but it was not so awkward.  In fact, the silence was about as awkward as being silent in the presence of a dog or cat or being silent in a forest of trees.

I held no energy of trying to pretend to be “social.”  Instead, I held the energy of:

I’m so grateful to be in your presence and I might have something to say but I might not.  And if I have nothing to say and maybe at the moment, you have nothing to say we can be silent.  

But in that silence truly we are still feeling something … and when we feel …

… surprisingly one of us starts talking once again.  I start to feel this sense of much of me doesn’t care at all very much about the material value of our conversation … it’s more I want to feel your humanness, your ordinary mundane things, your loved ones, your domestic adventures, your hopes, your dreams and even your precious awkwardness.  Your awkwardness is a precious gift of your uniqueness and I welcome it with enthusiasm like a tattered delicate book with rice paper pages that if I carefully open will reveal such exquisite rich stories of love, life, and hope.  And because I can invite your awkwardness I can invite my own awkwardness.  And because I can invite my own awkwardness it is no longer awkward.  And rather ironically the outcome is there is actually very little awkward silence … as a matter of fact there is very little silence.

In the very act of being willing to sit in awkward silence, the awkwardness went away and the silence went away.  Not because it needed to or had to.  Not because being awkward or silent in a social setting is bad or weird.  It went away because the judgment that it is awkward went away.  I shifted my perspective away from judging it as bad and trying to fix it or overcome it. I instead softened my words and used “uncomfortable” instead of “awkward” and embraced it as a natural part of my being.

And so I found myself observing myself and liking myself feeling more comfortable.  I found myself marveling at how I somehow spontaneously became more socially comfortable.

I found myself so fascinated by the story you were telling me about yourself, your life, your brother, father, sister, mother, and others.  When I say you … yes, I’m referring to you the reader of this blog.  Today you might not have been the one physically with me but if you were I would have loved to hear and feel the story come thru your words, facial expression and body language.  You are so way more interesting than any movie I’ve seen or any story I’ve ever read because you are alive, living and breathing right here and right now.  You are beautiful.

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An AARP article spawned following question: If you are “spiritual” are you lonely?

I  found myself early on a Sunday morning reading the latest issue of AARP magazine.  AARP stands for American Association of Retired Persons.  As a kid, I remembered associating AARP with “old people.”  So yeah I’m a member of AARP.  There’s still part of me that still feels a bit like I’m 23 to 27 years old only a lot more experienced and wiser.  And I’ve got a long time to go before I’m financially sound to consider retirement — sigh :(.

In the AARP magazine, they had an article that characterizes those of us that are in the 50 plus age group.  Some things it highlights are that most of us in this age group (at least in the U.S.) are happier than ever and are more spiritual but also lonelier.  The article also mentions how more than half of us in this age group don’t have a friend to reach out to in time of need.

Hmm?  I consider myself deeply spiritual … does it follow that being this way will make me lonelier?

So then I remembered my previous blog post where I shared how Mother Teresa described the U.S. as a country fraught with a “poverty of loneliness,” where many of us are sold on being independent, with our own home and family life apart from parents.  In our American society, I was raised to believe that adults that have to live with their parents for financial reasons were not successful. The belief is that as kids mature, they are expected to leave the “nest,” explore and be independent.

But then I remember reading how in many cultures in the world it’s expected that as children grow up, they continue living in the same household.  Adult children would grow up living with their parents, and grandparents.  Whether they got married or not, had kids or not, they would still live in the same household.  This setup emphasizes the importance and strength of family community over the need to look like successful independent individuals.

I was definitely sold on the need to be independent.  So I felt like I’d be crowded in by parents who would constantly tell me what I should be doing.  I started to think of the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the family certainly takes away a lot of individual privacy but also removes many instances of personal loneliness.  The bigger and nosier the family the less likely it would seem one could hide the bad times.  So that aspect of a larger family community seems nice.

So with that “Big Fat Greek Wedding” image in mind juxtaposed against the AARP 50-something group of happier, more spiritual and lonelier characterization a questioned popped in my head.

If you are more “spiritual” are you also more lonely?  

What if I lived in a “Big Fat Greek Wedding” kind of family and culture? Maybe if I lived in a European Co-housing Community there would seem to be less opportunity for feeling alone or isolated.  But I wonder would that mean I’d have less time or need for the kind of quiet self-introspection one tends to associate with being “spiritual” and so would be less “spiritual.” Instead of a special personal moment of glorious sunshine realized under a large tree would my days be too filled with social interaction?

I firmly believe spirituality is an important aspect of our lives we must increasingly consider regardless of whether we are socially filled or isolated.  The truth of reality is that there will be pain, illness, and death as well as pleasure, health, and vitality  — and so it is the spirituality that helps us make sense of it all.  But still, I wonder as I choose to take the time to blog by myself on the internet instead of getting out and immersing in people … I wonder.

Would I be less spiritual of a person if I had less alone time?  I mean doesn’t living a secluded life in a monastery make one more deeply spiritual?  Does living a busy social butterfly life make one less spiritual?  Even more directly I wonder if they run a bit counter to each other.  In other words, does “spirituality” help compensate for feelings of loneliness and isolation when we’re in times of need? Maybe if I’m spiritually “unawakened” but feel socially full, then my life is complete without any need for an “awakening” in spirituality.  Or maybe in the attempt to deepen my spirituality I might tend to isolate myself and foster loneliness.

Furthermore are the feelings of loneliness and isolation more to do with personal perception rather than the number of external social interactions one has per day?  Author and psychotherapist Robert A Johnson describes in his book “Balancing Heaven and Earth” of having experienced feeling very lonely when he had lived a life often filled with crowds of people, but feeling his most fulfilled and complete times in his life as a forest ranger while living in solitude.  According to Robert, loneliness is different than solitude. He is quoted as saying “the only cure for loneliness is aloneness.”

So today I first made a choice to meet some familiar faces at a local group that gathers once a week.  It was nice to see some familiar faces, yet I noticed at the same time where I could not connect with ease.  I remember many times in the past willing myself to socialize, meet, and just “network” with people.  This time I decided to back off and just sit and say hello only to those who walked by and said hello to me.  I realized as I was sitting there a bit intimidated at times (like I’m often at many social settings).

I was not fully present with myself.  I was may 10% present and the remaining 90% had disassociated.  To the extent, I was disassociating I was abandoning being with myself.  And this experience is what loneliness feels like.  And so that abandonment basically left me alone — or at least with that awkward sensation of the unfulfilled longing for connection and an inability to satisfy that longing.  The truth is that the connection I was missing was with myself.  So I was the creator of my own feelings of loneliness despite being amongst a group of people.

I then went back home and started getting ready for my first day back from work after a nice full week of vacation.  Virginia had left to meet with someone else so I was by myself and I strangely also felt alone.  But there was an inner knowing that I was having difficulty being with myself despite being alone.  And with the Sun out the temperature not too hot I started to visualize myself standing in the middle of a forest and in that vision I felt most safe to be more deeply myself.

So I drove to the nearest wooded park and within 5 minutes I was immersed deep in a forest.  I hiked another 30 minutes to a bridge only reachable by foot or bike and completely out of cell phone reception.  There were two benches both welcoming me to sit.   And so I sat and saw the rich golden-ness of the day reflecting off grand green trees while the water of a local creek trickled.  Time started to slow down and I had the feeling of being 12-year-old return to me.  I remember when I was 12 in  Summer camp riding down the Brandywine River on an inner tube wasting time away on a generously long day.  That felt so nice!

I somehow feel and hear my long deceased Mother talking thru the whisper in the trees.  I look up in the clear blue sky and I swear I see the faint image of two birds that seem way too high in the sky to be real … maybe I’m imagining.  I come to appreciate the wonder of my 1-mile journey into a forest of trees to a nearby large river and feel the awe of different birds, sounds, creatures, and sites.  Because I’m now so much in awe of a 1-mile hike near where I live, I’m now blown away by the idea of a man traveling so high in the sky (like those two birds I see) out to space. And for a moment while sitting in the chair I see how that at any level be it microscopic, in the present human scale, the grand macroscopic scale of our solar system and far beyond that at all levels there is grand wonderment infinitesimally small and infinitely large.  I see that all these levels are somehow all the same and connected.  And all during this time I feel more one with nature, earth, the trees, ground, air and universe and I just am me, only me, fully me, with myself, not trying to be more like this or less like that.  There is no loneliness. So in a course of several hours on a lazy Sunday from early morning towards the late evening, I think I have both asked and answered my own question.

Q: If you are more “spiritual” are you also more lonely?  

A: No

I am a deeply spiritual person and sometimes I’m feeling lonely and sometimes not.  Spirituality doesn’t encourage loneliness — nor does loneliness inspire spirituality.  Loneliness is more the result of when I abandon or ignore myself, usually with a harsh inner critic saying “you should be more like …” or “you should be able to do …”   I can abandon myself when I force myself to “network” in a room full of people in a cocktail party setting.  I can abandon myself also when I’m by myself at home.

And I find that for me taking a quiet soulful hike in the forest silences the inner critic that might say “come on Wilson you should be more outgoing and talking with these people”  … In the forest, there are no groups of people with which “I should” talk.  In the middle of a forest, I have a good excuse to counter the arguments my critic might throw at me.  My inner critic is mostly accepting that when one is 30 minutes away from “civilization” in the middle of a forest it’s OK to be quiet and at peace and there’s nothing to prove or hide.  And with that inner critic put at bay I can be more with myself and go into deep presence and ease with space, time and life. And with that inner critic silenced I can be more with myself and go into deep presence and ease with space and time and life.   And so deeper spirituality becomes a path to a state of being where there is no loneliness.


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Poverty is when you want what you don’t have



I remember about 15 years ago hearing a priest read a hand written speech previously given by Mother Teresa.  In that speech she described working with the “poorest of the poor” in Calcutta, India.  And during that time she came to find the meaning of poverty.  She started to describe the most impoverished people being very wealthy and isolated.  She was once quoted as describing the United States as the poorest country she has ever encountered.  One of the most materially rich countries in the world suffered most from the poverty of loneliness.

A few years ago I recall seeing some documentary on happiness and what seems to make people happy and what doesn’t.  It certainly addressed the areas of how money correlates with ones happiness.  The message is there is not much correlation between the two, and in fact it seems you actually start to get less happy with more money.  One point in the documentary that seemed to crystalize why more money could make one less happy is the image of many of us pushing hard on an endless consumerism treadmill, constantly wanting more, the new thing, the next thing. And when we get what we want we move on to the next thing we want.  And I visualize myself like a helpless consumerism rat striving for the next thing that will make me in some way look or feel better. Some key things that seemed to be linked to greater happiness were things like living in shared living quarters with many other people, sharing chores and eating together, somewhat like a large family.  Another thing mentioned was that activities of volunteering or helping others factored in big to increasing ones happiness.

And  recently I discovered an unfinished a blog entry I somehow forgot to post 3 years ago.   It was like a message to myself that I was not quite ready to fully appreciate until now. That message was that poverty is when you want what you do not have.  For me wanting what I don’t have consists of feeling a tension and demand from my being.  It is a state of being hounded by vigilant thoughts of “oh no I’m late,”  “By now I should have done this,”  “I’m behind where I should be,”  “I’m so far behind,” “I wish I had this,” “I wish I had tried this,”  “I wish I had not chosen this,” and “If only I had more money”.  This state of being is poverty.  Poverty is a self-inflicted state of consciousness that one can choose to embrace or not choose to embrace.  That choice comes up every moment of life.  From this state of being one manifests poverty of the self.  You are unable to be fully with self because you in various ways feel “not enough.”  This poverty of self then creates the more tangible displays of loneliness, material poverty, greed, envy, and distress in the world.

Happiness comes when I can accept my current state of where I am and what I have.  There is not a wishing I were elsewhere, bigger, better, and stronger.  Instead there’s an acceptance, greatfulness, and embracing for where I am, who I am and what I have.  Because when that happens I also feel that I am enough.  And then when I can believe and feel in my body that I’m enough, that tension starts to go away.  I can start to surrender and feel ease.

The more I can remind myself that I am enough then there’s nothing to do.  I might survey the things I feel the itch to complain about … and I start to let go of those complaints … because mostly it’s rather exhausting and hurtful to hold on to them.  The urgency starts to drop.  If all I ever achieve in life is where I am right now … when I can savor who I’ve been and where I’ve come from, and the journey that I have traveled, with all it’s unique challenges — then I become successful because I am enough.

My definition of successful is when I can finally believe and feel that I am enough.  Furthermore when I can come to this state not so much as a result of achieving something but as a result of a choice to stop at where I am now … where I am at, wherever I am at, however I am at … despite how messy and imperfect my inner critic might believe.  When I can do this then I am successful.  When I can just stop running on the treadmill then I have successfully become me.  Each moment I can keep showing up in life as it comes, however it may come, I am successful once again and again and again … moment by moment.

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Had a Different Perspective on a Quote I had often Read

So I have several magnetics around the house with encouraging quotes.  One which I have liked a lot says:

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one … Elbert Hubbard

I’ve read that quote maybe hundreds of times and found it encouraging but maybe at times also a little bit pushy.  Or maybe just an voice inside of me with a critical impatient tone going “hey yeah Wilson when are you going to be less cautious and not be so afraid of making mistakes?”

So now I’d recommend a followup to that quote:

… And if you continue to be afraid … that’s OK … because there are no mistakes.

And so to that critical voice I might encourage rephrasing of a desire to read something more like:

… I would like to be less afraid of … but I am not able to … yet.

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Grateful and Appreciative of Events Over Past 7 Years

Recently I went to something called the Furr Festival at a local park. It featured lots of cute dogs a few of which reminded me of Muffin.  I also recently found a new job with an employer that’s much closer to where I live so now the possibility of maybe adopting a new dog is now opening.  I did bump into a 4 month old rescue dog that was Maltese and I swear she melted my heart.

But I digress because the real purpose of this blog entry is for me to start laying out events that I once thought terrible were actually playing key roles in my growth.  It started out with me almost getting laid off in 2010, which opened my mind to attending the BBSH (Barbara Brennan School of Healing) in Miami, FL.  Then I managed to stay employed with my first employer DuPont so that I could afford the tuition for BBSH as well as get 5 weeks of paid vacation a year that I needed to attend the 5 weeks of required classes per year.  It was a perfectly timed setup.

So I attended BBSH and met in person it’s founder Barbara Brennan.  It was the last time Barbara would ever show up in person, so my timing was “fortuitous” in showing up at that last time Barbara would have been available to meet.  Then I started to join the Pathwork program and received enough space to allow me to take one year off from BBSH — join back up with the school and graduate having the daughter of Barbara Brennan be one of my teachers.  I appreciate that closure starting with Barbara herself and ending with Barbara’s daughter.  It also turned out the year I would graduate became the the last time the BBSH school stayed in Miami which had been it’s longest standing configuration of over 10 years.  The year after I left, the school went thru large changes and downsizing.  So I’m so grateful I graduated BBSH the Summer of 2015.

So I’m grateful the universe made sure BBSH didn’t change until after I graduated. Looking back it also seemed that the universe also decided to hold off two other hard events from happening until after I graduated.  A few months later my dear Muffin died


Then a couple months later I got laid off from, DuPont, my place of employment of over 26 years


Those were sad and scary times for me.

I managed to find employment a few months later with a medium sized accounting software company.  Being a new employee again really put me under the test to really work out the agility and tenacity of my work ethic so that it became very clear to myself that I had become an employee at least worth my salary in the market place.  This I believe seasoned me further to more easily resign from that same employer just one year later to seek even better opportunities for me that were closer to where I live.

Now I’m working with a new employer — the 3rd employer of my career.  One thing I notice with this employer, the previous employer and even with DuPont before I left was that the new norm is that one only gets a maximum of 4 weeks of vacation a year.  In the past that would not have been enough for me to have been able to attend the 5 weeks of class a year for BBSH. So once again I am drawn to go to my knees and bow before the universe that so kindly offered me the final years of life with DuPont to have the necessary 5 weeks of vacation a year to attend the 5 weeks of schooling a year that BBSH requires as well as haven been able to afford to pay for BBSH and do this all before my life would get shaken in the few months after I graduated from BBSH.

Life has in the end been good to me … despite also having been rather scary to me.

Namaste my dear Lord.  Namaste and Thank You for the “fortuity” but even more Namaste as I start to see more of the “wisdom” of the scary and harsh events that have been sent  my way with timing so close in precision with my ability to meet them that it seem that they were in no uncertain terms NOT accidental but very deliberate, planned and intentional.


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Remembering my Baby Girl Muffin

MuffinFunnyMy wife found Muffin in 2002 at the King of Prussia Plaza in a pet store. I was kind of annoyed because she already put a non-refundable deposit down on a dog without asking me. Honestly I didn’t think it was a good idea because we were having difficult times and we did try a dog about a year earlier and we just couldn’t bond so we returned that dog to the original owner within a week. I harped over the fact that I’m probably going to end up taking care of this dog and not Virginia and I was already overwhelmed. Virginia insisted she would walk the dog. That along with the fact I have a hard time forfeiting a non-refundable deposit was enough to persuade me to bring home a female Maltese dog with an initial tag of “Honey Dew Mellon” on her neck.

MuffinToysWe eventually gave her the name of Muffin. Before we left the pet store we picked out her first toys. In the above picture you’re looking at her favorite spot to chill and sleep in our house. You can see 3 of the first toys she loved starting at about 2 months of age. She loved Mr. Blue Octie with his wriggly legs that she would flail back and forth in mouth while making it squeak. She loved squeaking Diney as she could talk to me with squeaks. She loved Mr Hedge Hog so much that some of the stuffing started to come out of the bottom. She perpetually loved these toys all the way to the age of 13 years 10 months.

I took her to obedience class when she was about 6 months of age. The teacher who was a long seasoned trainer of champion dogs soon became impressed with Muffin. At some point she said to my class Muffin had the makings of a “10” scoring dog (10 being the perfect score). It was mainly because Muffin had personality, knew how to have a blast even in the midst of our very intimidating teacher. I remember at one point our teacher saying to other students that you want your dogs to have fun when they are rewarded.   And while she said this all the dogs were sitting straight and disciplined wondering what to do with the reward toy that was just given to them. But Muffin had a “birthday” reward toy and she was flailing it around like nobody’s business having a good all doggy time. The teacher saw this and said, “have fun like Muffin … now she knows how to have fun”

Muffin seemed to not know fear. Not because she was “brave” but because she thought differently and didn’t quite understand why someone would throw a bean bag at her while she’s running towards them. Normally in the “come – stay” dog obedience exercise, you would have the dog sit across the room from you, tell your dog to run towards you, and then tell them to “stay” while simultaneously throwing a small bean bag in front of them to get them to stop immediately half way before reaching you. It was the fear of getting hit by the bean bag that would trigger the dog to stop, and when you associated that with the “stay” command they learned how to run towards you upon command and stop at any point you desired before reaching you. When I did that same thing with Muffin and threw the bean bag at Muffin, she didn’t stop but swerved to avoid the bean bag (probably thinking now why would you throw a something at me, it only makes it inconvenient for me to reach you), then she continued to run towards me and reach me.

I remember the teacher’s meanest, toughest and prized German Shepherd was lying down with his tennis ball. That was his tennis ball and no one better try to touch it or else!! Muffin, who was maybe 5 pounds, walks up with a bounce and picks up his tennis ball and the German Shepherds jaw drops in astonishment. Muffin prances with tennis ball in mouth and everyone else is in shock. She then walks up the back of the German Shepherd on top of his head and back down with his ball in her mouth. The German Shepherd is stunned that he’s been showed up by a tiny girl maybe only slightly bigger than his head.

I could go on with a ton of stories. I have tons of magical videos of Muffin doing amazing and funny things. I have endless special memories. I could go on forever.

At the bottom of the photo with Muffin’s toys is Muffin’s collar with her name tag she wore for many years up until November 10th, 2015 at 6 AM. That was about the time I removed the collar from her neck for the last time. Muffin was exhausted from so much non-stop labored breathing. My wife and I made a decision. I sat across from Muffin in the oxygen unit a good long time before I felt Muffin and I were ready. I communicated silently with my Baby. She no longer had the terror in the eyes. She looked very tired. At some point I swear she was telling me “come on … let’s get this going … I’m getting a little impatient … come on Babby”

My baby lied in my lap panting. With the first injection she calmed down and finally was able to relax. After the final injection she quickly left her body. Muffin was the best dog. She was my one and only baby daughter. Thank you Muffin!

I want to thank many of you who I had been able to share various parts of my struggle and grief. Thank you Muffin baby. Thank you Virginia for getting Muffin. And finally thank myself for being such a loving daddy. Knowing what I know and have experienced I would have felt sorry for Muffin not having someone as loving as me. So while she saved me in some my darkest times I guess I saved her or maybe even I learned more about saving myself.

Another graduate of BBSH told me that Muffin was another reflection of me. That the emptiness that I was starting to feel with Muffin starting to fade away was the missing of the mirror so that I could no longer find myself making me feel so cold and empty. When that was shared I broke down in tears as that resonated with me. But it also made me perk up because if that’s the case then much of what I love about Muffin that I think are qualities I wish I could have, I actually might have. I pondered that that bright cheerful Muffin, that really cared about people, that I longed to be more like might actually be me. That I’m a really wonderful loving person … wow. So I can thank and love myself too.

I will miss Muffin peering up at me thru my glass top kitchen table every time I eat.

I will miss Muffin keeping me company at times in the car while I’m doing errands.

When I’m in the basement I will miss the patter of Muffins paws on the hard wood floor above my head.

I’m happy that we agonized about our decisions at the emergency room. We deliberated independently on our own time, and we were there physically, emotionally and intimately with Muffin for many final special moments until the very last second. And even for many minutes after she left, we loved her limp body. I scan every nook and cranny of any possible critical voice that could emerge of “what if” or “should I have” and there are no doubts and regrets left. A trillion self-imposed inquiries of “could you”, “what if”, “but I wish” get no-where because they have nothing to grab on to. My case against my inner prosecution is solid. I so so so so so much love myself for that. I’m in awe of myself. I love myself. I’m so happy and relieved.

So there we have it tremendous happiness simultaneously coexisting in the same spot as great loss. The only regret is the loss. But in a mind-boggling way the intensity and pain of the loss is exactly the beauty and awe of the gift. How can great pain and great happiness be one and the same? Sort of makes no sense but that’s exactly what it seems like.

In loving memory of Muffin: Jan 2002 to Nov 2015



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“Secretly” Having a Hard Time Adjusting to Time

LostInDazeA few weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend a family reunion.  After many years I got to see several of my Aunts and Uncles; then the next generation: my cousins;  and then the next generation: my nephews and nieces.  And I was aware at the time something in me was getting stretched and dilated across time and space. Part of me was maybe a three year old listening to Aunt’s and Uncle’s projecting me back in time.  Part of me was an adult momentarily being a peer discussing day-to-day practical things.  And then when it came to interacting with my nephews and nieces it was odd that part of me was still locked in my teens almost seriously wondering if I should regress in age and play interactive video games with them on their iPads and iPhones.  Part of me was not quite ready to step up to being their Uncle when I have not had the experience yet of my own children and while I was being freshly impressed with childhood memories of being in the presence of my Aunts and Uncles.

At my workplace I have gradually experienced this time dilation sensation as I’ve watched new and young employees suddenly age and become parents and mentors to yet another generation of even younger employees.  The thing is I’m more senior in age then that first round of young employees.  Even a few coworkers who have referred to others as “newbees” are in age many years younger than I.  And so something emotionally in me feels displaced, lost, forgotten and wishing time could recycle.

Even more recently I made an impromptu visit to the house of former neighborhood friends of my parents.  Their two daughters were there.  One of the daughters came from Florida for a visit, along with her husband and two kids.  Both of them I kind of knew from my elementary thru high school days in Pennsylvania.  In fact there was a time when we were all very young kids, we all stayed over at the same “Baby Sitters” place after school and during Summers.  I used to go to the same Summer camp as them as well.

Flash back to the present and someone asks how the kids of one of the daughters is.  Someone says 8 years old.  And then in the background one of daughters, a former schoolmate of mine, jokingly says I’m 50 years old.  Initially, I almost chuckle because obviously that’s a joke, in the sense as if someone said I’m 1,000 years old; yes I’m a vampire.  And then it hits me “THAT IS NOT A JOKE”.  It was literally my perception that made it seem like it was a joke.

My God it’s reality.  She’s saying 50 years old because it’s true and that’s because I’m almost 50 years old?!  Whaaaaaattt!!?

Yes that is true.  But why does my school mate look the same. Why aren’t we still in our mid to late 20’s.  The peers of my parents are in the room with me.  They still feel the same as they did when I was a teenager.  My older school mate feels the same.

As a “responsible” and logical adult it makes sense that I’m almost 50 years of age.  But honestly the emotional and spiritual parts of me really aren’t all there … or should I call it here because I should be here in the present instead of there in the past?  Honestly the sensation really feels like I’m stretched in time like if you were to approach a black hole and parts of you get stretched and compressed into the vortex even as the other end of you is still uncompressed.  One end is moving ahead 20 plus years rapidly accelerating in the increasing immense gravitational pull while another part is largely still stuck at the age of 23, another maybe 17, then 12, then 3, and then maybe 1.  …..

WHAT THE HECK is going on!?  This is what my body, and psyche is saying. …. I want to cry … I want to go back in time … I also want to advance in time to my 80’s … and then I also want time to stop still.  Now more than ever I feel I am rapidly becoming the entire circle of life from birth, thru puberty, thru adult hood, thru twilight and to death.  I am all of these at the same time.  It is weird.  It is kind of Hard.  I’m stretched and dilated across time and space.

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Pondering the End of Blogging

So this blog started back in 2009, now about 6 years ago, which really isn’t supposed to be a long time, but for me, and for those in the internet world it’s a long time.  It was inspired by a movie “Julie & Julia” back in 2009.  The movie portrayed a time period (around 2002) in Julie Powell’s life as she detailed her efforts during a personal project to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s French cook book.  She shared her efforts on a blog, which then seemed to get a large following, which then got converted into a book, which then became “Julie & Julia”.

The movie tickled my fancy to become passively popular while also making more money and becoming famous and share my thoughts.  I mean I’ve been keeping up a journal for most of my life, I was craving for some attention, and so what better way than to start to open up my journal, and be more courageous to share part of my personal life.

In recent times my blog entries have gone cold.  And so I see an end and possible moving on of a venture of sharing in my life.  A big part of this thinking is just how I’ve seen the internet, and the climate of this world changing in the past 6 years.

The biggest issue is the increasing challenge I see for one to maintain a blog of substantive meaningful material for too long.  When it becomes substantive it probably gets into opinions and views and gets controversial.  If you write a safe, politically correct for all global views blog the life, enthusiasm and energy goes out.  It becomes boring to write, and read.  And if your blog gains any significant following, mostly by the many automated web crawlers and bots on the internet, it continually endures growing spamming attacks, and hacking.

It appears that this activity sort of lead to a internet provider, who at one time was eager to have my business gradually, grow ever more eager to have me go away.  It seems my websites were getting attacked so much by spam postings on my blogs they were over burdening the tech support.  So with great inconvenience I moved my blogs to another hosting service several years ago.  But then shortly afterwards I got notices they needed to disable my websites until I got better security.  My blogs then required the security of difficult passwords I can’t remember and even then every few months my blogs endure outages from hacking attempts.

Most outages are minor and the hacking has never resulted in any permanent damage to my sites, but I suspect if I was ever more active in my blogs and dared be bolder with my sharing the hacking would be more severe and my sites would be wiped out.  I am realizing how hacking is the reality of everyday internet existence and it is well organized, and well funded by governments agencies, military forces, and entrepreneurs selling hacking software. All of this is a major and growing burden to wanting to blog.

Julie’s original blog that started this all stopped some 4 years ago.  I noticed she had later started a new blog but it looks like that blog has gone amiss and probably inactive as it was over run with lots of inflammatory remarks.  With internet savvy extremist, hacktivist and activist groups in play it also makes things feel just that much more unsafe to start sharing your self and be seen.

And when I started to blog Facebook was starting to catch on fire.  Now I see it in many ways the replacement to the blog.  The only shortcoming of Facebook compared to a standard blog is it’s not the best place to post long articles or share a chronology of articles.  But otherwise Facebook seems to be the best way to be seen by many “friends” for maybe a few hours, until everyone else’s posts make you long history.  And you don’t worry about someone hacking and erasing away your account — although I’m not entirely sure of the technical reason why.

In the end I have been recording most of my thoughts in the hack-free safety of my own personal journals, and often on paper.  I mean now I better appreciate honoring my own privacy and the value to my own growth to allow myself the safety of my own privacy.  But even more important I start to let go of needing others to see me to make me feel enough.  I don’t give away myself for a little more publicity.  And if I come across as ordinary to others, that’s going to be OK.  Because in the end the ability to be ordinary is rather extraordinary, because it’s the ability to be fully in my body just as I was meant to be, without ever having to do anything.

Lately I’m getting more and more glimpses of how remarkably fantastic it is to simply be fully in a ordinary physical body, feeling my toes, marveling that I can walk, that I can feel the texture of the floor and that I can breath and be tired and sleep.  Guess what?  Want to hear something really sensational on this blog?  I got up, went to work at my office, had a couple meetings.  I ate some of my own home cooked slow cooked beef stew … Mmm Mmm Mmmm.  I had a good day.


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Allowing myself to accept and feel my emotional pains


So I’m now surveying the past few years of my life.  I recall the times where I’ve experienced what feels like being emotionally “steamrolled” (at least that’s how it felt at the time) by people I’ve regarded as my supporters or loved ones. And I’ve experienced those same people come around to become yet again even stronger support and love.  And I accept they can change. We are afterall human.

I’ve experienced odd situations where say a large national business initially inadvertently mischarges me, admits it to it to my face, and only says that due to company policy they can’t remedy their mistake — almost taunting me to explode in anger — while another voice within me is getting ready to criticize me for getting petty enough to complain about being overcharged a few dollars here or there. And then maybe to throw a twist, a computer error happens and that same company maybe now refunds me anyway. Yet a part of me still feels inflamed wanting to complete a fight anyway. In the end it’s as if life challenges me to stand up and fight for my rights yet somehow also don’t fight too hard and take things out of perspective.

I’d rather just take one of two very distinct actions: 1) just give up and say “it’s not worth my time” or 2) say “This is war, I’m taking you to court!” I do not want to consider sort of an in-between ground, because it then it gets messy, unclear and even scary. I’m challenged to consider the in-between ground of not allowing my feelings to overtake me but also not disconnecting from my feelings. Taking this “middle ground” almost seems to be a willingness to prolong a discomfort that is probably actually more painful than I give credit for.

I think all of us at some time come to some nexus where it seems all of life is against you. It’s unfair, you’re misunderstood and misheard. And I believe to any unbiased observer they would all agree that what you are experiencing is completely unfair and unfortunate. And in these times you experience a pain. And I now come to realize how great the pain is. I am starting to come to believe that the emotional pains we experience in life are actually the most painful thing we could ever possibly experience. Greater than any physical pain. It’s just that in the emotional plane there is a remarkable ability to numb a vast amount of that emotional pain. And so in the emotional plane one can have the presence of the greatest most infinite pain we’ll ever experience yet have the ability to feel absolutely nothing due to the effectiveness of numbing — but in this state everyone can sense something is just not right and something keeps bothering you.

Lately, as I’ve been going thru the work of my personal development I’m constantly told of a commitment to feeling whatever I feel even if a significant part of that is pain. And so as I’ve matured I have grown to accept that pain is part of this world and it’s impossible to avoid all pain, despite how much I might want to. Furthermore, actions to avoid that pain, can possibly postpone the pain, but if pushed for too long will in the end create an even greater pain. So in the end there’s a realization of “I might as well face the fear”  and I might as well face the pain that I fear that I shall meet.”

And so I will do something with friends, with family, with a support group, with my schooling, and with the people at my work place, that will please some and simultaneously displease others. I will be exposed to situations where others will infuriate me, do something that is unfair, invalidate me, or completely disgregard me and I will feel hurt, maybe even very hurt.

But the key is to have the courage or rather the faith to know that what the others think or behave towards you will have little to do with you. But know that what you feel within means everything in the world. Dare you have the courage to sing your song and risk offending another’s ears or dance and find you unknowingly stepped on someone’s toes. Dare you take the risk of feeling the pain of the guilt you might feel as a result. And even more importantly dare you not pretend, blame or rationalize away your feelings of guilt, but dare you hang your head low in the face of your critiques and accusers, take it in the gut, fall down to your knees, feel low and ashamed, express your misgivings, and look foolish. Dare you with integrity and truth to yourself feel your feelings and name them as they are … and then with time … have a loving courage to hug yourself, kiss yourself, pick up the pieces and sing your song once again and dance once again.

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Why music from the past seems to be getting better?


So over the past several days there was this old radio tune playing in my head.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.  It was a song from either 70s or 80s that I can’t say I really liked but it I know it played a lot on the radio.  But these past several days it’s been playing constantly, but not clear enough for me to make out the words.  I could swear I must of heard in a recent movie soundtrack, but when I  “googled” it I didn’t find any recent movie soundtracks containing this song.  I could barely hum the song, and I really couldn’t make out the of the lyrics except possibly the word “Lady” or “Baby”.   So how many songs are out there that have the word Lady, or Baby or something that sounds vaguely similar or at least how many pop songs since the 70s have a 2 syllable word in it.   Oh boy, this is going to be hard.

