12.31.2012

20 Minutes - Fear is Stupid

Hi. It's Joe.

The thesis of this post is that fear is stupid.

The school shooting a couple of weeks ago was very tragic.

But it was also very rare, statistically speaking.

It seems like gun violence is going up in America, but the numbers don't lie.

It is actually going down on a per capita basis.

What is going up is mainstream media sensatioanlism and hype.

Not to downplay the tragedy of young children dying, but several 747 loads of children die from totally preventable (and human perpetrated) poverty all over the world every day.

These are not suburban smiling blonde haired and blue eyed white children, but why that should matter I don't understand. Apparently it does though...too close to home.

But those foreign dark skinned kids have devastated parents too. They also had dreams and futures that were cut short for no good reason.

Flying in an airplane is about the safest way to travel, statistically. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than a plane accident. Yet many people are terrified of flying but will get behind the wheel of a car without a thought.

The reason for this is psychological. When someone dies in a car crash, the mainstream media doesn't make a big deal out of it. It might get some local news coverage, but that's about it. It won't be on the front page of any newspaper anywhere.

But when a plane takes a digger, it's front page news, in part because it is so rare and takes so many lives at once. By putting such disasters in the forefront of the mainstream media (front pages and top stories), people are much more aware of it, and psychologically they are led to believe that such disasters are more prevalent than automobile deaths.

But the only thing that is more prevalent about it is the media coverage. Nothing more.

Remember that war thing called Iraq? American soldiers shot up a lot of women and children over there. The media didn't cover it because it made America look bad. As a result, people think only terrorist baddies died in Iraq and we were over there protecting the women and children. But collateral damage is unavoidable in war. Those innocent deaths are no less tragic than the ones in Connecticut. Where was the outrage then?

And while we are on the subject of terrorism, here's some more math for you.

Instead of a War on Terror, we ought to have a War on Lightning Strikes, because your chances of being killed by lightning are a lot higher than your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack.

Again, you can thank the mainstream media for that. But you can thank mathematics for the truth of the matter.

Humans are social animals. Any social psychologist will tell you that your behavior is largely a result of social cues. You behave socially responsibly only because your peers do. You are more likely to break the rules when no one is looking. You learn good behavior by watching it in others and you learn bad behavior by seeing the absence of good behavior in others.

For a long time in history, social cues came from other human beings, friends and family and society. People were more violent and thus it was contagious. In today's information world, human social cues have been replaced by media cues. The mainstream media is, psychologically speaking, a proxy for social cues that guide human behavior. More violence in the media means more violence in society. But more good news counteracts that. More puppies, for example.

In spite of the violence prone media coverage, violence in society is actually going down, per capita. So to end on a brighter note, we are doing something right (probably, more people are turning away from the mainstream media, because it sucks goat balls and people see it for the corporate propaganda that it is). But we should do more.

Also, I am going to make a prediction. America will not go over the fiscal cliff. It will be averted at the last possible second on Monday 12/31/12, allowing the mainstream media to string us all along in suspense, for ratings and advertising dollars. But no one wants to go over it. The politicians have to bicker and argue and put on a good blustery show until the last possible second, to make it look like they did all they could to protect their charlatan grafting special interest groups.

But mark my words, they will mysteriously reach an agreement before the year/day is done. You'll see. It is so predictable. This is the way it goes down every single time, but people still fall for it.

Time.

12.28.2012

30 Minutes - For Once Are You Gonna Not F Up Your New Year?

Hi. It's Joe.

I am making a new year's resolution this year. This is a bit of a dilemma for me, because this post is completely at cross purposes with that fact. But I am adhering to my advice below by having a totally delicious and rewarding resolution.

Most people who make new year's resolutions F it up. That is to say, they fail. No one knows why this is but I have a theory. It's not that people set the bar too high, because let's face it, most new year's resolutions are pretty obtainable. To tell you the truth, they are actually pretty mediocre. Some might even say lame. Very few people think big when it comes to new year's resolutions. But my theory of why people fail is this...

People set negative space resolutions. By that I mean most people set resolutions to undo something negative in their life, like smoking or being fat. This means they have to enter a negative mental space whenever they face their resolution, and frankly that's a deterrent to goal achievement. This is why people have a hard time sticking with their resolutions. It's pretty basic operant conditioning (Psychology 101). Every time you press the bar, you receive a negative mental stimulus like, "Hey, I am doing this shitty diet that is no fun at all...because I am fat." It's like a double whammy of negatives. You have to do something averse and the only reward is that you come face to face on a regular basis with the fact that you think you are a loser.

But you aren't a loser. You have just let the world convince you that you are. Why would you make a decision to do something adverse based on someone else's lowly opinion of you? That's just adding more negativity to the negativity stick you are beating yourself up with.

No. F those kinds of negative space resolutions. You can still change your lifestyle to quit smoking, exercise, and eat better. Just don't make it a new year's resolution. You should be doing that shit all the time, in small increments. It is called "self actualization" in the vernacular and it has no arbitrary 12 month cycle that guides it.

Resolutions don't cut it for the kinds of lifestyle changes you want to see. A resolution is just a statement of intent. It's useless. What you really need to improve yourself as a human being is a VISION, not a resolution. Figure out what kind of kickass awesome person you want to be, then BE THAT. Become the vision, immerse yourself in it until it is second nature, avoid the people and things that lead you away from your vision and seek out the people and things that lead you toward it.

It really is that simple. The hard part is thinking about your vision and who you want to be. Surprising as it sounds, very few people think about this stuff for themselves. They let other people and institutions do their thinking for them - friends, family, coworkers, mass media, schools, churches, etc. This state of existence usually transpires at an early age, when people give in to peer pressure. Then it is a slippery slope. But you can climb right back up the slope any time. Just decide to be awesome at being YOU.

So don't make any resolutions this coming new year that live in the reactionary negative space. If you make a resolution at all, make it a visionary and positive one. But you should have done that a long time ago. That's not an annual thing, that's a lifetime thing. You only live once. Don't blow it on negativity. Create the life you seek. It's hard work, but it's fun work, with rewards, and you have tons of time to do it.

That said, my new year's resolution for 2013 is to write a book. This is not a lifestyle change, but it is a positive space resolution, because I love to write. Also, the pursuit of this resolution helps me be a better person. I am less likely to surf the web or watch shows on Netflix (a couple of admissable vices) when I know I should be working on the book. In a way, the book here represents the vision and I can ask myself at any moment, am I moving toward the vision? If the answer is no, then why not? Perhaps I have other important priorities. But perhaps I am goofing off on FACEBOOK, and that won't cut it.

Write down your vision and every so often, do a self assessment of where you are with respect to it. Are you closer or farther away? What could you do differently to start moving in the right direction? It won't be easy and there may be obstacles in your path. You still might decide to give up, feeling like it is too hard.

I hope you don't give up. My new year's resolution in 2012 was to learn jazz piano. It's super hard. It is one of the biggest challenges I have ever set for myself. But I am inching closer to the vision. I will fully admit that at times, I didn't want to practice. Sometimes I needed a break from it. Sometimes I was just frustrated and avoiding the piano. Even now, sometimes it seems like even when I practice really hard for a long time, I don't get any better. But I always have the vision in my mind and I am always honest with myself about it. It is something I have to do in this life. Now, when I am not playing the piano or I have been too busy to practice for a while, I miss it and look forward to the next time I can play. I even get a little grumpy when my practice time gets cut short.

Go and be awesome.

Time.

15 Minutes - Today is New Year's Eve Eve Eve Eve

Hi. It's Joe.

Today is NYEEEE. That is to say, it is the eve of the eve of the eve of New Year's Eve.

