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Playing the fool is always an interesting choice.

People who compel you too, are almost always bringers of the tragic. People who influence you to, are almost always bringers of comedy.

I still remember finding out that one of the (then) new consultants was uh, what’s the technical term?…oh, a liar. He lied. Week one of the job he did a stupid thing, and rather than own up to it he out of something pride-based, maybe shame or embarrassment or some over-confident belief that he could protect his reputation by just lying, did a lie that started with “definitely…”

And I was able to copy and paste to him the thing that showed he was definitely lying.

I just took a deep breath, because I guess that’s my entire point in a nutshell. Strangely, I think that playing the fool can result in the most insight.

Playing the fool for me turns into a game of chess. The “When should I show my hand?” question becomes a constant one. It sounds like a stupid game, because it is, but the whole process also gives you insight on a person. How much more they’ll double down. Casually lie. How good they are at lying. What they’ll employ their confidence for. Why.

It’s very, very, very, very different than actually being a fool. It’s also more dangerous than being transparent, or bullheaded with regard to every red circle.

Note: not for the bull.

I think resilience is a key component of strategy. Resilience gives rise to patience, and results in not having to be so reactive to the point that the resilient person can demo a level of patience that good plays can result from strategy.

Whether or not it does, or is the most ideal way forward for a few steps is not good post-fodder for here. I just don’t think I’m wise enough to understand that part.

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One time at UB I was taking this “Love and Intimacy” psychology class because it fulfilled a requirement, and at night, and who would find this uninteresting? I was in lab-boy mode most often at this time. This meant being a little more awkward, and assuming that everyone was most interested in what a book said and how said book could be added to.

The class unfortunately discoursed a bit like cosmo articles. Cherry picked correlations with well-intentioned advice. It wasn’t the woist, but it didn’t have the intimidating rigor that some of the neuroscience classes did. Anyone with a good heart could guess this stuff and not fail.

And the instructor was making a class fun by having a “True or false” and the class was supposed to say true or false together, and then the census would be checked by the “right” answer.

One of the questions was “Women can experience two kinds of orgasms.”

……

And this class that was predominantly women gave mixed responses, that much was clear. I said “false…”, and that got a little washed out in the mixed review. But what wasn’t washed out was when I continued my sentence with “there are three.”

So essentially

Professor: “True or false, women can experience two kinds of orgasms”

Quarter of class: “True”
Me and different quarter of class “False….”
My dumb ass alone: “…. there are three.”

So there’s a pause and the whole room is looking at me. In my head I’m like “that sounded really confident. Shit. Why did I said that. Shit, I think I read this somewhere. Wasn’t it like *is sure of two kinds but not the third* shit here it comes”
There are like 2 other guys in the whole class and I’m getting many sideways looks.

Lecturer clicks next, and slide reads something along the lines of:

“FALSE! Research has shown that women can have three kinds of orgasms. Including [*insert some stuff you can google*]”

Teacher lady goes “Eric, I am a woman and I don’t know how many orgasms a woman can have so I want to know how you might know…”

At this point I was trying not to blush and heard myself completely go from badass to asshole by saying “Ask your mother.”

And I don’t think she heard me because she started saying, “but I can’t date my students! I can’t date my students!”

I think we were both trying to be funny. And if we were succeeding, maybe it wasn’t in the way we wanted to be funny.

Anyway, no I did not get lucky with any person in this class as a result of this story, but one guy thought I was cool and offered me drugs about a week after — because college.

The End

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Has nightmare
nightmare is we have received instructions, species style, for space expedition on Saturn
For some reason I am invited and say sure.
Goes along for ride
Due to dream time, am then on Saturn
Apparently there is a shuttle to visit moon
Doesn’t think getting on shuttle is good idea but ok
Gets on moon
Starts exploring with team
See’s weird alien temple in distance
Hears drums
Shuttle explodes
Fire people start coming out of temple
Me, “They don’t look friendly. Is this ritualistic dancing from a bad 80’s movie?”
Gang: Derp derp
Watches giant space-fire-dragon exit temple like some WoW boss
Its teeth are the size of my head
Its eyes look made of fire
Me: “Oh GOD DAMNIT.”
Gang: “Gee maybe we should go”
Me: Is so annoyed that all these expeditions took one shuttle to this stupid moon
Me: Thinks about how there is no known ride off of this rock
starts calculating the logistics of being trapped on a moon on saturn
Decides that even if I am not eaten by a giant space dragon that I don’t have the survival skills or resources to live very long on a Saturn move
wakes up
cat is glad I’m awake
cat shows me butthole
realizes that there may be a flaw in a new project given to me at work that no one else has realized yet

I think this was a weird work-stress dream.