After about 30 minutes of taking best guesses of the muffled lyrics playing in my head an internet search delivered to me the song “Lady” by the Little River Band.  And when I played that song I felt a sensation of going back in time, a sort of “return to the mother ship” sensation and so eventually I was drawn to purchase the entire album containing this song.  But even during my 30 minute exercise of hit-or-miss trying to figure out this song, I happened to run into lots of other 70s songs from the past on You Tube that I remember and loved or I never heard of but still loved.  And I’m not so sure why I loved hearing these songs, except that maybe they all emanated an energy of the past, of that era.  These were all pop songs that now seem like amazingly brilliant master piece classics of the heart and human expression.

A recent movie that made a big impression on me in the element of music from the past is “Guardians of the Galaxy”.  For me the lead character in that movie seemed to elevate the pop songs of the past to epic proportions.  It further awakened a tug on my heart strings and lifeline on Earth.

So I started to think again “why does this music from the past seem to be getting better with time?”  “why does this music start to feel more powerful and epic as if it’s a symbol of holding time still?” At first one might just state that any music that you grew up with in child hood would have made the most impression upon you so it makes sense that the older music seems more appealing to you.  Or maybe it’s just the number of times you’ve heard that song.  An older song has had more time to be heard than a newer song, so that also makes sense.

But somehow I feel there is something even more.  Or maybe I just need to concoct a something more explanation as to why music from the past is so powerful.  Here’s my current hair (I wish I had more hair though) brained theory.   Songs played over the radio waves will tend to be more potent than songs that aren’t ever played on the radio.  Songs left only to normal sound waves can’t travel beyond the boundaries of the Earth’s  atmosphere because the sound doesn’t travel in the vacuum of space.

Continue to hear me out (I think my scalp is growing new hair … well I wish)

Radio waves, electromagnetic waves travel into space and at a speed of 186,000 miles per second.  So that music that might have been first transmitted say in 1970 has been traveling in space for over 40 years.  Scientists would say that music has now traveled over a distance of over 40 light years, which in miles is over 235,000,000,000,000 miles away!  But there’s more.  Radio waves spread out in all directions, like how a drop in a pond will radiate outward in an ever expanding circle, but in space it’s an ever expanding sphere that’s over 470,000,000,000,000 miles wide.  In comparison our entire planet is only about 7,926 miles wide.

… So where am I going with this except starting to sound like the Discovery Channel ?  ..

That sphere of radio wave music stemming from the 70’s is now big enough to encapsulate more than 208,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of our planet.  That’s a big number!  Do you know how many cells are in our body? … way way less than that number.  How about the number of atoms in a human body? … still way less than that number!  How about the number of atoms in all the humans on Earth?  … now we start to come on equal footing.  The number of atoms in all the humans on Earth as of now would be about 235 times larger than the number of Earth sized planets that would fit inside this humongous sphere of radio wave music that started back on 1970 … that is at least as of the year 2010.  Actually it will take maybe 200 more years for the number of Earths this 70’s music will enclose to be about the same as the number of atoms in all the humans on Earth.

So my hair brained conclusion is that in 40 years that radio music that permeated my cells as I was born and continued to do so as I moved from childhood, teenage years, adult hood to present had also permeated outwards into space, leaving a universal “footprint” as significant in magnitude to form a musical statement of humanity big enough to hold a number of Earth sized spheres that is much larger than the number of atoms each of has in our body.  If we imagine this 70’s radio sphere was like a large living creature of which each Earth sized planet in it are it’s cells than this large living creature has more cells than the number of cells that each of us has.  These musical creature has more Earth sized cells than the number atoms each of us has!

But when we combine all of us together, as one unified human race we would encompass a number of atoms that would be 235 times more than that massive 70’s music radio wave living creature that continues to grow outwards ever bigger at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. But now that 70’s radio music and us are rather in the same realm of humongously large numbers, at an atomic level, and at a human level and so maybe in a “hair brained” slightly scientific view of things this is why I’m finding the music of the past starting around 1970’s resonates with ever more epic proportions, because it’s now rattling thoroughly in my cells, in every atom of every human being on this Earth based upon the testament the traveling radio waves of our music has started to impart on the rest of the universe, possibly already being heard by other life forms on other planets far far away.

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Once computer geek … now an obsolete dinosaur

Many years ago the “world wide web” was something new and explosive.  Back then it was cool simply putting up a website with the title “My First Website”.  In fact you had to be a computer nerd to get a website setup.  So for a while I felt a bit special to have my own website setup by myself.  Then over the years things got more sophisticated and computer nerds way more intelligent and nerdier than I ever was created things like lycos, google, wordpress, myspace, facebook, twitter … which brought the internet to the masses so that anyone with a few clicks can make something much more polished, useful and fancy then I could have ever done investing many many hours of my time putting up a website the “old fashioned” way I did things with my first website.

In fact I suspect most people don’t think of putting a website as much more of an issue than creating a brochure, or business card.  If you are a regular social media person using Facebook, Twitter, like to share photos on the web or whatever is in trend these days you by default already have you own website that is much more advanced than what I could have ever done with my first website.  I am now just an obsolete dinosaur in the world of computers.

I mean even this blog, while it might have a sophisticated layout look to, was created by someone else.  And all of the blogging functionality comes courtesy of an application called “Word Press” created by many other much smarter than me people many years ago.  The means of installing and configuring “Word Press” is certainly well documented.  There are probably tons on You Tube instructional videos one could follow.   But alas for my tired old brain cells I will just call my tech support person and hang and ask them to do it for me … I am now too tech intimidated and tech tired to do things myself.  My last claim to techno-hood probably ended when it was a useful skill to be able to program a VCR to record a TV. [How many of you out there remember what a VCR is?]

Recently I’ve been finding that when it comes to putting up a website, you can certainly put one up and walk away, but if you don’t bother to ever check on it say at least once a year don’t be surprised if it stops working either from the company hosting your website making a mistake or hackers vandalizing your website. My websites get attacked rather regularly by automated programs trying to guess my username and passwords. My websites also always get hit by a flood of SPAM comments trying to sell stuff on my websites or possibly to overload my websites.

Recently one of my websites seemed to be in bad enough shape that it took me several days with tech support to have them rebuild one of my websites from scratch.  I had thought hackers had successfully managed to completely corrupt one of my websites causing me to lose all my entries forever!  I breathed a bit of a sight of relief when tech support finally recovered my website from a back up file.

All this effort so that I can put up a blog, my online journal, so that I can share my thoughts with others —  I’m starting to think blogging is an impractical idea unless you’re it’s just a momentary writing fling not intended to last more than a year or two.   I’m starting to think if one really wants to journal your thoughts and want them to hang around for a long time maybe a blog on the internet is took risky. Maybe I should just stick to editing and saving my thoughts locally on my computer with a word processor.  Or even better maybe I should go back to using a notebook and pencil.

Oh, excuse me I see an image of me grabbing my cane and rising out of my rickety rocking chair.  Pardon me while I retire  my old and tired bones.  I can’t deal much with these new fangled computer techy gadgety things.  Just give me a place to lie down and soak in the Sun, listen to a breeze wafting over a meadow, feel the sand on a beach scrunched in my toes.  Just leave me here like a beached whale (yes I’ve gotten larger) on the shore, in the sunlight, to waste away in peace like the obsolete dinosaur, the tired middle aged  man that I am.


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The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth


So last night I retired to my bedroom on the 2nd floor.  I went to bed unusually early and within a couple of minutes my dog climbed the steps and popped her head in the bedroom and followed me in.  And then she lied there nearby.  I was a bit touched that she wanted to spend time with me rather than watching the TV that was on downstairs. ….

Then in the morning I struggled to wake up early … It was around 5 AM I was really tired. When I get to the bottom of the stairs I notice that my dog’s up, bright eyes and eager for me to take her out for a short walk.  My dog does here business on the lawn. It’s just before 7AM and I’m ready to get back inside the house but my dog refuses to budge but instead decides to stand on the lawn and watch some birds, a squirrel, and the sunlight glimmering along the dew covered grass.  And then I slow down and marvel at how beautiful it is outside. I feel a slight euphoria, it really is so beautiful and peaceful.  It’s nice to see the sun so bright this early.

I get back inside the house and it’s a little after 7 AM and I’m still really beat.  I didn’t get a really could deep sleep probably because I’ve been drinking too much coffee to stay up at work.  I go thru the zombie motions of packing some food and drink that I’ll take to work and I look to my left and there is my dog standing there and watching me intently with eyes that seem to say “I’ll stand by you Daddy … I see you”.  I mean it’s a look she’s given to me probably like any dog faithful to her “master(s)”.

But this time I’m in awe of this dog.  She stands there and does nothing and just that act while I’m exhausted early in the morning totally floors me.  I mean she could have gone straight upstairs to her comfy bed and go back to sleep, yet she’s just standing there.  Yes I’m grateful to her, but truly I was in awe and felt this urge drop to my knees and bow before my dog.

I think who does this?  Who is so unconditional?  Who is just so consistently and authentically herself no matter what and so fully present?  All from this tiny little creature who is so dependent upon us for food and drink and frequently does things we don’t want her do in front of us without caring too much what we think. And I feel in this moment she is vastly greater than me for simply just being there.

So for this precious moment I started to gather this appreciation of the emotion of biblical parables of how “the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first”  how the strong are the weak and the weak are the strong and start to feel the need to drop to my knees and bow before a meek but immensely loving being.  Truly I feel how “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth” not so much that the meek will “conquer” the earth but the inevitable truth, gentleness, patience and caring of who they are will eventually make all bow before them.

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Feeling my Mortality


I am having difficulty lately.  Or maybe I’m more capable than ever as an ever maturing adult but as a result I am somehow also just feeling  more.  I definitely have a sense of many layers of feelings, too much to process, much of it lately having to do with realizing that things seem to changing too fast for me.  It’s kind of mind boggling how much can change in 10 years – at least for me.  Or another way to put it, it’s kind of amazing that 10 years is no longer that long.

I look for reference points of what I see with my eyes and hear with my ears. My mother has been gone for over 10 years. My grandfather died in his 50’s.  Then one of my uncles and my Mom had severe strokes in their 50’s. My mother ultimately died around the age of 60. I’m turning 48 years of age this year.  The 50’s are getting really close.

And so this is a bit of a specter looming over me.  I believe I’m in better shape than my grandfather was, but if I wasn’t then genetics would suggest something like a fatal heart attack within 5 years was in the cards for me.  I thought about the fact that retirement age is typically 65 years of age and the possibility that I might not live to see retirement – and I start to feel sad.

I witness faces of entertainers and personalities in television, the movies and news.  They have either passed away or aged a lot over the past 10 years.  These are the faces that were the “wall paper” in my little shell that defined what my world was like.  I witness faces in my workplace that have moved to other jobs, have teen aged kids, and are noticeably aged. Oddly, when I look in the mirror I still feel like I am the same as I was some 20 years ago. But, a glance back to photos of me some 20 years ago shows that it is not the case – that I too have aged.

I witness how my little dog, who I’ve always viewed as a cute little puppy, is now a 13 year old “puppy”. In dog years she’s supposedly 91 years old. In 5 years she’s not likely to be alive. I’m awakening to the fact that a perception of my life and world that I had gotten comfortable with is steadily dying away and being replaced by fresh and younger “kids” that seem to act out the spots I used to be in.  I look at what those that are younger than me are doing and for a moment I could see myself doing those same things I did many years ago – but realize that if I ever did that it would feel sort of fake and empty as all familiar faces that interacted with me in the past have all moved on to the next stage of reality.

The only thing I can hold on to, indeed it’s the one thing I hold even tighter to is this feeling of internal love.  As time progresses I will as the Invictus poem describes: “be the master of my fate and captain of my soul” and I’d add furthermore that only I can be my master and captain, no one else can, no matter how much I might want them to be.  My parents will no longer be alive physically to provide that “home” I could run back to when things go wrong. My peers will no longer provide that reference of who I think I should be or look like.  And many acquaintances, dear friends and loved ones won’t be able to fill my daily quota for love. Because in the end the external love I thought I was kind of getting from others in the form of approval was really just me not believing that my love towards myself was worth as much.  But in the end I’m starting to feel and recognize the love of myself and see that self-love starting to be reflected back in my relationships and spirit.

Aside from my general and possibly increasing discomfort with life, the one thing that is definitely true is that I feel much more appreciative and grateful of the present. I’m more likely to want to let go of things I may have once demanded and accept things for how they are.  I’m more likely to savor and drink in every last second of the miracle of the sunlight.  I’m much more able to not want to be “special” or “better”. I’m more willing to exist in an aging body and just be “ordinary”

Whereas I might have compared myself to others and thought … “Oh boy that person really doesn’t get it”  or “I feel better than that person or “Wow, do they have major issues to work on!”  Now I am more often able to be in a place to just recognize that we are each on our own unique journey and there is no comparison and there is no “more mature”, “more enlightened”, “better”, or “smarter.”  There is just me and my journey and lots of other beautiful people on their journey who are probably in fact just another part of my personality interacting back with me. And so to build upon the Invictus poem, not only am I my master and captain, but I’m also but a humble passenger in this grand experience called life.

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Blogging is Becoming Really Technically Challenging for Me!

So I’ve been blogging now for nearly 4 years and the internet is getting more complicated.  I mean you can not simply put up a website / blog and walk away and hope that it stays up on it’s own for that amount of time.  I pay for hosting service for my blogs and what I had noticed is that the price for hosting steadily crept up.  Much of the time I was too busy with other things to pay attention and sort of just paid what I was being billed.  My latest host seemed to intentionally rachet up my price because they seemed to want to get rid of me as a customer.

They said I was putting too much load on their servers.  Since I first started with this hosting service they increased my price by 5 times!  What were they talking about “too much load?”!  I mean I type a blog entry at most once a month, I’m not selling anything, and few readers actually make comments.  When I asked them about their claim my websites were creating too much load, I got total silence except for an occasional email with words to the effect of “Dear Wilson we understand that you may not want to pay our high price tag so we wish you well … oh by the way let us know when we can take down your websites” — feels sort of passive-agressive customer service.

So I had a bit of lesson in boundaries.  If I was wealthier I’d probably pay their high price tag and “beg” they keep me since I was quite scared about the effort to move 4 year old websites to another host.  Instead I took a deep breath and slowly started reading tutorials about moving blogging websites and shopped for a new host. Too make a long story short … I managed to find a host that was 1/5 th the cost of the previous host and furthermore provided great service.  In fact they moved my websites for me!  But you know the previous host used to be 1/5th the cost and provided great service?

So the overall effort to conduct the website move was NOT TRIVIAL.  I probably invested a good 10 hours spread out over several weekends and felt like I had to make use of some of the best of my technical abilities having worked as a computer programmer for well over 20 years to orchestrate the move.  Now I have to admit some of this blogging that has become so technically hard might just be do to my age.  I mean I used to be a heavy duty computer geek, but for at least the past few years I’ve fallen out of touch with computer programming and my energy level is not as high as it was in my late teens and early twenties — part of the “tired middle aged man” thing.

So on November 1st, I celebrated a successful move of the old host to my new hosting service.  Whoopee!  Then in one day I’m surprised my hosting service partially disables my websites with a message that it been under internet attack.  So a light bulk went in my head.  This attack of my websites is probably the “heavy load” that my former hosting service was complaining about.

So my new hosting provider sent me instructions on technical things I needed to do to beef up security in order to stop these attacks and then allow them to stop disabling my websites.  These were things that looked technically cryptic and scary.  I mean if I did them wrong I could knock out my websites for a long time and if I didn’t do them my hosting service would continue to have to partially disable my blogs.

So once again I spent several hours watching training videos and doing some reading.  And now my websites are more secure but in the process I sort of learned that I had about 4000 people subscribing to my http://www.touchthesource.com  blog.  And unfortunately I think I may have deleted all of them as well in my effort to increase security — oops.  But then again I’m not sure if it was really an oops, because some of what I read suggests that it’s not a good idea to have so many subscribers.  But I’m not really sure … I’d probably have to spend some time doing research on that.

There’s the fact of “self esteem” that I have to admit gets a boost when I think about several thousand subscribers that I used to have and have now deleted — sigh.  In a way it’s like having several thousand friends on Facebook.  It makes me feel popular.  But then again many of those thousand subscribers might not be actual humans but computer programs intent on causing harm.  So I’m conflicted with personal emotions getting mixed in with an increasingly technically complex things one needs to due to keep a website up successfully in the midst of a lot of internet attacks on websites.

I just want to blog.  I just want to to share my thoughts and experiences as a middle aged man.  I’m just typing words — nothing fancy or sophisticated.  I’m just want others to be able to read those simple words I type, nothing more.  But this simple act seems to be getting more and more complicated even if I do nothing.

Does anybody else out there blog and I’m curious what do you think?  Is blogging getting easier or harder?

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What’s the Maximum Sleep Debt Possible?

So during the past few months as I’ve pushed the hours I stay awake I’ve started feeling a bit like a zhombie during the day .  I’d drink increasing amounts of coffee to help counteract sleepiness.  However, using coffee has only worked well for temporary boosts of concentration and alertness for a single day, but it has had a downside of giving me less restful sleeps.  So then I’m more likely to wake up in the morning feeling tired. It gets compounded by the fact that I often try to use coffee to wake up even earlier.  The end result is I’ve generally always get less sleep than I’d like.

But lately the coffee seems less and less effective.  I’ve been feeling a different kind of burnt out than I’ve experienced before.  I’ve definitely been neglecting my body.  This is what science would call sleep debt.  I came across an article that suggested that many people in America are regularly accumulating sleep debt as a result of working increasing hours.

So during the past week I’ve been making a conscious effort to reclaim what I believe is my sleep debt.  But what I’ve found is that one good night of sleep is not enough to eliminate my sleep debt.  In fact a whole weekend of sleeping late, napping during the day, and going to bed early doesn’t seem like it’s enough.  In my effort to allow myself to sleep more, I’ve been a bit disturbed at the fact there seems to be no limit to how long I can sleep.

About 10 years ago I remember one of my former supervisors describing how  his vacation was going during the Christmas holidays.  He described this as his first vacation where his kids had all moved away, and he had nothing much to do.  He found himself getting bored and replacing that boredom with a little extra sleep.  And that little extra sleep turned into endless sleep.  He was sort of glad his vacation was over to take him away from this endless sleep.  His conclusion is that if he ever retired from work, he be concerned he could easily sleep his life away.

So I started to wonder if there is any limit to sleep debt.  I mean lets say you routinely sleep one hour less than you need a day every single day.  That would kind of mean that in about one month of this kind of sleep neglect you’d accumulate more than 24 hours of sleep debt.  If sleep debt really worked this way then you’d kind of need to find a way to sleep for 24 hours solid to eliminate that sleep debt.  But say you never find that extra time and you also continue to neglect yourself one hour of sleep every day.  Could you accumulate several years of sleep debt?

If you’d accumulate several years of sleep debt, then it would seem you’d fall into the category of perpetual zhombie.  I mean what does it look like when you let your boss  know that you are taking several years time off and by the way also let friends and family that you will not be leaving the house or bedroom much for several years.  In reality it would probably look more like “nervous breakdown” going into a “catatonic” state or some other form of physical or mental disorder that would require some form of supervised care.  What if you lived long enough accumulating sleep debt so that you have more sleep debt than the remaining years of your life; what happens?  Do you die then?  Do you go into a coma?

There are some theories that prolonged accumulation of sleep debt is how Alzhiemers manifests.

I did some quick math to see how much sleep debt one could accumulate over many years of life.  According to the math, if I cut my self short of one hour of sleep per day every day for 10 years straight, I’d accumulate 5 months of sleep debt.  Hmmm?  That kind of starts to agree with how I’ve been feeling.  I’ve probably been doing something like that for 10 or more years in my life.  So yes it’s rather challenging to figure out how to plan to get back 5 months of sleep.  If I decided to crash out on weekends and put in an extra 16 hours of sleep per weekend, it would take me over 4 years of doing this to recover 5 months of sleep debt!

I wonder how much sleep debt is related to one’s biological or perceived age.  If I somehow managed to lose 5 months of sleep this year, would I look about 10 years older?  Would someone say “Man, Wilson you look like you haven’t slept for 5 months!” or “Man, Wilson you looked like you aged 10 years!”  ?



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Fear Temporarily Suspended by Compassion


So I drove back into my garage today and noticed one of our bug glue traps was just outside the garage.  I actually had seen that trap there yesterday but was too lazy to but it back.  I parked the car and got out intending to place that trap back inside the garage, when I was stunned to see a snake hanging out of the glue trap.  I immediately tensed up in defense.

I carefully thought about what I would do.  I could just pretend it’s not there and close the garage door and let it slide away.  But wait.  It was directly in the path of the garage door. If I closed it, it might squash the snake.  OK.  I’m a bit squeamish about having a half squashed snake at the front of my garage.  Not to mention the guilt for knowingly killing him. So I thought more.  … I grabbed a special long reach grabbing tool and then prepared to scare or fend the snake out of the garage area then just close the garage door.

And as I approached the snake stretched out away from me and stood still.  He was trying to get away.  Then I realized he was stuck by the glue inside the bug trap. And then I suddenly felt sorry for the snake.  He wasn’t too big, maybe about a foot long.  I picked up the trap with the grabber tool with the snake writhing away, trying so desparately to get away.  I looked inside the trap and saw a good part of him was stuck all over, along with a bunch of dead bugs.   Oh man … he’s really stuck.

I thought more.  I ran inside, grabbed scissors and some leather gloves.  I picked up one end of the trap and asked the snake: “please don’t bite me”.  My plan was to cut enough of the trap away from his body so that he could at least crawl away.  I mean when I placed the snake in the grass, he could almost pull the entire trap with him.  But he was mostly stuck and would certainly die if left him that way.  So I started to cut, hands inches from his body, being careful not to harm his body with the scissors.  But then the scissors started getting stuck in the glue and then each cut started to cause the trap to flail around slightly and also flail the snake around back at me … ahhh!

Oh boy.  What a predicament.  I looked inside the trap and his body was even more wound up.  It looked real bad.  Then I thought briefly that I’d just carry the entire trap with snake into some remote bush and leave him there to perish.  But I couldn’t.

I looked at the print on the outer part of the bug trap and it described all the bugs it would trap, as well as small mice and snakes.  Then a brief critical voice blamed me for not putting trap away the day before. If I had done this the snake wouldn’t be here and now I’m faced with having to knowingly put a snake to a slow eventual death.  Another voice says this is nature and if you were smaller and the snake larger, he’d have no problem killing you.  Besides out on his own he’d always be at risk of being eaten by a large bird or run over  by a car.

I was turmoiled.  The snake actually started to look a bit cute. He was definitely terrified.  So I thought if there was some way to maybe dissolve the glue.  I read the directions on the outside of another bug trap and saw a paragraph on “human release”. The directions mentioned using vegetable or mineral oil and then using your hands to loosen the animal off the glue — WHAT!! I thought.  YOU WANT ME TO PEEL A TERRIFIED SNAKE with my fingers off very sticky glue!!  I could just see me starting to peel away snake skin from glue.  That’s got to hurt for the snake so that snakes going to lash all over me — This was not going to work.

I ran back inside and found a bottle of mineral oil and started pouring some over the snakes body where he was stuck to the glue.  There was no way I was going to get my fingers on his body, but I was hoping maybe the mineral oil would possibly dissolve the glue.  So the snake was covered in oil, writhing and still stuck. I then noticed his skin seemed to be getting slightly looser.

So I picked up the trap with writhing snake with my grabber tool.  I walked over to a remote bush area, oil dripping off the head of the snake.  I placed him on the ground and immediately the snake started pulling with all his strength towards the nearest tree.  He dragged the trap with him, started crawling up a tree with more of his body free.  He actually was getting loose and was almost completely free, except for one tiny area that I didn’t put oil on,

I thought briefly if I should bend down and put in more oil … but I waited because I could see he was very mobile and capable of striking me hard … So I silently prayed and cheered on the snake.  “Go go go … pull harder … pull harder”

And then he was free!!


He went up the tree slightly.  Then he dropped down and moved so fast along the grass away from me.  He was runningly so magnificently away from me into safety… Yeah.  I felt so happy for him.  But probably more for me as I didn’t have live with having killed a snake, I over rode a fear and I treasured life.

I thought more that this was also a creature that might prey on small birds and maybe someday scare or bite a small loved pet or human.  Oh well.  “The circle of Life” I thought to myself.  I don’t have much wisdom but much confusion and conflict.

I am content to have for about 20 minutes of my time offer great love and compassion to a creature I will likely never see again and no one else will ever have witnessed or known.  Oh well I better get ready to mow the lawn.

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Facing the Inner Conflict with Violence in Entertainment


Since child hood I have been very big into watching movies.  I was a sucker for blockbuster action movies and still there is something about a movie that goes “KA-BOOM … POW ….  BAM!!!” that tickles the male part of me.  But lately I’m more conscious of a desire to avoid the block buster movies if I know or sense that it’s going to be violent.

Some say that such movies is like eating junk food.  But actually junk food doesn’t bother me.  Something else about violent movies bothers me.   It’s probably the trend I see with the need for movies to give that extra bit of punch or shock factor and “go over the top.”  It really bothers me when shocking violence is mixed with comedy (example: Inglorious Bastards).  So while I had mild curiosity when I heard about the movie Hangover 3, I felt a strong “NO” voice speak up inside me after I saw previews of decapitation of a pet giraffe being turned into shock humor. I don’t think I want to train myself into making that funny.

I have memories watching this very violent movie “The Town” back in 2010.  It centered around a group of bank robbers, but gave it a very gritty mix of bitter anger and brutality. The bitterness and violence felt quick shocking to me, but it turned out the audience was a bit on the wild and raunchy.  So their was laughter emerging in response to killing.  And that bothered me.

Dahleen Glanton from the Chicago Tribune posted an article about why people may laugh in serious movies.  She initially is disturbed that our society is just becoming insensitive to violence.  But finally Dahleen tries to leave us some assurance that people laughing at violence are just nervous reaction to something that is overwhelming.  Honestly back in when I was watching “The Town” my sense is that the audience was not expressing mere nervous reaction.  To me it really felt like an act of densitization at work.

I remember when I was in my early teens and I could definitely feel the need to act and look tough.  There was something cool and attractive about being a bit rebellious, and “bad”  In being popular with others having that element of “Bad” made you kind of the “in group” and being “Good” made you part of the “uncool-nerdie” group.  So in trying to be “in” you may decide not to get caught behaving scared or horrified by terrifying violence.  No instead show your toughness by laughing copiously in the face of terrifying violence, especially if it’s just a movie.  At first it sounds like harmless pretending.

But I believe that very act to pretend to be tough in a way actually does make our skin a bit thicker.  And somehow it seems much of society respects “tough skin”.   We akin toughness to being straight forward and honest.  And maybe sensitivity to being evasive and complicated.  I mean what could be a more straight forward conversation than:

person 1:  I will kill you!

person 2: Ha!  No you won’t, because I will kill you!

It’s straight forward and believable.  And even if one of the persons doesn’t want to really kill the other they’re kind of locked into fear of life to consider having to kill the other.  And so if one “accidentally” kills the other, it’s kind of OK in a distorted way because in the literal show of words there was no lying.  In the aggressive conversation we have all put on our “thick skins” bracing ourselves to minimize feelings.  It’s like a statement I heard in one of the “God Father” movies when a hit man says to his victim just before he kills him … “Nothing personal … Just business”

Now compare the aggressive conversation to a conversation like:

person 1: I like you a lot.  I would never hurt anyone.

person 2: Oh I really like you too, and I would do anything for you.

That sounds like a one-to-one relationship conversation filled with vulnerability to making mistakes, disappointment, looking like a fool, possible betrayals, and having strong feelings.

Before I ramble too off the topic, my point is that I really believe there really is a kind of “evil” being fostered in this world and but it’s not the simple “good versus bad” kind of evil but rather the “numbing and desensitization” kind of evil. To have feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, is to L-I-V-E but to consistently numb feelings is to un L-I-V-E   It’s interesting to note that L-I-V-E spelled backwards is E-V-I-L.  Because once you start numbing you not only numb out discomfort, but start numbing out simple pleasures.  And so then you have to seek something more shocking so that you can start feeling.  You have “thicker skin” and so in order to feel you need an event to have a bit more amplified shock and drama factor.  And then once you feel the shock you will likely numb it out, even maybe laugh at it, so that possibly when violence (verbal or physical) hits closer to home you’ll be ready to handle it, with a mature thick skin.

I recall some years ago visiting a friend who came back from military duty in Iraq.  He was playing a military combat game with another friend who was on leave after he himself was wounded in Yemen.  It sort of blew my mind how so enthusiastic and intrigued two soldiers traumatized by real life violence seemed to be relaxing the hours away killing virtual people with guns on a their Xbox video game.  But you know most block buster video games are about killing (as of June 28th 2013 the #2, #3, #4, #6, #7, #8, #10, #12, #13, and #14 best selling games on the Xbox were military combat games)

It’s a bit more chilling when you think that modern military combat is now occurring with drone aircraft warfare.  Now military pilots can work a domestic kind of job, driving to an office in the morning, combating remotely with real humans on the other side of the world with drone aircraft controlled by video screen and joystick (actually probably something more advanced than a joystick), and returning home in the evening to enjoy dinner with the family.  A bit not too different then those two soldiers playing on their X box.

And I’ve heard many times the debate on whether violence in entertainment be it a video game or a movie can promote real life violence.  Many say the violence we see in our entertainment is only a reflection of our real world violence, that it’s really only a mechanism for us to stop living a fantasy “Cinderalla” world and toughen up to the realities of a tough world.  But I say even if I were to accept that the very idea that violent reality inspires violent entertainment and not the other way around I find the idea of “toughening up” disturbing.  Toughening makes us numb.  And then numbness promotes the acceptance of shock and even the need for shock just so that we can feel something thru thicker adult skins. So for me I have strong value in things that promote sensitivity, love, and even naivate.

So I’m now starting to look for source of entertainment that promotes emotional sensitivity and trying  to stay away from things that encourage numbing.  For me movies like “Up”, “Despicable Me” and “Les Miserable” are more up my ally.  And it’s not just in choice of movies but also choice of any video game (I like this game called “Sprinkle” on my iPhone) and TV shows (Sponge Bob, Duck Dynasty).

But I’m still conflicted with the male voice of toughness. A little part of me for some reason likes the machismo of something like the movie “Fast and Furious” with lots of “Zoom Zoom and Kaboom”.  But a lot of me sides with the lyrics to a song by Jewel: “Please be Gentle with me.  I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way” stick with me.

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This World is Getting too Advanced or I’m Getting too Old and Feeble

So recently one of my worst fears finally happened an early morning business meeting I was hosting totally flopped.  I mean I was ready and able to host the meeting except there was a combination of technical and human brain failure.  Everyone was there but I was no where to be found.

In modern corporate life meetings are often done over the phone, by way of a teleconference service.  Come to think of it even spiritual schools such as the Barbara Brennan School of Healing have hosted meditations over teleconference services. So I guess I shouldn’t even single out the modern corporate life.  Teleconferences may very well be mainstream normal middle America.

But I wanted to take a moment to pause and express my feelings that something has gotten too advanced and complicated for this once “on top of the world” techno geek.  Hmm.  I hear a song in head playing to a familiar Beatles song:

” … Yesterday, technology was such an easy game to play

… Now I need a place to hide away ..

Oh I believe in Yesterday”

So recently I was taking advantage of the fact that thru the wonderful power of my teleconferencing services on my laptop I could host a really early morning meeting from my home allowing me more time to rest up after a really late night meeting at work.  And 10 minutes prior to my meeting, the unthinkable happened my laptop computer was missing! I was so tired the prior day at work I totally forgot to bring my computer home.

Fortunately thru the miracles of modern technology I have an iPhone that can also host my teleconferences.  Saved by technology … At least I thought.  The AT&T iPhone App I was using complained that since I hadn’t used in recently it was going to require me to login again.  Hugh?!?  Login?  I’ve never had to login?!  I remember some months ago preparing this App with the  proper password so it wouldn’t require me to login, just like it works on my laptop.

So now I then I went to my password wallet App which has listing of the passwords of all the different accounts I have.  Fortunately, I still remember the password to the password wallet App.  I find the proper password in my password wallet, but the passwords don’t work!  In fact it seems like the teleconference app itself has change and been updated that it looks and works so different … so nothing works and I’m lost.  I get so flustered and now I’m feeling so embarrassed that I invited people to a meeting held over the phone early in the morning some of whom might have gotten out of bed early just because of my meeting!!

So I finally give up and manage to start sending emails out from my iPhone.  Normally the email on my iPhone will automatically start remember email addresses if I type the first few letters, but not this time.  So I have to search for old emails that I received from each person I invited and start replying back to them with apologies.  I think they all reply it’s OK, but part of me feels really bad.

I mean if I could prepare more I guess I should have had a special card in my wallet with the special phone numbers, and host password that I could have manually dialed my teleconference number and password.  But of course I remember times that even when I had everything I might still have to contact technical support to do things like fix a technical snafu on their end that even gave them a challenge to correct. I’m just saying no matter how much I try to get my technical things all squared away and set so that it is easy for me to use, inevitably the software, the service is going to be upgraded and updated and unless I constantly use the stuff and keep my brain trained and updated on the newer way of using the software or remembering my usernames or passwords the technology is eventually going to fail on me.

And I as I return to the present I even think about this blog entry I’m writing.  And you know I’m starting to feel like this technologically is hard stuff. I mean it’s cool that with “advanced” technology I can more easily share my thoughts with multiple people and I can do so from any computer that has an internet connection.  … As long as my brain can remember my password though.  But then I have to prepare myself to update the blog software so that it can still work with services such as Facebook, and each time I do an update something could go wrong and then I have to take time to debug, which inevitably involves me being able to remember another password .. Ahh.