What's your resolution? I hope it is a proactive one, like learning a new talent, rather than a retroactive one, like stopping a bad habit. If it is the latter, all I will tell you is this, be the change you want. No one is going to do it for you. If you really want to change, you can and you will. Just decide. Make it a reality. For example, imagining being a non-smoker, while smoking, will not cut it. There is no easy way out. You just have to commit. Whenever I want to change a behavior, I think of it as a challenge. I pretend that there is an army of demons working overtime to make me maintain the status quo, but I refuse to let them win. I am better than them. Another more positive strategy, but one that is a bit less effective, I think, is to do it for someone you greatly admire. You kind of make a pact with yourself: "I am going to do this for my wife."

Then, whenever temptation (by aforementioned demon hordes) threatens to waylay you from your resolution, you just envision what your admired "hero" would think if you succumbed. This has worked wll for me in the past.

But proactive resolutions are much better than retroactive ones. In 2012 (well, technically at the end of 2011...), I resolved to learn jazz piano (and Welsh, but that resolution kind of tanked, even though I stuck with it for a while...I am not perfect). I found a teacher and I started diligently practicing. I have been consistently advancing ever since. I am not yet anywhere close to awesome, but I am way better and I have "the bug" now to keep doing it. It is a positive "habit" and I couldn't imagine not doing it on a regular basis. When work and life get the better of me, I jones for it, and I try to carve out time for it every week. It's fun.

My proactive resolution for 2013 is to write my book. It is an exposee of corporate America told through the amusing quasi-fictional viewpoint of a social athropologist who goes into "the field" to study the humanoid (but somewhat soulless and non-sentient) creatures who inhabit the white collar alter universe. At the same time, it will be something of a self help guide for helping people maintain a healthy work life balance while laboring in the oppressive environment of corporate America. There is actually a form of natural selection that takes place in corporate America. The individuals who are best at conformity and un-creative, inside-the-box thinking are the ones who get selected to move up the corporate ladder into "alpha" status (management). These are usually the most buffoonish and douchy indivivuals that no one would ever want to date, which is why it is an alternate, reverse natural selection when paralleled with biological evolution. Middle managers have "corporate fitness" but almost zero "Darwinian fitness," as biologically defined. Conversely, the outspoken, value-oriented, outside-the-box workers in corporate America are usually relegated to storage room B, and never promoted because they like to rock the boat. The corporate entity likes the status quo, because its soul goal is making money.

Time.

12.27.2012

15 Minutes - A Sick Day for Me and Foster (Whilst Buddy Reposes on My Bed)

Hi. It's Joe.

My new dog. Foster, is at the vet today. I took him in for a checkup yesterday to make sure all his vaccines were up to date. On Christmas day, he tore one of his overly long paw nails and was in a lot of pain. Hang nails are painful for people, but they are really painful for Boston terriers, I guess, because he was yelping and wimpering when it happened. After the inital pain though, he quieted down and then just limped around for a day until I took him to the vet on Wednesday. During his checkup, the vet discovered that Foster's teeth have a lot of tartar buildup and they would need to be cleaned. They have to put dogs under the juice for that. I guess they don't like clean teeth. So today I took him in for a teeth cleaning, and while he is under the juice, they will cut back all his nails.

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I have a cold. It is mostly congestion and a cough. But that's misery enough to skip work. I totally can't believe my workplace didn't give us the whole week off. Say what you want about the vitamin company I used to work for (and there is a lot to say...), but they always gave us a week off at Christmas. You could choose one of two weeks to take off. They still operated with a smaller staff, because some people would take off one of the weeks and some people would take off the other week. My current employer is just mean. But that's OK, because I don't plan to be there too much longer.

I hope the Iowa company I applied to gets back to me soon. It has been a week and a half already. I really hope I get an offer. It's a superb organization, and they treat their employees with respect. They seem to value the autonomy of employees, expecting them to do their work and produce high quality end products with minimal supervision. I am not sure how long a company can maintain such a model, because it takes a lot of effort to seek out self starting employees like myself. It becomes even harder as you grow bigger, because there are more people involved and too many cooks can spoil the broth. My current employer can't utilize this model, because it is far too late for them. I totally understand. Even though there are some very good workers who require minimal guidance, their are a lot of super lazy, directionless people too, who need non-stop handholding. I don't know why the organization hired them, but maybe they weren't always this way. Maybe they learned apathy over time, after working at the company for a while and being beaten down all the time. They probably just gave up. I am not a quitter like that. I am very proactive. When a workplace begins to suck goat balls, I just go look for a better opportunity. I don't even fear unemployment. There really isn't any such thing. Unemployment is an opportunity to be employed at your own creative endeavors. It's total freedom. The only reason I don't quit my current job outright is because it stresses out my parents. They are depression era babies and they have a hefty (and understandable) fear of unemployment. I don't like to stress out my parents. I can tolerate this job until I find something new. I am pretty much already checked out. I do my work and that's about it. Don't get me wrong, I do it well. But I don't go above and beyond the call of duty by doing other people's work. The brain drain at my current employer has left a lot of people no choice but to leave. To stay is to settle for mediocrity.

Time.

12.26.2012

20 Minutes - Resolve

Hi. It's Joe.

I am grateful to have a job, but not for the fearful panicky reasons most people have for this gratefulness, as they cling to an illusion of job security. I actually prefer self-employment to working for THE MAN, and I don't fear not having a job at all. In fact, in 2009, in the thick of post-Bush recession, I quit my job at the vitamin company to take a self-imposed sabbatical. That was a little bit scary, but as is often the case, the worst case scenario did not transpire. I was not in debt and homeless. My house was not re-possessed. Thanks to wise money management and an awesome investment advisor, I had a nice little piggy bank to supplement my meager (but incredibly fulfilling) self employment income. I used the time to improve myself as a musician and writer, I took classes on running a small business and I learned a ton.

There is really no such thing as not having a job. If not working for THE MAN is viewed as an opportunity, it's quite liberating. You can pursue your hobbies and passions, and if all goes well, you can even farm out your talents to people in need. One of my ex-girlfriends did house keeping when she was out of work, and she made twice as much money doing that as she ever did working minimum wage. If you work at what you love, you aren't really working at all. I love writing and I love music. I work hard at those things. My problem is, I love them so much I have a hard time asking people for money in return for these things. I am a terrible marketer. But I am great at music and writing and I have to come to grips with the fact that if other people see VALUE in my creativity, I will (albeit humbly) accept cash in exchange.

In 2013, my New Year's Resolution is to write and self-publish my book. Hint: SUBSCRIBE to this blog if you have any interest whatsoever in tracking my progress. By claiming my resolution publicly, I greatly enhance my probability of success. The process of writing and publishing a book is a three step process. The first is the writing. The second is publishing. The third is marketing (if I hope to sell it at all...).

I am grateful to have a job because my planned book is all about having a job in corporate America - what it is like and how to be happy doing it, while not selling out. I have been working for companies for over 12+ years and I still have my soul, because I have approached the monotony of corporate life as an anthropological field study (SUBTITLE: My Life Among the Cube Drones).

So that is my resolution, and it will happen. Recall that my 2012 resolution was to learn jazz piano, and I have been successful (still learning, but taking regular lessons and committed to continuing on the long term).

The writing of a book is pretty straightforward, just hard work, discipline, and DOING IT. I love writing, so I just need to put in the time (I have no issue telling THE MAN to step off, if HE interferes...THE MAN is not a real man...he is the anthropomorphized imaginary manifestation of the American corporate group mindset...think about it! I have no problem resisting an anthropomorphized imaginary manifestation of the American corporate group mindset...). For the past two years I have been doing this 10 minutes of daily writing to practice. It's made me strong.

Publishing on Kindle is so easy nowadays (and free) as to be a negligible issue. The real hard, and somewhat distasteful work, will be marketing. I need to let people know the book exists and make people realize why they should read it.

Following my blog is a good start. CLICK HERE is you want to. Then just type your e-mail in the box on the right. If you don't want to, I am not going to force you. Lord knows I don't need anymore stuff in my inbox either.