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I don’t mean to be political but I’m gonna share a personal experience that piddles me off to this day:
When I was in college I went jogging. At night. Because I felt like it and could and this type of activity needs no justification.I was on a track field. I was running to rammstein. I was getting into it and jumped over a thing that I wasn’t sure I could jump over and felt mighty and went “Yeah!”

Five minutes later, no exaggeration, at least three cop cars pulled up, followed me, and I turned around to shining lights and a cop pointing a gun at me — finger on the trigger.
I had to be very diplomatic, cautious, and slow because I trust what that finger was capable of more than the thinker behind it. There was no crime. One of the cops was parked there and when he heard me go yeah, called for back-up because he thought that might be the yeah of someone raping someone.
…….This is actually the explanation I got. The way and fact that they explained it makes me think that these people are so stupid that they don’t understand that summoning a small army instead of having the guts to investigate a weird yell made by one person is um….shitty tactics. The decision to pull a weapon on one person, so as you can MAKE SURE they don’t get away from your imagined crime…. man.

Little eager to assume horrible felonies, aren’t we?

Anyway, I certainly wasn’t traumatized, but to say the least I was very weirded out. I remember not wanting to even tell my mother, because that incident would do nothing but cause her worry. I remember sitting in my dorm room thinking that if I was a true asshole, or hadn’t heard the cop, that maybe I’d be the worst kind of news story. I think most of those cops weren’t responsible. I think one of them even apologized as soon as we had everything sorted and even offered to drive me back to my dorm, but I FELT much safer walking home by myself instead. Something about having a guy draw a firearm on you and yelling demands has that kind of effect.

And I feel like way more pressure was on me to de-escalate the situation and help the cops sort out their issue, than the issue was on the professional cops.

Guns aren’t bad. Cops aren’t bad. But people who don’t have what it takes to be responsible enough with their gun should be banned from having guns and, if they still want guns, they should be told that they have to responsibly take care of a cat for 60 years first. It seems to me that the Kyle Rittenhouse trial is disillusioning this entire country to the reality that too many people who possess guns aren’t responsible enough to use them appropriately, and that too many of them won’t actually be held responsible.

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I, do want to soapbox although also not really. I sort of want to talk to the sky and make points of my thoughts to the point where at the end I can lower my head and go “of course.”

Coffee, is a very dangerous drug.

It looks like I’m about to go full-time. I don’t super care about that.

I know there are elements to the picture that I don’t yet see, but I do know that good work, earning a good reputation, and satisfying curiosities and giving a damn are key points that I feel like, shucks. Yey. I do super care about all of that.

But unless something tragic happens, I’m very, very much looking forward to new opportunity and challenges, and it has me feeling way, too, corny.

And it’s not all juicy good too.

There’s also a side that is like “what challenges will be brought when the pendulum swings the other way?” Waiting for the other shoe to drop can make you feel heavy. I didn’t always have that side feel as tangible, but people are also less risky as they get older — right?

Here are some tips that I’m all about:

Politeness and courtesy should be basic parts of professionalism. This doesn’t mean be a fucking battery of bunny rabbit positivity. But people like working with people who they like working with. And consciensciousness, pleasantness, and even a good joke cracked at the right time adds tons. I still don’t understand why I’ve met some professionals who are hellbent on being unpleasant — they’re not the majority, but they do exist. And I have to wonder if they have a survivor’s bias — where they think that being a cheeky asshole constantly about to pucker was a key to their success. Just because they’re around that must prove it’s best, right?

nah

If you’re not curious, you’re not growing and you’re not driven to grow. The best projects for a person are going to make them curious about stuff.

Issues aren’t problems. Issues can be caused by problems, but problems are much, much worse.

A good way to decide if you need to say something is to go “Does this need to be said?” and also “Do I need to say it?” This is also great if you’re working with multiple chiefs, because by the time you think this through someone else might be chiefing it.

I’m a product of my era and have a softspot for people calling me “man” but, only if there’s a hard-established mutual respect in this relationship. People who start calling me buddy, or things besides my first name make me wonder if they’re presumptuous folks who presume that they’re slick enough to make me malleable for unprofessional reasons.