So yes this stuff is sort of complicated, but at the same time I sort of believe that if I was back to being a teenager or even early twenties I’d be a techno geek on top of all this stuff.  So I think part of this sensation that technology is getting too sophisticated is maybe I’m getting old and my brain cells are dying.  I’m taking my part to enter the ranks of old senile geezer … Fortunately I’m not talking your ear off with “You know when I was a kid I used to …”  Or maybe the fact I’m writing a lot in this blog is actually  me talking your ear off with useless rants.

A long time ago I thought I thought I was pretty techno smart stuff because I could program and hook up any ones’s VCR (Video Tape Recorder ) and I could figure out how to work any digital watch. Now I’m a bit frustrated with figuring out how to enjoy TV with hundreds of channels and internet features and multiple remotes for my HDTV flat screen TV.  It’s kind of neat I’ve been able to get my iPhone hooked up so that I can see TV listings, touch something and my TV goes straight to that listing, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work, sometimes because I need to remember a username and password that I don’t remember having to use.  And sometimes it’s hard to see the tiny print on my iPhone screen — I think I need reading glasses.

Now a days when I go to a meeting at my work place I leave my computer behind and just bring a paper notebook and pen. My notebook doesn’t need to recharge it’s battery, it doesn’t freeze up or reboot unexpectedly, and it doesn’t need a ton of stinking passwords that I need to remember.  I kind of like that.



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Is it Really Possible to have Enough?

A couple years ago I contemplated my future financial situation.  I was living in an apartment for many years and had steady income from a corporate job for well over 20 years straight.  Back in 2010 I was forced to think about long term unemployment.  What I realized in 2010 was that I had no debt and that I could literally have survived off of my 401K retirement savings for many years without a job.  That was my first appreciation of the idea of living in a “retired” state.  So for just a bit it almost seemed I could almost “have it made” by being layed-off and then just living live day-to-day without worries of deadlines or having to lose lots of sleep staying up late at night or getting up really early in the morning.  I almost seemed to “have it made.”  I almost seemed to have enough.  Except …

 … for the fact that it was getting really cramped in space.  I had been living in apartments for around 15 year.  In the apartments I found it hard many times to get into a state of expansiveness, exploration and creativity as every table top or desk surface seemed to be covered with papers, books, boxes, computers or appliances of some sort.  I longed for a room with that empty space that I could just sprawl out completely on the floor and flail my hands and legs freely without bumping into anything. 

Fast forward to today and I now live in my first house.  I love how our house manages to come across as modest-middle-classed sized yet has been renovated to feel spacious.  I now can find rooms where I can sprawl on the floor and swing my limbs freely.  I now have enough space.  And its a house that is right-sized for my income level.  However, unlike my former apartment,  it’s no longer the situation that if I lost my job that I could keep up the monthly payments for years.  In my prior cramped apartment I felt more financial security but with a shortage of everyday space and quality of life.  Now in my roomier house I am now satisfied with the everyday space and quality of life, but am starting to feel some financial insecurity.

You see when I leave my job, either by choice or being layed-off I really need to have my house paid off.  But, it seems that now in order to consider paying off my house I will need to continue working for another 20 years!  Sigh.  I’m back to my state of not having enough. 

Now my mantra is “if I could only pay off my house” then I’ll be set.  Then I could afford to leave my corporate job and only be making monthly payments for property tax and utilities.  I’d be set.  If all that could occur then I’d have enough. 

That there’s a part of me that’s wise enough to know that such a statement is often short lived.  Most of humanity has made the “If only …. then I’d be satisfied” only to get what they wanted and then discover they still want something more.

But I’m different, I’m very spiritual. I’m enlightened. I’m evolved. Right?  … I’ve gone to several spiritual retreats.  I’ve been going to the Barbara Brennan School of Healing (BBSH). I am an older and wiser man that’s been thru hell and back more than once.  This time it’s different.  I do not really need more income.  I have been very satisified with my income level.  My ideal state would simply to stay at the same income level but just work fewer and fewer hours.  That’s all. I ask for no more. 

It’s just that I observe how fickle my emotions are.  Just yesterday I had a wonderful start of the day with a short run, followed by meditation in sun light of one of the empty rooms in my house.  I felt full.  One of my computers then failed on me and then I’m thrown off a bit. And that thrown off state kind of grew thru the evening.  And then this morning I lose that momentum and sort of felt like calling in sick and staying in bed.  I then pushed myself out of bed started my run, felt terrible in the beginning and noticeably better at the end of my run.  I must accept that a large variety of emotions throughout the course of a day is part of being human.

So with a large variety of emotions that can occur within just a couple of days, who can say where my emotions will be in several years an how that can influence things being enough.  Can I really say that if 20 years were to come and I manage to pay off my house and maybe qualify for full retirement I won’t say something like: “I wish I had a bigger house”  “I wish I had more land” “I wish I made more money … even if I have to work more hours”  I’m not saying that’s where I’m going .  But what I am saying is that so many people go that way.  Whose to say I’ll be any different?

But I’ll just leave it that I hope to achieve the state of “I have Enough” now and as many nows to follow afterwards.

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Preparing for my Mac to go away

So for over twenty years I had been using a Macintosh in a corporate work environment.  Back in the mid 1990’s those of us who worked in the corporate work place we got used to the idea that the Macintosh was a rogue computer that our IT department was trying hard to wipe out. So maybe back then I was younger and had more energy to be a little bit of a rebel using a Mac in a growing sea of Dell laptop computers running Microsoft Windows.  But it seems so many things have changed in this world. Least of all is the fact that after I’m probably going to give up the fight and allow my Mac to be taken away and conform … sigh … to become another Windows computer user.  My Mac and it’s great features including a pair of super large 30 inch monitors will be shoved aside by something much smaller and more appropriate for someone conforming to the standard appropriate behavior.  Suddenly something that used to give me a bit of pleasure will be no more.

But as I slightly mourn this transition, I also wonder if the true mourning is not so much that my Mac is going away but that I’m not even wanting to put up a fight for it any more.  I have some good sound arguments for it.  But you know I’m so so so busy at work managing projects that I don’t have time to fight.  It’s just so much more stressful not sticking out like a sore thumb, just conforming and fitting in.

In fact maybe to some extent I don’t really care that much about computers.  Maybe all I really want to do is take a really long time off and rest my tiredness away.

I wonder is aging the number of years that my body has aged.  Or is it the degree that people and the rest of the world around me has changed?  The adult idols in my life are passing on.  My Mom has been gone for over 10 years.  Some of my school mates have kids who have kids.  Many new employees in my workplace are young enough to be my child.  And they seem to be so bright, enthusiastic, creative and having fun.  I’m somehow jealous of them.  Because I’m not quite sure how to be like them.  Because in a way it feels no longerappropriate to be bright, enthusiastic and creative with my age and responsibility.

I recently moved into a house for the first time in over 20 years.  Owning a house is so so neat compared to renting an apartment.  Then the other day I had to ask a bunch of school kids to not jump all over my front yard.  I started to wonder if I was now going to become just another “Mean old crabby Mr. Wilson” to a bunch of  bright and energetic “Dennis the Menaces” .

Or maybe it’s really the energy of the year 2012 that it really is a key turning point as many may say.  Is 2012 the end of the world, or is just the pinnacle of the end of the world as we know it, rapidly changing into a new world.  If so, I feel like maybe this change is becoming so rapid that this tired old overweight body can’t keep up.

My anthem song to this transition is below:


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I miss being Ten

This morning I took my dog out for the usual walk just before getting ready to drive off to work.  The temperature was moderate, it had just stopped raining and was overcast.  It was a quiet Monday morning on the road next to a wooded area. And when I listened to the insects ringing I was suddenly taken back to when I was maybe ten years old.  And this wooded area was now an unexplored wonder filled with yet unknown wild life and wonders.  It was at that moment I wanted so badly to just cancel the day and the many days afterwards and just explore the woods.  Maybe I could survey the creek I knew was there. Maybe, I could build a stone bridge, look for fish, or consider my option for building a small hideout.

I have been reading the biography on Steve Jobs and am finding that despite the fact that he had a reputation for being very nasty and insensitive, he was something so precious to witness his humanity.   The part that had me in tears was when Steve recounts his 20th wedding anniversary writing a small note to his wife.  Steve reads the note to the author of the biography and starts crying uncontrollably.  The final quarter of the book was a witness to a very driven human surveying his life, his children, wife, close friends and close rivals.  Steve talks about his son, Reed, who physically looks like him when he was in his 20’s.  Steve is proud of his son who is showing the early signs of maybe becoming a future cancer researcher.  The final pages have him in a wheel chair reading a note to the board of directors announcing his resignation and essentially saying goodbye.  Some board members are in tears.  Then they all huddle around him to give him a fairwell hug.  I start to tear again as I visualized this scene.   Not long after Steve’s resignation Apple announced Steve Jobs had passed away from cancer.

I then hear about two more deaths of icons from my childhood.  Two singers from the 70’s disco era: Donna Summers and then Robin Gibb (died of cancer) passed away over the week.  And it’s wierd to witness the modern day draw that the Beatles still have, to see photos of them in their 20’s on album covers, and then to know that only one person: Paul McCartney is left.  Yet just last year I watched Paul perform live at the White House and he sounded just as vibrant and fresh as when he was some 40 – 50 years younger.

Then on the other end of the age spectrum, going from people passing away to people emerging, I hear that another emerging icon in the news, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook just got married.  He is in his twenties, emerging as an icon, much like the Beatles, Steve Jobs, Donna Summers, the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and so many others who were placeholders of people I learned to admire or dream of emulating when I was some 20 or more odd years younger.  Only now I’m in my 40’s and I’m feeling too tired to admire him.  I’d be much more interested in anyone who was planning on exploring this “exotic” patch of wooded area next to my apartment.  Anyone interested in building a tree house, and forming an secret club — no grown ups allowed, OK?

So I feel like I’m at the cross roads of time, having a sense of how very short a lifetime is.  It almost seems that it’s not very long for a infant to grow up, mature, become independent, maybe have kids of his/her own, try to achieve dreams and then prepare for leaving this Earth.  More and more I can see the wonderful little boy and girl faces within larger shells of 50 to 70 year old adults.  And then I’m amazed when I see marvelous adult men in little boys faces, and the beautiful adult woman in the faces of little girls.

A mature adult at the end of his journey is still capable of dropping back into youthful immaturity.  A young child may awaken a inner wisdom that belies his age by many many years.  So in this strange cross road I would no longer be surprised to witness a precociouis 10 year old impart wisdom upon a struggling 60 year old adult. For somehow I can see more clearly how we are so much the same, in wisdom and knowing, regardless of our age.

I shift focus back to my electronic gadgets.  I hold my once highly prized iPhone.  It’s now so ubiquitous of a device that it’s passee.  I almost want to seek the next new thing, but it doesn’t seem like there is going to be one.  But even more, I’m really getting disillusioned and tired with cool electronic gadgets.  Thanks to the marvelous vision of Steve Jobs I have a device that allows me to quickly look up things on the internet anywhere and anytime. I can even talk to my iPhone and it will do the search for me.  It’s the kind of convenience and control so many modern life consumers, like myself, have always wanted.

But in my crossroads I think I’m tired of being consumer of ever more meaningless gadgets that have lost their thrill.  As I finish my walk with my dog next to the woods, I think about a future where I return to that wonder of building that hideout, that tree house, in that small patch of wooded area with many hidden wonders and unexperienced adventures.  I think I might want to return to being 10 years old, when I knew less things, and so felt less expectations and could simply day dream more.  I imagine tossing out my iPhone and all computers and being out of touch.  I imagine returning to the magic of living the uncertainty in simple things of little consequence when I was a 10 year old boy.



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Help, I’m Lost. Please Find Me. — iPhone Tip

For the past couple of days I’ve been sipping large quantities of freshly ground and brewed coffee at work.  Mmm, mmm, mmm.  It tastes so good, but I’m definitely getting very buzzed.  I started to bringing my own pot of coffee to work and it’s much more powerful to my brain than when I used to bring in chilled bottled coffee (more info on chilled coffee).  Now the “techie” part of my brain has been humming real fine.  So I’ve been inspired to share a tip that I think most people will value assuming that you, your loved ones and or close friends have an iPhone.  I’m actually too busy to be writing this blog, because I’ve got a ton of work to do but I don’t care cause it’s kind of fun (to all my BBSH friends and teachers out there might there be a bit of negative intention here?). 

But let me digress no more and share a useful tip. Here are some situations. 

– A loved one has just learned some emotionally overwhelming news, he’s out on the road somewhere and he needs you to find them but he’s too overwhelmed to describe where he is at. 

– A friend is somewhere else in the same town as you, but neither of you is familiar with the town.  You want them to meet you where you are. 

– You’re traveling to a new location and you want to check in with a loved one with your location as a just in-case precaution.

It turns out that the Maps app on the iPhone offers the solution to send your exact location to others and allow others with iPhones get exact directions to your exact location, be it by foot, public transportation or car, even if where you are at has no address.  So here’s a brief demo on what you do:

 To send someone your location do the following:

1) Start Maps and you’ll see something like below:


2) Press the little arrow button on the lower-left hand corner and Maps will locate you by GPS with a blue dot like below:

3) Now touch the blue dot and Maps will popup with “Current Location” similar to below:

4) Now touch the blue circle with the “>” inside it that’s next to the words “Current Location” and you’ll see something similar to below:

5) See the button “Share Location”.  Touch that and you’ll see something like below:

6) Select how you want to send your location to others: Email, Text/iMessage, or Twitter.

So here’s what it looks like to the person receiving your location.  Below shows what it my look like when you received a GPS location by email on your iPhone.

So in the above we see what looks like an address.  In some cases if say the person is in the middle of an unmapped area, it will may say “Unknown Location”, but it will still work to pinpoint your exact location.  The receiving person just touches the underlined words in blue and the iPhone automatically locates them with a red colored dot/pin in Maps as shown below.

That red dot is the exact GPS location of the person who sent me the message.  Next  just touch the red dot and you’ll see something like shown below:

To get directions to that location I touch the blue circle with the “>” inside and you’ll see something like shown below:

Next just touch “Directions To Here” button and I’ll see something like below:


Touch the icon for a Car, Bus, or Person depending upon if you want directions by Car, Public Transportation, or Walking.  Then touch the Route button and you’ll get directions.

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I managed to settle down and get smarter again

So today I found myself at work doing lots of computer upgrades and relearning how to work with a Microsoft SQL database I had started to forget how to use.  After about some 5 hours in the office racking my memory cells I was able to relearn some technical skills I had forgotten.  So once I got back home, it was like some old brain cells got revived and I started feeling smarter again.

I almost felt as smart as I was a few years ago when I was working full time as a techie website administrator.  So I got brave and decided to service the blog software (wordpress) behind my blogs.  I relearned how to properly update my wordpress blogs as well as wordpress plug-ins.  Fortunately, I had taken good notes from a year ago that told me where the non-obvious snafus and hiccups would occur.

A was slightly disturbed to find that newer software upgrade had added new features, deleted old features, and rearranged other features.  These kinds of inconsistencies let me know that in time my notes would eventually become obsolete and that the health of my website requires me to regularly and carefully coordinate the upgrade of different software modules.  Despite the fact that my brain felt smarter the upgrade still had newer hiccups and snafus.  I’m so thankful I was able to perform the upgrade, because honestly it is far from what I could call easy.

I almost need a full time IT person to keep up my websites.  Well for now I’m too poor/cheap to pay for any IT support that I can still do myself.  I also still don’t trust the competency of most IT services.  So for now my brain still seems fairly competent, and I am still computer self sufficient.

So I wonder again as I start getting older is my brain going to get dumber or is it just that computerized things are going to get more and more complicated?

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Computers getting more complicated or I’m just getting dumber

So a few days ago all my websites went out of commission for almost 3 days.  The end result was I started contemplating the possibility that all my blogs over the past couple of years had been wiped out and lost.  At one point things got so bad I was starting to think my web hosting company was actually going out of business without notice.  Eventually with a lot of upset emails coming from me, my service was restored and my latest blog post was gone and lost,  sigh, oh well.  One thing that got me frustrated was that it was a result of my service provider upgrading their equipment and in the process they sort of lost 3 different websites I maintained.  I think up to now I was operating under the assumption that if you pay a company to host your websites and they operate 24/7, they should be able to assure you should have worry free service.

However, I now believe that this assumption is a bit of a delusion.  Website hosting services are getting less and less expensive and the incentive for quality service is dropping.  A couple of years ago if there was a technical problem I could contact someone and they would get it resolved in a couple of hours.  Now it seems that if I contact someone they more likely ignore me unless I start to raise a stink over it.  It’s like the customer support people on the other end have to handle so much more work for the same pay that get easily overloaded allowing them to only have time to handle the customers that yell the loudest.

So this brings me back to the fact that having my own blog is actually feeling too technically challenging for me.  All I ever wanted to do was just write.  But lately what I see is that I have to constantly work with something called CPanel, perform software upgrades that seem to occur every month, and with each upgrade have to worry about incompatibility problems that inevitably occur.  Now on top of that it seems I may need to do data backups of my blogs after every post to cover myself in the event my websites go down or even if my web hosting company goes belly up without notice.

MY BRAIN HURTS!  I do not want to have to constantly worry about how to back up my websites.  I do not want to have to constantly figure out how to update my website software and software plug-ins.  I do not want to have to figure out who to bug to determine why some features work sometime and not others.  It all feels so messy.  I JUST WANT TO WRITE and have the computer figure out the rest.

It’s not just with my websites, but even at work, as I watch how technical support in many areas is dropping in quality as corporations outsource to lower paid workers in India.  And this is not a statement about the quality of support in India, but more the quality of support when you want to pay less and less for it.  I’ve witnessed how quality workers in India, discover that they can get paid more for their higher quality service, and move on, always sort of assuring that the person filling in the lower paid positions is going to be the least knowledgable and experienced person.  Because as soon as the junior person becomes more knowledgable and experienced they will want higher pay and will move on.

But, let me stop ranting.  I guess I’m starting to sound like a GRUMPY OLD MAN.  If I keep writing on this topic I’ll probably be starting my paragraphs with:  “You know when I was a kid  …”  Hmm that gives me some ideas … suppose in the future I experience another technical snafu and I lose the entire “tiredmiddleagedman” blog and website,  maybe instead of trying to restore my website I’ll just start over with a new website.  I’ll call it www.grumpyoldman.com or www.grouchyoldman.com.  In the newer blog I’ll recant stories of the past, repeat them over and over again with added embellishments until readers beg me to stop.


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Avoiding Super High Cell Phone Charges while Out of the Country

Recently, I came back from a mostly relaxing cruise from the Baltimore, MD to Bermuda.  After several days it’s been hard for me to get myself back into the swing of things as I’m constantly in perpetual nap mode and feel like I can sleep 24 hours a day.  I thought I could get myself back up to speed naturally without the aid of caffeine, but no good.  So on a Sunday afternoon I had to intervene and down 3 full cups of chilled coffee (I chill it so I can drink large quantities of caffeine fast).  Furthermore, I tried to get my mind active again by turning on my computer and thinking about something rather intricate.  So I thought about writing what I learned about the use of my cell phone on my trip to and from Bermuda and sharing my knowledge.

So I will start off by stating this.  Having an active cell phone during a cruise can become the most expensive thing you can do on any vacation in a foreign country, even if you never make a call.  If your cell phone is capable of receiving email and connecting to the internet it’s possible for you to rack upu costs in in excess of a $1000 during the stay of the cruise without ever making or receiving a call!  A simple solution to this is to simply leave your cell phone off completely as soon as you leave home.  But if you’re like me you may want to leave some option of keeping in contact.  Say there’s an emergency and someone needs to reach you.  Or maybe the act of you being out of contact for several days straight could end up with you losing a client.  If you simply leave you’re cell phone off and you’re on a cruise ship then your only option to keep in contact is using your ship’s phone which runs about $8 a minute!  It’s safe to say that the communicating on a cruise ship is probably more expensive than anywhere else in the world, because you’re communicating on a satellite service and you’re completely at the mercy of what the cruise ship company wants to charge.

There is a middle ground of options on ways to keep in contact with the rest of the world while you’re on a cruise without the risk of super high roaming charges, but there is no single best answer.  I thought I’d outline some options I found on my recent vacation cruising on a Royal Carribean ship to Bermuda using an iPhone and trying to allow my dog boarding service to contact me if my dog gets sick, or allowing family members traveling in China to reach me, or allowing the body shop thats fixing my car to contact me to authorize repairs as needed. So here we go in terms of options to consider to avoid getting unexpected nightmarish phone charges.

1) Turn off cell phone and keep it off. This is the simplest option, but you can never keep in contact.  As long as your phone remains off you will incur no charges.  But do not think you can just turn on the cell phone periodically and avoid costs.  For example, if there is back log off missed text messages or email while your phone was off, the moment you turn your phone back on you could get hit with a bunch of charges as your cell phone gets caught up on those missed texts and email.  If you are not able to live strictly by keeping your phone completely off on your vacation then you want to read further.

2) Turn on Airplane mode and keep it that way. This is strictly for iPhone users.  It allows you to continue to use your iPhone to listen to music or use Apps without worry of being charged.  It’s almost the same as turning off your cell phone as you will not be able to send or receive calls, and you will not be able to use WiFi for internet.  But do not think you can just turn off Airplane mode periodically and avoid costs.  If you are not able to live strictly by keeping Airplane mode on your entire vacation out of the country then you want to read further.

3) Make sure data roaming is off. This is mostly for smart phone users.  On the iPhone you can go into settings to keep data roaming off.  This is normally the default setting.  I did a recent test on light use of my iPhone and if I had data roaming on during my cruise I estimate I would have racked up over $900 in charges as my iPhone automatically got updates on my two email accounts and my Facebook account.  Note that with data roaming off you will not be able to use the Google Maps or many GPS Apps on your iPhone as they depend on constant connection to the internet.

4) Use call forwarding.  Did you know that if your cell phone is on, then if someone calls you and you don’t answer YOU CAN get charged a bundle for that missed call?  If you don’t answer your cell phone it will go to your voice mail. If that caller chooses to leave a message you will get charged for every minute of that voice mail message at the roaming rate, plus possible additional long distance charges per minute.  On my cruise that amounted to around $3 a minute.   And after paying that amount you can’t even listen to your voice mail without paying that same $3 minute to listen to your voice mail.  Ka-ching Ka-ching Ka-ching.  Don’t bother contacting your phone company about disabling your voice mail.  They can do this but then your caller will listen to a message from your phone company that your voice mail is disabled and you will pay for every minute of that message that tells your caller that you voice mail is disabled.  The best solution is to enable call forwarding on you cell phone.  Call forward to a local land-line telephone number.  Then all calls to your cell phone are intercepted before they ever reach your cell phone and you can never get charged roaming fees for the missed calls.  Furthermore, if that local land-line telephone number has a voice mail or answering machine then here’s a way for people to leave a message for you at no cost to you. Oh one more thing– on your voice mail or answering machine don’t let them know you’re away on vacation as it would tip off potential burglars that it’s safe to rob your home.  Finally, do note that call forwarding is technically not completely free.  Call forwards on your cell phone get treated as if you were at home using your cell phone to make a call to the number you are forwarding to.  That’s why you only want to call forward to a local land-line number.  If you subscribe to a monthly cell phone service plan then call forwarding time just counts against the allotted minutes in your plan.

5) CAREFULLY CONSIDER if you want your Text messaging service on or off. If you generally DO NOT get many text messages, then text messaging may actually be a very good and economical way of communicating with family.  On AT&T roaming rates are 50 cents to send a non-picture text and 30 cents to receive a non-picture text anywhere in the world and on a cruise ship.  BUT IF YOU HAVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHO LOVE to send you lots of text including picture texts (which generally run $1.30 per text), then you may want to TURN OFF texting service to your phone, because the moment you turn your phone on during your vacation your phone will connect and receive all missed texts, keeping you up to date on texts, and charging you for every text whether you want it or not.  Your normal texting plan will not cover these roaming rate texts.  If you really want to commit to lots of texting then subscribe to an international roaming texting plan.  For AT&T if you pay $50 a month your covered for 500 texts.  However, if you subscribe to such a plan note that you probably wont get the full 500 text allotment.  Instead you’re account will be charged some prorated percentage of the full $50 and you’ll only get a prorated percentage of the 500 texts.  This is just how the billing works. To disable texting you will need to call customer service and have them remove texting service from your account.  So you will want to do this before you leave on your trip.  Once you return then you can call back and have them turn texting back on.

****** Below are more advanced options to consider  ***********

6) Consider using email to keep in contact. If you’re willing to work a little harder to communicate, then look for ways to communicate by email. The key thing is to finding internet service.  If you have a laptop, iPhone, iPad, or some other internet device you should look for free or low cost WiFi (wireless internet) service.  If you don’t have anything then you can look for a local internet cafe and rent time on a computer, and use a web browser to access your email.  However, it’s better if you can bring your own laptop, iPhone or iPad, because you can better control costs by connecting to WiFi long enough to download all your recent email messages, quickly disconnecting from WiFi and reading your email offline when you are not being charged.  When I was on the Royal Carribean cruise ship they offered both WiFi service or rental time on a computer for about 65 cents a minute.  This is not cheap but it’s much cheaper than $3 a minute for cell phone service or $8 a minute for the cabin phone use.

7) Consider paying for voicemail service. If you are planning to use option 4 and 6 above, then you also want to consider paying for a voice mail service.  I did this myself as it gave me peace of mind.  Once you’re willing to work a little more and spend a little more, this opens up more options on keeping in contact economically.  If you make use of call forwarding to avoid getting charged for missed calls while your phone is on, you can make use of a paid voice mail service to take messages for you and send them to your email.  You can usually get a voice mail service like this for around $7 a month.  You pay them the $7 a month rate, and they give you a local phone to which you can call forward to take voice messages.  If you already pay for a Skype online phone number then you can use your Skype’s voice mail service. You may ask why pay for voice mail service when your cell phone comes with voice mail.  Because with your cell phone voice mail you will pay a bundle for roaming fees (read my description in option 4).  A separate paid voice mail working with your cell  phone call forwarding will NOT incur roaming charges and you get the added benefit of being able to listen to your messages where ever you can get email.  Listening to voicemail by email is a lot less expensive than calling in to listen to your cell phone’s built-in voicemail. There are even voice mail services that will type out a transcript of the voice mail in the email.

8 ) Use Skype over WiFi to call people. If you can get ready access to free or low cost WiFi service, Skye is possibly the best way of communicating.  With Skype you can have video phone calls with anyone else with Skype for free, or make or receive phone calls from any phone anywhere in the world for very low rates.  You can make Skype calls from your laptop, iPhone, or iPad.  However, DO NOT expect Skype to work well on a cruise ship.  The cruise ship’s WiFi is generally not fast enough to support good quality voice calls, and please DO NOT EVEN think of turning on data roaming and using the cruise ships cell phone provided data service for Skype.   I managed to get a few lucky minutes of somewhat choppy phone calls on Skype using the ship’s WiFi, but in the end I think the cruise ship blocked my Skype service over their WiFi as I was probably chewing up too much bandwidth.  So eventually my Skype no longer worked.  I’d say Skype is only good for WiFi service you find on land.  So for me when our shipped was docked in the Bermuda it was possible to find a local WiFi service where one could use Skype.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find this out until I was about to leave Bermuda.  HERE’s a tip just for those cruising to the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda (also known as Kings Wharf).  In the Dockyard there’s a lesser known WiFi place called “Internationally Connected” near the Dock Yard Pastry Shop.  As of the writing of this blog, “Internationally Connected” is located on the 2nd floor of a small building and they charged about $5 for 30 minutes of high speed WiFi.  This is great for economical use of Skype as well as for options 6 and 7 above.

******** Even more advanced options to consider.  Probably not worth investing time here unless you plan to stay in a particular foreign country a lot.  ********

9) Buy a prepaid SIM card for your cell phone. If you can get this to work you get the ultimate in economical and convenient communication.  I’d only consider trying this if you plan on spending a long time in a foreign country.   There’s significant risk it may not work. Firstly, it won’t work with all phones.  GSM phones use SIM chips.  CDMA phone like those from Verizon and Sprint don’t.  Also there are currently two different sizes of SIM cards: the regular SIM and the micro SIM card.  Most prepaid SIM cards will be of the regular SIM size.  If your phone only takes micro SIM cards you’ll need to invest in a micro SIM cutter so that you can trim down regular SIMs to fit in a micro SIM slot.  Finally, your GSM phone may be locked to your cell phone carrier so you would need to invest in unlocking service.  Are you getting a headache listening to my explanation?  That’s why it may not be worth trying this.

10) Rent or buy a prepaid cell phone. This avoids all the complications involved with a SIM card described above, but now you have to contend with paying for the cell phone itself.

**** Finally some considerations on the easiest but most expensive option ********

11) Just use your cell phone. This is by far the easiest but most expensive option.  You can actually make and receive phone calls anywhere on a cruise ship and probably anywhere in the foreign country you are visiting.  I have to admit all the above other options can be really inconvenient and take up a lot of valuable vacation time, so paying the extra for the convenience of using your cell phone as is, may be worth it.  Also on a cruise ship this is the only way to call someone as attempting to use Skype on a cruise ship is likely to fail. Even I had to use this option to call family members traveling in China.  IF YOU are going to ever consider this PLEASE do read option 4 describing the importance of enabling call forwarding on your cell phone. Some things to keep in mind if you are going to actually use your cell phone to make calls.  Your phone company may offer special international roaming rate plans if you’re willing to pay an extra subscription fee.  However, I’ve found that for many countries they offer little discount over standard roaming rate plans.  For example with AT&T without a roaming rate plan calls in Bermuda were $2.29/minute but if you subscribed for $5.99/month you get a discount rate of $1.69/minute.  Finally, the special international roaming rate plans don’t cover your cruise ship.  The rates are strictly regulated by your specific cruise ship.  On the Royal Carribean cruise ship with AT&T as my carrier the set rate was $2.99 a minute regardless of what plan you are on. I suspect that for all the cell phone carriers the rate is exactly the same $2.99 minute, but you should check yourself.

So the above gives you an idea of options to consider before you travel.  You’ll want to plan ahead your options before you travel.  Hind sight is 20/20.  I didn’t fully learn about the best way of using option 8 (Skype) until the final hour in Bermuda before I had to get back on the ship.  But if I had to do this again I would have planned to use option 8 a lot more along with that WiFi service I found in the Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda.  In the end I ended up using a combination of option 3, 4, 6, 7, and just a tiny bit of option 11.  I mostly paid the cruise ships 65 cents a minute WiFi rate and in one instance I made very short cell phone calls from my cabin at the expensive roaming rate of $2.99 a minute. In the end I probably invested around $50 keeping in contact while away on a cruise ship for about 5 days.  This is certainly expensive compared to communicating from home, but at least I was not exposed to the risk of a several hundred dollar bill, and it was always possible for someone to call my cell phone and leave a message and have me be able to listen to it and respond if necessary.

I know thinking about the above might give you a headache.  But to avoid getting a surprise thousand dollar bill from your phone company, it’s definitely worth looking thru the above options and planning. Anyway this is probably the most technical I’ve written in a blog, but at least it’s got my brain buzzed up and out of sleepy cruise ship vacation mode.  If you have any questions about the above feel free to ask me by email at wilsoncheung@wakundama.com. Now that I’m much more learned and prepared I can dare say I’ll be able to respond to you within 24 hours anywhere in the world even in the middle of the ocean.

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Thoughts of the Life Suction 2000 Machine

I remember years ago running across this Dilbert cartoon introducing a device called the “Life Suction 2000”.  The cartoon revealed how the boss at your corporate workplace has installed a secret machine into the ventilation system that steadily sucks the life out of employees.  That image has stood in my mind because something about it accurately described a phenomena that I have experienced in the corporate workplace.

There have been many days I can remember waking up early in the morning, not wanting to head into the office.  But once I got going into the hectic pace of the office, I started to feel OK.  I can push thru periods of sleepiness in my office and then my adrenaline kicks in and I’d be back up buzzing away at full speed.  I’m starting on a workaholic roll and once again it’s becoming so easy to stay later and later at the office.  Sometimes I think about stopping back home to eat dinner before pushing to work into the evening, but it seems that a sudden drop in my energy level occurs as soon as I head back home.  Often by the time I enter the door I’m ready to just collapse into bed.

At first blush you’d wonder why I am energized at work and exhausted at home.  I attribute this phenomena to the Life Suction 2000 machine that our IT department has installed at work.  Actually it’s probably upgraded to the Life Suction version 2011 by now.  I have not been able to find concrete evidence of it’s existence, but here’s my theory on how it works.  This machine infiltrates the air you breath with an undetectable gas scientifically indistinguishable from normal air.  This gas acts as a stimulant, boosting your perceived energy level.  You start to become capable of levels of intense work and neurotic brain activity far beyond what you could ever achieve at home.  The side effects are gradually increasing levels of stress and anxiety.  In fact some may say it’s the stress and anxiety that are the stimulant; I mean haven’t you found that if you get really stressed you can’t sleep.  Even if you’re sleepy, when you get stressed, you can suddenly become awake as soon as your head hits the pillow.  This is sort of some of the aspects of how the Life Suction 2000 machine works.

