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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AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! AAUUUGGHAAAHHH!!!!! HHAAAAAPPPYY!!

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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