Are you still reading this post? An English teacher with several publications under his belt told me once that the only thing a good writer needs to do is to get people to turn the page. He was making reference to actual paper books, but you get the point. If you have scrolled down this blog and are still reading it, I've not failed. To prove I have not failed, I'd like you to leave a comment below (or on my FACEBOOK page, where this post will automatically appear as soon as I click PUBLISH).

Time.

12.24.2012

10 Minutes - A Perfect Christmas Eve


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Hi. It's Joe.

A guy couldn't ask for a better Christmas Eve.

Tonight I made my famed chicken cacciatore with mushrooms for my mom and pops. It turned out great as always. I am going to share my secret recipe with you. I know I shouldn't but it's Christmas, so this is my present for you.

Take 3 to 4 pounds of skinless and boneless chicken breast. Rinse it and drain it well, but don't pat dry. Cut each breast into like 5 or 6 big chunks. Take a cup of whole grain flour (I used spelt) and put it in a big bowl. To the flour add a teaspoon of garlic salt, a teaspoon of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of ground thyme. Add the chicken chunks to the flour mixture and toss to lightly coat all the chicken in flour. This is why you want slightly moist chicken to stick to the flour. In a large cast iron skillet (a big wok works well too) on medium high heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom and then add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and brown it. You only have to brown the outside, not cook it through. Add more olive oil if needed. After all the chicken is brown, put all of it back in the skillet, still with decent heat and pour in a cup of red wine and a cup of chicken broth. Bring this to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium low so it maintains a simmer and set the timer for 25 minutes. The chicken will cook through during this phase and become very tender. In addition, the flour on the chicken will thicken the liquid to a nice gravy like wine sauce consistency (you can use white wine too, but I prefer the darker color and richer flavor of red). Don't have the heat too high or the sauce will stick to the bottom of the skillet. Stir it occasionally. During the 25 minutes of chicken simmering, put another fry pan on medium heat and add olive oil. Sautee a medium sized onion until soft (about 3 minutes if the heat is good). Then add one pound (16 ounces) of fresh mushrooms (I used baby bellas) and sautee those for like 5 minutes or until they start to darken. Turn up the heat a little when you add the mushrooms to keep it cooking good. Add a cup of chicken broth and a teaspoon of dried leaf thyme to the mushrooms and bring to a simmer for 3 more minutes. If the 25 minutes of chicken simmering is not done yet, turn off the heat to the mushrooms. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat to the simmering chicken skillet and pour in the mushroom and thyme broth mixture. Stir it for about 2 minutes with no heat just to blend the flavors. Done. I recommend you serve it over rice or pasta because it is very rich but you can eat it as is. If you like your meals salty, you can add extra salt to the flour mixture at the beginning, but I prefer the milder thyme and pepper flavor, plus the garlic salt has salt in it. If serving a larger group, I say go easy on the salt and let the guests salt to taste at the table.

Super easy recipe. Takes about 1 hour to make at most. Healthy. Yummie. And makes a shite ton of food.

Merry Christmas.

Time.

10 Minutes - Gingerbread Zombies

Hi. It's Joe.

A happy X-mas Eve to all and to all a gingerbread zombie apocalypse.

I hope to someday get this song into the holiday song repertoire. I realize it may be a long time coming. But it's a fun one for the more irreverent among us. You've got songs like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the secular folks, but really nothing for the irreverent.

I think GINGERBREAD (ZOMBIE) ARMY could fill that gap.

Well, the 3 day Christmas Eve is on its third day. I am enjoying it. My folks are coming today. I am hoping to run through a few jazz songs with my pops, but that might have to wait until Wednesday. They will be tired from their road trip today. I have a jazz gig on Thursday and my pops is going to hopefully sit in on a few numbers. Wednesday is wide open for song practicing.

There will be more dogs than people in my house this week. But that's true all the time, in actuality. Now that I have adopted Foster, it's 2 to 1 beast vs. man.

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Well, I should probably run a few more jazz numbers before my folks get here. Have a fun holiday!

Time.

12.22.2012

15 Minutes - Extendo Christmas Eve

Hi. It's Joe.

When you think about it, this weekend is kind of like an extendo three day Christmas Eve.

Christmas is on Tuesday and some people (sadly, not all) have a holiday on Christmas Eve Monday. If you also don't work on the weekend, then you basically have a three day Christmas Eve.

Who should care? No one.

I've told you time and again, I have no idea why you come here and read my blog. It is a completely useless snippet of somebody else's experience of the cosmos. Go make the most of your own section of time/space. I hope that it is "heaven on earth."

OK, so the Mayan Apocalypse didn't happen on Friday. Bummer. That is to say, it wasn't an apocalypse. The Mayans actually never said it was going to be an apocalypse. They thought it was going to be a transition to a new age, with a new calendar. We modern humans are pretty self focused sometimes. Since we use an annual calendar that we have to renew every 12 months (making for great cheap Christmas presents when you are too lazy to put any thought into a good gift), we can't get our heads around a calendar that lasts for thousands of years.

It's also kind of difficult to put your appointments and social engagements on a calendar with such a small resolution. You have to write really small and it is really hard to plan that far in advance anyway.

I am glad I have this extendo Christmas Eve. My goal is to not squander it watching Netflix. I am going to do some house cleaning. Today's goal is to clean out my bedroom and tomorrow I am going to decimate the kitchen. By decimate, of course I mean going through all the drawers and getting rid of the several years of accumulated flotsam and jetsam.

If/when I move to Iowa for a new job, I am thinking about having a "come take Joe's stuff" house party on or about January 11th. I am going to take all the stuff I don't want or need anymore and load it into the garage. Then whoever comes to the party can take their pick of what they want, on a first come/first served basis.

We'll play some foosball (nope, I am keeping that!) and probably have some jams (Yep, I am going to give away some music equipment, if any fellow musicians are still reading this...again, why? Are you daft?).

If that is the weekend I have to move though, then I will have the house party on Saturday January 5th. There is also the Big Lebowski Annual Bowling outing to factor in. We usually do that after the first of the year one of those weekends. So whichever weekend is NOT the house party will be the bowling outing. I hope you can make it to one or both.

Time.

12.21.2012

15 Minutes - I Humbly Submit to Draco the Snow Dragon

Hi. It's Joe.

I was wrong. I am not often wrong but I was this time. And I am more of a man for admitting it.

Draco the Snow Dragon bested me. When he first started raging across Wisconsin Wednesday night, I thought he seemed a bit weak sauce. Draco did not take kindly to that put down and sent me to school, even a little harder than the rest of the people in S.E. Wisconsin, just to make an example of me.

He knocked out my power about 3 PM yesterday. Although the utility restored it by late evening, he would have none of that, and he exploded a transformer in my neighborhood about 5 minutes later. By then, the utility people were too busy restoring power to other people to come back and fix/replace the transformer. I mean, what are the chances of two things going wrong in my neighborhood, right?

By morning, Draco had moved off to breath freezing rain breath on Michigan, but I still had no power. Luckily, my house is well insulated and during the night the ambient temperature only fell to about 55 degrees in my house. I was bundled up in bed, but I woke up about 5:45 AM and decided I was hungry. I also had the beginning sniffles of a cold.

My garage door opener was obviously not working, so I opened the garage door manually and backed out my car. The snow plow guy had cleared my driveway, which was cool. The snow had stopped and the roads were in pretty decent shape, bumpy with ice, but not too treacherous at slow speeds, thanks to the plow drivers working all night. I respect those people.

I drove to the 24 hour grocery store in nearby Fort Atkinson and got some food that didn't need to be cooked (cheese and chips), as well as some ice lattes (gotta have caffeine). It was getting light out when I got back to my house.