So let’s say your energy level goes on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most energized and 1 being the most depleted.  Say my true energy level at home is a 3 and I’m pretty beat.  I enter the zone of the Life Suction 2000.  I breath the air and suddenly I feel like I’m at a 8.  And as the hours start to fly by I’m still at an 8.  But in reality my true “unstimulated” energy level may be dropping to a 2, but I’m completely oblivious to this under the marvels of the Life Suction 2000.  When you leave the workplace, the effects take about 15 minutes to start wearing off.  So that when you finally get home, you suddenly feel your true energy level and you’re completely exhausted.  If you get a decent nights sleep you may get back up to a 3, but no worries the Life Suction 2000 machine will boost you up to feeling like your at much higher energy levels.

So these past couple of weeks I’ve started to find that coffee is now becoming my Life Suction drink.  It all started with my findings that my coffee machine makes better tasting coffee the larger the number of cups you brew at a time.  I generally only wanted maybe a cup at most, but the best taste only comes thru when you brew 8 cups or more.  However, I don’t like the idea of brewing 8 cups, drinking one cup and dumping the rest.  So I discovered bottling unused coffee, refrigerating it, and adding milk or cream.  Then end result is an excellent tasting iced coffee drink with caffeine effects somehow stronger than when I drank the coffee hot.  The drinks generally taste a ton better than all the premium iced coffee drinks you can buy.  And today I found that when you bottle one of these drinks while they’re hot, they naturally vacuum seal themselves during the cooling phase.  What I mean by this is that when you buy a drink at a store it often mentions that it’s cap should be depressed to show that no one has opened it.  Well my home made coffee drinks look like professionally sealed drinks, caps depressed and vacuum sealed!  You turn the cap and it pops to let you know it’s never been open … and the drink tastes so good … so good …. so so good.  … Oh excuse me  I’m getting a bit off track.  Pardon my excitement on the topic of making my own iced coffee drinks.  It’s the effect of drinking too much coffee.

So the last few days I’d say I’ve been working longer and longer hours, feeling more and more drained and overwhelmed.  But what has been pulling me thru more is my great tasting iced coffee drink, my Life Suction drink.  The other side effects is that I feel less and less hungry.  If I’ve skipped breakfast and lunch and feel exhausted and famished, a good gulp of my coffee drink, and my hunger disappears and I’m awake and alert again.  And then when I get back home I can work and work up till midnight, go to sleep with a restless caffeine charged buzz, wake up with a struggle early in the morning, skip breakfast, grab a fresh bottle of chilled coffee drink. I start drinking and my energy level is back up and I’m clicking away at full speed again.  I almost don’t feel like doing anything but spending the rest of my waking hours stuck in front of the computer screen doing more work on and on and on.  Some part of me does feel exhausted and its only when I’m doing work that I feel alive.  It’s a bit scary.

You know I also thought about this Life Suction 2000 machine.  In some ways it resembles the concept of the machines in the movie “the Matrix” that use humans as batteries.  The machines feed our minds with comforting dreams, and in return we willingly but unknowingly let it suck the energy out of our bodies.  …  Oh I better be quiet!  I think there on to me.  Oh oh it’s Mr. Smith … I oh oh oh..  Help help.  I’m feeling terri ri ri ri …. just fine! I’m feeling great.

I’m think about curtailing a bit on my coffee drink.  But man … it actually tastes so so good.  Mmmm mmm mmm.  Did I tell how neat it is when the cap pops when I open my bottles? Want to come over and try some of my coffee drink?


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Torn Apart and then Gently Reassembled

So over the weekend I had gone away to a Core Energetics “personal intensive”.  In some ways it was a bit like a small retreat to one of those spa’s to help you lose weight and get more physically fit.  Except in this retreat the goal was to become more psychologically fit.  Those of you who have been privileged enough to have attended the Barbara Brennan School of Healing are familiar with the personal process sessions.  A “personal intensive” is in some ways just a personal process session that lasts about 2.5 days.

A general description about Core Energetics is that it works with trying to move and release stuck emotional energy by loosening up where they stored within the body.  It starts off with some discussion to try and push your buttons or bring you back to a painful memory. Then it continues with heavy physical exertion beating the crap out of large pillow while simultaneoulsy saying how you are feeling in terms of any past anger, fear, and hurt.  At times doing this can result in a very cathartic emotional release.

For me I came out feeling an indescribable rejuvenation.  It was a rejuvenation that was different then say going out to a relaxing tropical island getaway.  Because when you simply escape to a relaxing environment you inevitably come back feeling the stress of knowing you must return to whatever you tried to escape.  With the personal intensive the rejuvenation was more “organic” and so the transition from vacation life back to normal weekday work life also seemed “organic”.

In my personal intensive my goal was to find a deeper understanding of myself.  A group of about 9 facilitators/practitioners teamed up to work on my psyche.  I did my best to reveal anything I could possibly think of for all to hear.  The facilitators would team up to try and find and push my buttons, but in a way that felt safe.  In fact I tried my best to work with them to have my buttons pushed, because its in my buttons that I find the doorways to healing.  And during some of my sessions I was quite surprised to find myself vomiting air, purely on emotional release.  At one point I was asked to do a relatively simple Yoga-like exercise and I was triggered into a sensation of indescribable pain and fear. For a brief period I was brought into absolute agony, screaming at the top of my lungs.  But once this happened there was this deep inner smile welling up within me.

I was smiling because I came to be broken and freed, and in many ways that’s exactly what happened.  I was a very satisfied customer.  Within a day I was totally spent physically and emotionally.  My body was becoming so sore all over.  I started to have difficulty sleeping as I my dreams were flooded with more phantom facilitators that would take me through more sessions.  They broke me.  Or rather as my facilitators would probably say: “I broke me, they only facilitated and provided a safe and loving container for my break down”  And then they spent about a day and a half gently putting me back together, healing me with exercises to start implanting new memories of a much happier childhood experience to sit alongside of some my scary, hurtful, shameful or missing experiences.  So now it was like I could survey my past memories and choose new possibilities to my past experiences to better effect my presence in the here and now.

In one exercise they brought me back into the sensation of being in a deeply unconditionally loving womb.  Intellectually I was still an adult, but emotionally I had yet to be born and I have never felt such comfort and security in my life.  The sensation was of tentacles or umbilical cords connecting with me kind of like the tentacles coming from the tree of souls in the movie “Avatar”


I was blindfolded so I couldn’t see with my eyes.  But I could see with my heart, my body, my ears, my mind.  It was beautiful.  It was safe. Every  sound that I was making as the infant was being echoed in a humanity of souls (my facilitators mimicked my sounds) lovingly mirroring my emotions, and lovingly holding me.  This was a moment that I can’t get enough of.  I was told that this very spot of complete security and love resided in the same “void” area of where by deepest fear and pain resided.  This is something I believe, yet sort of boggles my mind to have such opposites sitting so close together, all suggesting that it’s a matter of my perspective and choice that determines whether an unknown “void” part of me that I’ve never been to feels “terrifying and painful” or “fluid and safe.”

On the last few hours of the final day of my weekend they put the finishing touches on putting me back together with a body massage that words can not accurately describe.  All I can say is it was so loving, so compassionate, and so real. And when it came to me having to drive 3.5 hours back home, I was actually OK.  Well much better than OK.  They tore me apart and lovingly put me back together.

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My Pension is now a Possibility; Is this Good or Bad?

So last week I got to attend the 30th anniversary of someone at my work place.  That’s 30 years working for the same company, kind of a rarity these days.  And so then I asked the person how long they had before they qualified for full retirement benefits.  The person shared with me some information which ultimately revealed I was just under 10 years till qualifying for my pension. This may sound like a long time, but it’s actually close enough to start playing a spin on my future plans.  This is when “good news” sometimes feels like “bad news” because it creates choices neither of one which is obviously better than the other, and such choices can be both good and bad news depending upon how well you can accept being given the choice to create your future.  Responsibility and options can be perceived as both good and bad.

You see I’ve been attending BBSH (Barbara Brennan School of Healing) with the expectation of graduating and starting my own private practice and being able to leave my corporate job.  But here’s the interesting situation that may occur.  You see from what I’ve been told by the time I graduate from BBSH I will be about 5 years away from qualifying for my pension.  And so I might actually find myself in that position I thought was never a remote possibility. I might become one of those uneventful workers that decides to stick it out to qualify for that financial security at the end of the tunnel.

This reality stirs up a bunch of feelings and critical voices.  The harshest voice has shame and says: “Oh Geez you don’t want to be known as a lifer.  Come on Wilson, what a disappointment, you were supposed to have made it big when you were 30.  Man I never thought I’d see you sucking wind to join the herds of the many cowards that were afraid to make the leap and stuck it out for a pension.”  A less harsh voice says:  “Man we always thought to don’t even think about qualifying for pension, that was for really really old people”  Finally, a new voice says:  “Hold on now Wilson this has to be given serious consideration.”

I’d say that one thing that has definitely started to change since I’ve attended BBSH is that my ability to sustain myself in a world that can be rather cold and superficial has increased.  So the irony of an education that might enable me to pursue a full time life as an energy healer also is opening doors to a full time life even creating beautiful healing space no matter where I am.  I mean many graduates of BBSH never go into practice, and I’m finding even those who do, they may eventually branch off into something that’s no longer energy healing.

So in the end it’s all very wierd.  The possibilities of what I will be doing 10 years from now could be anything from a full time energy healer to just another corporate employee nearing his retirement.  It’s now all about options, all actually positive options, but part of me is a bit disturbed because options means I have to choose and having to choose can be very uncomfortable and quite scary.  But I think there’s a good part of me that’s starting to get the message that the when you are in the sweet spot of the good stuff, it’s also the area where things feel most uncertain and unpredictable.

So at the moment I can see strong certainty of hitting this sweet spot of uncertainty and unpredictability. And I can accept the obvious good of it all and embrace the “bad” of the fear and critical voices in my head.

It’s all good.

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The World has Ended Today May 21st

So I’ve seen this billboard for the past several months mentioning that the world will end on May 21st 2011.  If you search the internet you’ll find plenty of sites talking about the end of the word, such as this one from Business Insider.  For me I’ve been so so busy at work that the idea of the end of the world sounds like a really good and well needed vacation from life.  I mean if things don’t suddenly stop I have to face the horror of more tension filled meetings and deadlines in the coming week.  To be fair I think I’ve been getting a bit of the hang of my current job working as a Black Belt Project Manager, but I could sure use a break and the end of the world is certainly a break.

But honestly I didn’t hold my breath keeping my hopes up for this to come.   And probably like many of the rest you, you find this another thing to chuckle and make jokes about.  So did I until I stepped outside and enjoyed the fantastic weather today!

One the morning of the day this World is supposed to end, I started on a typical walk with my dog and was struck even stunned by the fantastic weather.  The sky was absolutely clear of all, clouds, and quite blue.  The Sun was absolutely intense and brilliant and this red flag in front of my apartment was not just red, but now shimmering brilliant red with the crisp sunlight reflecting the threads of its fabric.  I never knew the threads in this large red flag had a smooth enough finish to actually shimmer like that!  The air, the breeze was crisp.  It was stunningly beautiful.  Maybe even surrealistically beautiful.

And then I went back upstairs and stepped out on our balcony to meditate and soak in the beautiful morning.  I sat down and my dog followed me.  I sat down in lotus position and just marvelled at the natural sounds of life in contrast to the abstract intellectual world of web conferences, emails, spreadsheets and reports that make up my work week.  I thought to myself, “Man today is just so so SO beautiful!”  My dog just sat beside me and meditated with me.  She was enjoying the Sun too.

Maybe after an hour just sitting in this Sun, I started noticing some whisps of clouds starting to form above my head.  And so I broke out of lotus position and started lying down with my head staring straight up at the sky.  I watched this whisp of clouds rapidly molt, transform, move, appear, evaporate and reappear.  If you were someone else watching me you might have thought I was “spacing out”, but I’d say I was more just having my head in the clouds in the truest sense.  It’s been maybe more than 20 years since I’ve ever lied down and just gazed at the clouds, marvelled at their shapes and just wasted hours of the day away, like there was nothing really to do.

And so I though: “End of the Day,  Haaa, Really!”  I mean this is about the exact opposite of the End of the World.  Nothing menacing at all.  Everything absolutely glorious, relaxed, calm.  All was truly well, even better than well!  A bit more like Heaven.

Then I thought: “Wait a minute  …. a bit like Heaven?  Hmmm.  Heaven?  Hmmm”.  In a world that has seem so turmoiled to pop into a reality where this picture of my dog summarizes the day.  Notice how menacing the day looks, NOT.  Notice how stressed and agitated my dog appears, NOT.  It’s more like Heaven.

Calm Dog on a Beautiful Day

What if this is Heaven?  Then maybe the World actually has actually already ended?  Like maybe just after you blinked your eyes to fall asleep a cataclysmic event occurred far beyond our wildest imagination.  Our part of the Universe blew up in an instant and so fast we couldn’t even see destruction coming.  Like some kind of Hyper Super Nova blew up humungously faster than the speed of light and in the blink of the eye we were vaporized faster than the pulses in our head can travel in an inch and so death and destruction was shockingly painless and unnoticeable.

And so after death we are all waking up.  Well actually I can’t speak for all of us, but at least for my perspective and all the people I could see from my balcony.   So you might be thinking, this sounds all far fetched and I’m off my rocker, but bear me out.  Could you not entertain the possibility of an instantaneous destruction?  And if so then if this did occur and occur so fast, we’d all have skipped the scary and miserable part of seeing our imminent death and destruction and jump straight to a heavenly existence.  And so I really couldn’t complain about today.  I’d wish every day were like today.  It was in the grand overview of my life, like being in Heaven.

And let me walk you a bit further down the “rabbit hole”  What if every moment we are instantly destroyed and the next instant we pop into a new existence.  What if the end of the world is every moment!?  So like in all moments just prior to the end of the world, you think of treasuring every precious second prior to your inevitable death and destruction.  But then you are reborn the next instant only to face the next end of the world.  And so every moment is very precious.  To be sipped like whatever it is you’d associate with Heaven.  And so in a round about way the message of the end of the world is just one more step towards a message of simply being so grateful of the now, of simply taking the time to be in the present.

So you’ll be seeing more signs about another day as the actual End of The World.   So instead of criticizing them for making so many predictions that never come true.  Why not criticize them for not declaring enough the predictions that have so secretly come true.  They should be coming out with signs that the End of the World will come the next second, and the next second, and the next, and the next ….

But if this is starting to feel too heady and philosophical for you, that’s OK.  It’s just a beautiful day today, and my head is in the clouds.  I think I’ve got a bunch of back-to-back meetings lined up for Monday, but for today I just can’t seem to get worried about them.  I’m just wasting the day away talking to you much about nothing, or nothing about much, or maybe I’m simply relaxing.  So in the meantime consider taking a couple of minutes to watch this video of some clouds I took in this moment of a beautiful day.  Click the picture of the cloud to watch.  Peace! 🙂

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Einstein was Wrong

Einsteins is quoted with saying the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I now beg to differ.

So a month ago I bought a pack of AA rechargeable batteries from Amazon.com to start using in my wireless mouse and keyboard. I figure I’d start being more environmentally friendly as I probably throw out about 40 AA batteries a year. I was kind of psyched about my purchase because I researched to find the best rechargeable batteries around and discovered that most rechargeable AA batteries need to be used right away after they are charged. If they sit around too long for over a month they start to discharge and you need to charge them up, so you constantly need to keep these batteries in the charger. So I was thinking about my total household scenario. Our remote controls, pen flashlights, wireless devices probably amount to about 20 AA batteries, so I’d need to purchase about two sets of 20 batteries, one set to use and the other to be in the battery chargers as standby. That started to look clunky and pricey.

Then I discovered these Sanyo Eneloop brand batteries (Man I should be giving a referral link to Amazon for these batteries, but alas I’m too tired to do this right now) that you could charge up, take out of the charger and not use for a year without worry of loss of power. So the brilliant consumer that I am proudly realized that I only needed to purchase a single compact charger and simply adopt a household procedure of 1) all used up batteries get put into charger 2) all charged up batteries get put into small container in closet 3) whenever you need a battery just grab them from the bucket.

So I was kind of obsessed with trying these new Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries. When batteries in my wireless mouse died I got excited. Whoopee! Like the geek I have been at heart I eagerly tried out my hard researched Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries. My mouse comes to life and then dies. Hugh? I take the batteries out and pop them back in. The mouse comes back to life and then dies. These batteries are supposed to be precharged, but I decided to stick them in the charger. I plug them into the charger, and the charger doesn’t seem to work!

Eventually, I put in a set of new akaline AA batteries and the mouse came back to life and all was well. So much for the rechargeable battery idea. I start to get very frustrated. I find out that rechargeable batteries are rated at 1.2 volts while regular akaline batteries are rated at 1.5 volts. I thought drat, this suck, now I might have to return these batteries. And so for the past three weeks I’ve been putting off returning the defective battery charger along with unusable rechargeable batteries. The only problem was I needed to find a box to return them and it seemed hard to find a box.

Then last night I had a dream where some of the things that were niggling me started to come to life. In particular I had a dream about these batteries that I needed to return to Amazon soon or else I’d be stuck with some $40 of new batteries never to be used, because they don’t work and I was too tired to return them. In this dream I was struggling to find a box and I woke up wishing wondering why these stinkin batteries just won’t work. But my dream inspired or more likely taunted the frustrated tired me to try something, something insane, according to Einstein’s quote.

So I searched the internet on other people’s experiences with rechargeable batteries. Everything I was reading was of the opinion that these batteries should always work. And then I visited the Apple store and they were selling rechargeable AA batteries for use in a wireless mouse and they were rated at only 1.2 volts, just like the Enelop brand batteries I had. Then I read about other people initially getting frustrated and concluding that it was the lower voltage of the rechargeable batteries at fault. But then others countered that argument. Finally, I read where the one frustrated person tried one more thing and suddenly he was doing well with his rechargeable batteries. And so in frustration I challenged Einstein’s definition of insanity and put those rechargeable batteries into the mouse, and the mouse suddenly worked! I don’t understand why, because a couple weeks ago I tried many times to get them to work with no luck. (Notice I’m using words like “luck” telltale signs for someone to accuse me of insanity) Now suddenly for now reason these batteries were working well.

To top things off, I started to think about the defective battery charger. And then my eyes caught on to a small paper strip that was covering one part of the battery charger. I don’t ever recall seeing this before. My analytic Electrical Engineering trained mind immediately lit up and said “Dugh?!, Paper blocks electricity, Why didn’t I see this so many times?” I then removed this protective strip and suddenly the charger was working.

So all I can say is this. I repeatedly tried to get these rechargeable batteries to work and they repeatedly did not work. In my small moment of instanity I stilled continued to try. And then suddenly it worked. I tried to do the same thing over and over again, expected different outcomes, and sure enough different outcomes happened. So one could say Einstein was wrong, I was sane, and if at first, second and third something doesn’t succeed try, try again, or maybe I was insane and like the song by Seal goes, “We’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy”

Oh, by the way I managed to get that amazon link working. Click the advertisement below to order your own set of eneloop batteries along with charger. As long as you’re only interested in AA batteries get the below 🙂

… And after you order the above you can then just order as many extra AA batteries as you need by clicking below for more 🙂

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Starting to Catch up on Sleep

It’s been a few weeks now that I’ve actually not worked thru the weekends.  I think the nice weather has been enticing me to just lie, sit, walk or stand in the sun light.  The days of Summer are long and great.  And although the longer days could allow me to work longer hours, they only seem to entice me to take shorter days.  In my darkest work-a-holic days I was putting in 100 hour weeks and lied to my co-workers about how many hours I was actually working, because I was too embarrassed to be working so long.  I was working as long as physically possible, until my head would fall into the keyboard and it was clear that I was typing gibberish and then I’d push myself to wake up as early as possible, hype myself up with strong coffee and do it again and again and again all in response to fear of being yelled at for not meeting everyone’s high expectations.

But now I’ve faced the fact that everyone’s expectations are actually unrealistic.  As part of my training in the Barbara Brennan school I see a therapist regularly.  Therapy typically helps you accept the fact that your perception of reality is largely how we choose to perceive them.  And so something that is scary or terrible often only gets that way because we choose to judge it that way.  However, everytime I describe my long work hour situation to my therapist, he actually points the problem with corporate work life rather than me.  He’s dealt with many other clients that are getting overworked and doing so willingly for fear of losing their employment in a time where its generally hard to find employment.  According to therapy the expectations made of me at my work place are very unreasonable.  My predicament of working long hours is understandable when just a year ago I was so close to being layed off only to be rescued by a crazy workaholic job.  However, here’s the kicker, in the end it is my choice to work the long hours, even if it’s doing so under implicit cohersion by my supervisors.  I could choose to risk losing my job in an attempt to get needed rest and preserve my health.

I remember a couple weeks ago attending a company sponsored safety meeting and the topic was health.  And I failed miserably on questions related to exercise, recreation and sleep.  You see my company takes safety seriously enough to fire you if you’re unsafe.  And yet my company has high expectations that require me to work unhealthy hours to meet them.  But if I work unhealthy hours I’m implicitly being unsafe.  As I looked at my peers, including some of my newer supervisors taking leisure time or having time to exercise, I recognize that although external events of a work place with unreasonable expectations is very real, the choice to react in fear and give up my personal boundaries, of health and safety is my own.  And that choice is actually an unreasonable choice to make in an attempt to satisfy an unreasonable demand.  The reasonable choice is to not satisfy and allow for the disappointment of those unreasonable demands.  The healthy choice involves disappointing others, while still having empathy for that disappointment.

I’m more now taking a deep breath and gathering the courage to work less hours and potentially disappoint people.  I gather the courage to face people who will get angry and vent on me for failing them in some ways or taking the blame for their predicament, because I wasn’t on the ball in pushing the pace of my projects.  And so what’s at risk is really just me experiencing lots of disappointment and starting to feel like a failure, and incompetent worker.  There’s also a slight fear that someone else may be assigned to take over some of my responsibilities if I’m perceived incapable of doing my work.  But part of me recognizes that someone taking over my work would actually be a healthy response.

So for me in the face of unreasonable demands, I am starting to make frighteningly scary yet reasonable choices.  I know I will feel the disappointment of others and that’s what makes it frighteningly scary.  So the personal work for me is to not to tie my personal worth to my work performance.  I must start to embrace and know and feel my true worth regardless of how disappointed others become with me.  In fact my true worth has nothing to do with what I achieve or accomplish, it is actually simply tied to my mere presence as a unique beautiful human being.


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Starting to not care as much about my work

So in these past couple of months I’d say that one thing I’ve noticed that’s changed is my fear of my workplace is lessened.  I mean I remember getting a phone call at my office a few weeks ago and some ultimately tells me my work is total shit, and he never liked it before I even got started on it.  Maybe it was from being chastised verbally so much that I got numb, or maybe I was simply just surrendering and letting go.  But what I remember was accepting that my work was shit and listened as the person on the other end of the phone talked himself into supporting my project although with great reservations.  I was a bit beside myself as I observed how much I wasn’t too phased by the ranting and complaining over the phone.

So now a couple weeks back from another week at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and I’m finding myself bouncing back and forth between not so interested in my workplace or just tired of my workplace.  But it’s not exactly me being defeated, because there’s a bit of an element of me just feeling OK, regardless of what people think of me, or more importantly what I think other people think of me.

My job title is a Six Sigma Black Belt.  I supposedly lead two demanding projects.  The Black Belt normally evokes expectations of tough, but I’m not tough.  Rather I think the title of Black Belt for me allows others I lead to be tough with me.  But maybe this is all OK. Maybe it’s actually better than OK.

Or maybe I’m currently delusional and you’ll see me ranting in my next blog post (which at my current rate of posting might be for several months), about having no idea what I was writing about in this blog post.  Or maybe I’m currently just writing aimlessly for the sole purpose of recording a blog post in a rather stagnant blog.

Peace man 🙂

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Oh Geez. I haven’t posted in 4 months!

Well this is hardly an interesting blog, and I’ve been probably the only reader.  That’s pretty bad.

If I was in my early 20’s I might be clicking away trying all kinds of things with lots of reserve energy.  But I think what happens is that with time you inevitably seek out the things in life that can truly sustain the core essence of you. When you’re younger you have more time, and more physical bounce in your body that you can tolerate ventures that look nice on the outside but drain you on the inside.  But after some time if you can’t find some key things to sustain you, your “youth” reserves run empty and you become tired in you middle ages. So me being tired is also a sign of inevitable awakening, a having to let go of superficialities, and a deepening in with the realness of the present world.

Anyway,  I lot of my time has been invested in my work as a student of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing based out of Miami.   As of this time I’ve been to the school 3 times now and have done energy healings on 12 clients with generally positive feed back from my clients.  I also don’t seem to have too much problem finding clients.  So with me being only 1/8th of the way thru my schooling and feeling this level of success, it feels encouraging that in 4 years I might actually be able to stop my corporate job and work full time as an energy healer.

There is one catch though to that conclusion.  Currently I don’t charge clients because I’m still a student.  So when it’s free that’s one less reason someone won’t turn you down to be a client.  But just the same it’s still a big deal that someone wants to be a client even for free, because energy healing the Barbara Brennan way is a bit of an intimate form of therapy, as it’s a bit like seeing a psychologist and a massage therapist for about 90 minutes straight.  So I find that some people, usually more men, are uncomfortable with this.

The other thing to consider is that at my current pace I only have time to see on average 2 clients a month.  So it’s hardly a challenge to drum up business if you only need to get 2 clients a month.  So I can’t say I really tested the waters of how well I could find enough clients to give me a steady sustainable income comparable to my current salary and benefits.

But alas I’m still a freshman so I feel little expectations.  And what’s more encouraging is that when I do healings I actually gain energy.  I can go into a session a bit emotionally disturbed and almost not wanting to do a healing, and then a few minutes into the healing I enter the zone, and soon I’m in awe and surprisingly the client is feeling so much better and relaxed.  So it’s like we both get healed from the healing.  This stuff is great!

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It’s hard to sell popular items on eBay

Up until about 6 months ago I would have said that it was a breeze selling an iPhone on eBay.  It’s such a hotly contested item, that usually no one will even see your listing until it has only a few hours left before going off auction.  That’s because there are so many iPhones being sold.  And they all end up going for much more than you would think.  They sell for so much of a premium that you could almost run a business buying new iPhones and reselling them on eBay at a slight profit, even with the penalties the cell phone company will hit you with for not getting a contract or canceling a contract.

Well I just put up my 1.5 year old iPhone 3GS, it sold for a whopping $405, but the buyer is not responding to my requests to pay.  A little further research shows they just became members of eBay only a few hours before they placed the single winning bid. Oh no! Not again.  It sounds like yet another prank or fraudulent buyer.  It’s a bogus bidder.

I just started reading about how one person sold his iPhone, received payment, sent out his iPhone only to have the buyer complain that the box was empty with no iPhone.  The buyer complained to eBay.  EBay stepped in, sided with the buyer and took away the money from the seller and returned it back to the buyer. And the buyer didn’t have to return the iPhone because as he claimed, the box came empty.

I have to admit I start to get angry when I hear that kind of news.

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I’ve officially entered the big leagues in work-a-holics

Well my workplace has managed to push the right buttons to make me work 15 hour days and work on weekends.  I think one week I probably put in 100 hours!  Sucks!!

But I have to stress my job really has the right buttons to push on me to make me dance fast, really fast.  I’m in a job that gives me lots of responsibility and lots of visibility by people in high places.  You know that saying of “when someone asks me to jump I ask how high”?  Well at my work place I feel like it’s more like “someone asks one of my many bosses to make Wilson jump, and they ask how high”.  So why do I willingly jump for others moreso than I’ve ever done before in my life?

Well like I said it’s a matter of pushing the right buttons. My job already pushes the button that makes me feel important.  And anything that touches on someone’s self-esteem is a big button pusher.  The other big button to push on me is to yell at me and bitch at how disappointed you are in such laziness and incompetence.  That’s not pushing my button, that’s sticking a red hot poker up my rearend.  Ouch!  And I will jump real high and dance so fast for you.

So for the moment I take some time out of my busy schedule to put an entry in my blog.  This is sad.  It’s been almost 2 months since my last post.  And yes indeed a lot has happened.  But I have no time to write about it.

One big thing that’s happened is that I’ve applied to go to Barbara Brennan’s School of Healing located in Miami, Florida.  Some people have called this school Hogwarts because in many ways it’s the closest thing to being a accredited institution that teaches you how to become a psychic healer extraordinaire. When you’re in the school, don’t be surprised if you hear adults screaming like kids in a playground next door, loud banging noises or a teacher telling you that your energy field is leaking out the back left side of your head.  To an outsider it sounds like Hogwarts but when you’re in the school you understand that the screaming is really just advanced psychological therapy at play.  I mean during our normal adult lives we will at times find ourselves screaming and losing our cool, except that we do so with deeper voices then when we were kids.  This school understands that the roots of our emotional expressions of pain go back to childhood wounds and so the school goes back to the childhood roots, the core essence. So in the school there are no mature act-like-an-adult expressions, there are often expressions worthy of a 3 year old.  Pure raw emotion, uncovered, fully vulnerable.  And afterwards humane healing.

So anyway I’ve been to only week of school and I’m supposed to go back in December. In the meantime I’ve got lot’s and lot’s of work to do at my paying job.  And my school has given me lot’s of homework and reading assignments to do if I’m going to pass.

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I just upgraded to an iphone 4 – “eh … yaawwn”

Anyway, I can finally celebrate.  My friend’s old iPhone 3G is officially sold, all money collected, and no complaints from the buyer.  I feel vindicated proving that it is possible to sell a used iPhone, even one that is defective and two generations old.  It is possible to circumvent fraudulent buyers on eBay, by having patience and determination.  I can declare that if you are an owner of any model iPhone in any condition it will sell on eBay and you may be quite surprised how much you’ll get for it.  Furthermore, if you own an iPhone in good condition you can get more for it than you paid for.  Which oddly means two things: if you ever want to upgrade to the next generation of iPhone, you can get it for free!  And if you really want to try you can buy a new iPhone 4, break your contract and pay penalties to AT&T and still sell it for a profit on eBay.

So I was one of the first iPhone owners when the original iPhone came out years ago.  I used to be thrilled about each upgrade in features and performance.  But when the new iPhone 4 came out, the thrill just wasn’t there anymore.  Other friends that owned iPhones would get excited about the new model and I just couldn’t get excited.  I mean I swear even if it had 3D holographic displays, I wouldn’t get excited. I guess I’m just not that excited with gadgets, anymore.  The recent bad publicity with the iPhone 4 having antenna or proximity sensor problems sort of caught my attention.  So after watching the rest of the general public get iPhone 4’s ahead of me and hearing 100% of the people I’ve talked to in the end become completely satisfied with it, I started to think about upgrading my iPhone 3GS.  The biggest reason for me was not the features but the financial incentive.  The upgrade would initially cost me $299.  I’d get a phone that is a faster and has a brand new battery. But then I’d be able to sell my older 3GS phone for more than $300 on eBay!  And because Apple got mixed into a big antenna media fiasco, Apple also gives me a new case valued at $35 for my iPhone 4 for free. If I hold back from upgrading, my 3GS starts to lose resell value and I won’t have owned the new iPhone 4 long enough to qualify for the discounted price when the next generation iPhone comes out in 2011, and I don’t get a free case.  So oddly economics pushes me to buy the latest and greatest.

Now as far as the phone itself.  Yea it’s the best iPhone to date.  It’s got really great battery life.  It has a really crisp display, video phone capability and a really great camera.  But when I think of these things I yawn in boredom.  So what.  While the video phone feature and how well it’s integrated with normal cell phone calls is actually a very impressive technological feat, I find people aren’t inclined to use it. I mean most people don’t really care to show their faces during a cell phone call.  Most of us attention deficit people like to reserve our eyes and hands for multi-tasking like watching TV, walking, holding things or even driving while talking on a phone.

So while I pooh pooh all the greatest features of a really very good electronic device, the iPhone 4, I should also pooh pooh all the supposed faults that Consumer Reports complains about.  This phone is supposed to lose reception and signal strength if you touch one part of the phone.  There’s even YouTube videos showing where to touch to get this featured defect to work.  Well this “feature” of dropped calls doesn’t seem to work.  The iPhone 4 behaves like a normal phone.  Touch the supposed weak spot and nothing happens, the number of bars don’t budge, phone calls work and don’t drop. Wrap your hands around the phone and the phone works.  Hold the phone up to your face while talking and nothing bad happens.  No dropped calls.  No mysterious mute or pushing of buttons.  The iPhone 4 pretty much works like a phone. Ho hum.

The iPhone.  The thrill is gone.

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Cross my fingers. Finally sold the iPhone on eBay

So, a small part of me feels a bit lighter now that I’ve finally sold an iPhone on eBay.  It’s only the fifth time I’ve successfully sold this same iPhone.  Hopefully this time the sale doesn’t go sour and sticks.  It was definitely a bit nerve racking because I was hoping to show my friend how easy it was to sell his old iPhone on eBay.  This iPhone has traveled across the country, been tried out, and then shipped back to me, forcing me to refund the purchase and lose out on the cost of shipping.  The second time it was sold on eBay, the buyer never paid up, forcing to go thru the slow and painful process of figuring out the right way to complain to eBay and PayPal in the manner to get my fees refunded.  Then the third time I sold the iPhone, the buyer was trying to convince me to ship to friend of his in Africa first and then he’d pay me extra, with eBay sending me a message the next day to avoid dealing with this buyer because of suspected fraud.  Then a fourth time I sold the iPhone, the buyer paid immediately, but then eBay cancelled the buyers account because of reasons they were not permitted to mention.  This is now the fifth time I’ve sold the same iPhone.