Don’t assume malice if incompetence is a possibility.

Patience and a few words is almost always better than reactiveness in a bunch of words.

Synergy is a weird buzz word. Optimize is just a good word.

Sometimes agilitating is the most optimal word.

Yep cool that’s enough.

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Proposals aren’t easy on guys. Like it’s a great problem to have, but I didn’t want to have a standard story.

So last Tuesday I picked up the ring but told her I was going to petco. I’d also planted the seeds that I wanted more water conditioner a few days in advance, by doing REALLY CLEVER stuff, like saying, “Man, I should buy more water conditioner!” on the Sunday. And then, “crap, too late to go out now I’ll pick some up tomorrow.” Ah yes. You can take it from me, a master deceiver, that no one — even me — was the wiser.

I did actually go to petco too. While there, I took a picture of a great looking oto and texted it with the caption “OMG A SHINY OTO LOOK AT IT.” This was to succesfully annoy her. Then at petco I asked the guy to give me a bag of water. He looked at me like I was a goddang weirdo. I told him I’m also buying water conditioner and I want to test it first. He kept looking at me like I was a goddang weirdo. I smiled and told him I’m kidding, but I’m about to (maybe) get engaged and want to put the ring in the bag and pretend it’s a fish to surprise her. He still kept looking at me like I’m a goddang weirdo, but he also finally gave me the bag. I paid and went home. Before I went upstairs I put said ring in said bag.

This is the moment that’s quite scary.

At home she saw I had a bag with what looked like ANOTHER swimmer and I went “THIS ONE’S REALLY COOL.” and went into my fishroom/office. I heard her sigh, but she also likes seeing the swimmers so, she came in. I put the bag on my desk and went “So….I got that water conditioner.”

“Uh huh…..”

“And, also, I got a new shiny…”

and then I got on the knee.
Oh man. I wish I had a video of her eyes. The bag had like a liter and a half of water, and the ring is something I can put a lot of pride behind, but it’s like….not so obvious in a big bag — trust me, a fish that wasn’t sunken to the bottom would be easier to ID. But she still sees that I’m genuflecting and starts freaking out. Like she was looking at me, the bag, me, for an escape route, then the bag again, within 3 seconds.

“Wait, are you serious right now? WAIT. Is that a fish. THATS NOT A FISH. OMG ARE WE DOING THIS.”

After about 2 minutes I had to go “So …..yes?” because I’d been kneeling / holding for a long while and the bag was getting really heavy. I hadn’t factored that part into my plan, so, isometric work out was me.

She said yes, and minutes later her fitbit went off because her heartrate was so high it thought she’d just had a work out.

It’s been as much of an eye opening experience for me, as anyone. I don’t even want to detail it further than that, but having a new f-word in my vocabulary is enrichening. I was technically wealthier before we did this, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

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I’m taking a 15 minute break to point out,

some weird mental stuff happened this weekend. There’s a good battle scene in my favorite fantasy trilogy where the overly skilled, plot-armored main characters are trying to complete a battle but they’re just….exhausted. And I don’t really melee, but was reaching that level of burn-out — even depression, but,

I slept

I slept a LOT. I think I slept more than 40 hours in the last 4 days which is pretty alarming.

I’ve been getting 4 hours on most work-nights. And this three-day, man that helped. After sleeping so much, learning the value of a physical exercise and how I can make it meditative, man

Life might not be perfect,

I might not end up being every point of relations perfect cup of tea,

but I feel swell! Cool enough to have drive but not be impulsive and also explore — and that too me is a verve that’s the opposite of depression.

I want to say that my greatest privilege in life is being able to work towards results I can be proud of, and here we are 🙂

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You’re walking in the woods

There’s no one around and your phone is dead.

In the corner of your eye you spot hi-

No I kid.

I still don’t really have a hard definition for smarts…..I don’t like thinking of myself as smart. I prefer thinking of myself as “not dumb”. Dumb is easier to define and prove. Dumb is “Doesn’t get solutions.” Dumb is “results in problems.” Smart is easy to define as “the opposite of dumb” but, that’s not the most precise definition. It’s still problem-oriented, and there’s a solution-oriented definition that’s even cooler.