When I called the utility to get a status report, they were still looking for an available crew. Rather than sit around my house cold, I decided to go to work, where I knew it would be warmer. Since I knew the roads were OK, I didn't hesitate. But I did feed Buddy and Foster and let them out to crap first. I also, as a precaution, turned off the water and drained the pipes in case the power did not get restored soon and the lower levels of my house achieved freezing temperature.

It turns out, I did not have to worry long. The automated call I received from the utility about 10:45 AM suggested my power had been restored. I decided to work through lunch, then return home and assess the situation. I had lunch and coffee with a band mate. Then I picked up my free range eggs from a guy at work and hit the road.

On the way home, I got some ibuprofen to help me kick back this mild cold. I also stopped in at the mechanic to ask if he could tell what was causing this whirring sound I have been hearing in my car at highway speeds. One of his lackeys took my car out on the road, with me in the passenger seat, and figured out it was a wheel bearing. He then did some hair raising maneuvers on the ice covered roads to try to exacerbate the noise, and was successful. I realized too late that he smelled pretty strongly of gin. But at least I know what the problem is now and he said it is not dangerous (though I suspect his driving might have been). I will fix it next time I bring my car in for something else.

After I got home and took care of the little buddies, I logged onto my desktop at work remotely and did some stuff. It was frustrating, because work is chaos right now and the slower internet speeds of remote desktopping don't facilitate getting work done expediently. But I got it done.

It was an exercise in smooth zen discipline, very patient and methodical. So there's your silver lining.

Time.

12.20.2012

10 Minutes- Letting It Go


Hi. It's Joe.


Before this post, I wrote a quite lengthy post and it was pretty good.

When I went to publish it, Posterous biffed and I lost the whole damn thing. I had foolishly not saved it while I was writing it.

Now it is gone forever. I had some cool ideas about how corporate America resembles evolution by natural selection, because it is an "environment" that usually selects for mediocrity, group thinkers, and fearful employees. But it is not a conscious or conspiratorial entity that purposefully does this. It is just that selecting for such people increases its chances for survival too.

Independent outside the box thinkers are dangerous to corporate America (think Unions), which is why upper management is so mediocre.

I am sorry that you missed the full text of my thoughts on that.

But the purpose of this blog is for me to practice the mechanics of writing. While I appreciate that you guys read it (presumably because the writing is decent as a result of 2 years of practicing said mechanics), it is really for my betterment as a writer.

So, I can let it go. I got the practice in, even though no evidence of it remains.

Next year, I am going to write a book. It's going to be an entertaining treatise on my field work in corporate America (12+ years, and I still have my soul...). Presumably, some of the followers of this blog will give it a read. I am going to publish it on Kindle, with a publish on demand option for people who still prefer to hold a solid book in their hands when they read.

Even though you missed the blog post that was lost, you should realize that having gone through the exercise of writing it, even though it is dissolved into the cosmic ether, I am now an ever so slightly better writer for having gone through the experience of creating and then losing it.

A lesson has been learned. Sometimes you have to let things go and focus on the silver lining.

Time.

12.19.2012

10 Minutes - Frankenblizzard May Disappoint...

Hi. It's Joe.

For the past three days everyone has been saying what a whopper of a blizzard Wisconsin is supposed to get tomorrow. They even named it Winter Storm Draco.

Sounds scary! But it probably won't be.

Setting aside the fact that Draco means Dragon, which is a poor analogy for an icy blizzard (maybe it's an Ice Dragon?), I think if you are going to give it such a sensational name, it should have to live up to that name.

Don't get me wrong, I hope it does. But right now weather.com is saying that the whole lotta snow we were supposed to get is going to be a whole lotta rain instead, at least in the morning tomorrow.

My buddy in Iowa, who was also expecting apocryphal snowfall earlier today said the flakes didn't even start falling until late afternoon. We are both very non-plussed.

I hope that Mother Nature takes this blog post as a taunt and blizzards the @#$% out of us. But it hasn't even started snowing here in S.E. Wisconsin yet. It was supposed to kick off about 5 PM and it is coming up on 9 PM. Nothing...

Bring it, bitch!

Even if it is rain, though, it looks to be a nasty icy freezing rain, and I ain't driving in that. I just wish the mainstream media could check in with reality once in a while. Our media has become so focused on hype that they don't even bother with truth anymore. They tell it like they want it to be, not how it is. We are told what they HOPE is the case. And believe me, they hope for the worst.

It's disaster capitalism, pure and simple.

Remember how this last presidential election was "too close to call" for months, a "real nail biter" right up until election day. They were saying we might not know the outcome for weeks after the election. The mainstream media loves that kind of stuff and so they wished for it. It gives them something to report on and keeps viewers watching, which makes the advertisers happy.

Then Obama sailed on through and crushed Mittens like a bug, bewildering the dumbshit pundits.

I called that nonsense weeks ahead of time. Don't believe me? Check it out, bitches: http://joescoffeefix.blogspot.com/2012/10/10-minutes-fortnight.html.

Then, when this CT shooting happened last week, the media f-ed up all their facts right out of the gate - wrong guy, mom wasn't a teacher at the school at all, there was no evidence of mental illness, and on and on. They made all that shite right up. Is anyone going to call them on it? Of course not, so that is why they know they can shoot first and ask questions later (sorry, bad pun). There is no punishment of any kind for lying. They just publish a "correction" later that no one will notice anyway. Our society is built on lies.

They wishfully thought what they were saying was true, I grant you. They wanted, nay needed, it to be true, for the ratings. We live in a media fantasy land that bends reality. And if you watch mainstream media, you are getting fooled.

Lastly, the mass media so badly wanted a mega blizzard tomorrow, with deaths and disaster. They eat that stuff up. Disaster pays the bills and it's like they collectively WILL news to happen that just isn't going to f-ing happen. You can't WILL reality. Stop trying, cockass media.

Time.

12.16.2012

15 Minutes - You Won't But Someone Will

Hi. It's Joe.

Winning the lottery is a long shot. It's my intuition that people buy lottery tickets because they are unsatisfied with their lot in life and they are hoping that they will get lucky. Then they can tell their boss to kiss their ass and all will be right in the universe.

Why don't they just put in a little effort to make their lives better by doing some things that have a much higher likelihood of success and reward? I suppose it is because that means doing some work, whereas the investment in a lottery ticket is super easy. You can pick one up while you are buying gas and it's only a couple of bucks.

Understandable.

Investing some time and effort in making your life better can be considerably more costly and the payoff considerably less than a lottery ticket. But the probability of some modest improvement is immensely higher than even the lowest significant rewards of a lottery ticket. You don't have to be a millionaire, you just have to be a little bit happier and better off than you are now. Then just keep repeating the process, gradually making improvements until you have the life you want.

This also requires having some vision of the life you want. If your vision is to be a millionaire, that's probably overly optimistic. But if your vision is to be comfortable and happy and want for no basic necessities for yourself and your family, that's totally reasonable and accessible. The American Dream guarantees it. But you have to do some work and stand up for yourself.

You might have to punch a couple of douchebags in the head, because a lot of people out there don't want to see you succeed. Those people build themselves up by tearing others down. Don't take it. When I say punch them in the head, of course I mean that metaphorically. Tell them to F off in whatever way you can. They are not better than you.

It's very likely that you WON'T win the lottery. But it's fairly likely that someone will. That gives people hope, I guess. The probability that someone will get the right numbers can be as high as 1 in 5. The problem is that the probability of that someone being you is like 1 in several million.

Conversely, while everyone else is buying a lottery ticket, you could be improving yourself as a human being, learning a new skill, educating yourself at the library (that's free, last time I checked), saving money by doing any number of positive things: riding a bike or taking public transport to work, spending less on video games or booze or luxuries you don't really need (you just think you do), or joining a cooperative farm and getting your food at wholesale prices.