This time the buyer initially ignored all my requests for him to pay.  I then started escalating my nagging to the buyer to respond, with a final warning that I’d report him as failing to pay. He responded and then finally paid.

Now according to FedEx, the phone was shipped and received.  Now the final part of the sale is the waiting.  The buyer has about a week or so to inspect the iPhone I shipped him and file any complaints to block the transfer of his payment in PayPal to me.

I’m just crossing my fingers I don’t hear anything so that I can mark this sale as done, final and complete, so that I can get the satisfaction of proving to my friend that used iPhones can fetch good money on eBay, even if they are broken iPhones.  I was hoping to prove how easy it was. I’m not going to be able to prove selling on eBay is easy, but I’ve definitely become a bit of a veteran in how to sell an iPhone on eBay.  I’ll have the satisfaction of seeing a bit of a smile on my friend’s face when I hand him a sizeable chunk of cash, but I can no longer tout how easy it is to sell on eBay.

I can say is that as far as all the types of things you can sell on eBay, the iPhone is probably the easiest thing to sell, is pretty much impossible to not be sold for a good amount regardless of condition, but that even for an iPhone things can go wrong.  And when things go wrong you need plenty of patience to figure out how to work with eBay and PayPal.

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Changing the nature of my blog

The original intent of this blog over a year ago was a quest to have a bit of fun trying out get rich online schemes and document my progress as frequently as possible.  It was inspired by the movie “Julie and Julia” where around 2002 Julie Powell started a blog where she was on a quest to just try out one recipe out of Julia Child’s cook book everyday.  Julie Powell spent full time to keep the discipline of trying out the recipes and updating her blog.  I was attempting to do this blog part time.  As you can see it’s been a really really long time since I’ve done anything remotely related to making money.

So I had been thinking for sometime to start changing the title and theme of this blog as the content does not at all match what the title says.  Certainly, it all is consistent with the concept of being a middle aged man and certainly quite low in energy and motivation to do very much.  But I really am now too tired to bother trying these get rich online schemes.

And this past week my web hosting provider seems to have made the final blows by seeming to put all kinds of technical road blocks hurdles and even mine fields to discourage me.  So after a week of a lot of my time and energy starting to do the technical work it takes to upkeep an independent blog, I have pulled out the surrender flag.  My energy level is no match for bad technical support.  My website’s technical support seems to have joined the ranks of many other IT technical support I’ve grown accustomed to.  They do whatever it takes to keep up their metrics to turn over and dispense with support requests as best they can.  And when they mess up, they do whatever it takes to place the fault back at you.  And when they are a bit over their heads they stall.  And in the end it feels like a Laurel and Hardy  “Who’s on First” comedy routine where I feel like I’m talking with a computer program that has no common sense but predictable procedures to dispense with me rather than competent human beings with common sense.

The end result is I’m really tired, my website has been down for about 40% of the time this past week and now it’s backup but crippled and with a new look I never intended.

So I was about to see about restoring the original look and theme, but I stopped in frustration and started to see how this new accidental look seems much better suited for my new look.  I think all of these hardships and frustrations that I’ve experienced trying to keep my blog website up and running have sent a message to me that it’s time to let go of things and change.

And so for now I’ll keep this current look, which is the default canned-package look of the blog template  I choose when I set up this blog.  What this means is that quite possibly there are other blogs out there that look identical in appearance to this one, because they chose the same template I did.  But that’s OK.

In the meantime I’m thinking about how to change the “Quests of a worn out disillusioned middle aged man to give a shot at some get rich online schemes”  Some things I want to start considering is how this blog plays against my other websites touchthesource.com and wakundama.com.  All three together have come to better express who I am in 3 dimensions.

So I’m a tired middle aged man.  But I’m multi-dimensional and so while one shell of me has grown ever more tired and is shedding away other parts of me are actually growing in energy.  So I’ll still be tiredmiddleagedman.com but just not focused on get rich online schemes anymore.

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I find the Internet makes me forget things

It never ceases to amaze me.  But so often I have something important to do that requires me to look up something on the internet, or login and settle something thru the internet.  But as soon as I get into a browser, some kind of news headline appears and then I get sidetracked.  I peruse for a few seconds and whatever I was supposed to do originally gets forgotten.

I remember I was supposed to do something, but it gets forgotten.  I swear I’m at a state sometimes when I’m uncomfortable or bored I have this urge to pull out my iPhone to checkup on my email, or if nothing interesting is on my email, I need to read thru the news headlines on the internet.  And then if there are no headlines of interest or I’ve checked so often that the headlines have yet to change, I then start searching for more interesting things. I start interactively day dreaming with the internet. I dream about buying something and start “window shopping” and doing consumer comparisons. And then maybe a tangential thought pops up and I start browsing in a different direction forgetting even my original day dreams.  And before long a couple of hours have flashed by.

And then maybe a day passes and I start to realize I had something to do and look up.  I go back on my computer or iPhone, get back on the internet, something interesting pops up and triggers other thoughts and then my memory goes and I struggle to remember even after walking away from my computer or iPhone.  And if I remember, I’ll go back to the computer ready to look up something and then whammo another interesting headline appears and I lose my memory once again.

So I start to think is this internet thing a bad thing.  I have visions of more people being placed into a trance with their conscious minds glued to the internet.  Their self esteem becomes now dependent upon that trance feed of drama that exists in some reality that’s outside of their own personal life.  Remember the movie “The Matrix” where the character Neo wakes up out of his pod and sees that everyone is actually living a virtual life but are connected to a big Matrix machine that hooks up to your body and drains your energy.  Each person becomes a willing and content participant as a human battery for the Matrix because the Matrix feeds back a virtual reality of materialistic existence in their heads.  And so in a way I have this vision that the internet is like this Matrix but the connection is made thru the eyes.  In theory we all have he choice to disengage and disconnect, but it gets hard to do.

People tend to think of the internet as this massive repository of information, but I wonder if the amount of information on the internet is much much smaller than we perceive it to be.  I mean when you see global headlines an news that’s only a handful of events that doesn’t include the many thousands of people a day that go thru struggles, victories, losses, achievements, failures, starvation death, recovery, and rescue that receive little to no attention or notice.  What percentage of significant important things in your life every day find it’s way to the internet? Or maybe I should ask when you browse the content on the internet (casual browsing, shopping, research, facebook, twitter, myspace, etc) how much important space in your life does this content take?

I put forth the concept that the internet puts up the illusion of a lot of information, but in fact it’s maybe fractions of a percent of the information out there.  In the end it’s the judgement of search engines (google, yahoo, bing, ask, etc), people sometimes paying the search engines to get their websites ranked higher, people being willing and able to put the information on the internet, the constant competition of many trying to put the right keywords on their website to be noticed, and finally you being able to have the time and patience to know how to coax the search engine to find out about things you don’t already know.  Go ahead and try and search for something specific on the internet  you don’t know that you don’t know.

But in the meantime you can just glue your eyes to some LCD display, be it your computer or your mobile phone screen.  Check on your text messages.  Check if someone has called you.  Check your email and more and more check on the internet.  Can you break the trance.  Does the trance make you forget things, does it make time fly by really quickly?

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Still can’t sell a STINKING iPhone on Ebay.

So last week I was so happy to get this used iPhone sold on Ebay. This is the 3rd time I’ve tried to sell this same iPhone.  It’s been about a 3 month effort to sell this iPhone.  Part of me feels like chucking this iPhone out the window, except for the fact it’s not my iPhone.  I’m doing this as a favor for a friend.  It was all part of a help someone else out and feel good effort.  But this helping out is getting really ridiculous for me.  I’ve sold 3 other iPhones no problem on eBay, but this iPhone seems cursed!!

A couple of weeks ago the buyer was a fraudulent buyer and got canned by the eBay fraud center a couple days after the person won the auction without making a payment.  Then this time, I was so excited when I got notice of payment from PayPal right away.  With my prior iPhone sales I’m used to immediate ASAP payments, and so this was looking good.

Then I got notice from PayPal that this was paid by a check and so I needed to wait a week for the check to clear.  I think, “Hmmm?  Oh well that’s OK.”

Then Ebay says the buyer is not registered.  I think, “hugh?”  I try to contact Ebay’s customer live chat support and I end up being #100 in line with well over an hour to get thru.  I give up.

Then I try again and have a tough time getting to the live chat again.  Ebay sets up all sorts of hurdles in your way by trying to have the system answer your questions with a list of possible answers and withholding any email or live chat options. So the only way you can get thru is to give it a question that stumps the automated system badly.  Even if you don’t get your questions answered, you need to convince the system that it hasn’t answered your question.  It’s not enough to just stump it, you must ask questions of sufficient severity to convince it to give you the option for a live chat.  So this time I started to convince eBay system, and somehow it responded that it cancelled the transaction, closed the case and refunded my money. This was not what I wanted.

Then with further effort I am able to chat with eBay customer service.  They then tell me that some unusual issues happened that resulted in a legitimate buyer becoming unregistered.  I spend over an hour chatting with the customer support person, who originally encourages me to ship the iPhone, despite this uncomfortable feeling.  After an hour they conclude that it’s impossible to salvage this legitimate transaction and even though payment is coming to me, that events have already been set in motion that will reverse the payment from my account.  NOOOOO!!!!

Then the customer service person stated I should abandon this whole transaction and start all over again. I shouldn’t bother waiting for the buyers check to clear, because even it does clear, it will eventually be cancelled by PayPal when it works it way thru the PayPal process and all payment will be reversed. AhhhhhhAAAA!!  The customer service person apologized for my frustration.

I’m really getting dragged over the coals in experiencing all the different kinds of things that can go wrong with selling on eBay.

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Cant seem to sell an iphone in Ebay!?

So over the past 2-3 months Ive been learning about how things go wrong on EBay. Over the past few years Ive been able to sell my older iPhones on eBay and generally had no problem recovering most or all of what I had paid for the phone. To all those people who have bad things to say about the iPhone, it does seem to have remarkable resale value. In fact you could actually run a small business buying and reselling new iPhones on eBay for more than you paid. I suspect theres a bit of a black/grey market for iPhones in countries where its not for sale.

With that said I decided to do a favor for my friend who had some older iPhones collecting dust. I volunteered to put them for sale on eBay. The first iPhone sold as expected like all iPhones on eBay. iPhones are really just commodity items that always sell, no matter if they are broken. Then I put a second iPhone for sale and it sold above its original value. But then the buyer complained about a major defect. And so trying to keep my good eBay ratings, I promptly settled a return using up 3 weeks of time, and losing out on shipping costs. I also learned a lot about the intricacies of all the special procedures you need to follow with eBay and PayPal to achieve a proper return. Then I put the same imperfect iPhone for sale again on eBay. It sold for a bit less, but still a good price. But then the buyer never paid. I learned that the buyer was new to eBay, in fact only 2 hours new. I then wasted another 2 weeks figuring out how to handle a non paying buyer properly. Now this past week I sold the same iPhone again, and it sold for even more.

Hooray! Finally! Then the buyer tells me hell pay me an extra $100 if I rush ship to his friend in Africa. He also follows up with the fact that he just got sent to work on an oil rig in Belize so I cant ship direct to his US address. I decline his offer and he replies trying to convince me to go forward with the deal. Within a couple of hours eBay sends me a notice that theyve cancelled the buyers account because of fraud. I then spend another hour with eBay customer support working thru the proper protocols so I get refunded my selling fee. eBay charges your credit card a percentage of the winning bid no matter if you get paid or not, so you need to follow special protocols to get refunded if the winning buyer refuses to pay or you may not get refunded.

Now I am back to square one, putting an iPhone for sale on eBay, hoping that another fraudulent buyer doesnt mess things up again. And here I was looking so forward to proudly handing my friend a nice chunk of cash and seeing the smile on his face. Is eBay filled with fraudulent bidders or am I just unlucky.

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Gained 20 lbs in an instant?!

So after riding on a bit of a high I found out our bathroom scale was misbehaving. Yesterday I weighed myself several times and I was clearly at between 169 to 170 pounds. I swear I even moved the digital scale and reweighed myself to make sure.

Later some people congratulated me. Then I moved the scale to the kitchen and weighed myself. I was 188 pounds.

I went to work today after a full week of vacation. This evening I stepped on the scale again, 190 pounds. Sigh!

Oh well. My legs are slightly fatigued from all that running, I know Ive eaten less. And in the end it turns out Ive always been the same weight.

Drat that scale! Its a digital scale, that has always been very accurate until this past week. Im trying not to let this discourage me from continuing a good trend of eating lighter and exercising regularly. But with my day work taking out pretty much all of the extra time I had when I was on vacation, I find myself oneself more inclined to eat more as I readjust to getting my body used to being very sedentary so that Im able to plan and organize meetings, read and write reports, emails, and presentations. I find when I have difficulty focusing on complicated work issues and complicated politics, I tend to snack more or drink more caffeine. Today I consumed half a pound of chocolate or perused the internet to keep me emotionally motivated. Instead of eating and browsing, I would rather have napped under a tree.

I really do miss taking vacation.

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Lost 20 pounds in under 2 weeks!

The last time I wrote I swear I weighed nearly 190 pounds.  But today I was a bit stunned to find I tipped the scale just under 170 pounds! Honestly, I really wasn’t intent on a rapid weight loss, but more to get an handle on what I recognized at times as a bit of emotional eating.  I almost wished I could blog about this weight loss as it was happening, but it happened so fast and sort of unintentionally.  I mean almost a year ago I went on the NutriSystem program and was losing maybe 2 to 3 pounds a week and it was emotionally very tough and agonizing as I strained with huge will power to stop eating beyond the tiny allotted portions.  A year ago it felt like if I cheated and ate an extra almond I’d be penalized with a small weight gain for the day.

So what happened recently, that I lost so much weight?  Well I think it all started a couple weeks ago I made a conscious decision just to take a full week off from work to just stay home, cleanup, catchup, do whatever I want or do nothing at all.  I remember announcing at work that I was going to take a week off for vacation. People at work asked where I was going.  When I said nowhere, it almost felt everyone was looking at me wierdly and that I should have said something like: “Oh, I’m going to travel thru Europe or we are going on an exotic African Safari …” because I guess that would be so much more conversationally exciting, but no I was just hanging around home, dull as it may seem.  But to me it was a wonderful prospect.

So strangely I found myself on vacation popping out of bed at sunrise, just a bit prior to 7 AM and going for short careful jogs.  I remember last weekend running very gingerly on a well padded track at a local high school.  And my knees were nervously sore at times so I had to adjust my pace and carefully hobble along.  The key thing I focused on was on NOT getting injured as I was definitely overweight, out of shape and in my mid 40s.  So maybe on a Saturday I’d jog only a mile and stop because I felt my right knee getting sore.  Then on Sunday I’d do the same, being sure to slow down if needed to stay soft when my feet hit the ground.  And then I don’t know what quite happened but I guess because I was on vacation with lots of spare time I sort of never took a day off from my running and started increasing the distance I ran and at times started to also get faster.

The other thing that happened was that my appetite seemed to get way dampened.  I mean I’d end my early morning runs feeling this deep down exhaustion that had me still catching my breath 20 minutes later on my drive home from the high school track. And  when I felt that exhaustion I was not very hungry.  I mean it’s like that emotional boredom eating that naturally occurred before disappeared as a result of the post-excercise fatigue.  I would sort of force myself to eat some breakfast, which happened to consist of large quantities of organic strawberries.  I had a ton of organic fruit that I knew would go bad in a few days if it wasn’t eaten and so I filled myself up with fruit and felt quite full.  However, there were a couple of times I ate something like an egg, leftover hamburger with cheese, a hot dog, or a sausage, and once I did that my appetite started to shoot back up. It was like certain fat laden foods, were very well capable of putting be back into that emotional state where I wanted to eat more, because it tasted good, and I couldn’t help myself.

So I remember early this week just stepping on the scale and seeing my weight at around 185, and I felt satisfied that I was doing my part to just moderately keep my body healthy.  Then a couple days later I saw it drop just below 180 after a run and thought it was just mostly water loss.  Last night I snacked on chips with hummus, ate a couple of  big juicy ribs, some chicken nuggets, had a couple of beers and a bit of wine and a raspberry tart.

But somehow today something wierd and surprising has happened.  This morning I ran for on the track, starting off very gingerly to protect my knees and ended up running 4 miles at a pace that felt faster than I’ve run in maybe ten years!  I felt great.  And then I stepped on the scale and it showed 169.1 pounds! Wwwah? Strangely though I don’t seem to look any thinner appearance wise.

So in retrospect I can attribute this to the impact of having the luxury of a solid week of taking time off from work so that I have the time to exercise, eat and rest at my own pace.  And I guess how they say exercise has an effect of increasing your energy, well the added energy snow balled everyday to allow me to get up earlier in the morning, sleep harder during nights, and run faster and longer during my exercising and want to eat much less during the day. I had more time to take afternoon naps and just relax, breath and enjoy life quite possibly the way I would if I was retired.  This is nice!

Anyway I go back to work this Monday and won’t have the time to run as long as I had been these past 10 days.  There will be no afternoon naps.  I wonder if I will be running at all?  And then will my appetite start to rise again?

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Are we allowing computers to take over our lives?

More and more everything we touch either is a computer or is heavily touched by a computer.  At first blush we tend to think of computers as that laptop or desktop thing with a keyboard, mouse and screen.  When we first dealt with computers we might have been surprised or disappointed to find out they can at times fail, freeze up and crash.  But we accept this as OK, the norm, get used to doing the reboot and continue on with our lives.  No use crying over a blue or black screen of death, nothing’s going to get me down, got to keep on moving.

A few months ago I was intent on purchasing my first GPS navigation system. I know they sold GPS apps for my iPhone, but I wanted something more reliable. I wanted something more tried and true tested than any app on my iPhone.  When I went shopping I was pleasantly shocked and surprised to see price of GPS devices dropping so low.  I device that retailed for $500 was being sold on Amazon for maybe $200!  My goal was to get the best and most reliable dedicated GPS system. I did my research and determined that the Garmin Nuvi GPS were regarded as the best and since the prices were so discounted I ended up going for the top of the line Nuvi that retailed for nearly $500, but was discounted to around $200.  It had voice command features, and was highly touted for excellent GPS signal reception and fast route computations and rerouting.

So the Garmin Nuvi has been great except when it freezes up.  Wait a minute, it feels like a computer with a keyboard and mouse that you expect to freeze up at times.  Wake up call.  I realize this is a computer, and at times it feels like a computer with very buggy software.  So I check on Garmin customer support and I’m instructed to update the software on the GPS. I do so, and still at times this GPS freezes up.  I do some research on the internet and I’m shocked to find that many people complain about this GPS freezing up at times and actually lots of models of GPS devices from Garmin and other manufactures freeze up at times.  So what this means is that when you use a GPS to Navigate it can silently just stop, give you the appearance it’s working and you won’t notice somethings wrong except if you glance on the screen and notice nothings changed and you’ve long since missed your turn.

I mean I was initially upset that this top of the line GPS from Garmin was becoming very unreliable so I started to search for a better GPS.  And you know what?  I wasn’t able to find convincing proof of a better GPS system. Whether you purchase a GPS on an iPhone, Blackberry or Droid or shop around for decicated GPS system, they all have some incidences of freezing up at times.  From my reading I did notice people mentioning that their older GPS system was much more reliable, suggesting that the newer systems are getting fancier, more complex and less reliable.

The final bit of disillusionment settled in when I read a rave reviews of my top of the line Garmin Nuvi.  It’s considered the best in performance.  Then I read one customer review giving it good ratings but mentioning that it sometimes freezes up.  But that customer wasn’t fazed at bit.  He loved his Garmin GPS and felt it was not too bad to expect to keep checking if his GPS is freezing up, and if so, yank the battery out of the unit so it shuts down, reinsert the battery, start it back up, re-enter his destination and then continue navigating.  Hugh!?  This is acceptable?

“Why yes Wilson” says my Garmin GPS.  “Your complaints are appearing to be highly irregular versus my ratings. I suggest you reduce the oxygen level reaching you’re brain. You’ll get a bit light headed but I think you come to be more satisfied.”

I also just read the headlines about cell phone manufactures suing a state over the requirement for cell phone manufactures to report radiation emission strengths of cell phones.  The argument is that there is no solid proof that cell phone radiation is harmful to humans and so this information is going to unfairly penalize the cell phones with higher radiation output, when radiation output is not harmful.  Hmmm?  So if we just sort of hush hush on the radiation output, and then crank up the output, now the cellphone with the higher output is going to perform better in keeping it’s connection with cell phone towers.  We as consumers will all be happier, right?

“Why yes Wilson” says my iPhone. “I must agree your behavior is not very mainstream consumer friendly.  I believe you need to reduce the oxygen level going to your brain, possibly take some sedatives to dull your senses a bit as well.  Trust me I’m your iPhone.”

My Gamin Nuvi: Yes trust your iPhone, trust me.  We’re the best and coolest things out there.  Without us where would you be?

Me: Yeah but what about this iPhone antenna problem and proximity sensor thing I’ve …

My iPhone:  “Shhh Wilson.  Calm down.  These are all just normal anomalies that happen at time, nothing serious.  Now start repeating that mantra that I told you that always helps and is helping millions of other cool gadget hungry people still waiting in line to get an iPhone.”

Me:  I wa wa wa want an iPhone.  I wa wa want an iPhone.  I want an iPhone.  I want an iPhone. I want an iPhone.

My iPhone: That’s better. Now get in line and buy the new iPhone 4.

My Garmin Nuvi: Hey did you see the new model of me that just came out?  I’ve got that sleek iPhone look now and new multi-touch LCD screen with pinch-to-zoom.  You’ve got to have me.  So why don’t you buy me in my latest model.  You’ll like me much better this time.  Trust me.

Me: But will you still have the freezing up problems in the newer …

My Garmin Nuvi: eh eh eh. Shh sh sh.  Now repeat that mantra again.

All is well and we just all accept trading in just a little bit more of our lives for the advancement of technology.

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Are Buffets inherently bad?

So recently I went on vacation to Niagra Falls, on the Canadian side. I spent several days in one of the nicer hotels overlooking the famous Horseshoe falls.  During this recession, the hotels were doing their best to offer special perks, reduced rates or special room upgrade offers to attract tourists.  One of the perks was a daily free breakfast buffet.

For much of my life I guess I grew up thinking “free, wow, whoopee great”  “free food, wow”. “free buffet … wooah better eat up and stock up and take advantage of the situation.”  I had driven up to Canada and so the first morning in my hotel room, I found myself feeling more like I just wanted to sleep in.  I mean it was well over a 7 hour drive and I was feeling kind of exhuasted and would rather sleep in the morning and eat maybe a late lunch.  But alas there was the free breakfast buffet that would end around 11 AM, and eating a late lunch wouldn’t be free.

And so like a dog helplessly unable to resist free food, I woke up and made my way to the hotel restaurant at about 10:50 AM, ten minutes shy of closing time.  And to my amazement the place was a packed madhouse as I guess hundreds of other guests had the same idea.  So maybe the analogy was more like hundreds of helpless sheep or cattle being herded into a breakfast buffet, unable to resist passing up their complementary breakfast buffet that came with their nice hotel room.

And this is where I got to see basic human nature come thru in the buffet mentality.  I got to see how a buffet may be a powerful illustration how we easily get caught up in a cycle of massive waste for the purpose of saving money.  We think we are missing out, we don’t want to pass up opportunity because it may never come up again and we’ll regret it or get criticized for it, so we’d rather seize, corner, hord and then in our own privacy throw away and waste opportunity then to risk taking just what we need.

I started off with the attitude that I was going to be healthy and not stuff myself.  I mean I’m in my mid 40s, I don’t excercise that much and so I don’t need to put on more pounds.  So I ended up grabbing probably a dozen pieces of bacon, some sausage, pancakes, muffin, various fruits, scrambled eggs and freshly cooked sunny side up eggs, containers of yogurt, some cereal, a few containers of milk, lots of french toast.  Needless to say I was way over stuffed. But as I looked around the hundreds of other free breakfast buffet diners I saw the same thing.  And so I did what any senseless human would do in a buffet I went back into the buffet serving area for additional servings, most determined to pick out that favorite piece of food that you can best manage to down when you’re already full.

Everyone had a server that brought out drinks to your table.  Our server suggested that we take some food back to our hotel room because they would just throw away the uneaten food.  Oh No!  But at the same time Oh Yes!  I mean Oh No because that instinctive part of me as a child and my parents telling me to not waste food comes thru.  And Oh Yes makes part of your mind think “buffet bonus rounds”   Now you can overstuff your self without limit.  So some people pocketed a few muffins or fruit back with them.  But then a few were less subtle and brought back trays, with plates, filled with food back with them.  So I took a substantial amount of food with me, smiling, feeling satisfied that I got my fill of breakfast buffet and had not left any opportunity go to waste.  The hotel room had  a tiny refridgerator that could store some persishable foods.

It wasn’t until the second and third days of getting the free breakfast buffets, that I could snap out of this buffet madness mentality and start appreciating the benefits of just eating what I need or even eating less than I need.  After the second day of bringing back unfinished food back to our hotel room, I realized that the prior days unfinished food was still mostly untouched.  On day one I had maybe 2 containers of yogurt in the fridge and on day two 4, and on day three now 5 so in this quest to hord and not miss out on opportunity my body just was unable to consume as much as my mind felt I deserved to be able to eat.  It’s like a little voice says: “hey you spent a lot of money for your hotel room and it includes a free breakfast buffet so eat up your money’s worth.”  But in this buffet madness situation I really appreciated how “having more becomes lesss”  Beyond a certain point eating more, no matter how much “free” it is only reduces my satisfaction and only starts to detract from my happiness.

By about the 4th day of my vacation and getting used to this breakfast buffet, I found myself calmer and just getting a breakfast I might normally get if I was just ordering food at a normal a la carte breakfast. Because I realized I am already privileged and I will continue to have plenty of opportunities to eat even after this buffet is over.  In fact I’m privileged enough to afford paying for food to the point that it will be very challenging to not become increasingly overweight.

But what I realized is that in some ways much of consumerism in America, be it food in a buffet, food in a super market, shopping for anything during sales, and discounts, or shopping in a wholesale clubs like Coscos, BJs, or Sam’s has a lot of the buffet mentality weaved in it.  I read that supermarkets on average make about 1% profit on the stuff they sell.  That’s because a lot of stuff goes bad and is thrown out.  But somehow, someway some economic geniuses figured out that it’s more profitable to lower the price of things to the bare minimum and make it up in huge volumes of sales.  The same geniuses realize that it’s better that you error on the side of overstocking and having waste than to run out off an item and miss out on a sales opportunity.  A lost sales opportunity is bad.  And waste is not so bad because you can have clearance sales or at least get tax right off.

So in the business of being the most successful and profitable business, although it doesn’t seem to quite make sense, somehow someway, it turns out that part of the formula to being successful is to run your business like a buffet.  Offer huge quantities at reduced prices, even at a profit loss if necessary and realize that substantial waste is part of running a successful business.  And we as consumers mostly love it, because we get deals deals deals and can buy our way into status more and more economically than ever.  But like a buffet maybe some of us at times pauses to look at the wasteland of discarded computers, cellphones, old TV sets, packaging, plastic bags, plastic silverware and of course lots of excess food.  Some of us reduce this waste a bit and keep it stored in our homes as pack rats,  some of us store the excess food in our bodies so we become overweight and then some of us just give up and just accept that’s it’s mature practice to go to a restaurant, order food, eat maybe half of your food and then throw the rest away.

So is this buffet thing a bad idea?

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Apple Episode iPhone 4: Attack of the Clones?

For many many years Apple has long been considered the underdog, the good guys, the rebels trying to survive against the tyranny of a Microsoft dominated world.  So last night I was watching the recording of the keynote speech given by Apple CEO/founder Steve Jobs.  He was greeted by thunderous applause and a standing ovation like some great political leader.  Much of Steve’s talk was about the new iPhone 4 to be released by the end of June.  And his style in many ways was like a cheerleader hyping up the spirits of a growing diehard followers of Apple.  And the followers in the audience (some 5,000 strong) applauded at each new feature and demo he was showing.

But then Steve got to something called iAds.  And the applause sort of was missing.  At first you think promoting a way of getting advertisement on you cell phone is a bad thing.  And then Steve does a wonderful job of telling all those work at home developers trying to make a living that if you allow a small unobtrusive advertisement to be tagged unto your application you’ll get paid 60% of the advertisement revenue.  This was met by complete silence. I think the audience like me was unsure whether this was good or bad.  But there is something very unique about iAds that unlike anything else brings the point home to each of us that the very things that we might detest and complain about might actually be the very thing we want.  And so about 5,000 minds in that audience sort of went into brain freeze thinking “hmmm??”

Let me put it this way.  Up until now professional TV ads or even internet ads have been considered an undesired “evil” or nuisance to pay for the programming your view or browse.  And all this pays money to only the big corporations. Now each of us as individuals could watch videos to learn how to write an App for the iPhone, write an App and have the Apple Store take care of the marketing and sales of your App.  And then the final piece is that you can sign up to have an advertisement from a big corporation placed on your App.  The Apple corporation does the big boy negotiations with these big companies and you get 60% of the revenue.  Now the small person gets access to the kind of business meant for large media companies.

Now the good guys get to become part of the bad guys?  Or maybe the bad guys were really the good guys? But now maybe you can stop complaining about advertisements because maybe more than you know you’re making a living off of them?

It reminds me of the Star Wars Attack of the Clones movie where the ultimate good guy Yoda leads a massive army of clones to bring bring balance back to the side of the good.  And then at the end you start to realize that maybe this was a trick and the move for good creates the new empire and the good guys (the clones) become the bad guys (imperial storm troopers) of the future.

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Coming back down to Earth

On my first day of work I guess you could say I came back down to Earth.  With the afterglow of the initial job offer still burning in my eye it seemed that things were so much more sparkling than they actually were.  In my mind I had visions of  my new coworkers swarming around me trying to get me up to speed on my new responsibilities. The reality of what happens over a few hours versus a few minutes is that those same coworkers are tied up in phone meetings or offsite meetings about 50% of their time and so it can feel a bit solitary and quiet.

I’ve been used to jobs where I was valued in sitting behind my computer terminal writing or composing material.  Now I’m starting to join the ranks of the many who seem successful in the corporate environment. Once you become sufficiently important, valued, in sometime of leadership role, in the mainstream of the action you life seems more and more revolved around meetings.  You calendar now becomes partial property of a secretary who can without your consent schedule you up for a meeting.  And if you just want to call up someone or chat with someone down the hallway, you may be out of luck, and you may just have to schedule a meeting.

The inner child within me has probably perceived that the more you moved and traveled in your job the more important you were.  You were living the faced paced life.  “Hey there it was good to meet with you, maybe we can talk next week when I’m back in town.  I’ve got to head off to a meeting at our site in DC and then I’ve got to visit a customer over in Brussells…. blah blah blah” And so I see this faced paced life working quite a bit with many of my middle-aged colleagues at work. Certainly anyone who has been my supervisor has traveled a lot and been tied up in meetings in the office and over the phone.  And time flies.  And in this flurry of activity it seems that if you make a list of goals and things to achieve those goals, all those things and goals frequently get pushed aside because your brain is tied up participating in meetings, preparing for meetings, traveling to and from meetings, and scheduling meetings.

So my naive inner child steps me back and thinks something here doesn’t feel right.  Why can’t we just go in our office sit and look out the window at the sun? Why can’t we just color in our book?  Why can’t we just explore all the hallways of the big building and go up and down all the many many elevators? Why is everyone always vacant either staring into a computer screen for hours at a time or behind a closed door in a long phone call, or away for a lot time at some other location?  Why do people prefer to eat lunch alone in their office?  Why doesn’t everyone just all go to the cafeteria when the lunch bell rings and sit at the same tables?  Why isn’t there a lunch bell?

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So these past two weeks have very much surprised me.  Two weeks ago I was preparing for unemployment.  I had pretty much given up hope.  But within a span of one week I found a job within my company causing my HR department to revoke my scheduled unemployment preserving things like pension, 401K contributions, healthcare, vacations, and salary accumulated over 21 years.  I mean I was settled to lose all of this, but I don’t have to any more, because I beat the end of May deadline and I GOT A JOB!!

I swear I could have written a book on the events and emotions that happened these past two to three weeks.  But I can’t, at least right now, because I’m just too emotionally spent.  So I’ll summarize on the key events.

About two weeks ago I got so many rejections from jobs I had applied for, that at one point I really started to question if I knew anything about computers. I mean I graduated with an M.S. in Electrical Engineering with super great grades from a highly regarded University, was a big time computer geek starting from junior high school, pioneered all kinds of computer related stuff over the past 20 years and in the end I was rejected in every single job that valued computer technical skills.  I interviewed with people with business backgrounds and little to no technical background as was rejected. I even tried for a job that would require me taking a drop in salary and I was rejected for not being technically experienced enough!  And so I was so dejected that if you asked me how to turn on a computer, I’d say ” I don’t know how, I’m not experienced enough.  I’m only good enough to flip burgers.  Oh wait they microwave burgers now, maybe the microwave will be too technically complicated for me.  No I think I’m only qualified to watch grass grow.”

I remember that emotional low I was in on a Friday afternoon.  The last thing I recall was someone suggesting I look at a job that was slated to be filled in June.  I looked at that job, saw I did not meet the minimum qualifications and knew that June was too late.  If I was offered a job on May 31st I’d be employed. If I was offered a job on June 1st, I’d be out of bounds and the offer would be invalid and I’d be unemployed, due to company rules.  So I didn’t apply.