The thing is, there’re so many ways to create solutions to most things! And relativity fucks up all objectivity — trying to figure out who is smart in a room full of smart people is usually the type of juice that’s not worth the squeeze. That room should bring different solution bringers that prove why smart is an x factor. That guy who’s creative enough to see past the functional fixation of an object (“This pen can be a stabby device too”) and be resourceful is smart. That gal who can retain data AND have it at hand enough to gain insight based on an established set of details is smart too. That worker who is self-knowing enough to recognize what effort is needed, how long it will take to apply, and conquer with a work ethic is also smart. And that idea guy who can innovate a novel solution based on knowing what’s possible is also smart/the literal genius……there’s a reason that a smarter definitions of “smart” is not-dumb.

Shmart.

Well one thing that makes a humans one of the most uniquely powerful forces on Earth I think is perceptual problem solving. Saying “what don’t I understand to achieve solution” and then getting it, is genius. And we’re talking more than relabeling something — you can ‘expand’ a vocabulary by relabeling known-words with new word-sounds — but compare that with expanding a vocabulary by learning new words with new meanings.

Originally, I thought that humans had creativity over AI….and we still do for a bit longer, but if AI can still only expand a known ruleset in amazing ways, then creativity isn’t our chief advantage.

I think the actual spark of human genius is being able to see outside of what’s internalized. That ability to go from a baby with sensory overload to understanding why the sky is blue is something really special. This means that psychologists can have a certain genius that programmers reach for. Being able to see and intuit mentalities outside of our own little scope and world-view, that’s something special.

And it’s almost as if that drive to see and understand new things explains a lot about why smarty-pants are also often curious folks by nature.

If you think there’s wisdom in saying “we see everything through ourselves”, consider “it’s basic to see everything through your own lens.” Some folks are so quirky and different that understanding them isn’t a far cry from understanding why the sky is blue.

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I love my dad tons. In so many ways – including dem urges to do incredibly silly things – I’m absolutely his son. And nature’s pretty neat and means that offspring aren’t parental clones like in most 90’s cartoons. So, those differences show up too.

We also grew up in such different ages. He’s part of the baby boom generation. I’m one of the first millennials. I do think my kind should fall within a sub-genre of millennial with typical millennial distaste for later millennials, and be typed as “millennial falcons” but that’s a word-wall for later.

Dad also got to live in a one-of-a-kind kind of America. One where his parents ideals about racism were clearly shifting. Where “achievement” meant something entirely different than basic freedom or land ownership. Good households were nuclear families that never divorced, which meant that the pipe-smoking dad’s judgement was the pipe-smoking dad’s judgement. So long as the right bills were paid and no one died, it was an ok day.

But you also had weird byproducts of being of my dad’s one-of-a-kind weirdality of existence. Good men demonstrated certain rules: You got up, and went to work. (Conduct at work had a different set of rules.) You were motivated to get paid. Your worth could be tied to your demonstrated value. There are those of your kind that you’re supposed to be better than. Don’t forget lots of folks will view you as a racial token. You will get certain opportunities and are supposed to take them. “A job” is directly related to your value.

A bit of irony is that both of us are weird in what we choose to do and not do. I could almost link it to a genetic similarity. Can make us both pains in the asses. And we both had periods where it didn’t seem like the opportunities lined up right, so we did our own thing. And by “did our own thing” I mean, didn’t have “jobs”. (This is that period where I explored online stuff hard, had stints of bartending, and worked at a warehouse, and applied to be a meat inspector (no one even called me back) and dreamed and feared and lived off of savings and managed things in weird ways until I was starting to scrape by. I was also writing and getting some stuff published throughout. NYC can be tough. Behold its glory.)

Today, publishing a book is extremely easy. Publishing it successfully — where it reaches a wide audience and can become a full-time profession — is extremely hard by a factor that makes the extreme ease of having a book published shittily not deserve the word extreme. Ideally, you will have the following skills and talents:

The vision to create awesome stories.

The language skills to pen awesome stories.

The self-awareness to see imperfection in your awesome stories.

The editorial skills to perfect awesome stories.

The connection to reality that is real enough to make awesome stories relevant.

The charisma to obtain and drive a following.

The drive to connect to market.

The research skills to connect to market connections.

The marketing skills to package your awesome and perfectly edited stories to market connectors.

The support system to keep you alive enough to stay driven.

The health to not die.

The stubbornness of a lunatic, so that you will not take simpler opportunities in life.

I might be missing a couple.