One of the most positive changes you can do to improve your life is to turn off your TV and ignore mainstream media. It's also one of the hardest things to do. Mass media is a proxy for human social interaction. We get a lot of our human social cues from the media. But we should really get these cues from interacting with other real human beings. Go out and see the world, meet people, socialize. The mainstream media is twisted. The social cues it teaches are cosmetic and shallow. The real world isn't like the soundbytes on the news or TV fantasy worlds.

Go forth and prosper.

Time.

 

30 Minutes - A Three Year Plan?

Hi. It's Joe.

My New Year's Resolution in 2013 is to write and publish (on Kindle) my book. This is the culmination of a three year plan.

I knew I wanted to write a book after I took a self imposed sabbatical from my job at the vitamin company in 2009, and so I have been laying the groundwork, training myself in writing, researching various topics, but it hadn't really crystallized for me until this past year.

I have been working in corporate America for THE MAN for over 12 years. I have met a lot of good people and a lot of bad people in corporate America. I have seen the inner workings of the corporate machine, how it works well and how it fails. I have worked for huge companies, as well as small and medium sized ones.

But most of all, I learned how to survive in it and self actualize my own creative ambitions, without being demoralized or having my soul sucked out - by working to live, not living to work. Indeed, I have thrived in it by adopting a positive attitude that my life is more important than THE MAN's. I learned how to have fun and achieve satisfaction, regardless of who or what in corporate America was trying to put the kibosh on that.

It occurred to me that I have essentially been doing qualitative anthropological research on the corporate culture for all of that time. My life among the cube drones.

THE MAN and I don't see eye to eye very often, as you probably know. THE MAN isn't a real man. He's a fabrication, the anthropomorphization of the corporate entity, an amalgamation of the many individuals and institutions that comprise MANAGEMENT. Yet we tend to have a visceral fear of THE MAN. Who is THE MAN?

There is no individual person that you need to fear in corporate America. There is only the illusion of fear. No one is better than you and no one has dominion over you. If you are a submissive person at work, it is because you succumb to fear of rejection or retaliation. Even the CEO of the company is not better than you. The last CEO of the company I now work for was fired by the board of directors because he sucked goat balls and was driving the company into the ground.

The truth is that you are the best at being you and other people are the best at being them, even if that means they are really good at being douchebags. But they are not better than you at being you. You trump them every time.

You have to be you. That's it. Respect yourself and take no crap from people you don't respect. By definition, the people you do respect will not give you crap. You respect them because they respect and value you. It's mutual.

My book will be all about your value and how you can demand compensation for your value and get it. THE MAN won't often give it. He's not human. He's not moral or ethical. His goal is profits. He'd pay you minimum wage and no benefits if he could. Upper managers tend to best personify THE MAN, because they have a higher quotient of douchebaggery and self-importance, while lacking empathy and compassion. But they are not really THE MAN.

In fact, you have to be a self-important douche in order to make it into management. By definition, these are the people who were willing to step on the heads of other people to move up. It's rare to find a true leader who is respected in management. 

We have a strategy where I work called "giving yourself a raise." When THE MAN does something that disrespects your value as a human being, you need to be compensated. Every month, one of the greasy docuhebag managers at my workplace has a meeting on behalf of another greasy douchebag, who never shows up. It's the most useless waste of time, sucking our souls and taking an hour out of our day. They used to give us food, since it cut into the lunch hour, but now they have even taken that away. Fail. We will never get that hour back.

Except we do get it back. We give ourselves a raise on THE MAN's dime. That meeting is a violation of our human rights, far outside the scope of our job descriptions. So we grant ourselves a free hour of comp time to do whatever we want. This often involves going to the local pub and bitching about douchebag managers. But it could be going for a walk for an hour or leaving work an hour early. It's OUR hour and we won't willingly give it to THE MAN without some compensatory value, when it drains us of the will to live and makes us completely unproductive for an hour.

For over two years now, I have been writing every single day, a minimum of 10 minutes, but sometimes a lot more. I love to write and this two years of daily writing practice has paid off. I am ready to write the book. I have a year and that's more than ample. Recall that my 2012 NY Resolution was to learn jazz piano. I have been doing it. I'm not great, but I am a lot better and I am dedicated to it.

It's hard to quantify it, but for myself, I know it is much easier to write now than it was when I started, as a result of my daily writing exercise. It's much like a sport. You need to train daily, a little or a lot. In fact, with this blog in particular, I usually just free write whatever I am thinking about. It seldom makes sense, but it is good writing as far as form and structure.

As for yourself, if you are still reading this, then it is good writing in the sense that it did not lose your interest. In school, writing teachers used to say, "a good story is one that makes people keep reading." That's it. If you are still reading, like this post.

And thanks!

My book isn't going to be long, but it will be entertaining. It will not cost too much either. I am going to publish on Kindle with an "on demand" option for people who want the hard copy. Maybe $5. Price of a latte. Would you buy it?

I guess you probably need more information. Maybe I will give you a sample soon. I have been doing the actual book content writing at a secret blog called JUICE YOUR LIFE. If you ping me, I will make you a reader so you can check it out and give me feedback. I'd love to know what you think.

Time.

12.14.2012

10 Minutes - DITA and XML Synergies

Hi. It's Joe.

I am on the bus. I ended up not taking the bus yesterday, even though I said I was going to. I remembered that I had foolishly (and wisely) booked a massage therapy session during the day yesterday, and even though it is a very weak excuse, I decided that I might need my car to get to it on time. But that's a bogus excuse because it is right near work and I totally could have walked to it.

Anyway, I drove yesterday. This ended up being a good idea, because I worked late and then met some coworkers at Sprecher's for a team building exercise. I stayed at Specher's until after 9 PM, because we ordered food. I am counting all the time at Sprecher's as work time because I "built team" with coworkers and we talked about work. Upper management doesn't recognize the value of team building as part of company productivity and cohesion, but the employees do. In fact, management frowns on employee fraternizing outside of work, because we often plot their undoing. They can't stop us though. They just don't sanction it. But we employees have actual real work to do, so if there is value in team building as far as efficiency and productivity, we do it. THE MAN can bite me.

On the bus yesterday, I was also going to read my Kindle book on DITA and XML. If that sounds really boring, it's because it is. But, this knowledge will make my work/life balance a lot easier in the future, by minimizing work and thus maximizing life. I work in documentation, and single sourcing using DITA maps and XMLs greatly eases workload. So I will be able to give myself a raise a lot more often by getting my work done sooner. More team building and less working for THE MAN.

Reading about work related stuff on the bus is also "billable" time, as far as I am concerned. Even though management at my current employer has foiled my aspirations at upward mobility, that doesn't mean I can't still do managements job for them. Properly. More golf outings for them means less annoyance at work for me and my coworkers.

I had better go read.

Time.

12.13.2012

10 Minutes - The Douchebag

467507043

Hi. It's Joe.

I am going to tell you a story.

When Phil pulled his compact car into the parking lot at work, he had to stop and stare in dismay at the giant Escalade that was parked right on the line, taking up two parking spots.

Or was it?

It seemed to Phil like his 2001 Prius might just be able to squeeze in on the driver's side of the Escalade.

There were other spots available in the lot, but they were all far away from the employee entrance to the building and it was cold outside. It didn't seem right to Phil that this Escalade should get two spots.

Phil backed up his car a little bit and carefully pulled his Prius in next to the Escalade on the driver side. In order for him to squeeze out of the Prius, he had to park about an inch from the Escalade.

"I am now a bigger a-hole than this guy," Phil thought to himself as he squeezed out of his driver side and headed for the building.

At noon, a burly chap came out of the building. He was one of those people who had no brain pan, the rounded part at the back of the skull. The back of his neck just went up in a straight line to the top of his head.

When he got to his Escalade, he stopped and stared, then he felt the tickle of growing rage in the base of his spine, radiating up into his abdomen, his chest, his neck, and then straight up to the brain pan free pinnacle of his skull. His reptilian brain took over.

He got out his cell phone and dialed a number. He told the person who answered that he needed a tow truck and gave the address of the workplace.