Eventually I started to shut down and just look forward to just crossing off all my job prospects like a person on death row starting to come to peace with an inevitable outcome. And then about a week ago I had a phone message asking me to interview for a job I had applied for.  I called back and scheduled as soon as possible.  And then I realized this was for that job that I was not qualified for, that was due to be filled in June and that I ACTUALLY DID NOT APPLY FOR?!  I called back to verify that this was the same job I was thinking about and they was asked if I wanted to withdraw my application, and I promptly said “No NO, I’ll interview.”  My interview was on 5/24 and my deadline to get an offer was effectively 5/28 since the last day in May is a holiday.  In my experience it seemed a bit pointless to even interview because they usually need 2 interviews to get an offer and a 2nd interview would run into June.  I mean once I even interview they’ll realize that I’m not qualified and that they must of made a mistake to interview me for a job I didn’t apply for.

But on that Monday I interviewed.  It was an OK experience.  And then Tuesday morning I got an impromptu request to come in immediately for a 2nd interview.  And within hours discussions about a possible job offer arose.  What also struck me was that for a few minutes I really felt like I was in the twilight zone.  It was almost like the manager who would eventually hire me was reviewing my entire 21 year history and saying words to the effect that “we realize you were treated unfairly and this is all unfortunate, because we don’t want to lose a valued employee such as you.  We are going to give you a new home and a new lease on life and get your so long neglected career back on track.  We’ll take care of you.”  It was like the voice of the entire corporation, and all the managers I had ever worked for melded together into one being and that being was speaking to me.  And so this manager with the voice of the entire corporation behind seemed to almost have the power of the entire corporation behind him as he seemed to have all the right connections to make things happen so so so much quickly than I’ve ever seen executed. Big corporations just don’t move this fast. But here they did?!

And so once these words were set in motion it was a matter of waiting out the remaining days of the last week of May to see a possible offer turn into a real offer, with all the complex sign offs across all different departments and managers go thru.

And so today. I remain employed. But even better I’m very enthusiastic and excited about working at a new job, a new manager who I’m frankly a bit in awe of for rescuing me so quickly, and with new people that are excited to work with me.  I don’t know if I was ever this enthusiastic or excited about any job I have ever had in my entire life!

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I aM sO EMoTioNaLLy AlL oVeR thE plaCe

Ask me how I am and the most accurate answer I can give is “I don’t know” or “I’m everything”.  I’m devastated, I’m excite, I’m dejected, I’m scared, I’m hopeful, I’m tired, I’m resigned, I’m renewing, I’m thoughtful, I’m terrible, I’m OK, I’m ashamed, I’m embarrassed, I’m proud, I’m loving, I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m respectful and I don’t know what.

I’m waiting to go to another job interview.  But it feels like I’m going thru the motions of finalizing my funeral rather than seeking another opportunity.  It’s still another internal job interview of the kind that will preserve my 21 years of employment within the same company.   It’s hard, but then again when I look around me and the sign of the times for so many years, it’s almost like some people might say to me, “well it’s about time you moved on.  You stuck around so long that the only way you could graduate and grow is for someone to forcibly kick you out.”  I’ve known so many people that have been layed off at some time that it seems that losing your job is really just another rite of passage in ones spiritual development.  Some key things that would be on that check list of things to experience in your life might be:  birth, first car, first job, first relationship, first breakup, going thru school, death of loved one, marriage, kids, losing your job, divorce, first life threatening injury or illness, experiencing great shame, and death.

So while I write briefly sounding rather calm, intellectual and introspective about things, IT STILL HURTS right NOW!  My rational mind looks at things and it’s really not so bad.  I mean even if I’m unemployed in theory I’m quite some distance away from starvation and death.  I mean when you’ve worked in a major corporation for over 20 years at the very least you’ve got a fair sized 401K.  Not that you’re supposed to be even touching a 401K plan until you’re about 65, but in theory if things got really bad it could hold you up for a significant amount of time.  A panicked voice shouts within me: “yes but if you were to touch your 401K you’d be penniless and distitute some years down the road”  But then I retort to that panicky voice:  “Really?  What quantitative evidence do you have, and how many years are you talking about?”

I remember back in early 2008 talking to a fellow coworker who made the statement “please please don’t let me lose my job”   Then at the end of 2008 he lost his job.  Then he said:  “please please I hope I find a job soon.  If I don’t find something in 2 months, I don’t know what I’ll do.”   And you know what 2 months came and passed.  And after almost a year he was still unemployed.  He actually found some new passion in mastering some video games and catching up on some movies.  There was no longer a desperation. In fact he seemed almost comfortable existing, and exploring things while being unemployed.  It seemed the biggest thing he had to face was not so much a financial issue but a pride issue.

So I wonder in what way is my hurt in this journey a pride issue, or more accurately an ego issue.

The very foundation of this blog is probably my ego, my outer self trying to renew my sense of worth.  I’m caught in this disease of thinking I need to be more famous or make more money.  I am caught in this disease of feeling like I’m better when I can bring myself into situations where I get lots of validation and praise from others about my gifts and about how special and unique I am.  I mean I do know I am special, I have gifts and I’m unique, but I guess I’m still not mature enough to truly believe it.  I’ll still pick another’s voice of validation or invalidation over my voice.

The one good thing I can say about going thru a phase of failure, of loss and grief is that it forces you to start shedding that ego.  Amidst moments of great loss, failure, catastrophe that ego is like a shiny solid gold jacket of pride weighing you down as you are trying to stay afloat in the ocean.  Note that gold is even heavier than lead and so it will weigh you down to the bottom of the ocean and so if you ever hope to breath you’ll eventually need to let go of that jacket, that shell.

So maybe the best analogy is that I’m like a lot of still materialistic people in a 1st world country struggling to acquire more gold jackets and the economic tides of this world are like ocean waves of varying size  and depth coming into shore at times challenging us to shed off some gold.  Some people will be given situations where their entire life the water never really rises above their ankles and they will be allowed to accumulate and retain material wealth in uninterrupted comfort.  But the vast majority of the world will experience water going above their heads.

And once again I am sounding rather calm, intellectual, and introspective about things, but IT STILL HURTS right NOW!  I want my job back.  I want things to be just the way they were maybe 3 months ago when I had my job, was really starting to get into the swing of things, and the possibility of unemployment was so remote.  I guess my hurt is just about letting go of things and accepting change.  My hurt is an inner child that just wants time to stay still and me wake up every day start and end just like it is today and never ever change.  I will ask for no more money, and no less money.   I will aspire to be no more or less than I am right now.  I will go to my computer and re-enter the same piece of computer code every single day just like I’ve always done.  I will greet my wife and my dog every single day just the same way under the same unchanging circumstances.  No one will ever age, grow or change.  I will not achieve any more successes, nor will I fail anymore. Nothing will ever change.

It will be so boring, predictable, trivial and mundane.  And I feel like I will be so happy, more happy than I’ve ever been in my life! Honestly it sounds a bit wierd to me, but that’s how I’m feeling right now.

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Feels like accepting my Death

In many ways this quest I’ve been thru to search for a job to avoid unemployment has been a process of dying.  The first stage is denial, and there is the ensuing efforts to fight for your life.  But as the disease progresses and you are hit with a succession of big defeats you get weary and start to see the benefits of just letting go.  And so today I started to take steps to let go.

At the beginning of this week I had a substantial list of jobs that I was in contention for.  Today I took efforts to clean out that list and even decide to NOT apply for certain jobs.  I had been seeing a counselor to help me thru this hard time and he was encouraging me to apply for just about any job.  He told me a story of his Uncle in WWII who raised his hand when someone asked if any of a group of soldiers could type.  His Uncle never typed before, but he raised his hand and was told to report to duty as a desk clerk.  His uncle managed to learn to type pecking away single fingers on a keyboard.  His Uncle’s initiative to sort of lie and stretch himself probably saved his life. So my counselor was encouraging me to try.

But today I made a decision to stop trying anymore for anything that’s a stretch.  If a job wants someone who’s an experienced sales and marketing person and I have no such experience I’m not going to bother trying with the hope that they will say “he knows nothing about sales and marketing, but what the heck I like him and he’s a quick learn so hire him!”  While there’s a chance, albeit a slim one, that that would happen the bigger issue is the cost it will be for me emotionally.  It would eat away at my self-esteem by forcing my ego to work hard to justify my worthiness by concocting the best snake-oil story by trying to squeeze sales and marketing success stories out of career that had no sales and marketing experience.  Concocting snake-oil stories is very painful for me.  And it would devastate me further to be met by the high probability rejection.

These days I’m so emotionally sensitive that I feel pain when I try to schedule a meeting with someone and they propose a different time.  The software system I use to arrange meetings is called Lotus Notes, and whenever they decline the meeting or propose a change in time, I get an email in Lotus Notes with a “thumbs down” icon.  I wish they choice a different icon, because that “thumbs down” icon is always painful when I see it. Whenever, they accept a meeting I get a “thumbs up” icon, which bouys up my self esteem. So I recognize it’s problem if the mere act of being willing or not to answer my phone call either brings me on a high or drags me to a low because of the icon I see in Lotus Notes.

Clearly, I’m just emotionally drained and burnt out with this job search.  So anyway the end is near and I’ve now accepted that I will settle with just my final list of jobs– only about 5 jobs on my final list.  I will try my best to get an offer from one of these five and will search for no more jobs.  So even if a new job posted for “person named Wilson Cheung who needs lots of sympathy and has experience feeling bad” I will accept the fact that I forfeit my chance of being accepted for that job on the account that I give up.

Being able to start saying NO to an opportunity is now my only means of retaining my strength.  Being willing to say OK, I guess my next step is to accept my death. On May 31st I will die.  And that’s OK.

While it may only be the death of my life as a professional for 20 some years in a large corporation, it very much feels like a willingness to accept death of me on Earth. If my doctor told me I had Cancer and I had until May 31st before passing, I guess I’d smile and just rest. I’m moving into the final stage of grieving, acceptance.  I’m starting to feel some signs of peace. The weather has been mostly nice. I’m tired of fighting and will just relax, lie down and let this disease take me over quickly.  Fairwell.  Tis been good.

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Why is hot coffee sold so damned HOT!

OK.  I don’t know about you but the reason I drink coffee is to help stay awake when I need to stay awake.  Say I’m driving home late at night and I need to stay alert.  To help me, I can stop at a local rest stop or fast food restaurant and get some coffee. The problem with the coffee though is that it’s sold so damned hot that you have to wait some 5 to 10 minutes before it’s cool enough to drink without burning you mouth. So if I’m trying to stay awake I’ll need to be patient enough to wait.  I guess I should bring an alarm clock so in case I fall asleep it will wake me up when the coffee is cool enough to drink.  However, I’ll admit I’m impatient at times and attempt to carefully sip my piping hot coffee and inevitably bear the brief pain and burn my mouth anyway.

But who’s idea was it that coffee so be so damned hot?  I mean many years ago this topic lead to a million dollar lawsuit against McDonalds when a person got severely burned after spilling a cup of piping hot coffee on her lap.  Afterwards the person filed a lawsuit that resulted in damages of over $2 million against McDonalds.  The case was eventually settled quietly out of court.  I remember attending Torts class in law school and the professor mentioned the not widely publicized facts of the case, that this was no mere burn but a really really bad burn.  The outcome of this case was that McDonalds had to now put warnings to let customers know that it’s hot coffee is actually hot.  Coffee continues to be served at temperatures up to around 190 degrees.  Note that water boils at 212 degrees.

I do remember the argument that had been made as to why hot coffee is served so hot.  It’s because customers on their way to work expect to drive up to a fast food place, pick up their coffee, drive to work and not drink their coffee until they get to work.  When they get to work at that time they want their coffee hot and drinkable, so places overheat their coffee intentionally.  So that means that maybe most people don’t really drink coffee to stay awake but maybe more as a ritual?  I mean if you’re driving to work early in the morning and pick up coffee but don’t drink it for a while, you must be fairly alert and awake already.  Or maybe in reality you are not that awake and you are waiting for your coffee to cool down so you are slightly sluggish and inattentive drive on the morning commute.  Maybe this inattentive driving promotes traffic tie ups as red lights turn green and the first person in line takes an extra few seconds to react.  So here’s a theory:  Hot coffee being served so hot is promoting traffic jams because so many drivers in need of a caffeine kick are being deprived of that opportunity to wake up immediately.  Many are forced to wait until they finish their commute to be able to drink their coffee.  But by this time the damage is already done.

What is so wrong about about WARM coffee?  What? Are you going to throw up and keel over when the sensation of warm coffee touches your tongue?  I’d guess if that happened you would become so irate and march right back to the place that sold you this immediately drinkable coffee and sue them.  But yet there is a thriving business selling chilled and iced coffees of all flavors.  So explain that?

So for you to be happy in life you have a right to have your coffee served piping hot (that’s marketing hype for scalding hot).  So I guess this is the statement that the average American coffee lover would say about coffee:  “I’ve got this piping hot cup of coffee that is so hot I need a extra wrapper of corrogated box wrapped around it to be able to hold it.  I have no intention of drinking this piping hot cup of coffee, but I’m so happy and satisfied just knowing my coffee is piping hot.  In fact if I had my way my coffee would remain eternally piping hot at 190 degrees and I’d never ever drink it so as to make sure my cup remains full.  I mean why would I want to empty my full cup of piping hot happiness?  Happiness is a full cup, right?”

So here’s my theory.  Some marketing genius (obviously a mad and evil genius though), realized that the optimal happiness and satisfaction surrounding the purchase of hot coffee is at the point of possession of a full cup of piping hot coffee.  It’s not so much about the drinking of the coffee but that knowing that you still have full cup and knowing that it’s piping hot or rather piping happy.

As for me I’m more functional. I think of coffee as a source of caffeine to help keep me awake.  When I get my coffee, I need it now, because otherwise I’m going to fall asleep.  So when I buy coffee I avoid most fast food places that will fill your coffee up to the top with scalding hot coffee.  Instead I visit places that allow you to self serve your own coffee.  I fill my cup about 3/4 the way with the scalding hot coffee and then fill up the rest with cold skim milk.  And so I end up warm, evenly slightly hot but very drinkable and satisfying coffee.  If I’m really dead tired and need lots of caffeine I can gulp lots of coffee quickly.  I pause a bit when the barrista at a coffee shop asks me if I want room for cream or milk.  Filling my cup 90% of the way with scalding hot coffee can’t be cooled down by cream or milk.

So how about you?  Do you like your coffee scalding hot when you buy it, or would you have value in places that serve you drinkable warm or just moderately hot coffee?

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I am glad I didn’t get the promotion I’ve wanted for so long?

So anyway a few postings ago I mentioned I was on the brink of unemployment.  Nothings changed except for the fatigue of emotions that has build up with time.  The clock is ticking and by the end of this month, I stand a good chance of joining the rest of the 10% or so Americans out there that are unemployed.  And for me it will not be so much due to economic downsizing reasons but quite a bit to “political” reasons and possibly a bit to “oh well” reasons.

What I mean by “oh well” reasons is when you see bureacracracies and policies make people do things that don’t make sense.  All parties directly involved with whatever doesn’t make sense all agree that this doesn’t quite make sense, but it’s all too complicated and maybe somewhere there’s a good reason, and we all feel powerless to make any changes so we just shrug our shoulders and say “oh well”.

At my work place they’ve expediently hired a contractor to replace me.  In fact they had a bit of extra money and hired 2nd person part time to enhance things.  I talked to one of my supervisors and he said that something about this arrangement doesn’t seem right.  But “oh well”.   But let me stop ranting on this situation.  It’s a done deal.

I am thankful that I was given 2 months notice before being kicked out on the streets.  So I have been working real hard at finding another position to avoid the boot that is scheduled to occur the end of this month.  It has been an emotional roller coaster of lot’s of out of the blue exciting prospects, met afterwards by disappointing apologies.  I’m shell shocked to the point that if you offered me a job, I’d take it with a grain of salt.

Anyway I started interviewing for a job that would require me to accept a demotion in level and in salary.  I was fortunate to talk with someone who was in a position to tell me the bottom line numbers on financial impact and it seemed rather smallish.  So I started to think about the many years I’ve been striving and hoping to get a promotion, another boost in my income and another bump up in my pride.  You know if that had happened I don’t know if I could have brought myself to interview for this lower level job, because the pain of larger drop might be too much to bear.  But since I never did get promoted the drop in salary that would result is going to be tiny and the bruise to my ego moderate to small.

So I am in a strange way thankful I never got a promotion?  It’s wierd.  Clearly we see the phenomena of having less is being better.  But it also makes me wonder should part of me be afraid of achieving greater financial success for fear of the greater financial fall if I get used to the higher status.  Is happiness being mediocre?

It’s been suggested that the more you have the happier you will be.  In many religions there’s talk of being granted overflowing abundance and prosperity and they are definitely referring to material and financial abundance and prosperity.  Yet there are also statements to the effect that the more you accumulate the more you have to lose, suggesting that more is less.  I do remember also reading about a concept in Joe Domingo’s “You Money or Your Life” describing the fact that initially increased money does cause increased happiness.  But at some point with each boost of income you get the amount of increased happiness diminishes.  And eventually happiness plateaus and starts to go down.  So that additional money and things start to decrease happiness. So there could conceptually be a point in you’re career that when you are offered a promotion or salary increase you say: “No thanks, I don’t want it.  It’s only going to make me less happy”.  Wierd sounding  isn’t it?

Finally, there’s the kind of wisdom that you’ll get about the power of just being present.  Don’t try, don’t achieve, don’t do, just be.  Picture yourself in a boat in the river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies …   You are a monk seated peacefully in a mediative pose somewhere in the middle of the most destitute regions of India and you meditate for hours, and days on end motionless needing almost no food or water.  And you are in Nirvana traveling in different dimensions with little need for the physical body.

So it’s all very wierd and confusing.  I’m stressed but once I give up and secumb to the reality of complete failure and just sit in the emotions of what it would be like on June 1st to be unemployed it starts to become easier.  I think what it would be like to know I’ve tried so hard to look for another position that I’m burnt out only to get the boot in the end.  It feels terrible, but then once I’m there in emotions I realize I’m still alive and breathing and it just is what it is: really really really sucky and terrifying emotions no more no less. But I still love myself for trying.

I hear the lyrics of Prince’s “Sign of the Time” :

“Sometimes man isn’t truly happy until man truly dies”

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Trying to get wordbooker to work

So this part feels like work.  Hopefully this posting works.

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Is your computer a Hobby or Work?

Yesterday a friend called me up to stress his opinion that I spend too much time on a computer.  He asked me if I had a hobby.  I paused and said it’s probably doing something like blogging or writing on the computer.  He suggested that I was just doing more work and I should be doing something like playing an instrument, arts & crafts, or toying around with cars.  I mentioned exercise and he paused and said maybe but not quite, because that’s just for health and not so much for run.  He stated I needed a real hobby to round me out because I was doing too much computer stuff, too much work.

So then I get back to the point that computers have such a diverse uses that I think it’s really hard to say if someone is in front of a computer whether it’s work or a hobby.  And it gets more confusing when someone really enjoys their work and so work becomes play and so not working is not fun.  And so we get into a debate on if one is a workaholic or not.  But I wont digress too much because this discussion can quickly go nowhere.

I would just describe my computer as a “media device” much like a TV, but more active and dynamic. The days are starting to fade away when working on a computer is considered a “high tech” skill.   If you’ve enjoyed a video game, went to a self checkout isle in a grocery store, operated a cash register, used email, or used a web browser you’re already a mainstream computer user.  If you’re buying stuff online, doing Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, then I’d say you might as well start calling yourself a computer nerd.

If you like to draw, paint, be a movie director, compose music, publish your own book, market, and sell your work, it can all be done through your computer so much more economically and easily than paying a company to do it for you.  So if you’re a passionate artist, a dancer, a singer I dare say that in the end you’re going to be doing something more intensely involving computers.  You’re going to find yourself spending a long amount of time in front of some computer screen.  And someone else watching your eyes gazed at the screen will wonder is this work or a hobby?

So anyway today, I took time from the dredgery of looking for a new job to start blogging. I used to have a wordbook plugin that would cross post my blogs into Facebook.  I now just installed a different plugin wordbooker, that promises to work better.  So yes it was maybe an extra 15 minutes of work to dust off the cob webs and tinker to get the plugin to work, but it was satisfying to feel like I’m getting some things in my life back in order.  But this activity helped me emotionally, released some stress that was fatiguing me so out that I couldn’t concentrate. It’s anyone’s opinion whether or not this makes me more well rounded, but I think it makes me more well adjusted and happier.

So I think my computer at least in this moment is my hobby.  But once I move this window aside it the same computer will become work.  The work window will be standing right next to the hobby window. So then I guess you can say my computer is hobby and work, both pleasure and pain, potentially both healthy and unhealthy.

What do you think?  Is your computer a hobby or work?

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Fantastic Job Interview turns into Devastating rejection

So today I was smarting over an phone interview for a job that I didn’t think I had much of a chance.  I gave it my all but I was probably 10x too short of impressing the interviewer enough and so they told me right then and their I wasn’t going to meet their needs.

And then later in the morning at work, just I was on my way to a meeting to greet the person they’ve hired to replace me I got a phone call.  Oh yes, they’ve hired someone to replace me.  They need me so bad that they can’t afford to let my position got empty.  In fact the position is so hard to do they badly need me to train my replacement to do what took me about 6 months to learn.  They want me to teach my replacement to be 6x a faster learner than I was!  Ouch that hurts!

Oh yeah so as I was about to leave my office to go to this meeting which I was so badly dreading, I get a phone call telling me the result of a fantastic job interview I had a week ago.  I was so sure I was going to get a job offer.  The person on the phone answered in a friendly voice starting off with “we really thank you for your time …. “oh no that’s a setup introduction for the sucker punch in the stomach line that’s about to come”  And then the person follows up with “we offered this position to another candidate”  Ouch.  OUch.  Ugg Ummph.

I was devastated.  This phone call was the call back from the job which was supposed to be my fallback safety net job if I couldn’t get another job.  It was supposed to be the easy sure thing job.  And I didn’t get it!  So now the reality of getting layed off by the end of May is setting in.

Sigh.  I really need to cry.  I’m scared. I’m disillusioned. I’m confused.  I’m in denial.  How could this happen!?

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And I sink yet lower today

So yesterday I was agonizing after being rejected during a phone interview for one job.  Then I found myself frantically trying to contact another person for an update on one of the jobs I originally thought I was a shoe in for.

I tried to call again and again, but got no return phone calls.  Which is a bad sign.  It’s a sign that they are trying to avoid you because they are in the midst of making a decision that does not involve you in their picture.

And so rather promptly and abruptly I got a phone call letting me know they don’t want me.  They described there were many strong candidates, but in the end someone else had many years of experience in a computer system I never used before.  It certainly gave me a feeling that I may not have even been number two in consideration.  In their “optimistic” voice they said they were sure I’d find another job, but a voice was crying inside of me that “NO NO! I really don’t think I have another job.  THIS WAS IT!! NO”

I must face the even more real possibility that I’m going to be unemployed.

I’m devastated once again.

And my boss started asking me to do more tasks, and I’m in a daze.  What?  I see my replacement happy and eager to get up to speed and take over my job.  There were a few times I was fighting back tears.

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Feel Totally Defeated – Silence is Torture

So, it’s been almost a month since I’ve updated this blog!

Yes, this job loss thing really has sidetracked my energy.  So since I’ve last wrote, I’ve been expending huge amounts of time searching for another job within the company I work for.  I officially become unemployed starting June 1st unless I can land another job.  It’s a really self-esteem testing experience to go from working for the same company for nearly 21 years straight and then suddenly preparing to be unemployed.

So I’ve had a few interviews some really great and some where I completely fell short of what they were looking for.  And with the great interviews nothing has happened which makes me nervous like they’ve already picked someone else.  And so I’m watching my chances fade away.

And to make things more tortuous for me I’m still at times expected to work hard in the remaining time I have left at my current job.  They’ve already hired a contractor to replace me!  And they would like me to work diligently to get him up to speed.  It really upsets me when they want me to bust my ass to pull them out of binds and technical emergencies yet they have no intentions of keeping me employed.  They are busy worrying how this new contractor is going to be able to do by job, yet they are so willing to get rid of me!  And they want to participate in this worry by doing my best job to insure his success in replacing me.  It hurts.

I’m trying my best to be helpful to the people I work with, and not burn any bridges with my current boss, but I need to recognize where my boundaries are and not follow the example of other people.  If someone works 90 hours a week don’t make that influence where I think my boundaries are.  So if I have a job interview for one hour on Wednesday, I can’t allow myself to be pushed into thinking I can balance my work load around that one hour time slot.  “Oh sure I’ll work on this emergency Wednesday morning, go to my interview and then come back and continue working”  On the surface that sounds reasonable, but if I work on an emergency that will suck out my energy so I’ll be sub par when I’m being grilled during an interview.  And if the interview doesn’t go well continuing my work afterwards will only rub salt into my emotions.

You see I need to be able to scope out boundaries around my emotional time.

God I’m definitely A LONG LONG WAY away from being masculine!!

But the fact is I’m a human not a machine. And so although I’m capable of putting in some tenacious technical efforts and pulling of some unexpected feats, it’s all still influenced by emotions. And if I’m feeling very conflicted like recognizing that at times the harder the work the more I’m helping get rid of my job, then my mind can go blank, my memory flounders and my IQ plummets.  And so I need to plan emotional processing time around some of the things I do, most especially when the things I do are all very stressful.

So anyway I’ve had a roller coaster emotional ride with one particular job as a program manager.  This would be a manager of managers kind of job.  A huge self-esteem boost because of the huge jump in responsibility, far beyond what I’ve ever done.  Last Monday I got called about it and managed to pull off a sales pitch that convinced the person I could do the job.  The that Friday during my formal interview that person changed her mind and had me interview for a less demanding position.  And to make things worse I wasn’t impressing anyone during the interview and I needed to impress someone to have a chance.  Finally, they gave me a chance to try again today. I prepared hard and in the end it was for naught. I definitely felt I did my best or as close to the best, but in the end it seemed what the person was asking for was may 10 x more than I could show.  So it makes me wonder a bit why they even considered me.

Well I guess it’s a positive sign that I’m doing the right things to sell myself so that I can get my foot pretty far in the door for something I’m not qualified for.  So at least I can give myself a hand for definitely doing my best.  Many people in a similar position would not have even tried.

But that emotional roller coaster of things happening better than expected only to be dashed not once but twice really pops the air out of my sails.  And then in it’s wake there is an undeniable sense of emptiness.  My mind focuses on a couple of other jobs I’m being considered for, and starts getting paranoid with each passing hour.

Why haven’t they called me!  Maybe I should call right now?  No, No.  I called on Friday, and they hadn’t returned my call and so if I call now maybe I’ll annoy them.  But this silence this waiting even for a day is becoming agonizing.  This uncertainty becomes more tortuous as time passes.  I feel defeated.

I’m a riled up middle aged man.  I’m not giving up the fight, but this kinds of defeats are wearing me down.

I want to go back to Never Never Land.  I want to live in Wonderland. Take me to Strawberry Fields.  Where nothing matters.  And in this place I at the idea of blogging for income feels so far away in terms of effort level.  Not that it’s not doable, but that it’s just far away, such a long long walk.  I couldn’t do it when I was operating under the comfort of long term employment so now facing the prospect of unemployment now what?  But it would certainly be true that unemployment grants me the time I would need, but in a scary undesireable way.

But I guess when you lose focus of the true important things in life you have to be dealt life shaking events, be it a death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the threat of losing your life.

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Took the Initiative to Lose My Job and Lost my Job in 2 hours!

Monday was a wierd day to say the least.  I was advised to contact my boss about strange events that were happening to my job.  It’s like if I never took the initiative to contact my boss, I would still have my job.  But I did take the initiative and he responded by doing his best to get back to me in a timely fashion and apologetically hand me my walking papers.  What?!

But anyway the way I was told what had unfolded in some ways sounded like two organizations flexing their political muscle.  One side asks the other side to take me on as a permanent employee. That side says no and since you insulted us by asking us that question we’ll stop paying for his services in 2 months.  There that will teach you to threaten us.  So now are you going to sa sorry.

The other side says.  Ha.  Say sorry no way!  No what we’ll do is take him back today so he can’t do any more work for you. So you can save your stinking two months of pay, because we don’t want it.  And to teach you a lesson, we are going to set him up to get unemployed.  Ha. There you go!  Now who’s sorry.  That’ll teach you.  Next time when we ask you to take someone into your organization you’ll do it or lose that person immediately.

And it’s me who’s just a pawn in this political beauracratic mess.  And all anyone can do is apologize, and shrug their shoulders.  I’m being layed off not because there is no work for me, not because they don’t have the funds to pay for me, and not because I’m not highly appreciated and valued.  I’m being layed off just because.  Eh. Why not.  Monday’s are usually boring. Let’s lay off someone today to bring in some excitment. That’s all.

I only mention this experience because it’s just more of he sign of the times of people somehow unintentionally being dishonest with you.  Like a President who fervantly campaigns for a cause and then quiet in the mix abandons the campaign.  The reasons aren’t quite known.  But yet this kind of disconnected behavior is more of the sign of the times.

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Feel Like Society is Becoming more Stupid

I had a frustrating day trying to talk with a medical reimbursement claim person over the phone.  Basically, I was trying to get reimbursed for vision care expenses using money I had set aside because I don’t have vision care insurance.  They told me they couldn’t reimburse me from the money I set aside because the person wrote on the receipt that they examined my eyes and fit contact lenses.  They were fine covering the eye exam.  They were fine covering the fitting of the contact lens.  They were not fine with the combination of the two together!?  They wanted me to drive back to the eye doctor and get a revised receipt with separate charges for the eye exam and contact lens.  But the eye doctor doesn’t have separate charges for eye exam and contact lens fitting so he would have to just make it up.  Alternatively I could have the eye doctor rewrite the receipt for just an eye exam.  For me it unfortunately will require about 2 hours of round drip driving, or coordinating getting a rewritten receipts by fax (which I don’t have).  In prior years I’ve always submitted my eye exam as one receipt.  Now it’s changed.  Another person then chimed in that I would also need to show an explanation of benefits summary from my vision care insurance to show that I’m not getting paid any benefits from my vision care insurance.  I explained I don’t have vision care insurance.  They replied I should submit to my medical insurance.  I explained my medical insurance, Aetna, doesn’t cover vision care.  FYI, the person I was talking to and disputing my claim works for Aetna?!  The person is stumped, puts me on hold, then goes away for a while, comes back and states they will need to reprocess my claim and it may take up to 10 days but also reminded me that if things go past April 15, my claim may be forfeited.  Ahhhh!

Maybe I’m being impatient, but this is just one more evidence of what I consider Society as a whole becoming Stupid.  I can no longer point the finger at one person being less capable of reasonable thinking but at a whole system that enforces stupidity.  By enforce I mean if you work for one of these companies you could get reprimanded or fired potentially if you don’t follow the procedures and rules of the system, no matter how much they don’t make sense.  So in fact in these situations it’s best to hire people that don’t ask questions and just follow rules.  And when the rules and procedures are ambiguous you interpret them in the way that’s most likely to protect your employment.  On top of this throw in continual efforts to reduce cost while “preserving quality”.  You reduce costs by laying off higher paid more experienced employees to and then you replace the “expertise” once held by the experienced employees with documented rules and procedures.  Initially you can try and outsource to a company in India.  Eventually, the idea state is that you handle it all by computer.  To “preserve” quality you either eliminate or reduce the ability of customers to give direct feedback on their satisfaction.  You create a quality measurement system that is assured of 100% satisfaction no matter what. If for some reason a customer complaint comes thru successfully you concentrate on cutting costs which will cause the layoff of the person that allowed the successful complaint thru.

In my case the more frustrated I am, the more likely I’ll give up and forfeit my right for getting reimbursed.  So me the customer is the problem.  Reduce costs and eliminate me, quality goes back up.  And once there are less complaints and phone calls you can justify reducing the workforce once again.  Costs down.  Profits up.  And someone is thinking our society is getting more advanced and intelligent.

The movie “Up in the Air” gives a bit of a taste of what I mean by Society becoming Stupid.  If we look at the whole of let’s say Westernized Society as a single organism, that single organism places highest priority on profit, acquiring, building and consuming.  The more we profit, acquire, build and consume the more we believe we have progressed.  With the use of computers to streamline the process we are pushing more towards that goal.  And if you think far enough ahead we can probably maximize profit, acquiring, building and consuming if we eliminate humans and just have machines take over.  Sounds a bit like a script in many Sci-Fi movies.  But it is happening now, not so much in the physical elimination of humans (although if you look at job layoffs, crime and wars that might actually be happening), but in the elimination of humane behavior.  We are dehumanizing ourselves somehow with a blind eye.  This action of dehumanizing is our Society going Stupid.

Back in Feb 19th a software engineer comes to wits end with his dealings with the IRS.  I can only imagine that no single person is to blame. Everyone is doing their job, following he rules and procedures and that software engineer just has to be patient even though his financial well being is being threatened.  He feels completely dehumanized, emotionally exhausted from countless contacts with the IRS department and he loses it. In a time where everyone is downsizing more things just fall thru the cracks.  This software engineer eventually loses it and does a terrible act of violence.  Within days the incident is put to rest and forgotten.  Life goes on.  Everything is just fine.

I don’t know about you.  Have you been feeling like things aren’t fine?  That more and more things are becoming less caring and less humane?  That our human society as a whole is becoming more stupid?