I’ve been certain that I have at least some of the above. I spent some of my life reaching some writer milestones that I’m positive 95% of other people never will. And I’m sorry for how it sounds but I’m milestoning a little farther than “having written a book.” I have some things to be proud of, and there is a point where earning that pride means you have to assume lots of angles that will make you not look great, and others will attack. And I’m not referring to anything involving being a pain in the ass to others — or a jerk. I’m talking the gall to prioritize “attacking my keyboard like a shrimp attacks biofilm.” If a family member wants your energy or support, you’re gonna have to practice some time management, and others may not understand why you’re just not more at their disposal. It’s not like you can say “I’m being paid by the man, and you’re not the man so fuck off.” And pushy ones might figure “Can’t you just do that anywhere?” (No.) “What are you doing all day?” (….) “You can schedule your writing time like I can schedule the times that I am most motivated at work, right?” (Yes.) “You must not be humble in some ways.” (Could say the same for anyone with this style of thinking.)

And I don’t 100% know what my dad figured or where he fits into that weirdness. I have some guesses, like writers get hired at writer places and get to sit down and Clark Kent at a 9-5. (I mean ….I’ve also accomplished that and, there’s a reason I have two occupations listed in my taxes.) Or maybe you get some sort of agency agreement and are a professional writer paid for having an imagination and deep thoughts (maybe? But only in outlier cases, and still after a massive combination of time-spent, risk and luck.) Or that writers work “real” jobs and happen to become big ole writers. (This one I think is actually not inaccurate.) Or maybe that writers are writers no matter what, but as citizens they still also need to succeed conventionally.
I don’t know. Can only speculate.

But my dad was also my landlord for a while, and it was awful. And for stupid pride and clarity, I wasn’t regularly paying to live in his home. Family had extra property that was unoccupied, and I got to pay a discounted rate money wise, and pay for it in other ways because I’m also a family member. With greater privileges comes more responsibility, right? So maybe this made dad think he could do things as a landlord that a landlord couldn’t do to another tenant. Like show up randomly and decide a random stranger should enter my home and dissect the ceiling — no warning or notice. So we also fought. And there was one fight where he tried to use the barb that I was just marketing the third manuscript I ever penned. Said something like, “You know, are you even doing anything all day?”

I was very stern and went “Yes.” And I remember imagining a cliche then and feeling it chambered, but it also felt like a cliche and I didn’t wanna have to.

Although he kept it up.

“You know, it’s been a while since you had a real job.”

So I laid out my feeling pretty plain. It was early, and my day was being stripped, “You know, that’s a special angle for you to take. And just because I’m living off of my savings and not reporting in for some paycheck doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything. You have no idea how hard I’m working to try an succeed. No idea.

And then he said a pretty jerky thing. I’d say a parent should only say it if their kid is actually delusional, and even then I think there are superior ways to express it:

“You know, some people think you might be delusional?”

Omgerd triggered.

“Because I’m trying to do a thing that they wouldn’t?” So triggered. “Let me tell you something, I may succeed at a dream, I may not. Trying seems to be the only we’ll ever know if it was worth the shot, but let me make something clear.” I started making sure I was yelling. At this point I’m definitely yelling. “I don’t think I’m delusional because I know I don’t know if I’ll succeed. But here’s something I do know: I know I know what it takes, and how I’m working towards it much more than you do. So I know that if I don’t know, you certainly don’t either. You hear me? You have no idea how high I can fly. No idea! Now leave me alone!”

I sort of regret that these sorts of interactions happen. But, I say sort of because I recognized some really corny things later. I heard him bragging that I’ve had books published. That was like, within a month later, because it was to another plumbers-butt plumber I had to let in. Around the same time I saw him tell my aunt who was starting to demonstrate that older school mentality where “a job” sort of became a loaded statement that should be written with italics, and he started to explain to her that the world has changed and she doesn’t know what it takes. Right in front of me.

Sometimes fights are good. And I don’t want to demonstrate my dad as just a jerk because he’s certainly not. He can just be a bit of a bullheaded derp sometimes and to be fair, me too.
But this was one of those fights that maybe had a bit of an impact. He stopped being as harmfully pushy, and I think sometimes you’ve got to make others wake up by asserting the right to explore and define your own self-worth. That’s what freedom fucking is, man.

And with that said, I think I’m doing pretty damned good by today’s standards too. It’s obviously resulted from a combination of my entire family’s support and some talent, drive and skill. I want to be humble about it, but also realistic. Realistically, I’m pretty proud of lots — including my especially weird family. So I feel like I can be proud and open of some flaws, too.

/endrant

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