A few minutes later, a tow truck arrived and a stubbly, pot bellied mechanic with grease on his T-shit got out.

"I need this Prius towed," Burly No Brain Pan Man said. "It's blocking me from getting in my SUV."

The mechanic took a few seconds to assess the situation, and then a grin began to fill his face.

"What's so funny?" Burly asked Mechanic.

"I can't tow that car if it is not yours," Mechanic replied.

"Why not?" Burly asked. "It's blocking me!"

"Maybe you can just get in on the passenger side and slide over," Mechanic said. "Plenty of room on that side."

"I have rights!" Burly bellowed. "Why can't you tow that car?"

"Because the driver of that car is not parked like a douchebag," Mechanic replid. "Good day to you."

And with that he got in his pickup and drove away.

10 Minutes - I Got a Kindle for Android (The End is Nigh!)

Hi. It's Joe.

Guess what I did?

Well, I suppose you don't have to guess, because I put a spoiler right there in the title of this post.

I have had a Kindle on my Mac computer for a while, but I seldom read books when I am sitting at my computer. I am more likely to watch Netflix.

However, my phone comes with me everywhere. When I take the bus to work (like I will today), I have a lot of time to do reading or writing. I used to take books with me, and I still might if I already have a hard copy book I want to read. But I have a few Kindle books in my library already.

The awesome thing about Kindle is that Amazon hosts my (and everyone's) book library. So no matter what Kindle I use (provided I am logged in to my Amazon account), I can access all my Kindle books.

Today on the bus I am actually going to be reading a book about writing. Whether I take the new job in Iowa or not (assuming it's offered), I need to bone up on my DITA and XML knowledge. This stuff isn't difficult, but as you know I have a penchant for quality and doing things both efficiently and correctly. This book is the highest rated one on the subject and gets 5 stars. It is also available for Kindle.

Now, when I take the bus to work, since I am doing research related to work, I can count it as work time. Better yet, it is work time where I don't have to be interrupted by e-mails, phone calls (rare), and needy co-workers.

I think I can take the bus both today and tomorrow, so I should get through a decent chunk of this beast. So far it looks like an easy read. Clear and concise. But not a book I would recommend to anyone for light reading.

Are you as geeked as I am for SUNSPOT at the Frequency this Saturday? I am heading to Iowa on Sunday, so I will still be able to go to this awesome show.

Well, I have to go get ready and catch the bus. Ciao!

Time.

 

12.12.2012

10 Minutes - Bundle of Hiss Blockage

Hi. It's Joe.

I went to the doctor this morning for an annual physical. She took an EKG and after she looked at it, she said I have a bundle blockage or something in my Bundle of Hiss. You don't need to know my medical history and HIPAA says I can tell you to F off if you ask, but suffice to say I am in perfect health.

I just think it is cool that humans have a Bundle of Hiss in their hearts. This must be the part that causes mean people to hiss at you and spit venom everywhere they go. I am kind of glad mine is blocked.

My doctors appointment took forever this morning. I had them run some tests just checking for any kind of acute or chronic malady. Why not, right? It's on The Man's dime.

I scheduled myself for a massage tomorrow at 11 AM. I picked that time mostly because I have a horrible meeting at work tomorrow. It is supposed to end at 10:45, but it always goes over. This way they can go over all they want, I just won't be there because my appointment is my out. There's not a damn thing they can do or say about it, because they scheduled the meeting to end at 10:45. I have a schedule to work around.

Piano lesson tonight should be a little bit painful, but only because it is an hour long. I practiced and I feel like I made a lot of progress. But I am still weak in a few areas. That's OK though. My teacher can't expect me to 100% master everything he assigns. He needs to have more stuff to teach me.

Time.

12.10.2012

5 Minutes - New Years Resolution(s)

Hi. It's Joe.

I am going to take the bus to work tomorrow. It’s an exercise in discipline gearing up for my New Year’s Resolution for 2013. I was writing in my hardcopy journal last night and thinking about what I want my goal to be in 2013. It is going to be to write and publish my book on Kindle. The book I have in mind is the one called JUICE YOUR LIFE, about having a fun and balanced life working in the soul sucking world of corporate America. That’s my goal. There are really no obstacles in my path other than hard work.

I also want to write the biographical memoir of my parents, but this is not for commercial use or public consumption, more of a family thing. So I could just make a PDF e-book of that to share with family. However, if it is really good and there is some human interest in it, I might publish it. I have been doing interviews with my folks when I go home to Ohio, asking them questions about the past and gathering information.

Anyway, the bus ride to work is a good 90 minutes one way. It’s longer than driving but it’s focused free time and I don’t have to drive. So it’s a way of disciplining myself to do the work. I ought to be able to crank out a ton of writing on the bus if the other douche nuggets who ride the bus aren’t too annoying.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. In any case, I do need to get back into taking the bus just for the relief to my poor little 2001 Prius. I am still going to continue jazz piano (my 2012 resolution, which I followed through on very well, and it has paid off…). I might also try doing some more Welsh learning.

Time.

12.09.2012

10 Minutes - Have a Vision Then Make It Real


Hi. It's Joe.

I had a vision.

That vision was to totally clean my garage today.

It wasn't a huge vision. To tell you the truth, it was a far less Herculean task than I anticipated. I completed it in 4 hours, and that was including a 45 minute trip to Goodwill.

I am pretty sure I got the hantavirus from all the mouse turdy dust I stirred up sweeping. Also, I am not entirely sure when my garage became a clearing house for other peoples' stuff. But now some of that stuff is at Goodwill, so if it was yours, that's where you will find it. Either that or in my back shed (in the case of someone's lumber and paneling...not mine).

Even though my vision was small, I accomplished it by setting my mind to it and following through.



All of life is this way. Vision is just a matter of degrees. A big vision can be broken down into smaller objectives and each one of those smaller objectives accomplished in a methodical way, until you reach the larger visionary goal.

For example, if I get offered this job in Iowa that I am interviewing for, I will have a vision to sell my Wisconsin house in early 2013. That will mean cleaning up and doing a lot of household tasks, and getting rid of a ton of crap. Cleaning the garage is one part of that larger overall vision. Having accomplished that, I can move on to cleaning the study (bunch of useless paperwork I never look at and probably don't need) and basement (bunch of residual junky music gear I also do not need). Eventually, my house will be in awesome shape for sale.

But it is not going to clean itself. So I have to have a vision of the state I want it to be in, and then set reachable goals and deadlines to get there. My goal was to have my garage as clean as it could be by the end of today. Done.

Even if I don't end up moving, my house could stand an overhaul and a cleansing of detritus.

Tomorrow morning, I have a dentist appointment. I don't like my dentist anymore. They are sending me bills for things I already paid for, according to the insurance. I am going to have to tell them what fer tomorrow. I have no tolerance for our shitty healthcare system.

Time.

12.08.2012

20 Minutes - A Night of Drunken Mayhem and Debauchery


Hi. It's Joe.
Actually, I can't back that up. Last night was very chill. After work, I met a couple of coworkers for a drink and end of week debrief (decompression). We went to the FREE HOUSE in Middleton. I had a Belgian ale that was awesome and pirated some of my co-worker's nachos. There is nothing quite as delightful and a nacho chip encased in a glistening shell of melted cheese. It was even real cheese, not processed. Do I know how to party or what?

The cat is out of the bag on my possible move to Iowa for a new job, if it pans out. That is to say, one of my band mates (who is also one of said coworkers above) now knows this is on the table. It came up in conversation, and I wasn't going to lie. I didn't see any need to tell the band of my possible for real hiatus until a job offer actually came in. But at the same time, I wasn't going to deceive anyone. Honey badger is my spirit guide.