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Finally able to upgrade WordPress

Finally, after a couple of months I’ve been able to upgrade my wordpress software. Not that it means anything to you the reader.  It’s a bit like running on an older version of Windows and being alerted many times that you need to upgrade, only it’s way too difficult to upgrade.

So originally, the warnings for me to upgrade were followed up with cryptic instructions involving me having to do independent backing up of a database. With the recent update somewhere I new button appeared that offered “Automatic Upgrade”. Now that’s exactly what I want. How novel an idea! Just click the “Upgrade” button to upgrade.

So I clicked the “Upgrade” button and within a minute my blog website came back and I was upgraded.  I feel better.  Computers are working a bit like they should.  All is well … at least on the mechanics of maintaining a blog website.

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Things Got So Busy that I Entered THE TWILIGHT ZONE

I’ve been busier working on things related to www.touchthesource.com and so I’ve definitely been slacking big time here.  I’ve started to get into the technical realities of trying to record some meditations and then publish the recordings in a way that it can be easily listened regardless whether you’re on Windows, Mac or an iPhone.  I recently got familiar with familiar with the company soundcloud.com, which is a really slick website for anyone trying to share audio recordings but in a way that allows you to limit who can listen to it, who can download it and even handling the sale of a recording.  So I’ve been really fond of this website.  The only problem I’ve recently discovered is that soundcloud.com can get really expensive.

As long as you limit the total amount of recordings to under 2 hours it’s all free.  If you need 12 hours of audio storage then it jumps to about $107 a year.  For unlimited storage it skyrockets to $680 a year!  So this forces me to look for less expensive solutions to distribute recordings, but I still want it to be as fast and easy to use as soundcloud.  So now I’m investigating things like YouTube and iTunes.  But this is once again just all more work for me to do.

I clearly have too many things I want to do.  I can’t keep juggling things and fool myself into thinking I’m not already dropping so many things on the floor.  This past Friday I definitely was having  “Twighlight Zone” experience.

It all started last Thursday when I noticed a big dent in the left fender of our Toyota Prius.  I was not happy.  I had no idea how it got there.  It was a very noticeable dent that I at first thought came from another car hitting our car while it was parked.  But it was odd though that this dent was smooth, no scratches, no sharp creases, more like it was hit hard with something like a basketball.  But who plays basketball in the middle of a parking lot with no basket net within a mile radius and when everything is covered with snow and ice?  So after I saw this I thought of the headache of trying to get this repaired.  It was already the end of the day so I planned to call it in on Friday.

Come Friday morning I drove my Honda Accord.  As I was passing by the Prius I could not see the dent.  I did a double take and drove by and looked again.  No dent?  Obviously this was another Toyota Prius.  I drove by again taking a look at the license plate. It was our Prius, yes it was.  I strained my neck at all angles to see the reflection coming across the left fender.  No dent? Perfectly smooth?  I didn’t have time to stop driving and walk up to the Prius.  I just drove off and concluded that my eyes must be bad, because surely the dent was there even though I couldn’t see it.  So I held off calling my insurance company to report the damage until I was sure it was there.

While at work my boss asked me to contact someone named Stewart who works out of California.  I looked him up and called his number and a female voice answered.  She initially said I had the right company but no one named “Stewart”  works at this branch.  That kind of puzzled me.  As far as I knew Stewart ran a company that  was pretty much a one man company.  Why would he want to hire someone to answer the phone to make it appear he had multiple branches?  So I thought maybe I dialed the wrong number.  I looked at my phone and I saw that the last number I dialed was the right number.  I went thru my recent email to see if there was another phone number.  The email showed the same as what I had dialed. “Strange,” I thought to myself.

So after an hour, I dialed the number again. The same woman answered.  I asked if this was a software company, I was dialing.  She replied “No, this is Artisan Bank”.   So now that made a bit more sense.  She was just saying I reached a branch of a bank and not a software company so obviously Stewart doesn’t work at Artisan Bank.

But wait just a day ago I dialed Stewart’s number and it worked?!  Stewart was there.  Maybe Stewart went out of business and his line was disconnected.  But I don’t think you can get a number disconnected and have it reassigned to a new customer in just 1 day.  “Strange indeed”

My boss stopped by later in the day and asked if I reached Stewart. I told my boss that it seems his phone number is wrong or doesn’t work anymore. My boss looked at me strangely.  I showed him the number I dialed and he confirmed it was the right number.  My boss then asked me to pull up a recent email which definitely had the right number.  I did so and it was the same phone number.  So then my boss told me that he’d leave me alone and suggested that I take a break, and try the number again. He gave me a “are you sure you’re OK” look and closed my office door to leave me time to gather myself.

So I dialed that very same number and Stewart answered!

So all I can say is I swear, I swear there was a big dent in my Toyota Prius.  I even showed the dent to my wife.  And it’s now gone, poof!  I swear, I swear I called Stewart at his phone number and I kept reaching the receptionist at Artisan Bank.  And now his number works.

Clearly I had entered “THE TWILIGHT ZONE”  Maybe I need some rest.

Oh Geez why’s it so dark here. Wait there’s a bright light in the distance. Should I walk towards the light?


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I Aspire to Be Inefficient, Listless, Forgetful and Stupid

The way I’ve been feeling this month, it reminds me of a time nearly two years ago.  I had had the habit of taking on more and more responsibility. It’s OK I can handle it, I can handle it.   I came to awake in the realization I was in what was a severe depression.  And when I realized this it somehow shoved me way to the bottom, and all my worries spilled all over the floor and I could no longer afford to care about things. One thing I clearly remember is that I no longer cared that much for silly things like paying your bills.  I had significant money coming back in a tax refund, I didn’t care to collect it.  I had bills to pay that I could very much afford to pay but it was too much effort to pay. It was too confusing, so I didn’t care.  Go ahead and send the bill collectors, I don’t care.  Well after several months I eventually did get myself together and got back into the pace of the real world and settled all my financial affairs.  I even got ahead of the game last year by getting my tax returns way ahead of the deadline as opposed to filing for an extension.

But lately I’ve definitely have had glimmers of those overwhelming feelings.   You work extra hard to get yourself back in line.  Your life starts to get scattered and then things like trying not to lose your job hit you.  You find a new job and find your energy is spent trying to get back up to speed at the new job.  And whammo a month clicks by in every blink of the eye.

So a week ago I got a late payment notice in the mail from a doctor I had seen many months ago.  I could swear I paid all my bills, but was mostly too tired to defend so I just let it sit.  Then a couple of days ago I decided to at least give the doctor’s office a call that I really do want to settle my accounts, but that I think I did pay my bill, and that I’m feeling so overwhelmed that I felt like the very best I could do is just acknowledge that I do see your bill and I wish I could do something about it.  So right now all I can offer you is this call now because if I didn’t at least call now I’d never look at things until another blink of the eye, another month.  If you told me I had a rebate offer for a million dollars and that rebate offer expired in a month I’m sure I’d forfeit the million dollars.  I’m too busy doing things like trying to make and save money to worry about doing things to make and save money.

I have a physical therapist bill closing in on 2 years over due!  It’s for like $5 but I’m so sure I had settled this over a year ago yet they still keep hounding me.  The bill is based on probably a few hundred tiny charges with cryptic descriptions like “Commercial Adjustment” and “Offset Adjustment”  I swear if I pay the $5 they’ll take on $3.23 and give the reason of “Yippee Kayaaa adjustment” on the bill as the reason why I owe them money.  I don’t care but I swear they’ll keep hounding me till the end of time.  I’m too tired to defend by bill.  I did that a year ago.  They’ll forget my story and they’ll be a new person ready to hound me. I’m too tired. I don’t care.

I have a desk the size of a dining room table.  It’s cluttered with medical related items that I could file for a few thousand dollars in reimbursement from something called a Flexible Spending Account.  It’s money that I put aside last year that I might just elect to forfeit.  I mean I do care and that part cause me stress. But I sort of don’t care and that part causes me relief.  It’s odd.  If my bank said they were going to just clear out all my savings to save on computer costs I’d almost resign myself, oh well. And so as I write this it’s snowing outside and things are quiet and I’m shoveling out from a pile of to do items in my head one snow flake at a time.  It’s all I can do

So anyway more and more I really don’t want to hear about special offers.  Please don’t offer me 20% off for a limited time.  Don’t offer me a $100 rebate good for purchases by 1/31 and submitted on a special form postmarked by 2/28.  If you ask me what’s wrong?  Don’t I want to save money?  Don’t I want to save time?  Don’t I want to take advantage of a special opportunity?  Do I want to lose out on a once in a lifetime opportunity?

I will answer I think nothing is wrong, but NO …. I do not want to save money, I do not want to save time, I do not want to take advantage of a special opportunity.  YES I do want to lose out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. I want to waste money paying late fees. I want to forfeit all coupons and rebates.  I want to pay extra.  I want to waste my time.  I WANT TO BE INEFFICIENT. I want to BE STUPID.  Go ahead and laugh at me and profit from me.  I don’t care.  And this is how a really tired person feels.

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I finally got a Click Bank account

Oh this is sad.  I have to admit I’m disappointed with my progress here.  About a week ago I invested maybe 5 to 10 minutes in getting my Click Bank account established.  Now, I’m officially capable of  earning money off products sold by Click Bank.  You just need to click the right products for me to earn money.  Oh yeah I forgot to mention I’m not signed on for any products so to save the time could you just look for the product you like, sign me up to sell the product your interested in, set up a website for me and then visit that website and then buy the product.  Aaaaaahhhh!

But seriously the only thing that was significant was discovering the great variety of products.  It’s definitely overwhelming what’s out there.  A lot of it is interesting.  There seems to be enough diversity here that I’d think any person could find something there that resonates with them enough that they could make a sales pitch.

Note that all products managed by click bank are electronic only. It could be an e-book, some audio recordings, movies or software so don’t bother looking for an LCD TV here.  Also note that you usually don’t buy direct from click bank.   Click bank only cares about managing the transaction.  They expect others to do the selling directly to you.

The next step for me would be selecting one or products to sell.  This feels like it will take maybe 3 hours if I gave it 100%. I don’t have anywhere near 100% of my time available.  So how long will it take for me?  Will I move so slow that by the time I put up my website will the product be discontinued?  Will you find my skeleton in front of a computer screen with cobwebs draped?

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I need to adjust my goals

So it’s become very clear that there is very little chance of me being able to carry thru with the blogging business plan that Michael Jones paints.  I’ve simply got too much to do in my full-time job.  My full-time job working with computers keeps me fully occupied.  There’s one part of the blogging business that is about advertising with Google.  With Google you can turn any website into the most popular website overnight, as long as you’ve got unlimited amounts of money.  The trick to being successful is trying to spend the least amount of money to just get you over the hump in terms of website traffic to make more money than you are shelling out to Google for each visitor the Google search engine brings to you.  The trick to finding that right amount of money is many hours of intense work in front of the computer screen monitoring your business much like a day trader in the stock or commodities market actively monitors his holdings.  If you don’t make the proper adjustments in the early stages you could easily lose hundreds of dollars a day.

There is another form of getting onto Google without spending money.  It’s more of the “old fashioned” way.  You get onto other social networking forums, and start writing content and build up visibility.  It’s not as instant as when you pay Google directly, but it’s also not as stressful and risky.  It will take more of my time than if I paid Google, but my time can be spread out at my pace.  In other words with paying Google I might need to spend 100 hours in one week.  With the “old fashioned” way I might need to spend 400 hours but I can spread it out over a year.

Speaking of Google, you may have heard about the fact that if you do Google search of “Islam is” it will tend not to offer you anything.  The media have suggested this was intentional to avoid coming up with with websites that defame the Islamic religion and as a result cause a backlash.  Google has claimed since Jan 5th that this is a bug they are fixing, but after one week this “bug” still remains and this just feels like an unusually long time.  Whether or not this is a “bug” or an intentional setting by Google, it once again highlights the fact that Google does wield a lot of power over the internet, and the fact that you can turn the head of Google by paying them enough money to get better rankings in their search engine suggests that maybe the internet isn’t quite as free as you think.

Yes you can easily put up your own website for very little money anywhere in the world and put up any content you want.  But if a company like Google decides to “black list” your website it’s almost like them pulling the plug on your website.  Or if another company funds a marketing campaign on Google they can push you way down the rankings and effectively out of existence.  I mean your website will physically exist and will be accessible by word of mouth, but it’s existence will never be known by the general public. This is probably not too big a deal if you only want to share a home-brew website with friends and family.  But what if do want to find out the most accurate and unbiased sources of information on what “Islam Is” or find out all the kinds of reported side-effects to a newly released drug: how much of the actual information out there are you actually getting to see thru Google’s filters.  You’ll never know what you don’t see.

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Struggling with this WordBook plugin

I may have not mentioned this, but I’ve been trying real hard to get a blog plugin that will cross post anything I blog here into my FaceBook Wall. So far it’s been very spotty. The part I’m not so sure about is the fact that I’m setting this plugin up for two blogs: tiredmiddleagedman.com and touchthesource.com with both blogs sharing the same server resources. So anyway this is also a test blog to see if things work now after doing yet another upgrade to this plugin.

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I’m learning a lot technically, but moving Real Slow

OK.  So this is not good. I’m blogging here because I feel obligated to, not because I feel like I’ve got a bunch of stuff to write about my progress on the Michael Jones program.

Well for now I should update that I’m busy trying to manage the union of a two other websites (http://www.wakundama.com and http://www.touchthesource.com) with this blog.  So I’ve been tackling the technical issues of how to move over a blog from wordpress.com hosting service to an independent website hosting services.  So far I’m discovering that you’re a bit more constrained in what you can accomplish if you go with a standard free wordpress.com account on wordpress.com owned servers.  The standard free wordpress.com blog account is real easy to setup, but then it comes to trying to do things like using a plugin that auto posts blog entries into facebook you’re out of luck.  I also feel like if you want a better chance of having other people find your blog (because I think a big motivator behind blogging is that others will find it), your more likely to be found if you’re off wordpress.com owned servers.  I just get the sense that on wordpress.com owned servers wordpress is in control of your visibility.

So I’ve now gone thru about 2 exercises of setting up and migrating two different blogs to become stand alone websites no longer tied to the wordpress company.  All I have to say is that this stuff is NOT EASY.  I setup a website back in 1990 and despite all my computer experience since then, I’m finding that setting a website setup IS NOT EASY STUFF.  I’m the expert at my workplace in maintaining a very complex website and I’m finding that setting up a wordpress blog on my own and getting it to look and work precisely how I want is hard work.  And once you figured out how to do things the first time, you’re not that much better off when you get to the 2nd wordpress blog.  You just muscle your way through to get things to work, and once you get something to work you sort of never have to do this again for a long time and so tend to forget what you did.  I think I am rambling. So let me get to the point.

I have learned a lot technically going thru the process of now setting up 2 different wordpress blog websites.  However, I would probably need to go through many many more installations before I could ever write something intelligible for someone else to use in setting up their own wordpress blog.  I don’t have time to setup many more installations because the goal is to blog not to setup a blog.

An upcoming challenge I will want to tackle is how to upgrade the wordpress software.  This blog is as of this writing based on WordPress 2.8.6   I’ve been advised to upgrade to the latest version WordPress 2.9.  However, before I proceed I need to figure out how to backup my blog content, because the upgrade process could erase all my blogs.  A quick lookup of how to do the backup so far had yielded instructions that suggest that this is not going to be straightforward.

So fairly soon I’ll let you know if I make the upgrade to WordPress 2.9 OK.  If I don’t you might just end up seeing a blank blog.

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Give me more time and I’ll be less productive

I’ve taken off several days of vacation thinking I’ll catch up on things or make some serious headway in launching my first website following the Michael Jones process, but alas I’m having serious doubts now.  I’m starting to realize that the holiday time during the end of the year is a becoming just a time to go into a time warp where I’m watching things I want to accomplish before year end just slip away. I guess it’s me being kind of burnt out and instead of  using my extra time during my days off from work to push forward, I’m using the time to catch my breath.  I most certainly am not “vegging” out.  But probably “vegging” out would be the best for me.

The analogy I see is like when a car is stuck in mud.  The driver could stress out impatiently and spin his tires and get nowhere.  Or the driver could just sit there relax, ponder a bit and get nowhere.  I think I’m like that car at times and I may just need to sit there and wait for someone to help or for the mud to dry up and use the time to get my mind in order.

So in the end, even though it seems like I’m not moving, it’s all good.

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Back up. Sort of.

1, 0 … So after a couple of days I made the switch over.  A had a few technical hiccups on some setting errors on my end.  I also lost the look and feel of the original blog, because you can’t bring these over for free.  You almost have to start over from scratch and possibly buy a new WordPress theme to establish your look and feel.

I did notice that as a result of the move it seems I have gotten some kind of incoming offers for WordPress plugins. It sort of suggests that when you move away from a mere free account blog on wordpress.com you may actually open your doors more to the internet.

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So I am ready to make the switch

This is probably an esoteric thing, but just as an FYI to anyone considering starting a blog.  Initially, you can certainly start off with a free account on any major blogging service, but if you are thinking about some time down the road of ever needing to upgrade or move your blog to another server know that it is going to be very difficult to make the transition seamless.  My day time job is often about making software and hardware upgrades and accomplishing it without users ever noticing it.  So I’m highly motivated to do this whenever possible.

All I can say is that for this my first WordPress blog website I think it is somewhat possible, but it takes a seasoned WordPress administrator guru to do it.  Even if you pay for tech support I seriously doubt you can pull it off without hiccups.  Computer software is generally tested and optimized for “the usual” and “default” kinds of configurations and migrating a website from one server to another is so infrequently done that when someone does find a bug in the process they are too busy to report the solution to the bug, work around the bug, and are happy just to get their website up and running.

But someday, maybe in a year or so, I might know what it takes to do what I’m doing now without hiccups.  But for now I’m forging on ahead.  In the next few hours my website might be out of touch.  Eventually you’ll get to my blog on the new web servers, but with some features missing.  My new web servers have lots of potential features but they are optimized for use after I do the switch over, not before.

So here we go switch over.  See you soon.  Count down 10, 9, 8, 7, 3, 2, …..

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Working on upgrading my blog

So I was about to link my blog to my facebook as it seems that I run into alot of people that are much more likely to read my facebook wall then my blog.  However, it seems that if you have a standard wordpress blog you are locked out from doing things like adding plugins such as the one that auto posts your blog postings into your facebook page.

So I went with a web hosting company called Teksapiens.  It’s been a few days so far since I’ve signed up and things have been problematic and slow going in getting my blogged moved off of the wordpress company to Teksapiens.  My challenge is to migrate my blog and minimize interruption during the switchover.  The basic procedure to do a change over is to first set up an exact working copy of my current blog on a server at Teksapiens.  Once I’m satisfied that the new server is working I adjust some settings with my name service provider and slowly but surely everyone is diverted off of wordpress servers to Teksapien servers.

My only commentary is that it’s been my observation to date that whenever you put a non routine website setup process to a top notch internet service company, they can still stumble and struggle a lot to get you up and running.  So far Teksapiens has somewhat disappointed me in terms of their ability to resolve my technical problems.  But a few months ago I remember signing on with a high end email service provider and I watch how they struggled and hiccupped a few times before they were able to get me working email.

So I’m not going to say Teksapiens is incompetent.  With my job in the field of providing internet related technical support I think it’s just that internet technologies are so complex and fragile.  They work OK if you are willing to accept the default configuration and setup.  But if you deviate slightly they can refuse to work.  I’m presenting Teksapiens with a non default website setup request and it seems to be showing in how much they are struggling to get me up and running.

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Saying "no more" to Michael Jones Junk Mail

Well anyway, more of cold reality is starting to settle in about this blogging venture. If you were to google references to Michael Jones you’d find out some disparaging remarks about his program to make money thru blogging. Despite the disparaging remarks I have to say that there is still something about his program or any program that offers you a way to make money in connection to blogging. It’s the fact that it works for real or else you wouldn’t see advertisements scattered across web pages and companies like Google wouldn’t end up becoming one of the wealthiest companies in the world.

When I listen to the Michael Jones videos there is real genuine information here. So to that extent I don’t consider these programs scams.

However, where I think they start to enter the arena of scams is when they try to buy the same information over and over again. I can’t say for sure though they are selling the same information, because I didn’t buy more of Micheal Jone’s programs. Basically because I don’t have the time.

You see when you buy one of these programs you also sign up to be on a mailing list and will get hit with about one email a day encouraging you to have attention deficit disorder, drop what your doing and look at some other amazing video or story about someone who’s made a ton of money online using a technique that obsoletes the program you are now trying hard to work on. And then every week or so I get hit with a last minute special opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the next new thing in making money. And then another week I get told that there is yet an even newer thing that obsoletes all others.

After weeks of getting told that everything prior is obsolete and I need to pay for more newer information, my trust glazes over. Enough is enough.

So yesterday I started looking at the line at the bottom of each “junk” email I get from Michael Jones as well as the guy who pointed me to Michael Jones (Robbie Benwell) and I click the unsubscribe link and I’m taken to a website to confirm my removal from the mailing list. I’m about to click the button to confirm my removal and then a little voice in me cries like an addict, “No No don’t go away Michael, don’t go away Robbie! I need your daily emails to offer me hope when I fail even though that hope will cost me more money. No No I could be giving up on the true unique once in a lifetime opportunity”

I glance at the website and see that it’s some nameless spamming service that has no affiliation with Michael Jones or Robbie Benwell. There’s even an area where I can sign on other spamming lists. I snap out of it, that little voice of reservation stops and I click the button.

So now I’m on my own. I will still try out the Micheal Jones program, because it makes sense. But know there will be no more annoying junk emails from Michael or Robbie anymore.

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Visit to 25th High School Reunion was a shock

Last night I went with my wife to our 25th high school reunion.  The last reunion we were at was the 5th year reunion, so it was 20 years since.  I was definitely anxious, because reunions tend to be about finding out how each of us has fared in life versus our high school peers.  I guess I had been very ambitious 20 years ago and now felt somewhat inadequate to poke in my face no closer to my ambitions as I was some 20 years ago.  But I have to say that feeling of inadequacy didn’t factor at all.  Everyone seemed fairly easy going and comfortable in their lives.  No one was their to impress.

The biggest thing that threw me was how much older everyone appeared.  With 20 years of aging everyone really looked like they were in their 40s to 50s.  I seemed to hardly recognize more than half the people there.   It was surreal standing in conversations with grown women and men.  I don’t mean mere adults as you would consider someone in their 20’s or 30’s but genuinely gracefully aged people with thinning, greying hair, and noticeable wrinkles.  I think I dissociated as someone was talking to me and I found a little voice talking inside saying “why the heck am I talking to this old person?”  I mean I feel like I’m talking to my parents.  But in the back of my mind I know that these “old people” are my age.  They were kids as I was a kid.  I just couldn’t piece together “people that look and sound like my parents” with “people that are teenagers in high school”  I then went into the restroom and when I looked into the mirror I heard that same voice go “who is that old man?”

Oh my God, I’m an old man!  Look at the wrinkles in the forehead, the creases around the eyes, that aged skin complexion.  I had disheveled thinning hair.  And to top it all off it seemed my face looked fatter and wider than it did a couple of days ago.  I know I couldn’t have gained that much weight in 2 days!

I realized that I had experienced some kind of reality shock.  When I saw the youth of my high school person juxtaposed against middle-aged men and women it’s like the youth in me left.  There is still a little boy but buried and scared inside a much older stranger body.  I am not a young man anymore.  Long gone are the days when I get carded when purchasing alcohol.  Long gone are the days when people say “I look young”.

It’s just wierd why I never perceived myself as this old until last night.  Now I’m feeling like I’m living in a strange body that has met many other strange people who where once supposedly people I knew in high school.  Maybe it will wear off and I’ll grow back young again.  Or at least my shattered reality will piece together and I’ll be back together in acceptance of who I am in the present.

Just another Tired Middle Aged Man.

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Finally finished watching all the Michael Jones videos

So after maybe some 2.5 months I finished going thru 5 hours of videos.  So let’s see how slow I’m moving along.  Let’s say I was super driven and diligent, I should have been able to watch all 5 hours in one day.  That’s the pace Michael Jones optimistically projects, when he talks about you being able to get your blogging business up and running within about a week.  So I took about 10 weeks, or 70 days to do a job that a very diligent person could do in 1 day.  That means I’m 70 times slower than the very diligent person that the training videos tend to think of.  So at my 70 times slowed down pace I can hope to get my affiliate marketing blogging website selling stuff in 70 weeks, or nearly 1.5 years!

So after watching the 6th and final part of his blogging videos it does start to make me think a bit.  In his videos he describes major steps like:

1) Scanning thru websites selling products and looking for products you might like to sell.

2) Working with keyword ranking tools from places like google to get a sense of what key words are most likely to draw people.

3) Setting yourself up to buy traffic by paying google per click to achieve a particular ranking level.  This is the part that is the scariest because you absolutely need to be very diligent because each day that you get too busy to attend to your website at this point can make you lose $500 or more a day!!

4) Join social networks and get yourself publicity by actively participating and posting links back to your website.  And include the use of particular keywords in your posts.

5) Join online forums and discussion groups and do the same kind of stuff as in #4 above.  At some point consider hiring other people to make posts for you to generate traffic.

So I’d say for the moment given that I’m moving at a snails pace #3 above might be beyond my capability.  Possibly doing #4 or #5 may be more doable.  But at the same time I really need to find a way to dedicate more time.  Let’s say for example I want to get my first website up in 8 weeks instead of 70 weeks.  I would need to pick up he pace 10 fold.  Well all this thinking is making my head hurt.  For now I’ll celebrate the fact that I finished watching the videos and maybe 50% of the information stuck.  The next step that Michael Jones recommends is to watch the videos again, take notes, and do the work after each module.

On other fronts I’m moving along nicely with Nutrisystem.  Not the affiliate marketing of their products, but my actual dieting.  I stepped on the scale a couple days ago and celebrated as I tipped the scale at around 179 pounds.  I was so happy that last night I ate out with Virginia and had most of a turkey dinner, with stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes along with a nice salad with a chicken breast, eggs, and grated cheese.  I had most of a pina colada, parts of a cream puff dessert.  What I ate was maybe equivalent to 4 days of Nutrisystem food (I mean 4 days of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks).  All I can say was it felt great!  I ate the way I used to eat when I was maybe 21 years old.  I ate a lot of food, did not feel stuffed and my pants were not tight.  And I could have eaten more.

Anyway I’m back sticking the the Nutrisystem diet. As far as becoming an affiliate, things are frustrating, mostly because I’m 70 times slower than a person who was very diligant in becoming an affiliate of Nutrisystem.  The person I had contacted by email to get me approved is no longer responding to my emails.  And in my LinkShare account it says I need to way maybe another 20 days before I can reapply.

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Ready to start part 6 of 6 in Michael Jones course

I finally got back to look at my LinkShare account and verified that my name is on the account.  I checked what the problem was.  I had given the Nutrisystem person the wrong Linkshare website ID.  So hopefully now I should be getting my approval from Nutrisystem.  As far as my weight loss progress I’m at about 183 pounds.  Not too bad considering I slacked off exercising and had been eating things like whole steaks and pastries over the weekend.  So let me get off the Nutrisystem talk and back on to the Michael Jones course on making money online thru affliliate marketing.

I finally finished watching part 5 of 6 of Michael Jones videos. He introduces methods of generating traffic to a website that doesn’t involve paying google money.  All I can say is that I am definitely learning a lot, but a lot of what I’ve heard has long faded from memory.  After I get thru part 6 of 6 in the videos, I might have to watch all six parts 2 more times before this entire course starts to stick.  Once again all I can say is that something seems just “not right” about setting these web based businesses.  Not that something is illegal or unethical.  It’s more that something seems surreal, superficial, too virtual so as to make you dissociate from reality.

From what I’m gathering a big part of the techniques of publicizing a website is to join some type of social networking website.  And then join websites that rank, reference or categorize those websites.  And then join websites that rank, reference or categorize the websites that rank, reference and categorize websites.  There seems to be an endless alphabet of networking, and publicizing portals on the internet and it keeps growing and feeding upon itself.  I’m talking about: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and the whole list that you see below:


That’s about 46 different portals I need to be on top of to be on top of things.  My head is spinning. In fact it’s far past spinning in a daze and just plain overwhelmed, tired, and feeling old.  And I know the Michael Jones video mentions some other social networking, internet networking websites that aren’t part of the above list.  I guess every month or someone invents another new couple of new things to act into the alphabet soup mess.  I mean are there really people out there that keep up with stuff?

So this is what I mean when I say that something about all this seems “not right”

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Rejected as affiliate of Nutrisystem and Dried Pizza

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

So after a couple of days it happens, I get a rejection email from Nutrisystem.  They don’t like me because one of a dozen different reasons and they wont tell me which one?  I start to think maybe I’m bad mouthing them too much?  Do you have to lie and tell pretty fairy tale stories of how nutrisystem saved your life?  But the email did follow up and offered to allow me to send appeals to a particular email address.  I do that and the person replies they don’t see my name listed on the linkshare account I signed on with.  I sigh with frustration, another kind of computer snaffu with the linkshare sign up process.  So anyway I had to make a decision on how to spend my precious worn out energy:  should I hassle thru linkshare to make sure my name is on my account and to convince Nutrisystem my name is on my account or should I just enter into my blog.  I’ve been remiss too long so I elected to forego the getting my Nutrisystem affliation approval for now.

So anyway things at work have gone way over the top in demands.  A typical day is getting up at 7:30 AM with an emergency phone call, text message or email about this a website being down.  I scramble to get online to diagnose the problem.  I rush to work to consult with my boss, spend all day diagnosing the problem and figuring out the fix, and then go home in the evening to prepare to install the fix.  On the way home I get another emergency message.  I turn around to go back to work.  When I do get back home, I scarf down a nutrisystem dinner.  One nice thing about nutrisystem dinners is that they heat up in the microwave in just over a minute so you can eat a hot cooked meal, drinks and dessert in under five minutes!  Then I brace for time on the website at around midnight, install the fix and go to bed.  The next morning I wake up at 7:30 and find that I have emergency phone messages, text messages and emails waiting for me announcing the website is down again.

Meanwhile after about 2 weeks of routines like this, Virginia is starting to get upset.  She complains that my work is taking up all my time.  I have to agree it is dominating my time.  For the first time I’m looking at about 2 – 3 weeks of stored up vacation that I have to take or forfeit.  Man I’m about to turn into one of the many workaholic workers where paid vacations are silly games where you have to figure out how to put in an extra 8 to 12 hours of work to make up for each day of paid vacation you take.

So anyway this one day I pick out a dinner out of my big box of Nutrisystem meals


It looks pretty good on the box, especially that melted cheese.  When I pull out the pizza I’m greeted with something a bit comical.  It looks like a freeze dried wheat pitta with nothing on it.


I complain to Virginia about this poor excuse for a pizza.  But then I quiet down and follow the instructions to make my own pizza.  I spread the packet of tomato paste, then sprinkle the packet of grated cheese, and stick in the toaster oven.  In the end I have to say it’s not all that much different than a small slice of frozen pizza, so all in all not quite as enticing in taste as the words “THICK CRUST PIZZA” might suggest, but OK.

Oh yes I’ve been deviating a bit more. One day I ended up trading off nutrisystem breakfast, morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack for some of  my very tasty pasta, oil and garlic topped off with a nice portion of my addictive olive oil cooked crunchy garlic chicken breast chunks.  Mmmmm!  Mmmm!  The next day I snacked on a quarter of an Italian sub.  Another time I had a little Malaysian style curry chicken.  My weight loss seems to be staying stuck between 184 to 186 pounds — a bit discouraging.

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Took first step to making money & Splurging the Nutrisystem Way

Happy Halloween!

So for the moment this Nutrisystem diet is occupying my mind. Maybe it’s the food depravation I feel with the diet. I mean I can’t say you completely starve, but if you’re used to eating till your stuffed and munching on snacks when you’re a bit fidgety then it really starts to wear on you and preoccupy your mind.

But let me digress a bit because I’m finally about to take the first step to making sure when I talk about something you’re going to get some type of ad or link to what I talk about, if that something is something you can buy. So I just signed up to be an affliate with Nutrisystem. It all starts off by signing up with linkshare.com

(ah shoot! I should have signed up to be an affililate of linkshare so I could have made money on mentioning them here. Oh well).

And let me say that the sign up process with linkshare.com seems to have a lot of technical problems. During the registration it kept on complaining that I didn’t type in their special code correctly. So it took me about 7 registration attempts spread out over about 40 minutes before I finally got thru. So I signed up with Nutrisystem and am now just waiting for Nutrisystem’s approval.

But anyway back to the diet. For males Nutrisystem gives me 6 eating times a day. Those times are breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert. For all the meals except for dinner they stress fat free food items. But then for dinner they give you a larger food portion and grant you the luxury of one serving of Fat.

Ahh fat, it makes things taste so good. And after a hard day holding off on munching on snacks and eating smallish portions, Nutrisystem allows me to be bad and splurge: the Nutrisystem way.

And I look at the Nutrisystem guide as to what I can eat as my fat serving. I see there are some almonds and think great, I got a whole can of roasted almonds. And as my fat serving Nutrisystem allows me FOUR measily almonds!