Although HIATVS has been talking about another house concert in February, nothing is on the books. Even if we had something scheduled, it would most likely be on a Saturday and I could come back from Iowa for that. Practicing would be difficult, but not for me. It is all cover songs and so there is no reason we can't learn the songs on our own and then have a pre-show run through of songs on the day of the gig. It's just a matter of doing it. Same day practices are not optimal, but they are doable. I could expound for hours on how band practice is for tightening up the nuances and tweaking things, not for learning songs. But I won't because no one will listen. There seems to be an insurmountable penchant for musicians these days to do no song learning whatsoever outside of band practice. I can't change it, so I just adapt.

Also, because of the nature of the house concerts, which HIATVS performs exclusively (no dive bars with outrageous demands like, "Play for 4 hours, for minimal pay and almost zero audience, while hauling all your gear yourself, and then drive home at 2:30 in the morning..." No thanks!), we can decide how much or how little we want to play. We can customize it. If we only want to perform our top 10 songs and give the attendees a "money shot" performance, that's what we will do.
GUPPY EFFECT doesn't have any gigs lined up at all. The brand would live on in Iowa, I'm sure, once I found some decent players.


After the social last night, I took the long way home and then just relaxed after a fairly intense, though enjoyable, week at work. I watched an old episode of the X Files and realized how badly that show sucked from a science perspective. In this one, they were trying to say that a hot enough fire could separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Even if it were true, hydrogen burns in the presence of oxygen, and any nearby fire would immediately catalyze the recombining of any free hydrogen and oxygen. Ludicrous.

I got a fairly early night too. Slept like a baby (without the crapping myself and waking up needing food every 3 to 4 hours). Today I am going to meet my friend Sherry for lunch and then I think we are going to a social in the early afternoon. It's her social, but she is taking me along as a guest.

I have a goal this weekend to clean my garage. I have to be successful, because I have a goal to write a book in early 2013. This will take a lot of effort and making time to write. So making time to do the less desirable task of cleaning the garage will be like an exercise in discipline and it will make me feel good to accomplish it. Also, if I do end up moving to Iowa, I will need to get this place cleaned up real good.

Last night I also wrote a decent blog post about how Jessica Alba is average. That is how I party on a Friday night. Check it out: http://joescoffeefix.blogspot.com/2012/12/60-minutes-jessica-alba-is-pretty.html.

Time.

12.07.2012

60 Minutes - Jessica Alba is Pretty Average


Hi. It's Joe.

The thesis of this post is going to sound counterintuitive at first, and possibly even sacreligious, but it's supported by science.

Jessica Alba is just average.

That's not to say she is not beautiful. Rather, it is to say that the group consensus on what is beautiful tends to be those physical attributes that are the average (arithmetic mean) of those attributes in the general population. Thus average is beautiful and to say someone is uniquely attractive is a contradiction in terms. An attractive person is actually quite commonplace.

When studies are done on this, people rate images of people as more attractive if they have physical features that fall close to the average in the general population in which they live. Some scientists even took images of real people and then "averaged" out the facial features, visually. When they did, people rated the manipulated images as more attractive, presumably because they were closer to the population mean.

As it turns out, Jessica Alba has facial features that fall very close to the average dimensions that most people would call attractive (SOURCE). Kim Kardashian would also approach the mean in this regard.
The distance between the centers of the eyes and between the eyes and the mouth, as a proportion of overall head size, seem to be the key determinants. You subconsciously do the math when you assess beauty, but when you deem a face to be attractive, it is because it is average. Nothing more.

These average facial proportions would, in the abstract, be the Platonic "ideal" of beauty. I don't think there is any way around it...beauty is common. It's the thing you have the most likelihood of seeing in the physical features of others, drawn at random from the population. Indeed, this might be why we see a lot of beauty in nature. Nature is the average of billions of years of evolution. When nature is disrupted (uniquely), we say it looks ugly (think oil refineries).


Jessica Alba's Average Face (SOURCE)

So that's enough on that. Here is where it gets good. This attractiveness ideal that you have in your head is based on experience looking at the people that you see when you are out and about in the world, and then taking an average ideal against which to compare other people.

Many people take their social cues from the media, and in particular, advertising, which is everywhere these days.

Advertisers always try to show attractive people when marketing their products. So even if you have no interest in the product advertised, your brain is still taking in subconscious cues about the people you see in the ads. All the models on TV and in magazines are essentially customizing your brain to the attractiveness ideal of advertisers, which in turn is based on the average traits in the general population, which in turn sets the standard for attractiveness, which then guides the advertisers...full circle. With airbrushing and digital manipulation of idealized people in ads, it almost can't be more middle of the road milquetoast average.

But if you buy the product, you will be more like those beautiful average people.

Physical attractiveness is about as far from unique or special as you can get. It's actually the most common thing out there. Think of a bell curve of the population with the most attractive people clustered around the middle. There are probably sound biological reasons why we are attracted to the commonplace. The mean of the population is where most of the population is. Other evolutionary adaptive traits probably ride along on the genes for attractiveness (most common means you have genes that make you more likely to be alive, statistically), and so your Darwinian success (aka, your ability to find a mate) is probably best served by using physical attractiveness as a proxy for a "fit" mate.


<-- JUST AVERAGE...

But there's a catch. Almost everyone else thinks the average people are attractive too. So you have a lot of competition if you are just basing your selection of mates on physical attractivess.

You actually need to go beyond the average of physical attractiveness in a person and find their VALUE. These can be personality traits or skills or anything that singles someone out of the mainstream herd as "special." In fact, you need to convey to other people what makes you special too.

It's a two way street.

This is why you can date a physically beautiful person and quickly lose interest if there is no "personality." This is also why you might be attracted to the unique personality quirks of someone who is not as close to the physical attractiveness ideal. Indeed, you should let the herd mentality run free in everyone else, even encourage it. While they are all competing for the physically attractive (average) people, you can be more selective and find someone more special when no one is looking.

Also, ladies, when your man is checking out a "hot babe" when you are out on a date, just remember...she's completely average. Mediocre. Middle of the road. The hotter she is, the more average she is. Most of the time, this hot babe is not special in any way, as far as your man is concerned (mathematically, this is the most logical conclusion he can reach...so just ignore the drool...he can't control that...).

Science does not lie. See above.

I wrote a song about Jessica Alba once. It's pretty mediocre.

So I guess it's actually good...listen to it HERE.

Your thoughts?

Time.

10 Minutes - My Life Among the Cube Drones (Subtitle)

Hi. It's Joe.

After my positive conversation about Kindle publishing with my coworker's wife last night, my book writing motivation is redoubled and my outlook retripled. We concluded that there is no reason everyone should not be writing a book about whatever they want, because the ability to self-publish is now virtually effortless and also totally free.

This weekend is going to see a mad push on writing my parents' biographical memoirs. I have to transcribe the audio from the recent interviews I did with them. I am not saying writing a book is easy, but it can be fun, in the way that physical exercise or math problems can be hard but fun. I hope I can also do some free thought writing toward my non-fiction work/life balance book, tentatively titled JUICE YOUR LIFE (Subtitle: Wear Slippers to Work and Other Tips for a Happy Work/Life Balance).

Would you buy such a book? It will have broad appeal and be entertaining and funny, though largely focused on corporate white collar professionals (cube drones). I have been doing "field research" on cube drone behavior and habitat for the past 12 years or so, so I have a lot of data gathered to write an informed book on the subject. Another subtitle could be: My Experience Living Amongst the Cube Drones.

Anyway, with band stuff on the back burner right now, I have a lot of time and energy to devote to this alternative but equally fulfilling creative endeavor. I hope you'll follow along and give me lots of feedback and guidance along the way. You are the best!

This weekend I am also going to a social with my friend Sherry and I have it in my head to spend some time cleaning the garage. There is a lot of shit out there and with the Holidays fast approaching, I could do my good deed of the month by taking some of it to Goodwill.