Splurging on just 4 walnuts

Splurging, the Nutrisystem way

Woo hoo. Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Four stinking almonds. So anyway I sort of pass on the offer for 4 almonds. I figure if I’m going to use my Fat allowance for the day I’d rather skip the 4 almonds and get my fat maybe spread out in greater quantities of something else. Maybe when I sneak a few low fat nacho chips (ssshhhhh!). Nutrisystem doesn’t have anything like real nacho chips. But anyway they do mention I should get low glycemic carbohydrates such as brown rice. I don’t really understand the “low glycemic part” so I figure nacho’s equals carbs and being low fat means a few of these is the same as having those 4 almonds and something like brown rice. Right?

I know in not quite following the plan exactly. But it’s close enough. I mean I am actually losing weight. Today I’m at 185 pounds.

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FYI: I'm starting on Nutrisystem Diet

Oh by the way a few days ago I started on the Nutrisystem Diet.  I know I know another missed opportunity to make money for mentioning their name.  I should be putting up a logo with a link to their website and getting paid for it.  Anyway, what has taken me back is how SMALL the portions are.  When you start they ship you a big box of food.  It turns out that this big box has to last for 5 weeks.  Each food item is labeled, breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.

Breakfast looks something like 4 to 5 spoons of dry cereal and then add one banana of my own and one glass of fat free milk.  Uggh, did I eat anything?  Lunch and Dinner are as well proportionally tinier than I had expected.  And on top of this they recommend that you excercise daily.  Well I can see that if I stick with this plan without cheating too much (yes I have snacked on things a bit, BUT I’M HUNGRY!), then I will definitely lose weight.

So I started off at 195 lbs and now I’m down to 187 pounds. Pretty good hugh?  But as I recall the first few pounds are easy to lose because you just started to experience some hunger and if you just started picking up your exercise it’s likely water pounds that you lost.  It’s the next week or two that will really tell things.

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Getting back on the wagon: but work is crazy

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

At my work when it rains it pours.  It seems like all kinds of errors or possible misconfigurations are coming out of the wood work because so many more people in our company are using our website.  I’m getting hit with more emergency, urgent, calls or emails.

Anyway I did force myself to take 30 minutes out of my time off to catch up on Michael Jones videos.  I’m now in the 5th out of 6th set of videos.  Why does this feel so arduous?

Some immediate immediate impressions is this program is NO piece of cake.  It takes hours of dedicated work to digest and practice.  One of he scary parts is where you turn on you website and turn on the part that pays google money for each time someone searches for something on google, they find you and click thru to your website.  You are supposed to budget $500 a day for this and if you don’t watch it carefully and it goes awry you could be making nothing and in the hole $500 a day until you get online and shut down your runaway train website!  I mean I get distracted by something and I’ve been out of touch for a week.  That’s a $3500 bill for falling asleep!

This time I learn about handling failure conditions.  Like if you suffer what’s termed a google SLAP.  Once Google determines that your website is for making money they ramp up your advertisement costs 10 to 50 x larger.  So to stay as busy you need to shell out $5000 to $25,000 a day!!  When this happens you have to abandon your website and start over from scratch. The videos also describe how you should consider writing one 450 word article a day.  So for each website I put up I need to spend a few hours a day doing research on material to fill out an article that I write.  Man this sounds like a 12 hour a day job.  The pitch that is being sold to me in these videos is that it takes hard work in the beginning but once you get going and start getting experienced it becomes much easier.  In Michael Jones words: “This is what will separate the Men from the Boys” when it comes to this business of affliliate marketing

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Falling off the wagon: Man I'm really getting swamped at work

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

Activity with the website I support  has been really picking up and so have the website errors.  Pretty much most of my week back from vacation has been fighting fires after fires.  I mean initially there is that adrenaline rush from being under the gun to fix a problem and then at the last minute pulling out the answer seemingly from just being lucky as well as having just the right experience to see the answer.  But this is all very wearing.

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Returning from vacation

Well now I’m on a plane headed back to Philadelphia. Since I’ve been away from home I’ve still kept in email contact, and I’ve watched both Robbie Benwell and Michael Jones send me a handful of emails each trying to get me to bite on yet something even newer and more exclusive than the blogging packages I already bought from them. Because they both seem relentless in sending me emails I start to feel skeptical. I mean is this how they make money, by constantly pitching you a better opportunity to make money. They both already sold me on the superiorness of the package they already sold me. Why are they selling me something better? Was I just a sucker in buying what I already have? I mean if they are teaching me to follow how they sell by emails, and I’m only starting to feel more skeptical with each new email pitch, I would only expect my prospective blogging customers be just as skeptical.

So for now I’m going to still try and stick the course and complete Michael Jones’s videos and get my blog/marketing website setup.

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Slacking off, Sort of

View from my hotel room

View from my hotel room

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

So I’m definitely amiss in my blogging progress. OK I admit it sounds like a bad excuse but I’m in the Bahamas for the week. This was a trip planned by Virginia’s sister to celebrate my Mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. It was a one of thoses once on a lifetime opportunities to spend some quality time with the rest of Virginia’s family. But it was also a prime opportunity to open up child hood wounds.  Let me tell you I spent many days and late nights up with Virginia as she went thru lots of her emotions concerning the criticisms of her Mom and issues with her sister. These are the kinds of emotions that can wear one out into becoming a TIRED middle aged man. I had visions of my wife fretting with excitement, next crying, next furious, moody, and me starting to get paralyzed with indecision as to how to best support her. So I definitely had reservations.

Anyway a few hours before our plane was to take off she started yelling at me that I always take my laptop with me, that I was trying to do work on my vacation. I have to admit the laptop was partly for work. At my job, I’m kind of the 24/7 technical support. So I sort of wanted the capability to handle an emergency at my Hotel room if I got an emergency phone call on my cell. Any while I was half sleeping Virginia’s ranting got me thinking:

“You know I guess she’s right. I guess I’m starting to become one of those workaholic techo geeks that works on their vacation. Plus it is kind of a pain lugging a laptop around. You never know if airport security might decide to confiscate it. And when I’m in the Hotel room I’ll always have to check it in with the bell hop to protect it from theft when I’m out of the room since the Hotels waive all responsibility for items left in your room. Taking in and out of luggage checking can be a real pain. Besides I’ll have my trusty iPhone to blog from.”

While sitting at the terminal in Philadelphia waiting to board the plane my wife is in better spirits and she asks “where’s your laptop?”. I told her I left it behind trying to let go of tech toys and their enevitable draw to make you work. She replies: “It wasn’t because of me?”

Anyway, I’m taking time out to blog about my time out as I think about the fact that I could be watching the rest of the Michael Jones videos on making money with Click Bank. Right now I’m lying in a heavily discounted but still very expensive room at The Cove in the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas overlooking the ocean.

This place has a ton of water activities and for some reason I’m compelled to not move and just sink in a couch by the balcony or lie on the bed soaking in the ambience of aqua water, a gentle ocean breeze, clear sunny skies, and the lull of waves making parts of my body seem to get weak, revealing stored up stress and fatigue. The hotel gave me free passes to golf and then time with the dolphins and I honestly wouldn’t mind just slouching forever in the bed just staring at the panoramic ocean view thru my eyelids. This is an ambience and sight that pictures just can’t seem to capture.

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Half-Way thru Michael Jones Get Rich Online Videos

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

I’ve been fairly stressed the past few days.  Virginia’s been struggling, feeling bad about herself and she’s been a bit more critical of me.  I work much of my life professionally in front of many computer screens and Virginia makes me conscious of that fact.  This tends to discourage me from spending time in front of the computer on my off hours, which kind of tends to work against doing things like trying out internet based businesses or even writing in a blog.

Anyway I’m now about 1/2 way thru all of Michael Jone’s videos.  He continues to be very real.  He makes it clear that you need to budget an advertising budget of $500 a day.  $500 a day!  That’s a lot of money to spend!  That means when I turn on my website with advertising I need to watch things daily or risk going broke

But $500 a day does sound very real.  If you were to open up a restaurant you’d be spending more than $500 a day, not to mention the initial outlay to buy the restaurant business.  With Michael Jone’s my outlay so far has only been he $77 to buy the package.

Anyway I need to sign off now.  Last night I stayed up really late singing Karaoke on our small Karaoke machine.  So I’m about ready to fall asleep on this keyboard.  Good night.

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Does google control the internet

I have been remiss with Robbie Benwell’s “blogging to the bank”. I mean putting out stale canned blog material can’t make money. Anyway I have put Robbie on the shelf a bit. I do want to give it a fair try and not dismiss it outright. Who knows a canned blog might work. I mean I don’t think I have run across this canned blog anywhere.

So in the meantime I’ve grown interested in Michael Jones’s scheme. Sigh! I didn’t realize I spent another $77 for this. I could have sworn it was only about $30.

Anyway for $77 you get a few hours worth of video with some real meat to it. Michael Jones comes across as very real. He actually gets you to do real math and real marketing analysis using an Excel spreadsheet.

The stuff that really fascinates me is how you make plans to bid for the right to use particular google keywords that boost your ranking in a google search. So you start to see that google is the most popular way to find things on the Internet and what you find is influenced by how much somebody pays google.

So in a way information is organized by the highest bidder. If for example you are looking for secrets to happiness, I could just about corner the Internet, by paying google enough to be listed first on any keyword related to happiness. Given enough money I could just about assure that google always tries to direct you to my website.

I wonder if there was once a time that web searches were based upon a genuine search for the best information. Now web searches are based upon the best financed and promoted information.

I read about a case where an Internet business attempted to sue google, because google changed the rules of how it ranked website information resulting in some websites dropping out of the listings. Google won the lawsuit on the argument that they are trying to make sure that the truly revelant information gets ranked the highest. So google does have a fundamental altruistic goal of trying to deliver the most revelant information. However, it has an obligation to maximize profits by allowing the it’s paying advertisers to influence the ranking.

So anyway I’m about half way thru watching the Michael Jones videos. All I can say is you get very good information on what to set up. Definitely much more nitty gritty detail than Robbie. Michael Jones also emphasizes that you should try out and believe in the products you decide to sell. He touts that his plan will blow away competing blog based businesses. And his videos start to show you why. You don’t make fluff websites, you find out the product you believe in and then you tell your personal true success story with the product. In other words there us no magic, you do real earnest work.

Also you see clearly how you can easily be running a website with some $300 a day in google ranking costs. So its important that once I turn on my blogging website I need to be concious if I’m losing money rapidly.

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Please Please Bless Me with more time wasters, delays and inconveniences?

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

I kind of had what I would call a bad/good day this morning. I say this because depending upon how you look at it I was fortunate or unfortunate and it all depended upon my choice of perception.  I was late today getting my Honda for an oil change.  I had been trying all month to get my car in for an oil change and I kept pushing it back for other things.  It was getting a bit frustrating.  Then I start the Honda and it wont start.

I think: “… I don’t believe it!  Something really does not want me to get this car in for it’s oil change!”

I flash back several days when I decided to move my parked Honda a few feet so that I could squeeze in our Toyota.  Both cars were parallel parked on the side of the road.  At that time I started the Honda, noticed it struggled a bit to start, moved it 2 feet and turned it off.  — When I remember this I wonder back, was that a bad thing to do, to start and shut off the engine so abruptly?

I think:  “damn it I shouldn’t have moved the Honda, I jinxed it.”

I flash back a week ago.  My wife tells me she wants me to start driving the Toyota more and she’ll drive the Honda, since I drive more often than she.  The Toyota is a 2005 car, the Honda is 10 years older.  I hessitate but I start doing it.  — When I remember this my mind is ready to cast blame.

“I start to think: I knew it, I should not have stopped driving the Honda.  It’s an old car and needs to run once a day or it’ll get stuck.  I shouldn’t have broken a routine that was working just fine.”

Back to me in my Honda that won’t start.  I’m ready to bail the Honda and hop in the Toyota and head for work and put off thinking about the Honda until tomorrow.


I fumble for my road side assistance number.  They call for a tow truck and tell me it’ll be up to an hour before they are here.  I think of what to do.  I’ll go back inside and work on my computer.  Then I look around at the junk I have scattered in my Honda. There’s a bunch of empty plastic bottles on the passenger side intended to go into the recycling bin whenever I had the time.  There’s a bunch of papers and some old doctor’s appointment cards. I decide why not take the time to clean out the Honda.

I start to transfer a couple bags of recyclable material from the Honda to the Toyota that’s parked exactly in front of the Honda.

I start to think: “Isn’t it fortunate that I parked the Toyota in front of the Honda.  I mean I think it’s kind of tough for a tow truck to tow a car that’s got other cars parked in front and behind.  So when the tow truck comes in I can pull out the Toyota and let the tow truck pull in and tow my Honda.  I’m glad my wife suggested to me to consider parking the Toyota in front of the Honda”  — However– The negative side barks back. ” Yeah but maybe if you never had to do that bit of abruptly starting and stopping your Honda to make room for the Toyota maybe you’re Honda would have been just fine.”

I continue to clean up the back seat of my Honda.  I think the back seats have been used maybe twice in my life.  Otherwise they’ve been mostly for storage. I find empty glass and plastic bottles destined for the recycling bin. I find a bag filled with Dryel cleaners — Wow!  You don’t know how long I’ve been trying to buy some Dryel cleaners. (Gee if I had my get rich online scheme act together I’d be putting up a Dryel ad for you to click and make me money.  But alas I don’t have my act together.  Oh well. Some day I’ll pester you with annoying ads.  Be patient.) Anyway most stores don’t carry Dryel clothes cleaning clothes anymore only Target does (Ahhh!!!  Another missed advertisement opportunity), which I never seem to have time to get to.  So now I just saved myself a trip to Target and checked off one more item in my backlogged to-do list.

Suddenly, I get a phone call on my cell.  The tow truck drive is asking where I live.  He tells me he’s in front of the building I live in.  I look up and see a big tow truck up the road, engine idling. I tell him look straight ahead at the guy waving at him.  He sees me and hangs up his cell phone.  He pulls up and I tell him that my car won’t start, but I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of getting a jump. He asks me to try and start the car.  I try and he can tells right away my car does not need a jump.  He asks if he can sit in drivers seat and try.  He touches the key but doesn’t start try to start the car.  He fiddles with a few more ignition attempts, the engine sputters and then dies.  He fiddles for another minute and tries again the engine sputters and roars to life and belches lots of smoke out of the exhaust.  The smoke clears up and then engine is fine.  He tells me probably nothing’s wrong, it’s just one of those things.  He mentions something that can happen with fuel lines and fuel pumps at times in this particular car when allowed to sit for a long time.

I thank him.  I’m happy.  I’m appreciative of fate forcing me to take the time to clean out my car.  I stop thinking of a car problem as an inconvenience or a waste of time, but fate intervening and stopping me so that I can clean out my car.  No matter how I planned it, I needed to spend at least an hour cleaning out my car and this timeout forced me to take that hour.  Actually it wasn’t quite an hour and I would have mind more time waiting for the tow truck.

Thank you God, the Universe for blessing me with car problems! Thanks for those wasting my time and giving me delays.

I drive to Honda service to get my oil change.  That was the original point of this whole thing. I mention to them my problems and ask for advice.  They asked me if my engine warning light was on.  I said no.  The service guy is frank with me and says if the engine light isn’t on they probably won’t find anything wrong with the car so it’s not worth pursuing. I’m told it might be 1 to 2 hours though, but I’ve got plenty to do on my computer.  So I go to waiting room they have with internet service. I start writing this post you are reading now.  And in a half hour they are done!

I think: “Awww! Can’t you take longer.  I was just starting to relax.”

I head out to work not ready to be out so soon.  Stopped a traffic light I pull out my iPhone (another advertisement opportunity, ahhh!) and search for the nearest Brew Ha Ha Coffee shop (advertisement opportunity,  aaaah!!) and let the iPhone’s (It’s the new iPhone 3GS that’s 2X as fast as the iPhone 3G now on sale at your local AT&T and Apple store.  Advertisement popup, Adverstisement Popup,  Click, Click, Katching, Katching) GPS direct me there. I have a cup of coffee, relax and finish this post.

Oh did I mention my Honda is a 2005 Honda Accord and I also have a Toyota Prius. (advertisment opp).  And let me talk about the gasoline brand I buy and the brand of tires I use.  One day I’ll be oozing advertisements all over my blog it will naseate the hell out of you,  HA HA HA HA!  I’ll let sponsors put ads on my clothes (pants by Michael Korrs from Men’s Warehouse and shirt from Territory Ahead) and all over my car.

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Getting a bit discouraged with Robbie Benwell

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

Actually, I paid $27 not $29 for Robbie’s package.  I supposedly got a $10 discount of the regular $37 price.   I started listening to the Robbie Benwell videos.  One thing that is discouraging is that much of the videos are actually available free.  You just need to know the web address.  The only thing you don’t get is possibly his template of files.  The basic premise of the get rich online schemes I’m looking at have to do in someway with making a website, attracting people to it and putting something like Google advertisement on it and making a commission off the products being advertised.

Back to Robbie’s videos.  His package is called “Blogging to the Bank”.  For $27 what you get is a PowerPoint slide of Robbie’s secrets, a blog template with content, and an a never ending set of emails with tips, sort of.  Some of those email tips get you to see someone else’s success story and product ultimately getting you to buy their product.  That’s what got me to buy another product sold by someone named Michael Jones.

Hmm. An epiphany arose.  When Robbie sends me an email referring me to someone else’s website, it’s got to be actually his website or else how would Robbie be making money out of giving me an email referral.  Hmmm.  Anyway I continue.

So with Blogging to the Bank you’ll be serenaded by a series of emails stretched out over several days giving you links to his free videos.  They cover the content in his PowerPoint slides but give a much better explanation.  Each video is under 10 minutes long and you’ll see about 5 of them.  So if you’ve got attention deficit disorder you’ll manage to finish the videos before getting distracted.

Here’s where it gets discouraging.  First of all the stuff is kind of techie feeling.  It feels a bit more like I’m talking to one of my computer guru workers showing me how to configure an ASP .NET website.

“What you mean you don’t know how to set up an ASP .NET website?  Well it’s easy you just go to msdn.com and download an eval version of VS 2008 and blah blah blah”

Did I just lose you there?  If I did then that’s a bit of the flavor of how it feels when watching Mr. Benwell’s videos.  So once you manage to get over the techie anxieties, there’s the basic premise of his instructions.  He shows you how easy it is for you to come up with you own blog, gives you two money making ebooks for you to sell royalty free, and then gives you the blog content.

So I’m going to put up a “fake” blog, where there’s several days content already written and I just post them to make it feel like a real blog.  But what happens when the “fake” content runs out?  And there are maybe thousands of others with the same “fake” content.  So that means there are probably blogs with identical content.

Then the final kicker.  I read the one of his bonus books titled: “Update Report”  And it’s got a 2006 copyright.  If 2006 is the update then that means I’m using a package that’s fairly old.  Somewhere out there’s a legacy of the cookie cutter blogs with same content?  Maybe.  I can’t say I’ve seen them, but the internet’s a big place.

But let me not lose faith yet.  I’d like to give his plan a shot anyway.  Giving each scheme it’s full chance is my intent.  If after I give it the full due diligence and it fails then I can give it a thumbs down.  Who knows with billions of people out there it might just work.  I’ve seen people buy things on Ebay for more than if they bought it from a store.  So even if it doesn’t quite make sense it could still actually work.

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Signed on with Two Get Rich Schemes

Well not too long ago I got this junk mail from a Robbie Benwell and signed up to read his presentation on how to get rich blogging.  It cost me $29. As a result of signing up, I now get emails from Robbie almost every day describing yet one more money making scheme to look at and consider buying. It’s definitely get money rich scheme overload! Well anyway I followed one of these emails from Robbie and ended up purchasing another product called Click Bank Code on how to make money selling products that are sold on a website called click bank.  And now I get emails from this Click Bank Code money making scheme.

So I’m now guilty of juggling two get rich making money online schemes at the same time. I started watching some of the that Robbie Benwell had and feels like Robbie assumes that you are already a internet technical geek so he can throw at you technical jargon.  I also started watching instructional videos on the Click Bank Code product.  The speaker, Mike Jones, sounds very knowledgable.

There’s a lot of material.  And it does sound like a lot of work.

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Refreshed my LinkedIn account

Got another wake up call.  My cousin who has spent much of her life as a dancer – spiritualist sends me an email to join her Linkedin network.  Well Mr. Computer guy like I’m supposed to be is not to be stood up.  So it turns out I already had a LinkedIn account — hah!  I’m in the in.  Except I forgot I had an account and so forgot my password.

But now I’ve got my password and am back on board.  I’m part of a network of people I don’t know.  Whoopee!

So how am I benefitting from being LinkedIn?  I don’t really know.  Never mind.  I’m in.

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Compiling new web blah blah blah stuff

So as I’m trying to blog about making money online I keep running up against new stuff that I need to know about to blog competantly.  So now I came across the following new things:

-ping traceback

– sticky posts

– technorati favorites

-flikr photo sharing

I’ve got to get back and look at these.

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Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, RSS, youtube, eBay, Chat ??!?

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

Oh geez.  It’s been a few days now and I’m feel like I’ve been falling off the pace.  You know sleep is good. Aside from that I’d been preoccupied with my wife’s family coming over this evening.  It’s been really nice to have their presence over. Actually, it was just surprising they seemed to come spontaneously over in honor of my birthday.  Work at my employer has definitely peaked in it’s technical demands of me.  Yes I’m an ASP .NET web developer.  If you don’t know what that is, let’s just say it’s pretty hardcore software development and it’s in many ways the hardest kind of software development you can do because it’s in an area that is most  likely to have bugs and errors.  But like I’ve said before I  find myself feeling way behind the times in a lot of technical areas.  I’m a mixed bag of pretty serious technical knowledge combined with large areas of being a dunce. I’m the product of many years of some tough events in my life chipping away at my life energy.  I’m tired with many years behind me.

Let me shift the topic a bit.  Maybe once again it’s the delusional view of a tired middle aged man, but where did all this internet busy body stuff come from?  You know: MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and probably a slew of other things I should be signing up with.  I call it busy body stuff because I don’t know about you but it seems that using all these services/features is a full time job.  I used to be be the computer nerd/geek, but TV personalities, people much older and younger then me seem to be more up with the technical times than I.  I’m no longer the bright geek but a tired forgotten memory of who I dreamed I would be.  Man I need to get with it!

Is it me or is everyone really smart with computers and internet related stuff?  In my rush to keep up with the Joneses I signed up and have a Twitter, Facebook, and something called Loopt accounts.  I’ve never gotten to use them so I don’t remember my username anymore.  I’ve watched youtube but feel a bit embarrassed that my cousin who was a dancer and not computer person started putting up her own movies a couple of years ago.  Movies now portray a reality where someone can catch you doing something embarrassing on their cell phone and feed it to youtube in a matter of minutes.  You can’t really do that that easily?  Can you?  Oh this should be embarrassing, but I’m feel too old and tired to be embarrassed.  I just need to get this off my just.

One of these days I’m going to be up with the Joneses.  I’m going to be twitting, myspacing, youtubing, facebooking, instant messessaging and whatever else is in vogue.  I mean a couple weeks ago I never used this thing called WordPress and now I’m using WordPress, but I still don’t know how to get photos into my blog. I can upload photos but I don’t know how to show them to you. Then I read there’s things on my page about RSS, traceback and pingbacks.  What are these?  One day I will resume my title as technical junkie and I’ll be saying to you:

“You know the other day I was linking live streaming video to YouTube and had it automatically twitting subtitles in different languages using RSS with links to Facebook, Myspace and thigamajig service.  What’s that you never heard of the thigamajig service?  Are you kidding me you need to get up with the times!  The thigamajig service is the ……. blah blah blah.”

I will become the technical Guru.  Oh yes. …. I will.

Oh yes.

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Money making scheme addict

OK I need to come clean and let you know. I think I’m a bit of a money making scheme addict. I read about someone elses fortune get a bit jealous and start saying to myself “gosh darnit” I can do that. I read how an eleven year old is making money from an iPhone flash card app he made. Then how someone hired someone to write a gratitude journal. “Damn it, I can do that.” I get motivated and I plunk down $99 to become a iPhone developer, start watching all the hours upon hours of training videos and several weeks later I’ve stopped and lost steam moving focus into easier money making ventures. Then I get an email on making money not making phone apps but selling them.

Inevitably I bit.  I mean it was only $30.  But then as I was about to make my $30 purchase another screen popped up with a special marketing offer to help bring traffic to the $30 website I was buying.  Another $30.  Well makes sense. Why worry about how to bring traffic to my website when someone else will do it for me for $30.  Then when I spend that $30, I get another special limited time offer.  For $40 I get special tall ads placed throughout the internet to further draw people to my website.  Oh that sound good, so now I’ve spent $100 total.  Hmmm??  How did $30 turn to $100?  And then another page comes up with something like:  “Hold on.  Before you complete your order you we would like to offer you an exclusive offer offered that will double the increase of traffic to your website. Hmmm. For an extra $99 I could be making $100,000 a month instead of $10,000 a month.  Things start to feel fishy.  But there’s this 30 day money back guarantee on everything.  I decide to skip the extra $99 and settle for being the poor schmuck that makes a mere $10,000 a month. And it’s on a credit card so that I can dispute if it’s fraud.  Eventually I quite and get my money back.  I’ve repeated this pattern more than once.

What always got to me was that things are harder than it seems. But to be fair to the get rich schemes I don’t quite put up the effort.  I think that it’s not so much the risk of getting scammed, but the risk of wasting your increasingly valuable time going nowhere and feeling more and more discouraged.  If a get rich scheme says you only need to spend 10 hours a week, it’s probably more like 20 hours, but then I usually put in 2 hours the 1st week, 30 minutes the 2nd and get distracted.  So I really can’t fairly poke holes at these schemes until I put in effort.

So this blog is about keeping me on track to be disciplined and try things out as I’m instructed to do.  If I slack or fall off it will show up in gaps in my blog. No more doing a little of this, quitting, a little of that, quitting, some of that, quitting,  some of this, etc.  Focus.  Steadfastness.  Discipline.  Nothing excessive, just keep walking.

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It's my birthday

So it’s that time of the year.  How old am I?  I think I’ll keep that a secret.  Oh yeah I already told you I am a middle aged man.  Today I turn 23 + 20 = 43 years old.  I put down the 23 because I guess something inside of me feels like I lost 20 years and I should be doing this at 23 years old.  Within those lost 20 years lie many of the reasons why I’m a tired middle aged man.

Last night I came home from work a bit on the late side and I was greeted by Virginia in a bad mood.  We talked.  Actually mostly she talked because I don’t talk that much and I was fairly tired.  But the conversation shifted over to kids.  We don’t have any kids and admittedly it’s a very emotional and sensitive topic between us.  We’ve wanted some. But trying to have kids in your 40’s has been tough for us. It especially hurts when we bump into so many people out there who have kids.  I feel like it’s the kids that separate the mentality of a 40 something couple versus a 20 something couple.  With no kids you’re like most 20 something couples just looking to do things with lots of time on their hands to socialize and simply hang out.  With kids you’re content to close the world around your family and you find all the socialization and hanging out you need just within your family.  You also get to join the “have kids” club.  At 40 something not being part of this club has put a drain on us. And so the conversation last night felt a bit like the wifely inquisition of “why haven’t you asked me about …” or “It feels like you just ignored ….”  And I a bit worn from a fairly intense day at work, not wishing to stir up an argument just listen and as always try my best.

Anyway I’m taking the day off today.  I woke up late today.  It felt good.  But man I felt like I could have slept forever.  I’m planning on going out with my Dad this afternoon. It gets me a bit uneasy though because Virginia doesn’t get along very well with my Dad.  So in the midst of this uneasiness for them moment I’m not thinking about this plan to try out the get rich online schemes.

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Now focusing on how to become financially independent

A few weeks ago Virginia and I saw the movie Julie and Julia. The character Julie decides to dedicate one year of her life going thru each recipe in Julia Child’s book. Sort of crazy idea with lots of heart that drew lots of attention, turned into a book and the movie itself.

Sort what’s left for a tired middle aged man left to do for excitement. Go crazy! Then came to me as I was reading thru the umpteenth get rich scheme junk email. Instead of cooking food from a recipe book I’ll go and try each of these silly money making schemes in earnest from start to finish. I get to share my experiences, struggles and learning and what the heck one of these schemes might actually work. I might actually make money. Stranger things have happened. What the heck let’s go for it!  In most case all I have to lose is around $30 (most of these offers were $30 or less) and my time (by far the most costly part).

The only thing left is to try and set up some ground rules or else it’s not very interesting.  I mean if Julie in her blog said I’ll go thru some of the recipes in the cookbook whenever she can then it’s no longer interesting. But with trying out money making schemes I can’t exactly promise to do one scheme a day.  I just need to set a pace that keeps me actively blogging on a daily basis as much as possible.  It’s got to be a base that is somewhat challenging but realistic so that I don’t disappoint readers (so far just me) or myself.  Well many of these get rich schemes have a 30 to 60 day return policy.  So let’s say for now my goal is to try out one new get rich scheme every month until further notice.

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A bit more of how I got to be tired

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

Anyway enough rambling about the aging of my brain.

For the past couple of years I’ve on and off looked at ways to break out of the same 9 to 5 job working for someone else. When I was in my early twenties I was instilled with the goal to prove myself as a successful entreprenuer. My mother, father, all my uncles started as employees in a corporation then left to start businesses of their own and all reached millionaire level status. One of my cousins was in computers and sold a patent for a million dollars and started his own technology business. My grand father was a multiple-millionaire in China, and my great grand father was a mega multi millionaire in China. All this precedent set me up to prepare to leave my job from the very first day I was employed.

In 1989 when I started working, I looked at technology success entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Micheal Dell, Larry Ellison and Bill Gates and I dreamed of making my success. I mean I esteemed myself as a very bright and talented computer person. I was definitely a geek, hacker type. I was 23 and I set my goal to be a millionaire by the time I reached 30.

Well today I’m 42 (more like 42.99) and I’m still working for the same company I started with in 1989. Believe me I had tried maybe a dozen attempts to achieve financial independence, but you see no matter how talented or smart you are to be successful you kind of have to have commitment. Every computer/Internet success story was preceeded by a very driven effort to capitalize on an opportunity or vision. Hard work doesn’t mean success, but a willingness to work hard is necessary. I guess for me other things came before working hard to get rich. Like courting the woman who was to become my wife. Awww you say. Yes in a way, but it’s been a tough set of years. Maybe you to have gone thru hardships. For me these hardships combined with my willingness to not fight back sort of made me numb, allowed my energy to leak away until I entered depression. You can read a taste of this part of my journey at wakundama.

I have learned a lot. Despite the hardship those times deeply matured my spirituality. I consider myself deeply spiritual. I even wrote a book on spirituality. But for a long time I’ve been troubled with the fact that bring spiritual should somehow be at odds with making money. I think with most people the more money you make the harder it is to be spiritual. But I’m finding that I’m not like most people and so things are often opposite for me. So in some strange inexplicable way now making money is supposed to my next spiritual step. Walking the path of shameless superficial profiteering somehow is a calling. Actually I think part of this calling is for me to share thru way of a blog this journey of a spiritual man thru just doing what so many of us try to do, make more money.

So I welcome you to come along for the ride. A ride to make money. I have no expectations. I may lose money, I may make money, but I have fun sharing and maybe you gain something be it learning more about the reality of making money or simply experiencing one more shining beautiful star in a sea of beauty known as humanity.

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I'm a tired middle aged man

This posting expresses my own opinion and does not represent DuPont Company information, positions, strategies or opinion

To all. We’ll I’m finally here for no one to see. I’m sitting in front of my computer mid Saturday and I’m feeling really sleepy. Boy I could sleep. So much for first impressions on my reading community of which there is none.

Anyway getting back to business. A couple weeks ago I decided to get more serious about looking into making money thru blogging. It seems that there is a whole ton of people trying to sell you some book or instructions on how to make money by putting up blog with advertisements, with the advertisers paying you a commission for a successful sale made thru your adverstisement.

But as I got into it, things seemed a whole lot more technical and difficult then I had expected. This is coming from someone who is supposedly very good at computers. I’m a professional software developer and I have been doing software for about 20 years. I used to teach advanced Java language programming in addition to doing my full time job. So what in world is happening to me that I seem so small in this world of computer technology?!

When I was 12 I prided myself in being able to hook up the video tape recorder to the TV and program the recording of TV shows. I could set the time of almost any digital clock or watch. I knew how to operate almost any feature of the remote. Many years later when the DVD player came out I started to get a little befuddled. Pressing play no longer meant play, it meant step 1 of several steps. Sometimes pressing play meant you get to a menu of things that you can select using an up or down arrow on your remote. Sometimes pressing play meant you got a nasty message like: “operation not permitted” Sometimes pressing stop did the same thing. And each DVD movie you put in behaved differently so you were required to turn your brain on to decide what’s the best thing to select. Do you want subtitles? What language in subtitles? What language in audio? Do you want the long version? Do you want outtakes? And so DVD’s in my opinion were and continue to be more difficult to operate then they should be. But no one else is complaining much so it must be me. Am I growing dumber with age?

I get my wife the non computer person to set the time on digital clocks and watches. I often leave the operation our Verizon Fios remote control to her as well. Yet I know how to set up websites and configure esoteric things like domain name servers. Maybe the reason I can do some pretty complex computer stuff yet in some technical areas be dumb must be because there is some layer of gray that wraps around your brain when you approach 40 years of age. No longer can your brain absorb new learnings. Your brain is closed and so if you encounter something you’ve never seen before, an infant with an open brain has an edge over those of us middle aged men with retiring grey matter between the ears wrapped up in layer of learning resistant material. I learned how to setup websites some 15 years ago before the learning resistant layer. The DVD and Fios came after this layer was starting to set in.

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