As a result of an SEO back linking experiment I am doing, I now have to seemingly randomly type Hello Kitty Cakes and Is Kim Kardashian Pregnant? Don't ask. Or do...it's not that interesting though.

Time.

30 Minutes - Is This Thing Even On?


Hi. It's Joe.

I decided today that I might be anti-obsessive about women. At least that is the word that I came up with to describe what I think I am.

I get the sense that a lot of guys get obsessed with a desirable woman and then they pursue her and try to win her over, even if she is clearly not interested. Even when they get rejected, they can't let it go. But more often than not, when they "get the girl," so to speak, the shine soon wears off and they lose interest. But when they are declined in their advances, then they just can't get enough of the girl. They are, in short, obsessed.

This is not true of every guy, to be sure, but a fair number of them. I know some that are obsessed even after they dated the girl and then broke up.

I think I am on the other end of the spectrum, though. The anti-obsessive end. I let attractive women go too easily. It's not that I don't engage women and even sometimes ask them out. It's just that I don't obsess and I don't care if I get rejected. I am rarely rejected, but this is because I have high standards and rarely make advances unless I am very impressed by a girl. But even then, I have no problem letting them go if they decline me for any reason.

I look at it this way, obsession assumes some sort of preconceived notion that a woman is way more awesome than she actually is. I mean, all women are more or less awesome. I am not implying that women are not awesome, on the main. What I am saying is that in a relative sense no woman is that much more or less awesome than another. This goes for guys too.

So, I guess I just don't give a shit. I know I am a good looking, fun guy. I totally have my shit together and I play rock-n-roll music to boot. Women should recognize that I am pretty awesome too, and if they don't, well, they have their reasons. Who am I to question it. So rejection doesn't bother me, I just move on. They say some women play hard to get. I will never know. When a woman declines me, that is her "final answer" as far as I am concerned. She is relegated to friend status and the chances of me approaching her again are nil. If she later sees the error of her ways and approaches me, that is OK. I will address those rarities on a case by case basis.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a girl out. She had impressed me in some way and separated herself from the herd. She very politely declined. She even felt bad about it. I was like, whatever...honey badger don't give a shit. I mean, it was a long shot, but it never hurts to ask. She might have said yes. But she said no, thus denying herself me forever. Because I don't obsess. I have better things to do.
Of course, I don't get a lot of dates either. But when I do, they are usually quality. This is because the woman has recognized a good thing when she saw it, and that is mutual (because I would not have approached her in the first place, had I not seen that little extra push over the cliff of awesomeness in her). The relationships I have had have all been quality and I am still friends with a lot of the women. I much prefer this quality vs. quantity approach.

Sometimes I am mislead into thinking a woman is quality, when she really isn't. A few months ago, some girl picked me up at a rock show. She seemed cool, so we "hung out," if you follow me. But then she turned out to be a total flake-a-rooney. Again, I just let it go. Zero obsession.

I feel like there must be something wrong with me because so many people around me seem obsessed with relationships and attracting people. But I honestly think there is something right with me and wrong with everyone else.

Note that I am not obsessed with Kim Kardashian either. But some of you are, dear readers, so that is why I have provided you with the "bait" image of K.K. in the upper right. Your obsession will lead you to click on it, to see a larger view of her admittedly very smoking hot body. Please do so...and good luck.

Time.

12.06.2012

10 Minutes - Hello Kitty Watch

Hi. It's Joe.

I went to an after work social function tonight and for a little while we were talking about Hello Kitty. Of course, this came up because I was talking with one of my coworkers and his wife who are into the Internet and SEO stuff.

They told me Hello Kitty watches and jewelry are big. So I figured I would start this post off with a few boring back links to my other Hello Kitty posts.

But then the after work social got really good. My coworker's wife is all about Kindle Publishing. Actually, she is all about Nook publishing, which is Barnes and Noble's equivalent to Amazon's Kindle. But she knows her online publishing shite, is the point I am trying to make here.

I had taken this UW Extension class about Kindle Publishing, which in retrospect was somewhat of a waste of time. My coworker's wife told me that it is easier than ever to upload a book to Kindle. It just has to be in MS-Word and formatted right (which is usually easy, unless for some reason the book has odd formatting). Then you just upload it. After you do, you have the opportunity to review a mock-up draft of what it will look like, and if it is not right, you can reformat the Word doc until it is.

You also have the option to add your book to CrateSpace, which is on demand hard copy publishing. All of this is completely FREE. They will even give you a free ISBN number and even though they are the publisher, you keep 100% of your copyright.

So there is really no excuse anymore for anyone to NOT write a book. The Kindle publishing part is actually the easy no brainer aspect. There is no getting around the hard work of writing a book, but if it is fun work, it should go fast. I know the secret to making book writing fun and productive. I will tell you if you ask, but there is no free lunch. I am doing the thing I refer to right now, actually.

There is also no getting around the hard work of marketing your Kindle book to make sales. I think that is even harder work than writing the book. You have to promote it and beat the pavement to expose people to your book. I could see that as being fun, if you got to travel and give seminars about the topic of your book. This would work well for my JUICE YOUR LIFE non-fiction book for working professionals (not yet written, but the ideas are in place).

I think my calling in life is intellectual property manufacture of a nature that is useful to people. The hard part is letting people know I have some information that is useful to them. I make a guarantee right now, if anyone who buys my (pending) non-fiction book finds the information not useful, I will refund them (not including the Amazon fee taken off the top of the price). That's really a win-win. Or at least a win-not lose.

Time.

10 Minutes - Who is Hello Kitty?

Hi. It's Joe.

I have a meeting in 30 minutes that pretty much precludes me from doing anything useful at work.

Perfect time to write a blog post.

I am so out of touch with popular culture. Who or what is “Hello Kitty?”

Apparently it is a pretty popular cultural icon (aka, a pop culture icon).

I was doing a little SEO experiment this morning. I follow this niche marketing blogger called Niche Chick. The Hello Kitty niche was her topic for today. She supplies a bunch of relevant keywords she has researched, but I usually just go into Market Samurai and do my own keyword and competition analysis. It’s a good tool.

The main reason I am telling you this is simply so I can do anchored back links to the keywords “hello kitty bank” and “hello kitty cakes.” Apparently Hello Kitty [piggy] banks are popular with kids. To tell you the truth, Hello Kitty pastries and cakes are probably also very kid oriented.

I want to say the niche favors girls, but that is just my gut sense.

That’s enough about that. I have accomplished my back linking goal.

On my drive into work today, I listened to a bunch of Bad Religion. They are a potent punk rock band. I can’t figure out why I like them, but I do. I guess it is the irreverent lyrics. I think I might add a Bad Religion song to my wish list for HIATVS, even though I am not sure how much time this band has left, should that Iowa job pan out.

I was a little bit discouraged at band practice last night. I had been waiting 2.5 weeks to jam the three new songs we are learning. I thought they would rock harder than they actually did. They were all a bit lackluster. That’s nobody’s fault. I just wasn’t feeling them. I am going to ask the rest of the band what they thought this morning.

Time.

10 Minutes - Is Kim Kardashian Pregnant?


Hi. It's Joe.

I am not sure what Kim Kardashian is good for, but I will bet there is something she is good at.

I don't know if making a sex tape qualifies. Anyone can make a sex tape. I could make one. With a little effort I could probably make one that was a good sight better than Kim Kardashian's.

But I don't want to go down that road, because it will escalate into a contest to see who can make the best sex tape. I mean, don't get me wrong, I would thoroughly LOVE a new reality show about people who make sex tapes. The goal could be to see who gets the most totally undeserved fame at the end of the series. I just don't want to be the instigator, nor a participant, of such a reality show.

I would however watch the show. I might also claim some sort of intellectual property rights to the show, having just disclosed the idea here. But my case would be weak and virtually unenforceable.

Maybe Kim K could host the show. The ratings would be through the roof. Maybe I really should patent this idea before it catches on.

Time.